Say Your Name

I never wanted to know anything about my name other than what Mama told me.  But, I decided to find out more after seeing a May 28, 2013 WordPress Daily Prompt idea to write a post in response to three questions:

“Question #1: Are you named after someone or something?

Mama picked my name after coming across photos of babies advertising Palmolive Soap and Colgate Toothpaste.  Featured in the photos were The Dionne quintuplets, Annette, Cercile, Yvonne, Marie and Emilie.

Ad Palmolive Soap Dionne 2

The five sisters were born from a single egg in 1934 and given the title, “Miracle Babies.”

Ad Colgate Dental Cream Dionne 2

I was given the name of two of the sisters, Yvonne Marie.

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Question #2:  Are there any stories or associations attached to it?

My Two Names

For many year, people called me Uhvonne” and not “Evonne.”   In my early teens, I tried to convince Mama that “Yv” is pronounced as “E.”  But, she firmly replied “I named you ‘Uhvonne and that’s your name.”   As a teenager, I decided life would be less confusing if I pronounced my name as “Evonne? “  Though, out of respect for Mama; in her presence I was always “Uhvonne.” 

 Yvonnes’ in the United States

There are 315,960,850 people in the United States.  Of this number 199,055 are named Yvonne.   It is now the 322nd most popular name and 99.9% of people with the first name Yvonne are female.

Notable People Named Yvonne

Wikipedia listed twenty-four notable people with the first name Yvonne.  I chose to highlight four.

Yvonne Braithwaite Burke, Lawyer Politician and the first woman elected to Congress.

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Yvonne Darlene Cagle, M.D., Colonel United States Air Force, and NASA Astronaut

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Yvonne DeCarlo, Actress most noted for roles played in the Ten Commandments and Band of Angels.   In the 1960s, she was the character, Lili Munson, in the television series, The Munsters.


Yvonne Craig, former ballet dancer and actress.  She is most famous for playing Batgirl in the 1960s series, Batman,” and Marta in the episode of Star Trek the Original Series “Whom Gods Destroy.

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Nicknames for Yvonne

Wikipedia reports the following common nicknames:  Vonnie, Yvie, Evie, Bonnie, Ronnie, Scone, Eve.  Other than my husband of fifty-three years calling me Vonnie, no one has tagged me with any of the other common names.

Question #3:  If you had the choice, would you rename yourself?

Definitely, no.   More than seventy years ago, Mama made the choice to name me — Yvonne.   Almost twenty-two years ago, my Eldest Daughter decided to give her first child the middle name — Yvonne.

Mama, is no longer with us, but her 70-year-old daughter and 22-year-old, great-granddaughter continue to honor and cherish the name she chose —Yvonne.

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I Was A “Me – Pessimist”

Confession!!!   I lived most of my life as a “mepessimist.”   Sadly, I spent too many years believing

  • my “glass was half empty and not half full;” and
  • it was impossible for me to make  “lemonade out of lemons.”

Frankly, I was the half empty glass” as well as the ‘lemons.”  The years of verbal, emotional and physical abuse perpetrated by a dysfunctional and alcoholic father created a weak woman.   A wounded soul, low self-esteem, and no confidence; I, the “me-pessimist” focused on the negatives and not the positives.

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But, mind you, I was overly optimistic when it came to others.  If friends or family strayed into the “pessimist mode;” I quickly stepped in hoping to turn their negative thoughts into positive ones.  Sadly, I did not feel empowered to do the same for myself.

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Over the years, seeking the approval and acceptance of others, I ignored many of my hopes, dreams and desires.  The fear of being judged hindered my ability to think like an “optimist.”   You see I felt safe and comfortable living life as a “me-pessimist.”

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A breast cancer diagnosis in 2008 and a life threatening respiratory illness in 2010 was a life-changer.    At last I understood, as one of God’s Creations, I was blessed with the ability to  “make choices.”

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Now, I choose to live with my “glass half full and not  half empty” and to “make lemonade out of lemons.”  In other words, I choose to —

  • make “every day” a “great day “ and my “best day”
  • focus on the positives and reject the negatives

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Living, Learning and Loving

Following a life-threatening illness in 2010, I finally exhaled, opened my eyes, and realized tomorrow was not promised.  Understanding and accepting that I had more yesterdays than tomorrows.  At sixty-seven years old, I decided it was time to start:

  • Living life to its fullest;
  • Learning new things; and
  • Loving me

In doing so, I feel Empowered to

  • Let Go of the unnecessary baggage I carried around for most of my life;
  • Say No to “my wants and desires,” and
  • Say Yes to “my needs.”

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During my early transition phase, I was seeking to “find my true self “ and “identify my needs.”  To accomplish this, I had to exit my comfort zone to explore new experiences.   
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The journey I have chosen to follow is challenging, but it has opened the doors to exciting new places, things and people

  • Yoga Classes
  • Aqua Zumba Classes
  • Spiritual Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Blogging  
  • Social Media
  • Container Flower Gardening

Closing old doors and entering new ones has brought peace, happiness, love, tranquility and serenity into my life.

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Today at 70-years-young, I am Living, Learning and Loving everyday.

Early Morning Reflections on Mother’s Day

 Mother’s Day Cards

Waking up at 6:30 a.m., I felt an overwhelming need for solitude.  Grabbing the five unopened greeting cards from my desk, I quickly and quietly left the bedroom hoping not to wake the sleeping Hubby.  Leisurely drinking my morning coffee at the kitchen table, I admired and read the Mother’s Day cards that came in yesterday’s mail.

Four were from my son-in-law, GPKII, I know they were selected, purchased and sent on behalf of my two oldest grandchildren, Lady C and GPKIII.   Like me, GPKII has a passion for selecting just the right greeting cards.  Whatever the occasion, I can always count on a beautiful card from the son-in-law.


The other card was from my Florida Daughter.  I met her shortly after arriving in Florida three years ago.  This was a chance meeting outside of a local bagel shop and has grown in to a supportive and caring relationship.


I love to send and receive greeting cards.  Especially, pleasurable is selecting just the right card for the occasion.  Rarely, will I receive a card, in recognition of any occasion, from hubby, the kids and grandkids.   I know them well enough to say with confidence, sending or receiving a greeting card would rank very low on their  “makes me feel good list.”   It’s not a problem.  Their love flows toward me in more ways than I could ever count.

Four Extraordinary Mothers In My Life

 “A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us, when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts(Essayist and Biographer, Washington Irving)

I have had the pleasure of sharing a part of my life with four Extraordinary MothersMama, Carrie, Pam and Kim.  In observing them over the years, I have been blessed to see firsthand what can only be described as  “picture perfect images” of dedicated, loving, and giving Mother.

Mama, you carried me in your womb for nine months.  The two of us lived as a single loving and supportive unit for the first seventeen years of my life.  This unit was expanded to include my husband and our three children until you left us on that cold day in December of 1967.  I miss you but know you are in a place where there is an abundance of love, joy and peace.

Onetha Burks

Happy Mother’s Day MamaRest in Peace

Carrie, from the day I married your son, you opened up your heart and arms welcoming me into a new family.  God blessed me with a mother-in-law who loved me like a mother.  I really relied on you for that maternal support and love after the death of my own mother.  Thank you for always being there for me.  Our family’s life today is better because your door was always open to care for and love our three children whenever we asked.  During those times when the pressures of working and/or being full time students left little time for parenting, you never complained and lovingly welcomed your grandkids into your home summer after summer.   You will always have a special place in my heart.  We miss you, but know you are in a restful and peaceful place.

My mother Carrie Lee Childress

Happy Mother’s Day Carrie – Rest in Peace

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.  She never existed before.  The woman existed, but the mother, never.  A mother is something absolutely new. (Author Unknown) 

Pam, my firstborn God blessed me with the opportunity to be with you during the birth of both Lady C and GPKIII.  From the first day of their lives, you made them your #1 priority.  Family remains at the top of your “priority list.”  Over the past eight years following your husband’s life threatening stroke, you overcame the odds.  Though you faced challenges, you had the strength and courage to confront them.  Thank you for blessing me with two beautiful grandchildren.  I am proud to call you Daughter. 

dr thomasking

Happy Mother’s Day Pam

Kim, my baby girl you entered the world during a trying time in my life.  Within three months of your arrival, Mama died following a two-year illness.  I am blessed she was able to hold you in her arms everyday for even that short period.  You and CJ, I oftentimes joke are still connected by the umbilical cord.  I am impressed with the countless hours you devote to ensure that CJ is afforded every opportunity to succeed academically, socially, and athletically.  Thank you for my loving grandson, CJ.  I am honored to call you Daughter.


Happy Mother’s Day Kim

Closing Comment

Over the last few hours of writing this post, I was interrupted with calls wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day from:

  • Son, KA, and my four-year-old granddaughter – Wisconsin
  • Daughter, Pam and son-in-law GPKIII – Illinois
  • Granddaughter, Lady C, Wisconsin
  • Daughter, Kim and grandson CJ – Wisconsin
  • Nephew BW – Illinois
  • Cousin Gwen – Illinois
  • Cousin DL – Wisconsin

Hubby fixed breakfast, now preparing lunch with plans to pickup takeout dinner after watching his idol Tiger Woods today.  Well wishes from loved ones, two-dozen roses from kids and Hubby putting together meals for the entire day – what more could a Mother ask for on this special day?

My Mother’s Day Gift  – A Loving Family

It’s A Pool Party: Aqua Zumba

Four weeks ago, I went to a fun pool party; and, I have “partied” every Saturday morning since.  Our community’s YMCA added an Aqua Zumba class to the Spring/Summer 2013 Group Exercise Schedule.   Taking an Aqua Zumba class was on my long Bucket List of “things to do before I die.” 


About five years ago, my Baby Girl and some of the women who worked in our family-owned business started to take Land Zumba classes one evening a week.  They encouraged me to come along.   I wanted to join them, but I knew Mr. Arthur’s joints (Rheumatoid Arthritis) and Ms. PN’s feet (Peripheral Neuropathy) could not withstand the floor pounding steps of the cha-cha, merenque, salsa, reggaeton and mambo dance movements.

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Last year, I did venture into a Land Zumba Class at the YMCA.  Though, it was a beginning class, I was intimidated by the younger, fitter, and hipper women in the class.  Here I was, a fast approaching 70-year-old whose grace and rhythm, as a dancer, disappeared more than 40 years ago. This class was a painful experience for two reasons.  One, the physical pain to my deconditioned lower extremities pounding down on the hard floor; and, two the emotional pain of feeling inadequate and being judged by others in the class.   I finished the 60-minute class, but did not go back.  

For weeks, leading up to the first Aqua Zumba Class, I questioned whether —

  • I was prepared to appear in a swimming suit at a busy community pool on a Saturday morning?
  • I was able, given my mobility limitations, to even enter or exit the pool?

I arrived early for the first day of class.   Hoping no one would notice, I entered the pool area in the largest beach towel I could find.  It surrounded my body from chest to knees.  There were a lot of people sitting around the pool deck.  Most of them were relaxing, conversing or observing the preschoolers in their early morning swim class.  Quite frankly, a 70-year-old woman in a large beach towel did not seem to tweak anyone’s interest.

Then, I began to worry about how to make a smooth entrance into the pool.  Using the pool ladder I felt was my best option rather than lowering into the pool from the deck as the other women did.  I gradually and carefully focused on each step as I descended into the pool.  Grateful, I made it without a problem.   Since, I never learned to swim, I chose a spot toward the pool’s shallow end.  Thereafter, everything went smoothly.

The class started with a warm up dance to Latin music.  Wendy, the instructor, demonstrated the different dance moves from the deck.   The tempo changed and we were stretching, twisting, and splashing to the music – shouting along with Wendy.  Every time a new song started, Wendy instructed us on a new and different dance move.   Squatting, jumping and moving my hips in a circle pattern while moving around; then adding hand movements to spray, push, and pull the water was the ultimate full-body workout.

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Aided by the buoyancy of the water, the beat of the music, and the energy of the instructor; I was able to hold my own in a class of younger women

Aqua Zumba rebirthed my rhythm and grace, met my special needs, and opened the door to a challenging water based workout to improve my:

  • Aerobic/Cardiovascular Endurance
  • Muscle Resistance
  • Flexibility
  • Balance
  • Joint Mobility

Aqua Zumba provides a safe haven to lose inhibitions and focus on the exercise.   It’s definitely a freeing and empowering feeling exercising in the water.

The party atmosphere of Aqua Zumba combined with a safe and effective fitness workout is a win-win for me. 

Be Still Day

“Learning how to Be Still, to really Be Still and let life happen — that stillness becomes a radiance.”  (Morgan Freeman)

Last Sunday, overwhelmed and anxious, I decided it was time for a Be Still Day!   On this day only calmness, peacefulness, and stillness could enter my “Personal Space.”  


Is it difficult to Be Still?  Or is it, just me?  As a young child, Mama often had to remind me to stop fidgeting.   She would quietly, but firmly say, “Yvonne, Be Still.”   An impatient child, I fidgeted most when I was . . .

  • getting my hair combed;
  • doing homework;
  • sitting in church,
  • riding in a car, or
  • eating dinner.


Had I learned to Be Still as a child, perhaps my adult life would have been less stressful.   Though, I stopped fidgeting after a while, to Be Still is yet a work in progress.


More recently, my inability to Be Still correlates with an addiction to my I-Pad and MacBook Pro.  For this reason, venturing into cyberspace — banned on Be Still Day.  No surfing the Internet, reading e-mails, or entering blogosphere for me on Be Still Day.  

The Be Still Day was a success.  I needed this day of stillness, aloneness, meditation, inner focus, and spiritual enlightenment to cure a serious case of undernourishment.

For weeks leading up to the self-imposed Be Still Day, I didn’t nourish my mind, body and spirit.  Far too many “first time tasks” on a long “to do list.”   All related to:

  • A 53rd Anniversary Gift this month from Hubby and The Eldest Daughter; as well as
  • Preparing for The Daughters and 13-Year-Old Grandson’s Annual Week-Long Spring Visit

The anniversary gift was a “generous, though budgeted amount,” for a mini makeover of my kitchen and bathrooms.    Hubby and The Eldest Daughter offered to help.   My immediate response was, “I Got This.”   After all, I have been an avid follower of . . .

  • Home and Garden TV
  • Do It Yourself Network
  • Martha Stewart Living
  • Better Homes and Gardens
  • Real Simple
  • House and Home

Certainly, twenty years of devouring decorating magazines and countless hours of watching home makeover programs on television prepared me to handle a “mini makeover.” 

Feeling confident, I went to my trusted friend, The Internet, for ideas on tile, granite, sinks, faucets, and lighting.    Looking for contractors, plumbers, fabricators, installers, electricians, and painters; I  checked the telephone book, Angie’s List, Craig’s List as well as asking my neighbors.  Overwhelmed with all the options.  Unable to make a decision, I spent days analyzing, procrastinating and stressing outaccomplishing nothing.  

My inner voice shouted, “You need help.”   Putting pride aside, I called on the Hubby and The Eldest Daughter for help.   Working together, as a team, we completed all the tasks on the “to do list” in less than a week.   The last stage of the project, installing the backsplash tiles, is scheduled for completion by day’s end.


I am a Survivor.  Living with a medical history of:

  • Breast Cancer,
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis,
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease;
  • Sleep Apnea;
  • Fibromyalgia, and
  • Peripheral Neuropathy


The challenges I face, as a survivor, on any given day can be . . .

  • Fatigue
  • Sleeplessness
  • Weakened Immune System
  • Stressfulness
  • Chronic Pain
  • Cancer Re-Occurrence


Oftentimes, I forget my survivor status and take on too much.  When this happens, the mind, body and spirit crash.   I can always count on Hubby and the Three Adult Kids to lift me up.   Ultimately, however, I am the survivor and it is my responsibility to make the right choices.

Since Be Still Day, upon arising every morning, I repeat my personal affirmation.

I am a survivor of Breast Cancer and Chronic Pain.   I claim, accept and embrace this life.  Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to follow my path toward a healthy mind, body, and spirit.  My Survivorship is Dependent Upon My Emotional, Mental and Physical Health. (SeasonedSistah 2)

Fifty-Three Years and Counting


Fifty-three years ago, the odds were against the survival of our marriage.   Why?

  • I was a recent high-school graduate, unemployed, 17-years-old, and pregnant.
  • He was an 18-years-old, unemployed, high school dropout.

Back then, like it probably still is today, most teen marriages ended in either a permanent separation or divorce.

Though our parents agreed to the marriage, they were disappointed and wondered whether this was a “failure waiting to happen.“   We tuned out the naysayers and doubters.

On April 11, 1960, JT and I exchanged vows at the Cook County Courthouse in Chicago, Illinois.   Our mothers were the only guests; and, they definitely were not beaming and handing out congratulatory words.  Out of love for their children, they both agreed to show up and sign the papers to authorize our underage marriage.


I did not have the wedding that most young girl’s dream of.   It was the extreme opposite.  There was:

  • No Church. 
  • No Music. 
  • No Rings. 
  • No Reception. 
  • No Photos
  • No Wedding Dress. 

Our one and only wedding gift was a crisp $20.00 bill from my mother.

Married without money or a job, our only available housing option was to live with my parents and occupy the bedroom I had slept in since the age of 12.

Soon recognizing our young age, educational deficiencies, and lack of work experience limited employment opportunities; JT enlisted in the Army.   In the military, he could earn his high school diploma and our family would have a guaranteed monthly income and health care coverage.

My young girlfriends as well as many of my relatives’ prophesized and warned us that his volunteering for the Army meant “the end of our marriage.”   Prepare yourself, they cautioned, “long separations” oftentimes turn into “permanent separations.”  When JT departed for basic training on April 25, 1960 the tears flowed, but I withheld talking to him about my fears of abandonment.

We endured the six-month separation through daily letters, occasional phone calls, and his two short military leaves to visit with me and our new daughter in Chicago.

On December 8, 1960, I truly entered the adult world.  Only three week after turning eighteen, I left family and friends to join JT at his new military assignment in Wackenheim, Germany.

His rank as a Private-First-Class, did not meet the eligibility requirements for us to live on the base in military family housing.  So, JT secured a one-room efficiency on the third floor of a private home.

As I recall the rent was $20.00 per month.  The landlord lived on the first floor and their son, his wife and baby lived on the second floor.   They did not understand or speak English.

In the efficiency next to us on the third floor, we shared the bathroom with two young women.  They understood a little English, worked nights and slept during most of the day.  Later, I learned they were prostitutes who serviced men in the military.  Once I overcame my biased and judgmental opinions, I found two very friendly and supportive neighbors.   They would come over to check their clothing, makeup and hair in our full-length mirror before heading out for the night.  Our Toddler Girl loved to imitate.  She would stand in front of the mirror, twirl, pull, and adjust her clothing.  Then, pout her lips and attempt to swing her hair.  Toddler Girl, now in her early fifties, is embarrassed when we share this childhood memory of her.


In Germany, I was on the fast track to adulthood.  I had to manage our money and soon learned how to feed a family of four on an income of about a $140.00 per month.   There was always a nourishing meal for the Toddler Girl and the Baby Boy; but there were times when JT and I ate only smothered potatoes and onions for breakfast, dinner and lunch.  Both of which were free and readily accessible.

Our landlord was a farmer and these two vegetables were stored year-round in the cellar.  Though, they always encouraged us to take whatever we needed; sometimes, I was just too embarrassed to ask.  Every now and then, on the pretense of getting coal from the cellar to build a fire in the stove, I would hide a couple of potatoes and onions in the bottom of the bucket.  Of course, I now realize the smell of smothered onions and potatoes no doubt spread to lower floors of this small house.

I soon adjusted to my new life as a young wife, with two small children, on a limited income, living in a foreign country.   Out of necessity, I also quickly learned to:

  • build a fire in the coal stove
  • heat water for bathing and washing clothes 
  • cook meals on a two burner hot plate; and
  • live without television and rhythm and blues radio stations


The two years, I spent with JT in Germany strengthened our marriage.  We both had to grow up and assume the responsibility of making our marriage work as well as parenting two small children.   Absent friends, family, and the other American amenities we were forced to depend on each other for friendship, entertainment, conversation, and support.  If we disagreed, it didn’t last long.   We couldn’t call a friend to complain or run to our parents for comfort.   We had to work it out between the two of us. 

Those early experiences as a young couple, struggling and relying totally on each other, established the foundation for our strong and long-lasting marriage.  Collectively working as a team, we were determined to build a better life for our three children.


Marriage is not easy.  It’s a commitment that takes work.  There will be ups and downs, but we have to:

  • learn to compromise
  • spend quality time together
  • consider each other’s feelings
  • listen to each other, and most importantly,
  • laugh together

Through God’s Grace, we reached our educational and professional goals, educated our three children, and now enjoy living the life of retirees.



April 11, 2013 – Fifty-Three Years and Counting. 

Happy Anniversary to Us


The Daughters: Spring Vacation Visit


“A daughter may outgrow your lap,but she will never outgrow your heart.”

Just finished eight loads of laundry all towels and bed linen, but it was worth the extra effort.  The remaining four of my six houseguests, this past week, departed on an early morning flight returning to the cold of Wisconsin.

Since moving to Florida three years ago, the hubby and I look forward to spring school breaks and Christmas holidays.  Weeks and sometimes months in advance, preparation begins for our children and grandchildren’s bi-annual visits to our home.

During this visit, I am so grateful and thankful for the five days of relaxing face-to-face time spent with The Daughters.   Though we communicate, by telephone, at least two to three times a day; I treasure those times when we are in each other’s presence.

Hours and Hours of Quality Time with The Daughters Lounging on The Lanai




Tasty Lunch with The Daughters at the Mall


Diva Window Shopping Day with The Daughters at The Mall






Picked Up a Strawberry Cheesecake to Share with Hubby and the Grands



Expressing gratitude and appreciation to The Daughters who choose to spend their spring vacation with their Mom and Dad.

The Daughters and grandchildren arrived home safely.  Everything is quiet. The hubby and I have spent the day getting the house back in order, catching up on things that went undone including this week’s blog.

Reflections on The Daughters’Visit

As I grow older, the roles are reversing.  The Daughters are overprotective, watchful and uneasy when they perceive the slightest change in my physical, emotional or mental behavior.    Much like I was when they were children.  It was especially noticeable  during this visit, since I was experiencing a flareup with knee pain.  I grunted and limped, determined that pain was not going to stop me from spending quality time with The Daughters.    Despite my reassurances that the knee pain would taper off, The Daughters talked about a range of corrective measures including a cane, walker, brace or visit to an orthopaedic surgeon for a knee replacement.   I vetoed every suggestion.   But, realistically  if the pain is not resolved, I may have to look at suitable options.

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