Resilient like a flower

“Keep your face to the sunshine

and you cannot see the shadows.

It’s what the sunflowers do.”

~ Helen Keller~

There is something to be said for resilience. It is the grit that makes us work harder after failing. It is the motivation that gets out of bed after something devastating. And frankly, it is the reason why many of us are still alive today.

Just think about where we would be as a human race if we were not resilient. I really can’t imagine that world. For without resilience, we would not, could not have moved passed so many events in history: slavery, war, genocide, epidemics and economic collapse. Generations of people have endured some horrific experiences.

Yet, the human race is still here. We have learned, or so I like to think, from our history. We have created a better world. We have learned to survive.

One of my mom’s biggest lessons to me and my sisters was to “be a survivor.” As kids we used to run around teasing each other and singing, “Be a survivor. Be a survivor.” We never took it seriously. I look back now and think, Mom may have been onto something there.

When I joined the Army Reserve, I quickly learned the phrases, suck it up and drive on and embrace the suck. I’d laugh and think, man, the Army must have talked to my mom!

Regardless of the source, the message was the same. Shit will happen in life that you cannot control. So, you can either learn to deal with it and move on or you can let it destroy you. That doesn’t mean you look at life like a Polly Anna and pretend the bad does not exist. No, that is just dumb advice. You can’t ignore abuse, racism and crisis. However, you can survive. But you can only do that with resilience. Because without resilience, would you ever get up after being ruthlessly abused? Would you ever want to leave your house after watching a loved one die? Would you ever want fight after a debilitating diagnosis?

I don’t think we could.

My mom survived a lot. Her mother was a mean spirited woman. She was not allowed to go past the 5th grade because she was “too stupid to learn.” (Ironically, those “smart” adults just couldn’t figure out that my “stupid” mom could barely hear out of either of her ears. Yeah, who was stupid in this scenario?) She was blamed for stealing something at a store by a “cool” kid. As a result, she was then sent off to a detention home where she was molested. Then, when she was married off, her then-husband cheated on her and beat her when she confronted him about it. So there she was in a foreign country, a near-deaf girl with a 5th-grade-education trying to figure out how to get divorced and go home.

Fortunately, my mom was resilient, and later met my dad. As a kid, I didn’t know her struggles. And naturally, I thought I knew more about the world than her. (I was a teen after all. Don’t they know EVERYTHING?) However, now, I look back and think, wow. This woman was a survivor, like literally.

According to the Helen Keller quote above, my mom survived by following the sun. She didn’t focus on her shadows, her pain. She didn’t let the dark experiences lead her life. After dealing with them the best she could, she followed the sun, the light of hope and moved toward a future. Like a sunflower, she focused on the light (good).

I will admit, before today, I never realized that sunflowers actually followed the sun throughout the day. I  mean I knew they, like other flowers, grew towards the sun, but I never thought their heads actually moved throughout the day as the sun moved.

So when I was looking for a fun quote to accompany my macro shots of some sunflowers in my yard, I found more than I planned. I found some quotes, some facts and some inspiration. (So thanks Sally for hosting this challenge!)

The Army found this inspiration a number of years ago too. The embrace the suck phrase has been replaced with a lot of talk about resilience. It is more acceptable to seek help/counseling now than when I joined 15 years ago. As a matter of fact, the old stereotypes are fading away. Asking for help or taking a break is no longer a sign of weakness. As a matter of fact, taking a knee is a good sign of leadership. It shows that a leader is self aware enough to realize they need help or a break. It shows that a leader can recognize the signs of the stress in their Soldiers if they can see it in themselves.

That makes sense and is certainly more realistic than just ignoring all the bad. The Army even teaches us resiliency classes now. They instruct us on various techniques to be grateful, find happiness and endure the bad. Essentially, they teach us to survive the bad and find hope in a better tomorrow.

And according to Helen Mirren, following the good/light/hope is a wonderful life lesson.

“I don’t think there’s anything on this planet that more trumpets life that the sunflower. For me that’s because of the reason behind its name. Not because it looks like the sun but because it follows the sun. During the course of the day, the head tracks the journey of the sun across the sky. A satellite dish for sunshine. Wherever light is, no matter how weak, these flowers will find it. And that’s such an admirable thing. And such a lesson in life.”

~Helen Mirren~

And I when I put all this information together it makes me laugh a little, and even a little more resilient. Because, now when I look at sunflowers, I will forever think of my mom, Soldiers and hope.

Forever, I will think: I am a Soldier. I am survivor. I am a sunflower. I am all three at once, and no matter what, I will focus on the sun (and Son).


For Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Macro.


No Chance of Return

******Warning – Little dark and violent here.************


With trembling fingers I called for help. Rick lived close by, and I prayed he could help me before I wound up dead, or worse.

“God, please let him answer,” I whispered.

He picked up, “Hey Amy. When I said we needed to crunch the numbers immediately, I didn’t mean now. It can wait…”

“Rick! HELP ME please! He’s here somewhere and I think he drugged me. Oh my God. He’s coming, I know it!”

“What? Are you at your house?”

“Yes! Please hurry. I’m scared and can’t really walk. My head is spinning. I feel like I am going to faint.”

“I’m coming Amy. It will be OK.  I’m only a few blocks away. I was out running. Stay on the phone with me. Tell me what happened.”

“After taking a shower, I had a glass of wine from that basket you all left me.”

“We didn’t leave you any wine basket Amy.”

“I know THAT now! He left me a note. It was mixed in with the mail. He said he’d be here when I woke up from my wine nap. Oh my God. He must have poisoned it! He’s coming…here. I thought I lost him….I….can’t do this….not again. Oh God.” I started to hyperventilate and shake worse.

“I’m coming Amy. I won’t let him hurt you again. How the heck did he find you?”

….gasping for air…”I…don’t know. I thought…I did everything to cover my tracks.”

“Amy listen to me! You need to calm down. If you are right, he will be there soon.”

I managed to stammer, in between sobs and dramatic inhales of ragged breath, “Rick, I’m scared. I can’t…I don’t know what to do…my legs won’t really move.”

“Amy! Stop! Take a breath. I am on my way, but I need you to grab something to protect yourself with. Can you walk?”

My legs were tingling and uncooperative. My head was spinning. Everything was getting fuzzy. “No! Oh my God no!”

“Then grab something near you. Anything that could cut him.”

I looked around the kitchen, the counter. All I could see and reach was the mail and the wine opener. Unless I wanted to paper cut the sick bastard to death, the wine opener was it, my weapon. I grabbed it with trebling fingers. “I have a wine opener.”

“OK. Now crawl into a closet if you can and be quiet. I am only a few minutes away. The code is the same right? ”

“Yes…Right. OK. Um…yes, it’s the…” I stopped mid sentence. I thought I heard something. I froze everything, even my breath. I listened hard and heard nothing. Then, I slowly and quietly drug my numb body over to the pantry, across the cold tile floor. “I think he’s here. I thought I heard something.”

“Fuck! I am almost there. Amy! Don’t give up now. I am coming. Fight Amy. Fight, if you need to. Have you called the cops?”

I was whispering now. “I’m in the pantry now. I don’t hear anything now. Maybe I was wrong. I’m not sure…um, no, I called you first since police couldn’t help me much in the three years of him stalking me.””

“Just stay there and wait for me. I’m calling the police too Amy,” Rick panted.

Then, I heard HIS footsteps, and my stalker’s voice cut through my hope like knife.

“Honey, I’m home… What’s for dinner my love?…..Are you hiding my dear? Oh, your such a playful kitten.”

All my breath stopped. I was frozen in fear. My mind raced over the three years where he stalked me relentlessly. He sent me “presents.” He called constantly. I asked him to stop and it just got worse. I remembered his nails digging into my arms. I could still hear his rage as he whispered threats into my ears. I got a restraining order that was of no help. His “affection”only  increased and got more intense the harder I avoided him. However, the last straw for me was when he had drugged me and videotaped me sleeping  in my own home. And on the tape, he promised another visit when I was awake so he could “love me hard like I deserved.” That was when I moved. No, that was when I ran away from my life, changing everything I was. Now, I was a new woman in a new place with a new look and a new job. I even had a new name.

None of that mattered though. Here he was anyway. He found me. And now, I would pay for running away from him.

“Amy? Are you there? Are you OK?” Rick called out over the phone.

I didn’t answer. I was afraid to move. Afraid to breathe.

“Amy?…Oh, God. Hang on. I am almost there!” Rick promised.

I could here HIM creeping around the kitchen, whistling and humming.

“Oh my darling. We are together at last. I am sorry it took so long for me to find you,” he sung. “I can’t wait to hold you in my arms again, but you will need to be punished some for hiding. You naughty little kitten.”

I trembled on the floor in the pantry. A tear ran down my cheek slowly. My nightmare was here…but I was awake. Dear God, please give me the strength. Please make Rick get here quick, I thought.

Just then, the pantry door flung open. And there before me stood a demon looking down on me with hungry eyes.

“Oh Amy my love. Why are you hiding from me? After all we’ve been through darling,” he sighed. “I was hoping you would be a good girl. But that’s OK. I’m starting to think you WANT to be punished my little kitten.”

I said nothing. My head was fuzzy from whatever the hell he put in the wine. And I was afraid to enrage him more, so I sat, even tried to smile. It must have looked as insane as he was.

He grabbed my legs and slid me out of the pantry darkness. “Come my darling. I have a surprise for you.” As he pulled me, I had tucked my phone into the pocket of my robe with one hand and put the wine opener into my other palm, clenching my fingers around the metal spiral, which I tucked under my robe that was draped over my leg.

“Oh, there we go. Now I can see you,” he cooed. “Look! I think you are happy to see me! I see a little smile.” He bent down and licked my cheek.

I drew back in revulsion.

“Oh come on dear. Don’t act like that,” he smiled.  “It took me so long to find you. You must be so hungry for me. I know that I am for YOU,” he said as he ran his hand along my one of useless legs.

“I was thinking we’d catch up before going to bed. But, I don’t think I can wait. You look so yummy in your robe. I ssssuuuppppoooossssseee we could just do it here and then again later. Time is ours my love.”

I held back my disgust and fear and tried to focus. I had to do something. Anything. God help me.

In a shaking voice, I whispered, “Your right. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t of hid.”

“Awe, there is my little kitten. I knew you would come around. Come closer to me.” He pulled me even closer to him and sat down next to me. I could see a gun on his side, tucked in his belt.

I drew my breath in slowly. Keep it together until Rick gets here. “Yes. I’m sorry. Will you let me make it up to you?” I asked as I ran my trembling, empty hand along his cheek.

He paused and closed his eyes at my touch. “Of course, but you will need to make up for a lot kitten. You have been very naughty running away and hiding from me. You know you belong to me,” he slowly replied and opened his eyes.

“Yes. You are right. You have always been right….I am yours. I am sorry,” I lied the best I could.

He stared at me deeply. It was like he was reading me, so I smiled as best I could. “I was just scared. It was just so much emotion, so fast. I guess I couldn’t believe it was true. So I freaked.”

He kept staring, analyzing me. Finally, he replied. “Well then, my love. I guess I can understand that. But we have each other again now,” he cooed as he took some my hair into his hand and pulled my head back to lick my neck. “You better behave kitten.”

“Yes…..yes, I will,” I stammered as he released me.

“Good. Then, let the games begin. How about a real kiss?”

“Yes…a kiss. Of course. But you need to close your eyes and wait. You gave me a bit of a fright, so I need to take a moment to calm down. Close your eyes,” I asked as I reached out with my empty hand again to touch his face. He immediately closed his eyes to reveal in my touch. I traced his nose, eyes lids, forehead slowly. I was stalling for Rick. I was stalling to readjust the wine opener in my hand I was leaning on. I was stalling to find the strength to stab him. I was stalling to live.

As I traced his lips he mumbled, “You are mine Amy. You will NOT leave me again.”

“Yes, you are right. I’m sorry. I was being stupid. Just relax now,” I said as I shifted my position and stared at his face. Now is the time to strike, I thought. “Now stay still and keep your eyes closed. I’m going to kiss you and I want you to really feel it. So no peeking. Just feel it and taste it,” I lied as I caressed his face.

“Be good kitten, or you will regret it,” he threatened me with at glare.

“I will. Just close your eyes silly,” I played and caressed his thigh.

He complied and I kept caressing him to buy time.

“OK, I am going to get closer so I can kiss you. But keep your eyes closed. Oh, and I liked your gift, the wine basket. You remembered my favorite kind. That was so sweet of you,” I whispered slowly.

He smiled.

I repositioned myself as best I could and raised both hands over my head, with the cork spiral pointing down like a knife. I leaned in a little to blow on his face while whispering, “I want you to focus on how it feels, my touch. You’ve waited so long.”

“I have, but I won’t anymore. You will be mine Amy.”

“No. No more waiting. Our time is here and right now,” I said as I slammed the corkscrew into his eye socket with all the strength I could manage.

Immediately he started screaming and fumbling around. “You bitch! You will pay for that!” He ripped the opener out of his eye, and blood started pouring down his face.

I slithered away from him, but he grabbed my foot. My legs were like jello so my attempt at kicking was more like squirming. He pulled me closer, his bloody hands climbing up my body.

“Oh, you are going to be sorry Amy. Reeeeallllllly sorry.”

Just then, Rick burst into the kitchen. “No dickhead. YOU are going to be sorry,” Rick screamed as he pulled my stalker off me and immediately started punching his bloody face.

“He has a gun Rick!”

My stalker knocked Rick to the ground with a kick to the knees. Now, they were both on the floor, rolling in blood, punching, kicking. I looked around for something. Anything. Just then, the pistol hit the tile floor as the men continued to fight. I scurried back towards them on my stomach with all my might, but my head was so fuzzy that I seemed to crawl in slow motion.

Finally, I grabbed the pistol and sat up, leaning against the cupboards. I took the weapon off safe and pointed it at the fighting men. The pistol wavered in the air under my weak arms.

“Rick! Get off him! Rick!” I screamed as loud as I could. But they kept fighting, kicking, punching, rolling. I could hear sirens. Rick must have called the cops.  They were coming to save us. If the courts worked as shitty as the restraining order did, he would be out of jail in a small matter of time, I thought.

“Rick! Stop! The police are coming!” I screamed just as Rick slammed my stalker’s head onto the ground. He groaned but stopped fighting back. Rick stopped and looked up at me.

“Amy, it’s OK. The police are coming. Put down the gun. He can’t hurt you anymore,” Rick said as he crawled across the floor toward me.

I was trembling, still holding the pistol out towards the man who had ruined so much of my life. Now, he lay there bleeding on my kitchen floor. He better die, I thought. But what if he does’t?

With that thought, I didn’t hesitate. I just pointed and pulled the trigger with all the hate I could muster, which was a lot.

“No. He won’t hurt me anymore because there is no chance he will get out of jail now,” I stated as I watched blood pour out of his chest.





To read the first part of the story, click here.

Time for a Cure

The cottage sat quiet, but Sheri knew he was there. Father. The word alone brought fear to her heart.

Not much longer though. According to the witch, the poultice would either stop him from treating her like a wife or would kill him. Frankly, she was fine with the latter. He stopped being a father once her mother died and was forced into filling her shoes. From cooking to bedding, and a few punches, Sheri had endured it all for years.

He was evil to the core.

But just a little poultice in his coffee, and she would be free…


friday fictioneers

This is part four of small unplanned series.

To see part three, click here. To start with part one, click here.

(Parts one, two and four are only 100 words snippets for Friday Fictioneers. Part three is a bit longer [about 600 words] and was for Ronovan Writes Friday Fiction.)





Blooming out of Decay

Should haves, could haves and meant to dos

Leave you with regrets and feeling blue.

If you look too long at the past gone by,

You will sit and wonder, and perhaps even cry.


Your past is just that. It has passed you and gone.

You can spend your present wondering, what went wrong?

But you can’t change what you cannot undo.

And if you could… would you still be you?


For you are built from your bad, as well as your good.

The lessons you learned were well understood.

You formed yourself through the dark and the gloom.

And through all that, you’ve become, a beautiful bloom.


For Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Macro.

I decided to go with the macro mushroom shot a couple of days ago. However, I stared at the pictures, not knowing what to write. Today, within 5 minutes, this poem came out so I went with it.

For me, it speaks on how so many of us feel trapped in our past, our pain and our history. It’s hard to move out of that, but you can. That’s the great thing. We can rediscover and reshape ourselves a little each day. And like the mushrooms growing on the rotting tree in the forest, we can have purpose and beauty. I hope that whoever needs to hear this today does. I feel like it poured out of me for a reason…perhaps I needed to hear it myself.

and, since it fits…

For the theme of the Daily Post’s Challenge ~ Survival.