Sunday, October 30, 2011


Last weekend I participated in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day 60 Mile Walk for breast cancer. My sister (that my hunky husband's brother gave me) and I had been planning this for months. We'd been training. We'd been plotting. We'd been fundraising. We'd been talkin' it up. We'd been thinking about it and smiling but largely ignoring it owing to the fact that we both have lives that are all-encompassing, comprehensively, extensively, uhh, full beyond measure.

I had an advantage. My children both played soccer at a complex that was composed of five soccer fields and a 1/2 mile track which encircled three of the five.

Susan had an advantage. She did NOT have two children that played soccer or - well, she didn't have two children.

The two of us are of like minds in many respects. We understand if our nights aren't good our days aren't good, we understand our capabilities and our shortcomings, and as a result we elected to spend one of the three nights in Camp (for the experience. Y'know.) and the other two in hotel rooms where we could actually sleep well and arrive at the start line the next morning refreshed and ready. This decision actuated a chain of events that made us "exceptions". Well we knew we were exceptions already. We had to figure out how to get luggage to and from Camp, how to get from Closing Ceremonies back to our vehicle, and a few other such logistics. We managed.

Imminently important was how to get to the Medical Tent each morning in time to have our various hurty parts taped and then get in 'line' for the start so that we had the advantage of at least beginning the day's walk in the first third. We managed. Also important, how to arrive at Camp in the a.m. in time to throw in with the breakfast crew. Bacon, sausage, eggs, biscuits, jelly, butter, hash browns, cheese danish, fruit, juice, and coffee. Anyone with a brain understands the importance of making it in time to partake. We were, after all, walking 20 miles that day. We managed.

The upshot was that we DID it. We finished. We walked 60 miles for the cure. T-H-E. C-U-R-E. We had raised our money, trained, and we walked it. We started, we finished. It wasn't easy. At times it wasn't even fun. But. At other times it was. Fun. Fulfilling. Exhilarating. Emotional. Passionate. Climactic. Adrenaline charged. Emotion packed. Exhausting. Painful.

At the Opening Ceremonies we got to place a pink circle on the Memorial Wall. That one that says "For Diane" is mine.

And as much of a cliche as it is, here's what went through my peabrain. If Diane can receive the news that she has cancer, engage in the chemo/radiation fight and maintain a positive attitude, live (and I do really mean live) through years of remission, and then receive the bad news again and start all over with chemo/radiation, then guess what. I CAN walk 60 miles in three days. I can do that. No matter that my shins splinted and my I.T. band was pulled, no matter Susan had a hamstring pull and painful blisters. Somehow we understood that our issues were minor - even though they felt major. No. Not major. Epic. Deadly. Dramatic. B-I-G time.

Cauz know what? Diane managed. She managed. She managed with beautiful graciousness and gentility. She managed through her faith and her relationship with God.

Diane managed. She manages today. She has an invasive functioning illness/ailment and she could beat any of us out when it comes to attitude, cheerfulness, or faith. She has the best friend in the world. That would be my mother.

I'd walk another 60 mile walk for her. I wouldn't like it. But I'd do it. Throughout the 3 days, there was one thing Susan and I kept repeating to each other. "It's about the journey. It's about the journey. It's about the journey."

It meant so many things. When we wanted to pass everyone because they were pokey or annoying. When we wanted to sock someone in the face because they were selfish or thoughtless. When we wanted to hail the Sweep Van and just go back to camp and chill, have our muscles rubbed and wrapped. But the journey WAS what it was about. For every day I'm separated from the event for yet another day, I understand the journey a little better. I can pray that my shins will heal quicker. I can respond to questions with "Oh yes, I'd do it again." I can proudly announce, "We raised SIX AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS." But in the end, even though I'm profoundly and permanently affected by the experience, I still don't have a clue. Not a clue what it's like to live with cancer. And I'm thankful, for that and for the conviction to do The Walk and to understand the blessings of my life and my family. For a sister to walk with. For a family to return to. For a Godly mother with a Godly best friend. And for a loving God that wraps me in His arms even when my biggest problem is my shins.

Monday, October 17, 2011


This past Saturday was my first full day in the salon. No classroom, no theory, no demos. In the hoose. all. day. Saturday. The busiest day in the industry.

Heaven. I'd forgotten how much I adore the salon environment. It smells nice. There are hundreds of products. Beauty products. Implements. Tools for making you priddy. Words like "up-do", "wavy curls" and "facial". Feel good words.

Oh, of COURSE there are less than perfect things about it too. It's not all mai tais and yahtzee. Nothing's perfect. I choose to ignore them and enjoy. I did have to listen to customers' medical problems, home problems, marriage problems, and so on. I guess having your hair worked on is relaxing and personal enough to make some folks lose their inhibitions regarding personal issues. Maybe it's not altogether unlike having a drink or two and unloading on the bartender. If you think, however, that listening to that kind of talk is a downer, you are oh so mistaken. I listened to a customer tell me about her digestive issues and I was able to say things like "Tsk, I'm so sorry you're having trouble." I listened to another one tell me about her teenagers' antics and I was able to say "I know" in a low, sympathetic tone. Over and o-v-e-r again. "I know." Listened to yet another one lament about family issues, spouse issues and in-laws and how helpless she was in her own home, and I was able to shake my head empathetically and say things like "ohh dear. Ohhhh, dear," and "I am just so SO sorry," and "That's TERRible!"

Think listening to that stuff is negative? Ohhhhh ho ho ho nnnnnew. Nnew nnnnnew nneww. I wasn't responsible for fixing ANY of those issues. In fact I'm not allowed to dispense advice or diagnose medical problems. I wasn't responsible for calling Tummy Problems' doctor and scheduling a doctor appointment and driving her to it and talking to the doctor and paying the bill, then getting her to agree to stop by the pharmacy on the way home to buy her prescription. Nnnnnewp.

I wasn't responsible for Mom of Teenagers kids - for coming up with a suitable discipline for their antics, worrying whether they have a conscience or will develop one or remain sociopathic teenagers. Nnnnnewp.

I wasn't responsible for Family Relationships Chick, for her husband who largely ignored and took advantage and took for granted, her in-laws where he obviously learned that behavior, her mother who, through judgmental comments and complaints or backhanded compliments gave her a huge inferiority complex even into her adulthood, or her whiny, powerless attitude which allowed her situation to continue.

I had an entirely different role. The sympathizer. Surprising how saying "I know" while patting someone on the shoulder endears you to them. Remarkable how sucking your teeth, shaking your head and muttering "Ohhhhh my." engages and pleases a person. It's hard for me to take on that role but I liked it. At home I want to fix things when they go wrong. I want to help with solutions. In this environment I am not allowed to do that. It's forcing my hand, making me become a sympathizer, and I LIKE it.

I shook my head with them and Mmmm'd and Ohhhh'd with them and agreed with them. Then at 4:37pm when I walked out that door I smiled and looked forward to heading home. To my children who are healthy. To a hunky husband who took care of his children in my absence and welcomed me home with big open arms and a smile. To a home where I give myself the power to be strong and in charge.

I enjoy my life - being in charge and responsible for a family. Fixing things. Swooping in and helping clean up messes, real or perceived. It's what I wanted, what I chose and I'm grateful and oh so blessed.

There is, however, an undeniable lift to the spirit when you spend the day in a spa atmosphere. Regardless of whether you are the receiver or the giver of the service you're surrounded by good smells, lightweight tenuous issues such as whether to polish with orange-red or pinky-red or whether to do highlights just around the face or all over. Straight or curly, up-do or down.

Yes it's a fanciful, frivolous environment. To my mind it's the perfect balance to real life.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Well the windshield wipers, slappin' out a tempo,

keeping perfect rhythm to the song on the radio-o-woh. Gotta keep rohhhhhhhhh-lin'.

Yep. Driving my life away. Not that it isn't the mantra of every parent in the world, but you tuned in to my blog, not theirs.

And to make the theme song of the day even more appropriate, it is raining. It's supposed to rain all week. About midway through the soccer season I pray for weather news like this. The prayer goes something like, "Father it's me Caren. I could ask for rain because we need it but You already know my heart so I may'z well come clean with You. I just don't want to spend every single evening and all weekend at the soccer field this week. There it is. Amen"

I don't think of it as a complaint or a whine, more like a request for a short soccer sabbatical. And to strengthen my argument, the trips to soccer will be replaced by trips to the mall for new jeans for my kids who each grew a foot and a half just last week, trips to get haircuts for my kids whose hair grew two inches just last week, and trips to the library to let my kids return the books they've had checked out for two months but didn't read. It's sounding less like a sabbatical, right?

It takes both of us - hunky hubby and myself - to keep it between the ditches. I say on at least a weekly basis I don't understand how single parents do it. I do think it's most helpful when you have grandparents and other family close-by that graciously offer to take your kids for you every once and awhile so you can, oh I don't know, have a few minutes to breathe. Go to the doctor maybe. Work. Have a no-kids evening. We did that all the time before we had kids. Seemed like there wasn't a weekend we didn't have nieces and nephews for at least one of the weekend days and usually overnight. We're not so lucky though to have the same advantage. I guess it's what we get for waiting so long to have kids. Hopefully we'll have plenty of time to spend with each other when the kids are gone, but I surely do miss it now.

At any rate, I applaud single parents. They make me feel guilty and lame for wanting it to rain all week just so I can skip soccer. You understand it doesn't make me stop wishing it. I just feel guilty and lame. But I'm ok with that.

Friday, October 07, 2011

"WHAT??? Mommy has a life too? I gotta call Dad and find out if this is true!"

Know what ASP stands for? Depends who you ask. Cobb County School System uses it to stand for the "After School Program". The kids in it call it "After School Prison". More on that later.

I have my first full week of school behind me. I am more convinced than ever I'm in the right place. There are just too many signs to ignore. I've heard, "You only go through once, so do what you love and love what you do." Heard it all my life, well except for when I was trying to decide on a major in college, which ironically is when you really should have that counsel, isn't it.

Attempting to let go of lifelong perceptions, or reform them - now there's a task. One particular person in my household who shall remain anonymous but his initials are hunky hubby can not understand why in heaven's good name I would choose the cosmetology field when I have a bachelor's degree, post graduate classes and 20 years of business experience under my belt. "But it's like you're starting OVER and WHY would you want to DOOOOO that when you could have something so much more gratifying if you updated your resume and went back into your field? Used your degree? Leaned on all your experience?" This accompanied by much head scratching.

Well here's the thing. Gratifying to WHOM??? My sweet hubby is such a man. I have to declare to you that I'm extremely pleased about this particular detail. It works out well for our relationship. As men go however, it seems they're convinced that their job, their career, their earning potential defines them, plays a large if not primary role in determining their value - their worth - their import - their place - to others as well as to themselves.

Why yes. It IS a rank generalization, thank you for noticing. In my frame of reference however, it is a true one. Of the men I know, I can say with no misgivings they embrace the concept. Own it.

My hunky hubby for example, didn't attempt to hide his confusion. There was no judgment attached, just sheer stupefaction. He was bewildered. Befuddled. Asking for explanation. But (and listen closely my peeps, cauz this is why I adore this man so ding dang much) as he rubbed his head in confusion and before I ever began to attempt to try to get ready to undertake to endeavor to answer his inquiry, he announced "Well I support it. I support you. I don't claim to fully understand it yet. But it doesn't matter. I'm on board."


What, I ask you, could a husband ever do that's more right than that?

Well I'll tell you what. In order to ensure my 9 year old 4th grader isn't a latchkey kid on occasion, I did the paperwork this morning for ASP. Completed the forms, paid the registration fee, and plunked a chunk of $$ in a top-up prepaid account. That way on early release days, inclement weather days and the like when I have school but Jared does not, we will have a plan. An easy arrangement giving him a place to be that is supervised, structured, and promises to strike a good balance between work and play. There are college students to help them with their homework and play games with them. There are teachers and school staff administering and managing the program. The truth is we might possibly take advantage of this option ten to twenty hours the entire schoolyear, but no matter. It's there. It's a net.

Jared has a much different perspective. Jared, since the second we met, has been attached to my hip. I said "Hello baby, guess what. You belong to me," and he responded by clamping himself onto my body and not letting go. Yet. Since. Ever. For the first five weeks I went everywhere with the little dark chubby cherub clamped onto me, full frontal. I learned how to go to the restroom, sleep, grocery shop, and cook with him locked on. At the present time he has evolved to the nine year old version of that. Socially adept, academically first-rate, emotionally on target, but attached to Mom nonetheless. I can come home from a 45 minute trip to Publix and he greets me at the door. "MOMMMMM, I missed you SO MUCH!!!" Again. Full frontal contact, and not just for a few comfortable seconds. Latched on. My hunky hubby, that angel's Daddy, is rolling his eyes and smacking his forehead.

So in Jared's eyes it was clearly, neatly an act of treason when I enrolled him in ASP. A betrayal. He appeared jilted. Forsaken. I was the double-crosser; Judas. "Whyyyyy, Mom, why can't you let me stay by myself??? And speaking of whyyy, why do you have to do this school thing???"

I explained it using the summarily self-involved version that goes like this: "Because I want to."

Jared looked confused. "Wull, why would you wanna do THET???"

Again, the short answer. "I just do." Then, for some obscure, unintelligible reason, I went on. "Jared you are growing up so fast. You are such a fabulous kid, and you'll be an even more fabulous man. When you are a man, you and I won't live together anymore. You will be on your own and you'll fall in love with someone and create a life of your own. You know what? That happened to me. The guy I fell in love with? That's your Dad. And he and I will still be together when you're off building your own life.

"But you don't want to be my Mom NOW?"

OH. Oh you're good, Mr. Jared. But no, nooo, no no no NO. You're not THAT good. Not gonna work.

So we had a little discussion about what it means, and doesn't mean, to be a Mom.

Now Ronny comes home from work. I relate the story to him, woebegone and dejected, for although I held my own with my boy, I melted into a puddle of guilt and uncertainty with him. So here's where he bested himself. "Aww honey. This was OUR decision. Not your decision. You may've carried out the duty but we decided on it together. I'm on it. Where is he?"

Thank you Jesus, for a husband who owns his job, understands his responsibilities. Who owns his opinions and his confusion and the ideals he carries with his Man Card.

And now, thank you for a husband who is amenable to being guinea pig for a facial and facial massage. Mama has to practice.

Who says men don't know where their bread's buttered?