Heading West

I’m not really sure where home is or if it even exists for me. It’s a feeling, not a place. Places have too much darkness, too many cobwebs that keep you attached. And I’ve never wanted to be attached to many things.

But today marks a new journey. I say goodbye to a city, I’ve mostly felt indifference to. Charlotte is a fine place to live. What I’ll remember most has nothing to do with buildings or skylines. Rather I’ll remember the moments I spent with others, that were sometimes wonderful, sometimes devastating.

It’s not like I won’t be back. We have roots and family there. It’s not goodbye, just see you later. When we drove by the skyline this morning, I didn’t feel sad to leave. I felt like it was time.

But moving across the country has me equally excited and terrified. Sometimes you have to take a chance, but it’s not that easy. Just getting to this point of setting off has taken months of long days and nights. Sleep has been a luxury.

Here we are rolling down Interstate 40 with two dogs and a cat in a caravan of adventure. And I’m still half elated, half scared. I’m only human. I can’t be brave in every situation.

And, now the question, we’ve been asked every time, “Why Vegas?”

“Why not,” we say.

Part of it goes back to many years ago when I needed to make some kind of new tradition and ended up in Vegas on Christmas.

Vegas is bright and in your face, which is somewhat the opposite of me. But, you know what, there’s a lot beyond the 4.2 mile strip.

Even though, it’s one of the most visited cities in the world, the population is over 200,000 less than Charlotte. So, we are actually moving to a smaller city.

When we made the decision, it came down to several things, and it wasn’t our first choice. But it’s west—only hours from a bestie!

Plus, Real estate is affordable, there’s no state income, and we will have access to amazing shows, concerts, and food. Yes, it’s hot. But it’s hot in Charlotte. I’ll take the dry heat. First and foremost because my hair looks fantastic in dry versus the Medusa strands humidity creates.

I have no idea if Vegas will feel like home. I’m willing to give it a shot. No matter what, I’m glad now is when I decided to head west because I’m right next to the best thing that living in Charlotte gave to me. He’s an awesome partner to have the on this journey.

Stay posted for a new series of posts about what it’s really like to live in Vegas.

Are You Kind to Yourself?

As a woman, it can be very hard to answer yes to this question. We pick over every part of our appearance, every decision we make, every mistake we commit. It’s not an easy audience. And the negativity that goes on in my head every day is hurtful. It’s even physically detrimental. Research shows that the flight or fight response happens not only by exterior stressers but also internal.

As much as I like to believe I’m emotionally healthy, I’m not very nice to myself. I’m disgusted by what I see in the mirror. I cut myself no slack. I’ve had a hate/hate relationship with my body forever. But I’ve learned it goes farther than a bad self image. My therapist asked me to talk about my relationship with my body and where the disconnect is. It started from a young age. Some people who held prominent roles in my development were hyper critical. My mom wasn’t this way, at least not about my physical appearance,and I don’t recall that she ever said negative things about her looks. But my feelings go beyond being teased or belittled. My body didn’t feel mine. Because it was violated time and time again. I was sexually abused as a child and sexually assaulted as a teenager and woman. I gave no value to my body. It had already been taken away. On top of all this, my body has been sliced open multiple times. I still don’t want to look at my scars. They are physical and emotional. Skin heals. Hearts don’t.

So why in the world would I ever be okay with my body? Usually, I’d just try to “fix” it. Because I can project manage my way out of anything! Except I can’t. I’d love to be a comfort to myself instead of thorn. I just don’t know if I ever learned how to care for myself in this way.

However, it’s not just my body that gets the abuse. It’s everything. The dialogue in my head is that I haven’t accomplished enough. I’m not successful enough. I don’t work hard enough. Enough enough enough.

Nobody pushes me like I push me. I will say that my mom pushed. She saw potential in me to be something. How many four year olds talk about college? I did. My worth for so long has been tied to my academic and professional success. Those were things I could control somewhat. And so I’ve been micromanaging myself for some time. And I’m no fun to work for. I’m demanding and ridiculous. But there’s no way I could work any more than I already do. I’m at 16 hour days writing 5,000 to 7,000 words a day. I do have to sleep.

At the end of the day, I’d really like to be kinder. I don’t think I’m an a**hole or anything. I think I’m a decent person. I’m a productive person that pays taxes and mostly obeys the law. I don’t hurt others or animals. I try to have compassion. Just not for myself. I still think I should be a tough shell that allows little in; because if I’ve in any way shared my life with you then you’re in. But that circle is small. And shall remain this way.

In fact, I want to challenge myself to be my own friend. I want to exercise my heart and mind, and work on my emotional health. This is something neglected and even shameful. Why? Why can’t we embrace that our emotional health is just as important as the physical? We should stop relegating emotional well-being to the shadows. Bring it into the light. In the end, we get one chance at every day, shouldn’t we live it with honesty and humility? Being kind isn’t just something we should extend outwardly. It should live inside our own skin and thoughts.

So, lets all try to be kinder to ourselves and each other.

My Heart is Even Bigger Now

It’s been a few weeks since my last post. I hate it that it has. But I’ve been busy traveling – new blogs coming on that – and working so sometimes what I want to write doesn’t get written. But I’m always thinking and trying to come up with unique things to say or write about that might be of interest. This is just a quick musing on love, grief, sorrow and joy.


my heart is really bigger

I am different


Today, I am sharing a new poem. Poetry is a beautiful outlet to be honest and vulnerable without writing down your every thought. Thank you for reading.

As a child, I looked like everyone around me;
I was what many longed to be: fair skin, blonde hair, blue eyes.
In this sea of sameness, how could I know difference?
And even though the world has always been a collage of differences,
it has rarely felt that way.
Difference has never been as celebrated as sameness; isn’t sameness
some pathway to utopia?
If I am different than you because of exterior pieces, parts, bits, slices
I have no concern
Our blood is all red, our bones all white.
My concern is
the differences beneath
that make us see
the world so distinctly.

History has already been written and repeated, are we not any wiser?
But history or wisdom don’t fuel us now; it’s fear
But it’s always been fear – fight or flight –
The villain just keeps changing.
Maybe we’re the villain;
maybe we’ve never been united.
Maybe we were never great, at least not great for all of us,
Because you cannot give me a time of equal, of sameness bending into difference
A time when we were not sinners or evil or murderers or lesser than.

Standing on the shores of this land, what can we see? What’s in the clouds that make us chosen? And what do those on the other side see?
I am under no delusion that our ideals match our actions. And it did not start today, this has been burning for hundreds of years.
And why wouldn’t we want to lock our door? Not to keep out but to keep safe within.
Then the question comes, or surely will come one day – is it keeping out or keeping in?

As a child, my world was small.
I knew only what I was taught. I saw only what was like me. But I knew differences,
I knew fair skin, blonde hair, blue eyes were not everyone’s image.
And I grew and I traveled and I read and I learned.
And I experienced the worst of it all because differences don’t save you from pain.
I still have that fair skin, blonde hair, blue eyes. I’m still the image of sameness.
But I am roaring and pleading, I am different.


Today, a poem


I’m busy working on thoughts and ideas. Sometimes you have to walk away from what you are writing and come back to it. So today, a poem. I wrote this many years ago. It’s still one of my favorites. Never think that words aren’t powerful. They absolutely are. And don’t ever think that you can’t come back from something. You may just realize you have wings that work when you take that jump or leap.


I have this picture
You in that old olive recliner
Me poised on the arm.
We’re mirrored
From the green Izod shirts
To the blonde strands of hair.
It sits in a frame.
It hangs in my heart.
I remember you young & tan
Before too many things
Sank into your skin.
When I had pigtails
And called you mommy.
Maybe time fades pictures, curls their edges.
I’ve taken a million steps away
From that moment
It’s still clear, it’s still happening
Whenever I close my eyes.


Happily Unmarried?


Almost three years ago this guy said I love you, and I said thank you. I wrote about it, and the best part is it had a happy ending. Because I decided to not be afraid. I decided to take a leap even though that leap seemed like one only an adventurous frog could make. Let’s just say I’ve been successful at many things; relationships wasn’t one of them. This was different. I was different. He was different.

So we’re doing something I didn’t think I’d do again: getting married. I once said I was happily unmarried and that it wasn’t something that mattered to me. I still think marriage is just a societal norm and a legal transaction. I still think most people get married because they think they have to or they want a wedding. I had a wedding. It was beautiful. Everything planned very meticulously by me. A good marriage it did not yield. I do not regret it. It was what seemed right at the time.

Looking forward, I have no desire for a wedding. This time I’m more concerned about a marriage. Why did I change my mind? Why throw my ideas and convictions about marriage away? First, let me state I’m not against marriage. I believe any two people who are in love and want to share a life should have the opportunity to marry. I’ve witnessed many wonderful marriages. My grandparents were married for decades and seemed to always be blissfully happy. My Pop called my Granny sweet names like June Bug. They were a beautiful pair. They were so in love that even though my Pop passed 10 years before my Granny, she never even considered another man.

I also have many friends that have solid marriages. I was there for their weddings, watched them welcome children and continue to be happy and in love. How do I know they still like each other? I’ve seen them be affectionate, tease each other and laugh. Oh, and they haven’t killed each other yet. Their marriages have grown and changed over the years, but every good relationship should.

So why would someone who once said she was happily unmarried, change her mind. Well, I am a woman; we do change our minds. It honestly simply came because I want to call this incredible gift of a man my husband. I want to grow old with him and raise furry babies. Being his girlfriend just isn’t enough. Our decision to marry isn’t about anyone other than us.

I never really thought I’d find this kind of love. It wasn’t even anything I was seeking. It just kind of happened. I’ve never been happier, never had someone get me and more importantly be there when it mattered. In my life I’ve experienced so much pain and disappointment. Not with him. He’s a beautiful soul who always has a smile on his face. I’m a lucky girl and can’t wait to be his wife. I go into this with no delusions. I don’t think it will really change much between us. That’s hard to know. Life is unexpected. We really have nothing but this moment to be sure of; I don’t want to look back or look forward. I like being right where I am, and it’s sure nice to have someone I’m so sure of by my side.

He He Said, “I Love You.” I Said, “Thank You

I certainly hadn’t expected my boyfriend of only a few months to say those words. Obviously, I’m not the kind of woman who waits longingly to hear a pronouncement of love. I had in my life of numerous romances only said those words to four men; two of which I learned later were genuine.

But it freaked me out; yet he was so confident when he expressed his feelings and didn’t even flinch at my response. After he left, I found panic setting in; was it too soon or too honest? Suddenly, my airway seemed much smaller and breathing elusive. If he did really love me, what did this mean? Anyone saying those words to me has left me, hurt me, disappointed me. After all, I wasn’t even expecting this to be something this intense. I was still trying to figure out how to love me.

And then I remembered that in just a short time, he had been there for me, never being deterred by all my nifty defense mechanisms. He is a man that does what he says he’s going to do. He is a man that wants nothing more than to put a smile on my face. He is a man that writes me sweet notes and has never made me pump my own gas. He puts the dishes up and takes the dog out when it’s cold.

But as I thought back over all the moments we have shared, I also recalled how he was like no one I had dated before; he didn’t fit my list of what I thought I needed or wanted. This was a list I had used before, and we all know about the parade of losers that had somehow made it through with check marks. If you are a woman holding on to some magical list, throw it away. Degrees on walls don’t guarantee accountability or stability. Titles on business cards don’t indicate if a man will be there when your cat of 13 years has to be put down. A vase full of flowers doesn’t mean that he will listen when you talk or look you in the eye.

I spent most of my adult life with this ridiculous notion of what love is. But my actual experiences told me love was about pain, sacrifice and never being the most important thing.

Now I know it doesn’t have to be this way. I hadn’t exactly given up but was resigned to being alone. But then this wonderful thing happened, and that night when he said those words, I realized this was my chance; a really good chance to be happy.

So I did in the end say, “I love you.” And I’ve been saying it most every day since without hesitation.

“The Returned” – Read It

This is not a book for the casual reader or for someone who thinks James Patterson is a member of the literary elite. I found my way to “The Returned” after reading a review. I had just finished another summer selection “Sisterland,” which although well written was full of annoying characters that kept repeating themselves. I was thirsty for something a bit more magical, as I’ve always been easily pulled in by a great story with a supernatural current.

For a good part of the book, I was preoccupied with trying to determine the why and how of the dead returning. The dead in this book aren’t zombies or whatever came back after being buried in the Pet Cemetery. They were the same as the time of their deaths. They had memories and feelings and needs. The action shifts from the emotion of the families being reunited with the dead. Some people embracing them. Others believing they are evil. Then the camps begin springing up and the returned are imprisoned. At the core of the story is the return of Jacob, an eight year old, who drowned on his birthday 50 years before. His parents are now old and have spent the last 50 years surviving from day to day. The return of Jacob brings them both peace and torment. But it gives them time. Time they had both been wishing for since his death.

It wasn’t until the last part of the book as things descend into chaos that my feeling about the book changed. It wasn’t a book about the supernatural at all. It was about that hope that so many of us have in our heart, regardless of how much time passes. It’s that hope for one more moment with someone gone. Just to have an hour, a day, anything to say whatever needed to be said, ask those things that only they can answer, hear their voice, feel their embrace. This book so eloquently defines that aching anyone has ever lost someone they truly loved; an aching that never really subsides.

In the end, I don’t really know if it matters how or why the returned came back. Because I know if I woke up tomorrow to find my mom in my kitchen, my thoughts wouldn’t linger on the logistics or the science. I would just want to soak in her laugh and be glad to let her hold me as if I was a child. I would try hard to not look away not even blink so I could be reminded of everything I’ve ever forgotten in the last 16 years. I would let her calm and soothe every heartbreak since she’s been gone.

The power of words formed beautifully into stories have the ability to change your perspective or remind you of raw feelings still ever present. it’s not what I expected to be writing about on a Wednesday afternoon on an airplane. I was just caught up in a great story, hoping for a great twist or payoff in the end. What I got was a not so subtle reminder of what really matters in this life: to love and be loved, regardless of how much time we have.

Why Sara Bareilles is the Best Singer Songwriter You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

If you haven’t heard of her then you have probably heard her songs. “Love Song” and “King of Anything” were Top 40 hits. Although Sara doesn’t get the coverage of Katy Perry or Lady Gaga, she should. She has much more talent. She plays numerous instruments including the piano and guitar. She also writes all her songs. And her voice is both big and sweet. She doesn’t, however, dance or wear costumes. She does tell funny stories and drop a few f-bombs between songs. She’s the kind of performer that creates an intimate experience. Not a media circus.

I’ve listened to her albums relentlessly, looking for solace and inspiration in her songs. They have helped me heal and given me comfort. So much so I had a lyric from “Many the Mikes” tattooed on my back. Give these tunes a try. It might help you get over that hurdle or at least realize one’s there.

“Gravity” Little Voice – a spell bounding, piano solo. Her voice is enchanting. It’s a sadness we’ve all had. Sometimes love can’t hold us together. Sometimes love cages us. This beautiful, simple plea still holds my breath every time I hear it.

“Many the Miles” Little Voice – Having one of those days when you realize you should’ve never gotten up? This upbeat anthem makes me feel strong when I sing along. It’s about bringing yourself back and remembering “I’ve been given this one world, I won’t worry it away.” there are so many transcending and empowering lyrics. I feel brave and ready to keep fighting this eternal war we call life.

“City” Little Voice – This song is smart. It’s not the same old cliché. She commands on the piano and with her voice. She will make you listen to her. You want to; it’s a song that you don’t want to end. If you have ever needed something to hold on to, listen to this song.

“Gonna Get Over You” Kaleidoscope Heart – I love the snaps first of all. But the truth in the words is what really slays me. It really helped me feel like I was going to survive the break up. I knew I would eventually be alright but it didn’t have to be tonight. Sara was with me in the times that I thought I just might die of a broken heart. When I hear it now, it serves as a reminder that all these hurts and scars and pain make us who we are. You can come back from more than you thought possible.

“Hold My Heart” Kaleidoscope Heart – it reminds of a conversation many years ago with a man I loved. It wasn’t just a regular conversation. It was one that changed everything. He and I were not going to be. It was this ugly truth. Yes we loved each other but it wasn’t in the stars. Sara’s voice is so aching. I feel like my sorrow was intertwined into the DNA of this song. It somehow gives me closure to a long ago summer evening conversation that ended with us apart.

I’m still digesting her latest album, “The Blessed Unrest,” but here are my picks:

“Satellite Call” – The rhythm and beat imply the depth of this song. The echo changes Sara’s voice, but not in an auto-tune parody kind of way. She’s present in her songs and that causes me to be as well. Sometimes hearing a song can change the rest of your day. When I hear this one, I want to be a more connected person to my own experience.

“Little Black Dress” – Love the few notes that set off this sing along anthem. It’s what we all want to do “dance until you’re all gone.” Sara never feels sorry for herself, and she doesn’t want us to either. Because we can all put on our favorite song, sing defiantly and rise above whatever thinks it can keep us down.

“December” – I can only say that this is a month that I would rather skip. And this song captures that feeling in a cool, not too bleak way. Because it’s not like I can skip December. It comes every year and makes quite a big deal about itself. So maybe I feel a little be more ready for it when I hear this song.

So this has been my love letter, disguised cleverly as a blog entry, to Sara B. saying why she and her music mean so much to me.


I’m 35, Single and Not Freaking Out

Yes it’s true. I am an actual 35 year old, single woman who isn’t freaked out about it. Of course every rom-com movie and chick lit book, tells me the opposite. But my life is not a romantic comedy. Maybe a dark romantic comedy!

The point is that I’m single by choice. No one has broken up with me since I was 15.

I have several friends who are just now getting married, and I say – good move! Although I have other friends that married young and are surprisingly still happy. Not everything works the same for every one. I respect that yet some people seem almost horrified when I say marriage is not in my future. When I was married I felt like I was trapped. Yes a lot of that had to do with the fact that I married the wrong person, but I also think I’m too unconventional to be pressured by society norms.

Maybe the biggest reason I’m without worry is that I have not lost hope in love, which is saying a lot considering my long line of disastrous relationships: a liar, an alcoholic, a man with no backbone and one who always made sure he was the most important person to himself. Not that I’m perfect, but seriously if someone asked me my type, I would have said, “emotionally unavailable.”

But that’s not what I see in my future. I see the possibility of love. I’ve been in love twice in my life. My first love died several years ago, and I never got to say goodbye. The second one nearly killed me or at least my heart.

Lessons learned, right? I think so. The man in my life now has nothing but respect and affection for me. So yes I must be making better choices, but I still say no to another walk down the aisle. Because that’s not THE happy ending for me. I’ll make my own happy. No ending required.