Messy in Fabulous Shoes

Messy in Fabulous Shoes

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Comfort & Joy

The holidays are an emotional time - filled with highs and lows. One of my gal pals had a dream fulfilled Christmas morning while another had her heart broken. I have cried, laughed, gotten mad, felt satisfied... And this morning, something different. Just like the song says, I felt comfort and joy.

Not unlike the feeling when you get a swanky new pair of sneakers or platform knee-high boots. They bring a smile to your face and your feet because they look good and feel good.

See, this morning, I saw my future. I mean really saw it with clarity and a pure heart. And it is bright. So bright that it sometimes hurts my eyes from the beauty of it all. And I trust in that vision.

If you open your heart, you can sometimes receive gifts you weren't expecting. And that happened to me... a gift that wasn't just for my feet. It was for my heart and my soul. And that is my New Year's wish for you. I wish you comfort & joy in 2012.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Letter to my Grandparents

Dear Grandaddy and Joan,

I couldn’t let this Christmas pass without telling you how blessed I feel to have you in my life. What an amazing gift to have been loved by not one, but five, grandparents in my lifetime.

As you know, the past year has been one of change and growth for me. I couldn’t have gotten through it without the support and generosity of my family. And you are both at the forefront of that. Thank you so much for giving me the car. You not only made it easier for me to sleep at night, but Stella & Sophie can actually get in and out without a boost!

It is an awesome feeling to be a granddaughter. To know that two people love you no matter what. That they are interested in who you are and what you do. I was so proud to show you both off at my conference this year… and my friends are still talking about you and wishing you well!

So this year I wanted to give you a little something extra. To remind you that I thank God everyday for making us a family.

I hope you enjoy much health and happiness in 2012. And here is to celebrating many more special times together.

All my love,


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Blessings

Christmas was different last year. I went to church by myself and had my realization about families. I went back to my parents' house for Christmas dinner for the first time in years (as they came to mine when I was married because of the chef who lived with me...) It was a bittersweet time.

This year is no less bittersweet. I have too many blessings to count. Not the least of which is being loved and seeing how bright the future is. But it is hard to be separated from loved ones. Even those you don't feel you know anymore.

But Santa has been beyond good to me. In fact, I don't think I deserve everything he brought me. But I am grateful. The worst is behind me now. I need to focus on the good and try not to belabor the hard times. As I've mentioned before, I am a work in progress, but I am going to try.

So on this Christmas Eve, as I have a glass of wine in front of my tree with my pups, I will be grateful for all that I have lost, found and learned in 2011. Tomorrow, I will cook my first Christmas dinner for my parents and grandparents and hope it is scrumptious. And each day this holiday season and beyond, I will wish you health and happiness and pray for the same.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Year in Review

This year I lost:
  • An Uncle and a Great-Aunt to death
  • Another Aunt to her choice
  • 50 pairs of shoes
  • My nerve at golf
  • My married name
This year I found:
  • Perspective
  • Hope
  • 8 unwanted pounds
  • My domestic side
  • My creative side
  • A renewed identity
  • A safe place
This year I learned:
  • I may not understand people's choices but I have to respect them.
  • I am not alone.
  • Not always knowing the answer has to be OK sometimes.
  • I can trust.
  • You can't always gain closure.
I wonder what I will lose, find and learn in 2012...

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's In The Bag

As a professional traveler, I am constantly searching for the perfect suitcase, laptop bag, etc. It is a never ending quest. I have yet to find a bag that can fit my laptop, books, magazines, iTouch, wallet, toiletries, etc. that doesn't look and feel like a complete mess. Either they don't have enough pockets or don't have the right pockets. The bag isn't strong enough or is too bulky. Something so important in my daily life should not be so difficult to find, right?

So I'm hoping this great tote I found on will be the answer. If it is, I will promote them and it in airports everywhere. So cross your fingers for me, ok?

And if you are wondering how often I travel, a couple of weeks ago my mother informed me that she and my dad are claiming Stella and Sophie on their tax returns as dependants. It seems they had them for 120 nights in 2011. Sounds like I should be considering a very specific New Year's resolution, don't you think?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

When I was in NYC with some good friends this summer, the conversation suddenly stopped as I was telling a story over dinner. You have a brother???, asked Sunny. Um, yes, I guess I never talk about him, I responded. I never realized that every time I mention my niece and nephew no one puts two and two together.

The reality is that I do have an older brother. In actuality, I know exactly where he is. But the question remains, where is my brother? About 7 and a half years ago, he left. Just took off and decided he wanted no part of my family. He divorced his wife, moved away from his kids and started a new life. Since, he has remarried, had more kids and does indeed see my niece and nephew. He has also started seeing my parents and grandparents again.

In the last 7+ years I have reached out to him twice. Both times he responded but it never went anywhere. He has missed my grandmother's burial, my grandfather's wedding and 80th birthday, our parents 60th birthdays, my uncle's funeral, my wedding and divorce, never met my pups... the list goes on.

I have gone through the stages of grief. And I've finally gotten to the point where I don't really think about him that often. But the holidays are tough. And now that he is re-engaging with my family and not me, that makes it even tougher. See, the brother I had is gone. The one who I adored gave up on me and walked away from everyone he claimed to love. He has left me holding the bag in good times and in crisis.

I'm sure you are wondering what happened. If I truly understood it, maybe I'd have closure. But the man who shares my blood is a stranger now. He is not the same guy who bought my niece and I matching Winnie the Pooh slippers when she was 1 as a Christmas gift. (Pooh holds a special place in our hearts... well he used to... my brother bought me my first Pooh.)

So if you see him, let him know I'm still here. I'd like to know him again someday.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Where's Mojo?

I know. It has been too long. And I only have one explanation as to why I haven't blogged in two months. I lost my mojo.

Now the good news is I found it. The bad news is it took 2 months. To illustrate how lost it truly was, I ordered these amazing 4 1/2" suede peep toed Mary Jane black and blue BCBG beauties before I lost my mojo. Once it was gone, I felt I didn't NEED them anymore. So I returned them.

Perhaps Santa will bring them back?

P.S. Santa didn't bring them back, but my Bestie and her family did!!! I opened them today and I was in shock. Thank you, thank you, to the best friends in the world!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Twinkle Toes (Times Three)

I am a Godmother.  I know, it's incredible to think of me that way but I am.  My best friend Melissa asked me to be her youngest daughter's Godmother just after Kate was born and I was holding her.  I immediately started to cry and then responded, "Wait!  This isn't an April's Fools joke is it?"  Because it was indeed April 1st.

Kate is now 4 and I believe Beyonce wrote "Runs The World" because of Kate.  Even when she is, um, not on her best behavior, you smile.  She is cute as can be, smart, funny - you know, the whole package.  She is also fearless.  God help us when she is a teenager!  But thankfully she has her amazing big sister Carly to watch over her...

I have passed down one thing that is clear and probably won't surprise you... Kate loves shoes!  (Going shopping on girls' day outs is a hoot - especially when the little ones start trying on flip flops!)  For her first birthday, I gave her Uggs (and yes they were sturdy so she could walk in them - her mother approved!).  Her second birthday brought light up Stride Rite sneakers (among other things including a snow suit that she loved).  But her third birthday, I outdid myself.  Her mother and I both wished these came in our size!  Kate got her first pair of Stuart Weitzman ballet flats.  They are green and silver sequined with a satin embellishment at the toe.  And they were about 3 sizes too big... (Her fourth birthday I bought her doll shoes at Kate's request - so yes, the theme is still intact.)

Last Sunday, I was delighted to see Kate show up to dinner wearing aforementioned Stuart Weitzman's.  Apparently, since they now fit, she doesn't want to take them off.  She wears them to Church, to cheerleading, to dinner, etc.  And I was delighted!  See, not only was Kate wearing her sparkly shoes, but Carly was sporting awesome silver ballet flats and I had on my sparkly sneakers.  We were twinkle toes times three!  (Mel, you've got to invest in a pair so we can all be in sync!)

The only thing better than getting new shoes for me is getting them for Kate and Carly.  They are so excited with whatever gifts I give. At one point, Melissa asked me to stop giving for a while because the girls got disappointed when I showed up empty handed.  I realize that was my fault - how could I not bring anything?! :)

When Mother's Day rolls around each year and I am feeling blue, there is always a card from Kate to brighten my day (and something from Stella and Sophie - how do they do it?!).  And most important is the fact that I have a forever friend who trusted me enough to have me stand up next to her and her husband in front of God, family and friends to show that I would always be there for Kate.  And their vow to always be there for me.  I am blessed.  Love you, Bestie!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I hate the unknown.  To me, limbo is  like a constant state of unknown.  When will it end?  What can I do to fix this situation?  Can I have faith in the realm of not knowing?

For the past 14 months I have been in limbo.  It is hard enough when you feel like you are the only one fighting for your marriage.  At least you know where you stand.  But to be the only one actively participating in a divorce - when you know your spouse doesn't want to be married to you but doesn't want to grant the divorce either - that is a different type of existence.  I'm not married yet I'm not divorced.  Limbo.

And limbo sucks.  Sorry, I can't mince words today.  Am I Sharp or am I Radford?  I know what I want to be but the state of Virginia hasn't yet agreed.  All he had to do was sign the damn papers.  He doesn't want me but he doesn't want to give me my freedom.  Who is this person I married?

And yet I can't help but correlate my situation to shoes.  Take these sling back pumps for example.  Are they gold or are they silver?  Depends on how the light hits.  Kind of like limbo for shoes...  not knowing what color they truly are.

And so I wait.  Each day I check my email hoping to hear the news.  Waiting for good news is one thing. Waiting for bittersweet news is a totally different experience.  I never thought I'd be divorced... the same sentiment shared by many divorced people I am sure.  Yet I also never thought I'd find out I was married to a complete stranger.  But I was.  And soon  my limbo will hopefully end.  I will once again be Melissa Radford, divorcee.  Can one find closure without answering the question why?  I'm not sure.  But at least I will be me again.  Whichever me I decide to be.  And I will wear these shoes with silver and with gold.  After all, the only one who controls who I am and want to be is me, right?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering Ten Years Ago

We all have a 9/11 story.  Where we were, how we felt, who we lost.  Remembering is the way we honor those who died on that fateful day, those who have given their lives to protect us, those who miss loved ones we have lost along the way.  My story is different.

My phone rang that morning with my mother letting me know a plane had hit the first tower.  I worked at a restaurant and didn't typically get to bed until very late so was still sleeping when she called.  Her friend's son-in-law was in the tower and Mom was rushing her home to pack and head to NYC so she could be with her daughter who was expecting their first child.  Her son-in-law never made it home.

I spent the day like many of us - trying to get in touch with loved ones, watching the news, praying, hoping, being frightened. I was living in Boston and my house overlooked the harbor and Logan airport so I had a direct view of the emergency response.  I had never felt so lonely or detached from my family.  I say this in spite of the fact that I was living with my  (now ex) fiancee.

To say I was in a destructive relationship would be a gross understatement but we should leave it at that.  His reaction to the events of that day were cruel. Empathy was not an emotion he could feel.  I finally admitted what I had been denying for so long because I was ashamed, too proud, scared what would come next... I admitted I needed my family and it was time to go home.  And so, that night, I started packing.

Box by box, I hid them in my car.  As much as I could hide without him noticing.  And a month later, I left. A family friend's wedding being the excuse I needed to drive to my parents house.  I'll spare you the gory details of what came next.  Mostly because it is too painful to recount. But I got out.  I survived.

So as I remember 9/11, I remember it with sadness and despair for all those lost.  I also remember it as the catalyst for me to change my life. To say I am not living alone or in fear any longer. I can go home again.

Ten years later, I am writing this from the home I own, with two amazing sleeping pups by my side.  I have a job that has been truly life changing.  I have family and friends who support me no matter how good or challenging life becomes.

Yesterday I got to listen to my 84 year old Grandaddy talk about his service in the Navy and his careers after that.  I spent last night toasting our patriotism at a Toby Keith concert under a full moon with my favorite person and today with my Bestie.  There aren't words accurate enough to describe how blessed I am.

So all this is to say thank you.  Thank you to those who have felt true hardship in their lives and had the courage to make a change for the better.  Thank you for those who choose to fight for our freedom and protection.  Thank you to all who have given their lives so I would have choices in mine.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

More than Blessed...

Last weekend, 7 of my closest friends descended upon my house to re-christen it the Radford residence. My best friend from high school, college, theater club and new friends through work all came together to celebrate the beginning of my new life. We ate, we drank, we swam (well, some of us did), we tried on shoes (some left with shoes - yep, the intervention truly impacted me!), we danced, we laughed, we cried, we sang, we played games (some a little too competitively) and we had a very special Sunday breakfast. These ladies represent the continuum of my life and I would not have gotten through the past year (or 25 years) without them. So, on this special day in August, I'd like to say one more thank you. Thank you to my friends who love and support me. Thank you for including me in your life. Thank you for showing me how fabulous each of you are in your own way. Lastly, thank you for proving to me that I have the strongest kitchen table in the world!

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Tribute to Grammie

My grandmother passed away 7 years ago this July and I was also honored to offer a tribute at her funeral:

To some of us in the room she was Anne. To some Mama, Mom, Sis, OB. To the grandchildren and great grandchildren, she is Grammie.

When I was thinking about how to describe Grammie, the phrase “pure of heart” immediately popped into my mind. Because that is who she was. A person with a heart so pure and full of love – willing to share that love with her family every day. In both large and small manifestations. And never asking for anything in return – except to know how you are and what you have been up to. Anytime you would call and say, “how are you doing, Gram?” she would reply, “same old, same old. Tired, achy, sinuses, etc. Now, what is going on with you?” And she would listen to you as long as you need to talk. She was the most interested audience any of us have ever had. Fascinated in every aspect of our lives – thrilled when we were happy; devastated when we were sad. Always helping simply by believing in you.

It is easy to believe in yourself with Grammie on your side. What I don’t think she ever realized, though, was how wise and impactful she was to so many people. She didn’t think she was worldly or very intelligent, but she had knowledge of the heart and years of experience that helped each of us in a different way. And we know she will continue believing in us.

Grammie did not have an easy childhood. She grew up very quickly to assume the role of caretaker. When she married Grandaddy and had children, grandchildren and then great-grandchildren, she poured all the love she had always wanted and all the love she had into her family. She taught us valuable lessons: respect, how to be fair to one another, how to listen, how to forgive, to believe in the power of love and to believe in yourself.

Love. I don’t ever remember having a conversation with Gram that didn’t end in I love you. Until the very end, when she couldn’t move around as freely, the last thing we would see when driving away from the house would be Grammie standing in the window of the front door, waving. A symbolic I love you.

Forgiveness. Grammie embodied this trait. Any and all transgressions were forgivable – sometimes you didn’t even have to ask for that forgiveness. Sometimes all you had to do was say you were sorry. And all was right with the world when Grammie would smile at you and you knew everything was going to be OK.

What did Grammie like to do? Besides spend time with her family, she learned a hobby in later years that kept her very busy. Scrapbooking. This was almost more than a hobby… it was an obsession. As a matter of fact, when she was in the hospital this last time, she said she couldn’t go yet because she was on a mission. She was determined to finish scrapbooks for my Mom, Aunt Mary, Uncle Johnny and Aunt Peggie and she said then she could rest. And finish them she did. And these aren’t just any scrapbooks. They are masterpieces of creativity and Grammie poured the love she felt into each and every page. Unselfishly, she never made a scrapbook for herself.

Her next favorite hobby was shopping. I will never forget one particular marathon shopping trip. We were in Marshall’s (of course) and I noticed Gram’s oxygen was running low. She was standing in the shoe section of the store when I ran out, grabbed the other tank from the car, and came back in to change it. I said, “Gram, why didn’t you tell me you were running low?” She said, “I didn’t want to bother you, Hon, we are in the shoe section after all!” Selfless shopper – that was Grammie.

Birthdays. Sonny & Cher, Captain & Tennille, Miss Piggy & Kermit… they’ve got nothing on Bud and Anne. That’s right; the greatest duet that ever lived is Bud and Anne. Every birthday you could count on one thing – hearing the 2 of them serenade you with Happy Birthday. The best would be if they messed up and had to start over… their fits of laughter during the song were as great as the song itself.

The only thing better than hearing them sing you happy birthday was Grammie’s birthday. Giving a gift to Grammie is one of the best experiences anyone can have. She would fuss over you and the gift like you’ve never seen saying, “Oh Hon, you shouldn’t have!”… But definitely glad you did – every time! At her 75th birthday, the entire family went in on some wrought iron bookshelves for her to put her family pictures, books, etc. on. When she opened up those boxes, it was as if she had been given solid gold! I would show you the picture of Grammie with a big yellow bow on her head but she would not be happy with me. The pictures of Grandaddy in the same bow are equally priceless!

Grammie’s devotion to her family was rivaled only by Grandaddy’s devotion to her. Their love of 56 years is an inspiration. Grandaddy loved waiting on Grammie and she loved bossing him around. She would invite you to dinner, ask what you wanted, and then inform Grandaddy what he was making. He would pretend to be peeved about it but you know he loved every minute.

Humor. Laughing was an integral part of Grammie’s life. And she laughed up until her very last days. The true beauty of Grammie’s humor was in its innocence. Sometimes she had no idea what she said was funny and was shocked when everyone laughed. One night, as Mom and Uncle Johnny sat in Grammie’s room chatting, she tried to speak. Mom said, “Mom, are you trying to say something?” Thinking she was ready to pass on some wisdom. To which Grammie responded, “Th-th-that’s all folks!” Another night, a week or so ago, Mom and Grandaddy were sitting on the bed next to Grammie talking about what would come next, who she would see, etc. Suddenly, Gram opened her eyes, turned her head and said, “You all are scaring me to death!” Laughter erupted… that was her, laughing and enjoying life until the end.

Generous. Grammie would give you anything she could. Literally, if you complimented something she had she’d sometimes try and give it to you. Even if it wasn’t hers she’d try to give it to you. Like the time she was out to lunch with one of her girlfriends and her girlfriend admired the creamer on the table. Outside in the car, Grammie produced the creamer from her purse – cream and all – for her friend! Thievery was a rare occurrence, but she would do anything for the people she loved. Every single one of us in the family was spoiled by Grammie (and you too Grandaddy), and I’m not ashamed to admit it!

The last gift she gave her family was the ability to say goodbye. During her last weeks, Grammie was surrounded by her family – day and night. And each of us shared some private moments with her – a time when we were able to say what we need to say; to share how we felt about her; to kiss her forehead and squeeze her hand. And she was able to do the same with each of us. This is a special blessing we will thank God for the rest of our lives. Grammie left us without a single doubt as to how much she was loved and how grateful her family was to have been loved by her.

To know Grammie was to feel loved, understood and accepted. Imagine everything you would want in a spouse, mother, sister, grandmother, friend and that is what we had in her. To say she will be missed is a gross understatement. But her legacy to each of us is to love, to be fair, to listen, to laugh and to never miss an opportunity to say “I love you”. Her family and friends loved her and will continue to love her more than words can express.

And if you close your eyes, and sit very still, you can feel her presence here – waving I love you to all of us.

A Tribute to My Uncle Johnny

My Uncle Johnny passed away suddenly this past Sunday. He was 58 years old. I had the honor of holding his hand until he passed away, an hour after last rites were given. Yesterday, I was granted the privilege of giving a tribute on behalf of our family at his funeral. Here it is:

Uncle Johnny loved simple things. Animals, fishing, golf, a good joke, crabs, Christmas, his family – not necessarily in that order. He always asked about my dogs, Stella & Sophie and would listen to any story I would tell about them– indulging me with his ear and his laughter. But his heart really belonged to two special creatures: Honey and Pretty Boy.

Honey is Joan and Grandaddy’s dog and Uncle Johnny was his Bubba. As Uncle Johnny would drive up to the house, Joan would say, “Is that your Bubba coming?” and Honey would run to the door to greet him, toy in mouth, tail wagging. And Honey would only jump on the couch if Uncle Johnny was sitting on it. She loved the amount of attention he gave her and how they played together.

But his long-time companion was Pretty Boy, his bird. To say Pretty Boy is spoiled would be the understatement of the century considering Grandaddy can actually fit in his cage. It’s like a birdy mansion. With a 25 year history together, Pretty Boy and my uncle were definitely best friends.

And friends to Uncle Johnny meant fishing, golfing, and crabs. Uncle Johnny used to go on golfing trips with my dad and his buddies to Myrtle Beach every year. Uncle Johnny was the designated driver and the butt of many jokes. One in particular my dad was sharing the other day was when Dad and his buddy Greg woke Uncle Johnny and his friend up to tell them it was time to get ready and leave for their tee time.

Now you may not know this, but John was very particular about appearances. From blow-drying his hair to making sure his outfit was put together, he didn’t get ready in a hurry. Anyway, when John and Russell headed for the door they were shocked to find Dad and Greg laughing their way to sleep. It was 3:30 am – John and Russell had turned in early so the party boys decided to play a practical joke on them. And you know who the first person was to share this story? Uncle Johnny. He loved the fun they had and loved to share it with the rest of us.

Uncle Johnny looked forward to the crabs Cousin Donald gave him every year. And when Cuz would call him to get them, he never kept them all for himself. He always dropped some off for Grandaddy and some for Mom, who loved them as much as him. Normally this occurred in August, around their birthdays. August was always a celebratory time in our family with Uncle Johnny’s birthday on the 19th and Mom and Grandaddy’s on the 20th. We would come together as a family, for dinner, gifts, and lots of chatter. This August will surely be bittersweet…

Christmas was his favorite holiday. He used to delight in decorating under Grammie and Grandaddy’s tree every year. And he always put special thought into his gift for the women of the family. But Christmas 2010 was definitely the most memorable.

As he watched QVC one night, he called my mom and said “Are you awake?” (Apparently he said this every time he called, no matter the time of day.) He had found the perfect gift for each of us and wanted to make sure he chose the right color. Fast forward to Christmas day at Mom and Dad’s and I wish I had taken a picture of his face as he watched Joan, Mom, Aunt Mary and I open our Wolfgang Puck knife blocks. My knives are apple green, the color of my new kitchen and he was so proud when I said that the color was perfect. And we all cracked up at his bravery in giving the Downs/Radford women knives at a family holiday. Yesterday, when Mom went to feed Pretty Boy, she noticed that Uncle Johnny had bought himself a set of those knives as well. His are black – I guess that’s a little more manly than apple green.

And last night, as Mom was cutting the rolls for today with one of the knives Uncle Johnny gave her, she apparently sliced her finger. “His last act of violence toward his big sister”, she said.

And Uncle Johnny was always good for a cooking tip – even if he had never prepared the dish. He’d say, “that’s how they did it on food network.” My uncle actually knew everything about everything – a gene he inherited from the Downs side of the family.

Less than 2 weeks ago we were together, Grandaddy, Joan, Mom, Dad, Uncle Johnny and me for the second to last time. We were having breakfast at IHOP to celebrate Father’s Day. We told stories of Honey, Stella, Sophie and Pretty Boy. We talked about the US Open, where Dad and I had been that Friday. We talked about Robert Duvall, whom I had the pleasure of meeting the week before. Grandaddy sang some of his high school fight songs. Joan cleaned her plate, as always – what a big appetite for such a wee thing! And I made fun of my uncle as he buttered his toast – not one morsel of that bread went unbuttered – and it was perfect. Like it had just stepped out of a butter salon! We laughed, we ate, we enjoyed each other’s company…

My uncle was a simple man. He loved a good cup of coffee, a cigarette, Maryland crabs, a home cooked meal, Christmas, animals and his family. He was a caring man. He called my parents and Grandaddy and Joan almost every day. He was a giving man. He mowed his neighbor Cat’s lawn. When he visited my house, he always offered to walk Stella & Sophie – no matter how cold it was. He was a sensitive man. He mourned the loss of Grammie, his mother, alongside the rest of the family. Keeping vigil during her last days. And he then celebrated the marriage of Grandaddy and Joan 5 years ago, standing next to them on the altar in the role of best man.

John didn’t live an easy life. The past few years have been the hardest as his health presented one issue after another. And as much as we all knew that, getting the call on Saturday that he was in the hospital was still a shock.

Because when I think of who my uncle is to this family, he’s like the first day of Spring. You didn’t see it or celebrate it every day, but you always knew it was just around the corner. Would always be there. You never expected a time to come when there would be no Spring.

We were given a gift the past 2 Sunday mornings – the ability to say goodbye. And as we crowded around his hospital bed, I believe that he could hear us all there, telling him how much we loved him. “My Beautiful Boy”, Grandaddy said, “Go to God.”

As I held Uncle Johnny’s hand while he took his last breath, I saw one tear slide down his cheek. And I believe this was a tear of relief. My uncle was going home. He was going to a place where he would be at peace, with no more pain. And Grammie was waiting for him there.

And we may not see him any longer, but just like Springtime, we can feel him around us. His spirit of love, loyalty and the simple things that matter continue in each of us.

I learned a valuable lesson this week. I don’t think my uncle knew how special he was to me until I held his hand during the last moments of his life. So today, as we honor him, please learn from my lesson. Squeeze the hand of those who mean the most of you today. Do not wait another moment.

May you rest in peace, Uncle Johnny.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fun People

I have a group of friends that are self proclaimed "Fun People". FPs for short. The core is four but we sometimes have accepted "fringe FPs". To be in the core, you have to meet some pretty strict criteria:

1. You must be non-judgmental, willing to accept your fellow FPs for who they are.
2. You must know how to order and enjoy a cocktail.
3. You must be fun, obviously.
4. You must be willing to make time for the FPs no matter what city you are in and what else is going on.

When did the FPs band together? To be honest, it has been a work in progress but we truly solidified as a unit a few years ago. And to say we have fun is an understatement. We have to often revisit our past escapades via memory, or amnesia as the case may be, lane. (Sometimes we don't all remember the karaoke machine in the cabinet). We laugh so much it hurts.

So what are the benefits to being an FP?
  1. You have a group of friends who will never judge you... even when you may judge yourself.
  2. You get to have cocktails.
  3. You have fun.
  4. You always know another adventure is just on the horizon.
Everyone needs FPs. If you don't have any, go find some. You probably already do but call yourselves something else.

And yes, it is somewhat childish that we named ourselves. But as FPs, that is our prerogative. The first thing any club does is pick their name, right? I mean Sons of Anarchy had to be SAMCRO before they got their tattoos. And look at the Pink Ladies and the Greasers... they needed the names before they could get the jackets.

One last thing about FPs... we sometimes show up for events dressed alike. I guess it is because we are truly solemates. Here's to my FPs - I love you!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A (Not So) Formal Affair

I love getting dressed up. The gown, the sparkles, the make-up, ah yes, the shoes. Every year one of my FPs invites me to his organization's gala. This year, I had to pass because another FP was getting married. But he invited me to a gala in my hometown that I could make. So imagine my delight when shopping with Bride FP for her rehearsal dinner dress on a girls' weekend in Orlando and I find the perfect gown. It was so perfect, in fact, that the store shipped it for free because, as the manager said, "it was made for me."

So you can understand how excited I was when the gala date arrived. I even got my hair done. As I did my make-up, however, I started to realize that this evening may not happen. You see, Stella was sick. Very sick. She had been to the vet and they put her on antibiotics for a severe infection but she wouldn't stop screaming. So, off to the vet we went on a rainy Friday night.

And there we sat for hours until the x-rays showed nothing more serious (thank God) but we had missed the party. (I must admit I was the most glamorous person at the vet - from the neck up.) I was so sad... Not only was I missing a night with FPs, but I was missing the opportunity to wear my new gown and shoes. (Please don't get me wrong - I was thrilled Stella was going to be OK. All she needed were some narcotics to help her get through the tough part of her infection.)

And then I was presented with an alternative. Don our fancy duds and have a dance at home. So I put on my gown and slipped into my stilettos. And even Stella felt better once she saw my shoes (or it could have been the pain shot from the vet). Isn't it wonderful to have someone in your life who can make lemonade out of lemons? Or in this case, a formal affair out of a kitchen and an iTouch playlist?

Monday, May 23, 2011


It's true. Until a couple of months ago I had never bowled. Despite my mother's conviction that I MUST have bowled as a child - and my joy in telling her I was deprived - I had never bowled. I once hung out at a bowling alley while living in Bowling Green, OH with my brother after college graduation. He bowled. I drank beer and was wide-eyed due to the fabulous people watching.

Is it really shocking that I've never been? I mean, look at these shoes. You have to wear shoes OTHER PEOPLE have worn. And they aren't even cute. They are almost worse than golf shoes (see Why are Golf Shoes so Ugly for more elaboration on this point.)

My friends find it inconceivable. So I decided it was a must do and went on a weekday afternoon in Manassas, VA and luckily it was predominantly a ghost town. My first time up, I threw a spare. The "crowd" went wild. And then the wheels fell off. See, it turns out, I suck at bowling. I mean, I'm really bad. Beer must make it better but we weren't drinking.

And why was I so bad? I blame the shoes. It is impossible to excel at life in hideous footwear. I think they killed my mojo. As a matter of fact, I think that's what happens on the golf course too. Maybe tap dancing would be a better hobby for me. At least you can wear shoes that sparkle and shine.

(And in case you wondering, I was laughing so hard the whole time I could barely breathe. It was a blast! Despite the shoes...)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Comfortable in the Uncomfortable

Change is hard. Everyone knows that. That is why so many people live a life they don't want. Or wish for something they are actually afraid to go after. For a long time, I was uncomfortable in my comfortable life. I could come and go as I pleased. I had the appearance of happiness - husband, big house, great wardrobe, perfect pups, amazing career, etc. etc. But each night I cried myself to sleep because I was so unhappy. But change was scary so it took me a long time to muster the strength to do anything. As unhappy as I was, at least I knew what each day would hold. I was uncomfortable in the comfortable.

I never thought about this until an amazing person introduced me to the concept. He said, "for a long time I was uncomfortable in the comfortable. But now, I'm comfortable in the uncomfortable." Meaning, it feels good to stretch, to change, to take a risk. You may not know what the next day will bring but at least you know you are living your life on your terms. You are choosing happiness.

And that is where I am right now. And it is a great space to be in. Sure, life has gotten tougher on certain fronts (puppy care, house stuff, money, logistics, etc.) but it sure is easier not to live a lie. To be happy for the right things - love, family, friends, health.

And, of course, beautiful new shoes given to me because I am a mom of pups. I still include shoes in my happiness quotient. And there is nothing uncomfortable about these!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Spring Sassiness

Spring is such a sassy season. You can see the kick in people's step. Legs are shaved, toes are painted, clothes have color. The flowers are blooming and the grass is greening. It's a time for golfing, running (not that I do that), grilling... it really is my favorite time of year.

And it's also a time for new shoes (big surprise). So celebrate spring with some new sassiness... My choice? These amazing Carlos Santana sandals. I can't wait to wear them with a flirty skirt and go out on the town! Or wear them to work since I seem to do more of that than go out on the town. Wait, I think there's an opportunity there! Maybe I should plan a night out on the town. Or dress up for dinner in my own house. Either way, these beauties will be dressing up my feet!

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Little Bit Stronger

Transitions are hard. Even if the change is something you know is right, the space and time in which it occurs can still be difficult. The saying goes "time heals (heels) all wounds", and I do think that is true. It's the waiting for the time to pass and the healing to be complete that can be grueling.

I didn't realize how topsy-turvy I would feel at the final stage of this transition. I'm even more surprised that I still feel empathy after so much hurt. But I don't feel the need to rescue anymore. And I don't feel the need to sacrifice myself - the cost is too high.

So I guess that means I'm healing, right? And maybe getting a little bit stronger? Two months ago certain emails or texts would have sent me over the edge. Today, I breathe deeply and feel what I feel. Then I try and move past it. I try not to let the feelings paralyze me.

So in honor of me getting stronger, I'm the proud owner of these Charles by Charles David wedge summer sandals. No falling down in these shoes. They mean business. And so do I. One thing I have learned in the past year is that I can do this. I can choose happiness. I can let go - even if it is a very small bit at a time. And that doesn't mean I'm not loyal. And it doesn't mean I didn't try. It just means I know when to say when.

And with strength comes hope. I still believe in love. It may sound crazy to you, but I believe that it's possible. Some days I may feel damaged, but someone will love me despite that. And they will help me heal completely. That sounds like a strong outlook, don't you think?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Time for Renewal

It was Easter 2003 when my family met my future husband for the first time. And it is Easter 2011 that marks the last Easter for us to be married. It is a season for renewal and with that renewal comes many emotions - sadness, joy, fear - the list goes on and on.

Many people have emotional ties to possessions and I am no different. Except, of course, that some of my most emotional ties are with my shoes. Strange, I know, but as I downsize my shoe collection with the help of eBay; I can't help but go through that emotional roller coaster.

Like these green patent Tahari sandals with the gold heel. My soon to be ex-husband bought them for me as an Easter surprise a few years ago. I loved the colors and the fact they would go with a jacket I have that is so ugly it's cute (you'd have to see it to understand). Mostly, though, I loved that he went into a store, saw these and thought of me. But they hurt my feet from the moment I put them on. Yet I wore them anyway. Because they were cute and because he bought them for me. I suffered through to make him happy...

And now these shoes are making someone in Wisconsin happy. And the lesson they have taught me is invaluable - you can't sacrifice your own happiness for someone else's. If you do, it is impossible to sustain.

So I wish you a happy and blessed Easter. An Easter that allows you to begin your own season of renewal. A pain-free time filled with happiness... and maybe a couple pairs of new shoes.

Friday, April 1, 2011

"Your Boots Make Me Happy"

When I walked into the treatment room at Izalia yesterday, (and no, you can't know what treatment I was having - total TMI!!!) Annette said 5 magical words, "Your boots make me happy." Quickly followed by, "Would you say they are more Swiss or French Country?" I can safely say no one has ever asked me that question before, and I said "Swiss but only because the red makes me feel that way." I have NO idea!

Anyway, I told Annette that I think it's important to wear brightly colored floral galoshes on gray, rainy, chilly days. Basically, I brighten people's day from my knees down. She wholeheartedly agreed.

And, let's face it. If I can spread happiness with my footwear, it seems like a win-win. One might even say, it's good for the so(u)le. (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA) It's my blog, I can pun if I want to!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Almost Famous

So I am a famous shoe designer. Well, sort of. I bought a Groupon to design my own shoes at Eidia Lush. Aren't they fabulous? Well, apparently the folks at Eidia Lush thought so because they posted pictures to facebook and blogged about it! I hope you check out their blog to learn what I should wear with these beauties!

I feel famous. Almost!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

An Intervention

I have had an interesting life. And by interesting I mean somewhat wild, challenging, thrilling and completely off the reservation at times. So I can't believe it took this long for the intervention to happen. And that it would happen in my closet.

Alexis is one of my closest friends. She flew down from Boston for a fun-filled girls weekend (which means eating, drinking, laughing, talking, etc.) and it was her first trip to my new house. On night 2, we were trying to decide if we should go out or stay in. And then Alexis walked into my closet, pulled out her phone, snapped a picture and demanded I see what she saw. As she surveyed the shoe boxes, she calmly asked, "is this all of them?" I had to then lead her to another closet full of shoes. After counting to 150 she said, "Get the champagne. We are staying in. This is a shoe intervention."

We spent the next 2 hours laughing, drinking, trying on shoes, photographing and sorting. Three piles: garbage, goodwill and eBay. (She did snag a couple of things for herself for helping so much!) We also went through purses. And like a woman possessed, I went through all of my clothes the next day. All in all, 4 bags went to Goodwill and I have listed 6 of the 40 pairs of shoes on eBay.

I have a new beginning after a very long, emotional roller coaster. Somehow, starting over seems as good a time as any to lighten my load. I'm doing it emotionally. Why not do it with my possessions as well? You may be wondering how traumatic this was for me. Actually, it wasn't. It felt great to get rid of all the stuff I wasn't enjoying or using. It was fun to open a box and light up because I loved the contents and get rid of anything that didn't warrant that reaction. As a matter of fact, seems like a good philosophy for everything else in my life, doesn't it?

And yes, I may buy my feet something new with my eBay proceeds. You're not surprised, are you?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What's In a Name?

Last month, my association changed its name. The new name is distinctive, memorable and kinda awesome (in my humble opinion). So of course, this got me thinking about the most frequently asked question of me lately, "So, Melissa, are you going back to Radford?"

You'd think it wouldn't stump me every time. The marriage is over and I should just let go of the name, right? But here's the thing... Melissa Sharp is a way better name. There. I said it. But that's just me being shallow. Over the past 5 years I have made this name my brand professionally. When people hear Melissa Sharp, I hope they think "passionate about the mission, funny and energetic." (At least, those were the responses given to my personal brand survey - and I felt totally validated!) When they hear Melissa Radford what will they think (I'm not talking about those who knew me then - I know what you all think!)? I know I'll still be all of those things. I mean a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet. (You knew I had to quote Shakespeare in this post, right?)

Now for some honesty. Once I change back to Radford, it tells the whole world that my marriage is over. And even though I know it is the right thing for me, it still feels like I'm publicly admitting failure. And I know that shouldn't matter... but it does.

Why can't this decision be as easy as changing your shoes? When I went to the reception celebrating my organization's name change, I was wearing my third choice of shoes for that day. I started with the 5 inch platform Christian Louboutin shabooties, but didn't think I could stand at a reception in them. Then I changed into the kitten heeled patent leather Calvin Klein shabooties but they didn't feel special enough. I finally landed on the above pictured Laundry by Shelli Segal black suede boots with platinum heel and trim. Aren't they spectacular?

So I ask you - what's in a name?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Love Kills Slowly

As I've mentioned before, I'm extreme. Either happy and laughing or dark and twisty (yes, I stole this from Grey's Anatomy but it is totally appropriate). When I'm dark and twisty, my footwear taste is a bit different. Enter my Ed Hardy "Love Kills Slowly" snow boots. I fell in love with them and had to have them during a difficult time in my life. I not only like what they say but they are knee high, silver and fur-lined. I mean, what's not to love?

But the other day I wore these boots and got to thinking, does love really kill slowly? The saying goes, "you can't help who you love"; but is that true? And if it is, and the love is something that isn't good for you, is it the love that kills you slowly or your choices about said love? We've all been there... a relationship we intuitively know is bad for us yet we stay in it. Why do we stay? Is it truly because we can't turn our back on love?Or is it because we don't have the courage to walk away?

I wish I had the answer to this when I was in my 20s... in the end, I walked away. But then, it wasn't really love anyway.

I know, that is a lot to think about on a cold Monday. But unlike our snowfall this winter, my thoughts are deep!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Other People

Sometimes it is amazing to me how concerned people are about other people's lives. Which is somewhat contradictory because I am fascinated by others but I think I have some limits. Like I would never ask people to confirm a rumor about themselves. And I would never ask a colleague if their divorce was hostile. I mean boundaries are a good thing, right? I know my filter isn't always on but I try to draw the line at invading people's personal lives...

Which then leads me to wonder how concerned I am about what other people think. In my younger days I was VERY concerned, but as I get older and more comfortable in my skin it seems to matter less and less. I mean, people are going to talk regardless of what I do and I can only control my own actions.

Which is why I was kind of impressed when a CEO (who shall remain nameless) walked into my office wearing 2 different shoes yesterday. He got dressed in the dark and didn't notice until pulling into the parking garage at his office building. Once there, he decided that it would be more fun to see how observant his staff was than to go home and change. Now, I would definitely not be seen with 2 different shoes but I appreciate his willingness to make fun of himself and not really care what others think. Not taking yourself too seriously is a wonderful trait and we should all take a lesson...

But I did have a serious conversation with him about the black socks!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Off to a Good Start

I was ready for 2010 to come to an end. Truth be told, it was the most bittersweet year of my life. A lot of changes and I'm not sure what comes next. But I do know that I am making a good home for me, Stella & Sophie. It is scary, for sure, but isn't change always scary?

So it seems fitting that on the last day of 2010, we got blinds. Yep, we have been living in this house for 14 months with temporary blinds. Pathetic but very telling about the road we'd been traveling. So now we have beautiful blinds (on the first floor at least) and every night I close them and every morning I open them. Who knew I would ever be so excited about blinds?

But lest you think I've completely lost my mind, on the first day of 2011 I bought these beauties. No, they aren't the Bucket List Boots. I mean do you seriously think I could splurge on those right now? I'm the proud owner of blinds, remember? Anyway, they are still "delicious" as one facebook friend called them - black, suede, over the knee platforms with 5 inch heels. (And if you want to know where I'll wear these, let me tell you. Out with the girls, to the grocery store, to a dinner party - shoot, I'll wear them while operating my Kitchen Aid mixer! Who knows... I'll wear them everywhere!)

And I get to spend the second day of 2011 with my bestie and her family. And I know there are a bunch of special moments in store for me today. I don't know about you, but I think 2011 is off to a great start. Happy New Year!