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Posts tagged “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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New Year, New Beginnings Part VI

What a whirlwind of a year 2014 has been. It does seem now that every year goes by quicker than the last, and as time marches on I find myself saying it more and more.

My ‘word of the year’ usually comes pretty easy for me. As this year drew to a close, I found myself still searching for one. 2013’s was Persistence, 2012 was Disclosure, 2011 was Transitional, 2010 was Serene, 2009 was Colorful, and of course my inaugural word of the year for 2008 was Monumental. So how do I compete with any or all of those?

Personally I’m ready to put 2014 behind me. In this particular year, my father was diagnosed with dementia, and my mother with breast cancer. I’ve actually contemplated the word tumultuous to describe the year, but I find that an extremely negative description to mark an entire year with. Can’t say I didn’t think about it for a minute, though.

The word Endurance seems fitting. Because no matter what life throws our way, we’re pretty much forced to steel our resolve and keep moving forward. The only other choice would be to lie down and give up, and that’s just not a choice I’ll make.

Yep, Endurance. It’s got a nice little ring to it.

And hey, 2014 – don’t let the back door knick your heels too hard on the way out.

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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.


Happiness is Homemade

It is to me, at least.

My circle of friends is small, and that’s by choice. Once you’ve been burnt by a select few throughout the course of a lifetime, it becomes pretty easy to build up that old retaining wall – to keep the nicely filtered water safe inside and disastrous tidal waves out. The quality level of my true friends is nothing short of stellar now – that’s what is important to me. I love having a friend I know so well that half the time we actually finish each other’s sentences. With most every subject, Lou and I end up having the same opinion. On the rare occasions we don’t agree on something, we still respect each others opinions. Neither of us have ever tried to change each other, nor persuade the other into doing something we’re uncomfortable with. Because a ‘real’ friend would never do that.

Lou and I have joked for years now about how we would be perfectly content to drive home from work on Friday and not leave out again until Monday rolls around. Once home from work on a weekday, we won’t start our car and go out again until the next workday. Doesn’t matter if we’re in need of something, it has to wait. You’d literally have to light a fire under both our asses to get us back out. Like many others, we both have a dog waiting for us to get home. Fact is, any type of errand after work requires careful prioritizing because of our pets – but I don’t know a pet-lover out there that begrudges this. I wouldn’t trade a thing.

I’m not complaining about any of this – quite the contrary. It makes me happy going straight home and and staying home. I’m not a socially active person by nature, never have been. Once in a while Keith and I will have a family event to attend over the weekend which we enjoy. I just find joy in weekends which have no plans whatsoever – aside from the rare impromptu day trip with him.

Speaking of my husband. He’s a hard-working man who works out of state all week and only comes home on the weekends. After so long it became routine like anything else – I just got used to it. I am not afraid. I’ve got my fearless boy Mojo, a fully loaded S&W and a quite sophisticated home security system. All that said, when the weekend finally does get here I relish my time with him. Since the weekend is all we have, we definitely make the most of every moment together. Hey, I realize it could always be worse – he could be deployed overseas for months or even years. I’m thankful for the time I do have with him and everything else we’ve been blessed with.

I’ve never been a bar person by choice. Ever. There’s something very sad to me about bars. Again, just my personal preference and opinion. We do enjoy having dinner with our parents on occasion. I don’t socialize with friends on a ‘regular’ basis aside from maybe a couple times a year, then it’s usually just for dinner or when someone is moving away or some life-changing event like that. I do not enjoy shopping – while I know this is weird for a woman, trust me when I say I’m totally okay with it. I guess the most social I’ve been in my entire life was last summer while I was busy planning our wedding, which I’ll admit about killed me. Literally had to be somewhere or meet up with someone 3-4 times a week. My stress and anxiety levels were off the charts. It was during this time that my friend Lou even sacrificed her own after-work time (something we both hold sacred, remember?) to plod the hot summer streets with me to help search for a wedding dress. I remember that after the wedding was over, I couldn’t wait to get back to my old ‘rut’. And so I did. I didn’t walk… I literally RAN back to it.

Ah… the aroma of sweet familiarity. Mmmm – smells SO so good. Just. Breathe. It. In. And Relax.

So what’s the point of all this, Bon? This is getting a little monotonous.

Apparently there are some out there bearing a false impression that I have a moral obligation to restructure my time to deligate more of my after-work hours to socialize. This has even included pressured attempts during the weekend when Keith comes home from working out of town all week. Needless to say, my patience level has bottomed out on this.

It’s not like I’ve been silent about my stand on the subject. It’s not a hidden secret on a game show being held for a big reveal later to floor everyone. I’ve expressly stated on several occasions that I’m a homebody and choose to spend my time after work at home, and my weekend time with my husband – but it’s all been blatently ignored.

My question is this… having made this a wide-open fact, why on earth would someone push the envelope, again and again? And if you do find yourself attempting to change or reroute how a person thinks – what kind of friend does that make you? And why would a person want to spend more time with you if you’re trying so hard to inflict your preferred method of thinking on them? Why would any real friend do that?

My reasoning is, a real friend wouldn’t.

I will not change the way I choose to spend my time, and I refuse to be bullied into it. Of course I realize there are exceptions to every rule. But if dire circumstances ever did warrant a change, my family and close friends would be those who took precedence. This 46 year-old broad has worked 40+ hours a week my entire adult life (attending several years of college during that), and traveled from one side of hell to the other in an attempt to start a new life. I have earned my right to spend my time after work however I damn well please. So I’m gonna clear something up real quick-like, once and for all. If you have a problem with how I spend MY time –  weeknights or weekends – I strongly suggest that you start keeping it to yourself.

I will not apologize to anyone for being a homebody. It’s who I am, and I won’t apologize for being me. So quit right now trying to change me.

That is all.

Now if you’ll excuse me – I’m home for the evening. So I’m gonna fix myself something to eat and watch Dr. Phil.

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. ~Maya Angelou


A couple months in the life…

My, how I’ve missed my little weblog. The last time I posted, Keith had hit a deer with his truck. He thankfully escaped injury to his self, but his truck (and the deer) was a hot mess.

What I failed to mention was the very next day was to be our 5th annual New Years beach trip. I was honestly ready to cancel any out of town plans at this point, but he seemed intent on going and rented an SUV so that we could still accommodate Mojo. Our first full day there, a small tornado touched down and ripped the roof smack off our condo. I was sitting on the couch against the wall and actually felt myself being lifted when it hit. Soon after, we discovered a large piece of the roof missed hitting our rental car by mere feet. Although it doesn’t show the extent of the damage from everything that fell (roof lights, concrete bags, etc.) here’s a photo of the aftermath.

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Parts of the roof are visible on top of the adjacent restaurant and under the palms on the asphalt. Keith had just walked Mojo in this same area 10 minutes prior to it happening. What is it they say again about those silver linings?

Aside from a lot of cleanup noise including chainsaws, a crane and lots of workerbees – the rest of the trip was awesome. One of my favorite memories would be our farewell balloons. We each assigned a few private hells from our past, then sent them out to sea forever. The picture’s pretty poor, but believe me when I say it’s very therapeutic to watch these babies go until you can’t see them anymore. Then they’re just… gone.

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I so enjoy watching the souls of the surfers… had to share this shot.

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Flash forward to now. Other than a few sushi dinners, a winter storm, watching my fellow southerners make national news with their stupid driving, a dog that wouldn’t allow us to build a snowman, an extreme gum-popper at work, a few dozen Twilight movie reruns, a couple nice unplanned car repairs and vet visits, and a sick husband diagnosed with pneumonia at the urgent care today – life has been pretty typical since the first of the year. Aside from the temporary pneumonia bit, we’re still on our honeymoon and we don’t see that ending anytime in the near future. 😀 But I’ve definitely got my nurse Bon hat on, the poor guy.

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Have I mentioned I’m stoked for full-time flip-flop wear again?


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?


Love, Devotion and Selflessness

Keith’s father’s wedding was this past weekend, and it was a beautiful ceremony centered completely around love. My future sister and her husband hosted a lovely reception at their house afterwards, which was so enjoyable. Keith’s side of the family is very kind and loving, so the time we enjoy with them is always priceless.

The older I get, the more cognizant and appreciative I am of incessant acts of selflessness. Every good thing I witness reminds me to try and be a better person. I look at it as a sort of pay-it-forward view on life, for lack of a better term.

The priest officiating the ceremony spoke about the sanctity of marriage and how you wake up each morning with the goal of putting your spouse’s needs before your own. Just because of that thing called Love. Because that’s what real love does, you want to give as much as possible when you love someone that much. It’s a mutual respect between each other that is never ending – it’s not something that changes with passing time.

When dinner time came, we stood back and waited on others to get theirs. I’ve always preferred to get my plate after everyone else has gotten theirs, never first or even middle. Keith attempted to hand me an empty plate and usher me in line. I politely refused, telling him I’d rather wait. He went on about midway through and filled his plate, while I stood conversing with a few family members. A few moments later Keith stood smiling in front of me, presenting me with a large plate of food. What he had just gotten was for me.

Now I know this might not sound like a monumental act of kindness to some, but to me it speaks volumes as to the type of man he is. This is Keith, every day. Even after four years, he’s constantly putting my needs above his own, as I do his. When I wake up every morning, he’s the first thing I think about. He’s the last thing I think about before I fall asleep. We both hold a strong mutual respect for each other. Our time apart at the beginning of the year only served to make us stronger, resulting in deeper devotion to each other as one whole. As it should be. As it always will be…

Have I mentioned we can’t wait for September to roll around?


The Times They Are a-Changin’

I didn’t use to think so, but life is packed full of second chances. And thirds, and fourths. As far as an individual goes, there are usually varying opinions as to whether someone is even worthy of another chance. When it involves you personally – it’s ultimately up to you to make that judgement, hopefully weighing everything carefully in order to make the right decision.

A couple of weekends ago, Keith proposed. I said yes.

It’s not something that happened overnight. Over the past month, there has been much take place in the area of damage control and his attempts to fix things. This much I know… he’s a good man. Is he guilty of sitting on his hands for a year? Sure. Is he guilty of cheating on me, hitting me or any type of emotional abuse? No. Have I considered that he may have done this out of desperation and/or a last ditch effort to keep me? Yes, I’ve considered it very well – and  no, he did not. Why do I feel the need for any explanation on my decision? Because I care about what others think – especially so with my family. It also doesn’t escape me that the views my family and friends have of him are largely a result of what they’ve heard from me regarding his commitment issues.

A good friend told me last week, ‘the breakup sucked, but it served a greater purpose for you both’. That’s quite possibly the most insightful statement I’ve heard so far. I’ve said here before that I do regret moving in with a man without being married. I don’t regret moving out a few months ago.

The bare-bones of it all is this… my decision will directly affect my life and my happiness. We, as the natural makers of our own destiny, must hopefully choose the right path which leads to that happiness. Can we ever be 100% sure in making a decision of this magnitude? Of course not – none of us can. All we can do is take time to carefully weigh all the ins, outs, and everything in between… along with lots and lots of prayer.

Of that much I’m sure.


Neither here nor there

It took me a month to pack and less than a week to unpack. For some reason, I’ve always struggled with packing. Not just with moving, but with packing for a trip or vacation as well. It’s always easy for me to unpack and stick the stuff back in it’s respectful places – but gathering items and organizing them in boxes is hard for me. I think it’s largely due to my ocd about categorizing things. I also tend to want to clean out when I’m packing… I’ll abandon a box and go in search of other ‘like’ items to combine with it. Before I know it, an hour has passed and I’m still on the same box.

This got me thinking about life in general. I don’t necessarily have issues with making a change – I am a Pisces, after all. If a Pisces isn’t comfortable with the direction their life is headed, it’s a well-known fact that they will simply disappear or swim away in the other direction. That’s not to say that finding the courage to actually make that change is easy. Once the change is made however, my organizational skills are unmatched. If I can say one positive thing about myself, it’s my ability to organize – once the deed is done, so to speak.

It’s slowly beginning to dawn on me how much of myself I put into a relationship. It would also seem that I’m easily replaceable. Over the past several years I’ve lost a huge chunk of me that I’m now struggling to find again, and it’s frustrating. I must give myself time and patience in this endeavor, in as much as time passed through which I allowed that loss.

But guess what? I’ve already started.


Phantom Deliverance

It’s always worried me when a fellow blogger disappears suddenly and never comes back to let you know they’re okay. In these albeit rare instances, it serves to feed a pit of never-ending questions and scenarios in my head. Did they have an accident, did they die, are they sick, the list goes on – and believe me, I can create some scenarios. It’s for this reason that I wanted to let you guys know I’ll be taking a blogging break. Heck I as much as have already, anyway.

When I started posting back in 2009 it was something I needed to do, and it ended up being very therapeutic. It was also something I enjoyed doing. The past few months, maybe more actually, it’s become (can I be frank?) more of a chore. All of you should be able to relate to this honest admittance, since we’ve all likely had an occurrence of being burnt out on some thing at some point in our lives. To be honest, I’m dealing with a lot of ‘stuff’ right now, and a blog isn’t always the best place to, ahem… bare it all. Sometimes it is, just not all the time. So I also consider it ‘removing the cell phone from the drunk’. Yeah. That’s a good analogy.

I’ll try to visit in here and there, and may even be back again in good time. I value all of your friendships through the years more than I can tell you. I’ve met some truly wonderful and inspirational people who, I like to think, have influenced me in very positive ways. For this I feel so blessed, and I’m thankful for each and every one of you.

With that I’ll bid you all adieu for a while, and in typical bon-fashion will leave behind a couple of renegade thoughts.

  • As much as I prefer routine, it seems as if my life is always changing.
  • Never take communication for granted. It’s such an integral part of life.
  • A promise is a promise – it’s not made to be ignored or left to dry up, as if never mentioning it again will make it disappear. That’s simply not the way it works.

Hugs and Kisses


Me love you LONG time.

An extra-long ‘think’ occurred this morning (uh-oh) during my drive in to work. I quickly pulled out my phone and tapped a quick note so as not to forget the subject – this just goes to show how simple my thought process really is. Wanna see what the note said?

I had gone back and added the word loyalty afterwards, because boy that sure could’ve been taken out of context. Shenanigans.

In all seriousness, I really do last a long time. I was married for 21 years (well married 23, together 21). I must say that I stuck that one out until the very end, my friends. I’ve been at my current job going on 8 years, and was at my job prior to that for 12 years. During an interview for my current job, I remember telling my boss that if there was one thing I could say about myself, it was that I was loyal. I didn’t say it to promote myself, at least not intentionally – at the time I just felt it was the most honest contribution I had to offer (okay, maybe it was a selling point). By now, I think he knows I meant it.

I’ve developed what I feel is a personal relationship understanding with my car. She comprehends and responds well to my heavy foot and I sometimes even praise her for it. My little ’04 Mercury has been the best car I’ve ever had, and I really do love her (hold the straightjacket ’til the end please). I can’t even comprehend trading her for another, though I know that day will inevitably come. *sniff*

Next month, I’ll have been in a relationship with Keith for 3 years. While I know that’s not that terribly long, it’s a damn good start. And I personally envision it being many more.

My best friend Angie and I date back to the 5th grade. What does that even add up to in years? I don’t think I want to know. Anyway, I can’t imagine my life without her being part of it.

I guess some would label all this as me being ‘anti-change’ – but I don’t see it that way. I’ve been known to actually embrace change, though I admit said change is sometimes a result of my hand being forced. When all is said and done and you’re in an ‘it is what it is’ situation, sometimes you’ve just gotta ‘do what you gotta do’.

Sure, certain extenuating circumstances can change the paths in your life. I was fortunate to have some things last as long as they did – other paths, well they should have ended much sooner. It took a while to realize that the hand we’re dealt sometimes determines that path.

As for me, I’ll continue enjoying my rut routine. Creature of habit? Maybe. I just like to find me a good spot – pull up a chair, swish my butt around in it and get comfortable. Because that’s just how I roll.


Go… and be Happy.


The value of Unconditional Love

I’m so pissed off as I’m writing this that after I finish I may choose to not even post it at all. At the least this will be a raw and jump-all-over-the-place post. The question lingering in my head is, how can someone choose to abandon their animal? What god-given right do they think they have to consider these defenseless beings disposable?

In the small neighborhood where I live, we know each and every dog that ‘runs around’ (yes, there is a leash law but not really enforced) and know that each one indeed has a home. Three days ago, a white adult male Boxer showed up at the house next door. He will not leave the area, and has even made a huge bed of yard brush in the back yard of the house we think he was abandoned at. Our street is but a cul-desac consisting of four houses. The house two doors down was foreclosed on a few months ago, so the bank sent a contracted group of cleaners and yard personnel to get the house ‘ready’. It was approximately an hour after the hired personnel departed from their second visit out that the collared AB (abandoned boxer) showed up.

This is the closest shot I could get of him.

He appears to be a senior dog who’s non-aggressive, but he won’t come to anyone. I later gathered he is deaf since he didn’t pass my hearing test of several loud noises when he wandered in our front yard. Once he notices me by arm signalling, he always slowly turns around and walks back to his ‘house’. He will wander a short distance throughout the four homes on our cul-de-sac, but always returns to the spot where he was abandoned. It doesn’t take a damn rocket scientist to figure out what happened.

He’s waiting on his family to come back for him.

Yesterday I contacted the SPCA (humane society) who gave instructions to call the pound. I am not calling a kill shelter on this animal, it’s not his fault his family doesn’t want him anymore. Today I’ve spent hours attempting to reach boxer rescue organizations in the area. Though I’ve found a handful, half won’t consider a stray, another is full, most want to be contacted via email, and I’ve left messages with the two others. It appears that Sunday is not the optimal day to reach anyone.

I live in Gaston County on the North/South Carolina border – if anyone has any suggestions as to other contacts, I’d sure be open to them. Other than that I’ll just wait and hope I get a returned call back tomorrow at work.


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’.”


Tick tock

It’s been a while since I’ve written a complete BS post, so I figure I’m about due. Forgive me in advance for my rambling.

My new boy Mojo has been keeping me busy. When I get home in the afternoon, my time belongs to him – I often don’t start dinner until Keith gets home (sometimes not even then). I’m completely okay with this. There’s always an adjustment period for any new member of your family, as well as for you. The time he mandates is so worth it and he’s such a sweet boy. I’m ever so glad he found me. 🙂

In a little over a week I’ll be having surgery (a word I don’t much care for). Anyway, I made the decision to have a hysterectomy. I’m not one who feels the need to keep female ‘things’ hush, so I’m not embarrassed to talk about the type of surgery it is. What I will say is I’m silently terrified at the concept. I hate that it’s turning into this, and I’m trying real hard to hide it from most people. The closer it gets, the more I’m thinking about it – my stomach is torn up and burning and I’m a nervous wreck. I know everything will be okay and my doctor is great, but this old mind just won’t let it go and it’s just consuming my thought process. Wish I could just fast-forward to recovery and all these pre-op worries would be gone. I have several friends who have gone through it and they tell me it’s nothing. I trust when they tell me this, and can only hope I am as strong as they are. I guess I don’t have any choice – I’ll just have to be.

My big beef is having to be out of work for a couple of weeks – and I would never have agreed to it if it were the formerly mandated six weeks. Now it’s actually four, but in my line of work I’m told I should be able to return in two. Apart from family, my job is everything to me. It’s the reason I eat, drive, and have a warm bed to sleep in. Additionally, it’s something I respect and will never take for granted. If you’ve ever been screwed over by an employer of long tenure and are lucky enough to find something a hundredfold better, a place that actually appreciates you back – you won’t wish to be out. To me it’s about surrendering this huge part of my life, of my familiarity. Might sound corny, but that’s just how it is. Even contemplating being out of work gets me emotional and I’m not a big fan of emotional. Maybe I need to try some yoga.


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/


Weekly Photo Challenge: Together

As most of you know, I have a new ‘son’ – Mr. Mojo Risin. He was unusually nervous on the way to get groomed for the first time today. Although the little man was afraid, he trusted his new Mommy implicitly. In fact, everything seemed more than okay – as long as we were Together.


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.