Oh Happy Day!

I am happy to say, I was able to get back into my blogs here at WordPress, after a lengthy absence. I was unable to remember my sign in information for the longest time, but finally I was able to get back here!!! My sister blog, Out of the Gutter Art, has been languishing also, even tho’ I have been furiously creating beautiful “Outsider” Art this whole time.

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“The Sentinel’s Prayer”, acrylic on canvas, Susan T. Martin2017

I have had many upheavals ans bumps in the road as far as my emotional well being is concerned, but with the help of God, the Ultimate Therapist, and my human therapist (who is stellar!) I have come through victorious! The triggers were many, as this is the month my Parents died, and it also houses both mine and my Mom’s birthdays. I am a JW now, so I don’t celebrate my birthday, but it still holds significance in my heart, a marking of the passage of this fragile life.

Now my associations to birthdays is a very negative one, as my Mom died on her birthday, March 21, which also heralds the first day of Spring. Also my Dad was well into the dying process at home with only me there beside him on my birthday 2 years ago. That was a horrible, horrible time, as he suffered much. In the days that seemed to drag on forever, I remember at one point whispering to him “please don’t die on my birthday Daddy…” This sounds to me now like a rather heartless and self centered request, but he understood my trauma, I believe, even in the midst of his own, and did not. Rather, he fought his last fight during the wee hours of the next morning, finally succumbing at 6:15 the next morning. What a long, dark night that was.Picture 012

I am finally not grieving the devastating sword thru my middle grief this year, but I anticipated the day with much apprehension and mental nail biting, as well as obsessive compulsive behavior, manic activity and lack of sleep. I am still feeling the effects, and most likely will have them build to a crescendo as March 21st approaches. Mom died in a less dramatic, but equally disturbing way, having to be taken to Hospice House rather than dying at home as she so desired, surrounded by her kitties. I have imprinted on my brain her sitting in her bed like a deflated teddy bear, whose sad eyes cut right thru me as she said, “Susie, I’m not ready…” However the cancer was by this point ravaging her brain, and I could not physically care for her at home.

playing around 094
here I am after Mom had died, well into my Dad’s last years of Severe Dementia and Alzheimer’s. I was his, and Mom’s sole caregiver.

I had a fourteen day vigil beside her bed, singing, praying , reading the Bible to her and holding her hand. Finally at the point of total exhaustion and grief, I fell asleep beside her, and as I dreamed of happier times, she breathed her last. Ours was a bond stronger than death, and I so eagerly anticipate the day when they are  both called out of the memorial tombs in the grand resurrection , when I will run into their arms again.

This hope is made even more sure this month as  millions of humans around the globe, and me fulfill our obligation to mark the Memorial of Jesus Christ’ death, just as he commanded us to do at the last supper. On this occasion, just hours before his death, be broke bread an drank wine with his apostles, saying, “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.”

I praise Jehovah above for the undeserved kindness He has shown by providing the life of His perfect Son as a ransom for the sins of all mankind. By this loving act, every human on earth has the chance for living forever, without sickness, mourning, pain or death on a beautifully restored Earth. I raise my hands and my voice in praise to God, and thank him for his Son, My King and Savior, Jesus Christ!Picture 018

You can join the Witnesses all around the earth at sundown on March 31st , 2018 as we join in remembering the Greatest Gift Ever given. You can ask any of Jehovah’s Witnesses for an invitation, or directions, or any other questions you may have and they will joyfully tell you. Also, the website jw.org will tell you what you need to know!

So, despite all my challenges, and mental health issues, I can take comfort that one day soon I will be reunited with all my loved ones. I also am so grateful to God for forgiving my multitude of sins by way of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I hope someone else out there

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can find this comfort also!!!

the dustbowl.

It is very dry here in South Florida. I mean popcorn-fart dry. I do not enjoy these droughts we have, I am sure no one else does. I find it particularly painful to watch all the foliage crisping up while I sprinkle my whole Social Security check’s worth of water onto it. In futility, like a dog chasing it’s tail.

I save what I can, moving the plants who still have a chance into shady areas, and setting up areas close to the water hose where I can set the most fragile ones, to be watered daily. We have a very large lot for this area, I like to see the astonishment on my friend’s faces when I show them my backyard garden with the most enormous oak they have ever seen. And my most beautiful gardens. Actually it is God’s garden, I just tend it.

I have been very fortunate to have worked with a Master Gardener in a Paradise called Sailfish Point on the very southernmost tip of Hutchinson Island. His name was Lynn, and he knew the nuts and bolts of every plant that grows here. How to grow it, feed it, water and prune it, until it gives the most glorious display. And I tried, every day, to absorb some small kernel of his knowledge. Any tree or flower growing on that golf course was fair game for me to take a seedling, a cutting, a pod- even an entire plant-if Lynn gave me the green light. This property has some interesting specimen plants who had their roots (ha ha!!) on Sailfish Point. This is a favorite of mine, he called it a “Pine Palm”, and I have only ever seen these near the ocean.110 Banyan, abandoned and vandalized 001

It actually looks much better than it did when this was taken- I have since learned to keep the centers of each group of fronds as dry as possible, or they start to rot. I eventually had to prune the whole near left section off for this very reason. I had not noticed in time that my sprinkler was dropping exactly over the center of that bunch of fronds. The tree frogs told me about it. I believe that, on the wind-swept dunes near the beach where this species grows naturally, the stiff ocean breeze would keep these trees quite dry. One thing I did learn when landscaping: Pay attention to the plants natural surroundings, and plant in as similar a position as you can.

This means that if your new shrub came from the sunny side of a slope, but under a tree that shades it in the late afternoon, then you should give it a well-drained west facing partially shaded spot. Shady in the late afternoon, that is. And pay attention to the soil where your specimen came from. Sand? Deep moist black earth? (Boy, I wish we had that here!!! That is what Pennsylvania earth is like, in the western Appalachian foothills.)

Anyway, I digress. Just be an observant gardener, and your results will please you and make all your girlfriends jealous when they come over for coffee. Another great trick to fool them into thinking you are a master gardener is to find some cheap, aged pots and planters from a Thrift store and fill them with good potting mix and fresh. blooming annuals from a nursery. Then just make sure to tend to these three or four, moving them from place to place near your front walkway or doorstoop (stoop?) (stop?) area. Even if the rest of your yard looks like poo, keep tending these few- Miracle Grow anyone?-and you will blow them all away with your mad skills. Observe:my new hair, and stuff to sell 022

See how the yard is pretty plain behind my little front patch of flowers? I am SO sneaky! I rearrange the pots as some flowers fade or I just have a whim, taking the shabby looking pots around back to be reworked at a later date.

And I just love taking objects that totally look like they do not belong outside and placing them around my garden for focal points. Broken plates (pretty ones) make nice edging, old chairs you were going to throw away make a great plant stand with a coat of bright spray paint!

That old carved owl was a throw away from a friend- I kept it in the garden till it just fell all apart. and we had bunches of leftover ceramic tile from when I did the house, so Dad started using it to edge the beds, and it looks pretty spiffyIMG_20140507_114010I Has been fun sharing this with you all, I feel ready for my own T.V. show now:

” The Sneaky Crafty Artsy Lady Gardener Show”!

I am keeping my prayers focused on Jehovah’s promises for a new world where righteousness will dwell, and where there will be no more pain, suffering, war or death. I pray that we can all be there one day soon.! I’m ready to live in a peaceful world!

Goodnight!

That Brave Girl

Artwork and Pictures 074
this is not the one i am entering. this is titled “Angry Daughter”.

The decision to enter my painting in an art show at a real art gallery was easy to make. I believe I am being motivated by fear, having learned while Pops was in hospital that I will basically be destitute after he dies or if he must be placed in a home. I had always hoped that I could make a living with my art, knew I could, really, but I never wanted to let anyone see it. It isn’t that I am ashamed, it is just so personal. That is my heart on the canvas, my veins torn open, my blood on the page.

I never wanted to sell out. to allow complete strangers to dissect my innermost thoughts, to critique my self expression. My life has been so full of can’ts:

You aren’t a boy, Susan. You can’t play ball like that.

You can’t just draw from your imagination- you must be trained properly.

You can’t go to art school, it is not realistic.

You are too sensitive, you can’t take everything to heart.

YES I CAN!!!!

The latest critic in my life is an elderly aunt, who believes she has my best interest at heart by terrifying me about my future. She wan’ts me to look into selling my antiques, selling my china, selling my whole sense of home and safety in preparation for the big nothingness that she keeps reminding me that looms ahead when Dad dies.

I try very hard to be smilingly pleasant on the phone with her, but it is the most negative words she can say. She totally does not understand my bipolar disorder or depression. I absolutely CAN NOT focus on what MIGHT happen. I will dwell on it, I will obsess about it, and if I am not careful, I will drink and drug over it. Her constant warnings of doom will be a self fulfilling prophecy for me.

Afterward
Afterward

I was on my own for many years without any material possessions, and those were some of the most meaningful years of my life. Meaningful in that I learned how to survive happily with nothing, that I appreciated every single meal, blanket, pot, pan, article of clothing, tree, water faucet, sunrise- and every single human being who crossed my path.

I was much younger, sure, but I learned how to SURVIVE. And I succeeded.

Jesus had no place to lay his head- he lived by faith. He lived free, and appreciated all His Father’s blessings. He did not fear not knowing where he would sleep, what he would eat, and the Bible counsels us to follow in his footsteps.Picture 012

I do not want to sell Mom’s china, and I won’t. If I have to eat dog food on it in the dark, then that is what I will do. I will use my considerable brain function to keep my head above the proverbial water, but not by selling the things I hold dear, or by giving into fear of what may or may not happen.blue luster ware, bavaria 257

virginia rose antique china
virginia rose antique china
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after I lost 70 pounds in 2010! (now I have to lose it again!!)

books 178 books 173

If something good can come out of my anger at her doubt in me, it is that I am taking a leap of faith and taking my painting to the Gallery.

And I might just take a binder on my writings to an editor while I am at it!

So thank you Auntie Doubtful for the motivation. I remember that I am still the brave girl who jumped on a freight train and rode across Arizona, hitchhiked through 6 states, dumpster dove for greasy Mcdonald’s burgers, and that they tasted like T-bones!

I am the brave girl who worked 27 jobs in 25 years, rigged for the crane building Missle Silos, worked with Belgians and Shires and Clydesdales and Andalusians, and groomed the Atlanta Police department’s horses, learned to decorate cakes and operate forklifts, did lawn maintenance and worked on the tip of an island in the Atlantic. I have befriended train tramps and illegal immigrants, and helped a 15 year old Mexican kid hide in a grain car to get to his uncle’s house, his only relative in this world! I have accepted gifts of food, and given some, accepted rides and given many, and I have loved and believed in the very best of my fellow man, and I also believe in myself.

I am the brave girl who survived rape ad beatings, being stabbed and shot at, falling in holes and having horses roll on me, having a riding lawnmower flip over on me, divorcing a dangerous man, jail, drug addiction, alcoholism, hepatitis C, and the death of my beloved Mom, and losing my sanity, and I am still standing, even if it is crooked.

I am that brave girl, and I am a survivor.100_1559100_1629

That Brave Girl!
That Brave Girl!

Moving Images by S.T. Martin2012


 moving images

out of the swirling mists of time

images flit like scenes on a movie screen.

her dark hair in short cut, smooth and sleek,

lying coyly against perfect curve of cheek.

next image of child with chopped-off bangs

standing forlornly in kitchen doorway,

little striped cotton pants fall low,

eyes peer cautiously into lamplight’s glow.

through fog i see her glance at me:

mother’s gaze, so full of certainty.

daughter will survive harsh world,

grow into a brave, steady girl.

how wrong she was, this mother mine

lost now to cruel winds of time

for tumult wrecked the childhood lost

onto rocky shore fair dream was tossed.

i awaken to alarm clock’s clang

begin another drudgey day to slog,

put memory away till later time

when night’s embrace again lets film unwind.

by S.T. Martin   c. 2012

Whispers from a Distant Past

The receptionist wasn’t fired! I feel so much better now!!

I made it to the appt. I had at noon today at the Mental Health Facility.( I will make an effort not to berate myself or others with mental health issues by calling the place by derogatory names. So, I will abbreviate it to M.H.F.) I was there to see my new therapist, to replace the one who left last year w/out saying bye. I wound up taking Father along, the caregiver was off this morning. I didn’t know how this would pan out, I figured he would probably sit in the car, and I would pop in his Carpenter’s Greatest Hits tape, which he adores.

I was heroic in getting to the MHF on time, and when I saw my new lady, I was pleased. She looked nice enough, maybe I could open up to her. We got through the introductions, and then the meat of the evaluation began. And the memories came, great shovels full as if one of the snow plows up north were dumping the past on top of me. I was buried in the chair.

The drugs, rapes, fighting, crimes and all the other dirty little secrets came out for her to document. See, she had my file, so she already knew. But she wanted to hear me SAY it. And it was vile. The flashing image of sitting wide eyed in a crack house for days, heart ready to burst from the coke. The other images, the ones I can’t speak of, all painted in blood red on the walls of my mind. Sad memories. Sad…

But I am here, and I am going to get through this, without the ship capsizing, this time. When I finished with the gory then, I was SO proud to tell her about the glorious NOW!! Fifteen SOLID years clean and sober! A woman of courage now, full of zeal, wanting to tell my fellow humans that there is a way out of that terrible life, a way out of that pit. I suddenly remembered, while I was nailed to my chair, that I have made huge strides with the help of my God and friends. Strides away from morally degrading things, like blackouts and regret for my actions. The changes God has helped me make with my uncontrolled hate and anger- to a point where I have gently cared for my Dad with his FRUSTRATING illness for years, without hitting walls or breaking dishes. I can’t believe I can say this, but I am a clean and upright, law abiding citizen now!!!

Now, do not think that I believe these changes were miraculous, or that I somehow am different than other addicts, alcoholics, or any other ” sinner”. In my past, before I was able to get clean and sober, I made it my goal to be as low down mean as a woman can get. I was a fighter- really!- and I seethed with hatred for authority. I had many, many issues. I was battered, and I battered back.

I never thought I would live any other way. But when I was ready, and I surrendered, became teachable, and put down the drugs and alcohol, and followed the 12 step programs, something happened. It was slow, but my vision started to clear. I began to see myself in a new light, a kinder, softer light. If I had not died in the life I was in, maybe I could be like these others at the meeting, with their hair combed, clothes clean. Maybe I could care about myself, maybe I could care about someone else. What I had dreaded was now as pleasant as honey on my tongue.the little voice of the girl I was born as began to be audible to me.

I thanked my “Higher Power” often in prayer each day, and kept a daily gratitude journal. No matter what, I had to write down 3 things I was grateful for each day. I got a sponsor, and I followed what she suggested. I made amends where I could, then let God have the rest.

As the years past though, I was still crying all the time, depressed nearly everyday. I never felt happy, and there was a void. Fortunately for me, one of the other members of the 12 step program strongly suggested I seek help from mental health professionals. I did, and my life really opened up. I still have had to make a huge effort to learn new ways, even with the meds, and a correct diagnosis. And another thing that has brought me so much comfort is my relationship with Jehovah. I am a peaceful person now, and He has taught me how to love through His Son Jesus. He never abandoned me, I had turned my back on Him.

Now His word, the Bible, and His holy spirit(active force), and my faith in the Ransom Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, lead me into greener pastures every single day. the beauty of His creation shines through my windows each morning, and He helps me with my brothers and sisters in the congregation who love me. I had forgotten how I got here, and how amazing and wonderful it is. When I was baptized by full water immersion and made a public declaration of my dedication the Jehovah God, a light started to show in my eyes, my whole countenance has changed too. Now I see the happiness in myself that I had only ever seen in other people, even with all my struggles.

Oh, I’m noholy roller, I make mistakes every day. I swear many times, and I watch violent Tv, but I keep trying to do better, and God forgives me when I repent. I really struggle to be acceptable to my God. But Jehovah knows that I am made of dust, He knows my heart. And he knows yours too.

Please never give up on yourself, God doesn’t!

joy is strawberry cake!!
joy is strawberry cake!!

Some of My Poems

                                         Father’s Going

I know he despairs of living.

the end yaws inexorably before him,

it’s jaws grinning, gaping.

why can’t I help this man I love,

(and loathe)

to go in a gentle, meaningful way,

taking his pain with him?

please stay, daddy…

forever with me, please ?

who will I take care of, who will drive me

insane?

with his neediness,

his wonderfulness.

wishing you were here,

even when you’re here.

I have been losing you

all my life.

c. Susan T. Martin 7/9/13