Six Hands on the Handlebars

My parents were separated. They only stayed that way for two years. Two very important, sometimes scary years. I took comfort in my visits from my brother. He always wanted to play. Six years older than me, a jokester, my closest confidant and life coach during my formative years.

One fine rainy day while he was visiting our apartment in Virginia Beach we hatched a plan. A plan I feel like probably wasn’t thought through and come to think of it, I’m pretty sure was set to fail. Story of my life, but anyway.

I had this awesome Pink Panther Bike. The banana seat was perfect for a plan like ours. I never liked riding on the handlebars after the great fence crash of 1980, so the banana seat was a perfect solution to a two kids / one bike problem.

We lived at Indian Lake Apartments in Virginia Beach during this transitional time. My best friend at the time, Eric, lived upstairs in an apartment with his grandpa. Eric was a cool kid and always down for an adventure and well, this day was no exception.

It sounds crazy today to tell the story…to think that kids would just set out on their own, 11 and 5 years old, to who knows where and be gone for hours, returning home soaking wet and starved. But I really can’t remember anyone noticing. I’ll have to ask the infamous commander of this great and epic expedition and see if he remembers how we got away with it.

The first thing to remember is, we didn’t die. Second to that may be the fact that we could have literally been killed and not one adult tried to stop us. Times were a little different then, I suppose.

At some point in the morning of that fateful day, we wheeled out the trusty single-geared Pink Panther. It was summer so I remember I was scantily clad in a crop top and some shorts. But it could have been a bathing suit for all I can recall.

Eric just happened to come down from his apartment in time to see that we were going for a spin. My brother Kevin, feet firmly planted on the sidewalk held the handlebars still and braced the bike so I could climb aboard. Eric hopped up onto the handlebars and we tested her out. Sturdy. Let’s do this.

We headed out, the shortest route was definitely not the safest. But it was also the only way we knew. After all, we had only ever traveled to Mt. Trashmore in the safety of our Mom’s station wagon. How different could this be?

Well, let me frame this up for you. Have you ever been standing really close to the tracks while a train goes by and you thought wow that’s soooo loud? And then you were like, this things got a lot of power and could crush me to death is a hot second. And then you start to think, is this bitch gonna somehow knock me off my feet and suck me under the wheels? So you step back and you’re like , “shew, I’m never getting that close to a train track again. Mama was right.” Have you?

Ok, so think about that feeling and know that that’s pretty much what it felt like to be flying down the highway on the front tip of the banana seat astride the Pink Panther, smashed in between my peddling to beat Hell brother and my best friend facing literal death on the handlebars….. for five miles….

I have no idea how long it took. An hour? Three? No clue. How fast could we have even been going? But we made it to the park. Of course we made it. My hero brother wouldn’t have let me and my bestie down. Would’ve gotten us killed sure, but not disappointed. No way.

I can’t remember the details of what we actually did at the park that day but I do remember when the thunder started. My hair stood on end and my bare feet tingled in the grass. The black clouds rolled in like vape smoke when the lights go out at the school dance…..

And we got the brick out of there! As lightening danced off the grass behind us, I gritted my teeth in anticipation of a very wet and frightening ride home. Chin tucked and teeth chattering, I remember thinking I might possibly freeze to death. My brother took pity on me, even though I was in the warmest spot on the bike rolled up in a ball with Eric shielding me from the rain. Kevin stopped to give me his shirt.

At this point we were shouted at by a passing motorist.

“Hey kids, can I take your picture for the paper?”

“Um, of course!”

And just like that, we were famous.

We got home and dried off and warmed up and this girl took a nap. My mother came home from work eventually and thankfully she was none the wiser.

Mom: What did you kids get into today?

Us: ….. nothin….

No waiver was signed as you can tell by the misspelled names in the article. No parent permission was given. But the next day when my mom got the paper, there we were, in all our glory and much to her surprise! As you know, famous people don’t get into real trouble and so, neither did we. This is the stuff childhood is made of.

Much thanks to John H. Sheally II for capturing this wonderful memory for us way back when.

Hi! I am the owner and sole writer for “DisturbingClarity”, a humorous yet factual blog found at I began this blog in effort to try to fill in the gaps for travelers like myself, ready for adventure and avoiding disaster. I have also found myself writing about food and gardening and living your best life! I hope you enjoy these articles and please feel free to make suggestions. I would love to hear your ideas!

(….And sometimes I join the community of poets and songstresses on WordPress and break my own heart while I write)

Dear Mom,

Your voice has faded from my memory.

I’m always a little jealous when people say things like, “I can still hear her voice” when they talk about you.

“Can you?” I want to say. “I can’t.” Though they tell me I sound like you.

You know how in movie flashbacks when the daughter or son have those full-color visions of holding hands with their mom, glancing up and seeing her face looking down? I can’t see that. Though they tell me I look like you.

I do have pictures that I am grateful for. You, in all kinds of situations just being your awesome self.

I wish I had just one video though. I would wear it out.

I’d love to see you animated and hear you laugh. I want see the way your hair flew in the wind and the way you moved.

I wish so much that I could be in one of those rooms you lit up like people say. Just one more time.

I didn’t know it was the last chance I’d get. Each thing that you did and said, I thought I’d see you do or hear you say a thousand more times.

I remember that I used to see you in dreams. Real honest-to-goodness dream visions and you would talk to me and sit with me. It went on for weeks after you died. I thought I was wishing those dreams into existence.

I would wake up and write poems that I’d never share because I didn’t want anyone to know I was still hurting. Because maybe, I should have gotten over it by then, in my teenage mind.

I’m much older now and I don’t care who knows my heart. And I don’t care if they think it shouldn’t still be broken. It’s been broken for forever and scarred over a thousand times.

But I still went to bed each night hoping that I’d see you while I slept. And you’d talk to me when my mind wasn’t trying to shut out the pain of losing you. That’s when I could really listen. I was never defensive in our secret dream talks.

Then, one day you stopped visiting me in my dreams. And your voice and your realness faded away from my memories.

I am a little jealous of the people who got to know you as an adult. Those people remember you well.

I bet you gave the best advice and listened when they talked and kept the secrets they asked you to. I am more than a little jealous that I didn’t get to be your friend.

I’ve tried to work it out so that I didn’t miss you this way. I have tried not to need you. But thoughts of you are always there, because you’re not.

And when I had a daughter and I realized that she was my whole heart, I suddenly felt that I knew more about you. We finally had something in common that I could touch and see and hear again.

When I realized that nothing would ever stop me from holding on to her. Nothing would ever stop me from saving her if she needed me, that’s when I knew those dreams were the best you could do. And you gave them to me for as long as you could.

And maybe, I really won’t ever have another one.

But I can’t accept that I also have to forget. Maybe I can’t touch you again. Maybe I’ll never hear your voice. But I am absolutely going to hold out hope that somewhere in the aging and forgetful part of my subconscious your voice exists and I’ll hear it again.

So, if I could just have another one of those vivid vision-like awesome dreams, where you come and sit beside me and hold my hand for a little while, I promise I won’t forget this time. I’ll commit every piece of you to memory and hold you there the way you deserve to be remembered.

– Love, Cook

Continue reading “Dear Mom,”

Cliques vs Friend Groups

Ladies, hear my words and rethink your attitude toward other women!

Cliques still kill me. I’ve never understood the need to stand shoulder to shoulder with other women and make other people feel unwelcome. But it doesn’t mean I don’t want to be accepted or that I’m somehow immune to the sting of rejection.

When you’re a teenager you can travel purposely in groups of peers if you happen to be lucky enough or skilled enough to be accepted by a clique. (Still not sure what it takes) But as an adult you find yourself trying to do things your kids enjoy, break new ground and “get out there” or you find yourself in some obligatory situation where you have to go somewhere for a function and you try to find some joy in it yourself.

Anxiety grips many of my friends and keeps them from going out and enjoying life.

I’ve never been a clique type of girl and honestly when I was a teenager I wanted nothing more than to be accepted by certain groups. To be invited to the movies with a group or to go skiing or to the pool together. It may not look like it now but high school was the worst for me and I just knew there was a better world somewhere out there where I would find my people.

I’ve learned a lot of hard lessons since then and one of them is that this mentality doesn’t go away with age. I’m pretty sure this is where social anxiety springs from and it’s completely unnecessary. You might look at me and come to your own conclusions and say “she fits in everywhere” and you know what, I do. You know why? Because I don’t believe the lies that other people tell about me.

I am a seeker of the outcast at parties. I am the girl you can walk up to and say without words, “I have no one to stand with and people watch” and I will hear your call and stand with you. If not for the rejection I felt as a teenager I might not be this person today.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I was never able to teach my children how to fit in to cliques either. But I really like the adults they’re turning into so I’m going to go with “fortunately”. They have all had a hard time with other girls at school. They are all fiercely independent and passionate people who defend others who can’t defend themselves. All have a heart for the outcast.

My oldest daughter got kicked off the bus one time for a day because she stood up to a bully who took a a special needs child’s book bag. She pushed her down and took it back. The bus driver called me and said he was sorry he had to suspend her for the day because of the rules but she was his hero. ♥️

So to all of you who have a super strong bond with your female clique and refuse to accept new people into it, I am sorry for you that you will never meet and know all the awesome women I have met who still today don’t travel everywhere in cliques.

“Adult women still do this? Yes. Very much yes. Just go try and find a chair at the pool.”

I’m not shaming anyone for having friend groups. I have those. There’s a difference. And when you’re grown and you purposely shut other women out who are clearly seeking someone, anyone to cling to in an awkward social engagement, then you’re in a clique not a friend group. You are the kind of people who would let someone figuratively drown in a social situation and watch them leave and laugh about it.

You know if you are someone who doesn’t reach out and offer those women to sit beside you, even if they might say “no”. You know if you are one of those women who purposely shut other women out because you are jealous of them or worry someone might judge you for spending time with them. And good news ladies, it’s not too late to change.

Am I saying you have to be friends with them? No. I’m saying you can be kind to them, offer them a seat. If you decide that they’re bad news well then I’m all about some boundaries. But don’t let Mean Girls be your theme for life and pretend like it isn’t.

Love yourself enough to love other women and the world will be a better place, I promise.

Continue reading “Cliques vs Friend Groups”

9 Weird Signs You Should Avoid Grains

While you may think of grains as a go-to, easy item to have around, grains may be cause your body more harm than good. As someone with celiac disease, I’m very familiar with the negative effects grains can have on a person’s body. However, the term…
— Read on

I’m pretty sure after 3 years of monitoring and eliminating different foods that I’m largely grain intolerant. It’s even worse if there is excess sugar involved. I can tolerate a small amount of oats, and I do mean small. And a small amount of white rice. Other than that I get every one of the symptoms mentioned in this article. I do at least one Whole30 a year and while it is difficult my skin clears up, I have more energy and all of my digestive issues go away. It’s not a maintainable diet but it is possible to do a Whole30 even if you have to cook for a family. Try it. I get so tired of seeing everyone pop up with these digestive problems and fatigue and refusing to change their diet for the better. A good elimination diet that lasts long enough to see the short term effects should be enough to give you a glimpse into a better life. #disturbingclarity

7 Healthy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Under 400 Calories | Nutrition | MyFitnessPal

Make nutritious, protein-packed versions of the classic comfort food.
— Read on

A Beautiful Thing

(an unexpected take-away from a karate tournament)

You might be thinking, “this is a pointless read.” “I am not interested in karate.” Well, this isn’t just about karate, this is about us, you and me. And this is about our kids, so buckle up.

I couldn’t even think of a good play on words for a title. It just is what it is. But I’m so anxious to get right down to it, I’m not going to try to bait you in with a funny story.

I took my kids to a karate tournament today. It was crowded, so immediately, not my thing. But this wasn’t about me and I needed to get over myself, real quick. And I did.

My kids were SOOO excited about this. Honestly, they behaved better on this trip than probably any other trip we’ve taken. It was their FIRST tournament.

They were nervous. They mingled with their friends, some older, some younger. They tried to shake off their nerves for at least two good hours before it began. I watched as my son (11) encouraged a younger student. I watched as older students encouraged my kids.I’m used to seeing this at belt rankings and during class, but this was a competition! They were competing against each other and I’m sorry to say, I rather expected it to get as ugly as some youth sporting events I’ve been to. You know, where the refs get yelled at and parents get into fights. Yeah….😞 I digress….

A little later on, I heard an adult competitor say they hadn’t seen a much older Sensei in a while, and she said “I need to go find him and make sure he’s alright.” She found him across the gym, watching and encouraging a young student.

As my son and daughter went up to spar, I noticed some of the older teenage students coaching them and encouraging them. As a parent, I can’t help but approve. As a human, I suddenly became aware of this beautiful circle.

Each child, young adult, adult and older adult at this tournament had an intrinsic responsibility for the well-being of another. The older ones took care and looked after the hearts of the younger ones. In turn, the younger students, not only look up to the older students and teachers, they look after them as well.

Everyone was included. Everyone was important. No one was there on their own. Each person was a competitor, a coach, a student and a teacher. Each person gave respect and received respect in return.

Many days, I find myself shaking my head in shame, disappointment and disbelief at the things I hear and see human beings do. Today was different. Today, I was impressed. My heart is glad that I had this experience. My spirit is lightened to see that this phenomenon still exists and that my children get to be a part of it.

I am moved by the knowledge that this good character is being purposely developed through corrective encouragement and self-discipline. My kids need this and quite frankly, every community needs more of this.


Karen Bradberry is the owner and sole writer for “Disturbing Clarity”, a humorous yet factual blog found at She began this blog in effort to try to fill in the gaps for travelers like herself, ready for adventure and avoiding disaster.
As a parent, college student and full time counselor, Karen strives to bring a better understanding of the places she visits, how to get there and how much it really costs, to readers who have always wanted to travel. You can reach Karen Bradberry by writing to:
View Karen’s LinkedIn Profile
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Walking in Wiffle 

I was out walking with my niece tonight and we were knee deep in a conversation about how she is starting the Whole30 tomorrow and the numerous treats she’s permitted herself this weekend in preparation… eh hem… when we made a right off Main Steet onto Tazewell, to avoid the “Sidewalk Closed” area and started past Petals

Photo borrowed, affectionately, from Wiffle Pop’s Website

We heard some friendly chants coming from the corner across the street where a gang of kids was patrolling the parking lot looking for their next victim. Are you completely scandalized yet? Don’t be. A friendly gentleman popped his head out of the door and shouted, “Hey, you wanna free Wiffle Pop?” Well, “YES! Of course!” We replied, neverminding the Whole30 conversation 😂 

I handed off my gigantic German shepherd without a word to one of the kids outside, who gracefully obliged me and we popped into the new shop. How CUTE was this place??!! No, I didn’t take pictures of the shop, so you’ll just have to go see it yourself.

I asked why in the world he was giving me a free Wiffle Pop, when I would gladly pay for one, as I have many times before, and never to my disappointment, might I add. There was even this one time someone had “paid it forward” when we visited their booth at the Market, but I paid it forward again because well, they are that good! 😊 He said this is our new location and these were our practice pops. Um… count me in on that YUM 👅!!

Curious as always, I asked him if they were benefiting from the grant money from the Wythe business start up program and Mr. Temple, Matt, gladly showed me the machines he had been able to purchase with the money. I asked how he made all those tons of Wiffle Pops before and he told me they were freezing them in molds, which I’m sure took FOREVER! 

I stole a few pictures from their Facebook page and website, since I definitely did not have my wits about me while I was in there, enough to take pictures of anything except the menu. 

We picked up our conversation about the Whole30 as my polite way of letting them know I needed one that didn’t have any dairy, since I had recently realized I was lactose intolerant. No problem there! My niece had a cookies 🍪 and cream pop and I enjoyed a mango, much to my delight!

The Temple family has been serving us Wiffle Pops (gourmet popsicles) at the Farmer’s Market for a while now, and I think I recall having one also at a local festival, but alas, the Farmer’s Market has been closed since Octoberish and I have not seen a Wiffle Pop in some time. I was hot from walking and had given my dog most of my water 💦 and man was this a nice unexpected treat! Thank You 😊!

I don’t know what was on this corner before, but I told them I was SO glad to see that they were going to be here now. I mean, the Farmer’s Market gets a bit of traffic, but let’s face it, I don’t only want Wiffle Pops on a Saturday morning. I just know Wytheville is going to embrace this little shop with open hearts and big smiles. Really, they’re such a nice family, how could we not, and plus … POPSICLES! 

Mrs. Temple let me snap a pic of the new menu for the shop which opens in Downtown Wytheville at the beginning of May 2017.

I found this Gofundme link on their Facebook page, I don’t think they would mind me sharing. Click to help! 

I am so excited to add this place to my list of “MUST VISITS” for my readers, I just know they’ll have something you will LOVE ❤️ !!


Karen Bradberry is the owner and sole writer for “Disturbing Clarity”, a humorous yet factual blog found at She began this blog in effort to try to fill in the gaps for travelers like herself, ready for adventure and avoiding disaster.

As a parent, college student and full time counselor, Karen strives to bring you a better understanding of the places she visits, how to get there and how much it really costs to readers who have always wanted to travel. You can reach Karen Bradberry by writing to:

View Karen’s LinkedIn Profile

Wolf Creek Indian Village / Museum & Gift Shop: 1st Annual Easter Egg Hunt 

We hurried up to get to Wolf Creek, hoping they wouldn’t start without us. The hunt was scheduled for 10am. I had never been there, although the kids have both been on school field trips. It was very easy to find, right off I-77 N at exit 58. 

There was plenty of parking for the day, and it was free! I actually would have paid to park, like the state parks require, but thankful nonetheless. We went into the gift shop to register, which only included me handing over $3 a piece for the kids, so no paperwork! We were allowed to look through the museum and gift shop, both were excellent but you’ll have to go there if you want to see it, because they ask that you don’t take pictures in the museum. Totally acceptable in my opinion. 

Unlike most gift shops we visit attached to museums, most items were quite affordable, a nice aspect. The history in the museum was very interesting to me and I easily could have spent a few hours reading  and viewing all of the artifacts. But we went down a few minutes later as a group, which I was glad for since we had to be somewhere later. 

We took a nice little five to ten minute hike down a well-laid trail, around large rocky outcrops that had wooden signs posted identifying local plant life. I noticed they had a golf cart available to carry anyone unable to hike down independently. A very nice touch! 

We ended in the Indian Village near a creek and adorned with palisades. Ages five and under hunted eggs just outside the village and the older children within. The kids scampered in and out of the huts and all about the grounds. 

I saw a lot of older children, including my own, assisting younger ones in reaching eggs in roof thatches and under hut “furniture”. The entire hunt was over in about ten minutes. The staff instructed there would be no pushing, no running and that everyone would treat each other kindly. Thank you 😊! 

We hiked back up through the trail enjoying the scenery, everyone in less of a hurry now.

 The Easter Bunny was waiting at the trail head for photo ops and hugs and most of the children seemed genuinely surprised to see him/ her there. 

The staff continued to organize and direct instead of allowing people to do what people in large groups sometimes do.. eh hem… Good Job! 👏🏻

All the parents were asked to count their childrens’ eggs and write the numbers on a sheet next to their names. And after this was finished they handed out prizes for most eggs, least eggs and two golden eggs found. 

Pictured above: (with parent permission of course) Annabel Rasnik finder of the golden egg age group 6-12. What a cutie! 

They gave out great prizes! The golden egg finders received a large plush animal and the other winners got gift certificates worth $10 each for the gift shop. Like I said before, prices were good in the shop, so I’m certain the $10 went far. Then each child who hunted eggs got an arrowhead necklace. 

They were thrilled! We bought ten mystery eggs that contained jewelry, miniatures and a gift certificate for a stuffed animal and a t-shirt! Win! I also spent $3.50 each on a bag of polished stones for the kiddos. 

We were finished in about 1 and a half hours and on our way. Overall it was a great little excursion which only took 20 minutes in travel time from our hometown of Wytheville, Va. I always try to let you guys know how much things cost because most of us do have to think of that. I spent a whopping $26. Maybe I’ll see some of you there next year! 

Karen Bradberry is the owner and sole writer for “Disturbing Clarity”, a humorous yet factual blog found at She began this blog in effort to try to fill in the gaps for travelers like herself, ready for adventure and avoiding disaster. As a parent, college student and full time counselor, Karen strives to bring a better understanding of the places she visits, how to get there and how much it really costs to readers who have always wanted to travel. You can reach Karen Bradberry by writing to:

GrubMarket | The Farm Has Never Been Closer

Imperfect Parent- You are not alone…

Ok, so I know this is a travel and health site I have created here, but who needs to get away from reality and be exceptionally good to ourselves every now and again more than parents? I want people to understand that there is more to me than my last funny vacation blog, last song I wrote, my job, where I buy my organic veggies and where my band is playing next. So please, if you are an imperfect parent, or know one, please continue reading that my experience won’t be lost with my passing.

I Apologize 

Sometimes people just do bad things. It doesn’t have to mean they had shitty parents or a crazy home life. It doesn’t have to mean that kind of behavior was seen or condoned in the home. In fact, in hindsight and in regard to all the times I may have passed judgement on a person’s parents because of their own atrocious behavior, I owe a few apologies.

Perfect Children

I hope my struggles will help someone else, because I don’t want anyone else to have to feel so alone. Like they cannot identify with anyone in their peer group because their peers have perfect scholarship children who come home on holidays and actually show their parents they love and appreciate them. I’m not knocking that kind of child, we all want that.

You Should Put in the Effort Anyway 

What I am saying is that many many of us did put that kind of time and effort into our children and had the same hopes and dreams and the same blood and sweat sacrifices were made, but our children decided to go against it all.
Sometimes we kid ourselves or listen to others tell us, “if you just put in the time” “if you just put in the effort” “if you stay home and be constantly present” “if you go to work and set a good example” your children will follow a righteous path and all your dreams and wants for them will be realized.

Guess What!? 

Well, no. That would imply that life was fair and deserving people always rise to the top. I should know this. I know a ton of people who are so wealthy, they never have to wonder where their next Louis Vuitton bag is coming from, have been spoiled their whole lives and turned out shitty. I know people who don’t have a pot to piss in and treat everyone they meet like gold and always have, but still struggle. Life is not fair. Deserving people don’t always or even often get what they deserve. Why should I think that would not apply to child rearing? The desire to leave a legacy through the good works our children carry on after we die, does not guarantee their realization.

My Decisions Probably didn’t Matter that Much. I gave myself too much credit. 

You can pick apart my life, my decisions to move around and experience the world, to not stay with people who mistreated me, to sing in a band, to not join a church, to live without credit cards, to sometimes put myself first, to not buy my kids a million gifts all the time, to refuse to let them sleep over at people’s homes, to spend too much money on organic food that could have been spent on things they could play with and I could trip over … all the good and the bad decisions… none of them should result in this phase of my life where I wonder each night and day if I will see my child alive again. And if you’re going through this, then I just want to tell you that there are other decent parents out there who raised their children void of any major traumas or abuse, who are also hurting right now. I don’t know what to tell you to do about it. But I want you to understand and find peace in the fact that you are not alone.


Karen Bradberry is the owner and sole writer for “Really Traveling”, a humorous yet factual blog found at She began this blog in effort to try to fill in the gaps for travelers like herself, ready for adventure and avoiding disaster. As a parent, college student and full time counselor, Karen strives to bring a better understanding of the places she visits, how to get there and how much it really costs to readers who have always wanted to travel. You can reach Karen Bradberry by writing to:
View Karen’s LinkedIn Profile