Wednesday, November 12, 2014


It's November. Here it is months since I have written. A dry spell? Not exactly... For me it's more like a retreat. Not the kind you go to to get a massage and drink a Daiquiri, but the kind you do when at war and you are being beaten.


I was recently involved in a project with a couple of people. This project took my heart, my time, my love. In return.... I'm not sure what I got. I'm still thinking on that. I won't say it was bad but I will say it was tough. It shouldn't have been. It should have been uplifting, enlightening, and surging with possibility. It wasn't. For me it felt a little like a war. I took hit after hit until I was ready to retreat. That's not me. Not who I am. Ever. I stand and fight. I push on. I move ahead. I win.

I can't say why it turned out the way it did. It just did, but it caused my retreat. It caused me to not want to write. I love to write. It caused me to question my ability and my voice. It shouldn't have. It should have affirmed those things. It caused me to hide. It should have made me blossom.

It's November, and here I am. I'm still like a cat licking away at these wounds. Who am I? Who am I? Why did it hurt?

To add to my feelings of insecurity, Finn leaves me alone to start Kindergarten. I am over them moon happy for him but alone here is scary. Only myself to face, to listen to, to talk to. Where is my voice? Why won't it return?

I sit here today fighting the urge to retreat, fighting the urge to scream, fighting the urge to cry.

Fighting... that's me. Always fighting and moving forward. Coming back to me. Because that's who I am. A fighter. I rage on, not die down.

I feel a little like I'm at the eye of the hurricane. The calm when all the world swirls around you in madness. I am still and listening for that voice. Coaxing her out. Holding my hand out and calling to her. Asking to be taken from the still into the winds. That's me. I normally live in the storm and I thrive there. I embrace that pace and movement. I embrace that chaos. I embrace that fierceness.

It's Novemeber...

I'm donning my armor and suiting up for the battle...ready for the storm. Ready to return to me.

Monday, June 30, 2014

My How the Time Flies

"Mommy will you help me get this on?" As I am fastening the Velcro on his over-worn spider man costume he is running away. I reach out as he is fleeing and brush his curly golden locks with my fingertips. He does not notice, he is running away. He is always running away. My heart aches. Soon he will be running from my car door at the curb of his school into the wide open world of kindergarten and then beyond. Time is flying. "One: my pretty pony- two: my pretty pony.. " Stephen King wrote a short story called My Pretty Pony in which a man explains to his grandson about how as he grows older time begins to move faster and faster, "slipping away from you in great chunks if you don't hold tightly onto it." That is how I am feeling.

I stood in the wave pool searching the bobbing bodies for my girl. I know she is safe but I'd sure feel better if I could only put my eyes on her. I pick over all the neon pink bikinis in my field of vision. When she chose it at the store I was hesitant but thought to myself that she sure would be easy to spot. She beamed at her image in the mirror, so happy and confident I could never have said no. Now I am looking around and it appears that every other mother had the same idea, as she is lost in a sea of pink bikinis. I actually passed over her several times. I saw two girls sitting facing one another in a double inner tube. They were much too old to be my girl and her friend. They are only 10. Little girls in my mind. These two had long lean legs dangling from their raft and hair that flowed down their backs. They were easily 15 or 16. These two laughed and tossed their locks about, kicking their legs, splashing up water. As I drew closer they came more into focus. There she was, the teen girl and her friend- beauties. It was my girl. My ten year old looking like she was all grown up. I felt it again. Bracing myself like the Earth shifted.

We were leaving the restaurant and he was walking ahead. He looked back to see if his friend was following him and fell right over the parking barrier; fell flat. I gasped and said, "Are you okay? Oh my gosh, are you hurt?" He leapt up and yelled.."Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!" We all laughed and his buddy said. "Ha, now there is the Jude I know!" The Jude he knows.... A funny, outgoing, independent boy who doesn't need his mom and is way past the point of boo boo kisses. They climbed into our car and laughed the whole way home whispering about video games and maybe even sisters that were pests. I glanced several times back in the rear view mirror at his handsome features. He is becoming so handsome. He always holds the door open for ladies. He is quick with a compliment. I was proud but still shaken.

Days and days have just slipped through my fingers. Some I wished were over and others that I can never get  back. The time is flying. I am powerless to stop or even slow it. All I can do is be here and now and be present for those moments when those shifts take place. I love them so much.

Right now in the other room they are still small. Finn is meowing like a cat while Jude and Char are putting on a play. They all are falling out in laughter. They are so loud talking over one another so the next cool idea can be heard. Right now time is flying and I am just here watching.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Is your "truth" just an excuse for you to be an asshole?????

So as I said on Facebook I have been doing a lot of thinking about this new trend of "Speaking your Truth." For the most part I am about "Speaking your Truth." I am for it, I vote YES. Yes, more power to ya! If you are brave enough and open enough to talk about your baggage, your woes, your dirt, your life then I think that is great and powerful and cathartic. 

If you want to finally talk about being molested as a child, if you want to tell everyone that once you were raped, if you want to be strong and come out and say, "I'm gay!" that's fine too. Proud of you! Go for it... please. I think it makes us all feel more connected, accepted, and one. 

However- the line for me is when your "Truth" is about someone else. DURRR?? You are thinking. Yes it would seem that it's common sense that YOUR truth would be about YOU. Well as it turns out, it is not all that common (the sense that is...) 

There seems to be this new kind of "truth" people are speaking rather hiding behind, that is not really truth- instead it's just and excuse to be mean. "I'm really struggling with this. I can't go on, I must speak my truth. I have to tell you that I just don't really like you. I can't see myself wasting one more minute of my time near you. Please understand- I'm just speaking my truth." Mistaken!!- Newsflash.. that's not YOUR truth it is just really mean. 

"Oh how BRAVE she is for having 'Spoken her Truth.' " I've heard in response. 

Again... mistaken.

Brave would be to have walked away or turned the other cheek. In a work relationship Brave is the person who pushes through it and does the job that needs doing without all the drama. In a friendship, brave- well yes it says the hard things but it does so with compassion. Brave in love shows much grace and patience. It stands by and holds the hand and lifts up it's loved one instead of tearing them down. In a group of people we don't really know? BRAVE says to him or herself.. "Well, I dont really agree and I may not like or maybe even actually hate the way that person is, but I must acknowledge that I dont have to like them. It's okay for them to be exactly who they are. I don't have to like them. I can just chose to ignore or walk away from them." BRAVE has a filter..... BRAVE does not have diarrhea of the mouth!!! BRAVE is not juvenile. BRAVE shows restraint and class. BRAVE considers not only his or her feelings but seriously weighs the consequence of the words they are about to speak and BRAVE- well Brave is concerned with the feelings of the person whom they might be hurting with their "truth"....

 It is far more brave a task to stick it out and try to make things work than to walk away veiled in "truths."

I have been thinking a lot about a speech I heard a year back at Listen to Your Mother 2013 in Kansas City. The speech was by Michelle Burdick. She writes this great blog. She is talented and she is funny.. But more than that she is classy and filled with grace. In her speech in 2013 she talked about a hard relationship with her mother and she talked about how it has made her into the person she is. She likes who she is. So along with all the bad- she acknowledges all the good that came from her childhood. She states in her conclusion, a list of "gifts" her mother gave her. One is the ability to and the knowledge that we must "meet people where they are." 

What brilliant advice. 

Will I like everyone I ever meet?- Nope no way. Maybe not even MOST of the people I meet. But will I allow them to be who they are and to live in the space that they live in without my judgement on them. Yes... yes I will. Isn't that how we all should think? If I want to be who I am and say what I want to say- to "Speak MY truth" then don't I have to allow you to be who you are?

Don't like someone? Don't be around them- pretty simple. You do not have to speak it. A little class needs to be restored.

I'm guilty too sometimes... we post we tweet.. we pinterest and instagram- everything we are thinking.. I am wondering if we are forgetting how to be decent and polite? Has the lack of physical presence and all these virtual relationships caused us to become unable to be decent? Do we spew out our "truth" from the safety of our keyboard so much that when we are with other real humans we forget to be kind and decent????

I at least try to make my posts and my statements about ME. I try to own whatever feelings I have about another person. Because hey- here is another newsflash.... What you don't like about another person... well 99.999% of the time it's because they either scare you, mirror you, or make you realize where you fall short. When you lash out at someone it's because YOU are lacking in some way. 

You know what would be truly brave? A little introspection and a little SILENCE..... 

( I know.. I know.."said the loud mouthed blogger")

Not everyone needs to know everything you are thinking. A filter needs to be returned to our lives. We can't and shouldn't just go popping off our "truth" at the expense of others feelings. I leave you with this question........."Is YOUR truth just an excuse for you to be an asshole??"

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Other Shoe

    The old saying goes..."I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop." 

Always waiting.

I have a pretty beautiful life. I do really! I am utterly humbled and grateful for it everyday- this life. I make sure to feel it- live it- say it. I make sure to be present.

But somewhere ALWAYS- in the deepest recesses of my mind- I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I am not sure why. Is it somewhere down deep in my psyche? Is it a spoiled leftover from childhood? I don't know- can't fathom.

I wake on any given day to a radio alarm clock playing a funny-annoying- or great song. I stretch and usually by that time my husband has showered me with kisses and hugs and questions about my plans for the day. I get up and get dressed. Enjoy three more soggy kisses from barely open eyed babies. Make breakfast and lunch for three precocious children who make me laugh all the way through the morning with one problem or another. There is no underwear in my drawers-or I've forgotten homework-or an "Opps! I did not tell you but I need a new folder TODAY!" And none of it bothers me. It mostly just makes me love them more. It mostly makes me laugh.

Always waiting .

It's not in the front of my mind. I can usually manage to push it all the way to the back-to squash it before it gets going and gains momentum. But-when it creeps in... field trip today-better pack a sack lunch and remind him to wear tennis shoes and shorts so he won't get too hot, and - Oh my God what if the bus crashes? Should I drive separately so I can attempt to pull him from the wreckage? It seems funny to say out loud but it happens everyday. Sometimes it catches me off guard and other times I am prepared for it. The voice in my head begins. "Finn needs to stay with a sitter this afternoon for like an hour so I can go to a short meeting. I will make sure he has his tablet to play with and some other toys to keep him occupied. I need to make sure he's eaten a good breakfast so he doesn't get hungry while he is there because I don't expect her to feed him."  Then in creeps- "What if he chokes on a lego? Will she know what to do? What if she lets him play outside and doesn't watch him carefully and he gets kidnapped?"  I push it back down. I remind myself I am being silly. "What if she spanks him? What if she makes him cry? What if I get into a car accident before I go to pick him up. Will I have given him enough hugs so that his last memory of me will be a happy one?" Sometimes it's so BIG these feelings-this dialogue-that I actually and quite literally have to choke it down. This can't be normal??

Always waiting.

My husband only kissed me once quickly this morning before running off to work. Is he falling out of love with me? He didn't touch me as he passed by in the kitchen.

Even now as I write these words I know how crazy they must sound. If I were diagnosing myself I'd say definitely anxiety, possibly even paranoia?

Knowing myself as I do- I can tell you for sure it's that I never believe I am good enough. I never believe that I deserve this life- these great kids and this love from my husband. WHY? I am always waiting for this rug to be pulled out from underneath me- for that other shoe to drop.

I am aware of the idea of a "self fulfilling prophecy." I am aware of the idea that focusing on this negative will only draw it to me. Yet--Still I can not make it go away.

I wonder if-in part- it is because I love them so much- so deeply- so hard that the only thing in life that scares me is losing them.

Fear is the opposite of love. Fear only breeds the bad and the negative and so I desperately try to push it away. I want to replace it with only love. But it's there and as much as I try to crush it- to bury it- it's there and it comes back up. It sort of feels like that moment you are walking through a haunted house waiting for the next goblin to jump out and scare you. Not the moment you get scared but that awful feeling you have anxiously waiting for it.

Always waiting for it.

Does anyone else feel this way or do I need therapy. Well- I probably need therapy but seriously? Does anyone else ever feel like this?

Friday, May 9, 2014

I am not alone…

So this is it -the dreaded wrap up post. I have been brewing it in my head for days. 

Thinking of lines from the show that moved me.

Thinking of how I feel and the looks on the faces I was able to read from the stage. 

Thinking of the comments I’ve gotten days and days since. 

Brain completely shutting down as I am swilling in and drowning in emotion. I turn on the radio to LISTEN to Liz Tasio’s reading on KCUR.

It was beautiful and moving and perfect- as it was the day of the show. The words are so perfect.
But it was also what came the entire hour before her piece was read on the program Central Standard, that cause me to become un-hinged. A history lesson on the origins of Mother's day or Mothers' day, as the debate was waged. I had gone through 42 of these holidays and never once did it occur to me to question the birth/origin of the day. I assumed a day generated in some capitalistic fashion to garner money for the floral or chocolate industry. I was WAY wrong. 

An uber feminist from way back in 1870 named Julia Ward Howe wanted a call to action for women. She believed that women are the ones who end wars, women are the ones who unite and not divide. She wanted women to ban together to bring peace to the world. She wanted an end to the bloodshed of our children in the name of a war she did not believe in. She authored the following originally titled, "An Appeal to Womanhood Throughout the World." Later the name changed to, "The Mother's Day Proclamation."

"Arise, then, women of this day ! Arise, all women who have hearts, Whether our baptism be of water or of tears ! Say firmly : We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country, to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: Disarm, disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence vindicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of council.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take council with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, man as the brother of man, each bearing after his own kind the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women, without limit of nationality, may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient, and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace. "

A wave washed over me. 

I realized I am not alone. 

Mine is not a new or unique cause. I am not a trendsetting, headline making, way-paver. I am saying nothing new and profoundly life altering. 

I am actually humbled by that realization. 

I am happy with it.

 In fact a bit ecstatic.

I am one, in a line of MANY MANY MANY women who have come before me begging, demanding, and instigating a consciousness of heart and mind. I am one, in a line of many who wanted change, who advocated for it, who spoke up for it. I am one, in a line of many who realized the power we as women harness to bring about that change- TO UNITE. 

In my closing for the show this year I said. "It is the story that unites." It is OUR story that unites. I may be placing her on a pedestal she is not prepared for but Ann Imig is in league with women like Julia Ward Howe. She gave us this show to share our voices, our stories and in short to unite this world in the name of Motherhood. I am proud to have been a part in it. 

I am proud to have shared a stage and to have facilitated 14 women in telling their truth. I am proud of the things they shared and the people they touched. 

Amy Carlson had one line in her piece called "Together."  She said, "It's the anti-pregnant belly. All negative space." That line haunted me for days after the show and feeling a little empty and alone that it was over, that line was all I could think of. Like in a way I had just given birth and my children had all grown and left the nest in one short weekend. Yes- that is what it feels like. But then I realized in LISTENING to that Mother's day proclamation, that I had helped put something of beauty into the world. Helped UNITE. There is nothing empty about that. 

I am not alone. I stand in good company. This year with 14 women telling stories that unite.  We are part of the bigger picture, a grander plan. I am eternally grateful for that. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Well played...

Here is my "Reverse Bucket List"

I know I know- but, sometimes I too can fall victim to the “It’s already been played out.” Everyone (and their mother) has done one, and in truth reading them, I kept thinking that really they were written just for the purpose of petting your own ego. Yep, and that is why I am writing mine today. Bruised and battered lately by some fierce critics I feel like I need a pick me up. So in a sort of “love letter to myself” here is my reverse bucket list. Sorry if it’s played and egotistical but reminding myself like Stuart Smalley that, “I deserve good things; I am entitled to my share of happiness. I refuse to beat myself up. I am an attractive person. I am fun to be with. And darn it people like me…” is a necessity today. So here we go...

#1. I have a beautiful family! Three perfectly awesome kids who make my life a living dream. (I consider this one my greatest accomplishments)

#2. I have a pretty happy marriage. My husband of 13 years is my rock, and my support.I am actually totally in love with this man!

#3. I have traveled the world. France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Grand Cayman, Bahamas’s, Brussels, and Switzerland (and am not even close to finished.)

#4. I have traveled the US. New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California (and am not even close to finished.)

#5.I have lived in 4 states in the US.

#6. I graduated high school in the top 10 in my class with a full ride to Rockhurst College. (where I screwed up my first year and am not one bit ashamed since its part of what made me who I am today.)

#7. I graduated from UNCW with honors and a 3.6 GPA. I possess a BA in English, AA, and a AGE.

#8. I was published in my college’s anthology. A poem called “Juice” (on the first page no less.)

#9. I wrote three front page articles in my college newspaper. The Seahawk.

#10. I wrote music reviews and the horoscopes for a magazine called JUICE in college. It was a “Surf, Sound, and Skate” mag. I was NOT cool enough to have worked there.. ha ha

#11. I met Anthony Hopkins, Mary Stewart Masterson, Nicolas Cage, Laura Flynn Boyle, and Mathew Broderick while at college in Wilmington. They were there for films they’ve made.

#12.  I performed in Listen to Your Mother 2013 and am now co-directing the 2014 season.

#13. I was an extra in the made for TV movie, “In a child’s name” starring Valerie Bertinelli.. ( ha ha ha)  

#14. I served in the Board of Directors at Academie Lafayette for two years.

#15. I speak some, read a lot, and comprehend well the French language.

#16. I have a “successful” blog. (I love it- anyway)

#17. I performed live on stage (the second stage) in Austin at the Lollapalooza in 1995, with the Austin Slam Poets.

#18. I performed live on stage at COUNTLESS live open mic nights.

#19. I have friends that I actively engage with in over 6 countries. A citizen of the world.

#20. I have been on TV several times and not one of them was for a crime.. ha ha ha.

#21. I have never been convicted of a crime. 

#22. I was in a play (with actual speaking lines.) 

#23. I have auditioned for three musicals. I did not make one of them but at least I tried damn it!

#24. I have sold over 113 pieces of artwork and often will come across people who have a piece of my artwork in their home and did not even know it was mine! 

#25. Have actually finished ALL the laundry on exactly three occasions in my life.

#26. Bought my own home with my own money when I was a single woman.

#27. Learned to surf.

#28. Snorkeled with sea lions in the Sea of Cortez.

#29. Am the main character in a book an ex-boyfriend wrote. I am listed as "Lady Lambeth." She is a French courtesan. It was published.. I do not have a copy but I have read it and it's AWFUL! ha ha...

#30. I am a master at card tricks. Ask me next time we are at a party together.

So, I think that is about all. Sorry for the bragging but I needed some self lifting today. At times it’s the little things in life right? Like reminding myself that never having been in jail is actually a pretty important accomplishment at 42. Now I just need to make sure to keep my kids out and my husband too. I’ve lived a good life so far, it’s not over- not by a long shot and in the next years there are even more things I will accomplish in this life. Write a book, go on an overseas mission, and much more travel are all things in store for me. While I don’t think I’ll skydive anytime soon I can see a zip line in my future or maybe a short cliff dive. I’ll be sure to post pics.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The cutting room floor

In casting the Listen to Your Mother show 2014 for Kansas City. Sometimes even the most beautiful loving and well written pieces end up on the cutting room floor. My own piece for this year's show was no exception. I wanted to share it anyhow so here it is. If you are reading this and you did not make the show either. Trust me when I say, "I feel your pain." Trust me when I say that what you wrote was beautiful, touching, and IMPORTANT.  Trust me when I say that sometimes it is just a matter of how the grand puzzle that is the show falls into place so neatly.

So here you go. A piece right of the cutting room floor.

 Ila Marie Osborn

Everything about me today I owe to the great mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and aunts I have been so fortunate to have in my life. I stand here today a perfect mosaic of what all these beautiful strong ladies were and all that they taught me to be. I am thankful for them.  All lived wonderfully full lives. All had beautiful healthy families. All grew old and died peacefully and happy. All that is but one and this is her story that I am about to tell you. Well, It’s more accurate to say that this is OUR story.  She  deserved a happy ending and I her writer granddaughter am here today to give it to her. To re-write her story.

When I was 16, my grandmother was murdered. BOOM there it is. Like a ton of bricks. Who does that even happen to? Certainly not little old ladies?

My grandmother (my mother’s mother), Ila Marie Osborn, was a mere 56 years old when this happened. Not really old at all and even younger at heart. She was one of those strange old ladies, very youthful and childlike in her ways. You all know them, the ones with like 30 stuffed animals piled in the rear windows of their cars. She actually had knitted throw pillows in the back seat of her Chrysler and a quilted blanket. She always wore very shiny clothes and almost always in a shade of lavender. Why does it seem that older ladies always wear lavender?

Costume jewelry drenched her ears, arms, fingers, and neck. I loved playing in her bathroom because she must have had 20 shades of the brightest lipstick one can imagine with names like “Burning Sunset”, “Russian Red”, and “Heat Wave.” The orange ones were her favorite. Open up her fridge and in lieu of butter or eggs on the door you would find 100 shades of nail polish that she stored there. Her nails were always perfectly manicured. Her dressing table was a little girls Mecca. Littered with baubles and bracelets, sleek bottles of sweet smelling perfumes, bedazzled with pearls and beads, filled with fluffy powder puffs and pretty pink things that I had no idea how to use. She always used big powder puffs. I have never known anyone since who has used them, but she always did.

She had this little clear glass bottle filled with shiny polished gem stones. I coveted that thing. I always wanted to spill them out and play with them, but she would never let me. It seemed to me that she kept them to remind her of something. I never knew what.  It was the only thing I wanted from her house when she was gone. It meant nothing to anyone but me. Was worth nothing I’m sure, but I wanted it badly since it had always been off limits. I never found out what happened to it. It probably was thrown out with all the other piles of junk we got rid of after her death. I still think of it. I attribute that little bottle of jewels with my obsession for rhinestones, glitter, and all things shiny now!

She had wigs galore as well. They came in every color of the hair rainbow and in every style too. I always thought the Styrofoam heads they sat upon seemed creepy. She had a ton of dress up clothes. I distinctly remember a Scarlett O’Hara get up of sorts with a wide hoop contraption underneath and gingham skirts. I also remember a sleek black dress from Frederick’s of Hollywood. She was idyllic to me as a child. She was like me. She was like a little girl.

Oh and she was the BEST tea-party thrower. She had little outdoor furniture for us, chairs and a metal table with and umbrella. She had it outside on a patio surrounded by a lush garden bursting with flowers. Roses in every color, big cabbage like hydrangea, bleeding hearts, and sweet smelling hyacinth to be specific.  These tea parties were a fairy tale to me as a young child. We’d dress up in all her frilly stuff and wigs and what not. Fake pearls galore. Orange lipstick prints would rim our teacups. This is the really great part: our “tea” was ALWAYS actually water with a handful of red-hot’s thrown in. you know the cinnamon drop candies. She’d put them in our cups to flavor and turn the water pink. Vanilla wafers and some times Madeleines, we would have with our “tea.” As a child, I adored going there. It was MAGIC.

As I began to grow though, it became less interesting for me. No matter how old I got she stayed the same. I remember one Christmas getting gifts from her. I was maybe 12 at the time and one of the gifts was one of those wooden puzzles with the really big pieces. The other was an outfit that was four sizes too small and looked as if it were designed for a six year old. No matter how old I was, it seemed that in her mind I’d always be a very little child. So going to her house became a less and less frequent event.

For my 15th birthday she took me to Red Lobster and shopping. I remember feeling a little embarrassed by the gaudy way she looked. Looking back now I feel awful about that. Teenagers are assholes and I was not the exception. I remember her water glass having the orange lipstick stains and feeling disgusted by that. I remember watching her eat. She had enormous boobs. All crumbs would fall into her cleavage and she would fish them out. I crouched in my seat with hot faced embarrassment. They say “what you mock you become” and look at me now- (motion to boobs) I think of her every time I fish a piece of lettuce out of my bra! We went that day, into some trendy store in the mall where I made a quick purchase of earrings and a shirt before anyone cool from my high school might walk in. She loved me. She wanted to spend the day with me and I was EMBARRASSED. What a jerk. I still have those earrings. I cherish them now even though they are a little bit 80’s.

The next year when my 16th birthday rolled around I was sure to be gone when she came to visit. God forbid I have to endure another embarrassing shopping trip. I was out with my newly acquired driver’s license being “COOL” as teenagers are apt to do. July 20th, 1988. She came to our house and left a gift with my mom. They had a nice chat and they hugged goodbye. My mom was one of the last people who ever saw her alive. I have no idea what that gift was for my 16th birthday. I can’t remember it at all. It was insignificant. All that happened after must have overshadowed that for me.

A day or so went by. The house that my grandmother lived in was the same one she’d lived in her whole life. She was so kind hearted and as the years had worn on, she had sort of become a care giver to all those around her. The elderly neighbors on either side in their upper 80’s relied on her. She would do small things like water their plants as she did her own. She was such a green thumb. She’d bring in their newspapers, help them walk their little dogs, sometimes pick up a thing or two at the grocery store for them but always checked on them each and everyday. That was the kind of person she was. Always giving of herself. When several days went by Mrs. Niccum who lived to her east called my mom to say she was worried. A search began. No car to be found, house locked tight. Police were called.  Reports were filed.

She was eventually found down near the Missouri river by a poor, drunk old fisherman who had stopped to urinate. He didn’t see her at first, he smelled her. It was July in Kansas City. Hot July. So even after only few days you can imagine what her condition must have been. I will not go into great detail here about what happened. I will not talk about the man that did it, how he did it, what he did to her. Not about the lengthy investigation, the gory details of the killing, or the awful trial my family endured. This is not that kind of story. I will only say that she was killed by someone she trusted. Someone in all of her glorious naivety she had tried to help by giving him odd jobs for small pay around her home. Someone she knew and wanted to believe in. She as I said was childlike; she believed the good in all. She always did what was right and she was always kind. What he did was the greatest sin. Not just killing but killing someone so pure at heart. In the end he got away with maybe one hundred dollars and a bunch of her fake costume jewelry. She died for nothing.

So as I said, I am here today. I am a piece of her and she of me.  She deserved a different story. She was so kind. She deserved a happy ending, she deserved a fairy tale. I know in my heart that my mothers in this life were not just the one who gave birth to me. My mother’s were the ones who taught me my greatest lessons.

Ila taught me so many. As I reflect on who I am today, I am reminded that some of the best of who I am came from her. Her lessons were as follows; be young, have fun ALWAYS, be who you are, LOVE who you are. There is bliss everywhere. She taught me that teenagers can be jerks, but hopefully by the time they are 40 they will realize the error of their ways. She taught me to be gracious and kind, help others, to give of myself. To keep finger nail polish in the fridge so it doesn’t get clumps, to always leave the house looking your best. To love life, love your family, to be a good friend. That it’s okay to be a girly girl and that big boobs can be useful for catching your lunch. Still I think red-hots are delicious, flower gardens are magic. I am a walking encyclopedia of flower varietals because of all she taught me. She taught me to love with ferocity, too never be the first to let go in a hug. And even though in the end her trust in fellow man is what led to her death, I think she would not change that. I think she’d always tell me help others and trust that there is good in them somewhere. The most important lesson of all though: sparkling jewels and orange lipstick can brighten any day even if it hardly washes off your tea cups.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My husband is……

My husband is a lot of things. (A saint for starters.) I blog about his shortcomings here and mainly I do it in jest. What never occurs to me is that he will take it with anything other than the best of my intentions. I always think he must know that I love him. I love all of him. I love all of Rick exactly how he is. Otherwise, I’d never chosen to spend an entire lifetime with him. I always think he knows that I’d never have chosen him to procreate with, if I did not know he’d make me laugh, cry, frustrate me at times, but mostly support me and be the best husband and father I could ever imagine.

Sometimes I guess what I write hurts his feelings. It never occurred to me that it did. For that I am deeply sorry. He is my rock. He is my guide, my beacon. He holds my hand and reminds me that I’m good enough. He lifts me up. He texts me everyday saying that he loves me and that I’m beautiful.

When I poke at him, it’s supposed to be in jest. It’s not supposed to be hurtful. I love him so much. I am lucky to have him and don’t often enough let him know that.

He helps with the kids, he helps with laundry, he does the dishes every Sunday. He kisses me every morning; he puts the lid down on the toilet. He kisses my neck when I’m cooking dinner. He remembers what color roses we had in our wedding.

Sometimes I wonder how I ever landed a guy this handsome and sweet. Especially as we grow older, I get more wrinkles and grey and he just looks more distinguished.

He is ALL of this to me and I am so thankful he is mine and I am his. So thankful for this home we have created, this life we live, and these babies we’ve made. Without him it would all be lost.

That is what my husband is to me. So yes, he is sometimes the butt of my jokes, but never ever anything less than EVERYTHING to me.  

"My work is the only ground I've ever had to stand on. I seem to have a whole superstructure with no foundation, but I'm working on the foundation." 
Said by Marilyn Monroe

I have a foundation. It was built for me by the constant praise, belief in me, and love for me, by my husband. No one ever believed in me the way that he has. He has helped me to believe in myself. 

In short- My husband is THE SHIT!!!

 And NO he did not hack my blog…

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Where I Lived

14515 West 60th Terrace
Shawnee, Kansas 66216

I remember it to this day. My dad built that house. He did it with his bare hands. It was one of the first in that subdivision. Fields and grass were all around the lot. There are a million houses in all directions of it now, but not then. In fact there were so many streets that just “ended” near that house. So many that would later become main thoroughfares but that back then, 33 years ago (Whoa!  That just sunk in 33 years ago) those streets went exactly nowhere.

I was seven when we moved there. I remember coming there when it was not even close to being finished. I remember the smell of the fresh cut wood. I still love that smell. Both my father and my husband build houses by trade so it’s a smell ingrained in my soul. I could tell a thousand vivid stories about that house, but I think I’ll let this one just be about the bones of that house.

I watched it go up. I was so excited to see each new phase. I was especially excited to stand in what would soon be my bedroom. I’d sit on the plywood floor looking up at the clear blue sky before the roof was put on and I’d imagine the colors it would be painted. I’d imagine where my furniture would go and I’d imagine where each and every one of my treasured possesions would be housed. I got first pick, behind my parents of course, of rooms. I picked the one closest to bathroom. I wanted my own and this would be the next best thing. The other room also had the attic access in the closet and that kind of creeped me out.

I remember walking through the hall and into the dining room. I would peer over the edge of the opening where a sliding door would soon go into the mud caked back yard. I plotted where a swing set would be placed and imagined the lush grass I’d soon play in. There would later be a tiny playhouse looking just like the big house right there at the bottom of the stairs to a deck that was not yet built. I remember standing in the kitchen and wondering what each cubby and dividing wood structure would hold. A refrigerator or stove, a desk alcove, the sink, or a row of cabinets, what would it be? I watched little by little as it all took shape.

I was more knowledgeable at nine, about how these things went together than most adults. This was the third new house my dad had built for us. The first one we never lived in as a passer by loved it so much that he made an offer on it before it was even finished. The second one we lived in for only a year or two, and this one we’d planned on the same. It would not later play out that way. My parents would soon divorce and I’d actually spend the entire rest of my childhood in that house. My dad would build a thousand more new houses for other families, but never again one for his "happy" little family.

By the time I left that house when I was 18, I knew it like the back of my hand. I could have found my way around every corner, closet, and crevice wearing a blindfold. It was such and intimate place to me. I knew all of its flaws. She had a lot of them. I sometimes wonder if anyone has ever fixed any of them. The drawer in the guest bathroom (that was to the left if you are looking in the mirror) did not open all the way. It hit the door jam at about four inches open. It was only enough room for a small hand to fit. We kept almost nothing in that drawer. There was another just like it in the kitchen. When you opened that one it would hit the dials of the dishwasher. My mom kept her coupons in that drawer. The light on the left side of the front door if you were facing the house, never came on. No matter how much my dad tried to trace back the wiring, he could never make it come on. The floor of the “coat closet” was the ceiling of the stairwell to the basement. That meant that the floor in that closet was slanted and not flat. You could store nothing in that closet unless it fit on the shelf over the coats. There was a light switch at the bottom of the stairs to the playroom. It had four switches on the plate, and one of them went to absolutely nothing. It was always a mystery what it was even purposed for in the first place.

I loved that house. I guess I sort of imagined we’d always live there. I was broken when my mom told me she wanted to leave it. I don’t know why I loved it so much. So many bad things happened in that house. I can remember so many bad things and so very few really great things. I think I wanted to stay because so much of my life passed there, so many of my formative years. So much of my regular ordinary unimportant life happened there. Things like first kisses with boys, first dates, junior high and high school, best friends, graduations, curfews, first cars, fights with my sister, starting periods, having crushes, dying pets, planting flowers, honor rolls, and all of those other things regular life brings in and out. My sister broke my Prince album on the floor of the basement. We made up dance routines to the soundtrack of Xanadu. I roller skated to Def Leopard in the garage. I threw a party there my senior year and over 100 people came (it was epic). I burnt the hell out of some cookies, in that kitchen, which caused the smoke alarm to go off and my sister to come crawling from her room screaming, “Stop, drop, and roll.” I stepped in the neighbors dog poo in that yard. I was tired of that dog (Sandy) pooping in our yard so I gathered up all of it and threw it at their house. I had night terrors in my perfect fuscia bedroom where my mom’s boyfriend stole my innocence and trust and replaced it with a hole that sometimes to this day feels void. I saw my dad cry for the first time on the couch in the living room of that house when my mom said she’d had enough. Fights between my parents (so many many fights), I listened to in that house. Insignificant memories and life altering moments; all of them a part of me.

When we left there, I wrote a note to the person who would later live in my room. I hid it in the trim on the inside of the closet in my bedroom. I wish I could tell you that I remember exactly what that note said. I wish I knew whether or not someone ever found it. I remember only that in the note I said that I hoped they took good care of the house it wasn't her fault, and that I hoped this bedroom brought better things to their life than it had brought to mine.

That house had good bones. That house had bad skeletons. I loved that house. I hated it a little bit too I suppose.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

You may experience some possible side effects...

I was up late (AGAIN) last night. This time I was catching up on Walking Dead, when it hit me. It seemed a plethora of pharmaceutical ads came on and I always laugh about their disclaimers. But this time it struck me as not only funny but fitting that Motherhood should come with these very same disclaimers.  They should be as follows:

You may experience restlessness due to the lack of sleep you will be getting. Abnormal dreams may occur in some instances, especially if the things you have borne witness to through out the day were particularly disturbing. Dry mouth and constipation, as you will most likely not have even one minute to yourselves to pee, poop, or even have a sip of water. And if you do perchance have a cup somewhere with a beverage in it, most likely someone has either consumed it all for you or backwashed in it. You may experience moments of lack of focus and dizziness as you will mostly be running in fifty directions trying to get all done that needs to be done before sunset. Chronic trouble sleeping as you – well- you will not even have time. Excessive sweating from all the crazy bullshit thrown your way by work, school, children, and your spouse. Weight loss because you don’t have time to eat or MORE LIKELY weight gain because all you do have time for is an energy drink and whatever unhealthy quick thing you can shove in your mouth while doing laundry. You may experience heart pounding or feelings of nausea due to the extreme anxiety from the amount of work you must complete in a day. Headache and or rash do to the same crap I listed above. In rare cases (meaning not at all that rare) you may also experience hives, high blood pressure, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, problems with your period, joint pain, muscle pain, neck pain, back pain, stomach pain, elbow pain, and feet pain, feelings of weakness, nervousness,  or throwing up. You may be easily angered or annoyed, (Duh!) and you may also experience a complete lack of interest in sexual intercourse.

Yes, that about covers it.

(These side effects were taken directly from the list of side effects of Wellbutrin. Is that ironic or is that just plan hysterical???)

And that folks is your daily dose of irreverence – carry on.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

You Will Be Changed, Kansas City

You Will Be Changed, Kansas City

Kansas City’s call for submissions has gone out and I am pounding the pavement letting people know about our show. I seem to encounter to same question over and over: what is “Listen to Your Mother?” And although I clearly know what it is, I have the hardest time explaining it to others. I fumble for exactly the right words. How can I possibly explain this thing- this show- these stories- this heart? How can I do it justice with my simple words?
I, too, had those same questions when I first heard about it. I went to my computer and began to watch the videos, one after another, eating them up like candy. I couldn’t stop. First Jenny Lawson’s “Judgment, You’re Soaking in It,” then “Our Chair” by Krystin Johnson laughing because my own husband begs daily for a recliner. I watched “The Penis Whisperer” by Marianne Walsh. I watched “Fupa” by Laura McNeill. These stories made me laugh and cry and think. These stories changed me. I’m sure to my children I must have seemed crazy. Swollen eyes and makeup-stained cheeks laughing like a lunatic. I knew I had to be a part of this. I knew I needed to.
When I sent in my own story, I was on pins and needles waiting to hear back whether or not I would be chosen. Then I was chosen and met the others for the first time; I was on high waiting to hear their stories. We gathered in the director’s basement one day and read to one another. Intimately guarded and loaded with tissues, we waited. We all exposed our souls. Each story changed me. I saw myself in these thirteen other women. Each story could have been my own. There was something in each of them that I, too, owned. A thread, a commonality. It was not just being a woman, but being and having a mother. It was motherhood. Of course it was.
I don’t know if I can make you understand this bond. I don’t know if I can truly make you see how this changes you. Even those that I invited to the show last year came to see me after and with tears in their eyes thanked me and held me close. They finally understood only after having seen and heard the stories. Comments like, “I never expected it to be like this,” and “This was so amazing. I had no idea.” I got a lot of “Thank you so much for sharing this with me.”
I hope to share this with you. To pass on what I now know is sacred and beautiful and important. The STORY. I know that Molly Shalz reading “The Random Placement of People” made me a better person, opened my eyes to my surroundings, and caused me to look for the signs. I know that Greta Funk’s reading “The Wondering” made me hug my husband a thousand times harder after hearing it, made me love even his snoring. I know that Michelle Burdick reading “I Listened to All the Things She Never Said” made me think about and love my own treasure trove of tools paid for with tears and wounded heart. Every night when I tuck my kids into their beds and kiss them goodnight, Sarah Guthrie’s “The Best Thing I Have Done” rings away in my mind.
I know that after we share this show with you Kansas City, you will be changed. I know that if you submit and are chosen to read you will never be the same. I know that if you come and sit in the plush pink chairs at Unity Temple and open your ears and hearts you will be forever grateful and you will never be the same.
So there it is, that’s the show. The best I can do to make you understand what it is. So submit a story, buy a ticket, come and listen. LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER.