Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Eve Before The Eve

It's 2:30 in the morning and the sound of thunder rolling in doesn't seem to lull me to sleep.

The truth is, I'm not fighting it. I think somewhere deep down inside of me, I am savoring what is left of one of the best years of my life. Think about it: I'm in a cabin over looking a beautiful pond, with the rain pounding a tin roof, with the man I love just in the other room. I'm sitting here in the living room, with my new laptop he bought, and just loving my life.

I assure you, I don't mean any of this in a boastful way. I'm just happy. Flaws and all.

I think now is the perfect time to set some intentions for 2016.

For one, and this is going to be a super tough one, I am disconnecting a little in the new year. Not here, mind you. But definitely on Facebook. I think any random thoughts that come to my mind are just fine to be shared here in a daily post. As for my page, I'll post from time to time, or maybe even just once a day - but for the most part, this and instagram is where you will find me. I want to keep some of my more precious moments for people who genuinely want to know what is going on with me. I think sometimes FB is a cheap substitute for friends keeping up with friends. Big news I see sharing, but some random stuff, maybe less?

Speaking of instagram - I want to participate in the 1 picture a day for 365 days. I want to share that significant moment in a single pic each day! I like the challenge!

Health is always a must for any new years intention. Continue on with my Weight Watchers and increase my gym time (BTW - I fell off of the wagon.)

I also want to cut down on the tv shows and increase my reading. I bought abut 20 books to get me started! Old fashioned books, not downloads for my Kindle. However, my non fiction/inspirational books are all downloaded. (A variety for me to read.)

I think I'm going to stop there. Disconnect a little online (outside of my two loves: Photos and writing,) read more, and continue to follow the healthier lifestyle path.

Sound like a plan?

On this New Year's Eve Eve, I invite you to set your intentions for 2016. Don't over do it. Pick two or three things and go for it!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Merry Christmas and All That Jazz

Merry Christmas! We made it through yet another holiday season, fairly unscathed!

I have to admit, I really had a wonderful holiday. Between spending time with my family, going to church on Christmas Eve, and then wrapping it up out at the farm with my S.G., everything went swimmingly!

Guess what I am typing this on? My brand new laptop bought by my guy! Whether you know it or not, my personal laptop that just about every post has been written on since the beginning of my blogging days died a year ago. Perhaps now I will spend a little more time spreading my dribble to your news feed.

Back to Christmas...

I made a point (right after Thanksgiving) to have the Best Advent Ever! (and I did!) I followed two different Advent devotions and made a point to read them, watch the videos, and I even bought the book that went with one. It's a new liturgical year, and according to Pope Francis, it is the Year of Mercy. I am working on incorporating acts of mercy into my day to day activities. Not an easy task, I tell you!


On Christmas Eve, my SG drove up from the farm and joined me at my sister's home. We spent that afternoon consuming some yummy Chinese Food and simply relaxing. Later, we drove to my parent's home and opened presents and had a delicious dinner with my people. Simply a lovely time! SG really was spoiled by my parents with some great gifts! 

We made it back to my house to prepare for that night. I took him to my church for Midnight Mass. 

We gathered there at 10:30 that night and did not leave until 1:30 that morning! Drove back to my house, slept like logs, and got up and drove down to SG's house.

Another great dinner followed by more presents and something called Christmas CRACK!! (Google it.. you'll love it.)




I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and I'm sure I will have better stuff much, much later!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Too Blessed to be Stressed and other figures of speech I detest.

But the truth is:

It appears the blessings are just pouring out.

#BESTADVENTEVER

Well.. let me back up.

I'm BUSY. We are all. But I've made a point to truly say yes to the season and make the best of it.

I think the karma points are adding up! Let's just say today could have turned into a tremendous issue (car wise,) but not only did it work out, it was free. But that's for another day.

Now what have I been doing?

Well...


This is where I work. It's the Cannonball House, a historic house museum and I happen to be the Executive Director. As with all beautiful homes, the holidays draw tourists from all over. That translates into hours of decorating by volunteers and staff. 



Once that was finished, we decided to throw a Christmas party. It was a Turn of the Century Christmas (as in 1900s) and we had a pretty decent turn out.


Of course I selected my faves - Snickerdoodles and Gingerbread men!
I even spent some time with my dearest guy friends and their dates. We had a lovely dinner at Parrish and a great evening of Bourbon and Gin cocktails at the Bourbon Bar in downtown Macon.



I made time to visit my one of my favorite galleries for holiday shopping - Macon Arts Alliance's shop. I even enjoyed watching the glassblowing demonstration. It was really cool: You could select your sand/colors, put into a container, turn it into the guy and he would blow your glass ornament for you right there. Very cool!


One of my dearest friends moved into an amazing loft in downtown Macon. I had to stop by and see all of his amazing Christmas trees!
I even attended an art exhibit that was also a salute to Star Wars at the SoChi gallery in downtown.




Then, as always, I had to throw a kick ass tea party at the museum. It was well attended!


And just last Saturday night I celebrated the 7th night of Chanukah with one of my Jewish friends. We ate beef brisket, lit the menorah and played spin the dreidel!



To wrap up the past week, I even attended the Jones County Christmas Parade in the tiny community of Gray!

I hope you holiday season is just as full as mine. Say yes to the invitations, stop by the parties, get lost in the crowds at the mall. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!


Friday, December 11, 2015

Things I've Learned This Week

Remember this?

Here we go:

1. That cutting carbs is the only way to real weight loss for me. Apparently Weight Watchers agrees. I went to input my numbers on Monday and the app had changed to a whole new system with new points and everything. More protein and less sugar is what they want. Yes is the answer. It works.

2. I am a planner up to a point. I hate flying by the seat of my pants, but I really hate not following through. If I make plans, I have to keep it simple. Period.

3. I am still sensitive to folks bashing Muslims. I suppose my exposure to that way of life is deeply ingrained in me and it is what it is. I deleted 4 people from Facebook this week.

4. I need a REAL vacation. It's time to get away. I'm tired.

5. I love cheese.
No seriously.
I have to eat cheese every day.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

An Open Letter To Those Who Hate and Are Hated

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

When I ask someone why they don't like a certain thing, I often hear about a negative experience they may have had.

For instance, playing softball.

I, for one, will not play it to this day. All because I had a bad experience. It was the 5th grade and I was at Union Elementary School here in Macon. It was PE class, and Mr. Campbell was teaching the little 9 and 10 years olds how to play baseball. I was on 1st Base. Jeremy Braswell (who would go on to play baseball (for real, for real.)) threw the ball to me.
I saw him rear back his arm and throw it so perfectly, almost at, well... at eye level. All I had to do was hold up my glove and catch it. Instead I panicked.

It hit me right smack dab in the eye instead. To this day, I have never felt such pain. It felt as if the ball lodged itself into my eye cavity, carving out a spot right next to my sinuses. The sound was deafening, at least to my inner ear.

I dropped the ball. Everything and everyone froze in time, and I did the one thing I feared the most at 10 years old- I burst into tears in front of the whole grade.

I never picked up a ball again.

Sports were really never my thing. I was semi decent at tennis, and for whatever odd twist of fate, I can typically shoot a basketball into a basket. I am fairly decent at serving a volley ball, but running, jumping, blocking, etc, I am not. So I stay away from sports.

I have some friends who were either born into a bigoted family or experienced some sort of less than pleasurable experience with people who are different from them. Unfortunately, they, like my issues with a softball, prefer to throw themselves in a bubble and point their finger and cry out about the dangers of associating with riff raff.

To my friends who harbor these ill feelings and to my friends who happen to be the target of these attacks, please know, I am not one of them.

I think as a member of the human race, we have to embrace each other. Isn't that what started this whole mess in the first place?
Matthew 25:40-41 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

As a Southern Catholic (Christian) Woman who happens to run a Confederate Museum - I do not support hate of other people due to their religious beliefs, their cultural norms, or who they choose to serve. I do not judge you by the color of your skin. I am for uplifting of all people. As a woman who was married to a Muslim man, who happened to not be the nicest to me, I do not judge the rest of the batch based on a few bad apples. I will not support the ban, detaining, spying on, or hurting of people who are different from me. I welcome the refugees with open arms. Would I take one into my home? You bet I would. Did I not shelter children from all over the world for over 10 years?
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” ~ Catherine of Siena
Isn't there something about you that people do not quite understand? Has anyone ever taken something you love so much and twist into something dirty or hated? How many times have you shaken your head and said, "That's not what that means?"


To my friends in Kurdistan, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen, and Turkey. For my former Egyptian family (ex inlaws) and to the dozens of Muslim friends in Birmingham and Macon... This is for you.
Aside from those who spew hate about your beliefs, and for those killing in the name of your Prophet, I hope this little piece of spoken word gives you hope.

“Never underestimate the difference YOU can make in the lives of others. Step forward, reach out and help. This week reach to someone that might need a lift” Pablo

For the people that post items in their effort to fulfill some showcase social media activism, I dare you to actually spend a little time getting to know someone you are condemning or defending. Either way, expose yourself.

Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

If you say you are a Christian, then ask yourself that super popular question, "What Would Jesus Do?"

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.





Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Writer's Woes

Yeah, that's me this morning. Lots of junk surrounding me, because we had a big event this past weekend and my office looks like a tornado went through it.

I run a museum during the day, but I freelance write in my spare time. I will typically get to work an hour or so earlier to check my "freelance" email.

This morning I did just that and what did I find? Something writers often find after doing an interview....

The subject of the interview wanted to review the copy I wrote on him. Before it goes to print.

Uh... yeah. Not gonna happen.

Here's what basically happens: I'm asked to meet with someone and do a feature profile on them. I enjoy these for the most part, because I genuinely enjoy uncovering someone's story. I like to just hit record on my phone and have a conversation. It usually takes about 15 minutes before the subject actually loosens up, and after that, the flood gates usually open. By the time I am finished chatting with this person (and spending a small portion of that time putting them at ease,) I have enough to fill a whole publication. I always end with: If you have anything else you want to share, simply email me by xyz and I can see if I can include that information. It tends to give them a sense of comfort and an opportunity to send me a tid bit of info they forgot to mention. Rarely, if ever, do I get that email.

But every once in a while I will receive the insecure subject. The one who desperately wants his or her name to shine brighter than anyone else's, and feels like they know what the story needs to say. (Typically these people are trying to promote something.)


I always tell my subjects when my deadline is. I submit and that's that. The only way I will contact my editor (and I better have a damn good reason after deadline,) is if I find a fact that is incorrect due to my error. And it happens.. believe me, it happens. Heck, sometimes there are errors or typos that I did not even do and that has to do with the person transcribing for the publication.

So this morning, one of the people I interviewed sent me a quick email (sent from an iphone, because, well, it tells you it was sent from one,) and it simply said:

 Send me a copy of the story to review. Thanks. 

I sat there for a minute. I took a deep breath. Then I remembered the lessons of freelance past. I made the terrible mistake of sending my copy over after I finished it to at least two different "subjects." Granted, both were very much the "real deal." One was a Grammy nominated person and the other was the relative of a major music legend... and yes... that was a HUGE mistake. Why? Because no one actually sees themselves as they really are.

Here's why:
I'm in the interview with you. Maybe we are in your office or at a coffee shop or in your home. We sit down and begin to chat. I get the formalities out of the way quickly. It's what I do. As a journalist, my job is to get you to talk. Sooo... remember.. not only am I a trained journalist, I've worked in public relations for almost 20 years. I'm really good at disarming people. So we talk.

I give you the email bit and go on my merry way. I sit and replay our entire conversation, capturing and transcribing each quote: word for word. Then I have to create your persona based on our conversation. Report the facts, certainly. But also interpret, ever so slightly. I have to decide which way I am going with the story, who is this person and what do people need to know.

Then I write. Then I reread it. Then sometimes I read it to a friend, because I typically catch issues by reading aloud, then I read it again. Then I trim. Then I read. You have to remember, I typically only get 800 to 1200 words per story. Not 1250, not 760.. whatever number they give you, it has to fit to a T.

Then the magic is done.

I hit submit.

Then of course I reread and reread again. Then I let it go.

When I get an email asking me to share the copy it does one of two things:
1. Shows me either your ego is large or you are very insecure about what you said. Perhaps both.
2. Tells me you want to put a spin on the story.

The typical rule of thumb is NEVER SHARE YOUR COPY WITH THE SUBJECT. You can send over quotes that you use for verification, but never the entire story. You lose some type of journalistic integrity when you do that.

Ah... the woes of a writer.









Monday, December 7, 2015

Are you new here?

Welcome! Are you new to Destination Unknown? If so, I hope you will take a moment and explore the site before passing on to the next blog. There are multiple ways to follow, just take a glance to the left hand side bar. If you are on your phone, try to access the full site from your mobile browser. Otherwise, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Here is the problem with my blog. You will probably find a complete lack of consistency. Yep, that pretty much describes me in a nutshell. I've been at this site since 2009, and try as I might to get it right, or set a schedule, or whatever I try to do, it doesn't always stick. But what does stick is my passion for story telling.

This is a personal blog. Not a fashion blog, or a cooking blog, or a travel blog - though all of those subjects may get tackled at some point. Nor do I specifically try to be a local blogger or a person who reviews products. I don't want to limit myself.

However, you will get my thoughts on many issues. Sometimes they are more personal in nature, oftentimes it is simply me recounting something that happened. Sometimes they may become political and sometimes they may be religious in nature. The subject doesn't really matter, my only desire is that it is relevant. To me. So yes, you are a voyeur into my little world.

Now internet trolls, unless I ask a direct question at the end of the post, attacking my point of view will simply be ignored. I'm just going on record for that one. ;-)

Now you may have seen that first pic with quote and thought.. Whaaat the?? Don't worry, I'm not trying to shove God down your throat. That quote kind of explains what I think blogging does, truly authentic blogging. It's a connection. A way to heal myself and others through writing. I've covered everything that has happened to me in my life RIGHT here. From wedded bliss to the ending of a very emotional abusive relationship, to my big move back home after losing my job, to rebuilding my life... and yet again, to dating in my 40s, to celebrating life and love. It's all here. Every single detail.

Warning: I'm a bit sarcastic (most days.) But don't let my dry sense of humor scare you, I'm a real softie... really. ;-)

Now who am I? I'm in my 40s. I'm obviously a straight woman. I'm single-ish. (In a committed relationship of over 1 year.) Oh yeah, a long distance relationship, which adds for all types of adventures in dating. I run a museum. I freelance write for some local publications. I am Catholic and embracing my Southern identity more and more. I'm a bit of a crazy cat lady and yes, my I want to be Wonder Woman when I grow up.

Make sure to click on the tabs above to learn more. I'm sure we have lots in common, and if not, isn't it fascinating to peek into someone else's mind?

Oh yeah.. one last thing.

Be nice to me, or I will blog about you.

Ciao!


Thinking About 2016

"Some fleeting moments pass by-
             like golden hues
                     carrying magic
that is only felt
              when all comes to an end."

There are only 24 more days in the year 2015.
As I sit here, pondering what that really means, I am a little apprehensive. Unlike 2014, I am not in a hurry to move forward. I want to appreciate every beautiful waking moment in this year and give thanks to God for all of my blessings.

Oh, and they are many!

2015 has shaped up to be one spectacular win! My pie of life is basically full, and has remained so for quite some time.

A new year can bring a wide variety of adventures, and I am currently trying to decide what my theme will be. Last year it was "to Live." And I did. I took time away from my writing to actually go out there and live. I discovered that my writing was suffering because, whether I like it or not, nothing was really happening worth writing about.

I've kept a quote on my desk ever since I started working in television over 20 years ago:

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. ~ Benjamin Franklin
I decided it was time to figure out what was going on out in the world and I filled my soul with all of the good I possibly could.

Now... what is going to be the theme of 2016?  I think in order to continue this journey, I need to look at years past. 

Back in 2011, I wrote in one blog post:

I think if I find balance I will end up living more authentically and not allowing my high emotions to rule my life. I swear, the older I get - the more "emotional" I get.. something that was unheard of as a child. Lately I wear my heart on my sleeve, and even though it has made me kinder in certain arenas, the truth is - I need a little shell of armour. With that.. balance. I can still be me, yet create that sense of calm that is needed.

I saw a painting recently that read "Keep Calm and Carry On."


With balance... I can do just that.

I went on to list the following New Year's Resolutions:


Nicole's New Year's Resolutions for 2011

1. Most important one of the year - practice Trust. I will make a promise to myself to learn to be more trusting of the process, of advice, of the universe.

2. Get back into my exercise routine at the Y. Head back to my Body Jam and Zumba classes. *Perhaps talk to my personal trainer about weights 2 x a week (start that one in Feb.) Did it!

3. Find a few free lance writing projects.  Did it! (Well.. it would take a few years. 2014 to be exact)

4. Study arabic at least once a week. Did it!

5.  Pray daily. Did it!

6. Continue to write daily on my blog.

7. Reopen my personal journal (leather book here) and begin the more personal items for private writing.

8. Declutter - sell my dining room furniture, the twin bed, and the desk. Donate items in storage. Did it!

9. Stick to my Mediterranean diet plan the cardiologist gave me. Working on it!

10. Find a new volunteer opportunity. Did it!

11. Show compassion. (Better yet, learn to be compassionate.) Doing it!

12. Listen more.


13. Turn my sunroom into a ZEN room. Practice meditation. Did it!

In 2012, I took a different approach. One blog post said:

New Years Resolution?

Growth.

Authentic Living.

Allowing myself to seek absolute happiness.

Those are some pretty tall orders, and just 4 months before my divorce. Who knew? But then again, I did achieve those BY divorcing my egyptian. 

In 2013, I wrote:

2013:
At the end of the day, it was a good year. Yes, I got divorced. But that's not exactly a bad thing. (It's not a good thing either.) However, we all know it was necessary. Yes, I lost a few friends (as in death,) and that's always tragic. But I also believe they have served their purpose on earth and it was time to move on. I stayed fairly healthy, no major concerns. I met a new guy and things are going well. My social life is full, my family life is good, and all of my needs are met. 

Then at the end of 2014, I wrote this:
What it boiled down to was that I just don't care about the things I once did. It is not that these things aren't important, it is just that I don't feel the need to be the one to make these changes happen. I don't have to say yes to every committee, or even every board request. I can pick one or two projects within my community and concentrate on quality versus quantity. Which lead me to the word balance. 

And finally, I did find one more listed New Year's list. It was from 2013:
I, Shauna Nicole Thurston, do solemnly resolve to do the following in 2014:
1. I have a blue jar. Next to the blue jar I will have a post it note pad and pen. Each night, before bed, I will write one thing that was simply amazing about the day. I will then fold the piece of paper and place it in my jar. On New Year's Eve of 2014, I will read each one and realize what an amazing year it was! This jar will have to be by my bed. I understand that I may not always be home, but I will try to remember to bring a post it note pad with me wherever I travel.
**did not happen**

2. Rosetta Stone. Picking it back up. Even if it is only one day a week - I will study my French.
Did it, want to do again. 

3. Ballroom Dance classes start back in mid-January. I bought ballroom dance shoes. I am so ready to commit to more classes! 
Did it, want to do again.

4. Yoga. I have all of the gear I need and some good DVDs. I would like to try and practice at least once a week. (Now it's time to purchase a new DVD player.)
Did it. 

5. I have a whole three book course on living a more creative life. I would like to actually follow the books and try some of the tips. Who knows what will come from it!
Never finished

6. Mass. I want to be more regular with my attendance to mass. Also, I have signed up for the Adoration Chapel every Wednesday night from 9-10pm. Should be a nice time to meditate. Mid-week. 
Did not do it. Boo. 

7. Drink more water. Eat more fruit. Eat more veggies. It's simple, really.
Totally rocking it!

8. Take a pottery class.
Did it. Never will again. 
9. Cook more.
Did it

10. Take a photography class.
Still on my list

11. Purchase a bike, a helmet, and get a bike rack installed.
Still on my list

12. Unplug daily. This is a BIG one for me. I have a plan to disconnect in 2014. It's going to be awesome! (Don't worry.. I'll blog, just won't be online "playing" as much.)'
Totally doing it

13. Conquering clutter. I plan to simplify even more. 
Eh... 

14. Start saving the old fashioned way. I plan to budget with cash. (What a concept?!) I will get a small safe and have envelopes and mark them and budget accordingly. Once that "topic" is empty.. that's all I have!
Umm.. 

15. Take a gun safety course. Purchase pepper spray. I work on a fairly deserted corner of downtown, and sometimes leave work late. It's time to arm.
I think I will pass. 

16. Prioritize Sleep. Take naps. Rest. Rest. Rest.
Did it

17. I'm going to attempt to kick the diet soda habit. I typically only order them when I go out to eat, or maybe pick up one a day, however it's time to stop it once and for all.
Umm..

18. Quit saying I'm sorry.
Hmmm.. Sorry, it did not happen. 

19. Do one pampering thing a month for myself (facial, massage, etc.)
Yep. 

20. Finally, to Pray more. 
Work in progress. 

Simple as that.

So now what? Where do I go? What do I plan to do?

Decisions.. Decisions.. 




Monday, November 30, 2015

Not All Thanksgivings Are The Same



No two Thanksgivings are alike. That is, if you are new to a family.

I'm the girl friend, and this was technically my second Thanksgiving in SG's life, however, my first official with his family.

No, it did not look anything like my Thanksgiving growing up.

You see, for most of my life, Thanksgiving involved going to my Granny's house. That was my Great-Grandmother on my mother's side. She was a true Matriarch, and in the good old southern way, we would all gather at her home to gorge ourselves on carbohydrates and sugar. Once my beloved Granny passed (I believe I was 17,) we began to have Thanksgiving in our home with my Grandma Betty and Papa. Finally, at the age of 24, that 6-some dwindled down to a 4-some, and just a few years later I would be married.

Then things would change... but not really. My first hubby and I agreed on a schedule for Thanksgiving. Lunch with my family, dinner with his, and both families would be invited to both. It worked, considering the fact we lived a short 30 - 40 minutes from each other. Later, I would divorce him and my sister would marry, but her guy's family would be sort of non existent, so our personal tradition would continue. Again - consistency.

Then I would later remarry the egyptian, and I think that sort of sums it up. He did not celebrate Thanksgiving and his family was overseas. Oftentimes, he would fly home to see his family during this time, and again, I had my family traditions.

Last year, SG and I had just started dating, and though I was invited to his house, I felt it was too soon. So I opted to spend one last Thanksgiving with my fam.

This year, I took the plunge. For the first time, I ventured into someone else's tradition.

It started out fairly well, we went out to eat as a family on that Tuesday night and relaxed at the cabin. On Wednesday, I helped his mom and daughters get the cabin and main home ready for the big day. I even cooked a homemade pumpkin pie (with real pumpkin, not the canned stuff.) Then the big day arrived and I was feeling fairly good about it. I mean, I had the unspoken items I needed to bring - Pumpkin Pie.

Now let me back up....

On Thanksgiving, or at least in my version of Thanksgiving, there are a few items we have to accomplish:

1. Music needs to be on. I need to hear holiday music in the background.

2. Candles or a centerpiece of some kind.

3. Mom's good plates are brought out.

4. Wine.

What do we typically serve?
Turkey, of course.
Turkey Giblet Gravy (which I never touch.)
Regular cheap turkey gravy
MASHED POTATOES (just the single best thing about Thanksgiving)
Layered salad (you know the kind, made with sour cream, etc)
Berry-Cranberry Sauce and the canned/congealed kind (which I prefer)
Green beans
Sweet potato casserole with the marshmallows
Rolls - butter
and PUMPKIN PIE.

Did I mention mashed potatoes?

Sooooo... I carry my little pumpkin pie up to the main house. Little did I know that I was the ONLY person who ate pumpkin pie. Apparently that is a Northern thing.
Yep.
My dad is a Yankee.
I do remember mom having a token sweet potato pie, but I always opted for the pumpkin.

So that was a bust.

There was turkey.
Then I looked around... and what to my wandering eyes did NOT appear?
MASHED POTATOES. 
Dear Lord in heaven.
I had given up carbs for almost 11 weeks and was SOOOOOOO looking forward to my cheat day at Thanksgiving.

NO MASHED POTATOES.

Then I scoured the buffet looking for some sort of comfort. My eyes darted this way and that. I felt my pulse quicken, a little panic rising up. Then it hit me. I'm not at my family's Thanksgiving.

I got a little scoop of lima beans, a little scoop of sweet potato casserole (without the marshmallows) on my little plastic divided plate. Apparently, SG's mom makes her sweet potatoes with pecans on top. Not my favorite, but it was closer. Then I got a tiny helping of congealed cranberry sauce. There was cole slaw (def not a fave,) and a few other random items I don't eat. As for dessert? Pecan Pie. (Again, a no-go for me.)

Needless to say, I did not gain any weight over Thanksgiving break.

The family scattered to different rooms to eat. No music. No candles. No wine.
But... I had my guy. He looked at me, and smiled.... and I knew what I was most Thankful for.



I did enjoy the woods. We ran the dogs (which, btw, they got a new puppy!) and we roasted marshmallows over a fire at night. It was a nice time with the man I love and his tribe. Each tribe has different customs, and incorporating their life with your own is part of the compromise.

Like the pilgrims did with the natives, I must bring my traditions to the table. You can bet that next year, I'll be in charge of the potatoes. And I'll rock those carbs like no one's business.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Things I learned this week: The Blended Family version

SG's* daughter got married this past Saturday. It was my first real experience at a major event with a blended family - ever! Here is what I learned from the experience:

1. My parents have been married 43 years, so I am not familiar with the ins and outs of divorced families. I've attended a few weddings in the past of friends, and I get glimpse from time to time, but this was my first time being on the inside. What I learned was that labels have to be dropped. Leave them at the door. And here is why:

2. SG is Kaitlyn's step dad. But for all intents and purposes, he raised her and she calls him Daddy. He is her Daddy. Blood does not matter. I got it this weekend, and it sort of took me a minute to truly understand. Then I remembered all of those foreign exchange students I hosted over the years, and though their stay with me was brief (typically one year,) I love them and consider them family. SG has been in her life since she was 5. Now she is 21. I get it. That's his daughter.

3. I proudly announced to SG when we first met that I am allergic to drama. That I genuinely do not do well with dramatic events. I think he saw once and for all that I was serious. I did not let anything or anyone break my cheerful demeanor. I gave no one an ounce of leverage to put me in a bad light. I did what every good girl must do: I smiled, I laughed, and I was trying very hard to just see the person in front of me, not the label, or the reputation I may have heard of before... just the person.

4. It was incredibly important to make sure the day was about his daughter. I would often bring conversations back around with, "It's the bride's day, so whatever she wants goes." I think it was appreciated.

5. I worked very hard to help out wherever I could. If I saw some people sort of getting tired or falling into the "why should we help" trap, I would step in and do my part. An objective helper is much needed.

Love is love.
Family is family.
Remaining calm and peaceful in a potentially volatile situation is key.


But the truth is... I was at a party, with some new friends and family. I ate well, I drank well, I danced, I laughed, and I celebrated love.

What could be hard about that?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Journey. The Destination. The Farce that is Life.

I think I've filled my vent quota for the month in posts, right? 
Sheesh, I can get so hot under the collar with social issues some times. Throw around some insults about other people from various cultures and I will cut-a-b*tch, but share with me some half-baked #basic concern and I will roll my eyes and sigh. 

Sooo... 

Here we are. Me attempting to do this blog thing again. A daily blog. 

I made a promise to myself in 2015 that I would spend more time living versus pondering, but man oh man, I do miss the pondering. 

I miss putting on a pot of coffee, curling up in my sunroom with a nice soft, velvety blankie and cracking open the old laptop and sharing with you guys everything that pops into my little head. Gone is the coffee pot (I'm now French Pressing it,) and long gone is the sun room. Heck, even the laptop has died. I'm now left with little time, very little privacy, and a schedule more busy that a truck stop prostitute. 

You know, when I look back at those old posts, so much has changed and I think I may have changed with it. My circle of friends look different. My significant other is definitely different (can I get a Hallelujah?) My home, my job, my activities.. it's all oh so very different. 

Another chapter. Or heck, another volume. 

I can't count how many times I have thought of changing the name of my blog only to come right back to the common undercurrent theme - The destination remains unknown. Life is one big journey/transition. I believe it is very fitting for me. 

I like where I am headed in life. I'm proud of what I have done. I'm glad I'm not stuck and ordinary. Every dramatic issues, every health concern, every failed relationship has brought me to here and man.. do I have a story!

This weekend I am getting thrown into the deep end. My current SG's ex step daughter (who basically only recognizes him as Dad) is getting married on Saturday. I will get to meet all of his ex's people and of course, many of SG's people. It will be fascinating to see how blended families work. Totally a foreign concept for me, considering my parents have been married 43 years. I don't have kids with any of my exes, so again.. foreign territory. I'm sure it will be very interesting. 

Until next time.. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dear Americans, You are embarrassing me.

Dear Americans,

Fact -
THE WORLD IS IN THE WORST REFUGEE CRISIS SINCE WORLD WAR II.
AND SYRIA’S CIVIL WAR AND THE RISING OF ISIS IS THE WORST HUMANITARIAN DISASTER OF OUR TIME.

Fact -
THE NUMBER OF INNOCENT CIVILIANS SUFFERING: MORE THAN 11 MILLION PEOPLE ARE DISPLACED.

Fact -
HALF OF THOSE 11 MILLION REFUGEES ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 18. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN. THEY ARE ALL OF OUR CHILDREN.

I'm embarrassed at our lack of compassion. I'm appalled at how we are so afraid to extend a helping hand and yet we claim we are the home of the free and brave. What is so brave about locking down our borders and not helping those who are desperately seeking asylum? Can you imagine what it must be like to be forced to flee your home? What would we do? Where would we go?



Who would be willing to take people from a greedy, war-mongering, bigoted country?

We throw generalizations around and feed the ignorant like it's candy. ISIS is the problem. Syrians are not. Islam does not preach violence, or peace for that matter. It is what the individual makes it.

Have you even spent time in the Middle East? (Outside of a war zone?) I have.
Have you ever welcomed Muslims into your home? I have.
Have you ever actually read the Qur'an? I have.
Am I a Christian? You bet.
Exodus 22:21 - "“You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

Leviticus 19:33-34 and 24:22 – When the alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Numbers 35 and Joshua 20 – The Lord instructs Moses to give cities of refuge to the Levites so that when the Israelites must flee into Canaan they may have cities of refuge given to them.

Deuteronomy 10:18-19 – “For the Lord your God...loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Deuteronomy 24:17-18 – “You shall not deprive a resident alien...of justice.”

Psalm 146:9 – “The Lord watches over the strangers…”

Jeremiah 7:5-7 – “If you do not oppress the alien…then I will dwell with you in this place…”

Jeremiah 22:3-5 – Do no wrong or violence to the alien.

Ezekiel 47:21-22 – The aliens shall be to you as citizens, and shall also be allotted an inheritance.

Zechariah 7:8-10 – Do no oppress the alien.

Matthew 2:13-15 – Jesus and parents flee Herod’s search for the child.

Matthew 5:10-11 –“Blessed are those who are persecuted.”

Matthew 25:31-46 – “…I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

Luke 3:11 – “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none…”

Luke 4:16-21 – “…Bring good news to the poor…release to the captives…sight to the blind...let the oppressed go free.”

Romans 12:13 – “Mark of the true Christian: “…Extend hospitality to strangers…”

II Corinthians 8:13-15 – “It is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need…”

Hebrews 13:1-2 – “…show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels…”

James 2:5 – “Has not God chosen the poor in the world…”

James 2:14-17 – “What good is it…if you say you have faith but do not have works?”

I John 3:18 – “…Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”

Am I an American? You better believe it.

"When the national government by treaty or statute has established rules and regulations touching the rights, privileges, obligations or burdens of aliens as such, the treaty or statute is the supreme law of the land," wrote Justice Hugo Black in the 1941 case Hines v. Davidowitz. "No state can add to or take from the force and effect of such treaty or statute."

 Refugee Act of 1980: The law declared it to be "the historic policy of the United States to respond to the urgent needs of persons subject to persecution in their homelands." It gave the president broad power to handle an "unforeseen emergency refugee situation," such as one involving "grave humanitarian concerns."




Accepting these refugees sounds to me like the most Christian and most American thing to do.

Let's stop embarrassing ourselves. Let's show the world who we are. Unless we are Native Americans, our ancestors fled their countries for various reasons. Let's return the favor.

**photos came from American photographers Robert Fogarty and Benjamin Reece and found on Pinterest

Monday, November 16, 2015

That Friendship Vent

I got up earlier than normal this morning and began my daily morning routine. Since I had a few extra minutes to kill, I decided to scroll my news feed on FB. Aside from the atrocities in Paris, Beirut, and beyond, there was the typical "share if you love Jesus" and random photos of dogs, cats, babies, and selfies. Then there was a story that caught my eye.

It was titled: How to be a better friend over 30.

I decided to check it out, and I'll wait a sec for you to read it.

No, really... just click and come back here..

Right?!!?

OMG. It hit the nail on the head and said all of the things I want to scream to some of my "friends."

Let's break the article down and let me, if I may, vent a little.
But first, why do I even feel the need to vent? Because this is one of those life things I think many of us experience and because we don't want to harm our friendships, we just internalize and hope one day they will see the light.

Disclaimer: This is not about any one person - but all of us! We should all heed this warning

Let's begin, shall we?
1.  Stop acting so busy all the damn time.

This one almost made me jump out of the bed and pace the cabin saying, "Yes.. right?" I typically extend olive branches to friends asking to do something with them, or make suggestions to meet up, or whatever the case may be. I am often told - I'm busy. Or I have plans. Or... whatever. Typically, the ones with children always assume they are more busy than others. While, some always have something to do with their significant other, etc. etc. Here is what I think:

We are ALL busy. Yes, you may have children and a ton of activities, but that doesn't mean you can't invite said friend over to have a cup of coffee while you are preparing dinner? The kids eventually go to sleep, right? Pick up the phone and call your friends. Then those who put the significant other ahead of everyone... you do have a life outside of this person, right? It is okay to invite them over, or meet up for lunch during the day even.. whatever it is you need to do.

What I HATE HATE HATE.. and I see it all of the time with people I know, when they are having a hard time or fighting with their person, they suddenly want to hang out or will call. Not because they want to, but because they are looking for someone to hide out with or get their mind off of things. Then as soon as they get the desired result from whatever the situation was at home, they disappear again. Had this happen to me recently, and after years of friendship I made a hard decision - don't fall for it anymore. I have enough experience now to figure out when it is genuine and when I am being treated like an escape goat.

We are ALL busy. I work.. no wait.. I RUN a business. Not just a business, a museum. That's no cake walk, though when you talk to me it sounds like it is easy as pie. It is not. It is just that I make time for you, and want to talk to you, not about the obstacles that I may encounter on a daily basis. I also freelance write, which takes a LOT of time. It's like having a super hard research paper due each week. I am also trying to maintain a long distance relationship, as well as serve on three major boards and a state wide board. I show up at your birthday parties, wedding, showers, art openings, kids' recitals, and everything else. (If I am invited.) I send thank you notes, and call you, and invite you to EVERYTHING... just hoping one day you will bite. Alas, I am often told that you are busy with this or that. Which I am sure you are saying the same thing to your other friends, because.. well.. as your friend, I know you. Though my day may not always include children in the morning, you might like to know that I am rehearsing what I plan to say as the guest speaker at a community civic groups meeting while I roll my hair. As I am driving down the road I am making mental check lists of all of the extra stuff I have to do that week, which includes checking in on you, and when I am at work, I take just a few minutes to scroll FB and comment on your kids' soccer picture or  the trip you took with your sweetie pie.

Folks.. it is not that hard to carve 5 minutes and it can mean the world.

2.  Start acknowledging your friend's accomplishments.

Sweet baby Jesus! THANK YOU. I'm glad someone said it. If I get wind that something awesome happened in your life, I am going to let you know how proud I am of you.

I've had some pretty significant things (that are fairly cool) happen in my own life recently, and outside of my SG and maybe my parents, rarely does my circle even notice. Or if they do, I don't hear about it.

3. You gotta do the stuff THEY like to do too...thats how friendships work...

Sooo.. remember when I said I always try to show up for you guys. Yeah... and when I invite people to things they sometimes say "That's not really my thing."
Well...

4.  Shit gets real after 30 so being this uber private friend is probably not going to work in your favor.  You're going to need a certain level of transparency ...


Okay... this means, yeah... I know when I am just your refuge when things are not going great. When you pick up the phone out of no where and after 30 minutes of catching up, it sort of comes out. Or when you suddenly are on my side of town and want to stop by....
And then I figure out it is that things aren't so great at home...
Look... just be open. Be a friend. Obviously you need me... but be a little more transparent.

At the end of the day - we can all relate to my vent. We all have people we love and need in our life and we want to keep our friendships strong. Our friends are flawed just like everyone else. But we love them. We are still friends because I care. Or I wouldn't even vent. ;-)

Let that article be a reminder to all of us that it takes two to make a relationship work. Men come and go (unfortunately it is true.) Parents die, jobs are lost, and the kids eventually move out. What are you going to have left when all is said and done?

Remember the people that stuck by your side before you had it all. They are still there, and returning the favor on their journey is worth its weight in gold.

Let's all be better friends to each other.

As Bill and Ted said, "Be Excellent to Each Other."


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Anniversaries and Other Things No One Cares About

I started to write this long diatribe on why I am just sick and tired of trying to do the right thing.

Then I realized it was probably the lack of carbs causing this slight mental breakdown.

The truth is everything is awesome. I've come sooooo ridiculously far, I feel the need to celebrate, even if I celebrate alone.

First of all, I've been at my job for one year! Yes, I have successfully ran a museum for one complete year! I am very lucky to have the board that I do and the staff that I have.. without them I simply could not pull off this gig. I'm happy and life is good.

So I'm going to give myself a pat on the back.
That's all I'm getting.

Then there is the one year anniversary with SG! It is so hard to believe that I have been blessed to spend 365 days in this man's life. He makes me very happy and it is hands down the healthiest relationship I have ever experienced.

I spent a good amount of time creating this digital (to be printed by Snapfish) Year-In-Review picture album for him. He seemed to really enjoy it. He bought me the number one item on my Christmas wish list: A French Press and Br Grinder.

Though our weekend was not even close to being romantic, it was nice to just settle into a routine. You see it was Halloween weekend, and it was his weekend with the kids. Friday night he worked late, which afforded me the opportunity to work on two stories in the 11th Hour newspaper. One is a profile on GPB's Mike Caputo and the other was a feature on Loco's Gril & Pub. I finished those and shot them to the editor, Brad, and relaxed with the movie - If I Stay. Holy moly. What a tear jerker!

That night I went into a little town called Richland and had dinner with his mom, sister, and family friend. Once he finally made it home, it was so wonderful to see his smile. We were all so beat, we just crashed for the night. On Saturday, I wanted to cook lunch for everyone, but his youngest ended up going over to her cousin's house, and of course, Alex, chose to hang near her dad. (She had a lot of homework to do.) I made low carb tacos and we laughed and chatted it up. Later, we had to pull together something for the kids to do for Halloween, so I ended up taking Alex to Dollar General and we bought a few essentials. She worked on the appetizers, SG worked on the campfire, and I worked on the music and our make-shift costumes. Basically, it turned into a dance party.

His sister, her partner, and her daughter all came over to enjoy the festivities. After the "dance party" we gathered in the living room of the cabin and watched Nightmare on Elm Street. Though I was sitting by my SG (the closest thing I could get to cuddling on our anniversary,) his daughter became scared during the movie and crawled into his lap. No sooner did I get up to do something, she curled up into the seat to cuddle next to him.... and that ended my canoodling evening.

Joys of dating someone with kids! lol We all settled in and went to bed and had a good night's sleep. The rain was coming down pretty hard on the tin roof, it made for an eery scene on the pond the next morning. On Sunday, we relaxed with a movie and basically took it easy.

Uneventful, but nice.

And thus my two big happy days ended, with a fizzle.

I'm thrilled to be in a great relationship for a year. I never thought I would find happiness again. And I did.
I'm thrilled to work a job that brings me fulfillment and happiness.
I'm excited to be working on more freelance writing stuff..

You see... so much good is happening, I just wish I could get someone other than myself to get what a big deal this is! SG gets it, but honestly, he is pulled in so many different ways right now. Lots of work, his mother is about to have surgery, his kids keep him busy, and his oldest (his ex-step daughter,) is getting married in two weeks. It's just a lot.

So I wanted to acknowledge how much good was in my life right now. I thought by writing about it, it would be a way to just gives myself a little pat on the back and.. well.. say I am very proud of myself.

Even if no one else notices. ;-)

I guess I get a little bitter about gratitude sometimes. I try to cheer my friends, co workers, family, and really anyone else that needs it on. I rarely get that in return. Oh well.. sometimes we have to be our own validation and encourage ourselves. Today's mediation/devotion was titled: Move On To Joy. The final affirmation said, "It's a conscious choice."

Amen, sister.

That concludes my whiny baby vent. ;-)

Monday, October 26, 2015

With An Open Heart.. except when it comes to the Jones County Fair.

I guess the universe is trying to tell me to have an open heart. 

Today's devotional/meditation was exactly about that, and this weekend, that was the overall theme. I need to open up and just be in the moment and except things as they are.

I had a super-jam-packed week. Tuesday night I attended a party for a friend at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. It was a private party for one of Macon's most successful entrepreneurs, Jean Bragg, owner of Travis Jean. Jean won a private catered, party with DJ from an auction, and invited 40 people she wanted to spend a good Tuesday night with. We ate BBQ from Satterfield's and drank wine. We danced to the 50s, 60s, and 70s music - it was all a lot of fun. It was good to hang out with some friends and just live a little. I was open.. and I had a blast.

Wednesday night I attended a recorded forum for GPB (Georgia Public Broadcasting) at Just Tap'd called Issues & Ales. We spent two hours discussing what it means to be Southern. I shared my opinion on tradition (and where that comes from,) and on the Confederate flag. I explained my reaction to flying the Battle Flag, and how as a museum director of a Confederate Museum, it was difficult for me and why. Very interesting stuff and good conversation. Want to hear it? 




I also got another chance to share my knowledge on GPB, I was interviewed by Michael Caputo about two stories I was working on in my freelance work for the 11th Hour. Want to hear that?




That took place on Monday afternoon. See? The week was full... and guess what I did? I kept an open mind and open heart. I had too. Life is too nerve wracking if not.

Friday night SG came up and we took the Spirits in October Tour by the Riverside Conservancy. It's a nighttime "spirits" tour of Macon's most notable "ghosts" that made unexpected exits. We had a good time. After the tour we went to Texas Roadhouse for PRIME RIB. I was in heaven. I got a side of green beans and a sweet potato. Delish and totally on my plan. (I tell you this, because I lost 2 pounds over the weekend!!) 

That night we slept like babies. On Saturday, we had to head to one of my events at the museum: Millie's Story Time. It was an Alice in Wonderland theme (150th birthday!) Kids came in costume, we played games, had a very merry unbirthday party, and yes, I portrayed the Queen of Hearts. 

After the story time, we visited the Central Georgia Greek Festival. We enjoyed checking out the church, I ate a gyro while we watched Greek dancing and listened to traditional Greek music. I really enjoyed the jewelry vendors there. Especially with the amount of evil eye jewelry they have! (Which I have a soft spot for!)

After the festival, I drug SG to the mall and we did a bit of shopping, followed by a good nap at the house. That night.. oh that night... my heart was not as open... not very much... heck.. not at all.

Vent Time.

I was soooo excited to go to the fair with SG. There is a small county fair that supports the Lions Club in Gray. I like the Lions Club, I really like their mission and the members are always so very nice. Well.. the fair in Jones County is a fundraiser for them. It's a real-deal fair complete with all of the fun rides, vendors, etc. 

I had to twist SG's arm a little to go, and to do so, instead of deciding to eat at the fair (remember, we are both watching our weight,) we decided to eat at the local Pickle Barrel. As we are getting ready to go, SG asks, "Should we get some cash?" (Neither one of us ever carries cash. Everyone has credit card readers now, and I said, "No. Remember at the festival yesterday? Even they had a Square." We ride out to the fair. We circle numerous times looking for a parking space in the limited field. Finally snag one and head to front. 

It's only $10 for the two of us, and that is just perfect. I walk up, all peppy and excited and ask, "Do you except cards?" The older gentleman says, "No." The woman next to him (possibly late 40s) looks to the people behind me and says... "Next." 
I step to the side and ask her, "Do you have an atm inside or nearby?" 
She says, "Inside." Then she proceeds to take the money from the couple behind us. I look behind me and see people guarding the gate... you can't get in without a ticket, and you can't get  a ticket without cash. We are in the middle of a field. No business nearby.

"Ma'am, may we send someone in to get the cash and come back to pay you. One of us will stand here." She just shrugs. I'm getting pissed. "Ma'am.. where inside is the atm?" 
She looks at me and sneers, "I don't know."

Lord Have Mercy. I wanted to jump over that thing she was sitting in and strangle her. 
It's been said by soooooooooo many, people in Jones County are not always the friendliest. This was a perfect example. 

I looked at SG... he walked over and talked to the old guy at the guard area and he let him through. I noticed tons of people congregating where I was waiting, and as I eavesdropped, I could hear that this was happening to so many people.

Now.. before you judge me for poor planning, do know, we tried to find a website through google search and instead found a Jones County News article. Which had zero info on pricing or that they only took cash. We found a FB page - nothing. 

THEN... to add insult to injury, SG comes back and says, the ATM is out of order. 

I turned to the woman and said, "Well.. your ATM is out of order." She just shrugged her shoulders.

Dear Lord... I would say so much more... 

By the time we made our way to the car, we just looked at each other, deflated. It would be near impossible to find parking, and at this point I was just too damned mad. We drove off.. and whether they will ever feel my possible $60 profit loss... I'll never know. But I will tell you one thing, I will never forget how I was treated. 

Good thing I was not showing up to do a story on the event. ;-) 
Oh.. but... lol

Anyway.. we left, went to Starbucks and enjoyed coffee with a friend. Followed by a drink at Cheers and a trip to IHOP to wrap up the night.

I'm still mad.

Sunday was better, lots of rest, watching of movies, and All You Can Eat Shrimp at Red Lobster. 

Yummm..

How was your weekend?

Was your heart open? lol

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