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.





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.





Writers, the movie

2 05 2012

I just finished working on a film with Greg Kinnear and Lily Collins. I got to be the Department Head hair stylist again. Each time I do, it is a learning experience for me.

This one is a sweet story called “Writers”. It is an independent that will show at some indie festivals and will surely get picked up by a distributor to be shown in theaters. That is my prediction, so be watching for it next year. The main actors are Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Lily Collins and Nat Wolf

Lily is a sweet girl and a good actress. She was a delight to work with every day even though she was on a whirlwind promotion tour for her movie, “Mirror, Mirror” at the same time as our one month shoot. I think she counted 12 flights to different cites. Some of those were to LA (long flights) and one to Paris! Okay, not even feeling bad for her about that! LOL.

Lily is pretty savy about her style and  very professional for one so young. Once she conveyed her wishes, she sat back and let the magic happen. It was so sweet of her to write in her thank you card to me that she felt good about herself every day when we finished her look. AND she had fun with us!! That means a lot to me. It was not hard to make her look good. This photo was the last night of our film. She had traveled and worked a full day and was still adorable and gracious enough to let us all jump in a photo with her.

Thanks Lily and best of luck in your future. I truly hope to see you do great things.

I actually enjoyed my experience on this film. Greg Kinnear was very interesting and gave me a generous gift card to Best Buy along with a card that thanked me for “many good hair days.” Nat Wolf is another professional young actor and he made me laugh ( at least once) every day! Jennifer Connelly brought her own hair and make up people with her so I had very little interaction with her.

It’s nice to have a positive experience to look back on. As many of us in the film business, I struggle sometimes with insecurity. A good friend and  successful fellow hair stylist said to me, “I am afraid that one day they will discover that I don’t know what I am doing.” I think we have all felt like that at some point in our careers.

A lot depends on the co-workers around you too. Gina Baran did a very good job as my key. I never once felt like I couldn’t trust her to do what is best for our department. That is priceless. After all, why wouldn’t we want to make our department look brilliant?

Hair and Make up have to work very closely. It is good to encourage each other and yet be honest enough to say when something is wrong. We all have some degree of ego in our work so this can be a delicate area. TRUST is of the utmost importance in the make up and hair trailer.





He brought me up out of the pit.

3 11 2011

Ladies were excited as we threw "showers of blessings". Hair and make up products.

The missions director on our trip to Spain, Peggy, asked if I would share my testimony with the ladies there. It was an opportunity to give the unedited version to an audience of all ladies. Well, unedited except for the fact that the schedule required me to speak for no more than 20 minutes. I had no idea how to cram my lifetime into 20 minutes. I prayed. Hard.

Our journey to the conference outside of Madrid consisted of  a plane trip and a trip on the bullet train.  We left the USA on Friday and arrived in Spain Saturday afternoon. When we arrived at the camp I immediately set up a station to do haircuts and styles. I was already sleep deprived but God blessed and we turned out some happy make overs. Lisa did some lovely make up and we began to see some beautiful “chicas” at the conference. We were awake for more than 30 hours before we got our first nights sleep.

Sunday morning, Peggy asked me if I was ready to share. I honestly had no idea in my head of where to start or what to say and I told her so. I had prayed, read some scriptures and meditated on my favorite Psalm but my head was empty! That is when Peggy took the time restraint off and freed me up to just share my heart no matter how long it would take. Still, I had no idea what to say… but God knew exactly what He wanted me to do.

Peggy Laney and Cynthia Mattis had shared some teachings on women in the bible and the role they played in the history and genealogy of Christ. Did you know that an adultress, a prostitute and the wife of a wishy -washy man were all very important women in Bible history? Bathsheba, Rahab and Jael. The teaching on these ladies had set the stage and the spiritual atmosphere for me to tell my story.

I have been through a LOT of stuff in my 59 years and I am a walking miracle. I stood at that podium and felt an immediate connection to these ladies. Even though I needed an interpreter the language was not a barrier because our hearts were the same. The first thing I said is, “I am you.” As I shared my story the order of things began to flow. As I looked out into the audience of 70 women I saw heads nodding in agreement, smiles and at some points in my story, tears. I wept openly as I spoke about losing my husband of 28 years.

I am no different than these ladies and they are no different than me. God has a hope and a plan for my life. He has blessed me with so much and He will bless them with what they need too. Former prostitutes, adulteresses and wives of no account men. When we turn our lives over to a God who loves us, He makes ugly things beautiful. He redeems. He restores. His plan is greater…..

 

 





Where is the passion?

23 09 2011

Anyone who ever spoke to Ed for more than 10 minutes knows that my man loved to travel.  His job on board oil tankers that traveled the world was a natural fit for him. We were still fairly newly weds when he came home and told me about an opportunity he had to take this job. The excitement in his words and the look in his eye was enough for me to know that this was a dream come true for him. Of course, he had to try it. And try it he did, for about ten years. He has been to Russia, Portugal, Spain, Africa, South America, Greece, Israel, Italy, Alaska and Germany to name a few countries. Traveling was a passion for him.

A long time ago, my passion used to be seeing broken people made whole again. Specifically, seeing abused and messed up women find their divine purpose in this life. Everyone has a divine purpose you know. Some of us just get dealt a lousy hand and some others deal themselves a bad hand. Regardless of how or why, this world is full of people who have a destiny that they are missing by a million miles.

I really used to care about this but over the past couple of years I have been more focused on the health issues my husband faced. When he broke his hip and went through two surgeries that landed him him in ICU each time, I stayed home with him until my health insurance was going to be cancelled. Then, he insisted that I go back to work in order to retain it. I worked off and on to keep enough in my account so I wouldn’t lose my insurance. Left to my own devices, I would have stayed with him and let go of my health insurance but he would not hear of it.

Somewhere in this contentious series of events, I lost my conscious contact with my Creator. I prayed , I talked to God but I could not hear Him. Some days, I didn’t even know how to pray so I didn’t. And through it all, I lost my passion.

I have not expressed these thoughts to anyone but, since I don’t have my husband anymore it is hard to care about very much. Why am I still here?  I have fulfilled my wedding vows and, truth be known, I am not really crazy about going on without Eddie. Now, I am not inclined to end my life or anything like that. I mean it when I say that everyone has a divine purpose. Mine has not been fulfilled yet. That is why, a couple of months ago, I began to ask God to revive a passion in me. Remind me what is important and help me to want again to make a difference in this world. Lead me to someone who needs what I can give.

I believe God hears my prayers and He has sent an answer. No one knows what I have been praying. Out of the blue, I have been invited to go to Madrid to take part in an outreach ministry to women who are recovering their lives from devastation. Alcoholism, drug addiction, prostitution, domestic abuse and more. Broken women whom God is reaching and drawing to Himself. I am going to help do some makeovers on women who have lost their identity and their sense of femininity. There is more to tell, but I am well over the recommended 500 words that keep a post interesting.

What are you passionate about? What are you doing with your passion?