Thursday, July 30, 2015

Worth revisiting: My own "Dark Places"

This post was originally published one year ago today. The message is important to me, so I am sharing it again.

I apologize if what I'm about to write will make some uncomfortable.  I apologize if what I'm about to write is better left unsaid.

Many people in my life know various versions of the truth to this story, but almost all don't know the whole truth.  That's because I've felt like I should keep it secret.  I've carried guilt, shame, embarrassment, self-doubt, and self-hatred.  I doubt I will even tell the "whole" truth here because I still carry guilt, shame, and embarrassment.  But, I will share some of my story to try to exorcise some demons inside me, to hopefully bring awareness and understanding regarding those of us that carry negative feelings for a significant portion of our lives.

I read the Houston news on a daily basis.  I have a routine - Houston news, USA news, Australian news, World news.  In the state of Texas, the age of consent for sexual relations is 17.  In 2003, Texas passed a law making it illegal for a teacher and student from the same school to have a sexual relationship regardless if the student is 17 or 18 (age of consent).  Since that time, Houston news quite regularly reports stories about an educator that has been arrested and charged with having inappropriate relationships with students.  As is the case with many criminal allegations, especially those of a sexual nature, there is controversy and varying opinions surrounding these cases.

I've always stated that I respect other people's opinions.  I do.  I've been described as opinionated, so I want others to hear me out (when I'm ready to share) and show respect.  You don't have to agree with me; I don't have to agree with you.  Sometimes when people disagree, this allows for a great opportunity to learn, hear another perspective on an issue, and grow.  State your opinion, but always do so in as respectful a manner as possible.  That is my opinion on giving opinions.  Am I making sense?  I do NOT respect other people's opinions or necessarily want to give them an opportunity to share that opinion if the person is being disrespectful.  It does a lot more harm than good (in my humble opinion).

So...that being said... When I read news reports about alleged inappropriate relationships between a teacher and a student, and I read or hear opinions that are calling the student a "slut" or saying they knew better or were asking for it or "it takes two to tango" (and often comments much, much harsher than this, but this is all I can bring myself to type), I can't help but feel anger, frustration, and the ever present guilt, shame, and embarrassment.  Let me tell you why.

I was that 17 year old student.  I did know better.  I was an intelligent student who was involved in many school activities.  I didn't smoke, and I wasn't promiscuous.  I drank alcohol on 3 occasions in high school, and I can honestly say, I don't think I ever saw drugs my entire high school tenure (except ones shown to me by a police officer). My family wasn't perfect; we had some issues, but I was raised in a Christian home with strong values, and I never doubted my parents' love for me.  Most of my friends were "good kids" and many of my friends' parents were very good to me as well.  So, yes, I knew better.  I knew right from wrong.
Me - my Senior year of high school
I can also say I was manipulated.  I was manipulated by a teacher ten years older than me who was respected, attractive, spoke well, and had a Master's Degree.  He groomed me when I was 16 but didn't act on it until I was 17.  He convinced me that my parents were neglecting me.  He promised to take care of me and give me more security and love than I was receiving.  He tried to convince me that my choice of worship was not good enough; that his choice of faith was better for me.  He encouraged me to separate myself from some of my friends, yet keep others that could cover for us.  Yes, I knew better than to get involved with him, but I was still young enough and impressionable enough that his ploys messed with my head, my heart, my emotions, my decision-making skills.  He definitely used his age, experience, and status to manipulate the situation for his favor.  Typing this, I still feel guilt, shame, and embarrassment.

Eventually, I married this man when I was 19; and I was divorced by 21. During that time, I moved to another part of the country to be with him. His control and manipulation of me continued. When my body began to change (as a woman's naturally does during those years), our intimacy level dropped, and he told me my weight gain "repulsed" him. I went from 120 pounds to 133 pounds was the most I weighed when I was with him. Hardly repulsive.

It took many years of hiding from the aftermath of this relationship.  It took many years of trying to numb my pain or avoid my feelings or fake being strong or laugh and joke about the matter.  All these years, I've carried some pretty deep, dark scars from this relationship.  In recent years, I've finally been able to work through the "stuff".  I've been to therapy.  I read books and articles and blogs.  I relate to various people - from victims to addicts - and their stories of hitting dark places and overcoming them.  I work on myself and try to live and grow.  I pray and sometimes meditate and journal (which I should do more frequently).  I have a partner who encourages me to face the dark and painful past and be open, vulnerable, and honest.  (Previously, I've had a partner who laughed at me and called me an "idiot" for getting myself into such a relationship and another that barely believed me and another who said "you were 'that' girl" and never talked about it again...I understood 'that' wasn't a good girl.)

Was I "That" Girl?

I still struggle at times.  For instance, in writing this piece, well, it hasn't been easy.  I've written, deleted, written again, deleted...  I still have a hard time thinking of myself as a victim.  At that time, there was no felonious law in Texas to criminalize his behavior.  If our relationship happened in 2004 or 2011 or today (anytime since the law was passed in 2003), he would be guilty of committing a felony, and I would be a victim.  The guilt, shame, and embarrassment that I still fight to this day doesn't allow me to grasp this and acknowledge it.  I'm still working...............

I am not writing this or sharing this for you to feel sorry for me or to judge me.  I am sharing so we can all realize passing judgment or sharing hurtful opinions can further damage those that are carrying heavy burdens already.  Lift someone up instead of tearing them down.  Be respectful when you share your opinions.  Empathize with others.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


With that said, let me share just a small sample of lessons I've learned from my times of being young and stupid.......

That body of mine that I thought was fat (when I was in my twenties) looked really good, and I should have appreciated it more.  #loveyourself

Credit cards are evil and must be destroyed.  #justsayno #debtisbad

Those emotional demons I hid away for far too many years?  Yeah, they needed to be faced and dealt with.  #therapycanbeyourfriend

Drinking with friends and having a good time is fine.  Drinking to excess and being self-destructive is not fine.  #knowyourlimits

I've experienced heartbreak, and I've caused heartbreak.  I've learned so much and grown so much from those experiences. #lovebites #lovehurts  But, finding a lasting love is possible.  #dontgiveup #dontstopbelievin

I didn't need all of those shoes, clothes, and $200 pair of jeans.  #avoidtemptation #mostofthoseclotheswillendupatthesalvationarmy

Do you have any lessons learned to share?

Linking up this week with #HASHTAGHUMPDAY:

#Hashtaghumpday @ Life with Lolo

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Random thoughts on a random Tuesday

My mind is in one of those places where it's swirling with thoughts and emotions.  I can't seem to focus on getting any cohesive thought to share on this here blog.  So, I'm going to share my randomness.  I'm going to pick a random number - 28 - because today is the 28th.  Well, that's not exactly random since there's a reason for it.  Anyway.  I'll share 28 random thoughts. 

Start: 9:11a.m. Tuesday the 28th of July

1. I'm drinking a double sized full sugar energy drink.  I know this is the LAST thing I should be drinking, but I'm drinking it anyway.

2. Bobbi Kristina...what a tragic story.  An example that you can have money and opportunity, but you also need direction and guidance.

3. I need to go to the bank.

4. I haven't had a manicure in about two months.  Getting my nails done is a treat and a splurge that I've done for myself for 20 years.  I thought I'd save the money, try to grow my own nails, try to paint them myself.  It's not working.  I want someone else to make my nails feel pretty.

5. Today, I felt like starting my day with one of my many Bon Jovi playlists.

6. I got a message from a friend of a friend.  She may be coming to Australia for a visit.  I love playing tour guide in Sydney.  I think this adoptive city of mine is truly fantastic.  Many mention it as a dream destination, but due to distance and cost, that dream doesn't come true for most.  So, I am super excited when anyone in my life comes to visit.

7. I need to go to the dentist.  I miss dental care of my health care coverage.

8. Remember that Bon Jovi playlist I mentioned?  Well, it currently kicked on one of my faves

9. My mom just sent me a message to call her when I can.

Now: 10:28a.m. - I've talked to Mom, I've been to the bank, and I've dealt with a customer.  Back to my random thoughts.

10. If you own a Rolex and you drop it off for a minor repair, I'm not going to put it in front of other repair jobs just because it's a Rolex.  And, if you are a dickhead about that fact, I'm really not going to jump the queue for your work.

11. I like care packages.  I have a few care packages planned.  I need to make them happen.

12. I've read some gut-wrenching books lately, and I started another one yesterday.  I think I need to read a rock bio next.

13. I still have a lot of unpacking to do.  We moved almost two months ago.

14. I like Sunday naps.

15. My cats like to nap with me on Sundays.

16. I am baffled that people are taking the whole Donald Trump for President thing seriously.

17. With all of these allegations circling about Bill Cosby, they've removed airing The Cosby Show from certain television stations.  Allegations circled for years about Michael Jackson, and I don't remember anyone ever pulling MJ music from radio airwaves.  I'm not saying either is right or wrong, or either did or didn't do what they were accused of doing...I'm just saying there seems to be a disparity.

18. Man in the Mirror is my favorite Michael Jackson song.

19. I changed my phone number, but I haven't bothered telling anyone about it.

20. I'm fat.  I hate that "f" word.  I really do.  But, I'm feeling it.  And, I get mad at myself because I've been feeling it for a while and not doing a whole lot about it. 

21. I want tomato soup for lunch.  I should skip the bread roll with it.

22. I received pearl studs for my high school graduation from close family friends.  Every time I put them in my ears, I still think of the Vaughans.

23. I can't smoke (not that I'd want to).  I'm that person that (admittedly) has been handed a cigarette, and I thought I'd try it, and I'd start hacking and coughing.  My body was not made to inhale smoke (thankfully).

24. My guy smokes, and I worry about his health.

25. I'm standing at a counter as I type this, and I'm doing a sort of Axl Rose type slither dance to the music playing.  I'm sure I look awesome.

26. I mentioned before that I'm feeling fat.  Since my weight gain, my boobs have gotten ginormous.  I need new bras, and I need them more frequently.

27. I've "met" several really great people through blogging.  If I had $493 million dollars in the bank (this is a random list, might as well pick a random amount of money), I'd fly those handful of fantastic blogger friends to Sydney for a week of camaraderie and adventure.

28. You know that quote "all who wander are not lost"?  Where did that originate?  Time to google........  And, google says: " 'Not all those who wander are lost', a line from the poem All that is gold does not glitter, written by J. R. R. Tolkien for The Lord of the Rings."  Well, I learn something new everyday.  Am I an idiot for not knowing this already?


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday's Seven Snapshots vol.31

Ferries pulling into Circular Quay; Sydney's public transport system includes trains (above & below ground), buses, ferries, and trams. 

Reading the paper about this amazingly close call this week; the surfer who punched a shark is a multi-world champion from Australia. He was all over the media this week. 

Had a $10 pub meal for dinner this week, and I really liked this wall of beer ads. 

Playing with bling is part of my job description 

Christmas in July Client Showcase called for red lips & sequins

This was a well-deserved dinner after a very long week - peppered beef filets, potatoes, leek creme sauce, and a lager. 

Astro and I reading in bed

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A to Z Travel

From one of the sweetest little bloggers I know, Lindsay

A) Age you went on your first international trip:
I'm pretty sure the first time I ever left the USA was Spring Break when I was 21 to go to Cancun, Mexico.

B) Best foreign beer you’ve had and where:
I've had a lot of foreign beer that I've enjoyed, but I'm not enough of a conniseur to name the beer.  Let's say the most memorable beer I ever had was the complimentary Guinness at the top of the factory in Dublin with one of my bestest girlfriends.  My boyfriend at the time (I give credit where credit was due, he encouraged my love of travel), he was pissed off at me at the time, and I don't even remember why.  He was there, but he didn't have his Guinness. 

C) Cuisine (favorite): 
Mexican, specifically TexMex, but that doesn't really count because I didn't have to travel for it when I lived in two specific meals stand out in my memory: one was having fondue in Switzerland (because cheese is my favorite food group) and the second, I have a Texan girlfriend who is an expat in Italy.  One time when I went to visit, her boss (at the time) and friend took us out to eat.  When the asked if we wanted dessert, we said we were too full.  He exclaimed "We must have dessert!  What I will order is better than sex!" Who could turn down dessert when it is described like that?  The Italian dessert pastry filled with cream and covered with chocolate that was as close to a profiterole as I can explain was indeed memorable!
Puerto Morales, Mexico
D) Destinations–favorite, least favorite, and why?:
Favorite: Interlaken, Switzerland...the scenery, the people, the activities.
Least favorite: I'm pretty sure I have no desire ever to go back to Cancun.  Too Americanized for the Spring Breakers.  It was great at the time I went, but not now.

E) Event you’ve experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:
So many.  I bungee jumped over Lake Stockhorn in Switzerland on the night of the Summer Solstice.  I said "wow" and probably a couple of other choice words as well.

F) Favorite mode of transportation:
I haven't found a mode of travel that I dislike.  Wait, a cruise.  I didn't care for a cruise.  But, I enjoy flying, trains, road-tripping by car.  They all have their place and positive attributes.

G) Greatest feeling while traveling:
The feeling a adventure; the feeling of gratitude to experience other sites, sounds, and cultures; the feeling of being removed from "normal" life.

Checking out the Ligurian Sea in Italy

H) Hottest place you’ve ever traveled to: 
Vegas in August

I) Incredible service you’ve experienced and where?:
Fiji Intercontinental Hotel and Resort - every staff member seems to be genuinely so nice and greets you with a "Bula" everywhere you turn.

J) Journey that took the longest:
Sydney to Dallas - you can read about my survival tips here.

K) Keepsake from your travels:
I get a postcard from every major tourist destination I've been.

L) Let-down sight, where and why?:
Parisians are not always the friendliest to Texans.  I wouldn't say the sights were a let down; they were as amazing as I expected; but I've met nicer folk.

M) Moment where you fell in love with traveling:
When I was in high school, a group of us traveled by bus from Texas to Colorado.  Skiing and snowboarding were top priorities, of course.  I sprained my ankle on the way there.  Couldn't ski.  Sat at the bottom of the mountain watching all my friends go wild in the snow.  But.  I loved the view.  I loved the smell, the scenery, the sounds, the feeling of the sun in the midst of the cold on my face.  I've loved the experience of travel ever since...even when times don't go according to plan.

N) Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:
Intercontinental Fiji

O) Obsession–what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:

P) Passport stamps-how many and from where?:
I'm pretty sure I didn't get all these stamps, but this is where I’ve been that should get a stamp:  Mexico, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Spain, England, Ireland, Australia, Fiji, New Zealand

Q) Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where?:
UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico

Four Corners - Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah

R) Really Frightening: where’s one place you’ve visited where you felt unsafe or uneasy?
Different parts of Mexico can be sketchy, especially border towns.  Even more so since I've last visited. Which is really sad because there are very hard-working people there that rely heavily on tourism.  

S) Splurge-something you have no problem spending money on while traveling:
I guess I'd say an activity.  I love to shop, but I'm not one that spends big money on luxurious items.  I think the most I've spent on one item is spending money on canyoning, bungee jumping, canyon jumping, etc.  I'm game for most outdoor, thrill-seeking activities.

Canyon Jump ~ Interlaken, Switzerland

T) Touristy thing you’ve done:
I like doing all the touristy things.  In almost all the places I've visited, I've been touristy...from bike tours to the Sydney Bridge Climb, guided tour of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel to riding the double decker city bus tours in various cities.  I ain't scared to put on my tourist cap.

U) Unforgettable travel memory:
So, so, so many.  I'm truly grateful for each and every one.  I'd say the time I got to play tour guide & tourist with a best girlfriend who came to visit me in Australia.  She treated me to a trip to the Whitsundays where we ate breakfast with koalas, visited Whitehaven Beach, and did a beginner scuba dive at the Great Barrier well as swam with sharks, sea turtles, and stingrays in an aquarium.

V) Visas-how many and for where?:
I think the only visa I've ever needed was to come to Australia.

W) Wine–best glass while traveling:
I drank a bottle on the beach at night in Cinque Terre, Italy.  That was a pretty awesome experience.

X) eXcellent view and from where?
Lots!  I'll use my own photo when Katy got us a suite at Hamilton Island, Australia, and this was our view (no filter, no edits):

Y) Years spent traveling:
I'm too old to count.

Z) Zealous sports fans and where?:
Internationally, people think of zealous sports fans, they think of soccer.  I've been a traveling zealous sports fan to cheer for the Houston Dynamo at the MLS Cup in Washington D.C., I saw the USA Men's team play a friendly against England in Wembley, I've been to a A.S. Roma match in Rome, a national team friendly with Ireland against Colombia, and toured Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United.
Yes.  That's me getting excited just by pointing at David Beckham's name

Which are your A to Z of traveling? Would love to know!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Literary Ladies Book Challenge Update

I have said before that I'm a little bit of a book challenge junkie. Currently, I am juggling five challenges, and I'm enjoying them all.  It's our first month check-in for the Literary Ladies hosted by Kristen & Kari & Krystal .

Here's what I've read so far:

2. Non US Author - The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion - 2/5 

3. A book that was recommended by a blogger (or instagrammer / you-tuber / goodreads-er) - Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler - When Steph was interviewed in Jana's Interview with a Bookworm series, she recommended this one. - 4/5

6. A book that is or will be a movie (or TV show) - This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper - 4/5 

8. A book with a one word title. - Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto - 4/5

9. A suspenseful book – a mystery, a thriller, a book about revenge! - The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - 4.5/5

10. A book about Summer, with Summer in the title, or in any way related to Summer because this is a Summer challenge! - Summertime by Vanessa Lafaye  (apparently, this has also been released as Under a Dark Summer Sky depending on what part of the world you live) - 5/5 - found this book specifically for this category and loved it!

If you want to see what other Literary Ladies are reading, check out the link-up.

If you don't like all my book posts, carry on.  If you do, what do you think about book challenges?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Seven Facts

 The lovely Priscilla at An Inkling of Panache nominated me to tell you seven facts about myself. I go:

#1 - I'm not really a movie repeater.  There are very few movies that I've seen...let's say...over 10 times.  I definitely have some, but not a lot.  Which takes me to my first fact about me...I can re-watch Tombstone whenever I see that it is on (and I did this Friday night).  I think Val Kilmer's portrayal of Doc Holliday is one of my favorite movie characters ever.

#2 - I wear a lot of leopard print. 

#3 - I was on an organized drill/dance team in junior high, high school, and college. 

#4 - Early 2009, I'd only lived in Sydney for a short time. I spent an entire day walking around the city, watching street performers, and listening to buskers. I saw a busker today in Hyde Park, and it reminded me of that day...which reminded me of this fact: I used to always give street performers and buskers tips.  Why did I stop?  Not sure, but I started that habit again today when I saw this guy.

#5 - The only poem that I can recite is by Robert Frost.  The only reason that I have this poem memorized is due to the fact that I've watched The Outsiders more times than I can count (another one of the few movies that I can watch repeatedly).

**Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
And Eden sank to grief
As dawn goes down today
Nothing gold can stay.
 **I did not use any aids to remember're just going to have to trust me on that...but I have no idea what the correct punctuation should be, so I didn't even try.

#6 - I've never had a cavity.

#7 - Nikki Sixx (of Motley Crue) sucked my finger.  Have I told that fact here on my blog before?  Well, he did, and it's something I will cherish forever.  That blonde is me; the raven-haired guy is Nikki...this was taken before camera phones, so I consider this a real gem that my friend snapped this picture on his disposable camera.

I'd enjoy it if you rattled a quick seven facts about yourself in my comments.  Or take the idea and post your own.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday's Seven Snapshots vol.30

Fantastic sunshine but cool temps for Monday's walk in my hood

Ricky is plotting something, I guarantee it.  I'm sitting on the lounge, he's sitting on the stairs, waiting for a reason to run, leap, jump, or pounce.  He also likes to drop one of his toys from the top of the stairs to the bottom floor...or drag it up and down the stairs. 

I save a lot of my book posts for the Show Us Your Books monthly link-up, but this book was a fantastic find that I finished this week.  I loved it!  
(I think it was released as Under a Dark Summer Sky in the USA)

Picking up my socialized medicine card, and it's such a rare occasion for a government waiting room to have no one waiting that I had to take a picture. 

Cold, rainy, windy days can be pretty miserable (unless you're at home with a blanket, a book, and a fur baby), but my pretty umbrella makes it a little better.

Not my photo.  I stole it.  She won't mind.  But, just to add to the weirdness that July equals winter in Australia (I don't think I will ever truly get used to the opposite seasons), this is a picture of my sister-in-law and niece from this Friday in SNOW!  This was taken 63 km (39 miles) from my house.

Baby Shower on Sunday for the loveliest little pregnant woman in Australia...of course, if it's a gift from me, it's going to come from Texas, because what little Aussie baby boy doesn't need a onesie with pearl snaps and an embroidered bolo tie?

Hope you're enjoying your weekend!

Thursday, July 16, 2015


I don't care who you are or what you believe...  Please click on this LINK and watch this video.  It's only eleven minutes of your life.

Compassion.  Respect.  Empathy.  Who would want to argue with or ridicule those things?  Powerful stuff.

You don't have to understand.  But, you can give respect to another human being.  You can teach your kids to not bully others that are different.  You can be an example to others that it is not okay to ridicule, bully, or make fun of another's differences.  I'm not preaching.  I'm learning and growing myself.  Let's do it together.

Some helpful hotlines if you know anyone struggling: 

For LGBTQI support services in Australia: (website has information for each state and national hotline)

I'm a big believer and supporter in asking for help if you need it.  If neither of the links I've listed above are in your country, please search for what works best. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

They Know Best

From Brianne's at My Life As..., I saw this post and had to steal borrow it. She's given credit and posted links to others that posted it prior to her.  I'm encouraging you to go see Brianne to get those links. I looked at them and found new bloggers to read. I love the way that the land of bloggerville works this way.

Speaking of loving things...

I asked those that know me best to name 3-5 things that I love, obsess over, and/or am addicted to.  Nine of my nearest and dearest (including my parents) replied, and here's what they had to say:

10/9 - something related to FOOD - (How did that happen?  Someone gave 2 answers that were food related.  Thanks, Mom.) - TexMex being the most prevalent answer, specifically Chile Con Queso was named, as well as carbs, bread, cheese fries, and cheese.  Part of me laughs at this, the other part of me cries.  Maybe this is why I'm overweight.  Huh?  You think?  The other reason - notice what doesn't make the list - exercise.

9/9 - something related  to MUSIC - Music, in general, as well as concerts, live music, hair metal, and Bon Jovi were all specifically listed.  All true.

5/9 - READING - Well, yes, I do love a good book.  I found that there are some that I don't do book chat with too often, and they were the ones who didn't say this answer.

I got a whole bunch of other answers too:

3/9 - CATS (specifically, Astro) - Okay, yes, I've sorta kinda turned into a Crazy Cat Lady...but I love my doggie babies too!

2/9 - TRAVEL - There was a guy I knew in college whose family had *a little* money.  He described his mother as a "professional traveler and shopper".  Yes, please.  How do I get that job?

2/9 - SHOES - Could explain why I wrote this post two years ago --> Shoe Collector (go ahead, read it, you know you weren't following me then)

2/9 - AGGIE FOOTBALL - You can take the girl outta Texas, but you can't take the football outta the Texas girl.  Isn't that how the saying goes?

2/9 - DANCE - I don't take classes anymore.  My years on a dance team are long behind me.  I rarely hit the clubs anymore.  But.......give me some good music and some space and chances are I'm gonna shake my groove thang. 

Others that got mentioned once: Compassion (I love this), Costumes (yep, love them too), Make-up (shocked that more people didn't say this), Clothes (again, surprised only one gave this response), Caffeine, Sleep (who doesn't love sleep?)

Can you relate?  Are you obsessed with any of these things too?