Sunday, February 11, 2018

Little Boxes On The Hillside

I felt compelled to blog this morning because something has just crawled under my skin. I guess I need to have a good, old fashioned venting session. Lately, I feel overwhelmed with the very image-conscience area Jason and I reside in. Some days, I walk through the neighborhood and feel so blessed to be here. It is beautiful, it is safe, it is aesthetically pleasing, and the schools are superior. The truth is, Jason and I have been fighting to get into a community like this since we moved here. We used to leave our little apartment in Dallas, go get ice cream, and drive through the nice neighborhoods. We’d drive up and down the streets, looking at the beautiful houses, dreaming, and planning. We used it as motivation to, hopefully, get there someday. We were just two poor kids from Arkansas, looking for the American dream in the sprawling suburbs of the big city.

We are, by no means, the upper echelon of anything in these parts. There are neighborhoods surrounding us that house real-live millionaires. Homes so grand, you are free to ogle but you must do it from a distance. You can get no closer than the gilded gates surrounding the perimeter of their very own private utopia. What Jason and I consider our brass ring, would be a long descent down for them. Even still, the people in our sector, aren’t exactly living in squalor. We’re just not at the top of the food chain, is my point.

When we moved into this community, I felt like there was some big mystery that would be solved for me. I’d finally get to see how the other half lived. I guess this blog is about, how not pleasantly surprised I am. Don’t get me wrong, if you go for a walk, the neighbors smile and wave. Every lawn is manicured, everyone has a dog, everyone has a golf cart, the birds are singing, and it quite literally feels like something out of a movie. It appears to be everything I ever wanted. But when you get a chance to peer inside the true beliefs and concerns of the people who reside within it, it can be a little unnerving. It’s hard to believe in a place so lovely, those living within it aren’t always so lovely. Most everyone around here is aware of and uses the Nextdoor app. For those unfamiliar, it is an app that was designed for neighbors to connect. It is very convenient for lost or found pets, items for sale, recommendations, and local events. Yes, but that’s not always what it’s used for. It’s really just another social media source to voice complaints, whine, and argue. It’s a lot of first world problems. It is a place to call out your neighbors in a public forum. It is essentially a virtual town hall meeting. The problem with that is, there’s still an element of anonymity. You know it’s a neighbor but not necessarily the guy directly next door. If he’s a few blocks away, you’re safe to resume usual keyboard warrior antics. When not speaking directly to someone’s face, a person will always be more brazen and say things they would almost never say, otherwise. Neighbors will post photos of someone’s car who has parked in their driveway but blocked the sidewalk. They will post photos of neighbor’s who have a dead patch in their lawn. People are put on blast on a regular basis. It is not a feeling of united community; it is divisive. One women once went on a 5-paragraph tirade about leaves on lawns. These things, to me, are not problems. When Jason and I used to drive through these neighborhoods, I wondered what the residents worried about. Here’s the big mystery solved. What they worry about…

Actual collection of titles to post rants:

“Golf carts on the sidewalks!!!”
“To the lady in the white SUV that cut me off and flipped me off!”
“Suspicious looking man walking on Cotton Ridge!!!”
“Rake your leaves, people!”
“Dog not on leash!”
“Drone in the sky!”
“There were pan-handlers at Kroger!”
“Private airport pilots flying below deck!”

Those are just some examples of some of the MAJOR concerns. Doesn’t seem too horrendous, right? These are things are laughable so they’re nothing I can’t simply scoff at and move on. However, it is the elitist posts that I find so disheartening. Last year, there was a brutal hail storm. Pretty much everyone’s roof had to be replaced. A man posted on the 4th of July that he couldn’t understand why there was hammering and banging going on during a holiday. His neighborhood was listed with the post and it was one of the pricier sectors. He couldn’t understand why they couldn’t just take a day off. He went on to clarify that he wasn’t sure if Mexicans celebrated the 4th. The list of things incredibly out of touch with that post could go on for days. People immediately noticed the Mexican comment but quickly pretended like it wasn’t said. However, no one noticed he just assumed someone had the luxury of taking the day off. I’m glad he has the privilege to do so. It personally annoys me because I am the person who, if I don’t go to work, I don’t get paid. If I don’t get paid, I can’t afford lawncare, and then he’ll post a photo of my yard. See how that works? It was a complete lack of touch with the real world. He literally couldn’t see beyond his circumstances. Never-you-mind the peasants rowing below deck. Isn’t everyone in a corporate position with a 6-figure salary and paid leave? No sir. No, they’re not. The view from the top is obviously distorted.

This next part could be misconstrued but the “suspicious person” posts get me. Pretty frequently, someone is seen walking that a resident decides doesn’t look like they belong here. What, about a person, that makes them suspicious is usually pretty predictable. I’ve decided if you’re not dressed either business casual or in upscale activewear, you’re a suspect. Make no mistake, I’m always grateful when someone posts video from their Ring Cam that caught legitimate bad activity around their house to alert their neighbors but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about someone simply being spotted and seen as too lowly a person to possibly live here like the rest of us. Naturally, they’ve come into our Shangri-La to rape and pillage. Had he had some golf clubs, he might’ve avoided some scrutiny. Because who doesn’t have a Tuesday afternoon free to play a few holes? A guy once posted he saw a suspicious looking guy walking down the street and he doubled back to follow him. He just assumed he didn’t belong. He was commended for keeping us safe. He mentioned some guys playing basketball late at night. It was speculated they were there selling drugs. No real evidence, just not looking up to snuff.

This morning’s post rant was a doozy. A man wrote a long diatribe on how to prevent rental properties from happening in your neighborhood. It was a detailed list on how to make the landlord’s and renter’s life a living hell. It was a bullet point “how-to” on how to spend every minute of your waking hours focusing on the downfall of someone you don’t even know. Someone we can assume is here to mar the perfection. Someone automatically assumed to be inferior. Someone clearly, beneath them. The commenters were very eager to join the ranks. They had their pitchforks and torches at the ready. The mob has been summoned. The renter peasants will not prosper. They will learn their rightful place in the slums on the east side. They do not belong here and nor do apartments. Apartment dwellers are referred to as low-income families. There is no place for them here.

In the end, it feels like no one is interested in obliging a single mother, who can only afford to live in apartment, but wants her kid to attend the same schools we want our kids to attend. She somehow got confused and thought she had the right to be here. How do you improve your standing when people who’ve already achieved their goals do everything to keep you from getting there, too? That post today was a mission. It was a mission to shut people out. It was a conscious effort to keep someone down; to make sure they know their place. Their place isn’t in our pristine community, that was clear.

Lately, it’s not a club I’m so sure I’m enjoying. I get no pleasure from watching anyone being made to feel inferior. I’ve been made to feel that many times in my life. Inside, I will always be a poor kid from Arkansas just fighting for a better life. Do I belong here? Perhaps not but I made my way here. I’m not so sure I’d pass muster if my neighbors got to judge if I’m up to par. I don’t begrudge anyone else their right to be here beside me. If you can afford the rent or mortgage or the HOA dues in this zip code, you belong here as much as anyone else. It deeply bothers me to know someone is just trying to get a leg up and others are working diligently to make sure they fail. Who am I to deem someone unworthy? I don’t want that for anyone. I hope we all make it. A lot of my looming questions from my little Dallas apartment days have been answered. What do they worry about? Very little. That’s the problem.

Monday, October 2, 2017

"The Experience"

Last night I attended Theresa Caputo "The Experience". Since Ryan passed, I have researched mediums many times. I found a guy in Waxahachie that has had a few guest appearances on ghost hunting shows on the sci-fi channel. I came very close to booking some one on one time with him a time or two. For whatever reason, I never followed through. Maybe I didn’t want to go and have it be a total failure. Maybe I didn’t want further proof that we’ll never speak again when I sensed a hoax. If I haven’t put it to the test, it’s still a possibility. The power of both hope and denial are far more intense than we give them credit for. I also rationalized that maybe Ryan needed time to adjust to his new spiritual plane before he’d have any interest in coming back to this realm to comfort me. I’m full of theories and excuses to keep things the way I want them. I guess that makes me just the type of person a medium loves. Hence, the tickets I purchased and the blog you’re reading now.
This event fell into my lap. I’d been told about it by more than 2 people that day and I took it as a sign. It was like I was being pulled there. I thought since it was a large event, if she passed me over, it didn’t have to mean the same as a botched reading with someone one on one. I can reduce it to supply/demand and maintain hope. A larger event mean it was casual and I could keep myself from getting too invested. Though I told myself I was going to keep it lighthearted and not expect a miracle, the truth is, my heart was begging for a connection. Ryan was such a strong personality, I knew he’d come through. I just knew she’d pause and come straight to me. I wanted her to say something only he would say. I wanted her to tell me how strong his presence was. I wanted her to answer my biggest question -- Why?

Theresa certainly has a demographic. Attendees were predominately white women whose ages ranged from 30 and up. I ran into multiple clients. Every man there had the unmistakable look of having been unwillingly dragged there by the ladies in his life. Most men don’t buy into this particular brand of spirituality. Rightly so, in my opinion. My date and I were happy to have encountered a bar. We waited in line, got some stiff drinks, and took a seat just as the show was beginning. Spotlights up and there she was in all her splendor; complete with her trademark huge platinum blonde hair, dark tan, and 6 inch glittery Christian Louboutin heels. She’s selling a brand and we eat it up. We want those sparkly shoes. We want that enormously coiffed hair. We want a character. And she lets you have it. The image is genius. Why would the quirky Long Island lady with big hair be selling me a heap of bullshit? She’s nuts so she’s gotta be legit, right!?!

The show began with a lot of explanations, disclaimers, pandering, and she was unexpectedly fowl-mouthed. I wish I could explain why that put me more at ease, but it did. She was actually pretty funny. Her thick accent and squeaky Teresa Giudice-style laugh kept it upbeat. She had signature go-to “laugh cues” when she needed to rally the troops. Her personality seemed to get stronger when the readings were lacking. She filled in the empty spaces and lack of associations with run-of-the-mill vamping. She explained that she doesn’t systematically go through the crowd. She goes where the spirits direct her. Basically saying, “A lot of you are going to leave here unhappy”.

My friend, who accompanied me, pointed something out immediately. She was on the very first reading of the night and almost all the women around us, (myself included), were already wiping away tears and sniffling. There’s no way the details of the reading the woman was receiving applied to the majority around us. They were connecting with their own pain. It was a massive room full of people who’ve experienced loss. It was a room where people hoped for a moment of resolution; a miracle. It was a room where both sorrow and hopefulness hovered in the air like a dense fog. Everyone looked really, really vulnerable. The tears were instant but got more intense as we watched a mother’s image splashed onto the jumbotron as she hunched forward and sobbed into her daughter’s snuggie she’d brought with her. She wept into the blanket as Theresa told her all the things she wanted to hear; that her daughter is not suffering and wants her to release any guilt she feels.

I do not exclude myself from the description of the captive audience I’ve given you. I was one of them in every conceivable way. My heart raced and I could feel tears well up if it even looked like she might be making her way to my side of the room. She never did. In 2 hours, she did about 6 or 7 readings. She spent a very long time with each group even when it seemed to have gone stale. Chasing elusive ailments and to attach to a group who found the word or phrase they could latch onto. Each reading would begin with a very generalized blanket statement. “Why am I feeling pain in my chest? Who here lost someone to a heart condition?” “Who here lost a father figure?” Well, you’ve honed in on a 60(something) year old woman, so yes, it’s likely her father has passed on. What I noticed most, is once someone was selected and given the spotlight, she had to do very little speaking. She could say anything and they would make the connection for her. They would fill in the blanks and come up with anything to make those connections apply.

Theresa: “What’s up with his foot. He keeps showing me his foot.”

Guest: [Long, confused thought process] “Uhhh…. His mom told me our son drags his foot when he crawls just like he did when he was a baby?”

Then Theresa smiles knowingly, throws up her hands in a triumphant display. She would look pleased that she’s delivered some pivotal message from beyond the grave. He’s come back from the dead to speak to his wife, who had their baby 2 weeks AFTER he died, to point to his foot?!?! If information didn’t fit who she was speaking to but fit for someone a few rows away, then it must just be two people trying to connect too strongly at once. That message is for them, not you, then. If you gather enough people, eventually someone will find a buzz word that connects to their story. They’re desperate and will shout out “Oh that’s us!!!”

The pained faces of everyone she spoke with tell the stories. Mother’s clinging to items of their departed children. Their down-turned faces and crushed demeanor were gut-wrenching as they looked at her like she was their salvation. She doesn’t have to work very hard. She sets ‘em up and we knock ‘em down. I think she’s good at reading people, just not the type of reading she’s making a fortune for. I think this type of smoke and mirrors will always be a cash cow as long as people lose the people they love. And there’s only two things you can count on -- death and taxes. As long as we cannot wrap our hearts and brains around the fact that we simply cannot see and talk to the loved ones we’ve lost, she’s got job security. As long as that goodbye won’t get said and that one more “I love you” won’t be uttered, we will continue to search for answers.

At one point, she began doing a reading and the lights kept dimming. Her overacting to amp up the dimming lights is when I started thinking about whether I was going to switch to hard liquor or just stick with beer at the round of drinks we would be having soon after the show. Even sooner if we just leave now. We were seated behind the switchboard and my friend swears she saw the guy dimming the lights as Theresa acted intensely spooked. Lady, you talk to the dead on a regular basis. They never visit when you’re alone? In the dark? You can handle that but you’re weirded out here? In a crowded event center?

No one got bad news. No one was told anything hurtful. No one’s loved one felt pain when it was their time. Everyone went peacefully. Everyone prefers to go alone. No one took any ailments or resentments away from their physical body. Oh, and that nephew those people lost who was stabbed 46 times? He never felt a thing… He didn’t suffer. He wanted them to know he loves them. When they smell weird smells, it’s him. And he’s present for every monumental occasion.


I’m sorry, y’all. I didn’t witness anything profound. I witnessed a room full of people being told what they wanted to hear. And what they heard they all but designed for themselves. I witnessed broken hearts desperately looking for answers. As odd as this sounds, the only comfort I got was to see that we don’t suffer alone. If you ache for a loved one, you’re not alone. There are other people in just as much pain and desperate enough to buy into this in the hopes of finding peace of mind. In our minds, we think we’re paying for closure. I think we’re really just paying for her next pair of sparkly Louboutins. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Balance

Stumbling my way through life, I'm doing my best to find balance. There are days when my work schedule gets so grueling and the kids have so many obligations that I get exhausted and discouraged. I feel like I'm working just to pay bills and die. I'm working to afford a life that's slowly passing me by because I'm too busy to be an active participant in it. It's like being an onlooker amid my own existence. It shouldn't feel that way. I recently read a quote that says "You can't pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first". I'm trying to do this for both myself and my family.

In my line of work, I meet many ladies. The atmosphere in the way I work with clients is a bit different than hair stylists, nail techs, etc. I first make them lie down -- (reminiscent of a therapy session), take away their phones, and then their eyesight. One of two things will happen; we will talk or they will sleep. More often than not, they open up. The conversations I have had with clients have spanned from casual to deeply personal. They've shared things with me I doubt they've said to their closest confidant and I've temporarily lost myself and said things I should've never divulged to a client. My professionalism is present in the pride in my work and doing what I say I will, (within reason), but I am human and sometimes I blur the lines when clients begin to feel like friends. I can usually assess who can handle the truth that I don't exist only within those walls and sometimes outside of them I occasionally want to strangle my husband or secretly loathe another mother at my kids' school. When I can get that rapport with someone, beautiful things can happen. When it does, it didn't feel like work, I enjoyed an hour of conversation that felt like it should've happened over a glass of wine. Other girls in the industry have mentioned that they have clients who come in and say they come 1/2 for the lashes and 1/2 for the conversation.

Each client is very different and has a story all her own. Each one is from different walks of life, have different backgrounds, careers, experiences, beliefs, hopes, fears, and dreams. I get a new perspective on just about everything every single day and it's weird what sticks out to me. Lately, I've realized my family and I don't take enough vacations. My clients are frequently leaving and coming back from trips. It's not from a place of judgement but I notice they've been on three vacations this year and I haven't been anywhere since a quickie, single-day, trip to Hot Springs at the beginning of the year. I think they're onto something. I don't think the destinations even need to be somewhere particularly exotic. I think you just have to schedule some time every few months to get out of town and recharge.

I have a client who survived breast cancer. She now travels the world. She has beautifully worded how she sees it differently now. In her words, "If not now, when?". Did I survive breast cancer? No. Do I completely understand her meaning? Yes. She just reiterated what I already know; live today because you aren't guaranteed tomorrow. I told her I wanted to travel like that, she said "Then make it work".

I listen to the tales of amazing trips taken to coveted destinations but also of hidden little treasures tucked away in a nowhere town you'd only know about through word of mouth. I began to ask myself what these woman know that I don't about finding this balance; this intricate dance of work and play.


That's how the Breckenridge Christmas trip came to be. I had several clients taking trips like this and I always just assumed it was something I could only hear about and not experience for myself. But the bigger questions is, why did I think that way? I should've been googling resorts instead of assuming. I decided the way I think had to change. I had to first change how I fear closing down at work for a few days and I had to change thinking certain experiences aren't in the cards for me. Why didn't it dawn on me sooner to plan? Strategize? Or is this just me....growing up? If a trip is crazy expensive, than the plan is that we eat out one or two times less that week and the money goes into savings. If we do that for several months leading up to the trip and then go have an amazing trip we'll remember forever, did we really "miss" those dinners out? One more slightly edited quote, "At your funeral, is anyone going to get up and say 'She had a really expensive couch and great purses"? No.... But they might say, "She traveled. She lived. She was happy".

So there's us, living and waiting till Christmas. Watching videos of the sleigh ride we're going to take the kids on and getting so excited but...... that's still a ways off. I told Jason I don't want to miss the leaves turning in the Ozarks in fall this year. In that moment, a trip I would've considered and quickly vetoed out of dread of doing the work to make it happen became a trip I decided to make happen. I decided we'll go to Eureka Springs to enjoy the beauty of our homeland and make it extra fun by staying at the Crescent Hotel. The kids have been youtubing videos and coming up to me with huge eyes and asking "Mom, is it REALLY haunted?". I just shrug and say "Maybe it is and maybe it isn't". Their faces light up with excitment. Absolutely the best idea ever!
It's amazing how just one little mini-getaway will get me through to a big getaway. My mood is better, I have something to look forward to that's in the near future. I feel really responsbile and in control of my own happiness. I am taking control of my life. There's something to these little time outs!


The little trip to Eureka doesn't have to be extravagant. I just want to see the beauty of the hills, slow the pace down for a couple of days, and watch my kids experience The Crescent. I won't make obligations to meet up with friends or family who really don't care if they see me or my kids or not, so why bother? Why add the headache. Admitting no one gives a crap is the most freeing thing I ever did! I swear! Then, in December, I get to experience something completely foreign and stunning WITH them. I'm guessing it's going to outdo any purse I ever bought.

I'm a planner now. I plan longterm and divide what I could take from today to put into tomorrow. I am so thankful for these lessons I've learned from the women I interact with daily. I love their tales of travel but I don't want to just hear about them anymore. I want to live them for myself. I have taken a cue from them and realized they are taking time out and if they can, I can.

In fact, I see most everything that way now. If anyone can, I can. I can travel and I can expand my career. I just have to slowly and methodically plan. Slow and steady wins the race. I'm storing my nuts, that's all. I owe my family a nice life. I also owe myself breaks so I can continue to give that to them without doing it with underlying bitterness. Don't be mislead, I'm still an angry little troll, stuck in rushhour traffic but in between my profanity-ladened tirades, I take a breath and picture myself looking out onto the beautifully-colored hills of the Ozarks in just a few more weeks. It's then that the tension eases and I might even break and allow a car with their blinker on over into my lane. That's balance. I deserve it. We all do.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Two Years


I can’t tell you the last time I blogged. I guess I either lost a passion for it or I’ve just gotten too busy.  With hell week here and a day off to gather my thoughts, let’s see what falls out, shall we? Hell week is what mom and I refer to as the week we celebrate Ryan’s birthday and then the anniversary of his passing a week later. It is filled with memories, tears, and a time to reflect on the distance we’ve put between ourselves and 2 years ago as we stood in a hospital unable to wrap out brains and hearts around what had just happened. I do weird things like look at the last post or selfie before Ryan died. I look at myself and try to remember who she was. I guess you could say she was naïve. I no longer recognize her. I can’t relate to her at all. She didn’t know what I know now. I guess in a way she died, too. Who stands in her place was born out of necessity. I like to think of her as Misty “A.R.” (After Ryan).


The last 2 years, mom and I have drowned ourselves in busy work. If we stay busy we’re safe. When we slow down, that’s when the pain seeps in. We’ve kept ourselves busy to the point of exhaustion. We started the foundation and I focused on building my business. Mom says when you’re busy giving, you don’t have time to be thinking about what you’re lacking. I wanted to be successful as a distraction but also because I needed to be successful to do things I realized have to be done. Because I know life is fleeting, there are places to go and memories to create before it’s my time to go. I don’t know when my time is up but I know I want to live while I’m here. To play hard you have to work hard.



There are key moments in life that change everything about you. It could be a birth, it could be a death. And sometimes out of death comes a birth. My family has had to change the way we do everything to prevent ourselves from wallowing. In fact, I’ve changed how I do things by changing the way I think about things.

This is what I know now…


My circle is small and I’m okay with that. I know the difference between an acquaintance and a friend. I know the difference between someone who listens and someone who waits to talk.



“Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.” – Josephine Hart



Just because someone is your family doesn’t mean they’ll even send you a condolence via facebook messenger or show up to the funeral.



The loss didn’t turn me into a saint. I’m colder. If you couldn’t bother to send me a kind word, don’t come looking for mine when you experience your tragedy. And you will, eventually. I know it hurts, you don’t have to tell me. My compassion is engineered to meet yours. I’m not above it, make no mistake.



People will take time out for a 5 minute quiz to see which Kardashian they are but won’t type in a code when buying from Amazon to donate a profit to our charity that costs them nothing. You can put blood, sweat, and tears into something to unveil it to those around you all proud-like and go “TA DA!!!!!!!!” only to hear crickets. I will press forward. Strangers will support you before those closest to you.



I take the chances. Hesitation and second-guessing don’t do anything. In life, you’ll only regret the chances you didn’t take. For years I saw people accomplishing things I admired and wondered what they knew that I didn’t. I don’t think they knew any more than I did; they just did the work. A dream, a plan, a strong work ethic, and a leap.



I no longer play the “maybe I’ll do that or go there someday” game. No…. I’ll go this year. I’ll get a new Rubbermaid tub and put a new fund into to make that memory. When I’m gone, those who love me will always have that.

  

I don’t hang around in situations that make me miserable. Whether it’s a person or an experience that’s making me feel that way, I eliminate it. Life’s too short for unnecessary grief. I can spot an unhappy person from a mile away. I have my own demons. I won’t bear the burden of anyone else’s.



I don’t need validation. I don’t need you to think I’m pretty, skinny, smart, or successful. Why? ‘Cause who gives a shit, that’s why.



I can make it through days now without tears. Then again, sometimes I will be doing something as mundane as driving home from work or folding laundry and bust out into tears. There’s no rhyme or reason to the outburst. They come when they come. Some days 2 years feels like 2 years. Some days it feels like yesterday. This is just where I am now. In some ways I’m better, in some ways I’m icier, in some ways I’m more giving, in some ways I’m more selfish. It depends on the day. It’s just how I’ve evolved. I had to find my place in a world without Ryan. I’ve had relationships destroyed and new ones take their place. I wonder how he would’ve dealt with all the things mom and I have had to deal with since he died. Had the shoe been on the other foot and it would’ve been me, how would he have handled it? Would he have been more graceful and diplomatic? Would have grieved as hard? Would he have made scenes and become a completely different person like me? I think he would’ve snapped a little just like we did. Those questions can’t be answered and he’s not here to reassure me or tell me where I made a misstep. I feel like if he could come back for just one day he’d most certainly ask, “Where’s my sister? Did she live through it!?!?”



I try to picture Ryan’s reaction if Jason and I both died and he came to collect my things and people I’d known a few months got there first and he had to badger them to hand over my phone, house keys, wallet, laptop, and had already cleaned out all my personal possessions because they assumed he didn't have a relationship with me. I have a pretty good idea of what would’ve happened. I knew an entire life. They didn’t even know a full year and assumed such a bold role. Experiencing that loss and then seeing posted pictures flipping us off and calling us vermin, there are just no words for. I still see tagged things of them and wonder how anyone could associate with someone who would do that to a grieving family. I guess it doesn’t really matter now, though…. It’s over even though it will haunt me forever. I guess I’m not above that, either.



I have to go on. Misty “A.R.” is still evolving but I wish he could meet her. These two years have been hell; a hell I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I still pass his guitars and strum them with my fingertips. I still agonize that he won’t see my kids grow up.



Yes, 2 years. 2 years since my world came to a halt. 2 years since I realized nothing is certain except one thing; you control nothing. Am I better? No. I’m just different. I can now answer the question “Do you have any brothers or sisters?” without a lump in my throat. He’s still in everything I do. The truest quote I’ve ever read is this: “It’s been said ‘time heals all wounds’. I do not agree. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” – Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Two Years


I can’t tell you the last time I blogged. I guess I either lost a passion for it or I’ve just gotten too busy.  With hell week here and a day off to gather my thoughts, let’s see what falls out, shall we? Hell week is what mom and I refer to as the week we celebrate Ryan’s birthday and then the anniversary of his passing a week later. It is filled with memories, tears, and a time to reflect on the distance we’ve put between ourselves and 2 years ago as we stood in a hospital unable to wrap out brains and hearts around what had just happened. I do weird things like look at the last post or selfie before Ryan died. I look at myself and try to remember who she was. I guess you could say she was naïve. I no longer recognize her. I can’t relate to her at all. She didn’t know what I know now. I guess in a way she died, too. Who stands in her place was born out of necessity. I like to think of her as Misty “A.R.” (After Ryan).


The last 2 years, mom and I have drowned ourselves in busy work. If we stay busy we’re safe. When we slow down, that’s when the pain seeps in. We’ve kept ourselves busy to the point of exhaustion. We started the foundation and I focused on building my business. Mom says when you’re busy giving, you don’t have time to be thinking about what you’re lacking. I wanted to be successful as a distraction but also because I needed to be successful to do things I realized have to be done. Because I know life is fleeting, there are places to go and memories to create before it’s my time to go. I don’t know when my time is up but I know I want to live while I’m here. To play hard you have to work hard.



There are key moments in life that change everything about you. It could be a birth, it could be a death. And sometimes out of death comes a birth. My family has had to change the way we do everything to prevent ourselves from wallowing. In fact, I’ve changed how I do things by changing the way I think about things.

This is what I know now…


My circle is small and I’m okay with that. I know the difference between an acquaintance and a friend. I know the difference between someone who listens and someone who waits to talk.



“Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.” – Josephine Hart



Just because someone is your family doesn’t mean they’ll even send you a condolence via facebook messenger or show up to the funeral.



The loss didn’t turn me into a saint. I’m colder. If you couldn’t bother to send me a kind word, don’t come looking for mine when you experience your tragedy. And you will, eventually. I know it hurts, you don’t have to tell me. My compassion is engineered to meet yours. I’m not above it, make no mistake.



People will take time out for a 5 minute quiz to see which Kardashian they are but won’t type in a code when buying from Amazon to donate a profit to our charity that costs them nothing. You can put blood, sweat, and tears into something to unveil it to those around you all proud-like and go “TA DA!!!!!!!!” only to hear crickets. I will press forward. Strangers will support you before those closest to you.



I take the chances. Hesitation and second-guessing don’t do anything. In life, you’ll only regret the chances you didn’t take. For years I saw people accomplishing things I admired and wondered what they knew that I didn’t. I don’t think they knew any more than I did; they just did the work. A dream, a plan, a strong work ethic, and a leap.



I no longer play the “maybe I’ll do that or go there someday” game. No…. I’ll go this year. I’ll get a new Rubbermaid tub and put a new fund into to make that memory. When I’m gone, those who love me will always have that.

  

I don’t hang around in situations that make me miserable. Whether it’s a person or an experience that’s making me feel that way, I eliminate it. Life’s too short for unnecessary grief. I can spot an unhappy person from a mile away. I have my own demons. I won’t bear the burden of anyone else’s.



I don’t need validation. I don’t need you to think I’m pretty, skinny, smart, or successful. Why? ‘Cause who gives a shit, that’s why.



I can make it through days now without tears. Then again, sometimes I will be doing something as mundane as driving home from work or folding laundry and bust out into tears. There’s no rhyme or reason to the outburst. They come when they come. Some days 2 years feels like 2 years. Some days it feels like yesterday. This is just where I am now. In some ways I’m better, in some ways I’m icier, in some ways I’m more giving, in some ways I’m more selfish. It depends on the day. It’s just how I’ve evolved. I had to find my place in a world without Ryan. I’ve had relationships destroyed and new ones take their place. I wonder how he would’ve dealt with all the things mom and I have had to deal with since he died. Had the shoe been on the other foot and it would’ve been me, how would he have handled it? Would he have been more graceful and diplomatic? Would have grieved as hard? Would he have made scenes and become a completely different person like me? I think he would’ve snapped a little just like we did. Those questions can’t be answered and he’s not here to reassure me or tell me where I made a misstep. I feel like if he could come back for just one day he’d most certainly ask, “Where’s my sister? Did she live through it!?!?”



I try to picture Ryan’s reaction if Jason and I both died and he came to collect my things and people I’d known a few months got there first and he had to badger them to hand over my phone, house keys, wallet, laptop, and had already cleaned out all my personal possessions because they assumed he didn't have a relationship with me. I have a pretty good idea of what would’ve happened. I knew an entire life. They didn’t even know a full year and assumed such a bold role. Experiencing that loss and then seeing posted pictures flipping us off and calling us vermin, there are just no words for. I still see tagged things of them and wonder how anyone could associate with someone who would do that to a grieving family. I guess it doesn’t really matter now, though…. It’s over even though it will haunt me forever. I guess I’m not above that, either.



I have to go on. Misty “A.R.” is still evolving but I wish he could meet her. These two years have been hell; a hell I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I still pass his guitars and strum them with my fingertips. I still agonize that he won’t see my kids grow up.



Yes, 2 years. 2 years since my world came to a halt. 2 years since I realized nothing is certain except one thing; you control nothing. Am I better? No. I’m just different. I can now answer the question “Do you have any brothers or sisters?” without a lump in my throat. He’s still in everything I do. The truest quote I’ve ever read is this: “It’s been said ‘time heals all wounds’. I do not agree. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” – Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Don't Shit Where You Beat

I'm an Instagram junkie, well truth be told, a social media junkie in general. When I was a stay-at-homer, it was my only means of social interaction but since I pursued esthetics, I find Instagram very useful career-wise. You can utilize hashtags and get your work and questions out there to possible business connections or potential clients. I cruise the hashtags related to topics dear to my heart. I tend to favor #mua, #makeup, #muaproblems, etc. I love to look at other artist's work and get a feel for new looks and techniques. I love the artists that come at you with an air of "There's more than one way to skin a cat"; not "This is my way and the ONLY way." I scroll through photo after and photo and gag on the amazing work by talented artists and feel motivated to step up my game. From time to time, I glance down at the caption and realize it's an artist belittling the work of their peers, or obviously people they "think" aren't on their level. There's an entire group of mua(s) bagging on what they refer to as a stupid trend they hope passes soon in reference to contouring. I can't understand why you wouldn't want wearable photoshop but that's just me. The entire purpose is to pull forward your best features and push back the not-so-desirable. They argue that it's only meant for drag queens with manly features but that's not the case. Drag makeup isn't buffed out quite as much and is intended for the stage, which is why you'll never see a queen out at your local Starbucks at high-noon in a full beat, clutching a white chocolate mocha. For a woman, if its done subtly and blended appropriately, the results can be stunning and entirely change the look of your face. What's interesting to me, is that most often you will find that the very "trends" that some mua(s) dislike are the very thing your client is going to plop down in your chair and ask for because they see it on TV and think they look beautiful because they do. Do I look the same without it? NO and I mean NO. You know when you're asked for Kim Kardashian's "natural look" that the only "natural" thing about it as that you can expect it to take an hour to execute that beat. You should do it and save the derogatory statements for the cocktail hour with your girlfriends later. I talk mad trash but not where my money is concerned. Your money is affected by your very public Instagram, just sayin'.

In a world where your business card extends far passed a cardboard rectangle embossed with your logo, everything you do and say regarding your field will trickle out to possible future clientele and even worse, previous clients. It's entirely possible that someone has come to you and asked you for the very look you're now trashing. Of course, you do what the client asks for but what if you did it to appease them and they later see how you really felt about it? Picture it: "Oh look there's Suzie's Instagram! I love her work, she was so funny, and oooooh…….. Ouch." They're never coming back and I don't blame them. Your working situation will also be bad with fellow artists who don't want to work with you or recommend you because you have a stank attitude and will possibly later dog out their work.

In my opinion, within any industry, when you feel you have nothing left to learn from another experienced professional or even a novice, you're stagnated. When you've gotten too big for your britches and there's nothing left to learn, I guess the next logical move is to slam others. It always turns into a female version of a pissing contest as to who has been in the industry longer. I'll be the first to admit that I'm fresh and I have a lot to learn. I welcome advice and want every opportunity to grow at my craft and become as good as I can be. I loathe the attitude that you can't learn anything from anybody and everyone else in your field is the enemy or competition. I have had the opportunity to work alongside some of the best artists out there and it was the most humbling experience of my life. I watched Lori Taylor apply eyeshadow on a patron at The Makeup Show Dallas with the same awe and concentration others might reserve for their favorite baseball player at bat. 


I love to see people passionate about what they do and I hate to see anyone tearing anyone down within a community and forgive me, but the beauty industry seems to be one of the worst for it. I'm so over the cattiness and want to wish everyone all the best.  We need to build each other up and I'll be the first to tell someone when something is on point. I will then hope they're willing to tell me how to get there, myself. I know my attributes and I know my flaws and there is always more to learn. There is always someone else you could stand to be kind to that may have an opportunity for you later. There's is always someone that knows something you don't. Being able to show your view on it without being an asshat is an art-form in and of itself. Basically, just don't be a dick in general. Referring to people as "fresh" or "green" is going to hurt a lot more when they surpass you because they had an openness and willingness to listen, learn, and rise. Some people let their haters become their motivators so I'd be careful. If you ever wonder where that Jane Doe went that asked for the smokey eye and contour, you might refer to your post about basic bitches who contour. To anyone who's ever felt deterred from posts like that just remember that you had a purpose before anyone had an opinion. In the words of Chris Crocker, "It's a hair flip, girl, and you cool again".

Monday, December 29, 2014

Buy The Headdress

In all honesty, I've never really seen much of myself in my kids. Drew is a carbon copy of Jason, Reid is another version of Ryan, and Lily has always been just like my mother. I'm familiar with each of these personalities already so there was no adjusting, getting to know or understand them. We just sailed right along. Ryan and Reid had a connection. Reid told Ryan he loved him every hour on the hour and Ryan looked at him and interacted with him like he knew they shared that something. We talked about it several times. It's the way they look out their eyes, it's their bone structure, and facial expressions. It's their light, their energy. I knew from the time Reid was born that Ryan would have something special with him. He loved all my children but he saw himself in Reid and so do we. It was a real connection. He's funny, sparkly, charming, and knows it.

Drew is his daddy from the top of his head to the tip of toes. He looks like him, sounds like him, and has a pompous way of making a point just like his father. It's a very, "You've given your theory and now I'll tell you why you're wrong", type of arrogance. Neither of them could speak a word if you tied their hands behind their backs. Grown folks love Drew as they always did his father when he was that age. He's respectful, well-spoken, and will discuss topics and issues well beyond his years with an astute awareness. He's a history buff, has a million dollar vocabulary, and has taken me to school many times. You have to be on your toes around here with these two. Jason and I have agreed not to inundate our children with our beliefs; who we are took decades to form. My journey is not Drew's journey. I will never tell him who to be and what to think. When and if he asks, I share my take on things but always follow up by reminding him these are simply my findings. I will let him make his own choices and decide what is best for him. I think sometimes parents forget their children's lives are theirs. We can guide them but manipulating them into who you want or expect them to be is unfair. I'll let them find their way and I'll be proud because I'm their mother. End of story. 

Lily has been like raising my own mother. She shares all of her traits to the point my husband calls her "Little Shells". She was an extremely serious baby. She cried constantly and spent the first year of her life on my hip. If I put her down, she went into hysterics. She didn't coo, she didn't smile, and she fussed constantly. The pediatrician noted that she wasn't playful. I had Reid almost exactly two years after Lily. Lily did not talk and was always late on all of her milestones. When I had Reid, she completely regressed. Her doctor watched her closely and I waited for them to tell me she was on the autism spectrum but he never did. I was so scared when she started school. A mother knows and she just wasn't ready. She wasn't speaking like the other kids and her social skills were awkward. She wouldn't approach or engage with the other kids. She had stayed at home with me so I began to think I had hindered her rather than nurtured her at that point. I would talk at length with my mother about it and she assured me she was the same way and she would grow out of it. Lily cried at school a lot. Her teachers have talked to me about it many times and I'm never sure what answer they're looking for from me. She cries easily, that's all. Mom said she cried so much when she was little they just got used to it. Lily finally had a male teacher who wouldn't cater to her tears. She grew a lot that year and the teary episodes began to fade away. She went into speech therapy and began making friends. Her talent began to emerge and Lily has become an amazing artist. It is her passion. Her personality began to blossom and she's super aware of what goes on around her, seriously smart, and goofy. Lily is a goodie two-shoes and that is a bonafide Shelley trait. My mother will follow the rules to the letter. Over Christmas I gave my mom my discount card for Ulta. She presented it to the cashier and said, "This is my daughters and she gave it to me. Is it okay if I use it?" In my mind I was like, "Mother!!!!! HUSH!" GAH! This morning Reid came to me having a meltdown because he couldn't find his super smash brothers game. I saw Lily get up, go off somewhere, and return with it. I asked her where it was. She told me he was getting up in the night to play it so she took it away from him, hid it, and made him go back to bed. I was speechless. Classic, "Little Shells".


Afterwards, I went off to load the dishwasher and was in the middle of thinking about my kid's funny personalities. They're all so different and I know exactly where parts of who they are come from. I was in the middle of thinking how they aren't much like me when Lily came back downstairs in a costume. She had on bunny ears, unicorn stompeez, sparkly wrist cuffs from a previous Cleopatra Halloween costume, and layers of costume jewelry. She sat down and began to draw and I realized…….THAT'S ME! My mother has an entire album of me in the weirdest ensembles you can imagine. I love costumes and will parade around in something just for my own enjoyment even now. Seriously, ask my husband. I've loved it since I was a kid and its never lost its luster for me and I hope it never will. I'm all for a cheap thrill and if it comes in the form of a feather face mask from Earthbound, what's the harm in that? When I'm old and gray and someone out of my mind, I hope my grandkids will being me feathery hats, sparkly costume jewelry, and fuzzy faux stoles. I'll still love it. Age shouldn't have a limit on the silly little things we enjoy. I saw a list yesterday of "100 things I will teach my daughter". My list will be different but it will include, if you like that bizarre headdress and you want it for no reason but to play in it, BUY IT. BUY THE HEADDRESS! She enjoys her little costume and that's me in there. I may be in there in the smallest forms but that's me. I'm weird and I think differently than other people. Sometimes sensible is boring and sometimes fitting in, to me, feels mediocre at best. I let her wear those little consumes out because she's proud of them and its fun. She thinks she looks stunning and to me, she does. I let her wear it because eventually society will tell her she can't anymore. Do it before it stops being cute 'cause if I could still wear get-ups like that and get away with it, I totally would. People and age have a way of killing your spirit, but I love that I see some of mine within her. I'm glad I caught a glimpse of myself. I brought good stuff to the table, too. The love of a good get-up; that's from momma.