chillin’ at the casino: part 1

i am not a gambler. not in any respect. i don’t get the thrill that drives one to spend, spend, spend. but casinos have more than gambling these days and as we all know, they aren’t just in Vegas anymore. we have a casino local to us and while i’m not a gambler, i have been there several times for all of those other reasons: 1) to see a concert and comedy show, 2) enjoy dinner at the buffet and 3) watch someone else spend, spend, spend.

if you didn’t know it by now, i’m a people watcher. it’s a natural talent and always provides multiple levels of entertainment and blog inspiration. my most recent visit provided me with a little alone time in which i found no shortage of writing inspiration. once again, i found myself sitting, typing notes in my phone and giggling to myself completely devoid of my friends and their goings-on.

“oh no! she’s got her cell phone out. girl! who are you talking to, i don’t even have service in here. tell him to bring some friends”

“are you finding us some boys?”

“boys? what? no. i don’t have service either, i’m taking blog notes.”

“oh lord. she did this the last time we went out too. the blog was funny though.”

“just a couple more and i’ll be done.”

“uh huh. sure you will. come on. someone’s gonna have to hold her hand so she doesn’t walk into a wall.”

so, we enjoyed the show and then we enjoyed the buffet. i like having eating choices and nothing accommodates that like a buffet. an international buffet, even. with worldly inspired options and enough dessert to choke a horse. we sat with our plates full, laughing and giggling about the days’ events, our children and our “getting ready” horror stories of nail polish in our hair, burnt clothing from forgotten ironing and the elusive lost shoe (an evening out with a buncha moms is nothing shy of sit-down-stand-up-comedy. we would stand but we just don’t have the energy and no matter how cute our shoes are, they hurt). after filling ourselves to our clothing limits we paraded around like a cheerleading squad, laughing at everything and nothing at the same time. we have one poker player in the group. she was not going to rest until she’d played a hand or two… or more likely in the amount of two hundred dollars worth of poker. that’s where i come in. the other girls ran off to the slot machines…a group of broken video games if you ask me, with no point, no extra man and limited fun. so i sit with the poker player, to keep her company, repel the “how YOU doin’?” gang and she keeps me supplied with drinks. mostly rum and coke. it’s a win-win (for me, anyway).

it is during this time of sitting quietly and watching that i made my many observations. in the midst of watching, i found myself being watched. the ever-familiar and always happy security agent wandered over to me as i typed feverishly into my phone. poker players are not allowed to play with their phones or take calls while at the table. i, on the other hand, am not at the table, not a poker player and so those rules don’t apply to me. mostly. but you can’t sit enveloped in a one-sided cell phone conversation via thumbs without catching the eye of Big Brother. Mr. Security came to me quietly with a… a look of inquiry. i stood up and flatly said:

“Big Brother wants to know what i’m up to? just taking notes for my blog. do you need to see.”

he shook his head “no” while simultaneously reaching out for my phone. i quickly showed him first, that i had not made nor received any calls. as well, i had not sent nor received any text messages. then i thumbed over to my magic notepad and went through my notes with him. at first he was within hair-smelling distance. no. not me to smell his hair, him to smell mine, as men do, but that was not his intention — just a scenario to explain our proximity. as i proceeded to explain what i was considering writing and what i was observing he took a comfortable step back and flashed his familiar smile. he listened to me and let me finish before he gave me some friendly words:

“i would have never taken you for a writer, but that just goes to show that even after all these years of observing people, i know nothing about women. (bahahahah!) feel free to take as many notes as you need. Big Brother and i are both satisfied knowing that your not in cahoots with any of the players. here is something that your notepad will never tell you and you can write this down: poker is a social game. most of this is just socialization. 90% of our regulars, 90% of our daily clients are DAILY. they come here everyday and they usually follow the same routine. they would rather come here everyday and blow a hundred or two instead of saving up to go to vegas and blow thousands. this way they get it out of their system, the loss isn’t so heavy and they get to see their friends.”

amazing! 90% go there daily. wow. i would have never suspected such a fact. ok. so now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. there is a lot to take note of in a casino. some of it has to do with the structure. some with the machines and games, but the lion’s share has to do with the people. the clientele.

casino’s draw a crowd. all of them do. from the CEO to the housewife. everyone looking for a chance. a score. a win. now, i know that some people go there to socialize, to hang out, to perfect their skill of reading faces and counting cards, but not one of those people would turn down a win. everyone that steps into a casino is hit with that electrifying air upon entry. the air of winners. the air of jackpots and big wins. the air… of the long shot. the reality though, it that the air is also mixed with the air of losers. of no luck at alls. the air of desperation, lost mortgages and marriages on the rocks.

in my hours there, i made two sets of observations. the first set is about the casino and all that it holds, in general. the second set of observations (which might have to return as a part 2) is strictly regarding the poker room. so, let’s begin our journey.

casino observations:

1. people still smoke?: i’m not judging. i’m not complaining. but! once upon a time i smoked cigarettes. i think i might have been in high school. early high school. i don’t have any rhyme or reason for it other than the fact that it was forbidden and banned and teenagers always embrace what is forbidden and banned. with that said.. i’m almost amazed to see that people still smoke. and inside, no less. i’d be a liar if i said i didn’t hate it. the smell invades and permeates everything about me. my hair, skin and clothing wreak of second-hand smoke and that totally irks me. but that’s the price i pay for going to that establishment. c’est la vie. nothing a shower can’t solve. but again, i am often shocked to see someone smoking thinking to myself: “people still do that?” as if it’s some long lost habit. like macrame or doin’ “The Hustle”.

2. slot machine stalkers: this is almost self explanatory, but i’ll give you my version. my grandmother was a nickel slot machine player. she had her favorite casinos, her favorite types of machines and occasionally an actual favorite machine. she would sit at that one machine and play until her heart was content. if the machine was not available, she would loiter nearby reluctantly entertaining some other machine until she could pounce. apparently, this is what all slot machine players do. they stalk “their” machine. they loathe the person that spins their wheels and pushes their buttons. they watch and wait until that person makes the slightest move and they transport themselves through space and time, effortlessly, to claim what is unknowingly theirs. heaven forbid that machine “hits” and pays out to another person. all is lost and you will need law enforcement to get them to a) not slap the winner in the back of the head and cast a stink eye in their direction for all of time, b) not write an angry letter to management demanding their cut for having played eighty five dollars in nickels to that one machine and for being being casino loyal and lastly, to c) NOT sit down at that exact machine until the sun comes up, goes down and comes up again. they will skip meals, showers, phone calls and all discernible human activity trying to spin those wheels into submission.

3. the gambling oxymoron: there is an advertisement on the ATM machine, as well as the paper towel dispenser in the ladies’ room, to call and eight hundred number if you have a gambling problem. it just seems a little… insincere? i mean seriously? on the ATM, where you can withdraw money from your life, your children’s future and your wife’s secret account is the last stop on the road to freedom from your addiction.. Mr. Security explained the reason. a story too sad to tell but someone stole some money, lost it and then… took their own life. so i get it. like we’ve heard about eye contact from the armored truck guy because you might change your mind and not try to hijack the truck because of that eye contact. however, i still find it to be insincere. perhaps that’s just me.

4. jackpot cruisers: a select group of folk. small in numbers but biiiiiiig in purpose. they chase the “ding ding dingdingding” coming from a machine off in the distance. they hear the sound, drop what they are doing and break into a sprint trying to find the machine that is singing it’s song. i don’t know if they want to get an eye on the winner, if they want to assault the machine right after in hopes of a repeat of if they are just groupies wanting to share in the air of a winner. either way, they will push you to the ground trying to get there before the song stops.

5. technology terrified: within a 270° turning of my head (that’s looking from as-far-as-i-can-left to as-far-as-i-can-right without straining myself) i saw no less than thirty flat screen televisions. there were at least three different programs being watched at all times with intermittent advertisements for the very casino i was sitting in. in addition, every piece of equipment was touch screen or remote. including the toilet and paper towel dispenser. on top of that, my cell phone was jammed and would not make, take or receive phone calls or text messages. booooooooo. some of the employees carried gadgets that looked complicated and heavy. viewing and experiencing all of this made me paranoid. i felt like Big Brother was sitting in my lap, taking measurements and duplicating my entire system in some back room. a little scary. juuuusssssst a little.

and last but not least;

6. casino attire: as Mr. Security shared with us, soooooome people would rather go local than save up and go all out on a Viva Las Vegas excursion. not me. Las Vegas is Las Vegas and no casino in the world can compare. there’s something intoxicating about “The Strip” and knowing that everyone who has ever been anyone and anyone who has only been no one has been there. carrying with them their hopes, their dreams and their very last dime. there are only two other places as awesome and kinetic: Hollywood and Broadway. anyway, i guess the mere idea of casino is enough for some so they go full tilt. and by full tilt, i mean ALL OUT. you will see people dressed as if they are going to meet the president. and others? not so much. some people look like they were on the bus on the way home from work and decided “aahhh, what the hell” and others look as though they have been planning their fashion ensemble for the last few weeks. both of them standing in line to eat the cafeteria-mass-produced buffet food items.

well, darlings… i will conclude here with my casino observations. i will pick up with poker room observations which are just as entertaining. i thoroughly enjoy my people watching adventures and sharing them has brought me a whole new high. all’s fair in love and observation. i poke fun and make jokes, but i do understand how serious an addiction gambling can be. but, unlike any other vice, it has the power to wipe out an entire life in one hand. sad but true. other vices are a gamble, but gambling is … GAMBLING! everything a person has ever known, had, worked for and loved can vanish with the wrong card.

i’d love to hear from you. leave me a comment. and if you like this post, then click the star up top so i know. until next time… stay sweet.

enveloped in empathy

i am an empathetic person. not just sympathetic but empathetic. i put myself in another’s position and often feel their pain. there is no need for it other than i have a big heart and i feel a need to help those that want and can be helped. my grandmother always told me that it was a noble quality but an exhausting one and that eventually it would lead to pain. she was right. over my lifetime i have taken many college courses related to people and behavior including sociology, philosophy, child development, humanities and many courses in the sciences. i am an observer. some would say a keen observer. i tend to notice the details. this has all culminated into the fine art of being able to read people. no, i’m not a psychic. no i’m not a profiler or anything of that nature. i’m just able to see what hasn’t necessarily been exposed to me. for the most part, i am able to see past the outside to the inside. i won’t say that i’ve never been duped, but i feel that i have helped plenty of people who were truly in need and not in desire.

my first notable empathetic experience was with one of those horrid commercials relaying the details of a starving child’s daily life. their little bellies distended with want and requirement. i think i cried for days. i couldn’t imagine wanting food and not having it. i had free reign of the refrigerator and pantry and could come and go as i liked. there weren’t many rules placed on the consumption of any one thing and i was mindful of my waste. i couldn’t imagine what their mothers felt like unable to provide for their children. the babies unable to nurse because the mom’s lacked the nutrition to produce milk. i couldn’t get the images out of my mind. the look of hopelessness in a child’s eyes is nothing less than devastating. children hold within them the brightest light and the most beautiful truths. to see that tarnished with unfathomable hunger made me hurt inside. all over. my grandmother suggested that we make a ten-dollar monthly contribution to that particular organization and i was elated. i received a little newsletter of sorts thanking me for my care, concern and monetary donations. i had done a good deed and was proud.

after a YEAR, after twelve months, we received a letter with crushing news. the letter stated that we had been duped. yup, you guessed it: scammed. the company was a farce. they had no connections with anyone anywhere, they weren’t helping anyone but themselves and my money was gone. vanished. never having reached one of those little distended starving bellies. i was more crushed than crushed. my gramma apologized profusely because she knew that my sharing had come from my heart and that my heartache was actually coming from my brain. she vowed that we would not venture down this helpful path ever again. she felt awful because she felt as though she had researched and found a worthy cause. even years later she apologized. needless to say, we were both disappointed.

years later, my grandmother and i were out shopping for “school clothes” and we saw a homeless man. he was in a wheelchair, his legs, amputated just below the knee were visible. his pants had been cut and tucked so as not to leave the oddly shaped limbs exposed. he had on an old army jacket and there was an american flag attached to the back of the wheelchair. he was dirty. he was unkempt and i asked my grandma for some money to give him. she told me no. she said that not everyone on the street was “hard up”. she explained that some people had given up on their life and they used the heartstrings of little girls like me to fill their pockets with hard-earned money that they didn’t deserve. (i think she was a little jaded from the scammers). while we shopped, my mind wandered from my own clothing to his. i wondered how long he’d been in those clothes and when was the last time they were washed. i wondered if he had a place TO wash them. i found myself thinking about what his home might have been like and why he chose not to be there. i wondered what he had done in the military and what it’s effects on him were. i wondered if he’d been to war to fight for my freedom. i wondered a lot.

we completed our shopping and upon return to the car i begged my grandmother to let me share something with this man. she gave me one single dollar. we pulled up next to him as we exited the parking lot and i hopped out. i was too shy to speak, so i just extended my little girl arm. the man took the dollar from me and said “thank you sweetie, God bless you.” i got back in the car radiant with the feeling that i had helped someone in need. my gramma said that i was a good person with a good heart but that i mustn’t allow myself to be taken advantage of. she reminded me, again, that some people just didn’t want to work and would hold their hand out hoping for someone to fill it. she told me “don’t let people mistake your kindness for weakness.”

i don’t remember too many “giving” occasions until much later in life.. when i could make my own decisions and spend my own money. my grandmother was a very kind woman and she was very giving. but honestly, she had no room in her life, mind or consideration for lies or cheats. she didn’t care who you were, what you had done or how bad you felt, if you were honest with her…well, you were good.

another incident comes to mind: in high school, there was a homeless man approaching vehicles in the mickey d’s drive thru. the man approached a red hatchback asking the female driver if she would kindly buy him a cup of coffee. she was actively rolling the window up as he was talking and all but punched the man in the face with her negative response to his inquiry. i was horrified. as we walked inside, i decided that i would eat light and use my leftover money to buy him something to eat. i collected “change” from my comrades and bought as many cheeseburgers as i could. along with the thirst aid of a small beverage. the man had left the drive thru and was standing under a tree on the back side of the restaurant. it was hot out and he looked disparaged. as i stood in line making my purchase for him, i stared at him. i wondered when he had last eaten and bathed. i wondered if anyone was looking for him or cared about him. i wondered his name and age. i gathered my gift and took it outside. i approached him quietly and with my arms extended i said:

“hi. my name is Tanisha. i saw you asking for assistance in the drive-thru and i figured you could use a little more. i bought you some food and something to drink. i hope that’s ok.”

he reached out and took the items from me. his facial expression changing from that horrible hopeless look to that of a simple man having received a small gift. he broke a very slight smile and quietly said:

“thank you. thank you very much.”

he put the drink in his pocket, and removed one of the five cheeseburgers from the bag. he unwrapped it, took a bite, wrapped it back up and returned it to the bag. he put that bag in the other pocket and walked slowly towards the railroad tracks. i felt good. i did not feel that this man had deceived me. i could see that he was hungry and i assumed that he took only one bite in an attempt to not make himself sick and to not waste his meals. he probably had no idea where that next meal was coming from. i was satisfied. i turned to go back inside and found myself being applauded. everyone on the inside watching me through the glass and cheering for my good deed. i can still see his face.

many years later, i worked in a downtown area. there tend to be a following of homeless near parks, water fountains and walking malls. they reap the benefit in the wee hours of the night, taking cat naps, bird baths and eating the unadulterated leftovers of local businesses. i always saw the same guy as i pulled into the parking structure. he was on his way to somewhere unknown from somewhere unknown. once he came into the hotel where i worked. a frequent problem with a public restroom. he came to the front desk and asked if he could use the restroom. because i had seem him so often, i simply explained:

“i’m not allowed to let you do that. however, i know that you are homeless. if you go use the restroom, handle your business and leave quietly without incident, i will allow it. you can’t come back. you can’t harass my coworkers and you cannot act up. just go and leave it at that, ok? or we’ll both be in trouble”

he nodded. he disappeared into the men’s room and a moment or so later he resurfaced. as he left the premises he waved very low and nodded once again. eventually i left that hotel but still worked in the area. i continued to see him. always in the same clothes. i found myself wondering about him one evening and i decided to do something to help. i contacted a friend who was about the same size as the man. i asked for his “good will” clothing and he gave. i had several days worth of clothing and some winter items. i thought ahead and found something for him to carry the items in. i even raided the cabinets and found some personal hygiene items to include with my care package. i went to work early the next day and when i saw him i honked. i waved to him to follow me as i parked my car. he was very apprehensive. he seemed almost scared. i waved him towards me and assured him that he was not in trouble, that i just had something i wanted to give him. i opened the trunk of my car, pulled the old backpack full of clothes from it and handed it to him. his face went from skeptical to surprised. i just blurted out:

“i packed you some clothes. i don’t know if they’re the right size or not, but they are men’s clothes and there’s a belt too. i didn’t bring any underthings for obvious reasons, but i did include some hygiene products in the pocket in the front. i hope this helps you out some.”

i held my hand out and he seemed even more surprised. yes, i wanted to shake his hand. i didn’t know if he was sick, contagious or terminal. i had no idea when he had his last meal, bath or hug. but he seemed genuine to me. he seemed like a guy who needed some help. he wiped his hand on his jacket profusely and tried to refuse me but i stood firm. he finally reached out and we shook hands.

“why? why did you do this for me?”

“you need help, right? i was able to help and so i did. is that ok?”

“yes. thank you. i don’t even know what else to say.”

“thank you is enough. i hope it helps.”

he backed away slowly, slightly smiling. i could tell that it had been a while since anyone had touched him. not a kiss, not a hug, not a hand shake. i wondered why. i wondered if he was homeless because life fell out from under him or if he was homeless because he fell out from under his life. i decided that it didn’t matter as far as i was concerned. he needed help and i was able to do something about it. my part was done. whenever he saw me after that, he always waved. his eyes always said “thank you. thank you so much” even though he never uttered a word. soon, i no longer worked in that area, and i have never seen him again. i can still see his face too.

there haven’t been too many more occasions since then that i have given anything away. mostly because i have needed it myself. my grandmother taught me well. she told me to be kind and to be generous but not to put myself out to help another.

“don’t lend money (or anything else for that matter) unless you can do without that money forever. sometimes people need things but they never know when they can pay it back. if you need it, don’t give it. if you can do without it, then go ahead.”

there has always been a homeless population here in california. they stand out from the rest for obvious reasons. now, don’t get all sensitive about it and think that i’m looking down on them. i’m not. you should know that by now. but back to what i was saying…the homeless population has always looked… well, homeless. perhaps unkempt, needing a bath, a shave, a haircut, some clothes, shoes and a new attitude. they used to loiter outside of small businesses asking for “spare change”. over the years they have come into a whole new way of conducting their business. they moved from the small business entrances to the freeway off ramps with “will work for food” signs written on cardboard. their desire to work seemed more than debatable and eventually they seemed to realize this too. soon the signs changed to more thought-provoking quips like “vietnam vet. homeless. god bless” or my personal favorite “why lie? i need beer.” i recently saw a young woman with a sign stating “homeless. pregnant. don’t judge me.” sadly, it is at this time that i have to hold on to what i have and am unable to be as generous as i once was.

i lived in hawaii for a couple of years and it was an amazing time. one of the most outstanding memories to me was a guy known as “Mango Man” (amazing what you can Google!). he was homeless, or supposedly homeless, but I saw him all over the island. and i mean all over. from one side to the other, by the mall, by the beach, everywhere. he looked to be in his forties and he had one huge dreadlock that appeared to act as a sleeping bag. it was almost as wide as his shoulders and hung down to his knees. it was wide and flat. during my time there, we always waved to him. we always shouted “Mangooooo Maaaaaaan” and threw up a “shaka brah” and he always waved back. not once did he ask me for anything. not a dime. in fact, the homeless population as a whole was different from anything that i had known before. i don’t recall ever being asked for anything, seeing a “will work for food” sign or harassed for “spare change” at any point in my time there.

i have given my fair share of spare change, shared a meal, bought a meal and donated clothes and time to help those in need. i feel that all of this has been possible because of my empathy. if given the opportunity, i will talk to those in need in an attempt to hear their story. everyone has a story and everyone wants to be heard. some people have exhausted every other option and others have turned them all away. i think we all deserve a chance. sometimes a second, third or fourth chance. i understand that occasionally someone is completely undeserving. but more than that, i understand that sometimes it’s just too hard to reach out. it’s painful to even think about being scowled at, yelled at, denied or mocked. and it is those times that i extend my hand and my ear in hopes that just listening will renew their spirit, give them hope and show them that it’s not over.

circumstances and boundaries in my life have changed. i’ve moved a few times, changed jobs a few times and become a mother. my surplus of spare change, spare food and spare clothes has dwindled down to necessities for myself and my son. i have moved my empathy from those abroad to those closer to home. i try to do a little more for my family and friends because they have done for me and continue to do for me. my empathy is strong, but i don’t let it consume me or bring me down. i use it to fuel me into being there for the people who have been there for me. i use it to be a better me. “tis better to give than to receive”, yes?

in a world lost in a sea of grey, black and white remain

black and white are not colors.  it’s true.  ask an art instructor or student.  there are primary, secondary and tertiary colors, but not one of them is white or black. black is “characterized by the absence of light” and white is characterized as “free from color”.  the words, themselves are used in regards to race, moral standing and of course: color. those words are often used in conversation where the topic is referred to as either “black or white”.  while considering this concept i found myself continually saying “but white is white and black is black”.  actually it was more like the aggressive self mumbling of “right is right and wrong is wrong”.  yes! i dooooo understand that it’s all relative and there are many variables involved, but in the end is black not black and white not white?  isn’t the truth the truth?

black and white are one hundred percent.  black is one hundred percent “absent of light” and white is one hundred percent “free from color”.  but the truth and the lie… well, those are horses of a different color, pun intended.  the percentages contained within a truth or a lie can be hundreds, but tend not to be. i believe that it is the relativity and the variables that truly determine the percentage of truth or falsehood. you disagree? what about a “white lie” or a “half-truth”? are they right or are they wrong? how can you tell? and by how much? doesn’t that percentage DEPEND on something? i think they do. they do depend on something: relativity and morality. the relativity of any subject depends on the speaker and the listener. the teller and the receiver and their level of morality and whether the topic or subject is relative to them. what if you’re discussing something with someone who has never seen it, heard about it or experienced it? your version has been experienced and cited by you. what if one of the two is more compromised than the other? what if one person isn’t as moral as the other? the relativity of the truths then comes into play and each person is then scrutinized for what they feel or believe.

while black and white are not colors, i think these words should be descriptive of a truth or a lie. black and white represent absolutes. AB-SO-LUTES. there are so many things in the world that are debatable, but being truthful or being a liar shouldn’t be debatable. either you told the truth or you told a lie. you cannot have both. there should be no elective level of ambiguity allowed. either tell the truth or tell the lie but do it absolutely.

what a great image. referring to living life and not to divulging truths, but it's presence comes across just the same.

so then, what is the purpose for “bending the truth” or telling a “white lie”? i’ll tell you! it’s purely for oneself. no one likes to be labeled as a LIAR. no one. but telling a “white lie”, a “half truth” or “bending the truth” makes one feel .. umm… not so guilty of having LIED. if you didn’t tell the truth, bent the truth or omitted anything from the truth, you told a lie.

no? you disagree? why? let’s example, shall we?

if i work from 9 to 5 and expect to pick my son up from childcare by 5:30 but bend the truth and say i’m off at 5:30 and i will pick him up by 6, so that i have a few moments to myself, have i not LIED? yes! i have. i lied to my provider who is also  working. she is caring for my son and she wants time to herself as well. but what would happen if she found out that i lied? i’ll tell you! she’ll verbally warn me about such indiscretions, she’ll modify my “travel time” almost forcing me to leave work early and she will not tolerate tardiness or excuses. one more of those and we’re done. horrible outcome for a “bending the truth”, you agree? yes, i know you do.

let’s get closer to home: what about a “half truth” with family or loved ones? those are most surely the most hurtful. to tell a coworker you enjoyed her homemade carrot cake (which you can’t stand) is hardly the same as not being truthful with the people who love you and are the closest to you. if you ever find the need to tell the coworker that you don’t like her cake, chances are she’ll shrug it off without much concern. if you’re lucky. but if you tell your great-aunt that you love her carrot cake, you can almost guarantee that anytime you are near you will receive one of this beautifully hand crafted carroty delights: WHICH YOU CAN’T STAND. what will happen when you reveal the truth? what will happen when divulge that you LIED about enjoying the carrot cake, that you simply scraped it into the trash can, but since that day, all you have ever seen or received has been carrot cake. i’ll tell you!! she will be crushed. she will be heartbroken. she will recount the number of times that she went to buy special ingredients for that famed carrot cake, stayed up late preparing it and the number of times that she presented it to you with the pride of knowing that she had made you something that you liked and that she knew you would enjoy. and she will be crushed. she will be crushed recounting the times that she boxed up the leftovers thinking that you would enjoy them later but now realizing and knowing that you gave them away or dropped them in the trash. you wouldn’t dare, would you? yes. you would. you have and you did. and she will vow to NEVER make you a carrot cake again. the problem now is that she may not ever make you anything. she might feel so dejected and so DECEIVED that she removes her apron and flings her hands in the air surrendering and never, EVER, preheating the oven for you. again. surely, this is not what you meant to have happen…. but it IS what happened because the half of your truth was that you LIKE CAKE. not that you like CARROT CAKE. perhaps telling your great-aunt this fact would have served you better.

now, let’s venture for the jugular: where love is concerned, there is no room for lies. not with family, but particularly with loving relationships. the boyfriend/girlfriend, or the husband/wife or any variation thereof. finding out that you have been lied to by someone who you share your most intimates with is more than disheartening. it’s inflammatory and suspect. lying about any one thing, NO MATTER HOW TINY, is still lying and will prove detrimental to your relationship. uh huh, it’s true. no one ever, EVER, ever feels good about finding out the “truth”. especially where the complications of love are involved. if you love someone, you should love them enough to feel vulnerable and truthful with them, no matter how painful it might be to YOU right now. lies FESTER and grow. they start small and eventually morph into something that you can no longer control or remember. they are hurtful and selfish little things that serve only one purpose: to make YOU feel better about YOU. and that is sooooooooooo not the way to be. really, it’s not.

my theory is that if you life a selfish life, you will live a lonely life. you won’t have anyone to share with or confide in. at some point in time you will have pissed off everyone on some level and they will keep their interactions with you to a minimum. they will love you from afar for the person that you are, but they will be cautious about what they share with you, what they request of you and most importantly what they trust you with. you will never have the relationship that you need to live out your final days. and all over a “white lie” or a “half truth” or whateverthehell you wanna call it.

yes, darlings, do yourself a favor, live your life, your way, but do it with tact. have some discretion and providence. make your life one to remember, not one to regret. be your own person. care for yourself and your family. live life to it’s fullest as often as possible, for as long as possible. never be afraid to speak your mind (you don’t have to be rude about it, but you can be to the point). but the most important thing you can do is be honest. BE HONEST. be honest about your likes and dislikes. be honest about your feelings and emotions. be honest with your significant other, your better half, your spouse, your mate and your children. be honest with yourself. your life, your reputation and your happiness depends on it.

have you seen my soul mate?

a sweetheart of a message?... or is it just sugar coating??

“You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.”  ~C.S. Lewis

do you believe in soul mates? you know? the idea that we are each half of one soul and that the other half is locked inside of our long lost mate??? seems plausible, right? and explains our need to have another person close to us… near and dear to us, to whom we can confide, share, explore and learn about ourselves? right? i did believe. i mean, i do. at least, i think i do, but i can’t say for sure. i want to continue to believe, but it gets harder over time. i have to find ways to renew my faith and understanding in such an unconventional concept.

i think the term itself is over-used. it’s hard to know the true meaning of something when it is always misused. when using the term “soul-mate”, one should refer to LOVE or a loving relationship, not friendships or acquaintances. we all have different definitions of love. for most of us, we can’t even pull the words together to provide someone with a description. we know that what we feel is something deep and profound, but to actually describe it is almost outside of our abilities. we end up using emotions to relate how the love of another can devour us whole or how we thoroughly, though sometimes reluctantly, fall heel over head for someone (yes, heel over head, because that’s the way it happened for me. the one time, that i think it happened, but i still can’t say for sure).

...he loves me, he loves me not...

in my quest to further understand this concept, i have done some research. i don’t know about you, but when i have questions, i require answers. most times, those answers lead to more questions and i find myself enveloped in vicious cycle of ask, answer and awe. i dig further, in hopes, that i may find the final answer and not have to use any of my lifelines. if ever there were a case of “i need more information”, it is the quest to understand the “soul mate” (imma stop using the quotation marks (“”) every time i say “soul mate” because it’s just getting redundant and you are well aware of the topic). how can i find/locate/track my soul mate if i don’t know what my soul mate is supposed to be or entail? so… let’s start with the basics: a definition.

here is the definition of soul mate as stated by merriam-webster online:

1: a person who is perfectly suited to another in temperament
2: a person who strongly resembles another in attitudes or beliefs
.
that seems simple enough, right? but temperament, attitude or beliefs are not limited to loving relationships. that definition could be applied to just about any relationship and that is the opposite of what i want. it can take a lifetime to find someone with the same attitude. and beliefs? well, we could spend yet another entire lifetime trying to match those criteria. let’s dig deeper, shall we? here’s a description of soul mate as stated by wikipedia:

A soul mate is a person with whom one has a feeling of deep or natural affinity, similarity, love, intimacy, sexuality, spirituality, or compatibility.

that seems a lot like the merriam-webster definition with a few more adjectives. i do like the incorporation of “natural”. we’re getting closer, but this is not the cigar. we have yet to discover why the “soul” is involved. let us continue in our quest. ok, ok.. here’s some additional input by urban dictionary:

A person with whom you have an immediate connection the moment you meet — a connection so strong that you are drawn to them in a way you have never experienced before. As this connection develops over time, you experience a love so deep, strong and complex, that you begin to doubt that you have ever truly loved anyone prior. Your soul mate understands and connects with you in every way and on every level, which brings a sense of peace, calmness and happiness when you are around them. And when you are not around them, you are all that much more aware of the harshness of life, and how bonding with another person in this way is the most significant and satisfying thing you will experience in your lifetime. You are also all that much aware of the beauty in life, because you have been given a great gift and will always be thankful. by elliek Sep 2, 2006 (this was the first and most adored response on the site. thank you elliek.)
.
very good. more criteria for our checklist, but this version brings to light that we are “drawn to them”. she uses the word connect. i think those are key points to what i am trying to define. obviously merriam-webster is a well known and recognized source for facts. both wikipedia and urban dictionary are “wikis” and so those descriptions are derived from us: the readers. we are the major contributors. since what i am looking for is from within, based on feeling and derived from emotion… it might be best to go with a more modern version instead of the conventional. who’s to say that any version is wrong? you can’t tell what another person feels and you can’t tell them how to feel. for example; you can’t look at another and determine if they have a headache or nausea (unless they are suffering a physical manifestation of this problem like loss of balance or vomiting). you can’t tell if someone has a migraine, a toothache … or, if they are in love. you can only inquire and you are then forced to believe what they tell you (well, there’s what whole actions versus words debate too, but we’ll get into that at a later date). some people, like myself, wear their hearts on their sleeve. you can look at them and almost see what they are feeling. but truthfully, they still have to confirm it with you.

by these definitions, i am soul mates with just about everyone. there is nothing here that provides me with the “a-ha!” that i am seeking to define. i am a lover. and a giver. i care deeply for family and friends, but also for people who might not always be deserving. my gramma used to tell me that i “love too hard and too fast”. it has proven to be difficult but i have learned to reel it in over the years. i tend to be overly helpful and secretly inspirational to most anyone i come in contact with. more helpful and inspirational to others than i am for myself. none of this helps me in my plight to define and locate my soul mate. perhaps i should seek a deeper description of the word(s). it is a word/phrase that i have heard many times over my lifespan and i am certain that it’s history is richer than what i have already listed. let me lookee see what i can find. (*click*type*click*type*) …aaahhhh, here we go.

according to greek mythology:

Aristophanes presented a story about soulmates in The Symposium by Plato. (The Symposium is a philosophical text by Plato dated c. 385–380 BCE. It concerns itself at one level with the genesis, purpose and nature of love.) It states that humans originally consisted of four arms, four legs, and a single head made of two faces, but Zeus feared their power and split them all in half, condemning them to spend their lives searching for the other half to complete them (let me add that: Aristophanes was a comedic poet. considered vulgar and shrewd but also considered a genius).

well, that certainly sheds a little light on that underlying feeling. the want that stems from the inside. i don’t know how realistic it is, but it certainly makes sense that if we were together as one, and then forced to split, that we would spend all eternity soul searching. there are several other definitions from several religions and philosophies providing reason and explanation to the fact that we may have been “one” a long time ago, and now we are two. or that we somehow became estranged from our other half via divinity or karma. whether we were separated from or just looking for.. we all seem to NEED someONE else. not someTHING. someONE.

with all of those answers, i still wanted more. so i “took it to the streets”. i presented the simple question: “Do you believe in soul mates?” it was presented publicly on facebook as well as personally via text message and conversation. i received a little more than a dozen responses. facebook provided: eight for yes, one for no and two i don’t knows. i received an additional three for yes via text message and one verbal confirmation. no one chose i don’t care. it seems that most everyone feels the tug of love. the internal, sometimes subliminal, quest for completion. oneness.

have you ever seen a couple that makes you stop and stare? their love is magnetic and contagious. without really knowing it, you watch them and smile, maybe even blush. they might be having an outright public conversation but there is something overtly private about them. an “inside joke”, if you will. their connectivity is intoxicating and you want to hug them both and say “you crazy kids!!” i have known a few of those couples, but one stands alone:  DaShaun and Alegria. i knew DaShaun when i was eighteen. we were acquainted with one another for maybe three years, about eighteen years ago. we had many mutual friends and shared a fondness for hip hop music. facebook brought us back together and reintroduced him to me as a family man. he married his teenage love and they have two phenomenally gorgeous children. each time i communicate with them and look at their photos, i am taken aback by the sincerity of the love that shines through. when i originally posed my soul mate question, i knew in my heart they would both answer and that their answer would undeniably be yes. read what they had to say and see if your jaw doesn’t drop!

blog research topic: soul mates

questions:

  1. what’s your theory on it?
  2. do you believe?
  3. why or why not?
talk to me people.
  • Alegria: my theory is that it depends on your personality and who you are…I know my husband is my soul mate and I definitely believe. I will say though that I am not sure that everyone has one for them out there if that makes sense…TBC!
  • Tanisha to ‎DaShaun: what do you think? 😀
  • Tanisha to‎ Alegria:  sweetheart, from the outside looking in (and reading) you two were meant for each other. it’s phenomenally beautiful to see.
  • Tanisha:  i think the same for your parents Willy and Salvador. what i see when i look at your photos, your art, your lives and being able to read about them all.. i feel honored, involved and certain that you were all handpicked for one another.
  • Alegria: oh my Tanisha you are beyond lovely! thank you and yes I must agree…D and I reunited after so many years from our youth so it always felt meant to be and my parents…well it goes without saying. I only hope that everyone gets to feel that once in their life!
  • Alegria: I am looking forward to your next blog post on this subject!
  • DaShaun:My earth hit it right on the head ! Although I must say in theory I do believe That there is someone 4 everyone, Just depends if you were in the right Mindset in that space time 2 receive your love . I do believe just Like My earth said.
  • Tanisha:  see that? poetry in motion. you two are kinetic and contagious!!!

Alegria and DaShaun

holy cow! he calls her his “earth” (i underlined, bold and italicized that in case you didn’t see it). what could be more romantic and heartfelt than that? they really are amazing people and i am anxious to see them. to reunite with DaShaun, to actually meet Alegria and to see their wonderful children: live and in living color. but, back to my point… doesn’t this little tidbit of their story renew your feeling? it does, for me. and if you’re a non-believer, how can you be after that?? did i mention that they knew each other once, went their separate ways and returned to each other years later??? that oughta be the kicker! it’s true, not everyone gets a fairy tale. every couple is not a “love at first sight” situation. we don’t all meet each others gaze across a crowded room.. and sometimes, we can’t see the forest for the trees (meaning, sometimes that person is right in front of you, but you’re too busy looking everywhere else). what i have come to understand is that sometimes, most times, there is something bigger than us: navigating us and guiding us. something that puts us in the right place at the right time and them BOOM!!

still, after all of that; the question, the definitions and explanations, the other questions and answers, i still find that i have more questions. what is my soul mate based on? what part of my soul? and from what age? where am i likely to find them? are they from my home town or my favorite place? are they from the place where i “found myself”? are they lost along my travels and perhaps left behind? did i just miss them, like the tour bus or the elevator? what if they are none of these things? what if my soul mate is a stranger, in another country? what if we have absolutely nothing in common, but are still “drawn” to one another? and the list could go on and on with the “what if’s” and “but’s”.

it is that entire line of questioning that brings me back to skeptical. like a lot of other life questions, no one truly has the answer. i mean, it makes me think that the mere idea of soul mates is just emotional comfort food for relationships. something we tell ourselves to stay positive and upbeat. particularly after break ups or horrible blind dates. in january, there were approximately 6.8 billion people in the world. that’s a lot of souls, a lot of match making and a lot of what if’s. i’m sure you’ve heard the statement “there’s someone for everyone”. really? are you sure about that? how sure are you about that statement? i know it sounds like i’ve given up, but i haven’t. i am just inquiring. analyzing.

do you feel like half? like half of yourself? i do, sometimes. as if there is something missing. i occasionally feel an emptiness. a yearning for someone. someone to talk to, laugh and cry with. someone with whom i share my secrets, my dreams and my weaknesses. you know, that person that “gets me”… the one that “really gets me”. that quote makes me think of the movie Hancock. with wil smith and charlize theron. they were .. uhh, different– super-hero like. she spends the majority of the movie trying to keep him away from her family. she doesn’t give any particular reason and towards the end of the movie she explains to both Hancock and her in-the-dark husband, ray (played by jason bateman), that whatever they were, they were made in twos and she and he were the last two left. “the others paired up and died”. she further clarifies their realtionship by stating:
.
Mary Embrey: [talking to her husband ray, referring to Hancock] We broke up decades ago. Long before you were born. He just can’t remember.
(i skipped ray’s dialogue here).
Mary Embrey: Whatever we are, we were built in twos, okay? We were drawn to each other. No matter how far I run, he’s always there. He finds me. It’s physics.
Ray Embrey: What are you saying? Are you saying you two are fated to be together?
Mary Embrey: I’ve lived for a very long time, Ray. And the one thing I’ve learned: Fate doesn’t decide everything. People get to choose.
.

charlize theron as mary embrey and wil smith as john hancock

oooooohh! physics. well that’s a nice spin. it explains the PHYSICal need to locate this other person. it helps to think that there is something innate to guide us to where we need to be. that it’s not just left up to me to try and discover this person, wherever they may be. and then here come the questions… what if you’re not in tune with your innate need for another? what if you’re oblivious to the signs? what if subtle hints are not your brand of tea? what if your soul mate is a complete non-believer and has no intention of buying into the theory? ugh.. back and forth and back and forth.
.
i guess that’s where the “people get to choose” part comes in. i CHOOSE to believe. i choose to follow my heart. and, well, soul mate, if you’re out there, I HOPE YOU CHOOSE. i hope you choose to be conscious, to listen to your insides that will guide you to me. yes, soul mate, i’m talking to you. i hope that you’re prepared to have someone know you, really know you. someone who won’t mind caring for you and sharing with you. someone who wants to love you, wholeheartedly and uninhibited. someone, like me.
.
while conducting my research, i spent a sizable amount of time surfing the net (as always). one of my favorite new websites is stumbleupon.com. i stumbled upon this quote, smack dab in the middle of my online ask and answer session with facebook. coincidence? happenstance? who’s to say? no matter how, it’s an awesome quote and i am so excited to share. through my three thousand words, i could not have sought a better explanation. i believe, yes, i believe. you should believe too.
.

“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.”

~ Bob Marley

the majestic music-making hands of mr. bob marley

father’s day stinks. period.

this is my father.

Kenneth Howard Ware - 1956 ~ 1977

this may very well be one of the last pictures taken of him. it was taken in october of 1977, outside of the house i grew up in. my father’s name was Kenneth. that is also my son’s name. did you notice i said “was”? i guess his name is still Kenneth, but he is no longer. the fact is, in october, he will have passed away thirty-four years ago. i know, a total bummer right? yeah, for me too. trust me when i tell you that if i could enjoy and celebrate the day known as “father’s day” i would. but for me, it just pours salt in a very, very old wound.

i was only two when he died, and he was just twenty-one. we were taken from each other far too soon. in that photo he is leaning up against his motorcycle. a twenty-first birthday present from my grandmother just two months prior. that is the motorcycle that he crashed on. a crash that eventually ended his life. i have tried, really tried, over the years to find a reason, any reason, to celebrate on father’s day. but no matter what, i end up mourning. even now that i am a mother and my son has a father, i still can’t get into the swing of it. i have known some wonderful father’s over the years and i appreciate them for all that they are worth. but they are not mine.

i’d be a liar if i said that everyday felt this way. i have outgrown the “poor me” portion. i have moved beyond the anger, the disappointment and the general depression that come with not only losing a parent, but losing one that i didn’t get the chance to know. i hope this doesn’t sound too harsh, but i am thirty-six years old. he died when i was two and i can honestly say that i don’t have any memories of him. i only have photos and the stories that others have shared with me. i don’t remember what it felt like to look in his eyes and have him look back. i don’t remember his hugs or his kisses good night. i don’t remember him at all and perhaps that is the worst feeling ever. i don’t just have a missing parent, a missing family member. i have an emptiness that never EVER seems to fill. it won’t close, it won’t divert and worst of all it sometimes feels deeper and darker than the years before… mostly on father’s day.

i changed my profile picture on facebook to that of my mother, to honor her for mother’s day. almost everyone did and it was so nice to see. we left them there for the entire week and changed them that following monday. today i noticed the photos changing to that of the dad’s. i did it too. to show my pride and to honor him, but every time i looked at the picture i felt that salt again. and boy did it hurt. it was only there for a few hours, and i actually had things to do and left the house. but that picture didn’t ever leave my mind. as soon as i returned home i changed it back to a picture of me. it’s just too painful for me to see his face over and over. writing about him now has brought me to tears. and oddly, i always try to hold them back thinking “there’s no need for this”. no matter how hard i cry today or tomorrow, father’s day will bring a whole new bout.

i have tried to ignore it. i have tried to channel it and i have even tried to actually celebrate it, but my heart’s never in it. all i really wanna do is curl up in a ball and say “why me? why me?” but no matter how many times i ask, i never get an answer. even if i did, i don’t think it would make me feel any better. i recognize the importance of celebrating the people that we have loved and lost, but i would rather black out the day on the calendar and sleep right through it. i’d rather not see the signs posted to “not forget” or the advertisements for ties, tools and daddy related stuffs. this is one particular holiday that i could really do without. so yeah, father’s day stinks. period.

here are my favorite pictures of him. i left them just the way they were when i scanned them. discolored from the magnetic photo albums, the sun, the dust and the photo frames. i have preferred to leave everything of his… just as it was. i did the best i could to keep them in some sort of time sequence according to what i remember of what my sweet granny told me. i could be off a little, but you’ll get the picture…

here, at just a little over a year old..

my dad and his grandma: Annie Pearl

decked out in a three-piece suit WITH bowtie

the little conductor, at christmas. my gramma said he was ecstatic to have received his train set.

my dad and my gramma. i still don't know why he looks so scared.

i think this is my favorite of all time. i think it was from a christmas morning.

my dad on the far left. always tallest. this photo was in the newspaper. i don't know why.

all of the potential in the world...

a man and his guitar. i still have the guitar.

his last driver's license. issued june 1977.

and here are the only pictures of us, together:

daddy and daughter.

he had surgery for his horrible fallen arches. arches he passed on to me. and we are next to his beloved GTO (i think).

lovin' his baby girl. my gramma said "he never could get enough of you."

i've been told that whenever he was near me, braids and barrettes came out and the afro was picked, plucked and shaped. like daddy, like daughter.

so this, my lovelies, is why father’s day stinks. for me. i hope i didn’t break your heart. mine will be broken for all time. to you i say: love your fathers! LOVE YOUR FATHERS!! love your uncles, brothers, cousins and husbands. love your children’s father. love them because you can. even if you’re hurt or angry, love them. know that on father’s day i will not be happy or cheerful. i will not pretend to be something i am not. i am a daughter without her father and i will always be this way. missing him is my way of life, but it doesn’t get any easier. ever. you’ll forgive me if i don’t change my profile picture or come to your barbecue, won’t you?

the house that keeps on giving

a house is not a home. as so elegantly sung by the late luther vandross (thanks, mama, i love you for that song). it is a structure built with the intention and desire to one day be purchased and fulfill it’s destiny to actually become a home. some houses struggle their entire existence trying to become a home. i have been blessed to know many “homes” during my time. my mama’s house, my gramma’s house and my aunt’s house– no matter where they have been or will be, will always be my home(s). but i am lucky enough to have another home. it belongs to my best friend’s parents. they have been married for twenty-five years. they are both retired but have a busy social life and still manage to take care of their parents, their kids and the Three Grandkid-teers. this is a story about the home that they made, provided and shared. a home unlike any other.

in the thirty plus years that i have been a part of their family, i suspect that i have spent years at their house. i don’t know the exact number, but it’s safe to say that it would rival the actual number of hours that i spent at my own home. for as long as i can remember, the front door has been unlocked during normal operating hours. the front yard has not changed that much, and neither has the house for that matter. the only things that i can actually recall being changed affect the aesthetics of the house: the windows, the paint, several screen doors (not for pretty, but because of big headed, strong willed canines) and the decorations. it is now as it has always been — simple, warm and inviting.

the queen of the castle is meticulous. there is a method to her madness and if you don’t know it, you’ll soon find out. she likes her things “just so” and her things like it too. they are used to her and will unknowingly tattle-tell, if and when, you misplace or abuse them. she will see what you have done before you do. confess. it’s in your best interest. the king of the castle is laid back. not much bothers him that i’ve come to find. together, they manage their household seamless and flawlessly.

i grew up across the street, hence the amount of time i spent there. it’s a great house to grow up in and i have always known that. but recently, i had the opportunity to stay there for a week. the king and queen were away on travel. they provide weekly childcare for their three youngest grandchildren. with them out of town, the responsibility fell upon Nanny. the queen’s mom. but she’s eighty-four and while she can handle herself, expecting her to care for the two toddlers is outside of the comfort range. that’s where i came in. i agreed to house/baby/granny-sit in order to ensure comfort, ease of mind and a change of pace for all involved. what an adventure. so there’s Nanny, my SweetHeart Callie, her little brother the MadMan AJ and their littler cousin the PetiteSweet Emmie. not to mention, that i had with me my effervescent and energetic four-year-old SuperBoy Kenneth and me. whew. if there was ever a place to watch and care for a senior citizen, elementary schooler, preschooler, two toddlers, three dogs, a guinea pig and a betta fish.. it’s this house. thank the lord for the house on BlahBlah Street!

let’s start with a sorta-tour of the premises. the front yard is large and accommodating. there is enough play room and comfort room to watch the kids out front. through the front door is the formal living room. it’s formal. the furniture is white and there are lots of fragile breakable ceramic and glass items in there. stay out. it’s not a request, it’s an order. just don’t go in there or be in there unless it’s christmas eve and you’re with the rest of the family opening presents. moving on.. leaving the formal living room takes you to the formal dining room. again, it’s formal. stay out. unless it’s your birthday, they’re having a party for you and it’s time to blow out the candles. the formal dining room gives way to the family dining area. it’s cozy and comfortable and centrally located. from there you can go one of two ways, into the tv room or into the kitchen. there is a den, respectively known as “the tv room” and it holds one of the four televisions in the home, the fireplace and a pool table. yes, a pool table. the bestie and i used to play pool for hours. now it’s covered with plastic and serves as the queen’s craft table. uuummmm, don’t move her stuff. 😀 i don’t want you to think that she’s mean or territorial, she’s the queen. it’s her castle and she has rules and regulations. she is extremely generous and kind. it is because of the queen that the house is able to give relentlessly. technically it’s all her, and she just uses the house to share her love.

the tv room and family dinner table are right off the best room in the house… the kitchen! i love kitchens. all kitchens. they truly are the heart of the home. besides the appliances, you’re more than likely going to find Nanny in the kitchen. she cooks and bakes constantly. you will also find any and everything you could possibly want to eat. there is always cereal. probably four different kinds as well as a variety of milks to choose from. there is a fruit basket that is never empty. the most astounding part to me is that it always has apples, oranges and bananas. how awesome and healthy is that? it makes me smile just to think about it. the children will have good eating habits, even without their knowledge or effort. there are several other items that are a staple including yogurt, jell-o, popsicles, tortilla chips, a microwave meal or six, low-fat popcorn and sandwich fixins. oh, and a fifty-gallon bag of shredded cheese. again i say, how awesome is that? and what a great place to grow up in. there is now, and has always been a ‘snack drawer’. it’s what the bestie and her brother used to pick their lunch box treats from. it’s moved locations a couple of times, but it seems to multiply when your back is turned. it is never close to empty and always full of variety. more awesomeness.

just off the kitchen is the laundry room. the house (more like the queen or Nanny) processes no less than three loads of laundry a day. everything required is conveniently placed within reach. it also has a storage area full of food. yes, more food. the kitchen is full of food and the laundry room is half food, half cleaning supplies. next you’ll enter the “front bathroom”. it’s got a pink theme. always has. it also has two doors which can be confusing and/or embarrassing, depending on what you’re doing in there when the other door opens. there are four bedrooms, one of them is a part-time office. the beds are always made and every room has a ceiling fan to ensure maximum comfort. there are four televisions and a computer in the home. everyone can pretty much watch what they want and not have to fight with or disturb another.

the backyard is complete with plastic playhouse, small swing, things with wheels and a swimming pool with diving board and slide. what could be more inviting? i know! an on hand barbecue and the pool is fenced in so there’s no need to obsess about the kids falling in. the house is constantly telling you:

“you’re safe here. take a load off. you hungry? sleepy? rest. relax, i got you.”

now, if you have yet to be impressed by what i’ve described, take a trip out the back, into the garage and down the stairs. from what i remember, the garage has never held more than one car at a time. the king has his woodcutting hobby down there and of course there’s always storage, but what will catch your eye is the stock pile of food items down there. yes, more food. it’s breathtaking. i’m sure that Sam’s Club buys from her, instead of the other way around. there is so much food. but also, the consumable products: paper towels, paper plates, napkins, plastic cups, ziploc bags and the like. they make clean up with kids quicker and easier and who doesn’t love that? there’s more detergent in the garage than on the whole block. and all of these things add to the comfort of the home. they add to the ambiance and feeling that you are cared for when you’re there and you needn’t worry.

ok, so let’s zoom back in time to the beginning of last week. the king and queen left on tuesday and my aunt dropped us off on BlahBlah Street that afternoon. my son has many allergies and when we stay away, i pack my whole house. we unloaded and started our week-long working-vacation. we entered the house and immediately were harassed by the resident dog family: candy, peachy and mickey. we greeted everyone in the house and Nanny was already cooking dinner. she had promised us a chicken dinner a few weeks earlier but got held up running errands with her grandson. on the menu was fried chicken breasts, nanny-tatoes (kinda like homefries but better), green beans and chocolate covered vanilla cake. whooo hoo! it’s great to be home. my son was too excited to eat. he loves my bestie’s kids and just wanted to be outside running a muck. the rest of us ate and let the weight of the day slip away. the backyard calls to the children. they spend the majority of their time outside. however, it was a little chilly and the sprinklers came on so we corralled them and brought them inside for a movie.

the PetiteSweet, the youngest of the group leaves around dinnertime. both boys were broken hearted. she’s a people watcher and pretty quiet. but she’s quick on her toes. it looked like the two boys were getting physical and a hand came flying her direction, not only did she block it but she responded just as fast with an almost-hit-back. you go, girl! my son had instantly become enamored with her. Callie is his first love. he followed her everywhere to the point of annoyance. they all love each other though. it’s very cute to watch. dinner, movie, baths and bed. we slept in the SweetHeart’s room. she has a guinea pig, named G-force, and he is loud at night.

something about the combination of the guinea pig, the princess bed unlike my own and the realization that no one can say “i love you” louder and more clearly than if they ask you to care for their child(ren), made me not sleep that night. i was excited and a little nervous to wake the next day and have the responsibility of “the house” on my shoulders. eventually i fell asleep and when i woke up, the bestie had gone to work, the SweetHeart was already gone to school and the MadMan was still asleep. it was just Nanny, SuperBoy and i. i found Nanny in the kitchen (duh), drinking her coffee. you can’t get close to Nanny without being offered something to eat or drink, or eat. she wanted to know what i was going to eat. was it cereal? was it toast? was it chocolate covered vanilla cake? what, what was i going to eat?

“nothing right now, Nan, i’m ok.”

she continued… for at least another fifteen minutes. finally she told me:

“you’re makin’ me nervous by not eating! you want me to fix you something? i’ll fix ya whatever ya want, you know that. what can i fix? ya want some pancakes?”

“yes, Nan, pancakes would be awesome.”

“goood. i’ll start on um right now.”

she made me a stack of pancakes everyday, for four days straight! they were almost as big as the plate and drenched in butter (i love butter). she made me a stack of four, SuperBoy a stack of two and just one for the MadMan. that’s enough pancakes to satisfy an elephant and enough butter to last for the rest of 2011. death by pancakes. but you won’t catch me complaining, honestly. it was a pleasure and a delight. we should all be so lucky as to be forced to eat fresh pancakes every morning. before i could take the last bite and walk my plate into the kitchen, everything was cleaned up. i couldn’t even tell she made anything and then she was off to do the laundry while telling me to leave my plate in the sink. amazing.

Nanny allows the kids to help her do any and everything. SweetHeart is a junior chef already. she likes to be involved in all cooking processes somewhere along the way, and she doesn’t want your help, just your guidance. she can “do it”.  Nanny let’s the kids sit on the kitchen counter next to her while she instructs them accordingly. she lets the MadMan, a two-year-old, help her with the laundry. it’s the cutest and sweetest thing. he’s standing all tippy-toe on top of the tiny dryer-lent trash can and she hands him the clothes items one-by-one. she’s so patient and easy going. unless you’re refusing breakfast. i aspire to be as sweet, gentle, caring and wonderful as she is.

the days flew by pretty easy. (note: the PetiteSweet is only at the house for a few hours in the afternoon. and she didn’t make it the rest of the week. 😦 we enjoyed our day with her though. we look forward to the next time we see her.) with two boys in the house all day there is a lot of running, screaming and hitting. occasionally spitting, immediately followed by time-out. there was also a lot of “give it, gimme it, stop it” and “mine”. but all-in-all, they are like brothers and play as well as two brothers could. inside, outside, inside, outside and inside. outside. and with them, there are no inside voices. there’s one voice for the both in and outside. and it’s LOUD. they are more entertained by classic animation including tom & jerry and scooby doo than any of the newer, more impressive, pixar created movies. they love them all, but tom & jerry genuinely makes them laugh.

on the second night i proceeded to give SuperBoy a bath, once the water started running the MadMan came around the corner faster than lightning. i think all children have super-sonic hearing. especially if they hear the sounds of something they want to be doing. my son was in the tub and i was getting a towel from under the bathroom sink. i looked up and AJ was already out of his pajama pants.

“i wanna takey baff”

dammitalltohell. now there’s two of them in there. they did pretty good, there was only a quarter of an inch of water across the bathroom floor. it reminded me of this:

we pretty much did this same thing everyday. i got to start each morning with fresh pancakes. i think it was on the third day that both boys were seated and waiting. AJ said “yummy yumma”. if it had been warmer i would have braved the swimming area with the boys. there’s a hot tub that would have held the three of us comfortably. speaking of hot tub.. did i tell you that i found a rawhide dog bone, swimming pool brush head and superman in the bottom of the hot tub. i retrieved the items and gave the superman figurine back to the MadMan only to blink and see him actually throw it and watch superman hit the surface and sink to the bottom. i left him there for a day or so. 😀 as well, i found the fabulous and rootin’est tootin’est cowboy Woody in the hose attachment point of the shop vac. i present to you, exhibit a:

exhibit a

shop vac toy torture

can you see that? here.. lemme help you.

exhibit a zoom-in

the rootin'est tootin'est cowboy

the days flew by almost effortlessly. what a fun time. it wasn’t work at all. nothing out of the ordinary. i was happy to have some time away from my home, to allow my son to have an outing, to give my aunt some personal space, but also to be taken care of by the house, Nanny and the kids. they really took care of me. i left there happier and healthier. it made me grateful for all of the wonderful people that i have in my life. from Nanny all the way down to the PetiteSweet, i am loved. my aunt makes and saves a place for me and my son in her heart and in her home. she’s a saint. my bestie’s family loves me enough to entrust me with their little angels and their sweet sweet gramma’s. i am blessed! i am truly cared for. i hope that if i am ever fortunate enough to purchase a house that i will be able to turn it into a home. a home that will provide and embrace my family and friends for generations to come. a home that can cater to the elderly, small children and a variety of pets. a house that will keep on giving.

a little goes a long way

i have known my best friend for more than thirty years. her name is shannon. i am six months older but she is more mature. way. together we are gorgeous, neurotic and hilarious. we share common interests; including entertainment, clothing, accessories and sweet tooths. especially the sweet tooths. we have been through the thick and the thin, the better and the worse and we still love each other. she is my sister, my mentor and my therapist. i love her dearly. when our relationship started, we were little girls. we have survived childhood, adolescence and have grown into women. we have weathered the storms of other friends, boyfriends, the birth of each others firsts and the death of loved ones. we are part of each others families and we wouldn’t want it any other way. while we have been many places together and share many memories, we have always had the best time doing absolutely nothing… besides being together.

we grew up across the street from one another. i would go to her house for days on end. she had a swimming pool, snack drawer, little brother and a gramma much like my own. her mom introduced herself to my gramma in the grocery store. the rest is a lifetime worth of memories and good times. we have walked, biked and roller skated through the city of grand terrace a hundred times over. i have probably spent years of my life at her mom’s house. we used to hunt for ladybugs, ride anything with wheels and spend hours a day in the backyard. we would sit up at night in the kitchen; snack on everything and giggle about anything. as we got older we continued with these same activities, even after we moved away from our parents and grandparents.  we have always snuck out of the house to see each other when we were sick and not supposed to go anywhere. we also used to call each other and say:

“i’m bored.”

“me too.”

“well come over here and be bored with me.”

isn’t that hilarious? and we would do exactly that. just be in the same place. bored and usually eating. we simply enjoyed the company. we don’t get together as often as we used to because.. well…. because we’re adults, we have families, jobs and other obligations. the days turn into weeks and months before you know it. it took me a long time to realize that it didn’t matter if we had elaborate plans, simple plans or if we actually did anything at all. just being together and sharing is all the good time we needed.

shannon has two children and they are both my sweethearts. callie is my original sweetheart. she is shannon’s first. she is my first as well. i experienced that pregnancy with shannon, including nausea, weight gain and sobriety. the three of us (shannon, alfonso and i) were connected at the hip during that time. we went to shannon’s appointments together, we painted the house together and we even went to lamaze class as a happy family; just the three of us. i was enamored with this little girl and she had yet to take a breath. she had a place in my heart, my home and my new car. she happened to be born on my saturday. at that time i had three consecutive days off. i took two extra days off just to be close. i was so excited to see and meet her. when shannon returned to work three months later. i kept callie for one of those three days off. i had my own supplies including car seat, bathtub, towels, clothing and eating supplies. she always made me happy. when i felt bad, i went to see callie. when i felt depressed, i went to see callie. whenever i needed a pick-me-up, i sought callie. she loved me too. one day she sat on my head and when her mama inquired as to what she was doing, she responded:

“i love herrrrrrrrrr.”

years later, when i was pregnant with my son, i saw her almost everyday. they lived in between my work and home. every night i would stop by and give her a bath. we had fuuuuuun. this carried on until my prego belly was too big to accommodate. i was unable to find a comfortable way to bathe her and still be able to breathe. not to mention, my son had his hard joints pressed into every rib. yes, bathing my darlin’ became a chore and i had to resign. she was N. O. T. happy. not at all. she cried the first night. she refused to allow shannon to bathe her. she wanted “neeeeesshaaa to doooo itttt”. she didn’t even stay in the bathtub, she got up, stomped down the hallway to the master bedroom and sat sulking on the floor of the shower.

my son, kenneth, was born a few months later. shannon was present and pacing in the delivery room. moments after he was born, i dismissed my cheerleader and fan club to get some much-needed rest. the next morning i received a phone call from her asking:

“can you have four-year-old visitors? can you please ask? she’s dying to see you. she’s been crying about it.”

my poor sweetheart was tortured knowing that kenneth had made it into the world and that she hadn’t seen him yet. she came to the hospital laden with gifts, goodies and curiosity. she even wore a new outfit! she climbed up in the bed beside me and looked at him with awe. she inspected his fingers and toes. his not yet formed belly button. she commented on how hairy he was. she was so excited she could hardly contain herself. a week later, we all (alfonso, shannon, callie, mike, kenneth and i) went to big bear for a couple of nights. it was during that time that callie found out that newborns were not as much fun as she had hoped. they don’t play, they don’t cooperate and they usually have something going in or coming out of them. that did not hinder her interest in him at all. she was attendant at every diaper change and she asked every question under the sun. she loved kenneth. she kept tabs on him and she made the idea of nursing him utterly hilarious.

“why he cry, neesha?”

“he’s hungry sweetheart.”

“what him wants, neesha?”

“he drinks milk.”

“oh, want mama get it ?”

“no sweetheart, i have milk for him.”

“where?”

“well. hold on, lemme ask mama something.”

“shaaaaaaannon!”

“what?”

“callie wants to know where his milk comes from.”

“tell her.”

“ok. well, sweetheart, his milk is in my boobies.”

“oh” she said with a very curious look on her face. we all know it was a concept too complex for her to understand, but she attempted to. every time he cried after that she said:

“i think him hungry. i think him wants you boobie.”

priceless! she is still just as curious and candid today. i love her very much. she is absolutely beautiful inside and out. she is very considerate and helpful. she got to be big sister for kenneth and that turned out to be excellent training when the MadMad showed up almost two years later. i was not as close in proximity when shannon was pregnant with AJ. she gave birth to him quietly and without me as a screaming cheerleader. we did not start out with the same relationship that i had with callie. however, we have since made up for it and he is my friend. he comes to me when he’s happy, hungry or hurt. he sometimes calls me “neesa”. and sometimes he calls me “mama”. i’ll take it either way. he’s a lot of fun and i adore him just as much as i adore his sister. i have given birth once, but i have three children. they rock my world.

now, with ALL of that said, we are two women, two friends, and we share our three children. we are close in ways that cannot be explained. hopefully the friendships of our children will stand the test of time and they can blog about each other in the future. we had a sleepover recently. simple, yet astounding. shannon and her little man, my friend “the MadMan AJ” came to pick us up. apparently, AJ had inquired as to our whereabouts first thing in the morning for two days in a row. he’d asked for us and we were available. the boys are always excited to see and play with each other.  they pulled up into the driveway and as shannon opened her door, i could hear AJ chanting:

“kenneth. kenneth. kenneth?”

his voice makes me smile. he’s a happy little man. he has the most expressive eyes and boy, does he know how to use them. i peeked inside the car and when he saw me those eyes opened wide and he squealed:

“neeeessa! kenneth? kenneth? kenneth?”

“he’s coming sweetheart, hold on.”

“kenneth?”

we made a few stops and when we got to the house, the boys busted out of the car faster than you could imagine. they ran straight inside murmuring about choo choo trains and went into AJ’s room. he came out shortly with a puzzled look on his face:

“neeesa. help. choo choo train.”

i pulled all of the train related items from our overnight gear. they just wanted to hold a train each and watch the thomas the train dvd. two peas in a pod those boys are.  they rip and run until they are worn out. they get testy with one another and have been known to hit. but if you separate them, you’ll be sorry. they have to have eyes on each other at all times. my son asks for AJ constantly. you would think they were separated at birth. good memories and a great friendship are being formed. it warms my heart.

so we watched some movies, snacked (of course),  and then it was bedtime… until “g’morning!”. we were going to make breakfast. WERE. we had pulled the waffle iron out and all sorts of things, only to realize that the dishwasher was going to be installed and the magic man that would do it was already on his way. plan change: to zorba’s i went. with breakfast retrieved and the boys seated, we served them and fed ourselves standing, the way most moms do.

we didn’t have any plans, just to be together. we often take the kids for walks. to help expend some energy, to get them out of the house, to enjoy the world and all of the critters it has to offer. so, we walked to the park. they had so much fun. all three kids were on the swings at the same time. i was being ordered around:

“mama, push me.” from my own.

“neesa. fwing. help.” from the MadMan, and

“neesha, can you push me higher?” from the little miss.

they were ecstatic. it was amazing. they were laughing hysterically and for just a second and it made me laugh too. they were so happy and it didn’t cost a dime to take them to the park. they were swinging with each other, laughing at one another and enjoying life. callie and i agreed that swinging barefoot is the bees knees. if you’ve never done it, i suggest you do it. i took so many pictures. i just wanted to stay there and watch them. freeze time. they grow up so fast and time breezes by.

this friendship, between shannon and i, this life long friendship was based around these same types of outings. going for walks, bike rides and swinging at the park. when we were kids, shannon almost always took me with her, wherever she went. we have been everywhere together. her family has always included me and treated me as a family member. back then, we didn’t have money or cars, we just had each other. someone to talk to and laugh with. we were blessed that our families came to pass one another. and our children are also blessed because of it. they are able to visit, interact and love one another as often as we can get them together. granted, groceries, water for fun and baths, along with something damaged and/or broken are not free. they are a luxury, but the time together is free, and the small cost is worth it. our friendship and theirs are effortless and rewarding. just us. just them. it’s essentially us all over again, but this time with an audience.

i have come to appreciate this friendship on a whole new level now that we have children and they are able to interact. i have some very dear friends from my childhood and from my different places of employ, but my thirty year friendship with shannon is one to be recognized. we have been through a lot, and even when separated by distance, we have always been there for each other. i hope that our children are able to foster the same type of relationships with each other. we have laid the ground work and provided an example. we talk to each other, laugh with and at each other, and we love each other. we share, we care and we make room for each other and our kids. we don’t always make plans or have a place to go. we just need to make room and be prepared. yup, a little goes a long way.

the simplicities of the intricacies

we have a beautiful backyard. i will be the first to admit that i have not used it for all that it is worth. we have a covered gazebo, swimming pool, grass and garden areas, an avocado tree, and barbecue attached to the gas line. the pool is not fenced, so taking my son into the backyard is nothing short of a mild heart attack. the anxiety caused by just thinking about it keeps me from actually going out there. yes, i understand that i have robbed myself and my son of some wonderful outside antics. but, i am also certain that i have saved him from a near death experience, or twelve, and also saved myself from having to jump into whatever-temperature water to save him. thems the breaks. i cannot change what i have done, only what i will do.

so, i decided to go outside the other day. it was beautiful for the ump-teenth day in a row and very inviting. i tend to occupy the area to the far side of the pool that i call the “stage”. it’s two steps up from the deck and sits between two low gardens. one day i will actually garden those gardens, in the meantime we will let the ground cover… cover. the stage is in the middle of the yard, facing the house. prime seating for just about anything. i can see the entire yard and into the house from there. kinda like a lifeguard, but with a lot less skin, a rickety bench, and four years of bein’ a mom under my belt. a mama-guard. essentially, just a mom, but i like to accentuate the many qualities and jobs contained therein. what better way than a dash? anyway…

i cannot touch the sliding glass door or the screen without mr. mini-me and his canine-like sense of hearing:

“go outside mommy? go outside?”

“yes, bubs, put your shoes on.”

“ok, ok, ok. oooooooh kay!”

with my shoes on and his at least retrieved, we busted out of the house and into the world. it really was beautiful. there was a slight breeze and wisps of white clouds against the baby blue background called the sky. so i took my place on the debatable bench upon “the stage”, (i call it debatable because it came in a box and was probably put together with a butter knife). the sun is such an overwhelming force. my skin went warm and then hot. i don’t mind it though. i actually enjoy sun bathing. my son sat at the steps of the shallow end with his feet in the water. that didn’t last for long. lucky for the two of us, he managed to get distracted by the water hose. just then, my aunt came outside and she turned it on for him. it almost shot him right in the face! i laughed so hard at just the thought.

i adjusted the bench to optimize my receipt of the sun rays. he ran this way and that with the hose laughing and giggling the way a child should. he seemed to have a hard time holding the hose and getting wet so i did what any mom would. i took the hose from him and squirted him from head to toe. hahahahah! i sprayed it up in the air and let him run through it, under it and over it. he has such a great laugh when he’s having fun. he was soaked and ecstatic. i went inside and brought him a towel and a fresh outfit. when he said that he was cold, i changed his clothes and warmed up with a hug, a kiss and a few minutes in the sun. he was happy and entertained and it didn’t cost anything more than the water we were using. he got to expend some of his boundless SuperBoy energy and get dirty, wet and delirious all at once. i thought to myself “man, i’m gonna have to do this more often.”

i decided to further enjoy myself, but we would need some supplies. after seven minutes of consistent debate, i convinced my son to come inside with me, momentarily, while i changed into something worthy of sunbathing and got a snack or two. we returned outside with a small picnic and half the living room furniture. i took his little people table and chair outside. he felt it necessary to bring his sleeping bag, two pillows, both stuffed tiggers and the loving valentine sock monkey couple. hey, whatever makes him happy (within reason, and most of the time), right? he laid on the sleeping bag with his stuffed friends, mumbling to himself and resisting his nap.

it was during this time that i just sat looking, admiring and generally falling in love with the world around me. the breeze picked up and i could hear the many wind chimes clinking away. i watched as the resident lizards shifted this way and that in an attempt to also maximize their sunning. our neighborhood is a white-picket-fence type area. all of the houses have trees. most of them have at least one fruit tree, usually citrus. we have an avocado tree. the number of birds in the area is awe inspiring. we have a few regulars including an family of owls in the palm out front, one little black bird (he looks like he has a mohawk) that bathes in the swimming pool, and another with a white tail that uses the natural angle of the roof to aid in her early morning bug hunt and devour.

as i sat admiring the huge beige lizard just above my son’s head, i was delighted to see a few hummingbirds. they are mesmerizing, aren’t they? so tiny, weightless and never still. anyway, they seemed to be playing tag because they flew this way, one behind the other, and then back just as quickly. i don’t know how many there were, but i enjoyed them just the same. i was blankly staring at the avocado tree when my glance fell upon the joshua tree next to it. it always stands so proud in it’s awkward, no-method-to-the-madness shape. growing and regenerating from the inside out. the older leaves, brown and winkled, hanging down revealing the trees history. the newer leaves, untwisting and revealing themselves from the top. it seems to me that people grow and regenerate in the same way. maturing on the inside, but constantly changing and shedding the outside. our eyes and our hearts weather the storms of life. but our mind changes and grows and can always provide something new. we manipulate our hair and clothing to project what we want others to see. trees have no such option, but they don’t seem to mind.

while pondering the age of the joshua tree, one of the hummingbirds fluttered about. she (i call her she because it seems appropriate for something so cute, sweet and delicate) zigged and zagged and eventually came to rest upon one of the thick triangular leaves. the breeze that was present when i first went outside had picked up significantly. the hummingbird sat motionless except for the wind at it’s back. the leaf swayed and bounced and she seemed not to care. if i hadn’t seen her flying about i would have no idea that she was there. i watched her for a moment or so until i saw a bright flash out of the corner of my eye. it was the surface of the water in the swimming pool.

i love water. i always have. perhaps it is because i am an aquarius. or perhaps it’s because i like water. i particularly enjoy watching water be effected. the wind invading it’s space or rain drops making it dance. either way, i’m hooked. i used to live in an apartment facing the swimming pool. i liked to watch the rain and the pool collide. enchanting and entrancing. but at this moment, the wind was creating super tiny waves, pushing the surface debris toward the shallow end. my mind wandered about the things i was seeing and i contemplated the following:

  1. water and air are unpredictable forces of nature.
  2. they are both colorless and odorless when in their natural states.
  3. neither water nor air has a shape unless it is contained.
  4. they both contain pressure, currents and debris.
  5. when stirred up by mother nature, the affects of their damage is devastating.

those thoughts led me to ponder and question the world and our atmosphere. water, which has to be contained to stay in one place, is able to hold on to the spinning ball of dirt that we call earth. on top of that, we have a very delicate, yet balanced atmosphere that somehow manages to deal with the fact that we all inhale and exhale but we aren’t dead yet. can you say wow?!? i did. i don’t ponder too far after that. i love the scientific look on life. extracting the aesthetics and the shells and getting to the core of something, but i didn’t want to dissect the concept to the point of destruction. life and it’s intimate secrets border on the ultimate magic. once you learn the card trick or the how the rabbit actually disappears, it’s not as enchanting. i want to maintain my wonder and awe.

by this time, my skin was hot to the touch. i had changed from my usual paper-sack-tan skin tone to that of a burnt biscuit. my son was pink in the cheeks and cranky because he was void of a nap. it was time to go inside and leave the joy and wonder of the backyard. we had a good time and it didn’t cost us anything but the energy expended. my son had the time of his life with a water hose and i had been entertained for hours by just being. how spectacular! we’ll have to do this again… very soon.

nothing in life is simple. even if it appears to be simple, it is not. there is a driving force behind any and everything that, even when explained, cannot truly provide a reasonable theory of what is actually going on. everything is intricate. the simplicity lies within our view and our interest. sometimes, it is best to look, admire and move on. i can’t wait to see it all again. even though i have seen it all before, it will still be brand new.

teaching tanisha tenacity

i’m certain that if you’re a breathing person over the age of seven, you have heard the phrase “terrible twos”. this statement, obviously refers to the year after the glorious first year of life, of one’s offspring. the first year, filled with well, firsts. first smile, first tooth, first full night’s sleep. first word, first step, first haircut. but ask any parent, and they will assuredly tell you that on the three hundred sixty sixth day of that child’s life, something switches. a button is pushed or a seal is broken. whatever the case may be, the child becomes an unceasing broken record repeating everything you have tried to instill.  mostly it’s “no”, “don’t”, “stop” and “mine”. all words that we as parents say to our darlings in hopes to correct an action that is most likely on its way to certifiable disaster. no matter the foresight and all-be-it good intention of the ‘rents, the kid knows only that he is being deterred from whatever they may be doing and THAT obviously is an error on our part. and so we are corrected.

the terrible twos segue into what i have always referred to as “the tumultuous threes”.  if two is the age of discovery, three has got to be the age of testing limitations.  all limitations.  their limitations, your limitations, the weight limits of small furniture.  the number of grapes they can shove into their cute little mouths.  or perhaps how far up their button nose they can shove an artificial pea-sized foam cranberry (that’s a real life example, and it was waaay up there).  every limit within their understanding can and will be tried, repeatedly.  three-year olds are exhausting.  they are talkative, energetic, clever little people.  they are often smarty panted little know-it-all versions of oneself.  my son is exactly that.  (you’re shocked, right?)  he thinks he can slide anything by me by saying “ooooh kay?” at the end.  and he doesn’t forget a thing!  his faultless memory is the inspiration for the following:

“if we all approached our life with the passion, tenacity and determination of a three-year old, some $h!t might get done. happy friday and cheers!”

reflect on the quotes you’ve heard over time about children.  while always entertaining and predominantly truthful, they usually refer to the sweetness and innocence encompassed in the impish smile of a child.  most intriguing to me is “out of the mouth’s of babes”.  children have no sensors.  no inner monologue.  they aren’t politically correct or censored.  they are pure souls.  unadulterated and “live on the line” at all times.

for christmas i bought my son a battery operated mechanical train set.  like the good american consumer i am, i woke up in the night and pulled the ump-teen molded plastic pieces from their box.  for 35 minutes i toiled to get all of the numerically ordered pieces in some other order.  an order unknown to me and not well explained in the instructions.  i had skipped christmas the two years prior (yes, i’m a scrooge, but it was mainly ’cause i didn’t have the budget).  but this year, i really wanted to give my son something to remember.  a running, functioning train set oughta do the trick!  christmas morning arrived and my little conductor was not at all interested in varying from his usual routine.  i almost had to bribe him to get him to come down the hallway and see his surprise.  he soon figured it out and his eyes and face lit up!  i done good.  SCORE!

now, with that said, what on earth would posses me to buy something that could and would easily fill the empty square inches of floor space that we share?  who knows.  but, we manage.  for the first few days following christmas, the train had to be taken apart, relocated and put back together in varying rooms of the house.  BAH!  curses!  lucky for us, our aunt and roommate, purchased a snazzy black-friday-flat-screen-tv (uh huh, that’s a brand — lookitup!) for our very large, hardly inhabited tv room.  i had train videos and was able to convince my little conductor to relocate the train, the track and its accompanying stuffs into this much larger area. again, SCORE! train relocated, no one walking over or tripping on it and everyone was happy.  was.

for whatever reason, one random morning my little conductor woke up demanding and insisting that the train and it’s 8,756 parts (i exaggerate, there might be 25) be relocated to the bedroom, once again.  we haggled like a chintzy customer and seasoned salesperson at the swap meet.  i explained repeatedly that we were getting dressed to leave for the day and IF in fact this mom-gineer should decide to relocate the train it would be LATER, after we’ve returned from work and childcare.  still an unsatisfactory answer for the conductor, but one he had to accept anyway.

the day proceeded.  upon returning home from work and childcare, and having breached the threshold of our home my son, without missing a beat says “mommy? thomas train in bedroom?”.  wtf?  serious?  how on earth did he remember that?  i know, i know.. he’s young, he doesn’t have a lot on his plate, he doesn’t have account names, numbers and passwords to store, but how how how did he remember it at that exact moment?  coincidentally, he does the same thing every morning.  no matter what it is that he went to bed with (a train, a car, or a book and tag jr) the night before, he’s going to wake up like frankenstein and look for that exact item.  amazing.  again i say; “if we all approached our life with the passion, tenacity and determination of a three-year old, some $h!t might get done.”

where does that tenacity go?  why does a child, who has nowhere to go, nowhere to be and nothing to do, wake up with the dawn and own the type of outlook and determination that we, as adults, struggle to find?  why can’t we wake up and instantly remember everything we need to accomplish for the day and actually attempt to check those items off our list?

it is these questions that lead me to believe (actually, just affirm) that children possess the purest soul.  within them is an undying need and desire to see, hear and absorb all they come in contact with.  they are hopeful, loving and unconditional.  they are resilient and persevering and they don’t have to put forth an ounce of effort into any one of those things. they are free from despair and disappointment.

i for one believe that as we get older, the wind gets released from our sails.  most of us come into the world with nothing more than an imaginary timer stating “ding! you’re done”.  suddenly (and sometimes, not so much) we are thrust into the world with nothing but our looks.  as infants we are dependent and defenseless.  while simultaneously caring for and loving us, providing for our every need, our families are also forced to show us that they cannot always be there for us.  that they cannot cater to our every whim.  as we mature into toddler-hood and preschool-ism we are guided towards the acceptable and responsible behaviors.  we are introduced to birthdays, parties and holidays.  our parents, our guardians, our loved ones tell us stories about teeth stealing fairies, egg laying rabbits and jolly gift giving fat men.  and we believe.  we haven’t any reason not to.  our minds and our hearts are open.  it is here, i believe, in the hearts and minds of children that hope and optimism procreate uncontrollably.  the constant dreaming and fantasizing breeds like rabbits in their souls and spills out everywhere they walk and talk.  they glow from the inside with determination!

aging is inevitable.  we all age, whether we want to or not.  whether we politely accept it for what it is or attempt to fool the hands of time.  some of us are lucky enough to “grow old gracefully”, while others appear to literally wither and dissipate.  everything around us affects this delicate process.  from our specific genetic combination to all things consumed or exposed to; from birth until the day we die.  no amount of pills, waters, creams, lotions, injections or carvings can keep you from it.

don’t get me wrong, it ain’t all bad.  we grow into our skins, our bodies, our souls.  we grow into our voice, our spirit and our love.  we learn and we teach.  with age comes maturity, wisdom and hopefully peace of mind and soul.  and with this same age comes “real life” and “reality”.  two phrases that could make grown folk cry!  wind is released from our sail when we discover that the tooth fairy is really gramma’s spare change, rabbits don’t lay eggs and that santa claus and toys ‘r us are somehow in kahoots.  with every reality, a dream is crushed.  it’s not as much fun to hunt colored eggs when you find out that your auntie em bought them, boiled them, colored them and hid them in the plants.

i discussed this topic with a few friends.  one such friend stated that he, in fact, did not agree with me “at all”.  he said he considered himself to be “a big kid”.  well, that’s all fine and dandy, but i can guarantee that what he is referring to is not at all what i am referring to.  children stand in the face of adversity without fear.  they challenge everything and accept nothing at face value. they do not take no for an answer.  their drive and determination is as necessary as breathing and just as automated.  they do not have to think about being tenacious.  they just are.  ever tried to swerve a child’s attention from one thing to another?  it’ll work with an infant and even some toddlers.  but once you hit preschool… it’s over.  they do what they want.  what fulfills them.  and they don’t forget!

when i grow up, i want to be a child.  i want to see the world through rose-tinted glasses.  i want to be tenacious and not have it exhaust me.  i want to have the memory and passion of a terribly-two-turned-tumultuous-three-year-old.  understand me.  i don’t want to be young-er, naive or child-ish.  i want to possess some of their qualities.  their most admirable qualities.  i want to have their unadulterated sense of self.  their overwhelming forgiveness.  their pure love.  tenacious tanisha?  i think i like it.

thirty days of thanks

the figurative essence of a man (an excerpt that was also posted, but  has since been removed to eliminate the repetition) is an interesting rambling on of my favorite aspects of man.  Not just man, but men.  Men in general and men in specific.  It would like to be something more complicated than a list of my favorite attributes of men. However, it turns out that “the essence” was merely the appetizer portion of my blogging debut.  The meal itself, would follow in a whirlwind of hopes, dreams, realizations, ideas, inspirations, dedications and memories.  I would be lying if I took any credit for this idea or its pure soul-searching motivation.  In the interest of giving credit where credit is due, I want to highlight my facebook friend, Paula F, for the encouragement to give thanks out loud.  She encouraged her whole world to share their thanks with her each day for the month of November. To truly celebrate Thanksgiving.  I enjoyed the initial thought so much that I may have, literally, raised my hand as if to scream “Teacher! Teacher! Pick meeeee!”

even though I was very excited and anxious to participate, I took a little time to consider the dedication that I wanted to promote with my posts.  I knew I would start light and eventually end up heavy handed, but such is the way.  Once I started, I was already on a roll.  With a meager, yet humble and encouraging audience I started my day thinking about my thanks.  Actually taking time to form the thought, and draft the prose in my mind before publishing any flighty nonsense.   Of course, I want to have fun, encourage fun and always bring a smile to my readers, but I found myself searching, better yet, requiring, that my posts be clear minded, well formed thoughts and some sort of “method to the madness”.

It turns out that being grateful and expressing thanks is not as easy as it sounds.  In fact, it doesn’t sound easy.  Not to me, anyway.  I feel that the best way to express any thought requires the use of vocabulary.  And one cannot properly use vocabulary without a clear cut understanding of the word(s).  You have to comprehend before you can use them to communicate.  With that said, being thankful is simply that: expressive of thanks; effectively conveying meaning or feeling.  Effectively conveying meaning or feeling?  Wow, this is serious business.

lemme catch up. day 1: i’m thankful i have life. that i made it into this world and was given a chance. day 2: i’m thankful for my body. while i am aging, it APPEARS to be gracefully. LOL.

day 3: today, i am thankful for the will to do what is necessary and the ability to follow through.

day 4: today i am grateful for grade AA butter and warm Belgian waffles. MMMMM!! just kidding, today i am grateful for the desire to be helpful, even in the face of certain disappointment and adversity. perseverance! i can’t hide my shine! 😉

day 5: today i am thankful 4 men. MANLY MEN! (4 me, 1 man in particular), but men who care for themselves. well groomed and handsome men. freshly shaven men with new haircuts. men who smell good and who’s smile melts your heart. men who care enough about any and everything 2 care out loud. men who remind u that u’re a woman. men who make u smile when u don’t know it and give u butterflies when they look at u. men.

Jennifer Perez Awww….I want a manly man…=)!!!! Enjoy yours:)

Nicole Reese oooo I second that, you made me thankful!

Tanisha Ware installment 2: men with strong arms and broad shoulders. a man you can hide behind because of his strength and size! men who hold you up and never let you down. arms that hug you, hold you, love you and bring you flowers. a man that adores you. a man that cares for you. men. mmmph!

Camille Fairman Williams OMG, you worded this so accurately and beautifully. Can i steal this for my wall?? I’m in absolute agreeance.

Tanisha Ware take it honey! have it! it’s all yours! i’m just saying out loud what we all feel. and even if your man, the man, her man, his man, any man isn’t the “size” or exact “make and model” as i have described, you missed the point. as long you feel good when you’re with him and great when you miss him, you found him.

Camille Fairman Williams uh oh if that’s the criteria… i think i may have caught me one of those…YAY!!

Julie Stropka Word! Mine is not always clean shaven but he smells yummy and he does all the rest!! ♥

Tanisha Ware bahhha! @Julie Stropka, you said “word”… wooooooooooord!!

Tanisha Ware installment 3: a MAAAN! a man that makes you bite your lip in anticipation. a man who asks what you want and listens to the answer. a man who waits patiently for your response to a question he already knows the answer to. a man who is truly disappointed if he is forced to disappoint you. a man who will always make it up to you. a man.

Julie Stropka Don’t you just love it! 😉

Tanisha Ware mmm hmm! i do. like a fat kid loves cake!

Camille Fairman Williams alright… where are you getting this from?? are you picking my brain when i sleep? Gathering all the hopes and dreams of my wanted man? LOL

Tanisha Ware it’s just what was in my head when i woke up with this morning. 😉

Camille Fairman Williams and the funny thing is, is that what you’re saying and what most women want isn’t far reaching or far fetched in the least. very attainable, i know those guys are out there (fingers crossed) ♥

Tanisha Ware they are. but they wear figurative camouflage and are hard to see… knights in shining armor disguised as runners in nikes.

Julie Stropka and they find you when you aren’t looking…I promise! I met my hubby at Best Buy! 🙂 He is a good man who takes good care of our family..♥ Trust they are out there, and I hope you find yours 🙂

Tanisha Ware installment 4: a man, dammit! a maaaaan! not a boy who thinks he’s a man, not a boy who has to tell you he’s a man. a man you can see from a distance. a man that exudes man. a man who loves himself and those who love him in return. a responsible man that can handle business!! ALL business. a man. dammit! a man.

Julie Stropka You should be a blogger..seriously this is good stuff chica..

Tina Edwards ok, yer killin’ me. yes yes, manly men are good, don’t want to think about you and whoever too deeply, so cut it out. I mean, honestly, would you wan’t me to go into any kinda detail about how I feel about Jase? Really?

Tanisha Ware installment 6: a man of quality, integrity, dignity and dare i say; grace. a man who can walk, talk, move, stumble, fall and always make it look like something you want to be involved in. a man who will always have your back, be at your side and live forever in your heart. a man you love to watch and who watches you. A MAN!

Tina Edwards I’m gonna start listing Jason’s tattoos… I mean it!

Tanisha Ware Tattoos don’t scare me! You should know that. I’m plotting and planning No. 5.

a thankful day 6: as my dear sweet granny used to say “if it wasn’t for the bitter, how would you know what was sweet”?

day 7’s thanks… today i am thankful for being resourceful. for seeing the forest and the trees. for seeing the snake, letting it bite me and treating the wound accordingly.

2day i am thankful 4 my mama! it’s her bday. so HAPPY BIRTHDAY Michele Tazzi ! there’s no 1 in the world like my (or ur, if u wanna be picky) mama! i wish i had me somma her cookin’! wish we closer in proximity & able 2 njoy a night of kamikaze shots (down 2 our last dime) like we did so many years ago! 😉 oops! was that ‘posed 2 b a secret? I ♥ u mama!

Michele Tazzi Shhh.don’t tell all our secrets..lol but Kamikaze shots are just wonderful.I Luvs my Biggie ones both and wish u were here too so I could cook for you and make bread so I could watch you tear the loaf up getting a chunk…lol Luv Ya Baby

Tanisha Ware I love you too, ma! Happy father’s day and happy easter to you!!

day 9: today i am thankful for my aunt. she’s going away on an medical missionary excursion. she’ll be far away, physically, but not far from my heart. she takes better care of me and my son than i do. i wish her safe travels, rest and food when she needs it, but most of all, I WISH FUN FOR HER! i hope she has a great …time. i think we’re both homesick already. have fun DD! we’ll miss you! XOXOO

day 10 of thanks: today i am grateful for the opportunity to start anew. sometimes life just sinks. but everyday that we are blessed to wake up, we have the chance to make a change and bring us that much closer to what we really want. the hard part is separating the “what we want” from “what we deserve” or the “what we… need”. wants will never outweigh needs. fill your needs and your wants will be met.

Deb Avila Davis what a inspiration T 🙂 thanku for sharing u got a beautiful soul friend!

Tanisha Ware ‎*blush*

Deb Avila Davis lol 🙂

Nicole Hannibal awwww well said!

Tanisha Ware who let me post “sinks” and not “STINKS”? lol

Deb Avila Davis me lol i knew what you meant lol

day 11 of thanks. november 11th. a bittersweet day for me. i am grateful to all that have served, continue to serve and will serve. but for me, today is the date of my dear sweet granny’s birth… and sadly, her death. she died 4 years ago, today, on her 82nd birthday. lord love a duck if i don’t miss my sweet gertrude…. bless the lord and the heavens above for sending me such an angel. x

Tanisha Ware she loved me sumthin’ FIERCE, and i loved her back! i only hope that i can be the kind of mother, sister, aunt, and hopefully grandmother that she was. she was the most phenomenal person i have ever known.

Tanisha Ware with that said, i GIVE THANKS this day for my grandmother, Arlena G. Ware, for without her, i would not be me. she gave me her heart. everyday. thank you gertrude!! i love you! i miss you terribly!

Kim McNamara Revelles Wow you just touched my heart! Well said my friend. Your grandma was a special woman! I remember her, she was such a sweet lady. I believe you will be just like her and even better! Love ya girl, hope you have a great day! ♥♥♥

Tanisha Ware agreed! if you knew her, then you felt her, if you didn’t know her, you would have wished you did. thanks kim! xoxoo

Lana Ross wow sorry

Sharly Eckley She must have been special if God gave her and took her on the same day. You were blessed to have her as long as you did. I miss my grandma, too. Grandmas are so great!

Tanisha Ware i agree sharly! i whispered that to her, that day… “gramma! you gotta me some-kinda-wonderful to be born into and removed from the world on the same date!” amazing right? and i agree, grammas are great!

thanks on the twelfth: today i am thankful to be “healthy”. to be whole, have and use all five senses and not in need of any medication on a daily basis. i am thankful that i haven’t ever required a cast, crutches, a brace of any nature, surgery, replacements or upgrades. i am here, now, just as i came. i’m taller, heavier and more talkative. but i am free of pesticides and preservatives. 😉

thirteenth thought of thanks: perhaps the END of the day is the best time of day to confess one’s appreciation for the day. *shrug* today, i am thankful for friendship. for true friendship, lifelong friendship, facebook friendship, family friendship, acquaintance friendship. the general ability to connect with others.

day 14: today i am thankful for kisses. in love kisses, not aunt margaret kisses. sweet “end of the day” gentle pouty lipped kisses. kisses that linger… on the lips and the mind. the kind of kiss that makes you stare off into space and grin unknowingly.

days 15 and 16: yesterday i found myself unable to place thanks on any one thing. i thought about it for most of the day. i figured if i went back to posting in the morning it would help, but still, nothing came to mind. i listened to a lot of music. specifically “pretty wings” by Maxwell. even as i drifted off to sleep, he serenaded me and when i awoke his words and downright passion resonated in the air around me.

i want to take time to thank anyone that follows their musical calling. music is so very powerful. i am grateful for any song that has made it to my ear, past my heart and straight into my soul. music brings everyone together. it speaks for the lost, the quiet, the meek, the unloved. it reaches into your memory and brings out memories, people, smells, places, other songs. it’s amazing.

so for my thanks, i would like to be thankful for Maxwell. and i would like to thank any musical artist and every musical artist for bringing the funk!

day 17: today’s thanks include nubi hawaiian delight frozen yogurt with mochi, clean white fluffy fuzzy robes straight out of the dryer, “tisses” from my son, lunch and errands with the gal pals from work, texts from just about anybody (bahah!) and the very rare pat on the back from the boss.

day 18: today i am thankful for curiosity. for that nagging feeling that makes me look under the foil on a week old refrigerator experiment. the desire to see what’s in, what’s next to, what’s behind, what’s near, what’s under, what’s covered by anything else. the need to know the answer, even if i don’t want to know the answer.

the want of all the information, not the selective judgment free aspects that i am provided. the facts, the goods, the truth and the light. the real and never the fake. the substance! i am a seeker of the why.

day 19: today i am thankful for the unexpected. the things that keep me on my toes. keep me, at least attempting to be, one step ahead. the things that knock the wind out of me when i’m already in full motion. the things that make me rearrange my plans or throw them out the window altogether. the things that make life GRAND.

23 days of thanks: although i have been a total slacker since thursday, i am here to give my thanks. for the 19th: i am thankful for payday. what a way to start the weekend. for the 20th: i am thankful for my bestest friend Shannon Adcock and her two beautiful children. they came to visit with us and we had a tornado o…f fun. for the 21st: i am thankful for sleeping in late with SuperBoy.

installment 2: (a continuation of the 21st) children are always angels when they are sleeping and mine is no acception. he’s just so darned cute.

installment 3: for the 22nd: i am more than grateful for the lingering of love. the impish smiles, the slight swelling of pouty just kissed lips, the swooning in delight. the feeling that you love, have been loved, have made love and all is what it should be. i am grateful and thankful that someone’s heart is open to me and they are willing to let me in, to hold their heart and care for them. thankful they will do it in return. thankful.

installment 4: for today, the 23rd of November, i am thankful for the kindness and understanding of others. i am not the easiest person to get along with (no commentary allowed). but there are quite a few SPECTACULAR people in this world, who not only tolerate me, but actually like me (some of um love me! i know! can you imagine?), and that means the world to me. i do what i can to be a good person, a good woman and a good friend. i’m not always right, and i hate to admit that (sometimes), but i always have the best intentions. i love my life. i love my family and i love my friends. thanks for listening.

today, today i am thankful for my family. i am a holiday scrooge!! but i have too many good memories of thanksgiving to let them die. we ’bout to get this kitchen fired up!! if we’re fb friends it’s because i knew you, know you, love you, work with you or care about you in some way, so that makes you special to me. have an awesome day with your family! make some memories!!! XOXOO

Tanisha Ware says “Don’t sit over there thinkin’ you can escape my last 5 days of thanks for the month of November. I ain’t done yet! You just wait.

while shaking my head in shame, i must admit that i did not make it back to express my thanks, not  for those last five days of november.  and i haven’t expressed anything more than random thoughts during december.  however! for every moment leading up to thanksgiving day, i was focused and sincerely grateful.  i lost a lot of my holiday spirit just growing into an adult.  and whatever little light still shined was completely burned out when my granny passed away.  but i’m a parent, i am someone’s mother.  not just someone, but Kenneth.  i am Kenneth Michael T’s mother.  i owe it to him to provide a warm and safe environment in which to grow and learn.  i also owe him fond FAMILY memories full of traditions and fabulous food.  and it took aaalllllll the way up to noon on Thanksgiving day for me to actually pull it all together and get off my ass and say “let’s do the damned thang”!

and i did exactly that.  my son spent the holiday with his father and that side of the family.  i talked with my aunt and co-chef around noon.  we planned out a menu and headed to the grocery store.  ludicrous, right?  but we did it anyway.  we spent an insane amount of money for a full turkey dinner with only two guests.  she and me.  we filed the groceries away accordingly and started our mission.  we turned on the music, had some laughs and got the party started.  a full turkey dinner planned and executed by the ladies of Ware.  the menu included turkey, sage cornbread dressing, greens, brown sugared yams, sweet potato and lemon ice box pies.  oh, and kool aid.  it was de-lish!  almost dead on.  my sage cornbread dressing was so close to my sweet granny’s that it actually brought a tear to my eye.

but i was thankful.  for all of it.  for every last bit of it.  i don’t think that i would have been as inspired or as thankful without my new found attitude.  is it an attitude?  a perspective?  a “way of life”?  i’d like to think so.  i’d like to think that each day i have awakened renewed and refreshed but most importantly appreciative.  happy to alive, to be loved and be living my life!  indebted to the lord, the moon and the stars for blessing me with my son.

there is something to be said for living up to a challenge.   there is more to be said for accepting the challenge and persevering!  i’d like to think that i not only accepted and lived up to the “thankful” challenge, but that i grew from it.  that i am a better person for it.  i am trying to see things differently each day.  not always succeeding, but trying to see the brighter side of life.  the silver lining.  learning to embrace what has come to pass and prepare for what is on the horizon.  but never, never losing sight of the light.

thank you to Paula F, for encouraging me to be a better me.  you are my light.  and thank you to my cyber-clapping internet-encouraging facebook friends.