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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Middle.................

I have gotten a great "shake of the shoulders" recently. Suddenly, without warning, I look up and my sweet baby boy is fourteen years old. I know, I know, you are a parent and you are shaking your head that you understand.  But no, you don't.  I have spent his life protecting him....and not in the ways I ever imagined.  I have two sons, so I know a bit about what's "typical" and what's not....I don't have a typical relationship with my oldest child.  To quote a very wise woman who once asked me, "How does it feel to be his Dragon Slayer?"  It feels wonderful. It feels daunting.

To start, he was my only child until he was six and half years old. We made quite a pair!  An overly anxious Mother, who never saw herself as a Mother because I had so much Mom baggage I could fill the underbelly of an aircraft!  God didn't see it that way, he paired us up and off we went...growing together. My husband traveled at the time so it was just the two of  us most of the time.  I didn't do so well, right off the bat...some wicked post-partum and a baby who never stopped crying...we had a tough start. Isn't it funny how those skills (or are they feelings) are inside that you never knew you had?  Despite my inadequacies, I still knew him. It surprised me that I had real Mommy radar! I was afraid I wouldn't. I was afraid of so much.  I was, in fact, more than capable of being his Mom, I later learned. We connected in a way that words couldn't describe. It seemed whatever he needed, he would just look me right in the words, just a solid look, "Mom, have you got me?"  Words it turns out were a problem for him as time went on... He didn't talk.  He just didn't. A flash of memory...standing in an elevator in the Bill Wilkerson Center at Vanderbilt..those big blue eyes just staring at me as I cried. I remember thinking, WOW. I could really use an adult right now. I felt so small and ill equipped.  Somehow, we made it together. We survived those Speech visits and testing and testing and more testing. Something was "wrong."   And so began my see-saw thoughts.....Words that I had always used so easily now seemed like enemies...Different, typical, wrong.  Even today, who's story is this to tell...Mine?  His?   I wrestle with that.

I've come to the conclusion that there is absolutely nothing "wrong" with him any more than there is something "wrong" with everyone.  Er'body got something.  Lately, he's been acting very, very typical which brings me great joy and an ache I can't adequately describe.   A shift, a change and off we go again. My grip of protection is getting smaller by the day.  Yesterday, a Beautiful Fall Day...I drove along the back roads of Franklin just listening to him...with this gigantic lump in my throat...He's changing again...taller...different.  He texts people, they text him, he rides a dirt bike! (be still my heart) and although he doesn't tell me things as easily as he once did, he still tells me (for that I am so grateful) and it is still Mom who he comes to when he wants the facts. He worries about his hair, his clothes..This is all new. Now he has that  middle-school "secret" life. Do you remember being 14?  I remember... my first boyfriend, listening to music, daydreaming and having conversations with friends that were so cool my own Mom couldn't possibly understand.   He is at once a  little boy and a young man. 

This morning, years later, that same look..."Mom, have you got me?" 

So maybe you do understand after all...maybe if you are a Mom I misjudged you...maybe these are very, very....typical....feelings of Moms everywhere!

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Hair Raising Tale...

Oh Lord, y'all.  You wouldn't believe it without pictures so I'm gonna have to show you some ugly.  I have a horrifying hair story to tell you.  I am STILL searching for some joy in the story so maybe telling it to you will help me a bit.

So you know I am a southern girl and you know I love big hair.  I love big hair to the center of my soul!  My sweet Mammaw owned a Beauty Shop and I was raised around the wonderful smell of chemicals....Perms and Dippity Do and Adorn Hair Spray take me back to my youth!  Mammaw's Beauty Shop was a thing to behold. It seemed to always be busy. You could open the door (and I can just hear that bell) and a cloud of chemicals and cigarette smoke would come rolling out.  Now before you get the wrong impression about Mammaw, she was certainly not a smoker...she was a Church Of Christ Preacher's wife. There weren't any women of ill repute frequenting her salon.  They just happened to love Jesus and smoke them some cigarettes too! She had a row of three dryers and those ladies would sit with their little helmets in rollers and yell out from under the dryer at each other. I loved it. I loved to go in and "help" her out on Saturdays. I had no skills, but I could answer the phone and spin that chair almost off the base.

My Mother, the Preacher's Daughter, was also gifted in the Hair department. She had some skills! Nobody could tease a good head of hair like Kaye.  She also had a Beauty Salon and though I know she had a lot of virtuous customers, Momma was not as "selective" as Mammaw. And the tales heard in her shop.....Have mercy.  There was always a lot of laughter and carrying on in Mom's little shop.

Unfortunately, The Hair Skills gene skipped a generation. I have no hair skills, but I know what I like and I can describe what I don't want. I have just enough knowledge to see red flags, but not enough to do my own carmel and honey blonde highlights and warm toasty brown to cover my gray. (The gray is another story.) I also was raised right..I know the RULES of good Southern Hair...  Hair Spray is essential, A good haircut is EVERYTHING and the wrong color hair can ruin everything.  The bottom line, it's not enough to be the right kinda blonde, you have to pull it off with some dignity.  The only people who can make white blonde work are rock stars and children. Can I get an Amen?

My mammaw and my Mom died in the same year, 2006.  Do you know that every single time someone leans my head back into that black bowl, I feel a little sad. I miss them so much. I miss the way they talked and carried on.  I miss my Mammaw saying, "scrub her hard, Kaye, Shelley Lynn has a leather head."  Makes me smile just thinking about it.

I have been so blessed to have the right people taking care of my hair for years.  Last week through some incident I will never truly understand, I started feeling like things weren't quite right.  I saw a lot of dark color going on my roots, I saw triple the amount of foil and I kept thinking to myself...this is odd, have I been here too long....

Have you ever wondered what your hair is worth?  I have cried with my Mom who lost her hair three separate times when she had chemo. My Mom had many surgeries but what made her cry in front of us was losing her hair. Why didn't I pay more attention?  I cried for my Sister in Law when she lost all her beautiful hair when she had chemo. I really couldn't imagine and still can't .....what that must be like. Now before you go thinking I am having a ginormous pity party, I will tell you that I do not know what it's like to lose your hair, all of it, to cancer...but I have now experienced what it's like to see your hair fall out in chunks and to see hair coming out and breaking off in piles on the counter and in my brush and in the floor.  You know how you've gotten a hair cut and it's just WAY shorter than you've had it in a while and you feel a little...naked?  or a little exposed?  Well, that's what this feels like. Every single time I look in the mirror, I feel sad.  My hair on top is about half the weight it was and it's wrong. It's just all wrong, all over, in all ways. THIS is not my hair. 

Where is the lesson in this?  The very same day my hair was falling out,  a colleague was courageously shaving her head for St Baldricks.  I have another sweet friend who has no hair.  Both are beautiful women.  Beautiful women not defined by hair. What is it about me...falling apart....because my hair was laying in a piles on my sink and in my brush?  Maybe it's tied to age? You know...should women my age have hair this long...Questions. Questions. I ask myself.

I will tell you when you tell your friends your hair is falling out, they will come running with help. Some offer shock and their ears, others get on the phone, some call their hair specialists for advice. Special shout out to several friends who recommended products and services. A BIG shout out to Donna Runion who texted me immediately with a cell phone number of one of the most sought after people in Nashville.... Mike Vandiver who recommended a product to stop the breakage. It did!  It did exactly what he said it would do.  Thank you Mike!   I also went to see an ANGEL in the hair world, Gabrael Dunham at Salon Bluebird. She not only got teary eyed when she saw me, she was able to trim it up some, give me a plan and tone my hair up a bit. She styled me for a big C&C Meeting where I would be seeing a lot of women I knew.  Being in front of people and speaking after hiding out for a week with saran wrap and/or hats on your head, well....She's an angel. Go see her, she will take care of you! Gabi did my hair for a long time and had taken a break in her career, so thankful she's back! I trust her. That means so much.

To the person who refunded my $235 (not sure why I was shorted the other $45)....I do not hate you. I truly do believe you are sorry and that it was not intentional and I do feel so bad for the way you must be feeling.  This tale is really not about you.  I'm sorry I skipped church on Easter Sunday... I knew that Jesus and crazy murderous rage cannot occupy the same place. I really am sorry about that. I surely could have put on a hat, right?  Some things are worth so much more than we know.  I've decided my hair is worth a lot to me.  Shallow?  Maybe.  But I have heard my entire life that a woman's hair is her crowning glory.  I have had two experts tell me that in a year if I take good care of my hair, I will never know this happened.  On the cusp on 45, maybe this is just the beginning of a lesson I will learn.

Sweet Giovanni, Why did you move and Leave Me?

When I washed my hair more hair fell out.

This was actually a good day...The last big bunch of hair that broke off

See through and Broken
Gummy, I couldn't get a comb through it, Afraid!
Headed to Bill who gave me wonderful advice and an even better product.
After one application, the breakage slowed down dramatically.

Just showing off to my Jumper friends!  How many people can style their hair like this with NO product. Did you know dead, scorched hair will stand on its own like this?!

THANK YOU GABI for trimming me up, giving me a plan and for taking such good care of me.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Top Ten Things I am grateful for this holiday season....

10.  The good health of my family.   My Mother was only 21 years older than me. I loved having a young Mom. She was only 60 when she died. Until her death I was confident about the fact that the women in our family live to be a million years old!  I have known and remember fondly all of my Great Grandmothers and Grandmothers. I have been amazingly blessed with hilarious, virtuous, crazy, fun women.  Now, I take nothing for granted. I plan for my children's future with the knowledge that we aren't guaranteed a single breath and find that now, I truly know how to live in the moment and I am so thankful that for right now, my family is healthy.

9.  The ability to pay for necessary things.  I hope the ability to get an oil change when I need one will always make me smile. I plan on celebrating the ability to pay for dentists appointments, oil changes and new socks every single time I can!

8.  The friendship and good will of more amazing women than I can count.  For every single mean girl in the world, there are 100 nice girls. I am blessed with more genuinely kind women in my life than I deserve. My very best friends in times of great need have been my friends since we were little girls. I love that although time and distance separate us, our hearts and intentions have kept us close. I prayed for wise women to be in my life and I am so blessed in this area of my life.  My advice to young women, be kind to each other..your girlfriends will carry you through life.

7.  Self Control.  I am blessed to have this and all the thanks go to my parents who taught me I don't have to be comfortable all the time in order to do what's right.  Thank you, Sister Lauren for recognizing this as a gift that I can be proud of.

6.  It took a long time but I realize that grace and mercy are a part of it!  I never knew this growing up.  Raised church of Christ and now Catholic, I am comfortable in being quiet in my religion. It's not about you...this is between me and Jesus...and I'm confident that even when I didn't realize it, he was holding me close and lighting the way.  I've found that I am very blessed. God doesn't just show us signs along the way, sometimes he sends billboards. 

5.  Cake, wine, a great dog and a warm fireplace.   These things add so much joy to my life!

4.  Sometimes people think joyful people have no problems. I find the opposite. Joy is a CHOICE. I wouldn't go back and change anything about my life. It's so awesome to get older, you see all the things so clearly that you missed when you were younger.  I am thankful that even in times of great stress, I hear my Mammaw's voice in my head to pray with a grateful heart.

3.  I am thankful that I get to be a witness to the success of others.  I can't take credit for someones success. I can't take the blame for their failure, but I can really LOVE the fact that I have a front row seat as a witness to their journey.

2. I am so grateful this Christmas to have met an adult child with ASD. He has no idea that meeting him was something I will never forget. It was like staring hope right in the face. He looked happy, well-adjusted, "normal" and loved.  He is coping fine and he's thriving.  I am grateful to the people who re-assure me, who tell me their stories, who tell me about how "it gets better"....Hope is a wonderful thing. I am seeing that they were right. I am so thankful for those who share their stories.

1. The love of my boys and my husband.  Without them, I would not get up every morning with a burning reason to push myself further and further.  These guys make me want to move heaven and earth every day.  When I look at their faces, I cannot believe they are mine.  What an awesome responsibility. What an amazing blessing. What a beautiful gift!  I am so thankful to be theirs.

Monday, April 25, 2011

It's all about YOU!

Have you ever had to fill out questionaires that are entirely about you? It's amazing how you get out of practice!

In my twenties, life was all about me. All the time. I was the Master at tooting my own horn. I was taught how to negotiate by the great Bill Polich and my public speaking skills? Thank you, Michael Vassen!  Between the two of these awesome mentors I really had a rocking career. Michael's technique was really good...he would teach me and then throw me to the wolves. I got very comfortable with public speaking really quickly.  ANYTHING was better than not having a clue you'd be speaking in front of hundreds of people only minutes before you'd be asked to do it. He drilled the same line into me, if you know what you're talking about and you love what you're doing, you can say anything to anybody at anytime about it.  He was right!

I knew I couldn't have a 10 state area, a 7 state area or even a 3 state area and be the Mom I wanted to be. At the time, I said that, but in my heart I knew I didn't know how to be anything but career driven. When people would tell me I could have it all, I felt like they didn't understand me. I was sort of all or nothing. I had no idea how to balance work and family. Talk about a light switch. My thirties looked so different from my twenties, it was like I wasn't even the same person.  I went from making things happen to wishing I knew what the heck was happening! To say I wasn't exactly a natural at Motherhood is funny to those who know me well.  I was a natural at crazy, unbelievable LOVE for my firstborn, but I was clueless about babies and the care of them. I was really clued in on skincare, shopping and traveling. He didn't really care to hear me talk about that when I was rocking him each night.  Fortunately, he was and is the sweetest boy.  By the time my second son arrived I still hadn't turned pro at Motherhood, but surely there was not another Mom who loved her children more. Have I mentioned that I am an Expert at Laundry? I love it, I'm great at it. Lots of practice. I specialize in stain removal. Go ahead, ask me anything. Red wine and coffee stains FEAR me. I digress.

I really and truly thought that I would never love my career as much as I had. I called my career, Utopia.  No chance that I could love my company, my peers, my customers like I did in the video industry....what a shock that "my little purse thing" would become even MORE and an even better fit for me AND my family. I still have to work at balance. Maybe it's from just living and being older, but I've discovered you have to make keeping balance a priority!  I lean one direction too far sometimes and then I correct and lean the other.  I'll never have a magic answer and knowing that, I believe IS the answer.

Some people talk about how easy Direct Sales is. I can think of other words I like better...challenging, unbelievably rewarding, exciting, simple, flexible and fun!  It's funny, the easiest thing about becoming successful in direct sales is usually the one thing people resist the longest before becoming successful.  I did it too. You just resist the simplicity for so long...some of us finally have a breakthrough... You have to be an excellent follower before you can become a good leader.  So "my little purse thing" is going quite well.  I love what I do.. and I am starting to remember how to brag a little again and tell people about all the good things I have going on.  My definition of success?  Helping others achieve their goals, seeing someone pay a car payment or a mortgage payment or quit the day job they don't love, hearing their excitement when they tell me that the party they had went so well. I watch their progress...I cross fingers, I wish and hope, share and teach them and I close my eyes and pray for them. Seeing them discover that it's not really about the purses, it's about how to celebrate themselves and others......This is the good stuff!

If you'd like to know more about me, stain removal or my experience with Thirty One Gifts, I am happy to share!