The Misfits of McAtee Manor

The Misfits of McAtee Manor

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

It's time for the Butterfly to emerge courtesy of Emerging Hopes......

I have never ever been shy about my struggles with my weight.  In junior high, I was a women's size 14 and cannot ever remember being "small".  I was athletic, I played softball and ran track; but I was always "big".  I developed and blossomed very quickly and was always self conscious of my size.  I used humor and being very friendly to draw attention away from the way that I felt about myself.  I wasn't able to wear the cute clothes that my friends were, but I made my own style that I was comfortable with.

As I got older, the weight started to creep up, but not so quickly that I took a huge notice.  I knew that I was overweight, and things started to fit worse, so I moved up a size, then another, and then another. But I was eating the same amounts that I was before and still "felt" good.  I didn't have high blood pressure or diabetes.  I didn't have joint pain.  So I called myself "healthy" fat.

When my then husband walked out on me unexpectedly over 10 years ago, I had to go from being a stay at home mom to a working mom almost overnight.  I started working full time, and with that came the fatigue that such a huge lifestyle change caused.  I thought I was just tired.

My "ah-ha" moments came after I'd been working for a few months.  I went to an amusement park with my kids and couldn't fit on a ride.  That was the first time that had ever happened to me, and I was mortified.  I finally took off the blinders and saw how big I had become.  I went to my doctor to discuss the fatigue and also discovered that I had Obstructive Sleep Apnea.  At that point, I decided to have the surgery that changed my life.

It took a very long time for my eyes to actually see the results of my weight loss.  In my mind, I was still the fat girl.  Every time I looked in the mirror I saw my flaws instead of my successes.  The longer I kept the weight off, the worse I felt because a part of me still saw myself as a failure.  I went from a size 22/24 to a size 12, but didn't feel like I was complete.  I'd lost an incredible amount of weight but the excess skin that accompanied it was so disheartening.  I'd find pants that fit everywhere else but my belly.  I was ashamed to show my upper arms in public because they were so large.  I babysit quite a lot for kids, and they are BRUTALLY honest.  I cannot tell you how many times I've had a child ask me "Why are you so fat?" or "How did you get so fat?"  They don't do it to be mean spirited, but it's so hard to answer that question with a smile on my face.

When I heard of the Emerging Hopes Program I didn't allow myself to get too excited.  I'd already gone through 3 different plastic surgery consults with absolutely no hope of being able to afford the skin removal that I wanted.  I had even researched donating skin to burn victims but unfortunately that's not done.  I filled out the application for the program and didn't hold my breath!  After meeting with Dr. Hunstad and speaking to his amazing office staff, I was just honored that they had brought me in for an interview.  When I got the phone call that I had been selected, I was in the car with two of my closest friends; one of whom had actually written one of the letters of recommendation I needed for the application.  My heart skipped in my chest, and I started sobbing.  Alexis, the surgery scheduler, said that "Sometimes good things just happen to good people" and I finally believed that was true.  In one month, the chrysalis that I have been in for so long will start to open, and thanks to this amazing program I will actually feel like a butterfly.

Link to interview with Dr. Hunstad

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Stand up. Sit down. And listen.

I am a Black woman.  I am a mother.  A sister.  A daughter. A wife.  But in the eyes of the world, the very first thing that I am is Black.  All over the country over the past two days has been news of the killing of Alton Sterling.  Video upon video shared for the world to see.  The thing that struck me the most, was his son.  I know there will be fingers pointed.  His entire life will be torn apart and scrutinized.  Did he have a gun?  Was he on drugs?  Did he have a record?  What did he do to provoke the officers?  I hope that all of the questions surrounding this horrible act will be answered.  One thing is clear however.  There is a 15 year old boy out there who sobbed as if his heart was broken.  He lost his father.  Not only did his father die, his father's last moments were videotaped for the entire world to see.  He saw his father subdued by the police.  He heard the six shots that went into his father's body.  He saw him laying there, in a parking lot, bleeding.  He saw him reach his hand up, and then let it fall.  He saw his father die.  Most of us won't see our parents die in front of us.  Almost none will see their parent die this way.  Whatever the outcome of the investigation, whatever charges are filed or not filed, whatever happens in this horrible situation; a boy lost his father.

I grew up in a predominantly White area of the Midwest.  There were very few Blacks at my school, and I didn't see a large and diverse population until I went to college.  There, I was accused for the first time in my life for not being Black enough.  For acting too "White".  Because I had long hair and spoke proper English.  I didn't know that was something that was solely for a certain race of people.  I have a very diverse family.  I have aunts, uncles, cousins and more that are from all shades of the rainbow.  My children are bi-racial.  And sometimes, especially on days like today, I feel a twinge of guilt about that.  Not that my children are mixed.  To me, they are the most beautiful and amazing things I have ever created.  The guilt I feel is because to the outside world, they are "Other".  You can't look at them and tell that they are Black/White.  I am constantly bombarded with questions as to what ethnicity they are.  They look more Polynesian or Latino than anything else.  My guilt is because to the world, my son doesn't look like a Black man.  My daughter doesn't look like a Black woman.  When they walk into a room, people don't look at them and stereotype them as thugs, criminals, or leeches on society like they do so many others because of their skin color.  They don't have people look at them and think the "N" word about them.  In a sense, they are lucky.  On paper they are Black, but to many in the world that may hurt them because of that, they aren't. 

My brother has a Master's degree.  He is working on his PhD.  He has traveled the world.  He is a published author.  He has taught English in France.  But he is a Black man.  I would be lying if I said I didn't worry about him.  About him walking alone at night.  About him being mistaken for someone else.  About him being in the wrong place at the wrong time. About harm coming to him strictly because of the color of his skin. 

I was raised to respect authority.  But not blind obedience.  I was raised to follow the law.  But not to ignore injustice or question that which I did not understand or that was wrong.  I was raised to trust in people.  But not to trust someone just by virtue of what uniform they may wear.  Even respecting authority and blind obedience can't always save your life.  Not if someone is determined to take it.  I have many friends that wear a badge and carry a gun.  I respect them and know that they can and will protect me.  I cannot, and will not judge all of those who wear the uniform by the actions of a few.  Then what would I be?  I would be no better than those who would judge me just by the color of my skin.  

Don't sit idly by.  It is so very easy to post on social media inflammatory statements, articles, and comments.  To share and re-share, post and re-post the ugliness in the world.  Get out there and DO something.  It starts with One.  One person.  One idea.  One movement.  One change.  This is copied from a post to show ideas on how to be that One:

What you can do right now to combat this in your own community. 

1. Know Your Rights: If there is a law school in your area, they typically hold free community events on everything from gun laws, eviction and housing policy, as well as law enforcement. If not, contact the ACLU who can assist in providing you with this info for free.

2. Register to vote: Elections have consequences. Too many times those most affected sit out of midterm and local elections. Policing policy is not set at the presidential level but at the state and city level. 

3. Serve on a Jury when called upon: What folks fail to understand is that in most locals, the jury pool is picked from those who have registered to vote. When only certain folks vote...only those folks are represented not just in elections, but jury pools.

4. Support your Legal Defense funds: Some of the big names are the ACLU, NAACP and the Urban League. There are also local defense funds specific to your city which assist folks who need legal representation but cannot afford it. These groups also hold elected officials accountable 

5. Contact your local leaders: It's important that your leaders understand that you are there and that you're voting. 

6. Report Any Act of Harassment: I know quite a few folks who have had unfortunate encounters with police yet never reported it. It's important that every incident is reported. Also feel free to report to internal affairs of you feel the harassment is targeted. 

7. Attend Local Police/Community Events (i.e. Coffee with the Constable, HOA meeting when law enforcement are present, etc): It's yet another opportunity for you to be heard

8. Organize / Volunteer: work with others in your community to accomplish items 1-6. You can do this by supporting initiatives to register folks to vote in non-presidential elections, help with childcare for someone who needs to serve on a jury, hold rallies against draconian policing policies, work with school boards (or serve on one) to help end zero-tolerance policies. Bridge and build with other communities such as other people of color, religious minority groups, and the LGBT community.

Don't let what is going on in the world make you think that you can't make a difference.  Reach out and stand together, rather than apart.  Find common ground rather than differences.  Know that there is good in the world, not just evil.  Don't believe everything you read, or hear, or see.  Don't follow blindly.  Make sure you have the facts.  Be educated.  And above all else, be Kind.

Monday, June 6, 2016


A good friend of mine messaged me on Facebook with a link, and then immediately apologized because she didn't want me to feel offended.  I assured her, that on the contrary, I was far from it! She told me that she knew how hard I had worked to lose my weight and how long I'd been able to keep it off; and I looked at the link and decided to apply for the Hunstad Koretsis Emerging Hopes program.

It is no secret to anyone that I had bariatric surgery in 2007.  I was close to 300 pounds, had severely high cholesterol and obstructive sleep apnea.  I would get in my car at work in the Arboretum area of Charlotte and drive home, through South Carolina, and end up in my driveway with absolutely no memory of doing so.  I was that sleep deprived.  The surgery literally saved and changed my life.  I would do it again tomorrow, and I have zero regrets.

However, one of only biggest faults with the bariatric surgery process is the loose skin that is left behind.  No matter how hard you work, or what you do, sometimes that skin won't leave.  I am an independent distributor with It Works Global, and I absolutely love our products; especially our body wraps.  I've used them and will continue to do so as a tool to tighten, tone and firm my body.  I have wrapped my upper arms, my inner thighs, and my stomach and have gotten AMAZING results.  But there is one area on me that no matter what I do, or how hard I try, that makes me cringe every time I look in the mirror.  I feel like I've worked so hard for the past 9 1/2 years to keep the weight off, but I still feel "incomplete" somehow.  Like no matter how much weight I've lost, there are parts of me that still make me feel so sad.

I have probably 2-3 pounds of extra skin on both of my upper arms.  I was terrified to buy a strapless wedding dress because I couldn't bear looking at a beautiful bridal portrait with my huge arms sticking out.  I stand in pictures slightly to the side with my arms behind me as to not draw attention to them.  Every time I go to the doctor I get the look from the nurse and she says that "she has to go get the large cuff".  I can't wear scrub tops anymore because there isn't enough stretch and if I get them to fit my arms, they are way too big anywhere else.  I babysit, a LOT, and kids never ever mean to be cruel, but if I ever wear a short sleeved shirt or something sleeveless they invariably ask "Why are your arms so fat?".  It is an innocent question, but one that stings nonetheless.  One of my "minions" is a boy with special needs that loves the softness of my arms, and he strokes them every time I babysit and hug him.  I don't have the heart to show him that I cringe inside every time he touches me there in an attempt to comfort himself.

So, when the opportunity came to apply for this program, I jumped at the chance.  I asked myself, why not me?  I may not be picked, but I would always wonder "what if", had I not tried.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The first step is the hardest....

I've had a hell of a past year.  No lie.  I left a 10 year stint with Carolinas Healthcare to take a leap of faith with a doctor that I respect and admire to do something I never dreamed of.  I got re-married, something that I could have told you that I would NEVER do again.  My daughter graduated high school and started college.  My husband graduated college.  And my entire immediate family (minus my brother), has now moved to the area.

I also took the leap into Network Marketing.  I know, I know, you think Network Marketing and people immediately associate it with a Pyramid Scheme or Amway.  It's like a dirty word.  Pssssst, I'm in Network Marketing... It's like hey, I drive around a creeper van and try to abduct children.  I know it may not be quite THAT bad, but sometimes people make you feel that way!

I was approached for over a year to join a particular company.  A woman that I highly respect, admire, and genuinely like was persistent but not pushy in her pursuit.  (Like that alliteration?). I kept saying No.  Every time she would see me post on Facebook about how I had no money because I wasn't getting child support; she would message me.  I'd say No.  I'd post about not being able to afford Christmas presents for my kids.  She'd message me.  I'd say No.  Finally, someone COMPLETELY different than her, but in the same business, got me to say Yes.  (How's that for a kick in the pants?)

There are hundreds of Network Marketing companies out there.  People forget that Mary Kay, Tupperware and Avon are ALL Network Marketing entities.  The formula is the same.  You buy in for a set price.  You may or may not be required to purchase a kit to start up.  You may or may not be required to order a minimum monthly amount.  And the end goal is the same.  Find like minded people like you to either want to sell the same products you do, or buy them from you.  Seems pretty simple doesn't it?

When I joined It Works Global as an Independent Distributor I honestly thought; this is going to be a cake walk.  I have a background in healthcare, I have a personal health and wellness story that people can identify with, and people seem to like me.  I didn't, however, respect my business the way I should have, and I didn't work it the way that I could have.  I let my hang ups about being a failure and feeling like  don't want to be a burden on anyone cripple me.  I have never had a job that I didn't excel at.  I'm not used to being told "No". I don't want to be a "bother".  So I sat back and did the minimum amount of work that I had to, all the while watching my peers promote.  Feeling like a failure.  Feeling jealous and resentful and "Why not me".   I want it just as much if not MORE than they do.  They have husbands who work and they don't have to have a full time job just to keep the lights on and food on the table.  They have more time than I do.  They are better than I am.  They are getting more help than I am. I made up my mind to cut my losses and walk away.  I decided, I can't do this.  It's too hard.  But what I had forgotten was the reason I said yes in the first place.  It was because I believed in myself and the products.  I let my fears take over and put out the fire that I had inside me. I looked at my children and I knew that I wanted MORE.  I didn't want to ever have another Christmas where I needed financial help. I wanted to be able to put child support when I got it away for a rainy day, and not need it to put food on the table. I wanted to know that I could support my new husband as I saw him sink lower and lower and question his decision to go back to school because he can't find a job, even with a degree.

So I started out 2016 with one goal in mind.  To find people who need what I have, and want to change their lives too. People who want to work because they are tired of having to struggle. People who have goals and dreams and aspirations. People who believe.  Network Marketing is one of the only jobs in the world where every single person in the company has the ABILITY become a CEO. You can't do that anywhere else. Your education doesn't matter. Your social and economic status doesn't matter. What matters is you. Your heart. Your will.  Your desire. Your dreams.  You will get out of it what you put into it. And if you want it badly enough, there is nothing that you can't do.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The end is the beginning is the end....

Sometimes, you are so filled with words and emotions that you don't know how to express them fully. My daughter is leaving this week for college, and the feelings I have range from pride, to fear, to happiness, to sorrow.

Every parent expects their child to leave the nest someday.  From the first day of kindergarten, when they look back and wave and don't need you to walk them in anymore, to the day they have their first sleepover at a friends house, to the day they drive off alone; these are all things we try to prepare for.

What we can't prepare for, what we can't ever expect, is that the relationship between a parent and a child can fracture so badly that it seems irreparable.  When you have children, your instinct should be to protect them, to nurture them and to guide them.  However, sometimes that just isn't the case.

I have two amazing children.  I love them more than I ever thought it was possible to love another human being.  At the time they were conceived, I loved their father.  I thought we would grow old together.  Watch our children marry.  Be grandparents together.  But life choices and experiences on both of our parts made that impossible.  I don't grieve the loss of my marriage.  I quite honestly should have never married in the first place.  I was 20 years old, missing my Marine boyfriend, and we married for all of the wrong reasons.

What I do grieve is the relationship that my children should have had with their father but they don't.  I grieve for the little girl who thought her daddy hung the stars and the moon.  The little girl who used to ask to go with him everywhere.  Who used to ride on his shoulders and hang out with him at work.  I grieve for the loss of her innocence.  I grieve for the fact that a gift that she should have been able to give to the man she loves at the time of her choosing was taken from her.  I grieve for the walls she's built up to keep people out.   The mistrust of people.  The fact that she has an aversion to being touched unless she's the one initiating it.  I grieve for fact that she's become so jaded in so many ways; forced to grow up well before her time.

I grieve for my son; who idolized his father.  Who would sit and wait for hours for him to come and pick him up; and he would never show.  Who used to refuse to let me take him get his hair cut; because that was the only time he got one on one time with his father. Who had to come to me and ask me questions about the lifestyle choices his father made; and watch him process the fact that his father was unfaithful and will continue to be probably for the rest of his life.

In the beginning, all I wanted to do is rage against my situation.  Beat my fists and cry.  I was so angry I wanted nothing but revenge.  Now, I feel more pity than anything else.  I pity the fact that I have these two amazing children that I have been blessed enough to raise.  I pity the fact that their father missed every parent teacher conference, every performance, every field trip and every birthday for the last 4 years.  I pity the fact that he didn't get to see my beautiful daughter walk across the stage and graduate high school with honors; and that he won't be one of the dads that is dropping off his baby girl to college.

These are all memories that I have that are worth more than money.  They are worth more than anything.  Nobody can ever take those away from me.  And no matter what, I will always know that my children will associate me with home.  No matter how far away they move.  No matter who they marry.  I will always be home.  And for that; I am grateful.  Because the struggles that we faced and the challenges we have overcome have made us stronger than I would have ever imagined.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

50 shades of huh?

Many of my girlfriends (hell, and friend boys) are over the moon about the upcoming film adaptation of the book "50 Shades of Grey".  If you've been under a rock; this series of 3 books  by E L James is about Christian Grey, a young entrepreneur and Anastasia Steele, a college student.  These books came out a few years ago and it seemed that EVERYONE was reading them.  Women, men, old, young, gay, straight..... the world was in "lust" with the two fictional characters.

I remember the first time someone asked me if I read the books.  I didn't really know what the subject matter was, but when I found out, I emphatically said "NO".  Many of my friends were taken aback at how vehement I was about NOT reading these books.  You see, I love romance novels.  The smuttier the better.  I love fiction, and hot steamy scenes and happily ever afters,  So, it might stand to reason that I would love to read the 50 Shades books.  Nope.

I was married for a very tumultuous 13 years.  I married young, and my ex husband was younger. The first 4 years of our marriage we actually only spent 6 months together, as he was in the military. Then I got pregnant with our first child, and our relationship drastically changed.  He wasn't the center of the universe anymore after our daughter was born, and I didn't know that he was so needy that he would turn to other women to fulfill that sense of purpose.  He had his first affair when our daughter was about a year and a half old.  I know so many people that say, "If he cheated, I'd leave in a heartbeat".  That's easier said than done.  I found out about the affair and cried, raged, and bargained.  He seemed contrite and told me that "I needed to make him love me again".  At the time, I didn't realize how wrong he was.  We decided to work on our marriage and he came to me with what he thought we were missing.

Home came the book "Screw the roses, give me the thorns".  A book about BDSM.  I was shocked, but intrigued.  How had I not known he was interested in that?? He also introduced me to BDSM chat rooms on ICQ (remember ICQ??; dang that was a long time ago).

I read the book, explored the lifestyle, and came to the conclusion that it just wasn't for me.  First of all, this predilection of his came out of an extramarital affair that he'd had with some college student. I could never participate in that sort of relationship having had it been tainted in that way.  Second of all, there was so much use of the term Master and Slave.  Being a Black woman, and knowing all of the things that my ancestors fought for, everything in me rebelled at the terms.  I know it's not the same, but the connotation and the way it made me feel, that visceral reaction was the same.  I felt ashamed, oppressed and angry.

Ultimately, our marriage ended and the woman he left me for was a willing partner in this lifestyle. She allowed herself to be "collared", she has a binding contract as a submissive, and she has absolutely no say so whether my ex husband brings other women into their home.  My children have seen her punished for not cooking the right dinner.  Seen her have to stand in the corner.  Seen her sit at his feet and call him "Sir".

I have absolutely no problem with adults that have healthy BDSM relationships.  If you want to paint yourself blue and hang from the ceiling fan in the comfort of your own home, go for it.  But when your relationship is out there with children in the home and it makes them and their friends uncomfortable; that's a problem.  When a young boy that lives in the home sees his mother subjected to that sort of treatment; then thinks it's acceptable to turn around and abuse the only other female in the house younger than he is; it's a problem.

So, no.  I won't be reading 50 Shades of Grey.  I won't judge you if you do, but I am just fine missing out on Christian and Anastasia's trilogy of submission and domination.   I'll stay with my sexy paranormal books by authors like Caris Roane, Gena Showalter, Kresley Cole and JR Ward, and I'll be very content.

Monday, June 23, 2014

An indisputable truth about Black Folk......

I was sitting watching television the other night, and there seemed to be no lack of scary movies on. The Possession, The Last Exorcism, The Last Exorcism part 2, The Haunting of some chick, The Possession of another chick, and so on.  However, I did notice one glaring fact.... Black people are not possessed by demons or the Devil.  So, I had to sit and ask myself...why?

1.  Black folk are not not going to open the door to any possibility that something might come in.  That's just another mouth to feed and who ain't paying rent.  No way no how.  No Ouija boards, seances, holding hands in a circle chanting...nope.  Not happening.

2.  There is NO WAY we are EVER opening a book what looks like this.  Ever.  Ever ever.  If a book has a face on it and it looks like it will eat you?  No.  No translating any weird languages, reading anything that even remotely resembles being written in blood.... nope.  If the book is wrapped in chains and thrown at the bottom of the ocean, there is a reason for it.  If it's buried, it better stay buried.

3.  For those of us who like flea markets, yard sales, swap meets and the Glory that is Goodwill, we will shop until we drop.  But will we buy any sort of creepy looking box?  Or vessel?  Vase? Mirror?  NO.  There might possibly be some sort of evil spirit in said box.  Or bugs.  Or some other sort of creepy crawlie.  No.

4.  If some random voice comes out of your head speaking Latin, or singing children's nursery rhymes, or even worse, cursing someone out whilst your head is spinning around; you will quickly find yourself orphaned.  Like quickly.  Your family will put a For Sale sign in the front yard, turn the keys in to the building supervisor, or whatever else, but your tail will be left behind.  Far behind.  As in, the family reunion will come and go and you not only won't get invited, you won't get a t shirt.

5.  Dolls.  Nuf said.  I mean, do I really need to say anymore?  Barbie and her fast friend Chrissy is one thing.  Creepy dolls?  No.  They might come alive and eat you.  They might contain the souls of a thousand screaming children.  Or something else.  Keep all creepy dolls, puppets, dummies, (Willie Tyler and Lester are the only exception here, and that's because he looked like Carlton Banks), far, far, far, far, far away.  Don't leave me one in your will, try to pawn one off on me, or I will cut you.

6.  And last but certainly not least; 2 words.  Black Church.  Demons don't have time for church services that last all day.  And I mean all day.  Church that starts after breakfast, stops for lunch, and then keeps on going.  No time for that.  Nope.  They would get sick and tired of waiting.  Because you know folks have music.  And gotta eat.  So keep walking Devil.