more arias insanity

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Just finished watching the latest Jodi Arias nonsense. While I’m in the midst of poring over records for our case. I don’t think people realize the extent that the worst of the worst in our society keep getting the best of the best legal assistance, at our expense. I mean that literally, you and I who pay taxes are paying for these fees to champion her — as well as the rest of the monsters like her.

The Apelt brothers got to plead “mentally retarded” flying in the face of the extensive plotting and planning and conning they did their entire adult lives. That cost taxpayers–you and me–at least TEN MILLION DOLLARS and it worked for one of them who was released from death row due to this ridiculousness. How insulting to those who are actually mentally retarded and their loved ones who can barely find services for them–or have to pay out of pocket.

Yet, I still think Arias is the most virulent and dangerous murderer I’ve ever seen. Andstill, seasoned attorneys champion her pleas–like a deeply toxic virus infecting everything that gets anywhere near it.

Her lawyers are arguing for a new trial for Arias, pointing out behavior the prosecutor did OUTSIDE of the courtroom as reason for this. Also, some of his questioning tactics of witnesses.

She wants a new trial for this, yet Travis was raked over the coals by her in the trial–called a rapist and pedophile by her attorneys throughout the several month trial–with the absolute only supporting evidence for these claims coming from the murderer herself.

The State, nor the victims, get no appeals for this heinous conduct, or ways the defense witnesses behaved totally inappropriately. I saw some of that with my own eyes.
But the murderers burden the system for decades, dredging up detail after detail demanding sympathetic and costly responses.

It makes me ill and I will keep writing about it. She didn’t even get the death penalty (which escalates this nonsense exponentially–to the tune of MILLIONS OF OUR DOLLARS) and still this circus she continues to ringmaster from prison.

Yeah, it pisses me off.

I love you forever

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I fell in love with you at first sight. You offered me up that nursery in the third bedroom with the hot pink built-in, bolstering my belief you would shelter me raising a baby there as a single Mom. I committed to you that very day- the first day I went looking.

You watched my heartache two years later as I realized that was not my destiny, and nurtured me back to a new life. You allowed me to change my mind on that, and so many other important things.

You helped me create a warm, lively space–even with your postage stamp kitchen– where I made so many friends and hosted all of those elaborate dinner parties, defying your limitations, as we served out 6-7 courses and countless buffet spreads. Remember that Sex and the City party and the Galentine’s dinner? Unforgettable.

 

 

 

You let me take you through so many iterations of color- from all of those amazing K-mart Martha Stewart paints my Dad and I slathered on before moving in, to the Tuscan theme with that one red wall and the Ralph Lauren suede other ones. Then that crazy gilded Venetian plaster tangerine ceiling with the faux leather craft paper walls, to my Neopolitan chocolate, vanilla, strawberry bedroom. We finally landed on shabby chic simple white for the last years, but of course used 5 shades of white to jazz it up.

I learned I could mend many broken hearts with you, by tackling hard projects like tiling that entire corner tub and shower myself, including that mosaic step! Even when my foot got pinched regularly on one of the impractical artsy raised tiles, I felt pride that I designed and accomplished that on my own.

Remember that night you started blowing out smoke from behind the kitchen wall and it snaked through the outlet scaring the crap out of me? Because I blew some circuit or outlet, using the microwave and toaster oven making a stupid fish dinner at midnight? And all the handsome firefighters who showed up with me with my hair crazy from the bathtub wearing my pajamas?
You nurtured me through bouts of pneumonia, awful breakups where I lost and found myself again held together by your walls, and recovery after getting run over by that car.

We had our cats there and devastation of losing them. My precious Buddy went to Heaven in your living room and Mia died in my arms in the carport. They nurtured me through everything.
We saw the planes hit the World Trade Center there together and you absorbed my wailing from what was then the upstairs office with that Dell desktop I viewed that tragedy on in real time. You also heard my sobs of relief when Scott Peterson was convicted that day, after months of obsession and involvement.

You stayed with me that night until 2am after the American Idol concert, when I changed my mind and decided to write my own victim impact statement to read the next day. Little did we know, it would change the course of so many things. It kept me safe, just like you did.

I slept alone there so many nights forgetting to lock my doors- that one time the door stood open- OPEN- all night and you kept me safe. Thank you. Also, remember the ghost that visited that one time who left the door ajar and signed on to aol as a “guest”? And the haunted colonic machine those people gave me that I couldn’t get rid of? And the time Rob made those midnight beet cocktails in the kitchen that exploded out of the blender all over, creating a crime scene on your white cabinets and walls and floor? I wonder when they tore out those cabinets, if they saw that beet juice spatter dripping down the walls–it was EVERYWHERE. I wonder what they thought it was. We did our best to clean you up but still….

I traversed nearly my entire business and professional life, being held to restore, safe-nested in your walls. I wonder if you felt as relieved as I did when I found the perfect person to let it go to, and completed that part of my life. I needed you for every bit of that.

I’m sorry I left you alone, unprotected, and you had to endure all the devastation of that flood by yourself. I guess it was the only way I could release you- to lose you as I knew you, completely. I hope you let me go during your complete fascia-lift and feel the readiness I see in you for for your next life. You and I, we completely transformed together–two blank slates at the same time. I hope you feel it too.

Even though those pink shelves from the nursery are long white now, you are getting the baby we dreamed about now with your new family.

I found my own family and I got a little girl. In fact, they found me the New Year’s Eve I got stranded and couldn’t make it back to Sedona because of the snowstorm. I heard my now husband (can you believe after all that failure you witnessed, I finally found him 15 years later?) tell me he loved me for the first time as we stayed up all night talking on the phone, nestled in the womb of your living room. I hope you were happy for me then, and now.

It was hard to let you go. I had to fight to do it- with myself. In fact, I’ve been so busy fighting to let you go, I haven’t grieved you until this moment (tears). I made a good decision and I went to war for your (our) value.

We both deserve it.

I will never forget you 5254. We lived together far longer than any other place in my 59 years. I grew up with you. Please keep an eye on my Dad and brother.

I love you forever.

 

Now some reflective images, in no particular order.

 

blizzard bouncing

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It’s the wee hours of Saturday morning, and I think I’m seeped in jet lag, so wide awake at 3am. I went to bed at 8, so shouldn’t be surprised.

Kind of processing all that we’ve moved through in the last three days and a little shock and awe going on here.

We basically leapfrogged the country from one freak massive snowstorm in to another– from PA to AZ–driving in conditions the Department of Transportation in both states begged people to stay off the highways for.

Somehow we made it through unscathed.

What normally takes under three hours, our trip from our home in Lewisburg to Philly took over five, creeping along unplowed 4 lane highways-turned 2 lane, passing semis slid off the road or through the middle barrier, being sprayed on by snowplows.

We made it to our hotel in time to rest for an hour, forego our dinner plans but make it to our sixth row seats I purchased the minute they went on sale, to see the cast of our favorite show Schitt’s Creek Live. Yes, we got to see Eugene Levy, his amazing son Dan Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Annie Murphy and the rest of the cast of the funniest show on TV. At the end, our faces hurt from smiling and hands from clapping.

Fans of Best in Show will remember Jerry and Cookie Fleck and their song “God Loves a Terrier” – a highlight was seeing them bring it back to life by heart, as a birthday gift for an audience member.

We exited the fantastic show on to the rainy, slushy, North Philly streets–cold and hungry–competing with hundreds of other people for the 3 Lyft vehicles in the area. Finally we decided to break from the crowd and find refuge and French fries in the sketchiest McDonald’s I’ve ever been in. After half an hour we were able to catch a Lyft driver who passed right by us in the rain, causing my husband to sprint down the slushy sidewalk to flag him down.

We fell in to bed, exhausted, with about four hours left to sleep before waking for our early flight to Phoenix, headed for the Sedona Film Festival to enjoy our Platinum passes that my Dad gifted us for Christmas.

Yet, another glitch on that end. Another freak snowstorm slowly passing through the normally dry desert. Snow was dropping fast and relentlessly, the highway closed, travel warnings all over the place. After struggling for 2 hours at the airport rental facility, breaking up with Thrifty and finding an AWD vehicle at Enterprise, we were finally on the road. Exhausted from poor sleep and poor nutrition, we succumbed to the clear need to curtail our plans of driving straight to Sedona and got a room.

After a run to my condo that is almost ready for listing (this weekend!!), and handling a few things there, we found a nearby hotel and I fell in to bed at 3:30pm.

With some sleep-breaks, pretty sure I got about 12 hours of sleep on that concrete slab of a bed and woke up ready to conquer Friday. We started our day with a delicious, healthy breakfast at our favorite place, headed back to the condo where I sifted through 8 bags and boxes of stuff I’d not seen in almost a year, (just the beginning of that huge project that still looms for next visit), filled the dumpster and packed the rental car, checking the weather app every few minutes. The hazardous drive warnings continued and snow was still falling. Over 12 inches in Sedona and photos on the internet of snow packed highways.

Finally, we just decided to trust our guts and give it a go. My boy-scout of a husband ran to Ace and picked up 2 shovels, knowing we would have to dig ourselves in to the driveway to get to the garage– and possibly dig ourselves out along the highway. We had water, coats and our own body fat, and took off for Sedona at 1pm, thinking we would hopefully make it before nightfall.

What a surprise to find the roads–all of them–completely clear. All the way, hardly any cars or trucks–just us and the open highway and beautiful snowy vistas all the way. Miraculously, we made it to Sedona in under two hours.

Arriving in Sedona, we found the most beautiful winter wonderland. Our car handled the foot of snow we had to power through to get to the house (my husband had a blast driving through the snow), and we were home. Oh, after stopping and picking up our festival passes and tickets.

After a gorgeous meal out, we were back home, and again I put myself to bed like a toddler at 8pm, which brings me to now–awake like a newborn at 3am.

The Christmas tree and decorations are all still up here from December, which goes right along with our winter wonderland.

I guess I’m just sitting here in some kind of disbelief of all we experienced in just three days, leapfrogging across the country from one blizzard in to another.

What are the odds of that?

the winter of my content

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I’ve been thinking a lot about winter lately–maybe because I’m living smack dab in the middle of it, ya think? 😉

After three decades of living with basically two seasons– hot as hell and beautiful–I have returned to my Midwestern roots of fall leaves, spring blooms and snowfall. As each season floats by, I keep thinking oh this one is my favorite, until the next transition.

That got me realizing something: transitions are my favorite.

 

 

Winter has brought so many beautiful things, that I’ll just let you see them in pictures.

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In my interior world, it has brought lots of time for reflection, feeling that harsh transition from a 104 degree hot tub to -40 windchill on my naked body running back to the house. They say that kind of sharp contrast makes your systems hardier–strengthens your immune and other systems. Like other transitions–not only do they create suspense and mystery, then newness and delight–they make you stronger.

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I’m still in a quiet healing mode, working on strengthening the core of myself that my personality and I managed to do a fine job of running down to near dust: my adrenal glands. At first, I resisted all of this rest. Somewhere along these months, I surrendered to it, and am finding myself in pure joy anticipating slow days of watching snow fall, reading, watching movies under a blanket, completing a craft project, playing with my new sous vide gadget and cooking fantastic healthy meals. I wake up in excitement for these simple days, where the biggest thing I might accomplish is a run to the poultry farm for eggs, chicken sausage and the best butter I have ever tasted.

 

I wake up and open the curtains to something new each morning–frost on the swail, a new snowfall, an ice rink outside our back door. And I daydream about the 300 plus bulbs I planted in the Fall, wondering how they are doing, when they will pop up, what’s going on with them under the frozen ground.

 

I think about what’s going on with me on the inside during this quiet, seemingly frozen but dynamic time. What deep changes are being made on days when my too-busy personality questions myself and my productivity. Then usually my beautiful husband reminds me you are doing everything you need to be doing in taking care of yourself right now, and I calm back down. We all need people to remind us of reality sometimes.

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Please enjoy these reflections of winter. I’m loving every single minute, yet like the dormant tulips and narcissus and hyacinths, I live in anticipation as well for my world’s next phase of showing itself off.

 

victim is not a dirty word

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A few months ago, a volcano erupted in my solar plexus, fueled by the Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony and my own readiness. Some words spilled over to my Facebook page, to a limited readership,  that were decidedly controversial.   I knew these words would be, but they came anyway. Sometimes things have a momentum of their own. Words that had laid, for the most part, unspoken, buried and sequestered in my memory bank for decades, but it was time.

Like many out there– some even reading here– I was a victim of sexual harassment in my early career. There had been other subtler infractions along the way, like my boss in the men’s department store when I was sixteen pulling me in the back room after hours  as he poured himself a whiskey, telling me I needed to use my body more strategically to sell suits while staring at my well developed chest.

The incident in my thirties was far more invasive, and had greater lasting effects on me as a woman, and in the professional relationship with this man which continued for nearly thirty years.

I did not name this person in my essay, because he is not the point. Me reclaiming myself is and was. Going after him wasn’t and isn’t my aim. Telling the truth of something I survived, is.

I’ve decided to rewrite this incident, in a small nutshell, to give background here to my readers to the larger point I need to make about this. I’ve taken some time to digest all that occurred after my sharing it initially. There was some minor backlash, but I survived that too.

This time, I just need to speak it a little differently:

We both know what you did was wrong. We knew it then and we know it now. 

When a therapist in a private setting, assists their patient to open up to a deep, embarrassing wound–the intimate, sexual problems they are having in their failing marriage–listens and offers support, then uses that exact vulnerable information as an opening line to solicit a weekend of sex from them a few months later, that is called sexual harassment. You did that.

I know you’ve been having trouble with your husband lately, so thought you might want to share my room with me this weekend and get sensuous, you said. Like you were offering some kind of sexual healing to me, knowing what I was going through at home.

When a boss contacts a married woman who has stated she is trying to work things out in her marriage and asks her to share a hotel room with him on the very first time they are slated to work together, that is sexual harassment. You did that.

We also both know that I came to you that day, the day we would have checked in to that hotel together, and apologized for your wrongdoing. I know, but you don’t, that I did that out of fear–fear that I may never get that professional opportunity again of working with you because I declined your completely inappropriate “proposition” as you later called it. This occurred during a probationary period and I was being evaluated, by you, for a future position when you solicited me. You accepted my apology, when you actually should have acknowledged yourself, how inappropriate your request was.

Working together for the first time, should have never included an unsolicited sexual encounter as part of the equation.

Recently, you tried to redefine this request as a simple proposition.  Including suggesting that I, myself, must have propositioned people sexually in my life, so would understand this simple, natural exchange between humans.

We never stepped in to the realm of proposition as you were my boss.  You were my therapist and teacher, as well. We were never peers and this was a work environment. You crossed every single line between us to invite me for that weekend of sex. And no, I never as anyone’s superior or therapist, have ever propositioned them sexually, to answer your question. Ever.

We both know I wasn’t your first, nor your last.

It was and still is textbook sexual harassment. Yet you were protected by my silence.

It had an impact on me, then and for years later. Both of our behavior created a genetic code that allowed you to come for me, in a different form of harassment when I resigned–the imbalance of power still expressing itself. And I apologized again for your inappropriate conduct. Another reflection of my wound.

I’ve unrung that bell and that wound has healed. But it took coming from a place of  you can no longer hurt me–personally or professionally–to have the strength to do that. My words now are not a symptom of my pain–they are a side effect of my having moved through it.

I am not afraid of you anymore. And the time for apologies has ended.

And, although I was victimized by you, I am not your victim. 

I am stronger now than I ever was under your tutelage, and made more so because of my own words. You taught me to stand on my own two feet. This is what that looks like.

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Now, readers, you understand the basis of what I’m going to talk about now.

Dr. Blasey Ford came under attack for her timing, her speaking out, her manner in which she did it–anything to shut her up, minimize her, yet speak up she did.

“Playing victim” is one term that was used to define my reality. Also suggesting I was only going public about this harassment, to “get attention”.

I guess he thought he could get me to retract the truth if he could diminish me for telling it. I’m sure Dr. Ford relates to that too.

So, today, I am here to tell you this, so listen up:

YOU CAN BE VICTIMIZED, AND STILL NOT IDENTIFY AS A VICTIM.

This is a tricky and fine use of terms, but it’s an important one. Important to me, anyway.

When I say that, I mean identify as victim in the ways that others may try to insult you with–playing the victim, always the victim, manipulating, not standing in your personal power, that kind of thing. In my observation, those behaviors are more often seen with those who actually have not experienced a great deal of victimization. That goes also for the ones who love to hurl those insults. True victims, rising, are the most badass people on this Earth.

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Believe it or not, there are others who have had pretty easy lives, who are actually jealous of true victims who have navigated lives of trauma–I’ve run in to them too. The ones who want to have something of value to write about, a testimony, a big struggle that will garner them kudos for simply existing. If they don’t have it, they will make it up (hello James Frey) or embellish their small hurdles in to just the worst thing ever! That is the kind of person who does something for attention.

Anyone who truly knows me, who truly pays attention to my life, who reads this blog, knows that I devote much of my time and energy to healing through some serious life crap. Many of you readers are drawn to me, because you are living your lives with some of the same challenges and drives. We breathe life in to each other through simply living our lives and not being destroyed.

The sexual harassment I was on the receiving end from this man pales in comparison to being a motherless child at 5, a child abuse survivor and a survivor of homicide and everything that has come with that for the last thirty years. It pales, but it did happen. And it was still not ok.

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Be careful who you are coming for, when that person has been through far worse than what you put them through.

The truth is, people are victims–of crime, of abuse, of terrible things. My sister was a victim, she will always be a victim of homicide. This does not diminish her life, and it is the raw truth about her death. I’m literally, legally, termed a victim by the State of AZ and the AZ Attorney General’s Office. I receive rights and benefits due to this terminology.

Yet, I am also victorious. I am also living my best life. As my father, who has literally known me my entire life, told my husband “I have never seen Kathy happier in her whole life than she is with you.” That was last year and it’s true. I’m happier and calmer and more content than I can ever remember. This is often the exact moment when things come up to be cleaned out. I want to have even more of this…and more yet! The releasing of this story takes me to yet a new level.

A person can also be living a very happy life and still get angry, intolerant of bad behavior and have strong things to say that don’t make everyone happy.  Keep speaking!

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I have my reasons for coming out with this ugly piece of my past, that don’t get defined by the person who victimized me, or their representatives.  I’m also glad that my words got noticed where they needed to–they were helpful, not just to me. I’m sure I’m not even aware of how much they helped others who suffered similarly, no matter where they reside on their healing path with it. This is part of the power and importance in telling one’s difficult stories. I’ve certainly gleaned strength from reading testimonials from people far more influential than me. Oprah and Iyanla Van Zant come to mind–people who certainly have risen from tragedies and abuse and have told their traumas out loud, helping others like me.

To be clear, I wrote about this because those words needed to come out of me. I did it for myself. I selfishly, unabashedly told the truth for me. And I don’t have one sliver of regret.

I had to get some distance, some healing, some introspection, some safe distance, to be able to tell the truth. Again, my speaking out was not a symptom of my trauma, as much as a side effect of my strength. Again, I think I’m relating to Dr. Blasey Ford here as well.

So to anyone feeling inclined, or pressured to try and diminish me again on this topic I say this: I have likely already recovered from far more than you will ever endure in your entire life.  Many of my readers have as well. There is no room for you here. I understand what’s motivating you, as I stood in those shoes myself. Yet, your vulnerability in this regard makes you untrustworthy for me and I will hold a boundary around this.

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We never know how or why our words ripple out or where they might land, but ignoring that splinter as it dislodges, or worse yet, trying to jam it back in, is an act of self-destruction.

It is liberating to reach a point in your life, where intimidation no longer works on you, because the eyes for the hooks are unreachable. Or maybe even gone. And there will be backlash, and it will still be worth it. And the people who fall away from their intolerance to the sound of your new voice, create space for those who think your song is the melody they’ve been waiting for.

In a final anthem of supreme irony, it was this man’s teachings that propelled me to the confidence and strength I feel right now, to speak these truths. I can separate the man from the teachings now, as the latter has been very valuable to me.  People are complicated, as are relationships. We can learn many things with and through and because of someone, and still choose to leave them because they are not healthy for us. We can even love them and still make all of those choices.

And in the leaving of this man and all that went with it, the saying no to disrespect and devaluation, set me straight up for meeting my husband who displays none of that — and I mean none of it. 

Closed doors are as important as open ones. And sometimes, the reverb from the slamming shut of one door, dislodges that stuck hinge in the next one, that has kept bright futures obscured from our newly opened eyes.

 

Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan. woman standing in doorway looking out at bright sunny day, view from behind and below

indelible impressions

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I made this wildly long post on Facebook today and thought, well, shoot, may as well make it a blog post too. Copying and pasting.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about lasting impressions and indelible identifications that are left and want to open a discussion about it. Why some people, even though the relationship is filled with turmoil and difficulty, leave a lasting imprint of loving, warm memories. Then some, even though the relationship was filled with good times and love, leave an imprint of, well, not that. A darker memory, or maybe simply the unvarnished truth. How people get defined once all is said and done, and why?

Case in point, my stepmother who I’ve written about in my blog and done lots of contemplating about. She was in my life for over 30 years and it was filled with all kinds of peaks and valleys. It wasn’t an entirely negative relationship. For example, she was amazing around the time I planned my first wedding and we had lots of fun doing it. I had many interesting intellectually stimulating conversations with her as adult–I admired her opinions on politics and other things. I learned things from her. Yet, when all was said and done, the lasting imprint she has, lingering in my memory, is of the abuse that went on for years–both physical and emotional. I’m not talking about a trauma felt to my bones, although that was once there. I’ve worked through most, if not all of that by now. Much of my working through it came after I started telling the truth about it/her. I can speak about her and the things that happened now without shaking, without feeling angry, just recounting them with a sense of power that I survived them and her. But that’s how she is primarily remembered for me–as someone I survived.

I wrote about another person the other day who also left that kind of challenged indelible impression on my memory. I would say I loved that person much more than I ever loved my stepmother, but when I look back, now in a place of neutrality in my emotional field, the lasting shadow is of the unwarranted disrespectful behavior–I’ll just say it–abuse, that was levied at me. There are positive memories, but they aren’t dominant, I reach for those and they are in a more “in spite of…” kind of place. That relationship was also primarily filled with many positive experiences and joyful moments at the time. Still, the stamp left is of something else. Not feeling tone; memory and identification.

I have other friendships that may have gone by the wayside or challenged loved ones I’ve lost, but their indelible mark is from the happy memories, good times, warm thoughts.

So I got to thinking, how does this happen?

For me, I have two conclusions right now.

1. The severity and/or length of the abuse. And what it took to get free from it, if a person ever does.

But I think the second is more the chestnut of the lesson.

2. The other person’s willingness and ability to look at their role, apologize for any harmful behavior and be open to my point of view with a genuine desire to grow together from it.

In both cases I mentioned, I knew that second element would be impossible. Either I tried, I thought about the futility of trying, and/ or I had witnessed a lifetime of observing how that person operates in a field of conflict, knowing the inevitable. Some people move directly from an uncomfortable sharing in to full attack mode. This is their pattern. It’s effective, but not healing. You know these people and the futility. Observing them in other dynamics informs your own.

In essence, you know if that’s the person you can work something out with and you know who isn’t. You know the people who, the only way out of a conflict with them is to own 100% of your part with certainty they will agree with you and own 0% of theirs, even if theirs was inadvertent.  That definitely will move you out of the acuity of the conflict or standoff, but there is no real healing in that. It’s a toxic bandaid.

I will say, a sincere apology goes a very long way with me–I melt like a pat of butter on an August Arizona sidewalk. I’ve learned a lot about apologizing from people who did it well and those who have not. This is a muscle I work on flexing as I need this medicine.

Marjorie, my stepmother, used to throw in one pat sentence in to most family conflicts “I know I’ve made mistakes too” (while pointing out our mistakes).

Cindy (my sister), once confronted that and held her feet to the fire asking repeatedly “ok,what were they?”. She kept skirting the answer and the one thing she finally could come up with was “I let you children get to me”. Even her mistake, was ours. That was the one and only time I can ever remember her looking at her part in any conflict with us, or anyone else. Again, we KNOW who will work with us and who won’t.

I turned on the TV and surfed the one and only time I saw the Queen Latifah show and Jada Pinkett Smith was being interviewed. Queen asked her why she stayed with Will Smith after years of conflict and marriage. She answered so clearly and succinctly, I paused my TV and played it back several times to hear her say, “He has a sincere desire to grow.” (I’m lucky to have one of those husbands too Jada).

For me, this is at the heart of it. Where and who to invest in and how those indelible memories are created in either direction. Another wise person once said to me “you can’t go to a dry well for a drink of water.”

And I’m ok with my indelible impressions being what they are, as long as they are REAL. I’m very invested in authenticity right now.

We know. I know. You know. We always know.

What are your thoughts?