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.

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.

Thursday thoughts

14 05 2014

Redeeming the time
Wasted days
God has entrusted us with this gift of life
Every day is a gift from God
Pursue talents and dreams
Run with purpose
Value of time
Invest time on things that matter
Every battle is not worth fighting
Don’t waste valuable time waging war against battles that don’t matter
Stop trying to please people who are never going to be happy
My time is limited.
Let it go and trust God to make it right
Night prayer: God I release all the negatives of this day. I trust You to take care of the outcomes.
Disappointments are inevitable but misery is optional
Prune relationships
Do not tolerate mediocrity
If you don’t let go of the old you won’t have time for the new
Evaluate prayerfully who is your inner circle
Do you need to let some people go
Jesus put the mockery and doubters out. Kept His inner circle with Him and raised up the dead girl.
Some peeps, we must love from a distance
What am I doing with the time God has given me? No excuses. Redeem. Be an on purpose person.


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.


A gift of rejection

15 01 2014

This ADD brain has spiked off the charts in the past few years. Whenever I sit down to write, my brain explodes into a million shards of brilliant ideas. I reach out and grab one, just one, to write about.

I tell myself, “You can do this, Coni. It will be intelligent and interesting. Make this idea into a short story. Maybe turn it into a poem. Nah, that is easier said than done.  Just make a cup of coffee first in the Keurig. It only takes a minute and then you can settle in and create. Who ever thought up the premise for a Keurig Coffee maker? Oh look, I am almost out of Columbian Fair Trade pods. Better put that on the shopping list then I can just wash these breakfast dishes while I wait for the coffee to brew. Hey! Oh no you don’t ADD. You are not gong to take me down a rabbit trail today. Whatever a rabbit trail is. Where do we come up with these sayings? Oh, hahaha. Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall. I get it.” *sips coffee while staring out window*

I finished my last job, Sleepy Hollow, on December 30. Since then, I have been catching up on my rest, re-connecting with friends that are not in the movie business and re-decorating my house. That means, I need to go back to work soon. I am going to leave this for a minute and shoot out a resume right now. Don’t go away.

Resume sent! Now, where were we? Oh yeah, jobs.

I received an unusual gift a few months ago. A low budget movie came to my town and I would have liked to head up the hair department. I sent my resume upon request of the make up artist who had interviewed for her position. I was informed that my resume was “not very impressive.” I was shocked, insulted and horrified. The body of work that I have been blessed to perform over the past 19 + years looked pretty impressive to me. So, how is this a gift?, you ask.

I had a choice to make. Do I just blow them off or do I need to re-evaluate how I am presenting my work? I chose the latter. The most helpful thing I did was to show my resume to a fellow hair stylist, (she actually got the job I was seeking) who was gracious enough to give me some wonderful advice. I spent about a week putting together a good amount of information and I used a completely different format. I even contacted a couple of producers that I  have worked with over the years and asked their permission to use them as a reference. The result was humbling and fulfilling. I double dog dare someone to look at my body of work and label it as unimpressive again. Thanks go out to the un-named production who gave me a wake up call. I can not just rest on my laurels. I am still in the game and must put my best self out there.

Here is one iota of what I get to do for a living and a shameless use of celebrity photo to get your attention.

Marilyn Manson , wigged to look like the 1970s

Marilyn Manson , wigged to look like the 1970s

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.”

I blame it on EastBound and Down

1 11 2013

Sometimes, I end up doing things that I don’t care to do. It does not usually turn out well. I am discovering a delightful freedom in learning to say “no” to things like this. I am trying to be as honest as possible about things. Gone are the days when I make decisions based on what I think you want me to do. I really have no idea what you want.

Having said all that, I find myself in a dilemma that I am trying to work out right now. I am going to blame it on EastBound and Down. But, let me get to the point.

I really enjoy this little gig that I am working right now. It is a day or two each week out of town, which doesn’t really bother me. The paycheck is paying my bills and contributing my health insurance and for that, I am very grateful. The work itself is fun. I am doing hair for the back ground artists on a television series. I enjoy the folks I am working with on set. I still love what I get to do for a living.

The company pays for my hotel stay and here is where it gets sticky for me. I realize that the film industry is all the about the mighty dollar and a good production manager will cut costs wherever possible across the boards. I further understand that my particular position on this production is quite low on the totem pole. I am okay with all of that. That, however, is no reason for me to allow myself to be placed in a situation that is unhealthy or unsafe. The hotels this company puts me in are low budget and dirty at best. I travel with my own cleaning supplies (as many of my co-workers know). I am always thrilled when I don’t have to use them. That has not happened so far on this job. So far, I have asked to be moved from one hotel (a filthy health hazard)

photo 4photo 3photo 2

(this is a sample of what this room had to offer. This is just from the carpet and floor. I can’t even tell you about the bathroom.)

and refused to stay in one in which the doors open to the outside (unsafe). I know that the fellow in charge of booking hotel arrangements is sick of me but it is not my fault that they give us poor accommodations.

Below are pics from the last hotel I was put up in. I was on the first floor and the windows did not lock. This is how they “fixed” the problem for me.



(this is where they put me after I refused to stay in the unsafe hotel)

In order to maintain my self respect, I am going to have to refuse the work on this production and that makes me very sad. I know they will do just fine without me. There is always someone waiting in the wings to take over a position in this business.

Darn you EastBound and Down!!! And thank you for always treating me with dignity and respect, for making every work day an opportunity to raise my game and to improve my craft. Thank you for teaching me that I am worth saying NO to some things. Can’t wait to work with you all again.

BTW, I am available right now. 😉