Posted in Personal Journal Blog

Everything is still

Now that our romantic weekend in Manhattan is over, everything is still and quiet. Zoe has returned to school, Paul is hard at work, and I am working hard to get my feet on the ground with my new digital marketing business @MRKTcommunications. What I really need is work! So if anyone needs someone to manage the online presence of your business or organization, I’m your gal! (small shameless plug for the new brand).

I have been sitting here looking at the photos from our whirlwind weekend in the big apple and am so thankful to have had that ALONE time with my husband. It’s so important, especially when the other distractions of life sweep us in different directions. I’m savoring the crazy late-night drinks with Karaoke, walks through Chelsea dreaming of living in one of those stunning row houses, fantastic pasta at Zia Maria’s, people watching in central park and the beer garden, standing atop the One World Observatory, watching police dogs pose for Christmas photos in the Oculus, cruising on the ferry to see lady liberty and Ellis island and snuggling in bed watching the 100-foot wave and A Boy Called Christmas. And we can’t forget our last morning where we trained down to the Brooklyn Bridge and took a sunrise stroll over to Dumbo where we had the most fantastic coffee and breakfast at Butler, then zoomed up to grand central station for a photo op and then hoofed it to see the tree at Rockefeller Center.

Yes, we had one of the most magical times. The best part of the trip was watching the amazement on Paul’s face every time we turned a corner. This man was a trooper. I had him walking 10-14 miles a day for four days. When we left.our house I told him we were driving through Florida to NC to hike and camp. I wish you could have seen the look of confusion on his face when I pulled into the Fort Myers airport long-term parking lot. It was great! He was so relieved we weren’t going hiking because he’s not a fan. We may not have hiked the wilderness but we did urban hike. He says urban hiking is excellent because you have distractions to keep your mind occupied. I agree, but nothing beats the lush green and earthy smell of the trails.

So I’m home, looking at the floor because it needs sweeping again, getting ready to make my bed and get my 10,000 steps in; then I plan to practice some singing and do some more writing. Everything is still, but I can’t stop moving; my mind doesn’t let me for too long. Oh, and hey, I’ve lost 12 lbs in 6 weeks with Noom! So that movement is getting me positive results. I’m loving life.

Posted in Personal Journal Blog

This Is Me!

This Is Me!

If I had a theme song, what would it be? Boy, that’s a hard one for someone who loves music as much as I do to answer, especially if you’re asking me to choose just one. My theme song would have to be a music mash-up. I would pick a song that might say I light up the room when I enter it, only because that’s what my mom used to tell me. I loved that woman. If my theme song were to honor how she thought of me, I would choose the song I played the piano and sang in my first solo performance at Naples Park Elementary School in my 4th-grade choir class by Debbie Boone, “You light up my life.”

Or maybe my theme song is what I hear in my head as I perform my duties as a mother. I shout out orders to my captain/husband while leading and keeping my little soldiers in line like Wonder Woman in 1984, fighting the war to end all wars. Picture me walking down the hallway slamming the doors on my children’s messy bedrooms and kicking toys, school books, and clothes out of my path, turning my back on the evil mess. I walk in slow motion shaking my head with a cocky grin followed by a pyrotechnic explosion erupting in a blaze at the end of the hallway behind me! That theme song would be by Hans Zimmer composed for “Wonder Woman 1984”.

My theme song could also show my tender side—the side of me where I love deeply, wholeheartedly, and with lifelong devotion. My husband is a happy lovable teddy bear but not big on saying constant sappy I love you’s. I’ve grown accustomed to his minimalist expression of the L-word, but every once in a while, I pull out the big guns and play the song that we did our first wedding dance, too, to see if I can get some mushiness out of the man. Now that I think of it, maybe this is more of a theme song for our marriage, not me. Anyway, honey, “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?”

Then there are those times when I want to be with the girls, my sisters, nieces, and friends. This domestic Goddess still contains a lot of party energy that rarely gets tapped into these days. When I get to let my hair down and jettison some of what’s left in this pent-up party tank, I dance like no one is looking (or at least I hope no one’s looking). Yeah, that’s right, one glass of wine or two gin and tonics, and I’m a madwoman dancing on the lowest coffee table I can find (because I just can’t hop up on a bar as I used to and I would be doing this in a living room at this point because I can’t stay awake long enough to reach the rowdy wee small hours of the morning at a raging night club where you would actually see people dancing on a real bar). Come on, just picture me all punked out and off my face tearing it up to my fun side theme song, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cindy Lauper, or better yet, “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse (RIP). (It’s hard to imagine, but this really happens, maybe once every ten years).

And finally, there’s my day-to-day Jeri theme song, one that keeps me going, boosts my confidence, and reminds me that I am all that I need to be for me and no more. The song that I can sing scream and cry out all at once, and it awakens any part of me that may feel weak or need a helping hand. Yes, this is my newfound anthem and real-life theme song. I love the chorus,

“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown ’em out I am brave, I am bruised I am who I’m meant to be, this is me Look out ’cause here I come And I’m marching on to the beat I drum I’m not scared to be seen I make no apologies, this is me”

Yep, the song that suits me and my life most at the moment is “This is me” sung by Keala Settle and The Greatest Showman Ensemble. And on that powerful note, I drop the mic, and I’m out.

You can find my music mash-up songs on YouTube by clicking the bottom links.

• “You Light Up My Life” https://youtu.be/b07-yKnKRMQ

• “Wonder Woman 1984” soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer. https://youtu.be/HkYCoMAINus

• “Girls just want to have fun” https://youtu.be/PIb6AZdTr-A

• “Rehab” https://youtu.be/KUmZp8pR1uc

• “This is Me” https://youtu.be/wEJd2RyGm8Q

WHAT’S YOUR THEME SONG?

Posted in Personal Journal Blog

Five Tips for Rollerblading Over 50

I used to rollerblade daily. Everywhere, for miles, in flat Florida or down the steep Tennessee hills. I was addicted to rollerblading and running for years. I learned to rollerblade when I was 23 and stopped after I had my first child 22 years ago (I did rollerblade 10 miles one time since then in 2012, I don’t know how I did it).

Lately, I have been dying to run and get back into rollerblading. I have missed the charge I got out of both activities as a fit young woman. I also miss the body I had (pre-babies 22 years ago). My body didn’t quite bounce back after children, and no matter how much I have worked out or dieted, I have never been thin again. At this point, I don’t care if I’m skinny; I just want to have fun, fly across the pavement with the wind blowing through my hair, feel young and be fit again.

For this past Mother’s Day, our 15 yr old daughter and my lovely husband gifted me with Zetrablade Elite W Rollerblades! We drove 1 hr to the only store close to us that had my size and bought those with a full array of padding. I also looked for ski poles, but the store was out of stock. (My daughter didn’t want me to work back into blading with ski poles anyway. She said, “once a ski poler, always a ski polar.” She may be right).

We found an excellent park on the waterfront with a mile loop of smooth pavement. I suited up and prepared to wow my family with my rollerblade skills. I always bragged about how I used to jump things and do extreme downhill blading with no fear. I put on my new wrist guards, knee pads, elbow pads, and finally, my rollerblades. The moment of truth had arrived. I stood up and immediately felt beads of sweat begin to roll off of my face. I hadn’t even moved yet. I looked at my family with an awkward smile and said, “I got this, it’s ok, hold on, hold on.” It turned out the “truth” at that moment was that I was no longer fearless. I suddenly became aware of how tall I was on the rollerblades and how far away the ground was. All I could hear in my head was my heartbeat and “the bigger they are, the harder they fall” I was acutely in tune with my new 53 yr old body and the weight of it and thought, “man, this is not going to fall well!” I WASNT EVEN ON THE PAVEMENT YET! I toddled across the grass in slow motion, and my sweet daughter cheered me on with positive affirmation, “you can do it, mom. Just take your time.” I had to skate. My whole Mother’s day was building up to this very moment.

I mumbled nervously as I reached the edge of the sidewalk and carefully positioned myself to place my left foot on the concrete and push off the grass with the right foot. I thought, “shit, just do it!” I pushed off and, to my surprise, glided a few feet across the pavement. I literally went 3 feet and was shaking so badly I thought I would fall apart. I was now sweating buckets, on the verge of puking, and almost burst into tears. My husband said, “are you ok, honey?” NO! I WASN’T OK! But I wasn’t going to let him know that.

I said, “oh yeah, just a little shaky’” and held my hand out so he could see that I was a wreck. There was no turning back, though; I made myself do it. I Ski plowed, in and out along the pavement, pushed off my right back foot to keep moving slowly forward along the mile-long concrete track, and promised myself that no matter how terrible this felt, I wasn’t going to give in. I stepped off the pavement from time to time along the path and walked through the grass. OMG, my inner thighs were killing me, and I think I had engaged my glutes; I mean really engaged them for the first time in years, maybe decades. I fell one time; forward and landed on my wrist guards and padding. To my great surprise, it was very cushy and didn’t hurt at all! A group of 40-50-year-old women walked by and cheered me on, “way to go, there’s no way you’d ever get me on a pair of those again; you’re a brave woman!” My sweet girl said, “Hey, they gave you mom creds!” I looked behind me to see that I had gone a half-mile. I was doing it. I was still alive and in one piece. I realized that I might be able to recapture a bit of my youth after all. I finished the mile path and passed the car. I did it all again! I went another mile. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, that I was skating and really doing it.

I showered the nervous sweat of the day off of me when we got home that evening. My legs and inner thighs were so sore, and I knew I would be feeling it in the morning. I was so proud of what I had accomplished. My family showered me with tons of hugs and kisses all evening. I think they were proud of me too, and it felt good.

I have advice for any of you out there who want to recapture your youth with something as daring as rollerblading. Here are five tips for rollerblading over 50:

1. Suit up! Wear every pad available (if I had a pillow, I would have duck taped that to my backside, seriously don’t be afraid to do that).

2. Wear a helmet! (I didn’t, and my sisters saw me in photos and gave me hell for not doing so)

3. Take it slow and know that a tiny step is larger than not taking any steps at all. (Take the first step, push off that grass and ride across the pavement like you own it, and also pray).

4. Focus and breathe! You have to breathe; if you don’t, you’ll get dizzy and pass out, at which point you will crash to the pavement with all of your weight and probably get hurt. (Again, SUIT UP! PUT ON EVERY PAD THEY MAKE!)

5. Make a promise to yourself to put your rollerblades on at least three times a week. (Push yourself; remember how you learned when you were younger. Your mom told you to take that stuff outside because you left rollerblade marks all over her clean floor, but you were hooked. You would wear them to bed if you could, but they’re hard to roll over in and harder to go to the bathroom in the dark in, so you didn’t, but you still did it in the house and got good at it because you were obsessive about it). Be consistent like that.

BONUS TIP:

6. Have fun, make fun of yourself, be gentle with yourself, and don’t forget to take Advil and ice those sore muscles at bedtime. It’s day two that hurts the worst.

Posted in Personal Journal Blog

Mother

My children have inspired me to grow as a person, caregiver, friend, healer, disciplinarian, and nurturer. Thank you.

I put off having kids until my early 30’s. I was scared to become a parent. I was afraid I wouldn’t do it right. It always amazed me that you had to get a driver’s license to drive a car or operate heavy machinery not to harm yourself or anyone else. Still, any idiot could have a child and totally destroy a new untarnished soul or have the means to crush their hearts with little to no training. Not everyone has role models to mirror their parenting skills after. Not everyone grows up with two parents; some children have no parents. In my eyes, parents were complex, broken, sad, confused, sometimes scary people who loved you fiercely or chose to ignore your very existence. Sometimes parents may be your best friend and forgot they’re supposed to be parenting, sometimes the child has to be the parent, and that’s what I had to do from time to time.

I watched my mom struggle, love, escape, evolve, regret, search for joy and find herself as a parent. Torn, she made her children a priority and tried to define herself, cutting out a patch of freedom from her burden of parenthood with limited means and no real support. My example of love came from someone who desperately wanted to be loved but struggled to show it. She had no model to go off of herself. She wanted to be close but felt confined and smothered by the clinging nature of those who needed her or depended on her. She wanted to be fun and was but didn’t know where to draw the line. She wanted to be the mother everyone could talk to and adore and at the same time needed someone she could lean on and talk to, and in her world, that was hard to find. The family was important to her, and keeping relatives close was imperative. My mom took pride in keeping in touch with her siblings and needed to feel that never-ending connection. My mom’s parents had died well before she was out of her teens, and she craved that bond; having it strengthened her and gave her a sense of home and belonging. Mom and I made the journey to be with her siblings several times in my childhood; It was paramount that we have those family connections. Whether there was family around or not, my mom was lonely, and watching the pain she struggled with made me uneasy and unsure about becoming a parent myself. It seemed to bring her more sadness than joy. And my dad was no parent to me; he just plain left.

I didn’t have babies around me growing up. I didn’t have a lot of cousins, nephews, and nieces, or minor siblings to hold. When I was pregnant with my first child, I was petrified. Would I be a good mom? I wasn’t ready. Paul and I had gone to a picnic, and there was a newborn there. The glowing mother asked me if I wanted to hold him to practice a bit. She gently put her baby in my arms, and though I seemed comfortable and cooed Into the sweet baby’s face, every fiber of my being was screaming to give the baby back. I was afraid I would drop it, break it, or squish it. No good could come from holding that tiny miracle. I smiled, said thank you, and handed him over almost as quickly as she placed him in my arms. Paul took a turn next. He is the baby whisperer. The minute my husband touched that baby boy, it relaxed, having been crying from the jostling of being passed around like a hot potato between his mother and me. Paul made faces at him, and he rocked him gently in his hands. Paul was secure and comfortable, and the child felt safe in his arms, you could tell. A smile crossed my face as I watched this and listened to the mothers surrounding us saying what an amazing father Paul was going to be. Inside I was crushed, though, I couldn’t pretend to love holding that baby, and I felt jealous that Paul had more ability to nurture a little soul than I had in the tip of my pinky finger.

Later, Paul and I drove home in silence. I broke out in tearful sobs and said, “I can’t do it! I can’t have this baby; I don’t even know how to hold one. I’m going to mess everything up. There’s no way I can do this perfectly.” Paul listened as I freaked out and declared impending doom on our baby due to my lack of ability to mother. I couldn’t imagine ever holding a child and feeling at ease like Paul did that evening at the picnic. I had anxiety over the possibility that it would all fall apart, and I, without the proper training and a parenting license, would crash and burn, killing everyone along for the ride. Paul reached across the car and put his hand on mine. He spoke gently in an attempt to calm my nerves. “Jeri, when you hold your baby, it will be easy. You’re carrying the baby now inside you, and it’s safe, and your both fine.” he said, “you don’t have to know how to do it all right now; motherly instinct will kick in.” I didn’t feel immediately better, but there was truth in his logic, which gave me comfort. He gave me hope that somewhere in the fiber of my womanhood, I would understand my role as a mother when the time came. I played his words over and over again as we made our way home and locked them in my heart as my pregnancy progressed, hoping that I would instinctually fold my newborn child in my loving arms and it would feel natural, meant to be, and beautiful. Maybe my mom had the same fear I had before the birth of her children. Perhaps she always just wanted to do it right but, in the end, did what she could. She was an unlicensed driver carrying her kids on her journey over every bump, dip, and pothole in the road. She stayed true to her role as a mother with the skills she had acquired, not skills that someone had taught her. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Me and my Mamma Snuggling ♥️

As I realized this about my mom, I decided to educate myself on parenting and childbirth. I felt that the most significant and crucial step in becoming a good parent was to be true to who I was and be sure of myself so that it was clear to my baby or babies that they were planned and loved from the moment we realized we wanted them to conception and birth. My next step was to surround myself with solid parenting role models. I found them at church, at the Park where I volunteered, and in my women’s writing group. I gobbled up the wisdom of seemingly healthy moms and dads who came across my path. I prayed that God would guide me, and I leaned on Paul. He knew how to do this.

It was Paul who one day, while sitting at a stoplight on Westend Ave in Nashville, TN said to me, “it’s time for us to have a baby” I was shocked at the suggestion. We had been together for 5 yrs and married for 2 of them. “I’m not ready; I’m still working on my music career,” I said nervously.

Paul shrugged and let out a frustrated sigh, “You’re always going to be working on that! It’s time; I want to have a baby.”

Begrudgingly I said ok and started processing the idea the only way I knew how; I set a firm date on my calendar. If it was in writing, I couldn’t back out. I think I still have the calendar with the date in it.

On the official “day to get pregnant,” I went to a girls’ luncheon. I naively told my girlfriends, “I’m supposed to get pregnant today.” they looked at me in surprise and offered me good luck, fertility, support, advice, and lots of food as if I was already eating for two. When I walked into our old brownstone apartment that afternoon, I felt like a nervous virginal bride entering territory that was mysterious and frightening. I shook as I entered my bedroom, knowing Paul was in bed. I had the feeling a big part of me was about to be sacrificed and offered up to the God of fertility and life. I laid down and found that Paul was sound asleep. I nudged him and said, “hey are you having a nap?” he said, “ yeah, I had a couple of beers this afternoon.” Already I was worried that this was a bad day to get pregnant. What if the beer tainted our unborn child? I was a confused mess, but a plan is a plan. I laid there next to Paul and tried to quiet my mind. I, too, dozed off after a while, and when we woke up, I reminded him of our commitment for that day and made good on it. We had made love a million times before, but this was different; we were now on a mission to bring new life Into the world. It changed the way I approached Paul and the way I saw sex between us. It was now not just a physical act of love and release but a spiritual right of passage. Like so many others, we were attempting to join the ranks of parenthood.

The magic moment ♥️

We didn’t get pregnant right away, but it wasn’t too long after we began trying that my breast became sore, and I felt a shift in my hormones that caused me anxiety and made me glow. We had taken a vacation with my mother, the childhood road trip we had taken to visit my mother’s siblings and hometown so many times before. Paul and I continued our efforts to get pregnant in every place along our journey on that trip. We discussed getting pregnant with the family members we visited. We made love in a tent, bed and breakfast, hotel room, aunt and uncles houses, and finally under a waterfall in Shenandoah national park. There that day, in the trees among the rocks with the smell of earth and moss all around us, there was a magic that touched us. We knew something special had just happened, and we even documented it with a selfie, well before the cellphone selfie had become a thing. The next day we packed the car to return home to Nashville. I was tired, moody, and my breasts felt tender.

I had all the signs of being pregnant. I took a store-bought pregnancy test, and it came out positive (I saved it and still have it in a ziplock baggie in my hope chest). Our baby journey had begun, and the road ahead was unfamiliar. We were about to become unlicensed parents, and it was all at once exciting and scary. Admittedly I was apprehensive at the start. Having the first baby seemed impossible, and there was no way I would have predicted that Paul and I would have three beautiful girls or how much they would mean to me. Paul was right; my motherly instinct did kick in. I have gotten so lost in my children that I can’t remember what it’s like not to be a mom/mum, and that’s ok. I am happy to give myself to them fully in the short time we have together. Snuggling them is my happy place (whether they’re 2 or 22). They are my everything, inspiration, pride, joy, and love, and I wouldn’t trade being their mother and all of the lessons we’ve taught each other for the world.

The baby whisperer with girls. ♥️♥️♥️
Posted in Personal Journal Blog

That One True Purpose

Lately, I’ve felt like the whole world has opened up. Not because I won the lottery or found out that secretly I’m the air to a small country in the middle of nowhere. No, not because of that. I feel this way because I have finally found myself. I have found my voice and that one true purpose. Making this statement is colossal, right?! I know that every human being out there at some point in their life has wondered why the hell they are here. I have for years. It didn’t click for me until recently at the age of 53. It was an accident that I found my purpose. I had hit my lowest point in life and thrown my hands in the air in defeat, swore never to leave my bed again, and then my purpose found me.

The life I’ve lived has shaped my purpose. I am the youngest of five kids, and by nature and according to Alfred Adler’s Birth Order Theory, I am a textbook 5th or last child. I’m a risk-taker, outgoing, creative, self-centered (but come on, who isn’t), competitive, bored easily, like to be pampered, like to be pampered, like to be pampered, (oh yeah, I like to be pampered), and have a sense of humor, did I say I like to be pampered? There is also a bit about being financially irresponsible, but that’s not me. I am that person who was journaling paper budgets six months in advance in those black-bound school journals before you could use digital budgeting tools like PocketGuard or Mint. I am the organizer in our house, the cleaner, fixer, mover, shaker, and disciplinarian. At the beginning of my relationship with Paul, we had a sleepover at my mom’s place (if that’s what you want to call it); I walked past the bathroom door as he had just opened it on his way out. I stood back and watched him silently go through my bathroom drawers. I would say that was creepy, but It was entertaining to watch the horror on his face over finding my hair ties, bobby pins, hair clips, and barrettes all separated and placed neatly into individual little Tupperware containers. I held my laughter in as he lifted one of the containers from the drawer, examined my severe organization, and let out an audible “holy shit!” Yeah, no, I think the creepy one in that scenario was me. Paul is still with me after 28 years and brings in the cash while I write, mother, obsessively rearrange our kitchen cabinet contents, wage war against plastic, and manage our finances and the house. He enriches our lives by sharing silly antics with our daughters, drumming up raucous play sessions, imposing his cool dude presence, and cleaning up the kitchen after I cook nightly. We are a well-suited match. He doesn’t worry much. There was a time when that was detrimental to our relationship because I obsessively stress enough for all 5 of us and got frustrated that his head was empty while mine was racing with thoughts (that green-eyed monster, jealousy is ugly).

Being a worrier, I find it hard to let go of things. Worrying less gets better as I get older because I don’t have the energy anymore. Worrying involves digging up a lot of information stored in our being. Humans process thoughts over and over again deep into their subconscious, where conclusions are formulated in a REM state; which I can never achieve because I’m too busy laying awake worrying and counting the number of popcorn bubbles on our stucco ceiling or naming all of the shapes I can see in the little bumpy plaster splatters. So worry is not really my only actual problem; there’s also insomnia; I’ve had that for as long as I could remember. I’m like Buffy the Vampire slayer, only older, puffier, and brunettish, only in the sense that she was a vampire, and they come out at night. I am a night dweller too, and I’m in no way scared of the light of the sun, but I do like to sleep in, so don’t ever invite me to catch a sunrise, please. If you wake me up anywhere before 7:30 or 11:30 am, I just can’t. Oh, I’m exaggerating, 9:30 am. If I didn’t take citalopram and journal, relieving myself with a brain dump, I would never close my eyes (hey, if I do a plug for Citalopram, do I get a kickback like my Dr’s? Come on, big Pharma, throw me a bone!). I usually fall asleep at about 2 am and then wake up late. I lay in bed reading, talking to our girls in NZ on FaceTime, or writing in the notes on my iPhone. At one point in time, I traced our entire family tree back to the 1400s, hiding under my covers. It’s a wonder my poor husband doesn’t have sleep issues because there is always a little glow of phone light coming from my side of the bed. I hold off on looking at social media until the early hours of the morning, 8:00 am. You early risers probably think I’m pathetic; I know, I can feel the way you’re eyeing the page, all judgie like. Just because Ben Franklin said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” doesn’t mean me and those like me are doomed to be broken, starving artists with limited intelligence and foolish banter till the day we die.

I make sense of my world by putting it into words and taking photos. I am creative. Most creatives have some quirky issues and are sometimes highly intelligent (I’m not saying I’m a genius or anything, but I am smarter than the average bear). People like me aren’t savvy in the conventional; you test well on national standards tests way, but in a more creative thinking outside of the box way. I wasn’t a standard student, and I wasn’t academically gifted. My teachers recognized my gift as a singer early on, and they tailored my school schedule to nurture my talents. I had voice and dance lessons after school, and by the end of high school, I had four music classes out of 7 a day. I would even get pulled out of academic courses to work on creative projects. I was fortunate to have a middle school and high school in tune and sympathetic to my needs. Big shout out to Gulfview Middle School and Naples High School. Best schools ever! 💙💛🦅

Even though I was encouraged to sing and be the captain of the majorette squad, I missed out in the English lit area. All of the brainy kids were in the classes that would have nurtured my desire to be a writer. I was fortunate to be put in Mr. Glancy’s class my senior year, he taught the advanced English lit classes, and he inspired me to read and love it. He had the cool factor and was skilled at getting inside the student’s heads. He could see I was a bit of an oddball but didn’t dismiss me. No, he sat me at the front of the room to sleep with my head on my backpack and made me wake up and engage. I’m thankful for that.

As I look back at all of the journaling I have done in my stack of notebooks and online, I realize that I have been a natural-born writer all along. I worked so hard at my singing career, but my silent true passion was always right at my fingertips. When I gave up hope during the isolation of covid, the only safe place to turn was inward, and that spilled out of my fingers onto paper and up to the cloud. I have been feverishly writing since that morning in March 2021 when I woke up and frantically searched the house for every one of my old journals and online diaries. I was desperate to speak my mind and didn’t want to burden others with my issues, beliefs, and ideas. I did what came naturally to me and wrote about the pain and confusion I felt. Over the weeks that followed, my dear husband noticed a calmness in me. My writing was healing me, lifting me, and giving me purpose. He has been so happy for me, and I have felt such relief and been much easier to be around (I’ve even started laughing at myself again). My lost feeling hadn’t started during COVID; in fact, the more I dive into my memories and document my journey, I find that I was wandering longer than I or anyone else knew. I know who and what I am now; I have a voice that I am not afraid to use. I’ve found a space I can be my authentic self in, and while doing it, I can share my words and help others find themselves hopefully (or I may just confuse you even further than you are now).

The world has indeed opened up as my mind has opened, as I’ve let go of my fear of failing and worry over being perfect. I’ve learned to take care of myself first now. I understand that taking care of Jeri gives me the strength to be there for others and still know when I need to back off. Yes, I am a writer, blogger, wordsmith, and expert through my life experiences. I am excited to be alive again and looking forward to seeing how my words touch others and continue to heal me. I am at peace knowing that one true purpose has finally found me.

This is where the magic happens.
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

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.