“Stop Setting Yourself On Fire To Keep Others Warm.” Penny Reid

This past week has been emotionally exhausting. Thursday at Harris Hospital, Virginia didn’t even recognize me. I was crushed. Shocked. Heartbroken.

After nearly 37 years since we first met when I was a contract employee at CSC working in Security, Virginia was the mother figure I had never had. Saying goodbye to her will also be the hardest experience of loss I’ve endured in this lifetime.

TDCJ Scheduled and Confirmed dates so far are June 8- Jester 3. June 9- Allred Unit. June 15- Jordan Unit. July 20- Robertson Unit.

Federal Clients- Please be aware that pre Covid guidelines have been lifted. Contact weddings are in place. Wedding rings valued at less than $100 are allowed. Currently, no guests are allowed.

ICE- No guests are allowed. Covid guidelines are still in place.

County- Tarrant County is still not allowing mobile notaries unless accompanied by an attorney. Parker County will not notarized absentee affidavits for inmates in federal custody.

All other counties- there are no further issues I’m aware of. If you encounter issues, contact me.

With Virginia dying and while trying to clean out the condo I bought and furnished, as usual, my niece, Stephaney yet again chose the worst POSSIBLE time SHE COULD to CHOOSE to relapse.

Addicts don’t care. I know you’re reading this Stephaney and probably too high to understand it BUT goodbye. You made your choice.

For the first time in 17 years I thought and believed I had YOU finally stable. The moment I used the money YOU had given me every few days to keep you from blowing it on drugs in order for you to save up to buy a car for 6 months, YOU went straight to your dealer and were off the rails on meth YET again.

Don’t call me Steph. I have nothing and I mean nothing to say to you. I will not help you again other than to buy a bus ticket to CA. Go be homeless in Venice Beach.

I’ve devoted 17 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars for YOUR treatment, bonds and more for you to trying to save you WHILE also financially helping Cindy raise the twins with NO child support whatsoever from you or that idiot, Michael Wayne Scherer Jr and I’m officially DONE. Your MOM is done too. Leave us alone.

Addicts are sociopaths. They are completely devoid of empathy and compassion for family members that their behavior victimizes. If you disagree with this statement, you either don’t have a family member with addiction issues who HAS destroyed any degree of normality in YOUR life OR you are an addict yourself. I hate drugs. I especially cannot tolerate addicts.

For over a year now, my niece, YOU Stephaney have been living at group home. The rent is $650 a month. It’s about 7-9 minutes from my West Fort Worth home. The group home isn’t in the luxurious neighborhood I live in. You “hate living with 8-10 other women. You want your own apartment. You wanted a car. You. You. You.”

They don’t have group home’s in Westover Hills. Group homes aren’t in $600-900k neighborhoods.

You didn’t like the location of the Group Home. Too bad. You had nowhere else to go. I would think after being homeless, in jail or in a psych ward 17 times during a two year window while trying to find you a job that you would appreciate having a place to live that someone else (your mother and I) were paying for. But nope not you. You never appreciate anything. You wouldn’t know TRUE sacrifice if it slapped you in the face. Sociopaths have no idea what sacrifice is.

I paid YOUR rent for months. I looked everywhere to find you a job. I drove you to AND from Jason’s until you started acting crazy and got fired again from using. Yes I called Angela at the Group Home to have you committed and dried out again. Not Cindy. Me. I did this to keep you from getting kicked out and dry you out. You are a stark raving lunatic on meth. Ask anyone. Ask coworkers at Jason’s or the other great job I got FOR you at Lucilles you screwed up. You think no one knows when you are using. EVERYONE KNOWS.

Then I find you a job at Charlestons where you were making more money than you did at Jason’s. Enough to pay a few months of your own rent for the FIRST time in your 34 year life.

Your mother and I were paying our own rent at 16 years old. Not in a beautiful neighborhood either. In a very dangerous area because we couldn’t afford a nice apartment in a nice area. Do you know what? We were thankful to have running water and a roof over our heads back then you EVEN though WE COULD not afford electricity for the THREE YEARS we lived there you ungrateful jackass.

You’re welcome you never appreciate anything. You never have and you never will. You care about getting high more than anything else in your life. You could have been married. You could have had a normal life. You could have SPARED this entire family from your destructive choices and yet over and over you have hurt us. We are sick and tired of your sociopathic tendencies, name calling and never accepting responsibility for your own actions.

I’ve drove you to work or let you use my Uber App when you got that job at Charlestons since you suddenly considered yourself “too good” to ride the bus. I worked so damn hard to get you at that upscale restaurant.

You have been fired from nearly every other restaurant in Fort Worth AND Weatherford for acting crazy on meth. You did that. We didn’t. We have screamed, cried and begged you to stay clean. You have consistently chosen not to do so.

A year and half ago BEFORE your two years back on the streets homeless and whacked out, you DELIBERATELY lied and said you were never using again. Cindy and I had as usual just picked you up from yet another psych ward “stint” because your behavior on meth leads police to believe you are crazy rather than high and experiencing meth induced psychosis.

You lied all the way to that apartment and then snuck off through the apartment complex after YOU lied to Cindy and I telling us YOU needed rent money to and that you were planned and were going to apply at Mexican Inn the following day and THEN you ran off with the rent money we GAVE to you in good faith choosing to be a homeless drug addict.

I cannot believe what you put us through over and over and over. My health has suffered. Cindys health has suffered and not one but both your twin daughters have attempted suicide BECAUSE OF YOU.

Not that you would care but since Cindy gave up on you during that 2 year window of you running off with the so called “rent money” we gave to you, Cindy wasn’t looking for you I was.

Cindy even told our dear friend, Sherri that “she was lucky her meth addicted son died sparing her ALL of the shit that we have been through trying to save you and MEANT IT.”

Sherri was shocked but Sherri hasn’t been through 17 years of this crap. She only had one year of it.

Your mother told me not to look for you but I refused to give up. I spent those 2 years searching for YOU when I wasn’t working in very dangerous areas.

Your mom spent those two years crying and heartbroken not knowing if you were dead or alive WHILE trying to act normal and raise your kids you selfish fuck.

When I did find YOU, you were out of YOUR mind AND living in a cardboard box. The police had called me because I gave up trying to find you myself and finally filed a missing persons report.

Fort Worth PD actually told me “not to try and come get you because you were out of your mind on meth.” YET Fort Worth PD also refused to take you to the JPS psych ward because they knew you were NOT out of your mind AND/OR mentally ill but instead high on meth. They left your ass in that box. I should have listenned to them and soared subjecting myself AND your daughter finding you that day. I wish I had.

You may have forgotten that night while living in a cardboard box that I had your daughter, Maryssa in my suv seeing you like that. Screaming and crawling out of that box COMPLETELY out of your mind. You wouldn’t go to treatment. We BOTH begged you. Even the police wouldn’t transfer you to the psych ward.

Have you ever wondered why Maryssa was with me? She was with me because she TRULY believed that if I found you that if she was with me that SHE could convince you to go into treatment. You screamed at your own daughter that you were Jesus Christ and she was Satan.

Do you THINK any of us have forgotten the things you’ve done and said to hurt us? News flash- we haven’t. We can’t. We never will.

I went back to that GD box every day I wasn’t traveling to meet clients to look for you and drop off food and clothing for a solid month. You never went back after you were found there. A month later, rather than you living in that bud and benefitting from everything I had left there thinking it was for you crying and humiliated, a man crawled out of that box instead.

Go be homeless somewhere, anywhere. I don’t want to find you shadow boxing light poles and acting stupid on Camp Bowie. The twins are terrified that you will show up in Weatherford and embarrass them at Cindy’s. Don’t. Cindy WILL call the police.

I spent 2 years when not working paying homeless people I showed your photo’s to trying to find you. TWO YEARS.

I wish I had left you in Oklahoma and let you do the 10-20. I wish I had. Getting you probation was the stupidest thing I have ever done. Those 3 years were the only time in your adult life you were “normal.” Your children wouldn’t care what a maniac you are on drugs if they had NOT seen you off meth for those 3 years you were on paper and follicles. Go to prison. I wish you had failed those Damn hair follicles to spare all of us getting back on meth LESS than 24 hours after your probation removed hair follicles.

Meanwhile Cindy was struggling with high blood pressure and hypertension because of YOU. Cindy nearly died because I was trying to get you back in treatment when you got off that bus in Oklahoma we put you on to get you to treatment so we could go to work and then you called us to drive 6 hours one way to take you to rehab ourselves. You selfish POS. You NEVER once considered what you have put us through. Not ONE TIME.

We hate your screaming phone calls. We now record them. Why? Because we are going to call the police and stop you from terrorizing us with them and film from our house cameras to prove you are a threat to yourself and others.

My neighbors thought I was crazy or a fanatic for installing those 16 cameras “in this neighborhood.” I knew I would need them with an out of control meth addict coming over here with a hammer. Were you planning to kill your #1 enabler. You know, ME?

The Fort Worth house is a compound of self defense. Don’t bring a hammer to a gun fight MF. You know damn well I know how to protect myself and my home AND I will.

Do you have any idea what seeing your OWN mother whacked out of their minds does to children? Tammy, Cindy and I do. Jerry was too young.

Maryssa will never forget seeing you crawling out of that box like a lunatic clawing at us like a monster.

We have tried to protect the twins from YOU. The very same children Cindy and I did everything humanly possible to give THEM the stable childhood WE didn’t have that you kept screwing up over and over and over with your outrageous and dangerous behavior.

No you don’t care and I doubt you EVER will care either. The only thing you care about is your next fix. You are the most selfish SOB I’ve ever encountered in my entire life OTHER than MY OWN MOTHER.

During that two years of you being homeless and strung out where Cindys heart was literally breaking in Parker County, I found you once again while trying to find you (as usual) in my “off time.” Do you know what it’s like trying to find a maniac on meth to convince them to get help? I DO.

That day I saw you walking down Calmont waiving your hands around and talking to yourself would be the last time I wasted my time looking for you.

While I was wasting my time looking for you, crying my eyes from weariness and frustration along with my determination to fix you, AGAIN I begged you to go into treatment. BEGGED. You screamed at me and called me names and told me you hated me. I hate you. I hate everything you’ve taken from me, my sister and this family. Cindy was right. Sherri was lucky.

If my other readers don’t know OR can’t understand what it’s like trying to save an addict WHILE raising their twin daughters for nearly 17 years, SPARE me your judgment about my language OR my transparency.

For everyone else who has lived through the nightmare of loving and trying to save an addict, I’m sure you can relate.

Someone I loved is NOW dying. The closest thing to a mother figure I have ever known doesn’t even recognize me. At the very same time- someone ELSE that I HAVE tried to save over and over, YOU Stephaney have YET AGAIN betrayed my trust for the last time. I will never “help” you by enabling you AGAIN Stephaney.

Stephaney, I wish you were in prison. I wish I hadn’t saved you from prison in Oklahoma. I wish when I was trying to send you to what I thought was a treatment center in Georgia that when you were arrested on a revoked bond in Oklahoma at the Dallas Greyhound bus station where I was relieved we were going to get you out of Texas that you decided to get into a fist fight at after we left that the Dallas PD had taken you back to Oklahoma.

I wish I hadn’t paid that damn bond because I was so determined to get a year of treatment in another state and a year of your crap away from this family. You destroy everything. EVERYTHING.

I finally got you on that bus out of Texas and a week later YOU were back here terrorizing us AGAIN. ONE WEEK? All that money spent?

The amount of money I’ve “spent” trying to save YOU is staggering at nearly half a million dollars over these last 17 years but the financial pain coupled with the emotional abuse and many other things that YOU have done to this family are equally emotionally debilitating.

I can’t go through this again with YOU and I won’t.

Stephaney you gave your mother high blood pressure and heart attacks. I nearly lost my twin. The only time in 17 years that you have ever been clean was when you were on paper from Oklahoma that REQUIRED hair follicle testing. The minute they removed hair follicles you were right back on meth and right back to abusing, harassing and stalking us AND the twins.

Stephaney-have literally abused this entire family for 17 years. Go away. I don’t care where.

Your daughters have both attempted suicide OVER YOUR CHOICE to start using. Makenna will permanently suffer with heart damage and Serotonin Syndrome BECAUSE YOU CHOSE METH after those damn hair follicles were removed from the conditions of your probation.

That 3 years of sobriety earned the twins trust only for you to destroy it and leave those two innocent children blaming themselves and attempting suicide you piece of shit! I hate you.

How DARE you lead us and your own children to believe YOU would never get back on meth by lying to all of us that you would never use again during that three year window of probation that required hair follicles? Fuck you.

Last Friday after months of saving your money for you from that good paying job at Charleston,s that I found FOR you WHILE juggling my 4 businesses and client’s. You wouldn’t EVEN bother to find a job on your own. I had to do it for you.

THEN after months of paying all of your expenses for you after yet another expensive “stint” in treatment, you got into that $5k car and took off.

You didn’t even bother to let me take you or follow to go find insurance. You were too hellbent on finding meth again you psychotic bitch.

No thank you for the many months and nearly a year of helping to pay your rent, give you rides to work, find you a job not once but three times in 3 years because you started using at the other job and got fired again. No thank you for the cigarettes, meals, treatment facilities or YOUR coffee WHILE driving you to and from work everyday when I wasn’t out of town or the state working my events while you yelled “I’m not riding the bus anymore give me access to Uber.” You are the most entitled and demanding little shit that I’ve ever encountered.

Do you HAVE ANY idea how hard it is to walk into a prison or venue acting normal AND happy for MY clients with your mom and daughters crying because you are yet again terrorizing this family?

Do you know I worry every time I travel that you will show up at our houses or our friends houses OR how embarrassing our neighbors seeing you acting crazy is to US or your children?!!!! How expensive it is to fix kicked in doors? Holes punched in our walls? Covering deductibles because you’ve stolen our cars, credit cards and checks WHILE raising your twin daughters and paying medical expenses over and over again at Mesa Springs for the twins because of your behavior? What about the treatments I’ve paid over and over and over for your sorry ass?

Stephaney, you are the most selfish son of a bitch I’ve ever encountered other than my own mother who was also a piece of shit.

The difference between you and OUR MOTHER is that YOU never had THE opportunity to SELL your children to YOUR dealer for $50 each like OUR MOTHER did to her FOUR CHILDREN. Do you know why YOU NEVER had the opportunity? Because I paid an attorney $20k to get custody of them and protect them from YOU your addiction.

We SAVED the twins from YOU. Stop saying we STOLE the TWINS from you. Idiot. You couldn’t take care of those kids for ten minutes.

Do you have any idea how much raising twins costs? Braces? Staying in expensive mental institutions because they’ve seen you acting crazy and screaming she is Jesus Christ? Again, fuck you.

Our FB friends message Cindy and I constantly when YOU are off her meds and back on meth. “I saw Stephaney shadow boxing a light pole near El Fenix in Camp Bowie.” We BOTH tell them all to “call the police.”

Do you know how much money Cindy and I have spent buying “psyche ward friendly” clothing FOR YOU over and over and over. JPS would release you. You would start using again and get institutionalized again. We would buy more psych ward friendly clothing. Wear what they have we aren’t bringing you ANYTHING ever again in the nut house. We aren’t EVER coming to visit again and we aren’t ever helping you again. Help yourself MF.

I’m surprised as hell that I haven’t had a nervous breakdown or heart attack myself! Stephaney- 17 times at the nut house in a 3 year window AND consistently losing all of the shit we bought for YOU over and over?! You are outrageous. OUTRAGEOUS.

Guess what you selfish narcissist, WHILE we were running and buying psych ward friendly clothing and cigarettes “because you could smoke at Sundance,” we were ALSO running to Mesa Springs where the twins were being treated for suicidal ideation because of YOU. Then we had to drive on to Wellbridge where dad was because he shot up his roof thinking someone was living in the attic.

You have NO IDEA the shit we have been through because of you AND dad. To Hell with both of you. Burn in Hell.

FOUR of our own family members in NUT HOUSES at the same time? TWO of you THAT we didn’t give a shit about were BOTH YOU and our DAD.

Yet Cindy and I were running to AND from our work and nut houses for a month while you and dad were committed at the same time as the twins.

Thanks for destroying nearly 20 years of our lives we can never get back. You life ruining bastard. You have no idea of the glass you have drug US and your children through.

Cindy’s neighbors don’t even talk to her BECAUSE your dumb ass antics that have forced us to call the police over and over and over again have embarrassed the entire family over there.

Walking back and forth across Cindy’s roof screaming you were Jesus as we rolled into the driveway with Makenna hanging her head in shame and running into the house after hours of STAAR testing to keep from seeing you YET AGAIN out of your mind on Meth terrorizing Cindy, the twins, Leigh Ann and baby Maddy? Your sister can never forgive you for the things you have said, done and taken from her. Neither can my son. Don’t call Leigh Ann or Robert. They are done too. Unlike you they have families and a normal life. Leave them alone.

Cindy and I survived the shittiest childhood ever. That’s right I said said survived. As you are well aware, our mother was the most miserable excuse for a human being I’ve ever encountered UNTIL YOU. Don’t give me your guilt trip B.S. ever again about how hard your life was because drug dealers beat you up.

Hey Steph- STOP bring stupid and blaming others BECAUSE you put yourself in those situations not us.

I never thought I could hate anyone as much as I hate our mom. But you changed that. After selling all 4 of her children for $50 each to her Heroin dealer who (not knowing what to do with us), locked us in a closet together for 7-12 days starving and urinating and crying in the dark. There was a latch on the outside of that door making it impossible for us to leave on our own. No one was looking for us. The smells alerted other neighbors to what they believed was a dead body which turned out to be 10 year old Tammy our step sister, 6 year old twins (Cindy and I) and two year old Jerry our baby brother. Cindy had cried so hard and so long out of fear and hunger that she required an emergency hernia surgery. We survived. We never used drugs because we hated drugs. You and your stupid choices have forced us to endure a childhood AND an adulthood of dealing with a piece of shit addict. I can’t wait for our mother to die so I can stop using the energy it takes to hate her for her choices.

You HAVE rarely heard me talk about “the rest of my family” because I don’t have anything good and much less positive to say. Our father didn’t want three children while grandma Tinney adopted and saved Tammy.

Our father wanted to drink and party so he left us with his father who once Tammy was safely out of the picture, began sexually abusing my twin sister and I just as he had Tammy. No one protected us from grandpa. No one. Not dad, not grandma not aunt Shirley. No one would save us. We RAN to save ourselves.

When Cindy and I ran away at 15, baby brother Jerry was left behind. Poor Jerry alone with a wicked stepmother and a violent father. Every time I hear “oh what a lonely boy” I think of our baby brother and I cry.

You wanna know where Cindy and I came from? We ran from the gates of Hell that you and your behavior drug us right back into.

The police found Cindy and I eating out of a trash can behind 7-11 at 15 years old and took us to the shelter. We were thankful to be off the streets but nothing you. You love being homeless you idiot.

I was pregnant after being raped and lost the baby shortly thereafter. We lived at Womens Haven for about a year before a church donated us a car.

We also lived in that car for another year taking births baths at area gas stations until we could save up to rent an apartment. Cindy and I both lied about our ages to get waitress jobs to keep from starving. Cindy was followed home one night while I was working late at Red Lobster. She worked at IHOP. These two men pushed her into the apartment and raped then assaulted her. I came home to find my bloody and battered twin sister on the living room floor beside the $10 sofa we had tied to the top of our donated car to bring home and have somewhere to sit. She never saw their faces. Stephaney you have no fucking idea where we have been, what we have been through OR what we have survived. You selfish idiot.

Your sister, Leigh Ann is the child of that rape. We didn’t even know Cindy was pregnant until a car hit us and she was told she was pregnant in the ER. This shocking development was a deal between us. I had lost a baby she had gained one. We would raise her together and forget how she got here. We would also “midnight move” from our dark apt in the middle of the night to an all bills paid apt about 3 miles away.

Never once did our father, grandmother or aunt offer to help us in any way. We had no one. Only each other. You have always had Cindy and I. You don’t anymore. You are dead to us.

You have stolen everything you could from this family. You had no excuses. You didn’t live our shitty childhood. You weren’t abused. You never went hungry. We raised all of you as a team. Even when you were screwing around and got pregnant, we weren’t upset. We would deal with it. We would financially handle it.

We didn’t ask you for anything other than to be a decent human being and get off drugs. PERIOD. That’s it. Their entire lifetime you have been a fucked up out of control lunatic on drugs. Cindy and I were all you had left. I refused to give up on you but NO MORE. Go away. Far away.

My first husband was violent as was your mothers. We didn’t even know or realize that violence wasn’t normal. We had grown up in very violent and abusive conditions. But once we did it was too late. Cindy was pregnant with YOU.

You (according to your Deadbeat dad, Larry Mahaney) were “supposed to be a boy.”

Your miserable excuse of a father never forgave Cindy for having a girl and within 2 years had another entire family.

Cindy was visiting me in San Clemente with you and Leigh Ann when a message on my home recorder from Larry stated “don’t bother coming home. There’s nothing left here. None of the girls clothes or toys, none of your personal items. Nothing. You should have had a boy.”

Leigh Ann was always a good baby. You never were. You were fussy and by 6 acting in a violent fashion towards your sister and my son. We couldn’t find out why until you were diagnosed as bipolar AND absolutely refused to take your medication.

Your sorry sack of shit father, Larry “skirted” child support by non servicing Cindy of the court date and claiming to have custody of YOU.

Your mother has raised NOT one but TWO generations of children with no child support whatsoever. I AM a workaholic BECAUSE I’m the only one other than her husband who had always taken care of Cindy, you, Leigh Ann and the twins financially and emotionally.

You DON’T KNOW hardship or sacrifice. You never have. Save that “sorry” shit for another sucker. Sorry is a word I would love to never hear again.

By 14 or 15, you were hanging with a rough crowd. By 15.5, she you were pregnant with twins. By 16 you were on meth “to control your weight.”

Had I not hired an attorney, the state would’ve taken the twins.

Cindy and I SAVED the twins at 40 years old. Stop saying we stole them you stupid ass. We saved them. We saved them from being drug into crack houses and sexually abused by your crackhead friends. You would have endangered them the same way our mother did to us.

For years Cindy and I have tried to save YOU and WE give up. You even stole Leigh Ann’s brand new computer, desk and chair that she saved up to buy for herself. You don’t care about anything except getting high.

YOU love meth more than the only two people who didn’t give up, me and your mom. Your “go to” enablers, Wendy and Cindy. Don’t come to us anymore. We are finished trying to save you. Save yourself.

Have a great life getting high or going to prison for your choices. I will NEVER bail you put again. I will never pay to get your towed car out of impound when you are arrested either and you will be you always are.

I can’t do this anymore. I won’t. Cindy had a heart attack when YOU relapsed and started using while we were in NY TWO DAYS to film with CBS.

You are just like our mother. The only difference is that Cindy and I protected the twins. No one protected us. We are the complete opposite of our mother and YOU. We gave you a good childhood. We have tried over and over to help you. The banks are closed.

We are the people we never had but you cannot cherry pick a withered branch from a cherry tree. We are out.

Good luck to you Steph. You will get pulled over. You will lose your car AGAIN just like you did 3 years ago after we spent thousands bonding it out because we aren’t going to bond your car OR you out.

Frankly, I wish you would go to prison. I wish I had let you go in Oklahoma an spared this family and especially your children from the things you’ve said and done.

It’s time for you to experience tough love Steph and this time WE REALLY mean it…

Love Is An Action Not An Idea. More Kids, Clients, Chaos & Celebrations…

Tomorrow I’m marrying a couple I had planned to marry at TDCJ Ferguson Unit. Over the next three months I’m marrying several other couples who have finally made it beyond prison walls. Couples who have made their love story last.

Dana contacted me regarding February and her loved one paroling to a Fort Worth transitional home. I’m as excited as she is that after two years we are finally going to get her married.

Michelle sent me a text about finding Mr Right after I had married her to Mr Wrong at Bridgeport Unit.

Amanda is finally free of the man she thought she had married who wasn’t what she had believed her would be after paroling to her home.

Valerie’s divorce from the Ellis Unit inmate who had wooed her and Brandi in North Dakota at the same will be finalized next month. She remains hopeful of finding love. Valerie and Amanda as well as Brandi and Michelle deserved better.

Brandi has entered treatment. For a time she was suicidal over Raul. For a time she was self destructive. I stay in touch with all of my clients and when there is chaos, try to direct them to support or help. For months, Brandi continued to have setback after setback. The only thing she had of value was her truck. She had no license and had to sell it in order to start over.

It’s been a year of setbacks for many of my clients who have continued to wait on TDCJ as well as ICE and County Jails to reinstate visitation.

Meanwhile, my twin grandnieces, Maryssa and Makenna are arguing about the amount of time Makenna spends with her boyfriend when she isn’t working while Makenna tells Maryssa she’s always on the phone with her boyfriend when she isn’t at school since Maryssa isn’t working because her job was shut down a few weeks ago.

My friend, Julie contacted me regarding locating a sliding scale or free counselor. Her marriage is on the rocks. Julie was left unable to walk after back surgery two years ago. Her anger about this caused issues with her husband. His inability to be sympathetic and supportive have done nothing to improve the situation. Tonight she called me while I was on site with clients at Chateau Forest Park. I walked outside to take the call. “I know you’re busy. You’re always busy. But, Jim isn’t interested in counseling. I don’t think he realizes how much of my happiness depends on him. He’s inattentive towards me and overly affectionate in front of me with our daughter. I feel invisible and cast aside. What should I do?”

Issues with Jim have been apparent to Cindy when Julie was watching Makenna’s hamster as we were traveling with the twins to CA, NY and LA over a three week window during the summer and Julie offered to watch Makenna’s pet hamster. I wasn’t with Cindy when she and Makenna dropped Charlie off. Cindy “her husband isn’t friendly. I felt unwelcome and weird there. He was yelling at the dog and we are paying them to watch Charlie?” Me “Julie is a mom and will take good care of Charlie. She won’t take charity and is excited to have something to do.”

I met Jim again at a photoshoot to promote a GoFundMe for Julie to get an MRI. She had no insurance. GoFundMe accounts are hit or miss. I never know what people will or won’t donate to.

A few years ago, my friend, Glenda died in Colorado. Her daughter, Tara contacted me because Glenda had no insurance and there was no way to get her back to Texas. Within days the money to bring Glenda home had been donated.

A few years ago, my clients Burt and Deanna lost baby DeLilah born with Trisomy 18. I baptized her immediately knowing we only had a few hours. Two days later, I conducted her memorial. Three months later, Deanna contacted me to do a GoFundMe for IVF. Like Julie’s campaign, there were very few donations made.

A few months ago, Deanna called me to baptize a baby that is being carried for her and Burt. I married them five years ago and have stayed in close contact as I do with all of my clients since then. Burt and Deanna have a happy ending. Julie and Jim are headed towards a slippery slope of trying to save their marriage. I’m deeply concerned. Julie can’t make Jim go to counseling or even take an interest. She qualified for SS Disability and insurance but it won’t be enough to support her and Aubrey in the event of a divorce. I suggested going to visit her brother. Julie and her mother don’t get along well. Julie, Jim and Aubrey are living with Jim’s parents. This isn’t the first time. Since the surgery, Julie has lost her job and last month, their home. Jim blames Julie and his animosity is obvious. What part of “for better or worse for richer or poorer” didn’t Jim understand?

Maryssa and Makenna aren’t used to sharing their time together with the inconvenience of work, school and boyfriends. Frankly, Cindy and I aren’t too pleased with the twins having boyfriends but we are keeping close tabs on this new development.

Amanda was married by me at Ellis Unit. My family and I had met her prior for a photo shoot with her three boys in Eastland. Because her husnand was paroling, her landlord suddenly decided to evict her causing an undue hardship on her with three children. Amanda made sacrifices but her new husband didn’t appreciate them and the fact that she had three children who were her priorities.

Marriage is a merger. Sometimes things aren’t what they appear to be. Other times we don’t really know a person until the chips are down. I married young. I didn’t know what to expect. I wanted to be a good wife and mother. I did all the right things. But throughout my ten year marriage, my husband found reasons to be angry. Reasons to be violent. Reasons to make me fearful of hearing that garage door close wondering which version of my husband was going to walk into the house? My divorce and child custody battle took 5 years of my life. I never planned to marry again. My custody battle was a war. It left scars.

I was working when Guy walked into my building. I wore a wedding ring because I didn’t want anyone hitting on me. I pretended to be married. It made me feel safer. He found out I wasn’t married and asked me to dinner. I took Cindy with me. I was still fighting my ex for custody. I was working two jobs to pay my bloodsucking attorneys. He offered a solution “marry me. I will hire the best custody attorney and end your war.” He kept his promise. But he never promised to be faithful and he wasn’t. Fort Worth is a small town in certain circles. Laurie would be at the Fort Worth house while I was in Arkansas or traveling. I could smell her perfume. I could tell she had worn my jewelry and put it back in the wrong place. Laurie was a ghost who haunted my 6 year marriage. After receiving a circular from the Fort Worth Club with a photo and the caption “Guy and Wendy McCollum enjoying a candlelit dinner on Valentine’s Day” I filed for divorce. Laurie was in that photo not me. I was humiliated and embarrassed. I moved out with my son. For months he begged me to come back. Promised to change. Finally, I believed him. Nothing changed. Things were worse. On the 5th year of my second marriage, Guy had me sign a joint tax return. Within months a tax lien of over 300k was sent to the house in MY NAME. They split it he owed the other half. I was furious. The affair and now a tax lien? How would I rent an apartment? Buy a car? Get a job? I fought the tax lien and won. I also filed for divorce again.

Because Guy didn’t think the car I owned when I went in the marriage was good enough, he gave my car to his nephew and put me in one of his cars. I didn’t know it wasn’t paid for. When I left him, he told me to make the $558 payments on it. I balked. $558? I was paying for my son to attend a school that helped with developmental issues that cost $750 a month. How in the Hell was I going to afford that car payment? I went to Frank Kent who serviced the McCollum cars and applied for a job. I had never sold cars. But I needed a car, income and insurance and clients. Using my modeling background, I hired a photographer and ran print ads in country clubs. I targeted my clients through photo ads. I was successful and independent when my current husband bought his first car from me. As usual, I was also wearing a wedding ring. I didn’t want anyone hitting on me I was at work to make money and support my son. A year later, Matthew walked back in to trade his SRX. I tried to talk him out of it. He was upside down. “I’m getting a divorce. My wife took my suburban and I hate this car. I want an Escalade.” Ugh. I had a demo on the lot and worked a deal. While sitting in my office, he looked at the smiling photo of my husband beside me at a Betsy Price fundraiser and said “your husband must be really proud of you.” I burst put crying and walked out of my own office. I was a two time loser. Marriage wasn’t my strong suit. I tried hard. I did all of the right things but twice I had failed to make my marriages work. I had never dated. I had always worked. I walked back into my office and told the truth. All of it. Why I wore a wedding ring. Why I was selling cars. Why I kept a happy looking photo on my desk of someone who had an affair throughout our entire marriage then tried to throw me under the bus with the IRS. Weeks later, my sister, son, nieces and grandnieces went on a date with Matthew. Months later, we were married. If he could handle my family, he was worth a shot. We’ve been together 14 years. It wasn’t always easy. He lost everything within a year of marrying. Real estate crashed. He lost his business. He lost his self esteem. He didn’t know how to do anything else. He was unemployed for 3 years. I sold everything on EBay except our house. Texas Twins Treasures became my flipping site. I replaced our expensive furniture with garage sale and thrift shop finds. I reupholstered items and worked two jobs. I swam uphill. At the same time, Cindy’s husband was laid off after 25 years at Albertsons AND her 16 year old daughter, Stephaney was pregnant with twins. Like me, Cindy sold everything too. We found furniture on the fly. We either reupholstered it or flipped it. We circled our wagons and made it through the storm. We didn’t have parents to ask for help. We didn’t have family to ask for help. We had each other, our husbands, our children and grandchildren. Our circle was small. Cindy gave up her job to care for the twins.

In early 2012, Matthew and I finally sold our house. I decided to start a business to give people the wedding I didn’t have. Cindy joined me. We brought the twins to events with us. By the time the twins could walk, our clients hired them as flower girls and ring bearers. When client’s wanted affordable photos, Cindy, my son, my daughter in law or my niece took photos for them. When clients couldn’t afford bouquets or flowers, I decided to start making my own floral designs to loan clients. My goal is and always will be to make my clients day as memorable and special as humanly possible. My family is committed to the same goals.

Not all marriages work out. The tragedy is that we don’t know this ahead of time. If we did, we would spare ourselves the pain and loss of a divorce.

I continue to hope that Jim will realize his wife needs him and understand that Julie isn’t responsible for a botched surgery. You can’t blame a partner for an unexpected health crisis.

I continue to hope that Brandi sticks with her recovery and that Valerie eventually finds someone worthy of being her partner.

Life and love are messy. For those who weather the hard times though the investment of your determination, resilience and faith pays off in having a partner committed to you long after the luster of marriage wears off. Life partners are rare but they are out there.

As a reminder to Federal Clients… visits are currently non contact. Please be aware that we cannot overcome or object to Covid visitation changes. We can’t.

State, ICE and County clients, as we continue to wait for visitation, if you haven’t emailed Gov Abbott regarding how this visitation ban is affecting you and your loved one, please do so. He shut down visitation and he has reinstated nursing home visitation as well as reopened schools while completely skipping over County, TDCJ and ICE.

Certain State facilities outside of Texas have reopened visitation. These facilities are non contact similar to Federal Facilities. Please be aware that as my client, Cindy’s client or anyone on my staffs client, Wardens expect us to be able to control our clients. What this means is that outbursts, drama or unexpected behavior reflects on us. Please don’t be disruptive on site. We have worked months to get you to wedding day. If your ceremony is non contact we must accept the things we can’t change. Thank you.

Planning, Preparation & Perseverance. You Don’t Need Perfect Because You Can Still Eat With A Bent Fork…

I’m OCD. I make lists. I review these lists over and over again. But even I cannot predict people. Since Wednesday I’ve been on the road bouncing from one event to the next city while on conference calls with the kids or my clients.

On Thursday, I traveled back to DFW to meet Cindy after stopping by my home to have a quick lunch with my husband who had been “cooking all day because he was bored. I’m so used to working everyday that a day off especially with you traveling is boring.”

My husband is a really good cook and while I’m still working on losing the few pandemic pounds I’ve put on the past 8 months is important to me, I indulged “just a bit” in my favorite holiday foods before I picked up my niece, Stephaney at the group home on my way to Parker County.

My niece had always been close to my son prior to his marriage. She blames his wife for the rift between them rather than her own behavior and choices. Listening to her complain about my son choosing his wife over her is an ongoing headache for me. I pulled up in front of the group home and called Stephaney who wasn’t there. Ugh. I called her. “I’m at the park down the street. Pick me up over here.”

Driving to the park in a not so nice area of Fort Worth, I pass homeless people. I see several men standing around the only convenience store open drinking out of paper bags before spotting Stephaney walking towards me. I’m instantly depressed to see my niece carrying a paper bag containing a forty. It’s Thanksgiving. Cindy and I are the only people who will even speak to my niece and she’s drinking?

I look at her and say “there are open container laws in Texas. You aren’t getting in my suv with that drink in your hand. Go throw it away.” My blood pressure is already going up.

Stephaney gets in but she isn’t happy about my rules. I don’t care. She reaches for my radio to change my favorite 70’s channel. This always annoys me. Why do passengers feel entitled to taking over the radio? I have no idea but I ignored the channel she decided on.

“Where are we going first?” I tell her I’m doing an elopement at the Parker County Courthouse then planning to meet Cindy at Film Alley. Cindy has been cooking with Steve. The twins are picky eaters. Makenna is working 4-midnight at McDonald’s. Maryssa is off until Friday at her job. It will be her first full day on the job. Neither of the twins are taking calls from Stephaney after her past relapse. In fact, Cindy and I are “catching flack” from my niece, Leigh Ann, my son, Robbie and the twins about having anything to do with Stephaney. We are both sick and tired of everyone who isn’t doing anything to help Stephaney complaining about what we do to try and help. This conflict has been going on for years now amongst our family members. Cindy sends a text “Leigh Ann is on the phone complaining that Stephaney is going to the movies with us. I’m so sick and tired of dealing with their anger. We are the only ones in the family that she has. If she relapses again, I’m out. I can’t handle any more of this. Last year I was in Harris Hospital not expecting to leave. I want peace. I want the other kids to stop complaining too. I’m doing the best I can. I look at FB and see happy families who are happy to be together then I look at our family. I’m depressed.”

I think about this. She’s right. Social media would have everyone thinking or assuming that other people have perfect lives. No one has a perfect life. I remind my twin sister of her own quote “things don’t have to be perfect to work. You can still eat dinner with a bent fork. You nearly died last year. I’m thankful you didn’t. We cannot control Stephaney or the other kids. We can control how we react. We can control being enablers. We must let her know we are drawing the line and stick with it.”

I leave the gas station in Willow Park that’s closed. Stephaney needs cigarettes. I know I shouldn’t be buying cigarettes for her but what the Hell. I prefer she smokes cigarettes than weed or meth.

My clients are already at the courthouse and excited. They have been together for 8 years and have 3 children. I’ve packed my suv with everything they need including a 5ft veil for the bride and a baptism gown for her three year old son.

The courthouse in Parker County is a beautiful building that somewhat reminds me of the Munsters House. I have no idea why but it does.

Leaving the town square to head to Film Alley, my niece wants to go to IHOP. I didn’t know they were open and we are an hour early for “War With Grandpa” so we roll in. The Christmas tree in the lobby with face masks for decorations depresses the heck out of me.

I answer texts, emails and DM’s from client’s. One of my clients tells me that “CDCR promised video visitation would be working and it isn’t. What can I do?” I send her the information she needs and move to the next DM. It’s from my Green Bay Unit bride telling me happy Thanksgiving and thanking me for getting her married. Many of my clients contact me on Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years as well as my birthday to wish me well. My clients are amazing, thoughtful, and a gift.

One of my clients who was duped by a Don Juan and wound up on a path of self destruction for several months also sent me a DM. “Miss Wendy I’m entering treatment. I’ve decided to get sober. Thank you for always taking my calls and messages even when I was strung out and especially when I was suicidal at all hours of the night. You are the mother I never had. I’m going to get clean this time and stay clean.” My heart hurts reading this as I sip my IHOP coffee. I pray for the best but always prepare for another relapse with Brandi. This isn’t her first time.

Brandi reminds me of my niece, Stephaney with the difference being that Brandi has no one. Stephaney has Cindy and I. Brandi changes her phone number constantly so I update her latest cell phone number in my phone.

Brandi was one of two women who fell for an Ellis Unit inmate who upon release was physically violent with Valerie who called me immediately even though Cindy and I were in California for information to get a restraining order and divorce.

Valerie celebrated Thanksgiving with “a new love.” I’m praying he’s Mr Right for Valerie. I will marry them if he is. Valerie has three children and a mother she also supports so the last thing she needs is yet another Mr Wrong in her life. I glance at her FB post and smile. She looks happy. I’m happy for her. Valerie works two jobs to take care of her family. She deserves happiness.

The journalist who traveled with Cindy and I to several Units last year sent me a text about my Polunsky bride. “She’s not responding to my messages and I’m getting everything ready for the editor to publish. Can you message her?”

I send a quick message to Lastacia. I’m so proud of her. Like all of my client’s Lastacia is independent, driven and dedicated. A loving mother and devoted wife whose husband finally came home a few months ago. They are happy. I’m happy for them. Lastacia immediately answers my message and will contact Ella. I then remember that Lastacia sells weaves and ask “if she can order weaves for Cindy and I? Everything we buy online is the wrong color.” I’m mailing Lastacia a piece of a broken weave Monday. I believe in supporting my clients.

Misty sends me a message. Her husband came home last year. They are happy and well adjusted. I’m happy for them. I’m mailing her a few of our designer face masks Monday because she like me “believes this mask mandate is going to be going on for awhile.”

Misty asks about my grandniece, Maddy and Leigh Ann who took her bridal photos. She is proud of the twins who are now both working. I am too. The twins are planning to buy their own car. They are independent. Makenna already pays her own cell phone bill.

I have an email from Deanna. Burt and Deanna lost their baby, DeLilah to trisomy two years ago. They’ve found a surrogate and are expecting in the next 6-8 weeks. I’ve been asked to baptize their daughter. Of course, I’m thrilled and honored.

My other couple who quite sadly lost their baby last year have a new healthy boy this year. I couldn’t be happier for them.

Juggling client’s from Federal Prisons back onto the schedule is and continues to be an issue at Fort Worth FMC. Please be aware that Tiger King is at this facility. Allow enough additional time to be screened and checked in and remember that we cannot control Covid guidelines. Do not become visibly upset about non contact limitations. We must always follow guidelines, policy and protocol. Emotional outbursts are upsetting to staff and other inmates. As my client, I’m expected to keep you calm and within the guidelines.

Press and journalists aren’t your friends. If someone is contacting you, get a contract outlining what they can or cannot publish. Limit interviews. As usual, there are production companies posting that they are “casting a show.” Folks there’s a tremendous difference between “casting” and “pitching.” If someone is contacting you because they found you in a prison support group or on other social media such as Instagram, be cautious and don’t sign anything simply because the person contacting you pressures you to do so. Production companies secure the talent and often do so by using an entirely one sided talent agreement. If you have questions, contact me.

This Thanksgiving was odd because it was different but walking into the movie, one tradition was still being followed. Cindy and I have always gone to the movies on Thanksgiving and Christmas. We skipped the popcorn.

The movie had a few funny moments but the concept of a grandson doing things that were hurtful wasn’t funny to me. We have an elderly man who lost his wife moving in with her daughter and family and a grandson upset about giving up his room. The funny parts were with the husband getting “flashed” by the grandfather.

The dynamics of families today and especially families moving in a parent isn’t lost on me. My brother and his wife moved my father in with them. Having another family member live with you IS AN ADJUSTMENT.

This is our first holiday without Foxy. I miss him but we won’t be getting another pet. Matthew and I both work too much and the freedom of being able to travel since we are now truly empty nesters along with the fact that my husband “cannot handle losing another pet in this lifetime” are why we both decided not to get another pet.

Leigh Ann called me last night while I was in the Hill Country at a wedding where (as usual) the florist forgot bouteniers. “I can’t FaceTime mom without the cats getting in front of her. It’s so funny.”

Cindy was always “anti pets” at her home UNTIL the twins both wanted cats last year after her surgery.

Of course, Cindy is very fond of both cats and became the cat lady quickly. She prepares special meals and loves on the cats the twins wanted but have no time to feed or care for while working and going to school. Cindy buys cat toys all the time. Maddy and my grandson still play with Foxy’s toys. My husband and I decided to leave Foxy’s things in all of the rooms of our house. I know it sounds odd but my grandniece and grandson prefer Cindy’s cat toys and Foxy’s dog toys to the toys we both keep for them. I have no idea why.

One of the cats is so ugly that people visiting Cindy ask “what happened?” My sister calls this cat “street cat” because he looks like he’s had a tough life. Makenna adopted him because she knew no one else would. Street cat is a fat cat. He’s loving and follows Cindy everywhere.

If you are FaceTiming Cindy at home one of those cats is going to jump in front of her or on her lap. I never expected my sister to “warm up” to pets. Her motto prior to these cats was always “I take care of everything around here. I don’t need another responsibility. No pets.” She’s changed and she spoils those cats endlessly.

Cindy is also as excited as I am that Leigh Ann and Maddy will be back in Texas Christmas Day.

Bookings with Leigh Ann for mini photo shoots are being scheduled through Leigh Ann. You can find her page on FB, Maddie & Me Photography.

I can’t wait to see my grandson, Oliver again. He’s almost crawling and my son (like Cindy and I did for so many years) takes Oliver to work with him. Robbie and Stephanie are rocking parenthood and their clients like ours have accepted that bookings are a family affair. The twins traveled with Cindy and I for years until branching off and booking Princess parities prior to taking on their jobs outside of Texas Twins Events.

Working with family can be chaotic, fun and sometimes stressful but we’ve always worked it out. Maddy thinks any camera on location is meant for her so get ready for my grandniece to jump in on those wedding photo’s saying “cheese” on location from December to February while Leigh Ann and Maddy are “back home.”

As always, I’m thankful for my clients, my connections and creating a business that allowed me to share your joy at your life event.

Bookings for Vow Renewals and early release inmate weddings that had been planned on the inside that are now being planned on the outside, January still has a few openings for Fort Worth and Dallas. I’m in Beaumont twice in February.

As we continue to wait for visitation to reopen at State, ICE and County Jails across all of our service area states, I pray that your holiday weekend is blessed AND not stressed…

Why I Don’t Respond To Shade That Comes From Trees That Don’t Bear Fruit…

We live in an opinionated society but do the opinions of others really have a direct bearing on your life or mine? Probably not. You can please some of the people some of the time but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

I choose to ignore “Negative Nancy’s” on a regular basis because their opinions have no impact on my life or my clients. A handful of these haters are my own family members. Don’t be shocked. I’m not. After years of defending my client base at family gatherings I finally decided to cut these toxic people from my life and I’m happier for it.

The holidays are right around the corner. Do I care that I won’t be visiting family members who bring me stress and anxiety? Nope. I’m going to save money this Christmas.

I’m also going to focus on people who matter in my family which gives me a far smaller circle.

Years ago, my aunt started an argument with me regarding officiating LBGT weddings at a holiday get together. Being attacked in front of other family members regarding my belief that love is love angered me. Who was she to “butt in” on my business or my clients? What possessed her to use an opportunity where stress is at an all time high to “tell me what she thinks?”

Good Lord, after all of the money I’ve spent on gifts year after year on my family members without so much as a thank you, I’m out on asking my brother or his wife “if they received my gifts or the money I sent through PayPal?” Is it really that hard to acknowledge someone who went out of their way to send you something every year when you’ve never sent even a birthday card or much less a thank you card?

The truth is that my clients have replaced my ungrateful and opinionated family members.

Yesterday, my twin sister, Cindy told me that while talking to our sister in law, Michelle suggested sending her son to live with Cindy. What the? How convenient to assume that my sister who has been raising her twin granddaughters for 16 years would want another responsibility under her roof? Our brothers son has never had any degree of a relationship with us. He’s an adult and nearly 30 years old. Trying to push her son onto Cindy didn’t play out the way Michelle thought it would.

Years ago, our father and his sister “dumped” their mother onto my twin sister by shirking their responsibility and moving grandma into Cindy’s house for eighteen years. Eighteen years of grandma taking two rooms of Cindy’s home. Not paying any rent. Taking control of the television. Complaining if Cindy went somewhere with me. Manipulative and controlling grandma made Cindy’s life a living hell for 18 years until Cindy finally kicked her out. FINALLY.

Our dad and our aunt were angry for years that Cindy gave grandma the boot. Neither of them were angry enough to open THEIR home for their mother though. They both “had their own lives.” Even after Cindy found an apartment for grandma near her house and for the five years grandma lived after being moved from Cindy’s house my sister was still expected to drive grandma to doctor appointments 2-3 days a week, grocery shop for her and go over to visit while dragging them twins along. Cindy became a prisoner of responsibility that wasn’t hers while raising her twin granddaughters. Our dad didn’t care. Our aunt didn’t care.

After my grandmother died, our father tried to move into Cindy’s house. She had learned to say no by then and did. He then tried to move in with me. I let him have a piece of my mind. “We were homeless at 15. We were eating out of trash cans when the police found us and took us to a shelter. Our first apartment we couldn’t even afford electricity. No one in our entire lives has done anything to help us. Ever. I don’t owe you anything. Cindy doesn’t owe you anything. Our children have had no relationship with you or aunt Shirley. Our grandchildren have had no relationship with you or aunt Shirley. We have raised our children and grandchildren without any involvement from you or our mother. Never a birthday card for us or our children or grandchildren. Never a Christmas gift for us or our children or our grandchildren. The only time we hear from you people is when someone wants something from us. My brother never calls or even bothers to thank us for money and gifts we send to him. We are literally invisible to this family unless someone wants or needs something. This family took advantage of Cindy by dumping grandma on her. She didn’t owe grandma anything. Like the rest of you, grandma never helped us. Never acknowledged our birthday or Christmas either. For our entire lives we have been doing things for this family while this family never once stepped up to help us while raising our children between divorces alone with only each other to depend on. Don’t even try to tell me I owe you. I don’t owe you anything.” I meant it. My dad would NEVER live with Cindy or me. EVER.

Our dad wound up living with our brother and now our brothers wife wants to dump her problem son on my sister? I was outraged that she even suggested this idea. Cindy had heart surgery last November. Cindy is raising her granddaughters. Cindy has her hands full already.

It’s not our fault that our father is living with our brother. You don’t owe parents caring for them in their old age when they never took care of you. Period. Cut Em loose.

Our mother was a heroin addict. She never sent a birthday card or a Christmas card either. We never had birthday parties other than the one disastrous birthday party when Cindy and I were 6 years old. Left alone with our grandfather, we were both sexually assaulted. Our grandmother was angry when she came to pick us up that we were crying. So angry that she told us “you are ungrateful and you will never have another birthday party.” We didn’t. For the next 9 years the abuse continued. No one in our family stopped it. Not our father. Not our aunt. Not our grandmother. No one. We ran away from home at 15 and never looked back.

The fact that Cindy had to take care of a grandmother who never took care of us for 18 years is and always will be so preposterous that my anger as well as hers is still with us today.

My son and his wife moved in with me when their house caught on fire several years ago. This lasted 3 months. At the end of those three months, I told him it was time to leave. A few years later, between homes again, my son wanted to move in with my husband and I a second time. I declined. Why? My son had moved his wife’s cousin and his wife’s cousins son in with them as well as four dogs. I wasn’t about to move four people and four dogs into my home indefinitely. They moved in with my daughter in laws father instead while their house was being built. Was my son angry about this? Most likely but, I work 7 days a week as does my husband and our home is our sanctuary. You don’t owe anyone the luxury of moving into your home at your expense.

Cindy and I have a friend, Britney. Britney threatened to divorce Eddie when Eddie’s mother became too old to care for herself. Eddie was an only child. Eddie put his mother in a nursing home where she died several months later. Eddie went to see her on weekends. Britney was given her suv to take her to doctor appointments and visit. Britney never did. She took the car and neglected to go visit or run Eddie’s mother to doctor appointments. Eddie’s mother died waiting for a visit with her grandchildren and Britney.

You need to choose your battles. There will always be someone somewhere “throwing shade.” To hell with them. If they bring nothing to your life other than misery, they don’t belong in your life. Cut them out of your life and keep them out of your head.

The holidays are a stressful time and while federal facilities have reinstated visitation, TDCJ has yet to reinstate visitation. Abbott says he’s going to reopen Texas but when? As we continue to wait for visitation, the anxiety, stress and depression of not being able to visit loved one’s continues.

Last week I was back at Walls Unit marrying clients I couldn’t marry while the inmate was in TDCJ. I will continue to meet any client who is paroling and get you married. Keep me updated on your loved ones status and if they are chained to another facility let me know so I can update our records.

Focus on the people that really matter. If we’ve learned anything during this pandemic it’s what’s really important to us and what isn’t.

I hope to see all of you very soon and please don’t worry about me going to Fort Worth FMC. Every precaution is being taken to ensure that Cindy and I are healthy and ready to meet you at your prison weddings…

“Take time to make time. Make time to be there.” Little River Band

Juggling my schedule to accommodate clients who have been waiting for Federal prisons to reopen, I had a call Monday from someone wanting to marry “as soon as possible.” Her reason was that her fiancée would be shipping out today to Anderson AFB in Guam.

I took a moment to double check my schedule and suggested meeting me at the Salvation Army in Fort Worth. The location may surprise you so I will explain. Wednesday’s are half off days at the Salvation Army and whenever I have time, I shop for items that women and children at the shelter might need or furniture for those in need.

My niece is moving from Lompoc to Fort Worth next month so I’ve been on the look out for end tables, a love seat and bedroom furniture.

My sister, Tammy is coming with Kori and Fernando who have already rented a house in Saginaw, Texas near my son and his wife.

A bride I had married at Beto Unit a few years ago sent me an email asking if I could reprint and send her wedding photos? After searching Instagram and FB and copying the photos to my phone, I picked up my niece, Stephaney from the group home she’s living at and headed to Walgreens to print the photos while Stephaney waited on me.

My son had called to ask about my schedule and if I would have time to meet him and “look at Oliver’s diaper rash?” I dropped Steph off at work and went back to Walgreens to pick up my brides photos and headed to the post office where I called my son to tell him I was due at Salvation Army at 11 but could meet him later. It was 10:15AM.

At about 10:30 while waiting in line at the post office and getting concerned about the distance from the post office up the Salvation Army, I had a text from my bride asking if we could move our 11 o’clock meeting to 12 so her mother and the grooms mother could attend the wedding. I said “sure, see you then.”

I called my son back to let him know I now had time to meet him earlier as opposed to later. My son asked me to meet him in Lake Worth at 10:45 to take a look at his son, Oliver’s rash so I headed there first.

Oliver had what appears to be a yeast infection so I suggested my son go ahead and take him to the pediatrician. It’s not uncommon for my niece, Leigh Ann or my son to send me photos or FaceTime videos to look at Maddie or Oliver.

Often Maddie has a bump from running into something. She’s a precarious little daredevil that jumps off furniture on a regular basis. Oliver is now eating prepared organic foods and this may be why his little body is reacting to the foods my son and his wife are trying out on him for the first time.

After filling up my sons truck, he headed to the pediatrician.

I rolled out of the QT in Lake Worth and headed to the Salvation Army. I had loaded my suv with furs, fascinators, hats and an assortment of bouquets and bouteniers as well as tiaras for the wedding photos of my couple.

I pulled into Salvation Army and sent a text that I was on site and ran in to look through the store quickly.

At exactly 12PM, three cars pulled in beside me. My couple and both of their moms and I met for the first time in person. I opened my trunk and showed them the treasures I had packed for our short notice wedding ceremony. We couldn’t come up with anywhere we liked in the area so I decided that the Fort Worth courthouse would work well and we caravanned our way from the Salvation Army to the courthouse.

I had typed up a wedding ceremony script for the couple and passed out LV and Chanel face masks from my inventory as my bride wanted one “Covid photo” for a keepsake.

The mothers were so much fun and although it was warm, my bride wore two of my fur stoles for her photo shoot after the ceremony. We had a great time.

I’ve had several calls and emails regarding inmate weddings. Currently, State, ICE and County have not announced when visitation might be reinstated. Federal is leading the way by reinstating non contact visitation no later than October 3, 2020. Please understand that I will be addressing Texas clients first then Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisianna. I’m not going to be addressing California and my other service area states until next year. I expect TDCJ to reinstate visitation within a few months and since I have 57 TDCJ clients who were cancelled in March and April, TDCJ clients will take priority when visitation is reinstated.

My longtime secretary, Virginia is and has been blind in her left eye due to a surgery to correct a cataract. Her cornea slipped and a subsequent year long infection left her permanently blind in her left eye. Her right eye was operated on several months ago and she’s been having problems with that as well so between juggling work and family, I’ve been taking Virginia to specialists in the hopes of getting her “good eye” repaired. Virginia has been with me thirty years and we both appreciate your prayers for healing.

Saturday I’m on site in Mineral Wells at a wedding with a bride who has decided to have her dog give her away. I love pets in weddings as many of you are aware and while this may sound odd to a few people, the brides dog is her best friend.

Last week I was trying to locate 60 chairs and 8 tables for this event since the original vendor cancelled. We have now found tables and chairs for the October 3rd wedding. Thanks so much for all of the vendor suggestions.

One of my TDCJ clients, Vickie tagged me in a Palo Pinto post for a mom trying to find another Officiant after their original Officiant became ill but due to my schedule in Mineral Wells then at Belltower Chapel this Saturday, its impossible for me to squeeze in Palo Pinto so I sent a message to Vickie thanking her for thinking of me but my schedule is so crazy and unpredictable that it’s rare to squeeze in a short notice booking. Wednesday worked because I was scheduled to file marriage licenses in Tarrant County and after the wedding Wednesday, I had my newly married couples jump in my Sahara so we could file their license immediately and get two certified copies. One for the military and the other for my bride to change her name.

This morning while preparing to drive to Parker County from my East Fort Worth Appraisal Appointment, I was overjoyed to find that the test results for my former bride, Deanna (who located a surrogate several months ago after a failed a IVF attempt) had exciting news that the baby is Trisomy negative which is something she has been worried about. It’s a blessing. Deanna lost DeLilah to Trisomy two years ago. I baptized DeLilah immediately after birth as we had a very short window. Two days later, I conducted the memorial for baby DeLilah.

My son called me. “Mom, you remember helping Angel get her grandson from Crain Unit whole Lexi was in prison?”

How could I forget? There are many babies born in prison. Families of the inmates take on the role and responsibility of raising these children.

My mind went back to the updates of Angel expecting the release of Lexi from prison after 6 months. Angel has been raising her grandson as her own child. He’s a happy baby.

My son asked “mom are you still there?” I skipped a beat anticipating less than happy news from the toms of his voice. ”

Yes. What’s wrong? I saw where Lexi was released last month.”

This wasn’t going to be good news. I could hear it in his voice. “Mom, Lexi was only home for 6 days with Angel and the baby. She’s in Houston now and she’s back on drugs. She’s posting videos on FB. I saw them. Bad videos. Angel is afraid she will come back and try to take the baby from her. Asher is 6 months old. Angel can’t afford an attorney. What can you do to help her?”

Because Angel has had possession of the baby for 6 months, she’s in a position to request custody. Family court in Texas rarely allows pro se litigants though so trying to help Angel locate an attorney to help will be challenging. Like my twin sister, Angel gave up her job to raise her grandson. My sister gave up her job to raise her twin granddaughters 16 years ago.

I was getting dressed to meet a client bartering in East Fort Worth at an Appraisal Appointment through my sister site, The Pawning Planners and Cindy was tied up on Parker County meeting another client at Willow Lake Event Center. I sat my coffee down. Ugh. I thought prison had changed Lexi. I thought the birth of her child and support of her family would force her to straighten up and fly right. I felt a pang in my heart for her mother and her child.

I decided to go grab my Texas Family Law book and review grandparents rights. I was sitting in my office when Angel answered my message to call me. “Asher has his 6 month check up and I’ve got a dentist appointment after that for my youngest daughter. Can I call you.” Me “absolutely. I will do what I can to get you help in obtaining information to protect your grandson from your oldest daughters choices. I’m so sorry she’s back on the streets. Sick really over it. Heartbroken and saddened.”

Angel had called me three years ago. “Can you help me? My daughter is in the streets and I have no idea where she is. I know you are familiar with searching the streets because I follow your updates about your niece. I know you’ve found your niece several times. I’m afraid my daughter is dead.” Angel had sent me recent photos of Lexi. I examined them and printed 2 to keep in my suv.

Amazingly a few days later, I did find Lexi. I found her off Calmont and Camp Bowie. She had dyed her hair. Her clothing was dirty. She had been talking to a group of other people who didn’t respond well to a stranger walking up to the group. I was the stranger.

Lexi didn’t recognize me. I rolled up and said “Lexi, it’s Wendy Wortham. Robert’s mom. Your mom worked with my son years ago. You know me. I’ve met you before. Your mom is worried about you. Can I take you to get something to eat and have you call your mom?”

Reluctantly, Lexi got into my suv. A few of her friends wanted to join her. I’m not stupid and declined having strangers sitting behind me in my suv. “Sorry folks I’m only interested in taking Lexi. Maybe next time.”

She was just obviously on something. “What are you doing in this area? You don’t fit in. You could get hurt. My friends wanted to come with me. “Your friends aren’t my friends and I don’t want strangers in my car. I have a family depending on me. I have clients depending on me and quite frankly I have a husband expecting me to come home tonight so putting your friends in my suv wasn’t ever going to happen.”

I thought about the nearly 16 years my twin sister and I had spent back then trying to find her daughter, Stephaney. It was Hell. We’ve been in dangerous places to drag Steph out and put her back in treatment. We both had late night calls from jails with Steph screaming at us.

We’ve both aged trying to save Steph. No one and I mean absolutely no one understands where we’ve been or what we’ve been through UNLESS they have a loved one with mental illness and addiction issues. Don’t judge people who do whatever they can to try and save a loved one. We don’t need your negativity. We need your understanding.

Normality is the one thing every parent of an addict lacks and desperately wants.

I had driven Lexi to a restaurant. I handed her my phone to call her mom on FB messenger. She didn’t know the phone number to reach her mother. I had offered to take her to women’s haven. I had offered to help her get off the streets. Lexi wanted none of my suggestions. I had tried. God knows I tried to help Lexi. She wanted me to take her back to where I had found her. She wanted cigarettes. I bought them. I feared then Lexi would die in the streets. I recall seeing her wave goodbye in my rear view mirror happily walking back to her group. Lexi had made a decision. She wouldn’t return home to her mother. She wouldn’t accept my offer to get her off the streets either.

Leaving the apartment complex I dropped her off at, I was pulled over. “What are you doing in this area?” It’s true I didn’t fit in.

“My niece, Stephaney is missing. I filed a report. Here’s the number. I’m her aunt. I’ve been trying to find her and another mother reached out and asked if I could look for her daughter, Lexi. I found her but she won’t let me take her to the women’s haven.”

Both officers look at the missing persons report on their computer. One of them walks back to my suv. “This is a dangerous area. You don’t belong here. People who are here want to be here. Go back to the suburbs. Get out of here before you get car jacked or robbed or killed.”

I’ve heard it before. For years. In desperation to find my niece, I’ve heard similar things many times from officers. My sister has too. We just couldn’t give up on Steph. We would find her. Put her in treatment. She would get out again and we would lose her again. I’m crying as I admit how hellish it’s been. How painful. How tragic. It has been the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life to save Steph. It was even harder on Cindy. She gave up her life at 40 to raise the twins. She tried over and over to fix Steph but she couldn’t. We couldn’t. My niece has done so many things to hurt our family that my husband won’t allow her in our house. The twins won’t speak to Steph. I recall driving her back from treatment in Oklahoma 6 years ago and flat out telling her “if you don’t straighten up one day your children won’t have anything to do with you. Get your life together.” She didn’t believe me. But I knew that at some point the twins would give up on their mom and I was right.

Two years after finding Lexi, she was arrested and a year later sentenced. Her rap sheet is a mile long.

Lexi was pregnant at her sentencing. During those years of Lexi lost to the streets my niece was in and out of psych wards and treatment centers when she wasn’t back on the streets again. I wouldn’t give up hope for Steph even when Cindy did. I couldn’t. I believed I could save Steph. No one could convince me otherwise not my husband, not my twin. No one. When I wasn’t working I was driving into dangerous areas trying to find Steph. Cindy would call me and say “don’t you go look for her alone.” I would tell my twin, my best friend, my other half “I’m not don’t worry I won’t go look alone.” I would then go look alone driving through the areas I knew homeless people often congregated.

Six months ago, while Steph was still in rehab in Grove, Oklahoma, Angel contacted me again. “Lexi is going to have my grandson while on prison. What can I do to get my grandchild?” Angel picked up Asher exactly 6 months ago. She hoped prison would change Lexi but it didn’t. Angel chose to save her grandchild.

Sixteen years ago, my twin sister saved her twin granddaughters. We both hired an attorney and sought custody of Maryssa and Makenna. If we hadn’t at any time my niece could have stormed in and demanded the twins.

Lexi is in the wind. Angel needs to get legal custody of her grandson. She’s had him in her care for 6 months. Helping Angel to protect her grandson from having Lexi show up and try to take him won’t be easy but it’s necessary.

My niece is now stable. She’s working. She’s living in a group home. She’s focusing on finally getting it together. She was 15 when she became pregnant with twins. I was 15 when Cindy and I ran away from home. I was also pregnant. Unlike Steph or Lexi, Cindy and I lived at the women’s haven. We got our lives together. We escaped the streets, homelessness and poverty. We came from nothing. A heroin addict for a mother and a family who didn’t care about us. We survived. Work became our passion. We had each other.

Cindy and I have raised our children and grandchildren as a team. We have dedicated our lives to being the parents we never had. I believe Angel has done the same thing. Saving her grandson from Lexi’s choices has been difficult financially and emotionally. Angel prays for her daughter to straighten up and fly right while she cares for her grandson.

Like many grandparents, Angel is about to do whatever is necessary to give her grandson the stability he deserves…

Dying Alone. How Nursing Homes And Prison Visitation Bans Affect Loved Ones…

Last night the funeral of Bobby Brooks Caffey took place at Hawkins Funeral Home in Boyd, Texas.

His daughter, Debbie cried as she told me how many months it had been since she had seen him. Her grief expanded describing phone calls from her father begging her to come pick him up. She was helpless due to a visitation ban put in place by our Texas Governor.

Since mid March Texas along with many other states that have put visitation bans in place have left seniors to die alone without family nearby in their final moments. You won’t see this on the news because the reality doesn’t fit their agenda.

Inmates and seniors are in the same boat of no visitors due to Covid-19. They are cut off from the anchor of in person visits. Our government fails to address this situation month after month after month.

TDCJ has “hinted” at video visitation but only 12 Units in Texas are equipped for video visitation. What about the other Units? What about Federal or ICE Units? This band aid won’t solve problems for millions of loved ones across the United States.

I’ve been asked about video weddings. While it’s true that I conduct video weddings in other states it’s critical to understand that these ceremonies follow strict guidelines. You don’t just hop on a video call with an inmate to marry and assume that the Unit that has a procedure in place will recognize the marriage as valid. In order for the Unit whether it’s State, Federal or ICE to accept the marriage as valid, the guidelines must be followed to the letter.

In Texas, the I60 Request For Inmate Marriage is a REQUIREMENT. This document starts in the law library then travels to inmate records before moving to the DRC. It leaves the DRC and goes back to the Unit. The Warden is the last signor before handing the document to the Chaplain to schedule the ceremony. Going around or circumventing the protocol isn’t a good idea. Why? Because the Unit doesn’t have to recognize the marriage as valid if guidelines weren’t followed wholly and entirely.

Last weekend Cindy and I were in Missouri performing County Jail Weddings. Oklahoma, Missouri and Delaware are the ONLY states in the United States to have so far reinstated visitation. However, these states also have guidelines for marriage ceremonies to occur within State, Federal and ICE Facilities.

On the one hand a County Jail Ceremony is and can be more difficult to achieve due to the paperwork. Why? County Jails do not have law libraries or notaries. Texas and Missouri allow the use of an Absentee Affidavit. This document is valuable in states that allow it because states that don’t charge the inmate a transfer fee to the clerks office. These fees can amount to several hundred dollars. The expense is often cost prohibitive to clients wishing to marry an inmate. Without the use of a notary, the Absentee Affidavit is invalid. Meaning it isn’t legal. Missouri has a page 3 associated with the Absentee Affidavit pertaining to inmate marriage. This is a required part of the Absentee Affidavit. Without it the clerk will not issue a marriage license.

The difference between a County Jail Ceremony can be significant. I’ve had clients tell me for years “I wish I had waited to marry once he was moved.” Why? The ability to have a contact ceremony is removed entirely in County. There is no kiss. There are no photos.

Obtaining the necessary paperwork to buy the marriage license is also a hurdle unless the inmate has an attorney who can access a notary for the Absentee Affidavit. Mobile notaries are expensive and Tarrant County for instance requires an attorney accompany the notary inside the Unit. This can be really tricky unless the inmate is transferred to Green Bay Unit where this requirement is waived.

For four months now I’ve been mailing checks to clients who were cancelled or never scheduled at all at venues and prisons across the United States to cover 1/2 the cost to replace their first marriage license with a second marriage license. With my client load this is and continues to be a “hefty expense.” But, we are all in this together.

I’m going to revisit the many people trying to get into your pockets by requiring a deposit for a wedding we don’t know will happen within the shelf life of the marriage license. Be aware that anyone requiring a deposit during this unprecedented time is deliberately taking money right out of your pocket during a time when you need money most. I haven’t been taking deposits since late April upon realizing that a two week shutdown would be extended over and over again. Keep your money. You need it.

A number of people have contacted me regarding paying someone only to find their phone had been disconnected or the officiant refused to answer their phone. I answer my phone 7 days a week from 8AM-9PM. Loyalty and transparency are critical. Know who you are hiring and do research about who you are hiring. It’s out there. It’s easy to find. You are a single income household and as such need to provide for your family first and foremost. My fees aren’t due until 7 days prior to a scheduled ceremony. I’m waiving booking deposits and have been for months.

Because there are so many loved ones of seniors fighting these visitation bans as well as loved ones of inmates fighting them, there is strength in numbers. Both sets of people are in the same situation. There are many organizations fighting these visitation bans. Oklahoma, Missouri and Delaware folded to the pressure.

I want to address the client base of previous inmate weddings who are scheduling Vow Renewals upon release as a group. Currently many counties have a group limit of 10 people. These limits are subject to change. We are happy to move your dates to accommodate a date beyond the current limits. Stay calm. We will get this worked out.

Masks at ceremonies. The strong possibility of this requirement is a reality when visitation is reinstated. However, I’m going to encourage you to lift your mask for the kiss at the end of my ceremony. I’m also going to encourage you to write your own vows to extend or timeline inside the Unit. There are no special visits after a wedding in Texas although many of our other states allow one. Texas does not. Because of this and the fact that we have a minimum of 20 minutes and my ceremony lasts 12-14 minutes, please consider writing song lyrics, heartfelt memories, scripture or poetry to buy us more time on the inside.

Unit Photos- We cannot Request Retakes. Because of this, I buy 3 Units photos if they are available as a courtesy.

Guests- No guests are authorized however, guests are encouraged to wait in the parking area as they are welcome to join you in bridal or groom photos with me once we leave the Unit. I will have enough additional inventory of bouquets, tiaras, fascinators, veils, signs and fun props for up to 10 additional people.

Rings- Ring exchanges are not permitted in Texas. Oklahoma, you have a limit as to the value of $50.

California, it’s imperative you check your audio for video weddings. Please do this prior to your scheduled video wedding. Audio problems are continuing to get weddings rescheduled. Call a friend. Call me. Check your audio settings.

New York- I have emailed you on changes. Please check your email.

Louisianna- We have no idea when in person ceremonies will resume however we have emailed updates this morning.

Arkansas- Please check your emails.

All other service area states, wait to buy the replacement licenses until we have more information to prevent your second marriage license expiring.

It’s important to remember that while we worry about inmates that they are worrying about loved ones on the outside too. Although it’s difficult, please try to remain positive and hopeful when calling or writing your loved one.

I’m in Dallas County today and will check emails, phone calls and texts between clients.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen Covey

I’m always concerned when on of my clients sends me a text or DM that reads “there’s something I need to talk to you about. Are you busy?”

I always drop everything to immediately respond to messages like this because I can feel their sense of urgency.

I’m everyone’s mom. I’m always available to my clients seven days a week from 8AM-9PM.

Other vendors who follow me are often surprised that my role by far surpasses planning and officiating a ceremony.

My role expands and extends to that of a friend, counselor, problem solver and patient listener.

Karen had been concerned about what to do after realizing her fiancée was involved with K2. This problem isn’t isolated to Karen. This problem is spreading through prisons. I listened to her concerns and waited for her to express her wide range of emotions and disappointment before responding.

First, I needed to help her understand her own needs. Second, I needed her to establish boundaries. Third, I needed her to reinforce these boundaries. It’s not easy dealing with an addict. Fourth, addicts are expert manipulators and Karen would need to stop sending money. It wouldn’t be easy for her to do this. Why? Because she’s been sending money for a long time. She’s been doing what she can to support an inmate that she plans to marry.

Setting boundaries is often difficult to do. Dealbreakers always are. You need to know what’s “too much” for you. You need to find that line and establish it. I knew the inmate would be angry regarding Karen taking a stand. But my client is my focus not the inmate. I always put my clients needs and issues as my primary concerns. They need reinforcement. They need a sounding board. An unbiased listener. They need me.

The words to an Elvis Presley song immediately came to mind regarding inmates not getting what they wanted and getting upset about it.

You know I’ll be your slave if you ask me to.
But if you don’t behave
I’ll walk right out on you. If you want my love then take my advice and treat me nice.”

We had a lengthy conversation. The following day after much grief, Karen sent me a message that she felt better about her decision although it was a difficult choice. Saying no always is. The person you are saying no to will react in a number of different ways. First, they will often use guilt. Second, they will often use anger. Hold your ground.

I’ve also had numerous clients in a number of states contacting me regarding debt collector calls. When the economy tanks, the collectors come out. Zombie debt and third party lawsuits are real. Respond to collection letters. Call me if you need help writing a verification or validation letter. Respond to a lawsuit by filing an answer. Your answer should be General Denial. Most of these lawsuits are third party debt buyers. They buy the debt then pursue the debt. The debt is often time barred from a lawsuit. To alter this, the collector establishes a new account on your credit report. This effectively re ages a previously time barred debt. I need all of you ESPECIALLY if you have ever had a defaulted debt to be diligent. Check your credit reports. Fight erroneous entries. Freeze your credit. If you don’t know how to respond to a debt lawsuit, contact me but don’t hide from a debt collector. They will find you. Erroneous debt and unscrupulous debt collectors have been around for many years. They use threats and coercion to attempt to bully you into making a payment or an agreement. These will reopen and re age the original debt. Don’t fold. Contact me.

Yet another client contacted me regarding a death row inmate and wanted to know “what’s going to happen?” First, I know you haven’t done this before. Stay calm. Nothing scary is going to happen. I will be by your side at all times inside the Unit. I will walk you through exactly what’s going to happen as well as exactly what you can or cannot do. I will prepare you. We are in this together and you will never be separated from me inside a Unit unless you need to use the restroom.

We have twenty minutes. I encourage you to write your own vows to extend our timeline. Why? My ceremony takes 11-13 minutes. Once finished we are hustled out. I encourage you to write poetry, scripture, vows and even song lyrics to “buy” an additional few minutes inside. Why? We’ve spent months getting to wedding day and I want you to savor every second.

Song lyrics can often be changed or altered easily. Badfingers Day After Day works well. “I remember finding out about you. Every day, my mind is all around you. Looking out from my lonely room, day after day. Bring it home, baby, make it soon
I give my love to you.”

Or, Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together works well too. “Let me say that since, baby, since we’ve been together. Loving you forever is what I need. Let me, be the one you come running to. I’ll never be untrue.”

There are so many song lyrics that perfectly fit an expression of love that can be easily incorporated into a wedding ceremony that the list is endless.

Tuesday morning I had a call regarding “music at the wedding ceremony.” We cannot have music at any wedding ceremony within a detention facility. Whether it’s state, federal, ICE or county. This request comes up rather frequently. Once client at Estes was so determined to have music that she asked me to sing. I’m not a hip hop singer but I did my best. My best brought riotous laughter from the inmate and the correctional officers but if it’s important to you I will try to accommodate your request. Remember though that I’m not Beyoncé.

Bridget sent me a message regarding finding an RV park near Palestine. I immediately thought of my other client, Larissa who manages an RV park and sent her a message to link Bridget and Larissa. Larissa also told me her grandmother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, her father had suffered a heart attack and her beloved aunt whom I had met on wedding day in Beaumont was struggling with blood sugar issues during this pandemic. I was deeply saddened and concerned. Everyone is struggling through this unprecedented and troubling virus. It’s changed the way we live. It’s robbed us of structure, predictability and peace.

Many of my clients are so anxious about this “new normal” that I’ve been asked about coping strategies. Because many of my blog followers might have missed my post on FB, I’m copying and pasting tips for dealing with stress and anxiety during this pandemic below.

From helplessness to hopelessness we are going through something entirely new and foreign to us. This adjustment is a learning curve. Everything changed for us in a short window. Things we took for granted were taken away. Finding peace in a time of crisis can be challenging.

Some individuals are being heavily impacted by physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, trouble sleeping, and changes in appetite. Stress affects everyone differently.

Others may find cognitive symptoms to be a greater stressor resulting in difficulties recalling memories, problems with concentration, inability to control negative thoughts, ruminating on the same thoughts, and having trouble seeing any positives.

These anxiety symptoms are the body and mind’s natural response to rapid adaptations in your familial, work, financial, and emotional environments. It is likely that they may get better with time as you adjust to your “new normal,” but you can immediately use the strategies below to help manage anxiety and other difficult feelings.

1. Separate out worries into productive and unproductive actions.

Worries can be turned into productive preparations and cautionary behaviors like taking vitamins, stocking up on essentials and food, refilling medications, and so on. It is equally important to prepare mentally. You can stock up on your favorite reading materials and calming scents like lavender; make time to socialize through phone, video calls, online gaming; and in your downtime engage in a hobby or interest you enjoy.

When you find yourself worrying about something you have no control over and can’t convert into a positive preparation, it is helpful to “shelve” that thought, or let it go completely.

2. Make a visual list of coping skills and keep it readily accessible.

In times like these, you might find your typical ways of coping don’t cut it, and you need even more tools and strategies to turn to. You may also find your mind is overwhelmed with information and new adjustments, so you forget the things that used to come more naturally to you.

First, make a list of the things you do already and have done to manage stress and remain calm. Here are some ideas to get you started: therapy, talking to a friend, exercise, prayer, reading, meditation, yoga, creative activities, positive self-talk, cooking, gardening, journaling, deep breathing, listening to music, household projects, spring cleaning, meditation, puzzles/games, playing with your pets and kids, and doing something nice for someone else.

3. Challenge negative thoughts.

Chronic stress is often the result of negative thought patterns. Individuals who focus on and replay negative thoughts find the experience to be unpleasant, counterproductive, and in some cases resulting in depression. Challenging irrational, negative thoughts can allow you to change them by learning how to examine the validity of the negative thoughts and learn how to interpret situations using a different perspective.

4. Limit your exposure to anxiety-producing news and information.

It is important to stay up to date with new information but it is just as important to make a deliberate choice to read or watch the news. Refreshing your social media feeds throughout the day, or keeping the news on in the background, is overwhelming your senses and your ability to pay attention to other needs for yourself and your family.

Trust that you can get what you need in a few structured and limited times when you check your news sources. It is especially important to limit/monitor the way your children are receiving news about the virus. Stick to reliable sources and perhaps block people temporarily on social media if their reactions are increasing your negativity or anxiety.

5. Practice a daily mindful activity.

The bulk of the fear attached to anxiety comes from the anticipation of a future threat. Many people will catastrophize what is coming and have trouble separating assumptions from facts. Practicing a daily mindful activity places a focus on the now and not the future. This is done by separating feelings from judgments and focusing on things that are true and are occurring now, not what might happen.

Pick one thing you do daily and let your senses attend to that one thing — like brushing your teeth or making your morning coffee. When your mind wanders off, bring it back gently to your activity. A daily meditation practice can also help you be more mindful. Tara Brach and Christopher Germer have wonderful free meditations available online.

There are also many apps to help you start or build upon an existing practice (Headspace, Insight Timer, Buddhify, Calm). Additionally, you can hear my guided meditations for free on Spotify and Google Play (Unwind: Guided Relaxation, by Amy Vigliotti).

6. Talk about it, write about it, let it out.

There is a common misconception that talking about anxiety makes it worse because it encourages people to think about what makes them anxious. The reality, however, is that people who experience anxiety experience it whether they talk about it or not. Research has found that expressing anxious thoughts can help individuals feel as if they are getting those negative thoughts “out of their system” and/or diminish the intensity of their feelings. You can express your thoughts to trusted friends/family, keep a journal, or write them on notes to then be discarded later.

7. Pay attention to positive events.

Picture yourself walking outside on a day where there is a mix of clouds and blue sky. In times of unusual stress, we all have a habit of focusing on the negative—the “clouds”—and missing the blue sky. If we ignore the blue sky, we make things even harder on ourselves.

You want to balance your consumption of “negative” news by reading and attending to positive events. There are always positive things to focus on even in times of great duress. We see fitness instructors giving online free workouts; neighbors lending a hand to elderly individuals; health care workers prioritizing the care of others in a selfless manner. And there are little things we can be grateful for as well: a hot shower, our morning coffee, a smile or text from a friend. If you want to take it a step further, you can be a positive change in your community. Doing something nice for someone else makes us feel good too.

We are all going through something we have never been through before. This pandemic and the uncertainty caused by it are stressful. Whether you are an essential worker or a parent now homeschooling and working, your life has changed to a “new normal.” This new normal is temporary but it is an adjustment. Take time to focus on yourself during this crisis.

Adjusting to and accepting change is different and often difficult for everyone. What works for one person might not work for another. Find a strategy that suits your individual needs. From a long walk to listening to music to visiting a friend to writing a letter to your loved one to buying a candle, what helps you relax is what will work best for you.

Because I haven’t been taking deposits for the past two months and effectively not formally booking new clients, I’ve made adjustments to assist new inquiries who may have had their marriage license expire trying to marry. Deduct $40 from the cost of your second marriage license to help you with expenses. I’m not taking deposits because I believe my clients need to keep their money during these uncertain times. You are single income households. Many of you are single parents. I want you to take care of yourselves as we wait out the reinstatement of visitation.

Booked clients are being mailed checks for 1/2 of the replacement cost of their marriage licenses for two months now. I want everyone to wait to buy that second license until we are sure that we can use it. Be patient as this too shall pass. I will get you married.

As always I’m going to remind everyone not to panic. If you need a friendly ear I’m always available and want you to know that you are not alone. We are all in this together…

Loyalty, Love, And Laying It All On The Table. Marriage, Mergers & Messes…

It’s not uncommon for me to get a “problem call” on wedding day. In fact, it’s common and a regular occurrence.

For two months now these “problem calls” have been rolling in. They aren’t coming from my clients in numerous states marrying an inmate either.

Instead they are coming from my “traditional clients.” Standard bookings from Texas Twins Events, The Pawning Planners, or a venue I’m on staff at.

My traditional clients are and can be my “trickier group.” Why? Because during this pandemic the changes they’ve been forced to make in order to get married have left them anxious and occasionally event angry. “They had a plan. They had a guest list.”

They had thought of everything and what they missed I had thought of for them.

Neither my clients, my staff or myself could ever have “planned for Covid-19.”

What was today’s problem? My bride decided that she didn’t want her mother in law to be walked down the aisle by the groom aka her son.

I was advised by the bride to advise the mother of the groom of her “change in plans.”

I had questions as to why what had been rehearsed was now being changed at the 11th hour?

Apparently, last night at the rehearsal dinner held at a restaurant that wouldn’t allow more than 25 guests at a time, an argument broke out about who could go in. This is a rather new problem since restaurants in Fort Worth have reopened. For a month and a half the rehearsal dinner was swapped for a backyard barbecue or Uber eats.

I’m “new” to these pandemic changes myself and didn’t attend the rehearsal dinner although I was invited because I had another commitment and because I haven’t eaten in a restaurant for over two months now. Like many others, I’m cautious about being out in public. I need to stay healthy for my clients. I cannot risk getting this virus by being with large groups of people. Since there was a “sideways shuffle” regarding who could get in the restaurant and who couldn’t, I’m THANKFUL I took a pass.

My bride was adamant regarding “putting her mother in law in her place because it’s my wedding.” I hear this all of the time spoken by people who take possession of the frivolity but take a pass on the expenses.

Sadly, the mother of the groom was the person who hired me AND effectively my actual client.

This type of “who is the boss” is so common with my traditional clients that after ten years of being the “go between” I should be accustomed to “awkward situations” but I’m not.

Sitting in my Sahara at Tom Thumb to get emergency flowers to create Bouteniers for the florist who had already sent me a text that she was “short” on flowers for the wedding party, I took a deep breath and called the mother of the groom to broach this change to the procession. Ugh.

My client answered on the second ring. “I was just about to call you. She’s impossible! The florist is also short on bouteniers for the parents of the couple can you take care of that?”

I was in the process of “taking care of it.” The number of times I’ve had to cover another vendor who didn’t cover their own obligations making their job mine is always a thorn in my side.

If you are a florist get it together and go over your order. Stop expecting everyone else especially me to CYA (cover YOUR ass) on wedding day.

I waited and listened to my client relive the entire rehearsal dinner fiasco. “I’m the mother of the groom. I’m writing the checks and even offered to pay for the rehearsal dinner and I’m not invited? What the hell is wrong with her? She’s writing checks her mouth can’t cover. This wedding is going to be stressful for me you know my mother is in the hospital. Wendy what can we do to soothe these ruffled feathers? I’m not in the habit of handing my credit card to someone and then being told I can’t attend a dinner to celebrate my son.”

Whoo the treacherous landscape of the life event business. Clients, chaos and a literal circus without the midway or the corn dogs.

Someone is always feeling slighted. Someone else is acting arrogant. Still someone else is feeling taken advantage of.

I often hear Cindy humming her big top theme music whether she’s sitting next to me or not.

My twin sisters famous quote “close the tent this circus has too many clowns” rang in my ears with the circus music fading away in the background. No rides. No corn dogs but plenty of suspense.

I checked my Corum watch to view the “countdown.” Two hours and counting. Damnit. The bride would be in hair and makeup. The groom would be killing time taking calls. Giving directions to the venue. Probably having a quick drink with the groomsmen.

I finally respond and explain why I called to my client aka the mother of the groom offended by the consistent arrogant behavior of the bride throughout the planning process.

“The bride wants to change the procession for the wedding. She’s decided that she wants you seated prior to the procession. I’m really sorry as you know to have to relate this rather odd request and don’t know how you wish for me to relay your response or what can be done to meet in the middle. Because you are my actual client though I’m going to suggest speaking to your son who is most likely unaware of this possible change of plans.”

I often calculate or guess who might be the “best candidate” for a buffer to work with in times of conflict.

On the one hand I have a mother slighted. On the other hand I have a bride acting like a Bridezilla. In the middle I have a groom trying to make his mother and his bride happy.

The groom holds a unique position of being able to put out this fire. However, it will be I who “broach this subject” rather than his mother in order to remove the possibility of chili stirring outside of the immediate problem.

I’m certain the groom has heard plenty already from all sides regarding that rehearsal dinner gone wrong.

I’ve encountered Groomzillas before but I’m lucky this morning. This groom is mild mannered and knows exactly what he’s dealing with.

His parents are divorced making his position even more stressful. His mother and father don’t want to be anywhere near each other.

The father of the groom isn’t paying for anything the mother of the groom is. She holds a position of power, custody and control and she knows it. She’s graceful about it but she’s writing the checks and anyone unaware of this fact is quickly enlightened by my client. She’s self assured. No nonsense. She wants everything perfect and she’s happy to pay for it.

She also offers to call her son for me but I quickly brush off the idea. I need her focused on relaxing and getting ready. I also don’t want an argument between the mother and son hours before a wedding. I will handle this myself with kid gloves.

“I will call your son in just a few minutes. I’m at Tom Thumb covering the florist so give me a few minutes. You go focus on getting beautiful and I will see you at the venue.”

I needed those minutes. Going into a wedding day knowing the possibility of a blow up exists isn’t for the faint hearted.

I’m reminded of the father of the bride in California who was offended about the pizza party rehearsal dinner. He wasn’t paying for anything but he sure was complaining about everything. “This is a cheap out on so and so’s part. It’s embarrassing. Pizza and no alcohol either. Do something. Tell them how unhappy I am about this.”

Umm hmm. First I was going to give this father of the bride a few options since he was so embarrassed. Stay tuned ya all because what he was expecting me to do and what I did were wholly and entirely surprising.

“I understand your frustration. As a planner and officiant, I often find myself in the middle of conflict. I’ve got a great idea though and it’s for you to offer to cover the cost of the rehearsal dinner which would also give you the opportunity to change the location. Where would you like to have the dinner? I will advise the wedding party of the location change.”

Tennis. It’s always shocking when you hit that ball right back into someone else’s court.

“I don’t have any plans to cover the cost of the rehearsal dinner. That’s the grooms families responsibility not mine.”

Sure you don’t. What you want is to complain and shame the other family who are on a limited budget and try to force them to pay for something they can’t afford. Sit down and shut up. The rehearsal dinner went on at the pizza parlor and everyone except the father of the bride had a great time. The salad bar was amazing too.

Yet another father of the bride in Dallas managed to get under my skin a few years ago. That event was crazy too. The mother and father were divorced. There was also a stepmother and godmother. Everyone wanted their “own wedding without so and so involved.” Four weddings for one couple? On a timeline and frustrated about this outrageous demand, I came up with the solution to limit this chaotic craziness on location to the father. “You want me to perform the same ceremony four times? Aren’t you and the stepmother married? That would be three ceremonies. First for the mother. Second for you and your wife. Third for the godmother. My fee for three ceremonies is $$$.

Tennis. It’s a game I play nearly everyday although not on a court. My game is with people.

“I wasn’t planning to pay you for three ceremonies. I was planning to pay you for one. I just don’t want to be around my idiotic ex wife or her former best friend aka the godmother.”

The number of times people tell me what they want but aren’t willing to pay for would astound you. It always astounds me.

“I’ve got a solution. If your wife is willing to pay for one ceremony and you are willing to pay for another, I will ask the godmother how important a third ceremony is to her. Your guests weren’t planning to sit through three ceremonies. It’s August and it’s hot. Let’s consider their needs.”

The godmother and mother agreed to “share a ceremony.” The father begrudgingly took the second ceremony after a coin flip to be in the first ceremony.

I called my groom leaving Tom Thumb to “broach the ceremony details.” As usual, whenever I’ve talked to him he was good natured and “aware of the situation.”

“What can we do to make my mom feel special and included?” Well, there are a number of things but what was important to her was to walk with her son. “I know you haven’t considered this before and may be able to communicate it to the bride for me but one day you will have children. One day your mother will be a grandmother. One day this day will be in the past but not forgotten. I’m going to suggest speaking to your bride and advising her of the marriage investment your mother put into this day because her parents couldn’t afford to. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the forest for the trees but everything your bride wanted has been addressed by your mother. She deserves to share this day with you. She earned it.”

I gave him a few minutes to ponder my thoughts on what was just and fair. He was in a precarious position of being the man in the middle. It’s not an easy position. It’s a position my son had years ago and it’s stressful. You can’t make everyone happy all of the time but you can be rational on wedding day. You can be respectful and you can be thankful for those who contributed to the expense of your wedding.

“Ms Wendy you’re right. I know that __ has been a bit tough to deal with throughout this process and I thought that once the wedding was over she would settle down but maybe I should talk to her and tell her it’s important to me.” Good plan.

The wedding went off without a hitch and the bride had an eye opening enlightenment regarding her new mother in law being an ally rather than an enemy vying for the attention of her new beau. One day she will be a mother and her parents who bothered to show up at the wedding but didn’t bother to do anything else will probably show up at the birth of her child but her new mother in law will be involved. Excited. Shopping for her new grandchild and an active part of its life.

Why parents push the person their children are marrying away I have no idea. Marriage is a merger. It merges families. It blends people who may not blend well.

I’m glad we were scheduled so early today as I head to my next “socially distant ceremony.” I’m happy that things worked out and I had time to enjoy my coffee while sitting in the parking lot watching guests take selfies and wait their turn to congratulate my couple.

“When KINDNESS is CONSISTENT it becomes CONSTANT.” Cindy Daniel

Socially distant weddings are so odd to me. I miss being in a room crammed with guests and family. I miss the party environment. The celebration. The precious moments.

What I also miss the most are my prison weddings. I can’t wait for visitation to reopen. There are no arguments over rehearsal dinners or the procession. There are no issues of entitlement. There are amazing people who are thrilled to be getting married and thankful for the opportunity…

“Is The Nightmare Really Black Or Are The Windows Painted?” Elton John

For two months now I’ve waited and hoped for good news while praying that this virus would leave as quickly as it came. I’m not alone. The news is so depressing these days.

From anxiety to depression Covid-19 has set the world on edge. For inmates the fear of dying is valid. For loved ones of inmates worry and concern go hand in hand.

There isn’t any good news these days. Gloom and Doom fill the internet, news and media.

Finding hope amidst hopelessness is no easy task. In fact it’s similar to searching for a needle in a haystack.

My hometown of Lompoc, California is saturated with Covid cases. The COVID-19 time bomb ticking inside the Lompoc prison complex since late March detonated in dramatic fashion this week as the federal facility confirmed 912 open cases among inmates and 25 cases among staff. The outbreak remains the largest in any federal prison in the United States.

The rest of Santa Barbara County has reported 475 total positive cases.

My sister, Tammy called me alarmed, worried and concerned about filing for unemployment. It’s something neither I or my sisters have ever done before.

Tammy has worked at an upscale restaurant in Buelton since she was 19 years old. Everyone in our family learned the value of working at a very young age. We didn’t have anyone to “fall back on.” Instead we had each other and strong work ethics.

There are three things that I remember most about Lompoc every time I roll into town, the prison, the base and the flowers. Lompoc is known as the valley of the flowers. Tammy never left Lompoc.

Many of our relatives stayed in Lompoc but Cindy and I had no real choice about leaving. Our mothers mother adopted Tammy.

Our father loaded up Cindy, Jerry and I and left our hometown and everything familiar to us behind.

I thrive on structure and predictability. My reasons are based entirely on my childhood. Nothing was predictable. Bounced from relative to relative my siblings and I were often unaware of where we would be from one day to the next.

Cindy has stayed in the same house for nearly twenty five years so her daughters and granddaughters could attend the same schools. Structure is important to her too.

My son attended private school so moving wouldn’t change his structure. I drove him thirty minutes to an hour away until he was able and old enough to drive himself.

I wanted my son to go to school with the same friends. Predictability and structure during his school years were very important to me. Being the mother I didn’t have was never easy or inexpensive but worth my effort and attention.

I wanted predictability for my child I had never had for myself. Cindy and I both shared the same importance of stability for our children that we had never had as children ourselves.

Cindy and I broke the chains of our broken childhood. We changed the outcome for our own children and grandchildren. We gave them the childhood we would have wanted for ourselves. It was entirely a joint decision.

Cindy and I have both raised our children and grandchildren together.

Mothers Day is always a hardship for me. It’s a day of gloom and doom even in the best of times. I can never understand why our mother made the decisions she did.

Further I cannot under any circumstances send a sappy card about what a wonderful mother she was. None of my mothers children can. We struggle through every Mother’s Day fighting to remain positive. Pretending we have a normal family. Knowing we don’t. We never have. We never will.

Our mother broke our family. She exposed all three of her daughters to predators. Addicts and “friends” of hers who took advantage of her children often right in front of her. We had no one to protect us. We had no one who cared enough to step up or step in.

My depression each and every Mother’s Day occasionally takes me several days to put away.

Posts from happy families celebrating their mother. Internet “tips” for making this Mother’s Day perfect for your mother. The best way to treat your mother to a wonderful holiday based entirely on the sacrifices she made for her children. Ugh.

Cindy and I switched up this Mother’s Day ooh la la stuff when our children were old enough to realize we prefer to treat it like any other day and treat our kids to lunch and a movie or a trip to the casino. Our older kids are in their 30’s.

Cindy’s twin grand daughters often buy gifts for her and I while shopping with my husband or their Papa. They don’t understand why Mother’s Day is a dark day for us.

The twins don’t know why their MiMi’s dread the yearly phone call to our mother to wish her a happy Mother’s Day while secretly wondering why we continue to keep up this “faux celebration” of a day that reminds us over and over again that we never had a real mother. We never will.

Monday while scrolling FB and waiting on the police to report my fathers truck stolen, I saw a post from Naquitia about Mother’s Day that grabbed my attention. She was hurt that her children hadn’t bothered to do anything for Mother’s Day. I was relieved my son hadn’t. Why rub it in? The day of the year that kicks off my yearly reminder of having absent parents is Mother’s Day.

Don’t even get me started on Father’s Day. Ugh from the frying pan straight over to the fire. Tit for tat. “You wouldn’t be where you are without me.” Really? I’m where I am because I learned that in order to keep from starving I would need to work my ass off. I don’t “owe” anybody. I’m well off and live comfortably. I don’t have to work. No one gave me financial security. I earned it.

By the time I slap myself together enough to put Mother’s Day behind me it’s Father’s Day. You get the point.

Anyway, I’ve been driving by my dads house for two years. What am I looking for? Broken windows. Signs of an intruder. The usual. I had driven past when I noticed his truck was missing. Ugh. Now I had to have a conversation with my dad BEFORE Father’s Day to “update him that the truck was missing.”

My father and I have a very strained relationship. My father never forgave me for hiring an investigator to locate my mother in my 20’s.

In fact most of my fathers side of the family and even my brother were angered about it.

I wanted answers. I really wanted an apology. I got neither. The same day my mother met me in exchange for $1500 she was in a debilitating car accident that she would never recover from.

I was so shocked by my meeting with her that I lost the opportunity to tell her what a shit she was. Why couldn’t she lie and say she was sorry or that she wondered what had happened to us? Why couldn’t I express my anger? I was dumb struck at her cold responses while she counted my money.

I would never have the opportunity to “say what I really think” to my mother. She has no memory of what she put her four children through. I believe she knows more than she lets on but challenging this fact would upset my sisters and our already fragile faux normal family. I zip it instead.

My sisters and I pretend normality around our mother. It’s strained, awkward and always emotionally debilitating.

My friend and prison bride, Naquitia had written on her FB wall “my kids don’t even know what day this is.”

I was immediately struck by her post for a few reasons. First, her kids should know what day it is the older ones at least and second I was busy trying to forget Mother’s Day.

I commented on the post and advised her that Cindy and I try to forget Mother’s Day every year.

Her response touched me though. “If I had a husband at home, he would be taking these kids to buy me gifts and teaching them to celebrate me.”

It’s something I had never really put much thought into but she was right. My prison clients in numerous states are often alone on Mother’s Day. Those who aren’t are often forgotten by their children.

Another prison bride sent me a message on FB that read “my son isn’t talking to me it’s been six months. What can I do? My heart is broken.” Karen like many mothers would like to mend this rift but her son doesn’t approve of her plans to marry an inmate. I suggested sending her son a card or letter expressing her love for him while acknowledging that she must make her own decisions when it comes to choosing a life partner.

I have no idea how this will turn out for Karen but I firmly believe in the power of communicating your feelings unless of course you are me and my sisters. We communicate our feelings to each other and skip our parents.

When Cindy’s husband was home and Leigh Ann and Stephaney we’re younger, Steve took them shopping for Cindy to celebrate Mother’s Day.

When my son was still living at home, Matthew not only took him to shop for a Mother’s Day gift but even got a card from my dog, Foxy lord rest his soul. I’ve missed Foxy so much during this pandemic. He would have loved having me home.

I decided to send Naquitia some fabric. She’s an excellent seamstress and I knew she would enjoy some of our LV fabric to make masks. She did. She also sent me a photo wearing the mask she had used my material to create.

Naquitia is a good friend. All of my clients are. They are amazing, resilient and sadly, alone. Separated from their loved ones by prison walls. Sending the fabric to Naquitia, I decided to send a few of our custom masks to a few of my prison clients who had messaged me regarding being miserable on Mother’s Day themselves. Better late than never. If their kids wouldn’t celebrate them I would.

The inability to visit their loved ones along with the worry that their loved ones will become sick with Covid spreading through the prison system keeps fear and hopelessness at an all time high.

My clients have resilience, strength, patience and perseverance. They have also taught me to focus on other mothers on Mother’s Day rather than my own. It’s taken me 55 years to get past hating Mother’s Day but my clients have.

The police finally arrived at my dads house to take the stolen truck report and logged off FB to begin going over the details.

Google images showed that the truck had been parked exactly where I had last seen it and tread marks appear to have been from a trailer hauling it off.

The truck had sat there for five years. Flat tires and all. Who would steal it?

Someone was unaware that I regularly drive by and would notice it was missing.

Three months ago my sister and I hired a tow truck to move my dads other car a Mitsubishi Galant to her home until we could find an international carrier to move it to our brothers home in Monroe, North Carolina. It’s expensive to move vehicles ya all.

The policeman needed my dads date of birth. Ugh. I have no idea of my dads date of birth. I called my sister in law, Michelle who knew it.

I have no idea what my mothers birthday is either. I know my parents were both 21 when Cindy and I were born. We’ve never celebrated our parents birthdays. They’ve never celebrated ours.

I’ve never had a birthday gift from anyone in my family in my entire life. Cindy hasn’t either. For many years after locating my mother that fateful day in California and wishing I hadn’t, the benefit of meeting my mothers mother who never forgot my birthday or Christmas and even my sons birthday was the sheer delight of finding a greeting card in my mailbox.

When the cards stopped coming I knew that grandma Tinney had passed on. No birthday card in November no Christmas card in December. I called Lompoc and confirmed that grandma Tinney was gone.

The only person in my entire life who bothered to send a birthday and Christmas card every year to not only me but also my sister Cindy and her daughters. You remember things that you never had. You are thankful for them too.

Father’s Day is right around the corner. There are 3 days I intentionally overlook every year. My birthday, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I’ve decided to start focusing on others instead. It’s a good place to start.

My clients are the family I never had but was gifted with instead. They bring me joy. They call to check on me during this pandemic. They are amazing.

While I continue to hope and pray this virus finally leaves the prison system and the former structure of my life can be restored, I’m hopeful that Father’s Day this year will be different for me. My son is a new father. I’m a new grandmother. I have many things in my life to be thankful for. I will focus on moving beyond my anxiety of going down the card aisle with others buying sappy cards for their parents and buy a sappy card for my son and his wife or my clients.

I will work on accepting that not having parents in my life made me a better person. A kinder person. A compassionate person. The things in my life I didn’t have never defined me. I became the person I wanted to meet. The mother I never had. The father my son needed. I was capable of far more.

You don’t need parents in your life to be a good parent. You need patience, love and understanding…

Homebound And Feeling Down? You Aren’t Alone…

My entire adult life has been built around structure. I’ve always had a schedule. I don’t anymore.

My “new normal” consists of going outside to take out the trash these days and making a run for it if one of my neighbors happens to be doing the same thing at the same time or meeting clients and staying in my suv. It’s odd to not walk into a venue or a unit. It’s odd to change so much so quickly.

Social distancing has affected anyone who takes this virus seriously. For others who don’t, they eventually do when their job shuts down or their city is locked down by a safety in place order.

Due to the number of requests for drive by ceremonies, I’ve updated my site pages… Texas Twins Events I cannot and will not “just sign a license.” I will conduct a ceremony regardless of how brief PRIOR to signing your license.

Changes to how, where and when people are now getting married by car are shocking but occurring with regularity during this virus window.

Suddenly being stuck at home and unprepared for the possibility has caught a number of folks with their pants down. People who didn’t know how to cook are learning. People with limited food at home are “winging it” with wild recipes of items they have on hand.

I miss seeing my grandson the past 2 weeks. I miss my clients, my structure, my predictability and my family. I miss the way things “used to be.” But, this is temporary. Self quarantine protects all of us. It’s inconvenient but it’s essential.

My twin sister summed up this unexpected virus to me while I was sadly calling 9 clients last week to advise them that their event had been cancelled.

These clients had been scheduled at 4 TDCJ Units, 2 FBOP facilities 1 ICE Detention Center and 1 county jail and were excitedly looking forward to a wedding they had waited months to have.

Cindy summed up the situation better than I could have (as usual).

“YOU will no longer FEAR the STORM, once you’ve SURVIVED the DROUGHT”

Cindy literally has a flair for iconic and memorable quotes that I’ve never had.

Yesterday, I reviewed a DM from a Linda who wanted to know if I “had heard about Harvey Weinstein?” I follow prison news and legal news closely and ironically had told my husband weeks ago “they are taking him to Bellevue.” Matthew wanted to know the outcome of a very public and sensational trial. I had tuned in at odd times to follow this trial.

While awaiting sentencing, Weinstein was kept at Rikers.

Rikers Island is among the world’s largest jails – it is perched on a 413 acre island between Queens and the Bronx and holds about 7,000 inmates, down from more than 20,000 at its peak in the 1990s.

The majority (85%) of detainees at Rikers Island are pretrial defendants, either held on bail or remanded in custody. The rest of the population have been convicted and are serving short sentences.

As early as February, Bellevue had reported cases of Coronavirus. But the main story that most of us will remember is the death of Kobe not the outbreak of a virus sweeping through New York.

Obviously, Weinstein wasn’t sick during the trial or showing signs of illness.

How do I know? From catching glimpses of the trial. No one was coughing or showing signs of difficulty breathing. That trial was charged with emotion but without visible signs of illness.

Meanwhile at Bellevue, more cases surfaced not only there but at other hospitals as well.

Because Weinstein had suffered a mild heart attack, he was sent to Bellevue for an angioplasty procedure.

There weren’t any reports of Coronavirus at Rikers until after Weinstein having that angioplasty. Think about it.

My observation of the widespread and unheard of transmissions of the Coronavirus at Rikers took me a moment to try and understand why or how the virus had come to get into Rikers.

Was it a guard? A weekend visitor? Or was it Weinstein returning to custody from Bellevue? Could his nurse or treatment team at Bellevue have inadvertently transferred the virus to Weinstein it was it a hard surface that Weinstein came in contact with? Hospitals are riddled with germs as are prisons.

Many posts regarding Weinstein becoming infected with the Coronavirus run from “he deserved it” to “that’s great.” Focus on where he’s been and who has been around him ya all.

What these folks are missing here is the number of people who have been within 6 feet of Weinstein.

Regardless of your feelings about HIM what about THEM?

Attorneys, correctional officers, hospital staff, I could go on and on here. Reporters within close proximity are and have been equally “exposed.”

Someone else had commented on yet another post regarding Rikers being overrun by the virus. Another “who cares?” Well, for people this narrow minded and unconcerned about inmates, it should be noted that the inmates family care.

The correctional officers and their families care too.

Do these people posting hateful comments realize the number of people who work within the criminal justice system prior to making idiotic public remarks? No. Because they don’t love an inmate or an officer. They don’t care about inmates. But there are millions of people who do care about inmates.

There are families who care about a loved one working at a facility overrun with a deadly virus too.

Prisons have millions of visitors on weekends throughout the U.S. But if we look at where this virus is running rampantly through the criminal justice system, it isn’t affecting any state as much as New York. Why? Rikers and Bellevue? The airport? A city that’s a literal hub for international travel? Public transportation? Cabs? Ubers? Drivers from the network? Hotels? Airplanes?

Could it be because Weinstein literally “brought the Coronavirus into Rikers from Bellevue? It is a possibility. Or was an officer already infected and transporting Weinstein from court to Rikers or from Bellevue to Rikers? Was he already infected during the trial? He didn’t appear to be but if the incubation period is two weeks the possibility of him being ill at some point are possible.

Rikers is now releasing inmates at an alarming pace. Were these other inmates exposed? We may never know but the possibility exists.

Other correctional facilities are following Rikers lead. They too want to thin the numbers of inmates. This has never occurred within the criminal justice system before. TDCJ will not follow the lead of others and neither is CDCR although many are pressuring early releases. CDCR may very well start releasing older inmates or inmates with health issues due to the number of people pressuring them to do so but pressure won’t affect TDCJ. This is Texas and Texas is being proactive rather than reactive.

Ironically, the Fort Worth PD announced publicly that they won’t arrest Class C suspects. They don’t want to bring anything into the jails. But does this announcement encourage criminal behavior? Maybe. In Texas, most citizens are armed and in a position to protect their home and property. Texans are preparers by nature. Most know how to hunt and fish. Parents and grandparents teach kids gun safety at a young age. I was one of those kids. My uncle handed me a rifle at about ten years old. I don’t like guns and never have but I know how to use one and my husband has taken me to driving ranges for years to keep me aware of the possibility of one day needing to use a gun to protect myself. I hope that day never comes.

How did the virus get to Bellevue? A woman returning from abroad flew into Newark and then went to Bellevue. Did Bellevue already have the virus? Maybe. Was it a possibility? Absolutely.

  • No one took this Coronavirus seriously until they were forced to do so. Including me. I viewed this virus as I did the flu which affects and kills people every year.
  • I’m OCD and to people around me known as a germ freak. Those months spent volunteering at the nursing home taught me to be aware of germs and the transmission of germs. I’ve never forgotten what I learned about sterilization at that nursing home.
  • Why? At 15 years old I was volunteering at a nursing home for a health class to attempt to go into the nursing profession.
  • At a very young age, I learned about germs. Nurses and personnel warned me about infection and transmission.
  • Although I chose another path in my career, I’ve never forgotten how fragile seniors are and how easily germs can spread through a nursing home. Prisons are equally vulnerable as are hospitals.
  • I began officiating inmate weddings in California years ago prior to other states including Texas, I followed the same stringent guidelines about sanitizing my hands prior to entering and after leaving a Unit.
  • I also had advised my PCP that I would be going into prisons and needed booster immunizations in order to protect my clients, the facility staff, myself and the inmates.
  • When my twin sister, Cindy and niece, Leigh Ann began officiating inmate ceremonies, they followed the same regimen of doing whatever they could to stay healthy and immunized. Why? Because the importance of being vigilant is to protect not only ourselves but also those around us.
  • I had an inquisitive phone call about a post on my FB page, Prison Weddings With Wendy Wortham after posting my observations regarding Rikers. It was a reporter. She had read my post regarding Rikers and Bellevue.
  • Why no one else saw or noticed the same things I did I have no idea. I love a mystery. I love trying to figure out what happened or will happen. With the Coronavirus, no one could have anticipated what has happened. No one.
  • While the media reported that Weinstein “tested positive,” what they didn’t do was attempt to find out how.
  • My self imposed isolation began last Monday. I’ve continued to stay in touch with clients, Units and my family. I’ve officiated two drive through funerals. Shocking yes but I’ve also had a flood of people contacting me because their “other officiant” effectively bailed on them.
  • Fear flops two ways. While vendors are upset about cancellations, customers are now getting cancelled by their vendor? This trend during wedding season has never occurred before.
  • BUT I can’t save everyone. I have to put my booked clients first which is why I’m not taking on new or short notice bookings. Why? Because I currently have a month of rescheduled events already. These clients are my priority.
  • “You must turn your back on the choir to focus on the congregation.”
  • My twin sister famously told me this at a wedding years ago. The couple were the congregation. Their families were the choir. Cindy and her iconic quotes are honest, raw and real.
  • Anyone contacting me with a full plate of clients awaiting reschedules is effectively the choir. I have an existing congregation.
  • The reporter contacting me wanted a Zoom conference. I prefer Skype and use it frequently for production companies and media interviews. Nonetheless and anyhow, I downloaded Zoom and attempted to “fix myself up.” What do I mean by that folks? Well my quarantine clothing consists of daytime pajamas and nighttime pajamas which obviously aren’t appropriate for a video conference call.
  • My husband asked “why are you putting on makeup? You aren’t going anywhere are you?”
  • The safety of officiating ceremonies from my car and limiting my interaction with mourners, clients and guests is and will be odd. Mobile weddings and funerals are unheard of but fast becoming a reality. Social distancing is a learning curve.
  • I miss the intimacy of hugging clients to celebrate their wedding or posing for wedding photos. I miss the intimacy of shaking hands and sharing my sorrow at a memorial. I can currently no longer perform baptisms. Social distancing and stringent guidelines to protect the transmission of this virus have literally changed the way I live.
  • All of my clients are upset about changes. From visitation revocation to rescheduled events, no one is happy about the current changes set forth to prevent the transmission of this virus. We are all “adapting.” We have no choice.
  • Rikers and Wende now have the Coronavirus.
  • Cindy and I had flown into Newark last August to film with Mel Robbins. Cindy and Wendy both sanitized our entire areas on the plane with antibacterial wipes while fellow passengers stared at us. Cindy and Wendy fly a lot and learned years ago that every time we got off a plane we got sick. We changed that by being OCD. We no longer get sick flying and the reason we dont is over precaution.
  • Leigh Ann had flown into JFK. Our travel coordinator couldn’t put us at the same airport which wasn’t an issue as the driver for Leigh Ann took her to the same hotel our driver did.
  • Our first night in New York would be the first time my twin had chest pains. It would be our first inkling of a problem too. Irony has many faces.
  • On one hand, we had a set of Texas Twins who have never not honored a commit in their lives. On the other hand, my sister had a health issue that had surfaced. Cindy wouldn’t go to the hospital in New York because “we must be on the set. I will go to a doctor back home.”
  • Leaving New York at Newark Airport, I as usual had antibacterial wipes. In fact, every time we got into a car with our driver, I wiped down the areas. My sister was having chest pains. I went and bought a bottle of aspirin and bottle of water. I was terrified Cindy would have a heart attack returning to DFW. But, she didn’t and she didn’t because I bought those aspirin.
  • Back in DFW, my twin was diagnosed with angina. I was determined to find out why.
  • Admitted and discharged from Harris with this cryptic diagnosis. I demanded a prescription for nitroglycerin. Why? Because I had researched angina.
  • In a matter of days the nitroglycerin would save my sister from a major heart attack. In a matter of months, my sister would undergo an angioplasty just like Weinstein. But the nitroglycerin and aspirin while waiting on a referral for a cardiologist are why my sister survived.
  • We were waiting on that referral while Cindy was a passenger in my suv running from Unit to Unit across Texas and driving her daughter, Stephaney to treatment in Oklahoma.
  • The stress of “another inpatient stint” for Stephaney didn’t help Cindys stress level or angina discomfort.
  • I took Cindy to Harris in Willow Park and my twin was finally transferred to the Heart Ward for an angioplasty. The referral from our PCP came while she was at Harris still recovering.
  • You can imagine after going through all of this to get my sister proper treatment why I wondered how Weinstein “got right in” and “got that angioplasty.”
  • For people on the outside, getting a cardiologist and getting an angioplasty are far more difficult. Why do you think there are so many heart attacks in America?
  • A number of people are saying “Weinstein got what he deserved.” But, what about the personnel at the Unit? What about other inmates? What about the visitors to Rikers? What about the families of personnel and visitors? This isn’t so much about Weinstein as it is throwing a rock in the pond. The rock leaves ripples.
  • As Units across the country consider releasing inmates, Rikers is releasing more than anyone else.
  • Are these inmates infected? Who knows but they are out and they are out after being exposed. Think about it.
  • Wende now has two cases with one of them being Weinstein. Will there be others at Wende? Are there already?
  • Weinstein will be housed in Wende for his entire classification process, a Department of Corrections spokesperson said.
  • “There is no standard time frame for this process, as it varies based on the individual’s programmatic, medical and other needs,” the rep said.

  • How many correctional officers have been within 6 feet of Weinstein? How many people have been near him? It’s a question that may never be answered but needs to be considered….