Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Single Mom’s Christmas Poem

She prepared the surprises her girls would soon see.
The stockings were stuffed and gifts were under her tree.
She tried very hard to make the holiday bright,
Preparing memories to be made on this Christmas Eve night.

She decided to make a fun, new fresh memory for this holiday.
She always attempts to make things memorable in any small way.
The three of them got matching pajamas, just like an all girl team.
It gave them a girlish sense of fun, as small as it may seem.

They said their bedtime prayers and she kissed their sweet heads.
Then she smiled with joy as she tucked them in their beds.
Its time to do the final touches for the moment when they wake.
In just a few hours, she will watch the memories they will make.

She is thankful for her babies and that they will soon discover their gifts.
She hopes they will never long for what they all have missed.
She knows in many homes, the mom and dad are doing this together.
She thought when her family was starting that it would be forever.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Short Story #1

         “Hey Becca, do you have plans for lunch? I am free and thought I would come meet you.”
          “I sure don’t babe! I would love to see you. What time does it look like you will be coming this way?”
“Maybe 12:30-ish?”
“Sounds great! There is an amazing sushi restaurant 5 minutes from me … you feeling like sushi? The weather is so nice, we can eat outside!”

I finished tying up my loose ends and drove to Nashville to meet my sister, Becca. She is the oldest of four and is the leader of the pack; I am 2nd to the youngest.
     As far as I go, she is my biggest fan, but shoots it straight when I need to be told the hard-core truth. (Primarily in reference of my need to get organized and “put everything in its place.” She is tidy and neat and I have piles everywhere. On occasion my messes will get the best of her and she comes over to help attack one room at a time … always amazed by what she finds in my hidden stashes.)
What in the **** is THIS doing in here Emm?! Geez … this is like a **** treasure hunt.
I smile and innocently say, “I like hidden surprises. I forget I have something, find it and feel like I went shopping!!
Then, another spicy word flies and she goes about teaching me how to categorize and file … rather, attempting to teach me. I just can’t seem to totally get it. Poor girl, she has been repeating these steps for many years and hasn’t given up yet.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Call I Feared

          Wednesday morning: I woke to my phone alarm, Mercy Me singing, “I Can Only Imagine.” The rain was hitting my bedroom window, just as it had done the day before. Uggghhh. Pouring rain and a 16 year old driver don’t mix well, especially when both of my children will be in the same car for the 15 minute drive to school in rush hour traffic … on an interstate. I stumbled to the bathroom and heard the radio DJ mention the numerous areas of standing water. Nice hydroplaning conditions.
My children’s father had driven them to school the day before because of the rain. I felt like the announcer was speaking TO me, so I decided to drive them on this day also. Needless to say, that went over like a led balloon to my driving, independent daughter. The idea escalated to an even more negative place in her mind as I made the next declaration …

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hearing God Speak

“Mom, how do you know when God is talking to you? Can you hear Him? Because if it is a voice I am listening for, I have never heard Him. I don’t understand how I’m supposed to know what He’s saying when He doesn’t talk in words with a voice.”
For several months I suffered from prayer block. It was terrible. No matter how hard I tried to focus, I simply could NOT get that feeling of a discussion with God. I was talking to myself.
It happened after an extended period of time in intense prayer for the healing of a 9 year old boy, my hero. (I will call him Ean.) I believed God could and would heal him. When his healing happened on May 16, 2010, it broke me. I went through a phase of, “Why bother praying?!” I even ceased praying with my daughters because I felt like a fraudulent pray-er. All I was doing was talking and saying what we are “supposed to say” when we pray. I didn’t think it, feel it or mean it. My prayers were only words.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Abortion: Part I … A Child Asks Questions

(Read BEFORE Part II and III)
I would have appreciated a handbook or study guide for parenting. Seems like that could have been included with the take home care package the hospital generously gave me at the births of my children.

My 16 year old has my depth, but in addition, she is off the charts intellectually. Her sights are set on law school and I have no doubt she will be a success. I’m not sure about the legal terminology, but all I can say is I already feel for the people on the other side of the courtroom …
There has been a topic brewing in her head for a couple of weeks. She has brought it up several times, and seems to get more passionate each time. Though I am the parent, I have no answer to her perplexing question. She debates it out loud as she attempts to discover what SHE really feels about several issues this topic brings to the table.
Due to the depth and sensitivity of this topic, I have done a lot of thinking and no writing for a week and a half. My oversensitive heart does not want to probe in an uncomfortable area. However, my daughter asking these questions has prompted many things within me and it is worth my uncomfortable feelings to write them. This is real life …

Abortion Part II ... Speaking With Someone Who Chose Abortion

(Read AFTER Part I)
Below is a question/answer session with a woman who chose abortion, my sweet friend. She has given a voice in a way I could not. There is a poem she found online that she related to, and personalized it for her situation. I am not sure if it will have the same effect on someone who does not personally know and love one in her shoes as I do, but for me, I wept.
   This is connected with 2 other posts; I separated it because it is not written by me. Here are the words from a woman who has been through abortion ...

Abortion PART III … A Poem About Abortion

(This email alert should come as the 1st of a 3 part blog. Read it last. I posted them backwards. They will read from top to bottom in order on the site.)
I wrote this in honor of my friend before I had even spoken with her about my daughter’s thoughts, or read the other poem. My heart was warmed to see the similarities in the two. I understand a soul sister a bit better now. Hopefully another person can too …

Monday, September 26, 2011

She Smiles

She Smiles

A dark room could be illuminated, when she simply smiles.
She can keep a radiating glow through all life’s tribulations and trials.
Her happiness and joy are pure and genuine, clearly coming from within.
There is seldom a moment in time when her face is not adorned with a grin.

Her laughter seems more contagious than a common cold.
She can captivate an audience, no matter how young or old.
Many wonder how anyone can be so happy and content.
Her delight in people and life are surely heaven sent.

Where did this energy come from? Why does she have a smile on her face?
Is she in a fairy tale world, or permanently stuck in her happy place?
What is it about her that makes her stand out in the crowd?
What has she done, what does she have, that makes her feel so proud?

One day I decided to sit back and watch her. I became a private eye.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tears of Pain, Tears of Joy

From a child’s perspective,
Tears only fall only when things are bad.
They come from physical pain,
Or when our hearts are sad.

A young girl once learned a difference …
She was introduced to “tears of joy.”
The first time she saw them was when her mom
First held their new little boy.

“Mommy, we are happy!
Why are your eyes crying those tears?”
The mommy explained to her baby,
“My love … you will understand in a few years.”

This little girl was confused at first,
But only for a minute or two.
Her Barbie needed an outfit change
And she had pretend schoolwork to do!

She continued knowing tears only came in sadness,
And with happiness came a smile.
Then, that changed one day many years later …

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Birmingham Hair Show

       A glimpse into a stylist’s 2 days at a hair show/convention:
          If a person does not have an affiliation with the industry, he/she would not be allowed through the doors of our unique world to see the sights. Therefore, I will give you a peep ...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Remembering Nanny...451

         13 years ago today my Nanny went to heaven. However, it was 13 years and 14 days when she left in the way I had always known her. (This is not a glum, dismal writing that makes climbing under a rock look fun. Promise.)
           I remember …
          I was 4 or 5 months pregnant with my 2nd child. I spoke with Nanny about 3:30 pm and she sounded a little strange, but she assured me she was fine. We made plans to visit in the upcoming days because I had some vacation time. I went about my day ... until the phone rang that night.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Behind the Hairstyling Chair…Shallow People, BEWARE

When you come across this entry, maybe save it to read it when you have time to think. It’s pretty deep and long. Like a mini-novel blog. 
      I compare “depth to shallow” in a pool-style, body-of-water way. People are like pools.
·        Kiddie pools- great for simple, shallow wading.
·        Standard pools- the choice for casual swimming.
·        Olympic pools- for diving deep.
·        Then, there is the OCEAN- Endlessly deep and complex, with no end in sight.
It would be helpful and nice if some people wore signs, “NO DIVING ALLOWED.”
  Deep people would appreciate that warning and it would spare a lot of wasted time and energy. Diving into a kiddie pool only hurts the one trying to go deep, but doesn’t affect the shallow pool. In contrast, kiddies don’t belong in the deep end, and certainly NOT in the ocean. So, if you don't like deep. You surely will NOT enjoy ...
sub aqua areaDeep Water Signs
(On a shallow/deep note, I happen to have a favorite number. It's 11. After posting, I noticed the time posted was 11:11. J Those things feel like winks from God, kisses from angels and a smile from a face I have never seen. ^^^)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dancing In The Rain … The Attack of the Intestines

It’s funny how bad times bring about a sense of gratitude. I am always more thankful for the basics after enduring a darker side. {**If you cannot stomach bodily function discussions, stop reading here. Skip to the bottom for “Dancing in the Rain” poem**}
          My body woke me yesterday morning just before 4am with a feeling of sickness. For the record, I have a horrible fear of 3 things:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Take a Vacation or Not? SERIOUSLY?!

My friend who resembles Barbie says: “I’m so excited! I won a trip to go on a 3 day cruise and I can take 1 guest. I think I am going to take______.” (A man she has dated on and off; a relationship I would describe as tumultuous.)
Me: “Oh dear heavens! Have you lost your mind? Why would you take that chance? (Possibly, I am a bit too direct and honest at times …) A vacation is not a time to take such a risk. No one should be allowed near vacations if you KNOW they rain on parades … ESPECIALLY when your parade is FREE! My 2 cents is

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Staying Pure…No Nasty Drops Allowed

Thank God I do not have hesitation discussing some of the more uncomfortable parts of life with my children, (or anyone else for that matter.) If I know it is a standard curve that life will surely throw at my girls, I bring it up no matter how much they squirm. I understand the tactic of avoiding the talks that turn cheeks red and cause perspiration, but the consequences of NOT having those talks typically end in more devastation than blushing and sweat. So, I have them in hopes to avoid the step past uncomfortable embarrassment.
My sister calls those elephants in the room topics, “Turds on the table.” Nobody wants to touch them, but there’s only ONE way to get them off when they are on the table …

This morning, I was in a discussion with a friend

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Thank You Poem

Sometimes I wonder why I have this blog. Does anyone even get anything I am writing about? Do they wonder why I bother?

The answer is surely, “Yes” to some … but I will blog more often in response to one of my dear friends I saw last night. She said,

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Christian By Convenience?

            I’m not casting any stones, just taking a closer look in the mirror. It doesn’t look so impressive this morning.  
The brutal truth is that I have slipped into convenient Christianity. I am a strong Christian when everything is going good and MY way. If my hopes and prayers are answered, then I am good with my Creator and my faith. BUT, if my heart longs for something and things don’t go as I planned, I sit in the corner with my tail between my legs, quietly.
I think, “Why bother praying? What will be, will be anyway. It’s not like what I say will matter.”
I cannot focus on the good and what I DO have. I chose to want more and to expect no bumps in the road.
          Last night I could hardly go to sleep as I was haunted by fear. My mind raced with horrible scenarios. They were so horrid that I do not want to make them in tangible letter form by writing them. The devil was working overtime in my mind. As soon as a bad thought was planted in my brain, it was as though the fire was stoked just for the fun of it, and bad went to worse. Finally, about 1 am, I drifted off to sleep. The alarm sounded less than 5 hours later at 5:45 am. We had to wake up early because it was the first day of school, and we were going to do a different routine …
The discussion happened last night shortly before bed. I had been avoiding the topic for a few days. When it would arise, I either changed the subject or simply didn’t answer.
Again, my youngest daughter asked, “Mom, can Kaysie drive us to school tomorrow? PLEASE!”
Kaysie assured me, “Mom, I’m comfortable to do it. I’ve done it several times now. You know we will call when we get there and we can leave a little early. It will save gas and you won’t have to get out. If you would rather drive, that’s fine with me. It’s the first day of school and you may want to be there for Karly. I know I’m not very nurturing to her.”
That would mean BOTH of my children being in the same car, alone, without me. I could just throw up.
In spite of my gut-wrenching worry, the decision was made last night. I agreed.

I cannot figure out what the heck is wrong with me and this driving issue. I have evolved into a completely insane control freak with no faith. Granted, the drive to school is not the typical drive. It is quite a haul and involves every single kind of road possible. Interstate, back roads, bypass, state highway … all of them in this one journey.

This morning, we all woke up a little earlier than usual so the girls could leave sooner. I fixed coffee, started some laundry and made biscuits. (Not from scratch, the canned kind.) I kept my composure as I kissed them good-bye, watched them get in the car and pull out of our drive. As quickly as I shut the door, I sat straight down on the steps and began to cry like I have not cried in a long time. My poor little Swayze puppy was panicked, it upset him so badly. The tears came and went for an hour and I am sure they will return at 3pm when they get back on the road to come home.
Though I am in my late 30’s, I still wanted and needed parental guidance. (If you read the previous blog, YES, I called my parents AGAIN. waaa., I know) I made a phone call, suppressing my tears so I did not unnecessarily scare them. There is nothing like answering the phone call of a loved one who is sobbing. I couldn’t be hysterical about what could happen, when everything was fine in reality. The problem was in my “what-if” thinking.
I heard the assuring words, “It’s all going to be fine. You are God fearing and He is going to watch over them. God will take care of them.”
I responded between sobs, “But what about my God fearing friends who have lost their children? He was watching them. When it is time, it won’t matter. Prayer will not change that. I am scared.”

We talked for awhile and when I hung up the phone, I was forced to take a closer look at myself and my relationship with God.

Lately, I have been so frustrated with my kids for seemingly only being happy when I am doing what they ask me to do. Their mood is governed by one thing; If they are getting their way or not. It makes it less tempting to do for them when their attitudes are so conditional. Neither of them can pull through the negative hard times with optimism, and they take the blessings with a grain of salt. They are only happy, and only happy with ME, when I do what they want me to do or make their wishes come true. It makes me angry and I feel incredibly unappreciated. That is easy for me to understand … Why I turn around and treat God the same way? That, I do not understand.
There are people living in poverty, who have nothing but their faith. They must watch their children go hungry and deal with their own hunger, yet they praise God at all times. It is remarkable how being stripped of the frills gives rewards.
Typically, it would have been like me to simply breathe a sigh of relief when I got the call saying, “We are here and fine,” then go about my day.
Today, I took the time to stop and say, “Thank You, God. I recognize what You have done.”
The evolution is beginning as I enter the phase of my babies flying from the nest. God must be offended as I reluctantly hand them over to Him, as if He cannot do as good of a job as me. I should take a lesson from His patience and mercy.

Praying unconditionally,

Sunday, August 7, 2011

And She Drives Away, In the Car, Alone, Without Me …

          If I weren’t me, I would question me. I would make fun of me. I would have all kinds of advice to give to me …
          My 16 year old daughter will be leaving for a busy teenage agenda, and I prepared the car for her today. She will drive herself to each destination from this afternoon until tomorrow afternoon. Even though she has driven by herself over the last week or two, and I had multiple people individually drive with her before that, my mind and heart are not doing so good.
Today, I put more gas in the car, positioned the GPS in a non-visual blocking spot, put extra money in her change purse, ran the car through the car wash and did a quick vacuum. Evidently, I was going through some strange sequence of insane motions in an attempt to feel like I was doing something to help the upcoming moment when she would drive away. As I sat in the front seat of our car finishing with the final Armor All/Windex touches, I noticed that I was no longer doing the wiping motions. I had stilled into a quiet stare wondering, How can I do this? WHY am I doing this? It’s too early. She’s too young. Why did no one warn me of this turmoil that would come 16 years after giving birth? I feel like I am doing the most insane thing by letting my child drive out there with all of the dangers … I think I am suffocating. Now, I think I’m going to yak … Wait; don’t I need to check the oil? What if the oil is low? I don't even know how to check oil.
          One would think I was sending my child into outer space as I was preparing the space shuttle and praying over it.
          I am going through a reenactment of a day that occurred 14 years ago. I walked with my little daughter, hand in hand up the steps leading to her big girl school. She was 2 years old and had repetitively asked to go to “school” like the other big kids. I signed her up in a twice a week Mother’s Day Out program, bought her a cute lunch box and packed her favorite foods. She was beaming with pride as she entered into the building wearing her new, stylish black and blue velour outfit. I was fine, until it was time to hand her off to a total stranger and walk away, leaving her there for 5 hours. It stung.
Looking back, that doesn’t seem like such a big deal; but it was then … just like this is now.
I can only imagine the upcoming phases of trying to keep my composure as we are packing my child’s things and taking her to college. Or, when some young man captures her heart and she begins a new life as an adult woman, wife … and then becomes a mom herself.
I will keep these writings for her. Even though she is so frustrated with me now; somehow, I know that she will feel a pain as her baby drives away for the first time without her. Maybe it will not be as dramatic and severe as her mom’s was, but I know it will affect her and I anticipate a call … just as I have called my dad.
“Daddy, I think I am losing my mind. I am having such a difficult time with this. What’s wrong with me?”
He lovingly responds, “Honey, we all did that. It’s just part of being a parent and loving a child. You have to let her go.”

My children are the most important part of my life, and the largest part of me as a person. Letting them go is so hard.

Simultaneously happy and sad,

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Who Said Life Lessons Had to be Glamorous?

Talking about death sure does make people squirm. Granted, it is not an uplifting subject and carries a lot of pain, along with other unpleasant feelings … but it IS part of life and it is inevitable.
Ignoring death, even when it is the elephant in the room, seems to be more of the norm for a lot of people. Many of my close acquaintances use this technique and will avoid any “dead/death” discussions at all costs. A little eye rolling here, a little scrunching of eyebrows there … Its during those discussions when some people quickly “realize” they need to go to the restroom or are running late for an important meeting.
Such negative responses have caused me to solely think instead of speak. I keep my funeral thoughts in a private closet to avoid being avoided. The truth is I have a deep interest in the field of funerals and such. (Bear with me for a minute.) I see the role as one of the more important ones in life. It is one that matters to a family in need, more than words or money.

On the side, I imagine being a funeral planner; like Jennifer Lopez in, “The Wedding Planner.”
     Sure, there are a couple differences. I will be the person hired for hip, top-notch funerals instead of weddings … and the obvious difference is that I don’t look quite as sizzling as JLo. Other than those things … it’s the same!
The funeral industry is often viewed as taboo in our culture; but when in need, you are thankful for someone who can handle it well. Granted, I am not a medical minded person, so I am not mentally equipped to do things like embalming; but I have a heart for those in need.
With all that being said, I am still uneasy with most aspects of deadness. I assume the only people who get comfortable with it are embalmers because they get up close and personal on a regular basis. Anyway, here’s my story:

Years ago, I had a friend who went through such a difficult time with the funeral customs when her sibling died. She said, “I am so freaked out with all of this. I have never been in a funeral home, seen a dead body or been to a funeral.”
Her focus was more on that than the loss of her loved one. It was completely overwhelming and inescapable.
Therefore, when I had children, I introduced death in the healthiest way I knew how; in small, delicate doses. I took them to visitation of an elderly person that I knew, but that they really didn’t know … Just to open their minds to the understanding of the concept of a person’s body in a box as people are standing around looking at it. To me, that’s a lot to ask of anyone; a kid, or an adult. Also, it opened the door of knowledge that death is a part of life. It made it more tangible, if you will. This way, they had a chance to ask questions in a safe, unemotional circumstance and try to get a better understanding about this part of life.
They have always asked good questions and I give them age appropriate, honest answers. It helped that we had the opportunity to go without being under direct emotional attack. That also gave me the opportunity to explain the importance of honoring a life … even the life of someone YOU do not directly know. For example, my daughter’s friend from school lost his dear grandfather, who my child had never met. She was sad because her little friend was so sad. I told her to find out where the funeral home was and I would take her to the visitation.
She questioned me in confusion, “What? WHY?!”
I explained that she could offer her support and friendship to show her friend that she respects the importance of his grandfather.
She said, “But mom, they didn’t send me an invitation. Isn’t that rude to just invite myself and show up?”
I explained, we went, and she experienced the meaning of her visit as her friend and his mother were thrilled to see her take the time for their family. It was not comfortable for her, but she saw the bigger picture and felt good about her action and decision.

Now, on to the discussion which has sparked many discussions over the last week or two …
Being a hair stylist possibly looks like an unimportant, vain occupation … nothing more than hairspray and gossip. After living in it for over 2 decades, I know better. I love the industry with all of my heart. I have increased my family by many (my dear clients) and my kids would swear we are related to many of my clients. There is nothing I would not do for them, and it is mutual.
I lost my first, long time client to cancer. I have seen her every 4 weeks at 9 am on Friday morning for over 10 years. She is pre-booked through January 2012. In fact, her name is on my book tomorrow morning. I simply do not have it in me to erase her appointment and book someone else in her spot. I suppose I will be sitting in my own empty chair at 9 o’clock in the morning, just thinking and remembering …
I would mentally stockpile questions for her because she was a counselor, so it was always a fun opportunity to quiz her about deep stuff like, “How can a Narcissist be a Christian? I know it’s possible, but don’t they go against one another?”
This client never shunned the challenge of going deep. In fact, she could even take it a step deeper. I liked that side of her. She also helped me with my landscaping one time and we have helped her with some things at her house. She was more than “just a client” to me.
Anyway, I knew that after her body was prepared, I would be the first person to see her; at least the 1st who knew her before death. I would style her hair one last time. My job was to complete the process of the final steps prior to her loved ones seeing her for the first time since her death; an attempt to make her look as close to what she always looked like.
The viewing is controversial in many minds. I am indifferent because it is all too intense for me. Embalming, cremation … I want to be evaporated. However, whatever we need for closure is what we do. Besides, I don’t think evaporation is currently an option.
As far as styling a person’s hair after their passing; I have done this a few times before, but it had been awhile … as in about 13 years. Though I cannot say I was excited and looked forward to it, I definitely wanted to do it for her. It was the final act I would ever be able to do directly involving her life and her time here.

As I was getting my things packed to style her hair, I made a decision and told my kids, “Girls, get dressed. I know this will not be fun for you, but I want you to go with me.”
They sat in a silent stare.
With confident assurance, I said, “You will be fine. I will be with you and this is actually a unique opportunity. You cannot “just go” into this environment unless you are working. It will give you something for later in life … though I am not sure what? … Anyway, I know you will always remember 'going with mom to the morgue.' So come on.”
(You know how I never miss a memory making opportunity ... and it wasn't technically a "morgue," but you get the picture.)
I made the adventure as light as possible. Considering its heaviness, that was a task, but I did it. We made the 45 minute drive, got something to eat on the way, stopped by an estate sale and talked about girl stuff. They had found a teeny, tiny baby mouse at the sale and begged me to bring it home and keep it because he walked so stumbled and cute. (I didn’t have the heart to tell them he had most likely gotten into poison and that something was terribly wrong with it.) They named it Patty. Silly girls.
So, we arrived at the funeral home and no one was there except one man. He led me to the preparation room and my girls followed behind like baby ducks. They were hesitant, but a little eager with curiosity.
He opened the door to the small room. I entered first and tried to absorb my unusual predicament. My girls had fixated eyes, but not scared, and they were not very chatty. The oldest sat down in a chair in the corner and my youngest sat in the floor at her feet, both respectfully quiet.
I let out a breath and said, “Ok. Let’s get started …”
The nice man asked if I needed anything, while he made casual small talk with the girls about school starting soon. He said he would leave me to work and to let him know if I did need anything. Then, he left and shut the door. (That felt a little trapping.)
My client and dear friend was fully dressed, but covered with a white sheet. The sight of her without life was difficult to see and my task was difficult to do, but she was deserving of the effort. It was my sacrificial gift.
I did have one little problem, this had happened to me before …
When the body is prepared, they wash the hair and just let it dry straight back. In addition to the fact that the client is horizontal on a metal table instead of vertical in a chair, and silent instead of talking, and I am trying to act like this is normal so my kids will have a character building experience … it causes a second guessing while trying to remember what side the hair parts. I hate it when that happens.
I began racking my brain, Think, think!! Imagine that she is in your chair, what direction do I cut it? For the love of Pete! It has only been a week since I have done her hair!!
I tried to focus and my girls slowly began to ask questions or verbalize observations.
The 16 year old said, “Mom, how many times have you done this? Does hair still grow after people die? This place is really nice for a funeral home.”
My 12 year old said, “Her shirt is really pretty. I like the sparkles, don’t you, Mom? She looks a little different than when we went to her house last week. Is she wearing shoes?”
I never stopped what I was doing while I answered their questions. They became a little more at ease, until I said I needed to run and see if he had a picture, just to make sure I was doing it to the correct side.
Soon, they were over the newness and had lost any fear. They continued a few more questions and starting hounding me again about getting the baby mouse. Then they did the standard kid activity that seems to be 2nd nature to most. It is amazing to me how teens and preteens can text under ANY circumstance. Even while their mom is working in a funeral home and they are in the room with a body.
I asked, “Are you telling your friends where you are and what we are doing?!
Very nonchalantly, they were like, “NO! We are just talking about regular stuff.”
Texting is a disconnect. Sometimes that’s bad, but sometimes it’s helpful.

In closing, I know my sanity and judgment have been questioned for taking my kids in the room with a deceased body. I get that. However, they are not traumatized. (They are not having nightmares or acting out in questionable ways since our outing.J) Its not as if I took them to a cemetery late on a rainy dark, Halloween night and left them there … Though, if I took everyone’s opinion to heart, one would think I had.
All in all, I could hear my client applauding me for taking something to the next level in an attempt to make a positive difference. She was always for that, especially when it was to give a child some life lesson survival tools.
That was the first time I have exposed my children to such, and I have no regrets. There is no need for them to go again unless they choose to do so … so no worries. (Hopefully, I won’t be going anytime soon either.)
I won’t be dragging my kids to funeral homes for spare, time-filling field trips. If nothing else, they have seen a different side of mom’s job than all of the beauty, smiles and laughter. They now know how much I really do love my clients. Trust me, it takes a lot to style a person's hair after death, especially if it is not a common thing for you.
And FYI: I did her hair from left to right ... and that was CORRECT!

Stylin til the end,
For my clients … my friends,

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Being a Quitter is AWESOME!

I threw in the towel … I turned in my resignation and have officially retired from a job I was never qualified to do from the get go.
Who knew being a quitter could be so grand … And so freeing!??!
It takes stubborn, type A personalities a good beating to come to a place of stopping the insanity.
The job: teaching a child to drive; more specifically, MY child.
After much thought and fatigue from the obvious, I devised a new plan; and it has worked like a charm. I gave up and accepted the inevitable. What a freeing mental permission slip to all who thought they had to personally do everything. Not true. J THANK YOU GOD!!
After retracting my claws from an incident about 2 weeks ago, I began thinking. It went like this:

I am attempting to teach my 16 year old daughter to be a good, safe driver. As we all know, female cycles get in sync when the females are in the same household. Evidently, this day was a “PMS Day” for both of us. Never a good thing when that happens AS the inexperienced, 16 yr old drives early in the morning and a squirrel runs out in the road AS we are topping a curved hill at the exact same time I take a huge gulp of coffee … helplessly sitting in the passenger seat.

I already had the “animal in the road talk,” and the talk about always slowing down when topping a hill while NEVER being in the oncoming lane during the hill topping. None of those talks stuck when the precious little squirrel scampered out in front of us. The curve in the hill was an added bonus and the mouth full of coffee preventing my scream was icing on the cake.
We did arrive safely, but she got out of the car crying and I felt like I was trapped under a pile of poop. I went home and dissected the situation.
After a few calls, I had lined up 1 person per day, at least one hour each day. DRIVING TEACHERS (with lots of patience and experience.)
Now, each day, a smiling face appears on our front porch and says, “Is she ready?”
 I smile excitedly and respond, “YES, she is!!” And then I keep smiling.
My daughter likes all of her driving instructors much better than me as her driving instructor … and I like her better too. All of our driving angels have given great words of encouragement and her confidence has come along as well. That gives me confidence.
She has driven on the interstates, back roads, night driving, rain, rain at night … Ahh, yes. They have done well. I do well sitting at home sipping a warm cup of tea and catching up on things I need to do. She and I have called it truths. She is mastering the skill of driving and I am learning when to try harder and when to quit.
It is so difficult to unveil those times when I need to talk versus the ones when I should keep quiet; when to act, react or “be still.”
I must say, I likey being still!
Kudos to all of the people who assured me that this is a common problem for parents and children. I was beginning to feel slightly (incredibly) inadequate. Sometimes, kids listen to other people more and better than their parents.
… I think I already knew that …

It’s quittin time! WHOOP WHOOP,

Monday, July 11, 2011

Praying for People Who Yell the F Word and Flip the Bird

          Funny how we must remember our own advice and how easily we forget it.
          On June 26, I did a blog called, “Acts of Love Toward All … Good and Bad.” What an inspiring writing, but I must have missed my own message.

          One would think that when she is doing a good deed and showing a selfless act of love and friendship, that the day and her surroundings would all fall into place in a lovely way. Life just doesn’t work that way, but my fairy-tale brain does.


          I have a dear friend who never asks for anything, but she did on Thursday. She has suddenly fallen ill; her cancer has returned with a vengeance. Without hesitation, I assured her I would be there that day.
Due to the progression of the cancer, she must have oxygen at all times because it is now in her lungs. Her breathing is labored, making her voice very weak. Sometimes it is a whisper. Also, she has been choking. Therefore, in addition to what she asked me to do, I took a baby monitor so her caretakers could hear her at all times and also took 2 soups so she would not have to swallow solid food on her difficult days. It is these situations when we want to help, but we do not have the means to do what would REALLY help … so we bring baby monitors and soup.

My 12 year old daughter was with me as we made the 30 minute journey to her house. We were driving along the road and I was on the phone trying to make sure I did not miss my turn. Though cell phones and driving don’t mix, sometimes I do talk and drive.
Possibly, I was going too slowly? I’m really not sure what I did that was so terrible. To my surprise, I heard a horn honk, saw a blue truck with an overly infuriated man and his equally enraged passenger in the lane beside me.
My little girl said, “Mom, what’s wrong with him? Why did he just yell the F word at you and stick up his middle finger? That’s bad.”
Both men did vulgar hand motions for me to see. 2 of the gestures were ones my daughter had never seen, until they showed her.

Now, I was enraged. In all honesty, I really wanted to ram my car into him like bumper cars. I had been bitten by the deadly road rage bug.
How dare they do such a terrible, tasteless thing to a female and especially in front of a young girl! Did they not have mothers, wives, daughters or even nieces?!? And besides that, it would be just as terrible for a little boy to have seen such. What do people like that do when someone REALLY does something intentional and bad to them?! I don’t even want to know …

My daughter was distraught, I was distraught. Then, I realized that I needed to refocus and get my mind back to what was important. In less than 2 minutes, I would be at my friend’s house. Did she want or need to hear about my insignificant, over-and-done-with troubles? No. She has greater issues to focus on that an uncouth man and his crude buddy making asses of themselves.
I shook it off and re-centered my attention to her and her needs. I did what she had requested and left shortly after because I knew she was very tired.

That night, my 12 year old and I were in the kitchen before going to bed. (We rotate saying prayers at night. She does one night and I do the next.)
She said, “Mom, I know tonight is your night to pray so I wanted to ask you to pray for those guys who said and did those mean things today. They are obviously going through something bad to be acting like that and they really need somebody to pray for them. Maybe they will be nicer then.”

That’s when I got humbled to a place I had not thought to go. I wanted to ram my car into theirs, not pray for them. I have written about doing the right thing over and over, but it never entered my mind in this situation. They were wrong, I was right, and that was that.

That night, I prayed for the impolite young men who are also God’s children. God must stay stressed with all of us being His kids and acting the way we do.
All along, I thought He was smiling upon me and my goodness because I was helping another person in need. My real feelings and reactions to the men in the truck didn’t get factored into the equation until my child innocently pointed out a proper way to handle it. I had most likely not made God smile and wink. He was shaking His head …
Not only does this remind me of my blog about anointing a cancerous tumor, but it sounds really similar to the scripture about trying to remove the speck from my neighbor’s eye when I cannot see the log in my own.
Thank God He put children here to guide us with their wisdom …

Praying for people who yell spicy words at me and shoot me birds,

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Drive-In Movie

                 First, hats off to my father and all of the other preceding people who have taught a child to drive. In my mind, when my child is behind the wheel and I am in the passenger seat, it is as though someone has a gun pointed at my head with their finger on the trigger. That’s how in danger my life feels. I try not to make her self conscious, but it is difficult when trees are coming at me, we are not in our lane, or people are walking and we are not slowing down. She has a constant look of anger and disgust on her face because I am annoying her and she “already knows what to do,” and I have a look of fear mixed with panic, anxiety and frustration. I truly want to retire from this job (the driving instructor one, not the parenting one,) but I must be brave … I may need medication before its all over.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Acts of Love Toward All...Good and Bad

“Loving” and “an act of love” are two different things, but they are rooted together. After reading a journal entry from a mother whose baby girl had cancer, I understood a deep message. It is about performing an act of love, even toward something we loathe. We may not be actually giving affectionate love to something terrible, but we ARE giving everything over to God by and through our actions.

          The mother is a talented writer. She can touch a soul in very deep places. She watched her beautiful daughter suffer and die one year ago after a two year battle.
A message which keeps coming back to my mind is unusual. A segment of one of her sentences hit home so hard and it keeps replaying to me …

Her little girl had an aggressive form of cancer. One of the most traumatic parts of this type of cancer is that it causes huge tumors to form on the body. I have read other stories of children with this cancer, and all describe the horrible tumors protruding from their children’s little bodies. The tumors can, and usually will, rupture … and they are very painful.

This mother often spoke of Holy oil. She would anoint her daughter’s head with it throughout their terrible journey. It was an act of love that I assume gave the little girl a very special feeling. It gave her a different kind of strength beyond her own. When the mother could do no more, she blessed her child by a symbolic act.

During one entry, she spoke of anointing her daughter, but then she mentioned anointing the tumor. That is the part that is highlighted to me.

The tumor was destroying their lives. The tumor represented evil; yet, the mother blessed it with Holy oil.

I must sit back and think about many things after reading that. Do I lift ALL things to God? It is easy to bless a newborn baby, a new Bible, bread and wine during communion, a person who sneezes, or rings during a wedding ceremony … but we do not often think of blessing a tumor.
I will not begin anointing things I hate, but I look at them in a different light. Sometimes our ACTS of love show as much, if not more, love than a direct hug or kiss. I see what the mother did in a beautiful way.
Though the tumor was stealing her child, she maintained the upper hand it did not allow it to control her. She showed that she acknowledged it, but that God was involved with every part of the battle. The mom did what she was told to do by the medical world with chemo and radiation. She allowed the doctors to attack the tumor with their methods … but out of obedience, SHE attacked the tumor directly with God by an act of love. Though the tumor did not disappear by any of the methods, I think the mother’s technique was a beautiful and perfect act of love, anointed with purity and power.  

As the little girl was struggling through her final hours, the mother said that her daughter asked for the Holy oil. The mom thought her child wanted to be anointed, but she was wrong. The little girl anointed her mother’s head.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Sweet 16 has always had a pink, lacey, precious ring in my ears. It is the turning point beyond all others, especially for a girl. It is only 2nd to her wedding day …

Turning Sweet 16
differs GREATLY from being
The Parent of a Child Turning Sweet 16.

          I missed that memo.
I think that the time drawing near for a child to fly from the nest and become an independent adult is incredibly similar to the one when she was making her flight out of the last nest … my STOMACH.
At the end of the pregnancy, it became crowded and uncomfortable for both of us. I knew I would miss the closeness and joy of feeling her move, kick, hiccup and simply BE with me at all times. Moving into the next phase of screaming, sleepless nights and worry was going to be difficult, but staying pregnant with the child for the rest of my life was not the option of choice. It appeared to me that an unpleasant possibility existed as my tiny tummy had stretched to its maximum point. No need for labor, I would surely soon rupture and spill my baby out … It was time.
I am not to that point yet with this pre-adult phase, but I have heard it is in my near future. Making the change from a fetus to a newborn and a teenager into an adult are really intense, difficult phases. They are 2 important cocoons that are tough on the child and the parent.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Making Memories on Purpose

All at once, I have had so many thoughts relating to the topic of how I am living my life. I have not finished the book (One Month to Live), but I HAVE made many efforts and changed things about my life. Living life purposefully matters.
That sounds like a no-brainer, but I have noticed that most people live their lives more nonchalantly than intentionally. Sure, people are doing important things, but sometimes not much thought goes into it. It is a simple “going through the motions” ritual.
The little things DO matter. Here’s the topic:
MAKING MEMORIES … The truth of the matter is that death is imminent, as depressing as that sounds. But, removing the dark cloud and getting to what is next is a great life insurance policy. Many of us have purchased a monetary life insurance policy and when we leave this earth, our loved ones will be financially set … or at least not have to pay for our funeral expenses. That is all fine and good and I do have mine in place; however, I have a more important concern. I want a life insurance policy that lasts longer than the evaporating mighty dollar. Money is not the mark I want to leave behind … The good news is that my policy is FREE!
I began thinking about the energy that radiates from me. Do I change the dynamics of my environment or leave it undisrupted? If I do cause a ripple in the water, is it pleasant and good or the opposite? I want to be like a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie. It is easy to recognize that something good is going on from the first whiff of its scent … and a smile always appears.

Ultimately, MY main focus is who is answering those questions. It would be added icing on the cake for my extended family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers to give me a good review regarding their thoughts. However, there is only an audience of 2 that REALLY matter to me; my daughters.
I am always thinking through what I am doing with them and realizing the mark I am leaving. I intentionally etch the legacy of their mom, and us as a family, every opportunity I get. Here are some things I can think of off the top of my head:
·        When they were little, if I had to go out of town, I left a small paper bag for each day. One for each of them. I wrote the day of the week on each one and inside I left little treats and a note for the day. I didn’t spend a lot of $ on the gift, but for some reason they always liked the gum, socks, little earrings, chap stick or whatever was in that bag better than when I just gave it to them in a regular situation. I wrote a short little note for each day. I always left a written mark of love and then said some mom thing like, “Don’t forget to brush your teeth.” Or “You look so pretty today!” It helped all of us get through the separation anxiety … to the point that they WANTED me to leave so they could look forward to their bags! J I love that memory and so do they… {Thanks to my friend for giving me the idea years ago. You gave me and my children a little life insurance policy.}
·        Fruit snacks in a Tupperware bowl … in the bathtub. I have not done this regularly, but it was a happy, memory-etching thing for my youngest daughter just like it was for me. When I was little, my Nanny would prepare my bath water and put slices of fruit in a plastic bowl. It would float around in my bath water with me and I could snack like a little princess in the bathtub. I have done that for my little girl. My daughter loves knowing that I am doing something special for her like my grandmother did for me. Nanny passed away when I was pregnant with my youngest daughter. Somehow, that involves my Nanny with her great-grandchild who I know she would adore. I feel certain she smiles.
·        “Wonderful Wednesday.” We started doing this last fall and need to pick it back up because it was a win/win situation for all. Each week, we invited someone over for dinner on Wednesday night. The planning process was always great discussion for us. We asked our guests what THEY would like, we went to the store and got it and then learned how to prepare it TOGETHER. I cannot begin to explain the doors this opened. For us, we learned to try new foods, we formally sat at the table to eat, we learned about being a servant and catering to others wants besides our own and we made others feel special. The responses were shocking when we invited people because that doesn’t happen too much anymore. Most said, “Oh, well I will bring something or we can just order pizza.” We explained what we were doing and why. We WANTED to do it all and wanted to learn to make their favorite dish. My girls even loved that we gave the day a name, “Wonderful Wednesday.”
·        Travel: I wanted to introduce that exciting world to my kids and I did. They have not been able to do the 5 star traveling, but they have traveled. I made/make it a priority. I had never been on a plane until I was almost 30 and I could not believe the change in my perception of the world. God made more than Tennessee and I want to see it! I took each one of my daughters on their 1st plane rides before they were 10 and they have been to 2 foreign countries. (Hint: make friends in other countries and experience free travel for you and them when they visit your country.) We also travel to the beach/ocean each year, even if I can only afford 2 nights. It is worth the drive. They love waking up and hearing mom say, “Hey girls, how about us going to the beach today?!” Last minute deals are everywhere and those trips typically go smoother than the planned ones. My kids have only lived with spontaneity. We plan, but the spontaneous spice always flavors our life.
·        Glitter: This one is my signature mark. My children will ALWAYS relate glitter to their mom. I have taught them well about the power of glitter and they have seen its effects. No one could convince them that glitter is NOT great. They know EVERYTHING is better when glitter is involved. I cannot imagine anyone being disgusted by the sparkle of a diamond, and glitter is in that family.
·        White teeth: This is simply important.
·        We all 3 take instant, mutual notice of anyone in a wheelchair, or with any disability as seen by the world. We love elderly people … especially little old men with ironed jeans. Both of my girls have a soft, precious spot for the people I have taught them are ESPECIALLY important. We know, “The 1st shall be last and the last shall be 1st. The weak shall be strong and the strong shall be weak. The rich shall be poor and the poor shall be rich.” They have an innate sense to give honor to those the world overlooks. Though I do not mean to boast, that is one of my most treasured accomplishments. They have always seen me humbled before someone less fortunate and they naturally do the same. Both of my girls will be the one to reach out to the outcasts of the world that are rejected by their peers. They know, “Different is better.”
·        I try to make accomplishments that may seem out of reach. I do it not only for myself, but to give my daughters confidence. No matter what anyone says, we feel security by our parents’ success ... and by watching them overcome failure and adversity. We feel that if we came from success, we have a smoother paved road. Granted, sometimes we must pave our own roads, but other times we don’t. For example, I am not athletic, but because I knew my father had participated in many races and triathlons, I had the confidence and courage to enter a 5k race and my sister ran a marathon. We at least had the thought, “If Daddy can do it, then maybe I can too.”  We didn’t win, but we ran …..  Because I have owned and operated a business for over a decade and written a book, those types of things will seem less out of reach for my girls and possibly they may go beyond. My mother was not a coddler, but she made it clear that I needed to depend on myself and work hard for what I have. My dad always said to get into a profession I love and grow in my talents. He explained that my happiness in my occupation would surpass any paycheck. We spend too much time working to not enjoy what we do. I pass all of that along to my kids. They have learned that taking trash out and cleaning toilets must be done by someone and we are not too good for that someone to be us.

Hopefully, their minds will hold on to some good things and they will learn to make the negative memories positive for their children!     
Paying closer attention to memory making,