Of Course God Is Not Dead — Neither Is Goodness and Democracy

I was just talking to a lady on the sale pages on Facebook, and she commented that she was having a really hard time right now and she just kept hoping that her family would see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I commented and told her that I always remind myself that Tyler Perry was down to living in his car before anybody was willing to take a chance on his writing.  And that it always helps to keep in mind the old adage that
the way in which you view the world is the way in which you will meet it.  And that it’s just been my experience that if you constantly expect the world to be understanding and generous and good, they usually are.

No, that doesn’t mean that people can’t be assholes, and that selfish people who are miserable won’t attempt to use you or abuse you to get a rise for themselves because they are personally powerless and they know it — because they’re everywhere, and in abundance.  But it means that when you put out good energy, you generally get it back.

I remember a lady posted one day on the local concerned citizen page that she had lost a wallet at Kroger and she was so surprised that somebody turned it in. There were like 50 comments of people that followed saying how shocking that was. My response was something along the lines.of acknowledging that I know I’m an eternal optimist who can find the rainbow of sunshine in the middle of a tsunami shitstorm and who can eternally spot the unseen blessing  in anything — for example, I always feel like I’m one doctor visit away from a colon cancer diagnosis, and then I think, well maybe I would be qualify for Make-A-Wish Foundation and I might actually get to see a Broadway production before I die (although it won’t be Hamilton)  — but as that eternal optimist, it didn’t surprise me that people found a wallet in Dickson County, Tennessee, and turned it in.  Because that’s exactly what I would do!

The title of that movie “God Isn’t Dead” always bugged me, because my immediate response was,  “Whoever said that he was!?”

God is alive and present every day. But so is goodness.

A conversation I had with a friend once (who I missed dearly) always bounces around my brain in a moment like this. We had found some money on the ground and I immediately went on a mission to find out who the $10 belonged to. I told her that that was my granddaddy and my Uncle Chunky’s doings. My grandfather was so honest that he accidentally left the gas station with a candy bar one day that he hadn’t paid for a while getting gas, and he wouldn’t even eat it until he went back the next day and set it right. And that my Uncle would say that God was watching to see what I did with that $10.

Well, my dear friend Ms Sherry was raised by her aunt and uncle, and although she was old enough to be my mother and then some, we had so much in common, which meant her Aunt and Uncle were depression-era just like my great aunt and uncle. So they had a way of teaching life lessons that would stand the test of time. She told me a story about finding $20 when with her uncle, who she called her dad, and she queried her dad “what if God is just checking to see if we do the right thing,” and he responded: “Maybe, and what if it’s God’s way of buying our lunch?” 

We laughed for days at that, but I also told her — “And that’s why when I lose my purse, somebody turns it in, and  why when you lose yours, they use your credit card, because it’s “God’s way” of sending them some quick cash.”

We had such fun with that — God rest her soul, I think about her everyday — but it’s a lesson that sticks with you. One that goes back to what I truly believe. Of course bad things happen and honest people get taken for a ride, but I truly believe that if you expect goodness and honesty, and you put out goodness and honesty, it’s what you will find.

It’s why I could never understand the mentality of a man like Donald Trump.

I want to win the lottery just to give it all away. I keep lowering the prices on every piece I paint because I don’t feel right charging somebody for more time than it took me to make it. (And, also, I know how cheap I am. So, in turn, I expect a fair price for them.)  Because while I do believe that people are still good, I’m not sure that I believe that all business is good. The corporate greed that is taking over America is one of our downfall.  A nation that built our greatness and our success on hard work and labor unions, we’ve attempted to kill them for the sale of money in the pockets of rich men while teaching and persuading the working man that  it’s for “his best interest” — and we’ve used moral issues, like Jesus Christ, abortion, and guns to do so. So as to distract him from noticing that he’s getting stiffed. 

It’s sad. It’s sickening. It’s wrong.

Which is why it was hard for me not to tell tell that sweet lady to remember to vote on November 8th — and to remember to vote democratically. Because if we ensure four more years of the democratic platform, your family might actually begin to see the benefits of an economic turnaround spearheaded by the Democratic Party, and one that benefits the middle class.  But I try not to be political in every area of my life, but it’s hard — because I can’t separate who I  am from myself.  And I am someone who wholeheartedly believes in the government of the United States’ responsibility, and the obligation of those of us who’ve been given the right to live in the greatest nation on Earth to remember the government’s ability to better the lives of people. It’s not “everybody for themselves” as the allegedly ‘Christian’ party has been brainwashing us to believe. And it’s also a little bit troubling.

No man is an island. And while nobody gets sick by themselves, nobody gets well alone either. And if one baby in this nation goes to bed without milk in her stomach, it doesn’t matter to me if they suffer because their mama was lazy and could actually get a job, or if they suffer because their family couldn’t afford it, all that matters to me, in the wealthiest nation on Earth, is that a baby went to bed hungry.

And that’s all I need to know.

The national deficit isn’t increased because of food stamps. It’s increased because of billionaires like Donald Trump who don’t pay taxes. They took a third of everything my uncle worked his entire life for before they let me see a cent.  And do you think for one second I tried to find a way to get out of that?! No, I tried to see if I could roll it into an IRA, but my Uncle Chunky believed that that was the responsibility that came with living in such a blessed Nation.  (Now, I take mad issue with Dickson County’s mismanagement of property taxes and the way they are sticking it to us for a lawsuit they’re playing a game of semantics and lying about it — and the day they get honest about that is day I might care about paying my property taxes on time), but as a nation, my uncle believed in the Bible when it said “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.”

And so we did.

That’s the difference in the Democratic Party —  and in one where we use our power for good to actually change lives.

Is government the solution to every problem?  No, but if it’s not the beginning — who the hell is? If government isn’t here to better our country for everybody, to ensure stability and goodness and growth — what the hell is it here for? For men like Donald Trump to make insane amounts of money by evading federal taxes while that woman at McDonald’s works 50 hours a week and still can’t pay the rent — while paying our troops and our officers and our schools every cent that she owes?

Much like my beloved  Uncle, Joe Biden’s father always said it best: “Joey, this is the price we pay for living in the greatest nation on Earth.”

If you believe in goodness and kindness and opportunity, please remember November 8th.

And if you believe our better days are in front of us instead of behind us, please remember to vote blue consistently.

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Proud to be a ‘Nasty Woman’. And I’m not alone.

I’ve got a few minutes before I have to make my macaroni and cheese, get ready and paint signs, and watch Jason Heyward star in a World Series. (Scatch that, he’s benched. Whaaat!?) So let me take a minute to talk about politics, because I’ve been abandoning my Twitter followers and my bloggers because all I do anymore is paint, sell stuff online. Paint, sell stuff online. So here goes.

I don’t go to Walmart. I’ve made it up to six months before I stepped foot in a  Walmart.  But I needed cheap spray paint and there’s no longer a Kmart or a craft section at Big Lots and
Lowe’s spray paint — and paint in general — sucks, so I had no choice.

I ran in early Sunday morning through the garden section, and the very first thing I saw was a man wearing a “Hillary for prison” shirt. I went last night at 1:30 in the morning and the only other customer in there was wearing a “Trump 2016” one. Which was strange because when I got out of the car, I thought of another reason why I hate Donald Trump. Like many children from a small town, we were not raised to lock stuff. I mean, I don’t know many kids who used a house key after school. Most of us just left the doors unlocked. But as a product of the 90s, I  always locked my car door. I still lock my car door at Walmart at 1:30 in the morning even though there’s nothing in it worth stealing and it’s got a hundred eighty-six thousand miles and peeling paint on the hood. But I still lock my car door — even though I washed my keyless when I forgot it was in my pants.  So when I come out and I have to fiddle for my keys,  which I haven’t done since 1995 because I’ve always had keyless entry, I still lock my door. Because we were told that if a man wants to assault you, the first thing he’ll do is climb in your back seat and wait for you. We were told to always keep our dome  light on so we can see anyone if they were hiding in the back seat. We were taught to always have our keys ready and how to use them as a weapon if we were attacked on the way to our car.  Yet, I don’t remember anyone teaching boys how not to assault girls. 

Oh, that’s common sense, you say.

You would think.

But obviously not.

Oh, we teach people though shalt not kill yet people still murder, you say.

Well, yes, but murder usually happens for a reason. That’s why the first thing they look for is motive and who stood to profit from the death. What’s the motive behind sexual assault, what is there to profit from attacking a woman?

Power.  It makes the man feel powerful. And we can’t say that this isn’t specific by gender, dominated by gender, and aimed at gender because you don’t see larger men assaulting smaller man on the regular for the thrill of a dominance. You don’t see larger women violating smaller women to be powerful. But men, throughout history,  assault women for the thrill, the dominance, the adrenaline that they feel from doing so. It is a cultural thing.  Men feel entitled to take what they want from a woman.

There’s not a woman out there who hasn’t encountered  a man who thought “no” meant try harder.

And there’s no better example of that than the words we heard from Donald Trump. All his privilege, billions of dollars,  beautiful wives,  bragging about being able to grab women by the private parts and get away with it because he was.  So when I saw that guy wearing a Trump 2016 shirt last night it took all I could not to go over to him and explain why I had to lock my door and why men like Donald Trump are the reason for it.

Now,  that’s said: I’m both thrilled and amazed at the number of Hillary Clinton signs and Hillary Clinton stickers that I’ve been seeing in Dickson County. Now any day of the week I can go to Davidson County and see Obama stickers.  That’s because, like Austin, Texas,  Nashville is the blue dot of sanity in a deeply Red State. As are all of our metropolitan areas and areas where colleges and universities reside. But in a place like this, it’s rare. But there are Hillary Clinton signs all over Dickson and not a day goes by that when I’m getting my coffee I don’t get behind another car with a Hillary Clinton sticker. Here in rural red dot County!  And it only reaffirmed what the national media and political pundits have been saying all along, women — even Republican women — have had it with men like Donald Trump.

So listen up, Captain Tangerine.  I’m proud to be a “nasty woman.”  And there are a whole lot more  out there just like me. And they are coming over from your side of the house.  You know what they say, boys: “Bitches get shit done!”

And if Hillary Clinton is nasty, I’m freaking filthy.

The Mango Mussolini is about to find that out November 8th.

The Insanity of Immaturity on Social Media.

This is going to be one of those posts that are worthy of taking a picture of and sharing with somebody else.

Since my existence on Facebook I’ve been so popular for that. Probably because I have no problem saying if you’re not my “friend” — either because you can’t handle it or because you’re not allowed  — it’s none of your f*cking business what I say. Pointing that out always gets the childish, juvenile.Facebook busy bodies fired up, doesn’t it?  As does pointing out that I always worry about the emotional maturity of people who get off on stuff like that. Read a book, watch a ball game, run a mile. Just stop acting like you’re 12.

Anyhow,  I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this since I watched the six o’clock news.  So, the two people that the drunk driver that crashed this weekend killed were two 18 year old college student? Unbelievable. Yet, you see…it’s moments like that that I realize I’m okay with myself.

I could set here with my ESPN radio and my cat and think…. “Oh, I’m such a f*ck-up who everybody is ashamed of, that belongs in a home, that nobody wants anything to do with, that everybody hates,  yada yada yada… Blah. Blah. Flipping blah.” 

But it’s moments like this that I’m at peace with myself.

Because thanks to God,  some really amazing people, and a book that helped sober over 2 billion people worldwide, it’s been 10 years that I’ve been able to lay down to sleep at night without fear that I may randomly stop for a beer on my way to Dunkin Donuts and wake up in jail for having killed two kids because I can’t control how much I consume once I start.

People that live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones and people who can’t stop getting drunk — or are  surrounded by or a attached to — those that can’t stop getting drunk, really shouldn’t criticize other people for their life choices. By the grace of a God that you can’t even begin to calculate my dependence on, I did one of THE  hardest things anybody will ever do.

So f–k you.  You don’t get to tell me my worth.

Running around the lake for weeks now, I’ve had the same thoughts in  my head. The same ones I’ve been bouncing off cyberstalkers for years now, these: If your entertainment is screenshotting shit,  talking about  people behind their back and then texting, calling, messaging them when you think that you can get them mad at somebody else that you’re pissed at —  particularly when it’s none of their damn business — or if you get a rise over getting somebody else involved over something I’ve written, or if you’re one of these people whose main source of entertainment is these ridiculous gossip group Facebook sites, congratulations on living a superficial and self-absorbed existence that people like me can’t possibly fathom. We’re too busy trying to keep our damn head above water over the unfair crap that life throws at us and the demons that try to take us down every day, we don’t have time to worry about about somebody else — let alone what somebody who’s not even our damn “friend”  — post on their Facebook page. Most days I’m just busy trying to live, and if there’s any energy left over, I try to right the inequalities and racial wrongs that I see every damn day.

There never has been, there never will be, any room in these mental faculties for your bullshit. I’m okay with me. Because I fought like hell to stay myself. It’s your dang inventory if you’re not. And no amount of cyber bullying, gossip, resentment, or verbal abuse will ever change that. Isn’t that a lesson my cyber stalkers learned the hard way. (Thank God, they finally quit reporting me to Facebook,  once they realized reporting me and inboxing me threatening messages wouldn’t make me take down  the post where I call them out by name.)

But it did do a darn good job of making them go away.

Cultural Assimilation Is Real, Y’all.

I was in town with my windows down because my air is out and
it won’t stop being 90 degrees.  And I hear this thumping and bumping of, very distinctly, hip-hop music. I look over and it’s a Hickman County white girl driving an older white Chevy truck with George W Bush stickers all over it. Now, I’m the biggest liberal feminist you’ll likely find in these parts and I don’t listen to anything to Dolly Parton and Miranda Lambert. I find the language that is used towards women in hip hop music insulting. It’s the same reason I’m aggravated with the.Bro country — the degradation of women and their portrayal as lesser beings. Until we get to the day where men are not disappointed by the possibility of having daughters, we still have  ways to go. And these female come lately conservatives that further the fabrication that you can’t be a “feminist” and feminine, can thank women like me later when we get to that time. There may be some genres of music where you talk to women like that,  but in mine, we feed you black eyed peas and go for a ride.

This is all further proof of the truth behind cultural assimilation. White boys running around wearing the jersey of black men with Trump stickers on their car or the girl whose daddy tells her she can’t be anything other than Republican, pulls up red light, windows jumping to Drake.
Why is it okay for you to appreciate black culture, but not black lives?

Why is it okay for you to respect the athletic contributions of peole of color but then bend your brain beyond what any reasonable person would searching for a reason why a black man had to get shot?  Saying things like, “Well, he shouldn’t have ran though…” like your white ass did didn’t run from the lawevery time the blue lights showed up at a country keg party. 

I know, I was there. Remember?

Running around with a Confederate flag flying off your truck and a Roll Tide! sticker like the tide isn’t rolling on the backs of black man while you’re simultaneously supporting the cause of those who went to war to keep owning people of color is still — regardless of how often I see it —  nauseating.

I will never get used to this ridiculousness, white people.

And in his defense, George W Bush and.the Bush family doesn’t have a racist cell in their genetic makeup. They are upstanding, honorable, good-hearted people who I just happen to disagree with.

Stop stealing black people’s contributions, Trump voters, if you’re going to continue to see black lives as so gosh damn disposable.

Lack of Election Elation, America?

For the majority of my life, I have looked forward to elections. The second one is over,  I start counting minutes to the next. They are the Super Bowl of politics, only you have to wait for them like the Olympics. I spend four years pining, waiting, obsessing over one of my very favorite things about the United States — that peaceful exchange of power.

But I’m just ready for this election to be over.  It has made me older sadder,  dumber.  We went in the gutter and we took the national conversation with us.  We’ve watched lie after lie with 50% of the nation not even noticing or seeming to care.  We’ve watched a man who believes that one person alone should be able to change our entire government like he doesn’t understand the branches or veto power.  Believing that
one senator from New York can change our entire government and totally remake America even if she’s not in consensus with the rest of the Senate and the house. Elections are for people like me who always dreamed of making a difference with their life. I know no matter what’s wrong in life, no matter how down, or how baffled I am that grown adults screen shot posts and act like children, no matter how unsure of everything I am or how much I feel like I’ve wasted my talent and my life, election night is America’s chance to shine. For one brief moment, we are connected to all the generations that have gone before. And candidacies are like underdogs in sporting events in that when a Barack Obama comes out of nowhere and pulls off an upset, we have hope that we can too. Dreamers like me view politics as an outlet for those dreams and elections give us the opportunity to witness change that we can’t effect on our own. We are stronger together; we have more power together;  our voices together are louder than they ever will be alone.

But this election has been a disappointment, to put it in the most severe form of understatement.

When the world looks to us to elevate conversation and to dominate global altruism, we just allowed the rest of the world to peer in on a shit storm. Some people dream of growing up and having children, getting married, bulding roots, I always dreamed of making a difference. I wanted to be the lawyer that saves the day, the politician that got it done, the civil servant who worked hard to earn her constituents trust, the writer who puts down words on paper that change the way somebody viewed life. I never wanted to be liked, I never needed to be liked, what I needed was to feel that I did something with all that I’ve been given, with my talent, with my voice, with my self-expression. And an election is when people like me get to see that reflected. And we get to hope for more — for change, for goodness, for making a difference that matters. Campaigns are the build up to the slow evolution that changes lives. This campaign hasn’t been about hope, it’s been about hate.

And I’m ready for it to be over.

These United States

This morning I was setting in the car at Dunkin Donuts, drinking my coffee, and thinking about how I need to be at home finishing my projects to sell before winter comes and it’s time to turn the gas on. But I needed to write for a minute. Because of the feeling I had when  I looked around at this blessed life we call America.

Everytime I see or have an interaction with somebody who has Down Syndrome, I just feel this calling on my heart to adopt a child that’s been given away because someone either couldn’t care for them or didn’t want to care for them because they were born with Downs. I mean, there is no joy in life quite like what can be experienced through having any interaction with someone with Down Syndrome. The joy in their hearts and spirit is just almost indescribable. And I set there with tears in my eyes watching this champion of life come out with his mom and his car keys, and I always go back to Donald Trump mocking the New York Times reporter on that stage. And it fills me with anger. Because bullies always pick on the weakest person. What Donald Trump failed to realize is how much stronger those with disabilities are than he will ever be.

That conversation last night was so infuriating, I seriously almost threw my cup of coffee at this lady.
To watch someone who claims to have a family member who is disabled defend the actions of Donald Trump — it’s just sickening.  Because there’s no excuse other than it’s rooted in race. If you sit there and say you have a sister who is physically disabled and then you make excuses for a presidential candidate that mocks people like your sister — simply because Donald Trump was outwitted by a man who walked a little different than he  did — there’s no other description for that, no other excuse for that, other than you are a racist white girl who likes what Trump has to say about Mexicans and black people so much that you’re willing to overlook his very clear and deliberate mimicking of someone with a handicap. You don’t have to like Hillary Clinton, but to go so far as to casually dismiss Donald Trump’s actions is unthinkable.

As I’m sitting there a little man walking in the coffee shop hollers at me, and he looks like my Pop except he’s carrying a book like my Uncle Chunky. And I recognize him.  He comes there everyday to drink coffee and read.  He hollered at me and said, “I like that Hillary sticker on the back of your car.  Did you see mine?”

And I just felt my heart smile.

“Yes, sir!” I called. “I saw your Hillary and your Obama one too. You’re my kind of people!”

The fact that he drives a Ford doesn’t hurt.

My heart was simply overjoyed. Seeing that young man with Down Syndrome with his mom, driving. Knowing it took every bit of nurturing that she gave him and every bit of belief and faith that she had in him when some people would have said you can’t, you never will.  And then seeing my Democratic buddy. I was happy, but sad. I just don’t know happened to our country. What happened to politics in this country. Why the division and  the rhetoric that you hear coming out of the anger in this most divisive of American elections is so fear-laden. When it couldn’t be further from the truth. We are in a better position than any other nation on Earth right now. The idea that we’re about to fold, or that nobody is afraid of or in awe of our military or country is just a scare tactic.

As I watched that young man get in his little Ford Ranger with his Mom and put it in drive, I looked through the window at my elderly friend drinking his coffee and reading a little bit of his political book, and I saw generations of Americans.  Young, old.  Black, white. Rich, poor.  Disabled or “normal”  — whatever the hell that is. And that’s the America I know. That’s the America I believe in.  The America public servants like Hillary Clinton dedicate their life to believing in. I can’t imagine, cannot fathom, the idea of getting behind the political prescription alleging to cure the diagnosis of America being a rapidly sinking shithole.

Do we have problems? Of course. Are we a dumpster fire where you’ll get raped by Mexicans, black people have no jobs or education and can’t walk down the street without getting shot —  because, you know, like there aren’t black people who live in the country and farm — and where we are vastly spinning into an oblivion of nothingness and despair and the only man that can save us is the great Donald J Trump alone?

Give me a break! 

The America Tump talks about is not the country I know.  Because the spirit of the American people is there everyday and it is tireless, even in the midst of the most divisive and ugly presidential campaign in American history. 

I see you, America.  I see your spirit.  I see your heart.  I see men like my granddaddy who worked at a Ford plant for decades so his granddaughter could fear S-words on the land he plowed, turn her nose up at the creek, lecture him about the cholesterol and dangers of eating the red meat of the cattle he sold and then gave us the cash, and sit back and read books.

The factory workers in Michigan, the coal miners in West Virginia, the bean farmers in Iowa, and the investment bankers in Charlotte. Everybody across America contributes to the fabric of who we are and it doesn’t stop with being white. I like cornbread and Yankee goulash as much as I like fried catfish and Mexican food. It’s the diversity of America that makes us so special. And it’s the goodness of who we are that makes us a superpower. If we lose that, what have we got?

Trump’s “America First” slogan was specifically derived from the same slogan used in World War II by the Americans who didn’t believe we should interfere with the Holocaust. Their descendants are likely the same ones who don’t believe that we should help Syrian refugees now. If America loses her way, if America loses her soul, if America loses her backbone,  if America loses her dignity, we won’t just be NOT great, we will be lost. Hopelessly.

Hopelessly. And that’s something America has never been. From the time Alexander Hamilton argued with John Adams, we have always known who and what we are and it’s very clear in those documents that our founding fathers sat down for us to govern and guide this great nation.

Some of us long for a time where politics resembled Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan. And a time when friendships were formed by men like the irreplaceable HW Bush and the man who defeated him,  Bill Clinton. Poppy Bush oozes goodness into everything he touches. It is possible to get back there again. To a time when we have more hugs between people like Michelle Obama and George W Bush. A time when you didn’t have to hate somebody just to disagree with them. But it starts with telling somebody like Donald Trump that his voice — his meanness, his cowardice, his gutter gab  — does not represent the majority of us.

And it never will. Not in these United States.

I Owe My Life To Words. I Won’t Abandon Them Now.

Karma has never been kind. Ever.

I learned in 12-step meetings that if we all got what we deserved, we would all be in trouble. And I come to witness this fundamental truth — that God can take far better care of people than you can.

When you know that you’ve always went above and beyond to try to help;  you’ve always extended a hand when you can;  been giving of  yourself and your resources;  always been nice and you let yourself be mistreated on multiple occasions. And someone takes advantage of a situation and uses it as an excuse to get in your face and belittle you — and it’s not even original, it’s the same verbal abuse you’ve heard many times before — I will never again be down on myself enough to apologize for getting angry.  Because I’m human, and that anger is  loooongg overdue. Hell,  even Jesus got angry in The Garden of Gethsemane. All you have to know when you lie down to sleep at night is you have always done your best.

It’s okay to stand up and say I will not be intimidated, I will not be verbally assaulted, and I will not go through another round of verbal put-downs “everybody is embarrassed of me; everybody hates me; I’ll never amount to anything; my Uncle Chunky wouldn’t speak to me if he was alive because he’d be ashamed of me… blah blah blah” by a grown  man who gets in your face and threatens you — or, on several occasions, tells you to open the door so you they can kick your ass — all because you FINALLY attempt to stop lying for them. Stop covering.

Stop pretending to have an answer to “How is so and so…” and start saying, “I have no clue.  They’re not allowed to speak to me because I have no more money to give or because I’m the only one that can’t be manipulated or that one can try to sway, play, draw to their side.”

I’ve never been a piece on that chessboard.

Because here’s the thing: I wouldn’t have made it through the things I made it through if I cared about having anybody on my side. I wouldn’t have made it through what I made it through if I cared what anybody else thinks. I  learned when I was very small that all I have to live for is me and God. And if I’m okay with my choices,  it doesn’t matter if I stand alone. Because when you stand in truth, you don’t ever stand alone.  You stand with your higher power.

The truth is, life has never been that hard for me, but it’s never been that easy either.

I recently had a conversation with someone I went to school with who has always followed my writing who said, “I never would have known it, but girl,  you’ve been through some shit. I always knew you were tough, but I didn’t know how much.”

I haven’t hung out with this girl since high school. But she had no clue how true those words were.

From a court case that changed the course of my life and went all the way to the state Supreme Court that really shook me to my core. To losing two instrumental people in my life so young. To surviving the suicide of a boyfriend and then the persecution by those who tried to have me arrested and intimidated to cover up for the fact that they were involved in his “suicide” that the TBI would not rule out as a murder. To watching so many friends from Spencer to Red Wing succumb to the disease of addiction and alcoholism. I miss them every day. To learning what it’s like to navigate a life where you may not talk to another person for days at a time except for the woman who takes your coffee order. To learning what it’s like to treat food as food and not just another drug to abuse yourself with. To battling depression. To surviving alcoholism with a genetic disease that wanted alcohol more than it wanted sanity. To overcoming the post-traumatic stress that follows you from an experience that shaped every relationship you have with a man a
for the rest of your life — one you still aren’t ready to talk about. The real reason you bailed on college and that degree. Because you couldn’t go back. You can never go back. Not after something like that.  And the only thing you know to do was work double shifts and two jobs and stay busy and don’t think.  And when that didn’t work, you drank.

Until the drinking stopped working, too.

So, see if you think I care about sides, or you think I care what you say about me, you never really took a good look at me at all — did you? Here’s why I will never be quiet and why I will never stop writing, no matter who wants me to…

because through everything that I went through,  it was always the word of somebody else that helped me. Either the words in a book, either in a meeting, or either the tear stained Dixie Chicks album cover jacket and the words that got me through nineteen.  Whatever the source, I swore that if I ever got to a place in my life where it made sense, and I could use one word or one experience to give somebody else some peace, some hope, or some light — then that would make it all worthwhile. The only point of life is each other. And I am only here because somebody gave to me. Every experience I’ve been through has made me stronger.  Every time I didn’t stand up for myself, I learned something and I had to live with disappointment. When I come out of it on the other side, I realize this:   everything we go through is not about us, it’s about somebody else.   We’re here to share our experiences, to pass on our truth, our lessons, and I will never be quiet about my struggles just because somebody else has appearances to keep up — and God forbid the truth be out there, that people who are miserable abuse, manipulate and hurt others.

And people who are generally just content to hurt themselves — while appearing to be the one with all the “problems” — are generally stronger than all the perfect people together.

I’ve lived the life of one who has earned the right to speak out. I’ve battled for my place in this life, and I fought like hell to keep my head above water while everyone else just stood around and said: “Ha, ha — look! She’s drowning!”

I never fucking drowned. 

And this is my time.  It is my time,  and if you think I need you to be there with me — you don’t know me at all.

I’m just sad that anybody else has to be mistreated for actually standing up for me.  I’m just sorry that someone has to be hurt with the things they love the most in life because they had the audacity to finally stand up for me. It’s beyond wrong. It’s shameful.

I’ve said this to my naysayers all along and I’ll say it again. You better hope that your children have one ounce of my soul in them — because  it would be the best gift you could give them. Life could beat the shit.out of them and they’d still stand.

So while you’re out to get a pizza and you see someone who constantly talks about what a fuck up you are drunk and at the liquor store on a weeknight — and driving —  you remember what you learned that made all the difference.

That God can take faaaar better care of people that I can. Everybody gets their dose of Humble Pie, and I’ve eaten enough that I can tell you  — it’s a taste you won’t ever forget.

Some folks have a big ole helping coming.

I speak from experience:  there’s no amount of success, or shit that you can buy, or liquor you can drink to make that mess taste good when you wash it down once it comes your turn at the table.

Best remember that.