730 Days, and the Dropping of Shoes

Hello, my name is Nancy and it’s been 2 years since my last blog post. Oops.

Seven hundred and thirty days is a really long time to put people on hold. But I did it. What can I say? Life happens… unapologetically. And a whole lot of life happened to me, as I am certain it did to y’all too. So there.

I’m not quite sure why today is the day I’ve decided to dive back in. Nope, can’t say that, because it’s a lie. IT’S BEEN TWO YEARS, THAT’S WHY! Also, I’ve missed y’all, and my soul is longing to over-share. As usual, I am spinning multiple plates on several sticks with one hand, and juggling bubbles with the other. Don’t ask what my legs are doing. They have a mind of their own, and have been carrying me from coast to coast on a semi-regular basis for a bit.

About this life thing. If I’ve learned nothing else in the past 730 days, it’s that just when you think life is grand, and you prepare to kick off your shoes and relax. Don’t. Of course, one shoe may drop to the floor, landing spectacularly in a glorious spot.  It’s the other shoe dropping that you must be concerned about. Without going into much any detail, I’m currently barefoot–one shoe landed nicely, the other hit with a thud, bounced up and is hovering in a cloud of uncertainty above me and I’m–on my knees, praying for a miracle. Or to win the lottery. Actually, both if I’m being honest. All for truly selfless AND selfish reasons simultaneously.

Cancer sucks, is all I can say. And so does socialized medicine. 

No, I don’t have cancer, nor does The Man, The Beans or any of my blood-relatives, that I am aware of (hint: I’m always the last to know of any family business). However, two of my dearest friends, whom I consider more family than friends have the awful disease. One lives in Toronto and was diagnosed in early 2016, with Stage 4 tonsil cancer that had spread to his neck, shoulder and a couple of lymph nodes. Thankfully, not to his lungs, liver, or brain. He and his team of doctors immediately decided upon the most aggressive form of treatment: 7 weeks of radiation and 4 rounds of chemotherapy simultaneously. I went to visit assist in caring for him in April, during Week 4. What an eye-opener. I realized that week how very little I was told about what my parents endured while fighting their own cancers before they passed away. Feeling powerless is not something I enjoy, and I was rendered powerless, beyond simply being present and available to do anything necessary, making fun of him so he would laugh, and keeping his spirits up high on the most positive of clouds. But as of 6 weeks ago, I am happy to report that my Maple Leaf brother has KICKED CANCER’S UGLY STAGE FOUR ASS!! Just one more set of scans to go, in November, and he will likely be declared the Champion of Cancer Ass Kickers. You probably already know I like to fix things, and people. So I despise not being able to eliminate, or destroy utterly ridiculous shit that happens to good people whom I love with my whole heart. If I were a superhero, I would want my power to be the ability to cure those ‘incurable’ diseases that afflict so many…including my ‘sister from another mister’, Grace, who got both amazing and horrendous news within days of each other. She has breast cancer…and is expecting her second child, a baby girl, in January. WhatTheActualFuck?! A lumpectomy has been done, but the remainder of her treatment will have to wait until Baby Girl arrives. So at the moment I’m struggling with being mad at God. Yes, I said it. On January 10th of this year, the day after I turned 44, I was ordained as a ruling Elder at my church, and here I sit, madder than a wet hen at my Heavenly Father. What a conundrum. Praying for a miracle from above while wrestling with anger towards the very One who can heal. My apologies, God. I’m only human, and YOU designed me this way. Prayers please. Lots of them. Thanks in advance. I’ll be in church in 4 short hours, after I’ve napped and this is published, lest you think I wont be praying too.

Now let’s see, what else happened in the last 730 days? Hmm. A list might be the easiest to follow. Besides, I’ve heard people enjoy reading lists. Who knew?

  1. The Man worked on a crap ton of projects. Both big budget features (Concussion, The Hateful Eight, Joy), small indie films (Burnt; Trumbo) and a couple of cool tv gigs (Hello…BLOODLINE!!). He is currently working on another big one, set to release in March 2017. Think magical, musical, Disney….Beauty.  There, you’ve got it.
  2. Sugar Bean started a YouTube channel, turned 15 and we had a surprise party that we somehow managed to keep a secret from her. Then she turned SIXTEEN and we had not one…but two celebrations to mark the milestone. She also got her driver’s license. Which is nearly impossible to do in California, and basically turned me into a basket case for a bit. Now I totally dig it, because she is an enormous help whenever I ask her to run an errand or pick up/drop off her sisters.
  3. Butter Bean learned to play the violin and performed in several talent shows both at church and at school. She also turned 11 on St.Patrick’s Day while we were visiting New York City in March 2015. She had our traditional birthday cake for breakfast from Carlos’s Bakery…you know, The Cake Boss place. It had to be done. End of story. Then we spent the day allowing her to dictate where she wanted to go and see, as it was our first time in New York as a family. So we did ALL the touristy things. I went with an itinerary in hand, wearing an imaginary name tag that said “Julie-Cruise Director”. Little did we know, it would definitely not be our last trip to the Big Apple. She also turned 12 five months ago, but she was away on a school trip for her birthday, so we had to celebrate when she returned. All I can say is that she seemingly morphed into a tweenager overnight. Attitude and all. We’ve had the necessary talks about body odor, periods, boys, makeup, inappropriate attire, social media…you name it. To quote Glennon Melton, “Sweet Fancy Moses”….more prayers, please.
  4. Sweet Pea is still a mama’s girl. She turned 9, then 10, without much pomp or circumstance. And she is still my baby. THANK GOODNESS. She is girly, and sassy and loves to play PokémonGo with me. Yes, me. She also returned to gymnastics, took classes at the intermediate/advanced level for about 3 months, then took 6 months off, and is now back at it and on one of the teams at the facility where she trains. Watch for her on the Olympics in 8 years. Or at least getting a college scholarship based on her ability to flip and stretch like a human rubber band defying gravity. The Man and I would be super happy with that.

Now that you’re caught up on the basics of what the Tribe has been up to, I guess it’s time for a report on me, huh?

  1. I turned 43 and 44. Enough about that. Especially if you’ve read this post.
  2. I had major surgery 13 months ago yesterday, to rid me of a pesky little genetic issue known as diverticulitis. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Wait, do I have enemies?
  3. Before I had the surgery, and while The Man was basically working around the clock, The Beans and I went home to Bama for a visit for the first time in 5 years. We had a blast seeing family and basking in the sun on the white sand beaches of Gulf Shores. You can check out some of our vacay adventures in this video on Sugar Bean’s YouTube channel.
  4. I successfully created, crowd-funded, co-exec produced and co-starred in a web-series entitled THE BAR, that premiered on September 15, 2015 and can be viewed here on YouTube. So much of my heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears went into this project. I would love y’all to pieces if you watched and shared it with everyone you know. Seriously. Oh, and there’s a blog about it here and a Facebook fan page here.
  5. I am currently co-authoring a book that is being considered for publication by a very well-known publishing company. Can’t say more than that without your signatures on an NDA at this point. When I can I will. In the meantime, here’s a picture of me and my co-author, Kit Wallace-Coblentz, owner of Blue Eyed Entertainment.  Big things are coming. Just wait.

    me and kit

    photo by FishyFoto

  6. I am also co-writing a feature script about my life as a teenager growing up in a small Alabama town. Based on true events. Don’t worry, you’ll recognize your characters once it’s made and on a screen somewhere 🙂
  7. I have been both a blonde and a brunette in the last 730 days. See for yourself.
Nancy_Minkler-88sm

photo by Tiffany Rose

               AC:DC headshot

WHICH DO YOU PREFER?

        8. We made a lateral move to a slightly larger house, as we had just outgrown the one we were in. The time it took from the moment we found the house, filled out the application, got the approval, and moved in, was exactly 2 weeks, and it was in the midst of all the end of school year activities, AND the deadline for the delivery of the first draft of the book I mentioned in #5 above. All of that nearly put me in the dirt. But God always has a plan, and I’m still here. Waking up breathing, day after day… blessed be.

        9. In the last 2 months, I have eliminated all dairy, red meat, poultry, white carbs, and alcohol from my diet completely. I do eat fish and shrimp on occasion, but mainly stick to a plant and fruit based diet. My body’s response to this? I’ve lost 20 lbs. No shit. 128 in March, 108 now. I’d post before and after photos, but I think I just did?

       10.  I shot swimsuit photos yesterday for the first time in 16 years, along with a ton of other head shots, including the one above, with Jamie Fisher from FishyFoto. No, I will not be posting them anywhere, as I have no desire to pursue a career as a swimsuit model at the age of 44, and the height of five foot one. They are for The Man’s eyes only. 

       11.  The Man, The Beans and I had our FIRST EVER family photo shoot also with Jamie, so I plan to send out Christmas cards this year. I know, I know. Several people will think they are being Punk’d when they get theirs. But here is a sneak peek 🙂

FishyFoto -MinklerFamily-15708 copy

12.  Since July 3, I have been to NYC and back to LA three separate times. Twice by myself and once with The Beans. Why? Because The Man is the chief of our tribe, and that’s where he’s working right now, on that big project I mentioned earlier. We miss him so much it hurts, and if The Beans weren’t in school right now, we would all be there together. Unfortunately, all we can do is visit. And FaceTime (Thanks, Mr.Jobs). So I am single-parenting…no, bi-coastal parenting I guess…until his return.

13.  Oh, and last but not least, I’m having a NYC love affair…. with The Man. Just check out my Instagram and search for the hashtag #kissingallovernyc. It’s among the best highlights of the past 730 days for me!

I guess that’s all for now. I’m not promising I will post regularly, but I promise I won’t wait 730 days before the next one. How’s that? 

I’d Hoped This Would Never Happen Again

Yes. But having a little help never hurt either.

Yes. But having a little help never hurt either.

BUT IT HAS

And of course I can’t just sit back and do nothing. These are my people…my family and friends… and they need help, just like they did 3 years ago, when this happened. The devastation isn’t as widespread as it was in 2011, but it’s where I grew up y’all…the county where I was born, raised and lived for 24 years of my life. When you have roots like that, you never forget them.

EVER

Just look at these photos, and tell me your heart wouldn’t be ripped to pieces if these had been taken where you grew up

Downed trees

Downed trees 

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Trees ripped up by the roots

someone's business...and livelihood... damaged

someone’s business…and livelihood… damaged

Can you imagine if one minute your house was intact and the next it looked like this?

Can you imagine if one minute your house was intact and the next it looked like this?

For more images like these, you can visit here. 

But first, please take a look at the immediate needs listed below for those who’ve literally lost everything. If you can donate, please do. If not, please share this post via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, word of mouth….you name it!

I’m begging you to wrap your arms around my people and help them

REPLANT THEIR ROOTS and REBUILD THEIR LIVES.

Immediate needs in Limestone County, Alabama:

Jelly

Snack pudding

Ensure

Bread

Gatorade

Energy/Meal replacement bars

Paper Towels

Diapers

Wipes

Paper Plates

Ziploc Bags

Plastic knives

Styrofoam Coolers

Large Plastic Tubs

Can Openers

Disposable Grills

Matches/ Long Lighters

Duct Tape

Battery Powered Fans

Flashlights

Batteries

Candles

OTC Medicines

Gas Cards

Money/gift cards 

Donations can be sent or delivered to:
Clements Baptist Church
8690 U.S. Hwy 72
Athens, AL 35611
c/o Shane Jackson

Thanks for being a follower of my little blog and for doing what you can to help!

xoxo,

Nancy 

Fifteen.

According to the traditional list of customary anniversary presents, The Man and I should have exchanged gifts of CRYSTAL yesterday. Alternately, the contemporary list suggests WATCHES.  Ironically, both can be purchased at Tiffany. However, I am still awaiting the arrival of my Little Blue Box, convinced the delivery person got lost. After all, Los Angeles is an awfully big city and according to the map below…. I live up in the area of the REDNECKS and JCREW LOOKING MOFOS…which I suppose could be a little confusing. Maybe even scary.

IMG_3075

Anyway, we had a lovely dinner last night with The Beans at a favorite local spot of ours. The fact that I neither tried to find a babysitter nor entertained the thought for a moment that we would celebrate without them in tow goes to show you that after 15 years, it really IS all about the children.  Not to sound cliché, but we do only have them all under one roof for a little bit longer. Sugar Bean is going away to college in 4.5  years so we have to pack in as much family time as possible now. Perhaps we’ll take an anniversary trip on our 20th. Who knows? Regardless, I was reminiscing about our wedding yesterday and it occurred to me that I’ve never shared a single detail about it with anyone outside of family and close friends, despite it being an incredibly joyous, unique and memorable affair. WTF is wrong with me? Btw, that’s a rhetorical question. So… without further adieu, I give you…

The Top 10 Reasons Why My Wedding Night

Was Uniquely Kickass

1. It was planned and executed it in exactly 3 weeks, complete with paper invitations (pre-Evite, people), a caterer, flowers and a wedding cake. Notice I didn’t say I PLANNED IT. Every drop of credit goes to my MIL, as I was stricken with horrific morning sickness…ALL. DAY. LONG. Wait…I did pick out the bridesmaids’ dresses. Off the rack, during a 20 minute trip to  Robinson’s-May, which was about all I could manage in between jaunts to puke in the nearest bathroom.

2. Using a recipe handed down for years, and in keeping with a long-standing tradition in my Southern rooted family, we served a drink called “24-Hour Punch”. It’s been a staple at every special occasion for as long as I can remember. The main ingredient is Jack Daniels. The caterer asked for the recipe. Need I say more?

3. Although I could not drink a drop myself, I jumped behind the bar and started tending it like a pro at the reception. People were thirsty, and the bartender went missing…I suspect, after too much punch.

4. We are not Jewish, but many of our guests were, including the Best Man. So it made perfect sense to do the Horah, right?

chris:horah

me:horah

 5. My maid of honor was a VIP bartender at one of the hottest nightclubs in Hollywood, and got called in to work during the reception. Despite telling her boss she’d been drinking all day night at HER BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING, had flowers matted in her hair and would be arriving in her dress, if she could find a ride to avoid a DUI…he made her show up. True story.

6. The day of the wedding, we realized our plan for playing music at the reception wasn’t going to work, so our dear friend John wrangled some equipment and became our DJ, so I would stop freaking out. You can read about him here. He’s truly a gem, and if he ever gets married, I will walk on water if he needs me to!

7. Right before the procession was about to begin, I suddenly had to pee. There was a bathroom at the top of the steps, but my dress wouldn’t fit. Obviously, I didn’t have time to undress/redress. So, two of my bridesmaids held my skirt up inside the bathroom, making sure I didn’t pee on myself, while the other two stood guard outside and held the rest of my dress, because we had to leave the door open. Now THAT’S a good group of bridesmaids, y’all.

8. There was a break-dancing extravaganza. Yep. That’s my husband folks, throwing it back to the 80’s by doing a coffee-grinder…I think.

chris:wedding:breakdance

9. Oh, but wait…the girls were not about to be upstaged! If memory serves me correctly, the photo below depicts the ‘big finish’ to a dance routine of some sort.  Doing the splits in my wedding gown. Yeah, that really happened.

me:wedding:splits

10. With the reception winding down, The Man and I hopped into a limo bound for the honeymoon suite at a hotel in the city. Once we inspected our accommodations, we decided to continue celebrating, and took off on foot down Sunset Boulevard, still in our wedding clothes… headed for the Skybar. Cars were bumper to bumper, horns were honking, and folks were shouting ‘Congrats’ the whole way. Crazy fun. Typically, it’s a tough place to get into if you aren’t ‘on the list’, but I  bartended there for a couple years and showing up in a wedding gown with my groom in tow did the trick!  Afterwards, exhausted and giddy, we returned to our hotel and passed out. That whole doing the deed on your wedding night thing? Ain’t nobody got energy for that!

And so, following a magical evening that started like this:

wedding dance

 We woke up the next morning as newlyweds and realized our cars were in the Valley, and we didn’t have a ride home.

THE END

 

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Is God Real or Pretend?

I know what I believe: a very emphatic, loud, resounding YES MA’AM!  I mean, if you read this post , you’ll understand that it’s by His very Grace that I’m alive. In addition, I believe He is a loving God, who through the Christian principles and teachings I’ve chosen to follow from The Bible, compels us to be compassionate, tolerant, non-judgmental and forgiving. And also that, as Glennon Doyle Melton, of Momastery  puts it…“God is forever tries.” In other words, no matter how many times we sin, or how bad the sins are…if you ask Him to come into your life and forgive you….He does. No questions asked.

At the same time, I respect what you believe. Even though your answer to this question may be vastly different from mine. That’s perfectly fine with me, because differences are what make our world a unique place to live. I’ve never been one to force my beliefs on anyone, and I don’t plan on starting now, on the 42nd anniversary of my birth (yes, today is my birthday). The various religions of the world and their individual teachings and guidelines have always fascinated me. I’ve even sought classes on the History of Religions, only to enroll and find out it was not going to supply me with the knowledge I was seeking, so I dropped out. Oh well. I suppose as an eternal student of life, I’ll just have to keep looking. But anyway, enough about that.

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The reason for my post today is simple. I was asked by TLC Book Tours to review a book entitled “Is God Real or Pretend”, by Jennifer Horsman.

Is God Real or Pretend? is the story of young Franklin’s engaging and enlightening journey to answer this age-old question. Franklin’s grandmother, Dr. Wendy Knowles, a professor of astronomy, first provides Franklin with the basic scientific means of determining what is real and what is not and how science distinguishes questions it can answer and those it cannot. Franklin’s mission of discovery continues as he meets a kindly professor of Greek mythology who offers a historical-cultural prospective on the question. Here Franklin meets the Greek Gods and their timeless myths.

Once armed with these new ideas, Franklin meets with representatives of the world’s five major religions: Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian and Muslim. These knowledgeable teachers from the great religions charm and delight as they shine positive lights on their religion. Franklin asks probing questions, while learning to appreciate and admire the diversity and beauty of these religious beliefs and traditions. Ultimately, Franklin’s dynamic school report on the immensity and magnificence of the universe becomes the backdrop for thinking critically about religion and questions about God.

This book is designed for anyone and everyone, young and old, religious or not, who wants to know more about these five great religions. It’s the most unforgettable and exciting journey, one every thoughtful child (and the curious adults in their life) will enjoy.

REVIEW

Being the mother of The Beans –Sugar, Butter, and Sweet Pea– and having just concluded a glorious holiday season during which they were all three baptized in a beautiful ceremony, our family lit the last candle of Advent–the Christ Candle — at our church’s Christmas Eve service, and then witnessing them open the gifts Santa brought them on Christmas Day…..my biggest issue with this book is that on page 2 it clearly states “SANTA CLAUS IS NOT REAL.”  WTF? Seriously. For a book that is geared towards a young audience, that’s just…well…wrong in my honest opinion. And to think, I almost read it to my youngest two children, who still whole-heartedly believe in the magic of Santa. Talk about dodging a bullet inevitably designed to break a tiny heart! Now, I realize not everyone allows their children to believe this myth based on the assumption that it’s ‘lying’ to them. And hey…to each his own. But I, for one, plan to allow mine to enjoy the magic for as long as they choose to. They grow up fast enough. Besides, I’ve witnessed Christmas miracles in my life that could only be explained by belief in both God and Santa Claus. So there.

All that being said, the book does an effective job of explaining the 5 major religions of the world: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It talks about each one separately, outlines the major rules or principles its followers abide by and explains the differences between the faiths. At the same time, the author manages to highlight how the various religions are similar in their teachings on an elemental level, which I very much enjoyed. In addition, the book addresses the existence of God from a scientific perspective, discusses the history of Greek Gods, or polytheistic belief, and talks about Agnostics, or those who are unsure whether God exists at all. The language is easy to understand, and it flows well, which is definitely a plus for a book about religion. All in all, an interesting read full of useful information.

In the end, Franklin, the curious child at the center of this story, says  “I learned that religions all have different ideas of God, but that God still remains mysterious,” and, “All religions try to help people be better.”  Both valuable points, I believe. However, ultimately he decides he likes “the scientific way of knowing best.” For me, this is not the conclusion I would prefer my children to settle upon, but that’s likely because I feel the presence of God in my life, have a strong faith and want my daughters to grow up with the same. Because often, at the end of a particularly challenging period in one’s life….hope, belief and faith may just be all you have to cling to.

Think I’ll tuck this book away from the eyes of The Beans until they begin asking questions. For now, they love Jesus with all their hearts, and believe God is very real….which is fine by me!

The Beans just after their Baptisms.

The Beans just after their Baptisms.

Jennifer Horsman is the author of many popular books for both young readers and adults. In addition to a B.A. from UC Irvine in Social Ecology (don’t ask; no one knows what it means), she has spent a lifetime reading about religion, philosophy, history and science.

You can find her books at www.JenniferHorsman.com, or by clicking on her picture below.

Author-JHorsman-photo-taken-by-Ken-Mooty-199x300

tlc-logo-resized

 

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If I made you laugh, please click the banner below to vote for me on topmommyblogs.com!

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