Yes, my name is really Virginia.  And I live in Virginia.   I am  a grad student at a local university,and in my spare time, I’m  an EMT and a Chaplain. I also own a small business.  A funny thing has been happening to me all my life.  Something in my face or my demeanor seems to trigger people to say, either out loud or in their hearts, “Hey, Virginia!”  and my ears automatically go into “listen” mode.

So I decided that if  I am going to be pulled  into people’s life=stories, like some sort of  heart whisperer, , then they will have to agree to let me use their experience  for the benefit of all man, and woman, kind.

The stories I share on this site were told to me by real people, in the city of Virginia Beach, in the state of Virginia, in the United States.   When faced with a potentially– or actual– life-threatening situation or just a moment of extreme clarity, they found the courage to do one thing……just one thing different, in their lives and it has changed them in profound ways.  I daresay the experience was so profound, they couldn’t keep it to themselves.  Loudly, softly, directly or via ESP, they had to share their experience….had to tell somebody.

And by God’s grace,  I was there…… to listen, and  to mine the treasures of wisdom and knowledge to be gained from their life=changing experiences.

I hope  their stories inspire someone else,  in Virginia or out,  to find the courage to overcome the things that keep them from being the complete, unique, individuals God created them to be.

If that’s you, leave a comment or send an email to uhheyvirginia@gmail.com and I’ll raise up my antenna for ‘ya!


People Always Said I Was “Sweet”…(gasp!) It Was True…..

People have always said, “Awww, you’re so sweet.”  Or ” That’s so sweet of you.”  Or “What a sweet thing to do/say”.  I never paid it much attention.  It was just one of those nice things we say to each other,, a social convention.  We don’t really mean it.  It’s just something to say, something to fill the gap in conversation.

Someone, (maybe Oprah, but please don’t quote me on that) once said “Believe what people tell you about themselves.” I guess the converse can also, sometimes, be true. Sometimes, there’s a small kernel of truth in people’s observations about us.  Soooooo….. I should have believed what people had been saying about me all along.  But I had no reason to.  Social conventions are just that…..rules, methods, practices established by usage or custom, niceties in other words.

For years I blamed my ‘sweetness” on my mother, Alma Hart Mason. God rest her soul. She would have been 90 this coming March 11th., but she didn’t want to stay here once the love of her life–my father, Hudson Mason, God rest his soul too– left this world.  After 63 years of marriage, she just didn’t want to be alone.

She was truly the sweetest person I have ever known.  And I’m not just being nice.  She was always polite, kind, considerate, compassionate, loving, helpful and humble.  The greatest blessing of my life was to have been raised by such an angel. Everyone who met her instantly loved her and would tell me, once we were out of earshot, “Your mother is sooooo sweeet!”


I tried to be like her, to talk like her, to be helpful like her, compassionate like her.  In many ways, I think I succeeded, almost too well.  She never told me that she or anyone else in our family had diabetes. And now that she’s gone, I can’t confirm whether she did or not. I will never know. That’s why, when the paramedics rushed me to Our Lady Of Mercy Hospital in the Bronx, and the doctors explained that my glucose level was 1300 and I should be either in a coma or dead, I said ‘That’s impossible  Nobody in my family has diabetes!!” I was seriously in denial.

During the two weeks it took the doctors to figure out which cocktail of medicines would bring my glucose level down to a more workable number, I had plenty of time to ponder how I had arrived at that point in my life.  The downtime was very illuminating.

I discovered that, like my mother, I had a very naive side.  I always saw the silver lining in the clouds. I always gave people the benefit of the doubt, whether they deserved it or not. I believed in people’s inherent goodness.  I looked past people’s faults and saw their needs, their weaknesses and instantly forgave them for the foibles they seemed helpless to do anything about.  I glossed over things in an effort to be….nice, not to hurt anyone’s feelings, although they routinely hurt mine.

She and I both paid a heavy price for that “sweetness”.  It’s not only heredity, diet, obesity and ethnicity that are contributing factors to diabetes.  So is stress.   As sweet as my mother was, there was always a sort of sadness behind her smile; just a hint of melancholy beneath the laughter.  And I realized much later in life, as an adult, that she carried the burden of a tremendous amount of pain and suffering.  Growing up in the deep South in the early 20th century when it was unpopular to be black; being gifted as a concert pianist but having to bury the gift to work in the cotton fields; losing a child in a horrible car accident and many other indignities she never even shared with me, but carried silently, stoically..

I spent several nights in my wheelchair in the chapel of the hospital, asking the invariable question people diagnosed with a life-changing illness often ask; why?.  After the fourth or fifth night, the answer came in an unexepected way.  ”Rise above it…..”

”Rise….above….it”   Get up, after falling or being thrown down; become active in opposition or resistance to….it…this disease that holds more than 26 million Americans in its grip and  another 7 million who are not even aware they have the disease.. And by the grace of God, just like my mother, I got up. And I get up every day in response to that call.

It was a gift; a call to arms; a call to do what my mother had done every day of her life: Face the realities of life, the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the sunshine and the rain, the bitter and the sweet,  with poise and grace and strength and love and do my part to make the world a better place for having lived…….

There’s Nothing Scary About It…Really

Four Weeks Ago

“So, you’re going to the doctor? ” I asked Valerie, the manager of the store we sell some of our time to a few days a week.

“Yeah.”  she said.

“Everything ok?” I probed.  “Uhmhmm.  Just getting a prescription.”

I quickly squashed the thought that popped into my head.  Since we work so closely together, I mean like touching the same things, was there something I needed to be concerned about?  She heard my thoughts and said, “Yeah.  I’ve been putting it off for a while now but I’m just gonna go ahead and do it.”

“What’s that?” I probed further.

“I’m gonna get a prescription for Chantix.”

The soon-to-be ex-smoker

I breathed a silent sigh of relief.   “Oh, because you’re trying to quit smoking?”  “Yeah” she said. “I’m really tired of it.”  “Wow…that’s great.  That’s a wonderful thing.  I’m glad you’re doing it.  ”

“Yeah…my husband is too…” “Oh, he doesn’t smoke?” I asked. “Nope!”  “Never?”  “Nope!”    Instantly, although I have never met Bubba,  I admired and respected  him for loving Valerie despite her indulging for the last 30 years, in what I know personally is a nasty, smelly, offensive and expensive habit.

‘Then that’s a double good thing! “I said, really happy about her decision to do what studies on smoking said could add fifteen years to her life.  (I really said that…I sometimes wax corny.)

Two Weeks Later…..

Standing by the water-cooler at work, which is actually not a water-cooler but a counter where we all sometimes take an unscheduled break from our assigned tasks and eat, or chat, I asked Val how it was going with the Chantix program.

“Some of the side effects I heard on TV  are pretty….uh…scary you know.”  “Yeah” she said,  “but there’s nothing scary about it, really.  The only bad thing that happened is I took the pill once on an empty stomach and I felt really nauseous but other than that, I feel fine.  I’m amazed that I don’t even have the desire for a cigarette.  I mean, the thought doesn’t even enter into my head…”

I went cold turkey something like a decade or two ago so this is really amazing to me, too.”You don’t want to go out and have one now?” I wasn’t trying to tempt her. I was just….really amazed.

‘N0pe.  I just wonder….at the end of the three months, when the program is over, what’s gonna happen? Will I go back to wanting to smoke again?”

“I really wouldn’t worry about that right now.  You look good, you sound happy, your husband and kids are happy so just….you know, enjoy that and cross that bridge when you get there.”

“Yeah…you’re right.  There must be some kind of beta blocker or something because I have not even had a thought of having a cigarette in two weeks!!!”

Her enthusiasm was not lost on me.  We would have celebrated or something but we were at work.

Inspired by her story, I wrote a little ditty that goes like this:  every time there’s something you need to do, but don’t or won’t or can’t seem to do, a seed of guilt grows inside of you.  So here’s a tip:  why don’t you…. just push thru, the pain or shame or fear or what have you, and do the thing, that one thing, you know you need to do and grow a change inside of you?

It’s sort of my version of IYADWYHADYWAHWYHAH, i.e. If you always do what you have always done, you will always have what you have always had….

Valerie was tired of smoking….the smell of it, the cost of it, the effects of it and she decided to try to quit smoking…..once and for all.  Chantix was not her first foray into the whirlpool of stop-smoking-formulas.  The patch, the pill, the electronic cigarette, cold turkey, were all options, but none of them worked.

This is not to say Chantix will work for you.  It’s just to say that if  you’re not satisfied with your life, or life has thrown you a curve ball and hit you upside the head, DO something, ideally something you have never done before.   Plant some different thoughts, some different words, some different actions and watch something new….and different…..and amazing grow in its place: a new YOU.

There’s nothing scary about it……really……