USMC Ball season is here: The more you know

USMC Ball Season is here and that said, we are under one month away from the 244th Birthday of the most elite fighting force in all of the lands, the United States Marine Corps. Within this piece are some tips, suggestions and last minute “the more you know, the better you,” are pointers.

The U.S. Marine Corps Birthday celebrates the history, memory of those who served before and rekindles the bond that unites all generations of Marines. It is a celebration of the profound respect for the Marine Corps traditions and reverence of the heritage that distinguishes the Corps of Marines.- Military Benefits

Each year, generally in October, the “Ermahgerd, I need a dress” crunch-time fest begins. As a proud and seasoned Marine wife, I totally get it. It’s only the biggest night of celebration of the entire year in our marine family lifestyle, right? It’s like prom to the infinite capacity of all adulting powers. Seriously, it’s not prom but it is a hardcore adult celebration.

Well, here’s a few things that I have learned and seen not go well over the years and a few duty stations. As well as there are a few things that I honestly don’t understand after all this time, why anyone cares or complains yet there have been a few moments that have made my head spin.

Let’s get down to it:

Alcohol- Drink responsibly. 

No spouse, nor any marine should show up to the ball  severely intoxicated and you should also refrain from leaving that way. Get dressed at the hotel nearby and decide to have a cocktail or two before heading over? Totally fine, if you are walking over, otherwise call Uber, Lyft or phone a sober buddy. If you are attempting to leave a venue to travel home, don’t forget to use your “Arrive Alive Card,” they’re there for a reason. I wouldn’t recommend it driving for obvious reasons of the law. I say this because in Greenville for example, there’s a hotel attached to the convention center and you can walk over. I always recommend staying as close to the venue as possible to be able to walk safely to and from if you plan to take this route of cocktails before cocktail hour. I understand this because let’s be super honest here, it is more fiscally responsible (cheaper) to consume responsibly the adult beverages of your choice at your hotel room than to purchase by the drink from the bar at the ball.

Another point to make here is, don’t blow your whole paycheck on the ball and spouses that includes you. Don’t overspend trying to impress other marines, spouses/girlfriends or superiors. The ball is one night and you will have to eat next week, put in gas, and if you have kids- their field trip, lunch money is still due, daycare fees and that grocery bill won’t pay itself. Don’t dig a financial hole right before the holiday’s to celebrate the biggest USMC holiday of them all. Be responsible financially and consumption of alcohol wise. I’ve witnessed younger marines show up pretty intoxicated, as well as spouses and completely wasted by the end of the ceremony because the quick and heavy consumption caught up to them. Your command will not be pleased and if you are one who is already on thin ice, this definitely is the time to be on your best representation of the corps.

Does the dress matter?

Oh you can bet your first born and a vital organ it does! Please, for the love of God, 7lb-4oz-21in long baby Jesus, and the peace of Buddha please do dress according to your spouses uniform requirements in any military function. Don’t show up to the birthday ball in arm with your marine in dress blues and you are in a club dress fit for a rump shaking contest, a sundress fit for a pig pickin’ and a pie baking contest, don’t wear your Sunday’s best- I know it’s modest and you only had the whole year to find a dress suitable for the one night a year your husband’s career of service is celebrated on earth and in heaven. (Sigh in sarcasm) Seriously, go get a floor length formal dress, it is the standard to accompany the dress blues uniform. It can be bridesmaid style, something inexpensive from Ross or TJMaxx, honestly, they have some really great finds and won’t rob the bank. Focus more on accessories to enhance a simple solid dress if you feel it isn’t “formal” enough. Male guest standard is to wear a suit and tie or a tuxedo.

Stella McCartney Sweetheart Neckline Gown
Stella McCartney Sweetheart Neckline Gown

Example of a simple and acceptable dress with nicely placed accessories is shown, a similar dress can be purchased on Amazon for an affordable price with two-day shipping for Prime members. Can’t afford a new dress, ask around to see if anyone has one you can borrow or rent from them and please do the right thing and return the dress in the condition you received it. You can also add a simple belt  with rhinestones or a satin band to a plain dress like this and make it appeal more to your taste.

Can I wear a formal that has patterns/print on it?

Well sure you can, but the question is to gauge off of is how would you feel if your photo in it ended up circulating the internet for weeks after the ball and years to come as to what not to wear? Does it compliment your marines dress blues? Seriously, the great photos don’t go viral, only the bad ones in a drama-filled society. Honestly, I’ve seen chevron satin and sequined, floor length gowns. I wore a Jovani zebra print gown one year myself but my husband approved and actually selected the dress. I would advise against some extreme prints and especially text printed. I know how much many of us Americans absolutely adore and love our 45th President Donald J. Trump but please don’t wear exhibit A to the lower left for example. Believe me, people will talk to you, maybe even take some instagood “usies” for Instagram and all the perks but you will be talked about, likely not in a positive way.

The 59th GRAMMY Awards - Arrivals
Photo Credit-GettyImages

What would be in line of the standard with print in mind? 

I know, kind of hard coming from the woman who just admitted to wearing zebra print to a birthday ball? Well it shouldn’t be. I will share that photo in this piece before it’s over.

Here’s an example of a gorgeous, A-line, print that accents the dress blues and wait for it, $99.00 on PromGirl.com

print 1
PromGirl.com $99.00

Now, I know, I know, we don’t all have the body type for that dress and it might not be available in your size. But the point is, we have placed so much stigma on the ball dress, whose wife did what, what marine made a pass at who and who got in trouble, I believe many have forgotten what it is about to begin with. This is a celebration of the establishment of the USMC in 1775, it is an honor, it is respect, a time of reflection on those who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, a time of building unity and comradery. These are not only sought amongst marines themselves, but in our community in general over the last 244-years of service amongst the most admired and revered branch in the world, the US Marine Corps. Lest we forget, it is a privilege to be a part of these events as well as this lifestyle, though we may not always realize it.

Amazon has this pretty floral print as well with great reviews, always read reviews.

Mean Girls aka Stepford Wives, this part is for you.

Instead of standing around with your noses turned up in the, “investment dress” you wear every 3rd year or the one you ordered from Rent the Runway to look snazzy for more money than you could have just bought a dress at a consignment shop that has also already been worn while you judge “Jr. Spouses” for showing a little leg or an exposed collarbone. Don’t get me wrong, absolutely nothing wrong with Rent the Runway, it’s the attitude described that is an issue. Someone call the paddy wagon if one of these uptight, self-righteous, scrutinizing Spanx lines showing or gawking in questioning is that a roll or is she pregnant, miserable trolls gone wild if they see a tattoo exposed women start with you. (Hope you got a chuckle, seriously, it isn’t this bad- it’s honestly a dying breed.) Moving on here, everyone has a different personality, everyone has their own style of fashion and it’s okay to show that through what you wear to the birthday ball. You do not have to be forced into a dress that is equivalent to someone’s mother-of-the-bride-dress. You can be sexy, feel confident and look respectful. Now grant it, no we don’t want any of your body parts escaping or anatomy questioned as it creeps out. Honestly, the bend test usually solves everything. If you can bend over and your entire bosom is visible, plops right out, that dress is probably not a wise selection. In short, if you bend over and your breasts or dairy air come out, stay home if you cannot find another dress. There’s no other way to put that nicely because mini-dresses are not birthday ball acceptable. Use common sense.

Tattoos/scars

You don’t need to cover your tattoos, it’s a part of you now. However, if it is something offensive that would go against USMC standards of conduct, I would suggest covering it. Of course if you would just like to, there’s a waterproof concealer on Amazon (Prime) for $24.99 that is great for covering scars and tattoos. As far as scars go, I believe they are proof something attacked and didn’t win so I wear my few scars proudly. If it is something that would make you more confident by covering, go for it. This event is about feeling your best and being your best.

Ceremony

The ceremony is the most important part of the ball, it is an intimate ceremony (I don’t mean time to make out with your marine) and unless you cannot stand at all, you stand for any portion instructed to stand, sit when told to be seated and remain quiet. This is not the time for laughing with your sister wife (spouse friend), fix each others dress straps or to fix each others hair. Wait until the ceremony is over and then go to the restroom. This usually lasts around an hour, the cake is cut, the reading of Gen. John A. Lejeune’s birthday message, speeches and the current Commandant’s birthday message over a large screen. You should be seated prior to the start of the ceremony, silence your phone, refrain from texting and please don’t scroll social media during the ceremony. Photography is permitted at some events but please check to make sure it is acceptable at your event this year. Just because it was okay last year, doesn’t mean it is this year. Then there’s dinner served, most times your marine picks your meals in advance, so you already know what you are having and is usually a three-course meal. Following dinner, the dancefloor is opened to get down. Once everyone has had their fill in uniform and fancy dresses, it’s time to change clothes and find a nearby establishment for the after-party if you wish or head home.

Be yourself.

You don’t have to fake it to make it at the ball. There are spouses/significant others just like you there and there will be those who are polar opposite and that is okay. Remember when your spouse introduces you to people to say, good evening sir/ma’am as a reflection of respect to command.  If the zebra print or floral print dress is you, go for it. Just remember, you are always a reflection of your marine and if he/she is happy with your dress, you should be too. Shoes wise, if you can wear high heels, wear them, if you cannot, don’t. Wear nice, clean dress shoes that will complement your attire, stiletto’s are not required. When we look good, we feel good and so do our marines. Want to find the best dress for your body type? I got ‘cha covered.

wedding_dress_to_suit_body_shape_oomphelicious-wordpress-com
Photo Credit: Oomphelicious WordPress

Hair/Makeup. 

No need in spending hundreds of dollars on hair coloring, styling, clip-in or bonded extensions if it is not something you already do or have planned to do. Most spouses like their hair and make-up to look nice but trust me, you can do it yourself with a good YouTube tutorial if you aren’t very skilled or call up your friend who is and go for it. Not confident in your YouTube University skill set? No worries. An alternative to salon costs is Miller-Motte College’s Cosmetology Clinic, you can get a full head of highlights for $35 if you want color, acrylic nails for $20 and brow tinting for $5. There are several options for makeup around town if you just want to go that route. (Several MUA’s  recommended on Camp Lejeune Spouses FB group.)

Hair don’t’s

Steer from dying your hair hot pink before the ball to stand out or jumping into a rainbow mohawk for the cause. Colored hair can be done tastefully and I personally am a big fan but save it for after the ball if it is something like this mohawk below. I think you can catch my drift here.

rainbow mohawk
Photo Credit: Ebay

Bring on the beautiful plums, shades of reds, auburns, bold blondes, colored highlights to accent tastefully to your liking. Most of all ladies and gentlemen, remember, “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” -Coco Chanel. Even with all of these “standards,” you can still be yourself.

As long as you feel confident, your husband approves and he gives you that eye in the dress– you know the hanky-panky eye, wear the dress and be one of the many reasons he is proud on this joyous occasion. In case no one has told you yet, “If the Army and the Navy ever look on Heaven’s scenes, they will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines.” – Marines Hymn. That verse alone is reason to be your best self.

For more information, I suggest taking on one of the L.I.N.K.S classes that can help better understand the standards and how to navigate through this lifestyle more easily visit MCCS New River LINKS.

Oh, and about that Jovani Zebra Print dress, check it out below. JOVANI I gave the dress away 3-years-ago. Speaking of which, I have a number of gowns to get rid of ranging size 6-14 and if interested in seeing them, send an email or comment on one of the social media posts, they’ll be free, paying it forward so please do the same.

 

 

Editor’s Note: My marine is approaching 20-years of active duty service and this is our last birthday celebration with him in active service. It is a bittersweet time in our lives, the USMC has taught us both as well as our children so much through travels, learning resiliency through deployments, and being open to building in communities we wouldn’t be in long enough to unpack all the boxes. We have made friends who are around the globe and we have memories to last infinite lifetimes. I pray that the stigma and negative attitudes amongst spouses continues to cease and the future communities here and abroad learn to embrace each other just as we are. We are all uniquely, individually made just as God intended us to be. Trust me, if your marine (God-forbid) is called off to serve in war suddenly, you won’t care what the next spouse has on as those buses pull away and your children are screaming in tears for daddy, while you wipe your own tears or hold them back. In those moments, you will only care about who can help you maintain life, you will unite and you will understand what this community truly is about. So I hope in some way, this opinion piece helps you in some way, if nothing but a laugh or two. I am a former MCBH LINKS Mentor, FRA and MOPS teacher. I am thankful for those “Seasoned Spouses” who embraced me on our first round at Camp Lejeune and changed my prior perspective on military wives. Heather, Danielle 1 & 2 (D1 & D2), and Paula, you were inspiration for me to be the spouse I have matured into and the spouse I am today though now I have retired early as a FRA but volunteering nonetheless in the community. Hea, thanks for being there since the day we met and never being “that officers wife”, you were always approachable, accessible and a darn good hurricane shelter even after 10-years. Blessed to have you as a friend forever. Lady Phantoms what was that? My tribe, the women that completed my soul in this journey. From First Friday’s to garages after (love you April), to being lost on hikes in the native lands of Oahu with failing limbs to zip lining fearlessly hundreds of feet in the air, having each other’s backs on and off the field. We were a life team and K-Bay’s 1st sweethearts, never forget it! Ju-Not a Jew, Ash-sweets, Nelly, Jen, Hutch, DQ, Kell, Reesa, Britt, Jos’… you all know who you are, even unnamed. Here’s to 20 in 2020, it’s not the end, just a new chapter beginning. Take care of the Corps and it will take care of you.  Lastly, to my husband, thank you for inviting me on this journey of life and service .-M. Oakley, Reporter & Blogger 

If you enjoyed this, give it a like or leave a comment, don’t forget- sharing is caring.

Letter to the editor: Why is it only the 9th Congressional District Race Being Scrutinized?

For weeks we have been hearing about issues with the 9th Congressional District election. Mark Harris leads Dan McCready by 905 votes, but the State Board of Elections has twice failed to certify Harris’ victory.

 

Irregularities concerning absentee ballots and possible ballot harvesting, mainly in Bladen and Robeson counties, have been the focus of investigators, and the sticking point preventing the board from certifying the 9th Congressional District election.

There very well could have been some nefarious and/or illegal activity regarding absentee ballots in both Bladen and Robeson counties. That has yet to be proven, but is irrelevant to my question: “Why is it only the 9th Congressional District race being scrutinized?”

There were 14 contested elections in Bladen County in the November 2018 election and 13 in Robeson County. From the 9th CD race, through NCGA seats, down to elections for County Commissioner and School Boards, many decisions were made for representation on November 6,2018.

Yet, of those 27 contested elections, focus has been on only one, the 9th Congressional District contest. Individual ballots are not mailed out for each race. Absentee voters cast their vote on the exact same ballot as those standing in line on election day, or during early voting.

If the results are tainted due to absentee ballot irregularities for the 9th CD, and they very well may be, why would they not be tainted for all the other 26 contested elections within Bladen and Robeson counties?

Should the new Board of Elections use the authority under the law that states “irregularities or improprieties occurred to such an extent that they taint the results of the entire election and cast doubt on its fairness” to order a new election, would it not cast doubt on the “fairness” of every contested race on the ballots?

I cannot see how one race on a ballot can be tainted, when there were 12 or 13 other races on that same ballot in question that have been certified.

I have not seen this issue raised which is why I submit this letter today. If we ignore and certify the other 26 races on the ballot, and deem them not tainted, then you are on an expedition to upend one election. You are investigating based on the results of one election, and not the “integrity” of all elections.

Jonathan Merritt

Jonathan Merritt

Richlands, NC

 

Bringing the budget back with Brandless

With the holiday season upon us, many are looking for ways to squeeze more juice from the lemon and by lemon I mean wallet. I’ve discovered an online grocery shopping store that has items at $3 each and best of all, ORGANIC! Check it out.

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays drawing near, most families are readjusting budgets and planning financially for the holiday cheer or a getaway from the “bah humbug” people in your life.

This holds merit especially when we have many people who are not yet recovered from Hurricane Florence and willing to try cutting corners to spare the wallet while still purchasing necessary goods for daily life. There are even some special cases like myself where income and jobs lost altogether or temporarily until damages are rectified meanwhile having a lifestyle that requires more.

So, I have been on a search for ways to cut the costs of necessary items but not cut the items. (Totally not unrealistic! I’m a big binder hauling, super couponing Mama just getting her mojo back!) Anyway, no big binder needed so don’t run away! Keep reading.

I will utilize online shopping needs when it works out better than the cost of fuel in my lovely SUVs fuel, time, energy and schedule efforts to purchase “land based.” Oh, and I get to avoid humans in crowded stores during FLU season. #Winning

I’m a Groupon lover! Groupon for cheap getaways, baecation (hip lingo for quick getaway with your someone special aka babe or formally known as “bae”…. Not so endearing to technical measure but anyway.), concert tickets, supplements, massages, restaurant deals, and etcetera.

Recently on Groupon I have stumbled upon a really affordable, trend worthy product site called Brandless and of course there was a super amazing Groupon deal! $20 purchase for TWO Groupon vouchers that are valued for $40 worth of product each.

What does Brandless have? Gluten free, vegan friendly, organic snacks and foods with a good majority priced at $3! Yes, just $3! Hold on, there’s more to save your moolah! They have household cleaners, body and hygiene products, cosmetic goods, and household items. FREE shipping if you are a member of B.More and that’s $36 annual membership cost or $5 flat shipping fee for all orders. Can’t beat it! I’m not a member just yet but something qualified my order for free shipping! I think it’s because it’s an order over $40.

But seriously, I’m excited to get our first shipment and I will update with photos once arrived. If you want to check it out for yourself, get started BRANDLESS. For the Groupon offer to go with: $20 for $40 Towards Everyday Essentials at Brandless. I managed to puchase 14 items for $20.50 with this offer.  Items ordered range from scented foaming hand soap, toilet tissue (2ply-6ct), sour gummy worms, sea salt popcorn, organic coconut oil (10oz), body scrub, bath gel and a variety of household cleaners.

Dear Onslow,

I’ve spent some time out this morning talking with all the candidates on site at the One Stop voting location at public safety. I encourage each of you as fellow citizens to get out and talk with the candidates and address your concerns, ask questions that are weighing on your heart, express your ideas if you have them and see what they say in response. These gentlemen were more than kind and gracious to engage in conversation, and I do mean ALL of them, even the one that I cannot vote for because he’s not in my district. I’m pleased with them as fellow citizens regardless if I will give them my vote or not. (I will write more on the nature of the conversations individually over the weekend but I have no disappointments with any of the gentlemen I was fortunate to speak with.) I’ve addressed concern that the school lunch assistance program will end, well Mr. Bob Williams has been on the board for the last 5-6 year’s and the program is still in place, no plans for removing.

Candidates Campaigning 4/27/18

Make your choices on your ballots with what is right for you and your family with confidence and knowledge.

We need unity, we need to find common ground and work together to make Onslow a better county as a whole! Which brings me to another point, social movements. Social movements have been a part of American societal change since as far back as the Civil War and have created the dynamic in many areas of reform as well as progress. Without citizens being active parts of how we govern ourselves, aid each other assistance as citizens, neighbors, and decent human beings overall. We have a social movement here in Onslow County, Action PAC organization where it seems that the Mission is to actively be involved in communities helping those who need it where they need it as well as occasional and respectful challenge towards government leaders on local, state and federal level. I spoke to the founder today during my time out in an impromptu meeting, Mr. Al Burgess. The good Lord knows, Al and I don’t agree on a lot of things and I am sure lately I’ve been a thorn in his side on occasion but we can argue our sides and then find a medium where we can work together.

However in anything, we are human- therefore, we have emotion and where one citizens experience with a person maybe a very poor one my experience could be great and vice versa. We also have ability to allow emotions to cloud our judgement and occasionally deter from the mission. What we must do as Citizens and humans in general is to sit down with candidates, officials and organizers whether individually or as a collective and ask the questions, have the conversations, and gain clarity, most of all find the common ground that is best for ALL citizens collectively in Onslow County, North Carolina, and America. The first battle is within ourselves, we must conquer our own demons in our own thoughts, drive out fear by taking chances and oftentimes those chances simply mean to speak and to listen. I truly and deeply from my heart, encourage & challenge you all to talk to someone that you may find there to be an indifference or an opposing view and truly engage whether the conversation end where you still disagree but at least you were heard and you allowed them to be heard.

Not as Republicans or Democrats or Independent but as citizens and we can, together!! Have uncomfortable conversations and LISTEN to hear, not listen to respond. Only then, will we find compassion and conquer the ground we need work on. Remember, only love can drive out hate. If we are bickering and creating confusion, that’s not love, it’s not fair. We will argue, we will be angry, we will not approve of every step and should hold each other accountable as officials and citizens. But in everything, God is not the author of confusion, everyone is saying the word of God but hardly anyone is showing it. Let our actions speak more than our words… One love- God Bless.

PS- If any-one or any brand use any part of my work as you have been from my website or social media network pages, site me, link my website or be accountable for the plagiarism since you’re so big on the bounds of education.

Respectfully yours,
Melissa Oakley, The Onslow Beat

The Stranger Danger of Community Conversations

Yesterday my husband had surgery (went well and he’s beginning a swift recovery and stronger today) and meanwhile there, I ran out to get him gym shorts and to the pharmacy to go ahead and have his meds done on discharge from surgery. Thankfully I did that, because it only took an hour and a half to complete that mission alone. Yes, you read that right.

 Anyways, I was waiting in the hallway with other military spouses, active duty and retirees etc. Being the chatterbox I am, I engaged in conversation with two other spouses close by. We began to talk about what other duty stations we have lived at during the course of our husbands careers, most recent ones prior and comparisons. There was a hospital staff member that suggested we could sit and talk in the cafe, grab a lunch or something to drink and watch the screen there for our tickets to be called for getting prescriptions picked up. So we did just that. Mind you, we were total strangers, never asked each other’s names or anything come to think of it now but we did learn each other’s ticket numbers to help notice if one of us was called while the other not paying attention or stepped away. 

Rewind a few minutes before though. While in the hallway we shared our hometowns, distances we travel to see family and friends in other places, how it is to live around military bases, on bases, the behavior in age differences between all aforementioned, the housing markets and feeling stuck on potentially having to take losses if selling now or futuristically. One from PA, one from WNC like me.

While in the cafe, we began to talk about healthcare, foods and life in general. We got into a discussion on allergies and illnesses that people don’t think about. The one lady expressed her serious concern about dairy allergies because she has one. So severe that she wanted wings like I ordered but she was fearful they’d been fried in grease with mozzarella sticks or something dairy wise and she’d suffer later. That sent a lightbulb off in my head!! A green light at that because it made me think, wait, I’m lactose intolerant and I can’t do dairy without suffering consequences myself and sometimes I can eat things that aren’t dairy products but suffer identical pain and symptoms!

(This isn’t a dairy and allergy deal, keep reading- it’s life lessons!) I expressed thanks to her for that because I feel a connection is there in that. They both had similar ideas on how mediocre medical care on bases can be, even off base, some Drs just won’t tell you the in depth of preventing symptoms or things to avoid and we have to be our own advocates for care. I told them I totally agreed with them and told them how I live with an invisible illness and told them about Chiari Malformation and the surgery I had two months ago, then of course they looked stunned and I showed them my battle scar (surgical scar) and they sighed in amazement that I’m up and living life like it’s golden, one said “that’s pretty bad ass of you, you go!” I shared facts of Chiari etc and how it’s hard to find a specialist.

We then talked about children, our children’s schools, social lives changing moving here, positives and negatives alike. We discussed drugstores and how the costs of medications vary from pharmacy to pharmacy and which were inexpensive and don’t make you wait for days like where we were at the time.

Our numbers began to get called. The other girl from WNC was called first, then the girl from PA, then I was called soon after. As we began to part ways, we said our farewells and thanks for having conversations and wished each other a great day.

Still wondering where this is going right? Ok. See, when I was in the hallway there were many people! A diverse group of people and strangers for the most part with exception of a few who were staff members who knew each other, a man and his service dog, a man and his spouse. Various races, genders, ethnicities. But for the most part, everyone was standing silently glued to their phone screens, looking as if they hoped that nobody was going to begin talking to them. And here we were smack in the middle, two blondes and a mixed breed (Me) who began a conversation about how long we were set to wait and the new system to scan ID cards to get scripts but it grew into so much more and fast.

If only we could be like that everyday, everyone not just some people. But willing to give others a chance, willing to listen to others and just be kind! See, there were women in the hallway that were the same race as me, but when I passed by and said hello, they looked at me like “do you know her?” To each other and responded with an ole dry “hey”, “hello”, or a seemingly hesitant hand wave.

There was another lady right by us, beautiful woman with perfectly caramel colored skin and she looked terrified that we would possibly start talking to her. (lol) But she was listening to us bc she would occasionally look our ways. The seed was planted to not fear engagement with our peers. Every friend was a stranger when you first met them. Everybody that “matches you” won’t engage with you or connect.

But what we accomplished was this, an extraordinary example of how if we take strangers from different walks of life, different ages, races and put them in an environment where they have to talk or be bored with themselves, put down the devices that have become distractions from people but more into the media’s perception- we might learn from each other, we might be able to talk to each other, we might have an understanding of what each persons views are in life, what each is facing, how someone else has experienced life in different demographics and geographic locations. The endless possibilities there!

If only we could have the same kind of open conversations about how this allergy of adversity, plague of prejudice, rash of racial tension and terminal terrorism that has built a plaque in the hearts and minds of many generations in this country. Because everyone has an ailment of it in some form whether it’s internal or external links, it’s there. We killed the concept that all we have now is divide! We disrupted the regularly scheduled news and put on a reality series live with diversity working in positivity. We chose to connect and support the next person with encouragement and kindness.

When is the last time you talked to a stranger?

A Mel’ O Brown Sugar Rose Scrub

 

As some friends, followers and acquaintances have noticed, I’m preferable to a good do-it-yourself product especially skin care or home cleaning products vs a store bought one with the harsh preservatives and toxic chemicals, additives and dyes- oh my!
So I have recently gone back to my old routine of Sunday’s making my potions so to speak. Last Sunday was my rose water day and I didn’t make enough, I ended up on a refill deal yesterday and made enough to freeze some in safe containers to last through the week. While we are on the subject of rose water, what’s that good for? That’s what some of you’re wondering right? Along with, geesh, she’s really into roses…. well I actually despise red roses as gifts but if you buy me a rose bush, I’ll be forever grateful because it’s going to keep on giving. Anyways, rose water- excellent make up remover for starters, great toner and overall cleanser. It reduces redness, combats acne with its natural antibacterial properties, a soothing option for eczema and those lovely summer days of being in too much sun.
So what I did today was created a body scrub with roses of course, I mean hello- they’re part of the kick in this mix!
Ingredients needed:
Dark Brown Sugar (Can Use Light Brown if you want a softer scrub mix however, the lighter the sugar- the less nutrients)
Coconut oil (Organic/Unrefined preferred. I chose Dr Bronners)
Rosemary essential oil (My brand preference is the PURE Melaleuca brand but you can get a good quality oil from your local drug store that’s highly affordable for anyone)
Fresh plucked rose petals. I didn’t measure, I just grabbed a handful and filled my chopping machine that only holds up to– 1.5 cups.

(Feel free to use the collage/photos as a guide included below)

 

I don’t measure much, I’m more of a look at it and seek texture desired kind of girl. Sorry folks! No Martha Stewart living here on that aspect.

First I blended my rose petals down to very fine pieces then added in the brown sugar (apx 1 cup of brown sugar).

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5.


Then added approximately 3TBSP of coconut oil and a few drops extra rolled in. Stirred in a little with the spoon and then began to mix again in the mixer until it looked like all ingredients had folded together well. There may be lumps so use a spoon to break then blend once more, can also add about 10-12 drops of rosemary essential oil at this point or wait until complete but it’s best to make sure it’s blended throughout the scrub as well.

Remove from the mixing cup and into your own personal plastic bpa free container or jar, cover and refrigerate to keep freshest if you don’t plan to use all at once. Feel free to start scrubbing away and enjoying this heavenly scent! Your body and nose will thank you! Also make it yours, add your own favorite oils, but be cautious about peppermint oil- it’s a spicy one but it’ll give your body a pep talk as well as your senses indeed!

Finished Scrub. Garnish of Petals optional.

 

Benefits of rose petals for skin/scrubs/health- https://healthyfocus.org/8-benefits-of-rose-tea/
Benefits of rosemary essential oil- https://draxe.com/rosemary-oil-uses-benefits/
Benefits of coconut oil- https://draxe.com/coconut-oil-benefits/

**Disclaimer: 
By using this recipe on your own skin, a friend or family member, you are doing so at your own choice, will and discretion. While I know these ingredients are safe for me, they may not be for your skin, therefore any reactions occurred are at your own risks. I am not legally responsible for any extremely sensitive skin reactions or allergic reactions, skin damages etc that may occur. This disclaimer is merely a point of protection for myself legally, I do not believe in any way personally that this scrub will cause a reaction for anyone unless by chance you may be allergic to any ingredients used. I do not believe nor have knowledge of any ingredients being harsh for sensitive skin and in fact I have researched finding it to be an aide in eczema and sensitive skin. Yet I am not a licensed dermatologist, nor medical provider, I am a blogger who enjoys making my own skincare products in the natural essence and sharing it with my followers and friends. Enjoy and God bless! 

 

 

By Design.

My grandmother used to have an old singer sewing machine and of course the only way that you could sew on the sewing machine was to mash the pedal and keep it going by using your foot creating manual power. Well, if you were trying to sit down at this machine and just sew on it without using the foot pedal, expecting battery or electrical action, you can guarantee that needle would not move. But if you put a little action and labor into the process you’re guaranteed to be able to run the thread and create whatever you desire because the design of this machine.

See, A lot like us as people by design as we have an individual purpose, it takes particular action to drive our purpose. Some of us by design are better bakers, made to be lawyers, made to be artists, made to be doctors, maybe you were made to be a servant and/or volunteer being a philanthropist, maybe you were designed to minister, maybe you were designed to be a firefighter, maybe you were designed to be a writer but whatever your design is there is something that is required to take place an order for your design to complete your purpose.

When we really look at it, the thing is so many of us are unaware of our design and we’re also unaware of our purpose for so long that we are fueled by the wrong things that keep sending us the wrong direction we continue to function incorrectly. Have you ever just tried something to try something out, only for you try something else and seemingly everything you do it just doesn’t work out doesn’t feel right and that’s because it’s not your purpose and it’s not in your design to do? Yes, you may even be good at it, you may even feel good doing it but deep inside there something that tells us as individuals that well I’m good at it and I making good money or I’m getting recognized at work, maybe even promoted, a raise or whatever but it’s just not a good fit completely there still a few pieces of a problem rooted deep within. Example, I have a friend who’s a Marine, she’s a bodybuilder, fitness instructor as well. Bro, I don’t even lift currently! So, if I went to fill in for her fitness class it would be a flop! I’m not designed to do that, I have no desire or calling to do that, it isn’t my purpose. I would stick out like a sore thumb. First of all, my current lack of muscle tone would give it away that I cannot teach them anything today and not for a while if I wanted to!

No matter the environment you could have placed my grandmothers Singer sewing machine in, it would’ve still been a sewing machine! You couldn’t have baked bread with it because you put dough on it, you couldn’t have canned jelly with it because you put some mason jars on it, you couldn’t have ironed clothes with it just because you warmed up the needle, you couldn’t have watched your favorite show on it just because we put it where the TVs antenna would reach it. And that’s like us no matter what environment you place us in, we will always be designed for one purpose whether we walk in it or not. I remember when my grandmother stopped sewing she used the sewing machine as a piece of decor and a table piece for other antique items but it was still designed for sewing. So no, matter if you do what you’re meant to do, follow your dreams and so on, you will still be what you’re supposed to be on this earth for. Just don’t allow your purpose to sit and collect dust when you hit a few kinks in the road like Grandma retired her machine instead of getting it repaired. Don’t deny yourself the opportunities to grow taking classes, learn new skills and ways to build in the right direction. Even if it’s one step at a time, live by design.

You talk by Faith, I’ll walk by Faith. (Individual healing)

Individual Healing Since I have been diagnosed with CM1, preparation for surgery and especially since post op, I have found that I am being offered much unwanted and unwarranted advice and I’ve seen it happen to others who have dealt with this before me. As well as it does for other people with chronic illnesses. I’m gonna take a leap and get this off my chest. See, none of us are the same, none of us have identical experiences with the disorder, none of us have the same willpower, support or experiences with daily life. What has happened to you, worked for you, benefited you, hindered you, set you back, failed you, what your Dr told you, or what a shared Dr said likely will not be an identical deal to walk through the finish line. Because you have struggled doesn’t mean that the next newbies will. Not everyone has as much chaos in their condition as many others, sometimes a person might have a very simple case and be healed in no time and others will face a number of surgeries and rehabilitation. But it’s sad that this is where you see the jealousy and envy come in on many cases. There are people who will warn others to not do this and that or you better do this or that or you’ll have a setback because to them it’s unfair that they’re not doing as well, haven’t done as well. Well, perhaps that stony heart posture is why you’re still battling so hard. Learn to celebrate others victories and not assume that they aren’t doing what’s best for them as individuals. And of course there’s those who truly mean well and simply worry about everyone and everything but they usually speak the least often. See, before I got sick, hiking, running, walking, beaching, outdoors life with music in my ears was my release besides working. When I was forced to do less of those things, it took a toll on mind and spirit. The blessings always flowed to me to feel energized and refreshed by being outside in nature. Now post op, I’m making time daily to get outdoors and connect with the universe and God. I have not put my hiking boots back on, but hubs did buy me some new adidas slip on sneakers because it’s helping build my ability to walk steady and rebuild my arches. Furthermore, I don’t have to bend down to tie the shoes up because bending is a no go for post op! See, some of you have seen me post pics of victories claimed yet you’re unaware of the battle for that victory, and you assume. You see me at a lookout in the mountains and assume I’ve hiked the blue ridge mountains and the parking lot is right in eye shot and I literally just had a small venture of faith. I’m just trying to understand how some of you in the same breath can speak of faith but discourage the action of faith. Because I thought faith without works was dead. What someone else might not be able to do or couldn’t do, another might be able to do at a higher capacity just fine, and why? We are different people and probably have different lifestyles and habits anyways. Just as I was warned that I was going to need to have outside food brought in because the hospital food was “healthy and bland” and that simply wasn’t the case. Well it was a healthy option and Park Ridge is an active vegan, plant based nutritional center but they do have meat! The apple wood chicken bacon was delicious!! I usually have turkey bacon but I’m now looking for chicken bacon. I’ve lived off of plants,fruits, nuts and seafood for the most part for the last 6 months with very few exceptions to that. #PracticallyPescaterian But that’s an example of assumptions because you can’t possibly know a persons diet preferences by looking at them. There’s things people post that I know I could never do right now especially but I still wholeheartedly cheer for them because I want people to be great and great at being themselves!! I’m not a know it all,I am not a doctor either, yet I have certainly read so much prior to this surgery because usually everything bad that can happen… usually happens to me! I’ve only had two surgeries before this, one was a tubal ligation and the other a hernia repair and both times my heart cut a donkey! One of which my heart stopped all together! I know I need to walk some every day because it’s a part of my rehabilitation at home, and it’s also combatting the risk of me having a DVT (blood clot) as I’ve had a history with post op before. I have orders from my neurosurgeon to stretch and exercise particular methods daily and I do that. I’m not going against his orders for what any fellow person thinks because they have had an entirely different experience and in most cases an entirely different doctor and an entirely different case of Chiari. But if I sit here and listen to most of you all, I would be tied to the bed with rope and duct tape and using a bedside potty and end up with a clot that’s a whole new beast in its own right. Some of you have a huge, readily available, extremely supportive and and actively hands on type families and friends so you can have your lay around days for weeks on end and you can stay in bed because that’s what you’re used to anytime you feel bad anyway, but not all of us can and we won’t! Does this mean we are not taking our own healing process seriously or that we are not responsible patients? Certainly not! Sometimes you have to choose to adapt to conquer and sometimes the things people have to do that you find risky is their saving grace! If you have been fortunate enough for you to be waited on hand and foot, god bless your family and your support system if that’s your thing, it’s not for me. We don’t all want or like to have that much of an accommodating experience to say it kindly. You may see me outside not knowing how long I have been there, if I’m walking or used a shuttle but there’s always a fool who will speak out of assumption that I can’t possibly know my body and what I need after living with myself over 35yrs. I’m not setting out to make a mockery of the illness, make it look like a cake walk because it’s certainly not, nor the surgery process but I am setting out to encourage people filled with fear that there’s a chance that it will not be a tragic event for them and they can have a positive outcome too! So when you see someone with a chronic illness, a fellow person who is battling Chiari Malformation or any sub conditions and they’re rocking it out, cheer them on and keep that hindering mess to yourself. Because honestly, all the “be careful, rest, use ice, use heat, you need to sleep, take your meds…” that’s not sincere, faux concept of concern that is easily discerned by some of us. I mean, the Drs give instructions on discharge so if there’s a person that’s truly gone crazy doing ridiculous stuff and not listening to their Dr, why do you think they’ll listen to you? They’re not. Choose to fight your way, cheer on your fellow friends how they have to fight. Same goal different strategies! And if it’s any consolation, I’m writing this out while laying down and unable to sleep as my pain meds aren’t working well tonight to help me sleep. So my next step is lavender oil and meditation and nature sounds playing. To give you some online resources from credible sources that state to walk, move etc just as my Dr has- http://www.mayfieldchiaricenter.com/chiari_surgery.php http://www.neurosurgeonsofnewjersey.com/after-chiari-malformation-surgery/

Mount Chiari Mission-Rolling with Rosner.

As some of you know, there are very few Chiari Specialists in the entire country. Only one highly recommended in the state of NC which is Dr. Michael J. Rosner, office located in Hendersonville, NC. Being we are on the coast of NC, it was a haul across the state for this mission. On Saturday night, I had a pretty ugly onset of symptoms, lots of head and neck pain, speech impairment, loss of free mobility, hearing shot in combination of ears with thumping sounds and chaos, nausea, spasms, couldn’t think to speak when I could mumble a word. I was just a mess! I finally got off to sleep that night, with plans to leave early Sunday by vehicle if possible. I was originally slotted to fly with Angel Soars and was approved to do so, I decided to cancel that flight because I didn’t think I could fly honestly in an un-pressurized aircraft with how my head and neck already felt, was a bit afraid that I might be triggered further with symptoms. Not to mention there was a 10lb carry on limit and taking comfort items, let alone my purse was the 10lbs. However, I am utterly thankful for an organization like Angel Soars and will probably be utilizing their services post-op.

Sunday morning, woke up to not being able to lift my arms or legs, few minutes passed and I managed to wiggle my hands, but the pain I felt radiate down my body put me to tears after about 25 minutes of trying to awaken my limbs. It was like a wave of paralysis came over me and a shocking sense of pain I truly cannot describe in words. I managed to call the kids into our bedroom because my husband had ran out to the store. The kids lifted my arms, wiggled them, waved them up and down, worked with them to try to waken my limbs only for me to feel like “oh my God, I am not going to come out of this right now….” I started to call on God, asking for help, please let me get out of the bed, help me get up. By this time my husband had returned, one child went to get him immediately for help to sit me up. I was in complete tears. I remember him trying to sit me up and I felt a sudden increase of pain shoot down my neck and spine and I screamed from the agony. Not only did I scream, I managed to utter the words, “Dear God, do not let me live like this, I cannot live like this!” In my mind I had many things racing through, I knowing that Rosner is the best chance I have at getting help in this state, I had to do something and my choices were slim to none. I had to be able to climb on the wing of an aircraft to fly, or into a vehicle to ride or drive and driving was completely out of the question. Thankfully, I wasn’t the driver! Anyhow, my husband scooped me up and held me up for a bit because I said, I have got to sit up. I just had the urge to sit up and felt like that would help me get relief in that physical state. It was as if something was telling me to get him to sit me up so the cerebral spinal fluid could flow and send the message to my limbs to function. At this time, I had no certain idea why this was occurring with me. I managed to become mobile, slowly but I did it, I had tremors though. It took a few hours of struggle to succeed.

My appointment with Dr. Rosner was scheduled for Tuesday morning. I was in the waiting area about 5 minutes before getting called back to an exam area for vitals, weight, height, the usual stuff, directly from there right into an exam room. Was in the exam room a short time before he came in and began my exam. After doing verbal examination of discussing, he did a very impressive and thorough physical exam! “The Safety Pin” gave me a sure fire wake up call! I didn’t realize how hypersensitive some areas of my skin and limbs are. I nearly jumped off the exam table at some points. Oh, I’m sure you’re thinking “what did he do exactly with the safety pin?” Well, he took a larger style safety pin, sterilized it right in front of me, used it to start at the top of my head, down my face, arms, neck, back, legs, feet. By the time he got to my neck I was cringing, between my shoulders-cringing, down my legs and the closer to my feet the more I jumped like a frog in boiling point water! He didn’t keep going because I believe he got the point and I certainly did! I had to stand on one leg, well one leg has Greater Saphenous Reflux so already a struggle there, but it was the opposite leg that I almost fell over on! (insert lauging emoji and eye roll emoji) It was unbelievable how much I am truly effected by this. But after the physical exam, we (husband and I) were asked to come back to the conference room after I was out of the European fashion week paper gown and dressed. This is where I learned that not only do I have Chiari (confirmed again for 3rd time as if we needed another.) I also have a compressed and twisted spinal stem that means messages from my brain (cerebellum in particular) are being blocked from sending the information to the rest of my body to work! The cerebellum is considered what is called “the little brain” controlling motor functions and muscle ability.

During the final portion of this visit with Dr Rosner, we discussed the depths of the surgery and the benefits, also the possible complications that can come soon after and how they’d be corrected. He went over images from other patients who had similar Malformation as I have and how during the surgery the nerves had began to repair themselves. From slide to slide, start to finish, you could see a huge difference between before and after. He was open to questions, open to concerns, offered very transparent knowledge, shared his personal life and family. He made it a very comfortable experience! From the Drs I’ve seen so far, I have left in tears from disappointment and left feeling like “maybe this is just in my head” and then the pain or symptoms quickly reminded me, “oh it’s in your head but not the way they say!”

After a few years of broken, damaged or distant friendships because of having to say “I don’t think I should do that, I can’t do that, I can’t go there….” I finally now understand why. Having feelings of anxiousness as never before, unexplained bouts of aggression and frustration or more easily elevated levels of, cycles out of whack, increased number of cycles, extremely painful cycles, urination increased, vision decreased, hearing “huh, what’d you say?!” Loss, loss of appetite, silent seizures, speech impairment, trouble swallowing, weight fluctuations, weight loss struggles and I’ve never experienced before being I’ve always been a smaller framed person…. I could go on and on…. misunderstanding myself, confusion literally and figuratively. But now, has come the light at the end of the tunnel. Tentatively I am going for surgery in August. I’ll be in the hospital for a projected 5 days and released back to the world as a zipper head. Pictures of some people who’ve been through the brain surgery and their incisions to help you understand what zipperhead means.

So, I have already began prepping my hair and head for this grand event! Will update with the final product once the design is done in my undercut. But I’m pretty at peace with it, of course it’s a huge deal, thoughts of what if it doesn’t work or something goes wrong  etc but I counter them with what if it works and what if it goes well. Mind over matter.
If you’re a Chiari patient in NC, SC, TN, GA, or anywhere remotely accessible to Dr Rosner, I highly recommend a consult if you’re looking for a great neurosurgeon and Chiari specialist.
His office website is: http://www.mjrosner.com/ Located in Hendersonville, NC.
***Disclaimer***I do not own rights to photos used, I obtained them from the original owners websites/blogs and they’re visible by links that should lead to their sites as well. None of these things are intended as medical advice, the context is merely my own experience and the information I have gathered in my visit and research.**

Acceptance of Adversity.

“By accepting reality of circumstances, illness, situations, finances, family matters, friendships or all else you can think of, you can face your reality and present life in truth not delusions with false hopes. Accepting gives a place of freedom, freedom to gain strength, gain faith in not knowing how but knowing it shall be, peace in knowing what is for me is for me and a hedge of divine protection hovers around me…..whom and what shall I fear when I am fearfully and wonderfully made as I know I shall live and not perish?” -Mel’O

During the first few weeks of me being diagnosed with Chiari Malformation Type 1 (CM1), I was accepted to a model call that was capturing stages of grief. Ironically, I had just reached that stage with this condition physically, mentally and spiritually. The photographer did not know that until we began to talk some and I told her about the condition, my symptoms and so forth. She was eager to get me in the shoot for this section to represent acceptance.

Having been given many various teachings religiously over the years, I have often heard that you don’t accept illnesses because Gods word says we are healed. What I have came to realize is this, if I’m denying being “ill” to begin with then how can God heal it when I am claiming nothing exists? There is power in the tongue indeed! However, many feel this is giving power to whatever is plaguing you, no, it’s not at all. Until you accept it, you can’t have any control over how it’s affecting you but if you do, you can control how you react to it, you can work on healing methods and watch faith rain more favor in areas of healing. I’ve heard people refuse to say “I was diagnosed with….” whatever illness, disease or condition because it’s “against God” they’d say. Well I beg to differ because Job for example had much suffering and he admitted it and accepted it all while clinging to his faith! Denying “it” will not make it go away. Denying it is denying God the chance to handle it!

Some people will not accept certain physical gifts because they didn’t like it, it was cheap, they don’t like the color, don’t know how to use it, it was a re-gift, it was used whatever…. that’s the same thing for illness in a sense, and no I am not saying illness is a gift but it can be if you turn it into one. Remember, everything we go through isn’t about us, it isn’t for us. Sometimes and quite often in fact it’s about how God wants to use us as gifts for others. There are thousands of people in support groups for CM1, they suffer or a loved one suffers from it. It’s also okay to say “suffer” because without admitting the state of the condition you cannot gain strength to conquer it. Nobody gains strength from lifting pillows, it takes some heavy weight. If we look at this in a biblical place, suffering is necessary and to expect it and be prepared. (2 Tim 2:3, 3:1-4, 13)

Like I was saying, it’s not about us always but even in the midst of whatever storm, God is doing something in us. Me for example, I had to overcome the concept of “people really won’t listen to me because of who I ‘was’ and now people really don’t know who I ‘am.'” Honestly, people closest to me have never really known me because I used to not feel free enough to be completely transparent or open. God changes that in me for the better every day, letting go of what others said I can’t or couldn’t do, wouldn’t do, shouldn’t say because I used to…. when those same people only know who I was not the “renewed” Mel. I have grown in accepting that there’s always going to be a naysayer, there’s always going to be a group of “haters”, shade throwers and mud slingers but as long as they’re listening and watching, seeds are getting planted, deliverance is setting people free and awareness is coming forth. I have felt like people won’t take me seriously because I am always upbeat and happy, even when I feel down or sick.

My passion is to make people laugh, find courage, strength in all things not be drained, I want to be the reason someone didn’t give up, I want to be a reason someone fought harder, I want to be the reason that somebody found their way back to Christ and directly with him, I want to be the reason somebody got off drugs, I want to be the reason that somebody stopped feeling ashamed because they used to be a harlot in the hood, I want to be the reason somebody stops being labelled the tramp in the trailer park,  I want to be the reason that somebody knows that a ho can become a housewife (oh yes, I did just say that God delivers all if you let him and all wrongs will be righted 2 Tim 3:8-9; 4:14), I want to be the reason that people know you can be a teen mother and still become greatness achieving goals overcoming obstacles, I want to be the reason that young women learn the value of their bodies and why we shouldn’t take on soul ties that are difficult to break once bound knotted in the womb of your spirit, I want to be the reason someone changed their lifestyle choices, I want to be the reason that someone kicked fear of talking about mental illness to the curb and got help, I want to be the reason someone stops stealing stuff and starts stealing souls for Christ, I want to be the reason someone was encouraged from tears of sadness to tears of joy…. I never want to be the reason someone feels sadness, pity, sympathetic for me. I want people to gain strength in my journey and join it learning because it’s not only my journey, it’s just the road I’m on, there’s many of us on this journey, just in different directions. It’s about not forgetting my purpose in midst of suffering, all of this is not for nothing and none of it is for me but to bring awareness not only to Chiari but many areas of suffering. When you come to accept that you are a prisoner of Christ, not of your own circumstances or other people (2 Tim 1:8) you can proceed without fail without a doubt that it is going to be a help to others in suffering. Now knowing, have lived through things I know the Lord will deliver from ALL Evil in his time and his way (2 Tim 4:17-18) But in the meanwhile, the heart should counsel according to the truth and promises of God. (Psalm 27)

I had to accept more than this condition, I had to accept me, I had to go back and accept who I was not just admit who I was, I had to dig deeper into myself and deal with those demons that were still whispering about “you know if you do this event at home they’re going to say…..” and I had to let the demons know, everyone has past transgressions and by going through the life I have lived somebody’s going to be free and I am free,  I have always touched people in a special way, you will not stop what God has for me to do. I accepted the challenge to follow my purpose. Not only of this condition but of foul treatment, backstabbing, lack of support and gossip old and new. Because without the mess, there’d be no message! The word says to be quick to praise Him and testify to others based on how the Lord has delivered you. (2 Tim 3:11; 4:16-17) I had to accept that when I do not have people I hope to support that I already have the presence of Christ because he never leaves even when I fall (Matt. 28:20) I have the prayers of the righteous- other believers (2 Tim. 1:3) an the fellowship of suffering with other believers who are also facing hardships for the sake of Christ. (2 Tim 1:8; Heb. 13:3; Col. 1:24).

Notice that none of these things have to do with me except me intent wise except finding myself, accepting myself. Until you can accept even your deepest flaws, failures, heart aches, wrongs, misfortunes, poor choices, not being the best person along with acknowledging your growth, potential, victories, fortunes, success, fruits of your labor, abilities, gifts and talents, there is no finding acceptance and without acceptance in all areas of yourself, you cannot help anyone else accept themselves or their circumstances. None of this is to receive an earthly reward or recognition on my behalf because all of your suffering, efforts, labors and faithfulness will be rewarded on “that Day” when believers stand before the Father. (2 Tim 1:12, 18; 2:12; 4:8; Phil. 1:6, 10; 2:16; James 1:12). If this illness were to be the gateway that God calls me on, I want my cup to be empty, I want to be used up, I want every part of my life to be a stepping stone for others, I want others to know there’s hope, there’s always a better day ahead and just hold on in the press.

If Chiari has done anything, it has opened my eyes spiritually more on myself. Lots of fear of failure leave my body daily. Just because someone says you can’t, you shouldn’t, someone else will be better suited for the job, you keep getting passed over and you may even feel discouraged, you might be sick and feel like you aren’t getting well, you might hate to mention you are ill and might even have something people don’t understand or something you feel ashamed about, let every trial become a chapter in your testimony. Everyone will not understand your journey, everyone is not meant to be a part of your press, many will turn against you, many will linger along just to watch silently hoping you fail just to talk about you but REMEMBER, they talked about Jesus straight to the cross up until the moment he hung his head and died! So pick up your cross, look onward to him by faith and keep on going up the Kings Highway!

Mel’O Theory

Here’s me in the moment of acceptance, after prior morning meditation and fellowship during the session with the photographer. I was shaking and trembling during this shoot, not because I was nervous but because of symptoms onset. I was not balanced and had to stand in different positions several times to try to capture as many photos as possible. By the time I made it home, I was totally out of spoons, I was done for. Yet beforehand,  I claimed my peace over this that morning and I refused to hold on to the “well the Dr said I shouldn’t work, drive etc until….” I know my limits and I pushed them a little that morning but never will I allow this to discourage, only to encourage and make people aware that there are many people with chronic illnesses that don’t look sick, you cannot visibly see all illnesses so don’t ever think for a second someone is just over exaggerating or being dramatic. There are many illnesses that cause suffering, Chron’s, Lupus, IBS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sickle Cell Anemia, digestive issues, gallbladder issues, pancreatitis, migraines, depression, bi-polar disorder, polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, diabetes, heart disease, lung diseases, asthma, allergies,  alcoholism, drug abuse and/or addiction, hypertension, thyroid disease, liver disease (not related to alcohol as well), HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis and the latter two mentioned are not always contracted sexually, from having many sex partners or sharing needles, some contract from one partner, a blood transfusion or a baby born into it.

So with all of this said, I would appreciate anyone aiding in planning the 1st Annual Conquer Chiari Walk Across America 5K on September 16th, 2017 from 1p-4p at The Track at Dunbar, 286 Learning Way, Forest City NC. The goal set is not only to reach my monetary goal of $2,500 but also to raise awareness about as many health matters, drug use and abuse, mental health, community unity all in one place, together as one band of people supporting not only the Conquer Chiari Foundation as center stage but other conditions as well because Chiari comes with many other conditions as well. What matters is everyone feeling like there’s something for them. I am also seeking food vendors, ministers and pastors from community churches to join in leading prayer, a DJ that is willing to donate his/her time complimentary or a small fee, medical offices that are willing to come out and provide BP checks, blood sugar testing and information. I also hope to obtain a Mobile Red Cross Blood Drive on site, would love to have vendors selling their products and promoting services for a donation that goes directly to the foundation. All donations can receive a charitable donation receipt. There is also a need for prizes for raffle, if you own a hair salon, massage parlor, restaurant etc and would like to donate a gift certificate, hardware store or business to donate an item for raffle as top prize would be greatly appreciated as well.

For more information bout Chiari Malformation go to www.conquerchiari.org and for inquires on how to donate, volunteers and planning please email me at: conquerchiari.mel410@gmail.com

The face of acceptance. Walking in purpose. Bringing vision to life.

Facing Chiari

“When life gives you a hand of a game you’ve never played, you learn to play it, you learn to play it better and you help others learn to deal and conquer along the way.” -Mel’O

Back in mid-February I noticed I felt congested and like (to be honest) I had something in my nose that just would not come out with blowing my nose. I felt the urgency to look in my nose because it felt like something was there in my right nostril limiting my nasal passage as well as irritating me with each inhalation. I looked in my nose and knew immediately, “Nasal Polyps”. I called my PCP (primary care physician) the next morning to make an appointment and sure enough, “Nasal Polyps”. Not only in one nostril, but both. ENT referral submitted for that. Meanwhile, I had expressed other symptoms that didn’t add up to the nasal polyps and being I was prior diagnosed (now believed to be misdiagnosed) with fibromyalgia and again, some symptoms just didn’t add up, so she wanted a CT scan of my brain to check for a tumor, lesions or stroke damage. (MS and fibromyalgia are very similar in symptoms as well as lupus oftentimes so in case of new developments on my brain we needed to know.)

The CT results came in, report showing that I had inflammation on my brain which lead to the further ordering of testing by way of an MRI. The MRI report was sent to my PCP where I had another follow-up and As of April 10, 2017 at that visit, I was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation type 1. My PCP was shocked, I sat there stunned a minute as she was puzzled as well because this was not on the idea list in anyway of what could have been causing me to have the symptoms of- hearing impairment, swooshing and thumping sounds in my ears, vertigo, difficulty swallowing at times almost choking, neck pain and pressure, numbness and shakiness in limbs, legs worsening with weakness and pain at times, extreme fatigue, insomnia, peripheral vision issues and blurriness to name just a few things.  Furthermore, I had never heard of this condition and as much Dr. House, Grey’s that I have watched and not to mention cases I booked in the OR, I had not a single clue, it was a foreign language to me. My PCP telling me there was no medication she could prescribe, no therapy she could order and I needed to see a neurologist to get to a neurosurgeon in order to get care for this, I just sat there taken away for a minute. In all honesty, I wasn’t scared, I didn’t panic, I didn’t become afraid and I still am not even after asking her, “well there’s a cure right?” and she responded with a face of disappointment, “there’s no cure.” Even in the moments of my deepest concern hearing those words repeat in my head, “there’s no cure”, I drown those words with faith in knowing “I have been healed before.” God’s word tells us that no weapon formed will “prosper”, he didn’t say they wouldn’t form.

“What Is Chiari Malformation?
a serious neurological disorder where the bottom part of the brain, the cerebellum, descends out of the skull and crowds the spinal cord, putting pressure on both the brain and spine and causing many symptoms.” (ConquerChiari.org)

Common symptoms amongst 95% of Chiari Patients, patients typically experience at least five of the following symptoms:

Then we get to the frustrations, which I have actually been able to keep limited. Finding a neurologist or a neurosurgeon who has experience in this condition is like pointing out a flea on a dogs back. The knowledge and experience of this condition simply isn’t out there and it’s saddening. 1 in 1000 children are born with this condition, many adults acquire it in their 20’s and 30’s without having any signs or symptoms of it prior, even some have had it discovered without any symptoms. My first referral was a neurologist who specializes in migraines and botox to treat them, no experience with Chiari. In the entire state of NC, there are practically two options that I found to be best for me, one neurosurgeon at Duke Neurosurgical and one Dr. in Hendersonville, NC, Dr. Rosner who specializes in Chiari. Duke has a well known, highly reputable medical center, their basketball team…. well, Go Tarheels (lol)! Anyway, Dr. Isaac Karikari, MD is the next stop.

What does my average day feel like? It really changes from day to day, just as it has been from the original diagnosis of having fibromyalgia. The weather effects how I feel, sometimes it can be a beautiful day but if I do too much “living” for the day, I pay for it for several days to follow oftentimes. I am never not in pain in some part of my body, it’s just a matter of adapting and pushing forward, mind over matter so to speak. There are times I am scared to drive because of vertigo, sometimes peripheral vision lacks and vision all together blurred. This also discourages me from reading, hinders me from understanding text written or sent in emails and not to mention the brain fog of just feeling plain stupid at times like I am incompetent and my brain is fried in that moment. I now have a decrease in appetite and even when I can and do eat, I feel nauseous a lot, the last few days I have vomited and had stomach upset even with water and eating light with soup, crackers, things like that.  I am running a low grade fever of 99.4 which I notice has happened several days a month for at least the last year. All of the symptoms of “fibromyalgia” I have dealt with the last two years or so. Memory loss, I blamed on mom brain for so long but it’s way more than mom brain. I cannot find important things that usually I would easily know where they are like birth certificates, immunization records and records of house repairs. I also forget things like where I left my shoes, my purse, hair brush, often lose cell phone, keys and phone chargers, forget password combinations and other things like events that are regularly scheduled.

What is the treatment process?

Do people want pity or special attention because of having a chronic illness/disability? No, certainly not the majority, especially me. What most people want who have this condition or any condition is simply understanding, respect as anyone else and awareness about their condition, most of all- cures and prevention! There is very little understanding to both fibromyalgia and chiari malformation. So I have felt like I am a magnet to these weird diagnosis’s that have no great treatments, not top of the list for medical research or breakthroughs, people think it’s all in your head, you’re a hypochondriac, you’re making the pain up because “oh it really can’t be that bad is it?” because “you don’t look sick” and “you were just out yesterday doing…” What people don’t get is chronic illnesses suck, not only physically but mentally because you get sick of feeling it, the moment you feel like you can run a marathon and actually attempt it or even a potion you are set back way more than you already were. It’s like borrowing time and the interest rate is high because you never get the payoff of being 100%. “Looking normal” is only the beginning of the battle each day. Some people cannot even do that much. Would you tell a child “but you don’t look sick”? Probably not, so don’t say it to adults either. It’s like saying, “you’re lying.” Chiarians have plenty proof they’re not lying about the condition and the symptoms that come with a diagnosis. For example, one day I posted a selfie on FB and of course people commented “beautiful”, “you look great” and so on. But my caption was about being a #FibroWarrior (Fibromyalgia) and one commenter said, “You never look sick.” See, I get it, it’s meant as a compliment but it’s really not. You cannot possibly think you see people 24/7 in their lives, you don’t see the mornings where it’s a fight to get out of bed because of debilitating pain, stiffness, exhaustion, fatigue then the 3 hours that it took to get cleaned up, put on a bra, matching “real clothes” besides sweats, yoga pants and a huge shirt because yes even clothes hurt sometimes. Just this week, I posted a selfie and similar occurrence with someone assuming in a message, “So I guess the condition isn’t that serious, what is it? You look amazing. Why are you seeing a neuro?” Well, my response probably could have been nicer but it wasn’t because it was an immediate reaction and running on 2-ish hours of sleep. The thing was, just a few hours prior I was crying my eyes out because I could hardly stand to walk straight. Most know when it rains, if you have an issue- it goes nuts! I was bawling and ready to just curl up in a ball and be over the day and it wasn’t even noon. But then I dug deep in myself and said, put on some clothes (comfy but cute), do your makeup, put on your Lipsense and smile like life is worth living even in this pain and that is what I did! So posting selfies is seeking affirmation of others? Certainly not in my case, it’s a seal of conquering another moment at a crossroad where I could’ve gave up or got up and I chose to get up and fight, war paint and all. Not every chronically ill person will do as I do but this is my way. Some days I simply can’t can and that’s okay, we all have them at some point but I have it set in my mind that unless you are in my very close circle, you will never see me “look sick”.

 You don’t see the tears that fall early morning, midday, late night because the pain onset even more and all that person wanted was a little more time of “less pain”. See, most of us have become so used to it, we aren’t even praying that it goes away sometimes, we find ourselves just asking for “less” and more tolerance. You don’t see that she almost fell over from losing her balance 2 minutes before, you don’t see when a family member or spouse has to help him sit up, get out of the tub or keep steady because of dizziness, you don’t see that we really aren’t even sure if the cute selfie was really good because of blurry vision, you don’t see the swollen hands holding the phone taking the selfie or us-ie with kids or a pet, the swollen feet that are stood on, the shaky hands that hold the phone praying for a steady moment to capture quickly. Many of us can make “sick look sexy, silly and suave” because we are more than the illness, we are still who we are, we are simply fighting our way through every second of every minute of every hour of every day. You cannot see the moments a mother makes the decision if she will vacuum today or fold the laundry that has sat in the dryer for 3 days because little Jacob needs clean socks for school, she’s washed the load in the washer twice now to keep it from mildew because she cannot bend to unload it and her husband is away with work or she’s a military spouse hundreds of miles away from family without support and her husband is deployed. You don’t see the pain, you don’t feel the pain but please never speak as though it does not exist because you only see the strength.

I’ve mentioned “she” a lot through this because most who are affected by Chiari are women, there are boys and men affected but more often women. So please don’t think men aren’t suffering or that I am ignoring that fact that men have been diagnosed, became zipper heads and still in the ring for the full 12 rounds.

Help us Conquer Chiari by learning about the illness, being supportive and making others aware as well as be a voice with us on research, prevention and a cure. For more information, visit the Conquer Chiari Foundation. If you are interested in joining us in the annual Conquer Chiari Walk Across America: http://www.conquerchiari.org/ccwaa/ccwaa-main.html (my host location is Forest City, NC keep in touch for update on that if interested.) Also check out the event listing page on Facebook CCWAA17 FC. Early Registration deadline is August 16th to register online on the Conquer Chiari website linked above. Donation requests of $25 to receive an official walk t-shirt. All donations go to the nonprofit organization formally known as C&S Foundation (Chiari & Syringomelia) for medical research, education and patient resources. 

Learn more about the CCRC (research center) here:

When Rape is Acceptable.

Tonight on FB I shared an image from a radio station of a girl in a very revealing dress going to prom. (Note- this actually hasn’t been confirmed as to if she is indeed a teen and going to prom in said revealing gown which I will post somewhere in this blog post.) During discussion amongst FB friends, two commenters expressed commentary on “that’s how you get raped” implying wearing revealing attire is asking for being raped. I for one take the matter of rape, discussion of rape, potential rape, victim shaming and blaming very seriously.
See, I have experienced sexual abuse and even in a relationship or marriage there is no excuse for being raped. Whatever any female decides to wear or “not wear” doesn’t grant any other human, male or female permission to violate her sexually or to be more truthful in my opinion… doesn’t give permission for men to be violated either- yes it happens. This is like saying, “well she shouldn’t have been passed out drunk and wearing a mini skirt…she was flirting with him all night, what did she expect wearing that and flirting?” Oh we’ve heard it all before, lets be real. What did she expect? She expected to be free in expressing herself, dressing herself or lack of dressing herself and still being respected as another human being and being safe in her world just as she is. She expected to be young, stupid and free. She expected to be able to seek attention and hear she is beautiful because perhaps there is a void that hasn’t been sown into, she expected to be sown into spiritually and mentally not physically with unwanted, unwarranted and uninvited intercourse violating her mind, spirit and body leaving wounds that perhaps will be more than on the façade of her physical being, deeper than the surface of her smile now broken inside, scars that her spirit will never fully be able to hide.
When Rape is Acceptable.

It’s not! In no situation is rape acceptable. It doesn’t matter if a female is in sweats, a moo moo, a dashiki, a sundress showing every banging-boom-bop-bow of her booty and breasts leaving nothing for your imaginations interests, there is no open invitation, no auto pilot, no pass go and drop your pants and in you go! Sir hell no! Women are raped in various attire and it doesn’t matter if her clothes are skin tight, baggy or whatever. We have to break that idea that “she asked for it!” No, she did NOT ask for it! Usually when young women show more skin, they are missing something more than confidence, its deep rooted and a dry, dark space that becomes hollow, shallow and cold but feels nonexistent when the attention sets in. Seeking attention isn’t a request for rape. Seeking love, having daddy issues, having low self esteem behind a beautiful face, being the unattractive girl who gets caught up with thinking a guy sincerely likes her, being handicapped and not understanding what is actually happening… none are a request for rape.
When Rape is Acceptable.
When we tell women, young girls and even boys that if a girl dresses like a THOT or a ho, a skank, a lush, a trick, a tramp, whatever it’s asking for rape, telling boys that it’s okay to take a part of a woman’s body and sowing a poisonous seed of bitterness and abuse that grows a lifetime of pain is not acceptable. We cannot tell our daughters they dare to have phases when they see reality TV where sexual context is implied on every popular network, we cannot tell them they deserve whatever comes to them if they borrow their besties clothes that are more revealing. Even small girls clothes now are smaller, shorter, tighter, lower cut, crop tops for toddlers and all.. would we say that a 3y/o asked for it because she was in a 2pc bathing suit? I think not and oh, let me guess… that’s different, it’s her parents fault for buying it? No! It’s the rapists fault! Why do we blame the victims and steer from the fact that a rapist is a predator that violated another human being??

We cannot give our sons the idea that if girls dress that way they are who to rape and it is okay, that is also telling him his actions have no consequence and a woman is beneath him to be used, abused and mistreated at his discretion. We need to consider a reflection as society what rape really is, its not “just sex, she probably is a ho anyway or she wasn’t a virgin so it doesn’t matter…” It DOES matter and no means no!
I am so thankful that I have married a man that even knowing our bodies are each others to share for our pleasure and spiritual connection, no still means no and he has always been respectful of that. I am thankful that is a lesson being taught to our children that no means no, do not take advantage of any situation and engage in sexual acts that are abusive and never allow anyone to do anything to you as a girl that makes you feel remotely uncomfortable, as there are consequences. I am thankful that through past sexual abuse, I survived and today I know “When Rape is Acceptable”… in no circumstances is rape acceptable, no dress or dressing less is relevant.
The image from the discussion-

Now to just clarify because somebody is always trying to come for me when I haven’t sent for them or went for them….In no way am I condoning a teenager wearing this dress, as I find it unacceptable myself personally. I am simply stating regardless of what she is wearing or not wearing, rape shouldn’t be promoted as if she were to be it’s deserving. For all we really know, this is a grown woman going out on a date, event or the town. We have many who glorify Hollywood for “slaying” in similar attire but we are quick to go all the way in when our youth want to follow suit. Maybe we need to put more attention and pressure on their “role models” and idols they’re mimicking and looking to for fashion ideas and trends to better represent what we want them to become product of. Let’s face it, we’ve all followed fashion from Hollywood, MC Hammer pants, TLC’s Left Eye hair cuts, Aaliyah wrap hairstyle swooped over the eye and overalls, SWV block colors or camouflage prints, baggy bottoms and crop tops, wife beater tank tops and pleather pants, guys with high top fades, AI cornrows, take it back to the mall bangs like on every 80s-90s sitcom, attempts to replicate the “Clueless” classic schoolgirl look, daisy dukes with Reebok sneakers and puff ball socks, belly button rings, big box braids (patra) like Janet Jackson, nose piercings like Mary J. Blige until the mid 90’s when the tongue piercing trend came through like a hurricane, Christina Aguilara had all the white girls doing block hair color and under layer color wearing midriff tops and getting belly button piercings on spring break. We did it in the 80’s and 90’s only now there’s a new level of devils and even more dangers accessible than when we were younger. The most internet we had was at school and limited unless you had lovely dial-up but that’s a whole other blog post in itself. We have to be vigilant over our youth and what idea’s we give them in our conversation, lessons and trends. In anything, at no point is rape acceptable regardless of trends current or years passed. Oh, and for a refresher let’s look at just a little on recent years past.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Church Folks"

Now, lets be clear off the bat, this isn’t a publication written to convey any feelings of discord yet to grant much clarification as to the difference between “Church folks” and “Christians”. A good friend of mine, also a sister in Christ (Kingdom Kids) posted a status on Facebook about “church folk” and from some of the comments and one in particular from our former Co-Pastor, there’s obviously much confusion on the term “Church folk” and the idea that it applies to “ALL” church goers when in fact, it does not.

Church folk get on the nerves of every last genuinely struggling, wanna do right, live right, striving to find the light “babe in Christ” who is “new” or climbing higher in some or all areas each day the best they know how. These are the people who will utilize every opportunity to tear down another member meanwhile the “Christians” are striving to uplift everyone they meet.  
 
 

Church folk pretend to be happy when you get that new car you’ve worked for all year long, pulling extra shifts and attempt to count up how you got that, how much is it running you and talk about why they wouldn’t have it or it’s no good when Christians will genuinely be happy and show support, celebrating your success, will pray covering your blessings and encourage you to go on to even bigger and better things!

Church folk are full of criticism and can find every mistake about you but paint a façade that they’re living centered in the path of righteousness when truthfully they’re in a polar opposite lifestyle. Christians will give correction, but ALWAYS in LOVE. You will feel the difference in how and when it’s said or done to you. Church folk will attempt to belittle you in front of others and a Christian will discuss any issue with you in private or with a mediator not only telling you your wrongs but encouraging you in areas that have shown growth.

Church folk give and do generous acts, large amounts in offering and so on just to brag about it, only in times where recognition will be given. Christians will give whatever they have no matter how much cheerfully and expect nothing but glory be given to God.

Church folk will fret about what to wear to church, what somebody else wore to church, have to gain attention for their expensive attire and make it known the labels, brands and prices while Christians could not care less about natural garments but ensuring that they themselves and their sisters and brothers in Christ will be wearing those white robes on the other side, equipped with the full armor of God, standing firm with a breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation, walking in shoes of preparation of the gospel, and wrapped in truth….. NOT if you’re in Gucci or Coogi or Faded Glory, the Christians want to help change your story!

Church folk have a need to be seen doing good, acting good, giving good while Christians will simply just BE as GOOD as they can by faith.

Church folk will come and see you when you are sick, have a time of bereavement, help you in a struggle or unforeseen situation just to talk about what they HAD to do for you. Christians will go above and beyond to help you and never mention a word of it because they know that’s what God wants and what God would do. Christians will come cook for you, bring food, clean your house, have your children, dog, cat, and all while you’re in the hospital and never speak a word of their works.

Church folks will SAY they love everybody but SHOW love to only those who fit their agenda or beneficial to them. Christians actually SHOW love to everybody and have no discrimination to what or whom.

Church folks will use their positions and contributions to the church to control who does what and where in other areas instead of using their positions and contributions to be of help to those struggling in salvation. Church folk will have people feeling cast out and pushed aside, soon back out in the parish and not the pews for speaking from what they want and not what God wants. Church folk have no solutions for growth and healing but have plenty of salt to throw on the wounded.

Church folk will run and report to the pastoral leaders on what they saw other members do but will not report about their adulterous, fornicating, thieving, lying, deceitful or whatever behavior. A Christian will notice or hear something and stop the messenger dead in their tracks and let them know we are not tearing down sister/brother whoever but we are going to counsel and find resources to help lift them up, they’ll find a solution to help that person that might be off track or trying to find their way not push them down further or run all of their transgressions across the membership roll.

These are simply a few examples on the difference between “Church Folk” and “Christians” with a bit of detail. So many wonder why so many have left the churches and aren’t going back, consider maybe it was something you or your leadership has done that pushed them away. If people keep going to the well and as soon as the water gets good, the hydration of the soul is on and then the bottom falls out of their bucket and everyone else at the well walks off and leaves them standing…. maybe that’s why. So many church leaders will love you to life until you fall, slip, stumble or are no longer a benefit to them or they cannot control you. There are Church folk in leadership positions, members too and tearing down the kingdom. A lot of this is why I, myself left our last church and will not go to particular ones here. I am certain it’s not just in this area because I discuss with many people in fellowship who do not attend church, want to, used to but refuse to because nobody wants to go to church to be hurt worse than they are in the street.

This isn’t any “Shade” or throwing stones to anybody but use your discernment to hear from God and pray for clarity on some things. Tell nobody your prayers because sometimes who you tell is who doesn’t need to know and will cover the dirt on their hands.

Thank you for reading and This has been A Mel’O Theory.

Back the Bus.

Early on the morning of March 27, 2017 one family faced a horrific tragedy, an entire community feeling affect, a student body of a local high school mourning and some of those students on a bus traveling to school witnessed a careless act leading to death of a friend, a neighbor, a classmate.
From this horrific event, our community is outraged and rightfully so. Even more so, we are uniting and standing together to ensure there will not be a repeat of tragedy for any child or family.

Many mornings and afternoons people across the county have witnessed vehicles not stopping for school busses that are at a complete stop, sign out, lights on, all indicating that there is a child loading or being dropped off at their neighborhood stop point. NC G.S. 20-217 (a) states,

§ 20-217.  Motor vehicles to stop for properly marked and designated school buses in certain instances; evidence of identity of driver.
(a)        When a school bus is displaying its mechanical stop signal or flashing red lights and the bus is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging passengers, the driver of any other vehicle that approaches the school bus from any direction on the same street, highway, or public vehicular area shall bring that other vehicle to a full stop and shall remain stopped. The driver of the other vehicle shall not proceed to move, pass, or attempt to pass the school bus until after the mechanical stop signal has been withdrawn, the flashing red stoplights have been turned off, and the bus has started to move.”
The first issue in this case is this very law is discussed and required to answer questions on, (or was before in some form) is on the NC drivers license test and in other states as well. This is a general requirement in every state. In NC, BOTH DIRECTIONS OF TRAFFIC MUST STOP FOR A STOPPED SCHOOL BUS:
1. On a two lane road;
2. On a two lane road with a center turn lane; and
3. On a four lane road without a median.
ONLY TRAFFIC FOLLOWING THE BUS STOPS:
1. Divided highway with 4 lanes or more with median separation; and

2. Roadway of four lanes or more with center turning lane.

To say it briefly, if you are on a 2-lane and a bus stops, blinking lights on, puts out a stop sign, STOP!! There’s no yield, there’s no hurry up and go, there’s no go slow past the bus! STOP! STOP! STOP! It is not relevant to what side of traffic you are on, you have to stop. If you are on a 4-lane and BEHIND the bus, you have to stop regardless of whether there’s a median or turn lane when the lights on the bus come on, the stop sign comes out and the bus is stopped. However, when on a 4-lane road in the opposite direction of the bus, you only stop IF there is no median or turn lane. (RRouseLaw.com)

If you need a visual, the graphic above hopefully can help you gain a better understanding and remember this very important information that can save lives, protect drivers from making life changing errors. For more information visit the North Carolina School Bus Safety Website.
So, what can we do from here to better warn, alert and give drivers a better notion to STOP and when? I know, some of you- like myself, will say, “It’s a huge, yellow bus with lights blinking and a stop sign and we’ve only learned to stop for busses practically our whole lives considering the majority of us have rode one at some point in life.” But, we obviously have a problem now even with this experience, people are passing busses that are stopped in oncoming lanes loading or dropping children off. Moving on, 5 N.C. districts were given stop sign cameras to test out from an article on SchoolbusFleet.com.
Who can we contact/call?
N.C. Senate
300 N. Salisbury Street, Room 300-B
Raleigh, NC 27603-5925
(919) 715-3034
Harry.Brown@ncleg.net

If we cannot obtain results by utilizing political points of contact, he owns a car dealership.

2223 N. Marine Blvd., Jacksonville, NC 28546

Phone 910-347-3777

2. NC House Committee on Transportation meets on Tuesday’s. “Click” here for the list of members.

3. Onslow Co. DOT “Click” highlighted area for a comment box. General questions are answered Monday-Friday 8a-5p. Call Customer Service office at (919) 715-7000.
4. Onslow Co Purchasing Department
234 NW Corridor Boulevard
Jacksonville, NC 28540

 

Phone: 910-455-1750

 

Fax: 910-455-3024
This department is responsible for purchasing within ANY department. So, I feel it’d be worth a shot to contact (which I plan to do myself also but there’s power in numbers) expressing the need for Stop Sign Cameras for our buses.
5. Board of Commissioners:

         Jack Bright, Chairman

         Royce Bennett, Vice Chairman
         Paul Buchanan, Commissioner
         Robin Knapp, Commissioner
         Mark Price, Commissioner

6. Section Chief, Transportation Services
N.C. Department of Public Instruction
6319 Mall Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-6319

Phone: 919-807-3579
Fax: 919-807-3578
email: Kevin.Harrison@dpi.c.gov

Former Section Chief Derek Graham retired. When the cuts in the bill proposal that would hurt bus funding came up just a few years back, he said in an article with WRAL, ““We’re well aware of some of the differences that take place across the state. This bill would require that we develop a policy that would need to include such things for part inventory,” says Derek Graham, Section Chief, Transportation Services at the Department of Public Instruction.” Now Kevin is his replacement and should be of service in this area.

Local leaders reach to state leaders, state to obtain the federal help as needed if needed. It’s our duty to be heard in this in as many ears as possible.
As I find more information, I receive responses from offices and leaders, I will share that via a blog post or Facebook post on my blog page A Mel’O Theory.

Disclaimer
I’m an independent writer (blogger) who writes on various topics as I wish to, whether it be product reviews, community or national issues, hot topics, current events or simply subjects I may be passionate about. The above written context includes information I have researched on my own, websites and sources included with highlighted links that will route you to the original source to obtain a deeper understanding of the information I likely have paraphrased yet not altered the intent of the context conveyed. I am not legally responsible for any individual who may read this or articles mentioned and fail to comply with any NC or other state driving laws and encourage each person to be certain in understanding and knowledge of bus and all other laws per state you are driving in as you do so. I am not receiving any financial support or monetary gain by providing this information herein this blog posting nor am I affiliated with, employed by or a member of any organization listed in this publication.

#BackTheBus -MelOTheory

 

"Obama-Phone Home"

After repeatedly seeing this image circulating on social media, I’m beyond-supercalifragilisticexpialidocious- tired of utterly ridiculous, misinformed, under-educated, unknowledgeable idea and phrase/reference “OBAMA PHONES”.  I urge you to do a little research “FCC lifeline assistance program” It was enacted in the 80’s under Reagan. Remember him??!! Yes, the first celebrity gone White House but at least he was not selected by Russians for America but anyway—- Which during that timeframe, said program was for landlines and called “Life Line Assistance Program”. In 1996, Bill Clinton (Yeah first leader of the birthing of Side chicks) signed “Telecommunications Act” which allowed low income citizens a choice between home phones and cell phones. In 2008, (year Obama was elected the first time) months prior to the election the cell program when into hyper drive because of lower costs.
And hate to burst your bubble (BOOM- POP-POW) our tax dollars directly are not funding this program, not that good old FICA we hate to see on our deductions. Look at your phone bill it’s called a “Universal service fee”. Which I don’t paying to help those less fortunate then me, considering I pay Uncle Sam and nem and they don’t do as much as they can or should! I know a lot of senior citizens who benefit from this program, my aunt who is an amputee is one. Also, You know the ones you see at your local pharmacy having to pay hundreds of $$$ every month for the meds, in wheelchairs, walkers, the ones with oxygen tanks etc., yes them!
You won’t get a argument from me that the welfare system is broken but kill the noise about “Obama phones” already!! He didn’t create this, it was an evolution to modern times!!! OH AND PLEASE WAIT A MINUTE– these are not IPhones, the new galaxy 7, the droid or whatever the latest greatest is— ALL of the people that I know that have them they are flip phones or a little tiny square old nokia style phone with 250 minutes. Here’s one to think about start paying working people a “living wage” In the 90s my first job (one anyway)  paid me about $14-17 per hour depending on unit cleaning, waiting tables on a resort I made $5.13+tips, learning while working as a pharmacy tech I made a little over $8 per hr milk was $1 a gallon bread was $.50 a loaf eggs were under $1 and we could fill a gas tank for $10!! Today some cleaning jobs pay $10 and under an hour, waitresses make $2.13+ tips an hour and some pharmacy techs still make the same! Notice I don’t mention benefits??? I don’t because I wasn’t offered any benefits because they were part time jobs like many today are forced to work several to survive!
People say go to college and better yourself and well I’ve done that several times for various reasons and studies, now I have student loan debt up to my neck and due to go back to school this spring! And nobody has given me a welfare check or checkup to lift me out of this mess! Back when I was younger and adults went to college total tuition for what we pay today for a few credit hours!
We have become a country of greed, prejudice assumptions and by far not for the majority of the populations needs!
And then we have those who think Social Security a entitlement program–fine give me all the money you have taken from me back and invest it in my own retirement plan. If I had to get disability now, retired because of it now- (as I technically could due to scoliosis alone) I would not draw what I’ve paid in and I’ve worked since I was 14.5 years old, even being older I couldn’t get back what I have paid in. And to those who think that “Trickle down economics” is the answer wake up, wake up, wake up- it ain’t the first of the month party! Presidents Hoover, Reagan and Bush tried it and the results were? Anyone Anyone. I’ll wait! The hole has been dug so deep, it’s simply a mass grave and that is for all of us to get in it if we are not willing to demand our futures and plan otherwise accordingly.
The main and only issue that so many of you have is the name that was attached to the benefit is “Obama Phone”. If they’d put any other name and said Republicans did it, no problem. It’s obviously that because we only heard the rage when his name was attached when we’ve been paying for this for years!