Flying in the Face of Sanity

Did I say that, mention sanity and flight in the same sentence. Could it be I have finally lost what little true lucidity I have left and crossed over into the land of la-la. This could be the case, but as I look at the end of another year of mileage and other sundry programs that award me for spending my life away from home I am forced to take stock.

It is important to understand what I do for a living; I am a consultant or as one of my favorite customers once said during a heated debate;

“Well Val, that is because you are a Conslutant”, at which point he grew beat red and

Mattel Archives

fumbled mightily for a way out of his Freudian Slip. Being the wonderful Conslutant that I am I gave him one, I smiled sweetly and said, “Why no George, I am not a Conslutant at all, you pay me very well for my services and thus I think there might be another name for what I am”. While the Steering Committee of the very proper southern State Board of Education stared mouths agape, both George and I burst out laughing and all was right with the world once again. Freudian Slips forgotten and the heated debate regarding the state of the project picked up where it left off.

Nevertheless, I am a Consultant, to be precise I am Project Manager big IT projects. I have been working in this capacity for twenty years. For the past five I have worked as an independent, meaning sometimes I get to pick my customers but most of the time I scramble for new contracts. The other thing this means is I spend a great deal of time in airports, airplanes and hotel rooms; that is away from home.

The Mile High Club

Get your mind out of the gutter it isn’t what you think! Those of us who spend a significant portion of our lives catching catnaps in the air belong to a unique club. We know the secrets of getting through long check in lines, security is a breeze and we generally don’t

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stress when our flights are delayed. Why you ask? The answer is simple this is our life.

We make friends with the people at ticket counters we know their names, sometimes even the names of their children; we see them week after week. TSA agents greet us by name; we take the same flights week after week and are on the same schedules. Flight attendants know us and we continue conversations from the previous week with them, sharing war stories of our time in the air, bad passengers and the changes since the airline has cut back services.

How many miles can a single person fly? 3,722,902 – you read that right. Three million seven hundred twenty-two thousand nine hundred and two. Those are the approximate miles I have flown between four main airlines in the past twenty years. It is likely a bit more, but many miles have fallen through the cracks of bankruptcy, mergers and sundry other incidents of flying life. To be perfectly anal about this that works out to be five hundred and ten (510) miles per day every single day for twenty years.

The Road Less Traveled

Now of course I didn’t fly every day. Didn’t even fly every week. Most weeks but not every week. In fact there were entire years during this period where I actually I stayed in one place and was able to act just like a normal person, commuting to and from an office on a road rather than in an airplane, I found the experience far more stressful. When people ask how I can stand to fly every week I point out if they live and work in any metropolitan city in the US they likely spend up and hour or more each way in the car five days per week. They are subject to road rage, incautious drivers, traffic jams and many other terrible inconveniences. I on the other hand am met at the airport where my car is valet parked, I rarely stand in long lines, I always board the plane first, my commute consists of sitting back while others ‘drive’ and I catnap.

I don’t want to glamorize my commute, believe me there is nothing glamorous about it at all. Every privilege I have has been earned by bad food, rude seatmates, long layovers, delayed flights and being away from home.

I am starting this series here, more to come on Flying in the Face of Sanity.

The Wife Book

The big secret passed down from mother to daughter with all the rules. We have it and talk about it in whispers; we share it amongst ourselves and periodically change the rules to ensure they are up-to-date. The Wife Book has been in existence since marriage has been a state of union between Men and Women. The Wife Book is the secret we keep from men, it is the one thing we have men will never be privy too.

I know you believe women share THE BIG SECRET, The Wife Book. You even discuss it amongst yourselves the incomprehensible behavior of your wives, then discover the consistency of the ‘rules’ and ‘demands’. Those nights out with the boys turn into ‘bitch’ sessions, not that you would ever admit to this. This is how the legend grows of the secret Wife Book.

Stop to Think

In throes of your complaints, do you stop to think? While you are discussing the similarities of your wives and their complaints, do you ever scratch your heads and say to yourselves, “perhaps it isn’t the secret book at all but us?” It is my suspicion that you do not. It is far easier to blame the enigma that is your wife than to question your own actions within the context of your marriage.

The Harridan in Your Bed

What happened to that beautiful woman you married? Her make-up is running, her words

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are unsweetened, clothing pulled out of the dirty clothes hamper and she continually nags you to put about your dirty dishes. She wasn’t like this before the wedding, by damned you think you might have been tricked! Sex? You aren’t getting it nightly the way you expected either, she says if she wasn’t so tired and she felt more ‘cared for’ she might be in the mood more often.

What does that mean anyway? You don’t have to love what I love only love me enough to participate or act.

Answering the Question – The Wife Book

Remember the question of why is marriage so hard( Where’s the Manual)? All of us enter marriage with expectations, women with a more detailed list of expectations than men; thus the Wife Book. Women are by far the more complex of the partners in a marriage this is a known fact. They have entered the marriage with an ideal in their mind of what their marriage will look like, feel like and what elements it will include.

The odd thing is most of those elements are consistent among modern wife’s it is simply a matter of the modern husband catching up. Many of the elements of a modern marriage are considered still anathema by men. In some cases less than manly. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning what women want, what is part of the secret Wife Book.

Dirty Dishes meet Dishwasher, no I am not your dishwasher it is that large appliance next to the sink where for some reason your dishes always seem to land as if waiting for me to complete the process.

Remote Control meet sharing, yes there are two of us in the house and your desire to watch only sports or bloody combat is hampering our time together. I know it is delightful the cable networks now have 100+ sports channels however; this doesn’t mean you must watch them all day.

If you want food on the table at a specific time every night, learn to cook! We are not your servant, we aren’t paid and it is likely we also have jobs.

The list goes on and on, ad infinitum.  This doesn’t even address the issue of date nights and why your wife doesn’t consider a Sports Bar with the Boys a Date. The real issue is one of discussion and compromise. Your wife really doesn’t have a Wife Book, what she likely has is a list of complaints that you aren’t responding too. The longer you don’t respond the longer the list becomes and the more hurt your wife is by your lack of response to her needs. Thus the lack of SEX in your marriage.

Do you have needs and wants in your marriage? Certainly, everyone does. Marriage is nothing but a compromise between partners. This dealt only with the secret Wife Book. Feel free to tell me about the Husband Book.

Random Thoughts after a Day at the Mall

Babies are not in most cases Beautiful

Sorry Moms and Dads, you are the only ones that believe your newborn infants are the

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human version of the Sistine Chapel. When parents proudly show me pictures of their new creation, gibbering at the perfection of their red-faced hairless wonder, here are my standard responses;

  1. Lovely, you must be so happy (he/she) has finally arrived. Congratulations (this is my first attempt at kindness).
  2. Interesting child, I am sure they will be quite bright (sarcasm is free and generally goes directly over the head of the proud parent who is still in throes of passionate first love with child).
  3. Hmmm, did they use forceps? I am sure nothing was permanently damaged, perhaps it is just the lighting (sarcasm again goes over the head of the ecstatic parent).
  4. Finally…..He/She looks just like you, I am sure they will grow into it.

Parents are Deaf, I am Not

Women were provided with maternal instincts to prevent them from eating their own young. This is a true statement. The rest of us must obey laws that prevent us from beating your children when they act out in public places. This is also a true statement.

You have been listening to that high-pitched wail for so long you are immune, the rest of us are not. Do the public a service when your child begins to get loud, otherwise act out remove them. All you need to do is step outside and beat them; just a couple of good swift swats straight across that narrow behind of theirs will stop that bad azzed behavior straight away.

Restaurants – I am paying to enjoy a meal with spouse, friends or business associates. Why do you believe a perfect accompaniment to my meal is the sound of your child? Worse, why have you brought your child in public prior to teaching them basic table manners?

Stores & Malls – keep your child on a leash or in the cart. Just because they want to wander, doesn’t mean they should. Who is in charge? Should the safety of the child be considered in this case, your fellow shoppers do not want to be accosted by them or have to take them to lost and found when you fail to manage them adequately.

Finally – my house! If I send an Adult Only invitation to a soirée please do pay attention to that part that says Adults Only. Either decline the invitation or get a babysitter, there will not be one onsite. Your bad azzed children may be the very reason for the specificity of the invitation!

When you do bring your children, keep them under control! On those occasions they are invited along with you, please remember; My house is not kid friendly. I expect that you will respect I am an empty nester who doesn’t provide ‘child’ entertainment on a regular basis.

Airports & Airplanesrequires an entire post all of its own.

I don’t want anyone to think I hate children, I don’t. I do however, dislike intensely parents who don’t educate and train their children to behave properly in company and public. I am not overly fond of parents who bring endless streams of pictures and ask strangers and casual acquaintances to fawn over them.

We all love our own children; sometimes we love other people’s children. If we are honest, though we rarely love or even like ill-mannered children, even our own. Most of us at one time or another have wanted to walk up to some parent in a store or restaurant and ask them to beat their child or at least leave so we could enjoy the remainder or our outing in peace.

Perhaps I am more sensitive to this than others, if I offend my apologies. But then if I offend I suspect it is because you know I might just be right.

Mirror Images, Meet the Parents


My “Real” Mom, 1979

You have my face”. These were the first words I blurted out to my biological mother the day we met. It was shocking to finally meet her and thus meet someone who looked like me.It wasn’t I looked a little like her. I stared in stunned silence at my mirror image. Were it not for the fact I colored my hair and didn’t worship the sun, we would have passed for sisters.My mother and I are the same generation being only 16 years apart in age.

Meet the Parent!

You might have guessed I am adopted (Family Ties, Part II/), and I met my biological mother. What may come as a surprise is what else I found; my mother and father married after my birth and had five more children before divorcing. She dropped that bombshell at our first meeting. I felt like my head was going to explode or my heart would stop. I wasn’t  sure what to do with the information; it certainly wasn’t what I expected to hear. The only emotion I had for weeks, even months was, how surreal.

For months our relationship was comparable to the beginning of a new romance. Wanting to know about the other one, who they are and what they like. It was strange and oft times rocky, as romances are want to be. Neither of us was mature enough to understand our motives or emotions so our relationship floundered horribly. Both of us ended up wounded and disappointed in the other; unable to find the balance needed to sustain a healthy relationship we wounded each other and eventually drifted apart.

Our failures, looking back were mutual though unspoken. For my mother her need to re-parent me was dominant. I was in my early twenties, grown and angry parenting was the last thing I wanted from anyone. I had parents, they had failed me miserably, why would I want another parent, especially someone I didn’t know and who had fundamentally failed me once already. I was if nothing else terribly judgmental.

My mother carried a great deal of guilt for giving me up and she wanted forgiveness. Intellectually I understood the circumstances. I spoke the words more than once; even tried to make her understand I did not blame her. Nevertheless, looking back there was a thread of anger through our relationship  partly driven by her guilt and partly driven by my terrible hurt, they married and had more children!

Nature – v – Nurture

When I consider this question in light of my tangled roots I think we are an amalgamation

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of many things combined to create the whole person. My mother was told by a Channeler when she found me she would meet the daughter most like her. Boy was he wrong! I was most like her only in appearance, in all other aspects I was very dissimilar. I suspect this was a horrible disappointment. In one of our more acrimonious discussions I told her she had given up the right to parent me, I had parents and their values, mores and ethics had formed me Thank God. Yes, I said that, it was cruel and looking back it was also unnecessary.

Truthfully? I always saw bits of my mother in me, more than the mirror image. There were times when my mother would say or do something and I would think, that is where that comes from that is why I do that. Those times would stun me into silence.

There were days I wanted desperately to be like my mother so she would love me, so she would like me so she would embrace me and even nurture me. I found in the end I was to stubbornly formed already by what had gone before and could not shift my core to become who she needed. In seeking her I sought the mother I had not had, I know this now. In unconsciously rejecting her conditions I began to embrace who I would become but lost the opportunity to know her and for her to know me.

I haven’t seen or spoken to my biological mother in over ten years. I wouldn’t even know where to begin healing the rift.

My friend and fellow blogger recently wrote Nurture Strength which provides great insight into the Nature -v – Nurture argument. I hope you will read it.

More to come on the oddities of Nature –v- Nurture, Fathers, Brothers and Sisters oh my !

In-Laws, Outlaws and the Inbetween

For Better or Worse, that isn’t a question but rather part of the vows most of us blithely repeat during our wedding ceremonies. As the minister pronounces us married and we kiss our newly minted spouse, dreams of our future waltz across the polished dance floor. We turn from the minister to our newly minted family; all dressed in their Sunday-go-to-meeting best never realizing monsters lurk beneath the smiling faces sitting in the pews.

Don’t get me wrong, some of these lovely people don’t intend to ruin your life. Truthfully, some are well-meaning monsters who simply have no brought-upsie that is they were not beaten within an inch of their lives when they were children. Others, well they are simply Azzhats and your happiness annoys them. Then there are those who believe they are helping you and don’t comprehend how their help could possibly be seen as interference. These lovelies are not just on your spouse’s side of the family, oh no indeed they are all running rampant throughout and you both need to know how to spot them and take them down.

The Out-Laws

The Oblivious Out-Law – these poor dears are unaware of their jaunts into the land of offensive.  Saying and doing things that would cause most of us hesitation. The Out-Law of Rude generally fails to maintain connections between their brains and their mouths, it isn’t their fault though (I try to give the benefit of the doubt). Example from my own family annuals:

“I read recently that the only reason a younger man would date or marry an older woman is to use her for her money. No younger man would ever find an older woman sexually attractive.” Said by my sister during a family get together; uhmm, Sister Dear, husband and I have a nineteen year age gap and have been married a decade. Shocked silence all around as my sister smiles while attempting to remove foot from mouth, oh will it doesn’t apply to you; ya’ll are obviously different right?’

The Judgment Out-Law – this is one that believes no matter what one of you will never be good enough for the other. Usually one of the mothers, Heaven help you if it is both. This Out-Law will never release their hold and will spend a significant amount of energy pointing out the faults of the partner. If the Judgment Out-Law is also the family Matriarch you are in trouble before you get started, nipping the problem early is the only way to win this war or you will find the entire family against you before you have a chance to settle in. The only way to win this is your partner must be willing to stand up to his/her meddlesome parent, reminding them you are now the spouse and first.

The Helpful Out-Law – this one is always there willing to assist with anything and everything, for a price. Clean your house, mow your lawn, do your shopping, watch your dog anything you might need this Out Law is the one to call, actually they might be calling you. Problem is with this one they are also usually there watching your TV, eating your food and otherwise disrupting your privacy. They have no sense of boundaries, hell for the most part they have no sense. The Helpful Out-Law will sleep on your couch if you let them, borrow money and your car (to do your shopping) and when things go South they will tell the entire family all your secrets including those you don’t have. The only way to prevent this outlaw from taking over your life is not to let them in. Decline their assistance unless you have no choice, say you are in full traction for example. Only invite them over during family get-togethers’ when there is a buffer between you and them.

Those are just three of the Out-Laws you will without doubt find in your new family tree. The funny thing is, some of them will be hanging from the branches of your tree and you simply didn’t know they were there until the fateful day you married. Marriage changes everything!

More on In-Laws and Out-Laws from my own hysterical family later. Stay tuned.

Next Chapter: Compromise Isn’t Everything or What’s Love Have to Do with It?

Family Ties Part II

Adoption – Families Created

I am adopted. Growing up my parents tried hard to create the ideal family. The

Captured Family 1964

undercurrent of loathing that permeated our home couldn’t be missed except by the most oblivious observer. Observers like those that placed two infants into this highly dysfunctional home.

My father, my Daddy, my Hero, my true heart. He passed November 2009 I miss him every day. He was not without faults and we did not always have a close relationship, in fact it wasn’t until I was an adult I appreciated who he was as a person, by then he had mellowed significantly from the man who raised me.

My mother, my nemesis yet still the woman who significantly influenced me, is still alive and kicking at 91 years. I will never understand her though I have insight into some of what made her tick.

I have one younger brother also adopted, through our lifetime we have had our battles and even  periods where we barely communicated yet he remains my adored baby brother.

My parents divorced nearly 40 years ago, despite they both wanted it, I heard it was extremely acrimonious . They had stayed together far too long “for the sake of the children”. At the time my brother was still living at home, I was a runaway, they had no idea if they would ever see me again.


Growing up I dreamed my ‘real’ parents would rescue me. Some days they were gypsies and would whisk me off in their wagons for adventures. Other days my father would arrive

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in his limousine and explain it was all a terrible mistake that he had been searching for me ever since the Wicked Witch had stolen me from the hospital. I had a vivid imagination as a child.

My mother had a rich imagination as well, hers was crueler and entailed taunts, ‘You are just like your mother’. This was a favorite and I often wondered what she knew that she wasn’t telling me. Some days I would probe for answers, I wanted to know where I came from. It became a game with me begging for answers and her taunting she knew more than she did, more than she was telling.

Different Realities

My brother and I have very different versions of our childhood. There are days I wonder if we grew up with the same parents in the same household. I grew up hurt, angry and always the outsider. He grew up knowing he was adored, by all of us and always the insider. The only person that he was ever really angry at was me, I often wondered if he was angry that I left or angry that I returned; I don’t think he really knows the answer.

Forgive and forget, he believes it is my duty that she is my mother. He even says she told him she was sorry she hurt me. My only response to this is one of stunned silence, really? In all the years of our stand-off, all the years where I have stood silently waiting for her to acknowledge the harm she did in her wrath and jealous rages not once has she said “I am sorry” so why now should I allow that it is fine because she told her beloved son what I waited thirty-five years to hear.

Consequences, there always are some for any act. I know her history and I am sorry for the hurt she suffered at the hands of her own parents and even at the hands of my father. She brought her broken heart and psychosis to a marriage and then to child rearing, it was an unfortunate combination she and I.

Family Ties II

Families can be created through the great gift of adoption. My experience as an adopted child is not the norm. My mother and I were a toxic combination that no one could have

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predicted though looking more closely at my parents’ marriage might have prevented their being candidates for adoption at all. Hindsight is 20/20 and I don’t know the state of their marriage at the time of my or my brothers’ adoption, only after the fact and only the history from speaking to those who knew them then.

I am not sorry I was adopted, not even sorry that I was adopted by this couple. Might my life have been different under different circumstances with different parents? Certainly, but I would be who I am and I would have the family I have, good – bad – indifferent they are nonetheless my family.

Family Ties, Part III – Nature versus Nurture

Marriage, Where’s the Manual


Pass the Instruction Manual

Oh wait there isn’t one? Why is marriage so hard is a frequently asked question the answer isn’t easy but then again, maybe it is. Marriage is hard because there are no guarantees.

When we marry, we are binding ourselves to one another, body and soul and all the other important bits. It  may seem body and soul should be the most important, but reality bites. It is rarely lack of love that causes marriages to crumble; money, career and family pressures are often the reasons why marriages dissolve. Love alone simply does not conquer all. Couples today, whether young or older, face so many outside stressors and that, along with the combining of two or more lives, is what makes marriage hard.

Why is marriage hard? Because it is impossible to be prepared for the reality of marriage.

When you marry, it should be because you can see yourself in the future with the other person just as they are, but older. You appreciate who they are and enjoy their company.

My Parents

You value them as a friend, a lover and desire them, as they are with all their quirks and idiosyncrasies. In short, you like them just as they are. When you marry, you shouldn’t marry with a list in your head of how you are going to change them, tweak them so they will be perfect. You should think their imperfections make them perfect for you.

When we marry it is the partnership of two adults. Today people are waiting to marry until later in life, thus they have the opportunity to form their personalities and their personal living styles to a much greater degree than in the past. Unless the couple has lived together for some time prior to marriage, many of the day-to-day quirks will come as a surprise to their new partner once the honeymoon is over.

The Honeymoon is Over Now What?

What do I mean by living styles? These are the day-to-day quirks we develop. The habits that become ingrained as we mature such as how we maintain our homes or whether we watch television in bed, sleep with a light on or off. From the mundane to the truly trivial things that never bothered you, maybe you even found endearing during your courting days now annoy the hell out of you; they all become fodder for the list of annoyances you might build in your head. The question begins to arise, “what have I done?

Do you speak out early and find compromises? Do you dampen down your annoyance until

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it rushes out during an argument about something else entirely? Surprising how the little things in life can add up during a marriage so over time they become a herd of elephants in the living room each with a name from your list.

Did I do it Right or Just Ignore the Obvious?

Finally there is the Big Kahuna, Money. One of the more difficult discussions to have is the finance talk. Without frank discussion eventually this one will rear its head and it can

Money Wars

be ugly if there hasn’t been honest disclosure prior to the marriage. How individuals handle money can be a source of great contention, which is especially true for those couples who marry later in life. Agreement on how to handle money within a marriage is something to do prior to the “I Do’s” not after the fact. Agreement on what is “yours, mine and ours” will create early trust and establish the boundaries of financial responsibility.

Why is marriage hard? You tell me.

The Family Blend In-Laws & Out-Laws, Part Two of Why Marriage is Hard

Family Ties

Family ties what are they and how do they affect our lives for good or ill. There are any

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number of books we can read, television shows we can watch, even movies we can see depicting both the ideal and the dysfunctional. In the 50’s there were the Cleavers of Leave it to Beaver, the Nelsons of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and the Andersons of Father Knows Best. Although in the 60’s and even in the 70’s there continued to be idealized versions of families portrayed on television and even in movies these classics taught a generation what families were supposed to be.

The Juggling Act – Our New Reality

Jump to reality and it doesn’t seem these portrayals are achievable in today’s highly volatile society; truthfully, perhaps not even desirable. In an age where we regularly relocate families across country and even across the globe we lose touch easily with our


extended families for weeks, months, even years at a time. With the advent of women in the workplace, two income families just to pay the bills, reproductive choices and women waiting longer for both marriage and children there are changes to how we view family and our ties to them. Add the other side of the coin, the number of single parent households most of them led by women, and finally the number of grandparents raising children today. What we have today is anything but the stylized ideal of the past.

What does this mean in relation to family and how we define them today?  

My family is an amalgamation of biological members, adopted members, married in members, and step-members. I have different relationships with each and with some, I have made a conscious decision to limit my relationship. Others have made similar decisions to limit their relations and contact with me. So again, I have to ask how meaningful are family ties versus other relationships.

My answer is that they are what we choose them to be.

Throughout the years, we form relationships, friendships and lovers come and go. Some stay longer than others and become part of our extended families through marriage or otherwise. In the world today, we no longer stay in one place our entire life, we move for

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work, to marry, to attend school. We are besieged with the countless objects we must juggle day-to-day simply to so our lives run smoothly. Unlike past times, we frequently do not have extended family to support and assist us in emergencies; instead relying upon friends or even paid for services.

Family ties, what are they really? Do we create families as we progress through our lives, piecing them together with friends and relations? I have other relationships that I would more easily call family than those related to me by blood, marriage or family history. I don’t believe that we owe love, allegiance, or even respect to those who don’t treat us well simply because they are family. Ultimately, we create our family made of people who we care for and who care for us. Those ties of love, care, sacrifice, and yes-shared laughter are what keep us bound together, these are the true family ties.

More to come.

Womanhood in the 21st Century

Women around the World (Image)

The Art of being a Woman

I wonder what makes us women. Is it what we show on the outside? Breasts, hips, nipped in waists or something else entirely. Is it our wombs, our ability to bear children? Then are

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those of us who have never borne a child whether by choice or otherwise; are we somehow something less? At just one day short of 16 I lost my ability to bear children, no it wasn’t an accident or a choice, but that is a story for a different day. For years, I believed I was less than other women, somehow not worthy. Certainly, my own siblings have told me “I wouldn’t understand certain things because I am not a mother”.

Is it Motherhood?

But wait, I am a mother I helped raise two sons, didn’t I? Another woman can claim them; nevertheless, my compassion opened my home and heart. They are in part mine, children of my heart. It doesn’t count, I am told. I think that it might, in the scheme of things it counts toward being uniquely me, that empathy. I think that the opening of my heart and home to them and that they still hold my heart captive, I think it might count toward my distinctive womanhood.

Plank Walking or Sitting the Fence

Women on the Brink (postershop)

Being a woman, still pondering the definitions. I am strong and resilient in both body and soul. Is this a feature of my gender, I wonder? I was able to survive both physical and emotional hardships where others of either gender might not have. Could my ability to survive and even thrive against extreme odds be my gender or is it just my personal resilience? I have concluded that it is simply me. When I consider the attributes that make me who I am none of them seem to be gender specific; Humor, intelligence, compassion, strength of character, morals, ethics and competitiveness. These don’t seem to be gender specific just my personal nature.

So this leaves me wondering still about the uniqueness of being a woman. It cannot be

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physical attributes alone that make us women. It cannot be our ability to give birth as the sole defining attribute; I have parented without giving birth and am also an adopted child.

For me being a woman is a journey of self-discovery. If I stumbled along the way, it is because I have allowed others to classify me in a manner that does not fit who I am as a person or as a woman. As I get older, I gain more clarity that the labels society uses to define us are more for their comfort than for ours. I don’t buy the labels anymore though I acknowledge them. In the past, I bought them even pinned them to my coat, they hurt me more often than not.


Being a woman, I am uniquely myself. There are times I am considered controversial by

Just Me, Really

others; I can live with this. There are times I am considered outspoken; I can live with this as well. I am loyal to those I care for. Cautious about whom I trust. I admit to rarely giving people a second chance, something I should work on in the future. Being a woman, I think that we are simply individuals born with gender specification. Nothing special until we create for ourselves that which makes us unique.

When Lightening Strikes

If you haven’t the strength to impose your own terms upon life, you must accept the terms it offers you. T.S Eliot

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I found that quote years ago while sitting in yet another doctor’s waiting room. It stuck with me. It had been eighteen months since the shooting and I was waiting to find out if I could stop wearing the hard brace. This was my third and hopefully last time with this piece of ugly that wrapped itself around my neck digging into my collarbone and leaving permanent bruises on my shoulders. There were days I felt like  one of the Giraffe Women of Burma.

Still Mad at the World

Up to this point, I had seen more doctors than I could remember. I had already had eight surgeries including the removal of the bullet in my

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forearm which was a very public event attended by two police officers who took the intact bullet as evidence, that was a treat. I had seen the useless psychologist who specialized in victims of violent crime, his contribution to my recovery was an hours’ worth of, repeat after me, “you have a right to feel that way.” Well hell, I knew that when I got here fool, which unfortunately slipped out of my mouth before I could stop it, my bad. He suggested he might not be the best person to help me, really you think.

Now here I was, sitting in my Neurosurgeons office thumbing through a magazine and there it was my epiphany.

Wow, just Wow

What was I going to do with my new circumstances? I couldn’t change them; there wasn’t a single thing I could do that was going to undo what happened. The real questions I had to ask were these  –

Are you going to be a Victim?

Are you going to be a Survivor?

Or are you going to be something more, are you going to be Victorious?

The answer was clear, getting there not so clear. The path wasn’t at all obvious or straight,

My Road Image My.Opera

not then and truthfully not ever. In fact, even now, nearly twenty years later, I find myself on roads filled with potholes, switchbacks and what feel like insurmountable steep climbs.There are days I want to pull over to the side of the road of my life, curl up and give up. It isn’t fair I think in the back of my mind, that small voice whispers to me, ‘just lay down, someone will come along shortly’.  The truth is, though I have many wonderful people in my life, always have had, the only one that will come along is me. The only person that can force that next step is me, even when it hurts like hell it is still me.

From Victim to Survivor to Victorious

There is no life without bumps in the road, I accept that my life is no different from others. My bumps might be different they are still just bumps. I have been fortunate in my journey of discovery and recovery to meet some amazing people with similar bumps as mine, they taught me about getting up in the morning, breathing through pain, letting go of survivor guilt and most importantly getting too happy.

The Original Story

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