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Archive for November, 2011

(with apologies to Kenny Chesney)

The other day I was driving through the northern end of my county, largely farmland and saw all these great jacked-up farm trucks and hunters’ vehicles. That got me thinking about how much I miss home and the good, old-fashioned country stock that I come from. Yes, believe it or not, this highly-sophisticated girl (yeah, right) is a redneck at heart! I miss mucking stalls and feeding the animals in the brisk morning air. I miss the smell of newly mown hay fields or leaves burning in the fall. I miss the excitement of sales on Wranglers and cowboy boots at the Tractor Supply store.  I miss the days when a good saddle and a pair of good splint boots were the most valuable things I owned. What can I say, I’m just a good redneck girl at heart.

I do have to take this moment to draw a very clear distinction between ‘redneck’ and ‘hillbilly’. A redneck drives a relatively new Dodge Ram pickup truck on lifts with camo trim – a hillbilly drives a 1971 Ford truck with mismatched quarter panels and partially painted with leftover housepaint. A redneck marries a girl who grew up in the country and shares the same values of family, God, and country – a hillbilly marries his cousin. A redneck finished high school, if grudgingly, so that he could get a decent job – a hillbilly can’t even spell his own name. A redneck clings close to his ideals on politics, family values and religion – a hillbilly clings tight to his ignorance.

So we all know that I find a redneck man very attractive! This isn’t a secret, hell it isn’t even a new facet to my personality. I have always been drawn to those rough and tough types, the more rugged and ‘countryfied’ the better. That must explain why I was married to the only black redneck this side of the Mississippi. From his Dale Earnhardt baseball cap (with the fishing hook attached) to his camo sweatshirt to his Carhartt jacket, my ex-husband was ready for a life in the true country. Honestly, I think that was one of the things that most made me love him – he was a through-and-through country boy, skin color be damned.

I have a sincere love for men who are true country, from their John Deere caps to their work boots, farmers tans and all. There is just something uniquely charming to me about a man who grew up in a small town, with a love of the land, a respect for his mamma, and a connection to the human beings around him. They aren’t buried in complicated technology (unless its the newest Case tractor) and don’t let money rule their values systems. They say “good morning” to strangers, help people in need, and consider cutting their own Christmas trees part of the holiday traditions. They reminisce about the good old days when a man’s word was his bond and trade gossip at the farm bureau dinners or over breakfast at the local cafe.

So when I see a big truck or a tractor, I can’t help but look inside to see if there’s a handsome, teddy-bear of a redneck driving it. To me, those sexy trucks symbolize a truly decent man who is in touch with the country that runs in his veins. This isn’t a materialistic thing, don’t get me wrong – it doesn’t have to be a new or expensive vehicle. In fact, a few dings and a layer of mud are even sexier – shows a man who knows his way around the dirt roads. And heaven help that man if he’s towing a trailer – I might just follow him home! I can’t help it – I just think his truck is sexy…

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Thanksgiving is one of those great holidays in the American calendar – all you can eat, togetherness with family and friends, the Macy’s parade, and an excuse to eat a bazillion starch-filled calories. Anyone who knows me knows that the holidays are my absolute favorite time of year! And, this year, I wanted to take a moment to overlook some of the less-appealing aspects of the last few years and remind myself of ALL of the wonderful things that the Lord has given to me and to share that gratitude and thanksgiving with my friends.

So, here are 20 things I am thankful for this year:

1) my parents and brother, who support me, love me, and protect me – they are the 3 people that I admire most in this world and without them I wouldn’t be who I am today

2) four wonderful “babies” who keep me company, snuggle with me, and make me laugh – God doesn’t care that my children are four-legged and furry, right?

2) amazing “sisters”  and friends who are behind me and support me and listen to me whenever I need them, who make me laugh and cry with me, who adopt me into their families, who accept my quirky ways, and without whom I couldn’t survive

3) my guy friends who teach me new things and remind me not to take myself (or life) too seriously

4) a backbone (recently refound after a long absence) that has given me the strength to survive and hold my head up

5) new friends and new hobbies that provide a sense of adventure, a spirit of renewal and rebuilding, and the thrill of life going on

6) my health – it’s been an interesting last 2 months but I am healed, strong, and hopefully on the road to a whole new healthy me

7) a wonderful nirvana called Sprucelands, that saved my life, taught me about the person I wanted to be, and gave me some wonderful lifelong memories and friends – you know it’s a truly special place when, even after almost 20 years, I still include it on my list of God-given gifts!

8 ) a job that I truly love with people that are not only co-workers but good friends – every day is a new adventure in which I am surrounded by caring professionals and fantastic patients and clients
9) a love of travelling that has taken me all over the world and taught me to be accepting and tolerant of a variety of different cultures, ethnicities, and ideologies

10) self-respect  – underappreciated though it may be, I am FINALLY proud to be a good, decent person who has resisted the easy temptations of petty revenge, angry bitterness, and hateful attitudes

11) an open mind, eager to learn and experience new things

12) a sense of unique individuality – when you’re a teenager and a young adult, you don’t appreciate how valuable it is to be your own person but now I realize the gift I’ve been given in being my own special person

13) the beauty of nature around me – green grass, sunny days, snowstorms, sunsets, thunder, hurricane rains, and the bloonms on shrubs, trees, and flowers – we are truly blessed by the world around us

14) the faith to know that God and his army of angels (including some very special grandparents, a wonderful lady named Liz, and the dearly-missed “Curly”) are watching over me and my loved ones

15) a brain in my head – I look around and see so many women who think that their only value and worth is being pretty and dumb – and I am SO glad that I can be an intelligent, strong, independently-minded female in a world that still tries to teach us to be silent and subservient!

16) that I have been brave enough get out of bed every morning and face some tough times and some hard decisions

17) food on my table – there are so many people in the world who can’t have 3 regular meals a day, so I am thankful for easy, affordable, available food supplies (what can I say, fat girl likes to eat!)

18) the brotherhood of the fire department – although they make me want to drink heavily sometimes, I know those guys would be there in a heartbeat to help me if I called

19) a heart full of love – no matter what has happened to me in the past and may happen to me in the future, I have a lot of love to share

20) laughter and tears – two of the most important things a human needs to survive this crazy journey called life

So now that I’ve shared mine, what are the things that YOU are thankful for this Thanksgiving?

My dear friends and faithful readers, I say a prayer of Thanksgiving for all of you on this most important day. Without all of you, the world would be a grayer place. Thank you for the sunshine you bring!

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“Waiting for My Real Life to Begin” by Colin Hay

Yet another inspiration from the iPod. For all of you out there who, like me, are stuck in limbo, who are waiting for the better adventures that MUST be coming soon. For those of us who have all the faith in the world that good things wait for us. And for those of us who, up until now, have not known true love or sincere emotion. For those of us who BELIEVE!

Any minute now, my ship is coming in

I’ll keep checking the horizon

And I’ll stand on the bow, and feel the waves come crashing

Come crashing down, down, down on me
And you say, be still my love

Open up your heart Let the light shine in

Don’t you understand I already have a plan

I’m waiting for my real life to begin
When I woke today, suddenly nothing happened

But in my dreams, I slew the dragon

And down this beaten path, up this cobbled lane

I’m walking in my old footsteps, once again

And you say, just be here now

Forget about the past, your mask is wearing thin

Just let me throw one more dice I know that I can win

I’m waiting for my real life to begin
Any minute now, my ship is coming in

I’ll keep checking the horizon

And I’ll check my machine, there’s sure to be that call

It’s gonna happen soon, soon, oh so very soon

It’s just that times are lean
And you say, be still my love

Open up your heart, let the light shine in

Don’t you understand I already have a plan

I’m waiting for my real life to begin

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My friend Sienna is one of the greatest women I know – because she is a totally free spirit. I have never met anyone who is more open-minded, laid-back, and willing to learn. Sienna will sample any cuisine, give any activity a chance, listem to any music, date any type of guy, and journey to new places – just so she doesn’t miss a single moment of the world around her!

I met Sienna through my friend Stacy, who is one of the other greatest women I know – and almost the exact opposite of Sienna. While Stacy is often reluctant to try some of the more adventurous cuisine that Sienna and I pick out, she CAN be depended on to try almost any activity that might be suggested. She is the ultimately mature, responsible adult – but not afraid to laugh, giggle, cut up and drink massive amounts of wine.

Sometimes I wonder how they first became friends – the two of them are, in so many ways, very different from one another. Stacy has a secure marriage, 2 natural kids and 1 stepdaughter, a house in the suburbs, a sensible vehicle, and a schedule jam-packed with kids’ sports, work, and other parental responsibilities. Sienna, on the other hand, lives in an urban neighborhood, drives a hot rod streetcar, no kids, 2 loser ex-husbands (that she kindly gave numerous chances to become decent human beings), and a schedule full of nights out with friends, exotic restaurants, and studying for her degree. The only thing these women seem to have in common is a love of animals – Stacy has 2 dogs (her good old 14-year old faithful and a young yappy beagle with ADD) and Sienna has 2 shelter kitties and a 3-legged dog.

And yet, while they seem so very different, I have realized that they both have many wonderful qualities that must have drawn them to one another – and me to both of them! I admire so much of both of them – I can only hope that when I grow up I’m just like them!  Loyal, giving, caring friends with nurturing hearts, razor-sharp minds, and spines of steel. They are kind and stable women who do not appreciate the drama that can be created by the troublesome and mean-spirited people in the world. They have very low bullshit tolerances and can be depended on to ‘have your back’ when someone is putting you down. They are wonderfully strong people who have survived disastrous marriages and divorces to come out the other side stronger and better. They are an inspiration to me that better times are coming and are my support network when the tears fall.

So, on this spectrum in which Sienna is The Free Spirit and Stacy is the Sensible One, I think I fall somewhere in between the two of them. I am so glad to have them in my life because they supply the balance I need to stay strong and stable myself. What I would do without Stacy to check in on me when I’ve withdrawn into my sad place or Sienna to suggest I watch a mystery show about two lesbians who kill a midget, without Stacy to include me in her family holidays or Sienna to commiserate with about the truly frightening single men out there.

So, I raise a glass to you, ladies, and send my thanks for the inspiration, the caring, and the laughs!

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 So I was driving home from work a few weeks ago and saw this simple statement written on a sign board for one of the more….uh…fundamentalist churches here in Easton. And, while I generally don’t agree with the statements this particular church posts (don’t start sending me hate mail, I just don’t agree with some of their beliefs), this particular statement really got me thinking.

I admit that, for the past several weeks, I have been a tidbit grouchy. Perhaps its the keen sense of loss and grief I feel for the act of eating and enjoying a meal, perhaps it was the surgical experience of having my guts scrambled. Perhaps its the culmination of the past several years of stress, or maybe it was just because I have bottled up too much anxiety lately and it’s starting to manifest. Regardless of the reason, I have been grouchy and grumpy.

But this sign gives me a sharp dose of reality. I should be grateful for the wonderful things and people I have in my life. I have my health (came through the surgery with flying colors, according to the surgeon this week), I have a roof over my head (at least for the time being), I have family and friends near and far, I have a strong fire department family. I have a job that I love and which challenges me daily and I have fantastic, caring coworkers. I have a strong brain and a stronger character (hence why I have lived the last 2 years without one single spiteful action – yay me!). I have hobbies and activities that give me an outlet for stress. I have food in my pantry (which someday I’ll get to eat again) and I have heat in the winter and A/C in the summer. I have a wide and diverse group of people that I truly care about.  I have four-legged furry children who love me unconditionally. What amazing things do you have in your life to be grateful for? What people can cheer you up, make you laugh, help you out, cry with you, and love you always? What blessings have YOU been given?

November means Thanksgiving and I think too often we forget the origins of the holiday – thanks giving! So instead of grumbling and being grouchy this month, I think I’ll choose the “humbly grateful” option. Thank you Lord for giving me life, friends, family and love. Thank you Father for giving me a life that is filled with laughs and lessons. Thank you God for the challenges and obstacles you have given me – it has made me stronger, wiser, and more tolerant. I am truly grateful and humbled by the blessings you have given to me.

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Today is what I would (now and probably forever) consider a bittersweet day in my life – today would have been my wedding anniversary. I look back at the young and trusting person that I was just those 6 short years ago when we got married and I weep for the innocence lost and the dreams and memories that I will never make. I mourn the death of that marriage – I loved that man and I liked being married. I mourn for the happy person that I was that beautiful autumn day and I am sad for the good, decent man who has become not so much.

Now, I do fully understand how lucky I am to be out of  my marriage. Staying with a man who had been unfaithful and dishonest with me for the entire length of our relationship would have been foolish and toxic. Continuing to try to fix an unfixable situation would have eventually caused major psychic and physical damage to me. I spent so much time and emotional energy trying to make myself more attractive, interesting, and appealing to him – not knowing that he was…uh…otherwise involved. I am jumping for joy at the independence and stability that I have earned since ending things with him. I am eternally grateful that the Lord only burdened me with him for the short time – its only 10 years of my life gone, after all. I truly am a stronger person now having gone through all of this and I can hold my head high that I did nothing wrong except to love the wrong person.

However, with all that said, I am still sad today. As much as my mind tells me how lucky I am to be out, my heart still breaks for what I have lost. A few tears may be shed at some point today for the scars that I bear and the hurts that I still carry because of that once-happy day 6 years ago.

I will pray, once more, for forgiveness to enter my heart and for the hurts to go away. And I will give prayers of thanks for the stronger person I am now. Like I said, a very bittersweet day indeed…

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Six years ago tonight, I was in the final stages of wedding planning – and my best friend Stacy was in the final stages of giving birth. Poor Stacy had, unfortunately, not been able to be in the wedding party because of her due date, which was supposed to be 2 days after the big day – but she did more than her share of helping with the showers, the bachelorette weekend, and the endless planning. She had been a shoulder to cry on, a voice of reason, and my sounding board for the entire engagement – while planning to give birth to her 2nd child. That baby must have been on wedding overdose because he came 5 days early, just in time to be present at the wedding. Yes, folks, my wonderful “sister” Stacy came to a wedding 3 days after giving birth – and bringing that wonderful baby with her!

Little did I know how much that baby boy would come to mean to me. I was asked to be his godmother and proudly I can state that I have been there for pretty much every major event in his young life. I am “Aunt Becky” to he and his sister and I can’t imagine a day without news from their house. That wonderful baby boy, Bryce, is truly the light of my life!

Sadly, he adored his Uncle Daryl (the asshat ex) and is still somewhat baffled as to why he isn’t part of our lives anymore. But, when he ran into Daryl and the mistress at the ball park this past summer, I am told he didn’t care about the hurts or the absences – he ran up to him for a hug and immediately started catching up. Truly a life lesson I should pay attention – people you love are important, no matter what.

I have watched my Bryce grow from an infant who we could cuddle and cart around with us to an independent 2- and 3-year old who wanted to do everything for himself. Now he is 6 years old and off to school every day – learning his alphabet, numbers, counting, and all those other fun things that kindegarteners do. It has been quite a ride and I am so fully blessed to have been part of that life! From the moment he was born, that boy has meant the world to me!

So here we are 6 years later. While the marriage has shattered and that wedding now seems a distant memory, I still have that wonderful kid in my life! It’s almost worth it, though – Bryce is one hell of a lot better a human being than the ex is! If I could only keep one, I’m glad it’s Bryce!

So, Bryce Andrew, on your 6th birthday, I wish you a VERY happy day! Your Aunt Becky loves you very much and can’t wait for the next wonderful adventure! We’ve come a long way, kiddo, you and I – so glad that I have your little hand to hold in mine and the love for you in my heart! Happy birthday buddy!

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