Category Archives: celebrate life

Lessons in Compassion: A Weekend Experience In Three Parts.

It’s 2 am on Sunday night/Monday morning, depending on you schedule.As a chronic insomnia sufferer, I see this as Sunday night.  Your results may vary.

This weekend, I attended, in an official capacity, the Curve Nation Expo held in Orlando, Florida.  I was there along with the Editor in Chief of POSE Magazine, Tiffany Jones Keaton, as the media sponsors of the event.  When I got there Friday afternoon, the hotel check in was one big cluster f*ck.  Nothing major or radically life altering, mind you, just the silliness we have all experienced when checking into a hotel that is not necessarily prepared for a huge influx of customers ranging from your average traveler, to one of several family reunions in attendance, along with multiple conference attendees.  “Guaranteed” 4pm check in time at the International Palms Hotel and Conference Center in Orlando, Florida on International drive turned out to be more of a “suggested time” as opposed to a guaranteed time.  I didn’t get my room until 5 pm and due to lack of  communication by the staff, I was never called (as promised) by the front desk when my room was ready, nor did I get my luggage brought to my room until 6 pm.  Again, nothing earth shattering.  More of an annoyance if anything.  However, it seemed to foreshadow what would end up one of the worst experiences I’d ever had in any hotel in my 48 well-traveled years of life.

DISCLAIMER: I want to STRONGLY clarify that what you are about to read has NO REFLECTION on Curve Nation whatsoever. They are not responsible in the slightest for the events that unfolded. That blame is squarely on the hotel and hotel staff. The staff of Curve Nation are comprised of a group of AMAZING, caring and benevolent people who probably saved my life and my faith in human beings as a whole. This goes for the attendees of the expo as well.

I had a wonderful time Friday afternoon and Friday night, gathering with all these beautiful plus sized ladies and gentlemen.  I made some really great connections with fabulous people.  Numbers and hugs were freely exchanged during this early stage of weekend solidarity.  Vendors were shopped.  Glasses were raised.  Dancing and hilarity ensued and I was truly geared up for a weekend of not just work, but fun and friendship.  I was privy to watching these gorgeous women walk the runway, preparing for Saturday nights fashion show event.  I learned so much watching these confident beauties strut their stuff.  I was mentored by a woman who is a staple in the plus size pageant circuit. Ms Plus America 2004, Debbie Shannon, on how to walk for shows.  I got to engage with some of the models and we partied as though we have all known each other for years, because for many of us, we have known each other for years either as professionals or acquaintances on Facebook, Twitter and various other social media platforms.  Instagram memories were made and already, the promise of a fabulous weekend was in place.

Saturday morning, I attended a lecture by plus sized model,actress and event hostess Rosie Mercado, who shared with us her back story on all the trials and tribulations she went through before achieving the success and fame she has now.  I got to hug up on the Mogul Diva herself, Ms. Gwen DeVoe, Founder of Full Figured Fashion Week in NYC, who I had just interviewed for POSE Magazine only a couple of months earlier. (Click link to read the interview!)  She gave a fabulous seminar as well that had all of us laughing and raising our hands and voices in testimony.  I met amazingly talented photographers, bloggers, models and designers; all who embraced me immediately as the new Feature Editor of POSE Magazine.  I met the Double Divas themselves, Molly Hopkins and Cynthia Richards of LiviRae Lingerie.  You couldn’t ask for more down to earth people.  What you see on their television show is completely unscripted.  They are exactly who they are in real life.   And of course, the entire staff of Curve Nation, CEO Devine (who I stupidly referred to as “Dee-Vine” as opposed to “Dev-in-nay”, which is the correct pronunciation…proving that I, too, can be a real idiot on occasion) and his other staff members who were so gracious and wonderful hosts.

Basically, I was in plus sized heaven…until lunchtime.

Saturday afternoons horror story began with a simple text from Tiffany that merely said, “lunch!”  Yes.  Downtime.  We were going to have a break.  A lovely buffet was set out and of course, I partook.  The food was unmarked…meaning, there was no explanation of what each food item was, let alone a description of ingredients.  Having severe food allergies, I inquired if anything contained nuts, specifically, a pasta dish which looked to me to be penne pasta with an alfredo sauce.  A woman behind me inquired of one of the bus boys who was bringing out the dishes, what each item was.  I eavesdropped cautiously, listening to him tell her what the items were.  I even forewarned another woman that I knew had a shellfish allergy, that I had heard the stuffed mushrooms contained crab meat and told her to forego that dish.  But, when I went to help myself to some pasta alfredo, I noticed that there was what resembled perhaps minced garlic in the pasta.  I asked the busboy, what is in this dish.  He said, “pasta and cheese”.  The woman behind me said, are there nuts in that?  Of course, I listened attentively.  “No, no.  No nuts.  Pasta and cheese.”  Okay.  So I took a scoop and proceeded to join Tiffany in the banquet room with several other conference attendees and some staff of Curve Nation.  I took a bite of this dish and instantly, I felt that old familiar itching in my throat that I feel when I come in contact with an allergen.  I drank a sip of water after swallowing the food…and felt fine for the moment.  Then, I took another bite, just as my throat started to close.  I immediately whispered, hoarsely to Tiffany…”Nuts.  Are there nuts?”  That’s all I could manage as a spit that second bite out of my mouth, drank some water that barely got down my throat.  The wheezing began.  I felt light headed, faint, dizzy.  My body started to get covered in big red hives.  I pulled out my epi pen (never without it!) and my inhaler.  Immediately, the women around me recognized I was in serious trouble.

Each woman at that table, under Tiffany’s cool and calm delegation ran for specific things.  One woman, Talya, ran for ice water and ice.  Another ran for the hotel manager.  A third ran to her room for HER epi pen (should I need a second dose), another still ran for some Claritin and another still (whom I believe was Devine’s mother) ran to locate some Benadryl.  A fifth woman ran to find out what exactly was in the food I ate as different allergies need to be treated specifically.  As I was slowly losing the ability to breath at all, a man came in and the women all shouted, FIND HER SOME BENADRYL QUICKLY!  He ran out, well, rather, walked out…and came back shortly empty handed.  “We don’t have any benadryl.”  Simultaneously, the group of women screamed at him, “YOU HAVE A GIFT SHOP!  GET HER SOME DAMN BENADRYL FROM THE GIFT SHOP.”  He disappeared again.   The rest of that moment was a blur to me.  I was losing the ability to breath rapidly.  My eyes were swelling shut.  My lips were bloating to Angelina Jolie proportions.  What I do remember is Devine’s mother grabbing whatever packet of Benadryl this man finally did retrieve out of his hand and running it to me, quite irritated by this man’s lack of urgency.  The Benadryl packet was expired, but I took them anyway.  At this point, the front desk manager, Sarah, came in…again, the same lack of urgency, casually saying, “Someone told me that someone can’t breathe in here?  What’s going on?”

At this point, Tiffany (Tip) took over and demanded to know who Sarah’s boss was and to get them on the phone RIGHT NOW as they really dropped the ball allowing this young woman, the front desk manager, to be in charge of the entire hotel while the general managers were no where to be found.  I didn’t get to hear all of the conversation as I was in and out of a state of awareness, but I do know that Tip gave her a very calm but extremely firm mouthful about how this entire situation was handled, rather, a lack thereof.

NOBODY called 911.  No one.  This was the STAFF’S responsibility as the women were far too busy taking immediate care of my situation, placing ice packs on my swelling throat, dispensing my medications, retrieving my inhaler, trying to keep my calm.  When Sarah DID return, it was with a lecture on how they are not allowed to dispense medications to the customers.  Honey, no one asked you to dispense…we just asked you to GET SOME.  However, what she DID manage to do was hand me an incident report form and casually stating that I would need to fill this out.  Sister, I’m dying in front of your eyes.  Are you seriously handing me a FORM to fill out?   The chef never came in to tell us what the allergen in the food was.  The busboys proceeded to bus all the tables surrounding us, but never once coming to where we were to offer cold water, a cool rag, ice packs, SOMETHING???   The lack of compassion from this hotel was abhorrent.  2 hours later, my wheezing had stopped.  At some point, the members of Curve Nation’s team had located two nurses who happened to be attending the conference.  These women stayed with me the entire time, keeping a watchful eye on my breathing, my swollen face, my ability to speak, etc.  They regaled me with funny stories to keep me calm.  Other people from the conference came back often to check on me.  I was feeling better, although my left eye looked like I had taken a punch to the face from Mike Tyson.

swollen eye

However, I attempted to be a trooper and try to attend the 3 pm conference given by blogger Kelly Glover of “Big Curvy Love”. (If you aren’t reading her blog, you should be. She’s HILARIOUS!)  By midway through her conference, I started to feel sick again so I left.  I went to the front desk to speak with Sarah and tell her how disappointed I was that NO ONE from the hotel staff seemed remotely concerned that one of their customers nearly dropped dead in their banquet hall and that her show of concern merely consisted of making sure I filled out a liability and insurance form.  At the moment I approached the desk, she was apparently giving report to the night manager, Kenny.  The look of alarm on his face when he saw mine immediately gave me the impression that had HE been in charge during the day, I would have been substantially better cared for.

Her reply to me was “Well, you were definitely a learning curve for us.  Next time, we will do much better.”

NEXT TIME????

My reply?  “Is that what you think I want to hear?  How NEXT TIME you will do better?  How about, labeling the food that it may contain nuts or other allergens?  How about, when you ask kitchen staff if there are nuts in a meal, that they know to ask the CHEF who made it, instead of just asserting that it was just “pasta and cheese”?  How about the bartenders who were standing RIGHT THERE offer me a bottle of water?  How about you doing something more than handing me an insurance claim form?  How about the fact that it takes merely common sense to know that you should call 911 immediately, ask questions later.  My 5 year old granddaughter could handle that?  How about you show some concern and stay in the room, at very least?”

She replies, “Well, what can we do to make you more comfortable now?”

“Well, for starters? You could have asked that question about 3 hours ago.”

The conversation was going no where very quickly…and I recognized that.  This girl could give Malificent a run for her money when it comes to being an ice queen.  Not an ounce of compassion.  Nothing but a big wide eyed stare at me.  At this point, Mr. Kenny, the night manager about to adopt this nonsense into his lap looked at her and said, “Well, it’s not much at this point, but perhaps we can offer Ms. Cher for her stay to be comped.  Ma’am, is there ANYTHING else I can do for you, right now?  Some cold water?  Some food?  What can we do for you?”

I thanked him, profusely, for even the gesture…and let Sarah know, these are the things you say to someone who has just been through a very traumatic experience under your leadership in this hotel.  No, I don’t need anything else, but I truly appreciate that you asked me.

From there, I went to the hotel gift shop to purchase eye drops, Benadryl (the non expired sort) and a box of Claritin.  I paid the $40 in medication and as I was walking out, Mr. Kenny was walking past.  He said to me, “did you need something?  I am so sorry about this.  I am so sorry no one took care of you.”  His eyes showed nothing but compassion and concern.  This lifted me tremendously.  I told him, no, I’m okay now…I just went to go buy some medicine so I have it upstairs with me, in case I have trouble later.  He looked genuinely appalled that I had purchased all this medication on my own dime and said, let’s give that receipt to Sarah for reimbursement.  There is no reason that our hotel caused this to happen to you and you should be responsible for these purchases.  Again, money can’t fix it…but the GESTURE in compassion once more lifted me.  

Around 6 pm, I started to get up from a nap, only to realize I was experiencing what is known as biphasic anaphylaxis, which means, my symptoms had actively started up again.  Now, both eyes were swollen shut.  I was wheezing profusely again.  I attempted valiantly to try to get dressed to fulfill my obligations to Tip to be there as her social media person and get to the Fashion Show to do my job.  By 7:30 when the show started, I had to admit defeat. I just couldn’t do it.  My feet were so swollen I could barely walk.  My eyes were slammed shut.  Every move I had made to dress caused my respiration to slow down again.  I took some more Benadryl, some Claritin, readied my second epipen just in case, put drops in my eyes and sent Tip a voice mail apologizing profusely that I simply could not be there.  Again, she was understanding, loving and told me to rest…but please, if my symptoms got worse, get myself to a hospital and text her that I was going.  I went to sleep.

At 10 pm, I heard a knock on my door.  Tip had gotten locked out of her room, her phone was dead, she needed her charger to continue working and photographing the fashion show (my JOB!) but her key card was not working.  The engineers could not get into her room.  Our room in the tower suite was very far from the main building where the new key cards could be made, but even after the engineer showed up with a new key card, she was still unable to get in.  I gave her my cellphone and told her, just go back to the fashion show.  I will wait her until your door gets opened, get your charger, charge your phone up for you.  When it’s done, I will get it to you.  I waited outside her room for an additional 20 minutes beyond the 20 minutes that SHE was waiting for someone to show up and let her into her room.  Mr. Kenny ended up showing up at her room and looked perplexed at what I was doing there.  I explained what happened.  He looked so visibly upset that this new situation involved me as well…that I tried to put him at ease by making a joke.

“You know, out of ALL the people staying in this hotel…you guys managed to knock out the only TWO people who were here in an official media sponsor capacity for this fashion show.  You really should have been in Vegas this weekend, Kenny, because those are some CRAZY odds.”

Despite himself, he laughed.  Shortly after I got Tip’s phone running, Mr. Kenny returned to my room at the behest of my husband who called the front desk from Tampa (he had to work over the weekend and could not attend the conference with me) asking him to please, send up some ice water to my room.  Not only did he show up with the ice water, but also with a bucket of ice and a turkey sandwich that he assured me was prepared by his own hands, NOT in the banquet hall’s kitchen, but rather, in the deli area, safely away from any cross contaminates that could have harmed me.  I was so grateful, that I think I probably would have cried (mind you, I had not eaten a THING but those two deadly bites of pasta, one which never even made it to my stomach) had my eyes not been swollen shut.  I told him, “You know, on Monday, I am going to read the General Manager of this hotel the riot act for what happened here, but, that said?  I am going to sing your praises so loudly because out of everyone in this entire hotel…YOU were the only one who showed me an ounce of compassion.  And, you weren’t even here when this happened.  I appreciate you so much, Kenny.  I really do.”

There was a moment.  A palpable moment that you could feel between two human beings, strangers, who genuinely were concerned with each other.  He, for my health.  Me, for his job…as it seemed so inherently unfair that he adopted any of this situation at all because Sarah had dropped the ball.

Part two of this story?  The manager above Sarah, but below the GM, Vicky, comes to my room for a conference at the behest of Tip.  She said, “You know, you owe my friend Cher and her husband an explanation as to WHY these events unfolded the way they did.  You owe that to her, her husband and her children.  They almost lost her.”

The statement Vicky makes in front of us at that point will make your jaw drop.

To be continued in “Lessons of Compassion Part Two: More than Words”.

Stay tuned.

2014: A Brand New Year.

If you noticed, I did not blog throughout the entire year of 2013.

Mainly because, 2013 was a pretty horrible year for me personally, professionally and every other way, shape and form.

While there were some definite bright spots, like renewing my vows (twice!) in both Las Vegas and in Mexico,or spending my granddaughter’s 5th birthday in Disney, there were far more dark patches; times that I really didn’t think that I would make it through the remainder of the year without some serious professional intervention.

My personal health was poor throughout this year, and it made matters so much worse.  Anything you go through in your life seems far more trying when your health is not where it should be.  My stellar marriage was put through some incredibly trying times.  Relationships with family members worsened and in some cases, deteriorated altogether.  I feel like I spent most of 2013 in tears.  In short, things were hard.

And on the precipice of this brand new year, they are still…well, hard.

My best course of therapy has always been to turn to my writing.  It’s saved me through some of the most torrid times of my life.  Just to be able to achieve that sweet release of putting thoughts to “paper” has always managed to help me put things into perspective.  But, this year, the strength to even turn to my blog did not come.  A year long case of writers block caused by being in the throes of some of the deepest, darkest depression I have ever experienced.

People do not understand how seemingly happy people can be “depressed”.  If you sorted through my facebook photos from this past year, you would see dozens of “happy” photos of me, smiling brightly for the camera.  But, what you do not see are the seconds before the photo and the hours afterward.  Smiling on command is easy and that is what the camera captures.  But if we had the ability to see what takes place the second before or the seconds after the photo is taken, you would see the smile fall away just as quickly as it appeared.  Again, not saying there were not moments of genuine happiness, but in 2013, they were few and far between.

I think, if I were to be honest, I spent most of 2013 curled up in a fetal position in my bed.  Too exhausted to face the day, too tired to cry.  And when you are just too tired to even cry, that’s when depression is at its worst.  I find a good, hard cry to be cathartic.  It cleanses the soul, erases some of the negativity by releasing the pain and makes room for new, perhaps better emotions to seep into the soul.  But when you just cannot cry, when the pain of life is so overwhelming that you cannot even produce tears…when the thought of crying exhausts you, there is a problem.  Usually a problem that is much bigger than you are.

In 2013, the problem was not only bigger than I was, it hovered over me like a large, black winged bird, casting a shadow upon me.  I went many days without showering.  I would stay in bed for days straight, scarcely exiting my room.  I would stare into the television set, enthralled with nothing; just an empty vessel waiting to be filled with something, anything.  I can’t tell you much about what I did in 2013.  I rely heavily on my Facebook timeline to remind me, but there’s a problem with that.  The problem being, I fooled myself with many statuses on there in order to fool the rest of the world.  I couldn’t have the world knowing how I was struggling with my depression.  The world, my friends en masse, they expect me to be funny, charming, irreverent.  Somehow, I managed to keep up that persona, or rather, facade, on my statuses.  But with every “LMAO” I posted, I assure you, there was very little laughing being done, let alone laughter that would remove my ass from my body.  I would type statuses, replies, comments with the same blank look on my face that I reserved for the television set.  I would appear interested and engaged when in reality, I could not care less about most of what I was writing.

Trying to keep up appearances became exhausting, hurling me into a far darker place than I had previously been, until in mid August, just before my birthday, I melted down altogether.  I wanted out.  Out of my family, out of my friendships, out of my marriage, out of my house, out of my bed, out of my job, out of my life.  Ideally, I just wanted to be left alone to rot.  For anyone who has ever experienced depression, you know that loneliness is the devil at work.

But, this is not where I am heading in 2014.  I am not over the depression.  Not by a long shot.  It’s plagued me all my life and I doubt sincerely, that it will take leave any time soon.  However, I am actively involved in making sure that I don’t spend 2014 with the blankets pulled up over my head.  I am in the process of healing the pain that encompasses me.  I have rid myself of the toxic people in my life who won’t allow me to breathe normally.  For those I cannot rid myself of, I have opted to ration my time carefully, wholly in consideration of my mental health.  You can have 15 minutes of me a week, nothing more.  The pain I experience physically, I am finally putting myself under the knife to heal.

Basically, I am not giving away another year of my precious life to this monster that is seeking to consume me.  I know it will be challenging, but it’s important that I remember 2013 as the year that almost did me in.  I am not a victim.  I will never be a victim.   I don’t want pity, not even empathy.  I just want another opportunity to ensure that I won’t be a statistic. I don’t want to fall prey to my long standing depression.  I don’t want to wallow in those deep waters any longer.  I have plenty to be grateful for.  I have healthy, happy, beautiful children and grandchildren.  I have a husband who truly loves me and wants me to get better and is willing to support me on that journey.  I have friends who are compassionate and caring.  I have a talent that not only earns me a living, but heals me in the process.

There is so much for me to live for and in that instance, I am richer than most.

My excuses have worn thin.  The time for denying my reality has come to a close.  I am not going to be a living dead girl for another year.  I have to be an active participant in making sure that I do not die.  Not a physical death, but rather, an emotional one…which I find to be worse.  A physical death. It’s easy.  Anyone can do that.  Suicide is never an option.  Not for me at least.  It’s too easy to make the choice to check out.  As the great Annie Lennox once opined, “dying is easy, it’s living that scares me to death”.  Living is harder, but the rewards of doing so are far greater.  With every sunrise comes the ability to change the course of your life.

I am not saying that it will come easy, nor am I saying I will be successful at it.  I am positive I will have days where pulling myself from my bed will be a hardship for me.  I am sure that there are days I will fail miserably.  But, I am also positive that, if I push myself, I will be able to rise to the challenge.   Mistakes quickly become regrets, but I will not punish myself for those.  I have been hard enough on myself…harder than any of you could ever be on me.

So, on this, the eve of my surgery, I am making myself the promise to try a little harder.

I give so much of myself to everyone in my life.  Why am I so reticent to do for myself what I do for others?  Am I undeserving?  Am I not valuable enough?  Not worthy?  Of course not.

Here’s my fresh new perspective on the matter:

Inside all of us, there is a child.  We all have that inner child.   It’s the one who laughs at inappropriate times.  The one who looks over at a set of swings while you are in high heels and an evening gown and decides that running over to the playground would be a blast.  The child who starts a food fight in the middle of Denny’s at one o’clock in the morning over pancakes.  The same one who secretly watches old 80’s cartoons on Saturday mornings, cross legged on the floor in pajamas.  But, it’s also the same one who cries when they are hurt.  It’s the same child who desperately needs a hug when they are inconsolable.  It’s that same child who begs for forgiveness when they have done wrong.

And I am the mother of this inner child.  She is me.  I am her.  It is my duty, obligation, desire to take care of her as surely as I would take care of my own children.  I would do anything for my children.  I would die for them.  I would give my last breath for them.  So, why not that inner child?  Why not give my last breath to fight for that little girl within me who is suffering and struggling?  Why not nurture her and love her the way she deserves?  Why would I leave her alone, abandoned, needing and desperately wanting?

She needs me as surely as I need her.

So, for 2014, I promise to be a better mother.  Not only to my children I have given birth to, but to the little girl inside of me.  It is my job to heal her and in turn, heal myself.  I will hold her when she needs to be held.  I will kiss her tears away when she cries.  I will wake her with a gentle hug at the start of her day and lay her down, bundled in warmth and affection when it is time for sleep.  I will rouse her from the nightmares that plague her and remind her, I am here.  Shhhh…I am here.  Nothing is going to happen to you, sweet girl…because I am here.  I will give her daily affirmations of how beautiful she is, how smart she is.  I will feed not just her belly, but her soul.  I will set her free to play, but keep an ever watchful eye on her, keeping her safe from harm, from all the dangers lurking in this world.  I will protect her from the bullies on the playground of life.  I will not abandon her when she needs me most.  I will be the mother to her that I never had in my own life.  

She will be loved.

All I can ask is that she forgive me the first 40+ years that I did not realize I had left her alone.

She is me.  I am her.  And in this knowledge, I am comforted, for I know she is a forgiving soul and will allow me back into her life.

Only this time, I will do things the right way.  And she will flourish.  She will grow.

And someday, under my guidance and with my unrequited love, she will heal.

She deserves that.  We both do.

Focus 52: Shadows

I love make up.

I am a girly girl who lives and dies for the sparkle, the shimmer, the gloss, the gleam, the bling, the shiny and all things that are wonderfully and magically feminine.

Lately, I haven’t been feeling so girly.

Since my hysterectomy, it has been hard for me to jump back on the “Sparkle Wagon” as I call it and make myself fabulous.  It’s been a real struggle. A chore for me.  Even showering is a process.  Bending over to shave my legs is a true production as I can feel the incisions in my abdomen tugging hard to the point where they feel like they are going to snap.  Showering usually exhausts me to the point where I don’t feel like going out any longer.

The other day, in the mail, one of my dear friends, a fellow blogger who shares my love of all things make up, sent me a pallet of eye shadows, cheek tints and a nude lip gloss.  Just something to brighten my day and make me feel “gorg” (as she put it) after all the shit I have been through as of late.  Well, I played with those eye shadows in a gazillion different color combinations on my arm til it looked like one big long bruise.

You know, when a bruise is healing?  All those crazy colors; purples, yellows, greens, blues, blacks.

And when I realized that, I scrubbed my arm clean.  It brought me back to a time in my life where I had to rely on cover up, thick, copious amounts of cover up, to cover up bruises that were given to me by someone who claimed they loved me.  As I was washing off my arm, still staring at these glorious eye shadows, I wondered why…why would I be thinking about something so terrible out of nowhere when just five minutes earlier, I was in girly girl heaven?

Then, I realized.  20 years.  This November will be 20 years since someone tried to end my existence on this planet.  20 years since someone beat me into a coma with a baseball bat in front of my 4 year old daughter.  20 years since doctors told my parents that I may not come back from this and if I do, I will probably have severe brain damage for the rest of my life.  The “anniversary”, if you will, of one of the worst moments of my entire life.  I suppose it had been brewing just under the surface in me for awhile.  The night before receiving this wonderful present from my friend, I had had a very restless sleep.  At one point, my husband had to wake me, because not only had my sleep been fitful, but apparently at one point, I ended up flailing about, punching him violently and screaming for whomever I was dreaming about to “leave me alone, leave me alone…stop!”  My husband shook me awake.  “It’s me, baby…it’s me,” he said as he slowly brought me out of my tortured slumber and back into reality.  I stared at him for a minute, still confused and somewhat dazed.

“It’s me,” he said again, softly.

“Okay,” I nodded, understanding that he was reassuring me that I was safe.  “Okay.”

I curled back up on his chest and went back to sleep.

It’s peculiar to me that even 20 years later, the silliest of things can trigger me.  A certain scent.  The sound of a man’s voice when it is particularly gruff and laden heavily with a thick, italian accent.  There are specific sounds that make me jittery, like the sounds of footsteps on a wooden floor, especially if that wood floor creaks.  There are certain actors I can’t watch on TV or in the movies who remind me of my abuser and even if the movie is supposedly “sooooooooooo good,” I will still avoid it like the plague.

The day after I got my friends gift, I went back into my bathroom, and played in front of my mirror again, combining golds with peacock blues and and lush, rich purple shadows.  And it became fun again.  The joy was restored because those other shadows, the kind that hover over you and wake you from restful slumber…the kind that haunt your thoughts and dreams, the kinds that are long, tall and ominous?  They eventually go away.  And they are replaced by 16 pots of beautiful eye shadows sent with love from a gret friend.  A silly soap opera palette called “The Balm and the Beautiful”…with names like “The Other Woman”, “The Drama Queen” and my personal favorite, “The Perfect Man.”

However, I think I will steer clear of the one called “The Coma Patient” for a little while.

Hits a little too close to home.  😉

Because she needs to know…

Because she has rescued my weakened psyche more times than I can count.
Because she has reached out to me when everyone else has turned their backs.
Because she knows my heart better from 2500 miles away than some people who are right next to me.
Because she understands me, even when I don’t.
Because she makes me throw my head back and laugh.
Because she keeps secrets.
Because she is painfully and brutally honest with me, even when I beg for a lie.
Because she protects me.
Because she gives me advice, unsolicited or not, and I can take it…or not.  And it doesn’t matter.
Because I can give her advice, unsolicited or not, and she can take it…or not.  And it doesn’t matter.
Because she is one of the handful of people I can rely on.
Because she doesn’t let me fall off the deep end without standing close by with a life preserver.
Because I can talk to her any time of day or night and know that I am a welcomed presence.
Because, despite having green eyes, she never looks at me with jealousy.
Because she knows the difference between jealousy and envy…and lets me be envious of her thin bod.
Because she is the only blond I simply cannot make fun of.
Because I like her 95% of the time and the other 5% I forgive her.
Because she likes me 5% of the time and the other 95% she is laughing at me.
Because she knows that orange pants automatically make you a loser.
Because she needs to know that she gets thought of at least once a day by me.
Because I think she is a level of controlled awesome and Canadian coolness that I could never achieve.
Because she needs to know I admire her and always have.
Because she needs to know that the sun has shone a bit warmer since her presence in my life.
Because she needs to know that she’s one of my favorite people in the world.
Because she needs to know…that she is a friend in every sense of the word.
Because she needs to know that I’m not ready to let her go any where.
Because we have a date in 2016.
Because she needs to know…she is loved.

And she always will be.

I love you, J.  Holding your hand across the miles.  Right there with you.  Never letting go.

Ever. 

Focus 52: "Mornings"

I hate mornings.

I detest mornings.  I am an insomniac, so I am all too familiar with the concept of being up at a sunrise.  Every morning, the sun rises, reminding me that for yet another night…I have not slept.  It is torture to me.  I am not the type of person who welcomes the sun with a cup of coffee and a positive attitude.  The sunrise says to me, “you are already several hours behind the pack, girlfriend.”  It says to me that it is now time for me to go to sleep, finally, and waste a good portion of the day.  By the time I wake up again, it will be about 3pm.  Too late to do any thing productive.  Generally, I fall asleep around noon, wake up late afternoon and by then, life has pretty much passed me by.  I resent the morning a great deal.  It bothers me.  And, no sooner did I see the sunrise, then I am waking up with a sunset looming only a mere three hours away. 

I loathe mornings. 

However, the only time I make peace with the morning light is when I am at the beach.  When I am on the beach, I don’t feel so much animosity towards the sunrise.  I appreciate it then…because the water is glimmering.  There are people on the shore, starting their day and admiring the sunshine.  Generally, these people have had a good nights sleep and are happy to see the sunshine…and I look at their faces with great appreciation for what they are feeling.  I know at that point…I can lay a blanket out on the sand, fall asleep under the sun, wake up in the late afternoon as I usually do and feel like I spent the day at the beach doing what everyone else is doing.  Lazing about just soaking in the sun.  It’s okay then, to greet the morning.  It doesn’t mock me so much when I am on the beach.  I don’t feel bad about having an insane sleep schedule.  I don’t hate the fact that I woke up so late in the day, because when you are on the beach…sleeping until the late afternoon is not only acceptable, it’s welcomed.

But, in my daily world…I hate mornings.  They remind me of just how much of my life I am wasting fighting with my body’s internal clock.  And it’s a waste of time.  A complete and utter waste of time.  It makes me feel bad about myself.  I hate feeling that way.  My sleep pattern has been erratic since I am a little girl.  Sometimes, I don’t sleep for two or three days and when I finally do, it is because the sun has risen and said to me…don’t you think it’s time to go to bed? 

And I always agree…and go to bed. 

I feel comfortable at night.  There is something about being awake all night long when most of the world is asleep that brings me comfort.  I can be alone in the silence and it is alright. I don’t have to talk to any one. I don’t have to answer to any one.  I don’t have to get dressed.  I don’t have to wash my face, brush my teeth and go out and run pretend errands that do not exist.  I can just sit quietly in the soft glow of my computer and do my thing.  Read.  Study.  Write letters.  Watch mindless television programs.  My DVR is filled with television programs that air during the daylight hours that I can watch at night.  Sometimes, I do. Sometimes, I don’t.  But at night, everything is my prerogative. 

Besides, everyone knows calories consumed after sunset don’t stay on the body.

I hate mornings.  I hate everything about them. 

And just when I decide to break up with them for good, my husband takes me to the beach and reminds me why it is okay to fall in love all over again.

It’s okay to cheat on a sunset, now and then.