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One Bad APPLE Can Spoil The Whole Bunch

img_6692My first exposure to the world of Apple products was back back in 2010 when I was studying to be a web designer. Well, to be honest it was back when my kids were in school and came home saying ‘Open-Apple’ something which neither of them profess to remember….but I digress. I fell in love with the MAC I worked on in class. Before I graduated, I took advantage of my student discount and bought a MacBook Pro.

From that point forward, I have purchased iPods, another MacBook, two iPads and eventually an iPhone 6. I have loved them all. The lack of viruses, the ease of use, the integration between them all – I have always been a fan.

Unfortunately, my iPhone 6 may be the bad Apple that spoils the whole bunch.

Let’s talk batteries. You cannot just take the back panel off and replace the battery. When the battery in my phone failed two years ago, I did what any Apple owner would do. I called and made an appointment with the Genius Bar at the nearest (an hour drive for me) Apple Store. After doing a backup (thank goodness!!!) making the drive, turning off my passcode, turning off Find My iPhone I turned the phone over to the ‘genius’ . Diagnostics were run and indeed, my phone needed a new battery. That would cost $79 IF they had a battery which (drumroll please) they did not. I was livid. 3 hours of my life consumed for nothing. I pitched a fit! So much so, they gave me a new phone (I was suspicious why they would give me a new phone let me tell you) for the cost of the battery. Following much hemming and hawing, I finally said ok. The tech let me purge all the data off my phone, I took the new phone home, restored it from my iTunes backup an Voila! All was well.

Fast forward about a month and my phone lost it’s ability to use cellular service. After hours on the phone with the support center (using WiFi calling), updating carrier settings, a trip to the AT&T store to get another SIM card (which did not make any difference) and a week of frustration, Apple agreed to send me a new phone. Of course, because I needed my phone until I had the new one, Apple put a $700 hold on my credit card until the old phone was received back at Apple. I returned my phone, got the credit on my credit card and all was well – for a while.

Over the last few weeks, I had to charge my phone several times a day. I just got tired of it. So, again, I called the Apple store and made an appointment. But this time, I was oh so much smarter! The day before the appointment, I called first to make sure they had a battery. That call took me to central Apple support. After many calls and exchanges, it was again confirmed that the Apple Store will not hold a battery for you – even though you make an appointment FOR a battery and Apple techs run diagnostics saying you need a battery it is strictly first come first serve. I had been down this road before.

So, the nice Apple Support guy found an authorized vendor (still an hour from home) that had batteries and could change it for me if I came that afternoon. Great. What he did not tell me was I would need to leave my phone for 2+ hours for them to change the battery. I had other scheduled appointments so I could not leave my phone. This was not going well. So….back to the Support Center.

Long story short, I made yet another appointment at the Apple Store (first appointment of the day because I am much smarter now) and the support person said he would work with the store to make sure they had a battery for me. Now I understood I would need to leave my phone for the repair an I planned accordingly.

Up at 7:30 am. Phone backup. Coffee. Breakfast. Shower. Get dressed and on the road for another hour drive. When I arrived at the Apple Store, it was already pretty crowded. The tech was nice. Very professional. Sorry for my trouble. He really put me at ease and bonus – it was only going to take a hour.

After shopping around the mall, I got checked back in and was called back rather quickly. It started going downhill from there. One of the techs came out rather nonchalantly, handed me a phone and said, ‘they had problems with your phone after the battery was replaced – it would not power up’. It took a minute to register. This was not my phone. They assumed it was some sort of logic board problem. My phone, was all packed up, ready to be shipped ‘somewhere’ with all my personal data on it. Somehow, this phone I had paid cash for – so I sort of thought it was mine – was somewhere in the back ready to be sent back to Apple ‘to be disassembled and melted down’ without any discussion with me.

My mind was slowly focusing on the magic trick I had just witnessed. I asked if the phone was new. The response was ‘no one has ever owned this phone’. Huh? So I said it must be refurbished. The response was, no, it was not refurbished. Again, no one ever owned this phone. After pressing the tech, I was finally told that the case was new but at least the camera had been replaced to which I again said, ‘so it was refurbished’. ‘It’s just a camera’ was hurtled back at me in a very condescending tone. This is when I requested the manager.

I will not bore you with all the assurances I was given about Apple and their fight to protect individual privacy. Surely I had seen the article in the news about how they refused to turn data over to the police. Bottom line, same story. I asked for my phone back. No, it was packed ready to mail back. What will happen to it I asked. He couldn’t really tell me because he wasn’t sure. He said I assure you no one is going to look on that truck for your phone. I told him I wanted my phone held in the store until I could get in touch with the support rep I had been working with. I was not happy. He told me the support people would not be able to help me (was he trying to discourage me from calling?). I told him I would call anyway – Of course that meant I needed to go home because now the phone I had in my hand had none of my data on it. No emails, contacts – nothing.

I decided to call my husband and get him to find the support rep’s email and give me his phone number and my case number. While I was on the phone waiting for my husband to call, the manager came back and told me they were going to try to wipe the phone clean. He eventually came back with a phone and showed me the phone had been cleared. Funny, the phone that would not power up, and had a probable bad logic board was powered up. I asked him how that could be. He then told me that sometimes when they try to restore a phone, it will work again. At this point I am beginning to think there is something fishy in Denmark. I looked at him and asked “How do I know this is my phone”?

At this point I copied the IMEI number, called and left a message with the support rep and drove an hour back home to restore my data on the phone. This is my fourth phone in two years if anyone is counting. Today was another 5 hours invested in what was to be a battery change.

Tomorrow I will let you know what I hear from the support center and will give you Apple users out there some advice if you ever need to take your iPhone in for repair.

Oh, and one last note, I have no idea how old the battery is in this phone (which no one has ever owned but yet the camera has been replaced.)

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Raindrop Mosaics

I could feel my heartbeat quickening. Just my luck it would start to pour as I pulled into the grocery store. Luckily, I was in my sweats and crocs so getting wet was really not a big deal. As I reached down to turn off the engine, I saw this image. Suddenly this world of dreary rain was transformed into a raindrop mosaic. I just sat there for a few minutes taking it all in.

Yes, I got wet. I couldn’t ‘run’ into the store – crocs are very slippery when wet and as a 64 year old woman, I don’t take those types of chances. Although a bit scraggly looking, I managed to get my shopping done and head back to the car.

My drive home is only about 15 minutes. The rain had stopped, but the show had just begun. The rain mixed with the heat of the day caused steam to rise out of the mountains. It was as if there were fire-breathing dragons nestled between the ridges of the mountains. I was flooded with memories of this same steam when I was a child. I am always a little surprised when childhood memories – locked away for years – decide to surface. We think we have forgotten these little slices of our life, but they are there. Carefully guarded little snippets of every place we have been, tucked away until we call upon them again.

As I turned into my driveway, the steam rising off the asphalt was almost like fog. It was magical. I did not engage my logical brain to try and analyze what what caused the steam, I just took it all in. Yes, magical indeed.

What started as a quick trip to the store under less than perfect conditions turned into what I like to call a ‘breathable moment’.

Breathable moments may be God’s way of telling us to slow down and relax. I need more of those in my life. The funny thing is they are around us all the time. We just get too harried and too busy to take note. My goal is to move a little slower, a little more deliberately.

As I undertake writing a blog every day for 365 days, I will be taking advantage of all the breathable moments I can get. I want to rest my analytical brain and activate my creative and playful brain.

Last night was a good start.

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Weaving Cobweb Ladders

Today I have been strolling through time. I have been in my head a lot and trying to make some sense of where I am emotionally. For the last few years I feel I have been straddling the fence between living and dying. So much loss in my life has brought me to the realization that I am stuck. I need to move on and today I realized for the first time in a long time, that I am ready to do so.

I recently signed up to take what I thought was going to be a rather innocuous online writing class. I’m not sure why I signed up to begin with other than I knew of the teacher, Maitri Libellule, from an online community. She always had my respect so I decided to go for it. I had no idea what to expect and I immediately began to question whether I should do this. I mean, after all, I’m not ‘really’ a writer. I have a history of starting and stopping projects and honestly, l half expected this to turn out the same.

Boy was I wrong. Maitri has created a safe space where a group of very diverse women from across the globe look forward to gathering. Once a week, for two hours, we are guided through some very sacred work. I didn’t expect it. It can make you feel vulnerable and exposed but even so, we all seem to flourish there.

Through my own writing, I have examined people and places I did not necessarily want to visit. I have found a deeper place I had kept hidden – buried almost – because that seemed safer somehow.

What I am realizing is when you bury events, or pain, or even happiness from seeing the light, the darkness seeps into you soul. You don’t realize it. You may not even know it’s happening until something happens to release it all.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not a therapy session, although the writing can be very therapeutic. This class is designed to remove those things that block us from being everything we can be – everything we were meant to be. I was stuck. I know that. I knew it years ago, but I refused to acknowledge it.

In all the dust, I have found cobwebs which I am now spinning into ladders. I am climbing out. I am finding myself and my voice. My voice has been sad and dark for a long time and I am tired of feeling that way. I have JOY in my life and I want to see it in the full light of day.

So, how do I accomplish such a huge goal? For one, I remain faithful to the commitment to attend The Sunday Night Writing Group For Women that Maitri so generously hosts every week. Secondly, I have committed to join her and blog every day for 365 days. Wow. That sounds overwhelming. What will I talk about? Maybe just my every day life. Maybe my dreams. Maybe my projects. Maybe I will even blog about some of the sadness in my life, but I know I will not make that the prevailing theme of what I write. I do not want to feel stuck any more.

It is a first step. Now I need to decide where to blog – here or on a totally new blog. I have a week or so to decide so I will post here and let everyone know what I plan to do.

I am anxious to explore this time, these feelings, this newfound joy. I am moving into a place of greater joy and that makes me happy. I am so thankful for this class and for the revelations it has uncovered for me. I am moving and movement feels glorious when you have been stagnant as long as I have been.

If you are curious about this class, click the link above and read about it. Currently, registrations are closed, but I urge anyone that earnestly wants to dive deep into their lives through writing to at least check it out. You will not be sorry.

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

Rumi

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My Mother’s Daughter – Becoming Me

My nickname is MagCindy.

It’s one of two names my mother called me. I think I have held onto this for over sixty years because it makes me feel closer to my mom. I was 19 years old, one year out of high school and already in the Air Force when she died. It was a devastating loss which I have explored many times, but not today. Today is about a woman I wish I had known as a woman myself. I think we would have learned a lot from each other.

MyMomI was never a risk taker. Mom always was. She was fearless. I was fearFULL. Earlier today I heard someone say that you are never safe in life. But in death, you’re safe. Let that sink in. Since my mother died, I’ve gradually learned to be more like her, but boy has that taken a lot of effort. But I don’t want to be safe. I want to FEEL, even if it’s risky.

Freida Mae Swift Shortt was a tough cookie. Being her daughter meant you had expectations. It wasn’t enough to be something to someone else, you had to be something on your own. It did not matter one iota what that was – but there has to be something. She supported everything I ever did. Civil Air Patrol nerd – check. Struggling artist – check. Waitress – check. Air Force airman – check. She was proud of her kids – each and every one of us – with every accomplishment, big or small – she was beaming with pride.

Mom was also a jokester, embarrassing to a young girl at times, but her intentions were always positive. My friends all loved her. Every kid in the neighborhood was welcome at our house. Whatever we had, she lovingly shared. When we moved from Virginia to Ohio, it was a hoot. We were quite the ‘country come to town’. Mom fried chicken, made biscuits and milk gravy, and made banana salad (banana sliced length wise, smeared with Miracle Whip and covered with chopped peanuts) for dinner. My friends loved to come to our house to eat – she was a great cook. Country all the way, though.

MyMom2Don’t get me wrong, Mom was not domestic-centric. She wanted to be outside and housework was the last thing she ever wanted to do. That was all left to us. We had a wringer washer and no drier. Clothes were hung outside on the line or in the basement. She didn’t have time to waste waiting on wash cycles and spin cycles. Wash, rinse, get out. No, not crazy about being inside, but outside – she was a force to be reckoned with. She played tag football in the front yard with us and loved being around all our friends. She was very much a people person – another way I wish I could have been more like her. She also enjoyed her quiet time, weeding her portulaca or pruning her bleeding heart.

MyMom3In the forty plus years since she passed away, I have learned more about her as a person. I have letters from friends in high school and her sense of humor was always evident. Pictures that have surfaced show her in a way I never imagined. I always knew she was full of life, but seeing her as a young woman with dreams of her own makes me wish so much we had been given the gift of an adult friendship to share. I know we would have been best friends.

Mom never got to see me as a wife, a mother or a grandmother. There would have been some tough talks along the way had she been there. When I made my stupid mistakes – she would not have shied away from those conversations. Mom wasn’t about hiding her feelings. All in all, however, I think she would have been proud of me. Especially today’s me. I hope she would realize that I attribute a lot of who I am to her and the lessons she taught me in those 19 short years we were together.

So how did this woman who seems to be my polar opposite impact who I am? This is a question I pondered for years and years for we are very different. Mom was a ‘you made your bed now you lie in it’ kind of mom on the surface. In actuality, she understood more than she ever let on. She taught me about honesty and speaking your truth, and doing what’s right. She taught me about being prepared to take care of myself should the need ever arise. She taught me how to exist in moments of silence and look my demons dead in the eye. She taught me about sacrifice. Most of all, she taught me about staying above the fray. That was a hard one and I admit I was not always successful at it, but her lessons are still engrained deep in my brain.

IMAG4468-1Moms never stop mothering – at least the good ones. I wish she had been there when my children were born. I wish I could have seen her rock my babies and sing to them. She taught me to sing the songs that would stay with them forever. The simple, easy songs. The ones that you never forget.

Down in the meadow in an itty bitty pool
Swam three little fishies and a Mama fish too
The Mama fish cried ‘now swim if you can’
And the ‘fam and they fam’ all over the dam.

I love you, Mom.

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The Making of Me – My Grandmothers

On this Mother’s Day, I began to think – Just how did I get here? It’s a very long story, genealogically, but for me, personally it started in the late 1800’s when my grandmothers were born.

I knew my paternal Grandmother as Mam-Maw, but her name was Bertha Rosetta Blevins Short. She had long gray hair that she always rolled into a bun at the back of her neck. Her home meant everything to her. She cared for it lovingly. She was a very meticulous woman and a staunch Christian. She was an amazing cook, loving grandmother and furiously loyal to her family;

My Grandmother ShortIt wasn’t until I started to dabble in photography that I discovered an old faded negative of her. Suddenly I saw her differently. She had rolled up jeans and her long hair was dark and cascading down around her shoulders. She looked fierce and fearless and oh so young! I realized that this woman I called Mam-Maw must have had a life before me that I would never know or understand. It would be one of the first photographs I would hand-color and one that I cherish the most.

We lived with our grandparents for a time and she was an amazing woman. She loved her family fiercely and her four noisy, rambunctious grandchildren were no exception. We were part of her tribe.

Country women work hard – gardening, canning, cleaning and weathering the storms of every day life. I learned so much about life and the importance of making a way for yourself that I will never forget. She sang when she worked and always had a way of producing some sort of delectable treat from literally nothing. She made an amazing one-egg cake with a black walnut, butter and brown sugar glaze that I would love to have ‘just one more time’.

Even with all the challenges she had in her life, she stayed a dedicated and honest Christian woman. Every day she read her Bible. I remember watching her underline meaningful passages – I have a Bible with which I tried to emulate her behavior – I think I underlined the entire New Testament!

Even now I can hear her playing a ukulele singing The Little Mohee or washing dishes singing Peace in the Valley. She wore platform heels, and a single strand of imitation pearls. She had hats with netted veils and was always immaculately dressed. It was from her I learned to always stay true to myself – a lesson I would forget at times but somehow I would always find my way back to those deep principles.

My Grandmother Swift

Granny was a different grandmother altogether. She grew up in Tennessee and was also a hard-working woman. She married my grandfather and joined him in the Philippines. There she would have her first child and carry back stories that I loved to hear over and over again. She was tough in my mind and I imagine she was always strong. My cousin recently shared this picture of her holding a monkey in the Philippines – it has also become one of my favorites because it allows me to see her differently.

Granny, Leita Effie Cole Swift, was a firecracker. She was strong and able and wise. She, too, was a strong Christian woman, but she carried it differently somehow – more matter-of-factly. Granny and Granddaddy lived on a farm and she, too, worked hard. She milked cows, raised tobacco, raised a garden and canned food for the winter months. She made the prettiest apple jelly I have ever seen – it was as clear as glass. She taught me to piece a ‘Gentleman’s Bow’ quilt because she said I was smart enough and capable enough to make my own quilt.

When I close my eyes, I see her sitting in a rocking chair by the window. Her gray hair is slipping out of its confines around her face. She is barefoot and reading a book – a definite Swift trait! She saw me through some tough times and always had a way of spinning a difficult situation into a positive viewpoint. For that I am forever grateful. She sat with me when my mother was in the last months of her life and helped me see my mother in a completely different light. I never once thought how hard it was for her to watch her own daughter suffer so much – because she was there for me.

But these two women are just a fraction of who I am – there is much more to come. Next up – my beloved mother.

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Multiple Facets of Mother’s Day

I have been blessed with the best mother anyone could ask for. She was tough and smart and matter-of-fact. I watched as she sacrificed and understood early what it meant to be a good mother. Watching her succumb to cancer was a different lesson all-together, and one unfortunately, many children have witnessed. My strong-willed mother became weak as she fought with everything she had to give. It would take years before I could handle Mother’s Day. I remember my first one without her and it was beyond painful. I was 20 years old, away from home in the Air Force and devastated. It had only been 8 months and coming to terms with her being gone was more than I could bear. Somehow, in some way, we find the ‘thing’ that pulls us forward in life. I think for me it was becoming a mother myself. I still cried for many Mother’s Days and birthdays that followed, but I was on my way to healing the wound that losing my mother left behind.

I am now a grandmother. I have been blessed with years that my mother never got to experience. I am reminded with every call, text, email and FB message how lucky I am. My sister, Rosie, passed away almost 7 years ago, and my sister, BJ, just last year. We talked almost every day when they were alive and in many ways, they were my mothers as well as my sisters. I know the heartache and the healing that lies ahead for their children and grandchildren, and I only pray they realize how fortunate they are to have had them for their mothers.

For the next generation of mothers in our family, I hope you learn things that it sometimes took me too long to master. The things like unconditional love for your children are easy. But I also hope you learn to step back when you should and step up even when you haven’t been asked. I hope you look hard in the mirror and understand your responsibility to try and heal what is broken. We all play a part in family and loving and forgiving are the fibers that weave motherhood together. I hope you always laugh hard at the things that could normally stress you out. I hope you learn to wipe the tears that you yourself have cried. I hope you lean on someone’s shoulder when you need to and lean in when your child loses their way. Most of all, remember you do not need to be superwoman. Rather, it’s much more important to be there. If you’re ‘too busy’ or ‘too stressed’ or ‘too tired’ your children will look elsewhere for what they do not get from you. I hope you are always, always proud of every accomplishment and of every lesson that losing teaches. We don’t always win and we don’t always lose. Mom always told me to look around – there is always someone who has more and there is always someone that has less than we do. When we feel that we are on the top or on the bottom, trouble lurks just around the corner.

My family is so beautifully diverse and blended. I am SO PROUD of each and every person in my family. We all come from different places with different experiences but we blend together beautifully. I hope it is always that way. Acceptance and understanding are huge parts of being a family. Maybe some of the most important parts.

I also hope you remember and honor from whence you came. Our family made sacrifices for generations just to get us all to this place. There were long hard lives and battles fought and tribulations overcome. But time is fleeting. What is today will not be tomorrow. Enjoy every moment and talk about where you come from. Give your children and your grandchildren the foundation of knowing where they come from. We all only live on if we are remembered. I hope I am remembered with kindness and forgiveness for the things I did not know and the mistakes I made. One thing I promise you, is that through it all, I loved you with everything I had to give. I hope you can do the same.

For those suffering loss today, I hope you find comfort in your memories. I hope you find the path to healing and reach out when it becomes too much to bear. We were never intended to walk through this life alone – and I guarantee that no mother in our family ever wanted to see their children sad or in pain.

On this Mother’s Day I am filled with joy. I come from strong examples of motherhood and mothering. I know those that came before me are honored to see their legacy in action. I do not worry about any of my grandchildren and granddaughter-on-the-way – for they have the BEST mothers. For my nieces and nephews who lost their moms, I know we never have enough time. Your moms want you immersed in JOY and loving your children fully just as they loved you. For my great-nieces and great-nephews, I love you to the moon and back again. For we are all one. One family, one heritage, one blood.

I AM SO PROUD OF ALL OF YOU!

Happy Mother’s Day.