Focusing on What’s Important


Only seeing two columns can be frustrating.

Today I went for a physical at my on-campus health facility. This would have cost me quite a bit more at my regular physician’s office so instead I opted for the on-campus/at-work health screening. They did a full head-to-toe checkup, along with blood work and a female exam I hope to never, EVER, have again. Having a health professional narrate everything to the young student performing the exam is NOT my idea of making me comfortable. But I’ll leave those details out.

I knew when it was time to go to the vision test, I would have to tell her I was blind in one eye. I figured she would shine her light in my eye and see that my pupil didn’t adjust. But I knew I could say that with no emotion, no looks for sympathy, just blunt admittance. Yet today I was surprised. After shining the light, they took me to the little vision machine, and I was immediately taken back to the DMV experience I had a year ago.

It’s been seven + years since my accident. Every day I know I am blind in one eye, but every day I refuse to let it get in the way of my happiness. I refuse to let it identify me or even be a part of my daily life. My husband walked in my blind spot the other morning and I sadly bumped him into a cedar chest in our bedroom. We both laughed about it bc I was walking rather quickly and he practically fell over.

But today, when asked to read columns A, B and C, I could see there was a third column, only it was blank for me. I asked the nursing student if there was indeed text in the column and she said, “yes, but don’t worry about reading it since you said you were blind.” I kept my face pressed up against the reading machine, hoping she couldn’t see the tears starting to form. Why was I crying, I thought? It’s okay, you are blind. This is no surprise.

Yet somehow I was just as surprised as I was the day at the DMV. I hadn’t had to have an eye test (surprisingly) since my accident and was due for a license renewal. When I read columns A and B, she kept telling me to read C. Except I didn’t see a C. It was plain as day to me that there were only A and B. I thought she was crazy. Then she told me there WAS a column C on the right side. I had to tell her I was blind in one eye and could not see it. Immediately I thought they would take away my license and I would once again lose my independence. I had to excuse myself and burst into tears in the stupid DMV. I’m sure someone thought they were repossessing my car or something. I’m guessing I’m not the first person who cried in the DMV. Certainly there were 15-year-olds who failed their driving test and were overcome with emotion.

The nurse today thankfully had a nice bedside manor and comforted me in the office. As lame as I felt, it also felt good to release some anger that I guess swells up over the years. It’s time like these, that I REALLY have the blindness pointed out to me. It’s a situation where I can’t overcome my injury nor pretend it doesn’t exist. I have to face it head on, and those blank columns stare back at me, reminding me that no matter how much I overcome it, I still have a life-altering injury.

I’m sure I’ll have more days like this, as I sometimes do. Thankfully they are few and far between. And I need to not be so hard on myself when and if they do occur. Only God knows why he chose me to experience the accident I did. And I know much worse things have happened to others so I don’t ever try to complain and I don’t want sympathy. Sometimes I am just surprised when my emotions get the better of me. I realize that I am still vulnerable and have my off days like everyone else.

Thankfully, my friends, family, husband and son remind me of all the beauty and wonderful things I get to experience every day. My quality of life is no less than it was, or at least I don’t allow the injury to lessen my life. I wonder how great things would look through two eyes? Guess I’ll never know but I’ll enjoy the view from one.


Thankfully they put things into perspective for me.

Plan B

I like to think I am spontaneous, and at times I can be. But who am I kidding, I love to plan. I love to put trips together for my friends and often find myself organizing hotels, tickets and arrangements for people. Rarely do things go awry and at the end of a trip, I hold onto the photos and silly memories as some of my most cherished possessions.

Being a mother, however, does not allow one to really plan very well. I have learned this rather quickly and had to adopt a fast-on-my-feet mentality. I have been blessed with a beautiful, healthy child who until very recently ate everything I gave him. Whole tomatoes as a snack, sweet potatoes in every variety and avocadoes peeled and chopped. He would look at a salad bar like it was the candy store. But sadly, this trend of healthy eating came to a quick, abrupt stop. Not a halt but a stop!

Somehow, my son has developed a super-human skill of knowing what a vegetable is. I know he can see colors, but he can apparently also tell the texture of a vegetable as well. Gone are the days of his plate full of tomatoes and here are the meals with hidden vegetables. My mother-in-law was shocked to see me put lima beans in applesauce. Gross to us, yes, but guess what, it works. I also hide lots of veggies in tomato sauce which has about a 50 percent chance of working.

But because I enjoy planning, even meals that I think will be yum for the hubby and me, I spent an hour one weekend planning out some meals for the week that could incorporate vegetables in hidden varieties. Monday night I finely chopped some squash and made 90-percent lean beef patties with chopped squash to become a somewhat veggie burger. I had leftover beef and made them into veggie/meat balls for spaghetti the next night. I used some fresh mushrooms and made homemade sweet potato “fries” in the oven.

My husband was a good sport, as he usually is, and ate along with us. I made him some tater tots and bacon to accompany his burger, but nonetheless he eats what I make. Sitting down with my son I couldn’t wait to watch him enjoy my veggie/hamburger. One bite and he immediately hated it, threw it on the floor and looked at me like “what is next?” I had just spent 45 mins cooking him what I thought was a nice dinner and he killed it in 2 seconds. Hmmm, time to be creative.

He did manage to eat the potatoes, some applesauce and a glass of milk. I found some yogurt in the fridge and some bananas. I, on the other hand, enjoyed the heck out of my cold burger and potatoes. My lesson learned was that in life, we always need a back up plan. I’ve known this from a financial perspective and a career perspective (much to the chagrin of my parents, being a writer WAS my back up plan!), but never from a parenting perspective. I now know that food needs a backup plan, clothes, even diapers and toys. So the next time you see a mom traveling with a suitcase for a diaper bag, you’ll know why.

And wouldn’t’ you know, the next night, the exact same veggie/meat balls in spaghetti were the best thing he’d ever tasted. He ate green beans doused in tomato sauce, the same mushrooms from the night before, whole-wheat pasta and tomatoes as well as the squash in the meatballs. Who knew!


Typical mealtime mess at a restaurant

Now Click Your Heels Together Three Times and Say…

There’s no place like home

I’ve heard the expression home is where the heart is a million times. It immediately conjures images of country craft décor like cross-stitched pillow or framed photo. I think of some place like Cracker Barrel selling this clichéd phrase on many of its pieces. While there is some truth to it, I like to think of Miss Dorothy Gale from the Wizard of Oz. Her words ring more true with me, as there truly is no place like home.

At 18, I wanted nothing more than to get away from Greenville, S.C. Although I was only three hours away and still near quite a bit of family, I felt like I moved “away” when I enrolled at the University of Tennessee. The only one from my high school at UT, I was beyond thrilled to move away and make friends and start a new life. NEVER would I have thought I’d move back to Greenville, marry a guy from Greenville and go to my same church as a child.

But with age comes wisdom, or perhaps laziness, and I am definitely much older (not sure if any wiser) and I am back in Greenville. Well, right outside the city limits in Powdersville. But my point is that being back “home” is exactly where I want to be.

I spoke with an old friend this past weekend who had fallen on hard times and decided to move “home.” He quit his job, got divorced and is moving to Greenville. Although he hasn’t lived here in 12 years and really hasn’t even visited much, this is still his home.  He realized after many years of shunning the city where he grew up, it was actually the one place he could always go back to. He is no longer ashamed and is leaving the big city life to come home to a quieter place.

But it is actually not that quiet here. In fact, I think he will be quite surprised to see what our city has become when he returns. Greenville is constantly on every nationwide list for up-and-coming cities, best places for young professionals, fastest growth, best manufacturing, top for outdoors, etc. I’m sure we’re not at the top of every list but I know we are on many of them. In fact, here is a fantastic video showcasing some of the amazing things in Greenville: We are three hours to the beach, 30 to the mountains, 1.5 hours to Charlotte, 2 hours to Atlanta, affordable real estate, decent-to-good job market, a home to a million art and food and wine festivals, amazing restaurants, beautiful parks and my new favorite, the Swamp Rabbit bike trail. It’s 26 miles of paved trails through the woods from one city to another.

Like my aforementioned friend, I once fell on hard times and lost my job and needed to move home. I was house-less but not home-less. My parents let me move in, gave me some strict rules ( I was 25) but let me live there rent-free until I got back on my feet. They provided meals and some guidance, albeit not what I always wanted to hear, and took me in. Not too much later I met a guy I would later marry and started my writing career.

I bought my first home, in Greenville. Met my husband, in Greenville. Got a dog, had a child, bought another home, all outside of, but still near—Greenville. My husband’s entire family lives in Greenville and with the exception of my sister, my immediate family is here too. My son will grow up getting to see ALL of his grandparents within a 20-minute drive. This excites me like no other because he will have an abundance of experiences with them that will provide a lifetime of memories.

I love being able to go to the same church where I grew up. I was confirmed there, married there, my son was baptized there and now my husband is a member as well. It too, is home. There are people still there who knew me when I was a baby and some who can’t believe my family has been members for that long. NEVER did I think my husband and I would join a church 25 minutes away. I thought for sure we would go somewhere near our house because just getting to church on a Sunday was hard enough. Adding 30 minutes to the drive was even more ludicrous. Yet when we kept going back and becoming more involved, I realized it was my church HOME. And S. felt the same way…he felt at HOME there too. So now, it is our home on Sundays and sometimes Saturdays, Wednesdays and as soon as basketball season starts, probably Thursdays too.

My ramblings today just reinforce what I already know: that it is good to be home. There’s no place I’d rather be, not even Tennessee. We may be rednecks in South Carolina but like the license plate says, nothing could be finer.

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Do What Makes You Happy

Today I got on the scale. I was hoping for a big number. I completely obeyed my Weight Watchers plan. Stayed within my points. Got extra activity points for Zumba, Spin Class, Swimming, Jogging/Walking and Weight training. I had three beers all week. I cooked things like grilled chicken caprese with very little cheese and zucchini oven-baked chips instead of fries. I went to the farmers’ market and bought fresh produce. I ate bulgur, black beans, quinoa and lots and lots of lettuce. I ate protein, drank lots and lots of water. Ate lots and lots of veggies. Are we seeing at theme here?

I entered my WW class where people where every week we clap for the people in the class to acknowledge their accomplishments. Each week I keep thinking they will hopefully clap for me. After all, I’m making healthy changes each week and trying to be more active. Just this past week alone I did five completely different workouts. My son found it particularly interesting to see me do the Zumba Wii game and giggled with delight at my attempts of Latin dancing. If it were American Idol or the Gong show I would have been booted off immediately. But I kept on dancing. My calf is bruised to hell from the spin bike episode where my bike was the wrong size (see earlier post) and apparently I was still not even riding it correctly. To think I’ve done triathlons yet can’t even ride a stationery bike without injuring myself in some way. And I swam, which was sheer delight, even though my 800 yards were not quite the time I would have liked. But hopefully tomorrow I’ll swim 1000!

So today, I thought, this would be my big week. Maybe 2 pounds lost? “you’ve maintained your weight from last week” She said. MAINTAINED? As in, did not even lose an ounce? Which yes, they count the ounces. I wanted to scream W-T-F at the bubbly teacher but decided against it. I sulked privately, sat down in the back of the room and listened as we celebrated so and so’s 5 percent loss, so and so’s 10 percent loss and one girl even reached her goal weight!

I walked across campus back to my office (2 activity points) and found an email waiting for me. It said, Do one thing every day that makes you happy. I started thinking about this and realized how much I love it. I think it’s easy to get caught up in all the fast-paced, millions of things we must do every day. If I want to drink a glass of wine because it makes me happy, so be it (just need to log my points in my Weight Watchers queue). If it makes me happy to let my son stay up 15 minutes later, and probably makes him happy too, so be it. We are not guaranteed another day on this planet and while I am trying very hard to make myself healthier, I need to make sure I am happy too.

I think I forget sometimes to do something just for the sake of pure enjoyment. It’s so hard to get into a routine, esp during the week, that maybe I forget to get off of auto-pilot and do something like drive the long way round or stop to smell the proverbial flowers. To me, rolling down the windows and singing at the top of my lungs makes me happy. It doesn’t add any calories nor hurt anyone else, except maybe the passenger in my car or the person I drive by who crashes from laughing so hard.

But mostly I thought about the email and how I don’t need to beat myself up for not being a certain number on the scale. If I know I am eating healthy and being active more days than not, then that’s the best I can ask of myself right now. But life will sure be a lot happier if I take one moment a day to do something that makes me happy. Thankfully, food does not make me happy but rather a long phone call with a friend does. Playing my guitar for 20 minutes and going through old photo albums. These are things that maybe I forget to do because I’m so focused on other activities. But now on, I will try to do at least one thing a day that makes me happy. I’m guessing some of the other struggles will come much easier.

Yoga Pants = Love?

I was recently asked to marry two friends, V & N. While I can’t say I’ve known them for a long time, I feel very connected to them, the bride in particular. When asked to be their officiant, I was quite surprised yet flattered. Although I will not be legally marrying them (bc God has not asked me to be an Ordained minister), I will be leading the ceremony in front of their 300 closest friends. This is quite a task. I’ve been taking notes here and there and thinking about my own wedding. Thinking about how so many people are so happy to get to the reception that I wonder how many actually listen to the words that others (and dare i say the bride and groom themselves) recite. Perhaps this will be good for my nerves if no one is actually listening. But for the couple’s sake, I hope they are at least 🙂

In trying to plan for this wedding I am thinking about the word love and how it has so many meanings. As a wordsmith and fan of all the nuances found in the English language, I am a sucker for homonyms and words with multiple meanings. Love doesn’t really fall into those two categories but it is probably one of the most subjective words we have. It can mean something different to all of us. I feel love when I look at my son every day. And I love being a wife, mother, daughter, friend and sister. We can say we love our job or we love our home. Those are feelings we have toward something, almost like an adjective. But how does one define love? How do you define love?

I remember the first time my husband told me he loved me. We were at a bar, listening to jazz music with friends in Tennessee. I had taken him WAY out of his comfort zone (he hates jazz) and drug him to Tennessee with me to see Trey Anastasio (he wasn’t a huge fan at the time) in concert. The next day, he went with me to a Tennessee football game (also a first) and on Sunday, went to meet my ENTIRE extended family. Somewhere in between all of the action-packed weekend events, he found love in those “firsts” with me. Without a doubt I can say he is the love of my life. I knew early on that our relationship was something special. Not one to jinx things, I cannot say i knew right away I would marry him. But i knew we had a love worth fighting for and figuring out.

To me, love is when you go from being in lust, you see someone’s faults and imperfections and you are okay with them because the good outweighs the bad. Love is unconditional in its realest form and sustains time and generations. Love is when you can wear your  yoga pants and a T-shirt and feel sweaty from the gym, hair a mess, and your husband tells you how beautiful you are. Love is your father playing on the ground with your son in a hilarious game of peekaboo. Love is two friends drinking wine, laughing so hard it comes out of their noses when retelling a hilarious story from their past. To me, love is all around in even the simplest of tasks.

I hope I will be able to find the words to make my two friends proud to have me unite them in matrimony. I hope to define love in a way that will resonate solely with them and make their day special. They probably didn’t know just how much I felt loved when they asked me to marry them, but I do. It is something I feel truly honored with and cannot wait to be a part of. Even if i don’t have a clue what I’m doing. Maybe I should recite the things I just wrote. Hmm…I wonder if V wears yoga pants?

Early love…

Spin Cycle

In my quest for exercising more and being healthier, I’ve recently done a 5k and then today, went to a spin class. I had done both before but it’s been at least two years since I did the cyclical torture known as a Spin Class. The 5k went well and the spin class I survived but wow did it remind me how out of shape I am.

I showed up right on time and found about 20 girls, about 20 years old, and a super-fit instructor yelling over music I’d never heard. I wonder how well I would do if they blared Phish at spin class. Knowing me I would fall off from the pseudo dancing I would find myself doing.

At first, I overlooked the fact that my bike’s seat was not adjusting and someone who was about 4’11 must have ridden it before me. My knees were giving my face black eyes and I finally realized that this would not be sustainable for the next 45 mins. So i switched to another bike, which was again broken, and tried to find a third. Meanwhile, the girls next to me were climbing the hill to oblivion and I couldn’t even get on the damn bike. Hoping the third time was the charm, I found a bike a decent height and got on, only to realize it was meant for people who wear shoes with built in clips. Hmm, I looked down at my Brooks sneaks and no top clips there. Strike three. Finally, i was now at the end of the room, the girls around me were now sprinting to some “Don’t Stop Believing” and i find a bike. I am too ready to get on the thing to even bring it up to join the rest of the class (a good thing i later realized) and decide to start spinning in the back.

I somehow make it through the class, although I will admit, I could not stand up and ride the entire time. But when i did sit down, and immediately had butt pains from the skinny-ass seat (pun intended), I pedaled as fast as I could. I looked down at the ground and focused, reminding myself that I was doing this to be a better me. ALthough i was almost twice as old as the girls around me, I kept on pedaling and was proud of myself for getting out of the comfort zone and getting back in a class. Tomorrow on the agenda is swimming and Friday, Zumba–an old fave.

Total Weight Watchers Loss= 4.6. Today’s Weigh-In= .06 down. Not very much but more than half a pound. This week i challenge myself to get in lots of cardio and healthy foods. We’ll see how next week’s weigh-in goes.


C is excited to reach the finish line