November 12, 2015

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It seems like I can’t turn on the TV or open any of my social media apps without seeing something about the “Starbucks Christmas Controversy”. If you have been living under a rock for the past few days, let me explain.
Each year when the holiday season rolls around, many of us flock to Starbucks for the delicious steamy crack in a cup called Caramel Brulee Latte, Peppermint Mocha, or Chestnut Praline Latte. In the past, you couldn’t help but notice the festive holiday cups adorned with ornaments, snowflakes and candy canes. This year, Starbucks has chosen to use plain red cups for the holiday season…..and people are losing their minds.
Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks' vice president of design, said the change was meant to embrace “the simplicity and the quietness” of the holiday season. Okay. That’s a good enough reason for me. (Also, I have better, more important things to worry about than what’s on my coffee cup.) But for some, the decision has become a personal attack on the holiday season and religion itself.
As I read through the madness that has stemmed from the change, I came across a rant by a woman claiming that the absence of snowflakes on the cups “denies the hope of Jesus Christ and his story.” Seriously? By not having snowflakes on a coffee cup we are denying “the hope of Jesus”? If you need to find religion and catch the holiday spirit of Jesus by looking at a few snowflakes that’s just fine with me, but I personally don’t define my Christmas or relationship with Jesus based on a coffee cup. If you do, well….more power to you. I just find it sad.
I could understand the company coming under attack if the cups had previously featured direct religious symbols, but they didn’t. They featured snowmen and Santa, both of which have nothing to do with religion.
As a Christian myself, it would never cross my mind to walk into a Starbucks, order my coffee, see that my cup is now missing a reindeer, and make a connection between that and the company hating Christianity. But as I said earlier, I have better things to do.
Also, I believe in the idea that if you’re offended by something or someone, you just ignore it and move on rather than try to cause a national uproar. It’s called being an adult. I blame the “everyone gets a participation ribbon” generation.
In all honesty, I’m not upset with Starbucks for taking away my favorite Christmas cups. I’m upset with Starbucks for giving in to the “Politically Correct” movement. If someone walks in there and gets offended by a couple of snowmen or ornaments on their cup, then they deserve to go home a stew in anger because they are flat out morons. If you have time in your life to be upset or offended by such trivial things, you need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of the world.
There are starving children all over the world, some of which live in your neighborhoods and go to your kid’s schools. There are child abusers, drug dealers, and murderers walking the streets free because our legal system has failed us. There are terrorists groups planning attacks right now, but we allow them to infiltrate our country because we don’t want “to hurt anyone’s feelings” or “violate their rights”.
There are bigger fish to fry out there than coffee cups.
Drink the coffee at Starbucks, or don’t. The issue should be as simple as that. But until I hear my barista say, “Here’s your coffee, and Jesus sucks”, I don’t have a problem with a stupid red cup. What I do have a problem with is them running out of caramel for my Caramel Brulee Latte. That, my friends, is a true holiday travesty.

November 5, 2015

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All hail the Halloween queen! For those of you who don’t know….that’s me. Dressing up in costume is my game and Halloween is my Super Bowl. And once again I took the title like Tom Brady….minus the deflated balls.
On Friday night, we were invited to a party at a local bar where they were holding their annual costume contest. Not wanting to reveal my “real” costume that I had been working on for weeks, I rushed to Wal-Mart to find a last minute costume good enough to get by.
As I cruised the aisles of generic costumes, I came to the realization if I didn’t want to be a sexy cat, nurse, cop, or witch, I would have to find an inspiration item and get creative. While browsing the accessories, I saw it. A bleached blonde bouffant wig with coke cans for curlers. A lightbulb went off in my head and I knew this costume had potential.
I snagged the coke can wig and a mullet wig for my husband and headed over to find a Monster Jam t shirt for my “redneck king”. I cut the sleeves off of the t-shirt and paired that with some camo cutoffs and boots for him. I convinced him to shave his full beard into a handlebar mustache with “chops” on the side. I made a crown out of a Bud Light box, slapped on some obnoxious Billy Bob teeth and the Redneck King was born.
For myself, I slapped on a pair of stretch pants and high heels along with a cleavage bearing shirt with a pillow underneath to simulate being preggers. With the addition of my coke can wig, some red lipstick, a pack of cigarettes, and a giant red solo cup, my king now had his “queen”. This outfit would have made Peggy Bundy proud.
We arrived at the party and within a few minutes we had random people coming up to us asking if they could take our picture. Having created Kelly Ann and Jo-Nathan as our alter-egos, we made sure to stay in character all night. When the contest rolled around, I thought, “Why not? We might have a shot.” We stood on stage along with 35 or so others, showing off our “white trashy-ness”, and much to our delight and surprise, we took home first place.
The next day, it was officially Halloween, and I couldn’t wait! We dressed in our totally awesome homemade celebrity inspired costume (that’s all I’ll say about this one), and headed out to make the rounds locally. Once again, we found ourselves bombarded with people wanting to see our costumes close up to catch every last detail and posed for numerous pictures.
When midnight rolled around, the costume contest was on….and so were we. We handed out costume themed “party favors” to the crowd while staying in character. As the judges deliberated, I realized that we had some stiff competition. There was Donald Trump, Kim Kardashian “Breaking the Internet”, Painter Bob Ross and his happy tree…just to name a few. Not to mention 7 slutty cats, 4 skanky witches, and 1 Victoria’s Secret Angel. This wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.
But sure enough when the winner was announced, it was our names they called out. Boom! Two for two this year!
For me, Halloween is about reliving your childhood and being creative. I love carving pumpkins and decorating the house. I love making my own costume and thinking of new and inventive ways to accentuate it with accessories. But most of all, my competitive nature loves the thrill of being the best. I should probably talk to my shrink about that, but that’s another story.
At the end of the day I just love to dress up and pretend to be whoever I want to be. See Mom? Maybe I should have pursued that acting thing!
I’m already planning a Christmas party where my guests will be encouraged to come as their favorite Christmas characters. My husband and I plan to make a killer Clark and Ellen Griswold with my brother in tow as Cousin Eddie. Any excuse I can find for a costume party is good enough for me. Now I just need to find a way to win the best gift when we play Dirty Santa. Seriously….I need to call my shrink.
Hope you all had a wonderful Halloween and I hope the kickoff to your holiday season is just as awesome as mine!

October 29, 2015

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It may go against convention, but I consider Halloween the most wonderful time of the year. From the costumes to the pumpkin…well… everything, the fall season puts me in full party planning mode. Having been told that my costumes, parties, and decor are the things Halloween dreams are made of, here are some of my favorite tips to make a special night with friends that will haunt their memory for years. In a good way!
Remember that first impressions are everything, so make your front entrance look amazing. A low cost option that goes a long way is draping “cobwebs” over any trees or bushes in the yard, hanging spiders or witch’s on broomsticks are always fun. You can always buy these items, but unless you bought them last year after the season they can get expensive. I prefer to get creative and make all of my own decorations for a party. Check Pinterest for ideas and easy instructions for do it yourself projects.
Once inside, guest will be ready to get “spooked”. From scary to fun-house, rethink the lighting in your venue by replacing a few key lights with black light bulbs or dark lampshades. Play classic horror films in the background (on mute if you don’t want the sound to be distracting) to get guests in the mood. Classics like Friday the 13th, The Exorcist, or, naturally, Halloween can give everyone in the room goose bumps just by catching a glimpse of it. For less frightening movies that still set the tone, try The Addams Family, Beetlejuice, or It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
Make sure to tell your friends, “No costume….no entry.” Half the fun of attending a Halloween party is checking out what everyone put together to wear. If you have those friends who just think they are too cool to dress up, they probably won’t be very fun to be around anyways. Just make it clear that you want everyone to participate. I mean, it’s not that hard to come up with something to dress up in, right? If all else fails…go to Party City.
If people are less than enthusiastic about dressing in costume, try having a costume contest to spark their competitiveness. You can offer prizes if you want, or the prize can simply be winning the title! Ask people to cast their votes for different categories, such as scariest, funniest, most authentic, and best overall. Then tally them up and announce the winners.
When it comes to food, theme is key. Try foods that everyone loves like chocolate, meatballs, or mashed potatoes in original and creative ways. Try channeling your inner zombie and make everything look like brains. Jell-O, casseroles, dips and desserts can all be shaped like a brain….a delightfully and creepy affect. Get a brain Jell-O recipe at and buy your own brain mold at Amazon.
Every Halloween party needs a spooky punch. Serve one that’s blood-red, ghoulish green, putrid purple, orange, or black and use dry ice to create an eerie mist. You can add some gummy worms or gummy eyeballs to add a bit of a scare, and if you want things to get a little wild and crazy….just add booze. Just be sure to let your guests know it’s spiked so they don’t over-indulge.
If you are worried about budget, make the party potluck style. Encourage people to bring spooky foods. You can even send them a list of suggestions or sites where they can do their own searching. For those who may be deterred by the idea of having to cook something, offer the option to bring drinks instead.
If you want to give your guests a little something to remember your party by, let them “trick or treat” and fill up glass jars loaded with different types of candies and mini scoops. Go to to stock up on a variety of treats, from gross gummy body parts (feet, ears, and eyeballs) to classics like Pixy Stix and Bazooka.
The most important part about throwing a good Halloween party is getting a great group of people together, so don’t get too hung up on how much you have to spend. Throw together a few decorations, offer a little food and drink, and be ready to have a great time!

October 22, 2015

This week I experienced a scary turn of events that landed me in the ER. As my husband and I were on our way to a hospital banquet, I suddenly began to feel nauseated and weak. Within minutes, I was dizzy, sweaty, and my arms and legs had gone numb. My heart was racing, and my vision was dwindling into two narrow black tunnels. I thought I was dying.
My husband, who is a nurse in the ICU, was terrified. When I saw the fear on his usually calm and collected face, I knew it was serious.
By the time I reached the ER, I had mentally checked out. I was unable to form complete sentences and answer the questions the staff was asking me. Within minutes, I was hooked up to machines and an IV with a doctor hovering over me.
According to the doctors my symptoms were caused by a combination of a low magnesium level and several irregularities in my heart. Then the doctor gave me the news that I didn’t want to hear...., “I can see that there are some irregularities here that caused you to feel sick, but we think you exacerbated your symptoms after suffering a panic attack. Have you experienced those before?”
My heart sank because the truth was that yes, I had encountered panic attacks before. The truth is, I suffer from mental illness.
I wanted to discuss this issue that is all too often swept under the rug due to the uncomfortable stigma that comes along with it. In the past, if someone found out about my illness, they changed the subject or avoided me at all cost. The truth of the matter is, I am making a choice to speak out about my own struggle in hopes of reaching others who may be too afraid to ask for help.
Too often, people suffering from a mental illness remain faceless, minimized, stereotyped, and are left feeling overwhelmed to suffer in silence due to the fear of ridicule, but mental illness "sufferers," as they are known, come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.
It is widely reported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) that approximately 1 in 4 adults will experience some type of mental illness during a given year.
I was personally diagnosed with Bipolar disorder in 2004, although I probably should have been diagnosed years before. I knew something was wrong, but everyone, from my family and friends to my doctors, wrote off my symptomatic behavior as “a moody teen” or “college student struggling to find herself”.
The truth of the matter was that I was experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions from the urge to party for days on end and shop wildly and extravagantly even though I couldn’t afford it, to spending the next four days in bed, too depressed to even shower. I was irritable and wildly explosive for no reason, and my uncontrollable behavior led to a level of anxiety that I can’t even begin to explain.
I would wake in the morning with an unreasonable feeling of doom that followed me throughout the day. As my anxiety level built over time, I eventually began suffering from panic attacks.
After being diagnosed, I began medication that changed my life. The panic attacks subsided and my once upside down life returned to normal. (At least what I consider normal.) While inside I was feeling better, on the outside I was still silent about my struggle. And I have remained silent for years. That is until that scary reminder that my bipolar and anxiety disorders are always with me, just below the surface waiting to show their ugly faces.
If you are suffering from mental illness, I want you to know that you are not a monster. You are not damaged. Your illness does not define you. Stop blaming yourself for things that are out of your control. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. While I know first-hand that those who don’t suffer the symptoms can be cruel and less than understanding, I promise that there are plenty of people who can relate to you. We need to stop being afraid to talk about it.
If you know someone suffering from a mental illness that wants to talk, you don't need to know what to say. You don't have to have helpful insight to share. You can be uncomfortable. You can be awkward. But don't change the subject when your friend brings up their struggle. The best thing you can do is just listen.
As for me, I’ll be seeing a specialist this week for tachycardia and high blood pressure (the main culprits for my ER visit), but I’ll also be discussing my mental health. Although I’ve been doing so well for many years, I want to work through my anxiety issues before they become a real problem again.

There’s no shame in taking care of yourself, even if it isn’t quite socially acceptable to openly speak about mental illness yet. Mental illnesses have nothing to do with “not being strong enough.” They have nothing to do with your character. The world needs you and your story.
The real tragedy, as I learned the hard way, is choosing to suffer alone when a better life is waiting.

October 15, 2015

This weekend, I made the trip back to my alma mater, Florida State University, for a big weekend of football action as the Seminoles took on our state rival, Miami. Having not been back to my stomping grounds in Tallahassee in over seven years, I was excited to get that same old feeling I used to experience on game day. Little did I know, I’m officially an old fart.
I scored four awesome tickets from a season ticket holder who was being forced to attend a wedding over the weekend with his wife. (He must really love her because he’s also giving up his Clemson weekend tickets to attend yet another wedding with her….he’s a good man.)
My husband had never been to an FSU game, or Tallahassee for that matter, and I was excited to show him why we are always in the top ten rankings of party schools. We headed to Tally with our best game day shirts in tow to meet up with some of my old college buddies. I couldn’t wait to party like it was 1999.
As we rolled into town, things seemed the same for the most part. The traffic was horrible, there was trash on the sides of the road, and a steady stream of garnet and gold clad people flooded the sidewalks. What I didn’t recognize were the massive modern apartment complexes that seemed to consume every bit of land in sight. And these places were nice…..nothing like we had in my day.
These complexes had their own restaurants, shops, tanning salons, and Starbucks right inside the gates. They had private shuttles to take students to and from their apartments to campus.
I only lived three minutes from campus, but used to leave over an hour before my classes in hopes of finding a parking spot. Sometimes I didn’t. This was the first moment I officially felt old, when I thought about saying, “Back in my day, we had to drive in circles for hours just to find a spot all the way across campus from our classroom.” These kids don’t know how good they have it.
The second time I officially knew I was old was when I noticed the “new norm” for game day attire. When I was in school, we wore an FSU shirt with some cut off shorts or jeans. If we wanted to be daring or risqué, we cut the shirt into a v at the front to show a little cleavage and rolled our shorts up another notch. Now days, girls just show up in the bare minimum covered to avoid getting arrested.
I saw side boob, front boob, and under boob….all on one girl. Not to mention the new trend is apparently taking your mom’s old 80’s jeans that come up to your neck, and cutting the legs completely off so your butt cheeks hang out. These girls looked like a bunch of slutty Steve Urkels running around in diapers. See? I just dated myself again…..none of those kids even know who Steve Urkel is.
The third time I realized that I’m no longer a hip college kid was after the game when we walked into a new bar called Madison Social. The old me would’ve walked in there, scanning the room to check out all the cute college guys before making one of them buy me drink, but the new me walked in and thought, “This place is full of little boys.” Did the guys I went to college with really look this young?
I walked in the door and a drunk college boy wearing loafers, a button down shirt, and short khaki shorts looked me over before saying, “Hey…you look like you might be a freshman…can I buy you a drink?” I knew he was either patronizing me, on beer goggle expert level, or had some serious “mommy” issues. Either way, I wasn’t interested. So I responded, “No thanks. You should get home and finish your homework, and call your mother.” Thank goodness I have my own money now and can afford to buy my own drinks so I don’t have to talk to these idiots.
The bar played music from my college days like the Backstreet Boys and N’SYNC, and every kid in the place knew them all word for word. I turned to the two girls next to me and asked, “How do you guys even know these songs?” To which one of them replied, “I remember my mom playing it all the time when I was a baby.” Yikes. That settles it…..I’m old.
The next morning, we all woke and headed for lunch at my favorite spot, Gordos. As we sat and waited for our food, I listened to the tables of young kids around us telling tales of how “totally wasted” they were last night after four beers and how they “didn’t even remember leaving the game” after drinking three ounces of their smuggled vodka out of a flask. At least I think that’s what they said. Most of what I heard was “totes”, “obvi”, “like”, and “on fleek”….whatever that means.
All in all, I realized that I’m now one of “those” people. The ones who occasionally relive their glory days by attending a game wearing old people gear and being able to walk out of the bar under my own power at closing time because I’m mature enough to know that passing out on the sidewalk with your dress over your head is, as the college girls say, “so totes lame”.
While I may not fit into the college kid category anymore, I am looking forward to moving into the “rich booster tailgating club”. With their half a million dollar (or more) custom party busses, satellite TV, BBQ grills, and leather couches in the parking lot....those people know how to really party. I guess getting old has its perks.
Who says the fun is over? You don’t have to grow up just because you get older. You just learn how to hold your liquor and throw better parties.