I am not too proud to say I have cried most of today. Before I even got out of bed this morning my phone rang with the news Anthony Bourdain had died from an apparent suicide in France. The tears started at 6:15 AM and haven’t really stopped yet.

I know Tony was a celebrity that I never had the pleasure to meet, although I tried. The timing and location just never seemed to work. Having a meal and conversation with him was top on my bucket list. I always knew what I would cook and I knew what we would talk about. I already had my list of questions ready for him. Maybe someday I will be ready to share those, but not today. His quit wit, salty attitude and general disdain for “the man” just escalated my love for him. I thought we could be the bestest of friends.

But the truth is, I wanted his job. I wanted to be Anthony Bourdain, the girl version. I have been living a great love affair with food and travel and his written and spoken words have always been magic to me. He taught me to love street food. He taught me to be unafraid to order new things at local restaurants. When I did travel, I listened to the locals about where to get the best food. Bourdain convinced me to buy a good and very expensive knife. He schooled me on who really does the best cooking in high-end restaurants. I never knew what a Michelin Star was until Tony came along. He gave me the dream of going to Vietnam, Beirut and Paris, while also showing me a lot of great places in the lower 48 and what to eat when I got there.

I have everything Tony ever put on TV in my video library. I have a lot of favorites, but the Beirut episodes on No Reservations are my favorites as well the the Parts Unknown episode when he returned. If you want to see Bradley Cooper in his early days, watch the short-lived series Kitchen Confidential based on Tony’s book.

I want to say something profound about suicide and it’s prevention, but I’ve got nothing. Suicide has hit me close to home in recent years. I’ve seen the grief, I’ve seen the unanswered questions left behind and I’ve seen how those same people tried to keep going after someone they love was gone. I’ve also fought my own internal demons at times when I thought there was no other answer. But somehow life won, at least for that day.

The world is a sadder place without Anthony Bourdain. When I do travel, the places won’t be the same. When I eat, the food won’t taste the same.

The universal truth I keep replaying over and over in my head is “Be kind, everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

Back at it.

I’ve walked away from this so many times, and then walked back. I have a bad habit of only writing when I’m sad or upset. Well, I’m both sad and upset.

As much as try to stay away from drama, I have some drama that has been following me for more than four years. I should have went to the police a long time ago, but I just signed the formal complaint this past Friday, after talking to the PD for almost a week.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I had private pictures texted to me from an all too familiar number that I have never called one time and that I definitely never sent personal photos too. Please don’t lecture me about this. I know I shouldn’t have sent them to him, no matter how much I trusted him. I have never sent them to anyone else in my life, and now I know why.

But there is so much more to this than the photos. I believed him when he said he was done with her. I believed him when he told me he loved me. I believed him when he told me he felt sorry for her and she needed a job and he needed the help. I believed him when he said he had never given her access to his phone or anything else. I believed him when he said to be patient. I shouldn’t have.

For years she has tracked his phone, recorded our conversations and then tried to blame me for it, with some success. He sat at my mom and dad’s kitchen table and told my mom that the FBI was recording us and a friend was sending the recordings to protect him from me. That was a total made-up lie. The crazy stalker had simply put an app on his phone. The PD told me all about how this works. Even one of her friends told him she was doing it. I thought it would stop after that. But he told me recently that it had not.

I can’t even remember how many times I have changed my phone number in the past four years. I don’t know how many months we went without speaking and he told me old recordings would still pop up. It it legal in Illinois to record video of someone, but illegal to record someone’s voice without their permission. Thanks for the Carmi PD for informing me.

After the pictures started coming to me last week I got really, really mad. I got so mad that it clouded my judgement. I made threats to him that I shouldn’t have. Although everything I posted on Facebook and sent to him was true, I should have just kept them to myself. I made the threats public because I thought if I would hurt him and she knew it, then she would stop, even though I had no plans of ever going thru with them. I got the last picture last Monday, but I’m still actively working with the police to prosecute her.

She has hijacked my life. They both have. I don’t know exactly what’s going on between them, and don’t want to know. It’s not about that. Sure I’m hearbroke, but now I feel violated.

I’m not going to quit until the truth comes out. I need that for my own satisfaction. It may take a week, it may take a month, it may take a year. I don’t care. It will come out.

The quote, “the truth is the truth no matter who believes it,” has kept me going for years, but now it means so much more.


A brand new day.

I haven’t wrote here in a long, long time. It’s not for lack of trying. I have had a lot going on, both good and bad, and a lot I can’t write about. So let’s start with what I can write about. Business has been phenomenal, my personal life has been a roller coaster, there have been epic high and horrible lows and the squad and I have had some pretty great adventures lately.

Right now I am in the best place I have ever been professionally. I’m hanging up my programmer hat and I’m going to create all the time. It was a hard decision to make. I’m walking away from the almost constant travel, I’m walking away from the financial benefits of being a software engineer, but I’m gaining the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want. I’m still in transition mode and will be for at least the next six months, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is what I have worked my entire life for, but it is a change. And change brings apprehension at times.

Flight won.

I’m on a plane right now beside one of my best friends. I have dragged her along because for the first time in my life I am afraid to be alone. I’m afraid the overwhelming sadness sitting in my heart will win. I have always been a loner. I have never had a reason to need anyone. I have always taken care of myself. I’m afraid if I’m alone I will never go home. I have lived out of my suitcase for so long. Being home is foreign to me, but I like the idea.

I have tried to stay at my house at the lake, it’s not home yet. I don’t know that it ever will be without him there. I bought it for him—for us, but if he isn’t there I can’t stay there. It will never be home without him.

So in the meantime, I’m doing everything in my power to stay away from my house. I have drug Jenn and Amberle thru too many airports, hotels and rental cars and then I pushed them away. And then I’ll pop thru Carmi and grab a quick lunch with Dora just to assure her I am still alive and spend some time with my folks. I can’t forget John, who calls every single day without fail just to make sure I am still in the country. I promised him I would take him the next time I decided to travel outside the US. He may get a call soon. The boys will usually find me and they seem to gravitate to the lake. And of course, Lucas has Lizzy in tow when they arrive.

When I am at the lake I have developed an unhealthy obsession with baking. I have always been a pretty accomplished cook, but never a baker. But right now all I can concentrate on in the kitchen is cookies, cakes and pies. I must say, I have made some pretty tasty treats lately. I have absolutely perfected my coconut cream pie. Maybe I am destined to be Suzy Homemaker. I sure wish I could be.


The dream, continued.

It’s cold outside, but not too cold to dream.

I have spent a lot of time away from home the past few months. Things have been crazy. Trying to do the right thing when the right thing isn’t obvious has been exhausting at times. But, I’m not giving up. Life goes on and with all the lows, there have been lots of highs too.

I sold my lot in Gilbertsville for a reasonable profit, I have learned I am stronger than I think, my friends and family are my greatest assets even from afar and I am getting really close to the dream. Although I am spending way too much time in the Metro, I have spent some pretty great days down South. South is my dream that has kept me going for years. And having someone to take with me is part of the dream too.

Living the dream will take hard work, patience and more hard work. This country girl has spent too many years in the big city and I’m ready to put on my work boots and get out of the office. I have spent too many hours dreaming, collecting floor plans, design ideas and techniques and watching too many Holmes on Homes and other HGTV shows—now I’m ready to put it to practical use. I have never been afraid of hard work and although I may be over 40, my body can still handle manual labor.

I have always taken care of myself. I’m not going to say I haven’t had help from time to time from my friends and family, but it’s always just been me and my boys. I know I wasn’t a perfect mother, but they know I love them and I always tried my best. And sometimes I know my best just wasn’t enough.

I am so ready to get back to basics. I want to wake up every morning beside the one I love, make coffee, drink coffee and start my day. I want to live my life with the stereotypical gender roles. This goes against everything I have lived for the past 20+ years, but it’s what I want now. I still want to work and make my own money, but I also want to maintain our home, cook for him and take care of him. I want him to take care of me too. I want him to pump my gas (he doesn’t have to pay, just pump), take out the garbage, be patient with me as I learn to mow with a zero turn, hold my hand and kiss my forehead. I want to cook his favorite meals and sometimes I want him to cook a perfect medium rare steak on the grill for me.

I want him to roll over in the middle of the night and reach for me like I reach for him. I want to fall asleep on his chest as the sound of his snoring sings me to sleep. A big bed with us curled up like napping cats is my definition of perfect.

I can’t wait to hear the water every single day. Weekends at the Lake are just not enough. I want—no, I have to—be there every single day. The search is on for the perfect lake house. I have been looking for years, but now it’s serious. I’m done saying, “some day.” I’m doing it now. My household is already packed up and in storage waiting to be moved, my mortgage is pre-approved and my team is ready to take over the business so I can write and create every day.

The go button has been pushed, let’s make this dream happen.


Dream big or go home.

fullsizerenderI’ve been thinking about home and what and where that is for me. Honestly, I can’t give an acceptable explanation.

As much as my parent’s home in Carmi will always will be home to me, I don’t feel at home there. Of course I feel the unconditional love of my parents every time I walk in their back door, and of course every childhood memory I have originated there. They moved to this home in 1973 and have never lived anywhere else. It is where we all started and where we will probably all end.

I have spent many miles on the road for my career over the past 10 years. I spent too many days away when my boys were teenagers when I shouldn’t have. I hope they have forgiven me by now. I hope that my struggles, and theirs, helped to make them who they are—and who they are is awesome.

Always dreaming.

I have spent more nights in motels than in my own place in the past four years. I have also spent too much time in my friends’ guest rooms and on their couches. My home has always been open to my squad, and they have graciously never turned me away when I have shown up on their doorsteps not wanting to be alone. As much as I crave my solitude, at times I have needed them to feed me, hug my neck or just be a physical presence without saying a word. They all know my life story and they all know my dream.

In the past two months I have been trying harder than usual to get grounded with little success. I have looked at way too many properties and am overwhelmed trying to make a decision. I leased another apartment, but it’s far from being my home.

I know why I can’t think straight. I know exactly why. I have had a dream in my head and heart for way too many years to count. Realistically, I never thought this dream could possibly come true.

Too many days of silence almost had me giving up hope, but I didn’t. I have been patient, which is not even close to a word I would use to describe myself. I told myself every cheesy cliché about patience I could find. I sat on my hands when I probably shouldn’t have. I let things just play out. I intentionally stayed away, stayed quiet and never trolled around. I didn’t know what was going on in his life, it didn’t matter.

There were so many months I was just a few miles away, but drove on by like it was nothing when my heart was pulling my truck to his exit. There were many nights I stood on my balcony looking toward Illinois wondering if he was looking toward the city and thinking about me. I still don’t know if he ever was. With every business decision I made, I tried to imagine what his advise would have been to me.

Now, I’m trying to keep going like nothing is different. I am trying not to alter my schedule, my work load or my mindset. Nothing has changed, not really, not yet. But I’m ready. I have been prepping for this moment, I have been training my team for the day I can walk away. All I need to hear is, “today is the day,” and this girl’s lifestyle changes.

Tomorrow is Monday. I will pack my bag and hit the road, but I still have the same dream; now, it seems like it might come true.




Ready to give up hotel life.

I’m having a hard time getting grounded right now. There are too many variables and too many options. One of the squad has literally been MIA for almost a week and my mental energy has been spent contemplating their whereabouts. I have four different job offers in three different states and the deadline to make a decision is looming. I am no closer today than I was a week ago when the offers started coming in.

I have always been programmed to believe money equals success, but I hate money. And trust me, I understand how the world works—the one with the most money always win. But at what cost? And who really wants to win? What is the prize?

I hate money. The lack of money or having too much money changes people. It turns them into people they are not. It changes their character, sometimes for the good and most times for the bad. I am as guilty as anybody of both offenses.

I am really trying to look at all the pros and cons of each job offer. I am trying to step back, think about the cities, the work load and all the responsibilities involved with each one. I know which one was my knee-jerk choice right off, but all the others have a lot to offer too.

As independent as I have always been, I suck at making major decisions. When I do finally make a choice I will second guess it into oblivion. I have already overthought it to death. As much as I trust the squad and their advise, I have intentionally left them out of this one. I’m 45 years old. I should be able to make this decision on my own. But now I think I should bring them in. They usually see something I do not, and right now that is what I need. I feel like I am missing something and hopefully they will see it. I need their perspective.

Although I have spent much of my professional career traveling and living out of my suitcase, I think I am ready to give that part of my life up. My suitcase has too many miles on it and I miss my own home to come home to.

I have crunched so many numbers trying to figure out the least amount of money I have to make to build my place at the lake, live there and have no debt. I am just not there yet. It is not the right time. Even with the nest egg from selling my lot in Gilbertsville and my meager “pole barn house” savings account, I do not have enough yet to make the jump. But I will, just not today.

So, I have to make a decision about which job to take by the end of the month. Until then, I will keep my suitcase organized, enjoy hotel life and invite the squad for beer and pizza to seek their advise.

Love Print to Frame (Freebie #011)

loveinframeThis is one of my favorite Bible verses. I always have this verse somewhere with me. I have it in my wallet, it’s always in my briefcase and it hangs on my office wall. Although I know fairy tales are not for me, I always believe something amazing is about to happen.

This print is 8″x8″ so it can be printed on a standard printer with standard 8.5″x11″ paper. I always get my frames at Target. This could fit in an 8″x10″ frame, but I always like square. The file is a PDF file for simplicity.

Luggage Tags (Freebie #010)

luggagetags-buttonSometimes finding my bag in the airport baggage claim can be a challenge. I have a generic black Samsonite suitcase (which is awesome) and evidently everybody else on the planet does too. So, I designed a few different options for a tag so I can spot my bag as soon as it pops up.

I print these on Avery business cards and slide them into the tags I bought from Amazon. Links for both are provided below. The tags themselves are a PDF file for simplicity. I suggest opening it in Acrobat instead of your browser. Acrobat gives you more print options. To ensure they print perfectly on the business cards, make sure your print at 100%.


Dear unrequited love.

Dear Unrequited Love,purple_hearts_by_rockleefreak13-d56vlqw

Thank you.

I finally got to the point where I can see that I have to let you go, or I’ll just end up destroying myself.

But even though I feel like I am losing someone I never had, I have to let you know all the things you taught me while I loved you from the distance, eagerly waiting that something would happen, that maybe, someday you might be able to see that I was the one to make you happy. But now, after I literally poured my heart out in front of you, I am now ready to love myself, and put it right back to where it belongs.

Thank you for making me a dreamer. A daydreamer mostly, who smiled in the car ride all alone imagining all of the possible scenarios of how you would realize you loved me too. How we both were going to kiss passionately under the rain, we would have endless conversations, laugh eternally, and be happy.

I was going to be so happy because somehow I rescued you and you saved me too. And finally I was going to feel at peace because I knew I at least had you, not like it has been this whole time feeling like I’m trying to reach the unreachable. How I had to be so careful to not destroy what little we had. But anyway, you made me a wanderer, a soul that could escape at anytime so I could connect with you in some other world.

I am now a better artist. I can write ten times more than what I used to. I can find more ways to try to describe all of the things you made me feel in one minute. How I could be at the top of the world, for some stupid thing you said, and then in the blink of an eye a tear came down through my face because I had to face the truth. And this happened millions of times, I had to deal with the fact that you were never going to see me the way I saw you. It hurt so so bad, the problem was I didn’t want to get used to that idea.

Now I can dance more truthfully to my feelings, I can show passion in my movements, and I can create new stories within music just because of you. Everything I felt for you was so raw and childish maybe, and I am not a good speaker (I hope you know that) so, I found writing my way to love you more, to hate you, to want you, and now, to let you go. You made me better at what I love doing. There has been and always will be a piece of you in everything I do.

You made me a better listener to my inner world, more sensitive to myself, now I feel like everything gets to me, and even more when it has to do with you.

Every time I saw you wanting someone else, I could feel how the walls that kept my lungs together crumbled down and left me breathless. Hoping that you would rescue me, but fighting the pain of knowing that you won’t. I felt really empty, worthless because I had always been there for you and you were never really there for me. But that’s ok.

Because you also taught me that I could save myself, that I didn’t need you at all. How important it actually is to love myself first and know when to walk away. It took me more than two years to understand that but I am finally here, taking care of myself.

Sometimes when people are in love with someone they can’t have, there is something strangely enjoyable in the waiting, in the pain of holding on there is something to enjoy too. Because there is hope, because even if you know it will never happen, there is always the chance that it might. So it keeps you hanging. And you taught me what hope really is, you taught me to fly and detach myself from reality and in the end you taught me how to land to.

At first, every time I had to come back to reality I just crushed against the earth, leaving me wounds that will leave scars forever. But today, I could land softly, gently surrendering to what my eyes saw but my heart didn’t believe, and my mind knew was true.

And finally, you taught me how to treasure moments and remember. Oh boy, I do remember everything you said, did and move when I was with you. You were my true love. And you’ll forever be my true love as much as it hurts, I am happy it was you and no one else. Because I thought you were worthy to my lips, and all what I have to give to you. Maybe I am just happy that I now have a reason to keep you inside of me, in the deep ocean of memories a woman holds forever. Now you are there.

And even if it is tearing me apart to let you go, now I know how to fix myself, how to heal, and I know it won’t be easy, or quick. This phrase truly shows how I feel about letting you go, how it is to me saying goodbye to someone who was mine for a few minutes.

I hope that one day, I’ll find someone who loves me as much as I loved you.