To each his own. To me my own.

Family

Escaping a Toxic Environment

A loved one in my life has been going through a lot lately. Honestly, so much has come to light the past week that my head is still spinning. Not only was I unaware of just how bad her own situation was, I was also in the dark about the toxicity of the conditions under which she has had to live. The everyday home life that’s supposed to be a safe place… a refuge.

This morning, I ran across an article I can only describe as one of the best published articles I’ve ever read. Not only is it well-written – it delves deep down into the crevices of certain ‘toxic environments’ we sometimes find ourselves in, exposing unspoken facets of unhealthy and even hellish habitats. After reading it (twice), I simply couldn’t continue on with my day without sharing it with all of you.

Escaping a Toxic Environment   – Written by Natalie Thomas

(Published in Huffington Post Healthy Living, 10/27/12)

We’ve all been in them. Situations so dire we lose hope, becoming the very person we pitied, dreaded, swore we’d never become. We talk of an exit like a dream scenario: a child running away with the circus, an adult winning the lotto and immediately quitting their job (not to mention the detailed disbursement of riches: 10 percent to charity, 10 to parents, 10 to splurge, 20 for dream home, 50 in savings). But somehow, we can’t seem to envision a world in which we get there. Capable, otherwise strong, able-bodied beings paralyzed by fear, believing the hype, fearing the backlash.

I’ve been in quite a few dysfunctional situations in my life: bad relationships, unhealthy work environments. And no matter the category, the symptoms are similar: broken-down self-esteem, misery-loves-company companionship, excuses like rain drops.

But while unhealthy intimate unions can wreak havoc on the psyche and may inform the way in which we treat others, it’s usually an insular thing. Group dysfunction, however, is far-reaching and often much more dangerous. They say there’s safety in numbers, but there’s also destruction.

My first experience with toxic circles began like most — in middle school. Her name was “Shannon.” Up until she arrived, we were a blissful, naïve little bunch. Most of us had grown up together, performed in dance recitals, shared many a sleepover and were on track to ride out our middle and high school years together, tight as ever. Then she showed up.

Within weeks, we turned on each other. Shannon decided who was in and who was out. One day you were popular and pretty, the next you were a pariah, with no warning, no bearing on your behavior or actions, simply her whim. She had the power and she abused it. Heavily. If you didn’t agree with her, didn’t laugh at her jokes at the expense of others or talk trash about your friends, you were her next target, and God bless you, because her bad side was everyone else’s backside. You were ostracized. No one would face or acknowledge you despite it having been done to them the week before — how horrific it felt, how they were raised, how much they knew it was wrong. They were just thrilled to be accepted again and did whatever it took to stay there, in her good — albeit evil — graces. Shannon transferred before high school, but it was too late. The damage was done. She came, she terrorized, she left. We were never the same.

It began in middle school. It should have ended there too. But we all know, sadly, that’s often not the case. I had a few more experiences through college and post but, thankfully, I was experienced enough to avoid the drama, speak up for my friends and myself and maintain some shred of dignity. Since Shannon, I’ve made a conscious effort to surround myself with trustworthy, unconditional, loyal and uneasily-influenced friends, so it wasn’t until I entered the working world that the toxicity returned.

Despite the professional setting, those with power and plenty on their plates, those who know better are often caught up in office drama, choosing sides and spewing names. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. They also manifest in all ages and professions. Just like middle school, in the corporate world there is a cool crowd with a penchant for hazing. And although the behavior is similar, the ability to remove oneself from it is likely harder. After all, beyond your reputation, your paycheck, career and livelihood are also at stake.

As a newbie, you’re tested, humiliated and alienated, but you suck it up and trudge on. Eventually you earn your place as newer souls are indoctrinated. There’s a level of pride and confidence that comes with seniority, being a veteran. You’re finally accepted and, initially, that’s enough for you. But eventually that too wanes, and you realize how silly it all is. You realize who you’ve become and, disgusted with yourself, start to break away from the group and forge your own identity. But it doesn’t come without a price.

As soon as they smell indifference, independence, you’re a target again. To blend in, strike a balance between individual and included, you laugh at the occasional joke, roll the obligatory eye, knowing it’s wrong. With each disparaging remark you champion, a bit of you erodes. This is not who you are, who you want to be. You are better than this. Better than them.

In winemaking, there’s something called bunch rot, in which one bad grape infects the group. Toxic friend and work situations are no different. By definition, toxicity is the degree to which something can damage. Make no mistake, these are damaged people — once smart, free-thinking, well-respected individuals now broken down to think and act like a vicious, rotten herd.

These cultish environments lead you to believe you are fortunate to be where you are, can never do better, there’s another waiting to take your place. Those that leave are ingrates, “depressives” — no matter how many years you gave, how hard you tried, how amicable you think you left, you are the enemy. Others are encouraged to shun you, engage in the shit-talking. The ringleader feels more secure — and less inclined to lash out — the louder the laughs. And so you do it; you laugh at what you know is wrong. You contribute in the ripping apart of your friend, your former colleague. It’s just easier. Knowing, hoping one day you too will be a refugee, doing all you can to better your situation in the meantime, adopting the mantras, lying to others and yourself. You are happy. It’s just temporary. Everyone else is doing it. It’s not that bad.

Until it’s finally your time. You’ve woken up, gathered the strength, gotten a better offer, had a life-changing experience… Whatever it is that is propelling you forward, upward, past the muck, the insipid and incestuous clone-like clique, you do it. You — gasp — leave.

You’re filled with a rush of emotions: elation, paranoia, sadness, relief. You seek shelter with other survivors, celebrate with drinks, commiserating about how bad it had gotten, exchanging war stories, your scars like badges of honor.

Away from the brainwashing and the negative influence, you realize how self-consumed you’d become, how jaded, how bitter. And, little by little, each moment without your toxic crutch, you become you again, realizing just how crippling your situation had been. You start to think like an independent, no longer part of a petty pack. You become kinder, lighter, sunnier. And soon it all starts to feel like a dream. A beautiful, shameful, fucked up dream.

You move on. You work on and better yourself. And you wait. You wait for the next embattled soul to wise up and join your fray. And you welcome them with outstretched arms and a cold beer. No “I told you sos,” no “What took you so long?” not even a “How could you do that to me?” because they know and, with one look, you do too. It wasn’t them. It was the atmosphere, the influence. After all, you once were there too. And you don’t “get it” until you’re gone. And once you are is when you really start living again.

For more by Natalie Thomas, click here.

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Identities

I’ve grown comfortably accustomed to my husband working out of town. Would I rather have him working locally? Of course. But we both realize sometimes sacrifices must be made in order to earn a living. We’ve been blessed in more ways than I can begin to count, this would include us both having successful careers as well as remaining gainfully employed.

For a while now, I’ve felt like my one life has been split into two different realms of existence. I don’t know quite how to describe this feeling; it’s just weird. I really had gotten used to these different realms – because at the end of every week, my husband would be back home. Each week I would morph from my single-life-working-girl realm back into my ‘whole’ realm which includes my husband on the weekends. Oh how I cherish the whole realm… I anticipate it’s arrival the entire week.

TwoMes

Last month Keith was given notice that his new job site was not only much further from home, but also mandated overtime hours – meaning no more coming home time for a good while. It’s so strange.  Now I can see these two familiar realms being transformed into a new third existence. An existence where I just… am. Literally, I’m just there. Not sure what to really do. Yeah, it’s pretty tough to explain, obviously.

MissingIdentity

I miss him. Badly.

I do realize he could be deployed overseas for many months at a time. I am grateful that’s not the case. While I don’t whine out loud much about the situation (doesn’t do any good and no one really wants to hear about it anyway), I can and will write about it. That much at least helps.

I’m not afraid, quite the contrary. It’s the loneliness factor that comes into play… that empty hole feeling inside my gut. This is in addition to feeling like I’m thrown into this third identity. It’s not the same as living alone as I’ve done in the past. It’s quite different than living alone, because I actually know what I’m missing… and, what we both are missing out on.


Okie-dokie, Doggy Daddy…

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And guess what… WE DID IT!!

What started out as any other beautiful sunny September day slowly and surely graduated to rain as the evening fell. Ah, well. Thank goodness for that glorious Plan B, which is one big reason we chose this particular venue. Besides, a little rain never hurt nothin’.

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The original plan was to be married by the lake in front of a beautifully draped alter adorned with hanging crystals to reflect the sun and water. As it turns out, we wed indoors in front of the fireplace – nonetheless very beautiful in it’s own unique way. (And believe me, I’ll find a fanciful DIY project with which to use the hanging crystals and reams of unused alter material!)

In addition, I’ll always have the memory of that beautiful sunset night at rehearsal.

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While our real pictures are pending final edits from the photog, we’re currently depending on the ones our friends and family have so graciously supplied.

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This man has made my dreams come true. Speaking of which, after the ceremony we danced back down the aisle to our chosen recessional “You Make My Dreams Come True” by Hall & Oates, with everyone behind us following suit. I consider it my very own True Romance. Hey, Tarantino… can ya top that one?


A treasure chest

I’ve always been concerned with how people perceive me, more than I ever should be. I’m not talking about outer appearances – mostly I mean seeking approval from others which is impossible half the time anyway. I continually watch what I say, how it may be taken, and a truckload of other crap that I shouldn’t even bother with. I’m well aware this trait is a complete waste of time and energy, but it’s a curse that I’ve never been able to completely harness. Maybe someday.

Acts of kindness, compassion and generosity which are shown at ‘less than favorable’ times in your life can and should be seen as a huge blessing. Things such as receiving a sympathy card when a loved one has passed away, being brought a prepared dish that someone made just for you – even a personal phone call can be equally as significant. In this day and age, if someone thinks enough of you to pick up the phone and call you – you’re special. Know that you actually have meaning and worth to them.

Each and every act of kindness and concern I was shown during the past few weeks humbled me. It was, in fact, overwhelmingly humbling. If knowing that people are thinking kind thoughts about you isn’t humbling to us as an individual, then I’d be stumped as to what is. It’s just that black and white to me.

My dear mother called me a couple times each day, so worried. Even now, I so wish I could have kept that worry from her. My dad and daughter were very concerned. Keith’s sweet sister called me every day, too. Keith was, of course, an invaluable help with everything. I received many phone calls, visits, texts and emails from various friends, family, neighbors, coworkers and blogging buddies. Another coworker had chocolate strawberries shipped to my house. The day I came back to work, three pressmen in our shop had bought flowers and had a sign sitting on my desk welcoming me back.

Humbling, I tell you. Looking back on it brings tears to my eyes just writing about it. So I got to thinking… maybe I really should try harder not to worry about what people think of me. I feel the love.


Mom

The following is a widely spread story/poem in which the author remains unknown… I felt Mother’s Day weekend was a most appropriate time in which to share. I wish all of you exceptional ladies a very special and memorable day spent with loved ones.

And, Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. 🙂

The child asked God, “They tell me you are sending me to earth tomorrow, but how am I going to live there being so small and helpless?”

“Your angel will be waiting for you and will take care of you.”

The child further inquired, “But tell me, here in Heaven I don’t have to do anything but sing and smile to be happy.”

God said, “Your angel will sing for you and will also smile for you. And you will feel your angel’s love and be very happy.”

Again the child asked, “And how am I going to be able to understand when people talk to me if I don’t know the language?”

God said, “Your angel will tell you the most beautiful and sweet words you will ever hear, and with much patience and care, your angel will teach you how to speak.”

“And what am I going to do when I want to talk to You?”

God said, “Your angel will place your hands together and will teach you how to pray.”

“Who will protect me?”

God said, “Your angel will defend you even if it means risking it’s life.”

“But I will always be sad because I will not see You anymore.”

God said, “Your angel will always talk to you about Me and will teach you the way to come back to Me, even though I will always be next to you.”

At that moment there was much peace in heaven, but voices from Earth could be heard and the child hurriedly asked, “God, if I am to leave now, please tell me my angel’s name.”

God looked softly down at the child and whispered, “Your angel’s name is of no importance. You will simply call her ‘Mom’.”


Stand For Change Day

This Friday, May 4th, is the inagural “Stand for Change” day – a day in which participating schools across the US will attempt to raise awareness of bullying in our youth.

I wasn’t a stranger to bullying as a child. I remember a boy named Randy decided to make me his target in 5th grade. For virtually half the school year he threatened me with his fists and chased me. When I finally told my mother and grandmother about it, my grandmother happened to get off early so she came by the school to pick me up. I felt so brave with her there that I walked right up to Randy with my head held high and planted myself about a foot in front of him. He gripped the front of my t-shirt all the way up to my chin (I still can feel the embarrassment of having my bare chest exposed to everyone) then rared back the other fist to punch me. Lo and behold, here comes my Savior disguised as a white haired lady – belting out of a yellow Ford Pinto and hauling ass across the parking lot. Once Randy saw her, he ran away as fast as he could. He was almost laughed out of class the next day for the incident. Nothing like your family’s love! Incidentally, Randy never bothered me again, and we even ended up becoming close friends in Junior High School.

I’m fortunate not to have experienced any bullying from other females. The same sex can be so competitive, especially in this day and age. Add to that all the social networking sites and internet that we didn’t have back then… well you get my point.

It’s true that today, over 160,000 kids stayed home from school from fear of bullying. FEAR. A word I so despise… especially when paired with intimidation. That type of fear is gut-wrenching, especially when you feel like you’re in it alone. It’s a fear that can escalate into suicidal thoughts, and actions. If that’s not enough to grab our attention, I don’t know what is.

I’m sad to learn only certain states or even lone cities here in the US are participating in this classroom awareness event on Friday – Florida seems to be the largest participant and I applaud them for that. Remember that even if you don’t have young children – bullying has probably affected your life in some way, shape or form. Perhaps you remember how it felt to be bullied as a child – maybe you have grandkids to worry about. Promoting awareness and just plain getting it out in the open is crucial.

There’s no place for hate. We have more than enough hate to deal with as adults – we need to do everything we can to protect our children.

Stand for Change.  http://stand4change.org/

No Place for Hate.  http://www.adl.org/npfh/


Mr. Mojo Risin’

I found the little boy an hour after he was posted on the shelter’s website, and immediately called to inquire on him. I was told there was someone else also interested, but that the staff would put a ‘note’ out for him with my contact info signalling I was interested too. I know how this works and have done it before, many times. Realizing the shelter operates on a first-come first-serve basis, I literally ran up to my boss and asked if I could leave work an hour early, which he graciously obliged.

As I walked in the door, my heart sank – a large woman with another small dog in tow already had him in the acquainting room with her. I watched as she shooed him off with her foot and leg, and barked out commands which the little eleven-week puppy had yet to learn (she was also blissfully unaware of her loud voice bellowing into the corrider for everyone else to hear). I went to the front desk and spoke to the girls about ‘pup’, telling them I also had a note out on him. To my chagrin they informed me that Mean Lady™ was going to adopt him. Mean Lady™ had been there for hours waiting to adopt, but their computer system was down and they had to wait for it to come back up to complete the adoption. I verified once again that this was to be a sure thing, and they told me it was. As I walked toward the exit door, I noticed Mean Lady™ had her oversized leg and foot outstretched again towards the pup. I left the shelter in tears even though I’d never even met the little fella. I wondered just what kind of life he had in store for him.

That night at home I told Keith about my misadventure at the shelter and that Mean Lady™ was probably at home with her new pup by now. I pulled up the shelter’s website on the internet to show Keith his picture and immediately noticed he was still listed. They probably haven’t updated their database, I thought. I called them up anyway.

“Hello, my name is Bonnie Melton and…”

“Oh, Miss Melton, we were just about to call you!

“You werrrrrrre??”

As it turned out, Mean Lady™ thought the pup would grow to be ‘too big for her needs’ (I’m thinking she knew she couldn’t kick around a larger dog). Just as well.

SCORE ONE FOR THE BON.

Meet Mr. Mojo Risin. That’s Mojo to his homies. I guess now I’ll be able to say with full confidence… I’ve got my mojo back.

NewMommy said we’re going HOME now. I like the word home… it sounds homey.

My new sissy. I like sissies, cuz’ they give good kisses.

See?? Told ya.


I’m so sleepy and NewMommy’s purse is oh-so-comfy.

I think NewMommy needs some direction here…

What?? Who, me – pull?? Never.

The little eleven week-old border collie mix has stolen my heart from the very beginning. How someone could mistreat these little defenseless animals is beyond me. Here’s an added bonus… Mojo and Camille have the same color scheme going on! So does that mean I can say I have designer pets??


After Effects

This past Friday my daughter underwent oral surgery to have her remaining two wisdom teeth removed. I dreaded this almost as much as she did. Exactly two years ago, the abominable happened – lack of sufficient novocaine administered prior to surgery caused my kid to wake up screaming in pain in the recovery room. Once home, she passed out from the pain, thankfully her Dad was standing behind her at the time and able to catch her. Both he and I shed tears for her that day… there’s nothing that compares to seeing your child in that much pain and not being able to help. It took a good 3-4 hours to get it under control, and we worried about the risk of overmedication to get her there.

This time she opted to return to her original surgeon with whom she’d had a good experience, having four of her front teeth pulled prior to getting braces. The icing on the cake ended up being the cost – Mr. Botched Job charged her almost double of what was charged this past Friday. And just so we’re clear, I define a good oral surgery experience as not waking up in the recovery room screaming in pain – it seems to be a highly coveted perk of choosing a proven and trusted oral surgeon. If it ain’t broke… let’s not try to fix it.

The effects from anesthesia can make you very funny or very sick, or a combination of the two. In the case of Julia vs. Anesthesia – she was 100% hilarious. Once in the car she asked for chapstick, and it’s funny how a simple little thing like chapstick can become so confusing. The outside plastic came off in her hand with the actual top remaining in place. I glanced over to see her dazedly holding it – staring back and forth from the plastic, to the lid, back to the plastic, then back to the lid. God only knows how long this would’ve gone on if I hadn’t intervened.

My goal was to take her straight home, then head back out solo to fill her prescription. That goal was thwarted when she announced she wanted to ‘pick herself out some ice cream’ (I’m an old softie to that word ‘puh-leassssse‘). I obliged her request, by then knowing better than to leave her in the car alone. As we made our way across the parking lot I asked her to hold my hand while we crossed (remember, she’s 24). She actually stood there a second thinking about it, until it hit her like a ton of bricks. “NOOOO!!”

I should’ve known there was more than just ice cream on this kid’s mind. Once inside, she immediately started searching for another wheelchair to ride in – I thank the dear Lord one wasn’t available. She graduated over to the special motorized cart and it took a minute to convince her she was too impaired to drive it. Finally, a partially deflated red balloon on the floor stole her attention. She dragged that balloon around behind her the entire time.

I glanced down at my watch. In a moment of horror, I realized the pharmacy didn’t open for another 15 minutes. What the heck was I going to do with her all this time? It was like having a full-grown toddler to watch after, and we’re all aware of Bon’s patience level with unruly children.

The newly adopted orphan balloon.

It took a moment to remember she didn't much care for Jeff Gordon.

Once she decided on her ice cream, I proceeded to peel it from her hands and place it in the basket. Guiding her in the direction of the pharmacy (which didn’t open for another 10 minutes) I discovered they actually sell canes in this grocery store. Did she find them, you may ask? Absolutely. Up she walks leaning on one like a pro, looking like she’d just found her best friend. I’d love to post the video, but my life would be in danger if I did.

Hats off to good experiences.


Big 24

That Saturday night after I ingested my second dose of castor oil, I thought it might finally be ‘time’. I was almost three weeks overdue, after all – her originally scheduled arrival was to be on or near my own birthday. The next bright and beautiful Sunday morning, I was holding the most precious bundle God could have ever entrusted me with. We named her Julia Christine.

Her first dip in the ocean at 3 months old, 1988

I’ve never seen anyone love their birthday more than she does. I can still see her now at 3 and 4 years old, both palms facing up while shrugging those little shoulders, saying “tomorrow’s my birf-day!!” Even now, she literally starts planning birthday gatherings a couple of weeks ahead of time. She’s an expert at managing my side, her dad’s side, and her friends. 🙂

Where has the time gone? It sure didn’t take long for her to grow into a strong, independent, beautiful woman with a heart the size of Texas. She’s opinionated, witty, polite, and her kindness knows no bounds. I’m proud of her work ethic including everything she accomplished in school and college. I’d love another one like her, or even two… but I’ll remain happy with the one God bestowed me with and continue to be ever thankful.

Happy big 24, babygirl.


Here, hold my eggplant

Today’s date with my daughter at the farmers market was to start bright and early at 8 am, per her request. The little darling overslept, leaving me there to people-watch for over an hour which is a bad move. I’ve since decided ‘opening time’ at the farmer’s market isn’t necessarily the best time for yours truly to arrive. Why? Because this is when all the skinny little vegan people are scurrying about, looking desperately hungry, frail and cold. It’s not hard for me to spot ’em – their beady little accusing eyes attempting to size me up tends to give me the creeps. The women’s ponytails are pulled so tight it could actually serve as a breast-lift. Instead of one canvas tote, they’re carrying three or four – still requiring a dump of the first load in their car before going back in for another round. With stern expressions, they complete their mission like a well-oiled machine. Truth is, I guess I’m more of the I’m hungover, slept ’til noon and decided to come out in my pajamas®  type. Sue me.

So that’s my observation on spotting a vegan. I also learned something today from babygirl – it appears I’ve mispronounced ‘vegan’ all my life (for the short time I’ve known what they were, anyway). Apparently the correct pronunciation is vee’-gan, with a long e and hard g. I like my own pronunciation better, which is ve’-jan, with a short e and soft g. This just makes more sense to me – it sounds short for vegetable, which is what they eat, right? Vee’-gan sounds too much like a monster or witch or something. So I think I’ll keep saying ve’-jan.

I’m just having a little fun here, so if you’re one of ‘them’ I’m sure I hope you don’t resemble the vast stereotype I witnessed today. Word… I just might have joined forces with you if I didn’t enjoy my meat so [very very] much. Then again, I could never give up that extra-heavy leather coat I got for Christmas that still permeates an entire room with the most pungently aromatic leather smell everrrrr. Pure Heaven, I tell you.

Off to cook my chicken. And zucchini. And squash. And corn. Did I mention I’m having chicken?


The Woman with no Middle Name

I was raised living with both my Mother and Grandmother (Mammaw), to whom I give credit for many ‘old-school’ morals I had instilled. Looking back now, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Born in 1917, she rose in the era of the Great Depression – a gentle, vibrant and curious child number five out of an eventual ten. Of her nine sisters and brothers, Marjorie McCorkle was the only child who was not assigned a middle name. At the very least, these odds alone might deliver a hefty blow to one’s own self-worth. The others were all given distinguished middle names, such as Coolidge, Fletcher, Louise and Gleason – so it still behooves me as to why her parents would choose to let one child go without that very important integer in their life.

I overheard the story several times throughout my childhood. “It must not have been important at the time. All the other children were given a middle name – except for me.” Whenever she talked about it, she always smiled – but I knew that smile all too well. Marjorie had become a master of hiding any hurt behind that beautiful smile of hers.

The meaning of the name Marjorie is ‘Pearl’ – I found the description to coincide as closely with her persona as it did the effect she had on people. It is a strong and elegant name, one of empowering status. It may be pronounced the English way by way of MAARJHeriy (to sound like a ‘zh’ instead of a ‘j’). I wish I’d known the meaning of Marjorie before now, as she would have had some damn nice pearls. What is it they say about hindsight again?

It interested me to learn of some famous personalities who were born in 1917: Zsa Zsa Gabor, Desi Arnaz, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Lena Horne, Richard Boone, Phyllis Diller, Joan Fontaine, Robert Mitchum, Susan Hayward and Jane Wyman. At this very moment I can almost sense her reply, “I’ll bet they all had middle names.” And you know, she was probably right.

In pondering the subject, perhaps for too long – I have decided to give my dear grandmother an honorary middle name. I ended up with two full legal pad pages of names. My final choice was not taken lightly, nor was it made quickly.

From beginning to end the name Elizabeth refused to leave my head. At some point during my childhood, I remember her telling me she did love that name – perhaps would have even picked it for herself. In biblical times, Elizabeth was John the Baptist’s Mother. The name Elizabeth is from a Greek translation of the Hebrew name Elisheva, meaning “God’s promise”, “oath of God”, or “God’s daughter”. Elizabeth has always been a widely used English name, of which my grandmother was of Irish-English ancestry. It makes perfect sense for her to have been given an English first and middle name, whilst carrying the Irish surname – eventually changing back to English once she was married. How I do love things that make sense; there are so very few in the world that do.

It may be 95 years late, dear Marjorie – but do know that you were extremely worthy in all aspects. This albeit ‘honorary’ bestowal comes with much love and adoration from your ‘bunny rabbit’ who misses you still, every day.

Until that fabulous day when we meet again, Marjorie ‘Elizabeth’ McCorkle Jones. And guess what, Mammaw? It’s got a real nice ring to it…


Happy Birthday Mammaw… and Betty White

Today is Betty White’s 90th birthday – so here’s a big ole’ shoutout to one of the funniest ladies ever. I heart Betty White. I mean I really-really BIG ole’ heart Betty White. Why? For a whole truckload of reasons, really… the main one being that she’s always reminded me so much of my own Mammaw.

Betty and my Mammaw share the same birthday. Betty was born on January 17, 1922; Mammaw on January 17, 1917 – both children of the great depression under very different circumstances. Betty had originally aspired to become a writer, until she wrote and played the lead in a graduation play at school where she discovered her interest in acting. She has always had the unique ability to sustain grace, class and elegance while showcasing her superior wit, charm, and sense of humor.

Marjorie McCorkle Jones not only possessed that graceful and elegant forte, raised to appreciate the finer things though her life had many struggles – she had an extraordinary sense of humor. She could light a dark room up with her smile and laughter. One day, she’d hop like a bunny across the floor for me – the next, chase my bully off across the school parking lot (if you’ve never seen a bulging pre-teen boy running from a white-haired lady hauling ass out of a yellow Ford Pinto, I highly recommend you do). My Mammaw was a good Christian lady who always knew her place and loved the Lord dearly – but like Betty, she hadn’t a single inhibition of the occasional curse word passing her lips when so warranted. She loved to laugh more than any person I’ve ever known, lest I include myself.

Through the years I’ve followed Betty’s career, I’ve found the two personalities to so closely mimic each other that I could actually imagine a scenario of Betty and Mammaw being best friends back in the day. Her and a group of her girls skipping a day of high school together as they swung from vines underneath an old one-lane bridge on Old Dowd Road – where one eventually fell, broke her arm and brought the fun to a screeching halt. True story. Minus the Betty White scenario.

For the above and many more reasons, I’ve officially added Betty to my I’d love to Spend 24 Hours With… list. To hang out with this chick for a whole day would be a much-needed blast. In my book, she’d be right up there with Ellen.

So… Happy 90th, Miss Betty White Ludden. And Happy 95th to you up there in Heaven, dear Mammaw – if the earth numbers even matter now. Big hugs and kisses, from your bunny rabbit. 🙂


By the Light of the Full Moon

How do I start this, I sit here and wonder to myself. Do I even want to write about it at all?  Not really. Do I need to?  Probably. Problem is, my fingers don’t want to do the talking either. What the hell am I afraid of writing? Hello out there… brain to fingers – get to moving, babies. I need to get this out.

More ‘stuff’ over at the old house to go sort through. When my ex contacted me about it last week, I thought there was maybe just a bag or two to pick up. It was this time about four years ago when we were busy ‘splitting’ stuff. We stayed busy ‘splitting’ for months on end – after all, you do tend to accumulate a shitload throughout twenty-one years. So we split, split and split some more. When the emotions would get too high, we’d quit and start up again the next day, splitting again. I remember the pictures were the hardest – boxes and boxes of them.

I thought everything had been done. Nope… there’s more. Let’s go take care of it – it’s Goodwill or bust, ya know.

I’ve only had to go back over to the house a handful of times during the last several years. I don’t like driving through the neighborhood. I don’t like going down the street. I do NOT WANT to go in the house, as my daughter insisted on today “Mom, Dad knows you’re gonna be here to go through this stuff – I told him and he’s okay with it.” And so I commenced inside, where neatly stacked in her old room was a good-sized pile that came from the attic. Old baby clothes, stuffed animals, my old knitting materials, some outdated clothes, a few things that belonged to my grandmother, some of my old toys as a kid, all the missing Halloween decorations, and cards. If I failed to mention it before, I do not like going through cards.

Just when I think I’m a step ahead of the game, a day like today comes and knocks me back down a notch. Reminds me that I might not be as strong as I think I am. Was. Whatever. I must swallow the fact that I will forever have these demons, I’ve just realized they aren’t going to go away. What is it? No matter, for what’s done is done. My biggest demon? Failure. Still haven’t moved past that effing failure thing.

Through the years, I’ve learned a neat little trick. I can usually disguise the funk with a smile – on a good day, maybe even season it up with my boisterous laughter. It’s a trick my Mammaw taught me, albeit unconsciously. Ordinarily, it works. Until I’m alone. But that’s what matters, right? It’s just enough to get ya through a tight spot, when someone might be looking. Alone… well, you’re just that. On your own.

I guess the passage of time really isn’t all that when it comes to healing, or growing, or progressing, or whatever it is they say you do. I realize there are good days and bad, for all of us. As for me, I’m just thankful for that huge smile I was born with.


Merry Christmas To You

It’s early, barely past twilight, and it’s Christmas. I’ve been awake for a couple hours now even though bedtime came late last night.

Christmas is here, the celebration of our Savior’s birth. The little baby whose bed was a manger on that cold star-filled night. Little did he know what was to lie ahead for him. Then again, maybe he did.

This has been the most amazing Christmas ever. Our girls are here and still snuggled tight under the covers fast asleep. I’d love to get a picture of them, but I don’t feel like getting killed today. 🙂 Stockings are filled, and I’m simply biding time with this little post before I start cooking breakfast and have to wake everyone.

I wish every one of you the merriest of Christmases, spent with good friends and family.

And Happy Birthday, Jesus.


Falling Chips

My mother and her husband finally got out of town for a couple of days. She’s had a rough Summer with her brother passing away recently from a terminal illness, add to that the fact they haven’t been anywhere in years. Everyone deserves a vacation every now and then, and it’s been way too long for them.

Our family has this unique ability of finding humor in our own self, and Mom is no exception. The kind of laughter I heard from her yesterday was priceless, it’s the kind of laughter I haven’t heard in a long time. Mammaw was terrific at it too, and Mom is definitely a chip off the ole’ block! She was laughing so hard I couldn’t even understand her (no alcohol involved). Of course she couldn’t leave her husband out of the ‘roast’, so he got included too. 🙂

The complicated directions they were given to their room in the casino hotel made me think of the Griswold’s Vegas Vacation. There’s my sick sense of humor – I usually think of a movie to compare things to. Now, if Mom comes home with Wayne Newton on her arm I’m gonna have to give her a lecture.


Der Geier

A vulture is described as: a large bird of prey, characteristically having dark plumage and a featherless head and neck, feeding chiefly on carrion (carcasses of dead animals). Ironically enough, a second definition is listed below the initial one: A person of a rapacious, predatory, or profiteering nature.

Why would someone not want to be around a person in life – but choose to circle overhead after they’re dead and gone?

A couple of days ago a dear relative of mine lost a courageous battle with a terminal illness. This person died alone, without their children. This person cried about their children and continually asked ‘what could I have done so horrible that they wouldn’t want to see me or even speak to me?’. I saw the tears.  I saw the hurt. I saw the raw pain.

I saw it. My mother saw it. They did not.

They were immediately made aware of the situation as it began last August, when the first surgery occurred. Since then there have been multiple hospital stays, tests, scans, and more tests. I relayed information to them as I had it. The unresponsiveness forced me to type an email to inform of the finality of the illness. I had to send a freaking email to say the word terminal.

But it was all in vain.

The very evening of this person’s death, we were told to get there quickly – the heart is failing. I called and left word with the children, who of course are grown. It’s bad, I said. If you want to see him, you’d better get there quick. I left the room number.

All in vain.

Keep your sorry excuses. Continue to justify abandoning your parent at a time when they needed you the most – as they lay there dying. I hope you sleep well at night. Instead of counting sheep, maybe you can count all those tears your father shed for both of you.


The Truth

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to have my Dad over. We cooked out Saturday night and watched a movie afterwards, and the next morning attended service at his church. With it being a 50-mile drive from my home to his church, Keith suggested that him spending the night might make things easier. I can’t express how grateful I was for the opportunity to do this.

I was able to meet Dad’s fellow church members, many of which are elders. Those of us who were early sat on the side pews and conversed amongst each other. I didn’t pay much mind to a kindly gentleman who got up and went back outside, until Dad turned around later and said, “That’s Mr. and Mrs. Q. They can’t take care of each other anymore, and live separately. Every Sunday morning he eagerly waits outside for her to arrive.”

I would estimate Mr. and Mrs. Q to be in their nineties. As I turned around and watched them come ever so slowly down the isle, arm in arm – my heart melted. What I saw wasn’t two elders. I saw a very beautiful couple, each wearing a wide smile. Love radiated outward from them, I mean they actually glowed. It seemed a real-life version of The Notebook, and I found myself wanting to know more about this couple I’d never met.

After church, we went to my great aunt and uncle’s house where they had prepared us a feast for lunch. They recently celebrated 62 years together – not only are they very dear, but very wise. I’d like to give you an example of just how wise.

While seated across the table from them, Uncle N said, “The secret of a long and happy marriage is always telling each other the Truth. No matter what, even if it’s something the other doesn’t want to hear. When you tell them the Truth, it gives them worth. It verifies they are valuable to you.” Aunt D listened intently while nodding her head in complete agreement. Anyone could see how deep in love they still are, even more so, after all these years.

None of us are perfect, for there is but One that is. The trivial things in life are really that – trivial. I see it as black and white, really; the things that actually matter in life are just plain common sense. I believe a couple should respect each other enough to abide by Truth together. I’ve never understood what could be so hard about that.

From the very beginning K and I each made Truth a requirement, not an option. Sure, sometimes it’s going to be something hard to say or hear. Some of these things can and will cause hurt. But if you repeatedly withhold that Truth, deprive a person of it – you’ll see what you have left in the end…


Selfless; antonym

K was supposed to get his daughter over the weekend. In talking to her last night, she told him she really wanted to spend time with her boyfriend. Although he was disappointed, he told her sure. He understands what comes first in a 14-yr old girls life – friends and boys. It’s not been so long ago that my own daughter was that age, and once upon a time I was that teenager, too.

I understand that K and his ex had a difficult divorce. I’m also well aware of how she kept his daughter from him for almost 2 years of her life, and how much he missed her. When all is said and done, a 2-year wedge is hard to remove. What I don’t understand is this. WHY can’t parents share a common ground when it comes to the child they supposedly love so much? To me, it’s selfish – plain and simple. I’ll say it again because it very much bears repeating – SELFISH. It accomplishes nothing but hurting your child. An example, you ask? Well, here ya go.

Last year, Keith, his daughter, my daughter and I went to the local theme park. That same day he was sweet enough to buy all four of us season passes for the following (2011) year. Since we live so close, he figured it a great investment for an entire summer of fun. While on the phone with his daughter last night, she mentioned that her mother was getting her a season pass. K asked why, that she already had one and didn’t need it. She replied that her mother wasn’t going to let her bring her pass to his house when it was ‘his weekend’. He said, ‘but you won’t have to, because you’ll have the one I bought you – why would you need two passes?’ She never could really answer why. You see, he has no problem with her using her pass whenever she wants… that includes when she’s at home with mom. It’s hers. He bought it for her unconditional use. Apparently, mom’s rules are a bit skewed.

I can only go by past antics, but when ‘his weekend’ rolls around his daughter might show up with no pass (the one he bought) because mom won’t allow her to bring it.

Rule #253… no fun allowed at dad’s, ever.

So now what? Will K be forced to keep the pass at his house, so she’ll have one when he gets her for the weekend? Seriously… what benefit could this whole thing possibly have for their daughter? More importantly, what lesson could it be teaching her?

Aside from the obvious… how about ‘how to waste money the most economical way possible’? Yeah. Hats off to ya there.


As Time Goes By

I have no idea where time is going. It’s flying by so quickly and I feel I’m getting nothing done – not the things that are really tops on my to-do list, anyway.

I want to get started on some brochure work I promised a friend for her side business. I miss writing!! I want to spend more time with my family. I want to catch up on the few blogs I follow. I seriously need to get a grip on my time management skills. And I need to start packing to move. Hey Bon… would you like some cheese with that whine?

I haven’t mushed and gushed about romance for awhile and boy do I feel the need… so if this topic isn’t for you then this is quite possibly your stopping point. When exactly did I start believing that my Prince actually did exist? I can’t say exactly. All I can say now is that he does. In him, I have found everything and more that I thought never existed in a soulmate. I have happened upon a treasure – one that I want to expose to the entire world. Sometimes I find myself feeling paranoid that something is going to ruin what could only be described as my fairy tale love affair. I worry about car accidents, deadly diseases and crime. I know I shouldn’t, the Lord takes care of everything in His way – but I worry just the same. I mentioned this to my daughter, and you know what her response was? ‘Mom, that’s an actual condition associated with an anxiety disorder. It’s not that uncommon and if it’s really bothering you, there’s help for it‘.

That’s my little psychology major.

So, play it once, Sam, for old times sake…


Happy Birthday Mom

Today is my Mama’s birthday. We’ll all meet up tonight for dinner at the steak house on the lake (which is where she chose). There the views are excellent and the food is delicious.

It doesn’t seem that long ago when I had to tilt my head up to look at her, not very long at all. Even though she might not know it, she was always my best friend even back then. We did everything together – listened to eight-tracks, cooked oven-doughnuts and pizzas, watched our televisions shows and jumped the ocean waves together. We share the same apparent love for the sea, as we used to float alongside each other for hours on end.

Of course those teenage years came when I rebelled, and turned into what could have possibly been her worst nightmare. I’ve often wished I could reverse time and rethink some of my actions, but this is just not meant to be. In my most rebellious of years, she actually met and married her soulmate – who I’m convinced God sent to her at the most needed time in her life.

Timing. It really is everything.

Today, she’s still my best friend. As was her mother was her best friend. As I hope I will be my own daughter’s best friend. Life is an ongoing circle, always. May we always be appreciative of what we have at the given time.

Happy Birthday, Mama!