30 Days of Thankfulness

November has signified 30-days of thankfulness, for me (and others) for many years. It’s a kick start, really. You see there is actually a “30 Days of Thankfulness” challenge that I have participated in for years. Each year it often occurs in the month of November.

Here is my challenge to you:

First you will need some paper and a writing utensil. I suggest that you get a small notebook or journal to write these things down in. Get one you like, in the color(s) you like, because it will encourage you to keep on track with the challenge as well as complete the full 30-days.

Or if you are crafty this is a good time to make this a fun journal making project in preparation for this challenge. It only will take 8-pages of copy/printer paper or lined paper folded in half. You can staple them or punch holes in them and tie a string or ribbon in the holes.

Then pick a time of your day in which you can devote a few minutes of your time to meet the challenge.

If you are an “early morning” person search your previous day’s events and find something you are thankful for, something you appreciate. Now starting with your journal with “Day 1” and then write what you are thankful for in your journal for that day.

But wait, I bet some of you are wondering what type of things to write down.

Well, let’s think… what are some of the things you can be thankful for?

For me, there are days I am thankful for the air I breathe. Other days I am thankful for the kindness shown to me. Yet still, there are days I am thankful for the memories of my mother, son, brothers and some treasured pets who are dearly departed. Heck, over the years, I am sure there are days I have been thankful for being able to get out of bed or walk (but that is because I broke a leg, severely – amputated my left foot and ankle – a few years back). I have even been thankful for getting 6 hours of sleep, consecutive.

Your notes/writings do not need to be long. Actually it is often suggested to have the “penning’s” be about 40 words. As you see above, some of the things I have previously been thankful for have been 7 to 10 words long. Hence, it’s not a challenge designed to add stress to your life. It is actually designed to remind you of all of the things, big and small, that you can and do appreciate.

Here’s to hoping this helps you start a new tradition in your family’s and your life – the acknowledgement of thankfulness.

Write on!

Building a Cornerstone of Our Community

If you could help your neighbors for less than the price of Netflix Streaming service charge or for less than two Grande’s at the local specialty coffee house and/or less than three gallons of gas – wouldn’t you?

“I know it’s not a lot,” but many hands make short work, “and that is all it’s going to take if 600 people decide to donate $10 per month for one year for us to not only continue what we’ve been doing, but expand and meet the needs here in Kern County,” Counselor and President of Cornerstone Center for Counseling and Discipleship Pastor Joshua Pierce said encouragingly.

Born and raised in Tehachapi, Pierce decided to come home, after earning his master’s in divinity, to pastor to others, by, in part, “opening an addiction center that will help those with drug addiction here in the Tehachapi Valley,” Pierce said. “And I figured opening a nonprofit Christian counseling ministry, here in my home town, was my best way to honor my calling and my community.”

JoshConerstone

Over the last year the Cornerstone Center for Counseling and Discipleship has been providing low cost counseling and personal development seminars to the Tehachahpi Community and others in Kern County. But it is time to move forward.

The county is far from immune to the every-growing use, abuse and overdoses associate with opioids – drugs that have addictive properties as well as physiological effects on the people ingesting them.

The latest statistics show that “23.9 deaths per 100,000 people” have occurred in this county, with deaths due to drug related causes being on the rise each year, according to the Conduent Healthy Communities Institute. Kern County has well over 874,000 people, according to the World Atlas which means opioids account for 209 plus deaths and this number dose not including those still actively addicted.

“Our goal is to offer hope and healing to our community,” Pierce said admitting it is time to build on to his dream and vision of giving to his community.

“The next step in Cornerstone’s path is to start an addiction center [a brick and mortar center] that will benefit those with drug addictions, here in the Tehachapi Valley,” Pierce stated.

Pierce, and the others at Cornerstone, understand that receiving help for an addiction can be costly and finding affordable quality care is often out of the reach for many who need it the most – those with addictions.

“But, with the help of our generous community members we can make this help available to those who need it the most,” Pierce said. “And you can help for less than the price of a monthly Streaming Netflix rental.”

Cornerstone is looking to find 600 people who are willing to donate $10 per month for one year. As of this post they have reached 12.5 percent of their goal.

“Donations can be made once or you can spread out of your donation over the months as we have been able to set up an auto pay donation at www.cornerstoneccd.com  Pierce said. “Or you can send your donations by way of check to Cornerstone Center 1121 W Valley Blvd #225, Tehachapi, Calif. 93561.”

The goal is to open the offices of Cornerstone in October of 2019, but until full funding is achieved the counseling will continue on its ever-growing pace.

For those wishing more info visit the website, email Pastor Pierce at joshua@CornerstoneCCD.org or call the office at 661-750-0439.

When Love Takes You From Trial to Trail

When tempers flare and restraining orders become necessary … sometimes the next phone call is life shattering. That is exactly what happened in Dee Fournier’s family July 17, 2002 when an officer knocked on the door.

“The officer knocked on our dad’s door,” Fournier, “and then dad made the call to mom.”

That was followed by the parents splitting up the notification to their four other children that their oldest “sister had been murdered by her estranged husband.”

“I remember waking to my husband yelling for me,” Fournier said. “He woke me from a blissful sleep. And after I got to the phone my mother told me – ‘He shot her. He killed her, right in front of the kids,’ my mother said between sobs.”

Dee and Juli

Left to right – Dee Fournier and her sister, Juli.

Juli had been married to her husband, and the father of her two children, for “15 to 18 years”, Fournier recalls. “While she said she was unhappy and they argued, she never told us of any physical abuse,” Fournier said shaking her head.

But with the “if I can’t have her no one will,” attitude Juli’s husband was overheard expounding (by one of the couple’s mutual friends), one of the (possibly) first physical encounters looks to have been the deadliest.

“I just wish we’d known,” Fournier admits as the weight of guilt weighs heavy on those left behind. “It’s the ‘what ifs?‘should ofs’, ‘could ofs’ and the ‘only ifs’ that linger,” even 17 years later, Fournier admits with grief laden eyes.

These are some of the reasons Fournier will be putting one foot in front of the other this year as she steps out on the American Discovery Trail.

 

Fournier will be walking/hiking from California “which is, in part, where I’ve been hiding from my grief” to Maine. You see, Fournier is heading back home to where her sister Juli and the other 5 siblings were raised, as well as where a good number of the family still make their homes. But this journey is not really starting in California.

“I sat, with the rest of my family, (in Florida) trial side through the first trial, in which my brother-in-law was convicted of first-degree murder.”

He exercised his ‘right’ to an appeal. But that did not change the outcome.

“My brother-in-law was found guilty, both times. Guilty of premeditated murder…” Fournier said, swallowing hard. “Well, I thought the healing would begin there,” Fournier said shaking her head. “But it didn’t. The trials were just beginning.”

Now, 17 years later, Fournier’s focus has changed. She hopes to stop running from the guilt, running from the sadness, running from the longing to be around her sister and “stop the wake of destructiveness for others and their families before domestic violence permanently and irreversibly scars them,” Fournier admits.

This is where the trail begins to lead to an end. Fournier is ready to set off on the trail of awareness and healing, but not just for her family.

“It’s ironic, it seems I have been a bit lost since my sister’s murder,” Fournier said, “and recently, as I was looking for what my purpose in life is … a friend encouraged me to follow my passion.” A light chuckle escaped Fournier’s throat. “I didn’t even recognize I had anything I was passionate about when my friend pointed out I had two things – my love for hiking and photography.”

Add the desire to not let her sister’s death be in vein and Fournier’s multi-faceted goals came into view.

“As I am out on the west coast, I decided to make the cross-country hike and head home. But not before I paid homage to my sister, her plight and all who endure any domestic violence,” Fournier said, braving a smile.

But it’s not just a 6,800 plus mile hike. Fournier will be stopping along the trail, in towns where she can talk with ladies who are experiencing domestic violence.

Stop-Domestic-Violence-Logo-525

As Fournier hikes from coast to coast she will be stopping to bring light to the serious nature of domestic violence while encouraging many to 1) not to accept such behaviors, 2) believe in themselves and their ability to stand up for themselves and their children, 3) get free and 4) “don’t let them sweet-talk you back.”

 

The trail will take Fournier through California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Delaware, but then she will continue on her path up to Main where she will complete this 9-month to a yearlong hike.

american discovery trail

While Fournier’s first footfall on the trail will be on her sister’s birthday, April 24, she shares: “I would love to make it in 9 months, after all, I was delivered after that length of time,” Fournier said with a light chuckle as her heart began to ease as she realized she was heading home. All awhile knowing it may take longer depending on the number of stops.

Fournier will not be working, of course, during this 9-month plus long trek that will be bringing awareness to the multitude of dangers associated with domestic violence. There has been a GoFundMe page set up for those who would like to support her efforts to highlight, among other facts, that approximately every minute about 20 people become victims of domestic violence as pointed out by the U.S. Department of Justice report on just the non-fatal domestic violence acts.

There have already been a couple of folks step up in support of Fournier’s gallant endeavor. The Verizon Wireless company has become a sponsor as well as other individuals who are against domestic violence.

“I will be chronicling my trip along the American Discovery Trail with my camera and a diary.”

 

Although Fournier is aware some men are victims of domestic violence, she “will be speaking to as many women as I can,” across the U.S. near the trail “as I want to do something specifically associated with the same reason for my sister’s death.”

DeeFouriner

Dee Fournier, April 2019 conditioning for the trek of a lifetime.

Fournier will be lacing up her hiking boots, darning her backpack and hitting the trail on April 24th of 2019 at the west coast head of the trail in Point Reyes, Calif.

You can follow her on Twitter #DeeGoesFromTrialToTrail or Instagram at Deestahdiva, at her website http://deegoesfromtrialtotrail.com/ and, if you desire to, you can catch up with what Fournier is doing by going to her YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qea-QT2Ss6g. Donations can be made by going to http://www.GoFundMe.com where you will be able to look up DeeGoesFromTrialToTrail.

 
Dee Fournier is a strong lady who I have had the pleasure of becoming friends with over the last few years. As a former victim of domestic violence myself, I applaud Dee’s decision to take back her life all awhile speaking out to help others not end up like her sister. I know Miss Juli looks down from heaven and smiles as her baby sister begins to take back her life and inspire others to do the same. May your foot-falls be on solid ground and your voice be heard across this nation. — Kathleen Kline

Encouragement

Seize the moment

Swig from the hop

Enjoy the dawn

Don’t worry about being popular

Think clear thoughts

Don’t be sour, even if you have good reason

Gain strengths from your experiences

Take part in life

Don’t fake it

Overcome adversity.

 

Note: Inspired by the Creative Copy Challenge #48

Photo by Brian Lauitzen
BrianLauritzen.com

You are Enough – Write On

I am participating in the Writing Contest:
You Are Enough, hosted by PositiveWriter.com.
So here goes:

Even before I found out my son had been murdered, I began writing about what I was experiencing as I waited for word of what had happened. Writing to ease pain seemed a natural choice. I was taking notes:
* 9/8
* Amanda (my daughter-in-law to be) brutally raped
* Prague, Oklahoma
* Ethan, nowhere to be found
And, seven and a half years later, the writing hasn’t stopped.

The days that followed the loss of my son were fraught with much confusion. I knew that writing and taking notes would be the only way I would keep things straight as the facts made me dizzy. So, off to the local superstore I went. I picked up a notebook for under $2 and began putting all of my notes in one portable spot.

Shortly after the funeral, I found myself shutting down, because my limited times of grieving out loud were too much for others. I was being forced to stifle my own feelings. The care of my two younger daughters, and other family members, became more important than taking care of myself. Someone had to be the head of the family, and it seem my husband was not going to do it. Hence, it was up to me.

That being said, I knew I needed an outlet, a non-judgmental set of “ears”. This is where writing to ease pain came in; writing more than just the poem for my son’s funeral card and the notes from conversations with the District Attorney.

It was time to express my feelings through writing, so I went to one of my usual online haunts — http://CreativeCopyChallenge.WordPress.com (CCC). You see, I had been meeting the weekly writing challenges for years and going back to them was … natural, refreshing, enlightening, and a source of comfort.

The week I re-visited the website, I took the ten random words posted on the CCC and wrote. After all, that is the most basic challenge. I told myself: “You can do it Kathleen, it is just “…creating a cohesive … short story….” No problem, right? I am not going to lie: it was not the easiest thing to do, especially when I had been stuffing many of my feelings deep down inside. There was a bit of trepidation as I put my toe back in the writing waters. But this is why I had come. My fingers hit the keys. The delete key was used a time or two. But low and behold, this was where my first “Mind-full Conversation” was born.

Through my opportunity to write to the CCC and in my journal, I began to write things that others close at hand did not want to hear or did not know how to react to. Writing allowed me to “speak” the words “with” my son that I could not say to others. I was able to chat with my son as if the conversations were still possible. Writing let me explore, in an honest manner, the multitude of feelings I was experiencing.

Writing enabled me to journal what was going on with the case. This turned out to be cathartic, cleansing and a clever way to share information. It also helped deal with frustrations while helping make some sense of all of the feelings I was experiencing.
I never push myself to write. I write no more and no less than I am feeling like writing at any time. I don’t always write to the CCC—most often, it’s just in my notebook/journal. As it turns out, I have am writing my memoir in small chunks. Writing in chunks that I could handle, handle looking inward at myself and looking at things that have happened in my life.

Even though writing a memoir was not my initial goal, along my bumpy path, I learned that my willingness to write about “it” was helpful to others. This started me on my research on memoirs. I found a group on LinkedIn.com chatting about memoirs and that is where I “met” Denis Ledoux. I was introduced to The (helpful) Memoir Network. It is where I have been encouraged to continue to write and work toward something I am willing to have others read.

The death of a loved one, often, does not gain closure quickly. Murders and suicides usually take longer. I am still in the writing and editing phase of my journal(s), some of my memoir(s) are about the loss of my son, but not all of them. You see, it’s not my first memoir creation. Other essays I have written are also memoirs, too.

I have used writing to process many things that have accrued in my life. I have written about surviving a multitude of experiences with my children at my side. I am blessed to have gotten comfortable writing in my journals. It was, and still is, natural for me to continue on with the process.

There is a Key

Writing down what goes on in life, writing your journals and/or a memoir— whether these are only for you, for your family, or for strangers, your goal is to help someone find a shining light on the path through this thing called life – writing is the key. Writing is the key to self-expression. Writing is the key to keeping a log of things that have gone on in one’s life. It can be difficult at times as well as cleansing. So, pick up a pen; hit the keys; write. Because there is a personally cleansing memoir, or two, in all of us. It does not need to be perfect either, because there are editors out there to help clean it all up.

Thank you to:
http://thememoirnetwork.com
and
http://positivewriter.com

Hints of Holiday Spirit

Note: This Flash Fiction was inspired by Creative Copy Challenge #511 and the bold typed words were part of the challenge.

“Mum, why are you just sitting, motionless, computer-side?” she looked up from the keyboard she had not touched in hours, past the ceiling that held the roof and the snow, toward the voice she knew she was the only one to hear it. “If you sit there much longer Hypothermia will set in.”

“I know son. You are right,” she said softly.

“Why don’t you go stand or sit by the fire while this nor’easter blows through?”

She rose, albeit hesitantly, at his suggestion. As she approached the fireplace the warmth from the flames fleeced the chill that had been settling into her bones. She rubbed her hands together as she held her hands above the flame.

The woolens that covered her legs began to hold the heat.

“Remember how we used to fight to get the best spot, in front of the fire?”

The corners of her mouth began to rise. “Yes, you three standing there in your longjohns, sniffles egged on by the mention of coco and stories….”

“And one of us trying to get you to say… move over and give – whoever sniffled – a closer spot next to the fire!” the glee in her son’s voice was undeniable. “Wasn’t there something about sugarplum fairies and who knows what else?” He did not wait for an answer, “Those were great times Mum.”

“I am glad you think so Lovie. They were apt entertainment on the ranch and for childhood.”

“They helped with those dreary long Colorado days Mum.”

“Thanks son, for saying that … for stopping by today. Your visits help keep the ice crystals from adhereing to my heart, well, at least for long periods of time.”

“Awe mum, you’re not cold hearted, dad lied about that for years, you are just broken hearted.”

“You are right Lovie. But I did smile, deep down inside, at the neighbor’s lights display this year; it has music and all.”

“I saw that Mum. I miss the house aglow in lights too.”

 

 

A Reminder of the Wake

Four years ago, today, I was sitting at a restaurant with my Spouse-type fella and my youngest beauty. We were doing what family’s do, enjoying a meal and conversation. But it is a meal I will never forget.

I sat, chopsticks in hand, Pad Thai on my plate and my youngest, then 17 years old, says, “[Miss K] says when mom gets old… if she gets dementia … she’s gonna put mom in a home, [a rest home].”

When I asked Miss E “Why?” she replied, “she said, ‘because I know [mom] will ask where’s Ethan and I won’t be able to handle that,'” Miss E added, “and then I told Miss K, yah it’s a home for her.”

The tears that fell from my downcast eyes blurred my vision. The noodles lost their individuality. The table became quiet as it was noticed I had become still and silent. Unable to speak really. The Spouse-type fella gently touched my left arm. Tears still descended to plate.

It was a reality that broke my heart, yet again. My surviving children have had their hearts broken, broken so that they anticipate it never being repaired or put back together nor a strong enough band-aid being applied that many years down the road the mere mention of their brother’s death will re-injury this family. Re-injury us beyond repair.

Lord, please spare my children this agony and let me keep my faculties about me ’til the end.
— signed a loving teary eyed mom.

Moment By Moment

Over the last few years – since the sentencing really — I have learned to give family members their space, even when I feel the need to talk to them, even when I really want to know that they are okay. I have learned my needs do not outweigh theirs. Hence when I went to send out “Merry Christmas” notes this week I deleted the one to a family member who has needed to put distance between us. And to my surprise I got a note from that family member, all on her own, a great Christmas present.

This family member was in need of chatting, processing the negative affect that infamous day is still having on many of our lives. I prayed I would have the right words. Prayed hard.

So I wrote: I know the positive stuff/outlook/attitude is a challenge at times. I stumble each week and tears often drip from my eyes many days of the week, often many times of the day. But the duration of the love drops that fall from my eyes is shorter, most days. But you are right “…nothing has been the same or even normal for 6 years.” I know the selfish people took joy from our lives… evident by this empty house I sit in, evident by the fact that my daughters and I have not spoken in year and 7 months.”

I thought to myself, nothing will ever be the same. It can’t be. Our E-man is gone.

I know we, this entire family, have a big whole in our hearts, souls and lives. Our family is now so disjointed, spread to all of the corners of the US and we are no longer tight. Add to this that many of my loved ones are not dealing with the death, let alone dealing well with the loss of such a positive part of all of our lives. But as I allow the love to stream down my face, as I wipe the love that drips from my eyes… I have chosen to do my best to not let those selfish people take more and more and more and more. They have taken enough from me, from us all.

I fake it ‘till I make it.
I am still faking it.
But there are now moments, moments that are added side by side now, that help me find the joys in the moments I am in. Temporary/limited … yes, but they are moments our boy encourages.

It was then she asked me if I was able to take a call. So I gave her my phone number (I think she was glad it had not changed) and two hours 29 minutes later we hung up. Tears were shared. Heck, the moment I heard her voice the tears began. She sounded good. We caught up. We re-ran through many things and clarity was gained for her. And some for me, too. Apologies were made. Apologies were accepted. Encouragement of more healing was given.

This life my son’s family and friends are now living is not a life we had thought we would be living. But it is a life that we must be lived. It is a life we must find a way to live. Find a way to put one foot in front of the other. Find a why to honor our loved one while not letting the selfish bastards continue to victimize any of us. I wish this progression in all who love my son, Ethan and all who have been touched by his story.

6 Years and Counting

Mind-full Conversation …

                                                    a continuing set of chats

It is not cruel and unusual punishment to keep him locked away in that institution nor his sister-wife. I hate it when folks forget how inhumane the Orange Blob’s treatment of you was (and of others).

I love it how the cops call here the “Swife”.

It is comical, isn’t it Lovie.

Yep.

So, momma….

Yes, Lovie.

After all those interviews  she looked up to the sky … Did they get all the information they needed … to help the families of some of his first victims?

No Lovie. It seems there is still some more interest in getting more out of him.

So they think what he has told them has some merit?

It seems so.

Are there industry standards for how much they can get with this plea bargain?
No, each plea bargain is written specific to the criminal.

Will they keep you informed of progress?

Yes, Lovie. After all, they would not have made the leaps and bounds in these cases if your murder had not provided them with the DNA. Plus, the facts are so similar they seem to mergeinto one big case. They keep me up to date, I insist on it. Heck, I email them on your birth date, your death date and now the death date of the two others.

Sept. 8th, marks 6 years since my son, Ethan JD Kline Walton was robbed of his life and other horrendous acts were played out on other family members of mine. My “Mind-full Conversation” are things I would say to my son, as if her were still here, allowing me to share information with others as well.