Tag Archives: blogging

What Lies in a Photo

 “I personally battled with my own body image for years. I used to tell myself, You can’t wear anything sleeveless or strapless. And all of a sudden I was like, What if I just didn’t send such negative messages to my brain and said, wear it and enjoy it? And now I’m more comfortable in clothes than ever.”
– Drew Barrymore
I posted this picture over the weekend on Facebook.

me

In a very rare moment of confidence in my appearance, I decided this picture didn’t exactly suck, so what the heck?

I had no idea what kind of response this photo would garner. As of right now, I have 113 “likes.” Whoa.

Now, I’ve posted pictures of myself before, mind you. Not very often, but still…there have been a few.  (Mostly, I make sure someone else is in them. See my Selfies blog for an explanation of that ‘sneaky selfie’ technique…you’ll thank me later.) So, given those previous selfie posts, what in the world made this particular photo get so much attention? Dang!

And not only did I get all those “likes,” I also got a few comments. Oh, look at me trying to be modest. A few? More like 18, thankyouverymuch! My favorite? “That’s my beautiful honey.” Awww. (That was my husband, in case you were wondering…) And there were a few “Beautiful!” and “Sexy!” comments – even one “You look like a movie star!”

Look out, big head coming through!

And then….

Then there were a few other comments. And these are the ones that cause me to write this blog. (I know, I know, you were thinking I was just bragging on myself. But hang on, there’s a method to the immodest madness.)

First up, a comment from a dear friend who, along with saying I looked great like the other commenters, added in one extra observation.

“I wish I could lose weight.”

*sigh*

There it is. The most truthful ‘woman comment’ of all.

Why do I say that? Oh, she just said out loud what I’d be willing to bet almost every woman has thought in their minds at some point. At some point? Oh hell, who am I kidding? We think it every single day! Probably about ten times a day. A hundred, even. We look at a picture of another woman and what do we do? We compare ourselves to her. It’s like we’re born with a gene somewhere that says “Look at her…oh how I wish I could look like her…” 

I’m not even for a second going to sit here and deny that I do that too. I’m definitely my own worst critic.

So, I decided I wanted to post this picture again, and add in a few extra details. You ready?

meedit

Alrighty, then. Let’s discuss.

Just in case you might have been wondering about those fancy duds I was wearing there, I thought I’d go ahead and let you know where I got them. Yup. Goodwill. This gal LOVES her some thrift shopping. So, back to comparisons. If you’re like my friend (and me) and you decided to compare, say, your clothes to my clothes…then there ya go. There’s no way I can afford a fancy, high-priced dress. I have four teenagers, three dogs, a cat, and a husband…are you kidding me?

And let’s look at those shoes. Yup. Goodwill again. $4, people. Know why I have these? One of our dogs chewed up my only other pair of brown sandals so I found these at Goodwill to replace them. Score! And you know what else? It has taken me years to learn to wear shoes that show my toes. (Many of you may remember the blog that discussed that. See it here if you didn’t.) I HATE my toes. So, if by some small miracle you were one of the comparison lookers that decided to wish you had my shoes?….Goodwill again! And I can guarantee you your feet are going to look better in them than mine do.

Continuing on. Sunglasses? Again, nothing fancy. Dollar General. Hair? Lord have mercy, that hair is au natural – crazy curly, frizzy, tangled, and dyed to cover the gray. So (and as much as I highly doubt this) if you were one of the ones comparing your hair to my hair? Trust me. Be happy with what you have. Especially if it’s straight. You, my friend, are the chosen one.

Now, let’s look at those other stats there. Yep, I just posted my weight for all the world to see. No, I didn’t lie and remove a pound so I could be in the 140s…I promise you that’s what the scale said this morning. 149. Now, let me show you something else.

WomenSee that chart there? Guess what I am? Overweight.

Yep. Overweight.

Now if I were considered a “large frame” person, then I might barely skate in there as a person of “normal” weight. But I’ve always been taught that the way to check your frame size is to look at the size of your wrist. And if that’s the case…oh dear. I’m an extra small frame. My wrists are smaller than some newborns’ wrists. Seriously. So, according to my underdeveloped wrists, I am at least 16 pounds overweight, and could stand to lose about 29 pounds and still be healthy.

Are you kidding me?  29 pounds?  Now, I’m just like most of us, I could stand to lose a pound or two, but 29 pounds? I can honestly tell you that my frame could not handle dropping 29 pounds. I’d look like a skeleton. But wait – the chart says so.

Good grief.

Do you get what I’m getting at here?  There are NO IDEALS. And if there are, they are lies. That chart is a bunch of baloney. In fact, here’s another one I found online.

weightTableBam!  Suddenly, just by scrolling over to a different “expert’s” page, I’m magically a healthy weight! Woohoo!

Geez.

Again, I’m preaching to the choir here, my friends. I’m just as guilty as the next gal of comparing myself to other women. Wishing I was more this, more that, less this…and on, and on. Aren’t we such silly little creatures?

Before I go, back to how I originally started this blog. I mentioned that there were two comments that caught my attention. The other one said this: If I looked that gorgeous, I’d pose for a me picture too.”

*Ahhem.*  Let me just tell you a bit about the person who posted that comment.

It is a woman. (Of course.) But this is not just any woman. This is a woman that I am beyond honored to know. This is a runner. This is a woman who finishes ultra marathons before I’m wiping the sleep out of my eyes in the morning and stumbling to the kitchen for a pop-tart. This is a woman who has graced the cover of running magazines, for Heaven’s sakes. (Yes, I know a celebrity. Now you can be jealous…) This is a woman who could have easily stood by and let the women of past centuries scrub their family’s dirty laundry across her stomach and have it come out sparkling. This is a woman that I can only dream of being…the kind of runner I want to be, the kind of motivator I want to be, the kind of woman I want to be. I wonder if she has any clue how much I admire her? And here she says she says that IF she looked as gorgeous as me…puh-lease!

Oh, women.  Women, women, women. What is wrong with us? We are BEAUTIFUL. Each and every one of us. What we wish we had when we see it in others, we already have ourselves! We just have no idea. What we are constantly looking for in other faces, other clothes, other body types? Those people are looking at us with the same admiration and longing. Isn’t that crazy!

Starting today – let’s all be proud of ourselves. Ok? Let’s post those pictures on Facebook that make us feel  pretty. Better yet, let’s comment on each other’s photos too. Let’s make each other feel as good as the comments on my picture made me feel. If you see one of your fellow gals out there with a new ‘do, tell her it looks great! Like her shoes? Say so! (Hey – she may have gotten them at Goodwill like I did, who knows!?)

The next time the word “comparison” pops into your head, replace it with “compassion.” Not only for yourself (you are perfect just the way you are!) but for that person you’re comparing yourself to as well. They are just as insecure as you are. Believe me. They are.

They really, really are.

Let’s change the way we see ourselves, shall we?

***

“Girls of all kinds can be beautiful — from the thin, plus-sized, short, very tall, ebony to porcelain-skinned; the quirky, clumsy, shy, outgoing and all in between. It’s not easy, though, because many people still put beauty into a confining, narrow box.… Think outside of the box.… Pledge that you will look in the mirror and find the unique beauty in you.”
– Tyra Banks

The Basic Human Rights Struggle…um, I mean The Same-Sex Marriage Struggle

 “Gay rights is just one of the social issues I’m interested in. I think that people might be less tense about it if we would all accept the fact that not everyone is wired the same way.”
– Charlaine Harris
Let me start this out by saying that I’m the least informed person when it comes to politics that you may ever meet in your life. Why is that? I don’t know. I just have a brain block or something when it comes to that subject. I don’t like things that don’t have a clear-cut right or wrong answer. To me, politics is just a massive pile of personal opinion being thrown around that ends up creating laws that force others into submission, regardless of how they may feel about the situation. Call me crazy, but I just don’t like that crap.

And you know another reason I stay out of it?  It’s pretty simple, really.

I HATE when people don’t agree with me.

I do. Oh my gosh, do I hate it. Why are other people so darn dense? Why can’t they see that I’m always right??? Sheesh.

Which brings me to one of the current topics of political discussion these days. Same-sex marriage.

Unless you live under a rock (and hey, if you do – scootch over, I’m coming in too), you have heard that same-sex marriage is a hot topic these days. And now, it has made it to the supreme court. Hearings started yesterday and the outcome is not expected to be heard until June 30th.  June friggin 30th.

protestSo, let me get this straight.  (No pun intended.)  A discussion is going to start on April 28 and is going to continue throughout TWO FULL MONTHS before the final decision is made…and it’s all about whether or not two people who love each other can get married?

Excuse me while I scratch my head for the next two months straight because I don’t know what the heck is happening here.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a voracious reader. I constantly have a book going. Actually, I usually have at least three books going at any given time. I listen to audio books in the car, I carry a paper book with me wherever I go, and I have audio books on my phone so I can listen to them when I’m running. Now, for someone who reads as much as I do, there’s a massive potential for me to be supremely intelligent, wouldn’t you say?  I could be reading “how to” books and history books and current events books. But nope. I just listen to novels. Made-up stories. Not anything earth-shattering or informational. Just pure old-fashioned entertainment. But every now and then, a little nugget of awesomeness slips through from one of these novels. Let me share one with you. This is from The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett.

(Young girl to a nun): “What would the church say about something like that?” (Nun’s answer): “No, the question is what would God say. And that’s between her and God. It’s none of our business.”

Now, did you catch that? It’s NONE OF OUR FRIGGIN BUSINESS. Why in this world is it going to take TWO MONTHS for a bunch of supreme court justices to sit around and decide the fate of something that is none of our business? It just blows my little novel-reading, politics-ignoring, pea-sized mind.

Am I looking at this too simply? Perhaps. But is the world making this much more complicated than it needs to be?  YES. For God’s sake, YES.

I know this may come as a shock to some of you, but Christianity is not the only religion in this country. (I’ll pause here while some of you catch your bearings. Breathe. Just breathe.) Thus, that whole separation of church and state thing that everyone ignores. We are a country of diversity. Beautiful, precious diversity. Why is it any of my business what the neighbors are doing with their personal life? Why? If same-sex couples are not allowed to marry, are they all going to suddenly break up, repent, see the error of their ways, and get back in straight relationships where they belong? Puh-lease. This is a formality. Straight people are straight, gay people are gay, and there is nothing that a supreme court is going to be able to do about that. It’s nature, people.

I was recently at a conference for my job. Now, I work in real estate, mind you, and guess what topic came up at this conference? You guessed it. Same-sex marriage. A local North Carolina county register of deeds was the guest speaker and she was speaking about the changes that have been enacted in relation to same-sex marriages being filed with the court. While same-sex marriages are supposed to be recognized in the state of North Carolina now, many court workers have refused to participate in the preparation and filing of the licenses. So, how has North Carolina responded to this little problem? They have allowed the workers to refuse the work if it goes against their beliefs. Oh, same-sex couples can still be married, mind you. But they have to wait to be sure the register of deeds herself (or himself) is present because they, unlike the other workers, are not allowed to refuse. What the heck?

Scene. Okay, I’m a worker at the register of deeds office. You with me? I’m sitting there playing solitaire on my computer and in walks my ex-boyfriend. Yep, that sorry, no good ex-boyfriend of mine that broke my heart into a million pieces. And who does he have with him? The good-for-nothing little blonde that he LEFT ME FOR. And what’s he there to do? Get a marriage license. Are you kidding me? Oh HELL NO! That jerk doesn’t deserve to be married. So, nope. Not gonna do it. Why? Because my BELIEFS say that this lowlife doesn’t deserve marriage like the rest of us do. Why not? Because he’s a cheating bag of scum. So there. BAM! No marriage for you, sucker.

And guess what? I get to keep my job. Nanny nanny boo boo.

Oh, wait. That scenario is different, you say?  Pray tell me how? That was me letting my personal beliefs interfere with my job. Why on earth do I get to continue working there? Shouldn’t I have to do my job or get the heck out? What is it about this that I’m not getting, people?  Help me out here.

At this same conference, the register of deeds was talking about all of the new e-filing systems and how technologically advanced North Carolina is when it comes to those matters. Somewhat under her breath, she followed that up with, “North Carolina: technologically advanced, but legally backwards.”

Amen, sister.

I_Support_All_Kinds_of_Love_by_Hazel_AlmondsWhat’s my point of this blog? Nothing really. Just a rant, I suppose. Just some rambling thoughts about an issue that affects people I love. Will what I say make a difference to anyone?  Probably not. But should I keep saying it? You betcha. If one person out there knows that one other person in this world has their back, then my job here is done.

Why can’t we just love and let love?  I just don’t get it….

***

“If Sue loves Joe and Tom loves Joe, Sue can marry him and Tom can’t. And the difference is based upon their different sex. Why isn’t that a straightforward question of sexual discrimination?”

– Chief Justice John Roberts, April 28, 2015

Motherpluckers

“Yes, Mother. I can see you are flawed. You have not hidden it. That is your greatest gift to me.”
– Alice Walker

This post is a short ode to the motherpluckers of the world.

I salute you.

photo You know who I’m talking about, right?  Motherpluckers.

The women (particularly moms) who still find the time to pluck their eyebrows and stuff like that during their uber-busy lives. (Wait…what did you think I was saying?  That’s the name for them, right? Motherpluckers?  Well, sheesh, what do you call them?  Anyway….)

Let me just say that you chicks amaze me. I don’t even have small children anymore, but Richard and I have three teenagers and one pre-teen between us and let me tell you – getting myself ready to go anywhere falls LAST on the priority list. By the time everyone is up, fed, bathed, and clothed, I’m usually standing in a towel with dripping hair while the rest of the family is wondering why I’m not ready to leave.

If I manage to get out of the house with pants on, I’m doing good.

How do you ladies do it?  How do you have the manicures and the highlighted hair and the perfect makeup?  TEACH ME, OH WISE ONES!

Eh, I guess I’ve made it this far with my bushy eyebrows and frizzy hair, so I suppose I’ll be alright. But still – it’s hard not to look at you guys with the adoration that my teenage daughter reserves for boy bands. I’m in awe. Mesmerized. Obsessed.

Jealous.

But, I’m guessing those same women may look at me and wonder how I find the time to run, don’t they? I’m sure they wonder how I squeeze that into the day – and sometimes I wonder that myself.

busy_moms_prayer_postcard-r4f6031192de84898be9b22dcb21a3867_vgbaq_8byvr_500I guess all of we moms wish we had more time for the things we can’t seem to fit into our busy lives, don’t we?  I suppose I should just look at it like this: If we’re all finding time to do at least something just for us – whether it be running, plucking, reading, or whatever else makes us feel better about ourselves – then I’d say we’re probably doing alright.

“Get busy living, or get busy dying.” as my buddy Stephen King says. As long as we’re living, we’re not dead. If I manage to leave my house with two daughters with French-braided hair and two sons with their bellies full, then I guess my bushy eyebrows are a small price to pay.

Hey, at least I’m wearing pants.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have things to do… 😉

***

“The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.” – Jessica Lange

Next up…50K

“The only limits are those we place on ourselves; and it is possible to overcome those limits to achieve more than we ever thought possible.”
– Chrissy Wellington

Okay. I’m gonna do it.

Me. The girl who almost died doing my first marathon back in November? Remember her?

Well, that dummy just signed up for Another Dam 50K.

No, really, that’s the name of it. Another Dam 50K.  See?

Dam50kSigh. What the heck am I doing? What’s my problem? Wasn’t 26.2 miles of torture enough? Why, oh why, do I want to add 5 more miles to it? What on earth am I thinking??

Save yourselves the trouble of asking because, trust me – I beat you to to it. I’ve asked myself the very same thing. Many times. And you know what?  I have the answer to it too. I finally figured it out.

The answer is this:

I have no idea.

Yep. That’s it. That’s the answer. No idea.

Why do I run? I don’t know. Why did I start running? I don’t know. Why is each added distance just not quite enough to make me happy? Eh.

I don’t know.

I really don’t. Am I crazy? Maybe. Well….probably. [But I’m not sure that has anything to do with running…] Am I a sucker for punishment? For pain? Well, no. I don’t think so anyway. So, what the heck am I doing?

Maybe that’s just it. Maybe there is no rational answer at all.

There’s nothing rational about pushing your body to the limit. Am I ever going to have to run 26.2 miles or more in my life? Ever? I think I can safely say that the answer to that is no. So, physically and rationally, there is no reason for me to learn to go that distance.

But emotionally?

Oh man. Emotionally…there’s every reason in the world for me to learn to go the distance, so to speak. As a military brat, I am the Queen of Temporary. Nothing ever lasts. Homes, relationships, friendships, etc… it all used to be temporary to me. New starts? Now, I was always good at those. But finishes? Ha! Let’s just say that going the distance wasn’t one of my strong suits. In a life where all was temporary, why learn permanence? Why stick with anything?

Until now.

Until running.

Running is something that I’ve found that I don’t want to quit. I don’t. Sure, I get frustrated now and then. I get injured temporarily. I get tired. But each and every single time, I get right back up and start moving again. I found something that I just can’t stop doing. No matter how much life tries to throw at me to keep me from it, I always manage to find my way back.

“I ran, and kept running, because I had learned that once you started something you didn’t quit, because in life, much like in an ultramarathon, you have to keep pressing forward… I ran because overcoming the difficulties of an ultramarathon reminded me that I could overcome the difficulties of life, that overcoming difficulties was life.”
– Scott Jurek, ultramarathoner

Distance running has made me a better person. It has taught me how to make up my mind about something, and stick with it. It has taught me that sometimes working through the pain is worth it because of what lies on the other side. It has taught me that I’m tough. That I’m strong.

That I’m a finisher.

So, why do I want to run a 50K now?  Well, how about that?  Maybe I do know after all.

Because I can.

50K

50K. 31.07 miles. June 6, 2015. Let’s do this.

***

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
-T. S. Eliot

 

One Day This Won’t Matter

“I have no right, by anything I do or say, to demean a human being in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him; it is what he thinks of himself. To undermine a man’s self-respect is a sin.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I know. I know.  One day this won’t matter.

One day, I’ll look back on this situation that infuriates me and I’ll realize that life went right on. No one died. The earth didn’t stop spinning. The sun didn’t stop coming up every morning.

I get it.

But by God, today is not “one day.”  Today is today. And today…it matters.

Without giving specifics (which I want to do sooooo bad), I’ll just say that I’ve had a “disagreement” with my kids’ school recently regarding the way some of the people in authority have handled a certain situation. I have tried so very hard to raise my kids to respect authority (heck, I even blogged about it), but sometimes…sometimes authority is just blatantly misused. It really is. Sometimes, just because someone is wearing the “I’m the boss” hat, that doesn’t mean they’re in the right.

My child took a chance and courageously spoke out against the way he and some friends were being treated by the coach of a sports team. And what was the result?

He is now no longer a part of the team.  And not only that, he got sent off with a little jab about his own abilities and aptitudes in the sport. Great coaching, huh?

Now, granted, with the way things were being handled on the team (politics, politics, politics), I’m not entirely heartbroken that he doesn’t have to be a part of it anymore. But you know what? He is.

And that sucks.

Where do you draw the line, people? How do you raise your children to respect authority, and yet also teach them to stand up for themselves when the authority is corrupt?  It’s such a thin line…such a gray area. Where’s my parenting handbook?  Anybody got one I can borrow?

*sigh*

So, no. One day this won’t matter. One day we’ll look back on this moment in my son’s high school career and we’ll laugh about the insignificance of this particular incidence to the rest of his adult life. One day.

But today? Today I have a heartbroken kid who just got a cruel life lesson handed to him the hard way. Sometimes, even though you are doing the right thing and standing up for injustice, it may not work out. You may have to suffer the consequences for it.

So, the question to ask yourself is this: Are the consequences worth taking the risk?

courageI’m proud of my son and the courage it took to stand up for what he thought was right. I just hate that it sets the example for other kids to sit back and shut up because if you say something, you’ll be punished. That’s not what these kids need to learn. That’s not what the world needs to see.

There’s a healthy respect for authority. And then there’s a misuse of authority. It’s up to each of us as individuals to try our best to discern the difference.

And boy, that one’s a toughie.

One day this won’t matter. Really. It won’t.

Or will it?

***

“In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.”
– Albert Einstein

Random Sparks

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”
– Albert Schweitzer

So, if you’re a regular reader of mine, you know that I start each blog out with a quote. And I’m willing to bet that a lot of you just skim right over it and get right to the meat of the blog post. Am I right? Do you do that? Ha! Busted! (You didn’t know I knew that, did you? Surprise! I know ALL…muhahaha).

rekindleWell, that’s all well and good…you just skip all the quotes you want to there, buddy.  But this time – well, this time, you’re not allowed to do that. I’m putting my foot down, by golly. This time I’m going to make you read the quote. Go on now. Go back up there and read it and then come back. I’ll wait.

Are you back?

Did you read it?

Okay, good. Now, I wanted you to read that because this whole blog post is going to center around the concept that it presents. I’ve seen the quote many times before and it never occurred to me (until today, that is) that those encounters with human beings didn’t have to necessarily be “deep” or earth-shattering, per se.  They didn’t even have to be personal. In fact, sometimes you don’t even need to have known the person at all.

Case in point.

I had to go to court this morning. Now, hold your horses. Don’t go spreading rumors that I’m a criminal or anything. It was just an old humdrum run-of-the-mill court appearance for a traffic offense. Ya know, my usual. (If you don’t know me personally, or you missed this blog, let’s just suffice it to say that I’m not the luckiest gal in the world when it comes to vehicles.)  So there I sat, reading a novel that I brought along and waiting for my name to be called, when the person beside me struck up a conversation.

Her – “Is that a good book?”
Me – “Yeah, actually, it’s great.”
Her – “I’ve heard a lot about it, but I haven’t read it yet.”

This polite conversation eventually lead to my asking her about the book she was reading. (We were the only two people in the building holding actual books, by the way, instead of playing on our phones.) She told me she was reading a book about writing.

Me – “Oh, are you a writer?”
Her – “Well, yes, I guess you could say that.”
Me – “That’s great. Me too. Sort of.”

(You’ll always find that in writers…that hesitation to call ourselves a “writer.”  What is it about that title that seems so distant? So unattainable? Why do we feel so undeserving? Sheesh.)

So, this polite chitchat ended up launching us into what was to become what I am now calling an hour-long best-friendship. Together, we discussed all things writing…from the way writers see the world differently (we made up so many stories about people in that courtroom that it would make your head spin) to the pros and cons of certain kinds of publishing. As it turns out, my new random friend who was afraid to call herself a writer actually makes her living being a writer. She quit her job and started publishing romance novels on Amazon six months ago. The income she has generated from doing so has actually been enough for her to live on. Wow!  (And incidentally…she hates romance novels. That’s just where the market is heaviest right now and she wanted to get a good, firm foundation before diving into the stuff she really likes – young adult and fantasy novels).

By the time my name was called, I felt so “recharged,” it was crazy.  I wanted to run out of that courtroom and plop down in front of my computer and write and write and write. (Of course, I didn’t. I had to go to work. Sigh. But you get the idea…)  My inner spark had just been “burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.” How about that!?

All of this lead me to remember something. I had a favorite uncle – Uncle Jeff – who passed away from heart complications when he was only 33 years old. Just prior to his death, he underwent a fairly new surgery that placed a machine inside of him that would pump his heart for him. Had he survived the operation, he would have lived a “normal” life except for one small detail…he’d have to actually “plug himself in” periodically. Yep, you read that right. Thanks to the marvels of medical technology, people are able to live normal, healthy lives all while being kept alive by a man-made machine pumping their hearts for them – and my sweet uncle was almost one of them. I remember having a conversation with him just prior to the surgery. He said something along the lines of, “All I have to do is make sure I’m near an outlet and I’ll be fine.”

Hmmm.

Maybe my random hour-long best-friend was just that. An outlet. A power source. Something to re-charge me just when I needed it most.

So, as we bid goodbye to 2014 and say “howdy do” to 2015, I challenge you all to do just this…keep an eye out for those power sources. Got it? Recharge as often as you can…don’t miss a single opportunity. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t let a spark just pass you by without allowing it to do its job. Recognize it! Engage it. Talk to that stranger…spend time with that aging wisdom-filled grandmother…surround yourself with artistic friends…dive into those novels.  Let’s spend 2015 reigniting those flames, shall we?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a novel to work on…

Happy New Year!

***

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke

I did!

“The highest happiness on earth is the happiness of marriage.”
—William Lyon Phelps

So, remember that post I wrote a while back called “I do?”  Well, guess what?

I did!

weddingC

Our family

On November 1, 2014, Richard and I were married.  FINALLY!

I wanted to wait until I got the professional pics back to write a blog about our wedding, but I just decided that I couldn’t wait anymore.  There were so many magical moments that I don’t want to let slip out of my memory.  I figured I better get them out here before they’re lost…I’m not a spring chicken anymore, ya know.  So, here goes!

Well, first of all, for those of you who aren’t local, or who weren’t present, November 1 dawned with a slight surprise.  After mid-week temps in the 70s, November 1 decided to be the day that the first snow fell.  And we’re not talking flurries here, people.  We’re talking Snow. With a capital S.  Wanna see?

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Our house on Wedding Day

Yep, we got a good 3-4 inches of snow overnight, and it was still falling. Now, mind you, our wedding was to be held right here at our house. In our living room. We couldn’t help but wonder how this was going to affect the turnout, but honestly we weren’t all that worried.  We had a very small wedding planned that consisted of mostly family and a few close friends…it was the reception later that might be affected by the weather.  As for the wedding, most of the people who were going to be present were already safe and secure inside our home anyway, so we were good to go!  No worries, right?

And then comes the call from the hairdresser.

“Um, yeah, the weather is a little too rough for me. I’m not going to make it.”

*Sigh*  So, I’m not the “hire a hair dresser” type anyway, but I was actually looking forward to this.  This lady had offered to come to our house and get myself and my daughter and my step-daughter (awww…”step-daughter”…yay!) ready so that it would be at least one less stressor on my plate. So, I hadn’t done anything to “plan” any kind of hairstyle for any of us, because it didn’t have to be my problem. Ha…wrong. Welcome to “this is your problem now.”  Crap!

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My niece Emaree…stepping in as hairdresser extraordinaire

No worries, though.  With family surrounding me, we had this covered.  First, up stepped my five-year-old niece Emaree.  She got me all brushed out and ready to go.  What more could a bride need, right? 😉  And then, after she had us all tangle-free, her mom – my saintly sister Cathy – stepped in and finished the job.  Thank God for sisters!  I think we ladies probably looked even better than we would have if the hairdresser would have shown up, don’t you?  WeddingE(Thank you, Cathy!!!)

So, hairstyle catastrophe averted, it was on to the ceremony.

After my fantastic husband-to-be drove to town to pick up our photographer and bring her to the house to keep her from having to drive in the snow, everyone was officially present and accounted for, including our three impromptu flower girls.  Impromptu flower girls, you ask?  Well, let’s just say that we had three little girls that were bound and determined that a wedding is just not a wedding without flower girls.

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Bridal party…WITH flower girls

So, my wonderful aunt Stacey made a last minute dash to Walmart for some flower petals and…voila!  Flower girls.

(Hey, if the ladies aren’t happy….no one is happy.  Capisce?)

[Thank you, Kenzie, Emaree, and Elise….you girls were perfect!!!]

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Fireplace

The ceremony was short and simple, but not without that special Edmondson sentimentality thrown in here and there. For one thing, we got married in the very spot that Richard’s mother and late father were married in – in front of the fireplace in the living room.

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Photo display

At the beginning of the ceremony, Richard lit a candle in front of a picture of his father to honor his memory and make him a part of our special day.  Also, together with the picture of Richard’s father, we placed photos in the window of all of the weddings and receptions before ours that took place in and around this home.  (Ours was definitely not the first union of love in this spot, and I have a feeling it won’t be the last.)

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The Edmondson/Halsey family

After many tears were shed and rings were exchanged, we then joined as a family to participate in a sand ceremony, with each of us adding our own color sand to the glass jar representing the joining of our two families.   And there it was….the deed was done.  Our new family was officially complete.

Then, a few hours later, it was on to the reception!  Here’s where we were surprised by the turnout.  Apparently the weather didn’t stop many people, we had a house FULL of love and laughter that evening. So many people dropped by to celebrate with us…and oh, the food!  So much food!

Speaking of food…I almost forgot to mention our wedding “cake!”  Instead of going with a cake, we decided to do cupcakes.  I had that in my head from the beginning (seemed less formal somehow and that was kind of the theme to this whole thing) so an idea hit me one day.  One of our little theatre buddies, Rowan (age 14), is quite the little baker.  Oh, who am I kidding?  We’re talking child prodigy here, people.  For real.  So, I asked Richard a few months ago how he would feel about us hiring a 14-year-old as our wedding cupcake maker.  His response?  He absolutely loved the idea.  And the finished result?

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Cupcake tower a la Rowan

WOW!

The kid’s got some mad skillz, yo.  We were thrilled….and so were our guests!

Oh, there were just so many wonderful, unique, amazing things that happened as part of my wedding day, that I just don’t know how to list them all in one blog post. From a winter-storm related power outage during the reception (yep…that happened), to my former theatre director giving me “notes” after the wedding (yep…that happened too…”Okay, next time a little less weepy and a little more in control of your emotions”…), this wedding had it all, my friends.  Memories, galore.

And then some.

If you were a part of my wedding day, near or far, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart.  We felt the love that day, for sure.  Not only the massive amount of love that we felt for each other, but the outpouring of love from our friends and family as well. We have never felt so honored.

It was the perfect day…winter storm and all.

Check back for another blog post after we get our professional photos back!  I want to give mad props to my friend and photographer Bobbi Jo in that post and showcase her and her excellent work.  I can’t wait to show you!

Thank you for traveling through my wedding day with me by reading this blog. I can’t wait to come back and read this over and over throughout the years and remember how very happy I was on November 1, 2014.  And how very “right” it all felt.

Here’s to many, many years of bliss!

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My love

***
“I think a lot of people get so obsessed with the wedding and the expense of the wedding that they miss out on what the real purpose is. It’s not about a production number, it’s about a meaningful moment between two people that is witnessed by people that they actually really know and care about.”
– Jane Seymour

Lead By Example

“It’s hard being a girl. There are a lot of body image issues that come up and I think the best thing we can do for our kids is lead by example.”
– Cheryl Hines

Some of you may remember me mentioning a while back that I am now helping coach a new Girls on the Run team in our area.  If you’re not familiar with Girls on the Run, we are basically what the name implies…girls on the run!  We have a team of 3rd – 5th grade girls and we meet twice a week…not only to run, but also to talk about the qualities and values we need to have to be the best ladies we can be out here in this big ole world.  And believe me, I’m learning just as much as the girls are.  No doubt about it.

Which brings me to the topic of today’s blog.

exampleblogOne of the things the other two coaches and I have discussed is the importance of participating in both the physical activities (running, warmups, etc.) and the mental activities (lessons about our character, etc.) right along with the girls.  It’s one thing to tell people what they should do, but it becomes a whole different lesson when you show them.  It means more.  For instance, if we expect the girls to do 20 laps, then we get out there and do 20 laps with them.  If we are teaching a lesson about the importance of not gossiping, we have to make sure we don’t find ourselves in situations where we, as adults, are doing just that.  You catch my drift?

We have to not only lead these girls, but lead them by example.

Now, I thought I was doing a pretty job of this whole concept. I mean, after all, I’m currently training for a marathon…surely I’m leading by example as far as running is concerned, right?  And when we have our lessons about character traits, I’ve been willing to share personal info from my own life (including the parts I admittedly need to work on myself…I mean, who knew that listening was actually a part of the process when I’m arguing with my fiancé, Richard? Hey…you learn something new every day, right?)  But earlier this week, something caught me slightly off guard.  My “lead by example” strategy got challenged.

One of our girls was talking to me during our laps, and she mentioned how much trouble she has with her “crazy hair.” Now, this wasn’t the first time this girl has mentioned her hair, so I know it is somewhat of a sore spot with her. Like me, she has been “blessed” with a head full of curly hair.  And, as we all know, the straight-haired girls want the curls and the curly-haired girls want to give them to them.  I understood this girl’s dilemma quite well.  Taming the mane does not come easy.

So, we had a conversation that went a little something like this:

Her:  I have so much trouble with my crazy hair!
Me:  Why do you call it crazy hair? You have great hair!
Her:  You don’t understand. It’s curly and frizzy and everywhere all the time.
Me:  Oh, I definitely understand, silly. Mine is exactly the same.
Her:  *quizzical look* No, it’s not.
Me:  Well, sure it is.
Her:  I can’t tell. You always wear it back.
Me:  Well…

And here’s where I had to actually stop myself from saying what was on the tip of my tongue.  Because you know what almost came out?  What almost spilled out of my face was, “Well, that’s because my hair is horrible and I can’t do anything with it.”

Whooops.

Didn’t I just finish telling her that we had the same hair?  If I said that, what would I be telling her about her own hair?

I can’t remember exactly how I finished the conversation. I think I told her something about how as you get older, you find more ways to fix your hair and different products that make you learn to like it better, etc.  Which is true. But you know what I usually do with my crazy curls?  Straighten them. And when I don’t have time for that, I pile them in a ponytail or in a bun. I hide them.

Here’s where I need to learn to lead by example.

If I tell this little girl to embrace her curls and learn to love them…all while mine are hidden from view, is she going to hear me?  Is she going to learn to accept herself for who she is and not try to “fix” what she perceives as an error to make herself more “acceptable” to her peers?  *sigh*  I’m guessing not.

Time to lead by example.

mehairblogSo, today, my crazy curls are flapping around for all the world to see.  When I get to practice in a few hours, that little girl is going to see that she and her coach have a little something in common…curly, “crazy” hair that we are learning to accept and appreciate.  Together, we are going to show each other that this thing that makes us unique, somehow also makes us the same.  And we are going to learn to be proud of that fact…not try to hide it.

So, thank you my little Girls on the Run student for showing this old gal a little thing or two.

Are you leading by example in your life?  Something to think about, isn’t it?  The little people are watching…don’t forget that.

 ***

“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

Tribute to a Friend

“Happiness is often the result of being too busy to be miserable.”
– Anonymous

So, as you can probably tell from my prolonged blog absence, I’ve been a little busy lately. Between getting ready for a wedding, a marathon, an Oz performance, and a community theatre performance, my plate is a little full. Okay, it’s actually overflowing if you want to know the truth. But you want to know a secret? I’m loving every second of it!  Being busy keeps me sane.  Keeps me grounded.

But, of course, there can be a downside. When your plate is full with a few things that take up most of your time, some other certain things may have to get left off of the plate at all. And lately, one of those things has my writing.

But I decided to pop in here for just a second and revisit you guys in blog world. How are you?  Miss me?

And, actually, to be quite honest, I really don’t have the time to write the blog I’m writing now either. But I decided I had to make the time in this case. It’s fresh on my mind, and I think I have a good story that should be told.  I don’t expect it to be a literary masterpiece or anything like that…Simon and Schuster aren’t going to be knocking on my door with any publishing contracts anytime soon.  But, you know what? Sometimes it’s the simple, personal topics that tend to go overlooked in a writer’s world.  They’re too busy paying attention to the big picture and concentrating on where the next story lies, to recognize the little mini-stories that may lie right in front of their faces.

Well, not this time.  Today, my topic is simple.  I want to brag on my friend, Rob.

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Rob and Bobbi Jo

First, let me introduce you them as a couple. These are my friends Bobbi Jo and Rob.  Cute, huh?  Everybody say, “Hi Bobbi Jo and Rob!”  (Did you do it?  Out loud?  Okay, good.)  Now, Bobbi Jo and I have gotten pretty close over the past few years.  We met through theatre and have had lots of fun working on various shows together.

Well, most of the time it was fun anyway. Here’s a picture of her slapping me in the face during one of our shows….*sigh*

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“Mama Won’t Fly” – March 2014 Ashe County Little Theatre

(Okay, I admit it.  That was actually fun, too….)

Now, I adore Bobbi Jo. She’s one of my favorite people in this world. I’m so glad to have gotten to know her and her family and am certain my life is better for it.  In fact, she’s the one that will be taking pictures at my wedding!  Talk about a wedding gift!  But for this blog, I’m going to switch gears for a bit.  I want to tell you about her husband.

As it is in most cases with female friends, I know Bobbi’s husband, of course. But I never found myself in a situation where we were able to talk much.  Seemed like a pretty cool guy, but I didn’t know him like I knew Bobbi. But lately, that has changed.

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Rob, who had never been involved in theatre before, decided to dabble a little after seeing his wife get involved.  He started helping with tech work, helped build a few sets, even had a few non-speaking roles here and there. But then, much to his surprise, after deciding to audition for our current show, Wait Until Dark, by Frederick Knott, Rob was cast as one of the lead roles, Mike.

Now, I don’t know if my readers know much about this show or not.  You may have seen the movie back in the 60s starring Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin?  Basically, it’s the story of a blind woman (played by yours truly) who is “befriended” by a con man (played by Rob) who, while working with two other conmen, is trying to get back something that this blind woman unknowingly possesses. The role played by Rob is no joke, people. It’s difficult. He’s not only playing a character, but he’s playing a character who is conning someone else. Meaning, he is essentially playing two roles in one…and doing it all with a blind co-star.

Pretty easy work for a newbie, wouldn’t you say? Ha!

Now, anyone who has been involved in theatre for years like I have will tell you this – chemistry between actors who are working together is extremely important. If you can’t work well together before the curtain rises, the audience is going to recognize that once the lights are on you. They may not be able to pinpoint exactly what is missing, but they will know that something is. And, almost always, that missing component is chemistry. And, in this case, the chemistry between the roles Rob and I play is even more important because the connection between the two is what carries the show. The audience has to buy that the blind woman has become friends with this man before the con (the central plot of the play) is going to work.

So, Rob and I had a challenge before us. It was time to get to know each other…to learn to work together. And honestly, I think we have done a pretty good job of that in the past few months of rehearsals. We know each other a little better than we did before. We now consider each other friends – no longer any need for the terms “my wife’s friend” or my “friend’s husband.”  We were going to be just fine. The show was going to be just fine. We were ready for opening night tomorrow.

But then last night…. hmmm….how do I put this? Let’s just say that last night something happened that pushed us over the edge of “fine.” Last night, I discovered something in Rob that I didn’t know was there before.  Last night, I realized that our work together isn’t going to just be fine.

It’s going to be phenomenal.

And here’s why.

Last night, Rob and I got faced with an actor’s biggest nightmare.  Now, granted, let me go ahead and give the disclaimer that it wasn’t a show night.  We are still in tech week rehearsals, and this was our second-to-last dress rehearsal before the “real” opening night on Friday.  But, as it often happens with dress rehearsals, we had a few audience members here and there…a few friends, family members, other theatre friends, etc.  And, in the world of theatre (and any other performance art), an audience of even just one person is still an audience. In our minds, it was “go time.”

Well, part of tech week is working out the little hidden, last-minute kinks that tend to present themselves. And last night?  Yeah, last night there was a kink. A big one.  One of our other actors had a major costume change that was being implemented for the first time between scenes.  In the process of this actor’s “conning,” he goes from one character to another – which involves a pretty drastic change in appearance.  And this change in appearance requires a rather lengthy costume change.  A little more “lengthy” than any of us were expecting.

So, let me set the stage for you.  (heh…See what I did there?)

“Mike” (Rob) and I have just been involved in a scene where a “police sergeant” (not really – it was another conman) has been asking me a lot of uncomfortable questions. In part of their “good cop/bad cop” routine, Mike defends me and manages to make the sergeant go away and leave me alone. But just after the sergeant’s exit, another conman is supposed to arrive at the door.

You following me? So, here Rob and I were onstage, mid-scene. Sergeant leaves, doorbell rings, Rob goes to answer the door and….

Yep, you guessed it.

No one was there.

Now, we actors have this technical phrase that pops into our heads anytime something unexpected (like a missed entrance) happens onstage. It goes something like this…

OH SHIT!

But you want to know what Rob did?  Rob – newbie Rob – opens the door, sees no one is there and simple says, “Huh. There’s no one there.”  He then calmly closes the door, comes back down the stairs, and starts a completely improv conversation with me. Just like that. He kept his cool and kept the conversation flowing. The two of us completely made up a complete conversation so the audience wouldn’t realize something was wrong…and that conversation was completely lead not by the veteran actor that has been onstage for 20 years, mind you, but by the person who was speaking in front of an audience for the first time in his life.

Wow.  That’s all.  Just wow.

So, you hear those stories about how people go through tragedies together and it brings them closer, right?  Survivors of airplane crashes, first aid heroes and the injured, things like that. Well, on a somewhat smaller scale (but to an actor, not really), I feel like that’s what happened last night with us.  We survived!  We got offstage and I practically bear hugged the dude. He saved our butts real good with that one.

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Cast and crew of Wait Until Dark – ACLT Oct 17-19, 2014

So, there you have it, folks.  Today’s blog was just a tribute to my co-actor and friend, Rob Scott. Want to see him and all the rest of this extremely talented cast in the show this weekend?  (And btw, no worries – we have those timing kinks all worked out….) 😉  Then come on down to the Ashe Civic Center in West Jefferson, North Carolina this weekend.  We’d love to have you join us.  Come see what all the fuss is about.  Come watch the hard work and dedication that a small group of talented volunteers have put together solely for your entertainment. And trust me – you will be entertained.  Maybe even a little spooked, to tell ya the truth.

Hey, don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

And do me a favor, won’t you?  After the curtain falls and you’re shaking hands with the actors who have brought this show to you…give my friend Rob an extra little pat on the back, won’t you?  I’m not sure he realizes how much he deserves it.

See you there!

***

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”
– Helen Keller

More Than Words

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”
– Georgia O’Keeffe

I was just recently given an awesome opportunity to be a part of an art exhibit.  Yep, you heard that right.  An art exhibit.  Me…the girl who can’t even draw stick figures…in an ART exhibit!  How do ya like them apples?!

Okay, so there was a bit of a catch. I wasn’t allowed to draw. Or paint. Or color. Or create stick figures. They just wanted my words.

Words. In an art exhibit!

When I first heard about this idea, I was a little confused. Um…you want my words in your art exhibit? Come again? But once I started getting into and realizing what this whole thing was about, I was blown away by the idea.

So, here’s how it worked.  Our local Ashe County Arts Council paired up local writers with local artists. (What their criteria was in this selection process is beyond me, but somehow they managed to pair me with exactly the right person. I know that without a doubt.  My artist partner Gerry and I clicked from the get-go.)  Once our pairs were determined, we were given a “project.”  I was to give Gerry something I had written, and she was to give me something she had painted.  She was to use the writing I had given her to inspire a new work of art.  And I, in turn, was to use her painting to inspire a new written work of art.

Pretty cool, huh?

And then, as part of an exhibit that opened up on September 10, each artist/writer pair’s work was hung in the art gallery together – side-by-side with the piece of art that inspired their creation.  The official reception for the artists and writers and anyone who wanted to view their works was on the night of Friday, September 12. Gerry and I found each other and, while standing near our display, found ourselves overcome with the emotional responses our work brought about.

Now, I can’t speak for Gerry, but as a writer – this was pretty new to me.  I’m not used to “watching” people read my work.  You know?  I write it – I send it out in the world – and then I just hope it touches someone somewhere who may have needed to hear it. I may get feedback sometimes, but it’s rare that I get to actually see their responses.  This night, though?  Oh, this night was so different.

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Photo by Chris Arvidson

This picture here to the right is a photo that my dear friend and fellow writer Chris Arvidson took that night.  I would have remembered this moment forever even without the photographic evidence, but I can’t believe that she was so eloquently able to capture it at just the right time.  This woman, among others, was actually moved to tears after reading what I had written and seeing Gerry’s painting that accompanied it.  The photo captured her turning back to us to tell us how much it had meant to her.

Wow.

Isn’t that the coolest?

This is why I do what I do, people. This is why musicians make music. Why singers sing. Why painters paint. Why actors act.  We do these things for this moment right here.  To know that for just one moment in time, two human beings became one in their emotions. Someone out there looked at what we created and said, “Yes.”  That’s it.  Just yes. Yes, I have felt that.  Yes, I know that feeling.  Yes, I know you.  Thank you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I’m telling you people, there’s nothing like it.

morethanwords2So, if you’re local, do yourself a favor.  Go by and check out this exhibit.  It will be on display through October 4th at the Ashe Arts Center, located at 303 School Avenue, West Jefferson, North Carolina. Gerry and I are just one of many pairs that have contributed to this, and each story, poem, painting, and piece of artwork tells a story that you need to hear.  Come by and have your emotions reawakened.  After all, that’s the beauty of art in all its forms, isn’t it?

(And by the way, you’ll definitely want to see what Gerry created from my poem Escape.  A photo just wouldn’t do it justice. You’re going to want to see this one in person.)

And now, in closing, I’ll leave you with the poem Gerry’s market painting inspired me to write.  It’s entitled “Market Visitor.”

Thanks for being here, my fellow humans!  Stop to notice something special today, won’t you?

Market Visitor

What’s that I see coming near?
She must be lost. Why’s she here?
She stops to stare—is it at me?
Oh how I wonder what she sees.

What’s that she’s taking—a photograph?
She wants my picture? What a laugh!
Surely there must be some mistake,
What image is here for her to take?

“Hello there, old girl,” she says with glee,
“Oh, what a sight you are to see.
The forgotten beauty of a long-lost saint—
Ah, what a joy you’ll be to paint.”

An artist? With an interest in me?
Underneath all this ruin, could she see?
The people I’ve seen come and go,
The life I’ve lived—how does she know?

Does she see beyond the tattered boards,
The broken windows, rotting doors?
As she gazes at outer walls worn thin,
Does she know of all the life within?

Can she hear the laughter of children at play,
Hear the hustle and bustle from back in the day?
Does she see the past once filled with life
The fun-filled days, the peaceful nights?

The pleasantries once exchanged within
The constant motion, ceaseless din—
Are now only memories in this silent shrine
Slowly fading away with the passage of time.

And yet with one visit, something feels refreshed
I pull myself together, try to look my very best
For the story behind these shadows might finally be seen
All because one artist took the time to stop and notice me.

– Melissa Halsey Caudill, 2014