Monthly Archives: April 2013

Water Warrior

Drop of water

By Vicki Hughes      Posted April 22, 2013

Chelsey has been working non-stop for a solid month to make our annual Earth Month charity event at The Fairhope Salon & Spa a big hit. We’re co-hosting a Water Warriors Crawfish Boil at Fairhope Brewing Company, with live music, a cornhole tournament, a bachelor auction and a drawing for a complete spa day. It has been quite a project.

The stories she has heard in the years she has worked for Aveda have imparted a heartfelt calling into her. Her passion is to plan ongoing events for clean water projects, including but not limited to this year’s beneficiary, Gulf Restoration Network. She wants to work with other groups such as Wine to Water, and Global Green Grants. If you have never heard Doc Hendley’s story about Wine to Water, you need to. We had the honor of hearing him speak at Serious Business in New Orleans in January, and it was life changing. I will never look at a glass of clean water the same way again.

When your children really get on fire about things, it makes an impact. Watching her immerse herself in this passion, self-teaching herself about building websites, obtaining grants, the ins and outs of non-profits and fundraising, and event planning, I realize how driven and amazing she is. I see a lot of me in her, but I also see lots of her, in her own right, too. Your kids may be influenced by you, but the come pre-wired too.

From me she got that impulsive, “let’s do it” thinking, that is full of ideas, and a little light on thinking through how much actual time and work each idea requires. We both secretly believe Smurfs will show up and make lots of stuff happen, and then we go out and recruit lots of Smurfs to help us when we start to panic. Let me say, thank God for all of our Smurfy friends!

She’s persuasive. We can both move people to action when we talk about ideas we’re passionate about. We share our excitement easily, frequently and boldly. If you don’t want to know what we’ve been up to lately, you best not ask.

She loves anything social, by nature. A party, an event, some music, anything that sounds fun. She was the kid who hated bedtime because she was afraid she’d miss something good. If we put her to bed, and she heard John and I laughing in the other room, she’d holler, “No fair having fun without me!”

She is tenacious when she gets an idea into her head, and as John would say, once she gets a bug up her butt about something, it’s all or nothing.

She is constantly learning, moving, and changing. Interestingly, she is a Pisces, a water sign. She is just like water: Beautiful, powerful, persistent, constantly changing, unpredictable, life giving, and will move anything that gets in her way. I think it’s destiny that her passion is to provide clean water for people who need it most. I for one, know better than to get in her way.

What are you passionate about?

© Vicki Hughes 2013



By Vicki Hughes   Posted April 17, 2013

Yesterday was tragic in Boston. I don’t watch the news, and the events from yesterday remind me once again why I opted out years ago. But we live in a very media connected world, and there was no “not knowing.”

My newsfeed on Facebook and Twitter were covered up with details, and the facts that got through to me compelled me to reach out to a dear, fitness freak friend in Boston, just to make sure he was alive and well. When things like this happen, we have to do a quick inventory on our dear ones to make sure they are safe, and well.

For some who checked on their loved ones yesterday, it was devastating news. It was not a sigh of relief. It was the impossible, implausible, unfathomable, no.

My heart is broken, and my prayers for them all continue. But I continue to guard my heart and my mind. I leave the television off. I turn away when I see a public broadcast replaying the footage. I remind myself that horrible things happen all over this planet, every single day. If I spend my time, my limited, precious, finite time, focused on the atrocities, the terrible, the unfair and the disturbing, it will be at the expense of my capacity to believe, hope, rejoice, inspire, create and celebrate.

Those who have been lost, and damaged, and devastated, I choose to honor by living, by doing those very things that they will not be able to do, and helping other people really live too. Because time flies. Even if we die at 110 with our boots on, in our own bed, with our loved ones gathered around us, it’s still a fast 110 years. We better get crackin’ if we want to enjoy those individual moments that are making up our life, right now.

I can’t change the fact that crazy people will continue to do crazy things. I can’t even get a guarantee of tomorrow’s weather forecast, so I can’t waste my precious time obsessing about it. The clock is ticking for all of us.

As for me, I give myself permission to remain optimistic, to recognize everything that also went well yesterday, and to feel glad to be here, in spite of the sad fact that many are not. I do those who have gone on no service by getting lost in the maze of all that is wrong in this world.

Light will always overcome darkness, but darkness is still a factor. All we can do is shine on it.

© Vicki Hughes 2013

Aunt Erma Would Be Proud


By Vicki Hughes  Posted April 16, 2013

In case it isn’t obvious, I adore Erma Bombeck. I found her when I was a twenty-something young mother of a rambunctious toddler, and her wit was my cup of tea. I related to her lack of enthusiasm for housework, the mind numbing redundancy of laundry, and her secret fears that true self actualization might be possible with the right deodorant or the next self help book, but that I might be reading the wrong one, or slathering my pits with the wrong speed stick.

Erma gave me hope that an ordinary wife and mother could build a real writing career, and express herself with self deprecating humor and a little real, honest look at how life really is.

I won a little online writing contest with Midlife Collage this past week. And I have to give Aunt Erma a little nod, because she gave me hope that everyone starts somewhere, and sometimes it’s a very unglamorous place. Here’s to progress, and going for it, and for the people who actually read what I write. You have made my day, possibly my year.


© Vicki Hughes 2013

The Dark Side of Southern Life


By Vicki Hughes     Posted April 11, 2013

Living in the deep south, we are constantly enjoying a long list of perks, that people who visit from elsewhere are quick to notice. Fine weather, friendly people, food so good that it makes you want to slap someone, good manners, azaleas, and the inherent right to fry absolutely anything without anyone raising an eyebrow.

But there is a dark side.

Nobody discusses it when you first arrive, because frankly, it’s bad manners to make disagreeable conversation before the mint juleps kick in. However, I’ve been here long enough to be able to speak as a transplanted Southerner. I may not have an actual accent, but I do say y’all, and bless your heart, and I’m a regular at the Piggly Wiggly. In spite of my Southern California roots, the past twenty-five years of living in Dixie have qualified me to speak with some actual knowledge of the southern life.

Here is what they don’t tell you upon arrival through Customs: Roaches.

The south is a roach fest. For those of you in Southern California, this does not mean we have an assortment of great weed to choose from. That’s in Oregon. The south has actual cockroaches. Lawd have mercy! That word is so rude, it hurts my eyes to look at it.

A few nights ago I went to the bathroom to take out my contacts, and when I pulled open the drawer, I discovered a two and a half inch long roach, doing a Fandango with my toothbrush. I screeched, “John! Hurry! There’s a roach, and he’s giant, and he’s with my toothbrush!” Here is a fact of marriage that I will pass along to all you newbies. When you want your spouse to move quickly, with ninja skills, they will generally come at the pace of a sedated snail and make you want to punch kittens. Just know it’s going to happen, and you can cross it off your list of things that will surprise you.

He moseyed into the bathroom (I’m starting to believe that when he hears my bug-scream, he goes extra slow in hopes that it will scurry away before he arrives.) He grabbed like, three squares of toilet paper, and I was thinking, “This guy is not taking me seriously, he needs a HazMat suit and  a flamethrower, not three squares of Charmin.”

I commenced hopping on one foot, issuing orders like a Mob boss. “Kill it! Kill it! Dammit, man, what are you waiting for? KILL!!!!”

He made a few toilet papery jabs that made everything in the drawer jump, and then the roach escaped through the back of the drawer. Thus began my dirty looks, stewing and decrees that it was time for The Enforcer. I told John that he needed to do what had to be done, while I went to shop for toothbrushes.

This is a man who knows how I feel about roaches. Back in the eighties, when we lived in Atlanta, I was eight months pregnant, lying in bed, semi-peacefully, when a gigantic roach fell out of the a/c vent over our bed and landed, splat on my bare thigh. What ensued is what I imagine would happen if a psychotic walrus got tangled in a clothes line hanging with sheets and blankets. John was launched off the bed in my heroic attempts to remove all the bedclothes in one fluid motion, like those guys who pull a tablecloth out from under a fully set table.

It ended up with a familiar scene. An escaped felon roach, with me highly pissed off, issuing death threats and extermination orders. We were so poor back then that we frequently had to make those awkward choices at the grocery store checkout: Beer or toilet paper? But that day, budgets were not even a consideration. I didn’t care if it meant PBJ’s for a month. I declared, “We are calling an actual Bug Man. Today. I don’t care what it costs, it’s not up for discussion. Make it happen.”

Therefore John took my toothbrush moment to heart, and he brought in The Enforcer. For you non-southerners, this is not a guy named Guido in a bad suit. It’s a fine white powder with boric acid which creates a barrier that most roaches won’t cross, except for those on suicide missions, but that’s a story for another day. After you live here a while, and you discover that the chemicals the Bug Man uses are the reason you never see the same Bug Man twice, so you have to make smarter choices.

My greatest concern with putting down the line of enforcement, so to speak, is that I realize that somewhere in my house, there will be a few roaches, already inside the perimeter, who are now trapped inside the line. I call them Desperados. They can’t crawl back to Hell, from whence they came, so they are forced to stay inside, with me, until they have the bad fortune to expose themselves.

This morning, just as I poured my coffee, I saw the skittering out of the corner of my eye. Once these foul creatures come in contact with The Enforcer, it begins to effect them. They lose speed, and they scurry along like they’re looking for their car keys that they dropped.

These slower roaches are a good thing, because it allows me to do my part, of keeping an eye on them, while I bellow for backup. “John! Giant roach! Hurry! Reba has him cornered.” Momma’s dog was nosing the little creep, while John did his bug killing, death march to my side. “Where is the little bastard?”

I pointed to the corner where the roach was being examined by the dog. John took the paper towel he was holding, and gingerly bent over to go for the kill. Except his back has been out for a week. I forgot that. It looked sort of like an early morning exercise show for guys in their fifties, working on their low lunges, awkwardly. We both heard, crunch, and in unison, we made our that’s-disgusting-face. I was relieved to know he’d ended that bug, when he pulled back his hand, and it hopped out, and made a run for cover. John made three valiant attempts, from his now sprawled out stance, all to no avail. It crawled behind the armoire, injured, but alive, and is probably blogging right now about it’s near death experience.

John looked up at me, with regret in his eyes. In our family, we have a hard and fast rule we have learned from watching way too many revenge themed movies. If you get the chance to pull the trigger, do it. Never let your injured enemy live.” I rolled my eyes. “Well, at least he’s injured. We did hear the crunch.” John said, “Yeah, but I’m not sure if that was him, or my back.”

© Vicki Hughes 2013

Emergency Espresso


By Vicki Hughes  Posted April 8, 2013

All last week I was forced to wake up early. Work has been crazy, and I’ve been there to open, which means getting up earlier than I am made for. Prior to ten a.m. I’m really not hearing what people say, I just nod my head a lot. I try to avoid serious responsibilities until my brain cells are truly awake.

My morning routine is very simple and predictable. Wake up, scowl, find my glasses, find my robe, go to the kitchen and pour a cup of Joe, then kick the dog out of my chair, where he has once again turned the little rosebud quilt into a dog nest, sit down, check Facebook, grab my journal, and write. I find that a few minutes on Facebook clears my cobwebby head just a little. Sleep has a way of undoing all of my cognitive skills.

Pre-dawn, Friday morning, I came out to get my coffee, and realized there wasn’t a leftover cup sitting there waiting to be zapped in the microwave, so I would be forced to make a new pot. As I reached for the coffee canister, it felt light. I shook it momentarily, and cautiously opened the lid. Peering in, I stood there staring at the half a teaspoon of coffee sprinkled in the bottom of the canister. And I just kept staring at it.

I thought, “This can’t be right. There should be stuff in here. The stuff I want. Where’s my stuff?!” Then I convinced myself to stop freaking out. I looked in the cabinet above the coffee maker, thinking, surely we have more in reserve. No time to panic.

There was no coffee in the cabinet. None. Nada. Someone had used the last of the coffee and said diddly squat about this very important fact. Suddenly I was rummaging through the cabinet like a black bear at a Yosemite picnic, lifting things quizzically, and tossing them aside, shaking jars and grunting in disapproval. I was in such a state, I briefly considered some Chai Tea. CHAI TEA in place of coffee!?

No. Just, no.

And then I saw it. Emergency espresso.

If it had been behind glass, I’d have happily taken a hammer to it, and dealt with the glass shards later. I have no recollection of where this can of espresso came from, but I was thankful just knowing that it was not decaf, and it was a fine dust of actual coffee beans that could serve as a suitable substitute. I briefly considered that it might render me incapable of closing my eyes again till June, but that’s okay. Beggars can’t be choosers. Long story short, I got my much needed caffeine. I’m not entirely sure if that actually was espresso, because it tasted sort of like it had been filtered through cardboard in the Soviet Union. You do what you have to do.

I’ve discovered a few substitutions over the years that are never a good idea.

Liquid dish soap for dishwasher detergent is a definite no-no. Sadly, one time doing this was not sufficient to prevent me from doing it again, many years later. We were probably out of coffee when it happened the second time. Learn from my mistakes, people. Unless you want to have a bubble rave in your kitchen, liquid dish soap should be kept far, far away from the dishwasher.

Because genetics is funny stuff, and mistakes may in fact be genetic, an eight year old Chelsey once tried using the aforementioned liquid dish soap to mop our kitchen floor. She’d seen one of those commercials where the lady squirts the Mop & Glo all over the floor, and creates a shiny sparkling kitchen floor. That’s the day she learned the difference between Dawn and Mop & Glo. We both learned how many hours it takes to get 3/4 of a cup of liquid dish soap off of linoleum, but we also learned how to convert your kitchen into a skating rink in under ninety seconds. I should post that tip on Pinterest.

Also, paper napkins should never be used in place of paper towels to pat dry chicken breasts. Ever. Unless you were planning to use napkin confetti to bread your chicken, in which case, don’t let me stop you. Carry on!

What substitutions have you discovered were just an all around bad idea?

© Vicki Hughes 2013



Why We Only Have One Child


By Vicki Hughes    Posted April 3, 2013

When you choose to be a one child family, you are going to have to explain yourself. Probably not as much as you would have to explain being a no-child family, but still, it comes up.

For those of us who do not live in China, a one child policy seems to raise eyebrows. People with lots of kids seem especially suspicious. A friend with four kids once asked John, “How come you only have one kid, and I had to have four?” Without missing a beat he replied, “Because we’re smart.”

Actually, if I had left it up to John we would have several cats, no dogs, and we would have used our disposable income to travel the world going to great surfing destinations, giving him drag racing lessons, and buying me ice skater outfits, which I assure you I would NOT wear, instead of buying braces for perfectly good teeth, and buying sushi for hoards of Chelsey’s teenaged friends, and forcing her to take family vacations that were lame, and not up to her thirteen year old standards.

Obviously, I did not leave it up to him. Instead, I contracted Baby Fever, from sniffing my friend Judy’s eighteen month old, and letting the little rat wrap her chubby fingers around my pinkie, begging me to dip the “fwench fwy” in the ketchup again. My biological clock went into overdrive, and all John’s objections to reproducing were out the window. He is the oldest of four, and I have no siblings. He knew more about the implications than I did.

To sway him, I used a similar approach I’d used with great success, to get puppies and kittens as a child. “You will never even know it’s here, I will feed it, and walk it, and I will love you forever….pleeeeease??” He said if I would shut up about it, and move out from between him and TV while The Winston Cup was on, we could get one. I thought he sounded a little stingy, but I figured we would jump off that bridge when we came to it.

Except I lied. He soon knew she was here, he was forced into feeding, and walking her, and quite a bit of wiping as well. I tried to keep him distracted with good food, batting my eyelashes, and making sure he got to watch the women’s ice skating during the winter Olympics. It’s called negotiating, people.

Having learned nothing from all those puppies and kittens, I was strangely shocked, and got really annoyed when she interfered with my sleep, and with all the poop I was expected to clean up. I discovered this was way more of a commitment than I’d realized. I’m flighty that way. Thankfully, John is a commitment kind of guy.

He was simply made to be Chelsey’s Dad. I can tell you with all sincerity, no other man on this planet could have done a better job. They “get” each other in their own eclectic way, seemingly passing cosmic notes, and nodding at each other like spies in the park. He voluntarily took the reins on many occasions, back before she morphed into the lovely adult I completely enjoy today, and kept me from selling her to the Professional Eye Rolling Association, to earn her own sushi money as their mascot.

Eventually, after I realized what I’d signed us up for, I grudgingly admitted, he was right, one was enough.

© Vicki Hughes 2013


It’s Just A Feeling That I Had


By Vicki Hughes     Posted April 1, 2013

I heard a Maroon 5 song on the radio with the lyrics, “It’s just a feeling that I had.” It made me think that for most of us, there’s no such things as “just” a feeling, because our feelings are the primary catalyst for our actions, and emotions move us.

There’s a difference between “my feelings” as in, “You hurt my feelings,” and having a feeling, such as a leading, or an implication or a feeling in our guts. But I’m about to tell you something you may not like to hear: I don’t believe anyone has the power to hurt my feelings without my cooperation.

Let me explain. People do things, and then I get to make decisions about what I say to myself about the things they do. That conversation will determine if my feelings are hurt or not. That decision is mine to make.

If it’s an unkind thing someone has done or a thoughtless thing, or a rude thing, one of the smartest things I can say to myself is, “This isn’t about me.” Their actions are about them. It set me free from a lot of unhappiness when I realized that other people would likely be acting the way they act no matter who was standing in my shoes. If it’s not about me, why would I want to let it hurt my feelings? People spend so little time thinking about me it’s stunning! They have a lot of other stuff going on, and I’m a footnote, at best, ninety-nine percent of the time. The other one percent, if they really are thinking about me, they are either my biggest fan or a complete idiot, so there’s no point getting my panties in a wad either way.

You could make a part time career out of being offended just by judging all the things other people do and say. I don’t recommend this career path, but lots of people seem to be on it. Here is the best thing I ever learned about judgement, from Jim Richard’s book, How To Stop The Pain: To judge something is to presume to know why someone has done or said something, and then to attach a motive to it.

“He did that because he thinks I’m stupid.”

“She said that to make me look bad.”

“He left me out to make a point.”

But here’s the rub. Maybe they did, and maybe they didn’t, but you really don’t know why. And if your believing you know people’s secret motives makes you feel like crap, that’s your decision.

Maybe they don’t think you’re stupid, and they just had to pee really bad, and felt rushed, so they completed the task quickly, with no intention of implying your inability to do it yourself. Maybe their comments got taken out of context, and didn’t have anything to do with you. Maybe you didn’t get invited because, oh, I don’t know, they forgot. Have you ever forgotten anything?

Ultimately, we get to decide, and place the emphasis and meaning on the events that play out for us. That is extremely good news. We get to write our own story. It can be, “People like me, I’m fun, life is good, and I’m glad I’m here,” or it can be, “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I’m gonna go eat worms.”

© Vicki Hughes 2013