Moving on Up…

We have all had our war stories…moving just opens you up to feeling the love or feeling the frustration. A few amusing “Observations” of my “Move” across Gwinnett:

1) I did a massive clean-out to move from Philly to Atlanta 5 years ago. Apparently, I neglected to not honor my previous “non-accumulation clause.” $#%^%
2) I own more accessories than any average person should ever accumulate in one location. Someone should have reminded me my name is NOT Kate Middleton. Sheesh.
3) I am officially discarding/selling the last of my “first apartment/college temporary” Ikea furniture product. Therefore, I should be able to proceed to adulthood. Or feel extremely pathetic I have moved it over 5 times.
4) I wonder if I should be concerned that I have no idea how ALL this stuff fit here in the first place. Good thing for downsizing.
5)Finally, as I pack each box I recognize how many memories were made and how much I appreciate the good times and challenges I faced in this place. Looking forward to moving on up!!!

How do you handle the trials and tribulations of moving, Gwinnett?


Snow Forts, Heineken, and Growing Up – Memories of the Childhood Friend

I am on my way to drinks with a childhood friend down in the big city. Now, besides the fact that I am “escaping” from Gwinnett – yes, indeed, I do cross the County Line on occasion.  But I’m revisiting some childhood…

Damon and I grew up catty-corner to one another in Tulsa. If I leaned out far enough from my front porch and looked across the street at a diagonal, I could see his front porch.  Our mothers were happy to have two children same age and his younger brother and sister were often a part of our daily fun.  We rode our bikes, played in the street (it was just safer in the early 80s to be a wanderlust kid apparently), were in the same homeroom several years and he was my best “guy” friend. I know this NOW, but when you are an 9-year-old, you just assume your friends are always around and always ready for fun.  Our group of neighborhood kids kind of just grew up together.  And despite those depicted TV/movie interpretations,  drama for us was who didn’t invite the other to a birthday party, or who didn’t talk to the other on the playground.  We were pretty high-tech in those days. (and no, we didn’t have cell phones – but we did have some very low-tech walkie-talkies – with baby monitor interference built-in)

Later, a job transfer moved my family “north” to Pittsburgh, PA and life changed. I remember saying good-bye and everyone standing on their front porches or in our driveway – a feat in the middle of August in Oklahoma, but they wished us well.  It kind of was disappointing – thought in my young mind I would lose touch or they would forget me.  A few years into high school, however, both of our orchestras were at competition together in Virginia Beach. Damon & I were able to get together and spent a fun day being “kids” again at Busch Gardens. But we also dealt with some big changes, he was grappling at that time with a life decision and I remember that was the year I started becoming more of the swan and less the ugly duckling.  I look back now and realize both of us were at stages of bullying by other stupid young children because we were different – a little geeky, maybe even classified nerds.  But we survived it – and knew from the other that we were still cool in our small world, and that was what mattered.  Now before you start conjuring up star-crossed romance, let me share and confirm – we were always just friends. But I do know he was a Prince Charming of the FRIEND Kingdom, the one who went to bat for me when I kissed Greg S. in 4th grade and then promptly after when Greg broke my heart the next week, Damon stuck it out with me and patted my arm and told me that there would be other better guys.   He was right.

He was the one who built snow forts, ran through water sprinklers, and explored the wooded lots with me behind our street. We survived elementary school redistricting, Girl/Boy Scouts – he all the way to Eagle Scout, middle school and our first school dance. (Still remember that 7th grade dance more than Senior Prom – irony that we did more group dancing than couple dancing and had FUN). We lost touch every couple of years, but thanks to technology, email, and other techie inventions – we always reconnected. I listened to his adventures & challenges with college, and his decision to face a tech wave early with a computer company – which excelled.  Who knew?  (I was so proud!) He in turn heard about my adventures going into higher education and making a move away from my home in the ‘Burgh, to the City of Brotherly Love. He has heard my stories of heartache, job achievement and growing up & trying to become wiser. I have done the same for him. Always a phone call, email, and now Facebook or Twitter update away.

Here is what I notice – we’re still as real today as we were yesterday.  THAT is FRIENDSHIP.  No amount of required check-ins, status updates, or logging hours of dedicated time set the tone for our friendship.  It’s been about 20 plus years since we saw each other.  We rarely talk on the phone – ironic that we have highly involved “people jobs” but respect we kind of need down time after the workday.  We didn’t graduate together; in fact,  we are more different as individuals than when we met as kids.  But what I love,  it never seems to matter.

In adulthood, I have watched him find his true love & watch with fondness and admiration the two twin boys they now raise grow up. Tonight, he will hear stories about how I have finally found my niche in Georgia, and my own true love and a Cowboy Corgi I adore to bits. And I bet we’ll talk about work, and politics, and life decisions, our families -good and bad, and love…but guaranteed we’ll still just be those two cute kids racing each other down the block into the hot, orangello Oklahoma sunset.

Dear Parents of Children…From the Singleton, Childless Woman

trying to be good

I just finished babysitting your baby today.


I have salmon stuck on my neck and in the crease under my left breast.

My eardrum is damaged due to high frequency screaming.

I had to hold her while I was peeing because from her perspective it seemed like Satan himself would rape and kill her slowly if I put her down thus I did not get the chance to wipe myself properly…


…no matter though as I am covered in a thick layer of sweat from pushing the stroller up the hill so a bit more wet between the legs even things out.

I washed my hair this morning but all of a sudden it looks like a stringy bag of shit pile.


I haven’t had a chance to eat anything except snatching a few cold peas from her snack pack and my head is pounding.

I watched her draw on…

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The Planets Collide: Or How One Puppy “Adopted” Our Universe


Jupiter is Home

About a week ago, Walton Boy and I were living pretty carefree lives. And then came a picture of four Welsh Corgi/ Australian Cattle mix puppies into my inbox. The four darlings were residing at Canine Pet Rescue and were garnering much attention via the CPR Facebook page. I am a big softie when it comes to the “aww” factor, and usually have enough willpower to just walk away. However, found myself going back and looking at that photo wondering about them. I am a true animal lover, have raised many a 4 legged/fins/fur and helped care for more than one menagerie of pets growing up. Most recently, last July, I had to make the heart wrenching decision to put down my thirteen year old feline “baby” when she had a severe stroke. Many friends offered to help me locate another pet, but Lucy’s loss was too much to think about in my mind. So, a new animal- especially a puppy- seemed unlikely. Walton Boy also had his own share of pet loss; in fact, although at least 3 years had gone by, he still missed “Buck & Scoundrel .” We had certainly entertained the idea of getting a pet- but just like we sometimes can’t reach a decision on sushi at dinner, we kept a good dialogue going since no decision could be made. Someday. Just not now.
Now, there sat a picture, and as I told my dear Southern “Big Sister,” there was something about these puppies that was different. Maybe it was my attraction to the mixed breed, which i knew both were of smart canine ability. Plus, a Corgi was a breed WB and me had agreed upon. So I did the right thing, deleted the photo. Then promptly took the 2nd copy of the photo home on my iPhone to show Walton Boy. He raised an eyebrow. Ok, both. Were we ready? Did we want the responsibility? I could only keep coming back to a very solid, decisive and knowledgeable conclusive talking point. So cute, and uber adorable puppies! (Lucky for me, the analytical is better defined in WB than me.)
And we kept talking for the next 72 hours. And I made a general inquiry to Carla at CPR, for friends or colleagues, of course. Because these puppies needed someone. And I am a fixer and connector.
By Friday, WB leaned towards agreement we could visit and submit a general application but with the note, we were just looking. We both knew our hearts were hesitant because of former loss, and general uncertainty if we were ready. We would go, look, and think about it.
Saturday we drove to meet the puppies. It was a beautiful, crisp day and Big Sky Farm had a great many adoptions going on as we made our way with a volunteer to meet the puppies. We were solid and when we went in the kennel were soon devoured in angelic excitement and curiosity. The idea was to see which puppies would take best to us. As I sat with three roly-poly girl puppies clamoring for attention, I looked over to see the one boy pup being held by Walton Boy, the two of them alone in each other’s world. Did 5 minutes even pass by? Yes, we had found our pup. We did go outside and played with him – Walton Boy – being more dog practiced – tested him on agility, concentration, and several Galactic endurance quests to make sure “he was the right dog.” Ok, not exactly galactic, but we really wanted to be sure. I knew though, this little guy was ours. He accepted and played and listened. And then we decided! And in a wondrous blur, we were holding him, snapping a photo for the website, and hauling puppy chow and our new planetary wonder, Jupiter, to the truck. The next few hours Jupiter had his first road trip, naps, introduction to home, playtime, and more naps. And every so often, Walton Boy and I would look over and realize this little guy invaded our world with a big bunch of love. It has been a week, and we have had our share of adapting and welcoming him into our world.

Adopting-A-Puppy Advice

1) Puppy Time is not always human time, but he will TRAIN you to learn.
2) Leaves and twigs and grass are good toys. And potty time distractors. And way better than chew toys from PetSmart/Petco.
3) Get frequent shopper cards at the above mentioned stores. And stock. Because you will go there. A lot. Make a list. Seriously.
4) You will find yourself at an event, looking at your cell phone or a watch, wondering if you can sneak out for a chance to “throw the ball” instead of being AT the Ball.
5) A “bad day” is instantly changed and remedied by one good dog snuggle.
6) Puppies don’t know that 2p potty time is different from 2a potty time. But you need to just go. Or he will help you find an alternative. (See #1 for reference)
7) Playtime is the best part of the day. And the next, and the next…
8) Contrary to popular belief, you don’t “rescue” the dog. often it is the dog who “rescues” you. And your heart. And your world.

Our conclusion. Totally worth it. Definitely. Especially as I type this with a dreaming, warm puppy in my lap. Welcome Home, Jupiter. We love you.

Valentine’s Day: The Challenge

“To write a good love letter, you ought to begin without knowing what you mean to say, and to finish without knowing what you have written.” ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau



I saw the fear in his eyes as I issued the words. No, it wasn’t the “challenge” – being an analytical thinker & a gamer, he loves puzzles- but the words which followed as I expressed, “Write me a letter for Valentine’s Day. From the heart.”

A few weeks ago, as Walton Boy and I were shopping, we watched shelves in stores begin to burst at the seams with cherry red hearts, cotton candy pink frothy cards, and flowery cursive expressions cascading off chocolate hearts and gummy cupids as they spilled over the shelves. Yes, Valentine’s Day. I knew then as his grip tightened over my hand the stress of expectation had begun. Now, understand we have already survived birthdays, the holidays, and the occasional “just because I love you” moments and succeeded with flying colors. However, I just had a feeling he would dread this more than a root canal. So, without hesitation, I turned to him and said, “I know what I want to do for Valentine’s Day. Forget cards, gifts, flowers, and meals by candlelight. Simply, I want us to write each other a letter, from the heart, as a special gift for the holiday.” I know he was pretty skeptical, he even asked about it one night when we were doing dishes, but I remained firm and reissued my request, “A letter from the heart. Nothing more, nothing less.”

In our life, love enters our world daily. His job as a musician is based partially on other’s love as he plays at weddings, dances, and even tonight, at a Valentine’s Dinner/Dance Event And, as I “save the world” daily, as he puts it, I open my heart to making a difference in the lives of students, organizations and sometimes the world. But this is a challenge for us to take time to really say it.

You may be thinking (and I suspect he did too) easy thing for her…She writes all the time, she was an English major, she is a girl and it will just come natural.
Not exactly, dear reader. In fact, during those weeks, I started and re-started several drafts and they just didn’t come out right. Sometimes it seemed too corny, sometimes too serious, sometimes just too stupid. Even now as I sit and look at the final copy sealed next to me on the desk, I wonder if it really is good enough. In the words of Alanis Morissette, Isn’t it Ironic?

However, after multiple drafts, I thought back to my initial decree. Write a letter. From the heart. Simple. So, I wrote from the heart why I love him.
Why I know in my heart, he has been the best gift I ever could have prayed for, wished for, or dreamed about in my imaginary fairy tale or reality. Why in a universe of a million stars, we managed to find each other and shine brighter together then we ever could have alone in this world. Why I know it was worth waiting and surviving other loves (and loss), when his love was eventually the one which exceeded all expectation in my life….and there is more. However, that is between the two of us, because not everything should be shared.

Today, in a world of technology, thousands of texts, posts, blogs, tweets, and emails will be sent across the wire (and wirelessly) expressing love, passion and the occasional realization of disgust over a holiday that gives more couples, singles, and those who witness it heartburn. But hopefully many of you will stop and realize the greatest gift today is what is burning from the heart.

Remember, it isn’t about the romance or expectation of commercialism, but more the gratitude, appreciation, and devotion you feel for your significant other, spouse, partner, child, parent, friend, or even your pet!

So there remains The Challenge. The Letter. The chance to give a gift of love. Simple. Pick up your pen, and make the decision.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Make it divalicious…

What A “Fabulous Mess” I’m in, or not?

English: Source: http://pinafore.www3.50megs.c...

"Fabulousmess" at every age? Image via Wikmage

Energized and ready to write the new blog this week and wrap up the marvelous “Go Local” series. And then, hit a brick wall. Really a wall? Me the great writer of prose ran out of things to wax on about the merits and great benefits of going “Locavore?!?” As many of my younger asocial media counterparts say in a status/post, “SMH (shaking my head)” Craziness.
However, I reflected on something my dear, Texas Earth Mama friend posted this week. “I am a Fabulous Mess today!” I remember liking it, reflecting on it and throughout the week the phrase kept popping into my head, and life.

Evidence I am such a “Fabulous Mess”:
1) I was late and lost for a work meeting;
2) I misplaced (twice) a great personal resource file;
3) I snagged my pantyhose;
4) And, in a rush, spilled coffee down my white cami when heading out the door.

UGH! Fabulous Mess, indeed! And then, reminded about the reality, I am not perfect. I am human. I am just me. This is my life. And there is a blank space there to be filled. Instead, I am “Fabulousmess.”

Evidence I am such “Fabulousmess”:
1) I am loved by friends & acquaintances who, despite the run in my hose or the coffee stain on my blouse, accept me.
2) I have an awesome boss and great colleagues who helped remedy & improve one late mistake & a material loss.
3) I have this cool family – kin & “circle of friends”- who love me when I am down and know how to pick me up. And one Walton Boy who loves me even when I border on being a bit snotty or emotional and provides hugs that make it all disappear.
4) One greater power above who I know He accepts me without needing evidence. Period.

Eh, so how cool to know that in this sometimes overachieving, do it all, be the best, do it top notch world…I am a Fabulous Mess. I mean, “Fabulousmess.” This blog entry is dedicated to my friend, Texas Earth Mama. Because despite the fact she lives a few more hundred miles, hours, and hugs away- her advice, her love, and her influence is still felt by me each day. To her I say, Thank you for reminding me I can be “Fabulousmess.”

And you…yes, YOU out there. You are too! Patience, girl. Deep breath, and keep going.

And yes, the “Go Local” will now flow…

Gwinnett Girl 101

Hello, it’s 5am and I am finally doing this. After a year of posting on social media airwaves, we’re going to get down & detailed (and a little more personal). This is following lots of advice, encouragement, and downright guilty pleasure from awesome friends, colleagues, my well-intentioned parental units up in Michigan & one Walton Boy(more about him later) to “Just write it already!!” After all, I am the Gwinnett Girl.

Well, I could say how fabulously busy I have been, or that timing & web analysis had to be just right…but I can’t lie. It shows all over my face, trust me on this one, so truth is I was totally scared. Yup, fabu me with the good advice, the where to go, what to do, & who to know got a good case of the scaredy cat flu and spent a year – oh yeah, one pathetic LONG year hiding, starting & stopping blog entries, bugging friends for validation, & gifting myself a big old non-returnable complex that it wasn’t “good enough”…yet. Then this week it hit me. Somewhere around Sugarloaf Parkway & Satellite, I looked up and saw the lightbulb. (Not a cell tower or lights from NCR – a real A-HA moment) One of my biggest appeals isn’t just the advice, but who was behind Gwinnett Girl. the girl. Promise this is not one big self-serving dose of ego but really, why not SHARE amidst the stellar “Guide to Gwinnett,” a little more about who drives this weird pink & sometimes purple & green Cadillac of Divalicious. Some info on this Little (BIG) County I have grown to love in 4 awesome years.

I came up with “Gwinnett Girl” around 2009 and in what is now typical fashion, launched the “brand” via social media officially in 2010 in November. My real birthday month was a blur as I launched the logo, the fun, the party, Facebook page and a cool Twitter feed and began the dream to create the “Who’s Who, What’s What, and Why we love Gwinnett.” And it stuck. There are about 700 listeners & understanding fans out there who seem to think I have something good. (gee, no wonder I freaked out as a complex people pleaser) From the first day good friends dubbed me “GG” (thank you Sparkle Goddess, Earth Mama, StilettoMama, GwinnettBigSis and several other assorted Gwinnett Superheroes) I now spend my “free time” (for those who know me, stop laughing) posting about good things to do, where to go, & support of local businesses, events, people, and other sage advice because I decided one fine day that I was growing weary of hearing people say, “There is NOTHING to do, see, go, be, have fun in Gwinnett.” So.NOT.True. I tell people (and lucky you) when I moved here from a “Northern City of Brotherly Love” in 2007 1) never stepping foot in Atlanta, especially Gwinnett County for that matter; 2) knowing NOBODY and 3) “falling madly in love” with this crazy place, which took a hold of my heart and never let go. Fast forward to 2011 – am a little more than “connected” in Gwinnett and still residing as one of the biggest advocates and self-appointed cheerleader for this 800k plus melting pot extravaganza place I call home. So, I started the Facebook page and continued tweeting (@GwinnettGirl) and the fan base grew, and I started to get called on by people I expected to catch on and others who blew me out of the park. Encountered challenges, but made them opportunities – and gained advice from some awesome social media gurus on how to wrap my arms around this thing. Also, had distractions – good and unexpected but as many distractions do knock you in the head, necessary. I changed jobs, started writing again, adjusted some work/life balance & commitments, and met a guy- you will get to know him online as Walton Boy – who helped prod me along on this weird project despite my own internal self-conscious doubts.

But who am I? Well, I am an only child who is a former introvert turned extrovert (seriously – ask my friends in middle & high school), love eating banana peppers out of the jar, addicted to words & writing (hello, college English major), social media-savvy goddess, have a guilty love of scavenger hunts, skee-ball, stilettos (cute & functional, as I am 5’2), and using fabulous means to make the world über DIVALICIOUS (my “signature” term for something so ultimately cool you can’t resist it & must combust into spontaneous SQUEES of joy & rapture) Exactly. Some may find this too cutesy, or girly, or utterly mindless. Well, it’s me and although I am serious, stately, & refined – I save that for my day job and important GG professional matters but online, it fits me just fine. There is more.

For instance, why I love donning sparkly accessories or putting my best fashion foot forward while wearing my fave pair of yoga pants. Or those super suggestions to get networked or connected and survive another benefit, event, celebration, festival with panache. Or the “Gwinnett Gems” discovered in local shops, events, history, super fun locations, foodie/social media addictions and more. Or, how I wake up every day to save the world. (Truth serum: I really do)
But that is for another blog or two…I promise not to make you wait a year. In fact, I bet my “inner circle” of coaches and friends, who have finally come to after passing out with this published blog post, will now really light the fire under my stilettos. And I will write more.

Ready for this? Let’s go!