Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My birthday

As a kid you always look forward to your birthday. I still do. The thought of getting another year older makes me truly happy. Think about the alternative.

However, since 1993, every time my birthday approaches I can't help but recall the tragic events that have happened over the years since then. My birthday reminds me of Waco and the Branch Davidians. I remember seeing the house on fire, and so many people dying. Then in 1995, the bombing in Oklahoma City at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. I remember the feeling of helplessness for all of those people; especially the children. And now, the Boston Marathon. More senseless death.

Each year is a time to celebrate another year of life on this earth. Yet, over the years, I've began to hold my breath and I say a prayer that nothing It happens again when my birthday week rolls around. My heart sinks and goes out to all of those have been effected by all of these tragedies. I wonder when it will stop. At a time I want to celebrate, I'm reminded of the evil that lurks in our society.

On top of all the tragedy that has taken place in our society, we had the explosion at the fertilizer plant in West Texas. Coupled with the death of my niece's mother on the same day. Instead of a birthday cake this year, I morned the loss of her at her funeral yesterday. I watched two girls that will forever be without their mother.

However, this year I'm still going to celebrated the fact that I am here. I'm going to be mindful that this time thirty-eight years ago, I began my journey. I'm thankful I had another year to see my daughter grow. After all, when she was five weeks old I wasn't sure if I would even be here to see her first birthday. I thank God everyday that I am. So, even if it is my own private celebration, I will celebrate. Regardless, I am thankful.

As I write this, I realize what I need to do to bring balance to this crazy world. I need to embrace the past and look to the future. What impact can I have on encouraging goodness in others? For my birthday this year, I will not let the evilness invade my every thought this year. I will refocus on what I can do to seek out and spread love to others instead of hate.

I will choose love and strength to fight this battle. I will choose faith over fear.

It's MY birthday week. I'm taking it back.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What happens when a mother takes her life

A mother's number one job is to protect her children from harm.

She is who they draw their strength from.

She is their comfort. Their everything.

What happens when a mother feels so helpless? Who does she turn to?

Her children bring her such joy, but when is that not enough?

What is going through the mind of a lost soul? Where is the line blurred? When is the line so out of focus that it is crossed? Forever.

It's unimaginable. The ultimate betrayal to a child. The mother leaves this world by her own hands. She drifts into sleep. Forever.

Who is left to pick up the pieces of a child's broken heart? Their crushed souls that are crumbled into tiny little pieces never to be put together the same again.

No one.

No matter how many people love and comfort the children, there is no replacement.

There will always be a void that no other person can fill.

Not a father.
Not a sister.
Not a brother.
Not an aunt.
Not an uncle.
Not even a grandparent.

A decision perhaps in desperation that can never be taken back.

No one will never know why, but the question will always linger . . . what could I have done?

I will never know the demons that she fought, but I will do my best by the children she left behind. I will remind them every day that they are loved.


Just two days ago, I received a phone call that my (step*) niece's mother was in the hospital. We later found out that she had overdosed on prescription pills. With what was found, it was no accident. Today we received news that she is brain dead. She was taken off life support, and passed this afternoon.The family has decided to donate her organs; which is the best gift you can give to another family. Although I did not know her mother personally, I am extremely sad. Sad for many reasons. I'm extremely sad that she saw no other way out. I'm sad she didn't have anyone to turn to; or to ask for help if she felt like she could not go on. I'm sad for her children, her disabled mother she lived with that will forever have that lasting memory of finding her child unresponsive, and her other family and friends. I'm sad that she left behind a 13 and 11 year old that will always ask why. The 13 year old has a strong support system within our family. However, I worry about the 11 year old that does not know who her father is; nor does she have the same support system. She is autistic and does not have the ability to understand what is going on. She doesn't understand why her mommy won't wake up. She's left sobbing and screaming "my heart is broken!" I will never understand. I am not angry at their mom. I do not know her struggles. I am simply sad.

For anyone that reads this, please share any experience that would help us cope with the situation. If you suspect that anyone you know is struggling, please reach out to them. It might just be what they need to make it through the day.

* I only refer to her as my step niece for clarification for those who might know me. She is my family no matter what.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Why I don't feel guilty

I'm about to venture on my first trip ALONE in years. 1998 to be exact. Before I was a wife or mother, I went to Europe by myself. I felt so independent and it was amazing. I actually planned on moving overseas. Then I met my husband. Things changed. Needless to say, my plans changed. We've been married for almost 13 years now. That just seems crazy typing this out. Surly I'm not old enough for that, right people? RIGHT!! Anyhoo . . . we have always done everything as a couple; which is great don't get me wrong. Even when we travel somewhere I always manage to get some alone time; mostly because he likes to nap. Heck, even when we go somewhere it's never a shock to our friends when he decides to go back to the hotel, and I go do my own thing, but he's there. Even after I had my daughter, it wasn't until she was four years old that we spent the night out at a hotel 20 miles from home. Now we frequently go out of town. However, this weekend it's just me. I'm stoked. I'm headed to New Orleans to see a friend's dream to come to fruition. His sister and him have been working on a side project, and have produced some wonderful new children's music. This weekend they're playing at the French Quarter Festival in New Orleans. I've been helping him promote it, and I'm grateful to be apart of this experience. I'm also grateful that my husband "gets it." I thought I was going to have to "sell" him on the idea, but as soon as I told him he told me I had to go. That makes me so much more excited. Why? Because I need this. I need to be independent. I need to go do my thing without having to say "what do you want to do?" Even know when my husband and I go out of town we pretty much do what I want to do. He's pretty laid back, and I always want to go, go, go. However, I just want the freedom of knowing I get to do what I want to do when I want to do it with no questions asked. Selfish? Maybe. Necessary? Yes. It's easy to get lost after almost 13 years of marriage. I've felt that a lot lately. So what am I going to do? I'm going to go and have fun. I'm going to meet up with friends. I'm going to have fun promoting my friend's new venture. More importantly, I'm going to leave my husband in charge of taking care of our daughter and know she's in good hand. They are going to have a great weekend. Honestly, she's ready for me to go. She's excited about daddy time. You know what? I'm excited about mommy time. ME time! It's only over night. So it's not a big deal, but it is at the same time it is for me. I'm looking forward to it and counting the hours. Sometimes we just need to hit the reset button and refresh. So that's what in doing. Does that make me a bad mom? I hope not. I hope it makes me a better one. I'm looking forward to it, and I expect to come back refreshed. Some times we just need to get away. Do you ever feel like this? If you do, I hope you get a chance to hit the refresh button. Maybe for an hour or over night. As the old saying goes, "if mom is happy, everyone is happy."

Monday, April 1, 2013

Rich Collins - All he needs is three chords.

Alrighty folks, I'm going to come right out and say it . . . I could come off a bit biased here. We have been an Imagination Movers family for years now. They have fantastic music for kids and adults, and their TV show is both smart and funny. As many parents know, kids can be all about one thing one day, and the next . . .well. They ask BEG you to get them the latest, greatest, just have to have because if not I'm going to explode, and the next day, POOF! They've moved on. Not my kid. My daughter discovered the Movers on Disney Junior when she was two years old. Now she is six and a half and they are still a part of her everyday routine. Every. Day. We have been to more of their live shows than I can count on two hands, and have met the greatest group of friends through these guys. My daughter is a loyal little human. From day one, Rich has always been her favorite. It may be her love for the drums, or maybe it is his hair. Who knows.

You may be asking yourself right now . . . Why in the hell is she going on about the Movers? Isn't this supposed to be a review about Rich's CD release party at the Rusty Nail? Come on lady! All right people! Let me explain.

When I heard Rich was working on a solo CD for the adult crowd, I must admit I was excited. We've been listening to the "kids" music for years, and thought, “Great something different for the adults.” Then, I thought, “This had better be good.” I am sure he felt the pressure. He and his fellow Movers have a catalogue of over 150 songs, and they are all great. That's a lot to live up to.

I digress. 

The Rusty Nail was the perfect New Orleans Bar to host his CD release party. After all, unbeknownst to many, Rich and his crew The Kangaroo Assassins had been preparing by playing open-mic nights leading up to the show. This became obvious when they took the stage. Rich Collins has been around the New Orleans music scene for some time now, and has surrounded himself with other fantastic musicians. Accompanying him on stage was drummer Kyle Melancon, a member of the Movers, and formerly Dash Rip Rock. On guitar, Todd "Whiskey T" McNulty of the band Country Fried. On bass, Rene Coman, a member of the Iguanas. On vocals, Daria Dzurik of Daria and the Hip Drops, Carla King Jewell, and Lizzy Dannemiller. Not to mention surprise guest Scott "Smitty" Smith on guitar from the Movers. 

When I arrived at the release party, I didn't know what to expect as far as the crowd. I don't live in New Orleans, but visit there frequently. Ironically, I was in NOLA a few weeks previously for Mardi Gras this year, and had a chance to check out Dash Rip Rock at this same venue. Dash had a pretty good crowd, but when I walked squeezed into the door I was overwhelmed with the crowd that had turned out for this event. It was shoulder to shoulder. After chatting with drummer Kyle Melancon, he mentioned that he had been there for many shows, but the bar was as packed as he had ever seen it. It was pretty damn amazing to see the support of all of Rich’s friends, family, well-wishers, and of course his fellow Movers. 

When the show kicked off, Rich started in the wrong key for his first song, Zombie Radio. How did he and the Kangaroo Assassins handle it? Like pros, of course. They just started over. As Rich said, they pulled a mulligan. They immediately found their groove. At this point, I slipped away from my friends and slipped into the music. Rich looked completely comfortable taking the reins in the spotlight, stepping out into his first solo endeavor, and I was completely impressed. The first few songs they played were ones I had received earlier to get a little preview, and was very familiar with them. These songs are very catchy, and will have you tapping along in no time. They transcended my expectations of hearing them live. What I wasn't expecting was the rest of the songs. As great as the ones were that I had heard before the show, I was completely blown away by the rest of the songs. It was like seeing a completely different side of a musician for the first time. It was a mix of funk, soul, playfulness, swankiness, and some deeper song lyrics. I was quickly caught up in the vocals of Daria and Carla as well. The soul in their voices intertwined together and stopped me in my tracks. The night was full of surprises. Smitty took the stage and joined in for a few songs. Rich handed off his guitar to him, and they played News of the Day. Next thing you know, Rich was holding his signature drink of the night, a "Bourbon Collins," in one hand and a mic in the other. I suddenly found myself listening to the sweet sounds of a cover of Bob Marley's Could You Be Loved. It was fantastic. After a well-deserved break, the guys and gals got up and did a second performance. It was a fantastic night; and true to his word, Rich got me his signature drink, the "Bourbon Collins" and we toasted to a successful night! CHEERS!

I am a girl that loves a live show. I try to catch as many as I can. There's nothing better than discovering new music, and sharing it. If you have not listened to Rich Collin's new CD, That Escalated Quickly, I highly recommend you check it out. Download it on iTunes or grab a copy on his website or Amazon. Be sure to check his website for his next upcoming event at Fulton on Tap, too. 

You can also find Mover Rich over on the Movers website

Special thanks to Chris Pierce over at Totally Driven Radio for asking me to do a review for their site. Tune in on Thursday, April 11th, to catch Jason & Layla talk about their upcoming show at the French Quarter Festival, as well as Jason Rhein's many projects. I look forward to giving another recap on Jason & Layla's first live show together!