Not This Time

His charisma, that mad genius, that sense of humor, his boyish curiosity, shirt-off-his-back love of mankind, his smile, his sweet heart, this was the man I knew, the man I fought for to stay – a little longer. All of this could not temper the wild swings that ultimately came – up then down – never knowing how long we’d have him steady – cramming in as much life as we could, for we knew the down was coming soon – maybe in the next hour, the next minute. We’d resurface, taking gasping breaths to continue swimming upstream – he still lost his life.

The dizzying moods, that plagued, that lurked like the monster under the bed. Watching, waiting, gripping, pulling him. Married to addiction, that curbed the pain. The war raged on until the cease fires. So many cease fires. We fought for them. How long would the peace last this time? Will these meds work? Will this therapist cut through the barbed wire? Both of us smiling, acting the part  – no one knew the pain, the anger, the deterioration. We’d seal the cracks, the leaks in the boat as soon as they were visible – he still lost his life.

Despite years of trying to help him seek regular treatment. Despite two attempts to intervene that last year. Despite all the fights, the therapy and drug treatment, his self-medication of cheap beer and sleeping pills, the begging, the promises, the lies we wanted to believe, the children – he still lost his life.

I found him New Year’s Day, our son’s baby book next to him – quiet. He always slept hard, slept deep, when he slept at all. I was angry. Yet another broken promise, “I’ll be in bed by 2am, baby. You won’t wake up alone again.”  I called to him. Nothing. Not unusual. I would often call to him three, four, fives times before he stirred. Nothing. I stepped forward into the light. Staring back, the monster under the bed, the one that lurked, the one that threatened – finally caught him, pulled him under. I couldn’t save him. I wasn’t there to pull him back – not this time.

It will be ok. It will be ok. It will be ok…it’s not ok.

Bipolar Disorder.

What more could I have done – differently?

I wish this was dramatized, an over-exaggeration. Support groups call people like me, my children “survivors”. We are left to survive the aftermath. To pick up the wartime pieces. Five years later, the door is still ajar. While I have chosen a path of happiness, the path that I lead my children down daily, the past is still with us. I watch over my children for signs of the monster, a 20% chance. Adolescence is its blooming period. We talk, we smile, we laugh, we have drawn our own conclusions through truth. When they were young, it was Little Golden Book discussions of suicide and death. Today, it’s frank, raw, mixed with tight embraces and hysterical laughter. Most times we remember his smile, the mad genius, the candy bought while I wasn’t looking, the forts on the sofa, workshop creations, the vegetable garden, that delicious chicken soup, his love. All this out of reach of the monster now.

You may not enter here, sir. He’s not yours to keep.

This is our small victory.

Yet the battle still rages, the monster lurks – for others – so for them we keep fighting.

Maybe?

Not this time.

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Getting into the Lifeboat One Leg at a Time

It is with much relief that I write this post but not for the reasons you think. Relief from the visceral undertones of political ads on TV. Relief that soon my Facebook feed will once again be filled with cute cat memes, happy baby pictures and bitching about Timeline’s suckage. Relief that my Twitter feed will scroll happily with food, liquor and debates on Facebook’s relevancy. In short, this election cycle has plum worn me out.

Last night’s election could not have put the period at the end of a declarative sentence better, stating clearly how divided this country is at the moment. In the end, the popular vote proved that we are a country struggling to find its voice again. The mud-slinging politicians, the name calling on social media, the mainstream media…oh the humanity! You couldn’t escape it no matter how hard you tried to unplug yourself. There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. This election, simply put, broke my heart. I was called ignorant, entitled, a moocher, self-serving and un-American by family and friends alike. This without provocation. This without saying a word about how I feel politically. This without saying how I feel about them politically. This while being quiet and trying to ignore, remembering the words my parents taught me, “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” There were times when I wanted to lash out, stand up for myself. I would write it out, read it and throw it away. I knew my words would serve no purpose but rather continue the viciousness. The buck stopped with me. I hoped people would catch on that I wasn’t interested. Yet it continued. The most hurtful comments came from people I love dearly. They weren’t talking directly to me but what they said was unknowingly directed at people like me.

I am not affiliated with a party but I lean in one direction more often than not. I don’t partake in food stamps but I (or rather my children) receive government assistance. I didn’t have healthcare at one point in my life (pre-2009) and put my children on public healthcare in order for them to have what they needed. I had to take handouts from strangers, live with my parents at 36 years old after my house was foreclosed on, declare bankruptcy, suffer the loss of my self-respect. My water and electricity have been turned off many times. I’ve lived on the edge of disaster. But I did what I had to do to survive, to protect my children. The government’s “handouts” kept me and my children from spiraling further into the abyss of financial ruin.  Much of the credit goes to my family and friends for their love and generosity of spirit during a very difficult period in my life. I had it lucky. Many others are not as fortunate. For those of us who have lived on the edge or continue to do so, it is usually not our choice. Tools, education, family, friends, upbringing, yes, even religion all factor into the equation of how we come out on the other side.

I am by no means all the way in the life boat, but I’ve got one leg in now, slowly rebuilding my life, excited for the directions it’s taking me.  My beautiful husband, Paul, the greatest gift in the story that is my new life. Just as it does in our personal lives, it is going to take time to rebuild our country. This process may be long and arduous but we can do it. We are all Americans. We’ve been through tougher times than this in our history. We are survivors. Getting into the life boat will take time so we must learn to put aside our differences and realize our goal is the same, opportunity for all. The methods and political trappings of the past are not working in our 21st century, 24/7 world.  Agreements and solutions will have to be reconfigured to fit our future not our past. I have hope. That is something no one can take away from me. I spread hope, I teach hope, I live hope. I want to be an example my children can be proud of not shrink from in embarrassment. Practice what we preach to our children, kindness, generosity, fairness toward others. Teamwork. My simplistic view of the world is something I most love about myself. It is something my parents instilled in me from the earliest days of my life.  I don’t like being called names for believing in hope.  So remember, friends, take heed in what you say because you never know who you are hurting. Today is a day of celebration for some and mourning for others. I’ll give you today, but tomorrow it is finished and we must move on…together.

Chasing the Next Bandwagon

It’s seems that everything we consume these days will kill us, give us cancer or herald in some terrible disease. Pink slim in ground beef, diet soda, too much soy, artificial sweeteners, carbs, even drinking water. Wait, water can kill you? Yes, too much water has been known to disrupt brain function and cause water intoxication or poisoning. So what is a health conscious girl to do? You can’t eat that because it might make you fat. You can’t eat this because it could give you cancer. Don’t eat that because it could throw off your period or cause hormonal imbalances. And for God’s sake, don’t consume any of that because well, because just don’t! It’s enough to make you paranoid to put anything in your mouth. And then there are the fad diets. You know the ones that come and go like the phases of the moon. They’re all the rage, everyone jumps on the bandwagon only to jump quickly off to the next passing wagon. I’ve watched so many fall victim to bandwagon jumping only to gain every single bit of the weight back. No lifestyle changes were made, just dieting for dieting sake.

I am a health conscious person. I feel I have to be. There is osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease and colon cancer in my family. I don’t smoke. I take my vitamins, eat my fruits and veggies and have not eaten red meat or pork for over 20 years (although this was a political thing that just kinda stuck after high school). I try to buy fresh, free range and whole grain. Organic is a label I look at very carefully because not all organic truly IS organic. I watch the preservatives, nitrates, etc. But again, I read the labels. Yes, I’m the annoying woman in the store intently reading the back of the box like it’s a Hemingway novel. Gluten Free is something I practice in moderation. Certain glutens cause bloating which for someone with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) can be very unpleasant. I drink a green smoothie after every morning run or workout which is 6 times a week plus 6-8 glasses of water a day. Running and pilates are both on my lifestyle menu. I consider myself healthy and a good weight for my height and age. I could do more but this is working for me right now and I want to enjoy my life…in moderation. Yet it’s hard not to become caught up in all of the healthy hubbub, alarmists and fads.

This week the health and lifestyle sections on most major news sites were abuzz with the latest alarming food news. No, it wasn’t all about the pink slim but soda and red meat. Daily consumption of soda can increase your risk of heart disease, not just make you fat and eating too much red meat can increase your risk of dying by nearly 20% due to a higher content of saturated fat. Was this really news? Isn’t this restating what we already know but in slightly different terms? I could hear a collective sigh the world round followed by “Really?” (insert sarcastic tone). Coke will never stop producing soda and cows will never stop being a staple at Longhorn. Why? Because people choose to consume them despite the warnings. But what is wrong with these foods in healthy moderation? Every day there is something new we should or shouldn’t eat, a diet we should or shouldn’t be on, an exercise that may or may not give us incredible abs of steel. So for someone who is looking to get on the healthy lifestyle bandwagon, the one that is traveling a consistent speed on the highway, the one that never seems to breakdown, how do you choose a diet and exercise program that works for your body? Where do you start when everything is seemingly toxic? It all starts with you.

A year after the birth of my now 8 year old, I had a comprehensive physical. No ladies, not an Annual, a physical. The doctor did a full blood workup on my cholesterol, thyroid, and blood cells (both colors). An extensive family history was taken. My blood pressure and heart rate were measured. Every inch of me was examined and analyzed, from the health of my skin and nails to my bones and joints. My results, a healthy woman in her early 30s. My blood pressure was low, cholesterol good, weight was on par with my height and my thyroid was functioning normally. However, my family history indicated that I should be wary of osteoporosis, thyroid issues and heart disease which meant I needed to take steps now to avoid or lessen the affects of these possible threats to my aging body. Determined to take care of myself, I continued exercising and running but cut out soda, cut down on my carbs and eliminated most foods with preservatives and nitrates. After my father was diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer and diabetes, I began to cut down on foods that would raise my risk of both diseases (although carbs remain my kryptonite). As hard as it was to take these foods out of my daily diet, I struck a balance of moderation, a food compromise. I didn’t go cold turkey with most of the foods that were “bad” for me, I just chose to eat them every once and a while, kind of like how Cookie Monster refers to cookies as a “sometimes food” now. Mmmm…cookies. By not denying myself comfort foods, I am able to healthily indulge without overeating or experiencing overwhelming cravings (beyond the PMS-induced longings). It works for me. I feel balanced. I’m not perfect. I eat things I shouldn’t. Um, thin mints – 4 cookies, 160 calories…1 sleeve, priceless? My dealer lies in wait at our local Publix. I am a cheese dip addict and I love my wine; beer on trivia nights with my Chickens. But my overall lifestyle consists of foods and exercise based on my family history as well as what works for my body, not by what Hollywood stars are doing, the latest fads pushed on TV or even what my friends are trying. Sure we swap recipes, tips and advice with each other but if it doesn’t work for us, we move on until we find something that does.

I am a firm believer in live-its, not diets. You eat healthy and exercise not to lose weight or stay in shape but to maintain a healthy body balance. A diet is a temporary fix (especially with no exercise). If you choose to revert back to your old habits afterwards, you haven’t made a lifestyle change. It takes work, smart choices and sometimes a hell of a lot of will power to maintain your health. That morning run before sunrise may feel like crap at first but when finished, you’re so glad you got out of the warm bed. The trip to the gym after dropping the kids off at school when all you want to do is go home and drink a gallon of coffee will make the day feel so much more manageable. Eating that salad after gorging on margaritas and cheese dip the night before may not sound appetizing but wow, so much better than adding fuel to the fire in your belly. Choices. We all have to make them. We all have to live with them. Hence a live-it, not a diet.

So the next time you read a report that blah blah food is “bad” for you or “that” exercise is all wrong or this is the diet everybody swears by, step back and think, will it work for me? Does this affect how I maintain my health? Should I reconsider my choices? Jumping on the next bandwagon will only lead to yo-yo dieting, extreme and unhealthy choices and serial wagon chasing. What works for you, may not work for someone else and vice versus. There is so much more to consider other than calories, carbs and calculating. Family history, your physical health, allergies, height, weight and age are all factors in compiling your live-it plan. Everything in moderation has worked for centuries, so why can’t it work in the new Millennium.

 

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

My latest blog for skirt.com.

This will probably be one of my more emotional posts for Skirt. So I apologize in advance if I offend anyone as it is not my intention. My opinions are my own.

Few things upset me more than injustice, religious bullying, intolerance and complete ignorance. Today the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight conducted a hearing on birth control and how the Executive Branch of our government may have overstepped its bounds by compromising with religious groups regarding the Affordable Care Act. Basically the men of the GOP and the hard right religious groups believe the Obama Administration is “declaring war on religion”. And this is where I became enraged. Not because it’s the GOP vs. Obama…again (boring, get a life) but because our government and the people running it for us are continuing to abuse the First Amendment of our Constitution, in particular the Separation of Church and State. I believe in this whole-heartedly, and as person of Faith wish that both sides of the aisle as well as our “religious” institutions would LEAVE IT ALONE! Faith and politics do not play well together. They are like two children on the playground fighting for the same swing. Someone is going to get hurt, in this case “We the people”.

The First Amendment in regards to religion reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”. In laymen’s terms, it basically means the government will not impede upon the rights and freedoms of or endorse religious groups. Simple, right? Keep it separate. It’s not that hard. Yet repeatedly through our short history as a country this basic premise of our constitutional Bill of Rights is repeatedly violated by the very people sworn to uphold it and the fear-mongering religious organizations seeking the ear of the government to push their agendas. What part of that amendment do you not understand? Oh, I get it, just as the Bible can be interpreted to mean what you want it to, so can the Constitution. Ah. Sorry, my bad.

I am usually the voice of reason when it comes to religion and politics. I am the silent majority. The one that just wants everyone to shut up, get along and do their jobs. The one that loves God but doesn’t go around talking about it but actually lives the words I believe. Talk is cheap and so is the shot that the GOP and these so-called men of God are taking at the First Amendment and birth control. I do not want a bunch of men who do not possess the ability to have a baby because they are missing a key component, a uterus, deciding how I should choose to avoid getting pregnant. It’s my body not yours! Choose to cover the pill because it has other medicinal purposes including regulating hormones and a woman’s period. I took the pill for years for cramps long before I began having sex. My doctor recently wanted to put me back on the pill to regulate my period. There. A medically necessary reason. Boom. Healthcare. Problem solved. Yet five clergyMEN and a bunch of men who care nothing about the lives of millions of women much less the Constitution they are interpreting for their own political agendas are speaking on behalf of women because this new law would infringe upon their “religious liberty”. HA! Where are the women on this laughable panel of witnesses? Where are the political hardliners now to protect our beloved Constitution? Our country has become all about hidden earmarks, political infighting and religious fanatics screaming in the ears of the Washington elite. Thomas Jefferson would be cringing if he were alive today. But back to the latest religious political debacle.

Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) had this to say about the female college student brought forth by two Democratic women to give another perspective on this issue, “As the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness.” Rep. Issa went on to say that she also did not “have the appropriate credentials”. Right. Ok, sure. Really he just didn’t want his committee tainted by the opinion of a person this Act would actually affect or hear that she might be a person of Faith with a different perspective.

Religion does not belong here. If you don’t believe in sex before marriage, contraception or abortion, don’t participate in it. Don’t buy condoms, the pill, or have an abortion if you get pregnant. What’s it to me if you choose not to do these things. No harm, no foul. Just like what’s it to you if I choose otherwise. Who am I hurting? Me? That’s my right, my human right, protected by both the laws of the Constitution of this nation as well as by God. I don’t feel hurt or ashamed because I had sex before I was married and use birth control. Maybe my view is simplistic. Maybe I am naïve for thinking that the Constitution should be honored and respected, not interpreted like a piece of literature to fit the needs of those in power. If there is a question of legality, take it to the Supreme Court. That’s what they are there for, to interpret the law, weigh right and wrong.

Separation of Church and State, learn it, remember it, live it. The nation would be a much more productive place if religion was simply not in the equation when it comes to the government. This is not to say that a moral code should not be followed, but let’s not confuse the two. When put together, religion and politics have caused wars, the Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, and the Holocaust not to mention a whole host of other insurrections and ethnic cleansings in the name of God and Country. Who suffers? The majority. In this case, women and those who believe in the First Amendment and all it stands for: religious freedom, separation of church and state, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, peaceful assembly and the right to protest. So get your act together, Washington. Mind your place, intolerant religious groups. I am the silent majority, a majority starting to make their voice heard. I am a strong woman, a religiously tolerant Christian, a party of one, the voice of many. 

I’m a Sexy Short Pear

My latest blog for skirt.com.

I love my Facebook friends, those I’ve met IRL (in real life) and those I’m still waiting to meet. The discussions are always interesting, funny and sometimes downright controversial. But what I’ve found, at least with my set of 200+ carefully chosen followers, is that we all seem to have a mutual respect for one another’s opinions regardless of what side of the political divide we choose to occupy. Recently a thread began with the simple sharing of a life affirmation. You know the ones I’m talking about? Like the “Hang in There” poster from the 80’s with the cat dangling from a ledge by two paws or the ones that populate Pinterest doling out positivity for pinners needing a pick-me-up. They are meant to inspire and motivate. The latest inspirational mantra came from one of my newest friends, a kick-ass, yoga-instructing, straight-shooting mom living in the wildly beautiful land of Alaska. She battled a heart condition and told me her only motivation to stay fit is to live healthy and love her body to keep up with her children not to be super model thin. The result, a confident, sexy woman who feels that fit is beautiful from the inside out. It bothers her greatly to see women succumb to unrealistic societal pressures to be a certain type of beautiful. And so she posted the following to Facebook: “Skinny girls look good in clothes. Fit girls look good naked.”

But what is fit? What does this statement really mean? Is this about being healthy, one’s body image or both? When I first saw it I thought, wow, how true! I run and work out six days a week, eat relatively healthy and try to take care of my aging body as I slide into 40 next year. Those heroin chic, stick thin models were the poster children of sexy and beautiful just a few short years ago. But no more! Women are embracing their curves, stretch marks and imperfect breasts and saying I’m beautiful the way I am. At least that’s the message we hope is being sent to women everywhere. I run for many reasons: my heart, my colon, my fitness level, staying trim, my children, my husband, the ability to eat real food, to drink wine, not to mention the fact that I actually enjoy running. As I get older, I know it will be harder to keep my body in shape and I will have to adapt my running accordingly. But that’s ok, I know I want to be active until my body tells me to stop. Even then I will be the crazy old lady doing hand exercises in my chair.

Being fit is more than physical. Your physical health leads to a healthy self image and overall good attitude. The mind and body are intricately connected to one another. For many of my friends and family, running and being active is a life-saver, it literally keeps them sane as they deal with their daily battle with Depression. The balance they have to strike between being physically fit and emotionally healthy is delicate. For women in general, this balance also includes having a healthy self-image. It seems that women have been dealing with body image issues since the beginning of time. Look at artists’ renderings of women throughout history; the pre-magazine cover, Vogue 6-page spread era. These paintings depicted what was considered a “beautiful” woman of the day. From the curvaceous Botticelli lovelies to Renoir’s sensually fleshy Victorian vixens to artsy photos of the waifish models of the 60s like Twiggy and Peggy Moffitt. It seems that women have been looking at themselves in the mirror for centuries striving to achieve a body that maybe they were never physically meant to have in the first place.

My friend’s thread immediately prompted a discussion on what it means to be “fit”. Someone mentioned the “thick” girls or if you’re unfamiliar with that term, full-figured gals. Are they not fit? I have been totally flamed in road races by women 10, even 20 years older than me and by women who were much larger and at first glance you would assume might not be able to run as fast or far. Just because someone isn’t a size 2 and rail thin doesn’t mean they aren’t healthy, happy or sexy. I am by NO means stick thin. I have curves, curves in the usual places, the hips for sure. My husband tells me all the time how much he loves my curves, how feminine they are. He thinks it’s beautiful, that I’m beautiful. I am not 5’10”. I am not super thin. I do not have big breasts. I do not have abs of steel. I am a 5′ tall, petite, curvy, freckled, small-chested little lady. In other words, I am a short pear. Not your “ideal” body type by society’s standards. I also know that being thin doesn’t mean healthy. My Nana is a slender 5’6” woman who can eat whatever she wants and not gain weight. You know the woman everyone hates. BUT, in the late 80’s my Nana was diagnosed with high cholesterol. She never worked out, walked or did anything to keep herself fit. She was just blessed with a fast metabolism. So is THIS the ideal body? You can eat whatever you want, never work out, be thin but become sick with preventable diseases? My Nana would tell you no.

Fitness is internal and has to do with the health of your vital organs, your attitude toward your body as well as how you feel about yourself. Confidence is sexy. Thick, skinny, fit, curvy, athletic, pear, apple are all relative terms society uses to describe women’s body types. We all fall into the trap of categorizing ourselves. For instance, if you go online to most women’s clothing stores, you can read reviews of each item by people who have already purchased and worn it. These reviews always helps me decide what to buy. Some sites have bought into body-typing with categories like athletic, slender, curvy, full-figured, tall, petite to describe a woman’s build. You then can search by body type, even height to see what other people of similar builds are saying about how these items fit them. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. I mean who wants to wear clothing that doesn’t look good on them? I don’t. I want clothing that fits my curves properly and accentuates the positives. But these words permeate almost every aspect of our society now. It’s hard for women to avoid body-typing themselves. We all have things we don’t like about our body. Frankly, I’ve always wished I was 4” taller. I guess that’s why I wear platforms and pumps. Other than wearing 4” inch heels, I can’t change this aspect of my physical being. However, I can be a confident, sexy woman despite my petite stature. Between running, eating right and being confident in what God gave me, I feel taller, despite the heels. My confidence translates to the outside, and that makes me sexy, makes any woman sexy.

Taking your body into your own hands and becoming active for the most important reason, your health, is what should concern women. Not if you’re a size 2, you have a J Lo booty or the boobs of a supermodel. Walking daily, yoga, pilates, running, swimming, weight training, Zumba or running errands every day on your bike, it’s whatever works for you to keep you healthy and happy. Sure, you will probably slim down and fit into your clothing better but what will really begin to transform is how you feel about yourself. You may not get rid of the hips, the jelly in the belly, the junk in the trunk or the cottage cheese but believe me, you’re still sexy, you’re still beautiful, you’re still a woman. So I do believe the statement, “skinny girls look good in clothes but FIT girls look good naked.” Fit: body, mind and soul. I own my body, all 60 inches of freckled me with my hard-earned stretch marks, cottage cheese on the thighs and small chest. The confidence I have in myself shows. To be fit is to be: size 0 to whatever, blonde, brunette, red-head, curvy, slender, buff, soft, fleshy, boobs, no boobs, tall, petite…healthy, confident…sexy.

Risky Business, Footloose and Other Spontaneous Random Acts of Silliness

It is not unusual for me to break out into spontaneous song and dance in the following places: my bedroom, my bathroom, the shower, the kitchen (with a fabulous glass of wine), my office, the car, running down Peachtree Street in the mornings. You’ve probably seen me if you drive through South Buckhead into Midtown. Yes, that’s me! It’s the city, I blend in with the other crazies. I grab the closest hairbrush or ladle microphone and do my best Steve Perry, Bono or Pat Benatar impression. I bust out my Dance Fever moves and moonwalk, robot or running man my way across the floor. Sometimes I go all Risky Business, sometimes it’s me, my kids and the dogs barking like, “What’cha doing? Are we going for a walk?” Needless to say it’s a sight to behold. But life is meant to be a series of spontaneous random acts of silliness.

Frankly, we all do stupid things, act a little out of character from time to time. Why not give yourself permission to lose control for mere minutes each day to recharge. It’s not well-organized, rehearsed or sitcom-ready like The Cosby Show’s perfectly lip-synced version of Ray Charles’ Night Time is the Right Time. Just me, myself and my crazy dance moves with a hairbrush or in the case of running, a few of my closest commuter friends. Music is a powerful healer, even if only to lift a sour mood. It always conjures memories or sparks creativity. When I listen to songs likePretty in Pink, I am instantly transported back to middle school, begin to smile and remember the moments of seventh grade puppy love. I find that music allows me the freedom to daydream, mostly about the outfits I would wear on stage while performing in front of thousands of screaming fans, like when I listen to Buoy by The Joy Formidable. Or even, yes, wouldn’t Derezzed from the TRON: Legacy soundtrack be a killer song to ice skate to in the Olympics; the triple axles, the perfect landing on the downbeat, the applause…

Sorry, I had to stop writing for a minute, Footloose came on my Pandora station. The urge to line dance and ponder how I fit into the 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon game was too much for me to resist. In the immortal words of Kenny Loggins, “Everybody cut loose!” So I guess that’s my point, you have to be willing to cut loose and enjoy some silly “me” time. It restoreth the soul. Your husband, girlfriend, life-partner, children, dogs, and cats (well, maybe not the cats) will still love you afterwards, I promise.

OH! Thriller! Funky zombie dance, heh heh, ow!

Rice Hope Plantation: Welcome Home

Rice Hope Plantation Est. 1696

If you’re from the South, no doubt you have an “eccentric” in your family. Maybe it’s your crazy old Granddaddy telling tall tales on the front porch or your favorite great Aunt with her funny hats and odd antiquities collection. Whoever it is, every Southern family seems to have one and it turns out if you don’t, you can adopt one for the weekend at Rice Hope Plantation in Moncks Corners, SC.

Located 45 minutes outside of Charleston, Rice Hope Plantation and the surrounding area offer visitors a glimpse into plantation society when rice was king and the birth of South Carolina pride took root in the land. When you stay at Rice Hope you’re treated like family entering a world firmly rooted in the past. Cell phones and internet barely exist here, the Southern accent is slow and meandering like the Cooper River and storytelling is an art form much less a Southern tradition.

Ms. Lou Edens and her family run this little piece of history and will make sure you feel right at home during your stay. She is salt-of-the-earth, gracious, cooks your breakfast Southern style, and will tell you stories of when Berkley County was the crown jewel of South Carolina high society. Like most who live in Moncks Corner, she is related to or knows (knew) most of the plantation descendants in the area. It’s all about family here including the grandchildren who scamper about the property and Ms. Lou’s own children who help tend the grounds and manage the 40 room mansion. Just as it was in the days of old, plantation living is still a family affair.

The home reveals itself as you drive in

When you arrive, Ms. Lou greets you at the door with a hardy, “Welcome! How y’all doin’?” in her delightful low-country drawl. Instantly you are put at ease and know that this BnB is just a bit different than those you’ve visited in the past. She then takes you into the house for a short tour and brief history of the plantation before she whisks you upstairs to your room. The 5 guest rooms are homey and comfortable reminiscent of that favorite old Aunt’s house complete with antiques, 4 poster beds, portraits of the long gone, a doily or two, and a resident ghost, Mistress Chicken (listed as an amenity). But the real treasure of this plantation is Ms. Lou, her stories and the history behind the house she lovingly hosts her guests in nightly. Many guests have said they simply spent time visiting with Ms. Lou in the parlor listening to her stories and asking questions. For those guests seeking an experience rather than a place to lay their head at night, Rice Hope and it’s colorful proprietor offer more than just a warm bed and a hot meal. For “well-behaved” and dare say imaginative children, Rice Hope is giant natural playground with trees to climb, wide open spaces to run, and lizards and other critters to chase. And of course, there is Ms. Lou with all her eccentricities talking about the birds she loves including the peacocks she once raised and the ostrich eggs she paints as ornaments that absolutely charms children.

Rice Hope may not be the 5 star hotel in Charleston but it offers so much more in charm, history, and that feeling of coming home to family. Fresh air, a rambling river, tales of days gone by and even the ghost of little Mistress Chicken can all be found here wrapped up in low country living and southern hospitality. The house is old and in need of some repair but if you can look past the water stains on the ceiling and creaking staircase and floors, you will be captivated by a world that has been nearly lost to time. This truly is a place to step away from the modern world, slow down and take it all in.

Live Oaks and Spanish Moss

Established in 1696 by Daniel Huger, Rice Hope (or Luckins as it was known) is one of the oldest plantation homes in the county. While the original home burned in 1840, most of 1795 formal gardens were restored and the property is filled with live oaks and 200 year old camellias. The present structure was renovated in 1929 by Senator John S. Frelinghugsen of New Jersey and was used as his hunting lodge as were so many abandoned plantations at the time.

Rice Hope Plantation

206 Rice Hope Drive

Moncks Corner, SC 29461

http://www.ricehope.com/  

For reservations or information call 843-849-9000