Wit and Wisdom from the Littles

This post is brought to you by Earlier Today Tara, as This Evening Tara is busy with family stuff, having fun, and laughing, and explaining that she IS in costume–as a Domestic Engineer.  Ha.  That makes me laugh.  My Mama put that as her job on forms she had to fill out back when I was little.  At least I remember the conversations about it; she didn’t want to put housewife because no way was she married to her house.  Anyway…..Happy Today.

Really today’s thoughts are from the littles.

Yesterday our Princess had been outside on the porch playing with the cats.  She is especially close to Sugar, the grown cat we nursed from three weeks old.  When she came back in, she flopped on the couch and sat for a minute.

“Mama? Can I ask you something?”

“Sure, baby.  Go ahead.”  I tried not to point out she already had.

“Mama, how come we can’t take all of our bad feelings and flush them down the toilet?  Wouldn’t that be a good thing to be able to do?”

Oh the things that little handle could solve.....if only it could.

Oh the things that little handle could solve…..if only it could.

Wow.  Yes ma’am it sure would.

Turns out she’d been out there talking to Sugar about how we found him and she got upset for him all over again.  She is my child.  She works through a lot of stuff out there talking to that cat.  Just like I used to with Midnight sitting on my lap on the back steps at Blackberry Flats.  There’s nothing like having an animal that will listen.  And pat the tears coming down your cheeks.

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Princess was asking Cooter some questions from one of those Brain Quest kits.  She came to this one and asked him:

“What heavenly body orbits the earth?”

Before my mind even registered the question that had been asked, Cooter called out, “God!”

And there you go.  Even though Princess told him he had the answer wrong, I told him I thought that was a pretty good one.  Don’t you think?

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In picking out whom she’d like to dress up as, Princess FINALLY decided on Princess Leia.  We put together an all white outfit with a big belt and boots.  She was all that and a can of hairspray–to hold those buns in place on the sides of her head.  She was very excited about how it all came together.  At one point when I was explaining that she could tuck her futuristic weapon in her belt at her side, she breathed deeply and said, “Well, I was really hoping for a white purse so I could tuck it in there.”

That right there.  That’s my girl.  She can climb trees, collect frogs, hit a ball with skill, and help save herself and her friends from the master of evil himself, BUT when it all comes down to it, that girl LOVES to accessorize.  It tickles me that she used the costume idea to try and get another purse.  Tickled me, but no, we didn’t get her one.  It’s after Labor Day for goodness’ sake.

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Tonight I am thankful for the wisdom of littles and ears to hear them.  And for family fun and being together.  Even when we are missing our Aub away at college, we talk to her on the phone.  I love that there is a fight about who will answer the phone when they see her name on the Caller ID.  Well okay I don’t exactly love it, but I love that they both want to talk to her.  Princess asks to call her and when there is a question about clothes, she says, “Let me call and ask the fashion expert.”  That would be the one I overheard her telling last night, “You really are the best big sister.”

And I’m grateful for the excitement and joy that cookie cutters and pumpkins and new pencils and dressup clothes and bouncy puppies can bring.  As Mama would say, Happy Everyday, y’all.

Our new pencils.  Our Princess is so excited because she is already ready to go there--Golden Heart of 2027!

Our new pencils. Our Princess is so excited because she is already ready to go there–Golden Heart of 2027!

We made these today for our Fall Family Hootenanny.  They are too fun, aren't they?

We made these today for our Fall Family Hootenanny. They are too fun, aren’t they?

I made this batch for me. These are traditional, and that matters to me.  Mama made these every fall.  I used her cookie cutters to make these today.  Also going to the Fall Family Hootenanny.

I made this batch for me. These are tradition, and that matters to me. Mama made these every fall. I used her cookie cutters to make these today. Also going to the Fall Family Hootenanny.

Our fluffy ball of happiness, the Good Witch Sophie.  Love that her tail is blurred because she was so excited the whole time!

Our fluffy ball of happiness, the Good Witch Sophie. Love that her tail is blurred because she was so excited the whole time!

After the Pink Ribbons Have Faded…..

White House decorated pink in honor of Nationa...

White House decorated pink in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The last day of October is upon us.  Pink month is almost over.

Last Wednesday we gathered to say goodbye and remember a sweet lady whose fight with breast cancer had ended.  Last night I thought about a sweet young mama whose fight also was over, ending a life so full way too soon.  I sat with her younger son as he talked about getting in a car and driving up to Heaven to see his Mama.  Way.  Too.  Soon.  I have an aunt and a cousin who have both fought and won (for lack of a better word) against this Giant.  I have one friend who fought and is cancer free and another who has just been diagnosed.  I’m guessing there are few of us if any who don’t know someone who has been devastated by this Giant of a disease.

This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  The month when car wash fountains turn pink and people take their poodles to the groomers to be dyed pink for the Race for the Cure.  All in the name of awareness and support.  You can buy everything from soup to bread to paper towels to saltines and cheese carrying the pink ribbon of support.  It wasn’t until I read this article by a young woman fighting breast cancer that I began thinking through this whole pink thing.  All of those products we proudly add to our cart and generously pay a little extra for, knowing that the extra is going towards the fight?  What would it be like if we gave that whole amount towards research and prevention?

It seems that October 13 was National No Bra Day in support of women who are fighting or who have lost the battle to breast cancer.  In the words of my high school algebra teacher when she’d hear an answer that made no sense–“Do what?!” I mean, really?  What good is that supposed to serve?  Did people look at me and say, Oh she doesn’t support breast cancer awareness because she…..well, ahem, she didn’t forgo her own support?

No.  Just no.

Awareness only goes so far.  I am aware.  I’ve been “up close and personal” aware of what breast cancer could do to your body for over ten years, metastasizing and affecting other organs and it’s just AWFUL.  RAVAGING.  This awareness didn’t make me do what I should have done at least four years ago–be tested.  I was afraid.  Of so many things.  When you have autoimmune issues, it’s hard to trust that your body won’t betray you at every turn.  So fear was the motivating factor for NOT being checked.  I know, it makes no sense, but that’s the irrational way my mind was working.  It has only been in the past three weeks that I found an alternative test and had it done.  I’m very lucky.  And thankful.  All is well.

So what happens after the soup is all sold? When the pink beribboned bread is out of date?  The paper towels have all be used?  Where does all this support and cheering our sisters on through the fight go after October is over?  I know it doesn’t all go away, but it seems almost like a party in October, doesn’t it?  I wonder if the women fighting this have what equates to the January blues come November?  Breast cancer, check.  Moving on to the next cause du jour.

I had a call the other day from someone in the community who knows I volunteer with Daybreak and folks in need. She had a co-worker who is interested in doing something “to feed the homeless.”  She put her friend on the phone.  I asked her what she was interested in.  “I want to feed the homeless,” she said. “You know, now that it’s cold?  They must be hungry.”  Yes ma’am.  I’m sure they are.  Just like they were in July and September and will be in March and April.  No, I didn’t say that to her.  Instead I shared with her about the different soup kitchens and food pantries and clothing closets that I knew about who were seeking support and volunteers.  “Okay,” she said, “but is this where people stand in line and you fix their plates?”  Sigh.  I’m not sure what she was looking for, but I don’t think I was helping.  She seemed frustrated that the soup kitchen opportunity in our town wasn’t until next month.

The thing is I think we have this perception that certain folks are in need only when they are on our minds.  Of course it is natural for us to think of women (and men) with breast cancer during October.  But unfortunately, their fight doesn’t end when the pumpkin turns into a turkey at the strike of twelve on the 31st.  It is natural to think of folks without shelter when the weather turns cold.  But they are out there in the spring rains and the summer heat and when the mosquitoes swarm at sunset.  Who is there to feed them and hand out mosquito repellant and rain jackets then?

There are people who walk the walk all year long and for them I am thankful.  There are people who work for cancer prevention and awareness all year long.  And yes, I see the importance of taking time each year to share stories and ways to help.  But I think we need to be real careful what that support looks like.  And we also need to be aware that, for way too many people, cancer and being without a home, just two examples, are like a tv channel that nothing good is on.  Only they can’t turn it off or change to a better one.  For them, that is the only channel available.  A poor metaphor perhaps, but I hope you get my point.  After October is over, after the winter cold defrosts in spring, there are still people in need.  Of support.  And love.

I love these guys, but I  think it's really sad that this shirt will probably be on clearance by the middle of next month?  Why not offer them year-round?

I love these guys, but I think it’s really sad that this shirt will probably be on clearance by the weekend and off the shelves by the middle of next month.  Why not offer them year-round?

I mostly wanted to share what I learned this October.  At the beginning of November last year there was a cart of reduced and clearance items at our grocery store.  Among the things were dishtowels and aprons and potholders, all with the beautiful bright pink ribbons.  50% off.  Underneath there were even breast cancer awareness t-shirts and water bottles and socks.  75% off.  Awesome!  And yet, I’m realizing this year, not so much.  I didn’t need any of that.  Instead I should have come home and figured out how to support folks with cancer directly.  And I guess that’s my point.  Relationships.  I appreciate the folks that fund raise for cancer research and resources for people in need.  We need them and what they do.  But sometimes I think they might make it a little too easy for us to feel like “I’ve done good.”  I know the folks I volunteer with would rather have folks show up every week to build a relationship than just about anything else.  That’s what we all really want, isn’t it?  To have someone walking alongside us.  With love and respect, an ear to listen and a shoulder to lean on.  I think yes.

In the end it wasn’t awareness or education that made me get checked.  It was relationships.  As Sister put it recently, “I’ve got to take care of ME so I can take care of THEM.”  It was that and my sisterfriends who encouraged and nagged me, and it was my Aunt who guided me as well.  I did what I did because of the people I know and love who love me right back.  The people in my life helped me take care of my life.

If I meet someone in need, I hope to have the courage to reach out and change their life and mine for the better.  Wear pink if that’s your color but also brighten someone’s life by walking in and sitting with them, listening to their stories and promising to whoop them if they don’t take care of themselves.  Knowing someone cares can make all the difference.

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31 Ways to Help A Friend With Breast Cancer:  http://sarahthebarge.com/2013/10/31-ways-to-help-a-friend-with-breast-cancer/

National No Bra Day and Breast Cancer Awareness Month — OR — Please Put That Pink Can of Soup Down & Put Your Bra Back On: http://cancerinmythirties.wordpress.com/2012/10/13/national-no-bra-day-and-breast-cancer-awareness-month-or-please-put-that-pink-can-of-soup-down-put-your-bra-back-on/

The Color Pink: http://sarahthebarge.com/2013/10/the-color-pink/#more-605

I Won’t Tell You How to Help the Homeless: http://hughlh.com/help-homeless/

Love Wins: A Conversation with Hugh Hollowell http://homelessincarolina.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/love-wins-a-conversation-with-hugh-hollowell/

Unwrapping the Cord and Letting Go

Today I started to use a steam mop that was my Mama’s.  It hit me as I was about to unwrap the cord and plug it in that she was the one who had wrapped the cord just so.  The last time it was wrapped it was by her hands.

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Yeah, sometimes I get sentimental about the tiniest of things.

But they seem so huge.

When I worked for Hospice, we admitted a young mother who all too soon died from cancer.  Her best friend had been there through several years of battling the Giant, right there in the trenches with her.  She cooked, she cleaned, she cared.  It was a few days after the funeral when I stopped by the house.  The best friend was there.  She was talking, and all of a sudden she stopped and sat down.  The tears began to flow down her cheeks.

“I went in the bathroom to put the towels away.   The towels in the back were folded differently.  Those are the ones she folded.  Her towels that she washed and dried and folded and put away.  I don’t fold towels like she did.  It just hit me.  I don’t do it the way she did.  Her hands were the last ones to touch those towels,” the best friend sobbed.

I get it.

There’s so much of that, isn’t there?  Anytime someone leaves us, no matter how.  I remember when my sisterfriend married military and was moving away.  We always had these two cups that we used when she came over.  One was orange, one was yellow.  I am sure I found them at the Fred’s in town.  (It was my Super Savings place.)  I don’t remember what made me get them, but I did and we used them every single time.  I remember unloading the dishwasher the day after she left town.  There were those cups.  It just felt strange.  The cups are here, and now she is not.  I didn’t use them again.  I just couldn’t.  It would not have been the same.

Summer of 2012 Mama and I spent watering the tea olive we planted out at the cemetery for Daddy.  We hauled the water out there in washed out milk jugs.  The expiration dates were all different, but there was this one.  It was Daddy’s birthday.  And every time I filled that jug, I would think about how odd it was to see his birthdate on the jug like it was just any other day.  Which of course it never will be again.  It will always be his birthday.

It’s all a bit too surreal, isn’t it?  This is the point when Daddy would have asked me, “So did you unwrap the cord and take care of business or did you save it wrapped like that?”

I unwrapped it.  Painstakingly, hoping to remember just how she did it, but of course I can’t.  And so when I was done trying to achieve some semblance of clean around here, I just wrapped it up as best I could and let it go.  There’s some things I just can’t remember.

But there’s so many that I can.  And that will have to be enough.

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Bouncing Back is Optional

I just finished reading Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones.  Forget that book about the shades of gray, this book is all about the gray.  There is no black or white clear-cut good guys or bad guys or women and girls in this book.  It was not a hard book to read, but it was a hard read.  Just when I’d decided where I stood on the characters and what was happening, the character telling the story changed and there I was again–in the Land of Gray.

But that’s where we all live isn’t it?  I’m glad I read the book, even though it frustrated me at times that there were no concise answers, good and bad. It made me think and feel emotions that I later questioned, and that part wore me out.  Wesleyan alumnae were encouraged to read the book as part of the Pioneer Book Club.  All of the first-year students were required to read it as part of their first-year seminar classes, so it was a way to connect alumnae to life on campus.  I was motivated to read it because my oldest is a first-year there and mentioned that she thought the book was good.

Then she finished it before me.

And she immediately posted on Facebook on a Tuesday afternoon:

Just finished “Silver Sparrow” and I’m sitting here about to cry in Starbucks.

I think to say I enjoyed it would be an odd choice of words.  It triggered some feelings for me, maybe because of stuff from my previous life.  But yes, I’m glad I read it, and at some point, I would like to read something else by Ms. Jones.

But it was when I came to the last paragraph in the book that I paused and gave thanks for having read it through to the end.  (spoiler alert here)  Because I know what she is talking about.  I live there everyday.

20131028-214705.jpgAmen.

I know folks mean well, but sometimes people don’t need to hear about doors or windows that will open.  Nor do I believe that things that are hurtful or sad or painful will make any of us a better person or a stronger person.  Those things will shape who we are, yes, but for better or for worse?  Who’s to say?

So tonight I am thankful that someone else out there gets it.  And maybe if she does, it is possible that there are others.  Maybe I’m not as abnormal or mal-adaptive as I thought I was.

Or maybe I am.  Either way, I’m thankful for writers like Tayari Jones who write about the real shades of gray in this world and let those out there who hurt, who question, who doubt, and who are scraping by know that it’s okay NOT to feel stronger–they are not alone.  It’s good to know bouncing back is optional.

The Word That Punched Me in the Stomach

I was grown before I read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

It was eighteen months ago in fact.  I think Daddy had suggested that Aub read it, so I had gotten it and had it around the house.  After Daddy passed in November 2011, I found it hard to concentrate and read any book.  But I pulled it out in the summer of 2012 and I opened the pages of a book that I will forever and always treasure.

So many lines that touched my heart.  If I put them all down here for you, then well, I’d practically have the whole book written out for you to read.  If you haven’t read it or you only read it as a young person for a school requirement, I highly recommend your making time to read it now.

Because it’s important.  It is an important story whose lessons we must never forget.  We cannot afford to forget them, for to do so would send us back in time to a place that was hard and ugly and broken.  More so than things are today.

Several weeks ago Aub found out that “To Kill a Mockingbird” was coming to one of the local theaters in Macon. She could attend with fellow students as part of a community enrichment program.  She was thrilled and so was I.  I was excited when she made the list to attend.  The performance was set this past Friday.  All of the tickets were sold out, so I was satisfied to enjoy it vicariously through her.  However, she called me in the middle of the day and said the program had an extra ticket and I was going.  What a wonderful gift!  To see one of my favorite books performed in live theater, and that my oldest wanted me to join her.

The playbill from the performance we attended Friday night.  It was phenomenal!

The playbill from the performance we attended Friday night. It was phenomenal!

When we arrived in downtown Macon, it was already dark and the town had a festive feel to it.  The theater was full by the time the lights went down and the play started.  Oh how I do love live theater!  Before the play began, we looked through the playbill to see that we recognized a couple of names.  We knew that one of Aub’s high school classmates was playing Mayella Ewell.  I knit with the stage director, and I had taken a directing class from the director back when I was in college.  What a small world.

I was immediately taken in with the story and the way it was presented.  The choir added a spiritual feel that set the whole story in motion.  The adult Scout as narrator was a talented actress whose voice carried you back in time as young Scout came onto the stage.

It was absolutely wonderful, and I loved every minute of it.  Except.  I’ve read the book.  I know the word is in there.  Much of the book deals with prejudices and the idea of fairness and justice and the goings-on surrounding a trial for a young black man who was accused of behaving inappropriately toward with a young white girl.  So I knew to expect it.

Only I didn’t.

The first time the “n” word echoed across the theater, I sucked in my breath.  I felt as though I’d been kicked in the stomach.  I haven’t heard that word for at least fifteen years.  In my previous life I heard it all too often.  What the use of the word represented is one of the reasons that is my previous life.  I could not and would not raise a child in such prejudice.  And so I didn’t.

Each time during the play the word was said, and it was never whispered, I nervously looked around.  I was surrounded by Wesleyannes, students from Wesleyan College, many of whom were international students.  What must they be thinking, I worried.  Are they offended?  Upset?  Growing up, I knew we weren’t allowed to “cuss.”  But I also knew we were NOT allowed to say that word.  Cussing reflected poorly on you and might could offend someone, but saying that word only served to hurt people.  And we were not ever to do that knowingly.

Such a beautiful and thought-provoking performance.  I mean, it was fantastic.  At the end when the young man belted out a solo of “I’ll Fly Away” and was then joined by the choir and then the entire cast–TEARS.  Streaming down my face.  I really was trying not to embarrass my oldest in front of her fellow classmates, but there was no helping it.  I love that song.  And I thought of Mama and Daddy and so many others.  That song.  Beautiful.

On the way home we were talking about the play, and I shared how hearing that word had impacted me.  “Oh Mama,” Aub said. “Folks say it all the time now.  Like instead of brother or sister or dude.  It’s just what they say.”

That made me sad.  And mad.  “I better not hear you saying it.  Ever.”  And I meant it.

In the past couple of months, I’ve read Ann Hite’s three books, but Low Country Spirit dealt with what happened during the Civil War in the south from the perspective of different slave women.  I know she researched it thoroughly, and there were no exaggerations.  I went from there to reading Whistling Past the Graveyard, which is about nine-year old Starla, a young white girl in Mississippi who winds up travelling from there to Nashville with Eula, a black woman, and a white baby she found on the church steps in 1963.  After finishing that book (an excellent story by the way), I started “Silver Sparrow” by Tayari Jones, which is the story of two young African-American girls living in Georgia in the 1970s and 1980s.  I was nearly finished with that book when I saw the play Friday night.

So much hurt has happened in our country, especially this part of the country, in the name of race and judging others about their outward appearance.

Weighs heavy on my heart.

I believe, as it was said in To Kill a Mockingbird:

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The adult Scout kept talking about something that Atticus wanted her to do.  And that was it.  To stand in someone else’s shoes and walk around a bit.  It’s not an easy thing to do by any means, but it is where grace comes from, and it can make us better people and the world a better place to live.  I now realize this is what my Mama lived by.  Daddy too.

There are so many beautiful words arranged in thought that beg to be heard and lived out.  Like this one:

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The hard truth.  Live it now in this world.  Try bringing a little of the next world into the here and now.  Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing?

As I heard the closing lines of the play, I thought of another line which brought to mind a song sung by Miranda Lambert and written by Phillip Coleman and Don Henry:

Ever since the beginning to keep the world spinning
It takes all kinds of kinds.

Indeed it does.  Or, in the words of Harper Lee…..

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The final lines of the play were Atticus and Scout talking after the night when Scout finally figured out about standing in someone’s skin.

“Atticus, he was real nice.”

“Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”

And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?  It takes all kinds of kinds, but in the end, there’s only one kind.  Us.  More alike than different.  If only we could make it a habit of stepping in the other’s skin for a few minutes, I bet we’d be surprised.  To really see the other person.  No it won’t be easy, and yes, my whole being is bucking me on this.  I don’t want to know what they’re like on the inside, I’d rather just keep on not liking them. I’ve seen enough from the outside looking in.  If I take a minute to think about what it’s like to be them, then I might change my mind and my hard heart might soften and I might have to change my thoughts about who they are…..and oh, yeah, we might actually get along.  And my children, who are always watching, will see it too.  What I do counts four times–once for me, and then once for each time it imprints on my children who see my actions and hear my words.  I have to remember that.  It touched me when Atticus Finch talked about how what he did he had to do or he couldn’t raise his children, couldn’t have them watching him do the easy thing, it had to be the right thing.  It’s true.  They’re watching.

And so I re-commit myself to the idea of acceptance and tolerance and most likely I will get my copy of this book back from my oldest and settle in to re-read it for a spell.  It’s one of those timely stories full of good wisdom and I expect I’ll likely find something new every time I revisit Maycomb, Alabama.  In the meantime, if you haven’t already read it, join me.  If you have, I’d love to hear your favorite parts.  And if you are local, good news–the play has been held over and there will be shows on November 1 and 2 at 8 p.m. each night.  You can find out more and order tickets here.

Love to all.

GPS Coordinates for Grace–About Losing, Seeking, and Finding

 

Today we went out geocaching for the first time with our friends from The Light at Bare Bulb Coffee.  They are like family to us, this group of folks who set out to try something new and learn a little about seeking and finding and apparently, patience.  And all about accepting there are some things we will never find no matter how hard we look.  We used GPS coordinates to seek the little treasures hidden along the trails, working together, poking and digging and laughing and pondering where would be the perfect hiding place.  Ah those tricky clues!

Our Geocaching Adventure today--a first for me and mine.

Our Geocaching Adventure today–a first for me and mine.

It was a beautiful day for wearing hoodies and vests and jackets and watching the patterns on the ground the sunlight made as it filtered through the trees.  At times it was hard to tell the difference between the grownups and the children.  In the end we arrived back at the starting point, having actually found one geocache and all with smiles on our faces.

Until.

Aub opened up the back door and called out that we’d been robbed.  Her purse that she had left under her sister’s jacket in the backseat was open and things were strewn all over the backseat.  When we realized it was her wallet, The Fella asked me about mine.  I opened the front door and looked down under the seat where I’d left it.  Nothing seemed to be disturbed.  Thank goodness.  As Aub searched it seemed that all they absconded with was her cash.  Which was sad enough, but not as bad as it could have been.  Rightfully so she was pretty upset.  As we began the drive home, tensions were high and our Princess started crying.  Aub turned to her, and Princess said, “I lost something too.  My DS.”  Remember how much she and Cooter wanted one of these?  I got really good bargains on the local bookoo site.  Bless her heart, she has done a really good job of taking care of it.  It’s not her fault someone reached in and took what wasn’t theirs.

Oh the tears.  Her heart was broken and suddenly what had been so wonderful was marred.  When we got home, Aub shook her head in anger and said, “I’m more mad about the DS than I am the money.”  She looked at her little sister.  “She will never be the same again.”

I know.  I know, and it makes me sad.

When I was little we didn’t lock our doors.  We lived in a little row of brick houses over on Boy Scout Road and all was safe.  There was a little girl living next door and sometimes we played together, though for the life of me, I can’t remember her name now.  One evening I told her I couldn’t play long because we were going to KMart after supper.  It was a pretty special event, because it was rare we did evening shopping trips like that.  When we returned home after dark, a light was on in the house and Mama’s jewelry box had been gone through.  The one thing missing?  Her ten commandments charm bracelet.  I’m not making this up folks.  I’m not sure exactly what all transpired, but the next day the little girl was at our front door apologizing and returning the bracelet.

Even though I knew who had done it and all was back in its proper place, my world had been changed.  To think that someone was in my house, my safe place, when I wasn’t there and I didn’t know about it.  It upset the heart, the mind, and the stomach.

Aub was about the same age when the house she and I were living in was broken into twice in a six week period.  They ransacked and took, between the two occasions, her change jar, her embroidered backpack, her VCR with her favorite Olive the Olive Reindeer movie in it, and a video camera that I was using for my grad school project.  It was terrifying.  Especially for Aub.  After the second time we set about finding somewhere else to live.  We moved in short order and got a dog who very quickly took it upon himself to let me know if someone so much as slowed down passing by our house.  Bosley was an awesome protector.

It took quite a while for us to feel safe again though.  As a matter of fact, there are times that the old fears come back full force.  When I walked in my house both of those times, I wasn’t sure if the person was still in the house or not.  The second time I was so angry that it had happened again, that I yelled out, daring him or her to show his/her face.  Yeah, anger can make us do a lot of foolish things, can’t it?

Today I felt that uneasy sensation come back.  That unsettling anxiety and feeling off-kilter.  Someone had been in our stuff, had made what felt safe and secure to us suddenly seem unsafe.  It broke my heart to see the six-year-old little girl in Aub’s eyes this afternoon–fearful all over again.  And mad.  They weren’t supposed to be able to get to us now.  How had this happened?  And then there was our Princess.  Her first time realizing that there’s some mean folks in this world.  She kept saying why would someone do that?  Why?  And, to keep it real, Cooter would pipe in with, “I’m the only one who didn’t get something stolen.”  Ummm, yeah, thanks buddy, keep that to yourself.  Please.

I kept thinking about Mama and how much I wanted to call and tell her about this.  And it was like she was on the other end of the line in my mind, saying how someone needed some praying for real bad.  Poor things, look at where their life had gotten to, taking things that weren’t theirs.  From a car parked at the entrance to a walking path.  Bless their hearts.  And then she’d probably point out how lucky we were that it wasn’t so much worse, to which I would respond sarcastically most likely because I wouldn’t be ready to hear THAT.  (We have conversations like this from time to time.  Still.) But in the end I’d probably say well, okay Mama you might be right.

And I guess I pegged the conversation pretty good. As much as I wanted to come home and hole up and be sad and depressed and mope for the rest of the weekend, Mess Cat wanted me to call her.  She had a Mama story to share.

One day they were on the way home in the car.  Out on the backroads where we live, you’ll pass folks walking from time to time.  Sometimes they’ll “white-line” it and other times they’ll get over on the grass when a car passes by, but on this particular day there was a fella who didn’t seem to be planning to do either one.  He just stayed in the road.  Mama made a comment like she wondered what was going on or something like that, and Mess Cat, being Mama’s girl and feeling protective, turned around and gave the man a dirty look.  He promptly made not one but two rather crude gestures with his hands.  Mess Cat said she’d never seen the gestures before that day, but judging from the look on his face, she was guessing it wasn’t good.

My sister told me that Mama just kept on driving and said, “Well my goodness, he sure is having a hard day to be acting like that.  I can only imagine what kind of day it has been for him. Poor fella.”

That.  That right there.  That’s my Mama.

When Mess Cat told me what Mama said (and sorry girl, I might not have gotten the story word for word), memories flooded back of Mama saying just such as that in different instances when I’d come in sharing the stories of the ugly comings and goings of folks.  She was just about always ready to give grace first and point fingers later (or usually not at all).

And so tonight as I think back over the day, I know that it was her voice that I was hearing when my heart went out to the person who desperately and quickly grabbed what they did from our car.  And it was her voice I heard when our Princess said, “I guess they must have really needed some money.”

I am thankful for a merciful robbery.  It really could have been so much worse.  I could still be on the phone right now calling and cancelling and so on.  I am so grateful that our Princess had a bounce in her step and a twinkle in her eye tonight before she went to sleep.  She will be okay again.  And I know it sounds superficial, but I’m glad they didn’t take Aub’s new GW Boutique Vera bag.  She was tickled to make such a find, and I’m glad that she didn’t lose it too.  I’m thankful for my sister to share stories with and to remember Mama  with and who will remind me of Mama’s wisdom when I need to hear it most.

It’s not been easy today, but I want to be like my Mama.  She was a GPS for grace–she’d show us the way to find it and give it and how to forgive and show compassion.  Her “coordinates” were spot on–there was no missing the direction she was pointing us in, because she was leading the way.  I want to give grace like that–grace that doesn’t make sense at all, today and everyday.  And I hope to show my children the way as well.  But most of all, no matter what else that person stole from us today, I don’t want to let him or her steal the joy of a fun-filled day with friends that are like family.  The beautiful day, time with folks we love, great conversations, laughter over our missteps, and the fun of being just where we were in the moment and not rushing to the next thing on the calendar.  That’s something that poor soul can’t take from me unless I let him.  If I do, then I’m the poor soul.  And I can’ t have that.  Nobody wants to go where those GPS pity pot coordinates will lead.  There’s for sure no treasure to be found there.

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A Kangaroo in the Family Tree

There’s a frost warning tonight.

Seriously.

I’m thinking we went from summer to winter all of a sudden, didn’t we?

I’ve been watching the weather forecast for the past two weeks waiting for the break in the weather.  And yesterday was the day it hit–

Hoodie weather!

Yesterday morning I looked at my hoodies hanging in my closet and I touched them almost reverently.  “It’s time,” I whispered with a bit of joy and awe.  Yes, I talk to my clothes.  That’s not strange, is it?  I found my favorite–a bulky and comfortable Georgia Tech hoodie given to me by my Gardener Friend.  It is perfect for cold days.  I put it back.  Not yet.  And I was right.  Yesterday morning was good hoodie weather, but by afternoon I had to take the one I had on off for a while.

But today.

This morning it was 43 degrees outside when I woke up.  I went and pulled out my favorite hoodie.  If I can’t stay in my pajamas all day, a hoodie and jeans is the next best thing.  I slipped it over my head and just yes.  Perfect.  And it was cold enough that I needed it all day long.  Just awesomeness.

I don’t know why I love hoodies so much.  I think there might have been a kangaroo somewhere back in a branch on the family tree because the pouch on the front of a hooded sweatshirt is my favorite feature.  I can stuff my keys, my phone, a bandana for noses and other necessities, and I’ve even stuffed my wallet in there a time or two.  Never mind it gives me something to do with my hands.  So yes, I’m the one pushing the grocery cart with my sweatshirt weighted down to my ankles because of all the stuff I’m toting in my front pocket.

But I’m hands free and I’m not losing any of it.

And they are the best when you are cleaning up.  Stray Legos, abandoned Army men, ponytail rings, Polly Pocket shoes, pens, and puzzle pieces fit in there nicely and are easily transported to their correct destination.  LOVE IT.

Perfect.  (I think the hoodie might just be the official superhero outfit of Justin Case.)

I do love fall.  I know I gave summer and Daylight Savings Time a hard time at the beginning.  But I got on track, and I definitely liked having daylight as I’m coming home from gymnastics or whatever activity we have going on.  But fall–everything pumpkin tinged and the colorful leaves and the beautiful sunsets, they all resonate within and feed my soul.   (Although my Bradford pear has yet to turn–“I hope nothing is wrong with it” says Anxiety Girl.  I know, me too.)  Last fall we took pictures in the midst of golden ginkgo leaves that had fallen.  I declare the ground looked like it was glowing with a golden light.   And with fall comes hoodies and scarves, although maybe not at the same time.  That’s a look I haven’t really tried yet.  I just love being warm and cozy and tucked away in my multi-purpose, kangaroo imitatin’ garb.

I am sure at the rate we’ve gone from shorts to hoodies and more, I will be moaning about my cold tootsies before too long.  I had to bring in the plants tonight for goodness’ sake.  They look a little forlorn sitting there just inside the door, but I will be moving them back out soon, as the high will return to 78 by Monday and 80 by the middle of the week.  Welcome to Georgia.

Until then I will celebrate our mini-fall/winter and wear a hoodie again tomorrow as we start off with the coolest morning so far.  I think I’ll fill my kangaroo pocket with all kinds of good things and our day with the things that good memories are made of.  Now if I could just get someone to invent hoodies (with the kangaroo pockets) for warm weather.  That would be awesome!

Tomorrow's hoodie.  This one The Fella brought me when he came back from his last deployment.  They had a layover in Maine, so he picked this up, because he knows I love Mooses and hoodies.

Tomorrow’s hoodie. This one The Fella brought me when he came back from his last deployment. They had a layover in Maine, so he picked this up, because he knows I love Mooses and hoodies.

 

Because I Kept Breathing

Today the writing prompt for our Rising Bloggers group was “Something your body has taught you.”  You can find other posts on this topic here

The night that the Fella came and got me on my evening walk in August of 2009, my whole world changed in that instant.  I went from being a wife, Mama, new homeschool teacher, and mildly concerned daughter of a Daddy who had been having a few problems to a terrified little girl who could not imagine life without her Daddy.

When my husband told me that Mama did not want me to come to the hospital that night, he said instead she wanted me to call my siblings.

I called each one, and tears and plans and hopes and fears were floating in the air above us like particles of dust do in the afternoon sunlight that pours in through the living room windows.

When I called my Brother, he was quiet for a moment on the other end.  He lives several states away and coming home in a hurry was not an option for him.  “Oh Bubba,” I said through my tears.  “If something happens to Daddy, I don’t think I will be able to breathe. I just can’t.”

But there’s this.

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In the weeks before my Daddy died, I stayed up late stripping pork roasts and putting them in the freezer, baking cakes to put back as well, and simply thinking and planning and trying to stay one step ahead of What Might Could Happen.  My body was exhausted but my spirit, my mind, and my heart said it must be done.  And they were right.

And my body is, at times, stronger than my spirit. Stronger than I ever knew.  When my heart broke completely at 4:30 p.m. on 17 November 2011, my body pushed through and did the impossible.  It kept on breathing, sleeping, doing what needed to be done.  Even when all I wanted to do was give up and crawl under a blanket and find myself waking up from a bad, bad dream.  And yet I kept breathing.

It’s amazing to me the balance between body and spirit.  When one is broken or lost, it seems that the other is there to pick up the load.  During Mama’s HospitalStay we all kept so many balls in the air, I know it was nothing but sheer willpower of spirit that kept us going.  Our spirits seemed to cheer our bodies on–“You can get up early in the morning to finish that laundry, to pay those bills, to make that phone call, to read to that child, to put supper in the crockpot…..”  It was three weeks later when Mama’s fight for comfort and healing ended that the roles reversed.  When she took her last breath and the nurse we grew up knowing nodded his head from her doorway, in that instant, my body nudged my spirit and said, “You take a rest. I’ll take it from here for a while.”

And so it was my body that took over as I washed her face one more time.  It had brought her such comfort in life, and now it brought me comfort.  As if by rote, my body got me through the whirlwind of the next few days–planning and running errands and welcoming and greeting and thanking folks and saying goodbye.

20131024-215518.jpgIf one believes that, as the Good Book says, we are created in the Image of the Creator, who is three in one, isn’t it fascinating to see how these two sides of our selves work together?  We are not all body or all spirit, but both as one.  Both need food to survive and time to rejuvenate and heal.  It takes both to live this life that is so full of laughter and joy and tears and sadness.  It takes both to love with our hearts and our hands.  It takes both to defend what we believe in with our minds and our bodies.  And it takes both to say goodbye.  To touch a hand and kiss a forehead one last time, and to let them go with our hearts where they need to go.

When I asked my body what it felt like was the greatest thing it could share with me and the world, it was this:

“I don’t work alone.”

And though I can’t run a marathon or even jog around the neighborhood, I am strong, stronger than I ever knew.  I know.  Because I kept breathing.

Keeping It Real

I write a lot about brokenness in the world.  It’s true.  I see it, experience it, it breaks my heart, so I write about it.

But sometimes the brokenness starts right here at home.

Like today.

The morning started off okay.  When I woke up, Cooter was leaning over me, breathing in my face, whispering, “Breakfast. Breakfast.”  I got up and put on my everyday jeans (which I planned on changing later when we headed out) and a t-shirt.  I threw a jacket over it to take Miss Sophie out for her morning constitutional.  I got Cooter his breakfast and then when our Princess got up, she had hers and we started our school day.

I should have known better when Princess started with Grammar instead of Math.  Always. Start. With. Math. Get that Goliath out of the way first with her.  Just the opposite with Cooter.  Phonics/reading first.  He was excited this morning because he moved to a new book and level, so we got through it fairly easily.

After Cooter finished I made the hot chocolate they wanted.  From Scratch.  I only tell you this so you are prepared to fully appreciate my heartbreak.  I was sitting down to call about some business type stuff for my oldest when I heard an “Oh no!” and a splatter.

And then tears.  (Not mine. Yet.)

I jumped up.  Even though I didn’t want to.  Can I get credit for that?  Because what I did after deserves no credit.

I sent them and the puppy (it was hot CHOCOLATE after all) away to another room.  I mumbled and ranted and fussed to myself as I wiped up the mess and tried to treat the fabric seat that was now soaked (really wanting those all wood chairs NOW).  I bemoaned the fact that my steam mop is NOT working right now.  I sprayed with something to clean and wiped again.  And again.  And again.  I washed down the table and set about making another cup for Cooter, because of course it was his whole mug that was gone.  They had made a mistake, and I want them to know I forgive mistakes.  I don’t know if the lesson was a good one or not, but there it was.  And now we are out of milk.

After making the phone calls necessary to clarify the business “stuff,” I got an e-mail that it had been resolved.  Basically what I had figured had happened and had tried for two days to explain to the powers that be (who had not listened at all and had dismissed what I was saying)–yeah, that’s what the email confirmed.  That I was right.  Only it was phrased as this is what we found…..Ahhh.  Yes.  And in what was definitely not my finest moment, I attempted to forward it to my oldest with a sarcastic comment something like “What I figured.  But NO ONE would listen to me. Such is life.  Get used to it.”  And then proceeded to hit Reply rather than Forward.

Oh y’all.

My own frustrations and attitude came crashing back on me.  Here I was contributing to the brokenness and the hurt in the world.  I immediately wrote again, asking for forgiveness and apologizing for my rudeness and sarcasm.  She gave me grace I didn’t deserve and laughed it off, which went a long way towards me changing my attitude about the whole situation.  But y’all.  What a hard lesson. I should have known better. THINK BEFORE I SPEAK.  OR WRITE.  Or apparently even think.  *sigh*  I was pretty shaken up over seeing my own MESS so close up and personal.  I didn’t like it at all.

Since that fiasco, I attempted to bake a cake for a friend with a birthday, but I only had four eggs and my pound cake calls for six.  I made do, but I was thinking back to Monday Tara, who decided NOT to go to the grocery store and telling her I sure hope she enjoyed her day at home.  I sure hope she did.  And now we are out of eggs.

In the midst of heating up leftover lasagna for her lunch, our Princess spilled half the serving on the floor.  Another mess, more tears.  More frustration.  We are out of lasagna leftovers.

This was our day.  In a single picture.  One broken mess after another.

This was our day. In a single picture. One broken mess after another.

This day has been one of those school days when I should have thrown the math pages and worksheets out the door and just curled up on the back porch with them and read history and science and a great story.  Maybe even re-read “Wiley and the Hairy Man.”  (just that good!) But no, I made a bigger mess by insisting the math get done.  We’re still not done with it.  I really *h-word* the review lessons.  It only serves to remind me retention is maybe not a strong suit.  So there have been tears over the math.  I told Cooter to unload the dishwasher.  He’s a crafty one, and I’m tired.  So he kept putting it off by coming up with other things he thought he should do. He finally did unload all he knew how, and I asked our Princess to take a break from GoliMath, and finish it off.  And she proceeded to drop every melamine cereal bowl we own…..on the floor.  The same floor I have been trying to keep sanitized after a puppy accident or three, and with the steam mop being out of order–well, those babies will get washed again.  Except for the Star Wars one I picked up from the GW Boutique which did not survive the fall.  Yes, Cooter cried.  Real tears.  So did Princess.  After she called out, “Why? Why does this keep happening to me?  Am I cursed?”  (Thank you, Gilligan’s Island, for that one.)

Forget the dishes in this sink.  And just close up that dishwasher.  Miss Sophie was onto something I think.  Bed sounded really good by 2 p.m. today.

Forget the dishes in this sink. And just close up that dishwasher. Miss Sophie was onto something I think. Bed sounded really good by 2 p.m. today.

At one point, Sophie even kindly suggested by blocking the sink that I just give up trying to clean up anything (including the dishes) and go back to bed.

Our own version of Peach Shortcake.  Brought smiles and healing in the midst of our messy day.

Our own version of Peach Shortcake. Brought smiles and healing in the midst of our messy day.

So how do you fix all of these messes and heartbreak and brokenness?  I decided that I don’t want all of that bad stuff to be how the littles remember this day, so I sliced each of them a piece of the pound cake, got some of the Elberta peaches out of the freezer and added whipped cream on top.  Princess said it was the best ever, and Cooter couldn’t talk for shoveling it all in his mouth so fast.  Both were smiling and all of the messes from before forgotten.  Thankful for that.

But me?  I let myself get bogged down in all of it.  I kept on my everyday jeans because no way were we going anywhere after all of this.  I had nothing left in me.  Everything emotional seemed to steam roll after that.  I was sad because my lousy faucet drips unless you turn it just so. And it wobbles.  I am not happy with it.  Or the person who keeps using cups that can’t be loaded in the dishwasher. I was worried about why Princess kept dropping things today–was something wrong? Anxiety Girl showed up in full force.  Stop the madness.  And sadness.  I wanted to call someone and cry on their shoulder.

But no one wants to hear all of this whining.  And there’s that whole no crying over spilt milk thing.  Kudos to you if you’ve stuck it out this long listening to my “woes,” my first world problems.  I didn’t have anyone to call because really, none of this was very serious and the only person who HAD to love me anyway and who ever listened to me whine and then could, in her own way, call me on it or make me laugh about it, is gone.

This is what grief does best.  Waits until your emotional immune system is low.  And strikes with a vengeance.  I miss my Mama. 

It just is what it is.  Why she listened to my whining as much as she did, I have no idea.  She certainly didn’t put up with it when I was younger.

I was so tired and out of ideas that I wanted to text the Fella and say “We are SO going out to eat tonight, k?” But all I could think about is how it is getting dark earlier, and I don’t want to be out after dark.  I’m weird like that.  Dark=being home.  And I thought about ordering pizza from our favorite small town pizza place, but then I started stressing about how much cheese I feed my family, and how we should probably not have that tonight.  *sigh* Am I the only one who stresses over my family’s nutritional needs like this?

So what was the purpose of sharing this messiness of our day with y’all?  I have a couple of blogs I love to read and also follow them on Facebook. This one young woman is adorable in her tea parties and homemade things she plans and does with her children.  Sure, she shares her messes, but even those are cute.  And delightfully told.  I’m thinking there’s no way she’s ever accidentally sent a nasty-gram to someone via e-mail.  It’s a little intimidating and if I didn’t love her so much, I really wouldn’t like her at all.  Just because of that.  So yeah, I’m keeping it real.  My days are not all contemplating the meaning of life from a frog riding on the car’s perspective.  There’s not a magical school of fish that shows up with a song and dance number all prepared to lift my spirits when stuff goes down around here.  Mr. Clean and Justin Case aren’t always available when homemade hot chocolate (sigh) hits the floor or I run out of groceries.  This is what my house looks like.  And there’s a reason I’m using words and not pictures.  (Does anyone else get dressed from the couch in the living room?  Not that we do. Ahem. Just thought I’d ask.)

So it’s time to get off my pity pot.  Sister called and laughed with me over the e-mail and shared her own horror story of a similar vein.  Fella came home and took over correcting Cooter when he crossed the road against our wishes.  Sophie is looking at me with those eyes like she KNOWS and she gets it.  Princess has bounced back to her sunshiney self, and Cooter hugged me twice.  Without me asking.  Aub problem-solved for herself about something that needed doing.  Not too shabby.

So the piles on the desk didn’t get attacked today.  The dishwasher was full and dirty while supper was still in the oven.  (Yes, we actually had a meal despite the lack of staple groceries.) I got the laundry somewhat caught up but nothing folded.  I didn’t get to the grocery store yet again.

So it goes.  My Mama would say, “Well at least nobody’s shooting bullets at us.”  Or “If this is the worst that ever happens to us, we’ll be okay.”  And I reckon she was right.

Still, if tomorrow rolls around and Future Tara decides to finally go to the grocery store, I won’t complain.  And if Mess Cat calls about us getting together and having supper tomorrow night, I’m all for it.  (hint hint) I will welcome a life lesson from a goose or a bird or even a spider, at this point.  Just please, please, no one spill anything.

Because, yeah, that’s one more thing.  We’re almost out of paper towels.

Time to go to bed and try again tomorrow.  As Mama would say, “After all, tomorrow is another day.”

Habitats and Hope, Happy Birthdays and Hanging On

This past Friday the littles and I went to Go Fish Education Center down in Perry.  This is a beautiful facility that is run by DNR.  The exhibits are interactive, and they have different areas set up like the waters of the different parts of Georgia, from the mountain streams up north to the swamps down south.  You can even borrow a fishing pole and sit out by the pond and try your luck at fishing.  It’s mostly a catch and release program, but in certain months (like October) you can take home what you catch.

They have started holding classes for homeschool students once a month.  We decided to try it last month and we were hooked (ha, no pun intended–seriously, just caught it in editing).  So this past Friday was our second class with Miss Clare, the Center Educator.  She taught about Habitats.  To begin with each child took a card with an animal on it.  Miss Clare asked each one to stick them on the map of Georgia in the habitat they thought best suited their animal.

Cooter drew a shark in the Habitat game.  He grinned really big and gave me a thumbs up.  He knew where to put this one.

Cooter drew a shark in the Habitat game. He grinned really big and gave me a thumbs up. He knew where to put this one.

The thing that we learned was some animals are adaptable and can live in different type habitats–like foxes, raccoons, and even some snakes.

Our state with the animals in their habitats.

Our state with the animals in their habitats.

After that the children played a game which demonstrated how limited resources (food, water, shelter) can affect the population and length of life of the animals.  In the game, after the first couple of “years” the population dwindled–too many deer and not enough of what they needed to live.  The children were running back and forth finding what they needed (or not as the case may be), laughing and enjoying the cool morning.  In the midst of the fun, the sobering reality hit me head on.

They played another game of hide and seek, with each person attempting to be a rabbit camouflaged so the fox couldn’t find him or her.  They really enjoyed that one.  Then we moved inside the facility to discuss the fish and other aquatic life in their habitats.

This is a school of goldfish.  They are in the gator habitat.  Only the gators won't eat them, so trout were put in to get the goldfish population under control.  Only they travel in "schools" so they look like one big fish, thus confusing the trout and saving their lives.  What do the gators eat?  Mice.  Apparently they get their calcium (bones), fiber (hair), and protein and vitamins (meat) all in one delicacy.  Oh if only it were that easy around here!

This is a school of goldfish. They are in the gator habitat. Only the gators won’t eat them, so trout were put in to get the goldfish population under control. Only they travel in “schools” so they look like one big fish, thus confusing the trout and saving their lives. What do the gators eat? Mice. Apparently they get their calcium (bones), fiber (hair), and protein and vitamins (meat) all in one delicacy. Oh if only it were that easy around here!

I learned the most in the gator exhibit.  That whole traveling as a school saving the lives of the goldfish.  Isn’t that amazing?  They feed the gators mice, which is an all dietary needs met kind of meal for that crew.  I wish I could find something comparable to serve here.

It was a wonderful morning of learning, laughter, and play.  As we left I saw these beautiful flowers.  It struck me how with all around them drying up and withering away, they were full of life and beauty–sort of blooming where they were planted kind of thing going on there.

These flowers seemed to crop up out of nothing.  Beautiful, aren't they?

These flowers seemed to crop up out of nothing. Beautiful, aren’t they?

Today Aub was following behind me across town on our way to our Sister Circle.  While we were parking my phone rang and it was Aub.  I looked in my rearview mirror.  Yep, she was back there.  Car looked okay.

“What?” I answered.  Yeah, I’m that kind of loving Mama.

“I think….I mean, I’m pretty sure…..is that a frog on my door?”

I was grabbing my supply bag and getting ready to close my car door. “I don’t know, get out and see.”

“I can’t.  Unh uh.”

I looked back.  She was still sitting in her car.  Cooter ran over and started jumping up and down, pretty much a confirmation that an amphibian had taken up residence.  I walked over.  Yep, a frog.

Note the college girl in the driver's seat holding her phone for dear life.  I have no idea how long he'd been riding like that, but you are correct, he does look a bit pale.  Probably terrified out of his mind.  What must he have thought when he found himself hanging on for dear life ONA CAR zippadeedoodahing down the road?

Note the college girl in the driver’s seat holding her phone for dear life. I have no idea how long he’d been riding like that, but you are correct, he does look a bit pale. Probably terrified out of his mind. What must he have thought when he found himself hanging on for dear life ON A CAR zippadeedoodahing down the road?

We regrouped and left him to his own devices to recover and went in for our Sister Circle.  My sweet sisters were already there and waiting.  We had great conversation and a lot of fun creating with a different way of painting, but that’s a story for another night.  One of our sisters, T, decided to use her favorite thing, the markers, to make her picture.  She drew this:

Home sweet home.  If only.

Home sweet home. If only.

When I walked over and admired her picture, I realized that this was a theme for her.  She draws houses and homes with birds or rainbows or sunshine.  My heart broke in that moment.  My dear sister friend is like the deer running out of resources.  I am not sure of her living situation, but I know it is not ideal.  She has been mistreated and abused by people she called friends and whom she trusted.  She has had moments, too many of them, feeling like those rabbits hiding from the fox.  She might have shelter but she doesn’t have sanctuary.  She might have food but her soul is starving.  She is trying to bloom in the midst of all around her.  I know she is, she has dreams and she’s shared some of them.  But like that frog today, I am afraid she is looking around, thinking where am I?  How did I get HERE?  And how on earth do I get off of this ride?  Please?!

There are many T’s in this world, in our own little community.  Living in habitats that are not fit for any living thing or person.  I have watched a dear friend stumble out from behind a dumpster sitting next to local restaurant.  Where he had been “LIVING.”  If he had been a dog, I know full well someone would have picked him up and cared for him before then.  How did we, our world, our people, our sisters and brothers, get to this point?  Adaptability in habitats is one thing, but no one should live like that.  Or like T is either.

Today is T’s birthday.  I didn’t know, but two of our sister friends did and they brought her some gifts they’d gotten especially for her.  I saw her hang her head and be overcome with shyness.  But I also saw something else.  Something that shone light through my broken heart and filled me with hope.  I saw this school of fish that protects each other from harm gather T in and hold her close.  I saw them care and I saw them love.  It wasn’t about the gifts, though that was so precious of them.  It was about them noticing her and taking her into their fold.  That right there people.  I am humbled.  And inspired.

Today is T’s birthday and my friend Baddest Mother Ever‘s birthday too.  When I was in the midst of my most vulnerable times, she gathered me into her “school” and made me feel safe and cared for.  Both of these women are important to me.  Both of them, so different, yet so much alike–they both inspire me with their stories and with their resiliency and with their unending capacity to love.

Today T gave me her picture.  On her birthday, she gave ME her picture of her “home.”

I was honored and touched by her heart.  I will keep it to remind me of our dreams and that until we all have a safe place to lay our heads, none of us can truly sleep well.

Before she left, I gave T this.  I had nothing else to give her but my love, which she already has.

20131022-222721.jpgIt’s nothing much.  I gave it to her with a hug and a whisper about dreaming and birthday wishes and walking with her to see them come true.  This is my birthday wish for T and for Baddest Mother Ever too.  I love you both, and this is what I want for you.  For your heart’s desire, for your very special wish from your heart, for that to be granted.  For there always to be a school of folks ready to gather you in and stay right by your side. For you to continue to be strong and share your stories with the world so they will know about beauty in brokenness and hope in the dark.  And for you to find strength in your weakness and find a way to hang on during those bumpy rides.  Most of all, I want you both to know how much you are loved.  And treasured.  Because you are.  ❤