Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Grandma Jean's Candy Popcorn

Growing up in Arkansas, one thing that always reminded me of Christmas was Grandma Jean's candy popcorn.  She would make a batch of red and a batch of green and have it sitting on the counter in a hugantic metal bowl.  It was completely addicting!!!

Last year, as I was looking for a retro dessert for my Christmas party, I remembered the recipe and have fallen in love with it all over again.

Here is the recipe:

Grandma Jean's Candy Popcorn

4 quarts popped popcorn (popped stovetop is the best - and popping it in Coconut oil is even better)
3 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
Food Coloring (I found out that they make organic food coloring out of vegetables - made me feel better about using it and the color was actually even better than with traditional food coloring).

Put sugar and water into a pan and boil until a drop of the mixture into a glass of cold water makes a soft ball.  Just keep stirring after it starts to boil and every once in a while check to see how the mixture feels in the water.  In the beginning, it will simply dissipate and then it will make a soft drop in the bottom.  When you can turn it into a ball in the water with your fingers, it is ready.  Don't over process or it won't be as pretty.

Add vanilla and food coloring to your preference, pour it over the top of the popcorn and stir.  You will need a very large bowl to do this in or you'll make a mess (trust me, popcorn will go everywhere if the bowl is too small).

You can also add nuts to the popcorn if you want.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fire in the Sandbox!


Sometimes, we have to look at things from a different angle to get a solution.  For about a year, I have been treating a skin condition with everything I could find – cortisone, tea tree oil, blue goop and avoiding all lotions, creams and oils.  Things would seem to get better and then BAM! It comes back with a vengeance and spreads even further. 

I knew the cause of my condition, but I wanted an outward fix for an inward condition……let me just repeat that for myself to hear…..I wanted an outward fix for an inward condition.  Well, I am nothing if not consistent….  How many times have I told myself, if it wasn’t for x..y..and of course Z, I would not have behaved that way.  If he wouldn’t JKL then I wouldn’t LMN….what a load of KaKa!!  I want to fix all of the outward manifestations of an inside problem…..but I really don’t want to examine the actual inside. 

To rid myself of my condition, I have to eliminate all US wines, cut down on other wine, limit cheese, bread, and sugar—oh and drink a nasty concoction involving Apple Cider Vinegar.  Um….yeah…..see my reluctance???  But……my condition worsened until I had to do something and I am seeing great, amazing progress!!  I had to readjust my inside to get a true outside fix. 

After my X’s affair, the deacons of my church strongly suggested that I install software on his computer to keep him off certain sites and to monitor his behavior.  I told them in no uncertain terms that I was his wife, not his nanny---they said I was a fool.  Well…maybe….but I don’t think so. 

Prior to the discovery of the affair, we (read Becky) had a system of boundaries and checks and balances—that just meant that my X and my friend had created elaborate ways to get around them.  I had come to realize that my X’s behavior was between him and God—why should I control him??  Letting go of controlling his outward behavior allowed me to retain my dignity in a difficult situation.  It was not my fault…..I could not fix it…it wasn’t mine to fix.  The affair was an outward manifestation of an inward condition…no band-aid in the world would fix it. 

The Man has a wonderful saying—that when we fight, it’s simply our dysfunctions colliding.  My dysfunction butts up against his…doesn’t politely say excuse me…..and his butts right back.  We’re like two kids in the sand box emotionally pushing each other back into our own space.  I pick up a handful of sand, throw it in his eyes, and he exclaims, “that wasn’t fair!”  He finds kitty poop and smudges it on my favorite shirt….and it’s ON! 

What he says is accurate, however, the word dysfunction makes me feel broken….unusable….defective.  The actual definition of the prefix Dys is:  diseased, abnormal and faulty.  Dysfunction is so overused and has such a negative connation that it’s difficult to accept my behavior as a dysfunction….I am a Princess….I do not DYS-function!!!  (Of course, this has nothing to do with my tendency to avoid things….look the other way…you see nothing….) During my run today, I decided that there is a better word for me:  Mis-function.  I am not functioning the way I am supposed to….I have misfired. 

Many of my Mis-functions are actually a result of my strengths….which I think is pretty common…..

Affectionate can mis-function to become smothering
Problem solving can mis-function to become blaming
Detail oriented can mis-function to become critical
Protective can mis-function to become controlling
Passionate can mis-function to become bat s**t crazy!

To grow emotionally, I must look at my mis-fires, my mis-functions and discover what is going on inwardly that creates the outward behavior.  I have to get better at expressing my emotions—not my frustrations, not my list of gripes, but those feelings that press the FIRE button at a moment’s notice. 

But, just like my initial attempt to “heal” my skin condition, I typically want to fix the outside…(read:  everyone else).  But for true emotional healing, one must first look to the inside and the outside will follow. 




Thursday, July 26, 2012

Slobber Straps


My strappy sandals sometimes sport slobber stains.  It’s true!!  I have a penchant to open my mouth and insert a size 8 sandal….no notice……no warning signs…..I just talk happily away…chit-chat-chit-chat until my words drop to the ground with a THUD….and then…..awkward silence…people look away….silence….and then I realize that I have done it again….a witty remark is born in my brain, gives birth through my lips and like a rebellious teenager, goes where I did not mean it to go. 

Such an instance happened a few weeks ago.  Someone casually asked me, “How’s Married Life???”  In an effort to be “real” and “wise” and “profound,” I said, “well you know the first year is always the hardest year, but we are having a great time……” The exact words are banished from my mind forever and replaced with the subtle taste of The Body Shop peppermint foot oil. 

What I meant to convey is that The Man and I are crazy happy, we’ve made it through the challenges of blending a family of six kids, navigated the land mines of raised toilet seats, schedules, dinner times, toothpaste brands and my endless collection of shoes beautifully displayed on the kitchen floor.  We made it!!  We still love each other---and like each other.  The challenges of the first year made us better communicators, better listeners and has given us a respect for each other’s feelings and opinions.  I could not imagine a better partner, a better friend and a better love than his. 

Blending a family is hard---good golly, it’s way harder than I imagined.  Teenagers like me---they have always liked me….but then again, they didn’t have to live with me.  I was always cool and fun (at least in my own mind) and offered wise words in a crisis.  Now, I sometimes look in the mirror to see if my leper’s spots have disappeared…… just sayin’.  Blending a life is hard---I am a morning person…..and The Man loves to sleep in……he loves his quiet time and my quiet time lasts about 30 seconds and then I am off to the chatty races.  But it works.  I have learned to keep my alligator mouth closed (to avoid the aforementioned peppermint taste) and to sometimes speak my mind with a confidence that only a trusting relationship can bring. 

This morning, I heard a song that I quoted in my marriage vows:

Stay with me
My love, I hope you'll always be
Right here by my side if ever I need you
Oh, my love

In your arms
I feel so safe and so secure
And everyday is such a perfect day to spend
Alone with you

I will follow you, will you follow me?
All the days and nights that we know will be
I will stay with you, will you stay with me?
Just one single tear in each passing year

With the dark
Oh, I see so very clearly now
All my fears are drifting by me
So slowly now, fading away

I can say
The night is long but you are here
Close at hand, oh, I'm better for the smile you give
And while I live

I will follow you, will you follow me?
All the days and nights that we know will be
I will stay with you, will you stay with me?
Just one single tear in each passing year there will be


How lucky I am to have a partner whom I can follow and who follows me back!!!  Every day is a perfect day to spend with him!  If I could reel back in that question about married life, I would answer it like this:

How lucky I am to find a partner who is willing to play with me, who is wise, patient and loving, and who cares deeply about his family.  I have learned to be more generous, more understanding and more……ME!  What a blessing it is to be fully me, fully seen, and fully loved.  We have had so many adventures already:  trekking through Costa Rica over suspended bridges and down waterfalls—chatting with monkeys, frogs and sloths.  We have bet on the loser at the Kentucky Derby, been on live television for our picnic fare at the Indianapolis 500, and dressed up as 80’s rockers for Halloween.  We left no Brunello behind while tasting through Tuscany and have sailed almost to Canada on a small sailboat---Our list of adventures could go on for pages. 

Yesterday, we were married one year and one month----blending is still difficult at times, we still disagree on the proper way to eat chicken legs and our dysfunctions sometimes bump into each other…..but I am truly having the time of my life with the Clyde to my Bonnie!!

Hopefully, my sandals will be safe……at least for a while.  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

How I Know My Heart!


My first wedding anniversary with The Man is tomorrow.  It’s hard to believe that it has been twelve months since we stood hand-in-hand amongst flowers and friends sharing our hearts and committing ourselves to each other.  Looking back, I see a perfect day—one that expressed our hearts completely.  We had no traditions for the sake of traditions – no hiding behind ceremony and pomp…..it was The Man and Me proclaiming our vows in a very vulnerable and dynamic way…with moments that twelve months from now I am still savoring! 

It was a long journey getting from broken heart to fullness of life—it wasn’t easy!  I spent many a night with a box of Tagalongs, a bottle of wine, and Under the Tuscan Sun.  The Man pursued me with 80’s music I had never heard of, quotes from G. K. Chesterson, and through his love of cooking.  We danced and we sang (actually he sang) and we debated everything from the Easter Bunny to music to whether or not dill should go in his Serbian salad.  Our hearts intertwined through mutual respect and joy. 

How easy it would have been to miss each other……

I have written many times about the importance of a List—you know, a thoughtful list of the type of person you would like to share your life with.  Dating is one big job interview---seriously….you are looking at the person, their interactions, personality and character traits to see if you are a good match.  If you can’t describe in detail the person you want to be with, how will you know if you find them??  We like to think that there is a big “aha” moment when we meet the “one.”  The truth is, sometimes our own dysfunction gets in the way of reality. 

Consider this:  when one gets divorced, ideally, she will take time to look inside herself and grow and change to be a healthier person.  Many people take years to unpack their issues – either on their own or in counseling to move to a better place in their lives.  They begin to see the differences inside themselves and start considering a serious relationship.  Sticking Point:  if you choose the wrong person, you don’t have a chance to take off the training wheels and use the lessons you have learned to have a healthy relationship-----you go right back into CrazyVille and that train ain’t stoppin for nobody.  It is easier to find the wrong person than the right person…….time always tells……and the wrong person can make anyone crazy!!!!

So back to my list and my butterflies…..  Here is my list and here is the proof that I am a very, very lucky girl!!! 

Passionate about God – this fits Veso to a tee……he eschews “religion” for the real deal----and lives his life as a person compassionate to others, giving and generous and seeks Truth.  This is something I appreciate so much about him!!

Passionate about a cause.  What I am learning is that it doesn’t have to be MY cause that he is passionate about – this one actually made me smile tonight. 

Nice Dresser – seriously, it may seem shallow, but I want to be able to look across the room and think, “dang, my man looks awesome!!!.”  

Has close friends - this is a must for me!

Attentive – This may be my favorite thing about him!!!!

Hangs back a bit….a watcher – After being with someone for many years who resented anyone who stole the limelight from him, I wanted to be able to shine on my own at times and not be resented for it.  This was essential for my heart!  I needed a man who measured his words and let others speak and who was perceptive of those around him.  V is so secure in who he is that he doesn't have to prove his worth by dominating conversations....he is generous in his listening to others.  He wants to get to know people on a real level and get beyond the surface.  

Sweet – Check!

Wants to grow – How refreshing it is to be with a person who is ever improving and ever learning.  It inspires me to do the same!!!!

Athletic – OMG – check!! I adore his soccer-man bootie!!!  J

Makes things happen – check!

Close to his family – quite honestly, this was so, so, so important to me.  I love my family and I could never be with someone who was ambivalent towards theirs.  V is a good son, a good brother and a very good dad.  I adore this about him!

Engages with other people – For a long time, I watched The Man on the soccer field—observing how he interacted with others and how they reacted to him.  He truly engages with other people, encourages them, asks them about their lives and laughs…..I love his laugh!!! 

Entreprenurial, Professional – check!

Likes Art, Music, Food, and Travel – Blessed am I that he is passionate about all these things!!!!!! 

Has a list of things he wants to accomplish – check…..not a written out list, but he has a loose plan for sure!

Positive outlook – Very much so!!

Reads – He is a true truth seeker and is constantly reading and learning.

Likes to Dance – Hooray!!!!!!!!!!  He is an 80’s dancing machine!!!!

Spontaneous – Way more than me for sure!!!

How lucky am I to have found someone who completely fits the bill!!  It doesn’t matter how “nice” they are or how “cute” they are or how many butterflies they put in our insides….. they have to be right for you.  My list is not your list….my priorities are not your priorities….. what matters is being focused on the type of partner you need in life and becoming a good partner yourself.

I feel quite blessed that The Man and I crossed each other’s paths and that we stopped long enough to realize that we were indeed a good fit……. Had we not paid attention, we would have missed it.  He is the love of my life….a partner in the truest sense.  He sees me----really “Sees” me and gives me the confidence to be even More “Me.”

Love you, Babe!  Happy Anniversary! 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Square Pegs and Wild Roses


I have this rose bush at the end of my deck that spent the last three years in a state of misery.  Yes, it would bloom from time to time, but it looked….well…thin…and pathetic.  I considered digging it up and replacing it with something better…..but I have an innate need to rescue pathetic things and I just didn’t have the heart to abandon it. 

The way the previous owners shaped her, I had assumed she was a traditional rose bush.  I kept her trimmed nicely, fertilized her and treated her with care…..with little results.  My hero, Ray Hunt used to say “if you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always gotten.”  So…….

Last summer, I spent time watching Ms. Rose and seeing how she behaved.  I stopped trying to tame her long shoots while still shaping her a bit so she didn’t sprawl out everywhere.   I asked myself what does she want to be.  After a couple of months of observing her natural, unmodified behavior, I realized that Rose wants to climb.  She wants to reach new heights, to explore her surroundings.  I allowed her to sprawl a little….just a little….and was rewarded with beautiful blooms and a thicker, happier rose bush.  She still looked a little haggard.

This year, I decided to support Rose – to allow her to climb, spread, and grow.  I purchased a beautiful arbor to give her limbs support.  I lovingly trained her around the iron design and let her be herself.  This year, she repayed my kindness in spades---or should I say flowers!  I have the most beautiful blooms – and buckets of them!  Rose is full and happy. 

Sometimes, we treat our relationships the same way.  We “manage” the people in our life—keeping them in the box we feel is appropriate and although they may bloom from time to time, they are a little thin and aren’t thriving they way they should.  We want to keep everyone in step and in line.  Roethke writes in his poem Dolor that he has seen the inexplicable sadness of pencils all lined up the same in their box.  In business, we have to get the right people in the right positions so they can thrive….in our organizations, we need to do the same.  The harder trick is with our personal relationships---our children, our spouses, our immediate family members.  If we are always getting frustrated and fighting against their natural tendencies, we aren’t doing anyone favors.  Sometimes we need to let others lead…..sometimes if we are gifted in planning, we need to be okay with being the one who plans everything. 

Like the roses, we need room to be ourselves and we need to allow others to do likewise…..and celebrate the blooms that reward our efforts.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Letter to the Ex-Wife

After meeting with a girlfriend and sharing common stories over a bottle of wine, it became apparent a blog must be written about being the new Mrs. X.  A few weeks ago, I wrote a letter to the new Mrs. X with a  few little hints for survival with my children and their mama bear (me)…but there was another letter I really needed to write but deep down, I am one big fried chicken….I don’t want to be misconstrued and I certainly don’t want to cause unnecessary drama…..

But……as I put on my Wayfarers…….step into a pair of The Man’s boxers……pull up my tube sox and slide down the hallway to the tunes of Bob Seger……...I think to myself………sometimes…you just have to say what the flick…………flock……….fleck whatever it is that you have to say at such times……


Dear Ex-Wife:

We share a few special people in common.  Being an ex-wife myself, I completely understand your position.  I understand your frustrations…..I understand the need to emotionally distance yourself from a man who was in your life for a very, very long time…and I understand the emptiness that it brings.  However, there are a few things that you need to understand about me.

I am a good person.  I like puppies and ducks….and baby chickies (at least until they grow bigger into scary chickens).  One of the best things about me is my heart.  I do think about your heart and I try as much as I can to have empathy and understand where you are coming from.  Because my heart is big, there is more real estate to make me vulnerable…..your words can hurt me…they can piss me off…..they can make me apathetic…..they can send me on a shopping therapy spree lasting a whole weekend…..but there can still be hurt.  Although I am a big girl and can hold my own, arrows can hit their mark.  I expect you to trash talk to your friends, to your family, and to your man (after all, I have friends, family and a man, too)…..but please be sensitive……(I say this to myself as well).  I don’t expect you to care about my heart, but words are long lasting things that sometimes have unexpected consequences.  Sometimes we mean to hurt one person with them but they change direction and hurt someone completely unintended—like shrapnel. 

You should know that I will never undermine you to your children.  Period.  Enough said….but it needs to be said.  I would expect the same from my X’s new Mrs. 

Know that I could be a great ally.   I can be an extra hand. 

We have graduations, birthdays, and grandchildren to think about.  How great would it be if we could all celebrate together!! 

You should also know that I understand your hurt.  I understand the deconstruction of a marriage.  I know betrayal, loneliness, and the scary feeling of being single at 40----holy cow…..don’t I ever know those things.  However, I also know that my husband is a good father and a good man….part of the above celebrating together has got to include a peace treaty…..seriously. 

Know that I can enrich your children’s lives – not in a competitive sense….not in a parental sense……but in the sense that I can bring things into their lives that are uniquely mine…..not in competition with you, but rather to complement you….. I have no motherhood to offer them – that is your job.  I get the easy stuff….I know that….I didn’t change their diaper or hear their first words….but I am here to offer a word of encouragement, a sassy opinion, and even a project or two to work on when necessary.  I bring two kids of my own to the mix….making it all a birth order fruit basket upset for sure….but their interactions enrich their lives…..and gives them more people to care about. 

Lastly, I want to apologize for my own awkwardness.  I come near you and I don’t know what to say…..I get tongue tied and go all shy-girl.  You’ve been a part of the family much longer than I have and it can be a little intimidating.  Please don’t misconstrue my social awkwardness for anything other than it is……

So….let’s call a peace treaty…..let’s love the kids in our lives…..and try to make things a bit less awkward…..I am game if you are. 

B

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Letter to the Future Mrs. X

A girlfriend and I had a long lunch with cocktails the other day.  The topic du jour was being a Mrs. X –you know….the woman who marries your X who without fail will be criticized about everything from her parenting skills to her nail polish color to the number on the bathroom scale.  We all hope the new Mrs. X will be dumb as a box of rocks, have a behind the size of Texas and, of course, make our X miserable so he will finally learn what  a SOB he is/was. 

In reality, we should pine away for the perfect woman – someone who will be pleasant to talk to at family functions…..someone with a sense of humor so when Junior shows up at their house with his latest ant farm project and proceeds to drop said project on the floor shattering an ant world all over her kitchen……she won’t commit homicide….. We should want someone good to our children and who treats them with dignity and respect……..

It’s a stinky job…..being the Mrs. X.  You inherit all of the family disfunction….not just your own, but your Man’s, too.  You not only inherit his family, his kids, the dog, the goldfish and the Bob Marley album collection---you also inherit his X…..let me repeat that…..yes, you inherit his X—who most probably will hate you till the day she dies. 

My X is getting married this summer.  The new wifey isn’t exactly who I would pick to be the step-mom in my kids' lives…..but I wasn’t actually consulted…..and quite honestly, if I chose…..I would probably pick someone with the above qualities…..you know….dumb as a box of rocks and someone at LEAST a jeans size larger than me…..maybe even two…. BUT, in the spirit of charity, the Easter Bunny, spring lambs and April Fools day, I am giving the future Mrs. X a little help….just a little. 

Dear Future Mrs. X:

I know you are madly in love with my X---I know right now everything is all tulips and sunshine and I genuinely hope that you two will be eternally happy….etc. etc. etc.  Being a step-mom and dealing with me will not be a walk in the park……I apologize in advance.  If the X and I could deal with our dysfunction properly…..well….he wouldn’t be my X……  Here are a few tips to make your life a bit easier as the new Mrs. X.

Treat my children kindly and with respect.  This is non-negotiable.  Feel free to enforce your house rules, but know that there is a line.

At family functions, talk to my kids…..engage with them.  Find out what they like and who they are…..they are pretty good kids…..I know they remind you of my existence and of a life you weren’t a part of…..but embrace it because they aren’t going anywhere.

Don’t try to drive a wedge between my X and our kids.  Don’t badmouth their mother……..I have heard that she can go from zero to psycho in about 15 seconds……so keep your thoughts about my life to yourself and to your hubbie….don’t speak of them to my children.

When you see me, be polite.  It’s a scary thing being around the former Mrs. X….. I have been there….but remember, there are many weddings, graduations, birthday parties, and births to attend……  Better yet, bring a bottle of wine and a couple of glasses---we will probably both need a drink. 

Encourage my X to spend time with his children…..make some new traditions (just don’t make them conflict with mine---remember that zero to psycho comment).   Include them in your plans. 

And lastly, be patient….it takes more time that you ever thought for kids to warm up to the newbie.  It takes more time than it should.   But if you invest in their lives, you will eventually get a return. 

All the best,

Me.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Being Salty

How I love the salt air…..ocean breeze….waves crashing over my feet….. After playing in the ocean, I am so delightfully salty. As an avid cook, I know that the right about of salt in a dish can meld the flavors and make the taste buds come alive! I was reminded this morning that I need to stay salty…..to enhance the lives around me….to make me even more…me.


You are the salt of the Earth; but if salt looses its flavor, how is it to be seasoned? It is good for nothing else than to be thrown out.

You have heard that it was said long ago, “You should not murder” and whoever murders will be in danger of judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of judgment. Whoever devalues his brother shall be in danger of judgment as well.
If you do good things (aka bring your gift to the altar) and remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift and go your way. First be reconciled with your brother and then offer your gift.

You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I tell you not to resist an evil person. If anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak also. Give to him who asks you and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

You have heard that it was said, “you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you to love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. If you love those who love you, what reward do you have?

Reminder to self: Salt is always used to benefit other things. One does not simply eat salt. Salt dissipates so others can shine. But salt is glorious and valuable…just like me.

I am Becky Pruitt-Lukovic and I approve this message!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum!


Blending is not my favorite thing--unless of course it involves ice and lots and lots of tequilla....  The art of blending a family is complex and takes the finesse of a virtuoso combined with the hardiness of a pirate.  Usually I simply get that deer in the headlights look and freeze until just the right moment and then run.....smack dab into a Mack Truck!

Mateys.....We need Rum!!

Blending is much harder than I anticipated.  Teenagers love me.....my own kids typically love me.....well....typically..... I am fun....really.....I promise!!!  I cook!!  I listen....usually.  Blending is like living in a foreign country---everything I need, I have to go through my translator.....(Hubs) and everything they need, they go through the translator (dad).  I feel as if I must sit back and watch and wait for the pieces to connect----excruciatingly painful for a woman of action----and divest myself emotionally from the outcome.  I have to be the grown up....I can't get my feelings hurt....I have to keep waiting and waiting for that moment where I get some sort of "tada!" moment.  Did someone say Rum?!?!?!?

I am not sure what exactly I envisioned----maybe the Waltons.....or Little House on the Prairie when they adopted Albert.....or....  I just want to hit that little button that says Blend------I want to make it happen instantaneously!!!  I want them to be comfortable....I want me to be comfortable......I want The Man to be comfortable.....I want Junior and Chickadee to be comfortable......mostly I just want to have a family that loves each other and engages with each other....creating a new living breathing organism.....a beautiful blended family. 

The problem is that I get my feelings hurt......they get their feelings hurt.....The Man gets his feelings hurt.....and we all compartmentalize and talk to our translators.  Sometimes it feels as if I am on a reality tv show---negotiating back and forth....making alliances....and plans.....and super secret alliances....and super secret plans.... Rum!  We need more Rum!!!

At times, I feel caught in the middle in the fray between exes.....at times I feel left out...in my own home.....because this is a family that is not mine....they have a history I don't share.....I feel like an intruder....an interloper.....watching something beautiful from the outside.  It's a club I can't join......I'm not really even a step-mom.....I am simply Becky.  Some days I am okay with that.....and some days it just really sucks. 

It's time to re-evaluate......to step up to the plate......to risk something in order to gain something.  In my fears that they won't like me, I have become something that is not quite myself.  In the words of Ray Hunt, "If you do what you always do, you will get what you have always gotten."  It's time to return to me......learn the language......ditch the translator....and take a risk.