AUGUST 8, 2020: “As The Darkness Settled In” …

IMG_4785

WAS IT FATE? OR DESTINY?

AUGUST 8, 2019. It started out as a beautiful day for our family. We all woke up to a beautiful sky. Ate breakfast together. Worked out as a family, then split up for the afternoon so Zack could go to his therapist and Gia and I could go run errands on our own. He seemed happy. We were both working SO hard to keep his head above the water, and I, ever the eternal optimist, was counting on the fact that everything was going to be okay and we were going to get him out of the darkness he’d been succumbing to. Little did I know how the darkness was truly settling in around us as Fate was spinning the wheel …

At just after 2pm, while the rest of the world was just turnin’ and burnin’ and Gia and I were out shopping, playing, and getting ready for our “double date” with the boys, the love of my life and one of the MOST beautiful souls I’ve ever known (and might possibly EVER will have known) was standing at the Cabella’s counter just a few parking lots away buying the Springfield handgun he used to shoot himself in the head just 14 days later.

!!! PLEASE !!!

Wherever you are …

Whatever you are doing …

Take a good look around you NOW!

One of those “happy, smiling faces” you see either standing right beside you or faded into some crowd may be the face of a human being who is silently dying inside.

ESPECIALLY NOW DURING THESE TURBULENT TIMES!

Current studies show that social isolation, anxiety, fear of contagion, uncertainty, chronic stress, and economic difficulties have led to the development and/or or exacerbation of depression, anxiety, substance use and other mental illnesses. Given that stress-related psychiatric conditions including mood and substance use disorders are associated with suicidal behavior, IT’S NO SURPRISE THAT SUICIDE RATES HAVE SKYROCKETED!

!!! PAY ATTENTION !!!

Eyes wide open!

Take nothing and no one for granted …

NOT EVEN THE “HAPPY FACES” YOU SEE!

Be mindful always!

You just never know!

For the record, this post wasn’t meant to make you sad. It was meant to make you MINDFUL of others … and more so that everything isn’t always what it seems.

I am going to do everything I can to stay peaceful, joyful, and hopeful today and keep my feet on the ground, BECAUSE … I CAN! While “August 8, 2019” is indeed a huge part of “my story”, it doesn’t mean I can’t let it play out for the better. This fucked up, fate-filled day in will NOT have been in vain and will not define me as a victim. I am choosing to do something else with it. I am choosing to spin it as “Destiny” … NOT “FATE”!

I am passionate about raising awareness of “mental health mindfulness” and this one blog post that I wrote last September is one of my most clicked, read, and shared pieces so far. That’s a good thing! Please share it if you can so that perhaps more people will remember to be mindful of this other “mask” problem in our world right now.

Make it a good day everyone. HUG your loved ones and take care of one another.

~ Cat

 

cropped-cats-metal-signature-logo-1.jpg

AUGUST 7, 2020: “Of Kings And Queens” …

GHVZ5582

OF KINGS AND QUEENS

I saw these words posted on the Instagram page of a friend of sorts. He’s a musician, an inspirer, a widow, and also a pirate that I follow and whose posts I thoroughly adore:

 “… listen to her thoughts … adore her like no one could ever do … be more than just a text message … be the air they breathe, future they plan and smile they wear everywhere … live to have her hug you from behind … write her letters and hold hands while kissing … love until your heart is empty … and then love some more … BE HER EVERYTHING …”. (from The Diary Of An Outlaw Music)… for the record …

How lucky am I to have had TWO kings on Earth? Not just one … TWO! Some women never have one! The “two kings” loved me to the depths of their souls, with every shred of what they had to give – UNCONDITIONALLY. The two of them made me into the true QUEEN that I am and I cannot say it enough! I’M A FORTRESS NOW PEOPLE! An impermeable FORTRESS!

My King in Heaven is pretty smitten with me by the way … I can feel His loving hands wrapped around my heart every second of every day. My truly blind faith in Him only pales in comparison to the faith He’s had in me since before I was even born, and He has loved me like the QUEEN He intended me to be long before any man on this Earth ever did. Is there to be “one last king” in this realm for me? Only He knows that and He’s got this! If there is, there is. If there isn’t, so be it. I’ve been there, and done that, and the legacies of love the two of them left for me are more than enough to fill my heart for the NEXT fifty years without them if that is to be the case. My standards are obnoxiously high now, and as I’ve said before, it would take one HELL of a powerful presence of a man to stand with the shadows of the two loves of my life that came before him. I know who I am, EXACTLY what I’m worth, and EXACTLY who is worthy of my attention and affection, much less being put on a pedestal. I will accept NOTHING but a king again. Nothing. No one. EVER! Unless and until that day comes that “the last king on Earth” comes to find me, I’ll continue to reign here in my kingdom “happily alone”. THIS CROWN ON MY HEAD IS GOING NOWHERE!

As for the next 50 years? Only time will tell …

 

cropped-cats-metal-signature-logo-1.jpg

AUGUST 5, 2020: “Open Up Your Eyes” …

IMG_4652

Yesterday morning I woke up to another one of those magical music moments I have come to love and cherish wherein my son, Christian, communicates what he’s feeling by simply texting me a song. As I’ve said, his music messages are one of my greatest treasures in this life, and ironically, Zack would often do the very same thing, which of course I treasured just as much. But once again I’ve digressed. Sufficed to say, today my own eyes are open wide and I’m beyond thankful that my beautiful King FINALLY found the peace he could never find.

But as they laid him in the ground, her heart would sing with out a sound :: For the first time you can open your eyes, and see the world without your sorrow when no one knows the pain you left behind …“.

I can only imagine what it was like for him that night … August 22, 2019, “just before midnight … that split second after he pulled the trigger and his eyes closed for the very last time.

WHAT did he see when at last he opened them?

HE SAW JESUS!

I JUST KNOW IT!

God had His hand on my husband’s beautiful head at all times, even while he was roaming this Earth like the motherless and forsaken “trash can boy” he always saw when he looked into a mirror. And I am still the most blessed woman I have ever known to have roamed this Earth as well. How is that even possible you ask? Because God has had His hand on MY head at all times as well, be it during my greatest triumphs and joys or darkest tragedies and traumas. And too, this …

MARK 2:17 :: When Jesus heard this, He told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

Make it a good day everyone and always keep the faith! Remember, “this is our temporary home“, nothing more, nothing less. The best part of all of this is still yet to come!

cropped-cats-metal-signature-logo-1.jpg

JULY 23, 2020: “Closer To The Heart” …

IMG_4245CLOSER TO THE HEART

“And the men who hold high places must be the ones who start to mold a new reality closer to the heart … The blacksmith and the artist reflect it in their art. They forge their creativity closer to the heart. Yes, closer to the heart … Philosophers and plowmen – each must know his part to sow a new mentality closer to the heart … You can be the captain and I will draw the chart sailing into destiny closer to the heart.” ~ Rush

Yes, I’ve been missing for a minute. Once again, I’m overwhelmed with overwhelmingness, which is a good thing of course! Tonight, I’m trying to catch back up with myself here at my desk. So, with that …

This afternoon I dropped Gia and her friend at the mall to get them out of the house for a couple of hours and let her spend some of her weekend birthday haul. When I arrived at the appointed meeting spot, they jumped into the car with the small boatload of shopping bags they each had. “Whoa, looks like you both did some damage! Show me what you got!” “Oh but just WAIT until you see Mom! You’ll have to wait until we get home for the unveiling ceremony though!”

When we got home, she excitedly started the “unveiling”, saving the best three items for last. As she pulled them out of their respective bags, my heart literally LEPT out of my chest! Batman, Venom and the “Farewell To Kings” vinyl? She is her mother’s daughter! Let me break it down …

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

HOLY SMOKES BATMAN! Have you listened to anything I’ve said? Batman is and will always be my favorite superhero of all times, but did you know he’s not really a “superhero” at all? He’s a mortal man born with no magical powers or gifts who epitomizes the endless possibily of a triumphant human spirit and metamorphosis under even the most dismal conditions. He’s the benchmark standard for achievement through commitment, discipline, heart, soul, and determination. He’s the juxtaposition of “light with dark”, “positive with negative” and “ying to yang”. BATMAN BECAME WHO HE WANTED TO BECOME BY PULLING HIMSELF OUT OF HIMSELF FOR THE BETTERMENT OF ALL MANKIND! So, yes, my daughter knows what I know, and yes, Batman is her favorite too. She and I both have black capes on our backs in case you didn’t know. You just can’t see them BECAUSE THEY’RE INVISIBLE!

VENOM! Again … have you listened to anything I’ve said? To better understand the “Venom” of it all (or as I often refer to it, “the Black Spider-Man suit of it all”), let me explain by first clarifying who he is, as there is much debate amongst the Spider-Man community as to this subject. “Is Venom actually Spider-Man? Is he just Venom? IS HE BOTH?” Factually speaking, the Venom movie has absolutely no relation to Spider-Man. Within the pages of Marvel Comics however, it’s a somewhat complicated storyline.

Venom first appeared in 1984 in the “Secret Wars” storyline when Spider-Man came into possession of the mysterious black suit that gave him extra powers, which suit is later revealed to be a malevolent alien symbiote that attached itself to Peter Parker. Although Parker soon rid himself of the suit because of its inherently evil nature and propensity to channel an inner darkness inside himself that he didn’t want channeled, the symbiote ended up bonding with Eddie Brock instead, a reporter with a serious grudge against Spider-Man. Eddie Brock and the black suit then became symbiotically bonded as “Venom”. So then, no, Venom is not Spider-Man. To me, however, “the black suit” does represent the dark alter ego of Spider-Man. It’s a thick, black, suffocative web of synthetic, enmeshed, entangled and toxic emotions that overtakes and chokes the life out of its host, much like “the black suit” I fought so desperately to shed for more than forty years, the one my son still wears, and the one my beautiful husband was wearing as he slipped away into the abyss. “The Greatest Battle Lies Within” and the accompanying “Venom of it all” are so much more than just words and comic book characters to me. And my daughter feels the same way!

… and finally …

“CLOSER TO THE HEART”! I’ve always loved Rush and I’ve always loved this album. “A Farewell To Kings”? Really? No, there’s not a shred of irony in my beautifully chaotic life, is there? Lol! No need for me to really go any further with this, as the words to this song speak volumes to the connection between me and both my kids. Her “unintentionally purposed” shopping spree today brought us even closer than we already were.

DEAR GOD: THANK YOU! For everything. No, I really mean it. THANK YOU! For the positive. The negative. The yings. The yangs. The pain. The beauty. The love. The hate. The gifts You sent that I had to give back. THANKS EVEN FOR THAT DAMNED BLACK SPIDER-MAN SUIT I HAD TO WEAR FOR ALL THOSE YEARS! Taking it off and finally being free wouldn’t have seemed so, FREEING, if I hadn’t gotten to wear it in the first place. And thank you for the cape you wove for me as I’m flyin’ through Gotham just tryin’ to be a Light in all this Dark! Every second … every minute … every hour … I’m growing closer to YOUR heart most of all! 

 

cropped-cats-metal-signature-logo-1.jpg

JULY 14, 2020: “Yes, AGAIN With The Flowers!” …

IMG_4105

As I’ve already said before, from the first week he married me there was NEVER a time there were “no fresh flowers” in our home somewhere for me. Some he sent. Some he picked up. The method of their delivery didn’t matter to me either way … I JUST REALLY LOVE FRESH FLOWERS! He only had to hear me say it once and the rest is merely history. As our lives got busier and his career took off, there were some weeks that he just couldn’t get them, so I started making fresh flower arrangements on my own to fill the void. My little treks to all my favorite flower haunts soon became one of the brightest spots of my week (and still are to this day)! It always made him so happy to walk into our home and find that I’d “treated myself” like the true queen he made me. He always wanted me to see myself as one, with or without him, which is something I will not only cherish, but HONOR for not only him, but myself as well, as long as I shall live.

Sufficed to say, not a week has passed since the day he left, nor will there EVER be, that there haven’t been fresh flowers in this castle he left behind for me. I’m entitled to treat myself like the queen that I am, because, I’M A QUEEN who deserves only the best treatment from anyone and everyone, up to and including myself!

Zack also brought flowers to our daughter quite often, and sometimes to ONLY her, which I loved and so did she. Part of my process with her now is to deeply imprint into her psyche that SHE TOO IS A QUEEN! It’s not uncommon for us to be at the market and her to run off and come back with flowers she chooses for herself. I’ve made her promise that when it’s time for her to leave this nest she’ll remember to get herself flowers often, regardless of whether there’s a man in her life. Because? SHE CAN DO THAT!

LADIES :: I once again challenge every one of you to and go and get YOURSELF some flowers this week! They don’t have to be expensive. You can make your own arrangement with flowers from the grocery store and wildflowers or even weeds growing on the side of the road, which is par for the course with me. If you do “go and get yourself some flowers”, PLEASE MESSAGE ME A PICTURE OF THEM! It would absolutely make my day to see that I’ve made a ripple in your pond with this thought process!

Much love to all of you from Dallas, Texas, USA!

~ Cat

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

cropped-cats-metal-signature-logo-1.jpg

 

 

JULY 3, 2020: “Lucky Charms Moments” …

lucky charms

cropped-cats-metal-signature-logo-1.jpg

JUNE 16, 2020: “Day 300, And, Death Is STILL Nothing At All” …

Death

Death Is Nothing At All

cropped-cats-metal-signature-logo-1.jpg

JUNE 9, 2020: “Everything” …

Last night while I was in my closet “thinking about thinking about” tackling “Zack’s stuff” (which, PS, is all still either hanging or sitting completely untouched and exactly as it was the last time he walked out of this house at 8:00pm on August 22, 2019), I stumbled upon the little box of trinkets my son has given me over the years, not the least of which is the Godiva Chocolate box itself! You see, it was empty when he secretly pulled it out of the trashat age ten, only to put a handwritten love note from him to me inside it. My favorite thing, however, is the Circa 1999 “Valentine’s Day stick” that he wrapped in a napkin a few years before that at age seven.

With this, I was joyfully and HOPEFULLY reminded of all the wonderful gifts this boy has brought to my life over the years, not the least of which is the only unconditional love from a human I’d ever known prior to Zack, and then, of course, the inspiration to LIVE, fight and change a very broken and toxic family cycle. No matter what “things” I have or never have, or “have had and lost”, I am woman who is still blessed with literally EVERYTHING! Perhaps the best part of finding this little box of goodies last night, especially in light of what I was attempting to do in that closet in the first place, is that finding the “little box of trinkets” literally STOPPED me from “thinking about thinking about” falling apart in the midst of all Zack’s “stuff”. I’m serious people, THIS is how my life works. It’s all good. It’s all God. It’s exactly as it needs to be. Just sayin’ …

cropped-cats-metal-signature-logo.jpg

JUNE 8, 2020: “Imma Little Bit Off Today” …

IMG_2908
Last night while the unsuspecting world was either peacefully sleeping or maybe even wresting with the Devil, something cool happened in the subculture I live in called “Knucklehead” – the official video release for one of my other favorite songs, “A Little Bit Off”. I just woke up to Christmas in June and couldn’t be any more stoked! PICTURE IT: An almost “fifty ONE-derful”, seemingly “normal” woman sitting in bed singing along to a ridiculous music video, swaying back and forth and waving her fist in the air! THAT. SO. HAPPENED!

IMG_2912If you haven’t figured it out by now, much like the leader of this crazy Pride I’m in, I too am an “oxymoron”, and in being honest, my Knucklehead card is one of the most powerful things I own. “THE REAL CAT WILLIAMSON”: Loves “people”. Hates “humanity”. Loves “Light”. Hates “dark”. Loves “love”. Hates “hate”. Loves being “broken”. Loves “being whole”. LOVES JESUS! Loves Five Finger Death Punch! And yup, there are MANY days I just wake up feeling “a little bit off”, and guess what? THAT’S OKAY! I spent nearly an entire lifetime being ashamed of the train wreck I’ve emerged from BUT NOW I FUCKING EMBRACE IT! Leave it to this gang of creatively genius, beautifully DISASTROUS “oxymoronical” MANIACS to help me finally figure out that not only is it okay for me to be a jacked up effing mess some times, it’s also okay for me to yell, scream and holler it ANY DAMN TIME I WANT! So, with that, make it a great day everyone! Here’s to hoping YOU can embrace your “little bit off” days too!

… {PS} …

If you really want to know more about me and what goes on inside my crazy little head? Listen to the words of this song! Then if you really, REALLY want to know what goes on inside my crazy little head? The Charlie “The Engine” drums at :55, 1:39 and 2:30 manifest actual metal butterflies inside my heart that give me flipping chill bumps. No, really!

THIS IS ME: “A Little Bit Off!”

Would you have me ANY other way?

cropped-cats-metal-signature-logo-1.jpg

JUNE 6, 2020: “Into The Lion’s Den” …

lEOIt took me a minute to find the perfect words to memorialize a HUGE turning point in my life, especially given the magnitude of this decision and how it will ultimately and most definitely change the course of my life going forward. I’m goin’ in people …

INTO THE LION’S DEN!

By now you must know that there have been very few men in my life that have positively affected my journey. LESS THAN TWO HANDFULS! I’m a half a century old, and I’m not gonna lie, my experience with most men thus far as been dismal to say the least. As I’m sure you also know by now, my husband Zack has been the most influential man of my existence since walking into my life eleven years ago. But did you also know there’s been ANOTHER male presence in the background for the last five years that’s been running a pretty close second? 

Sean Whalen isn’t for everyone, and neither is his “Lions Den” coaching group. I’m not gonna lie, the guy is kinda severe! He’s famous for telling it exactly the way it is with VERY little sugar-coating for the truths that no one really wants to hear about themself, and he’s even more famous for ripping people brand assholes with the bullshit that comes from their own mouth. For me, however, his mentoring style, which is very much like that of my husband’s, with errrr, perhaps, a little more of a “kick”, lol, has thus far proven to be one the best parts of my journey. Perhaps the greatest irony in this whole thing is that when I first stumbled across one of Sean’s post five years ago (the one referenced in the video below), Zack kept saying:

“Just join The Den honey. Do it. I’m serious. Yah, maybe his delivery is a little rough around the edges, but his mindset is fucking genius. The reason his messages keep pissing you off is because they are deflecting things you don’t like about yourself right to you. He’s making you mad because what he’s saying is right and YOU CAN’T FUCKING STAND IT! You spend more on your coffee every day than it will cost you to officially join, so what are you waiting for? JUST DO IT!”

In my mind, however, “leading me” was my husband’s job, which, by the way, in case you haven’t figured it out by now, he did effectively and WELL! In fact, it wasn’t until Zack that I respected any man enough to let them lead me, so why the hell would I pay THIS Sean guy when I got free “coaching and mentoring” from my husband?

So, with that, I’ve decided to just let a short string of messages in  conjunction with the intro video I was required to make upon entrance to “The Den” speak to this turning point in my life on their own …

Whalen

JUNE 5, 2020: “Good Morning Vietnam!” …

I’ll do everything in my power to keep this as short as possible, but can’t make any promises. So, let me go back to the very first glimpse of the rabbit hole I almost fell in after an entire week of being chastised, reprimanded, scolded, and all but BURNED ALIVE ON A CROSS for voicing my opinions, feelings, views and support for the personal “bandwagon” I have jumped on amidst what I truly believe is “Atlas Falling“.

Let it be known that of all the punches I’ve taken the last few days, the worst was a comment by a now “former friend” who calls herself a Christian: “Wow, so glad to finally see you!” (Nope, it wasn’t a compliment.) Really? You “see me”? Tell me oh faithful and God-fearing woman exactly what you see? You SEE nothing! You KNOW nothing! Nothing of me, my heart, or my intentions. You heard me say “I love oranges”, then took it upon yourself to assume I don’t also love apples and pears! Who the FUCK are you to judge me by picking only the lines that best suit your “schooling” on my beliefs? Meanwhile …

Last night, 6/4/2020, around 5:53PM, THIS happened …

… which then led to THIS, also last night, around 8:00PM …

… and THEN THIS, around 8:21PM …  

… at which point I felt a little better and was able to fall asleep in peace. But alas, that victory was short-lived, because THEN I woke up to this …

IMG_2816

This particular Facebook “memory” could not have come at a worse time. I mean, seriously? I had just recovered from almost falling backwards less than eight hours prior, so I should have been all set, right? Yah, not so much. And let me tell you why …

I mentioned in an earlier post that it was Mother’s Day 2019 that was the beginning of his descent, but truth be told? It was more so THIS day, June 5, 2014, six long years ago, that truly earmarked the onset of his unravelling, which night still haunts me to this day! After we got home from our long-awaited day out, I’d been getting ready for bed I only to find him waiting in that bed in a state of transcendental being that I’d never really seen. He was so deep in thought, lost somewhere inside his own mind that only God will ever know where he’d gone, but this much I can tell you: “Where he went” must have been pretty dark. I could see it through the glaze in his eyes. He was so far away in a place that must have been so painful that he never even realized I was sitting right beside him. “Baby? Hello? Hello? Is everything okay? Where were you just now?” I had to physically push his arm to manage his attention. Much to my chagrin, however, when he turned his head to look at me there were tears rolling down his face. It’s one of the most heart-breaking visuals I have still yet to release from my own mind with an accompanying monologue I can still hear him saying in answer to my question:

“Catherine, I don’t think I ever realized ‘what I never had’ growing up until now. What she never gave me. What she never did for me, but she DID do for all of them. Going through all of this with you has been a blessing and a curse. She threw me away. They all did. Every one of them. It’s as though I just don’t exist. I wasn’t good enough for her. For them. They never wanted me. I’m nothing.”

So? After seeing that post this morning? I … just … COULDN’T! Six years ago tonight, around 9 o’clock pm, is when the earthly King who led me to all the best parts of myself that I needed to “become” started down the path to his fate. Despite everything he was battling inside and the next five beautiful years of joy he both experienced and brought to us, “that place” he went when he was sitting in that bed? He never really came back from it! 

IMG_2841There I was, just laying in bed this morning, unable to face the empty spot beside me where the most influential human man I’ve ever known once ruled the entirety of my being, so I turned the other way to avoid looking in that direction. Instead, however, I was fixated on the wall where the light seeping through the blinds that shroud the windows was trying desperately to reach me. I was somewhat paralyzed and too numb to even cry …

… until I picked up my phone yet again and saw THIS …

IMG_2822 which THEN led to THIS, around 10:54AM …

… and ultimately THIS profound conclusion: 

GOOD MORNING VIETNAM!

I’m STILL a fortress. I’m STILL a queen. I’m STILL the strongest bitch I’ve ever met with the GREATEST King of all that has never and will NEVER fail me! As par for the course, He’s already got this whole “Atlas is falling” thing figured the HELL OUT, and not just for me … FOR ALL OF US … even Zack! If I so much as “think about thinking about” letting this CASTLE I’ve become crumble, He bombards me with signs and love notes from His heart and reminds me that I am never gonna be all alone. Even as I write this, there are people I don’t know, places I’ve never been, and moments yet to be had being woven by the Master’s hands into the tapestry of my life!

“Help me … ’cause I can’t do this on my own!”

This morning He answered my cry with the most beautiful Molotov cocktail I’ve ever seen through a picture and the words of a stranger: “You fukin go kick ass today!!!!” So, with that, “I’m going back in” with everything He’s given me for the battlefield, including “words and validations” from total strangers, and everything IS gonna be okay!

HEAVEN HELP ME

“When I can’t find the words. When I can barely breathe. I’m falling on my knees. Heaven help me. Heaven help me. When I can’t feel You near, and I can’t hear You speak. I’m falling on my knees. Heaven help me. Heaven help me. Help me. Help me. ‘Cause I can’t walk this road alone, and I can’t do this on my own. Tell me. Tell me. I just need to hear You say that everything will be okay. When I don’t understand. When I don’t think I can. I know You have a plan, so Heaven help me. Heaven help me. Help me. Help me. ‘Cause I can’t walk this road alone, and I can’t do this on my own. Tell me. Tell me. ‘Cause I just need to hear You say that everything will be okay. Help me believe it. When I can’t see it. Help me to know it. When I can’t hold it …” ~ Zach Williams

cropped-cats-metal-signature-logo-1.jpg

MAY 30, 2020: “Overwhelmed With Overwhelmingness” …

IMG_E2617

cropped-cover.jpg

MAY 24, 2020: “Reopening A Gift” …

IMG_E0855THE GIFT

“Hold me now I need to feel relief. Like I never wanted anything. I suppose I‘ll let this go and find a reason I’ll hold on to. I’m so ashamed of defeat. And I’m out of reason to believe in me. I’m out of trying to get by.  I’m so afraid of The Gift You give me. I don’t belong here and I’m not well. I’m so ashamed of the lie I’m living right on the wrong side of it all.  I can‘t face myself when I wake up and look inside a mirror. I’m so ashamed of that thing. I suppose I‘ll let it go ’til I have something more to say for me. I’m so afraid of defeat. And I‘m out of reason to believe in me. I‘m out of trying to defyI’m so afraid of The Gift You give me. I don’t belong here and I’m not well. I’m so ashamed of the lie I’m living right on the wrong side of it all. Hold me now I need to feel complete. Like I matter to The One I need. I’m so afraid of The Gift You give me. I don’t belong here and I’m not well. I’m so ashamed of the lie I’m living right on the wrong side of it all. Now I’m ashamed of this …” ~ Seether

Today is the fifteen year anniversary of the release of one of the most impactful songs of my life, Seether’s “The Gift”. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I actually heard it for the first time though, Monday, April 21, 2008, just a year ahead of the nervous breakdown I’d been trying SO hard to avoid when the Circadian that had been my life finally crashed into the wall.

I remember it vividly. I’d been out running errands and was approaching the house in which I dwelled that was certainly not a home when it availed itself on my cue. From that first solemn chord, the forlonging guitar began cutting me like a knife as I pulled into the garage. I couldn’t shut my car off and was compelled to sit and listen as the words began to play. Then, out of nowhere, a barrage of tears washed over me, literally and metaphorically. I was so numb and paralyzed in the moment that I couldn’t even lift my arms to wipe my eyes. I could neither breathe nor feel my fingertips as the music began manifesting a truly physical aching inside my heart.

When it was over, I just sat there trying to gather myself before having to walk back inside the lie that had become my life. Before I knew it, my son and daughter appeared in the doorway. He was holding her in his arms as they both smiled and waved to greet me, completely oblivious to the sobering reality that I was secretly dying.

That night, after everyone was asleep, I sat down at my computer to write a letter to God in this “Diary Of My Perfection”, which was then merely an outlet for my very private hell. The words to the song said everything that needed to be said at that moment, and thus my entry, “APRIL 21, 2008: I’m A Gift. I’m A curse.

Here I am, fifteen years to the day that one of the most beautiful “gifts” I never knew I needed became a part of the tapestry of my beautifully woven life. It took a lot of truly blind faith, time, accountability, honesty, self-discovery, and patience, forgiveness and grace for and with myself to be sitting in this chair writing this, and not a second goes by that I don’t remember how lucky I am to simply be alive!

When I listen to this song now my emotions are a paradox, as on one hand I can smile as I look back and realize how far I’ve come, but on the other, I am sadly reminded of a night just weeks before he left that my beautiful husband also listened to this song while we were driving home from “somewhere” and silent tears began falling from his eyes. It rips my fucking heart out when I think of how helpless and hopeless it felt to watch him dying right in front of me and even more so that he was never able to see what a gift to this world he truly was.

If I had one wish for anyone reading this and struggling to find “The Gift”, it’s that that they listen to this song in a very quiet place and really sit with all the chords and words as you let them break you down. The answer is inside you, I promise that it is, so challenge yourself to find it. Your weakness is your strength. Being broken makes you whole. THE PAIN THAT YOU FEEL IS THE GIFT! Do the work, take your time, CRY OUT TO JESUS and find your way back “home”.

And by the way, it’s okay to feel sadness and grief for the things that have died inside of you, and it’s certainly okay to cry. Now that I think of it? It’s such a blessing that one of my favorite verses of the Bible also happens to be the shortest: JOHN 11:35: Jesus wept. So, yes – GO AHEAD AND CRY … AS OFTEN AS YOU NEED TO! GET MAD! SCREAM LOUD! Do what you must to let yourself “feeleverything that’s hurt you so can finally let it go! Then someday when it’s time for you to sit back and marvel at what you’ve survived? Listen to this song again and maybe, like me, you’ll find that ONLY these words remain …

“… now I feel relief … I’ll hold on … I do belong here and I’m well … I’m living right …  I can face myself when I wake up and look inside a mirror … I let it go … I have something more to say for me …I believe in me … I defy … now I feel complete … like I matter to The One I need … now I’m THIS … I’M THE GIFT!” 

69558d69-7ecd-4849-a4e1-bba9d6e1c8cf

cropped-cats-metal-signature-logo-1.jpg

MAY 17, 2020: “There Was Jesus” …

"There Was Jesus"
~ by Gia Embach ~

THERE WAS JESUS

Every time I tried to make it on my own. Every time I tried to stand and start to fall. And all those lonely roads that I have travelled on. There was Jesus.

When the life I built came crashing to the ground. When the friends I had were nowhere to be found. I couldn’t see it then, but I can see it now. There was Jesus.

In the waiting. In the searching. In the healing and the hurting. Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces. Every minute. Every moment. Where I’ve been and where I’m going. Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it. There was Jesus.

For this man who needs amazing kind of grace. For forgiveness at a price I couldn’t pay. I’m not perfect, so I thank God every day. There was Jesus.

In the waiting. In the searching. In the healing and the hurting. Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces. Every minute. Every moment. Where I’ve been and where I’m going. Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it. There was Jesus.

On the mountain. In the valleys. There was Jesus.

In the shadows of the alleys. There was Jesus.

In the fire and in the flood. There was Jesus.

Always is and always was.

No I never walk alone.

You are always there.

In the waiting. In the searching. In the healing and the hurting. Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces. Every minute. Every moment. Where I’ve been and where I’m going. Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it. There was Jesus.

 ~ Zach Williams & Dolly Parton

metal background with rivets

MAY 15, 2020: “HEY DADS! Take Your Daughter’s To The Castle” …

IMG_2084

Okay people, I’ve been SHOOKEN by a “Ghost” again in ALL the most beautiful ways …

IvanYou see this guy? He’s Ivan Greening, some know him as Ivan Moody, but his people call him “The Ghost”. He’s the lead vocalist and MANIAC for the band of my lifeand PLEASE say you already know this … Five Finger Death Punch. Ivan’s not quite your “traditional” man, and to some he may be downright scary. Not only is he a recovering alcoholic with a somewhat colorful rap sheet, he’s also covered from head to toe in an array of tattoos and his voice is as ominous as thunder. Most of the time he rages and screams, but sometimes he serenades us from the most tender depths of his soul. He’s the living embodiment of the word “oxymoron” and actually one of my heroes! King Ivan takes “Phoenix” to an entirely different level if you’ll look past the scars on his inked-up, fleshen sleeves. “What you see is what you get.” With this guy? Not so much! He’s a completely open book and a total mystery, as on one hand he seems to be telling us everything about himself, while on the other no one really knows him. That’s how I feel about myself by the way, but where in the HELL was I going with this? It seems I’ve run amuck with yet another of my digressions as my “thought chaos” leads me to somewhere.

Ah, yes, “the video”. Earlier this week he posted a clip of himself “TikTok-ing” with his daughter which immediately struck my heart in a brand new place I never knew was broken. It was one of the sweetest things I think I’ve ever seen, while also one of the saddest. You see, I am a daughter who cannot help but wonder, “What could have been if my larger than life dad had danced with me in the living room”?

HERE’S THE THING: He’s probably worth a gazillion bucks and has a cult-like following worldwide. But when the lights go down at his final show and he reaches the end of the road? What do you think that little girl of his will tell her own kids about her daddy? “Grandpa Ivan was a rock and roll star” or “Grandpa Ivan danced with me in the living room”? I’m fairly certain, as hopefully you are too, that it’s going to be the latter.

HEY DADS …

Now about that legacy you’ll be leaving behind … WHAT’S IT GONNA BE? You may not be perfect, because no one ever is, and there’s NO such “perfect parent”. But trust me when I tell you that it’s NEVER too late to change the ending of a story. This, my friends, is what us “knuckleheads” call “The Brighter Side Of Grey“, and I’m here to tell you IT’S EVERYTHING! Despite the mottled undertones here of the struggles with my father, I really want to end this now with a “brighter side” I’ve found.

My daughter had two dads to take her to the balls, which I find just amazing! My husband escorted her in many of those carriages while her real dad escorted her in others. Neither of them was perfect, and each of them hurt her in very complicated ways, but at the end of the day I just know in my heart that she’ll treasure her dancing days with both of them forever! She’s an incredibly lucky girl, but I’m an even luckier mom, so beyond thankful for the Princes who danced with Cinderella!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

metal background with rivets

MAY 12, 2020: “They’re Gonna Be” …

SQIS0532

Some days I seem to have endless words to say, while others find me trapped in the silence that often accompanies my waves. Take this morning for instance: She sent me this selfie she snapped while she was at her Dad’s playing in her make-up bag last night. When I saw it it took my breath away. How is that after all the mistakes I’ve made and the wrongs I could never make right that, she is this?

She is everything a mother could pray for her living legacy to be, and this world I am lucky enough to live in with her is such a better place with her in it. There aren’t that many people that know the magnitude of what she’s been through, but those who do find it no surprise that, “she is her mother’s daughter”. And please let me also include my very handsome first born in this regard, because well, he too is one of the strongest survivors I’ve ever known. Damn, just look at this people! I HAVE MADE SOME TRULY MAGNIFICENT “MASTERPIECES”!

So, with that, I’ll let these two pictures speak the volume of words I can’t possibly begin to quantify, with the exception of these words, because in this very moment, they’re exactly what I do need to say …

TO MY SON AND MY DAUGHTER:

YOU’RE GONNA BE …

“Six pounds and nine ounces lookin’ up at me like I have all the answers. I hope I have the ones you need. I’ve never really done this. Now I know what scared is. Sometimes I’ll protect you from everything that’s wrong. Other times I’ll let you just find out on your own. But that’s when you’ll be growin’, and the whole time I’ll be knowin’ …

You’re gonna fly with every dream you chase. You’re gonna cry, but know that that’s okay. Sometimes life’s not fair, but if you hang in there? You’re gonna see that sometimes bad is good. We just have to believe things work out like they should. Life has no guarantees … but always loved by me … you’re gonna be.

I’m afraid you’ll have to suffer through some of my mistakes. Lord knows I’ll be trying, oh to give you what it takes. What it takes to know the difference between getting by and livin’. ‘Cause anything worth doing is worth doing all the way. Just know you’ll have to live with all the choices that you make. So make sure you’re always givin’ way more than you’re takin’.

You’re gonna fly with every dream you chase. You’re gonna cry, but know that that’s okay. Sometimes life’s not fair, but if you just hang in there? You’re gonna see that sometimes bad is good. We just have to believe things work out like they should. Life has no guarantees … but always loved by me … you’re gonna be … someone’s everything. You’re gonna see just what you are to me.

You’re gonna fly with every dream you chase. We just have to believe things work out like they should. Life has no guarantees … but always loved by me … you’re gonna be … always loved by me.”

~ Reba McEntire

IMG_E2158

metal background with rivets

MAY 11, 2020: “When Someone Dies And You SMILE” …

spicy

Yet another bittersweet day for me with the passing of one of my favorite comedic actors, Jerry Stiller. For those of you who know me well it’s no secret that one of his best known sitcoms, “The King  Of Queens“, is, was and probably always will be my favorite TV show! Williamson and I watched it every single night from the beginning of “us” to the end, and “Arthur” was one of his best impersonations. We all spoke fluent “King Of Queens” in our daily banter (as well as “My Cousin Vinny” and “Birdcage”) and Gia and I still do. Lol, Zack had always promised her that when he was old and if I was already gone he would move in with her family and be their “basement Arty”. 

It’s also no secret to those who know me that cooking is not my thing! Are there are some decent dishes I manage to pull off from time to time? Sure. No one has ever starved on my watch, but there’s not a person who I’ve cooked for who’s a stranger to my “interesting dinners”. I fondly remember an “episode” set at our table as if it were just last night: “The Night Of The Hot Pink Chicken!” It was the first meal I’d made for our brand new little family on the third night we were married. I’d marinated some chicken in raspberry dressing, which chicken ended up literally turning pink. As I set the plates down, Gia turned to him as discreetly as she could with her hand on her little forehead trying not to let me see the look of fear in her eyes. Then just as sweet as he could be with nothing but appreciation for the effort I’d made, he quickly came up with the perfect line: “Well, have a biscuit then. Some of them turned out PRETTY well!” From that night forward throughout the entirety of our decade together there were SO many times he would chime in with that line, his very favorite “Arthurism”, at every one of my mealtime flops! Every time he spoke those words I fell in love with him all over again!

So, what was my thought behind the title of this post, “When Someone Dies And You SMILE”? Oooooh but let me tell you! While I was waiting for Gia to wake up this morning, anxious to share the news of “Arthur’s” passing, I just sat in bed thinking and smiling. That funny man brought SO much into our world … laughter, hilarity and true joy! Which man you ask? BOTH ARTHUR AND MY HUSBAND! I thought about crying, especially given the torrent of “first Mother’s Day without him” emotion I ran the gauntlet with yesterday, but honestly? I simply couldn’t. Instead I just sat there with my thoughts and countless memories cherishing the most beautiful ride of my life!

While I’m saddened by the loss, especially for his loved ones, I’m again encouraged that death is nothing at all. He was so much larger than the life he lived itself, just like the “King” of this very lucky Queen, and their legacies both I will treasure! Zack once said that if he could have met any particular actor it probably would have been Jerry Stiller. “I can only imagine what a riot it would be to shoot the shit with that guy!” Well, if God is the God I know in my soul He is, perhaps now he’ll get the chance! Godspeed Jerry. The comedic spirit and “crazy old man” you infused into the fabric of our lives will remain in our hearts and “Arthurisms” forever!

…”PS” …

IMG_1994Our hands down favorite KOQ episode was “Spicy Sausage & Peppers”! I cannot tell you how many times Williamson asked unsuspecting waitstaff who were taking his order at restaurants: “How’s your spicy sausage and peppers?” Most often they looked at him absolutely dumfounded, as if he were a actually crazy, but the ones who got the joke always got an extra tip from him! This clip is a go-to on any of my “down days”. I CANNOT watch it without laughing until my sides hurt, so ENJOY! As for me? I’ll be spending the entire rest of this night binge-watching The King Of Queens in tribute to both Jerry and my husband!

What We Leave Behind

cropped-cats-metal-signature-logo.jpg

MAY 10, 2020: “Mother Love” …

While I am more than thankful to claim the highest honor of “mother” of two living children and one angel baby in Heaven, I am ever so mindful as I end this bittersweet day with the heart-breaking awareness that not every child “celebrated with their mother” today. As you’ve already read in the admonishment to “her”, on this day one year ago the abandonded and motherless man that I was also honored to call “mine” began his painful descent into the darkness she left him in that literally devoured him alive and indeed ended the most beautiful chapter of my life.

So, with that, if you are a mother who has truly abandoned her child, know that you have left them with an unfathomable wound that will never truly heal. If, on the other hand, you are a child whose “mother” abandonded you? Know that I, like so many mothers in who understood the magnitude of the job we were given to have children, am crying and praying for you tonight. It wasn’t your fault! You didn’t deserve it! YOU are a gift to this world! I’m so sorry that happened to you, from the depths of my soul I am, but remember this always PLEASE: Our Father in Heaven doesn’t make trash! So, “Chin Up! Knuckles Out!” You are loved and needed here.

cropped-cats-metal-signature-logo.jpg

MAY 10, 2020: “To His Mother: WHY?” …

MomnTO “HIS MOTHER”:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, your “son” stopped living the day he was born, but it was a year ago today that the hands of Fate threw the very last spin of the wheel that ultimately led to not only his demise, but the end of the most beautiful chapter of my life. Looking back now, I can honestly say that the very first hint of change in him was June 5, 2014, as that was truly the day the “rock” that was our Zachariah began crumbling inside himself. Slowly, subtly, yet ever so steadily, he began slipping down the black, dead hole that devoured him alive, but it wasn’t really until May 12th last year that he started coming apart at the seams. I remember that morning as if it were now, right down to exactly where he was standing, the look of angst upon his face, what he was saying, the tears falling from his eyes, what he was wearing, and even how he smelled. Sufficed to say though, indeed it was “Mother’s Day 2019” that earmarked the beginning of his end.

So, with that, today is bittersweet, as not a Mother’s Day had passed since he walked into my life eleven years ago that I wasn’t cherished, celebrated, and placed so high upon the pedestal he built for only me there are literally just no words. It was no secret to anyone that knew us well that your “son” was hell bent on making sure that I was abundantly aware of exactly what my role in all of their lives meant to him, especially on Mother’s Day! As I’ve also said before, when we first met, he appeared to be a solid rock. He’d told me about his past and how not just you, but his entire “blood family” abandoned and rejected him (for what reason only God knows). He was so matter of fact about the awful things you’d all done to him, which was always so perplexing to me because even I couldn’t wrap my own head around it all. It angered and outraged me to the core of my being to not only hear the stories of his maternal abandonment and fucked up beyond reason childhood, but to have watch, live and experience the abundance of bullshit his “family” did to and put him through which was unacceptable, gross and disgusting. As for those other “Williamsons” you spat upon this Earth who still live here in the city where their “brother” slipped right through the void? If any random stranger were to meet a single one of them and not know who they really are they’d be more than impressed with the charming personas they present. But his truth is the truth, he spoke it, I witnessed it, and God Himself was watching IT ALL! Congratulations dear “mother”! You made self-consumed narcissists who get all dressed up with the plastic smiles and shallow hearts only you could possibly be proud of!

On the surface he seemed to have made peace with it all as he moved on down the road. We met, fell in love, made our own little family, and he left you all behind in his dust. “Their loss, not mine”, he would say, and he couldn’t have been more right, as none of you were ever good enough to be graced by my husband’s presence. Trust me when I tell you that because of our professions we knew plenty of people who “know them”. The general consensus about your other Williamson children? You know, the ones you actually managed to want? Selfish, shallow and greedy social climbing, wanna-be’s in one of the greatest shows on Earth. Everything about his character was so far removed from and above all of theirs that no one that realized their connection could fathom it. Those were amongst the highest compliments he received, and he absolutely reveled in them. But I’ve digressed. Sufficed to say, it was “every Mother’s Day” that hurt him the most, even more so than all the birthdays you forgot as he waited for you year after year, phone in hand, checking to see “if she’ll remember and just show up”. There is still much to say about my husband’s final descent and all the ways he was driven to insanity, not the least of how he hurt Gia.

In the meantime, all you REALLY need to know, “Mother” Of My Fallen King, is this:

It’s Mother’s Day 2020 and 264 days ago your “son” shot himself in the head with a Springfield handgun and a hollow point bullet at just before midnight on August 22, 2019. To him you were a stranger, and what a shame that you will never know what a truly amazing man you threw away and the priceless gift he was to this world (though unfortunately he never believed it).

Only God knows what was going through his mind in the very last moments of his life, and yes, “what that may have been” will break my heart forever. Alas, he’s at rest now, finally at peace after the “legacy of abandonment” you knowingly chose to burden him with. But here’s what I do know in concrete fact “was going through his mind” in the years I was lucky enough to give him the only real home he ever had and the only real love from a woman (other than his Grandma) he’d ever known …

Your “son” hurt us all with a broken mind and heart that were jaded beyond human comprehension. “He must have had mommy issues” is what some will surely say, and sadly? That was true! He wasn’t quite two when you left him behind, him, and only him, and not your “other babies”, because for what good reason he could never understand you just didn’t want him like the others! Then you never turned back to see the tears that burned through his heart every day for the rest of his life.

When your “son” was just a boy he had to sit with all his classmates making “macaroni Mother’s Days cards” that he never knew what to do with, so he would tear them all up and put them in the garbage as he was leaving the school grounds watching all the other kids being greeted by their mommies as he walked home to nothing all alone!

When your “son” was just a boy he would go to his friends’ birthdays while his heart physically ached because you apparently couldn’t remember the day he was born. (It was October 5, 1982, in case you forgot.)

When your “son” was just a boy Mother’s Day broke his heart into little tiny pieces that none of us who really loved him could ever put back together. He cried for you. Ached for you. Longed for you. Dreamt about you. He disappeared inside himself just waiting for you to want him!

Despite these words and my more than apparent anger, I have forgiven you and yours for all the ways you destroyed my beautiful husband. But never will I forget the last ten years watching him try so hard not to break because none of you gave a FUCK about “the Zack of shit”, your “son”, their “brother”. So, with that, happy Mother’s Day to you, “mother” of my fallen king. May you sleep well this and every Mother’s Day going forward that you’re able to enjoy the Williamsons you somehow managed to “mother”! Hold your hand over your chest now and breathe in what you feel … it’s the still beating heart of the one woman in this world that was supposed to love my husband forever.

Signed truly … “Daughter-In-Law”

Mother

metal background with rivets

May 2, 2020: “There Will Be A Day” …

US

… WITH NO MORE TEARS.

“I try to hold on to this world with everything I have, but I feel the weight of what it brings and the hurt that tries to grab. The many trials that seem to never end. His word declares this truth … that we will enter in this rest with wonders anew. But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings, that there will be a place with no more suffering. There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears. There will be a day when the burdens of this place will be no more … we’ll see Jesus face to face. But until that day, we’ll hold on to You always.

I know the journey seems so long. You feel you’re walking on your own. But there has never been a step where you’ve walked out all alone. Troubled soul don’t lose your heart, ’cause joy and peace He brings, and the beauty that’s in store outweighs the hurt of life’s sting. But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings … that there will be a place with no more suffering. There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears. There will be a day when the burdens of this place, will be no more … we’ll see Jesus face to face. But until that day, we’ll hold on to You always. 

I can’t wait until that day where the very One I’ve lived for always will wipe away the sorrow that I’ve faced. To touch the scars that rescued me from a life of shame and misery. Oh this is why, this is why I sing. There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears. There will be a day when the burdens of this place will be no more … we’ll see Jesus face to face. There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears. There will be a day when the burdens of this place will be no more … we’ll see Jesus face to face.

There will be a day …

~ Jeremy Camp

cropped-cats-metal-signature-logo.jpg

APRIL 26, 2020: “The Bench” …

"The Bench"
~ by Gia Embach~

“If you could sit on this bench and talk to ANYONE for one hour, who would it be and what would you say?”

I saw a post very similar to this on a social media feed earlier last week and it struck a chord in me so loud that my answer was instantaneous. I would sit down with “younger me” and THIS is what I’d say …

“Hey there young lady, it’s so nice to meet you. You don’t know me, and I don’t mean to scare you, but let me assure you that one day we’ll meet again. For reasons I can’t explain, and may sound a little insane, I actually do know a lot about you. Right now you’re feeling scared. You’re feeling lost, abandoned, and alone. You’ve been betrayed by people you thought you could trust and your glass heart has been shattered into pieces. You think no one can hear or see you anymore, and when you face yourself in the mirror each day you see nothing looking back but an abyss. Worst of all, you can’t see her yet, but there’s a dragon circling above you like a carcass. She’s gonna hold you for ransom inside her solitary cave, but YOU are going to slay her!

It’s a long, dark road that’s coming up ahead and some of the places it’s gonna take you are gonna suck. But listen to me, and listen good: Don’t you DARE change a thing that you’re about to do or even ONE of the decisions you’re gonna make! Life’s gonna burn the wings off your back that you don’t even know you have yet and some people who claim to love you are gonna leave you on the ground while you’re choking on their dust. But alas, your wings are eventually gonna heal and take you so high above the ashes you almost die in that even YOU won’t know how to stop them. Through it all, you’ll become a queen, a Light in peoples’ darkness, and a legacy your kids will be proud of. So, buckle up sister and hang on for dear life … I’ll be waiting for you on The Brighter Side Of Grey. In the meantime, there’s a song you haven’t heard yet because it hasn’t even been made, but let me put “us” in some words you’re gonna love as you STAND and sing it to the world …

STAND

“You felt like a candle in a hurricane. Just like a picture with a broken frame. Alone and helpless like you’d lost your fight, but you’were alright! You were alright! ‘Cause when push came to shove you tasted what you were made of. You almost bent ’til you broke ’cause it was all you could take. On your knees you looked up, decided you’d had enough. You got mad, you got strong, wiped your hands, shook it off – THEN YOU STOOD! Our life’s like a novel with the end ripped out. The edge of a canyon with only one way down. We’ll take what we’re given before it’s gone. We start holding on. We keep holding on. Everytime we get up and got back in the race one more small piece of us just keepings falling into place … ‘CAUSE WE STAND!” ~ Rascal Flatts

~ “Me & Julie” (Left & Right) … Circa 1974 ~

cropped-cats-metal-signature-logo.jpg