It’s not like me to insert a period in titles. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever done it. To me, a period represents finality, permanency – the end of a story. For this reason, I found it fitting to do so today. I hope everyone ‘gets’ my wording this post as if I were having a conversation with David – it’s just something I need to do. Somehow, some way… I feel he will see this. I do hope I’m right, because I never got to say goodbye to him.
The last time we spoke was mid-July, this abominable year of 2020. It was then you told me your arthritis was so bad you had to leave your job for good. I feel in my soul that this killed a big part of you, though you didn’t say it at the time.
We’d first met in junior high school and became friends. Later in adulthood, fate made us family by way of us each marrying a sister and brother. “Small world”, as they say. We went through much in life while being there for each other. Funerals, weddings, lifes ups and downs. Now your own funeral will be in a few days. As the tears fall, I try to come to grips with the fact I’ll never have you in my life down here anymore.
If there were a destiny meant for you down here – it was you being a Father. Brittany and Leanne, your two beautiful daughters, were your everlasting sunshine in an often bleak and gray world. You relished and appreciated both, spending every spare second with them. I often told you your smile was never bigger than when you had them with you. “Dad Day!!”, you would call it. I can’t imagine two daughters having a better dad. I am so glad they had YOU.
Although not related by blood, you were the closest thing to a brother I ever had in this life down here. Each being ‘only children’, I issued you that rightful Brother title shortly after the ending of my 21-year marriage. You often laughed at me for it, but knew deep down it’s what I considered you. We went from being ‘in-laws’ to just brother and sister. Many conversations of what we both endured over the course of each of our marriages strengthened our bond throughout the years. I confided in you with 100% trust – knowing you understood, empathized, and would never share any of my secrets. I will SO miss this, David. I already do.
We used to talk about wishing for a sibling in life, which I suppose many ‘only children’ do. I knew losing your Mom and Dad early in life had to be very hard on you, you’d tell me often how much you missed them. I’ll never forget the day you called me at work a couple years back, I immediately thought something was wrong since you never called me there. Through tears, you told me you’d just found out you had a sister you never knew about. I was thinking, I’d never heard you cry before. Those were tears of joy, of course! You were so very happy… a sister you never knew about. You’d said you instinctively called ME to share the news. I now have to admit David, there was a twinge of jealousy there. Perhaps you realized this when at the end of the conversation I said, “I’M still your sister, always remember that”. I do think you picked up on that little green factor.
You constantly reminded me of how lucky Keith and I were to have found each other. I can tell you, he loved you too – very much. Guys don’t make a habit of telling each other that, so I want to make sure you know. Life isn’t always fair. As your sister, I was always trying to find you a ‘forever mate’. God knows, you didn’t need any help in that area. But, I never stopped trying. I wanted that “forever” for you that I knew in my heart you wanted, too. So, please forgive me for my antics in that area. Especially for some of the heartbreak it brought you along the way.
Lord, how you loved my sausage gravy biscuits. When you and Brandy would stay over with Keith and I, I’d make sure you had some to take home for later. I’m sure your faithful brown lab Brandy got some too. You also loved my chili (hope those weren’t just your kind words). Due to some constraints, I’d struggled with true home cooking until later in life, but you always made me feel like I was good at it.
I don’t want to close this. Dammit, David. I miss you… already.
Our dear friend Angie will forgive me for this – you loved Angie so. After her Mama’s funeral which we’d both gotten lost en route to, at your insistence I followed you back to Charlotte. We talked on the phone while listening to our favorite tunes, flying down the country roads. Back in town, we drag raced via interstate for over twenty miles at completely foolish speeds. I’d never driven that fast in my life… I wonder if you had, as well. You told me later that was the most free you’d felt in your entire life. I felt it too. Guess adrenaline’ll do that to you, especially us old farts.
Go and be free, brother. Until that beautiful reunion. Know that your sister loves you so. Forever.
I absolutely love my sleep – even more so the older I get. Isn’t it funny how sleep seemed like punishment when we were kids, but all the sudden changes to a gift as we get older? Life’s just weird like that.
When I was younger I always slept IN something. During the era I grew up, young girls always wore gowns. I loved my gowns. Through the years I had many of them, some of which my mother even made for me. One of my fondest childhood memories involved such a nightgown. Courtesy of my uncle – my mother, grandmother and I had a week in a private oceanfront house at the end of the beach. While under her watchful eye, my mother let me walk around the big low-tide beach under a big bright full moon. The beach was very private and I was the only one on it that night. The moon was huge and full, and it felt like daylight on the beach – only with the moon instead. To this very day, the moon has never been more beautiful to me than it was that night.
From my teenage years on, it was usually just an oversized t-shirt and shorts that I slept in. If it was really cold out, pajama pants would probably come into play. I guess the point of all this is… I just can’t remember a time when I didn’t wear some form of clothing to bed. The mindset I had just couldn’t fathom not wearing clothing to bed.
If it were ever considered a hangup of mine – let’s just say that little ditty is out the window now. For the past 5-6 years, nothing has ever felt more natural than sleeping naked. I don’t know if I can explain why exactly, but I’ll give it a whirl.
It just feels healthy. My skin feels cool all night, as opposed to being oppressed with outerwear. Since I take my showers at night, it feels even better getting into bed clean. Sleeping naked feels natural… and free. More than anything else, that’s what it is – I feel free. I actually sleep better and more soundly than I ever have before. I believe there to be a multitude of other advantages to sleeping naked, suffice it to say I won’t list them here. 🙂 Let’s just say everything I’ve referenced so far has to do with flying solo. If you have a significant other, there are many added benefits of sleeping bare.
I guess the only drawbacks would be a break-in, fire, or other such sort of calamity – for these, I like to think I’ve planned ahead as much as possible and taken some necessary precautions. I can report I’ve sneaked around in the dark naked with a loaded weapon before when I heard something outside… but that’s a whole other post altogether. All things considered, as I look back it kinda makes me sad that I’ve missed out on sleeping naked my entire adult life. Looks like I’ve got some lost time to make up for.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If we allow ourselves to admit it, we are all constantly learning new things about ourselves. In reality, perhaps it’s only the realization of some already existing traits; or where certain events have led us. Through spurts of time, I enjoy compiling certain findings to peruse at a later date – thought I’d share my most recent ones.
• Unlike the majority of the population, I do not trust cruise control – therefore I don’t use it. And I’ve tried. When enabled, I experience the most profound sense of loss of control ever. For this reason I must maintain control of the brake and gas with my own foot – just my own personal preference.
• I have found that you can learn a lot about a person simply by watching how they treat a stranger. I’ll go so far to say that it speaks volumes.
• I cannot understand why someone would purposely choose to stay in a relationship without a strong sense of commitment from each side. Of course, I’m aware there exists an entire rainbow of exceptions on this little finding.
• I can sit with the insides of my thighs, calves and ankles flat on the floor like a frog. When I was younger, I secretly enjoyed the looks of horror from others when I did it. I kinda still do.
• I’ve never broken a bone, had stitches or been in the hospital (with the exception of having my daughter, and a hysterectomy some twenty years later).
• I have found that under most conditions, I drive better with one hand instead of two.
• The $5 taco bell ‘box deal’ will generally be a disappointment due to a lot of dough. It’s better to just order what you like.
• I’ve abhorred any type of seafood my entire life, but 2 years ago found I love sushi. Not the veggie stuff, but good reputable sushi with raw fish. I have it at least once or twice a week.
• I dated Clyde Pickler (Kelli Pickler’s father) back when I was 17 and living in Albemarle, NC. This was long before he had Kelli. He was a nice guy and a gentleman – and of course we thought the whole ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ thing was treacherous. Back then, treacherous was the word Albemarlinians substituted for cool.
• I have a scar on the back of my right hand that looks exactly like the Starship Enterprise on Star Trek. It happened when I was washing dishes while swirling my hand inside a glass and the glass decided to bust. Thus, the ‘Scarship Enterprise’ serves as a daily reminder never to stick my hand in a glass again.
• Certain dreams have much significance to me, so I pay close attention to them. One such recent incident occurred two nights before Keith hit that deer. My mother has a very strong hold on this ‘gift’, and apparently my daughter as well – as she dreamed of the tragic 2005 tsunami two days before it happened. Unfortunately, with dreams you sometimes have to read between the lines and figure the details out.
• The power of certain words continually amaze me. Like a man who opts to use the word ‘dear’ condescendingly on a female. You can always spot it – I’ve found it’s almost always used in a persuasion effort. ‘Here here!! SEE THINGS MY WAY… NOW.’ Guys, you gotta know we don’t like that shit. So am I one of those females that will call you on it? Damn straight, every time. And for the record, it’s not my husband who does this. He’s a smart one, he is.
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.
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.
I so enjoy watching the souls of the surfers… had to share this shot.
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.
Have I mentioned I’m stoked for full-time flip-flop wear again?
2013 – time just keeps ticking on by, doesn’t it? Jerry Garcia once wrote into a song, ‘Lately it occurs to me… what a long strange trip it’s been.’ This is surely the truth.
It’s hard for me to believe the series of events that have been jam-packed into one lone year. Honestly, I’d never have believed it even if someone had forewarned me. A lot of things stand out, too many to mention really. If you follow my blog, you know them already anyway.
Every year, I pick one word in an attempt to describe the year. 2008 was Monumental. 2009 was Colorful. 2010 was Serene. 2011 was Transitional.
2012 was Disclosure. That one just looks so out of place with the others, I figured it deserved it’s own paragraph.
I hadn’t even thought about a word for this year, until my husband started monkeying around with our dog while using the word on him. Only then did it hit me – BAM… there’s my word.
My word of 2013 is Persistence. Maybe I should say it’s Keith’s word instead, since it was his own persistent efforts that played out in both our favors. In any case, I’m forced to use it just because it fits better than a glove.
Continuing firmly or obstinately in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition. Donning your suit of armour, setting forth a plan of action for something you feel you can’t live without, never accepting defeat – making something so worthwhile to you actually happen.
Gotta admit I admire your persistence, baby. And at least Mojo’s pronunciation of the word is considerably different than our own… Per·thith·tenth.
“I know you’ve only ever known your father and me. And I love Jack, because he is your father. But there’s another kind of love, Amanda. One that gives you the courage to be better than you are, not less than you are. One that makes you feel that anything is possible. I want you to know that you can have that. I want you to hold out for it.”
~Adrienne Willis, Nights in Rodanthe
by Nicholas Sparks
Appropriately enough, this movie was released exactly three months after the ending of my 21-year marriage. To date, it’s the only movie I saw at a theater more than once. I actually saw it on three separate occasions, taking a different girlfriend with me each time.
I related with it on so many levels. Being alone for the first time in my adult life. Having yet to find out who I really was. A product of a looming divorce. A mother of an extremely strong-willed daughter who would have her say regardless. Never to be last… a woman who fought to maintain her dream that a true unconditional love did in fact exist, somewhere out there. Hey, it might’ve been a dream – but it was my dream.
When you do find that kind of love, you want your loved ones to know that it’s out there for them as well. You want them to hold out for it.
Another kind of love.
One that gives you the courage to be better than you are, not less than you are. One that makes you feel that anything is possible.
For an enhanced viewing experience, ⬆ just click the play arrow above!
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’.
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.
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.
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?
My post is simple today, though indeed thought-provoking. Below would be my number one pick of all Bob Marley’s quotes. The amount of love that erupts from this one wise paragraph has always overwhelmed me. Even so, I never could grasp the full intensity of it – just the intense yearning to someday find this beautiful kind of unconditional love. One without judgement, one that makes you want to learn new things, one that makes you feel beautiful, one where you openly invite vulnerability into your life. One Love.
Hope you enjoy.
On this day four years ago, Keith and I went on our first date. For this reason, we’ve always celebrated it as our anniversary.
I remember I didn’t want him coming directly to the door of my third-floor apartment. I think this was a combined reasoning of not wanting to add to his stress level of a first date along with if I didn’t want a second date, the exact location of my apartment would be kept secret. 🙂
Wearing high heels while descending wooden-slat steps could prove to be a recipe for disaster for any woman, especially an accident-prone one like myself. I was certain I wouldn’t make it down without a catastrophic fall. I didn’t, though. As I rounded the sidewalk and the parking lot came into view, so did this tall, dark and handsome man – flashing a grin while leaning back ever so cool-like on the hood of his Volvo. Four years later, I can still see it as clearly as I did that evening. If memory ever eludes me when I get older, I pray for this one memory to remain because it is seriously that precious to me.
We went to dinner at a restaurant called The Grid Iron, which is still open today. Through the course of the meal, the conversation seemed almost too easy, if that makes any sense. He talked about his job as an elevator installer and came across as just a kind soul in general. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was spot-on in that analysis.
To bide a little time before the movie started, he asked if I’d like to ride around his town of Gastonia for a bit. I found him to be an excellent tour guide, narrating this and that, gingerly pointing out an establishment or two he’d installed elevators in.
I’d never seen a Harry Potter movie, actually don’t think I’ve seen another one since. But Harry Potter it was that night, and looking back it was probably the best choice by far. After the movie, he drove me back to my apartment in Lake Wylie. Because of a few losers I’d been out with prior to Keith, I decided I didn’t care much to kiss goodnight on the first date, and so I held fast to that. I reached over the seat, hugged him and told him I’d had a good time. That was it – our first kiss didn’t actually happen until another week later on our second date.
The rest is history. He got the car door for me that night, and he still gets it for me today. He still sings Josh Turner songs to me in that deep sexy voice and it still makes my stomach flutter. His tour-guide antics still entertain me, especially when we’re up in the North Carolina mountains where he’s spent so many years working.
And so inspired a little tribute to you, baby. Happy Anniversary to my precious tour guide…
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?
As a kid, I always remember hearing the term “stick out like a sore thumb”. It’s probably a southern saying. I truly believe that tidbit of terminology somehow got permanently embedded in my brain.
I’ve never dealt well with being the center of attention. Even my color choices in attire reflect this – the vast majority of my closet consists of grays, blacks and basic earth tones (with the exception of my beloved Bob Marley shirt). A huge part of my comfort zone has always been to ‘blend’. Years ago when my ex-husband and daughter threw me a surprise birthday party, I felt both embarrassed and awkward that those people were there solely for me. It’s pretty difficult to blend in that type of situation.
Soon I will experience another first in my life – trying on wedding dresses for the first time. It seems funny to me that at my age, I’ve never experienced this.
I’m for sure starting to feel the pressure of planning a wedding and the attention that comes along with it. The associate at the bridal gown store told me over the phone “This night will be all about you!”, to which my stomach immediately tightened upon hearing. I don’t like hearing something, anything, will be all about me. Is this weird?
Now I find myself questioning my own judgement of having a full-blown wedding. Don’t get me wrong – I’m super excited, I just wish there was a way to pass the attention factor on to someone else. I’m gonna have to find a way to suck it up for a day and put this weird-ass feeling aside. Pardon my language, but I simply cannot find a more descriptive word for this mentality of mine.
Just plain weird-ass.
Speaking of, have I mentioned we’re hiring police security for our wedding? A whole ‘nother blog…
I’m constantly amazed at all the events that have transpired in this short year.
I moved to my own apartment. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Mojo was not cut out for apartment living, so I made the gut-wrenching decision to re-home my precious boy. In the interim I put forth my most valiant effort in the quest to start a new life. Early March, Keith donned the suit of armor I always knew he had and formed an attack plan to win back my hardened heart – which I never thought would be possible. He’s since ran the entire marathon with a few extra miles thrown in for good measure.
The missing piece to the puzzle was always Mojo. I’ve wanted to write about it for a while now, but the subject was just too painful. On April 3rd, I pled my case to the gracious couple who had agreed to take him. On a stormy April 4th, we made the drive up to Salisbury to retrieve our baby boy. I am forever grateful to Debbie and Danny for allowing us this most precious opportunity… for my heart is once again full and complete.
I’m one of those people who believes every thing happens for a reason. I didn’t think so at first, but I believe all of this was actually meant to happen, and I don’t regret a single thing that’s happened this year.
Near sunset on the last day of summer in front of Lake Wylie, Mojo and Camille’s mommy and daddy will officially become one. The plus? Keith seems even more excited about it than me.
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.
Being a fish out of water is just not my cup of tea. I still find myself holding the perpetual empty jar in the ongoing quest to find my ‘niche’. One word – awkward. Having already gone through this once 5 years ago, I realize I’ve never had a ton of patience in the area of self-discovery. I second and third-guess every single thing I do and say. I’m quite unsure of myself, to say the very least – it’s a very unsettling feeling.
It seemed easy to lose my own sense of self in a long-term relationship – in which case, I mistakenly assumed was forever. I surrendered every bit of myself to a man and, subsequently, assumed a portion of his persona as my own. No matter whose fault a breakup is, the hurt and anger that ensues afterward simply has to be dealt with, and there are many ways of dealing. After a certain amount of time passes, I think it’s natural (I hate the word normal) to crave some form of human connection. Recently I’ve found myself venturing outside my comfort zone and conversing with a few friends of the opposite sex. Although I think they’ve gone well, my own inner core remains stone-cold and untrusting. While half of me hopes this little issue remains undercover, the other half screams defiantly, “I don’t [expletive] care!!”
I seem to have the innate ability to over-analyze something as simple as a pineapple. Miranda said it best…
I went to see the new Nicholas Sparks movie Safe Haven over the weekend. There’s something about Sparks’ books and movies that have always drawn me to them – I’m fairly certain the ever-hopeless romantic in me would be the biggest reason. I also love being able to closely relate with the locality he incorporates into his stories. Sparks is from New Bern, NC and he always chooses a place within close proximity to his hometown for the story’s local. Safe Haven was filmed in the coastal town of Southport, NC – a town that’s dear to my heart. We used to vacation at the beach right up from Southport, and even rode the same ferry they took in the movie when we visited the Southport Aquarium.
Although a little slow… it was a good movie. I have this terrible knack of comparing all of Sparks’ story lines with The Notebook, which set the bar at an unprecedented height for any subsequently written stories.
Back in 2008 when I began my journey to build a new life, I adorned the theater on three separate occasions to see Nights in Rodanthe. My girlfriends teased me relentlessly for this – but that movie was (and still is) mesmerizing to me. I related so closely with it for several reasons; the middle age of the characters, the setting of the beautiful Outer Banks beach with the horses, and the fact that, from time to time, love can in fact resurface it’s pretty little head for a second chance. To this day, Nights in Rodanthe still remains one of my favorites. I even followed the real-life story of the house (Serendipity) being relocated to a safer location to avoid erosion from the ocean a few years back. I’d wished for the opportunity to visit it in person before that happened.
Two steps forward, three steps back, as they say. There is an absolute downside of being a romantic at heart. Combine said trait with a Pisces nature and a breakup and (BAM!) it can quite literally be a recipe for disaster. I know I need to get my head out of the clouds for a moment and realize there is nothing perfect out there – nor are there any fairytales, as much as I’d love to believe there are. I guess if I had to sum total it all in a nutshell… hope is what I derive from these stories.
And I’m always up for a little bit of that.
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.