Sunday, May 12, 2013

It's Time for Show and Tell!

     When I was in grade school, one of my favorite activities was, 'show and tell'. Show and tell was when you got to bring something to show or talk about in front of your classmates. On the morning of show and tell, the kids would enter the classroom with their items wrapped up, stored in their book bags, or stashed away in their desks. When someone had something really cool to share they would literally be fidgeting and wiggling around in their chair. When the teacher finally announced that it was time for show and tell everyone's hands went up. The cool thing about show and tell was that you could bring anything to show to the class. Kids brought in furry hamsters, sparkly rocks, pretty hair barrettes and even showed off baby brother or sisters.

     Here's how it went.... Bryan B. walks up to the front of the room and says, "Um, this is my favorite truck. My grandpa gave it to me for my birthday. I like it because it's red and it has wheels..."
Diane S. walks up next and says, "I found this feather in my backyard. I like it cuz it's soft and it tickles..." Next, Susan K.'s mother follows her to the front of the room carrying a drooling baby. "This is my baby brother. His name is Bryce. He drools a lot. I like it when I get to hold him and feed him a bottle. But I don't like it when he pulls my hair...." If we were lucky, the object got to be passed around to examine a little more closely. Show and tell was awesome!!!

     In honor of one of my favorite childhood past times, I would like to introduce a new feature in Living, Loving and All That Jazz fashion called Show and Tell. I would love it if you would join me by sharing something that you enjoy or something that has special meaning to you. It can be anything that you treasure, gives you joy or has significance to you. Feel free to post pictures and link back to me. I am excited to see what you have to share.

   Today for Show and Tell I would like to tell you about one of my lucky yard sale finds.  This little guy is called "Yay Me!" I've always had a thing for chimps, especially vintage ones. When I spotted this one at a yard sale, I figured he would be a bit pricey but my little treasure was only a quarter. The seller actually apologized because he was a bit worn. I love Yay Me because at times I feel like everyone's cheerleader. My little guy cheers me on and cheers me up whenever I'm in need. I just simply wind him up and he'll clang to a happy beat. He always makes me smile. Not bad for a quarter. So, what do you have to show and tell today? Tell me about it!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Things That Make Me Go, 'Hmmm'!

     I'm a friendly person. I can strike up a conversation with just about anyone, including drooling babies. But lately, people have been seeking me out just to talk. Maybe I have this expression on my face that says, "Share anything you want; I'm all yours." Today, while waiting in line at Costco, this man engaged me in a conversation and told me that he'd noticed me walking around the store because he thought I looked like his ex-girlfriend. He proceeded to tell me all about his ex. How he took her to Italy...(she went with him as a virgin and came back as a virgin.) He told me that she walked out on him without leaving a note and, get this...even her own mother thought that she was stupid for leaving him. I learned everything about Ms. Ex...she jilted him for a twice divorced man with 4 kids etc...All of this I found out in the course of about 5 minutes.

     A few weeks ago, a man that was standing in line behind me at the grocery store decided to get up in my personal space. (When I can feel and smell your breath, you are way too close.) He was literally talking in my ear. He kept calling me 'baby' and 'sweetheart'. He told me about his views on life- unfair. He talked about his 'old lady' and said, "if 'mama' ain't happy then no one is happy..." I was taught to always be polite so I kept a smile on my face and nodded a lot.  I couldn't wait until it was my turn to check out.

   Then, a few months ago, this lady approached me and started telling me about how she had gotten injured on the job and was fired unfairly. She went on to tell me that she would be going to court soon and asked if I would go with her. I sympathized, nodded my head and told her that I hoped things got better. Finally she said, "Okay, so my friend, I'll see you at the courthouse? You come to my house first, okay?" Not wanting to disappoint, I told her that I would be there.

    I realize that my twin sister and I are a lot like my dad. Although he's a rather quiet man, he talks to everyone. He knows all about the mail man, the meter reader and trash man. He says, "Oh, that's Ben...He's a good guy... been dumping trash for 15 years. His wife is visiting family out of state..." My dad knows people that I never could imagine that he would know. When music mogul, Barry Gordy Sr. was alive he would attend the same church. My father would chat with him before he entered church each Sunday.

     Dad has crossed paths with a lot of unusual people. Even though he doesn't get out as much as he used to, he has 'met' a lot of people; celebrities, athletes and entertainers. My dad knows everybody! If I want to know about Kobe Bryant, my dad will say, "Yeah, Kobe just bought his wife a new house...their kids are attending private school..." About Tiger Woods, my dad says, "That  Tiger isn't looking too good right now...." When I talk to him on the phone, I expect my dad to say, "Hey did you hear about so and so? Yeah, that dummy broke up with his wife..." It's funny but my dad doesn't know these people personally; but he knows all about them. I have no idea how he finds his information, especially since he doesn't have a computer, but he's always in the know.
     I'm glad to be like my dad. I believe that every encounter happens for a reason and also believe in divine appointments. When I'm chatting it up with an elderly lady in the store, I feel good knowing that our meeting is a part of His plan. After all, I might be filling a need for someone who is lonely. I may not realize the impact that my passing conversations may have but I do know that I am blessed to share a smile, a laugh or maybe connect with someone who might be in need of a friend

     As weird as it may seem, I also believe that God is present even when we least expect it. We are called to love and respect everyone just as Christ did when He walked this earth. So, I embrace the unexpected grocery store interruptions. Who knows?  My next encounter might actually be God with skin on. Do you chat with people wherever you go? I'd love to hear about it.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

I am totally thrilled to be a UBP first timer. I'm fairly new to the blogging world and still trying to catch on to the lingo and to become more familiar. So far, I've met a lot of really nice and welcoming people here. Here's a little bit about myself...

I've been married to my high school sweetie, Hubby, for 29 years! I'm a momma to three...the oldest Bri Bri, middle kid, Cam Bam and youngest, Rai Rai, keeps life interesting. I love being an identical twin to "Neecy".

I've got a quirky, creative personality and feel like middle age is definitely the most adventurous time of my life. My blog, Love, Life and All that Jazz is my opportunity to share my joys, sorrows, challenges and accomplishments. My faith is important, as is my walk with the Lord. I'm not perfect but I'm learning as I go along.

I love life and all that it has to offer. (live, love, laugh) I hope you'll join me as I pursue my bucket list, and experience unique encounters.

I am thrilled to be a part of this party and look forward to meeting each of you and making new friends!!!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Five, Four, Three, Two, One...Countdown to seeing my Twin

     In 24 hours and 15 minutes, (and counting) I will be heading to Oregon where I will finally be reunited with my twin sis, Neecy. I'm giddy, excited and beside myself. Imagine that you've been working on a 1000 piece puzzle. You're about to finish when you notice that there is a piece missing. You start looking under the table, chairs, rug etc...but still can't find the missing puzzle piece.  In the meantime, you have a puzzle that you've worked on for many hours, yet with a missing piece there's no telling when or if it'll ever be finished.

     For the past several years, I have felt like an unfinished puzzle and the missing puzzle piece; my twin sister, Neecy aka Simone. When we were little, Neecy and I mapped out our futures. We would marry twins and move in together. We figured our husbands would automatically get along, especially if they were also twins. We would live and raise our children together and live happily under one roof. But, with our childlike imaginations we obviously hadn't thought things through. We hadn't considered a plan B? What if we didn't marry twins? What if we didn't share a house or even live close to one another? Even worse, what if our husbands didn't get along?

     Well, Neecy and I didn't marry twins. We didn't have the double wedding that we had planned and we certainly didn't share a house or let alone, live in the same state. But, I'm hoping that even if our husbands aren't a lot alike, they will have a mutuality...they are both madly in love with identical twins who happen to be the best of friends. Like my sister, my hubby and I are somewhat opposites. My hubby lives life on the wild and crazy side.  He is impulsive and usually will blurt out whatever comes to mind. He actually chuckles when he laughs. He lives life to the fullest and doesn't spend a lot of time pondering. Neecy's husband is the opposite. He is quiet, and thoughtful and takes the time to listen and ponder everything that is shared. But, they also share quite a few characteristics.

     Neecy's hubby and mine are dedicated to making sure that their wives are happy, fulfilled and treated with the ultimate of love and respect. They both love the Lord and seek to be the husbands, father and men that God desires them to be. They both get us. They understand what makes us tick and have the patience and understanding to know that Neecy and I have a crazy need to call each other at least 3 times a day to talk about whatever is important to us at the time. They know and respect that we have a standing date to watch Grey's Anatomy on Thursdays and that we'll call during the commercial breaks to 'discuss' the happenings. Both of us will pop popcorn and pour a glass of wine and even if the show isn't as exciting as we'd like it to be, we'll give our personal critiques and share our frustrations or observances. Our husbands know that although they are our BFF's, Neecy and I are, and always will be, 'besties.' We can talk about work, church, kids, friends, disappointments, fears and share goals and dreams. We will share memories and goofiness without fear of judgement. Both of our husbands knew that when they pledged their love they were in for the ride of their lives. They knew that Neecy and I were knitted together as a unique pair. They understood that together, Neecy and I are quirky, creative and unique in our own ways. Even though they are different, they are very much alike.
     In a short while they will finally meet for the first time. I'm nervous but anticipate that they will connect because through a weird sort of understanding, they know that Neecy and I are 'creative', 'special', and very 'unique' . They will share similar memories and experiences because Neecy and I dance to the beat of our own drums. No matter what, they will continue with their love and dedication because they understand the territory that comes along with being married to identical twins.

     Soon, Neecy and I will complete the twin puzzle. We will see each other and for whatever strange reason, we will embrace and continue as if we haven't been separated by time or distance. For a brief while, Neecy and I will be girls again. We will connect with giggles, junk food and silliness. If only for a short while, we will both feel complete.  Through pain, sadness and other challenges, we will discover each other and provide what we have both been longing for...time with a friend who knows us better than we know ourselves.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Wind Beneath My Wings

     I'm worried. Even though I kicked the nailbiting habit years ago, I caught myself, chewing on my thumbnail. I've also had a problem sleeping. I fall asleep...then suddenly, wake up with a start. After tossing and turning for a bit and reading with a flashlight, I give up and usually end up on the couch in front of late night tv. It's a restless feeling that I can't explain. I'm worried about my twin, Neecy. She's been dealing with chest pains of an unknown cause for almost a year now. Without sounding crazy, I'm certain that I'm suffering from some kind of pseudo-sympathetic ailment. Today, my twin underwent a procedure to examine her esophagus. They inserted a tube down her throat to better determine the cause of her pain. I swear that this afternoon, I struggled with throat irritation. The day before that, I felt dull, chest pains. For the past year, I have felt a strong sense of heaviness, pulling on my chest. I know it sounds strange, but I feel my twin. I know that she's hurting and I hurt for her. I wish we could trade places but it's not that easy.

     She's my hero. Even though I've alway been the "strong, fiesty twin", she has always been someone that I admire and look up to. To see her brave and endure the pain is heartbreaking but at the same time, I admire her courage. I've always wanted to be a fairy godmother, granting wishes and dreams to encourage and give hope. But unfortunately, taking away my sister's pain is beyond my fairy-like ambitions. So, I pray. I pray for her and selfishly wish she was better so we could share crazy adventures again.

     I am reminded of a time, long ago when Neecy and I were about 9 years old. For some weird reason, I began to struggle with stomach aches of an unknown origin. I felt this constant lump in my throat and just felt sad all the time. Mom took me from one doctor to another. I endured all kinds of tests. I still remember swallowing the barium for the lower GI test. Whatever it was, I couldn't shake it. During this time, Neecy was lonely. She sat outside, waiting for me to come back to her. I slept a lot and just wanted to be left alone. Years later, I found out that I struggled with adolescent depression. The thing is, Neecy never gave up on me. She knew that in time, I would get better and return to my old self again.

     Ironically, it was Neecy that forced me out of my depression. I looked outside one day and realized that she was sitting on the curb all alone. My heart broke because I knew that she was just as sad as I was. It didn't happen overnight, but somehow I gained the courage to fight through the darkness. I was determined to be okay and with a lot of prayer and encouragement from my Neecy, I was.

     I think that's what I long for. I long to return the same favor. I long to take away Neecy's pain and to be there for her exactly as she was for me during that dark period. I long to be there with her during the sleepless night and the bouts of pain to comfort and reassure her that it's going to be alright. I long to sit up all night and watch oldie movies and chat the night away. I long to give her exactly what she has given me...unconditional love, support and the determination to keep fighting.
I realize I don't have the ability to make her pain go away but as long as I'm able I will always be there for her; even miles away. I want her to always remember that I am with her in spirit and that she is not alone in this fight.

     I'm not lying, I would love to shake a few doctors and demand that they "fix my Neecy" but I also realize that sitting in a jail cell would not be helpful to Neecy cause she would just worry about me.  So, I suck it up, put on a brave face and try to be the strong one. After all she is the wind beneath my wings. Do you have someone who has inspired you during a difficult time? I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Big Girl Shoes

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     So, back to my story about ‘big girl shoes.’ I love shoes! Actually, I’m a late bloomer and just discovered that I have, for lack of a better definition, latent shoe passion. Simply meaning I’ve always secretly loved shoes but kept my passion at bay because I could never imagine myself wearing anything so glamorous, high or sexy. It all began when Neecy and I were little. We were born skinny, (scrawny, as Mom calls it) and bowlegged. Growing up, we heard all kinds of comments about the way we walked; funny and lopsided. It was nice having company in my bowlegged-ness. Anyway, because of the out-toeing, wearing shoes with even a slight heel was a challenge. I constantly had to remind myself, “Point your toes straight…” I really hadn’t paid much attention to shoes of the high-heeled variety until Hubby and I traveled to Vegas.

     Walking around the city, I noticed that a lot of women were wearing pumps, heels and wedges with no less than a 3 inch lift. After getting a tattoo I was feeling pretty empowered. So, I decided that the next item on my bucket list would be to dazzle high heeled shoes.

      As luck would have it, when we returned home, I discovered that a well-known shoe designer, Michael Antonio had set up shop in town. They were only open to the public one day a week. So, when Friday rolled around, I was on a mission. When I walked in, I saw a sea of beautiful shoes of every style, design and color. They were so cute! I started trying on shoes, cautious at first, and then I embraced this, ‘what the heck’ attitude and started trying on anything and everything in sight.

     Michael Antonio specializes in one-of-a-kind, uniquely styled shoes; mostly heels. Many of them were totally out of character for me but the more I tried on, the more excited I became. I completely lost track of time and before I realized it, I had selected 5 pairs of shoes. The shoes were a total faith purchase since I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stand, let alone walk in them. When I had tried them on, I was so giddy about how they looked in the mirror that I didn’t even attempt walking in them…(I know, not a bright idea.)

     When I got home, I couldn’t wait to show Hubby my shoes. I gushed, “Guess what I did, Babe? I got ‘big girl’ shoes.” One pair at a time, I showed them to him. Always supportive, my sweet Hubby shared in my enthusiasm because he realized what a big step this was for me. Speaking of step…When I finally got up the courage to walk around in my new shoes I decided to do what most beginners would do…take it really slow. I tried on a pair of boots first which wasn’t too bad. I was comfortable enough to walk several steps without biting it. I was feeling a bit over confident by the time I tried on the cute black stilettos. After the first faltering step, my foot tipped outward and I was about to hit the ground before Hubby saved me. I later learned from high heeled experts that practicing at home is the best thing to do before attempting to wear them in public.

     What I’ve learned through this experience is that shoes really do influence how you feel. I haven’t mastered the art of looking confident while I walk in them, but they do give me a boost in more ways than one. Since my last shoe shopping spree, Michael Antonio had a $10.00 shoe sample sale. I was SO excited and Hubby even went with me. This time, I walked out with 7 pairs of shoes.

     These days, my biggest problem isn’t walking without falling in my cute new shoes; it’s finding a way to make my closet bigger to accommodate my growing collection. Something tells me that the next item on my bucket list is going to be home remodeling. I think Hubby better hide the tools. What have you been up to lately? Oh, Michael Antonio is available for online purchases too. (Just in case you’re tempted.)


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tattoos, Hair Do's and Big Girl Shoes

     These past few months, I have taken some pretty big leaps. A friend of mine jokingly suggested that I might be going through a mid-life kind of thing.  Even though I’m nearing 50, (in 4 months), I’m certain that it’s not my age that’s prompting my quest for adventure. I kinda have a bucket list. I say ‘kinda’ because a ‘bucket list’ is usually a list of things you want to accomplish before you kick the bucket. But, my list is all about living the richest life possible without any regrets. I’m not in denial…I know that I will one day die, but I have a bunch of things I want to experience and enjoy while I’m still alive. So, I have a list although it’s not written down. It’s an open ended list, stored up in my head that is made up as I go along. Another cool thing is that my twin sis, Neecy is pursuing an adventure list of her own; which means I’m not alone in the craziness of it all.

     It all began with my desire to have a tattoo. I’d always said that I wanted one; nothing raunchy or crazy…something small, tasteful; a tribute to my sweetie of almost 29 years. Apparently, my hubby got tired of hearing me talk about getting a tattoo because when we traveled to Las Vegas several months ago, he decided to call my bluff. He took me for a drive which ended at the parking lot of Voodoo Tattoo. When I asked why we were stopping there. He answered casually, “You said you wanted a tattoo.” I quickly thought up a few excuses. “I’m not sure what I want. We don’t have time to wait. It might be too expensive.” He ignored me and led me to the front counter. I knew I couldn’t chicken out. So, I acted like I was totally fine with it.

     After I described what I wanted, (a simple Plumeria flower with my hubby’s name on it); the artist sketched it up and then led me to a lounge chair. I glanced around at the pictures covering the walls. There were skulls of every kind, butterflies, hearts, flowers and lightning bolts, colorful and very lifelike. Then I really got nervous.  The tat artist told me to let him know if it was too painful or if I needed a break. I took a deep breath and sunk into the lounge chair with my eyes closed while he slowly etched (more like scraped) a design on my ankle. I’m not gonna lie, it did hurt…just a little but I sucked it up and kept a grin on my face. When he was finished, I was totally thrilled, not only did it look awesome but, I’d survived. It was such a rush! I had accomplished the very first thing on my list. My hubby was amazed that I went through with it. I was so proud of myself for sticking it out. These days, my mantra is, ‘Just suck it up and do it!’ Or, translated another way, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

     I was on such a high after getting my tattoo that I felt almost invincible. I was ready to zip line, or do something really daring. Fortunately for me, my cousin, Tricia is a wonderful hairstylist in Las Vegas. I met up with her and told her I wanted to do something different; something totally out of character. So, she worked her magic and created a look that made me do a double take when I saw myself. My hubby loved it!  I’d changed my hair color and my look. I looked, well…sassy. That night, when we went out with hubby’s bowling buds, they were patting him on the back and one commented, “Man, I’m going to tell your wife that you’re cheating on her.”  I felt flattered to have gained the approval of his guy friends.

     Later that night, I started noticing how so many women in Las Vegas were walking around in these beautiful, high heeled, stiletto type of shoes. I was in awe because as high as the shoes were, (3 – 5 inches) they didn’t appear to be in pain. They walked around with confidence. It was then that I decided that the next item on my list was going to be to learn how to wear “big girl” shoes. (When my sis and I were little we called shoes with any type of heel, “big girl” shoes.) So, I announced to Hubby that I was going to master the art of wearing heels. Of course he got this big grin on his face because like most guys, he seems to think it’s sexy for a woman to wear high heeled shoes. Thus began my next quest…big girl shoes. Next time, I will tell you about my adventures in shoe shopping and my next goal of walking around with high heeled shoes. Until then...