Sometimes Fairy Tales Suck

Not so long ago, in a galaxy not so far away, there lived a girl. The girl had a very old soul and a very pure heart. She lived alone with two loyal companions. Dogs that she was almost certain that if anyone else had rescued them, they would not have survived. As much mischief as her dogs sometimes caused her, she loved them more than life. They were the most loyal people in the world.

But as much as she loved her dogs, she felt alone. She longed for more. For love. For her own family. For someone to share her life with. She was good at saying she didn't want love, but every time she saw two people in love, the pangs in her heart told her otherwise. They told her she wanted that for herself.

And then! She found love. Love that fairy tales were made of. It was amazing and wonderful and even though change was hard for her, she knew that things were just right. And all would be well.

But the fairy tale was not to be.

And once again, she was alone.

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I'm no Michelangelo but I think I can pull off Picasso

I get asked a lot if I ever took art classes. In the eighth and ninth grades, when given the choice to paint or be forced to use a sewing machine, I chose painting. And so those were the only two art classes I've ever taken.

I learned to paint from Bob Ross. No, really. I watched and watched and watched him paint on TV, and one day I said, "I can do that." So, I bought a canvas and paints and painted my first landscape. Painting is pure enjoyment for me. When I get into a painting "mode" I can sit and paint for hours. I get lost in the world I'm creating on canvas. Other times, it may take me months to complete a piece.

One of my favorite things is a blank canvas. A blank canvas is a whole world just waiting to be created. The best thing about painting is that you can paint as much as you like, or as little as you like. You go at the pace that creativity allows you. If you make a mistake, it can always be fixed. If you feel like a tree "lives right there" or if a rock is "resting right here", you add it. (Be sure to make the little "whooshing" sounds that Mr. Ross always made.) Or! Painting can be abstract where you, as the artist, may interpret it one way, but someone else may interpret it a completely different way.

Painting is all about feelings. It begins with a feeling. Things are added and taken away based on feelings. A painting is complete when the artist feels like it's complete. Then, the world can interpret the painting based on new and different feelings.

I think of life as a painting. It's all about feelings. Sometimes, life comes at you so hard, so fast that you get lost in whatever world you're in. Other times, it may take you weeks and weeks or sometimes even months to figure things out. Things are added or taken away constantly. Sometimes your painting is blended with someone else's painting. Your vision slowly and surely becomes the same. Eventually, you create whole new worlds and colors, and maybe even a little tree "lives right there". Yet, then there will be times, even when your painting is blending with another, that you just want to paint on your own. And that is OK. (No one said you can only have one painting. What would the world be like if every artist was limited to only one painting. There may be no [enter your favorite painting here].)

Life is always, always abstract. The way you interpret it is up to you, the artist. It is what you make of it.

The thing about MY life right now is everything just feels right.

WAIT. I think a little tree lives *right there*. (Yes, I made the whooshing sound.) And maybe a rock will rest over.....

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I tried to fool the world, but I could not fool my heart

For a few years now, I've been on a journey. I'm looking to unite my mind, body, and soul. If I want to do continue to do that and strive to be the best person I can, this has to be said.

I fell in love with a boy once. I knew as sure as the sky is blue that we could have had a nice life together, but I let fear control me and I never told him how I felt. Then, one day his mother told me he met a girl. A few months later, they were engaged and a year later, they were married.

I sat in the church at his wedding trying to be happy for him and his bride, but really all I thought of is where I went wrong.

Now, I realize that the exact moment that he chose her was the beginning of a journey for me. A journey to discover my true self. (I should send him and his wife a thank you note.)

I can't tell you how many times I've heard from family members, "Are you dating anyone?" "Have you met you a nice boy yet?" "April, when are you gonna find a good man and get married?" My great-aunt Opal used to walk up to me, pick up my left hand, see my naked ring finger, shake her head, and walk away without ever saying a word. (This always made me laugh.)

Despite disappointing a lot of my family in this area of my life, I did date. As a result of meeting and dating "nice" boys, I've been stood up, sort of phone stalked(this is actually a funny story), stood up again, demanded sex happen NOW (this guy was dumped immediately), rejected, and told I would never have a real relationship. Not one relationship ever lasted longer than three months.

I decided that there was something broken in my brain that wouldn't allow me to be in a healthy, happy relationship with a nice boy. (Let's disregard the fact that the boys weren't that nice, OK? Thanks.) And I gave up dating. I made peace with that. I could learn to be content with never finding love. At times, I was content.

I always knew I was different growing up. I wasn't like the girls who loved to shop or knew how to perfectly poof their bangs every morning, and when my aunt gave me a make-up set for Christmas when I was 17, I thanked her with a smile, but secretly thought, why in the world would she give me something like this?

Throughout my twenties, I was asked several times if I was gay. Rumors were spread around work. Some people won't even talk to me still because of these rumors. I always strongly denied the rumors because in my mind, I wasn't gay. To me, being gay meant that you cut your hair like a guy, you dressed in guys' clothes and you hated men. I was none of those things. Yet I was different.

You see, being gay in my family means that you are not accepted. It means you've made a choice to live your life not according to the way God would want you to live your life. If you are gay, you also are not a child of God and do not accept Him into your life. Very few of my family members feel like being gay was something that is you are born with.

I've been at family functions and seen family members hear the word "gay" or "lesbian" and snarl their noses, as if being gay is something gross.

All I ever wanted was to be accepted. I tried to just blend in. The harder I tried to blend in, the more I failed. So, I decided to embrace the fact that I am a nerd. I love books and fantasy and I believe in magic and I keep toys on my desk at work. I think Star Trek is cool and aliens are real and when I hike, I always look for unicorns. (And I have a BS in Mathematics.)

With acceptance of my nerdiness (and others' acceptance of my nerdiness), came acceptance that different is OK. I started looking within me at other parts of me that are different. What I found is that, yes, I am gay. Being gay is as much a part of me as my nerdiness. It is as much a part of me as my hair is brown or my eyes are green. And what I found is while, others may not think it's OK, I had to first realize myself that it is OK. I am more than OK.

Slowly, as I started telling people, I realized that not everyone believes as most in my family does. Gay, straight, brown, white, yellow, green, I am still April. I will always be April. I will always be working to better myself as a human and I am who I am.

What I found, is that most people like April just because I'm me.

Three months ago, I started dating this amazing girl. I never knew love could be so beautiful and so fun. While the future has not yet been written, I hope that we are in each other's lives for a long, long time.

I'm not sure what the future holds at all. I'm not sure what my family will say when they find out about my sexuality (from me or if they read it here). But one thing I do know is that no matter what people say or what they think, I am good. Life is good.

And it will all be OK.

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Queen Penelope is back online. Or now online. Whatever.

I told myself I would never play FarmVille.

Don't get me wrong, I had nothing against the game. I was intrigued when I heard people at work talking about it. Here's the thing. I've always wanted to play World of Warcraft. But I heard on a podcast that unless you play like 20 hours a week, you don't really get the full experience.

And then there is this.

See what I mean?! I can't get hooked on something like that! (Except I could totally get hooked on something like that.)

Then one day someone asked, "Will you be my FarmVille neighbor? You don't have to play, I just need a neighbor."

Sure, I thought. There would be no harm in signing up so I could be her neighbor, right? Right. So, I logged into Facebook, signed up for FarmVille, and that was that.

Except...

Well, my farmer didn't look like me at all. So, if I was going to be on FarmVille my farmer had to look a bit like me, even if I wasn't going to play. Three hours later, my farmer looked cute. Just like me.

Then, well, they gave me a few crops all ready to harvest. No harm in harvesting them, right? Oh my God, you get coins for harvesting! Well, I guess if that's the case, there would be no harm in planting another crop or two. Just for fun.

I knew I was in trouble when I had to go out of town for a day, and I asked a certain someone if she would watch over my farm for the day. WHAT? Did I just really ask someone to watch over my virtual farm? Crap. I'm in trouble.

In the middle of my out of town day (which was not a fun day for me), I got an email. It read, "Don't panic when you see all the crops I planted on your farm. It's under control."

That email made me laugh out loud and was the best part of my day. I smiled the rest of the day, thinking about that email.

When I got home that night, the first thing I did was to check on my farm. Oh my God, I had pigs now! They were so cute! I knew my heart was lost to my farm.

Moral of the story: Saying never will come back to bite you in the ass. And FarmVille is fun.

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It all started with a coloring book...

Did you guys know that, you can get a whole box of 120 Crayola crayons? I had no clue. Yet, a couple of months ago, I received a box of 120 crayons as a gift and it is one of my favorite gifts ever. Maybe one day I'll tell you why it is one of my favorite gifts ever. That day is not today.

When I opened my amazingly perfect gift of 120 Crayola crayons, that famous Crayola smell spoke to my senses. (It's one of my favorite smells.) I had the picture that I wanted to color chosen but before I started filling the white page with color, I looked over each and every crayon.

How could I possibly, use these perfect crayons? They were brand new and perfectly shaped. It broke my heart to ruin that. For about 10 seconds.

As I colored, I remembered the show on TV that I watched on how crayons were made. I wished it were on right then.

I know you're all wondering: April? Just what are your favorite Crayola crayon colors? You're thinking that, yeah? I mean, how could you not? NO WORRIES. I'm going to tell you.



Burnt Orange is my absolute favorite color ever. It's Hokie Orange. (Not to be confused with Tennessee Orange, which is pretty great, too.) It's a color of autumn, which is the most beautiful season. I drive a burnt orange car, for crying out loud.

Mango Tango is such a fun color. It's still orange (which in case you didn't know, is my favorite color), but with a twist. Also, for coloring purposes, it is great for shading when used with Burnt Orange. Using these two colors, I can draw the perfect setting sun. Plus, mangoes are great for you!

I have always loved the color Eggplant. I do not like the food, but the color is great. (OK, fine, I've never tried it, but I'm pretty sure I won't like it. Feel free to prove me wrong.) It's probably my second favorite color after orange.

What color goes great with purple? Green. And Fern goes great with Eggplant. Whenever I use Eggplant when coloring, I'm almost sure to use Fern. If you have those two colors handy, go ahead and try it, I'll bet you go, "Ooooh!"

And what is better than Crayola crayon color names? Not much, really. My favorite Crayola color names are Fuzzy Wuzzy and Tinkle Me Pink. They make me giggle.

Do YOU have a favorite Crayola crayon color? Let's hear it!

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What do you mean they don't want to be fed?!

I cannot express to you how awesome my thirties have been to me so far. I've traveled here and there, I've met so many great people. I became an aunt to the best little boy in the world who calls me "Apul" instead of April. I have found my heart and am on a constant journey to be the most authentic version of me that I can be. I thought, too, of how close I am to reaching that grand age of thirty-five.

Most people freak out when they think of turning thirty-five. Am I right? Well, not me. There are so many things that I have to look forward to. So many things that I cannot wait to do. So, I'm looking forward to spending my thirties just LIVING.

So, just for you, here are some things that I've decided that I really need to do before I turn thirty-five:

1. Feed a giraffe - Guys, I've been waiting to do this like my whole life. Two summers ago, I went to the NC Zoo on the very first day that the brand new giraffe feeding station opened. Every night the week before, I dreamed about feeding a giraffe and that giraffe loving me from the get-go, and, of COURSE the Zoo asked me to stay forever to be this giraffe's keeper. What really happened was four young giraffes decided they weren't hungry when it was my turn at the feeding station. They wouldn't even come close, and my heart was crushed.

2. Visit London - I know this one is going to happen. It's in the bag. I have a plan, which includes selling my house. As soon as the money hits the bank, I'm purchasing tickets. (All I need to do now is turn in my passport forms.)

3. Run one or more 10Ks - Stop reading. Pick your jaws up off your keyboards. I KNOW. Yes, running is still not my thing. It will never be my thing, but I think if I keep the distances to 10K or less, I can make this happen. I mean, I can run 3 miles, no problem. After that, my brain shuts down and says, "You are done running for today. Thank you for playing." But I think I have some 10Ks in me. Really. I do.

4. Go to Atlantis or Hawaii - I want to see blue, blue waters. I want to learn to snorkel in those blue waters so that I can say hello to Nemo and Dory. And I want to swim with dolphins. Yes. This has to be done.

5. Write a book - This one is calling at me more and more. I've started countless books and never finished them. I'm not even sure I still have any one of them because they're on my ancient desktop that got a stupid virus and now sounds like it will blow up when I attempt to turn it on. (Yes, I had virus protection.) Anyway, the point is, I'm not sure exactly what I want to write about, but I feel a story brewing in the back of my brain.

And there ya have it.

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My favorite photos

I was asked what are my favorite photos that I've ever taken, so I looked back through all of my old posts and realized how hard of a task this was going to be for me. I've narrowed it down to five, but really, I love so many of my photos. I only play at photography, so when I get a good shot, I get super excited. If you've been here for a while, you've seen these before. If you're new, I hope you enjoy.

Snow falling during one of the many, many snows of last winter:


This has to be my favorite photo ever of Kelci (same snow):



*siiiigh* I love giraffes:


Self portrait of me and the little dude last year:


This shot just popped in my head and all of a sudden I HAD TO CAPTURE IT. It's my nephew's hand, in case you were wondering:



:)

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One night I dreamed I had to find someone and I never did...

Dreams. Do they really mean anything? Honestly, I'm too afraid to find out. I have always dreamed vividly, even when I was a kid.

In my dreams, I have gone everywhere that one may imagine going. I have done everything that one may imagining doing. I've met famous people, traveled the world, gone to magical places, and starred in all of my favorite TV shows. (In MY dreams, the third season of LOST was much, much better.)

But with good dreams can also come bad ones. I used to have a lot of bad ones. I've woken up in a sweat and have been too scared to go back to sleep. I've wondered if whatever monster was chasing me through those dark and scary woods would really find me in my bed. I had terrible dreams that I was in school and forgot to wear my bra and EVERYONE MADE FUN OF ME. That was a nightmare for a girl who always felt different and only wanted to fit in.

When I was in my early teens, a Native American store opened up in a nearby mall. They had these things called dream catchers. I read on the tag that dream catchers were meant to keep bad dreams away.

After much deliberation, I decided to buy one. I chose the one that was different from all of the rest.

I hung it in my bedroom window and went to sleep knowing that I would never have to worry about a nightmare again. And it has been with me, hanging in my bedroom window every night since I bought it. When I move to a new place, the first thing I do is hang my dream catcher.

Does it really work, you ask? The answer is simple. I would be lying if I said that all I've ever had since that day were amazingly good dreams. A few bad ones here and there do manage to get through. But here's the thing: I know it works. It works because I believe it works. It works its magic every night because I give it the power to.

You may call it superstitious, and it may be. I don't care. Why would I take the chance of taking it down and being stuck with that dream where I go to school with no bra on?!

All you have to do is believe. And I believe.

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Magic Does Exist



Sometimes we get lucky
And for a short while
We find a place
Where time almost halts
And everything is right with the world.

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Gerbils are not dogs. (But they can be fun.)

The one thing I always wanted was a dog. Every so often, I would beg and beg and beg my dad to let us get a dog. I would plan my approach, make sure he was in a good mood, be extra helpful around the house, finally work up the courage, and in my tiny little voice I would ask:

"Dad, can we get a dog?"

"No, April. I've told you this before."

This would hurt my feelings so bad. I just couldn't understand. Dogs were great. Why couldn't he see that?

Recognizing that he had hurt my feelings, he would try to make up for it by telling my I could get some other kind of pet.

My second favorite of the tiny critters I grew up with was my gerbil. She was grey with a white spot on top of her head. I named her Penny from the Disney movie "The Rescuers".

At eight years old, I had the patience and determination to earn Penny's trust, and soon, we were fast friends. As soon as I got home from school, I would get her out of her cage, put her on my shoulder, and together, we would go on great adventures throughout the house.

One day, Penny and I walked into the living room and my dad was napping on the couch.

Now, I'm not sure why I thought this was a good idea, I looked at my gerbil. Then, glanced down at my dad's chest. Then, I looked back at Penny, and thought, Let's wake Dad up! He'll think it's great!

So, I held Penny over my sleeping dad, and gently plopped Penny down.

My dad woke up to Penny staring him in the face. His eyes got as big as saucers, and then it happened.

In what seemed like slow motion, my dad yelled and jumped all at the same time and sent Penny flying across the room.

Horrified I rescued Penny from the floor, held her closely with both hands, and as I was storming back to my room, I looked back at my dad with a look that said, "How COULD you?!"

After that day, our adventures were much quieter. We read books.

See, if Dad had just let us have a dog, he wouldn't have been scared by a little gerbil. Am I right?

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His Eyes Always Twinkled

My original post was going to be a letter from Charlotte. I will probably post Charlotte's letter one day, but this post is more important today.

I got my belly button pierced on a dare.

I was pondering whether or not to actually go and have my belly button pierced and then my mom said, "I'll bet you fifty dollars you won't do it." That was it. That's all it took for me to set a date, go into the tattoo shop, and have my belly button pierced. (And almost pass out immediately afterwards.)

I was prepared for my navel to be sore for days and days after. I was not prepared for was not being able to sit up straight. Sore, I could handle. Needing to lie down flat or die, I could not.

Around the same time that I decided to show the world that getting my belly button pierced was no big deal, my uncle was undergoing chemotherapy. I'll never forget the day he said, "There is a growth, and it is malignant... But I'm going to win. I will beat cancer."

My uncle was a firefighter. He battled burning buildings. He saved people's lives. When he said he would beat cancer, we knew he would.

A few days after my piercing, we went to visit my uncle at his house. He had lost all of his hair, was constantly hooked up to an IV, had a feeding tube, and was the happiest I had ever seen him. I, of course, could not sit up straight because of the voluntary pain I had just put myself through. And, of course, he noticed.

"What is the matter with you," he asked.

"Nothing," I replied.

"She had her belly button pierced," said my aunt. (My uncle's and mom's sister. aka "RAT")

He asked if my dad knew. Nope, I told him. And then it began. He teased me and said he wanted money from me in exchange for his silence. I laughed, but thought, he could actually be serious.

One day, I visited my uncle right before cancer reached his brain. It was the last time we looked at each other in the eyes. He didn't speak much, but he looked at me and gave me a signal with his hand. With a twinkle in his eye, the signal said, "Where is my money?" My response was a smile.

We buried him on a hillside just a few short weeks later and after everyone left, I stayed by his grave, dug a hole in the earth with my bare hand, and buried some hush money. It was my final good-bye to the uncle I loved so dearly.

In the 18 months he had from the time he learned he had cancer until the time he left us, he became a whole new person. The uncle I grew up with annoyed me. He teased me constantly. I thought he didn't love me. In those 18 months, I learned that he teased me because he loved me.

In those 18 months, he learned really how to really show his love, how to live, and how to make peace the hand life had dealt him. To me, he won his battle.

He told us he would beat cancer. And beat cancer he did.

Dear Mendie, I know our situations are different. I know times right now are incredibly tough. But feel peace in knowing that we are here for you and we all love you. Even though it may not seem like it right now, your aunt beat cancer, too. Because really? Cancer never wins.

Much love to you, dear friend.

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They don't call me Grace for nothing

My teammates on my high school basketball team decided one year that every one needed a nickname. Most got cool nicknames like "T-Dawg" or "Lightnin'".

I got "Trip."

Yes, I fall a lot. Or I run into trees while playing tag in the dark. Or I fall out of my chair at work. Or I trip in the movie section at Target. (Those horror DVDs, man, they will get you EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.) I'm not allowed to have a sharp knife in my hands in my mother's presence, and every time I climb a ladder, people around me shout, "Oh my God! Get down!"

When you are as graceful as I am, these minor little incidents leave footprints on your body. OK, fine, they're scars, but I like to think of them as footprints. They help to tell the story of me.

My favorite has been with me for 29 of my 32 years. I remember vividly the day I got it. Actually, I think it's safe to say that this was one of my earliest memories.

I'm not sure if I could have been considered a "good little helper" or just too curious about things for my own good, but this particular day, I was "helping" my mom iron clothes. My first memory is of my mom's voice:

"April, don't touch the ironing board."

Naturally, what did I do the first chance I got when my mom turned her back? I put my hands on the ironing board, and the next thing I remember is PAIN.

The hot iron landed smack on my left hand.

My memory after that is fuzzy. I remember feelings more than anything. The pain I felt. The tears streaming down my face. How scared my mom's voice sounded.

After the wound healed, I had a scar that covered my whole hand and was extremely noticeable. I would get questions about it all the time, but I never was self conscious about it. I loved to tell the story of my scar. It was a battle wound for me.

Now, I know what you're thinking. What a terrible first memory! Right? That is what your thinking? I don't see it as terrible. It helps to tell the story of me. It's smaller now and a bit faded, but every time I look down at my left hand, there it's been for as long as I can remember. And every time I look at it, I smile.

It's one of the first footprints of my life.

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"You'll be amazed," is what Dad said...

I've been battling a serious case of writer's block here recently. I know what's causing it, and maybe I'll share it soon. Or maybe I won't. Until I figure it out, I've decided to do a NoBloPoMo. So. From now until December 9th, I will blog everyday. Some things you may know, some days you may not. Either way, I hope you enjoy.

My family didn't take vacations when I was a kid. We had a camper on a lot at a lake, which is about forty-five minutes from our house, and that is where we spent our summers. I wouldn't trade my childhood summers for anything. (OK, I may trade the women from a nearby lot who always thought I was a boy. But, whatever.)

As my brother and I became teenagers, we started asking if we could go on a real vacation. You know, like ones where you stayed at great places like... the Holiday Inn(with a pool)! Ones where you got to eat out in restaurants every meal.

In the summer of 1996, we convinced my dad to take a road trip. The deal was that if we agreed to go to one place my dad wanted to go, he would take us to Busch Gardens, Williamsburg and then we would drive to the beach. My brother and I thought this was the best deal ever.

Until... my dad decided that he wanted to take back roads from our house, stop at whatever historical sites we could find, and go to the Civil War battlefield in Petersburg, VA. This is where the Battle of the Crater took place. (You may be familiar with this battle if you've ever seen the movie Cold Mountain.)

For DAYS before and then for HOURS in the car. (Timeout: I should mention that the day before our trip, I went to the doctor for strep throat. My mom wanted to cancel the trip, but my dad was so excited about seeing this battlefield that I insisted that I was fine and our trip was still on. I was miserable the whole time. Timein.) Where was I? Oh, right. For days before and then hours during the drive to this battlefield all my brother and I heard was how the Union soldiers dug a tunnel under the Confederate soldiers and blew up the ground right out from underneath the Confederate army, which left this huge crater that could still be seen today.

I admit, I was excited. My brother wouldn't admit, but he was, too. I love history, so to see a huge crater from the Civil War was fascinating to me. My brother was just excited because it involved something being blown up.

Once we were on the battlefield, my brother and I walked ahead of our parents. (We were cool like that.) We saw a sign that marked the path that led to this now crater that, to hear my dad talk, was the size of a small canyon. Even though, all my brother wanted to do was "get to the part where the bomb went off", he humored me and read all of the informational signs.

And then...

We reach the crater.

What we saw was a small little "hole" in the ground. You can't really call it a hole. Because it looked like part of our backyard. I mean, if you didn't have a sign saying, "HERE IT IS!" you would have walked right past it.

My brother leaned towards me and whispered, "Is this it?"

I whispered back, "Shut up. Act excited."

He responded with, "I can't."

After all of that build up, I was disappointed, too. But you know what? I loved our summers at the lake. Those summers were some of the best times of my childhood. That trip,though, was my favorite of all. Not because of the hotels or the restaurants or the things we did. But because, even though I was miserably sick with strep throat, it was the one time in my life that I remember that for five days straight we enjoyed each other, laughed lots every day, and just had fun.

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Exposed

I am beautiful.

I am strong.

I've conquered healthy living.

I am proud of what I have accomplished.

My scars are reminders.

They show how far I've come.



They remind of where I don't want to go back.

My body will never be perfect.

It has curves. And rolls.

And more curves.

And it is lovely.




I can run a 5K if I want

Or climb a mountain with these legs.

My legs take me on bikes rides.

That is magic to me.



I am athletic.

I am brave.

I am my own best friend.

I have learned to love myself.



I am exposed.

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My Most Awesome Work Moment Yet

I've worked for the same company for ten years now. I was hired straight out of college with plans to either move up in the company quickly or move on to something better in life.

Ten years later, I'm still there, and have only moved up a tiny bit. I could spend hours and hours telling you why I'm still in this job I barely tolerate, but we'll save that for another day.

A few weeks ago, I had an email in my inbox from my manager telling me I had been chosen as a creative consultant for a team building project. OK, no. What the email said was a whole lot of big words that were Greek to me, and only after I responded back with, "Huh?" did I find out that I had been chosen as a creative consultant for a team building project.

Today, we had our first meeting for this project. Since the meeting was held three hours away from my office, I joined in via conference call.

The leader of this meeting spent ten minutes explaining why were doing this project and how it would create a better work environment and I could have sworn I heard the words "TPS reports".

And then he says something like all teams such as teams like mine tend to be boring.

WHAT! Who the hell was he calling boring? Obviously he didn't know that I was on this project. And right then, it became one of the most important things in the world to defend my creative mind.

Boring?! Who is he calling boring?! I rattled of an email to my manager's BlackBerry.

After a few more minutes of "blah, blah, blah's" I hear him say that we could break into our teams and brainstorm. My manager then gets on the phone and asks for my ideas.

"First, I want you to tell that guy, I don't appreciate being called boring!", I said.

My manager replied, "Um, April. You just told the whole room that. You're on speaker phone."

Whoops. Well. I guess now he knows. :)

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I LOVE ME

I LOVE ME!

Over at the Sisterhood, we have decided that October is "I LOVE ME" month. We're all taking a pledge to love ourselves because as Christie O. says, "because it all starts with 'me'". She's right. It does. If you want to read and/or take the pledge, go here.

It has been a long and hard journey of learning to love myself. When I got my wake-up call and realized that I needed to lose weight, I had no idea how much my insides needed a wake-up call of their own.

There was always a part of me that I knew was awesome but I just couldn't bring myself to show my awesome to others. I was afraid of what they would think. I cared what they thought. I also got wrapped up in trying to please everyone. I wanted to be the person that could make people proud. I thought that if I didn't make them proud, I would bring shame to those I cared most about. I couldn't stand the thought of being THAT person. What I didn't realize was that in thinking that way, I lost a sense of myself that would make ME proud.

And wasn't that what was most important? Making myself proud?

Because if I couldn't be proud of myself, how could I make anyone else proud? If I couldn't love myself, how could anyone else love me?

I needed to make me happy.

I realized that in order to make myself happy, I had to discover who I really was. I needed to meet and get to know the real me. I had to learn that the real April was someone who I liked. When I realized how much I liked the real April, I began to show her to others. And holy crap! They liked her too.

You could say that on this road to self-discovery, I realized that I truly love who I am. Who I've become. Who I continue to become.

I know I will have moments of weakness. We all do. And that's okay. Because we'll just pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and love ourselves all over again.

Yep. This month, I'm taking the pledge. Will you?

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Look Out Sugarland!

My nephew has declared "Stuck Like Glue" HIS song! He does it pretty well, don't you think?

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Turning Point

It's dark in here. Cold. Damp. I feel lost. Where am I? Where is the light? I can't really see. I feel claustrophobic. Am I alone? I feel alone. I don't want to be alone. If I call for help, will someone answer? Someone, please answer. I want to be found. I want so badly to be found.

That was my brain not all that long ago. Five years ago, maybe? My brain was calling out to me and I wasn't listening to it. I told myself I was great. But I wasn't.

I was lost.

Happiness is hard for me. It has been for a long time. And it isn't that I wanted to be unhappy. Because who wants that? There were reasons I was unhappy. Some of those reasons I didn't even know about. Or understand.

I didn't love myself. I didn't even like myself. I hid some of the best parts of me.

I let people take advantage of because I didn't have the strength within me to stand up for myself.

And I blamed myself for things that weren't my fault. Things that could never be my fault.

I didn't want to let anyone down. And what I didn't realize was that I was only letting myself down. I was failing at life. I was barely surviving.

The turning point didn't come in one moment. Or a few moments. It came slowly over a long period of time. Years, in fact. And while the journey here has been tough, it's been amazing. I sometimes take a step back and see how far I've come. How I've embraced who I am. How I love the weirdest things and that's okay because it's what makes me me.

My name is April. I was born in June. I am a nerd. I love science, math, and science-fiction. I will tell you with a straight face that I am half Vulcan. Aliens are my thing. I love video games. I'm a Gryffindor. My favorite color is orange. I am a tomboy and love all sports. I have a great big sensitive heart. And that's not a bad thing. I love to read and I love art and I love to play at writing. Animals are my love and yes, I would totally put a giraffe in my back yard if I could. (And a stargate.)

The new me embraces all of those things. Even if I sometimes contradict myself on these things.

I love this new me. And life is good. And I am happy.

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Bringing Kelci Home

I met Kelci when she was 4 weeks old. I went to her breeder's house and saw 8 black German Shepherd pups covering the green of the yard. The breeder had given me pick of the litter but said, "I already know which one you'll choose."

I sat in the grass in front of the smallest pup. She was so different than the others. Not only was she the runt but also, she had a silver fur collar and was lighter than the her brothers and sisters. I made certain that I spoke to each of the pups, but when I picked her up, looked her in the face, and smelled her puppy breath, I was hers.

"This is the one I want," I said.

The breeder replied, "I know."

I named her Kelci.

A few weeks later, the breeder drove to my apartment to deliver my pup. Kelci was a tiny 6 pounds and scared to death. I took her into my arms, kissed her nose, and told her we were going to have so much fun. Afterall, she had a new sister, Bayleigh to play with.

As I walked the three flights to the apartment I lived in at that time, I clearly hadn't taken my cocker spaniel's feelings into consideration. I thought, this will be great! Who doesn't love a new puppy?!

Bayleigh, that's who.

I walked into my living room all excited and set Kelci in front of Bayleigh. Bayleigh looked at me and said, "What the hell is this thing?! Get it away from me!" Uh-oh. Not a good sign.

But I was determined. We all three played for the rest of the evening. At bedtime, I went through my routine, and put Bayleigh into her crate (Bayleigh + Eating Mum's Books = Bayleigh Sleeps In Crate Until She Could Be Trusted). I fixed another crate for Kelci, filled it with stuffed animals and a clock, tucked her in, and turned off the lights. And exactly three minutes later, Kelci started whining. And whining. And whining. And whining.

And whining.

Okay, what was I going to do now? I KNOW, I thought. I'll put her and Bayleigh together! That is a fantastic idea! So, I put them in the crate together, turned the light off, and waited. All was quiet! This was going to work!

Twenty minutes later, I turned on the light. Kelci was snuggled at Bayleigh's feet, fast asleep. (I think she was smiling even.) Bayleigh was sitting straight up, staring at me with a look that clearly said, "I hate you."

Kelci slept with me from then on.

Moral to the story: Just put the pup in the bed with you. The "I hate you" look is not worth it.

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A Really Great Basketball Moment

I walked into our high school's gym on my first day of basketball practice knowing that this was going to be a great season. All I wanted was to be captain. I was the only returning senior, my teammates all seemed to like and look up to me, so it was in the bag, right?

Wrong.

By the end of our second practice of the day, two juniors were named co-captains and my world was crushed. Looking back at it now, I'm not sure why that was so important to me but it was and all I knew in that moment was that I didn't make it. (Of course, me being me, I felt like I had failed.)

That first day of practice was just the beginning of a season of hell for me. I had to do every sprint drill at least twice because I always finished last. I was yelled at, told in front of the whole team that I had no athletic ability, and made fun of for being so clumsy. All by my coach.

Yet, I was always the first on the court and the last one to leave. I loved it. I loved the game. I loved watching the game and breaking it down in my head. I loved getting the chance to get in the game. I loved my team.

Those were some of the best moments in high school for me. I looked forward to every practice and every game because these girls were my friends. They were, for me, my sisters. My senior year, I became the big sister, and maybe that's why I wanted to be captain. I wanted everyone to know I was the big sister.

What I didn't know was I didn't need to be captain for every one to know that.

The last home game of the season was senior night. Out of the kindness of her blackened heart, my coach decided to let me start. Before the game, I was to walk while holding my parents' hands to center court. I was at the end of our bench talking with my parents when all of a sudden I realized that the whole gym was chanting.

I got chills on my arms when I realized that they were chanting my name.

My teammates (and all of the cheerleaders) had lined up in two lines on each side of me. It took me ten minutes to get through those lines because I hugged and/or high fived all of them. When I hugged the last person, I looked up and every single person in the gym was standing and clapping. For me.

They gave the clumsy, slow, no talent, short, sometimes playing point guard a standing ovation.

That had to be the greatest night of my basketball career. (OK, no. I'm lying. The best night of my basketball career was a rec club game. I scored twelve points in a championship game, and my varsity coach asked my rec club coach how did he get me to play so well. His answer was, "I don't yell at her.")

I think about that night now and I always smile. I can close my eyes and replay ever single step I took. I see their faces and just how proud they all were of me. And it also makes me wonder why it's so damn hard for me to just be proud of myself.

I'm really going to work on that. If a couple hundred people could be proud of me for simply showing up to represent my school mostly by riding the bench, then certainly I can be proud of myself more.

Yep. I really think I can. No wait! I really think I am.

Yeah, that's better.

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Finding Me

I cannot remember a time in my life when I wasn't drawing or painting. Every single notebook from every single class in school is filled with silly little sketches. Sketches helped me focus on what the teachers were saying. I took a few art classes in junior high school, but most of my art comes from seeing something in my head and putting it onto paper or canvas. I used to love watching Bob Ross paint. I always would think, I can do that!

I remember vividly the day I discovered the awesomeness that is soft pastels. One day I was walking down the art supply aisle in Michaels' and on a whim bought a set and a new sketch pad. When I sat down to sketch with them, magic just happened. I fell in love. I knew I could make great things with this medium. I was lost in my own little world. I had to be reminded that I needed to do things like... eat. It was amazing.

I had this itch to create art all the time. I wanted to do something with my art. I started painting again. (I take painting by spells.) Someone I worked with convinced me I should do a show and have it at her house. The thought of creating art, like, all the time was scary but exciting to me. Maybe my co-worker was right and I could do this.

That show never happened. My whole world changed and I became lost in a world where I wasn't happy. Life was hard and scary and instead of using my art as an escape, I almost abandoned it. I still would sketch on scrap paper because that's how I think, but I would only paint in tiny moments of sort of happiness or if someone asked me to paint/draw something for them. I convinced myself that my art sucked. I was so painfully unhappy that I couldn't see how special I was or how special my gift was.

Slowly, as I worked my way out of the dark cloud that surrounded me, I found that I enjoyed painting again. Yet, I still hadn't rediscovered the itch to create. I used my art as the place I escaped to when I felt life trying to pull me back into that dark cloud. It was my happy place and for a few years now, that's been just fine with me.

Today, I was in the shower thinking thinking thinking and something hit me. I have the itch to create art again. Not as an escape, but because I have a gift. Why am I hiding my gift? Why don't I create more? I should create more. I want to create more. I will create more. And for the first time in a really long time, I'm excited about it. I'm really starting to feel like me. Hello, me!

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Yesterday's Fun Times

Have you ever watched the stand up routine done by Bill Cosby called Bill Cosby: Himself? Please tell me you have. If you haven't, turn away from the computer, go find it, watch it, then come back. I'll wait.

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Oh, good. You're back. Now, you remember when Mr. Cosby talked about being on a flight with the little boy named Jeffrey? Jeffrey was four years old, and the reason Mr. Cosby remembered Jeffrey's name is because Jeffrey's mother said "Jeffrey" the whole flight. The kid sounded like he was a handful. (And that's probably being nice about it.)

Yesterday, I boarded the plane for my first flight of the day. It was a puddle jumper, and my seat was all the way in the back. I thought I was very lucky because I had the row to myself, and it appeared that the row in front of me was going to be empty as well. Score!

I took my book back out and continued to read while I waited for the flight to finish boarding. And at the very last second, SHE arrived.

The female version of Bill Cosby's Jeffrey.

She, along with her mother, plopped herself down right in front of me. My first thought was, oh what a cute little girl! Then I had my first heart attack. POW! My heart slammed against my chest as I readied to hit the deck to protect myself from whatever gunfire had gone off.

Except that it wasn't gunfire. The little girl discovered that if you pushed down the window cover REALLY HARD, it would make the 32 year old behind you think shots were being fired, and well, you know, that's great fun. (Just so you know, this happened 12 times while I was on that plane. Good times.)

I wish I could tell you the little girl's name, but all her mom called her was, "Sugar" in a really high pitched squealy voice. (Stick a fork in my eye, please.)

Sugar decided that she wanted a drink of water right when the plane was getting ready for take-off. She screamed and she cried and she unbuckled herself all while her mother squealed, "Please, Sugar, sit down and buckle up. Please? Can you do that for mommy?"

It took the flight attendant walking back, looking at that little terror and firmly saying, "I need you to SIT DOWN and BUCKLE UP." I could have kissed her.
***

I knew the second flight of the day wasn't going to get any better when this girl sat down next to me, looked back at her friend (who was behind me) and exclaimed, "OH THANK GAWD! That isn't my ex. He's CUUUUTE though!" Then she burst into a fit of giggles. It wasn't long until her friend Miss *cough* *cough* *cough* joined us in our row. (If I get sick, I'm hunting her down and punching her in the neck.)

They made it incredibly hard for me to read. I heard all about how Miss Giggle McGiggly had three lovers, and one was leaving his wife for her, but she didn't want him to. And he wanted to get her pregnant, but she didn't want that either.

I also know there were seven cute guys on that flight. I know because they counted. Then Miss Coughbox leaned to Miss McGiggly and "whispered", "How can she just sit there and READ like that?" (Well I could read much better if you would shut up. And yes, I heard you say that.)

I finally put my earbuds in and pretended to sleep through all of their giggles and chatter and crazy arm movements while they were telling their stories.

All the while thinking, I'm so blogging about this.

And now I'm in Denver, and that's just awesome.

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An Election Day Funny - repost

As I was driving to the grocery store this evening, a skunk crossed the street in front of me. (Is that bad luck? I mean, it wasn't a cat, but still. Not that cats are bad luck or anything. Just wondering.) And it reminded me of this story. Let laughing commence...

There was just something about this election that I knew was going to be special. And as tired as I was getting of listening to debates and rally speeches, I was still excited for Election Day. Little did I know, that no other Election Day will ever be this good for me ever again. And no folks, I'm not talking about who won or lost here.

I got up early that morning so I could go vote. Getting up early is hard for me anyway, but add me being out of coffee and it was raining to the mix, and you have one grouchy person. So I get to Fire Station #13 (this is where I vote) and the line was-well it was long. And not only that, I got in front of two fellas that would not shut up.

Then the line starts to move. And it's moving fairly quickly. This is great! I may get coffee before I die from my brain turning to mush yet. I'm literally feet from the door-well quite a few feet, but I was close, and the line stops. Dangit. And then...

I look up to the house that's next door. It has the most fabulous front yard, oh and look, there's a nice kitty-wait. Is that? It is. It's a skunk and he's scurrying his way on down towards us.

Me to the talkers: "Fellas, we're about to have company." I point to Pepe'.
One of the talkers: "Oh, shit."

We watched that skunk scurry all the way right to us. He is was literally 10 feet away from me before he ever realized that something wasn't right about his morning walk. He jumps. Two hundred people gasp. One of the talkers whispers, "No body move." I hear a woman somewhere in front of me take off running screaming something about holding her place in line. (What part of "no body move" did she not get?) He decides we are not going to hurt him, so he starts walking back up the yard a bit, then turns right (all he wanted to do was get to the field across the street), fifty people bolt, he freezes. A minute later, he's headed back up the yard. He decides to try again. Fifty people bolt. He freezes. He comes back down to where I was. Just looks at us as if to say, "Make my day." Finally, he scurries on back up the yard and into the woods.

I'll always wonder who he voted for.

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Never Run Out of the Unscented Kind

Attention dude readers and/or those that possibly embarrass easily! The following post is about things we girls call that time of the month and products used during that time of the month. Consider yourself warned.

As a kid, I had horrible allergies. You name it, I was most likely allergic to it. This included all things scented. As I got older, I became immune to most of my allergies, including the "all things scented" ones. Or so I thought.

A few months ago, I grabbed a box of tampons not knowing that I had grabbed the scented ones. (Lesson 1: Read the box before purchase.) Once I realized they were scented, I didn't think TOO much about it, and things were okay.

The following month, that pesky little visitor reared her ugly head at my door, and I again used the scented tampons. I realized, then, that the scented tampons, um, bothered me, I guess is the best way to put it. So, I headed to Target, got unscented ones, and all was well again. I put the scented ones away instead of throwing them away because, ya know, I paid good money for those things and they shouldn't go to waste. SOMEONE may need them.

Enter today. I was going about my morning routine of stumbling out of the bed, to the shower, and stumbling out of the shower (I really should get up earlier and drink coffee before I shower.), and then I realized that I was out of the unscented tampons. All I had were the scented ones.

Imagine this. I'm standing in my bathroom trying to decide whether to chance the scented ones just long enough to get to work and get one of those horrible ones from the bathroom, OR chance an accident. Yes, I actually thought about chancing it with nothing. That's how uncomfortable these things make me. I decided to chance it with the scented ones.

Have you ever witnessed, Flo angry? I mean sure, she gets pouty and grumpy and gives you cramps and bloats you and makes you want chocolate so bad that if you don't get chocolate, heads will roll, but have you seriously really seen her angry?

People, she breathed fired today. Flo decided that since I was going to ignore her refusal of scented tampons, she was going to give me hell. She whined. She bitched. She moaned. And she breathed fire on me ALL DAY LONG. I'm still in pain.

How much do you want to bet I never run out of unscented tampons again?

Dear Flo, I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I'll give you chocolate.

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My Life Began at Thirty

When I talk to people and hear about their past experiences, such as, getting married, having kids, taking vacations, traveling through Europe, experiencing the world, it sometimes makes me sad. Or not really sad, just a little bit out of sorts, I guess is a better way to put it. It makes me realize just how much I HAVEN'T done in my life.

I've never been out of the country. I've only been to a handful of states. Hang on-17 states to be exact. And if I'm being totally honest, I've spent most of my life sitting right here in this city.

If I let myself think on this too much, I could very easily get down on myself for being the scared little girl that I was for so very long. For letting others manipulate what I do and how I think and feel. Sometimes I still do get down on myself.

I think about those years where I let others have such power over me. I used to think myself as weak, but now I realize that I was lost and just begging to be found. I feel very lucky that I didn't let those people truly find me.

I used to regret decisions that I made. I would have so much guilt inside of me that I would literally make myself sick.

I realize now that I was on a path to self discovery. And along the way, while others that I cherish so deeply in my heart now were finding me, I was also finding myself. I realized how very cool the person I found was. (Okay, well, she's a bit oversensitive, but we can't be perfect, right?)

Choices I make now are rarely seen as a regret or laced with guilt. No matter the outcome, every experience in my life happens for a reason. Good or bad, things happen and experiencing these things in life is how we grow. How we learn more about ourselves.

Recently, I took my two year old nephew to the grocery store, and it reminded me of how new to this world he still is. Every day, he learns, and experiences something new and exudes such joy at these new experiences. It's amazing to witness.

Then, I realized that I'm not so different than my nephew. Since discovering who I am, I feel like I'm a brand new person. Just like him. I feel like my life began at thirty. I see the world through such wide eyes, and while some things are extremely disappointing, I realize what a wonderful planet we live on. (We should take better care of it.) How beautiful people can be.

I'm not in the middle of my life. I'm in the beginning of my life, and it's a wonderful place to be.

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Is THIS What Happens at 32?!

I realize that there comes a time as you get older when things just happen. You get more hairs on your chin, staying up late is like 11 p.m., and OMG, did I tell you guys that I found a GREY HAIR yesterday? (Pulled that sucker out.) There is one thing though, that I've decided just magically happens when you turn 32. (Please don't disagree with me on this. It'll kill my day. Seriously.)

I KNOW I used to bitch and moan about always being carded for alcohol. I know that even in my 20's I looked 12, and carding me was necessary, and I SHOULDN'T have been offended. I stupidly was. And I get that as you get older or frequent certain places where you know the waiters/bartenders, carding also isn't going to happen as much. But I swear to you, it's like I turned 32, and I haven't been carded since. (Okay, maybe I've been carded once, but still.)

What the hell? Do I just magically all of a sudden LOOK old? I get that 32 may be ancient when you're 15 and working in a grocery store, but come on, make a woman's day, will you?

I'm just going to be honest, if you're checking me out, and don't ask me for my ID, I'm going to give it to you anyway. And if I'm in the self check out, I may just waive my ID until you come check it.

I seriously had no idea that this would bother me. People warned me. I laughed at them. And here I am offended every time I don't get carded. So, there's a lesson here for all you youngins out there. Don't be offended when you get carded. You're going to turn 32 one day, too.

Now, if you'll excuse me...I'ma go have a beer. *sniff*

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Not for Dad's Eyes. Or Mom's.

Aherm...note to any dude readers or those who may embarrass easily, DO NOT read further. Just know that my dad may or may not have seen something that was not for his eyes. The End. But if you're cool with all things that we'll term, bedroom fun, then please read on. -Management



People, I am a 32 year old single woman. Have been for many, many years now. (Like forever.) I enjoy my single life, yet, I am still a woman, and I still have certain, um, needs that must be satisfied. While I haven't gone too crazy with it, I do have a few certain, um, toys, that I have acquired. There. I said it.

Being a single woman LIVING ALONE, I don't always feel the need to put things away in my bedroom. I mean, really. Who is going to be in there? Right? Right. So, one of said toys may or may not have been laying out in plain sight. Yeah.

So, today I get a text message from my mom saying that they were at my house working on the air conditioning. Up until now, I've been able to deal with the heat. Now that it's getting very HOT and very HUMID, I want to be comfortable. So, long story short, my air conditioning wasn't working, and my dad was fixing it. I knew this would be happening. I did not know this would be happening today.

My mom told me that the air was fixed and did I want it left on? Yes, I thought, wait, no. That would mean that they would have to go into my bedroom to close the windows. Bad idea. So, I told her no, I would turn it on later and that's that.

Ten minutes later, I get another text that they were leaving it on and they shut the windows in my bedroom. Shit. I responded with, I told you I didn't want it on. She asked why. I said because there were things in my bedroom that I didn't want them to see. My mom still wasn't getting it. UGH. She said, that she didn't see anything and that she shut the window by my closet and my dad shut the window above my bed.

Great, mom, I said. That means Dad's the one that saw my bedroom toy. Awesome.

She insisted that he would have told her if he saw something and that he probably wouldn't know what it was anyway. RIGHT. Sure. I believe that.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. Um, yeah.

At first I was mortified. Now, I'm thinking that maybe they'll listen to me when I ask them to or not to do something.

Summer Colds Suck, But 32 Ain't So Bad


My friends, Jessie and Rachael and I have had our beach trip to the Outer Banks, North Carolina planned for months and months. And better yet, it was going to be on my birthday! Yay!

Last Wednesday, I was headed to Bristol, VA to meet Brooke for lunch. On the way down, I felt my throat getting scratchy, but all the signs pointed to it being just allergies. So, I didn't worry too much.

By the time Saturday rolled around, I was in a full on summer cold. I dunno why, but the only time I ever get a cold is in the summer. It SUCKS. Big time. But I powered through it mostly, and I'm thankful that Jessie and Rachael gave me the orders to take it easy a couple of times.

Tuesday was my birthday. I had grand plans of having this super great post about how awesome I am (LOL), and then I had a major computer scare. I won't say what unless those bastards still are keeping an eye on my PC...okay, okay, I know that's probably not the case but I'm telling you, I was ready to throw shit last Friday night.

So, instead, you're getting a post birthday post...

I was kind of dreading the big 3 - 2. I'm not sure why, but it just felt like it was going to be different. I guess, now, I'm firmly into my 30's and I can feel that my body just isn't quite as young as it used to be. It isn't a bad thing. Just different.

During my 31st year, I met many, many of you fine folks, and let me tell you, you are some fabulous people. And even if I haven't met you in person yet, you're still fabulous and I love the promise of one day having that "real life" meeting.

When I think of my life now, I think of the picture above. I took it while we were waiting on a table at a great seafood restaurant in the OBX. (I had this feeling several times while I was at the beach, and this is the motto of people in the OBX, and when you're down there, you can totally see why.) While waiting on our table and watching the sun set, all I could think was yeah, I've had some stressful times here lately, but when I think about it? Think about all of you, my family, and where I'm headed in life, all I can think is.... life is good.

So, let's have it 32.

**sorry there are no links. I just can't get it to work right now, and I may hafta throw things if I mess with it too much**


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A Weekend with the Lil Dude

Last weekend, my mom and I had my nephew for a couple of days. Since he is accustomed to sleeping with his mama, sleeping in his bed at my mom's house is no longer an option.

SO.

I crawled into bed with the already sleeping two year old (who insisted on having his back scratched before falling asleep. I have NO CLUE where he got that from. See my halo?), and he was still for all of 40 mins. I got slapped, punched, kicked, snuggled with, and pushed to the edge of the bed. I think I slept maybe an hour the entire night.

The next morning, my mom opened the bedroom door, he bound out all happy and in a great mood, and I stayed in bed hoping to sleep a bit. Instead, all I heard was shouts of, "Apul! Apul, where are you?" It was too cute to ignore, so I stumbled to the kitchen.

I love to listen to him talk now. I know those of you with toddlers are used to this, but it amazes me that you can actually hold somewhat of a conversation with him.

We were in the car on the way to visit my grandparents. I leaned my head against the window and declared, "I'm sleepy." He said, "I seepy too. I need nap." AWWWW. Little snot.

My uncle handed him a 5 dollar bill (WTH? I got a dollar mostly when I was a kid.). I told him to say thank you and he did. Then when we were leaving, without being prompted, he said in his two year old speak, "Thank you for money!" I was so proud!

Man, I love that boy.


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I Drove Two Hours For Lunch

I woke up this morning, and I jumped in the shower (okay, fine, I stumbled), got ready, and headed out the door. Except that today, I didn't head to work. Nope. I took the day off and drove north for two hours. For lunch.

Thea and I live within spittin' distance of each other(okay, not really, but it is within driving distance!), so we decided to meet up for lunch. I knew I was going to have a fun lunch when she emailed me and said, "Lucky you! You get to meet Emma!"

I honestly love meeting the kids I read about. There's something a little surreal about seeing these magnificent little people that I read cute and hilarious stories about.

Let me just say, I love Emma. When Thea introduced her as shy, Emma looked up and said, "I'm not shy!" I think she has to be the most energetic 5 year old I have ever met. I wish I had her energy. Thea asked me if I liked Emma's mismatched hair consisting of a braid and a pigtail, and then said something like, "I didn't care. She's dressed, so I was happy." And I'm quite certain that at one point, when a battle of the wills was taking place between mother and child, that a full conversation happened telepathically. I'm bummed I missed out on it. (Mother won, by the way.)

Here lately, work has sucked and been stressful and had me crying at my desk. Today was a much needed break away. Thea and I had terrific conversation, and lunch would not have been complete without Emma being there. Thea and Emma, thank you!!

Some people may think we're insane to have driven such a long way for lunch, but I learned a long time ago that life is about enjoying it. If that means driving a bit to spend a few hours with a terrific friend, then I will happily drive. I look forward to lunch with Thea and Emma again!!

Anyone else up for driving a couple of hours for lunch? I'm in!

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They Say I Have Her Feet...

Today would have been my great-grandmother's 102nd birthday. She passed away 12 years ago from that horrible disease that robbed her of her mind.

I can't imagine not knowing who I am or who the people around me are. I'm certain that she had to be scared. In fact, I know she was because the last time I visited her, all memories of me were forgotten, and my mere presence caused her to be so uneasy, that I left her room and went and sat in the car.

My family now looks back at a few of the things that happened and now we can laugh. Time has allowed us to see the humor in some of the situations.

Like the time she tried to hit my mom over the head with a nut bowl and called her a little shit. I had no clue my great-grandmother, who went to church every Sunday, even knew those types of words.

Or the day that she forgot me completely, she looked at me through narrowed eyes, and said to everyone else in the room, "You have to be careful with that one. She's a sneaky one, she is."

Alzheimer's is a horrible, horrible disease that is hard on everyone close to the situation, and those are times I will never forget, but I have found now that her things, things she left to us are what gives me comfort.

Like her hens and chicks that sit by my feet on my front porch right now. Or the start from her lilac bush that is in my back yard. Or the few little knick knacks that I got when we cleaned out her house.

I think my most favorite of all is the fact that a few years after her death, my grandmother and I were swinging on the big front porch swing she has, and she happened to glance down at my feet. She said, "You know you have Mom's feet. Her big toe sat slightly under her 2nd toe just like yours does."

And I looked at her and smiled.

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Embrace Life

In high school, one of the most important things to me was basketball. I loved playing the game, loved figuring out how to win the game, and more than anything, I loved being a part of the team and my teammates. I have such fond memories of my teammates. We had fun. They are a big part of what made me NOT hate high school.

Yesterday, I got word that one of those teammates had passed away.

She graduated three years after me and was a couple inches shorter than me but five thousand times faster than me. She was a true athlete. Every thing that I had to work extra hard for came naturally to her. I always admired that about her.

We ended up attending the same college, but while she played college basketball, I didn't. I can remember being so happy that one (as well as a few others) of my old teammates were on my college's squad.

More recently, we both worked in our downtown area and would see each other from time to time. We always made time to say hi and sometimes talk about the "good ol' days".

Yesterday, her passing reminded me how short life is. How much we should embrace the time we have now, and to follow our hearts. And in the next several months, that's exactly what I plan on doing. Now more than ever, I am even more aware and thankful that I have made the decision to do just that.

Please don't give your condolences to me, but think of her family. They need your thoughts right now. I'm quite happy with my memories of her, and the time we had playing basketball together. It was a pleasure and honor to know her. And my wishes for all of you out there is to take a look at those around you and embrace them.

Life is short. Live life and love it.

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Moments

Melissa wrote a great post that reminded me of this quotation:

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

So, here are a few moments that have taken my breath away...

1. The day my nephew was born. I'm not sure I knew what true love was until the day my brother gently placed his son in my arms. I looked down and the sleeping bundle of blankets, and he sighed. Yeah, I was lost to him right then and there. Even though I know this is something parents like to do, I had to unbundle him and check out all of his fingers and his toes. He may have only weighed 4lbs 9oz, but the love he showed me that day weighed more than the world.

2. My last home game of high school basketball. I was the only senior on the team, struggled with the coach who proudly announced that I had no athletic ability right in front of the team, was not allowed to be captain by that same coach, and I knew that was one of the last competitive games of basketball I'd ever play. My team started chanting my name as I walked across the court with my parents, and every single fan gave me a standing ovation (even the visiting fans). Writing about it still gives me chills. (BTW, I got most improved player that year as voted by my team. So THERE you mean coach you.)

3. Despite my love for Virginia Tech, I did not go to Virginia Tech. I was bribed by Jessie to give a Virginia Tech tailgate a try. The moment I stepped onto campus, I fell for the beauty of the campus and the love that those people had for their school. I'm proud to say that I'm an honorary Hokie. ;o)

4. Joining the blogging world and being accepted and loved and friended by so many of you amazing people. (Yes, that's not ONE moment or day. I don't care. It's my post.)

5. I'm going to have to agree with Melissa on climbing the summit. It was 1.5 miles straight up and there were times that we had to stop and times that I was worried that Melissa would hate me for taking her there and times that it took both me and Melissa to get Kelci up to the next level. (We're not going to mention the one time Kelci just about pulled me down the mountain.) The hike sucked, but to reach the top felt so amazing. It was a fantastic day.

6. I cannot end this post without mentioning Charlotte. My mom and I were just talking about this yesterday. The day we brought her home was THE BEST. We had this brand new puppy, and she slept in my mom's arms while I drove us back home and it was just meant to be. She was the best.dog.ever.

Why don't you share with me and Melissa some of YOUR favorite moments?


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Her Blessing

The one person that I've worried most about hurting in my thoughts and plans of moving is my mom. My mom and I are close. We love to go to antique malls, go to lunch, shop...you name it, we've done it. Sometimes she's my "go-to" gal when no one else is available. I know she loves it, and the thought of leaving her kind of breaks my heart. So, today, when the subject of moving came up, I got a little nervous.

Things at work have change recently. The details are unimportant, and honestly, I think that this is a sign that I need to get my ass in gear. There was a time that I needed to just sit tight because I was in no mental state to try to find something new. But now, things are such that I just don't know how long I can stand going to work every single day. I love my friends at work, and my manager is great, but I know myself enough to know that I need a change.

So, I said to my mom, "I just don't know how I'm going to be able to stand going into that place every day."

Her reply was, "then don't."

That sparked a discussion about moving. And she said, "I've lived my life. It's time that you've live yours."

We talked about visits to each other, where I would go, what kind of job I would look for, and getting my house ready to sell, and it all seems so real now. And instead of having this nagging pain inside of my heart that is worried if my mom is going to be okay, I'm excited to begin this new chapter of my life.

And it's because I have her blessing.

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Time to Fly

Tonight, a segment on the Biggest Loser really hit home. There is a father/daughter team who is very close. The daughter is 24, but obviously still very much under her father's wing. The whole segment was about how the daughter needed to start living her life for her. How she was strong enough to do so, AND how she needed to tell her dad that she was ready to do this.

I can relate to her SO MUCH.

I realized at some point, that I have relied a lot on my parents. I stayed under my parents' wings a lot longer that most people did. There was a time that I had to. I needed them. I had no one else. Or I felt like I had no one else.

Once I felt like I could spread my wings a bit, I was afraid to disappoint my parents. I felt like they need me. And while, I know that they would support me, the thought of hurting them killed me. It still does. And I've stayed put.

Recently, some things in my life, especially on the job front, have made me realize that my future most likely means leaving this beautiful valley that I was born and raised in, the place that I've always called home.

And while I'm nervous and scared about it, I'm also excited. I can hear other places calling my name. I love that a new adventure is just waiting on me. I've slowly been getting my parents used to this idea. (And if I'm being honest, me as well.) This change won't happen overnight because I have some things here to get in order and to take care of before I can leave. I know that my parents will be sad and will miss me (as I will them), they just want me to be happy, and this will always be home. And for the first time, I know they will be okay. We all will.

It's time I spread my wings, and I can't wait to fly.

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Pressure

There once was a little girl who had two loving parents and a brother. Her parents never abused her. They did the best they could to provide for her and her brother. The four of them had really good times and built great memories together.

However, the little girl's father was very hard on her. He never meant it in anyway but to try to raise the little girl into being the best woman she could possibly be. You see, he had a hard childhood with a very poor example as a father, and while that may not excuse the fact that he was hard on his daughter, it was the reason for it. It was the only way he knew how to parent.

He used to tell the little girl that even if you think you've done your best, you can always do better or find a way to improve. That stuck with the little girl so much that for a long time, she felt bad if she brought home a "B" on her report card. She was always the first one at basketball practice and the last one to leave, even when her chances of playing in a game were slim. Anything else would have made her feel like a failure.

As a result, the girl grew into a woman who was extremely hard on herself. She was always afraid to disappoint those she cared most about. Even if it was something little. She did eventually see how self-destructive her ways were, but after a lifetime of feeling such pressure from not only her father, but also from herself, it was a very hard habit to break. In fact, she still struggles with it. She finds herself apologizing even when she doesn't need to or panicking over little things.

She realizes it's hard for people to understand it. Just snap out of it, some say. But she can't just snap out of it. She's stuck. She doesn't sleep, can't focus, her head hurts, her heart hurts. She knows that it's bad and she shouldn't do this, and that just creates more pressure.

Why can't she just let it go? Why can't she just relax? Let it go? Know that everything will work out? God, this hurts, why do I do this to myself? Three nights without sleep and I can't think. Is it dinner time? When did it get dark out? How do I turn my brain off...

Yes, that woman is me. I admit this is an extreme case of what I sometimes go through, and they do happen less often than they used to because I have people in my life now that really help me keep the calm. Most days.

I don't blame my dad for being hard on me. Do I wish he would have realized what he was doing and changed it? Sure, but I'm not angry at how he raised me. How can I be angry with him for his flaws when I have my own?

I'm not sure that I'll ever not be hard on myself. It's like it's deep inside of my brain, and while it doesn't surface as much as it used to, it still surfaces. But I know that I have people, friends, that will pull me out of it, that will hold my hand while I sleep if I need it. They help me see the light.

Because of them, the pressure isn't as bad.

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You Capture: Kisses

Photobucket


Grandma and Clay kisses...PRICELESS.









To see more Kisses, head on over to I Should Be Folding Laundry!

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Today

Today is my brother's 28th birthday. I did not get him a gift, did not send him a card, nor will I be calling him to wish him a happy day.

I've thought long and hard about this post. Should I write it? Should I not? I kind of feel like I'm airing my family's dirty laundry, but I realize now that this post is more about me and my feelings, and isn't that what this blog is about? What it's for?

I've mentioned before how my brother and I cannot seem to get along. Since we were teenagers, it's like we've always been at odds about something. Then a little over a year ago, something happened, and while I don't want to go into the exact details (some of you already know what happened anyway), let's just say that my brother broke my trust in the worst way possible. I trusted that he was the one man that would NEVER hurt me, and he did. To my brother, the alcohol did it. To me, whether alcohol was involved or not, he is the one that hurt me. He is the one who had such anger in his eyes.

In the past year, I've done the best I could to tolerate being around him. For our family's sake. Then a few weeks ago, the straw was broken. I was accused of "questioning my brother's parenting skills" and yelled at and that HE couldn't stand to be around ME. First, let me say, I wasn't questioning skills. I was simply stating a fact about two year olds in general, and the fact that I've been helping take care of little kids since I was 13 qualifies me to make that general statement, I believe. But, maybe I should have just kept my mouth shut.

I know that many of you will think or even say that life is too short. I should forgive him and try to mend fences. While I work every day to try to find forgiveness, the fence isn't merely broken. It's been burned to pieces. Until my brother can learn that he needs to accept responsibility for his actions instead of blaming it on someone else or something else, I cannot waste anymore energy on him or be around him. I know this hurts my family, and for that I'm truly sorry. But I have to take care of me. I have to try to work towards forgiving him, not for his sake but for my own.

I never thought I would be in this position. Not speaking to my brother or trusting him. I realize that I probably haven't been the best of sisters in our lives, and I admit that now, but I refuse to take full responsibility for our problems. And the fact that he can't seem to admit or accept responsibility makes forgiveness that much harder. It makes me feel like I'm not good enough or important enough to him. And really, I guess I'm not.

I could be down today or sulky or sad that today is my brother's birthday and we aren't speaking. I love my brother, but I just can't be around him right now. And that kills me. It really does. But I'm not going to be down. I'm not going to allow myself or give him that control of my life. Instead, I'm going to go to a movie with friends, I'm going to maybe get some candy at that movie. I'm going to celebrate this day because today is the day that my baby brother was born and even though I told my dad to take him back because I asked God for a sister (hey. I was four.), we were great friends for a long time. I'm going to celebrate this day because I have so many people in my life that do care, that do think I'm good enough. I'm going to celebrate this day because today is beautiful (even though it's snowing). And life is good.

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Me On This Winter

A friend sent this to me today, and I'm sure most of you on the east coast get this and may feel the same way. (Or if you just hate snow.) The first snow was great, the rest can suck it. But this made me laugh, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Diary of a Snow Shoveler


December 8: 6:00 PM.

It started to snow. The first snow of the season and the wife and I took our cocktails and sat for hours by the window watching the huge soft flakes drift down from heaven. It looked like a Grandma Moses Print. So romantic we felt like newlyweds again. I love snow!

December 9:

We woke to a beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering every inch of the landscape. What a fantastic sight! Can there be a more lovely place in the Whole World? Moving here was the best idea I've ever had. Shoveled for the first time in years and felt like a boy again. I did both our driveway and the sidewalks. This afternoon the snowplow came along and covered up the sidewalks and closed in the driveway, so I got to shovel again. What a perfect life.

December 12:

The sun has melted all our lovely snow. Such a disappointment. My neighbor tells me not to worry, we'll definitely have a white Christmas. No snow on Christmas would be awful! Bob says we'll have so much snow by the end of winter, that I'll never want to see snow again. I don't think that's possible. Bob is such a nice man I'm glad he's our neighbor.

December 14:

Snow lovely snow! 8" last night. The temperature dropped to -20. The cold makes everything sparkle so. The wind took my breath away, but I warmed up by shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. This is the life! The snowplow came back this afternoon and buried everything again. I didn't realize I would have to do quite this much shoveling, but I'll certainly get back in shape this way. I wish I wouldn't huff and puff so.

December 15:

20 inches forecast. Sold my van and bought a 4x4 Blazer. Bought snow tires for the wife's car and 2 extra shovels. Stocked the freezer. The wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity goes out. I think that's silly. We aren't in Alaska, after all.

December 16:

Ice storm this morning. Fell on my ass on the ice in the driveway putting down salt. Hurt like hell. The wife laughed for an hour, which I think was very cruel.

December 17:

Still way below freezing. Roads are too icy to go anywhere. Electricity was off for 5 hours. I had to pile the blankets on to stay warm. Nothing to do but stare at the wife and try not to irritate her. Guess I should've bought a wood stove, but won't admit it to her. God I hate it when she's right. I can't believe I'm freezing to death in my own living room.

December 20:

Electricity's back on, but had another 14" of the damn stuff last night. More shoveling. Took all day. Damn snowplow came by twice. Tried to find a neighbor kid to shovel, but they said they're too busy playing hockey. I think they're lying. Called the only hardware store around to see about buying a snow blower and they're out. Might have another shipment in March. I think they're lying. Bob says I have to shovel or the city will have it done and bill me. I think he's lying.

December 22:

Bob was right about a white Christmas because 13 more inches of the white shit fell today, and it's so cold it probably won't melt till August. Took me 45 minutes to get all dressed up to go out to shovel and then I had to pee. By the time I got undressed, peed and dressed again. I was too tired to shovel. Tried to hire Bob who has a plow on his truck for the rest of the winter; but he says he's too busy. I think the asshole is lying.

December 23:

Only 2" of snow today. And it warmed up to 0. The wife wanted me to decorate the front of the house this morning. What is she nuts!!! Why didn't she tell me to do that a month ago? She says she did but I think she's lying.

December 24:

6". Snow packed so hard by snowplow, l broke the shovel. Thought I was having a heart attack. If I ever catch the son of a bitch who drives that snowplow, I'll drag him through the snow by his balls. I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shoveling and then he comes down the street at a 100 miles an hour and throws snow all over where I've just been! Tonight the wife wanted me to sing Christmas Carols with her and open our presents, but I was busy watching for the damn snowplow.

December 25:

Merry Christmas. 20 more inches of the !=3D@x@!x!x1 slop tonight. Snowed in. The idea of shoveling makes my blood boil. God I hate the snow! Then the snowplow driver came by asking for a donation and I hit him over the head with my shovel. The wife says I have a bad attitude. I think she's an idiot. If I have to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" one more time, I'm going to kill her.

December 26:

Still snowed in. Why the hell did I ever move here? It was all HER idea. She's really getting on my nerves.

December 27:

Temperature dropped to -30o and the pipes froze.

December 28:

Warmed up to above -50. Still snowed in. THE BITCH is driving me crazy!!!!!

December 29:

10 more inches. Bob says I have to shovel the roof or it could cave in. That's the silliest thing I ever heard. How dumb does he think I am?

December 30:

Roof caved in. The snow plow driver is suing me for a million dollars. The wife went home to her mother. 9" predicted.

December 31:

Set fire to what's left of the house. No more shoveling.

January 8:

I feel so good. I just love those little white pills they keep giving me. Why am I tied to the bed?

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I'm a walking contradiction. While I love to draw, paint and read, I also love all things gadgets, science and even science fiction (I know). My animals (two dogs and two birds) are my heart, and if I could figure out how to legally own a giraffe, I would. That all said, I have my BS in Mathematics. :o)

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