Michelle Ray Cox


My Sister Is A Cop

My little sister Tracey is a cop.  She started with the Little Rock Police Department as a cadet, and is now a Lieutenant.  She chose to spend all of her working career as a police officer, and God willing she will retire in a few years.  There is no way to express how proud I am of her.

I’ve watched her leave our house while we were all having dessert on Christmas because she had to go back on patrol.  I learned to never call her during the day when she was working night shift because she struggled so much with sleeping.  I’ve rearranged lunch dates because she had to testify in court, or got called out on an emergency.

She has worked patrol, undercover, homicide, robbery…the list goes on.  She has seen the very worst of humanity and what they can do to each other.   She tells me the crimes against children are always the worst, it never gets easier.

She has problems sleeping.  Do you wonder why?

How many of us leave our homes everyday with the knowledge we could be killed on the job?

She was married to a cop.  She is dating one now.  Who else would understand the pressure she is under, the hours she works except another cop?

So when I see the video of those police officers in Dallas running TOWARDS the gunfire, I think of my sister.  When I see the video of police officers pulling the bodies of their fallen brothers to safety I think of my sister.  When I see the video of the families of police officers crying at a funeral, I think of my sister.

And I cry.  Hot, wet tears for the pain that those families are going through.  For the realization that every day my sister goes to work could be her last day on earth because of what she does for a living.  I cry because I realize someone could target her because of her job, her chosen career to help others and to keep our society functional.

There is a problem in our country.  I know that there are some cops that make bad decisions, that are prejudiced.  I know for a fact that good police officers like my sister have a deep disdain for bad cops.  But the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers in this country are good people like Tracey.

I cannot begin to understand what it is like to be a person with non-white skin in this country.  I’m not black, or Asian, or Hispanic.  I’m a white middle class female and I know that it is different for me.  I’ve seen the sidelong looks when my “daughter from another mother” Kira is with me.   Kira is black.  I know that Kira, an active duty soldier with several tours in Iraq has experienced racism and prejudice.  But she doesn’t blame all whites.  She doesn’t blame all police officers.

As furious as I am about the hatred and blaming of police officers, I am equally furious that black people in our country are still discriminated against simple because they are clothed in different skin than I am.

Kira, Tracey and I have traveled together.  We have had many meals where we laughed until we cried.  We trust each other.  Because we know, really know, each other.

We aren’t unique.  Many people believe in racial equality and also support our police.

What does it take to put a real face on that person in uniform or the black man or woman walking down the street?

There is a video circulating on Facebook right now.   Watch it.  Please.

Then read what my sister Tracey said.

Wow. I don’t talk about my job very often on FB, but this video makes me want to say this….

I have been a proud member of law enforcement for 28 years. I am someone that loves my job, through all the ups and downs, this is what I was meant to do. I wanted to help people, I have done that. And I am proud of the work that I do. Yes, there are officers that abused their authority, there are officers that have made the wrong decisions. I have supervised officers and have recommended everything from oral reprimands, everything in between, and terminations. 95% of the officers I have worked with in the past, and work with now, have been professional, caring, and diligent officers. Numerous holidays/birthdays/family events have been missed because of shifts, emergencies, call outs-off duty jobs because kids needs braces/medical work/college, etc. these officers would do everything again for this job. Most of all, we have felt the loss and devastation when we have had an officer killed in the line of duty. A member of our family has been killed, so do not tell me I (or any officer) don’t know what you are going through. We do. On every officers mind-everyday when we put on the uniform (or in some cases, plain clothes), and we kiss our loved ones goodbye when we leave for our shift….will this be the last day I have with them? And yes, I would do it all again because this is what I was meant to do. I am of the belief-“All Lives Matter, Including Blue Lives”

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Michelle and Tracey

I wish I had a solution.  I don’t.  But I do know that love and friendship between races and between cops and non-cops is possible because I see it in my family.  Maybe if we started looking beyond the surface we could see our family isn’t just black, or blue, or white.  It’s all colors.

And Tracey?  I love you and I am proud of you.  Stay safe.

 



Bucket List Item-Bryce Canyon on Horseback

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We traveled with Bali and Clipper for about eleven hours to get to Panguitch, Utah.  They stayed at the Triple C Arena in covered stalls while we stayed for the first few nights at the Adobe Sands Motel and the last night at the Marianna.   I have to tell you, Adobe Sands was awful.  Dirty, small outdated rooms, and the pillows were the smallest, hardest piece of material I have ever tried to sleep on.   My backpack made a better pillow.  We moved to the Marianna when we decided to stay an extra night and the Sands was already books.   Although a hassle, it was well worth the additional $5.00 per night.

Our friends camped at the equestrian camp site in Red Canyon.   Next time we will camp also.  Four sites in a private area with water for the horses.  We made great new friends that we hope to ride with for many years.  Judi and Brad Bradbury, Shannon Whetsell and Jerry and Patti Boone were all camping so we spent several evenings at the campsite, and several at various places in town.  What a great experience it was!

I’ll be posting another video of the first two days riding, this video is of our Bryce Canyon ride.   Jerry and Patti had to head for home and were not able to make this ride, so it was just Judi, Shannon, Steve and I.   Arrangements had been made by Judi, our ride had to be scheduled with the park.  We met with a Park Ranger two hours before our start time.  He checked our paperwork and weed free hay, then sent us on our way.

So here is the video of one of my bucket list items.   Bryce Canyon, Utah while riding my boy Bali.   It doesn’t get much better than this.

 



FINISHED RENOVATION: Part 1. Repurposed Sideboard/Kitchen Island

I told a lot of people that I would post pictures and information on the blog about the renovation we did last year. I pretty much failed miserably at that.

Instead of doing a long blog about the whole thing, I decided to divide it up into little pieces. Much more manageable for me and certainly less overwhelming.

I guess it would be logical to start with walls coming down, or the new floor being put down. I’ll get to those. I decided to start with the repurposed kitchen island first because it has become of one the major items of discussion when people come over.

This was one of those cases where necessity was the mother of invention. I had bids from four different cabinet suppliers and all of the bids were way over budget. I didn’t want to drop the quality, because this is our forever house and I wanted what we did to last. I went with Tuscan Hills Cabinetry, which is a Costco supplier. I worked directly with Tuscan Hills, via telephone, photos, video, and computer. It was not an easy or fast process. But we got a discount, plus easy close drawers and doors, and plywood box construction. So in the end it was certainly worth it.

So I had this piece that I picked up in Florence, Colorado for $150.00. It is a sideboard, complete with velvet lined drawers for silverware. I liked it because it had clean lines without a lot of froufrou. I originally thought about using it for the master bathroom sink, but the more I looked at it the more it seemed to be a great piece for the kitchen island.

So I discussed the vision with Mike Baier, My Awesome Contractor. We measured. We taped the floor in the kitchen. We decided it could work.

Here is the piece before I started working on it.

Sideboard before

Sideboard before

Here it is during. Note the new construction in the background. We built another side to double the size of the island.

Sideboard During

I used Sherwin Williams primer on the old wood construction sideboard as well as the new oak new construction add on. Then I sanded some of it off. The new construction got some whacks with a heavy wrench so that it didn’t look so new.

Then I applied one coat of an aqua paint. Sanded some of that off. Then I applied the polyurethane. Guess what? The two pieces looked COMPLETELY different. The old stain and varnish from the sideboard caused a really cool green/aqua coloration. The new wood stayed aqua.

Well that was not going to work.

So I got out wood stain pens. You know, the kind you use to fix scratches on furniture? I applied stain, rubbed it in. Repeat. Mixed a few drops of brown paint into the Poly and applied. Rubbed some of that off. Applied some more. More rubbing off. Puddled some in the corners. When I finally got the look I wanted I went over all of it with one more coat of Poly.

island door

Then we brought both pieces upstairs and put them together.

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In the new wood addition I have a keyhole for my stool so that I can sit while I prep vegetables. There is a small prep sink on one side, and an in the countertop compost bucket on the other side. I love this and am so glad I did it. In the space on either side are paper towels, and cutting boards on the other side.

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Deep space for Food Saver storage etc..
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finish buIMG_6677

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The cost of the oak for the new construction was less than $100.00.  The cost of the paint was negligable.  Granted, I spent a lot of hours working on the finish, but that was a labor of love.  In the end, we got a very functional, custom island for a fraction of the cost of new cabinet construction.



HATE AND FACEBOOK
January 8, 2015, 4:49 pm
Filed under: Relationships | Tags: , , , ,

“If you want to forget something or someone, never hate it, or never hate him/her. Everything and everyone that you hate is engraved upon your heart; if you want to let go of something, if you want to forget, you cannot hate.”
C. JoyBell C

I’d like to say that I have never experienced the emotion of hate.  But I have, as I am sure many of you have.

Keely gets upset and is quick to say “I HATE (insert name, activity etc…).   At age 12, HATE is easy to conjure up because it is pure emotion.  She may hate Noodles the pig because she peed on her rug, but in fifteen minutes she is snuggling with her.   Emotions between friends are volcanic at that age, I just listen to her and know that the person she never wants to see again will probably be at our house next weekend.

I did the same thing.  When I was younger.

As I got older, circumstances and actions had to be pretty severe for me to even get close to that emotion of hate. Once I got there, it was really hard to get over it.

But over the years I learned some things:

I learned that I really don’t like the dark and negative emotion of hate.

I don’t like the fact that hate puts me in someone else’s control.

I don’t like that giving in to hate takes away the light and happy that is my life.

There have been a few people in adulthood that I have truly hated.   Except for the most recent, I felt a righteous and justified anger at their actions.  I was the victim!  They were evil!    Since I don’t have any contact with them it has been relatively easy to let go of that hate.  As I write this, I can honestly say that I don’t wish the plague on them anymore, and hope they are doing well.

I have struggled over the last few years with my feelings about someone.   I have to be honest and say that she is the injured party.  I was sorry that she had been hurt.   There are all kinds of whys and wherefores for what I did, but her anger was justified.  The thing is she never stopped being angry.  For years.

She attacked.  She crafted comments to my blogs, which I never posted.  She either made up names or used someone else’s emails to continue blasting me when it became inadvisable for her to comment under her own name.   This went on for years.    I got tired of being attacked.  I got pissed.  I got angry.  It became very easy to feel justified for what had happened, and I certainly didn’t feel sorry for her anymore.  I never emailed her, I never responded.   But boy did I have some conversations in my head!  It was easy to hate her.  But it wasn’t an active hate.   The only time it reared its head was in response to one of her attacks.

Last year it happened again, but this time I responded and I confronted her, we had a flurry of emails back and forth and then it was done.   I blocked her email and went on with life.  Getting the chance to respond directly to her was cathartic.

I’ve seen a side of her that I imagine very few of her friends or family have seen.   What I saw was the angry and vengeful side of her.  And that is all I saw.  I didn’t see funny.   I didn’t see helpful.  I didn’t see loving or loyal or all the other things I’m sure she is.

A few days ago I got a friend request from her on FB.   Well that was a shocker.   Was this a mistake?     I thought about it for a bit, and yes curiosity got the best of me.   I accepted the request, but I also sent her a message asking if it was a mistake.    I took the opportunity to look at her FB page.

She is in a relationship.  She loves her kids and grandkids.   She has friends.  She does a lot of outdoor activities.  She cares about the environment, she likes beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  She felt pain when she lost her dog.

She responded to my message pretty quickly, yes it had been a friend request made by mistake.

But I’m glad it happened, and I’m glad a took some time to see her as perhaps closer to who she really is, rather than the person I made her into in response to the hate and anger in her emails.

Now I know FB is not a real picture of our lives.  But I took ten minutes to get a glimpse of her world, and you know what?   I was really glad to see that she is happy and doing well.  I hope that she is able to fill her life with good and healthy emotions now.  Sometimes doors have to be closed in order for others to open.   I would venture to say that all of the parties involved are happier now.

So what is my point?

Hurtful things can be done and said.  I’ve got a couple of friends that are going through this right now.  It’s very human to react, and then it escalates.   There is a strong need in us to have the last word, to tie all of the hurt and anger into a neat package, deliver it, and to walk away.

But it NEVER happens that way.   The recipient ties up their own vicious package and pretty soon it is game on.   Even if the direct communication stops, there are conversations in your head.   Admit it.   How much time are you investing in that failed relationship? How much time discussing with friends?  How much time have you spent looking them up on the internet or Facebook?   And what could you be doing with that time?  You will never get it back.  Think about that.   Think about all that time spent on something negative.

I’ve said this many times.   No one is all bad.   Or all good.   Take an honest look at the other person and realize that God put them on this earth for a reason and He loves them.  They are not all bad.  They hurt, and fear, and love.  Maybe they don’t share your core values.   Maybe they lashed out at you and said or did deeply hurtful things.   You don’t have to love them or even like them.   But don’t hate them.

Perhaps they were put in your life to teach you some lessons and allow you to grow.  So absorb that lesson learned and move on.  And yes, I know this is much easier said than done.   Sometimes it takes years.



The Other Shoulder Surgery Looms
December 16, 2014, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Life | Tags: , , , , ,

The other shoulder replacement surgery got moved up a week.

At first, I wasn’t really happy when I got the call that the surgery had been moved to December 23, and now it just happens to be two days before Christmas.

However, after thinking about it a little bit I realized this date works out better.

I’ll be ready to resume riding and other activities one week earlier.

Steve will be off work a lot for the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Keely will be out of school.

My first call was to Steve, we talked about the pros and cons of the date change, but in reality I didn’t have much choice.
I hung up the phone and read my email. There was a message from Charles saying that if the weather cooperated he would drive up to spend Christmas with us and do all the cooking. Well that could not have come at a better time, because I was about to call my friend Tina and tell her she would be doing ALL of the cooking at Christmas.

So I called Charles, told him the date had been changed and that it was great he was going to be coming.

“Well, it sounds to me like you would not want me to be there. You won’t feel well, and you won’t want to do anything for Christmas”

“Charles, I’ll be fine on Christmas day if I don’t have to cook.”

“But you will only get home the day before, you won’t feel like doing anything”

“Charles, when I had the other surgery we left the hospital, drove to Canon City, dropped off the pain med prescription and then went to lunch. I got home four hours after being released from the hospital. Kira and Rita came to stay for a week, arriving two days after my surgery. We went to Breckenridge and came home on a very bumpy Shelf Road four days after my surgery. I will be fine. If I don’t feel like socializing all day, I can go to bed and you won’t get your feelings hurt. But the one thing that you really have to understand is that Steve. Does. Not. Cook.”

There was silence for a minute.

“OK. I get your point. We can plan out the menu later, but I’m coming”

And it works out really well because he can fly in and use my truck for the time that he is here, because I don’t think I’ll want to drive that first week or two.

Today was my last day at PT until December 29. I’ve had eleven physical therapy sessions and I could not be happier with my progress. I can raise my arm to 120 degrees in the front, 110 on the side. There is no pain. It’s fairly functional. I’m doing some really ugly yoga at home to get more flexibility and strength in my arm and shoulder. And I have another week for it to get better before I lose the use of my right arm.

So yes, it will suck to be me for a few weeks. And then every day I will see range of motion and strength returning. That is what I am focusing on, the relatively quick return to full function that I will have in the next few months.

I’ve been practicing driving with the operated shoulder arm. It works.



Twenty One Things I Learned After Shoulder Replacement Surgery
December 1, 2014, 6:10 pm
Filed under: Life | Tags: , , ,

1. It really sucks to throw up after surgery. However, it is not so bad if you are still on pain meds.

2. When they tell you to bring a large shirt for after surgery they mean a LARGE shirt because that sucker has to go over a very large padded sling.

3. There is this thing called a “party ball” that is supposed to do a slow drip of pain meds directly into your system via a catheter inserted into your shoulder. It is supposed to last for 72 hours and slowly deflate. If it has not deflated after 48 hours it is not working. Therefore you missed the party.

4. Percocet is given with the warning that you must not combine with a Tylenol product. Percocet gives me a really bad headache. So bad that I couldn’t even think about my shoulder because my head hurt so much. When I called the nurse hotline I was told to take, you guessed it, Tylenol for the headache.

5. The nurse said day 3 and day 4 would be the worst because the “party ball” would be wearing off. Since the “party ball” never worked I spent time dreading a worst day that never occurred. The pain really wasn’t that bad and next time I’ll go on Tylenol much sooner.

6. It is very good to have a husband with a good sense of humor when it is time to get dressed or undressed when wearing a sling.

7. Do not EVEN consider putting on a sports bra.

8. It is physically impossible to put your hair in a pony tail when one of your arms cannot be raised above waist level. Getting your head down to the hand at waist level does not work.

9. Do not plan on going out in public if your husband has not had previous experience putting your hair in a pony tail.

10. Forget makeup. Forget blow drying your hair. For weeks.

11. If you put an onion or a potato on the blade of a chef knife and whack it, the vegetable will be cut in half.

12. Someone will have to cut your food for you at first. This is less embarrassing if you wear your sling in public as you are supposed to.

13. You are not supposed to lift ANYTHING . I DONT KNOW FOR HOW LONG BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT LET ME IN ON THAT SECRET YET.
Do not try to go grocery shopping by yourself for several weeks. You may think you can lift those long packages of chicken breasts with one hand but you can’t.

14. You know those plastic bags in the produce department that you roll down and then tear apart? You can’t do that with one hand. So you roll all the way down to your waist and place the bag in your hand which is in a sling. Be ready fir some strange looks.

15. Do not take Percocet before your first physical therapy session if pain meds make you nauseated. You will spend the hour with a ice pack on your neck and worry more about throwing up in front of everyone than how much your shoulder hurts.

16. Having a shower large enough for two people is a good thing. Having a husband that will wash your hair for you while in the shower is a very good thing.

17. You are told to keep your elbow close to your side at all times if you do not have a sling on. If you have a sling on, your arm is already in this position. This means that you sweat. It is very very difficult to wash under your arms when one arm cannot be moved. Try it sometime.

18. Sleeping in a recliner is recommended. It keeps your head elevated. Being in a recliner discourages rolling over while wearing a sling and messing up your shoulder and experiencing excruciating pain. Being in a recliner by yourself can make you lonely and sad.

19. Having a husband that loves you enough to sleep with his head at the foot of the bed so that he can touch you while you are in the recliner is awesome. Having a husband that will get up several times in the middle of the night to pull the recliner lever so you can get up and go to the bathroom is priceless.

20. Think through every action before you start it. (See number 13). Making pies and then realizing it takes two hands to put them in and out of the oven was not one of my better moments.

21. If your husband does not cook, it is good to have friends that come stay with you and cook for you. Thank you Kira and Rita Sharkey for cooking and cleaning, driving me to PT in the snow and listening to me whine.

Three and a half weeks after surgery I can say that while not fun, this has not been as bad as I thought. Next surgery on the right shoulders is in three and a half weeks and the left will not be up to full speed by then.

Pray that Steve and I can keep our sense of humor.



The Rabbit Hole Maze

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I’m having text and phone conversations with my friend S as she waits for the books she ordered to come in. (“Why Does He Do That” is one of them.). She is doing what I did, getting angry at him, then bringing up the good traits that he has. She mentions the kind gestures, the words of admiration and love. Then the next text comes in, and she is hurt and angry. I’m seeing the maze of my Rabbit Hole time reenacted before my eyes.

I don’t know her husband. I’ve met him a few times but I don’t KNOW him. I’m only getting her side of the story, but her story seems very clear to me. I’m sure if I had confided in my friends about what was really happening to me the problem and remedy would have been very clear. Maybe that is why I didn’t confide in them, I had to work my way through the maze on my own to make sure I was doing the right thing.

It was easier for me because we weren’t married.

What I told S today was:

“I made lists. I kept notes of conversations and my feelings so that I could review them and see the pattern of how often and what really occurred. I would put so much hope into the good times and want to pass over the bad.”

The thing is these men (and women) are masters at pushing to discover your boundaries. A little more each time. A little more hurt, confusion, anger. Then when you reach your limit and they sense that you are starting to see them clearly they pull the smokescreen down again.

There were periods of peace. Laughter and fun. Hope that the problem was really solved. Then boom, right back in that horrible hurt and anger place.

I found that the bad times seemed to fade with time. Because my mind veered away from them. I wanted to build on the positive not the negative. But I had to finally admit that they were getting worse. Which is when is started making notes.

That is when I was able to recognize the pattern. I could see in black in white the lies and posturing. I could see the frequency. This was the time when I sought help at Barnes and Noble and got the book “Why Does He Do That?” Then there was no more maze. I knew what I was dealing with it was just a matter if how to end it safely. As I mentioned before that took months.

One of my friends from Little Rock commented today “Those of us that knew you during the abusive relationship all knew that you were in the wrong relationship and that you were miserably unhappy. We were all relieved when we knew you were starting to mentally end the relationship.”

There was a great sense of relief. It wasn’t all my fault, it wasn’t a lack of communication skills, it wasn’t a deficiency on my part that made the relationship fail. I could stop stressing. I could stop laying awake at night going over the conversations trying to figure out what I should have said.

When he sensed the change he really kicked into high gear. He bought books on anger management. He talked about how he was going to change because I could make him a better man, he was going to do this for me.

I didn’t care.

His actions and words had killed whatever affection I had for him. I went from an emotional mess to being very calculating. I had no desire to hurt him, no desire to extract revenge of any kind. I could look at the span of our time together and acknowledge the good times as well as the bad. I did then, and do now, look at him as a flawed human being just as I am. But it wasn’t my job to fix him, or to stay with him.

I’m not saying that he was un fixable. I’m saying I was not the person to do it. At the end of the day those balance sheets of pros and cons showed me that the bad outweighed the good.

I believe people can change and grow. I’ve seen that in the five years with Steve as we worked through how to live together. We meet in the middle, we sometimes give more than the other, we don’t keep score. I know that the man I’m married to is not the same man he was in his previous marriage. I’m not the same person from five years ago, or twenty years ago for that matter.

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The good of what we have together completely overwhelms the little hiccups in our relationship. I see progress in how we communicate. I see our love and respect for each other grow daily. We have built on love, honesty and trust. What we have clearly is worth whatever work we have to do to keep it.

I didn’t have that in the Rabbit Hole.

He is married now. From all appearances they are happy and I am honestly glad. I never wanted him to hurt or be alone. We have had several conversations and while we will never be friends there is peace now.

So as my friend S formulates questions and evaluates answers I have urged her to to make lists and make notes of conversations and her feelings. At some point she will have to see how the balance sheet works out for her.




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