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.

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.


Still becoming

27 10 2012

Six words rocked my world.

One question.

It pierced my heart.

My mind went momentarily void.
The hole in my heart ached.
My head nodded a silent, yes.
“Are you Eddie the Baker’s widow?”
Mind reeling, I walked out to my car.
Tears threatened to escape my eyes.
Lungs refused to inhale.
The lump in my throat was excruciating.
Seatbelt locked, I turned the engine over.
Words spun around the inside of me.
No. This can not be who I am.
This is who I am… in part.
My journey continues.
No longer wife, no longer half of a whole.
Then who?
Blessed; confident; talented; smart and tender hearted.
Mother; sister; faithful friend; stumbling Christ follower.
Funny: imperfect: creative; grateful.
These are the tools I will use to re-invent myself.
God is not finished with me yet.
I still have a race to run.

The Voice

13 10 2012

There! Did you feel that? A soft, subtle nudge, directing my steps.

“That’s right, this way. One foot in front of the other. Follow Me.”

His voice sounds a little like my own voice in my head.
This is a calling I have grown to trust. Under the shadow of His wing, I find peace and rest.
The further I lean into His bosom the clearer my mind grows.
Past the grief. Past the sense of isolation.
Gaining the courage to let go of the life I knew as Ed’s wife.
In my widowhood, I am not alone.
Listen, there it is again. The Voice of my Shepherd.
“This is the way. Walk in it. I will never leave you or forsake you.
There is more for you to do. You are not finished yet. I will be with you.
Every step of the way. Follow me.”

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.