Flying with Broken Wings is about the life of Charlotte Jean Murphree. Charlotte was not a famous person, in fact, not too many people knew her, but those that did knew there were many facets to her life. the book tells of fifty-two years of daily testing of her will to carry on and the misfortune she faced. As a baby and young girl, she was made fun of by schoolchildren, her progress was slow, but she never gave up the fight to overcome her disabilities. As an adult, she fought Cerebral Palsy, Living with Bipolar, Depression, and Schizophrenia disorders. Charlotte lived not only with herself, but she endured the “Voices” that lived within her for over thirty years. This book is about the beginning, middle, and end of her life.
Another post from the website of Chuck Murphree, published YA writer, Mental Health speaker, Edcuator.
It has started again, the feeling of a faster heart rate, the inability to catch a proper breath, the tension that comes from a tight jaw that causes pain in my neck, the squeezing of my lower back which seems to mimic a vice grip on my spine, and then the almighty psoas muscle, tightening against my will, causing a lingering pain in the quad muscles in both legs. I cannot help but sit back and sigh and then giggle toward my pain. After all, it is my mind that is the source of it all. It’s my thoughts and emotions coming out in the form of stress. Stress, oh how I wish it was a four-letter word in stead of five because it should sit beside that most infamous of curse words, F&%K!
I felt it coming on slowly. For those of you who feel the world, you know who you are, it started to pile on after the first few days of school. It’s when anxiety caught me off guard, giving me surges of adrenaline that seemed to be injected in large veins by a tiny needle, slowly releasing it all, and leaving me on the edge of panic. Not quite a full-blown panic attack, just a little nudge reminding me that it’s there, waiting to interrupt my life if I don’t find a way to calm down my stress. And yes, depression decided to join the party because what fun would it be if my little dark friend didn’t come to play?
I suppose I could blame it on the start of another school year. Perhaps it is me starting a new position in the world of education. Maybe “world” isn’t the right word these days. It’s more like a typhoon that makes landfall in August and continues until June. Yes, the typhoon of education. Why? I sit and wonder why we haven’t figured it out yet? We educators have a repeated cycle of stepping into the fire, suffocating on the smoke, year after year. We start off with our professional development and encouraging words from worn-out administrators, which is part of the repeated cycle, and then the dam breaks. We are then flooded. We rush and feel rushed. We are given a plethora of insurmountable tasks to do, maybe I should say unsustainable tasks, and it just keeps coming. And all of this has nothing to do with students or even parents. Yet, they are there. The most important purpose of all, our kids are there, waiting for us to engage them. They are there to tell us about their lives, emotions, and mental health. They are there to share their experiences from their sometimes chaotic home lives, and yet, when we give them our all, we are piled on with more. It makes me wonder what our true priority is? Is it meetings? Is it data? Is it paperwork? Is it politics? It often does not seem like it is students because we are worn out with everything else that is required.
Let’s go back to that word “blame” for a moment. I cannot have blame for anyone but myself for the stress that is unfolding. It is me who feels the world deeply, so while I am being flooded by all the training, meetings, paperwork, parent phone calls, and on and on, I am worried about my kids. They sit before me, some struggling daily with their own depression and anxiety. Some are struggling with their self-worth, and it is them that I keep as my priority. They are waiting for my ears and my heart. They are waiting for my words and my experience. They wait patiently for me to teach them but what they really want is the connection. And so I am to blame for my stress. I am to blame for my anxiety and allowing myself to be flooded because I care. I care deeply for the young human that has come through my classroom door and needs me. It has been suggested that I should let much of my work go and do only what I can while there. I am not sure about this statement. It tortures me actually. I am uncertain if I can lower the expectations that I have set for myself. I am uncertain of it all. This, I am afraid, especially during the moments where my body is screaming at me, when my jaw is tightening to the point where I strain to talk, will be my demise. Maybe not my demise as a human just yet, but my demise as an educator.
I recently had a parent send an email to my district administrators. She basically said how thankful she was that I made a strong connection right away with her son. He is someone who struggles functioning because of his mental health, and she said in her email that I was the reason he wanted to continue coming to class. This gave me a little of my breath back. It helped me distinguish just a little of the fire. However, I realize if I focus my energy on him, helping and connecting with him, as well as my other students, and then attempt to do my best with all of the other tasks that I am required, I will fall head first back into the fire, perhaps burning myself so bad it will ravage my body. The signs are there. I feel this year may require a large extinguisher to put out the flames.
My hope is that someday the typhoon of education will level, or at least become a large wave. Yes, we educators are strong swimmers, so a large wave would be manageable. However, I am uncertain if the powers that be, the community and nation as a whole, and the families, quite understand what is happening. Education is the foundation of what builds this country. I believe we just saw the impact and reality of that during the pandemic. If we continue to have this mass exodus. If we continue to drown our teachers in unnecessary training, paperwork, and lack of support, we will crack our foundation until it crumbles. Actually, the crack is already happening. The levee to the dam is about to release. My regret, the thing that makes me sit in tears at times, is our children will suffer. When they do, teachers will be to blame for taking care of themselves and leaving the field. Why? Well, we often look for blame in situations that are totally in our control but we let it get out of control. If I could ask the nation, the politicians, the school boards, administrators to reflect, to be mindful, I believe they would see that teachers aren’t to blame at all.
As for me, I will find a way. I always do. I find a way to come to the brink of what I feel will be my extinction from being an educator and I manage to hang on. However, at what cost? I recently sat with my wife, told her about the pain in my body, the anxiety and depression, and how I feel that no matter how much I take care of myself, exercise, eat right, and be mindful, that stress may catch up to me. It may kill me. As we hugged and shared tears, she said, “Is it time to do something else?” The thought haunts me.
I love to teach. I love connecting with my students and showing them a new way of thinking. I strive to help them navigate their mental health and the struggles that they face as young people. I am good at it. I prioritize building relationships because I know that is what truly matters in my field. I am the educator who finds that one student sitting alone, looking desperate, and I reach out to them, offering them my compassion and empathy. I have had students tell me I saved them. I helped them to the point that made them want to live and heal and find a better way. I have tried to deny that impact for years because it is difficult for me to admit I have had any impact, but it’s all there. My students’ pictures are hanging onto the wall in my mind reminding me of my purpose, and they are my reason to keep going. That is why it haunts me to think about leaving education. I think, “What if there is a kid out there that needs me? Maybe next year or next month, but what if they are there? They may not know it but they wait for me to make that connection that will help them build the skills needed to survive and take notice of their worth.”
But, to what extent? Will all of the other debris in the typhoon tear me up and continue to bruise me? Will it lead to my soul drowning? Will the pain caused by stress in my body be worth it? The pain in my mind and the torture that anxiety brings? Will my depression lead to more thoughts of leaving this world and sparing all of you my words?
My plea to all of you is to notice that this is not unique to me. It is why we have a crisis in education. Our teachers suffer and have chosen to not perish among the flood. Stop it before our kids do too.
I am in my second year after being diagnosed with Multi Myeloma (Bone Cancer). The life expectancy is as low as 2.5 years and tops 4 years. I kept the depression and anxiety levels down the first year, not because of denial but the sheer strength of my mind. In the second year, the depression and anxiety returned with a vengeance. I have gotten weaker and fatigued and have this sense of urgency about accomplishing what I have wanted since retirement: writing. I have published several books of poetry, including an autobiography about my daughter, who passed away in 2010. I have begun my own life story this past year. Then this cloud that many carry above them, depression, and anxiety. I have found that poetry is making a comeback, but slowly. Sales have not been at the top of my money chart. Another worry is that I am starting something that I will not have time to finish. My life has been long, more of a saga, filled with bits of happiness given to me by my children and emotional and physical abuse woven in and out throughout the years.
The urgency involves my writing. I have been writing since I could print words, simple words. Poems for my aunt and daddy, which she would destroy if found by my mother. I had been told since I was old enough to remember that I would never be anything because I was not as beautiful as my sister Billie nor as bright; all I could hope for was to marry and have someone take care of me. This non-encouragement caused me to work toward good grades and educate myself if schooling was not available. Like many southern girls, I was married “off” to someone much older than me, an abuser. I never gave up wanting to write. I was a closet writer until I retired from the public workforce, fearing that it would be destroyed if it was found.
This brings me to when I give thought to be a writer. Also, what type of writer did I want to be. I have always loved poetry; my poetry books are filled with heartache and anguish that was my life. Many have said that it was “dark” poetry. It was mainly dark as it was given birth from that dark place within me. Many have suggested that I seek help and counseling. Don’t we all need counseling in some form, depression, and/or anxiety?
To be a writer, one must have good communication skills and be able to share a point concisely and clearly. I began years ago by keeping a daily journal; with this journal, I could draw upon incidents in my life that would allow me to put them into my poetry or short stories. I have been told that writing is never a lonely activity; for me, it was because I have always thought of myself as a loner. I turn within, thinking about what I wanted to say, how I wanted to write it to bring others into my “dark” world of reading what I wrote. I know I am not alone; many carry the same burdens that I do, much worse than mine. We may not be alone, but it is a lonely world for me. A world where I can hide and play the part needed to be played.
I have never looked at my writing as a job, one I could make a living regularly doing; be another Sylvia Plath or Grace Paley. That was why I waited until retirement to pursue my desire to write. I write because I love to create, to share with others. Yet, to share those, others must buy my books; maybe poetry was not the best choice. Perhaps a collection of short stories would have been more profitable? However, once again, urgency raises its worrisome head. There are constant changes in publishing and marketing, and I try to keep up with those when necessary. Writers must have adaptability when needed. Discipline is something that comes naturally to me. However, with cancer, treatments and the side effects that come with it does override discipline. It overshadows time, fatigue takes over no matter how committed I may be, and my challenges are health problems I have no control over.
I am organized, have a designated workspace, and have all the proper writing tools; I research what is needed to put out the correct information. I edit, edit, edit…I know what I want to write. I follow all the principles and have proofreaders. I copyright my material. I have had this blog for years. I am a people watcher, listen to tones, and am always mindful of syntax. I try to switch topics, poetry, short stories, newsworthy information, and opinions in my blog. I try to think critically, change styles, and learn new techniques. I follow some social media. However, I am a loner and a lone thinker.
There are two things that I need to observe. Slip away from fatigue and pain; my work may be more productive. Secondly, sales!
It has been a very long day for me, so I will leave you with this, never give up on your dreams.
The hours before dawn, and a cold rain pounds into my heart. The grief is fierce as it raises and consumes my spirit, assaulting my senses. Memories emerge from the darkness, becoming one with my soul. In the depths of my wounded courage, I am listing in a sea of sorrow, my life filled with more grief than many can bear. It is the hard cold hour before departing this misery.
I search for a miracle; hope merges with despair; my destiny is to leave all I have ever loved. I am uncertain and afraid. Hope has expired. Sometimes waves of anger and fear hang above me, a cloud circulating over the earth. I do not speak of death. Yet, the elderly where I reside; talk until they see their own grave over the horizon.
Much is written about grief, soft words meant to calm the grieving heart. There will be those who say how lovely these words are, and I doubt they are all true. Grief is not calm and comforting; the comments do not stop the pain. Words penetrate the brain; they shatter the heart.
Most are choked with emotions under the flesh where the heart is sheltered by outward affliction; they close their eyes, hoping to have the scene before they disappear. Grief has no place to hide! The speaker believes the words that enter the ears will comfort despair.
Over this past year, I have shared with you that I have been diagnosed with Stage 3 Multi-Myeloma. I have tried to stay focused on writing a memoir, and I have taken from those written pages and created posts on my blog. Cancer is a teacher; cancer changes one’s way of thinking; cancer humbles; that is my description of cancer.
Some time back, I posted about removing toxic individuals from my life; cancer has taught me to value my time. My time is precious and short; I cannot give the time that I don’t have to people who are toxic, greedy, and thinks of only themselves. I should have done this fifty years ago, but it took cancer for me to realize that it was I that needed to consider a different way.
We all have people who come and go during our lifetime, a scattered few walks and talk within a cloud of toxicity, conversation and actions. Removing them is like being tied to a tree with a noose around your neck. You cannot remove the rope; the noose tightens around your neck. Toxic people live in a cloud of lies, and you may be unable to escape in writing what may be my last book, filling the pages with things that I could have changed. Cancer has taught me, too late, what really matters. The pain located in my spine humbles me as well. It shames me that I have allowed parents that did not love me to keep me from returning. Being hurt was better than nothing at all. In the last three years of my mother’s life, she finally told me to stay away.
An entire chapter of my memoir focuses on my birth, which was not what my mother wanted. She hoped that I would die at birth. My daddy being under her control, rarely won a battle with her. I was raised by my aunt until the age of three; it was then that my daddy brought me back into a house filled with unhappiness and hate. I learned from his gentleness and love when he was allowed to show it. After marriage to a man I did not know, another southern thing that should have been outlawed, I keep returning to that house hoping to see a measure of love from anyone. My sister, raised until the rules of our mother, rebelled.
My mother loved her unconditionally but wanted to control her, which she never accomplished. My sister left, returning years in-between. I kept returning year after year, hoping to break through that bearer. I was filled with love for family. I did recognize that there was no love and that I was unwanted, but all those years of knowing taught me nothing.
She, by then, had brought another child into her life, an adopted one. I believe that it was an effort to “do over.” What she did not accomplish with my sister. That entire family of daddy, mother, and sisters lived within a cloud of toxicity that would last them all their lives. I was finally told to not come back several years after my daddy died. I never returned until her death three years later. However, those left behind kept the toxicity alive. My relationship with those left after their death was on and off, the greed shown at my mother’s death was so outlandish I sometimes wonder if people would believe it.
Multi-Myeloma decided to attack my spine. It was undoubtedly brought on by stress, a lifetime of anxiety that I allowed to get into my mind. This mental pain I have lived with all my life finally turned into a physical one. My first mistake was to continue to live within a family of greedy people; the second was to stay. I am not saying that these toxic family members caused my cancer, but their actions have not helped it throughout the years either.
They continued to live as entitled individuals and soon discovered no one would continue the entitlement after their mother died. I cannot see that they have learned anything; their mother continues to live on their shoulders, dictating the rules from the grave. Greed was their life, letting someone else carry the burden of their living expenses. I doubt they ever learned anything; my family’s life still belongs to someone in the grave. When the “giver” died, the individual turned more toxic than ever before and appeared to have no clue how to live. I continued to go back when allowed; I, too, had learned nothing all those years. The relationship was so damaged by their fear it could not be repaired. It is always a mystery how money can break apart people you thought to love you and that you did love. Cancer taught me a new way of living, one of truth. I never wanted anything but their love; they all withheld that too.
I worked hard to keep the relationship alive, but I apparently did not come to the rescue financially, and communication ended. I believe it was thought that I had money. I worked to make a living all my adult life; my mother thought I had money. She never felt anything else and asked that I continue taking care of what she deemed to need. She did not want me, but she did want me to step in her shoes when she died. She asked that of me many years ago; however, in those final years, hours she had me banned from the room until she breathed her last breath. I was told it was all the family, but who knows, and now who cares?
This has been a long time of teaching me to not run after those who do not care unless you extend a hand filled with money. Toxicity, the poison that ran through my family, was not love; it was simply greed. Finally, I have become a student over this past year of dealing with cancer. So many years wasted; however, better late than never learning anything. I have removed the toxic people from my life. I felt the weight lifted from my shoulders the moment the decision was made; it was easier to breathe.
I have written about this in “The Last Chapter,” and I want to share it again. I still care deeply about those who have hurt me. Yet, I cannot go back to listening to their lies and claims to always walking in the image of God or asking for prayers. Their actions do not show that they need any help financially or otherwise. To the world outside their other toxic associated group, they no doubt genuinely believe they are the ones that need help. When they show their lifestyle, it clearly represents someone who has more than most. It is almost kin to a “scam.”
After more than 50 years, I finally cut the relationship. I could not change what they do or act; they are believed to be correct and do not see their own faults. They manipulate people and situations to their own advantage. My health cannot be subject to unhealthy ways; it is up to me.
August 2 thru 4 was spent with my two sons. It had been planned for some time and I prayed that I would be able to go. The pain was unbearable at times, but this did not stop me from enjoying every minute. Sometimes we must push through the pain in order to get into the realm of laughter, togetherness, and love. I had trained all my life for this very thing and the time was beautiful.
Cabin at Indian Trails Campground…
Inside the cabin…
It was a beautiful setting, surrounded by a fence, which took away from the “campground” effect. We arrived on a Tuesday. It took some time to get everything settled, then darkness came on quickly.
I had a walker which was difficult to maneuver over the gravel road. However, I also had my big battery-powered wheelchair that could tackle any road and win. As I look back, I can barely remember doing a 5K with Chuck and Karen only a few years back. Walking 6 miles every day and eating “right”.
That was with heart surgery and many other complications that “old age” will throw at you. Then, it all ended when I fell and broke my back! One year and three months ago the big “C” was a diagnosis that I did not ever want to hear. The days go and come with me fighting it every step of the way. Over this past year, I have gone from cane to walker and wheelchair. Thus, this brings me to today.
I did go to Door County, a big attraction here in Wisconsin. If I was going to wait until I felt better…that was not going to happen. Three days there with my granddaughter and my 10-year-old great-grandson. That was not a vacation, but a few days of seeing how undisciplined he was most of the time.
So, the three days in the cabin were something I needed badly. What a peaceful time.
Here are the two that made that possible and what a joy to have time without drama. I must tell you that I have two of the most wonderful sons. They took time out of their busy lives to give me those days. We went to an Amish Bakery, you have not lived until you have baked goods from scratch, with no preservatives. I laughed more than I have ever laughed and felt nothing but respect and love. The tallest is Carl in management with a large company. The shorter one is me! The other boy is Chuck a special education teacher. Chuck is also a writer as is his mother. He has published two books on mental health, and he is a speaker in mental health as well.
We pushed all we could into those short three days. We vowed to go again next summer. My wish is that I can, and if not, I had them promise me that they would get together every summer, just the two of them.
Have a great weekend, and I hope to return shortly. E.
My son Chuck Murphree – Author – Educator – Veteran – Blogger, recently attended a conference in Baltimore, Maryland. During this time, he visited many areas of the town. He walked the streets taking in the scene, also during his visit to a cemetery where he found the gravesite of Edgar Allen Poe and many other famous people, he reflected upon all of these things which he wrote me. His heart filled with emotion. Please read the below message I received from him.
Author – Chuck Murphree
Taking in the gravesite of Edgar Allen Poe and others today. We often expect graveyards to be quiet and serene, but not always. This experience was surrounded by sirens and heroin addicts scratching at skinny, bruised arms. The streets are filled with homeless that probably stopped wondering what happened to their human experience long ago and now silence their minds with a bottle of whiskey or meth.
Their choices are few. In America, your colors are bleeding, and your flag should be hung upside down, for we are in dire distress. Our democracy is in danger and crumbling because many of our brothers and sisters are suffering while others fill their plump bellies with unnecessary portions.
We seem to thrive at nourishing other countries with millions of dollars in arms for them to fight wars, yet we have forgotten to feed our own. Have we given up on this crisis that continues to unfold? Has it gone too far, and the rest of us whose startling line was moved ahead in life just continue to turn a blind eye?
Where are our leaders? Every politician in our country should have to walk through our city streets and talk to our citizens and see the strung-out children of God who linger in the alleys and the tents that are raised on the sidewalks to offer shelter. When you become a mayor, congressperson, senator, or president, you gave the oath to serve all of the people, not just the privileged few.
I would love to see @joebiden @barackobama @berniesanders reply to this.
Our people need help… That the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth – Lincoln
I recently returned after being away for a few days. My granddaughter and I went to Door County, a vacation spot for many from Wisconsin and out-of-state people. I had to get away after over two years of being shut in because of Covid. I was going “stir” crazy. I decided that cancer could do no less harm than being out and about.
We also had my great-grandson, who will soon turn ten. That is something to write—a spoiled ten-year-old. Of course, this is not anything new to me. If I heard “Mommie” once, I heard it a million times over four days. I doubt if spoiled is the correct term. I believe his parents try, yet they are not too successful in setting boundaries. They allow him to decide everything from ordering off the menu in a restaurant to when he wants to stop at some money-making game place. By the fourth day, I was living on my last nerve! We would leave on the fifth day and not a moment too soon.
Like Tina Turner sings, “What’s love got to do with it .”I love him very much, and he is a sweet loving kid who is spoiled. I sometimes wonder if there is enough time for him to get out of this entitled stage. His half-brother, who has lived an entitled life, does not know anything but to be catered to. He is thirteen years older than the other one. To clarify, neither comes from a “well-to-do” family. Yet the parents and a grandmother want to be friends with the two of them. I believe the term “will they love me” comes into play.
The grandmother is my youngest daughter, I have raised five children by myself, and as they grew up, they knew that I loved them and wanted them to love me. Yet, I was never their friend, each taught to respect me, and they have all turned out to be fine citizens and outstanding children. I believe that they have brought up their children as I did them. The youngest daughter is the only one with grandchildren; they are, as stated, brought up to be entitled to have all they need and too much of what they want.
However, it was a good trip. I enjoyed getting away from my own home, my book had slowed down, and I needed to recoup. The walls seemed to be closing in. I understand that this happened, but I did enjoy the trip. I came back with a much clearer head than when I left. The pain went with me, but it is only with pain that my mind remains clear. I refuse to take enough to stop the pain; it is then that the mind stops as well.
I wish all of you a wonderful day.
Existence, scene after scene, characteristics of life environment, genetics, and promises that reveal nothing, the past descends like rain from the sky, washing away all dreams.
Phantoms of youth chanting within the soul, paths blocked; evil has spread across the landscape of a lifetime.
Rethink the future! Loneliness limits love and happiness; boundaries set slow down the process of moving into the future. Nevertheless, a future shrouded with abundant solitude from which there is no escape.