'Gypsy' settles in [Muskogee Phoenix, Okla. :: ]
(Muskogee Phoenix (OK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 11--After moving from town to town as an "Air Force brat," then across the United States as a marketing professional, Lora Bitting has found a home in Muskogee.
"I've traveled all my life as a gypsy," she said. "This is the first place where I've lived for a long time. This is my parents' home."
Bitting, 61, was born in Massachusetts, but she moved with her family to various Air Force bases. She spent three years of college in California.
"But I never knew what I really wanted to do," she said. "I bounced around so much, I never got a degree."
She got a marketing job in California and then got a job with a promotional company doing motivational seminars across the country.
"Zig Ziglar, Pat Boone, I traveled with them a while," she said.
"When I went to Atlanta in 1982, I kind of fell in love with it. I called my parents and asked if they would mind packing my apartment and putting things in storage for two years."
Those two years turned into 15, she said.
Bitting came to Muskogee in the late 1990s, when her mother's health began to fail. She said she spent the past 16 or so years caring for her parents.
After her father died last December, Bitting began focusing on her career as an alternative medicine practitioner.
She lives in her parents' house with three cats and Chico -- half Australian shepherd, half red heeler and all energy.
"She probably has a 100-word vocabulary," Bitting said. " 'Don't jump on the guests' is not part of it."
Meet Lora Bitting
HOMETOWN: Chicopee Falls, Mass.
CAREER: Alternative medicine practitioner.
EDUCATION: Three years at Golden West College and Orange Coast College, both in California.
FAMILY: Sister, Jere; one dog, three cats.
RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: "I am very Christ-centered, but at this time, I don't go to a church."
HOBBIES: "I'm very crafty; I like to create things. I'm an avid reader. I like to travel, love road trips. My next passion is restoring this home."
God, country, laughter
lessons from parents
Hatbox-sized rooms with tiny pieces of furniture and tiny people fill one wall of Lora Bitting's office.
These rooms, plus similar rooms all over the house, were assembled by her mother, Dorris M. Bitting.
"They make it a magical and joyful space," Lora Bitting said, recalling her parents' creative and adventurous spirit.
"A large part of who I am and what I am is because of my parents," Lora Bitting said. "They were very comforting, homey people. They were happy people, they could find laughter in the darkest situations -- and they taught me that. They taught me about putting God first, God and country. We were all very patriotic. I like to make a difference in my country as well as my community."
Bitting said her mother was well-known for her miniature rooms. She said her mother collected most of the rooms' furnishings.
"She had a talent for making some of the things as well," Bitting said. She said her mother made wigs and elaborate dresses for the dolls who "lived" in the miniature rooms.
Bitting said her father, Jesse Bitting, spent 25 years with the Air Force, 25 years with McDonnell Douglas and 10 years as a consultant. As a result, she said, she and her sister traveled often while growing up.
"My four happiest growing-up years were in Mt. Clemens, Michigan; about 50 miles south of Detroit," she said. "Our favorite thing to do when Dad was not overseas was get in the car for the weekend and to drive through the countryside."
She said her father also was an inventor.
"When I was writing his obituary, I found a medal with a newspaper clipping," she said. "He had won a medal for inventing something that could take ice off of airplane wings."
Bitting's mother died in 2008. Her father died in 2013.
way of life for 20 years
Bitting has been studying and practicing alternative medicine for at least 20 years.
She said she has experienced how it works.
"Alternative medicine, I'm convinced, saved my life in 1983," she said. "I had what seemed like the flu. I had an internist give me three antibiotics, and I had to take those antibiotics 10 days each. I got so sick, I could not work."
She said a roommate suggested she visit an electrodermal screening practitioner. Electrodermal screening reads the body to see whether the organs are in balance, she said.
"The practitioner said I had pesticide poisoning," she said. "I knew it was true because the apartment complex where I was living had been sprayed for bugs. Before I got sick, they spilled one of the containers in the bathroom."
She said the practitioner gave her a homeopathic remedy "based on what my body needed."
Bitting later studied Emotional Freedom Technique, which she said helps people recover from trauma.
"Every time you experience trauma, your body experiences an electric surge," she said. "If you can close that circuit, healing happens."
She said the therapy is based on the ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture, which teaches that the body has certain energy meridians.
"It's not talk therapy," she said. "Once you start tapping, the pain of the trauma goes away. Not the memory of the trauma, but the pain. The memory just becomes like a movie."
feels like home
A neighborhood walk led Bitting to the Muskogee home where her parents -- then she, herself -- would live.
Bitting said her parents moved to the area in 1989 from California to escape the earthquakes. After nearly four months of searching for a house, Bitting's parents were about to buy a house she said they really didn't want. She recalled taking a walk in the neighborhood the day the real estate agent was to pick up the deposit check.
"It was noon and I never walked the neighborhood that time of day," Bitting said. "On that day, I noticed a street I had never noticed before and I walked down it to see what was there. At the end of the street were three brand-new homes being built and one was a one-story. I walked through the home and discovered it was exactly what my mother was looking for. It felt like home."
Bitting said she learned the house was for sale, then ran to where her parents were staying.
"And just as my father handed a deposit check to the Realtor, I grabbed the check out of their hands and tore it into pieces, screaming 'I found our house,'" she said.
She said that after her father died, she prayed for guidance on whether to keep the house. Bitting said she believes angels had taken her to that house.
The house is now filled with what Bitting said is "80 years of memories from around the world."
Bitting also has taken steps to make the house her own.
She turned an old wooden desk chair into a front yard swing. It hangs from chains attached to a wooden frame in front of Bitting's office window.
"I call it my gratitude swing," she said. "When Dad was sick, I was pretty stressed. I would sit out there and let all the stress just settle to the ground."
HOW DID YOU BECOME AN OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE?
"I came here to care for my parents and when I made the decision to move from the big city to Muskogee, Oklahoma, I cried for three days, thinking that I wouldn't have a life. But I can tell you, my, the quality of my life is amazing and I wouldn't have it any other way."
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT MUSKOGEE?
"The people and the pace of life. When I do go to a big city, I love the scenic drive between points. I like the community consciousness, we're advanced-thinking, with all the music, the festivals, lots of joyful events. We're sculpting our community life in a very joyful way and I like that."
WHAT WOULD MAKE MUSKOGEE A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE?
"Think out-of-the-box more in their investigation and use of the latest that science and technology have to offer, especially when it comes to health and wellness. Too often, people dismiss an unfamiliar idea just because they haven't seen or heard of it, or studied the science behind it yet."
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING IN MUSKOGEE?
Alternative health practitioner.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
"I don't have any spare time. I am one person; this is a large home with a large yard. Between taking care of the yard and the house and the animals, estate issues and trying to start my business, I don't have a lot of spare time."
WHAT OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE DO YOU ADMIRE?
"There are a lot of neat women out there. One of the most public and amazing to me is Sue Harris. Just this month, I've gotten to know Andrea Chancellor more and just hearing her address a group on community issues, and I have just been blown away with how brilliant she is. I also just adore ShIronbutterfly and Oscar Ray, those are just amazing people."
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE THING TO HAPPEN TO YOU IN MUSKOGEE?
"The Chamber of Commerce, a couple of years ago, gave me Volunteer of the Year award, but I don't think I deserved it. They were very gracious that year."
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP MUSKOGEE IN 50 WORDS OR FEWER?
"I love this place. It feels like home to me. I love being able to go to the driver's license office and get in and out in five minutes. In a big city, that's an all-day event. I love the people and the friendliness here."
(c)2014 the Muskogee Phoenix (Muskogee, Okla.)
Visit the Muskogee Phoenix (Muskogee, Okla.) at muskogeephoenix.com
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