Posted in 30 Days of Truth, Post A Day Challenge

Dear Self

(30 Days of Truth – Day 31: Epilogue – Write a letter to yourself)

(Note: When this project began, I knew there would be 3 days near the beginning that I would not be able to post due to the fact that I was on a cruise. When I refer to being able to write for 30 days straight and completing this project, I’m taking this into account and allowing myself this slight falsehood)


Dear Self,

YOU did it!!

Thirty Days of Truth is now behind you and you stuck with it, every day. You went into this project with the determination and fortitude needed to see it through and you DID! Aren’t you proud of yourself? This is a first for you, setting a goal and not once thinking of giving up. It has not been easy for you, and those close to you know that and appreciate the sacrifices you made to keep this promise to yourself. You lost a lot of sleep and cried a million tears this month but it was worth it, wasn’t it?

So, what now? Are you going to continue to write? You’ve said you have no aspirations to be a writer but you like the idea of blogging, of sharing your past, present and future with friends and strangers alike. I think you should. However, I think if you are going to truly find your authentic self, you will need to go deeper. You will need to have conversations with people in your life and tell them what you want…no…need to do and you must get their blessings. Even if you have unresolved feelings and emotions about things from your past, you can’t just go writing about these things without first talking to the people involved. Maybe in asking for their blessing, you could ask for their forgiveness, or better yet, grant them forgiveness in return.

People tell you that starting this blog and challenging your husband to write every day, when you had never written anything more than a letter, was so brave. Even if your motives were partly selfish and you wanted to get some things out, I also know the underlying reason for the challenge was so that the world could experience more of your husband’s words. You took this risk so that he might share more of his talent. And he has and it’s been so wonderful and you’ve gotten so much pleasure out of watching other people read and comment on what he’s had to say.

You want to complete a year of posting every day but you need to take baby-steps. Keep doing the 30 day challenges so that when you complete a milestone at the end of each month, your success just fuels the fire within you to keep pursuing this. You should also let go of the notion that posting pictures and videos aren’t serious posts. This is YOUR blog. You can do whatever you want with it. Besides, you need to be able to lighten up the mood. January got pretty heavy at times and I think the people you want to read and visit your site will appreciate some humor, beauty or silliness on occasion.

If Gil decides to take a break from blogging in February to finish Volume IV of the Lives project, you should fully support that. You have thoroughly enjoyed the daily moments of awareness the two of you have shared when reading each other’s post for the day but he needs this time. He wants to complete the story that is Max and Cate, and you are super excited about seeing that happen. There is no reason you can’t continue to blog every day while he completes what will become a complete novel. I know how proud of him you are and I know how much you want to see his dream become a reality. You know that once he finishes this project, he will see clearly how to forge on and make his dreams come true. Be by his side to offer encouragement and love on every step of his journey.

You have a great opportunity to use the next 28 days to find your direction. I know you want this blog to be a place for people to get to know you better and for you to get to know yourself better. I know you want it to be bigger and ultimately better. You need to realize that will not happen overnight. But I believe it will come for you. My hope for you is that people find your blog and they find inspiration in your words and your experiences. It’s ok to claim your place on the Internet, and don’t ever let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do there. If you want to inspire people, inspire. Do what you want and need to do with this. It’s yours and no one else’s.

Good luck!!!

Sincerely, Self

Posted in 30 Days of Truth, Post A Day Challenge

Mothers and Daughters

(30 Days of Truth – Day 30: Someone in your family that means so much to you)

Today is my mom’s birthday. Guess who I’m going to write about?

If you are a mother or daughter I’m sure you can appreciate what I’m about to say. I love my mom but, damn, it’s hard sometimes. I think since the beginning of time, mothers and daughters have had tumultuous relationships. If you don’t believe me, do a Google search for “mothers and daughters.” The first page of results is filled with links to websites that provide help to improve these relations. There is obviously a demand for this advice.

I suppose I’m fairly lucky in that my mom has never been one of those meddling, “What are you doing” kind of moms. During my teenage years, my mom rarely questioned my wardrobe, makeup or hair choice. She would laugh at me (often deservedly so), but she never questioned or outright criticized me. Now, friends and boyfriends was a different story but she always let me discover the truth on my own, even when she knew it was going to end badly. She was pretty good about letting me do what I was going to do anyway. As I grew up and got older, she might make comments like “You don’t want to do that” but she was never one to be judgmental. I hear stories of girls and their moms and when it comes to meddling, I think I’m pretty lucky to have had my mom.

People have always said that I was the spitting image of my mother. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been approached by strangers and asked, “You’re Patsy’s daughter, aren’t you?” I grew up in the same small town she did so we actually had some of the same teachers for high school. It made it very hard for me to get away with being bad because someone was sure to see me, recognize me and know right away which parents needed to be called.

When I was a teenager, my mom was considered pretty cool by most of my friends. If I was going to skip school, I always told my mom. If I was going to be someplace I shouldn’t have been, I always told my mom. She constantly stressed that I was less likely to get in trouble for things if I just told her what I was doing. There were even a couple of times I had teenage friends move in with us for months at the time because they themselves had difficult relationships with their own moms. My mom was always willing to take care of them and rarely complained or questioned what was going on. I think it’s safe to say that my mom and I were pretty close back then.

The 15 years after I moved out of my parents’ house saw my mother and I drift farther and farther apart. This is not the time or place to detail what exactly happened in our relationship but suffice it to say that we both made decisions and choices that greatly affected each of our lives, both as mother and daughter and as individuals.

In 2005, my mom came to Florida to live with me. A few months later, I moved in with Gil but still stayed with my mom at least one night a week. This got old, and expensive, really fast so Gil and I made the decision to move from our two-bedroom apartment into a larger house and we moved her in with us. At first, I couldn’t believe how willing Gil was to do this, but he was, and we agreed that no matter how difficult it may become, we would make it work. And you know what? It has. It has actually been a much easier situation than any of us ever expected.

Since my mom moved in with us, she and I have been able to reconnect. It’s not always peaches and cream but it’s really nice having her around. She never ever gets in our business or pries into our affairs. She’s always willing to help out by running errands or feeding the cats when we go one our many out of town excursions. She will sometimes prepare dinner or even watch the kids for us. In additional to rebuilding our relationship and getting to know each other again, she’s kind of handy to have around. But seriously, there have been times she’s been extremely helpful and ready to lend a hand to us on a moment’s notice.

Over the past few months I’ve watched as some of my friends have lost their moms. I realize I’m reaching that age when I’ll see and hear more and more of these stories. It’s times like this that I have to sit back and truly appreciate the fact that I have my mom here with me every day. It’s nice to be able to spend a day at the botanical gardens or browsing the local craft stores. We may not have long meaningful conversations on a daily basis but it’s a huge blessing that I have her so near, both physically and emotionally.

Happy Birthday, Mama. I love you and I’m happy that you’re here.

Posted in 30 Days of Truth, About, Post A Day Challenge

About (My Blog)

(30 Days of Truth – Day 29: About, Part II – My Blog)

I began this blog last night and had planned to finish it up today to post before heading over to the east coast to spend time with friends. The day got away from me and I never had a chance to smooth out the roughness or to finish my thoughts. My first instinct was to just abandon this one and save it for another day. But then I took another look at it and decided that even in its incomplete state, it might be worthy of sharing anyway. As I lay here in the guest bedroom of our friends Stacey and Sanjay, typing away on my Galaxy Tab in complete darkness, I’m reflecting on the evening’s discussions and my heart and head are full. I’m bursting at the seams right now with love, inspiration, motivation, and GRATITUDE. It’s because of these feelings I felt the need to go ahead and post my incomplete entry. It’s because I didn’t want to wait another day to say thank you.

I am very blessed that my friends and family stop by on a regular basis at my little internet home. You are always welcome and appreciated here. I cherish each and every one of you. Your positive feedback and constant encouragement is the driving force behind my fingers tapping away on this keyboard tonight and every night.

I’m also constantly surprised by the beautiful and sweet comments left by friends I haven’t yet met. I am blown away at the kindness and support shown to me by strangers. I’m not sure how some of you find me but I want you to know that I’m glad you did. Please never hesitate to reach out to me and say hello. I would love to have a chance to personally welcome you and thank you for reading. On the right side of my Home page, I have links that will take you directly to me via email, Twitter and Facebook. I love the feedback and welcome positive or negative comments at any time.

What I Write About
I began this blog to help me discover my authentic self and I really feel like I’m on my way. The thing is that right now the thoughts I strive to organize are really all over the place. This is evident when you take a look at my Tag Cloud. I write a lot about my husband and God. I’ve touched on family, friends, music and my step-children. I’ve shared my faith, dreams and disappointments. I will be writing more about my cats in the future so consider yourself warned. I guess the best way to sum up what I write about is that I write about those core values that are important to most everyone. I’m still very new at this and as a result, I’m not sure I’m ready to place myself into a certain niche just yet. Check back with me in a few months on this one.

Posted in 30 Days of Truth, About, Me, Post A Day Challenge

About (Me), Part I

(30 Days of Truth – Day 28: About, Part I – Me)

I looked at today’s topic and realized that yesterday’s blog post really covered my biggest dream in life so I’m not going to bore you with more on that subject right now. I’ve got something much more boring to talk about tonight. ME. Okay, I know I’ve pretty much talked only about me for the last 27 days but this one is going to be different. This one is going to be about me and about my blog.  And, you can totally blame Danny Brown for this.  Danny is kind of a big deal in marketing, social media, blogging, philanthropy and a host of other things I’m sure. In addition to his own blog, Danny is also a contributor for one of my favorite sites, For Bloggers, By Bloggers and it was his post today “Why Telling Us About You Helps Promote Your Blog”,  that served as a swift kick in my arse to do what should have been done 27 days ago.

In Danny’s blog today, he says that the About page is “the single most important aspect of your blog when it comes to letting your visitors know who you are, after the content itself.” I’m a very bad little blogger because my About Me page was completely an afterthought. I added it before I went live because every blogger has one and I had to have something. I used the words that Gil and I had developed a long time ago and I didn’t bother to elaborate or expand on that text. I want my readers to want to know me and if my About Me page isn’t enticing you to come back or read further, then why even include it? I want to change that starting right now. I want to enhance my About page to include more about me and about my blog (Part II Coming Soon). And I have a plan to do just that.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, here goes my attempt to describe me.

About Me

I am Lee and I am a girl. There has been some confusion before so I thought I would clear that up right off the bat. Wait…I just realized that didn’t come out right. The confusion is with my name and the fact that it’s spelled in the traditionally masculine spelling and people often think I’m a guy if they haven’t met or talked to me. Everything else about me is all girl and there is no confusing that.

I have been married to Gil Gonzalez since June 13, 2009. I am very lucky in that my sweet and caring husband also happens to be an incredibly talented writer. I live to read the words he writes.

I am step-mother to his beautiful children, Natalie, 11 ,and Daniel, 9. They live with us part time and rarely a day goes by that we don’t see them, even if they sleep most nights at their mom’s house. And yes, we all get along beautifully.

I work for one of the top global defense government contractors in the world. My title is Program Management Specialist but that was mostly made up when I needed something to put on a business card. Basically, I work in business operations in direct support of the program manager on a $1.5B  US Special Operations Command IT contract.  I’m kind of a jack of all trades when it comes to basic business processes so I pretty much fell into this role and it is The.Best.Job.Ever. It’s as if it ws created specifically for me.

I love cats, especially my cats, way more than I should. For your future reference and because I know you are dying to know <don’t roll your eyes at me LOL>, their names are Peppy, Dudley, Boo, Monkey and Vancouver.

I love being crafty but I never make the time to do it. I LOVE LOVE LOVE needlepoint but haven’t picked up a needle in forever. I like sewing, cross-stitch and embroidery but my passion is needlepoint. I miss it so much. I can do other crafty things but only if I have good, solid direction. I’m crafty but not overly creative when it comes to making things. I have also discovered that I can paint if guided by a professional. I’ve only done this successfully three times but I intend to do it much more. I really like the focus I have when painting and I want do it again very soon.

I love social media and I love the interwebz. I love how this pile of pieces and parts and this big cloud in Inter-space brings the world to me every day. I could sit at my computer 18 hours a day and not get tired of it. I love techie, geeky speak and I want to learn everything I can about everything related to this humming box on my desk.

I like to take pictures. I mostly stalk my cats and the insects around my house for that perfect shot. I don’t know the ins and outs of a camera but I get lucky sometimes. I want to take an actual photography class at some point but there are so many things ahead of that on my list of to-do’s that I’m not sure it will ever happen. In the meantime, I’ll just pretend like I know what I’m doing and only share those rare exceptional shots I’m able to capture.

My life would be complete if I could make a comfortable living providing social media solutions and planning fundraising events for charitable organizations.

Now, why don’t you join in the fun? Why don’t we all share and get to know each other better?

If you know me, leave a comment below with one a fact about me that I left out of the list above and one interesting, funny or profound tidbit about yourself.

If you don’t know me, leave a comment below and ask me any question you would like for me to answer about myself and then tell me one interesting fact about yourself.

I really hope you guys play along….this could be really fun.

And, as always, thank you for visiting me here!

Posted in 30 Days of Truth, Post A Day Challenge

Do Epic Shit

(30 Days of Truth – Day 27: What is your vocation (why are you here on earth)?)

Being good is commendable, but only when it is combined with doing good is it useful.  ~Author Unknown

I was put on earth so that I could do epic shit. Don’t laugh. I’m sure this is why I’m here. You’re still laughing, aren’t you? Well, let me explain.

Since I was a very little girl, I’ve had dreams of grandeur much bigger than a little girl should have. I wrote about these hopes in my very first ever blog entry. I always envisioned myself as being extraordinary. However, I haven’t quite done extraordinary yet.  Well, I have but, I haven’t. What I mean is, I have been blessed with the experiences I’ve lived. Now I want to do it, not just live it. I no longer want to be a passive participant in this thing called life. I want to make change happen. I want to affect people’s lives with my heartfelt actions.  And here’s my plan.

I will surround myself with epic people. These people will be ordinary people, just like me, but they will have extraordinary dreams and extraordinary intent. They will have ideas and they will implement those ideas. They will see their dreams come to fruition. And I will be there to witness it, to participate in it, and to take pleasure in the glory of the transformations they initiate. I will watch faces light up at the mention of their name, and I will hear the tales of the lives they’ve enriched.  I will observe these people and I will learn from them. I will shout their messages of love and gratitude for the world to hear. I will savor every second I can in their presence and I will soak up their creative genius.

I will take epic action. I will not spew empty promises of doing deeds I have no intention of doing. I will not stretch the truth about those things I am capable of doing. I will satisfy needs where there are needs. I will sweat and stress and I will lose sleep. I will put my heart and soul into my actions and I will provide strength when others are weak.  I will stand in the shadows and quietly guide the warriors of good. I will, without hesitation, brazenly follow my epic leaders into battle. I will accept offers of help when those offers are sincere, and even when they aren’t. I will take care of myself both physically and mentally so that I can give 100% when the call for action comes.

During this past year, the call did come and I experienced a feeling of appreciation unlike any I had felt before. It was a moment in which all of the sleepless nights and hours of dedicated focus culminated in a single magical moment. I watched the presentation of a check to a man whose only mission in life is to help other people. That check was made possible by the hard work of a team of people who came together for the sole purpose of making a difference.  To watch men and women cry tears of gratitude made my heart so big I thought it would burst. Hours of time and tons of energy were devoted to make someone else’s dreams possible. It was a life changing event for me.

Who needs drugs or alcohol when you can experience the high of changing someone’s life?

Now I want more. Like a drug, I want more and more and more. I feel that my desire to help others in even the smallest of ways is going to be my life’s work. I can’t find the words to sufficiently express the love and satisfaction that fills the heart when you show others, through your actions, that they matter. I want to position myself within the local and global community to make life better for just one person. If I can do that, I will have done the epic shit of which dreams are made.

Okay, Universe, there is its. I’ve put it out there for you. Now let’s see what we can do to make it happen.

Posted in 30 Days of Truth, Post A Day Challenge

It’s Too Soon

(30 Days of Truth –Day 25: Discuss something you planned that ended up not being what you expected.

After writing yesterday about two of our failed attempts to watch a space shuttle launch, I thought it would be quite appropriate to finish up that story with tonight’s topic. I’m going to give a little more background and fill in a couple of missing pieces from yesterday. I’m afraid that I may scare you a little bit with the level of crazy that goes on in my head sometimes. I can’t control it but, if I’m on a mission to get in touch with my authentic self, then I feel a need to be completely open and honest here.

Gil and I first tried to catch a shuttle launch with his children on July 14, 2005. The mission was STS-114 and this was the first scheduled mission in over two years and it was the first after the loss of Columbia and her crew in February, 2003. The mission was scrubbed when we were under an hour from launch time. We were disappointed but not overly upset. There would be many more opportunities to see other launches. We live 2 hours away so this was no big deal. That mission finally took off on July 26, 2005 and successfully returned to planet Earth August 9, 2005. I can only imagine what a joyous relief this was to the crew and to the entire space program as a whole.

Our next attempt was one of the most spontaneous impulses we’ve given in to. I remember hearing on the radio that this would be the first night launch in years so I somewhat casually mentioned it to Gil about 5:00 PM on December 8, 2006. I honestly believe that from the first mention until we were in the car and heading west that only about 15 minutes passed. We were on our way to see STS-116 roar its way into the night sky. The trip over was a bit chaotic as we took a wrong turn and ended up traveling pretty far in the opposite direction. Neither of us had a GPS at that time and we were kind of traveling by instinct and limited experience. I would advise against this. We had no idea where we would watch the launch but continued to follow signs to Kennedy Space Center. We found ourselves on a causeway leading to KSC with about two minutes to spare. We had the most wonderful view and could not believe our luck. However, with about 40 seconds to spare, we were greatly disappointed again as someone announced the mission had been scrubbed due to technical issues. The mission did successfully happen two days later on December 9, 2006.

Now, you may be wondering why I’m writing about two relatively spontaneous attempts to see the space shuttle take off when the topic of the day is about something that was planned. This is where the planned part comes in. Everything about our effort to see STS-128 race for space in the wee morning hours of August 25, 2009 was planned. Everything. And it was planned pretty far in advance, too. I remember having conversations with my co-workers about an upcoming night launch and how it was to be the last one before the shuttle program was retired. I followed their advice and registered on the Kennedy Space Center website for notification when tickets to the causeway viewing areas were to go on sale. I don’t remember when we first talked about this but it was weeks ahead of the scheduled launch date.

I received the email notification on August 8, 2009. It said that tickets to the causeway viewing area would go on sale the following day at 9:00 A.M. At 9:03 A.M. the next day, I had secured two spots for Gil and me to witness history. In less than 7 minutes, those tickets were completely sold out. I couldn’t believe my luck. Well, I sort of could. I felt that this was our time, that God had put those tickets there for me because this would be the magic moment Gil and I had been waiting 4 years to experience. I never once doubted that we wouldn’t see this historic mission take off.

The launch was scheduled for 1:36 AM on the morning of August 25, 2009. It would be a long day but nothing was going slow us down. We both worked the morning and headed over to Florida’s Space Coast in the early afternoon. We took our time as there was no rush, we had hours to spare. We arrived without a hitch to the Space Center, parked, grabbed our chairs and headed inside to check things out. To say that I was giddy with excitement and anticipation is a huge understatement. I had waited so long for this and even though we had missed out on this opportunity twice before, I never doubted this was our time. We did some sightseeing around the complex, and although we spent the majority of the evening in line after line,  I never let it get my spirits down, even when the nauseating aroma of body odor coming from others in line became stifling. It came time to board the buses for the short ride to the causeway and I thought for sure I would pee myself from the eagerness and exhilaration I was feeling. Gil and I had opted for the causeway because this spot provides the best view of the launch pad. We would see every second and every cloud of smoke and every fiery blast from the liftoff.

Now, remember how I never had any doubts this shuttle was going to take off and that Gil and I would be there to witness this? Well, even the lightning and rolling thunder in the distance didn’t sway my absolute resolve that this was going to happen. We listened to report after report talk about all the things that needed to happen with the weather before the shuttle would leave the Earth, and I never wavered in my fortitude. This was our time. God had lined everything up for us. It was our destiny. So it was no small surprise to me that with 45 minutes until liftoff, the voice on the intercom announced that the weather was dissipating and it looked like this was a go. Gil did an excellent job of describing our next half hour in a blog he wrote later that day. I invite you visit his blog and read it in its entirety. In the meantime, I’m going to borrow some of his words because he truly captured the emotions that charged the air that night.

It was on. This was going to happen. Lee and I were going to watch a shuttle launch. FINALLY!

The next half hour zoomed by. It was 1:15 in the morning and the energy level along the causeway was palpable. It felt like the last thirty seconds of a close Super Bowl or the bottom of the ninth in a tight World Series game 7, only more electric. There, off in the distance, seven astronauts had been waiting for hours while strapped into their seats, and we were minutes away from watching them take off into the night sky.

The voices on the PA continued with their final system checks as the countdown continued. One voice called out a series of acronyms, followed by another voice with an affirmative and responsive, “Check!” System after system, check after check. “Here we go” I thought. “This is going to be amazing.”


The voice that was supposed to respond with a loud and affirmative confirmation was instead replaced with a very hesitant pause. No one on the ground said a word.

With a sense of painful deliberateness, the responding voice almost quivered as you heard him say, “We really tried to push this as far as we could, but we are no-go for launch.” My heart sank, as did those of the other ten-thousand spectators there. We were so close. So close.

And just like that, the launch of STS-128 for 08/25 was scrubbed, and with it, Lee’s and my hopes of watching a live shuttle launch.

I sat there in complete disbelief (DENIAL). This was some kind of joke. All we needed to do was wait another half hour. The storm would pass and it would be ok. This had to happen. God was going to give this gift to me. He was! I sat there as people packed up their chairs and coolers and cameras. I wondered to myself why they were doing that? Why? In my head, this wasn’t happening. This was my last chance. This was my only chance. I cried and I pouted and I cried some more. Mostly I cried on the inside because I didn’t want Gil to see me. He had told me that we had no contingency plan, that this was our one opportunity. We could not come back the next night or the next or any night. Who knew when they would launch? The whole process is so unpredictable. I knew he said there was no way we could come back, but I held onto my bus pass like my life depended on it. In my head, I covered every possible ‘what if’ scenario that might convince him to bring me back, to share this with me (BARGAINING). There was just no way God wasn’t  going to give this to me. Gil would change his mind. He would see my disappointment and give in. I knew he would. Just like I knew that shuttle was heading for outer space that night, I knew he would want to come back.

But he didn’t change his  mind. We did not return the next night or the next. We missed our chance. It was over and we would never have another opportunity. I felt like someone had killed my cat. I felt like God had betrayed me. I suffered an emotional loss so great that night that I actually went through the stages of grief. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you this was coming). When I got home I sat down at my computer and purged everything NASA. I deleted Facebook, Twitter and emails (ANGER). I was done with this heartbreak. I didn’t want to see it, hear it or feel it ever again. I couldn’t even talk about it the next day at work without tearing up.

Then some of my coworkers attended the launch on August 28. I found myself filled with resentment. I knew I should be happy for them and I told them I was, but I lied. I didn’t want to hear them tell me what it felt like when the engines ignited and how the ground shook. I didn’t want to hear any of it. And don’t even get me started about the Facebook statuses exploding with updates about how spectacular it was. I didn’t want to know. It was like rubbing salt in a festering wound. Yeah, it was that bad.

There have been a few times since that night that people have brought up the subject of watching a launch and I always responded with “it’s too soon”. It was like a bad breakup for me (DEPRESSION). Every mention of the space shuttle was like opening an old wound that even 17 months couldn’t heal. This emotional scar was simply too deep. It would never heal. I had resolved myself to the fact that this year’s old bucket list item was never going to happen. I even thoughtfully and intentionally omitted it from my Wouldn’t It Be Cool If I… list back on Day 13. If I had written that list 20 years ago or 2 years ago, witnessing a shuttle launch would have been at the very top. But never again.

But something changed in me last week. I saw a tweet about the final mission due to launch in June of this year. I tried to ignore it. I pretended like I hadn’t seen it. I just went on about my day, minding my own business. It wasn’t until after I had finished typing w-w-w-.-N-A-S-A-.-g-o-v into my internet address bar that I even realized what I had done. And the next thing I knew, I was reading the details about STS-135. How did this happen? (ACCEPTANCE) When did this happen? When did I stop crying at the memory of that August night? When did I stop feeling angry At Gil? At NASA? At God? I don’t know when but I suddenly realized I wasn’t crazy angry anymore. I found myself checking the calendar and completing the online form for email notification of ticket sales. I am ready, I told myself. It is time.

Gil and I were cuddled up on the couch this past Saturday morning watching TV. I don’t remember what prompted me to ask but I asked him if he had heard about the final launch in June. He said no. I said I wanted to go. He said Ok. I said I’m going to want to buy tickets to the causeway again. He said alright. And just like that, we made a plan. Well, I made the plan but he went along with it. He didn’t resist, he didn’t argue and he didn’t try and fight me on it. He just agreed. It was not what I expected but it was an unexpected gesture of love and understanding and desire to make me happy. I’m not sure if he ever really understood just how much I grieved our missed opportunity that night, but in the time it took him to say OK, he made it all better.

So, wish us luck. Even though I’m pursuing this dream with much more cautious optimism, I can’t help but get all goose pimply thinking about what it’s going to feel like when I can finally cross this one off the list.

Posted in 30 Days of Truth, Post A Day Challenge

When I First Met The Chi’ren

(30 Days of Truth – Day 24: Discuss a spontaneous moment in your life that turned out to be fantastic)

Today I’m supposed to talk about  a spontaneous moment in my life that turned out to be fantastic. This one took a little thought. I racked my brain for moments in the past few years that would qualify and one immediately came to mind. It was one December afternoon in 2006. I had gotten home from work and casually mentioned to Gil that there was going to be a shuttle launch later that night. I think it was about 15 minutes between the time I made that comment and the time we pulled out of our apartment complex heading east as fast as we could. It was CRAZY but we were going to try. However, I remembered how this particular example didn’t turn out to be quite as fantastic as I would have liked. We arrived and found an awesome spot with less than two minutes til launch and then at 40 seconds, the countdown stopped. It was a long drive home that night but we did get to spend some quality drive time together so it wasn’t completely wasted.

This line of thought immediately took me back to another time that we attempted to catch a shuttle launch. This was in July, 2005. I hesitated to write about this one since it wasn’t entirely spontaneous in that we made a plan the night before to go and to take Gil’s kids. This required both of us taking the day off of work and him arranging with his ex-wife for us to take the kids out of school/pre-school for the day. Hence the fact that this was not wholly spontaneous, but it felt like it for us. And, if you’ve ever witnessed, or tried to witness, a shuttle launch, then you know you better be prepared for spontaneous in a moment’s notice. Those crazy things are totally unpredictable.

Besides the fact that we kind of planned this little excursion on a whim, it was very significant because it would be the first time I met Gil’s children. Geez…no pressure there.  I was excited about the launch (seeing one has been at the top of my bucket list for years and years) and super excited and nervous about meeting the loves of his life. We had been casually dating for a few months at this point so I guess this would have been the normal progression in a normal relationship. However, if you read yesterday’s post, you know that we were anything but normal and this led to a higher level of anxiety for me. I always had that thought in the back of my mind that meeting his kids might be a mistake because I didn’t want to cause them any confusion when/if I was no longer in the picture and someone else was. But, those were just the crazy thoughts in my stressed out head. I tend to greatly over think things even if I don’t always say it or show it. And of course, all the worry was for nothing. We picked the kids up that morning at school and Gil introduced me to them as his ‘friend’.  They were like, OK. No big deal. Of course that’s how we were going to play this. Of course.

We stopped by Publix for snacks and headed toward the Space Coast. The conversation in the truck on the way over was light and fun and silly at times. His children were so beautiful and Natalie was so articulate at five years old that even I felt intimidated by her. Daniel, who was three at the time, barely spoke above a whisper but was just totally precious to look at. We started hitting some heavy traffic as we passed through Orlando and actually started getting a little nervous about making it on time. But, as fate would have it, when we were about 20 miles away, and an hour from the scheduled launch time, the mission was scrubbed due to some technical problem. <sad faces all around>

Gil and I looked at each other, determined not to waste our day off and our time together, and we made a quick plan to just head back to Downtown Disney for the day. Even though I was disappointed about the failed shuttle launch, I knew there would be plenty of other opportunities to see some future mission. (HA…little did I know and I think I just found my inspiration for a future blog entry). I immediately became excited about visiting DD because I had never been before.  The kids were excited because, well, it was Disney and what kid doesn’t get excited about Disney.

We made a big ol’ U-turn and back west we went. We got to Disney and walked around and just hung out while I soaked it all in. Gil suggested we rent one of the boats and just float around the little lake for a while.  The kids absolutely loved this. Gil even let Natalie steer the boat in one of the back canals and she was so excited. However, it was shortly after this that we realized the folks at Disney see everything. Everything. We got ‘pulled over’ in our boat by one of the park police (what do you call those guys?) and given a stern warning that we had violated the rule that no children are allowed to drive the boats. Seriously, there had not been anyone near us when she was driving. So take this as a warning….Mickey sees everything!

After the boat ride we grabbed some lunch and then did a little more sightseeing, mostly for my benefit since the kids had been there many times before. They were like my own personal little tour guides. We capped off the day at the Lego store and playground. Gil and I just hung out and chatted while the kids played and built things. This was my first real glimpse into the personalities of the kids I would grow to love so much. There was Natalie, the little motherer (is that a word? No, right?) who watched over her little brother as if it was her job. She still takes care of him and goes out of her way to make sure he’s happy. She rarely makes choices for the two of them without making sure Daniel’s feelings and desires are met. Then we have Daniel, the little thinker. I saw it in him that day. He’s a man of very few words but you can tell there’s some crazy, mad, genius stuff going on in that brain of his. I think he could have spent the entire day constructing stuff with the miscellaneous Lego pieces provided for the kids to play with.

It was a great day, even if we didn’t get to see the space shuttle blast into the wild blue yonder. That day was a wonderful start to what I feel is a great relationship with Gil’s children. I know I certainly fell in love with them a little bit that day. I look back at these pictures and I can’t believe how much they’ve grown. Natalie is now 11 and Daniel is 9 but I still sometimes look at them and see those little round-faced kids from our first meeting. I am very blessed to have them in my life and that day was such a milestone in our relationship.

Posted in 30 Days of Truth, Inspired by Music, Post A Day Challenge

Wrong Turn

(30 Days of Truth – Day 23: Describe a truly spiritual moment in your life)

The really happy man is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour. ~Anonymous

I have to share something before I begin today’s post. It’s funny the way God works sometimes. I have been planning this post for some time now and even alluded to it back on Day 15. Then yesterday’s topic was to discuss a dark/turbulent moment in your life and I just couldn’t bring myself to visit one of those places in my past. But, I knew that today’s post about a spiritual moment would require me to visit one of the darkest times I have ever experienced. I knew the emotions would be running away from me but I wanted to share this story of God’s amazing grace with you. And then in church today, our pastor Paul spoke about the snapshots of regret in our lives. Whew….that one really struck a nerve with me. Even though I have regrets in my life I need to work through, I do not have a single regret about the things that happened that led to this moment in time.

To say that 2005 was the year of my awakening would be a huge understatement. That is the year I officially moved to the Tampa Bay area and it is the year I met Gil. At first, our no strings attached relationship was exactly what I wanted and needed at the time. However, no one can predict what the heart wants and mine was out of control. It was several months into our relationship that I fell in love with him over margaritas at Los Vallarta’s in Temple Terrace. I fought it and denied it for as long as I could but there came a time when the emotions overtook my good senses and I confessed my feelings.

Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. However, there was nothing normal about our relationship. You see, Gil was in love with someone else when I met him. He had sacrificed so much to be with this woman and he was just waiting for her to do the same. He had been honest with me from our first date and at that time, this made him the perfect guy for me. We began to date on a very casual basis but the more we spent time together, the more our feelings grew for each other. Even though he found himself feeling love for me, he was not in love with me. That sentiment was reserved for the woman he was waiting for. And he waited. We grew closer but he pushed me away and he pulled me back in and pushed me away again, not at all unlike what she was doing to him. There came a point in late September of that year that we found ourselves unable to continue the roller coaster we were on together, and I was devastated.

I had been really down and depressed and was sure that all hope was lost for Gil and I to ever have even a friendship. Too many hurtful things had been said and I wasn’t sure either of us could forget and forgive. I spent an insane amount of time literally on my hands and knees asking God to take the pain away or bring him back to me. Whatever God’s plan was, I would be okay, but I needed relief or else I wasn’t sure I could endure it much longer. Unfortunately, it felt to me as if God wasn’t listening, that He was punishing me. I had never felt so alone and so far away from God.

It was during this time that I was asked by a co-worker if I could drive his car from our office in St. Petersburg to his new home in Palmetto. He drove a Miata. HA…of course I would help him out. I headed out one beautiful Saturday morning and grabbed a couple of CD’s on my way out the door. Gil had introduced me to Sister Hazel and I had completely fallen in love with their music. He and I both found meaning and inspiration in so many of the song lyrics. However, during our tumultuous time I was completely unable to listen or even think of them. But something made me grab their CD’s ‘Chasing Daylight’ and ‘Lift’ as I headed out to pick up the convertible for my little adventure.

Given the car was a convertible and it was such a gorgeous autumn day, I took the long way south by heading west toward the beaches. Top down, breeze in my hair, perfect weather, and Sister Hazel on the Bose system. What more could a girl want? It was perfect. And then something amazing happened.

I put Lift in the CD player and there it was…..the hope was back with a vengeance. I was so happy and free all of a sudden. I heard Sister Hazel in a very different and unexpected way. Here is what I heard:

You need a little makeup dear
To cover up all your stains
With another trick right here, yeah
You fool them all once again

You need a little emptiness
Before you know what is real
And take a little taste of wine, yeah
To give yourself half a chance

And when you’re weak of holding on
Release your wayward soul

And with these treasures you have found
The broken pieces of your crown
It’s time to lay your cross on down

(Lay it down)
And with this kingdom you have now
It’s time to lay your cross on down
You better lay it down

You carry in a bright white lie
To cover up all your shame
You’re gonna have to testify
To color in all your claims

And when you’re weak of holding on
Release your wayward soul and
Spend your days not falling down
Before your empty idols

I heard these lyrics, as if for the first time, as my story and my romance with God. And then every song on the CD spoke to me. “World Inside My Head” and then “Hold On” and then “I Will Come Through”. I imagined the lyrics were my prayers to God or God speaking openly to me. I can’t explain why these lyrics affected me so. I’d heard them a hundred times before but I always heard them as if they were my messages to Gil. I had never heard them like this, and I was filled with joy as a result.

When ‘Lift’ was done playing, it was time to switch the CD and I went directly to ‘Chasing Daylight’. WOW, WOW, WOW. What else can I say? Song after song brought me higher and higher. I was at the base of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge when the song “Swan Dive” began to play. This is the song that Gil most often used to describe his feelings for the woman he was in love with so I had never let myself really enjoy that song. That changed for me that day. This song brought me to what I thought would be the highest I could ever be, and it happened, ironically, as I reached the top of that beautiful bridge with the most amazing, breathtaking view of God’s glory. I had never felt so liberated and so loved and so cherished and so pursued as I did in that moment. The song ended and I replayed it over and over again. I think I was on the third playing of the song when I reached for the directions to my friend’s house.

It was at this moment that I realized in my haste to leave earlier that morning, I had left the directions on the front seat of MY car. I had a very basic idea of where I was going but no specific turn by turn directions to get me there. In an attempt to avoid calling and asking for directions again, I tried to find my way on my own. This led to me taking a wrong turn off of the interstate with no ramp to get back on. There was only one direction I could travel and it looked like I was heading that way whether I wanted to or not.

As soon as I turned onto the small, winding two lane road, I was completely overwhelmed. First there were open pastures and falling down barns and trees and suddenly the trees opened up to this beautiful little pond. And then I passed the pond and continued on this winding road. “What lies around the next curve?” Each bend brought a view more spectacular than the one before and by this time I just could not believe what is going on inside my heart and my head and stirring deep down in my soul. The hope was back. The despair I had felt earlier that day was nowhere to be found. The winding road straightened and I think I was shown a glimpse of heaven. The road was long and straight and lined with towering Live Oaks that formed a complete canopy over the road, as if enveloping me and providing protection from the hot bearing sun that was beginning to burn my skin. Small streams of sunlight were shining through but not enough to hurt me. Here I was in a car that wasn’t mine, lost in a place I didn’t know and I felt a euphoria that was almost holy.

I feel like God spoke directly to me first through song and then through the beauty of nature. It was as if he took his hands and covered that road to protect me, just like He has been promising to do since I was born. I was so shaken by this moment that I had to pull over and weep, unlike I’ve ever wept before. I cried tears of joy and ecstasy and bliss. Every tear was a happy tear, no sad tears to be found. How could I have ever doubted Him?

And all of this because of a Wrong Turn.

It, of course, got me to thinking about all the wrong turns I’d made in my life. Some of them I am very much aware of and some have yet to be revealed to me. And then there are the wrong turns I haven’t taken yet. I am sure there will be many more in my life but I will never again assume that a wrong turn will take me to a wrong place. Sometimes, the wrong turn leads to a better way, however winding and dangerous and frightening it may be.

The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark. ~Barbara Hall, Northern Exposure, Rosebud, 1993

After this experience I felt an overwhelming need to share it with Gil. I wrote him a letter later that day and said, “I do not think that the path that led me to you was a wrong turn. There were too many reasons for us to meet that February evening and our friendship is proof of that. I feel that if you had been a wrong turn for me, I would be able to walk away from this, and never look back. Unfortunately, I am always looking back and I see a road that was amazing and scary and breathtaking and devastating, but I don’t regret taking it.” Gil and I experienced many more months of confusion, hurt, anger and even compassion before we finally found our way. I believe our wrong turns were simply diversions to give each of us the time God needed to put our hearts on the same path.

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Posted in 30 Days of Truth, Post A Day Challenge

Monkey Licks

Well, I’ve decided to sort of take a day off. Actually, I’ve taken most of the day to catch up on some blogs that I’ve been reading and loving but haven’t had a chance in over a week to enjoy. I made this a priority, instead of writing my own blog. I feel that it’s important to give as well as receive and I felt a need take some time today to let them know I enjoy their writing and their stories or music in some cases.

I’m totally ditching today’s topic because I just don’t want to remind myself of some dark period in my life.  I prefer to concentrate on the good times.

And speaking of good times, we got a little silly tonight. The following videos are pretty much proof of that.

This first video is of Monkey. She’s demonstrating why we never need to get a pedicure. She has a magic spot on her back, that when rubbed, triggers a need to lick something. In this case, it’s Natalie’s feet. I love how my sweet Boo is begging for attention in the background. He’s so vocal and I love that.

The second video is…well….pretty self explanatory. I didn’t realize I had captured Boo’s purr in this one. Doesn’t it sound like he swallowed a pigeon?

I wasn’t going to post this third video but it’s too funny/gross not too. I had no idea how sensitive the microphone is on my camera. You can actually hear her slurping sounds as she licking her paws. EWWWWWWW. Right?

And, for those of you who have followed Gil’s FB or Twitter updates about Monkey, this is supposedly the cat who’s trying to kill him.  Yeah…she’s looks really menacing perched there on his chest like that. 🙂