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Starting Over

An adventure a day keeps depression away!

So, Twice Bitten180 was the first thing that came to mind when I had to decide on a new email and blog name.  It probably isn’t hard to figure out but I’ll explain anyway.  I am 55 years old and am having to pick up the pieces of my life and start over…Again.   First time was when I was 28 and my husband decided that the 18 year old girl was more appealing than the wife and kids.  After 4 years (and a third child) I had had enough.  I packed up my three little boys and moved into a government funded apartment, worked two jobs and was determined to focus on them and making their lives happy and successful.  Twelve years later I took a chance on love again and eventually (15 years later to be exact) same thing happens.   This one, however, was the kill shot to my soul.  I lost my youngest son five years ago  ( February 25,2012 ) and the man who should have had my back bailed on me 5 years to the day of that loss.

This blog will have some gut wrenching stories as well as some funny ones.  My main goal is to share through my writings, encouragement as well as ideas that you, the reader, can take and implement into your own lives.

For some of us, starting over means relearning how to live.  I mean, really LIVE and not just survive.  Have you ever been in a really dark place emotionally?  Sometimes, things happen in our lives that make us just not want to live another second.  I never understood how a person could get to that place but unfortunately, now I know.  It took a lot of prayer and looking at pictures of my family to snap me out of it.  I don’t think I could have actually harmed myself but the thoughts of it were bad enough.  We all have baggage in our lives and mine is no different so if  I have the means to help just one person pick up those pieces and create a new heart and soul, or to simply laugh out loud then I will do my best. This blog might not meet the specs of how it’s supposed to be created but I have no clue what I’m doing.  Like, this should probably be my About page but hey, I’m doing my own thing now right?  I am just going to write about things that I am experiencing now that I am on the “other side” of that dark place because for the first time in a long time, I feel like I am really living!

First blog post

My girl Molly and I are almost loaded up and ready to leave this life behind and go start over.  I can’t wait to see her reaction to grandkids and cats!

Where Do I Belong?

The best way to start this section is to just start typing…I have so many thoughts running through my mind and so much fear trying to put road blocks up at every turn that it’s driving me crazy.  I just don’t know where I belong in this world.  If you read my blog from the beginning, you know that I left my husband, my home, my job and everything I had known for the last 15 years because he wanted someone else.  My life has changed drastically over the last 5 years and nothing is as it seemed.  Now I am trying to piece my life together using new puzzle pieces and the part of the puzzle that contains my work life is eluding me.

work life puzzle

My most valuable resources for information are my two sons and their wives.  My oldest son Terrance is a trainer for Samsung.  He literally worked his way up the ladder and he did it by absorbing every bit of knowledge he could about cellular phones back when they first came out.  He would print everything he could find on the subject until he had more notebooks on this information than he did on all of his school materials combined!  He didn’t know the particular turns he would make on this path but he took them as they came along and he is now in a good place with more opportunities still in front of him.

My son Tyler also worked his way up by starting at the bottom.  He started working for a lighting company when he was 18 as a warehouse employee.  This company stuck with him during his learning years because they saw his potential.  He was promoted to warehouse manager and even when the company hit hard times and had to cut his pay, he stuck with them.  They bounced back and he was right there with them.  Today he is a store manager for this company and is their go-to guy for bringing stores to an A-rating.  Next step is the regional managers position, I am sure!

So here is my dilemma and please send me your thoughts, advice and experiences on this matter.  I would love to see the input from my readers.

Is my personality holding me back?  I am a very passive person. People very quickly see me as malleable and not one to stand my ground right away.  When I was a young mother, this was not the case in my personal life but in the workforce I have always been the subordinate.  It isn’t that I don’t have leadership skills or potential, I just don’t have the confidence and it shows.

Fear.  That is what I have.  Second guessing everything from my age and how much time I have left to find my niche , to my ability to perform when things get tough or confrontatin occurs.   How does a person with my personality move into the workforce as a leader? What can I do to conquer the fear of confrontation? Of failure?  Dealing with employees on their personality level does not come natural to me as it does with some other leaders.  I always see myself as an equal or less than others and I get ran over every time.  When I think about the bosses  I’ve had in the past and what made them seem like successful manages to me, I see the respect and compassion they had for their employees while still coming across as the one in charge.  This is why I think I could do it. Reading people and picking up on their needs comes natural to me.   I just have to learn how to manage the personalities of employees in a way that helps them be their best while protecting myself from being ran over.  A manager doesn’t have to be a hardass 24/7 to get people to do their jobs but they can’t be a pushover either.  It’s a fine line that I want to learn about.

So, I am researching what books to read on managing and supervising, reading blogs and articles on it,  I’ve even signed up for classes on Lynda.com to help me learn some of the basics.  If I need to take a class at the local college, I can do that too.  I have nothing but time on my hands right now so this is the perfect time for me to learn as much as I can.

My son Terrance has let me bounce my interests off of him and he is always there with reminders of what I have accomplished over the years.  My son Tyler gives me examples of how he handles confrontation with his employees and is teaching me different strategies to do the same.  Both of them and their wives encourage me to pinpoint what it is that I want to do and go from there.  But that’s just it;  I always come back to what do I want to do that is realistic?  I love to write but that won’t pay for health insurance.  Sometimes I think that the things I really love to do are just a fantasy in my head.  I would love to buy a truck and a camper and go do the “Workamper” thing and make money writing and working odd jobs at the campsites.  Again, that might not carry me through the next 10 years to retirement and should probably be a side gig for later.

The cleaning industry is what I have been in since I was 18.  Starting out cleaning in a hospital Surgical Unit, patient rooms and offices, moving into the hotel industry for 6 years (my favorite!) and finally, having my own cleaning business in two states for over 20 years now. Million dollar homes in Georgia and Colorado.  My ideal job, I think, would be to land a position as a Housekeeping Director in a good hotel.  I wish there was a position where I could literally go from one hotel to another and bring them up to a high standard by training the housekeepers how to be thorough and efficient.  If you have followed the news, you would know that there is a real problem with sheets not being changed in hotels.  That bugs me to no end!

Other interests are in the health industry.  I am a certified personal trainer but it’s not where my heart is anymore.  I have worked as a Private Care Giver part-time for 15 years as well as working in the nursing homes in the Activities Department.  These things are close to my heart but not where I want to be at this point of my life.

So what do you think? I need thoughts that are outside of my own head.  I need help.        I need knowledge.  An arrow showing  “Look here”!  Anything that you think would help would be appreciated.  Thank you faithful readers!

 

 

Go Fast Or Go Home

Every week I go to Tennessee to help take care of my mom and her roommate Mary.  My Mountain bike goes with me so I can ride the trails in Athens or Cleveland with my big sister Sherrie.  This particular visit, my niece and her fiancé said they would replace my brake pads for me since it would have cost me an arm and a leg to get them replaced at a shop.  So after our 8.4 mile ride on a beautiful trail (no crashes this time) I got back to my sister’s house to find my car all set and they wouldn’t take a penny for the work.  Family can be a Godsend if you have a good one!

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You would have to know my niece Shawna to fully comprehend and appreciate the vigor she brings to my life and just how powerful her actions and words are to my emotional state of mind.  She is vibrant and daring.  Scares the living beJesus out of me sometimes but that in turn, makes my adrenaline and endorphins flood my system and I suddenly remember I am alive and well and not terrified of living on the edge (well, kind of).  This woman has no fear, or doesn’t show it if she does, and will look you right in the eye and say what needs to be said.  She can be gentle with a layer of directness or her words can meet your ears with a fierceness that lets you know she is no ones doormat. Yes, I want to be her when I grow up!

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After the work was all done it was time to catch up on life.  We stood around and chit chatted for a bit, ended up sitting on the tailgate of Todd’s truck drinking a fine “Peach Drink!”   Oh Tennessee, how I have missed you and your “Southernness”!  I wish I had snapped pictures of this but I was too engaged in the moment.  My sister even brought out two bottles of her homemade Blueberry Wine for me to take home and some big fat homegrown tomatoes!

I should have realized there was an underlying reason for the “peach drink” because before I knew it, I was in a Razor 900 going very, very fast through a field, over logs and tree branches, even up an embankment.  I kept my eyes closed for that one.

 

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That day ended with me picking hay seeds out of my hair and smiling all the way back to my moms house.  The takeaway here is,  when you are going through a hard time and depression wants to creep in or your mind is distracted by negative thoughts or fear, go do something daring!  Jump outside of that box you find so comforting and have an adventure.  Go screaming 45 miles an hour through a field in a Razor, go zip lining or anything that shakes up your adrenaline and makes you feel alive!  Retrain your mind to think great things, positive things and happy things as often as you can.  Your reality will be there for as long as it is your reality but try not to let it control  and consume you while you are trying to change it for the better.  Life is too short so go live it while you have it.

My Brother’s Son

Folks, this is how I think of my Son, living large and loving life.
I long for that bright and shining morning when we will be able to talk once again.
Until then my Son, enjoy the view !!

IMG_3002This past week has been a nightmare.  Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse.  They did.  My plan for last week was to go to my mom’s on Saturday, July 1st to help get her to the Dr. for more tests to find out why she is so sick and rapidly losing weight.  Thoughts of cancer, tumors and death starting to creep in to my heart and mind.  Trying to keep her calm and encouraged and taking some of the responsibility off of my siblings that live closer.  Instead, I look at my phone on Friday, June 30, and see several missed calls from my sister Sherrie and several from my brother Chuck.  I called my sister, thinking it had to be something bad even though her text message said to call her asap and that it wasn’t mom.

In an instant, our lives changed once again.  I had to hear the words that my oldest brother Chuck has just been told his 33 year old son was found dead in his apartment.  My mind reeled back in time when I got that phone call about my own son being found dead in his apartment and the whirlwind of emotion I was thrown into.  Now my brother was in that same storm.  I’m trying to put my finger on exactly what I felt at that moment and it was dread.  Dread for the road I knew my brother now how to walk down.  It’s a dark and painful road that seems to take forever to get down.  He is in for a rollercoaster of emotions that I never wanted anyone I love to ever experience.  But here he is.

I left immediately to go be with my mom to help her cope with the news as we knew it would add to her stress and someone needed to be there for her as well as my brother.  Chuck has an amazing wife and she is his rock.  She has a heart of gold and is smart as they come so I am grateful he has a love in his life to help him on this journey.  When I saw my brother that first day, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was prepared to hold him up if he broke down and I have never seen my brother waver emotionally.  He had his composure about him and seemed to want to focus on the good memories.  He took me to the graveyard where he wants himself and his wife laid to rest and I watched him measure in his head, laying plans for these events and I thought to myself, “He is being too strong for day one of this nightmare”.  That evening he posted some video’s on Facebook of his son Victor as a child and I knew right then that he was about to hit that wall of grief.  And he did.  The next day wasn’t so kind to his heart but he rode that rollercoaster like a boss.  That entire week was emotionally draining for my brother and his wife as they had to call people and retell the story, take calls and retell the story, make arrangements, and worse of all, they had to go clean out his son’s apartment.  No parent should have to do this.  I did it and it was torture.  You will see the spot your child took his last breath, you might even see the clothes they had on when they passed or the iv bags the EMT’s leave behind showing that an attempt to save your child’s life was made.  You will see their life as they saw fit to live it.  How they decorated, what photo’s they chose to have displayed of family and friends, the magnets on their fridge, the books on their shelves and most importantly, the mementos of their childhood they chose to hang onto into adulthood. So there was some good things my brother got out of this horrible task and it does help to balance the nightmare you feel you are in at the moment.  I have to admit, I never thought that this would touch anyone in my family again but it has and now I need to be there for my brother and counsel him anyway I can.

I guess the lesson here is; if you can help someone get through a tough time because you have been through it too, then do it.  Use what you have experienced to help someone else cope.  Help them find the strength to keep their eyes open for that pin light of hope that is at the end of the tunnel because they might not be able to see it yet, just like you couldn’t.  You know it’s there so just give them your strength to keep walking towards it.

When you lose a loved one, life will never be the same, it will just be different.  In order to heal , you have to embrace that new life in your own time and at your own pace.  Just remember:  Be Strong.  Be Brave.  Be Fearless.  You are never alone.

My Mom…A Woman Of Great Character

IMG_2119To fully explain my mother, I would have to go back to her childhood so I will just take you from a few years back to now.  My father had so many strokes during his 50’s and 60’s that he eventually became bed-ridden and mom was his care giver from about the age of 50 to 81.  As most women of her generation are.  Up at 4am and at his beckon call 24/7.  During those last 6 years she had to bathe him, feed him, turn him over in his hospital bed regularly, cut his hair, administer his medications and find things for him to do to occupy his time when he was awake.  Her friend Mary who was an RN, helped take care of my dad in his last few months and eventually moved into the home.  The last few weeks, mom and Mary watched my dad go into the semi-coma that the elderly go into as they are dying and they were both there to witness his last breath.  My mom is a woman of great character who puts everyone’s needs before her own and she seemed to handle my dad’s death with great strength so she immediately started trying to help her friend Mary who was also in poor health by this time.

Fast forward two years and my mom is now suffering from the havoc that a lifetime of nerves, stress and emotional trauma can reek on the human body and spirit.  We thought that after my dads passing maybe she, in time, would be able to enjoy some time living her life and enjoy some of the things she never got to do.  Instead, she is literally worrying herself to death.  She weighs 97.4 lbs as of yesterday ( normal weight is 130 ) and she has two more Dr. appointments over the next two weeks that will, hopefully, give us some answers.

My patience with her constant doting is very thin and I am so ashamed of how short I feel when she does the things she does.  It brings me to tears when I feel this way because I start thinking , “She just wants to spend time with me and be a part of what I’m doing ” and I  just want her to sit and relax but she can’t.  It stresses me out when someone is “underfoot” so to speak and I just don’t handle it well.  Over the last 15 years, I have taken care of many peoples elderly parents and I have all the patience in the world with them but, as I have told my clients, “It is different when it’s your own parent”.  We just have less patience with our own blood for some reason.  It isn’t fair and doesn’t make sense but it is what it is.  From this day to her last, I will not be impatient , I will let her be herself while still encouraging her to relax and unwind.  I fear she won’t be around much longer if they don’t find out what is wrong with her and get her on the mend.

My lesson to you on this is, try with all your mite to be patient and kind at all times possible.  Our families need our love and support especially when they are sick and afraid.  If they want to draw near to you, let them.  If they need your love, give it to them.  I know that not all families have good relationships so I realize this might not apply to everyone reading this but just try to find your compassion with people in general.  If you instantly get frustrated or angry in traffic because the car in front of you didn’t go when they were supposed to, take into consideration that maybe they just had a heart attack or something serious is going on.  Take the time to acknowledge other people and their needs as well as their emotional state and just BE KIND and then choose your reaction when you see the true situation.  Just remember to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, smile at strangers, be happy, healthy and kind.  Letting the world eat you alive is no way to live.

 

 

 

Reconnecting With Old Friends

For well over 12 years, I have been involved with the best group of motorcycle riders one could hope to meet.  When I was in my early forties, my husband and I started riding with the zrxoa group and we have been like family ever since.  We have crashed in Dahlonega, Ga, received speeding tickets that equaled a house payment and ate lunch together at Tellico Kats Deli every summer since they opened.  We have even gone to funerals for members that have passed away from everything from motorcycle crashes, cancer, heart attacks and sadly, even a couple of suicides.

It is no surprise to me that even as my husband and I are no longer together, this group still embraces me even though I don’t ride anymore.  The annual rally has changed over the years and the “more mature” group still meets up and rides the same routes we rode all those years ago.  Once we moved to Colorado, it was just too far to go to the rally every year but non the less, we always kept in touch through the zrxoa forum.  This year however, when the poo hit the fan with my husband, I received so much support from these guys and gals it was overwhelming.  My friends from Quebec, Shelley and Chris, invited me to stay with them in a cabin they rented during this years get together (2017) so I said, “heck ya!”

One of these nice fellas hauled me all over The Blue Ridge Mountains that day! We made great memories, talked about stuff that was really hard to talk about and the bond just continued to grow.

The last day was bitter sweet because I knew I wouldn’t get to see them again until next year, God willing.  We headed out to a BBQ place that was recommended to us by a member and boy was it good!  Joe’s BBQ in The Blue Ridge Mountains!  Here is the article I wrote on the restaurant and the pictures that I took.

                                                              JOE’S BBQ

                                                3365 E 1st St, Blue Ridge, Ga

The smell of hickory smoke and barbecue, hand crafted benches , rustic barn wood exterior with a touch of industrial decor inside, captures the senses of the hungry patron. Even the door leading inside this unique eatery seems to have a lifetime of stories engrained in it’s wood—the perfect place to dine with friends and family while visiting The Blue Ridge Mountains.
Mr. Joe greets every customer with a handshake as well as an inquiry as to where they are from. He has a “matter of fact” way of speaking to everyone including his staff, with the utmost respect. Making each person feel like family. Over the years, I have watched customer service in restaurants fall to the way side but at Joe’s BBQ you will find very attentive and respectful young servers working very hard to give the best service possible. I also hear that Ms. Tina, the Managing Cook, runs a tight ship in the kitchen. A reflection of that diligence shows in the perfect “A” rating from the Health Inspector.
Before investing in this endeavor, Mr. Joe asked a close friend and restaurant owner in Tybee Island for his advice. His friend said “Joe, I want you to get a piece of paper and a pen and write this down”: “this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done”. Joe just laughed at his friends advice but it has always been there in the back of his mind.

Mr. Joe sits on that bench 5 1/2 years later and smiles at that warning from his friend because Joe now knows that the restaurant business can be tough but he made it. What Joe might not realize however, is how many lifelong memories people have made just by stopping in and having a meal with family and friends or that people notice the kindness and interest he shows in their existence.

Reconnecting with these friends has done my heart a world of good.  Every time I step out there and face my life without my husband, I heal.  Every time I am given encouraging words, I heal. This is my message to anyone who needs to hear it.  Keep going, keep loving, keep putting yourself out there and most importantly, keep living!

The New Normal

Downsizing On SteroidsIMG_2408 2Fast forward about 3 months and this is the 10×10 space that holds the things I just couldn’t let go of.  Mostly my camping gear!  I will say, it is hard to wrap ones mind around occupying and utilizing the space of a moderate size home for your entire adult life, to efficiently fitting everything you “need” into a spare bedroom, duffle bag with laptop carrier and a good size toiletry bag.   Everything else, mind you, is in that 10×10 storage space.  Luckily, I get to keep a kayak and kickboxing stand at each sons house and my bicycle can be moved easily from place to place.  So, my point here is:  Its mind boggling, scary and sometimes very inconvenient to have to live this way but it can also be an opportunity to purge the material things from your life that were probably just taking up space anyway.  I must also say that I am not complaining about this new lifestyle because there are far too many women (and men) that go through this type of displacement and have no family to take them in.  I am very, very grateful for my sons and their wives for giving me not only shelter but love and encouragement to put one foot in front of the other and keep going!