I’m Not Preaching – I’m Sharing

Hi Everyone – Yes, I know there’s been another big gap in time since I’ve written, and honestly I have no explanation. As 2018 quickly approached, I decided on three changes I needed to make.

The first was a simple one – change my hair color – which I did, I am now a REDHEAD!

The second was to find a job with a stable company that I could retire from – I did that too! After finally leaving a job that sucked the life out of me and destroyed my soul (you can read about that hellish experience here. ), I am now happily settled in a job with a great company who values their employees and treats them well.

Third – I decided to sell the house I grew up in and find a place of my own. The memories here have become too much for me, and as my heart keeps telling me, “you can’t have a life of your own if you keep holding on to the pieces of the one you used to have.”  So, I have to go.  The latter is actually one of  two things that prompted this post.  If you’ve ever picked up your life and moved, you know how much stuff you come across when cleaning things out.  Old receipts, notes on a piece of paper – both of which you kept for God knows what reason – and little odds and ends that you may have been looking for awhile back, but are useless to you now.

As you know, we lost two well-known people to the tragedy of suicide last week.  The first was Kate Spade, age 55 – a woman who turned the fashion world upside down with her sleek, simple, yet modern style.  The second was Anthony Bourdain – the celebrity chef who at age 61 decided that his life was over.  Both of them appeared to have it all – they looked happy, had plenty of money,  careers they loved – but as life teaches us time and again – what appears to be is not always true.  And yes, this is the  second reason I felt compelled to write this post.

Those of you who follow my blog know that I lost my folks – Dad in 2012, and Mom in 2015.  The pain was unbearable.   Sometimes it still is, but I won’t go through all of that again here – you can read about it at http://www.stinkerbellsays.com.

Okay, so back to the purpose of this post.  As I was going through my closet and dressers in my bedroom I came across the journals I kept when mom and dad were sick.  I began to look through them, reading passages here and there remembering each entry, each event, each feeling, with such vividness I felt like I was there again.  I cried,  I laughed (see the Tim McGraw story) and although at times it was painful, it brought back memories I think God wanted me to see and feel again.

I picked up the next journal after I finished the first, and when I opened the cover, the ceiling fan above me blew the small envelope tucked inside across the room.  When I finally caught up to it, I opened the envelope and inside were two pieces of paper.  The first was a copy of mom’s obituary – her smiling face looking up at me; the second was a piece of paper torn from the same journal I was holding.  The paper looked crumpled, both sides were written on, and I knew even before I unfolded it exactly what it was.  On the first side – in my own sloppy, left handed writing – was the following:

I’m laying here in bed
Today we buried mom
And I have to wonder, Is there a point
For me to even go on?

I wish I could just go to sleep
And never wake up again.
I want to be with mom and a dad
As they spend the rest of my life in heaven

They are both gone, I have no purpose.
I just do not fit in.
My days will be full of nothing now,
Except my own attempt to live.

I cannot go on
In a world without Mom here
She is the one who loved me most
And the one I hold most dear.

Perhaps it would be best
If I left this world of pain
And joined the ones who gave me life
I can’t do it – No, wait – I can.

The pills are downstairs waiting,
Calling for me to come.
 “Go on, just do it,” I hear them say
“The life you knew is gone.”

My heart skipped, as I remembered writing this; every stroke, every word, every feeling that created what – at that time – was going to be my last poem ever.  I was so determined to end my life – I didn’t give a damn about who I left behind or what they would feel.  But apparently, someone else had other plans for me – on the other side of the paper the following was written:

I open up my bedroom door
And walk slowly down the stairs
I know what I’m doing is what I need
And I can leave those who claim to care.

As I reach the final step
I find my legs just can’t go on.
Something is holding my feet to the floor
And I can’t move as I turn to run,

I look up to see a silhouette
Of the face I lost today
She smiles at me and nods her head
As if to say, “Honey, it will be okay.”

My feet are suddenly free again
As I turn to walk up the stairs
I look back to see her reflection gone,
But a faint voice whispers,
“Sweetheart, although we are not there,
You have so many people who care.”

No one in my life has ever seen that poem before – not even my closest friends; and only a handful know that this was not my only thoughts of, or attempt at suicide.  Yes, there was one other, but that’s a story for another day.   It took me a long time to understand the pain that I would leave behind;  the people who love me would suffer in a way that I would have been responsible for.     

Mom’s been gone three years, Dad, six years and I think about them and miss them every day.  I’m not going to tell you it gets easier – in truth, it doesn’t.  As I awake each morning, for just a split second, I forget they’re gone and it’s so peaceful.  But then reality sets in and I must put one foot in front of the other and try face another day without them.  

If you have ever wished you were dead in an attempt to leave your pain behind, or tried as I did to end the suffering, please understand you are not alone.  The pain does not go away, you just make room for it, somehow.  As each day passes, that place you’ve created will grow, and instead of crying and wishing you were dead, you will smile, and be thankful you’re alive.

SB

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Is Your Job Worth It?

If you had to make a choice between your health and your job, what would you do?  I was faced with this same question over the last year and it was perhaps the most difficult one of my professional career.

Since mom and dad passed away, I’ve pretty much been on my own financially; taking care of the house, bills, food – you know – the basics.  It’s been a struggle, so being unemployed is not even an option for me.  But I learned an important lesson this year and that is this – leaving a job is far less important than losing your life.   But I’m getting ahead of myself….

Last year I started working at a local insurance firm; it was a good job, I was making decent money, I enjoyed the work and I got along with (most) everyone I worked with.   My main role was investigating homeowner claims; but I also paid the company bills as well as the company owner’s personal bills.  I wasn’t comfortable with the latter – but that’s a whole other story.

The first few months I was there, things were fine.  The owner liked me, my coworkers liked me and I was really enjoying my work; but I soon realized exactly what I had gotten myself into and how devious and unethical my boss really was.

Over the next several months, claims tripled due to a local storm; I was working long days and weekends to stay caught up and trying to keep all the bills for the company current.  But it wasn’t enough – I still remember that day in the conference room when he screamed at me and called me an idiot because his personal phone bill was due the following day and it had not been paid.  It was at that moment that my whole outlook on this job, as well as my life changed forever.

Because I was responsible for the office bills, I had access to all of the bank accounts for the companies we did business with, and my boss used this to his advantage.  There were things he told me to do that I knew were illegal and unethical and if I didn’t comply, the repercussions were horrible.  This became my daily existence and the effect on my emotional and physical health is something I’m still recovering from.

I had a ritual every morning when I woke up knowing I had to go to work.  I never slept the night before, and I would lie in my bed each morning, my heart racing, my chest hurting, sweating because I couldn’t breathe – dreading whatever the day would bring. My mind started trying to assess every scenario that could happen – what would I do if he got angry; did I do anything that I could get screamed at for; what names would he call me; could I get through the day without doing something illegal or unethical just to keep my job and avoid the wrath I knew I would endure if I didn’t do it?  It was a never ending cycle.

My appetite disappeared; I couldn’t eat anything – I self-medicated alot.  Xanax was my crutch during the day – I could not survive in that place without it – and vodka was my go-to when I got home.  I lost 24 pounds and at 5 feet 1 inch tall, weighing in at 95 pounds was not good for me.   Very few people know exactly what I went through there, and those that did begged me to leave my job.  One of my friends even told me I looked emaciated and that my eyes had no life in them.  I tried everything I could think of to try to hold on, but day after day my emotional and physical health got worse.

I think the final straw came when one of the employees decided to walk out one day, – frustrated and angry just like I was.  While I took the brunt of the boss’s anger, she got her fair share too, and with her gone, I became the one to blame everything on.  After that, I couldn’t get through a day without a panic attack – and the worst part was my heart rate reached as high as 115.  I was so scared for my health – I had to make a choice.

And I did.  I walked out three days ago and didn’t look back.  Even though it was hard for me because I really cared about the people I worked with, every single one of them supported me and told me it was the right thing to do.  Since I left, I have actually been able to sleep at night and although my appetite is not what it once was, I know at some point I’ll be craving the foods I used to.  Looking for my next job will be difficult; my ability to trust a company or individual I work for has been severely damaged and is yet another thing that I will have to work on in order to succeed.  This is an experience that I will never get over, but I will learn to live with it as best I can.

Emotional abuse is something that you carry with you every day.  It is not something you expect to find in the corporate world, and if given a choice, I’d rather be slapped in my face – the marks go away – but the words that are spoken will live with you forever.

If you are a manager or supervisor – whether in the small business world or corporate America – THINK before you speak.  Your staff are not your lackeys to handle your personal business, and they do not deserve to be spoken to in an abusive manner.  They are there to do a job just like you and will do it much better if you will treat them with respect and allow them to grow.

SB

 

Behind Bars: A Survivor’ Story

They say that God doesn’t give us anything more than we can handle. If that’s true, then I must be stronger than I thought because I don’t know if I can survive this Hell. I lie awake at night praying that this is a dream; that I will wake up and find myself back in my dorm room stressing about my upcoming exam in Statistical Analysis. I would welcome that anxiety right about now. But it will never come. At least not for 11 months, 17 days, 6 hours, 22 minutes….. My name is Jaime York. I am 19 years-old and currently incarcerated in a local women’s prison serving a two year sentence on charges of drug possession with the intent to distribute. The first few months I was here I tried to think of what I could have done to prevent this. What if I had not answered the phone that night? What if I had been honest and said I didn’t feel like going out? What if…? What if…? These questions are useless. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The night that changed my life forever was in late October, a week before Halloween, and I had planned to spend my night sequestered in my dorm room cramming for three exams I had the following week. I had just come home and taken a hot shower, slipped into my sweats and a cup of licorice tea when the phone rang. It was Jordan, begging me to go with her to an “awesome party” that Mark, her latest crush, had invited her to. I should have said no.
Jordan has been my best friend since we were five, and our nickname was “JJ” because we were joined at the hip. We grew up in school together and it was just a natural assumption that we would go to the same college. Jordan was a little more sheltered than I was growing up, and in our first week of school, I saw a side of her that I never knew existed. She dressed differently, partied hard, and frequently experimented with drugs. But she was my best friend and I would do anything for her, and her for me – or so I thought. I now know that my best friend sacrificed me for her own freedom and the sad thing is, she would probably do it again.

I met Jordan at the party as promised and the moment I walked in the door I could see immediately that this was not a good idea. The awful stench of cigarettes and marijuana filled the air and empty beer and liquor bottles covered the tables. On the dance floor, I could see pills passing back and forth between couples and my zombie-like classmates finding it difficult to stand on their own two feet. Jordan and Mark were sitting in the corner with their feet propped on a small coffee table covered in white powder; they were both high – I could tell – and if I’d had the nerve, I would have turned around and walked out. But I didn’t; I walked over, and tried to do my best to fit in with this new phase of Jordan’s life. I’ve always been a follower, not once have I ever been a leader, and when Jordan begged me to try the cocaine, when she told me it would give us something else to share, the child in me, the one longing for approval, gave in.

I heard the sirens, but didn’t react. It was bedlam as everyone ran for the door; Jordan grabbed me and I heard her yelling, “Where’s your car? J, where’s your car?” Mark was gone, and Jordan and I ran to my car and jumped in. As I put the car in reverse, a police car pulled up behind me preventing me from moving. The officer jumped out of his car, gun in his hand, and screamed, “Out of the car! Hands in the air!” We did as we were told, raised our hands and watched as the officer walked toward us. The metal clink of the handcuffs frightened me and it was at that point I realized what was happening. When my car was searched, I knew it would be okay – I had nothing in there except a few empty water bottles and candy wrappers. When the officer opened my glove box and pulled out three Ziploc bags full of white powder, I was dumbfounded. I looked at Jordan – and saw a tear falling from her eye as she mouthed, “I’m sorry.”

We were taken to the local jail that night and held until we could be arraigned the next day. We were fingerprinted, photographed and strip-searched and placed in a ten by ten cell with about twenty other people. Jordan never spoke to me, never looked at me and I spent that night curled up in the corner of the cell crying; I didn’t sleep, I watched and prayed and begged God to be with me. Looking back on that night, I think a part of me thought I would get through this one night, be released and go back to my life. I had never been in trouble before, and usually with a first offense, any punishment was minimal – or so I thought. As I watched Jordan stand before the judge the next day and receive a fine and community service, I was hopeful. I prayed that I would be as lucky. But because we were caught in my car and the drugs were in my glove compartment, it was me who was sent to prison. It was me who was sentenced to two years in this hellhole.

I was no longer Jaime York; my new name was D37645 and I would be known by that name for the next two years. The night I was brought to my new home, I and the other ten women on the van with me were taken to a room filled with a dozen or so showers. There was no privacy in this room; the stalls had no doors, the showers were filthy, and the guards in the room never took their eyes off of us. We were told to take off all our clothes and place them in the paper bags on the table. All rings, necklaces, watches, even dentures were to be removed and placed in the bag. I saw one women, probably in her sixties, with worn leathery skin, weighing ninety pounds soaking wet, open her mouth and remove a plate that contained her two front teeth. I could tell she had been here before, and she must have felt me staring because she turned and grinned at me showing her worn, red gums. I quickly looked away.

We were given five minutes to shower and were told we would be subjected to a full body cavity search. As I pulled the chain above me to release the trickle of cold water, I thought of the small but cozy bathroom in my dorm – it wasn’t much but it was mine and I could close the door whenever I wanted and escape from the world for just a little while. But there was no escape for me now.

If you have never been through a body cavity search, fall to your knees right now and thank God – or whomever you happen to pray to. I’ve heard the term on my favorite police shows, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have to live through it. The snap of the rubber gloves as the guards get ready, make me think that they enjoy this process a little bit too much. They were all male guards, and I could see in their eyes that this was their favorite part of the day. As we got out of the shower, the guards told us to line up along the white chalk line on the floor. We did as we were told, and as the guard approached us we were told to bend over and spread our legs. I became part of an assembly line as one guard conducted the anal search, followed by another who searched me vaginally. The smell of alcohol permeated the air and when the guard finished with me, I wretched and threw up right in front of him. “Clean it up,” I was told, as a roll of paper towels was thrown at me. It took me a long time as I realized that in addition to cleaning my vomit on the floor, I was also wiping up my own tears.

The cell I was taken to, my home for the next two years, was six foot by six foot with a cot bolted to one side of the wall and a metal sink and toilet bolted to the other. The mattress on the bed was less than an inch thick and the sheets and towels they gave me were nasty and smelled of mold. The door to my cell slammed shut and the guard’s voice was monotone as he gave me the schedule I would be forced to live by while I was here. “Wake up is at six a.m., meals are at seven, twelve and six. Get there on time or you don’t eat. You will be working laundry detail Monday, Wednesday and Friday and kitchen detail on Tuesday and Thursday. Group meetings for drug and alcohol abuse are held on Saturday and Sunday and you will be required to attend a minimum of two each week. Lights out at ten p.m.” As he turned and walked away, I yelled, “I don’t belong here! I’m not a drug abuser!” The guard turned on his heels and looked at me in a way I will never forget. He shook his head and said, “then why did you have cocaine in your car?” He stared at me, as though he was waiting for an answer he knew I didn’t have, and as he walked away, I curled up on the bare mattress and cried myself to sleep.

There were very few female guards in this prison and the ones we did have were rarely assigned to our block. I learned very quickly that the guards control our every move and you must do what you are told, no questions asked. On my third night here, as I and the other inmates were being escorted back to our cells, I was pulled out of line by the same guard that searched me when I first arrived. “Where are you taking me?” I asked. He didn’t answer, but escorted me to a room with a small cot and a chair. As I was taken away, I heard the other women snicker, for they knew what was in store for me. I was pushed into the room, as he turned and locked the door and took off his belt. I backed away from him, crying and begging him to stop, but all he could say was, “I need to complete your body cavity search.” He raped me over and over again that night, and when I was finally taken back to my cell, I was broken and bloody. This guard never realized what he took from me that night; I was a virgin when I walked through these doors, but not anymore. I learned later, that all the women faced this type of initiation, and that each guard earned points for the number of women they “had.” So far, my guy was in the lead.

It’s funny how quickly you learn prison lingo. I never imagined a whole other language existed behind these walls and you quickly realize you have to talk the talk or be alienated. After my first few weeks in prison, I was put into the “gen pop”, i.e., general population and when I wasn’t working or attending meetings I was allowed outside in the yard with the other inmates. I was one of many “base heads” – cocaine addicts – in this facility and as I walked through the yard each day I realized I could tell what each person’s crime was by the area of the yard they stood in. I and the other base heads would hang out in a corner on the far side of the yard. Those into “chiva” – heroin – would be on the other side, and those whose drug of choice was “crank” – methamphetamine – would be in the middle. The trick to surviving is pretending like you belong here; never show fear or weakness. The other inmates prey on that and I’ve witnessed it first-hand. That’s how I was “introduced” to Martha. She was in the yard that first day and saw the look in my eyes as I got off the van. I was “fresh meat” and it was she who continued my initiation into prison life.

  The other inmates did her bidding, and knew it was the norm for her to single out someone new. They ignored my black eyes and bloody lips and my difficulty walking, as they were thankful it wasn’t them. I belonged to Martha for the first few weeks I was there, and I, too was thankful when the prison van pulled up with a new load of prisoners, and she moved on to someone else. I see Martha in the yard every day now, and she doesn’t bother me anymore; I suppose because I survived.

I don’t know if there is such a thing as a model prisoner, but I tried my best to be one. I did what I was told, mostly out of fear, and attended my required meetings. I think the meetings were the scariest part, as all of the women in that room were hard core drug users. These women would sell their first born for a fix and one of them actually admitted to giving her daughter to her dealer for a night just so she could get a hit. I was repulsed; I was not like these women, I was different – I knew I was. But not in the eyes of the shrink who ran the meetings. To her, I was just another junkie serving my time. These meetings are supposed to rehabilitate us, and make us fit for society, but in all honesty, if I was a drug user, all the meetings taught me was other ways to get high. I worked days in the laundry or kitchen, depending on the day, and my nights were spent in my cell or in the “tv room”. The “lifers” were in control of the television and we were forced to watch what they did – mostly sports shows and news programs. The only thing that helped me stay sane was knowing that I would not be spending the rest of my life here and that one day I would be going home – wherever that might be.

It is now the night before I’m due to be released – early parole they call it, and as happy as I am to get out of here, I am equally scared to be going home. At my hearing, I was told I was being released into the custody of my parents and would be required to live with them and obtain “gainful employment.” For the next year, I am forbidden to drink, be around drugs, or associate with anyone who is around drugs. I must report to my parole officer twice a week, I can be tested for drugs at any time, and if I fail, I will be sent back to prison. As I sit here in my cell, I realize that my life is no longer my own, and hasn’t been for a long time. For the next year, at least, my life belongs to the state and it is they who will dictate my actions.

What scares me the most is facing my parents; I’m ashamed of my time here and what I have put them through. As much as I hate this place, I’d almost rather spend the last year of my sentence here than to see the look in my mother’s eyes. Mom and Dad barely made it through high school and I was supposed to be the first one in my family to go to college. Because of my felony conviction, I was “asked to leave” campus and now at twenty years old, with only a high school diploma and my record, I have to face the outside world. I guess it’s true that you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone.

The next morning, the guard responsible for my “initiation” comes to my cell and brings me a large paper bag. Inside are the clothes I was wearing the night I was arrested. He tells me I have five minutes to change and gather my things. The clothes I wore that night now hang loosely on my body as I have lost quite a bit of weight this last year. The guard comes back for me, unlocks my cell and escorts me to the administration building to have me processed out. As we walk, I see all the women who came before me, and those who came after, and I can actually sympathize with them as they face the days to come. Many of them will spend the rest of their lives behind these walls and never see their families again. For the first time, I have hope.

I am given an envelope with $25.00 and placed on the same van that brought me here. I am taken to a bus stop a few miles away to catch the bus that will take me to the home I grew up in. I spend most of the two hour drive staring out the window; as we get closer to my home town, I see how much has changed while I’ve been gone. It was then that I pulled out my purse that was taken from me that night. My wallet had been brand new so long ago, but now it had a musty smell and a few cobwebs in the fold. The first face that I see when I open it is Jordan’s. I pull out the picture she gave me our senior year in high school and on the back is written, “To J, my BFF. When we are old and gray, we will make it through the day, as long as we have each other. Love always, J.” My tears began to fall on her sweet face, and as angry as I was with her for what happened that night, I miss her so much. Jordan is gone now. She was found in an alley a few months ago with a needle in her arm and her pants around her ankles. The police believe she was killed by her dealer, but because she was just another junkie, they didn’t work too hard to close the case. She’s at peace now and the saddest part, is that she had to die to find it. Even after the hell I have lived through this last year, I now realize that I am the lucky one.

As the bus pulls into the station, I look for my parents, hoping and praying that they are there waiting for me. I don’t see them when I get off the bus, and I wander to the front of the terminal in the hopes that I see their faces. As I reach the door there is a tap on my shoulder, and I turn around and look into my father’s eyes. He gathers me in his arms and holds me so tight I can hardly breathe. I hear him tell me it will be okay. My mother is coming up behind him and she, too puts her arms around me and squeezes me tight. Any fear I had about facing them was wiped away in that moment as I realized no matter what I did in my life, I would always be their little girl.

I have been out of prison for six months now and each day gets a bit easier. I managed to get a job at a local bookstore, courtesy of my mother’s friendship with the owner. Each day as I get ready for work, I realize that I truly am a survivor. I’ve never spoken about my time in prison, although my parents have tried to talk to me about it. I think a part of them know what I went through, but they honor my wishes. Life after prison is in some ways harder than the time itself. The looks I received from the people I used to know almost broke me, and I have had to rely on my own strength to get me through. For the last few weeks, I have been volunteering at the local youth shelter and it is my goal to help these kids get on the right path. In a strange way, they help me too, for I see myself so long ago, in their faces. I still go through weekly check-ins with my parole officer and I know that it is neither his responsibility nor that of the prison to prepare me for the outside world. It is mine and one I welcome with hope.
SB

Why Would You Say That?

Good Morning, Friends,

So it’s Monday again; rainy here in the South, and I was up at 5:00 a.m. unable to sleep, mainly due to another freakin’ respiratory infection and coughing that I can’t seem to shake.  But I digress…

I came down the stairs this morning and turned on the coffee pot and as I’m waiting for the pot to fill just enough for me to pour my first cup, I begin my morning ritual of perusing Facebook, Twitter, etc.,just to see if I missed anything important while I was sleeping – or trying to anyway.  Something I saw really made me angry and once again question the decency of people, so of course I have to use this opportunity to add my two cents worth.

Does anyone out there ever use Tumblr?  I’m not a huge fan – I think it’s an “Instagram wannabe” but nevertheless, I check it out from time to time.  On many of the social networks that I use, I follow quite a few anxiety/depression support groups, mainly because every once in a while I will see a quote or analogy that will put a smile on my face, or help me find some answers to whatever is going on in my life at the time.  Plus, it’s a great way to help others who may be going through some of the same issues you are.  What many people don’t understand – or they do and they just don’t care – is that there are real people on the other side of the comments posted.  Some are even asking for help or encouragement just to get through another day.

This morning, I was scrolling through Tumblr and as usual, recommendations for followers popped up on my feed.  As I’m glancing through them, I see one particular individual’s page that frightened me.  The page was all black and the cover photo was something like, “Life would be so much better if I wasn’t here.”  I looked at the page and it was filled with quotes about death, sadness and anger; he/she was begging strangers to give her/him a reason to live.  It was heartbreaking.  Those who took the time to respond were kind, encouraging and comforting – providing phone numbers to support hotlines, or sharing their own stories of times they found themselves in a dark hole but managed to pull themselves out.  However, the scrolling stopped when I saw the post shown in the picture below:

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WTF??!!!  What an insensitive ass!  Are you really so insecure that you have to attack people you don’t even know? Is your self-esteem so far in the toilet that you have to tear other people down?  Don’t you realize that this individual may not have anyone they can talk to and is using this forum for support?  I am so angry and disgusted with this individual right now and I feel sorry for the person that had to read this horrible rant by a dipshit who obviously has no soul.  Come on people…grow up and treat people how you want to be treated. What if someone said the same things to your mother or sister or wife? Or father, or brother or husband? How would that make you feel? Is it really that difficult to be kind on-line and post comments with class?

Last year, I published a post entitled, “Did the Internet Kill Kindness & Tact for Good?” and after seeing the above, I think the lesson included in my prior post bears repeating:

For those of you that need a lesson in online etiquette, remember the following:
• Do not post anything you would not want said to you
• There are real people on the other end of that keyboard, so remember their feelings
• If you do not agree with someone, do not respond right away. Step away and come back to it.
• There is no need for name-calling. You are supposedly an adult and should know a better way to get your point across.
• If you can’t do any of the above, then keep your comments to yourself.

Let me say this to the individual asking for help: DO NOT let the insensitive ramblings of one idiot who does not know you lead you to do something you – and those that love you – will regret.  There are good people in the world, there is help available and life – no matter how difficult it can get – is worth living.

To the asshole who made the conscious choice to write the CRAP response that you did:  You are a poor excuse for a human being.  If your only joy in life comes from hurting and berating people you don’t know, I have to wonder how you treat those in your life you claim to love.

I could go on and on for hours about this, but I will stop here – mainly because I choose to be the mature one and not stoop any further to this jerk’s level.  But let me leave you with one final thought:  Despite what our parents told us, WORDS can hurt – sometimes more than sticks and stones.  The cuts and bruises can heal, but WORDS can stay with a person forever.  Remember that the next time you choose to comment.

~SB

Life is Like The Walking Dead

Yes, I freely and proudly admit it.  I am a Walking Dead junkie!  I am completely 100% addicted to the show and fortunately for me, there is NO CURE!  Friends turned me on to the show last year and after seeing a couple of episodes from Season 5, I was hooked.  I spent the following weekend binge watching the entire series on Netflix.  I got no sleep, drank and smoked too much, but hell – it was TOTALLY worth it. As Season 6 finished up last month and discussions and debates began about who Negan killed in that final scene, fans anxiously and impatiently await the opening scene of Season 7 to see who is laying broken and beaten at the hands of Lucille.

Since the finale aired, I have started at Season 1 again, watching and rewatching the stories of Rick, Carl, Hershel, Michonne, Glenn, Maggie, Carol and Daryl.  Every time a beloved character dies, I cry like a baby and yell at the television like it can actually hear me.  I curse Terminus, The Governor, the Wolves, and even Morgan at times hoping he will eventually “man up” and do what has to be done. Unfortunately, it always ends the same way – Hershel and Beth still die; Terminus is still a body factory; The Governor is still a sadistic prick; the Wolves still attack Alexandria; and Morgan still refuses to kill – although he did take baby steps in the last season.

After my constant binge-watching, I started to think about how the characters in this show and the zombie apocalypse they are fighting mirror life and those we choose to let in.  We all face our own zombies on a daily basis – figuratively speaking of course – and it is those people beside us that help us fight our battles.  We may not always be successful, but we fight and care for each other always because they are our family and we will fight to the bitter end to save one or all.    With that said, let me share a bit with you about my Walking Dead crew and why, when I need saving, they are always there:

My Walking Dead Crew

  • Rick – Definitely, the Rick in my crew is my dad.  Poppy was the protector in my life and while I may not have agreed with everything he did to keep me safe, I soon realized he did his best with what he knew at the time.  He taught me to fight the bullies, and everything he did or said was because he loved me and wanted to prepare me for a life without him.
  • Carol – Mom is my Carol.  When I was younger (and stupid), I saw my mom as shy and weak.  She was someone who didn’t speak up and went along with whatever everyone wanted.  But as I grew, I began to see her as the strong, incredible woman she really was.  Her entry into this world and childhood were not easy, but she became the wife that my dad loved more than life itself, and the mother of two kids who cherish and miss her every day.  She was stronger than I (or anyone) gave her credit for; she fought for what she wanted and like my dad, tried to protect me from the harsh realities of the world.
  • Maggie – Without a doubt, the Maggie in my crew is my friend Michelle.  When I first met her, we did not get along at all.  Like me, she was very protective of her heart and letting people in, so we had that in common.  But once I got to know her, I realized that the heart she protects is kind, generous and loving.  Like Maggie, she is the voice of reason when life turns to shit and chaos erupts all around me.  She has the positive spirit that is sorely lacking in the world today and is constantly reminding me that it will all work out in the end.
  • Michonne – The Michonne in my life has to be my friend Elsa.  When we were in high school, she was always the one who came to my rescue.  She fought off bullies, helped me in class, and told me to “get over myself” whenever I acted like a brat (trust me – I acted like a brat alot!)  She was always there to keep my reality in check and for that I am thankful.
  • Glenn – My friend Warren reminds me of Glenn.  A hard worker, although quiet until you get to know him, he is the first to step up and is always ready to lend a hand when needed.  I have relied on him a lot since my folks passed and he has helped me immensely whenever something needs fixing at the house.  He’s a great friend to me and I truly appreciate his kindness.
  • Tara – In my crew, my friend Debbie is my Tara.  What I like most about Tara is her ability to see the good in people no matter what they do, and that quality is abundant in Debbie’s personality.  When Tara and Glenn were in the tunnel in Season 4 while looking for Maggie, and Tara got her foot caught in the rubble, she begged Glenn to go.  She was willing to sacrifice herself for Glenn’s happiness.  Deb is a lot like that; she is genuine in her feelings and when she loves you, it is for life.  She will fight for you, guide you and hope that you learn to love the person you become.  I honestly don’t know what my life would have been like without her.
  • Carl – I think the Carl in my life is Kelsey.  Similar to the growth of Carl on the show, I have watched Kelsey grow from a sweet little girl into an even sweeter, strong, beautiful woman.  A college graduate and wife now, she is a fighter – strong-willed, smart, loving, and every time I see her, I amazed at the woman she is today.

So who am I you may ask.  This is a hard one for me, but I think in The Walking Dead of Life, I am most like Daryl.  Throughout the show, Daryl has not been quick to trust.  In the beginning he tried to survive on his own and did what he wanted at the expense of others,; however, he soon realized that the strength of others is vital to survival.  It took me a very long time to learn this lesson.

Daryl

We are all confronted with our own battles on a daily basis – hate, uncertainty, heartbreak, self-esteem, depression, fear, anger….the list goes on and on.  But it is those people in our life who give us the strength we need and help us fight the demons one at a time.  I am blessed to have so many people who love and care about me and are willing to help me fight when I need it.

There are so many other people in my life that I want to mention and who will always be a part of my crew, but I have to stop here because if I keep going I won’t get any other work done today.  But before I go, let me leave you with this one thought….Take a look at the people in your own life and how they have shaped the person you are today. Who is your Rick? Michonne? Maggie?  Do you have a Hershel or Eugene or a Daryl in your life?  Please feel free to take a moment and respond with your comments.  I would love to hear from you.

~SB

 

Social Media – The New Ad Campaign

Hello Friends!

Do you or someone you know need someone to manage your social media content on a consistent basis?  Are there just not enough hours in the day to use this AWESOME venue to promote your business or cause?  If the answer to both of these questions is YES, then I have the solution for you!

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I’ve decided to turn my hobby into a business, helping others jump on the Social Media train. Some of the services I provide include:

  • Social Media Monitoring
  • Website Monitoring
  • Social Media Page Creation
  • Website Creation
  • Researching and writing relevant content for your pages and website
  • Email Marketing

Please check out my website at TMS MARKETING SUPPORT, follow my blog, and let me know how I can help.

Thanks for your continued encouragement and I’ll see you on the web!!

~Tina

 

 

Liebster Award for Stinkerbell Says!

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A special shout-out and thank you to Bianca at Lifeatture for the nomination!

I am honored and it means a lot to me!  Thanks again!

 There are 11 questions I must to answer, then I will be sharing 11 facts about myself, and last, I will be nominating another 11 blogs to do the same!

 Questions for me from Bianca:

  1.  How long have you been blogging? I have been writing my whole life; however, I started blogging about 5 years ago. I was caring for both of my parents and my blog became an outlet for me.
  2. What made you pick the topic(s) you blog about? I blog about a lot of things and right now there is no set topic. When I started this particular blog it was intended to be a forum for sharing short stories and other creative writing works; but suddenly I was overwhelmed by ideas and thoughts about various things and eventually this blog represented a Hodge podge of thoughts and feelings on a day to day basis.
  3. Do you prefer the snow & cold weather or warm & sunny weather? Definitely warm and sunny weather. I can’t stand the cold and I would prefer to be standing in sand on a beach instead of snow in my front yard.
  4. What’s your ultimate goal in life? I would like to make my living blogging and writing for the rest of my life. It’s what makes me happy and there are times I am surprised at the thoughts roiling around in my head.
  5. If you could vacation anywhere in the world, where would it be? Either Hawaii or Australia. I would love to visit both.
  6. What are your hobbies? Writing, music, reading, concert-hopping in the summer
  7. What’s the last book you read? I used to have several books going at one time; however the last book I read was The Orphaned Adult: Understanding and Coping With Grief And Change After The Death Of Our Parents by Alexander Levy.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had the desire in the last few months to read as much as I used to but I’m getting there.
  8. What couldn’t you live without? My friends, family and my cats
  9. Which is your favorite social media: Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter? I’m a social media junkie and Facebook was always my “go to” page; however, lately I’ve really gotten involved with Twitter.
  10. What’s your favorite animal? – Cat – I have 2!
  11. Favorite movie of all time? I love old movies and I think my favorite movie of all time is a toss-up between Imitation of Life (the remake –not the original) starring Lana Turner and Sandra Dee and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner with Spencer Tracy and Kathryn Hepburn. I had to include the latter because Spencer Tracy’s final speech gives me the chills and makes me bawl like a baby.

11 Random Facts about Myself:

  1. I can be a bit OCD. I like things a certain way and in a certain order and sometimes I get on my own nerves!
  2. I was an extra in a made for HBO movie called Iron-Jawed Angels starring Hillary Swank and Patrick Dempsey. Although the concept was exciting, it is something I will never do again.
  3. I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout.
  4. My favorite car is a purple Volkswagen convertible with a white top. (I really really want one!)
  5. My mom took me to the television show Romper Room when I was a kid. I cried the whole time and spit up on the host.
  6. I am a Walking Dead junkie!
  7. I collect magnets and shot glasses (the latter to keep up my mom’s tradition)
  8. I lived in Boston, Mass for 2 years, but I am a southern girl at heart.
  9. I constantly make up quotes in my head and keep a list of them on my phone.
  10. I sucked as a high school student, but went to college later in life and graduated with honors, earning both my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees
  11. I never forget a face. Do you know how annoying it is to be watching something on television and recognize someone who played in a crowd scene on another show?  LOL

11 Blogs I nominate:

  1. ATURE
  2. A Beauty and Health Journey
  3. Joy’s Travel
  4. Indrashish Mitra
  5. Earned Grace
  6. Myrdessa
  7. Linda Ikeji’s Blog
  8. Mrs. Daaku Studio
  9. The NY Scene
  10. Just Jalisa Dot Com
  11. A Fashionholic’s Life

 

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If you were nominated: 11 Questions for the Nominees to answer. Remember, the 6 simple rules are above! Thanks and blog on! 🙂

  1. What is your favorite time of day?
  2. If you could be granted one wish, what would that be?
  3. Name 3 things you must have if you were stranded on a desert island?
  4. When it comes to cravings, do you prefer sweet or salty?
  5. What is your morning drink (if any) – coffee or tea?
  6. What is your favorite genre of television; i.e, drama, comedy, reality?
  7. How many photos are on your cell phone right now?
  8. What is one thing you want your readers to learn from your blog?
  9. What is your favorite song?
  10. What was the last concert you went to?
  11. Is there a habit or vice you have that you wish you could break? If so, what?

 

Now readers, I ask a favor of you, please check out all of the above blogs and drop a comment and subscribe to their blogs. I bet they would return the favor if you are also a blogger!

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom

They said the first year would be the hardest
But I’m not sure that’s true
It’s even harder this second year
Living each day without you.

I still look for you each morning
When I come down the stairs
I hear your voice each night
And I feel your loving care.

I hope you’re happy, Mom
And free from all the pain
Dancing with daddy on a cloud
No need for a walker or cane.

Please don’t worry, I’m okay
And doing the best I can
If you can hear me, know you’re loved
And one day we’ll walk hand in hand

Love Always,

Teapot – aka – your “little snapdragon”

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