No Longer Afraid, Part 3b: The Amazing Things that Happened After the "Years from Hell"

So that I won't bore you with another long story, I'm just going to list as many of the things that I have experienced and learned during the time after "the incident." (not necessarily in chronological order or order of importance... I'm just writing as I remember them.)

Note: If you didn't read Part 3a of this series, go back and find it first.

- Started back learning sign language, something I had tried to learn most of my life and had given up on a couple of years before the incident, after finding out that Travis also had started classes a couple of years before we met. We now go to a deaf church and I regularly "sing" (sign) songs during our church services.

- After deciding to become a "none" (someone who has completely given up on organized religion), God led me to a church where I'm accepted as I am, and where I can practice sign as I am part of a deaf ministry within a hearing church - best of both worlds!

- Learned a LOT of patience through living with my parents and after about 5 years of doing so out of need and obligation, I recognized that I wanted to live with them, even if I had the finances to move out.

- My daughter and I lived near the Smoky Mountains and the second house we looked at here had a few of the hills (small mountains?) out of what would be her window. There was also a porch roof that she could go out on from her room to sit and think.

- Because of leaving Tennessee, my daughter didn't get to spend her senior year at her high school - and her beloved color guard. As a "guard mom," I was also sad about that chapter of her life being over. We knew that any colleges she could go to would have an extremely strenuous color guard program - and due to health reasons, we were sure that wouldn't be possible. She ended up going to a small, private college, with a tiny color guard who worried more about fun than about perfect routines. That was the last year they had a color guard - and it gave her one more year to do it before saying goodbye.

- Since I was a teenager, I've loved photography. In fact, I thought about doing that for a living for a while. But I was scared. I simply wasn't brave enough to take that kind of chance with my financial future. However, when I had to move back in with my parents, they encouraged me to try. It's another miracle and you can read it here: https://www.spotlightonstigma.com/2023/02/my-your-voice-editorial.html 

Because of this happening, I have photographed The World Games, Darci Lynne, pro-IndyCar racing, semi-pro G-league basketball, pro motorcycle racing, semi-pro AFL soccer, semi-pro AAA baseball, Winter Jam, TobyMac, college gymnastics, fancy galas, 5K races, Arangetrams (Indian dance recitals), several local dance schools' recitals, concerts, ventriloquists, comedians... the list goes on and on. I've won awards for my photography and was the featured photographer for a while for a local magazine.

In fact, I wrote the beginning part of this post while waiting for a semi-pro basketball game to start - and I'm going to photograph it. I'm finishing this post during the first quarter of a USFL professional football game, up in the writers' room. I'm planning to photograph it starting at halftime. 

This upcoming weekend my husband and I are shooting Nascar at Talladega, which is a really difficult event to get credentials. The weekend after that will be our 3rd time shooting Indycar at Barber here in Birmingham. Then in May, we'll be shooting MotoAmerica, a high-level motorcycle race weekend and later in the summer, we'll shoot Indycar again at Mid-Ohio, Travis' favorite track.

Memorial Day weekend, we've been asked to shoot KLove Fan Awards Red Carpet before the awards then we'll be in their media room during the show.

This stuff continues to blow me away.

- I started reading at 2 years old. I have no idea how early it was, but writing at least one book has been one of those dreams that was so far-fetched, I could barely dream it. 

Well, the book hasn't happened... yet. But I've had somewhere between 150-200 articles published in various magazines and newspapers. I won a national award - beating out many who had trained and/or gone to school for journalism and had done it for years.

I have interviewed world-class athletes, popular comedians, many Christian performers, authors (including Francine Rivers - one of my absolute favorite authors), big-time movie producers and directors, social media influencers, and many, many "regular people" who were doing amazing things.

- I have worked with two amazing therapists and have progressed so much more than I have ever could have imagined. The second one does EMDR, which is a way to reprocess traumatic memories. I have finally been able to get past some of the horrible memories that I have experienced with her help.

- The endless mystery of my health (mental and physical) has had some small parts solved. I have gotten some new diagnoses that explain a lot of my symptoms. Even though I haven't found any cures, it still helps to know what's wrong.

- I also have realized I'm an addict. I'm thankful that this area has a wonderful 12-Step program for my particular addiction and I have learned much, much more than simply how to stay "sober." 

- I've gotten to help my parents and I've probably literally saved my mom's life more than once, as sometimes my dad isn't doing that well and can't always help her when there's a crisis. 

- Becoming fluent in sign language has been another dream I've had since I was a child - probably 8 or 9 years old. In my 40s, I gave up that dream as I've tried and tried to take classes or learn on my own and because I had no one to practice with, I never got that far.

Not only have a found free classes locally, but I have also found a group of very dear, deaf friends. I have gone to a deaf church for about 3 years now and, even though I'm not close to what I would consider fluent, I'm definitely further along than earlier. 

I feel that with another year of learning and I'll be able to hold a conversation without issue. Another year after that and I'm hoping to become a licensed ASL interpreter.

- Best of all, after a divorce I thought would never happen to me, raising a daughter by myself, and being single for about 20 years, I met and married Travis, an amazing man who, without question, is better than I could have ever imagined.

There are a lot of other things that have happened because of one of the worst times of my life, but I want to get this published. As I sit here, looking out over the Protective Stadium from the top floor of  Protective Stadium, I'm just so blown away there is no good way to describe it. 

From those days I was afraid to go outside or answer the phone because of who I might run into to being able to do all this... I'm just really thankful. 

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