A family of strangers

On Monday I will graduate from Project Diversity, a United Way of Central Ohio program for minorities who have shown qualities of leadership for the Columbus community. It has been a long and winding road, paved with tears, milk, laughs, and even some disagreements that started at a “tell all” retreat back in April. Boy, if we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into!

Divorce, death, court dates, job changes, difficult everyday circumstances are just a few of the things Cycle 26 experienced in, what felt like, just a few short months. These people learned more about me in this short time than most people who have known me all my life. We opened up, made ourselves completely vunerable to people we didn’t even know. We put the weight of our success in the project on each other’s shoulders, and we even had to lend those shoulders for a few tears along the way.

I am not the greatest at putting myself out there in some ways, but I am slowly learning to do it just a little bit more. I met a group of people who, might not always agree with me, but will have my back if I ever need them. That’s because I have a lot of dirt on them from the retreat, so it’s more like blackmail! Oh, blackmail, no pun intended! ūüėČ

Seriously, I don’t know if I could have made it through these past few months without this project to work on and the amazing team members to work with. We have become more than teammates, we are a family, and nothing can take that away from us. The project that we completed was just the ancillary benefit, to me. The opportunity to work with and meet new people from much different backgrounds and experiences is priceless. We also bonded with some of best and fabulously gay new friends in Pride Leadership Cycle 10 and I would go to bat for them any day of the week and twice on Sunday because of the hearts of this group.

I wish everyone could experience something like this, because then maybe we wouldn’t be so damn mad and quick to judge all the time. We all have our idiosyncrasies, but damn if that doesn’t make us special and even more lovable. If I could build my own community, I would live in a bubble with PD26/PL10, maybe even with Shayne, Garth, and Nora, too!

To PD26/PL10, I love you all from the bottom of my heart and I hope you know what you all mean to me. You are a part of me, you pushed me, you made me cry. I will always be there for every damn one of you, even you, Kevin! ūüėČ

Reardon out, before I cry! Xoxo

Do you know what today is?

I have had that song in my head all day, “Anniversary” by Tony Toni Tone.

Yesterday, I celebrated one year with my new, state of the art, titanium knee. You have heard the story about that already, but I will say again, I FEEL AMAZING! I never thought I would be able to walk pain free again, but here I am feeling better than ever.

But, as the sun went down on that remarkable day, I entered into another anniversary on 10/6, but I won’t be celebrating. Today is my 10th wedding anniversary, but instead of spending it with my husband at a nice restaurant drinking wine and eating delicious food, I am spending it alone. It feels appropriate that the traditional gift for a 10-year marriage is made of tin or aluminum, (some might say my titanium knee fits the category). The Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz was looking for his heart, as I am still searching for the remnants of mine.

I had a conversation with a friend last weekend and we talked about this upcoming day and how I was going to spend it. I blocked this weekend off in my mental calendar¬†many months ago, knowing that my emotions would be unpredictable and it would be better to approach my activities as they come and not commit to anything. I took a personal day from work to do whatever it is I am moved to do. That could include a few tears, some screaming, most likely some Netflix binging, but mostly I’m using the day to relax, remember, read, and recharge.

Facebook has its endearing way of reminding you that you have birthday or special event coming up, and they didn’t disappoint the last two days. Yesterday’s photo was one of the best photos of my husband and I together, I had to stop and smile because we both look happy. Happy being together, enjoying our marriage and the successes that we have experienced. Just. Happy. It is hard to imagine that this picture now represents something and someone who is in my past. I am still happy, but in a much different way and for much different reasons. I still look back fondly on the last 10 years, well, maybe minus the last year, but the next week or so has a few more “anniversaries” that I’m just not ready to remember.

I have to find new things, exciting reasons to remember these days. Today’s Facebook reminder was a photo of my father and I dancing at my wedding. I will remember this day as one that my father lived his life for, he wanted to make it to the day that he walked me down the aisle and gave me away to the man he trusted to take care of me and my son for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, that promise has been broken, but I will never forget being able to share this day with him as a distraction from the cancer he was fighting. It was a beautiful moment for our entire family, one that I will use as my reason to continue commemorating October 6, 2007.

Me and Pat

 

Dad wedding

The World Needs YOUR Gifts

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On more than one occasion I have talked to someone who thinks what they do everyday has no value to the world. “I am just a stay at home mom.” “I am just a department store manager.” I even found myself telling someone how I “just” wrote a book. No one is just anything, unless you are “just me.”

We all have a purpose on this earth and unfortunately, not all of us arrive at our final, ordained destination because we don’t even know there is a road paved JUST for us. Have you ever sat still, in quiet and thought about the traits and gifts that you bring to your community, family, and friends? If you haven’t, you really need to try it. Now. Like put the phone down, turn off the tv and take inventory of what you do to help others. Don’t worry, this blog will be here when you’re done, this is important.

That dinner that you made for your husband and kids last week? That’s a gift. When you said hi and exchanged pleasantries with the stranger at the grocery store? You just gifted someone you don’t even know. Crazy, right?

We receive the gift of life with each new day. As we learned when we were growing up, we are to share those gifts with others, not keep them bottled up all to ourselves. We share because I don’t have the same gifts that you do you and you don’t have the same gifts that I do and we don’t have the same gifts as the next person. Think about a Christmas tree lit up on Christmas morning, the smells of dinner wafting through the house, enticing you from your slumber to the room where the family will congregate to fellowship. When you were a toddler and a pre-teen, remember counting all of those gifts under the tree, trying to see just how good Santa thought¬†you were this year? Guessing what was in all the boxes, wondering if you got THE gift you had hoped the most for? Seeing all of the gifts so neatly wrapped with bows and ribbons under the tree was exciting, you were even excited to see what was in everyone else’s boxes, because it meant that you would get to play with it or wear it, too.

The same¬†applies to¬†our spiritual and worldly gifts, we are to share. Share our knowledge, our experiences, our gifts so that we can help, serve, and encourage others. A¬†flower¬†can grow from¬†a¬†seed after being covered with dirt, but without water, it cannot survive and grow without the specific¬†gift of the water. The water can’t grow a flower without the seed and the dirt. And, you see, at the end of the process, none of them get the¬†credit. Who gets the credit? The flower, who didn’t stand a chance without the dirt, seed, and water.

What gifts do you have to offer this world? How can you use them? What is keeping you from using them right now? If you have trouble answering any of these questions, please email me at treardon@tezlynreardon.com and I will help you figure it out!

Growing Up in the Middle

Middle-class. Middle-America. Middle-of-the -road. That’s where I grew up. In a small town in Southeastern Ohio, along the Appalachian Superhighway, I learned what it meant to be in the middle. The middle doesn’t seem so bad, and it sounds awfully cozy, like I could curl up and take a nap in “the middle.” The best part of an Oreo cookie is the middle, right?

My middle is alarmingly unlike your view of the middle because, here, I get to see both sides of the road, but one step too close to one side would alter the rest of my life. And it wouldn’t be pretty.

In these times of dissention and detest, turmoil and torment, hate and hopelessness, the best place for me to stand is right in the middle. You see, I was born to a white male and a black female in the mid-1970’s, so that makes me biracial, middle of the races. It also makes me confused, sometimes guilt-ridden, often times assumed privileged. I hear the stories from my fellow brown folks about their latest rendezvous with not so middle of the road law enforcement or everyday bigots John and Jane Doe and I feel guilty. Guilty because I’m not judged in a split second based on the color of my skin. Guilty because most, at first glance, assume I am “one of them” and carry on with racist and judgemental banter as if they are waiting for me to join in on the barrage of 50% of my heritage. And then they find out I am half black and try to moonwalk their way out of their despicable comments, and we all know white folks can’t dance.

Being in the middle is a luxury, in a sense, because I can relate to both sides of most issues. Trust me, I have plenty of times when I wholeheartedly disagree with one side of the road, due mostly to ignorance or miseducation, but I try to go to the other side to see what they see. I wish everyone would take a step across the road and see what the view is from the side that they don’t understand. At the very least, come join me in the middle for a conversation and let me enlighten you.

It’s all about perspective and compassion for our fellow human beings. Or at least that’s what I see from my view… in the middle.

Purge and Repurpose

Over the last 12 months following my initial separation, between all of the dividing,¬†uncoupling, and replaying of old memories while going through 14 years of photos and accumulated “stuff”, I have come to one conclusion: I have A LOT of crap!

I am making the next month of my life the Purge and Repurpose season. Purging all of those things that we threw in the guest room closet because we didn’t know what to do with it, but we just knew we would use it sometime. Getting rid of the broken toys and outdated books that are strewn throughout the boy’s playroom. I might even sneak a few of those damn Legos into the donation box, that will show them for all of the times I stepped on the little suckers while chasing my son around the house. I am even going to consolidate my shoe collection down to a reasonable row or two instead of the pile of mismatched heels and flats that I have to go through every morning to find what to wear for the day. That might take more than a month, I might have to commit to a year to say good bye to my beautiful babies.

I have said many times in this transition to my new normal that I want to start fresh with new furniture, paint, projects that I have wanted to do since we moved into this house 4 years ago. I want to make the old memories go away so I can work on new ones. I want new voices to invade the halls of this home that was once filled with laughter and love. I brought a new boy to the house in June, our crazy lab mix, Hopper. Of course he’s not a pure breed because no one in our house is, he fits right in.

Instead of starting completely over and trying to forget all of the things that we once shared, I decided to repurpose a few items, give them a new perspective, something better. You don’t have to change everything to start fresh. That chair that doesn’t get uses in the basement? It now has a perfect, useful position in the room that is now my new workspace. The desk holding my 2008 Gateway computer that takes no less than 10 minutes to start? It is now a crucial part of the new Nerf war zone in my basement. They all still have purpose, but now in a new location, with new opportunities to serve, just when I was ready to put them on the curb.

I think we can all relate to feeling like we were purged, when maybe we are just being repurposed for another, better, greater purpose. Think about that the next time you do your spring cleaning, whether it be literally sweeping your house, dusting cobwebs or sifting through your cell phone or Facebook contemplating who to purge and who to repurpose.

 

 

You take the good, you take the bad

When I started this blog and this journey of sharing my story with others, I knew I would have to share it all. The good days. The bad days. It is my purpose to put it all out there. Today is one of those days.

I hate roller coasters. And, suddenly, my life has become a daily version of the Dragster at Cedar Point. And it literally is that drastic. All the way up to the highest of highs, zooming down to the lowest of lows, in a matter of seconds. I just want to get off of the ride that I didn’t even stand in line for. Somehow I have a fast pass to skip in front of every other person who waits in line for 2 hours of their lives for this thrill ride. And I don’t want it. I guess I just better learn how to close my eyes and hold my breath and make sure I wait 30 minutes after meals to get back on.

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Forty Years of Practice (sneak peek)

As I am patiently waiting for the final, physical book to land in my hands, I thought it might be appropriate to throw out another nugget to keep you in suspense for what is to come. I don’t have an update, but crossing my fingers that it will be available before the end of 2017. What a way to end the year.

This paragraph is the beginning of one of the most defining, frustrating, and stressful periods of my life. But, it also might have been the time when I learned the most about myself, my family, and my dad.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† On February 13,¬† 2005 I got the call that would change the course of my family‚Äôs life forever. My mom called me on my cell phone to tell me, ‚ÄúYour dad has cancer.‚ÄĚ Not only did he have cancer, but it was stage IV, which meant that it had spread from one part of his body to another, it had metastasized. They determined that he had renal cell carcinoma, better known as kidney cancer, and he may have 3-6 months to live. I don‚Äôt remember much after that. I just remember telling my manager that I had to go and the next thing I know I‚Äôm in the hospital running up to my dad‚Äôs room in a fog. I‚Äôm not even sure how I got to the hospital. I‚Äôm pretty sure I drove about 90 mph and if I got pulled over, well, he would just have to follow me to the hospital and give me the ticket in the elevator. Nothing was keeping me from my mom and dad. Besides, this was the reason I was brought back to Ohio, I was now learning.