Sunday, June 17, 2012


Every year I spend the weeks between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day reflecting on the old people.  (Aren't my ma and pa pretty?)  Celebrating Mother’s Day has always come with relative ease.  Gifts for mom were easy.  Spending time with my mother even easier.
 Father’s Day has always been more of a challenge.  By the time I was twelve I’d pretty well exhausted the requisite supply of socks and ties we’d pick out for my daddy.  One year I’d even given him a rock to use as a paperweight.  Not sure whose brilliant idea that was but I’ll take credit for the creativity.  If I recall correctly, it was a pretty rock and I don’t think it cost me more than an afternoon in my mother’s garden searching for the perfect, naturally polished stone.
Over the years the perfect gift has given way to the perfect card.  Depending on whether or not my daddy and I were on speaking terms determined whether it was a Hallmark or just your generic dollar store variety.  Son-shine took gift-giving for his favorite Pop-Pop to a whole new level.  Like two peas in a pod there was no choice the boy ever made that wasn’t his grandfather’s best gift ever, something he’d been wanting since forever.

My sibling and I have very different relationships with our parents.  I believe that over the years, as an adult, I’ve had to work harder at my relationship with my father.  I know that choices I made before I was twenty put a significant wedge between us.  There are moments that I think that we are still butting heads against that wall.

And then there are times when I am very much my father’s daughter, his one and his only Baby Girl, the nickname he still calls me by if he is not calling me by my full name.  When things between us are golden even a Hallmark isn’t good enough for my very favorite guy.  But no matter what the mood of the moment, I cannot deny that the man, who raised me, raised me well.  There can be no denying that my father loves me immensely.  And it has been my Father’s love that has motivated most everything I’ve done and accomplished since I was a little girl.
We have our moments, my Daddy and I.  But there is nothing better than being my daddy’s Baby Girl.  So, to all the father’s out there, HAPPY FATHER’S DAY.  And to my favorite daddy in the whole wide world, I love you very much!

Thursday, June 14, 2012


For the last few days I have been swimming in a well of emotion.  It hasn’t taken much to make me teary as I have been on the verge of breaking out into that really ugly cry. 
My baby boy has two best friends that have been an extension of our family since forever.  When they were in school it was the rare occasion that you ever saw one of them without the other two of them and if they weren’t traveling as a trio, you were sure to see some duo combination, two seeking out the third.  When my son-shine was out of my sight I knew that he was at one’s home or the other’s and I trusted that he was safe and well, their mother’s caring for and loving him as if he were their own.
One day the trio was acting up as only they could, playing a random game of hokey pokey, kicking one foot in as they roared with laughter.  At least that’s what I think they were doing.  For all I know it was a game of karate kick something, boys being boys.  But they were happy and laughing and a random snapshot of their three feet from the ankle down became my thing to do to celebrate the milestones they shared together.  When Son-shine celebrated his 16th birthday we took the trio to Myrtle Beach to celebrate and I snapped a shot of their three bare feet in the sand.  When they went to prom I photographed them in their tuxedos and then took that one shot of their three identically sneakered feet. 
Two years ago, the trio made the decision to enlist in the military, together.  Two chose the same MOS (Military Operational Specialty) headed for Special Forces training.  The third was less inclined to put himself directly in the path of trouble.  But together they headed off to boot camp.  As they departed I lovingly joked that I could not wait for the day when they would all be back home together and I could get a shot of their three military-issued boots.  And I envisioned the day I’d snap a photo at their weddings and all the other milestones I know that they will one day share together. 
As with all best laid plans the military sent them in three separate directions.  Two, Son-shine being one, are still stationed state-side.  Until a few days ago, the third was serving his first tour in Afghanistan.  Today, he is back on US soil, recovering in a military hospital.  And every time I think about it I want to cry.
On Sunday, this young man’s squad hit an IED while out on patrol.  There was an explosion and he and others were seriously wounded.  There was one casualty, one young man who will not be going home to his family.  And my heart is simply broken at the thought.  This hit too close to home and only for the grace of a beloved God is our young man now back in his mother’s arms, his parents by his side.  Despite the severity of his injuries, he is on the road to a full recovery.  (I am putting that out into the atmosphere and claiming it.)  I know all too well that things could have gone very differently.
So, on behalf of the injured and fallen soldiers and the many soldiers who are still in harm’s way, I ask that you please lift them all up in prayer.  Please pray for their healing and their safety and the families that want nothing more than to have them all back home safe and sound.  They are our nation’s unsung heroes and sending prayers skyward is the least that we can do for them. 
Wishing you a speedy recovery, PFC Williams!  And we love you.  We love you very much!

Monday, June 11, 2012


‘Tis the season, graduation season! Around the nation young people are walking across stages, waving their diplomas high and proud, taking the first steps toward the next phase of their lives.

Three of my favorite people celebrated this past week, having made family and friends very proud of their accomplishments. Of the three, two have clearly defined goals for their future. One has entered the military.  Another, after being accepted to four of the most prestigious colleges, has confirmed enrollment at their first choice. And then there is that one who doesn’t have a clue, still contending with “what now”.

Recently, I worked on a research project talking to a host of high school seniors about their future plans. For each one who had already applied and been accepted to college, or who had enlisted in the military and was preparing for boot camp, there were two more who still didn’t have a clue. For them, the prospect of tomorrow was still about having a good time with mommy and daddy footing the bill. Of the two with no idea of what comes next, one was scared to death and the other really didn’t give a damn, figuring that things would work out when it became necessary. And then of course there is the reality that things might not work out at all. Very few of them had even given that possibility a fleeting consideration.  As their answers were being recorded and I listened to their stories, it dawned on me that I was talking to our future and that scared the hell out of me.

There is a new breed of kid being raised today. Far too many are narcissistic, mean-spirited, and lazy, with an attitude of entitlement. Most aren’t likeable and yet we still want to have high hopes for their success, despite the abundance of failure that seems to be their calling card. Those kids I want to shake some sense into. Those kids would benefit from a good ass-whipping that’s been ten-plus years in the making.

And then there is always that kid whose enthusiasm for life ignites your own. The young adult who wants more for themselves than others have ever imagined for them. Those who are willing and wanting to sacrifice and fight to do and be better. Those kids touched my heart and had me rooting for them to succeed despite the many odds against them.

So, it’s a season of transitions and for those students with a game plan and the support to help them through, I wish them much success. For those students still trying to navigate “what next” I wish even more for them. ‘Tis the season to see every one of their dreams soar!

Friday, June 08, 2012


I am already having a day.  For thirty minutes I was contemplating my Muppet personality.  Why, you might ask. 
Why not?  At the time I didn’t have anything better to do.  Like I said, I was already having a day.
For years I adored Miss Piggy.  Her creator, Frank Oz said she was “a truck driver wanting to be a lady”.  I got that.  Like Miss Piggy, I was destined for stardom and nothing was going to stand in my way.  She and I both had our public personalities – soft, demure, and lady-like.  Piss us off and it was on like a firestorm.  Miss Piggy kicked Kermit’s green butt a time or two when she wasn’t kissing it.  I wasn’t much about kissing anything that I had to kick.
But I’ve evolved.  I’m no longer wanting to be anything, lady or otherwise.  The public personality isn’t quite so soft and demure.  Piss me off and it is still on.  So, I was thinking that I’m more like Janice Muppet now.
Janice is the lead guitar player in the Electric Mayhem.  She’s also quite the actress, her talents endless.  Janice is laid-back, has issues with nudity (only her own), has an affinity for baking (only during the holidays) and she just rocks.  Janice doesn’t need to prove she can kick ass.  When it’s necessary she just does and not in that fly-off-the handle way that Miss Piggy does it.  Of course, I don’t have her annoying Valley-girl voice but I confess to being unapologetically spoiled with a cute-girl attitude.
And it took me thirty minutes to figure out the Janice Muppet in me.  It’s definitely going to be a day. 
So, contemplate your Muppet personality and feel free to share.  And have a great weekend.  I definitely plan on it.