Walking In My Shoes







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The Battle of the Moon

Copyright: Fantasy Fight GamesThe fires raged through the night.

The enemy engaged to win the fight.

Lightning cracked, thunder boomed.

The fortress was sacked. We all were doomed.

The full moon rose high in the sky.

We defeated our foes. I’ll tell you why.

The rain came down. The earth was mud.

Our enemies would drown in their own blood.

The Battle we won. The war to end soon.

Our enemies were gone at the Battle of the Moon.

– VJM, April 21, 2014


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The Wolf Inside

This was written by my 13-year son. Out of the blue, he decides to write a poem.

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When the moon rises
You feel the heat
You taste the anger
You smell the meat
When the flower blooms
Deep in your heart
You feel the change coming
And it begins to start
When the blood is consumed
Get ready for a ride
Fur grows
Forming a mongrel hide
You lose control
A blood lust created
They razed the village
Which is why they’re hated
You can’t run
and you can’t hide
From the beast within
And the wolf inside

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Step Back From The Edge

No beating around the bushes with words today.

Coming to grips with the news of yet another suicide of someone I knew, though not well at all, still stops me emotionally and mentally in my tracks. Some people have met with crisises in their lives and not lost hope. Some have never had a crisis in their lives but still have no hope. Then, there are ones with medical conditions that allow thoughts to go down all the wrong roads and they can’t see the beauty of life anymore.


If you think your life is awful… If you think no one approves of you… If you think you are alone in this world… do this at least once, or as many times as you need:  ask for help.  I call that moment when you think all is lost “the edge.”  When you see it, feel it, sense it, ask for help.

If you are lost without hope you often think there is no one to ask for help.  You should be very happy that you are wrong in that. Outside of friends and family, there are clergy, professionals and even volunteers that are willing to help you step back from “the edge.” You can talk to someone that knows your problems or if you’re more comfortable, talk with someone that doesn’t. But, talk. Communicate.

If you are in the Lubbock, Texas area, you can call Contact Lubbock 24-Hour Crisis Intervention at (806)-765-8393.  

Nationally, please call 1-(800)-784-2433.

I mentioned communicate above.  There’s more to it than that. Be brave in just one more moment to connect with someone outside of yourself. Be brave one more day through what must seem like the darkest times.  Be brave to let someone be touched by your life experiences. Each time, try one more time to communicate, to connect, to reach out.

Be brave for one more moment and connect to the world outside of you. It’s beautiful out here if you give it another chance.

Wishing you peace and love always.

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Large Wrecking Ball Required

May 20th, 2013. 5:15am.

I walked out of the house on time, really 5 minutes ahead of schedule, to catch a flight to a trade show for work in Atlantic City. Standing at the back of the car, just as I lift a piece of luggage into the back, my phone rang in my hand. A simple glance told me it was not my boss or co-worker also going on the trip with me. It was my mom. “No, Mom, no.” came out of my mouth and my husband moved from where he was standing at the garage door.

For .3 seconds I thought of not answering, but I needed to let my mom give me her message. I told my husband as he helped me with another bag but I could not pause for a hug, for his sympathy. I needed to get to the airport for this trip.

The days were busy and long. I stayed focused on work, and at the end of 3 days was utterly exhausted beyond my physical and emotional bounds. The flight from Philadelphia to Raleigh, and then the drive from RDU down to my hometown found me walking into the door of my childhood home and waking my mom slumbering in her recliner at 2am.

My grandmother’s funeral and subsequent time with my family are still a blur. My eyes teared up at the sight of my sister going through her emotions at the funeral and I grabbed her, staving off my own grieving to console her.  My family was already so weary from their own ordeals from the days before my grandmother’s passing.  We consoled ourselves with family memories and too many pieces of the obligatory cake or pie. A couple of days later when I stood up from my grandfather’s table to leave for my flight home, the weight of the week felt almost unbearable and I recognized my reluctance to depart as my denial of my own grief.

I drove the backroads to I-40, through the lands of my ancestors, full of emotional loss, physical exhaustion and sweet memories.  Arrival to my current home brought my nuclear family needs back in focus along with lots of work to be done at a new job. More time has passed but I have spent none grieving as I should.

The wall I built around the emotions of grief the last few weeks is tall, thick, well-constructed. I am an expert at building such walls.  I don’t know where to begin to grieve. I try to will the tears but the fear of pain, the fear of the tears never stopping, keep them from coming at all.  Someone told me that I am a strong woman. I see my inability to grieve properly as a weakness, a fault.

No one knows my inability to own my emotions is deeply seated in childhood pain and loss. I let a little bit of sorrow in and my world crashes in on me for months.  The wall around my current grief is part of a superstructure I have been building all of my life.  Whenever I mourn and tear down just one wall, the whole structure becomes unstable. I become unstable. I hate that feeling. I begin to lament every bad decision, every loss, every hurt, every pain my mind will not forget. I hate the overwhelmingness of it.

Just below the lump in my throat, sitting on top of my heart, is a massive structure of walls, hidden rooms, towers of secrets. One chink in the mortar, one removed stone threatens it. I do not have the strength to start the grieving. This is an advertisement for demolition needed. Large wrecking ball required.

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First Decision of 2012

Not 30 minutes into the year and it is already marked with an important decision. That decision is no looking back. No revisits or re-examinations of mistakes and missteps. Time was used in 2011 for analysis of those things and only that came into 2012 with me.

No big changes are being planned for the new year. My interests, pursuits and activities remain the same and will continue.  As a consummate learner, I’m sure to pick up new things, new ideas in the coming year but they aren’t on a list because I don’t know what they are yet.

Every year holds obstacles and challenges, good times and sadness. 2012 will hold plenty of all of that and I can only hope to meet it with understanding and peace.

Looking forward is so much more fun. What didn’t get done in 2011 has 365 days of 2012 for the possibility. What went wrong in 2011 is done and gone, and 2012 holds hope for another try.

All of 2012 belongs to 2012, the present and future.

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Pass the Hushpuppies

Among the reasons I love Fall, the number one is oysters. Cooler weather means oyster season. The oyster is the ugly, stinking of mud bivalve. I love them. They are by far my favorite thing to eat and have been since I was 6-years old. The only thing that comes even close is my grandmother’s collard greens. But that’s another culinary story.

Coastal North Carolina is fortunate to have what are called barrier islands. They protect the main coastline and provide inlets, waterways and protected waters from the harsh wave action of the ocean. Along these waterways, in the muddy shallows, my favorite delectable bivalves reside in the luxury of mud and seawater, living and multiplying as the tide dictates.

My earliest recollection of eating oysters was at our house at Lake Waccamaw circa 1975. We ate them inside the house! Something we never did again once we moved from the lake to where my parents live now. I still love their taste, but I first fell in love with how hard I had to work to get the tasty little morsels out of their shells. Mainly, because I was good at it.

I see people shuck oysters with gloves and rags, but from the beginning I held them in my bare hand and, at first, had only a butter knife to use to open them. My stepdad encouraged me as often as possible to slow down, eat a hushpuppy, take a break, but I loved just shucking and chucking.

Photo Credit: Oyster Cluster & Oyster Knife by Doug DuCap

News of possibly having a couple of bushels while we’re in NC for the holidays has me reminiscing about cold evenings standing around a table in my great grandmother’s smokehouse, now a garden shed, and shucking with aunts and uncles. Even before that, we ate them in a more modern shed my stepdad had elevated on railroad ties to protect from the tidal Thally’s Branch, the creek that runs behind their house.

Our family eats oysters on a wet roast, meaning they are steamed over a pot of water over an outside fire until their shells pop open just a bit. Well, most of them do any way until they start getting cold again and close up. My favorites ones are 4″ long and juicy. No sauce, lemon or fancy fixings are needed. I love them warm enough for their salt juice to sweeten with the meat. Their color ranges from beige when swollen from their hot juices to mud gray well, because there’s still mud inside the shell. Somehow the grit never bothers me.

Holding an oyster to shuck it isn’t for anyone not wanting to get their fingers dirty or cut. When they close up, a simple twist of a good oyster knife or even a sturdy butter knife opens up the most stubborn oyster like turning a key. The edges of the shell are sharp as cut glass at times.

Waiting between pots once you’ve eat the previous pot is the time to socialize, pass the hushpuppies and empty the full buckets of empty oyster shells. If it is cold, it’s a good time to warm up wet, cut hands by the fire but also down a good bit of Southern sweet tea to cut the salt puckering the soft tissue of your mouth. The last pot is always something to savor and it is customary to slow down to let the cook catch up on a few.

No, there’s nothing quite like shucking wet, muddy, sharp oysters in 35-40 degrees standing at a table covered in newspaper and saltwater. Many Fall and Winter weekends of my youth have left me with what feels like a thousand papercuts on my hands and a belly full of muddy, salty, slimy, chewy scrumptious oysters.

I can’t wait!!

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The Best Christmas Gift to Ourselves

The Christmas shopping season is upon us. As we make our lists and debate what to purchase for the people in our lives, consider spending most or all of your money on U.S. made items or local services.

This article from The Oregonian about buying American this year contains similar sentiments I received in an forwarded email from a co-worker last week. With issues of employment nationwide, it makes sense to spend locally, spend on goods and services that employ people here in America. It is an important issue to think through to action.

Our national security is intertwined with economic security. This article from The Christian Science Monitor identifies publicly what we’ve always suspected: we are under attack by Russia and China.  They’re not using missiles and bullets but they are hitting us where we live: our economic security. We all can play a part of mobilizing against these attacks, especially against China. Stop buying products made in China. Stop sending our hard-earned money to Chinese businessmen.

Photo Credit: ActiveRain.com photo of Front Street, Wilmington, NC

It seems an impossible task. Everywhere we turn, Chinese-made products adorn the shelves of our stores. Try searching online for U.S.-made alternatives. Consider gifts of local services people use every day. Most people don’t need more stuff, but they need to be employed and remain employed. Send a message to local and national businesses that carry Chinese made products that you want to buy only U.S. made products. Here’s a list of sites that might help you get started:




Some products have many components that come from multiple places around the world and get assembled in another place. Take for instance, the iPhone4. It is an international product that employees people in the U.S. though it is assembled in China. Does it mean you shouldn’t buy it? It’s up to you. A higher percentage of what you spend on it stays in the U.S. compared to other phones or items. I’m just saying you should stop and think about it during this Christmas gift-buying season.

It won’t be easy but we didn’t fall into this pit overnight. We’ve gradually walked down the steep slope of the pit since the 1970’s. We can walk back up that slope, slowly but surely one Christmas gift at a time.

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