Tag Archives: north carolina

Where’s the Respect?

“We don’t need to share the same opinions as others, but we need to be respectful.”
– Taylor Swift

Respect, Respect, whereforart thou, Respect?

Cue the moans and groans.

We sit around typing away on our phones and computers about how the youth of today have totally lost respect for their elders. We rant and we rave about how this country has “gone to hell” and how this new generation has no morals or ethics. We wonder what has happened and we cast blame, blame, blame. [Thanks, Obama.]

But ladies and gentlemen, guess what? I’ve single-handedly figured it all out! I know whose fault it is and I’m here to tell you the answer once and for all. You ready?

YOU.

It’s your own damn fault.

And here’s why.

web1_KeanTriplettBarackObama-1

Photo from Jefferson Post 5/30/2016

An article was just posted in our tiny little town’s newspaper about a local teacher, Keana Triplett, who was named North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year. As part of this major honor, she was given the opportunity to meet President Obama. (Read the article here.) The article had only been posted online for about 10 whole minutes when the negativity started rolling in.

“I feel sorry for her.”

“He’s not my president!”

“I would have passed on meeting Obama – I’ve got better things to do with my time.”

“The president and his family sure haven’t been respectful to America, why should we respect them?” [Note: His family?? What did those little girls ever to do to you??]

What in the hell?

Okay, tell me what on Earth these comments have to do with Keana Triplett, North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year? You know that lack of respect you’re bemoaning in your children? Well, right here is where they learn it, folks.

Right here.

Where is the congratulations for this insanely huge distinction given to a woman who is teaching your children? Where is the admiration for the honor of a small-town hero being afforded the opportunity to meet the leader of our country?

YOU are teaching your children not to have respect.

Yes, YOU.

The next time you go blaming Obama or “the gays” or whoever else is on your radar at any given time, take a look at yourself, okay? Look at how you’re acting. Look at what you’re saying. Look at how you’ve totally twisted a news story about our small-town hero into your own personal political agenda. Look at how full of yourself you are and how much more important you think your opinion is over the intention of this story.

And hey, while you’re at it – take a good long look at how you’re treating the man who runs this country.

You want to know where our country’s morals and ethics and RESPECT have gone? Take a look in the mirror, people. Take a look in the mirror.

You’ll find your culprit staring you right in the face.

***

 

 

Agreeable Disagreers

“If you have learned how to disagree without being disagreeable, then you have discovered the secret of getting along – whether it be business, family relations, or life itself.”
– Bernard Meltzer

Last week, I was a mess.

In case you missed it, I wrote a blog late one night called In Hate I Trust. That night was a rough one. After participating in a peaceful protest against a waste of taxpayer funds in our small mountain community in North Carolina (read the local newspaper article here), I became the target of much vitriol from many locals who disagreed with my stance. Because our protest was tied into religion, the “you’re going to hell” folks came out in full force. One of whom even targeted my child with her “God-fearing” bitterness and hatred.

and

Photo by Cassondra Greer

The night I wrote that blog, I thought I was done. I thought I would never speak out about anything ever again because I would only be misunderstood and condemned, and my children would be the ones to suffer the consequences.

But. As it always does, morning came.

And in the days to come, for a multitude of reasons, my heart was healed.

First, after a teary apology to my daughter the next morning for what had happened, I was greeted with a blank stare and a simple, “Why are you sorry? You didn’t do it.” Oh, the simplicity of a child. She saw right through my misplaced self-contempt and redirected it to where it belonged – onto the person who had wronged her. “What did I ever do to her?” was her question. And what a good one it was.

With my daughter’s blessing, and a newfound determination, I got back up on that horse and continued fighting.

And thus, Agreeable Disagreers was born. Let me explain.

igwt going up

Letters going up – April 19, 2016

A few days before the peaceful photography protest mentioned above, a conversation was started on my Facebook account over the $2500 in taxpayer funds used to place “In God We Trust” in big golden letters on our local courthouse. When I posted a picture of the letters going up and expressed my controversial disagreement with such, a multitude of viewpoints started rolling in. One of which came from Teresa Kimberlin Martin, a faith-filled Christian who grew up in Ashe County with my husband. Teresa’s comment was, “Private contributions paid for this. No public funds were used. Why is it an issue?.”

And there was the crux of the problem.

Private contributions did not, in fact, pay for these letters. Without a vote or say from the county’s citizens (many of whom are not of the Christian faith, as shocking as that may be), the five county commissioners decided to allow taxpayer funds to cover this expense. (Read this story in more full detail here.) Once the Facebook conversation led to this fact, after snippy comments back and forth, suddenly Teresa had a thought:

Ok. So I have an idea. Melissa, you and I differ on most things political. Well, all things political and religious. Since…the county has decided to pay for the letters, why don’t we have a fundraiser and split the funds to homeless shelters, food banks and any other program that needs funding?…We may not share the same views on all things, but we DO share the same views on helping others. Your thoughts?? And I am serious about this. Why not use our differences to solve some really serious issues??”

And with that, an idea was born.

What could have continued like any other Facebook argument between people who don’t see eye-to-eye, suddenly, with one change of attitude and heart, blossomed into a compromise. And not only a compromise, but a mission.

No, I do not think “In God We Trust” needs to be on a courthouse building that serves a Christian and non-Christian public. Yes, Teresa, thinks those letters do belong on that building. We disagree, that much is obvious. But what we both do agree on is this: in a poor county like ours, a county that has captured both of our hearts for different reasons (hers because it was where she came from, mine because it’s where I finally found a place to call home), $2500 could have very well been spent in a more logical manner.

After a few conversations back and forth between the two of us, we decided to put this idea in motion. I suggested the name Agreeable Disagreers. Teresa contacted the local bank to get our account set up. I went by and signed for it, ordered checks, etc.

And a fundraiser was born.

AD logoAt first, I was skeptical. I knew that others would see this as an “anti-religion” fundraiser.  In fact, I’ve heard those very words. But that’s not what we are at all. Actually, we’re quite the opposite. We’re pro-religion: all of them, including the lack thereof. Our foundation is based on inclusiveness. Our co-founder is a faith-filled Christian in every sense of the word. We are anything but anti-religion. Our goal is to help others, without any prerequisite of a particular political or religious affiliation. In other words, we don’t care. We welcome all, and we want to help all.

Because of our controversial start, and this misconception associated with our mission, I wondered if we’d receive any donations at all. Our goal was originally just to raise the $2500 in funds and distribute them back into our community. We didn’t know how long that would take (still don’t) and hadn’t give much thought to what would come after that.

My, how much can change in just a few weeks.

AD shirtsAs of today, May 6, 2016, Agreeable Disagreers has taken in $1,520.  We are only $980 short of our original goal. One member, Kizil McCay, volunteered her services to create our fabulous logo. Another member, Loni Miller, offered her screen-printing services and set us up a website, offering t-shirts and bumper stickers supporting the cause (all profits going directly into the fundraiser – click on the photo to the left be taken directly to her site). One member donated a whopping $300, and another offered a donation match of $500, which was met within three days! People are hearing us. They know what we stand for, and they believe in us.

Six donations have been distributed from the fund so far. Two to local charities (the homeless coalition and the food bank), one to a local fundraiser celebrating diversity among our county’s middleschoolers (click here to read about that and support them if you can!), and three to local individuals suggested to us who had fallen on temporary hard times and needed a helping hand.

We have started something beautiful, and we are not ready to quit anytime soon.

We have developed a board of four members who meet periodically to discuss distributions and future plans. Some of these future plans include volunteer work. (AD member Cassondra Greer has submitted an application for an Adopt-a-Highway in our name and the local food bank has provided us with a list of times and locations for opportunities for group volunteer efforts). We are all agreed that this fundraiser will not stop once that $2500 has been met. We are going to keep going.  We are going to keep funds and helping hands available to spread into our community when needs arise.

If you’d like to learn more about Agreeable Disagreers, visit our Facebook page by clicking here. Donation information is found there if you’d like to donate, and volunteer opportunities will be posted as they become available. Also, most importantly, if you know someone in our local area who needs our help, whether it be monetarily or through volunteer services, please let us know!  Just post in the group that you’d like to be contacted by a member and we’ll gladly get in touch with you asap.

I am proud of what we’re doing here. I’m proud of the helping hands that have stepped up, and the hearts that see beyond the differences that could divide us. It’s such a tough time in our country right now. Differences are glaring more than ever. We are all screaming to be heard. I’m not preaching here, I’m guilty of it too. It’s the climate that this country is in right now, and it’s sad. It’s truly sad.

But maybe there’s a little hope.  Right here, in little bitty Ashe County, North Carolina – there are a group of disagreers who are putting their differences to work.

It’s amazing what happens when we take the time to actually hear one another.

peace

***

“There are those in need who really don’t care which side of the aisle you sit on,
they would just like a seat at the table.”
– Agreeable Disagreers co-founder, Teresa Kimberlin Martin

 

 

Journey to Mayberry

“As an athlete, when you least expect it, you may find yourself standing on the threshold of an accomplishment so monumental that it strikes fear into your soul. You must stand ready, at any moment, to face the unknown. You must be ready to walk boldly thru the wall of uncertainty.”
– John Bingham

It’s time to talk about running again.

So, as you may remember, I’m currently in the middle of training for my second half marathon on November 9.  And, training with me, is my training partner from afar, Zoe in Australia.  (Read that Cool Story here.)  As a quick recap, Zoe and I met online through this very blog and have decided to train together for her first and my second half marathon.  Mine is an “official” race (the Mayberry Half Marathon – a small race in Mount Airy, North Carolina), and she will be running on her own there in Australia.

Well, let’s do a quick update, shall we?

We are officially 17 days pre-race.  Yikes.  SEVENTEEN DAYS.  That seems so soon….

I have spoken with the race director and he has pulled some strings and worked it out to get me a bib to send to Zoe so that she will have an official number to wear as she races (and she better wear it too – you hear that, woman??) 🙂  Here’s a picture of it before it is shipped off to Australia to its rightful owner:

bib

Goodbye, little bib.  Enjoy your journey halfway across the world.

Once I have completed my half marathon (which I will do – and hopefully with a time of less than 2:30), I will be awarded two medals.  One for myself, and one for Zoe.  I’ll ship her medal, together with her t-shirt, of course (hey, we all know we only do this junk for the t-shirts…) to her in Australia as well.  Eeek!  Sounds exciting, right?

Well, it is.  But it’s also scary.

This little “project” of mine has put a lot of pressure on both of us to succeed.  And let me tell you – this process has not been an easy one.  She and I both have been through quite a bit getting to this point.  At the beginning, we had our training plan all laid out…4 runs a week with gradual increases in pace and distance…we were ready to ROCK this thing.  Stick to the plan…no variances.  Go team!

Yeah, well.  That hasn’t happened.

We’re both thirtysomething-year-old moms.  While it’s easier on me having teenage children; her, not so much.  She has small children that she has to arrange to have cared for so that she can squeeze in her training runs.  And on top of all of that, she has battled the head cold from hell…TWICE.  I, too, had said head cold once myself.  (Hmmm…wonder if you can catch a head cold from 9,000+ miles away?  Ahhhem…excuse me…15,000+ kilometers away.  Google’s “miles to kilometers” function is my new best friend these days…)  And, on top of that, I got an acting gig that I hadn’t been expecting to get during training (read that blog here if you missed it), which took a little chunk out of my training…  Oh heck.  I could list a million things here, but I’ll give it a rest.  The point is this…

Life has happened.

It just has.  And it’s always going to.  There have been times that even if we were able to squeeze in our runs, we weren’t able to go as fast or as far as we had planned.  Mental ability is just as important as physical ability…and some days it just hasn’t been there.  For either of us.

But you know what?  We’re still here.

We both still have our training plans in front of us every day.  We both still check in with each other, and build each other up when we’re feeling down.  We give gentle pushes when needed, and give the little e-hugs when a push just isn’t going to cut it.  We have understood each other’s frustrations and virtually held each other’s hands, not only through the not-so-great runs, but also through the reasons that have accompanied the not-so-great runs.  In other words, we have become friends.

And that’s pretty awesome.

So…seventeen days from now, I certainly hope to report back here and tell you that my friend and I have finished the Mayberry Half Marathon.  Together.  And, if the sickness prevails with Zoe and she’s not able to complete it on November 9 as planned, then I’ll come back here and tell you on November 10.  Or November 11.  Or however long it takes for it to happen.  Because it will happen.  (And I’ll be holding her medal and t-shirt hostage until it does!  Yep.  Holding the coveted T-SHIRT hostage.  That’s runners’ blasphemy right there, but you do what you have to do…)

The point is this.  She’ll be ready.  Sometime in the near future, my friend Zoe will have completed her very first half marathon.  And she won’t have a giant group of people to run with and to cheer her on.  She’ll be doing it entirely on her own.  Her own course, her own pace, her own journey.  And that, blog-readers, is some serious bad-assery if I’ve ever seen it.

So, thus ends my “Cool Story” recap.  Tune back in here in a few weeks for another update.  And until then, whether you are a runner who is training for your next race distance goal, or just a human being training to get through whatever struggle you’re currently facing, remember these words:

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Keep moving forward, friends.  We’re all in this race together.

***

“It’s important to know that at the end of the day it’s not the medals you remember. What you remember is the process — what you learn about yourself by challenging yourself, the experiences you share with other people, the honesty the training demands — those are things nobody can take away from you whether you finish twelfth or you’re an Olympic Champion.”
-Silken Laumann, Canadian Olympian

No Place Like Home

 

oz

I’m baaaack!

Ok, so actually I’ve been back for four days already. And each and every one of those days, I have started to sit down and write about my weekend in Oz, only to find myself at a loss. There’s so much I want to say, yet no words have managed to break the surface that would be adequate enough to accurately do this experience justice.

If you’re just joining me, I wrote last week about an awesome gig that I stumbled upon – I was asked to play both the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, at the Autumn at Oz festival in Beech Mountain, North Carolina. (Read that blog here if you missed it!)

While I enjoyed every minute of my one day as the wicked witch…

AngelaDBowles   (Photo credit: Angela D. Bowles)

… nothing compared to the thrill I got from playing the role of Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, for the rest of the festival.

JeremyMaxHalsey (Photo credit: Jeremy Halsey)

I had no idea how much I would fall in love with that role.  And this was not your run-of-the-mill stage acting.  This was interaction.  Talking to the kids.  Getting down on their level.  Stepping into their imaginations and letting yourself get transported back to that time when you yourself believed in that land “behind the moon, beyond the rain…”

kidcollage(Photo credits – Left: Jeremy Halsey, Top Right: Vanessa Schilling, Bottom Right: Megan Wrappe)

I have never felt myself come alive more than I did when I waddled down that yellow brick road in that massive pile of tulle.  I’ve asked myself what it was about it that got to me so much.  Was it being a ‘princess for a day’?  Was it getting to feel pretty?  Was it regaining that feeling of innocence for a short while?  Was it just the overall feeling of being transported into a world where anything is possible, fairy tales really exist, and good always trumps evil in the end?

Yep.  Probably all of that.

But mostly – it was the kids.  Oh my gosh, those kids!

I saw some of the cutest sights I’ve ever seen in my life this past weekend.  So many adorable little kids came dressed as their favorite Oz characters.  We saw everything from little tinmen, scarecrows and cowardly lions to wicked witch wannabes and little Dorothys to…my favorite…little mini-Glindas.  (And not to mention quite a few adults dressed as their favorite Oz characters as well – there is definitely no age limit to the love of all things Oz.)  I so wish Glinda could have whipped out her camera and snapped pictures of all of this, but something tells me it wouldn’t have seemed very natural to have a cell phone stashed in her pretty pink bubble.  (I was already called out once for my non-authenticity when a sweet, precious little girl came up to me and asked, “Glinda, is your wand real?  Does it really do magic?”  To which I responded, “Of course!” Same sweet, precious child then threw that little hand on that little hip and with a voice about 10 decibels lower than before, stated, “Show me.”  Yikes.  What’s a good witch to do, ya know??)  So, yeah, Glinda with a cell phone?  That was a no go.

Thanks to Facebook, though, and one of my co-Glindas (there were more than one of us working the weekend shifts), I was able to snag a cute one of the Lollipop Gang kids that showed up…

TerrilynnBellCollins (Photo credit: Terrilynn Bell Collins)

Is that not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? We should have hired them on the spot!

Unfortunately, these little cuties showed up on the one day (Saturday) that I was dressed as the wicked witch, and therefore, I didn’t get to have much interaction with them. Although I think I did a pretty good job of being ‘evil,’ it definitely didn’t last for very long periods of time. As soon as one of the kids expressed any fear whatsoever, I immediately broke character and explained that “it was all pretend and I wasn’t going to hurt them…” (To which one adorable little boy responded, bottom lip poofed out and all, “Y-y-y-you’re not gonna hurt me? Pwomise?”) *sigh*

So, contrary to what the men in my past will tell you, being an evil witch did not, in fact, come natural to me.  Who knew!?

Heck, even Toto wasn’t scared of me….

WendiWagers (Photo credit: Wendi Wagers)

The weekend ended with three performances for school groups on Monday morning.  With these groups, rather than just walking through the park in character, one full cast performed a shortened version of the movie for the guests.  A wonderful review of our performance can be found by clicking on this link.  Katie Hodges did an excellent job of describing the process and was very complimentary to our acting abilities as well.  You’ll see some great photos of the show as well in her review.  I know each and every one of us were thrilled to read this and very humbled at her kind words.

All in all, I’ll have to say this was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.  Like Dorothy, I made some wonderful friends along my trip down the yellow brick road, and it is a time in my life that I won’t soon forget.  Hopefully, we’ll all keep in touch and maybe even be able to do this again next year.  If you missed it this year, and want to come see what all the fuss was about, keep your eye on the website for Autumn in Oz.  Tickets sold out fast this year, so bookmark this site and start checking back in August 2014 to get your tickets for next time!

It’ll put a smile on your face, just like it did mine…

BeckyMillerZaragoza (Photo credit: Becky Miller Zaragoza)

So blessed to have been a member of such a fantastic cast.

cast

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dual (Above photos by Megan Wrappe)

JeremyMaxHalsey1

oz1

JeremyMaxHalsey2 (Above photos by Jeremy Halsey)

MeganWrappe

MeganWrappe3 (Above photos by Becky Miller Zaragoza)

castfour (Photo by yours truly)

Whew.  Tired of pictures yet?  If you’ll notice, that Glinda sure is a diva.  She was even taking selfies in the bathroom…

me (Photo by:  Oh heck, you know….)

Shameful.

Well.  Now it’s time to go.

While it definitely was fun pretending for a while, and even helped me discover a side to me that I may not have even known had ever existed (especially that selfie diva side…sheeesh), it still always comes back to the same ol’ lesson that Dorothy learned.

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.” – Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz

No matter how much fun it is to temporarily escape once in a while, and even though you may meet some wonderful friends along the way, you always end up finding your way back to where you belong.  With memories tucked away, pictures to remember it all by, and … finally … a blog written about my experience, I am back home.  Back where I belong.

There truly is no place like home.

***

“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes