Category Archives: Life

We Turn Skeletons Into Goddesses

“We turn skeletons into goddesses and look to them as if they might teach us how not to need.” ~ Marya Hornbacher, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia ~

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The young girl in this grainy image from the past is me. It pains me to look at her/me because I know she is hiding a secret. She’s hiding more than one secret. She’s standing behind this bright red beach float to hide. To hide her secrets – (1) that she thinks she is grossly fat; and (2) she has an eating disorder. She has anorexia and this is not the thinnest she will ever be.

I was officially diagnosed about four years after this picture was taken. Back then I don’t think eating disorders were understood the way they are today. My weight dropped below 100 pounds. My therapist helped me to see that eating disorders can be about control.

I am the oldest child in a family of three girls. My baby sister is a special needs individual and has been all her life. It was sad to see the sorrow of two parents who love their girls the way my parents loved their girls. I know it had to be hard to realize their baby would not have the type of life their oldest two would. It was sad as a sister to see my baby sister have some of the struggles she’s had. They loved us all and taught us we were valuable.

I’m also a perfectionist and OCD. And, I married poorly the first time around. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say he made Casper Milktoast look like the Man of Steel. So, a naive and somewhat innocent girl was forced into becoming a different person. Well, maybe and maybe it just made me stronger.

What it did do is make me never feel like I was enough.

I bet many of you understand what I’m saying…

So, of course, I became a person in which control had great meaning. I’m not talking the kind of control like mad-scientist-I’m-going-to-rule-the-world-control. I’m talking the kind of control I can have concerning my body and the world around me. Like I can count every calorie, every bite that goes into my mouth. I can choose not to eat for days and days. I can exercise all I want to – like 30 miles on my stationary bike and then go to the track and walk.

And, never, ever be out of control. Never. I have an aversion and fear of becoming addicted to anything. I’ve never been drunk and I am probably the last person on earth who has never – no, never, tried pot, weed, hashish or whatever you want to call it in any form. There, I said it.

Why am I telling you this now? Because I read a story today about a beautiful 18 year old girl named Brandy Vela who committed suicide in front of her parents and grandparents. Why? Because she was being mercilessly bullied by kids at her school who said she was fat.

God in heaven what kind of animals are we raising?

When we have kids driving an 18 year old child to suicide, we have more wrong in our society and more to worry about than BMI. It is that vapid, shallow mentality in our core societal beliefs that is turning us into gladiatorial animals as children.

And, what do you do with children who commit such vile acts? Right now, a Cersei-like  Game of Thrones Walk of Shame seems too good for these little creeps. Shame! Shame! Shame!

It has to stop.

We have to stop idolizing women who are size 0 as if this is some paragon of womanhood. We have to stop allowing momagers (mom/managers) from hawking their daughters like flesh and meat in the public market so they can become filthy rich off of our money. If we allow the selling of our daughters like that, how can we criticize other cultures who violate their daughters and women? We have to stop starving our children and sanctioning it via Federal government programs like lunch programs that leave our kids starving throughout the day.

Am I promoting poor health? Certainly not. Just common sense.

You see when I was struggling with my eating disorder, my best friend at the time weighed more than I did. Considerable more. But, she was far healthier. And, I never saw her as “less than”. She was a talented, wonderful, creative friend who became an oncologist nurse.

It is years later now. I am a terribly sick person – disabled. I’ve battled non-smoking lung cancer twice. I’d never lived with a smoker nor is there a history of it in my family. I have an aneurysm in my heart, autoimmune disorders, fibromyalgia, arthritis, hypothyroidism and other illnesses too many to number. Some of these cluster in my family – like the autoimmune disorders. But, I believe I did irreparable damage to my body and my health by starving myself with my eating disorder. I think I destroyed my metabolism. Just to try and be a skeletal goddess.

I recovered somewhat from my eating disorder and my weight “normalized”. I was always thin. But, as my health continued to fail I began to gain weight. My poor health, the medications and restrictions caused the weight gain – not the other way around. But, you see when people see me they don’t know that and they assume my poor health is due to my weight. Well, you know what they say about assuming. The one great thing about me? My blood sugar. That’s because I do know how to eat healthy.

I do get some bullying now because of my weight – societal bullying. I am not going to let that fall on me and accept it as my burden to carry.

There are some reasons. First, almost 13 years ago I remarried my Tall & Handsome who lets me know every day he loves me and I am beautiful. He lets me know I am enough – not only for him but also for the whole wide world. I am so glad I never gave up.

Take that bullies…

And, I refuse to let people who don’t know me define me. You do not walk in my shoes, you do not know my journey and God forbid you ever, ever have to know my battles.

To the young girls out there like the beautiful Brandy Vela, I say this to you. Prove your tormentors wrong. Sweet, beautiful child, you are so above them. This too will pass and one day you will realize your value and life will be worth your battles. I promise.

Your tormentors are skeletons – hallowed out shells. And, they try to turn other skeletons into goddess. Misery loves company.

But, guess what?  You my child are what we love, want, and need. You are our heart.

Stay with us.

Please.

© 2016 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Anorexia, Brandy Vela, Bullying, cancer, Child Welfare, Children, Disability, Eating Disorders, Family, Health, Life, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Women's health

Memories Are the Key Not to the Past, but to the Future

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The Hicks Sisters ca 1983

“Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom ~

It had been a glorious, beautiful, brisk autumn day. I stood and breathed in a stunning panoramic view as I watched the sun lower into a captivating sunset. Faster than I realized, dusk took over, and then twilight swiftly took hold as I watched evening begin to dance alive in the streets below in Manhattan.

It was a wonderful magic show – partly Divinely created and partly man made. It was etched into my memory for the rest of my life.

I was standing in the observation deck of the World Trade Center.

Little did I know 18 years later the very spot I was standing on would topple to the ground in rubble and dust and become part of Ground Zero. My magical space would be destroyed by Islamic terrorists filled with hate, determined to destroy my country and thousands of innocent people.

I was a young lass on that magical day in 1983, the mother of a toddler, full of hope for a bright future. I look at pictures of my sister and me taken during that visit and I get chill bumps because I see us and I want to shout, “Look long and hard. Burn these memories into your mind because you will lose so much in the future!”

How could I ever imagine the terror that lay ahead for me personally and the terror that laid ahead for my country? How could I have ever imagined something like 9/11 happening in my country?

But, it did. And, it happened in a year that was one of personal turmoil for me. There were things that happened to me I never thought I would experience in my world – vows broken, trusts broken, violence committed. And, then in the midst of all that – September 11, 2001 happened.

I had just returned home the day before from a trip to Florida with a friend who had gone down to see her parents. On the trip I’d had a health crisis and spent time in the ER.

So, I was still feeling frail and in recovery mode on that September morning when I got a call that said, “Turn on your TV!”

As we speculated – was this an accident or an attack – the second plane plowed into the second Trade Tower. That pretty much settled it – we were under attack.

From that point on, I was glued in place in front of the TV just to watch the unfolding events. Since I had lived in New York for about a year, I knew how many people lived and worked in that area of the city and the numbers were massive. Small city-size massive. We could be looking at unbelievably high death tolls. I began to cry and pray.

Then, one of the most horrific things I’d ever seen in my life happened – one of the Towers began to crumble, to accordion down on itself. It was falling like a stick of hot butter in a microwave.

How could this be happening?!

I desperately wanted the other Tower to be saved – but in my heart I knew it more or less faced the same fate. And, it did. It fell, too, leaving a trail of cascading destruction and death.

And, then the aftermath began…mountains size heaps of debris, personal locators of first responders trilling constantly indicating a man down here…and here…and there…and over there…and here… It was a new level of hell.

It took this country a while to recover from 9/11 just like it took me a while to recover from the personal cataclysm going on in my life at the time.

But, recover I did. I did by beginning to move on. I married the man who should have always been my heart mate. I grew stronger inside and stronger mentally regardless of what my disabled body tried to tell me.

Every year when 9/11 comes around I remember. Some years are worse than others. This year was bad. My PTSD kicks in many years. Every year I have a man that stands by me with unyielding compassion and understanding.

I have a very growing concern that Americans are growing away from 9/11. They are forgetting 9/11 – the cause, effect and aftermath and how we were one Family after the attack.

Unlike the generation before who “Remembered Pearl Harbor!”, it’s deemed not very politically correct to “Remember 9/11” any more. Patriotism is almost view as “deplorable”. Some of our leaders like to play political footsies with the very people who financed the terrorism against us and are getting wealthy themselves from these relationships.

This is very unfortunate because history and the past are our teachers. If we forget our past, many times we are destined to repeat the past.

Corrie Ten Boom and her family were Gentile Dutch living in Nazi occupied Holland during WWII. The Ten Boom family saw what the Nazis were doing to the Jews in Holland and they made a decision to make a difference. They began hiding Jews in their home. Eventually the Ten Boom family was discovered and the Nazis rounded them up and sent them to concentration camps. Corrie lost family members in these camps.

After the war, Corrie understood the importance of putting the past into perspective. No, we don’t live in the past, but as Corrie said, “Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.”

We must take the lessons of 9/11 and learn from them – for the sake of the future and so the death of the thousands lost that September day are not in vain.

© 2016 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 9/11, Anniversaries, History, Islamic Terrorist, Life, Memories, New York, New York City, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, September 11, USA, World Trade Towers

Out Damn’d Spot!

“Out, damn’d spot! Out, I say!”  ~ Lady Macbeth, Act 5, Shakespeare ~

Feb 10 2014 copy ae edit

Look at this face! Could there be many things more adorable than this?! Innocence and sweetness oozing from those little dark windows into her soul.

Well, let me tell you something, to paraphrase Bette Davis, “Fasten your seatbelt, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!”

I have written about the journey Tall & Handsome and I began when we rescued this little pup back in September 2012.

I am totally enamored with Miniature Schnauzers and one day we had dropped by Pet Smart to pick up some pet supplies. A local pet shelter was at Pet Smart facilitating an adoption day. I saw a forlorn and quiet BabyGirl (the name she took to and adapted as her own after she moved in with us) pushed to the side.

She was pitifully laying in a cage. The only thing that would have made it more heart wrenching would have been a Sara McLaughlin song playing in the background.

I told T & H, “Honey, that’s a little Schnauzer.”

In a really loving and sweet way he told me I was crazy and she was a Benji dog.

She came home with us that afternoon and the bumpy ride began.

We discovered right away she had been so grossly mistreated it would be a while before we would gain her trust.

And, it was a while – a REALLY long while…

We discovered she had these little switches that turn on and off earning her the title “RainGirl zipped up in a dog suit.” Yes, a little canine Dustin Hoffman.

I was slightly vindicated after her first grooming, because, abracadabra, there was a Miniature Schnauzer!

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She began to really take to me and “mark” on me. I was becoming her person. You have not lived until your adoring dog follows you to the bathroom EVERY time and sits and looks at you adoringly while you take care of business.

It can be slightly unnerving…

BabyGirl made it obvious she was not overly fond of men. But, she had just began to warm up to Tall & Handsome when one day he was walking her in the back yard and he bent down to pet her on the head.

Saying she spazzed out would be an understatement. It was back to square one for those two, and it’s still tenuous to this day.

She is getting better and we see many improvements.

But, sometime back we began to notice she was emitting this odor. When I say odor, I mean ODOR. Like in Shakespearean portions.

The kind that would drop a herd of cattle dead in their tracks.

We knew she emitted this funky odor when she was frightened – we called it skunk juice and wondered if she was part skunk – I know, I know – I told you it was a bumpy ride.

But, this was different. It NEVER went away. We could have her groomed, we could bathe her ourselves and the pall of that stench hovered over her.

We felt like Lady Macbeth, but instead of “Out d*mn spot” it was “Out d*mn stench”!

Then in late February she went in for a routine grooming and when we picked her up they told us they were running a special on dental cleaning and BabyGirl REALLY needed her teeth cleaned. So we scheduled it for March 10th.

Well, fasten that seatbelt! When T & H picked up BabyGirl they told him they had to pull seventeen (17) teeth! Yes, that’s correct 17 teeth were pulled.

Just like in humans, bad teeth can cause dogs a lot of problems. In BabyGirl’s case they said it could be genetics, lack of proper nutrition when she was young or any number of things that could have happened to set things in motion before we adopted her.

Unlike humans, the missing 17 teeth will not and has not affected her desired to eat. She still revels in the “room of food” also know as the pantry where their food bowls and water bowls await them (her and Watson the Wonderkin) daily and they each get treats and biscuits designed to promoted dental health.

So, FYI, if your furbaby ever starts smelling like one of the Walking Dead, and you feel yourself going Shakespearean – get the vet to check their teeth out. There may be something rotten in, well, doggie land.

© 2016 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Babygirl, Dental Care for Dogs, dogs, Life, Pets, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Tall & Handsome

Chapter 8 The BamaSteelMagnolia’s Diaries: Nobody Climbs Mountains for Scientific Reasons or Delectable Mountain

Source: Chapter 8 The BamaSteelMagnolia’s Diaries: Nobody Climbs Mountains for Scientific Reasons or Delectable Mountain

For the latest installment in The BamaSteelMagnolia’s Diaries check out Chapter 8 over at Around the Block with the BamaSteelMagnolia. The block is Delectable Mountain and the chapter discusses my love for mountains and how it’s shaped my life – evidently for generations!

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The Rest was Left Up to Nature, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“The best way to travel…is in a balloon. In a balloon, you can decide only when to start, and usually when to stop. The rest is left entirely up to nature.” ~ William Pene de Bois, The Twenty One Balloons ~

The Glow G

The Glow I

I love the month of October – for many reasons. The weather turns cooler, the leaves begin to take on their autumn color, you can stoke up the fireplace on a crisp evening and the food for fall and winter is just so hearty and comforting.

But, October also brings back a fond memory. Back several years ago when Tall & Handsome and I met, he was living in New Mexico and I was in Alabama. Yes, we met in an unconventional and nerdy way – playing an online game. So, that meant we “courted”  in an almost old fashion way – long distance. We actually didn’t meet face to face until after we had been courting for almost a year.

There is a definite advantage to getting to know someone in that manner. You really get to know them as a person, putting aside all that heady rush of close proximity and infatuation stage. Like strong drink, that rush can be intoxicating, and sometimes can blind you…almost like the proverbial “beer goggles”.

But, we took the time to get to know the person. We emailed, talked on the phone, instant messaged and soon T & H discovered we could talk to each other over the internet. All that was needed was an internet connection and a headset.

After we decided to meet, we determined he would visit Alabama first and meet my family. Some of the gals I worked with at the time were concerned I was allowing an axe murderer to visit me and take my head as a trophy. I tried to explain to them that if he was indeed an axe murderer, he was the most patient one in history because he waited almost a year to wreck mayhem.

Our next appointed meeting was a visit I paid him in New Mexico. He planned well and with the aim to knock my socks off.

One adventure was VIP passes to the Albuquerque International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. It had been a bucket list item for me and doing it up on VIP passes, well, let’s just say he scored big points.

An event he made sure we attended was the Glow one evening. At this event the balloons are tethered and inflated. As you walk among these glowing, gentle giants, you would swear you were in an enchanted wonderland.

It was a memory of a lifetime for this Southern gal…

This past May we discovered Alabama had its own hot air balloon event. So, last Memorial Day weekend we headed up to Decatur, AL to attend the Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic. While not as large as its counterpart in New Mexico, it was still a fun event and brought back lots of wonderful memories for us.

Today’s pictures of the day were taken in May at the Alabama event. Yes, this event has its own version of the Glow and we made certain we stayed and caught the event.

I look back over the course of my life and think about events that have changed my life. Some changes it took wild horses to drag me into – yes, it was like leading a horse to water, or more appropriately a stubborn old mule.

But, I have learned – there is a purpose for everything – whether we see it at the time or not.

Take hot air balloons…20 years ago, who would have thought hot air balloon would have been a beloved part of my heart and history?

So, two visits and one special balloon event and history was made, my life was changed…I guess you could say, it had been left up to nature…and Divine intervention…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic, Hot Air Balloons, Life, Love, Photography, Picture of the Day, Psalm 1:3, Quote of the Day, Tall & Handsome

You Can Sit on a Mountain More Comfortably than on a Tack, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“Sometimes the littlest things in life are the hardest to take.  You can sit on a mountain more comfortably than on a tack.” ~ Unknown ~

Horton Mill Bridge flower

There is an old adage about “thriving where you’re planted”. I think that pearl of wisdom is based on Psalm 1:3 that says: “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” (NKJV)

Last April Tall & Handsome and I took a drive up to Horton Mill Bridge near Oneonta, Alabama. It was a glorious spring day and there was new life sprouting every where.

Once there, I happened to sit on a stone wall that looked like it had been standing there for a while keeping watch over the old covered bridge.  As T & H wandered down the embankment and explored a little I had planted myself on the old stone wall.

By happenstance I looked down along the wall and I saw a remarkable thing – call it a weed, call it a wildflower, but whatever you call it, there was new life thriving where it had been planted – in the mortar and crevice between the stones of that old wall.

Not only was this green wonder surviving in the most unlikely of places, but it seemed to be thriving, blooming forth tiny delicate purple flowers.

That unlikely little plant gave me a lesson in life. So many times we are planted in places we dread and even hate. We beg and bargain to be moved from these areas we consider wastelands.

We may be surviving, but are we thriving? There is a big difference.

We can survive like this little plant, which granted may not have deep roots and a long life span, but we can also thrive, blooming if you will, even if it’s the tiniest, most delicate of blossom.

I promise, it is sure to touch someone…

I have been planted many places that weren’t exactly “prime real estate”. I was dropped into non-smoking lung cancer twice, autoimmune disorders, a stalker and the end of a long time marriage brought on when the ex decided he wanted to marry his co-worker girlfriend.

During many of those times, I didn’t even feel like my roots were as deep as the little life on the stone wall. Surely, they were too shallow and would not tether me to this earth. Forget about having roots planted like the mighty oak. Sometimes my roots felt like they were buried in quicksand and I was sinking fast.

But, one day I came to a decision. Wallowing in my misery was not thriving – it wasn’t even a life. I made the decision to move on and plant my roots where they could latch on to something worthwhile – starting with a decision to thrive as best I could and not just survive.

I decided it was definitely more comfortable to sit on the mountain than sit on a tack.

And, when  I did I began to blossom again, with things I had long put away out of “duty” or because I thought they didn’t really matter in the grander scheme of things. But, they did, my muse told me it mattered.

My mused, by the way is my Tall & Handsome…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

 

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Filed under Alabama, Life, Photography, Picture of the Day, Plants, Quote of the Day, Tall & Handsome

Like Stars that Cling to Fairies Wands, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“There is a Music of Immaculate love, That breathes within the virginal veins of Spring; And trillium blossoms, like stars that cling To Fairies wands…” ~ Madison Julius Cawein ~

backyard trillium april 2013

Immaculate love. You might be asking what is that exactly? Well, simply put it means love without stain or without blemish. You might go a step further and say it is unconditional love. Quite simply it is pure, perfect love.

In today’s world, it might be hard to imagine that kind of love. It’s so easy to be cynical and skeptical when we take a look around us and see what’s going on in the world. We see selfishness, cruelty, danger, bullies, arrogance and yes, even evil. For me pure evil is anyone that would harm an innocent child in any form or fashion. Over the last few years, here in the South it seems like even Mother Nature has turned her wrath upon us as we’ve been racked with one storm after another, one tornado after another, one hurricane after another. We’re not feeling much love coming our way when a F5 tornado is bearing down on us…

So, it would be easy to harden your heart…and erect walls around your heart for protection…

But, in doing so, what would you miss? Love, joy, wonder and those wonderful “ah ha” moments in life.

Tall & Handsome and I have gone through our fair share of trials over the years. It’s like my Aunt LaRue said to me on more than one occasion, “Honey, if you didn’t have bad luck, you wouldn’t have any luck at all.”

My health has declined as fast as a melting snowman on a hot day in July. T & H has seen his field of profession suffer through terrible downturns because of the economy and off-shoring of jobs. Personal finances have suffered like millions of others around the globe.

It is a tumultuous time for everyone in some form or fashion…

So, what sustains you? Gets you through?

Love…

And, yes, you can still find pure, simple love all around you.

There is nothing as sweet and pure and delightful as a child’s laugh. It delights me to hears my nieces’ laugh. A merry heart doeth good like medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Proverbs 17:22 Their laughter is like a big old dose of medicine for this smitten aunt. Any, laughter does my heart good…it is one of the things I love about T & H…we laugh…

I see love pure and simple when I look at my two Miniature Schnauzer, Watson and Baby Girl, and ask, “Do you want a biscuit?” If I ask, “Who wants a marshmallow?” well, the loving cup in overflowing. It is something we have discovered that delights our little rescued, damaged, and broken Baby Girl to the point of bravery and spastic delight. She would walk over hot coals for a marshmallow…

I’ve seen unconditional, pure, simple and lasting love between two people who have been married for over 60 years. They have been through tests and trials, seen history made and raised three daughters. Those three girls were raised during a time when most women were demanding equal rights yet, they were bewildered because they never had anything to be “delivered from”. They were raised to believe they could be anything that wanted to be. Those two people also raise the youngest special needs daughter for 50+ years at home with dedication and immaculate love. Why? Because, it is what you do. Those two people are my momma and daddy.

I see love in a man who chose to love a woman with so many health problems her medical history could be case study. Yet, he does not see her that way. He sees her as his “beautiful wife”. That is my T & H.

It is no secret I live to see the trillium bloom in the Spring. It is a privilege to see them in my own backyard. They usually grow in secluded forested areas, yet there they are in my own back yard. What a special gift! I can’t help but think: “Let the Heavens rejoice; let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.” Psalm 96:11-12 NIV

So when I look back and I examine all the little bright spot in life, I pretty soon begin to realize that they all come together and are like those wonderful trillium blossoms. Yes, they are all there like bright stars clinging to the end of a fairy’s wand sprinkling stardust of love, relief, calm and comfort in our lives…

I can hardly wait to find more trilliums and more stars at the end of the wand…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

 

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Filed under Alabama, Birmingham AL, Central Alabama, Horticulture, Life, Love, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Tall & Handsome, Trilliums

Explore. Dream. Discover., by Beverly Hicks Burch

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain ~

sailboat off coast of Maine 1990 B

In the days of sailing, when maritime merchants, explorers, treasure seekers and navies ruled the seas there was one place they wanted to avoid if at all possible. And, that was the dreaded “horse latitudes”.

The horse latitudes are located at 30 and 35 degrees North and South and are in warm, dry subtropical zones. That amounts to very little rain and wind…the fuel of the vehicles of transportation of the day.

So, many times ships would be caught languishing in the horse latitudes for days at a time. Concern and fear would begin to rise up amongst the crew as to whether there would be enough food and water to feed themselves and the horses. As the stories go, they were also concerned about dead weight and felt maybe lightening the load might help them survive the horse latitudes.

As a result, they did begin lightening the load. And, no, it wasn’t those bottles of “yo-ho-a-pirate’s-life-for-me-rum” going overboard…it was the horses. Hence the term horse latitudes. Personally I think those bottles of rum might have been clouding their judgment just a tad, because there certainly wasn’t going to be any Yellow Cabs waiting on them to ferry them around when they hit dry land…but, that’s a totally different story…

I saw an ad on TV the other day and it gave me pause. An older woman was speaking. She related how she retired on a Friday, was in school on Monday morning, has a new career and is doing voice over work. She had reinvented herself.

That certainly is the spirit of today’s quote!

I think we all have hopes, dream, goals and bucket lists if you will. We begin by dashing out of the starting gate with the enthusiasm of a young race horse. We start to hit some of those highlights, but then things begin to happen and before you know it you are in safe harbor or the horse latitudes and have been there for some time. You begin to wonder what went wrong. You become disillusioned.

I will have to say, though, I disagree with Mr. Twain on one small point. I do believe we do look back and regret some of those things we did, because they may be part of the reason we’re stuck…in a wrong relationship, wrong job or whatever.

This feeling of being stuck…loosing your goals…your dreams or wondering if you’ll finish that bucket list is something I certainly can identify with. Life does have a way of sailing in with little detours.

For me it was failing health and a wrong relationship.

Now, take today’s picture for instance. I took this picture in Camden, Maine in 1990 (using my old SRL Pentax).  Camden is a beautiful little sleepy hamlet on the coast of Maine, just east of Augusta, Maine. Some people may remember Camden as the location set for the movies Peyton Place and Carousel.

How did a Southern gal from Alabama every end up in a place like that? Well, I was sailing out of the horse latitudes!

My momma told me one time I was “adventurous”. I had never looked at myself that way and when I quizzed her, she said I was adventurous because I liked to travel. Well, guilty on that charge!

But, I have over the last few years begun to think I’ve lost my goals, dreams and sense of adventure. Being chronically ill will do that to you.

Then I decided…Whoa, wait a minute here! I’m not dead…at least not yet. There are other adventures out there. Maybe different kinds. It’s time to lighten the load of disappointments. And, with God’s grace I can still strike off some of those other “bucket list” items.

So, I have decided…even if I’m on a rubber raft, I’m going to throw off those bowlines, set sail and explore…dream…discover…

How about you?

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Camden Maine, Life, Maine, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Travel

Life is Easy to Chronicle…, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“Life is easy to chronicle, but bewildering to practice.” ~ E. M. Forster, from A Room with a View ~

view from hotel in st thomas

When I look at today’s Picture of the Day and quote, I think of a phrase that is common in today’s slang and vernacular…

“True that…”

Life can be truly easy to chronicle, especially in today’s digital age. Not only can we now journal and photograph our lives, but we can blog, Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, video, Skype, vlog, and many other forms of documenting and social networking.

Yet, still, human as we are, life is still bewildering to practice. It is the nature of our inner id…it is what make’s like unbearable, frustrating, surprising, wonderful and exciting. It is the good, the bad and the ugly and then it swings around to the awesome.

I am reminded of this when I look at this picture. This was the view from my hotel room in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. I had taken my Aunt LaRue there in 1998. It was a trip of a lifetime for her and it now offers me memories to cherish now that she is gone. It is an image I am working to preserve from the ravages of time just as I work to hold on to those precious memoires of my aunt.

My life is fairly well chronicled. Daddy has old 8mm home movies of me and my sister as young lasses. I can not tell you what it’s like to see a 2nd grade Bev doing the Hokey Pokey…it is bewildering, yet delightful to Tall & Handsome.

Some of those bewildering moments were learning lessons, some I would like to bury under a stone and forget forever and some I like to remember and relive daily…like the first time I laid eyes on my Tall & Handsome. I am constantly bewildered by and thrilled by the awesomeness of Nature’s great wonder.

But, today’s picture reminds me of one sure thing…the chronicling…and bewildering will still continue…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Life, Photography, Picture of the Day, St. Thomas US Virgin Islands, Travel

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 6–“Till Death Do Us Part…Well, Maybe” or The Wedding Ring Block, by Beverly Hicks Burch

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 6 – “Till Death Do Us Part…Well, Maybe” or The Wedding Ring Block

And the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. Mark 10:8 NASB

(*This post can also be seen at my quilt blog Around the Block with the BamaSteelMagnolia™ where I am blogging the whole project.)

Wedding Ring block

I started this chapter in February some time ago and it seemed a fitting month to start writing the latest chapter of The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries. The block for this chapter is called Wedding Ring. It is a single wedding ring and not the double wedding ring we know so well. The block is a simple 6 inch pieced block and it represents the fact that I don’t know many in life who have not been affected by a marriage in some way or another…including me.

Being a genealogist I can see how all the “begats” or unions/marriages in our ancestry make us who we are. When you stop and think about the numbers in the equation of “you” it becomes pretty staggering.

For instance, for each generation you go back the number doubles to how many sets of ancestors, or marriages if you will, it took to trickle down to create the final individual you. Look at it this way…you are the starting point on the road backwards into time and your ancestry. Take those sets and multiply them by two and you have how many people it took to create the one special individual called you.

It works this way; you had two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, 16 great-great-grandparents, 32 great-great-great-grandparents, 64 great-great-great-great-grandparents and 128 great-great-great-great-great-grandparents and so on. As mind boggling as 128 may seem, your heritage and ancestry doesn’t stop there and it continues to double for each generation back. There are so many life lessons just in the formula of who you are and how you were made, but that is for another story. One missing link in that chain and you would not have been you…as a matter of fact you probably wouldn’t have been, well, here on Earth at all.

I would ask you to reflect on the marriages in your life, including your own that have affected you and what they mean to you. I’m sure everyone has different recollections and feelings and experiences.

The most immediate marriage that has affected me all of my life and is actually responsible for me even being here is of course the marriage of my parents. My parents have something that is rare to find in this day and age. That’s a long lasting marriage. For you see, on Feb. 28, 2012 they celebrated 59 years of marriage.

Oakley Hicks and Juanita McGee Early 1950's

Daddy and Momma early 1950s

Momma and Daddy were high school sweethearts. They were 15 and 16 when they met at a church function being conducted by my Momma’s daddy. Yes, Mom was a PK…a Preacher’s Kid. She was the shy quite one with big brown “doe eyes” as Daddy calls them. Momma and Daddy were a couple all through high school, for four years, so for all practical purposes you could say they’ve been together for 63 years and that is the biggest portion of their life. When they laid eyes on each other, there was no one else as far as they were concerned…that was it.

Daddy started the University of Tennessee with intentions on becoming a mechanical engineer. But, Momma and Daddy also had secret plans…yes, in their own quiet non-conforming conforming way they were rebels with a cause. They had plans to get married and I don’t mean a big church wedding with the wedding party, flowers, music and weeping mother of the bride (and in this case weeping mother of the groom, too). Nope, no way, no how. Momma and Daddy were going to make Hicks history…or at least stuff that would go down in family history. For you see, the shy lovely quite preacher’s daughter and the tall good looking guy from the foothills of the Smokies eloped…all the way to Ringgold, GA!

Now, the plan was to get hitched and drive back home. Mom would go back and keep quiet and live at home and Daddy would go back home and live with his parents and continue going to college. The slight hiccup in their little plan happened when Mom told her next oldest sister, Korinne, what she had done and swore her to secrecy…which of course was the very last thing that actually happened. Before you knew it the cat was out of the bag, the cow was out of the barn and the camel’s nose was under the tent or in other words, it was like telling Western Union and everyone found out. As Ricky use to say to Lucy, “There was some `splaining to do.”

Well, of course everyone knows you can’t keep true love apart very long anyway and by the time the parents (my grandparents) had time to wrap their heads around the events Momma let it be known in no uncertain terms she was living where Daddy was. And that was that.

Everything went along pretty good in newlywed life until about three months later. At that time Mom came down with a raging case of flu. Made her sick as a dog. She just could not get well. That was the “Beverly” flu. Yep, eleven months after they married I was born…and Mom’s flu was cured.

Cominghome Day 1-7-1954

Daddy, Momma and Bev – Coming home day

I was an only child for about three and a half years. During that time we moved for a brief time to Texas where Daddy worked as an engineer in the aircraft industry for Chance-Vought Aircraft. I celebrated my second birthday in Fort Worth, Texas which has always left me with a soft spot for Texas and branded me Daddy’s “little Texas girl”. And, as I have always said, some of the most famous and infamous Texans were Tennesseans.

“Oh, really?!” I know you Texans are saying… yep. For instance: remember Davy Crockett…♪born on a mountain top in Tennessee…♪ and also famous for the Alamo. Then there’s Benjamin and Henry McCulloch who both fought in the Texas Revolution and became Texas Rangers; Mack Brown head coach at the University of Texas and oh, yeah some fellow named Sam Houston. I think you might have heard of him, too. Sam’s time in Tennessee included time as a governor of that great state and time spent teaching in the town of my birth…a long time before I was born or course Smile

Being the true East Tennessee mountain boy that Daddy is, the Plains of Texas didn’t do much to lift the Tennessee boy’s spirits and heart. In other words, he got sorely and mightily homesick, especially when those Nor’easters barreled into the Plains faster than a New York minute without any warning. It wasn’t too long before we were packed up and headed back to the lush green climes of Tennessee.

Over the next eight or nine years Momma had two more cases of “flu”. And, two more baby girls followed those cases of “flu”. Pamella was next in line, followed by Yvonne. For a little Hicks trivia here: Mom named her girls Faith, Hope and Charity…in that order. I always teased her and said if we had been born boys we would have been named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John…

Momma and Daddy’s marriage has mirrored life in general…a road with ups and downs and bumps in the road. Almost every young couple starts out with the bare necessities and grows from there. Daddy was smart and savvy and his engineer career grew. We also moved several times following that career. We landed in Birmingham, AL (for the second and final time I might add) when I was 12 years old and the rest of that is history. That is why I proudly say, ♪…my home is in Alabama…♪ and one of my ringtones on my cell is Sweet Home Alabama…

My baby sister Yvonne, really Charity Yvonne, was born in Greeneville, TN when I was in the third grade. Mom’s delivery with her was fast. Like greased lightening…about 20 minutes. She barely had time to step off the elevator at the hospital before Yvon was born. When Momma & Daddy brought the baby home, they brought home another beautiful baby girl (Momma and Daddy had the reputation of popping out beautiful baby girls with long dark eyelashes and heads of thick dark hair. The nurses in the baby nurseries used us as baby dolls and hated to send us home. Back in those days they had about seven days to get attached to a baby before it went home.)

It seems like from the recollection of my child’s mind that it wasn’t too long after she was born that Yvon seemed to get sick and stay sick. So sick in fact that Mom had to take her all the way to Chattanooga for medical care and stay with family that lived down there. Papaw and Mamaw came to Greeneville to help Daddy take care of Pam and me.

I remember it as a tumultuous time. Yvonnie was sick. We didn’t quite know what was wrong and in the world at large, the Cuban missile was going on.

Over time Yvonne was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and for the last 50 years has lived at home. Do you know what the statistics are for marriages surviving for couples who have disabled children? They’re not very good. The divorce rate is very high and it’s usually the husband who takes his walking papers and goes on to create another worry-free life for himself.

It is a testament to my Daddy’s character that he is right where is started out 59 years ago, disabled child and all, and that is with my Momma and our family. As a matter of fact Daddy is pretty much the rock of the family and the three of us girls are Daddy’s girls. It is also like having a Jewish momma having him around, which is our way of saying he worries over us like a Jewish mom would…he just never learned to cook that chicken soup. Daddy’s remedy is to always take it to prayer…

I heard some place one time that marriage is a marathon not a sprint. My parents’ marriage would certainly qualify for the marathon…

Unfortunately, the first time around, I married a sprinter…

There is a lot I could write about my first marriage. My child is the issue of that marriage. And, sometimes I feel really badly because I feel I provided a poor example…a sprinter if you will as a role model for my child. I do not adhere to the current feel-good philosophy that divorce does not affect children. It does…no matter what their age. I think our society today reflects the side effects and ravages of decades of divorce. On the other hand I also believe that some parents can be toxic and I do not adhere to the theory that having a toxic parent around is better than having no parent around.

But, with that said, there are just times when divorce is unavoidable. Marrying that “marriage sprinter” is certainly one instance. Infidelity usually ends a marriage fairly fast or ends the chance for that marriage marathon partner. Another unavoidable instance is when you marry the type of person who ends up creating the “tragic love” scenario or as I wrote about a few years ago, the type of guy (or gal) that causes love to hurt.

If that is the case, I would beseech you to go back and read a blog I wrote a few years ago that addresses just that subject. Called When Love Hurts I address the rash of tragic stories in which women have chosen to stay and in the end unfortunately paid dearly for that relationship…sometimes with their lives.

The most recent example would be Susan Powell and her precious boys. Susan disappeared one cold December day in 2009 while her husband supposedly had taken their two very young sons camping in a blizzard. On Feb. 5th of this year her

husband blew up himself and those two precious boys as the police drew closer to lowering the hammer on him and his pedophile father. The coward and those poor children died in a burning inferno that should have never happened.

My love hurt story wasn’t like that, but it was traumatic just the same. Had I just opened my eyes and looked at the warning signs early on I could have saved myself sorrow and devastation years later. After 27 years of marriage my ex walked out because he was unfaithful. The summer he left I read my diary from the summer we started dating and as I did it was a real eye opener…he was the same back then…had cheated then and had not changed in 27 years. Leopards as they say do not change their spots. I just could not love him enough for him to change.

Bev & Momma on the Regrettable Day Nov. 1974

Bev & Mom – me as a young bride not paying attention to warning signs

And, unfortunately staying in a bad relationship hoping to make it functional only teaches children dysfunction. What did Susan Powell’s children learn in the end by her hanging on to a bad marriage? It cost her kids their lives. What a tragic shame… There is a saying…”The sins of a father (parent) are visited upon the children…” In other word the kids will learn from the father…from the parents. And, if you close your eyes to alcoholism, addiction, incest, abuse, violence and plunge ahead into that and choose that as a family center for your children…it will trickle down to them and affect them in one way or the other

For me realizing I could not love the ex enough to change who the core of him was, it was, well, the beginning of a new future, hope and moving forward…

So, even though I was scared to death when Gomez the Underwhelming abandoned me I began to have hope. Yes, I was disabled. Yes, he had wiped out the bank accounts. Yes, I had not worked outside the home full time in over 21 year. Yes, at one point he left me without health insurance. Yes, he assaulted me before he left and injured my back. Yes, I had hoped with everything in me that that he would have a change of heart and come home and things would go back to normal.

But, to have normal and a marriage that’s going in the same direction, you have to have two people who want the same thing. Without that, it’s just not going to happen and the only resulting by-product is going to be pain, sorrow, poor health, a bad example for the kids and low self esteem.

In the end the veil was lifted from my eyes and I was able to see there just might be someone out there who not only would help heal my broken heart, but became my marathon runner.

As the Rascal Flats song goes…God blessed the broken road that lead me straight to you…and that you is my Tall & Handsome…my southwestern cowboy.

Our story is unconventional at best. A sign of the times and a sign of what happens when a geek (me) comes into her geekdom and starts to revel in her life and gain self esteem once again. And a lonely, broken hearted southwestern cowboy who had given up on the hope of a loving nurturing relationship begins to hope again. You see we met playing an online MMORPG game. We emailed, talked and instant messaged for almost a year before we met face to face.

When I first laid eyes on my Tall & Handsome he was walking out of the Birmingham Airport. He had on tight blue jeans, a Western cut jacket and a Stetson. I got out of the Lead Sled (what I “affectionately” called my Park Avenue) and walked towards him. He walked toward me, smiled and said, “Hello, darling” and then kissed me under that cowboy hat in front of the Birmingham airport.

I felt 18 again! Wow! It was like living in a movie…a real chick flick. He really had me at “Hello, darling” and that kiss.

The kiss 12-30-03

The Kiss – my favorite of our wedding pictures

I have also learned words are cheap, but actions speak volumes and they do so loudly! Some of Gomez’ parting words were (referring to my illnesses and disabilities), “I didn’t want to take care of you, I hated taking care of you, but I did. So, there!”God help him when his karma comes rolling around.

I have never wanted to be a burden…to anyone. So, I was very up front from the beginning with T & H about the status of my health. The man did not tuck tail and run. He called me his wounded dove…

He knew I saw in him a heart that was larger than large…and he appreciated that.

I never felt secured and truly loved with a man I was married to for 27 years. I never felt “good enough”. I poured myself into him, body and soul. But my self confidence and self esteem was non-existent. There were episodes of suspect cheating from the beginning. He had developed hepatitis before we were married five years and I was so naïve back then I didn’t realize how hepatitis is contracted. Deep down inside though I knew something wasn’t right…

By the time T & H and I married, I felt loved, appreciated, confident and secure. I had found my muse. I wanted to create again. That is a huge gift any man can give to the woman he loves. My T & H does it effortlessly…

It has been the little things that some people would never notice. The time I lay dying in the back of an ambulance in Knoxville, TN my feet were bare. T & H dashed quickly into the house and grabbed a pair of sock and gently put them on my feet before the ambulance doors were closed. At the hospital ER, he refused to be separated from me and was by my side until I stabilized and was released.

When we moved from Alabama to Tennessee I was so sick I had to go through the ER first. When we got to Knoxville I was exhausted and slept quite a bit. I woke up one weekend afternoon to discover T & H had set up the deck furniture like a side walk café, bought flowers and grilled a luscious dinner. All I had to do was eat and enjoy him and the outdoors.

Another time when I was deathly sick and my stomach would hold absolutely nothing down, he cut up corn tortillas and made home-made lime-pepper tortillas chips and they were the only thing I could eat and not get sick.

Life may try to batter us, but we fight back together as a team.

We’ve taken care of a couple of bucket list items together. But, our greatest strength is being there for each other, understanding each other and appreciating each other. I love to see life through my T & H’s eyes. It is seeing life anew sometimes.

In the end, my greatest regret…our greatest regret? That we won’t have more years together and didn’t meet years earlier. If only fate had intervened when we were young…how many times have we had that conversation?

But, in the end, it is what it is…as much as we both hate that saying. We are thankful for what we have and for finding each other. It would have been awful to have never found each other. Neither of us can imagine a life without the other. I cannot imagine a day without his voice and his blue eyes and his sense of humor.

My Tall & Handsome and me at the Survivors Dinner in Savannah, GA (2011) celebrating 29 years cancer free non-smoking lung cancer (right lung) and 16 years cancer free non-smoking lung cancer (left lung)

And, in the end we resolve…`til death do us part…with the wedding ring block…

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

**The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries is a writing and textile art project I started a few years ago. It’s based on a concept started by Mimi Dietrich and a book she wrote about diary quilts. I was so inspired by the book I started my own and decided to accompany each block with a chapter. Everyone has always said, “Bev, you need to write a book!” Well, here it is…at least part of it!”

If you’re interested in catching up, here are the beginning installments:

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries Begin

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 1 – Cupcake Block or Happy Birthday to Me

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 2: Southern Belle and Yankee Puzzle or A House Divide Will Fall…

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 3 – Compass or Where in the World is Bev?

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 4 – Paw Print or To All the Dogs I’ve Loved Before

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 5 – How Green is My Thumb? or Grandmother’s Flower Garden Block

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Filed under Around the Block with The BamaSteelMagnolia(TM), Daddy, Divorce, East Tennessee Heritage, Family, genealogy, Gomez, Life, Marriage, Photography, Quilt Block, Quilts, Susan Powell, Tall & Handsome, The BamaSteelmagnolia(TM) Diaries, Wedding Ring Quilt block