Lessons learned…


So… don’t know about all of you but every year it seems like Life or Karma or some such nonsense has some big key lesson it wants to teach me.  And each year, just like the Chinese zodiac, there’s a theme.  And of course I know at this point that you’re thinking “seriously… who notices this type of thing?”  Well, other than me that is.  But yeah, I do.  I have.  And it’s really become a thing I watch for every year.  And typically it’s something I don’t even catch onto as it’s happening, something that I may or may not even realize is big, until I look back over the year and see that this one thing that happened during the year ended up being The Thing.  The lesson.  The overarching thread that moved my life in some new direction or taught me some lesson that I needed to learn.

My lesson.

For example, in 2004 the lesson was hidden in heaps and piles of tragedy.  First the loss of my Grandmother, then the loss of EB, but the tragedy wasn’t the lesson.  Yes, both losses were awful.  Yes, both appeared to be more than I could ever survive at the time.  But the lesson I learned was that I could survive.  The lesson was in learning that inside of me there is a core of solid steel and iron and nothing can take me down permanently.  Oh, it may put me on my knees for a while, and it may force me to ground for a short time.  But it will not stop me.  I will survive, I will come back stronger, and I can survive anything.

I survived.

Then, in 2010 the lesson was learned with the decision to go back to school.  Something I had run from for years.  Because I was afraid of failure.  Because I listened to “can’t” and let it lead me.  In 2010 I quit listening.  I decided to listen to can.  And I started changing my life.  With the first classes completed at the end of Fall Semester I knew again that I could do this thing I’d put off for so long.  I was smart enough, and tough enough, and I had what it took to change my own life.  And so I did.

I changed.

And last year, in 2012, when I lost my Mom, again I learned my lesson through tragedy, but it may well be the lesson that I’ll never let go of.  When she died I was halfway through my BAS degree and all I wanted was to quit classes, curl up in a ball, and just let grief take over.  But I didn’t.  I did what needed to be done to say goodbye to her, we settled as much of her life as we could, and I came back home and picked up where I left off.  I finished my Spring Semester classes with A’s & B’s, registered for Summer and finished those with all A’s, and I graduated after a Fall Semester of 16 hours with A’s and B’s again.  Three semesters of Dean’s List & President’s List.  After the worst loss I’ve ever been dealt.  The one that I don’t think I’ll ever totally get over.  But the achievements weren’t the lesson.  The loss wasn’t the lesson.  The lesson was in learning that by doing what I did I truly am my Mother’s daughter.  And I always have been.  So that core I found in 2004?  That steel and iron?  That’s my true inheritance from her.  That’s how she was.  Nothing stopped her.  And I am her.

I took control.

So as you can imagine, this year I’ve been watching, and waiting, and this year’s lesson, as usual, didn’t make itself obvious.  But I think I know what it is now.  And it’s been a good one to learn.  A hard one though.  Challenging to everything I ever thought before.  And truly one that I never expected to learn, ever.  Furthermore, this is one that I’ll have to eat some words over.  Because this year I’ve learned that if you’re living fully then nothing in your past is ever totally past.  And some things never die.  Of course there’s a whole back story, and (of course) this lesson started with another death and a reunion to mark that event.  But from that beginning it has finally culminated in the startling realization that sometimes your first love might actually have indeed been love and not some silly infatuation.  You know, the thing I laugh at the most in my 15 year old niece when she says “Oh I love him” about the most current boyfriend.  The words that cause me to eye roll and say “you love Macaroni & Cheese” and laugh.  Yeah, I won’t be doing that anymore.  Because I just don’t know.  What I do know is this.  Over the last six months the boy/man who was my very first serious relationship has come back into our lives.  And I say our because this re-entry has impacted both myself and Bob.  But before you freak out, we are still most definitely married.  And we’re staying that way.  But it’s been a process for us as I wrapped my head around the idea that this huge, big love I had for this person and that they had for me is still there.  We’re not in love anymore, but love never dies.  It just goes quiet for a while.  But one day, when you least expect it, you find out that it’s still there.  It’s still love.  I still have it.  It never left.

I love.

But that’s not the lesson.  No.  As funny as that is, there’s a much bigger truth in this year’s lesson that goes far beyond just that simple word with all its complications and challenges.  No, the bigger lesson, I think, is that I’ve finally learned that I am never totally alone.  Despite my solitary soul.  Despite my walls and shields and devices that I use to hide away and protect myself from the people who have moved through my life.  I am not alone.  I am still connected to them all.  And every one of them have a huge meaning to me.  To my past – through my present – and on into my future.  Connections.  Deep.  Shallow.  Close.  Distant.  But still connections.  And this lesson, I think, might be the best one yet.  To learn that I have a complex and large safety net, comprised of people that I could not live without.

People I love.

So I’m learning again.  It’s hard.  And it’s tricky.  And I’ll learn more again today.  Just like I did yesterday.  Just like I will tomorrow.  Thanks Mark for this one… it’s all on you.  I’m glad you’re a part of my life again.  We’re much better adults than we were as kids, just learning how to love and like each other.  Today we’re good at that.  And our lives have moved apart from each other but again we’ve ended back together… this time as good friends who truly understand the power of love.  And thank you EB for being the one who moved me forward and finished the lessons I started so long ago.  And thank you Bob for knowing just how much I love you too.  You are one of the three chapters of love in my life and I am blessed for that every day.

And the next time Kaylea says she loves some boy I think I’ll have to control the eye-rolling because you just never know about love.

And sometimes its true.

Love never dies.

Four years…


Four years since our youngest graduated from High School… and in less than 2 weeks she graduates from College.

Wow. See also: Where did the time go?

She’s different today, but still the same. Still beautiful… we hope she knows how much… still just as smart as we always knew she was… we hope she knows how smart… still finding her way… we hope she finds the way she really wants, not the one that’s easiest… and still our girl that we love with all our hearts… we hope she knows how much.

Graduation isn’t just an ending… it’s a beginning. The first day of the next chapter. We hope there are many more chapters for her. Lots more new. Lots more different.

We wish you love (which you’ve always had), luck (which you do not need), joy (which you bring with you in abundance), and vision (to see past today and find your tomorrow). Don’t wait for somebody to save you, don’t look for your Handsome Prince on a horse… instead be your own Hero. Save yourself. It’s your future, make it work for you… the rest will happen as it’s supposed to.

Never forget that life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. So make your own plans. Don’t accept others plans for you. Live your life. Not other peoples’ lives instead of your own.

Take the time always to live, love, & laugh… today, tomorrow, and always.

And never forget that we love you.

No matter what.

Love never changes.



let-go  Okay, so after playing with the idea of straightening my life up in multiple ways, with the idea of living longer and better at the forefront of that concept, I finally made the leap and did it two weeks ago.  I’m writing more in depth over here if you’re interested but the upshot in 6,000,000 words or less is that I feel better, I see changes happening inside and out, and it’s worth it.

Yes, indeed it is.  I believe.

However, feeling better isn’t the whole point here with my life I’m afraid.  Now I’ve got to get my head in the game with everything else in my life that needs to be changed.  I’ve finally committed (at least mostly, since I’m very changeable) to following the careerpath I love – Social Media – with several resumes out there in that field now.  I only hope I can compete in that area alongside people far younger who seem to have the edge only because of that youth.  Likewise, after much debate and second-guessing, we’re really committed to staying put here in central Florida.  Our quality of life is so good and our circle is so big that we feel its worth it to try to make this work for us.  No, we’re not going to get rich quick here.  Not even get rich slow.  But we’ve got friends and family and connections that go pretty deep for us so we think it’s worth trying to make it work.

Oh and PS to Harry’s… don’t try so damned hard to change my mind… one place/incident does not an entire place make, which is seriously lucky for you because if it did then after Saturday I would either be picketing you or hiring a Moving Company.  PS I caught onto your personal prejudices there Ms. Manager, my LGBT friends did too.  One of us was unfortunately far too sober and straight for your shenanigans.  I’ll vote against you with my wallet, and my word of mouth.  You were warned then, I’m serious.

Bitch.  Oh, and F-U!  There, didn’t say that Saturday, but now I am.  With berries.

Yeah, so anyway, I’ll write more about that later, life evolves.  Backward is anywhere you go.  People want to be offended… from now on my mission is to help them out whenever I can.

Anyway, yeah, we are moving forward, slowly, grindingly, painfully, but still moving forward.  Just like the world around us.  Things will change.  We will change.  And we will change our world, just by staying in it.

Evolve or die… not just a saying, a reality.



In case you didn’t know, that equals the number of seconds in a year. And each second of the last year has been simultaneously so full and yet so empty. Time expands, life fills up, but the missing things are still in that space. Like Antimatter, but sometimes it matters more than the things one can see and touch.

Meanwhile here I am, still here, still missing her like I would miss my arm if I were to suddenly lose it, and filled with the dread… tomorrow marks one year since Mom left us. And so much has happened in that year.

So. Much.

But one important thing has not happened. she hasn’t come back, and she never will. And Even though I don’t logically believe in any sort of afterlife, I wistfully hope she’s still watching me because I miss her so much, still. Not much of the day passes without multiple thoughts of her and although I don’t cry as much now I never forget that she is gone away and she won’t be back. And do not insult my grief by saying she’s in a better place. For I can tell you without question that she is not. She is gone from us. She is dead. Nothing about that is better. It just is.

Heart still broken. Half-orphaned. This is still very hard. I learned how to be a Widow long ago, far more easily, and now I’m learning to live without my Mom, and it’s so much harder.

I am stumbling, yearning, sad, resigned, angry, and above all lonely. She was my cheerleader, my critic, the hand on my shoulder and the foot on my butt. Now I must be all of those things for myself.

I’m not as good as she was at that. Fits, starts, fails, falls, tears, do-overs. Such is life.

But today, 31,556,926 seconds later, there is a faint glimmer of hope, growing in my heart and in my new containers outside are so many of her lessons. Of course I needed so many more, but as the song goes…

“You can’t always get what you want. You get what you need.”

Today I hope. Which is much more than a thing with feathers. Today hope is all I have. Now that I do not have my Mom.

Hope. For me, for us. Hope… and love.

Today, tomorrow, forever.

I hope.

Things you do not deal with when you’re dead…

What to do about the holidays, the traditions, the sacred and the profane of everyday life.  You don’t have that anymore.  You’re gone.

Where to?  I don’t know.  I know it’s not to that mythical Heaven in the sky, because I’ve gotten on too many planes and every time that I get above the clouds I never see you there.  You’ve never been sitting on a cloud.  Like they told me in Sunday School all those years ago.

They lied.

But you’ve gone somewhere.  Somewhere we can’t see.  And now we have to figure out the every day, without you.  Can any day ever be every day ever again without you?

I’m not sure.

This year has been cancelled, due to the empty chair you left behind.  When you went to wherever you are.  To do whatever it is you’re doing now.  We’re still doing too.


But the chair, and the space, and the voice that lived with you are all gone, empty, and silent.


But these are things you do not deal with…

when you are dead.

Righting Wrongs: Or fixing the past in the present so we can have a better future

Last Sunday we shared our ride home from Georgia with boxes of pictures, memories of the past, and ghosts.  Lots of ghosts.  Because we’re cool like that.

PS- you know you want to be us, right?  Well, you’re in luck, classes start next week.  Yes, the tuition is a bit high but we do take Mastercard, Visa, and most student loans work for payment too.  We do accept cash, just make the check out to Childrens And Sailors Home, you can abbreviate that to CASH, spends just the same.  Remember, education is the key to the future, invest wisely.

But where were we before the commercial?  Oh, right, the boxes of Ghosts.  That I want to return to their rightful homes.  You see, it’s a long and tortured family history, filled with lots of drama, name calling, and ridiculousness.  Just like all family histories I think.  We’re no different.  We’re just like all of you.  The upshot of all that drama though was that when my Grandparents passed everything they had left went to my Mom.  Yep.  Everything.  Some things got distributed.  I think.  But there’s still lots of my Grandparents stuff in my Mom and Stepdad’s house.  Probably stuff I don’t even know about yet.  Stuff I’ve not even seen.  Since, you know, Mom’s only been dead a little over a month and we’ve not even begun the real work of cleaning out her stuff.

Yeah.  Wow.

But the first thing for me that had to come out was the pictures.  Pictures are sacred to me.  Probably because I love photography so much.  And Mom had lots of pictures.  LOTS OF PICTURES.  Really.  And on top of her own prodigious collection, she also had my Grandmother’s picture box.  Filled with more pictures.  Imagine?

Sadly, most of the people in these pictures are gone from us now.  With families who might not even know these pictures still exist.  They do.  They’re very much still around.  Mamaw saved them.  And now one of the jobs facing us is to figure out who these people are and separate the pictures into family groups and get them to their loved ones.  That’s a hard job, just so you know.  But I think it’s worth it.  To give my cousins at least something from the memories of the past.  I think they deserve that.

I understand that there’s lots of drama in our collective past.  But we are family.  There were people outside of the family who caused much of that pain.  But when you examine the truth you see that the reasons for those upsets were based on stories told by people who were… how shall I say this?… far less than truthful?  Yeah, that’s it.

And no matter what their words are today, their actions speak much louder.  Hummels held hostage and an entire legacy gone missing, and yet this same person is on Facebook today talking about Jesus’ love and forgiveness?  He better hope Jesus forgives him… because – newsflash – I won’t.  Not ever.  Discuss amongst yourselves.  Ready, go.

Today I want to fix some of the wrongs.  If I can.  And I’m starting with the pictures.  Be ready cousins.  There’s lots coming at you.  Memories from our past.  From our roots.  And I know it won’t make everything perfect, but it’s a start.  After all Life isn’t perfect, ever.  It just happens, in all it’s messy and unkempt glory.  And if we’re smart we’ll celebrate it, because it was our life.

Pictures of the past.  Showing us our present.  Showing us who we were and helping us know who we are today.




The Weekend Update


So far we’ve slept a little, eaten a little, and I’ve worked on homework.  Can I screw up a vacation or what?  Yeah, that’s me.  Funsucker extraordinaire!  Yeah, I know, there are worse things.  Far worse.  But still, I’m studying.  No matter how nice the jail is, you’re still in it, right?  My thoughts anyway.  But doing what I must, when I must apparently has become my new mantra… WTF?  Who am I, what have I become, and where is the pod?

As for the food consumed so far?  And you know there’s food, we’re in Asheville after all.  And, of course, like all good Asheville trips, this one started at the North Asheville Tailgate Market.  If you really want to fall in love with organic?  This is the place.  A bag of homemade Rosemary Herb Crackers from some crunchy hippie girl… they’re delish! Tomme Cheese made from  Goat & Sheep’s milk from Three Graces Dairy – and yes, another older crunchy hippie woman, equally as delicious.  And a grand finale of Salami from Hickory Nut Gap Farms – no crunchy hippies there but it is organic meat and cruelty-free so there’s that.  I can honestly state that if I lived here full-time my shopping would be mostly done there, every week.  I really wanted to get Garlic Scapes… just to experiment with, but I didn’t think they’d survive the trip.  Likewise I wanted to buy two of every herb there was there… I didn’t.

Restraint.  I haz it.

After all that joy, and a side trip to Old World Bakery the next obvious step was to… go out to dinner.  Of course.  I know that’s what seems logical, right?  And, as usual, we went to Vinnie’s, where I had a Cuba Libre Martini with homemade Cola Syrup no less.  Yum.  Should have had two, or three.  Note to self – do this next time, especially if the whole famdamily is with us.  Especially then.  Pre-medicate with wine too.  It will be easier.

But back to Dinner which, as always, was amazing.  Ribeye topped with Gorgonzola, grilled Vidalia, and Arugula dressed in a lemon vinaigrette. Plus I had the grilled Caesar… nomnomnom.  And today there’s more food on the horizon… more food.  Wow.  Imagine.  Shocking.  Brunch at Avenue M, then grilling hotdogs here at the house.  Hoping to sneak in a visit to French Broad Chocolate Lounge… that’s my plan anyway.  And I’m also planning on not doing any more homework.  That seems like a good thing as well.

With all that, did I mention yet that I love it here?  Did I forget?  I’ll try to take more pictures and do less homework today… but I can’t guarantee that.  Wish me luck.  Right now though I’m going to find a cup of coffee and some eye makeup remover.  Then I’ll be ready to face the day.  This vacation is hard work, yo? Enjoy.


Going to (Asheville) Carolina – and not just in my mind…

So, if you’re reading this then you’re alone.  I’m not here, because I wrote this on Tuesday, right before I left town on Friday, because we ran away for a couple of days.

We’re irresponsible like that.  If you’d like to dust I’d be fine with that… and maybe wipe down the countertops?  Bob’s allergic to the sponge, says it doesn’t fit his hand or some such bullish*%.  Yeah, so, since you’re here please tidy the place up… fluff the couch pillows… oh, and thanks!

But while you’re doing all that, keep in mind that for our Memorial Day Weekend we’re hanging in Asheville.  For the first time this year.  Because it’s way past time to go soak up some mountain cool.  Hey! Woah! Don’t throw stuff at me!

Sorry… okay, not, but it sounds legit, right?

PS – seriously?  You’d get mad?  Are you reading this thing regularly?  If so then you should have at least a small idea of how ready I am to be here  Yeah, really, that ready.  Actually ready doesn’t begin to describe how ready I am.  Lusting.  Yeah, that describes it better.  And there’s so much to lust for up here.  Hell, the whole place is Temptation – on a Cracker – with homemade Pimento Cheese and Country Ham Slivers.  Yep, that about sums it up.

Just so y’all know, French Broad Chocolate Lounge better have a Pots de Creme with my name on it… or two.  Hell, I might splurge and go for the truffles, and you can bet I’ll have at least one scoop of Maple Bacon Ice Cream.  And you can also bet that I’m hitting the North Asheville Tailgate Market Saturday morning… hoping against hope for a Proscuitto score from Hickory Nut Gap, and Goat Cheese from Spinning Spider.  I could go on, but then I’d have to stop writing and go fix breakfast, and there’s no time for that!

I really do miss my little haven in the mountains.  I just wish socks weren’t required in order to live there.  My relo list doesn’t include anywhere that involves socks.  Yes, it does.  Really.  Make a note Recruiters.

But anyway, enough scribbling.  I’m on vacation.  Enjoy your weekend too.  I’ll post pics and checkins so you can be jealous from a distance.  I’m kind like that.

Vacation.  In the mountains of NC.  For this Florida girl that sounds just a little bit like heaven.  See ya there?

Living among giants…

I didn’t want this job.  Never.  Not at all.

I didn’t want to be the one left behind.  The one who has to pick up the pieces.  The one who has to be the glue.

I’m not her.

But somehow that has become my role.  That is what I do now.  That is me.  I am an adult, at the Grownup Table, although I keep thinking that it’s not possible that this is true.

I’m not ready.

I spent several hours this weekend looking at pictures.  Pictures of Ghosts.  Well, most of them anyway.  Pictures of my parents, and my Aunts and Uncles, and my cousins and me.  And it seems like those pictures were just taken a week ago.

Really.  Just a week.  Not 30 years.

Thirty years, how can that be?  They all looked so young, so confident, like giants.  To me that’s what they were.  And are.  They were the grownups, at the Adult Table, laughing and talking, and we were not.  We were the members of the club known as The Children’s Table.  Because we were the children, best seen and not heard, and they were the adults.

They were legendary to me.

And back then, as I sat at the Children’s Table, I looked so longingly at the Adult’s Table, and I wanted so badly to be able to sit there.  To be able to be in their club.  It looked like it was so much more fun.  Like it was much more magical.  To sit among Giants.  To sit with them.  And sometimes you get your wish, but the way it is granted hurts so badly that you don’t know why you ever wished that wish to begin with.  Because those Giants are almost all gone.  And we are sitting in their seats, pretending to be grownups, pretending to be Giants.

We are not.

We’re not adults, we’re not giants, we’re the people at the Children’s Table.  We are not them.

But this is our time, that is our table, and life moves fleetingly fast.  In what seems to have been seconds we populated our own group for the Children’s Table.  The Giants at the Adult Table moved aside for us.  But I still see them sitting there, laughing and talking, just as powerful in death as they were in life.

Memories.  That’s what life is made of.  And changing seats.  And somehow through the sands of time I have emerged as that person.  Putting it all together.  Holding it all together.  But please remember that I am not a Giant.  Not like them.  But I know what Giants looked like.  They looked like that.  And if I can one day be half the person that the generation before me was then I will die happy.

But let me die at the Children’s Table.  Because I don’t want to be in charge.  I don’t want to be a Giant.

I don’t.

I’m not.

I’m just doing what I must.  Being what I have to be.  Living in the midst of death.



Because I must.

I must.