Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy New Year From TPC Studio

What a season it has been! Christmas is over and it was truly a family event (and without huge dysfunctional issues), for the first time in years. New Years, and my dad's birthday, are both a few days away. Soon, a whole new year starts up over again. I look back on this last year and smile. It's amazing..a year of growth and more happiness than I've ever known before. Seriously. Putting my foot down on family abuse has been beneficial to the family. I can see it and it feels good. We still have our differences but I see progress and this makes me feel proud.

As for my stores, I have been adding products, organizing and making sure everything runs ok. Their growth spurs me on to do even more, expand it all and get more efficient on how I do everything for it. I'm passionate about doing it right, and see a lot of new improvements that must be made in the coming year. I handle it all bit by bit, so not to overwhelm myself with the big picture of all that needs to be done. It's all doable.

Then there's my teeth. Tests have been done and my next appointment will enlighten me on the cosmetic dentist's plan of attack. It will take some time to do the work, but that's ok because the man is an artist, making teeth look beautiful. I've seen "before/after" books of his work and it is all stunning. He even gives me big price breaks on procedures since I have no dental insurance. I am forever grateful. It means a lot to say goodbye to broken teeth hurting my gums, having trouble chewing, etc. Not to mention it will benefit my health by losing the infected teeth. They are a drain on my energy. It's such a big deal to do this work right, and retain the bone structure in my mouth. Posts will be drilled, teeth will be sculpted, it's a big job. I welcome all of it. Just load me up with Nitrous Oxide or put me out (he's a surgeon)..that's ok with me.

The cats have had a really fun holiday. This has been Matisse's first Christmas here with us and he has been having a blast! He plays with his toys under the tree, snoozes with Beau among the new toys, and loves the box the new toys came in. Beau is in kitty bliss with the new toys, and loves to act like a sprightly little spring-loaded kitten when nobody's looking. I've caught him spazzing out with a toy or two in his paws, and it's hysterical to watch this big white furrball just throwing caution to the wind and letting it all hang out.

This is our first holiday season in this lovely home, too. I thank God we found it and are here, it is wonderful and looks so beautiful all decorated up and given some love. I have big plans for this place, adding gardens and putting in more curtains to start. The upstairs bedrooms will be better outfitted later, my office needs better chairs and more shelving. I'm in no hurry and plan it out in time, to make it the way I want it to be.

Having a peaceful home is very important to me, far from the excruciatingly painful and stupid Queen Bee histrionic tirades I endured in childhood. I used to hide at the horse barn or in my room to stay away from her temper, and keep a low profile since anything could set off tantrums, anger or hysteria. As a middle-aged adult, I still relish the glorious feeling of peace at home. Total peace. No drama, insanity or cruelty. Just love. My pets have never known fear here with me. And they never will. Being alone feels wonderful. No complications or worry. I can work on my business, which is my true love, and not feel guilty, too.

In the new year I hope to have some time to take a course or two at the local university. It would be helpful to learn more business techniques and computer programs. In order to grow the business, I have to know exactly how to do that. A big puzzle to figure out, but a fun one, once it makes sense.

To all who read this, I wish you a very Happy New Year from my house to yours. Here's to a happy and healthy new year ahead!

Custom T-Shirts google-site-verification: google7067dc8e96d74570.html The Fine Artwork of Carolyn McFann

Friday, December 09, 2011

It's the Holiday Season Here in the NE Ohio Countryside

After months of working on many, many products for my store, I'm finally taking a break from it all for the moment, anyways. When I can't think straight and my eyes don't focus as well, it's time to rest. So, I'm enjoying some holiday shopping online, just sleeping, and working on projects around the house. Things I had little to no energy for when I was focused on non-stop marathon work. It's fun to work on this ornate table that I'm refinishing. The process is slow and tedious to work on all the nooks and crannies on it with sandpaper but I like detail, so it's all enjoyable to me.

Later in the month, I'm going to the dentist in preparation for some major dental work. First come all the tests then he will make my teeth better looking than they ever were before, while getting rid of some problems in my mouth. My teeth have been the bain of my existence for many years and cost me a lot of money here and there fixing broken teeth. So, one by one, they are going to be redone. Thank goodness for a good cosmetic dental surgeon and a generous supply of novacaine/nitrous oxide! Bring it, doctor, I'm ready.

Last week I got around to putting up the new lace curtains I'd bought a few months ago, in my bedroom. They are just gorgeous, very elegant looking and they don't block too much light out. Perfect. And it transformed the room from basically plain and unremarkable to Buckingham Palace elegance in the blink of an eye. Adding LED window "candles" with sensors to each window afterwards gives the whole house a holiday flair, too. The warm, golden glow looks so beautiful at night against the reflections of the curtains. Love it.

Being as picky as I am about things like curtains, this was a total score! Now, to buy and install more in the other bedrooms and then work on the downstairs windows. By taking time and looking for the perfect drapes, it's all planned out carefully. One room at a time.

The cats have been really enjoying themselves, following eachother here and there, snoozing together underneath the Christmas tree and playing with their toys. They've been very well-behaved, for the most part, when it comes to sharing their house with holiday decorations. This is Matisse's first Christmas here, and he's been enjoying himself playing with (unbreakable) ornaments, hung specifically for him at the base of the tree. He can sit and entertain himself for hours, whacking away at a gold, sparkly "icicle". Beau likes the new toys I bought them. Since Matt came to be with us, Beau has learned to play more. The two of them have been quite the team, just like biological siblings. Sometimes they play-fight, at other times they chirp to one another in a cute little language (being deaf, how do they know that they're communicating?!).

As I sit here in my living room, coffee in hand and a fire in the fireplace, my mind is relaxed and peaceful. Stillness feels good. No husband to give me grief, no boyfriends to worry about, just friends and family, whenever I want to see them. Being a tradition-loving person, it's so wonderful to finally have roots down after previous years of ambitious travel and socializing. Moving out to the country and settling here was the best move I possibly could do. Living in the city is totally overrated. Here there is fresh air to breathe, deer to see outside my windows, and decent shopping within a half hours' drive from here. Not to mention the numerous equestrian sport barns all around. I lived in places like Mexico and Florida to find paradise, when in truth, living in Ohio turned out to be my paradise all along.

Custom T-Shirts google-site-verification: google7067dc8e96d74570.html The Fine Artwork of Carolyn McFann

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Holiday Season is Now Here

It's now late November. Thanksgiving and Black Friday have now passed, and Cyber Monday is now approaching. I really don't like shopping in crowds so I have been home, working on making products for my store and digesting wonderful turkey leftovers.

It was a very memorable Thanksgiving with mom and dad here at my house. Finally free of Thanksgivings at that snobby, rude and nasty lady's house (her daughter and husband were nice but she was just terrible). It's so wonderful to have my parents to myself, spending quality time without fighting or socializing with others. Something we haven't had the chance to do on Thanksgiving in over ten years, at least. And the food this year was far superior to previous years elsewhere. As a team, the three of us chopped, assembled, made pies, and everything else to create a feast beyond description. Dad made his mother's pumpkin pie recipe, mom overseed the stuffing and turkey. I helped make stuffing, stuffed the turkey and made a ton of mashed potatoes. Nothing was burned and it all was perfect!

Now, I have a refrigerator full of amazing leftovers, as do my parents. We split it all up so they could take half when they went home. The cats didn't care to eat much of anything. Matt had a little turkey but Beau was totally uninterested as usual and had his canned food instead. Nobody went hungry, we all ate our fair share and are continuing to do so, even a few days later.

It's amazing how controlled mom was, I am so proud of her for not being angry and overly domineering. The meds she takes help for sure. She was bossy but that's not too bad. I respect her knowledge on cooking, as she's an amazing cook. She even started getting out of control with her attitude but somehow, miraculously roped herself back in! She was more respectful and able to hear other views than her own. I nearly cried it was such a step in the right direction. I am very thankful for this, along with all of us being in good health. We all have a lot to be thankful for. This first Thanksgiving in my house was a total success.

Now I'm back to making products for my store, putting up the Christmas tree and decorating the house in general for Christmas. The homemade wreath I made is on the front door, the mantle of the fireplace is decorated with garland, candles and other sparkly, festive items such as candleholders, poinsettia and more. I ordered window candles that should come this week, to finish my decorating off, and give this house that extra holiday flavor. Mom and dad thought of the same thing and got window candles for thier house, too. We all decorate with our pets' safety in mind, as cats think decorations are playtoys most of the time. So far, so good!

Matt and Beau have been enjoying themselves. They hang out in front of the fireplace or under the Christmas tree, enjoying the lights. As for me, the ambience is so wonderful. I love it when the living room and kitchen have decorative touches and lovely warm lighting to make them glow. Bouquets of very realistic silk flowers I assembled earlier in the month are here and there to add touches of color to it all. It's all good.

Custom T-Shirts google-site-verification: google7067dc8e96d74570.html The Fine Artwork of Carolyn McFann

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Getting Ready for the Holiday Season

It's early November, we've already had our first snowfall here in Ohio and winter is coming..along with the holiday shopping season. I'm busy getting my store ready with new products, keeping me busy designing day and night. It's not work to me but fun as I sit here in my recliner or at my desk, at the computer, organizing and publishing my designs. On either side of me are the cats, both of them are never far away. It's cute seeing them happily sleep on their "thrones" (an ottoman and an old desk chair).As for me, I have my fire in the fireplace, tv on as I work and a pot of coffee to keep me going. Many years back I tortured myself by working for others, sitting in cubicles doing things I hated to do. How wonderful it is to work here at home, in peace and relative quiet. To me, atmosphere is very important for focusing and concentrating.

All is going well between myself and my parents. Yes, mom is still difficult (even on her antidepressant meds, which she's finally taking)but I take it in stride the best I can. Boundaries. I don't want or like drama orconflict (which she thrives upon),so I enforce my boundaries when needed. It works. She thinks I'm "grouchy" or angry at times, but she says that about anyone who doesn't do what she wants. I am above it and just keep going. Life is good and nobody is going to ruin it for me. Peace and happiness are what I want out of life. We all did amazingly well together when the three of us went for breakfast in Little Italy (I haven't been there in years!) and drove around areas I haven't seen in awhile before going to the Designer sale over at Legacy Village last week. It feels so great when the family all gets along :)

In driving around in our old stomping grounds (Beachwood, Lyndhurst, S.Euclid, Cleveland Hts, Mayfield, etc) it was fascinating to see how the years have changed things. Cedar Center's plaza has been mostly razed on one side, just gone, and on the other, everything has been changed. Some neighborhoods we used to drive through when I was a kid have deteriorated, some shopping areas have improved. It's hard to believe I've lived so long to see such major differences in cities, neighborhoods. The improvements to some places makes my memories of how it once was seem quite aged and almost prehistoric. It's surprising and fascinating at the same time. Time moveth on.

At the fashion sale, it was the last day and everything was half off. I got three leather coats, adding some style back into my wardrobe. I'd given some of my old clothes away, including stylish old coats when I moved to
Florida years ago so it's nice to have coats that aren't just utilitarian but also are attractive. One coat is long, down-filled and leather, that should keep me very warm here in the snow belt of Ohio. Mom got a bunch of clothes. Unfortunately there weren't mens' clothes at this event, but dad will be getting his own clothes on his own soon. Good! He deserves it!

My tulip bulbs have been planted, along with an onion (originally from the supermarket but it started sprouting so I just planted it in the garden and it took hold). Planting is over now. Chickadees come to my birdfeeder here and there, all the leaves are now off the trees outside. My hibiscus trees are doing well inside, adding a little greenery and flowers to my otherwise plant-challenged decor. I keep a  fire in the fireplace most of the time, so it feels cozy in here.

I'm thinking of putting decorations up for Christmas but am too short to hang lights outside so I'd need to hire someone to do that. Maybe just a nice wreath and decorate the hearth and stairwell/landing upstairs with greenery. It takes ungluing myself from work. After finishing my work, my energy is nearly gone, so maybe taking a day off from work will be the best idea. I'll put up a Christmas tree, but will wait until after Thanksgiving to do that. Tradition. Matt loves to play so I may have to leave the bottom of the tree undecorated or there will be ornaments (or in his mind, "cool, new cat toys") all over the house! :) He's so cute, like a big, furry white kitten. Beau doesn't play much but Matisse makes up for that for sure.

I'm watching a Harry Potter marathon as I write at the moment. Great movies. Yes, I'm a Potter-nerd :) I have to get the last movie still, it just came out in the stores. Next week, it will be mine. I never tire of watching the Potter movies, with their beautiful scenery and likeable main characters. Those movies are pure creativity in many ways. Love them.

Time to go back to work now. Yawn. I'm designing plates, laptop cases, notepads and much more right now. I dream about my work. It's a passion..and I must keep going. It's a wonderful thing and so very worth it all.

Custom T-Shirts google-site-verification: google7067dc8e96d74570.html The Fine Artwork of Carolyn McFann

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Joy of Autumn

It's glorious Fall here in Northeastern Ohio, and I love it! The trees are coloring up so beautifully here in the country. It looks like a pastoral country postcard here with rolling hills and various colors of foliage and purple asters everywhere. I turned the heat on here in the house recently, and bought a lovely fireplace insert so now I have a lovely and safe "fire" in the fireplace. My cat Matisse loves to sleep in one of the recliners next to the fireplace every day. Both him and Beau are fascinated and get mesmorized by the flames. It's so cute to see.

As for me, this is my busy season, non-stop drawing and designing products for my online store, Two Purring Cats Clothing & Gifts. Right now I'm designing covers for Blackberry Curve, Samsung Galaxy and Apple iPhone. It's fun but there's MANY to do so I am working on it pretty much 24/7 right now, with a cat on either side of me while the marathon goes on.

This weekend I will pry myself away from my work to plant many, many bulbs in my garden. Tulips and Anenomes, mostly. It will be so pretty in the spring, I hope they prosper and grow like crazy in the soil here. There is much to do in the garden. Whenever I work on it, the cats sit in the windows overlooking it and watch. Cat TV. It's cute to look up and see them there. Being deaf and housecats, they don't go outside but don't seem to care about that. Both of them are content watching tv, being wherever I am and meowing loudly in the stairwell just for the heck of it (especially early in the morning..like roosters crowing). I have opera cats! :D

I finally bought a new refrigerator, so for the first time since I got this house, I have a large-sized fridge to use, instead of the dorm room sized cube fridge that is now upstairs in my office there. It feels so good to shop in the stores now, and not needing to worry about squishing my groceries into a tiny space! The new fridge is a dream, so glad it's here!

Custom T-Shirts google-site-verification: google7067dc8e96d74570.html The Fine Artwork of Carolyn McFann

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall is Here, Life is Good

It's a lazy Sunday afternoon here, outside it's pouring down rain but the sky is half bright and sunny. Thunder is booming in the distance, but the sound of rain is relaxing. I like days like this, with no need to go anywhere or do anything. Just peace, quiet, the cats sleeping nearby and the computer on, as I research my next drawing. Earlier I made some Chinese food, Honey Chicken (well,heated it up anyways), for lunch. Very satisfying.

Yesterday I took the neighbor kids out to the movies, to see The Lion King in 3D. Mom wanted to go, so she went too. Aside from mom harshly criticizing my driving (I drove fine, she just always needs to control/stir some sort of drama up about whatever), she behaved herself the rest of the time, and all went pretty well. The kids had fun, I bought them a refillable bucket of popcorn so they chowed down like crazy on that. What a cute movie, the artistry of the animation and background scenery was just gorgeous.

After the movie was done, we walked to the car and little Eden (she's I think, 8 years old) was giving her younger sister Joy a hard time in the back of the car. Little tempers were beginning to flare because they both wanted to sit in the window, not in the middle. Poor little Joy, I told Eden to scoot over so her little sister could sit in the window. She folded her arms and wouldn't budge, defiantly. I told her "No problem, we aren't going anywhere until you move over, and I have all day, so you can choose what you're going to do about it." Next thing I know, I saw her discreetly moving herself over, millimeter by millimeter. He he, it worked. I waited until Joy had enough space to be comfortable (a few minutes) and then we left. All was fine after that. It's interesting to see how their little squabbles quickly dissipate and are forgotten. We all enjoyed the drive home, and after dropping everyone off, I went home and took a nap.

I would love to have the energy of three kids under 13, their youthful ways are fun to be around but it feels good to go home and recuperate afterwards. They are three of ten (soon to be eleven)kids! Their parents are saints, how they handle them all so well without losing their tempers. They treat them all equally, with respect and a gentle firmness. Being an "only", it's interesting to see them all relate with one another so well.

So today is a day of total rest. This coming week I get my new refrigerator delivered as well as the fireplace insert I ordered, making the fireplace complete for the upcoming cold weather season. After much research, I got both of these items at good prices. When the quality and price is right, I buy. It will be wonderful to have a working fireplace, making the living room even more of a comfortable place than it already is. As for the refrigerator, the new one is big, so I can finally retire my small cube-sized fridge to my upstairs office, to hold pop and milk only. It has served me well but it's hard using such a small refrigerator on a full-time basis. I had it down to an art form, shades of college dorm rooms!

Next month I plan on taking Meraiah, the oldest girl, horseback riding. Her first lesson! She's all excited about it and I know she's going to love it. We've been to the farm where the lesson will be, a lovely farm with nice people, quality horses and inexpensive lesson prices. My kind of place. My back is sufficiently healed up enough to ride by now, and I look forward to jumping again. I'm still as incorrigibly horse crazy as I was when younger, just a little more creaky, that's all. Stiffness won't stop me from doing it, though, not at all. In time I plan on getting another horse when the time is right, so I'm going to enjoy getting back into the swing of my old passion of riding again.

The sky looks like a Michaelangelo painting out there, very dramatic clouds of different hues, rays of sun coming from them. The rain is over now, and all is quiet again. Time to watch some tv and be useless. Love it.

Custom T-Shirts google-site-verification: google7067dc8e96d74570.html The Fine Artwork of Carolyn McFann

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The 9/11 Tragedy, Ten Years Later

Rest in peace, all who died as a result of the tragedy on 9/11/2001. You are not forgotten.

All day I've been working on the computer while watching the recap of the tragedy on 9/11, ten years ago but it feels just like yesterday. I remember it just like it was yesterday, though. All those people, just gone. It's just beyond comprehension. And quite a few of those who worked so hard on the wreckage have cancer and other physical ailments as a result of their bravery. Then there's the families and those who survived the carnage, only to end up with Post Traumatic Stress and grief over losing friends and/or loved ones. It's just so terribly unfair.

When 9/11 hit ten years ago, I was at a hotel in Las Vegas, having flown there the night before by my ex-boyfriend, who was attending a huge professional bakers' convention there. Here we were in a lovely high-rise on the 15th floor, in a pretty suite overlooking the city. I had the flu (caught the day before, what bad luck), and didn't do much since my head was spinning, but I turned on the Today show the morning of the 11th and witnessed the collapse of the Twin Towers and the rest of the horrible chain of events. It was surreal, terrifying (especially since they targeted American Airlines, the airline I'd flown in on the night before).

Nearby McCarran airport the night before had a steady flow of planes flying in and out, which could be seen from our suite window the night I got there. On 9/11 all planes stopped, of course, and instead there was a jet fighter plane circling the city, guarding it. Las Vegas would've been an easy target, so loaded with large crowds of people and high-rises (such as the one we were staying in). The city still operated after the tragedy but in a subdued, guarded way. The Forum shops were off-limits, closed, as was some of the attractions. When we went to the nearby Hoover Dam, state troopers inspected cars and asked questions before all of us were allowed to cross it, and we weren't allowed to stop on it at all.

When my ex and I had lunch at Caesar's Palace, we watched people across the way all watching the tragedy on many monitors on walls, normally used for horse race gambling, I think. You could've heard a pin drop, it was so very quiet. I remember feeling overwhelmed with sadness, and how I wanted to go help those working at the site in NYC. Being sick with the flu, that wasn't going to happen. My ex and I had a rental van, so we drove to southern California after his convention wrapped up. Wherever we went, I was glued to the tv, trying to get updates on what was going on. It was too devastating an event to not be aware of what was happening. As we drove around, we saw crowds of people waving American flags and holding signs in support of the USA. It was wonderful to see such solidarity of people all over, we all needed comfort during this time, and seeing the people together like this was heartwarming.

My ex and I went to see Jay Leno at the Tonight show, it was the first show after a respectful break away from comedy at that time. We ended up in the front row there at the studio, the place was freezing cold. Jay wheeled out a motorcycle and stars such as Tom Cruise and Arnold Schwartzennegger came to sign it. The motorcycle was eventually auctioned off on Ebay, with the proceeds going to the families of 9/11. A very noble cause indeed.

After nearly three weeks away, we drove the rental van across the US, back east to home. We'd been in constant contact with my parents in Ohio, since the tragedy was a confusing, scary time for us all. Our trip wasn't joyous or fun (who could have fun after experiencing such a major loss of innocent, good people?) This trip was more a study of humanity as we'd seen so many people out and about as we drove, showing flags, displaying them on cars and shirts, and everyone seemed to be more open with one another. We talked to others in restaurants about the tragedy more than we ever would've previously, as everyone was grieving together. An interesting lesson in human psychology, more or less.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's Beginning to Feel Like Fall Around Here

Fall is coming, with its cool temperatures and colorful leaves..I can't wait. At night it is actually kind of cold now, which is wonderful. After living ten years down in hot Florida, I really enjoy the cooler temperatures now, along with fuzzy blankets and clothes. It's almost that time, love it.

My parents showed up at my door a few days ago. I was surprised but sort of happy to see them, after all they're my parents, no matter how frustrating our family dynamics are. They stayed for a half hour or so, and we talked as if nothing had gone wrong. There was no talk of anything negative, just everyday, normal topics. It felt good to talk with them, as I have missed them. I still know that mom is on her good behavior right now, and will revert to her mean side the longer we spend time with one another, but the short visit brought no problems and for that I am very grateful.

I showed them around the house, so they could see how I've decorated and painted it so far. The cats enjoyed being petted by them, and all was good. I feel relieved that we are getting along, no matter how inconsistent things can be, but I'll take any good times I can get with them, since it's not easy being away from people I do love. Things are not back to normal yet between us, but it's a start. I still don't feel like falling into her spider web again, where she tries to dictate what I should or shouldn't do (at their house) so I will be friendly but still fairly detached, for my own safety. Boundaries.

Otherwise, I've been busy working on my website and starting new drawings, since I now have a new computer tablet, bought on Ebay for a fraction of it's original price (yet still brand new). It feels great to be back in the swing of work again, after a very long break to move and settle in the house. My office is more efficient now than it was previously in the old apartment, and in a much better environment. I can watch birds at the birdfeeders as I work.

Soon I plan to put a downpayment on a really beautiful canopy bed at a local store this week. I've been looking long and hard for the right one for awhile now, and finally found this beautiful bed, not cheap but worth getting. I had a canopy bed as a kid, so this one is a major improvement - much bigger and is more intricately carved. It will look beautiful in this house, too. I have to measure the top platform, to make sure it will fit up the stairs, and if it does, then I'm going to get it. My reward to myself for working hard on moving and handling family drama without losing my mind.

The cats are enjoying this cooler weather, both of them have heavy fur coats so it is better for them to not deal with heat or humidity. Beau curls up on my bed with me at night, he loves the fuzzy blanket. Matt likes his kitty house nearby. All is right with the world.

Custom T-Shirts google-site-verification: google7067dc8e96d74570.html The Fine Artwork of Carolyn McFann

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Late Summer in Rural Geauga County

Living in the country is just awesome. After a lifetime of living in the suburbs and at times, in the city, the peace and slower pace of rural life is just so relaxing to me. It's great because I'm not so far out that I can't get to town fast. The county seat, Chardon, is only a ten minute drive, and crowded suburbia is twenty minutes away, a straight shot down the street that I live on. Love it.

Out here the air is cleaner, there are less lights so the stars are more visible in the sky at night. There is an observatory not far from here, so people who enjoy astronomy meet to see the stars once a month. I went once and it was spectacular, saw a Perseid meteor shower. Someone had a huge telescope set up and we could even see the rings of Saturn from it. Amazing.

Driving down the streets here, there are state parks, farms, fruit stands, a drive-in movie theater, Amish restaurant, an ice cream joint (it seems many rural places always have an ice cream stand someplace close..remember it from going to summer camp as a kid in different country places). There's a golf/country club down the street, a huge reservoir with lilypads all over the lake and horse farms everywhere. It's heaven. Life doesn't get much better than this.

I've been busy decorating the house, finding furniture to compliment it from different antique and other places. I bought a small telephone/side table for $10 recently and refinished it, now it looks like new. It was so easy and only cost me $10 in supplies. Now the table looks like it could sell for $100. I'll be doing this again, now that this was such a success. I love beautiful wooden furniture and there are loads of places around here to find it at, at reasonable prices. With all this room (three bedrooms) space to spread out in, decorating and finding just the right pieces is fun.

My new birdfeeder is beginning to attract birds now! It will get much more use in the winter, which is brutal out here in the Snow belt, but for now I'm just happy to see the few birds that have come - goldfinches, cardinals and mourning doves.

The older I get, the more I crave a less anxious, slower-paced life. After being very social and mobile throughout my younger years, living in other states and dealing with all the activity it took to do that, it feels great to just slow down and take it easy. My values have changed. I still plan on travelling, just not at the same pace as before. I don't have to. My business is established and runs itself. Doing my artwork is my passion, and I can do it from home, and post the designs to my store whenever needed. All these years of planning and building this business has paid off, it is rewarding to see it all take shape and grow like it has. There is always work to be done, of course, but it is less time consuming now, which gives me the ability to pursue other hobbies.

People sometimes ask why I don't bother to go out on dates much anymore. My dating life was full and fun in my twenties and thirties, but in my forties, it got boring and stressful so I just stopped it, with no regrets. I have male friends, of course, but dating drags me down so I just don't do it anymore. The last man I dated was a gold-digger, what a joke. The one before him was an arrogant playboy. I know how to pick 'em..not! The BS just was too much and I love being single and independent, nobody drags me down, there's no drama. Growing up with a colossal "drama queen" for a mother, I seriously hate drama and avoid it like the Plague. I'm not lonely, and enjoy being able to do what I want, when I want, without the need to explain myself to anybody. It works just fine for me. When I want to socialize, I do..but it's great to come home to peace, quiet. My home is my sanctuary.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A Peaceful, Ordinary Day

A calm and lovely day. The weather has been sunny, cool and dramatic, here in the country. There are clouds everywhere, but the sky is a rich, bright blue. With weather so perfect, I had to get out and drive around, it was just too nice to stay inside.

In the morning I stopped at a local Amish-run donut store. I rarely get donuts but every now and then a good splurge feels good. There were kindly, older Amish men getting donuts too, they are so polite. I bought a large cup of black coffee and a glazed donut, and a few more glazed to have for breakfast another day or two. Heaven.

At a lovely boutique-like animal feed store I looked at birdfeeders of all kinds. It was quite the selection of all kinds, so it took time to look at the different ones with all their various features and styles. I'm kind of picky about what I buy, wanting something stylish but not hard to clean. A pretty copper one caught my eye, with floral embellishments, so I bought it and went home to hang it from a tree in my front yard.

Now it's all set up and ready for the birds to notice it. The cats are really going to enjoy the view from my living room windows. It's perfect cat TV.

Later I will get a hummingbird feeder as well. I looked at the ones in the store but didn't see any that I wanted so I'll go back and check later, as they said they get new types in all of the time. There are many hummingbirds around here so I know when I find the right one, it will get used for sure!

After working in my garden a little, it was time to come inside and do some work. How easy it is to spend all day out in the sun but chores must be done. I shampooed the carpet upstairs as the cats watched with great interest. My little helpers, always close by, checking out what's going on.
There are cicadas singing in the trees outside as I now work on my computer. The wind is blowing the leaves in the trees, it's so serene and wonderful. In a month or two it will start to cool down, as we approach fall. Until then, I'm enjoying each and every summer day here in this new house. I'm so thrilled to have many windows, for the light to come in here like it does. Such a change from that cramped, dark old apartment I last had. It was stylish and in a trendy part of town but oh, so flawed. This place is perfect for me.

I can't wait to buy peony, rose, hydrangea and other bushes to landscape the front. That will wait for next spring since it's late in the growing season to plant things now. Little by little, this house becomes even more of a home than it already is. Life is good and getting better all of the time. In the grand scheme of things I am a very lucky person and I am thankful for all that I have. When feeling down, I just count my blessings and that helps me to re-center myself. It just goes to show that being in nature, around pets and plants is therapy in itself. Now, if I can just get some birds at that feeder..then all will really be right with the world :D

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Handling Things One Day at a Time

The Fine Artwork of Carolyn McFann

It's a quiet Sunday here at home. I'm working on my computer with Harry Potter movies in the background. The cats are downstairs, blissfully asleep in the kitchen together. They love the kitchen table/benches set I bought recently and sleep on or in it all of the time.

My heart is heavy, as I do miss my parents very much. Contact will only make mom try to dominate me again. She can behave herself here and there but then the urge to control eventually takes over and all Hell breaks loose. Every outburst of hers takes another chunk out of me. I cannot subject myself to this anymore. All the stupid, condescending "advice" (endless, unwarranted) really got to me, too. Normal parents may assist with helping, but they don't talk down to their offspring (especially as an adult) as if they are incapable, less-than or somehow mentally limited. I am none of these things and resented the constant assaults on my character. Other people who give advice are nice about it, and that's ok. I'm not so sensitive that I cannot handle help. But mom knows how to push buttons, and push them all, with a sick sort of inner pleasure that is just wrong on every level.

Mom told me that she "doesn't want to be (my) enemy" when she came up to me at ReStore. Who wants to be enemies, I don't, I just can't take her cruelty. End of story. I told her at that time, "I'm not your enemy, but there has to be mutual respect if there is to be a relationship". She looked at me blankly. It just doesn't register in her that I have a brain, or have my own viable opinions. To her I'm just being "difficult, stubborn or disobiedient."

If I had a dollar for all the times I was called "stubborn" by my parents in a derogatory way, I'd be filthy rich. I'm not stubborn, just persistent in having my own opinions, my own mind and my own way of doing things in a family that does everything to discourage this. Dicouragement came in forms of threatening with abandonment (in more heated arguments) and cruel insults or put-downs (their severity depended upon the the heatedness of our disagreements). I ignored threats of all kinds, as nothing I've ever done was that bad to warrant them. It isn't fair. I get dumped on with all this garbage, and now I am the one who looks like an idiot for needing to separate from my parents while they act like the wounded party for having a daughter do that to them. It's not something I want to do. If I don't, the family insanity will seriously destroy me, no exaggeration. I am only doing this so that I can keep what's left of my sanity. I'm an intelligent, capable person who deserves respectful, kind people in my life. That is NOT too much to ask, but for them, apparently it was. It hurts.

None of us are getting any younger. Who knows how much time we have left iin this world. It hurts that we wasted so much time in life fighting over mom's endless efforts to control me, and that this separation has occurred (even if it is justifiable). I have never taken my parents for granted, but I will never be their whipping post, either. Those who have not lived in a home full of abuse don't know how to react to this, I'm sure. Well, it's not easy walking a tightrope. If I keep relations going and say nothing, I'm a doormat with no brains or life. If I leave, I'm an ungrateful daughter. I cannot win. This is the dilemma of the grown-up child of an abusive mother that has chosen to blame others for her issues instead of getting help for herself. EVERYTHING is loaded onto the adult child to deal with..getting counseling (for damage done by the abusive parent), setting boundaries, walking away if things get too unbearable and devastating. It's undeniably tragic and if there was a way to fix it, I would've done it by now. Because I've spent my entire life trying to. It's just not fixable.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Temporary Detente is Reached..for Now, Anyways

The Fine Artwork of Carolyn McFann

What an eventful morning. It went pretty well, despite some awkward moments. First of all, my new bookshelves were delivered today, and look wonderful up in my bedroom. Also delivered was a small telephone table which I got for a great price but needs to be refinished. I ran to the store and got refinishing solvents, and that project will start immediately.

After the delivery I went to the store I usually go to once a week, to see if any new antiques came in. My parents go there often as well, and to my surprise as I was shopping, mom walked up to me. We haven't spoken since our very unpleasant blow-out fight nearly two weeks ago and I wasn't glad to see her, rather, a bit confused on how to deal with this. Be nice and she will walk all over me again. Being rude isn't an option, I just was kind of stoic, unsure how to respond. She looked at me with sad, droopy eyes, just standing there, waiting for me to tell her everything is going to be ok. I cannot do that, but did tell her, "I don't want to fight". She told me that I "must do as I am told in this family" (fighting words but subdued because she knows I am not putting up with it, and especially not in public). I told her,calmly, "I am not your servant. You cannot control me or order me around like a drill sargeant. There needs to be mutual respect if there is to be a relationship. If you try to control me then I will fight it. You do not own me." Other shoppers walked by so we both stopped and changed the subject. We looked at furniture, superficial chit-chat ensued. That was ok, dealing with her superficially is what therapists always told me to do. "Don't get too deep with her, she can't handle it", they had said long ago. True, very true.

Dad greeted me with open arms. I was so glad to see him and hugged him back, I have no animosity towards him except that he should've stood up for me..but never did. It's who he is. He and I chit-chatted some, it felt good because I truly do love my dad..he is not malicious by nature, just extremely influenced by her bad behavior all the time, which is hard to observe. Therapists always told me that it is his choice to do so, and nothing can be done, it's his life. True. He is happy in his own way, and so that is what matters to me.

They returned to their shopping, I returned to mine, and that was it. No plans to see eachother or anything. But it was a good, civil and polite enough interaction. Maybe I should restrict my seeing them to being in public, because mom won't dare throw tantrums when others are around. I don't know. I'm not ready to go back to spending time hanging out with them, not right now. It will take serious boundaries and I don't think mom is even capable of listening let alone respecting them. But seeing them at the store is better than nothing. They're my parents, and I wish them no harm. Just that they show respect and kindness towards me. I'm not their scapegoat anymore and will not tolerate her trying to get her hooks into me for her purposes. She still wants to, I can tell. It's not easy. I will just take it all one step at a time. Living in this family is like living in a chess game, always waiting for the other person to make their move in order to plan what to do next.

So now I'm home again, feeling pretty good. The crystal glasses I bought are unpacked and put away, and the cats have taken over the cardboard box they came in with great interest. Outside cicadas are singing in the trees. It's peaceful and all is right with the world, at least for now. I stopped and bought a latte on the way home, and am finishing the last of it now, too tired to make lunch.

After getting the mail over at the post office and weeding out the mountain of junk mail, I have a huge stack of cool catalogs in front of me. I'm going to check out what's in them then resume putting books in the new bookshelves. Maybe even start refinishing that little table. A blissfully boring afternoon ahead. That's just fine with me.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

A Kinder and Gentler Life for Me

The Fine Artwork of Carolyn McFann

The beginning of August is blissfully peaceful and calm, just the way it should be. I am busy ordering new equipment to do a better job on artwork for my business, as well as getting things around the house exactly as I want them. The cable guy came this morning to install a better quality service than I previously had. My other, previous carrier was highly overpriced and new "fees" kept creeping into my bills so I switched. I pray this one is as good as it seems. Anyways, that is done, along with many other chores around the house that needed to be done. I keep as busy as possible to keep my morale high and things running well here.

The split (as far as I am concerned, permanently) with my parents is very hard on me, as they are family, and I do love them, but the facts remain the same, that love is not enough and there must be mutual kindness and respect (which there never has been). It's not good to love people who just are so negative all the time, so controlling, hostile and critical. I have let go and as much as it hurts, it is for the best. My real family are my unrelated friends, who have never been mean, cruel or angry like that. Normal people can discuss disagreements without hysterics, uncontrolled emotions or vindictiveness. It feels good to have peace. It's not the end of the world. I'll be just fine. I've been on my own since the age of 17. My heart is just broken and needs to repair itself, that's all.

I just finished repotting a large Hibiscus tree that I got recently, and it's doing great. With fertilizer, a big flower pot and some pruning, it has begun to flourish and develop many new buds. It has double peach-colored flowers and every day I come out to a few flowers in bloom (the flowers usually only last one day). Maybe later I'll get another with yellow flowers, they will brighten up the house in the winter with their cheery blooms. I had a huge Hibiscus tree before, it grew so beautifully but died when I drove it down in searing heat to Florida. I was so sad that it died, so this tree is going to be as pampered as it was, and grow just as big and strong. I love plants. Now that I'm settled, I plan on getting busy with the garden, maybe planting some bulbs this fall, and really getting landscape work done in the spring. Nothing is more therapeutic than working with plants or pets.
My new therapist is a lovely person, kind and knowledgeable. We're getting to know one another and she's been very helpful so far, in translating my reactions to my parents for me. She says that abuse survivors are strong, and that it takes time and some self-caring to get through trauma like I've been through. I have Post Traumatic Stress from childhood, which seems to be cropping up as I recover from what she says was a trauma of having to deal with the last attack from my mother. How does PTSD show in me? Sleeplessness, I rarely sleep, flashbacks of the incident, anger (inside, nobody sees it but I feel it), temporary blackouts in my mind (holes in my thinking at times). It's annoying. My mood is calm and I never freak out. My stress shows in my stomach, churning, in knots. I'll be so happy when this PTSD goes away again. It doesn't happen all the time, usually just after extremely upsetting events. And it can carry on for awhile.

So, gardening, working on the house, working on my business and going out helps me to work though it all. Life is good. I'm not a victim, just a person in transition. It's a great life, away from my parents. It just takes time to let go of wanting to contact them. Contact brings pain. A relative on my mother's side of the family told me that she had to stop contact with her mother when (same thing) the abusiveness got to be too much. This woman grew up with mom and is a kind and loving person, nothing like my mom. She knew mom and my maternal grandmother (who also was pretty insane) and she knows me. She says I'm level-headed and strong, and that I'll be just fine. It means so much to hear this from her, someone who knows the family dysfunction. She believes in me. I told her that I was very grateful for her input, and she supports me. I'm not alone. My life is wonderful away from family insanity.

When I was 12 and told that I don't have to grow up and be like my mother or grandmother (my biggest fear back then), I did everything in the following years to go to therapy and get help, to make sure of it. All these years later, it's very clear that I'm nothing like my mother, and that is a huge relief. Still, I have issues of my own (especially anger/sadness at not having the kind, emotionally stable parents I so desperately wanted), and so I get help again. Nothing wrong in it. Therapists are like coaches. They are objective and can see things that may be difficult to notice when in the middle of a tough time. Also, they offer alternative ways to handle the situation in a non-judgmental, supportive manner. It's not shoved down my throat, and I am able to choose my own way of dealing with outcomes after weighing all of my options. Therapy is awesome.

The whole goal is a peaceful and wonderful life. I have it..mostly. Inner peace is the hardest to achieve but I'm working on it. Like the song says, let there be peace on earth..and let it begin with me. I'm not mean, I don't hate my parents. I love them with all of my heart. They meant well most of the time but didn't have the ability to show love in a respectful or kind way. It is imperative to have boundaries with a family like this. They never listened or cared about the boundaries (you must not be cruel to me, please respect me, etc). It's hard to understand if you haven't lived in a family full of anger like this one. No more fighting for my emotional wellbeing. It's my life now..as it's been always..I just slipped off track by letting them back in. Now I know better. I'll be ok. They're always ok. A kinder, happier and gentler life, and continued business success, to me, is the best "revenge". There is no need to spend energy on anything else.

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Getting Back to a Peaceful Life

The Fine Artwork of Carolyn McFann

It's an early Friday morning here in gorgeous Geauga county. The world is so still and peaceful outside. I couldn't sleep so I'm up writing in this blog. I've been busy cleaning, organizing and just enjoying the new house. It's so wonderful, words cannot describe it. From my numerous bedroom windows, clouds just roll by in the big sky. So relaxing. I can't wait to get outdoor furniture so it will be comfortable to draw outside. Doing artwork had been on "back burner" during my move but will soon be top priority again. Fall has always been a busy season for me and this one will be no different. My urge to create is heightened by dealing with family problems. The worse they are, the more charged I am to do artwork. It's a great outlet for my anger and pain, but my drawings aren't dark..rather the opposite. I draw how I want life, animals and other things to be. A kinder, gentler world. It's fun to retreat into the world of marathon drawing or painting and forget the real world for awhile. Just put on some good music or a movie and drown out problems, just create. It's kept me sane all these years :)

My two cats are getting along great now. Beau and Matisse really are buddies, it's wonderful to see. Beau no longer growls at Matt, who has been loving and sweet all along. They can be found snoozing near eachother most of the time now, usually downstairs in the kitchen. Recently I bought a kitchen nook (two benches and a matching table) for my kitchen and the cats have taken it over as theirs. It's cute, but they have to get off when it's time to eat! I come downstairs in the morning to find both cats spread-eagle stretched on the nook, just enjoying the breezes from the windodws nearby. It's amazing that one set of furniture could bring so much entertainment to cats, glad they like it. Nobody sleeps on my bed anymore but me, since they have officially taken over the kitchen.

Later today I will be designing more iPod Touch cases. I've done about 250 so far and there's many more to go. From the way the clouds are looking it might be a good day to stay inside, like it's going to pour. My garden will love it. It will be wonderful go get my garden going but this year it's kind of small. I'm very busy with other things at the moment and will resume gardening here and there. Next year I'll get rose bushes, hydrangea, hosta, mums and other plants but this growing season has been dedicated to moving and indoors work. The few plants I did get in the ground are looking ok, this place is a landscaper's dream..so much to do still but oh so fun to think about. As I work on the computer, the garden is in the back of my mind, still in the planning stages.

My heart is heavy about my parents, but I know that it was the right decision to back away from them. I love them so much but mom is just to volatile to be around. She just can't respect me, and tries taking me over as if I have no brain of my own. It's like water torture. Drip...drip...drip...nitpick..pick...correct...analayze... Being corrected, scolded, analyzed, treated like I don't have a brain or common sense hurts. I tried to look the other way, stand up for myself, but it doesn't matter because in her mind I have no rights. And she plays the martyr/victim, always upset if I don't do what she wants or interrupt her endless, unwanted "advice" with "I know, mom". How dare I have a mind of my own! How dare I don't set the table in her house when she demands it. When I have company over, family or not, I don't dictate orders to them. It's my job to treat people like guests, which they are. Not mom, don't do what she wants and get yelled at/guilt tripped/demeaned and belittled. I did the "good daughter" thing and brushed off her quirks as just that..but when she's screaming in my face in a fit of rage and I feel my heart beating out of my chest, I could see that she-and her terroristic ways-have no part of my life. There is no bigger pain than to let go of parents, even abusive ones.

So, my life is my own. There is a sense of deep relief now that wasn't there before. I'm not new to being totally on my own, living in other states and places for many years. Being independent is great. There is total peace. My home is my sanctuary. No yelling, no anger, no fear. Just peace. This is the way life should be. I hired a therapist to help guide me through this separation from family. Therapists in the past helped me gain a different perspective on things besides just my own views. They always suggested that I "run", to get as far away from my parents as possible. I lived in Florida, Pittsburgh, Cancun..yes, I did what they said and it helped. But missed Ohio. I didn't ask for my parents to move close to me, but they did. I went with the flow and tried embracing it all, thinking maybe we all grew up and can get along this time..but no, reality has hit again and now I know it isn't to be. It hurts. It rips my gut out in a million pieces. My stomach churns all the time with tension, internalized sadness. Why can't we just get along? Because mom is a narcissist and just can't have peace. That's why. It sucks.

Luckily, there are other friends and extended family around. Life is still good, my business is a joy as it operates itself nicely. I have much to be thankful for. Work is an escape that I love. Life goes on. The knot in my stomach will dissipate, I will find others to spend time with and the memory of my mother's hysterical, vicious behavior will eventually fade. My parents sneered, "You'll be back" when I left their house last. No, sadly, we don't get along. I won't. I will be visiting your neighbors, whom are wonderful people, but not your house. It's up to you, mom and dad, to find new people to invite over, then scream at/belittle and attack when THEY don't do what you want. I'm out of the "cult". My therapist is my deprogrammer. The world is a beautiful place far from violence and cruelty. Life is still good.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ridding Myself of Family Secrets While Learning

The Fine Artwork of Carolyn McFann

Yesterday I was cruising YouTube for information on adult abuse survivors, thinking I'd find a video here and there that could be interesting. Well, I hit the motherlode..wow, did I ever!

To my amazement, I found the postings of an expert on Narcissism, what my family is all about, named Sam Vaknin and his videos really hit home. I always felt like a freak growing up with such an abnormal, hostile and angry family. All the terrorism, scapegoating, my narcissitic mother stirring up trouble then blaming it all on me every day, all the time. She bullied, insulted, hurled insults, belittled, manipulated (dad) and ruled the house with such ferocity then would be a sweet, loving, squeaky-clean Montessori teacher during the day. She fooled the public with her sweetheart act, but not the therapists.

My parents were having marital trouble when I was 12, and when the psychotherapist saw how messed up they both were, she wanted to see me. My parents didn't like therapy because mom resisted change and everything (in her little world) worked the way she wanted it to (she can't handle criticism in any way, shape or form and therapy to her was blasphemy). But I loved therapy because it was safe, respectful and gave answers to a life where I thought I was always to blame for everything. My therapist Janeen told me at twelve not to use my mother as a role model because she was very abusive to me. It was a revelation, hard to understand but she taught me in time what abuse was and that I wasn't crazy/bad/the cause of all things bad in our home.

My mother was (and still is) very attractive, vain and arrogant. She feels entitled and unconsciously thinks being (hopelessly) spoiled is her God-given right. She demands it. Later when therapists told me that my mother and father are both narcissists and that they "cannot love you", that was harder to take but it made complete sense in some sort of twisted, odd way. One therapist told me, "This is probably the hardest and saddest reality you will ever have to accept in your life". It is. Most definitely. I tried "fixing" them (teaching them things I learned in therapy). It fell on deaf ears. They consistently blame me for all their troubles, play the martyr all the time and banked on me being a loser, someone with no brain, no mind of my own..someone to look down upon and to criticize. All the while bragging to me to their friends on how I won this art award or how I was in this newspaper due to my artistic abilities. They used my strengths when it would benefit them, then the rest of the time I was used as their personal punching bag..in private, of course.

So here I am, watching these videos last night, my jaw jut hit the floor! Sam Vaknin was describing all the insanity I lived with for the 17 years I was in my parents' home, and also the struggle to overcome the serious damage inflicted upon me by them in my adult life. He described it in such detail, exactly what went on. And the damage that was done to me (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, clinical Anxiety and Depression). I never realized how pathological and damaging living with these people was..not really..until I saw these videos. It explains so much.

I have spent the majority of my life in therapy, consciously working to break the cycle of abuse by being aware and not repeating the mistakes of my parents. Ok, I have some narcissism in me due to being spotlighted for my artwork since very young, but it is not harmful..in many ways I think it saved my life and gave me something to live for. I enjoy the attention but don't live for it and actually prefer to be in the background, making art more than anything else.

Being the child of narcissists is a thankless job. You learn that "mom" is a "four letter word"..and inside you have a LOT of anger from being emotionally violated/abused/manipulated by someone (especially mom) who was supposed to love but cannot. I consciously never had children because I was terrified of being abusive or angry. The therapists told me that I probably would have been a very good mother. And now, looking back, I think they are right. I work very hard to have healthy outlets for my anger, and do not blow up/throw tantrums/threaten/scare or hurt anyone. One psychiatrist told me that I am "highly controlled". Yep, and I plan to stay that way. I take my anger out on drawing pretty pictures, of what I want life to be (pretty, upbeat), not what it has been (disappointing, dark and confusing when it comes to family, yet successful otherwise..away from them). It is imperative to me to be a rational, logical adult..not the emotional, immature basketcase my mother is. She is ruled by her emotions and lives to criticize and control everything (and I do mean everything). Her personality is that of a child, easily bored, quick to anger and needs entertaining or she gets upset. The world is about her and only her. She is smart, though, and will keep any bad behavior well hidden from her friends because deep down somewhere in that black heart of hers she knows full well what she did to me was wrong.

When I was in my twenties, I used to sell my artwork on pins and earrings. Mom offered to take a bunch of them to her school and see if anyone would buy some. They did, they bought a whole lot. When she got back she gave me a bunch of checks but no cash. I asked if there had been cash (because naturally there would be in my dealings with selling them in the past). She denied it. I took her word for it.

I was friends with a teaching assitant of mom's, who later told me that people were "throwing cash" at her, for my art pins. Lots and lots of it. When I contronted my mother with this, she (and dad) quickly got furious with ME! Their response was "Our Christmas wouldn't be the same without that money". They lived in a very expensive home, and lived very expensive lives..how could MY money have made their Christmas?? I lived in a small apartment and scraped by for money. They knew the money was something I needed at that time. Mom never had remorse for this at all, and kept up her angry, insulted stance, knowing full well she was guilty. Dad did give me some money, behind her back, later. It was the first concrete example of how I seriously couldn't trust her and it hurt so much.

Mom sabotauged my friendship with Kim, the assistant, for "telling on her". She told her lies about how I had said bad things about her, which I did not do. Kim was on my side throughout all of this and mom had discouraged the relationship from the get-go, telling me not to tell her any of our family "secrets" (it really had made her nervous). I told mom at that time, "If you did anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about, right?!" She knew. I knew. No wonder she hates me so much. I just don't let her get away with things. Narcissists HATE that with a venomous passion.

I'm writing all of this now, years later, because I'm letting it out, years of hidden secrets that I am no longer willing to keep inside because it is very unhealthy. There are no more secrets. I kept the secrets long enough. My mental health suffered at times because of it. Not anymore. I am an open book from now on, spurred on by therapy, and always desiring health/healing. If you are abused, don't keep the secrets, let it out. Those who don't understand can get lost. It's your life and you need to be heard. I never thought I had a voice as a child..but learned through many years of intense therapy that it's indeed there. And I've been using it more and more as life goes on..it feels amazing to be free now.

Please see Sam Vaknin's videos here, if the link doesn't work click on the title of this post:

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Child Abuse..Growing Up With Abusive Parents

Custom T-ShirtsThe Fine Artwork of Carolyn McFann

This entry may be disturbing for those with parents who are healthy, because you thankfully won't relate with what I write here. Just know that this is all real, and it is what abuse is. The person doing 99% of the abuse was my mother, a (now retired) teacher of small children. My dad has abusive moments but was himself a victim of child abuse as a child, and in general used to be a sweet and caring dad. He just didn't stand up for me much. Anyone can be an abuser, and look so sweet and innocent. They behave during the day, and become monsters at night. Then they can be "nice" later. There is no consistency, no stability. One day they are trustworthy, the next they aren't. Be glad you weren't raised in the atmosphere of terrorism, anger and attacks. The experts say that there is healing in expressing old secrets, in letting it out. Well, here goes. I used to stuff all of this deep down inside, keeping the secrets..not anymore. Others can learn to spot abuse from reading this. If you know anyone who is being abused, call the National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD

As a young girl of around 3 years old, I loved butterflies, bugs and just about anything that moved in the world of nature. My parents and I would take walks in the park and they would show me the flowers, bugs and other things as we went. It was educational. Usually all was fine. But mom had a twisted sense of humor and one time there was a big, fresh pile of horse sh_t on the ground covered with butterflies. Mom told me, "Look, Carolyn, butterflies!", knowing I'd run over and try to catch them. I did what I usually did, ran over and clamped down on them, on the horse poo. Mom and dad laughed heartily as I then realized what it was and desperately tried to clean the stuff off of my hands. It was humiliating and gross. Mom and dad didn't think anything of it. To them, it was funny. In the coming years, there were many more instances here and there of public humiliation. Many. I'll leave it at that.

At 16 years old, I had to go to the doctor, so I got off from school and mom was driving me back from my appointment. The doctor had perscribed a few expensive medicines for my acne, with made mom very mad. She then wanted to go to Heinen's to get food, I told her I needed some apples at the store while we were there as we drove on Green Rd, about to go to Heinen's. She then exploded, "I will be so happy when you're grown and out of the house, I'm SO SICK of you wanting things" (I was not a demanding child, not at all). "You need to get your fat a$$ a real job and stop being a lazy slob(I had a job, working at a nearby country club as a buffet girl, was maybe 20 lbs overweight and I was anything BUT lazy or a slob). Logic, in her mind, didn't exist, she just said whatever. She then punched me. It was a small car and her arms were flailing in every which way as I tried to block the punches. I got out of the car and though it was raining, she zoomed off, angry, not looking back. Home was at least 5 miles away. I didn't care, just wanted to be safe and away from her. I started the long walk..a friend (who was cutting study hall to go to the nearby deli we all liked) saw me and picked me up in her car, brought me back to school. I had been crying and was all wet from walking in the rain. I immediately went up to the art room, my sanctuary when upset. My art teacher took one look at me and looking horrified, without my telling her the details, said "What did she do to you??!". Mrs.Biehle knew, she'd heard me mention problems in the past and had been there for me all along.

That night, Mrs.Biehle took me to her house, made me dinner and told me to relax, she said I wasn't going to be going back home but not to worry. She had a meeting at school to go to, she said, and would return shortly. It turns out that that night, Mrs.Biehle, the school counselor, my Diaries teacher Mrs.Beesley and maybe others (I forget) got together and compared notes all the signs they had seen in the past of abuse. I had come to school red-eyed from crying a few times, trying desperately to hide it. My mother would scream her angry rants at me during the 45 minute drive to school, and terrorize me like crazy, so much that I would shake and feel numb. I felt hostage, captive and terrified underneath it all. I was told that in my Diaries class that what I'd written about daily home life was anything but "normal", due to the abusive behavior of my mother. They had to protect me now. All the clues added up to the teachers for them to reach this decision..

It was decided in the meeting that I would go live with the headmistress of my school, Barbara Barnes, who lived next to Laurel School at Lyman house (a lovely, big house on loan to the head of school during their tenure there). The teachers went to my parents house and got my belongings for me, they told me for my safety not to visit or talk to my mother and father. I found it very hard because I loved them and was programmed to worry about them and their wellbeing all of the time. I stayed at Lyman House with Mrs.Barnes for the remainder of my time at Laurel School. Went to prom from there, even. They kept warning me to not go home. I didn't listen and decided to move back in the summer before college.

Bad idea. The day I moved back, mom screamed, carried on and threw a huge, scary temper tantrum at me, blaming me for everything and calling ME "sick, crazy," etc. She told me "THEY don't have to live with you..", yada, yada, yada. I was feeling unsafe and locked myself in my bedroom. Mom didn't like that so she called my childhood pediatrician (!) to try and get me committed or something. He came, talked to me and I told him the truth. He checked my arms for any signs of drug abuse. I never did drugs, or even a cigarette, in my life. I was (and still am) pretty "square". He could see that I was being abused and I listend through the door as he scolded my mother for her bad behavior. When he left, she continued her hysterical rant again..furious at being "humiliated", and dragged me to University Hospital to try and get me committed. They looked me over and said I'm not crazy, and immediately contacted law enforcement. A police detective and a psychiatrist sat with me, away from my parents, and told me that they were there for me. The detective told me that he would not let her hurt me anymore, and asked if I wanted to go someplace else instead of home. I insisted on going home because I was scared of going to a foster home, having heard horror stories of those before. They begged me to reconsider but I told them that I am going to leave for college soon, and that I would promise to contact them if I felt the least bit in danger. They were so very nice to me, and it felt good to be respected and listened to.

They then put me in another room as they talked to my parents. The walls were thin and I could hear the conversation. They strongly warned and scolded both my parents that this kind of behavior was against the law and not permitted, and the next time there would be severe consequences towards them if this happened again. Mom whined "But you don't have to live with HER!".. and tried to manipulate them but they wouldn't have it, they knew better, and understood what she was trying to do. They gave her a particularly harsh scolding. I was wide-eyed, amazed on the other side of the wall. Wow, they were saying things I only had hoped of saying. If I'd said them, I'd be dead!

When they emerged from the room, mom was a bawling, hystericallly crying pile of mush. Not so big, swaggering and tough anymore. She was milking dad for as much sympathy as possible as he led her away, stuck in the middle from protecting me and appeasing her. She had absolutely no shred of remorse, and never did. She never apologized (though dad did to me away from her). We ate lunch at the hospital restaurant before going home. She just cried and couldn't even look at me..not out of guilt but total disgust. She felt wronged and knew I carried the business card of the detective..and if she got out of line again, I was to call him. Not being able to control this was eating her on the inside, no, jabbing hot pokers into her..how she wanted to attack..but couldn't.

Time goes on. I'm in college. Mom begged dad to take me out of school. She hated that they were spending soooo much money on me and my education. Times were hard for them and instead of caring about my wellbeing, I was cut off. I was in a private, expensive school, with no money of my own, left to fend for myself with absolutely nothing to my name. Mom "won", and thoroughly enjoyed my suffering. She told me NOT to come home, that when I was 18 I was an adult and she never would have me live under her roof again because she wanted privacy with her husband. She suggested I go live at the YWCA (where poor people go when there's noplace to go). I lived with my ex-boyfriend's lovely family in Rochester. I went back to school on my own later but at that time had to drop out since there was no money to go there with. My parents didn't care, just turned their heads as I floundered and had noplace to go. I lost my nice campus apartment, due to not being a student anymore. I'd been homeless for two weeks before moving in with Dave's family. They were nice, and staying there, I could see what a "normal" family was. They listened to one another, they didn't try to attack, belittle, scream at or criticize eachother. It was a huge revelation to me. I'm grateful to the Frankunas family to this day. Oh, and my parents tried to get my student loan for THEIR bills. I luckily found a lawyer to wrangle the check into my hands first, so they couldn't take it for their own use. I still couldn't afford to go back, so I bought a car and got a menial job to support myself.

Years later, as I struggled to finish school on my own, mom gloated when her school paid for her to take an art class here and there. She relished me not being able to afford them and how she was going to be an artist too. One time she spilled coffee on artwork I did, then blamed it on ME! She was always jealous of my art abilities and the attention I got from them, yet contradicted herself and would brag about me to her friends. Yet, she secretly despised not being the center of attention. She never became an artist, and no amount of education given to her could teach her to do the artwork that I do. She just wanted to feel superior.

So, this is only a tiny portion of many, many instances of what it is like to live with abuse. It is terrorism, plain and simple. I have had to overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety and Major Depression through years of counseling. These stories have caused my former therapists to cry, and to despise my parents. I have learned from this whole experience, and only discuss it now to heal more, and inform others of what NOT to do as a parent. Rageaholics shouldn't be parents. If you rage and continuously bully your child, that adrenaline rush stays with them, they then naturally end up with anxiety problems because of it. I am a calm person now, but only after years and years of therapy to undo the mountain of garbage she heaped onto me. I was a good kid. Never in trouble with the law, never done drugs, never violent or mean. Her attempts to discredit/belittle/label me have gone in vain. Mother is a product of her own past. She cannot stand peace, and has to stir things up. She loves drama. I don't, and will avoid it at all costs. This is why now, at 47 years old, I am giving up on being her daughter. I love my dad but he nearly never stood up for me. I used to protect HIM from her rants. All the screaming, blaming, shaming, all her unqualified diagnoses of my being "crazy, psycho, selfish, etc" are her trying to cut me down so she can look big and tough. I go by what the REAL experts say, and they say that I am an incredibly strong survivor. They respect me and tell me that I have overcome so much, that I'm anything but crazy or psycho. And that mom is accusing me of what she is guilty of.

There is health in getting help. I have sought it out and continue to do so. If you have a cruel parent or parents, seek help. Not for them but for you. It does help and does work. I know, I'm alive when I shouldn't be. I'm a survivor. Maybe now, the world will understand me just a little bit better by my opening up about this. Maybe not. All I know is, life is beautiful. And it's more beautiful when not under the control of people who cannot love.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Life is Just Too Short to be a Scapegoat

Meraiah (middle), Eden (left) and Joy (right)..the best young girls in the whole world :)

Custom T-ShirtsThe Fine Artwork of Carolyn McFann

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself. - Harvey Fierstein

Today my mother and I got into a verbal fight. I generally am calm and cool about her rants and rudeness but being really screamed at really got to me and I yelled back. I'm not proud of it but she was right up in my face. It was horrible. She thinks she owns me and that I'm her servant. And that anything she does goes in some "bank" somewhere where it makes me somehow indebted to her later. It's a sick, twisted non-logic that always pits me as the horrible, disobedient daughter. I'm 47, not five. I don't deserve to be treated with such cruelty and she hit a boundary so I had to stand up for myself. It hurts. I want to love her but she just won't let me with her controlling, over-the-top aggressive behavior. I wish I had a dollar for every time they have tried to "disown" me for not doing what she says. The bullying is insane and I don't back down. I am close to just not dealing with either of them anymore, since dad just blindly follows anything she says. I'm not that weak, and I won't be controlled by the likes of her.

What started this rukus, you may ask? Something stupid, of course. Mom wanted to buy a $5 glass pitcher at the garage sale of my next door neighbor. She hands me $5 and tells me to get it for her (from home, on the phone). I agree to this. The neighbor then is not out and isn't available for the next few days. I stop at her place and she's not around. Mom, in the meantime, is on the phone, barking orders at me, trying to force me to bug the lady. I don't do that. No big deal, when she's around, I'll get it from her, not anything to freak out about. Mom gets more and more aggressive..

This morning is when I usually visit my parents for breakfast. On my way out the door, I stopped to see if the neighbor was around, she wasn't. Went to my parents without the pitcher. Mom went ballistic, screaming, furious that I haven't "obeyed" her and gotten her her pitcher today. I told her that I am SICK of her abuse and that I can't stand her anymore. That I have had it with being the scapegoat of the family. She rolls her eyes and looks at my father like "what a disobedient brat". They told me I am being disobedient. I told them from now on she can get her stuff herself, that I was stuck in the middle of this and don't appreciate it. And I will no longer be their scapegoat, AND, that I am NOT her servant. She got up in my face, screamiing and looking completely scary and I told her to stop being a bitch and get out of my face. Her eyes bugged out of her head, as she carried on, always trying to escalate, blame and shame. I left, wanting no part of anymore warfare. I HATE aggression and just tried to do her a favor, and now she's attacking me for not doing what she wants. It's like my childhood all over again. And why my school intervened and removed me-for my safety-from my parents, for being abused. As an adult, I can say "enough is enough". And as much as I've tried to be loyal, I am done being her whipping post.

Every week, mom demands, angrily, that I (a visiting guest in their house by their invitation) set the table when I visit for breakfast. I tell her not to order me around, but she thinks she is entitled to do it. I stand my ground, helping out some but not doing everything she demands and try not to let her get to me. It is usually a standoff. This is sick and not the way a "normal" family is. How does one love a mother who is so aggressive, histrionic and scarily unstable? She is capable of physically attacking me (hasn't happened in a long time but it has happened in the past) and I am always aware of this. But, I will not be bullied into submission. She loves to pit my father against me, he just does whatever she wants, as he's been controlled by her all these years. Why, God, why give me a mother like this? I want to be loyal and caring but it is impossible when she doesn't really care what I have to say, doesn't listen to me most of the time, talks over me and acts as if I'm scum of the earth when I don't do what she wants? It's blackmail and meant to make her look big and tough. There is nothing that hurts me more inside, to know that she will never be stable, without an agenda. She is smart and very cunning, is good at manipulating amd getting her way. But I don't fall for her games. This is why we just don't get along. I resist, she screams, blames and carries on World War III, knocking my character, sanity and anything else she can think of to make dad see her way. It's sickening. If she outlives my dear father, I will have nothing to do with her. I just cannot take her crap anymore.

So, here I am at home, where it's gloriously peaceful. I spent the day with a lovely 12-year-old girl who lives next to my parents, a fellow horse-lover. I spoiled the girl rotten, we went to a stable, found a good place to go riding, got her a riding helmet, and then hung out at my place. While there I picked up that blasted glass pitcher mom had wanted, since the people were finally around to get it from them. I dropped it off when I brought the girl back home. If I had been a mother, I would have probably been a pretty good one. I know how to be calm, logical, dependable and supportive. I don't pick fights with people (though I will defend myself on occasion if totally necessary). Maraiah, the girl I spent the day with, had witnessed some of my parents' cruel dealings with me and told me "they are mean to you". I took it in stride and told her, "I know how NOT to be, by their behavior and it's ok, I won't let them get to me". I was calm and collected. It's embarrassing when people see me treated like that but I downplayed it so not to scare Maraiah or escalate anything. I know better.

All I ever wanted in life was a good relationship with my mother. Since I cannot have that, and don't have children, I enjoy spoiling and being with Maraiah and her family. They are family to me in their own way. They don't scapegoat, get mad or disrespectful towards me. Nobody other than my parents do. Both my parents are spoiled rotten, think their way of thinking is the ONLY way of thinking and that nobody (me) should disobey, ever. I am not like them, thank you God. Years of counseling, especially with my favorite therapist, Janeen Carrell-Brown many years ago, taught me to live my own life, be my own person and don't use abusive people as role models in life. In turn, I find it important, imperative, to be a good role model to young kids. Ok, I'm a big kid with lots of my own faults, but I have a good heart and am genuine. I don't play the phony games that abusive people play, trying to think I'm better than others. I know I'm not. And who cares? We all have our strengths and weaknesses. My strength is my artwork. My weakness is trying to "fix" a family that isn't fixable. That is downright unhealthy most of the time. What do I do? How I wish I had all the answers, but I don't.

So, tonight, I'm ok. Maraiah is home with her family, happy and excited about our day today. I feel good because being a fellow horse-lover, I can help her start to ride horses and enjoy the sport. Memories in my youth of people who helped me made me want to do the same for her. It feels great to be cared about, and to be able to care for others. I'm not alone. I am strong and life goes on. Life is wonderful..here, without abuse, drama or fighting. Some people don't understand why I prefer being independent, it's because I love an uncomplicated, peaceful life. I can have friends and adopted family, but come home to total peace. Glorious peace. I never feel lonely. I'm the happiest I've ever been in my life. Nobody defines me, I define myself. :)

This article explains EXACTLY what I have been going through all these years. This is an extremely accurate portrayal of who my mother is. It's hard to read if you have a loving mother..not pretty but psychologically, it is EXACTLY who my mother is and why I just can't take it anymore.
If this link doesn't work, click the title of this post to go to it instead.