Sunday, June 30, 2013

8 months :)

Dear Ryan,
I feel like every time I sit down to write you a letter, I am tired in some way, shape, or form. Perhaps it is the timing- the end of the month. And as I sit and reflect on what happened, the good and the bad, it exhausts me.

Today I am the kind of tired where my muscles ache from working them so hard. You see, I woke up this morning and went to the gym. Early. Left my house by 8 am on a Sunday. And I pushed myself, hard. So now it's late in the afternoon and I can feel the effects of doing this work out. And you know what? I love that feeling, Ryan.

I love that feeling because three or four weeks ago, I would have never thought about going to the gym at 8am on a Sunday. In fact, my first thought when I woke up this morning was about how badly I wanted a McDonalds breakfast sandwich. But I pushed that thought out of my mind and I got dressed to go to the gym. But three or four weeks ago, McDonalds would have been the choice.

I am telling you all of this to tell you that I am working really hard on getting healthier. It was your Grandma and Grandpa Carolin who really motivated me. I had a real scare a few weeks ago with periods of dizziness/headaches, and I didn't like it. The three of us talked about my health, and I got a jump start on exercising and eating better. And Ryan I feel so much better already! I feel healthier and happier, and it's only been two weeks. I like where this is headed. And, I am super lucky to have people around me who are helping me!

Ryan....I am probably going to talk to you about this a lot, but I need you to promise me you're always going to treat people kindly, okay? Just know that there is no use in lying, no use in saying mean things, no use in being a consistent bully to someone else. And you certainly should never tell someone you care about them and you love them, and then go and do something so horrible that it breaks their heart. It's not very fair.

That happened to me recently, dude. I try not to dwell on it or talk about it, but it just boggles my mind that there are people in this world who can just treat others so badly. I'll be alright, because I cannot let this person control my happiness or state of mind. Know what I'm going to do instead? Get healthier. So there. Sometimes, Ryan, you have to turn negativity into positivity. I learned that from your Grandpa and Grandma Carolin, also.

I haven't talked much about YOU in this letter, now have I? You do know you are my favorite person on the planet, right? Good. Because you are. That sweet smile gets me every time! We actually did have an exciting month. Uncle Jonathon and Aunt Sara came into town for Father's Day! They got to spend a lot of time with you, which I know they enjoyed. They took you to the park, we cooked a big family meal together, you even came to visit me at work! The ladies at my job just adored you. I know your daddy, Uncle, and Grandpa's just LOVED being able to see you on Father's Day. Heck, we all did!

I saw you just yesterday, and I am about to see you again now. You were so close to crawling yesterday! Just a few more weeks and you'll be there. You are also more vocal, although all you say is "ba ba ba ba ba". And you do this thing where you put your face REALLY close to mine and smile. It's like you're peering into my soul. You're a happy little guy, unless you're hungry or sleepy.

I'll see you in a few minutes, your mommy and daddy are having me over for dinner. We will oogle over you and giggle about silly things.

Happy 8 months, Ryzinga. I adore you.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Kelly Freaking Clarkson.

Kelly Clarkson is my favorite artist. She just is. No doubt about it.

I had the opportunity to see her live on Friday night. Although things didn't go quite as planned, and the show got cancelled 5 songs in because of the horrible rain/wind storm, I was still happy to be there and woke up the next morning feeling grateful for being able to see her live. Her voice is bananas.

I get teased sometimes for loving Kelly. But I don't really care. Either people will understand or they won't. The thing is, Kelly's music has provided the soundtrack of my life for the past 11 years. I was a sophomore in high school when she won Idol, and I was intrigued then by her bold, bubbly personality and killer vocals. Ever since then, I've been addicted to her music. She's the first artist to get me to really love music and lyrics, and I started writing after I heard her first album.

Although I've been a fan since the very first time I saw her audition for Idol, It was really My December, her third album, that "changed" me. I see you rolling your eyes, and I'm just going to ignore you. See, at that point in my life, I was not okay. I felt alone, confused, sad, etc. I have a very clear memory of buying her album at midnight when it came out...and hearing the songs...hearing the pain, and, for the first time in a very long time, I didn't feel alone. She sang the words that I felt, and that was what I needed to know that I was going to be okay.

Kelly is a very brave person. She's someone who has gone through a hell of a lot of struggle yet remains strong, confident, and stays out of trouble. she's goofy, relatable, loves her fans and her music.

So I love Kelly because of the gifts she has given me...and she doesn't even know she's done it. I'm glad I got to see her perform last night and I look forward to the next time she's in town.

This may be a little "Tuesday Tunes- ish", but I am going to post a song from each of her albums. If you've never fully listened to a Kelly song ( and if that's the case, where have you been for the past 11 years?), please choose one or two and give them a shot. And let me know what you think!

Album: Thankful, 2003
Song: Low

Album: Breakaway, 2004
Song: Addicted
Album: My December, 2007
Song: Maybe
Album: All I Ever Wanted, 2009
Song: All I Ever Wanted
Album: Stronger, 2011
Song: Honestly
Album: Greatest Hits, 2012 (Three new songs added to this album)
Song: Catch My Breath

So cheers to Kelly, to 11 years of music, and to getting through hard times together.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

I have decided to join in on the Top Ten Tuesday fun started by The Broke and Bookish. This week's theme is "Top Ten Books You've Read in 2013". I've been wanting to do a book post anyways, so here we go.

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore was one of those books that I kept hearing about but avoided reading. Not sure why, because when I did get my hands on it, I loved it! It's a very clever book, unique.

A Grown Up Kind of Pretty started off kind of slow for me. I couldn't quite figure out what was going on. But soon it clicked and I became a fan. It tells the story from three different perspectives of women, one of whom has had a massive stroke.

Home Front has the same format that most Kristen Hannah books have, but it's still great enough to get you to keep reading. Jolene, mother of two and wife to Michael, is a soldier who gets deployed. Bring the Kleenex.

I've read a lot of Diane Chamberlain books, but The Lies We Told is probably my favorite. It's the story of two sisters, who are both doctors, and the differences in their grief of losing their parents as teens. There are a few twists hidden in the book to keep you engaged.

Dancing on Broken Glass  will break your heart at times, but is one of my favorite books I've ever read. The writing style is fantastic and the story is so strong. It's about a couple who shouldn't be really be together, but their love is completely evident and obvious.

Ten Girls To Watch was recommended to me by my friend Shari. It was one of the first books I read in 2013, and one of the best.  The main character, Dawn, is extremely relatable and it's fun to join her on her adventures.

One Breath Away I am always intrigued by this author (Heather Gudenkauf). I love her work. This book was no exception- it was fantastic. A bit violent, maybe, but insanely addicting and intriguing.

 Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I just finished this one and read it in under 24 hours. I wasn't sure what to expect, but what I got was a beautiful story. It's about two people who are totally different, but their paths cross and things change. That's all I'll say.

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn. I know this is a cliché answer, but I could not put this book down. And I still think about it a lot, which is a sure sign of a great book.

 Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks.  I was slightly obsessed with this book while reading it. It's creative, fresh, exciting and engaging. It's the story of a little boy's imaginary friend, from the perspective of that imaginary friend. Clever.

What are you reading? What's the best book you have read so far this year?

Monday, June 24, 2013

ABC's of Blogging

Stealing this from Kate at Another Clean Slate.

ABCs of blogging…
A. Attached or Single? Single.
 B. Best Friend? I have several. You've read about most of them at one point or another on this blog.

C. Cake or pie? there is nothing like a good ole slice of chocolate birthday cake.
D. Day of choice? Sunday. I decided a long time ago that Sunday was my day. I don't have to do anything but whatever I want to do. It's glorious.

E. Essential Item? Music.

F. Favorite color? Green

G. Gummy bears or worms? Neither. Would rather have chocolate.

H. Home town? If we're being specific, I grew up in Troy, MI. But if you're not from Michigan, the easy answer is Detroit.

I. Favorite Indulgence? Starbucks.

J. January or July? July! My Birth month!

K. Kids? Not anytime soon.

L. Life isn’t complete without? Friends and family.
M. Marriage date? Not anytime soon.
N. Number of brothers/sisters? older sister and older brother.

O. Oranges or Apples? Apples
P. Phobias? Clowns.
Q. Quotes? "There will be an answer, let it be". - The Beatles
R. Reasons to smile? You're alive.
S. Season of choice? Fall.
T. Tag 5 People. You’re all tagged!
U. Unknown fact about me?  Considering I've had this blog for four years now, I'd say most of my secrets are out. I guess one is that I am obsessed with the tv show Beyond Scared Straight.
V. Vegetable? Zucchini
W. Worst habit? Worrying
X. Xray or Ultrasound? Xray
Y. Your favorite food? Salmon
Z. Zodiac sign? Leo. Rawr.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Marla's Sister

I started writing this last night. Ideas flew through my brain a mile a minute. As always, I appreciate your feedback.

Marla shot up in bed when she heard her phone ring. Peering through her window, she noted it was still dark outside. She grumbled and reached for the phone.

"Hello?" She asked.

The voice on the other line sounded frantic. "Mar. Mar. Mar. It's Nicole".

Marla's eyes widened. She hadn't talked to or seen her sister in nearly 4 months. She preferred it that way.

"Nicole...what's wrong?" Marla asked.

"I just wanted to tell you I love you. I had a dream you died. And Marla? My dreams have been coming true". Nicole said, and hung up.

No. Not again. Can't she just leave me alone? Thought Marla.

Marla knew Nicole was crazy. Well, "crazy" is the label she was given by society. "Schizophrenic" was the label given by Doctor Brown. Every few months, Nicole came back around, either showing up at Marla's door or calling her obsessively and saying weird, scary things.Now wide awake, Marla decided to shoot her parents an e-mail. She whipped out her lap top and began to type.

 Hey- I heard from Nicole tonight. She said something about me dying in her dreams.

The second Marla closed her laptop, there was a knock at the door. She took a deep breath, pulled herself out of bed and stumbled to answer.

When she opened the door, she saw Nicole, who charged toward Marla, wrapping her arms around her and sobbing. "Make it stop make it stop" Nicole was saying, and then, suddenly and angrily, "they are gonna get you! You need to run away! Get OUT of her Marla! Leave! GO!"

Shocked, Marla quickly reached for her cell phone and texted her mom-

Nicole's here. She's scaring me. Get her away.

5 miles away, the text was received by Michelle, Marla's mom. With tired eyes she read the text, and then rolled over to wake up her husband, Eric. "We have to go to Marla's house. She says Nicole is there". She explained.

"Again?" Eric asked, sighing. But he didn't hesitate. He was already up and putting his shoes on, reaching for the keys to their minivan.

They drove to Marla's in silence and then let themselves in with the key Marla made them. When they walked in, Marla was sitting on the floor with red eyes and scratches on her arms.

"Marla...honey....what happened?" Michelle asked, joining her daughter on the floor.

It took Marla a minute to answer. She was staring straight ahead at the wall and didn't seem to even notice that her parents had walked in.

"Nicole was here". She said, blankly.

"And where is she now?" Michelle asked gently.

Marla couldn't answer. She could never answer.

"Marla," Eric began "Nicole is not real."

"Yes she is. How can you say that? She's my SISTER! She was here. She called me and then she came over and she was yelling and she told me to run away! That they were out to get me! Then she attacked me! I'm so scared!". Marla began to cry again, but no tears were coming out.

Michelle and Eric looked at each other and sighed.

"That's what you said last time". Eric answered.

Marla took a deep  breath and looked up at her father. He looked so sad, and so defeated. "Why does this happen to me? Why am I so crazy?" She asked them.

"It's not your fault, Mar." Michelle assured her. "But you have to take your medication, and you have to keep seeing Doctor Brown . It's part of our deal."

Marla nodded. "I don't want to see Nicole anymore. Or any of the others. I hate this!"

"We will fix it Kiddo. It's going to get better. You are exhausted. Go back to bed." Eric suggested, helping his grown up daughter up from the floor.

Michelle and Eric watched Marla as she dragged her feet to her bedroom and climbed into bed.

Hours later, Marla woke up and rolled over to check her phone. No calls, as usual. She picked up her laptop to begin her work for the day. She opened her e-mail and saw a new one from her mom.


Sweetie, everything is fine. Deep breaths. Take your meds.

That's weird...thought Marla.  Of course everything is fine. Why wouldn't it be? Nicole is the crazy one, not me.

Marla shrugged, but went into the bathroom anyways with her mom's instructions in her mind. Although she hated taking them, she had to admit that when she did take the vitamins Dr. Brown prescribed, she did feel better. She wished Nicole would take the same advice.

"Hey Nicole!" Marla shouted out loud. "Come take your medicine!".

The apartment was silent. No trace of Nicole, of course. Again, Marla shrugged, and climbed back into bed.

Editors Note: I promise next time I'll write a happier story.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Caroline's Birthday Party

I went to a birthday party last night where the cake looked kind of like this:

and every single present was Disney princess themed.

And you know what? It was a really fun night.

The party was to celebrate the 4th birthday of a little gal named Caroline. Considering I've known her since she was born, it really freaked me out when I saw her at Church on Sunday and she proudly walked up to me and said "I'm three but I'm turning four on June Eighteent".

Can this kids please stop growing up?

It so was weird to walk into work this morning and make chit chat with my coworkers about the shows we watched the night before. "Oh yeah, I missed part of the voice because I was at a 4 year olds birthday party". Because yeah, that's a total normal thing for a single 25 year old to do.

I wouldn't miss Caroline's birthday party for the world. In fact, I changed plans to be there. She's very special to me.

Caroline is the youngest of six children. When the oldest was in 2nd grade, he had my mom as his teacher. Then she had the 2nd oldest. Then the third. She became very close to the family, and, in turn, so did my dad and I. In spring 2010, Fred, the dad, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Everyone pitched in to help. I served as the babysitter for a few weeks that summer. Caroline was still a baby then. The oldest was only 12. It was a very difficult time for everyone. But that sweet baby was my saving grace. We laughed together, played together, cuddled together. I know now she doesn't remember those days, but I do. And I cherish them.

Fred passed away on September 25th, 2010. The past few years have been a complete whirlwind. I don't know how Martha, the amazing Mama of the family, does it, but I do know how much I admire her. She has six beautiful children, an incredible sense of humor and a very strong faith.

So even though I'm not at the family's house every day anymore or even every month, I love them. And I know I always will. I'll always be here for them when they need me. And as long as they keep inviting me to birthday parties, I'll be attending.

Here's to Caroline's 4th Birthday, may all her Princess wishes come true!

So, sweet Martha, thank you for allowing me to be a small part of your family. And Caroline, Lizzy, CC, Mary, Charlie, and Spencer: Hugs. Always here for you.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tuesday Tunes: SO MUCH NEW MUSIC

This is one of those Tuesday's that makes my ears VERY happy, because it's a grand new music release day. Some of my favorite artists gave us treats today. I hope you give some of them a listen and let me know what you think.


Gavin DeGraw- Best I Ever Had
This man is probably my favorite male artist. I own all his music and know it by heart. He's outstanding. I was excited when he announced a new single. Best I Ever Had is pretty good. The only reason it's not GREAT is's not that...original? It sounds very much like Train. But that's alright. I forgive Gavin and still love the song.

John Mayer- Paper Doll
Oh this dude. I have a love/hate relationship with Mr. Mayer. Musically, he's one of my favorites. Personally, I'd like to kick him in the face. His last album, which came out a year ago, flopped. Both with critics and with me. So I was excited for a new song to pull him out of that little blip. The lyrics are amazing...and people are speculating that it's about Taylor Swift with the ''22" reference and the "someone's gonna paint you another sky" (Taylor's song Dear John states "you paint me a blue sky then go back and turn it to grey). If that's the case, it kind of makes me like the song more. I love when artists respond to each other musically.


Caitlin Crosby,Save That Pillow

I was first introduced to Caitlin when she opened for Jason Castro in concert in 2010. I loved her vibe. Been waiting on new music for her since then, and now here it is. Caitlin's a really cool person. I mean, I think she is. I don't know her on a personal level or anything, but her music is really meaningful, she's got a killer voice and she works really hard. Plus she's involved with The Giving Keys, an awesome charity. Her six track EP is excellent. Favorite song is Save That Pillow.

Hanson, Anthem

The first time I met my best friend Sam, she announced to myself and our other sorority sisters that she was a mega Hanson fan. We all responded with "Like....MMMBOP?". None of us had any idea that those boys were still making music. And I met Sam in the fall of 2006. Now it's 2013, and they are STILL making music! Sam introduced me to the world of Hanson and I've been addicted ever since. Yes, they are still making music, and it's amazing.

Anthem, the album that came out today, si there ELVENTH album. I realize that may shock people. You really don't hear much about Hanson unless you're in the know. But let me just assure you, each album is unique, and GOOD.

I downloaded the new album last night. Unfortunately there aren't a lot of the tune up on youtube, but I will share these two with you that I found.

Already Home


Get The Girl Back

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I Don't Care, I love It.

I had yet another busy, beautiful weekend.

I suppose it all started Friday afternoon. I knew my brother and sister in law (Jonathon and Sara) were coming into town, and while I was at work I was anxiously waiting 5:00 to come so I could head over to see them. But instead, they came marching in my office along with my mom, my sister and my nephew at lunch time. What a treat! I loved being able to show off my family to my coworkers. We all went to lunch at the diner next to my office. So much fun. I was insanley jealous when they left, though, knowing that they were going to be hanging out the rest of the afternoon. It was difficult to make it through the rest of the day..

When I did make it out, I headed over to my parents house. My whole family (minus my brother in law who had a work event) came together to cook a nice dinner and spend time together. We oogled over our little Ryan and caught up on each other's lives. It was such a lovely evening.

Saturday I spent most of the day running around doing errands. Oh, and we got a cat. Yep. A little black and white cat has moved into our home. His name is Binx and although we've only had him 24 hours, I can tell you he's pretty chill. Here he is

Saturday evening, us gals hosted a little party. We had been talking about trying to coordinate a bunch of people to go out to the bar, and we figured it'd be easier to just have everyone over. So, the evening was spent with some of my best friends in the entire world plus my brother and sister in law. We laughed ridiculously hard and had a crazy dance party. The night didn't end until almost 3 am. I haven't had that much fun in a while, and it was so wonderful to have everyone together and laughing so hard like that. 

Today I woke up at 7 and after an hour of laying there, peeled myself out of bed to clean up post party. After packing away the bottles, washing dishes, and picking up trash, I laid back in bed and fell asleep until noon. It was glorious. 

I ran some more errands today, mostly to pick up father's day cards. Ran into my mom in the parking lot, which was funny. Then made my way to Macaroni Grill for an early family dinner. Sat myself in between JP and Sara since I knew that this would be the last time I would see them for a while. We once again laughed during dinner, and watched my little baby nephew from the other side of the table.

I didn't want to say goodbye to JP and Sara, but, unfortunately, I had to. I just love when they come into town and when the whole family is back together. We always have the best time.

I left dinner to have one last youth group meeting. We bbq'd for the kids and just chatted about college and summer and graduation parties. It was nice. I really am going to miss those seniors. They are good kids and I hope that they take the lessons they learned in youth group on with them to their future.

Before I go I'd like to say a few words about my daddio, in celebration of Father's Day:

I can only count three or four times my dad has yelled at me. But he doesn't let me get away with anything, either. He takes a gentle approach to teach me a lesson. My dad makes me laugh, and he's often the jokester among a group. He is patient. He's sweet. He works really hard. He would do just about anything for his family. He is the one we call when we have a question about cars or banking. He listens well. He will call me at work and pretend to be someone else, just to mess with me or make me laugh. He taught us how to swing a bat, catch a ball. He took in our friends. He stands back when necessary but jumps in when he's needed. He wants to see us succeed. He's proud. He's kind. He's sort of a dog whisperer.

I'm kind of an emotional person. And when I say kind of, I mean I cried the other day when we were talking about the song "His Eye Is On The Sparrow". My older sister, on the other hand, is the opposite. I think I've seen her cry twice in my life, and even as a teenager, she was pretty chill. So my dad probably thought "why does everyone complain about teenage girls? this is a piece of cake". And then, I became a teenager. And he probably thought "Dear. God. Help. Me". I was, and still can be, an emotional wreck. But my dad was always there for me and comforted me.  And he still does. This recent headache/dizziness/sinus infection I've been dealing with has worn me out and made me worry, and Dad (and mom) have stepped up to the plate to  help me and make sure I'm okay.

I've always been a daddy's girl. That guy has my heart. He will randomly ask about my friends from elementary school or high school, and he genuinely cares. He doesn't care when my mom and I tease him and call him curmudgeon (daddio has his cranky moments) and he still coaches our softball team.

To sum it up, everyone loves him. But no one more than me.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Roger and Alice

"Good Morning Mr. Roger!"

Roger slowly opened his eyes and saw a young woman standing in front of him. She was wearing scrubs and her hair was pulled back in a ponytail. Her smile was way too big for such an early morning.

"Where am I?" Roger asked.

"Cherry Nursing Home. I'm Cathy, your aide, and it's time to get you up for your shower". Cathy explained.

"I'd rather sleep, and I don't know you" Roger mumbled.

"Oh yes you do. You just don't remember. I've been your aide for two years, Mr Roger". Cathy said, smiling.

"Lucky me" Roger shot back, sarcastically.

After his shower, Roger wheeled himself down the hallway, ignoring the med carts and aides that were running around attending to other residents. He was having one of his lonely days, and desperately looking for someone to talk to. He couldn't understand why his wife never came to visit him. Maybe she didn't love him anymore. Roger shook his head and kept pushing down the hallway until he turned into one of the sitting rooms.

The sun was shining ever so slightly onto the baby grand piano in the corner of the room. Roger made his way over to the piano and sat in front of it, unsure of what to do exactly. He lightly tapped the keys and felt a rush of excitement flow through his veins. He moved the piano bench out of the way and pulled himself up to the piano and began to play. He lost himself in the moment, intrigued by the beautiful music.

Roger was interrupted by an older woman with beautiful eyes gently putting her hand on his shoulder.

"You're quite good", she said gently.

"I didn't even know I could play", he replied, looking sheepish.

"My husband plays too. That's how I met him. He was playing at a jazz club and I fell in love with him.  My name is Alice, by the way".

"That's nice" Roger responded.

Alice stared into Roger's eyes for a while, and then lifted up her sleeve to show off her wrist.

"Look....we were so crazy in love that I got a tattoo of a piano on my wrist. He has one that matches". She said, smiling.

"That's nice", Roger responded again, and began to turn away. "I think I have an appointment" he said, making an excuse to escape.

Roger wheeled himself back to his room. For some reason he felt a sadness that he could not explain. He shook it off. "Must be all the damn medication they are giving me" he grumbled to himself.

The next time Roger woke up, there was a young woman sitting across from him in a chair. "Where am I?" he asked.

"Cherry Nursing Home in Naples. I'm Laila. I came in here to chat with you, but you were asleep. I figured I'd just wait here until you woke up". Laila explained.

"What do you want?" He asked, getting annoyed.

"Just to visit with you" she responded sweetly.

Roger sighed and looked away. "I don't know why. I have nothing interesting to say".

Laila disagreed, pushing, "Well how about you start by telling me about that tattoo?"

Roger looked down where Laila was pointing. There, on his wrist, was a small tattoo of a piano.

"That's a really cool tattoo", she said. "I've never seen anything like it".

"Yeah. I guess it is unique". Roger replied, confused.

Laila could sense that Roger was confused. "You look like you've never seen it before".

"I...don't think I have". Roger responded.

"Maybe your wife knows", Laila suggested.

"My wife never comes to see me. She doesn't love me anymore".

"She was here earlier, Roger. She wanted me to give this to you". Laila said, handing over a piece of paper.

Dearest Roger,
You're having a bad day today. You didn't know who I was. But that's okay. I will never stop loving you. I'll come back tomorrow. I'm going to visit our grandchildren. I will tell them you said hello. Their names are Lizzy and Zach. They are beautiful. And they both play piano, just like their grandpa.
Love, Alice

Roger let a tear fall down his cheek. He couldn't believe he didn't even remember his wife. What was happening to him?

Trembling, Roger flipped the paper over, wanting to write to his beloved wife.

Dear Alice,
If I'm asleep when you come, wake me up.
If I can't remember who you are, remind me.
If I am cranky, tell me to snap out of it.
If I am by the piano, tell me to play our song.
If I doubt your love for me, hold my hand.
If you doubt my love for you, then you might as well take my heart out of my chest. Because my love for you is the only thing I am sure of. I love you. I forget many things. Where I am, if you visited, what I ate for breakfast. But I can never forget how much I love you. It is as if your soul has been etched to my skin, just like our matching tattoos.
Love, Roger.

By the time he was finished writing, Roger was crying. He looked up at Laila and said "Next time she comes, make sure she gets this."

With that, Roger closed his eyes and fell asleep, hoping that the next time he woke up he would remember more about his life.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tuesday Tunes: Lady Antebellum

I'm a mega huge fan of Lady Antebellum. Most of my friends/family know this story, but I saw them open for Martina McBride back in 2007. They didn't have an album out yet, they didn't even have a single out yet. But at that concert I turned to my friend and said "they are going to be huge". We went home and checked out the band's MySpace (yes, MySpace) page and they had a few pictures and one song uploaded. A few months later, they released a single, and then an album, and soon became mega stars.

They are incredible musicians and songwriters. I have adored every album they've put out and cheer them on at award shows, because they have worked very hard and deserve every ounce of success.

Their latest album, Golden, did not disappoint. Here are my four favorite tunes

1. All For Love
In my opinion, this is the best song on the album. It's got the drama and emotion of their number one hit "Need You Now". There is passion, and beautiful harmonies.

2. It Ain't Pretty
This is a Hilary- centric song, and it perfectly describes what us gals go through after a breakup. The bridge is chilling.

3. Better Off (Now That You're Gone)
I was excited about this song ever since the track listing for the album got leaked a few months ago. It's uptempo with a bit of a rock edge, and I can't wait to see what they do with it at a live show.

4. Downtown

I couldn't exclude the band's first single from my list. It's another uptempo tune that is rocking the country charts right now.

Are you a Lady Antebellum fan? What's your favorite song off their new album? If you're not a fan, what's your favorite song I posted here? 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

hey little fighter, things will get brighter

Interesting weekend, to say the least.

I spent a good portion of my day yesterday at Mercy Center. This year's group of Mercy Volunteers were there for their transition retreat. I am a MVC alum, and was invited to speak at their panel. It's an honor to be asked, I have so much respect for the staff from Mercy Volunteer Corps and obviously they thought I was capable of giving this year's group some advice.

It's just weird, though. In a good way. I did MVC in 09-10. That life seems so far away from me now. I go about my busy life now and sometimes just stop and say "remember that time I did a year of volunteer service?". Crazy, right?

For the most part, the guys and gals who participate in MVC are fresh out of college. There are usually a few expectations of people who are in between jobs or retired, but as I sat on the panel I was mostly looking at young faces. And I felt so old. I'm only 3 or 4 years older than them, so that statement is kind of ridiculous, but I did feel old.

I also could not help but be a little jealous of them. The year I devoted to volunteering was the best experience of my life. I came out of it a stronger, better person. And now they are in that position, and eagerly ready to take on the world and seeking new opportunities. Some will travel back home, some will stay in the city where they served, others will go off to grad school. It's such an exciting time in their lives. I didn't realize it then and I'm not sure they do either.

I talk about my experience with MVC all the time. I'd say it comes up in conversation at least five times on an average week. I'm either relating my experience with one of my hospice volunteers, talking about living in the city of Detroit, or proudly discussing the achievements of my old students. The thing about MVC or similar programs is that it stays with you forever. No matter how many years go by, it is a part of you.

So, I really hope I was able to give the "kids" some good advice. I know that they are nervous to end their year and overwhelmed with what is to come. I've been there. And I hope my words helped, even a little bit.

Pause...Sometime in between my panel at MVC and Saturday late afternoon, I developed a horrendous headache. I mean, worse than I've ever had before. Dizzy, shaky, blurred vision, etc. After a few rounds of medicine, my parents coming to pick me up, and drinking a whole lot of water, I am finally feeling a little better. I'm back at home now and taking it easy. Not quite sure what the cause of this headache is but I have some ideas. So I will continue taking my meds, drinking water and perhaps get checked out by a doctor tomorrow or Tuesday, just to be safe. Thanks to everyone who read about it on facebook/twitter and sent me well wishes.

Today, Sunday, Cristo Rey, the school where I worked as a Mercy Volunteer, had their second graduation ceremony since opening it's doors in 2008. The kids graduating were freshmen when I was there. They were, as I referred to them, "my babies". I was on the school website today and looked over the pictures of the senior class. I almost cried just thinking about them. It's been so long, and yet I can still see them as 14 year olds, asking me for help with their study skills or for more chicken nuggets in the cafeteria. Even just thinking about it now is making me emotional. I had such a strong tie to those kids. They trusted me and I loved to hear their stories. And now they are big kids, leaving for college. Many of them will be the first in their family to go to college. And they probably don't remember me, but I will never forget them. I am incredibly proud of them for all they have accomplished so far.

So yes, a surreal weekend full of tears, nostalgia, and a massive headache.  I'm trying to get excited for the week. Trying to make some changes in my life for my health. Trying to remember that I am the most important person in my life and that I don't need to put so much pressure on myself to make everyone around me happy. I need to focus on me for a while.

Hugs and kisses to all of you.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Praying In the Elevator

After receiving a positive response from my last short story, I decided to give it another go. Maybe I'll try to do this once a week, or at least once a month. We shall see. Thanks for reading. Here is the prompt:

Fiction writers: You’re stuck in an elevator with an intriguing stranger. Write this scene. 

I was trembling as I walked out of the doctor's office. My hands shook as I shuffled through my purse, desperate to find my cell phone and keys. I had to call my parents and tell them the news.

I have cancer.

I knew it. I had ignored the signs for months, but finally decided to suck it up and see my doctor. And on a sunny, spring day, I got the news.

I have cancer.

I decided I couldn't call my parents just then. I would have to do it in person. How would I ever find the strength, though? I couldn't possibly look them in the eye and tell them I was dying.

Right now, I just had to get out of this doctor's office. I finally found my keys, took a deep breath and stepped into the elevator.

In the corner of the elevator stood a teenage girl. She was wearing a Rolling Stones Tshirt and a black tutu with black leggings underneath. Her blue hair was up in a messy bun and her arms were swimming in elastic bracelets. As a high school teacher, I saw girls dress like this all the time. Some silly phase they went through, desperate for attention. The girl was crying, hysterically.

Pushing my own problems aside, I took a deep breath and put my hand on the girls shoulder.

"Is everything okay?", I asked.

She winced at my touch, gave me an evil glare, and plopped down on the floor. "Do I look okay, idiot?" she mumbled, plugging her headphones in.

My veins filled with rage. Here I was, after getting the worst news of my life, how dare this stranger give me an attitude?

The elevator made a loud, ear piercing screechy noise and suddenly came to a halt. The lights went out.

"Oh my god!" The girl screamed.

"You have GOT to be kidding me". I said, out loud, and then started laughing.

"Just what is so funny?" She asked, trying to intimidate me.

I ignored her question and then I, too, plopped to the ground, and tried to fish out my cell phone from my purse to call for help. No such luck. No service.

"I guess we're stuck" I suggested.

"Yeah; no shit, Sherlock" she mouthed back.

We were both quiet for a while, until I heard her sniffling and, when I looked over, I caught her wiping away tears.

"Look I know I'm just a stranger, but is there something I can help you with?" I asked.

"You can get me the hell out of this elevator" she replied, not looking me in the eye.

Brace yourself, Bridget, I thought. "Well, princess, I would love too. If I had some sort of magical power to make this thing move, I would. But sadly, I slept through that class at Hogwarts so I'm fresh out of ideas".

With that, she began to laugh. "Nice Harry Potter reference" she spat out, in between giggles.

"Glad you found it funny", I said, starting to giggle myself.

For the first time, the girl looked up at me, like she was just now seeing that I was not a threat. "I'm Jess", she squeaked out, smiling.

Jess' sudden shift in attitude led me to believe that she was just a sweet girl going through a phase, like many of my students. Her giggles were a welcomed change from the attitude she gave me just seconds before. I sure did not miss being a teenager and having those mood swings.

"Nice to meet you, Jess. My name is Bridget." I took out a pack of gummy bears from my purse and offered her some. Jess' eyes widened as she reached in and grabbed a handful.

We were quiet for a while, each of us chewing our gummy bears and looking down at the ground.

"I'm pregnant". Jess blurted out, and began to cry again. "I just found out. I'm only 14. My parents are going to kill me".

She told me the whole story. How her much older boyfriend, Kyle, was kind of a jerk and told her he was going to break up with her if she didn't have sex with him. That she suspected she was pregnant and confided in her best friend who then stopped speaking to her. It was a lot for a 14 year old, and now she had to worry about what her parents might say. They were "uber strict" according to Jess and she was panicking that they would throw her out of the house.

I suddenly felt heart broken for her. I reached over and put my arm around her skinny shoulders. "You're going to be okay", I kept saying, over and over.  And then, with a little bit of bravery, I asked her "Do you want me to pray with you?"

Jess stopped crying and looked up at me in shock. "No one's ever said something like that to me before....I don't really like, believe in that stuff." she said, skeptical.

I smiled and took her hands into mine. I asked God to sprinkle courage onto Jess so that she would have the strength to tell her parents the truth and to ask them for their support. I asked that her parents be open and patient. And finally, I asked that Jess and the baby remain healthy.

"Amen". We both said, in unison when the prayer was finished.

I didn't mean to say what I said next. Jess had dropped a bomb on me, it didn't mean I had to do the same thing. And yet, it just slipped out.

"I have cancer". I said, out loud, for the first time since I found out.

And then it was my turn to cry. I was sobbing, actually, and when Jess asked if I was scared I said "I'm scared to tell my parents".

In a very quiet voice, Jess suggested "Maybe we should pray for you, too, then". And she did. The baby carrying a baby took my hands and led us in a prayer asking for strength, courage, and healing.

As soon as our prayer was finished, the elevator jumped and the doors opened. Two maintenance men stood there, watching us. Jess and I grabbed our things and ran out to the parking lot.

Once we were out of the office building, I took Jess' hand and squeezed it tight. "Good luck, princess. I'll be praying for you".

Jess wrapped her arms tightly around my waist, sobbing hysterically. "Good luck, Bridget. I'll be praying for you, too. Please don't die".

"I'll try not too, but I may have to go back to Hogwarts to learn some real magic for that one".

It was strange, the bond I felt with that teenage girl, a stranger. After just a few minutes in the elevator, I felt a very strong connection to her. I watched her hop on her bike and take off down the road, and while I watched, I couldn't help but wonder if I would ever see her again.

11 months later, I was back at the doctor's office for my usual check up. My mom was with me, driving me to and from like she did all of my appointments. After this appointment we were going to look at wigs, since my hair was falling out quickly due to the chemo.

When we got in the elevator, I gasped as I saw Jess, holding a beautiful baby girl.

"Bridget!" Jess exclaimed, her smile taking over her whole face.

"Jess! Hey! You look so great!" And she did. Her once blue hair was now brown, and she was sporting a clean, fresh face. She ditched the punk outfit for a yellow sundress. "And she is just precious" I said, admiring the little one. "Does she have a name?"

A woman who had been standing next to Jess intervened "Same as yours. Bridget. Hi, I'm Jess' mom, Marie. Jess has not stopped talking about you since the day she met you in this elevator".

Jess spoke up, saying, "I can't believe we're running into you here. I didn't know how to find you so I keep praying that I will somehow see you again. This is so weird! It's like magic."

I put my arm around her and said "No, princess, it's like God."

Monday, June 3, 2013

5 Things That Make Me Happy

I was tagged by one of my new blogger friends, Dee, to participate in the blog meme "5 Things That Make Me Happy".

I decided to share some of the more recent things in my life that make me happy. I hope they bring you a little sunshine, too. And, as a bonus, I asked some questions for you to answer in the comments!

1.  Sunday night movie night.

My roomies and I have a new little tradition every Sunday night: movie night! We take turns picking a movie and then the three of us settle down in our respected seats and watch together. So far we've watched: Now and Then, Friends With Benefits, Les Mis, Silver Linings Playbook, The Wedding Date, and The Help. Once Youth Group is over for the summer I plan on cooking dinner for them every Sunday night as well.  We've sort of made an unofficial pact that we'll keep our movie night tradition. Now when I'm out running errands I find myself browsing the $5 movie bin!

What movie should I pick next?

2.  Walgreens

Everyone keeps laughing at me, but the new Walgreens by my house is fan-freaking-tastic. It's like a magical wonderland. This is not your ordinary drugstore, kids. It has a fancy beauty counter, an amazing wine selection, fresh vegetables, deli sandwiches, and SUSHI. I mean COME ON. And the pharmacy area? They have kiosks. And a leather couch. It's my favorite place to pick up things I'll need for the week. I'm in love.

I've been leery on trying the sushi from Walgreens. Should I go for it? What's the coolest thing you've found at a drugstore?

3. The Voice

Following in American Idol's footsteps, The Voice is all about the ladies this year. The guys are getting kicked off, and fast. Last week's elimination show was icky, though. My favorite, Sarah, a gal with a powerhouse voice, was sent home. I wasn't happy, and neither was Adam Levine. But, there's still some super strong contestants left in the competition. Personally, I'm rooting for Michelle.

Do you watch The Voice? Do you have a favorite?

4.  Ruzzle

I try not to start playing silly games on facebook because I know I'll get addicted. But I fell into the Ruzzle hole and I can't get out. It's a lot like Boggle- you have a board with a bunch of letters and you have to find words. In essence it doesn't SOUND that fun, but trust me, it is. I go to sleep having dreams of letters and words.

What's your favorite game to play on facebook/your phone?

5. Cupcake Wine.
Let me just explain to you how I usually drink my wine. You know those little cases that carry four mini wine bottles? I can sniff those things out. But then a friend told me about Cupcake wine, and I tried it. It's my new love. No, it doesn't taste like a cupcake. Don't get too excited. But it is sweet, smooth, crisp, and delicious. I've tried the Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Moscato. All good, but I'd pick the Chardonnay. I want to try the Angel Food one. I'm sure I will. I promise I'm not an alcoholic, but I do enjoy a glass of wine.

What is your favorite brand of wine? If you don't drink wine, what is your alcoholic beverage of choice?

I Tag:
Daye By Daye
Bread and Butter
Writing Jewels
Shari Speaks
Still Write