Believe what you say.

heart bubbleI had to share this. I just had to. I think you’ll understand why.

Yesterday I went to the doctor, again, but it was completely unrelated to what has been ailing me since January. Over the last three weeks, I have been suffering with some pain in/under my left armpit and yesterday, I began to experience numbing and tingling in my left arm and hand, so you can imagine what was going through my head, especially after google searching “left arm pain and tingling.”

**NOTE TO SELF: STAY OFF THE INTERNET AND AVOID SELF-DIAGNOSIS!!!!

While I hesitated to go to the ER (I have ZERO faith in our local ER) I decided in the last second to head to the walk-in clinic, instead, which was right around the corner. I felt confident in my decision and in the end, it was the right one and it saved me $130, possibly more! And in the end, it was fine. I saw a really great, kind and understanding doctor. (Those are few and far between.) And long story short, everything is OK. For now. But over the last several months, I’ve been to the doctor more than I ever have. They are still trying to sort out exactly what is going on with me internally. I’m a medical enigma at the moment. My doctors are perplexed, as I am passing all of my tests, and my labs and scans are coming back normal, with little abnormalities, and so for that, I’m eternally grateful, but I still don’t know what it is making me feel so bad on the inside. And any little thing (ailment) that pops up in the meantime is magnified, because I can only wonder is it coincidence or is it related to what’s going on with me already? I just don’t know? So the panic sets in.

As a result of everything, I’ve been reflecting a lot lately.

What’s it all mean? (The big question, right?!)

Since having children, I’ve thought more about my mortality than ever before. Having young children, I fear death greatly. I know that we will all die one day, but just like almost every living person on this planet, I’m not ready. I’m not done. I want to be here, in this life, to see my girls grow up and have families of their own. I want to be here, for them, through everything and anything that life throws their way, because they NEED me and I NEED them. I am in constant prayer to keep them safe. I so desperately want to grow old with the man that I married and get wrinkly, gray and ornery with him and only him! I am in constant prayer to keep him safe, too. I can see our future. I can! My most beloved treasure, here on this earth, is my husband and my children. And my utmost need, in this life, is to be here with my family, to love and be loved. It’s all that matters, really.  And because I am a firm believer that your greatest desire will come to be, so long as it is in line with His greater plan, I am confident that I will be here, for a long, long time. I pray for this, too.  It’s just that the doubt creeps in and takes hold. It’s a strong grip sometimes.

My hope and faith is important, no doubts there, it just doesn’t change that fact that we really have no way of knowing what our life will bring each day or if we are even promised tomorrow. I can only hope and believe it to be so. I can only hope and believe that it all aligns with His grander plan for me. And for my family.

I left the doctor yesterday, somewhat relieved, but still scared. I know that may seem silly, since my appointment was overall, reassuring.  I was not having a heart attack!  I just can’t help how I feel, you know?  And feeling crappy, physically, hasn’t exactly helped with the mental or emotional components. They all have to work together to fight the fear. FEAR. Fear really has beaten me down these last few months, if I’m being completely transparent here. It dwells within me, nonstop. It consumes me, when it shouldn’t. I have faith, I believe, but fear trumps that sometimes and I don’t know why?

As I was driving home, trying to pep talk myself into just believing that I WILL GET THROUGH THIS, even after hearing yet another doctor tell me, it’ll be ok… I doubted. DOUBT is the worst thing, ever!!! (Worse than cilantro!)

Then a song came on the radio. I was driving my husband’s car and he has his radio set to WAY FM (a local Christian radio station) and this song that I had never heard before played… and it was beautiful. And I felt every line was being sung directly to me, in that moment, like a loved one that was simply trying to calm, reassure and encourage me.  And as a person that is (and was) fearing haunting, paralyzing thoughts of mortality, to hear the line, the song lyric: “Because your story’s far from over and your journey’s just begun” meant more to me in that moment than 4 doctors’ continued reassurance. Truly.

I bawled the whole way home. Tears were just flooding my face and I could barely see straight. You see, days leading up to yesterday, I’ve prayed a lot, apologizing to God, for my lack of faith. For not trusting Him, completely. I mean, I do, trust Him, but I’m also human. I worry with the best of them. But despite the fear, I really do continue to give daily praise and thanks, despite feeling like my world is falling apart at times, because really, I’m here. I’m alive. And THAT is exactly where and what I want to be! I already have that. So why the blubbering?!  If only it were that easy. As a result, there’s been a lot of self evaluation going on, too, which is good.

When I got home last night, I was telling my husband about the song, but I forgot to look it up online, because my night was cut short. I was struck by such a severe panic attack.  I was convinced I was having a heart attack, based on my earlier symptoms and the new ones that came upon me so suddenly after returning home. My husband was so wonderful and understanding, trying to calm me with his mere presence and touch. He just listened and responded as needed.  I was a crazy lady, lost in crazy thoughts. So much so, that I was afraid to go to sleep, worried that I would not wake up.

We talked about life. God. Heaven. My fears. Worst case scenario for me and our family. It was all very stressful, and very scary, but my husband felt it was necessary. And it was. Peace can rise from fear.

I eventually fell asleep. And today, I feel alright. I’m taking some meds for the pain in my arm, which was diagnosed as a pinched nerve of some sort. (The doctor used a fancy medical term, but I’ll just call it a pinched nerve.) Stress and fear does some gnarly things to your body. I’m living proof. Just trying to breathe easy and stay grounded, today.

This afternoon, I finally had a moment and looked up the song that I heard yesterday in the car. I didn’t know who sang it or even the title. I simply did a google search for the line that stuck with me: “Because your story’s far from over and your journey’s just begun” and I found it.

It’s called, “Tell your heart to beat again” and it is sung by Danny Gokey, whom I loved and watched on American Idol several years ago.

I clicked on the first link that I saw and there was a video of Danny telling the story BEHIND the song. Ahhhh, so much more beautiful than I could have imagined and so perfect, for the moment. Everything has been like this lately. *Signs. Little signs, out of the blue, when I need them most. And I joked with my husband that it’s God telling me to cut the crap, because He really has given me ample “signs” that everything is going to be alright, yet I still doubt.

 I really need to cut the crap. And cut the doubt. I do. I know this.

I shared a lot here, my thoughts were a bit all over the place, but it was important for me to get it all out. Writing has always been therapeutic and cathartic for me. And if you read this far, the main thing I want you to take away is: 1) watch the video in the attached link below and listen to Danny’s story 2) listen to the song that completely touched my heart and blew me away yesterday, and 3) BELIEVE, because HE is with us all. Always. He is seeking you, so seek Him, too!

Oh, and another *sign… TODAY…my April 15th Jesus Calling devotional read (among other poignant and speakable truths) “Say yes to the ways I work in your life. Trust Me and do not be afraid.”

YES!!!!

Just cut the crap, Jenny… CUT. THE. CRAP!

I BELIEVE that my story is far from over and my journey has just begun.

Here’s the link to the video: Tell Your Heart To Beat Again by Danny Gokey

Golden Glory {full of holes}

Let’s talk Academy Awards 2015.

So I missed last night’s Oscars Red Carpet arrivals, because I was working a local consignment sale here and decided to run a few errands afterwards, since I was sans children. {Rare and joyful times for this Momma.} But after arriving home, kids already in bed, sitting down for a quick dinner with my Hubbs, releasing the internal demons, and changing into some comfy clothes, I was snuggled up on my couch, in time to start my DVR, being only 30 minutes behind the live show.

While a half hour doesn’t seem like much, I was VERY behind my girlfriends and their Facebook banter of the night’s ballyhoo. (Four of us had agreed to live chat our Oscars comments and observations back and forth to each other via Facebook messenger, since we were unable to get together for a real, face to face, Oscars shindig this year. We thought a live chat would be the next best thing, aside from an old school party line, to share the night’s excitement and all the buzz/cringe-worthy moments together.) Facebook messaging and live chatting… it’s the 2000’s, people. It’s what we (dare I say, middle-aged) Mommas do.

So I was a bit behind in current events and my girls were typing fast and furious. As was I, actually, but just shy of being on trend and in their wheelhouse. It was a message thread that just kept coming and going, and going and coming. I wanted to be current. My brilliant commentary of already seen show moments were being lost in the rapid fire of exchange. Every back and forth was filled with lots of sass, humor, wittiness, some choice language, and lots and lots of Facebook emojis and emoticons, and I needed to be on the same page as everyone else. It was dire. So being the team player that I am, at the urging of my girly-girls, I fast-forwarded through the show to live time, with the intent of watching the missed portion at a later date. (Like, immediately the next morning.) I’m a good friend like that… choosing to now sit through the monotony of commercials and the litany of award show lulls that I would typically fast forward through on the DVR, all for the sake of friendship and personal entertainment. (First world problems, right?) But my position of being current in time was absolutely necessary for a cohesive {live time} commentary and of course the ridiculous, girlfriend, sidebar conversations between the four of us.

Here is some of my commentary from last night’s Oscars show. Would you agree?

  • I’m over song intros. I can’t believe musical theatre lover me is admitting this in such a public forum, but it’s true. Sorry, NPH, you didn’t do it for me. I’ve seen better.
  • Gone Girl lady’s red dress was gorge! (The first one I really got to see, having missed the red carpet arrivals.) I know Joan would have approved, too!
  • Oprah’s boobs wore their own dress to the show. Wowza! I couldn’t really see her behind her girls.
  • Lady Gaga was wearing a dollar store wig, much like the one that I bought my 7-year-old daughter. Gaga really does have terrible taste in wigs. (If that’s even a thing.)
  • I hated Lupita’s (Nyong’o) dress. It looked like she crafted it with supplies bought at Claire’s. A mall store, craft nightmare.
  • 14 minutes into the show I was already bored, sadly. I love the Oscars. I mean, I love them and I look forward to it every year. I’m a Hollywood entertainment junkie and as a friend of mine described it so perfectly last night in her Facebook status, “It’s my Super Bowl!” I would absolutely agree with that statement, normally. But last night, it very quickly (too soon) turned into more like my Snoozer Bowl.
  • Liam Neeson was dressed like a shadow.

{At this point I fast-forwarded to catch up to the live broadcast}

  • Not sure who the person was – I didn’t note her name – but she was wearing a white dress and it elicited my response of “What the fruit?!” I did not like it one bit. However, I did note that I love African American women in white. And yellow. Don’t ask. I have no idea. 
  • Totally bummed at this point that I couldn’t fast forward through commercials, I began to banter back and forth with my friends, which made me miss the next intro, so I was confused for a good portion of whatever moment happened. I focused on fashion. And the audience… and…
  • In that moment, I noticed John Travolta in the audience. Hello, plastic mannequin. What in Nutella’s name happened to him? I. Can’t. Wow.
  • Also in making other audience observations during this time, I noticed that Oprah was not amused. Not at all. I actually couldn’t stop looking at her, just waiting for a crack of a smile during NPH’s set/bit, whatever it was. Her smile eventually came, but wow, it took a while. She looked ticked. I think her dress was too tight in the bust and it was preventing facial movement. Just a thought. 
  • Then came Gwyneth Paltrow. My favorite. NOT! Anyone who knows me, knows that I can’t stand her. I L-O-A-T-H-E her. I called her a choice word (one that I often call her, but very rarely call women, in general. The word just doesn’t fit for women… but Gwyneth, she’s one in my book. She just evokes that feeling.) Hint: it rhymes with gas pole. Anyway, I was relentlessly complaining about her, but I did mention that I liked her dress. I hated admitting it, but I did. Darn you, Gwen. So girlfriends and I were spending entirely too much time going back and forth on someone I can’t stand and then Gwyneth FINALLY introduces “her friend.” By the way, EVERYONE is her effing friend! Every time she is on an awards show or of the like, she says, “my friend.” I don’t buy it. No way, no how. She certainly is no where near being Hollywood’s little darling… not EVERYONE is your friend, Paltrow. To which my wonderful and witty friend Julie replies, “I’m not her friend.” To which my sassy and gorgeous friend Heather replies, “bleep bleep.” {Censored, to protect the innocent!}
  • My next audience (fashion) observation was Julianne Moore. I think I liked her dress. It was hard to tell at this point, as she was seated, but she was dressed to win. (Which she later did!)
  • NPH in his underwear. Let’s discuss. That didn’t bother me as much as his nipples did. They made me REALLY uncomfortable. And of course there was discussion amongst the live time chatting, about his “special delivery” that needed to be attended to, if you catch my drift. Someone call UPS or FedEx, please, NPH has a shipment.
  • Is red lipstick a trend?
  • The lady with the black dress with 3 bows… the one on her neckline… that looked stupid. I love a good black bow in fashion, but this one was a no way. Heather said, “prairie ish” which I totally agreed with. Or Amish. Or Quaker Oats man.
  • We talked about the set designs – which were great.
  • We discussed British accents, which everyone seems to love and want. So I decided, at that point, to type in one… a British accent. I’m doing it now. Did ye hear it?
  • The next winners… two, old guys… completely reminded me of Waldorf and Statler from The Muppets. {Shout out to my BFF and Zeta sister Sherry!} She’ll understand.
  • Waldorf and Statler totally thanked “quinoa” in their acceptance speech. Just saying. I can dig it.
  • Bradley Cooper always brings his mom to events. I think it’s cute. He’s cute. Nothing more to say.
  • Jared Leto – again, what the fruit? His split ends were offensive. So was his tux.
  • I hate how Keira Knightly talks with her teeth closed. (Referencing the film clip they showed of her.)
  • I loved the Lego Oscar. (At this point, I hadn’t seen the “Everything is Awesome” bit, so I had no idea why there was a Lego Oscar in the audience, but even then, I thought it was awesome! Word usage intentional!
  • My friend Heather noted that, “Meryl Streep looks like a realtor.” I added, “…from Clarksville.”
  • Patricia Arquette, once she put her glasses on, ironically, looked like Meryl Streep. She also has terrible teeth. Sweet friend Julie thought it was lipstick on her teeth. I just reminded everyone she has effed up teeth. Sorry, Patricia. I’m a teeth person. 
  • It was nice, however, of her to thank me in her speech. “…women who gave birth…” She thanked many of us! It was a nice, political moment. What’s an awards show without one?
  • My friends were unsure of who Rita Ora was. I know she’s a singer. I know some of her work, i.e. Black Widow with Iggy A., but really, I don’t even know who she is. I think she dated and cheated on Rob Kardashian at one time. She’s very ethnically ambiguous, no?
  • Again, scanning the audience shots while completely bored, I wondered, is Diane Warren a lesbian?
  • Lots of silly back and forth at this point, between us 4 girls… the show was dragging and losing us all, I think. More talk about other things, other than the actual show. After openly admitting to tooting out of sheer boredom (TMI, I know) I brought it back with having no idea about what was going on (on the show) and who was talking and did it have anything to do with an awards show? I threatened to leave a few times… I was that bored. But we all brought it back with our observation of boobs being all over the place. Boob, boobs, everywhere! Some good, some bad, some fair, but boobs were the star last night, no doubt.
  • There was talk of the ball shawl. (I had fast-forwarded that part, so I had NO idea what was being discussed.) I have since seen the lady with the balls (as of this morning) and I have to agree with NPH… it took balls to wear that dress!
  • Having to watch commercials, without a DVR FF option, I was playing “Name that voice” with the (apple?) commercial. (I think it was an apple commercial, but I’m not 100% in this moment.) Anyway, I like to do that from time to time. If it’s a famous person as a voice over and you never see them, I like to guess who it is. This one was Martin Scorsese. I have no full proof, however, as the commercial never credited him or showed his face, but I think I won that installment of my own game creation. Just saying.
  • During the In Memoriam segment, which came rather quickly, I thought, I posted literally every sad emoticon I could find. Partly to be entertaining, slightly to be annoying, and partially because I really was sad to see some of those faces in the montage. At this point of our live time chat, we asked for silence… Shhhhh… let’s watch.
  • “Didn’t that person die years ago?”
  • “I thought he was already dead.”
  • “Oh no… she died? When?”
  • “How did I miss that one?”
  • Happens every time like that, doesn’t it?
  • And who chose that odd photo of Robin Williams? I didn’t even recognize him. When I thought he had been left out, my friend Heather said, no, he was there… so I had to rewind to see it again. So odd. I expected more.
  • Not even J Hud did it for me. She looked great, but her performance was just meh. She was blinking a lot in her performance. Like, a lot, a lot. Such a distraction. I once heard or read or something, that blinking a lot is a sign of lying. Jennifer was totally lying to us. She sing lied to us. Sung lied to us. As my friend Julie said, “She slied.” “Lyrical deception,” from Heather. Tsk, tsk.
  • During this portion of the show, I shared a fun Jenny fact… that I wanted to go to college for mass communication (which I did) so that I could one day edit montages for the Oscars, to which my friend Heather replied, “How cool. She wanted to work one day a year.” (I LOLed for a long time because of that comment!) Despite failing that dream, I really did want to be an editor and work the awards show circuit. A different path came a calling, so no regrets. (But Heather, I’m still laughing…)
  • Benedict Cumberbatch looks like an alien. Or a bug.
  • The show got really boring here, so I shared more fun Jenny facts, one of which was, I once sat across from Terrance Howard at a terminal gate, while waiting at LAX for my flight to NYC. And he ended up being on my flight. I’m of course sharing this story, as Terrance Howard is on stage, talking. I thought my fun fact was apropos.
  • SIDE NOTE, NOT OSCAR RELATED: I also shared the story about the time I got drunk on wine with Sally Struthers at a house party and that of course opened a flood gate of all sorts of pokes and jokes from my girlfriends. (Good times, Sally, I’ll cherish them, always, despite what my friends think of you!)
  • Somehow “whore ads” from the SNL 40th Anniversary special got referenced on my part… I have no idea why I brought that up, but it just proves that my mind was anywhere but the Oscars. Sadly.
  • We chatted about Common and John Legend, but honestly, nothing was impressing me last night. Meh. Just meh.
  • At this point, I was ready to sign off. So sad.
  • So I told my girlies good-night and signed off from our 4-way live chat. At that moment, Idina Menzel took the stage to introduce John Travolta and of course I had to jump right back on and scream my sheer shock and disgust over his face! What happened, John? Seriously? Age has not been kind to you. Neither have your surgeons. Ooooof.
  • I watched the remainder of the show on my own, no longer taking anymore notes, because quite frankly, I was drained of anything clever to say. I said a few things to my husband, who was doing some work on his computer, but nothing memorable. I enjoyed Lady Gaga’s Sound of Music performance, but I wasn’t blown away like most were. Her hair annoyed me the whole time and the way she would constantly grab her dress was very distracting, as were her very visible horn tats waving at me from her inner arms. Quite frankly, I spent more of my time thinking about her new, very good-looking fiancée, Taylor Kinney, during her performance! But her dress was gorgeous, she sounded great and I LOVED seeing Julie Andrews come out on stage and relish in the moment. That was beautiful. Julie is stunning, even after all these years! A total highlight, right there.
  • I like Sean Penn as an actor, I really do, but he’s lucky he’s an actor, because he looks just like your average southern dude that lives in my town. Seriously.
  • Did anyone else think Sean Penn’s comment announcing the Best Director winner was derogatory? I said aloud to my husband, “Jeez, I hope they’re good friends!” With that [green card] comment!
  • I think my favorite part of the whole show – as stupid as this might sound – was at the very end, when Birdman won Best Picture and Michael Keaton took to the mic and suddenly morphed into Beetlejuice, unknowingly to him, I’m sure! That. Was. Awesome! It made up for the fact that he was chewing gum like a hungry cow in every camera shot that he was in during the entire night. I was just waiting for it to lose flavor so he’d spit that crap out… I bet he was armed with an entire pack of Orbit, because it never ended. But I did absolutely LOVE the unintentional Beetlejuice cameo! So great. If you missed it… try to find the clip of the acceptance speech… you’ll know exactly when it happens.

So there you have it, my Oscars commentary, in all its golden glory.

Golden Girl.

starbucks

“Don’t gain the world and lose your soul; wisdom is better than silver or gold.” – Bob Marley

If you know me well, on a personal level, you more than likely already know that I’m a letter writer. I write letters for everything. If I really like something, I write a letter. If I really dislike something, I write a letter. I think it’s important to send companies and brands letters on both occasions. They need to know when they are doing something good and something right, in addition to the negative of messing up and annoying the consumer.

I have a long history of writing letters, with much success in the end result.

If you’re my friend on Facebook, you may recall when I posted several weeks ago about having my Starbucks gold card status revoked, because I apparently didn’t spend enough money in my allotted year. I apparently didn’t drink enough grande lattes and delicious frappuccinos to Starbuck’s liking. Why, you ask? Oh, I don’t know… because I was PREGNANT WITH TWINS from September 2012 to May 2013! And The Buck gave me a big ‘ol slap on the hand for following a healthful diet of none to little caffeine and coffee while preggo. I indulged a few times in those 9 months, but not enough to retain my status of gold. {Pfffft}

I was bitter. I was going to charge a personal boycott against them. But I didn’t. I just stayed angry and still bought coffee. I’m a sucker, I know.

Even after all these weeks and months, I was still annoyed. So I finally wrote my letter last night. I was nice. Charming as one can be in this situation. Humorous. Sincere. Engaging. Entertaining, to say the least. I explained my plight. My woes. My societal status of NOT GOLD in the world of coffee drinkers. I even threw my husband under the bus, to make a valid point of course, because after all, he obtained his gold status from a combination of SOME dollar purchases AND mostly star codes and promotions. You know the codes I’m talking about… the “Enter this code and get 5 stars” kind of thing. He’s virtually a non-coffee drinker. He’s a social {coffee} drinker. He doesn’t even know the sizes at Starbucks. It’s not small, medium and large, dearest husband! He can’t even tell you why he likes what he does… a caramel macchiato, for the record. And he orders a HOT drink in the dead middle of summer! WHO DOES THAT?! So yeah, not a coffee drinker, yet  he walks around with a Starbucks gold card in his wallet. Ummm, no.

I know the above makes me sound like a complete brat, and I even acknowledged that in my email to Starbucks, but I don’t care. I earned my gold status with spending dollar bills, y’all. No promo codes or get 5 stars for being wonderful you. Seriously. I spent my money and put a hole in my budget, all for the love of a skinny, iced, vanilla latte and the occasional cranberry-orange scone. I’m loyal, friends.

I wrote Starbucks Customer Service and shared my first-world tragedy. I’ve been a long-time customer, yadda, yadda, yadda. I mean, if referring to them as “The Buck” didn’t put me in the category of something more than just a casual customer acquaintance, than I just don’t know what to think and perhaps I need to refocus my caffeine affections elsewhere. This isn’t just a business partnership, Starbucks, this is a relationship. With history.

So long story short, coincidentally, I was in the Starbucks drive-thru this morning, waiting on my usual… (I know, I know, I’m a sucker) …and I was thumbing through my emails on my mobile phone… (I just wanted to write mobile phone) …and what do I see? A reply from Starbucks Customer Service. It read:

“Hello Jenny,

I just finished reading your email and appreciate you taking the time to share your concerns with us.

I’m sorry to hear you were not able to visit Starbucks as much due to reducing your caffeine intake and lost your gold status. I would be frustrated by this as well. I went ahead and re instated your gold status.”

Oh, Starbucks, you really know how to win a girl over.

I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting that. I thought that maybe I’d receive an apology and a credit of some kind on my account, maybe a few Buck bucks; so in the end, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s nice. All is well in the world again. I can finally let that stupid anger go.

Friends, when you’re ticked off about something and you absolutely feel as if you were wronged, write a letter. The worst that could happen is you’re told no. You’re denied. And you remain pissed off. But then again, you could redeem your lost status, move on without the anger, drink your coffee without the bitterness, and continue to pour your hard-earned money into the big coffee cup in the Starbucks sky.

Happy ending today, with a treat receipt to boot.

The Goody Bag. {the debut and demise}

With May ending tomorrow, I thought I’d better post this today. I want the theme to be current, even if there is only one more day left in the month!

For those of you who are my Facebook buddies, you may recall me mentioning my writing-gig plight – the {crappy} local, community magazine in which I pitched a small business/gift guide & shopping segment, just to get the run-around from the {very} unprofessional Editor who made many requests, and in the end, I found out (without any notice or call or email or anything of any kind) that the magazine folded and my colorful bit would never come to be.

Needless to say, I was bummed. Really bummed. And annoyed.

Many of my Facebook friends encouraged me to post my piece anyway. I took the time to find the items and write the segment, so why not share it? Especially with my local friends, who might enjoy it. So I thought I’d do it here, in this forum.

This debut was going to be for the May issue – so I themed it: “April showers bring May flowers.”

Without further ado, I give you The Goody Bag

The Goody Bag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

{The Editor asked that I write a general intro to what would potentially be a monthly segment for the local community-niche publication. This was my introduction…}

Welcome to the debut of The Goody Bag! Your guide to local shopping.

I love to shop. I’m a woman. It’s in my DNA.

I also love to shop locally and support small businesses. I excite with sheer joy and undoubtable curiosity whenever I discover new, quaint shops in my very own neighborhood, filled with trinkets, treasures and goodies galore! And I love that they are all owned by passionate, hard-working residents of our very own Clarksville community. I admire an entrepreneurial spirit and Clarksville has many, from home-based crafters to storefront owners.

In the world of retail royalty, the big (often franchised) names rule, but they don’t have to. We, the consumers, choose where we spend our money. Shopping small and buying locally puts money back into our community and allows for the continued retail growth and success of the Mom-and-Pop shops that grace our streets and bring that singular characteristic of charm to Clarksville. It is our local, small, independent, family-owned businesses (mom-and-pops) that make Clarksville truly unique.

So say good-bye to common, cookie-cutter purchases and hello to consumer goods that are uniquely you and uniquely Clarksville.

This Shopping & Gift Guide is your roadmap to discovering the joys of our local retail community. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed curating these fabulous finds.

Happy Shopping!

“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy local, and that’s kind of the same thing!” – Author Unknown

{I was also asked to write an introduction to the May issue theme and this was it…}

The saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” I think we can all agree that spring is absolutely lovely in Tennessee and flowers are synonymous with the season’s spirit. To get you into the flowery spirit, here are a few floral items I found while shopping small [businesses, that is!]

It is truly fun and fascinating when shopping on a mission. Or in my case, procuring with a purpose! And believe me, I was on the hunt. I visited several local, Clarksville shops and was delighted by my findings. All of the unique treasures that I came across and mention here are items that I would personally purchase and gladly gift to someone special in my life. I might even keep one or two for myself!

When I first began to ponder my Spring shopping theme for XXXX magazine, I set out to find items of a floral nature, which wasn’t particularly hard to do with the current season at hand, but while looking for what I thought would be the obvious, it was actually the unusual and whimsical that caught my eye every time. I enjoy the curious and unexpected, and I think keeping that as a rule of thumb when shopping, makes for great gift-giving etiquette. Who wouldn’t love a memorable, one-of-a-kind gift? Think about how exciting it is when you find something so perfect, that fits the occasion and the recipient, and they too know the heartfelt thought that went into such a special gift, picked just for them; a gift that can only be found in the inspired, narrow scope of small, neighborhood businesses.

Just one more reason I prefer shopping small and local… because it is there that you may discover not only the extraordinary or the next, best thing, but you just might stumble on your newest, favorite thing!

Arm Candy
ARM CANDY
Accessorize yourself pretty with these delectable finds.
Pearl Flower Bracelet, $10
Rose & White Stone Bracelet, $9
Sash Boutique and Salon
2400 Madison Street
 
Bloom Candle Assortment
 
BEAUTIFUL BLOOM
Spring never smelled so good!
Bridgewater Candles, Bloom Scent
Car Freshener, $5
Tall Candle, $24
Tin Candle $16
Mildred & Mable’s
109 Franklin Street
 
Trinket Dish
CHARMING CATCHALL
Perfect for earrings, rings and other pretty things.
“Crinoline Lady” Trinket Dish, $4
The Shoppes at Sango, Booth #20
3470 Highway 41A South
 
Floral Mugs
CUPS O’ COLOR
Such a happy way to enjoy coffee, tea, or whatever your pleasure.
Floral Ceramic Mugs, $9.99 each
Simply Brigitte Home & Garden Design

1501 Madison Street

Headbands
HEAD FRILLS 
Girly-sweet, handmade hair adornments.
Floral Headbands, $3 each
The Shoppes at Sango, Booth #11
3470 Highway 41A South
 
TN Pride Frame
TENNESSEE PRIDE
Orange is the new happy!
Tennessee Girl Glory Haus Frame, $26
Mildred & Mable’s
109 Franklin Street
 

Wooden Wall Hook

WOODEN WHIMSY
Keep it neat and organized with pretty practicality. 
5 Hook Floral Wall Art, $39
Simply Brigitte Home & Garden Design
1501 Madison Street

 

Communication, where art thou?

communicateI have always loved words. I love writing. I love our language. And I certainly love communicating. Verbally and otherwise.

I’m a talker, what can I say?

I majored in Mass Communication in college and my professional background has primarily been focused in sales and branding, both of which involve excellent communication skills.

In other words, I’m a Communicator! Huzzah!

Currently, I am the Marketing Director for a local business that employs young people as sales associates. Nothing wrong with that, the fast food, quick-service industry is littered (and always has been) with young people, still in high school, in college, about to graduate college, just biding their time until they enter into the real world of careers, and answering the infamous question posed by the sadistic stiff of a teacher in the 1984 Twisted Sister I Wanna Rock video: “What do you wanna do with your life?”

Hopefully the answer is not still “I wanna rock!”

Entering into the real world, where everyone now communicates via emails, texting, social media, blogs or memes. Verbal communication seems to be a dying art to that of virtual. Who would have ever thunk it? Interpersonal communication, a thing of the past. Good interpersonal communication, anyway.

Side note: I took a class in college called Interpersonal Communication – I hope it’s still offered some 19 years later, because young people need it today, more than ever!

So I was recently asked by my employer to give a presentation to the young sales staff, about communication. Specifically, one on one communication and selling. Interpersonal communication, so to speak.

I can only laugh when I hear the owners complain that the sales staff has no solid communication skills. Well duh, our society isn’t fostering those skills. Or encouraging them. These kids are growing up in an age of texting. I recently saw a meme mocking texting, but sort of speaking some truth. It read: TEXTING: Killing genuine human interaction two thumbs at a time. Pretty much.

Who needs to talk? Who needs to write? Properly, anyway. We live in a society of people (of all ages) who text. It’s not just the young, so I don’t fault them fully. It’s even people in their 30’s and 40’s and beyond. It’s all emoticons, slang and texting acronym lingo. (Is it even referred to as shorthand anymore? Or did I just date myself?) I mean, there’s an abbreviation for everything: lol = laugh out loud, idk = I don’t know, b4 = before, ppl = people, dat = that. Kids can’t even type out the simple 3-letter word “and” – it’s nd. Really?!

Add to the list of dying arts: spelling and grammar. Very sad.

Oh, and my apologies. I wrote out the word text earlier. I meant Txt. My bad.

Did you know that there is a plethora of articles and blogs on the Internet that are written solely for parents, so that they can understand their child(ren)’s communication style and language? It’s quite comical. Forget learning a foreign language to be chic, you better know your txt lingo. (True dat.)

So yeah, I can only laugh when I hear this complaint of poor communication skills on part of our youngsters. (Youngsters. Using that word makes me feel über old, but it is what it is.) OMG! (That’s still my favorite.)

I’m not quite sure how I am yet going to approach my presentation to the younger generation sales staff who probably don’t even know what the words interpersonal or communication mean, but you can bet that I won’t be using emoticons and texting lingo. Or on second thought, maybe I should… to appeal to their intellectual level and for their entertainment. Nothing like an old lady trying to be young and hip. They might even consider me cool. (Do people even use “cool” anymore? I’m not even sure. While I prefer “the cat’s pajamas” or “the cat’s meow,” I think there’s been a resurgence amongst our young of sweet, tight and sick. But I’m pretty sure def, dope, phat and fresh were left somewhere in the 90’s and I am personally OK with that.)

Perhaps I’ll open my presentation by posing the question: How do YOU define the word, communication? I’ll be honest, I’m sort of excited to hear their responses.

Regardless, I miss the days of old school communication. Receiving letters. Receiving phone calls, even. (Not from telemarketers, they still call me plenty.) But from friends and loved ones.

I’m a fan of advancing technology, but I miss good, old-fashioned means of communication: the mouth, the pen and the telephone.

And don’t try to argue that texting is writing. It’s not. Use your beautiful brains, people. What a gift we all have.

The way we all have begun to communicate, not just our youth, is impersonal, passive-aggressive and somewhat annoying. Texting has become more of a public and personal annoyance than a luxury. IMO, of course. (That’s in my opinion, in case you were wondering.)

The other night I went out to dinner with my family and at two other tables near us were two, separate couples. Both couples were on their smartphones almost their entire meal. I only noticed one of the couples talking to each other briefly, while they shared an appetizer, but then it was back to their phones, even once their dinner arrived. And the second couple, I don’t know if I ever saw them speak to each other. The guy did stop to show his girlfriend/wife something on his phone a few times, but that was it. And these were young couples. It made me sad. I guess it’s really no different than seeing an older couple with no phones to distract them, not saying a word to one another while dining out, which I see a lot too, but it’s all the slow death of interpersonal communication and it’s sad any which way you look at it.

I even think about it on a personal level. How often there are times when I’m on my laptop, while my husband is on his and we’re each doing our own thing. What would we be doing with our time if we didn’t have our computers? Or our smart phones? Or iPads? Or Kindles? Or whatever your poison? Probably building better interpersonal communication skills, that’s what.

I’m really excited for my child to grow up in a world of such advanced technology, I am, but I do not want her to lose her ability to communicate properly. I don’t want texting or even social media to be her main platform for communicating within her own little corner of the world. I want her vocabulary to be vast, her grammar to be proper, her writing ability to be meaningful, and her sense of verbal communication to be HEARD, not just seen or read. She’s already an amazing orator, even at the tender age of 5, so I’m not too worried about her, but it doesn’t change how society is advancing away from proper communication skills or how advancing technology is slowly killing communication skills in general. I can only continue to encourage her and educate her on the importance of communicating, verbally.

I actually want this for all of our children. All young adults. All adults in general. Society as a whole.

When it comes time for me to present to the young sales staff on communication, I’m going to make sure to communicate how important it is to have interpersonal relationships FOR REAL and not just virtually. Virtual will never be as satisfying as the real (verbal) thing. And virtual will never lead to the successes one can achieve by way of the real thing. People want to feel important. Communication opens that door.

We must all remember that verbal communication is a wonderful gift. When choosing verbal vs. virtual, always choose verbal. And always remember, words are wonderful! So use them. For real. Yo. 🙂

Party of 5

A Momma’s story.

Growing up, I was never 100% sure if I wanted to have children. I always knew that I wanted to go to college after high school, graduate, and move out to California to work in the Entertainment biz. I of course hoped that I would someday meet and marry the love of my life and perhaps one day have a family, but it wasn’t my priority. I first wanted a career, success, to experience life, and to find my mad love. I did it all.

Children still weren’t quite on my radar, but in 2007, I was blessed with my sweet daughter. She was a complete surprise, but the best kind imaginable. She has been and continues to be a joy in my life, unlike any other. As cliché as it sounds, I simply could not imagine my life without her. She’s now 5-years-old and full of spunk and sass, overflowing with creativity and imagination, and she has the most wonderful and witty sense of humor. Her blue eyes, contagious cackle, and blonde curls melt me. I adore her completely, and naturally.

For the years following my daughter’s birth, my husband and I fervently practiced maximum-security birth control! I wanted to just enjoy my time with my little girl and my husband.  To be honest, I was perfectly content with my only child and little family of 3. I never felt as if anything or anyone was missing. I often said that I would be fine if we only had our sweet one. I had fleeting moments when part of me wanted a sibling for my daughter, but I was just never fully ready. I know my husband wanted more, at least one more, and the thought of two children was fine with me, but not priority. Maybe one day. I grew up in a family with two children, a girl and a boy, and to me, that was ideal. One of each. I just needed to mentally and emotionally prepare for the idea. I just really loved my family of three. Him, her and me.

As my daughter got older, I began to get the questions and comments of: Are you going to have another? Do you want another? What are you waiting for? Time is ticking! You’re not getting any younger! Your parents would LOVE another grandchild! Your daughter is 4, that’s a good age difference. And… C’mon girl, get moving!

At the start of this past summer, my husband and I finally decided to give it a go – we finally moved out of “maximum security” and went “commando” if you will; all willy-nilly, just to see what was what. I was pretty much taking the stance of, what is meant to be, will be. My daughter was 4, almost 5, and my husband and I were both about to turn 37 in July, so it was time. I wasn’t getting any younger and I realized that I would never fully have all of my ducks in a row (the way I wanted to) in order to have another baby, but I was finally ready to see “what was what” and so I put it in God’s hands.

We got pregnant right away! I was surprised. Excited. Nervous. Happy. I never imagined it would happen so soon. We shared our news fairly early with family and then several weeks later I suffered a miscarriage.

Everything happens for a reason and I didn’t dwell on the miscarriage. I was of course very sad about it, but it just further confirmed for me, that I was ready to have another child and that I was excited about the prospect. Ironically, losing that pregnancy over the summer took away any apprehensions that I thought I had about extending my family. I was in fact excited about having another child. I was very excited about giving my daughter a younger sibling (she’ll be the BEST big sister ever!) and I was excited about my husband receiving the gift of fatherhood yet again. It just wasn’t our time then and though I was very sad about it, I fully accepted it.

After my miscarriage in July, my doctor told me to wait at least two months before trying again. I had been told and read that you are most fertile after a miscarriage (and/or giving birth) so I was optimistic, but never in a million years did I think that in September I would be buying another home pregnancy test and calling my doctor with the good news!

My body was still a bit off from the summer, quite confused actually, and while I was diligently tracking my cycle, ovulation week, and all of that other girly stuff, my data was clearly incorrect, because according to my handy-dandy, monthly cycle iPhone app (yes, I do use one!) I wasn’t supposed to be ovulating this one particular week, in fact I was a few weeks out from ovulation, but what does technology (or my 37-year-old body) know anyway?!

So long story short, I was pregnant again! WOW!

Of course I was excited, but so nervous. Nervous about anything and everything imaginable, even the slightest thing going wrong. I just wanted everything to be okay with this pregnancy. Statistically, a high % of women who suffer a miscarriage go on to have a healthy pregnancy after, but the worry still loomed. It loomed heavy.

I anxiously awaited my first OB appointment in mid-October. I just wanted to hear that everything was looking good and things were all right with both baby and I. I simply wanted pregnancy perfection.

The night before my first appointment was like Christmas Eve when you’re a kid. I was so excited and nervous, to the point of butterflies.

I went to my appointment, routine first OB check-up, and after peeing in a cup, the nurse came into my room and said, “Wow, you are VERY pregnant!” I laughed and replied, “Well… yeah, that’s why I’m here!” And she said, “No, you are VERY pregnant.” I had no idea what that meant, but her eyeballs were the size of half-dollars! (I felt she knew something I didn’t!)

So my doctor walks into the examining room and says to me, “What have YOU been doing?!” She of course was very excited for me and so supportive, after this summer.

I just wanted to hear that I had a healthy baby and the pregnancy was going perfectly. And I got that very news! Everything looked great! I was so overwhelmed with joy and relief that I began to cry. Everything was great and so was the little bean growing in my belly.

But then….

My doctor and the nurse start talking to each other. Whispering, but loud enough for me to hear snippets. They’re perplexed. Not 100% sure. {I did not like the little sidebar conversation going on!} I was starting to sense something and so I said, rather excitedly, “What are you guys talking about?! I’m not sure I like the sound of this!”

My doctor is cocking her head, looking at the ultrasound screen every which way, smiling and sort of laughing, and then she says, “I’m usually good at reading these, but I just don’t know…” I asked, “What do you mean?!” She was pretty sure that she saw something else. And the nurse confirmed it. She saw something else too. They both saw something else. SOMETHING ELSE?!

She had the nurse bring in a third opinion, another doctor. He walked in, we exchanged awkward pleasantries, he looked at the screen and said, “Yep, there’s clearly two.”

“Congratulations! You’re having TWINS!”

WHAT?! TWINS?! HOW?!?

I went into shock. Seriously. Full on shock. Mouth open, arms over eyes, sheer panic. Now I began to cry for a whole different reason.

TWINS. TWO BABIES. ME?

All I could see were dollar signs flashing before my eyes. TWO BABIES=DOUBLE EVERYTHING!

I could hear the nurse saying, “I think she’s in shock.”

YA THINK SO?!

All I could say was, “How did this happen? Twins don’t run in our family on either side!”

In between the shock and tears, I wanted confirmation that “God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle, right?… RIGHT?!”

They happily agreed.

I just laid there in shock.

Twins. Two babies. Family of FIVE!

WHAT?!!

If I’m being perfectly honest, my two main thoughts at this moment: OH MY GOD, I’m going to get huge and we need a new car! (3 car seats WILL NOT fit into either of our cars.)

I also had a fleeting moment thought of: Please say there are only two and not more!!

Children are a blessing, this I know, but God surely has a sense of humor. He takes one away this summer and decides to bless me TWICE this go-around! Twice blessed! Actually, thrice blessed, including my beautiful first-born.

I always joked with my husband that the ONLY way we would EVER have more than 2 children was if I had twins, but I NEVER thought it was a possibility. Ever. It was never a concern or fear. Never a thought! The saying is true… NEVER say NEVER!!!!

I don’t remember the drive home from the hospital that day. I do know that I had spurts of complete crying and then fits of delirious laughter. I felt insane in that moment, but what else could I do? My mind was working overtime. TWO BABIES!

Never in a million years was this ever a thought. Wow… I was going to have twins. My family was going from 3 to 5. Drane, Party of 5. WHAT?!

When I shared the news with my husband, I just handed him the ultrasound photo and remained speechless. Right away he saw. “Is this what I think I’m seeing?” Tears welled up and then the nervous laughter ensued.

We cried and laughed a lot that night. It was both therapeutic and comical. A day/night I’ll always remember, that’s for sure!

The next morning, our little girl came into our room, climbed into bed with us and we shared the news with her. She knew what an ultrasound picture was, because hers is framed and sits on her bookcase. A tiny 8 week 3 day bean – and I had the very same to show her of “the babies.” Right away she saw the two. “Do you have TWO babies in your belly?” she asked. When I confirmed what she saw, she began to loudly and joyfully cackle! I wish I had gotten it on video, her reaction was awesome! Then she very seriously says, “They better not be boys!” We all just laughed! Because again, what else can you do?! Even my 5-year-old saw the absurdity in it all!

But a wonderful absurdity, of course.

Needless to say, thus far, our news has been received with great joy and excitement. Our family is overjoyed and elated. The friends that we’ve shared our news with are equally excited and supportive. I think the initial shock has worn off, but it’s still so crazy when we are talking about “babies.” When we told my sister-in-law, all she kept saying was, “I’m so shocked! I’m so shocked! I can’t believe it!” And all I could say was, “Take your shock, times it by 100 and that’s our shock!!”

I have since done some research on the likelihood of having twins, when twins DON’T run in your family. My findings were interesting and it was information I never knew. I never had a clue twins would even be a possibility. Ever!

Advanced Maternal Age. (That’s the technical term. I’m hearing it A LOT lately!) While it may be harder to conceive after the age of 35 (which I am) your likelihood of having multiples is greater. Women over 35 may release more than one egg at ovulation (sometimes) because their cycles are being disrupted by perimenopause. After my miscarriage, I joked about my “old eggs” and now I joke about my “confused ovaries!”

Apparently I had two eggs that were released and OBVIOUSLY both were lucky to get fertilized! So our twins will most likely be fraternal. Two boys? Two girls? One of each? Only time will tell…

I have already received the one question that I knew I would get and I know that I will probably get again, “Did you take fertility drugs?” And my answer was and will be, “Nope! God is my fertility drug!”

Luck of the draw!

While I still can’t believe that I’m carrying TWO babies, the initial shock has finally worn off, all these weeks later. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared or nervous, or even overwhelmed with every thought that crosses my mind, but I am excited for our family. My daughter is so excited to be a big sister of two and she lovingly talks about “the babies” all of the time.

I never in a million years imagined that I would ever have 3 children – ever – but I know that I was picked to be a Momma of 3, long before time ever was. Chosen to be the Momma of these precious, little gifts that are growing in my belly. It’s overwhelming to think about right now, but I do love them already. How could I not?

My tentative due date is May 29th and so far, I’m feeling good. I’m exhausted 24/7, it’s pregnancy tired x100, but if that’s the worst of it, I’ll take it!

I just want everything to be great and I just pray for happy, healthy, amazing children, like the incredible one I already have.

This will be one crazy ride, for sure, but I’m preparing, as best I can!

I can already hear it now… DRANE, Party of 5!

Wow… we. are. in. for. a. ride. {!!!}

Not today…

I didn’t make up the statistics I’m about to share. It’s the facts.

“Just the facts ma’am.”

I’m mostly taking these from the American Pregnancy Association. Seems legit.

  • 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. If you include loss that occurs before a positive pregnancy test, some estimate that 40% of all conceptions result in loss.
  • Approximately 75% of all miscarriages occur in the first trimester. That’s the first 13 weeks of pregnancy.

(We’ve all heard the advice that it’s probably best to wait and share your good news until after your first trimester is over; and while it’s a personal choice of course, it’s probably wise advice, nonetheless.)

The good news?

  • An estimated 80% of all miscarriages are single miscarriages. The vast majority of women suffering one miscarriage can expect to have a normal pregnancy next time.

Like I said, that’s good news.

While I never worried about miscarriage… “an increase in maternal age affects the chances of miscarriage.” (American Pregnancy Association)

  • Women who are 35-45 years old have a 20-35% chance of miscarriage.

I just turned 37 in July. You think it can’t happen to you, but it can.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had an amazing pregnancy. No morning sickness, no afternoon or evening sickness. I simply wasn’t sick. I don’t recall cramping or pain. I suffered exactly one week of awful headaches, but with a medicine prescribed by my doctor, that ailment was short-lived. In utero, she was perfect. If I may brag, I maintained an easy pregnancy the entire 9-months with zero complications. I did, however, experience “ham feet” during the hot summer months, but it happens to the best of us. If that was the worst of it, so be it. Chubby feet or not, I was truly blessed.

With my first pregnancy, we waited to share our news. We did tell our parents and immediate family at about 9 or 10 weeks, but made the big announcement to friends and loved ones after the first trimester was through. With a first pregnancy, you’re worried about all sorts of things and you want to do everything perfectly. I did. I listened to the advice and we waited to share.

This summer, my daughter (now 4 1/2) and I had the opportunity to see loved ones, on both sides of the family tree, and with exciting news to share, how much better is it to actually share it in person? Answer: SO MUCH better! It was something we were unable to do when I was pregnant with my daughter; we had to make phone calls and send emails, and it just wasn’t the same. This time I would be able to see reactions and smiles and tears of joy! That was exciting in itself.

Despite the risk in sharing so early, we felt comfortable in our decision. No worries. Everything thus far was mimicking my first pregnancy, so what was there to worry about?

In early July, we visited my in-laws in South Carolina and shared the news, to much joy and excitement, but naturally! In mid-July, we visited my family in New Jersey and shared the news, and received the very same elation and excitement, but naturally!

And despite not telling my little girl 100% that we were going to have a baby, it was always, “Mommy might have a baby in her tummy, and she might not, we have to wait and see what the doctor says!” That’s the story we stuck with, as I wanted to wait until after I had my first OB appointment the first week in August, so that I would have the little ultrasound picture of the 8-9 week old “bean” to show one very excited Big Sister; as she did to some degree understand “mommy being pregnant” and as a result, very proudly told her grandparents and Great Aunt that she was “going to be a big sister!” My heart just aches as I type this. I’m filled with such sorrow upon this thought.

So soon on the heels of sharing such wonderful news with our immediate family, I would soon be sharing the heartbreaking end.

I would soon regret sharing our news so soon. I would regret saying anything at all to my sweet, young love who could only understand so much, without us saying too much.

In fact, I had just shared the good news the day before with my cousin as we were driving to the beach – I was so excited to be able to tell her in person this time. She of course shared in my joy and we talked about the future and the excitement it all brought. That was Thursday. The very next morning, Friday, I woke up not feeling myself. I had a little bit of cramping and a bit of very light pink spotting, both of which could be very normal during early pregnancy, but because I had not experienced this in my first pregnancy with my daughter, I was concerned. I was scared. It was an aching, nagging concern that I could not ignore. My family was planning a weekend trip to Hershey Park, a treat for my precious preschooler who had been anticipating this adventure for a few months now, but I did not want to leave without knowing everything was first alright with me and the pregnancy. Since I was not home in TN and unable to call my doctor for a visit, I had no other choice but to visit the local Emergency Room. I hated the thought of going, but I wanted (NEEDED) peace of mind. I wanted to know that what was happening was perfectly normal and that everything would be fine. In fact, I arrived at the Emergency Room check-in that morning and the woman behind the desk was so sweet, sympathetic and kind. She quickly noted my concern and sincerely catered to my fears and visible sadness, and before handing me my admittance papers, she said, “We’re going to get you and your daughter to Hershey Park today!” I appreciated that positive sentiment. I really did.

So my nearly 5-hour visit to the ER ended with the doctor coming into my room, giving me the results of my bloodwork and ultrasound. The first bit of bad news… my HCG levels were abnormally low for where I “should have been.” SHOULD HAVE BEEN? Second bit of bad news… I was only “clocking-in” at 5 weeks 2 days, when I should have been between 7 and 8 weeks and 2 days, according to my last cycle. The math was all wrong, and both the doctor and I knew it. How could this be? It was believed that development had ceased at some point. Lastly, my ultrasound was not positive. The gestational sac was not where it was supposed to be. I had an abnormal mass on my left ovary, in addition to a cyst. Being so early in pregnancy, they were unable to conclude whether or not I had an ectopic pregnancy or not, but again, he was fairly certain the pregnancy was “nonviable” and he termed me a “threatened miscarriage.” My discharge paperwork read, “We do not think you have had a miscarriage, but it could happen in the next few days.”

What? Did I even just hear him correctly? “Nonviable… threatened miscarriage…” Did I really just read those words on my discharge papers? “…it could happen in the next few days…”

I didn’t know what to say. I think I tearfully and simply responded, OK.

Sadly, I did hear him correctly. So did my Mom, who ended up coming to the hospital, right before I received the news.

Sadly, I really did read those words on the report.

It must be true. It’s really going to happen.

Why? The million dollar question. My discharge report read: “Usually we do not find out why it happens.”

Heartache x1000.

I left the hospital so incredibly sad and disappointed. And sad. SAD! Sad that this was happening. Sad that this was going to happen. Sad that we had told our loved ones our news too soon. Sad that my daughter was excited to be a big sister and it wasn’t our time. Sad that March 2013 would now no longer hold the joy of adding a new baby to my family. Sad that this was happening to me. To my husband. To us. To my family. Sad. Sad. SAD! Such a mediocre word, but I was simply sad. As sad as one can be.

I went home to my parent’s house, in a state of numbness and confusion. I went to sleep and just waited. We didn’t go to Hershey Park that afternoon, as planned. I just wanted to be in a familiar bed and sleep. That was a Friday. I mourned on Friday night. The next day was Saturday. It was all starting to happen. It wasn’t even 24 hours later and it was really happening. I mourned on Saturday morning.

I mourned the loss of what could have been.

I do, however, thank God… thank, thank, THANK GOD, that I went to the ER the day before, because despite receiving devastating news that I did not want to ever hear, it was absolutely paramount that I hear it beforehand. Had I woke up on Saturday morning, with no knowledge of what was about to happen, I would have been struck with absolute panic and terror of not knowing what was happening. The mere thought makes me sick with anxiety. Having been to the doctor, I at least was armed with the knowledge that a miscarriage was inevitable and I was able to prepare, anticipate, and expect. As much as I could, anyway.

My parents asked if I still wanted to go to Hershey Park. I did not. But how could we not? It would break my little girl’s heart if we didn’t go. She had been waiting for this day for so long and with so much excitement, and we were already a day late in going. And besides, what was I going to do? Stay in bed all day and sulk and cry and dwell on what I had no control over? No. So off to Hershey Park we went, miscarriage and all.

What a day. It was a distraction, indeed. I think I needed that. I know I needed that. It wasn’t denial, I was fully aware at all times what was happening, it was just a distraction.

We came back home that night, instead of staying overnight at a hotel near the amusement park. Once again, I just wanted a familiar bed and a hot shower. My sweet daughter said her good-night prayer, same as usual, but this time she added, “…and I hope mommy’s tummy feels better very soon.” Talk about heartache. She was aware of something. Kids are amazingly intuitive, even when you’re not saying much.

I mourned a little bit more that night and wrote an email to my family before going to bed, explaining what had happened. Some of which was very similar to what I am writing here, in this blog. With each word I typed, it was actually admitting what was happening and reading the words on the screen, it became that much more real. I was telling others. Just as I had shared the good news with each of them, I was now sharing the sad news. And so soon after. All in the same month. Mere weeks (and for some, mere days) separating the two. My heart ached as I wrote the message. It still does, as I write this now.

Just as I wrote to my family, I know this is all part of a grander plan – something much greater than I. I must not question it too much. It just wasn’t my time. Our time. I just pray that I will (and can) have the opportunity again, to make my little girl a big sister and to give my husband the gift of fatherhood a second time, in addition to our beautiful, little girl.

I just turned 37 this month, as did my husband. We’re not young anymore. We’ve become statistics. Age can be an obstacle in family planning. I know lots of women have babies later in life, it’s doable and it can happen, but it’s not as easy as it once was. Clearly, I’ve proven this to be so. I’ve joked a few times in recent days, to make myself laugh, that I have “old eggs” and I just have to find the golden one. I know God will take care of that. I pray that He does.

But in the meantime, I am anxious to get home, to be with my husband, to have my little family back together, to see my doctor, make sure that my body has done or is doing everything that it needs to do, naturally, and to get these ovaries of mine checked out. I know ovarian cysts are common, but so are minor cramping and spotting during pregnancy, and well, you know the rest…

I am giving myself an “A” for staying positive and calm, and for accepting this for what it is, and not sulking and pulling the “woe is me” card. It would be easy to do, that’s for sure. But what’s the point of that? I know it’s cliché, but everything happens for a reason, and perhaps my reason was this needed to happen, so that the cysts that I currently have would be detected sooner rather than later, because who knows how long they would have gone unnoticed without the recent ER ultrasound.

I’m optimistic.

I want to be a light on this issue. A voice. I don’t want it to be just something tragic that happened in my life. Our lives and our life experiences are our testimony, and nothing should ever be wasted in heartbreaking silence. Shared experiences can be comforting and you never know who your story will touch and vice versa.

I also wrote this in hopes of assisting in my own, personal healing process. There is a lot of sorrow and heartache, but writing has always been very therapeutic for me. Not to mention, this sort of explains on a more mass level, what’s been going on with me, without having to actually delve into it and repeat the same story via many conversations, because right now, I’m not in the mood to do that. Like I said, I do want to be a voice, I just need to find it first.

So I’ll continue to hang in there and hold to the hope that we get another chance to share the good news with everyone next time and not just immediate family. I look forward to that day, loved ones.

And so an angel in the book of life wrote down my baby’s birth and whispered as she closed the book: “Too beautiful for this earth.” -Unknown

Wish me luck.

Pat Benatar sang that love is a battlefield, but I beg to differ. I think it should be: Weight is a battlefield. It wouldn’t make for a promising song, but it’s the truth. Weight is war. Weight is my own personal hell.

But I have hope.

A little over a week ago, I had a breakdown. In my closet. Typically, these types of “come to Jesus” moments happen on a tiled bathroom floor, but mine was on a carpeted walk-in closet floor, amongst dozens of fabulous shoes, and racks of cute clothes that just don’t fit anymore.

Once again, for the umpteenth time, I found myself completely engulfed by my insecurities, my battle of the bulge, my hatred of the scale, and my ridiculous obsession with my fluctuating weight. It’s truly never-ending. And heartbreaking.

I cannot even begin to count the plethora of times that I have made a public declaration, via blog or elsewhere (in hopes of providing accountability) that stated something along the lines of: “This is it! I’m sick and tired of being fat. I’m done. I’m conquering it once and for all. This time will be different. Yadda, yadda, yadda.”

I never conquer. I am always conquered.

For over a year I have been hemming and hawing about wanting to lose weight. And in the year that I’ve been whining about it, I’ve put on 20 lbs. Such a freaking disappointment. The whole thing. I constantly ask myself, “How did this happen?” But I know exactly how it happened. The question should be revised to read, “Why did I let this happen?” That answer, I’m unsure of.

If you have been a blog follower of mine over the years, which I know that some of you have been, you may recall a blog that I wrote last year, sharing my hopes [and dream] to lose weight and enter 35 happy and thin. Or at least content with the latter. Well, the reality of it is, that didn’t happen. 35 sucked. It sucked and I was heavier than I have been in years. Way to go, Jenny.

When the post pregnancy jeans didn’t fit, once again, the expletives and self-loathing that spewed from my mouth was crushing.  When I began to not recognize myself in the mirror or in photos, I became numb and distant. From myself. When the scale read a number that I vowed never to see again, I didn’t just feel like a failure, I was failure.

To give some light to this, I did have some weight loss success in the year; ups and downs, as always. I found diet success in the spring, before my cousin’s baby shower.  But, gained it all back.  I did a crash-diet in November, in a desperate attempt to lose several pounds so that I could fit into a bride’s maid dress that fit me like a glove as is. Short-lived success. The holidays gifted me all the weight back, and a few extra pounds for good measure, I guess. And going into 2011, wow… hello 10 more pounds.

So here we are. Or there we were.

I think what finally pushed me over the edge that day in my closet, was literally trying on every single piece of clothing that I owned and absolutely nothing fitting or even looking half way decent when on me.  It was a truly sad, pathetic state. I was speechless. All I kept thinking was, I had a baby… I successfully lost the baby weight, got my figure back, and even obtained my pre-pregnancy weight back, yet somehow, even after accomplishing that amazing challenge, I let myself go. I let myself go.

We always hear women say that about themselves. Or others deviously whispering it about someone else. “She let herself go.” I vowed to never let that be me. Even in the past, when I gained weight, lost weight, gained it back, and so on, I never once thought, “I let myself go.” But this time… this time was different, but not in the way I had hoped, because this time, I had let myself go.

Good God.

That night in the closet, I silently cried my eyes out until nothing was left of me. I promised myself that I was going to make a change. I wasn’t going to announce it publicly, but only share it with my husband, in hopes of his unconditional love, support and encouragement, and I made another decision, which to some may sound odd, but it’s what I needed to do. I asked God to help me. I asked Him to be my coach. My partner in this endeavor. I asked God if he would be my voice of reason. My main supporter. My encourager. My go-to-guy. My trainer. My confidant. My will power. My motivation. My self-control. My strength. My drive. My everything.

And I have to believe that this one, new piece to my relentless quest to lose weight once and for all, is the answer.

Around the time of my breakdown, I was reading a magazine and in it I found three Bible verses that spoke to me, at the most necessary and crucial moment possible:

Number 1. Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Number 2. For those who live according to the flesh think about things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:5)

Number 3. Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

If that is not the ultimate encouragement, I don’t know what is.

I have always feared failure. And I have almost always failed at trying to achieve my ultimate weight loss goals. Not always, but almost.

On a related note, I recently read that ‎”The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and continuing to expect different results!” New results require new actions, and so to prevent going insane over being fat and trying to lose weight, I needed to put together a new plan of action. Different from all the other times. This time, I needed more. The ultimate. For me, the missing link was God.

For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love and sound judgment. (2 Timothy 1:7)

As of today, I am in a much better headspace than I was a couple of weeks ago, lying in a pathetic, tearful heap on my closet floor, but in retrospect, I needed that moment. It had to happen that way, or I would probably be a few pounds heavier right this second, avoiding the scale at all costs, and medicating my sorrows and insecurities with yet another Hostess Sno Ball.

I have since put into action my new plan, and I am feeling good on all fronts: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I know it’s just the beginning, but I have faith.

A couple of weeks ago, I told myself that I would like to lose between 10-12 lbs. by my 36th birthday on July 9th, as a starting point and I’m on my way. Small steps. Small successes. I’m taking on the big picture, one frame at a time.

I have also decided, in a positive reflection, that I needed to gain the weight again, and that I needed to see that frightening number on the scale once again, to put things into perspective, because I have always had such a warped sense of self-image. Always. I look back at photos from just 3 years ago and think, wow, what I wouldn’t give to look like that again! Knowing full well that at that time, 3 years ago, I hated the way I looked even then. So now, if I reach that weight again, I will be able to appreciate it so much more and accept it. And I pray, be content with it.

Life is a journey, not a destination, we all know this. My battle and struggles with weight have been the speed bumps. The obstacles. The curve balls. The shit that has hit the fan over and over again. And I am trying to take away the overall lesson of what being fat has meant in my life, over the years. I am making mental notes. I am opening my heart to the possibilities. I am refusing to accept the negatives. I am soul searching for the truths. Most importantly, I am releasing my anxieties and fears to God, and maybe one day I will have the answers and an amazing success story to share in a book of some kind that will be both inspiring and glorifying.

Wish me luck.

Rags to Riches :: a DIY wreath craft

In being on a bit of a craft kick lately, most of my Googling has been of the craft nature. In one of my random searches, I came upon this DIY gem:

DIY Rag Wreath :: You can click on the above image to take you to the link I used.

First thought: I can do that!  Second thought: I love wreaths!  Third thought: Totally cute.  Last thought: I’m totally going to do this!

And so I did.

I have had what the sewing world calls a “fat quarter” for years. It was given to me, as a memento, by one of my very first licensing partners (a sewing company) in which I negotiated a deal for printed fabric, for one of the children’s entertainment properties I was representing at the time. I wasn’t a sewer, but I loved how the little, fat quarters were marketed, and so I was gifted this particular one (see below), and every job that I ever had after that, my “fat quarter” was proudly displayed on either my desk or a bookshelf in my office, as reminder of a very lucrative partnership and monumental career accolade.  It’s been a couple of years since I left my old career, and so my fat quarter has just sat in a box, in the spare bedroom closet, collecting dust.  I knew that I didn’t want to just throw it away or get rid of it, but I honestly had no idea what in the world to do with it, once not on display in an office somewhere.

My Fat Quarter

And for all who are not familiar, a fat quarter is a one-fourth yard cut of fabric that (usually) measures 18″ x 22″ and is sold in a “bunch” of sorts (made up of) several different patterns of fabric in coordinating colors. Used mainly for quilting, so I’ve been told. I wish that I had taken a photo of mine before I had taken it apart. The fabric was wrapped with a cute, cream bow, and a tiny, gold scissor charm hung from the knot. It was darling.

So in thinking about the fat quarter that I’ve just been hanging on to for all these years, I thought, HEY, this Rag Wreath craft would be an awesome way to utilize it in such a way that I can enjoy it daily, and still be reminded of my professional glory days… double win!

Let the crafting begin…

In the directions that I found online, it said to use a wire hanger for the wreath ring, but like Mommy Dearest, I subscribe to “NO WIRE HANGERS!!!!” And so I had to make a trip to my local Hobby Lobby and purchase a ring of sorts, to build my wreath from. And I found the perfect size, which was only $1.99, and unlike a wire hanger that I would have had to shape into a perfect wreath ring, for who knows how long, the store-bought ring that I got required no stressful shaping of any wire nonsense, which is crucial for this obsessive-compulsive perfectionist. Below is the ring perfection that I purchased.

$1.99 ring at your local craft store

My Fat Quarter Fabrics

This one is my favorite. It adds an element of fun and whimsy to an otherwise ordinary collection of fabrics.

Once I had my fabrics ready, I used a rotary cutter to cut my fabric into 8-inch strips, each strip being 1-inch wide. They weren’t perfect, but close enough. And it doesn’t matter anyway, the craft is called a RAG wreath or fabric SCRAP wreath for a reason!

Tools of the craft trade!

Fabric Strips

So I just began tying the fabric strips around the ring; double-knotting, to ensure each strip was secure. And I continued doing so until I was satisfied with the “fullness” of my wreath. I think I used each fabric pattern twice around, doing my best to keep with an even pattern of spacing and color. I opted to use one of the fabrics only once around, however, because I wasn’t fond of it – but it was a simple, solid rust color, with very little pattern, so I didn’t feel bad; the wreath doesn’t lack, because of it. And honestly, this project has NO RULES, it’s go-with-the-flow, and do what you like.

I did what I like and I like the end result!

My fun DIY Rag Wreath

Fat Quarter, you look good as a Wreath!

President Obama, is that you?!

You’ll find lots of links online that will show you how to make a Rag Wreath or Fabric Scrap Wreath, but regardless of which one you follow, mine included, have fun with it, be creative, and enjoy!

That's Wreath Happiness, right there!

Treasures of Yesterday

I was once again feeling a bit nostalgic this morning, after looking at my Senior class, group picture on Facebook last night, and marveling at the amount of classmates I am in touch with, thanks to Facebook reconnecting us all.

It inspired me to pull out my Senior scrapbook, filled with treasured memories and keepsakes from my time at Baumholder American High School, Class of 1993. GO BUCS!

I have always been the sentimental type, finding importance and meaning, and memories in even the smallest of mementos, but thumbing through the coloful and full pages of my scrapbook, I had to laugh at the memories I noted and the scraps of paper I kept, including my locker combination from senior year! No kidding… 26-10-28.  And for all who really know me, this is kind of funny… I’ve always been big on smells and I like my immediate environment to smell good. I had completely forgotten about this, but it was noted under the category of “Locker Inventory” – a “smell-good” stick-up! Apparently, even back then I was obsessed!

Notable mentions on my school:

BAHS – Baumholder American High School, Baumholder, Germany

Colors: Maroon and Gold

Mascot: Buccaneer – GO BUCS!

Principal: Mr. William Diesselhorst (who is also on Facebook and now happens to live in the same town as me… small world!)

Assistant Principal: Thomas Abbott aka Herman Styles (remember the show Evening Shade?)

Class Advisors: Mrs. Oliver and Ms. Magowan

Class Theme/Slogan: Unity in ’93 :: “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” – William Shakespeare

We began the school year with 56 Seniors, and throughout the year it declined slightly to 50, with a final graduating class of 48.  (One of the down sides to military life… your friends move away, at any given time, PCSing back to the States, because of soldier parent’s orders; it’s all part of being an Army Brat.) I remember our 9th grade class (at BAHS) being 93 students, which everyone thought was super cool, since we were in fact, the class of ’93. 45 students gone in a matter of 4 years. Wow.

Class Officers: Terrence Works was President for a short time and his brother, James, was Vice President.  I held the position of Secretary and Thom Lowry was Treasurer.  At some point, positions transitioned.  I don’t remember the reasons or the details, but like most political climates and politics in general, there was scandal and outrage, and Nancy Cashman took over as President and I transitioned into the role of VP. Nothing too terribly juicy, but enough to reorganize our class office.

I noted our Senior class trip to London, in November of 1992, as one of the best times we had as a Senior class, as well as making our Senior banner – Unity ’93. Graduation day was of course memory filled, and on that day, everyone loved each other. No divides, no cliques, no outcasts… it truly was our day of “unity.”

Signs of the times: I noted that a cassette tape cost $8.75 and a CD was $11.75; candy bars were between .50 and .60 and my favorite hamburger cost DM 2.40 (DM was the Deutsche Mark, now the Euro).  I even taped to one of my scrapbook pages the very first 1993 quarter I ever received, and the receipt of the very last thing that I bought in Germany, at Frankfurt Main Airport, before boarding my plane back to the United States for good.  A Ritter Sport candy bar for DM 2.50 on June 15, 1993.

I noted that Rap, R&B and Soul were the popular music genres at our school that year, with Boyz II Men and En Vogue leading the way.  Air Jordans and NIKE Tech were the cool shoes and even back then, wearing pants that hung off your rear end was the go-to fashion for teenage boys. (Some things never change.) I listed “Nutmeg” hoodies as one of my favorite clothing items, but sadly, I cannot remember what in the world a nutmeg hoodie is. Probably something sports related. Starter jackets were “the bomb” and my guess is that so were nutmeg hoodies.

Charlie Express was my favorite perfume, Roseanne, Guiding Light, Family Feud, Martin and Entertainment Tonight were listed as my favorite television shows. Beaches, Thelma & Louise, Bugsy, The Godfather, Fried Green Tomatoes, Sister Act and Boomerang were listed as my favorite movies.  My favorite expression was “So [sew] buttons!”  My favorite time wasters were looking at PEOPLE magazine and doodling, and Mexican food was still (and always has been) my favorite, along with mint chocolate chip ice cream (the green kind) and frozen Girl Scout thin mint cookies. I had listed California as the place I hoped to live (which I did for almost 10 years) and the dream was to be employed by a studio, like Paramount, which is actually where I ended up doing my internship in college and eventually working my first few years in Los Angeles, at Entertainment Tonight.  I had hoped to be married to a wonderful guy in about 10 years, but little did I know then that it would be the wonderful friend that I secretly crushed on in high school. I had great foresight for a 17 year old!

My book is filled with so many pictures and notes, memories and mementos of every wonderful kind.  It was fun to read all of the little inside-jokes from friends, including: “Anymore trolls runnin’ around screaming in the middle of the night?” – from Ashley and Kathy. I have no idea what that meant! Or “The key is in the pocket! Just ask G-Man!” – from Heather. And I do remember what that one meant!

I even saved my pocket calendar from the year, noting every weekend plan, homework assignment and activity or project that I took on that year. It seems so silly to have saved all of this, but I am so glad that I did. How else would I have remembered which day was Senior Skip Day, or my Government class trip to the Manheim prison, or the treasured memories of eating at the Hacienda with my family and friends, or the very exciting day that I received my acceptance letter to Emerson College – February 12, 1993! Or that on April 16, 1993, there were only 49 days until high school graduation!

Within those scrapbook pages are memories I surely would have forgotten otherwise.

And so it ended, June 4, 1993 – 7:00 PM, at the Rheinlander Club, Baumholder Germany, we, the BAHS Class of 1993, graduated! Barry Drane was our Valedictorian and David White was our Salutatorian; an honor that was almost mine until nerdy David White moved to Baumholder our senior year. Ah well, such is life. My only regret about that is, I could have had lots of pictures of me and my hubby on that day, together.  That would have been really nice.

I have very fond memories of high school, especially my Senior year, and again, I am so happy to have such a memory treasure chest to remind me of such a fun and wonderful time in my life. Truly.

A shout out to all of my BAHS Class of ’93 peeps… you are treasured.