I have wasted years and years and years worrying, plotting, and just randomly pushing my way through life. I think at some point, I thought that if I worried hard enough, then things would have to go right.
Oh how wrong I was!
I have wasted so much time hoping, wishing, praying things would be different. And though I am quick to change and improve my situation, the very idea that I wasted even an ounce of precious time on things that really meant nothing to me or did me zero good, is a little disappointing.
My ex-manager that was fired back in February was found dead in a hotel room in Atlanta last week at the age of 52.
That’s not very old.
I don’t know the details surrounding his death, but one thing kept coming up in my thoughts was, “He definitely didn’t see this coming.”
I know for a fact that he tried so very hard to “be somebody.” He wanted to be noticed and I think he spent so much time and heart ache trying to get that validation. It never came. It actually was a repellent for most people.
What a shame.
I don’t want that for my life. I want to live as authentically, as healthy, as full of life as I possibly can! What about you? Are you taking advantage of the time you have left?
I hope this year, if nothing else, has taught us to take a minute and reevaluate what is important to us.
Happy Monday and man oh man, does it feel like Autumn outside! What a fantastic time of year!
First up, I had one of the most relaxing weekends to date! Friday night, Tim and I watched Ant-Man & The Wasp and ate my favorite Keto Pizza Casserole. (If you want the recipe, just click at the top of the blog on the section titled recipes!) Saturday, I spent the day playing with Dorian, cleaning, reading, and I had my Photography Class with the Atlanta School of Photography!
That night, we made wings in the Air Fryer and then sat outside by a fire with Tim’s youngest. It was a gorgeous night, cool wind and clear skies!
The next morning, I got up and realized that the weather was brisk and chilly and immediately woke Tim and up and insisted we go outside and have our morning coffee by the fire. We had some wonderful conversations and just relaxed. Truly relaxed, with each other.
My dog ended up having the best day ever! He gnawed on sticks and chased his Kong squeaky tennis ball. We sat our there from about 9:30 am until after noon.
Then it was nap time for all of us!
Later that night we grilled some steaks and watched Captain Marvel. I can’t remember if I told you guys, but I am on this Marvel Marathon for Tim. He complains that I never watch anything he likes, so out-of-the-blue, I surprised him and said I wanted to see each of the movies, in order of release. His eyes perked up and I knew I made the right decision. Best news – I am actually enjoying it. And in basic Nicole fashion, I ask a ton of questions and Tim loves sharing all of his historical comic book knowledge with me. It’s cute, really, and I am entertained. Just two more to go…… Tonight is End Game and I hear it is a tear jerker. Should be interesting.
Speaking of tear jerkers… man. The Notorious RBG left us. Let’s hope in November we can turn things around.
Okay, I gave this a try. I did NOT like it. I ended up giving it to Tim. BUT… if you are a sweets person, this may be your jam. Tim picked the mint chocolate chip which was only 4g and much, much better than mine. I might try it again, pending my need.
I just had to show off Big Boy at 7 months old! Look at how tall he is. He was such a good boy this weekend. And sweet!
Less land sharkish.
And here is my good news: I am 21 pounds down! Yes, I did it. I met my goal and exceeded by 1 pound. Next up – 10 more by Christmas. Slow and steady wins the race.
I hope everyone has an awesome week! Let’s do this!
THANK GOD it is almost Fall. We are so, so close. Even the weather is starting to cool off down here in the South. Granted, we love the Spring and parts of Summer, but by the time the leaves change, we are a little over the natural sauna.
Alright… but first… here is why I am NOT writing a third part to my Panic Disorder piece.
That still shot above is killing me. lol
I usually come up with some type of a bucket list, but this year is going to be tricky. Socially distanced fun? What does that look like? Also, I can’t exactly make all of the sugary holiday snacks…. or can I?
I did a little recipe research on my favorite site – Pinterest. Here are a few that really caught my eye:
For part one, please visit the post right before this one. In that post, I touched a little on my personal history and experience with Panic Disorder. Today we will cover coping mechanisms.
I think the one piece of advice I can give anyone is to find ways to change your focus. When you are having a panic attack, you essentially are panicking and that is one hard monster to overcome. It is very important to be able to refocus and try to concentrate on something else.
Let me run through a few things I have tried and what I found:
Deep Breaths. Okay, I’ve tried the slow, deep breathing and it DOES NOT WORK FOR ME. Not when I am in the thick of it. It actually begins to feel like my heart is experiencing palpitations, which in turn causes me to panic even more. Deep breathing works once I am flowing out of the attack. If the initial shock is wearing off, I then begin the slow, deep breathing… and then I am able to recover faster.
Stress Balls – Alright, this one can sort of stop an attack if you feel anxious in a place. But you have to start early. While in an attack? Absolutely not. However, if anger and generalized anxiety is an issue for you, I think a stress ball can be very useful.
Peppermint oil. THIS one is a real show stopper for me. I dab a little peppermint oil under my nose, on my temples and on the back of my neck and it is like a miracle! What I think is happening here are two things: – I am able to feel the breath. One of the biggest obstacles is feeling like you can’t take a deep breath. With peppermint oil, the sensation goes deep into the lungs and it sends a message to the brain that yes, you are breathing. And secondly, it refocuses my mind to the cooling/almost slight burning sensation. I always keep something like this on me at all times. (On me, as in in my purse.) You can only imagine the issues I am having with the masks and my “feeling” like I can’t breathe. Quick fix – dab a little on the mask.
Yoga. 100% seems to center me for the day. It is a shame I don’t do it more often. The stretching of the muscles, the slowing of breath, it really can put my mind, body and spirit right where it needs to be.
Meditation. This is another one that centers me for the day and/or right before an attack comes on. If I can get to my safe place (a quiet place where there is no judgement.)
Magnesium. There is a special calming tea that really helps keep stress at bay.
Epsom salt (hot) baths. This one is always a winner! Especially during an attack or after. It sort of puts your body at ease.
Essential Oil – Aromatherapy. This sort of creates a sense of peace. I wouldn’t say the lavender actually relaxes me, but rather the ritual of diffusing helps. That goes for incense also.
Crystals. I’ve been studying the energy of crystals. I will go more into this at a later date, but trust that there is something interesting about this and has worked for me in the past.
Prayer. This is the biggest one. Prayer is the ultimate refocusing technique and works every. single. time.
Imipramine, sold under the brand name Tofranil, among others, is a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) mainly used in the treatment of depression. It is also effective in treating anxiety and panic disorder. I did take this in 1996 and I did NOT have one single panic attack. But the drug made me excessively sleepy and I gained 30 pounds in 4 months. NOT an option for me. But it did calm my brain down long enough to do the cognative behavior therapy work with a professional.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy. (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel. CBT for panic disorder is an effective treatment for sufferers with or without agoraphobia. It may be used in conjunction with medication or independently. CBT empowers the patient with techniques to manage stress and decrease anxiety and correct thinking patterns that potentiate panic. Works. It really does. But it is simply a coping tool.
Regular Therapy. This typically works very well, regardless. Just talking things out, learning time management and boundary setting skills – all very important for someone with panic disorder.
Xanax – Alprazolam is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It belongs to a class of medications called benzodiazepines which act on the brain and nerves (central nervous system) to produce a calming effect. It works by enhancing the effects of a certain natural chemical in the body (GABA). This drug works very, very well and quickly. I’ve taken it a handful of times. However, it is highly addictive, so my doctor will not prescribe this pill for long term use.
Massage – And massage can help get you back on your feet by increasing circulation, relaxing muscles, and improving joint movement and flexibility.
Lexapro – Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) It can treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). I tried this back in 2007, and I was only able to handle it for 3 weeks. I had racing thoughts and a racing heart, plus terrible headaches. This was not a good fit for me. I was prescribed this after suffering my second run with meningitis. As it turns out, stress will cause recurrent episodes. My doctor thought this would help. Nope.
Floating – Flotation-REST has been found to be effective in reducing anxiety. A 2018 study showed that a single one-hour session in a sensory deprivation tank was capable of a significant reduction in anxiety and improvement in mood in the 50 participants with stress- and anxiety-related disorders.
Buspirone is an anti-anxiety medicine that affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced in people with anxiety. Buspirone is used to treat symptoms of anxiety, such as fear, tension, irritability, dizziness, pounding heartbeat, and other physical symptoms. Last year, my doctor gave me this and not 10 minutes after taking it I started experiencing brain zaps. Brain zaps are electrical shock sensations in the brain. They can happen in a person who is decreasing or stopping their use of certain medications, particularly antidepressants. Brain zaps are not harmful and will not damage the brain. However, they can be bothersome, disorienting, and disruptive to sleep. I had extreme dizziness and would only sleep two hours a night. I lasted one month.
Hydroxyzine – It is used to treat itching caused by allergies. It is an antihistamine and works by blocking a certain natural substance (histamine) that your body makes during an allergic reaction. Hydroxyzine may also be used short-term to treat anxiety or to help you feel sleepy/relaxed before and after surgery. This was my doctor’s suggestion for having something similar to Xanax. I take it if I am starting to fill anxious or if I need to remain calm, I can take it before an event. I am still using it, only rarely. It takes about 30 minutes to kick in and once the anxiety has worn off, you want to sleep for hours. So I have to use it sparingly. I will tell you this, if I take it before bed, I get the best night’s sleep and stay calm the next day with zero panic attacks.
Cymbalta – Antidepressant and Nerve pain medication. It can treat depression, anxiety, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, fibromyalgia, and chronic muscle or bone pain. You guys – THIS ONE IS THE MIRACLE PILL. I was prescribed this one for the body pains and incredible tendonitis and anxiety. Duloxetine (generic name) is known as a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). It has been a miracle pill! My pain went from an 8 – 9 to a 2, 3 and sometimes 4. My anxiety went from a 9, 10 to a 2, 3. I love it. ZERO side effects, unless you count when I go to relax, I am able to deeply relax. Yep… not too shabby.
There you have it! Coping mechanisms and all of the things I have tried. I won’t share any unhealthy coping mechanisms, because I am sure there are some. Luckily, I have moved past anything that might be not great for the body. One thing I forgot to mention – regular exercise and no sugar seems to give a big calming effect on the body.
Some books I would recommend:
This is by no means medical advice. This is just my journey. ALWAYS discuss any issues you are having with a doctor or therapist.
For more resources and information, visit the following websites:
It started when I was a little girl, maybe eight or nine-years-old. I was walking down Westgate Mall in Macon, with my great-grandmother. I remember we were looking at china dolls, rows and rows of beautiful dolls for sale. I assume this was a doll show. At one point, as we were walking, my face began to feel numb. It started around my throat and traveled up my face. This startled me, which made my heart beat faster. Even though I was holding my Granny’s hand, I became very frightened. I looked around and suddenly the room seemed “off.” I got dizzy and short of breath and I asked my Granny could we sit down because I didn’t “feel good.”
I don’t remember much after that. Just the sights and sounds and out-of-body experience in Westgate mall. To the last day that mall was opened, I could never walk that path without my pulse racing and my breath shortening.
For the next month, this same scenario would suddenly play out in class. Ms. Childer’s 4th grade class at Union Elementary to be exact. The numbess, the dizziness, and the inability to catch my breath. I would ask to go to the bathroom. As soon as I left the classroom, I felt so much better. I would return and tell my teacher I didn’t feel good. She would tell me to sit down and be quiet.
Which made me feel helpless.
I told my mom & dad about what was happening, and my mother took me to my pediatrician. This was the early 80s. My doctor could find nothing wrong with me physically and suggested I see a psychiatrist. I don’t remember much after that, except that my mom said that I did not need to see a shrink and that I was just trying to get attention.
Which made me feel helpless.
This continued for years. The symptoms would shift and I got to the point that I would sit in the car when my family went out to eat. I would cower down in the movie theater, because an attack would happen there. I would even have them at church. I remember telling my mom, on numerous occasions, that I couldn’t catch my breath. I remember her pinching me and telling me to knock it off – as I sat there, trying to piece together why I was feeling like I was going to die. With a child’s mind.
Fast forward to high school, I ended up stumbling upon a book at B.Dalton (in the Macon Mall,) called Panic Attacks. I have no idea how I ended up on the self-help aisle, perhaps because it was near the astrology texts, but I picked up the book and read the back. It sounded super familiar. I think flipped through it and read the symptoms:
Hot & cold flashes
Fight or flight response
At some point all or some of those symptoms were present when I had one of my episodes. I’m not sure if I had money of my own or I talked my parents into buying the book for me, but I did end up with the book. And I read it cover to cover.
I was experiencing something called panic attacks, and man was it debilitating.
I won’t go into great detail of where or when these were happening, but let’s just say – If there were large crowds, or I had to sit with people behind me, or I was far from a door, or I was in a situation where you couldn’t just get up and go, I would have an attack.
Once I found the book, I didn’t feel quite so alone. In the 80s, people did not talk about mental illness openly, and I had definitely never heard anything about panic attacks.
I finally had a name for what was happening to me.
The continued throughout my college career, mainly in classes and when walking to classes, but never at home or when hanging out with friends. I could go to restaurants and function a lot better, because I was attempting to try all of the things the book suggested.
I took deep breaths. I tried pressing pressure points in my hand. I’d ask friends to massage my shoulders. I would squeeze a stress ball.
None of it worked.
By the age of 21, I was dating a young man that happened to be a psychology major. He thought maybe I had ADHD and it was left untreated. He thought maybe the fact that I couldn’t focus was the reason I was “freaking out.” He suggested I see the therapist the campus offered. He thought it was free, why not?
So I went.
After a couple of sessions, she sent me to a behavioral health place for analysis and testing.
A developmental Arithmetic Disorder. (Dyscalculia) (Which explains the bad math grades and my panic attacks in a math class.)
Dysthymia (persistent, mild depression.)
And there it was. The definition of Panic Disorder is:
a psychiatric disorder in which debilitating anxiety and fear arise frequently and without reasonable cause.
I began a journey of anti-tricylic drugs and cognitive behavioral therapy. It helped and the pill cut the attacks out. 1996 was the year. I gained 30 pounds and slept all of the time.
That was no way to live. My gynecologist took me off the pills and told me I did not need that. The attacks slowly came back, not nearly as bad as they were.
Fast forward to 2007. I get divorced and end up in therapy. I thought I would need some guidance to deal with the transition and the therapist got hung on the fact I was STILL having attacks. We started deep diving.
I left therapy before the work was completed.
Fast forward to 2017 – I started having frequent attacks. I went back to therapy and started setting boundaries, they dissipated.
Fast forward to 2020 – and they were back with a vengeance. I ended up with a “as needed” pill – Hydroxyzine and a daily – Cymbalta (which handles my body aches and pains and reduces anxiety.)
Are they gone completely? No.
Do I feel more relaxed? For sure.
But there is so much more to this story. So, so, much more.
I think what I will do is share that in 2 more parts. Today was my journey. Tomorrow will be the coping mechanisms I have incorporated that have helped me tremendously. And finally, the last one will be the why – the root of why I have panic attacks, or at the very least, what I have uncovered through therapy and meditation.
If you or someone you know suffering from Anxiety or Panic Attacks, the best thing you can do is:
Accept that this is a part of them now. Know that it will get better as they adapt to what is going on inside of them and when they start to manage the symptoms.
When we go somewhere, please give us an option to stay or leave. We will stay longer when we feel more in control and not trapped or helpless.
Do not pressure us with your silence or repressed anger or annoyance because we might have to leave. That only makes it more difficult for us the next time.
Understand that we do not want to experience this, and that there is no specific time for us to learn how to manage it, there are many types of treatments and one does not work for everyone.
Most importantly, give us your support, love and acceptance. It makes a huge impact in someone’s recovery and we all want to recover.
Bob lives in an Assisted Living facility in Middle Georgia. One day I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw someone repost a request from a nursing home where they were looking for pen pals for their residents. You see, during the pandemic, the residents are not allowed to leave or have guests and if they have to go outside of the building for doctor’s appointments, they are quarantined into their rooms for 14 days. You can only imagine the isolation and loneliness they probably feel.
When I flipped through the pictures, I saw Bob. He had kind, sad eyes. Wearing a white t-shirt and slacks, he reminded me so much of how my grandfather dressed as he got older. I could see his life alert hanging around his neck and a pair of readers in the center of the V of his shirt. This photo said a lot.
I looked at his interests and I realized I did not have a lot in common with him. Well, I do like politics, but I am always afraid to share what I am thinking, in fear of making someone angry. Regardless, I decided to send him a letter.
On Friday, I received a letter from Bob.
Bob lost his wife and is now “alone” in an Assisted Living facility. He has survived a multitude of ailments. After hearing about his latest diagnosis from the contact at the facility, I can only imagine the heart ache and sadness he is feeling. I can’t imagine what it feels like to conquer these mountains alone.
His story really touched me. You can read so much between the lines.
I have written Bob a second letter, this time it is two pages.
What I think frightens me or has at the very least awakened within me is the idea that you can live your entire life as fully as possible and when the sun begins to set…..
How does it feel? Will you feel a void? Will you savor the remaining moments? Will you lay on your bed and turn your back to the world and simply stare at the wall?
I remember my grandfather losing everyone. I remember the sadness just seeping out of him. It breaks my heart.
I am watching now as my own parents are approaching the sunset. Both are retired and honestly, not really by choice. Dad’s health got the best of him and mom’s organization reorganized without her. They are dealing with the aftermath, and let’s be honest, not all of us have good coping skills.
I think about my life choices and the fact that I never had children. Yes, I have step kids, but I came along much later and if anything happens to Tim, I seriously doubt, outside of making sure they get their inheritance and trust, I will be of great concern to them. Will I be in a facility, wishing and hoping and praying someone remembers me? After everything I have contributed? After everything I did?
There was a game that kids used to play at Girl Scout Summer Camp. It was called “Monkey in the Middle,” and it was designed for the person in the middle to catch the ball being tossed between the two others. Oftentimes the middle person gets super frustrated with the other sides.
I sort of feel that way when it comes to politics.
We are getting closer and closer to the next Presidential election. This is one of those critical moments when I hope people take a moment and really think about where they want our country to be perceived and grow.
I, for one, am anti-Trump. Always have been. I am not anti-Republican. I am not anti-Democrat. I am socially liberal and fiscally conservative. That makes me a centrist – Independent Moderate. I vote according to the issues and a person’s ability to be diplomatic. I never vote straight ticket. How can you? Not everyone lines up with my thought process.
I simply can’t pick a side. There are too many variables.
Here is what I need in a candidate:
They need to have a firm grasp on this pandemic. What I mean by that is, they need to show leadership and follow science. Trump has NOT done that.
They need to be a diplomat. How we get along with other countries is crucial in this global economy? Trump is NOT that.
They need to understand the economy and how to present a balanced budget, yet take care of their citizens. Trump is not terrible when it comes to the economy, but the latter part… meh.
When it comes to the citizens: Education, Safety, Jobs, and Healthcare need to be the priority. After reviewing the appointments Trump made, I would say he is NOT good at that.
The environment is a big ticket item on the table. Trump is NOT good at protecting and setting standards to protect our planet for future generations.
Finally, I need a President that is not divisive. Trump is the most divisive President I have ever witnessed.
Which is why, I am voting for Joe Biden for President.
Our youngest is officially 18! We had her party Friday night at our home, with only family and her best friend in attendance. Above you see Tim, Karen-Ann, Cotton, Halani, Bobby, David, and Miles. THIS is a modern family. The most random hodge podge of people.
You’ll notice Amanda is masked up – she works for the CDC and is microbiologist and is working on the pandemic!
Well.. how did it go?
Very, very well.
I wish I could share some crazy drama – but I made a decision that morning to see if I could shift the energy in the room. That’s right!
I’ve been reading a book about Empaths (which, according to some people in the know, I am one.) Even my mom confirmed it.
What is an empath? The term empath comes from empathy, which is the ability to understand the experiences and feelings of others outside of your own perspective. Often I am affected by other people’s energy. It really shifts my energy, which in turn, tends to shift the room. I have noticed this my whole life. Well… not to sound too woo-woo, but in the Empath workbook I read about how to shift the energy in the room, so as a little social experiment, I thought I would give it a try. You guys… it worked. There really is something to this.
With that being said, people were laughing, talking, there was absolutely no awkwardness, and every one had a good time. Not too shabby, eh?
Now onto something SUPER exciting!
I AM FINALLY TAKING PHOTOGRAPHY CLASSES! Yes!From the Atlanta School of Photography. I signed up for my first class (which is an intro) and luckily, during the pandemic, they are offering online options via Zoom.
Talk about intimidating! I am probably the oldest in the class and probably the least experienced, but that is okay! Our first assignment deals with White Balance and using natural light and artificial lighting. I am looking forward to the next class. A little nervous, but excited!
My instructor is super impressive. His name is Alexander Acosta and he works as a photojournalist. To learn more about him, click HERE. To learn more about the Atlanta School of Photography, click HERE.
I’ll keep you guys posted on how it goes. Wish me luck! Trying something new is always exciting. Learning new skills can go one of two ways, I’m hoping I can get the hang of the technical side of it. I want to do it, and do it well.
Of course I remember where I was on 9-11. How could I not? And if I am honest with myself, it took many, many years not to cringe every time a plane flew overhead. I just knew it was going to fall to the ground. Crazy fear, right? Well… that, my friends, is what we call a trigger.
Emotional triggers are any topic or situation that makes you feel uncomfortable. Maybe it is a smell or sound. Perhaps it is a color or shape. Or certain subject matter or places. Triggers are very real and are not to be scoffed at.
I’ve been living with Panic Disorder since I was 8/9 years old. Therapy typically wanted to help me understand how to get a panic attack under control while it was happening. However, we spent very little time identifying the why. Finally, I found a therapist that understood the why, however, the time to truly dive deep ran out and I was left still trying to figure out WHY NOW and WHY HERE?
That was the real clincher – why in Wal-Mart or a grocery store? Why at church? Why did these things happen repeatedly in similar places.
What was the trigger?
Then I began to study Chakras. When I looked up a symptom and found the correlating Chakra and what that meant, suddenly, my triggers made sense. How? Memories came flooding back. Little things that I have brushed aside over the years, but suddenly realized where all of this angst was coming from.
And man was it deep.
For one GREAT BIG example – My root Chakra is in need of balancing and cleansing.
I first read the symptom: Anxiety (and yes, all Chakras can represent different issues with anxiety.) Then I read two specific things:
If we feel anxious because we are simply overwhelmed by everything, feel intimidated, feel caught in some kind of power dynamic in a relationship, or feel pressure to perform well in our lives, our out-of-balance solar plexus Chakra is causing our anxiety.
If we are felling anxious about our material survival in the world (food, shelter, money and so on,) our root Chakra is out of balance, making us feel like we are in constant survival mode.
These two in particular spoke to me.
I decided to do a little deeper meditation and figure out a little more about what was causing me issues. It was the Peace In Nature meditation that spoke to me.
Try this one:
Peace In Nature
Spend a minimum of three to five minutes walking outside in nature.
Walk more slowly and quietly than you normally do. Savor the environment and notice what stands out to you (let it be something in the natural environment.)
Take a moment to sit or stand comfortably with the piece of nature that captures you. For thirty seconds up to one minute, fix your attention on this spot. Explore its colors, textures, shape, scent, and hot it feels when you touch it.
All your breath to be long and deep. Imagine you could be rooted like a tree here – stable and grounded – with what you’ve discovered.
Take a deep breath and exhale with a sigh. Smile. Repeat the process with another part of nature that captures you.
You guys…. it was a tree. The tree really spoke to me. Not really, but figuratively.
So I decided to explore the Root Chakra.
The Root Chakra, according to the book, “Chakra Healing,” is all about being grounded, feeling secure that your basic needs are being met, and feeling connected to your family and tribal consciousness in healthy ways. I began to explore meditations, crystal techniques, essential oil applications, and postures that would help me connect.
What all of this did was trigger a memory or two.
I was maybe 6, maybe younger. We lived on Pineworth Road in Macon. I sat on the bed next to my mother in her room as she was flipping through the yellow pages. She was holding my baby sister, rocking her. I remember my mom crying and calling apartment complexes.
I don’t remember much after that. I know we eventually moved from that beautiful home my parents bought. I’m not sure what happened. Maybe foreclosure? Maybe a drop in salary? All I know is my life changed after that. We moved into a rough neighborhood and rented an apartment. My entire life I had been sheltered- Private pre-school, church on Sunday, Girl Scout camp – and now suddenly I was meeting kids who only lived with one parent and they spent a lot of time at home alone. Kids were smoking behind the apartment building and other kids were telling me about things I was not ready to learn about.
I remember food was simple. Sometimes we did not have electricity (maybe a day or two.) I assume they didn’t have enough to cover the bill. They were young. They were broke.
I remember this girl and her mother came by our home to pick up Girl Scout cookies and I remember how she looked down on me. I STILL remember the face she made. I remember Rodney Chambers in elementary school getting in trouble in PE and Mr Campbell asked me if Rodney did something (I was in the 4th grade,) and of course, I told the truth, and Rodney, in front of all of the kids, lifted up my pants leg and said, “Mr. Campbell, what does she know? She’s poor. She doesn’t even have any socks on.”
My whole life I have been sensitive about success. I knew I had to make something of myself. I had to do better. My parents pushed me, and for good reason. I remember thinking – I will never depend on anyone to take care of me. I will take care of me. I think I’ve felt that way since I was a child.
My parents were and are good parents. They struggled like we all do. But that trigger, that repercussion I had to deal with, has stuck with me and financial security, above all else, is extremely important to me.
I want to start this post off by stating the fact that I am completely for creative self-expression. At the end of the day, I could care less how a person wants to live their life. Or maybe, what I mean to say is, I care that someone has the opportunity and right to live their life.
Now… watch this:
Basically, our little red-head is becoming an adult today and is ready to explode onto the scene with self-expression. If I allow myself to sit and really think about it, it is an absolute beautiful thing to be self-assured and confident. She knows who she is and what she wants, at this point any way.
I think that is the inspiration for this post. Is the core of who we really are, the same as it was when we were 18?
I’m trying to remember the girl I was 30 years ago. I was planning to go to college and become a television journalist. I wanted to live in NYC and travel the world. I wanted to be sophisticated and bright. I wanted to be married, no kids.
Is that girl still inside of me?
Granted, life took me on some twists and turns, however, I did go to college. I did become a television journalist. I did travel the world. I did live in a bigger city (not NYC, but I did visit it once.) I did get married and I chose not to have children. I guess you could consider me bright, and maybe more cultured than overly sophisticated.
With that being said, what about aesthetics? A tattoo is a big deal. The one my step-daughter is getting looks similar to this:
It will be a half sleeve with flowers and vines, in black & white and with shading. If done well, it will be pretty, BUT, it is a really big deal because at 18 – what if?
What if you decide later you hate it?
What if you try to get a job and are denied because of visual tattoos?
What if the artist has a shaky hand?
What if people judge you?
Should it matter?
What happens when it fades? I showed her my tattoo that is 17 years old, and it never sees the light of day, and has begun to fade.
There are a lot of things to consider. PLUS – she is still in high school. She graduates this year. I realize she will eventually go back to class in January (next semester,) and will the half sleeve be super distracting?
Gosh, I sound like a mom.
THEN there is the issue/non-issue of her gay pride birthday. I have absolutely no issue with it, but her grandmother is going to have this sour-puss face about the whole thing. Honestly, this too shall pass, but I just hate that any negativity hits these kids over their life choices. Scratch that – being gay is not a choice. I hate that any negativity hits these kids over who they are at their core.
It takes a lot of guts to live your life out loud. I commend them on openly embracing who they really are, and every one else can just shove off. Their lifestyle and choices are between them and GOD/a higher power, and I, for one, will not be accused of ever stifling or meddling in something that is really none of my business. This is their journey. All Tim and I can do is provide a solid foundation and a safe place to turn when times get hard.