Posts Tagged ‘Relationships’

Sit Back & Smoke a Cigar

January 31, 2010

I have been especially sentimental over this last week. Reminiscing….going through old songs on my iPod, photos…… Thinking about what was, what could have been, maybe even what should have been….. A door I thought had closed forever, and probably should be, was re-opened with a mysterious email. Funny how that can take you on a trip down memory lane – some good, some bad.

One place it did lead me was to one of my favorite trips, favorite memories – when Renee and I went to Paris. Nothing but a backpack, a little cash, a Paris guidebook and two open & eager minds to explore the world got on a train and had no idea what was ahead of us. We saw Paris in a way many people never will. The memory that sticks so strongly in my mind was us at the Buddha Bar. It was the first (and only time mind you) I had smoked a Cuban cigar. We had a glass of Cognac to go with it. All dressed up with our cigar and cognac, I felt so sophisticated…cultured…worldly. We were free spirits ready to embark on the city of love and enjoy whatever it had to give us. I didn’t want to let go of that feeling then, and I don’t want to let go of it now. The serenity in just sitting back and enjoying that cigar, without a care in the world of what’s going to happen tomorrow, or if I’ll ever have someone to spend tomorrow with. The bravery to grab him by the hand and go salsa dancing when we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. I miss those times. With all the craziness going on in my life right now, it makes me want to just sit back and smoke a cigar.

For those of you out there that are cigar smokers, please check out my friend’s blog and start following him on facebook and twitter: http://cigarsage.com/
Right now, Cigar Sage has a great giveaway where one lucky winner can get the sampler box from Alec Bradley. So check him out, and become a subscriber. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the lucky winner and we can just sit back  and smoke a cigar.

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Leaving LA

January 24, 2010

It breaks my heart seeing Drew leave LA. I feel like I’m dragging a kid out of the toy store. Drew and I shared a personal moment with him talking on the video about what he was disappointed about. Make no mistake, there was NO disappointment on the activities of the week. His disappointment lies with _______ well, I’ll let you wait and see that one once the documentary is done. I guarantee you, it will bring a tear to your eye and touch a place in your soul. For someone who has such a tough exterior, there is a soft side in there.

As I’m writing this I’m listening to my iPod, Needtobreathe. And the song, “The Heat” comes on, just as magically as the Josh Grobin song came on when I was flying out here…..
Let the drumbeats wash you over
Let the songs come and take you under
Push the life that brought you here, away from you tonight
There’s a place where the pain can’t touch ya
And there’s a fire where the heat won’t burn ya
It’s in the sound of your voice tonight singing in one song

You get a headache and you can take an advil. You break a bone, and the doc may give you a stronger pain pill. That doesn’t even begin to touch the pain Drew lives in. I look over at the goofball and he is dancing in his seat. He can always make me laugh. Change is inevitable, Drew is proof that you can survive it. Families are forever. No matter what you do, no matter what happens. Family is there. Family is love.

I am so thankful to add John and Joe to my family. This week is something I will never forget. And no words I write will ever do this justice. One day Drew, we will find that place where the pain can’t touch you.

Party Like It’s 1959!!

January 22, 2010

WOW!! John and Joe threw Drew the most amazing party last night! He got the chance to feel like a king (as if we weren’t already getting the royal treatment all week!) and visit with many of his old friends and colleagues from his days back in LA before the accident. And true to form from the rest of the week, John and Joe went big! We had a fabulous bar, fabulous food, fabulous hosts and a fabulous time!!

I have not seen that smile leave Drew’s face all week. Out here in LA, he is really in his element. LA is most definitely not made for everyone, but it is made for Drew. I really enjoyed getting a chance to meet his friends, hear old Drew stories and see how genuinely happy everyone is for him. I often talk about how I need to get my battery re-charged, and I think this party did that for Drew. In the depths of the woods of Blythewood, SC, one can often forget or lose sight of the audience that is out in the world cheering you on.

Like so many times this week, I am yet again reminded how very precious our lives are. How quickly life can change with every breathe that you take. How fast the road God sends you down can turn into a different direction. All the while we are strapped in holding on for the ride and praying we get there safely. How one minute you are driving your truck back to LA and next minute you are lying on a frozen road for 16 hours grasping on to your life, so that you can see another breathe.

Be thankful for the amenities and functionalities you have in your life. Be grateful for the people who love and support you. Tell the people you love that you love them, and don’t hold grudges. For it can all be gone and over with so quickly.

Confession Time…..Friday Morning

January 22, 2010

I woke up so tired and sore. I can feel my legs starting to shut down. I can feel I’ve put too much stress on my heart, fluid is backing up in my chest like there is a running facet inside there. And I feel like the most selfish, vain bitch for even feeling this way. I guess maybe by writing it I’m not saying it out loud, as if that makes this any better. I don’t have the right to complain. Drew can’t feel his legs, can’t move his legs. I’m trying so hard to help with moving him in/out of his wheelchair, getting him dressed and I feel like this weakling. As I blow dry my hair I can’t stop my eyes from watering up. I don’t want Drew to see me crying. I’m sitting here frustrated because my legs are tired and my heart is exhausted. And Drew is in a wheelchair.

Just as I am about to hit rock bottom from the guilt of feeling sorry for myself Drew starts laughing. He’s watching some of the video I took last night at his party. That smile lights up my heart. That laugh lets my body know it will be okay, it can make it. Despite the bruises, the aches, the pains – I will be okay. If he can have the strength to survive on an icy road, I can muster up the strength to continue doing this.

The Pursuit of Excellence

January 21, 2010

This has been the theme of our trip – the pursuit of excellence. Drew came up with it and I feel it is rather fitting. Not just for this trip, as we meet with those who are best in the industry and study what they do and how they do it, but fitting for Drew as well. Monday was MLK day, alot of people were posting his quotes. There was one in particular that stuck out for me, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” That is Drew, that is this trip, that is UniquePublications – he took the first step when he couldn’t even see a single staircase out there!

And yesterday just seemed to capture this pursuit. John Shaffner gave us a tour of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. They recently moved into a new building, it was fabulous (to use Joe Stewart’s word!!) to see all of the accomplishments over the years. It’s one thing to sit on my couch and watch a show on the tv, but to see how it comes to life behind the scenes is truly magical. And I’ll be the first one to admit that I was wrong about how easy the life of an actor is. After seeing the run-thru’s and camera blocking for Two & a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, showed me it’s not easy. They work 15 hour days. I have a new found appreciation for the industry.

Then to top off the night we went to the Hall of Fame Awards Show for The Academy. My first awards show!!! I could barely breathe I was so excited!! Amy Poehler was the host, alum from Saturday Night Live. Lorne Michaels and a lot of the cast sat at the table next to us. They were so gracious and took a picture with Drew. I got so tickled, one second I am taking a sip of my drink and turn to talk to the lady sitting next to me. The next second I see this wheelchair go zooming out of the corner of my eye – he was off!! He drove right up to Molly Shannon and started talking! It was classic! Candice Bergen, Charles Lisanby, Don Pardo, Gene Roddenberry, Dick Smothers, Tom Smothers and Bob Stewart were all inducted into the Hall of Fame. Some of those names I know you recognize, some you may not. I will tell you that I did NOT recognize Candice Bergen when she walked up on stage!! Maybe the change in her hair????

Lisanby is three-time Primetime Emmy Award winning director and production designer. One was for a special on Barry Manilow. Lisanby talked about the first time he heard of this invention called a television and said “he knew this was the beginning of something very important.” The Academy said what Lisanby didn’t know then was the importance television would play in his career, or how significant his contributions would be to the world of television. Let that sentence sink in for a minute. Because one day you will hear those same words spoken about Drew Bates!

Don Pardo is a staff announcer for NBC, better known as the announcer for Saturday Night Live!! We all know that voice! The man is 92 years old and still working. That shows a true love and passion for your job. That shows excellence!

Gene Roddenberry is a television writer and producer. I’ll give you a big hint on his claim to fame – “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” For those of you who did not get the hint – Star Trek! In addition to his accomplishments with television, he was a decorated combat pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Continuing the excellence….

Everyone should know the Smothers Brothers. And for those that don’t recognize the name Bob Stewart, he is the genius that created many of the game shows you watched on tv growing up like The Price is Right and $10,000 Pyramid.

What made the night just perfect was sitting at the table with John Shaffner, Chairman and CEO of The Academy and Joe Stewart, Award winning set designer. John and Joe designed the set for Friends, I know we will all remember Monica’s apartment till the day we die!! That’s just one of the many lists of accomplishments they have. And seeing the permanent smile on Drew’s face as we watched the presentations and seeing the various talent that was in the room with us. Drew, this is just the start of your pursuit. I’m so glad I’m going on this journey with you!

Alone

January 20, 2010

I actually wrote this Tuesday night, just didn’t have time to post it….

Drew wanted a little alone time tonight to decompress, so Melissa and I went to the bar for a few drinks. A very harsh reality set in with me. Drew can’t go to sleep until we come back to the room. He can’t just say, “Okay, I’ve had enough for today” and call it an early night. Just about every move he makes depends on someone else. When’s the last time you laid down to take a nap? Remember how good that felt? Well, next time remember that nap is a LUXURY you take for granted everytime you lay your precious little head on that pillow. And what about that night you spent tossing and turning because you couldn’t sleep. You probably woke up the next day complaining about the bad night’s sleep you had. I know I have! The ability to toss and turn in your sleep is another LUXURY you take for granted.

As I’m writing this, Drew calls out for me – Did he take his night medicine? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to take my medicine. But here’s the difference – I forget, I get up out of bed, go to my bathroom and take my medicine. He can’t. Someone has to put the pills in his mouth. I’m not writing this for you to feel sorry for him. Trust me, that is the LAST thing Drew wants. I’m writing this because of the basic functions we have in everyday life that all os us take for granted. And while he is literally busting his ass so that he’s not just another number on disability, working every breathing moment he has to make something out of himself so that people don’t see him as Drew the quad but Drew the brilliant artist, CNN is reporting about what message Michelle Obama’s fashion choices are sending America!! Really?? Are you serious?? Seems like we need to get our priorities straight. Maybe CNN needs some time alone to decompress!!!

Taking the Blinders Off

October 24, 2009

How many times have we listened to friends talk about their relationships and we can see it’s the wrong one or something is just not right, but they play the “ignorance is bliss” card on us? And we’ll say, you need to take those blinders off. Why is it so hard to take those blinders off? Why are we so scared to see what is right there in front of us?

A friend of mine on facebook always does these great inspirational messages. Yesterday morning she posted an awesome one:  Albert Einstein said: “Most people see what is, and never see what can be”. So I ask you, family to uncover those eyes; explore the possibilities and you will be amaze of all the beautiful things around you. Have faith in what God promise you… and walk in it.

I can’t get this message out of my head. People see what is, and never see what can be. I guess sometimes we lose the forrest for the trees. Happiness could be right there in front of you but you’re too afraid to grab a hold of it. The answers to your questions, the possibilities – right in front of your eyes, but we refuse to uncover them. Maybe it’s because we get stuck in a holding pattern of our everyday lives. Or, we don’t believe we deserve better, or that there truly is better out there.

I am just as guilty about having blinders on in my own life. You get comfortable in your everyday routine, you get complacent that “this” is all there is to life. I’m trying to take my blinders off, looking at the bigger picture and take a chance. In doing so I have gotten hurt, but ya know- no regrets. No risk, no reward – right? But if I don’t take the blinders off, then I stay complacent in the life I have – and I know there is more for me out there. Taking the blinders off isn’t just about analyzing the romantic relationships in your life, it’s also about the friendships that may be poisonous, it’s about life opportunities that could be passing you by…..

So, I’m going to try to keep the blinders off in my life. And I hope you will start to do the same.

Wrestling Demons

October 16, 2009

Ok, so most of my fighting matches and blogs have been centered around karate, but this one is going to be a little different. Inside all of us are demons we are constantly battling to be the better person we know we can be. The demons that whisper good-for-nothing temptations in your ears. The demons that just curl themselves up in a suitcase for you to carry as extra baggage all your life until you decide to deal with it, until you decide to wrestle.

The big demon I am wrestling right now is Mr.Sandman. You have infiltrated my dreams long enough to no avail. You gave me hopes and beliefs that were not grounded in anything but mirages. And like a camel walking to water, I ran straight to your mirage with open arms, only to end up grabbing at empty air. Just like the feeling you left in my heart – empty. You sprinkled your magic dust in my mind to dream that the universe would grant me that one more wish, only to wake up with a haunted halo.

“Confront the dark parts of your self and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strengths.” – August Wilson

Everyday when I wake up I have demons to wrestle – will I be able to walk, will I make it through the day without a seizure, will I be able to breathe, will I have extra fluid in my chest from my heart. Will I be strong enough to fight it all off, still keep a smile on my face and keep my focus on where I am going in life. Will I truly have the strength to not give up on my fight. Will I be smart enough to make it to where I need to go. Will I know that I’m not all alone when there’s no one there to hold my hand. Will I wake up alive. Will my heart function okay on its own. Maybe that’s the difference between you and me, Mr.Sandman. I don’t have a choice. These demons wait patiently for me as I sleep and seem to be several cups of coffee ahead of me when I wake up. So ready or not, they attack as soon as I get out of bed. Whereas you can simply pack all of your demons in that luggage you carry around. But battling these demons makes me stronger. Battling these demons makes me a better person.  Battling these demons keeps me alive. And soon enough, these demons will get tired of wrestling with me and will move on to the next soul to haunt. And the fact that I am brave enough to get up and fight them everyday, makes my angels sing even louder and motivates me even more.

So, Mr.Sandman, what’s your excuse? What do you possibly have to hide behind? What could be so terrifying that it is greater than life? You know what your demons are. You know the door is right there to walk through to get your battle started, so what’s holding you back? What are you so scared of? That you might actually become a better person, that you might actually feel happy and more alive than you ever felt before? That you might experience some relief from not carrying around all that baggage? (because I promise you, it’s a hell of a lot lighter load) That maybe it’s time for you to finally grow up? That maybe your two regrets don’t have to be regrets but actually dreams you make come true? You are the only one in charge of your own happiness. So own it!

Here’s one thing I do know, when God sends us down strong paths He gives us strong shoes. I happen to also have a pretty good pair of boxing gloves. But in true martial arts fashion – you have to be good on your feet and on the ground. So I keep my demons guessing all the time on what angle I’ll hit them with. You have to figure out what artillery you need to fight your demons. And as angry as I am that you have crossed over the line to the other side to be my demon versus the sweet something to look forward to in my dreams, I wish you all the best with your fight. And hope you find your peace.

Poker Face

October 15, 2009

Several years ago I tried my hand at poker in Las Vegas. Yeah…. let’s just say I lost some money. Guess that means I’m not that great of a poker player. I think one quality that makes a good poker player is the ability to count cards. To know how the deck is stacked against them, or what cards are left you may have left to play with. To me, this is a very important part of the game. If you can’t, then you could easily get blindsided with a pair of Aces you just can’t compete against. Another quality of a good poker player is having that all stoic poker face. Guess that’s why a lot of professional poker players wear sunglasses. You can read so much in someone’s eyes – so why not keep them hidden from the rest of the world? Right.

Well, if those two qualities make a good poker player, then I think it’s pretty obvious why I suck at this game. While I am great at reading the enemy (or for most times the competition), when it comes to matters of the heart, I can never properly count the deck or even see when the deck was so clearly stacked against me that I had no way of winning straight out of the gate. The passionate nature in me makes it impossible for me to keep expressions off my face. I wear my heart on my sleeve. And even in the darkest pair of Prada sunglasses, you will see the pain, hurt and emptiness resonate brightly through my eyes when I have lost, or am about to lose.

In the book, The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch says, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” How profound that is. I can’t change the fact that I have Multiple Sclerosis. There is no cure for it. But what I can do is change everyday how I play my hand depending on the cards MS wants to deal me. And over the years I feel I have become quite the master at this one. You dealt me a hand that would take away my legs. I called your bluff and got them back only with a pair of crazy eight’s!! Every hand you have dealt me, I have methodically, carefully, yet strategically played my way through to where I held the winning card in the end. (why some of this wisdom didn’t carry over to Las Vegas, I know not….) Since I was winning so much there, you decided to raise the stakes on me and deal me a new hand with a failing heart. And right now we are still playing this particular round of poker….. but I’m feeling pretty confident.

The irony here is that I can count how the deck is stacked against me with MS, and I’m slowly but surely getting there with my heart. But when it comes to love, I am the worst poker player around. The cards are dealt and I didn’t even count to see the critical ones that were left to be played. The cards that would make it impossible for me to win. See, the deck was stacked to where I had no chance of ever winning this particular hand. And since I wear my heart on my sleeve, my opponent was able to read my hand without me ever uttering a word. Strike two!! But being the daring and competive person I am, I raised up the anty – all or nothing! But he drew the Queen of Diamonds, and for this round – that was all he needed to kill my hand. Strike three! Maybe we’ll meet again at the poker table, maybe not. Maybe I’ll entertain another match one day, maybe not. Maybe I’ll stop playing cards all together and just stick with chess…..

What I do know is that while my card game is clearly up on this poker table, I still love to play and will move on to the next interesting gamble I can make here in Vegas. But let me leave the winner of this last hand with one piece of advice, and this comes straight from the Eagles – “Don’t you draw the Queen of Diamonds boy, she’ll beat you if she’s able. You know the Queen of Hearts is always your best bet.” Your Queen of Diamonds may have won out for this ONE hand, but always remember that you can never lose when you bet on the Queen of Hearts. Even being down a hand, in the end, she’s always the winner. Too bad your sunglasses are a little too dark to see that. Maybe that poker face doesn’t help you win just as much as you think.

I Know Sometimes It’s Gonna Rain…

October 14, 2009

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass,
It’s about learning to dance in the rain.

Today I am trying to remember how to dance. God knows it has been pouring like mad here in Atlanta, so there is no shortage of puddles to jump in. But for whatever reason, I can’t seem to remember my moves, or how to even begin. I put my dance shoes on – nothing. Pulled out some of my old costumes – no inspiration. I even put on one of my favorite dance movies – Breakin’ – and nada….

Just as the rain is coming down in gallons outside, the tears just flow like buckets. Normally I can find some cryptic way to write about what I’m feeling or what is going on in my life without just flat out coming out with the words. But tonight the storm is brewing and I can’t remember how to dance. My heart is so heavy right now. I don’t even know where to begin……

How did I get to this point? What was I thinking putting all my eggs in that basket? Why did I take the chance? Who convinced me to believe it could work, or be okay? And why did I believe them??? Was it ever really worth it? When did I stop seeing the writing on the wall? How do I pull my hands out of the fire? Where do I go from here? Why can’t people tell you the truth? How do I explain “that” without it hurting them? Could this have been prevented? Why don’t they understand? What were they thinking…..why, why, why? Can it be saved? Were the consequences not even considered? Will it ever change? What happens next? Where do I find my dance steps? Can I stop the stealth? Are you ever really ready? How do I prepare?Do you think……. Is it possible…… What if……..

I look back at different life experiences and there were times I didn’t know how I would get out of bed the next day. I didn’t think my heart would ever feel again. And I know tomorrow will come, and I will wake up and continue on with my life. I mean, hell, I have survived a lot worse than this. And will continue to do so. But dancing is what makes me smile, dancing is what makes my life exciting. Dancing is what gets me through the day.

The tears will slow. The pain will cease. The sun will rise again, and I will start a new day. And in the rays I will find my step, Lindsey will get her groove back…..

But in the meantime, it’s gonna rain.