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How Great Thou Part

How Great Thou Part

I Want to Shine Again

posted by corme

I am chatting with my friend “Trixie.”

She tells me that she has met a few women lately who are re-emerging in their lives.

“They are some bad-ass women,” says Trixie. “I want to be bad-ass again.”

“I want to be bad-ass again, too,” I say back.

I hang up the phone. Later I drive to the center of town. I sit at the stop light and a tree catches my eye. It’s the same tree it’s always been. It’s always been on the corner only now it’s decorated for Easter just as it was for St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas.

This run of the mill tree in this greatly wooded, country town now shines.

I used to shine.

Now I am just one of the many trees.

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I am struggling to re-emerge in my life. Why? Because I paid a high price for staying in a failing marriage for too long. I lost my shine.

I lost my bad-ass.

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Can I Handle the Seasons of My Life?

posted by corme

I drive towards town. The air is colder than the past few days and it suits my morning mood. I fiddle with the radio not able to find a song that I like. I hear the hypnotic voice of Stevie Nicks.

She is singing “Landslide” and the car fills with more stillness than it already possesses. The lyrics speak to me.

“Well, I”ve been afraid of changing ‘Cause I built my life around you.”

The tears that I have held at bay for weeks now (a divorce eternity) find their way from the corner of my eyes.

The past twenty some years on rewind. I am just nineteen. I did build my life around him.

I think of my friend “Daughtry” and how he told me that divorce was just like graduation day. That I am sad for the goodbye and uncertain of the future, yet exciting new things are coming my way.

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I grasp at the image of graduation. I hold onto the hope “Daughtry” gives me – only those goodbyes were fleeting not forever. They were ‘until we meet again’ over love, laughter and for life. It was me and Lora, Maribeth, Joanne, Susan, Lorianne, Ellen, Elizabeth, Tracey and more. Somehow our lives would weave and wind together far after our caps flew up into the air.

I will not be taking this person that I built my life around with me after this graduation. He and I will not share the love and laughter and for life again.

I stop at the stop sign. The song and Stevie and me say goodbye – because I know I have to ask myself…

“Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Well, I”ve been afraid of changing ‘Cause I built my life around you.
But time makes you bolder.
And children get older and I’m getting older too.”

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And ready for this landslide.

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Me and my friend Joanne

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Marla and Me

posted by corme

I hear a rumbling in my garage. No, it’s more like the pillaging sounds of a two hundred pound man.

It’s late and right now it’s just my chocolate lab Hazel and me at home. Suddenly I am quite aware of my soon to be divorced – there is no one, but me to ‘check out the intruder’ status. Of course, I am divorcing a man who once threw me in front of a doberman so that he could pass by it safely. So it might be fair to say that perhaps I was on my own before.

Still…at least then there was another person in the house brave or not so brave.

I should mention that I live on two acres. I should also mention that I am surrounded by fifteen acres of common ground behind my house and another fifty acres off the end of my cul de sac. Hence, I am pretty sure that what I will find in my garage is not two hundred pounds of human.

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I look at Hazel. She’s not really much of a fierce wingman (wing-dog). She’s more of the ‘Marley and Me” variety. All charged up and not sure where to focus. She is too cute for words (at least to this mama), but she is also chock full of ‘how bad can I be’ not ‘who can I guard.’

She digs, she steals food, she gets into trash, she decorates our yard with it, she forgets her name when she’s called, she opens doors and that just scratches the surface. Of course, she also knows how to shut doors so I will give her bragging rights to that.

There was also the time we came downstairs to find her on the kitchen bar top. We were never entirely sure how she got up there without flying off the other side (guessing it would have taken quite the running jump to get up so high). We thought she might have had her way drinking down and eating ‘Michael Vick’ the fish, but he was safely intact. It’s a long story, we don’t like Vick since we are animal lovers – then he got signed by the Eagles making it a dilemma for my boys. Somehow the fish got the nickname.

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Anyway, back to the intruder.

I look at Hazel and realize support or no support I gotta open the door.

I inch the door open. The bulldog sized raccoon that has been enjoying a progressive dinner between me and my neighbor’s house flies back towards the wilderness.

In a moment Hazel squeezes between my legs.

It is a fury between the two of them. Lots of scrambling. Lots of noise. I panic, but as usual Hazel forgets her name. It seems the two hundred pound raccoon who doesn’t fear Hazel enough to enter our garage doesn’t necessarily want to hang out with her either.

Ten minutes later, Hazel drags herself towards the door. She is exhausted my little raccoon hunter, yet still with enough energy to seek a treat for her bravery.

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I sigh relief at my wing-dog’s safety. I am happy to not ‘truly’ be alone – even if Hazel does make our lives the “Marla and Me” variety.

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Paint Your Lips Red and Get Gutsy

posted by corme

I sip coffee, pull the ponytail holder out of my hair and slide back in the chair. The stylist mixes the dye behind me. I am at Salon Bleu. It’s my favorite hair salon and one of my ‘happy’ places. I am comfortable here and have been a client for so long that these are also friends to me.

I chat with my regular stylist, Henry as he slathers dye on another client’s eyebrows. I think of my friend “Crystal” who has just been brave enough to try this out. “Crystal” looks great, but the whole thing seems risky to me. However, I am craving change and some type of physical transformation even if it’s baby steps.

“I wanna dye my brows!” I announce to Claudia, the stylist working on me.

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I am feeling brave. I know – I know it’s not zip lining or skydiving! However, for me it’s a little moment of gutsy. It is completely outside of my comfort zone. So give me the moment! Give me – my moment of gutsy!

Claudia is all for it so she and Melissa discuss just how dark they will go. I feign quite ‘real fear’ as the dye saturates my brows.

Do you blame me? I’m looking for a little wide eyed pick me up and not for my brows to enter a room before me.

“Five minutes,” says Claudia.

“Five minutes?? Are you kidding me?? Sounds reckless!” I protest.

Claudia laughs and leaves me to my own. I do what I always do when I am nervous. I chatter and then chatter a little more with anyone who will listen and is walking by.

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Then the moment of truth. Claudia swipes a bit here and there and they present me with a mirror.

“I love it!” I gush. “My eyes look bigger, they even look more blue, I look lifted.”

Of course, these salon veterans laugh at me. It’s not like I have dyed my hair blonde or red or cut my hair to a pixie or gotten Brittany type extensions.

My mind drifts to a conversation I had with my sweet, beautiful, friend who I will call, “Bella.”

“Bella” lives on the West Coast and she will check on me from time to time. A Facebook message here and there that comes at just the right moment. She cheers me on.

One night she ended her note with, “I wish we could just put on some bright red lipstick and drink some wine together.”

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I wish we could too only at that point I wasn’t quite ready for bold red lipstick (note that I say nothing about wine).

I say goodbye and walk out of the salon and into the mall.

I am feeling gutsy. I know it’s just my ‘little moment of gutsy,’ but it’s gutsy nonetheless. A step forward in a new direction. I think I might be back for a bigger moment of gutsy. A slight blue streak underneath my hair. Why not?

Regardless, I am ready to paint on some red lipstick, pour a glass of cab, pick up the phone and call the West Coast.
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10 Things I Tell My Children About High School

posted by corme

I loved high school. It was a time of emerging independence, life innocence and forever friendships. A period of explosive emotional growth while my friends and I were growing comfortable in our own skin.

It was football games and basketball and rugby. It was passing notes that we prayed weren’t intercepted by the guy we liked. It was lunch in the cafeteria sharing secrets and laughter. It was the bus or car ride after school to a friends house. It was parties and clothes and General Hospital.

It was also broken hearts, a failing grade, a team not made, a skipped class…

When my boys start high school I always tell them the same thing – “High school is a roller coaster. One day you will go to school and be dating the girl of your dreams and getting an “A.” A few months later, she will be dating someone else and you will be getting a “D.” High school is a precursor to the ebb and flow of life. If you accept and understand this then it can be an unbelievable ride.”

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I usually also toss in – “That if I do my job right they won’t peak in 9th or 10th grade and that they will grow up naturally.”

And then when the time is right and calls for it, I share with them what I call the…

“Ten High School Live-By’s:”

Being popular is not a goal. It is a by-product of treating every individual the same – with kindness and respect.

Confidence is what allows one to make good decisions.

People value one only as much as they value themselves – self-respect is critical.

No one should ever let another human being define them – or limit them from being themselves.

Love will emerge in life in new ways – so know that joy and pain are the necessary roommates of the heart.

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Confident people make the very best friends. They have the ability to feel another’s pain and celebrate another’s joy.

Failure is misunderstood and perfection is overrated. Adolescence is a time of growth – embrace it, fail, grow,fail and grow again.

One does not have to be loud to be a leader. A quiet leader can step away from the crowd when necessary and do what is right.

This is a time to learn a higher degree of self-responsibility – face problems it will empower independence.

Even the most confident people are occasionally filled with self-doubt especially through the teenage years. Understand that and never let momentary insecurity spread to others. Never make another person feel bad to make yourself feel good.

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I share these with my boys to prepare them for the unexpected twists and turns leading them towards adulthood. So that they are less confused and pressured and better prepared for the roller coaster.

So that they can enjoy the ride.

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A Proud Irish Catholic Girl – Shamrocks, Blarney And Rainbows

posted by corme

My Nana and Grandpa left the shores of the Emerald Isle carrying their dreams and a bit of shamrocks, Blarney and rainbows with them.

You might say, “the luck of the Irish.”

Tommy and Rose McCaffrey fell in love state side.

Tommy was a handsome, New York City cop. His heart so big that his body could barely house it. Rose was a beautiful, mid-wife and soon smitten with the charming Irishman. Together they gave me my mother, their oldest child, Rosemarie.

I would visit them in the city when I was little. How I loved the vibe of the big Irish clan (as my uncle, Father Pat – a priest) loved to call us.

I would enter their apartment building and the familiar smell would wash over me and capture my childhood sense of them. How I found wonder in those Brooklyn streets and the grandparents and other family that I wished I lived closer to. I would take my cousins and walk to the Carvel with a sense that I, too, was from this place.

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It was an exciting spot to be surrounded by this big Irish, Catholic clan.

There were the trips to the Irish pubs or my Uncle Barney’s bar where my mother who didn’t drink a lick sans the occasional Irish Coffee would belt out Danny Boy. There were the Irish dances where the adults reveled like children. There was the robust laughter of my Grandpa as he told us all a ‘tale’ laced with a bit of Irish trickery. He somehow could take a little morsel and make the story bigger and bigger. A gift of the Irish.

It was the stuff of legends – Tales of leprechauns, pots of gold, and other things. It was a childhood filled with stories and lore.

Lest I forget the big city weddings. The ones where inevitably a few men found themselves outside to settle, um, a bit of a disagreement. You know the Irish they are a passionate bunch. The stout perhaps making them a wee bit more passionate. Now you know I speak the truth here and not the stuff of Irish legends.

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These are the people who were a part of the many responsible for bringing Ireland to the states.

A people of great faith as well as heritage who brought with them their love of a saint named Patrick who introduced them to Christianity.

They created a fervor so massive that once a year, an entire country turns green – with Irish love, legends and lore.

Me, it takes me back to Brooklyn. To a warm, kindhearted Irishman and his equally loving, Irish Lassie and the laughter and love that came from their proud Irish, Catholic home.

To the “luck of the Irish” – To carrying dreams and a bit of shamrocks, Blarney and rainbows with me…always.

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Find People Who Live Their Lives ‘Both Ways’

posted by corme

I flop onto my couch, put my computer on my lap and my cold pressed (carrot, cucumber, orange and ginger) juice on the table beside me. I start to watch television much like the rest of us do today, constantly distracted by my laptop. My eyes turn towards the fire fading in my fireplace.

The moment of mesmerizing gaze makes me drift to a conversation that I had with two of my boys.

We sat in our kitchen just after school chatting about life.

I told them that we have to be mindful, conscious of our aches and pains. I told them it’s important to communicate what we are feeling and not let it spill out in other ways. Certainly I have had a hard time with this lately. I explained that though we all have our moments that it should be the exception and not the rule that we take our moods out on others because we are tired, cranky, aching or stressed.

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The fire is becoming faint. My gaze turns back towards the television.

To be aware of our feelings allows us to be conscious of what we give of ourselves to others. To face our feelings and our problems further permits us to give the best of ourselves to others.

We need to process life. We need to process our feelings.

We need to do this so that what comes out of us is a generosity of love. We need to keep giving not taking and we need to find people who give as much as they get.

We need to find people who live their lives both ways.

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Happy 21st Birthday to One of my Three Everything’s

posted by corme

It’s hot in Siesta Key, Florida. The water splashes up against the dock. The kids scurry past us. They jump onto the jet skis.

“Hey,” yells my friend Lucy. “You are everything to me!”

Lucy’s three kids look up and smile at their mom. They are anxious to hit the open seas.

“Hey,” commands Lucy once again. “Did you hear me? Everything!”

There is such love coming from Lucy. It is not lost on me that instead of ranting warnings like most mothers, Lucy chooses to remind her children there is nothing more important than her ‘Three Everything’s.’

The moment gives me pause.

I remember just before I had my first son I was terrified. I couldn’t believe I was going to have this little person that needed me to be the best example I could be in life. When we brought Tommy home from the hospital I couldn’t stop staring at him.

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I had alternating thoughts.

Oh my gosh, he is beautiful.

Oh my gosh, he is relying on me for everything.

It wasn’t long before I went from driving gingerly with my precious cargo to belting out songs while he giggled in the backseat. The love transitioned seamlessly into an abandonment of fear. I wondered what I found beautiful or funny before Tommy arrived.

When we moved Tommy to his big boy bed he would strut his smiling, toddler self into my room in the morning.

“Wake up mommy! It’s a beautiful day outside!”

I remember going away one weekend and our babysitter calling me.

“Colleen,” she said. “Tommy walked into my room this morning announcing it was a beautiful day and it was time to get up.”

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“I know,” I chuckled. “When Tommy was a baby I didn’t realize that each morning that was what I would say to him. That is until he started parroting it back to me.”

Today my Tommy turns 21 years old. He is away at college in Athens, Georgia – more specifically he’s on a cruise ship with 2,000 other college students (no parental worries there).

Only I wish he was here with me.

I wish I could burst into his room and say, “Wake up Tommy! It’s a beautiful day outside! —

Every day has been beautiful since you arrived and became one of my ‘Three Everything’s'”

TommyBD

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I Fell Down Farther Than Most to Help Others Get Up

posted by corme

I love writing this column because not only is it cathartic for me, but because I can attempt to help some of the people in pain reaching out to me.

I can tell them that I understand their heartache. It is true that marriage problems come in all different shapes and sizes. However, there is still a commonality to losing one that you once believed was the ‘love of your life.’

In some of my deepest confusion and sorrow I couldn’t find a person to take my hand and walk me through it. I mean in the literary sense. I scoured the bookstores and found tons of books on the subject only they were expert laden, long, heavy books that I could not absorb or cheerleading ‘get past’ divorce voices that frankly, I didn’t want to hear.

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Sure, there was “Eat, Pray and Love,” only traveling to far away countries to heal my pain wasn’t an option. I was stationed domestically state side to:

eat (and believe me I did),
pray (and believe me even God is crying Uncle from me at this point) and,
love (who? I’ve worn out all the people who love me most by staying in a bad situation too long.)

This morning I jump on Facebook and read a note from the heart of a friend and just now I sit before an e-mail from my friend, “Kiki.”

I struggle a bit when I feel their suffering. I don’t want anyone to hurt in this way that has become so familiar to me, yet was once so foreign to me.

“Kiki” lets me know that an otherwise unpredictable, confusion filled, heart breaking time is made even more confusing by the good intentioned advice of loved ones.

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I empathize with her. Then I admit the truth – my personal truth.

The ones who loved me most fought for me the hardest. In some twisted irony, I turned a deaf ear and stayed with the man who loved me the least and fought for me the weakest.

The people who really loved me told me to get out, give up, and get going.

I knew they were right. I don’t know why an otherwise strong woman gave so much of herself to another human being that I became embarrassed by myself. I was a marital extreme. I was and became a divorce extreme. I am not proud of that. I want to be seen in the same well respected eyes I had always been seen in.

My sister who likes to go by the moniker “Foxy Roxy” told me three things over the years that I will never forget:

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“Colleen you are smarter than this. Get out”

“Colleen why would you stay with someone who never loved you enough to fight for you as you did for him?”

“Colleen the best part of you was that you always saw the best in people”

I was listening only love is love. This inexplicable and magical existence that takes otherwise self-respecting, strong, capable, independent, smart individuals and renders us temporarily helpless.

I am not proud that I did not do divorce well.

I can only rely on my faith. I think I fell down farther than most so that I could help others get up.

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8 Phrases That Signify Zero Respect in a Relationship

posted by corme

I am a writer. I am also a marketer.

This is my world view.

I am all about stories and connecting the dots from beginning to end. I am also about problem solving and connecting the dots until something is made profitable and works even better than it once did.

I now see relationships through the lens of marketing.

I wish someone had taught me what I term an ‘emotional vocabulary.’ The phrases that usher in love and the ones that cast love aside. If I had learned these phrases that either beautify a relationship or destroy it I would have understood what I call ‘emotional profitability’ much sooner.

So why is respect so important to love?

Disrespect = Don’t Care

It means I care more about my opinion than listening to what you feel. This is contradictory to love.

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Respect = I Do Care

I always say that “Respect means you don’t have to understand or agree with something for it to be someone else’s truth.”

These are 8 phrases that signify a lack of respect in a relationship.

I don’t care
Why does that matter to you
That shouldn’t bother you
That’s silly
That’s ridiculous
You’re making a big deal out of nothing
That’s not my problem
You’re overreacting

how-great-thou-part-3

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Previous Posts

I Want to Shine Again
I am chatting with my friend "Trixie." She tells me that she has met a few women lately who are re-emerging in their lives. "They are some bad-ass women," says Trixie. "I want to be bad-ass again." "I want to be bad-ass again, too," I say back. I hang up the phone. Later I drive to the c

posted 4:42:25pm Mar. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Can I Handle the Seasons of My Life?
I drive towards town. The air is colder than the past few days and it suits my morning mood. I fiddle with the radio not able to find a song that I like. I hear the hypnotic voice of Stevie Nicks. She is singing "Landslide" and the car fills with more stillness than it already possesses. The lyri

posted 3:06:19am Mar. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Marla and Me
I hear a rumbling in my garage. No, it's more like the pillaging sounds of a two hundred pound man. It's late and right now it's just my chocolate lab Hazel and me at home. Suddenly I am quite aware of my soon to be divorced - there is no one, but me to 'check out the intruder' status. Of course,

posted 4:04:22am Mar. 24, 2015 | read full post »

Paint Your Lips Red and Get Gutsy
I sip coffee, pull the ponytail holder out of my hair and slide back in the chair. The stylist mixes the dye behind me. I am at Salon Bleu. It's my favorite hair salon and one of my 'happy' places. I am comfortable here and have been a client for so long that these are also friends to me. I chat

posted 7:31:42pm Mar. 20, 2015 | read full post »

10 Things I Tell My Children About High School
I loved high school. It was a time of emerging independence, life innocence and forever friendships. A period of explosive emotional growth while my friends and I were growing comfortable in our own skin. It was football games and basketball and rugby. It was passing notes that we prayed weren't

posted 6:09:11pm Mar. 18, 2015 | read full post »

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