Open Hearted Musings

….sent with Love


Dear Annie, 7/22/14


New post today on the other blog. What do you think of the advice format for addressing vexing issues?? I am toying with the idea of an Annie ebook following my chapter headings.

Originally posted on IMAGINE YOURSELF HAPPY™:

Young-Woman-3-4-pose-Paolo-Neosm_free public domain imageDear Annie,

I am 25 years old and I have only ever had one real boyfriend, 2 years ago.  That relationship lasted 6 months. It was very tender and beautiful. We both knew, I think, that the innocence and intensity of our feelings, both of our first explorations into adult love, couldn’t morph into a permanent relationship, a marriage.  We didn’t like the same things, we didn’t really have anything to talk about, we just liked the amazing feelings we had we had as we explored each other’s bodies and experienced our own.  When I thought I might be pregnant (I was not, thank God), I got really scared and broke it off.  I was embarrassed at the closeness we had shared when I realized I could never actually love him.

The thing is, now as I meet other men, I compare them to Roy, and none of them have…

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Family Suffers Mental Illness Of Child

This is a difficult post and it will takes some time, so please be patient with me.  Some posts flow, work already done, and some posts require doing personal work before being able to share the truest version of the truth.  I still see too much detail to pull out  the lessons but I am working on it.

If you want to share some of your truth meanwhile, either about how a family member’s illness affected you, or how your illness affected your family members, I’d love to read them either in comments or links in the comments to something you wrote.

hugs, gerry




As Alice woke up, before she even knew what day it was, before she even opened her eyes, she knew this would be an unbearable day.  And a sticky-wet-sweltering-hot-day to boot.

Something really, really bad could happen today, “and it will be my fault,” she thought, as she went through the laundry basket looking for her least dirty underwear.  Last night’s loud, vulgar, abusive argument had sent laundry clear off the to-do list.


“Fuck You!”


Finally, knowing he wouldn’t get his way tonight,


With his right arm he swept everything off the kitchen table onto the saltillo tiles as he left the room and slammed out of the door of their apartment.  Shattered plates and glasses flew everywhere, shattering life as she had known it with a loud crash.  Alice couldn’t face it.  Angry and hurt, at a loss what to do, she had just gone to her room, locked the door and turned on the TV.  “Maybe if I’m in here he’ll just come in and go to bed.”

Should I even go to work?”  “My luck, I’ll hit a pedestrian or something.”

Dark foreboding made even breathing difficult as she threw some clothes off the chair and sat down to try to catch her breath.

Breathe, two, three, and breathe, two three.  Hands crossed over her chest. She noticed her hands were shaking. “That’s fine, it matches the shaky stomach.

She heard the traffic outside, taxis toot-tooting their warnings, a siren in the distance, some car blasting its music as it passed by, 2 people arguing downstairs, under the open window.  Way too much noise.  WAY, WAY too much noise.  She slammed the window down.

Quiet, that’s what she needed.  Quiet.  B R E A T H E  Two. Three.

Now she couldn’t sit still.  She had to KNOW.  She unlocked the door, walked to the kitchen.  A brief look at the unmade bed in the small, dark, smelly bedroom down the hall confirmed what she already knew. “He’s gone.”  “God help him!” Then, “Really, God, please help him, I cannot.

Well, good riddance,” she thought defiantly, wondering at the hot tears rolling down her face.  “Who needs a God-damned lying, thieving, manipulative, ungrateful, intimidating druggie in the house?”  “I can’t stand it any more; I’m done.”  “He’s going to juvie if they find him.” “I don’t care how young he is, God, this wasn’t part of the bargain.”

More angry tears followed, uninvited, so annoying.  Anger and Worry vied jealously for top billing in her brain.  Should she really report him ?  He’s only 15.  “But someone needs to take care of him, and I’m still responsible for him.”  “How am I supposed to take care of him when he does whatever he wants whenever he wants and I have no control over him?”   Maybe a call to the school?  Not that they’ve seen him in weeks, but maybe they would know what to do next.

Oh, God, please, this isn’t how I wanted it to be.  How could you let this happen?  How could I?  Oh, please please bring him home safely

Anger.  At the disrespect.  He SPIT at her!  His mother!  He missed, but still.

Anger.  She had to lock up her belongings in her own house.  He STOLE from her, anything he could sell. Any money he could find.

Anger.  He threw the stuff off the table because she wouldn’t give him what he wanted.  Money.  “Oh, Lord, I still have to clean all that up this morning.”

Anger that she couldn’t believe anything he said.

Anger that she had to hide her shame about him.

Anger, and deep sadness, that her little boy was gone and this, this MONSTER had taken over his body.

And worry.

Worry. “Where will he sleep tonight? “  Maybe Tommy’s mom has seen him?  “I should call.”

Worry.  “What will he eat?”   Would he steal from the stores? Would anyone take him in?

Worry.  Would he be arrested?  Or worse, shot?

Worry about bad drugs.  About mixed drugs.  About overdoses. About drugs at all.

Worry, worry, worry, “Maybe arrested wouldn’t be a bad thing, at least he’d be alive.

“Oh, God, please protect him today.

Alice went in and sat down on Tyrone’s bed as the pictures whirled around in her head.  Not just those, pictures of him when she adopted him at a sweet two years old.  Pictures about laughing and giggling and exploring together.  Pictures with his dad and he, fishing, when he was 9 and 10, on wonderful camping trips when Otis was clean and sober.  Before…

Oh, God, don’t even let me go there. If only Otis had been able to keep it together, we were so happy then.”

Alice stood up, went into the kitchen, started  picking broken shards up off the floor. One at a time, into the trash can.

Broken pieces of her son.  Broken pieces of her life.  Broken pieces of her heart.  Broken pieces of her dreams.

Sobbing now, she sat on the kitchen floor with her arms around her knees, helpless and lost amidst all the broken pieces.

Grandma Gerry


Resentments and Regrets


I admit it,  some 40 year old R&R’s have been eating a hole in my heart.  In my gut too, truth be told.  Both the resentments and the regrets involve my now middle-aged children, and they both prominently feature the word, “SHOULD.”   They packed quite the emotional  wallop; family dramas often do I suppose.  Things in my life just haven’t turned out the way I was taught to expect they “should,” and I have carried both shame (me) and blame (someone else) around these issues for years.

As I started writing my story in preparation for the book, I set my intention to see things in my life in a new way, and that is what is happening, though I couldn’t have imagined what I couldn’t have imagined.  Things have come up for healing that have been festering below my awareness for years, and I have had to be honest with myself in a whole new way.

I have shared before that during my deepest depressions, I thought I was taking care of my responsibilities as a parent, but I could not.  My oldest boy had no mom to really talk with when he needed me, he was too much like me and I didn’t know what to say, and, at a different time, I shared too much of my sadness with my younger boy, who felt he had to take care of my feelings.   Those are realizations in hindsight, at the time things were happening I was just trying to make it through every day.

They lived with their dad and stepmother during their teen years, and still live in the same community where their dad lives, so they see them often.  Their stepmom had never been able to have children herself…I think you can see where this is going.

She had so much more to offer them than I did.  She made a lot of money then when I had very little, she had a great extended family to surround my kids with love and advantages while I was a single mother who couldn’t be there when my kids came home from school.  And most importantly, she wasn’t depressed, quite the opposite. Our personalities are VERY different, where I am an introvert, she is in sales and an extrovert.  The boys/men held me at arms length for years for different reasons and we all suffered pain.

The thing is these “boys” are in their forties now, and we are finally rebuilding our relationships.  I am most grateful and of course I am not the “mess in distress” I was when they were younger.  So it’s time to let go of both the resentments and the regrets of the past and I am ready – I was just not expecting the pain that came up first.

I’m done with shame.  I am done with blame.  What happened inevitably happened, and it made us all the people we are today.  If other things had happened, we would have had other issues to work through, because life is like that for everyone.  None of us are bad people.  In fact, we are all pretty great people, if I do say so myself.

And talk about something falling outside of the range of things I can change! The PAST is done, I can only change my attitude about it. I have known for years to accept things I can’t change, I just never put all of this into that basket.

Acceptance, once again, for the second time in my life is the life-saving key to restore my sanity.  The first time I was dealing with my relationship with my mother and with several husbands.  I learned that once I had truly accepted them, with their stories, I didn’t even have forgiveness work to do.  It was just “done.”

Now I am dealing with accepting ME. This gift of self-love benefits everyone, and like magic, our relationships are mellowing and deepening, the one thing I wanted more than anything while I was holding all the R&R’s and feeling like an outsider in their lives, but could not create.

I feel free now.  I feel at peace.  I have nothing to prove.  I am so grateful for these insights and for the Guidance from Above that helped me these past weeks.










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Why Write?

“I am here to share the love and challenges and wisdom of many years on the planet, and my current journey, in the hopes someone besides me benefits.  I want us to all love ourselves better,  to live our lives more effectively  and  to leave behind everything that disempowers us. The Love and Peace of God, expressing through my open heart, shall be my lighthouse and my GPS system”  (from “about me”)”

I am away from home, visiting children and grandchildren.  Now maybe some people have fairy-tale-close “Father-Knows-Best/Brady-Bunch” happily-ever-after relationships with said beloveds, but in my case it’s a something we all have to work at. The gratitude I have is that my children, who for long years wanted nothing to do with me, are now willing to join me in the working part. They are in their 40’s and clearer about who they are, and I in my 70’s am not so much the distressed mess I once was. I have written before about my insights about the ways that my children suffered as much from my depression as I did.

I started this post out with my quote, because I have to remind myself of it every now and again, both in life and in art.

In Life: When I arrived in town I was full of angst; being with family brings up things in me I usually can avoid. As regards my children, I am re-inventing myself from the victim role I lived in for so long (“why don’t they love me?” – “they call their stepmother ‘mom’- I guess I’m just an extra in their movie” – and the dismissive “they know where I live” for when it hurt really badly). I asked for Divine guidance and got “Just stay centered in peace, and radiate love. And, Be generous in spirit. And, You have nothing to prove.” When I re-read my “About Me” today, I realized that my mission statement as a writer applied equally to my family.


And, “duh!”

In Art: Sorry I’ve been gone so long. I have been sidetracked by accepting too many freelancing orders. I finally realized that I actually don’t want to write articles for money that just don’t meet my writing mission. They took way too much time and research and I felt stressed about deadlines – and empty.  Originally, I had started freelancing to earn money-  yes, always good – but also to get started writing every day again, and to hone my skills after some time away.  I find that my skills are just fine, and while it’s good to be writing, it’s better to be writing from my heart-space.  So, last evening I wrote to the clients whose contract stresses me the most and asked to be released from the assignment. It was very freeing. I feel some pride in having written more than 50 articles in the past 6 months but I realized the only ones I was proud of as “my work” allowed me to share something with people that informed or inspired them in some way or shared an insight.  Now I am proud of my freedom.

And, especially lately, I just did not have time for my personal writing – my blogs and my book – and I completely blew Writing 101.   Boo.  It was for me.  And I am so tired all the time.   So I have to resolve the tension between wanting to supplement my income, to have more “means” to live within, and wanting the freedom to write about what my 72 years here on Planet earth have taught me.  That kind of writing brings me the added benefit of added insight as I write.

Anyway, I hope I can, I think I can, devote an hour a day to my blog when I get back – both writing mine and reading some of yours – and then 2 hours per day to the book  – and take on a reduced freelancing schedule – and still have time to sing, to garden, to see friends, and to just sit on the patio and listen to the birds.




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The COURAGE to be Sexy

sexysilhouette_publicdomainAfter the Santa Barbara shootings, and the #yesallwomen twitter movement that exploded afterward, I was inspired to write this article.  It was published at SlimShortCut, which focuses on women’s health and wellbeing.   by Gerry Straatemeier (ME!)

You can read the entire article for yourself (I hope you do) but I want to share just the intro with you:

Even in 2014, even in these United States, any woman who lays proud, open, sassy, FULL claim to her sexuality opens herself to the danger of violation by others. The dangers are of physical, sexual, psychological, social and emotional assault. Some may say that’s too strong a statement, in fact my sweetie of 20 years just did, but I think not.

 Travel with me a moment. Imagine you have a beautiful 13 year old daughter, Ruby, just coming into her womanhood. Her menses started a year or two ago, but now finally she has the breasts she has waited so long for, and hips, and the cutest high, tight butt! She just naturally wants to strut her stuff. She walks differently, she moves her hips differently, she is lit up with the blossoming, glorious sensual joy you hopefully want her to experience in her body.

“But not yet, oh God, please, not yet,” you scream inside.

 Just try to tell me you don’t want to protect her!

I have one more (paid, yeah!) assignment due today, but I hope I will have time to do today’s Writing 101 challenge on changing points of view in a story.  I can’t wait.





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Writing 101 – Day 5 – The Letter

The challenge for today is that I found a letter somewhere and it moved me so deeply when I read it that I  wanted it to have reached its intended recipient.  The TWIST?  Keep it short!

“Dearest Timmy,

Mommy and daddy mss you so much.

We miss your laughter in the afternoon on the swings.

We miss your hugs and kisses in the morning.

We miss watching your eyes close when you’re trying to keep them open for your story.

We miss looking into your room at night and seeing you sleeping, snug in your fireman pj’s.

We miss having our real live boy in our arms – YOU!

You’re going to have a little sister soon and we will tell her all about you.

We think then she will miss you too.

We remember you every day and always will.

We Love You So Much,

Mommy and Daddy

in a bottle washed up on the beach






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Writing 101, Day 4 – Loss – John

Assignment:  Write about a loss: something or someone that was part of your life and isn’t any more.  What is important is reflecting on the experience and what it meant for you – how it felt, why it happened, and what changed because of it. Today’s assignment is the first time I want to try my hand at fiction, as I had promised myself I would, and I am quite nervous.


manwalkingJohn woke up early; the sky was just barely pale pink and grey in the east over the mountains.  Usually he loved being up with the sunrise, and he often took his camera with him on his early morning run.   He had entered some photos in a contest in the town newspaper and won $25.00 last year, so he was encouraged to focus his lens on whatever  was beautiful or unusual.  It’s so much easier these days, with digital cameras.

Today, though, he is in no mood for the camera and in no shape for a run.

He has only slept a couple of hours.  Restless, empty, angry, he is frightened.  What will happen now?

Sarah and their 3 year old Annie had left last night, after another huge argument, and he doesn’t know where they are.  She just left, while he was in the bathroom losing his dinner.  She took her car and some clothes for both of them and just…left.  He had frantically run out of the house as he heard the car leave the driveway, but he was too late to stop her.  Then he called all her friends even though it was after midnight to see if anyone knew where she was.   No one did, or no one was telling.   “She probably went to Karen’s or to Arni and Tom’s,” he had thought, but when he drove past their houses, her car wasn’t there.

Finally he had come home and fallen asleep on the couch with another beer.

Sure, he’d been drinking and maybe he DID get a little loud, “But that’s no reason to leave, is it,” he thinks, as he paces restlessly from room to room.  “Is she gone for good?”  “I love her.” “I’m sorry.  How can I tell her I’m sorry?”  “Oh, God, what can I do?” She isn’t answering her cell phone.  He opens Facebook to see if he can pick up any clues as to where she is.  Nothing. He calls in sick, he can’t think of anything else but Sarah and Annie, and how to find them and bring them back.  Besides, there is a big wide hole in his belly.  He feels like someone kicked him, and so he really is sick, he tells himself.   He just can’t face a bus load of yammering teenagers today.

Hot, big self-righteous tears stream down his rugged face as he walks into Annie’s room.  Usually she lights up his mornings with hugs and laughter.  He likes to show her the photos he took on his run,  and he always has breakfast with her while Sarah gets ready for work.  Today it is …so quiet.  “How can she do this to me?”  “It’s not like I hit her or anything.”   He wants to throw things now.  He wants to punch out some walls now.  He wants to yell and scream his anger and loneliness at the top of his lungs now.

He does none of those things.  He just paces.  He doesn’t know what to do with himself.

He had never thought anything like this would happen, not to them.

He texts her.  Again.  No answer.  He calls some of her friends.  Again.  No one can tell him anything.  He drives past the bank where she works but doesn’t see her car, and Annie is not playing with the other kids in the yard at daycare.  The weather’s nice and the kids usually have snacks outside and use up some energy on the swings and slides.

Angry, frightened, he asks himself, “Where is she?”  “She can’t just leave like this.”    Then, “Of course she will be back,” he thinks, “I’m her ‘Studley’ and she loves me.”

Once more, he texts her.  Still, no answer.  Somehow he will get through this day.  Other people do.

He takes a beer out of the fridge and turns on the TV.

Everything had changed in their lives the year before, when he had been laid off his well-paid construction job.  He felt like such a loser, driving a school bus a few hours a day for a pittance, but it was all he could find. Money has been very tight and they started fighting about everything.  They might even might lose their home, and he had been drinking more, he admits it.  “But it’s not like I can’t stop.  It just helps me get through the day.  ”  “And now this,” he thinks, as he gets up and turns off the TV.  “Morning TV is for chicks.  Nothing on.

He crushes the can, throws it across the room to the trash can.  Missed.

He resumes pacing…



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Writing 101 – Day 2 – A Place to be Transported To

Assignment; If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now? Today, choose a place to which you’d like to be transported if you could — and tell us the backstory. How does this specific location affect you? Is it somewhere you’ve been, luring you with the power of nostalgia, or a place you’re aching to explore for the first time?

The Oregon Coast is an amazing collection of black rock formations out in the tides, and sand beaches, green parks and nature preserves.

2017150068As I wake up in the campground at Cape Perpetua, near Yachats, I am transported to a magical place outside of ordinary time that provides a feast for all the senses.  Somehow, anything that is not of the forest, of the stream, of the ocean, the tides, the mist, the wind, of the squirrels and gulls and the just plain LIFE of Perpertua, ceases to exist.

My eyes open to a canopy of green leaves of many sizes and colors overhead, all moving and singing in the morning breeze.  Tall deep-green pines, spruce and hemlocks tower over a plethora of small bright green aspen leaves creating a shimmering roof overhead. Emerald grasses, wild blueberry bushes for the picking, jade ferns and long brown-green mosses hanging down from the trees in the moist salt air fill in the underbrush.   Everything is so fresh, you  SMELL the green in the air mixed with the fragrance of the sea and smoke from a few scattered early morning campfires.  It’s quiet in the campground; there is a sense of the Sacred here today.

GREEN!  Photo Credit: Lauren Braden

GREEN! Photo Credit: Lauren Braden

It is at Cape Perpetua I find deepest peace, acceptance of the seasons of life and all the roles we all play in it. Here is the most spiritual place on the planet for me.  Here the tall roaring Devil’s Churn spout spews spray high in the air.  Steep slopes from the highway down to the waves provide a cover of small reddish bushes to lie in and dream.  Sharp rocky shoreline outcroppings and tidepools allow me to feel the spray on on face as I dare the tides closer. High rocky bench overlooks provide pews for the presence of Eternity.   I know I am part of what is, what was, and what will be, a small speck in the sands of time…and a deep peace bubbles up from the wells of my soul.

Cape Perpetua Oregon is where I find Home tonight.



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