How This Story Began


When I wrote that post yesterday, I didn't realize until today that readers who did not follow me in Texas don't know the whole story. And I want to now tell you newer readers how it all began.

Yesterday morning I had just published my post. I was sipping my first cup of coffee and reading emails. 

I had gotten a new newsletter from Nancy Medina, who painted my geranium painting. And I as I was reading it, I was a bit shocked to see my name. 

She told the story better and more concisely than I think I ever could. 






Summer Siesta Geraniums
14X14, Oil on Gallery Wrap Canvas
Sold

 
More Than Just a Cozy Little House   

What an honor to be featured on one of my favorite blogs, Cozy Little House, this week, for the painting Summer Siesta Geraniums. I've been reading Cozy for as long a I can remember, even before the day its author did something almost no cottage and decorating blog had ever done before. She wrote an entry about the end of her marriage. Thinking it was a private post only for her viewing, she accidentally hit the "publish" button.

From that moment, Cozy became a place that people from around the world could come for an honest reflection of what life is like behind the chintz curtains and polished perfection. The author, Brenda, has always been an incredibly gifted writer and photographer. She has taken her gifts one step further and created a safe place for her followers to share life's challenges, and also to know they are not alone in some of the toughest situations we can face. Other nationally famous decorating bloggers have since followed suit, and a new movement of facing life head on behind the scenes seems to be developing as a result. Because many of these blogs have followers in the thousands and hundreds of thousands, the impact is immense.
Thank you so much Brenda for sharing your love of color and life
with people for so many years! What a beautiful place to land.  

***

After I read that, I decided I needed to tell you what all that meant. For the ones who didn't know me back then.

So this is where I used to live in Texas. This was where I retreated to to. After what I told you yesterday happened.


I had no intention of publishing that post that long ago day in 2011. As someone who often writes for therapeutic reasons, I'd been pouring out my soul in Drafts and leaving them there. They were never supposed to be seen by anyone else. 

But I slipped up. I thought I published a post called "Mellow Yellow" about my love for the color yellow. I don't recall now, and the posts are lost before July 2013, and this would have been 2011, but it probably showcased yellow flowers in my gardens.


I may not have the posts I wrote since April 2009 for this blog, but I do have the photos I've kept on one computer. So I'm bringing them out today to show you some of my life then.


 

75 comments:

  1. Brenda, your honesty is one of the reasons you are my favorite blogger. My life has been similar to yours and I long for truth. I am so tired of phony happy faces and all the magic fluff that people try to pass off as real life. We all have struggles. If you don't you're probably lying to yourself. Keep up your encouraging truthful posts and we will follow.
    Blessings,
    Clara from Redeemed Junk

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    1. I guess publishing that post was meant to happen. Even though I was devastated at the time. It seems to have only brought about good things. Like women writing me with their own stories. Just needing someone to talk to about their lives. And I'm here for all of them, through email or phone.

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  2. I, too, love your blog for your openess & honesty ~ so refreshing!
    Hugs ~

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    1. They say there are no accidents. I don't know. Maybe they're right.

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  3. Brenda, The slip of the fingers that published your divorce story was a great thing for the blog world. I didn't read that segment of your story, I found you when you were moving into the little blue house. Your story, your truth, has been so compelling. None of us is immune to trouble and strife. It is hard to stand up and shout the truth, but those that do so can be an inspiration to others to do something about the trouble in their lives. Good for you. Klyn

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    1. I didn't want people to think I was focusing on past details of my life, or writing for titillation, or crying in my soup. I'm over what happened. They are just facts to me now. I have a life I love. I wanted you to know that I continue in the hopes it will help another woman. And often they write to me. I'm always here for them. They know my "door" is open 24/7.

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  4. always cheering you on in spirit, even when I cant get here to comment...

    ps- if you see or talk to Judy, please give her a big hug for me and let her know I am sincerely praying for her hubs healing..

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    1. It has been a very difficult couple of weeks for them. And John with his Alzheimers. He is only 73 years old, a wonderful kind man. Judy is devastated.

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    2. Tell Judy to give John two tablespoons of organic virgin coconut oil daily. It has been shown to help Alzheimers. My hubby does not have Alzheimers but he puts it in his oatmeal as a prevention. Also vitamin D supplement has shown to help as well. Coconut oil looks white in the jar but melts at room temp and is very cardiac friendly.

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  5. I also found you when you were moving into the little blue house. I knew you were going through a divorce but never knew the 'accident' that led to the honesty you share each and every day. I am so glad you do. Too many blogs are 'perfect' and we all know life isn't really like that. I've had some pretty rough times myself and knowing someone like you has helped me so much. You put it all down in such a honest and moving way. Thanks for sharing even more of your story.
    hugs,
    Linda

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    1. I just realized when I read Nancy's newsletter that many of you didn't know. And I thought you should.

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  6. A benefit to is all when you hit the "publish" button, so enjoy following you...
    Blessings,
    Cindy

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    1. I was absolutely stricken when I began to get emails, and it sure wasn't about Mellow Yellow!

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  7. I started following you way back when. It was those gardens and then....but it was not until recently, the past year, when my marriage fell apart or really it was threadbare for many years could I super relate to many women who wrote on the blog. It was a comfort to me really. It still is. I like it here because it is transparent and we women need a place to vent, to cheer, to help, to heal, to laugh, to cry, to feel human again. Thank you Brenda. Hugs.

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    1. Yes, this place is always an open door for you to cry, to vent, to scream, to feel human again. Whether it be in comments, emails or on the phone. I'll gladly call you.

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  8. Brenda, I LOVE your posts...every. single. one. You've made me laugh, cry, think about things I would never have thought about, dream, analyze and love more deeply in a different way than before. In my opinion, it wasn't a mistake for the post to be posted that day. It was meant to be. Thank you for being a part of my life in a non-traditional way! Hahaha...how many words can we come up with to describe online relationships? Keep 'em coming, Girl!!!

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    1. I've,had a very non-traditional life. And I guess this blog is non-traditional as well. I want to use what happened to me to help others walk the path and get to the other side of the bridge. It isn't easy, but it is necessary. And there's nothing wrong with asking for a little help along the way. Who better to ask than someone who has walked it herself?

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  9. You are a lady of courage, Brenda. I love your unique style, always have.

    I am so glad you made that "mistake." Looks how much connection so many of us have now because of it.......thank you.

    Hugs.

    That painting is incredible, too, by the way - is she talented! WOW!!

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    1. She is very talented. I can't imagine picking up a paint brush and ending up with that! But she's also making her art her dream of independence. And she's pulling it off beautifully.

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  10. Oh so long ago... como dicen "you've come a long way baby" .... Thank you for all you do. Keep up the good work girlfriend...

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    1. And I thank you for reading. It is a relationship. The writer and the reader. Can't have one without the other.

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  11. I knew a little of your back story Brenda but I guess I wasn't reading yet in 2011? (2011 was also the year my dad died and it's "the lost year" for me.) These two posts of yours, take my breath away. The willingness to be open and the beauty of your writing tug at my heart. I want to stand up and cheer for you.

    For myself, real life is what draws me to a blog and blogger. Sure I can be sucked in by flair and glossy photos but ultimately it's the sense of an authentic inner life being shared that keeps me coming and caring.

    Thank you!



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    1. And now it's my turn to watch other women reach for independence, so that I can stand up and cheer for them.

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  12. Hi. I stumbled onto your blog sometime in 2011 shortly before you accidentally published the post on your marriage issues. I had visited a few times before, and kept coming back to see if you had posted more photos of the kitchen you had then. (It definitely had the Brenda "look," with primary colors and a cheerful feeling that appealed to me.) Since I was new to your blog, I didn't realize that your personal post was out of the ordinary -- at first I assumed you had done such posts before.

    I think I would have kept visiting your blog even if you had not begun sharing such heartfelt details of your life, because I was drawn to your warm and colorful decorating style, slightly reminiscent of a favorite of mine, Mary Engelbreit. But, the inclusion of your personal story gave me so much to think about. and just as importantly, to feel about. The personal information you shared back then, and have continued to share on up to the present, sometimes is similar to something in my life, and sometimes isn't a bit like anything I've gone through. Yet, I generally find myself thinking, "I know just how she feels."

    Your life has come a long -- and good -- way since that post in 2011. My life has taken some unexpected twists and turns too. My husband's job layoff in 2012, and our eventual move to a different state in 2013, has been a roller coaster ride that we haven't wanted to be on. But, reading your blog has been a daily activity that's given my life some continuity and groundedness. That sounds crazy, doesn't it, considering you've been writing about a lot of upheaval in your life over the past couple of years, and I've been going through my own. How can that produce groundedness? I think perhaps that knowing we aren't the only ones experiencing instability can provide some stability!

    Thanks for continuing to share.

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    1. I want you to know how very grateful I am to have a reader like you. I think people don't feel so alone when things are shared.

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  13. I do want to add that way back in 2011, after you accidentally shared that post, and then posted a couple of follow-ups, I sent you an email in which I expressed my worry that your then-husband might retaliate in some way because of your blog posts. I was concerned for your safety. You thanked me for my concern, but you didn't think it would be an issue since you thought he and his new love didn't follow your blog. So, you were brave and carried on. Thanks!

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    1. I had forgotten that! How kind of you to have worried about me. Well, I'm still here, so guess it was just luck.

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  14. I think it takes great courage to be so transparent. I know you didn't mean for that post to go public, but it was probably a blessing in disguise. Now, you have a platform to stand on and help others that may be experiencing the same thing or something else painful in their life. It is always nice to know that you're not alone. No one has the perfect life and all of us can learn from each others experiences. I think it's refreshing to see what's really going on in peoples lives instead of looking through rose colored glasses all the time. We're all fighting some sort of battle in our lives and to be able to support each other is wonderful. It's especially nice knowing those that have come through it ok.

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    1. I remember thinking of women I'd known over the years who left and were okay. And I wondered if I'd be okay. I think I did need to get pushed off that ledge to take action.

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  15. As you know I've been following you for a very long time, through all these adversities. In the depths of our despair we may not be able to under the whys and wherefores of what happens, but for you it was a miracle. I just feel you have given strength to some women out there who never thought they could fly. I stumbled across this quote tonight and thought of you: Like a Butterfly, I have been Reborn with Bold Colors and Strong Wings - Jonathan Lockwood Huie

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    1. What a beautiful quote! Even with injured wings, we still can strive to fly.

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  16. The tribute from Nancy is wonderful, and now, hearing the full story, I think it was a mistake that was meant to be. You not only have a gift for writing and photography, but for sharing in such a way that people know they have a friend in you. They know where to come when they need an ear, or want to lend an ear.

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    1. Yes, it's been that way since 2011, and I plan for it to continue.

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  17. Brenda I'm so glad to have been your fan for so very long. All along, you were intended to be so much more than just a pretty blog. You are a trendsetter, and a leader, too. I don't think reflecting back on what happened is crying into your soup, it's definitely a wonderful signpost that says how far you have come, and just think how many others you have helped along the way. Big hugs to you and the babies from me and the pugs in Texas!

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    1. Nancy, sometimes when I write things like this, people think I am depressed. But usually it is just something that crossed my mind and then ended up on this blog. I kind of just go with the flow, as I'm sure you do as a painter. Everything can't be planned. Big hugs from the pupsters!

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  18. I think that Nancy wrote a wonderful & beautiful tribute to you and your blog : )

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    1. I was just sitting here drinking my coffee, admiring the paintings she'd recently done. And there I was. It was so very nice of her!

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  19. I remember googling decorating blogs...it was 2010...and yours popped up. I've been along for the journey ever since. I love your honesty...and your decorating. Hope you have a fine day! ;)

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    1. Well, Donnamae, you have just made it a fine day with those sweet words!

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  20. I`ve been reading your wonderful blog about a month and I agree with your readers comments. I`ve been widowed about 8 months. While taking care of my husband and then following his death I stopped posting. I started a private journal and later posted about why I`d been gone. I have some close online friends. My twin and her husband died 3 months after my husband passed. It`s been a horrific year. I am doing better. Picked up a new puppy and I`m kept busy adjusting to my new life, cleaning up the property, renewing friendships and my sewing. I live in a remote area but I have family nearby close to Grand Canyon. Divorce, death it`s all grief and pain and renewal. I learned I`m pretty darn strong. I hope you don`t mind my comment. I guess in a way we are like butterflies, coming out of cocoons to start our new lives.

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    1. I have emailed you, but I am commenting here to tell you again how sorry I am that you've gone through so much in so short a time. That would be like avalanche after avalanche falling down on you. Your puppy will help, I promise you!

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  21. I found your post and started reading it back in 2011 and was drawn in by your beautiful garden and amazing photographs of your flowers. I loved your "Mr. Sun" and your yard art. I too live in Texas so I related to the things you grew and your love for color in your world. About the same time my life began to crumble, as yours did, so I'd return daily to read your blog to see how you were coping. I remember reading the post about retrieving your glasses you'd left in a dresser drawer. I still remember literally laughing out loud when you wrote "should I write her a thank you ...?." I love your sense of humor! I was given a book, about that time, by Ann Voskamp called "One Thousand Gifts" that God used to save my life. It was about thanking Him for all the blessings that He showers us with to show He cares - for seeing the glass half-full, not half-empty. Listing my blessings and focusing on what I did have kept me from falling into despair. And that's what I see you do. Counting your blessings for all of us to see. Looking for the good. Helping others along the way. God used my love of gardening to help as well - working in the yard and seeing beauty come from that barren space that I first moved into. The beauty of His creation helped heal me too. I have prayed for you for all these years now and continue to do so. I see His blessings in your life and thank you for sharing them with us!

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    1. Oh, I'm so thankful for loyal readers like you! I had forgotten that story! Yes, my glasses broke (and I have to wear glasses all the time I'm so near-sighted) and he had taken the new bedroom furniture and apparently I'd left my extra pair in the drawer of the night stand (I'm not into matchy-match furniture, so he took the whole set). So I called him on his cell, and he was out of state. So he had to call "her" and have her drop them in my mail box at the curb. I went to retrieve them a little later and a neighbor was outside. Of course everyone knew in that little cul-de-sac. She asked me what I was doing and I said: "Oh, the mistress dropped off my extra glasses in the mailbox." And then I posted that I wondered if I should send a thank you note to her! (I've always called her the mistress!)

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  22. Thanks for sharing this, Brenda. Nancy wrote a beautiful tribute to you. I'm glad you hit that "publish" button. Just a few weeks before my husband of 36 years passed away, in May 2007, I started a blog. When he died suddenly my world fell apart, and I retreated to spend time with God and allow Him to heal me. I never went back to that blog, and now I'm a bit sorry I didn't continue on and share what I was learning through my grieving. It may have been a help to someone else. I remarried in 2010 and started a new blog about life in the Colorado Rockies with my new husband. I called it Joyful Altitude. From there came A Joyful Cottage, and that's been my home since 2012. Honestly, your blog has been a huge inspiration to me. You've managed to create a home and garden blog that is so much more than just pretty rooms and lovely flowers. I like to see and read about those things, sure, but seeing the heart behind the blogger enriches every sentence and image. And makes me realize how blessed I am to be a part of a special group of people called "Bloggers". Hugs, Nancy

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    1. We bloggers are a community. That's why I do Welcome Wagon. Someone starts a blog and then is not sure they'll fit in, how they'll find readers and friends. And so that's a little boost to get them started. We are friends and allies and a shoulder to cry on. My heart will always be in my words on this blog. That's just how I am and I'm too old to change! I look forward to seeing that cottage built!

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  23. I too prefer your genuine story (and the pretty pictures too) rather than the blogs with too many pretty pictures and nothing too "real" or genuine to say. Thank you for sharing both!

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    1. I understand why bloggers want their privacy. Their family and friends may read their blog, and they don't want to offend. Or they're just a private person and can't let those things out. I didn't mean to lay it all there, and I was just stricken when I figured out what I had done. But it turned out okay and the rest is history!

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  24. About a month ago, I posted something "deep" for me - usually it's all about my garden, house, table, etc. After I wrote the post, I almost didn't post it thinking that the writing might have been enough to help my heart. But, I posted it and received so many wonderful comments. We all need to reminded that we don't live in the pages of a magazine, but in the real world.

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    1. I must have missed that one. I'll have to go back and look. I think it's important to show readers that, as you said, we don't live in the pages of a magazine. And our real world is much like theirs.

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  25. I was with my husband for 19 years when he dumped me within less then 24 hours and took my life I knew and loved all for a newer model. Women do not just get divorced, we lose our homes that gave us joy that we devoted years of work to, ,our special garden places, our pets, our memories and our life as we knew it. Worse of all is losing our sense of home and all that is precious to us within that home and universe. I worked for 8 years on my Victorian and it was all gone in less then 24 hours. I have never been able to put the grief into words. I had never seen divorce expressed in words how I felt until I read yours. Thank you for posing no matter how it came about, it was meant to be because you help a lot of your readers. Your writing is so touching, so real and so truthful. I am anxiously awaiting your book!

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    1. That's about how I felt. All the work I'd done, the flowers and herbs I'd planted, the pond I was so proud of, all was gone. And I will never be able to afford those particular niceties again. I still grieve for that. And I found out Friday that my cat Clyde, who I had to leave with him, had to be put to sleep. He was an old cat. But I've actually grieved being away from him more than anything. I had just pulled his photo up on the computer that very morning, and had almost posted it. When I learned he'd crossed The Rainbow Bridge. I would cry every time I saw his photo, and now I cry because he's gone.

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  26. Although it was not what you intended, it is funny the way that life takes us along these different paths sometimes, so perhaps it was meant to be and without that one little thing you might not be where you are today. What a great tribute to you though!! xx

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    1. I think it was the fact that now everyone knew, that forced me to get myself together and make a plan to leave. I had put up with so much, and yet I feared leaving so. But then I felt like he had to be held accountable. And I had to be accountable to myself by not putting up with anymore.

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  27. Brenda, I've read your blog for several years. You've helped me be strong when needed and not feel so alone.

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    1. Oh, that makes me feel so good! If ever you need me, just shoot me an email.

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  28. I had no idea about how you got to where you are now. I just know that when I found your blog, not long ago, I immediately thought, "Now there's a blog that's real." I detected a down-to-Earth honesty here that was refreshing and inspiring. That blog post was a good, happy accident. I'm sorry you had to feel devastated by it in the beginning, but there's no telling how many you have helped because of it!

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    1. Without pain, how do we know what happiness truly is? Without loss, how do we know what having something or someone is? I'm so glad you've become a reader. If ever you have suggestions on what you would like to see more of, just contact me.

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  29. Brenda, I hope you know, you are an inspiration to every woman that reads yours blog. You are #1....

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  30. I don't think anything happens by 'accident'. Publishing that post was meant to be.

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    1. I guess it was. But when I realized what happened, I was in total disbelief that I could have done that. And the worst part is that it had been out there for hours before I even realized it. I was so angry with myself for making such a life-altering mistake. Now I'm glad for it.

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  31. What you saw as devastation at the time turned out to be wonderfully therapeutic for you, my friend, and a help to many others. I know we have talked about this and I am happy to call you friend. xo Laura

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    1. And you, Laura, have also been through so much, and I admire your strength and your resolve.

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  32. Your accidental push of that button started you on the path to where you are today Brenda..I'd call that a happy accident..Hugs..

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    1. It did. It truly pushed me off the ledge I'd been clinging to. I was falling into the unknown. And the unknown is a scary place.

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  33. Brenda, I started reading your blog a little after you made the announcement. When I discovered the blog world in 2009 and 2010, I would visit blogs that I saw listed on the side of blogs I had been visiting. I was dealing with multiple back surgeries. Two less than 6 months apart in 2009 that both went badly and I have never fully recovered and then again in the summer of 2010. I would visit daily and pray for you especially when you moved to the little blue house. I have had some of the same trials as you. My daughter was out of my life for 2 years. She is back now and has been for almost a year. We just returned home from a 7 day vacation together, just hubby, her, I, and our 5 fur babies. We had a grand time. So do not give up on that relationship. Sometimes it just takes them realizing that all is not how it seems on the outside and then they realize, hey, MOm has always been my 1 number fan and supporter!! I thank God for you daily and all that you have shared with me and inspired me to try. Hugs from the dachshunds in NC!
    Hugs,
    Lynn

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    1. The only thing, and I have had back surgery when I was much younger, that has helped me, is the yoga stretching. No more sciatica for 17 years now. I mourn the relationship with my daughters. One just followed the other. I have always, and I've told her this, been her biggest advocate, but she doesn't see it. I hope someday she does. That maybe I wasn't a perfect mother, but I have told her so many times how much I am proud of her and how much I love her. It doesn't seem to get through to her. But I think she has some demons that she can't shake, and I just wish she'd let me help her. I miss her so much. Both of them. I can't write this without crying. I can't think about it without crying. I just feel like I've been knocking on a door for so long that no one opens.

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  34. Brenda, I just love this story and I did not know this story. Thanks for sharing a part of your life with us. I have featured this post on my FIRST Sunday Shout Out on my blog, come by around 6pm and it should be live. Thanks again Brenda and have a great week. :-)

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  35. I am a newbie to your blog, just 2 months, but I so enjoy reading it, seeing the pictures. I truly believe we make no mistakes in this life, and sometimes a button gets pushed without our knowing it. You pushed he post button and changed the way some people see things in the world. I too am divorced, 18 years now. My ex left me when I was 6 months pregnant and with a 3 1/2 year old who wanted to die because daddy was gone. It has been hard these years going back to school, living in poverty, and raising two boys alone. But I know it was meant to be. I am blessed with 2 wonderful children, and Miss Kitty, our cat. We still live in poverty, but we have each other. I just wanted to say thanks for posting that "mistake" and for letting us see the real side of the bloggers world. Thanks for the words and pictures you share; they make my day brighter.

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    1. And your words just made my day infinitely brighter!

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  36. Don't remember whether I told you, at the time, Brenda. I went to your blog the next day to dump it. I didn't need any more time spent on pretty little blogs, thought I. When I saw that day's post I went back to the original "mistake" post. I cried for you. I prayed for you. I'm so glad you are in a better place. :)

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    1. Well, I'm glad you didn't dump it. I wouldn't have gotten to know you as I do!

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    2. Nor I, you. I knew I couldn't leave you. I had to stand by and pray, even if I didn't ever comment.. which didn't last long. ;)
      When your Ex said we, your blogging and online friends were not real, I kinda knew what he meant, but I wanted you to know he was wrong. I was so glad or the outpouring of support you got. I also laughed because I am a pretty hefty presence for one who is not "real." :)

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  37. I'm fairly new to your blog but am enjoying it everyday. I know you write about your life changes but I don't really know the story. I wish I could read that blog from 2011 that touched so many lives. I think God guided your finger to hit the wrong button that day. It was a blessing in disguise. Yes, it's great to read "real life" ups and downs. I was reading another blog yesterday and a woman was telling about herself. Seemed her life was perfect. She was beautiful, had a loving handsome husband, two grown handsome and well-educated sons, lived in a beautiful Norman Rockwell type farmhouse, was a published author, even had two non-shedding dogs! I looked at her blog and wondered, "is there anything wrong here?" Finally, I spotted something wrong. She had weeds in her yard!!! I was relieved. We don't want to see perfect. We want to see the good, the bad and the ugly because we can relate to that. My life has had all three. I'm am thankful for all the hard times because they helped make me the person I am today as a 60 year old lady. I take nothing for granted. I cherish what I have and don't dream for more. Life is definitely hills and valleys and it's in the low times (the valley) of our lives where we truly grow and learn and feel the ever-loving presence of God. Now, I can somewhat relate to your feelings when you realized you hit the wrong button. I did that once and instead of our church members reading an email about our pastor's surgery, they read an email where one member called another member "frog-face"! Fortunately, I wasn't either one of the members but I was the one who accidently sent it! Talk about apologizing!

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