Thursday, September 9, 2010

8 Sisters with our Children ~ Reunited!

These Photos speak for themselves.....
My sisters and I ~ ALL 8 of us together!

All our Son's
All our Daughters

Hats Off Ladies!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

SISTERS! I am Blessed with SEVEN!!!

This is the last Family Photo that was taken when we were all together, looks familiar because its on my Blog Page ~ I am blessed to be the oldest of ALL 8 Girls, and yes, we all have the same parents! Still alive & Kicking I might add!!
Johnson Girls with Mom & Dad ~ Summer 2001
We will all be together again this weekend for a long awaited reunion and a lot has happened in 9 years ~ (I hope I get this right) I got Divorced, moved from FL to NC and am now engaged to be married next Fall, Lydia got Married & became a Step Grandma, Irene (already married) bought a house & had a baby, Nili got married, traveled around the world, and had a miracle baby ~ Grace (already married) had two babies, Charity got married & had two babies, Doris got married & had three babies, Viviane got married, had a baby & is now divorced. Mom & Dad are still together, they sold the family home in SC and bought their retirement home in the NC mountains, they travel every year to India doing the missions work they love!
Mom & Dad in 1969
We are all going to be together this weekend ~ I think we are all excited and a little anxious as we are all very different individuals! Put any 8 grown women in a room and not all of them will agree, get along or even like each other! I am not sure if some of us would even know each other, aside from the fact that we are sisters, we have nothing in common, don't travel in the same cirles, don't believe the same things, don't raise our children the same way, I could go one and on about our vast differences but I am more inclined to focus on how awesome it is that we are all ALIVE, Healthy, Happy & We all LOVE each other! That in itself is a miracle!!

I used to have nightmares about one of us getting kid napped when we were younger, Mom always did a head count ~ We 'lost' a few over the years in stores or by leaving them sleeping in a car, but nothing that was not easily remedied!
I always liked the Russian Dolls, reminded me of me & my sisters, all alike, 8 little blondes in a row all dressed alike...
Being the oldest, I got to welcome each of them into the world. By the time the last 2 were born I was pretty much over it, I didn't want any more sisters.....I would not trade any one of them for all the wealth in the world...We are 8 sisters strong and even though we may not agree, we are always there for each other in the whatever way we can be, doing what we can to help the other out. 
I know if needed, any one of us would do whatever we could to help the other, because we love each other ~ Johnson Sisters, ALL for one and ONE for ALL!
Unfortunately, I have put my family through more Hell than most of the girls....just a brief history (bear with me as I go down memory lane for a moment) I left home a month before my 18th birthday, moved to NC and had very little contact with my family for about a year ( I was angry and bitter about everything)....My baby sister Viviane was just 5 years old so I missed out on her growing up more than any of the others. I got married that Winter & 2 years later had a son, the first grand baby and the first BOY!! Less than 2 years later, I was a single mom having no tolerance for a cheating husband! I went back to SC and my younger sisters were a lifesaver for me, taking turns watching my son as I worked 2 and/or 3 jobs sometimes to make ends meet.

Skeletons in the closet, we all have them...
I dated my 2nd ex husband for many years, first moved to FL then moved back to NC where I learned how to be a successful single woman & mom on my own ~ I moved to FL again, that is where he is from & once again had very little contact with my family ~ I got married a second time because I was pregnant (never a good reason, NEVER) He was very abusive in every way and as the years passed the abuse worsened. I hate to say, my family had to sit on the sidelines and watch the slow motion train wreck that was my life, It went on for over 10 years.....I self medicated with alcohol and my adult behavior was questionable at times, it took me a long time to leave him and even longer to get the help I needed to be the strong independent women my family knew me to be!! I always knew they were praying for me...even when I didnt know how to pray for myself!!
I stayed in FL working hard, going to therapy, attending self help groups, bonding with my rugrats, staying focused on being a good mom; I had given up on Love and that was when I reunited with my Mr. Man! He was the first man in the house aside from our Dad, All my sisters remembered him and he has fit into our family comfortably.

During some of the darkest moments in my life, It was my family that was there to rescue me, lift me up, give me a place to live, and at times even take care of me & my children. It was hard for them to see me battered and bruised and then watch as I would return for was incomprehensible!! Yet, No matter how different we are, how many fights we have had or how much we tend to disagree, My sisters were ALWAYS there for me as much as they could be and without them, I would not be here today, steady and strong, kinder and gentler. forgiving and accepting ~ I guess I finally grew up....
It was just 2 years ago I gave them all a big scare when I fell 2 stories to the pavement, crushing my right ankle, left hand & shattered left eye socket ~ I could have died that night. I am no longer a dare devil, although I don't think I will ever be afraid of heights!When I was in the hospital, I found in my purse, handwritten notes addressed to each one of my sisters. Tears streamed down my face as I realized that those notes could have been the last ones they ever received from me! Thankfully, I am still able to write them letters & notes.....
This weekend will be filled with fun & Laughter and I am sure a sprinkle of tears will be mixed in too, you can't have an unemotional day with 8 women in the same room.  I got more personal about my own life in this blog, it felt good to write it all down, felt even better to be reminded of how awesome my sisters are, they have never let me down! I am Blessed beyond Measure ~ God has been Good to us all!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Grandpa is with Grandma now.....

Stairway to Heaven
Grandpa died 2 days ago ~ Joined Grandma in Heaven almost 9 years to the day that she went to her eternal home. They are together once again!
 One of my first memories of my grandparents was sitting in the back seat of their car and every time Grandma would see a car with a head light out, she would lean in for her Kiss from Grandpa! I thought it was so gross as a kid but now I think its endearingly sweet!!
A Few other memories that come to mind in one word descriptions...Taco night, Back yard Swimming pool, baby turtles, Chihuahuas, the color Orange everywhere, false teeth that made us laugh or cry depending on how old we were, Monster wedding cakes Grandma used to make, Watercolor Painting, Hard Candy in the candy bowl, Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, .....
Grandpa Herring Winter 2007
I gave them their first Great Grand child and as a grown woman, I loved just calling him on the phone for a good discussion/debate about whatever topic was on his mind that day! He loved to talk politics and religion and I always had a good argument for him, He loved it!! They were complete opposites in so many ways, balancing each other out was what they did best.  Grandma & Grandpa Herring stuck it out even when they didn't want to...because it was the right thing to do.

I was able to have Grandpa visit me in Florida almost 3 years ago and what a joy it was to have him around! The timing was not good as I was working two jobs, going to real estate school 2 nights a week and maintaining my role as a single mom.
Grandpa with Garrett & Savanna Winter 2007
I told him I would make as much time for him as I could during his stay  and I am so thankful I was brave enough to take him on, the time together was priceless, the kids got to know who he was and we even took him out to the beach before his visit was over.

I will miss my Grandpa, I am sad he is gone but happy in my heart that he is no longer in pain, He is finally in the best place he can possibly be in...Heaven!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I like the ME that I See

Over year ago I was still living in Florida, working my real estate job and living my life as a full time single mom to the rugrats, carrying on the long distance relationship with Mr. Man as we got reaquainted with each other all over again. We were together at least every other weekend for 18 months, he came to Florida most weekends, I traveled too. We loved meeting on Tybee Island for Honeymoon weekends!  

Halloween 2009 ~ I was in a wheelchair and they took turns pushing, I was still able to be a part of the Trick or Treat Fun!

During the week, the kids and I stayed busy as ever with a packed schedule. I kept us occupied and doing things together; We had library night weekly, BFF dinner night, Spaghetti night with the kids sometimes,  Mexican dinner night out most weeks and the monthly Art Walk down town as well as events going on at the beach, we were there if at all possible. I always tried to have as much FUN with the rugrats and their friends as possible. Mr. Man fit nicely into our family and spent time with my daughter one on one at the Pier fishing as well as taking the time to get to know my teenage son and ALL his friends.
  ME with my son May 2010 ( hard to get him to take a photo with mom any more)
There were many extra rugrats (teenagers) in our home; since my son was in 7th grade, he asked if a kid could stay with us for a bit because his mom lived in a hotel and his friend was riding a city bus to get to the school bus stop out side our apartments. I said yes and that began the consistent flow of kids that were in need for many years. Our house was always FULL of extra bodies but they were safe and that made me happy ~ The Ultimate  "Paying It Forward" that I could do! I miss my extra 'kids', I love them all and think about them, still worry about some.... and pray for them all (Another Blog subject entirely)
ME in 2001 ~ I've come a LONG way since his Middle School years!!!
As I prepared for Open house tonight for my daughter's 7th grade year, I looked in the mirror at an entirely different person from 1 year ago and way different from the woman I was 8 years ago as I took my son to Middle school.

I like the woman I see; wise beyond her years, compassionate and empathetic, more calm and relaxed about life, accepting of the good and the bad, the happy and the sad. Knowledge of self really opens your eyes to others, I think its like the quote I read once says...What we see in others is a direct reflection of ourselves, good and bad.
ME in November 2008 ~ I took this and framed it as a gift for MR. Man
What I see in others that I like, I can try to emulate because that is a reflection of who I want to be, if it is something I don't like , I realize its something I need to work on within myself. There is always room for improvement and as I mature, I will continually look for the good in others so I can learn from them.

ME with my Daughter March 2010 ~ We both celebrated Birthdays ~ she is now 12 =)
The lines in my face, the body that is now 40,  the stubborn white hair that I have to cover up, the aches and pains, the body parts that just don't work like they used to or stay the same, but nothing stays the same, change is inevitable!  I look at these photos and see how much the rugrats have grown in just the last 2 years. I am proud to be their Mom ~ they challenge me and encourage me without even being aware of the impact it has on my life, to have the privilege of giving them life still amazes me sometimes! 

I embrace it, it is challenging but necessary for us to evolve and grow so we can live to our full potential! 
ME with Mr. Man on Tybee Island for his 41st Birthday celebration!
I like the ME that I See  ~ 5 years ago I would not have imagined feeling this way!

It's another one of those miracles in my life.....I am Blessed!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

a few things I've learned about LIFE =)

I've learned that I have a lot of compassion for people
I've learned that crying & admitting that you're wrong
are signs of strength not weakness
I've learned that love is more important
than power, money or sex
I've learned that forgivness heals everyone
most importantly YOU
I've learned that laughter is truly the best medicine
for the soul 
I've learned that you can't take life too seriously
I've learned that sometimes listening to what others have to say
is the BEST therapy
I've learned that how other people treat you is their karma
and how you react is yours
I've learned that I've learned a lot so far but still
know so very little.....
a few more things I know....
Life is too short so
Kiss longer, Laugh harder, Love deeper, Smile sweeter

May you always have
enough happiness to keep you sweet;
enough trials to keep you strong;
enough success to keep you eager;
and enough faith to give you courage
and enough determination to make each day

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Attitude ~ Pure Choice!

I have been under the weather mentally the past few months, with all the changes I have gone through and am still experiencing, it's a bit overwhelming at times. I TRY to always rise above whatever drama is stirring up around me and I know that regardless of the situation, I can control my reaction to what is happening even when I have no control over what is happening at that time. Attitude is a choice!!
I CHOOSE to be happy and content as well as maintain a positive attitude most of the time, but that is not always possible. It is a lesson I am doomed to repeat every day, I will continue to repeat this lesson until I learn how to make the best choice, until it becomes second nature to me! I feel it is necessary in the world around me. I am surrounded by drama and craziness of all kinds and on every level, literally! If I catch the bad attitudes going around that are toxic and contagious then I am no better than they are!!
I want to be a good example, to rise above it and I am trying every day and will continue to do so!
I had a milestone 'anniversary' of sorts last week, celebrating the fact that I am still alive and well. The physical challenges and circumstances I am dealing with due to my own bad judgement could haunt me for the rest of my life if I let it....I was reliving that awful night two years ago with my BFF who was there with me....we talked about what could have been...We both got teary eyed just thinking about it!! I am sooo lucky I survived that almost fatal fall. I knew after it happened that I could choose to be down in the dumps about it and wallow in self pity OR I could choose to see the blessings around me each and every day, I chose the latter and I learned how to appreciate the little things in life....
Life is made up of lots of little things that when put together make a pretty incredible picture...its all in how we paint that picture in our head.

I have been accused of being a 'Polly Anna' ~ I will take that as a compliment!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Recovery from Major Surgery ~ The Challenge of it all!!

I am recovering from ankle fusion surgery ~ if you read my blog you know the story.... about 2 years ago I fell 25' to the pavement from a 2nd story balcony railing, I was sitting on and I lost my balance. (You can read all about it in the archived blogs from 2008) Long story short ~ the surgical repair that was initially done was not made to be a lasting fix, the surgery I had done June 30 this year was permenant  ~ The hard part is that I have to stay OFF my foot, no weight bearing for quite a long time ~ a minimum of 4 months down and out, for anyone who knows me, this is pure torture!!!

I am thankful for my laptop and my blackberry ~ I am pretty much cut off  from the outside world and it makes for a very lonely world, even though it is temporary, it doesn't make it any easier!!! I have friends on line and most days that is the only interaction I have with the world outside of these wall.
I have projects I am working on to keep me busy and a wonderful caregivers. It is just hard to sit in the same place day after day only getting up and around when I have to. I am clumsy anyway and cannot seem to get the hang of these damn crutches, even around the house, it is dangerous for me to get out of bed without supervision.
I missed watching our Garden grow, the puppies are not little anymore and have learned to live outside, howling and barking as only beagles do ~ My son will be 20 this week and there is no extra money to fund celebrations, we are on a 'poverty budget' while I am down and out and that is another thing I am having a hard time dealing with. We have everything we need but no extras....I have been employed since I was 15 years old, it is foreign territory for me to not have a job to go to.
I started my on Fashion Jewelry business in May and it will be slow going until I can get out there and DRIVE...I am doing what I can with mystery hostess shows at my house once monthly and catalog shows all over the place with friends near and far...I know I will be successful, I also know I can make more money than I did at the job I had in catering prior to surgery ~ I just don't do SLOW!!!! I am used to hitting the ground running and in Stilettos no less!!!
I know its temporary and I will look back on this time in my life, probably wishing for days like this ~ Comfy Jammie's all day, nothing to do but lay around and be waited in hand and foot!! I am used to being the caretaker...
I will survive this and look forward to walking down the aisle next fall to marry the man of my dreams ~ My ROCK!!