My People

My People
My People - Cosette, Austin, Oliver, Cody, me & Ryan. Just think, had I not lived, these people wouldn't be on the planet. They are my whole heart!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

thankful thursday

Is it really Thursday? I'm in such a fog. I went to sleep a little after 8 and slept straight through until my alarm went off at 6. I'm always awake before the alarm. Apparently I needed that sleep. I'm stopped up.

My throat hurts.
My back is better this morning but it still hurts.
My left foot hurts whenever I walk but if I don't put pressure on it, it's ok.
I've got blisters on my tongue from.... who knows what... probably an allergy to something I'm taking.
but my coffee is awesome...
my bed was so cozy
stubby tucked me in and stayed with me all night. My sweet nurse cat
I had another stubborn round of tachycardia last night and I'm sure that's why I slept so long.
Tachycardia is the kind of heart rate you would have at the peak of exercise... and that's what I'm dealing with at hours a time. It wears me out.
Yesterday when the nurse read my transmitted ekg she said there were some "premature beats" so it wasn't in a clear sinus rhythm as it had been. She's always so perky... "ok. that's good information... I'll review it with your doctor" Oh tay.
I tried to get my blood pressure taken at the doctors office ... they don't make an appointment, you just "stop by" ... the first time I did that I waited thirty minutes. Yesterday I gave them twenty before I left. I'm just going to make a doctors appointment for it and let her know that the front office staff isn't with it. It's not as simple as "just stop by".
I'm still so sleepy. I could sleep another 8 hours.
But I'll go into my happy little office and try to make some money. Y'all pray for me.
Austin has been such a huge help... I know I say that a lot but it's amazing how cooperative he's been - and truly concerned for how I feel.
And... according to my math... there are only 41 hours until my yabba dabba dOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Ok... gotta go check my farm...
Love and hugs, y'all

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

the weekly whine

Thank the good Lord it's Wednesday. I still don't feel good... I've added sore throat and headache to my backache and tachycardia. I'm one miserable bag of bones today.

I'm going to work, though. I didn't go yesterday and I feel such guilt when I don't go.
Of course, I also feel guilty when I don't take care of myself and keep pushing contrary to what doctors have told me to do.
Somewhere back in my ancestry is a Jewish woman because I do guilt like the pro's.
My BooBoo is heading to Atlanta soon. Hope he plans to come see his old mom. (that was a subliminal message... see, I told ya we've got some Jew in us!)
I'm exhausted. When your heart rate is too high over a period of several hours, you feel like you've been doing non-stop cardio.
Too bad it doesn't cause weight loss.
The opposite seems to be true. When I'm tachycardic I lose my appetite but I crave sugar. I'm sure there's a blood sugar connection somewhere and I'm going to discuss with the cardiologist.
Regular doctor, pain doctor, pulmonologist, physical therapist, cardiologist... I'm stimulating the economy - at least for the medical community.
Watched a lot of the Casey Anthony trial yesterday. That is one dysfunctional family. They are a lifetime movie just waiting to be filmed. Dad and brother molest daughter... mother lies about her computer usage and work schedule... dad lies about his affair... daughter lies about the disposition of her daughter... mom lies about hiring detectives... brother calls mom out on detective lie... oh what a tangled web we weave, Anthony family.
I've thought about using my blog as a platform to share my knowledge as an insurance agent. I think most people know just enough about insurance to get themselves in trouble. My favorite part of my job is educating people.
ok... gotta get some glam underway... pray for me today. I'm desperate to get some hours in at work and lacking the energy to do much.
love and hugs, y'all.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

newsday tuesday, i've got the blues day...

Got woke up by a lightning strike at 1:30am. It was close enough that it flipped the breaker. Scary stuff, indeed.


Pain is off the charts today. I'm really super crazy unbelievably uncomfortable. I am beginning to understand how people with chronic pain do crazy things like doctor shop, take too much medication, hold up pharmacies, take illegal drugs... there are times (like today) that pain makes me totally irrational. Not that I'm about to do any of those things. I'm just saying I understand.

The word for the day is "empathy"...

I'm in need of compassion. This experience... the whole chronic pain deal... is changing my heart and changing my perspective on so many things. In the same way that the heartbreak of my last marriage changed my heart. Apparently, God needs me to be a person who is able to understand the struggles of others. Ok, God, I'm here... use me.

I look back over my life and see so many times that I wanted people to just shut up and deal with it... when all they needed was someone to care... and that person, far too often, wasn't me. That whole "eyeroll" "whatever" "put on your big girl panties and deal with it" attitude doesn't reflect the heart of Christ, does it? I mean... it's one thing to encourage someone... but sometimes the way you encourage is to sit with someone in their place of pain and discouragement. Like Job's friends did.

Be sure your words are not bitter, for one day you may have to eat them.

I don't know what I'll do today... how I'll do today. I'm weary. Today it just seems like it's too much to bear. Life doesn't grade on a curve. In other words... even if I'm giving my best in the midst of extreme pain... if my best isn't as good as someone else's best, then I'm not doing enough. I don't want to miss more work, I don't want to put my job at risk, not that there has been any threat of that but... common sense... you have to show up. And I really can't afford to take another short paycheck. But right now... I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to walk to the shower. It's that bad today.

So. Anyways. That's the deal today. Gotta go give it an honest attempt. Sorry to be Debbie Downer. Love and hugs.

Monday, June 27, 2011

it's that time again...

Hello friends. It's Monday again. I'm feeling icky... pretty sure I have a sinus infection and I can feel bronchitis coming on as well. Back pain was unpleasant over the weekend and I had tummy troubles that had me in the shower at 3am yesterday. But we're back here again with a big long week stretched out ahead of us and I'm going to find reasons and ways to embrace it joyfully.


1. great coffee this morning... i love my strong coffee! I buy cafe bustelo and pretty much it's the only coffee that gives me the results I want. good stuff.

2. only five more days on the heart monitor. my skin is raw from those stick on patches. i think we got a lot of good data and I'm anxious to see what the doctor is going to prescribe.

3. i checked my blood pressure Saturday morning at the grocery store and it was 124/83... lowest it's been in awhile.

4. only four more days to get through until payday.... and it should also be child support day...so I could make some progress on getting some bills up to date/paid early. slow and steady...

5. air conditioning. it's been a typical hot, humid Georgia summer so far and it leaves me feeling like a limp noodle.

6. Next weekend is a 3 day weekend! woohoo!

7. despite not feeling well... I'm really enjoying my job and I look forward to going to work. I dread the pain and it inevitably hits. I dread the bouts of tachycardia because they make it hard for me to have the level of energy and enthusiasm throughout a long work day. My dream situation would be able to cut back on my hours... maybe take a half hour lunch... so that I'm back home earlier in the afternoon. D likes us to all have the same schedule so that would like never happen... but it would help.

8. Austin's phone will be activated as soon as I get paid/get child support and he will be over the moon. It's a really nice phone and was super cheap so I might consider changing to the same plan to be able to get that phone. At first, I was embarrassed that we had to go with the month-to-month plan for our phones... but now, honestly, I'm glad we did. We have what we need when I can afford it. There are no late fees or random surprise excesses.

Ok... that's all I could think of at the moment... maybe more later! Hope you all find reasons to love Monday this week...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

d is NOT for dandy

Just for the record: the "d" in vitamin d does not stand for dandy. It stands for another word that starts with "d" that I'm too much of a lady to discuss. All night long. I'm exhausted.


I just had a bloody nose.
My back is killing me.
I have a headache.
I think I'm coming down with my usual bout of summer bronchitis.
My heart rate was only slightly higher than the normal range yesterday but today it's back up again.
My face is itching like crazy.
One of the meds I'm on causes cold sweats.

I'm a joy to be around today. Just ask Austin. I did the head spinning possession act so convincingly that he cleaned the kitchen and living room and did a load of laundry and I didn't even have to ask.

God bless Stubby the 3legged Wondercat... he stayed by my side all night and even asked if I was ok. Really, he did. He said, "ma-ma?" and instead of "tucking me in" and waiting until he thought I was asleep like he usually does, he curled up at my feet and stood watch over me. You gotta love a loyal kitty... you can expect that from a dog but it's a rare thing in a feline.

Have I told you that Stubbs greets me at the door every time I arrive at home and meows like someone is stepping on his tail until I bend down and acknowledge him? This is why single women turn into the "crazy cat lady"... of all the people I've known, I trust my cat the most.

I think Cindy Anthony is lying . I'm not sure if I would commit perjury to save my kids' lives. Actually... I'm pretty sure I wouldn't.

Austin thinks that the police overstepped their bounds in arresting Zach for punching a hole in the wall. He said that Zach's mom didn't want to press charges. I think they checked his record and found a previous similar act of violence and decided he needed a time out. Obviously, he needs anger management.

Isn't it funny how every time someone does something they shouldn't oughta have done, they go to rehab? When I was at the Funny Farm there were SOOOO many people who were there on a court order for treatment for bi-polar disorder or anger management. I very quickly established that even in my weakened state of mental health, I was better off than about 90% of the people there.

Comforting isn't it, to realize that even on your worst day, you're still better off than SOMEBODY... even if you're not feeling dandy.

Hope y'all have a great Sunday! Love and hugs...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

since we last left this story

Since we left this story... I am still wearing the "event monitor" and have found some interesting patterns with my heart rate. It definitely gets too high with ANY movement at all... it gets too high after eating... it stays at the high end of normal when I'm completely at rest.

I got a phone call from my regular doctor about the blood work that the pain doctor ordered on my birthday (yes, two months ago). When I saw the regular doctor on June 10th, she asked what they had tested for in that blood screening because she didn't have a copy of it. I told her I thought they were just ruling out lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. When I saw the pain doctor on June 13th, he noted that he didn't have a copy of the lab work in my file. He agreed to notify my regular doctor of any findings. SO yesterday (after two months) my doctor called with a bit of urgency in her voice and said my vitamin D levels were drastically low and they were calling me in a prescription dosage of vitamin D to take once a week for 16 weeks in order to bring those levels up.

This is particularly interesting because vitamin D is the ONE supplement I regularly take (because they are chewable orange flavor and taste like baby aspirin)... and I discussed this with the pain doctor on my last visit. He said this was a good practice because vitamin D is particularly helpful with osteoarthritis and controlling inflammation... it also helps lower your blood pressure. I'm grateful that I was already on the right track with that supplement but highly perturbed that it took two months for any action to be taken regarding my blood work. I mean... do they figure that because I'm now diagnosed with chronic back pain that there is no rush to make things better?

So anyways... got my vitamin D today and was able to finally get the neurontin refilled. After trying lyrica for a week instead of neurontin, I have to say that my pain levels were much greater this week on the lyrica... but I also worked a full work week this week (when I unfortunately, usually have at least a half day that I'm UNABLE to work). I was so incredibly uncomfortable by yesterday afternoon BUT... I did note that my heart rate is NOT increasing when the pain increases so there is not a connection there as we had previously assumed.

I think when this is all said and done that I'm going to become some kind of patient advocate... a "doula" of sorts for people with chronic conditions. There should TOTALLY be some person who can go to the doctor with people, help with medical research and diagnosis, be familiar with appropriate measures to take, etc. Maybe a case manager does that from a remote sense but truly, it has all rested on me to keep track of what has been done when over the past five months and it is - at times - overwhelming... and I'm a reasonably intelligent person with an above average understanding of medical conditions and diagnosis. What happens to people who are older, less articulate and able to comprehend this type of data. I seriously had to ask the pain doctor what my official diagnosis is... throughout all of this it's come to me in bits and pieces and it really is hard to keep it all straight.

In other news... I bought Austin a new phone, ordered it on the walmart.com website for site to store shipping (which I love, by the way, since walking all around walmart hurts... and the site to store stuff is at the front of the store) Anyways... I bought him an awesome phone out of his child support the other day. It was less than $30 and it has all the internet capability he wanted, it has an MP3 player, a radio, is completely app capable... really all the bells and whistles he has wanted. One problem... it was a Net10 phone and his current plan is Straight Talk. The Straight Talk is a month to month plan - no contract - but he has ten days left on his month. The phone number is transferable but the service is not. So... poor kid... he has to wait to have his brand new mack-daddy phone activated and you know what he said? "Some things are worth waiting for"... man. He is really growing up.

One other thing I just remembered about the vitamin D... in my research about vitamin D deficiency, I found that it can cause cravings and weight gain. So maybe... some of this that I've been blaming on the meds can be attributed to this vitamin D problem. My levels were less than half of the lowest acceptable level.

Or... as my co-worker said, "it's because you're a mole... you don't go out in the sunshine". True story.

And I won't be out in the sunshine today either... it's too hot.

Anyways... about to grab a power nap. Hope you're having a great weekend! love and hugs!

Friday, June 24, 2011

my bucket list

Someone in my *orbit* has a parent who is in declining health with an expectation that they don't have much time left on this planet. The parent had a beach trip on their bucket list so that's what they're doing this weekend... living large on the Redneck Riviera (aka Panama City).


All this makes me think about my bucket list... what are the things that I wanna do before I die... which hopefully is not for a few more decades so ideally, I should have plenty of time to accomplish these goals, although maybe not plenty of resources. SO... here's my bucket list... at least the things that come to mind in the pre-dawn hours:

1. To be completely debt free. No medical debt. No unpaid credit cards. Nothing to sneak up and bite me. My car being (finally) paid off is a huge step in that direction.

2. To own my own little cabin in the woods... simple, small, rustic... and all mine.

3. To be a grandmother. None of my kids are ready to be parents yet so I'm ok with waiting on that... but I do want to experience that bond. I had to wait a long time to be an aunt and it was absolutely one hundred percent worth it... being a grandma will, I'm sure, be worth the wait too.

4. To see much, much more of the United States. We didn't travel when I was growing up, my resources for travel have been quite limited as an adult... I want to go and see as much as I can of this country.

5. To have the ability to be philanthropic. To have the means to give back to all the people who have helped me financially over the past few years ... and to have the means to "pay it forward" to others who need a hand-up (not a hand-out).

6. To produce another show with Purple Michael. For that matter... to have another bed and breakfast weekend like the amazing birthday weekend we had a few years ago... he's so busy and so well loved that it's hard to carve out time to have his undivided attention for long.

7. To own a dog. A little toy purse kind of yip-yip dog. I want to live in a place where it would be ok to have a little dog. Our neighborhood dog, "Mayor" hasn't been at the corner to tell me goodbye over the past few days and I'm worried about him. Austin said he has something wrong with him because his hair is falling out. Poor Mayor.

8. To be thin. Or thinner. Just a normal size, not cover girl ready... the steroid shots and host of meds that I'm on in order to just be able to function enough to earn a living have packed on the pounds and once again that healthy weight goal has slipped off in the distance. I don't want to have to have twenty men as pallbearers when my time on earth has ended.

9. To have one day... just one... where I'm pain free and my heart doesn't beat out of my chest and I don't feel exhausted and can actually enjoy the world around me instead of being such a hermit. Ok. Maybe two days.

10. To have a family reunion - even better, a family vacation - that includes all of my brothers and their significant others, all their children (and grandchild)... to be able to be all in one place, to be able to adore my nieces and nephews (and grandnephew)... to be able to sit around and joke with my brothers... to enjoy my sisters-in-law... I don't want to have to wait until somebody dies for us to all be in one place.

That's all for now... maybe I'll add to it later...
What's on your bucket list?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

heart monitor, austin, commercials...

UPDATE: GREAT NEWS! MY CAR IS NOW PAID OFF!!!

So far the heart monitor has shown that my heart goes into tachycardia every time I move. At all. Walking across the parking lot to work it speeds up. Taking laundry out of the dryer makes it speed up. Going to the bathroom. Eating. Anything other than being perfectly still and resting. Most days it has ranged between 85 and 100 while resting. Since yesterday around noon it's been between 100 and 120 while resting. Normal for a healthy adult is 60 when resting. The good news is that so far the cardiac lab has shown that it's beating in a normal rhythm but just beating too fast. And when it's beating too fast it makes me short of breath, dizzy, exhausted - as if I've been running a marathon, a little disoriented, shaky... even my voice is weak...



The beta blockers that I'm on for high blood pressure are supposed to handle the tachycardia too so I wonder how high it would be otherwise. Ugh. I hate this.



Have I mentioned that Austin is officially a senior - class of 2012! Although he failed all of his academic classes last semester, he has enough credits that he could graduate next year if he passes everything. It's so hard to imagine him as a senior. He had a talk with his adviser and although he LOVED the Catalyst class, he really needs a study skills class to have someone in the school make sure he is staying on track. They also talked him into scaling back his collegiate expectations. He WANTS to be a large animal vet but he truly hasn't shown the ability to handle college classes. His adviser wants him to go to a technical college and learn a marketable skill (such as a mechanic or hvac guy) and he agreed to that.



I'm not anti-college by any means but I think there are some people who are not suited for that environment - Austin is one of them. I've also watched my co-worker Holly struggle to find a teaching position for a full year after she got her teaching degree. My generation could count on a college degree as a guarantee that you'd be gainfully employed in your chosen field as soon as you had the diploma in hand. This current economic climate has changed that. I've always wanted my kids to have marketable job skills that would allow them to be a contributing member of society. It's going to be harder for Austin to FIND a job because of the way he answers questions -and that's difficult to explain other than he tends to be monosyllabic and unsympathetic to the person asking questions - he doesn't always understand how to articulate his position. He also has atrocious handwriting... looks like a first grader, at best. Anything he has to fill out on a job application is going to be illegible. He also has a bit of a sense of entitlement - thinking he's above certain jobs (like fast food).



I do have to say, though, he has been a huge help to me over the past month or so. He has really embraced the challenge of keeping the kitchen clean and it has been nearly spotless. He's been helping with the cooking - just put a roast in the crockpot this morning. Yesterday after we made our 5am grocery run he put away all the groceries (and he mostly put them in the right place). He takes out the trash and takes care of the litter box and ... does the laundry, mostly... but sometimes forgets to put a load in the dryer before it sours and has to be rerun. His room is still an episode of hoarders in the making... but he has finally understood how important it is to me to have a clean kitchen.



He is difficult at times but he really is such a huge blessing and I'm glad to have him here to help me. I really, honestly, in no way could manage this household without him.



I'm extremely dizzy this morning and have a sore throat so please keep me in your prayers. I've realized by having the heart monitor that the times that I feel bad, feel uninspired, unmotivated and blah are happening when my heart rate gets above 90. One odd symptom I've noticed is that my heart rate will be high - in the high 90's or above and I'll feel a sharp pain in my chest - just a brief flash of pain - and my heart rate will drop back into the 80's. I mentioned this to the lab technician when I transmitted my last readings and she said she'd make a note of it. I think the fact that I have a normal rhythm makes things not so critical... but I'm afraid that if my heart is beating faster than it should be all the time, that it will wear out! Seriously!



I love the early morning commercials for things like food savers and other similar products... they're all the same format... introduce need for product with a bad actress making a frowning face at her unpleasant situation... show product that can prevent situation.... show smiling bad actress expressing her relief at alleviating the unpleasant situation... BUT WAIT! That's not all... and double the product that you can purchase or introduce some supplemental product that will also make the bad actress smile... This product is not sold in stores but can be yours for three "easy" payments... and return if you're not completely satisfied for a full refund (minus shipping and handling, of course).



The other commercials that are overplayed on the channels I watch are the ones for "bad drugs"... DID YOU TAKE ZOLOFT AND HAVE A CHILD BORN WITH TWELVE TOES?... contact such and such attorney to sue the pants off the makers of these bad drugs. You even call a number that is 1-800-bad drug...



And the products that medicare will pay for... they make me wince because I know that our country is in such horrible debt and lots of people are obtaining these products using tax dollars. Not that they don't NEED them... it just makes me realize how much money is being spent.



I really think that there needs to be a poor single mom making the budget decisions for the United States. She would know how to make a dollar out of fifty cents. You don't spend more than you make. It's that simple.



Anyways... so that's our Thursday morning. In twelve hours I'll be back in my nest... gotta hang tough... gotta keep going... gotta find the strength and energy from somewhere because I definitely don't have it within myself. Trusting God for each and every hour...



Hope you have a beautiful day... we've got that weekend in sight so it's all downhill from here, right? Love and hugs, y'all!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

whiny wednesday

Sometimes the pain doesn't go away, you know?

Sometimes people aren't healed and sometimes dreams don't come true and sometimes our loved ones pass away and bad things do happen to good people.
And I'm not just being doom and gloom today... I'm just taking a realistic look at the world around me.
One sweet friend has been diagnosed with MS.
One sweet friend has a husband who is facing a likely amputation of his leg.
One sweet friend had to move far away and is homesick.
One sweet customer lost her father.
And me... well, I don't feel so good myself.
The truth is that there IS suffering in this world. There are people carrying burdens that are simply too heavy for them to bear on their own. There is heartbreak. There is loneliness. There is poverty. There is sickness. There is natural disaster. There is meanness.
I think if we paint the world with a broad "rainbows and glitter" paint brush and consider people less of a Christian or less than faithful because they ARE suffering... that we miss the mark that Jesus set for us.
We are commanded to bear one another's burdens... and we can't know the burden is too heavy until someone shares their hurt.
Sometimes we need to acknowledge the hurt.
Sometimes I really just need to come right out and say that I dread every single work day because I know it will hurt. Wearing the heart monitor has shown me what I suspected all along: my heart races when I get to the office because I know that sooner or later, while I'm sitting there doing the work that I'm trained to do, I'm going to be in pain and there is NOTHING I can do about it.
Sometimes I have to humble myself enough to say that I have deep seated fears about reaching a point where I'm no longer able to be productive because of the pain. There are times that the pain is a distraction and I don't perform up to the level that is expected... and I feel like a failure.
The truth is... there are days that I am suffering and I feel like I need to get a gold star on my calendar for toughing it out for 8 hours. But... the reality is that there's no reward for "showing up". There's no reward for getting up every day and doing what is expected of you. That's just mediocrity.
And I know there are several of you that are feeling that way... that what other people see as "the least you can do" is really the most you can do.
I know that there are times that pain and suffering - whether physical or emotional - isolate you from others. That's why they say that misery loves company, I guess.
And I want you to know, fellow sufferers, that I'm here for you. Email me, message me on facebook, send me a snail mail... whatever... let me know that you're feeling alone in your pain and your suffering and I will stand by you.
Sometimes that's enough - just knowing you're not alone.
This morning Austin and I were both awake at 3 am so sometime after 4am we decided to make a major grocery store run. We got child support yesterday so it was a good time. We stocked up. He very sweetly and responsibly took over the chore of putting the groceries away. I may find peanut butter under the sink and eggs in the pantry, but he did it. And I don't have to face that overwhelming, painful task for at least a week, praise God.
I'm taking lyrica now instead of neurontin. They increased my lyrica by six times the strength I was taking. It knocks me out... so I can only take it in the evening, missing half the dose.
My tachycardia was bothersome yesterday. My heart rate ranged from 90 to 125 all day. Sixty would be healthy... 85 is an indication of a problem - poor health. It wears me out... and I'm now realizing just how often my heart is beating too fast and I have no idea how long it's been that way. What I thought was anxiety back during the Darby Daze might very well have been tachycardia. Not that he didn't make me anxious - because believe me, I walked on eggshells. But I know that I've felt this way for awhile.
Anyways... sometimes just letting someone know how you're feeling makes you feel better. It's why I blog... so that I'm not alone in my pain and suffering. Thank you for being willing to share my burdens. I'll gladly share yours in return.
Love and hugs, y'all...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

pledging allegiance

It's Vacation Bible School week at our church. I only know this because my sister-in-law is deeply involved with it and I had lunch with her last Friday. It happens during the work day so I can't be involved and Austin... well, he doesn't get up early enough to participate.


I loved VBS growing up. I loved teaching VBS as a grownup. I loved having my kids involved. It's just a great time for the ministry focus of the church to be on little ones. I would go out on a limb and say that anyone who ever participated in VBS as a kid has had *some* kind of impact on their life because of it.

It bothers me a little that our church doesn't say the "pledges" at the start of the assembly. In "olden days" one kid would parade into the sanctuary carrying the American flag, one kid would carry the Christian flag and one would carry the bible and you would say a pledge to each one.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag and to the Savior for whose kingdom it stands, one brotherhood uniting all Christians in service and in love.

I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God's Holy Word and will make it a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path and will hide it's words in my heart that I might not sin against God.

That was all from memory so I might be a little bit wrong. The thing is... as a kid... I believed those pledges. They were my truth... my optimism... my security about the world around me. As I 've grown and faced the stark reality of the world around me, I understand that those pledges are optimistic and unrealistic and ... not true for most people.

I think there is a growing majority of people who don't even own a bible, much less know what it says. People who know what it says choose to ignore it. People doubt it's validity and relevance in the world today. People pick and choose what parts of it they want to adhere to it. There are so few people, even Godly people, who "hide it's word in their heart" by memorizing scripture.

And how many Christians are really united? How many different faiths do we have here in America? How many different divisions of denominations that have split and re-split... how many churches are divided within themselves - some want only hymns played, some want modern praise music - we are not united as Christians, we are not one brotherhood. And sadly, we don't "serve" as we should.

The pledge of allegiance to the American flag... why do we even bother with it? NBC left out the part "under God"... and honestly... that was true... we are not a nation under God. We have forgotten the scripture that says, "if my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray... then will I hear from Heaven and heal their land". If ever our world was in need of healing it is now. There is so much unrest. So much suffering. So many wars and rumors of wars and homelessness and hungry. There are so many people who have so much who don't hear the cries of those who are doing without. There are people who have given up on finding a job and embraced poverty and government assistance. Our flag means to many an object of tyranny, an object of disgust.

Indivisible? We've never been more divided. Red state, blue state, hate hate hate. We don't have liberty - we can't even board an airplane without being physically violated. In the name of protection, we have turned into a nation of fear and control... down to what light bulbs we can use in our homes. There isn't justice for all... there is justice based on your wealth. There is justice based on the color of your skin. There is justice based on your sexual orientation. But there is not liberty and justice for all.

So I guess it doesn't make sense to have another generation of VBS attendees learn those pledges. Our world has changed and we need to raise our kids - not necessarily to know all the answers but to know the God who does. We need to raise our kids with confidence in the strength and power of a Savior who loves them and is always there for them. We need to teach them a bold faith, a bold truth, and unwavering spirit. The world around us is changing. Wrong is made right and right is made fun of.

Maybe we should pledge allegiance to the Cross... it's our hope and our future... it's what keeps me from falling apart in a storm tossed world. It's what enables me to get out of bed every morning and face a day that I know will involve physical pain... because I know I will receive a fresh anointing of grace from Him.

What do you pledge allegiance to? Where is your hope, your truth? What gives you purpose and strength?

Have a beautiful Tuesday. Love and hugs!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

a patriarch

Today, for Father's Day, I want to talk about patriarchs... the true, solid, Godly, head of the family type patriarchs. More specifically, I want to talk about our patriarch, my daddy, aka Pop, aka "Mr. Jim".


First, you should know, that he was not trained in advance as to how to be a patriarch. His father was out of the picture before he started preschool. His maternal grandfather had passed away more than a decade before was born. I don't know if there was any contact with his paternal grandfather, but I am doubtful. He had, I believe an uncle or two... a boy scout troup leader... a sunday school teacher... Godly men who patterned a Godly life that he would aspire to. And he had a house full of Godly women who practiced tough love with him, who raised him to be a Godly man.

You should also know that he started young. My dad was 16 when my brother Jim was born. I look at Austin's friend Logan who will become a dad in December and I think, "wow... that's what we had to start with... " Yesterday I bought Logan a combo birthday present/father's day present: a bib that says, "I love my daddy". I think he was more impressed with the yugioh card holder that he bought for himself. Just imagine... pick any random 16 year old in your life... imagine THEM becoming a father. That's where we started.

So daddy became a father to Jim... and 22 months later, a father to me... and then 7 years later a father to Michael... three years later came Bryan ... and four years later... our little David.

And from this little village where he was raised by Godly southern women... came this man who had watch over the physical and spiritual well being of four young men... and me. First in a series of small (but very clean) apartments... and then into our first house, the house my parents still live in and maintain... in a modest neighborhood on the southside of Atlanta. A house with no air conditioning, one bathroom for seven people, a lot of books and a lot of laughter and tears.

Our childhood wasn't perfect but it was precious... daddy got up and went to work every morning... driving his old volkswagen station wagon until it gave out... and then upgrading to a 2 door Ford Escort that wouldn't even hold the whole family! Around that time Jim started driving and so if we went anywhere (like church) as a family, mama and daddy took the "little boys" and me and Jim rode together.

Daddy worked hard in the church, always serving in whatever capacity he was asked. He was intelligent, witty, reliable... and over the years he has mellowed into a real sentimental guy. He was a deacon, a Sunday School teacher... he sang in the church choir... he has a beautiful voice and he loves to sing... loudly... as a teenager I would sing duets with him in church and although my voice is not nearly as good as my daddy's and my brothers' ... I love to sing and was always so proud to get to sing with him.

Over the years I've watched my dad mellow. He used to be a little short tempered... now, he seems like he has more patience than the rest of us put together. He taught me that you "catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar" and that has helped me curb my sharp tongue.

He's never been extravagant. My parents live simply. They work hard and live within their means. But they are generous. They have never allowed any of their kids or grandkids to do without the things they need.

When the NIV version of the bible first came out, I really wanted a copy of it. We couldn't afford one but there was a "pack a pew" contest during revival and the prize was a really nice NIV bible. I was SURE I would win, I worked hard inviting people and was heartbroken when several didn't show up. Daddy went out and bought me that bible... and it's still a treasure to me now. When my daddy heard my bible was falling apart, he offered to buy a new one - and when I wasn't ready to give up my treasured bible with all my notes in the margin and highlighted passages - he bought me a sturdy cover for it.

When I turned - 12 or 13, I'm not sure - I asked for and received a beautiful cross necklace from my parents for my birthday. I was going to the local baseball park to watch a ballgame and my parents told me to leave the necklace at home so I wouldn't lose it. I disobeyed. I wore it... and... I lost it. I came home sobbing in grief and shame. Daddy went out and bought me that exact same necklace - and I'm sure that was a financial sacrifice for them at the time. He gave it to me with a note that I still have around here somewhere - and I can't remember it verbatim so I won't try but the context was that they were extending to me the same mercy and forgiveness that Christ gave at the cross.

My dad has bailed me out more times than I care to remember - not from jail, fortunately - but from some really tight places. He encourages me. He believes in me. He's actually proud of me, I believe. And I'll be honest with you... knowing that my daddy loves me unconditionally gives me the courage to keep moving forward on days that I might otherwise have given up.

From this fatherless man came four amazing fathers: Jim - who is a loving, patient and kind father to Jamie and Sarabeth. Michael - who adopted his stepdaughter Tiffany into his heart from the minute he met her mother and who is raising two of the most beautiful, kind, well mannered boys I've ever met - Cory and Matthew. Bryan - who although he doesn't have any human children, is a big sap with an open wallet when it comes to making sure his cat Shadow has everything he needs. And David - who also embraced a stepdaughter, Elizabeth and then added Caleb, Madie and Joshua. David is also an incredible, hands on father who works hard to make sure his kids have a happy, secure life.

And my kids... Pop is their male role model. He's the one they go to when they need to know how to tie a tie... or when they need help with just about anything. He has loved those grandboys and sacrificed to give them the best life possible. He has coached their little soccer teams... gone on overnight campouts with the boy scouts... he baptized Austin...

When I broke my toe a few years back ... and was alone... and the roads were iced up... it was my dad who came to take me to the ER. When things fell apart so tragically in Jacksonville, when I opened my eyes and looked around the hospital room, there were my mom and dad, standing guard over me.

My dad is not perfect but he is consistent. He is stable. He is unselfish. He is compassionate. He is generous. He is faithful. He is respectable. He is honorable. He is Christ-like. He would do anything for his family. He has stood in the gap for me more times than I can count. He is quick to commend and slow to criticize. I trust him. And I love my daddy more today than I ever have because the longer I live, the more I see of his character.

Our family has faced struggles. There has been dissention in the ranks. We have rebelled, we have reunited, we have accepted some things that will not change. But whatever happens... we are stronger than we ever would have been if not for a Patriarch who leads, guides, and exemplifies who we should be. His eyes are on the cross so when we look to him, he points us toward the cross.

Happy Fathers Day, Daddy! I love you!

Friday, June 17, 2011

finally friday!

Yikes! I only have fifteen minutes to blog this morning... have to leave the house by 7:15 to get to Gainesville for my appointment with the cardiologist... I've been enjoying a peaceful, unrushed morning as if I had nowhere to go and nothing to do... but I do... cardiologist, work, lunch at Jim and Angie's (and also to take pictures of their house for their homeowners insurance) more work... and then... crash. The good news is that, Lord willing, I'll be back settled in my nest in just 12 short hours.


This morning my back pain is searing... I ran out of the neurotin - it's a medication that makes your nerves less sensitive so it takes the edge off of the pain without making you Cheech and Chong comfortable. I ran out because my doctor initially prescribed two a day and then increased me to three a day without changing the prescription at the pharmacy... so my insurance thinks I need 60 pills a month when I actually need 90... so they won't allow the refill until next week. Instead of calling the pain doctor and raising a stink, I thought it would be a good time to try to wean off of that medication... and... that's not really working for me... so I am mega-uncomfortable today.

Ten minutes left. Oy. I am still tossing around this whole post about logic - how this world has evolved to a place that is completely illogical but... it will take a while for me to completely develop that thought and I just don't have time to think. Sad but true. So you'll be getting blog-lite again today.

Yesterday at work the computer was down about half of the day. We're already short handed and the loss of our computer made it dang near impossible to get things done and made for a day that dripped past like molasses in the winter. It made me completely discombobulated. Hopefully today it will be faster so I can finish up the things I didn't finish yesterday - and I will be in the office less than a 8 hour day today since I'm going to Gainesville first... and have to be out taking pictures which will extend my lunch. Hopefully... it will help to not have to sit as long today. Sitting = pain.

I'm really exhausted this morning. Tachycardia is fluttering... I've learned if I take deep, slow breaths it eases up. But it makes me feel sooooo tired. Also struggling with my tummy this morning. I'm nowhere near 100% today but I'll fake it until I make it... gotta get this day on the payroll.

Time is just about up... gotta get the glam routine going... and figure out an outfit that will be comfortable, cool and easy to get in and out of at the doctor. Hope you have a fabulous Friday! Love and hugs!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

random hashtag thursday

I'm mentally working on a good post about logic but I'm not ready to post it yet so I'll just give you a peek into my head for this morning's post. You have been warned: this will not be a #literarymasterpiece.


Yesterday was a fairly pleasant day, temperature wise. It stayed in the lower 80s. Right now it's 62 here in "downtown" Cleveland, GA. We had some bad storms again last night but... I slept through them. #weather

I'm keeping the #sleepingschedule of a toddler. Or a morning drive time radio host. I'm asleep before 8pm and awake before 4am. Austin, conversely, is asleep until 8pm and awake until 4am. We're apparently taking shifts.

Austin spent his first ten days of #summervacation hanging out with his married friend Zach. Then Zach got into a fight with his mother and went to jail. Austin spent the next two days moping around the house and becoming a professional gamer. Last night he was hanging out with J.J. and Fat Pat. It's like his friends are all from the 50's according to their nicknames... the 60's according to their drug habits. I'm joking. Mostly.

Austin is keeping Zach's phone and playstation for him so that Zach's mama doesn't sell them while he's in jail. He was convicted before of some anger deal and just got off probation. In a way... although Zach may not be the positive influence I would choose for Austin, at least he's an example to Austin of #consequences for your actions.

Having a lot of #tachycardia this morning... I was wide awake and full of energy at 4am... after an hour of tach I'm ready to crash. It absolutely wears me out.

And sweating... whew... it's ridiculous. I'm not hot so I don't think it's hot flashes. I talked to the nurse at the pain doctor's office yesterday and she confirmed that the medicine that I have doubled is the one with #sweating as a side effect. HOWEVER... since doubling that medication, my pain level is lower. So... we'll see... I don't know which aggravates me more: the pain or feeling like I'm soaked all the time.

I'm ready for some roadside #farmstandtomatoes. And cucumbers. Mmmm. The farm opens this weekend and I'll be there with my basket, ready to drop a little cash.

I have a cute big tote that I bought from 31gifts. Have you seen their stuff? Go to #www.thirtyonegifts.com. If you go to page 2-3 in the catalog - I got the large utility tote in the black and white polka dots pattern with my name embroidered in hot pink. I love monogrammed stuff.

Vancouver Canucks = #sorelosers

The longer I watch this #CaseyAnthony trial, the more suspicious her dad looks.

Time has slipped away... must dash and glam. Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

whiny wednesday

I was driving along my merry way to work yesterday having my usual talk with God and saying hello to the creatures that I pass on my commute. There's this little brown shaggy stray dog who hangs around near the stop sign at the base of the hill. He's always sitting there keeping guard over the neighborhood, wagging his tail as we head off on our daily missions. I've named him "Mayor" - since he is the leader of our little community. Then there are the cows on Hwy 115... if I'm driving with my windows down, I'll moo at them... they never seem to notice but I do it anyways.


Anyways... I was talking to God and musing over some of my usual issues and complaints. He was listening patiently as He always does while I whined and criticized His creations... me... some others who cross my path routinely... and I told Him how weary it makes me to be around toxic people. I felt His voice speaking to me as He gently reminded me that He put me in their path, not so that I could become toxic too, but so that I could do a little toxic waste clean up. He has suited me up with the armor of His word... and has promised to never leave me or forsake me. He has taught me who I am in Him and if I keep my eyes on Him, I won't be drowned in a sea of negativity.

I have the power to influence my world. Lately my world has become very small as I struggle to earn a living, keep a home and live with chronic - sometimes debilitating - pain. However, it is at times like living in a retreat of sorts. I don't have a lot of distractions. I have a lot of time for reflection and meditation (haha... I almost typed that as "medication" ... which is true too!). I have the opportunity to sort of bask in the glow of the first act of my life and rest and restore my soul for what lies ahead. But because I have that sort of time available, I am uniquely situated to love the few people who cross my path daily VERY well. I have the spiritual energy to love better than I am loved, in some cases, because I am so well loved by God and others.

I spent my youth trying to assimilate and blend in with the crowd and my adulthood figuring out who I really am. I remember as a younger woman really dreading those milestone birthdays and the passing years but I realize now how much sweeter life gets when you grow a little deeper and give up the shallowness of youth. I realize how much more precious life can be when it's surrounded by memories and enduring friendships and relationships that have seasoned over decades. I embrace the uniqueness of me.

I've always been a bit of a square peg in a round hole. I was the only girl out of five kids. I was a little less privileged than my friends growing up. I got married - and pregnant - very young, so I was the youngest mom of Ryan's peers. I had unusual pregnancies with Cody and Austin. I didn't drive until I was in my late twenties. I was (am) the parent of a child who is differently abled. I was the only lady at church without her husband for a time. And then I was a single mother. I didn't go to college. I am a evangelical Christian whose best friend is a gay man. I am deeply spiritual but not religious. I am dirt poor but cultured. I appreciate the finer things in life but I am not wasteful. I seem to sort of be on the outside of most groups and... the truth is, I don't mind it. I enjoy being slightly quirky, slightly difficult to label, slightly unpredictable.

But in between talking to the stray dog and the cows and chatting with God, He reminded me that I have been placed in places where I don't fit in so that I can be - not so much of an example - but maybe just a sample, a little (not so little) trial size of how life can be just a little bit different. The people who seem toxic to me are the people who need a clean up and I'm the one, in some cases, ok - maybe in all cases - that God has called to do it. And the great thing about it is that He has uniquely created me to have the emotional strength to do it... and He has given me a tender heart toward people who might otherwise not be loved, or at least not loved well. And for those who are already loved well, He has given me the ability to love differently - to stand out in the crowd - to be a little more forgiving (I hope) and a little more forebearing and to allow the past to stay in the past and to move forward with hope.

He has given me the ability to hate the sin but love the sinner. He has given me a burden to pray for others so that even when I can't go and do what I want, I know that He is there. Yesterday He reminded me that I'm put in uncomfortable places where I don't quite fit, not so that I can get comfortable, but so that I can bring comfort to others and bridge gaps that others might not know how to cross. Ultimately, at the end of the day, whatever anyone does to me, is not added to my guilt or shame, it is added to theirs. So then I can live freely and love freely and not fear the consequences.

Now it's Wednesday and the week is speeding along quite nicely. I have had fewer episodes of tachycardia over the past 24 hours (but am having one now and it's quite distracting so if some of this doesn't make sense, that's why)... but I am having absolutely drenching sweats... I have been absolutely soaked to the skin a few times while in air conditioning... I had lunch at Waffle House yesterday because it's the coldest place in town and I still, although chilled to the extent of goosebumps, was sweating like I had run a marathon. Sweating is a definite side effect of one of the meds I'm taking, it's a symptom of a couple of possible disorders or "life changes" but it is RIDICULOUS and it feels like adding insult to injury. Literally.

But life goes on... my prayer for you today is that you have the courage to be who you are... whether you're designed to blend in and be one of the crowd, or if you're destined to be different... know that God's creation is perfect and you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Have a great day, y'all.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

laughter, the best medicine

I think what keeps me from going into a rock-bottoming/fetal position/"goodbye cruel world" kind of depression is my ability to find things to laugh at - including myself - during the course of the day.


There are a few kindred comic spirits who have crossed my path with whom I am able to laugh at ANYTHING. My friend Amy, formerly of Holly Springs, currently residing in Denver-ish, Colorado and I had a couple of private jokes that we could always go to if things were going wrong. It all started when Anna Nicole Smith died. There were a series of odd things that happened along that time period and one of us (maybe me, maybe her, I don't remember) remarked, "things just haven't been the same since Anna Nicole died". Anna Nicole's real name was "Vicky Lynn"... so anytime we found ourselves in a moment of crisis, one of us would cry out, "Vicky Lynn" so as to summon her spirit to relieve our time of trouble. (disclaimer: no, neither of us really believes that VL has any powers or that anyone beyond the grave can continue to have power on earth.) Vicky Lynn died four years ago and we are STILL laughing over that joke.... Amy even said to me last week: "Sometimes you've got to put on your toga and your clown makeup and just deal with things"... referring to those famous photos of VL. Amy is listed in my cellphone under Vicky Lynn.

Some jokes are just that good.

I have a similar rapport with Purple Michael. We simply crack each other up. I'm funnier when he's around. He's funny all the time but I have to have a muse. He and I have some objects that we mention to each other that take us back to times of absolute hilarity... my favorite is "the pink sweater". I went through a stage of hiding my chunkiness by wearing muumuus. They weren't REALLY muumuus but they were these long dresses - maxi dresses - that I always wore with a cardigan. Ok. I still sort of dress that way... but not every day any more. During the time period when PM and I were routinely frequenting the bar in the bowling alley in Forest Park (for karaoke) apparently I thought that muumuu/cardigan combo was particularly flattering so that was my go-to going out outfit. WELL... inevitably... because he was so charming and talented... other patrons at the bar would buy PM drinks throughout the evening. And... inevitably... he would imbibe a bit too much...so that inevitably... he would be a tad intoxicated and nauseated on the drive home at 2am when we closed down the bar (sidebar: can you believe that less than ten years ago I was closing down bars... and now I'm asleep most nights by 8? sad but true)... anyways... when we closed down the bar... I would end up driving home with the windows rolled down and his head hanging out the window spewing those gifted cocktails along the side of Tara Boulevard. And... being the charming, gorgeous gay man that he is... he wanted to wipe his face... and ... since there were no clean napkins in the car, I gave him my pink sweater for him to use. This repeated itself a few times... so now, whenever he starts to drink or feels nauseous for any reason, I encourage him by saying, "don't worry, I've got the pink sweater".

Maybe it's funnier to us. There's another story about him wearing my lipstick but that's not really appropriate for my vast readership.

And Dewayna... who I call Tay... she and I are a regular Abbott and Costello. If you ever catch a thread under one of my facebook statuses... do yourself a favor and follow it all the way through. We're just very, very funny together and have been since we were very young.

My brothers... all extremely witty fellows. My sister-in-law Angie has learned the family humor and we crack each other up at times. Sarabeth, my sweet little bright niece... she's catching on too. We'll make a comic out of her before she hits puberty. My boys... all pretty funny kids. My dad... he's mostly cheesy... here's a typical "Pop" joke: (you're pulling out of a driveway or street or whatever and you ask him: Is anything coming?") pop says "There aint nothing comin' but an ole greyhound..... (long pause for effect)... bus" Yep. That's Pop. Although we do crack each other up on the phone quite a bit.

My humor does tend to play off human nature and be a bit self-deprecating but that's ok. If you can laugh at yourself, you'll never be sad.

The point of this comedy review was because I went back to the pain doctor yesterday. This time I saw the guy who is the head of the practice and he spent a long time (over half an hour) with me answering my questions and developing a long term plan. My two main questions were: what is my "official" diagnosis and will I ever get better? The diagnosis... after all this poking, prodding and nuking is basically the same as it was four months ago: degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, bulging/herniated discs, osteoarthritis, sciatica, nerve damage to the lower legs.

They have not ruled out fibromyalgia 100% but Dr. Givogre agrees with Dr. Loomis that my fatigue may be related to the tachycardia more than fibromyalgia. Dr G also said something that I found encouraging... he will not give me a fibromyalgia diagnosis until/unless he exhausts every other possibility because fibromyalgia tends to be such a "cop out" diagnosis. He said, "once someone is diagnosed with fibro, doctors stop taking any of their symptoms seriously and can overlook legitimate problems by misdiagnosis".

Dr G doesn't want to change much about my treatment until we finish the cardiac work up and figure out why I'm having the episodes of tachycardia. My pulse when I first got back to the exam room yesterday was 120. Dr. G agrees with my regular physician that these episodes are not anxiety related because I had an extremely high heart rate while completely sedated. So... until the cardiac issues are addressed - and I have an appointment for Friday morning to get my event monitor - he doesn't want me to do any physical activity or change medications. He gave me certain symptoms to watch for and... I'm as anxious about that as I was waiting to go into labor... feeling like a watched pot. At any rate... there's a possibility that injections in a different part of my spine might help... we're trying a new external pain patch... we doubled one medication and... that's it.

The answer to the second question was... no. I will probably not get better. And seriously... that's one of those life changing moments for me... realizing that my quality of life is forever impacted.

SOOooo... instead of falling apart... I had to go back to work because we were shorthanded and busy and because I need the money. I got in my HOT car, turned on the a/c and the Rush Limbaugh show and laughed the whole way back to work about "the chickification of America" and (forgive me) how important it is to not be a peter tweeter. I laughed myself dizzy. You can go to www.rushlimbaugh.com and read his transcripts from yesterday. Or any day. I know he's way far to the right and ... a lot of you aren't... but it's still an interesting read most days.

And, because God is just so awesome, throughout the rest of the day I found things to giggle about.... some I could share with you and some, not so much but the thing that made me laugh the hardest was imagining the Saturday Night Live "Wayne's World" skit being remade as "Duane's World" with my boss as he might have looked in the 80's... with all of us in the agency similarly outfitted. I know. I know. It's goofy. But it got me through the day. Thank God for my ability to laugh... even if it's only funny to me.

Anyways... Happy Flag Day y'all... Happy Birthday Army... love and hugs and LAUGHS to all of you - as Rush would say, "across the fruited plain".

Sunday, June 12, 2011

a legacy of love

After the recent reunion with my mama's family - the Penningtons - I have connected with a few of my Pennington cousins. We are a large and diverse family, as I've mentioned before, and our ancestors were Godly - yet colorful people.


When my grandmother, Virginia "Flossie" Pennington passed away in May 1998, I asked if I could have one of her bibles. There is a treasure of sayings and quotes and thoughts jotted down on little pieces of paper in that old bible... I think I've shared them before with you.... One of my cousins, Donald, who is the son of my mom's brother David, was interested in the notes and so I am partly transcribing for him... but also because I love the simple wisdom she shares and I hope you find a nugget or two to carry you today. (this is only about 1/4 of the notes... will post more later)

It is not good to fuss at people who are lost but help turn them toward God.
The most effective means of evangelism is one persons inviting another person to Christ.
A missionary is not necessarily one who crosses the sea but one who sees the cross.
Day by day we gather the harvest of yesterday and we are sowing for the harvest of the future.
It has been said that what we do in an emergency is the result of what we have been doing and thinking in the days before.
But by the grace of God, I am what I am.
As we cut ourselves off from God by sin we wither away.
Suffering accepted & used my prove to be the best fruit of your life.
God's grace does not always explain nor remove the thorn but it is always sufficient to overcome.
In our judgments of other people we ought to wait until we hear their side.
Every life is determined by decisions. We need God's strength and guidance in making decisions.
If we make our decision in God's presence we have wisdom and insight that we would not have otherwise.
A good counselor: ask the person to relax their hands. ask what is their problem. Listen to them. Ask the question, "what do you think you should do about it" Listen. That is the only thing you do . They settle it.
There is great power when we make our decisions in God's presence.
No person is ever defeated until he thinks he is.
Christians have tremendous power if we use it.
No person really begins to live until he begins to live for God and others.
Practice the presence of God.
The New Testament only records one time when Jesus was in a hurry.
Jesus was never too busy when somebody needed his help.
He who cannot let go cannot hang on.
The Christian faith is putting my life in God's hands.
Prayer is committing my will to God's will.
When God's power begins to flow through a human life, wonderful and marvelous things can be accomplished.
It is wonderful what God can do with a person who is a clear channel.
If I am in God's hands, He can use me.
The church is the body of Christ, the instrument through which he lives and works in the world.
My church is my spiritual home. I am nourished by it. I am committed to it's life and work. I am grieved for it's failures and pray for it.
What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear.
Your best friend is he who brings out the best that is within you. Jesus has a way of bringing out our best.

Today I have an appointment with the pain doctor. Holly is on vacation this week and Mondays are always crazy so I will have to rush down to Gainesville, hope the doctor is on schedule and rush back. No lunch for me today. I'm packing a sandwich so I can eat while driving. Pray that the doctor has better suggestions for pain control. Last night I literally lay in bed whimpering. So glad I'm single so nobody has to put up with that!

Yesterday I was able to talk to my brother David. It's been several years since I heard his voice and I've gotta tell you, we were both in tears. We are a large and diverse family but I love each and every family member with a deep, passionate, desperate, unconditional love that defies the logic of this world. My brothers are my lifelong friends and companions. My cousins are my treasures. My aunts and uncles are my connection with my family history and the examples of how to live. My elders - the Steel Magnolias - are my reminder of the strength that lies within me. My children, nieces and nephews are our legacy and my reason to live. And my parents... they're my rock, my anchor, my safety net... I am so blessed to be part of this amazing army of people who help define who help define who I am.

I'm out of time this morning... busy day ahead... I ask for your prayer for me and for my family. God has opened the door to reconciliation for some of us and I pray that it will come to pass.

Hope you have a beautiful, blessed Monday!


life with Stubby, the 3 legged Wondercat

My extended nest time can get kind of lonely since I don't feel like going out much... and even when I do, there's not really anyone to hang out with. I am slowly morphing into that "crazy cat lady"... although I currently only have one cat. I've thought about getting a kitten-- I even looked into getting one from the local animal shelter. The fee is $75, which includes their shots and spaying or neutering. I think Stubby would appreciate the company... and we just enjoyed Bitty soooo much.


Don't get me wrong... Stubby is great company. He greets me every time I walk into a room. Our lovely new living room suite is Stubby's territory. His favorite spot is the big ottoman but he also is known to perch on the little step ladder that serves as my side table beside my nest... if the computer isn't on it. If the computer is on it, he climbs into the nest and acts like a king on his throne. He also has a nice window seat that I set up for him... an old pillow and some stuffed animals on a bookshelf set at *just the right height* for him to gaze into the backyard at "Woosa" (the roosters) and other real and imaginary friends he sees out there. He makes the oddest noises when he's in that window seat. It's almost like E.T. trying to phone home.

He tucks me in at night... as soon as he hears my squeaky bed and notices that the light has gone out... he assumes his guard position beside me and watches me until my eyes close. Once I get still and close my eyes and he thinks I'm asleep, he makes the same little one syllable "mow" and goes on to his other nocturnal pursuits. Whatever they are.

With so much space in our house "unclaimed" - meaning - I fairly always stick to the nest and Austin is either in his indoor nest (his room) or his outdoor nest (the carport). My cozy double bed is always available for him. The living room is also a mostly unused space and so Stubby has a couch, a loveseat, a big overstuffed chair and an ottoman to himself... sometimes, though, oddly, he will set up camp in the middle of the space between mine and Austin's bedroom doors... spread out like a beached whale in the middle of the floor. He's been stepped on enough times that if either one of us gets up and starts walking his way, he lets out a warning "meow".

Although... I don't know if this is true of all cats but Stubbs has more of a "mow" and sometimes even "ma"... so I usually refer to him as "mow-mow" (rhymes with cow-cow)...

I'm in no place to judge but Mow-Mow has gotten so fat that he looks like a walrus, minus the tusks. When he eats he SPRAWLS on the floor beside his "num nums"... too lazy to even stand up and eat. He demands fresh water frequently... even if his water bowl is more than half full, he will put up a fuss until I pick it up, pour out all the old water, clean the bowl and then refill it. Once I do... he's full of purrs and appreciation.

His num num bowl has to be full all the time too. If it's not... every time I come into the kitchen he complains. Sometimes I just take the food bag out and shake it over the bowl without really pouring any food out. That's good enough, he says. He just thinks that any time I get num nums, he should get num nums.

And he ALWAYS has to know what my num nums are. He's so nosy about the things I eat that I can't so much as bite my fingernails without him having to sniff at what I'm putting in my mouth. He's got a nose like a bloodhound... I had TOAST for breakfast this morning and he came running to check it out like the smell was as strong as liver and onions. As if. He always *thinks* he wants what I'm eating but if I put my bowl on the floor for him to have scraps... he's rarely interested. He's just nosy, I guess.

He's also figured out that if he nudges the cat food bag when I'm pouring, he'll get more num nums. He's very neat and tidy with his food area... I have caught him several times taking his paws and sweeping the num nums into a neat pile.

I don't know if I've told the story of how Stubby lost his leg... you see... he was born to a cat we had back when we lived in the trailer, right before I met Michael... apparently, during gestation, his umbilical cord got wrapped around his leg so it was all shriveled and useless when he was born. Mama Cat, doing what animals naturally do, rejected him and wouldn't allow him to nurse. Austin took pity on him and forced Mama Cat to accept him, holding him on Mama Cat to nurse. My mom took him to the vet and had the shriveled part of his leg amputated... and he has adapted well.

Of course, if there's anyone in the house that he hasn't met before he'll play the "disabled kitty" card and limp around like a pitiful little lame fella. Toss a treat out and he'll dash across the room faster than the speed of light. He is losing a little bit of his ability to leap up... he struggles sometimes. He's insulted if you give him a hand up.

Despite the fact that Austin saved him at birth... Stubby HATES Austin... if Austin comes near he lets out a squeal like a stuck pig. Austin picks him up and Stubby screams at the top of his lungs... until Austin sits down and starts giving him "yubs" (love). He'll tolerate him then... but when Austin walks away he gets full blown kitty "stank eye". If I pick him up... he's fine. It makes Austin mad but... truly... he's my kitty.

Although Austin is the keeper of the litter box. I can't lift them when they're used. I buy the disposable litter box trays - they're $3 each and come with some litter. We add a little more litter to that ... and that's Stubby's potty. He never has accidents and is very neat and tidy about his business. The good thing about the disposable trays is that you don't have the accumulated ammonia scented clumps stuck in the bottom. We usually set out two trays at a time and switch them out once a week.

I spent yesterday enjoying lots of quality time with Stubby. I had tachycardia and severe dizziness in the morning... it eased up some in the afternoon and it came back with a scary vengeance in the evening. I had tingling in my arms and legs...blurred vision... i was fairly certain I was going to pass out - but I didn't. It came in waves ... every time I'd think that I had better call 9-1-1 (since I was alone with the cat and he's declawed so he can't dial a cellphone) it would ease up. The last thing in the world I want to do is call 911 and have all that expense and drama... and then by the time they get here the tachycardic event has passed. It was definitely exhausting though... I slept really well and I don't think I had any trouble during the night. This morning my heart rate is up but it's not racing. I'm a little dizzy but I don't feel like I did yesterday. I have a little more energy...

BUT my BACK is killing me. I can point to the exact spot where the discs are bulging... I woke up with my back hurting worse than it usually does at the end of a work day. So ... I'm being still because of the dizziness... being still because of the back pain... and I thank God that I've got about 23 hours more to rest before I have to leave the house.

So anyways... that's what's happening for Stubby and me today. I'm going to put a roast in the crockpot and just enjoy a quiet day. Love and hugs, y'all.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

if it ain't one thing... it's another...

I updated facebook yesterday but never came back here to update, mostly because I had a blinding headache and just couldn't string words together intelligently.


The doctors visit was productive. I didn't get to see my regular gal... saw another doctor in the practice that I had not ever seen, which, in a way was good because she had to take a little extra time to review things.

My blood pressure was 157/97 and my heart rate was in the tachycardic range again/still. When the doctor came into the room I was almost asleep... I'm that dizzy/tired and have been for... I don't know how long. I know I've been telling y'all for awhile that I'm exhausted.

The concern is that I'm on a beta blocker and have been for... I guess about two months now... and instead of my blood pressure and heart rate regulating, they're staying the same or getting higher. The other concern is that until I had the tachycardic episode in the doctors office that day, I had no idea that was what was happening. I have had times that I would have considered sort of a surge of adrenaline and/or anxiety but I had no idea that was because my heart rate was high. This has happened... I don't know... for a long time. It's gotten worse in conjunction with the increase of pain, that's for certain... but other than that, I don't really know a rhyme or reason to it. I tend to be calm in the face of what most people would consider stressful situations. there are exceptions - like when Austin was missing that last week of school. But professionally and even in personal situations that most people would consider stressful, I tend to have a sense of peace about me.

I asked the doctor if this was simply anxiety and she indicated that there were no other signs of anxiety... shaking, sweating, etc. The fact that I'm having dizziness, fatigue, and the fact that I'm feeling a really strong pounding pulse in my neck leads her to believe that I'm experiencing supraventricular tachycardia - SVT. This is a problem with the electrical impulses in the heart. If you followed the story of Stellan, McMama's little boy, this is what he had. The way they determine this is to have me wear an "event monitor" for two weeks and record how high my heart rate goes and how often it gets high. If it IS SVT, they will first try to manage it with specific medications and if those aren't successful with a cardiac ablation.

I don't understand why I can't be normal. Seriously. I don't know a way to articulate it better than that but... honestly... it feels like there's always something. I feel so much guilt about the fact that I'm not healthy... and then when I push through and try to tough it out, I feel guilty about not taking care of myself. From the kidney infections that wouldn't go away to the bronchitis and granulomas in my lungs... to the half a dozen different things wrong with my back that hit out of nowhere to the return of the high blood pressure and these durn episodes of a racing heart rate. I'm just sick to death of it all and I know that the people in my life are even sicker of it. People don't ask how I am. And honestly... I don't really volunteer the information because I am so self-conscious about how people will judge me - think I'm exaggerating or a hypochondriac or I don't know. Other than blogging... I keep it all to myself.

I will say this, though, I have been corresponding with a lady from my church who I really don't know well in real life... our paths have crossed but if not for facebook, I would have probably not gotten to know her other than by face and name. She has also been dealing with an avalanche of sorts of medical issues and we had a great "conversation" yesterday about how beautifully God works through these situations. The more isolated I become because of medical issues, the more I rely on the Lord to get me through. I could not get through a single day without Him. I would have long since given up if not for Him. Even the very basic things like a trip to the grocery store have become a reason for me to rely on Him. I have nothing. Literally. I can't depend on money or on my own strength... or on a significant other... everything I have is because of Him.

You wanna know a secret that I think most people miss? NONE of us can depend on those things. Spouses can leave your life for a variety of different reasons, through death or infidelity or whatever... Money, no matter how much you amass, can be taken away from you... and money can't buy happiness or health... And no matter how healthy and strong you are, you are a split second away from something that changes that. I have lost a lot over the past few years... there's a lot of stuff I've never had to start with... but God has never failed me. Never. Not even when I failed Him.

So I look at these things... these light and momentary troubles... and realize how blessed I am to have needed Him so desperately.

Anyways... back to the SVT... I have to go to the heart center in Gainesville to get set up with the event monitor. The hope was that we could do that yesterday but they couldn't fit me in. Truth be told, I couldn't have driven down there yesterday even if they had been able to schedule me that quickly. I have to go to the pain doctor on Monday and I would love to combine the visit to the heart center with that trip down to civilization... but in the meantime I'm supposed to avoid all caffeine except for my morning cup... not supposed to take any over the counter cold meds or cough meds... rest... avoid exertion and overheating... and go to the ER if things intensify.

So that's what I'm doing. I went to the grocery store before 7am to beat the heat outside. I'm tucked in the nest for the weekend... enjoying my revitalized laptop and watching the trial. Hope you're all safe, happy, healthy and enjoying your weekend! Love and hugs!


Friday, June 10, 2011

a little bit more

I touched base with the nurse at my doctors office this morning and she wanted me to go to the ER... I don't want to. She agreed to let me come in for an EKG and let the doctor decide if I need further/additional/more urgent medical care. I'm leaving here in about ten minutes for that appointment.


If I get an "all clear" I need to go in to the office as my co-worker is taking some time off this afternoon, much needed time off, and I don't want to create a burden on my co-workers. We'll be shorthanded all next week as well - again, for much deserved time off and I want to be ten feet tall and bullet proof and able to do all the things that I am obligated to do.

I went and picked up the civil papers... it's from a Capital One credit card I had a $500 balance on when I left Jacksonville.... with fees and interest they want me to pay about 4 times that so I quit dealing with them. I know, stupid. You can't put these guys on "ignore". I have 30 days to make a response to their demands. I will.

The phrase "blood from a turnip" comes to mind.

I'll update facebook when I get a chance. Hopefully I'm going to get an "all clear" ... be told I'm a hypochondriac and head in to work.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

i make a difference... i bet you do too...

What is UP with the anchor babes on CNN that have to screech at the camera? (Nancy Grace, Jane Velez-Mitchell)

I love how bi-polar Nancy Grace is... she'll be screaming "unleash the lawyers" and in the next breath she goes into her soft, sympathetic voice, "thank you, friend"... cracks me up. I wish I could imitate her. I do it for the cat but he is unimpressed.
And seriously, can't CNN get someone more articulate than Vinnie Politan? Who, don't get me wrong, seems to be a nice enough fellow but geez... he gets so tongue tied that he makes me a nervous wreck.
Yesterday instead of saying, "thank you for the call" he said, "thank you for the skull" while they were discussing the photos of Kaylee's remains.
I am crazy about Judge Belvin Perry, though. He does this thing where he purses his lips when he's thinking... and it reminds me of Bear. He always did that... sort of like an unintentional pucker.
Btw, Casey, if I saw my baby's skull in the woods, I'd get sick too.

Change of subject. It bothers me to see all these "medicare will pay for it" commercials for medical products and services. Hoveround.

My dizziness is lingering. Frustrating. Had a few nose bleeds this week. The lovely tachycardia. I'm not well. At least that's what Google says. I really honestly just don't feel well. I don't feel like I can get a good breath. I'm sick to my stomach. And I'm too stubborn to go sit in an ER and wait for them to figure out what's wrong.

I go back to the pain doctor on Monday so I'll have another reliable blood pressure reading soon.

I've got to tell you... five months of relentless back pain... it's getting to me. Not in a "goodbye cruel world" kind of way... but in a "curl up in a ball and wait for the men in white coats" kind of way. I'm just weary. Everything takes so much effort. I know my co-workers look at me as a part-timer and I'm trying so hard not to be... there have been several times this past week where I've almost said, "somebody call 9-1-1" because I felt like I was going to pass out. I just sit quietly and let it pass.

Oh, one more thing about Vinnie Politan... he's a Jersey boy and although I'm not a fan of *most* Jersey girls ... except a few... :waves to Jeanne and Diane:.... I am partial to Jersey boys. :waves to Dean:
I survived infidelity (not my own) with a Jersey boy and he will always hold a special place in my heart.

I got notice yesterday - a little business card on my door - that the Sheriff's office has civil papers waiting for me. Since I'm already divorced, I know it can't be that. I imagine it's some creditor that I haven't paid fast enough.

Not to be Debbie Downer or anything but ... it feels like the good kids are the ones who get penalized. I could have easily given up and become a burden to society when Michael and I split up. I could have stayed in the nut house... gotten a diagnosis that would have allowed me to go on disability... given up on raising my kid... gone on medicaid... but I didn't. I found a home and a job and kept going boldly - if blindly - forward and have pieced together a life as best I could. Lonely at times... but I've been a responsible, contributing member of society. At least I've tried to be. I've had my lights cut off. My water cut off. My car repossessed. And I've kept on going. I've been in so much pain that I spend my lunch hour begging God for the strength to finish a work day. Austin's dad has paid about half his court ordered amount of support, volunteered no involvement in his kids' life, left me to deal with all the drama and struggle of raising him... and I just keep getting up, day after day, week after week, and pushing through, paying what I can, praying for the rest. I have endured rejection after rejection from potential suitors... and come across others who made me feel like loneliness was a much better choice than hitching my wagon to their rising/falling star.

I'm tired. I'm just plain tired.

So today I'll call the sheriff's office and find out who has filed suit against me and try to figure out a way to beat this too.

I know that God won't give us more than we can handle but I think sometimes He overestimates my ability.

Ok... and here's the other side of the coin.
About two months ago I met with a lady who had lost her husband suddenly and unexpectedly. I helped her adjust her property and casualty policies. I showed her a life policy that would help her family take care of things in the event of her premature death. We talked about her future. We talked about her needs. She left the office - I think - feeling ok about things.
After that meeting I realized that the last name was the same as another client that I had been working with. I emailed her... confirmed the relationship... offered my condolences for her loss and began helping her through a similar evaluation.
Yesterday, while glancing thru a list I get from the post office of people who have moved, I saw this lady's name on the list. I decided to give her a call and see how things were going. I found a note in her computer file from one of my co-workers who had taken a call from a lady in Tennessee who had found this lady's cellphone and apparently, it was in a little phone wallet that included her auto insurance card. The phone number we had on file was for THAT phone and she had already moved so my co-worker didn't know how to reach her.
BUT I DID! I knew the email address of her relative... I sent her a quick email and two minutes later this lady was on the phone SO RELIEVED to be able to retrieve her phone and the other items with it.

I was nauseous. Dizzy. Exhausted. My back felt like someone was pushing a hot poker into my spine. Yet... I made a difference by being able to connect the dots to get this lady's phone back to her. I made a difference.

And that, my friends, is how I keep going on. Knowing that I am uniquely gifted to be able to impact my world. There is nobody else who can do the job that I am purposed to do... and I don't mean necessarily in the business realm. My job is just the platform God has placed me on for this season of time in order to be His hands and feet in that place. It is not just my ministry... it is my destiny.

My new laptop battery and power cord have revolutionized my laptop.
I could use a new battery and power cord for myself! But for now... I'll grab a shower... glam up for another day... give the kitty cat some num nums and yubs... have my usual intercessory prayer time on the way to work... and just rejoice for the things that God is going to use me to do today.
love and hugs, y'all.

lets talk about the weather

It's hot.

I'd rather discuss the weather today than politics.
I'm not in the mood/creative enough to come up with a funny Weiner headline... but I heard a great one yesterday. I won't repost because it's... slightly inappropriate.
Unfortunate.
Yep. It's hot outside.
We'll stick with that.
Massively dizzy yesterday. Room spinning dizzy. The kind of dizzy where you have to be as still as possible and stay as cool as possible to keep from passing out.
But... It's so hot outside. Made me miserable.
Even though our office is sufficiently (excessively) chilled and my lovely nest is a comfy 74 degrees, just the time it takes to go from house to car and car to office and office to car and car to home was enough to set my head in orbit.
I tried calling the doctor about a dozen times and got a busy signal, which they're not supposed to have now that they are in their new "state of the art" building.
If you want to see more about the lovely little country town where I live, check out www.wrwh.com and click on the "newsroom" tab. I think the funniest things are when they post their 911 calls for the month, I mean, a chart showing how they break down... and they separate those calls by "City of Cleveland" and White County. Just fyi, I'm within the city limits... but around here we refer to that as "living in town".
I love living "in town". Wish that would make my kid take advantage of the opportunities for employment less than a mile away from us.
He is in full on "summer indulgent" mode... i.e. begging for money every day.
Ironically... when his dad sent child support this past weekend, he complained about how difficult it was to find the "green dot" money transfer cards that he uses to pay child support.
Yes, I'm sure it was hugely inconvenient to have to go to several stores. I can imagine what an imposition that was to invest an hour or so to the care of your child.
Especially in light of the fact that I lost nearly a full day of pay because I was so distraught that our child was missing that I had to leave work... and of course, I've barely spent any time at all in the past week raising him, feeding him, making sure he had everything he needed - even before any child support came in, stopping off at the market on my lunch hour to pick up groceries for him, carting him around town, dragging my saggy aching bones to work to make sure I could afford rent on a place "in town" so our child could have a stable home and close proximity to his friends... where, if I didn't have the responsibility of raising him, I could live in a smaller/cheaper place.
Yes. I'm sure it's hugely inconvenient to pay child support.
Which makes me sound bitter. Ultimately... I'm the one who is blessed to have had him in my life. Good/bad/ugly... he's my boy, my pride and joy, my treasure. And I'm the one who gets to share his life. Good/bad/ugly.
Have I mentioned how hot and muggy it's been outside for the past two weeks?
So hot that it turns your brains to mush.
Lately I've been in a toast for breakfast / sandwich for lunch / bowl of cereal for dinner rut.
Too many carbs but ... I really don't have much of an appetite... kind of nauseous... so bread kind of works for me.
It's thankful Thursday... so let me rally the positive personality and prepare for a successful day.
I am thankful that I have a job, a car that runs, a kid tucked safely away in the next room, no pending litigation against me, air conditioning everywhere I go, only two more days in this work week... I am thankful for every day that I am able to hang on and tough it out in the office... it doesn't feel good most days but it's a personal victory. We have to be thankful for those personal victories. I'm thankful for these beautiful mountains, my scenic drive to work, life in a small town... and today I am thankful for my brand new laptop battery! Wooohoo!

Make today count, y'all! Love and hugs!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Liar Liar Pants on Fire...

Whatever happened to honesty? Casey Anthony. Anthony Weiner. John Edwards. Just this week, these three are in the news for intentional "misrepresentation of facts". We don't even call a lie, a lie. We use fancy terminology like "misrepresentation" "omission" "exaggeration" ... etc.. but at the end of the day... we've become a generation who doesn't know the truth.

For myself... I tend to err more on the side of "too much information" although I am known for exaggeration for dramatic purposes, not necessarily for the sake of dishonesty. But I guess that's kind of the point... we've blurred the lines so extensively that it's hard to know if we're being tactful or protective or dramatic or ... whatever we consider our deception.

I guess... you have to really think about what the consequences of your lie would be. If a friend asks, "do these jeans make me look fat?" and you say, "NOOo... you look fabulous!" when she look ten feet wide... are you protecting her or causing her false confidence? If someone calls for a co-worker who is in the potty... and you KNOW they're going to be awhile (maybe they took reading material with them...)... and you say, "they stepped away from their desk for a few minutes"... are you being dishonest by not sharing the biological truth of the matter?

I don't always expound entirely on the issues facing Austin and myself to protect him from potential consequences. Is my omission a lie? As a blogger, if I don't completely expound the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, is that a lie? What does it hurt you to NOT know every dirty little detail of my life? Do I have that obligation that because I share part of the story, that I have to tell the whole story? Do you owe ANYONE the whole story?

I think about the lack of intimacy in my marriage with Michael... and I don't mean the physical stuff... I mean just knowing about the details of the struggles he was facing financially and professionally. Even if none of the other stuff had happened... it was completely impossible for us to be one because he withheld so much of himself from me. And conversely... my friends and family were unable to console me and comfort me in my disappointments and fears because I was - partially by my own pride and partially because of Michael's - not sharing the truth behind what was going on.

For me... personally and professionally... I try to be as transparent as possible with MY truth. In as much as I can discuss things without compromising someone else... I will be open and honest. I believe that it's thru my vulnerability that I am best able to minister to others. Yet, I will also tell you that the deeper something hits me, the less likely I am to talk/blog about it. My problem is that I forget stuff... and so it's easier to just be honest then try to juggle lies.

I've had friends who were notoriously dishonest in all walks of their life. One thing you can pretty much take as gospel: if you have a friend who will lie to a creditor about why they didn't pay their bill, they will lie to you about why they can't go to dinner with you. Dishonesty is a cancer. It spreads throughout your life. If you get away with one lie... you're more apt to lie again and again.

I have enjoyed raising a child with Aspergers because ... for the most part... Austin doesn't have the filter that most people have intuitively that cautions them not to share every thought that crosses their mind. His honest view of the world and his honesty with me about the things that happen in his life is refreshing. He is, however, extremely intelligent and he has learned by trial and error and life experience, which things he has to hide to protect his own hide.

Do you make honesty YOUR policy? How important is transparency in your relationships?

Time to glam and dash, honestly... love and hugs!