June 26 Editorial

We’ve all heard those amazing stories that swirl around the internet that seem so unbelievable that they almost seem like urban legend. This week, I learned first-hand just how true these stories can actually be, and just how powerful prayer can be when you feel you are in your darkest hour. My dear friend Susan, who I’ve known for nearly 15 years, contacted me the other day with a miraculous and inspirational story she wanted me to share.
A school teacher, Susan had once held a second job years ago as a server in Orange Beach for extra cash while on summer break. One night, while cleaning off one of her tables, she found a silver bangle bracelet that read “Through God, all things are possible”. She put the bracelet in the lost and found bin in the office, and didn’t think about it again.
That is until her father passed away a few months later. “I was going through a really rough time in my life,” Susan said. “I needed something to give me hope.” She went to the lost and found bin, and there was the bracelet. She asked the managers if she could have it, seeing as how it had remained there for over 90 days. They said yes.
Susan wore the bracelet for months, and in time she said her heart learned to beat again. “When I felt low, I read those words on the bracelet and remembered that God loves me and has a plan for me,” she said.
Then, tragedy struck again for a friend close to Susan. Her mother was killed in Hurricane Katrina, and her heart was broken. Susan decided to pass the bracelet along to her and told her the story of how it had helped her through her grief.
Her friend wore the bracelet for nearly two years before passing it along to one of her friends who was going through a rough patch. This “sisterhood of the traveling bracelet” was fast becoming a special bond.
A year or so later, the third wearer of the bracelet called Susan with the bad news that she had lost it while swimming in the intracoastal one afternoon. Susan told her not to worry because the bracelet had more than served its purpose. They had all worn it in their times of need, and they had all healed.
Last week, Susan’s son, who was visiting from Georgia, came home with something shiny on his arm. He took it off and handed it to his mother saying, “I found this today, Mom. I wanted to give it to you.” When he opened his hand Susan said she nearly fainted. It was the bracelet.
At this point in our conversation, I knew that there was something wrong. Her voice trembled as she said, “Kelly, I have cancer.” I felt a lump rising up in my throat. I didn’t know what to say. Was I supposed to ask what the prognosis is? Was I supposed to tell her everything was going to be okay even though I didn’t know the details? Was I supposed to say something profound?
All I managed to say was, “How?” How could my sweet friend who would give her last dime to someone else have gotten this? How was she going to fight it, and was she going to win? How could I imagine life without her beautiful, peaceful smile being in it?
She told me that it was colon cancer, but there were treatment options. It was going to be a long hard battle, but she was ready to face it head on. She said, “I think that’s why God sent this bracelet back to me. I mean, what are the odds that it would ever be found, let alone by the person who once owned it?”
I choked back tears and replied, “It has gotten you all through before. This is a sign that you will get through it again.”
I told her that I would be there beside her through the good, the bad, and the ugly until we hear those wonderful words, “You are cancer free.” Then I told her to buckle her seatbelt because I wasn’t going anywhere after she was cured. There are just too many more adventures to be had.
I hung up the phone and started thinking about life, death, God, and fate. Perhaps the person who owned the bracelet when Susan found it no longer needed it because her pain had subsided. Or maybe God really does work in mysterious ways. I find it hard to believe that things just happen to us. I think every step we take is on the way to our destiny.
As for Susan and her bracelet, even if it is truly coincidence, it makes me smile to know her heart is filled with hope at the sight of it every day. It was the missing piece she needed to prepare herself for battle, and if anyone is going to win, it’s going to be this amazing lady.
The proof is in the bracelet….”Through God, all things are possible”.

June 19 Editorial

Is it just me or does being professional just not mean what it used to? For instance, our house is on the market. While there is a sign in the yard, any decent real estate agent knows that when a house is occupied, you don’t just knock on the door. You make an appointment. However, yesterday that very thing happened….at 8:30 am.
I awoke from sleep, nearly having a heart attack due to my dogs going nuts at the front door. Being that I am not even a shadow of a morning person, I stumbled in my satin pj’s to the door fighting back three barking attack morons, to find a real estate agent and his clients standing on my door step. I picked my brain in a panic, wondering if I had forgotten that there was an appointment to show the house, until he said, “Is it too early?”
First of all, yes, you idiot, and second of all, can I help you?
“We were just wondering if we could come in and see the house,” the agent said. I told him that we had been sleeping and asked if he could give us an hour to get the house ready to show, an offer that I thought was rather generous at the crack of dawn without an appointment. “Sure, that will be great,” he said. “We’ll be back in an hour.” I gave him our phone numbers and he gave me his card, then we got to work.
The house was in fairly good shape, so we just vacuumed and made the beds. The time for their “appointment” came and went. I called the agent, and he told me they were running a little late. “Can we come at 1,” he asked. “Sure. I’ll just have to move some things around in my schedule,” I replied annoyed but anxious to sell.
At 2 o’clock when they hadn’t shown, I called him again. This time there was no answer. By 4 o’clock, I was just plain mad. Not only had this jerk disturbed my beauty sleep by knocking on the door without an appointment, but now he has missed two appointments that I had to rearrange my day for without so much as even a courtesy call? Rude.
Later that night, I received a call from the agent. He explained that he had missed the appointments because he had forgotten that he had a lunch date. Really dude? I tried to control my disgust, but it bubbled over when I snapped, “And it never crossed your mind to call me? Never mind that I adjusted my whole day to accommodate you. How about you don’t show up at my door again unless you have a client with a briefcase full of money and a contract in hand. Good day sir.”
After the blood rushed out of my face, I giggled at myself for being so melodramatic. I mean, at least we have people wanting to see our house. It just burns me up when people don’t have any integrity. Just do what you say you’re going to do. It’s that simple.
I guess I expect too much from people. There’s always going to be those who knock on your door early in the morning, I will probably never be able to understand the customer service reps at AT&T, and I’ll probably never get the sauce I ask for when I go to the drive-thru, but I suppose life will go on. Maybe not much longer for the guy outside my bedroom window with a chainsaw at 7 am if he keeps it up. Seriously, doesn’t anybody sleep?
My point is this….people are so obsessed with their own agenda’s that they forget that there is a thing called common courtesy. Even as grown-ups, we still need to follow the golden rule; treat others as you want to be treated.
As for me, I drove to my real estate agent’s office immediately to pick up a sign that says, “By appointment only”. Take that Mr. Real Estate jerk.

June 12 Editorial

This weekend, my friends and I headed out to one of my favorite spots on the planet….Pirate’s Cove. If you don’t know about this little gem, it’s a hole in the wall kind of place nestled in a waterfront cove that boasts amazing music, delicious food, and best of all….the most awesome crowd of rednecks with money you’ll ever see.
I was giddy with excitement for our first voyage of the season to the mecca of all boat beach party hangouts. We pulled up, and as always, the place was packed. Kids of all ages were jumping like wild maniacs from the docks into the shallow water, and the stench of greasy cheeseburgers lingered in the air. I jumped from the boat to the dock and made a beeline for the bushwacker machines, careful not to step on one of the rogue dog’s tails.
I sidestepped about twenty four-legged pals before making it into the “no shoes, no shirt, no problem” joint, and admittedly was disappointed to find that the new bathroom facilities were now a big step up from the original, where you had to hold the door for lack of a lock while trying not to fall through the hole in the floor where a drain had once been. This place was getting fancy.
A cold bushwacker in hand, we met up with more friends and jumped in the water for an afternoon of lazy lounge time. While floating around, I noticed a few things about this place that make it so cool.
1) The dogs own the joint. People are just lucky they get to hang here. I swear I saw them taking shifts begging for food around the tables. Fluffy and Max worked table 2 and 4 then rotated with Skipper and Spot every fifteen minutes so that nobody got too comfortable with their sad eyes. The scary part is…..it works. Humans are easy.
2) There were millions of dollars’ worth of boats parked on the beaches but whether you arrived on a yacht or a dingy, once you stepped on the beach you were all friends. It was like “Oh, you like Pirate’s Cove too? Did we just become best friends? Yup!”
3) You may be rich enough to have champagne and caviar every day, but when you’re at the Cove…..you’re going to eat that burger and onion rings. Don’t care who you are….if you don’t like their greasy food, you are un-American.
4) Just because you have a little money doesn’t mean you’re not a redneck. I saw more NASCAR t shirts and Roll Tide stickers on boats that cost more than most people’s houses than I care to recall.
5) Rednecks with money are fun. Say what you want about them, these guys know how to have fun. They drink like fish, dance like nobody’s watching, and welcome you to their party with open arms. Just don’t bring up college football and you’ll be fine.
6) You can get really up close and personal with the wildlife. While swimming in the channel several people had close encounters with passing dolphins, and one poor Labrador retriever got the scare of his life when he swam out for his tennis ball and was met by a dolphin less than two feet from him. He panicked and turned for the shore, but quickly went back for his ball. No man left behind. I like that attitude.
If you haven’t been to Pirate’s Cove and a laid back, friendly day on the boat where even your furry family members can have fun, check it out immediately. Whether you’re a city type, billionaire, or just plain redneck royalty, everyone has a good time here. And you can be sure you’ll be welcomed with open arms…and probably a few beers.
Hooray summer!!!

May 29 Editorial

This weekend, my family got together to celebrate the epic kickoff to summer 2014, Memorial Day. We fired up the grill, popped a few beers, and cheers-ed to what I hoped would be an amazing weekend. What I realized is that even though I’m getting older, when it comes to fun….I’ve still got it.
Having been on a strict diet in my always entertaining journey for health, wellness, and a beach body that won’t make others dry heave, I decided that this weekend was a chance for me to fall off the wagon a bit. On Friday afternoon, I made a run to the store, along with everyone else in a 50 mile radius, for the essentials to make the holiday weekend a standout.
While there, my husband and I giggled at the passing shopping carts being pushed by the high maintenance housewives from Birmingham and Atlanta that had flocked to the beach for their annual “vacay”. The carts consisted of everything a family of “salt life-ers” might need. Sunscreen, 400 cases of soda, a blow up ride on alligator, lunchables, and enough beer and wine to keep mommy and daddy oblivious to their little angel’s obnoxious screams in the pool for days.
While passing one of these carts complete with THREE dip nets being pushed by a woman who looked like princess sourpuss, my husband stopped and said, “Yeah, that’s totally going to be you if we ever have kids.” To which I replied, “No way! I’m too cheap to buy our kids three dip nets. I’d buy one and we could sit back and take bets on who the strongest of the pack is. It will be fun.” He loves me because I am a sick woman.
We headed home with enough pork ribs, steak, and hamburger meat that it looked like I took out a petting zoo with my car. And the eight cases of beer might indicate that those sweet petting zoo critters never had a chance. Disclaimer: This is a joke. No actual petting zoo animals were harmed in the making of this Memorial Day Weekend. Can’t say the same for poor Bessie and Wilbur.
We fired up the grill, and within minutes the sweet smell of summer filled the back yard. Five seconds later, I spilled my beer after flipping the hammock while swatting a thousand giant mosquitoes away from draining me of my life force. Ah, Florida living.
We awoke the next morning and headed to the boat ramp along with every other boat owner in Escambia County. We waited patiently in line as we watched family after family of morons attempt to launch into the Intracoastal for a day of fun. Here’s a tip….if you own a boat and you have a wife with more than two brain cells or a kid over the age of 10, teach them to be useful or get them out of the way.
I find nothing more annoying than watching a one man operation struggling to back in, launch, tie up, get out, load bags, and THEN move the trailer while his incapable wife and clueless son watch helplessly while 100 other people are waiting. You people suck at life.
Nearly thirty minutes later, it was our turn for launching. My husband refused to buy us a boat unless I learned to back in a trailer, launch it, and drive the boat myself. I wasn’t happy when this ultimatum was made, but I am now. Our teamwork had our boat in the water and ready to go in under two minutes. I didn’t even kill anybody.
We headed to Robinson Island for a day in the sun, and boy did it deliver. Long story short…the sun was hot, the beer was cold, and the crowd was insane. I felt like I was on the elderly version of Party Down South. I saw more over the hill idiocracy in one day than I have in years. And to think Pensacola thought CMT filming their show here would cast a bad reputation to the good rednecks of the gulf coast.
As the weekend wore down, so too did I. I added ‘Memorial Day Weekend Warrior’ to my Murtaugh List, a list made famous from the TV show "How I Met Your Mother" inspired by Danny Glover's character Roger Murtaugh in the movie series "Lethal Weapon" who always said “I'm too old for this …”.
For those of you unfamiliar with how this list works, here you go. For example, I may be able to still pull and all-nighter, but an all-weekender is on the Murtaugh List. Putting three additional dip nets in a snobby tourist’s cart…..still not on the Murtaugh List. There are some things you never get too old to do.
Even though I may not be able to hang like I did in my younger days, I have to say the Memorial Day 2014 was still pretty amazing. So here’s to summer! I hope you all have a safe and happy one full of plenty of things to add to your own personal Murtaugh List. Cheers!

June 5 Editorial

This week my husband and I experienced yet another milestone in becoming grownups as we placed our first home on the market so that we can pursue our dream of waterfront living. Excited by the hope of soon living the true Florida lifestyle, I never expected to have such mixed emotions about leaving the home that literally bears our blood, sweat, and tears.
We purchased our first home just two and a half years ago when the buyer’s market was so enticing, we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to get in while the “getting” was good. We found a foreclosure with tons of potential in a great neighborhood for next to nothing. It was a no brainer.
We put in an offer just before the holidays, which was quickly accepted, and started packing in a whirlwind as we prepared to close in just 30 days. Those days came and went as we missed not one, two, or three closing dates, but four. We were getting the run around from banks on both sides, claiming that the paperwork wasn’t being completed due to the holidays.
With thousands of dollar’s worth of renovations to complete before move-in, our window of construction was closing....fast. We finally closed 28 days before we had to be out of our rental, so we went to work at warp speed.
We ripped out walls, had all the electrical redone, tore out all the flooring, and revamped the bathrooms, just to name a few of the projects. We worked 16 hour days, doing most of the work ourselves to save money, for 27 days straight. Then, as I went into full meltdown mode, the last of the hardwood floors went in about 6 hours before our keys were due to be turned in on our old house. I don’t know how we did it and survived, but we did.
Since then, we’ve laughed and cried a lot in this house. We’ve nearly gotten divorced, fallen in love again, lost our fur baby, adopted new fur babies, discussed my husband going back to school to further his career, and even discussed starting a family. Today, as I looked at our MLS listing, it hit me. Our life has happened here.
We never intended to stay here forever. In fact, the whole plan was to renovate this house and flip it to make some money. (A sure fire sign that we watch too much HGTV.) I never intended to discover that within these walls lies the story of us. I must admit, I got a little misty eyed. Then I had my normal response which is to have a panic attack followed by deep feelings of doom followed by remorse followed by acceptance.
Thanks to having to show the house, it’s never been cleaner which makes me like it even more, but I have to keep reminding myself that we are moving to a better place. A place where I can sip a margarita at sunset with my toes in the sand and still go inside to use my own restroom when my terrible IBS symptoms rear their ugly head. If you know what I’m talking about then you already know…..there really is no place like home. Can I get an Amen?
As I look around, I see us in every corner of this house. I remember fighting at Lowe’s over paint colors. I remember screaming like a maniac then laughing hysterically when we installed the new sink and water blew out of the faucet like a geyser because we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. I remember the moment sitting on the couch looking at my husband realizing that I may not have always made the right decisions, but when it comes to him I know I made at least one.
It will be hard to leave, but in order to grow you have to take a leap into the unknown. Sometimes you might fall, and sometimes you might have regrets, but as long as you have those that love you the most beside you it doesn’t even matter. At the end of the day, a house is just a house. I know that wherever we go together will be home….and I’m going to have a sweet tan.