Monday, September 29, 2014

Grief, Guilt and Parenting

I can honestly say that there is nothing in this world I love more than being a parent.....most of the time. In fact, next to being a writer, being a parent was the only other thing I ever wanted to be growing up. I always saw myself as a mom, writer or not. However, I learned early on and am still learning to this day......parenting is a lot easier in theory than in acutality.

As a kid growing up and being one of only two children, I was always very envious of the kids that came from big families. I had a lot to be envious of as in my town, five kids in a family was considered small and anything below that....well your parents just weren't trying hard enough. I always imagined and dreamed that I would have a very large family with lots of commotion and chaos. Eventually through marriage and a yours, mine and ours scenario, I got my five kids and all the chaos and commotion I could ever dream of. Back in the day, in our little 3 bedroom, 1 bath, 900 sq. ft. home with the older four kids, I considered my life amazing. We fought for space, bathroom time and of course, the kids just fought to fight, but in the strangest of ways, it was the absolute happiest time in my life. Then it all changed.

In 2001, the happiness turned to grief and my parenting changed forever, Suddenly I was doing it all alone. The oldest was married, the next one was living back in MO with his mother ready to graduate high school and it was just the youngest three and myself. We now had a bigger place with room to spread out and the chaos and commotion were slowed to the more and more often angry outburst of teenage grief and defiance at an unexpected and unthinkable turn in his life. The dad he had loved, relied on and basically begun to emulate was  snatched from his life and all he was left with Harsh? Yes, but at the time......that is how we both felt.

A strong parent would have taken this life change by the horns and established dominance, guidance and security for the kids from the get go. I however, was anything but strong. I was reeling from my own loss and trying to comprehend and process the fact that everything I had known and dreamed of, was gone. My world was inside out and I knew that if I wasn't capable of processing all of this at my age, these kids.....especially the teenager.....had to be spiraling out of control. I learned that he was not alone, for back in MO, a similar situation was also occurring. This loss was more than any of us could take and we were all losing ourselves in the grief.

I was able to pull myself together enough to realize that like it or not, I was the parent, albeit the only parent, and I couldn't emotionally or physically jump ship. I owed it to these kids to give them the best life I was capable of giving them, I just had no idea how that life would look. So I pulled myself up by the bootstraps and muddled my way through unpaid bills and no insurance or means of support, a special needs child with no handbook, a traumatized five year old who had been alone with his dad as he died and after he died for several hours and a teenager who lost a part of himself as he lost his dad. Had we all been characters in a story, I could have made this a learning experience where each character grew because of the tragedy and in the end there would have been a happy ending, but we were not story characters. We were flesh and blood and quite honestly all I could manage to do was get through the days sometimes just hanging on minute by minute.

As a parent, when something bad or damaging to the family happens, it is instinct to want to protect the kids. We parents also take on a lot of guilt over these situations whether the damage is our fault or not. In this particular situation, the fault was not mine, but the guilt over these kids being in pain and me being helpless to fix the cause of their pain was all mine. I wanted to make everything okay for everyone and so I began to bend over backwards being way to permissive and way too giving of all the wrong things. I was trying to fill an emotional hole with all the non-emotional things and the result was long and lasting disaster.

You know, I watch Dr. Phil sometimes and I see the programs where the "good kids go bad" and I watch Dr. Phil just go after the parents for all of their bad parenting choices. Yeah, there are those parents who choose drugs and alcohol over their kids and when he goes after them I find myself cheering him on, but then there are the others. There are those parents who fail their kids not because they are bad people or they don't love their kids, but because life throws curve balls and these kids don't come with hand books or contingency plans for when life gets muddy. We as parents are human and most of us don't wake up every day thinking of ourselves or how we can make our kids life miserable. On the contrary, most of us wake up every day with the idea that we are going to be the best parent we can be. Our parenting decisions may not all be stellar, but every decision made is with love and with us trying to make the best choices possible....even if there is no obvious good choice to make. I think sometimes Dr. Phil forgets that. Parenting is on a learning curve for most of us and not all choices are cut and dry.

My choices and how I raised my kids changed dramatically after July 2, 2001. I was neither the same person nor the same parent after that and my kids were not the same kids. In that one day, the four older kids aged years. It was the aging that only grief and trauma can cause. I had a five year old who lost his innocence of childhood and a 15 year old who completely lost his way. I was raising these kids in my own grief and guilt and trying to figure out where to go from there.

In the years that followed, I lost and gained control so many times. My kids became my world and all I had left and so my heart was soft for them. Add to that, the fact that they were boys and I was mush. It was not good parenting and too much was excused. When I did come down hard, there was rebellion and with no family support to back me up, mutiny was attempted on more than one occasion. I spent a lot of years trying to hold my own against the simmering rage that became the life force of these boys who not only lost their dad, but also their way.

Quite honestly, there were many days that I felt like I as not enough. I was not enough of a person or a parent for these kids and I know there were times when they wished that I was not the parent who had survived. It made me wonder too. If Tim was here and I was not, would things be vastly different? Would these boys be better off? Perhaps the fact that Tim was a man and therefore far more dominant than myself.....maybe that would have made a difference in their lives. Maybe though, the loss and the grief would have still been there for all of them. Maybe the anger and the testosterone would have erupted in negative ways. Who knows and wondering about the "what ifs" is futile.

If I were on Dr. Phil, I am sure I would receive the tongue lashing of all tongue lashings and in the end we would establish on national TV what I already know in the quietest places of my is my fault. I gave in and let guilt guide me instead of standing firm. I said yes, when no was the answer. I yelled when anger and frustration were all that I felt and I taught my kids which buttons to push to manipulate me. My boundaries were vague and my choices though made out of honest effort and hindsight were at times....questionable. If I was given a grade card for parenting, my graduation might be at risk. However......

Through all my failings as a parent, I have never not been there for my kids. I have always looked on my children as a gift and I have fought like a protective mother lioness for each and every one of them. My children have always known that no matter what they did, they could come to me. I have yet to disown any of them and when things are darkest, they do still find their way back to me. I have always listened to my kids. It didn't matter whether it was about their day, things that bothered them or the person they had a crush on. I have fought for these kids and I have also made them take responsibility for their actions. I have done my best to teach them how to clean a house, do laundry and cook. Some excelled more than others on these fronts. I have also tried to teach them how to love, have compassion, empathy and respect.....and some days have been better than others.

So this weekend was a mixed bag of parenting blessings. One kid went off. Anger, frustration and growing pains took the lead for him and my parenting fails were more than evident as I had to wing it, deflect and remember that I have actually had better parenting days. It was hard not to let this child and his emotional storm not define me as a parent or a person. The counter balance to that though, was I got to see my older son succeed. I watched him with his own child and I saw the love, the compassion and his pure joy at being a parent. I wasn't sure if this was because of how I taught him to be as a parent or how I taught him not to be as a parent, but whatever the case, he is a really good parent and for that, I am so proud of him.

The thing though, that tipped the scales this weekend and made it end on a very positive note, was David. Yesterday he celebrated his 14th birthday. The child who was not expected to survive all those years ago, is now a full fledged teen and celebrating his birthday was a joy. I look into his eyes, see his smile and watch him continue to learn, grow and move forward in life and I am thinking that with him, I may just finally be getting the hang of this whole parent thing.

I love my kids....all my kids....the ones I gave birth to and the ones I gained through marriage. There have been times that I was the parent they all deserved and other times, I was simply the parent they got. Bottom line though, I have always given them the best I had to give on any given day. I have always loved them with my whole heart and I have never stopped trying or given up on them as kids or myself as a parent. The circumstances and cards that life has dealt me, were not even on my radar all those years ago when being a parent was my hearts desire. Through it all though, the good, the bad and the unexpected.....the grief, the loss and the pain, I am still here and there are those subtle signs....that I might just have done a few things right!.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Rock On!

Life is running at a crazy crazy speed right now. I am doing more time in my car than I am at home and trying to find the time to do anything in between sleep and running is not easy. The piles of dirty clothes in my laundry room are a testament to my hectic schedule and my lack of motivation in my seldom acquired down time. However, all this drive time does give me time to be in my own head and think. Some call this dangerous.....I call it....creativity in the making!!!! (cue the hand wringing and the sinister laugh....bwhahahahahaha)

So as I was driving David to early morning physical therapy this morning, I was trying to plan in my head what I was going to attempt to accomplish today. Chores were dancing through my sleep deprived head as my playlist played in the background as the musical backdrop for the day. Suddenly, More than a Feeling, by Boston came on and all thoughts of work went out of my brain and straight out the car window. I was in the moment and that moment was 1978! 

In 1978, I was a 9th grader. While the details are a bit foggy, I believe the English classes had library for 30 or 45 minutes per week. Usually it was quietly checking out books, periodicals and magazines and quietly reading for whatever time we had left. However, because we were 9th graders (the seniors of the junior high set) for one month, we were allowed on library day to bring our favorite albums and play them while we book browsed and read. How cool we thought the librarian was that month. I brought nothing because my record collection contained, John Denver, Barry Manilow and about a thousand 45's that my mother would indiscriminately pick up at garage sales. To be fair, I had an amazing although under appreciated selection of music. Everything from Elvis to Smokey, the Byrds, the Turtles and the Monkees. What I wouldn't give for that collection now. But I digress.......

At that time, my music tastes had never been cultivated past my 45's or my mothers old time favorites....the Platters, Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams. I was however, a radio junkie, but at that point in time, most radio was pop and nothing more extreme. If you wanted to hear the Doors, Pink Floyd or even Heart, you had to hit a more alternative or even underground station. I did not really come from an underground family, so my musical education was pretty much stuck back in the 1960's and 1970's pop. That all changed though, in that 1978. As I sat there listening, feeling oddly excited, I heard Boston's.....More than a Feeling and it was love at first listen. For the very first time, and from that moment on, I was outside the musical box that my mother and my 45's had previously created for me. The excitement and the music were no longer contained and now.....there was no turning back.

Over those next few weeks, I was introduced to Styx, Grand Illusion, Kansas, Leftoverture and of course, my beloved Boston. I was lulled into a new world of rock where the music literally took me out of myself and changed how I felt in that moment. I began to see music much differently after that and my taste in bands and singers began to evolve from Cheer up Sleepy Jean to Carry on My Wayward Son. There was something about these bands that made me feel like I was someone else. They transported me and brought me back with their strong rhythms and amazing vocals. I never wanted the music to stop.

Of all the bands though, Boston captured me heart and soul. More than a Feeling, was my go to song. It was my get away from the world and find myself song and many was the time I would hide myself away, turn on my album and just listen. It was a mixture of the words and the music blending together and dare I say, healing my ever maturing mind. It was a trip far more mind expanding to me, than any drug could ever have been and to this day, that song can pull me back to 1978 and make me feel just like I did that very first time hearing it in the library.

To be quite honest, junior high sucked for me. Yeah, for most of us I guess, but for one month in one class in 1978, junior high rocked! Literally! It opened my eyes and my ears and set the stage for me to love other groups such as Aerosmith, Judas Priest and Rush. Yes, all it took was More than a Feeling.....and a little rocker heart was born. A little secret???? That heart still rocks on today!

Happy Monday!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

One of "Those" People

Every town has at least a couple of those people. You know the ones. They quietly stand out and work behind the scenes helping to make their little part of the world a better place. No small town is complete without them. Well Tuesday, my town sadly lost one of those people. I can honestly say without exaggeration, that in some ways, he was one of the greatest men I have ever known. I was not alone in this feeling. In fact, if Facebook comments are any indication, he was one of the greatest men that many in our town had ever known.

Tony Rico and his wife Mary, were well known in our community and especially in our school district. Mary, for as long as I can remember worked in the school cafeterias, and her lunches were legendary. Tony worked around the schools and was always doing amazing things for both the district and the kids, however, Tony's presence in Mulvane started long before his days working at USD 263.

Tony was born and raised in Mulvane and lived here until he did a three year stint in the Army in the Pacific during WWII. Afterwards, in 1947, he came back and married Mary Gonzalez, the love of his life. Together they had six kids, three boys and three girls.

While his kids were growing up, Tony worked on the railroad, served as a law enforcement officer in Mulvane and finally in 1957 he went to work for the Mulvane school district, where he stayed until his retirement. During his time in the district he held many positions including bus driver and resident artist (a non-official title I am sure).  At the time, all of the school buses were numbered and it was difficult for the younger kids to remember or recognize their particular bus numbers, so Tony painted each bus with a different cartoon character. Where kids might have trouble remembering they were on bus 9, they could always remember they were on the Mickey Mouse bus. For years, Mulvane was known to other towns around, as the town with the cartoon character buses and trust me, the kids loved those buses.

Tony was a phenomenal artist and his artistic skills were not just bus worthy. His talent adorned school megaphones, year book covers, murals, prom backdrops, our school mascot and an amazing picture of Iwo Jima that hung for years in the entryway of the old high school.  It was said, that from time to time, Tony would gift a student with one of his works of art. Rumor has it that many of those recipients still cherish those gifts to this day. Aside from the schools, Tony's artwork also found it's way into homes, Mulvane businesses and also St. Michael's church. He was a very talented man and he was wonderful about sharing his God given talent with others. Because of this, his work still lives on today.

After word of Tony's death was made public, someone on FB asked people to post their favorite memory of Tony. As you can imagine, there were many many comments, however, the common memories that seemed to pop up were his amazing artistic skill, his kindness, the passing out of bubble gum to the grade school kids and his love of music.

For many years, he was a fixture at the grade school and was well known by all the kids. I believe he worked as janitor and pretty much a jack of all trades around the old building. All the kids knew Tony and he went out of his way to make each and every child in his building feel special. One thing he was especially known for, was always carrying bubble gum.  A kid considered himself very special if Tony walked up to him on the playground and gave him a piece of bubble gum. It could absolutely make a good afternoon.....a great afternoon! It was these little moments of kindness and generosity that made this man so special to our community.

I am told that Tony was a member of several bands throughout the years, but the one that I remember watching him play in, was The Powder River Band. They played an old country swing style and Tony's most memorable song was "Tiny Bubbles." The band always played at our annual town event, Old Settlers and on occasion, the school kids would be lucky enough to be treated to an in-school performance. This man and his band were something that a small town kid remembers forever. Tony didn't just perform at Old Settlers though. In 1989, he and Mary were chosen as Old Settlers King and Queen. It was a well-deserved honor. Not surprisingly though, this was not the Rico's first town recognition. In 1978, they were chosen as Outstanding Citizens of Mulvane. I can't think of a more fitting title nor a more deserving couple.

While the town adored him, Tony's devotion went beyond the town and schools. He was also very devoted to his church. I was blessed to be able to attend weekly mass with Tony and his wonderful family for many years. In fact, if not for Tony and Mary and a few other families from Mulvane, my church, St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, might not be here today. The story that I remember hearing from Mary many years ago, was that the nearest Catholic church was about 6-10 miles away and these families felt that Mulvane needed it's own Catholic church. They petitioned the diocese to allow a church to be built in Mulvane and after much effort, it was finally okayed, so in 1948, the Rico's and the other families built the original church from the ground up. Once the church was built, Tony, Mary and their kids, were always very active in it. St. Michael's was very special to them and everything they did for the church was done with great love.

I have found, that for every person that remembers Tony, there is a personal story attached. My Tony story is two fold and happened years apart. The first part was about 29 years ago, when I found myself pregnant and unmarried. Back then, it was a much bigger deal socially, than it is now. My mother was humiliated and she felt that it was much better that I "stay in" out of the public eye, which included not going to church while I was showing. Once my son was born though, Mom was fine with me going back to church. I on the other hand was a little nervous as no one had seen me in months and now I was going to church with my newborn. I was pretty sure... people were going to talk! On my first Sunday back, I remember trying to make myself and my son as tiny and unnoticeable as possible as I sat there in the pew and I am sure I looked as nervous as I felt. Suddenly though, I felt a hand on my shoulder and I looked behind me to see Tony. He had the kindest look in his eyes, that I had ever seen. He smiled at me and said, "Welcome Back and God Bless that little one." I immediately teared up and all I could do was smile through the tears. That tiny act of kindness, put my heart at ease and made me feel like I was home. I doubt Tony ever knew what that meant to me, but it truly meant the world.

The second part came 17 years later after I had just lost my mother. To be honest Mom's funeral was a blur to me. I am sure that Tony and Mary were there as they seemed to be at most of the parish funerals but to say definitely.....I can't. However, the following Sunday after Mass as I was walking to my car with the kids in tow and still reeling from losing Mom, Tony and Mary caught up with me. Mary hugged me with tears in her eyes and then Tony took my hand and said, "She is with God and she is happy." Then without another word, they walked away. I almost cried because it was as if he knew what I needed to hear at that moment. Such a random act of kindness that again, meant more to me than I am sure he ever knew.

Yes, Tony was one of those people. He helped to give this town art, music, a church, kindness and the feeling that when you were in his presence, you were with a truly good man. He was a man of great humor and a man of great faith and he lived that faith daily. Someone said that there was just no adjective good enough to describe Tony and I have to say, that I agree. He was a one of a kind man, and Mulvane was very blessed to have him.

Tony died on Tuesday after being ill for some time. Since he had lost his beloved Mary, two years earlier, he had gradually gone down hill. He was 92 and he left behind his 6 kids, 28 grand children, 15 great grand children and he had 2 more on the way.

Tony Rico was never rich and he never had the trappings of what we think of great men having, but everyday, he quietly went about life, loving God, taking care of his family, his church and his town. It simply was who he was and with his kind ways and generous spirit, he made Mulvane and the world.....a much better place to live.

Thank you Tony. RIP

A very special thank you to Ody Rico for permission to use the above photos.

Monday, September 15, 2014


I like.....fall mornings with the windows open and a beautiful breeze darting through my house. The change of seasons has been interesting this year. Much like the change from winter to spring, the change from summer to fall has been a bit bipolar. Our neighbors to the far north of us in Canada are already feeling the cold bite of winter and calling this Snowtember?! Come's not even Halloween yet!

I love the cool crisp mornings. The coolness is beginning to force its way in and causing the gradual turning of the formerly green leaves to brilliant reds, yellow, oranges and even some rather attractive browns. The anticipation of all the fall color, Halloween and the smell of pumpkin, spices and all, makes me want to curl up and read a good book and helps to ease the pain of having to close my long awaited pool. Sigh.....

I have heard and God forbid I should repeat it, that winter is to be a bit of tyrant this year. More snow, more ice, less warmth and less sun and a dare I say.....longer winter. This does not please a girl who likes snow and cold about as much as she likes having a root canal. Have I mentioned I hate root canals? Okay....give me one good snow, a roaring fire, the kids out of school and a bowl of amazing chili and I am good. After that....spring better be just around the corner.

So you can't fight Mother Nature. really can't even argue with her. The best you can do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Today I will enjoy the cool breezes and the gentle changing of the season and continue to hope that Snowtember is a long way off!

Happy Monday! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I Really Think I Did Good Today!

So I was sitting here about to write a rather scathing piece on some recent incidents where both my religion and by extension, myself, were verbally attacked. I was geared up due to the fact that I have a headache and I am not in the best of moods. Suddenly though, one word came to mind which turned both my mood and the direction of my blog, completely around. That word? PRAY!

If your head hurts, you're in a mood and you feel ready to verbally blast the world...pray.

If you are experienced or a just a beginner....pray.

If you are standing up, sitting down, lying back, hitting your knees, taking a walk or in your car....pray.

If you are scared, happy, sad, joyous, lost, lonely, upset or mad....pray.

If you are out of home, out of a marriage or out of a job....pray.

If you need money, friends, family or help....pray.

If you are hurting yourself, hurting others, hurting the world or the world is hurting you....pray.

If you are using, addicted or detoxing....pray.

If you are healthy, sick, struggling, fighting, working, playing or just listening for an answer....pray.

Pray for your kids, your family, your husband, your wife, your parents, your grandparents, your friends and most of all....your enemies.

Pray for our country, our world, our soldiers and our leaders.

Pray for our churches, the faithful, people who have never found faith, people who have lost faith and people who need faith.

Pray for the sick, the dying and the abused.

Pray for those being persecuted for praying and pray for Israel.

Pray for those who are always there, those who show up and those who never leave your side.

Pray for those traveling and those coming home.

Pray for doctors, lawyers, clergy and politicians.

Pray for happiness, health and peace.

Pray for me.

Pray for you.

In other words, no matter who you are, where you live, how much money you make, how poor you are, how sick you are, how great you think you are or how nonredeemable you think you are. God gave you the gift of use it.

It can be as intricate a prayer as a Novena or as simple a prayer as "Please me." You can list your needs, trust Him to know your heart or simply thank Him for your day. All prayers are heard and all prayers are answered. Ask and you shall receive. 

So there you have it. The word for today is PRAY. Do it it later and..... do it often. And after going back and reading this totally unexpected and inspired blog....I just have to say, I really think I did good today!

Happy Sunday everyone!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Using Your Power for Good

So Bayville, OH has become notorious for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that went horribly bad, with a 15 year old autistic boy who thought he was doing something to help others. Instead, bullies used this boy to pull an awful prank. I am sure if you have even caught a glimpse of the news in the last week or so, you know how this turned out. If is the story. It is ugly, sickening and the kids who did this have been caught. I have as yet to hear what their outcomes are, but I am hoping that the punishment fits the crime, or at the very least is something that will stick with them for a long time to come.

Today's blog though is about the aftermath of this story. Upon hearing about this horrible prank and at the time the culprits had not been found, Drew Carey and Jenny McCarthy, both actors with clout and money in Hollywood, offered to put up a reward in hopes that the offenders might be found. It is a common practice in cases where the police are at a stalemate as to who the guilty parties are. We live in a greedy society and the possibility of money for information can make mothers turn on their children and wives turn on their husbands. Sad but true. So both stars offered money for information on who was behind this "prank." Carey is from Ohio and I am sure ashamed that such a story would come from his home state. Perhaps his reasons for doing this were because he wanted to show the world that Ohio was much better than what these little punks had shown it to be. McCarthy's reasons for doing this were much more personal. She herself has an autistic son and I am sure it was not lost on her that there but for the grace of God.....that could have been her son. I totally get that.

Some say the reward for information worked. Others say that the police and the school knew all along who these kids were and that they simply had not made the information public. Whatever the case, they were found. Will they be brought to justice? In this crazy mixed up justice system....who knows? I hope so. So I guess this should be close to the end of the story. All that is left is for some sort of punishment, wrist slap or verbal reprimand to be given......and life goes on....right? 

Apparently not, So there is this online publication called Salon, and one of it's writers was not happy with the way the story was going or perhaps she like some of her fellow writers, needed to make waves in calm waters. Her attempt at making waves was a little piece called.....Vigilante justice on the Internet: Drew Carey and Jenny McCarthy's dumb stunt, by Mary Elizabeth Williams. When I saw the headline, I admit, I was sucked in. After all, we are used to Hollywood types not always using their brains and doing truly dumb things with their celebrity status. It went through my mind, what have they done to make this situation worse? The answer is....nothing. Williams in my opinion, went after them because at the time it was a high profile story and she needed her 5 seconds of fame and to cause a stink.

So on further inspection, Salon is a left leaning magazine, which is fine. I read left and I read right and then I come up with my own conclusions on the truth. It is called thinking for myself. However, after doing some reading in the publication, it appears that Salon and their readers are in my opinion, people who like to rebel rouse and cause discord without real purpose. That is what this piece definitely was. Williams was on a diatribe about the vigilante's of the internet (huh?) and the danger that could be brought about to "innocent" kids with this reward being offered by Carey and McCarthy, and how horrible their act of kindness was. WHAT??? Yes, I had to read it several times for it to truly sink in what Williams was saying. She had more concern and empathy for some imaginary kid (s) that might be mistakenly identified as the culprits of this prank, than she did for the real victim. In fact, she barely mentioned the victim. It was all about the "possible" victims. She spent an entire piece verbally backhanding Carey and McCarthy over contrived nonsense.

It was quite obvious that Williams was likely at a deadline and had no real story to write, so she pulled this one out of her as....errr, the sky. That deadline must have been very close too, because she obviously didn't really think it through or do much research on what was going on with the investigation. No....she just went after the star power involved, doing her best to insight her own vigilante unrest against the two all the while condemning them for their offer of "real" help.

First of all, Williams would not have looked nearly as much like a poop disturber had she mentioned the victim a bit more and shone light on the tragedy of what he went through, instead of how awful it "might" be for some alleged, imaginary, misidentified person. It made her look ridiculous. And do we really want to talk about vigilante justice? Okay, this is going to sound racist, but it is not meant that way. It is meant as an observation of what is currently going on in the world. IF this young autistic boy had been black and this had happened to him, then yes, I have no doubt Reverands Jackson and Sharpton would be perched in Bayville, with media from around the world and there is every possibility Bayville would be in shambles right now. HOWEVER, this is a white boy. No one is going to go vigilante over a white boy....even if a reward is offered for his bullies. That is just the way it is. Another fact is, no one died in this situation. It was a horrible thing that some stupid, callous, teenagers thought would be funny. It was awful, but it was hardly worthy of vigilante justice. It was worthy of the culprits being found and appropriately punished, but an offer of a reward hardly made people (other than maybe the victims family) want to go after these idiots and tar and feather them.  I mean....come on!

So here is my take on this whole thing. Carey and McCarthy both have God given acting talent and that talent has earned them the resources to be able to help in a situation like this. They did what they could to help bring justice.....fair justice to a young man who was not just humiliated and embarrassed thinking he was doing something good for a charity, but humiliated and embarrassed all across the internet. They are not the first to offer money as a reward for information and they certainly didn't try to insight people to go after vigilante justice on behalf of the victim. They tried to help. 

On the other hand, we have a writer, with a God given talent to write. Williams herself could have used her high profile status to help out and bring the culprits out of the woodwork. Sometimes knowing the world is talking about you and stories are being written about what you did, can smoke people out even better than a cash reward. Williams could have done that. She could have written a piece that might have caused these kids or some of their friends to turn them in. But no! Instead she chose to go after the two high profile people that were actually trying to help. That tells me that Williams was neither moved by the original story nor did she care about the victim. She was interested in headlines and trying to make a name for herself by in-sighting imaginary vigilante justice. She was trying to create a problem where none really existed. Unfortunately, by showing more concern for an imaginary individual than for the true victim, she showed her true colors and her transparent end game.

Williams used her First Amendment right to go after a headline and obviously to hopefully insight people for the possibility of a bigger story. I am using my First Amendment right to call BS on both Williams and a publication that is that desperate for a headline!

So today, I say kudos to Carey and McCarthy for reaching out and using their gifts to give back and help out. Yes, there is such a thing as using your power for good. To you though Ms. Williams, I say "Shame on you!" and I don't think that needs further explanation!

Happy Saturday everyone!

Friday, September 12, 2014

I Cross My Heart

One night in October, many years ago, I sat in a smokey bar in a little town not too far from here and watched as my then boyfriend Tim, prepared to sing in the finals of a karaoke contest. I had almost not gone that night because I was really not feeling well, but he and some of our friends who were also attending talked me into going since it was after all.....the finals.

After arriving, I felt much better and watched as the bar filled to standing room only. Tim loved to sing and he loved karaoke and he went every chance he had. This particular contest had gone on for several weeks and tonight would crown the winner. Tim paced and seemed excessively nervous about something that just came naturally to him. Since he had not clued me in on his song choice, I tried to imagine what he might be singing to cinch the win. I figured he would go with something Garth Brooks as that is the type of song he loved and that he did so well.

When Tim's turn came, he walked to the stage without giving me a second glance. Hmph! For this I came out tonight? He had pretty much ignored me all evening. A friend of ours grabbed a video camera to commemorate the night and I stood by not knowing whether to be irritated or to cheer him on. Suddenly the music started and I was surprised to hear George Strait music. Tim sang George at home a lot, but I had never heard him sing it at karaoke. The song was "I Cross My Heart." The moment he began to sing, his eyes locked with mine, so much so, that I almost became uncomfortable as everyone else began to look at me too. Tim was a showman and he could make everyone in the room feel like they were apart of his performance, but that night, it was obvious that his performance was directed at me.

I love George and I dearly love that song. I watched as Tim sang and moved through the crowd, never losing contact with my eyes. I began to feel so strange over the whole thing that I sat down, but for some reason, I couldn't unlock eyes with him either. Finally, as the song was about to come to an end, he came up to me and with all eyes in the room on him and I, he got down on one knee and pulled out a red velvet rose. He then asked me if I would marry him. I was so beyond shocked that I just sat there a moment before answering. When the words finally came, they were "YES! YES! YES!" In the velvet rose, held the most perfect engagement ring. I was the happiest girl in the world. It was fitting that George had a part in that moment.

My mother never really commented on actors or stars much. In fact, Robert Taylor was the only one of star power that I ever really knew made her heart beat faster. That was, until George Strait came along. From the moment he hit the country music charts in the early 1980's, my mom was hooked on that man. I am not sure whether it was his smile, his rugged rancher good looks, his voice or the whole package put together, but she was smitten.

Mom loved George's videos and when the movie Pure Country came out, she was over the moon. She would always say, "If I was just a little bit younger...." When Mom finally broke down and got a desktop computer, the first thing she wanted was a picture of George as her screen saver, and when she retired from the hospital, one of her fellow employees presented her with her very own VHS copy of Pure Country. It showed they really knew my mother's heart. Sadly Mom never got to see George in concert and she only got to watch her copy of the movie a couple of times, but the joy she got from seeing his face and listening to his music, was beyond compare.

So last night I finally broke down and watched George Straits final concert which I had recorded when it first came on a week or so ago. I am a huge George fan and I have even seen him in concert, but for some reason, I had put off watching this concert. It surely wasn't like me. However, five minutes into the concert, I realized why my subconscious had been putting it off. George's music is timeless and every song holds a memory. I immediately went back to that October night when Tim sang that song, George's song....just for me. I remembered all the times we had two stepped to his music and the times Tim had grabbed me in our living room and slow danced me around the room to George's songs. My heart filled clear up to my eyes as the tears began to trickle down my cheek.

Then the song, "I Can Still Make Cheyenne," came on. It was one of my Mom's favorites and for a moment, she was there with me. I could see the smile on her face as she listened to him sing and I could almost hear her say, "If I was just a little bit younger...." Yes, the tears overflowed as George sang and I sat there remembering two people I loved so very much and who I lost just a year and a half apart. So George went on singing and I went on crying and when it was all said and done, I was really glad that I had not put this concert off any longer. It was cleansing as his beautiful voice and amazing songs took me back to places in time that I would not trade for the world.

So to you George Strait, I give you many thanks for all the years of memories that your songs have provided. I thank you for those moments that I hold dear in my heart and for the soundtrack that your music has provided for my life. And truly......I Cross My Heart, that you have in me.....a fan, until the end of time!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Cat's, Crime and Some Other Weird Stuff

So as I was sitting here thinking about all the things that I  currently like and don't like. Once again, I was at an impasse on what to blog about. I am not really overly passionate one way or another about anything today, so........ you guessed it, another like/dislike/hate and maybe more, blog. Sorry! This is what happens when my keel is evened out!

I have learned, much to my surprise, that dare I say....I like cats. not mention this to anyone in my house. It would totally ruin my street cred as a bad ass and it might put the idea into someones head that our current cat needs a friend. Sorry kids....I'm a one cat woman. Others need not apply.

I really dislike having to be super careful about locking my doors. I can barely remember to shut them, so locking them is on a whole other level of things I forget to do. Yes....I do realize it is 2014 and no one is exempt from crime, but come on! I basically live in Mayberry. Apparently though, Mayberry has developed a bit of a seedier side since the days when Barney Fife carried a gun without ammo and Otis the drunk, was the only criminal element around. Yes, it's crap! Time to lock the doors and arm the sling shots. You dog hating cat burglars, I'm putting you on you just go ahead and make my day! after much thought, I have decided that I am okay with long as it doesn't require me to do anything to achieve it. When I actually have to work for that change.....I'm really not much of a fan. So yes, I will change, but no, I won't like it! Happy Marni?!

I love our current warm...not hot, end of summer days and our beautifully cool evenings. It makes for fantastic times around the fire pit drinking and eating s'mores. No! This is not an addiction! I can quit anytime! Honest I can! Sigh....thus the need for the above change! Blah blah blah

I hate the predictions for above average cold and snowfall this year. I hate winter and except for the first snowfall.....I hate snow. I do like fires, s'mores and alcohol, however, it is hard to have that in the middle of snow....and change. But I digress......

I love Diet Mt. Dew!!! It is like an old friend wrapping me in mellow warmth and telling me I just won the lottery. Tis' true. I love the diet Dew just that much. Sadly, after tonight....the Dew and I are once again parting ways. Perhaps this time.....for good! It is with tears in my eyes and great sadness in my heart, that I write this. Others tell me it is for the best. They are dead to me. That being said, I am breaking all ties with diet Dew and hope that in the future, if it sees me in the will simply turn the other way as I walk by. Sniffle...snort.....sigh!

I hate that this is the last/final/never to be seen again season of Sons of Anarchy. I hate to admit it, but it truly is one of my guilty pleasures. I have so few. I think it gets me in touch with my inner biker chick. You know the one. The cute biker chick  with the cool dew rag, beautiful long braided hair and tight little leather jacket, delicately adorning the back of some ruggedly handsome bikers bike. What?'re right. I'm not the Jema....kick your ass, don't cross my ass, I will kill your ass type. On second thought, maybe I should just have my inner biker chick put down. She wasn't doing me much good anyway.

I love the fact that tomorrow night, Sons of Anarchy is back on. Yes, it is a bittersweet love, but love none the less. I also love me some Jax! Yes, I am old enough to be his mother! Don't judge me! Also....don't call or text me between 9 and 10. 'Nuf said!

So there you have likes/dislikes and some other weird stuff, on this glorious Monday morning. Now...aren't you glad you came along for the read?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

What If I Were to Tell You About..........

What if I were to tell you about.....a great movie that I went and saw; that it was amazing and a must see for everyone? Chances are your interest would be piqued. Even if you had already seen the previews for it or heard others speak about it, if I were to dedicate a blog or a portion of a blog to that film, regardless of what you thought you might already know about it, you might actually take the time to go see it. You certainly wouldn't be upset with me or offended that I dedicated a blog to it and in fact, you might even share the blog so others could be informed about said movie. If you do go and see this movie, then by the time you are finished, you have enough real information to make an informed decision on where you stand with the movie. You are no longer basing your idea of the movie on a 45 second preview, or on what you may have heard about it or even on my opinion. You are actually informed about this movie!

What if I were to tell you amazing restaurant that is both economical and has the best food ever? Again, you might be interested enough to try it out. Maybe someone else said they went and the wait staff weren't great or their steak was a little over cooked, but because I am dedicating time and effort in the expression of my might decide to just try it for yourself. In the end, like with the movie, you will have full first hand information to make an educated decision on whether this restaurant is now a family favorite or a never to step into again establishment. When all is said and done, all you have lost is a couple of hours and a few bucks. What you have gained though, is enough real information to make an informed decision.

So what am I getting at? Today in Mass, Father spoke about next week at our church, we would begin having classes teaching about the Church. These classes don't mean you are obligated to join, they are simply information on the Church, it's teachings and practices. Then Father spoke about a study done where people who did join the Church or I assume, any church for that matter, often ended up doing so, because someone simply asked them to come, learn and make a decision for themselves. How simple is that?

Now I am not one to push religion down anyone's throat. I am of the firm belief that a relationship with God is a personal thing, however, if I love God, love my church and both God and my church make my life a better place, then not unlike my appreciation for a good movie or a great dining experience, why not tell people? Perhaps just one person might read this and go to an informative class on the Catholic church. I am sure everyone has their opinion on the Church, but what if you don't have all the information to make an educated decision about it? What if your neighbors "bad experience" growing up Catholic, the media's hype or plain old misinformation aren't the real story? Maybe being a Catholic or even believing in God aren't for you, but can you really make that decision without having all the facts......because maybe you are actually missing something that could turn your life around and make your world a much better place?! Bottom line is, you will never know unless you are informed.

So today I take a page from Father's sermon and I invite you to become informed. If you live in my town, check it out at St. Michael's next Sunday at 9:30 a.m. If you live elsewhere, check out what other churches have to offer in the form of information. You have been asked, so what do you have to lose?

Now.....what if I were to tell you about...... my church and my God? 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Good Men


"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke) This was stated in the late 1700's and to this day, it still stands true. Apathy will surely be our undoing. 

A few years ago, when my mind and interests were heavily into politics, I was a news junkie, closely following every major media outlet along with both local and obscure broadcasts and publications. I read myself into bifocals and would sit up bleary eyed at two in the morning flipping from CNN to FOX to MSNBC watching the headlines and hearing the multitude of takes on all the same stories. Emotionally it took a huge toll on me as there was seldom good news and depending on which channel I was on, the news went from bad to worse to catastrophic. I don't think that it is any great mystery as to why at this point in time that I was also suffering from stress blood pressure. Along with being completely immersed in all things news worthy, I was also blogging a great deal about politics and current events and speaking my mind quite prolifically on social media throwing out my opinions and debating others over theirs. It was pretty safe to say that with all of the other stuff going on in Lisaland, adding in all of this headline making stress, caused me to physically and emotionally idol in a constant state of stress. 

One day I woke up and realized that life was too short for all of this self imposed stress. My opinions, though respectfully expressed, no really......when it comes to politics and opinions of such, I honestly strive to never belittle or degrade someone for a difference of political opinion or party, however, my respectful opinions and views, were only in-sighting those who believed differently to various stages of anger. Full on wars were breaking out both in the comments of my blogs and in the pages of social media. I learned rather quickly that in this self serving, instant gratification world we currently live in, that the First Amendment just pisses people off. There is little room for anyone else's beliefs if they don't coincide with our own. I found myself unfriended and even black balled to a degree by a few, right here in my own little small town utopia. While I like to think of myself as tough as nails, it truly is a facade. It was becoming very personal for some and my opinions, respectful though they were, were fueling a rather dangerous fire. At this point, I had to ask myself two questions....1) Were my blogs and my opinions changing anything? If not then....2) Was expressing myself worth the added stress it was causing me? Sadly I hung my my head, turned off the tv and jumped to the other end of the spectrum and became a media hermit. Apparently I wasn't the only one, because along about the same time, I started seeing others doing the same. Once again social media was full of family pictures, detailed statuses about what we ate for lunch and cute pet memes. The stress was over but just because we were not acknowledging the crumbling of the world, didn't mean it still wasn't happening. 

In more recent times, my blogs have been less and less political with only the occasional soap box editorial slipping through. I post nothing political on social media and although I would much prefer to live in a media blackout world where the worst thing that happens in my life is personal and non-newsworthy,  I do turn on a computer daily and I channel surf on occasion, so I see the headlines from time to time. I am not oblivious to the state of our country or the state of the world. I do still post political from time to time, but I have gone underground to do so. This has come with mixed reviews from those who call themselves my friends on social media and those who read my blogs. My SM friends comments range from "I like your Facebook posts so much better now that your feed is all about (insert whatever fluffy piece of BS you choose)," to "What happened......did you quit caring about this country? Don't you care what our kids are going to have to face after we are gone?" My blog comments and messages are along the same lines. I get a lot of "We like it when your blogs are light and airy and really say nothing," (of course I am paraphrasing here) to, "When are you going to start giving us some real blogs again? I miss your political blogs where you really stand for something." Bottom line, there is just no pleasing a majority of the world. 

So of late I have been paying a bit more attention to the news. The world is in grave danger and our country is no exception. We are no longer viewed as a super power and therefore, we hold little clout in the eyes of our enemies. What was once hate, tempered with both fear and respect from our enemies is now little more than disdain as we have consistently shown the chinks in our armor and made ourselves fair game to those who would like to damage and even kill us. What is worse is that we have shown the world that as a country we choose to fight among ourselves using words like racism and discrimination causing huge divides within our own ranks. A divided country is a weak country and we are the weakest we have ever been since this country was formed. We are also desensitized to the world around us. When the beheading of an American journalist by terrorist is superseded in the news by the death of an 81 year old comedienne, we have lost our compass. No offense to Joan Rivers, I found her bawdy, funny and in some cases dead on with her no holes barred opinions, of her death should not have been headlines on every major media outlet while Steven Sotloff's murder at the hand of our enemies was merely a minor headline rolling past at the bottom of the page. 

Perhaps as a people we are tired. Like me, speaking out, debating and trying to make people think and having it all fall on angry deaf ears, becomes exhausting, so we/me stop. I retreated to a comfortable though fictitious place, where regardless of what was going on in the world, my ears too were deaf, but to what avail? Am I now one of those "good men" that Burke spoke of over two centuries ago? Have we spent so much time arguing among ourselves, finger pointing and denying the facts about what is really going on in the world, that we have lost sight of the obvious realities and are emotionally and psychologically immune to learning that our enemies want us dead and are daily making great strides to that end? Are we just simply sitting back and letting it all happen? 

If the worst does happen.....then what? Who do we blame? Will it be the Republicans? The Democrats? The conservatives? The Liberals? Or will the real blame lie with the good men and women who stood back and did nothing, said nothing and made no waves, thus allowing evil to triumph. I think the answers are pretty clear, if we are paying attention. We are not just letting our country down nor our children and future generations. No, we are letting down everyone who ever fought for this country, suffered for this country and died for this country. Because of us, the men, women and children they gave so much to defend, and because of our apathy and denial, we are coming close to losing it all. So is this how it ends? Do we give up and give in.....laying out the welcome mat and arming our enemies thus bringing on our own demise? Or, do we once again take a stand, unite and take back what is our ours?  In the end, the choice lies......with good men.