Posts Tagged With: Relationships

I Have Value, Too.

I posted a comment on my Facebook page the other day because I was so frustrated and hurt at the actions of my roommate that I wrote, “My time is valuable too. My space is valuable too. My wants and needs are also valuable. Respect should be mutual.”  I am tired of how I pay the consequences of the decisions of other people without respect and consideration for me.  Not only that morning, but this and last weekend were both filled with even more opportunities where that lack of consideration toward me was exampled. I have value, too.

These past moments are not the only times where my time, my space, my wants, my needs, and my plans have been neglected, or effected, by the decisions of other people.  It’s happened most my life. It hurts just as much now as it has all those times before.  It’s the main reason why I choose to be as I am, respectful and thoughtful of others time, space, wants and needs, because I know how much it aches to be neglected. I don’t want to upset anyone else, especially those I love, by doing the same in return. I just don’t understand why it’s so easy to neglect and disrespect me.  I have value, too.

I want to share three examples lately that have really hurt me. I may not post this blog when I’m done because I don’t want to hurt anyone else, but right now I’m hurt and this blog is my outlet.  The reason I have this outlet is to release the things that hurt me so I don’t hold onto them and they in turn eat me up from the inside out.  We’ll see if I post, later.  Right now, I want to get this out.

Last weekend, my youngest daughter, who is a twenty-two year old adult and she’s been living on her own for a while now, had called me and told me she wanted to come see me for Mother’s Day and to live with me.  I had bought her a bus ticket and sent her some money to eat while on the trip, and made arrangements at work to use what little vacation time I had left to make sure I would be there to pick her up at the bus station. Over the past several years I’ve constantly worried about her, prayed for her, and stood in the background as she’s made a lot of dangerous decisions in her quest for independence; she never called or texted unless she needed money. This is what most parents have to face when you’ve done all you can to raise them to be strong, productive, moral, and smart adults. We can’t live their lives for them.  We have to let them make their mistakes so they can learn how to stand on their own.  Yet, we can always stand on the sidelines cheering them on and be there with a helping hand to help when they fall. Everyone falls at times. I never had anyone there for me, so I vowed to always be there for my children – to let them go, to let them make their choices, and to stand back and watch them walk into the storms of their lives.   Friday came, I left work excited to find an empty bus stop, an unused ticket, and silence – no message, no explanation, nothing. I can’t get my money, my vacation time, or my hope back.  This isn’t the first time she’s done something like this, but it doesn’t hurt any less.  She didn’t value and respect me, my time, or consider my needs and wants in the decision she made. She hasn’t in a very long time.  I just don’t understand.  I see terrible mothers neglect their children, yet their children love them and give them respect no matter how badly they treat them – and grant them compassion and respect they’ve never earned.  Yet, my own children – all of them – never call me and have completely excluded me from their lives. Was I such a terrible mother?  Why is so easy to leave and neglect me? I may not question it if it was just one of my children, but all three?  Why am I so hard to love? Don’t they understand how much I love them and how much it hurts they’ve shut me out? I know their lives are filled with the things they value. I have value, too.

The second example, the one that prompted my post last week, was my roommate leaving her shit for me clean for the millionth time, upsetting my schedule, invading and wasting my time.  As roommates, her habits affect me, just as mine affect her.  She’s come a long way, and I do appreciate the effort she’s making, but it doesn’t make the times she disrespects me hurt any less. Bottom line she’s lazy.  When she’s focused on something, it’s great and there’s really nothing she can’t do. She’s amazing with technical things and electronics. That’s why it pisses me off when she doesn’t do what she’s more than capable of doing.  She’s highly intelligent and very skilled.  But when she’s not focused or simply doesn’t “feel” like doing something, she doesn’t –  and my plans, my space, and my time all be damned.  It would be a different story if it was something that occasionally happens. I have an occasional lazy day, and they’re wonderful. Her lazy days happen a LOT.  I don’t do what I do every day because they are MY habits. MANY of the choices I make are out of respect for HER, for our place, for our space, to respect BOTH our time.  I clean up after myself so SHE will have a clean and ready kitchen should she need to use it, a clean place to sit and watch tv and entertain friends and guests, an empty washer and dryer, an empty dishwasher, a clean floor, etc. Our mutual agreement was to keep these “community” spaces clean – kitchen, laundry room, living room, balcony, etc. Our private spaces – keep as clean or messy as we want. When she doesn’t clean up after herself in these community spaces  – MY time isn’t valued because it’s spent cleaning her shit instead of doing what I want or need.  HER decision last week took away the time I had schedule to write, to work on something very important to me.  I had a great story I wanted to write, but it’s gone now. Instead of writing I was cleaning. Before anyone jumps to conclusions and say, “Well, why didn’t you just leave it for her to clean up later and go write?” Yeah, I’ve done that… many, many, many, many, many times.  What happens – the mess is even bigger later and she will just joke about it AS I’m cleaning it. “Dishes? What are these dishes?” As if joking about it makes her actions acceptable.  I clean the dishes because I need to use them and the space they take up.  It would be nice if they were already cleaned and ready to use when I need them, the way I make sure they are for her.  Believe me… I get tired too.  I have the same fucking 24-hours a day that she does.  It’s not some miracle that the same space gets cleaned after I use it compared to when she does.  I’m not Mary Poppins and just snap my fingers and things clean themselves.  But, I do it because I value her, our space, and our time.  I have value, too.

The third example is about the value of my time and making plans. This past weekend I made plans to spend with one of the teenage son of my ex-boyfriend.  I love this kid. I love both boys as if they were my own.  I fell in love with them as much as I fell in love with their father.  While their father didn’t value me as a girlfriend and broke up with me, we still maintain a friendship and he allows me to continue to be a part of his sons’ lives because he knows how much I love them. But this family sometimes drives me crazy.  I love them very much and I value the time I get to spend with them. I just wish they would value my time as well.  Anyway, back to the story.  The oldest son wanted to come spend the weekend with me, so we planned a cooking weekend.  I’ve been teaching him how to cook and we always have a great time cooking together.  Well, I had many offers of adventures for the weekend. I had an opportunity to visit one of the lighthouses on my lighthouse journey, something no one ever has time or wants to go with me.  That’s okay. I have no problem going by myself. I’ve done most things by myself. I had an invitation to go flying with someone in a Cessna, and another invitation to go riding on an airboat through the swamps. A group of friends invited me to a card game night (which I went and had a blast), and another friend invited me to go paddle-boarding at the river.  Well, I’m not going to say I didn’t skip that invitation because I’m just not comfortable with the idea of falling in a river where I can’t see through the water.  Kayaking or snorkeling in the springs, hell yeah!  In the river where I can’t see through the water… uh, no thank you.  I’ve also been trying to learn how to body board on the weekends. These may not seem like a big deal to anyone else, but they’re my plans, my adventures, the things I WANT to do.  Of course, spending time with this kid, cooking with him, or spending time with this family is very important to me too because I love them dearly. So, I turned down all those other offers and cleared my schedule for them. I went shopping on Friday and got all the ingredients to cook the dishes this kid wanted to cook.  I was so happy.  While most of Saturday was the two of us cooking, his cousin – who lived just a couple doors down wanted to come over and hang out with us. That was great, I didn’t mind at all. Except now my teenaged sous chef wanted to play video games with his cousin instead of cooking. Well, I cooked some things on my own, but I wasn’t going to cook it all by myself. I made him get off the video game and come help me in the kitchen.  He did, for the most part, and learned to cook a few new things.   However, after dinner was consumed and I was getting ready to head to my card game with a few of my friends, he decided he’d rather go hang out with his cousin instead of staying home and watching a movie, but promised to be back in the morning.  I knew I wouldn’t see him again for the rest of the weekend, but plans had been made, and I was going to keep my word, though I could see what was coming, and knew my time wouldn’t be valued.  I have value, too.

Plans had been made  to go the next weekend to Bob’s River Place as a celebration to kick off summer, it is a GREAT place to go with lots of water activities, rope swings, water slides, etc.  I was asked if I could change my plans and go this weekend instead next week because it was more convenient for their schedule. I changed the plans I had made for this Sunday. So, as it stood, I had three plans – I had a teenager who promised to come back and finish our cooking, a day at Bob’s River Place, and the one day a week I would have the place to myself because my roommate made me a promise that she would work in building on Sundays to give me that one day of “me” time– regardless of what my plans were, whether I was home or not.  Do you know how I spent my Sunday? My teenaged sous chef never showed up.  He didn’t call or text me to tell me he had changed his mind. He showed up after I had gone to bed to get the things he’d left the night before that he would need for school. He didn’t ask if I had cooked the rabbit, or had a piece of the pie I spent hours making.  It wasn’t important to him.  We didn’t go to Bob’s River Place either, nor did I get a text or a call to say we weren’t going. I just assumed that by 10am with no word from anyone, our plans had changed.  And instead of getting the place to myself as promised, my roommate took the day off from work and she and her dog were here to invade my space, my time, and my privacy.  So, after crying myself to sleep and taking a little nap while nursing a slight hangover, I got up and spent the rest of “my” day cleaning the “our” whole apartment (alone – though my roommate was there and could have helped), and then spent time hanging out at the pool and playing games together. She was bored, needy of attention, and I love her, and we don’t often get a lot of time to hang out together. I wasn’t going to get my alone time. Even though she tried to stay in her room to give me “my” space, that never lasted more than a half hour before she needed something, wanted something,  or had a question to ask, or had to take her dog out – you know, the typical things that needs to be done when you’re at home.  My time was interrupted, unlike the time she’ll get to enjoy for the next two days she’s off and at home alone.  I have value, too.

I’d love to say I’m not making plans anymore, but that’s not who I am.  I wish I could find a way to make it a bit more difficult for the people I love and care about to ignore, take advantage, and neglect me. Is that asking too much? Don’t I matter? It doesn’t feel like it. It feels like – It doesn’t matter what I want, I’m Tonya, I’ll understand.  “I can neglect her, but she’ll still be there. I can leave my shit sitting here, she’ll clean it up. I can break my word, invade her space, or change my plans, she’ll accommodate.  It doesn’t matter what “she’s” planned, “I” don’t feel like it.  I don’t have to call her sometimes or let her know what’s going on in my life; she should know I love her. I shouldn’t have to tell her. I’m an adult now, I don’t need a mother, or she’s not my mother. I want to be alone. I don’t want the hassle of a relationship, but I do enjoy the benefits without the commitment. It’s good she loves me, but I don’t have to love her back. She doesn’t need it, she’s Tonya.” I have value, too.

I had a woman tell me this weekend that she had been terrified of talking to me because I intimidated her and she thought I was too classy and too proper, that she didn’t think I would want to be friends with her. I know she meant that as a compliment, but it hurt my heart. She’s such a beautiful, friendly woman; I would have easily been friends with her. She’s not the first to tell me that. I don’t know what to do with that.  I don’t understand what I’m doing that makes me loved, but not loved enough, or intimidating, or that I deserve better (but not the best from them – from someone else because they can’t give me what I want or what I deserve), because the next person will tell me I deserve better (but not the best from them – from someone else because they can’t give me what I want or what I deserve), and the next person will tell me I deserve better (but not the best from them – from someone else because they can’t give me what I want or what I deserve). Or so I was told by my last three boyfriends when we broke up. I give my best because I love and value those in my life.  Will no one give me theirs?  I have value, too.

I don’t love and value my kids or my friends because they’re perfect. On the contrary, it is often their imperfections I love most.  I love my children, more than I could ever say. I gave them the best I had.  I wasn’t perfect, but I don’t think I deserve to just be forgotten or shut out completely. I was a good mother. They were my life, my loves.  It hurts me so much they don’t involve me in their lives or care what’s going on in mine.  I love my roommate/sister/bestie more than she’ll ever know. I’m closer to her and have a bond with her like I’ve never had with any of my brothers.  As for my brothers, I sacrificed a lot for them, yet they don’t care about me either. I had to separate myself from them because they hurt me, lied to me, stole from me, and endangered my children.  I love my best friend and his sons. They’re family – they own a part of my heart and soul.  Do I not matter to anyone?  My parents never wanted or valued me. My brothers never wanted or valued me.  My ex-husband never wanted or valued me. My kids don’t want or value me.  I have value, too.

Someday the people in my life are going to look up, but I’m not going to be there anymore – just like my parents, my brothers, and my ex-husband discovered, because “I” value me. I have value, too.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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I Will Remember


As the moon travels through phases and the planets rotate through the universe, so too do all things in life continually change, time when things grow closer together, and then move farther apart.  Yet all are still part of the same universe.  Sometimes two objects that had been inseparable in a gravitational pull get jarred by an alien object and the two celestial bodies fall out of rotation and separate. I will remember.

I will remember falling in love on that picnic blanket and the way your arms felt wrapped about me.

I will remember the way your muscles moved as you rowed the kayak down the crystal-clear river.

I will remember your happy-food dance.

I will remember you riding a bike way too small just to spend time with me.

I will remember the long talks, the moonlit walks, and the smell of cigar and Yeager.

I will remember hands coming off the steering wheel on the ride home from the airport.

I will remember watching the clock, waiting anxiously for the breaks and lunches just to hear, “Hey, babe, what’s up?”

I will remember the song recommendations and the stories of what those lyrics meant to you.

I will remember your reaction when you took me to hunt for Pikachu.

I will remember the way you’d hold my face with your strong hands and stare me in the eyes, placing your forehead to mine.

I will remember jumping the curb.

I will remember you stealing that shaker.

I will remember how dogs love you.

I will remember the good mornings and good nights.

I will remember the sea turtles.

I will remember Ormand Beach, Rainbow, Wakieva, and Gennie Springs.

I will remember your beard, camouflaged shorts, superman shirts, and flip-flops.

I will remember your ‘dirty’ picture – all covered in paint.

I will remember your redneck imitations.

I will remember your horrible driving.

I will remember binge-watching Netflix, Walking Dead, Stranger Things, and Futurama.

I will remember your voice, your touch, your smell, and how I felt in your arms. 

I will remember what it was like opening my heart and letting you in.

I will remember the Fourth of July, my Birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

I will remember all the pictures.

I will remember Amicalola Falls and Sweetwater Creek with you and the boys.

I will remember the fishin’ hole in Sebastian, the Inlet, and the beach.

I will remember how you stood by me for my first tattoo.

I will remember Orlando and our foodie tour, and how you carried a casted woman upon your back.

As I move farther away through the universe and feel your pull less and less, there are also some things I will choose to forget, like how it seemed in one day my whole world shifted and my sun just left.  My universe shook and you pushed me away, stopped answering my texts and ignoring my calls, and then disappeared behind your fortified walls. Did you even love me at all?  You promised that you’d never hurt me, yet you crushed my soul, ripped out my heart, and left me alone. But I will survive. I will go on. 

The moon is still changing and the stars realign.  I keep praying for heaven to send me a sign.  But of the love and the good memories and good times, those I will remember, for all of time.  I loved you then, I love you still, I will love you forever, no matter what universe we’re in.  Though the distance grows father and farther apart, you’ve aligned yourself with a different circle, and a different heart.  You’ve chosen to run with a different kind of crew, confirming how much we are through.  I will well, I wish peace, I wish you healing, I give you release.  I will remember.


~T.L. Gray





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Livin’ Out Loud – Active Living


Well, I’m back again to talk a little bit more about Livin’ Out Loud.  This isn’t an idea of something I want to do, but something I’ve been doing since my divorce a few years ago.  This was something my soul cried out needing for a very long time.  I tried to get what I needed from everyone around me, my ex-husband, my kids, my church, my job, but I couldn’t find what I was seeking in them or through them.  What I needed, what my soul needed, what my heart needed was already inside me, but I realized I was too afraid to listen to her, or to even give her a glancing thought.  She was too painful to even acknowledge. 

Memorial day is coming up tomorrow.  I’ve been having a little bit of a hard time this weekend and found myself trying to reach out to others in order to soothe that pain. I thought after 23 years I’d finally be able to breathe during this time without that pain, but the pain is still there, yet it’s not all for James, the hero that gave his life in Somalia.  It’s for the hero that was left here at home, the fighter inside me, the survivor with her many scars.   I loved James, still love him, will always love him, but he’s not really the one I’m grieving.  I miss him, will always miss him, will always wonder of the life we might’ve had together, but I think what still hurts most is the life that I hid inside me for so long.  People grieve in different ways. I shut down. I hid inside myself, got lost for a couple decades, and while I was living, going through the motions, I wasn’t alive.  I cared deeply for everyone else around me, but not myself.  When I learned the scripture to “deny yourself and pick up your cross…”, well… I did just that.  I denied myself until I could deny myself no longer.

So, here I am after I completely disrupted my life, turned it upside down, made some bold moves, and faced my biggest fear – that lost, hurt, angry little girl inside who has carried my pain for too long.  I was so afraid of her, but now I look upon her and instead of seeing a depraved, dirty, lonely, scared shell… I see a beautiful, radiant angel, whose light is so bright my heart simply can’t even begin to express how much I love her. Without hesitation, she forgave me for being a coward for so long, and since I faced her I have been living out loud.  Yes, I’ve had some huge obstacles in my way, a few heart breaks, a few failures, one giant battle with death, but I wouldn’t trade any of them for anything.  That woman inside (she’s no longer a frail girl) is strong enough, tough enough, and brave enough to handle this world.  As long as I cling to her, I know we will survive.  That’s what we are, we are survivors.

Part of this living out loud is active living, which by definition means to actively be engaged in your life, in every area of your life – emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  It doesn’t mean you’re doing fantastic feats every day, it just simply means that every day you’re living in the moment, living in the day, and living to the best of your ability as you face your daily challenges.  Life is full of challenges.  It is full of temptations.  It is full of excuses.  We can find one for everything. We can make one for every fear we have.  But that isn’t fair to ourselves.  Living out loud and loving yourself means that you face your challenges.  You might not win them every day, but winning isn’t the marker of success or failure.  It’s the effort, the intent, the devotion, and dedication applied to facing those challenges that make us a success or failure, that determines if we truly are living out loud.

I’ve been working on trying to repair the damage I’ve done to my body during my years of depression and regression.  It’s hard. I wasn’t born with the genes that make it easy. Every day is a choice, a battle, and it requires a strong will, a determined mind, and a heart dedicated to seeing myself succeed.  I am tempted. I am afraid sometimes. I am weak at other times.  But, the more I love myself, the more determined I become.  The more success I taste, the more I want to taste.  The more dedicated I become, the more dedication I desire.  I’m not ruled by my desires anymore. I rule my desires.

Yes, it’s hard to get up at 5am every morning and get started.  It’s hard to say no to the foods that make my mouth water. It’s hard to not just cling to someone else’s strength so I don’t have to use my own. I know I’m never going to look like a supermodel, or one of those beautiful, slim, toned women on the front of fitness or fashion magazines, and I don’t try to look like them.  I don’t want to be them. I want to be a version of me that is healthy, that is active, that is strong, that is vibrant and who can do the things my heart wants to do and not be denied because I don’t have the physical or mental strength to accomplish them. I hate being denied.  So, yes… many mornings I want to cry and my mind makes a thousand excuses to roll over and go back to sleep, but that beautiful angel inside me, my own personal cheerleader, she nudges me and whispers to my soul, “I love you and you deserve to live out loud. Do it for us.”  That’s all it takes and I jump up, get dressed in my workout clothes, and take off. It’s what helps me deny that doughnut, or not gorge on that pot of beans, or feed my insecurities with foods that harm me.  I was slowly killing myself for years, and became a master of excuses to continue doing it. I was wrong.

Bottom line.  The secret to living out loud and actively living is loving yourself.  I love me. I don’t need anyone else to love me.  But when someone does choose to love me they receive one of the greatest gifts, a precious treasure, even if they don’t realize it.  They receive a pure love, a dedicated love, a devoted love, a determined love, a faithful love, a grateful love, a love that doesn’t take from them, but pours into them.  We are a lost and lonely world. I see it, I feel it, I recognize it in the many faces I see every day.  The majority seek to feel the emptiness inside through various outside sources – money, accomplishment, sex, drugs, food, shopping, music, extreme activities, pills, addictions, obsessions, competition, acceptance, religion, political causes, martyrdom, violence, … we’re all trying to save or destroy the world.  The only person we need to save is ourselves.  The person we often destroy is also ourselves. If we embrace who we truly are, loving the world becomes easy and living becomes an everyday part of life. Going to the laundry mat becomes an adventure, because all life is an adventure.

So, get up.  Get going. Set those goals. Put down the fucking doughnuts. Meet those challenges face to face. Start breathing. Start living. But don’t do it for any other reason than for yourself.  Don’t do it to fall in love with someone else. Fall in love with yourself and others will fall in love with you too.  Don’t do it to look good for someone else’s approval. Do it so that you feel beautiful and sexy for yourself, and then others will see you as beautiful and sexy.  Don’t do it to fit in and be like everyone else in order to feel accepted.  Embrace who you truly are, love all your nerdy, quirky, odd, crazy, and wild parts and let the rest of the world see you for who you truly are, not who you pretend. If they don’t see you or can’t see you, fuck ‘em. You don’t need them. Don’t be afraid to face the world alone, because if you can’t face the world alone, you’ll crumble under pressure trying to face it for someone else.  That’s not fair to you or to them. Don’t be afraid to walk alone, be afraid to not walk at all.  Walk. Go. Run. If anyone truly loves you for you, and can see you’re actively living out loud, they will want to walk with you.  But if they’re cowards and haven’t found their own strength, you can’t carry them. Keep walking. 

In a moment of despair, when I felt like the world’s worst failure, God whispered to my heart, “It’s not your job to save the world, it’s mine. Let go and let me love you. I made you to fly, so fly, Baby Girl, fly. Live, My Love, live, and live out loud. I gave you a voice so sing, sing of love, sing of life, sing of all I’ve poured into you and all that you are.”  That, my friends, is what I say to you all. 

Till next time,

~Song of T

Categories: Blog Post, Dream, friends, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, Musing, Philosophy, relationship, respect, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Weaver of Words

Weaver of Words

Sometimes it seems my life is stuck in a rut and refuses to move either to the left or right, keeping me circling the same tree over and over and over again. Other times it moves so fast I think if I blink I’m going to miss the thousands of things flying by in a rapid pace. That seems to be the way it’s been these last few weeks.  So many new things have happened I can barely recognize my life or what it had been just a couple months ago.

With all the thousands of ideas moving in, out and around me, I’m taking a quick step back to see if I notice a pattern. I usually can’t see the image when I’m up close or right in the middle of a thought.  Some pictures need a wider view.  So, what are these patterns I’ve been noticing?  What are the words, thoughts, and meditations that’s been coursing through my mind of late?  What do they mean? What are they trying to tell me? Where do they lead? Most importantly, which ones do I listen to and which do I ignore? Whew, I’m getting a bit overwhelmed just thinking about them.

I’ve been on a journey lately, one of the mind, most importantly, one of the soul.  My imagination has been soaring to distant worlds, floating on different planes, seeking wisdom and enlightenment in understanding.  Here are some of the quotes that have motivated me lately. Here are few words of wonder.


“Sometimes you have to stop being scared and just go for it.  Either it will work out, or it won’t. That’s life.”

“Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.”

“Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do.”

“The Buddhists say if you meet someone and your heart pounds, your hands shake, and your knees go weak, that’s not the one.  When you meet your soul mate, you’ll feel calm. No anxiety. No agitation.”

“Find someone you can be completely free with; sexually, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and cosmically, and go freaking WILD.”

“Find a heart that will love you at your worst and arms that will hold you at your weakest.”

“You cannot force someone to comprehend a message that they are not ready to receive.  Still, you must never underestimate the power of planting a seed.”

“I’m very picky with whom I give my energy to. I prefer to reserve my time, intensity and spirit exclusively to those who reflect sincerity.”

“We’re so busy studying and seeking to find our life’s mission, let us not forget to look around and simply ask, “How can I help?”

“I admire people who choose to shine even after all the storms they’ve been through.”

“I love you neither with my heart nor my mind. My heart might stop, and my mind can forget.  I love you with my soul because my soul never stops or forgets.”

“A person’s actions will tell you everything you need to know.”

“You deserve the love you keep trying to give everyone else.”

“I don’t want a perfect life; I want a happy life.”

“Whatever you do, never run back to what broke you.”

“On this road called life, you have to take the good with the bad, smile with the sad, love what you got and remember what you had. Always forgive, but never forget. Learn from mistakes, but never forget. People change. Things go wrong. But just remember, the ride goes on.”

“When you connect with people who are good for you, you feel it.  This is a big deal. Don’t forget to acknowledge how great it is to be around someone who lights you up. Tell them, even if you feel a little weird. Your people love your weirdness.”

“When you kiss someone and you stop kissing them for second and smile, and then kiss again… I can’t think of something more beautiful than that.”

“Let your weird light shine bright so the other weirdos know where to find you.”

“I think it’s important to realize you can miss something and not want it back.”

“You don’t know this new me; I put back my pieces differently.”


I think you’re starting to get the picture.  Well, I hope I’m able to get the picture, because those are some amazing clues.  I’m still digesting, still trying to wrap my mind around what it all means, what it’s trying to tell me, what I need to hear.  I may not know the whole extent of it at this moment, but I already know it’s all good.

I’ve smiled more in the last few weeks than I have in a very long time.  Sometimes I get a little sad when I think back to other times I used to smile so much it made my cheeks hurt.  Those times, those memories, those associated with those memories will always be precious to me.  But, this is a new day, a new time, and a new season to smile. I’ve cried enough.  Joy comes with the morning, and baby… the sun is rising.

“I’ve got a pocket, got a pocket full of sunshine.”

I don’t know what tomorrow holds. I don’t know what’s in store for me. Maybe it’s a great adventure. Maybe it’s a great love affair. Maybe it’s a new page to a new story.  Whatever it is, however weird it is, I’m ready and I want it.

Till next time,

~Weaver of Words of Wonder




Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, blogging, Flash Fiction, Life, love, Muses, Philosophy, poem, relationship, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Where the Dead Things Are

Where the Dead Things Are

*New original short story Where the Dead Things Are© by T.L. Gray  – Part One

My Mama once told me, “If a man only wants to see you when the sun goes down, he’s a vampire. Baby, run away. He’ll bite you, leave you all mesmerized until he drains you of everything that makes you alive, and then he’ll toss you into his collection of other dead things.” She told me that once while braiding my hair. I remember looking into a dirty, smoke-stained mirror, watching vacant eyes stare off at nothing with a cigarette hanging out the side of pale thin lips. I can still see those small jagged lines along the edges displaying leftover bits of dark red lip stick. She looked younger when she smiled, but she hardly ever smiled.

Of course, my wild imaginative mind took the story literally to heart and in my youthful naivety found myself fascinated with the supernatural; vampires especially. Then after Mama died a few years later, I became obsessed with stories about death. However, I look back on that moment and realize she wasn’t talking about vampires at all, not really. I never thought Mama had much sense, but as I’ve met my own sort of vampire and found myself struggling to climb out of this cavernous pit of death, I now realize she was much deeper than I ever gave her credit.

Looking down at the shimmering Vodka, I see my dark red lipstick mark along the glass lip and can’t stop Mama’s words from echoing in the deep part of my mind. How did I get here? When did I lose myself and turn into Mama? Where had my soul gone? Will I find it among all the dead things?

I can tell you the exact moment, the particular hour, the definitive minute everything changed. It all started with the sound of tires slowly crunching over gravel as he pulled into my driveway. My heart started beating so fast I thought it would literally jump out my chest. It sounded too loud and I wondered if he’d be able to hear it. I quickly checked my underarms for moisture, because I was nervous as a chicken in a fox hole. My body may have been hot, but thank goodness I was dry and smelled like fresh flowers. My cinnamon breath caught as I gasped, almost letting out a small squeal as I heard the car door open and then close again. I never heard the engine at all. It’s like he floated in on a dream.

With shaky legs, I walked out the French doors that led to my patio-porch, and then to the privacy gate. He’d parked his car just on the other side. I could see the light green hue of his exterior between the fence slats before I caught a glimpse of him. It was only a slither of a glance of one of his long, bronze skinny legs sticking out a pair of basketball shorts, but I was transfixed. I tried to calm my breath as I opened the gate, but there was no controlling it. I’d lost it completely. It evaporated from my lungs altogether when my gaze locked onto those dark, brown, mesmerizing eyes and that soft crooked smile. The setting sun behind me cast a golden spotlight on his beautiful caramel skin, highlighting his chiseled face, full lips, and aura of authority. He looked like a god bathed in glory and I felt myself wanting to fall to my knees in worship. I mean I literally felt like falling when my knees suddenly buckled beneath me. I had to grab the wooden gate to keep the ground from jumping up and slapping me in the face.

Sometimes I wonder if he knew the effect he had on me. I doubted it, but I often wondered, still do. He always had a way of bringing the hidden things out of me, and reflecting my own image back at me when I tried so hard to focus on his. He didn’t have one. He was a mystery, yet something I understood without words, without explanation, and I loved him deeply. I still do. But he left me where the dead things are, tossed me to the side once he’d drained me of all the vibrant life I had once held. But I’m not without hope, not without magic. That’s what’s brought me to this bar in the middle of nowhere. I’m trying to escape, trying to save the last bit of my soul, trying to put some distance between me and him so that I may one day find the strength to resist him, breaking the power he has over me, and crawl out of this place of dead things. He doesn’t want me, but doesn’t want to let me go either.

I threw back the shot of vodka, feeling the burn all the way down my throat and settle into the emptiness of my stomach. Alcohol on an empty stomach always hurt, but it also helped the numbness rush in faster. I glanced down at my watch and realized the sun had surely already set outside. I needed to be on my way. He’d be able to find me. If he ever found me, I know I’d never have the strength to resist him. I pulled the small wad of twenty dollar bills I’d kept in my front jeans pocket. Slapped one down on the bar and then threw back the last of three shots I’d ordered. I wiped my soft lips with the back of my shaking hand and walked out of that dead place filled with other dead people, into a city where all the dead things are. Yet, I’m a survivor, and though too faint to hear, my heart still beats.





Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, Life, love, Short Story, T.L. Gray, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m Gourmet, Not Buffet

Im Gourmet not Buffet

You know, I seriously think buffets are not a good thing. Having too many choices, with no limit to amount or portion is never a good thing.  Our bodies are wonderful, beautiful, extraordinary machines and they have mechanical parts that work in a particular fashion. While some of us have different types of engines, different amenities, different options, we all function on a similar and foundational basis.  Use the wrong fuel and parts of us will break down, we will become dysfunctional, defective, and damaged. Having access of a buffet requires self-control, discipline, determination and a desire to love yourself and love your body more than the choices displayed in front of you.

The same goes for relationships.  There are so many choices out there, a smorgasbord of options, I’m beginning to wonder where is the self-control required to maintain a healthy relationship, a healthy interaction?  Nobody is perfect. There will never be a perfect display, loaded with all the choices someone thinks they want in a partner, and then have all those options in perfect display, perfect condition, cooked perfectly to our taste.  If you believe that perfect person exists, you’re a bigger fool than the obese patron of a buffet thinking they’re eating responsibly.

If you find a partner that has that perfect beautiful body you desire, what of their heart, what of their mind, what of their passion, what of their health, what of their faith, what of their fears, what of their faults, what of their skeletons, what of their triggers? I watch so many unbalanced relationships start and fail because the selection was made on first sight.  Just because it looks good and tastes good, it doesn’t mean it is good and not spoiled or rotten in the center, and will poison you. However, just because something looks healthy, doesn’t mean it isn’t filled with toxins or chemicals that will destroy more than it will fix. Just because something looks terrible, doesn’t mean it’s wholesome or tastes good. Come on, people… you’ve got to look deeper than the presentation.  I can cook a meal and make it look like a million-dollar five-star gourmet delight, but be tasteless or smell like heaven but will send you to hell.  Get your fucking heads out of the gutter.  Stop watching your romance movies, reading your romance novels, and watching porn and being disappointed with the world and in the beautiful person right in front of you. Guess what? We are ALL faulty, but it doesn’t mean we can’t be beautiful, healthy, and something good in this world.

I used to desire that hot, fast, muscled Mustang, but I’ve come to appreciate and love my dependable Focus. Don’t get me wrong, feeling the vibration of that muscle car humming with all its raw power is hot, but I’m a little deeper than that now and I need more than muscle to meet my needs. I stay away from buffets and instead only buy what’s good for me, healthy for me, and for my betterment.  I drive past the fast food restaurants and enjoy the art of cooking.  I don’t test my self-control by not placing myself in the path of having to make that decision. In return enjoy the life that makes my soul sing. I am able to hike and enjoy nature. I feel better, healthy, and strong.  I have strength to fight off infection.  While my body is riddled with flaws, scars, flab, some wrinkles and the beginning of graying hair… I’m beautiful.  I’ll never be a porn star, but I can make beautiful love to my man. I’ll never win a beauty contest, but I’ll love my partner with a beauty that can’t be judged. When I give my heart, I give also my support, my love, my devotion, my hopes, my dreams… and I pick up their heart, their support, their love, their devotion, their hopes, and their dreams.

Our buffet minds have destroyed so many relationships.  When life get tough, and it does get tough – it’s fucking life – we have too many other choices in front of us to stick with the original choice we made. We’ve lied to ourselves thinking that maybe the next selection, or the next bite will taste better, so we pile our plates full of a little bit of everything and anything, yet truly appreciate nothing.  But, if we have ONE beautifully plated, beautifully seasoned dish, we now have a chance to savor it, appreciate it, enjoy it, and truly taste it for the beauty it is. It’ll change our lives and make our love bloom to unimaginable heights.

Have you never wondered why there is little food on a five-star dish? Because that chef put his skill, his love, his talent, and his devotion into his dish, and he wants you to enjoy, appreciate and love what he’s created. He wants that dish to be the star of the meal… not lost among gross portions.  It’s not how much you have, but the fine quality of what you have.  I’m sorry, but I’m gourmet, not buffet.  I’m a delicious dish that deserves my own beautiful plate. I’m not something to be piled upon by everything and anything.  I’m classy.  But, don’t think I’m snobbish, snooty, or have to have expensive. Don’t mistake expensive for quality.  There is just as much crap on an expensive buffet as there is on a cheap one, the difference is only in the packaging.

Listen to me.  Being in a relationship is about sharing who you are, all of who you are with your partner.  Share your body. Share your mind. Share your hopes. Share your dreams. Share your problems. Share your failures. Share your mistakes. Share your fears. Share your doubts. Share your gifts. Share your fork. Share your kisses. Share your touch. Share your words. Share your silence.  I don’t care what dirty laundry you have – we all have dirty laundry. Let’s wash it together.  Physical problems, let me help encourage you, as you encourage me.  Financial problems, let’s make a plan and both pick up a shovel. Emotional problems, let’s talk about it together, heal together. That’s what a relationship is about – quality – not packaging, display, or quantity.  Let me love you. Dare to love me. Let’s avoid the buffet and concentrate on making one hell of a beautiful dish – together.  We might have to start over again and again, choose some different ingredients as we discover what works and what doesn’t, and try some different seasonings until we find the right combination we both will enjoy and savor. It’s worth it.

But if you can’t, if you can’t make the effort, or have no self-control and can’t stop thinking and desiring the cheap substance of a buffet, then keep moving. I won’t be, no, I CAN’T be part of a buffet.  I’m gourmet.

Till next time,

~Filet Mignon

Categories: Blog Post, blogging, Health & Fitness, Hope, Life, love, Muses, Philosophy, relationship, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Faith, Hope and Love

Faith, Hope and Love


Faith, hope and Love

Life has a funny way of sometimes jumping forward, pulling you back, or getting stuck in the present that you can’t move in either direction.  That complexity is what makes it life.  If everything worked the way we thought it should, or our thoughts always went in a forward momentum, or our hearts always moved in a particular direction, we wouldn’t be the complicated human beings we’ve turned out to be.  We’d be happy plastic people.  Isn’t that the way the song goes? We’d be strong in faith, solid in hope, and brimming with love, right?

Anyway, we are complicated, complexed, and often confused.  We are taught morals and values that create walls and boxes, and when life doesn’t go according to plan, we often crumble inside those boxes, doubting ourselves and becoming weak in faith, void of hope, and empty in love.

I was thinking about God and family this morning.  Well, how religion often portrays God, really.  I thought about the scripture in Philippians 4, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything through prayer and supplication make your requests known to God… “, and I remembered being told more times than I can count not to worry about things, that God is watching out for me, He’s got me in his protection, and He’d make a way for me, to protect me; that my worry was detrimental and contrary to my faith.  I’ve always wondered at those who would quote this scripture to me, if they’d ever suffered any real loss, any real tragedy, any real heartbreak, any real disappointment, any real set back or failure, because I had.  For many years I felt weak in my faith because I still worried about the things that threatened my welfare, my children, my family, or the life I was trying to provide for them.  Yet when I expressed those worries or fears, told with a smile NOT to worry, to have faith, to trust God would see me through it. Yeah, like all the things I already went through, that’s what I feared.  Many of those things I worried about happened no matter my faith.  Instead of feeling the strength I had often felt growing up in a severely abusive childhood, I felt like a failure, weak, and a disappointment to a god that was supposed to love and protect me.  But it’s easy to talk warfare when you’ve never been in true battle. It’s easy to talk of a father’s love if you’ve never known a father’s love.  But, what of us orphans who never knew love, never had a father to protect us, but a father from whom we needed protection? What of a soldier on the battlefield of life, one that’s seen the brutality of war, the ugliness of mankind? How can we ask them not to be afraid?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the past, not really the experiences I’ve had, but the woman I used to be.  I was strong, but so lost.  I was damaged, yet impenetrable.  But what’s changing for me now is love.  I’ve known love, but I didn’t quite know how to accept it.  I’ve loved deeply, but I didn’t know how to express it.  I’d like to say it’s because of the love that’s growing for my Dominican Marine that’s creating/inspiring this new outlook, and perhaps that’s part of it, but it’s more of the love I’m receiving from him, from my best friends Jenna and Kenny, from my kids, but mostly it’s from the love I’m receiving for and from myself.

I heard my ex-husband is getting remarried.  I’m happy for him, because I’ve only ever wanted him to find and feel love.  Everyone knew we married for convenience, to fulfill responsibility, and I could never be the woman he wanted, the woman he loved, and he often made sure I was reminded I was not wanted, or desired, or acceptable.  I am not without blame, because I always knew I was never in love with him either, though I respected and was faithful to him, I couldn’t give him the love he needed. What hurt most in our divorce wasn’t our separation, because now we both had an opportunity to find the love we desired, but the loss and separation of family.  His family was my family for two decades, and really the only real family I ever knew.  His parents were the only parents I ever really had and I loved them dearly. Still do. I miss them. Now they’ll have a new daughter and I hope it’s one they can be proud to love.  The bond I have with my natural brothers isn’t one of love, but one of survivorship, and while that bond brings us together and keeps us connected on some level, it’s also the foundation of the huge wall that keeps us separated, well… that and the lying, stealing, cheating, drugs, etc. My kids love me, but they don’t need me, and they’re getting on with their lives knowing they don’t have to worry about me. I loved them more than myself and only hope they understood and felt that love from me. I often fear I damaged them because of my own lack of being able to show what was inside beneath my thick armor.

I am a vagabond, a woman without a home, without a people, without a family, yet I am a very blessed woman because I am rich in love, in friendships, and in faith.  While I worry about the cares of this world, I am not afraid. Not because I cling to a scripture, to a promise, or to a faith in a god to protect me, or a man to save me.  I cling to a knowledge that shit happens, but I’m strong and I’ll overcome it, and I’m not alone, because LOVE is with me.  God is love.  God is with me. I love me. I love my kids. I love my friends. I love my Dominican. That love … that love is my strength.  That love helps me heal from a past, gives me hope for my future, and surrounds me as I walk through my present… in all its complexity and simplicity.  Faith is good. Hope is beautiful.  But, love is the greatest of all these things.

Till next time,

~ Love’s Lover

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Somewhere in the Middle

Somewhere in the Middle

I tried to find a word to capture my current feeling, this overwhelming, yet underwhelming lack of expression for a place somewhere in the middle, but I can’t quite capture it.  I even asked one of my highly intelligent friends for a word to express a median and they couldn’t come up with one either.  It seems we are hard wired to think in extremes, always looking for that heightened or lack of feeling, but what we often experience on a day to day basis lies somewhere in the middle, and that’s normal.  Yet, we think normal is depressing or non-essential.  As a writer, one would think we always need to feel those polar extremes to write better, but that’s not true.  What we should be able to capture is every level, every plane, every degree, every color on the spectrum.

So, why am I thinking of mediums this morning?  Well, because my over-thinking, over-imaginative, over-complicated mind (get the idea?) is trying to evaluate, to be introspective about the current relationship I’m involved with my Dominican Marine.  Some moments I have these bouts of clarity and think, Wow, I’ve met an incredibly wonderful man and I can feel the love and admiration, and I can see a life with him.  Not a fantasy, but a real life, full of struggles and obstacles, but standing side by side with each other as we navigate.  I suppose I found an adventure partner.  And other times I think, Oh, shit… now what?  Will I be able to stick this out or will I get scared and slip into my running shoes because I’ve worked too hard to find myself?  I don’t want to be on either end of that stick, but I need those ends to keep me balanced. I don’t want to lose myself into someone else again, forget who I am as a woman, forget and forgo my own wants, needs, and dreams in order to fulfill theirs, and yet at the same time I don’t want to get so consumed in protecting the long list of personal goals and wants that I don’t make room for him and his.  It’s about finding a balance somewhere in the middle, like a bubble finds the medium mark when it’s leveled.

So, here I find myself living between hope and fear, love and indifference, want and need.  It’s okay to have them all, but it can get confusing if they’re experienced out of balance. One of my best friends is an 18-year old named Kenny who still yet has to discover life, love and heartbreak, and part of me envies his journey, but at the same time I am so glad I’ve already climbed those mountains.  I also had a conversation with a 23-year old young man named Jordan at work yesterday, and hearing his doubts fight against his wants, his ideas against his morals, his hopes for a future against the reality of the present, made me smile because I realized I already know what I want when it comes to a relationship, I’ve already discovered for myself all the things he’s trying to discover now.  My only fear at the moment is if what I want is compatible to what my Dominican Marine wants, and that answer is going to be found somewhere in the middle.

Yes, I’m still afraid and some days find it hard to breathe because love has a devastating way of being very elusive.  At the same time, I’m finding myself beginning to dare to hope that maybe love has finally found me.  In the meantime, I’m just going to enjoy being right here in the middle of them both. Got any popcorn?

Till next time,

~The Bubble in the Middle

Categories: Blog Post, blogging, friends, Hope, Inspirational, Life, love, Philosophy, Relationships, Romantic, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Let Me Count the Ways


Let Me Count the Ways


The older I get, the more I look back on life with a little more perspective, and the more I see things differently than I did in my wild, younger days.  Well, that’s really a lot of bullshit, because I never really had wild, younger days.  I had the misfortune of being bogged down with adult responsibilities since before I could talk.  However, I had wild, youthful notions through inexperience and naivety, especially when it came to love.

Having a conversation with a very close friend last night about love, about being in love, about responsibility and accountability, it reminded me of the things I loved most about the people I have loved, and even some I continue to love today.  Why do we love the people in our lives?  It reminds me of the practice of picking a daisy and plucking the petals with “he loves me, he loves me not”, or some lame poetic utterance of, “Oh, how I love thee… let me count the ways.”  Really, what are those ways?  What are the things that we truly fall in love with about someone else?

I’d like to say that in my past relationships that I fell in love with a heroic act, that my superman swooped in and saved the planet, saved me from uncertain death, or saved me from unhappiness, abuse, or a life depraved.  But, I can’t say that, because no one ever saved me from anything.  I have fallen in love, only in different ways, for different things.  It was never for those big reasons, or even for those shallow ones like sex, physical features, money or fame.  No, NONE of those things ever seduced me.  It was cleverness, compassion, thoughtfulness and nerdiness that stole my heart.  Deep conversations, wild speculations, imaginative curiosity, individual reflection, courage, passion, and confidence… oh, let me count the ways.

Touching is nice.  Sex is fantastic. Chemistry, fire, passion… they all burn hot, and it’s all good.  But, it’s playing trivia, sharing a song, contemplating deep thoughts, debating philosophy, sharing nerdy passions like a favorite movie, tv show or video game, sending silly memes, talking about embarrassing moments, texting me when someone does something to make you angry or happy, sharing dumb jokes, podcasts, videos, or just the everyday things, etc.  THESE are the ways that steal my heart. These are the moments that are remembered and cherished.  Passions fade.  Bodies get old.  Things rust.  But, moments of love… those are the ways that last forever.

Till next time,

~Petal Plucker


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Looking for Love

Looking for Love


Life’s a little crazy sometimes.  Well, for me, it seems like it’s crazy all the time.  But, isn’t that what we all think?  While we believe we’re unique and individual, aren’t we really pretty much the same, with the same needs, the same wants, the same desires?  The only differences lie within the degree of each?  Who knows? I may be wrong in that assumption.  I can’t really speak for anyone else, only for myself, and in that… these are my individual wants, my own selfish needs, my own personal desires.  What do I really want right now in the middle of my crazy life?  What is it I’m looking for?  I suppose it’s the same thing I’ve been looking for all my life… I’m looking for love.

I have love in my life, have had love in my life, and am sure I’ll have new love in the days to come.  I’m loved by my kids, by my friends, and maybe even loved by a man or two.  But, am I in love?  Maybe, maybe not.  I’m too damned scared to know, or too damned scared to try.  The last guy I fell in love with, I fell hard, and I fell deep, and I fell on my ass because he didn’t fall with me.  Hitting the ground after such a huge leap leaves a person scared to jump again no matter how much they want, no matter how much they desire to feel the rush of falling, the excitement of dreaming, and the hope of a future.  But I want it.

I have a lot of love to give, but I also have a huge empty space inside that I desire to fill.  I’ve made room for friends, I’ve made room for family, I’ve made room for the things in life and the dreams I dream, but I want to make room for someone that I can share that life, those hopes, and dreams.  Last year, I closed that room when I thought I was going to die.  It’s been a long road back to approaching that door, and having the courage to reach for the handle and throw it open.  It’s been hard.  It’s been scary.  No, it’s been terrifying. But I did it.  With the love and support of my dear friends, I’ve once again grabbed that zest, that desire, that hope to live.  That part of me that was ‘living out loud’ is beginning to hear the music again.  It’s been one hell of a climb back up the mountain.  I’ve had some very steep parts that I was only able to hang onto by the tips of my fingers and pull my whole weight as I struggled to find a foothold.  But, I’ve made it.  Love helped me.  Love guided me.  Love lifted me, when I couldn’t lift myself. Ah, dang it, now I have that stupid song stuck in my head, “love lifts us up where we belong…” And now… now I have something to share and something to give.  But, oh Mylanta, am I afraid.  I’m so scared I’m trembling.

What if I fall again?  What if I jump and find myself hitting the bottom on my own? What if, like another song I know, I find myself looking for love in all the wrong places?  It seems I’m drawn to the weird, the awkward, the damaged, the broken, those who’ve been in the trenches and carry the scars, those that have walls as thick as my own, if not thicker, or to the impossible, the improbable, or the forgotten.  I’ve never chosen the easy way, but damned… for once can’t it be easy?  I think that’s why I love fairy tales and superhero stories so much… though they have great obstacles to overcome, everything always works out in the end.  So, I keep hoping that someday it’s time for my story, my fairy tale, my day to shine… and love will come looking for me.

Till next time,

Princess of Impossible Dreams


Categories: Blog Post, Hope, Hurt, Inspirational, Life, love, Muses, Musings, Philosophy, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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