backstage

This weekend my sisterfriend has a story to share, as do so many of the beautiful, strong women I know.  For all of you who are taking the brave step of sharing your stories out loud for others to hear, have courage.  You are stronger than you know.  You lived it, now go and share it.  You may never know the lives you will change, but just know–you will. Go shine like the light you are.   Love to all.  

as you stand in the wings
watching the one sharing before you
all of your focus on the effort to breathe,
remember
why you are there

you have a story to tell
one from your heart
one that you wrote on the tear-stained paper
word by word
thought by thought
painting the picture
that was etched in your mind

there in the darkness
smile
you are about to reveal your soul
share your story
toss a cord out into the audience
know that it will be caught
as your words stir the hearts
of those listening
and you will draw them closer to you
with each pause, each spoken word
and in the end
you will step back into the wings
with a fuller heart
and a room full of friends
whose hearts will forever be changed
because of you

But First, A Selfie

After playing with her brother and Daddy one evening, our Princess came in and sat on the couch with a big smile on her face.  “Everyone should have a fun, silly, and clumsy person in their lives.  And a Mama too.”

Oh me.  Ouch.

Mayhaps I should be more in touch with my silly and fun side.  Clumsy–I’m okay with letting someone else fill that spot.

Last weekend I saw a phenomenon take place.  And I laughed harder than I have in a long time.  I even got a little silly.  Being with folks who knew you when you were young will do that for a person.  As we visited and sang and yelled our class cheers, I noticed one thing that put smiles on people’s faces faster than anything.

Selfies.

My oldest who is a sophomore at Wesleyan, my alma mater, is double majoring in Psychology and Religious Studies, but I am pretty sure she is getting her doctorate in Selfies.  She takes a lot of them.  She’s even taken one with the President…..of Wesleyan, which was a dream of hers.  She has the whole holding the phone just so and the photo ready smile/expression thing down pat.  Mine wind up fuzzy or with someone’s head cut off or eyes closed.  I long to reach her level of perfection.

The first selfie of the weekend surfaced on Facebook shortly after our Reunion Class picture was taken.  My girl was taking pictures of us, and then she decided to jazz it up a little.  She took a selfie with us in the background.

My sophomore with my graduating class at our 25 Year Reunion.  #selfiewithAub

My sophomore with my graduating class at our 25 Year Reunion. #selfiewithAub

Too much fun.

As the day progressed, she took selfies with different members of my class.  She even gave “lessons” on the perfect pose and the way to smile.  It was hilarious to watch all the action.

Aub and one of my favorite Purple Knight sisters taking a selfie with the President of the college in the background.  I love the sisterhood that spans the generations at our alma mater.

Aub and one of my favorite Purple Knight sisters taking a selfie with the President of the college in the background. I love the sisterhood that spans the generations at our alma mater.

And I noticed something.

Whether it was my Aub or one of my Purple Knight sisters taking the selfie with others on the front porch of Porter, they all had one thing in common.

The biggest smiles ever.

Aub and our sweet "little" Green Knight sister taking a selfie with a few from our Purple Knight class.  Double selfie! #selfiewithAub

Aub and our sweet “little” Green Knight sister taking a selfie with a few from our Purple Knight class and a Pirate or two thrown in for good measure. Double selfie! #selfiewithAub

Fun.  Silly.

That right there.

When someone came up and asked to take a “selfie” with another person, there were no frowns or waves of the hands as if to say, “No, I don’t want my picture taken.”  There was only laughter and then looking at the camera with a great big smile.  Or a funny face.

But no matter the pose, there was joy.  Laughter.  Fun.  You could see it in their eyes.

I like it.

So be forewarned.  I frankly think the world can use more joy and laughter and silliness.  I think we need more smiles and togetherness.  So know that if we are together, I’m very likely to pull out my phone and say, “Hey, let’s take a selfie!” because I love the joy I see in all the ones taken last weekend.  AND because the next time our Princess walks in here talking about silliness and fun, I want her to say, “Everyone should have someone silly and fun in their lives, just like my Mama.”

May you all find someone to laugh and be silly with today.  Maybe even take a selfie–

Spread the joy.

Love to all.

Truth and Stories and the Dear Friends Who Tell Them

Last weekend at my college reunion I had the privilege of sitting next to not one, but two of the women who not only knew me when but who also lived with me, bless ’em.  As we sat and remembered and laughed and longed for more time to talk, a couple of moments stood out that reminded me why they are my friends.

Because they are–no matter how much time or distance is between us–these women will always be my treasured sisterfriends.

Friday evening my Deer friend came into the concert after the lights had been lowered.  I hadn’t seen her in over 20 years I guess, but in that moment it was like no time had passed.  I went over to her and led her to where I was sitting, giving her no choice but to follow, bless her heart.

In a break in the performances, I leaned over and whispered, asking her a question about how something had come about, and she nodded and started to say something.  Then she shook her head, shrugged, and said, “No.  I mean, I could make something up to tell you, but no, I really don’t know.”

I am still laughing over that one.  I don’t think she has it in her to tell anything but the truth.  I love that about her.

The next morning she and I were standing outside with our Rosie friend waiting for the processional into the beautiful and touching Candlelight service which would induct the seniors at our alma mater into the Alumnae Association.  We were catching up and all when she said, “Oooh!  I think a bug just flew in my eye.”

Y’all.  Spring in Georgia sure was lovely.  All fifteen minutes of it before the gnats came back–bringing reinforcements.

Sure enough, a gnat had flown into her eye.  She blinked and rubbed for a minute or two.  “Just my luck,” she laughed.

Our Rosie friend nodded and said authoritatively, “Yes.  Actually, that’s right.  A bug flying into your eye IS lucky.  Kind of like a bird when a bird poops on you.  Only not as messy.”

Chuckling, our Deer friend agreed that she’d rather have the bug than the poop.  At the luncheon after the meeting this same sweet girl (she hasn’t aged a bit in 25 years, I’d hate her if I didn’t love her so much) had an extra sweet tea in front of her place setting.

“See?” said our Rosie friend knowingly.  “I told you.  It’s your lucky day.  You are ON.”

I just love her.  She has all the grace and beauty of her mother, and all of the wit and laughter that I love and miss so much.

Tonight I give thanks for all of my beautiful and sassy and smart and funny sisterfriends.  Most of all I am thankful for a friend who tells the truth and whose sweet spirit makes me smile, and I give thanks for a friend who can make up something that helps make all right in the world for that moment.

Kind of contradictory, right?  Gratitude for the truth and for a story. All in the same breath.

And yet.  It all makes sense.  Surround yourself with folks who love you–folks who will tell you the truth when you need to hear it and will tell a story that will bring you comfort when you don’t.

Find friends like that and they will be yours for life.

Wishing you all will be so fortunate–

Love to all.

A Little Writing Assignment

Yesterday after our Princess finished her math and spelling exercises, I asked her to work on her creative writing.  Rather than giving her a prompt as I usually do, I told her she could write about anything she would like.

A few minutes later, I heard piano music.  The littles have been taking lessons since January.  Our Princess has really taken to it.  Cooter will practice when I remind him, but she will sit down and play a tune several, SEVERAL times a day.  And the tune is usually Alouette or Yankee Doodle.  She knows them by heart.

So when I heard the music flowing, I knew it was her playing.  I left what I was working on, and went into the room where she was playing.

“Ummm, hello ma’am, what are you doing?  I believe you are supposed to be writing something?”

She looked up from her music and seemed shocked.  “But Mama, I AM writing.  See?”

And there on her plain robin’s egg blue paper, she had drawn lines and was writing notes on the lines.

Musical notes.

Composing.  My baby girl was composing.  Writing a song.

After I leaned over and picked my jaw up off the floor, I nodded.

She grinned.  “I’m writing though, right, Mama?”

I nodded again.  Satisfied, she turned back to the piano and continued to plunk out a tune and make a note of it on her paper.

Bless it.

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Tonight I’m thankful for the joy of homeschooling.  There are days (like today) when Cooter seems to misplace his math every five minutes, and we are still working on it at nightfall.  But then there are days like yesterday when I see the passion for a subject or activity, and I can help them grow wings and fly.  Or, you know, compose.  I’m also thankful for the way music seems to soothe our Princess’ soul.  When she was frustrated with an assignment earlier today, she asked if she could get up and practice one of her songs for a few minutes.  After she played through it a couple of times, she came back to her work with a clearer mind and a can do attitude.

I love that.

May we all find something that we love so fiercely that it soothes our soul and gives us peace.

Love to all.

pack up the moon

when you were very small

and the world seemed so big

I held your tiny hand with the perfect pink fingernails

no bigger than a pencil top

and whispered in your sweet little ear,

“I love you to the moon and back”

when you started dreaming 

of who and what you wanted to be,

big dreams and small about 

your name in lights

or with letters behind it

I sat you down, looked you in the eyes,

told you I believed in you and said, 

“Shoot for the moon baby girl, you’ve got this”

when a smile turned your heart

and you dreamed of what might be,

could be

I wished for one who would

never hurt you or betray your trust,

for the one who would love you

as you should be loved

and send you over the moon

and now as the time is passing

more quickly, as it picks up the pace

and the days and the years speed by–

because of all you have put into 

your life and your story, 

you are not far off from those hopes 

and dreams coming true

I watch as you begin to pack your bags

for the next leg of your journey,

the next chapter in your story

which is not so far away anymore

and I remember so many of the joys and sorrows

and tender moments

in the quiet of the night as you lay sleeping

worn out from all there is to do

I pack up the moon and tuck it into a corner 

of your bag

carefully wrapped in the fabric of my love 

and my hopes and dreams for you

so that you will always have light in the darkness

and no matter how far apart this life takes us

I will always love you to the 

moon

and 

back

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The One About Cleaning Up the Trail and Sitting on My Pity Pot

But first, a warning:  If you have a weak stomach or strong gag reflex or if you’re recovering from a tummy bug, you might not want to read this.  Save it for later.  When you feel better.  Okay, so here goes–

Friday night I came home from spending the entire day and evening at my alma mater, Wesleyan College.  I started my day off sharing what it was like for me as a student then and as a Mama now with prospective students and their Mamas.  I love sharing my love of my second home with these families who are mapping out their next steps on the journey.

After lunch my fellow classmates, my Purple Knight sisters, started arriving.  It was an emotional and wonderful day full of, as my oldest who is a sophomore there would say, “all the feels.”

When I pulled in my driveway that night, it was already past my littles’ bedtime, but I let them stay up a little bit longer sharing their stories with me.  Cooter was so happy to see me he did that laugh/cry that comes from being so relieved you just about can’t stand it. Our Princess greeted me with a big hug, a beautiful smile, and a little “Alouette” on the piano.  (It’s her favorite–she plays it.  All.  The. Time.)

After they went to bed and I was sitting on the couch writing, Cooter came back into the living room and plopped down in the recliner.

“I’m just going to sit with you for a few minutes, okay?” It was sweet that he wanted to be close by.  I said okay, and we sat together quietly.

After a few minutes, he told me he wanted to sleep in the chair.  He was almost half asleep as it was, so we got him a pillow and a blanket and he was out in no time.  It being a Friday night, I figured there was no harm in it.

By 1:30 I’d been in my own bed and asleep for over an hour.  I woke to him whispering for me.  “Mama.  Mama.”  He tugged at my sleeve a little.  I was sitting up and getting out of bed before his words registered with me.

“I threw up.”

Oh me.

He told me he’d tried to get down the little hall to what we call the garage bathroom (it’s by the door to the garage).  “But I threw up on the floor a little bit, Mama.  I’m sorry.”

Bless him.

And when I saw what his definition of a “little bit” was, I blessed myself.  I was blessing things under my breath left and right.

Here’s the thing.  I can clean up vomit.  I can.  It’s not my favorite, but my gag reflex is pretty strong.  I can do it, but I don’t enjoy it.  I sighed and grabbed a roll of paper towels and the spray.  And I got to work.

For the next ten minutes (not kidding) I was all but standing on my head.  I was bent over spraying and wiping and tossing paper towels into the trash can.  All. The. Way. Down. The. Hall.  He didn’t miss a spot on his little trail.  If that was a little bit…..

well.  Moving on.

It was when I wasn’t having to come up for air (literally and figuratively) but kept going bent over without my legs aching or my head spinning that I realized all the working out has paid off.  I’m not sure that being able to clean up my child’s upchucked supper is why Justin from my Daily Burn class keeps wanting me to focus on strengthening my core, but it worked.  When I reached the end of the hall, I figured the worst was over.  I made the 90 degree turn into the bathroom and oh my.  More trail.  Leading up to the goal–the toilet bowl.

I kept my head down and kept working.  When I got to the toilet I finally let myself stand up.

It too was NOT pretty.

Suffice to say that child had nothing left in him at all.

Okay, so my goal in sharing this story is not to gross you out.  Thanks for sticking with me this far.

As I was cleaning up the mess and worrying about my little guy and wondering if it was a bug or something he ate and how long it would last,  I was also busy getting comfortable on my pity pot.  I just KNEW I wouldn’t be able to return for my second day of our reunion.  I mean, what kind of Mama leaves her son sick like that and goes and plays with her friends?  I just couldn’t do it.  But my oldest was getting an award at the Alumnae meeting that morning.  What kind of Mama doesn’t show up to cheer her daughter on?  I had no idea how to make this right.

I thought about what all I would be missing, and then I thought of my friend who had not been able to come in on Friday night because her father had an unexpected medical emergency.  I thought about the ones who weren’t able to come because of living too far away or expenses or obligations or insecurities.

And then it hit me how selfish I was being–feeling sorry for myself.  I’d already had a wonderful day with my classmates.  That was more than many would get.  It put it all into perspective.  Life happens, plans change.  The good news was that eventually my little one would get better.  He just wanted his Mama close by while he was doing that whole getting better thing.

I tucked him back into the recliner, giving thanks that his trail had happened on the hard floors and not the carpet in his bedroom.  I fixed myself up a comfy spot on the couch close by, settled in, and we both went back to sleep.

Early the next morning he woke up with a smile on his face and a story to share.  That he still wants to share stories with me at age 8 is precious to me.  I asked him how he was feeling.  He beamed, “Great.”

Hmmm.  Well, that was good.

Then I asked him if he would be okay with me going back up to Wesleyan.  He thought for a brief second and then said, “Yes.”  And he smiled.

I talked with my Fella, and we decided I would go and that I would check in to see how Cooter was doing.  I could come back home at any time.  We planned out what he could feed him and have him drink and what to watch for.  He assured me they would be fine.

And you know what?  They were.

Tonight I’m thankful for the realization that just because something happens doesn’t mean the world is out to get me.  Even though it felt like the Universe was working against me, it wasn’t.

Sometimes little boys get upset stomachs.  And then someone has to clean it up.  This time that someone was me.  That’s just the way it is.

Wishing you all a “trail-free” week, but if one does come along, don’t stress.  It’s not someone or something out to get you.  Life is like that.  According to the words in the Good Book, the sun rises on the evil and the good, and the rain falls on the just and the unjust.*  It’s life.  And it’s okay to cry over it.  Just don’t fall apart thinking the whole world is out to change your plans, to steal your joy.  You might just be surprised.  Often the world can right itself almost as quickly as it fell apart.

There’s another thing Justin says a lot besides the “build your core” stuff.

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Yeah.  That.  We’ve got this.  One step (or paper towel) at a time.

Love and best wishes to all.

*Matthew 5:45

A Weekend With the Gardeners

Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.  –Anthony J. D’Angelo

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One is not done growing or grown “up” when she leaves Wesleyan College as a young woman.  When she returns “home,” Wesleyan and all her sisters will continue to feed her soul and empower her to bloom and to continue becoming more–more of whom she was created to be–with love, laughter, and shared stories.  Tonight I am thankful for those gardeners who came into my life almost 29 years ago.

I love you, and I treasure you–your laughter, your hugs, your compassion, your frivolity, and your hearts.  I love that the women whom I started growing up with will snap pictures of you up to mischief one minute and then help you put things right in another.  They laugh over silly and joyful things, they tear up over injustices and hurt, they stand together and are strong.

May you each find yourself blessed with a charming gardener.  It’s planting season, y’all.  Let’s go love on some folks and grow some blooms.

Love to all.