Some things are just worth the recovery time

Seriously? Who gets a cold at the end of MAY? Apparently half of Oklahoma City... and this girl. This morning I woke up to a god awful amount of snot and disappointment. I begrudgingly downed a hefty dose of Airborne, Dayquil, and Mucinex, did my Nettipot rinse, and headed off to Whole foods for some lunch.

SURELY a plate full of steamed veggies, and a baked potato with vegan chili would cure whatever the burly dose of drugs didn't. If that doesn't do it, then I'm counting on the extra large size of "Electrolyte Enhanced Water," (which I'm quite sure is just tap water with a fancy label), to do the trick.

So far, nothing has done the trick. FLURGE. This is so not the week I would have chosen for Mr. Mucus to come for a visit.  Tomorrow is jam packed at work, and Saturday is my first full day of wedding shooting.

Eek! That's right, J and I are will be packing up all the video equipment we bought and heading out to Yukon for the day, where we'll be filming Chris and Emily's wedding. This will be our first of 3 weddings have booked this summer. I am so excited about our new adventure (but would be totally lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous).

All I can hope for between now and Saturday is some solid sleep and a mucus miracle. I really shouldn't be complaining about being worn out and sick, I'm sure my lake trip last weekend didn't slow down the onset. But, honestly, I'm not sorry about it. I wouldn't give up a Memorial Day weekend at Lake Eufala for anything.

Saturday of Memorial Day weekend:
Last Year vs. This Year
The Saturday of Memorial Day weekend is in my top 3 favorite days of the year. Seriously. Its the official start of summer and lake season for us. And this chair, in front of that water... One of my happy places. This year we took our dear friend Abbie with us. All the way to the lake we tried to prepare her for the weekend she was about to experience. I don't think words do it justice.

On the drive back home Monday afternoon, Abbie informed us she'll be
going back every chance she gets! :)
I've been going to the same lake house every summer for 6 years now, J's been going much longer. The house belongs to OUR best friend Tommy and his family. (Tom is Justin's best friend from Shawnee, but I get in trouble if I don't claim him too.) His family, the Smith Family, have been incredible friends to us. In fact, last summer when we announced to people we were getting married, the Smith's were second only to our parents when it came to spreading the news.

Their family is so dear to me. Every single one of them. They are doing it right, just about as right as it gets. Ted and Rhonda are so often the people J and I look to when it comes to having a thriving marriage. I can't even tell you how many things we have tried to mirror after them. I have often wondered how their partnership can be so strong after so many years. Who did they look up to? Who was their marriage mentor? This weekend I got a really great glimpse of it.

For the first time in a LONG time Tommy's grandparents, Oma and Papa, came to lake house for the weekend to hang out with all the young bucks. They are 93 and 94 years old, and this year they are celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary. I've never seen two people still so in love after so many years. I even caught a couple of butt smacks exchanged between the two of them! And up until recently they were still going out dancing...every single weekend. They may look old, but they have as much youthful spirit as any one of us young'ens. Saturday morning Papa woke up with a Bloody Mary just like the rest of us, then headed outside in his cowboy boots to help ted cut down tree limbs with a chainsaw. Oma sat in the living room with all of us kids and handed out her fair share of life lessons.

"Hey Amy!" Oma yelled as I was walking away. "Yes Oma?" I replied. "Don't you wait." She said "Wait for what?" I asked. "ANYTHING." She said

If there is anyone in the world I will take advice from, its a wise 93 year old who's happily survived 75 years of marriage. "Don't you wait for anything"...I'll never forget it.

Memorial Day weekend is also home to the annual Beer Olympics. It's not exactly what the name implies. Last year when I won, (that's right, I was the champ), my mom seemed less than impressed when I called to tell her that I HAD WON BEER OLYMPICS. I guess she thought that meant I had chugged the most beer. The fact is you don't have to actually drink any beer during Beer Olympics, (but most people do). Its a 6-8 hour tournament of yard games like Bocce Ball, Bags, Ladder Golf, etc. Last year me and our friend Jen were the first women to ever win the Beer Olympics championship, and this year I had to hand the title over to Tommy and his brother Ken.

Last Year's Beer Olympics Champions

This Year's Beer Olympics Champions

A weekend full of friends we call family, Bloody Mary's for breakfast, loads of sunshine, and Beer Olympics.... Ya, it was worth getting the cold.


Celebrating those lost with the ones you love.

Where does the time go?? It's been two whole weeks since the last momma monday post. Last week's post got skipped- due to the no power or wifi all day during the storms. No worries- this week its back! 

Have I mentioned how hard it is to write a blog post with a tiny baby around? (I actually started and stopped this post 5 times today before I could get it finished. And it’s not all that spectacular.) As we speak my husband is currently holding Em and walking circles around our house to keep her content so I can write (such a good hubby/daddy). She’s a walker…meaning she wants to move and see it all but doesn’t have the ability to actually walk herself yet. Some days this leads to very tired parents. She’s also the only two month old I’ve ever seen that fights sleep as hard as she does. She already doesn’t want to miss a thing. We’re in trouble.

Well, once again this post is not what I had intended to write about this week. I have had a particular post involving my swing, squirrels, and bb guns (intrigued aren’t you?) ready for two weeks now, but every Monday something happens that makes it seem not quite appropriate. It did not make it last Monday because Oklahoma experienced the largest tornado in history and I didn’t feel right posting something that now seems trivial, when so many friends were hurting. Now today as I was getting ready to re-send it, I realized it’s Memorial Day. A day meant to celebrate all of those who have given their lives for our freedom. Again, my topic doesn’t seem to fit. Don’t get me wrong. That post WILL make an appearance next week. Only because this morning there was another “incident.” But today I’m going to leave you with some thoughts that seem a bit more sensitive to the holiday.

Honestly, most memorial days come and go without a single thought from me (I’m just thankful my husband has the day off for a long weekend). I’ve never really known someone who lost their life fighting for our freedom. Yes, I’ve always been incredibly thankful for these brave military men and women and their families, but I’ve never had a personal experience with this.

I’ve never had to worry about sending someone I love overseas, not knowing if they will return. I’ve never had to grieve when they don’t get to come home. But everyday, there are fellow Americans who do this willingly….and they do it for the rest of us.

Say what you want about our country and its flaws (I have plenty of opinions myself) but there is no other place on this planet that allows some of the freedoms we get to experience and we have our military to thank for this.

I got my first real taste of this two years ago when my husband and I took a vacation to Washington D.C. We went over Memorial Day weekend, which made the city incredibly crowded, but we also got to experience some amazing things. Every memorial we went to was filled with mementos and gifts people left behind for someone they love. To see the memorials in person is incredible in and of itself, but to see them covered with the belongings of people who personally knew someone who fought the good fight makes it even more touching.

Korean Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

The day after memorial day we went to Arlington Cemetery. If you have never been, add it to your bucketlist. It’s by far one of the most humbling and peaceful places I have ever been. For miles, all you can see are tombstones of soldiers who have given themselves for our freedom and everywhere you turn there are people paying tribute to someone they love.

Arlington National Cemetery

But my absolute favorite place at the cemetery would be the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Sure I’ve read about this and I’ve watched the ceremonies on T.V. but none of these do it justice. Never in my life have I been anywhere that was filled with so many people and yet so unbelievably quiet. There’s nothing like it. This is what Memorial Day is all about.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Now I’m not one of those people that thinks you should feel guilty about spending the day enjoying your grill, pool, family, and a day off of work. These are the freedoms our military fought to protect. I think the best way to honor what they have done is to enjoy this day, celebrate, and make the most of it. But as you do, maybe say a quick prayer for those families that can’t quite celebrate yet or show your gratitude to someone who has risked it all for you, and most importantly be thankful you live in a place that allows you the freedom to spend today however you wish. I’ll be spending my day with these two. Life doesn’t get much sweeter.


It's the memories of coming together.

I can't count the number of times in my childhood I woke up in the bathtub next to my sister, with every couch cushion and pillow our house could offer, piled on top of us...or how many times we sat in the hallway with our mattress strategically propped up on the wall, hovering over our heads. "Doppler Mom" (as she has become known) was the queen of weather over-preparation. A few months ago, as I was leaving Whole Foods, I noticed they were selling pre-made rubbermaid tubs of "Tornado Survival Kits." I laughed as I looked at them- thinking they really should have consulted my mother because there were several things she could inform them were missing.

Growing up in Duncan, Oklahoma (located in an area known as "Tornado Alley"), Tornadoes are not recognized as a major natural disaster, or an occasional feared phenomenon...it was a season. Tornado Season. A span of time each year when tornadoes, and all the activities included, are just a pastime. From April til early June- sirens, basements, flashlights, mattresses as tents, are just a part of everyday life. 

Eventually, there were things I grew to love about Tornado Season. There were 3 families on our street we were very close to. And one of those families had a storm shelter that, for me, as a child, was what dreams were made of. A few times each season, (on the nights we had time to prepare and weren't stuck in the cold porcelain tub under cotton stuffing), my family and all of our friends would cram into this shelter for a night of game playing and meteorologist critiquing. (Everyone except my claustrophobic father, who would indefinitely be sitting outside on the porch refusing to come down until he could see the 'nader coming down the street). We made a lot of memories in that shelter.

I remember being scared. Mostly because my mother was a ball of panic. But the memory of the fear isn't what sticks with me. Its the memories of coming together. 

As I grew up, I began traveling to other states, making friends in other places. Inevitably, when people found out I was from Oklahoma, some of our first conversations usually went something like- "Are there still teepees there?"-"You people sure are serious about college football!"- and- "Aren't you afraid of the tornadoes??". 

Generally I laughed them off- "We have houses just like you. Of course we are, it's not a joking matter. Its not too scary, grab a cushion and a snack and hop in a closet."

Native Okies have a tendency to become a little 'hum-drum' about tornadoes. Most likely due to our over-panicked mothers and occasionally dramatic weathermen. After all, the majority of the time when clouds rotate and "vortex's" show up on the weather map- nothing happens. We natives are so completely used to it that when the sirens were going off Sunday most of my friends were headed outside to cheer on the paraders at OKC's Pride and I was laying in bed trying to nap, wishing the sirens would be quiet so I could sleep. After all, the tornadoes were 5 miles from me, I was less than worried. I mean its tornado season, this was normal.

But last weekend was anything from normal. Sunday evening to Monday afternoon, monstrous tornadoes ripped apart communities and neighborhoods with a force that is rarely seen. It was horrific, devastating, and heart breaking. It was not the normal. Red Cross, FEMA, and the National Guard rushed in to help as adults and children alike were being pulled from the rubble. Our local newscasters who are so used to reporting on tornadoes and torn up fields, were breaking down in tears on camera.

It has been so interesting to watch the difference in reporting between local news and national news. National broadcasts have been flooded with opinions about what Oklahomans should and shouldn't do, where we should have shelters, where we should build homes. One newscaster even said "Parents shouldn't send their children to school on days there might be a tornado." (My mom informed me of this through a series of irritated text messages concerning the 'stupid national news people'). But really, these people have no idea what they're talking about. Basically that means no one would go to school past february.

I have been so impressed with our local news stations. They're reports have been so heartfelt. As we all watched Lance West break down into tears on the scene in Moore, you couldn't help but feel the connection to the victims. Okies have such an incredible way of connecting in times of distress. It happened after the bombing, it happened after the May 3rd tornado in '99, and it is happening now. Oklahomans are resilient, and no matter how hard we get beat down, nothing can keep us from getting back up. Not even the most powerful tornado in American history.

It only took 24 hours for Red Cross to announce they were no longer taking In Kind donations- they had received more than enough bottled water and other goods. 

I don't know how many interviews I have watched of people who have lost everything and they stand with a smile on their face- grateful to be alive, and ready to help their neighbors dig through piles of what used to be their homes. Time and time again I hear people who have not two pennies to rub together and only the clothes on their body, and yet they are spending hours in the rain helping a friend. We are such a community in this state, and I am so blessed to be a part of it.

"Why would anyone want to live in that state?" the rest of the nation asks...

BECAUSE, when the Today Show and The Red Cross pack up and head out, we Okies will pull together like we always do. And a few years from now we'll all remember being scared, we'll all remember being sad, but thats not what will stick the most. It'll be the memories of coming together.

A teacher finding his student after the tornado

If you are looking for a way to help or would like to donate, please make your first option a local charity. Infant Crisis Services is an incredible local organization, you can be sure donating to them will directly impact lives of infants.


And exhale, its over.

I have completely ignored my space this week. And I gotta say, I really missed it. All week long something would happen and I'd think- I need to write that down!

I never wrote it down.

And now that I have finished up this whirlwind week of 4 final exams, 6 final projects, and a full work schedule, I really can't remember anything. Honestly, I didn't bury my head in the books. I didn't stay up all night studying. In fact, a handful of times J caught me outside digging in the dirt, or working on a new crafts project, and would ask- "Don't you have studying to do?"

The truth is, my brain gave up on me this week. I came to the conclusion that I had given this semester all that I really could. I had invested my brainpower into those classes to the fullest extent, and I had nothing left to give. I mean really, after 16 weeks if I don't know the information by now a few hours of studying wasn't going to help.

So instead, I worked in the front flower bed, I built a patio in the backyard, I de-weeded the entire perimeter of our property. Basically I shut my brain off and played in the dirt. It was perfect. I even spent a couple of hours one afternoon on a puppy date with Indira.

Well, it started out as a puppy date. We wanted to take the kids downtown to the Botanical Gardens dog park. But our plan was interrupted when Kid Cudi (one hot mess of an animal) decided he'd rather try to kill himself. Twice. Seriously the dog has a death wish. This kid leapt from the back of my jeep, over two seats, over Indira's head, and out the passenger window. The window of a MOVING vehicle. A couple more stunts from him and we decided dog time was over.

It was probably for the best, the result of our failed play-date was a carafe of mimosas on the patio of Sauced, and my first sunburn of the season- Huzzah!

This week held so much information- Asolid talk about my future with a professor, an enlightening presentation by a local feminist artist, a lesson in "how to build a patio"... Don't worry, I will cover them all in blogs to come.

But for now, I am going to bed, resigning from this week with a sense of accomplishment. 17 hours of classes while working full time? Check it off the list. Won't be happening again.


New Mommy Monday #1

I'm super excited for this new guest writing segment... After a little prodding, my sister has agreed to take over my blog on Mondays! With everything on her plate, having a brand new little nugget, I was pretty surprised when she took me up on the offer. But I couldn't be more excited for everyone to get a little glimpse into her world. So from here on out, I declare Mondays, "New Mommy Monday." 

Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging Sister, this is now your space to put all your stuff, too. Hope you enjoy it!

Well, let me begin by apologizing.  You see when my sister asked to me to guest post on her blog my initial reaction was to laugh…for several reasons.  The main two  reasons being that 1)  I never once envisioned being a part of anything entitled “Mommy Mondays” and 2) my life is so frazzled and turned upside down right now that I’m lucky if I can put together a coherent sentence or even finish one without being distracted by something else.  Reason #2 is why I am apologizing.  I love reading my sister’s blog.  She has a way with words.  I feel like I might be disappointing a few of her readers with my bumbled thoughts on this new mommy life.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to write…in my journal…where no one else can read/judge it….  My sister however insists that this is a good idea.   She says that other new moms may enjoy it.  So there you go.  If this sucks and Mommy Mondays are a bust, blame it on her. 

Our original plan for this segment of her blog was to start this Monday with thoughts on Mother’s Day, but as Sunday was coming to a close I seriously began to doubt that this Monday’s deadline was going to be met.  I’ve come to the conclusion that babies have this radar that alerts them anytime Mom is trying to accomplish something (i.e. eat, check email, eat, go to the bathroom, sleep, eat, and most especially blog) and immediately wakes them up.  It’s remarkable how Emma can be dead asleep and suddenly wake up the second I sit down.  It’s a gift really, one that I haven’t quite adjusted to yet.  But tonight a Mother’s Day miracle has occurred and my precious baby is asleep at 9:30….9:30!!!!  And so is my husband.  This means I have an hour and a half of peace and quiet and my computer before I have to feed her again.  I should be sleeping while she’s sleeping as many, many, many people have instructed me but sometimes writing in the quiet dark living room with a glass of milk and a giant piece of my mom’s chocolate sheet cake is just as therapeutic. 

As I sit here thinking about my first Mother’s Day, I’m still a little bit in shock.  It sill has not quite registered that I am a mom, that I get to celebrate Mother’s Day for a whole new reason this year.  I feel like I’ve joined some special club, one that I’m not sure I’ve earned my spot in yet.  I have after all only been doing this for 2 months.  But despite my newness, I have gained a whole new appreciation for mothers.  Everyone told me I would understand my own mom better after having a baby of my own and it’s true.  It took me these whole two months to truly realize it, but I never gave moms enough credit.  This mom thing is by far the absolute hardest thing I have EVER done (and I’m a middle school art teacher….try having 150 thirteen year olds in and out of your room all day with paint…).  It’s not just the lack of sleep and endless pooping that makes this difficult.  I expected all of that.  It’s the complete emotional exhaustion of loving someone more than you ever thought possible and the giving of yourself so completely and not even realizing it until you lay down at night that completely caught me by surprise. 

My body and my mind have taken a beating over the last several months and I have found myself doing and saying things I never imagined, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.  I can’t imagine life without her.  After experiencing these things personally, I found myself today feeling so bad for every year I treated Mother’s Day with a last minute/half ass attitude (although I’m sure I’ll be repaid by my own daughter one day) Mom, I want to take this time to personally say I’m sorry for the many gifts of coupon books and candles over the years. You deserve SO much more.  Like a hot bath with a glass of wine in complete silence…or maybe that’s just my wishful thinking right now.  I could go on and on (as I did in my journal earlier) about all of my thoughts on Mother’s Day but I’m going to leave it at this and also leave with a huge thank you to every mom out there.  A genuine thank you from your children that are either too little or too cool or too busy to say it. YOU are incredible.  Our world would not function without you….literally.  I’ll also leave you with a few incredibly cute pics of my own little one that made me a momma this year.  How could it not all be worth it when you see that smile.  

That’s all the thanks I need.  Life is sweet.

On My Mother's Day gift from "Emma," aka the hubs.
A swing for my girl who loves being outside!


And She Understood: Happy Day Momma!

          For everyone who was unable to make it to the show last weekend, this was my story. Today seemed especially appropriate to share it with you. I hope every last one of you is enjoying today. I will be spending the day with my mother, my sister (the new mother), and later I'll be playing in my yard with my own children- the furry ones. Happy Day!

And She Understood
I did not appreciate my mother. Thirteen. She was in my way. All that I really wanted was to be popular and she absolutely did NOT understand.
I wanted to wear a push up bra, a thong, and clothes snug enough to give you a yeast infection. I wanted the boys to notice me, and more importantly, wanted the girls to notice the boys noticing me. Funny how that works isn’t it?

When Christmas came around, I asked for a sewing machine. “How endearing and domestic?!” my mother must’ve thought. It was December 25th, and under that tree was my top of the line Bernina. She was a beaut.
It took less than a week for me to get started on my new wardrobe. That’s right, all of those back to school shirts mom had bought for me over the break were about to go through a transformation.

And so was I.

I was ahead of the game, as far as “blossoming” goes. I had boobs. Good ones. And I thought it was time everyone knew that.
I almost made it to spring break before my mother realized- it was not in fact the darn dryer that was shrinking my clothes, but was me and my top of the line Bernina. My new wardrobe consisted of the DEEPEST of V-necks and SNUGGEST of slim fit tee’s.

OH, The boys noticed. The girls noticed the boys noticing. And my mother noticed, she was in for a treat of a teenager to raise.

Now, everyone says being a new mom is a challenge. Moms with freshly popped out babies get thrown up on, screamed at, and sob-snotted on. (Sob-snotting is what I call the fluids that come out of your face when you are completely and ridiculously upset). 
What my mom didn’t realize, is that she would have to endure this phase of my life more than once. Puking, screaming, and sob-snotting were all too familiar to my teenage years. If you think its tough to put up with a newborn, try it with a menstrual mad-woman who is 15 years old and freakishly taller than you.

When I was two I would run from my mother in the grocery store looking for women in long skirts, with every intention of throwing their skirts up, revealing to all of Homeland their Victoria’s Secret merchandise.
This, too, was accustomed to my teen years. Except it was MY skirt being thrown up, and MY Victoria’s Secret merchandise being revealed. And instead of in the local grocer, it was in the Burger King parking lot. Which just so happened to be the cool kid hangout of my small town.

I’m gonna spare you all the gory, whorey details of the rest of my teenage years. They go along like most women’s tormented youth. Too many boys and bad decisions to count. Too many friends lost, too many gained. Pointless, painful tears cried.
And all along the way, each moment, both dreadful and overjoyed, were ended with a hug from my mother. A mother who could never understand, or so I thought.

The older I got, the less frequent the screaming became, the bigger the problems became, and the closer my mother and I became.
I remember the exact moment we crossed that threshold, the line that was drawn between mother and teenage daughter.
I had so many secrets from those “lost years” (or so I like to call them). I couldn’t forgive myself for them. I had flourished right on out of those horrible mistakes and bad decision-making skills. But I still had the memories, and guilt.

My mother saw right through me. She was visiting me in college, my sophomore year. Nineteen. Somehow, as mothers do, she recognized that I was hurting, from secrets I didn’t want to hide but was too afraid to share.
She put me in the car, drove me to the nearest convenience store. Put the car in the park, and went inside.

My Mother. The conservative, God-fearing, rule-following woman… came out with two Tall-Boy Bud Lights. I was surprised to say the least.
She cracked open the beer and sat it in front of me… “now spill it.” … I thought, ‘What the hell? What do I have to lose?’ and in that moment I let her in. I did. I unleashed. I revealed my broken heart. Broken from both my actions, and those of others.
I had beaten myself down so far and had become so ashamed, that I thought there was no chance of recovery. Nonetheless, I poured out my stories to her, with unprecedented amounts of sob-snotting. Finally, she knew what I came from. She knew who I’d been hiding. She knew me

In that moment everything changed. We were no longer Mom and teenage daughter. Instead, it was two women. We were two women, connected by the strongest bond possible, that of a mother and daughter. I had bared my soul, and my secrets.
 In that moment, she was more than my mother. She was my friend. She loved me.

 And, as I assume she probably always had, she most definitely understood.



That one time when we all took the leap

The next thing I knew, I was stuck behind a tall black iron gate, trying desperately to climb to the top. I was shouting, oh boy was I shouting. On the other side of the gate, a woman stared at me, shouting back- "YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT!" That's all she would say. Over and over, she said it again and again. There was a man behind me pulling me down to the ground by the leg of my pants. 

Still, I continued to climb the iron gate, shaking the man off of my leg, I continued to shout desperate ramblings from the top of my lungs. What I was saying? I'm not sure. What height I was trying to reach? Again, its unclear. But one thing I know, I was determined. 

I was almost to the top of the gate, ready to make the leap over, when the woman sternly yelled one last time- "CAN YOU NOT HEAR ME? I SAID, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT!"

"BUT I HAVE SO MUCH TO SAY!" I replied with all the determination I could muster, and took the leap. 

....And then I woke up.

Odd dreams are nothing new for this girl. They happen almost every night for me. So, Sunday morning when I woke from this one I shook it off, like all the others. Honestly, there was so much more on my mind. The day had finally come. It was the inaugural show of Listen To Your Mother in OKC.

All I really remember from Sunday morning are the feelings. I know that I woke up a flustered mess, full of doubt and fear.

Me: "Am I really going to do this?"
Amy: "Of course you are, its going to be great!"
Me: "How do you know that? Everyone says that, no one can know for sure!"
Amy: "Would you just calm down? Misti and Heather have told you over and over, this is going to be a life-altering afternoon, just embrace it ok?"
Me: "Amy, in case you haven't noticed, you are in the middle of a conversation with yourself...again, I think that's a pretty solid piece of evidence that you are not, in fact, prepared for today."
Amy: "I never claimed to be emotionally prepared for today, but I am ready to do this, because, well I have to be."

This conversation, and ones like it, continued through most of my morning. Justin was out running errands, getting us ready for the day. So here I was, stuck at home arguing with myself about my level of preparedness.

FINALLY, it was time to head to the theater. I couldn't believe how excited I was to see my cast-mates! It really is crazy to me now, that only several weeks ago most of us were strangers. I COULD NOT wait to see them, hug them, freak out with them.

We met in the green room, where we snacked, primped, gave gifts, did yoga (thanks to Suzanne), and just loved on each other. We did our run through, checked out the stage setup, and all was set to go. Now was time to hangout and wait.

A group of us made our way onto the patio to chill out and get some fresh air. As I turned to look behind me, there it was. The tall, black iron gate. Staring at me. The gate opened up to a walkway, the one that would soon lead our entire cast to the backstage door. I immediately remembered my dream. And this gate, well it was identical.

I stood looking at it, and realized, my dream had not been nonsense at all. The iron gate represented all of the obstacles between me and getting on that stage, (the doubts, fears, stresses). And here it was, right in front of me, it was the only thing between me and the route to my podium.

In my head, I pictured myself climbing over the gate instead of going through it, and jumping off.

As we walked on to the stage, the crowd welcomed us with huge applause. We all looked around at each other as we were taking our seats. Some already had tears in their eyes (*ahem, me), we all had smiles, and the looks in our eyes said it all. We were ready to jump off.

I sat while several of my new friends shared their beautiful stories. When Misti said my name, I grabbed my hankie, walked to the podium, and took a deep breath. I kept myself from yelling it, but what I heard in my head was...

"I have so much to say."