Redefining in 2018

2 01 2018

Have you ever felt like you lost your identity? It happened to me in 2011 when my husband, best friend and life partner passed away. I went from being Eddie the Baker’s wife to being a widow. Yuck, I still hate that title. The one thing that held me together through the grief process is my faith in God. I read the Word and I prayed even when it felt like my prayers were not getting past my ceiling. That is the thing about faith though. It didn’t really matter what I felt. I was leaning on what I knew. The one thing that became clear to me time after time in my crying out was this; God has said, Never will I leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5) I knew I was going to be alright. Nothing was going to tear me away from God.

It was time to redefine who I am. Yes, I am a widow and that means my life is different. I make all the decisions concerning life and finances now. Well, me and God. I pray about everything but sometimes I ask myself,” What would Eddie do?”.  After 28 years of leaning on his wisdom, I have a pretty good idea what his answers would be.

In the summer of 2016 my identity changed again when I retired from a 22 year career as a hairstylist in the film industry. It was a strange transition. I was no longer so and so’s hairstylist or working on such and such show. I had to leave my profession in the middle of a tv series because of an Interstitial Lung disease. That made it a little more difficult to accept because I didn’t want to admit that I couldn’t get the job done. As I look back to my first months of “retirement” I have to concede that I slipped into a bit of depression. I felt like I had just slinked off into obscurity.

The good thing is, I am way to much of an attention junky to hide myself away for too long. So, what’s a girl to do? Why, try out for America’s Got Talent, of course. The auditions were happening right down in Charleston, SC. and I had sent in the forms and got an audition date right after I retired. Actually, the actors I had been working with that summer convinced me to do it. Fawn flew into Wilmington, we picked up my friend Becky and headed off for a night in Charleston. The audition itself was really the anti-climax of the whole excursion. As I was herded from one area to the next and finally, after 6 hours, got to sing for my audition, the producer never even looked up from her paperwork except to grimace at  high note I sang.

I had also started lessons with a vocal coach as a way to keep my lungs as strong as possible. I auditioned for Opera Wilmington and was accepted in their production of Carmen. I met a new group of lovely and talented artists. I rose to the challenge of learning 52 pages of music with the lyrics in French!! Okay, I mumbled my way through some of the lyrics but I did it on tune!

My fun with singing did not stop there. My vocal coach invited me to sing at Opera Wilmington’s fundraising event. It was a Night of Italian music and delicious Italian food at Osteria Cichetti 11 in Wilmington! Can you say, right up my alley? I was planning to attend as a guest and supporter of Opera anyway, so when she asked me if I would like to sing the song we had been working on, I answered YES without hesitation. We worked the song into a duet, so I got to sing with my buddy Rusty. That was a full circle moment but i will tell that story another time.

I can safely say that I am still redefining my identity. I am leaving some things behind in 2017. I am creating some new titles for myself in 2018. I am now CEO of my own skin care business! One of the things about my Eddie that always inspired me was his entrepreneurial spirit! I watched him embrace working on merchant ships as a ship steward, try his hand at selling cars, create bread recipes for sandwich shops and start his own janitorial business with a bucket and a mop. I learned from Eddie that sometimes, you just have to jump off the cliff and take a chance.

So, this year, I am jumping off the cliff! I need to stay involved and connected to people! I still love the beauty industry. I still love helping people to look their best. I joined Rodan and Fields as a consultant over a year ago but I had no intention of running it as a business. I just wanted to get my own products at the deepest discount and maybe make enough money to pay for my own skin care. Over a few months, I saw some undeniable results in my fine lines and wrinkles and on my dark spots and uneven skin tone. I had an opportunity to help an amazing young lady who was dealing with acne. She started on the Unblemish Regimen and had wonderful results! I am thrilled that I got to be a part of that! The fact that I want to do more of that is what is giving me the courage to reach out and tell people about my business.  I have confidence in the Drs. who created this skin care and I am happy to have a vision and have goals again.

Life goes on and I am trying to keep up with it. I am looking forward to what 2018 holds for me. I am still Coni. I am still quirky, awkward in crowds, tell goofy jokes and sometimes laugh too loud. I am still a Mom, a Noni and a G. Noni. I am a friend. A good friend actually. I still love to sing and to tell people about Jesus! Wether I like it or not, my life is being redefined. I am a widow. I am a singer of Opera (in French and Italian so far). I am learning to live with a lung disease. I do not work in the film industry any longer. I am CEO of my own skin care company. And my skin looks pretty fantastic! Just saying.

It’s not over until…

21 10 2016

DSCN0353 In the beginning of this Widow’s journey I spent a lot of time on the couch, crying and thinking mostly. Did I do everything right? Did I miss something medically? Was I a comfort to Ed by continuing to work and bring in an income or should I have come home earlier?

Today, more than five years later, I know that I did the best I knew to do. I am still doing the best I know how to do as I continue my journey. I still feel the empty ache in my heart but I also experience something like joy when friends share a good Ed story with me. It is a comfort to remember how honestly funny he was and what a compassionate man he was. He was terrible at telling a joke and yet he made us laugh so hard at his attempt to tell it. Sometimes he would laugh so hard at his own awful jokes that we couldn’t help but laugh with him. God, I loved that man so much. Still do. And I know he loved me as deeply as anyone could.

I have had to learn how to manage my life without my biggest fan and best friend. I will honestly tell you that I do not like it one single bit. However, I am secure in the knowledge that God has more for me.

Ed genuinely loved to hear me sing. He would ask me to sing to him often. After he passed, my song changed. I went through a period of time when I thought I had lost my ear and my voice. Nothing I sang sounded right to me and I finally decided that I just would not sing anymore. I lost my song. I left my beloved praise team and hardly sang out loud in the congregation for quite some time. A couple of people really tried to convince me that I needed to be singing but I thought they were just being kind.

During this time, I was invited to sing in a choir that a dear couple was leading but first I made them promise that they would not let me be the old lady warbling out of tune in the soprano section. They assured me I could trust them to have my back. Every time the choir or praise teams sang worship my heart ached and I cried. I attributed those many tears to grief but I also think that God was cleansing my heart during that time. Music has always spoken to that deepest place in my heart. One step at a time, I began to feel my song again.    I am singing again. From my heart. I am a member of the choir now and sometimes I am asked to lead a song or to sing a special solo. I am honored to worship my Lord and Savior with Psalms and spiritual songs. My heart is healing.

I am blazing a new trail in this Widow’s journey. I am stretching myself beyond the boundaries of only gospel music. I have successfully auditioned for Opera Wilmington out of UNC Wilmington. I also have registered to audition for America’s Got Talent on February 1, 2017, in Charleston, SC. I am ready for new adventures and I want to grow in the journey. Here we go.




Coni’s Psalm of Thanksgiving

5 09 2016

At the end of my drinking days, I had a daughter who had just turned 4 years old. I was on Welfare and working in a bar room as a bartender / bouncer. I was fired for beating up the customers and d…

Source: Coni’s Psalm of Thanksgiving

How sweet it is

15 08 2016


August 15 is a special day. It has been since 1982 when I married my soul mate. Ed has not been here to celebrate with me since April of 2011. This makes me sad and every August 15th I feel the ache in my heart and I cry a little, usually a couple of times throughout the day. I have come to accept that it is normal to miss someone so much that it can cause tears. What was surprising to me is the actually ache in my heart. I used to think the term “heartache” was a metaphor but my heart physically hurts when I think of how much I miss him and still love him. This all sounds a bit morbid but if you can stick with me, you will see I am going in another direction with this. I believe all the actions I just described are normal parts of grief. Grief is not a dirty word. I have had to give myself permission to express my sorrow. It only means I have loved deeply.
I have loved deeply. What an honor that is. What a gift to be able to grow and mature in that love and learn to trust another human being. I had that one person that I could count on through all of life’s winding roads. One person who knew I was filled with insecurities, imperfection and inconsistency and he loved me anyway. He couldn’t help himself any more than I could turn my love for him off. We were both far from perfect and we accepted that in each other. If I was mad at him, yes, it happened, he learned to leave me alone for a while until my hot Italian temper had time to cool off. Before the day was through he would put his arms around me and remind me that I couldn’t stay mad at him. He was so stinking cute, and he was right. We practiced the Biblical principal of not letting the sun go down on our anger. There is a free wisdom tidbit for you. it is important to the life of a relationship. Do not leave things unresolved.


Today is a special day. I have felt the familiar ache in my heart and I have shed some tears because I miss my Eddie. But sorrow and grief will not define this special day. I have washed my face, brushed my teeth and put a little mascara on. I have called the florist and ordered flowers to be sent to the house. I will celebrate that fact that I have loved so deeply that I am still in love with one man. I am celebrating the fact that I have been fortunate enough to be loved and understood by a soul mate. I honor my husband today and I feel a touch of pride that I was Eddie the baker’s wife until death parted us. This is a joyous day.

Adoration out of the ruins

30 04 2016

Trying to put into words what this song means to me is much trickier than I imagined. The titled grabbed me as soon as I saw it. Broken Hallelujah. What Christ follower can’t relate to this on some level? God never promised that we wouldn’t go through the valley. Just don’t be tempted to stay there. That’s why it is called going “through” the valley. And He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. He is always in control and always making the way for us. When the way leads to the valley, He is going with us. If it leads us into a fiery furnace, He is not going to be waiting outside until we get out. God will be in the furnace with us.

Knowing and trusting in those things does not mean that I will not experience heart ache. I will feel defeated at times. When times of suffering come, God is with me. He is who He says He is. He is my Father and my King. I adore Him even when I cannot feel His Presence. My circumstance does not change who God is. My God is for me and not against me. He is my fortress and my strength, He is my high tower of protection. He is my sword and my shield. He is my very present help in time of need. Even when I can’t feel Him. See, my relationship with Almighty God has nothing what-so-ever to do with my feelings and everything to do with Who He is. He is my creator and my Savior. He will NEVER leave me or forsake me. He holds me in the palm of His hand and no one can snatch me out. When my heart is broken into a thousand pieces, He is near to the broken hearted. When my life seems to be spinning out of control He is constant and unchanging. He always deserves my Praise.

I am learning a new song right now. Some of the lyrics say:

Even when my only praise is a broken Hallelujah; when my only offering is shattered praise, still a song of adoration will rise up from these ruins and I will worship You and give You thanks. Even when my only praise is a broken Hallelujah.

If you have a broken Hallelujah I would encourage you to give it to God today. It will change you.

This widow’s walk

9 01 2016

2016 might just be the year of the big breakthrough for this widow. There, I said it. Widow. I still don’t like to say it but I am gradually giving in to the  concept. I am not in denial of Ed’s passing. I know in the depth of my being that Ed is with his Savior in Heaven and he is not coming back!  I  wouldn’t  want him to.

I have been in denial of the fact that I am no longer married. It doesn’t seem quite fair that I have no say in the matter. I did not fall out of love. I was not cheated on or angry with or in any way mistreated by my husband. I was in love with Ed right up until his last breath. I am still in love with him.

We talked about some things pertaining to his imminent  passing away but none of our talking or thinking was about the fact that I would no longer be his wife. When Ed died, I became his widow. I hate that part. I could not reconcile it in my heart or in my mind. It has not been a graceful transition, to say the least. It felt all wrong to take my wedding band off and yet it felt like a lie to keep it on. Although, I did keep it on for a long time. I finally found a way that felt “okay” not to wear my wedding band on my hand. I found a necklace that allowed me to wear both our rings around my neck.

This has been my 5th birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year without my Ed. I am coming to terms with the fact that I am not married anymore. On New Years day, I did not put my necklace on. I have looked at it every day since and made a decision not to wear it today. I have tried this before and after a day or two have experienced such anxiety that I had to put it back on. It has been 9 days today without my commitment being worn around my neck. It is okay. I did not break my commitment. I fulfilled it.

I have said it before, grief is different in everyone. We each have to find our own path through the process. Sometimes we can follow a portion of the path that someone else has traveled. Most of the time we have to blaze our own trail. I can still weep with the thought of how much I miss my man. I am on the journey. One step, one day, and sometimes one hour at a time.

Last night, I had a small dinner party with 4 of my close friends. I cooked a pot of marinara sauce and meatballs like I used to do. As we sat around the table in my modest kitchen with full bellies, I took a moment to look around the table. Everyone was at peace and looked contented. Everyone there knew my Ed and were not self conscious to speak his name in a conversation. What really struck me was that we were all laughing, sharing food, stories and talk of movies. Fellowship. My home was alive with fellowship. Ah, but that is for another post.


My summer vacation??

31 07 2015

It is hard to believe I am more than halfway through my one week hiatus already. I head back to Charleston for season two of Vice Principals with Danny McBride and the gang after church on Sunday. So I am trying to find that balance of fun, rest and responsibilities. For instance, today I will meet a friend for lunch after which I will take Bella to the vet for her check up. See? Fun and responsibility.

As far as the rest goes, if there were a camera on me as I go about my household life I am sure I would look like a kindergarten child in the playroom. I know some of you can easily relate to this because I read your posts too. 😉

Coffee and meditation (that closely resembles daydreaming), are how I begin my day. I may log onto my bible app and read some scripture or I may check my FaceBook page. It is important to me to know what my friends are up to. Actually, I often form a prayer list for myself from some of my friends posts. That is my justification.

Next is breakfast and cleaning the dishes… Or listening to some music… Or practicing a new song for church… Or some more daydreaming, I mean, meditation. I find my thoughts quite entertaining and interesting. These should be put down in a blog post.

Okay, WordPress is open and I begin typing. Annnnd, Bella needs a walk. But first, I have to get out of these pajamas. While I am changing I should throw these clothes in the washer and get that first load started. Oops, I forgot to fold the towels from last night. This linen closet is looking bad. It will just take a second to straighten out these shelves. I forgot I had these dish towels. I am going to switch out the ones that are in the kitchen now. If I am quick, I can throw the ratty ones in with the first load of laundry. These towels look so nice, wonder why I ever put them in the closet. Oh! I love this song!

Yes Bella, I see you and I promise we will go for a walk in a minute. Let me find my socks…. Oh, they are in the laundry. Why, look at that, the first load is clean already. I will put them in the dryer and they will probably be done by the time we get back from our walk. I’ll just step out the back door for a minute to check the temperature so I know what  top to put on. I better get the doggie bags and clean that up now so I don’t forget where it is….

Before you fuss at me for putting my itinerary out here for the public to see, my house will NOT be empty. I have a renter and a neighborhood watch and my Mary and Tim next door on one side and Nick and Maura on the other side who constantly monitor the comings and goings for me.

Okay Bella, now for that walk.

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