MARCH 29, 2020: “If Atlas Falls” …

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TO MY FOLLOWERS:

Please Share This!

Love Cat

ATLAS FALLS

“The push is always part of us, and gravity’s never a friend. Deciding on who we can trust and finding our way to crescendo to the unknown. We’ll never make it outside unless we unlock the past and release the future that we’ve left to die. For too long we’ve taken placebos, but the unknown is awakening. Don’t give up now! There’s already so much at stake! If Atlas falls, I’ll rise up and carry us all the way. 

No we can never look back. Return to the salt and the sea. The quiet is only a trial and I will not take the placebos ’cause the unknown is awakening. But I will crescendo. Don’t give up now! There’s already so much at stake. If Atlas falls, I’ll rise up and carry us all the way. It won’t hold me down … the weight of impossible days. I’ll stand tall. I’ll rise up and carry us all the way. Keep moving forward now. Keep your head above the clouds. I’m right with you. I will lift you. Just hold on.”

~ Shinedown

For more information about Shinedown’s collaboration with Direct Relief, please click here:

Shinedown / Direct Relief … “Atlas Falls”

Sig

MARCH 20, 2020: “Outlaws & Outsiders” …

FFDP

If you know me well you know that my history with musicality is, like me, “oxymoronical” at best. Movie soundtrack orchestrals to death metal and everything in between. Well, almost everything. There are some genres of “music” I just can’t. But I’ve digressed, again, as usual. Go figure. Five Finger Death Punch is one of my all time favorite bands. It’s a little rough around the edges folks, not gonna lie, and definitely not for the faint of heart. But behind every raging scream, pounding fist and stomping foot are the tears and still beating hearts of real life Phoenixes. Their brokeness. Darkness. Sadness. Rage. Regret. Vindication. Introspect, and yes, even the distant Lights of their Salvation (if you know where to really look for it deep beneath the surface). It sounds like “hate”, but it’s really “hurt”. It’s the very tragic truth and everything that comes after finding it! This morning I posted this on one of the private pages I follow:

Hello tribesmen. Hope you’re all faring well in this COVID operation. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here locked in my house with only my German Shepherd and my thoughts. When I posted this on my blog today, I went back to read it then closed my eyes and had THE best imaginary scenario about me and ALL OF YOU …

It’s two months from now. The pandemic has desecrated the earth. People are literally insane, like, real life “Walking Dead” martial law civilian chaos. But MY TRIBE is thousands of fed up, pissed off, “not right in the head” but actually VERY RIGHT IN THE HEAD, well-prepared, “life’s been priming us for this shit since the day we were born – how YOU doin” inked up, leather clad, metal in their faces, weapons-ready warriors and bullet-proof phoenixes that the world once thought were just a bunch of angry freaks, losers, weirdos and assholes grinding their axes for NOTHING! Then? We take over the world! It was THE best mini-movie I’ve ever watched in my mind! 

Let’s be ready to pick up our axes and start swinging, and this can be our fight song! Happy Friday everyone. Love all of you angry freaks and weirdos. No, really! 

So, here’s my vibe today: “Outlaws & Outsiders”! It’s this ridiculous life thing for me and yes it’s oh so beautiful! Some day I’m going to meet this band, I’m telling you right now. I’m extremely stubborn this way and when I put my mind to something, well, you can pretty much count on it happening. Ivan Greening (a/k/a “Ivan Moody’) is the leader of “The Pride” (a literal pack of animals) and although he too is EXTREMELY rough around the edges, he likens himself a Phoenix, which to me is beyond relatable and “human”.

If “Coronapocalypse 2020” is really coming for us all, trust me when I say that you’ll find me and both my kids living in this rogue society. Nothing like an army of once voiceless, broken, set aside, forgotten, hated, misunderstood, shame-filled “less thans” whose lives have been preparing them for “social distancing” from the moment they were born. The best way to survive if the end of the world is really coming is to go find all the other survivors waving their giant axes in the air. Because some of us once lived underneath a rock for this very reason. Just sayin’ …

OUTLAWS & OUTSIDERS

“Got a gypsy soul. I’m a rebel and rogue and I’m always on the run. With a fire inside, I ain’t ever gonna die. I’m a locked and loaded gun. When the matches strike and the gasoline lights, it’s only just begun. One thing I learned, is you can watch it all burn, but the flame ain’t ever done! Ooh … Raise ’em up a little higher, your lighters, outlaws and outsiders! Ooh … Some call me a renegade. The enemy. Throw your hands up if you feel the same. Whoa, living life at the edge.

Just say what you wanna say, or walk away! I’ll stand tall when there’s hell to pay! Ain’t no power higher. We’re the outlaws and outsiders! Mm, yeah.

I was born in the dark with a fearless heart and a taste for the other side. I was a crazy-ass kid. All the shit I did. I’m amazed that I’m still alive. They thought I’d change with a little bit of age, but you know I never will. Takes too much time to walk a straight line and I don’t have time to kill. Ooh … Raise your fists up higher, you fighters, outlaws and outsiders! Ooh … Some call me a renegade. The enemy. Throw your hands up if you feel the same. Whoa, living life at the edge.

Just say what you wanna say, or walk away. I’ll stand tall when there’s hell to pay! Ain’t no power higher. WE’RE THE OUTLAWS AND OUTSIDERS!”

~ Cory Marks (with Ivan Moody, Travis Tritt & Mick Mars)

Knucklehead

Sig

 

MARCH 18, 2020: “Just Living The Dream” …

6ff7a7bd-c566-4984-9047-585bac6ede2eLIVING THE DREAM

“Captain America, are you off to fight the bad guys? Hey, mighty Superman, can you save us from ourselves? Hey, Mr. Universe, can you lift us up above this? ‘Cause I’m just Iron Man, I’m a ghost within a shell. Take a look around. Just look around. They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Why did they never mention what’s real and in between? It seems the path we’re on was paved with blood and sorrow. No thought about tomorrow. Just part of the machine or so it seems. Yeah, so it seems. We’re all living the dream. We’re all living the dream. Hey there, Your Majesty, is there anyone above you? It must be lonely when you’re up there looking down. Hey, Lady Amnesty, there’s no one that can judge you. We’re all just broken toys beneath your crooked crown. Take a look around. Just look around. They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Why did they never mention what’s real and in between? It seems the path we’re on was paved with blood and sorrow. No thought about tomorrow. Just part of the machine or so it seems. Yeah, so it seems …” ~ Five Finger Death Punch

NOTE TO SELF:

Life is not a game my dear, it’s only just a song, so be mindful and intentional in all you do or say. If indeed you get to see the miracle of tomorrow, do everything you can to make it the most powerful “I’ve got another shot at this” kind of day ever! You’re sitting here writing this, which means you’re still alive, so keep “living the dream” well my little warrior Phoenix friend, taking NOTHING and NO ONE for granted.

(PS) YOU GOT THIS!

(Don’t forget Who’s driving the car.)

Sig

 

MARCH 16, 2020: “Because This Is MY Experience” …

meEXPERIENCE

“Meet me at the crossroads. The edge of all my broken dreams. I feel like I’m missing something. Missing out. Missing me. An angel to my left, the devil to my right. It’s time that I made a choice. I can only do what I know feels right. It’s time that I let go. Experience. Experience it all. I found a risk worth taking. Right or wrong, it’s my line to cross. Experience. Experience it all. I found a life worth living. I want to feel alive. I want to do more than just survive. Swimming in the shallow water. They never let me get too deep. The tide will have to take me under. Pull me in. Set me free. An angel to my left, the devil to my right. It’s time that I made a choice. I can only do what I know feels right. It’s time that I let go. Experience. Experience it all. I found a life worth living. I want to feel alive. I want to do more than just survive. A dream is only a dream. A dream is only a dream until you make it real. A dream is only a dream unless it’s something you can feel. I want something I can feel.” ~ Trapt

I remember the first time I heard this song in 2013 and how much it inspired me. Zack and I had been married for a couple of years, but despite the fact that we were crazy in love and truly being each other’s “better half”, I was still getting comfortable with the healthier skin I was wearing and learning how to stretch it after years of fighting to keep my head above the water in the battle for my sanity. My feet were on the path but it was a daily battle. “An angel to my left. The devil to my right. It was time that I made a choice”. Did it take me a minute to finally put all the pieces of myself that I had finally found back together? You betcha! But guess what? That was then, and this is now …

I’m not gonna lie, the last few days (like so many others I’ve experienced lately) were pretty damn good! I hate what I’ve been through, but love where I am, and every extra day and even the unforseen trials I surely still “get to go through” are a gift. I am a very thankful human woman, hands down, no matter what, and if God forbid I have to “move along” tomorrow, which I certainly hope that I don’t, I’m all set and ready to go. I’m at peace with my past. At peace with myself. At peace with my Creator. No stones have been left unturned. Anyone who needed forgiveness from me has gotten it, whether or not they asked for or deserved it. This IS my “Brighter Side Of Grey“. This IS my “Experience”!

 

MARCH 15, 2020: “The Nature Of God” …

Alan

I’ve long been a fan of the late Alan Watts, a British writer, lecturer, teacher and philospher. If you haven’t heard of, read, or listened to any of his lectures, I hope you find this as fascinating as I did when I first stumbled upon it. This particular piece was my first exposure to him, and I’ve since listened to as many of his lectures as possible. His messages, delivery and thought-provoking ideals just have a way of making you wonder, or, I suppose, as was the case with me, hard-core confirming what you’ve already come to believe. Watts was known to be incredibly imaginitive, if not stubborn and tunnel-visioned in his theories, but at the same time open to the concept of “open-mindedness”. He was “black and white” and GREY, just like me, and I feel very kindred to his spirit. I’ve been having both my kids listen to him by the way, and they too are appreciative, learning, growing and expanding their minds from his theories. At any rate, I truly hope you enjoy this. It’s really nice to listen to him in a quiet, candle lit space with a blanket, a German Shepherd, a few cats and a nice hot cup of coffee. Just sayin’ …  

Sig

MARCH 8, 2020: “The Brighter Side Of Grey” …

img_8259TO MY KIDS …

“I’m writing this in case I’m gone tomorrow. I’m writing this in case I’ve moved along. There’s something that I hope you’ll remember: That life is not a game, it’s a song. So take the best parts of me, locked away without the keys, and know that I’m forever by your side. When the lights go down, know that I am never far away. When the Sun burns out, I’ll be waiting on the brighter side of grey. If you’re reading this, I know you’re feeling sorrow. If you’re hearing this, I know you’re probably scared. Just know that all the things you want are borrowed, and all you get to keep is all you’ve shared. So wipe away the tears for me, know that we’ve made history. Remember no one ever really dies.  When the lights go down, know that I am never far away. When the Sun burns out, I’ll be waiting on the brighter side of grey.” ~ Five Finger Death Punch

THIS PICTURE. One I sketched in my early 20’s using the literal ashes from both my father’s and His ashtrays. At the time I had no idea the impact this or any of my 32 Sketches would have on me down the road, yet as I look at them now I can’t help but notice that although I was in very dark place when they were born, something inside me was distantly hopeful. Still, this one. It begs the younger me to stay focused on the very bright future I couldn’t see through the fog I was in, yet was patiently waiting for and calling to me all the while.

If you know me well, you know that grey is my favorite color, which is evident in my predominately “black and white” or grey artwork. What’s interesting about this one is how it poignantly reflects upon the mental illness I fought so hard to overcome for the better part of my life and long before it was diagnosed or named. My illness imprisoned me in the dichotomy of “black and white thinking” and held me for ransom inside the compartmentalized boxes in my mind where I stored all my feelings and pain. Before I put my insanity into remission I was unable to accept people, situations, emotions, or behaviors as anything other than “good or bad”, “right or wrong”, or “one way or the other”. MY ENTIRE WORLD WAS BLACK AND WHITE AND THERE WAS NO SPACE FOR THE GREY! I had a defensive view of both the positive and negative qualities of myself and everyone else and there was no way for my broken thought process to allow anything in between to exist in one cohesive space. How did this happen you ask? The general consensus is that my “splitting” was the result of severe emotional and psychological abuse from my childhood, and yup, I do tend to agree. I was raised in an environment of conditionally based reward, praise, affection and acceptance. If I was “good”, I was praised, affirmed and rewarded. If I was “bad”, I was admonished, punished and rejected. They “washed their hands” of me too many times to count whenever I screwed up or simply failed to follow “the rules” and ZERO was the validation or consideration of my feelings. My mind would “split” as I desperately attempted to shield myself from the constant fear of being abandoned, betrayed or eviscerated by anyone who claimed to love me. For the record, I do not believe that these traumas were visited on me purposefully or with the intent to murder my soul, but the trauma indeed was real, as was the effect it had on my damaged psyche. But wow have I digressed again …

Five Finger Death Punch is one of the bands of my life and their music has been a driving force in my mental health journey and recovery. For so many years I felt alone and voiceless, regardless of the people who “appeared” to be standing beside me. Their songs have not only helped identify some of my lost and broken feelings but they’ve also given my former “voiceless self” permission TO SCREAM THEM OUT LOUD! Several months ago I pre-ordered their new album and had been counting the days until it was released. I was so stoked when it finally hit my library and just started from the beginning as I headed out for my day. Meanwhile, when THIS SONG cued up I literally had to pull my car into the breakdown lane on the highway as the words began to cut me in all the most bittersweet ways. I couldn’t stop the tears or the physical heartache and I literally couldn’t breathe. It was one of the most cathartic, awful and beautiful moments of my life, as if he were singing it himself. To me. To her. To the very few people he left behind that he truly loved and let into his very private world and who loved him just the same. Someday when it’s time for her to finally read “the letter” he wrote her but never actually sent I will play it for her. Knowing God the way that I do, this song will be a part of her healing too. 

HERE’S THE THING: Grey is not just a color to me. It’s everything in between! It’s the “grey-se” (grace) I’ve received that is so undeserved yet given to me anyway by The One who has never loved me “with black and white conditions”. He “takes the best parts of me and locks them away without the key” and I know He is never far away. He’s the Light that shines ahead of my journey and saturates the blackness into the most beautiful shades of ashen. For more than four decades I lived a “black and white life” with no room for the grey I knew I needed so much but didn’t know how to connect with. So, as I look back at this picture now I am filled with the most unbelievable hope, peace, balance and inspiration you can imagine. It reminds me of just how far I’ve come, that it was always supposed to be this way, and there is always a “brighter side of grey”. Not gonna lie, it is now my greatest wish that when it’s time for me to move along this is the last song I hear as they say goodbye. It means everything to me. Literally, everything. 

Them

Sig

 

MARCH 4, 2020: “Endless” …

IMG_9917ENDLESS

“Before the start, beyond the end. As far as east is from the west. Measureless. From open sky to ocean depths. More than man can comprehend. Measureless. Your love is without limit, Your love is constant. Your love goes on forever. Your love is endless. Your love is overwhelming, I can’t contain it. Your love, Your love, Your love is endless! Oh how vast, and oh how wide. Far beyond all space and time. Measureless. Your love is without limit. Your love is constant. Your love goes on forever. Your love is endless. No death, no height. No fear, no shame, no lie. I am convinced, even the grave could never separate.” ~ Cory Asbury 

… when the doorbell rings and it’s the custom piece your friend and jeweler of 20 years had been creating just for you. It was born from the gold and diamonds my first two wedding bands and his. For those of you who don’t know this, Zack’s “Life Path Number” was 8, and that number has been working itself into some of the craziest moments since August 22, 2019, not the LEAST of which is the sobering reality that although we were both very much “hoping for the best” with his spiriling mental health and passive suicidality, he had been “preparing for the worst” all the while. Little did I know that on “8/8/19”, which day, on the surface, appeared to be just fine, he’d gone into Cabella’s and purchased the gun he used to end his life. So, from a numerology standpoint: “8 plus 8 is 16; 16 plus 19 is 35; 3 plus 5 is 8”. Not long before he died he had also decided to have an Infinity symbol (which is also an “8”) with both mine and Gia’s name on each end tattooed on his left shoulder. This amazing woman even worked two semi colons into each end of the design for me, which we weren’t sure would even be possible, because as you know, “; my story isn’t over yet”.

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“Infinity” represents so much more than just the endless love I will carry in my heart for him until I see him again. It represents the truly endless love that God has for all of us as well, which is something I am ever mindful of, especially in the darkest moments of my life.

I know that he was smiling from ear to ear watching me open that package with as much joy and excitement as the day he first slipped those rings on my finger! I will treasure this masterpiece until the day I leave this Earth. Although Gia still has so much still to process where Zack and the horrific way that he left and hurt her are concerned, when the day finally comes that I myself have to move on, hopefully both she and my future granddaughters will take it from there and wear and treasure it proudly as they bask in legacy of love, Light and endless resilience their “Crazy Grandma Cat” and even Zack was determined to have live on through them for “INFINITY”.

your story

Sig

MARCH 4, 2020: “Tell Your Heart To Beat Again” …

ONLY LIGHT LOGOTELL YOUR HEART TO BEAT AGAIN

“You’re shattered like you’ve never been before. The life you knew in a thousand pieces on the floor. And words fall short in times like these when this world drives you to your knees. You think you’re never gonna get back to the you that used to be. Tell your heart to beat again. Close your eyes and breathe it in. Let the shadows fall away. Step into the light of grace. Yesterday’s a closing door. You don’t live there anymore. Say goodbye to where you’ve been, and tell your heart to beat again. “Beginning”. Just let that word wash over you. It’s alright now, love’s healing hands have pulled you through. So get back up, take step one. Leave the darkness, feel the Sun. ‘Cause your story’s far from over and your journey’s just begun. Tell your heart to beat again. Close your eyes and breathe it in. Let the shadows fall away. Step into the light of grace. Yesterday’s a closing door. You don’t live there anymore. Say goodbye to where you’ve been and tell your heart to beat again. Let every heartbreak and every scar be a picture that reminds you Who has carried you this far. ‘Cause love sees farther than you ever could. In this moment Heaven’s working everything for your good”. ~ Danny Gokey

I DID IT! I’m now “ASIST” (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) certified. I’d say it was a tough 48 hours, but that wouldn’t be true. Not gonna lie, there were definitely a few moments when I felt myself sliding backwards, like when we were watching the video reenactment of a 911 suicide call and heard the sound of a double-barrel shotgun being loaded and “death certificates” being filled out on the widescreen. No tears though. Not a single one. I am stubborn and refuse to look back with sorrow, agony or regret at the devastation in my life. I only want to look ahead.

In addition to the skills I learned in this class, perhaps the most powerful takeaway was not “skill related” at all. You see, when I walked in to that place Monday morning it was PACKED! Forty plus people were there to be trained, and two of our volunteer trainers traveled to Dallas from other states to teach the class. Keep in mind that an inventory of  who was there for training revealed predominantly “regular people” from many different jobs, professions, statuses and groups. And while “some”, like me, had either lost a loved one to suicide or survived an attempt of their own, “most” were not in either category. Meaning? It was a random group of concerned citizens who truly believe that suicide is a serious and growing epidemic society is facing and they just want to find a way to help. IT WAS COMFORTING, AND MOTIVATING, AND INSPIRATIONAL, AND IT MADE ME FEEL SO MUCH LESS ALONE AS A MEMBER OF THIS CLUB THAT NO ONE WANTS TO BELONG TO! It reminded me yet again that this world isn’t as dark and lonely as it sometimes seems and there are good people in it, with warm hearts, genuine intentions, and wide open arms that just want to embrace other people with love.

As I said in a Facebook post last night, I am bound and determined to maintain every SINGLE ounce of the resilience I’ve fought so hard to earn going forward and for the REST of my days on this Earth. I pray to God that I never get “that call” from someone who believes that someone they know may be in crisis. Statistically speaking, unfortunately, I just may at some point. I AM PREPARED! God let me be broken so that I could become His “Light In The Dark” and live a life of use to others in His name.

Please earmark, download, share or save this post and keep it handy in case someone YOU know ever needs “ASISTance”. Make it a great day everyone! ~ C

Can

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW ARE IN A CRISIS SITUATION, PLEASE CALL ME!

ASIST

Sig

MARCH 2, 2020: “Winning The Game” …

IMG_0069{Artwork by The Phoenix Collaborative}

… THE GAME …

“How have you been? Nice to see you again. How quickly these conversations seem to end. You meet a friend every now and then. How quickly these relations turn into trends. Put all your walls up and open your windows and close all your doors. You catch yourself standing in front of the mirror and now you need more. What do you wish for to catch you as you’re falling. So easy to ignore, but now you hear it calling again. “I wouldn’t want to be you. This lonely game that you play between your walls you confuse. Every heart that you break. So afraid that you’ll lose. Always a void to replace. I wouldn’t want to play you. You try and pretend, the truth is hard to bend. How easy these translations can be read. What if you were led to play a different game instead. How hard these frustrations are to mend. Does it matter to you? Just wait …” ~ Trapt

Dear “Past Me”:

Yes, I know exactly how you’ve been, and no, I don’t ever want to see you here again. Don’t forget to keep those walls DOWN and the windows OPEN WIDE as you stand in your mirror often and marvel at who you’ve become. You don’t need to wish for anything whenever you start to fall, because after all we’ve been through we’ve learned how to pick ourselves back up! No more pretending. No more truth bending. And remember this “game” is not a game – IT’S A SONG. You are a Phoenix. You’re a queen. You’re a warrior and a survivor! Now go and shine that “Light In Someone’s Dark” just as you were always meant to.

I Love You Girl … “Me”

Batman

Sig

MARCH 1, 2020: “Fight On Fighter” …

IMG_E9855FIGHT ON, FIGHTER!

“I was there on the day that you were changed. You were scared and prepared for the heartbreak. Everything you knew faded out of view. Stole a piece of you. If I could, oh, I would be a hero. Be the one who would take all the arrows. Save you from the pain, carry all the weight. But I know that you’re brave. Fight on, fighter! Don’t let anyone steal your fire. Fight on, fighter! The Spirit is alive inside ya, yeah. There’s a part that you hold that you lock down. Let it breathe, give it wings, set it free now. Time to make ya walk, break the prison bars. Show them who you are. Fight on, fighter!  Don’t let anyone steal your fire. Fight on, fighter! The Spirit is alive inside ya, yeah. Stronger than you than you ever thought. I know you’re stronger. Braver than you were before. You know you’re braver. Oh, no, you don’t have to be afraid. Together we’ll face it. So don’t ever stop no matter what. ‘Cause you’re gonna make it.” ~ for King & Country

As you may know, long before August 22, 2019 when Zack turned our world upside down with the most egregious exit possible, Gia had been on a downward descent of her own for several years. Someday I will revisit in greater detail that sobering night in November 2018 when during a random a spot check of her phone after she’d gone to sleep, Zack walked back into our room with her phone in his hand and a look of doom, dread and panic on his face like nothing I’d ever seen: He’d found that she had searched “I don’t want to live anymore” and “I think I want to kill myself”. Our world literally stopped in a frozen halt.

Gia had been fighting an invisible darkness for so long, which too will be revisited down the road. At the heart of the matter was depression, anxiety and “post-traumatic stress” from both the unsettled relationship with not only “Him” (real dad), but the fallout from the social isolation and ostracization His girlfriend and her daughter had bestowed upon mine. Girlfriend was the cute blonde nursing student that befriended me from out of the blue the last week of second grade year, and very long story short, this highly skilled, calculated and manipulative woman truly had an agenda that is seeing it’s way to fruition as I write this. They did a number Gia, which by the way, is still a source of unrest for her to this day, because in case you didn’t already know, after all the things they did to both my kids, He is not only “with her still”, but actually planning to marry her. Yup, true story. But wow, I’ve digressed. Go figure!

Meanwhile, as I have said, her years at St. Mark’s were spent toggling on the in and  outskirts of a tribe of girls that only perpetuated her deepening depression. “The Squad”, as they called themselves, were (and still are) a cluster of girls banned together to bolster these abhorrent beliefs:

  • That being popular is the only real “power” that is available to them.
  • That said “popularity and power” are directly linked to what society insinuates upon us all: “In order to be popular, and therefore powerful, you have to be pretty, thin, have really good hair, just the right color of skin, and oh yah, lots of stuff!”
  • That the most desirable and valuable sources of the power they seek are the truly feminine attributes: “The more physically developed, naturally gifted, talented and intelligent another girl is, the more dangerous her threat”. 
  • That being mean, hateful and self-seeking are necessary evils in pursuit of “the power and position” within the hierarchy of their group.
  • That shunning, ostracizing, belittling, and humiliating any female whose naturally powerful attributes pose a threat to their own popularity, power and position by exposing, by comparison, their LACK of “naturally powerful attributes” is the best and most effective way to reduce “the other girl’s power”.
  • Finally, that the “lower status” girls are typically the nicest and kindest with the most genuine hearts and effortless demeanors, and, therefore the weakest and most likely to just stand back and be trampled on by a desperate pack of “desperates”.

LONG TALE VERY SHORT: Gia’s “Squad” could neither stand NOR tolerate her lingering presence, much less allow her to enjoy any security within its atmosphere, because her genuine likeability, kind heart, natural beauty, effortless intelligence, more developed physique, and “affluence” by virtue of her family were threats to the popularity and power they so desperately craved amongst their bottom-feeding selves. THEY WERE JEALOUS FUCKING BITCHES WHO COULDN’T HANDLE MY DAUGHTER’S SHADOW SO THEY HAD TO FIND A WAY TO EVEN THE PLAYING FIELD BY LEVELING HER AT HER CORE!

Let me stop any of you who may be saying, “Oh, wow, that’s kind of harsh Cat, don’t you think? After all, they’re just young girls who don’t know any …”. NOPE! Wrong answer! BY THIS POINT IN THEIR LIVES THEY MOST CERTAINLY KNOW BETTER AND EXACTLY WHAT THEY’RE DOING! (And PS, many of their mothers actually support, if not instill these “do whatever you must to ascend to the top” mindsets into their daughter’s psyches from a very young age. So then, moving right along …

BACK TO MY POINT NOW: Yesterday I finally got to the bottom of yet another thing that had been eating my daughter’s spirit alive. Turns out her extraordinarily beautiful heart, face and very physically developed physique had become more of a problem for “The Squad” than we’d suspected. You have not lived until you’ve seen your already broken daughter just staring at her plate and fighting through that psychcological gauntlet that many of us fall prey to: “I’m fucking hungry, but maybe I shouldn’t eat this, because after all, I’m just a huge cow with gigantic legs.” That’s right people, turns out Gia has had a dragon of her own circling her fragile heart.

Luckily, Gia talks to me, some days more than others. Now that I think of it, both my kids talk to me, about everything, always, and eventually I always get to their truths. With each day that passes I’m learning more about the voices she’s been fighting inside her own mind, and as we talked through the conundrum she was having with her breakfast yesterday she finally spilled it  with these very sobering words:

“Mom, the thing is, I just don’t like the way I look. I hate my curves and hate being so tall. And Mom, I never told you this, but last summer when I was at a Squad sleepover at T’s we were upstairs in her room and she started making fun of how much bigger my legs were than hers. She said, ‘look everyone, two of my legs equals one of Gia’s!’ Then she pointed out how much bigger my legs were than EVERYONE’S and they ALL started laughing. THEN she started talking about my chest and how huge IT was and they were all laughing some more, and I felt like dying inside, and I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. They were supposed to be my friends Mom. And NO ONE stood up for me. I wanted to call you to come pick me up, but I didn’t. I HATE MY BODY MOM! Why DO my legs have to be so big? Maybe I just need to eat less.”  

And there you have it! What a cruel, heartless, WEAK bitch move for her to do that to my daughter, her “friend”. To imagine my kid, surrounded by “her tribe”, the girls who were supposed to protect and stand up for her, not only against the world, but even against each other when necessary, in a circle of psychological and emotional abuse. It was her very own “Day Of The Spic And Span“, and, IT WAS UNACCEPTABLE!

I was infuriated beyond comprehension at first, but quickly remembered that I needed to keep calm and control my reaction. So, I took a deep breathe, thought things out for a minute, and this was my response:

“Gia, I hear you and understand you. I myself have been where you are and have felt these very same feelings. I’m sorry that happened to you. It was beyond unacceptable, untrue of course, but damaging to you nonetheless. But going forward, if you are to rise above yourself, you CANNOT worry about other peoples’ opinions. Remember: What other people think of you is none of your business anyway! Any cruel disregard for your heart, emotions and feelings is about THEM, not you, because in all their pathetic weakness those words are ALL they have to slay you with. THEY HURT YOU BECAUSE THEY FEAR YOU! And remember this as well: You’re a queen too my beautiful little girl … a lioness perched upon a hill. You DO NOT and WILL NOT consider the opinions of pitiful, insignificant, irrelevant sheep that laugh at you, mock you, or torment you just to gain power, because you are my daughter, and you are stronger and better than that. We can’t change the past, but we CAN change the future, so here’s what let’s do: Finish your breakfast, go get changed up, let’s hit the gym today and do the work! Deal?”  

And so with that, we WILL keep working towards our soul destinations. My daughter is that fighter who will “keep on fighting on”, because she is mine, and that’s what GOOD queens do. Goodnight everyone!

PS, Again, To My Daughter’s “Tribe” AND Their Mothers:

You shouldn’t need to ask if it brought me any pleasure showing her the cute video I’d sent to my husband last year (that I didn’t know he’d kept and only recently found on his phone). Oh, it’s that one of a couple of you drunk grinding with your tongue’s down eachother’s throats during one of our mom’s night out! “You think their lives are perfect Gia? Yah, maybe not so much, and let me tell you why.” The look on her face: PRICELESS! My very strong suggestion is that you instruct your little angels to leave my kid alone, keep their opinions to themselves, and stay in their own lanes FAR and away from ANY my daughter travels going forward. Although “my secrets” will make me sick no longer, “some secrets” are probably best left on my husband’s phone! 😘

Sig

FEBRUARY 26, 2020: “Until The Bitter End” …

IMG_0038{Artwork by The Phoenix Collaborative}

“BITTER END”

I’ve walked every road and turned every corner. Searched high and low where I did not belong. Adrift with the tide, always hungry and yearning. If only I’d known that The Answer was here all along.

The bitter end will come in time, but the joy I have found in the sweet here and now, it keeps me alive!

I’ve kissed the lips of an angel in waiting. Devil in kind, I’ve been lost and deceived. The thrill had to fade in this world for the taking. Once I woke up to what mattered, then I could see. 

The bitter end will come in time, but the joy I have found in the sweet here and now, it keeps me alive! 

We’re lost on a road where all we can find are just the remnants of hope that somehow we leave far behind. But this much I know – somehow we’ll be alright. Cause it’s never too late to learn how to start living right.

The bitter end will come in time, but the joy I have found in the sweet here and now, it keeps me alive!

The bitter end will come in time. Starting right now, I’ll stop falling down and start living right.

~ Alter Bridge

Sig

FEBRUARY 25, 2020: “Thank YOU For Helping Me” …

img_9238… CHANGE TOMORROW

“For the first time in years there’s a light up ahead. It’s calling. (It’s pulling me closer) Reborn within. Now I’m shedding my skin. It’s falling. (The weight off my shoulders) ‘Cause I can’t stay chained to my secrets. No I can’t stay. I’m bound by my regrets. I can’t erase all of my errors. Those days are gone forever. I can change, I can change tomorrow. I can change, I can change tomorrow. On my knees in the rain with my head hung in shame, just crawling, stalling. (All alone in my ways) Memories I can’t erase. Faces I couldn’t face haunt me. (My life lay to waste). ‘Cause I can’t stay chained to my secrets. No I can’t stay. I’m bound by my regrets. I need a break. It’s now or never. Yesterday’s gone forever. I can change, I can change tomorrow. I can change, I can change tomorrow. For all the years of emptiness. For all of my mistakes. For all the years I’ve thrown it all away. It’s not too late.”  ~ Like A Storm

There is no way for me to properly express the depth of my gratitude for all of the love, support and faith all of you are pouring into me not only here in The Diary, but in other forums (such as Quora) where I am also sharing my journey. My reach is growing stronger by the minute and I’m consumed by a burning fire in my heart when I open my statistics every morning to find that people literally all over the world are reading my words. I’m getting messages daily, from again, all over the world, and what is resonating loudly is that people are relating to all the best and worst parts of my life and being inspired to try and make some changes of their own and step out of their own silent darknesses. THAT’S ALL I’VE EVER WANTED … for other broken people to realize the power and potential of their own strong warrior hearts and find the courage to not only survive, but THRIVE!

“I can’t stay chained to my secrets …”

…and neither can you! The secret pain, anguish, heartache and trauma we keep buried within our hearts is nothing short of a 30,000 pound anchor that not only keeps our ships bound to the turbulent seas that some of us end up drowning in, but also keeps us from ever reaching safe harbor. As for me? My most life-altering, traumatic and darkest “secret” has still yet to be revealed by the way, because frankly, I’m just not ready to reveal it. I’m working with God directly on that one and together we will both know when it’s time for my “biggest reveal”. But in the meantime …

“I can change. I can change tomorrow.” All of YOU are helping me do that and I pray that my words will help you change your own tomorrow if that’s what you need to do. Again, THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR SUPPORTING ME. My best to everyone reading this … MAKE IT A POWERFUL DAY!

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The Diary Thank You

Sig

FEBRUARY 24, 2020: “Life Must Go On” …

IMG_E9728LIFE MUST GO ON

“Sitting alone in the cold of the night. You’re trying to find what you need to survive. You’re so afraid you can’t go on. Left in the silence that tears at your heart. It only reminds you how broken you are. You’ve lost your way, but Hope is not gone. ‘Cause the Sun always sets. The moon always falls. It feels like the end – just pay no mind at all. Keep rolling. Rolling. Life must go on. Do you remember and long for the past? When love was eternal and joy seemed to last? Yesterday. Forever is gone. ‘Cause the Sun always sets. The moon always falls. It feels like the end – just pay no mind at all. Keep rolling. Rolling. Life must go on. It must go on. We have our misfortunes. The darkest of days. We must endure and keep strong. Just look to the morning. The promise awaits. And know that this life must go on ..” ~ Alter Bridge

I was at the Social Security office today handling the business that noone ever really wants to handle: The “widowed” of it all. Meanwhile, while I was waiting for my number to be called I decided to clean out my wallet because not only was I bored out of my mind, there was no wi-fi there, so, tag, “cleaning out my wallet” was it!

So, guess what I found tucked tucked away in a space in the wallet that I didn’t realize existed? A love note from my husband that he had hidden for me to find! As shocked as I was, I wasn’t really shocked at all. It wasn’t uncommon for him to do things like that and I have a box filled with the dozens of cards and love notes he would hide for me in the decade we spent together. “For richer or poorer. For better or worse. In sickness and in health. Until death did us part … and EVEN beyond?” You see, that was just his way. He wanted me to know I was his queen and how grateful he was that I, and no one else, gave him the love, family and home he’d been searching for literally all his life.

He gave me this wallet on Valentine’s Day last year, and looking back do remember both the referenced back pain and the argument I’d had with my mom. He must have hidden it sometime at the end of March. My husband was indeed struggling at that point and slowly descending downward, but there were still very clear and poignant traces of “him” that existed. Someday when I’m ready I will definitely be going back to revisit “the descent“, which as far as I’m concerned really started in January 2019.

In the meantime, just know this: Yes, I am “an effing warrior”, and yes, I AM “a survivor”. But even warriors cry, and you know what? THAT’S OKAY! What kind of queen would I be without moments like today that I literally cry my eyes out to the point of nauseau because I miss my fallen king, who lost his damn mind, and left me all alone on this throne that he gave me with a broken heart and a hurting and traumatized princess? I’d be a pretty heartless one I suppose. One thing I know for sure about myself by now is that my heart is bigger than the ocean, so yah, sometimes I cry. But then I wipe my tears, straighten my crown, and my life must go on! I’m pretty stubborn that way if you haven’t figured it out by now, and also? GOD. Just God. I know He was crying with me this afternoon and I KNOW HE WAS SMILING WHEN I GOT RIGHT BACK UP LIKE I DID: “That’s My girl”, He said, and hopefully so did my husband. I am loved. Still. Always. Eternally.

Goodnight everyone.

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Sig

FEBRUARY 23, 2020: “Until They’re Safe Inside” …

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SAFE INSIDE

“I remember when you were all mine. Watched you changing in front of my eyes. What can I say? Now that I’m not the fire in the cold. Now that I’m not the hand that you hold as you’re walking away. Will you call me to tell me you’re alright? ‘Cause I worry about you the whole night. Don’t repeat my mistakes, I won’t sleep ’til you’re safe inside. If you’re home I just hope that you’re sober. Is it time to let go now you’re older? Don’t leave me this way, I won’t sleep ’til you’re safe inside. Everyone has to find their own way. And I’m sure things will work out okay.  Always start with the Truth. All we know is the Sun will rise. Thank your lucky stars that you’re alive. It’s a beautiful life. Oh, will you call me to tell me you’re alright? ‘Cause I worry about you the whole night. Don’t repeat my mistakes, I won’t sleep ’til you’re safe inside. If you’re home I just hope that you’re sober. Is it time to let go now you’re older? Don’t leave me this way, I won’t sleep ’til you’re safe inside. If you make the same mistakes, I will love you either way. All I know is I can’t live without you. There is nothing I can say that will change you anyway darling, I could never live without you. I can’t live, I can’t live, no, no.” ~ James Arthur

Facebook “memories” … Dear GOD, how I love them so! Always so bittersweet, especially in the wake of that August 22nd, 2019 “memory” I love to hate so much. Three years ago today I this:

“that moment you become a blubbering mess and thank GOD that you were lucky enough to bear certain crosses, because at the end of the day you may have lost some skin, but definitely ended up becoming real. And after all, isn’t “real” the only mark you want to touch the world with and the legacy you most want to leave for your children? “Please let me reach just one …”. I love you Sheyenne. To the Moon and back, always have, always will, and you will never NOT be one of “mine”. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Of course I had to “repost it” today, as it’s still one of the happiest memories of my life so far, and as I said, every single time I read what she wrote on the back of that picture she sent it still brings tears to my eyes AND reinforces why it is that I do what I do. This particular kiddo of mine and I share a very special bond (she was my son’s first true love and high school sweetheart). She was then and still is like an actual daughter to me, and so is her big sister by the way. I love them both beyond measure, just as I love ALL “my kids”. No matter how far they go away they always know they have a safe place and another “home” with this Momma Cat. My kids can tell me anything, and trust me when I tell you – I’ve heard absolutely everything! But I “hear and listen” to them without judgment or unnecessary harsh criticism and only offer my honest wisdom and advice when they ask for it. In my halo, my kids and their precious feelings are validated in all things, which, for the record, is exactly what I needed when I was younger, and exactly who I’m trying to be for them now that I’m older. It’s this whole thing and I am just so very blessed.

By the way, “Safe Inside” is a very special song to me in this entire regard, and every time I hear it I think of every one of them – “my kids” (the ones I gave birth to and the ones who I’ve been blessed enough to have call me “mom”. Truth being told, these days when I hear it I also think of my husband and hope that he’s finally made it safely “Home”. Although I clearly fell down (in ways that some of you may never truly now much less fathom or understand), as sick as he was at the very end, he left here having truly known “real love” as well, and for that I am equally as blessed and grateful to have been the one to make that happen for him before he had to go. I will not rest until I know that all of the people that mean the most to me in this world are “safe inside” (both physically and metaphorically).

Okay folks, make it a good night! ~ C

Sig

FEBRUARY 21, 2020: “When You’re Drowning” …

… IN THE DEEP

“I am still as the moment I hold in my hand. I can’t let go. Here and now, time and space, the illusion so grand. And then I know every breath leads the way. My escape, it is never far when I fall in the deep with You. I see that Heaven’s never far. Let it wash over me, The Truth I seek, let it lift my heavy heart. So alive, every rise, every fall brings me back to where I must go. All that I’ll ever need is this moment to get me by when I fall in the deep. With You I see that Heaven’s never far. Let it wash over me, The Truth I seek. Let it lift my heavy heart. I’m slowly fading in Your arms. I’m slowly fading in Your arms. When I fall in the deep, with You I see that Heaven’s never far. Let it wash over me, The Truth I seek. Let it lift my heavy heart.” ~ Altar Bridge

… because sometimes a song is all I really need to say everything I need to say. It’s February 22, 2020, exactly five months “to the day”. At quarter ’til midnight I’ll probably have that sucker-punch of a flash inside my head that I still cannot seem to shake, yet only exists as a lingering but slowly fading question at this point. I’ll cycle through the gaunlet and land right back on my feet, just like I do every day, because I’m an effing Warrior with a “ghost gang” of angels that ride upon my shoulders. I. Survive. Always! I still believe that I’m the luckiest woman I’ve ever known and cannot say it enough, and I’ve never felt closer to God than I have these last months. My relationship with Him has been my ultimate saving grace, and that, my friends, is the ONLY Truth I’ll ever need. My “186th day” prayer tonight is that everyone I love, anyone who’s life I touch, and anyone who is reading these words somehow reaches this place called “nirvana” that I have. Goodnight everyone! 

Sig

FEBRUARY 20, 2020: “If That’s What It Takes” …

Frog

IF THAT’S WHAT IT TAKES

“You say you fell out of love with no place to stand. You say your heart’s on the mend from a broken romance. You say you don’t want to trust because it hurts too much. And you think I’d never understand. Tell me what have I got to do to make a believer of you? Do I have turn water into wine? Turn some stones into bread? Do I have to paint my heart across the sky in a blazing shade of red? Do I have to push the Sun into the sea to make you fall in love with me? Oh, if that’s what it takes then let it be. You say, you don’t need my love but I know it’s a lie. You say I shouldn’t even try. Tell me what have I got to lose to make a believer of you? Do I have turn water into wine? Turn some stones into bread? Do I have to paint my heart across the sky in a blazing shade of red? Do I have to push the Sun into the sea to make you fall in love with me? Oh, if that’s what it takes then let it be. You need me to turn the tide of your ocean. Let me set your heart back into motion.” ~ Clay Crosse

Today was a hugely important day for me, if not THE most important decision-making day of my life thus far. I won’t go into details of what exactly this decision was, but trust me when I tell you – it was a big one! As I made the drive from home to Dallas it was a crisp, cold, insanely beautiful morning with a sky bright blue and clear. Yet as sure as I was that the decision I was making was right, the entire drive there I was talking out loud to God, my angels, my husband, and pretty much anyone “beyond” who was listening. “I just need a sign. Someone? Anyone? PLEASE!” I was begging for an answer, “Is this what I’m supposed to do? Is this what Zack would want me to do?” Even after I parked and was headed into the building and up the elevator I was asking the Cosmos, “Please, just ONE sign?” But? I got nothing. It was all good though, because after all, Zack’s best friend of a lifetime was joining me there to help guide me through the process. Rick was his rock, his true confidant, and the only human man he trusted and looked to as a father in all things big or small. Having him with me just set me at ease.

When I finally made it to the office where the woman I was meeting with was waiting, I sat down beside Rick and all the fun began. By the second hour in, our partnership had indeed commenced, at which point Rick had to leave. Research was being done, calls were being made, and forms being prepared for my signature while I just sat there patiently in my chair watching allt the magic. This woman was literally planning my future. As I gazed around at the various “things” in her office it felt like I was in my own little world. Then as I glanced over to a table with a vignette of personal pictures and trinkets she had evidently collected along the way, it happened! THE SIGN I BEGGED “THEM” TO SHOW ME ALL BUT DROPPED RIGHT DOWN FROM HEAVEN! A silver frog with a crown on his head was sitting right before my eyes! I almost came out of my skin!

And just like that I was yet again reminded that this God I serve is so faithful. “Do I have to turn water into wine? Turn some stones into bread? Do I have to paint my heart across the sky in a blazing shade of red?” No Sir, You don’t. You’ve been making a believer out of me since I first realized I was broken, and while I’ve clearly already known this all the while, this moment between us was unbelievable. You just keep showing me, and showing UP for me, in every thing big and small. I want You to know that I’m thankful for ALL OF THIS and I know You’re planning to use it all for Your glory. Thank you for never letting me down and never letting me go. I love You.

Frpgg

Sig

FEBRUARY 17, 2020: “He Told The Stars About US” …

IMG_E8989{Artwork by Gia}

STARS

“You spoke a word and life began. Told oceans where to start and where to end. You set in motion time and space. But still You come and You call to me by name. But still You come and You call to me by name. If You can hold the stars in place, You can hold my heart the same. Whenever I fall away. Whenever I start to break. So here I am, lifting up my heart to The One who holds the stars. The deepest depths, the darkest nights. Can’t separate, can’t keep me from Your sight. I get so lost, forget my way. But still You love and You don’t forget my name. If You can hold the stars in place, You can hold my heart the same. Whenever I fall away. Whenever I start to break. So here I am, lifting up my heart to The One who holds the stars. If You can calm the raging sea, You can calm the storm in me. You’re never too far away. You never show up too late. So here I am, lifting up my heart to The One who holds the stars. Your love has called my name. What do I have to fear? What do I have to fear? Your love has called my name. What do I have to fear? What do I have to fear? ~ Skillet

Gia and I watched “The Shack” again last night, which by the way, if you haven’t ever seen it, I highly recommend that you do! It’s the story of a fictional tragedy that causes a father to crash into a dark depression and question everything about his faith until he receives a mysterious letter that insights his journey to “a shack” that reignites his bludgeoned soul back to The Truth.

When it first hit the box office in March of 2017 we went as a family to watch it – Zack, me, Gia and Christian. I had already read the book when I was at The Meadows and then again on one of my truck-driving scoots up to Kansas, but when I heard about the movie release I immediately secured our tickets because I just needed them all had to see it. It was a powerful night for the four of us together and like many others in the theatre that night we all just sat silently in our tears until well after the lights came on and the clean-up crew started their sweep. It seemed to hit Christian the hardest of all and at one point the other three of us were all huddled around him in his seat just holding him as he literally was sobbing his eyes out. So yes, it hits you, just like that, and again, I can’t say it enough: If you’ve never seen it? GO SEE IT!

Meanwhile, one of the most powerful parts of the movie for me was this song I love called “Stars”. It’s about blind faith and how if you are a true believer, you trust that God is in control of everything. Hands down. Without question. Without hesitation. Without a doubt. HE’S GOT THIS! But not just the big things, the little things too, which I’m not gonna lie, even on my strongest days in The Light I too “forget to remember” that nothing happens by chance. Well, I take that back. I used to forget to remember. The old me. The scared and scarred me. The “I know He’s here but why is He just so mean” me. (Yes, that’s really what I used to think.) It took a long time for my mustard seed to grow into tree, which too was perfectly okay, because a mustard seed is all He ever asked for.

Whether you know me well or have just joined my journey, by now I’m sure you’ve noticed that am a gamut of emotions that can often mimic a gauntlet. I can be kind and loving, empathetic and caring, and fiercely protective of those who are in my bubble. I can also be a raging, angry, LUNATIC of a bitch with a vicious tongue that will take you to your knees if you’re the one facing the truth behind my words in a mirror. I will forgive anything 200% of the time but never forget those who hurt me or mine. My point being that although I can appear dark at times, and as God Himself is my witness, I live, breathe and will die by the message of Hope in this song. So please don’t let my dark side poke holes in my testimony. At the end of the day I’m still just a broken person who wants to live a life of use to others and tries her best to be as “Light” as possible under any circumstance but still screws up and gets bitter.

If you are struggling with brokenness, depression or “darkness” of your own please listen to this song. God may have His hands full with all the big stuff, but He does know who you are. He does know your name. He does bear your pain. He does cry when you cry. Look at me people! Shouldn’t I be curled up in a ball right now? Been there. Done that. I’ve run off and hid in “my shack” too many times to count, but He comes looking for me every time. He always has and always will. HE’S GOT THIS PEOPLE! And that, my friends, is The Truth.

FEBRUARY 9, 2020: “Just Be Like Good Cat And NEVER Change” …

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“PICTURE THIS”

… AND NEVER CHANGE!

“There’s a thousand things I’ve wanted to say but I’ve never been brave. No, I’ve never been brave. And you deserve the whole world. An island to yourself. You’re an island in yourself. And I think its time that I tell you how I feel. This is how I feel. And I get lost when I’m with you. And you’ll hear me say never change, baby. Stay the same, lady. Did I know for so long? Never change. There’s a hundred places I’ve wanted to see. Would you see them with me? Would you see them with me? And I don’t care where we go ”cause you are home. You are my home. And we can stay in cheap hotels. Lets just pay to entertain ourselves. And I get lost when I’m with you. And you’ll hear me say never change baby. Stay the same lady. Did I know for so long l? And I’m your man; hear me scream your name daily. Who I’ve known for so long. Never change. And I will take you with me everywhere I go. Pack your bags and leave it baby. I want you to know that loving you is easy. I thought I’d tell you so. And I want you to know: Never change baby. Stay the same lady. Did I move for so long? Never change baby. Stay the same lady. Did I move for so long? And I’m your man. Hear me Scream your name daily. Who I’ve known for so long. Never change.” ~ Picture This

PICTURE THIS: You’re a cat just trying to take a nap on a lazy afternoon, minding your own business, doing your thing, which “thing” just happens to make perfect sense to you. For no apparent reason, the very place you’re taking that nap happens to be the very place you’d firmly decided was the perfect place to always take your nap; in the quietest room of the house, just off the beaten path of the everyday chaos that otherwise enthralls you, which very same chaos you quite often not only participate in, but almost enjoy. Every day you hop right up onto the same exact spot and curl yourself up into the perfect little ball, then close your eyes and nap. Because? It’s what you do!

BACK TO TODAY: You’re just trying to take your nap, only this time your crazy mom is snapping pictures of you for what apparent reason you just don’t know, all the while chirping at you in a sweet and loving voice, “Oh, Good Cat, what are you doing you silly girl? Can’t you see that nice cozy bed there I’ve put there for you to lay in? Why then are you lying beside it and not in it? This bed that I got for you is just so much … better.”

MEANWHILE: You’re thinking to yourself as you try desperately hiding your frustration, because after all, in the big scheme of things, where you’ve chosen to take your Sunday nap doesn’t really affect her, and more so than that, doesn’t really affect anyone or thing. This is the spot you’ve chosen, because it’s the perfect spot for you, and you’re not really appreciating the being woken up of it all for either this crazy women’s picture or what was probably her very well-intended advice about “where you should take your naps”. So, you say to yourself in as kind and gentle an inner voice as you can under the circumstances, “Ummm, thanks Mom. Yes, I did see the nice cozy bed that you left here for me, and while I do so appreciate the gesture, I just want to lay here, in my spot, the way I always have and the way I always will, unless or until I decide to change it, because, ummm, YAH, that’s what I want to do! Thank you, drive thru please. Now can I please just take my nap for crying out loud? Go on and leave me the Hell alone!” So, with that, I’m saying this …

LET’S ALL BE LIKE GOOD CAT! If the “thing” you are doing is working out for you and not hurting anyone else? Yah, you shouldn’t have to change it unless you decide you want to just because someone who “thinks they know what’s best for you” tries to make you. Advice and opinions are kind of like, well …. YOU KNOW! “Everybody has one!” We’re all entitled to live our lives in the manner we decide is best, and Hell, even at that, if indeed what we are doing isn’t the optimal or best thing ever, it still has to be our choice and nobody else’s to “change”. Everyone gets a vote. Everyone gets their journey. Everyone gets to choose their bed, be it good, bad or somewhere in between. It’s called autonomy people, and like it or not, we are all very much entitled to it. Today? Although my heart was quite obviously in a very right place, this Momma Cat needed to stay in her own lane and just let Good Cat take her little nap where she wanted to.

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What’s great about this “love song” is you can sing to yourself whenever you need a reminder that you should never change what or who you are unless you flipping want to, and more so than that, if you are lucky enough to be surrounded by someone or perhaps even many people who allow you to “just be who you are”, well, that’s just pretty cool. Been there. Done that. I’ve slept on both sides of this “bed”. Despite his many imperfections and the wretched way he chose to make his exit, never once during our love story did he force or even ask me to “change”. He loved me, “Good Cat, Bad Cat”, even despite myself, and ummm, just look who I’ve become now. Thank you all for listening to this. Now, be like Good Cat and go take your Sunday nap whereever you damn well please!

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Sig

FEBRUARY 7, 2020: “Why It’s AWESOME To Seem So Small” …

SO SMALL

“Yeah, yeah. What you got if you ain’t got love? The kind that you just want to give away? It’s okay to open up. Go ahead and let The Light shine through. I know it’s hard on a rainy day. You wanna shut the world out and just be left alone, but don’t run out on your faith! ‘Cause sometimes that mountain you’ve been climbing is just a grain of sand. And what you’ve been out there searching for forever is in your hands. And when you figure out love is all that matters after all it sure makes everything else seem so small. It’s so easy to get lost inside a problem that seems so big at the time. It’s like a river that’s so wide it swallows you whole. While you’re sitting around thinking about what you can’t change and worrying about all the wrong things, time’s flying by, moving so fast. You better make it count ’cause you can’t get it back. Sometimes that mountain you’ve been climbing is just a grain of sand. And what you’ve been out there searching for forever is in your hands. Oh, and when you figure out love is all that matters after all it sure makes everything else seem so small. ~ Carrie Underwood

It was indeed a rainy day here in Dallas on February 5th. The kind that tends to make you want to just shut the world away. But then again, not so much. With cozy pajamas, fluffy slippers, an ox of a German Shepherd named Lord Williamson at my feet and three cats perched strategically out of his reach all around me? Yah, that’s my vibe! The night before I’d been directed to “Quora”, a question and answer style on-line forum that I’d never heard of. So, after taking Gia to school I got home, made a giant cup of coffee and sat down to check it out. At first glance, I thought, “Wow, this could be interesting”, then I threw a quick profile together, circled back around to the home page, and this was the first question I saw: “What are the worst cases of mental illness you have ever seen?” Really? “Well okay then …”, and off I went (with the Twilight Zone music cued up in the background). This was my answer:

My own husband, who I lost to suicide August 22, 2019. He was the Godsend game changer for me and my daughter, larger than life with a heart the size of an ocean, but had been thrown away like common garbage by his mother at birth. She abandoned him permanently at 18 months, and I suppose his father did the best he could with lack of parenting skills he had, but he was then and is still but a child himself. My husband was left alone most of the time from a very young age and his basic needs were never properly tended to.

We didn’t realize his ACS (Abandonded Child Syndrome) even existed until five years into our marriage, but once faced with the sobering truths of his traumatic childhood, every bit of strength and fortitude he’d managed to find and survive with in his life of solitude before finding us, the first and only real home and family he’d ever had, began slipping right out from under him. The abandonment issues that led to his mental illness were further complicated by the fact that his entire family abandonded him; neither the mother, father or three older siblings could be bothered with him. This heartless, selfish, ice-cold brood of people literally broke his heart into pieces that could never be put back together.

There were demons living in the hole they burned into his soul we fought desperately to keep him from drowning in, but in the end, the demons won. The last months of his life it appeared that he was in the early stages of psychosis, if not schizophrenia. He’d been hearing voices, seeing things, missing “blocks of time”, and ultimately just vanished completely within himself. He said he couldn’t “feel anything” anymore, and honestly, we lost him months before he put that gun to his head. It was a living nightmare to witness and the worst kind of heartbreak to suffer. He died of a broken heart that led to his mental illness and then suicide.

I’ve been writing tirelessly about not only his, but my mental health journey as well, in “The Diary Of My Perfection” dot com. I’d be honored if any of you would care to read, follow or share it, as it is now my mission to try and be a Light in other people’s darkness.

Once I’d completed and submitted it, it was time to switch gears to the work day that lied ahead, which I did, and soon thereafter I was out the door with absolutely no idea what, if anything, would become of my answer to the question. Keep in mind that throughout the day I had noticed the “push” notifications on my Quora app were beginning to skyrocket. NOT GONNA LIE … I was nervous! I kept thinking, “Oh no, what’s with all these notifications? 25, 50, 75, 100, 150? Have I upset, offended or pissed someone off? Have I invoked some drama with the masses? Holy shit! What the Hell? What have I done?” But I had so much going on that day that I couldn’t allow myself to open the app and look, for fear that what I may find would somehow distract, upset or topple me. So, I just went on with my day and anxiously waited until I got home to open the “Pandora’s Box” I was worried I had created.

When I finally got back to my desk that night, I took a deep breath and logged back on to the site. I WAS STUNNED! Much to my overwhelming surprise I found that my answer had been viewed upwards of 22,000 times, “upvoted” over 2,000 times, and responded to hundreds of times, with uplifting, supportive and reflective comments such as this:

“Thank you so very much for sharing this difficult journey with others. You may have just saved my life by giving me enough information to try to find a path out of my personal jungle.

Until I read your post I had never heard of “abandoned child syndrome”. I now have SOMETHING that points to the root of my problems! NOW I’m starting to understand myself just a tiny bit more than I did 10 minutes ago.

The question is now what can I do to start forging a different future? I am 50 years old and feel like a boat without ears, a sail, and a rudder. Or is it too late to try to move forward? I feel like it’s just too much and I’m way too tired to keep trying.

Thank you for putting your grief into action and attempting to save other’s. I think I’m simply too old and tired …”.

And there you have it! Confirmation that every single thing I’ve walked through and survived in my 50 years thus far is going to mean something so much bigger than I could possibly have ever foreseen to someone, somehow, some way, if I just keep on keeping on. Everything my husband had to walk through is going to have meant something bigger than even he was and I am going to make sure of it!

One of the things I loved most about Zack was his unrelenting generosity and heart for others. It was not uncommon for him to “give or do”, if not even to random strangers; the more he acquired, the more he gave away. We shared that in common, which is not to toot a horn right now, but rather, to make this point: Whenever we’d done something for someone else we would always “fist bump” or “high five” eachother afterwards and smile. So, yah, after reading that comment above? I actually did pause as I turned to his picture on my desk and sent out my half of our “fist bump” to wherever he is in this cosmos. This is what I’m supposed to be doing! I know it. He knows it. God knows it! I’m just gonna keep staying “small” so all this can become so much “bigger” than either of us could have ever imagined. I feel so extremely blessed, happy, and even more determined to do whatever it is I’m supposed to do than I was before. That is all.

IMG_E9348{Artwork by Charles Mackesy}

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FEBRUARY 1, 2020: “Crazy Grandma Cat” …

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TO FIND OUT “WHAT HAPPENED” THE NIGHT BEFORE I MADE THIS VIDEO <<CLICK HERE>>!

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JANUARY 31, 2020: “The Overcomers” …

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The night before last I sent this message to one of Gia’s former teachers (so therefore I apologize for the “not so eloquentness” of it all). For the record, he wasn’t just “any teacher”; he’s her favorite teacher of all since starting school:

“Hi Mr. M. I hope this message finds you well. Listen, I wanted to share something that happened with Gia this morning that directly involved YOU. I’m sure you are well aware of what happened last August; with my husband, with her. But keep in mind that even before that horrible cherry bomb went off on our family’s cake, she had been struggling for quite some years prior, which unfortunately, and without going into all the details, is a huge part of what ultimately took my husband down the way he went. But I digress …

In the year leading up to “August 22nd” Gia had been having severe depression and anxiety as a result of the PTSD that was in large part due to some things that were happening not only at home with “her real dad”, but there on the SMCS campus as well. My husband and I were both struggling to help keep her head above the water, but didn’t realize exactly HOW far under the water her head really was until November of 1998 (just after seventh grade began) when he was making his weekly “spot check” of her phone to see what she’d been doing on it. That was when he discovered she’d Googled, “I don’t want to live anymore” and “how do I stop not wanting to kill myself”. Our world crashed down. HIS WORLD CRASHED DOWN! Gia was everything to him, and the thought of “losing her” was just something he couldn’t bear after the lifetime of literal abandonment he’d suffered through. (His mother put him in a trash can the day he was born … his story wrote itself from there.)

Meanwhile, fast forward to last night. Gia and I are both knee deep in “our process”. I’m working full-time know to bring awareness about so many different things that I myself have suffered through. Part of my process is a blog I started to expose the diary / manuscript I’d been keeping for YEARS about my life and all its “secrets”. This morning my post was about a song I’ve been listening to incessantly for the past 5 months. Probably every day. But it always makes me cry so I never listen to it in front of her. Keep also in mind that a large part of my entire LIFE’S process has been through music and how it has helped me successfully access emotions and parts of myself that I never really knew were broken, or, that I just couldn’t find the words to explain, either to myself or anyone else. In fact, one of the things that I am planning to use in my up and coming “Trauma Coaching” endeavor is “music therapy”. I’ve been doing this with both of my kids for the longest time, as well as a few kids I’ve “adopted” along the way. I ask each of them to send me a song every Friday morning that lets either me or their own selves know how they are feeling. And this his how what happened this morning links back to you …

She stayed home from school today because she’d been having a pretty rough day emotionally, and well, she just wanted to be with me. So, when I was in my office this morning posting this blog, I of course had the song playing in the background. She came around the corner right at that moment and just stopped. She looked a little confused even. I asked her what was wrong and she started to cry. Then she sat down on the couch beside me and started to explain. “Mom, I’ve heard this before, and it just hit me like a ton of bricks. It was in Mr. Michniak’s class when we were doing his music thing.” So, I asked her “What music thing”? Then she explained, and I was on the floor.

As it turns out, her tears were good, cathartic ones. She said that she specifically remembered the day you played that for them and how it really did reach her somewhere inside all her darkness. It left a small anchor in her heart that I guess she didn’t realize she needed as much as she did. She went on to say, however, that as bad as she feeling at that time, the song did “make her pause and think”, about God, and her life, and it gave her a little hope that somehow she was going to be okay.

After this conversation we listened to the song again and I just held her. We were both sobbing. What you did that day? Or any of the days you’ve “done the music thing”. It’s precious, and a gift, and if ONLY it ever helped ONE child whose path you’ve crossed see a glimmer of light inside their darkness? Well, it was my kid. And I cannot thank you enough. You are a special person and please know how truly special this morning was for us today and how YOU unknowingly played a part of it by simply “doing the music thing” with our kids.

Have a blessed day please, and here’s the link to my post and my blog. Wouldn’t hate if you decided to follow it. I’m really trying to use our story for the betterment of others. Thank you Mr. M!”

So, let me explain “the music thing”: He plays random songs in class for them to listen to, quietly reflect on, then write about how they made them feel. EXACTLY WHAT I’VE BEEN DOING WITH “MY KIDS” FOR YEARS! As I said in my “Nettie” post this week, I myself first began the “music thing” with Christian when he was 16. Now I do it with Gia and her friend Caleb, as well as a couple of other kids (some of who are now adults) I’ve taken into my heart over the years. I’ve gotten songs from my kids at ALL hours of the day and night over the last 11 years and I’m not gonna lie … it’s one of the best parts of my existence. Just knowing they trust me with their feelings that way – with the vulnerabilities of all the secret places they travel inside their own hearts and minds? IT MEANS EVERYTHING TO ME!

For the record, his response this morning left me speechless. It reminded me yet again that everything is connected somehow and part of a much bigger picture; one that I may never see the finishing strokes and signature on in my own lifetime. Seeds are being planted. People are being purposed. Everything and everyone in our lives is strung together and I will NEVER be convinced otherwise.

Once I asked Gia “why is he your favorite teacher”, and her arbitrary response just became crystal clear to me. She said, “He’s just special. He’s teaches us so much more than academic stuff. He teaches us about life stuff. I don’t know; there’s something just special about him. He cares and really wants to make a difference. He reminds me a lot of you actually.” So with that, not only am I honored that this incredible man, teacher and mentor that God put in my daughter’s path was so taken by my message to him, but even more so am I honored that my daughter correlates me with him. Not the worst thing ever – being compared to such a wise “influencer”. (PS) Gotta love this song that he was talking about in his message, because yes, Gia and I can both appreciate it. We are “overcomers”!

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JANUARY 30, 2020: “The Love Song From Heaven That Took Me Down” …

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HOLD HER

“She was holdin’ on so tight, but I had to say goodbye. She’s all alone tonight. There’s nothin’ I could do to make it right Is it ever gonna be, ever gonna be brighter? Is it ever gonna be, ever gonna be easier? Hold her tonight. Oh, God, would you hold her tonight? ‘Cause I’m not there to stay close Keep watch, tell her she’s not alone. Hold her tonight. We’re apart but not alone. My love for her is more than she could know. A secret place only we can go, and we’ll laugh while we will hope until we’re home. Is it ever gonna be, ever gonna be brighter? Is it ever gonna be, ever gonna be easier? Hold her tonight. Oh, God, would you hold her tonight? ‘Cause I’m not there to stay close, keep watch, tell her she’s not alone. Hold her tonight. Steady on, steady on, my love. This shall soon pass. Steady on, steady on, my love. This shall soon pass. Steady on, steady on, my love. This shall soon pass. Steady on, steady on, my love Hold her tonight. Oh, God, would you hold her tonight? ‘Cause I’m not there to stay close, keep watch, tell her again she’s not alone. Hold her tonight. Hold her tonight. Oh, God, would you hold her tonight? ‘Cause I’m not there to stay close. Keep watch, tell her she’s not alone. Stay close, keep watch, tell her she’s not alone. Hold her tonight.” ~ King & Country

I’ve been doing so well in my journey. I know you all can see it, and indeed what you see real. Still, I heard this song for the first time tonight at around 5pm while driving through a parking lot, at which point I fell apart so badly that I had to literally pull my car into a space and just sit there and cry. And cry. And cry. And cry. For about two hours, I literally cried my eyes out. I then made myself go to “get it together” and go the gym and get on the treadmill thinking that would “force me” to calm down. Which it did, for one hour and ten minutes while I was on the tread mill. I turned on the Five Finger Death Punch and made myself stop being sad. Thankfully, the three friends I reached out to all reached right back to me, which helped keep me grounded. But when I got home and walked into our closet it started all over again. I’m not gonna lie. This is hard. I miss him. So much. Every second. Every minute. Every day. Every night. Sometimes I just walk to his side of the closet and “hug his clothes” that are still hanging there. And smell them. One half of my person and everything I used to be is literally, just, GONE. One of my friends pointed out to me that I probably “needed” this. To cry. And cry. And cry. She was right. I think I did. But you know what? GRIEF SUCKS! It makes no sense to me whatsoever. It’s as if he went to God and actually said these words, to Him, about me, because, these is exactly what he would say to anyone right now if he could actually say something. “Hold her for me.” Tomorrow will be a new day, of this I’m sure. But in the meantime: GRIEF SUCKS! I know God is holding me, I do. Right now. This minute. As I’m writing this. I can feel Him. Zack is here with me too I can feel him. Goodnight everyone. Please keep me in your hearts and prayers tonight because I am really struggling. 

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JANUARY 29, 2020: “God Only Knows” …

This one’s for my fallen king. And my son. And my daughter. And myself. And anyone in my atmosphere who is now or has ever struggled just to keep your head above the water. It’s so hard to swim when the entire weight of the world seems to be resting upon your shoulders. This is I know too well! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If I can do this? YOU CAN DO THIS! So, with that: Chin up! Knuckles out! Head held high! Fight the good fight. Just. Keep. Breathing. And remember …

GOD ONLY KNOWS

“Wide awake while the world is sound asleepin’. Too afraid of what might show up while you’re dreamin’. Nobody, nobody, nobody sees you. Nobody, nobody, nobody would believe you. Every day you try to pick up all the pieces. All the memories, they somehow never leave you. Nobody, nobody, nobody sees you. Nobody, nobody, nobody would believe you. God only knows what you’ve been through. God only knows what they say about you. God only knows how it’s killing you. But there’s a kind of love that God only knows. God only knows what you’ve been through. God only knows what they say about you. God only knows the real you. There’s a kind of love that God only knows. There’s a kind of love that. There’s a kind of love. You keep a cover over every single secret. So afraid if someone saw them they would leave. But somebody, somebody, somebody sees you. Somebody, somebody will never leave you. God only knows what you’ve been through .For the lonely, for the ashamed. The misunderstood, and the ones to blame. What if we could start over. We could start over. We could start over. Oh for the lonely, for the ashamed.”

~ for King & Country

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JANUARY 28, 2020: “The Most BEAUTIFUL Fog I’ve Ever Seen” …

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“NETTIE”

“Nettie, no need to cry. Let me wipe those tear drops from your eyes. In the dark bathed in Cathode ray blue, Miss Red Hook of 1922, weeping silently for the pain of others. Every night a tearful rosary, a victim of the curse of empathy. Her reward of compassion is to suffer. Nettie, no need to cry. Let me wipe those tear drops from your eyes. My short coming I know I caused her grief. Still she loves me. This I can’t believe! Responding not with anger but a prayer, Heaven’s just Southwest of Cobbil Hill. True. I am the son of an angel. Maternally, not one woman compares. Nettie, no need to cry. Let me wipe those tear drops from your eyes. If you fall, I will catch you. When you’re lost, I’ll be there soon. Far away, but of course near. When you’re sad I am always here. Thank you from saving me from myself. Your compassion became its own hell. Unequivocally Beautiful inside and out. Without a doubt. Nettie, no need to cry. Let me wipe those tear drops from your eyes.” ~ Type O Negative

One of my greatest treasures in life is the way my son communicates with me and only me by simply sending me music. He’s been doing it since age 16 after I finally left our home in search of a different ending to the story I knew desperately needed to change. His messages come to me at the most random times, and often in the wee hours of the morning, which is always bittersweet because as every parent knows, “3am texts from your kid” can often invoke nightmarish fears that no one but a parent can understand. Thanks be to GOD that regardless of the piercing alarm that goes off in my heart every time I hear his text tone, so far they’ve only ever been his “communication”.

His latest message arrived this morning at the absolute craziest moment, and the instant I got it every ounce of adrenaline in my body dumped right back into my soul in all the most beautiful ways. I was standing at the end of my driveway in an abyss of fog like no other I’d ever seen, and had no idea why I’d been so compelled to walk right into and stare at it. As you read in my response to him above, “I wasn’t sure how it was making me feel. Maybe a little lost, but maybe a little not”. Yet something made me want to take it’s picture, and as shown in the text, as soon as I held the camera up to take the shot his text came through.” What in the actual HE JUST DID THAT, didn’t He? And no, I don’t mean Christian. It was Him! It was God. Or maybe my husband. Or my Angel. “Someone” infinitely beyond this place set that ethereal moment up just for me. The Cosmos beckoned me with it’s “message in the fog” at that one perfect moment in time. After I took the picture, I stood and listened to the song. Yes, it’s dark, indeed very tragic, but oh my GOD is it ever beautiful, and such is the story of my life! Its haunting chords called me back to the shore like an actual foghorn in the dead of night, and what are the chances something like this would happen “out of the grey” just like that?

It’s half past one here in Dallas and as I wrap this up, the fog is starting to lift. As forlonging as it seemed when it greeted me this morning I’m almost sad to see it go, because as soon as I received this cryptic message from deep within his heart, it wrapped me in the most comforting blanket I could possibly have ever felt. My kids truly are my most beautiful work and legacy, and despite the many circumstances that have darkened some of our days, I believe with every shred of my being that they are going to be okay. I’m his “Nettie”, I am loved, and I am the luckiest woman on this planet.

Sig

 

JANUARY 27, 2020: “A Lion’s Roar About A Father’s Love” …

A FATHER’S LOVE

“Three feet tall and full of questions. You must have thought I was the smartest man alive. I didn’t always have the answers to every little how and where and why. Like “Daddy, why’s the sky so blue today?” “Does Jesus really hear me when I pray?” “When I grow up, will I be just like you?” “Will I be tall and strong and brave?” There’s no power on earth like your fathers’ love. So big and so strong as your father’s love. A promise that’s sacred, a promise from Heaven above. No matter where you go… always know You can depend on your father’s love. Especially when it’s cold, especially when you’re lonely. When your little heart is lost trying to find it’s way. I know the world is always changing, but, remember son, that some things never change. And even when my life on earth is through there will still be a part of me in you. ‘Cause some things are forever. Nothing’s ever gonna take my love from you. There is no power on earth like your father’s love. So big and so strong as your father’s love. A promise that’s sacred, a promise from Heaven above. Did I hug enough? Did I care enough? When you most needed me, was I there enough? Enough to make you feel the power of our father’s love?” ~ Bob Carlisle

There’s a guy I’ve been following for a few years now, Sean Whalen, “the Lions Not Sheep Guy”. He’s one of those influencers that so many love to hate, with unfiltered “truth bombs” that pummel us with supersized doses of reality. He’s been there, done that, had it all, lost it all, made gazillions of dollars, and changed the lives of those who are wise enough to face his sobering messages in the mirror for the so much very better. Some people call him an asshole. Sometimes he can be an asshole. He’s also one of the greatest men I’ve never met! Let me tell you why by sharing last night’s “truth bomb” in the wake of the Kobe Bryant tragedy:

“Didn’t know him. Never met him. But as a father I can’t think of more terrifying reality than to leave my children. Men, hug them tighter. Text them. Write them. Call them. Dance with them. Smile with them. Lay with them. Snuggle them. Talk to them. No amount of worldly success will EVER be able to buy back this moment or this day. Nothing you do in the next hour will be more important than connecting with them. Nothing will replace today. Make it memorable. Make it one that if you never had another, you’ve had said and done it all. Honor this man by honoring what is right in front of us.”

… and thus a Lion’s roar about “a father’s love” and the reason so many of us love him. HE’S ANSWERED “THE RIDDLE” SPOT ON! This was my comment to his post:

“To any “dads” out there following Sean’s post here. Let me echo and highlight his message. I’m a new widow here – 158 days old. Lost my king to suicide. The wake of devastation for the people Mr. Bryant just left behind is NOT for the faint of heart. Please DO hug your kids tonight. Do everything listed above. A daddy’s last thoughts, words and deeds for their children can either be the MOST powerful or the MOST devastating things they carry to their OWN graves one day. Choose well and leave ONLY a legacy of LOVE …”

I’m not gonna say I was a Kobe Bryant fan because that would be a lie. Basketball is not my scene, and honestly, professional sports and the athletes that play them tend to impress me ZERO. The people that impress me most are the ones like Sean – the influential, motivating, “living a life of use to others” pride that lead their packs with the truth. More so than that are the INFLUENTIAL FATHERS who are the stars in this self-professed Queen’s sky, which is not to say there aren’t some pro athletes who are using their celebrity as platforms to motivate others and are indeed influential fathers. But as an aside, if someone were to ask me, “If you could choose just ONE famous person to meet, who would it be?”, I can’t think of any athletes I need to know. But I’ve digressed again, and now that I think of it, what little I did know about Kobe wasn’t exactly stellar. It seems he might have made some terrible choices along his way.

But here’s what I do know: He was an imperfect, mortal man. Someone’s husband. SOMEONE’S FATHER! Regardless of his mistakes, HE’S DEAD! Now there is another broken family waking up to an actual “living nightmare” today whose lives as they knew them just ended. Been there. Done that. It’s NOT a reality for the faint of heart and regardless of who he was or “what he did”, I’m aching for those he left behind. Judging from the pictures in the media of him with his kids it appears that as flawed as he may have ever been, he did have good connections with his kids. Perhaps he had been doing “that stuff on Sean’s list”, in which case, thank God he left his kids with a legacy of LOVE!

If you’d had the “fathers” in your life that I was once married to or raised by, or worse yet, had a truly good father in your atmosphere whose less than favorable departure left a smite on his otherwise beautiful legacy? Yah, you’d know exactly why Sean’s “PAY ATTENTION DADS” truth bomb meant so much to me. There are THOUSANDS of men following him and this tragedy was the perfect opportunity for him to use the power he wields to influence and motivate them with the most important message a father can hear. I pray to GOD they took his loving message straight into their hearts because there really is no power on earth like your father’s love. A good father can build you into an impermeable fortress. A bad one can bury you alive in wounds that never heal. Kudos to all the fortress building KINGS in this world and long live your legacies of love!

Sig

JANUARY 26, 2020: “My Ghost Gang Is To Blame” …

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GHOST

“There’s a ghost. There’s a ghost inside of me. Not like those draped in old bed sheets. Saying “trick or treat”. Different. Oh, this ghost is different. Not one that leaves me scared to death. But one that puts my fear to rest. Oh, holiness keep haunting me. Oh, you’re my hope, you’re my peace. Ironic in a way.  I’m no longer afraid. And the ghost is to blame. There’s a ghost. There’s a ghost inside of me. Not something from some campfire story. Where I’m terrified to sleep. Opposite. This ghost is quite the opposite. He came just like a welcomed friend. And I was comforted. Oh, holiness keep haunting me. Oh, you’re my hope, you’re my peace. Ironic in a way. I’m no longer afraid. And the ghost is to blame. I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid. No longer afraid.” ~ Mercy Me

… because who else could I blame for the current state of my badly broken but still beating heart and how else could I explain what isn’t happening to me in the wake of all this devastation? While driving home yesterday it hit me yet again that YES, I AM A WARRIOR! And let me tell you why …

Most of you probably know that my husband ended his own life at “just before midnight on August 22nd”, but what you probably don’t know is where: Exactly 1.5 miles from the throne he abdicated in a field that separates the abutting subdivision from ours, which entrance which lies upon the main thoroughfare between Parker and Allen where a lot of my time is spent, so unless I make a consorted effort to avoid the intersection I love to hate I have no other choice but to face these sobering facts often multiple times a day: “This” was the last road he traveled. “That” was the last turn he ever made. “Those” were the last visions that befell his dying eyes as he headed towards his fate.

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In the immediate weeks that followed his death I avoided that place at all costs and vowed NEVER to go near it again. What person in their right mind could? Many were concerned for my well-being in this regard, and since the first 30 days after I was highly medicated, when someone had to drive me to Allen they’d go as far out of their way as possible to keep me away from “there”. Greater was the concern as to whether we’d even be able to stay in this house for any prolonged period for fear that what happened was way too close to home.

Yet as the weeks passed my heart just made me go want to go there; I honestly don’t know why. Time and again I wandered down that path with the barage of questions that still cycle through my mind: WHY did he do it? Why WOULD he do it? Why that spot? Why this town? Why so close to home? What was he FEELING alone inside that car? Was he sad? Was he angry? Was he scared? Did his heart ache? Was it pounding? Or was it already dead and numb? What was he DOING the second before he left? Was he crying? Was he screaming? Thinking about his life? His childhood? Me and her? DID HE THINK ABOUT WHAT THIS WOULD DO TO US? Did his hand shake as he held the gun to his head? Did he wrestle with it? Bring it up? Then bring it down? Or just old it up ONCE and pull the trigger? What did he HEAR as he made his final decision? Was it a song? WHAT SONG? Or was there just deafening silence? Was it “the voices in his head” that told him to “just do it”? DID HE REACH OUT TO GOD? Look for His hand? Beg forgiveness? Did he repeat his prayer of Salvation? PLEASE GOD, PLEASE … JUST HELP ME UNDERSTAND! Then the questions stop, I start breathing once again, and the constriction of my heart that always proceeds”the cycle” fades to black AND I SURVIVE!

Here’s what I need everyone to know: I’m fiercely protected 24/7 by a “Ghost Gang” in my mind and these are a but a FEW of its members: A handful of a baby girl with a presence the size of the Cosmos, a Cajun Blaze Of Glory, and the Frog I kissed who turned into a King. My Guardian Angels serve full-time posts as lieutenant commanders and God’s Trinity lords over them all! My ghosts are not just ordinary – they’re THE TOUGHEST ONES AROUND. They’ve yet to let me down as they hunt the many monsters that feast upon my soul and have slayed them to the ground one by one! Each of them have made me who I am today, don’t leave me scared either “to death” or “about it”, and they do put my every fear to rest. If I start going dark? They turn on all the Lights! I pray incessantly they’ll keep haunting me with the abundant hope and peace that has now become the echo in my battle cry: 

“Their deaths have neither broken me, nor stolen from or vanquished me, and everything they were is every wondrous thing I’ve become. They’ve but “slipped away into the next room” with countless other loved ones I’ve lost along the way and they’ll all be waiting for me when I get Home. They continue to survive with me in every shadow before and behind with their presences forever locked inside what are now the even deeper chasms of my mind with an ensemble of angelic voices still filling my heart with the memories, joy and laughter.”

Ironic in a way? I will NEVER be afraid and it’s my “Ghost Gang” that’s to blame! They’ve got their territory marked from here to Eternity and it’s every single road I travel. Thank you for listening to me again. I love all of you.

Sig

 

JANUARY 25, 2020: “His Wish For Her” …

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MY WISH

“I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow and each road leads you where you wanna go. And if you’re faced with a choice, and you have to choose, I hope you choose the one that means the most to you. And if one door opens to another door closed, I hope you keep on walkin’ till you find the window. If it’s cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile. But more than anything, more than anything … My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to. Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small. You never need to carry more than you can hold. And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to, I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too. Yeah, this, is my wish. I hope you never look back, but you never forget all the ones who love you in the place you live. I hope you always forgive, and you never regret and you help somebody every chance you get. Oh, you find God’s grace, in every mistake and always give more than you take.But more than anything, yeah, more than anything … My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to. Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small. You never need to carry more than you can hold. And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to, I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too. Yeah, this, is my wish.” ~ Rascal Flatts

Today was one of the most bittersweet of my journey thus far … her first high school interview, a day that Zack and I had been dreaming of for years. If you knew him at all you knew how important her education was to him and that it was the initial source of inspiration for the lifestyle he was determined to give us. He wanted her to have every “thing” and opportunity he never had as a child and wasn’t going to let anything stop him from laying the world at her feet. It was no secret that it was my husband and not her “real dad” who single-handedly paid for every cent of her primary education at St. Mark’s. I fondly recall the very day this journey began …

We were freshly married and still living in our little apartment in Fairview when first grade finally arrived. Since our address fed into in a public school with less than favorable stats and Christian had been privileged with a private education Zack and I assumed that her dad would be on board with affording her the same opportunity and thus willing to split the cost with us, which, not gonna lie, at that juncture was going to be a stretch. Especially inasmuch that my “wedding gift” to him was: Me, a little girl, a recent stay at one of the most exclusive psychiatric facilities in the world, $35K of unsecured debt, a car we couldn’t afford, a mental health resume about 62 pages long, a less than supportive family that all but despised if not cursed the day he was born, and oh yah, I wasn’t exactly what one would call “employable” then. YET WITHOUT HESITATION HE STEPPED UP TO THE ENTIRE PLATE FOR HER! Go figure, I’ve digressed. The day I called her dad to ask what he thought about sending her to St. Mark’s like her big brother, with a knife through my heart and a shot heard ’round the world his verbatim response was this:

“Nope. Not happening. Guess you should have thought about that before you left here. Your gravy train is over honey, so why don’t you let the moron pay for it (then he literally laughed out loud). Have fun explaining to her one day why she couldn’t go to private school like her brother. Good job mom! Good job!” 

I was stunned by his callous response! What in the actual HELL? “MY gravy train?” THIS WASN’T ABOUT ME! IT WAS ABOUT HER! How could he be so cruel as to punish her just to punish me? DON’T get me wrong, by no means am I saying that public school is a punishment. I have always been of the mindset that an education is only as good as the student himself and a truly good student can and will flourish in any school setting, be it public, private or home. That’s not what this post is about and hopefully you understand where my heart and mind are in this regard. When I called Zack to tell him what her dad had said he was outraged in every sense of the word. “Let the moron pay for it? Really? He said that? Okay then, I WILL, just watch me! I’ll take care of EVERYTHING and he can ride his selfish gravy train straight to Hell!” It was in that moment that my husband’s relentless fire was fueled with a determination like nothing I’d ever seen before:

“Catherine, I can do this! I’ll empty out my savings. I’ll get a second job. Whatever I have to do, I’ll do it. If I have to sell my soul to the Devil, she’ll have EVERYTHING Christian had. EVERYTHING I never had. She’s GOING to St. Mark’s and she’s GOING to Catholic high school. Trust me, SHE’S GOING!”

When he got home that night, he explained how he planned to handle things for the first year and assured me that by the second grade he’d have the rest figured out. Then this is what he did: HE EMPTIED OUT HIS LIFETIME FITNESS CENTER 401K TO PAY FOR HER FIRST YEAR’S TUITION! The very 401K he’d been faithfully contributing to with the specific intention of eventually buying himself that brand new car he’d always wanted. Yes, he did that for her. My husband. Her “stepdad”. HE DID THAT! The rest is merely history and many of you have good sense about everything he ended up “doing for us” in just under ten years flat. And please do not mistake this post as braggard. If you know me at all you know damn good and well that I have never forgotten how this story began: With sterling silver James Avery wedding bands, a tiny one-bedroom apartment and nothing but a pocket full of dreams.

Yes, today was bittersweet. I’ve thought crying so many times since waking up to the cold, hard reality that he’s not here to revel in the triumph, pride and joy of “this day” he’d worked for, dreamt of and looked forward to since the day she bounced into his life, but I didn’t want to rain on her parade. Despite the impossible strength she very clearly recognizes in my process and recovery, the road to her process and recovery from the trauma that was his ironic and tragic parting gift to her is still so long ahead. There’s an unspoken rule between the two of us right now: She knows I’m okay, and that she’s going to be okay, but for her sake alone my darker days, tears and moments are best spent in private. At the end of the day however, as I sit with all this emotion, I am once again comforted in this peace: He was with us today! He’s with us every day. Knowing the God Who’s hands are wrapped around my heart like I do? The actual reality is not as “cold and hard” as I first thought. He is reveling in the triumph, pride and joy of “this day” he made happen for her; He’s simply watching it from “the next room”. Good night everyone.

 

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Sig

JANUARY 24, 2020: “I’d Rather Be Dangerous” …

DANGEROUS

“I could stand behind my barricade. Do what I’m told and be afraid to change. While isolated by the mainstream. With the current up against me. Well maybe if my arms were ten feet tall I could finally reach that crystal ball. ‘Cause I still find inside there’s something braver. And I, I won’t be, I won’t be the silent damnation. I will never be voiceless. My weapon of choice is I’d rather be dangerous. I won’t be left defenseless, as God is my witness, I’d rather be dangerous. I’m not making conversation. But I’ll state my observations. Well I could buy my faith like a plot in the ground. But I was never lost and I never had a doubt. ‘Cause I still find it’s not my imagination. And I, I won’t be, I won’t be the silent damnation. I will never be voiceless. My weapon of choice is I’d rather be dangerous. I won’t be left defenseless, as God is my witness, I’d rather be dangerous. Everybody is somebody, and anybody is you. I own my story. I won’t say sorry and neither should you.” ~ Shinedown

… when it’s 9:19 in the morning, 156 days since you’re life took a turn for the “you know what you have to do now”, you get this message from the “Second Phoenix Rising” and are reminded once again that all this pain has only ever been a gift. To you. To her. To the world! She gets it, I can feel it, and she really is going to be the final game changer for this story once and for all. It’s moments like these that keep me locked, loaded and DANGEROUS!

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{This is the tattoo worn by Brent Smith himself, the lead singer for one of the bands of my life.}

Pain is a gift

 

JANUARY 22, 2020: “The Convictions Of My Heart” …

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…  are the people, places and things I choose to surround myself with at every turn, because if I’ve learned anything living in this gauntlet we call life it’s that memories are made of moments – the sweetest of which are our convictions – which at the end of the day are all that really matters. If I leave here tomorrow, it’s “things like this” that will be in the forefront of my mind as I head toward The Light that brought me here in the first place. So I choose to surround myself with love and Light in whatever way, shape or form they come to me.

“Where are the dreams that we once had? This is the time to bring them back. What were the promises caught on the tips of our tongues? Do we forget or forgive? There’s a whole other life waiting to be lived when one day we’re brave enough to talk with conviction of the heart.” ~ Kenny Loggins

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Sig

JANUARY 21, 2020: “Answering The Riddle” …

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“THE RIDDLE”

There was a man back in ’95 whose heart ran out of summers but before he died I asked him, “Wait, what’s the sense in life? Come over me. Come over me.”  He said, “Son why you got to sing that tune? Catch a Dylan song or some eclipse of the moon. Let an angel swing and make you swoon then you will see. You will see.” Then he said, “Here’s a riddle for you. Find The Answer. There’s a reason for the world: You and I”.

Picked up my kid from school today. “Did you learn anything cause in the world today? You can’t live in a castle far away. Now talk to me. Come talk to me.” He said, “Dad I’m big but we’re smaller than small. In the scheme of things, well we’re nothing at all. Still every mother’s child sings a lonely song. So play with me. Come play with me. And hey dad, here’s a riddle for you, find The Answer. There’s a reason for the world: You and I”. I said, “Son for all I’ve told you, when you get right down to the reason for the world: Who am I?”

There are secrets that we still have left to find. There have been mysteries from the beginning of time. There are answers we’re not wise enough to see. He said, “You’re looking for a clue: I LOVE YOU FREE!”

The batter swings and the summer flies as I look into my angel’s eyes. A song plays on while the moon is high over me. Something comes over me. I guess we’re big and I guess we’re small. If you think about it man you know we got it all cause we’re all we got on this bouncing ball and I love you free. I LOVE YOU FREE!” Here’s a riddle for you, find The Answer. There’s a reason for the world: You and I. ~ Five For Fighting

There have been days in my life when the most unassuming things have had the most profound effects on my humanity and spirit. Take yesterday for example …

I had to leave the house today, but because it was Martin Luther King Day Gia asked to stay behind and relax on her day off. I’m just now getting accustomed to leaving her home alone in the wake of all she’s been through, but she still had to complete the last of her high school applications, and, she is going on 15 so I agreed to let her stay. As I was headed out the door, I found her at the computer typing away at the application. Mind you, I hadn’t yet looked at the questions and had no idea what she was writing.

I returned to find her nesting peacefully at her perch upstairs working on her latest sketch while singing along to her favorite Beatle’s vinyl. (Yes, she was born in the wrong decade FYI. Her soul is circa 1960 through 70 and she’s THE oldest young lady I’ve ever met!) After settling in I made it back to the computer only to find it left open to the questions and answers she’d been working on, which of course I had to read before submitting:

What do you think adults should know about social media?I think that adults should know that while there are dangers to social media, as there are in many aspects of life, that social media also has the potential to do great things. Social media allows people to support and encourage people not only in your local circle of friends and family, but people all over the world. My personal experiences with social media have been very positive. I have found role models and people who have inspired me to become a better person physically, mentally and spiritually.”

Think about things in your life that bring you joy. How do you ensure time for those people, experiences or moments? “I believe that when something or someone makes you truly happy you won’t need to find time for them – they will come to you and happen spontaneously. If you must sit down and think about how you will find a way to work something you love into your everyday life, there is a bigger issue at hand. Whether it be your schedule or the thing that you are trying to incorporate, it is a very big issue. People, experiences and special moments can’t be planned – they stay in your life and follow you throughout your journey. You will find that the people that bring you joy always manage to be a priority without even trying.  I think that’s part of what love really is – not having to think or plan when you will show appreciation or care because you already do so without thinking. And experiences? Well, I firmly believe are priceless! Be them good or bad, every experience you have teaches you things and makes you a stronger and better person. If you have a chance to experience something you should focus on that moment because you might not ever experience it ever again and you should appreciate it before it’s too late and get caught thinking, “I should have appreciated it a lot sooner,” or “Why did I not live in the moment?”

Tell a story about a time when you made a mistake or experienced failure and what you learned?I have made many mistakes and experienced many failures throughout my life. As a human, I am bound to do both repeatedly. My biggest mistake, however, was allowing all the hardships I experienced have such a negative impact on me. I have dealt with bullying and trauma for practically my whole life and let those things and people bring me down, feel worthless and lose my faith. I got to a very bad place and treated myself horribly, allowing myself to believe all that I was being told and all the bad things I thought. I let those things blind me from the fact that God made me, and He loves me no matter what anyone says or does. It took a lot of hard work to dig myself out of the dark hole I had put myself in, but I prevailed. With the help of loved ones, heroes and most importantly my God in heaven, I’ve survived. I learned that God will put things in my path to strengthen me and that when I hit a bump in the road, I keep going, because I was made to be strong and fight for who I am and what I believe no matter what. I’ve learned my value well and learned how to love people and care for them unconditionally, just like God does. Most importantly, however, I learned a lesson that many people never learn and a lesson that I believe is the most important one to learn: I learned how to love myself just as God made me and just as God loves me.”

So, ask me if I wept after reading these words? Umm, yah, have you met me? LIKE A BABY! I was so emotional in all the best ways that I had to sneak back to my room, shut the door and just sit a while to process through the flood.

THIS IS MY “WHY”? MY “REASON”? “THE ANSWER” TO MY RIDDLE! None of this has ever been about me nor will it ever be! It’s about him. And her. The fruit from my branch that will bear the legacy of strength, courage, faith and unconditional love for not only others but most importantly THEMSELVES that I hope to leave behind. It’s about living out loud in the truths I’ve learned in all the hardest ways, no matter the cost, and being the “answer” to all their riddles. It’s about leading by example until my fledgling Phoenix rises above all this darkness and never losing faith that my first born prince will eventually “fly from the inside” and get that damned black Spider-man suit off his soul once and for all just like his mother finally did. It’s about days like yesterday when I come face to face with vindication and proof that I must be doing something right and NOPE, YOU STILL CAN’T STOP THESE GIRLS!

Gia and I spent last night at a movie and dinner with her boyfriend and his little sister, both of who I adore for too many reasons to list and are also living proof of familial legacy shift forward. Their parents have become a true support to me and my daughter and the mom especially is someone who I very much admire as a woman in her own right, such that after hearing THESE words just before the movie started from her daughter (one of my besties), the victory I’d experienced earlier that day became infinitely sweeter than I could have imagined: “Miss Cat, I know I’m just a kid and everything but I hope you know that you are an inspiration to me and you are doing a really good job raising Gia. I notice things about people. You are special and you’re raising a special girl.” 

My heart is just so full today. That is all …

Sig

JANUARY 18, 2020: “JUST. GET. UP!” …

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Someone out there needs to hear these words RIGHT NOW:

“I know you’re clinging to the light of day to tell you everything’s a-okay. A medication don’t do much. Yeah, it just numbs the brain. Guess you might say I’m a little intense. I’m on the bright side of being HELL BENT! So take it from me, you’re not the only one who can’t see straight. If you were ever in doubt, don’t sell yourself short, you might be bulletproof. It’s hard to move mountains when you’re paralyzed, but you gotta try. And I’m calling out … GET UP, GET UP, GET A MOVE ON!” ~ Brent Smith (Shinedown)

If I can do this, YOU CAN DO THIS! ‘Cause if it doesn’t kill you, it really DOES make you bulletproof! I promise. “I BELIEVE YOU CAN DO MUCH BETTER! Trust me!” Much love all of you. Now then: GO ON, GET UP, and isten to one of my favorite songs EVER! ~ Cat ❤️

Sig

JANUARY 17, 2020: “When You Walk With Angels” …

Drea,sWALK WITH ANGELS

Love is alive – alive like a new born child. Love is a war – broken and running wild. Love is a thief and it’s stealing our hearts tonight. You give it to me. You’ve given me all I need. You’re all I see. You’re all I wanted to be. Can you take me with you where you walk with angels? Where you walk with angels. Love’s around you now. You walk with angels wherever you are. You walk with angels …” ~ Aaron Hendra

Last night I dreamt about Zack for what seemed like hours, one very real scene after anothe we finally got in the car to go to school she said it :: “Mom, Dad was in my dream last night.” I could have died a million deaths in that moment and actually had an adrenalin dump after she said those words! You know, that feeling you get when you hear something that knocks you over? Like you’re gonna faint, you just can’t breathe and the blood rushes out of your fingertips? It was the same exact feeling I’d felt on August 22nd at just before midnight – “that moment I felt him leave us”. The incomprehensible juxtaposition of our two dreams was absolutely earth shattering, and let me tell you why …

SHE HASN’T DREAMT OF HIM SINCE “THAT NIGHT”! Zero has she seen his face or heard his voice. He’s just. Been. GONE. So what are the chances that he would avail himself to BOTH of us on the same night in such a magnanimous way? It was no coincidence. It was him, and it was real.

Although she hasn’t told me what she dreamt about or the specifics of his presence I could see she that was even more at peace and relaxed today than her journey thus far has found her. Whatever the nature of his visit to her may have been it was clearly also very real! Eventually she’ll share it with me. She always does “tell me EVERYTHING!” I’m so beyond thankful for the powerful bond that I share with BOTH my kids in this regard. It will just have to be on her time frame and not a second sooner. It may be months or even years before she finally does, but it doesn’t matter, because she will! All I know at this moment is HE WAS HERE to finally answer my questions and let me know that he is very much still with me and NOT going anywhere.

For the record, not only did I get answers to my questions he also told me: “There’s something coming. Something soon. Something huge. Bigger than you can imagine. SOME “ONE”. You’re going to be okay. I love you Catherine. I always did and always will. I’m sorry I hurt you both … I’m sorry that I left you this way … It wasn’t about you, it was ME … but you’re doing so good and I’m SO proud of you. Just keep doing exactly what you’re doing and believe that everything is going to be okay. Better than okay. I promise.” There were also some very specific things he said about my future, all of which are now written on a piece of paper in my nightstand drawer that I will share with the small handful of people who are closest to me as a solid point of reference and accountability to their validity down the road if and when they do actually avail themselves in the manner in which he said.

So? What do any of you think? Am I just insane? Maybe I am, but hey, it is what it is. I believe in my heart that he’s still walking with me. They all are. My angels will always walk with me and their love is still very much alive. True love NEVER dies … it just “slips away into the next room” …

cassiel

Sig

JANUARY 1, 2020: “I Dare You” …

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TO THE “ME” I’M LEAVING BEHIND:

… “I DARE YOU”!

Hello! Let me introduce you to the characters in the show. One says yes, one says no. Decide – which voice in your head you can keep alive? Even in madness I know you still believe! Paint me on canvas so I become what you could never be. I dare you to tell me to walk through the fire! Wear my soul and call me a liar! I dare you to tell me to walk through the fire. I dare you to tell me. I dare you to …

Hello, are you still chasing the the memories in shadows? Some stay young, some grow old. Come alive – there are thoughts unclear you can never hide. Even in madness I know you still believe. Paint me your canvas so I become what you could never be. I dare you to tell me to walk through the fire! Wear my soul and call me a liar! I dare you to tell me to walk through the fire! I dare you to tell me. I dare you to …”

~ Shinedown

HERE’S TO ANOTHER HALF A CENTURY OF SURVIVING!

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Sig

DECEMBER 30, 2019: “Speaking Of Faith And Crowns” …

CrownIn keeping with my promise to myself and all of you I’ve been working like a madwoman since Christmas Day getting as many entries into The Diary as possible before leaving for Ireland on Friday, starting with the day I was born. After being glued to my chair for 96 straight hours with only four real breaks in between I’d made it all the way to “The Letter”, wherein I revealed what really happened that fateful Sunday in April of 2009 that finally pushed me over the edge into full blown histrionic psychosis and “The Meadows”. It was the day of my nervous breakdown!

It had been a long time since I’d read that entry, and moving the words from the manuscript to The Diary was jarring. “They literally had to peel my son from my body so that I could get into the car. He too was sobbing and I’d never seen him cry so much or so hard. And Gia? She looked so lost, like a little puppy that just wanted someone to pick her up and hold her.” As I flashed back to that day and remembered everything I saw it broke my heart all over again knowing how their hearts broke going through such trauma, at which point I became so emotional that I had to call it a night with The Diary.

Meanwhile, there’s a show I’ve been watching called “The Crown” on Netflix that chronicles the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth. With everything consuming me lately I’ve missed quite a bit so I decided to pick up where I’d left, Season 3, Episode 4, “Bubbikins”, wherein an entirely different light is shed on Prince Philip’s lifelong perception of abandonment by his mother, Princess Alice Of Battenburg, including an extremely emotional flashback of his own mother being ripped away from him and hauled off to an asylum.

The episode reveals that the real reason she was absent from his childhood was because she’d been committed to multiple psychiatric asylums in her lifetime, diagnosed with schizophrenia and subjected to a series of inhumane “treatments” for her mental illness, the worst of which was by Sigmund Freud. Ultimately, however, we find Prince Phillip visiting his mother’s room at the palace after having read what he referred to as “a love letter” about her in the paper and having clearly come to a shockingly different perspective about not only her past but their past as well. He wanted to apologize to her:

PRINCE PHILIP READING FROM THE PAPER TO HIS MOTHER: “Princess Alice is that rarest of creatures – a member of the royal family that has suffered more than the rest of us, worked harder than the rest of us and created more good than the rest of us … she was consistently misunderstood, marginalized and underestimated … but instead of bitterness Princess Alice dedicated her life to charity work, public service and campaigning for social justice often at great personal risk. I owe you an apology.”

PRINCESS ALICE: “Whatever for?”

“My faithlessness”.

“If anyone owes anyone an apology we both know it’s the other way around … when we were forced to leave Greece I couldn’t cope. I needed care. I needed help.”

“That wasn’t help that they gave you, it was torture.”

“They tried their best”

“No, the treatment they gave you was barbaric and your courage in rising above it was remarkable.”

“I didn’t do it alone. I couldn’t have. I had help every step of the way. Now Bubbikins you mentioned faithlessness. How is your faith?”

“Dormant.”

“That’s not good. Let this be a mother’s gift to her child. That one piece of advice: Find yourself a faith. It helps. No – not just helps. It’s everything.”

OH MY FATHER HOW CAN I EVER REPAY YOU? You called in my Angels again didn’t You? You love me, I know you do! What are the chances that THE next thing You needed me to see, hear and absorb last night after falling apart at this keyboard with reinstated guilt over everything I’ve put my kids through was EXACTLY what I needed to yet again remind me that in everything You have a purpose? While I’m certainly not insinuating that either I or my life are anything like Princess Alice’s, I know You had that entire series of events lined up JUST FOR ME! You were sending me a message: “HAVE FAITH MY CHILD. You’re going to be okay. They’re going to be okay. Someday they will understand.” To which my reply and the only way I can repay You is: I’m NOT doing this alone. I can’t. I have help every step of the way. So I’ll keep standing strong in my faith. It doesn’t just help – IT’S EVERYTHING!

Make it a great day everyone, and if you ever get a chance to watch that episode on Netflix, DO! I promise you won’t regret it!

Sig

 

DECEMBER 26, 2019: “Hey, Mother, Father” …

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MOTHER, FATHER

“She sits alone, an empty stare. A mother’s face she wears. Where did she go wrong? The fight is gone. Lord help this broken home. Hey, mother, father, sister Hey, come back, tryin’, believin’. Hey, mother, father, dreamer. Don’t you know that I’m alive for you? I’m your seventh son. And when lightning strikes the family. Have faith, believe. With dreams he tried. Lost his pride. He drinks his life away. One photograph in broken glass. It should not end this way. Hey, mother, father, sister. Hey, come back, tryin’, believin’. Hey, mother, father, dreamer. Don’t you know that I’m alive for you? I’m your seventh son. And when lightning strikes the family. Have faith, believe. Through bitter tears and wounded years those ties of blood were strong.So much to say. Those yesterdays. So now don’t you turn away Have faith. Belive. Believe.”

~ Journey

Sig

DECEMBER 25, 2019: “Starting Over As A Queen” …

IMG_8199… IT’S TIME TO JUST START OVER!

Someday soon, I’m gonna pull myself together. Win or lose, I’m starting over again. Start this day like any other day. I fold my hands as I begin to pray. Sometimes we gotta throw the past aside, and come what may, I’m gonna open up my eyes to all my broken feelings. It’s the only road I’ve known. I just wanna say to you: Maybe I won’t feel the pain when you leave me one day, and maybe it won’t be too late when you need me someday. Someone take me away from the one who betrays, but things won’t ever be the same. I’m starting over. In days gone by, I was hiding from myself. In all those lies and the truth was hard to tell. But I will try to turn my life around. I’ll close my eyes so I can finally see the road to all my broken feelings. It’s the only one I’ve known. I just wanna say to you … You were my heart, you were my soul. You were my breath ’til I grow old. You were my blood, you were my bones. How could you ever leave me cold?” ~ Saliva

So here’s my parting message to all the people, places and roadblocks that had become me in the four decades of life before finally opening my eyes to all my “broken feelings” and finding the truths behind the lies that were my former realities. This is my Christmas gift to me …

Music has played a powerful part in my mental health journey, just as I’m sure it has for many of you. Here in The Diary there is a song for every entry, the words to which are as important to me as the words I offer of my own. Zack and I first heard “Starting Over” in 2007 while we were in the car and it immediately became as vital in unraveling the mystery of what had broken us before we’d met than actually meeting in the first place. It spoke volumes as to both our prior journeys; it was who we were, where we’d been and why we needed to cut some people out and “just start over”. It was a cryptic message to everyone that had hurt, betrayed or discarded us at virtually every critical juncture in our lives, not the least of which were both our families: “You were my blood, you were my bones. How could you ever leave me cold?” 

Today I’ll be spending another “first” without him, completely severed from the blood and bones that have once again “washed their hands of me”. But guess what? That’s okay! I WAS MARRIED TO A KING: An imperfect, broken, mortal king with a rare and true heart of gold who not only gave me every “thing” a woman could dream of but more so his heart, his eyes, his soul, his faith and his unconditional love WITHOUT conditions for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, all of which DID truly make me a QUEEN! And you can apply those words to him as well: HE WAS MARRIED TO A QUEEN: An imperfect, broken, mortal queen with a rare and true heart of gold who not only gave him every “thing” a man could dream of but more so her heart, her eyes, her soul, her faith and her unconditional love WITHOUT conditions for the FIRST TIME IN HIS LIFE, all of which DID truly make him a KING! Quite clearly my king fell in a twist that some may never know or understand AND HURT US IN UNSPEAKABLE WAYS! But guess what? Today IS Christmas and “who was better at forgiving than Jesus?” By now you know that I have indeed forgiven him for the devastation that has ended our story, but here’s what else …

I ALSO FORGIVE ALL OF YOU … that hurt, mocked, laughed at, punished, or burned me alive on a cross every time I let you down, embarrassed, disgusted, disgraced you or shamed your reputations and good names every time I failed miserably at all the things I’ve failed at! I forgive you for invalidating, disregarding, disrespecting and discrediting every single one of my broken feelings by casting them aside as “drama, immaturity, ingratitude or self-pity”. I forgive you for taking the blind faith and trust I placed in you with all my vulnerabilities and truths and throwing them back in my face and driving more nails into my already broken heart. I forgive you for taking it personally when I had to make the decision to try and break the cycle of toxicity I once lived in and fight tooth and nail TO GET THAT FUCKING BLACK SPIDER-MAN SUIT I’D BEEN WEARING SINCE THE DAY I WAS BORN OFF MY WEAK AND WEARY SOUL ONCE AND FOR ALL SO THAT MAYBE ONE DAY MY DAUGHTER’S DAUGHTERS OR MY SON’S SONS WILL BE THE FIRST BRANCHES FROM THIS SICK AND DYING TREE TO NOT END UP IN A PYSCHIATRIAC WARD BECAUSE THEY TOO WANTED TO SHOOT THEMSELVES IN THE HEAD! I forgive you for only loving “when I was good enough” but “washing your hands of me” every time I’d broken the rules you somehow decided would be best for me to follow, which PS, were complete and total double standards of BULLSHIT and also just sick, enmeshed and unhealthy! (NOTE: As it turns out, it’s OKAY for a person to choose a path outside the web if not sometimes THE best thing that ever happens to them. The WISEST spiders are the ones SO PROUD of their spiderlings that somehow manage to get the HELL out the webs they might have unintentionally spun and find a way to survive this fucking life in peace! IN SHORT: I forgive you for NOT forgiving me for just being an imperfect fucking human being and I forgive you for all the countless times you’ve abandoned me!

But more than that? THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING YOU’VE DONE TO HURT ME BECAUSE THAT IS HOW I BECAME A QUEEN! You pointed me straight to BOTH my Kings – The One born today and the fallen. You see, he may be gone now but I’m still right here with the crown and sword he left for me charging bravely forward all the days I have left in this realm! There is still so much I have to do with this power my impossibly strong heart now wields. There’s the Phoenix I made who I’ll fight beside until the end as she makes her ascenion towards the culmination of everything my own broken flight was purposed for, and that first born Prince who hasn’t yet realized that he too is a king because he hasn’t yet found the strength to tear off the BLACK SPIDER-MAN SUIT that shrouds his soul in in the dark! He’s “trapped in a web” wherein he has still yet to realize the long-terms effects of the emotional abuse he too is still succumbing to and that being repeatedly being told “I’m done with you” for failure to follow the rules is slowly becoming the death of him too. I will not rest until that day comes when he finally opens HIS OWN EYES to his own broken heart and feelings and “walks away and starts over” with the courage and strength that’s hiding somewhere within himself so that the next time he hears “I’m done with you” he can say, “NO! It’s ME that’s done with YOU!” Just. Like. I DID!

If I’ve learned anything in my first fifty years it’s that “real love” shouldn’t cost you anything yet it’s the only commodity that can get you EVERYTHING! Love shouldn’t come with strings or conditions, make you sad, cry, doubt yourself, want to shoot yourself or make you want to hide in the shadows of any authentic version of yourself because the people who “love you” won’t accept you at face value. And here’s the thing: Once you’ve had finally had it – “REAL love without strings and conditions”? YOU CAN NEVER ACCEPT “LOVE” ANY OTHER WAY, EVEN IF IT MEANS BEING ALONE!

Merry Christmas Catherine Williamson! You’ve been blessed by the REAL unconditional loved of two Kings in your lifetime. There’s no going back to where you came from as you find a way to just start over once again!

Sig

DECEMBER 22, 2019: “How To Re-Traumatize A Widow” …

BoundariesI struggled this morning as to what if anything to say about “the very first social event without my husband” last night because honestly, I am just so overwhelmed and TRAUMATIZED all over again! So perhaps I’ll just lead with some friendly advice for anyone out there who unbeknownst to them struggles with “unhealthy boundaries” …

To begin, here is what Wikia.org says about “personal boundaries” (and please DO click on this link THIS VERY IMPORTANT LINK for more information when you are either extremely bored OR extremely ready to conduct a quick self-examination as to where you are on the boundaries spectrum):

“Personal boundaries are an aspect of psychological boundaries and are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for him- or herself what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around him or her and how he or she will respond when someone steps outside those limits. “Personal boundaries” define you as an individual. They are statements of what you will or won’t do, what you like and don’t like … how close someone can get to you.”

One last advice I’d like to offer against what again I’m sure are seemingly innocent comments and remarks from well-intended people. I appreciate being told “I’m so beautiful”. Truly, I do, and I’m not trying to sound like a self-inflated ass, but I am in fact aware of “how I look” and yes, I agree, I am clearly not unfortunate looking. I comfortable writing those words out loud here now in this space because only I know how long it finally took me to find my actual reflection in a mirror! It took a hell of a lot of work on behalf less than a handful of people to get me to finally “see me” the way other people see me on the outside. Eternal is the gratitude for my very firstAngel from Flight 438“, because all “this” started with him! Then Zack picked up where he left off and I will NEVER forget that day in his apartment he grabbed me by the arms and physically forced me in front of the mirror while he stood behind me repeating: “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! LOOK AT YOURSELF CATHERINE, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! SAY IT! I’M NOT LETTING YOU GO UNTIL YOU SAY IT!” And then I did, and here I am. Yes, I am beautiful. The irony here is the first time Zack ever saw me in January of 2009 my presentation was “yah, not so much”. If he were still here he’d be the first to admit that I looked like a freaking train wreck. I was in the worst shape of my life, hadn’t been sleeping, was physically disfigured in the most egregious way, and about five minutes away from my final nervous break down. He used to say, “Every time she showed up at the gym she looked kind of like a homeless person”.  So trust me when I tell you – our love story did NOT begin with “wow you’re just so beautiful”. He loved me as I was, scars and all, for the very first time in my life, and for that precious reason my fallen King’s mirror of not only my reflection but most importantly my soul will always be the standard by which I judge anyone’s regard for my “beauty”.

There is probably not a human being on the face of this planet that doesn’t appreciate verbal affirmation from others, and yes, compliments in the right dose are an integral part of how our confidence is assimilated. But over and over and over again? “You’re so pretty. You’re so beautiful. You are such an attractive person.” Okay, so tell me once and that’s it! Anything more is not only overkill, but moreso the polar OPPOSITE of what has ever attracted me to a man. Observations, judgments and validations about “my surface” in my life before Zack were more than half of what made me sick in the very first place and nope I don’t care if someone thinks I’m beautiful (at least not on the outside). Quite frankly? THAT REPELS ME! Yes, this is a boundary issue with not only me but quite possibly many struggling people out there. Such an OLD cliche’ but true nonetheless: DON’T JUDGE THE BOOK BY IT’S COVER!

Well this was a long post. I apologize. Actually, nope again, I don’t. These things needed to be said and now that I’ve said them I feel much better. Guess I just needed to remind myself about the boundaries I’ve fought so hard to understand, respect and build in the first place. So with that I guess I’ll just have to find a way to be thankful for my re-traumitization last night. It was a lesson for me, for sure, and now maybe a lesson for some of you. There is indeed a time and place for everything – EVEN CONVERSATIONS ABOUT GRIEF! If you know someone has been through a trauma of any kind and you want to talk to them about it, just ask them first if they want to talk about it. They may want to. They may not. The choice should be theirs though, not yours.

Cat Signature

DECEMBER 20, 2019: “We Survive With Hope” …

CONVERSATION WITH MY DAUGHTER AT SCHOOL PICK UP YESTERDAY:

GIA: Mom, would there be any way we could go to the store after I get out of group tonight and grab a few things so I can put some Christmas bags together for my Hope kids? If your tired I promise I will do all the work and I can even pay for it myself. All I need you to do is drive me to the store and I can take it from there.

ME (HEART MELTING): Ummm, daughter? I think you just gave me the greatest Christmas gift I never knew I needed.

Not even broken wings will stop my little Phoenix from rising so far above this mire! After everything this child has been through (some of which most of you will NEVER know)? She has her mother’s heart, soul, spirit and courage, only, just so much more – BETTER! I am an SUCH an incredibly lucky woman to get to be the one who claims the honor: “Look at what I’ve done … this light I’ve created unto a very dark world.”

YOU CAN’T STOP MY GIRL!

Sig

DECEMBER 20, 2019: “Because Queens Get Flowers” …

IMG_8068Yesterday morning while arranging my weekly flowers I found myself smiling from ear to ear as I looked up and said, “Well, you did say you never wanted a day to go by that there weren’t fresh flowers somewhere in the house for me, right? Just because your gone doesn’t mean there won’t still be flowers in this house for me always. Not only would you hate that, but as it happens I’m STILL a queen after all has been said and done and I DESERVE THEM! Then I just kept primping them in my favorite container, with nothing but joy in my heart, all the while thanking GOD for the real life Superman he sent to me if only just for a season to once and finally remind me that I am worthy of all the most beautiful things in this world, not the least of which are any and all kindnesses, no matter how simple or grand, that I so choose to bestow upon myself for all the remaining days of my life. I will treat myself how I wish to be treated by others while I continue to survive in this realm: WITH KINDESS!

I have always loved flowers, and despite the outward appearance and accoutrements of my life I am not a person whose affection can be bought. Quite the contrary actually, and some day when you REALLY get to know me  you will understand exactly why. QUICK DIGRESSION: In my lifetime I have had many “things” and enjoyed many material luxuries and comforts, none of which however prevented me from reaching a point in my own journey where the toxic web I was born into and then perpetuated in both marriages to my first husband literally almost cost me my life, did momentarily slay my mental well-being and yah, at a few junctures made me literally just want to DIE. SEE ALSO: “Girl Interrupted” – The Uncut Version. (PS. Yes, that’s right my little blonde nurse friend, you can’t hang THAT ONE over my head anymore! See you next Tuesday! OOPS, I digressed again!) The very last and tragic farewell at my ex’s 12 years ago found me barely functioning, mentally WHACKED and seriously not okay! The first of my “castles” left so far behind with only not even a shred of anything that closely resembled sanity, my daughter and what personal belongings I could fit into my car. ZERO “STUFF” DID I WANT FROM HIM! I JUST WANTED OUT!

THE POINT OF ALL THIS BEING: Of all the beautify flowers I’ve ever been given from “both my husbands” in my lifetime it turns out it was actually the less expensive, store bought ones from Zack that I cherished and remember the most. The ones he often had to go truly out of his way to bring to me depending on where in the world he was working at the time. Anyone “married to new home sales” knows what I am saying here: That career path is not for the faint of heart! “To whom much is given” is the mindset you must embrace, as for all the abundance there’s a cost, even when it comes to something as “easy” as picking up flowers for your wife. The subdivisions he worked were often so far off the beaten path and not at all convenient to anything remotely close to “let me just stop in for a minute and get her some flowers”. Not to mention the fact that by the time he locked those model home doors every night ALL HE WANTED TO DO WAS COME HOME! So indeed, every time that man walked in the door with flowers in his hand I knew in my heart what they’d truly “cost” him: Time, energy, effort and thought. Those are things that no man’s money will EVER be able to buy me. Trust me. Been there. Done that. Got the medal AND the scars from that competition AND NOW I’M JUST SO OVER IT!

So with that, I am thankful again this morning for the many gifts he left behind for me. My “Superman” may have fallen with a bloodied, torn and TWISTED CAPE around his neck, but trust me when I tell you, he hasn’t left my astmosphere, nor will he ever! He refused to let me see anything but the best things in myself and I refuse to EVER creep back to that shadow I once lived in where I was only ever as good as as how the other SICK AND TOXIC PEOPLE in my life up to that point decided to judge me. No more shame in this game! I AM A QUEEN :: Beautiful. Disasterous. Broken. Whole. Strong. Fierce. Smart. Funny. Capable. Ridiculous. Chaotic. COHERENT AND AWARE OF THE REFLECTION OF MYSELF I FOUND IN THE MIRROR OF HIS EYES FOR THE LAST ELEVEN YEARS! Guess what?  YOU CAN’T STOP THIS GIRL EITHER!

If you are reading this today, I would like to pose a challenge:

Is there someone special in your life? TAKE AN EXTRA 20 MINUTES TODAY AND GET THEM SOME FLOWERS! And remember, they don’t have to be expensive. If your beloved is worth any of your time, thought and attention they will appreciate the gesture for all the right reasons just as I did all the times Zack brought them to me.

If you don’t have someone special in your life? TAKE AN EXTRA 20 MINUTES TODAY AND GET YOURSELF SOME FLOWERS! You. Are. A Queen, or maybe even a King, and you can be your OWN superhero! Having a healthy, loving, forgiving and unconditional “relationship” with YOU is the first step to becoming your own “superhero” in the first place! Life is hard sometimes people. “Getting yourself some flowers” is a simple kindess you can bestow upon yourself because YOU DESERVE IT AND YOU CAN!

Much love to all you! ~ Cat

IMG_8067

AMARYLLIS

“In a while now I will feel better, I’ll face the weather before me. In a while now I’ll race the irony and buy back each word of my eulogy. All the uninvited tragedies. Step outside. Ask yourself now where would you be without days like this when you finally collide with the moment you cant forget. So do I remind you of someone you never met? A lonely silhouette? And do I remind you of somewhere you wanna be? So far out of reach. Oh, I wish you’d open up for me ’cause I wanna know you. Amaryllis. Bloom. Stay a while now. Undress your colors ’cause they’re like no others I’ve ever seen.I could get used to your company. Step inside. Ask yourself now where would you be withoutdays like this when you finally collide with emotions you can’t resist?” – Shinedown

NOTE: This was a particularly special song to Zack and me because when we met we were BOTH an “Amaryllis”!

Sig

DECEMBER 16, 2016: “Born To Battle” …

IMG_8008{Artwork by The Phoenix Collaborative}

BORN TO BATTLE

A blazing flame slowly dies in a night as cold as snow. From the ashes a Phoenix will rise – it will spread it’s wings and blaze again and the world will watch in terror.

A tree stands tall, unshakeable in disaster, with leaves that feed and a trunk that houses things that are large and small, from the lions resting in it’s leaves to the mice that every bird is after, and thorns that wrap around this tree as it loves and must protect it all. The tree that has been through storm and fire will watch as it stops danger in his tracks and fill the forest with powerful laughter.

A tidal wave races to land as anger from the broken earth surges through the city in it’s wake. Salty water fills what once was home to a beach pristine with it’s white sand. Concrete jungle, horrible and strong, your walls are beginning to break. The creatures that destroy it’s castle are now drowning in it’s tears. Water will heal if you show it respect, but woe it brings in oppression.

A wind from four corners will push on still – tornadoes and hurricanes do not stop for lesser things. You can track and prepare but you cannot break it’s unstoppable iron will. Yet only days before, a soft breeze gently embraced the leaves and refuse from the Sun’s sting. It is no fault but their own, taking for granted and taking advantage of something they do not know – of something they will fail to control. So the wind sounds a warning of a storm on the roll.

A roar charges through a burning world as a warrior departs. The pounding of horses running and the power of thunder rumbling. Rubber on asphalt spins and burns as those four doors carry weary hearts, heavy. Hearts that move, hearts that love and hearts that have been through too much. This world hurts what is afraid of, yet the strong ones have made struggle an art. So, bring on what you have – just try and stop them. When you push them they will be ready!

~ Gia Embach

Giaa

phEONIX

Sig