Mocktails & More Twitter Party Alert – #HolidayMocktails WIN

Mocktail

Join us tomorrow night on December 4th at 9pm EST for the #HolidayMocktials Twitter party. We will be discussing entertaining over the holidays, my new book Mocktails & More and hopefully gaining tidbits of inspiration from each other.

Christmas is a stressful time and the #HolidayMocktails Twitter party has arrived just in time for each of us to share our little secrets to relieve the stress. Mocktails

My book Mocktails & More is designed to help with this also, by providing 24 delicious Mocktail recipes, professional photography and tips for hosting it’s a great gift for everyone!

Beginning at just $8.99 it’s reasonably prices as a stocking stuffer, teacher gift or for that special someone on your list. I’ve provided it in pdf and ebook formats as well as print options.

Prizes

Yes of course there are prizes to be won at the party, please RSVP below. You must be in Canada to win.

  • Nokia Lumina 800 from Telus
  • Taxi Guy vouchers
  • Molson swag gear
I am super excited and hope to see you all there!!!

 


Anger Management – My Mom Fail Moment

Today my friend Ellie at One Crafty Mother has raised a challenge which I cannot ignore. In case you haven’t come across Ellie or her blog let me just say she’s inspiring to say the least and when she puts a call out I know it’s going to benefit me to respond.

Here’s the challenge:

I want you to think of a moment, or period in your life (maybe it’s still happening – even better) where you were feeling shame and vulnerability. There is a difference between shame and guilt – just to clarify – shame is feeling badly about who you are, guilt is feeling badly for something you’ve done. Vulnerability is that feeling we have when we’ve placed too much power in the opinions of others (oh, if they only knew how _______ I am) and shame and vulnerability feed off each other in very toxic ways.

Once you’ve identified a time when you have (or are) experiencing shame and vulnerability (almost always accompanied by their evil cousin fear) – I want you to write about it. Tell the truth, every part of it, especially the little nuggets of shame, fear or guilt you’ve mentally edited out because thinking about them makes you feel small.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This summer seems to have been one of change for our 8-year-old, there has been a dynamic shift in her that somehow occurred so swiftly and silently I missed it. She has suddenly become unable to deal with any kind of frustration, she immediately flys into a rage such as I’ve never seen. This has been happening at every impasse for over a month now and until now I thought I had a hold on it….by controlling situations I thought I could avoid her being frustrated and help with her anger management.

Every morning I know I must have things in order; Sydney’s chosen clothing is laid out the night before, lunches are made, school bags are packed up with homework and permission forms are signed and ready to go. Heaven help us all if something creates a hitch in the morning routine, I cannot cope with the fallout of her rage first thing in the morning.

This morning I lazily raise my eyelids halfway to glance at the clock after a horrible night of broken sleep, hoping I have a few more snooze worthy minutes before the alarm would sound. As my gaze settles upon the blue neon digits awareness seeps through my body like a blood chilling anesthetic. Fear instantly overtakes me as my muscles tighten and my brain begins to race, fighting to understand what these numbers mean to me.

8:00am

How is this possible, what the HELL????

As my rate of breathing increases, I raise my achy body from the bed as quickly as I can. My mind fights to ignore the chronic pain I wake with daily as I try to move as quickly as possible down the hall to the girls bedrooms.

Oh Lord please let this be an easy morning, please God just let her wake in a happy mood. I pray as I enter into the unknown which is my lovely, funny, amazingly over-sensitive daughters bedroom.

How could I allow this to happen, I’m a horrible Mother…..I dropped the ball again and slept through the alarm, Brad will be home from work soon and that’s going to set her off….

“Sydney, Syd lovey it’s time to get up” I say gently to her as I gently stroke her messy hair, careful not to rush this waking moment. Her eyelids flutter revealing her beautiful sleep fogged eyes which take a moment to come awake. In the next second I realize her mood as she growls at me and rolls over to face the wall mumbling something about me going away.

Moving along to the next bedroom I call out in my fake, happy Mom voice “Come along ladies, time to get up for school.”

Twenty minutes, I only have twenty minutes to get them ready….my anxiety is building, must get it down…oh I’m not built for this…other Mom’s do it with more than 2 kids, I SUCK! I begin to make myself yawn in an effort to calm myself…

Finding my second daughter already up out of her bed enjoying a HUGE morning stretch I begin to smile, she sees me and I’m greeted with her sunshine and lollipops attitude. Forcing myself to ignore the griping coming from #1’s bedroom, I slow down for a moment to receive a hug and to whisper to her that we’re running late, could she get herself in the bathroom and get moving quickly for mama?

Thankfully she’s in a fine mood and agrees but that still leaves the other one, my first born baby who saddens me with each horrible name she’s yelling at me from under her covers. I take a breath and enter her kingdom of animosity, preparing for the battle which will surely ensue hoping my armor can handle it all today.

“Ok Sydney here’s the deal, it’s after 8 now and we’ve got to get moving. You won’t have time to watch TV this morning. I’m going to make you some raisin toast. Please get up and get dressed.”

“WHATTTTTT oh you’re so MEAN, NO! NO! I’m not going to school then! I want a new family! It’s not FAIR!”

Her rage is instant and palpable, it feels like the walls are shaking. My hands are trembling as I take a huge deep breath and turn down the hall ignoring the urge to either hug her or discipline her. There’s not point trying to do anything now, I don’t have TIME for this!!!

Entering the kitchen I make them a quick breakfast on auto-pilot, paste on a smile for my younger daughter as I serve her while ignoring the racket from the far end of the house. Please let her be getting dressed….she’ll never have time to get her hair done, brush her hair and eat now.

My husband arrives home from a night at work and his loving greeting is interrupted by stomping feet heading into the bathroom. My hand whips into the air as I visibly stop him from saying a word “Let’s just get through this please.” I state in a firm, tense voice above the recriminations coming from the bathroom.

Placing Sydney’s toast on paper towel I give my youngest a kiss and a hug and guide her out the door instructing her and my husband to go ahead, I’ll have Sydney out in a few minutes. Ten minutes left until the bell rings, that gives me 5 minutes to get her into some sort of a good mood and out the door….

Weighing the odds I know I’m fighting an uphill battle but can’t face the defeat I already feel deep in my bones. As she stomps into the room with half brushed hair, wearing the shirt she had on the day before and pants which are going to be much too warm for the forecast my last vestige of patience slips further.

I bite my tongue and step gingerly towards her with that oh so bright smile on my face, hoping to catch a glimpse of the girl I KNOW is in there. The loving, generous child who strokes my hair when I’m sick, the one whose giggles make my soul sing…..hoping with my whole being that she’ll show her face.

She snatches her breakfast from my hand, grabs her backpack and slams the door on her way out, leaving me with parting shots which hit my heart like darts.

Staring at the door I’m breathing deeply, glad to have it finshed…when the internal dialogue begins. The self-deprecating internal chatter which wrecks my facade of capability. And of course I do what every good, caring Mom does at this point…..go get a coffee and google “coping with rage in children”.

This is an example of a not-so pretty moment in my life, unfortunately as you can see I’m still a selfish person…my inner dialogue is often more focused upon life’s demands and my own feelings rather than my child’s turmoil but it’s a work in progress and I realize I’m still learning.

Thank you to Ellie for the challenge, I hope many of my readers and friends will link up!

 

Tales of Bliss~Canadian Family

This past Fall I had the pleasure of attending a conference in Toronto, Blissdom Canada. While there I attended many inspiring and educational sessions which helped me define more clearly where I wanted to take Sober Julie Doing Life.

At one of these sessions the editor of Canadian Family magazine invited us to submit articles using the topic “Finding Your Bliss”.

Canadian Family logo

Of course this fit well with my journey in life and I penned up a piece and submitted it.

Well friends, my article was chosen to be included in their Tales of Bliss Competition!!

My article is called Journeying to Bliss – Julie Elsdon-Height and I’d love for you to go to the Canadian Family website and read it.

If you like it head over to the Voting Page, scroll down and cast a vote for Journeying to Bliss – Julie Elsdon-Height.

Thank you all so much, I’d really appreciate it.

 

Self Improvement, CFM Boots & God

I wrote this a year ago and it’s still one of my favorite posts.

Dancing shoes you say?? I say YES!!!

Don’t all women have a favorite pair of shoes? I certainly did. They changed over time but irrelevant of which pair they were, whether they were the red sexy strappy shoes or my black high heeled boots I just felt FABULOUS in them. I may not have been able to get an instantly flat tummy but my butt certainly got an inch higher ! They were like surface value self-improvement in over-drive.

My girlfriends would come by for pre-girls night out drinks and we would get ready while sipping away. These girls nights generally consisted of the pre-party then onto a bar where we would dance the night away until we felt like we were 20 again. I was always running late, everyone knew that if we had called a cab for 10 they would have to get me moving at 9:50 because I’d be chatting with a bowl of red wine in my hand with no clue of time. Once reminded, I would rush to funk out my hair, get my makeup applied, throw some clothes on and run to the front door.

Where were my boots? Which ones hubby would ask….and in a voice which only he can possibly do to perfection (mocking to say the least)….”yur dancin’ shoes?? On the evenings when the pre-party was short I could usually find my footware myself, but more often than not hubby would produce them from thin air after I searched for what seemed an hour. RELIEF. Now I could be “myself” and dance up a storm.

How is it that I couldn’t dance without the boots? Isn’t that the question of all time? I had a million reasons to get evil when I couldn’t find my footwear of choice: the soles of other shoes stick to the floor, they don’t show off my calves well….on and on.

The truth: SECURITY BLANKET.

Simple.

Whatever worked for me became a security blanket, one which I could hide behind. For me and dancing it was the shoes, at least a bottle of lovely Shiraz and some great friends. Actually I was like that with footwear in general, for important business meetings there were certain shoes or boots exclusively for the occasion. hmmm looks like my need to be a chameleon branches further than I thought.

My point is that during sobriety I’ve often felt like I’ve lost those dancing shoes. I’ve been discovering who I am and re-evaluating my priorities. This isn’t easy AT ALL. I am coming to accept that I’m not always going to be the life of the party, that in fact I’m pretty quiet. I enjoy people and fun but I take life pretty seriously for the most part. I actually having conversations more than I need the spotlight, who knew? I love to see others laugh, to know that someone is happy or enjoying life. Amazing that by becoming humble I am realizing that I’m OK. Pretty spectacular really. Well most days.

God is like putting on a pair of stiletto CFM boots were to a night out.

Weird to put my Lord and creator in a sentence with CFM but hey it’s a good analogy for me. The feeling of security which I used to find through other things is a constant feeling now in my life. I know that life’s difficult, that feeling all these emotions is tough, uncomfortable and icky but that God gave me the tools to get through the bs.

So today I raise my glass of plenty to God and thank him for my Armor of God which feels just as good as any stiletto CFM boots I’ve ever owned!

Ephesians 6:13
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

No Hope of Winning the SuperMom Title

Sitting in my armchair by the fire watching a movie with the family I am feeling quite relaxed, exhausted even. This Christmas season was no different than others, there had been socializing, birthdays and so many wonderful memories.

Although I’ve enjoyed myself I have to admit I’m so ready for the girls to head back to school. I cannot believe how much work it is to keep these girls occupied, didn’t I play by myself by the age of 6 and 8?

Sisters

If only I were a better Mother; that type of Mom I read about who loves to play with their children all day and miraculously cleans her house, labels her pantry and wears matching socks.

Why didn’t I get the labeling gene?

The dark feeling begins to seep over me as I needlessly berate myself for not being SuperMom. My gaze travels around the family room, noticing the empty yoghurt cups, the discarded Lego pieces stuck under the baseboard and scissors lying beside a Barbie with a questionable new hairstyle.

Yup, it’s official I suck.

Squeals of outrage assault my ears mid-thought as my youngest expresses her anger at her sister kicking her in a way that would make Beckham proud. Pulling on my referee shirt, I quell the fight and separate the girls into their own corners on different couches, explaining that normal children can sit on one couch without beating the snot out of each other.

My voice may or may not have been sarcastic…..

Back in my quiet place by the fire I am trying to focus my thoughts on the positive, planning something fun for us to do tomorrow after the girls come back from school.

YES! School is back in…..thank you all that is good in the universe!

I suppose that creative, active, apron-wearing fun Mom wouldn’t think these thoughts but I do.

With the rosy glow of school on the horizon I am feeling like I can cope with as much bickering as they will bring tonight.

Now I feel like SuperMom must.

Feeling fortified once again, I ignore my youngest’s natters with each scene of the movie and my eldest sneaking sips of her Father’s pop when she thinks we’re not looking. My armor is strong, tomorrow there will be silence. Tomorrow I can begin to get back into my routine without feeling like I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

I am Mom, hear me roar!!!

“Hey hun, what are you doing with the girls tomorrow?” Hubby asks innocently.

Oh silly man, it’s a school day. “What do you mean, they’ll be at school.”

Hubby’s facial expression changes into that of someone facing a firing squad as he hesitantly says “Umm they’re off school until the 9th Julie.”

……

……

Nothing, my mind slams shut as I hastily pull out my laptop punching in the school board’s website much too vigorously.

As the page loads my heart race increases, my breathing is controlled and I think I may see white spots firing off in my vision.

Why is this page so bloody slow??!!!???

And there it is, right there on the calendar, January 9th return to school.

Oh for the love of all that is good in the world, somebody help me!

Closing the laptop I slowly rise from my chair.

“Where are you going?” Asks Hubby

With a baleful glance I exit the room to have a bath, finally understanding the slogan my Mum used so often as she walked towards the bathroom.

“Calgon take me away”

Bubble bath

***I wrote this in response to the following prompt to “free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments” on Just Write with Heather***

just write

Crying Out Now

 Today I am honored to have one of my pieces up on Crying Out Now.

Please go on over and experience the inspiration on this unique site which shares stories of women in addiction & recovery.

Crying out Now allows us to tell our truths, and break down the walls of stigma and denial surrounding addiction – One Story at a Time.

Share this safe place with family & friends, you never know who can be helped!

I am a drunk

I am a drunk

Who found God’s grace

I found Love

I am here

I accept you

I don’t care about your religion

I don’t care about your race

I don’t care about your sexuality

I don’t care about your appearance

I don’t care about your income

I don’t care about your IQ

I accept you

When you are down

When you are happy

When you don’t care

When you are seeking

When you question

I accept you

I will wait

I will be honest

I will be forthright

I will be open

I will be here

I accept you

Because I found Love

I found hope

I found peace

I found honesty

I found serenity

I found God

I found Love

When I found out that this World doesn’t revolve around me

I found out this World doesn’t change to suit my desires

I found out this World and the things in it aren’t my
purpose

I found this when I found Love

I opened my eyes and saw

I saw that titles don’t matter

I saw that money doesn’t matter

I saw that the pretty things I adore don’t matter

I saw that I am ENOUGH

I saw Love

And then…..then I saw you.

All of you here on this journey of life with me

I see your hearts

I see your gifts

I see you past your body

I see past your emotions

I see past the things of this World

Through you I see my purpose

And this, this has taught me Love

I’ll forever be grateful

***I wrote this in response to the following prompt to “free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments” on Just Write with Heather***

2 Hours & 13 Minutes

My skin tingled; the hair on the back of my neck stood on end as I sat rigidly upon the ultra-firm foam seat beneath me. For the thousandth time my eyes flitted to the clock….2 hours and 13 minutes had passed since they rolled you passed that wretched yellow taped line on the high gloss floor.

You were so small and brave in the stripped flannel pyjamas they had given you, your hair still pushed back off of your face the way you despise from my loving caresses. As the gurney turned into the operating room you craned your neck to find me, the relief in your eyes evident as you saw me upon that yellow line. I waved and made a heart with my fingers, smiling with my false confidence while my heart broke. I felt like a caged bird; like I was being tortured as I handed over my precious child to the hands of another….out of my control….knowing that I had no choice….having to trust that God would watch over you; praying you would come back to me fully. That you would still be that fascinating, brilliant piece of my heart which I had never believed I deserved.

Turning on that yellow line I did the only thing I could, I breathed in a rhythmic pattern and focused upon my heart beat. The sterile environment around me blurred by the tears which silently flowed from my eyes as I sleep-walked to my waiting cell. Within this vanilla coloured cube I spent 2 hours and 13 minutes of broken time. Time where I fought the impending panic attack, where my breathing and silent prayers kept me from completely shattering.

Can a person be broken for a time in their lives and return to whole again?

For 2 hours and 13 minutes my brain was busy; fighting to stay focused upon my heart beat and my breathing as if they were yours.

As long as I breathed, you breathed. 

As long as my heart beat, your heart was beating.

Staring at the dotted linoleum floor, unmoving and silent I must have been a sight to my fellow inmates. Cheerful chatter wafted past me as thoughts of side effects and surgery risks drifted unwanted into my consciousness. Silently screaming in agony at these dark thoughts I swept passed them with my deep breaths, feeling the warmth of your sticky 7-year-old hand on my face that morning as we cuddled in bed.

For 2 hours and 13 minutes my life stopped, I learned what it truly meant to wait and to give up control.

For 2 hours and 13 minutes I was stuck, couldn’t move or think.

For 2 hours and 13 minutes your heart was in mine.

For 2 hours and 13 minutes I fought crumbling, fought to keep my sanity.

The moment the recovery room door swished open and I heard your anaesthetic laden-gut-wrenching howl for “Mama” my spasmodic muscles leapt to action, the pieces of my brain slammed together and honed in on its target. In one blast of effort I was up off the vinyl chair and through the door past the clipboard laden nurse, my gaze sweeping over empty beds until I sighted your writhing form.

You were surrounded by nurses who were frightened by your night-terror like screams; their attempts to soothe you were futile as your ear-piercing horror filled the room.

20 feet flew beneath my feet as I reached out and touched your forehead, smoothing your hair back softly, telling you “shhh Mama’s here” calmly over your fear. Your brain finally heard me, your body visibly relaxed as I stroked back the monsters of your dreams and you sighed and murmured “Mama”.

And then after 2 hours and 14 I breathed slowly along with you, my hand on your chest feeling your heartbeat and felt the pieces of my soul coming together once again.

***I wrote this in response to the following prompt to “write freely about a moment” on Just Write with Heather***

Blissdom Canada 2011 – Where I found my tagline

The Blissdom Canada 2011 conference was a fantastic event!

It didn’t have the best food I’ve ever tasted, the accommodations didn’t top my list of fav hotels…it wasn’t about that for me.

I went into Blissdom with an open mind and very little expectations. The buzz was created online via Twitter long before the event began. Often in the past when an event has created a huge buzz the actual experience has left me feeling deflated. I offer my Grade 8 graduation as exhibit #1; the much sought after fingerless lace gloves I wore did not actually change my life much as I had hoped.

Earlier this Fall I’d had the opportunity to meet many of the attendees at another conference and I knew that I would enjoy their company. The camaraderie at Blissdom was palpable; I’m sure each of us experienced some nervousness at some point but our need to connect seemed to outweigh our trepidation. Of course I must admit that some people were more eager to meet the “celebs” than most; exhibit #2 the moment when a woman 10 years my senior and a foot shorter than myself physically pushed me out of her way to get to a TV host I was chatting with.

Seriously.

Irrelevant of our difference, both in regards to our blog styles and our personalities, the majority of the attendees enjoyed making new connections and reuniting with existing ones.

Relationships were being made there people!

You know I’m all about relationships.

The opportunities for learning were quite large; with sessions which spanned from “The Business of Doing Business:Working with Brands and PR” to “The Revolution WILL be Tweeted: Using Social Media for Social Good” the speakers represented a diverse group of social media influencers. For me personally this opportunity provided much food for thought. The brands represented were also diverse, from baby gear to drivers education we were given the opportunity to meet and begin the dance of the PR end of blogging.(the swag didn’t suck either.)

My blog has been alive now for just under a year and I had reached the point where I wanted to refine my personal brand. What would SoberJulie be? Would I become a blog with reviews offered constantly, could I imagine selling space on my blog, do I have anything worth promoting? Would my writing be lost if I made efforts to grow? So many questions for one so young in this space.

In the wise words of Stuart Smalley here’s what I learned from my time at Blissdom Canada:

“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”

True enlightenment right there my friends!

Sitting there in the panel sessions I found myself reviewing what I’d like my blog to become if I had the proverbial magic wand. All of my dreams of lying on a beach, typing lazily while a cabana boy brought me drinks aside, here are the results:

I want to spread my message to the WHOLE WIDE WORLD.

PERIOD.

Ok now onto what my message is…. I couldn’t come up with anything witty…..the catchy tagline which every marketing specialist recommends for a brand had eluded me until the moment when I was reflecting on the ride home. It was while I was ignoring my husband’s horrible choice in music that it struck me. There I sat in the passenger seat, perusing the writings of Rumi, glasses perched upon the end of my nose, my pungent cheroot tobacco stuffed pipe resting lazily in the palm of my hand (just ride my picturesque fantasy land moment) when the realization slapped me across the face.

You see, over the weekend at different points I had asked myself what my purpose of attending was. Socializing wasn’t enough to validate me being there. The panels were fantastic but I truly felt there had to be more. The way I live my life is so far from my old style of self-motivated actions that I knew I must be missing something.

The chain of events which led me to attend the conference were as close to miraculous as I’ve seen; a ticket gifted at the last-minute… a sponsor for the room…a babysitter volunteering…a clothing sponsor stepping up…the sequence and actuality of each moment perfectly timed to ensure I would go. God simply must have presented me with the opportunities He sent me there to experience at some point over the previous 3 days and nights.

There I sat blocking out the sound of Hubby’s caraoke, reflecting on each day.I went through the panels and my interactions with others. Excluding the wealth of information from the panels here’s what came to mind:

  • I had a GREAT talk with an amazing woman who encouraged me that my brand is actually clearer than I had thought
  • after a massage in one of the brand’s suites, the masseur enquired about my blog and disclosed she was an alcoholic/Christian who is on a board establishing a sober facility and asked for my card (seriously random because she said she doesn’t usually ask)
  • 4 different occasions where fellow bloggers asked me questions or shared stories regarding their recovering family member
  • conversations with people who are concerned about a family member who is still an active alcoholic or addict
  • many questions from other bloggers on how I handle this sober life being surrounded by alcohol
  • an amazing conversation with a woman who is currently “lost”, offering her the hope I’ve found

And in each of these conversations I recalled saying what I believe may be my tagline, at least for today.

“Inviting others to stand in SERENITY amidst the chaos of this journey we call life.”

 Yup there it is, in all it’s bold, italicized glory…..

Next I have to ask myself how I can best promote my message, how can I get it out there to those who think they’re able to control the world around them while it’s spinning out of control.

Will I do reviews, probably.

Will I accept payment, possibly.

(I really do love to receive quality items and spread the word….a trip to Disney or a sunny beach wouldn’t be denied)

The future is something I’ve learned not to predict (except that I’ll always have to fight not to pout when I don’t win a raffle or silent auction); yesterday is gone and tomorrow is out of my control.

For my purposes I don’t feel the need to perform statistical analysis on a daily basis, agonizing over how to grow my readership. Nor will I compare my growth or lack thereof to other blogs.

My measurement of success is vastly different.

In the past year:

  • I’ve received a total of 3 emails from strangers seeking help, provided them with support via email and phone
  • 2 of those strangers have updated me on their lives, one is 2 months sober and the other is 7 months
  • One friend from high school contacted me directly and asked for help, he now has almost 2 months sober
  • I’ve been asked to guest post on blogs which have a much larger readership than mine about how to deal with stress and loss
  • A youth rehab facility found me via my blog and I speak there regularly
  • A TV show contacted me and I appeared on a show about Over Programmed Moms
  • My sobriety and faith have become stronger in part because of the blogs I read and the relationships I’ve made here in the blogisphere

This list could go on to an annoying length, I think my point is made.

My name is Julie and I am a Christian/Alcoholic/Wife/Mother/Bloggger/Speaker/Person with a disability…..and I hate defining myself by static labels.

Here I am, Sober Julie, it’s been wonderful getting to know everyone out here and thank you to all of you for impacting me on this Journey!!!

BTW: I have been quoting Stuart Smalley for YEARS, he was my favorite Saturday Night Live character and it’s only via linking him on this post that I found out : “The character was a spoof on individuals who are obsessed with twelve-step programs and become addicted to the actual act of going to therapy for addiction”~Wikepedia

HILARIOUS!!!!!

Leaving the Nest

This is a Fiction piece written in response to the prompt on a website I love, The Red Dress Club.
 I continued with a character I introduced in Slaughter on Park Lane.
The prompt was: This week we asked you to write a post beginning with the words, “This was absolutely the last time” and ending with “She was wrong.”

This was absolutely the last time I would hear her melodious voice calling through the narrow hallways of my childhood home. My hands stopped packing in mid-air, my body stilled as I leaned over the suitcase a smile beginning as I heard her sing “oh Macy-my-baby, where are you?”.
Without conscious thought I responded happily, “over-here-Mama-dear”, in a sing song way as I placed the last pile of clothes in the case. Straightening I glanced around my bedroom, one last look to make certain I had all of the mementos I would need to begin my new life. The few photos I had packed were of my parents, this new life wouldn’t include the “friends” who had deemed me an outsider all these years. I could have a new identity; there was no past to be shamed by. With a deep breath I whispered, “A fresh start” as I picked up the suitcase and brought it to the front door.
In the future when that dreaded phone call came, my mind would be pulled back to this moment, to the familiar feeling of love. The sound of my mother’s rich voice singing, her vibrant energy shining out of her beautiful face as I entered the kitchen. Walking to me she opened her arms wide and gathered me into her comforting embrace.
There was something about my mother, Jacqueline DeRose, something too unique and elusive to deny. Men adored her, her natural, sensual charisma was enchanting, drawing them unaware into her web easily. More often than not women avoided her; speaking behind their hands to one another with narrowed gazes as she entered the room. To me this seductive creature was my world. She didn’t just bring me life; she breathed joy into me daily.
Within her ample arms anything was possible; so often her words trickled over my soul, lifting me to soar above the reproach of the community.
We had come this far together as a family in defiance of the judgement which hadn’t weakened at all over the years.  No matter how happy our family was, how generous and friendly my parents were, the community seemed to live by the motto “once a whore always a whore”. They weren’t shy about letting me know their opinions of me either.
I couldn’t count the number of times I’d leaned into my mother’s embrace crying tears over the hateful words, draining myself of the venom they seemed to inject into me. Within those arms I could purge it all, and gently my mother would replace it with her soft love. Each time she would replace the word “bastard” with words that reflected my true self, the self whom both she and my father adored.
This day was no different as I stood taller than my bewitching mother she cupped my face in her hands and stared into my eyes. Smiling she said “Now is your time my baby, you go and show them who Macy-my-baby really is”.
Tears filled my eyes, I looked away from her amber eyes as I began to protest, “But I need you..”
Wiping a tear from my cheek she raised my chin and said “You’re ready my love, you don’t need me for this and your father and I will always be here”.
With a brief hug I went to the front door, retrieved my case and with one last look at her I walked towards where my father was waiting in the car. Waving from the door her voice sang to me “We will always be with you.”
She was wrong.