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.





Just laugh

23 09 2014

“Write Coni”, she said. “You MUST write.
These are the parting words to me from actress, Sally Hawkins. What a sweet and sensitive, creative soul she is. It was my pleasure to work with her on a television pilot titled, How and When. It filmed here in Wilmington in the spring. Together with the guidance of our director / producer, Charlie Kaufman, we created the hair styles for her character. Her face is pure, child-like and mischievous all at once. Sally brought the story teller out in me. She encouraged me to write my life story and assured me that people would be interested. One day I will try again to do that.

Right now, it is the first day of autumn and I am setting my will to write. It is only fitting that I hold Sally responsible for what comes out in my story telling today.
Laughter is one of my favorite things in this world. There is nothing to compare to a good belly laugh. I am convinced it is good for the soul. My husband’s laugh was one of my favorite sounds. I loved making him laugh or watching a comedy routine with him that would make him laugh until his eyes leaked tears down his cheeks. My daughter, Fawn, laughs all the time. Sometimes I wonder what it is she finds so funny and then I remember, she is my kiddo. She too sees the funny in almost everything.
My secret is that I believe laughter has kept me just this side of the boundaries of insanity for most of my life. Without going into great detail, suffice to say I have been through some crazy stuff. Some of it my own making and some that I had no control over at all. Life is what it is. We all have our “stuff.”
The job I am working on now is on the first season of a television series titled, Secrets and Lies. I am in the hair and make up trailer with three other ladies every day for 12 – 15 hours, five days a week. Our job can be stressful and draining or sweet and uplifting on any given day. One thing for sure is that we are all creative. You better believe I find plenty to laugh at in the environment of these creative crazies. We have been known to have after lunch dance parties in the trailer or craft sessions where we cut out pictures in magazines and put the faces of our cast on them. It is our therapy. No telling what can come of it. We actually have several of our pieces of art hanging up all over our cupboard doors that elicit a chuckle or two from those who enter our makeshift art gallery.

One of our camera operators is a man from Italy who speaks English with a strong accent. I love to hear him talk. Last week he asked me, “how do you always  smile?”

I had to think for a minute before deciding on an answer. I said, I just don’t know any better. And then, I went to my inspiration from the movie Elf. Smiling is my favorite.





twenty years and still having a blast.

19 05 2014

In an unashamed attempt to rebuild my audience, I am posting pictures of some of my film work.

I have found my voice again after being silent for too long. I let my care about what others think of me stagnate my words. That concept is a writing killer.

so, let me say, I love you all but I don’t care if you like what I have to say. I am going to write.

But, for today, PICTURES!!!

image  Here I am in my first film endeavor. I was a featured extra in a movie called RadioLand Murders. I came to my first day of filming with my hair done in finger waves that I did myself and soon after was hired on in the hair department for the remainder of the shoot. Ha, God has a sense of humor.

image  Yep, this is my Eddie. He also worked on the same film as a photo double. When they asked if he would be willing to shave his mustache for it if they gave him a hundred dollars more, his reply was, “for a hundred bucks I will shave my legs too.”

image  Marilyn Manson and the wiener in Eastbound and Down.

Army Wives, Catherine Bell, 1980s hair

Army Wives, Catherine Bell, 1980s hair

this is season one of Army wives. Loved every day of working with this lady.

and…….

Sally Pressman/ Army Wives season 1

Sally Pressman/ Army Wives season 1

This lovely lady too.

I have enjoyed this career for twenty years this year and it has been my pleasure to work with many  kind and nice actors. There have been a few stinkers in the mix but, thankfully, they are few and far between.

These are a few of the good ones…

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It takes all kinds to work on a film set. For the most part we are all a little crazy some way or another. I don’t mind crazy. Crazy just adds to the fun.

My favorite films are the ones that have lots of laughter behind the scenes. The older I get, the more I realize that I don’t have to compete with anyone else in my industry. I have my own unique set of skills and so does everyone else on a film set. I have the most fun when I can let go of my fear and my ego and appreciate what each person brings to the table. I am pretty sure this translates to any job. It is in that kind of atmosphere of freedom that a job ceases to feel like work and begins to be a place and time for the creative juices to flow.

well, it appears I found something to say after all.

It would not hurt my feelings at all if you left me indication that you looked at my post today. Thanks for hanging in here with me.





Ponderations

14 05 2014

Every step brings us closer and closer. Even the steps backwards. Sometimes, the backwards steps reveal as much as the steps forward. They cause us to look at a short coming in a new way. We grow more honest with ourselves. Or they give us new insight to the path we should be traveling. If you have ever looked closely at a Monet painting you will most likely agree that his brush strokes can be mesmerizing. Then, we step back a few paces and we see the most glorious water lilies floating, as it seems, on a peaceful pond. That is a new perspective and so worth the backward step.

There have been many times on this life journey that it has become necessary for me to back up and see things differently. I am certainly not all that I will be one day. This widow’s journey has revealed many things to me over the past three years.

I have described my journey as “re-inventing myself”.  I would change that statement now. I am not re-inventing but I am becoming. And wether you know it or not, so are you. We fail. We succeed. We celebrate. We mourn. But we keep moving and changing, growing ever closer to who we are becoming. Every step along the journey is the real us. We may try to hide it under a character default that makes us feel momentarily safe, but the real us is still the one shivering under the disguise.

Okay, hang with me while I reel (real) it in.  I want to share a few ideas with my friends and readers who may feel stuck at the moment. Some of you have shared this sentiment with me recently and it has caused me to ponder. So, here are some of my ponderations.

1. Let’s give ourselves a break. Stop expecting to be perfect. We have never lived this day before, we have no prior experience with it so stop beating ourselves up over mis-steps. Forgive ourselves and keep moving.

2. Let’s give someone else a break today. Who has been insensitive to our needs? Can we just accept it, forgive them for being short sighted and move on? I am talking about the surface things that we let get to us, like being snubbed or getting a rude response to a question. Let’s not let that make or break our day. It almost happened to me yesterday in the super market and I had to ask myself why I would allow a snarky butcher at the meat counter to cause me to feel bad for asking for the fresh chicken breast. I just spent more money on a facial than this person makes in a day. Okay, that  was a mean thought but it made me smile and realize that this person is also on his journey. The little….. nope… not going there again.

3. Do something. Get off the couch, turn off the tv, wash your face and for the love of monkeys, brush your teeth! DO something. Suggestions are: take a walk, call a friend, write a letter (not email… a real letter on paper). DO anything that will change the perspective of looking over your feet in the recliner. DO something different than your normal routine.

4. Take time to appreciate the whole picture. Look at the successes as well as the failures. Surely we have done something right in the past week or so. (permission granted to go as far back in time as we need to find that one right thing). Celebrate the success and learn from the failure. Then forgive the failure. My friend Jennifer taught me to do it something like this: “Well that didn’t work out well. let”s not do it that way again.” Done; move on.

I hope I have made you reflect and smile today. It is not as bad as we think. Keep breathing and keep moving.

Give yourself permission to love yourself today.

 





Bullies and a senior citizen

19 01 2014

On one of my frequent driving excursions for work, I enjoyed a lunch break in front of the fireplace at Cracker Barrel. The first thing the smiling waitress said as she came to take my order was, “I love your hair!” During my lunch, a woman somewhat older than me made it a point to stop on her way by my table to say, “I love your hair. You go girl.” I am not a stranger to comments like these. In fact, if a couple of days go by where no one compliments my hair, I know it is time to touch up my hair color. Purple fades very quickly. If I were not a hair stylist and able to do my own hair color in between salon visits I would never attempt to pull off this color. I love my fabulous, short, mohawk haircut by Paula at  Elsewhere Salon in Wilmington, NC and I love the Pimpin’ Purple hair color we use to make my mohawk POP.

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There is another side to this coin of many compliments. After my lunch on that day, I was leaving the restaurant and heading to my car when I noticed two men entering the restaurant were staring at me. I kept them in my line of vision with a side glance and this is what I saw. They were both smiling. Not the kind and friendly sort of smile but that ridiculing, half smirky, bullying type of smile. One elbowed the other and nodded his head in my direction, which was not really necessary since they were both staring at me already. Then, they looked at each other and burst out laughing, loud and mean spirited. I turned my head to make eye contact with one of the big shots, gave him my most charming smile, tilted my head and winked at him. They both smiled a much kinder smile and then stumbled over each other on the way in the door. I had to giggle when they both, still looking at me, shrugged their shoulders at the same time. I shrugged back at them and proceeded to giggle all the way to my car.

As I got back onto the highway, I replayed that scene and realized a couple of things. First of all, it is true what they say; mean people really do suck. Grown men bullies act pretty much the same as junior high bullies. Bullies are cowards. They band together with like minded creeps to give each other validation. What a boring and non-creative way to spend a life.

Second, I have grown into a confident woman. There was a day when something like that would have completely devastated my day. I am quite happy to know that is not the case, most times, anymore. I can still fall into that pit on occasion but, after a mere six decades, I have grown comfortable with some things about me. I have a quirky sense of style for myself. My world is not rocked anymore when I discover that someone has completely missed seeing what an awesome woman I am. I like the color purple, I like to smile, I like to make people laugh and I like to see people smile. I am not afraid of bullies. I am glad I made the two nice ladies smile. I am glad I made the bullies laugh. And I am glad they made me giggle… all the way to the car.





…. light the corners of my mind

9 09 2012

There is a great story about the trees Ed planted in the front of our home. When we had this house built, we took down all the scrub pines around our property. They were scraggly and when they grew tall, the hurricanes either up rooted them or blew them down. The constant dropping of pine needles and pine cones were a nuisance to clean up. Ed decided to replace the ones in front with some nice, thick evergreen shrubs. He assured me they would grow to about 5 feet when they matured. We liked the idea of having two 5 foot Christmas trees to put lights on during the Holidays. The first year, the shrubs were kind of spindly looking so we decorated with one set of lights on each tree. I say we, but Ed really did all the work. I say “work” because my husband was gifted in many areas but handyman work was not one of his areas. And so it was work to him but he did enjoy the fruits of his labor. Every night, he would turn on the lights and remark on how they made him feel the joy of Christmas.

By the third year we were adding strings of lights and using a ladder to get them around the top. I was out there helping Ed and the Christmas lights became a family chore. I say chore because….. well, you know how it goes. But, we still got much joy each time he lit the trees.

What we never bargained on was the fact that these shrubs were going to keep growing every year until we could no longer get anywhere near the top. I don’t know which year it was that Ed couldn’t even get the lights off the trees and so, in utter exasperation, he decided to just leave them there and we never plugged the lights in again.

twenty years later:

this is how big our two shrubs have grown!!!

Today, I noticed that a lot of the inside branches are dead. I have no idea what to do about it. I am hoping that it doesn’t mean that the trees are diseased and are going to fall on my house sometime soon. I could feel the anxiety beginning to rise in me as I pondered what to do. And as I peered into the tree, i saw something that made me chuckle.

If you look close at the middle of the bare spot, you can see the green cord with evenly spaced, small, white bulbs hanging off it. That old string of Christmas lights conjured up the memory of my love, out front one day, wrestling with an evergreen tree until he finally gave up and let the tree keep her captured treasure.

When I am gone and this home becomes someone else’s, I hope they laugh when they find the string of Christmas lights strung on the inside of their giant trees. Maybe they will be inspired to make up there own Christmas story of how the lights got there.