Posted in Personal Journal Blog

Turn Off the Noise!

I made good on my commitment to daily writing like a racehorse out of the gate at the end of March. I have ideas and memories swirling in my head constantly, and only writing can silence them. I don’t mind; I’m totally used to it now. I began posting to all of my newly created social media pages and got excited when I found that my stories truly touched others and put a smile on their faces. But writers beware; the engagement and tracking of social media can stir up unnecessary mental noise and throw your creative flow off track.

I love looking at statistics, and who doesn’t want to validate being loved by new followers, likes, shares, and retweets. Tread carefully when balancing the noise that comes from sharing your stuff online and nurturing your creative flow. It’s time-consuming and distracting. As a new blogger, it didn’t take me long to figure this out, but some of you may get caught in the echoing loop, and I’m here to give you a virtual smack in the face and tell you to SNAP OUT OF IT!

Always remember this; the first rule of write club is: you don’t talk about write club (save your words and put them on paper). The second rule of write club is: you do not talk about write club! (no, seriously, don’t tell everyone your story as you’re formulating your ideas, write that shit down, or you will lose your drive to push through the process and complete anything). It’s a mental struggle and personal fight, so adapting my point to one of the most famous quotes from one of my fave movies, Fight Club, seems fitting.

So step by step, this is how it should go (of course, this is my opinion and experience):

🖊 Write daily (create a space for this, write at the same time every day so that there is a scheduled commitment. If you are sparked with an idea or feel a strong urge to write outside of that time slot, then do it. That extra creative burst on top of your daily writing time will be icing on the cake.)

🖥 Spend about 30 minutes to 1 hour on research and social media development AFTER WRITING! (I can’t stress this enough, the virtual world is noisy, and once the voices and opinions of everyone you come across online start creeping into your day, it’s hard to turn it off. Yes, sometimes reading or listening to other stuff will spark you, so make a note of it, move on and go back to write about it, or stop trolling right that minute and throw down your new idea in total).

🎥 If you create and post podcasts of your material, choose one day a week to sit in your closet rearranging your shoes in the dark and recording. Yes, I do that.

⏰ Pick a specific time of day and week to post across all of your channels, respond to comments, and boost your presence. Of course, the more media you are on, the more time-consuming this is. Before I struck my balance, which I’m still working on fine-tuning, I was looking at my post results daily, a couple of times a day. It’s exciting to see the responses and watch your numbers go up, right!? Now I look at them every three days. I had to decide whether I was working on showing my ability to build a successful social media presence as a social media marketer or whether I am a writer, just sharing my words. I chose writer. I had to define in my mind the fact that the written word means more to me than all of my clicks of validation. Again be careful and don’t get lost in the minutia of your online presence.

🧘🏻‍♀️Trust that you will make headway if you keep writing. Don’t push it. Sometimes you’ll write, and your piece will sit. Just let it marinate before you frantically throw it up on some online platform. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Writing is a bunch of, “hurry, I need to write this down before I lose my train of thought,” and then wait, and that’s ok! We all end up there. Listen to my man Dr. Seuss’s wise words pinched from our family’s favorite story, Oh the Places You’ll Go!

📚 “The Waiting Place…for people just waiting. Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for your hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite the or waiting for the wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting around perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig that curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.” wait, where was I again? See what I mean? Don’t get distracted.

🥺 Finally, don’t put too much stock in your numbers and comments. Writing is your passion, not being a social media star. Remember that finding your writing voice is an ever-evolving process, and for those brave enough to share their ideas, lives, and secrets, any negative social media chatter can quickly put out your creative fire. I get it; creatives are a sensitive breed. If you find you’re getting negativity when you post, turn it off, troubleshoot, run your pieces by someone you trust before posting (EDIT, EDIT, EDIT!!! Grammar and punctuation people is essential!!). Most of all, don’t worry about whether you’re the popular kid at school or not, don’t obsess over follows and numbers. Just write!!!!!

These are guidelines I use for myself and tips for writers who want to go public. Let’s face it, bearing your soul online is scary. Just don’t expect too much from it. Don’t forget your one desire to be a writer. Don’t forget why you do it. For me, it’s therapy, a release, and a way to quiet my mind. I hope that my words will inspire, help and heal others. I breathe a sigh of relief for having cleared some space in my head every time I complete a story. So, figure out what your writing does for you? What is your writers’ purpose? Stay true to it. No one wants to read half-hearted bullshit, so TURN OFF THE NOISE, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and dive in. Sometimes you may amaze yourself with what comes out, and other times it may just be shit. Don’t worry about it either way. Do what you love and write. ♥️

Posted in Personal Journal Blog

What do a MacBook Air and Rollercoaster have in common?

Today I got my new MacBook Air! I am so excited. I kind of went online and bought it for myself, in silver for our Silver 25th Wedding Anniversary! So It’s from me to me, from Paul. He knew about it, well he knew after I bought it. I called him and said, “hey were you thinking of buying me a MacBook Air for our anniversary? It is, after all, the perfect gift since I have been writing so much lately!” My dear husband stumbled over his words a bit and wasn’t sure if he had said he would or not. No, he didn’t, never, not once, actually he didn’t even know I wanted one. I pulled the stop lever on his confused train of thought and exclaimed, “surprise, well you DID! I am so excited! I just ordered it! Thank you so much!” And THAT, my ladies and gentlemen, is how you get it done!

So, I dedicate this little blip of a story about my new MacBook Air to my amazingly understanding and patient, although sometimes oblivious and loving best friend and husband of 25 years, Paul Anthony Brunton. I can’t imagine life without you, well I can, but I don’t want to. You are the PB to my J, the cherry on top, the gravy on my potatoes, blah, blah, blah…. I love you plain and simple, even when I don’t.

The Newly Bruntons April 20, 1996 (first wedding ceremony, story for another time).

Did I say you’re still pretty hot for a 56 yr old man? Well, you happen to be trending right now. Dad bods are so in. With those brown, gold, grey curly locks of hair, dreamy blue eyes, and that sexy, now almost American, but still a slight bit New Zealand accent, you still do it for me. Also, did I tell you how proud I am of you?

You are an amazing dad; your daughters love you more than Harry Styles, Chemistry, Running, Ice Cream, and their friend groups, but not more than me. Sorry, I can’t say that; I would lose street cred. However, I know the truth, and they secretly love you most! AND, did I tell you I adore your hardworking, dedicated nature? You amaze me. No matter what happens in our lives, you always find a way to provide for us and enjoy it while doing so. You hardly ever complain. AND you have really been killing it lately, and good on you! It’s about freaking time; all of your hard work in life should pay off.

Ahhhh young love…

Being married to you has been like one never-ending 25 yr long rollercoaster ride. Thank God I love rollercoasters!! Oh, Hey, remember we took that trip to Atlanta and went to Six flags after our wedding just to ride all of the rollercoasters? Well, I suppose that set the tone for the years to come. It was a blast, scary, exhilarating, gave me a tremendous headache, and I think once made you puke or almost puke (no, that was the motion master 360). The best part of the rollercoaster rides is that I had you to hold on to for dear life as we dropped from 0-60 in a blink. Our hearts raced, and I thought I would have a heart attack (funny that a person with an acute panic disorder loves roller coasters), and our stomachs would rise to our throats as the bottom fell out. As we rode through the more intense twists and turns, we would scream, and towards the end of the day, we just felt numb by our one-millionth ride as we fell into a breakneck pace along the winding track. We rode those steal beasts for the thrill similar to the thrill of being newly married and all of the years to follow. Yes, this marriage of ours, the Brunton Coaster or Kiwi Rooter, has given me moments where time would stand still, and I wanted to freeze those forever (hence my obsession with photography and why I have always had a camera in my hand). Our wild ride has caused me panic, pain, and at times I’ve wanted to kill you and hated you, but let’s be honest, what married couple doesn’t experience that? You married me for my passion, and baby, you got it, all of it. You married every range of emotion known to man. One minute I needed you so badly I thought I would die without you, and the next wanted to run as far away from you as I could. Yet here we are, in love, happy to boot with so much good to show for our journey together.

Paul, ma man, I am looking forward to another 25 wonderful years with you, God willing. Though time has battered us a bit, and we may not be the babes we used to be, I see you, I mean YOU, just as I did the day I took your giant hand and promised to love you forever. I’m thankful for you, and I think there’s a pretty awesome ride waiting for us ahead. Happy Anniversary!

PS. A MacBook Air and Rollercoaster have nothing in common. Except for the fact that they excite me and have cogs, gears, stuff, and things. ♥️

Posted in Personal Journal Blog

On the Fringe

I dedicate this story to all those talented hairstylists who spend hours on their feet making us pretty, listening, and acting with great enthusiasm, as if they care about the never-ending verbal puking of stories we spill on them.

Something kept tickling my face as I slept, and it was starting to annoy me. Since I had to pee anyway, I decided to go in the bathroom and investigate. I walked in and looked in the mirror with tired eyes and stared at my bangs/fringe. It had begun growing down over my eyes and was getting super annoying. I made an unconscious decision to cut it. I opened the bathroom drawer and rummaged around for the elementary school craft scissors I had seen in there at some point in time. I’m not sure if the middle of the night is the best time to decide to cut your hair. I leaned forward into the mirror. I couldn’t see because I didn’t have my contacts in or glasses on. I tried to copy the line that my excellent hairdresser had cut previously. I sleepily snipped and snipped and, when I thought I was done, pulled the drain plug out of the drain, washed all the hair down, and went back to bed. I laid there for about 10 minutes and kept feeling a tickle on my cheek. I got back up and walked into the bathroom again.

My feet were rhythmically patting their way across the tile in time to my sound sleeping husband’s snoring. I pulled out the scissors again and snipped a little bit more, and thought, “yes, this looks much better, and that tickle is finally gone.” it was probably 3 a.m. when I fell asleep. My alarm went off, and I pulled myself to the bathroom, groggy, as any middle-of-the-night hairstylist would be. I flicked on the light and squinted at the mirror. “Oh, man, who cut my hair? Dang it! I thought I dreamt that!” I have a new crisp cut fringe. I’m pretty sure my hairdresser Nathaly is going to be pretty impressed with my cutting skills. Sometimes I have a hard time determining reality from my dreams. Often, I dream In color, and it’s pretty vivid. A few incredible times, I’ve had smell-a-vision and could feel being run over by a train. I lived, of course, in real life, that is, but didn’t do so hot in my dream. Since my recent endeavor was not a dream, I’ll have to live with my trainwreck of a haircut for a bit. Oh well, this too shall pass or grow out fast.

Word of advice, don’t run with or cut your hair in the middle of the night with these.
Posted in Personal Journal Blog

Covid Vaccine Phizer Take 2 💉

When I had the first Covid vaccination, I wasn’t nervous at all. And since I was a good girl and took my vaccine bravely, I treated myself to dinner at mellow mushroom afterward. I walked over to the restaurant and had dinner by myself, and as I sat there realized I was starting to feel drunk. No, I wasn’t drinking. My head started tingling like crazy, and I began to feel a bit achy. It wasn’t anything horrible it just made me a little nervous. The whole head-tingling thing was unexpected, and I was wondering if I was going to start seeing unicorns farting glitter next. At home, I hopped in bed and hunkered down for the night, hoping that no more symptoms would come on, I was happy when I woke up the following day, and the only issues I had were a pretty sore arm and intense headache. I always have those, though, so that was no big deal.

So today, I go for my second Covid Vaccination. I decided to get the Pfizer one because that’s the one they offered, not the one I researched and actually decided to get, that’s the one I showed up, and they had available for me. So that’s the one I got, get it? They say that the second vaccine kicks your ass. I Felt pretty off with the first one, so I hope that the second one isn’t that times 10; watch the space.

Posted in Personal Journal Blog

Grackle Granola

He looked down at me from the trees over his long heavy bill. His iridescent blue, bronze feathers shimmered in the suns glow as they lay smoothly on his slender frame. He blinked his round black dotted white eyes slowly and cocked his head to the side. He appeared to be sizing something up. I had decided to eat outside in the crisp, breezy, fresh air. The sound of our old rusty tin can wind chimes sang its way to my ears and merged with the sound of me crunching granola from my cereal bowl. The morning birds perched with silent indifference among a smattering of leaves still hanging from the trees following the last cold snap. The Grackle above was probably up well before me collecting his wormy breakfast, but from the way he was staring at me and my bowl filled with wholesome nutty cereal and creamy oat milk, I had a feeling he wasn’t quite full. Unlike his winged mates, his presence was hard to ignore. His growing raucous chatter made me uneasy, so I put my hand over my bowl then covered my head with my arm as he abruptly flew from his perch. He swooped downward, and I jumped up from the patio chair, spilling the nutty contents of my bowl all over my feet. My sandles made a squishy flip flop sound as I made a run for It. Soft granola slid between my toes, and I slipped on their rubber soles. My morning coffee had kicked in, and I suddenly had caffeine jitters that shook me like a can in a hardware store paint mixer. I looked over my shoulder as I grabbed the door handle and flung the door open wide, forgetting that the dogs were scratching earlier, desperate to get out and be with me.

The cocky little Grackle landed in what was left of my granola and began pecking the sunflower seeds from the gooey pile spread across the concrete patio. Though this all happened quickly, time slowed for a split second as the Grackle blinked up at me while swallowing the tiny seeds, and then suddenly, our black lab exploded out the open door and tore past me, barking and growling. The birds perched in the trees above abruptly flew off in one giant panicked swarm. Then without hesitation and a single huge chomp and gulp, the Grackle was gone. I could hardly believe my eyes. Everyone was hungry for breakfast, it seems. In shocked disbelief, I stood there with my mouth hanging open then promptly scolded Buddy. He licked his lips as he sat down heavily in the mess that still lay on the ground, looking up at me proudly. I, in turn, looked at him with grossed-out disgust. I cleaned up and put the dogs back in the house, then sat down on the patio and attempted to find peace while processing what had just happened—what a bizarre turn of events. As I began to ease back into my day, I found what had just occurred both disturbing and simultaneously funny. I chuckled as the thought occurred to me that we should never underestimate the power of breakfast, that all-important first meal of the day. This was an unusual thought, but what the heck? This was an unusual morning.

Posted in Personal Journal Blog

Jeri’s Sandwich Theory

Every once in a blue moon, one of my close friends or the child of a close friend will fall in love and decide to get married. Yaay them. I love love, being in love, falling in love, and all that good stuff. It’s well, in a word lovely! Before I relay this story, a small disclaimer: If you’re looking for some literature with deep meaning here, don’t. This entire piece is jibberish, but I felt a bout of verbal puking coming on again this morning and had to dump it. Also, while reading this, remember I was not born with a filter, and I’m pretty sure my brain was put together by Mr. Potatoe Head. 

So my story, when someone who is bright-eyed and in love asks me what it’s like to be married, I look at them square in the eye and give them the God’s honest truth. I say, “Do you have a favorite sandwich?” The usual response is, “wait, what?” And then I say, “I need you to picture your favorite sandwich. The best one you’ve ever had. Ok, now, the way I see it, being married is like eating the same sandwich every single day. Of course, you better make sure you really like that sandwich! You will choose your sandwich and eat that SAME sandwich every day of your life, every day until the day you die.” People usually stare blankly at me, looking for more. Some may even think I’m having an aneurysm. That’s when I say, “and that’s what it’s like to be married.” 

This morning, my dear old friend Bryan and I talked about marriage (not about us getting married, we’re both already happily married or living with other people), and of course, I shared my sandwich theory with him. His response to the repetitive sandwich eating theory was, “well, the cool thing about sandwiches is that you can change the toppings; you’ve got spicy mustard, mayo, lettuce…” 

“WHOA WHOA WHOA.” I had to stop him right there. “NO, YOU CAN NOT CHANGE THE SANDWICH! The sandwich doesn’t change! You eat that exact same freaking sandwich forever!”

“But I’m sure you can cut the crust off….” he replied. To which I emphatically corrected him, having had decades of life experience under my belt, “NO! THE SANDWICH NEVER CHANGES; THE SANDWICH IS ALWAYS THE SAME!!” “Fine, you can change the way you eat the sandwich, the plate, paper towel, or cutting board you eat it off of, but I’m sorry there is no changing the sandwich,” at least in my experience. 

Bryan has some definite feelings about marriage, and now that I had left no doubt in his mind that I am indeed “one sandwich short of a picnic,” he changed the subject. 

Sadly this wasn’t the end of this train of thought for me. I hung up the phone, got up, and made my decaf espresso, which is a total oxymoron in itself. Who drinks decaf espresso to wake up!? I do. Anyway, while I was frothing my oat milk, yeah, that’s right, oat milk (my coffee alone is a clue to the twisted entanglement that is my mind), I took the sandwich theory to a whole new level. The startling similarity between marriage and that sandwich began to become clearer and clearer to me. 

Mortified, I realized that I’ve been cheating people with my advice. If it wasn’t enough that the singular sandwich theory could put someone off the thought of marital bliss on its own, it occurred to me that I had forgotten to share the many complications that come with caring for the same sandwich for eternity. The sandwich will get stale, soggy, and even worse, moldy! And what happens if someone sees you eating your sandwich and gets food envy? What if one horrible day you think your sandwich is safely sitting in the fridge with a sticky note on it saying, “Don’t touch Jeri’s sandwich!” and some nitwit pretends they didn’t see the note, flicks the little sticky piece of paper off of your beloved and takes it for themselves? And then what if your someone who doesn’t even like sandwiches? No, now that is just too much to think about.

Posted in Personal Journal Blog

We’re Headed to New Zealand!!!

This is a moment of hysterical excitement!!! My youngest daughter and I have not seen my two oldest girls since November 2019, and we just jumped through every border closure hoop you possibly can to enter the country as citizens and returning residents, and WE ARE THERE!!! I am screaming, crying, and laughing inside all at the same time. I told our middle daughter over the phone just a minute ago that we will be there in a couple of months to see her, and I couldn’t even complete sentences. I was like, and oh my God, because and can you believe it…NOT COMPLEATING SENTENCES HYSTERICALLY HAPPY!!!! I’m going to have to spellcheck the hell out of this when I’m done and before I post because I’m not sure I’m even typing in an audible language!!! Thank God for #Grammerly 

It will have been 18 months since I hugged Sabrina and Molly last, and Zoë will be freaking out to be with her two older sisters again. The time with them will be one month. Before we can hug them, we do have to be locked down in managed isolation for 14 days upon arrival; with brain piercing Covid tests every three days!!! BUT WHO CARES! (Well, I do a little bit) but really, WHO CARES? I GET TO HUG MY BABIES!!!!

Posted in Personal Journal Blog

Another COVID Quarantine Story!

We spent ten days in our home in COVID quarantine. Our 15 yr old tested positive for Covid. She had been sick off and on for about two weeks with a sore throat, slight trouble breathing when she was running, fever, and on Thursday before we went into lockdown, she had a massive migraine. She kept telling me she didn’t feel well, and I told her it was probably everything but COVID. Im not sure why I couldn’t put two and two together. I pulled her out of school and prayed she had not passed it on to anyone else. We made a quick life adjustment to lock down as a family. She went back to online schooling, and hubby set to work from home and got a lot done. I did little projects (as you do), cleaning out closets, cleaning off bookshelves, and doing my usual tidying, cooking, and enjoying shopping online for food. Whenever the boredom got to be too much, Zoë and Paul would grab the Razor scooter and ride around the house in a blaze of speed from one room to the other. We have had time to catch up with people on the phone or FaceTime. Our two oldest girls keep calling us from their haven overseas, saying, “you guys have to get out of there; it’s a mess” Yes, it’s a mess, but to me, it’s home and where their Dad makes the money that keeps us running smoothly.

Paul B AKA the flash

My husband is a New Zealander, A Kiwi. And I grew up in Florida. We have sent our two oldest daughters to live there to go to university and be with extended family. New Zealand is an excellent example of a community that comes together to get things done. They have the system of fighting COVID down pat. I’m so thankful the girls (Sabrina and Molly) are there safe and able to live everyday lives, except the odd lockdown for 3 to 7 days if Covid does pop up in a household. For the most part, New Zealand is fully open, and stress levels are low. The girls are in their second year of University and working part-time jobs. Our oldest is modeling, and they are both going out with friends, thriving and living normal college girl lives. Best of all, people in NZ are getting close to each other and making happy memories together. They have a quality of life that is fulfilling. God knows when we will get back to that here in America without it being interrupted. Some people here are anxious and angry over the entire aspect of Covid. It will be nice to strive for and have inner peace without the fear of “The Rona” looming someday.

Auckland NZ

All of us are dying to get back to living our everyday lives. Covid has messed everybody up. From not working a regular job to hugging people, socializing, traveling, going to parties, having people for dinner, and celebrating holidays, it’s been insane. The lack of activity and connectedness is causing us to forget how life used to be. We’ve been doing this for a year, and we wonder when it’s going to end. Covid is no hoax, and the harsh and terrible reality is that at this point, over 525,000 people have died. There isn’t a person alive who has a conscience or heart that can diminish that tragic fact without showing disrespect for the dead and those who loved them.

Rest in Peace 🤍

We see the light at the end of the tunnel, though. The Covid vaccine has been rolled out for everyone over the age of 16 in Florida!!! Yaaaaa hoooo!! We have movement in a positive direction! If more people are vaccinated, and we all follow CDC guidelines for reducing the spread of the virus by simply wearing our new favorite accessory, the face mask, we will decrease the chances of variants developing. Several studies say variants can render the vaccines ineffective. We are working towards life becoming normal again; it will be sometime before we lose face protection, touch each other and get cozy the way we used to.

While in quarantine, I looked at some of the research talking about children born during Covid and how they may be emotionally detached. They’re saying that school-aged children who have not been attending school physically and are online learning are going to become “the lost generation.” That sounds so sad to me. I think of the song American Pie and the prophetic lyric that says, “…oh, and there we were all in one place a generation lost in space”. Our young won’t know how to connect like we used to connect pre-Covid, be as expressive, and maybe Covid kids won’t be as emotional. Is the world becoming a colder place? What if we’re turning into one big nonfeeling AI (artificial intelligence) society and the popular kids are Siri, Alexa and Google!?

“A generation lost in space”

At the end of our ten-day quarantine, Paul and I got Covid tested. We arrived at the medical center, gave them our phone number, and then we went back and sat in our car and waited for an hour and a half. During that time, they called us on my cell and did a telephone check-in; it was all pretty interesting, well organized, and touch-free.

On the morning we drove to the testing center, I panicked that we had to get tested at all. I said, “I’d rather get Covid than get one of those long plastic swabs stuck up my nose and into my brain.” Zoe and Paul laughed and tried to tell me that it tickled, and at one point, Zoe said, “it actually feels pretty good.” Suspiciously I replied, “oh ok, right”! The wait was silent and, for me, unbearable. We sat there looking at our phones to pass the time. Then mine rang, and I jumped a little bit.

We checked in, and a nurse took our vitals. Another nurse was peeling the plastic wrapper of a swab. As he came near me, I blurted out, “I’m so nervous, I think I’m gonna throw up”! He didn’t even flinch. Nobody assured me that it would be okay or that it wouldn’t hurt. They just smiled at me awkwardly, leaving me feeling more uneasy. I visualized myself lying on the table being probed by aliens in a dark room, floating somewhere out in the unknown universe. Was I going to walk out of there with my brain still intact? I pictured it being stabbed like a marshmallow and pulled out through my nostril. When I saw our 15 yr old get her Covid test ten days before, they didn’t use the long swab you see on TV. They used a fat short one that went up your nose just a little bit. I hoped to get that test! Zoë made getting it look so easy.

Low and behold, the short fat swab was what I got too; I was elated!! I was happy I was going to get to keep my brain. As the nurses walked out of the room, I said, “Oh, thank you, God! I’d been praying for that test”. They looked at me like I was crazy if they only knew.

Paul and I were taken to another room to wait for the results. I started thinking about the whole procedure and how it felt. I looked at Paul and whispered, “does it sound weird that I think that felt really good“? “I mean, it actually felt nice.” TMI disclaimer: I’m one of those people that will take a piece of toilet paper and wind it up really, really long and thin, then clean the inside of their nose till it “shines like the top of the Chrysler building.” Yeah, I’m that person you hung out with in school who would ask you ten times a day, “is there anything in my nose, in my teeth, or on the back of my pants”!!

When I was little, I watched police shows, and they would always tell their informants to “keep your ear to the ground and keep your nose clean” that was cop talk. Seeing that my television partially raised me, I used to think it was essential to keep your nose clean. It was doing the right thing. Hence my delight over the thorough nasal scrub. I felt like the nurse administering my Covid test was doing me a favor. I left there relieved, happy, and clean as a whistle. Our tests came back negative; we were clear to leave quarantine. All and all, the time went by pretty fast once the days started running Into one another. But we were disease-free. Ahhhhhh, I and my household could breathe easy, in more ways than one.

Posted in Personal Journal Blog

Crazy and Unashamed

Have you ever felt so lost and bored that you googled yourself trying to find the person you used to be? Decades ago, before you became who you are now? The person before computers or social media. The person before rent, bills, marriage, mortgage, and motherhood? The person filled with dreams and a vision. Did you find them? Did you see that person you keep hearing about when you run into a friend from the past? Did you find an old conversation about you archived in the depths of the digital ether world? No? Search came up empty? Not there? And if you did find yourself do you recognize the pixelated person starting back at you from the screen?

Life moves on, and for some, our blueprint changes so much we are almost unrecognizable to the outside world. After a while, you may not even be sure you know if you’re an authentic version of yourself. This lost feeling is unacceptable but true for so many of us. The only person that can pull you out of that rabbit hole is YOU!

I am only 53, and I have heard that everything vibrant and stunning about me is an ancient memory. I hear these things repeatedly said to my daughters. “Your mother used to be a babe,” “oh my God, you were such an amazing singer,” “oh, you used to write the most captivating stories!” I’m over it. I smile and listen, thinking, are you serious? I’m standing right here”! “Am I invisible? I can actually hear you!” Hey, newsflash, I’m still alive and kicking, not for everyone and a friend to anyone. I have three powerful daughters, and my husband still loves me. I’ve done “stuff and things!” I’ve been a place or two! Ok, it’s time for a reboot. I’m rewriting the old me with a new me. Creative, carefree, and indulgent. Follow me, come along for the ride, don’t come along for the ride. Like me or don’t like me, It’s your choice. Not to be rude or anything, but it took me 53 years to be able to say, I don’t care! I’m going to jump in the driver’s seat and own this bitch. I’m tired of riding along down everyone else’s road. Get out of my way. I’m about to open a can of crazy and unashamed on the world.

Posted in Personal Journal Blog, writing

#GetThePlasticOuttaHere!

When a lot of us came back from evacuation following hurricane Irma, we found that our yards were filled with knocked-over trees, brush, and branches everywhere! Some neighborhoods were flooded, people had lost their homes completely, electricity was out, telephone lines were down; it was a real mess. The Naples water table had been contaminated and our water was not potable. A lot of people had stocked up on plastic bottles or jugs of water while preparing for the hurricane’s arrival.

I remember growing up in Naples during hurricane season and one of the things that my mom used to do when a hurricane was coming was sterilize and scrub out the bathtub. She would fill it with water in case we needed it for the toilet, whenever we needed to flush it. We never ended up using the water in the tub but it was a precaution in case our water supply was cut off as a result of the storm. If you’ve never been in Florida or any of the southern states for that matter, during hurricane season then you might not be familiar with hurricane preparedness. Getting ready for a hurricane here is similar to getting ready for a blizzard or a snowstorm up north. However, in Florida, we board up our windows or pull down or hurricane shutters, instead of putting chains on our car tires.

People run out to the store and buy canned food, water, and maybe charcoal for the grill. When I was a child, we used to buy little tins of butane for chafing dishes or fondue pots and oil for our oil lamps. Yes, seriously, we had oil lamps; they were made out of clear glass with a fabric wick, and the oil was golden yellow or pink sometimes. I don’t even know if anybody has those anymore. To this day, we fill our cars and propane bottles with gas and buy flashlights, tons of batteries, and first aid kits. Those who can afford it purchase nice new shiny generators that run off fossil fuel and can power an electric air conditioning unit, if you have one handy. This is super practical and brilliant. I wish we would’ve thought of that before Irma hit.

You see, hurricane season is during the hottest months of the year here in Florida (August, September, and October). Naples is down at the bottom of the state. It’s damp, hot, muggy, and sticky, and there is no going outside to cool off when there’s no electricity. We have mosquitoes by the millions, more little bloodsucking insects than people.

We get hurricane days off school in Florida the same way kids have snow days up north. I looked forward to those as a youngster, what school-aged child and teacher or two didn’t? We would prepare the house while listening to the radio and watch the news waiting for the meteorologist from the Florida Hurricane Center in Miami to come on. I would check outside periodically to see how the sky looked. Yes, that’s right, we would check to see if the sky was turning a gray-green hue because sometimes this indicates a tornado being close by. We kept our eye out for funnel clouds, and if there was an announcement that there was a tornado in our area, we had to take shelter. We would take our battery-powered radio into the tub with many pillows and wait for the announcement that it was all clear to come out. We didn’t have the weather channel. We didn’t have a weather app or read weather radars on our phones. I’m talking about when we didn’t have computers in our homes in the 70s and 80s. We used to get updates on the hurricane’s speed and position every half hour through a “special bulletin” either on the television or again on the radio if the tv wasn’t working. I would sit underneath the dining room table with my pillow and blanket in a central part of our house, far away from any windows that could shatter. Anxiously I would listen for the coordinates announced by the broadcaster and plot them on the little hurricane map in the back of the Florida phonebook!! Does anyone else remember that? Please don’t tell me I was the only person nerdy enough to sit there with my marker, all through the night plotting the course of our impending doom as some wild as hurricane approached us? It was scary and exciting at the same time.

When the eye of the storm approached, it was silent and still. We would go outside to secure things. I always felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, emerging cautiously from her farmhouse after flying through the black and white sky and landing with a massive bump on top of the wicked witch of the East. I was so disappointed when I got out the door to find that I wasn’t going to be greeted by a bunch of cheery, singing munchkins offering me loads of candy and gifts. No, it was those pesky mosquitoes and loads of branches and palm fronds. Those were the days, young innocent, naïve, and thinking that the event of a hurricane was exciting and fun.

Anyway, back to the reason I started this story, during Irma, which was in 2017. We didn’t have any water at the house, but my husband had a stockpile of it at work!! I was so thankful and went with him to pick some up. I don’t know what I thought he had on hand in the shop, but it was not what I had expected. It was a mountain of individual PLASTIC BOTTLES, WRAPPED IN PLASTIC!!! As a stared at the heap of water, a movie reel of world disaster playing through my mind, and I pictured a little atomic mushroom cloud exploding over my head! I said, “man, I don’t want that!” Paul replied, “well, what else are you going to drink? Where are you going to get water”? Stuck between a spring rock and a plastic hard place, I hated to take it to the house but had no choice.

Months after Irma had left her mark on our state, there were still plastic bottles of water floating around our home and in the refrigerator. I kept seeing them laying half-drunk all over the place. Why were my family members still drinking or just opening these??!! What happened to glasses and the filtered water from the fridge? I said, that’s it! #gettheplasticouttahere!

Knowing that plastic takes up to 1,000 years to degrade in a landfill and enough plastic is thrown away every year to circle the earth four times, I had decided to wage war on plastic water bottles. It’s a war that will be hard-won if at all. We have left a mammoth size carbon footprint stamped across Mother Earth’s heart and the repeated blows are taking her down. I’m pretty sure my husband and children think I’m over the top about this but I know I’m not. You see there will continue to be hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods; more than ever before because we are making our planet sick. The intensity of the storms we will weather will get stronger and stronger until mother earth just totally loses her s**t.

I see the rich spending trillions and trillions of dollars building rockets to send us to make homes on Mars, a place where there’s no breathable air for human beings. And I wonder, “why are people trying to find a way off of our planet with their money, instead of spending their money to come up with ways to fix our problems here, on earth where we belong? It doesn’t make sense to me. I have always believed that the only way to fix a problem is to work through it, not go around it or, in this case, Rocket Off into space away from it. I take the matter of caring for mother earth very seriously because I want my children and grandchildren to live long, healthy, happy lives. I want them to grow and thrive and discover the beauty in this world that we have and still have the ability to share with others. We need to change yesterday, decades ago. We can’t evacuate from the earth like we’re evacuating from a hurricane. We’re past the preparedness stage, and the reality is, unlike the beloved character Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we are not going to be able to click our heels three times say the words “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home” and magically return to the place we once loved and the people we shared it with. The storm is coming, and there will be no pulling down shutters on this one.

AUTHORS NOTE: We can change the ending of this story. The only requirement for a happy ending is that EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US CHANGE OUR WAYS, today, right this minute.

Posted in writing

FATISM

I have always noticed clear discrimination between skinny or athletic people and overweight/fat people. I am built like my mom was. Voluptuous, curvy, buxom, whatever you want to call it, I’m it!! I watched my mom my whole life struggle with her weight. She went to the gym; she tried every diet anyone could ever be on. She read countless books and fasted; she did it all. For short periods she would have unsustainable success. She would look thinner, but not ever skinny, for about six months, and then the weight would come back, and the battle would begin again. It was hard to watch her as she struggled with her emotions over feeling unloved because of her size.

Carole Sue was a beautiful woman, yet her self-esteem was shattered. She had the glamor of Elizabeth Taylor, with striking brown eyes that had a light blue ring around them and a smile that would light up a room and, oh my God, her laugh! That amazing jolly joyful laugh was infectious. She was strong and worked hard. She did have her demons, though, drowning her pain of abandonment with wine or Manhattans and focusing on her battle with the bulge. She always dressed stylishly even though plus-size clothes had not always been readily available until recently. Now fashion has begun to truely embrace the human body’s diversity and is slightly sympathetic to the fact that not all women’s dress sizes run between a 2 and 12. (Sometimes 14 in the less discriminating designer stores).

My mom told me that sometimes she thought she was unloveable because of her size. That’s sad! She said men always said to her that she had a beautiful face and nice legs. She thought they were saying that because they found the parts in between undesirable. When she died, I felt relief for her as she lay in the hospital bed. She looked peaceful, light, and free from her uncomfortable body. But, this story isn’t about my mom. I’m simply saying I get it, and I have experienced the same fat-a-phobia as she and other voluptuous women have.

As defined by Merriam Webster, it’s called: “fatism noun fat·ism | \ ˈfat-ˌi-zəm Definition of fatism: prejudice or discrimination against fat people.”

I used to be insecure about it and, at one period in my life, struggled with anorexia (a story for another time). Now I am secure and just keenly aware. Coping with a large body size takes up a lot of headspace. You feel it when you move, when you’re out in public, when you meet someone athletic or just plain skinny. You feel it even when your shopping for an outfit to “knock em dead” in. It weighs heavy on your mind. Yes, that was a pun. And darn it, I know it’s not punny.

I love the moment in Pitch Perfect when Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) Is asked about her name,

I get it. I can relate. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve said it too. I’ve felt it and heard it. I also point out my imperfections before anyone else can.

I’m stunned at how shallow some people are sometimes. One evening a mother, of our middle daughter’s friend, came to pick up her child, and I invited her in for a glass of wine. She was a small, attractive, tennis-playing woman who hung with the gossip moms of Naples. There is definitely a defined group, trust me. They know who they are, and I’m pretty sure I’m not a member of said group. Anyway, I tried to develop a relationship with her because our two girls were so close. She sat at my kitchen table while I cooked, with a glass of wine in hand, and began to spout out the local goss. She told me about a mom she knew who was going through a divorce. She said, “she is really nice, but she is overweight, kind of fat.” This was not the first time she’d made comments like this to me. I thought, what the fuck does that have to do with ANYTHING?! Was she insinuating that this was the reason her husband was dumping her? Then she said, “she’s a kind of large woman, but I’m friends with her.” My jaw dropped. I am 5’7” and 224 lbs. what about me? Why is she sitting in my kitchen? I’m a large woman!! I must be really nice?! I’m not a violent person, but I suddenly went red. In my mind, I went full Yosemite Sam from Loony Tunes on her ass. I wanted to punch her little tennis skirt-wearing body through the kitchen wall and certainly didn’t want to share my wine with her!! I could reverse it “she’s a tiny woman, kind of skinny,” but I wouldn’t be adding that she was a nice person. Yeah, switching it doesn’t quite have the same sting. I am afraid I could only say she was an ignorant, shallow woman. And that was the end of that friendship endeavor. WOW!! What the heck!! I fed her and kept smiling. I shooed her out the door the minute she took her last sip of wine and breathed a sigh of relief that she was gone.

Fat, fat, fat, fat. Man, the word echoes in my ears. The first time I ever felt conscious of this state of being was when I was at my sister Robin’s wedding. It was around 1977. She was 18, and we were out on her husband’s family farm having a field wedding. At the reception, I sat on my oldest brother’s lap, happily eating a big spoon full of icing off of the wedding cake. I was blissfully unaware of what was about to happen. My brother said, “you know you’re getting pretty fat.” I don’t remember what I said but I remember him slapping the spoonful of icing out of my hand. He looked so angry. I felt so stupid, ashamed for eating that horrible treat and being happy about it. I ran into the house crying and had no idea that this would be the first of many times I would feel this shame and sadness over my body or relationship with food.

We moved to Florida right after the wedding. My mom and I drove there from Ohio. It was a lonely time. I felt like my whole family was gone. Robin was married and gone; I’m not sure where Tami was; Bobby stayed in Ohio with my dad and, well, my Dad, yeah he was well and truly gone. It was clear I was not a priority for him. He had someone new to love, and it wasn’t us. Florida was hot, and I didn’t have any friends. I played a lot with my niece Shawn who is 5 yrs younger than me, but I always felt anxious being at her house with my older brother. Yes, the spoon of icing slapping brother, a real peach. He drank a lot. My mom had to work, and she was trying to find her way in this new environment.

Our TV became my friend. It was cool inside on the couch, and my new friend talked to me, made me smile, and took me away from the new life we had. I was a couch potato, eating frozen pizza, hotdogs with cheese melted on them, candy that I rode my bike to 7-11 to get, and any snack food that was lying around. I was like any other kid who liked to snack and watch TV. It didn’t have a good effect on me, though. I was at that age between 10 and 12, where you gain a bit before you reach puberty, and I was; as a result, a chubby girl, just as my brother had said. My mom struggled to find me clothes that fit at Sears, Kmart, and sometimes Goodwill. I wished I could squeeze into the thin girl sizes. But they never quite fit my shape. When I got to Gulfview Middle School, I wanted so badly to wear Levi corduroys, Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt, or Jordache jeans as all the popular girls did, but they weren’t in our budget, and they didn’t fit me. Every young girl wanted to look like Brooke Shields in her jeans on the pages of Teen Magazine or extensive billboard campaigns, just teasing us with the flirtatious line: “Do you know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.”

A critical moment that scarred me was when a couple of football-playing boys in middle school called me p-p-p-porky repeatedly. I was ashamed again. I felt ugly and less than the skinny girls. Anyone would. Enough was going on at home that made me feel bad without having to deal with this too. I had found my singing voice by this time, and the band and choir teachers made me their pet project. They allowed me to use the practice rooms during lunch, and there I would sit quietly, alone at the piano keyboard, and eat my liver worst with mustard (not the most popular kids lunch) or PB&J sandwich. I was scared of the world inside the lunchroom and even more afraid of the courtyard where everyone gossiped or played when they were done eating.

At one point, I had made a friend, a good friend. She, too, was a chubby, loving girl. She talked me into eating with her and her friends in the lunchroom, and I did. It was so exciting having this newfound confidence and the feeling of belonging to her friend group. She had one friend, in particular, Renee, who was a small girl, shy and soft-spoken. These two girls made me feel like I belonged for the first time. And then one day, my pudgy fellow friend didn’t come to school. Renee showed up, distressed, quiet, and without her sidekick. She was hurting inside because Jurine had tragically died. She had been sitting on the easement grass near her house playing, and a drunk man ran her over. It was a hit and run. They say he didn’t stop because he thought he had hit trash cans. Our friend was dead, and our hearts were so heavy. I couldn’t cope with the loss and talked less and less to Renee. I went back to the practice rooms. Music teachers and music remained my friends. I ate my food there in peace and didn’t feel ashamed because there was no one to mock or judge me. I didn’t mention this to anyone at home.

I have told my girls about this sad and shame-filled time in my life. I told them a story about some football players sticking me on top of the school lockers, just outside the gym. The buses were lining up on the backfield loop, and everyone was leaving. I didn’t have a bus to catch because I could walk home. We lived on 7th street near the school in apartments that NCH owned. If you were an employee there, you could live in the apartments with a discounted monthly rent. My mom was a bookkeeper at NCH, so we qualified. Anyway, I remember making light of being put on top of the lockers to minimize the shame, but I honestly was afraid to climb down. It seemed so high off the ground. I lay up there helpless as kids walked by laughing on their way off Campus. The halls emptied. It got quiet and time ticked by. We didn’t have cell phones back then, so I couldn’t send a text to my mom or sisters saying, “Hey! I’m at the school stuck on top of a locker; save me!!! No, I just laid there and looked at the ceiling in defeat. P-p-p-porky played over and over in my ears. And then I heard a voice. Coach Stevenson was locking up the gym. He lived in our apartment building. I thought, miracle of all miracles!!! He said, “Hey, who is that on top of that locker? Climb down from there”! I said, “it’s me, coach, Jeri Moore, I’m stuck”! He couldn’t believe his eyes and seemed pretty compassionate as I told him my story while he helped me down. I rode with him to our apartment building. I knew his girls; they were my age. He seemed to be a good dad, and he had just recently divorced. He had struggles too. I knew this because I heard those good old gossipy Naples moms talking. My mom would be getting off work soon, and I just wanted to get home.

I wouldn’t say I liked school. And for the years after my dad had left, home felt like shaky ground. Nothing was secure, people’s emotions and actions felt unpredictable, and there were times I didn’t feel safe there either. But the TV would always have the same shows at the same time each day and night, and even if no one came home, I could count on my favorite TV friends to be there, along with the frozen pizza or hot dogs from the fridge. They were always there to give me a feeling of comfort and warmth. I would settle in and skip my homework. In fact, for many years, I didn’t even bring my school books home. I felt it didn’t matter if I got bad or good grades. My sister Tami was the only person who asked about my report card anyway. She’s the only one who would scold me about my grades and make me question my ability to learn or have common sense. Besides that, it was pretty safe to say I could settle In front of the TV, and there would be no threat of being pulled out of my safe, comfortable world of imagination (unless I had a voice lesson or performance). Everyone had their own lives to concentrate on.

In the fall of 2017-2018, our youngest girl, Zoë started 6th grade at Gulfview. She was so excited to be attending her mom’s school. On the night of the open house, she had so many cool things to show me, but there was one crucial thing that she wanted to share. Remembering my story about being put on top of the lockers there, she pulled me to the hallway where her locker was and said, “Mum, look, they made the tops of the lockers slanted so no one can put anything on top of them.” I said, “that is wonderful, Zoë.,” She replied, “don’t you remember what happened to you”? Of course, I remember it. Tiny scars fade, but they rarely, completely disappear and are forgotten. Then she said, “yes, well I guess they can’t do that anymore.” In her mind, it was a small victory. I am sure there were several reasons for putting a slant on top of the lockers. To us this an excellent feature to add. I remember those days and those kids and and have forgiven them. I even look back and chuckle to myself about how stupid it all was, yet i still feel a slight hint of sadness for that awkward middle school girl.

Written by Jeri Moore Brunton

Me in 8th grade at Gulfview Middle School
Posted in writing

Paper Vs. Digital Journals

Experience and Opinion

I always struggle with whether I should write my deepest darkest secrets, desires, and memories on paper or digitally. Let us consider the pros and cons of both options. When writing digitally, I can write as quickly as my thoughts process, and it flows like the spoken word. Digital journals can be loaded to the cloud and will not get lost in the shuffle. If you have had a life anything like mine, eventually, after years of writing, it feels like you are toting your library around the world. This can be a heavy job.

Fun fact, I am left-handed. No, the rumors of left-handed people are not valid. We do not write with the hand of the devil, and we are not possessed. Most left-handed people are right-brained, and some say, “the only ones in our right minds!” When writing digitally, I can write freely and cleanly, which is hard to achieve on paper as a lefty. I turn my journal cockeyed, hold my pencil in a fist hold, curl my hand above the writing line and pull my pen across the paper, trying as hard as I can not to smudge the ink or get oil from my palm on the page. When my pen hits the oil slick from my greasy little mitt, my pen stops working. This interrupts my flow of thought. My cockeyed handwriting and smudge paper problems are probably the number one reason I prefer digital journal writing over paper journaling. Typing my thoughts out is much less painful than writing them out, especially on those days when I have a lot to say. If you have ever experienced writer’s cramp, you will understand what I mean. That feeling when your hand muscles get fatigued from the repetitive motion of writing, pressing down on the paper, and for me, having a death grip on the pen! A digital journal will also allow for quickly placing photos in a story. Adding a visual makes your publication a bit more interesting and will give others a glimpse of the memories you are working so hard to preserve.

I think it is clear so far that I lean positively towards digital journal writing over paper journaling. But what about those fancy paper journals that are so fun to collect?! I admit that I have spent a pretty penny on beautiful journals over the years, stacks of books that I plan to fill with all my dreams, desires, secrets, angst, joy, and personal history. My journal is my therapy and is a safe place to blow off steam. It is also my preserved thoughts that I have intended to leave behind for my family when I am departed from this earth, assuming they want to read what I had to say.

I am a sucker for a pretty journal. I walk into a stationery shop or bookstore and make a beeline for the journal section. Oh, the fabulous covers, some with prints by classic artists, flashy fonts, affirmations, quotes from the great authors and poets who inspire me, words of hope intended to help lift you and get you through the day. Oh, and how about those engraved leather covers that feel like butter to the touch?! Oh, the smell of a fresh new journal. The warm earthy aroma as I flip through each crisp virginal page unspoiled by the touch of anyone else but me. The sensory joy that comes from using a paper journal goes far beyond the look and smell. Think of all the coloring you can do in it! If you are a creative person, then paper journals are not just a place to pen your most extraordinary thoughts. They are also a place where you can insert some artistic flare.

Now I’ll point out where paper journaling surpasses the digital journal. You can create either a “doodling journal,” or for those who use the left and right sides of your brain, are uber-organized and like to categorize your thoughts, you can create a “bullet point journal”! The “bullet point journal” is about more than making pretty penned headers with hand-drawn artistic fonts. No, the bullet point journal is about total thought organization. You tell your story as you go through the day, take meeting notes, keep track of important dates, create cute little calendars and fill each page with colors and fun decorative doodles. There are even journals shared between you and someone else. The latest shared journal I have come across and love is the “You and Me” or “Two-Person” journal. My teen and I shared one of these. She would write down her pubescent middle school struggles and fears, which would be too awkward to talk about face to face, leave it on my dresser at night, and I would write my thoughts, concerns, personal experience and advice, and hopes when it was my turn. Then in the morning, I would leave it in her bedside table drawer. This shared journal was an anonymous way of helping her navigate the wild jungle of crazy teen brain, pimples, sex topics, and smelly friends. Now that is something not as easily done digitally. The physical act of passing the journal made it feel we were members of a secret club all our own.

To wrap up, I’d say that there are pros and cons to both types of journals. Coming to this conclusion means that I will continue to tote my personal library of journals around the world with me, and my phone will be in hand for any lengthy brain dumps.”

Posted in musicians, writing

It’s Not Just A Song

When I listen to music, it sparks me. I feel a range of emotions that sometimes overwhelm me. It’s not just the tune or the lyrics, but sometimes it’s the artists, the fact that they made it. I wonder, what sets me apart from them? I look at the career i had and think of the “what if’s,” and dig deep to find what’s left in me. I get up and sing, memorize and internalize the words. I sing them loud and make them mine. I want to be heard! I want a voice, their words, their perfection, their power of fame. I have the need to stand for something greater than what I am right this moment. I want to be seen and my feelings, dreams, and beliefs to be considered.

I am driven to share my story, to connect the way the artists I’m listening to are. They pull me in. I bend my mind and ride the melody on a wave that changes with every song that plays on my HomePod. When I listen to music, it inspires me to write, dream, live and soar. I close my eyes and imagine what it would be like to be adored, to be carried away on a sea of cheering voices, singing the words that came from my mind back towards me—visualizing the future only to sadly arrive to silence.

I don’t just put on a song and relax; I can’t. It has never been that for me. Listening to music is a reminder of every dream and aspiration my mother, family, and teachers ever had for me, for my future and their future. It stirs up where I’ve been, where I was headed, which way I turned, and where I am now. Music is in my blood, a blessing and a curse that I wish I could cut from my soul at times. It is an eternal desire for greatness and a blow of crushing defeat. Sometimes it takes me soaring as high as the sun and other times drops me to rock bottom regret. My melody, always bright enough to propel me to the stars; Only to fall short and flash across the sky, making one last wish on its dimming flicker.

It’s not just a song on a Saturday morning as I sip a cup of coffee or ride in my car. My car, the one place I still crank it up, could drive for days and sing thousands of songs, one after another, breathlessly, endlessly, numbingly baring my soul. The music moves and simultaneously grounds me, glueing me to a single moment. It sends me flowing backward and forward in time and, with a single note, can set my life flashing before my eyes. It is rebirth, heartbreak, joy, love and delight, death, praise, and worship. Music is so much, wrapped up in one single simple pattern of rectangular bars, little black notes, dots, and sticks floating over a white page or just spinning in my brain.

When I listen to music, I see a snapshot of every moment that coincides with the particular lyric I am listening to. My life rises and falls with the melody. When I listen to music, it is more than just a sound; it is the fiber of my being that no one else will ever experience or understand because their not me. My memories shape the unique way I hear, sing, feel, remember, see and understand music. Music has asked a lot of me and also given me so much. It has scared me, freed me, made me wild, disciplined, and moved me. It has taken me not just emotionally but physically from state to state and country to country. It has introduced me to the loves in my life and taken me away from them. Taunted me until I’d spill my secrets or to bend the truth to tell my story. When I listen to a song, I hear the sound, and I brace myself as the waves of audible art surge over me in its power, and it penetrates me. In wonder, I’m transported. In all honesty, when I listen to music, it’s not just the tune, the lyrics, or the Artist; it’s everything.