When the Lightning From Storms Frighten Me


Dearest Readers:

Although someone might say it isn’t early morning, for me it is since I slept fairly well last night. Crawling out of bed just before 9:00 am, I yawned, stretched and was thankful for a bit of sleep.

Today Phil and I will go shopping. Seems he wants to go to Tanger Outlet. So, I suppose I’ll drink another cup of coffee, just to get me going!

Last night, we had another band of those dreadful storms we’ve been having lately. Driving in my car, every time I saw the lightning flash, my body jumped.

Why am I so frightened of lightning, you might ask? Allow me to explain. When I was a child, I recall my mother telling me if I did not behave…IF I wasn’t a “good girl,” God would send the lightning after me. I remember her saying, and I quote: “If you don’t behave God is gonna strike you dead with that lightning.”

Every time there was a storm with lightning, I would jump. Mama would laugh at me and say: “You’re such a stupid girl. God don’t love ugly and that’s why He sends the lightning to you. He wants the lightning to hit you. God don’t love ugly and you are one ugly thing. I hope God strikes you dead!”

I was the middle child. One of my sisters was quiet. Timid. She never questioned authority. The other two – I’m still not certain. Let’s just say, our childhood was not the typical childhood of four daughters.

As for me, I was boisterous. When I entered a room, I made an impression. Good or bad…I’m still not certain. I loved to hop on stage and let the world know I was around!

Once, while walking home from the library in Atlanta, Georgia, a summer storm horrified me. I saw the lightning flashing. I remember rushing. Running. I had to get home to get inside my closet so the lightning could not find me. I was horrified!

Arriving home, I grabbed a towel to dry my hair and face and I rushed into my closet, shutting the door tightly.

Stopping at a red light last night, Phil saw me jumping when the lightning flashed. He asked me why I was so afraid.

“Haven’t I told you what my mother did to me as a child and as a teenager?”

“What?” He asked, turning the radio down so he could hear me.

“When I was a child, my mother told me I must always be a ‘good girl.’ She said IF I wasn’t a good girl, God would send the lightning down to strike me dead.”

“Did she do that to your sisters?”

“I don’t know. We never discussed it.”

Although I have three sisters, I do not recall if we ever discussed the cruelties of our mother’s poisoned, venomous tongue.

I suppose even though I am now grown and smart enough to know her words were cruel, I should also know God isn’t a mean power. He is my strength. My faith. He is the power who made me what I am today.

God would never want anyone to be struck by lightning. Storms are simply storms, filled with energy, rain and power — but of a different kind.

How I wish I could get over my fear of lightning, but I suppose I will never accomplish that. All of my childhood, I was frantic. When friends would say they love to see the flash of lightning, I cringed. My body shook. My hands and legs trembled. I gasped. Sometimes I screamed. Lightning is bad. It’s gonna strike you dead!

As a newlywed, and years later, each time the lightning flashed at night, it would awaken me and scare me half to death. I wear a sleep mask now, to help keep the lightning away. Sometimes, I wear two sleeping masks, just to keep me safe. Yes. I know. It’s silly. After all, the lightning is only lightning. It reminds me of a mad, vicious animal, growling, searching for its next prey — ME!

Once I asked my mother why she said such cruel things to me about the lightning. She laughed, a cruel, vindictive laughter. I left the room. I knew she would never explain.

Today, more storms are forecast. If they occur, I will close my eyes and try to tell myself: this is only a storm. It will not hurt me. I will be fine.

Looking out the window, while writing this, the skies are thick with a blanket of gray. Treetops are moving, dancing the breath of an approaching storm. I do not hear thunder, nor do I see lightning. I’m hopeful we will have a rain storm. Nothing more.

Although I will see more lightning when these torrential storms arrive, I will remind myself that the approaching storms are not to harm me. The rains water our gardens. The breezing winds give us a bit of coolness after we’ve had such a hot summer, filled with sauna like temperatures. As for the lightning, for me, all it creates is a VIOLENT  energy. Sometimes a wicked energy. I can still hear my mother’s sharp tongue. Her cruel words. “You’re such a bad girl, and God don’t love bad girls. He’ll send the lightning to get you. You better be a good girl.”

Maybe I should’ve asked my mother: Just what do you think a good girl is? I’m a good girl. I obey you. I do as I am told. I don’t do drugs. I go to church and in school, I get good grades and I behave. Why can’t you see I am a GOOD GIRL! I’ve never gotten into any trouble – EVER! I’m a GOOD GIRL!!!

The winds are blowing harder now. My mimosa trees are dancing a soft ballet of motion, swaying ever so elegantly to the left and right. The grass is so tall it needs cutting again, and we cut earlier this week. No doubt there will be another storm today. I suppose I shall pray once again: Dear God. Please don’t let the lightning strike me dead like my mother wished when I was a child. Please keep me safe.

Glancing out the window again, the breeze is still. The mimosa trees are hardly moving. The skies still thick with the blanket of storms anticipated. Another day of ‘the calm BEFORE the storms.’

Dear God. It’s me again. Barbie. Please. When the storms arrive, and the lightning flashes, please remind me that you will keep me safe. Please don’t let the lightning strike me dead.

 

 

Here’s To Beautiful Mornings and Sunshine…


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Dearest Readers:

At the moment, it is a beautiful morning in Charleston, SC. Believe me, the weather can change in this historical, holy city in only the blink of an eye. Take last night, for example. The roaring thunders and the flashing, horrific lightning frightened me all night long. Reportedly, forecasters predict more storms for today. How I pray the storms arrive during the day and not in the heat of the night.

Why? If you read my blog on a regular basis, you will recognize how the lightning and thunder horrifies me. I give my mother the credit for those fears.

Last nights storms were no different, except they arrive in the middle of the night. My husband tells me I should wake him up when I am so frightened, but I do not. I keep telling myself this is only a storm – in the middle of the night. The lightning is not coming for you, like my mother said. It is just a storm. The rain will water the yard, my flowers and the grass. This is only a storm. This too shall pass.

I toss and turn during the storms. Last night we had three storms. I heard one, and I saw the flashing lightning at about 1:30am. The next round of lightning I heard crashing, lighting up my dark bedroom after 3:00am. The final round was about 5:15am, or so. With each storm, I tried to cover my eyes with a sleeping mask. I placed another sleeping mask over the first one. When I close my eyes, I can still see light, so I must wear these masks; nevertheless, last night, with two masks covering my eyes, I could still see the lightning. My body jumped. I gasped with fear, and then I whispered to myself: This is only a storm. Just close your eyes, turn away from the windows and go back to sleep. Throwing the covers back, I got up, walked around the house, checked on my precious pups, and saw another flash of lightning. I jumped. Never did sleep happen. According to my Fitbit, my body got four hours of sleep last night. It’s no wonder why I feel so exhausted.

When I say my nightly prayers, I suppose I should pray for God to give me strength so I can release my fear of lightning.  Yes, I pray nightly, although I still have difficulty knowing how to pray. I do not pray like I’ve heard other people pray. I call my prayers my intimate conversations with God. I feel cleansed whenever I pray…like God hears my prayers and He eases my pain. How I wish He could ease the pain of my fears of lightning. Maybe I’ll add that comment to my prayer list!

Looking out my window while writing this, I see darkness ahead. Rain is supposed to return at about 11:10am today, according to the Weather Channel app alert. How I pray we have our storms today while I vacuum and clean the house. At least during the day it is easier to cope with these torrential thunder storms.

How about you, readers? Do you have a fear about lightning? Looks like the rain is here now, at 11:03am. I hear thunder. Think I’ll turn the vacuum cleaner on and get busy, after I shut this computer down.

Below, I am posting a photograph of beautiful Angel Oaks, Johns Island, SC. When my husband left for Vietnam, I visited this tree several times before I moved back to Columbus, GA. I remember sitting on the grass, having some deep thoughts and prayers that God would bring my husband home safely to me from Vietnam. Funny thing about it, my husband returned from Vietnam, but the soldier I married is still over there. I suppose I was a bit silly to think someone could go to war and come home as the same person. That did not happen. Vietnam changed things…but that is a subject I will wait to write later, in my freewriting challenge. Looks like a storm is brewing outside, so I must shut this computer down, while praying if we have lightning I can cope better today while working in the house.

 

Angel Oaks, a historical and breathtaking tree located on Johns Island, SC. A place for inspiration and the appreciation of nature with all of her beauty!DSC_0013

Hurricane Hugo — The Aftermath of the Storm…September 21, 2014


Dearest Readers:

I have been quiet for a bit. Just a bit perplexed with writing…feeling as if I could not write one word ever again. Alas, I am back — on this day September 21, 2014 — 25 years after Hurricane Hugo strove to destroy the beautiful City of Charleston, SC.

So many people cannot comprehend what it is like to remain in a city during a hurricane. While it is true, I did consider making plans to leave, or even to go to a shelter, I chose to remain here in Charleston. Checking with the shelters I was told I could not bring my animals. At the time, I had two — Muffy, a sweet but hyper little mutt terrier and a small poodle named Buttons. I could not leave my animals and my husband was in the National Guard at the time, activated to work in the downtown areas of Charleston, so I decided to remain so I could check on my animals and keep them safe. Working at a university, I volunteered to assist with students. I supervised over 60 of them during the storm.

Although I have survived tornadoes, I could not understand why the media kept saying to fill your car with gas. Make certain you have cash. Have enough water to drink and enough food to eat for at least three to five days. I laughed. Why would I need my car filled with gas. Why would I need cash and food. After all, it was only a hurricane.

Little did I know!

On September 21, before the storm hit on that evening, I checked on the house, making certain my animals were cared for with water, food and the little necessities I leave for them while I am at work. I closed all of the hall doorways, left food, towels, water and all was well. My home is a brick foundation so I wasn’t concerned with flooding or a disaster. I prayed that all would be fine, and it was. On the evening of Hurricane Hugo, I hunkered down with 60 students in a historical brick building in downtown Charleston. As the rushing, roaring winds increased, the students were horrified, so we moved them from the second floor of the building to another floor where there were no windows. Within an hour, the students fears eased as we sang, told jokes and laughed. Ever so slowly the students stopped talking and laughing. I grabbed a flashlight, walked around the wooden floors, noticing many of the students huddled together — sleeping.

I touched a portion of a brick wall, able to see outside from the cracks of the loose bricks. I could hear the wind whistling…crying…screaming…I said a silent prayer. Moments later, I heard quiet. The eye of the storm. As the calmness eased my fears, I realized this would probably be one of the longest, most frightening nights of my life. How I longed to be inside my home, huddled in a blanket with my animals.

Listening to a portable radio describing the events of the hurricane, I counted the night away. I did not have a cell phone at the time, nor did we have internet capability. The building had emergency lighting, with exception it was not working, so we moved around the floors slowly while keeping our arms outstretched, carefully moving so we did not disturb the students. The room was a large brick warehouse, totally dark. No windows nearby. The only light I saw was when I found a few loose bricks and watched the lightning outside. There was a blanket of darkness everywhere.

Early the next morning as students awoke they asked me if I slept. “No,” I said. “I’ve been here all night.” One student nudged my shoulder. “I didn’t think you slept. Your makeup is still perfect.”

The door to the warehouse opened. Slowly we moved downstairs. The storm was gone. Breakfast was waiting for all of us downstairs, on the second floor. After breakfast many of the students wanted to go outside but I discouraged it. “Live wires are down, along with trees. It isn’t safe for us to leave yet.”

About an hour later my husband arrived, dressed in his National Guard uniform. He rushed to hug me, whispering for me to keep the students inside. “The city looks like a war zone,” he said.

A few hours later, students gone and the university shutting things down, I strolled slowly to my car, careful not to step on downed power lines while being ever so thankful that I had parked it in a garage. I anticipated the car having windows shattered, debris covering it. Much to my surprise, my car was safe with no apparent damage. Driving home, I was lost. The roads were hard to see due to the abundance of hurricane debris. Gone were the familiar street signs and landmarks. Roads were thick with debris, boats, cars, boards, roofs, tin, metal, tree branches and so much debris, it was difficult to determine if I was on the correct side of the road, so I made many detours while my car crawled over branches and the thick debris. I saw an abundance of tin roofs in the road. Yachts. Boats. A tracker trailer, overturned. Driving home to Mt. Pleasant was quite a challenge, and when I turned towards my home, I could not drive down my street. Trees were everywhere. I managed to park my car three blocks from my home. Carefully, I walked, constantly looking for downed power lines, snakes and other creatures.

When I arrived at home, I noticed several homes in my neighborhood were damaged. Tree branches were slammed into the roofs. A couple of homes were missing walls. I walked around the front of my house, opened the door, found my dogs, hugged them and examined my home. All appeared to be ok until I walked towards the back door. The ceiling in the living room was opened with a large tree branch resting on the portion of a missing roof. The ceilings in the back room were wet. Trails of water were on the carpeting. I grabbed the leashes and carried the dogs outside, still cautious of things I might find in the back yard. Several trees were down and my above ground swimming pool was missing — completely. The only part of the swimming pool left was some of the framework. Debris from the pool was tossed around my yard, but my home was safe. A bit injured but I was thankful we had survived.

The dogs and I returned to the house. Cuddling them in my arms, I cried tears of thankfulness. My home was safe. Many people in my neighborhood would return to discover a home so shattered they would need to live elsewhere. Phil and I had been blessed. Our home was damaged, but livable and Muffy and Buttons had survived. A bit shaken, but safe. We were blessed.

I reached to turn the TV on, to get the latest news, realizing we had no power, I laughed. I walked outside again, finding something I did not expect lying in the grass. The Post and Courier had published a newspaper about Hurricane Hugo. Wishing I had a hot cup of coffee, I opened the newspaper. Today was a new, beautiful day in Charleston, SC. Looking like a war zone, I said a silent prayer, hoping no one had died in the storm. Yes, today was a new day. A day to give thanks for the little things in life. Health. Safety. A home a bit tarnished from the storm, but a safe haven for me to rest and be thankful that we had survived.

Perhaps you are curious what I learned from Hurricane Hugo. My response is — to be thankful for the little things in life. If you live in an area where torrential storms happen, please listen to the forecast and take the suggestions shared seriously. I did not fill my car with gas. After all, after the storm, the stores would open and I could get gas. NOT. By the time stores and stations were able to open, the lines were long. Lessons learned.

Have cash. I did not. Fortunately, the university I worked for allowed us to borrow money from them. I borrowed $20.00, paying it back when I was able to get cash. Lessons learned.

Food — non perishable. Since my husband was activated with the National Guard, I did not have much food. By the third day of no power, I cleaned out the fridge, tossing everything in the trash. I managed to find several cans of tuna fish in the pantry, so I made a big batch of tuna fish. I ate dry tuna fish sandwiches for lunch and dinner until it was gone. Funny…I haven’t eaten tuna fish since Hugo!

On the third day, I discovered an old phone in the closet — the type that did not require electricity. I connected it, got a dial tone and phoned my insurance company to file a claim. Meanwhile, I phoned my sister and other family and friends, to let them know we were AOK. On the tenth day of surviving Hugo, our power returned. Three weeks later, the insurance adjuster arrived, apologizing for the delay in responding. I made a fresh pot of coffee, he walked through the house, taking notes and photographs and responded that he could set us up in a hotel while repairs were made. I smiled at him, thanking him for his compassion but I had a bed to sleep in, a home to live in while some of my neighbors were living in campers or moving to small apartments. “We’ve been blessed,” I said.

Surviving in a hurricane taught me appreciation for life. I’m still not certain what I will do the next time we are required to evacuate a storm. In 1999, during a hurricane watch we were supposed to evacuate, and we did — fighting traffic for nine hours, moving only 57 miles on Highway 41. I promised myself that if there was another evacuation, I would stay at home and I probably will.

Let’s just say — the City of Charleston is extremely limited with evacuation routes. It is a nightmare to sit in traffic, bumper-to-bumper, while anticipating a hurricane. Next time? I think I’ll stay at home!

To Dream — One Must Sleep — Something I Battle Nightly


Dearest Readers:

Have you missed me? I’ve certainly missed the opportunity to sit down at my desk, glue my butt to the chair and write. I’ve had so many unexpected interruptions and demands I’ve actually wished to run away from myself. Life demands is what I call them.

The City of Charleston, SC has had an amazing amount of rain falling last week, and this week appears to be a repeat. I’m sick of it. I am such a light sleeper that when the roaring, thunderous storms scream with life, I cannot sleep. On one occasion, late at midnight, I awoke to my precious Prince Midnight Shadow crying and moaning from the storm. He is a solid black, beautiful giant schnauzer, a rescue we adopted about 14 months ago. He hates storms! Absolutely detests them and doesn’t want to go outside when he hears them. He will moan and cry until I touch him and rub his fur, and then he moans, moving closer to hug me. He is such a silly guy. Today is no exception! Hearing the storms, he rushes to be by my side. We bought him a thunder shirt, but it doesn’t work with him. Tightly embraced inside the thunder shirt, his body still trembles and he moans, so the only way to hush him is to move closer to him and rub his ears, or stroke his back. It’s no wonder I am so exhausted. I have insomnia and I’m a light sleeper, so when the thunder roars, I toss and turn in bed, wishing to sleep. On the night of the threatening, torrential storm at midnight, lightning crashed, taking out a transformer nearby. Our power was out for over five hours, so no sleep for me. How nice it would be just to close my eyes, listen to my breathing, inhaling…exhaling…drifting to sleep. I envy people who sleep like babies. Those days are gone for this chick!

I haven’t written anything in a few weeks, and I have posted a bit too much on Facebook, so starting tomorrow, I am checking out of Facebook for a bit and write. I do believe I have joined the addictive club of Facebook and I have promised myself that I will break that addiction! If I can learn to control food choices, I can certainly teach myself good habits and start writing again while exiting from such non-interesting social medias such as Facebook.

If only my brain will allow the words to flow again. Wouldn’t that be nice!

This epistle is simply a free writing sample, just to convince myself that I CAN WRITE again! If you read my posts on a regular basis, you will know I am a member of Weight Watchers, losing weight ever so slowly. I have a new NordicTrack treadmill that seems to be helping with the weight loss and every week, I attend the meetings for my weigh-ins. I will be so happy when I reach my ‘unpublished’ goal, and I am not sharing that – with anyone! Let’s just say, I am still taking the journey and when I do reach my goal, you, my readers, will be the first on my blog to read all about it. Yes, I will do a happy dance, and I have warned all of my friends at Weight Watchers that I will SCREAM to the moon and back with delight, so if you should hear a loud scream later this year, you might be able to say, “That must be Barbie, reaching goal!”

This free writing is really getting on my nerves today. Perhaps it is because of all of the late night storms; the rolling, monstrous roar of thunder, and the threatening, horrifying flashing of strobe lightning igniting the late night skies. Each time I see the lightning, I jump – almost out of my skin. I still remember the words from my mother’s lips when I was a child. When we had storms, my mother would say, “You better be a good girl or God will strike you dead from lightning.” Believe me; I worked hard to always be a good girl. I did not want lightning to kill me.

Once I told a friend about my mother’s words and she stopped, glanced back at me saying “Your mother really painted some strong, cruel pictures for you. That is sad.”

I brushed the comments off, thinking that is what a mother does. It is her duty to say such things. Fortunately, after I woke up, recognizing my mother really had a colorful, cruel way to describe life, I decided to step out of those shoes and make my life different. Never has it been easy, but when I became a mother, never did I say such cruelties to my child.

Glancing outside as I sit glued to my chair, I see the clouds are still gray and thick. Just when will these thick clouds leave and allow the sun to shine again? That is almost a $64,000 question now. At least our city is a bit more comfortable now…only 78 degrees at the moment. Isn’t that nice?!?

Suppose I will close for now and stop this free writing exercise, especially since it really isn’t going anywhere. Please stay tuned readers. I will strive to take five minutes to write in my blog a bit more and I do apologize for being a bit reclusive. I did not mean to be so quiet, but with life, there are demands and I’ve had many unexpected demands lately. Hopefully soon things will change, especially since I’ve decided to take a break from Facebook. It is too addictive. There are many people who post way too many personal items there…like – I’m at the store now – shopping, or I’m out with friends at XYZ Bar having drinks…or…I’m on vacation now. I ask you, do these people even consider that we, the social media, never know who is reading our posts. At times I am amazed at the ‘too much information’ posted. I still prefer my privacy.

For now, I think I will close and make the attempt to make a bit of dinner. I have a taste for crab legs…and yes, they are Weight Watcher friendly! Thank you for asking.

The weather report is not calling for storms tonight. Yes, rain is forecast, but no storms…of course, you must realize, the weather forecaster is the only profession where the forecaster can be incorrect and still keep his or her job. Let us hope tonight I will sleep. Wouldn’t that be grand!

Sweet dreams…of course to dream – one must sleep!