Grieving a love gone wrong (by Louise Gallagher)

Back in February I wrote a post for the blog carnival entitled Patiently. It was a fictional account of a victim of domestic violence. Today, I am grateful to have a guest blogger who not only knows first hand what it is to live that nightmare, but was able to escape from it.

Louise Gallagher has moved through Calgary’s corporate hallways to not-for-profit fund-raising and communications. The author of The Dandelion Spirit, A true-life fairytale of love, lies and letting-go, published in 2006, she is the producer/writer of At The Heart of Centre Stage, a one hour documentary for Global Television and numerous other video productions. In addition, Louise’s articles have been published in print and online and she has had several articles aired on CBC Radio.

Louise seeks to inspire everyone to make a difference, in their own lives and in their communities through creative expression in everything they do.

Grieving a Love Gone Wrong

When someone dies, we grieve. The process is well-documented, the steps clearly defined though seldom straight-forward. We each journey through the process at our own speed, in our own time. But, regardless of our pace, we must go through each step to come to that place where we can be at peace with only the memories of the one we loved to warm our hearts, as we learn to accept that they have gone forever as we move on.

We start with disbelief. It cannot be true. They cannot be gone. We are in denial. And then we move into anger. How could they have left us! Why me? Why them? Why now? Why? Why? Why? Anger gives way to bargaining, trying to find some way to reach peace with the inevitable truth that is edging away at the darkness, trying to bring light to the endless night we seem to have slipped into with their passing.

We’re angry they left us, angry they won’t come back. And angry there is nothing that can bring them back — though we keep searching for a way to make the pain of their going, go away. Until, finally, sadness invades our minds like fog drifting upon a river in the grey on grey world of a winter’s dawn as we wade through the pain of the truth seeping into our hearts with chilling clarity. We will never see or feel or hear them again.

As the truth settles in we learn to accept. They are not coming back. Sad, but true. But we have our memories. Those beautiful, jewel encased visions of who this person was and what they meant to our lives. And so we slip from the waters of despair into the memory banks and photo albums of their loving faces frozen in time, etching their images upon the page with our fingers lovingly caressing their smiles as we point and laugh and tell stories about them.

Remembering when. Remembering how. Remembering them. We hold their memory lovingly in our hearts and feel the breath of life return once again to our peace of mind. Knowing that whenever we need to, to have them near all we have to do is open a photo album, slip into our hearts and there they’ll be, forever and a day. And so we grieve as their memory turns into a poem of love we will cherish forevermore.

There is no poetry when grieving a psychopath

Grieving a love gone wrong hurts. Especially when the one we loved has been untrue. Has lied and deceived and manipulated to get what they want. In those memories, there is no place where it is safe to trace their image upon the pages of our mind as we carefully gather mementos in the book of love we are writing in their passing. For, no matter where we roam, the lies, the deceit, the cruelty and desperation we felt in loving them tinges our minds with the ashen silt descending from the volcano that erupted in their passing through our lives.

Where once love blossomed on every branch and flower strewn vistas of happily-ever-after cast a sweet heady aroma of bliss upon our minds, burnt out memories lie etched in stark relief upon the black and grey landscape of our dreams. We are not safe to grieve wrapped in the memories of their love and so must find a way to release the tears without falling into the river of despair as anger and hatred and revulsion invade.

And so we grieve

In anger we turn the pain of having loved a phantom onto ourselves. We search for answers to their duplicity in our own naiveté. We blame ourselves, we find solace in trying to keep alive the image of what we wanted so desperately for him or her to be. We attach ourselves to the belief we love him as reality rises with our racing hearts pounding out the truth in a mind-numbing tattoo. He is the lie. Until finally, like Vesuvius erupting, the anger boils over the top and we are free to vent our tears and pain and fears and anger.

We were betrayed. Not because of anything we did. Not because of who we were, or how we looked or behaved, but simply because the abuser was who he or she was. We were betrayed not because we deserved it, but simply because we lost track of what we truly deserve when he betrayed our truth, our faith, our hope in love. We were betrayed because he chose to betray us and we were not expecting betrayal. We were expecting the love we gave in such breathless wonder to be returned with equal honesty. We were expecting to be cherished as we cherished him. But we didn’t know that upon that first sweet hello, we were targeted for betrayal. And betrayal is hard to grieve.

I grieve for the woman who was abused

When the man who promised to love me ‘til death do us part and who took the death part way too seriously was arrested and I was set free, I wanted to mourn the relationship that was too good to be true. I wanted to grieve the man with whom I’d fallen in love. But he did not exist.

How could I mourn a dream? How could I grieve a figment of my imagination? Where was the substance to the chimera of his being in my life?

When first I was set free, I tried to mourn the man I thought he was and ended up grieving for the woman who was betrayed. Me.

I grieved for the woman who believed in Prince Charming and awoke to her worst nightmare raging in the night. I grieved for the woman who believed no one could willingly, knowingly, consciously create such evil and who had to awaken to the truth. Someone could and that someone was once a man I loved. A man who was untrue.

I grieved the woman whose hungry heart led her into his unholy arms. I grieved the woman who had to give up on believing in herself in order to keep believing in him. And I grieved the woman who almost lost her life because she could not believe she deserved to live. I grieved for that woman who was me who was so wounded, battered and bruised upon the road of life she thought she had no choice but to follow her magical thinking into the nightmare of his lies. She was betrayed and lost her way.

I grieved the past. I grieved the woman-child who believed she deserved to be abused.

In my prayers, I let him go

I did not grieve for him.

I prayed for him. I prayed for him a miracle, for only a miracle will set him free. And in my prayers, I let him go.

And focus on me.

When first I stumbled off that road to hell I could not feel my heart within me, could not feel the warmth of the sun upon my face. I could not feel. In grieving, I shifted my focus from memories of him to memories of me. My life, my joy, my sorrow, my pain, my elation. In grieving, I mourned what happened to me and rejoice in the wonder, the beauty, the joy of being alive today. In living, I create my poem of love that says, this is my one and only life. And I am the one and only me that I can be living it up for all I’m worth in the rapture of now.

Becoming all that I am meant to be

In letting go of him, I catch hold of me and wrap myself up in my loving arms. For I am the wondrous, incredible, miraculous being who has been given this gift of her life to live it in freedom. In freedom, I know that whatever lies I believed, from childhood through to this moment, there is only one lie that could hurt me now – to believe that I am not worthy of love.

He was my worst nightmare. But in his passing, I have been given the gift of truth that has saved my life – I am an awesome human being, worthy of love.

In love with me and my life, I accept all of me. Beauty and the beast. Joy and sorrow. Tears and laughter. Pain and ecstasy. Perfectly human in all my imperfections.

I am not less than, greater than, other than. I am me. And as me, I have the gift of embracing all that I am meant to be when I accept, without equivocation, my truth. I deserve to live my beautiful life without fear of being anyone other than who I am.

To read more from Louise Gallagher, please visit her at Recover your Joy.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, please know that this is not the life God intended for you. Please visit lovefraud.com. There is a better life for you.

The Obligatory Lost Post (Sort of)

I watched Lost Sunday night. For the first time. Ever.

Watched the special programming leading up to the finale, then the final episode. Watching the ending of this epic story, I felt a sense of regret for having not been a part of this six year phenomenon. And while there is no way I can truly appreciate all the relationships, sub-plots and layers of the show, I’d like to make an observation or two—not so much about the show itself, but more about the reactions from its long time fans.

Twitter was awash in #LOST hashtags Sunday night. Everything from “Beautiful, perfect ending” to “the only thing missing was the Bobby Ewing shower scene” to a simple and frustrated “WTF #Lost?”

Much more conversations ensued the following day: on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and presumably television and radio. Much of it centering around what it all meant: What was real? What did the church scene in the end represent? Where were some of the missing players and what did that mean? In my brief observation, there were as many theories as there were conversations and I got the feeling that many people just wanted some concrete, definitive answers to questions they felt were left unanswered.

It seems to me, to a certain extent, that we’ve become a society of mental couch potatoes. Millions of fans fall in love with a show which is wrapped in layers of mystery and then many cry foul when everything is not neatly explained away in the end.

There’s just something profoundly sad in that.

Our children are no longer taught how to learn, they’re taught how to test. College students understand that advancing their professor’s agenda is the recommended approach to their learning experience. We’re losing the ability to think for ourselves; to fill in the blanks with our own interpretations; our own truths.

I really think it’s okay to draw your own conclusions and to write your own narrative in the end. After all, it’s just a story.

I love the artist Seal. One of the reasons I love his music is that he never prints the lyrics to any of his songs on his CDs. When asked why, he said he wanted the songs to mean whatever the listener thought they should mean to them. I think that’s fantastic.

Of course, self interpreted lyrics aren’t always beneficial. I remember when I was in high school and the senior captain for the dance squad choreographed an entire dance routine to Grease’s song “You’re the One that I Want”. Which turned out to be unintentionally hilarious, because when John Travolta sang “I’ve got chills they’re multiplying” she thought he was singing “I’ve got shoes they’re both a-flying!” Again, fantastic!

So, what do you think? Are you okay with the Lost ending, or are you frustrated? Inquiring minds want to know…

Time for Class (by Billy Coffey)

image courtesy of photobucket.com

image courtesy of photobucket.com

Graduation took place here at the college over the weekend. Always a joyous and exciting time for all involved. For me, it means a couple months of relative peace and quiet (both of which are most welcomed). Parents, too, seem ecstatic. Not only have their little ones finally graduated, the weight of having to support them through college has now been thrown off their shoulders with gusto.

But graduation is all about the students. They’re the stars of the show. Four years of late nights and early classes, of endless tests and papers and reading assignments measured in feet rather than pages, is now gone. They’ve proved their worth and endured their hardships. They’re free. The world awaits.

This sort of sentiment was echoed last week by a student so thrilled to just get on with it that she screamed:

“I passed my exam and now I’m getting ready to start looking for a teaching job. I CAN’T WAIT TO START REAL LIFE!!”

I didn’t see this girl. Just heard her. And I likely would have at least tried to get a glimpse to see if I knew her or not, but I didn’t. Couldn’t, actually. I was too paralyzed by laughter to move.

I can’t fault her for saying something like that. Ignorance and youth is a potent combination. Mix them together and you can have all manner of explosions, everything from deeds that really shouldn’t be done to words that elicit guffaws from those older and more experienced. People like that student just don’t know any better. I know this to be true. I was young once. You should’ve heard the things I used to say.

What she’s falling for is the same thing I once did. The same thing we all have done.

She thinks the hard part is over.

It isn’t, of course. For her and the rest of those who stepped upon the stage as students and stepped off as alumni, the real hard part has yet to have happened.

School, the real school, is just starting. And so are the exams.

It’ll start when the teaching job she tries to find isn’t there because of cutbacks and a bad economy. If she’s lucky, she’ll get an aide’s position or substitute. If she’s unlucky, she’ll end up working at the Gap in the mall, making a little over minimum wage with no benefits and school loans to repay.

Another one will come when she gets married and has to learn that love is a complicated thing sometimes. It’s work and it hurts and very often you have no idea at all what you’re doing, yet you feel like you have to anyway.

And kids. Kids are exams of immense pressure and importance. Ones you think you have to not only pass, but ace. But that won’t happen. We all fail those exams from time to time.

Those are just the easy ones, too. Work and love and children are at least tests she’ll be able to somewhat prepare for. She may not know when they’ll be coming, but she may know they will someday.

Most of the other ones are not so accommodating. They’re the pop quizzes of life, the ones you can’t study for and can’t see coming. There will be a lot of those for her, too.

I wouldn’t have told her any of this if I had seen her. Sometimes you have to let someone enjoy the moment, no matter how fleeting that moment may be. And I wouldn’t want to discourage her, either. Because real life truly is exciting and beautiful and wonderful and good despite it all.

She’ll graduate one day, just as we all will. She’ll get her final grade of pass or fail and then step onto the grand stage of this world and step off into the lands of the next.

From now until then, I think, is the greatest exam of all. One that began over the weekend and will continue on until her last breath and God calls, “Pencil down.” It’s a test not of knowledge, but perseverance.

A test to fight the good fight.

To let go and to hang on.

To believe when she doesn’t want to.

And to answer without fail the bell that signals the start of class every day.

 

To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at his blog What I Learned Today and follow him on twitter at @BillyCoffey

I have never been unloved

And neither have you…

 Never been Unloved (by Michael W. Smith)

I have been unfaithful
I have been unworthy
I have been unrighteous
And I have been unmerciful

I have been unreachable
I have been unteachable
I have been unwilling
And I have been undesirable

And sometimes I have unwise
I’ve been undone by what I’m unsure of
But because of You
And all that You went through
I know that I have never been unloved

I have been unbroken
I have been unmended
I have been uneasy
And I’ve been unapproachable

I’ve been unemotional
I’ve been unexceptional
I’ve been undecided
And I have been unqualified

Unaware
I have been unfair
I’ve been unfit for blessings from above
But even I can see
The sacrifice You made for me
To show that I have never been unloved

It’s because of You
And all that You went through
I know that I have never been unloved

Twitter Update: I am Hunter S. Thompson

Happy Saturday everyone! This week on the twitter, it seems everyone was taking the “Which crazy writer are you?” test. Hardly scientific, but as it turns out I am Hunter S. Thompson. No big surprise there…

The best of me (or not) on the twitter this week:

@CassandraFrear @jpwire My long, flowing mane is in no way due to sea monkey.

But if you’re not already following @billycoffey & @AmySorrells, I would highly recommend doing so. Both very special to me.

I hesitate to do #FF, because I’m not kidding when I say I follow some amazing, wonderful people & I don’t want to leave anyone out.

Me too! RT @curtharding: FF @billycoffey //He has inspired me to write better and more often.

@CassandraFrear You don’t actually think I buy any of that crap do you? (in reply to CassandraFrear @katdish Good morning, you wild and crazy shopper, you.)

@billycoffey You is. (in reply to billycoffey @katdish I am, ain’t I?)

@billycoffey You’re so cultured. (in reply to billycoffey @katdish The only noise I hear at the moment are the voices of my two favorite redneck morning radio folks.)

@amysorrells Well, don’t hurt yourself. (in reply to amysorrells @katdish I mean, it’s a good THING. Although I THINK, too, on occasion.)

@CandySteele Ooo! Do it! (in reply to CandySteele @katdish I think I’m going to have to do a ghetto version of your SkyMall post – called Craigslist. #gotridoflotsacrap)

@CandySteele Thanks. Craptastic is a pretty sucktacular word, isn’t it?

@amysorrells Get that hairbrush out and sing it sister! (in reply to amysorrells “My heart can’t possibly break . . . When it wasn’t even whole to start with . . . ” ~Kelly Clarkson)

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink & clamoring 2 become visible – Vladimir Nabokov

Dear major dept store: my daughter is 8 yo. Not quite ready to dress like a prostitot. Love, katdish http://twitpic.com/1p95am

@JeffHolton You forget I live in Texas. And we’re all rich oil barons here. (in reply to JeffHolton @katdish You couldn’t afford me. Heard of Peggy Noonan? Kurt Vonnegut? Maya Angelou? AMATEURS!!)

@JeffHolton Wait…are you offering? (in reply to JeffHolton @katdish It’s same as “I ghostwrite for Katdish” vs. “She kinda mentioned me on her blog once, sorta.”)

How does one confuse “when I served in Vietnam” with “I never really served in Vietnam”? Just curious…

@SouthMainMuse Gaaaa! (in reply to SouthMainMuse @katdish If you start getting texts from this Tiger — it’s probably him.)

Tiger Woods is now following me. Although me thinks it’s not the golfer.

I wouldn’t know >RT @RachelleGardner: “Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.” #funnyquotes

@arestlessheart ATM? Oh…at the moment. For a minute there I thought you were withdrawing some cash. Which would be quite the multi-task! (in reply to arestlessheart @katdish doin’ okay atm – holding baby, trying to work up energy for the next thing…)

@amysorrells Hello, my little guina pig! How are you this afternoon?

@CassandraFrear Cuz she’s a cowgirl…

@CassandraFrear And @marni71 is going to be shot directly into Jon Bon Jovi

@CassandraFrear You know, @candysteele’s ashes are going to be shot out of a cannon, (in reply to CassandraFrear @katdish @jpwire Almost fell off my chair laughing! // RT @katdish Best part? Thompson’s ashes were fired from a cannon! What a way to go!)

@lainiegallagher It’s your world, Lainie. I’m just trying to live in it. (in reply to lainiegallagher @katdish I know; I can’t believe you even had to ask! :D)

@lainiegallagher Well of course you do! (in reply to lainiegallagher @katdish Yes.)

@lainiegallagher OMGoogle! Did you want a more specific test? (in reply to lainiegallagher Interesting. The quiz says I’m JD Salinger, and that I’ve been hiding for several decades. I haven’t even been alive for “several” decades!)

@jpwire @CassandraFrear Best part? Thompson’s ashes were fired from a cannon! What a way to go!

@CassandraFrear Hunter S. Thompson. So there you go…

Just took “Which Crazy Writer Are You?” and got: Hunter S. Thompson! Try it ➔ http://bit.ly/9iDefg

@redclaydiaries I think it means there is no spoon. (in reply to redclaydiaries @katdish I think it probably means something that u & I have such trouble w google calendar. What it means, I don’t know.)

@PeterPollock @billycoffey would be so proud. Well, maybe not the cookie dough part, but still. (in reply to PeterPollock @katdish I keep meaning to do something but apart from watch 24 and make cookie dough, I’ve not really done anything yet!)

@HeatheroftheEO Oh, he’s all Hey and Howdy to the rest of the world. You have no idea… (in reply to HeatheroftheEO I hope you get paid the big bucks to manage @billycoffey ‘s site. It can’t be easy, dealing w/ that tyrant. (I jest on Monday mornings)

The lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math. ~ Ambrose Bierce

@noveldoctor That’s you, Steve. (in reply to noveldoctor @katdish Just think of me as the cloud that gives the silver lining purpose.)

@noveldoctor sigh… (in reply to noveldoctor My Sbux is overflowing with shiny happy people…or shiny brilliant actors masking fathomless despair.)

@sarahmsalter Antonio the tiny wine steward. http://twitpic.com/1og9qp (in reply to sarahmsalter @katdish Awwww. So, now who do you hang out with at the grocery store?)

@sarahmsalter Sadly, he is gone. (in reply to sarahmsalter @katdish Say hi to the PCB for me. 🙂

Why do I put off grocery shopping until there’s no food in the house? Oh yeah…because I hate grocery shopping.

DH: you’re not wearing flops to church. Son: didn’t the 1st Christians wear flops to church? Me: Snort!

@redclaydiaries Spam bots need love too. (in reply to redclaydiaries @katdish I’ll have u know I love ALL of my followers. Except the unclothed ones.)

@gabbysherri Yes. Heaven forbid Steph dip below the 4800 follow mark. (in reply to gabbysherri @redclaydiaries -Steph- Sorry. I didn’t realize It. I just clicked on your name and saw that you were “unfollowed” by me. Sorry.)

@lainiegallagher I cain’t quit you Lainie! (in reply to lainiegallagher @katdish Must be. 😀 You know you love me!)

@lainiegallagher I’m sure it’s completely coincidental. (in reply to lainiegallagher @katdish Man! How does every person I know come up with the exact same nickname for me? Inconceivable!)

@lainiegallagher I’m doing both Judgey McJudgealot. (in reply to lainiegallagher @katdish are you actually eating with your daughter, or playing on your phone?)

I’m seeing a trend. http://twitpic.com/1o2s26

Hmmm… http://twitpic.com/1o2rll

Famous last words: No mom, I don’t need a fork.

Pei Wei Asian chicken salad http://twitpic.com/1o2khw

The picture of stubborness & weinie dogness. @buddylovethedog refuses to do his bidness in the rain. http://twitpic.com/1o1hvl

Just throw that crap away already!

Watching shows like Clean House and Hoarders makes me want to throw things at the TV.

Wow. After 9 am & I’ve yet to hear “There’s nothing to do” yet. Oh, wait. My kids are still asleep.

From Hair to Eternity: The Summer Sky Mall Post

Okay, this is a repost. But since summer is just around the corner, I feel reposting this from last year is my re-gift to my old readers and a new re-gift to my new ones. Sorry/you’re welcome.

Oh, gentle reader! It’s been too long since my last Sky Mall post! Oh sure, I’m all for the occasional serious post and lest we forget my fabulous guest bloggers

But I have neglected you, dearest Sky Mall! How could I go so long without paying homage to you: Giant book of overpriced, unnecessary crap practically begging me to make fun of you? Here it is the beginning of summer, and there’s no doubt piles of disposal income just lying around waiting to be spent! Right? Right? Okay, maybe not…whatever…

Hair is an amazing thing. (Nice segue, huh?) As mammals, we all have varying degrees of it. But we never seem content. We have too much in some places and not enough in others. This has not escaped the attention of the fine folks at the Sky Mall.

R.E.M. Spring Hair Remover $19.95

Do I really need to explain what this thing is? It’s basically a really tightly coiled spring that rips your facial hair out in a completely “pain free” manner. Yeeeaaah. Sure it does. Does it work? Just ask this satisfied Sky Mall customer:

“Wonderful gadget/tool. I’ve told many friends about this and they each plan to purchase one. I’ll be giving them for holidays gifts this year!”

Merry Christmas Aunt Margaret! Thought you might enjoy this as you are beginning to look like Uncle Phil!

And speaking of Uncle Phil, perhaps he might enjoy:

The Hairmax Laser Comb $495.00

“In a clinical study, HairMax treated hair loss and regrew hair for 93% of those who used it. HairMax users also report improved quality, shine and manageability.”

Don’t believe me? Check out THESE results!:

M’kay…I suppose that’s worth 500 bucks plus shipping and handling. Dear menfolk losing your hair: Keep your hair short. If you have a nice looking head, trying shaving it. Just say no to the comb over. Please?

“But katdish! You don’t understand! You have thick, wonderful hair! How can you stand in judgement?” Because I’m katdish…that’s what I do. Okay, okay…check this out:

Toppik Hair Building Fibers $21.95

“Toppik Makes Thin Hair Look Thick and Natural in 30 Seconds over 2 Million People Use It. Doctors Recommend it. Celebrities Won’t go on Without it. Now you can instantly eliminate the appearance of baldness and thinning hair. Toppik gives you greater coverage and a thick, full looking head of hair all in about 30 seconds!”


I’m no scientist or chemist, but I’m pretty sure this is similar to the “sea monkey principle”. (Don’t ask…I just know these things.)

By now you have a great head of hair. So you are no longer self-conscious about getting that hair wet! Time to hit the pool and get some exercise!

Endless Pool $20,900.00

“Our signature product, the Original Endless Pool is designed to fit just about anywhere, indoors or outside…This flexibility has allowed more than 12,000 customers to realize the dream of swimming at home in an Original Endless Pool.”

Wow! Twelve thousand customers? If I had a dollar for every satisfied customer, I still wouldn’t have enough money to buy that pool! I’m guessing you don’t either. No worries, you can still enjoy the cardiovascular benefits of swimming with this next product:

The AquaVee Portable Swim System Kit $84.90


“An easy to install system that turns any pool into a lap pool. The AquaVee installation time takes about 60 seconds and can be used anytime anywhere! The AquaVee is extremely portable and will fit any pool no matter the size.”

Now, I realize to the untrained eye, this looks like some surgical tubing, suction cups and a tube of silicon, but trust me….That’s exactly what it is.

This next catalog item I chose for a couple of reasons. First, the picture is pretty freaky, and second, I’m wondering why that guy didn’t buy the Hairmax Laser Comb. Don’t you think he could afford it? Me thinks, yes…

Executive Health Evaluation: $3,495.00

Experience a day-long, 5-star treatment at one of our beautiful contemporary Centers…(blah, blah, blah….)

Benefits may include: (may include? Craptastic!)

Decreased risk of age-related disease
Improved muscle tone
Decreased body fat
Increased energy
Increased libido
(wink, wink!)
Sharper thinking (so maybe you won’t spend 3500 bucks on a fancy doctor’s appointment!)

The final item up for review has nothing to do with anything really. It just made me giggle:

Giddyup! Core Exerciser – Dual Motor $469.00


“The Giddyup! Core Exerciser is the latest innovation in core strength training! This core exerciser benefits posture, improves balance, builds core strength and has up to 25 speed combinations.”

“The trotting and galloping action of a horse helps strengthen the rider’s spine and pelvic muscles, improves posture and stimulates seldom-used core muscles, in the dorsal and abdominal regions. This product also invigorates the body, promotes good blood flow, and an increased metabolism.”

I’m going to be honest. If they could get Debra Winger to reprise her role as Sissy in Urban Cowboy, mount that thing with a cowboy hat and a Lone Star Beer, I’d have my Visa card out right now…Seriously…am I the only one giggling? Okay…whatever…

Why?

There were a few reasons I decided to move to a WordPress blog. The first and foremost was that I felt I needed a more professional, cleaner look. I really like it. I hope you like it too. Since I’m fairly pathetic and lost when it comes to technical stuff, I knew I would need help getting the look and the flexibility I was after in a new website. Choosing a template was an exhaustive, frustrating search. But once I settled on the Standard Theme, there was really no question as to who I would ask to help me–the person whose work I already knew. Peter Pollock was largely responsible for putting together what I consider to be (in my not so unbiased opinion) one of the best author websites on the internet. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. BillyCoffey.com will be featured in a presentation by the PR firm representing Snow Day (Billy’s debut novel) as a shining example of an effective author website.

Peter was able to take my concepts and Billy Coffey’s eloquent words and create a place that I feel truly reflects who Billy is as a writer and as a person. That’s not as easy as it looks.

I’ve asked Peter to explain what he does. If you’re looking to make a move and you’re in need of assistance, he gets my highest recommendation.

Here’s Peter:

@Katdish suggested I write a post for her about why you should host your website with me. Here’s my thoughts:

One question vexes all businesses, from the heady days of starting out, when they believe their product to be unique and irresistible, to the deep dark days of desperately trying to come up with a new marketing strategy for a dying product, the question remains the same: “Why should people buy my product?”

  • Why buy Coke not Pepsi
  • Why buy a Mac not a PC
  • Why buy Ford not Toyota?

In reality, there is generally not much separating different brands. Really, how much difference is there between Coke and Pepsi? A slightly different taste, different sized bubbles and a different colored can – and that’s pretty much all.

The same is very much true of blog hosts. Our various offerings are virtually identical, in reality, and the average person couldn’t see or feel the differences.

So what is the difference?

Why I Started My Business

Back in 2002, I set up a website for my church. It was my first site and my first experience with web hosting – and it wasn’t a good one.

My specifications were:

  1. Good service
  2. A price our tiny church could afford

The host I found seemed great at first, but a year later a discovered that their customer service was TERRIBLE, just terrible.

It was then that I uttered those fateful words:

“I could do better than this!”

On May 4th 2004 we signed our first customer (who is thankfully still with us) and we’ve been in the business ever since.

Our original mission was to help small churches and charities get their first foot on the website ladder.

My passion was, and still is, to help people get web-connected. I believe the web is such a big part of so many people’s lives that churches and charities simply can’t afford NOT to have a web presence.

Last February, I wrote my first book and started investigating how to get it published. It was then that I fully entered the strange and exciting worlds of writing and blogging and it became apparent to me that here was another area where people desperately need to have a good quality but affordable website. (See Jody Hedlund’s excellent piece on why an online presence is essential for writers).

Through my blog, twitter and Facebook, I met writers and bloggers and began to try to help them build their online presence. I soon realized that most people were being held back by their current blogging platform and the cost of moving to something better.

That’s when the idea for NewBlogHosting.combegan to take shape in my mind. Here was another market that I was passionate about helping and I had the facilities necessary to help them. It didn’t take me long to put two and two together and start designing a service specifically for bloggers.

In short, if you’re looking to start a new blog, either because you want to start your first one or because the one you have needs improving, NewBlogHosting.com is designed to help you.

At just $35 per year, we feel we have the pricing right to balance the need for covering our costs with making the plan affordable to everyone.

We have designers we can recommend and I’m always willing to give a little help here and there to solve problems my clients are having with setting up and adding things to their blogs.

I believe that the difference between us and the competition is that we’re not just in it for the money, we’re in it to help YOU – and we’d love to be given the chance to prove that to you.

Please feel free to visit our site at NewBlogHosting.com or contact me through twitter – and if you sign up with us before the end of June 2010, we’re also giving $15 from each new plan sold to charity.

Captive – A Prologue (by Lainie Gallagher)

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I’ve known today’s guest blogger for almost as long as I’ve been blogging. She had another blog back then, but decided to start a new one because many of her friends and family read her other blog and she felt she couldn’t write as openly and honestly there. I get that. You’ll get that too after you read the following post. She’s written her own bio, so I won’t say much about her except that she’s an exceptional writer, she makes me smile and that I bloggy love her!

Here’s Lainie:

I am a follower of Christ, the wife of David, a teacher to middle schoolers, and the adoptive mommy to an ornery feline, and I do try to keep them in that order! Reading and writing are my two favorite things, and I hate all things domestic, except children. (I guess whatever kids God blesses me with will live in a messy home and eat grilled cheese sandwiches!) I feel called to write the story God gave me, and I pray that whomever He brings to read it will see Him and not me.

Captive – A Prologue

They lied. Are they supposed to do that? Aren’t they supposed to serve and to protect? Well, if you call drippy pizza and oldish card games “service,” then I guess they served me well. If you call taking away my family “protection,” then they shone as saviors. I wouldn’t have called it that, though. They lied.

It began with a knock. Actually, it could have been the doorbell. I don’t recall exactly, since I was engrossed in erasing my mess in the kitchen after making hamburger patties. My secret recipe yielded the most coveted burgers in the family, so the job always fell to me. Although I knew that the mothers were simply exploiting child labor and relishing an evening off, I still felt special for it. Specialness had become a stranger in those days, along with any positive interaction with my mother or grandmother. This was in large part due to the mounting evidence that they knew absolutely nothing. They knew me least of all. So, I enjoyed burger nights, as long as no one hovered or asked me annoying questions during the process.

Lost in my own pressing thoughts, very little could distract me. The meaty aroma creeping into every corner of the cramped kitchen scarcely caught my attention. I ignored some irrelevant statement—or was it a question?—from my old mother’s old mother. Scrubbing and cleaning and contemplating great things, I wished away the mothers in my life.

The knock at the door—or was it the doorbell?—jolted me out of my grandiose plans. It matters little how the intruders announced their presence; it’s what came after that really matters.

No one came to the door—ever. And I knew from years of experience with my mother that if someone actually did come to the door, then no one answered it—ever. The thing to do is mute the television and stare intently through the peeky hole until they leave. If they leave, you turn up the volume and resume life. If they don’t leave, well, then you should seriously consider the back door. Someone would leave eventually; there would be no meeting between intruder and inhabitant.

My grandmother was different. She didn’t know how to live like we did. To her, mommies and daddies stayed together. Knocks at the door signaled unexpected opportunities to chat with a friend while exchanging a cup of sugar for a smiling promise to share the goodies. Needless to say, my grandmother didn’t hesitate to go to the door. She walked effortlessly and without concern, as though the knock—or doorbell—physically drew her trusting hand to the doorknob beyond her control. I threw the towel on the counter, watching and shaking my head in complete disbelief of her naiveté. She disappeared stupidly into the entryway, but I can’t deny that I crept around the corner to see what menace might be lurking.

I’ll never forget the first thing I saw, or, rather, I should say “things.” Even though the door instantly exposed us and them, I really didn’t notice the people right away. Instead, I noticed the things—the things that meant everything. They meant my world crashing down around me. They meant imprisonment—they meant devastation—they meant tears—they meant danger—they meant insecurity. Cold and gleaming, they meant the loss of life as we all knew it.

Handcuffs.

And my mother was standing inside them. My strong, defiant, tragic mother was inside of them and she made no attempt to get out. After all of our escapes, after all of our near-misses, she wasn’t even trying!

What do I do? How do I get out? I stepped back incredulously. We’ve never experienced a situation quite like this; the cops have never been quite this close. But, we can do this. They have guns, but we can do this. Think. Look in her eyes. Is there a plan? Is she sending me a secret message? What is she trying to say?

Her eyes revealed only resignation and sorrow. They whispered pity. My mother felt sorry for me. The years of running, hiding, and lying had completely exhausted her, but I never saw it until that moment. More than that, however, I couldn’t get past the obvious sorrow on my behalf. She wished I didn’t see what I saw, and she prayed that what was about to happen wouldn’t.

They entered, sat, argued, discussed, reassured, directed, planned, explained. Sitting in my grandmother’s informal living room on Central Avenue, two uniforms and two mothers made plans about my tomorrow.

I heard only fragments of what those four said in that room that night, for I was still planning my escape. Whether the mothers would make their escape or not, I would. I thought about my escape as I obediently packed my bags. I thought about my escape as my mother lifted her tired, handcuffed arms up over my head to give me one last, tearful, pitiful, awkward hug—the one that must hold me over for many years.

Entering the wide open, seeing crouched men wearing black, aiming guns, and surrounding the house, I abandoned all plans of escape. Not knowing what else to do, I numbly pulled my body into the designated squad car. Defiantly extinguishing sudden tears, I watched the uniforms direct my mommy into another car, worlds away. It was no use. I was only twelve, and the men did have guns after all.

I didn’t know where they took my mother. Well I knew, but I didn’t know a precise location and I had trouble seeing it in my head. Stripes? Orange jumpsuits? Chains? Humiliating initiations? Maybe. I bet she didn’t even have walls around her toilet. I bet she thought about me the whole time. On second thought, maybe she was planning her escape. That sounds a lot like her.

As for me, I stayed in limbo at the city police department for endless hours. The uniforms had names and gave me food. They let me call friends to explain the inexplicable. They showed me my horribly inaccurate—and completely ugly—age-enhanced photograph. As we talked, they promised me I would not have to stay with my pedophilic father that night. They understood the reason for our fugitive way of life.

I couldn’t bear the thought of experiencing everything my mother had warned me about. She had always expressed her thankfulness that I didn’t remember. Chatting with these friendly men, I felt my own sense of thankfulness because it looked like I’d never have to worry about it, even now. They confided in me that pending paperwork would let me stay with my grandmother under a sort of “house arrest” until everything could be straightened out. I relaxed and felt better. These cops—the people we had spent my life outwitting and outrunning—were actually going to help me.

Well, they lied, and I revisited plans of escape.

This is my story.

To read more from Lainie Gallagher, visit her at his blog Life is Good and follow her on twitter at @LainieGallagher

Sufficient Grace

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“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10

Through your pain

His grace is sufficient

Through your joy

His grace is sufficient

Through your suffering

His grace is sufficient

Through your triumphs

His grace is sufficient

Through your defeats

His grace is sufficient

Through your denial

His grace is sufficient

Through your feeble attempts to earn grace

His grace is sufficient

Through your self-righteousness

His grace is sufficient

Through your laughter

His grace is sufficient

Through your tears

His grace is sufficient

For his power is made perfect in weakness.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” In case you’re wondering, is my favorite scripture.

This post is part of the One Word at a Time blog carnival: Grace. For more stories about grace, please visit my friend Bridget Chumbley at One Word at a Time.

Willsey (by Billy Coffey)

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Having the evening breeze blow over you and make ripples in your glass of tea is a pretty nice way to end your day, which is why I love my porch. It’s a good vantage point to my own little slice of world, one that unfolds before me in the sort of high-definition that far eclipses my television.

My porch serves as a good object lesson, too. It’s proof that if you hold still and listen long enough, something pretty insightful will happen.

That didn’t seem to be the case last night. I was holding still well enough. That wasn’t the problem. And the problem really wasn’t the listening, either. I was doing that, too.

The problem was what I was hearing.

The dog was a mutt. Half beagle, half Australian shepherd, with maybe a little bit of border collie thrown in. Having all that muddled DNA inside you would surely cause more than a little confusion. Trust me when I say that dog was more than a little confused.

So was its owner, who at the moment seemed a little perplexed as to if he was walking the dog or the dog was walking him. He tripped and pulled and pushed. The dog ran and stopped and tangled the leash around its owner’s legs. It was a sight.

And over and over between the barks came pleas of despair and sorrow:

“Willsey, stop!” “Willsey, come!” “Willsey, hold still!” “Dang it, Willsey!”

It took a full five minutes for the two of them to get from the corner of my block to the front of my house. And even though I was enjoying the cool of the evening, the man was sweating as much as a boxer after a ten round fight.

Willsey stopped and sniffed at our mailbox post. Just before he was ready to do his business, I let out a small cough. The owner looked at me on the porch and gave the dog a quick jerk. He’d have to hold it for the next post down the road.

We smiled at each other and said hello.

“Wouldn’t want a dog, would you?” he asked me.

“Sorry,” I said. “Looks like he’d be a full time job.”

“Buddy,” he said, “you don’t know the half of it.”

I nodded toward the mutt hanging from the end of the leash. “Kind of a strange name for a dog. Willsey?”

He laughed and said, “Yeah well, happened by accident.”

He bent down, rubbed the dog on its head, and was rewarded by a face full of slobber. He snorted, the dog snorted, and I snorted.

“My little girl brought him home,” he said. “Just had to have a dog, and she worried me to death. You think this dog’s ugly now? You should have seem him when he was a pup. Looked like Satan himself had coughed him up. And she says, ‘Daddy, can we keep him?’”

“And what’d you say?” I asked.

“I said, ‘Well, we’ll see.”

“Which I’m guessing became Willsey.”

“Yep,” he said. “Seven years ago. Hated him at first. Still kinda do. But you know what? He’s growin’ on me.”

He patted the dog again and got another face full of slobber.

“I like it,” I told him. “The name and the story.”

The man laughed and then proceeded to drag/push/pull Willsey on down the road.

“Neighbor’s got a fresh coat of paint on the mailbox post,” I shouted to him.

“Oh, Willsey’s gonna love that,” I heard.

I smiled to myself and resumed my rocking. I didn’t know who to feel sorry for the most, the man who was stuck with the dog or the dog who was stuck with the man. Maybe both should have been pitied in equal measure. Then again, maybe they both deserved each other.

But I wondered about all those things I’d said “We’ll see” to in my life, all those things I thought would happen or wouldn’t and then didn’t or did. And then I wondered about all the other people who used that phrase every day. We never know what’s coming in this life. We can seldom see what challenges or blessings wait just around the next corner.

And we can seldom see the blessings in our challenges, too.

To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at his blog What I Learned Today and follow him on twitter at @BillyCoffey