Sunday, May 3, 2015

Today is my mother's day

You would think after 16 years, the ache would start to subside but for me, it just hasn’t happened.  The memories are vivid. It was a busy Monday morning and I was working as an assistant manager in a call center. I had just relieved my switchboard girl so she could go on a break so the call came in through the switchboard.

Caller: Can I speak to Shelli please?
Me: This is Shelli.
Caller: Shelli, this is your father and I have the news you never wanted to hear.
Me: Are you not coming to Florida? ( a visit had been planned for later in the month)
Caller: Shelli… your mother is dead.
Me: Who’s mother?

I don’t remember anything after that statement until about 20 minutes later when I came to my senses. From what I was told, I started screaming, management poured out of their offices to see what was happening. They picked me up and put me in someone’s office while they called my husband.  To this day, that is all a blank.

I quickly learned my mother had died of sleep apnea.  She died with her mask next to her head on her pillow. In the hours and days that followed, we made arrangements to have someone take over the HVAC business we owned and ran in Tallahassee, Fla. then headed to Richmond, VA for the funeral.  We flew into Richmond, stopped at a gas station to change clothes before we made our the funeral home.

It was surreal to see my mother lying in a casket. She didn't look sick or injured. She just looked asleep.  I was still in such a state of shock over her sudden death that I couldn't shake the feeling she was going to open her eyes any minute and give me that look that only a mother can give to her daughter.  My other vivid memory is some of the people that gathered at the wake were putting in a show of mourning and wailing but I knew they hadn't bothered to spend time with her in years so the relationship was almost non-existent.  For some reason, one woman in particular put photos of her grandkids (kids my mother had never seen and been introduced to) in the casket with my mother. This woman hadn’t spoken to my mother in 20 years! I was filled with fury that they were using her funeral to make themselves look caring and I decided to do something about it. In that moment, I became the matriarch of the family.  When they closed the casket, she was buried with Mother’s Day cards from my brothers and me, flowers from my father and that was it.

My mother had a rough childhood and it made her a hard person to get to know on a personal level.  Like everyone else, she had issues but hers were amplified.  However, her trials also taught her some key character traits that she passed on to me and I carry them to this day.  Here is what I learned from her:

  1. Perfection isn't achievable but you should always strive for it.  Her theory was you can always improve so push yourself beyond what you believe you are capable of doing.
  2. “Idle hands are a devils workshop”.  The woman believed in keeping us busy. Between chores and sports and church-related activities, we didn't have time to get into trouble.
  3. Traditions keep family memories alive. Our family story is filled to the brim with traditions, especially around the holidays. 
  4. A woman should always smell good. Mom LOVED Avon products and from my earliest memories, she would buy me their perfume pins. I have been wearing perfume since I was 5 years old.  I may not always put on makeup but I am ALWAYS wearing perfume.
  5. Look past the hard shell of the person to see the broken person inside… and learn to love them THERE. 

Because of my mother, I love parades, over pack for trips (Mom: “It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it”), am very patriotic, enjoy reading, love to surprise people with tokens of my appreciation, hold on fiercely to the family heirlooms that have been passed down to me,  take lots of pictures at family gatherings,  make homemade chicken and dumplings on snow days,  watch The Wizard of OZ every year,  love to watch sports, believe in good sportsmanship during athletic events  and clean my house from top to bottom BEFORE I go on a trip.

My mother loved God, had big dreams and loved girly things i.e. jewelry and perfume.  She refused to budge on her beliefs and would work until she dropped to achieve her goals.  Sound familiar? It should. I am my mother’s daughter.

In honor of  Phyllis Stewart Tench

August 11th, 1942 – May 3rd, 1999

Sunday, October 27, 2013

It's time for a change!

I am tired.

And overweight.

And achy.

And miserable.

I’m tired of being tired… and overweight… and achy… and miserable. I'm exhausted but I don't sleep well. I need to exercise and lose weight but I have no drive. I have many of the symptoms of perimenopause. I feel older than I am and I hate it.

So I've decided to do something about it.

My friend, Heather Sefreid, owns Preston Chiropractic and Acupuncture and she has convinced me to try her Standard Process PurificationProgram as a kickstart to my “Taking my health back” campaign.
Since Kevin has his own set of ailments that plague him, he has decided to join me on this journey. This is a huge step for him and us. My husband is a self-proclaimed Pepsi addict and we cannot consume caffeine on this cleanse. As a matter of fact, we can only drink water and green tea and juices made from the fruits and veggies on our list. I came off caffeine a couple of days ago. Kevin was still pounding Pepsi yesterday. 

Today is going to be FUN! L

Before beginning our cleanse, we went to see Dr. Heather and she ran some initial test. Turns out I'm having gallbladder issues and my adrenalines were at a critical level. Kevin is anemic and has circulatory issues.  

To prepare, I went to the store and stocked up on the fruit and veggies that are on the list.

We've been given several tips to help us through these next 21 days:
  1. Plan the meals/shakes in advance and prepare the necessary ingredients ahead of time
  2. Don't let yourself get hungry. If you start feeling empty, put something from the list in your stomach.
  3. Expect the first three days to be the hardest, especially for caffeine addicts.
  4. You get to add lean meat on day 11.
  5. After 21 days, you can eat what you want but most tend to take what they've learned during the cleanse and carry it through their life.
  6.  Most women lose at least 15 lbs. and most men lose at least 20 lbs. during these 21 days
  7. And so it begins. I will be blogging every day about our food choices and about the effects. i.e. how we're feeling, what we ate, etc.

We welcome you to follow our journey! 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

My Aha! moment

I remember, as a young junior at Tennessee Temple Academy, being disillusioned with the tenets that dominated our particular brand of denominationalism - the independent fundamental Baptist church sect. There were all do's & don'ts and no love. One was supposed to KNOW that God loved them because, after all... He sent His son to die for us. To question any part of anything you were told was to surely bring a judgment of fire and brimstone to your eternal soul. Good thing I don't scare easy.

I remember sitting in Dan Spencer's theology class, full of frustration and disappointment as another leader in our church came tumbling down as they succumb to the desires of their flesh. I decided to bite the bullet. I raised my hand and asked THE one question we were NEVER supposed to utter. I said, "Mr. Spencer... how do you really know Christianity is the way to heaven? We believe that because we were raised in it. But the Jews feel the same way about their beliefs. And so do the Muslims. And the Hindus. And every other form of religion out there. How do you know we aren't just being brainwashed?"

Had I asked this of any other teacher, I probably would have been expelled on the spot. As soon as I said the words, the tension in the room increased measurably. Fortunately, I had a father that believed it was healthy, nay wise, to question things we didn't understand, so he would have supported my decision to question this. Also fortunately, Mr. Spencer LOVED inquisitive minds and encouraged us to ask these questions.

Mr. Spencer looked at me and smiled and said, "Good question". He then answered it with a short lesson in the history of Christianity and how we can know Jesus actually walked this earth and did the things recorded in the Bible. He also talked about other religions iconic leaders and how history records their lives and actions. There is no question that Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammad existed. So how do we know Jesus is really our Savior? He wrapped it up with the simplest and yet most profound answer. He said, "Shelli, our God is the only one that defeated death when HE rose from the grave".

That hit me like a ton of bricks. Please understand I had heard this most of my childhood so this was not a  new revelation to me but it was the first time it hit me personally. Those other leaders were great men that did great things but Jesus actually defeated death when He rose from the grave.

That moment was my Aha! moment in my religious beliefs. I knew I would not stay in that denomination once I was free to make that decision for myself. I knew there were still a lot of things I questioned regarding the things I was taught. But I also knew I had found a fact that I could cling to as my foundation.

My God defeated death and rose from the grave so that I may have eternal life.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Belk Bowl

I am a NC State student. This means I hold my head high, howl loud and proud, and flash the Wolfpack hand sign. I bleed red 'n'white. I go to football games, sit in the student section and participate in every chant, every wave, every song. I was elated when my Michigan born-n-bred fiance' wore his NCSU t-shirt to the NC State vs. Central Michigan game. I was smug and sassy when we beat UNC FOR THE 5TH YEAR IN A ROW! Ok.. I'm still smug and sassy about that fact. And the very last game of the season... when we came back and beat Maryland... I was so full of Wolfpack pride, I wore red and white every day the next week. Today I found out NC State was going to the Belk Bowl. I rushed to the website to check on tickets and when I clicked on the "individual tickets" link, this is the page I saw:

My first reaction was shock. Of all the teams they could have chosen to put on their site, they chose our arch rivals? Are you kidding me? My next response was to vocalize my frustrations. I am a social media strategist. I own a company that specializes in assisting companies and organizations with their web presence and communications.  So I did what all social media geeks do. I took my grievance to Twitter. I found the Belk Bowl on Twitter and fired off this Tweet:

   Shelli Mayfield 
Hey ... I'm a  fan. I went to ur pg to buy individual tickets for this bowl & u have the TARHEELS as the pic! WTH? 

Clearly the Belk Bowl understands the power of social media because within 20 minutes I got this response:

 Belk Bowl 
  The site features photos from all past games but we've updated it just for you. Better?

I immediately went back to the website and to my delight, the header on the page had been changed to this:

I am a happy girl. I am happy because my beloved Wolfpack is going to a bowl game. I am happy that in this day and age of corporate management and technology overload, we have a way to communicate with organizations on a much more intimate level than previous generations ever thought possible. Most of all, I am happy the Belk Bowl is wise enough to embrace these technologies, heard my distress and came riding up on their white stallion to save the day. 

Thank you to the social media team for the Belk Bowl.

GO WOLFPACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Unanswered questions...

There is something that has been bothering me since Penn State child abuse scandal story broke. Why didn't MikeMcQueary call the police the minute he saw Jerry Sandusky raping a 10-year old boy in the shower at Penn State? The same question goes out to James Calhoun, the janitor that saw Sandusky performing oral sex on a child before that. They reported the incident to their superiors?!?! Are you kidding me? I want to know more about their actions and why isn't there more of an outcry about this. Did they stop the rapes, and if not, why not? Did they get medical attention for the children , and if so, why didn't the doctor report it? I have this mental image of them peeking around a corner and seeing these horrific situations and then running off to tattle rather than intervening and confronting Sandusky. I could be wrong. I HOPE I am wrong. But the evidence speaks for itself. The public is in an uproar about the cover-up at Penn State and rightly so BUT the reality is that situation would have never occurred had these men done the right thing the moment they saw the abuse occuring.

Do I think Joe Paterno deserved to be fired? HELL YES! Actually, I think he should be brought up on charges for failing to report it to the authorities. That also applies to anyone else that had even the faintest whiff of knowledge that children where being abused and did nothing to report it to the authorities.  I don't care who you are and what title you hold. If you see anyone being abused – i.e. child abuse, bullying, domestic abuse, etc – and you don't intervene on the behalf of the victim, you are just as guilty as the perpetrator.

The final straw for me was the reaction of Penn State fans when Paterno was fired. You rioted in the streets?! I can't even begin to express my disgust that this much emotion was reserved for a leader that failed to protect innocent children. I bet these same people participated in the Occupy Movement. It is time for our society to stop worshipping men and things and power and to get back to the basics. We need a lesson in honor and integrity and morality. We need to learn to stand up for what is right, no matter what the cost. We need character.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hitting the road with Run Geordie Run

Nothing strikes fear in the heart of a parent more than hearing the words,“We're not sure if your child will survive”. This is an emotion I know all too well. On April 9th, 1993, my youngest child made his way into the world. He didn't do it kicking and screaming. He wasn't even breathing. Levi was born 12 weeks premature due to complications I was experiencing related to toxemia. These complications had become lethal and the only way to spare my life was to bring my son into the world way too early.

 I can vividly remember the doctor explaining the pro's and con's of whether to risk my son's life to spare my own or to take the chance and see what happened in order to buy him more precious time within the womb. The decision to deliver my son early was aided by the fact that he was born at T C Thompson Children's Hospital at Erlanger in Chattanooga, TN. This hospital is supported, in part, by The Childrens Miracle Network. This organization raises funds that enables the hospital to provide lifesaving medical care to patients like my son. Because of others generosity, my son not only survived his traumatic birth, he has thrived and grown into a strong, tall, handsome 18-yr old young man.

When I discovered the Run Geordie Run organization, the thing that pulled me in was the fact he is running to raise funds for The Childrens Foundation (Charity No. 1000013). They are England's version of The Childrens Miracle Network and once I figured that out, I was sold. This was my chance to “pay forward” the debt of gratitude I felt for my son's life being spared. I volunteered to assist Mark in his public relation efforts because I go to North Carolina State University and am majoring in PR. Mark gladly accepted my offer and an alliance was formed.

As the run was about to begin, I decided to fly out to California and meet Mark and the first members of the support team, make sure he had what he needed to get started and help him acclimate to the USA in general. The original plan was for me to be with him in CA from the time he got off the plane until the end of the first official day of the run. Then I was going to meet up with him in Las Vegas for some PR appearances, then again in Columbus, Ohio to attend my first NUFC match and finally, I would be at the finish line in NYC when he ran up the pier in Coney Island. This whole plan changed in the few days we spent in CA. He needed me to be a part of the support team until the end and I knew that was were I was supposed to be this summer, so I went home, took care of the things I needed to take care of and 3 weeks later, I rejoined the team permanently.

Not long after my return to the crew, Mark asked me if I wanted to do some miles with him. I was shocked and started laughing. You see, I am not a marathon runner. I tore the ACL in my right knee in November. I have arthritis in my knees and toes and a bone spur in my right heel. To say that I don't have the body of a gym rat is an understatement. When I politely refused his offer and reminded him I wasn't a runner, he reminded me I could walk and asked me to see how far I could walk with him. It gave him some company during his cooling down time and it would be great exercise for me. I agreed and off we went. The first day, we walked 2 miles and I was so tired afterward that I went right to sleep as soon as we got back to the RV.

That first time out was a little over a month ago. These days, weather and traffic permitting, I hit the road with him every day, sometimes twice a day. I have gone from collapsing in exhaustion after a 2 miles walk to putting in 9 miles with him yesterday and upon returning to the RV, I cooked dinner and did laundry with no thought of  being tired, etc. I am losing weight, getting a tan and most importantly, I am forming a bond with a man that I now look upon as a brother. But somewhere along the way, I decided this needed to be more than about me. So I joined Team Run Geordie Run. This is a group of individuals that are doing various things to help Mark reach his fund raising goals. We each have our own justgiving page but all funds are counted towards Mark's target for the charities. My charity of choice is The Childrens Foundation because I want to do what I can to help other parents that are facing the same fear I did when my son's life was at risk.

So far, I have put in 34 miles with Mark and I am going to continue walking as many miles as possible until the end of the run. I hope to actually be running with him by the time he reaches NYC. It would be a great motivation if I could get my fund raising for The Childrens Foundation to take off. To date, I have only had one donation but I am sure there will be more. It is important to note that by giving through my justgiving page, it doesn't take away from Mark's fund raising efforts. It enhances them since all donations get funneled into the same account and sent straight to the the charity.

If you would like to support my walks with Mark and help us reach our goal of £25,000 (that's $39872.47 for us Americans) go to:

Friday, June 24, 2011

showers are for wimps...

I am a planner and an organizer. This summer I am learning those skills mean everything and nothing. Right now, I am sitting in an RV that is parked along the side of the road on Route 36 somewhere between Atwood and Norton, KS. The planner in me had already called ahead to the Prairie Dog State Park in Norton, KS. and made arrangements to camp there for the night. What that would have meant was hot showers for the crew and an environment conducive to this lifestyle. But alas... it was not meant to be.

You see, I am traveling as a member of the support team for Mark Allison aka Run Geordie Run. Our ultimate goal every night is not to find the best campground or RV park. Our goal is to find the safest and cheapest (preferably free) place to stay that is as close as possible to the point Mark stopped running that night. We strive for this for two reasons... #1 – we are not on vacation and it is important to remember that. We are here to work and to work hard for St Benedict's Hospice (Charity No. 1019410) and The Children's Foundation (Charity No. 1000013. We do this by providing support for Mark in whatever form that requires. The other reason we live like gypsies is because Mark is funding the cost of this run out of his own pocket. He sold his car and cashed in his savings to pay for the RV and RV essentials such as gas, dumping/water/propane charges and camping fee's when necessary. I will be the first one to tell you that when I go to Mark and tell him I need a night in a place that provides showers and full hook-ups, he is more than happy to provide that for me. In exchange, I make sure I do all of his laundry ( and the rest of the crews) while we are there.

Mark is good to me so I want to return the favor by doing everything I can do to help him save money. If this means that on days like today, when he simply could not go on and I had to make the decision to either drive to the state park and then drive back to this point in the morning OR sleep on the side of the road next to a wheat field in the middle of Kansas in order to save the money we would have spent on gas... the choice was easy. The girl inside of me that rivals Monica Gellar's organizing skills is learning to let go and just let life unfold. Who needs a shower anyway? A thunderstorm is headed this way. Maybe I'll just go dance in the rain. :-)