It’s all Elizabeth I’s fault !

So what am I blaming poor Elizabeth for?  It’s because of a book that I read when I was 8 years old (remember: I’m 51 now) that I became fascinated with Elizabeth I, and then with her country, and then with her time period, etc., etc., etc.  I’m blaming her for my love of history: of English history, of European history, of Scottish history, of 16th century history, of 15th century history.  Starting to see a pattern here? Image

Once I read about one person in history, I get sucked up in the period in which that person lived. Then I get sucked up into the history of the countries surrounding the country of the person in whom I have gotten interested; and I then get fascinated with the ancestors and descendants (if any) of the person I am reading about.

My parents encouraged and indulged this love of history that I had, and still have  (they both loved history).  When it was a part of American history that I was interested in, they tried to get me to the historical sites which I was reading about. They would buy me books (fiction and non-fiction) about historical topics I was reading about and interested in (on my own; rarely did history class cover what I was studying).  Occasionally, though, I’d get more than a suspicion that Mom thought I took my love of history TOO far — that she thought that I lived too much in the past, so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the present…. (and she thought that to the end of her life).  She had a point, especially when I was younger, but she was not completely correct.

One of the reasons I loved history so much was because I learned about people who overcame phenomenal challenges,  and that encouraged me to believe that my disabilities were merely challenges that did NOT have to keep me from accomplishing good things in my life.  After all, unlike poor Princess Elizabeth, I didn’t have a half sister who had thrown me in the Tower of London and who seemed determined to find an excuse to execute me.  Unlike Queen Elizabeth, I didn’t have a Pope declaring that anyone who killed me was doing God a favor… so I should be able to deal with the (far less severe?) problems that I did have…

I still adore history; and I still get incredibly excited about learning about lives of people who lived long ago.  Two or three years ago, I decided it was finally time to check out what Facebook was about. It was neat to connect with people I hadn’t talked to for ages, and to correspond with relatives I and friends that I hadn’t seen in years. All of this was great (and still is!), but I discovered another use for Facebook:  finding groups of people who had and have the same fascination with history that I did and do.  Talking with people who know as much about my favorite periods as I do, or know even more, and encouraging the love of history in young folks who are just beginning to discover the fascination of history that I’ve been blessed with knowing for all of these years, is an incredible joy to me.

I adore the chance that I am getting to learn about the newest scholars in the fields of history that I’ve known and have loved for so long. I am also enjoying the chance to learn about areas that I have always wanted to know about, but didn’t seem to have access to before.  I love learning the histories of countries that I hadn’t explored before, or had even known about before. I love learning about periods of history that I hadn’t explored in the past.

I also love the opportunity of making friends with people who don’t think I’m nuts for being fascinated with the intricate relationships of those who lived 500+ years ago. It’s neat to talk to people who may be half way across the globe (or almost in my back yard – so to speak) who have this same passionate love for history. I love being able to discuss  historical figures who are almost as real to me as the people I meet on the street with people who have that same interest and fascination.  It fires my imagination, and keeps my intellect sharp.

So for those who have gotten to know me from the various history sites that I am on,  please know how much I appreciate the opportunity to interact with, and learn from, you!  I admit that there are times when I seem to almost trumpet if I find that I am correct in what I had written; I’m not trying to be a braggart (honest!) – I am truly excited to learn that my studies have paid off, and I am genuinely surprised and delighted to learn that I may actually know what I am talking about!  I truly don’t mind being informed that I am wrong either, because I learn that way.  I can’t learn new things if I’m stuck on my own opinion.  I have the friends I have met on these history sites (among others) to thank for giving me the courage and encouragement to start up this blog.

Right now, I’m still working on introductory pieces. I like to let people know where I am coming from. As I get more comfortable, I’ll move into the deeper and more intricate studies.

Oh, by the way: my favorite period of history is still the sixteenth century, and England is still my favorite country to study; for that I may THANK (as well as “blame”) Her Royal Majesty Elizabeth I!

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Am I of any use to God?

Am I of any use to God?  Before I get people nervous, the answer is yes.  It did take a while to convince myself of that, though. When my mother died, a huge part of me begged God to let me join her… I prayed for Him to let me join Mom and Dad and join those who have gone before to be in God’s presence eternally. He said “no”, that He, the Lord, could still use me. I didn’t see how, but I had promised God when I was 12 that I would never, ever, attempt suicide. I had promised God then (and since) that I would call friends or a hotline if I was too close to wanting to; I continue to keep that promise. Right now I don’t feel one bit suicidal, but I sure did for the first two years after Mom died (3 Sept. 2011)…. not all the time, maybe, but a good quarter of that time, at the very least. I had lost Mom, I had no job, I had no idea if I had followed God’s will by moving up to North Carolina (I couldn’t handle Florida anymore – heat, and other reasons).  One of my brothers offered to let me move in with him, and the other helped with financial needs (and called regularly to check on me), so I had other options (and I am deeply grateful to both of them!) — but I needed to prove to myself that I could live on my own, and that I could make my own decisions on where I would live.

I had wanted to move to North Carolina for years, but the first job offer down south that was reasonable was in St. Augustine, Florida. I adored St. Augustine, and made friends there that are incredibly special to me, but I hated Florida with a passion… I stayed down there, though, because Mom loved it there so much. Unlike me, who needs coolness and cold to be comfortable (my Hypothyroidism acts as an auto-immune disease, and can slip into Lupus under certain circumstances), my mom needed warmth and an abundance of sun.

So I stayed in Florida, and I’m glad I did, because it gave me more time to build up those friendships that I had formed there and (far more importantly) it gave me time to spend time with Mom. Mom and I had always known we loved each other before that; that love grew more comfortable for us each during that time.

Then, not quite 10 years after I moved down to St. Augustine, Mom got diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I took it upon myself to be the one who would tell her; I didn’t have to, but I knew Mom would rather hear it from me than from the doctor. So one January evening in 2011, I found myself giving Mom her death sentence. She showed incredible courage, then and all the time to the end.  She chose not to have any cancer treatments, but had hospice come in (at my own request, sooner rather than later!). I was warned that most people who got pancreatic cancer, and didn’t go for aggressive treatment, frequently died before three months was over. My Mom lived almost 8 months, and much of it was faith and a strong character that kept her holding on. I was the official caregiver, but my brothers backed me 110%. Mom was in her own bed until just a few  hours before her death.  She got transferred to the hospice at the local hospital around 10 am on a Friday, and died before 4 am on Saturday morning. I stayed in the room with her the whole time. I was asleep when she passed away, and I suspect that’s the way she wanted it. I had been brushing her face, singing to her, reciting her favorite scripture verses, and stroking her with all the love I held in my heart just an hour before she actually died; I had also been reminding her of how much her three children loved her, how all three of us knew that she loved us equally, of what a good mother we knew she was, and how much all three of us would be missing her. It was a such a privilege to be able to do this for Mom.

Because of my Tourettes (unknown when I was a kid) and severe Hypothyroidism (which WAS known), my mother was very protective of me as I was growing up. I was almost a full-time job myself, and I always felt bad and worried that my brothers might be getting the “short end of the stick” because of all the care I was getting: this included regular visits to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia from the time I was three until I was 21. On my very last visit, the doctor explained how lucky (I call it blessed) I had been: if my thyroid had stopped working any sooner than it had, I would suffering with cretinism…. and not just a difficult metabolism, lack of energy, lack of ability to concentrate (which turns out to be my ADHD, which is part of my Tourettes, but also part of the Hypothyroidism – double-whammy), inability to fight off disease, and other obnoxious symptoms. There were times over the years when I thought Mom went WAY overboard on the protection business, but I loved her for loving me that much. We had struggled over the years over how much independence was going to be granted, and how much I’d have to grab for myself…. which could be truly frustrating for both of us (and those around us!!). I knew, though, that my mother loved me, no matter how much my disabilities worried her. She was worried that I wouldn’t be able to live on my own (it didn’t help that some school psychologist had claimed that I would never be able to live on my own or graduated from high school – let alone college); Dad assured her that I would be able to (though I’m sure I gave Dad reason to worry too!), but she had doubts down to the last week of her life. I know that, because she fretted about it, even when she was starting to get hallucinations – and I was the one cooking for her, and driving her (my mother was an excellent driver until the last month of her death – literally).  Three days before she died, she was making sure that I knew how to keep track of checks in the checkbook PROPERLY. I laugh as I think about it, but she did have a point. I decided that this is why God had allowed me to have the conditions I had – so that I could help take care of my mother when she most needed it, and so that I could be understanding of at least a little bit of what she was dealing with. I also started to believe that God could use me despite everything I *couldn’t* do; because it was counterbalanced by the skills and gifts that He HAD given me to care for others.

When Mom died, though, that sense of assurance temporarily disappeared.  I could get jobs, but only part-time ones – and I couldn’t keep those jobs…. Between the Tourette’s and the Hypothyroidism, I just couldn’t handle my job responsibilities… and even if I thought I could, I always had some manager decide that I couldn’t do it.  It was hard to remember that I had once been a full-time librarian, and that I had even earned my second Masters while working my full-time librarian position.  I almost gave up and prepared to move out of my beloved North Carolina, but prayed to God to let me know if I’d be allowed to stay in NC – letting Him know that I wanted HIS will. Two days later (literally!), I was asked to become a live-in home care-giver and companion for my landlady’s parents.  That was six months ago, and I have never felt more needed or appreciated in a “job” position.  For the first time, I don’t have to hide my disabilities from my employers; they were told about those disabilities before they chose to hire me. Granted, I don’t make much money at this time, but the benefits (and I don’t just mean financial) more than make up for it. One of the things I have is time to explore how God wants to continue to use me…. in whichever way He shall choose.

About

Donna Rose is a serious student of history, having started to read history when she was old enough to learn to read (and pick her own books). She also loves travel, animals, politics (preferably the non-confrontational kind), and taking walks in historical parks. She cheerfully thanks her late parents for her love of reading, history, and travel.

At this time she has no pets, but only because she is a live-in companion/caregiver for a couple who do not wish to have pets. If and when she gets a place of her own again, getting a cat is going to be one of her first priorities!

She can be reached at rose52DRS@gmail.com.

Donna Rose lives in Winston-Salem, NC, and adores the region. She was raised in Bucks County, PA (just a little north of Philadelphia), and still loves that region.  She has also lived in central New Jersey, and in north Florida. She lived in St. Augustine, Florida, and loved the town – but hated the heat, flatness, and palm trees in Florida. She’d be happy to visit St. Augustine, but would never live in Florida again.  The northern Piedmont region of North Carolina is proving to be a perfect match for her!

A Newcomer to Blogging

Warning: World, here I come….

Remember the old warnings in the 60s and 70s: “this is a test – this is only a test, if this had been an actually emergency…. ” ? That’s what I feel like right now.  This may prove to be a very short blog entry, since I’m not even sure what I want to say…

Yes I do. I want to say “thank you” to any one who takes the time to indulge me by reading this first blog entry. I’m still finding my way around the world of blogging, but I’m making steps. I’m making THIS step. I have always had an unfortunate tendency of thinking up “great ideas”, and then never following through. Well, THIS time I am following through.

You will discover that I have many likes (and dislikes) and interests.  I can be opinionated, but I’ve been raised to be polite about expressing those opinions…. and I’ve been raised to be courteous to those who express different opinions.  I was made fun of for most of my childhood, so I go out of the way to NOT make fun of others. I do, however, have a facetious and sarcastic sense of humor, which can occasionally get me into trouble with people who fail to realize that I am poking fun at ME (or at society) and not at them.  I apologize ahead of time for those times when I will inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings.  It is never intentional.

Who am I? I an a middle age woman (I almost wrote a “young” woman) of 51. I adore books and I adore exploring old cemeteries; I love oceans and waterfalls, beaches and hills. I love animals – cats, dogs, rabbits, cats, horses, hamsters, cats (you get the idea!). I love snow and colder temperatures (yes, you read that right).  I adore history (especially European in the 16th century) and castles, and historic sites of all kinds.  I love music; I can sing (not as well as when I was younger, of course) and I can play the piano – I would LOVE to learn to play the guitar or flute or both. I love learning languages; English is my mother tongue, German is my second language, and I know bits and pieces of about 8 more (French is about to become the third).

Most of all I am a Christian. My faith in Jesus the Lord has gotten me through life, and my faith in Jesus the Lord informs my actions and my thoughts. You need to know that about me to know who I truly am. I don’t hide it. I may not push it on people (I’m not the street corner preacher kind… though I guess I could be if it ever came to that), but I will never deny it either.  My faith in Jesus has literally saved my live at times, and it has enabled me to reach out to people in need when I wouldn’t normally have the courage (most people who meet me now have NO idea how paralyzingly shy I used to be).

So like me for who I am (or don’t), but don’t say I didn’t warn you what motivates me:-). Oh, yes, I almost forgot to mention that I have some disabilities.  I have Tourettes Syndrome (mild form, or so I’m told), luckily this does NOT include cophalia (constantly swearing) – I only swear when something drops on my foot, or when I’m driving (a pretty normal response, I’m told). I also have severe hypothyroidism – messes up my metabolism, also leaves me being one of the VERY few people I know of who prefers being cold to being hot: I get through summer by reminding myself that winter is coming! I have ADHD and OCD – made life interesting when I worked as a Catalog Librarian… and when I was getting my two masters. This should also make it interesting for me when I get around to starting my PH.D. in history (promised myself I’d start on it when I turned 55).

I guess this blog entry didn’t turn out to be so short after all!

About the title of my blog (Reflections from a Rose Garden): Rose is my middle name, and a family name coming from one of my great-grandmothers. If I had ever been married and had children, at least one of my daughters would have been given the middle name of Rose (probably the first one).

Thank you if you have stuck through to the end of this “short” blog entry. I hope we can enjoy each others thoughts and dreams and anxieties and hopes!

Take care!

Donna Rose