Friday, November 21, 2014

Some Houses are Meant to be Part of the Family

We once found and rented a 120+ year old two story farmhouse that had gone through few renovations since it was built. It stood down an almost 1/4 mile winding driveway, a thick grove of trees to it's north, a few old barns and outbuildings around it, and otherwise surrounded by fields. It had stood empty for years before we talked the owner into renting it to us.
It took almost 2 months to clean out all the debris, and we caught dozens of mice every night. There were holes in the living room floor, the ancient wallpaper was peeling off the walls in places, the basement was only 6' deep, made of stone walls with a dirt floor. We had the ancient floor furnaces inspected and cleaned, thankfully they were operational. There was no source of heat for the three upstairs bedrooms.
The washer and dryer sat on an old, enclosed porch with no heat, so we dealt with freezing pipes until we wrapped them with heat tape.
That house was probably my favorite place we ever lived.
The owner's nephew and his family needed a place to live, and less than a year after moving in, we were given 30 days to vacate. We were heartbroken. Karma got her say in the matter, however - the state came in and condemned the place because it was found there was no septic system, it drained into a field. I was always thankful we weren't living there in the end.
It's since been torn down, and a cotton gin built in it's place. I wish I could have rescued the bull's eye woodwork and the claw-foot tub before they tore it down, but I try not to think about it.

Coming home to that house felt more welcoming than any we've ever lived in. I'm sure the spirits of previous owners appreciated our love of the place, and welcomed us. Houses have their own spirits, too, I think, and some are needier than others. Some of them, like that farmhouse, are just meant to be a part of our lives, even if only for a short while.

I talked of this house recently to a friend, and this week Rick and I happened on a vacant house in the county here in this county, a tiny house, with a good roof. Isolated on a deep sand road, surrounded by prairie grasses and weeds. It feels like it needs to be a part of our life for a time, too. We're going to be contacting the owner soon about whether he will rent it to us. If it's meant to be, he will say yes. If it's not, we'll keep on looking. God gave us this dream, and He has a place in mind.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Look Up, People!

Blackbirds in the Cottonwoods

Look Up, People

Oblivious humans,
trudging from car to store
through the super-size parking lot,
with their lists of things they hope
will make their lives
more meaningful,
thinking of anything but
this moment,
while over their heads
a ribbon of a thousand joyful starlings
perform a precision ballet
diving, spinning, swirling
against a fiery Autumn sunset.

© Anita Hohl 2014

Saturday, October 18, 2014

She Is Only Sleeping

Winter, 2013


Being on the edge of winter
feels like Death looking 
over my shoulder - I dread it's coming.

But when I turn around to face it,

I see only a silent old man,
his pockets full of sand
for Mother Nature's
sweet sleep.

© Anita Hohl 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

Is It Ever "Too Late"?

This morning's sunrise

     After a childhood where I was constantly judged, belittled, and bullied by my peers (and my mother) I have become this person who constantly expects that from anyone I'm around, except Rick and the kids.

     I am never "myself" in person with others as I am when I'm alone, connecting with people online. I am "authentic" online, in writing, but when I am physically present with anyone I find it hard to look people in the eyes, and constantly look for ways to escape, or at least shrink back into the shadows, unnoticed. It's one of the reasons I communicate so much better in written words than when speaking.

     I commiserate with the Wizard of Oz when he says, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!" Only for me, it's "Pay no attention to the woman at the keyboard, only the image projected through the screen!"

     After 47 years you'd think I'd have found a way to feel safe around people, but it just hasn't happened.

"In a study published in 2003 in the journal Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a team of Canadian researchers examined the effects of exposure to bullying on a person's long-term chances of developing an anxiety-related condition such as social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The authors of the study concluded that more than 90 percent of the study participants diagnosed with social anxiety disorder(social phobia was the term used by the authors) self-reported a personal history that included extreme exposure to teasing from others. By contrast, only half of the participants with OCD reported an extreme teasing history, while only one-third of the participants with panic disorder reported such a history." - taken from THIS ARTICLE
     So reading this, I've learned that at least my experience isn't unusual. It's sad to me that this happens to others, too, though. It's almost an emotional-social  "PTSD". There are many other studies out there now saying the same thing.  THIS ARTICLE even says that bullying causes physical changes in the brain.
     So, now all I need to do is figure out how to work through this without the help of a professional. Those of us who can't afford that kind of help are at a serious disadvantage, but surely there is a way though this. I've found lots of articles to read about "recovery". Is it ever too late for recovery? Is the damage permanent? A bible study of how God sees us (me), our worth in His eyes, may help, now that I'm thinking about it.

"What then shall we say in response to these things? 
If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31

     I can say these things to others and believe them 100% - why can I not believe them for myself? Is it the physical changes in my brain that prevent me from making that connection on a personal level? so many things to wonder about... I many never know the answer or find the way out. But I'll keep trying.
Please - don't minimize the seriousness of SA because you don't feel it... and don't try the "buck up" speech. Similar to the "snap out of it" speech frequently given to people who are clinically depressed, it is very demeaning, and doesn't help anyone.
"How can a Christian overcome social anxiety?"