Jan 28, 2008

Running is Good for the Heart!

Hello! Have you ever really thought about the way we use the word "running" or "run" in our everyday language? We run to the store to get some milk. We run into a friend we haven't seen in a while. We run out of time. We run ourselves ragged. We run up our electric bill while we run out of patience. We run out of excuses, we will run for our lives, and we never stop running our mouths. An idea can run amuck as we run around with our heads cut off. Sometimes we seem to just run in circles when all we really want to do is run away from it all. We will run an ad in the paper to get rid of all the stuff that seems to be running our lives. And while a politician will run in a campaign, we will run in the opposite direction to avoid talking about it socially. Before a big purchase, we will run the numbers to see if we can afford it. And if we can't, then we will usually just run our credit card and get it anyway. We run here and run there and eventually, we run out of gas. We run our kids around to soccer practice or ballet and while they play we run and do our errands. And when we rest, we watch "reruns" on TV to relax. While at work we run the rat race and tend to run away with an interesting project if we are given the proverbial ball and are told to "run with it." So with all this running around we do, it is not surprising that it was on one of my Sunday morning runs in the park that I run into a man who will become my husband someday. Little did I realize how running is truly good for the heart! :-)

Yes, I am going to tell you a little tale...the tale of the
Barber of St. Louis and the Designer.

Many months ago, on a beautiful Sunday morning, I decided to take a run in the park, as I usually do every Sunday. As I headed for Forest Park, a beautiful park located in St. Louis, I realized that I forgot my baseball cap (to cover my unwashed, messy hair) and my sunglasses (to hide my mascara-free, liner-free blurry eyes). I have never, ever ran in the park without my cap and sunglasses, but on this particular day, I forgot them both. I ran a short trail and I thought about all that took place in my life the prior two years. You see, exactly two years earlier, on this very day, my ex walked out of our home and left me and our marriage of almost 22 years. And two years ago on the day he left me, I went to Forest Park and found "my tree" and I called my sister and cried and cried and was so fearful for the future. I stayed at "my tree" for over nine hours, fell asleep under it out of sheer exhaustion and was convinced in many ways, that my life would never be the same, ever again.

And it wasn't - Thank God.

Fast forward two years and there I was, running, thinking, and thinking and running. So much had happened in such a short time. I ran two marathons, performed in a play, became contributing editor to Romantic Homes magazine, getting ready to close my store and move on to explore other opportunities, traveled to NYC, Texas, Ohio, Florida, and other places. I began my professional photography, had a new nephew, got a small tattoo (yes, really!)and did a mini triathlon. I thought of all these things as I ran through the park and how far I had come and how much my life had changed in a short amount of time.

I came upon a bench and stopped to stretch my hip, as it was a little sore. I had the volume of my ipod up loudly and I bent over to stretch out my hamstrings...then when I popped up again, I was startled because out of no where, and I mean no where, a man was at the end of my bench, stretching as well. I turned down my volume in case he asked me a question (it is common for someone to ask the location of the zoo, the art museum and so on). And it wasn't long before this man simply smiled and said,

"It feels good to stretch, doesn't it?"

I replied, "Yes, it sure does."

It was my friend, Evelyn, who, upon hearing this story, told me how profound that statement was: "It feels good to stretch, doesn't it?" Because my life has stretched so much; I stretched myself in many ways, experienced many things, and not by the stretch of my imagination did I ever think I would meet such a wonderful man at a city park bench.

His name is Randy and he was training for the Chicago marathon. I told him that I ran that race the prior year. He asked if he could jog with me and off we went on what was the first of many runs together. He told me he liked my hair (to my horror, it was not washed) and that he always liked short, choppy styles. As we jogged, I asked him what he did for a living, and he said he was a barber. I jogged, and looked up at his shaved head and pointed at it and said, "now that's not good advertising, now is it??" We laughed and little did we know that we would be teasing each other many, many more times.

Randy gave me his email and asked me to email him should I want a running partner. It was several days later I emailed him asking if we could meet for coffee. A week later we met for coffee, which turned into a pizza dinner, which turned into a movie. And we haven't stopped talking since. The second time we met was for ice-cream, a drive about town, a quick game of pool, and more coffee. The third time we met was to have a picnic in Forest Park and watch the annual Shakespeare Festival performance at the outdoor venue. However, a very heavy and sudden rainstorm had us scrambling for cover, soaking wet, laughing, and gathering our picnic basket, running to his car and headed to his home. There, he was a perfect gentleman, got me a pair of warm pajamas and we salvaged our picnic food and ate in his little University City home and watched movies. That was three weeks after knowing each other. Yes, it was like a hokey Lifetime movie, but it was real fun, real simple, and real friendship.

Much later, Randy told me he fell in love with me that evening at Shakespeare in the Park. He said that the rain was pouring down, and as we held the blanket over our heads, and as I stood there laughing and blinking water out of my eyes, he fell in love with me at that moment because I laughed at the situation instead of griping about it. I fell in love with him when he gave me dry pajamas and left the room to give me privacy and he had our picnic dinner all served on a plate when I went into his kitchen.

Okay, so you have the story of our meeting and falling in love. Let me tell you a little about this man, if you don't mind. He is a licensed cosmetologists who just happens to now cut and color my hair. He is also the new owner of the Big Bend Barber Shop and now owns his own business. He is a brown belt in karate, plays guitar, has a bass boat and loves to fish, and makes the best bar-b-Que ribs you have ever tasted! He is a romantic at heart but loves to tease. He loves to make fun of "my quirks" as he likes to say. But he takes me to the opera, even though he is not a fan. His love for God is comforting and his sincerity in doing the right thing is humbling. Basically, he is a good man. A very good man.

And the most romantic thing he has done? Six months after I met him, he asked me one day to go for a run with him, which I did and we stopped at "our bench" to stretch. It was at "our bench" he asked me to marry him and he gave me the most beautiful sapphire and diamond platinum ring in an Art Deco design. I was floored. I was even more floored when he told me that he bought the ring only after knowing me four weeks. He said he knew in his heart that we would be together forever, but he wanted to wait at least six months before he asked me. Randy has never married (and no children) and as he likes to tell me: "I waited a long, long time for you." A couple of days after he asked me to marry him, he whisked me off to Marco Island, FL to celebrate. There we walked on the beach, rested, talked, ate out, and spoke of our future together.

Over the holidays I got to meet some of his family members, and I flew him to Texas to meet mine. His family is very loving and his mother is the most generous woman I have ever met. The love she showers me with is overwhelming at times and I appreciate all that she does for me. I am very blessed to be a part of such a loving family who cares so deeply for me and I for them. My family took to Randy right away and one would think we all have been together for years. What a joy!

As most of you know, it was only last month that I endured a horrible car accident with a drunk driver and unfortunately, Randy heard the whole ordeal over his cell phone. You can read about this ordeal in my posting, "Hugged by an Angel." That wreck took a lot out of me and so many emotions went through me over time. To give you an idea of what kind of man I am in love with please let me share one more thing with you and I will then close.

It was a while before I went back to work after the car accident and I was working in my workshop, about to start a paint project. I started to look for my paint apron and realized that I had lost it in the wreck. It was in the car at the time and I forgot about it until that moment. Right then Randy called me and I started to cry and told him that amongst a lot of other items lost in the wreck was also my beloved apron (shown at left). I had that apron, covered in paint, for over 6 years. It was like a photo or an imprint of my work over the years. It saw me through some hard times and I never painted without it. I cried and cried. I was so angry and got mad about everything. He just listened patiently and told me that I am allowed to have anger over the wreck and while I am so grateful to be alive, and I know it is just a dumb apron, it is just one more reminder of what happened to me and another yet another loss.

Of course, I realize the outburst over the apron wasn't about the apron at all, but an emotional release of the fear, trauma, the near death I had only weeks prior and not finding my paint apron was just the trigger I needed to vent it all out. After I cried some more and Randy just listened, I told him I needed to get to work and assured him that I was fine and then I hung up the phone. About an hour later, Randy shows up and hands me a bag. In it...was a new paint apron. He said, "I know it isn't like your old one, but you will have paint on it before you know it." Well, you can imagine the tears that welled up again as he tied it on me and adjusted the straps for me in the back. He said he hoped I liked it and I told him that it was the best apron in the world. I know he thinks he "just gave me an apron" but he gave me so much more. What came with the gift of an apron, also came security, came love, came compassion, came no judging, came a sense of truly being accepted for who I am. I am happy to say that my new apron is now covered in paint and yes, I wear every time I paint and every time I put it on, I think of the wonderful man who gave it to me.

Thank you for allowing me to share my life with you. It is an honor to have so many who take an interest. My next post will be some "after photos" of a design project that I showed you "before" photos many months ago...so stay tuned. In the mean time, if you are lucky enough to have someone special in your life, maybe take a moment tonight and just simply tell them how much they mean to you. Not only will you fill his or her heart, but your heart will beat a little stronger too just for telling them how you feel.

From my house to your house,

Jan 17, 2008

Happy Chocolate Day Part Two

"More photos! More photos!" seems to be the topic of many emails I recently received since the Feb issue of Romantic Homes arrived on the shelves of stores around the country.
So, unlike the past, there will be more photos and less text in this posting....hmmmm.....not sure if I can keep my fingers from typing my thoughts though!

Below are photos that were not a part of the article and I hope you enjoy them. By the way, the photo of the lollipop wreath is shown without plastic over the candy...that was for shooting purposes only. Please keep them covered when you make the wreath. They get sticky and you'd be surprised how I had flick off little dabs of "floaties" that landed on the candy right before I took the photographs!

Oh - I also had a lot of questions about my coat. No that is not a ruffled scarf or glove - the coat has a fabulous collar and cuffs and even the bottom of the coat has about 8" of the same ruffle effect. I bought this coat last year at a tiny boutique - only after I had customer after customer come in and tell me that they saw a coat that was just made for me. After about a week of hearing this, I had to see what the fuss was all about and yes, as soon as I saw it I knew I would be pulling out my checkbook. The little boutique, The Time, was located down the street from my store, but it is now located downtown St. Louis. I can't say if that coat is available anymore or not - but it came in white, brown and black. And it is VERY warm and I just wish it would be cold enough for me to wear a lot more than I have yet so far.
Oh, and one more thing - I had a lot of people ask several questions me about the photo shoot itself. And so, I will answer some of them and I hope I don't burst your fantasy bubble...okay...that is fake snow! The shoot was done in Aug/Sept and yes, I am sweating in that coat! Because of the timing of publishing a national magazine, many articles are done months in advance. The candy is real, and yes, I made all of the crafts myself, yes I made up the poem for the nose gay, and yes, that door is really a door of a friend of mine. And finally, my hair is done by my fiance. He cuts and colors it! More on him later....

And once again - Happy Chocolate Day!
from my house to your house,

Jan 9, 2008

A Healthy Heart Begins with Chocolate!

Just when we are all off to a wonderful start with our New Year's diet...along comes Valentines Day! No fair! Okay, I admit, I use February 14th to cheat on the diet - but I cheat all day long!

Just as I promised, I am posting a sneak peek at the next issue of Romantic Homes feature that I produced for Valentines Day. I believe it will be on the stands any day now. In this feature, I do something a little different: I use color! Yes, candy red, pinks, and shades in between. Why color now? Well, it is the dead of winter, no leaves on the trees, no flowers in bloom (well, for most of us around the country that is) and in some places, snow on the ground. A little color is needed this time of year and what a better way than to add some to your front door. After all, opening a colorful door helps us to cope with the dreary day we are about to leave behind as we enter our cozy home.

In this feature, I show one door, adorned three ways for Valentines Day. We have a tradition of hanging up a wreath on our doors for Christmas, and most of us adorn our door with a Fall wreath as well. I decided to add to the tradition by having a Valentines Day wreath on the door. When one enters your home, the "wreath of love" is a greeting and a welcome that all will enjoy.

In addition, my article also shows a new way of using a nose gay for Valentines Day, not just for May 1st, as tradition states. You will have to go out and read the article for yourselves to get more information on this "love thy neighbor" tradition that is bound to mend any fragile fences between neighbors or strengthen those already steady. Enjoy the photos and please pick up the Feb issue of Romantic Homes to see the article in its entirety. I have to brag for a moment about Romantic Homes...this magazine is fast becoming more and more popular and the editors are doing a stellar job in creating a magazine filled with photos, elegance, and practical tips for the readers. I love it!

In the meantime, remind yourselves that dark chocolate has been found to have health benefits! Ummm..yeah...right... Well, I am all for good health! If not a heart of gold, then a heart of chocolate will do for now. And a healthy heart is a heart open to receive love and to give love.

And may your February be filled with good health and your heart filled with love.

Happy Chocolate Day - er - I mean Happy Valentines Day!

From my house to your house,

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