LynnMarie

Grammy Nominated Artist, Storyteller & Motivational Entertainer

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Misplaced Anger

I’m was sitting in line at the in emissions testing with the car turned off… because I was hoping and praying it would pass. I’m not sure if shutting off the car while I sit in 90° heat with no air conditioning will help at all, but I’m willing to sweat if there’s the slightest chance. I NEED this car to pass. I have a 2003 Honda Pilot with 285,000 on it. So, I sit. And I sweat. And I pray, “Please pass, please pass” over and over.  After forty-five minutes in line, I was able to clean out the glove compartment and my purse.

I was hoping I’d find some slightly melted chocolate or a few old Twizzlers, but no luck.

All of a sudden, I hear a loud bang and hard push forward. “What the hell?” The woman in line behind me hit me.  Augh.

I get out and I realize that her car, old and maroon (don’t ask me what make or year, I don’t care or know) but what I do see is part of her front end is being held together with duct tape.

I’m guessing this isn’t the first time she rear-ended someone.

She gets out. She’s shaking.  She was an African-American woman probably in her sixties. As she wipes her tears, she just keeps saying over and over, “Oh, dear Jesus, oh dear Jesus, oh dear Jesus.” I notice that she prays short prayers too. I put my hand gently on her shoulder and I say, “It’s going to be OK. It looks like it’s just a small scratch and a crack” Her response to me was,

“Oh no it’s not, I know how things like this work. Small things usually lead to big things.”

I ask her if she has insurance. She does not. She continues to say, “Oh dear Jesus,” over and over. I ask her for her name and number. Her name is June. I tell her that I’m going to call my insurance company and I retreat back to my car. I know in my logical brain that the car is fine. It’s just a scratch and honestly, I ran into a concrete pole a few months back and I’m sure MOST of the scratches were from that. But I’m angry. And I’m sad.

About a lot of things lately, like my weight gain and the heat and not finding chocolate and a whole lot of things that are better left unspoken. And now, I can take them out on June!

I called Eddie. He wants to be angry about a lot of things as well right now, so we’re no help to each other. I call my brother Lenny, hoping he might let me be angry at June. My brother reminds me of how well this old Honda Pilot has served me and how many scrapes I put on it myself. He reminds me to breathe.

A few deep breaths later, and I decide to let it go. As the sweat drips down my nose and I move another car length closer to the testing, I decide to try to extend grace. Grace. Because grace is what I would want. Forgiveness over anger always wins.

I walk over to her car.  She still crying. I grab her hand and say, “It’s OK, I’m not going to report it. Just be careful out there.” She cries even harder and looks at me and says,

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” The other short awesome prayer.

As I walk back to my car I feel a wave of relief. Relief! Relief that I don’t have to hold on to one more ounce of anger about anything. I didn’t want to be mad at her anyway. Misplaced anger benefits no one. I’m trusting that the words she said to me, that ‘small things can lead to big things someday’ will work in my favor in the future.

Back in my car it’s finally my turn. For a brief moment I think, “If I’ve waited in this car for ninety-minutes for nothing, in the freakin’ heat with no chocolate and I don’t pass this emissions test and June does, I’m going to be so pissed.”

They run the test.

I didn’t pass.


The Plunger

I had to use the plunger this morning. I know, not the thing someone would normally put on Facebook. Usually, posts are about beautiful beach vacations or fabulous dinners or selfies with friends.  Most of us (i.e. me) like to use social media to present our wonderful gorgeous looking lives, where we are posed perfectly to look thin, and with a face filter to soften the widening wrinkles.

But this is not truth. Truth is plunging the toilet.

Truth is situations in life that make us (i.e. me) feel stuck, a mess, stinky, and needing a major push from God to get moving. (But knowing that truth is hard to swallow sometimes, I’m using a edited photo of Eddie and I on the beach for this post! Hehe)

People have asked me, “Why don’t you write anymore”, and my answer has been, “Because I write about my life

 

in the moment, and lately a lot of the moments (besides of course the presence of an amazing fiancé) have been pretty crappy. Plus, if I write about what I’m really going through, I run the risk of hurting people, and that’s the last thing I want to do.”

 

 

Anne Lamott says, “to be a really great writer you have to write as if the people in our lives are dead”. Maybe this is just one of the many reasons why she is a New York Times best-selling author and I am not.

So, my morning prayer to God when I first opened my eyes was that somehow, I would find the inspiration to write again.  The next thing I know, I’m holding the damn plunger. Okay, I get it. Maybe I can write about my life, without people being dead?

So, thanks to a lot shit… I share my truth and hope it will inspire you somehow or at least make you chuckle.

Life is about both good and bad, love and pain, moving and stuck, calm and chaos. And living in that thin line where they meet, well, that is the sweet spot.

Barbara Brown Taylor, another really great successful writer, says, “People encounter God under shady oak trees, on riverbanks, at the tops of mountains, and in long stretches of barren wilderness.” And I will add…while holding a plunger.


For Bill

For Bill.

What would you do if you knew that your friend was going to pass away an hour after you were just holding his hand? Would you say more? Do more? These were the questions running through my mind, when I got the call that my friend Bill had crossed over.

Bill had been in ICU you for over a week. I kept trying and trying to go see him, and between him having a bad day and me having a bad day, (the later nowhere near comparable to the first) the schedule just didn’t line up.

But yesterday morning when I woke I felt the pull or the push.

You know, when God sticks his big toe down and nudges you to do the hard thing, or the right thing, like call your estranged brother or give five dollars to the man on the corner or not eat the donut.

I felt the push. Today’s the day to go see Bill.

We weren’t the best of friends, but we worked together for as long as I’ve been in Nashville and most recently on the Pickler and Ben show. I saw him almost every day. We sometimes sat next to each other in the morning production meeting. And we often stood together at the craft service table, always joking about the unlimited supply of sugar, as he encouraged me not to indulge.

Bill was a television icon in Nashville, and one of the best Stage Managers in the business. I can’t remember who, but someone said once, “Bill Turner is such a great stage manager that not only will he be able to tell you when the wheels are about to fall off the train, he can tell you when that train leaves the station.” He was always ten steps ahead of everyone and had an eye for spotting and fixing the problems. But mostly he took care of people. He’s stood by and guided more “A” list celebrities than you can count, keeping them calm and relaxed and informed before the red light went on. And when the said wheels did in fact fall off, (as they often do in TV) everyone could and would be rattled, except for Bill. Hands down, Bill was always the most solid person on the set.

I knew I wanted to take him something when I went to visit, but what? A balloon? A card? Chocolate? These were all things that I of course would want if I was in the hospital, especially the chocolate, but what would Bill want?  I walked through the store searching, thinking about the countless hours we spent hanging out in the wings, Bill sometimes holding a paper cup filled with coffee.

And as soon as I had that thought, I looked and right in front of me was a beautiful, uniquely hand-crafted coffee cup.

The bottom half was rough, with a raw pottery finish, and the top half was smooth and soft gray in color. It had a strong thick handle with a special divot carved out for your thumb.

When I arrived at his room, holding a black and white gift bag overflowing with purple tissue paper, his sister met me at the door.  “He’s not doing well. He took a turn last night, and he’s probably going to die today.” Wait. What? Die? Today? I just read on Facebook that physical therapy had him up and walking yesterday.

How could he be walking yesterday and dying today?

She continued, “You can go in and talk with him, but he probably won’t respond.”

As I entered his room I thought, “I am not prepared for this moment.”  I have had the privilege of being with a couple people when the veil between this life and the next gets thin, and I am always humbled and scared shitless and not prepared. I hadn’t eaten lunch yet. Surely sitting with someone at such a precious time requires a full belly and someone more spiritual than me with tons of faith. But the writer Anne Lamott says,

“Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness, the discomfort and letting it be there.” And so, I sat.

I placed the gift bag next to a stack of cards. A bright yellow smiley face balloon waved in the air above. Monitors beeped and blinked. I held his hand. In the silence, I relived our many conversations through the years, Bill out on the stage and me in a control room or TV truck, “Hey Lynn, you in there?” “Yep, I’m here, what do you need?” He’d continue, “Hey listen, I’m thinking that…” which meant, you or someone in the control room should listen carefully to what I’m about to say, because the wheels are about to fall off. I held his hand a little tighter. His breathing was deep and loud, but I could tell that he was at peace. I tried to get him to respond, and when he didn’t, I started rambling. I told him how many people were praying for him and believing in his return to the studio for season two of Pickler & Ben. I told him that his friend Mike was really missing him and that he needed to get back to work to keep us all in line.

I told him about the coffee cup I brought and why it reminded me so much of him. A solid vessel.

I talked about all the cards in his room – and the obvious lack of chocolate –  but I promised to fix that the next time I came to visit.  And before I knew it, faith and peace filled both me and the room.

An hour later I got the call. I was with a friend I hadn’t see in a while when the news came, and I loved her more deeply in that moment.

The only good thing about death is that it brings life to those left behind.

On my way to pick up my son James (who has special needs) from school, I cried. I will miss Bill. I will miss his presence on the set for the rest of my life. This is the sucky part about death.

James is way more aware and in tune than I could ever hope to be, so my sadness wasn’t lost on him.  I wanted to sit in silence as we drove and mourn my loss.

But death, and God’s big toe, and James always push me to be more present. To keep living in the moment, even when that moment is grief.

James wanted to have a polka dance party in the car, and so we did. For Bill.

I’m am so grateful that I got to see my friend one more time before he left. And I’m grateful for the potter who hand-crafted the coffee mug. I don’t know where it will end up – maybe his sister or one of his beautiful daughters will use it and know that his work community of friends loved him beyond words.

And as Bill said too many times to count in his career…

“Alright, here we go. Stand by, in five-four-three-two.”


Fall Festival

When James was eight-years-old, I sat on the bathroom floor with three highly trained ABA therapists. Clad in trash bags that read, “Team James”, and surrounded by colorful gadgets and M&M’s and anything that might motivate him, I watched and cried as they worked to get James Potty-trained.

Did I mention he was eight? We were at our wits end and needed help.

And thankfully – it worked!  But that weekend wasn’t free nor cheap. It cost us about $1,500. But, gratefully, it was covered by a grant from the financial assistance arm of The Grammy’s – MusiCares. (MusiCares also provided resources for James to receive speech therapy as well as dental sedation in order to get his teeth cleaned. And, a donation from another foundation, The Fiona Rose Murphy Charitable Trust, provided James with the now “infamous” IPad within days of his breaking.)

All of these situations made me aware of the daily needs that are not covered by insurance for special needs families, and I wanted to find a way to help.

Which is why, Because of James, A Foundation Providing Support for Special Needs Families, now exists. And this Saturday night is our very first event to raise awareness and funds!

The Old School Farm, just ten minutes outside of Nashville, as offered to have all the proceeds from their Fall Festival benefit The Because of James Foundation. If you haven’t heard about this place yet, it’s awesome. It’s a farm to table restaurant and music venue and they employ special needs adults to work on the farm. How cool is that?

I hope you will join us on Saturday. It’s supposed to be a beautiful day in Tennessee. From 5-7pm there will be lots of activities for the kids, pumpkin carvings etc., and then LynnMarie & The Nashville Polka Guys play from 7-10pm! (The 5-7pm festivities are free, but the suggested donation for the music part of the evening is $10, but not mandatory.) Your presence will be the most important part.

Being a part of The Grammy’s changed my life. Being a part of MusiCares changed my life…and James’!

And because of their example, I hope James and I can change the lives of many more.

Come celebrate with us!

Xo


To the Yet-to-be-met Friends

Over the weekend I was listening to one of my favorite audio books, “What to Remember When Waking, The Disciplines of an everyday Life” by David Whyte. He tells this great story about a time he held his daughter in his arms. And in the moonlight, he watched her little palm open and close, as sometimes children’s palms do when they are falling asleep, and he noticed the lines in her hand.

He realized that in a way, those lines represented her future life and her future potential.

And that as well as he knew her in that moment, people in her future world might know her better than he ever did.

I feel the same way about James. I know as much as I can possibly know about him right now.  What he likes to eat, how he sleeps, and what brings him joy. But the reality is, I will not be in his life forever. And I have to trust that the people who are with him when I’m gone, the friends he will have when he is forty or fifty, may know him better than I do.

There is such a great sadness in that thought, that it could easily make me spiral and bath myself in Tiramisu.

And I am aware that I am not alone in this fear, and that all parents with children probably feel the same way. But because James will likely not be able to care for himself completely, these future unknown life-helpers are on my mind and heart all the time.

We swam at a friend’s pool on Sunday. And watching James jump in the water never gets old. And that is the only way I stay away from the darkness. By knowing that in his future there will be a pool. And the ability to jump. Resulting in joy. This keeps me present and mostly away from sugar.

After I took this video, we snuggled on the patio furniture. He ate his pretzels and I stared at his palm. I ran my finger up and down his Palmar Crease.

And I said a prayer for the unknown life-givers, the yet-to-be-met friends, and for the person who will hold his hand when he is taking his last breath.

And I prayed that they will always take him to the pool, make sure he has Rold Gold (not Snyder’s) pretzels to eat, and mostly, to remind him how very much I loved him.

 


Close Your Eyes And Run

Last week was THAT week. The one where you don’t get enough sleep, you eat Ruffles for dinner and

hope the underwear you picked up from “the pile” is in fact clean.

But I made it through.  Sometimes, you just have to close your eyes and run, and believe that you will eventually, get out of the storm. Which I did

.

James is adapting to the new crazy schedule as well, much to the love and support from The Village. Shout out to Catherine and Will & Colleen Mandell who have stepped up and become care-takers to both James and myself. (Oh, and house cleaners and grocery shoppers!) You are loved and appreciated. . , Thanks to the prayer warriors (Sara George & Sandy Ivey), I have felt every single one! And to my office mates Shaunna and Julie –  I love life with you in our little 9×12.

It’s Tuesday. And already things better and more doable than last week.

The rain has stopped in Nashville, the ground is become hard again. It always does.

Enjoy the moments.

Xo


Friday morning reality check.

Making TV is a crazy business. Long hours. Lots of issues revolving around things like dressing rooms and make-up colors, the selection of food on the craft service table (must have a balance of Twizzlers and Organic dried edamame), and timing life down to the seconds – literally. “That take was 4.5 seconds, can we get it to 4.0?”
 
But a friend sent me this link this morning, and it brought me immediately back to what’s really important. Don’t get me wrong – working and making a living in order to eat and have a roof over your head – is definitely important. But once all that is covered… what then?
 
This article grounded me. After full week of 20 hour days and no sleep, I’m crying at my desk in gratitude. Big thanks to the mom who both shared my fear and calmed it.
 
My favorite quote was this… “In the end, success won’t be measured by academic performance or job placement. It will have more to do with accumulating small pleasures and filling your life with those. I don’t know why it never occurred to me: Your future should look like the best parts of your present.”
 
Hope you enjoy the read. Stay present.


New

We’re tired!

James fell asleep like this, in the middle of the afternoon. Chin resting on the car door. Snoring away.

I think he’s a little wiped

out from his first week of “new”.

New school. New teachers. New routine. James needs time adjusting to “new”.

And it turns out, so might I.

Whether it’s a new house, new job, new government, new relationship – there’s an adjustment time. A period of a few days, or weeks or maybe even months where you feel slightly out of sorts and possibly crunchy.

You are not yourself and you want to punch lots of people.

For example; I was in Publix the other day and the woman in my aisle couldn’t figure out if she wanted to be on the left side or the right side and kept swerving like she was drunk and every time I went left to pass her, she went left and so on and so on and all I wanted to do was ram my cart into her backside!  (And yes, I am well aware that my current menopausal situation may be contributing to this hostel state of mind.)

What to do in those times? The only thing that I’ve found that works is to fall back on the things that make you feel good and grounded –

your favorite jeans, good friends, Netflix’s, donuts and prayer.

(Maybe not exactly in that order.) And of course – naps! James apparently understands the importance of naps.

The good news is… new becomes normal pretty quick, with just a little bit of acceptance.

All week we’ve been saying to James, “This is the new routine.” On the drive to school we ask, “James, where we are going?” He responds, “New School!”. And because he has a tendency to want to resist and sit in the parking lot, we then ask, “What do we do when we get there?” And he responds, “Walk.”  “Yes James. New school. Walk.”

This is now my own mantra and maybe yours? Fill in the blank “New ________. Walk.”

It will be natural to want to resist and sit. But keep walking. And before you know it, new becomes normal and you might just like people again. Or at least not want to run them over with a grocery cart.


The Power of Inclusion

Our bodies may be different.
Our minds may work different.
But our souls are all the same.
 
I had so many people comment about the photos I posted of James & Caden, that I decided to do a short video about their story. Inclusion (special needs kids in the same classroom with typical peers) works!! Please feel free to forward to any special needs families who would appreciate knowing that their children will be loved beyond belief!
 
I told Caden’s mom recently, Charlene Cowart Turney, “Just so you know, James (and I) will be following Caden to college and buying the house next door to him after he is moved out or married and working, and you may just be taking care of me when I’m old!” #Grateful.


Facebook LIVE!

7:40pm CDT!! LIVE from Douglas Corner in Nashville TN. LynnMarie will share a 9 minute story on her life and being “Different” as part of TenX9 Nashville. Log On! Xo