Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Valentine's Day Story

One of the scariest concepts is the word "change".  Because no matter how hard things might be, we imagine they could be worse.  But if we're being real, we know change is always there.  And sometimes it hits us... HARD.

When I made the decision to leave my former address, it was all about change.  Everything would change.  And it rattled every cell in my disheveled body.  But it was also exciting.  I had hope.  I missed "hope" and knew it was time.  Way past time.

You've been there.  It may not have been the end of your marriage but it was a loss or change that shook you.  We all experience disappointment and change.  There's a sadness in losing the familiar but there's an exhilaration in knowing you have hope to create a future you had not imagined before. I never thought I would be here.  It was like an out-of-body experience.  What would I do with this new life where I was childless on alternate weekends?  I didn't know how to act without my crew strapped to my ankles, screaming that we're out of toilet paper or negotiating chore charts like a senate debate...but I was willing to try!

At first I spent those weekends making a permanent impression in my lazyboy.  Most friends were doing the "married with kids" thing and didn't need their pathetic pal being a buzz kill.  My single friends seemed to have mastered socializing and dating (an idea which made me want to vomit a little).  I had few people to connect with.  It was when I started to name my future 37 cats that I decided it was time for Mamajulep to get a life.  Maybe I should take a photography class.  Or try playing tennis.  Everyone had gone nuts about yoga and zumba, maybe I should try it!  The slate was so blank and I was all over the place.

No. Not me. Not ever.  
Months went by and I was still spending my solitary weekends home, doing chores, watching romance movies and eating ice cream straight-from-the-carton in my yoga pants and stained gap t-shirt.  And every commercial advertised a dating site where happy, beautiful people found each other.  And I hated them! The only thing I had found were four new wrinkles and insomnia.   Photography classes weren't available on weekends.  I found out I suck at tennis.  And apparently I'm not mature enough to take yoga seriously.

Something had to give.

So finally a girlfriend decided we should meet after work one Friday night and just be out with the living.   It was just a simple stop for a drink and some food.  After being a shut-in for so long, I felt like this...

That's when I found out I liked people.  I had just not been around the right ones yet.  And after that night, everything just kinda snowballed and this new life took off and it strangely felt normal and comfortable (better than my yoga pants!). 
And so I was just trying to be normal and be around people and get my compass facing north again, and NOT look for a relationship because what I wanted was friendship.  And the very night my girlfriend made me get out in the world was when my compass got it right.  In the short time she and I were there, I looked up in the right direction and saw this fella...

Okay.  Maybe I didn't encounter Bradley Cooper. But I did encounter a beautiful man who understood me and offered the friendship I needed. Minus the Hefty Bag.  But he did kinda have a passion  obsession  thing for football. And that is where the similarities end except, like the couple in the movie, we had both recently been through the loss of our marriages and both of us were still trying to get our bearings.  And it was a good place to be since he and I sorta-kinda knew of each other from another lifetime ago and we had mutual pals.  We spent time becoming friends to one another.  So I knew he was safe and decent and good and wouldn't take me home to show me his Star Trek collection.  Then one day turned into several, then several turned into several more.

And since we had no plans or expectations and just lived in the moments, it was joyful.  I eventually had to make let him meet the motley crew and am still shocked he didn't escape and join the Witness Protection Program.  My crew meshed with his one little princess and we just let the gang find their groove in their time and gave them a voice in all this.  It all happened so naturally before I realized I had created my new normal.

That was nearly three years ago.  And no situation is perfect.  Especially when you throw in seven kids.  And his crazy relatives.  And my crazier relatives.  But in all of this nonsense, even on tough days, we're nauseatingly happy.   I'm amazed at where I am these days.  I still don't know what my future holds.  None of us do.  But I do know, my compass is pointing in the right direction these days.

I'm not sure what his blog handle will be yet.  I'm having fun with his name.  When we started out, a very popular book was read by the female public everywhere.  A book which has been made into a movie and premiere's this week at the box office.  The leading male character's fictional name is the same name my fella has in the real world.  In the early days, it was a little fun and sometimes awkward when folks would tease me about dating CG.  I'm guessing I'm about to hear those jokes again.  I can promise you we will NOT be seeing that movie this weekend! For today I suppose I will simply call him "my valentine".

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Ill Equipped and Stove Up

It's funny when people think I've got my schmit together just because I made six babies and they are still alive.  The fact that they are alive by no means suggests I'm equipped to have anything together.  My weapon of choice is wine duct tape.  Most school days I pull into carpool still getting us zipped and tied up, hoping nothing embarrassing falls out of my prison bus when the doors fly open.  If my crew makes it to school wearing matching socks it's reason enough to celebrate.  My life is an act. I screw up way more than nail it.

What I aim for
What I get

Yes.  That's the same kid.
I'm sure I'm red-flagged in a file folder somewhere.

So when I see other moms who don't hit it out of the park, I don't get all judgey and wear my behind where my head goes.  I feel their pain. Because I suffer from the same condition.  I think it's called "cant-get-your-shit-together-itis".  One morning, I dropped my youngest in her classroom and noticed a classmate with a pair of pants that were enormously too big for him.  He also had on two different shoes.  I'm not talking "similar" shoes that were accidentally put together.  I'm talking completely. different. shoes. because his mom probably couldn't find two matching shoes that day.  I remember the teachers shaking their heads in disbelief.  I thought she was pretty damn brave to send him anyway despite whatever she went through that morning.  I wanted to get her name and buy her a drink!

Then today in carpool, I was pulling up and saw a mom pushing a stroller, walking with her preschool son to likely pick up more kids of hers! He was wearing a cape and superhero mask and walked up to that school like he owned the joint.  It was a very cool sight to see.  I want to be her one day.

We all want to be "that mom" who wears the right clothes and has the best sense of humor and seems to have it all together.  And some days, we GET to be her.  But we can't be her everyday.  And it's exhausting trying to pretend to be a functioning adult when you are surrounded by mouthy, unruly creatures that you made yourself,  who's only purpose seems to be to embarrass you and show off your failures. 

And failure comes in every part of your life.  Just like success.

I've been dieting for two weeks.  Dieting kills your soul.  That's why they call it DIE-ting.  I've done well but I am sick of eating cardboard and monkey grass!  Plus it's interfering with my adult beverage consumption.  And it's Mardi Gras season where I live, so...DAMN!  So today I gave in.  Big time.  My pal next door called at dinnertime and wanted to borrow some milk.  I told her all I had was fat free, which likely shocked her, and this is how it ended before she showed up at my door.

I think she was referring to being able to eat low carbs and sugar, but by the time she came over I was drunk on carbs and couldn't form sentences.  My body was recovering from ketosis
I may be exaggerating. 
But it felt like it. You see, I'm trying to get back to doing some things I love and so I auditioned to be in a play at a local theatre.  and I NAILED it!  I get to play a lead character in a Neil Simon comedy and am having so much fun.  I get to play a high strung, do-it-all mother who likes to drink and cuss at life (so it's an autobiography). But the vein part of me wants to lose ten pounds before I get on stage in three weeks.  Because I'm never satisfied.  But I've almost gotten there so I just need to avoid an extra helping of mac'n cheese.  And I probably should exercise. And stay away from package stores.
Like that's really gonna happen.

Remember to keep comments here if you can! I have a Valentine post I'm putting out later this week, so check back in soon!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Random Things that Decay a Mom's Brain

My brain cannot take anymore.
Not one more bit of nonsense.
Losing baby weight was easier than this.
Grad school was easier than this.
I think telepathy would be easier than this. At least if I had telepathy I could do something about it!

My kids cannot be this senseless.  They must be doing this on purpose.  Could I really be raising an army of sloths?  Stupid sloths who actually make more work to avoid?! What are they gonna do when they grow up and I make them move out and can't do a thing for themselves?  I can see them now on an episode of Hoarders because they can throw nothing away.  Then I can see the camera crew coming to my house and wondering why I didn't raise them better.  I need to come up with a story now.  I do have more evidence to present.

When you're running late making school lunches while you're also looking for matching school socks, it's super craptastic to find the last jelly jar in the fridge like this.  Since they left the lunchmeat out for no good reason (like to feed the dog my $7 a pound Boar's Head) and I had to toss it, they got to take delicious sandwiches of peanut butter and nothing.  Mmmmm, goes down easy.  Like clay.

Want some hot cocoa?  Like marshmallows?  So do I.  Ever open a packet of Swiss Miss with marshmallows only to find out a snarky kid you gave life to, has opened your last packet just to pick out every last marshmallow?  Leaving you with cocoa mixed with whatever was on their grubby little hands.  No thanks kids.  I'm full.

Need a toothbrush?  Guess what else in my house they NEVER THROW AWAY?! I have six knuckleheads and myself so easy math says I should have no more than seven toothbrushes to keep up with.  And guess what I hear every. godforsaken. morning...  "Mom! I can't find my toothbrush!".  Really?  Because we have enough for the Salvation Army.  And my crew is a bit germaphobic so they think nothing of hiding their toiletries in their bedrooms only to forget where.  And when I buy the wholesale club version of toothbrush packs and assign everyone a different color they would die before tossing the old one in case they can't find their new one!

Speaking of germs, I found this treasure the other day when I was refilling the soap dispensers.  It's a routine thing to come across something that makes no sense to anyone.  A normal person would be like "Whuck?" but no, I'm used to seeing things that never should be together and just go with it because it hurts my brain to investigate nonsense.  I never even asked them why a q-tip was stuck in the soap dispenser.  I just added more soap and moved on.  It's better that way.

And this aint new but it did have a new twist.  Opened and emptied glasses, cans and buckets in the fridge is a normal phenomenon at my house that no one owns up to.  But this empty glass still had a sonic straw in it.  You could go there.  Why put an empty glass back in the fridge when the sink is right next to it?  Why keep a plastic straw with it?  What was the plan here? Why do I hoard chicken base and feed my kids processed cheese?  Just stop.  Just. Stop.

So my kids found this stray dog.  (No good story starts this way)  And I said "no way".  We are already knee deep in critters, but I did say we would *foster* him until we found him a home.  At first I said another pal of theirs had to keep him at their house, so my sneaky six pack decided to clean out an old shed I don't use because it's condemned like me and tried to hide the dog in there from me!
Ok, so they actually cleaned something for their own use, so I know they are capable of productive work.  I've got that going for me.  They worked together without fighting, so I have that rainbow to hold on to.  But their sloth caught up with them.  They left all this $h*t on the ground by the shed, used my good broom AND did I mention this shed is right outside my bedroom window? They're not so smart as to hide evidence of stuff they wanna keep from me.  So I open the window and this is my new view. Until Child Protective Services show up.  I'm sure I'm on their speed dial.

But I can't just leave you with this, letting you think the only nonsense I have is with my crew.  No, it's in epidemic form lately.  My mom has apparently either lost some neurons or wants us to think she has because she doesn't like to communicate with us.  She can be creative.  My sister sent me this...

As you can see, the next day I kept the fun going. What else can you do?

Getting measured for my straight jacket,

Hey y'all!  I appreciate that many of you comment on my posts here through my personal facebook or my mamajulep facebook or send me texts or messages or send a pigeon and all, but it would be great if you could leave some comments here.  It looks to others like no one reads my stuff and I can see from my traffic that I get a generous amount of reads.  I would like to break into some writing that actually pays a little, so do MamaJulep a favor and put your comments here.  They don't automatically show up because I moderate them to keep a few crazy people at bay but I check on them regularly.  Thanks!



Monday, December 29, 2014

The Sloths that are my Kids

My kids are geniuses. 
Okay, they're sloths.

But it takes a real genius to avoid chores to the level of slothiness.  But its a conundrum because the work they put in to avoiding work... is actual work.   Sometimes, even more work.  It hurts my neurons just thinking of all the effort they put into not working.  How can I grab some of their genius?

Each of my kids have a household chore, which they avoid like a prison sentence.  If they would each DO their chore, life would be sweeter.  Angels would sing.  Mom wouldn't drink nag.  But no one wants that nonsense.  And apparently no one likes to wash dishes. Even if they need a dish to eat food because they are starving, they refuse to wash a dish.  I think, given the opportunity, they would eat out of a barely clean dog food dish before washing a cereal bowl. 

exhibit 1:
Drinking coffee from a measuring cup is totally OK with my six pack, given that I've washed it and put it away so I can hope to use it when I need to....MEASURE something.
This also applies to using my big measuring cups to eat cereal from or to mix up boxed mac'n cheese in one big container so you don't have to refill your makeshift bowl because you are too lazy to walk back in the kitchen for a second helping.

Same work ethic applies if all the utensils are dirty. So feel free to use my measuring spoons to eat from, especially if my serving spoons are all used up too because no one wants to wash behind themselves.  Mom will be back in the kitchen soon so we don't need to panic.

exhibit 2:  Things that are mine.

One of these things is not like the other!
This morning I had to get all grown-up-y looking for a job interview.  Job interview people do not care that you live with lazy slothy people who keep your stuff hidden from you because they are too lazy to put them back where they belong.  This morning I needed hairspray because I live in the capital city of Humidity in Alabama.  My hairspray was not in my bathroom.  Not in the kids' bathroom.  Not in the other typical crime scenes for my stolen things.  I had to make do with what I could find under the sink.  I hope my hair doesn't fall out later.
So I make it back home faced with ten hundred requests to make lunch for the sloths.  I end up at the snack pantry to find some smart ass had put my hairspray in with the snacks... because that must be where it belongs!  My guess is it was a shorter distance than the bathroom closet.  Oh! and when I found it, it was empty.  Which leads you to wonder why this ghost person didn't just throw it away in the garbage three feet away.  Sloths.
And my number one suspect? The boy.  Why?  Because if we run out of air freshener when he does the unthinkable in the bathroom, he assumes my $7 hairspray is a good substitute and could care less how much hairspray costs compared to air freshener.  Because he's a sloth.

Ever seen one of these? 
It's for sifting f.l.o.u.r! 
For baking. 
For dusting surfaces with cocoa or powdered sugar and making wonderful things with dry ingredients.
You know what it's not for?

Draining pasta.
Mixing up mac-n-cheese.


And nothing gets chunked when it needs to be. My house is stocked with empty cereal boxes because nothing tastes as good in the morning as a cardboard box full of nothing.  And no one will completely finish a two liter bottle or milk jug because it places some responsibility on that person to toss it in the garbage.  So it's better to leave a thimble full of liquid in case a leprechaun shows up and needs a belly full. 

Same with bottles in the shower.  The kids' bathtub is so full of empty shampoo, conditioner & body wash containers that it looks like a landfill.  And I keep a garbage can on the other side of the shower curtain! So if anyone decides to spend the night with us because they've had a lapse in judgment they will need to first update their tetanus vaccine.  And hepatitis.  And sign a waiver. 

Because my kids are disgusting sloths. 

If I could invent anything, it would be a trash can that dispensed money every time you threw something away.  But then my kids would probably be too lazy to bend over and pick up the change.

Taking out the trash,

Friday, November 21, 2014

How to Date When You're Old and Covered in Kids


As you know, awhile back I became a "single" person.  It felt really weird. And it didn't take long until I fell face first into the world of dating as a forty-seven year old mother of a volleyball team.  It was a total nightmare accident.  It's been a world that's frighteningly different than the one I remember from a hundred years ago.  Mostly because when I dated the first go-round, it was childless.  As it should be.

When I first set up my new homestead, I was like Snow White to my little dwarfs.  You know, Stinky, Sloppy, Mouthy, Guilty, Nervy and Shifty.  I was completely focused on single motherhood and had no intention of dating PLUS I was intimidated by the idea of it all.  I mean, I'm the old lady in the shoe.  Remember?!  I was a "mom" this time. And I wasn't exactly a fan of relationships after my big fail.  Plus dating meant "drama" to me and I had been full-up on that for some time with the whole *sshhh* divorce.   And I got extra helpings of drama since my crew was also now in the godforsaken dating world too.   And dating while you're daughters are dating is just plain awkward.  We're all hold up in the bathroom together shoving to get mirror facetime and poking our eyes out with frosted mascara because my girls lost my grown up variety.  Then we all come home later and it's a bucket of weirdness.  And it's superfun to be on a date while your kids are texting you every five minutes wanting to know where we keep the extra batteries for the Xbox or what's the right dosage of Immodium AD or getting the referee job of a long distance knock out about what channel the tv should be on. Usually while I'm trying to enjoy a warm meal that I did not cook amen!  I eventually learned that dating can only take place on my childless weekends when I could have free reign of my house.  But for the most part, early on, I just wanted friendship.  I wanted people to treat me like I was somewhat normal.  Even if they knew better.

But my friends wanted me to not be pathetic alone.  That's what friends DO. And it was really nice when people were actually interested in me and wanted to talk to me about something other than how I needed to buy more Lucky Charms or unclog the toilet.  Again.   So on those weekends when I was missing my sweathogs, I started leaving the house and spending time with other grown people who were temporarily unattached to family life, like me.  It was a strange notion, but the alternative scared me more.  I started mentally naming my legion of cats I would end up with.

When I did leave the house, at first, it was like a bulls eye was stamped to my chest with the words "Fresh Meat". It was kinda like a zombie apocalypse but I just showed up, not knowing what a zombie looks like.  Maybe it's because I was mostly alone and didn't know how to act without kids stuck on me like tattoos. 

When I had met someone new, here's how the first conversation would go.

Him: "It's really nice to meet you."
Me: "Thank you.  Likewise."
Him: "So tell me about yourself.  Do you have any kids?"
Me: "Yes, I do"
Him: "Really? How many?"
Me: "Six"
Him: (dial tone)
But if we had face time, he excused himself to the bathroom.  A bathroom in Never Never Land.  because I never saw him again!

So in my laughable vast experience in the world of dating I've learned a few things.  One big thing I've learned is all men say they do not want to be in a relationship again.  At first.
Lesson #1: This is a lie. 
They are out there. In the world. Looking for someone.  If they wanted to be alone, you would not see them.  They would be home. Or invisible.
I realize there are a lot of moochers looking for a special lady.
For just one night.
Even those fellas are happy to be with this special lady, but only to get by until they find someone they want to see for more than one night.  For the most part.  This is me being nice.
But they may not know it's a lie themselves.  What they mean is they don't want to be in a relationship with YOU!  Or maybe they want you but not YET.  Because you might interfere with them living as they want or someone better than you might come along and they want to keep their options open.  Or they are still jacked up and can't discriminate between their ass and a hole in the ground.  YET.  This doesn't make them liars. It makes them confused.  And I think they deserve a hall pass.  At first. 

But in this sea of confusion, I've broken down the types of fellas I've met into three types.

This guy is trouble.  And you run into him 75% of the time.  His common denominator? He wants a free sample.  But I'm not Hickory Farms.  And it ain't gonna happen.  Ever.  He likes to talk nonsense about his ex, but whether he's justified or not, he's not doing himself any favors by telling his current interest how he talks about his past failed relationship and how it wasn't his fault.  He will eagerly tell you how striking you appear and wants to know where he can find you later.  He will NEVER ask anything about your kids or real life.  He doesn't plan on being around long enough to need to know or care. He will be in a urgent rush to make plans with you and get a date on the books.  If you refuse his hasty attempt at hooking up, he turns into an epic douchebag because you had the nerve to not jump  all over spending time with his shallow ass.  He also thinks you're too stupid to see through his transparent armor of bullcrap and is shocked when you blow him off at the get-go.  Hope for his sake, he's going through a phase or he'll end up spending his nights alone at Buffalo Wild Wings watching sporting events with the cute staff members who just spend time with him because he pays them to. 

This poor bastard is around about 15% of the time and is actually kinda date-able.  for someone else.  His divorce (or whatever happened) caught him off guard and he is still trying to find out where he landed.  He is kind and is really trying to do the dating thing.  He's a gentleman and will hold the door for you and buy you dinner and all that, but he is awkward.  He may talk constantly about his ex so don't encourage him!  He may still be dealing with that loss so you may want to have some tissues on hand.  He loves his kids and is involved in their lives, which is awesome!  He has no clue what to say to you but he tries.  Once you give him your digits, he will find you like the stray dog you fed that time.  He can be a little odd.  He might think his job as a computer programmer for the power company is fascinating dinner conversation.  He may have ALL of the lego star wars figurines still-in-the-box and you should be impressed by that!  The right woman will probably come along and help him overcome the weirdness, so let her have that job!  I already have six weird people who live with me so I'm looking to subtract, not add.  If you can put him in "friend" zone he may actually be good company and may evolve into the real deal!

This fella is the real deal but you will only find him about 10% of the time.  He may have graduated from one of the other phases or may just be an enigma of stability.  Whatever got him where he is, he has handled it well!  He's involved with his kids and wants to know about yours!   He has manners, knows how to use grammar and practices basic hygiene.  All a plus!  He's created his own life but wants to know about yours.  He doesn't mind sacrificing some of what he likes to make you feel valued so you mesh into his world.  He might be awkward sometimes but recovers well.  When he compliments you, it's not only about your physical perks but he makes note of your personality and character assets too.  He looks at you when you speak and he LISTENS to what you say! He will screw up sometimes but that happens to all of us.

As I put all this down in cyberspace, know I am mocking the dating scene a bit and maybe picking on men, but I've also met several other women in my shoes and I've heard stories from these fellas and know that women can be turds!  Women are the main reason a lot of these poor gents are so screwed up, so when you meet someone new, drop the notion that you've already got them figured out and actually give them a chance.  Put your guard down and give them the gift of YOU!  Stop bitching about how there's no one out there worth your time or love and give it anyway. Men also have to sort through a sea of whacked out women so cut them some slack!  You may find an unexpected treasure in a least likely place.  Isn't that what we're all looking for?   A treasure?  So don't just look for a treasure, BE a treasure!

Cyberdating Wizard,

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Lesson on Bigotry and False Judgement

My guardian angel at the end of every day.
A couple of years into this nonsense blog of mine, I got my first hate mail.  Shocked that anyone would hate me, I asked a fellow blogger how to respond to this hater.  I was worried about alienating my readers by coloring a little outside the lines.  She told me to do nothing.  That when people start questioning you and getting all passionate about your words, it just means you've arrived.  That I was doing my job of making people think and pushing the bar.  I'm always getting myself into trouble.  Just ask my guardian angel.

Today is one of those bar days and not the kind I wish it was!  And I hope you'll bear with me because I think more than likely, you will relate to what I'm about to disclose.  The humor may be less today, but I also like to make this site a place to reflect on nonsense.  With the recent elections and Ebola scares  and season, everyone is quick to take sides.  Which we should.  But taking sides doesn't mean you hate the other side, does it?!  Why does everything have to be in a box of "either/or"? And with closed-minded, one-sided thinkers it leads to ugliness.  Controversial. Judgmental. Bigotry.  And it makes me throw up in my mouth a little.  So here we go...

Our perception of how we live and move through this life is based on some things we can't control like our skin color, nationality, for my teenagers: acne, and for me, lack of height!  It's also based on our experiences, good and bad. We become sensitive to things that have impacted us and it makes us passionate about how we respond.  The problem lies when we take those passions and distort our perception into a lie and impose that onto others unfairly.  And it is so freakin easy to judge others.  People watching has become a sport in America.

One example of judgment was the story last week of the young woman who took her own life because she didn't want to go through the final stages of cancer.  Do I believe in suicide?  Of course not, but I don't know what led her to make that decision.  She said she didn't believe in suicide either but was going to die anyway, so she wanted to do it on her terms.  I don't want to live in a world where people go around killing themselves to avoid suffering.  I'm a big believer in suffering for good and dealing with tragedy with grace and love.  I disagreed with her decision, but I also don't want to live in a world where everyone imposes their beliefs on others unfairly.  I don't believe in legalizing marijuana.  I've seen it hurt people I love.  But like many things, if you choose to do so without it hurting me, that is your business.  But it has hurt someone I love and changed who they are, so that is my perception.  And the point in all of this, is that I should be respected for my beliefs just as you are, without unnecessary ugliness.  In this world, humans have far more in common than differences, yet we focus on our differences.  And what does that do?  It divides us.  Look at Christianity.  Most Christians' core beliefs are the same.  It's they way we practice those beliefs that divides us.  And look how it has hurt us.  We are spiritually divided over a small part of what makes us different.  As a Christian I can say, Christians can be bat$h*t crazy!

When I was pregnant with Sean I found out at four months along that he would die.  I made the decision to carry him as long as his heart was beating and I wanted him to die on his own terms and God's will, not mine.  It was a heartbreaking time in my life but only I was living it, no others around me completely understood, so they had no right to impose their beliefs on me.  Yet I listened to them with grace because I believe they meant well.  I had well meaning but horrible people tell me that I was a terrible mother for not aborting my son because of the pain it would inflict on my then five young children.  But I also had well meaning but horrible Christian people tell me that if I was right with God and if I prayed enough that He would spare my son and I would get to keep him, as if to say, Sean died because I wasn't right with God?  No.  Sean died because we live in a fallen world, not because his mother was a sinner, even though I am.

When we encounter people who don't understand, we have to be peaceful and look the other way as often as we can.  Then some people want to be ugly and push us.  And if you're from the south you should say, "He doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground, bless his heart". 

I also read an article about an asshat rich woman at Halloween who resented less privileged children trick or treating in her perfect neighborhood with sidewalks and well lit streets and neighbors who could afford treats for children.  What the woman doesn't get is the feeling you feel when you give back to those who struggle daily, when you have excess everyday, and they may never know that comfort of having all they need.  And you get to share with our Creator and bless someone.

Many of you know, I live in the deep south.  In the southernmost part of Alabama.  If you believe what's in the movies, you may believe racism is a way of life down here.  You couldn't be farther from the truth!  Being racist is considered vulgar and crude.  I don't know anyone who would openly admit to those feelings.  That's not to say they don't exist at all, but then again, we love to find the smallest amount of ugly and make it bigger than it is.  So, I embrace my southern culture.  It is part of what defines me.  I'm also many other things.  I'm a woman raising an army of sloths, a Caucasian, am divorced and single, Roman Catholic, short, blonde, politically conservative, pistol toting, non-smoker but occasional whiskey drinker, and heterosexual. To name a few.  Does that mean I hate men? DEPENDS ON THE DAY  Other races?  Jews? Muslims? Brunettes? Basketball players? Democrats?  Gay people?  Douchebags?  Well, I do hate douchebags!

We all know one!
I could go on.  But you get the ridiculousness.  But there are people who believe that is how I am defined.  And I say this not for my own sake but because I know we've ALL experienced discrimination.  We recently had an amendment to our state law here in Alabama that gained national attention.  We are the first state to make a law that foreign law will not take precedence over state or national law.  The headlines said we were targeting Sharia Law as if we weren't tolerant.   That is not what it said on the ballot.  I know, I sat there and read it!  Sharia Law was not mentioned or implied. But I'm sure Sharia law was considered when creating this amendment.  So why does that make the state of Alabama anti-Muslim?  Especially since the law protects not just our natural born citizens but our Muslim brothers and sisters from possible harm!  In countries like Britain, Sharia Courts have been allowed to take place, but so far thankfully, with no serious sentences like beheading a person for use of profanity. Could it happen here one day?  I don't think it's likely, but I'm glad my state is thinking ahead and protecting everyone inside the state line from extremist laws.  Tolerance is what it should be, graceful acceptance of others' differences, so far as they are not imposed on everyone!   It is not, as it has become popular in politically correct fashion, to impose upon us to the point that it is shoved in our faces as long as the rest of us can't express what we believe too!  I mean, I expect for YOU to be tolerant of MY views as well!  Our brains have become diseased with this kind of "acceptance".  As I type this there are Christians who are beheaded in other parts of the world for believing in Christ, yet we do nothing because we don't want to pass judgment and interfere.  But there's also a movement to protect dogs from being eaten in other parts of the world that has a following here and money is being raised to interfere.  Makes you wonder if God isn't posed in a constant facepalm.

Here in the south we have a multicultural life as does the rest of the country. I'm surrounded by people of all ways of life.  And I embrace that.  Remember how I said life experiences affect how you perceive and live your life?  Well, when I was a young child, I went through a time when I was that kid who had no pals and ate alone everyday at school and was mocked and ridiculed.  I was very young and don't remember why.  I do remember how it felt.  But because of that, I embrace everyone.  I hate exclusion.  When I see people, I don't judge them by first impressions, but I may rightly judge them for seconds!  I know that everyone in this world has a soul and that is the essence of who they are.  It's not those things I used to define myself a few lines back, but what I DO with those labels.  The way someone looks or their financial portfolio mean little to me.  I wanna see how they behave and interact with me- what they can bless me with in our time together, whether it be for a few seconds in a check out line or a lifetime of love.

When my crew did community theatre, we were surrounded by folks of differing opinions and lifestyles.  My children regularly encountered folks who were not like us in some ways.  Their first experience with an atheist was in theater.  I was glad to use that as a learning experience for my crew.  I told them to be Christ to others no mater what and that if this person made atheism a soapbox for them to just be a good witness but never argue but also never back down from our beliefs. Arguing usually changes no one's opinions.  But the right behavior can.  I'm glad it happened while they were young and I could show them how we live among others who think differently. 

But often, no matter how kind you are to people, they want to label you.  This is when I have to remember that I don't know what they've been through.  There was a young man in theatre with my children who was openly gay.  I remember how good he was to my boys when they were only ten years old and just learning theatre.  He was so kind to them, taught them how to put on stage make up, how to prepare for their scenes and accepted them in their limited knowledge.  They figured out at some point he was gay and they never made any noise about it.  Because their first experience with a gay person was one of kindness and support.  And for that I was thankful.  I always cheered this boy on when I would see him audition or perform.  I had no reason not to.  But sadly, he hated MY beliefs and he falsely assumed that because we didn't agree on everything- like politics, then I must be a closed minded hater of all who he was, even though I never imposed my beliefs on him nor judged him.  He missed out on a great friendship because somewhere he got the idea that our ways of living are mutually exclusive.  But then, it was another life lesson for me, that I shared with my crew. 

Being open to loving people with differences doesn't mean I compromise my beliefs.  If you've ever been here, you know I'm not shy.  It means I'm open to receiving their friendship and love, while being able to voice all that is me as well, and be accepted by them.  Ironically three of my closest friends are liberal democrats.  And we often talk about politics because we know it isn't all that defines us.  One of those friends whom I talk to daily, is the one I go to when I'm hurting because she knows I'm more that just a conservative church lady.  I'm thankful she and I were open to friendship when we have so many differences.  It has blessed me. 
When I got married a thousand years ago, like all girls, I wanted my best friends to be in my wedding.  Two were women who got me through grad school.  One was an African American liberal democrat and the other was a politically conservative lesbian.  Those women held me in my lowest times, as I held them.  We live apart now but remain close friends to this day.  I was proud to have them stand with me at the altar, as I felt the love and support I needed that day.  Judgmental attitudes would have prevented me from having those wonderful memories.

Don't get me wrong.  There is a difference between being judgmental and making a judgment.  If my daughter brings home a man who's heavily tatted up with multiple piercings and is fifteen years her senior, I'm gonna tell him to hit the road because that's a judgment that I have to make as a parent. I also may not want to walk to my car at night if he is leaning against my SUV.  But when I see this fella at Walmart, if I'm open to it, he may just be the guardian angel who helps me get a functioning buggy because my hands are full of kids.  I go out of my way to speak to those who may appear "different" and I love it when I see the shock on their faces.  And I think it ministers to their souls that they are accepted.

When I divorced, I had to put my crew in regular school (I know, more stories, bear with me!)  The school I chose happened to be culturally diverse.  I would guess it had 45% African Americans, 30% Caucasians, 15% Hispanics and 10% Asian.  It was a great place for my children to learn with other children how to live and accept others who aren't like you.  And they got to learn this in a place of innocence, with children.  This past year, I pulled my girls out and left my boys there.  I did this because the girls had interests and needs that the school wasn't able to offer.  I gave my boys the choice to stay or change with the girls, and they chose to stay there for their last year before high school.  I'm happy with both schools for different reasons.  Sadly, one of my girls was told by a former classmate and friend who is African American that she was racist for leaving their school.  I had to explain to her that, like the theatre boy who judged me falsely, that she will experience mistaken bigotry sometimes.  I also told her that this little girl was only responding to her life experiences and would probably come to understand that my daughter was still her friend. 

I know this has been a long and less-than-funny post, but I know I'm not the only one who's noticed these things.  And something needs to be said!  Yea, it's an unpopular thing to write because no one wants to be the person who says controversial things.  But what I'm trying to say is to be open to letting other people be who they are while not trying to make everyone be you.  If we all were the same, there'd be no flavor. 

Last night I went to a sports bar, alone, and watched Alabama barely beat LSU.  It was a knuckle biter.  Because it was such a tense, roller coaster kinda game, everyone around me became pals.  We were all different except for the fact that we all had on crimson red.  And for a few hours last night, strangers united and celebrated.

Just a little bit different,