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7/21/16 -- Where has the time gone?  Really - its almost been 2 years?  Where do I find myself now? Healed physically from the accident and a wife and a full time bonus mom of 5 great kids.   I need to put a few more things on my bucket list - but as of right now, my life consists of car pool and so much (SO MUCH) laundry.  I love you all....
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10/02/14 – What a summer.  Well – really where was summer?  I missed it because I was laying in bed or on a couch with my leg up trying to heal.  I spent what seemed like my two weeks of summer worried about Blaine, counting the days until I could hold his hand again.  The ordeal that we are experiencing is very real and not very original.  I just don’t wish it upon anyone.   So as I am healing – I find that there’s a new category to the list.  So if the Number is Black Bold and Crossed Out…it’s something I will never be able to do, after a lengthy discussion (read “argument”) with my physical therapist today.  These aren’t things I am giving up – they are things that recovering from my type of injury at 40 puts me at a place where Ill never run again. Walking 5K’s may be the extent of what I can handle and that will cause a great deal of pain/strain.  You all know I don’t cross things off this list lightly.  But I am not worried – its just a few things…Ill add plenty more later
J

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11/24/13 -- I find myself in the position to be very thankful for the life that I lead.  I'm dedicated to working hard.  I live a modest lifestyle.  I live frugally where I need to -- and spend where I want to! The experiences I have had this year were so humbling.  So I will continue on; and I hope you dance.
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5/19/13 – It’s still amazes me every single day the fantastic things that happen in life.  Regardless of how long or short we are here for – I will continue to work hard, play hard and love harder.
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10/08/11 -- There's been a lot of action on the bucket list....LOVING that my family and friends are all involved too! :)
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09/14/10 -- Time to revisit. What a fantastic summer of bucket listing! I mean, come ON! I got to fly a PLANE!!
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04/15/09 -- The last couple of weeks have been full of trips to hospitals, tons of medical tests and they still don’t know what is really wrong with my little battery-operated ticker. It's very frustrating. Made me think of my list...so here it is in all its glory...The List of Things To Do Before I Die (now commonly known as a "Bucket List")...My mom asked me why I keep adding stuff to the list, because I would never get it all done. So, I said "Um, I guess this means I really won’t have to die anytime soon then, huh?" ....Mom's response? "Keep adding stuff honey - keep adding stuff!!"
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Um, I am trying to put the things I’ve done in BOLD Red...and I’ll keep adding stuff as I add it into the Bucket List Book:

1. Walk through NYC in the middle of the Night
2. Have a Fenway Frank @ The Green Monster
3. See Graceland
4. Experience the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
5. Take a picture of Mt. Rushmore
6. See the Seattle Space Needle
7. Hike Mt. Rainer
8. Stand in two places at once
9. Las Vegas Baby - Yeah!!

10. Visit the Grand Canyon
11. Cross the Hoover Dam

12. See the Vietnam Wall
13. Escape from Alcatraz
14. Drive the Golden Gate Bride
15. Ride a Trolley in San Francisco

16. Fall in the love with the RIGHT guy
17. Hike Pikes Peak
18. See the Eternal Flame
19. Learn to Swim
20. Volunteer at a Pet Shelter
21. Stay the Night at 2 Meeting Street
22. Learn to Ballroom Dance
23. Ride the Chunnel
24. Take a picture of Big Ben
25. See England, Ireland and Scotland

26. Visit Italy
27. Write a book
28. Be in the same room as the Mona Lisa
29. Stand in front of the Pyramids of Giza
30. Explore Mayan Ruins

31. Go to a ball in a pretty red dress
32. Take belly-dancing classes
33. See the Marine Corps Monument
34. Go to the top of the Sears Tower
35. Walk through Boston Common
36. Make out with a stranger
37. Blow off work and spend the day at the movies
38. Dance under the stars
39. See Niagara Falls
40. Add to my education

41. Adopt a child (SORTA - HEY! I GET CREDIT HERE!!)
42. Go to New Orleans
43. Get a passport
44. Go to Canada
45. Learn to Salsa Dance
46. Compliment a Complete Stranger

47. Learn to play the Mandolin
48. See the "Hollywood" sign
49. 3 Words: Little Black Dress
50. Drink Wine in Napa Valley
51. Learn Fly Fishing
52. Camp for 4 days with no distractions

53. Pay off a mortgage
54. Go to Big Bone Lick State Park
55. See Foam Henge
56. See the Roanoke Star at Mill Mountain
57. Skydive
58. Go to Bridge Day
59. B.A.S.E. Jump the Bridge
60. White Water Raft the New River Gorge
61. Build Something

62. Be a LSS Black Belt
63. Make a difference in someone else's life
64. Observe a different religions holiday
65. Play in the rain

66. See the Grand Ole Opry
67. See the Natural Bridge
68. Tip someone 50% of the bill
69. Visit Temple Square
70. Receive a love letter

71. Hold Hands & Walk the Battery
72. Take Michael to a Buckeye Game

73. Hire a Personal Trainer
74. Walk an organized 5K
75. Run an organized 5K
76. Participate in a 1/2 Marathon

77. Participate in a full Marathon
78. Climb Stone Mountain in NC
79. Get kissed like it was my last kiss EVER
80. Go to 2 sporting events in one day
81. See the 4 Corners
82. Go on vacation alone
83. Harley Davidson!
84. Motorcycle ride through Gatlinburg
85. Get checkout by a stranger
86. Write a will
87. Walk the lower mall in DC
88. Hear I've added value to a friend's life
89. Own three dogs at once
90. Change a stranger’s life
91. Drink a beer in "Wapok" (Wapakoneta, OH)
92. One weekend of reckless abandon
93. Work a Charity Event
94. ***EDITTED FOR CONTENT*** (if you really want to know, just ask)

95. Marry Complete Strangers
96. Marry friends

97. Be Published
98. Learn some form of Martial Arts
99. Take up Rock Climbing
100. Serve on Jury Duty
101. Learn to Handle a Firearm

102. Swim with a dolphin
103. Have my portrait painted

104. Learn to speak a foreign language and USE IT
105. Watch the launch of the space shuttle in person
106. Spend the whole day eating junk food without guilt
107. Be an extra in a film/TV Show
108. Tell someone the story of my life sparing no details
109. Learn to rollerblade
110. Get a room with a view
111. Learn to take a compliment

112. Give my mom a dozen roses for absolutely no reason
113. Be a member of a TV Audience
114. Send a message in a bottle
115. Drive the Autobahn
116. Ride a camel in the desert
117. Get to know my neighbors
118. Plant a tree
119. Learn not to say yes, when I really mean no
120. Write a fan letter to my all-time favorite hero/heroine
121. Go to Walden Pond & read Thoreau while drifting in a canoe
122. Be someone’s mentor
123. Shower in a waterfall
124. Write a personal mission statement, follow it & revise it
125. See a lunar eclipse
126. Spend New Year’s Eve in an exotic location
127. Sing a song in front of an audience
128. Ask someone I've just met out on a date

129. Drive across America from coast to coast
130. Make a complete and utter fool of myself
131. Own one very expensive (but wonderful) suit
132. Spend a whole day reading a great novel
133. Lean to juggle with three balls
134. Overcome my fear of failure
135. Drive a convertible with the top down and the music blaring
136. Accept myself for who I am

137. Go up in a hot air balloon
138. Attend a rock concert
139. Give to a charity anonymously
140. Have someone feed me fruit seductively

141. Kiss the Blarney Stone and develop the gift of gab
142. ***EDITTED FOR CONTENT*** (if you really want to know, just ask)
143. Create my own website
144. See the top of the Statue of Liberty
145. Create my family tree
146. Make a hole in one (putt putt counts)
147. Learn to bartend
148. Reflect on my greatest weakness and realize how it is my greatest strength
149. Make bread from scratch
150. Plan the ultimate adventure vacation & TAKE IT!
151. Coach a youth sports team

152. Fly to another state and come home the same day
153. Dunk a basketball
154. Get a tattoo (or 12!)
155. Go through a toll & pay for myself and the car behind me
156. Wish on a shooting star
157. Catch a firefly & put him in a jar
158. Leave a dollar where a kid can find it

159. Lend money to a friend without expecting it back
160. Ride a gondola
161. Stand on the Great Wall
162. Ride a Horse

163. Visit a REAL Blues club in Chicago
164. Learn to surf
165. Shake hands with someone who's changed the country
166. Go to a Renaissance Festival
167. Try fencing

168. Learn to Say Hello in 20 different languages
169. Go Parasailing
170. Ride a Mechanical Bull
171. See the Colosseum in Rome
172. Go to Disneyland
173. Visit all 50 states

174. Learn to read tarot cards
175. Have my fortune told
176. Fly a Kite
177. Learn to brew my own beer

178. Learn to make candles
179. Create a mandala
180. Learn to meditate
181. Build for Habitat for Humanity
182. Create a home with an inviting, joyous, comfortable & loving atmosphere
183. Go Whale Watching
184. See a platypus
185. Grow a bonsai tree
186. Be a spectator at a fashion show

187. Drink in the sunset
188. Be completely ridiculous
189. Plant pots of varied, multicolored flowers
190. Learn forgiveness

191. Find inner peace
192. Read "The Last Lecture"
193. Write the story of my life
194. Watch every single James Bond movie
195. Sing out loud in a music store

196. Turn off my cell for a week
197. Bury a time capsule
198. Go to the Opera

199. Make my own pasta
200. Go skinny-dipping at midnight
201. Learn to throw a boomerang
202. Cut my own hair
203. Wear a formal dress for an entire day

204. Make a baby laugh
205. ***EDITTED FOR CONTENT*** (if you really want to know, just ask)
206. Send flowers to a friend for no reason
207. Be completely silent for a day
208. Take a cruise
209. Receive flowers for no reason

210. Take a Pole Dancing class
211. Eat a warm cookie straight from the oven

212. Open a Swiss Bank Account
213. Learn to Roll a Kayak
214. Vacation to Hawaii
215. Go to the Drive-In & make out like a teenager the whole time

216. Try one new food every day for a week
217. Be someone completely different for a night
218. Pay it forward in one way or another
219. Totally rock an outfit I'm 20 years too old to wear
220. Reconnect with old friends
221. Make some new "lifelong" friends
222. Go to an art gallery & meet the artist
223. Meet & get an autograph from a favorite author
224. Do something completely inappropriate ON PURPOSE because I can

225. Learn to snowboard
226. Eat a Chocolate Covered Cricket
227. ***EDITTED FOR CONTENT*** (if you really want to know, just ask)
228. Photograph a waterfall
229. Visit the Reagan Presidential Library
230. Be in a Shark Cage
231. Run/Walk a full 10K Race

232. Participate in a Triathlon
233. Have a $20 thrift store dinner night with my girlfriends
234. Celebrate being a bachelorette
235. Plan & execute a pub-crawl with my friends
236. See the Northern Lights
237. Learn to knit
238. Play Frisbee Golf @ Great Seal State Park
239. See Devils Tower in Wyoming
240. See Badlands National Park
241. Go to the Corn Palace
242. Experience Wall Drug Store
243. Perform a wedding at a prison
244. Front a rock band for a song
245. Go to an Air Show

246. Attend an Indian Pow-Wow
247. Learn to practice yoga
248. Visit the Painted Canyon

249. Ride through the Florida Keys
250. Go to Daytona Bike Week
251. STURGIS!!!
252. See the 60 foot tall Jolly Green Giant
253. Stand in the headwaters of the Mississippi River
254. Go on a ride-a-long with a City of Dayton Police Officer
255. Be in three places at once

256. Place flowers at a roadside memorial of a person I do not know
257. Karaoke some Beastie Boys
258. Go to Bemidiji and see the Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues
259. Put my toes in all five great lakes
260. Fly a plane
261. See Buffalo Bill Cody's Grave
262. Go to Powell Lake with Kartchners
263. Crash a party I'm way too old to be at!
264. See Neuschwanstein Castle
265. Visit the Christkindlmarkt
266. See the Munich Glockenspiel

267. Learn to ice skate
268. Check on Czech
269. See the Austrian Alps
270. Get my kicks on Route 66
271. Have a Beignet and a Cafe Au Lait at Cafe du Monde
272. Ziplines!
273. Find 5 Peace Poles
274. See the Metal Teepee
275. Have a meal at the Original KFC (Sanders Cafe)
276. Visit the Museum of Appalachia

277. Basket Weaving - but not the underwater kind :)
278. Go to a Speakeasy
279. Drive on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH)
280. Experience the drive down Lombard Street
281. Participate in a flash mob
282. XBOX for 10 hours straight (bathroom breaks only!)
283. Spend the day drinking beer and never have the same one twice

284. Hike part of the Appalachian Trail
285. Pick up a hitch hiker
286. Celebrate New Year’s Eve Twice in one night....in two different time zones
287. See Trevi Fountain
288. See the Spanish Stairs
289. Inspire someone else’s Bucket List
290. Have a scoop of ice cream at the original Ben & Jerry’s
291. Visit Vatican City

292. Have a Bad Juan in every Elsa’s location
293.

Words....

This must be what it feels like to be a kid who hasn't taken her Ritalin.  My focus has been all over the place tonight.  I’ve changed the subject and content of this particular blog post three times. Yes….No….bang....zoom....squirrel! My cell phone broke AGAIN and to be quite honest with you -- it was welcomed silence.   Sure it was a struggle, because I didn’t have ANYONE'S cell phone memorized (with the exception of my sisters and maybe my parents.) but it gave me time to be inside my head for a while.    I am not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I started writing again.  I forgot how much I love to journal. 
Pen to paper and let my everything, words and emotions, pour out.  I just re-read the last 8 days of writing and realized a few things: 
1) I learned to take time and smell the roses.  And it didn’t suck.
2) I have a crush on the person who invented the “Block” feature
3) Sunday/DVR day used to mean the world to me.  I don’t know how or why I got away from them.
4) I love with reckless abandon. This is not a flaw.
5) I went dancing with some friends. It was a fantastic night.
6) I have a lot of plans to travel this summer.  That excites me.
7) My tolerance for BS is way far less than it used to be.
8) Grown adults can be mean. Really, really mean.
9) When you tell someone the truth, they almost seem shocked by it.
10) Clear Eyes; Full Hearts; Never Lose J
Words get stuck sometimes.  Words are misinterpreted.  Words will hurt.  Words can surprise.  Words are beautiful.  Sometimes the most simple words have the most profound meaning.  I wish I could take back some of the words I’ve used this month.  Actually, I’ve run out of words to use tonight.  This all made WAY more sense in my head.  I have so much on my mind and in my heart and the words are just kinda stuck.  Not the kind of stuck that keeps me swimming around inside my head and want to retreat from the world.  I’ve been there before.  Not fun at all.   I mean the kinda stuck that tries to organize and then push through all that, finds the challenge and enjoy life again.  The way it was meant to be enjoyed. 

Pieces and Parts

Tonight I was running late for mother/daughter dance so I called my sister and had her arrange to get the Doodlebug up to the studio to meet me there. She got there - we went into the room and I started to put on my jazz shoes (shut up, that’s a real thing!) and one of the other mothers opens the door to our practice room and says "Who drives a tan or white Murango?" I had a quick inward chuckle because I have a dear friend call it my Murango and I said "I drive a silver Murano....why?" and her head just dropped.

Doodle immediately tensed up and asked with some fear in her voice "Nindy, what’s wrong?" I reassured her that absolutely nothing was wrong. Because in my mind, nothing could be wrong -- I am about to enjoy mother/daughter dance and we are both safe and laughing in this practice room. I then asked the other mother "Would it be better if I came outside?" and as she nodded I walked out.

When I got into the lobby of the dance studio her other daughter and her husband were there. I immediately assumed it was the teenage daughter....but no. It was the husband. He backed into my car. First thing out of my mouth was to them both...."Are you ok?" He laughed and just said he was embarrassed. He kept apologizing. I kept telling him it was just plastic parts. I went out to take a look while I was getting my insurance information. It’s just plastic parts.

I went inside and I continued to smile. He and his daughter both commented that they couldn’t believe how calm I was. I told them again -- it’s just pieces and parts.....that I was more worried about their well being than anything else. Was I mad? No....it was an accident. They call them that for a reason. In the grand scheme of life -- this is such a small, small thing. The daughter said "I hope if I ever get into an accident, it’s with someone like you" I told her not to expect that...but that if she were ever hit or anything like this ever happened to her -- she would benefit from keeping herself calm and making a joke about it. If I had still had the Doodlebug in the car, I would have reacted the same way. As long as everyone is OK....that’s what the insurance is for....and we both have the same insurance so it will be easy easy easy.

It made me think back to the night two years ago....on my way to Mother/Daughter dance for the very first time and I wrecked (almost totaled) my car. I remember the first responder, who happened to be a friend of Adams, say in the calmest, most gentle voice "As long as you’re ok. The rest is just pieces and parts. No need to worry now." And as my erratic, battery operated heart raced all love the place he continued to try and keep me calm. I thought back to that tonight.

It’s all just pieces and parts. As long as you're ok.

And I am.....I am ok.

I almost missed the boat...

This really starts a few nights before we were supposed to leave, I kept having this dream I was not getting on the boat. Then it was the Friday night before the cruise....Adam and I met for pizza at Marian's and we had a bite to eat and then when we were walking back to the car talking about the fact I was picking him up early the next morning so we could join our entire family in Orlando at 11 am Saturday morning to go towards the cruise ship!

So walking towards the car....I told Adam I had the same dream a few times....that there was only one seat left on the plane to the cruise ship. Bizarre, since we both had boarding passes the next morning. So, picked Adam up, we clear security and head to the gate after picking up some breakfast. You see, we don’t have any baggage because Jamie has driven it down several days early. Walk right on the plane...right walk off to the Florida sunshine.

734 am : We board the plane. We are laughing and joking with each other. The entire plane is boarded....it’s a buzz with excitement because we are supposed to leave at 8 am. Everyone in their seats, everyone ready to go.

815 am : Adam and I are sitting in two aisle seats. I look down the aisle...and I see the cockpit door is still open. I know something is wrong....we were supposed to leave at 8 am. The cockpit door is still open....no news to the entire passenger group as we all sit seat belted in.  I don't think anyone else realizes there is a even a problem!

823 am : "We are experiencing a mechanical issue. A mechanic is on his way". So I look at Adam and say that if this plane doesn’t get off the ground in about 20 minutes we aren’t going to make our connection. "The mechanic won’t be here for another 30 minutes".  Problem.

From my seat, I call AirTran Customer Service. I explain to the voice in the other end of the phone that we need to get to Orlando by 230 pm. I ask what our options are. There's a flight that leaves Atlanta at 140 pm and gets us in to Orlando at 330 pm. I explain we are supposed to board the cruise ship at 230. He then proceeds to tell me that he has a direct flight from Dayton leaving 1147 am getting in to Orlando at 127 pm. BUT THERE'S ONLY ONE SEAT LEFT. I put Adam on that flight.  My stomach is sick just thinking about it. I couldn't even think about my niece and nephews and my sister that are already in Orlando....I can't send them on this vacation of a lifetime without their Dad.  So I call for the flight attendant.   I tell her Adam has to get off the plane. I hold the tears until he's gone, if he saw me cry he wouldnt have left. I call my parents and my sisters and explain what's happening. I spend the next two hours off and on the phone with my sisters and they tell me that if I don’t think I am going to make that 140 plane (I have a confirmed seat) then I need to get off the plane. However, this isn’t EVEN an option for us -- they pull us away from the gate when it’s finally fixed....to wait....and wait...and wait.....

1030 am : They come on the loud speaker and explain we are third in line to be de-iced. Yes, we've been sitting on the plane for three hours.

1130 am : We are finally getting de-iced. We should be leaving Dayton soon. We are in line to take off. My plane is actually on the runway BEHIND Adam's plane.

We leave and head to Atlanta. I arrive in Terminal D and run full speed to Terminal C. My plane is supposed to leave Atlanta at 140 pm. I get a text; Adam has made it to Orlando. Everyone else from my family are on their way headed towards the cruise ship and I am still in Atlanta Hartsfield.  I now know that there's a back up plan in case I do not touch down by 4 pm. Ill explain that later.

140 pm : I am supposed to be snug in seat 11C. However, the plane that I was supposed to fly to Orlando in has YET TO ARRIVE from Indianapolis.

158 pm : Plane is in....and they are deplane-ing it as quickly as possible. My sister reminds me I need to touch down....just be on the ground in Orlando at 4 pm....

223 pm : I am in the seat....they are going to get us out of Atlanta as soon as they can. I’m trying to hold myself together. Just touch down at 4pm, just touch down at 4 pm.

348 pm : We have landed in Orlando, but we aren’t at the gate yet. Why? Congestion on the run way. My cell phone is almost dead. My sister texts me "There will be a Cruise line person at the gate to escort you through the airport." I explained to the girl sitting next to me the whole ordeal I had been through all day and as Business Class was deplaning she yells "EVERYONE OUT OF THE WAY, THIS GIRL HAS A CRUISE TO MAKE"....I run up the jet way and there are two linebackers in Disney Cruise gear holding signs for me. I run up "That’s me!" and the older one says "Can you run?" as he takes my backpack from me .....and off we go.

358 pm : I am checked into the cruise. I have my "Key to the World" but I am still at Orlando Airport. My cellphone is dead so I can’t tell my family I've arrived. Disney cruise personnel ask me one more time "Can you run?" I say yes.....away we go again...to the buses waiting.

405 pm : Disney Cruise Line sent a 55 seat passenger coach to the airport to pick me up. Just me. And then Gene, the driver, drove me all the way there and we talked about my day and how I got there. Its 60 miles from Orlando to Port Canaveral.

455 pm : Gene gets a call from the ships terminal. "Gene, go ahead a pull into bus gate #5" Gene comes back and says "I am going to drop this girl at the curb instead Bob." And Bob says "You can’t do that Gene" whereas Gene comes back and says "She has no bags, and she will be off the bus before anyone says anything to her" and that’s exactly what Gene does. Right at the curb. I walk through and everyone says "Hello Cynthia" to me. I notice the metal detector right away and explain that I can’t go through that as I send my backpack on the belt. I pull my t-shirt aside and show my pacemaker scar. I assume the position and we laugh that I call this my "preflight massage" because I used to travel so much for work. I turn. I see the ship's officer dressed all in white. "G'day Ms. Martin, I am Stephen. Are you ok to walk briskly?"

Yes, Stephen...yes I can...and briskly we walk/ran all the way through the building....then we run down the escalator....were the gangway is already put away. Where crewmembers are staring at us.....and we run to the aft of the ship. There are 4 ship's officers in dress whites there to greet me. They walk me aboard the ship and the hatch closes. I give them my "Key to the World" ....they are still busy trying to get ships supply’s ready. Stephen walks me to the elevator midship and says take this to Deck 3 to Guest Services....they will help you.

The ship is already moving. I have no clue where my family is. I ask the woman at Guest Services....."How do I find my family" she tells me they are "e;probably all up on at the Bon Voyage party on Deck 11". My heart is racing. I am still in shock I am on the boat. So I take the elevator up to Deck 9. I am midship so I start walking aft towards my stateroom. I see Audrey...then I see Austin and Porter.....then I see Taylor, Mackenzie and Dylan. I am yelling down the hall for them.....no one hears me. I then see my brother in law, EP, I yell for him and the kids turn and start running at me yelling "NINDY, NINDY, NINDY!!!" I meet them half way. Then my sisters run and hug me. Of course we are all crying. I turn the corner and fall into my Dad's arms. It’s all ok, because sometimes, even as a grown women, everything is ok once you get a hug from your Daddy.   But where's mom? I ask.  Mom's in her stateroom crying because she thinks I missed the boat, he said.   I bang on the door.  She's taking her time....later I find out because she doesn’t want her grandkids to see her crying.  Until she seems me.  We collapse into each other’s arms crying and laughing.....

Then we begin the vacation of a LIFETIME….all 13 of us!

(As a side note:  Had I not made the 4 pm dead line, because we purchased travel insurance, I would have later flown to St. Thomas and met the family on January 1 when the boat docked.  Always, ALWAYS purchase the travel insurance.  There was a family of 7 that didn’t….they didn’t get into Orlando until 5 pm.  They missed the ship.  Disney was gonna try to help them out with something comparable…..but they wouldn’t have been flown to St. Thomas.)

A Month of Thankfulness

So the challenge came out to post a status every day for the things that you are thankful for.  I thought it might be hard to do, but then after the first week it became easier and easier.  Then I pulled them all up and started reading them.  Some of the status updates made me laugh; some of them brought a tear to my eye; but all of them reminded me that I live a very blessed life. I know I say that a lot....but I refect back on the events over the past few years I have a lot of reasons to be thankful.   Facing my mortality really woke me up to the fact that I wasnt really living my life....I was just kind of existing.  I realized that I didnt want that...that I wanted to enjoy my life more.  That I was the only person who could make that happen.  I made it a mission of mine which is really no secret.  I really enjoy my life, despite the challenges.  I dont live my life to make others happy, but I am hoping that if I continue to live my life in the manner of which I do now that I bring happiness to others.  

So no matter how long I am here on earth, I have daily reminders of the things for which I am thankful.  When a friend sends a text that makes me laugh.  When I get a hug from one of my favorite little people.  When I spend time with my friends and family.  When I travel and get to experience new things.  I'm going to try and remember to think of things that I am thankful for every day....and I will try harder to call them out when they happen.  That is very important to me.

So here they are in all their glory:

Nov 30 = So the month is over in a little over the hour.  I am thankful that you all tolerated a month full of status updates supporting this month.  I actually only highlighted just a few of the things that I am thankful for.....but reflecting back on the last 29 days actually makes my heart warm.

Nov 29 = Today I am thankful for the exuberance of my nephew, Austin Lawrence.  Froggy, you telling me the best part of your day is when I come get you at "school" and we go for our fun lunches makes me so happy.   Thank you for teaching your Nindy it's ok to hold on to a hug for a few more seconds.

Nov 28 = Today I am thankful for the Taylor B….my Doodlebug.  Thanks for sticking it out in Mother/Daughter dance with me even though I don’t dance as well as the other moms and for teaching me the great joy of a true giggle-fest.

Nov 27 = Today I am thankful for almost 3 decades of love & laughter with my Wowie. You inspire me with your strength, courage, humor and your fight to give my honey, my sweetie and my baby a good life. Thank you for the unending friendship....and the slave labor :)

Nov 26 = Today I am thankful for peaceful mornings. Snoring dog made it hard to sleep last night so I am glad I got time to sleep in before I go to work :)

Nov 24 & Nov 25 = Thankful thought for yesterday: Traditions....whether it "The Game" or a tradition with friends....it’s good to have them.

Today I am thankful that Nikole Maddin only has 1 birthday a year....oh my word :)

Nov 23 = Overnight shift? Check! Snuggles from one of my "nephews?" Check! Now, I am thankful for a belly full of warm food and a nap!

Nov 22 = Today, as I reflect on this holiday I am so thankful for my blessed life. I am thankful for great friends and an incredible family. I am thankful for so many things that it would take forever to list them all. Happy Thanksgiving.

Oggi, riflettendo su questa festa sono così grato per la mia vita beata. Sono grato per grandi amici e una famiglia incredibile. Sono grato per tante cose che ci vorrebbero per sempre per elencarli tutti. Happy Thanksgiving.

Nov 21 = Today I am thankful that 7 years ago tomorrow...she came bounding into this world and it’s never been the same since. Happy Birthday to my Angel Face - Ms. Mackenzie Ann. You are the one who taught me they aren’t really rules....more like guidelines and your Nindy loves you for that!

Nov 20 = Today I am thankful for a warm, inviting place to live.   It’s been a decade of laughter, love, family and friendship.  I am grateful to have given shelter to those who needed it; to have given sanctuary to those who sought it and respite to those who deserved it.  The door is always open….

Nov 19 = Today I am thankful for my nephew Dylan James Blake. A little over two years ago this world was blessed with a snuggly boy whom I nicknamed "Ambien" for the first 6 months of his life. No matter what time of day I was around him all I had to do was pick him up and we would both immediately fall asleep. Nindy love you Dyl-Pickles....WAAAY too much :)

Nov 18 = Today I am thankful for my niece Audrey C Martin. She is one of the smartest, funniest, kindest, talented, courageous and most loving young ladies I know. She inspires me. I you, Punkin Toes :)

Nov 17 = Today I am thankful for the world’s most comfortable (to me) bed and softest sheets known to man. Why? Because for the first time since June I have a complete 24 hours with absolutely nothing to do now that my afternoon plans have been cancelled. I slept in and just got up from 2nd nap of the day. I will watch Greys Anatomy on my DVR and then take another nap. Namaste!

Nov 16 = Today I am thankful for vivid memories. One of my favorites being just around 10 years old and dancing with you to Tina Turner's "What’s love got to do with it?" in your living room down the Fort. Today would have been my Aunt Pauline’s 67th birthday. She has been greatly missed. Rest In Peace, Aunti Pauli. I will love you always.

Nov 15 = Today I am thankful for the written word. It has grown my imagination and my vocabulary exponentially.

Nov 14 = Today I'm thankful for jazz shoes. They make mother/daughter dance more comfortable (and quite hilarious!)

Nov 13 = Today I am thankful for lunch hours. Who knew you could get so much done?!

Nov 12 = Today I am thankful for Dave. It doesn’t matter how good or bad my day is -- when I get home that pup just makes me smile!

Nov 11 = As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy   Thank you, Veterans!

Nov 10 = Today I am thankful for all the wonderful memories and friendships from the times I spent in Oceanside, Yuma, DC, Quantico, and both Jacksonville’s.  Happy 237, Teufel Hunden!

Nov 9= I'm thankful for the two friends who have been making me laugh so hard I'm in tears during my layover on the 3rd longest travel day I've ever had. Cornflower Blue. Carry on

Nov 8 = Today I’d like to share I am thankful for my sisters. I’m pretty much thankful for them every day, but wanted to highlight them today: They are incredible moms, but that’s not what defines them. They are both intelligent, witty, hilarious women who know how to turn my frown upside down. Love you Sissy and Mamie!

Nov 7 = Today I am thankful for facebook. But let me explain why -- without it I would see my friends and family that live away from me nearly as much as I do. And I wouldn’t have reconnected with so many friends from my formative years. :)

Nov 6 = Today I am thankful to see all my friends and family took the opportunity to get out and vote!

Nov 5 = Today I am thankful for Penelope. Despite the fact that the cardiologist has never been able to tell me why I needed a pacemaker at 34 in the first place....Penelope Pacemaker has given me the most incredible 4 years of my life....and although she's only going to be around for another few years her replacement will carry on the legacy! Now...who wants a T-Shirt :)

Nov 4 = I am thankful for you.

Nov 3 = I am thankful for having the most awesome parents in the world!

Nov 2 = Today I am thankful that I get to see my cousin Mike Forgette for the THIRD time this year (it’s normally just once and sometimes just every other!) Not only is he a fantastic person, spectacular musician, but a senior in college on the Dean's List. I'm so proud of this kid!

Nov 1 =  So I am going to try and do this too....one post each day of things I am thankful for! So here it goes: November 1....I am thankful that 11 years ago to the world was blessed with one of the smartest, kindest, most handsome young men I've ever had the pleasure to spoil rotten. Happy Birthday to my nephew Porter Martin. Nindy loves you, Bubby!

5 Simple Rules

You keep asking me how. Here's how....the five simple rules for my happiness: 1) Free your heart from hatred. 2) Free your mind from worries. 3) Live simply. 4) Give more. 5) Expect less.

I can unequivocally tell you all I struggle with each rule at different times. Instead of thinking of them as rules, think of them more as guidelines. No one person is perfect and don't expect perfection from yourself. I don’t. I'm human and I sometimes stray. I don’t say I have regrets or make mistakes. I regret nothing and I know I am not a mistake. These are really just the five rules that I find to be the basic foundation to my happiness.

1) Free your heart from hatred. Recently someone said something to me that really hurt my feelings. This person doesn’t know what it’s like to walk a day in my shoes, so I realized that I could have handled it one of two ways. I could have carried some hatred in my heart towards this person. Shut them out completely for hurting me. But that’s not me, so I just absolutely think of it as this is that persons perception of what they are think is going on. Shame on them for passing judgment without all the facts. Not shame on me for what this person was telling me I had done wrong.  This person doesn't understand the choices I made or how I live my life.   You can have your own opinion, but I don’t allow myself to be the victim of needless suffering at the hands of others anymore.


2) Free your mind from worries. Ok, when I posted these 5 rules on facebook, I noticed a few of my friends struggle with this one. The common theme? They are mothers. I would assume they worry about their children or the decisions they have made while parenting their kids. I really can’t speak to that as I am not a mom - thats what I worried about when I was a foster parent. I can tell you that I used to worry about all the decisions I made. Leaving my old job and coming to this new one. No longer talking to a friend who wanted me to lie for them. Am I going to be able to sell my house after all the rehab is done? Worry. Worry. Worry. What I realized was I was worrying about things that I could really change. I already left the old job because it made me so unhappy. I couldn’t respect management after being caught in a lie. I can’t work some place that would foster that. No longer talking to a friend that wanted me to lie for them. Sure, I worry about seeing this person out and about and I am not sure what I would say to them if I did. But because I have freed myself from hatred - I’d smile, maybe say Hi or wave and move right along. Do I worry about selling my house once this rehab project is done? Yes, there are now two foreclosures and two other homes for sale on my street. There are only 16 homes on my street so the odds aren’t in my favor. I can't worry about that. I am not in a rush or under duress to sell the house. As the old adage says: I'll worry about that bridge when I cross it.


3) Live simply. One of my favorites. In my own opinion, and remember these are the 5 simple rules of my own personal reality. I live simply. Sure, I have nice things. I work hard to have nice things. Do I pay $29.50 for my MAC foundation. Yes, yes I do....but I can because I have worked hard enough in my professional life that it’s ok to splurge for myself. Do I have a 70" Aquos plasma 3D TV. No, because I don’t need one. The 27" flat screen I have is good enough for me. When I buy things it’s because I have a need for them. I stopped shopping to make myself feel better. Retail therapy got me nowhere but in debt. So I restructured my life and go out of debt and am happy because of it. I went through my closets and found 3 large bags full of clothes I had barely ever worn just hanging there. I gave a few things to a friend who I knew would love them and then donated the rest to an organization that helps others prepare for the work place. Take an inventory of the stuff you need vs. the stuff you want. The stuff you want isn’t that important. If you have it, and don’t use it, find a way to give it to someone who can. You will feel so much better about yourself. I promise.


4) Give more. This costs you nothing. Because when you give more, you live simply :) Have a friend who you notice is struggling. Send a card in the mail that will make them smile or a text message to brighten their day. Have a family member that needs help moving. Clear your schedule and offer to help. Giving more to those lives you impact will be a rewarding experience for you personally. You will feel better about yourself, I know I do. You can't however, give more of yourself if you are in a place in your life that you can’t. Not every rule is meant for every day. Take last Saturday for example. I worked both jobs and then had to go back to work on Sunday...which was my 7th day in a row for work. I then went into work for 1/2 day in the morning on Monday. I gave and I gave and I gave and when I took a full day off on Tuesday, outside of taking my nephew to lunch I stayed home and watched TV. I didn’t have any more to give, but that’s ok. When you have it, give it. But when you give more, you have to know that you have to expect less.


5) Expect less. All 5 of these rules bleed into each other. Realizing 1 will help you with 2. Accepting 2 will lead you to 3. Rationalizing 3 assists with 4. 4 as a basic life guideline brings you to 5. And 5....5 may be the hardest one out of all of them, I think. Expect less. Those are big, heavy words. I don’t give more because I expect more. I actually expect less from every single person in my life. My parents, my sisters, my friends and my coworkers. That’s not an insult, either. You could know me for 5 minutes, and you would know that I would walk through fire for most anyone in my life. I love with the kind of reckless abandon that most people don’t understand. I've come to expect less of others because everyone else has their own life to contend with. So do I. Expecting less from those around me has opened my life and my heart up to less pain and hurt. And it's awesome.

10 Kinds of CrAzY

I know I sound like a broken record because I say this so much, but I pretty much lead a charmed life. My life really overflows with the love and support I have from my friends and family. In as much, they have all also supported the changes I’ve made of the last year or so. I think I’ve done a pretty decent job “cleaning out” all the users and the ugliness I used to allow in my life. Self-worth has always been a struggle for me, which surprises people when I try to talk about it, but it’s true. The confidence I display is actually based more in my love of life, than for love of self. I am a doormat. I always have been and that probably will never change. I’m ok with it. It’s who I am. I would much rather make sure everyone else around me is happy, before I even think about my own happiness. Need a shirt? I‘ll give you the one off my back. Wanna borrow $50. Pay me back when you can. I am my own crown of thorns. I get that and am totally fine with it.

I’ve made some significant changes in the last year. I’m working hard at learning to love myself. But in my journey of self-love (and I don’t mean the kind that requires a couple of AA batteries, some soft lighting and some Barry White playing low) -- I have found that my tolerance for crazy has gotten way less.

So that brings me to dating. Oh yeah even better than that -- internet dating. Don’t hate, you know you are jealous. But, I digress….OH. MY. WORD.

So we already know about Mr. Smarty Pants who corrected me ˈôf(t)ən enough on our first date that I didn’t want to see him a second time (and just for shits and giggles: he did call and ask for another date.) But more recently I had the pleasure (?) of two dates with a crazy person. And when I say crazy, I don’t mean like fun crazy. That’s “let’s get up and drive to Cincinnati at 6 am and stand outside in 39 degree weather and do a 5k” kinda crazy. I would do more of that in a heartbeat!! I mean the 10 kinds of cRaZy that requires someone to wear a pretty white coat with a lot of buckles and straps kinda crazy....and maybe some medication.

So we go out on one date. Easy enough – great talk, lots of laughs. That’s a cake walk for me….my parent’s will tell you I would talk to a brick wall if I thought it would talk back to me. The next morning when I wake up, the facebook friend request was waiting for me (shaking my fist: Damn you mutual friends!!) Awkward – but ok, I’ll bite.  I should have known better.

Text message 1:03 pm: You didn’t tell me you went to Germany. (Um, hello facebook stalker -- that was in 2010.)
Text message 1:10 pm: What are you doing?
My response 1:58 pm: Hi there :)  I am at work and I can't really be on my phone texting.
Text message 1:59 pm: So do you have plans for tonight?
Text message 2:11 pm: Hello?
Text message 2:20 pm: Are you mad at me or something?
Text message 2:39 pm: Why are you ignoring me?
My response 3:45 pm: I'm sorry. I am at work and was in a meeting.  I will text you later when I am done.
Text message 3:46 pm: What time are you done?


Yeah, I didn’t answer that text because for the last 18 months I’ve been done at 9 pm. I’m not going to magically get done at a different time just because the Nutty Professor wanted to talk to me. There was a lot more “pay attention to me” stuff going on between date one and date two – but I just kinda over looked it because I thought maybe it’s just me. But it wasn’t. Not me at all.

So remember a few weeks ago when I put on my facebook page “Dear Ruggedly Handsome Man at CVS, Thanks for the double take when you were checking me out. And the smile the third time when I caught you looking at me again. Sincerely, Cindy’s Ego” To me, that’s funny right there….To him, not so much.

Phone call comes in about 35 minutes later: "Is that what you want? Some kind of lumberjack rugged outdoorsman to date." (In my head I’m thinking – I wonder if the Brawny lumberjack is available? He’s the perfect man because he just sits there on the paper towel roll looking all rugged and shit and HE CAN’T TALK. The Brawny man would never call me out about a facebook post! He's too busy wearing red plaid and chopping down trees!)

But out loud, my response was: No, that’s just my sense of humor. Something that makes me laugh or smile, I want to share it with my friends because I want them to laugh too.
Him: Well, I don’t appreciate that. Don’t do that again, it hurt my feelings.
My response: Well that wasn't my intention...to hurt your feelings, I am sorry.  (This should be read: Oh, I am sorry.  I didnt know there were rules to follow since we've only had TWO DATES Crazy Pants!) But hey listen, I have a friend over right now so, can I call you later?
<Insert 25 minutes of him talking about my personality and how I should be careful about the stuff I put on facebook ...and a whole lot of eye rolling from my friend>
My response: I really have to go now, I still have company over.

As we say in my family: Nindy is allllllllllllllllllllllllll done!


Sorry Mr. Cray Cray. You are super-hot, but super neurotic. Here’s your ticket back to Singlesville, I don’t have the time to ride THAT train with you.

You know what sucks?

I came home today and there were leaves in the driveway for the first time this year. It made me sad...and it made me miss you. This is the first year since I've owned my home that I'll probably have to clear the driveway of leaves myself. This is the first year in the last five years that there won’t be bonfire beer nights in your back yard. This is the first year in five years that I’ll have to put my garden hoses away myself.

The days since you took your life have gotten easier, friend. But then something happens...for the first time since you left us, and it brings back the suck.

Except then I remember the good times. The last time you cleared leaves from my driveway a huge gust of wind and a big truck drove by and pushed 3/4 of them back into my drive way. We laughed about that for 45 minutes for two reasons. Your leaf blower went dead and because the wind kept blowing the leaves back in the driveway when we tried to rake. You would laugh and call me stupid because I purposely bought a house with no trees and I had more leaves than anyone.

I remember our last bonfire beer night in your back yard. It was cold as hell until we got a few beers in to the case we polished off. You tried to explain hunting to me....and I sat and listened and asked stupid questions because that’s what friends do. It was all pretty much nonsense to me. I tried to explain craft beers to you and you kept on me that Miller Lite was all you needed. We laughed so hard about just about everything that night.  My vote is still baseball cap over cowboy hat, by the way. 

I remember all the days we stood at the fence and made fun of how cRaZy she was. How many laughs did we share at that fence?

It was weird seeing a car in your driveway this morning. It made me miss your loud ass big pickup truck. Your house has been pretty much empty since that day in January.

Rest Easy, Devil Dog. You are missed.

......That, and I hope whoever moves into that house has a leaf blower J

This was my Facebook status this morning: "As I will never know the joy of being a mom myself....I'm pretty lucky my sisters are so thoughtful to let me do activities with their kids. Mother/daughter (aka Nindy/Doodlebug) starts tonight!"   My status as of right now -- has 57 likes and a few supportive comments.  I am thankful that my friends all know how much my nieces and nephews mean to me and how much latitude my sisters give me with them!

When I woke up (earlier than normal) I was excited about the fact that it was the first Wednesday in October. This meant that after work, I would get to go spend 45 minutes taking "Mother/Daughter" dance class with my niece. It does not escape anyone in the room that I am not Taylor's mother. My sister is. It’s obvious as the nose on her little doodlebug face that she's Jamie's mini-me.

What amazed me was the unmitigated gall of people I had considered my friends and their unsolicited opinions that were inboxed to me. One person, whom I've met in the last few years, said "You shouldn't put things like that up on Facebook. You are still young enough to find someone, get married and have a baby."

WOW....so many things wrong with that statement I don't know where to start. First of all, it’s my preferred social media platform. If I want my status to say "Shit! Shit! Shit! Damn! Damn! Damn!" it will. You don’t like it? Defriend me or block my status from your wall, you putz. Furthermore, yes Captain Obvious, I am young. 38 does not equal one foot in the grave. And no Ms. 1957, I don’t need to be married to be a mother. But....and you didn't know this (and probably still won't after tonight because I think only three people read my blog): No, I will not have a baby. I realized at a very young age it would be a struggle for me to complete a pregnancy and at 28 that option was taken away from me for good. One could say the option was forcibly removed, even. You see, I had a Complete and Total Abdominal Hysterectomy with Oophorectomy (ovaries are gone too). This isn’t something I talk about to many people. It’s something I dealt with a decade ago. The only time I think about it now is when I have to fill out a medical form and they ask "Date of your last menstrual cycle" I like to put "October 2002 I think" just to see the nurses face when she reads it.

What do they say why you shouldn't assume anything? It makes an as....you get the picture.

Another message I got was someone trying to be supportive, I think. "You know there are still so many children out there that need to be adopted." Yes, I am well aware of that, thank you. I've thought long and hard about it too. I've even been more than half way down that road once before. I am not sure I have the strength to do that again.

Don't even get me started on the email that jokingly stated "You know, if you had kids, your life wouldnt be a fun as it is right now!" Really - you really think someone who VOLUNTARILY takes mother/daughter dance class, goes to every cheer/swim meet/lacrosse match/talent show/recital that I can doesn't know how to have fun? Let's not forget I used to teach....I can keep 28 six year olds occupied for an entire school day. I don't need to be out on the town to have fun. That was a stupid thing to say!

If we are putting stuff out there, hell, I may meet & fall in love with a man who already has kids and then Cindy, the worlds coolest step-mom it is. Yes, yes, yes, I get all that.....

I may also get run over by a bus tomorrow and none of this will matter. Get it? I'm not talking about the maybe's and the what if's. I am talking about the right now, living out loud, moments of Cindy's life. And as of right now, I will never know the joy of being a mom myself.

I stand corrected....

I really should write a book, and not about what many of you would think.  And I dont mean the book I am already writing ....the one my friends and family have been supporting me through since I started.  I mean, I should absolutely write an anthology about the horrors of dating at 38.  I have stories.  Probably enough to fill a book if I use a lot of 50 cent words.  Tonight, a Director of IT Infrastructure (age 48) took me to my favorite restuarant.  He showed up at my car in the parking lot with flowers for me, offered his arm to me, pulled out my chair for me.....and then 1/2 way through the appetizer course he corrected me.  No - you read that right.  He corrected me.  My grammar.  Yes....yes, he did.

Have a glimpse of my night:

"I am not sure how often I would do want to to do that,"  I laughed as I took a drink of my cosmo.

"Its pronounced 'off-en'," as he took a sip of his white wine.

Puzzled look, "Huh?"

"You pronounced often incorrectly.  The "t" is silent," as he piled in a bite of the appetizer.

So like a petulant child, I sat back in my chair and pushed my part of the appetizer around on my plate.  And pouted as I thought to myself.....really?  You are going to correct a grown woman on a first date?   We had already ordered our dinner, or I probably would have left.  It actually arrived shortly after he corrected me.  I thought maybe it was a one time thing.  But then....

"So, where do your parents live, Cindy?"

"They live in Ft. Myers ....they retired there full time 3 years ago," oh my gosh - I love cheese spaetzle with bacon.

"I believe its pronounced Ft. Myer - there's no 's'," and then he mumbled something about the schnitzel being too dry.

Oh no you didn't, Mr. Pedantic.  Do you really think that it was ok to correct me TWICE?  Really....this is the impression you want to make on a first date?   I would seriously NEVER correct another adult's language arts.   But, also, I would never defend my own words.  There's no MLA book following me around now....I dont have to worry about it anymore!!

But I knew this was going to go any further than the very first and only date tonight, so I let it go:

"Um, actually, my parents have had a place in F-O-R-T M-Y-E-R-S since I was 15. So , no -- its not Ft. Myer.  There is certainly an 'S', " I laughed it off.  And prayed for dinner to be over swiftly.  But it wasnt....it dragged...on....and.....on....and ON!

I couldn't stop laughing, so I had to look it up when I got home.  I found the phonetic spelling...and he's right.  Often is pronounced with a silent t --  /ˈôf(t)ən/

So here you are....a list of 100 mispronounced words!

http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/style-and-usage/mispron.html

Enjoy it......O-F-T-E-N!!!!