Earlier this week I took a trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas to speak at the Arkansas Society of CPAs on social media marketing. I went up a day earlier to spend some time with my Mom and to check out the town that had so much history in my family - though I hadn't been since I was a kid.
I started out exploring the Hot Springs National Park and walking through the Promenade where Lucky Luciano was arrested and is a beautiful green stretch behind the historic bathhouse row. My favorite part of adventuring out on my own were the beautiful Magnolia blossoms - they were fragrant and opening up for the season. Just lovely!
Next stop was the park's Visitor Center at the Fordyce Bath House. They offer self-guided tours through the house and you can see the men's bathing rooms and the women's...let's just say the guys had all the swanky digs. Naked women stained glass, too. The bathouse was incredibly fascinating as the water is from the natural hot springs that the area is named after. This geological phenomenon is the heart of the tourism and history of Hot Springs and it very neat to see it in person.
Once Mom got into town we headed out on our own adventures. We stopped at Coleman's Gems & Rocks and while we got some really cute pictures, the lady at the counter was incredibly rude and did not want to answer many questions about the rocks and the collection of beautiful items out in her lot. It was actually really disappointing because I took all these fun photos of her place. I'll be visiting one of the countless other's on my next visit and hope some of those will be willing to answer my questions about it all. I ended up not buying anything because she was rushing out the door - five minutes to five o'clock but would have likely spent some $$ if I had known what rocks I had in my hands and the back history on the. Another day, indeed.
We ate dinner at Rolando's and had this delicious Cuban dish with rice and beans and a bunch of other yummy things whipped together with seasoned chicken. Their guacamole was top notch, too! We ate out on their gorgeous patio and had a really great waiter as well.
Also among our adventures, we hit up some fun flea markets and did some off road-ing through the neighborhoods checkout the houses and free spirited style.
One of the coolest things Mom and I found was the Stone Bridge which was rather humorous to us because we were just aimlessly driving and stumbled upon it thinking we had found some thing secret, then we realized there was a main road right around the corner so it wasn't some huge secret but it was to us!
So I am a few days late, and a visit with my mom behind. We didn't do much last night. I introduced her to one of my favorite shows - Newsroom and we had a great dinner at Newk's.
There's been a lot that has happened between me and Mom in the last 10 years. It's weird to me that it has been a decade since both of our lives changed so drastically and so differently in one night...but we're here and we seem to be on the other side of it after all those years of healing and finding ourselves.
What many people don't know about me or about my mom is that she instilled the love for community that I have in me. She taught me from a very young age the importance of volunteerism, good will and giving back. She encouraged me to be myself - bold, loud, smart and vivacious. She never let me hide who I was or am and when I wanted to hide she egged me to come back out - to "let my light shine" again, as she would say.
I went through a period of time where I resented this... I did. I was angry and unhappy with the unfairness that I felt had happened to us - all of us. Mom, Dad, Jessi...especially Jessi. Me. I still have those days but over the last 4 years I have started finding that light again and she has forgiven me and pushed me to be a better person despite myself and my circumstances.
She was the drive that pushed me even when I didn't want to admit that she was the reason I kept pushing on.
People often compliment me on my ability to communicate and my vocabulary. I point to Mom for this. The minute I was old enough to play strategy games, cards and word games, there she was ready for a friendly competition and sometimes an intense one. One of our favorite pastimes has always been Scrabble and while on a given night one of us may proclaim to be the best, I must say she is the most worthy opponent and challenges me to use my knoggin' continuously.
Where did I get my vocabulary? Looking words up in the dictionary to beat mom on a Friday night or better yet, to impress her.
I don't tell her enough but she's my hero - in so many ways. She's a little cooky sometimes and she makes me crazy at times, but she is my hero. She is the strongest woman I know and her smile...
Her smile lights up my world.