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ISOLATION BREEDS DISCONNECTION

Hello Friends,

First, I want to thank all of you who support me emotionally in my writing and art.  I appreciate it more than you could ever know.  I enjoy bringing a smile, a laugh or even tears to you.  This is another long post and a little you may know already…but this is where I’m at.

I have been going through a lot of emotional upheaval in the last few months – losing my brother to suicide, trying to figure out exactly what I want to spend the rest of my life doing, and both of our kids leaving the nest temporarily (tomorrow.)  Our son is gone during the week living and working with friends, but he likes to come home some weekends to spend time with us.  He will be going out on an 8-day trip with his crew from the California Conservation Corps.  Also, our daughter is going to visit a friend for a while, possibly the rest of the summer!

So…because of all of the things I just mentioned, I decided to do two things:

1)  Go back to counseling for a while

2)  Go to suicide survivors meetings

Last week I did both which I will continue a few more times.  I do not feel at this point that I am going to need to go to either for a really long time.  I have been in a good place mentally for quite some time now since recovering from some significant losses three years ago.  What is really great is that my counselor can see me in the hour before my meeting starts on those two Mondays every month.  Also, I met some great women at this meeting that I want to get to know.

Here’s what I learned at my first suicide survivors meeting:

  • I am not alone – suicide has touched almost every family. Survivors feel angry, sad, abandoned, and wish we could have said or done something to prevent it.
  • We feel guilty to some degree that we couldn’t stop it or didn’t see the signs.

Some people find their loved ones who died.  I can only imagine how emotionally traumatic that would be to a person.  Just hearing how my brother killed himself and hearing how people did CPR on him for at least 20 minutes, puts images in my mind that I will never forget.  Finding out that his best friend had brought my brother a wheelchair the day he died and didn’t see the signs of suicidal thoughts in him, helped me understand why my brother may have made this choice.

When he called me a few weeks before he chose to die, the last thing he told me was that his legs didn’t work anymore.  He said he could barely stand up or walk.  I always knew that my brother was a prideful man.  He never wanted to show weakness.  He was always sensitive, loved animals (whom he knew could love him back,) and I think he just felt out of place his whole life.  He was not a follower nor was he a leader.  He was determined to go his own way which he always did.  He didn’t confide in me or anyone else in our family about anything.

I can relate to some of this.  I have felt this way for most of my life.  Some may think I am projecting part of who I am onto my brother.  However, I would disagree.  He and I were a lot alike in many ways that I just never really thought about until now.  I will always miss him even though he never did let me get close to him.  For some reason I’ll never know, things were just always intense between us.

The difference between us, though, is that I hit bottom at 27 years old, reached out for help, and eventually began taking medications for depression and anxiety.  My brother self-medicated from his teen years on, what I believe, was some type of mental illness.  Thinking back over a lot of his behavior – his anger, impulsiveness, pride – makes me wonder if he had extreme anxiety which is why he drank.  Alcohol is a depressant, though, and he was not one to sit around feeling depressed, which is why I think he became addicted to speed.  All of this stuff can really mess up a person’s brain which just complicates mental health issues even more.  It is a vicious cycle!

The saddest part of all of this for me is that about three years ago he called me to apologize for how he had treated me most of our lives and tell me he didn’t deserve forgiveness; he said he wanted to quit the drugs but couldn’t.  He felt stuck, scared, and defeated.  I think he just had not hit bottom yet – until he saw that wheelchair.  Unfortunately, hitting bottom for him didn’t mean reaching out for help.  I believe he may have thoughts like:  “I am not going to become an invalid.”  “I will not become helpless.”  “I will not become dependent on anyone to help me with everyday things I can no longer do for myself.”  I knew my brother well enough to know that this is very close to what had to be going through his mind that last day.

Yet I believe human beings are made to need other human beings.  As much as some of us may not want to admit we need people – we do.  Isolation is not a solution to relieve anxiety.  Desiring to get away from people is natural – for a time.  But to stay alone for weeks, months, or years is to disconnect.  Disconnection from healthy relationships leaves a person in their own head where they can deceive themselves so easily into believing lies such as:

  • I’m ugly.
  • I’m not worthy of love.
  • No one will ever love the real me.
  • How can anyone love me when I am such an emotional mess?

These were some of my very thoughts, along with many other negative tapes playing in my head, from a young age.  Some of it came from emotional neglect and abuse that my brothers and I went through from our alcoholic dad.  I know now that our parents were probably both mentally ill, (my dad was depressed and my mom most likely had anxiety to some extent) but they did the best they were capable of in parenting us.  I think on some level my brother knew this, too.  I just wish he could have asked for help.  He lived in a trailer park and had some friends, but only one of them knew how depressed he was, yet he didn’t even recognize the suicidal signs that were there.  So…

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, do what could be the hardest things you may ever do – pick up the phone and call your local suicide hotline or the Suicide Prevention Services of America at 1-800-273-8225.

Lastly, please do not allow yourself or anyone you know to stay isolated.  Try your best to reach out.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug.   🙂

 

How does the creative process work?

This is too beautiful to pass up sharing! I believe Janet captures the spirit of hummingbirds in her paintings as well as their physical beauty! 🙂

My Life as an Artist (2)

Like a flying jewel, the hummingbird darts lightly through the world, teaching us to appreciate the wonder and magic of every day existence……….

watercolour/gouache

20-11-15 - 1 (1082)How does the creative process work?

Initially the seed of an idea is sewn.

The seed then enters into an incubation period which can be short lived, or take years to come to fruition.

The seed of an idea 20-11-15 - 1 (1076)As we go about our daily lives, just like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle being revealed, the seed sprouts ideas that give us more information…..This can happen at any time.

It’s vital to record these ideas, because even when we think we couldn’t possibly forget a moment of inspiration……we can, and do, which is why it’s important to always have a sketch/notebook at hand.

20-11-15 - 1 (1079)

Like a ghostly apparition sometimes the answer seems almost within reach – but then it disappears and returns to incubation….it was just a…

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MENTAL HEALTH: Getting Well is Possible.

Hello Friends,

Over the last few days I have been deciding how I plan to deal with my brother’s suicide and how I would like to be involved in a large community near where I live.  I met with a woman on Tuesday at the open house for a new mental health facility that opened in Redding, Ca.  Here is a link to the article:   http://anewscafe.com/2017/05/25/county-officials-mental-health-professionals-and-public-attend-open-house-of-new-mental-health-facility-in-redding/

It was exciting for me to hear about all of the many services this group of people is going to offer to Shasta County.  I knew then that God was showing me how my life is going to change real soon.  I signed up to be a volunteer.  I will start out doing simple things at first such as answering phones or e-mails or helping with mailings.  I also plan to begin attending meetings facilitated by the woman I met with.  She facilitates meetings for friends and family members of people who completed suicide.  It has been many years since I went to any kind of open recovery meetings such as this, but I am looking forward to it.  I remember back in 1988 when I went to my first recovery meetings after I stopped drinking and using drugs.  I felt very nervous and afraid.  However, I am not that person anymore; I know what I need to deal with, I have good boundaries, and there is no pressure to share.  I think just meeting new people and hearing other people’s stories will help me begin to deal with the unfortunate choice my brother made.  I will have no problem sharing or talking, though, so I am sure I will.  The next meeting isn’t until June 5th so I have some time to process all of it some more before then.

I have my first counseling meeting set up for June 2nd with a therapist I met a couple of months ago.  I am also looking forward to talking with her.  It has been a very long time since I went to a woman counselor which will be different.  When I first went to counseling in 1988, I went to a woman.  However, after several months, I felt really uncomfortable with her for some reason.  So I stopped.  I kept going to the ACA meetings, and then found a male counselor at the church I was attending at the time.  I went to him for several years, and he was encouraging, safe, and the first man I ever felt connected with emotionally whom I knew I could trust.  I grew a lot in those years, and he helped me through the transition of entering a second marriage which has been healthy and loving.  My husband and I have been together since December of 1994.  It has been quite a journey!  And now we are looking toward the future when our nest is empty and he retires someday.

So as far as working with Hill Country Care Center, I am planning to take some time to get to know people, get a good feel of all of their services to the community, then possibly go through their Shasta Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Academy which is a “FREE 65-hour certificate training program…designed to help people prepare for entry-level positions within the public mental health field and/or prepare them to become Peer Mentors.”  (That is a quote from their brochure.)

It has been many years since I have taken any kind of classes, but I had already been thinking about something along these lines for the last year or so. I just had no idea I would find out about this wonderful care facility this way.  So hopefully, as I said in my last post about my brother, something good will come from his death.    It is possible that I may eventually get to use my writing and art to contribute to the creating of flyers, etc.  So that is exciting for me, too.

Thank you to all of you who read my last post about the suicide of my brother.  I appreciate all of your support, prayers, and comments more than you know.  I am planning on keeping you updated on what I will be doing and learning as a volunteer in the mental health community.

I am still doing art and still plan to keep working on the picture books I’d like to write and illustrate, but for now it is just for fun.  I am feeling like this other work is going to become more important to me for the time being, but the facility does also have a program where they train people to go into elementary schools and talk about suicide.  Who knows?  Maybe somehow, all of this will meld together into something beautiful.  I sure hope so.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

 

 

SUICIDE: Don’t Make That Choice!

Hello Friends,

I have been feeling a little reluctant to write about this, but honestly, I don’t see how I can NOT write about it.  This will be long; bear with me, please.

On the morning of May 5th, I learned that one of my brothers committed suicide on May 4th.  In a way, I wasn’t surprised when I thought back on the last time I had spoken with him.  He called me out of the blue about a month before this and asked me if I knew where his daughter was.  I thought this was a strange question since I have not seen her since she was three years old!  She and her mom left California in the early ’80’s when her mom and my brother divorced.  Anyway, I asked him why he needed to find her.  I asked him if he was sick.  He said he wasn’t sick, but he couldn’t hardly walk anymore. He said he wanted her to be able to have all of his part of the financial investments that our parents left us “just in case something happens to me.”  In the back of my mind I had a flash of what he may have been planning.  However, I did not ask him if he was feeling suicidal.  I wish I had.   I was actually surprised that he even called me.

My brother and I had a very rocky relationship for most of our lives.  I never really understood why.  I am the youngest.  He was the middle sibling.  We were four and a half years apart.  He would have been 61 this July.  He always seemed closer to our other brother.  However, throughout our lives we all really went our separate ways.  The closest I ever felt to either of them was when we went through the death of our mother in 2006.  Our father died three years later.  So our eldest brother had to handle all of the inheritance stuff.  It was a very stressful time for all of us.  Since then, we have all lived separately; my oldest brother left the area and my other brother and I never knew where he was until about three years ago.

That was when my middle brother decided to call me and apologize for everything he had ever done to hurt me.  He was crying and truly sorry.  This was something I had been praying for since 1987 when God had turned my life around.  I had tried many times to make amends with him, but he was just not ready.  Needless to say, I was thankful for that call.  I told him I had forgiven him many years ago and had been praying we might be able to have that conversation someday.  I told him I had always wanted to know him and I loved him.  I asked him if we could just start to have a relationship then, but he said he didn’t want to.  He was addicted to drugs and couldn’t get clean.  He was living in a trailer park where he had been for the last 20 years.  He didn’t know how to change, and he didn’t ask anyone for help that I know of.  I felt helpless, but I let him be.  I called him a few times just to see how he was doing, but he just didn’t know how to connect with me.

I believe he suffered from mental illness his whole life; most likely anxiety and depression, just as I have since I was at least 15.  Looking back on my childhood, I now believe my dad suffered from depression and this was why he drank.  I also think my mom had anxiety issues not just because of his drinking, but because of her own chemical make-up.  She was always worrying about everything and everyone.

I went through my drug and alcohol abuse days from about 1980 to 1987.  That was the year I quit everything and got help through counseling and an ACA (adult children of alcoholics) meeting every week for a couple of years. However, both of my brothers kept using drugs and alcohol for the rest of their lives.  My brother who died was hurt on a job many years ago and was getting pain medicine through the veterans hospital.  He was in the Navy for four years when he was right out of high school.   Apparently, though, his back became so bad, he could hardly walk anymore.  I believe that he just chose to die to escape the pain that was consuming him.

I have been that low many, many times myself emotionally.  However, I am thankful to have a loving husband and two children who love me and would never ever want me to make that choice just to escape any pain I may go through in my life.  It doesn’t solve anything, and it leaves those whom the person left behind in shock, angry, and sad.

When I learned of my brother’s suicide, I was definitely shocked.  Then I was angry for a few days.  Then I had to begin dealing with the aftermath of what would happen to him and his stuff.  At the time I didn’t have a clue as to where his daughter was.  Then his best friend found my brother’s ex-wife’s phone number.  She was contacted and then my niece was.  Yesterday I spent most of the day on the phone with my 37-year-old niece whom I do not even know.  It was strange, but good.

Hopefully, just getting in touch with her will be the blessing that comes out of his sad choice.  My brother and his daughter were estranged from each other for most of their lives as well.  I always felt sad about that, but hopefully she and I can build a relationship with one another now even though we live very far apart.

To this day I have no clue as to where my other brother lives.  We became estranged after our parents were both gone eight years ago.  He left the area and has never wanted to come back.  However, our brother who died did have a best friend who knew where our oldest brother was.  So the same month that my brother called and apologized to me, he also went and found our other brother to make amends with him as well.  However, I have no way to find our eldest brother to try and do the same.  He is living off the grid which is what he always wanted.

I know this has been a very long post; if you stayed with me, thank you.  I wrote this to encourage anyone who is thinking about suicide or knows anyone who is, to tell you to please reach out for help.  There is lots of help to be found!  First, try to talk to someone you know.  If that doesn’t help, call a local suicide hotline.  Or call 1-800-273-8255.  This is the number for Suicide Prevention Services of America.  Their website is http://www.spsamerica.org if you want more information.  I have never used their services, but I am sure there would be someone there to talk to.

Well, friends, I am definitely going to be reaching out for some help myself in dealing with this.  I have talked with someone locally whom I am planning to meet this afternoon.  Perhaps this is going to be the start of something good.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

The imaginary friend

Some lovely thoughts from my lovely friend, Julia, whom I met through blogging a long time ago. Enjoy!

Have a wonderful day and give someone you love a big hug! 🙂

Defeat Despair

Imagination to reality: meeting (again) in person, the smiles say it all.
Laurie, Matt, me, Kelly and Alys at Rustico’s in Old Town Alexandria, April 2017

“Writing is a job, a talent, but it’s also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon.” ― Ann Patchett

I think most everyone who writes can identify with this quote. But for those of us who blog, the line takes on a magnificent blur as the imaginary friend we reach through our writing may, from time to time, step through the mist and become real to us. And for many of us, this might happen again and again, with several different people who read our words, and whose words we read, leaving us with an entire family of friends we might never meet face to face.

Just last week I was exchanging…

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Picture Book…Still in Progress

Hello Friends.

I know I have been working on this first picture book for a long time now, but it is coming about slowly.  Here are the paintings I have done of my illustrations so far.  They are really watercolor sketches on low-quality paper right now.   I plan to keep working on the colors; I’m not quite satisfied with the shades of grays or with how the yellows came out.  To me they look too washed out.  I have not finished all of the paintings of the illustrations yet either.  Also, I skipped painting some of the illustrations so I could do the jellyfish.  I am planning to do backgrounds for the title pages and do something for the cover, the back, and the end pages inside the book as well.

So here is my first picture book so far….

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

LARRY THE LONELY LEATHERBACK SEA TURTLE

WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED

BY

 PATSY H. PARKER

Larry is lonely.   He does not have any friends to play with.  Last week he had to say goodbye to his best friend, Alicia, because she wanted to go explore a different part of the ocean.  

“Bye, Larry.”

“Bye, Alicia.  I’ll miss you!”

 

Now Larry is sad.  He feels like crying.

So he does.

When Larry feels lonely,

he swims

 

and swims.  He is hoping to find a new friend.

Then suddenly he is surprised when his tummy starts growling.  He was missing Alicia so much, he forgot to eat!

Growl, growl!

So Larry decides to look for his favorite food.

Jellyfish!

Larry dives…

deeper,

deeper,

and deeper.

Diving is Larry’s favorite part of swimming.

He dives all the way down to the bottom of the ocean to rest.

When he looks up to see the sun shining through the water,

He sees a swarm of jellyfish!  Then they see him, too!

They swim fast to get away…

and when Larry almost catches one,

he sees another Leatherback sea turtle swimming in his direction, but she does not see

him!  Suddenly they are face to face.

They bump noses.

Larry smiles widely.  He thinks to himself, maybe she will be my friend.

She smiles shyly.

“Hi.  I’m lonely…I mean…Larry.”  He feels embarrassed.

“Hi.  I’m Lucy.”  She giggles.  Then she winks at him.  “Do you want to go catch jellyfish with me?”

“Yes, I do!  Larry answered happily.  “I almost caught earlier today!”

So Larry and Lucy swam away to catch jellyfish together.

Then Larry, the lonely Leatherback sea turtle wasn’t lonely anymore.

The End

Lenny, the Leatherback – A Poem

Hello friends,

Yesterday after I wrote about writing being tough at times, I came up with this poem, which is weird since I don’t really write poetry anymore!  Ha, ha.  And of course, it is about a sea turtle! (This is not the same “Lenny” as in my other story.  I just love this name!)  Enjoy.  🙂

Lenny, the Leatherback

Lenny, the Leatherback turtle was as large as he could be.

He loved his home,

But he was all alone

In the salty waters of the sea.

 

Lenny, the Leatherback turtle tried every day to make friends.

But jellyfish swam away fast,

Whenever he was about to pass,

They were so afraid he might eat them.

 

Lenny, the Leatherback turtle felt as lonely as he could be.

He dove down deeper…down, down,

And when he saw a clown –

Fish, he smiled and was friendly.

 

The clownfish smiled back at Lenny,

She didn’t seem to feel afraid of him.

She swam up to his side instead of trying to hide,

And asked, “Will you be my friend?”

 

By,

Patsy H. Parker

4/21/17

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug! 🙂

Writing…Sometimes It’s…toUGH!!!

Courtesy of Google

Hello friends.

I found this quote and picture on Google today, and it encouraged me.  I have not been posting much lately, but because of some personal struggles, I have been doing the best I can.  Struggling has pushed me back into tackling some writing projects again.  I am not sure if the writing is therapeutic or not at this point, though.  It feels a bit stressful at the moment…thus, the UGH!!! in my title.

One story I began a very long time ago is “Gracie, the Green Sea Turtle.” After re-reading it, I decided to remove it from my blog for now, because I realized how many mistakes were in it so I am doing a re-write and will hopefully actually finish it.  I may post it again someday, but I think posting it before was premature and showed that at the time I did not proofread it enough!  And I am usually a stickler about proofreading.  I must have been off my meds that day…

Lately I have been working on other turtle stories and a poem this week, too.  I just jotted a short poem down this morning which still needs work.  I haven’t really written poetry in years.  I already posted “The Most Ticklish Turtle in Town” this week.  It’s a good thing, too, because somehow it has disappeared off of my laptop. I have a printed copy, but I sure didn’t want to have to type it all over again!

My daughter and I did get some good news yesterday, though.  She does NOT have classes next week due to other students doing testing.  She is a senior, so she doesn’t have any testing this year.  I don’t think she is planning on doing college classes in the fall at this point.  She is planning to join the California Conservation Corps. soon, though, which is something she has been looking forward to for the last couple of years.

This has really been a trying week; to add stress upon stress, we have been having upgrades to our hatchery done in the past few weeks, so there have been lots of planned power outages so the people can work on our power poles.  It has been very frustrating to say the least.  In addition to this, we had to have our personal (not the whole hatchery’s) internet system upgraded, because our old one was having too many problems.  All I can say at this point is TGIF!!

Hopefully, the weekend will be brighter.  My husband and are planning to go to something called “Spoken Word Night” this evening.  We have never been to one, but I guess it is “an evening for serious poets, writers, playwrights, storytellers, comedians, actors of all genres.”

I may be the least “serious” of them all at this point, but perhaps we will meet some interesting people.  They meet once a month.  So we will see how it goes.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!

The Most Ticklish Turtle in Town

Thomas was a red-eared slider turtle.  He was called a red-eared slider, because he was able to slide off of rocks easily in the pond, and there were small red stripes around his ears.  Sometimes he put a claw in each ear hole and made faces at himself in the bathroom mirror.  He also liked to admire his red stripes.

One day when he had his eyes closed and was reaching for a towel to dry his face after washing it, his sister walked up behind him and grabbed his sides – the squishy part of his body underneath his hard shell.

Thomas let out a loud cry and jumped a foot off the floor.  His sister laughed, “Ha, ha!  Gotcha!”

He turned to her with angry eyes and yelled, “Don’t do that, Tamara!  I don’t like to be tickled by surprise!”  He finished wiping his face and hung up the towel.

“Why?”

“I don’t know.  It makes me feel funny.”

She snickered, “Well, it’s supposed to!  Tickling is supposed to make you laugh, and laughing is funny.  Besides, everyone knows you’re the most ticklish turtle in town.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t like being surprised like that.  I hate being grabbed in the sides.  So please don’t do it anymore, okay, Tamara?”

Tamara hung her head and slunk away muttering quietly, “Okay, Thomas.  I’m sorry.”  (But she thought to herself, “until next time!”)

Thomas went to his bedroom, put on his favorite baseball cap and jersey, picked up his mitt, and ran out the door without saying good-bye to Tamara.

He walked down to the baseball diamond at the park to look for Garrett.  They were supposed to meet there to toss the baseball around after lunch.  When he reached the dugout where they usually sat after playing, no one was there.  He still felt angry at Tamara, but he decided to look down in the dirt for money which he and Garrett sometimes found lying there.  Just as he spotted a shiny quarter and bent down to pick it up, someone grabbed his sides and tickled him.  Not only did it scare him, but he lost his balance and fell over on his back.  He wobbled around on the back of his shell and stretched his neck and front legs out so he could flip himself over when he heard a familiar laugh.  Then someone grabbed his front leg and pulled him up which brought him face-to-face with Garrett.

Garrett’s laughter was met with Thomas yelling, “Why did you do that?”

Garrett said, “Sorry, buddy.  I was just playing around.  Besides, everyone knows you’re the most ticklish turtle in town.”

“Yeah, yeah.  I’m so tired of being called that!  You would think by now everyone would realize how much I hate being sneaked up on and tickled!”

Garrett looked at the ground and said, “Sorry, Thomas.  I just came by to tell you I can’t play today.”

“What?  Why not?”  Thomas felt even more frustrated at the disappointing news.

“My mom has to take me to the shell doctor.”  He turned around and showed Thomas a big crack in the side of his shell.

“How’d you do that Garrett?”

“I fell off the wall in front of our house.”

“What?  How’d you get up there?  It has to be two feet off the ground!”

“There was a wide board leaning up against it so I walked up it towards the wall.  Then my back foot got caught in a big hole in the wood.  I sort of did a twist, and as I fell, I heard my shell crack against the edge of the board.”

Thomas hesitated, then asked, “Did it hurt?”

“Yeah.  When I fell…..”

Thomas interrupted and said, “Good!  I get hurt somehow almost every time someone tickles me by surprise!  You deserve it, Garrett!”

Garrett scowled.  “Hey!  I said I was sorry, Thomas.  I won’t tickle you anymore, okay?”

“Whatever.  I’m leaving.  I’m glad you can’t play.  I don’t feel like it now anyway!”  Thomas turned and ran away.

Garrett yelled, “Fine!  I don’t think I’ll meet you here tomorrow either then.”

Garrett’s feelings were hurt.  He really hadn’t meant to make Thomas angry.  Then he thought about all the times Thomas had asked him not to walk up behind him and tickle him like that.  He felt badly, but when he looked up, Thomas was already gone.

Thomas decided to wander over to the pond.  He saw his friend, Maya, which already made him feel better.  She was the nicest friend he knew.  Maya was a painted turtle so her shell was flatter than Thomas’s, and a deep olive green color.  She had bright yellow stripes on her face.  Thomas thought she was beautiful.  He had known her since they were two years old.  They had both had their 12th birthdays that year.

She crawled out of the cool water just as Thomas ran down the hill and jumped off a rock making a huge splash.

Maya laughed and yelled, “Good one, Thomas!”

Maya ran up the hill, turned around, and yelled, “Watch out, here I come.”  Then she came barreling down the hill, but at the edge of the pond she spread out all her legs, went flying through the air, suddenly pulling all her legs in and did a cannonball and splashing Thomas.

When she came out of the water, Thomas was grinning widely, but she was coughing and sputtering water.   “Wow, Maya!  That was a great jump.   Are you okay?”

“Sure.  I never get hurt doing that, but I always get water up my nose and sometimes swallow some.  She smiled and said, “But it’s just so fun.”

She swam over to him giggling and asked, “So how’s the most ticklish turtle in town doing today?”

Thomas burst into tears and said, “Don’t call me that, Maya.”

She crawled out onto the bank of grass and sat beside him.  “Whoa, what’s the matter Thomas?  I didn’t think that nickname bothered you that much.  I’m sorry.”

He cried for a minute and then said, “Well, it does.  It isn’t the nickname so much.  I probably am the most ticklish turtle in town.  What I hate is when others come up behind me and tickle my sides by surprise.  I really don’t like it at all.  It scares me and then I feel embarrassed.  Both my sister and Garrett did it to me just this morning!  I was so mad, I yelled at both of them.”

“Oh, that’s too bad, but they need to stop doing that.  I know what you mean by it scaring and embarrassing you, too.  My brother tickles my feet all the time.  I don’t like it either.  Sometimes he gets a hold of me and won’t stop, and I accidentally pee myself!  That is really embarrassing.  Then I cry.  Tickling is only fun when I’m letting someone do it at the same time that I’m tickling them.  Then I have more fun, because I know what’s coming and laughing feels good then.”

“I know.  I keep trying to tell my sister and my friend, Garrett that, but they just won’t listen!”

“I try to tell my brother, too, but he just gets mad and calls me a baby.  That hurts my feelings.  I am not a baby just because I tell him to stop doing something I don’t like.”

“What are we going to do about it, Maya?  I am so tired of this.”

“I don’t know if there is anything we can do.  It’s really annoying when others won’t listen to us when we tell them to stop doing something that makes us feel uncomfortable.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes thinking about how to solve their problem.  Maya’s face brightened suddenly.

Thomas asked, “Did you think of something?”  She grinned, and he said, “You did think of something didn’t you?”

“Yeah.  I think I did.”  She smirked and nodded her head, then leaned over and began to tell Thomas her plan.

——————

        The next morning Thomas was in the kitchen getting his breakfast.  He didn’t hear his sister sneak up behind him, because he had his earbuds in listening to his music.  He felt little nudges on his sides and turned to see Tamara rubbing her front feet together.  She started to cry.  Thomas felt a little bad but he took one earbud out and asked, “What’s the matter, Tamara?”

She cried, “What is that under your shell?  I tried to tickle you, but my feet feel like I got stabbed by something!  It hurts!  What do you have under there?”

Thomas grinned and said, “You mean ‘who’ is under there?”

Tamara’s eye’s widened.  “What?”

Then Thomas bent over to one side and then the other.  Sitting underneath the sides of his shell were his baby twin porcupine friends, Patty and Paulie.  They pulled in their heads to hide when they saw Tamara’s angry and confused face.

She said to them, “Your quills are sharp!”

In unison they said, “Sorry!”

“How come they aren’t hurting your sides, Thomas?”

“I stuck some padding to my sides before I let them sit there.”

Patty snickered and said, “Thomas gave us some yummy pineapple and said he would give us more if we hid under his shell.  He didn’t tell us why, and we didn’t ask.  We just wanted the pineapple!”

Tamara laughed, “Well, it did hurt, but…”  Then peering at Thomas with a look of shame she said, “I deserved it.  I guess I wasn’t listening all the times you told me to stop tickling you.  I’m sorry, Thomas.  I will never do it again.  I promise.”

The baby porcupines smiled as Thomas bent down so they could crawl out of his shell.  He handed them a big pineapple and opened the kitchen door for them.  The pineapple was so large that they had to carry it together.  They waddled away yelling, “Thank you, Thomas!”

He laughed and hollered back, “You’re welcome!”  Then he asked Tamara if she wanted to go play a game.  She happily said yes.

Later that day his friend Garrett came over. He had called Thomas the night before to apologize again so Thomas forgave him.  Garrett hadn’t promised not to tickle Thomas anymore, though, but Thomas wasn’t worried.

After Garrett arrived, Thomas reached up to get his baseball mitt off the shelf and expected Garrett to try and tickle him.  He waited a moment, but nothing happened.  He turned around and said, “Hey, why didn’t you try to tickle the most ticklish turtle in town, Garrett?”

Garrett shook his head and exclaimed, “Are you kidding?  Tamara told me about the little prickly friends you have hiding under there.”

Thomas laughed and showed his sides to Garrett.  He said, “Nope!  No one’s under there now.  But I hope you guys learned your lesson.  I hate being tickled by surprise!”

Garrett held up both his front feet and backed up a little saying, “Buddy, you got it!  I promise I will never tickle you again.  I’m really sorry, too.”

“Thanks, Garrett.  I’m sorry I said you deserved to get hurt.  I didn’t really mean that.  Let’s go play some baseball now, okay?”

“Okay!”

When they walked by the pond on their way to the park, Maya was sitting on a rock sunning herself.  She and Thomas winked at each other as he and Garrett walked by.

Then Thomas became known as the trickiest turtle in town.”

The End

© Patsy H. Parker

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

Jane Yolen, Picture Book Author

Hello Friends,

I have not posted in a while because I honestly have not had the energy!  My daughter left to go visit a friend in Missouri for Spring Break!  I hope she has a wonderful time.

In the meantime, I am doing a lot of reading.  I began reading “Animal Farm” which is pretty great. Both of my kids read it for school, and my husband read it years ago.  I think it is amazing and insightful already, and I am only 28 pages in!

I also began painting my drawings for my picture book, Larry the Lonely Leatherback Sea Turtle.  I am going to try to take pictures of them and put the text with them, then upload it on WordPress and try to make a “book” that can be looked through like it would appear if it was printed on paper.

In the meantime, here are some encouraging words from Jane Yolen.  I have yet to check out any of her books from the library, though, because I just learned about her the other day.  Enjoy!

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

http://www.juliehedlund.com/jane-yolens-20-rules-of-writing

www.inspyromance.com/

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