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.

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.


Did you just judge me?

6 10 2014

I am a Christian. That means I have come to believe that God, in His mercy, sent a Way for me to get back into a pure relationship with Him. That Way is Jesus Christ. Without getting all preachy, suffice to say that I have decided to follow Jesus. I am a Christ follower.
Chances are, you have just made a judgement about me based on what you know about others. One of your judgements is probably that I am judgmental. The pot calls the kettle black.
Relax. Breath. Open your mind for a minute.
Do you want to know what I really think it means to be a Christ follower?


  • love God with all my heart
  • if I truly love God, I will love His people
  • love without hypocrisy
  • give and it will be given unto you
  • includes helping others
  • when you refresh others you will be refreshed
  • true religion gets dirty, goes where the needs are
  • closest to the heart of God is helping others
  • widows and orphans
  • God did not call me to judge people, he called me to love them
  • I need to judge myself, search my own soul. Not yours
  • I am full of miracles
  • miracles don’t always come with a fireworks display
  • a hug, a gentle word brings healing
  • encourage
  • help others and your life will break forth like the dawn and your healing will come

Now that I have revealed some of my inner thoughts, judge away.

In my over six decades on this planet, I have learned that we are all seekers. Every one of us are trying to find our way through this thing called life. We are not all on the same path. Each of us must find our own way. I believe that I have found mine and I TRY to walk it out every day. I am not interested in convincing you that my Way is right and yours is wrong. I welcome anyone to join me and the many others who are following Jesus, but it must be your own revelation that puts that desire in your own heart. If I truly believe that God speaks to the heart, I must believe that He has you in the palm of His hand and He will direct you. I respect your choice to walk where you feel led. We are not immortal. One day we will draw our last breath and then we will know in truth. Until then, my prayer for each of my friends is that God will lead us to the truth and help us to be true to what we believe.

Hello, I am Addiction

3 02 2014


Maybe it would make a difference if addiction would just come right up to our face and introduce itself. Maybe if it should come right up and dope slap us in the head we would realize the imminent danger. Probably not though. Addiction is insidious. I had to look that word up when I first heard it. The definition is;  • treacherous; crafty , proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects. 

The brain of an addict has no logic when it comes to getting high. Our brain says things like, you can do it just this once!; everyone else is carefree and having fun, why not you?; this time you will stop after two beers.; this time you will not chase the high, one hit will be enough to take the edge off; you have a high tolerance, you need more than the normal person. 

And, sadly, we end up thinking; how did I let this happen again?; it was not supposed to be this way.; it is always going to be like this, I don’t know why I even try.; I may as well have the ‘hair of the dog that bit me’.; I am always going to be a worthless loser.

We always have to keep our thinking in check. Always. We don’t ever get a vacation from doing an inventory of our thoughts. One slogan that I learned in AA has been a healthy reminder. It says, Stinkin thinkin leads to drinkin. Yeah, I like to misspell those words. It gets my attention every time. This slogan reminds me to take an inventory of myself daily. Once my spiritual and emotional conditions begin to decline, my sobriety is in danger. If I catch it early, it is easier to come to the God of my understanding and confess my ill thoughts and ask His help in getting back on track. Unfortunately, the longer stinkin thinkin goes unchecked the more difficult it is to recognize and it doesn’t take much more before I could be off and running in the wrong direction.

I went through a season after my husband died where I found my thoughts wishing I could enjoy a nice glass of red wine. Many of the people who were important in my life were able to drink in relative safety and enjoy themselves. I would see the pictures they posted on FaceBook about the fun they were having and the lovely get-togethers they were having that included wine or beer. They were thoughtful enough not to invite me because they knew I was clean and sober. While I appreciated their consideration, it also made me feel left out and a little sad that I could not unwind with a glass of wine too. I let that thinking go on for more than a little while. Mix those kind of thoughts with the fact that I had been grieving the loss of my soul-mate and that I have not been able to bring myself back to AA meetings and I had a lethal combo going on. Self pity began to creep in along with a desire to isolate. I reached out in a couple of ways to a select few but, honestly I did not have the energy to chase anyone down for help. Tears flowed for days. I tried to go to meetings and I saw my Eddie everywhere. It was destroying me! I would be sobbing all the way home. I finally decided to stop torturing myself and withdrew all together from meetings. To this day, I have not been back. But, I remember what I was when I came into AA and I remember the principles that saved my life thirty seven years ago.

Sometimes, it is God and God alone who can save. That has been the case for me. I have not shut Him out or withdrawn from Him. And he shined a spotlight on my thinking. He brought me back to sanity and He gave me the strength to walk away (in love) from the people who could not comprehend the danger I was in. I literally heard the Voice of my God say to me, You are not safe here anymore. You must walk away NOW. I will not keep you safe if you do not heed my warning. Those are probably not the exact words but that was the message that He spoke loud and clear into my innermost being. I was ruined. It was heartbreak upon heartbreak. As I write this, I can still feel the ache in my heart. And, somewhere under all the commotion in my soul, I heard the voice of my first AA sponsor say to me, “Constant vigilance is the price we pay for our sobriety.” My God gave me the strength to walk away. He gives me the strength every day to make the right decision regarding my sobriety. Without sobriety I have nothing.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman, I will not let your death be in vain. I admire the fact that you had 23 years of a clean and sober life. You have reminded me today how fragile and how precious is the gift of sobriety that we have been given. It is the unmerited favor of God that gives us this gift. Addiction is an insidious thief. Your fate could very easily have been mine, and it could yet be. Somehow, I think you would like us all to be mindful of that today. Your spirit will be missed.

I call BS.

26 12 2013
deep thoughts

deep thoughts


There are a couple of phrases that are always said with the best of intention in the worst of situations. One of these is, “Forgive and forget“. For years I have allowed myself to feel guilty because I have not forgotten. I think it is time to call BS on this one. I do not think it is possible nor practical to forget. I have forgiven some pretty life changing and heinous events Even when the offender has not asked forgiveness. But I do not forget. For example; At the age of fifteen, my virginity was robbed from me in a brutal act of kidnap and rape. After years of alcoholism and drug addiction and some deep counseling by a Pastor and his wife, I have been able to forgive. Truly forgive, as Christ has forgiven me.
Like most fifteen year old children, I thought I was invincible and I left myself open to many dangers. I was rebellious and arrogant and that permitted me to be with the wrong people, in the wrong place at the wrong time. What I did not know is there is always some sicko lurking and waiting to take advantage of just such an attitude. I have forgiven me for putting myself in that danger. I have forgiven the sick man who robbed me. I have forgiven God for not bursting through the night sky and ripping this pervert off of me. Done and done.
I am sixty one years old and I haven’t had those nightmares or re-lived that event in a very long time. My heart is no longer bound in anger, fear and hatred. But I do not forget.

There is another phrase that irks me of late. “Time heals all wounds.”

I must call BS on this as well. I do not see myself as wounded and bleeding any more although my heart is under going surgery right now. My heart has never been so broken as when Eddie the Baker left me here alone. I miss him every single day and feel somehow incomplete without his words of wisdom in my ears and his daily pledge of love to me. This does not feel like a wound. It feels more like an extraction. A portion of my soul has been torn off and the heart ache is quite literally an ache in my heart. It has been more than two and a half years and I still cry every day. Time is not healing my heart and soul. But God…  I know that God is mending this. Every wound my heart has ever experienced has been healed by God and this is no exception.He has promised never to leave me. He has promised to bind up the broken hearted. He cares for the widows and the orphans. It is God, not time, who heals all wounds.

I have recited both of these phrases to hurting people in the past. That will not happen again. And I will politely nod to those who say these things to me, choosing to see their heart and not just listening to the words. And maybe, on the inside, I will find myself calling “BS.”

A widow’s journey. Year 2.

15 09 2013

Photo 97yep< i am still wearing the rings. I just don’t see any point in removing them. I am not interested in a relationship because, well, I am still in love with my husband. I tried taking them off once and it felt weird. Plus, it didn’t make me think of Ed any less. So… they are a piece of me and they remain.

I am learning to trust my decisions more. This last year has been filled with some pretty tough ones.

I fired my family physician of twenty years! I have been uncomfortable with him and his office staff for a few years but I thought it was just me being particular. It wasn’t. Got a new doctor and I am much happier.

I left my church of 10 years. They have been an amazing family to me and it was one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make. I still love the Rock church and it’s members. This whole seeker friendly thing has become a thorn in my side. I just can not reconcile myself to it. The best thing for me to do is get out of the way. I have prayed HARD about all of this and God has given me some clarity on my situation. My choice is not right for everyone. It is right for me. I am patiently waiting for God to put me where He wants to use me for His glory again. In the meanwhile, I am quite busy praying for those precious people God puts in my path in my marketplace. So many folks need prayer and encouragement right now. It is my honor to touch Heaven with requests on their behalf.

God is teaching me hard lessons. He has stripped away most of the people that I thought would be with me through thick and thin. Some of that stripping has been excruciatingly painful. I have mourned the losses that I do not comprehend. Sometimes, I ask myself if I have done something to offend or if I am being judged… but, through it all He has spoken to my heart over and over again. “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

He is teaching me that He alone is my source and He is well able to handle my every need. As I depend on Him for my support and even the breath I take some days, He puts people in my life. Not to depend on but to lean on. I am reminded that even Moses needed help from people. Life can be demanding and hard. It is okay to lean on people some times but… they better be the people that God has placed in my life for this purpose.  God knows exactly what I need.

God knows who needs me too. It is a challenge to stay alert and aware of who God is putting in my life and what I can do for them. Sometimes it is as simple as a smile. Amazing how many people need to be smiled at. Sometimes I am called upon to just listen. It is amazing how many people feel unheard. I have become very good at keeping things told me in confidence too. My secret is simple. I bring the matter to God right away, before it has time to take up residence in my mind and make me think it is MY problem to solve. Then, I walk away and most of the time, forget. I am not sure if that last step is a gift or just a very bad memory. LOL. Either way, it seems right.

I still weep when I stop to feel the longing in my heart for my Eddie. I am not generally a weepy person, so I fight this a lot. Wet face, runny nose, puffy eyes. These are not pretty things and I like things to be pretty. But, alas, these are some of the things that make up life. So, I dry, blow and apply make up, pull up my big girl panties and march on.


Serving in Spain through the arts

24 02 2013

The message we are carrying to the women of Betel International is this: Live the Lord’s Prayer. Forgive those who have hurt you and walk into your new life without yesterday’s baggage.

It sounds like a simple message but, I promise you, more people than we think get stuck in sorrow and unforgiving. I know this from experience.

The women here have been through a lot. They have been on both sides of the fence; needing to forgive and needing to be forgiven. It is often so overwhelming to be in this position that people can not find the beginning of the road to healing and freedom.


We are using the story of Ruth and Naomi from the Old Testament, an old widow and her daughter in law who is also a widow, to put into pictures how to move forward. This is the basis for the conference that we built to bring to the women. We call it Victorious Warriors because it takes a warrior to battle through the sorrow, shame, anger, and humiliation that has been heaped upon us over the years. We are survivors, and that is a good thing but a survivor can still remain a victim. It takes more to be victorious. It is a battle of the mind to stop believing the lies of an enemy who tells us we are worthless and doomed to fail at every endeavor. It takes a warrior’s courage to find the strength to try; to move forward; to believe that God has a better plan and He is not mad at us. It takes tremendous strength to take that first step toward HOPE.

When the women first enter Betel Ministries, they are broken and defeated. It sounds like a bad place to be but, in truth, it is the best place to surrender from. Sometimes the warrior must surrender in order to win the battle. We surrender the lies, the escape paths through alcohol and drugs and we surrender our wills. It is from that place of brokenness that we can begin again. We lay down the running and squarely face our failures and stop making excuses for them. We stop lying to people. We lay down the lies we believed for so long and accept the fact that God loves us and no one is worthless. And we lay down our self will and begin to learn how to embrace God’s will for our lives. It is good, His will for us. We have made a mess of things and He is waiting to restore us to sanity and a good life.

I read a lot of Facebook posts and some of things that crack me up end with the words, “said no one ever”. I have one that fits here. I want my old life back of lying, stealing, disrespecting myself, being drunk enough to pee my pants and high enough to puke on the police officer’s shoes… said NO ONE EVER.

Betel ministries all over the world provide refuge and a place to begin again. The people of Betel are courageous warriors. I am grateful for an opportunity to serve them.