And so ends the intentionally quiet YEAR.   Leave a comment

Happy new year to all our friends, family and followers.

Last year, I intentionally kept quieter than normal because I had a year of a lot of self reflection.

All bets are off.

We’ll be posting our “week in review” starting tomorrow and will update you all every Sunday.

It will start with our 2011 New Years letter.


Posted January 1, 2011 by A MUSE in Uncategorized


AUGUST 2009 – AUGUST 2010…what a year it’s been.

Today marks 1 year since our favorite pizza place in Knoxville opened it’s doors.  In fact, I can hardly believe that we were there…on opening day, last year and later penned this happy review.  Today, we returned to our beloved Hard Knox for an anniversary celebration of a business that beat the odds and opened during the great recession.  We are still in love with their pizza, the people who own it and work there and we are honored to bring friends and guests to our foodie-home in K-town.  While dining on the luscious Sweet Pea pie tonight, it occurred to me that this “year around the sun” was actually a game-changer year for the Jim and I.  Looking back, I’m just so happy to look forward.

Let’s review…

A year ago today, August 8th, 2009, we met Dean and Jill the proprietors of Hard Knox and developed a love affair with wood-fired, privately-owned, kick-ass pizza.  We gradually became regulars and had the genuine pleasure of getting to know these marvelous people.  In fact, I respect them both (and a lot of their terrific staff), so much that one day, I hope to cook for them…just to return the favor for all the delicious meals they’ve made me this year.  I learned that more whole-food based food could be luscious and not grainy and loaded with sprouts.  Now, they’re a weekly ritual and a staple in my diet.

Then in September, I had the fall that pretty much made me realize that I needed to do what I love.  On September 20th, I penned this note to my friends and family via the book of Face:

“In case any of you, my friends have been reading my posts since Thursday, I wanted to fill you in on what’s going on with me and my health. It’s not glamorous, and it sucks.  I was on a business trip in South Carolina when on Thursday night, I stepped into the hotel room shower and slipped bringing my left hip and lower back slamming at full force onto the side of the tub as the rest of me hit the bathroom floor. I was 4 inches away from hitting my head on the toilet which would have knocked me out completely. I haven’t broke anything but I have done some level of damage to either my muscles, ligaments, or nerves in my back/left side of my butt. You’d think with having a big butt you’d have better cushioning?!

When I am completely still, I feel okay. When I try to move there is a searing and sharp pain in my back/butt that renders me immobile. I have to wait for whatever it is, spasms or something to stop before I can try to move again. Will have to see my PCP on Monday and hopefully we can schedule and MRI to figure out what’s causing the severe pain. The hospital in SC did nothing, just xrays and on your way. In Knoxville, at least they gave me a stronger pain killer (cause the one they gave me in SC did nothing to affect the pain), so I have pain killer, muscle relaxer (works almost nil), and now lidocain patches to try to numb the area. In the end, it sucks. I never ever imagined this happening and I’m pretty pissed off about it. I don’t do well just sitting still and not be able to get up and go without a major production. Jim has been a doll and has taken care of a lot for me. He’s been a blessing.

So here I am, sitting still and hating every minute of it. I mean, I got stuff to do!!!! And patience is certainly not one of my virtues. So, that’s the news…it sucks but hopefully I will be on the mend soon. At least I pray I will. All your well wishes and prayers are appreciated, I just want my life and body to go back to normal. That’s all.”

As my body began to heal I made a silent promise to myself that if I could walk without pain, I’d finally go back to dancing and I’d devote myself to the art form I love the best.  After pain medication followed by physical therapy, I was determined to find a home to teach and put some momentum behind my dream.  Then one day, while at Hard Knox, I picked up a Metro-Pulse and found an advertisement for a new dance studio in my extended neighborhood. The day I was released from PT, I made the call and I met Cynthia Turnage who was open to help me make my dreams come true.   On November 2nd, 2009, I penned this note:

“If you’re receiving this note, it’s because you’re a dear friend of mine and you’re local. Ladies, I hope you’ll consider taking a class each week:

Monday Nights from 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Beginning 11/9/09

SIZEMOLOGY: Dancing So Good, It’s Ground Shaking!

Dancing is good for EVERY body! My goal and mission is simple – offer dance classes in lyrically-rooted jazz, hip-hop, Broadway and ballet/contemporary styles taught by a larger-sized dance instructor (ME!). Focus on size acceptance (no matter what your size from small to large), and create a safe environment that makes every person feel energized, artistic and creative. Most importantly, help others who may not be a size 2 feel stunning and confident within their skin as they learn to love the art of dance; as I have for over 25 years.

Having a plus size dance instructor not only increases awareness of potential body limitations and concerns; but it helps to increase students confidence levels right from the start. Plus, it may lead to some pounds lost and that’s just an amazing side bonus!

Come right after work, dance your — off and be home in time for whatever the evening holds!

Taught By: Anna Rogers (ME!!!!)
$10.00 per class (payable on each class night – deals coming soon!)
@ Broadway Academy of Performing Arts and Event Center
706 Broadway
Knoxville, TN 37917
Parking behind, entry behind – old warehouse renovated inside and just granted revitalization grant to develop the exterior.

Email me for more details and to let me know if you’re considering coming out and shaking your groove thing each Monday with me! This is a dream come true for me to really start teaching again here in my adult hometown of Knoxville. Call if you want too – I’m just giddy beyond belief!”

I started teaching with my core group of friends who were so gracious in supporting my dreams and I thank Allison, Heather, Laura and all the people who came out that first month to shake it with me.  Without you, I don’t know if I would have kept going when the going went tough.

In December, I decided to finally change my life so I could do more with my dancing and hopefully live life beyond the age of 58 when my beloved Mother decided to “check out” (I miss her every single day).  So, I penned this missive on 12/27/10 on OpenSalon:

“Countdown to starting over, yet again. Seriously, I have restarted so many times that I’d have to own a champagne making facility in order to keep up with the Christening demands.  Alas, as I prepare to make some large changes in 2010, I recognize that one of the first steps in changing is to acknowledge who we are…right now.  I think I learned that in Psych 101 or Counseling Principals.  So what is my reality and do I really need to look at it, in order to change it?  Okay…fine.

Recently a friend of a friend, who’s met me twice and doesn’t know me well enough yet pointed out to primary friend that I, “keep people at a distance”.  Ummm…perceptive buggar aren’t you?  Yes, I do.  I think I do it because it feels safer than letting people get too close and it prevents the risk of feeling let-down later.  Perhaps I do it because I don’t like myself enough to think other people will like me?  To be honest, I’m not sure where that trend comes from but hopefully I’ll figure that out.  I hate that I’m in my mid-thirties trying to figure out the roots of two fundamental flaws in my life: connection and commitment; but I have to try…as much as it hurts and as hard as it will be to try to change my own tune.

Part of my reality is that I am mostly just trying to find my niche in this life.  After all, where does anyone truly “fit in” in this overexposed world (she queries as she’s blogging – ahem).  I’m not sure.  Does anyone out there really feel like they “fit” somewhere?  How did you get there and does it involve any magic spell or instant solution pill?  If so, I’m willing to plonk some money down to get it.  However, the traveling medicine shows have stopped coming to town…they’re only around during the early morning or late nights and involve loud screaming people on TV who want to covince you that a Snuggie will solve your problems or the ab-rocker will truly rock your world.

Back to the reality at hand. Unfortunately, I am a woman of extremes.  I am often all or nothing when it comes to myself, my likes and my relationships.  I am excessive, and I pretend that I am trying to find balance.  Truth is, that when I like something, I like it a little too much.  When I was younger, I used to live by the motto: “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.”  My interests are varied, yet I pretend they run along a common theme (if you can find it).  I’m married.  I’m a Mum to four-legged furkids only and am fearful that I won’t ever become a real Mum.  I’m selfish sometimes, but I’d give away the house if I thought it would bring people closer to me.  At times I feel like a 35 year old enigma.

So, why am I here?  Well, I’m a dancer at heart, but I’m a bit too “fluffy” to have made any profession of it.  I’m a fat girl, and no matter how much weight I lose, I’ll still be descended from German roots and will have to learn to cope with having curves.  At this point, I vacillate between trying to embrace my thickness while occasionally launching an all-out assault against it.  At this point I know that I weigh over 300 pounds (gasp – did I really put that down).  While I don’t see it when I look in the mirror, I always seem shocked when I look at photos and videos of my plumpy chunk.  My hope is to get down to a still fluffy, but more fit and confident 200 pounds.  I know I will still tilt the scales, but over 100 pounds to lose is still worth the effort.   I also think that being fat is part of my strategy for keeping people at bay, although I’m not 100% sure how.  I have some ideas, but let me get to that later.

Overall the goal is to add some positives into my life, learn to reconnect with people in my life, reduce some of my self-destructive tendencies and feel more comfortable in my own skin.    I’m still working out exactly what that will entail and I can assure you that in this blog I will encounter many a false start.  My only hope is that I can pick myself up and get back on with the fight.  I will write about a process of changing, even when life gets in the way (because I know for a fact that it will).  I am a work in progress.  I am random.  I am open to suggestion.

That is where I’m beginning.  It is a scratching of the surface for sure, but much like a crust on a creme brulee, now that it’s cracked, we can dig into the luscious, creamy goodness that is delicious and probably bad for you in the long run.  We shall see.

5 days to go before some real changing begins…”

What I didn’t know was how much my life really would change…and for the better.  In fact, January brought me closer with the breath of fresh air that gave me a soul sister named Tere.  She walked into that dance studio and took a SIZEMOLOGY class (which she mentioned in this note).  I encouraged her to dance with me and a TROUPE was born with a performance at the snowy Healthy Living Expo 2010.  Tere is a wonderous tower of power to me.  She’s a Mom of two grown kids who I think are just incredible people.  She’s a foodie, a photographer of amazing talent, a fellow traveler on this self-care road, a woman of depth and hilarity that now I cannot envision my life without.

Then February brought me the most incredible Nineette, a quiet woman with brightly colored hair.  She started taking classes with us and much like the blossoming of a flower I saw her grow as a dancer and allow her petals to open up gradually unleashing a woman of unbelievable sassiness, classiness and fire.  She’s like another sister I never had!  She’s a developing photographer who’s really coming into her own and a woman of great inner strength.  She’s the quiet storm that can tear it all down or cleanse the land so that new growth can happen.

Then I met the insanely amazing, sweet little psycho, Kisa von Teasa who single-handedly got me to realize that I did not have to live my life as a door-mat. I could be strong and self-assured.  I immediately felt she was inevitably going to be someone that I would learn big things from…which I am indeed (but more about that later).  Kisa is a retro-hot, goth-based goddess of burlesque who could take you down with a snap of her fingers.  She’s a kung-fu fighter who’s becoming a sizzle-queen dancer right before my eyes.  She’s a missing spice in my cupboard and now that I know she exists, my dishes will never be the same.

Through Kisa, I met the amazing Angie Collins, who got me to believe in possibility and the ability to shine: “even if you think it’s wrong”.  I took yoga and liked it, I learned that people good exude genuine goodness and light (happy birthday, btw).  I learned that being uptight makes me hard to get to know.  Loosen it up.  Let it go.  Let it be.  The Jim was the first one of us to embrace that vision as he sat behind those drums on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.  His joy in those videos is contageous.

That philosophy only finally took hold after June brought me through a breakdown which I know lovingly call my BREAKTHROUGH.  While I’m still sorting out how to journey forth, I’ve realized how much one year can change EVERYTHING.  Without the good, the bad, the hope, and despair this year I don’t think I could be where I am now.  I love the women I’ve met through my dance classes who all have a SPECIAL place in my heart and I look forward to seeing each time they walk through those doors.  I’m letting go, and learning more about my life and loving every minute of it.  I’ve found my home with my husband here in Knoxville and feel connected to the pulse of this scruffy little city.  I have a group of friends that I love more than I could ever express and have long-standing friends that I realize are deeply important to me.  I have lost 47 pounds of weight, and found tons of joy.

In the end, happy anniversary to a year of wonder and I am so excited to keep moving forward no matter what the road has ahead.  Oh, and to commemorate this moment, I invite you to enjoy the band that my husband finally got me to actually listen to this weekend:


Anyone who knows me personally knows that I’m a huge fan of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and my hubby is a big fan too.  In fact last August, I even posted about my love of the show HERE.  When we went up home in December 2009, I was so hopeful we would get tickets for a taping of the show, but it was not in the cards for that time.  So knowing we’d return up north for a visit with my family I literally called the LNJF show ticket line EVERY single day starting in March just waiting for the day they’d announce tickets were available for the week that the Jim and I would be in NYC.  Finally on May 3rd, after calling early in the day and no new dates were announced, I decided to call right after lunch…just in case.  BAM!  The tickets for the week we were scheduled to be up north WERE available and I anxiously spoke with the nice gent at the NBC ticketing line who asked me what night that week I’d like tickets for.  I had Wednesday in my mind since we were already planning to see a play in town on Tuesday.  I scored two tickets for the hubby and me and let everyone I know, know that they should tune in on June 9th (show actually airs at 12:30 PM EST, so it really aired on June 10th), to see if they could catch a glimpse of us in the audience.  Oh….what I didn’t know.

I prepped all week for the vacation and even purchased “Here I Come” by the Roots featured on the Superbad Soundtrack which I used in my dance class warm-ups this week in honor of my journey home and my big date with Late Night (that song is where the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’s theme song comes from…pure awesomeness).  I was excited and just so stoked to see a show I love produced live in front of me.  People were sick of me talking about it.  I didn’t care. It was my dream and I was giddy.

So the big day came, and I was hyper-focused as usual the day of the show to make sure we were ready to check in for the show with our confirmation email to assure we’d be in the audience (there are no guarantees).  In fact, we pretty much spent the day hanging out around Rockefeller Center so we could be in line for check in at 3 PM.  I asked about 6 NBC people where to go, and when.  We even ate downstairs in 30 Rock at PRET which is a sandwich shop.  I got excited because I saw Owen Biddle (the Roots bass guitarist), in there.  After much milling about, it was time and we cued up for check in.

As we stood in line, I overheard one of the producers asking people in front of us if anyone was a “musician”.  I quickly turned to the Jim and said, “Hey, they’re asking for musicians…looks like they’re doing ‘Battle of the Instant Bands’ tonight!”  I was excited but a bit of me immediately thought, “Oh well, Jim might be able to play a little something on keyboards – but they don’t use keyboards on this segment.” So, imagine my surprise when that producer reached us and the Jim said, “Yeah…I’m a drummer.”


I mean I knew he  (self-proclaimed), dinks around on the drums but I couldn’t recall a time I’ve ever seen him rock out behind a set.  I’ve seen him sit behind one and DINK.  He did take lessons when he was younger, I knew this.  His father was a drummer too.  He seemed confident and I immediately felt worried.  We were asked to come see the production assistant after we checked in and got our wrist bands we went over to talk about Jim and his drumming.  So we were asked to come back in about 45 minutes to see if he’d even be in the running.  There are two bands, 4 people a piece.  What are the chances right?

So we quick went to use the restrooms and prepare for our return.  The Jim had a calm I’ve never seen.  Immediately, Anna the worry-wart started asking questions, “You know this is playing drums with a band. A BAND BAND. Not just dinking around at home.  A real BAND…and you’re going to have to come up with a SONG.  I mean, can you do this?”  “Yup.” he replied back.  It was calming, and at some point I realized, this is on him.  He will sink or swim, and I will support him no matter what.  So, we returned at 3:45 and he went to stand in line with the 20 or so hopeful band mates.  I quickly started chatting with a wife of one of the other hopeful band mates and the daughter of another.  We chatted and I enjoyed meeting these great ladies; one from Oklahoma City, OK and from Oyster Bay nearby.  When I talked with my Jim next, he kissed me, handed me the cheap umbrella we had purchased to get through the rainy day, and a quick comment was whispered in my ear, “I love you…and I’m in band 2.”


And now, for a once in a while treat, I will allow my Jim to take over and blog about the experience. See you back at the end!


Uhh..I don’t normally do this kind of thing but here goes.  They put us into groups of drummers, guitarists, bassists, and vocals.  A producer from the show came over and started asking each of us how long we had been playing drums.  I told him on and off 20 years.  Now,  this is not a lie but it was definitely more off than on.  My father is a drummer and I did take a few lessons back in high school.  I have gotten used to playing drums on the keyboard.  So…I was told to go over to the wall and stand there.  Soon I met Danny, the guitar player then Tim the bassist.  Soon we got Justin to be our vocalist.  We were rushed upstairs to get our face pictures for the album cover.  We saw that the picture was a group of women water skiing in formation.  We were told we needed a band name in a few minutes.  I blurted out J and the Aquanets.  The rest of the guys seemed to like it.  The producer said that it would work.  It did go with the album cover we had.  Justin goes by J most of the time (if I remember right) and it just worked for all of us in the very short time we had to make a name.

We were put into a small and HOT room with instruments and lights (down by the SNL set!!!).  That’s where we had 20 minutes to make up a song and give it a title.  We decided on a 12 bar blues song since it was quick to get going with a structure.  Justin was flying on making up lyrics and Tim, Dan, and I were working on the arrangement.  We were then told by the producer that the song had to be around 30 to 40 seconds.  We timed what we had already and it was over by a few seconds.  We told Justin that he didn’t need to go into a second verse and then we sped up the tempo.  In hindsight the speed change made it sound more like 1950’s rock-a-billy tune.  That was good for the energy put out for the crowd.  The producer came in to listen to us and gave us some tips that he said worked for people in past shows.  We took his advice and made a less complicated ending.

We were soon rushed into elevators down to the stage level and waited until we were told to go out on stage.  Dan and I were given the task of saying the band name and song name to Jimmy.  We go out on stage and there are The Roots banging it hard.  I told myself I needed to hit harder on the drums to sound somewhat decent.  We go through the bit of introductions and there seemed to be some Knoxville or Tennessee fans in the audience. So it’s time to get up on stage.  I had an electronic drum set in the practice room and here was a completely different feeling acoustic set.  I moved the hi-hat a bit and J started the count.

See PART ONE of the show segment HERE!

See PART TWO of the show segment and announcement of the winner HERE!

I loved how the kit felt and I was banging it hard.  I did not look to my left because if I saw ?uestlove I know I would have messed up.  I still can’t believe I was doing some drummer embellishments as I was playing.  You know the big, goofy faces and stuff.  A big jump at the end and we were done.  The other band went on then we were picked to win by the audience.  I won a drum set!  Amazing!  I also got a gift card to Guitar Center!  We were then signing papers and going upstairs and meeting Jessica Biel on the way.  We then sat in the back of the audience for the rest of the show.

I have to say that NBC is run like a well-oiled machine and everyone was very professional and nice to us.  It was such a cool experience to see the people doing their jobs so well.  It was amazing to see how fast they can do this show and yet keep it all together.  BTW,  We did not have to bring the drum set with us home.  They told me it would be shipped in a few weeks.

SO…I’m back.  When I was in the audience, they did a brief show of the bands practicing.  I said to the girl sitting next to me, and daughter of the drummer Joe from “Kiss My Grits”, “He actually looks like he knows what he’s doing.”  Then when the song began, I sat there. Mouth open.  Surprised.  I doubted him…I will never do so again.  It was a sensational experience, the show is incredible, the talent and the crew just spot on.  I must admit, I was jealous that my Jim got to shake Jimmy’s hand a few times and talk to him for a few seconds.  For a man, my husband who’s been talking, off and on for the last 7 years about one day, one day when we pay off all our debt, or we have the extra money (HA), he’d really like to get a drum set for the house.  Well, my love, you’ve earned it!

To Jimmy Fallon, The Legendary Roots Crew and the Production Staff at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon…thank you for making dreams come true. We LOVE New York!


The Jim and I just returned from vacation to Pennsylvania and NYC and had an amazing time.  So amazing, that we’ll blog about one particular moment of AMAZINGNESS soon…because we have to keep the memory while we are still fresh.

In the meantime, I’m still going to lay about and be a loungehound.

Just letting you know.

Posted June 13, 2010 by A MUSE in Uncategorized


Okay, I’m not exactly saying that if you’re a “gym person” you should abandon your health club.  I, however, am not a “gym person”.  I’ve been a member of a gym almost my whole adult life.  In fact, I consider that the donations I made in gym dues for other people to be healthy and fit, should earn me at least a plaque on a treadmill or something.  Seriously.  I always said the gym appeared to be my favorite charity.

Now as I reflect on the 31 pounds I have lost since I started my journey this year, I realize that I do not need the gym; but I DO need to DANCE.

I am blessed to be a part of the growth and journey of Broadway Academy of Performing Arts and Events Center.  I have started teaching again and I love being able to see my students learn how fun dance can be.  I especially love when 45 minutes of dancing can burn off over 500 calories.  I can be creative and sweaty.  I can dance and drop some pounds.  I can have fun and become fit in the process.  The important thing is to find these options that work for you and ones that are cost effective.  So what does my current schedule look like:

MONDAYS: SIZEMOLOGY Dance (Jazz & Hip-Hop = $10.00 per class with a discount if you buy a pack of classes.)

TUESDAYS: BELLYDANCING for Beginners ($10.00 per class)…and I still want to take the Tribal Bellydance too that night, but I need to find time to be home too.😦

WEDNESDAYS: ZUMBA!  ($10.00 per class with a discount if you buy a punch-card of 10 classes!)

THURSDAYS: I was taking TAP-N-BURN which ROCKS, but I need to take a hiatus and lose a bit more weight to be able to spring back without destroying things.  So I’m going to start a SIZEMOLOGY choreography class for 4 weeks at a time ($8.75 per class).

FRIDAYS (My day of rest.)

SATURDAYS: SIZEMOLOGY Dance (Yes, yes again…I do teach it actually.)

SUNDAYS: HOOP Dance…yes, big girls can hula hoop – you just need an appropriately sized hoop.  Those Wal-mart hoops won’t work; but I can hook you up with someone who can make it work for you…just click on the link and get the hoop-bug!

Now I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t sticking like glue to my Weight Watchers points.  I am!  At lot of that is because I have found the perfect WW leader who knows how to motivate everyone in her meetings…if you’re in Knoxville, you gotta try out Lynda with a Y. She’s just amazing.

So, now if you’re wondering how  I include strength training since I have a crapload of cardio?  Well there are ways around the whole gym thing…

Find a personal trainer that works with you, not against you. If you’re in Knoxville, I’d recommend (and I use), FRANKIE’S BODY SHOP.  You pay as you go with no contracts and no pressure.  Better yet, they understand if you can only afford to come 1 x a week or however you need to do it.  They work with you and your budget.  I love my trainer Michelle and she kicks my butt every week.  I’m learning stuff to do the other two days (I try to strength train at least 3 times a week); for those other days, I’d recommend getting a program like Power90, P90X or (God bless you if you can handle it), Insanity.  Find a TEAM BEACH BODY representative and get motivation and support.

Now, truthfully this whole concept WILL cost you more than a gym membership, but I always show up for this workout.  In addition, I’ve cut out eating out for lunch most days so I can adjust my budget.  This way of exercising works for me because it’s fun and meets my needs for creativity and artistry.  So, if you are a “gym person” and looking to add more excitement to your life – try a dance class.  If you’re a dancer, or always wanted to be one…find a place for you and find your self without two left feet.  If you’re not in Knoxville…I encourage you to find your creative workout outlet near you!   The Jim is always amazed at how I stick with it too.  It beats giving away my money contractually each month, and I might be more inclined to use the two fitness equipment items I have at home other than as a close-rack or a storage place for garage sale boxes.  Just sayin…it’s all about changing your life.


I live in a smaller city by most conventional standards.  Knoxville, Tennessee to be exact. While we’re famous for our University of Tennessee sports (Vols Football, Basketball and the Lady Vols), unfortunately our up-and-coming (culturally), college-town has made national headlines for reasons that are somewhat disheartening.  We’re making the front page of CNN and the New York Times for gun violence.

I understand that gun violence happens every day; typically on an individual or lesser scale.  However, over the past two years, Knoxville has made the headlines for the locations and intentions of its gun-violence: a church, a middle school, an elementary school, and now a hospital.  While it may seem to anyone living in a mass-market that these things just “happen” because of random acts of violence and vitriol perpetrated by the random whackadoo, when you live in a smaller city the effects often reverberate. Sadly, they sometimes feel too close to home.

Before anyone gets on me about their constitutional rights, I want to make myself perfectly clear. I come from a long line of hunters and a longer line of marksmen (militarily speaking).  I have always known about guns and gun safety.  I feel that any citizen should be able to own a gun, if they can do so responsibly and with the understanding of the powerful weapon of destruction and potential protection they hold in their hands.  So, I am not making a case here for doing away with guns.  In fact, as Eddie Izzard pointed out “Guns don’t kill people…people do; but the guns help.” I am writing this mostly to get it out of my head, because now it is doing nothing but adding toxic waste in my psyche.

What truly affects me deeply is knowing that someone who’s not from Knoxville and has only called Knoxville home for 8 years…I am connected to 3 of the above incidents in a “six degree of separation” way.  The church incident occurred when a man decided he was tired of liberals and their agenda and wanted to cause havoc in one of their sanctuaries; so in the summer of 2008 he entered into Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and opened fire during a children’s play.  That day a good man died.  His name was Greg.  I attended TVUUC and I learned more about Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace from the course that Greg taught. More importantly, Greg filled a void where my husband and I could not.  He and his lovely wife, who are sadly now both departed, fostered the same child that my husband and I tried to foster. They were connected to us through this youth and they tried to be the stability that we could not give.  That stability was shattered by a man with a gun.

The middle-school incident is a farther degree but still potent.  A young man decided to settle an issue with a classmate by taking a gun to school.  He was a relative of one of the youth that myself and a program I was working with, was helping at the time.  A program designed to help others make positive connections with adults.  Was there anyone helping this youth?  I don’t know.  I do know the effect it had on his relative.

Now, yesterday  a man went to Parkwest Hospital and shot three people.  The motives are still unclear (UPDATE: reportedly he was paranoid and mentally ill and believed a physician there implanted a monitoring device in him years ago when he had his appendix removed).  I have to admit with much disappointment in myself, that when I first heard about the shooting I dismissed it with a “Good Lord, here we go again.”  I assumed I would not know anyone connected to this incident so it was easier to be desensitized and disconnected at the time.  Until later that evening, the one victim who died on the spot turned out to be the best friend and roommate of one of my dear friends.  A woman who I had the pleasure to meet once, and someone who’s holiday dish towel I had yet to return.  Immediately I broke down realizing how deeply this incident affected someone I cared about deeply.  My friend had to return to their apartment knowing that she was gone.  Her name was Rachel and she was dearly loved by her family and friends.  The gravity of these situations is so crushing.

What can we do other than be there for those left behind?  Other than try very hard to stop the amount of negativity and scathing hatred that some people in the media seem to incite or encourage?  I understand that everyone will not always agree with someone else’s point of view; but why do we have to kill people to make that known on an atomic level?  Likewise, when do we stop stigmatizing mental illness and make mental health part of health care fully?  I know there are many who will send positive energy, vibes, and prayers to those affected by senseless violence…and I encourage us all to be reverent when we hear about people lost to that violence.  I also hope that people try to change things and help others more often.  I hope that people don’t close their eyes and that sometimes we consider the realities of living in connection with one another as family, community, country and world.  The degrees of separation are smaller than you think.


I have decided to keep it simple and really only blog in one spot…so I am going to be gradually moving over my weight loss blog to the Retro-Modern’s site.  It’s about time.  I own what I’m doing to lose weight and feel better and the Jim is a big, huge part of the journey too.  So just be ready…it’s back on folks!

So today was one of those days were I truly felt like I did what seems a “long” time ago (December 2009), I had a stressful day and I wanted to eat something truly horrible.  Best news of the day is that I didn’t. The Jim just ran out to get us some…


“Five Dollar.”

“Five Dollar Foot Longs.”

(Sorry for the song now that’s stuck in your head).

Truth is that it’s been a very rough day. Nobody died in my family or friends (thankfully); but I got some rough news at work which now makes me have to re-think and re-frame everything.  There was yet another Knoxville shooting, this time at a hospital.  Really?  One good friend had to serve on jury duty and she didn’t say enough incriminating things to make her ineligible.  I saw a car accident right next to me after lunch. One friend was heading to dance class tonight and her son threw up everywhere. One friend was told her boss – whom she likes – is quitting.  Two dear friends are having to see one of their sweet pups get older and in pain.  One way or another, there’s a lot of not so happy stuff going on lately.

Another dear friend brought to my attention that Mercury and Pluto are apparently in “retrograde”.  Honestly I don’t 100% know what that means ramification wise, but it doesn’t sound good.  On the plus side…I have my health and an amazing husband.  I have two sweet doggies who love me even though I don’t do nearly enough for them.  I’ve lost 31 pounds and I’m not giving in to the life suck.  No matter what happens, I will focus on my blessings.   No matter what I lose there has to be a silver lining…somewhere.