I recently read a very insightful book called “Share Your Stuff, I’ll Go First”, by author and podcaster Laura Tremaine. I actually saw the book as an ad on Instagram and read it on my Kindle through my library.  The book has stayed with me so much that I just ordered a hard copy to keep in my library. I keep very few books, so this book is very meaningful to me.

The premise of the book is ten questions to ask yourself to become a better friend.  By asking these questions of yourself, you can better ask people more about their lives; therefore creating  deeper, more meaningful relationships.  Most of the questions are things that I have worked through in my personal journey of healing, but one question jumped off the page at me. WHAT BROKE YOU?  I immediately knew the answer to the question and I also knew that I had no control over the situation.  What broke me was the very fact that I was born.

Now, I know that sounds overly dramatic, but I need to share with you my family dynamics.  My parents were very much in love and married at the end of WWII in June 1946.  They tried for years to have children with no success, so in 1954; they decided to adopt a baby girl. (My sister Kathy). In 1958, they adopted a baby boy (my brother David) and their family was complete.  Except it wasn’t.  My mother suffered from endometriosis.  Unbeknownst to my parents, endometriosis thins out as you get older and my mother became pregnant with me at the age of 39 and gave birth at age 40.

I was always called their “surprise”, but I don’t believe I was a pleasant surprise to my mother or my siblings.  My dad used to talk about the day I was born, but my mother never really talked about it.  No feelings of gratitude for finally getting pregnant or enjoying having another child.  I can tell you all about my sibling’s adoptions, but my own birth was never really discussed.  From my earliest memories, I had to be “fitted into” the family.  We lived in a very small house and adding a third child made it very cramped.  What makes me very sad is that I don’t believe my siblings ever loved me.  My mother told me that my sister stated that my parents didn’t need her anymore because they had their “real” daughter. Hence, my parentage was not talked about in detail.

When you are invisible to your family, you feel invisible to everyone and I grew up very shy.  I had a hard time making friends and an even harder time keeping them.  It wasn’t until I entered 4th grade that life became a little less lonely. A new family moved in two doors down from us with two girls my age.  It was a gift from Heaven.  I will be forever grateful to this family that included me in more activities than my own family. (One of Laura Tremaine’s other questions-”WHO SHOWED UP FOR YOU?” ).  The years they lived by my family and even after they moved away to northern Indiana were some of the happiest of my childhood.  I grew up with them and I never felt “in the way”.  I was closer to their grandmother than I was to my own.  When they moved away, I would always visit them several times a year and we wrote long letters to each other.  Sadly, when I moved away from Fort Wayne after college, we lost touch.  I hope they know how much they mean to me.

Junior High was the toughest time of my life.  Being 13 is hard enough, but being 13 and invisible to your family is even harder.  I developed OCD and anxiety.  I would rather die than talk to my parents about it, so I suffered in silence.  I cut my hair in weird places and started lying to people to make my life seem more interesting than it was.  When I developed nervous coughing, my mother took me to her ENT and was surprised when the treatments didn’t work.

High school was a little better.  I got a job and I came out of my shell a little.  I made friends and went out on the weekends,  But I never had a boyfriend and I never went to prom.  By then I had become anorexic and had gained the attention of my mother because she thought I looked better skinny.

Finally, life began to change in my Junior year of high school.  I got a job at our local department store and started to gain some self confidence.  My brother was dating the woman that would become his wife and my best friend and she helped me grow my confidence greatly.  By the time I met Kevin at age 21, I was very social and flirty.  I took a horrible job out of college (still working on self esteem), so when Kevin asked me to move with him to Hickory, NC, I jumped at the chance to leave my past behind.  My mother made my move all about her and how I was deserting her.  Funny, I didn’t know you could desert someone you were invisible to.  (My dad was none too happy either, but more from the “living in sin” point of view).

Entering into a serious relationship with low self esteem causes issues too.  I put up with way too many things from Kevin at the beginning of our relationship.  Some of those issues are still being worked on by us even today.  I don’t believe I became my “real” self until I became a mother.  Even with the bedrest and the postpartum depression, becoming a mother was the best thing that has ever happened to me.  It gave me a self confidence that I had never had before because I was making a life for a child I loved more than anyone in this world.

That is when my childhood family relationships really started falling apart.  I started standing up to my mother more and I started questioning my sister-in-law’s parenting decisions.  When you start standing up to people that are used to you being a doormat, it causes problems. I believe that my dad enjoyed this new found courage in me and we became very close until he passed away.

When I hit the age of 42 and entered perimenopause, I broke again.  Severe depression took over my mind and my body and I truly wanted to die.  Luckily, I had two reasons to live-my husband and my daughter.  I still suffer from depression and I know that I have to take care of my mental health.  I am grateful that my anxiety and OCD have been under control for many years now.

So here I am nearing 60 years of age and I can proudly say I am no longer broken. I haven’t been for a long time.  I have long time friends that have been through this journey with me and I have new friends who love me for the strong woman I am.  I also have people in my life that I have decided to let go.  People who enjoyed the ‘broken” me and not the strong me. And that is okay.  A dear friend recently said that some people are friends for life and some for a season. The people in my life now are people who add joy, love and laughter.  The ones left behind, I hope they figure out how they are “broken” and find healing.

Safe travels,

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I wrote a blog post about a year ago about declaring my independence from the mental illness in my family.  I had decided to write a book, and I did start it.  It was a horrible experience.  I started having nightmares.  The kind where you shout out in your sleep and wake up crying.  I decided that the way to get through my past was not to relive it.  I had survived and I wasn’t going to ruin all the hard work I had done in my life to write a book.  I put the book writing away and stopped writing altogether.

I really didn’t know how I was going to share my story without going into a deep depression.  Then, something wonderful happened.  I have been thinking for months on how to express my experience without getting preachy.  Please stick with me on this one, even if you are not a person of faith.

I joined Bible Study Fellowship in January 2020.  We haven’t been “church going” Christians for sometime, but I missed studying the bible and the fellowship at church.  BSF was the perfect solution for me.  We met on Wednesday mornings, had a small group session followed by a small sermon with the whole group.  I enjoyed being with other Christian women and sharing our faith.  BSF has very strict rules on not disclosing what denomination you are, we are just there to study the Bible and support each other with prayer.  I loved it!  Well, you know what happened in 2020.  We ended our study year on ZOOM in May with hopes of being able to meet in person in September.

September came around and, of course, we had to do the study by ZOOM again.  We were assigned the same groups, so I felt very comfortable being back with the women I had come to care so much for.  My only concern was that we were going to be studying Genesis.  I was afraid it was going to be all history and not much spiritual.  Boy, was I wrong.  This Genesis study gave me exactly what I had been looking for, a way to forgive my mother once and for all.

Now, I know when most people think of Genesis, you think of controversy.  Creationism v. Evolution.  Did Noah really build that big of an ark?  I am not going to focus on those issues.  What changed my life was the story of Abraham and his family.

God chose Abraham to be the “Father of a Great Nation”.  The three most prominent religions can trace their roots directly to Abraham.  Jews are direct descendants of Abraham.  Muslims claim Ishmael, Abraham’s son with Hagar, as a prophet.  And Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, is a descendant of Judah, Abraham’s great grandson through Isaac and Jacob.  This is considered fact by all three religions.  What is fascination is HOW these three world religions came to be.

Abraham is considered a great prophet, but he had major flaws.  The first being that he didn’t trust God to give him a son with his elderly wife Sarah, so he slept with Hagar and had Ismael.  When Sarah gave birth to Isaac, the chosen one, Ismael and his mother were outcasts.  Yet God provided for them.  When Judah and his brothers sold Joseph into slavery, God protected Joseph and allowed him to save his family when famine struck the country.  God chose Judah to be the connection between Christians and Abraham, since he was Jacob’s oldest son.  The whole book of Genesis is about how badly humans messed up, but God in his wisdom, used human failure to His glory.  

Now, as I am studying how God chose these messed up people to be HIS people, it got me thinking about my past.  Yes, I was emotionally abused by my mother and ignored most of my childhood and adolescence by both my parents.  However, I have a wonderful life!  I have a marriage of 34 years to a man I love and a daughter who is my best friend.  I have a beautiful retirement home in the town of my dreams. Could it just be possible that God used the bad things done to me to His glory? For my glory?  It took weeks of study, but God softened my heart and made me realize that my faith had gotten me through the hard times (even as a child) and God had granted me this wonderful life as my reward.  How could I not forgive my mother when I have this wonderful life!  Gradually, the burden started to lift from my shoulders and I was able to forgive.  I realized that reliving the past is not the way to forgiveness.  The way to forgiveness is allowing God to work in your heart and take your burden from you.

Now, I know, to some people I sound like a crazy lunatic.  Being a person of faith has gotten me through so many rough times, that I have learned to listen to God’s guidance. This was the hardest spiritual growth I have ever gone through. But if God can forgive, so can I. This doesn’t change my past, but it gives me a way to accept it and not be bitter.  I still can’t help and wonder what my life would have been like had my parents been different.  If they had taken an interest in my life.  If my mother had told me I was beautiful (my dad always did).  If my parents had raised my sister, brother and I to be a family and not competitors for their affection.  If I hadn’t been so lonely growing up, would I still have had the OCD and anxiety I had as an adolescent. What if my mother wasn’t such a narcissist and made our whole family about pleasing her?  What if I had been told I was special and could be anyone I wanted in the world?  Maybe I wouldn’t suffer clinical depression?  What if my mother hadn’t been so good at Gaslighting that she had my father believing things that weren’t true?  What if my mother had been able to FORGIVE?  Maybe I wouldn’t have had such a hard time forgiving her.  

I miss my father everyday, but when my mother died I was just happy that she was no longer in pain; both physically and emotionally.  I actually had a dream last night where my mother had died and I was going through her jewelry box and I could smell her perfume. I woke up and knew I had reached a milestone in my forgiveness journey.  I was sad she was gone and the smell of her perfume made me remember the good times, the loving times.

So where do I go from here?  I keep living my life faithfully and I continue to “explore” my past through the present.  That is where this blog is going.  It fits the “No Map Necessary” title to a tee, because I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that the past no longer weighs me down.  For this, I will be eternally grateful.

Safe travels,


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Laurence “Pete” Peterson died yesterday Feb 3 from complications from Covid-19.  Pete was a husband, father, grandfather, brother and retired Marine.  He was my friend and I miss him greatly.

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Pete was a big man in size and personality.  He always had a smile and a corny joke to tell when you saw him.  Pete and his wife, Rita, were the first people we met when we moved to Oceanside.  The minute we pulled into our driveway, they were over inviting us to dinner.  That is the kind of neighbors they are.  If you live on Saguaro Place, you know Pete and Rita and you have probably eaten some of Rita’s wonderful cooking.

Pete epitomized the phrase “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”  He was proud of his 20 years of service to his country.  Pete earned two Purple Hearts during combat in Vietnam. He also suffered from PTSD and Agent Orange poisoning.  Pete volunteered at the Marine Recruiting Center San Diego as a docent in the Marine Museum.  Pete and Rita took us to many events at the center as their guests and Pete knew everyone.  Recruits go through the museum at the end of boot camp and Pete loved to tell the stories of the young men he met.

Whenever we would go out to dinner with Pete and Rita, young recruits would come to our table and ask him how he got his Purple Hearts.  Pete would always turn around the conversation to the young recruits and what they wanted to do as a Marine.

Rita was everything to Pete.  Pete had an unhappy first marriage ruined by the war.  His marriage to Rita lasted almost 43 years.  They renewed their vows for their 40th anniversary and Pete asked me to help him pick out a ring for Rita.  I was honored.

On a personal level with Kevin and I, Pete was a jokester.  He always had something crass and funny to say to us.  He would cut out newspaper articles for us.  If he saw something he knew we were interested in, he would let us know.  Pete did this with everyone-he didn’t know a stranger.

We share a neighbor behind us that likes to play her music way too loud.  Even after she called him names when he asked her to turn it down, he offered to buy her earbuds so she could listen to her music without bothering her neighbors.  That is the kind of person he was.  She never took him up on the offer.

I can’t even begin to list the number of times Pete and Rita took us out to dinner or to the casino or to one of the military bases.  We became family without even trying.  Pete used to say we were the only people he knew from Indiana and he had decided we were “alright”.

Last year, our world fell apart when Kevin was diagnosed with Afib and our beloved dog, Archie, had to be put down due to cancer.  Pete would call all the time to see how Kevin was feeling.  When they knew we had taken Archie to a special vet and that it was expensive, Pete and Rita came over to our house together and gave us money to help cover the costs.  When we decided to rescue our Irene, they came over and gave us more money to help pay for her adoption fees.  Kevin and I had never received such generous and unselfish gifts in our lives.  To not take the gift would have deeply insulted them, so we promised someday we would help someone like they had helped us.  I will never forget their kindness.

The last time we talked with Pete was Sunday night.  Rita had called to let us know that Pete was in the hospital and had tested positive for Covid-19.  Pete called Kevin to tell us  he probably wasn’t going to make it and that he had enjoyed having us for neighbors.  He asked us to take care of his wife.  Even at the end of his life, Pete was thinking of others.

I am a better person having known Pete.  I still can’t believe that I will never see him again and I am heartbroken that his dear Rita couldn’t be by his side when he died.  We can’t be with Rita because she has to quarantine until Feb 14th.  We call her two or three times a day.  She is in shock and deep grief.

So my purpose for writing this blog is this- if such a generous and loving man can be taken down by this horrible virus, anyone can.  Yes, he had underlying health issues, but he had a will to live to be with his Rita; and even the powerful Pete couldn’t push through this nightmare.  I am asking that everyone continue to wear masks, social distance and get the vaccine when it is your turn.  Pete had had his first dose of the vaccine, but it wasn’t enough to keep the virus from killing him.  This virus is REAL, it is everywhere and it kills.  Even if you don’t want to wear a mask, wear one.  Wear one for the person in line next to you at the grocery, wear it for the checkout clerk at Target, wear it for the receptionist at the car repair shop.  Wear a mask in memory of my friend Pete.  Be generous.

Safe travels,


Looking Forward

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Happy New Year!  It has a whole new meaning this year, doesn’t it?  I should be wishing you a happier and kinder New Year.  For those of us that survived 2020, it will go down for me as a year I never want to repeat.  It has been a year of loss, stress, isolation and fear.  It has also been a year of insight, strength and love.  Going into 2021, it is as if we are living in different countries with different rules. Where I live in Southern California, we are going through the worse of the pandemic RIGHT NOW.  There is a stay at home order that many people and businesses are not adhering to.  Hence, the ICU capacity in SoCal is 0%.  Back in Indiana where I am from, life seems to be going on as if the pandemic is completely under control.  It is confusing to see people on vacation, while we are afraid to leave our home.  Our daughter flew out for Christmas and I still feel a little guilt over exposing her to airport and airplane germs.  It was important for us to be together as a family, so she came.

I am encourage by the fast development of the vaccines to fight Covid and discouraged by the slowness of their distribution.  I am also concerned with the number of people afraid to take the vaccine due to different conspiracy theories.  These vaccines are miracles of modern genetic science and I will gladly take one as soon as it is offered to me!

So, I am entering 2021 the same way I enter the Pacific Ocean to swim.  A little bit at a time, getting my footing, checking the current and being sure I am comfortable before I go under water.  I have come up with a little acrostic poem for the New Year.

Freedom to move around

Overdue visits with friends and family

Release of the weight of a pandemic in the world

Welcoming visitors into my home again

Actually hugging people again

Relaxing on vacation without worry

Distribution of an effective vaccine

This is my New Year’s wish for the world moving forward.  What is yours?

Safe travels, Lori

What We Have Gained and What We Have Lost

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No matter where you live in the world, 2020 had been truly one of the most unusual years in history.  On this Election Day of such magnitude, I thought it would be a good exercise to go back over the year and show gratitude for the good that has happened this year among all the strife.  It has been proven that showing gratitude everyday makes you a happier person and gratitude can even make you healthier.  So here is my list of not only what 2020 has taken from me, but what it has given to me also.

2020 started out as a horrible year even before the words “Corona Virus” were part of our vocabulary.  We found out in early January that our beloved goldendoodle Archie had terminal lung cancer.  We had to say goodbye to him on January 12th.  Archie was my spirit animal and I will miss his gentle loving ways the rest of my life.  At the same time that we found out that Archie was ill, we also found out that Kevin was very ill.  Kevin was diagnosed with afib in early December and in January we found out it wasn’t just ordinary afib, it was afib where his heart was pumping at only 14% from his left ventricle.  This diagnosis, at the same time as losing Archie, almost did us in.  God put a wonderful electro cardiologist in our lives that was upbeat and positive that Kevin would be okay with time.  God also put the organization Paws into Grace in our lives.  Archie passed away peacefully at our home surrounded by love.  Even in the darkest storm, I am grateful for the care given by these professionals.

February came around and something wonderful happened.  We met a little scamp of a dog that needed rescued.  We hadn’t planned on getting a rescue; we had already put money down on a puppy we would get in April.  But this little dog stole our hearts and became our beloved Irene.  No dog could ever replace Archie, but Irene has more personality than any dog I have ever known.  She is loving and naughty and playful and a down right terror.  She saved us as much as we rescued her.  (She is keeping an eye on the street as I write this to protect me from any invaders!)  So while we lost our Archie, we gained Irene.  Not our plan, but I am so grateful to have her in our family.

Molly arrived for her two week Spring Break in March, just as the shutdowns for the virus began.  We were supposed to have a girl’s trip to Palm Springs, but the hotels and restaurants were closing along with just about everything else.  Molly’s two –week trip turned into seven.  I am so grateful she was here to go with me foraging for everything from hamburger to toilet paper, since Kevin had to avoid going out while his heart was getting stronger with the medicine he was on.  So we lost our trip and our ability to move around freely, but we gained five weeks with our precious daughter.  For that I am grateful.

Molly went home the beginning of May and we had to learn how to live with Covid just the two of us.  We had been playing games via Zoom with two couples we had become friends with and these friendships began to deepen.  When the restrictions started lifting, we spent our summer social distancing at the beach and hanging out on Thursday nights with our new good friends.  We are so grateful for these friendships so late in all our lives.  To find people you enjoy being with and have so much in common with in your 50’s and 60’s is truly amazing.  So, instead of a summer filled with visitors, we had a summer of beaching and a small group of good friends.  For that, I am grateful.

I had finally gone to the doctor about the pain in my neck and shoulder.  Turns out I have a “frozen” shoulder.  I have always held my anxiety in my shoulders and it finally caught up with me.  My doctor recommended physical therapy.  My physical therapist has been a Godsend in my life.  Not only is she wonderful at her job, she has become a friend.  I am now seeing her, doing aqua therapy and seeing an Osteopath Orthopedic.  I am so grateful for the care and treatments I am receiving to gain back the use of my shoulder without surgery.

August beckoned with Kevin finally undergoing his Ablation for afib.  I had not been able to go to any of his pre-op appointments due to Covid, so I had no idea what the surgery was going to be like.  They kept saying “procedure”, but this “procedure” took five hours and included the surgeon going through Kevin’s heart wall to treat both chambers of his heart.  I spent those hours at home with Lola and Irene praying for a good outcome.  I am very grateful for the phone call during surgery to let me know he was doing well and so very, very, grateful for the wonderful outcome of the surgery.  While we loss many weeks to worry, we gained the blessing of a healthy heart for Kevin. 

September came and we celebrated Kevin’s 62nd birthday with a quick trip to Arrowhead with the dogs.  We spent the rest of September enjoying our beach, including trips to Coronado beach with our Doodle Group friends.  We have a special bond with our Doodle friends.  They took care of us when we lost Archie and they welcomed Irene with loving arms.  They “talk” dog like we do and I am so grateful to have them in our lives.

October arrived and after a very long six months, we got to spend a wonderful week with Molly.  We kept busy doing things that we couldn’t during the lockdown, including going to the beach three days.  We are blessed to have such an amazing daughter who still likes to spend time with her parents!

So, it is Election Day and I have no idea if I am going to be grateful or terrified at the end of the day.  This has been an election year like no other and I just hope and pray we make it through as a united country.  Even though we have been through a lot this year as a family, so many families have it so much worse.  There have been lives lost to Covid.  There have been live lost to police brutality.   Unemployment has skyrocketed and now there are new outbreaks of the virus across the country along with flu season.  I am scared to be honest as I write this, because there is no map where we are going as a country.  I have to concentrate on all I have to be grateful for and remember that God is in control.  I pray that if you are reading this, you can go back through your year and find some good.  Find some gratitude.  Give some grace to your neighbor or friend that doesn’t have the same political views as you do.  Most of all, remember that no matter what the outcome of the election, YOU have the power to affect change around you.  Be grateful for what you have, not just sorry for what you have loss.  Be the positive to someone’s negative.  Let’s remember we are all on the same team-we are all humans and we ALL matter.

Safe travels,


Dig Deep

agriculture backyard blur close up
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I have just finished writing the second chapter of my book on mental illness in my family. The first two chapters are about my maternal grandmother and my mother up to my birth. Doing this research and actually writing about their lives has helped me to internally resolve some issues I still had with my mother. Knowing what she had as an example for a mother helps me to understand why she did some of the things she did in her life. As the old saying goes, “she did the best she knew how to do.” My question for now is –does that excuse still hold today? Is doing the best we know how to do enough in today’s society? My answer is a firm NO!

My whole reason for writing the book is to help people, both young and old, to come to resolution over the trauma they may have experienced as the child of a parent with mental illness. Does that give the children of the mentally ill a pass to abuse their children in the same way they were abused? This is something that I have had to deal with everyday that I have been a mother. Sometimes it is not easy. Some days it has been nearly impossible. But I offer no excuses. I can and must do better as a mother, wife and human being than my mother did. Why? Because I have resources that were not available during my grandmother and mother’s lives. I have knowledge and the ability to get help, when they did not. I made the CHOICE to get help, not just for my daughter, but also for my marriage and myself. Kevin and Molly will tease me about things I used to do, and I always say,” That was before medication!” We laugh about it now, but it was no laughing matter at the time. Depression and anxiety takes away a piece of your soul that makes you the person you want to be. It leaves you with a shell of yourself and unable to show the emotions you need to show. Especially the emotions of empathy, sympathy, understanding and reason. My grandmother and mother lived most of their lives as shells of the people they really were because of mental illness and the lack of effective treatments. I am so very blessed to have received the help and care over the years that I needed. I am blessed to have a husband who stood by me, and a daughter who was able to forgive me during my awful moments.

I want to take this lesson and apply it to race relations in our nation. I will never know what it is like to be black in our country, but I do know what it is like to be a woman with mental illness. I know what it is like to see your mother quietly suffer with actions she doesn’t even understand why she does them. We all have something in our lives that make us “less than” a whole person in the eyes of others, but skin color? You can’t pick your skin color any more than I could pick my parents. It is what it is. How we react is what matters.

Why are black people seen as less than white people in the United States? It all goes back to one horrible thing-slavery. Some of our white ancestors decided to kidnap black people from their home nations and make them slaves. Why? My only thought is that they wanted to feel “more than” someone else. They wanted free labor. They wanted to rule over someone else to feel “good” about themselves. One of my favorite books/movies is Gone With the Wind”. I love it for the romance and the drama, but I also love it because the slaves get freed and the rich people end up miserable. Even as an adolescent I knew that slavery was a horrible thing.I also love the movie The Ten Commandments for the same reason. God blesses the slaves and brings them out of Egypt and curses the Pharaoh.

I was not raised to be aware of racism. I don’t think my parents even knew any black people. Fort Wayne Community schools started busing inner-city kids out to the suburbs in seventh grade. Until that grade, there had been just two black kids in my school. Unbelievable! But that is what Systemic Racism is-unbelievable. But is happens everyday in this country and it has since the days of slavery.

Why does Systemic Racism continue? Because there are still white people who want to feel “more than” someone else. Instead of doing research and understanding the Black community, they go about their lives doing “the best they can” to accept black people into society. Guess what folks, your “best you can” isn’t working anymore than my mother’s “best she could” worked on me. It is time to DO BETTER! It is time to accept you have failed and need “treatment”. It is time to realize than NO ONE is better than someone else in God’s eye and in the end, isn’t that all that really matters? If you aren’t religious, you are still human and you need to treat your black neighbors as you would your white.

There isn’t enough time or space for me to write about how the mentally ill have been abused in our country. Nor is there enough time or space for me to write how the Black community has been abused. My message is this-we all matter. Black lives, brown lives, white lives, mentally ill lives, handicapped lives, homeless lives, and unemployed lives. WE ALL MATTER! DIG DEEP people and find that part of your existence that isn’t just a shell, but your true soul. Then live your life, your full life and BE BETTER!

Safe travels,



The Struggle is Real

yellow school bus on road
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I have to admit, I am on the Struggle Bus this week. The two people I love most in the world are facing possible life threatening situations and there is nothing I can do about it. I don’t like not being in control – I think I have mentioned this before. The only thing I can do is pray and I have been doing that 24/7. Let me fill you in.

Molly finally has her dream job. She will be teaching Fourth Grade at a school where teachers are supported and valued. She has a great team to work with and she gets to teach math, which is her favorite subject to teach. The only problem-school start Wednesday, in person, with 23 students in her class. During Covid. She has asthma. Her asthma has gotten much better since she was a child, but she still battles about one bout of bronchitis a year. The school is supplying the teachers with shields and all students must wear masks at all times. But I can’t help but worry. She is MY baby and there is absolutely nothing I can do about the situation but pray. Pray that the precautions taken by the school system are enough. Pray that her students abide by the mask-wearing rule. Pray that no one Molly comes in contact with is Covid positive. When you have an adult child, you pray A LOT because you can’t make decisions for her. You can only pray that God will watch over her and keep her safe. This just feels different because if she gets sick, I won’t be able to go and take care of her. I won’t even be able be near her. Can’t help it-it’s a struggle for me.

Speaking of taking care of people, it just so happens that the day after Molly starts teaching, Kevin is having his ablation done. This is a common procedure to correct Afib and get him off the medication his is taking. Under normal circumstances, I would be at the hospital with him. But we are living in the time of Covid, where you can’t enter a hospital without a Covid test. Kevin gets one Tuesday, me nothing. We have been told absolutely nothing about what I am going to be permitted to do. We are prepared for me to drop him off at the hospital Thursday and pick him up the next day. Again, all I can do is pray. Pray for a successful procedure. Pray Kevin doesn’t contract Covid in the hospital. Pray that I don’t go crazy with worry. Pray, pray, pray, pray.

On top of all of that I am writing a book about my dysfunctional family. I am ¾ of the way through Chapter 2, which tells the story of my mother’s life before I was born. Much of it is based off of memories of the stories she told me and conclusions I have made from my life as her daughter. It is not easy to write unpleasant things about your mother. I have been having nightmares again. Like I do with depression. I have a frozen shoulder because I hold all my tension in my shoulders and I wake up from my nightmares completely tensed up. I have a great Physical Therapist, who has become part counselor to me. She can tell when I have had a rough night.

Here is the strange thing. With all this going on, I feel emotionless on the surface. I am numb. This is not my first rodeo with God testing my faith. I know He is in control and there is nothing I can do about the situations. I have blanketed my fears in faith and it has helped to calm me. I should be going off like “a clay pigeon” as Kevin likes to say, but I am strangely quiet. Maybe accepting that I am on The Struggle Bus and accepting I have no control is a positive. I am not fighting against it-I have accepted it. I have no idea what life will look like a week, month or even year from now, but I am accepting of it. My lack of emotion kind of scares me, because it is so unusual for me. Am I depressed? Maybe. I am under the care of amazing professionals, so maybe being numb is a healthy way to cope. I have no idea.

I know that I am not the only one struggling during this unprecedented time. People are out of work. Families have lost loved ones and don’t have enough food to eat. We are all trying to figure out our “new normal” and no one is enjoying it. All I can say is pray, pray, pray. It is the only way for me to accept the things I cannot control and turn them over to God. If you are a praying person, if you could add one for the McLeasters this week, I would appreciate it. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord.” Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.

Safe travels,



And So It Begins

white ruled paper
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So why do I want to write about my family’s history of mental illness and its effect on my life? After all the responses I received from my last blog, I think many of my generation already know. I need to write about mental illness in families because so many people have lived with it and through it without any help. Children of the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s were not always parented in a nurturing way. It was tough times for our country- depression, war, death, and despair. Families were just trying to get by with enough to live on. Some children were lucky and had a parent or a sibling that they were nurtured by, but many were just ignored and told to do their work and stay out of the way. Some children, like my husband’s aunt, were even sent to other families to be raised because there were too many in the house. (She was one of nine of a widowed mother and lived with another family during the week to go to school.)

What effect did this have on Baby Boomers? Parents who sometimes didn’t know how to be nurturing parented us. We were sometimes lucky and got one parent with a kind and loving heart (my dad), but many times we got two parents who didn’t know how to nurture and, therefore, we were treated like WE didn’t matter. Ask any Baby Boomer about summers when they were a kid and they will tell you the same thing – “I was told to leave the house and not come back until supper” After supper, you were told not to come in until it was dark. Our parents didn’t know where we were. My parents never even asked me where I was. The important thing is that I wasn’t bothering them.

I didn’t just come up with this idea. I took a class for Early Childhood Development that stated very clearly that you parent in the way you were parented, even if you swear to yourself that you “won’t become your mother”. You can’t help it. It is innate in your psyche. What you can do is make a conscious effort NOT to follow in your parent’s footsteps and be a BETTER nurturing mother or father.

That is what my book is about. It is about my journey to be BETTER. It is my fight against the stigma of mental illness in families. My dear husband’s father battled depression his whole and ended his life with suicide. That means our daughter has familiar mental illness on BOTH sides of her family. This is my battle to let my daughter know that she CAN talk to her family about mental illness. Think how different Kevin’s father’s life would have been if he had received the help available in today’s world WITHOUT the stigma associated with mental illness.

That is the reason for the book. It has taken me many years to get strong enough to write it. I will be reliving many painful memories. But I will also be educating others through my experiences and I will be confirming that you can get better. You can get help. I was in college before I started feeling good about myself as a person. Eighteen years to feel I was worth something. I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through, but I can’t ignore my past. I kept it inside for so many years and it finally exploded in my 40’s. If reading my experiences helps even one person feel more confident about their experiences, then I will have accomplished my goal. If it helps one person to seek help for mental illness, I will be ecstatic. I believe this is God’s purpose for me at this point in my life and I am devoted to doing His will.

Speaking of God, my book will have a lot of God in it. For one reason and one reason only-when no one was there for me, GOD was. My parents did one thing completely right- they raised us with in a wonderful church and instilled in ME (I can’t talk for my siblings) a faith that has never failed me. I promise I won’t be preachy, but this book can’t be written without a strong testament to my faith in God.

I have written the Introduction and first chapter of the book as of today and I am deep into the second chapter. The first three chapters are about my maternal grandmother, my mother up to my birth and my father up to my birth. The chapter on my grandmother is very short, because I know so little about her. This has definitely made me realize that even though we live 2000 miles away from Molly; if she has children we WILL be involved in their lives. I lived 30 minutes from both of my grandmothers and what I know about them I can write on very few pages. So sad for our whole family and the experiences we missed out on.

I am writing the chapter about my mother’s early life and it too has holes in what I know. My mother only shared what she wanted you to know and how she wanted you to know it. I have pictures. I have Ancestry records. I have my memories. I have my TRUTH and it is worthy of being heard. It is a journey that is just beginning. Please join me.

Safe travels,






My Independence Day




Today doesn’t feel much like the 4th of July at our house. We are not really able to go anywhere because of the crowds. The things we usually do on the 4th like go to a movie and out to dinner aren’t possible. So while I am grateful to be an American, I don’t feel much like celebrating. There is just too much wrong with our country to have a celebration. Too many people are turning a blind eye to Covid-19 so they don’t have to be inconvenienced. So, I decided that today was going to be MY Independence Day. The day I announce that I am writing my memoir. Now, many of you who know me are thinking, she is just an ordinary woman-what does she have to write about. I am declaring my independence from the secrets of my past. The secrets that everyone in my family turned a blind eye to for most of my life- I am talking about mental illness.

It has taken my whole life (58 years) to be confident enough to write this. Those who know me now cannot imagine that I was anything but a confident, intelligent woman with a nice life. Those who knew me in K-12 think, boy she really came out of her shell and made something of her life. Both are true. Both are painful to talk about. Both almost killed me.

My maternal grandmother had schizophrenia. She was a cold woman that I really never knew. It took lots of counseling and lots of self -reflection to realize what her mental illness did to my mother. And what it did to my mother, she did to me. My mother never told me I was pretty. She never asked me how I was feeling about something, even when I was upset. She never put my needs before hers unless she got something out of it. She always gave me the feeling that I had to live up to her standards of the day to gain her attention. I could never talk to her about what was going on in my life, even when I was little. I was taught to be quiet and stay out of the way. My mother could make me feel like the biggest disappointment in her life. There would be times where I would think we were close, and then something would happen that would take months to repair.

Schizophrenia doesn’t just make you “see things”, it controls your emotions to the point where you can show neither joy nor sorrow. My mother was never diagnosed with ANY mental illness, but I know she suffered from many. How do I know?   She raised me and I suffer from mental illness. It is genetic and it is brutal. It is especially hard when it is ignored, as it was with my mother. One of her greatest skills was gas lighting. She was wonderful at getting people (including my beloved father) to believe her reality. It isn’t easy being raised by a gas lighter. I never knew what was real. My mother could make me feel like I was worthless, so when I did well in school or someone wanted to be my friend, I didn’t have the self confidence to believe I was worthy.

Things started to change for me after high school. Even though I lived with my parents while going to IPFW, being out in the world and meeting new people made me realize that my family life was not normal. I loved my mother, but I started lying to her on a regular basis in high school. She never knew the real me after about age 17. It was the only way to survive.

I will be writing my life’s journey in and through mental illness. It is a long story filled with pain, anger, denial, love, hate, but most of all; it is a story of resilience. The resilience of three generations of women living with mental illness and dealing with it the best they could. I loved my mother, but she was not an easy person to love. Yet,  I wanted more than anything to please her. When she died, there were so many things left unresolved between us. So, here, in my blog, I will be writing about the journey of writing my memoir. It is emotional and heartbreaking at times. More than anything, it is my truth and I finally have the courage to write it. The picture for this blog post I just took. It’s me, sitting on our couch. No make up, just the confidence to show myself for who I am. I hope you will join me on this journey. I have no map for where this will take me. I just know I need to go.

Safe travels,


How are You?

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“How are you”, is the first question out of my mouth when I talk with someone these days. In the world of Covid-19, it is the natural question. The health of the world has never been in the forefront of everyone’s minds more in my lifetime. We are dealing with a pandemic that hasn’t been seen since the 1918 Spanish Flu. So, how are YOU doing?

If I answer this question for myself, it isn’t a short answer. It depends on the day, the news, the weather and my family. Everyone is experiencing situations that we never thought we would have to deal with. Not being able to buy toilet paper when you need it? Going to the grocery store and not being able to buy everything you need? Being afraid to be closer than six feet to anyone but whom you live with? Sanitizing everything, all the time? All of this to avoid being infected with a deadly virus for which there is no cure? Some days, it’s just too much to wrap my brain around. Some days I am thankful for the quiet. Some days I don’t see the point of getting out of bed. Some days I have something to look forward to-it’s sunny and warm, we are going for a drive, we are getting carryout food. I do know, that being optimistic has never been more important. I have depression and I can feel it tingling under my skin some days. Those are the days I need to be kind to myself. I need to be a patient with Kevin and Molly. I need to sit in the sun and get rays. I need to go for a walk. Other days, I will spend an hour on the phone with friends or family. Some days it’s housework (not my favorite days) and some days it’s hours of watching mindless television. Some days we play games and laugh. Some days we play games and aggravate each other. EVERYDAY, though, I wake up and know that I am blessed. We are all healthy. We have toilet paper. We are able to get the food we need. We have two dogs that bring us joy. Most importantly, we are together. This morning in my bible study (where we were able to see each other through the wonder of Zoom), one of the ladies said that God is refining us everyday during this quarantine. He is refining us to live with less, count our blessings and turn towards Him, the Giver of all we have.

One of the issues that I have had to turn inward on is politics. I know, my last blog was completely about politics. But the last two weeks have made me realize a few facts. Our country is so divided by politics that we are not focusing on what we really need right now-comfort, empathy and support. I am not a Trump fan and I am not happy with how this whole situation was handled from the start. However, continuing to be angry gets me nowhere. Anger usually stems from fear and fear actually has been shown to lower your immunity. So have I decided to limit my exposure to the things that make me angry and focus more on the blessings in my life. I am limiting my time watching the news. I am limiting my time on social media. I am enjoying being with my family and dogs. I am taking care of my own. Matthew McConaughey posted on his Instagram to please stay home and take care of your own. By doing this, you are actually taking care of your neighbors and even the whole world.

There are brave men and women who can’t stay home. Doctors, nurses, First Responders, grocery store clerks, warehouse workers, scientists working on an anti-viral, scientists working on a vaccine. Factory workers now making ventilators and masks. These are our heroes. Not the politicians worried about the next election. These are the people who need our support and prayers. And yes, I will even pray for the politicians, for them to listen to the experts and act accordingly.

How are you doing? Not a simple question with a simple answer. I pray that you all are well, safe and at home. As for me, I am putting faith in God to bring us through this pandemic with greater appreciation for our lives and our blessings.


Safe travels, (but stay home, please)



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