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.

 





God only knows what’s next.

19 01 2015

Lately, I try to tell myself, (yell at myself) “finish what you are doing now and then move on to the next thing”. Sometimes it actually works for me. Like today. I am going to write a post. God only knows what will come next but for right now, I write. But first, a cup of vanilla hazelnut Keurig coffee will help the creative process. Be right back.
This has been a very busy and fulfilling year. There have been a few work challenges that have stretched me and made me stronger as a film hairstylist and, I hope, nicer as a human being. I really do love what I do. Most of the time it doesn’t feel like work.
I still miss my Eddie every single day. It helps me a lot to work. I am surrounded by people who strangely feel like family. Albeit, crazy and dysfunction family. I smile most of the time at work and I laugh out loud very often. I enjoy my hugs from my coworkers and feel blessed when folks call me Miss Coni. Once in a while, my guys (yes, I have taken possession of them and claim them as my own), will crank out some pretty foul language. I do not take it personally. Usually, if they see me nearby, they will curb it and that makes me smile and feel like an honored member of the tribe. But, sometimes, Words Just Need To Fly. I understand.
Last October, my co-workers threw me the best surprise birthday party ever! The first surprise was that I had to wait outside the trailer while they finished getting it ready for my entry. I was getting anxious because I needed to get my station ready for my first actor but they cheerfully urged me to go to the catering tent and get my breakfast while they “straightened up”. Of course, I figured what was going on by now and I decided to let go of any anxious thoughts and roll with the day. Best idea ever!! What fun I had at work. We started the day with Carvel ice cream cake handing many pieces out the door to my Teamsters and base camp PAs. There were flowers, balloons, finger foods and, wait for it… Frank Sinatra tunes on Pandora!

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These ladies, Cece Verardi and Linda Kamp, know how to make a girl feel special! My Cristy was very much a part of the shenanigans too. I am grateful for their friendship.
I am 62 years young. My life is nothing as I imagined it to be when I was in my twenties and thirties. I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be, using the gifts that God gave me. Loving on people, doing hair and singing are my three favorite things to do in this life. I am triple blessed when I get the chance to do all three in one day.





Gratitude and Slippers in the snow

30 01 2014

unnamedThis is day 3 of Sleet-ageddon and I am experiencing some cabin fever. I stepped out onto my back patio and expected to sink into the 2 inches of snow accumulated there. As you can see, I did not sink. The snow that fell in the evening was mixed with sleet. It covered the ground with ice. Let’s just say that this precipitation will safely hold over 125 pounds. Very safely.

Wilmington is virtually shut down due to icy driving hazards. There are news reports of wrecks all over town. We don’t do snow tires or snow chains in South East North Carolina. However, I am pretty sure that everyone I know  made it to the store to buy bread and milk (and beer for some) before the first snowflake (make that sleetball) hit the ground.

I can’t count how many times I have thought about Ed’s answer to people who ask what brought him to Wilmington. “I tied a snow shovel to the roof of the car and drove south. When someone asked me what it was, I stopped.” His other favorite joke was, “Sometimes I wake up grumpy. Sometimes I just let her sleep.” I never got that one.

My oak floors were scheduled to begin installation today. It probably will not happen for another 3 days now. I am disappointed but, my PollyAnna side is just grateful that I was not stranded in my car on I-20 in Atlanta for 21 hours as some folks were. I am safe and warm in my house with a refrigerator full of food.

unnamed-1I tried to take Bella out for a short walk on my street. Between her doing the splits and me, fake skating along in my Uggs, we turned around within five minutes and headed for the safety of our torn up, semi- carpeted floor.

I was surprised when the floor man told me that he had been chewed out a couple of times this morning because he was not able to get his installers in to work. One man reamed him because he will not have his oak floors in time for his Super Bowl party! It is not like they took a day off to go fishing. Although, that does happen around here sometimes… but not this time! All of our news stations are reporting that the Sherif’s department is requesting that people stay off the roads.

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I guess I have just had some real stuff going on these past few weeks. Two of my friends have gone to meet their maker. My friend Ruthie passed of cancer of the uterus and my friend “Cuz” passed suddenly of complications from the flu. Both leave beautiful families behind. Another friend has contracted some weird bacteria that left him in the hospital for 45 days! During that time his kidneys failed, he was on life support, had both legs amputated below the knees and some fingers amputated off both hands. His pain level from the amputations was so intense that they had to keep him knocked out on heavy duty pain meds to the point that he was hallucinating and having terrors! He and his wife are raising 5 adopted children all under the age of 10! By the Grace of God, he is alive and undergoing intense rehab to learn to move all over again.

If not getting my oak floors in as scheduled is my biggest problem, I am very blessed.

These are some of the fund raising pages for two of my friends. If you feel like you can give anything to either one of these, your donation will be used well and so appreciated.

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https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/55w3/lee-spearman-s-rehab-fund?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=fb_share_stream.share&utm_campaign=BA_FBshare&fb_ref=1808402

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https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/0gex2?psid=9a0ab849f5674601b44e02a8ac55e393





contract vs covenant

28 01 2013

I hate learning things the hard way! The new lesson, which is just an old one revisited, is to get it in writing! This film business is just that. A business. Networks do not care about your (or my) personal problems. If you are not smart enough to protect yourself they will take advantage.

Case in point:

Last September I was working on Ironman 3. My union contract was good and the production company was respectful. My health insurance and my retirement fund were being paid into each day, plus my hourly rate plus over time plus rental of the equipment in my kit. My boss lady was a hoot and I enjoyed every day of work with her. All in all, I would say it was an excellent job. And getting to watch Robert Downey Jr. and Ben Kingsley acting…. what is not to love??

While working this good job, I got a call from another production that needed some rather urgent help. Their actors were going to do a satellite interview the next day and they had no one to do hair and make up for them. I was scheduled to work on IM3 but my boss lady agreed to let me off for the day so I could help my friends out. Talk of money ensued and I agreed to be paid half of the going rate for this job as a favor to them and because it would cover my expenses. Frankly, I was also hoping to get some more work on their show when IM3 finished filming. Here is the lesson… all the money promises were verbal!!! DUH! At the end of the work day, I turned my invoice in to the production manager and she  promptly told me that my rate was not in their budget and they never negotiated such a rate with anyone. During the conversation, she changed the, so called, budgeted amount twice! Hmm.

I have called my union and I have prayed but it appears that I am going to have to learn this lesson the hard way. I still have not been paid because it turns my stomach to accept the amount they have “budgeted”. ( 1/3 of my already discounted wage) By the way, this is a major television network. I can not tell you which one but you can probably figure it out. And, this in no way reflects the hair and make up department on this production. Their hands are tied as tightly as mine by the lack of a written agreement.

Lesson learned. Again. Producers are not my friends. They are business associates. My jobs are the means by which I earn the money to do the things that life is made of! My bills are paid. My mission trip to Spain is covered. I have food in my pantry and clothes on my back.

I am still blessed and highly favored. God has my back and He meets all my needs according to His riches. He has NEVER devalued me! He paid it all and He made a covenant with me that is irrevocable. He has a plan for my life and no man can alter that plan.

Thanks for listening. Moving on. Oh, and get it in writing!!





Looking for the rainbow with a crushed heart

18 09 2012

After the war the term, passive aggressive, found its way into civilian psychiatric practice and for many years was listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the bible of the mental health trade. According to the revised third edition (DSM-III-R, 1987), someone had PAPD if he displayed five or more of the following behaviors:

(1) procrastinates, (2) sulks or argues when asked to do something he doesn’t want to do, (3) works inefficiently on unwanted tasks, (4) complains without justification of unreasonable demands, (5) “forgets” obligations, (6) believes he is doing a much better job than others think, (7) resents useful suggestions, (8) fails to do his share, or (9) unreasonably criticizes authority figures.

This term sparked my interest about a year ago when a co-worker called me passive aggressive. I truly thought it was humorous when I called her “princess” after she had verbally attacked me and was acting like a spoiled brat. It was my way of jabbing her without actually knocking her block off, which is what I really wanted to do. Hmm, sounds passive aggressive to me.

Although her behavior after that remark got her fired by the producers of my show and put a possible irreparable rift in our relationship, she did me a favor. I took her name calling to heart and decided to take inventory of myself concerning my attitudes. I discovered I was often, indeed, P.A. I do not like this character trait and so I have purposed to change it. I am learning to say what I mean but still keep the balance of respecting the person I am speaking to. Respect and dignity are extremely important in any relationship. The lack of respect for me is what has put the rift in my relationship with this person. There was a lot of behind the back, negative talk coming from this “princess”. (I still think that is funny.)

This past week, I had to put some words to a very uncomfortable situation. I had to forgo any P.A. vocabulary and talk straight in an eye to eye conversation. It has been gut wrenching for me but I spoke in truth and love. It did not result in an acceptable solution, but I was as honest as I know how to be.

Since my husband passed away in April of 2011, I have been forced to re-invent myself. I no longer have the safe covering of a husband who had only my best interest at heart but I have the assurance that God is my covering and my protector. I am learning how to listen for His voice in my spirit. He gives me the courage and the dignity I need to keep moving forward. He has given me a stern warning that has raised up in me the courage to obey, no matter the cost.

I am reminded that He alone is my safe place. He has promised to never forsake me. He gave up everything to come and rescue me. He is my hero. I am still looking for the rainbow even though my heart is crushed.





Here is your chance to pay it forward.

24 02 2012

If you have ever had a headache, raise your hand. (my hand is raised) 

If you have ever had a migraine, raise your other hand. (Thanking God, my hand is not raised)

How long did your worst headache last? An hour, a day, a month? Seven weeks????

Can you imagine having a debilitating migraine for 46 days? That is the reality in my friend, Jennifer McGee’s life.

She has been to doctors, to the local emergency room, to Duke University hospital to see leading doctors that treat migraines. All to no avail. No one or no treatment has been able to break this migraine.

She has to stay in a quiet, darkened room because noise and light heighten the pain.

But there is hope, there is this an opportunity where we can all help her.

She is now in Dallas, Texas where there is a doctor who has pioneered a new treatment for migraines. His operation costs about $50,000. This proceedure has worked in 4,998 people out of 5000! The pain instantly disappears, and the person never has another migraine headache!

Blue Cross, Blue Shield of North Carolina has refused to cover this. They have refused to talk to the doctors and absolutely refused to cover this procedure. Twice! UGH!!!

My Pastor has decided to re-mortgage their house and do whatever it takes to get this procedure done as soon as possible so her suffering will end.

Already the saints of God have responded in a powerful outpouring of donations; over $25,000 has been given.

Jennifer is the wife of my Pastor and the first lady of my church, a mother and home schooler to her three sons. She works in hospital administration. Jennifer is smart, fun, compassionate and has a heart to help… everyone. And now, she can’t even leave the room.

She has been an invaluable friend to me, especially during the last years of Ed’s life. On our many ambulance trips to the emergency room, Jennifer would meet me there and help me to remain calm and focused through the trials that Ed’s illness brought about. When Ed was put on an extremely restricted diet, Jennifer cooked meals for him 3 days a week and brought them to the house while I was working out of town. Ed loved and respected Jennifer so much that she could get him to try things that no one else could. The last day of Ed’s life, Jennifer stuck to me like glue, even sleeping in a chair in the ICU.

Jennifer is family to me. My kids would all agree.

If you would like to, you can help Jennifer by giving throughwww.Rockwilmington.com, view the video by Pastor George Brantley, and give through that link.





Transformations

30 09 2011

It was my intention this morning to read and to post about the upcoming trip to Spain. During the reading portion of my morning, the dog distracted me with barking from my back garden.  While I was still in my PJs and  without the assistance of any foundational under pinnings, I stepped out back and got further distracted by the overgrown weediness of my, so called, serenity garden.

With all of my ADD self, I began pulling random weeds until Bella started to bark at a van that pulled into my drive way. In a tizzy, I dove back into the house and  into the bedroom for some decent, mid-morning apparel. Mission accomplished, I opened the front door to find my friend Carolyn standing there with a shy grin.

“I came to weed your garden.”

I posted on Facebook yesterday that my serenity garden had turned into an anxiety garden because I had neglected it for the past 5 months. As I looked at it I was just overwhelmed and did not know where to start to get it in order again.

Carolyn is the kind of friend who is like a family member. She has spent many hours in my  home and knows how much enjoyment Ed and I always derived from our little haven in the back yard. It bothered her to know that it was causing me to feel anything but peaceful. It bothered her so much that she just showed up at my house with a bucket for weeds and a pair of garden gloves.

What an angel.

In two hours my garden was transformed again into a place of peace and delight.

Not only did we weed and lop off drooping branches, but we hung out together. As we worked together to transform the neglected, weedy mess into something pretty, my thoughts drifted to the ladies of Spain. (who knows that I enjoy a good analogy?) These ladies have been through some very tough times. As I am learning more about Betel Ministries, I am made aware that several of the people in the mission are HIV positive. Some have managed to get out of human trafficking situations. There is nothing pretty or peaceful in all of this. These are very weedy and tangled lives. It is easy to see how they could be overwhelmed at the idea of transformation. Where on earth do you begin when coming out of heroin addiction, alcohol abuse, the sex slave trade and who knows what else?

All I know is God is allowing us the opportunity to touch these broken lives in a way that can bring visible beauty to them. As we apply make up and give new hair styles and speak words of LIFE to them, we are coming along side their Creator and the One Who knows what their destiny will be. He has brought this team together for a time such as this. I do not have to know anything else. I will just try my best to serve and leave the results to God.