MARCH 25, 2021: “86,400” …

PROJECT “FAMILY DINNER”?

SUCCESS!

This Cosmos and its Creator are so beyond good to me in every way, shape and form, and I cannot say it enough. This was the last thing I needed to rectify within my formerly “broken heart” so that when it’s my time to touch The Brighter Side Of Grey, I will do so with my soul completely healed and whole. From this point forward, it’s just a very GREY “86,400 seconds a day” for as many spins around the Sun I get to make just shining my Light in all this DARK.

TO ANYONE READING THIS WHO IS AT ODDS WITH YOURSELF OR “YOUR PEOPLE”:

It’s never to late to start again! Indeed it is true that forgiveness is for us, but the TRUEST power and grace are found in the forgiveness we extend to others.

“Hurt people” HURT people.

“Healed healed” HEAL people.

While no one REALLY knows what the end game here really is, I’m pretty dam sure that FORGIVENESS is the answer to the greatest cosmic mystery of all — “WHY ARE WE EVEN HERE?” You will never understand how much NONE OF US really deserves to be forgiven for ANY of the shit we manage to do until you’ve had to learn about it the way I have. I am here to tell you it’s EVERYTHING! Wherever you are on this globe right now, take a good look around at everything you see. IT COULD ALL BE GONE TOMORROW! Choose your battles well, and spend those seconds wisely, so that if you have to leave tomorrow, you’ll leave in “PEACE” … not “PIECES”!

MARCH 10, 2021: “My Grey-Aversary” …

On a beautiful Tuesday afternoon one year ago today, “the music wheel of destiny” stopped my world, and my heart, and sent me straight into the breakdown lane of one of the busiest expressways in Dallas so that I could literally cry my fucking eyes out. It was as if Zack were singing these most beautifully haunting words himself to me, my daughter, and my son in a message straight from “The Brighter Side Of Grey“, where in our hearts we KNOW he finally is. If you haven’t ever heard this song yet, I cannot urge you enough to do so, especially if you are at odds with yourself over the “legacy” you are going to be leaving behind for your own children and loved ones.

Today I will celebrate!

Today I will be thankful!

Today I will stay “grey”, just like the sky in Dallas as I write this, because if I’ve learned anything in my “fifty-ONE-derful” years, it’s that life really ISN’T a game, it’s a song. and I intend to enjoy every single chord until I reach The Brighter Side of every fucked up, twisted moment of my insanely beautiful life.

COVID literally crashed our 5FDP concert last year, Gia still hasn’t read the letter he wrote before he left. She knows the song exists, but isn’t allowed to listen to it until she can first hear Ivan singing it to her live. THAT will be the night she gets the words he wrote “in case he was gone tomorrow”. Make it a powerful day, and PLEASE listen to this song. It may just change the trajectory of your legacy and how you look at “grey”.

FEBRUARY 3, 2021: “F8” …

FATE …

As defined by Merrium-Webster:

… the will or principle or determining cause by which things in general are believed to come to be as they are or events to happen as they do …

… and also …

Traditional usage defines fate as a power or agency that predetermines and orders the course of events. Fate defines events as ordered or “inevitable” and unavoidable. This is a concept based on the belief that there is a fixed natural order to the universe, and in some conceptions, the cosmos.

But here’s the deal …

Life isn’t one solid picture, and it doesn’t come wrapped in a bow. So why do we even need to define it? Fate. Destiny. Any of it? Why do we insist that everything show up for us in perfect order? If I’ve learned anything by now, it’s that the only semblance of “order” I can count on is – OH, that’s right – there isn’t one! So, I just let all the pieces show up in their perfect cosmic timing and let them fall in place. The “big picture” you see above is actually a screenshot of my Instagram, where I dropped nine separate pieces of my favorite album of all times. You know, the one with The Brighter Side Of Grey. I asked my followers to back out of the post to see “F8” in the bigger picture.

Sometimes in order to really see something “bigger”, you have to step back and see it “smaller”. Life is but a mosaic of random and senseless things that somehow come together at the end just the way they were supposed to. So, try to stop worrying, always do your best, and let your mosaic reveal itself at it’s own due pace and time. Fate is what is happening as you are being shattered then put back together as a masterpiece of heartache, love and Light.

JANUARY 9, 2021: “Drinking Straw Parasites” …

AND NOW …

A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR:

Just thought I’d share this lovely PSA for your reading enjoyment! Are YOU letting parasites drink from YOUR straws?

GOOD GRIEF, I truly hope not! As for me, I stopped handing out my straws so freely a few years ago. It wasn’t immediate, of course, but rather, quite the arduous and painful process. Setting boundaries was extremely difficult, because I’M AN EMPATH, and despite what some may choose to believe, I don’t take pleasure from either hurting people or seeing them hurt. So, the “Hi everyone, IT’S ME CAT! Here you go, take one of my straws” days are OVER! There was a time not too long ago that I didn’t even realize how valuable my straws were, so I’d hand them out to practically anyone.

That was then!

This is now!

These days it seems I’ve become an absolute raving biotch, and in some regards I suppose it’s true. It just depends on who’s watching me “hoard my straws”! I’ve said it before … and I’ll say it again …

I’M AN ACTUAL QUEEN,

AND QUEENS DON’T TAKE EVEN NOMINAL AMOUNTS OF SHIT FROM ANYONE!

These days, I’ll only “really give” what I actually get, because my time, effort, attention and energy are some of the most precious commodities a VERY LUCKY human being could possibly get! My “straws” are reserved for ONLY other kings and queens and that’s just how it is.

“HI EVERYONE, IT’S ME, CAT! I’M THE NICEST DAMN BIOTCH YOU’LL EVER WANNA KNOW AND MY STRAWS ARE EFFING PRICELESS!”

Now then, please do enjoy this all too fitting drinking straw parasite serenade from perhaps my favorite “don’t you DARE take shit from ANYONE” sponsors of all … the one … the only … THE GHOST … THE IVAN!

DECEMBER 24, 2020: “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas” …

… and all through the land, every creature was patiently awaiting the band …

A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS TO MY AMAZING KNUCKLEHEAD FAMILY AROUND THE GLOBE … not the least of which is Ivan Moody, Chris Kael, Zoltan Bathory, Charlie Engen and Andy James. 2020 wasn’t half as bad as I suppose it could have been because of all of you! Wishing you all so much love and a POWERFUL 2021!

NOVEMBER 25, 2020: “Will The Sun Rise?”…

PERSPECTIVE.

After a deep and meaningful heartfelt intersection with my MUSE last night, or rather should I say, “a 4am meeting of the masterminds” (because after all, isn’t “4am when most masterminds do their best work), I’ve decided this needs to be said …

This song? It’s a favorite of mine! I still love Dokken very, very much, and still listen to them ALL the time. (“Under Lock And Key” is one of my lifetime favorite albums.)

“Will The Sun Rise?”

As I told my muse, the meaning of this song used to go RIGHT over my hairspray encrusted head. But now when I hear it, it wants to make me sad. I’m a grown up now. I’m a mother now. If I’m lucky? I’LL BE A GRANDMA ONE DAY … a “Crazy Grandma Cat“! These days we are living in, where it seems that Atlas really is falling?

The contemplation of “the Sun rising of it all” does tend to give cause for a fair amount of panic. But then I stop and think for a minute about everything I know to be true, and my perspective instantly shifts!

“Will the Sun rise? Yes! It will! I’ve “gotten to learn this” the very beautifully hard way. The lights go on. Then they go off. The dark of night comes. Then so does the Sun, to reveal the Brighter Side Of Grey.

Meanwhile …

Now is the time to share this song with your still impressionable teen. Have them listen and tell you how it makes them feel. The words to this beautiful, 35 year old melody have never been more relevant, and sharing them with a young person in your atmosphere could be a great opportunity to start a “music therapy conversation“.

I’m STILL the most blessed woman that I know!

If you look closely at the image on which I’ve put the lyrics to this song, you will see that it’s the “negative perspective” of a sketch I made from my father’s cigarette ashes years ago. But look below now to my “brighter side perspective” today. It’s my truth in my grey and it’s EVERYTHING! And, with that, I once again leave you with this …

NOVEMBER 1, 2020: “Crossing Over” …

CROSSING OVER

All perched alone he sits there broken. An eldered man with storm clouds setting in his eyes. He counts the sands of time – remembering day’s gone by. It seemed like yesterday before it washed away. Hey, don’t wait for me there – just find your own way. Hey, don’t wait for me there – ’cause I’ll be there soon enough. The widow’s life ticks out like clockwork. A thousand tears she’s cried a hundred time’s before. But now that he is gone, she’s ready to move on. It all just fell away – it seems like yesterday. {Five Finger Death Punch}

Some days I rise with all the words I need to say just pouring out of my soul, and often it’s because of a dream. Like today, which would have been our 10th wedding anniversary. It’s been just over a year of bittersweet healing on this road I never planned to travel, and though I knew it was fast approaching, I also knew it would be a major turning point in my final ascent out of the darkness and into The Light. So, with that, let me tell you how my beautifully shattered life works

To begin, indeed I dreamt last night, but not before closing my eyes to the sound of the Halloween shenanigans of my daughter and her crew. (PS) Did I ever tell you that the one design flaw with Williamson Manor is that her theatre room and living area are directly above the master? Yup! They are! As it turns out, however, it’s not a flaw at all! Believe it or not, especially in this last 438 days, those echoes of stomping, laughing and chaos into the wee hours of so many nights are a lullaby to me. It’s why he built this home “from the ground up” and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Knowing she’s here, and happy, safe and whole, is one of the truths that comforts me the most. But damnit, I’ve digressed!

Where was I? Oh yes … my dream! I was front row center at a Five Finger Death Punch show, but instead of a mainstream concert venue, it was a very intimate gathering where Ivan was singing to me:

The widow’s life ticks out like clockwork … a thousand tears she’s cried a hundred times before. But now that he is gone, she’s ready to move on …

As he was singing he reached out his hand and a tear rolled down his cheek. But it wasn’t Ivan’s face! It was Zack’s face, on Ivan’s body, holding that legendary, spike-encrusted mic stand in one hand while reaching out the other to me like a muse. It was the most beautiful insanity imaginable! In the dream, I was thinking, “This means something. What does this mean?” Then I woke up and I knew.

In order to fully appreciate where I’m going with this, you must understand that I am led solely by intuition and feelings. Call me spiritualist. Call me a “good witch”. Call me whatever the hell you want. It’s my truth just the same and it’s never gonna change!

In every thing there is a meaning, in every moment a message, and something means everything, even if it’s nothing!

This is what I believe! Am I crazy? Out of touch? Insane? Delusional? Perhaps! But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter, and let me tell you why: What if I’m RIGHT? What if it’s true? What if the Cosmos really is trying to speak to me. What if it really is him “communicating with us” through the fog and the crows and the lights in our bathroom? That, my friends, is the “crazy” blind faith that costs me nothing but gains me everything. Sooner or later I too will cross over, and either I’m right or I am wrong. Meanwhile, directly after waking this morning from that most ethereal dream, this was at the foot of my bed. It’s nothing, really. Nothing at all. Just one of the girls’ bracelets that either Good Cat or Bad Cat must have found and deposited at the exact spot my foot was supposed to hit the ground. “C’mon Cat, it’s just a bracelet.” Well duh, I already know that! But why did it show up in the endless twist of “F8” this way? Hmmmm. I think I kinda know …

IN CLOSING …

Ten years ago I kissed a frog who turned into a king. Five years ago today that same king turned me into a princess. Last night I had a dream, then woke up “on the edge of eternity”, at which point I was then was reminded of the pure and endless joy he brought into my life that I get to keep until it’s my time to touch The Brighter Side Of Grey. In the meantime, today marks the day. It’s time for me to move on, whatever that actually means, and I’ve asked God to show me what’s next. Sufficed to say, my heart is completely open to anything and everything … but this is the beautiful picture of the me I’m always going to be … thanks to him …

Happy Anniversary Williamson!

I don’t mind you hanging with us as long as you feel it’s necessary, but hey – don’t wait for me here. I’ll be there soon enough.

AUGUST 31, 2020: “The Tragic Truth Revisted” …

This was a super early morning for us as we awoke to a 4:30am alarm for a 5:00am departure to her 5:30am volleyball practice. While Gia was getting ready, I popped on to Instagram to find the picture above posted by a musician I’ve been following who I very much admire and consider a friend. His name is Angel, he’s a pirate of sorts, and an interesting character to say the least. His “Diary Of An Outlaw” and “The Diary Of My Perfection” were meant to cosmically collide, as more so than anything he too is a recent widow who seems to be hell bent on rising above his past and meeting each day of the rest of his life with a headstrong lust for spreading Light and Love into the darkness. Every one of his posts has resonated with me deeply.

His post this day hit me like bricks, as I had just spent an enchanted slumber with my husband conveying a message to me in the MOST surreal way. It was him, I just know it! I could smell his skin, sense his touch, and feel his breathe on my neck. And while I won’t go into detail, because believe it or not there are still so many things I keep tucked inside the most private places of my heart, what I will say is that he was shadowing me during a move. By the end of the dream we were tightly embraced and I asked him “that most important question”. I didn’t hear his voice, as he never said a word, but indeed he answered by grabbing my hand and squeezing it:

I know where you are. I believe it in my heart. But I just need to hear you say it. Am I right? Are you There now? WILL I SEE YOU AGAIN SOMEDAY?

His reply? One squeeze for yes” as requested!

As this first year without him has all but flown by I’ve made absolute peace with his suicide. The heartbreaking pain of his many tragic truths was so far beyond sobering it still reduces me to tears when I think of it, and trust me when I tell you, he too remembered everything! I’ve said it before and will say it again; Unless you’ve born the cross of seeing a person dying out loud in such an egregious way, you couldn’t possibly understand the magnitude of relief you feel upon the release of their mortal shackles. He held on for dear life as long as he possibly could until the day he died, but when the end of his darkness finally settled in, Fate delivered the last, cruel blow.

but I’ve digressed … AGAIN …

Let’s go back to how my morning with Gia started. We backed out of the garage to find ourselves greeted by a bright orange moon on fire and ethereal setting in the field that meets the end of our driveway. We were in such deep tangent it was alarming, but comforting just the same. The intrinsic conversation that began tapped directly into our like understandings of “all of this” far beyond our simply dimensioned minds have yet to fathom. “She knows what I know”“I know what she knows”and that is all EITHER of us needs to know! It’s just … POWERFUL! Not to mention the fact that the first song that cued up when the engine started was “Remember Everything“. That meant something! Exactly what? I wasn’t sure. But sufficed to say that neither of us can listen to it now without being ever so painfully reminded of everything we remember about not just our own lives, but Zack’s and Christian’s as well.

But here’s where things get really interesting …

After I dropped her off and headed back home, “that other song” I love to hate so much found it’s way to my speakers (which of course was no mystery since it’s from the same album as “Remember Everything”) …

The Tragic Truth.

Wait! What just happened? It didn’t make me cry this time! Instead, I smiled peacefully as I rolled on down the road with my gaze fixed hard into the sky from which I heard his voice serenading me with those tragically truthful words:

It’s the demons I’ve created for myself … the Tragic Truth … it’s hard for me to understand myself, so it has to be hard as hell for you.

All I can tell you is that my intersection with the Cosmos this morning was EVERYTHING to me. Even as I write this I’m smiling again, because while on the surface it may appear that the demons that devoured him won, nothing could be further from the truth.

The rare few of us who knew him best and were honored to both love and be loved by him know a “truth” that’s beautiful: He’s Home now! I just know it. No more heartache. No more sorrow. No more pain. No more tears. No more longing for the mother, father, brothers and sister who abandoned the “trash can boy”.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again … my “circadian life” is so much bigger than even I will ever know and my adventure still isn’t over!

AUGUST 10, 2020: “A Tree For All Seasons” …

NBKB0485

DEAR CAT:

Let me remind you of the words to that song he would sing to you:

“There’s a light in you that tears me down to nothing. There’s an angel in your eyes. There’s a hope inside that you can make it better. You see right through my disguise. When it rains it pours, and everybody stumbles. I won’t let them bring you down. I won’t let you down when the seasons change. I won’t go down. I’ll fight through the pain. I’ll be there right by your side. I’ll never let them bring you down when the seasons change. There’s a hope in me that I will die for something. Was the fire in my eyes? All this pain inside. Will it be this way forever? I can run but I can’t hide. When it rains it pours, and everybody stumbles. I won’t let them bring you down. When the seasons change and we’re in for colder weather look for me on The Divide. {Five Finger Death Punch}

You see? None of this is about you.

It has NEVER been about you.

IT’S ABOUT THEM!

Not just your babies …

… all the lives you’ll have touched before your time is done … if only for a season.

Your greatest treasure and greatest triumph are in knowing just how insignificant you really are in the bigger scheme of things.

Your “valuelessness” is your greatest value!

Your “powerlessness” is your greatest power!

YOU ARE REACHING NIRVANA!

You are EVERYTHING!

Because you are NOTHING!

You’re NOTHING but a pebble, to be dropped into your ocean, making ripples and waves of outward change for everyone whose path you cross on your journey.

Your purpose is to keep working the roots of this new and healthy family tree you’re now growing — free from the black toxicity that suffocated and broke all the branches of the tree that we came from.

KEEP CHANGING THE STORY!

THE BUCK STOPS WITH YOU!

Your children’s children may never get to meet you, their “Crazy Grandma Cat“, but your legacy will live on through them! HIS legacy will live on through all of you!

Keep working.

Keep sowing.  

You’re doing a good job.

… and (PS) …

I love you! We got this! I WON’T LET YOU DOWN AS THE SEASONS CHANGE!

~ Me

img_2468

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

IMG_4785

WAS IT FATE? OR DESTINY?

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

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

!!! PLEASE !!!

Wherever you are …

Whatever you are doing …

Take a good look around you NOW!

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

ESPECIALLY NOW DURING THESE TURBULENT TIMES!

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

!!! PAY ATTENTION !!!

Eyes wide open!

Take nothing and no one for granted …

NOT EVEN THE “HAPPY FACES” YOU SEE!

Be mindful always!

You just never know!

For the record, this post wasn’t meant to make you sad. It was meant to make you MINDFUL of others … and more so that everything isn’t always what it seems. I am going to do everything I can to stay peaceful, joyful, and hopeful today and keep my feet on the ground, BECAUSE … I CAN! While “August 8, 2019” is indeed a huge part of “my story”, it doesn’t mean I can’t let it play out for the better. This fucked up, fate-filled day in will NOT have been in vain and will not define me as a victim. I am choosing to do something else with it. I am choosing to spin it as “Destiny” … NOT “FATE”!

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

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

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

IMG_2912

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

… {PS} …

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

THIS IS ME: “A Little Bit Off!”

Would you have me ANY other way?

MAY 15, 2020: “Back To The Castle” …

IMG_2084

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

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

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

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

HEY DADS …

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

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

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

cropped-cats-metal-signature-logo.jpg

 

MARCH 10, 2020: “The Brighter Side Of Grey” …

img_8259

TO 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 poignantly it reflects upon the mental illness I fought so hard to overcome for the better part of my life, and long before it was diagnosed. 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, pain and trauma. Before I put my disease 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 ROOM 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 psyche to allow anything in between to exist in one cohesive space.

How did this happen? The general consensus is that my “splitting” was the result of severe emotional and psychological abuse from my childhood, and I do tend to agree. I was raised in a conditionally based system of 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 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 these traumas were visited on me purposely or with the intent to murder my soul, but the trauma was real indeed, as was the effect it had on my damaged psyche. For years in the wake of not only my broken childhood, but as much so in the wake of my own self-inflicted destruction and imprisonment, I felt alone and voiceless, regardless of the people who “appeared” to be standing beside me. At this point it is no longer a secret that I myself attempted suicide on November 8, 1996, but thankfully survived to tell about it.  But I’ve digressed …

Music of all genres has been an integral part of my mental health journey and recovery, but one of my favorite bands, Five Finger Death Punch, has been at the forefront. Their songs have not only helped identify some of my lost and broken feelings, but have also given my former “voiceless self” permission to either cry my feelings to the surface or YELL AND SCREAM THEM OUT LOUD! I’d pre-ordered their new album months ago and had been counting the days until it was released, so I was stoked to finally get to listen to it, starting from the beginning, as I headed out of the house today. Meanwhile, when THIS SONG cued up, I 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 and it was as if he were singing it to me himself. To me. To her. To Christian. 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 read “the letter he wrote but never gave her, I will play it for her. Knowing God the way I do, when she’s finally able to receive these most beautiful lyrics of both our lives, in conjunction with the most beautiful words a secretly dying father could have possibly written to his daughter, they will become as significant a part of her healing journey going forward as they have been to mine.

HERE’S THE THING: Grey is not just a color to me. It’s everything in between! It’s the 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 dilutes the blackness of the abyss into the most beautiful shades of grey. 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”. I’m not gonna lie … it is now my final wish that when it’s time for me to move along, this is the last song I hear as they wish me well on my final journey.

Them

MAY 21, 2019: “The Letter” …

"The God Of Thunder"
~ by Gia Embach ~

To Gia (my baby girl, my daughter and my princess),

I want you to know that I have been struggling with a lot of things here lately that have a lot to do with you but are by no means your fault nor have you done anything wrong, nor do you need to feel guilty or responsible for any of the things I’m telling or feeling. It is important for you to understand that you are not in any way shape or form responible for my happiness or well being nor should you make ANY significant life choice based upon how it will affect me or your mother unless it is something that is clearly stupid or hurtful to us or yourself. So if you see me upset or crying please don’t ever worry or wonder if you did something or if there is a problem with your mom and I.

I have come to some realizations with everything that has happened this past year with you, with boys, life changes and the stuff I found on your phone. I see now that you are not a little girl anymore and that my time with you is running out very quickly. It really caught me off guard and I’m really struggling with it because I always thought I had so much time left with you. Now that I realize you will be out of the house in 5 years and how little time that is there are so many things I want to talk to you about and tell you about to get you ready for the world and life without us to prepare you for what is to come. I’m trying to pace myself on these discussions because I want us to enjoy the time we have left and I don’t want you feel like there is always some heavy, serious or sad discussion that I’m always about to have with you. I know what a downer that can be and I’m sorry these things are uncomfortable but you know they are necessary and I am only doing this because I love you so much.

I didn’t really come in to your life until you were 4 and your mother and I got married  when you were 5 years old. It wasn’t until you were about 6 or 7 that we really loved each other and took on a father daughter bond. So I have really only been a true dad and parent to you for about 7 years or so and divide that in half because of split custody and it’s more like 3.5 or 4 years that I have actually had to spend with you as a father and much of that time has been spent trying to fill in the holes left by [Him]. It has hit me like a ton of bricks now that you are not a child technically that I have missed a lot of your childhood. This has left me feeling devastated for many reasons but mainly because its just not enough time with the only child I will ever have that I love more than anything on God’s green earth. I didn’t ever even really know for sure that you really really loved me and saw me as your real dad until you wrote me that card on Father’s day when you were 11 or 12 that you drew THOR on (I wish so much I was still your super hero). From the age of 11 till just before you were 13 as I really got to know you better as a person while you matured mentally and emotionally I fell head over heels in love with you as a daughter. I never thought I could love and care for a human being as much as I did then and I still do now. We have so much and in common because of things we have been through our lives. I feel like my love for you grows every day still. By the time I really understood this, this past year I realized you were drifting away and I had to find away to give you some space and start letting you go a little so you can eventually be your own person capable of making it on your own decisions without being dependant on me, your mother or anyone else for that matter. I have been inconsolable on many days since this all happened because I felt like I was losing you physically and emotionally. I could not understand why it was hurting so bad just to think of things being any different than they are now. Even you being distant from us while still here in the house gives me a knot in my stomach at times so the thought of you physically not being here for days and weeks on end was paralyzing to me. At first I thought maybe I was just leaning on you too much for emotional connection because of some kind of distance I was feeling from Mom but I started to think about your childhood and how much I missed when you were a baby and when you were [with Him] on his days even after I came around. I have been feeling unfullfilled as a parent and a father because I missed so many precious moments with you. Gia I would have given anything and I mean ANYTHING to hold you as a baby, look you in the eyes and know you were mine and only mine! That I was your everything and your whole world as a father. Your only super hero dad. I never got to change your diaper, feed you a bottle, help you walk or hear your first words. I will never get to share that with you or any other child and regret that so much. I thought maybe if your mother and I had a child together that maybe I would not feel this way but I realize that I would have only wanted that with you. I hate that I have had to and still have to share you with Pete. I know he was your first dad and that he will always have a part of your heart but it has always made me jealous and hurt knowing I will never have ALL of you which is not your fault. It’s so hard for me to accept that and I’m so sorry I was not able to be your 1 and only Dad from the start. I feel we both would be even closer and happier than we are now if that would have happened. I dream about that everyday now and it always makes me cry. Those were the cards we were dealt for some reason and I guess it was supposed to be this way. Regardless how much of your heart I have I want you to know that you are the only little girl that occupies my heart. You have and always will have all of me. I also want you to understand that I chose you and your mother Gia. I didn’t end up with you by default because you popped out of your mother. I chose to take you on as my daughter. Pete has an obligation to be your father, to love you and do certain things for you. He does not have much of a choice in that even though he does not do the best job at it. Gia I don’t need you in my life, I don’t have to be good to you, I don’t have to love you and I don’t have to care about you. I JUST WANT TO and I chose to. I was not forced to, obligated to nor was I expecting anything in return other than reciprocated love and affection from you. I am the only parent that specifically chose you to be mine and it’s important you know how powerful that is. I would not trade my time with you for anything!! I have enjoyed every minute of it. I have no real regrets about our life together other than the parts I had no control over.

I never considered having kids of my own because I was so content with you, I worried it would create resentment in you and I was so afraid I would not be able to handle the responsibility or that I would do to you or others the same thing my parents did to me(abandon, neglect and/or abuse) I never knew I would love being a father or at least YOUR father so much or that I would even be a good father. So far it has been the privelige of my life to call you my daughter and I have never been prouder to claim anything or anyone as my own despite ANY mistakes you have ever made or will ever make.

It’s been a sobering fact to realize than no one in my life has ever cared for me the way I care for you until you and your mom came along. My parents simply did not feel this way about me. I know that because they would not have done the things they did had the felt the way about me as I do about you. People make mistakes but a lifetime of neglect shows how they felt about me. This is why I have struggled with self worth and feeling like I don’t matter my whole life. I can’t have that with you. I will not allow you to ever live your life feeling like you are a piece of crap, a nothing or like you do not matter. I want you to know how loved and missed you are even now and also when you leave our home some day. I miss you every single day when you go to Pete’s and I will miss you every single day when you leave the house to go have your life. It’s just something happens when kids grow up I guess. I don’t want you to be sad about this FACT I want you to be happy knowing that even though your first dad was not able to be what you wanted and needed that THIS dad will always do his best to make you feel wanted and loved. You will always be my priority. That being said I am human and a broken human at that and I make mistake, little one and big ones. I am sure I will screw up between now and the rest of our life together and may at times do and say things that seem to contradict what I am saying here but it only because I am not perfect and just as flawed as anyone else but I will do my best and I will admit when I’m wrong or when I have screwed up then I do whatever it takes to fix it with you so we can move forward on good terms. I promise that to you and I hope you can remember all of this even if I’m not living up to my word and give me time to fix things if I do screw this up someday.

You told me your greatest fear was being vulnerable. Did you know that in studies showing vulnerability is quickest way to make someone like you and viewed as a sign of strength? It is our flaws, imperfections, insecurities and willingness to share those with others that bring us closer to the people we love. It’s true that it will backfire from time to time and people will take advantage of it which will hurt immensely and affect your ability to trust others but 9 times out of 10 it will go well. You just have to trust the right people to vulnerable with and we will talk about that more another time.

You have also expressed that you wish to change the world, have a close loving family and wish to be remembered. I assure you Gia if you stay true to your heart and continue to be the person I love so much that you will have these things. I will never forget you and no one who gets to know you will ever forget you either. I’m not just saying this because I’m your dad but you are one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. I know you are not perfect but you are smart, kind, beautiful and compassionate. I would not change anything about you other than the wounds that still hurt you to this day.

I have told you before but I will continue to reiterate until you really get it. You can tell me anything Gia!! Any problem you have even if you did something I told you not to do and I’m disappointed in you I’m still going to be kind to you and help you find a solution to your problem or just listen to you so you can get it off your chest and just feel better. A lot of girls/women do not tell there dad things going on with them, things they have done or problems they are dealing with because they are afraid of ruining their image of “daddy’s little angel” or “daddy’s princess” with their father or that he will think less of them, disown them or be infuriated. Gia I am telling you that I will never think less of you as a person. I know you are not perfect and I know you are going to screw up and do things at times that you are ashamed of and regret. WE ALL HAVE. I know what stuff I did and thought about from your age and on and you will not surprise me whatever it is that you get in to. I think you will make good decisions but if you ever get pregnant, addicted drugs, deal drugs, get raped, get an STD, steal, cheat, shank a biotch, kill someone, strip or even hook I AM STILL GOING TO LOVE YOU. I am also still going to help you anyway I can. I have scooped you off the floor before when things have happened and I will do it 1000 more times if I have to. I don’t think you will ever do most of those things but I really need you to understand that you will always be my daughter and I will always be there for you no matter what even when I know you are wrong at times. If I ever thought you were sitting in the dark somewhere going through something that you couldn’t handle all by yourself and you did not feel like you had anyone to help you it would BREAK my heart worse than any of those things listed above. Almost every horrible thing I went through in my life I dealt with on my own before your mom came along and it was a miserable lonely existence. Please don’t ever allow yourself to live like that EVER. I’m going to ask you to promise me that. If the walls are caving in around you, and they will before it’s all said and done, you have to call me or tell me or your mother.

I would only ask that before you ever make a decision about things you do with yourself, with boys, with other people or with alcohol/substances that you would ask yourself before hand, “what would my Dad think about this, what would my future kids think about this and would I be embarrassed or ashamed to tell someone I loved about this?? And if for some reason you make the wrong decision anyway that you have the courage to talk to me about it or get help if there is a problem associated with it.

I still have a lot to talk to you about on this stuff and I’m sorry this is so long but I had to let you know how I feel about you. I may not ever get to have another conversation about these things with you again because you just never know what will happen. People come in to this world and leave this world everyday and if you were going to know one thing about anything before I die it would be what is written on this paper. I want you to keep this paper and read it any time you feel bad or lonely or depressed and if I’m still around I hope you will call me or find me and let me pour my love and my strength in to you. If I’m already gone I hope you would remember me and call someone else you love to get help. Good night baby girl. Everyday is a new day and no matter how good or bad this day is the next day can always be better. Don’t ever forget these things.

IMG_8467