Travel? I’ve Had My Share Because I’ve Been Everywhere…
This morning while dashing off to meet my gorgeous brides, my husband told me the “Stinky Skunk Scenario In Springtown” still hadn’t been solved. We’ve tried chlorine. We’ve tried Killz being painted. We’ve tried knocking down walls and replacing them. We’ve removed bathtubs. We’ve done everything at the “Stinky Skunk Development.” Not surprisingly, every idea has failed miserably. My husband’s latest idea is to put 6 ozone machines in the house. To date, the expense involved in trying to remove the smell is so far over 4K. The number continues to grow. Heavy sigh.
Dealing with the stinky development has really upset my husband to no end. In fifty years of developing and building custom homes, my husband has never dealt with anything like this before. Only time will tell if this latest idea will work. A few months ago, our roof caved in. The insurance sent 6 Hepa machines to get the dust out of our home for the repairs to begin. I had assumed Hepa and Ozone to be the same machine. Apparently, they aren’t.
Thanking my lucky stars that we no longer live in each development and subsequently move every two years anymore, I was anxious to make “a run for it from WorthamWorld” in order to miss morning traffic on my way to Tennessee Colony, Texas. A literal “City of Prisons.”
I know, ya all think Huntsville is the only city full of Prisons but, it isn’t. Tennessee Colony isn’t the only “other city of Prisons” either. Gatesville, Texas is “home of the female prison” city. I’m there frequently with male clients marrying females and female clients marrying female clients.
While others were fighting the traffic to get to an office job, I was fighting traffic to get to my first prison.
“Thank God for Toll Roads. I have no idea what I would do without them. Whether it costs me $100 a month to use the express or a thousand, they are worth every penny due to the amount of travel I do across Texas highways.”
Wendy M Wortham
TDCJ Coffield Unit is remarkably close to TDCJ Michael Unit. Convenient right? I thought so too. Close proximity Units are how and why I can “cover several Units in the same day.” Michael and Coffield are even behind the same guard gate meaning there was no need to drive out and re enter either Unit. I was cleared for both upon entry.
My first bride, Blanca, had brought her mother and the grooms mother with her. You will hear me complain about photo quality at certain Units and wonder why? To better show you, I’m adding the photo from Coffield Unit with Blanca.
There’s a reason I do my own photos. The reason is to give my clients an opportunity to celebrate and have clear photos of their wedding day.
Sadly, I can’t take my own photos at Units and also, the inmate can’t leave so, Unit photos are a must have for clients whenever they are available for purchase at $3 each. I always buy at least 2.
Blanca and I waited for a little over an hour to finally meet her fiancée who was hilarious. Seriously. He should be a stand up comedian. I’ve never laughed so hard while conducting a wedding before. Due to the wait to perform the wedding at Coffield and another wait for the photos to be printed, I left Blanca at Coffield to drive right over to Michael Unit and meet Bridget.
Heading out of Coffield, I stopped to update both moms on what Blanca was doing and that I would meet them again after meeting Bridget at Michael Unit.
Arriving at Michael Unit, I checked in with Bridget and ran back to my SUV to grab the handwritten vows the groom had mailed me. Bridget went back to her car for quarters.
The amount of walking I do at Prisons should have me losing weight I often think. However, a sonic corn dog and Diet Coke or other “road trip” snack items prevent me from getting skinny. Heavy sigh.
While back at my SUV, I check in with my husband and Cindy who is busy in Weatherford with the twins, Maryssa and Makenna who were both “less than thrilled” about STAAR Testing today and tomorrow.
The twins hate STAAR Testing but what student doesn’t? Maryssa is not nearly as driven as Makenna when it comes to stellar grades.
Little Madyson is loving speech therapy so much that she’s now talking in sentences which is a great leap from where she was only a few months ago.
All three of my grandnieces are looking forward to getting ready for more adventure together this summer. Maddy loves Hurricane Harbor and the twins love not waking up at 5:30AM. Stephaney is settling in to her new routine at home again and looking forward to finding work to keep her busy.
Yesterday, I had a call from the Attorney General about Stephaney and how she wound up in Valdosta. I involved not only the DA but also the Sheriff’s Department and Attorney General to get Stephaney home. I’m also committed to preventing this from happening to anyone else. A poster wasn’t going to bring Stephaney home. Law enforcement did.
It’s shocking to me that something like this “Valdosta situation” could happen to our family but, based on emails from readers, not uncommon.
Families lose loved ones to mental illness and addiction everyday. The only difference between our family and the family members contacting me were that eventually families gave up. We didn’t. We threatened to for years. Nearly seventeen years. It’s a very long time to deal with chaos. During that window, my twin sister developed hypertension and high blood pressure. During that nearly seventeen year window, my sister also had a heart attack.
In the same nearly seventeen year window, I developed a lump in my breast that had to be removed and thyroid cancer in the same year. Two years later, precancerous lesions in my ovaries required a full hysterectomy.
If you think dealing with a loved one who “has problems” won’t affect your health, you couldn’t be further from the truth. Ask me, I know. Ask Cindy. Stress can and does kill people. It hasn’t killed us but it’s because we are fighters. We smile to hide our pain. Cindy and I are resilient.Perhaps my twin sister and I were unwilling to give up on Steph? I don’t know but, I do know that trying to “fix Stephaney” has taken nearly 17 years of our life so far and when you invest that much time in something, it’s harder to walk away. Ask me, I know.
For most of my life, I’ve never turned down an opportunity to travel. As a teen, I traveled Texas for Whataburger Commercials with Mel Tillis.
Later, I went into print and commercial modeling. I never said no to an opportunity to see a new place. I loved adventure and being paid to travel made my life far more fun. I don’t mind living out of a suitcase and never have. I relish the adventure!
I was a frequent flyer for the the better part of my life. At 9 years old, my son was also a frequent flyer. We traveled so much that the Admirals Club was as familiar as our own living room.
I believe part of the reason I found a trip to Georgia appealing was that it would give Stephaney a chance to explore and get out of Texas. I didn’t see danger. I’ve never seen danger and I’ve traveled out of the country to Europe and Mexico with only a few hiccups in Mexico mainly due to driving the pink Jeep identifying myself as a tourist.
I don’t drive Las Brisas Jeeps anymore and discourage anyone else from doing so either.
However, having cash on hand to the people pulling us over claiming to be police officers in Acapulco was a great way to get yourself out of a sticky situation.
While Cindy panicked, a couple fifty dollar bills got us back on the road “high tailing it” right back to our luxury resort and taxi cabs. Leave the driving to someone else abroad. It’s safer.
Bridget was beautiful, bubbly and hilarious. I had so much fun with her that it was as if we had known each other all of our lives.
Walking in to the Visitation Area, Bridget told me about how she had know Pip from years and years ago. In fact, they had met in school. Bridget hadn’t seen him in thirty years.
I’m always fascinated by the back story because every client has one. These TDCJ Clients are warriors. How so? Because for one, I’m not sure if I went to Prison my husband would still be around and two, they make daily sacrifices to make their relationship work. Hence the term “warrior.”
Today, I told my Coffield groom “you are lucky. She has been driving for hours and your mom as well as her mom came with her today.” He said “lucky? How so?” I said “you are lucky to have someone who loves you enough to sacrifice for expensive phone calls and long drives. You are lucky because you have someone who is resilient and has perseverance. There are people on the outside that cannot find anyone to commit to and they aren’t even in prison. Count your blessings and thank this woman because she went through a lot to stand before you here today.” Not surprisingly, he did. I’m honest. I’m blunt and I tell it like it is.
Handing Pip his handwritten vows while he looked at his blushing bride, knowing they hadn’t seen each other in thirty years was a fascinating back story for me. I don’t even remember who I went to school with thirty years ago.
I kept the handwritten vows to send to Bridget with her bridal photos as a wedding gift. I’m corny like that. Here are Bridget and Pip happily married at Michael Unit.Leaving Michael Unit with Bridget behind me, I called Blanca and met her at the Tennessee General Store. I had over 300 emails since last night and ignored them all. When I’m with a client, the best way to reach me is text or phone call. Sorry but, get in line.
Blanca and her new mother in law and mother drove across the street to the Tennessee Colony Church for photos. Bridget met us there too.
I had packed my usual array of fun stuff for photos and had a great time with both of my new brides. Bridget waited for me to get several fun shots with Blanca and her family before they headed back home. While going through my items, Makenna (one of the twins) sent a text. “MiMi, I think I really did great on my STAAR Test today.”
I quickly told Bridget “it’s one of the twins, I need to answer her.” Bridget like all of my clients realize that my family and especially my grandnieces or twin sister are a part of my life and waited for me to not only answer Makenna but also take a call from one of my 7 Beto Brides regarding printing her Twogether In Texas Certificate.
Thank you Bridget. You are an angel and I really appreciate your patience. Here’s my favorite photos from your photo shoot today. As soon as I can find time, we are going to go have that drink! Bridget had to get back to The Colony to take her daughter to work or I would’ve loved to grab a quick bite before heading back to Fort Worth. I decided to head to The Colony instead and check it out.
But, time wasn’t on my side with a phone ringing off the hook in my SUV and a husband who still hadn’t solved the skunk infestation at his Springtown development. I’m suggesting baking soda and hydrogen peroxide next. Jeez, I will be relieved when this skunk situation resolves itself.
The Colony is actually near the airport and I’ve been by many times. I recognized The Dallas Market where I had modeled for years for so many different designers that I can’t even recall all of them.
No, I don’t miss “those days.” Twenty to forty pound bags of shoes while pulling 1-4 racks of clothes in one day? I’m good. In fact, I was thrilled to drive by the Dallas Market to such an extent today that I sped up while doing so.
No more being a hangar for me ya all! Those days are gone forever with half naked models being mean to each other and designers screaming “on the track and out of the racks.”
I won’t miss any of the years I spent in dressing rooms and on catwalks. There isn’t any real glamour as you starve yourself to be the perfect sample size and are fighting the headaches your hungry stomach gives you. I did my time and I still own many amazing couture clothes that were never “given to me” as many believe. Nothing is free. I worked in exchange for nice clothing. I also bought and brought my own shoes. There is no free lunch. I used my designer clothing to obtain high end sales positions. You must look the part and I did.
If you ever try to sell anything without having pride in your appearance, you will fail. I didn’t. I prepared. I created an amazing wardrobe by working very hard to get it for many years. No one buying from me ever knew this. They assumed that I was rich because I looked the part. From crocodile boots to fur coats and $2k silk suits, when you walked in to buy anything, you bought it from me. Not the wrinkled shirt wearing half bored salesman beside me. It’s the truth. I couldn’t afford beautiful clothes so I became a model and worked for beautiful clothes instead. Yep, I’m a pioneer.
Driving to The Colony in the event Bridget had time to meet me, I pulled over to Texas Roadhouse for an appetizer and glass of wine and sent a text to Bridget. Moments later, I would realize they don’t open until 4PM during the week? On a busy access road? Surely they must be losing business? I will have to catch up with Bridget soon as she is equally busy too and a celebratory drink just wasn’t in the cards for either of us today.
I’ve had a few questions about “action shots” on location. Leigh Ann loves getting action shots. She’s the only person on my team who is good at it.
“Why do you wear suits to Prisons and Vestments to other events?” Because vestments are “flowy.” I wear suits because wearing a poncho styled garment into a Unit wouldn’t be practical or within the dress code guidelines.
Thr Administrative Directive pertaining to the visitation dress code is specific about attire and especially oversized attire. Why? An open or flowing garment can hide many things that’s why.
My Vestments are imported from Europe. Traditional Clients love choosing from a wide array of my many closets full of Vestments and suits. Last week, my TDCJ Holliday Unit bride was “shook down” due to her dress. Like a Vestment, it was flowy. Really oversized. I knew when she approached me that a shake down was coming and fully expected it.
The Warden advised me of a “shake.” Knowing why a strip search would be warranted, I offered to join my client for a “strip down.”
I’m adding the photos below to show you why I expected a strip search upon meeting my client in Huntsville. I.E. never question a Warden. I don’t and my clients don’t either.
If you are asked to strip- do it it’s not a request. Quite the contrary, it’s a demand required to enter the Unit.
The other “alternative” is to wear a cafeteria smock backwards. Effectively this “walk of shame” is the LAST RESORT for female clients so, I suggest being complacent and going along with the shake instead.
Clothing is solely at the discretion of the Unit. The AD outlines attire but the Unit has the final call on what’s appropriate and what isn’t. Flowing or oversized clothing is prohibited. Generally, all clients send me photos of what they plan to wear. The TDCJ Holliday client (above) didn’t.
“What percentage of your clients are LBGT” Well, off the top of my head and while being confused as to why this question is asked so frequently, the answer is 30-40% and that applies across the board.
What this means is whether a client booked through Texas Twins Events, The Pawning Planners, TDCJ Officiant or even bought from Texas Twins Treasures, a large percentage of all of my clients are LBGT.
“What percentage of your clients are rednecks or hillbillies?” Well, this question wouldn’t even be being asked if a few people hadn’t seen my shotgun/Camo themed attire. Seriously, it wouldn’t.
It’s actually not that unusual for clients to ask me to dress a certain way or “in theme.” I can’t count the number of times someone has asked me to dress as Elvis.
But, the answer is less than 5% of our bookings are Pawning Planners Clients. “Why are all of your clients so different?” Different to whom? Pawning Planners Clients have little or no money so they barter their event services. Texas Twins Events Clients are booking by paying.
Venues I’m on staff at keep a percentage of my fee. Often the percentage is more than 50% but, worth it to me because the venue is a non profit and I believe enough in the non profit to forfeit a large percentage of my fee.
I don’t HAVE to work. I choose to work. I enjoy working. TDCJ Clients are an extension of Texas Twins Events. I rebranded and expanded Texas Twins Events to include TDCJ Weddings.
The answer to these “percentage questions” is that we help ALL people from ALL backgrounds. From rich to poor and everywhere in between, no two clients are alike.
The variety of our client bases raise eyebrows. We don’t care. Our clients don’t care either. Opinions of others will never have an impact on our client bases.
In fact, I turn down at least 15-25 new requests for services each and every month all year long or move them to another date down the road. You can either choose someone else on my staff or find someone else to help you. There is only one of me.
It’s not uncommon for clients to be so determined to book with us that THEY CHANGE THEIR EVENT DATE TO ACCOMMODATE MY SCHEDULE.
I have never advertised and I’ve never needed to. I went into the event business to exceed expectations and based all of our fees on people over profit. I don’t have to work and can therefore “write my own ticket.”
I don’t take every job because I don’t want to and also because the last thing I would ever do is spread myself too thin for my booked clients who are and always will be my first priority. I’m particular. I only work as a planner by referral. Period. Planning takes months of my time. MONTHS that can be spent addressing numerous other clients.
Planning is a time consuming task. It’s not and never will be my first choice. I’ve been a planner for years and I’m excellent at it but, I can do 30-70 weddings in the time I spend “planning one.” Shocking right? It’s true.
Cindy and I work together as twin event planners. Large events need a minimum of both of us. We enjoy working together. In fact, we are happiest when we are together.
Smaller events can get away with one planner but, we often work as a team to ensure that we are over staffed rather than under staffed. “I heard you on the radio and you’re a little salty regarding language now and then.” Hmm, well, I prefer to be real and honest than fake and dishonest. I grew up on Vandenburg AFB. My first word was most likely “salty.”
Many of family members are active or retired military. I don’t apologize for a little “salty” language now and then. I work hard and I’m driven. I also am a very passionate person. Being “salty” gets my point across. No one expects it but, I’m frank. If I’m speaking salty to you, I’m probably annoyed or irritated to begin with or I’m so comfortable with you, I effectively let it all hang out. In general it’s one of the two aforementioned scenarios that my saltiness will “shine through.” Hopefully, it’s because in comfortable around you.
If I use expletives now and then, don’t be offended by my doing so. I tell it like it is and occasionally, my family life isn’t always pretty. I’d rather say something than hold it inside. But, that’s just me.
“Are you a Christian?” Yes. Absolutely. I was raised to praise numerous different religions. I’m a minister and not only believe in God but also in the power of prayer. My husband is also deeply religious. My entire family believe not only in God but more importantly in giving back.
My faith has been tested throughout my lifetime but, my faith has held true through the good and the bad through the difficult and the easy.
I listen to a lot of old Gospel music as well as country, swamp music, classic rock and even classical music. Often, it’s Johnny Cash who will sing a line that perfectly sums up the way I’ve felt at one time or another in my lifetime. Cindy and I saw Johnny perform at a California prison at a very young age and it’s something that I will always remember vividly.
When he walked out on that stage and said “hello, I’m Johnny Cash,” it was the simplest and yet the most powerful statement I had heard anyone make. As a child, I knew every lyric to the songs he sang with a touch of bitterness one minute that easily transformed to love, hope and promise in the next song. My go to music is Johnny Cash more often than not when driving to a Texas Prison.
“If I gave you time to change my mind, I’d try to leave all the past behind. Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried. Still I look to find a reason to believe.”
Throughout my lifetime, I’ve lost my faith on more than one occasion. My mother was a heroin addict. My grandfather was a child molester. My first husband beat me and my second husband was unfaithful.
The best way out of a difficulty is through it.” – Will Rogers –
At this stage of my life though, I’ve learned that God was never punishing me. Instead, God was preparing me. I would need faith and resilience. I would need strength and wisdom in my life. My hardships would teach me compassion and empathy.
“Listen to the words written down when the man comes around. Whoever is unjust let him be unjust still. Whoever is righteous let him be righteous still. Whoever is filthy let him be filthy still.”
I live and work by a very high set of moral standards. My family does too. There are no grey areas with me. It’s cut and dry. Black or white. My clients are the family I wasn’t born with. They are all like my children.
Long after a Clients event service, these former clients also become our friends. Their loyalty is also why I’ve never needed to advertise any of my businesses. Don’t be surprised, we earned our stellar reputation the hard way.
Cindy would say “close the tent- there are far too many clowns in here again.” I don’t. I can’t control the clowns.
The clowns of course are my family. Cindy doesn’t point that out because our readers already realize this…