family · God · My Thoughts

Parents’ Death: Tough Topic #1—Dread?

Parents and family - parents' death

For years, my parents’ death loomed in front of me as they aged. I dreaded losing them and wondered how I would cope. I had intricately woven my life into theirs, never living over four hours away.

It’s been almost ten years since losing Mom and twenty-six in losing Dad. The pain has subsided but never goes away. Here’s how I have coped.

In 2017, a few years after Mom’s death, I wrote a book, A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, dealing with my grief over the loss of both parents, and how I handled each differently.

These excerpts from my book show the difference in how I handled their two deaths.

Dad and me dancing at his 75th birthday party. Parents' death
Dad and me dancing at his 75th birthday party.

Dad’s Death

“On January 6, 1996, my dad died. Losing my first parent left me reeling. This loss changed my life forever. At Dad’s death, I was eight years sober. I had feared his death for years because of our close relationship. How could I survive without him? I wondered.”

A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter's Grief Memoir meme. Parents' death

Larada Horner-Miller, A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, (2017): xvi.

When my dad died, I didn’t write poetry to get clarity, to heal myself, or to see the events of my life as a part of my process. I wrote but not to deal with my loss.

I focused on Mom—that’s what I did, and I danced and worked.

We talked often about Dad, our loss, and our grief. I realized these conversations were important for both of us to heal. I learned that from her and relished her wisdom—I listened. Her tender care of herself demonstrated to me how to do this mysterious thing so many don’t understand how to do: grieve.

Time healed Mom. She managed her grief and lived seventeen years without Dad, in relative comfort and happiness.

I wanted that for myself when she passed.

Larada Horner-Miller, A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, (2017): 11.
Mom and me in one of our Christmas outfits bought by Dad. Parents' death
Mom and me in one of our Christmas outfits bought by Dad.

Mom’s Death

On March 23, 2013, Mom died, but this time was different and so very difficult. Both my parents were now gone, and I felt alone, an “adult orphan.” My recovery and faith in my Higher Power helped me survive losing her, but my major relief came through writing—I wrote poetry and lots of it. When I wrote a poem, tears of relief flooded me—a major healing tool. I read them to my therapist, and she cried with me. One particular night, she asked me to publish them so her daughters could read them after she died.

It also helped that I was older and more aware of my personal means of handling life’s hard knocks. I had seventeen more years in recovery and had learned more about grief in watching Mom and how she handled the loss of her beloved husband of forty-three years.

Relief also came from new activities that unfolded in my search for healing and in many familiar activities I had done for years.

Larada Horner-Miller, A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, (2017): xvii, xviii.

Resources In This Book

As I wrestled with what I wanted to share in this book, my teacher-side came out and I added appendices galore to help the struggling wounded hearts who read this book deal with their grief.

The appendices I included are:

  • Appendix A—It’s a God thing!
    • I listed the many God incidents that occurred during those three months from Mom getting sick and dying:
  • Appendix B—Activities I did
    • I listed the activities I did after Mom died. Notice I focused on grief, but mostly the activities were a part of my normal life.
  • Appendix C—Books and websites that were helpful to me
  • Appendix D—Workbook
    • Healing from grief requires active participation if you want to get past the pain and the loss to the other side—to thrive more than just survive. I listed a few questions and activities to get the juices flowing after reading this book.

Finally,

In a unique twist, I didn’t write when Dad died—I focused on Mom. I wrote poetry and prose when Mom died. After Mom’s death, the poetry came in torrential waves! With every outpouring, more and more of me healed.

We must face our parents’ death—it is inevitable, but how we handle it is our choice. Originally, the title for this book was “I Grew Up to Be the Woman I Always Wanted to Be,” but that didn’t go with the subject, so I changed it. I wrote a poem with that title and will leave you with it by downloading it. (Download here!)

Have you lost a parent? Both parents? If both, do you feel like an adult orphan? How did you handle the loss?


News, News, News!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?
Read, reflect and respond!

~I heard yesterday that my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? is a finalist in the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. Winners will be announced in a couple of weeks.

~Wish You Were Here: A Novel by Jodi Picoult, one of my favorite authors, deals with the COVID pandemic in fiction as opposed to my nonfiction book. Check it out! Interesting story!

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo
Grab your SmatPhone & read this hilarious book!

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Colorado · family · Friends · My Thoughts

A Reunion Reborn!

Last week on Saturday, August 27, 2022, the Branson-Trinchera Reunion saw a rebirth after being canceled for two years because of the pandemic. The creative committee came up with a different format, which attracted younger alumni.

So, this is how the day looked! The celebration started off at Branson’s new amazing football field with two games—first the junior high and then the high school. Many alumni circled the football field to cheer on both teams. We didn’t have football when I was in school. In fact, the football field is where the baseball field used to be!

The senior class manned the concession stand and provided needed refreshments on a hot day. What fun I had talking to old friends in the cafeteria—hugs galore!

After the two school games, there was an alumni flag football game. Several recent graduates stood in front of me and my car during the game, eager to get back on the field. As the high school game drew closer and closer to its finish, they put on their cleats and stretched muscles, ready to get on the field once more. During this game, the festivities began in the gym with an ice cream and dessert social. The committee provided the ice cream; the alumni brought the delicious desserts.

Keeping with tradition, the committee displayed Tom Cummins’ amazing historical photo collection and land plats. Many alumni with their families strolled by the photos, and I heard exclamations and shouts when someone recognized a relative.

The atmosphere of lifelong friendships and storytelling filled the air. What a pleasant experience! We only had a few “ole timers,” but people clustered around them to show their love and respect. The sad truth—we don’t have many “ole timers” left!

Kaylinn Gilstrap, a professional photographer, added an art show to the festivities, with its opening reception on August 13, 2022 from 3:00—6:00 PM and its closing reception coinciding with the reunion from 5:00—7:00 PM. This art show added quite an artistic flair to the traditional reunion. Many people ventured up to the old County Garage building to view the amazing artwork from many local artists and alumni.

I served on this committee for about twenty-five years, and we had seen a major decline in attendance. The “ole timers” were passing away. Many alumni from the 60s, 70s and 80s, for whatever reason, chose not to attend the reunion, and I don’t understand why. I love the fact that we had it this year—maybe different, but we had it.

When I first saw the flyer announcing a change of date and format, I have to admit I was skeptical. I couldn’t see how our elderly alumni could attend the football games, then stay for the social time with ice cream and desserts. I thought it would be too long! It worked!

Finally, it wasn’t the old format, but is that so bad? This innovative committee worked hard to provide the event we all love—a time to get together with family and friends. You can’t beat that.   

And now looking towards 2023 and the future. Next year we will celebrate 100 years for the Branson school. What a time to celebrate! (The black-and-white picture is the original Branson School!)


~WATCH MY NEW INTERVIEW on Douglas Coleman’s show dated August 5, 2022.

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme. Reunion
Grab a last drink on the beach with Flippo & enjoy!

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

~Wish You Were Here: A Novel by Jodi Picoult, one of my favorite authors, deals with the COVID pandemic in fiction as opposed to my nonfiction book. Check it out! Interesting story!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better meme. Reunion
Read, reflect and respond!

~I’m not afraid of tough subjects like the coronavirus. Yes, I get people are tired of hearing about it, but. . . Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Colorado · family · My Thoughts

Colorado At Its Best: A Fun-Filled Weekend!

On Friday, July 29, I returned to Colorado for a fun-filled time with my brother. We took our cousin Lisa to Cuchara, Colorado, on Saturday. Then Sunday we rose early and drove to Denver to see the Colorado Rockies play the Dodgers. Then, Monday morning, we got up and went to the Denver Broncos Training Camp! We explored the beautiful Colorado mountains and then went on to Denver and a sports adventure! What fun we had!

Cuchara, Colorado with Lisa

On July 25, 2022, I received this text from Lisa: “Are you in Branson or back in Tijeras?”

I let her know I plan to go to Branson the next day and found out she would be in the area for a while, so we agreed to find some time together.

When I arrived in Branson on Friday, July 29, my brother and I put together plans for the next couple of days.

“How about we take Lisa to Cuchara tomorrow?” He asked. I texted her, and we made our plans.

I said, “Let’s go to the Bronco’s Training Camp on Monday.” My brother stated, “If we’re going to Denver, why not go to a Rockies’ baseball game on Sunday?” So the die was cast!

On Saturday morning, Lisa met us in Branson, we left Branson at 9:30 am and drove to Cuchara, a lovely drive west of Trinidad through the mountains. We stopped by Monument Lake, driving around the lake and marveling at the high level of water in the lake. Then we drove by North Lake and I reminisced about attending church camp at Camp Salvation near the lake.

From there we drove to Stonewall, Colorado and stopped at the store there, a favorite of ours for fun touristy items. It was on to Cuchara where we toured some stores. We ate lunch at the Dog Bar outside on the patio, enjoying all the dogs and their owners at this fun-loving bar.

After lunch, we continued our shopping tour and ended up at the Yacht Club for a drink and more conversation. My brother and I so enjoy any time we have with Lisa!

On the drive home, my brother saw a bear, but Lisa and I, heavy in conversation, didn’t see it, so we turned around to find this wildlife, but we didn’t. We hit a heavy rainstorm which we all celebrated because of the need for rain.

What a delightful time we had with Lisa in our favorite funky mountain town.

Trip to Denver & Colorado Rockies Game

On Sunday morning, we left Branson at 7:00 am, just in case there was any traffic issues on I-25 northbound. Because it’s a four hour drive, we cushioned the arrival time, just in case. It was a pleasant trip with no problems.

Once we got to Denver, finding Coors Field became a major task. My brother thought there would be signage up on I-25, but there was nothing. My Car Play app on my Jeep and iPhone weren’t working correctly, so that added to the confusion. After wandering around downtown, finally we found the Coors Field’s parking lot, parked and caught the shuttle to the field.

Because we arrived early, we had lots of time to walk around the stadium and enjoy the sights. We each bought a foot-long hotdog and delicious fries for lunch. After eating, we went to the store and looked around, but fans overflowed, so we got out quickly.

Then we went upstairs to the Rooftop Bar and took pictures. Up on that level, purple seats identify “A Mile High” in that level.

What a hot day! 90 degrees and we were in the sun for most of the game. I enjoyed the game, having bought a score sheet and pencil so I would watch it closer. When we were in high school, I kept a score book for my brother’s games and gave it to him as a graduation gift, but he had to help me with some notations—too many years away from baseball!

My brother is a San Francisco Giants fan, so he didn’t want the Dodgers to win, but they did and there were Dodger fans everywhere!

After the game we found our hotel, but it wasn’t where we thought it was going to be—within blocks of Dove Valley and the Bronco Training Camp the next morning. We had a delicious Mexican dinner at the Hacienda Colorado next door and spent the evening relaxing and watching TV.

Denver Broncos Training Camp, Denver, Colorado
Me and my brother waiting in line for the Broncos Training Camp, Denver, Colorado
Me and My Brother Waiting in Line for the Broncos Training Camp

On Monday morning, we again got up early, grabbed a ridiculously minimalist breakfast at the hotel and drove to Dove Valley. We arrived before the parking opened next to the training camp, so we parked some ways away and walked.

By doing that, we got in line ahead of those parking close to the camp. We waited in line from 8:00 – 9:00 am. When they opened the gate, the workers controlled the crowd, and we had front-row seats (on grass). Then, we had to wait another hour before it started. The Broncos provided free water and also had plenty of misters where fans could cool down.

Being avid Bronco fans, my brother and I have wanted to attend training camp for years, but it never worked out before. What an experience!

There we sat in the blazing, scorching sun—ended up being 94 degrees! I wore a bare shoudlers top—I have no idea what I was thinking! But I did have a light hoodie with me and I alternately draped it over my shoulders and then my legs.

The whole thing fascinated me with all the veteran players I love and the new players vying for a position on the team. When Russell Wilson, our new quarterback gained from Seattle, came on the field, the crowd exploded.

For most of it, we could clearly see the drills and the running backs were so close, it was exceptional. Onedrill they did farther away with the non-players standing between us and the action. That drug on and on!

Our kicker, Brandon McManus, entertained the crowd during one part. He got fairly close to us and kicked the football into the crowd. Fans threw it back to him, then he moved farther back and kicked again. This went on for quite a while.

At the end, some players came by all us crazy fans lined up for autographs and high fives. My brother still for the high fives but gave up for the autographs. I got a few.

Russell practiced with two receivers right in front of us for a long time after the autograph time began and regular practice ended. Then he took off his helmet and started autographs at the end of line to the right of me.

Hot, tired and not feeling optimistic he’d come as far as where I stood, I gave up and found my brother further up the hill. I went to the bathroom and talked to a woman in there who worked at the camp.

She said I shouldn’t have given up because Russell walks down the entire line and gives autographs to everyone he can! It devastated me! So close to getting his autograph!

On our trip home, we left the craziness of Denver and ate lunch in Castle Rock and drove home. All in all, it was a fantastic time for us, but we both decided we never needed to return to training camp.

Finally,

Are you a sports fan? If so, which team? Which sport?


~NEW—Join me for my One-Year Anniversary of the Release of Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Celebration on Zoom Wednesday, August 24, 2022 at 7:30 PM MST. Email me at larada@icloud.com for the Zoom meeting information.

~WATCH MY NEW INTERVIEW on Douglas Coleman’s show dated August 5, 2022.

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

~Wish You Were Here: A Novel by Jodi Picoult, one of my favorite authors, deals with the COVID pandemic in fiction as opposed to my nonfiction book. Check it out! Interesting story!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Baby boomer · family · Friends · My Thoughts

Sixty-nine tomorrow—It’s my birthday!

Happy birthday - sixty-nine

I turn sixty-nine years-old tomorrow and wonder about how quickly I got here! Let me ponder life at the end of my sixth decade.

At each major birthday in my life, I’ve advanced easily, without regret or any desire to be younger and go backwards. I have always felt age was an attitude and looked forward to the future with anticipation! Often, I still feel sixteen inside!

Turning Thirty

When I moved from twenty-nine to thirty, my family gathered together at my parent’s home in Branson and celebrated with a watermelon (crepe paper around it). Watermelons have always been my favorite fruit and my young nephew giggled as he presented it to me. They also gave me a survival kit for me that included a pair of my grandma’s underwear (see picture above) and a set of false teeth. And then my Aunt Willie added to the festivities and decorated a cake which said, “One foot on the grave and one on a banana peel!”

Turning Sixty

Sadly, when I turned sixty, Mom had just died, so my heart broke on my birthday because I found out she had big plans for my big birthday that year. But I enjoyed being with Lin, my brother and Aunt Willie. Mom always made birthdays memorable, and Lin continues to do that.

Turning Sixty-Nine

My beautiful birthday bouqet - sixty-nine
Beautiful birthday bouquet from Lin

Yesterday morning, Lin brought me a beautiful bouquet to start my birthday celebration; he said! Last night he forewarned me I needed to be dressed and ready to leave here at 5:15 PM for dinner tomorrow night—mysterious and so much fun!

At sixty-nine, I have had an amazing life, filled with much heartache and so much joy. Isn’t that what many people experience in this life? Last November, I came up with a resounding motto when I took part in a blog challenge where I posted blogs daily for the month of November. That motto is “a baby boomer with a purpose.”

You might wonder what that motto means to me. When it hit me so sharply last year, I felt deep down that described who I am. Yes, I’m a baby boomer, and just because I’m a designated “Senior Citizen,” I’m not done!

I’m not done with

  • Challenging myself—I continue as a lifelong learner.
  • Growth—My Christian beliefs grow daily. My spiritual life expands.
  • Adventure—In Lin, I have the perfect life partner to look at life as an adventure.
  • Writing—I’m working on my seventh book and have three poetry books and a fiction in the queue.
  • Traveling—Lin and I have two cruises planned for this year and more trips for 2023.
  • Dancing—I will dance ‘til I die because Harold and Elva Horner were my dancing parents!

So, as I face the end of my 60s, I look back and marvel. Yes, I have had several health issues over these last nine years, but I have had so many blessings. And I choose to focus on the blessings—my late-in-life writing career, my delightful, dear husband, my brother and family ranch and my exceptional family and friends. During these last nine years, I have hundreds of hilarious memories with each of these people and on our family ranch.

So, yes, as a part of being fully alive, I take part in a variety of sites in the social media world. On LinkedIn.com, I met another senior with a purpose, Idessa Toney, whose website, Seniors with a Purpose, and her YouTube channel, captured my attention. Idessa and I share a passion for living life now, no matter what age. Be sure and visit her website.

As much as I love my parents, I remember them so old at sixty-nine. Is that true or my perception only? My dad had breathing issues, and he started downhill about this age. He died at seventy-eight. At sixty-nine, my mom had been a widow for a year, burdened with the loss of her life partner. I had the privilege of being closely connected with her until her death at eighty-four. Yes, I feel much younger than I remember them to be!

Finally,

Tomorrow I age one year, but I look forward to my last year in my 60s. I trust my God to provide a memorable, fun-filled year. Then, look out 70s, because I know they offer adventure, life and surprises. I opt for it all!

How do you feel about aging? Do you dread a certain age? Do you have a motto?



~WATCH MY NEW INTERVIEW on Chat & Spin Radio, Friday, June 24 at 1:00 PM. Join us for a lively discussion of my books!

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

family · My Thoughts · Recovery · Sexual Abuse

Confusion About My Womanhood? A War Raged!

Confusion about my womanhood

I experienced major confusion about my womanhood for many years. A silent war raged inside me, yet I didn’t understand why. Many women suffer from this same silent killer, and I feel my story is appropriate as the USA again becomes divided over yet another issue—Roe vs. Wade.

You may wonder why I choose to talk about my internal battle on this Mother’s Day. In 1993, my mom played a key role in healing my heart over this tumultuous experience, and her response changed my life.

Let me state my position early so you can decide whether to read on. I am ProChoice. Two family members molested me as a child, causing this stance. I do not support abortion as a means of after-thought birth control, but I support it for mother’s health reasons, rape and incest cases.

As an incest survivor, someone damaged my femininity, confusing me about my womanhood, at an early age. With one perpetrator, this abuse started when I was about four and continued until I was eight or nine. It began with him touching me inappropriately and it ended with him forcing me to touch him. God protected me when the government drafted him, which magically took him away and ended the abuse. I’m sure the next step for him was the rape of an eight years old!

I just did the math and realized he stopped when I was eight or nine. I had always thought it lasted until I was twelve. It seemed to go on forever!

As I’ve read similar stories this week—one little girl pregnant at eleven by her uncle, I had to respond. I’ve spent this week pondering this subject and its effect on me. Specifically, I wondered what would have happened to my family if that person had raped me.

We lived in a small rural ranching community. Everybody knew everybody. At eight or nine years old, I was in the second or third grade, more interested in riding my bike, doing well at school, talking to my girlfriends, and playing with dolls.

Because I would have been so young, I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant. But had the rape happened to me, me and my family would have been destroyed. Yes, the molestation damaged me, but I kept it secret for thirty-five years. The rape would have been a different story, with immediate outrageous repercussions.

Why do I open this dark curtain to one of my deepest pains? Incest and rape wound little girls, grown women, whatever their age, setting them up to be the victims of rape. If forced to keep the pregnancy of a rape, every day the victim would face their perpetrator, looking at that child and the rape would happen again and again. We can’t let that happen.

Women in a line Confusion about my womanhood

Women, we must unite and stand up for our sisters whose lives have been so damaged by the violent act of rape and incest. We cannot punish the victim of this hideous offense by demanding she keep a baby, the result of violence against the mother.

This message seems especially important and poignant on this day, set aside for mothers across our country. We need not force motherhood upon a woman who is the victim of a crime against her.

Let me share the gift my mom gave me and why I want to honor her today. After I got out of CoDA treatment in 1988, when I first confronted my parents about what had happened to me at the hands of family members, they sat shocked. It totally affected how we met together as a family from then on.

Later, I mustered up the courage to ask Mom about a time I remembered her coming into my bedroom, and I was being molesting and she turned around and walked away. She said she didn’t remember.

In 1993, my confusion of my womanhood, caused by my incest/molestation issues, raged out of control, so I went into Sexual Trauma treatment. The counselor gathered information from the clients about key areas that needed discussion during the family week for healing. So, during that special week, my second husband, Mom and Dad attended. I talked to each about pressing issues. When I got to Mom, I told her about her denial of that incident in my bedroom. She sobbed and sobbed, and said, “I am so sorry.” Her admission healed something so deep inside of me, and our relationship zoomed to a different level after that.

My confusion about me as a woman placed me in many compromising situations. I suffered domestic violence at the hands of my first husband. During my drinking days, my confusion put me in many risky situations, doing things I never thought I would do. Luckily, no one raped me, but after I sobered up, I wondered about my promiscuity. It all tied back to being a little girl robbed of her precious identity as a female and wounded until I sought healing. It has taken decades to resolve this issue for me.

Many wounded women, victims of incest and molestation, aren’t as lucky as me. They fall prey to predators that rape them and leave them to face the choice of what to do with the results of that violent act. Roe vs. Wade gave them an option. With it gone, they have no options.

Finally, I share my intimate story to, hopefully, open your eyes to whom many rape victims are—woman confused about their womanhood, possibly wounded at the hands of a childhood predator and then once more, attacked and victimized as a rape victim. I pray my story makes you think differently about the repercussions for these women with the loss of Roe vs. Wade. We need to protect these women, not victimize them once again.

I want to provide some resources for incest, rape or domestic violence victims:


~NEWEST PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at https://liveonpurposeradio.com/category/podcast/

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flipp meme

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

family · My Thoughts

A Mother-in-Law? Two I Cherished!

During my life, I have not had the stereotypical mother-in-law. My two precious mothers-in-law have blessed me. My first, Lucy Prichard, became my spiritual mother, and my last one, Betty Daunt, healed not only my spirit but my body and soul. This tribute focuses on Betty because she died a couple of weeks ago.

I just attended the memorial service for Betty Daunt last Tuesday, January 18, 2022. I cried deeply that day, knowing I had such profound grief. At the service, one of her daughters hugged me, crying and said, “Mom thought of you like a daughter.” I knew that to be true, and I cried.

How Betty Affected Me

In 1993, I became deathly ill and doctors couldn’t explain what was wrong. After returning home after a ten-day stay in the hospital, Betty offered to do a weekly massage with no charge and I saw my brother-in-law’s partner for weekly acupuncture appointments. I left the hospital not able to go to the bathroom; after one week of these dual appointments I could go. Betty continued the weekly massages for months until I got on my feet again. I continued receiving massages from her for almost thirty years.

I divorced Betty’s son in 1994 and continued to see Betty monthly because she was my massage therapist. She handled the divorce admirably, seldom ever mentioning her son to me. And I continued to think of her as my mother-in-law. Because we had been close before the divorce, we kept up our relationship with my massage appointment and many dinners out and evenings at Popejoy Theater.

Betty filled every time out with her with lots of laughter and joy. I still hear her infectious giggle, which truly was a titter.

But Betty went beyond fun. She touched me deeply and respected my body in her massages, bringing new life to the wounded areas, especially focusing on the hurt little girl’s pain I had carried for my lifetime.

Massage by my mother-in-law

When she massaged me, I got to the point when Betty flipped me over on my stomach, I fell sleep, a deep renewing sleep and only woke when she finished.

Foot massage by my mother-in-law

Early in her treating me, I memorized all of her movements and areas she concentrated on—and yelped like a wounded pup when she did foot reflexology on my feet and hit one of my sensitive sinus points. Betty used a pencil to touch the various points on my feet, and I swore she dug into those areas until I watched her treat my ex-husband’s feet. She did not.

After every massage, Betty served me a cup of water and encouraged me to go home and not touch my computer. She knew I worked overtime on my computer.

With her hilarious sense of humor, Betty trained me to jiggle my breasts to avoid breast cancer. During each massage, she’d ask, “Have you jiggled her breasts today?” I laughed and promised her I had!

After Mom died in 2013, Betty consoled. She spent an hour before my treatment holding me and crying with me over my major loss. She loved my parents and enjoyed her trips to Branson, Colorado, and to our ranch. My favorite memory of her there: as Dad drove out of the canyon up a steep four-wheel-drive trail, Betty dove to the floor and said when we topped out, “Next time, I’m going to walk!”

During my massage and any time we were together, Betty shared her spiritual path and wisdom. She invited me to attend a conference in 1992 for Alternative Healers. We saw Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer. What a day that was for both of us, and we often talked about the influence that day had on our spiritual paths.

A few years ago, Betty stopped doing massages, and I tried other massage therapists, but they didn’t compare. I haven’t had a massage in a couple years, and interestingly, I’ve had major sinus and stomach issues since. I wonder???

Betty always challenged me in all my thinking about self-care and repeated each time as we grow older, we need to stretch daily. Then she would ask if I did. She stayed on top of my health in all ways.

For our last time together, I joined Betty and her daughter at Betty’s grandson’s baseball game in the spring of 2021. We laughed and caught up on each other’s lives. What a wonderful time we had together. After that, we only talked on the phone.

As I ponder Betty’s influence on me over the last thirty years, I realize how big it was—much bigger than a mother-in-law relationship. Because of her, I thought outside of the Western medical world and sought massage and acupuncture. I took herbs and additives she suggested. I witnessed a devote Catholic woman who spoke freely of her beliefs and her willingness to embrace a wide spiritual path.

Finally, I have spoken mostly about my mother-in-law, Betty Daunt. Lucy Prichard touched my life deeply too, but I needed to honor the place Betty played in my life. Thank you, Betty, for your deep love of life, health and me!


~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three Podcasts with my interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

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~Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Dancing · family · Friends · Holidays · My Thoughts

New Year’s Eve Memories & Shenanigans!

Happy New Year Ev'es

New Year’s Eve 2021 is here! I always get nostalgic thinking of past New Year’s Eves, so I’d like to share some with you.

New Year’s Eve With Bub & Lela

My brother, Bub, and his wife, Lela were my favorite New Year’s Eve partiers! For a couple of years, we went out to a bar in Clearlake Oaks, California and danced to country and western music. They followed one band and became good friends with the whole band and their spouses, so it felt like family.

My sister-in-law, the perfect playmate, dressed up with me, and we sprayed glitter in our hair and out the door we went. After doing that a couple of years, we became known as the “Glitter Girls.”

When the bar closed, we often went to someone’s house to continue the party—being in our early thirties, we had the energy to stay up late, drink a lot and keep going. One year, we came home after the party at someone’s house and went through all their pictures. We finally went to bed around 5:00 AM.

One year, I rode out to California with a friend on Amtrak. We woke up New Year’s Eve morning in the party car, and we had a party day traveling to Sacramento.

Square & Round Dancing on This Night

When I started square dancing, I loved to dance on New Year’s Eve with the tradition of ending the year with a dance, then starting the new year with another one.

For a couple of years, my ex and I drove to Raleigh, North Carolina, to spend Christmas with his brother and then attend a round dance festival at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina that ended on New Year’s Eve. During the festival before the holiday, Charlie Lovelace and Wayne and Barbara Blackford taught us some gorgeous higher-level dances. I loved being on the beach, too.

I had gotten into the habit of calling Mom in Colorado on New Year’s Eve—so, not thinking, I called her from Myrtle Beach when we got back to our room to wish her a “Happy New Year.” I didn’t realize it was late in Colorado, but she didn’t blink an eye! She was so glad to hear from me.

For several years, my ex and I went to Green Valley, Arizona, for New Year’s Eve. They served a delicious sit-down dinner, and then we square and round danced. We have so many friends in Arizona; it was a delight to celebrate with them there.

After Lin and I got together, we celebrated many years at the Albuquerque Square Dance Center with our Albuquerque square dance family. They got into the habit of observing the New York time of celebrating the New Year at 10:00 PM, our time, so we became used to an earlier night on New Year’s Eve.

Unique Night for New Year’s Eve

The most unique New Year’s Eve was Marshall Flippo’s last square dance in Green Valley, Arizona in 2017. About twenty-five callers came from all over the United States to see their mentor and friend call his last dance.

Flippo called a fun-filled dance. During the night, I saw groups of callers watching him on stage, emotions mixed for everyone.

During the amazing night, Flippo handpicked his music. He sang, “Another Square Dance Caller.” He shared a heartfelt thank you to everyone in attendance and ended his final dance with the song, “I’m Leaving Here a Better Man.” I’m sure that’s how he felt that night!

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 327.

What made that New Year’s Eve dance so unique—anyone there witnessed the end of an era with Flippo ending his square dance calling career. I felt honored to be there!

The Last Few Years on New year’s Eve

For a variety of health reasons of ours, we’ve been at-home the last few years on New Year’s Eve—not my idea of how to spend this holiday. And yes, during the pandemic last year we watched TV to ring in the new year.

Finally,

I enjoy celebrating the end of the current year and the anticipatory feelings of the new one coming. Putting on a silly paper hat, blowing a horn and throwing up confetti make me feel celebratory, but I love to observe this festive night dancing and being with friends.

Do you celebrate New Year’s Eve? If so, how? What is your favorite New Year’s Eve memory?


Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

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Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

EXCITING NEWS HERE!

Christmas · Christmas · family · Friends · Holidays · My Thoughts

The Day After Christmas—Now What?

Girl sitting sad the day afer Christmas

The day after Christmas is here! Santa needs a vacation. Now, what? As a child, I focused on playing with my new toys on this day. As an adult, what do I do?

Looking Back

Looking back on my Christmas preparations, I created a calendar for a family gift. I wrote, designed and published our annual Christmas newsletter. Then, I sent cards to friends far and near. During Advent, I took part in a group who read Richard Rohr’s Preparing for Christmas, then we shared comments and remarks on WhatsApp because we had an international group participating. What a rewarding group that was!

Christmas Eve

Lin and Larada on Christmas Eve
Lin and Larada on Christmas Eve

I had an errands day in Albuquerque, getting a prescription and some groceries. At 5:00 pm, Lin and I virtually attended my church’s, Hope in the Desert Episcopal Church, Christmas Eve service. It started with “La Posada,” a Mexican tradition of the pregnant Mary and Joseph going house to house and being denied any lodging. The last home welcomes them in. In its simplicity, it was beautiful.

After the service, we ate Costa Rican tamales from Lin’s ex-wife and watched two traditional Christmas movies—“Scrooge” and “It’s a Beautiful Life.” Then we watched a contemporary movie on Amazon Prime with a strong Christian message.

Christmas Day

On Christmas morning, we opened our gifts and ate blueberry empanadas from Pastian’s Bakery. After that we played two Cribbage games. Lin worked hard so I wouldn’t be skunked on Christmas Day—what a loving man! We ate a late lunch—honey-baked ham, cheesy cheddar potatoes, asparagus, and applesauce. Later, we enjoyed pecan pie. Lin added eggnog ice cream.

From that point on, Lin watched the two football games scheduled for Christmas day. That’s always shocking to me to have football at Christmas. I made a big batch of popcorn balls—my favorite Christmas goodies. I neglected to get my traditional baking in this year.

During the day, we both called friends we knew having a hard time this holiday: one who lost her dad this year and was alone, one who recently lost her husband of fifty-three years and another long-time friend in an assisted living facility. Sharing those calls made our day! We are so blessed to have each other!

The Day After Christmas

So, here we are the day after Christmas. Usually, mega commercials for after-Christmas sales dominate our TV viewing. I have seen none! Probably because the stores’ Christmas items were picked over weeks ago. I went to our grocery store on Friday, and there was hardly anything available. Is this because of shortages or supply chain irregularities because of the pandemic? Unusual, no matter what. Mom used to love to go to these sales, looking for great buys!

I’ve always enjoyed this day. As a child, I familiarized myself with my new toy. As a high school student, we stayed up late each night and watched Johnny Carson and later Jay Leno on the Tonight Show. Later, I savored the time with Dad and Mom, with stories and trips to the ranch. After my niece moved to Texas and came regularly to Branson, she arrived this day, and we looked forward to a few days of loud games at the round table with laughter and stories and trips to the ranch looking for wildlife.

Extended Christmas Season

Twelve Days of Christmas - day after Christmas

For me, just because Christmas Day is behind me, the Christmas season isn’t over. My church celebrates the “Twelve Days of Christmas” which ends on January 6 at Epiphany, “a Christian festival held on January 6 in honor of the coming of the three kings to the infant Jesus Christ.”

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epiphany

So, I keep wearing my Christmas outfits and enjoy extending the holiday. We don’t take our tree down until after Epiphany. I love this longer holiday season.

Day after Christmas

Many people have a big letdown on the day after Christmas—holiday expectations not met, memories of better times haunted by the changes today, etc. You fill in the blank with whatever weighs on you today.

Games - Day after Christmas

This year, on this day after Christmas, try something different. Call someone who may need cheering up, family or friend. Ask a family member about what Christmas was like when they were children, listen and ask questions to draw out more specifics. Dust off your stack of games and have a marathon game day. Tonight, make up some hot chocolate, grab your coat and hat to look at Christmas decorations in your area.

Finally,

The day after Christmas has arrived—enjoy it!

What are you doing today? Do you do anything traditional? If so, what?

Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

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Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

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Christmas · Christmas · family · Friends · Memoirs · My Thoughts

Homemade Christmas—I Love It!

It's a homemade Christmas!

Homemade Christmas decorations and gifts have always given me a lot of pleasure in the making! From knitting stockings to plastercraft figurines to annual family calendars, I have made quite a variety.

Homemade Stockings

I started knitting in 4-H when I was ten years old and still enjoy this productive hobby. Many years ago, I found a fantastic stocking pattern and made my first. Then I branched out, making my nieces and nephew their own with their names on them. I also did great-nieces and nephew. Recently, I have made a great-nephew one.

I didn’t limit my production of Christmas stockings to just family. Because of my close relationship, I made my best friends’ children each one, and over the years, I have knitted so many I do not know how many!

To make these colorful holiday stockings, I always use red, white and green yarn or variegated yarn, but I don’t plan out the color scheme until I start. I have to graft out the name so it will fit on half of the stocking, so that takes some designing for sure. You can see my name almost doesn’t fit. I learned from mine a trick to make long names to fit!

Homemade knitted Christmas stockings
Stockings I knitted

What a truly wonderful experience it is to finish it, then add my label that says, “From the knitting needles of Larada Horner-Miller.”

Plastercraft Figurines

As a young married couple in 1973, we didn’t have any Christmas decorations and not much money to buy them, so I found out about plastercraft, “. . .similar to ceramics, but there is no firing or kiln necessary. Simply use easy water based acrylic paints.”

https://www.plastercraft.com/#:~:text=Plastercrafts%20are%20similar%20to%20ceramics,easy%20water%20based%20acrylic%20paints.

The first year I made Santa and love the whimsical look he has on his face with his wink. The next year I added Mrs. Santa. Over the years, I have protected my favorite Christmas plastercraft figurines in my many moves. After Christmas, I always stored them on a shelf in a spare bedroom to make sure they survived any storage problem. So when Lin wanted to store them in trunks in a storage shed, I panicked, but he wraps them up carefully and they have fared well these last ten years.

My other plaster craft figurine is a Christmas tree with lights. Every year, I love putting the little light bulbs in the spots and marvel at how pretty it is lit up.

So almost fifty years later, I continue to enjoy these three items as they remind me of our many years together.

Homemade Annual Family Calendar

A couple years after my dad died, one of my team teachers, Rebecca Betzen, reached out to my mom and put together a calendar filled with a variety of pictures from my childhood to my graduation dinner for my master’s degree! Several pictures high‐lighted favorite places on our family ranch. Those pictures ignited fond memories as my mom and I flipped through the pages, and I needed that. The gift thrilled me so much that I decided to do the same thing for my own family the next year. The recipient list grew over the years, so I added my brother and sisters, my nieces and nephew, cousins and great nieces and nephews. And it’s a tradition I continued until the pandemic. We weren’t together in 2020, so I have no pictures to highlight.

Each year I highlight whoever had a special event that year, like graduations or weddings. If a family member died the previous year, I featured him or her on the cover. I also featured our family ranch on the cover of several calendars. My second cousin married in England in 2017, and Lin and I attended, with me taking lots of pictures. Her new husband said, “I bet we make the calendar next year!” And they did—front cover!

Over the years, these calendars have become keepsakes, logging the key events of each year.

My joy came when my family members opened this gift and leafed through the pages, laughing at certain pictures and making heartfelt remarks. These calendars have become a historic family document of our year together.

Larada Horner-Miller, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? (2021): 217-218.

So I didn’t make a calendar in 2020, but it’s back in 2021 and here’s the cover:

2022 Horner calendar cover - homemade

Finally,

I love making homemade Christmas decorations and gifts. As I set out my decorations I’ve made, I get nostalgic remembering sitting at the table so long ago and making them. With each stitch I knit or photo I place, I have the joy of thinking about the gift and the person I made it for. How about you? Do you make anything for Christmas gifts? If so, what?


Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

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Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

EXCITING NEWS HERE!

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family · God · My Thoughts

Advice I’d Give the Teenage Larada

Advice

Wise advice to a receptive spirit can make all the difference! The bad news—teenagers think they know everything and rarely listen. My teenager, Larada, has a receptive spirit today and agrees to listen to the wisdom of the crone Larada. For the first time, I’m using the prompt suggested by the Ultimate Blog Challenge and feel it has lots of possibility.

First, my top advice

Be yourself! As a teenager, I got so consumed by the popular view of my friends. Our jeans had to be long enough to touch the ground in the back, and we had to wear Wranglers. Once Dad bought me Levis, and I hated them. I had to have long straight hair and wore it parted on the side. I had a little curl on one side, so mine never hung straight.

By being quiet and not being authentic, people never really knew the real me because I didn’t share her. It took years to find her, but the “me” I found is delightful, energetic and a strong leader. Trust yourself!

Second piece of advice

My social life isn’t everything! Almost every Saturday night found the Horner family at a local dance, so my normal was an active social life. Then, when a snowstorm hit and we had to stay home, I mourned the loss of not being out and about.

I continued this mindset for most of my adult life, but the coronavirus pandemic forced me to learn balance in that area. Balance provides time with others, then time alone to become acquainted with the most important person in the world, me!

Third nugget of advice

Teenager listening to advic

Not having a boyfriend is okay! AS a teenager, I obsessed about boys, boyfriends, not having one, having one but thought he was the wrong one!

After periods of being single, I realized the importance of being okay as a solo. Then when I remarried, I had lots to offer to the relationship. You are enough!

Fourth snippet of advice

Be proud of your heritage. I remember being ridiculed when we went to Trinidad, Colorado, to shop. The “towny” kids called us “Sh*t kickers” which embarrassed me. Over the last seven years, I have written six books and five of them celebrate my heritage and family. Embrace your history!

Fifth morsel of advice

Don’t sweat the small stuff! Younger Larada worried about everything, spending too much time focussing on the “what ifs?”

“Let go and let God” had become a mantra of mine today, a slogan from recovery.

Last bit of advice

Focus on your spiritual life! As a teenager, I believed in Jesus, but my faith took a backseat. Popularity and peer pressure ruled my life, causing me to make life choices not centered in my faith.

Today, I have a strong faith, seasoned over the years with lots of pain, disappointments, and struggles. As I processed all of this, I leaned in closer and closer to my God.

Finally,

Teenager thinking about advice

The teenage Larada did as well as she could with her limited knowledge. As a crone, I offer my advice, Larada, for your best!

Do you talk to the younger you? If so, what do you say?


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Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Cyber Monday/Black Friday Sales

Check out Cyber Week Specials at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, on select books! 40% off of select Individual books, 40% off of select bundles and 50% off of digital copies! These books make the perfect gift for your friends and family.