The Phases of Christmas

There are different phases of grief, it is a process. And this year, this Christmas is a big milestone as far as that process goes.  The first holidays without loved ones are especially hard.  This entry is very raw and very vulnerable.  Honestly it makes me a bit uncomfortable, but if you are going to be honest and pour your heart out, then do it with purpose.  I am not the first to be here and I will not be the last.This is the end of this year, the end of all the loss and the end of the sadness. So, here it is, for anyone who might be going through the same:

Phase 1
I woke up for the first time in my life to an empty, quiet house on Christmas morning. I’m still not sure how to feel about that. I walked around and my Christmas lights were beautiful, the Christmas tree was beautiful, but it was so quiet. There was no one in the kitchen making breakfast for hungry eyes. There was no one inspecting the gifts under the tree. There was no Christmas music playing, or the sound of quiet conversation and laughter as people who got up early tried to be quiet and considerate of people who were still sleeping.

How lucky I was and have been, to have had so many wonderful Christmases filled with family. And how many people wake up on Christmas morning alone, like me that morning?
All the sudden I felt so much love for my mother. Every year from the time she had her first child at 27, until the Christmas right before she passed away when she was 74, she made an amazing home where everyone wanted to come and have Christmas morning. I thought of all the years that I woke up, ready to have breakfast and rip open presents. I thought of when I was a child and my sister and I had the tradition of getting up at 5am to play Monopoly until 6, and then would sneak out to see what was in our stockings, and then gently, carefully put everything back in our stockings. We would go back to play Monopoly again until 7am (when Mom and Dad said we could wake them up).
And I remember even after I’d grown up and moved away, making sure that I was home for Christmas, driving sometimes on Christmas Eve then wrapping all the gifts when I got in. Most of the time Mom’s gifts had already been wrapped as she would have bought them months earlier. When I was young and broke, I could afford the gifts but not always the wrapping paper and accessories. So I would wait until I got home to raid Mom’s impressive wrapping paper, ribbon and bow collection.
And wrapping was an art in our family. It wasn’t just wrapping a simple gift, no, it was trying to be mischievous and fool the receiver. A small box would be wrapped and then placed in a larger box and wrapped and placed in another larger box and wrapped again. There would be candy and buttons and things that make noise that would be placed in a box that held a book, so that when the gift with shaken, they would never know that it was just a book.
For many years I was The unofficial photographer of Christmas morning. When everyone got up and started to unwrap the gifts. it was I who would capture it all. All the wonder, and happiness, and family togetherness, and laughter, and surprise, and delight, and love of Christmas morning.
I wonder if my wonderful, sweet, brave mother ever spent a Christmas morning alone? If she had ever woken up on Christmas morning to an empty house? She came from a large family and so did Dad, so did she ever have that experience? She was married at 26, had children by 27. And did Dad ever wake up and spend a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day alone? It’s amazing how many questions you think of to ask your parents after they’re gone. Ask them now. I am acutely aware that they are gone. And I miss them so very much.
I’m blessed to have friends who have become my family with whom to spend Christmas dinner. And even more who have extended wonderful invitations. Life is a balance of appreciating what is gone and accepting and being thankful for what is now.
Phase 2
As I’m getting ready and going around the house, the memory of Last Christmas Creeps in. I was so sad and depressed… it was awful. I showered my Dad with as many gifts as I could possibly afford, getting him everything from new shoes to funny things for his cell phone, to clothes, to socks to everything I could possibly think of. I was trying desperately to make up for the fact that he was so miserable without Mom. I thought that maybe if I gave him enough gifts that he liked, I could make him smile an forget that he was miserable, if only for a second.
I buzzed around smiling and being Jolly, but I think he knew. And I remember my ex, who was so completely disinterested, but who tried to pretend anyway. Looking back he was always on his cell phone, now I know it was talking with strippers and prostitutes even then. I lavished him with gifts too, trying to bury the guilt of having involved him in my ordeal of Mom dying and then having to live with my terminally ill father.
I bought him a huge Craftsman tool box among other expensive things. Looking back I was trying to fill the terrible hold that grief had left inside of me by trying to make those in my life happy.  And trying to make up for the fact that life had imploded with death and being a full time caregiver. I thought that if I could give enough gifts, make enough people smile, try to make enough people happy, then maybe I could forget my grief for just a little while too. It didn’t work.
And last year, after a delicious Christmas dinner, it was time to take Dad back to the rehab center. I picked him up that morning and had to have him back before midnight that night. It was miserable too because he wanted more than anything to just be home. It was heartbreaking to leave him there Christmas night. And even more heartbreaking to go back exhausted to the empty, loveless house that I called home.
And that is why I even if I have sad moments now this Christmas, even when I shed tears and miss my parents so very much, I’m incredibly thankful that no Christmas will be as horrible as last year – hands down the worst holidays of my life. It is why I face this Christmas with an open heart and understand that there will be some heartbreak and that’s okay. Because last Christmas was the most heartbreaking Christmas of all, and I’m glad for all the opportunities for joy this year has given me. And I’m thankful for what the next year seems to hold. There’s been a lot of lost this year, but I’m still here. I still have the ability to love and to trust and to believe in people. And that in itself is a huge gift wrapped in a big bow.
Phase 3
I realized that I had the hang of this. That I could do this. The Yule Log was playing with a pretty fire and Christmas music. The cats were running around with new toys. I heard from many family members and friends exchanging Christmas and holiday wishes. I was feeling lots of love. It still felt really weird and surreal as I looked at pictures of Mom and Dad and thought of Christmas in my childhood.
Phase 4
Christmas dinner with at a friend’s house. There was rushing around to get everything  done and on the table at the same time.  There were people who loved me and who wanted me there.  And that felt really good.  It hurts to have my parents gone.  But I have found my roots, my family of choice.
There is validation and vindication at the same time. It feels good to be back, to have made it through this huge emotional time.  It feels good to have it done, because I feared the unknown of the holidays.  I have lost both parents, three siblings, one boyfriend and all of his family in the past 18 months. And now I have gone through the first Christmas without any of them. And I made it. If I made it through the past 18 months, I can make it through anything.
There is nothing more to dread. No more dates of the unknown, no more huge emotional triggers or timeframes.  New Years will be pretty easy – a celebration of saying goodbye to the bad, and saying hello to the wonderful happiness that is coming. I shed the skin of what has been and step into what will be.
Then the next moment is the first anniversary for Dad.  But since I have been through it with mom, I know what to expect.  That anniversary won’t be easy, but ti also won’t be the unknown.  I know what I am facing, head on. And I have the love of my friends and that love will build this life strong and good and lasting.
Phase 5

I did it. I made it through Christmas without you.

There were some tough and lonely moments, but I am blessed to have amazing friends that got me through. There was also joy and celebration. You guys raised me strong and loved me enough for a lifetime, but it doesn’t make making a life without you any easier. But I will be OK.  I love you Mom and Dad. For so many wonderful things, for so many reasons and for so many wonderful holiday traditions and memories. Most of all, I love you for being the most amazing parents in the whole world. Merry Christmas. Love and miss you always.

A Moment

It is the rush of the holidays, with all the shopping, parties, dinners, decorating and family get-togethers. It is a time that we seem to rush around, hardly time to do anything besides get to the next thing we have to do. And this holiday season seems to be busier than those past.

But last night I took a walk in my quiet little neighborhood. I listened to the silence of the evening, looked at the lights and Christmas decorations that were around. There were children playing in the distance, laughing and running. I thought about my life, and the past year. All of the ups and downs, all of the events that made it 2013.

And through all of it all, there have been so many blessings woven in, even the bad times. I just needed some time and space to see them. And isn’t that how it always is? Things always seem to work out for the best, and end up just as they should. We just may not ever be able to predict the road that gets us there.

This year I have seen love, loss, heartache, joy, anger, Peace, struggles, having money, being poor, letting go, hanging on, breathing in, cleaning out and rising up .I have supported my family and had others support and help me. When I think back at just what has happened in the past year, it’s almost overwhelming to think of it all.

But I am so very thankful for being here, right now, in this place. It’s been a long road, but Bliss is all around. And it had taken a lot of work. Many think that happiness just lands in a persons lap. It doesn’t. It’s a decision you make and re-make every day. Work you do to keep it every day. But it’s worth it, to do what you need to do to be happy and healthy.

So this holiday season, take .a moment. Pause and reflect. Eve for those for whom the holidays are difficult, take pause and look around. When you do, I promise you will see wonderful things around you . No matter where you are, it could be worse, but it’s not. And the good thing is if you feel like you are at the bottom, there is now where to go but up.

Take a moment, see the lights and the decorations. Enjoy the cold crisp air. Notice the energy of others around you. Enjoy your favorite TV shows, some hot tea, or a warm bowl of soup. Because it’s the small things that add up to making a good life. But we must take time to appreciate them.

So take a moment.

The Best Parents in the World

We are stuck with the parents we get. Let’s face it, no one asked us before we were born who we would want to be our parents. We never got to fill out an order sheet of  “must haves” or “I wants” when it came to the people who would raise us and prepare us for the real world. With that in mind, I have to say I was so lucky and ridiculously blessed with who my parents are. I would have chosen them if I had the chance.

I was thinking about it tonight: It’s easy to be proud of your kids when they are successful, making lots of money and doing cool things. But my parents were proud of me when I was making nothing, and completely unsuccessful. That takes a lot of love.

I was in radio, in television, in theater…and making nothing. How many times did they pay my rent? How many times did they give me money for groceries? How many times did they pay my medical bills because I had no insurance? How many cars did they buy me? How many times did they pay my electric/gas/cell phone/every-other-bill? And they still looked at me and told me they were proud of me.

I called my mother today and told her thank you for all the support, both monetarily and emotionally. Thank you for being proud of me when I was making nothing, not even scraping by. Thank you for coming to every play I was in, for listening to my radio shows, for watching my commercials on TV,for paying for acting classes. Thank you for supporting me following my dream.  Thank you for always believing in me, even when I when I had nothing to show for all the work I was doing.

She simply said “Of course we were proud of you and still are. Even then we could see your drive.”

I started to cry.

So parents, be proud of your children,and support them even when they are not successful. Be proud of them and support them even when they make decisions that you do not agree with (my parents knew radio, TV and theater made no money and wanted me to do something more profitable). Because they will remember, when they are 40, when they are 30, when they are 25 (and 50, 60, 70..)…that you were always there for them. They will remember and love you infinitely for always being there for them when they were striking out and following their dreams – however silly they may seem.

I know  parents who refused to pay for their children’s college if they did not study something profitable. I remember watching a movie called October Sky, and the child had a dream, but they father did not understand and did not support his son. The son followed his dream anyway. But the best moment was when his father finally got it, and came out to support him. That was a moment that character would never forget.

And indeed, as I look back at my life, I know I would not be where I am today, a successful writer making a great living, living my dream, without my parents supporting me all those years ago, for all these years. And I would not be able to accomplish all that I will in the future, if it were not for my parents supporting me so long ago. Even when they did not agree with me, even when they thought I might fail, even when they thought I was making the wrong decision, they were still there for me. They have always been my biggest cheering section. There are no words to express how much I love them for that, how much I appreciate them for everything.

So parents, support your children. It’s easy to be proud of them when they are successful and doing everything you want them to do…but the best parents support their kids regardless. Because when you are proud of your kids no matter what, they, in turn, will be proud of you as a parents.

So thank you to my wonderful parents, who for so many reasons are the best parents in the world. I could not be where I am today, and where I will be in the future, with you and your support. I love you more than words can say. And every day, I thank God that the two of you were my parents.

Of Prayers Family and Grace

Prayers for Dad

We all have those moments that just get right down to the core of you. My family and I have been so very blessed, but still there is worry.

Two months ago he came up for a very large dose of chemo. Today there is the MRI to find if the chemo worked or if the tumors are still in his liver.

All signs are good that the tumors are gone. But still there is worry. When you love someone, no matter how faithful you are, there is still worry and a bit of fear. You want those you love to be healthy. And when there is a chance that they are not, then it sits in your stomach like a ball of lead. It stays in your mind and on your heart.

So if you are a person of faith, please say a prayer that the chemo worked. That he is healthy and will not need any more treatments. Thank you.

Grace in Motion

I have written much about my search for Grace. I have prayed for it, sought it out, taken deep breaths to attain it. And I have, many times in the last few months, been very proud of the Grace I have displayed when others have hurt me. But even I have my limits.

It seems I have Grace for the most part…except when I need it most. This past week has been an example. This past week, a few things happened that cut me to the core. Deep cuts born from lies others have told, lied about those lies and left me wondering why I did not see them before now.

And it is during these times that I need Grace the most. But then I am only human, and even though I strive for Grace at all times, I have slipped a time or two. Between those events happening, anxiety over my father’s health and a bad case of PMS with a shortage of chocolate, I have been a girl in a mad mood on a mission.

And that is part of being human, you make mistakes, react in bad ways sometimes, try and fail, fall short of what you want to be, try again harder, and hopefully you learn a but along the way.

Our lives are always in motion, moving forward, moving on, moving past everything before it. And as I take a deep breath, I have to let go of the fear, of my father’s health, of being betrayed again, of more lies, of frustration, of being hurt. Because as our lives are in motion, so is our Grace, and compassion and empathy for others.

Grace is defined as: Mercy; clemency. To give kindness and consideration beyond what is deserved. I have not followed this definition as I should have. This is something that can be difficult for a fiery red-head to learn. One would thing that if you have found Peace as I have, Grace would not be far behind. But the art of Grace is just that, an art. And maybe one has a  lot of training in order to get it right.

I am a work in motion, as is the Grace that I strive to practice on a daily basis. Every day starts a new, with promises of mistakes not to be made.

The Last Day

We all have those times when we look around and realize that it is the last day…of high school, of college, of a particular career, of many things in life. It is the end. And there is a new beginning that awaits.

Today is it. The last day…of my 30’s.  And looking back, it has been a great decade.  And I have learned so much. And I have worked hard and accomplished much. I think that the decade of my 30’s was working hard and establishing myself – my personality, my career and talent, my writing, myself. Now, entering into my 40’s, I have nothing to prove to anyone. Been there, done that. And they can kiss my bum if they don’t like it.

My 30’s truly were magnificent. And I say goodbye to them fondly.  When I think back, I smile. Some of my best times have been in this decade. Some of the worst times too, but all in all the good has far outweighed the bad.

I have been in NYC, had trips of a lifetime. I have dined in some of the finest restaurants in my 30’s. I have enjoyed being flown in private planes, for private weekends in the Bahamas. I have held and stolen kisses. I have worked hard, traveled well, had money and been completely broke (having money is better, btw). I have been naive and been very smart. I have been the outcast and the toast of the town\, been the object of praise and scorn. I have cried tears of joy and of immense sorrow.

And I have done it all my way. I have kept true to myself, my integrity and my code of honor. And I am proud of this. Many cannot say the same. And the mistakes that I have made? Well, they just made me smarter. The people who have hurt me? They just made me better and stronger.

And so here I am. On the eve of my 40th birthday, and I know the next ten years will be even better than the last. And I truly cannot wait for the adventure, memories that will be made, truths that will be discovered and told, and smiles and laughter that will be had, good times all the wonder of life. Bad times? Oh, I am sure there will be a few mixed in there, but I am not worried.

And aging? Forgetaboutit! Father Time and I made a deal a long time ago, that I would only get better with age. Like a fine wine. And so, those tiny wrinkles? Those little laugh lines? Even gravity…they do not scare me. I am Ada. I am a Burch. I am my Father’s daughter. I am my Mother’s daughter. And I am about to be 40. And so I say to life:

Take my hand and let’s jump right in!

Between the Lines

I have not been writing as much recently, or in the last few days or so. This is a bit odd to be because I am used to writing and posting almost every day. But something is happening. I am busy enjoying life.

And it occurred to me that sometimes you have to stop writing about life, and start living it in order to have something valuable to write and say later. Sometimes you have to take a break, take a few steps back, gain perspective and just enjoy.

It is different than writers block, because frankly I do have a lot about which to write. But they are things that might seem boring, like how I love to sit and look at the Christmas tree when the lights are off. Or how much I am looking forward to my sister’s visit for her birthday. Or even how thrilled I am that the Christmas presents that I have ordered for loved ones are arriving. Or how much I look forward to going to the formal holiday parties and dressing up, how much I enjoy re-connecting with friends right now, how I am enjoying long slow kisses, my new work space, even getting lost in the new parking deck for 30 minutes (have I mentioned my lack of sense of direction?). How O need to vacuum my house because the dust bunnies are waging war against the tufts of cat hair. How I am enjoying my house plants actually blooming inside, or how much I am looking forward to New Years.

How I am enjoying long looks, happy dinners and much laughter. How it is shopping with friends, finding the perfect dress with the perfect fit, a glass of wine and good conversation, a hot cup of tea, a fire, a long run, crisp mornings, purring kitties, snuggling up to him that is making life just delicious. THat taking a break is not always a bad thing, that it can mean that life is blooming right before your eyes.

I am actually too busy enjoying all of these things to actually take the time to write about them as much as I want. And that may not be a bad thing. It is often what others may find boring that comprises our lives. But that does not mean out lives are boring, far from it actually. Because life is mostly made up of those tiny little moments that may not mean much to others, but mean so much to each one of us individually. Life is all that which we do not write, that makes it so wonderful, mysterious, interesting and beautiful. Life is what happens between the lines.

So here I am, enjoying my spot between the lines. Enjoying the “boring” parts, where everything in my life right now is special, magic and wonderful, and just for me.

The Joys of Christmas

Day 28, Christmas decorations:  Today I am thankful for Christmas decorations.  This past Thanksgiving weekend, my Mother decided to pass her huge collection of Christmas Ornaments on to My sister and I. This was sad and exciting at the same time. Sad because she will not be putting up a Christmas Tree, exciting because the ornaments I have looked at since I was a little girl will now be hanging on my tree.

The decorating has already started and by the time it is all done, it will look like Christmas exploded in my house. Already there is mistletoe, Mr. and Mrs Claus by the front door and big red velvet bows.  There are Christmas place mats and table clothes, bowls, candle holders, stockings and stocking holders. There are Christmas pot holders, mantle decorations, a table top Christmas tree, tinsel, wall hangings and Salt and pepper shakers. And that is just the beginning! 

The Christmas tree will be put up and decorated tonight. My little Charlie Brown tree will be loaded down with Christmas ornaments old and new. There will be lights, balls, crosses, angels, bears, sheep, candy canes, mice, bells, bows, Santas, and even a Christmas Octopus. Oh, it will be wonderful. And the whole time the tree is being decorated, there will be Christmas music playing.

Did I mention I get a little excited and go maybe a little bit overboard with the Christmas  decorations? But it makes me happy to sit at night, with all the lights off, except of the soft glow of my little Christmas tree, lights shining like little diamonds. Once I even kept it up until September. It was the New Years Tree, the St. Pat’s Day Tree, the Easter Tree, the Labor Day Tree…it was great even if all of my friends made fun of me and called me a redneck. I just hated the idea pf taking it down. (note: The ornaments get very dusty when left up that long. Dust often)

The first year I had a cat I made the mistake of putting the pretty tinsel onto the tree…and then I discovered a very colorful litter box. Oh you have not experienced the joys of pet ownership until you have fished multi-colored tinsel out of a little box.

Then there was the cat who loved to get a running start and fly into the Christmas tree. His name was Taz. I came home once and found all but one branch torn off the tree that year. Well, the branches he did d not try to eat anyway. That was also the year he ate my favorite strappy sandals, my iPod and my favorite sweater. Alas, I do not have that very sweet, albeit hungry kitty anymore.

There was the time I got tangled up in my Christmas tree and fell to the floor with a thud. I am sure to the outside public it might have looked as if the tree had come alive and was flailing around the floor. It might have even  looked like a Christmas tree monster. Oddly enough, my cats have been terrified to come near the Christmas tree since then.

And this year will be extra special. I did not put a tree up last year as I was just too busy. That was the first year of my life that there was no Christmas tree, so this year must be extra special to make up for it.

So let the decorating begin!




Four Days of Thankful Sauce

So now to continue the trend:

Day 24, The Compound: I am thankful for the family compound.  Mom and Dad have made this place in the country a little slice of heaven. It is where I go to get away from the city, enjoy nature, be with family, recharge and just be. It is a healing place filled with love.

Day 25, Laughter: This day I am thankful for laughter. There has been much of it as my family gets together for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Day 26, Chocolate: I am thankful for chocolate, one of my favorite foods. It is just yummy and it makes me happy.

Day 27, Peace: Something I am finally finding after a rough year. Peace brings about the ability to be still, to listen, to have Grace and to love. You will be happy when you find peace.

Adventures in Turkey Land

The remainder of the weekend was met with much laughter and togetherness. I don;t think any of us has had a better time for Thanksgiving. It was truly wonderful. And comical.

I got up Saturday morning to help Dad with a few outside chores around the yard. Now my parents have chickens because they like organic eggs, or yard eggs as they are often called.  I opened the back door only to see one of my parents 4 chickens running across the yard as fast as it could. Not far behind her was another one – the two of them running back to the pin like they had been caught doing something bad. I could help but watch them completely amused. Not something you usually see before finishing your first cup of coffee.

My mother planned to have my sister and I go through her many Christmas ornaments since she has decided not to put up a Christmas tree anymore. This is the end of an era, truly. Christmas has always been a huge deal at Mom’s house, the putting up and decorating of the tree the crux of the activity. It was always fun for the entire family and from which many of the family Christmas traditions have come. So for the last time, my Dad and I completed the annual Christmas Box March.  This tradition is taking all the boxes of Mom’s Christmas ornaments out of storage in one of their many buildings and marching them up the hill and across the yard into the house where Mom has designated a space for them. But this is no ordinary March with a few boxes of Christmas stuff, no. This is a march worthy of it’s own parade.

They have been married 45 years, and that is 45 years of Mom collecting all kinds of ornaments. There are ornaments of every size shape and color imaginable. They shine, they sparkle, they glitter, sing, swing, sway, hold, light up, din down and everything in between. Indeed, it is a display of everything Christmas on the tree with angels, Santa’s, mice, dear, cats, crosses, nativities, stockings, eggs, drums, boats, candy canes, Bibles, Christmas books, balls, icicles, there is even a Christmas Octopus. There are so many ornaments you literally can only see them all upon large and long inspection of the Christmas tree. Oh, and then there are the snitch baskets, can’t forget those.

When my father and I were done, we had marched 24 boxes of Christmas decorations into the house. Yes, 24 boxes. This does not include the actual Christmas tree – which is 10 feet high and 6 feet wide at the base.   It weighs about 150 pounds and is actually in a giant duffel bag big enough to hold 10 bodies.  One of us is usually in charge of getting this giant monstrosity and dragging it uphill, across the yard and into the house. But not this year, which inspired both relief and a bit of melancholy all at the same time. And we still did not find all of her ornaments.

Going through the ornaments and dividing them up was not as painful as one might have thought. My sister and I are so different that we liked different ornaments, and the ones we both liked we agreed to “share” and take turns with every Christmas. This should be much fun. When I am done decorating this year, it will no doubt look like Christmas exploded in my house. and I will love every bit of it. I brought back ornaments, candle holders, mantle decorations, wall hanging, table centerpieces, Santa salt and pepper shakers, teddy bear door guards, door hangers, place mats and much more.

There of course, was also the traditional wine run, standard when all of us get together. Along with so much laughter between my sisters misbehaving feet, the snowmen hanging and other such silly things.

Before I left there was of course the traditional Dad Looking at The car time. We have decided that my mechanic needs to take a look at few things. There was the Mom Giving Away Plants to my Nephew Activity, wherein everyone congregates in the greenhouse and Mom proudly shows off her fine green friends. There are many oooooohs and aaaaaaaaahhhs. Dad and I picked persimmons, Mom and I had great conversations as I drank coffee every morning with her. And then there was also the traditional “Gram Breakfast’ that is world famous. Or at least famous in our family.

And in the four days that have passed, I have eaten more than I have in the past four months. And my skinny pants…are just a little too tight. Amazing how months of working out and staying fit can be completely undone in one holiday. Oh, but it was worth it. Cheesecake with Mom and Dad, midnight sundae cones, chocolate covered peanuts just because, lots of snacks, grilled cheese sandwiches, mac n cheese that is so yummy, wine and other delicious home cooked goodness from the Kitchen of Mom.

All in all, it was a great holiday, a great visit and a great time. i have so much fow which I am thankful. I have so much in my life that brings me joy. Life is good and I am happy.

Day 20: Home, Beds and Blankets

Day 20, My Home: I think I  said something about being thankful for having a roof over my head in an earlier post, but this one is different. This is specifically about having a home.

As I was cleaning up a night ago, I looked out over my house and realized something wonderful: it was finally my home. Home, that place that is sacred. That place where we are safe, were we are protected from all that is bad or unpleasant. Home is where we go to recharge. home is where our hearts are safest.

And I look ed around and there were memories in every corner. This is the place where I go to be safe, where my Mother comes to be comforted, where my father comes to heal after treatment, where my nephew comes for quiet time, where my sister comes to take a break and enjoy some tea, where my friends come for laughterand good times, where those I love come for comfort, food and drink. It is Home.

And for that I am thankful.

Bed and blankets: I am also thankful for my wonderful comfortable beds. If I get tired and have trouble sleeping in one, I simply walk across the hall to the other. And then I can snuggle deep down into the warm blankets and drift off to sleep, while my cats purr beside me.

Yes, life is good and I am thankful.

Thankful Day 14 and 15

Day 14, Doctors: I am thankful for the doctors who have kept my family healthy and alive. 12 years ago my mother was diagnosed with stage 4+ Ovarion cancer. Last year my father was diagnosed with Liver cancer. Both are still alive and well today, thanks to amazing doctors and a lot of prayer.

Day 15, Coffee: Today I am thankful for coffee. It is the necter of the Gods and it makes me very happy. Coffee keeps me awake and able to not kill people on my drive into work.

Perspective in Between

We all have those moments in life where something happens that just puts everything into perspective. And this week has been no exception, with a wonderful surprise at the end.

We take stock in our lives, think about the past, regrets and sweet memories, and have hopes for the future. We  take an honest look at ourselves and smile; hopeful, scared, excited, and knees shaking. We breath. We have faith. We take a leap. We trust. We go slow. We hold anothers hand and lean on a shoulder. We steady one another, yet sometimes walk alone, as we go down the roads of our life.

And somehow, the smoke clears, the dust settles and we look around with a new perspective. Not just for us, but for others as well. There are things that happen that make us so very aware of the fagilty of life, love, the heart and loved ones. Of right and wrong, of mercy and faith, of chances, changes, hurts and scrapes. We learn what is to be sacred and what is to be let go.

And at the end of this emotional rollercoaster week, my heart has grown several sizes. This week has been a gift, though a rough one to open. And maybe because, all because, of love, life and everything in the spaces between.

I may be dressed head to toe in love, but my accessories are by a new perspective.

The Freakout Week

We all need it, especially after bad news. No, I am not talking about large amounts of alcohol and chocolate, though that may help. I mean what  my friends and I referre to as The Freak out Week. It is the week after you receive said news, and it is your time to completely freak out and be an emotional basket-case. You give your self permission to just be a shitty basket case.

If you want to be irritable, you are. If you want to spontaneously combust into tears at any given moment, you can. If you need to consume large amounts of alcohol and chocolate, you do. you talk, cry, eat, drink and cry. If you need to throw shoes across the room, you do. You are just a hot mess every moment during thisweek. And your friends are right there for you every step of the way. And that has defiantly been me.

And I am so thankful for my family and friend this past week, who have been there for me, having the difficult conversations and holding me while I cry. I am glad my sister was the one who told me and was there – when I woke her up at 2am one morning sobbing, scared and tired, with red eyes and tear stained cheeks, shaking, asking questions. I am thankful for her sleepy look, her kind re-assuring words, her being my rock in that moment. My dear, wonderful older sister, taking care of me as she often has in those dark moments of life.

The freak out week is not a pity party, but rather a way to get it all out of your system so to speak. And when that week is over, you can come back down to earth a calmer person, ready to handle what ever challenges come about. After my week of completely freaking out over my father’s health and possible prognosis, I feel much better and can move forward and be a rock for the family.

Looking back when my Mother was diagnosed with stage 4+ Ovarian Cancer, there was a freak out week as well. That week was much different though – Mom was in the hospital barely conscious due to all the medication, and I watched over her. I got about 2 hours of sleep that entire week and then drove back  up to Atlanta to shoot a commercial. The make up artist noticed the dark circles under my eyes and asked if I had been out partying all night. I just smiled and said, “Yes, something like that.” So in comparison, this week of freak out is going much better.

And you have to learn to laugh about these things. Humor keeps you sane in the midst of chaos. Faith keeps you grounded and your heart safe. I remember a wonderful friend of the family whose mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy. The first time I met her, he walked in the room, looked at her and said “I heard a joke today that was so funny it would knock your boobs off. Oh, I see you’ve heard it!” I froze in horror. How could he talk to his mother that way? She busted out in laughter and gave him a huge hug. Many years and two parents’ illnesses later, I now understand what he was doing.

And so it goes. And I wonder what the future will bring, for our family. I don’t know, but what I do know is that we are strong in faith and close in our hearts. And whatever happens, we will make it through, we will be there for each other and we will be OK. Even Dad, as Gods Will be done. He will give us the strength, courage and grace we need. If you are reading this and are a person of faith, please say a prayer.

Facts and Feelings

Someone asked me how my father being so sock and my mother going through cancer and treatment were different. There isn’t one that is better or worse, both are very difficult. But it is the law of nature that children bury their parents, so it is something that everyone must go through at some point in there lives. I just hoping to go through this when I was much older – like 80.

The facts are that we do not officially know how much time is left or not. It could be 6 months, it could be 6 years, it could be 20 more years (if he gets the liver transplant). But we do know that liver disease is not curable. It is manageable though. And with diet and medication it could be around for a long time. We will not know until we talk to the doctor in the follow up.

The not knowing is very stressful. And I wonder how many Fathers Days do we have left? It is hard because he is my Dad, he is the one who fixes things, he is not supposed to be broken. He is not supposed to be sick. But he is. And it hurts. It is an aching that just goes down to your core, deeper than anything else. He is my Dad and I adore him.

The fact of the matter is that I am looking for someone like my father…strong, honorable, solid, huge amount of integrity and honesty. Truth be told, be is who I measure all other men against, not because I have “Daddy Issues”, but because he simply is the best man that I know. I have seen how he treats my mother, how he loves and respects her, and she him. And I want that for myself. I want a man like that…I just don’t know if they still exist.

I look at my Father and he continually gives me hope that wonderful men are out there, they do exist. There are men who can love with all their hearts and be faithful to the woman they love. After the year of dating that I have had; from the man who attacked me, to the Ex-wife man, to the bad roommate I found out was actually still married (since 1988), to the last man I tried to date and seemingly have lost as a friend, I can look at my Dad and know that the good guys do exist. In a world of Tiger Woods, Jesse James, John Robert Mutt Lange and men like this in the public eye who cheat and use…knowing that my father is light years away from that mindset of dishonesty and deception keeps me grounded and hopeful. My father is an honorable man. This I know, deep down in my bones.

The fact of the matter is that millions have dealt with this and have gotten through it and I will too. The fact of the matter is that what I go through now is not significant in any way – it is only so because it is happening to me, in my life. So I should not complain, as we have had such a blessed life and will continue. But I still do. Not in a feel sorry for me way, but in a wow, this really hurts and is hard kind of way. In a let me write about this and it will help me feel better kind of way.

The fact is that worry does not affect the time he has or quality of life. It will not make things better or worse. This is all part of the human experience. But is is still stressful. My usually radiant skin is riddled with blemishes now from stress. Thank goodness for make up. it has made me short tempered and less tolerant – which may not completely be a bad thing. Sometimes I just feel like hiding from the world. other times I want to be someplace quiet. I do want to people who are dear to me very close. I cannot go through all of this without my friends. I will need shoulders on which to cry.

And so it is, the facts and the feelings, of the matter. My dear, wonderful, amazing, gentle father, is sick. He may not have a lot of time. And this makes me feel many things, but mainly heartbroken.

And yet, we cannot loose sight of our own lives. we cannot give up our own joy and happiness. We must still live and be alive, even when a tear in our hearts.

Lightning and Prayers

When I was a Little girl, my Father and I wold sit outside and watch the storms roll in. Mainly we wold watch the lightning flash across the sky. We would sit out there for hours sometimes, just watching the beautiful displays of power and electricity. Sometimes we would eat boiled peanuts, sometimes we would just sit out there and talk.

As I was driving yesterday, I noticed several wonderful flashes of lightning and thought of my dear Father. Those are some of the most cherished memories I have of spending time with him. And I cannot see a lighting storm and not think of watching the sky with my Dad. It makes my heart warm and a smile on my face.

Please say a prayer as he is back in the hospital.

My Mother

She is and has been one of my best friends for years, and yet she still know how to be my mother.  She has been an absolutely amazing mother, standing by me through everything, thick and thin, even when she did not agree with my decisions. She has dried countless tears, mended a thousand scrapes, bruises and cuts, has always been there with a hug or wise word and more love than I could even fathom.I share everything with her (well, almost everything) and we are extremely close. We stay up late and talk, drink wine, cry, tell secrets and stories. And she has taught me so much.

Dad was often away working much of my childhood, so mom raised us by herself for the most part. and yet, we always knew that he loved us and she always made sure that even when he was absent, we never felt like her was far away. I remember her brushing my long hair as a child and putting it up in french braids or pony tails, or curling it making pretty waves cascade down my back and shoulders.  I remember her reading to us, every day and every night, instilling is us at a every early age, the beauty, magic and mystique of reading. She was the first person to encourage me to write. She taught us proper table manners, how to set a proper table, all the social graces we would need to carry ourselves with class and ease, the importance of a good vocabulary, sentence structure and speaking proper English.

She taught us about being honest, studying hard, faith, Jesus, the Bible and God. She answered the strange questions that only children could ask, with Grace, wit and patience. She taught us how to make our beds, do the dishes, clean our rooms, even how to mow the lawn. She taught us about things like empathy, compassion, being of service to others, and why she deserved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, our utmost respect. She said things like: I love you enough to make you hate me – Because I love you and you are my child, I will always do what is best for you. And when I tell you you cannot do something, then it is because I love you.And when I tell you No, and you get mad, it is OK to hate me a little. Because i love you enough to make you hate me.

I remember getting up one night as a child, upset. And she made me hot chocolate, held me while i cried and told me that it was OK if I did not know the reason, that sometimes it is Ok to just be sad.

Yes, she has been a wonderful mother, not only to me, but to my friends and many other children as well.  She has always been the neighborhood mother and our house was (and still is) where al the neighbors and their children would go. I remember all my friends wanting to come over to our house, because of the home my mother had created. Children have always loved and trusted her, but hen she has a gift for being able to walk in their shoes and see from their viewpoint. Because of this amazing gift she has with children, we were the only therapeutic foster home in the state of Florida. She helped 65 kids in 3 years 0 65 of the worst, most abused, most troubled children, and she was able to reach and help them all. And she taught me how to understand children as well.

There are so many wonderful memories about my mother, so many things that she has taught me about life, love, honesty, Faith, friends, people, children, cooking, cleaning, relationships, money…and the list jsut goes on. All I can say really is that I have been so very blessed to have her as my mother. And if I could have chosen who I would be my Mom, I would have chosen her. God could not have done better.

I love you Mom. Thank you for all that you do, all that you taught and continue to teach me, and for just being you! I hope to be as good a mother to my children as you have been to me.


Finally. As I sit alone in my room, in my bed, surrounded by what is familiar and comforting, I finally feel a bit normal. After a bit of reading a great book that I have not had time to pick up for the last two weeks and getting drawn into the delicious story, sipping Sleepy Time tea, my two cats happy and purring, one on either side of me, I start to relax.

I do not feel like bursting into tears, I do not feel wrought with worry, I do not feel anxious or irritable. Even all of my writing, creativity desperately pouring out of me as I pound the keyboard, has not been able to quiet my brain from the thoughts of what if and doctors, and family, and hospitals and grief and the possibility of such a deep loss. All in my family are healthy and alive tonight. For this I am so very grateful.

Now, in this moment, all is quiet and well. For the first time in a month. And I look down a my small feet and red toenail polish that matches my fingertips, let my head rest on the wrought metal headboard of my massive sleigh bed, and sigh. Finally. Normalcy.

normalcy – being within certain limits that define the range of normal functioning

GREAT version of this song…great song for a watcher….

Week In Review

This week has been a difficult, one. My father being sick and close to death again. A friends suicide attempt.  I have not been sleeping, not exercising, not feeling well at all. I have been forgetful, ditzy even, in my motions through the week, clumsy in my expressions. I am physically and emotionally exhausted.  And yet I feel like there is no room to complain. There have been blessings of my father getting better and being released from the hospital, a new lucrative project, several new freelance projects and friends being there for me, taking me out and making sure that I am OK.

When I heard my father’s voice on the phone last night I broke down and sobbed. From the deepest parts of me I wept, my body wrenching as the emotion came out of my body with the tears. It was release and relief. He was OK, his voice weak but wonderful.  I was so frightened, so scared that I would loose him. That we would loose him. I just could not bear the thought, and I wept as he spoke.

And this weekend will be one of rest and comfort. I am driving down once again to the family compound. I want to be there for my mother, as she has had an even more exhausting week than I. Family is the most important thing in the world, and I need to make sure, I want to see for myself, that they are ok.

And yet in my exhaustion, there is optimism. Tomorrow is another day, and a chance for it to be perfect. There is optimism that next week will be good, and the week after that even better. There are many things in life right now that I know will improve, as the bad times are only temporary.

When it’s dark, God has us in the rock’s cleft, covered us with His hand. Dark may be the holiest ground: God’s passing by. – A Thousand Gifts

Indeed, if that quote is true, then this has been a holy week. And while I am thankful for all the miracles that have kept my family and loved ones safe, I pray for a better week to come. A week with light, laughter and good times. And I look up, and see the clouds breaking, and the sun shining through.

My Father & More

My father is back in the hospital. They caught the hemorrhaging in time. But it is still difficult. My Dad is my hero, I always have been and always will be a Daddy’s girl. I cannot loose him. He is much better than he was last time and the doctors are confident they will find the source of the bleeding this time. But I still worry. If you are a person of Faith, please say a prayer.

He is a very religious and spiritual man, he very dedicated family man. You could not find a more dedicated or better Father to his 5 children (yes, I am the youngest of 5). And he has been an incredible husband to my Mother.

The big family reunion my parents were hosting has been cancelled. The first time it has been cancelled in 35 years, but it is worth it. And there is so much love in my family that everyone will understand.

While I am very worried about my father, I know he is with good doctors and I have to have Faith. And I do. But it is still hard and I burst out into tears spontaneously.

In really bad times, I drink scotch. A secret I have never revealed. My sister loves scotch and I started drinking it when she liked it so much. Somehow the combination of it’s strength and it’s smoothness is comforting. Tonight I drink it.


A project I have been waiting for came through today and that is very exciting. Starting the next chapter of my career is always exciting. And I have the best friends in the world who are lining up to not only be there for me while my father is sick, but also to take me out and help me celebrate. My guest is out of town this week, but things still promise to be very busy starting with tomorrow night. It is going to see Bernadette Seacrest. She is one of my favorite local talents and sings great Jazz/Blues ( There has been much stress lately, and they are determined to make sure I have as much stress relief as I need. They are making sure I have plenty of wine, and chocolate, plenty of load music and exercise. A massage this week may also be in order. They are of great comfort.

And there are a list of movies I want to see. I have not been to the movies in a year maybe?  And this time, I want to fully enjoy and revel in the Chick Flicks. I want to see what to expect when you’re expecting, new years Eve, the New Tim Burton Film with johnny Depp, and any other cheesy, chick, flicky film.

Oh, yes, right now I fully plan to take advantage of the fact that I am a girl.


There are so many things to do tonight and this week. Tonight I must go to the bank, finish some freelance work, clean up around the house for company, and scan and email all documents for the new project. While I am happy to be busy, I am also almost sick with worry. I have great friends and a wonderful family. But yet there is something missing.

I have much for which to be thankful. and I have much for which to pray.

Random: My Father and a Great Quote

A Great Quote:

I came upon this quote not too long ago and loved it. It is from the Book Kisses from Kate and it talks about something that hits close to home for me. This quote reminds me to have Faith in His mysteries and know that all will be well. It touches me in a very deep and real way.

I was like the Velveteen Rabbit. I was tattered and worn out. I’d been hurt and scarred and banged around a bit in the past year, but God was using all those things to help me become real. I was coming to understand that what it means to be real is to love and be loved until there is nothing left. And when there is nothing left, and we feel we’re all in pieces, God begins to make us whole. He makes us real.


My Father:

In wake of the recent events in  my fathers health, I wanted to repost this entry. My father is my hero and I will always be a Daddy’s Girl. I love him with all my heart and am so very glad he is alright.

It has long been one of my favorite rooms, full of mysterious and powerful things. Things that I was never allowed to touch as a little girl. And My father used these instruments with much craft and skill, Fixing, building, sanding, hammering, making, so many things. The room was my fathers workshop. And at any given time he could be found working on his latest project, the smell of sawdust thick in the air and all over the floor.

Some of my best memories are of working with my father in that workshop, watching his hands shape the wood, or work on metal, fascinated at his skill and precision.  He has a very methodical nature, it goes with is engineering profession. Every single measure exactly exact., every piece expertly crafted and fit together, sanded to the finest point.

My father taught both my sister and I how to do basic maintenance on our cars – how to change a flat tire, how to rotate the tires, change the oil, brake pads, calipers, spark plugs (when cars actually had spark plugs), and such. One  particularly fond memory I have is working on changing my brake pads when we discovered one of the calipers was stuck. It started to rain. And there my father and I were, in the rain, drenched, working on this caliper so my car would be safe to drive.

And through the years, through all the cars that we have worked on together, through all the projects and things around the house to be fixed, he has always had the tools needed, stored his workshop. And even now I love to go in and just gaze at all the tools. And I smile, as I do love that place so very much.

Easter Reajustments

Easter has always been a very spiritual time and this year was no exception. We were all tired from a very hard emotional week and all of us rested, talked, cried, cooked, laughed, ate and celebrated together. Pictures were taken, little chicken peeps were held, eggs were gathered, neighbors were welcomed. Normally the family gets up early for the Sunrise Easter Service, but this year we worshiped by being thankful for everyone being present and alive. This Easter was Sacred. Hugs were held just a little longer, and no chance to say I love you was passed up.

And as I watched the love and affection that flows so easily from my parents, I looked down on their wedding band on my finger. I am blessed to have such an example of love and family. And I want to pass that on to my children. I also took stock in my life and the recent events that played out. I am not going to date for a while…my poor heart needs a break. And I should not bring issues into the next relationships from the last. Also, I want a man who wants a family, because I want a family. He could already have children, we could have children or a combination of both, but this is what I want. And it is not a biological clock thing, it is a finally, I am ready to share my life and build something more thing. But first my heart needs rest.

So for the next while I will focus on love of a different kind – love of Friends, love of Family, love of God and love of Faith.

Yes, sometimes life gives you curve balls, and you must re adjust. You may cry, vent, talk, write, whatever to get it out of your system, but in the end, you calm down and readjust. You Pray, you focus, you enjoy the moments before you…and you take baby steps. And before you know it, those baby steps have taken you across miles of road, and you look up and see how far you have come. I look forward to that day.

Welcome Back

Last night after work I made a detour and went to the salon rather than directly home. I had decided, after a day of wearing really great shoes, that I was in desperate need of getting a pedicure.  A girl getting a pedicure is nothing new, but for me it was a return of sorts. See, I have not gotten a pedicure, manicure, or hair treatment even, since August.

Since August I have been busy, getting my feet back under me, and just did not place much value on these things. These wonderful things that I did for myself on a regular basis before August. I have a monthly massage set up …that I have only been so once since then. My regular mani/pedi appointment was filled by new customers, and my hair? Well, lets not even go there. Let’s just say that it is in need of some help now that it has grown out longer, and as it continues to grow out from my once super short pixie.

Last night I sat in that wonderful heated massage chair, put my head back on the pillow the owner of the shop pulled out for me, and just relaxed as I got “The Works.” As the hot was place on my feet, as they massaged my feet and legs with the exfoliant, then the lotion, then the hot stones, then they carefully painted my toes and made my feet pretty, I almost started to cry. It had been so long since I had done anything to really treat myself, to pamper myself, make me feel special or girly. A bubble bath sometimes, but outside of that, nothing. The money has been there, it just that, well, it’s just that I haven’t done those things for myself in quite a few months. I kind of let myself go a bit, I guess you could say. I guess maybe I felt as ragged on the inside as I did on the outside.

So I let things go…my nails, my hair, my car, my workout routine.

But no more. I left the salon with pretty feet, and a pretty smile on my face. You must spoil yourself, at least a little. You must do things that bring you enjoyment. The secret is to never take those little things for granted and to always enjoy every bit of them.

My toes are pretty, and next week there are appointments for that monthly massage (4 months over due), a hair appointment for a cut and style, and a manicure. And I am getting names of a mechanic that is trusted to take care of my car, because that is way overdue too. I really am sick of looking at that bumper and feeling the bad axel. The car is not part of treating myself though, that just needs to be done.

At least for me, doing those things to treat yourself helps you enjoy life, helps you really live. Some may think those things are basic upkeep, and they are, but to me they are more. They are part of celebrating life, celebrating yourself. Because I can totally immerse myself in that moment, close my eyes and enjoy the feeling of the massage or the pedicure, or that hair style. And after all, I am worth it, because life is worth it. And life is just too short to have ugly feet, or bad hair, or unkempt nails, or an unrepaired car, or ugly shoes even.

I have missed treating myself. I have missed that feeling of appreciation for those things. I have missed the pure enjoyment of them.  I have missed having pretty toes and fingers. And the satisfaction of a good sweaty workout. I have missed the feeling of running several miles without a break. I have missed that sense of personal accomplishment.

Me: Hello life, Good to see you. I’ve missed you since I’ve been away.

Life: Welcome back.

The High Dive

Ever since I was a child I have always had a sense of adventure, a wanderlust for …life. I was four when my mother decided to enroll me in swimming lessons. We had a pool already and I was allowed to swim with my “floatties”, but I could not wait to really learn how to swim.  And I loved going to the swim lessons. But it was not the lessons I looked forward to as much as the reward for doing well in the lesson.

From the fist day I was memorized by what was called the high dive. Twelve feet up, it was so high and amazing. I knew I had to dive off of it. On the second day of lessons I finally got up the nerve to ask if they would let me. They said they had to ask my Mom first. They did and she (has since said) she swallowed hard and said if I wanted to do it, and thought I could, to let me try. One of the many reasons why I love her.

So at the end of the lesson, they said I could go. I was so excited that my entire 4 year old body was shaking. So I started up the ladder – straight up. But I didn’t care because up was magic. Up was freedom. And then, finally, after what seemed like climbing up forever, I was up at the top. And I walked out, to the very edge and it was breathtaking. All the instructors had formed a semi circle around where I would be landing in the water. They wanted to make sure I would be safe. My Mom watching (and later I learned, shaking) I took a breath and jumped.

I don’t remember hitting the water, but I do remember suddenly being and swimming underwater. It was magic. I remember swimming under all the instructors, looking up while underwater and thinking how funny their feet looked. And then I popped up behind them and surprised them. And every day that I did well in the swimming lesson, I was allowed to jump off the 12 foot high dive.

And that began my love affair with what if? And there have been many moments in my life, a few even recently, where I have been so excited that I shook. I don’t know where this sense of adventure comes from. But there has also always been a drive inside me, almost instinctual, to keep going and pushing beyond what you think is possible.  A passion to succeed at whatever is decided. To ignore the odds and just go for it.

I have said it many times before, life is the adventure you make it. Be free with your curiosity, take chances, love with all your heart, smile when you are happy, cry when you are sad, believe in others and in yourself and really live.

Teeneage Daddy’s Girls and Their Mothers

Went to a good friends birthday party tonight and saw some friends I had not seen in a long time. Of course the topics between us girls turned to love, boys and being a teenage girl and how important our mothers were during this time. Ok guys, this is where you might want to stop reading. Really.

No matter how much 0f a Daddy’s girl you are growing up (and I was a huge Daddy’s girl, and still am), you still need your mother. This is because no matter how close a girl is to her father, there are conversations that either you don’t want to have with your father at that age, or questions that you know he will not have the slightest clue how to answer. Things like – tampons…do you use them or not? I remember a big question among my young teenage friends and I was can you use them if you are a virgin? Would you still be a virgin? How do you insert them? How do you get them out? Can they really go so far in that you can’t find them? If you don’t use tampons, what is the difference between pads and panty liners?  And what does it mean when one side is cramping more than another right before? Is that normal? What about the whole sore boob thing? What about lipstick, eye shadow, and pretty panties? What about how to walk in heels? What about so many other things that happen?

I love my Dad, he is my hero. He and I have always had a great relationship and even though he is a man of very few words, I have always known his love for his daughters. But I cannot imagine the expression on his face if I had ever even gotten up the nerve to ask him about these teenage girl things. He probably would have had a heart attack. I think I would have gone to a friends mom first – to save both of us from the embarrassment. The whole puberty thing is a very confusing and awkward time for girls. You have boobs, a period and all these hormones and no idea what to do with any of them.

So, to our mothers…who answered all of our questions and helped keep us teenage girls sane. And who are probably the reason why many of us are still Daddy’s girls.

A Phone in Pictures

Recently my phone died. Yes it is true that I only got it at the end of August, but dropped it so many times the front was cracked and just not working properly. Poor thing never had a chance next to my clumsiness. So, it was time to transfer over all the information, including the pictures. I don’t look at the pictures that much so it was a nice review of a life with many adventures…

The Dishwasher Incident...
The Dishwasher Incident...












Formal Event with the Girls
Formal Event with the Girls












Wonderful picture of my Parents that is being turned into a painting. 🙂











Beach on Barbados where I will again be returning soon.
Beach in Barbados where I will again be returning soon.









Dancing at a party
Dancing at a party












So True! What I created an a friends fridge.










My nephew - a good looking young man
My nephew - a good looking young man













A summer day
A summer day










My cat high on catnip
My cat high on catnip










Me after the whipped cream fight with my big sis - she won
Me after the whipped cream fight with my big sis - she won













Sailing on the ocean
Sailing on the ocean, where I will return again soon.





















Nephew picking out a small pumpkin
Nephew picking out a small pumpkin













Horseback riding - super fun!
Horseback riding - super fun!












My desk at work, and no it's not enough coffee
My desk at work, and no it's not enough coffee









A day at a vineyard
A day at a vineyard











Free Masons

This past weekend I watched a show with my nephew about the Free Mason’s and their history. Fascinating group. Many of our founding fathers were members. And the idea of a secret society whose beliefs and strengths are based in geometry and architecture is fascinating to me. The fact that the design of Washing DC was based on the symbols of the group is also ingenious and has stood the test of time. One of the interesting things the show explained was the meaning of the symbol of the Free Masons. The symbol is a compass and a square and though there is much speculation as to exactly the meaning of these symbols on their logo, one of the most respected experts had an opinion.

This experts spoke about the significance of the compass. He said that the symbolism is that you draw a circle around yourself, and that circle represents a boundary in your morals – in other words, you define what you think it right and wrong, and you do not cross those lines in your personal philosophy.

And it is true in life, that there are lines that you do not cross. There are things you do not say, because there are words that cannot be unspoken, meanings that cannot be unmeant, hurt that cannot be un-mended. We must all have such boundaries, not only for our personal morals, but also lines that we never lets be crossed by others.

These boundaries, I believe, show respect for yourself and others. It means that no matter what, there is a level to which you will not sink, or a level you will not let another take you. And in life this is important if we are to rise above the noise and clutter of life to be happy, optimistic, strong people. Indeed, I believe the strength of a person can be measured by the strength of their compass.

Never Know

 I have lost two very loved uncles in 6 months time. The first, literally hundreds of people came and spoke of how my uncle changed their lives. There were so many who spoke of his generosity, his love for life, his love for people, his stories, how much he loved his wife, his laughter. It was truly a celebration. The service this weekend for my other uncle was a private, just family. And we all talked about how we remembered him. There was a lot of faith, as our family is very spiritual and religious. Everyone  spoke of what an honorable man he was, how he had integrity in business and well has his personal life. What a great and devoted father he was. My father actually said My uncle was his hero. That is substantial because my father is my hero.

You never know how what you do and the life you live affects others. How that ripple effect grows. You never realize how they way you live your life is noticed by others. I loved both my uncles so much, and it was a joy to see how much they were loved and respected by others as well. It was a joy to see how they touched others and how well they were respected. I found out also that a very loved cousin was in a serious accident and we almost lost her as well.

Losing two dear members of my family, and a past co worker, makes one think. It has not changed any priorities in my life per say, because I think I have those in good order. But it makes me so very thankful and grateful for my life, and for all those who are in it. It also gives me hope. When I get discouraged in life, loose faith in the goodness of people, I have to look no farther than my own family to be reminded of the morals in which I seek. I know that while these teachings may be rare in this day and age, certainly we are not the only family to hold then close. I look at my family, and their faith in God, and have my faith renewed.

I am grateful to be a member of my family, a family that has taught many generations, about the old fashioned values we hear so much about but see so seldom. A family that truly loves each other. With the service this weekend, and with every time we all get together, there is so much love. It is literally tang able, thick enough to cut, and that is so rare in a family as large as ours.That we are a family of deep faith and unfailing loyalty. That we understand the meaning of honor and integrity, because we hold ourselves to the standards of those who came before us, not the watered down morals of today.

Yes, I am proud to be a part of the family whose name I carry. I am proud of the people in my family, proud of what we stand for, proud of what we are known for, proud to say that yes, I am theirs and they are mine. And that is such a blessing. Life is to be lived and celebrated. And we should all live and love to a higher standard than what we see in this day and age. Depth of character is far too rare these days, but I hear it is making a comeback.


Why There Must Be Evil

There has to be evil so that good can prove its purity above it. – Buddha

Sometimes we wonder why there is evil in the world, why there are bad people who do bad things to us or others. It is a universal question in life and humanity. I wondered it myself after I was attacked and still do to some extent. I wonder sometimes why evil exists at all. Why I had to see it – his violence, his rage, his lies, the deceit, the pure evil I saw in his eyes.

What takes the humanity away enough in a person for them to become evil and attack and harm another? What is the real definition of evil? It is different for each of us, or does it just depend on the damage it does? Is evil violence against another, a lie, or even a truth? Is it what we see in a horror movie or read in a book? Or it is only evil when it crosses that line and becomes real? And what would we not do to protect those we love, our family, our country, our freedom, from that kind of evil?

We have all seen evil in it’s various entities. I myself have in the eyes of another man and it choilled me to the bone. But knowing it exists, or even seeing it firsthand, and being a victim of it are two separate things entirely

The fact is…is that it is just life, and good and evil are a part of it. There must be villains in order for there to be hero’s.  There must be dark for there to be light. It is the struggle between the villain and the hero, the good and evil that exist in us all. It is what draws us in and what makes a good movie, TV show, or book. Think of how dismal the story of Star Wars would have been without this eternal struggle. There is a natural balance to life of which good and evil are a part.  It is also part of the fact that we all must go through hard times to grow, at least I think. And that makes perfect sense.

But more beyond these words, deeper than what is on this screen or those pages, is the message that goes down deep, to those places that exist in the dark. It is what gives us hope, that evil can be overcome, that darkness is taken by the light, that good will always win, eventually. How many literary works are based on this, from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, to The Shawshank Redemption, to even the Bible? Maybe it is the eternal optimist in me that makes me believe, after everything, this is still true. Because good and evil is at the core of all of us, and so is hope. Hope to overcome not only evil, but also adversity.

The same hope that tells me I can overcome any adversity is the some hope that tells me most people are, at the core of humanity, good. The same faith that tells me I can be stronger is the same faith that tells me those I love will do the best they can every day, even if I have seen otherwise. It is the same knowing that I am not a victim, just because evil exists. It all originates from the same deep place. And it is that place, deep within, that sit still and listen, so that I may touch the divine within myself. Because we know evil is out there, we must also know, within ourselves, that the good within us is stronger, that love is stronger, and that we are stronger.

This knowing seems to dispel the fear of evil. If we know that we are stronger, because good will overcome it, then how can we fear it? It is simply just a fact of life, no more, no less. And certainly nothing to be feared. Maybe even more of an inconvenience than anything. Yes, evil can be a bit scary, but so can a spider…until you realize how much larger are you than it.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:21

Grace and Thoughts

Yesterday was a very emotional and wonderful day for me, to find out that my father’s cancer is gone, liver cancer which is almost always a death sentence because it has been considered “Incurable,” is tremendous. To find that he will be fine once he gets over the effects of his last round of chemo, has left me stunned and amazed.

There truly are no words to describe the feeling. Both my parents have now survived and been cured or incurable, terminal cancers. It is a realization that has had a profound effect on me.

Yesterday, I sobbed. I sobbed outof happiness,  out of thankfulness, out of amazement and out of humbleness. Miracles have that effect on people. And my family has had a wonderful stream of miracles.

And I sobbed for another reason yesterday. How can I  be worthy of such miracles? I do not deserve them. I have done nothing that good. I have not been to church in many months, actually before the attack. I have not forgiven, I am still angry, I have not earned what I have been given. And yet, there is Grace for me.

And I have not been to service because I have not felt like I can ask forgiveness from God when I cannot forgive others. How can I? And this very wise person said to me, that I do no have to, that God’s forgiveness and love are a gift. His Grace is a gift. He can forgive us because he is God and is capable of infinite love. He is much more capable than we, in our limited human state, can even comprehend. Why, how, then would I expect myself to be at that level and able to forgive? If I cannot it is because I am human and have human limitations. But God’s Grace is there for me, and that is why it is called Grace.

And I sobbed. From the very deepest places within me, I sobbed.  It is one thing to read about the Grace of God, it is entirely another thing to have the realization that it is truly gifted to you when you try with all you have and still come up short.

This morning, I slept a bit late and let this really sink into me, into those deep places that seldom see light, into my soul and my inner conscienceness. And today, though I still walk around a bit stunned, I can feel something creep in….it is a joy that I have not felt in a long time. A joy deeper than I thought it could go. And I truly believe that anything is possible.

Don’t get me wrong, I have always been a very faithful and optimistic person, but this is deeper than I have felt before. It is more than a belief, it is a knowing. And how can I not know? How can I look at my parents, both who should be on deaths door with cancer, and not carry the belief that there are an infinite amount of possibilities out there? How can I not believe that my dreams can really come true when I look at the miracles in my family?

And so it is with this renewed sense of joy that I great the world with today, and every day from this day forward, with thankfulness in my heart, God in my soul, Grace in my mind and a sense of adventure in my hands.


Many have asked where I find the inspiration for a lot of the things and topics of which I write. The answer is simple – my life. I look around at what is going on, conversations I have, friends, family, work. I might see something on TV or a quote in a book. Sometimes I see other blogs, and when that happens I credit the blog for the inspiration. Inspiration can come from anywhere really, but mostly it comes from the people and places I encounter.

The blog on balancing needs was inspired by a conversaton with The Man and from my parents. Sometimes in life we simply cannot give everything to a relationship. And the all or nothing approach others take is a dangerous one that lacks compassion and understanding. For instance, when my mother was diagnosed with stage 4+ ovarian cancer, she had to focus on healing and surviving. she had nothing left to give to the relationship with  my Father, as her health took all of her energy and effort. Had he been an all or nothing person, he would have selfishly demanded more from her. Instead he carried her, picked up the slack when she could not give her 50% or even 100%, because she had to give everything to surviving the cancer, chemo and radiation.

Conversly, when my father was diagnosed with liver cancer, and he could not give to the relationship because he had to focus on healing, then that is when my mothered pciked up his slack and carried him. Again, if she was so selfish as to demand all or nothing from him, both would have lost. Instead, by showing love, compassion and understanding, both of them won. And so did we, their children.

The Man has told me it is ok when I feel overwhelmed right now, because he’s “got this and is not going anywhere.” That is is OK if I can’t always give my share, because he knows sometimes there are other things at play that must get extra attention. And I have promised the same to him. You carry each other, you do not demand all or nothing. You meet when the other is weak, or distracted, or needs more. You serve that person, and the relationship, with compassion, understanding and kindness. And you do not worry about the math, because in the end, when you serve and carry each other out of love, it will balance out. No calculator required, because it will always add up and balance. Love is like that you know.

So, with wonderful people like that in my life, showing me wonderful examples of what love is, of what it means to love and serve another, how can I not be inspired?