When the Words Won’t Come

Watching the cursor blink at me on a blank screen is daunting. It’s torturous to construct the first sentence. It’s like starting to workout. You know, that moment right after you lace up your tennis shoes and seconds before you start moving…. that blank second in time where your brain and your body fight over what you are about to do. Writing is like that for me. I know I need to. The ache is bruising my soul, it squeezes me so tightly. But as I stare at the blank white screen determined to just begin, my mind drifts away.

One of my favorite song lyrics ever is a 90s crap song called Just Breathe by Anna Nalick. The verse says something about, “It’s 2 am and I’m still awake writing this song just to get it all down on paper so it’s no longer inside of my threatening the life it belongs to, And I feel like I’m naked in front of a crowd and these words are my diary screaming out loud, and I know that you’ll use them, however you want to.” I don’t think there’s ever been a lyric that’s hit me like that one does.

So I stare back at the cursor on the blank page. I think over all of the good things that are in my life now. The struggle the last year has been, but the amazing things that have happened over the course of it as well. I want to write about it. But I want to bury it all too. I squirm in my chair. I’m not ready to write about it. I refocus.

I see the sunlight pour through his honey colored hair and spill into his storm blue eyes, and I can’t help but smile. His sweet face brings me back to the light. Our journey has been a long one, yet it’s just beginning. It’s a happy story.

I stare out of my office windows across a Navy base that’s been quiet and deactivated for almost as long as I’ve been alive. The door is open and the last of the cool night air is already burning off as the Florida sunbeams pour across the floor. It’s going to be hot today. My insides burst with the thrill of Florida warmth.

I can hear the echo of the service men and women that have walked these sidewalks. There’s definitely a story there. The National Anthem is streaming through the airways now over the base loudspeaker, to no one in particular. It’s going to be a gorgeous day. And I’m ready.

She Doesn’t Have to BE

11903946_10204705465500842_6486131563214077616_nMy daughters are my whole world. They are 13 and 16 now, and the days show no signs of slowing down at all. As the years have unfolded, our lives have endured many a twisty route, both extreme good and a little bit of bad. Their father and I divorced in 2004 when they were 3 and 1. Since that time, of course we have both moved on.  The first summer my youngest called me bawling her eyes out because her dad’s GIRLFRIEND had made her clean her room and wash a dish, I was enraged.  I was a whole bunch of emotions that I wasn’t sure how to label. Mostly though, I was nervous to think of someone else in my daughters lives.  How dare some other woman make my child fold a blanket. Who did this GIRLFRIEND think she was?

17796120_1426719260692970_21785208591364947_nWell… let me tell you who she is…. she’s someone who in the last five years has taken my daughters to soccer practices, drama rehearsals, doctors appointments, school when they were late, movies, dinners, photo shoots. She is someone who never tries to impose on my role as their mother, but loves them like only family can. She doesn’t complain about hanging out with them or time that their dad spends with them. She doesn’t tell them they aren’t important to her. She doesn’t neglect them because they are not her own children.

13529045_641102126042541_5500849715280343824_nShe’s someone who makes me want to be the best step-mom I can be. She’s someone that my daughters appreciate having in their lives. She’s someone they can call when they’re too nervous to call me or their dad. She’s someone that loves them very much. She takes pictures of them, and is proud of their successes. And part of their success is having so many people in their lives that love them, when they didn’t have to. She doesn’t have to take Faith to soccer when I can’t. She doesn’t have to bring Hailey lunch money when she’s  forgotten, and I’m already at work. But she does. And because she does I think she should know I am proud to share Mother’s Day (just a little) with her. More than honored. Amber, I hope you know how much the girls love having you around all the time. And I hope you have a very Happy Mother’s Day!!

Falling Up

Dearest reader, I am standing in a house that I built with my husband looking at all of my things packed into U-Haul boxes. The events of the last year, an insane whirlwind of emotions that I know I can only fully understand once I have put them here on the screen. A ten year marriage came to a close last year, and no matter how much I feel like that was the right decision or the best decision for me and my kids, as I stand here looking at a yard that directly reflects my life as of late, I can’t help but feel the hurt and love violently rush through my very core. We built this house, came and walked through it and daydreamed together. Planted the roses, wisteria, and blackberries. I would watch you fishing at the lake behind the house as I gardened on gorgeous June nights. The last several months have been a constant smack of all the bad moments attacking my heart that I haven’t had much time to stop and close out all the good moments too. Dealing with financial nightmares, devestated kids, working to fill the void that your Master’s Degree always covered with ease. I’ve been in survival mode for almost a year. Getting through the day was quite an accomplishment. I took a giant leap and decided to move back to Florida where I was raised. I’m quite looking forward to sliding my feet into the white sand, and drinking a case of Corona, and waking to the sunrise the next morning from my spot where I passed out. I have wonderful memories of Florida, it has a calm to it that I need in my soul now more than ever. It’s where I made some of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life. It’s where my favorite church is, that I have never been able to replace. It’s where my grandparents are. But although I was raised in Florida, sweet home Alabama made me an adult. I’ve raised my children here, I’ve watched the sun set over the cotton fields and dilapidated barns and felt the hands of God on me. Quiet still moments, watching a giant bass jump for a morning bite to eat. I’ve worked on Missile Defense Programs and for NASA, I did adult things. I got married here. Buried dogs here. It’s in me. The clay held my feet firm to become an adult in all the same uniqueness that the shifting sands of my Florida youth helped build me. It’s a gorgeous March day as I look acrossed the back yard. My honeysuckle is on the verge of gorgeous. Once a tiny little plant from Lowe’s it has eaten up the whole back corner of fence now. It kept growing while we fought. It kept growing while you were being arrested. It kept growing when our sweet son graduated. It’s had soccer ball after soccer ball kicked into it, it never minded. Things are a little out of control in the yard right now, because to be honest since we split up, I haven’t cared to do anything with anything here, at our house. My mind moves forward to my new apartment that I sign the lease on tomorrow. There’s a gym and two swimming pools and it’s a mile from the beach. I look at the roses about to bloom. My heart aches. I failed. My heart swells. I am moving forward. Our names are scratched into the concrete on the back porch, because I happened to stop by during my lunch break when they were pouring the concrete. I close the boxes. It is time. I seal another one with clear plastic tape. I put extra on to make sure nothing escapes just for good measure. Knowing that your decisions are right, never seems to make them any easier. I’m waiting for a guy out of Birmingham to come pick up our pool table. He found it on Craigslist. Because that’s a thing. I want to light the house on fire. I think of the apartment, the interviews I have next week for work. The love that is in my life now. The happiness. How do you manage being happy with a heart full of unanswered hurt? Layers and layers and layers, just one cut off in traffic away from flipping shit upside down. Dry my eyes. Check my makeup. Dust myself off, again. It’s what I do. I am moving to Florida, tomorrow. It’s time for the next chapter. I should take that rose bush with me though. Reminder of how I am always falling up.

What Wakes Me in the Night

I’ve been standing in this space, caught between a thousand yesterdays, right now, and the shapeshifting fox of tomorrow for what feels like eternity disguised as mere seconds. Somewhere a clock ticks. I flinch. It sounds like judgement. A gavel. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tomorrow pours in but it’s wearing yesterday’s clothes. Is the future hungover? Just messy eyeliner and wrinkled clothes?  I glance at my feet and consider running, from what… I’m not sure. Am I running towards something or away from something else? I must hesitate for way too long because the floor gives out beneath me. I am being sucked through the tiny space of a giant hourglass of my life.  The sand on top of me is in my eyes, it’s in my hair, it’s slipping passed me, but I can’t get through the space. I don’t think I want through that space.   I’m pulling my feet back up, trying desperately to climb a nonexsistant wall of raining sand. Where am I going? What am I doing? I can’t fucking breathe in here. In these shoes, with the sand, in this glass… under your lens.  I can’t fucking breathe in here. 

Magnolia’s and Jameson

Magnolia and Jameson
Green glass
Scent of a Marlboro
and chrome
Daylight fading
Rear view mirrors
Wet feet
Just a dream
A lullaby
A whispered kiss
A stolen glance
I’ll sing while you drive
Sweet lullaby
Take a left
Hit the gas
Can’t look back
No, not this time
Day lights fading
Jukebox blazing
My saddles waiting
Shhhhhh it’s a lullaby
Tonight

Oh Sweet Possibility Days

Yesterday as I stalked …. I mean checked in on Hailey’s snapchat story, I was stopped dead in my tracks. Where I normally see her beautiful red lipstick smile, I saw this:


That is my lovely 15 year old. Rocking a plaid button up (and Converse…I just happen to know this part) and a quote from a song. Ahhhhh but it’s not just any song. This quote is from, “Possibility Days.”

I know, I know… I’m taking forever to make my point. That’s because this point, deserves time to settle in the air, like the smell of snow. It blanketed me in a full hearted smile for the rest of the day. Even now as I write this, I’m glowing. 

Possibility Days you see, are Days captured by none other than, The Counting Crows. I see her, in this image… leaning against the wall at school, headphones in, Converse on, and Counting Crows pouring into the mind of a soul that I helped make. This little person of mine, that’s transition so wonderfully into an adult, way… way… too quickly. 
 

Cheers little lady, maybe one day… we shall see them together!

Possibility Days:

It was a cold 3am at JFK

I guess you stayed ’cause you wanted to stay

We went from zero to everything all in a day

And then Kennedy took you away

I thought of a short
Robe that was keeping you warm

And the moments

That make up the light till you wake up

We sit on a swing and talk with the girl
She tells you she wanted to kiss you

And you know that the worst part of a good day

Is hearing yourself say goodbye

One more possibility day

Goes on, and on

I go west but your weather has changed
You’re just scared I’m mistaken for strange

When you want me to leave then

I start to believe I should stay

I’ve gotta get out of L.A.

It seems like the short days are over
‘Cause you don’t just don’t sleep in the daylight

So I don’t sit up nights

I lay on my back on top of the hill and your body

Is breaking the sky ’cause you’re shaking

And the worst part of a good day
Is knowing it’s slipping away

That’s one more possibility day

That is gone

We were waiting for winter this year
But you came and it never appeared

Me and you we know too many reasons

For people and season that pass

Like they weren’t even here

Now living in smiles is better you say
We carry the burdens of all of our days

Just so scared that you’ll leave

You’re scarred that I’ll stay

It’s an impossibility day

And we only saw half of the ballet
I said good night, good bye

Seems like a good thing

So you know it’s a good lie

You can run out of choices

And still hear a voice in your head

When you’re lying in bed

And it says that the best part of a bad day

Is knowing it’s okay

The color of everything changes
The sky rearranges it’s shade

And the smile doesn’t fade

Into the phone call

And one bad decision we’ve made

And the worst part of a good day
Is the one thing you don’t say

And you don’t know how but you

Wish there was some way so

And you pull down the shades
And you shut out the light

Because somehow you mixed up

Good bye and good night

And you one thing you won’t say
Is everyone knows possibility days

Are impossible

It just feels wrong, so wrong

Still you’re gone, long gone

Recently… in Photos


These two… there just aren’t enough beautiful words on the planet to give them. In giving them life, they have saved mine. They bring me peace and comfort that only daughters can. I’m honored to watch them grow into strong, caring young women. They’re my blood, my friends, my allies, my family. They challenge me, accept me, and make me a better person. I couldn’t ask for two more wonderful kids. Even in their sass, and frustrations, I wouldn’t have them any other way. 

-Lucky Mom ❤️

Romeo, Juliet, Reality Bites and Serendipity

imahhhhhhhges-1I have two, beautiful teenage daughters. Both of them happen to be in their first serious relationships. Now before you scoff, you scoffers… let me ask you all a question. What exactly is it that you scoff at? The first emotion that a child feels is love. (Before correcting me, hunger is not an emotion). The security and calm they feel wrapped in their mother’s arms, is love. In the purest of forms. Before it gets complicated and mixed with a thousand other words.

As these little creatures blossom into children, and then into teenagers, their capacity to love is still full, and complete. I’m not sure what makes parents jump in and intervene with sentences like, “You don’t know what love is,” “You’re too young to be in love,” or one of my personal favorites, “Boys your age are only after one thing.”

Let’s reflect, shall we?

downloftghgfhad-2“You don’t know what love is,”- ummmm have you not been showing your child since birth what love is? That it’s putting someone before yourself? That it’s being there for them, even when you’re upset with them? That when they fall down you will pick them up and brush them off? That love is a secure warm place of trust and loyalty? If your teenager doesn’t know what love is, YOU’VE done something wrong.

“You’re too young to be in love.”- Interesting. Too young to be so jaded, maybe. Too young to know what’s good for you, perhaps. Too young to be so full of hate, yes. Too young to know all of the struggles adults face in relationships, yes. But too young to be in love? Too young to know that being around someone makes you a better person? Too young to know that your  words get stuck in your throat and that you would actually ride your bike 15 miles just to see someone for 30 minutes? I disagree. Yes, as we age, how we view love changes, but that is solely because of our experiences with it. It isn’t love that changes. Love is timeless. It is steady. It is constant.

downdfhdghghgfhload-2“Boys your age are only after one thing,” – Well. Wow. How rude! That’s a pretty big assessment. And I have daughters!! I would hope my daughters are able to pick “those types” out. Because those type of people are all over the world, in career paths, in love, standing against you. They will hurt you. But that’s not all people. And hopefully, it isn’t the guy that you’ve spent 8 months dating through the 11th grade. That doesn’t really apply now does it? Are teenagers sexual. Yes. WE ALL WERE. Does that mean it’s all we were after? Does it mean once they got it, they were gone? Sometimes that is a real life lesson. But it’s not a cross the board assessment.  If your parents (even the ones that managed to wait until marriage)  tell you that they never thought it, they’re lying. And the fact that you would lie to your teen in a vulnerable time of their life, seems extremely counterproductive.

Moving forward, parents:

downloahhhhhd-2Think back to the very first person that made your breath catch in your throat. Think about the first person you loved doing absolutely anything with. How about the first person you were petrified to let see you in your bathing suit. Or naked? The person that you knew would be waiting for you when you came to school after a night of crying because of a fight with your parents. The teenage boy that was willing to risk the wrath of your father to throw rocks at your window just to tell you he loved you one more time. The one willing to look your father in the eye and say he would take care of you, and your dad believed him (as much as a daddy possibly can).

That love, ohhhh it’s sweet. It’s innocent. It’s unbroken. Whole. All encompassing. Before bills, before careers, before there was anything other than AP English and Geometry to pull your focus from each other.

imaghhhhhes-1I think what actually happens to parents… is life. They’ve experienced their hurts, their bruises, their stacks of bills to pay, and when they see that sparkle in their child they almost hate it, because they feel like it won’t last. That it will eventually just turn into a regular damn Tuesday. They don’t want their child to be let down, so they feel the need to tell them those destructive lines, to protect them somehow. What that does is actually create that rift where a teen feels like their parent doesn’t get them. Because they can’t see how they’re feeling, and how real it is.

imafffffges-1I’m writing this because currently, my oldest daughter (16) is dating a senior (he will be 18 in March) and his mother is not happy about the intensity of their relationship. As a protective parent, I get that feeling. I understand it. But I am not going to be a victim of it. I have the capacity to realize that the love these two feel, is very real. Songs are written about it. People reflect on the what ifs 20, 30, 50 years later. Shakespeare felt it. I also realize that intervention on my behalf will do nothing but create loathing and a gaping wound that also looks like a alligator filled mote between my daughter and I. Yes, they’re both honor students. Yes, he’s got a 32 on his ACTs. Yes, I understand that your fear of him giving up something because of his feelings for Hailey is a possibility.

What you aren’t realizing is this:

downloafydhd-2-If you make them break up, the what if column for that relationship goes crazy. Because they will not be breaking up on their own free will. You will make them both wonder, forever.  That creates complications in all of their future love decisions.

– They’re teenagers, let’s face it, the more you are against something (for what appears to be no reason) the more they will run toward it.

– You’ve raised a beautiful child. Who loves someone. You have a son that is trying to tell you that he loves a girl. Listen to him. Have you ever watched their faces around each other?

-Creating stress in his life while he is taking AP classes, taking final tests, and applying to college only will add more undue stress and make those things harder for him to focus on.

img_3513-Your frustration toward their relationship creates self doubt in my daughter, about her self-worth, and why you would see her as something bad for your son, when she clearly cares for his well being.

Lastly… what you aren’t realizing is:

-They’re smart kids. Teenagers. Smart ones. Smart teenagers. Read that again. They’re both brilliant academically.   They have goals. Ambitions. They make each other study. If you get rid of Hailey… after he mourns the loss of that good relationship, what might his next girl friend be like? Or will you be like this his whole life? To any woman in his life? Will that rift make him come home often once he’s out on his own? Or will Christmas at your house be something he suffers through every five years?

img_3811Let’s face it.

We want the best for them. Right now the best for them, is a warm bed, good grades, loving parents, siblings to argue with, and each other. Until one of them changes any of those factors, why not enjoy that expression on their faces. The giddiness in their voices. The fact that they communicate with us, openly.  Why would you stand against that?

My Name IS…..

dotjyjuwnloadLet me paint you a picture people…. there’s this moment when you walk into a room, full of people you don’t know… and you go to introduce yourself…. and you do it wrong. Yea. Sounds dumb doesn’t it. But it happened to me today. Guys, hopefully you’ve never had this problem. But I am stuck in a transition where my name is… multiple things. Since my divorce I have begun the transition of changing my name back to my maiden name. A name that I haven’t used in 17 years. So my name on paper has been  changed. It’s once again Jeanna Marie Baker. A name that almost feels foreign to me now. I know that’s what it was. What I was born to be. It is who I am. Down deep. It’s the core of me.

imavhhhges-1But as I stood in a room today where I had to introduce myself, as I shook hands, heard their name, I said… “Jeanna Holbrook, nice to meet you.” It came right out of my mouth, perfectly naturally, like it has for a long time, but right about BROOK, I choked on the word. It stuck in my throat, as I realized that I don’t even know what my name is right now. There is an extremely confusing lost moment in that. I pushed through it, made a joke, kept moving. But inside, so much caught in the quiet voice of my mind. Arguing with itself. I am… still me. Why as women do we lose so much of ourselves in a marriage? And as my name continues to change on identification, passports, badges, email accounts…. how long will it take before I know what it is, myself?

Murder of One

crows-1Blue morning Blue morning Wrapped in strands of fist and bone
Curiosity, Kitten,
Doesn’t have to mean you’re on your own
You can look outside your window
He doesn’t have to know
We can talk awhile, baby
We can take it nice and slow
All your life is such a shame, shame, shame
All your love is just a dream, dream, dream
Are you happy when you’re sleeping?
Does he keep you safe and warm?
Does he tell you when you’re sorry?
Does he tell you when you’re wrong?
I’ve been watching you for hours
It’s been years since we were born
dowhghgnload-2We were perfect when we started
I’ve been wondering where we’ve gone
All your life is such a shame
All your love is just a dream
I dreamt I saw you walking up a hillside in the snow
Casting shadows on the winter sky as you stood there
counting crows
One for sorrow Two for joy
Three for girls and four for boys
Five for silver Six for gold and
Seven for a secret never to be told
There’s a bird that nests inside you
Sleeping underneath your skin
When you open up your wings to speak
I wish you’d let me in
All your life is such a shame
All your love is just a dream
Open up your eyes
You can see the flames of your wasted life
You should be ashamed
You don’t want to waste your life
I walk along these hillsides In the summer ‘neath the sunshine
I am feathered by the moonlight falling down on me
Change, change, change

ijjjmages-1This Counting Crows song has been my very, favorite song… since I was 11. It’s changed for me often through the years. The meaning, the emotion, the angst, the hope….actually I suppose it is me that’s changed, the song remains the same. Regardless, I heard it the other night, while I was waiting to meet up with Stuart, and once again I was hearing the song for the first time it seemed, and this is why.

For a long, long time, I lived without ever really being myself. I let myself become a miniature clone of my ex husband, because it was easier than fighting to be myself.  I was tired of arguing. Tired of constantly being wrong. Exhausted with feeling like a crazy person when I disagreed or wanted to do something differently. I learned how to bass fish, I joined his pool team, I watched NASCAR, I allowed LSU throw blankets on the couch… these may seem like little things, but if you knew him, you would know they weren’t. Everything we did, we did hugely. I stopped reading, writing, taking pictures, listening to my favorite bands when we were together, there wasn’t room for who I was, in the marriage.

Are you happy when you’re sleeping?
Does he keep you safe and warm?
Does he tell you when you’re sorry?
Does he tell you when you’re wrong?
I’ve been watching you for hours
It’s been years since we were born.

download-1The way that he asks the questions in the song, they’re on fire. The words are tearing, they’re prying, they’re abrasive, but soft and sweet… he’s asking her… to be honest. To confess where her mind is at. He’s asking her intimate questions, that he already knows the answers to, because he knows that she needs to hear her own answers out loud. He’s trying to make her see the cage that she’s allowed herself to call home.  He did keep her safe, and warm. She was provided for. And told when she was sorry. And told when she was wrong.

It’s through an honest, equal, caring relationship; built on mutual respect and admiration, that I am starting to see just how… not right… my marriage was. It wasn’t healthy. There is so much bound up in my mind over how I allowed that. It is almost confusing for me, because I know myself to be strong. I never necessarily felt weak in my marriage, but I never felt calm and at peace either. It’s an incredibly slow fade.  I recently read an article about nurturers that are in love with narcissistic people, and it’s not that they’re weak, it’s their compassion that is their undoing. It’s their strong desire for those that they care about to be happy and fulfilled that leads them into a world where they’re no longer  taking care of themselves mentally, and a narcissist will continue to just beat them down. It becomes easier to just go along with things than to fight over them. When you do make a stance over something like watching another NASCAR race, or defending the kids over their laundry being done… you’ve been so warped and trained that even hearing yourself argue about it, you instantly feel wrong. It’s a stupid argument. Are you really going to make a stance over watching a certain TV show? Aren’t you over reacting? Aren’t you being stupid? Why are you always such a jerk?
img_3810Looking back into the last ten years, I am starting to see things with an alarming clarity. To be honest, it’s hard to feel worthy of the good, healthy relationship. That itself is actually taking mental retraining. To know that my opinion isn’t going to be an argument or misconstrued as a personal attack. It’s a road that I am walking for the first time. Of course as everything does, my genuine happiness so soon after a divorce, has come with it’s share of criticism from people that think they knew my marriage.  But I’m not focused on that anymore. I can’t be. I carried guilt through the whole marriage, it was always me screwing up, me not doing things that made him happy, me overreacting, my fault, my fault, my fault. And I carried it. Now that I am free from it, I refuse to carry the guilt forward with me. I’ve put it down. The song pours over me again:

There’s a bird that nests inside you
Sleeping underneath your skin
When you open up your wings to speak
I wish you’d let me in

I am finding my focus again. I’m focused on Hailey and Faith seeing their mother be strong and able to care for and defend them on my own. I’m focused on learning to be in a healthy relationship with someone that adores me.  Being a better daughter, sister, friend… person. That’s where my energies are these days. I can’t change my past, but I can use it to make my future better. It comes back to me:

I walk along these hillsides In the summer ‘neath the sunshine
I am feathered by the moonlight falling down on me
Change, change, change.

imagejuhjjs-1