Ecclesiastes and the Season I’m In Right Now

Ecclesiastes.

That’s what Mama would say about now.

And I’d nod my head and say, “Yes ma’am.  I know.  You’re right.”

It was her way of saying, “There’s a time and a place for everything.”

Referring to the verses from Ecclesiastes 3.  Mama loved that passage.  She even wrote it down on one of her recycled Mary Engelbreit calendar pages as a reminder to remember where I am–what season, what place.

Mama wrote this on the back of her Mary Engelbreit Page a Day calendar pages she used for note paper.  She handed it to me to remind me to read it.  I carry it with me in my wallet always.  I am finally starting to get what she was trying to tell me.  Thank you, Mama. <3

Mama wrote this on the back of her Mary Engelbreit Page a Day calendar pages she used for note paper. She handed it to me to remind me to read it. I carry it with me in my wallet always. I am finally starting to get what she was trying to tell me. Thank you, Mama. ❤

The season I have been in this week has been a busy one.  Saying goodbye to another family of neighborfriends.  This is the life in a military community.  Folks move into your neighborhoods, into your hearts, and then they must move on.

It’s been a week of endings.  The end of our year of dance and gymnastics for our Princess and Cooter.  And for me, who has usually been the one making the trek twice a week in my “taxi-mobile” to and from.  And for our family who has suffered through eating takeout on Tuesday nights (ha, who am I kidding–I can name at least four of the five who look forward to that night).  Yes, it’s been a good year.

Rocking the Ninja moves to the theme from Mission Impossible.

Rocking the Ninja moves to the theme from Mission Impossible.

Thursday evening, we attended their gymnastics program.  It was fabulous.  From listening to children singing along with the song that Princess’ class did their routine to–“The Best Day of My Life”–to watching Cooter and his male counterparts do a ninja-like routine to the theme from Mission Impossible–it was AWESOME.  Top it off with folks who know my children and love them anyway showing up to sit on the bleachers and clap and give hugs and high fives after. We giggled watching Princess walk across the gym on her tiptoes (it’s what she does) and nodded together that the song she performed to suits her well.  We watched in awe as Cooter did cartwheel after cartwheel. Well.  Just full to bustin’, y’all.  I can’t even put all that good stuff into words.  Except to say.  It was good.

The costume for my girl's dance recital.  Snazzy, right?  Even more so with the bowtie!

The costume for my girl’s dance recital. Snazzy, right? Even more so with the bowtie!

Last night was dress rehearsal for the dance recital.  As we got our Princess together–hair, makeup (oh my stars–only light stuff for our girl, I just can’t), and costume, we realized she did not have a bowtie.  Her costume was adorable.  All tux with bowtie look on top with red sparkly fabric–sharp and cute all at the same time.  But no bowtie?  Sigh.  Yeah.  Sounds about right.  I was convinced it had fallen into the abyss that is our laundry room–where I’d had it hanging waiting for the big day.  I spent a lot of time searching and digging to no avail.  Finally it was time to leave.  Well, it’s dress rehearsal for a reason.  I’d figure out something by recital time.

Which brings me to the season for today.  Today was the season for travelling across town to the craft store to search for black velvet ribbon so I could figure out how to make a bowtie. (I’m sure there’s an instructional video somewhere, right?) When that was a fail, I went to the party store, where “if we had them, they’d be right here.” *points* Well thanks.  I’ve enjoyed staring at this spot in your store where you have no bowties.  But it’s good to know where they would be, for, you know, the next time we misplace a bowtie.  Yes.

Thankful for my Fella's resourcefulness.  This bowtie looks great I think.

Thankful for my Fella’s resourcefulness. This bowtie looks great I think.

After a major shopping trip to the grocery store (on a Saturday morning, good gravy, why do I do this to myself?), I headed home to do what came next.  Figure out how to “make do.”  My Fella came to the rescue, with a black clip-on bowtie from his mess dress uniform.  Excellent.  It was black and from a distance, it looked no different from the others.  Three safety pins and voila!  Win.  Yes.  Hair.  Makeup.  Check.  And we were off.

I've been up and down the staircase in Porter Auditorium at my alma mater several times the past two days.  For those of you who KNOW, I was glad that this one I was only in once.

I’ve been up and down the staircase in Porter Auditorium at my alma mater several times the past two days. For those of you who KNOW, I was glad that this one I was only in once.

Today was also a season for revisiting my past.   Back home to Wesleyan.  The recital was on the stage that I walked across so many times, and now my oldest has too.   Such a precious thing to me.  I helped downstairs and backstage, something I have enjoyed doing each year.  I love the excitement in the air, the girls’ stomachs full of butterflies and hair full of hairspray.  They giggle and help each other straighten out skirts.  They share things forgotten and whisper encouraging words.  They talk a bit too loud in the stairwell and tap their shoes when they are supposed to be quiet, but I wouldn’t trade a moment of it.  Because I got at least four extra hugs from my Princess today–one from excitement, one just because, one when she heard who was in the audience, and one–“Thank you for being my Mama.”  Ahem.  Nothing to see here folks–keep on moving.  Just a Mama bawling her eyes out.  No big.

Tonight I am thankful for Team Zoo Crew–who pulled it together and got our littles where they were supposed to be this week, dressed and ready. Well mostly.  I am thankful for loving family who step outside their comfort zones and show up, which is one of the most precious things we can ever do for someone.  Ever.  I give thanks for dance teachers who brush off lost costume pieces, and say, “Don’t stress, if need be, get some black ribbon and tie in a bow and pin it on.  No one’s going to notice.”  Love that grace-filled woman.  I am thankful that she loves the hugs from my girl just about as much as I do.  And accepts them every time they are offered, which is often. I love that I have a ninja boy who rocked his performance and, with his one-toothed grin, told me he wants to do gymnastics again next year.  Thankful for his teacher who puts up with all those boys every week and says she enjoys it.  I’ll take it.

Our sweet dance school director encourages her students to let their true colors shine through always.  What a powerful song.

Our sweet dance school director encourages her students to let their true colors shine through always. What a powerful song.

It’s the big moments like these that I miss my Mama and Daddy even more than usual.  I remember with a warm heart the dance recital two years ago.  It was the first time I’d seen my Mama light up since my Daddy had died six months before.  She was beaming and couldn’t stop talking about all of the performances, but especially those of her grands.  And during both the gymnastics program and recital today, our dance studio director incorporated Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.” It was played for the last dance today.  I’ve never heard this song before the way I did today.  Daddy really liked it.  I know because he asked me if Cyndi Lauper had gotten an award for it.  He only did that with songs he thought were really good.  So of course I thought of him.  But as I watched the final performance today from backstage, and I noticed the director/teacher guiding her students from off-stage, I saw she was mouthing the words.  Her face was lit up with something that had nothing to do with the stage lights.  I thought of Daddy and realized whatever she was hearing was what he heard too.  And then I heard the words differently myself.

So today was also a season of change.  Which I don’t do well.  But I’m trying.  Goodbyes, scheduled big events, heading up and down the massive staircases in Porter Auditorium several times with excited seven- to nine-year olds two days in a row, and missing my parents more than usual–it’s been a whirlwind.  But mostly a good one.  Yes, this season is a busy one.  But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in this world.

Love and a wishes for a good season to all.

 

Making Facebook Work for Me (but not that video)

When I talked with my Daddy three years ago about Facebook and the idea of me signing up, he shared his words of wisdom:  “As long as you make it work for you, and you don’t work for it, I think it could be all right.”

I’ve tried.  There have been times, I will admit, when I have let it lead me astray from what I should be doing.  But most of the time, I handle it pretty well.  And I am thankful for it.

We have friends all over the world we are able to keep up with, watch their children grow, and celebrate milestones with because of Facebook.

I saw a picture of my writer friend with the “hot off the presses” first copies of her latest book, all the way across the country from me. That was awesome.

I keep up with my nephews who are growing up way too fast further up the East Coast.  The oldest wants this for this birthday.  An “heirloom quality” stuffed dragon for $13000.00.   Only it’s not Amazon Prime eligible, so that’s a no.  Among other reasons.  Ahem.  My point is that I found out he wanted this because of Facebook.  And my brother and I had lots of laughs over this one.  (The reviews alone are worth clicking over and checking it out.) I’m thankful for staying connected.

I also am inspired by thoughts shared by Bob Goff, Frederick Buechner, Matthew Paul Turner, Hugh Hollowell, David LaMotte, and Thom Shuman, among many others.  If you love beautiful poetry, you should follow Mr. Shuman–what a gift he has.  I love the art and thoughts shared by Brian Andreas of StoryPeople.  He never fails to make me laugh or cry each day–and sometimes it’s both.

There are funny memes and great pictures to share with others on Facebook.  I can share my stories and special moments there.  Friends share their favorite blog posts and very often, their own, which I look forward to catching up on in the next week or so.  *sigh*  So much to read, so little time.

If it weren’t for Facebook, I might never have heard of ABAN or Love Wins or Love 146 or Trade as One.  I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the great things they are doing.  Places like Bare Bulb Coffee and The Book Exchange in Marietta let folks know about the special events they have going on through Facebook.  Love it.  And I love the sharing of ideas among the different communities–ones for homeschool parents and another for spouses of military members and yet another for posting things to sell.  You name it, and more than likely there’s a group page on Facebook for it.

A wealth of information, right?

I mean, without Facebook, I wouldn’t have seen one of the most precious things ever–little Ella Mae singing one of my favorite songs ever–the American Trilogy by Elvis.  Y’all it’s worth the five minutes to watch.  She and I have so much in common.  We both love Elvis, belt out that song when we hear it, and adore our Daddies.  (She’s a far better singer though.)

Oh my land.  How adorable is that?

It’s almost enough to make me overlook the game requests I get.  (I just don’t have time y’all, and besides, I have an addictive personality–I just cannot get started playing one of those games.  I really wouldn’t get anything at all done then.  So no offense, but yeah.  No thank you.)    And the folks who vaguebook.  You know, mention something but not with specifics, leaving the rest of us to wonder, “Huh?”  I won’t say I’ve never done it, but I will apologize for the times I have.  I know.  I’m sorry.

However, there is one thing that I just cannot take anymore from Facebook.  The video that has been shared over and over and over.  I never watched it before because, well, in the words of Bubba, my wise brother, “It’s never that serious.”

But tonight I did.  I decided if I’m going to write about it, I’d best do my research.  And well, yeah.  There’s four minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

*sigh*

Fitted sheets were NOT made to be folded, my friends.  Don’t stress yourself out over it.  Just wad it up and tuck it in the back of your linen closet or a drawer, or take it and the top sheet and stuff them in the matching pillowcase until you need them. I think I saw that one on Pinterest.

Ahhhh, Pinterest.  ❤

But that’s a story for another night.

Wishing you things that work for you rather than the other way around, including those blasted fitted sheets.  (And if you’re one that can fold them neatly–hey, I’m impressed.)

Love to all.

 

Don’t Count Us Out

Yesterday as the news feeds and Facebook posts proclaimed their great sadness over the death of Maya Angelou, I too was sad.  I am sad when anyone in this world loses someone they love–a feeling I understand all too well–but I’ll admit that I was also saddened by something else.  I just couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was.

And then this morning David LaMotte, a man whom I had the privilege of meeting a few months ago, shared his thoughts and feelings in a post on his Facebook page. This singer/songwriter/author/man of peace touched on exactly what was breaking my heart.

“Shocked into stillness this morning, having just realized that in all of the craziness of the European tour, I did not realize that Vincent Harding died last week. One more giant has left us.  I didn’t know Vincent Harding well at all, but I got to meet him and talk a bit a couple of times at the Wild Goose Festival. This picture is from last year’s WGF. This legendary civil rights hero, theologian, historian and author, who wrote speeches for Martin Luther King, was completely available and interested in Mason [David’s son], asking him questions and engaging. That seems to have been pretty typical of him.

In the last year we’ve lost Nelson Mandela, Pete Seeger, Maya Angelou, Vincent Harding… and I’m sure many others. But please, please, my friends, don’t say “We’ll never see their like again.”

Each of these people, and many more unnamed, were people who made daily choices, who worked out their courage muscles one day at a time. They were not a different kind of person. They just made decisions. If we merely applaud, and wonder at how strong they were, then we are completely missing one of the central points that they were trying to make—that it is up to all of us to bring whatever gifts we have to the work of creating and supporting what is good for all of us, and standing in the way of what is oppressive and destructive. All of us. It is up to us whether we see their like again. It is up to us to choose whether we will be spectators or participants.

The famous Catholic activist Dorothy Day said “Don’t call us saints. We don’t want to be dismissed that easily.” Let’s honor these heroes by taking some small steps in the direction they pointed us. Though we remember them for their leaps, they all took small steps to begin with, and those steps mattered, and continued to take small steps throughout their lives. They had good days and bad days like all of us, but they kept choosing to live in the kind of hope that doesn’t simply comfort us with pleasant visions, but drives us to take action to actively move toward them.

Thank you, Vincent Harding, for being kind to me and my son, and for inspiring more than one generation. We’ll try to pay attention.” –David LaMotte 5/29/2014

Amen.  Please don’t count us out.  We too have the chance to do great things.  I wrote in a card to one of my favorite graduates in the class of 2014–it is in the making of kind and compassionate choices, one after another, each one, that great things begin.  I think that’s how each one of the people mentioned by David LaMotte made a difference in this world.  Kindness.  Not letting a bump in the road stop them. Continuing onward.
Don’t count us out.  And please don’t count out my children.  The ones I’m doing my best to raise to love folks and make a difference in this world–by being good stewards of all around them, just as my folks taught me.  Are we all going to fail at some point?  Yes.  But it’s in the getting up, wiping off our hands and bruised hearts that we shed light and goodness in the world.  It’s in the “keep on keeping on,” as my Daddy would say, despite the bumps and bruises and heartaches, that we change the world for the better.  And ourselves.
David LaMotte has already said it all, far better than I could have.  And I am thankful for that.  I think the greatest tribute to the lives of these good people so loved, whom have left this life, is for us all to live as they did, and “actively move forward” toward the “pleasant visions” of peace and love and caring for each other.
In other words, for us to do as they did.  And DO.
And finally a few more wise words from another good person, Hugh Hollowell, who commented on David LaMotte’s post: “We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the answer to our prayers.”
Oh my.  Yes.
Love to all.
**I looked to see if there is someone to attribute Hugh Hollowell’s words to–the closest I can find is from a poem by June Jordan here and a book by Alice Walker here. **

On Speed Dial

When my Great Aunt was living and I’d go visit, whether it was to set up her meds in the pill cases while Mama was taking care of Daddy or just to visit for the fun of it, I loved showing her “what my phone can do.”

Her husband, my Great Uncle, was a man who loved technology. He was a ham radio operator complete with license plates with their call sign on them.  He had a computer, the first I’d ever seen.  He loved clocks.  At one point, before my Great Aunt painted a light shade over the darker wood paneling, they had a wall covered with clocks.  I seem to remember he liked working on them.

So yes, he loved things that did things.

He would love the new smartphones, don’t you think?

At the time over four years ago, when I was visiting regularly, I didn’t have a smart phone.  But I had a lovely purple flip phone that could take pictures and had a tiny little keyboard so I could text with relative ease.  I remember showing it to her, sitting on the arm of her recliner.  (She had one, and Mama had one.  I think my Great Aunt took over the one my Uncle used to sit in.)  She looked at the screen, then threw her hands up in the air, and said, “Boy, wouldn’t Ray have loved that?!”

He would have.  I know.

I wonder what he would have thought about this though.  When we sold the house two weeks ago, this place so full of memories for me, this was still the main phone, hanging on my Aunt’s wall.

The main phone in my Great Aunt's house.  I've had nightmares about misdialing and having to start over.  Again.  And again.  Funny, wonder who has her number now?  Wonder if the folks who bought the house will switch out the phone?

The main phone in my Great Aunt’s house. I’ve had nightmares about misdialing and having to start over. Again. And again. Funny, wonder who has her number now? Wonder if the folks who bought the house will switch out the phone?

I wonder if he would have already replaced it. Or just let it go because it didn’t bother my Aunt.

Over on the counter was another phone.  It looked like a pushbutton from the outside, but when I lifted the phone from the cradle–ah yes, consistency always was a strong suit in our family.

The updated model from the wall rotary dial.

The updated model from the wall rotary dial.

When I looked down at the base though, that’s what took my breath away for a moment.

Speed dial.  And who was on it.

20140528-223658.jpg

Her best friend, my Mama, and her doctor. That’s it.

She had as her three and only folks on speed dial–her best friend, my Mama, and her doctor.

Tears.

Why would she need anyone else, right?

I don’t have speed dial.  I guess I don’t really have to with the smart phone–I can look up a contact and hit the button to call.  On the home phone, that would take more time than a little bit to program, and I have my IT person–ahem, my Aub– working on other more important things, so it’s just not going to happen on the home phone either.

But I do wonder to myself, as I look at what those three names represented, whom would I program in?  My Great Aunt’s faith in those three people–she needed no others.  Ten blank spots, and she didn’t need a one of them.

Me?  I’d probably still be trying to whittle it down.  I would stress over hurting folks’ feelings too. Rather than picking out the ones whom I trust most in the world and moving on with my life.

Sigh.

No answers tonight, just contemplating.  I’ve lost folks who would have made the cut.  I still have others who most definitely are on the list.  But how many?  Who?  Whom do I have faith in to answer and be there every. single. time. as my Great Aunt did with Miss Evelyn, Mama, and Dr. Tison?

Love and wishes for wonderful people to put on your speed dial.

If they even make phones with that anymore.

Oh good grief.

 

 

His Love of the…..Architecture

It went too quickly for me to get a picture before they all dug in.

It went too quickly for me to get a picture before they all dug in.

This is the peach cobbler I made today.

Just because.

I know I probably shouldn’t have.  My Mama would have gotten up extra early to bake it or not made one at all.  And to be honest, I did feel guilty using the oven in the middle of the day.  It doesn’t heat the house like the oven we had growing up, but it does warm the kitchen up a bit.

I have peaches in the freezer.  More than I should have this time of year.  It’s peach season again, and even though I don’t eat a peach fresh from the orchard before July 1 (my Daddy taught me that), I have way more bags of peaches in the freezer than I should, with just a little over a month left before I start peeling and slicing and freezing again.

So a cobbler it was.  Surprised the whole family.  The Fella who was off today, Aub who didn’t have to work until later, and the littles who spent much of their day playing outside with friends.  Miss Sophie may be the only one who noticed the smell of it baking, and well, poor thing, she was not getting any of it.

Cooter was the last one to have a helping of it.  He was out when the others had theirs this afternoon.  When he came in, I asked him if he wanted some, and he just about fell, tripping over himself to get into the kitchen.  He is my Georgia boy.  Once a few years ago, I served him the peaches from a can.  He took a bite, made a face, and asked me just what on earth THAT was.  I’ve never served them since.  He’s right.  There’s just no comparing those with the fresh.

Cooter started drooling immediately.  His line of sight was where he could just barely see the cobbler in the dish, cooling on the stovetop.  “Oh Mama, is this as good as the cobbler at Side Tracks?”

Ah.  The buffet I took him to after signing the papers to let go of my Great Aunt’s house.  The one where, when my little guy saw all the desserts at the end of the line of “real food” which had disappointed him so, he turned to me with the biggest eyes ever and said, “What’s thaaaat?”

Look at that grin.  Is it any wonder I have a hard time saying NO? A boy and his peach cobbler.....

Look at that grin. Is it any wonder I have a hard time saying NO? A boy and his peach cobbler…..

I let him pick out his own chocolate cake and later got him a small taste of the banana pudding (made from scratch with meringue–oh my stars) and the peach cobbler.  His praise for their peach cobbler was, “Mama, this is almost as good as yours.”

Bless him.

As he oohed and ahhed over his peach cobbler today, he talked about how much he wants to go back to Side Tracks for *ahem* lunch.  (Yeah, that’s what you want to eat there, buddy.)

Then out of the blue, as he all but licked his bowl clean, he said, “The food there is so awesome.  Well, that and the architecture. I’d like to see that again too.”

Wait.  What?!

He’s something, that one.  He makes me laugh everyday, and I am often amazed at the words and thoughts that come from his seven-year old mind.  But architecture?  Okay, yeah.  I see what you’re doing, bud.  Trying to go for the education angle as well.

My child knows how to get to me.

And he knows what he wants in life–he doesn’t mind telling you either.  When we were walking into the attorney’s office two weeks ago, I took his hand, told him I might cry a bit, and asked if he would be okay holding my hand.  He looked up at me and said, “Mama, I’m just here to go out for lunch.  That’s it.”  I should have known why he’d chosen to come with me instead of staying home with his sisters when, as we drove through Hawkinsville on our way there, he started scoping out lunch places.  “I don’t see a Krystal’s though.”  Y’all know that’s his yardstick by which all others are measured, right?

Tonight I’m thankful for the joy of surprising my family and for the abundance of peaches in my freezer.  I give thanks for many happy memories of sitting around the table with my Mama, Daddy, and siblings putting peaches up every summer.  It’s what our people do.  And I’m thankful for a funny little fella who loves his Mama’s cooking and loves the desserts at a buffet even more.  And will try every way he can think of to convince his Mama to go back.

Love and wishes for an unexpected sweet surprise to all.

Why I Don’t Say I’ll Never Forget and a couple of moments I hope I don’t

I used to say “I’ll always remember…..” or “I’ll never forget…..”

I don’t anymore.

Not since I watched as Alzheimer’s Disease tore away page after page of memories for someone I loved, slowly at first it seemed and then more quickly.  She covered well; I’m not sure how many could pinpoint what was going on exactly.  She was great at asking questions that you could ask over and over and it not seem very odd.  “Seen any good movies lately?”  “How’s the weather been back home?”  and so on.

And so I tuck away precious moments into my memory bank, and sometimes I wrote about them here, in the hopes that they will always be there for me.

But I know they may not.

Today was just such a day, one that I’d like to always remember.  I have snapshots in my mind of sweet moments that I want to keep.

  • Our Princess and her friends have been having a great time with the sand and water table on the back deck.  I originally got it thinking that Cooter and his friends would enjoy it more.  But his two buddies moved, and the girls have taken it over.  They flood the water side, and they pour just enough into the sand to make it the consistency of a nice “scrub.”  They are playing spa, y’all.  There are two chairs on one side–one for the person being served and the second for the next in line.  The other side has one chair that is rarely sat in, as the person giving the spa treatment is very busy.  They spread mud–ahem, excuse me, scrub–all over their feet and then rinse them a few minutes later.  They don’t know that I’m aware, I was peeking out of my bedroom window at this hustle and bustle of activity.  It was so wonderful to see their imaginations blossoming in a way that I never would have thought of.  It amazes me, especially since over the past few weeks it’s been a Ninja School back there, and our Princess was the instructor.  I just love it.  Who needs a pool when you have a SPA in your backyard?  Never mind, please don’t ask my children that.  I know what they will answer.  (We do.)
  • Cooter rode off on his bicycle with his Daddy and Miss Sophie for her evening constitutional.  I stopped and watched as he rode up the street.  And it occurred to me–I never tire of watching him ride his bike.  He is so graceful and smooth as his little legs pump the pedals and his hair flies out behind him.  And he always smiles the biggest smiles.  He LOVES his bicycle. (Has it really already been seven months since he gave up the training wheels?)  I nodded as I thought to myself, I could sit and watch him and his joy and movement for hours on end and never lose interest.  And then I was thankful that I feel that way.  In the busy-ness of life, it is so easy to get distracted.  But not when my baby boy’s making the wheels go round and round.  That’s good stuff right there.
  • I have been doing some cleaning and organizing and culling around here.  (That’s right, I said culling.  I will pause for a moment so those of you who know me and my tendencies NOT to cull can catch your breath.)

 

 

  • As I mentioned, cleaning up.  Straightening up.  And so on.  I found a basket with a couple of devices and several cords all tangled up.  *sigh*  That’s about par for the course around here.  As I started to untangle by grabbing the larger “outlet plug” end first, I soon became frustrated with how hard it was to push that big end through the knots of cords to disentangle.  And then it occurred to me to try the other end first.  To take the tiny little end, the one that plugs into a device, and work it through the knots.  So much easier.  So much quicker.  And the gravity pull on the heavier end helped me figure out how to work through the knots.  Win!  As I disentangled cords in record time, it hit me that this is probably a lesson for life.  To work through situations that are such a mess, maybe it would be easier and make more sense if I start with the small bits first.  Don’t dive in and tackle the biggest part of the problem first.  Take it slow and easy and work through it.  And the answer will present itself a little quicker.  I don’t know, maybe a stretch, but it was worth pondering over anyway.

 

Tonight I’m thankful for a napless day–and it’s not often you’ll hear me say those words.  I had the energy and the drive and the patience to make some things happen around here, interspersed with moments I hope to treasure for a long, long time.  Thankful for all of that.  It was a day of one thing leading me to another room where I saw something else that needed doing, started on it until it led me to something else.  And yet, somehow, a few things got done.  And I’m very thankful for that.

May your day be filled with moments to treasure and easily untangled “cords.”  Love to all.

on going back

going back

to the person whose heart you hurt

oh so long ago

and saying “I’m sorry,

it was my brokenness,

not yours”

courage

going back

to the person whom you

might have offended

and saying, “I’m sorry,

for the words that came

without thought”

humility

going back

to the person you’ve

been so angry with,

listening

and then saying, “It’s okay,

it’s over, my heart just let it go”

grace

peace

hope

it is in the going back

that we can move forward

and beyond

lighter

and with a full

and thankful

heart

love

 

 

Best Advice for Graduates…..and everyone else

I’ve listened to a lot of graduation addresses.  I’ve even given one once many moons ago.  Last year I contemplated how different that would have been if I were to write it now.

But now, now I have heard very possibly the best advice ever given in one of these speeches.  For graduates.  For all of us.

And it was offered by the salutatorian, Divine Francis, of Veterans High School, one of the local schools here in our county.

First Divine said that he didn’t know the secret of success.  He said if he did, he’d have already written the book and made a million dollars and retired to the Bahamas…..basically, not be HERE.  Then he described a movie.

“What if I told you there was a new movie coming out, two hours long, of watching paint dry?  And that if you paid the admission price, you could sit there and watch paint dry for two hours, up there on the big screen?”  He paused.  “You’d probably shake your head at me and ask, ‘Divine, why would I want to do that? Why would I want to waste two hours of my life doing that?  That’s dumb!'”

“But what if it’s the night before finals and you decide to go to a party instead of studying.  That’s just as dumb. I say, ‘Why would you want to do that?'”

“And I think that’s the best thing we can do as we go forth.  Don’t do dumb things.  That’s it.  Don’t do dumb things.”

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Y’all I’ve never been crazy about that word.  But I have to tell you this.  I clapped.  As did so many who heard the words of this still seventeen year old–“I have a late birthday.”  That pretty much wraps it up, doesn’t it?

In whatever you’re about to do, don’t waste your time on poor choices–instead make the effort to do the smart thing, the right thing.

Truth.  From a graduate about to set out on a new path.

I think he’s going places.

Y’all too?

Tonight I’m thankful for a young man who stepped outside the box and didn’t give the traditional speech filled with sentimentality and inspirational quotes and challenges to make every moment count–I’m thankful for his keeping it real and sharing simple wisdom and truth.

Love and an overabundance of wise choices to all.

 

 

The Stories Interwoven With My Own

Today has been one of those precious days that you set aside in your memories to come back to later when the days are dark and cold, to warm yourself by as though it’s a fire burning in the fireplace.  Time with my family, getting things done, and in the midst of the doing, taking time to smell the books…..I meant roses.  Actually, no, I mean books.  Anyone else do that?  Maybe it’s because I worked in the library for years, but I do tend to sniff my books occasionally.  Weird, but true.  I love books.  And everything about them.  Including their smell.

Today has been about bringing all of the books in our home to one area and putting them on shelves.  Over the years of collecting books, we’ve had some tucked on bookshelves in nearly every room in the house.  So if you were looking for a particular book, often you would just give up before you’d go through all the possibilities.  Today I have channeled my inner librarian and sorted by different groups–the books from Maemae’s house, the children’s stories, some separated out–like the Berestain bears and the chapter books and the fairy ones and the Star Wars and Cars ones.  I’ve even gotten a little crazy and “alpha by author” ‘ed our Junior fictions.  I have yet to start on my books, and the space is dwindling.  Obviously I have some culling to do.  I know, it pains me to even think it.  But I’d rather do that than get rid of any more of the children’s books.

And that is just something I can’t do.  As the day progressed and I saw and heard my children’s reactions to having their books put away where they can see them all in a glance, I knew there was no way that I could get rid of any of their books anytime soon.  And in part it was because many of these books are a part of my story as well.

Some of the classics sitting together on their own shelf.....

Some of the classics sitting together on their own shelf…..

Aub, as she surveyed the nearly done shelving of our “Junior Fiction” books, said, “I feel really vulnerable and out there with all of these books together like this for anyone to see.”  She touched one set of books and then another, “These were my third grade world…..these I loved when I was in the fifth grade.”  And then there’s the Harry Potter series.  She and Harry grew up together think.  I know what she means.  As I shelved some of the oldest ones we have, I remembered my own fifth grade year.  And high school.  And the book Mama and Daddy bought for me when I turned six.  All there.

Princess' and Cooter's very own shelves to hold their very own favorite books.

Princess’ and Cooter’s very own shelves to hold their very own favorite books. My Daddy’s “granite” bear was the first thing placed on the shelves.  It had to be.

 

Our Princess was thrilled that she got her own shelves for her fairy books and the Junie B books and the Magic Treehouse series.  Though we’d gotten that set for her sister at least twelve years ago, those are the ones she jumped into after she first learned to read.  Those will always be precious stories to us.

Cooter sat on the rug tonight, and asked us all to “keep it down” please because he wanted to read.  He pulled out books that he hasn’t looked at in ages, because he could put his hands on them now.  Only this time he saw them with a new lens–for the first time, he is seeing them through the eyes of a reader.  At one point today, as we were working on shelving, I looked and all three had a book OPEN in their hands, and they were reading for a moment.

Yes, I think this is a very good thing.

My Mama's books tucked away for the night in their own section.  The apples and kokeshi Grandparents use to sit on top of Mama's bookcase.  My children would feed the dolls the apples and then Daddy would move them when they weren't looking.  Too much fun and a sweet memory.  They will move for more books but for today, that is right where they belong.

My Mama’s books tucked away for the night in their own section. The wooden apples and kokeshi Grandparents use to sit on top of Mama’s bookcase. My children would “feed” the dolls the apples and then Daddy would move them when they weren’t looking. Too much fun and a sweet memory. They will move for more books but for today, that is right where they belong.

I thought we had shelved all of the children’s books, and I was beginning to breathe a little easier about having room for my books.  And then we found one last bin of books from my Mama’s that we’ve had for a while.  As I saw the sorted piles growing, I realized I needed another shelf to hold these.  These books had Cooter exclaiming, “Oh that’s one of my favorites!” several times. Princess, as she was helping me get them out of the bin, had to stop every few minutes and flip through one and read several words.  So sweet.  And my college girl, Aub, saw the lift-the-flap board book that I remember from long ago, and said, “Oh this was my very favorite book EVER! I love this book.  See all of the children’s names.  I used to say I liked this one, not that one, that one’s okay…..”

Umm, so no, of course that one wasn’t in the give away pile.

Ahem.

It is funny and beautiful to me the way these stories and mine are interconnected.  There are books that touch one’s life and never let go.  They never really leave, woven into the tapestry of who we are.  In truth, I think that I probably have fewer of those in my adult fiction and non-fiction books than I have in the children’s books that bring back memories.

Maybe if I look at it that way, it won’t be too hard to cull some of mine.

At least I hope so.  Because I won’t say goodbye to the children’s stories.  They’re just that good.

 

Love and wishes for a good book to read to all.

 

 

Those Days That Leave Folks Out

Dear Hallmark,

Thanks.

Sincerely,

Girl Who’s Tired of Being Reminded

 

Okay, this one probably isn’t going to make me very popular.  If you are one who has always and will always love the “day” celebrations honoring this one and that one in your life–then okay.  No offense meant.  Personally, I’m over these days.  Valentine’s.  Mother’s Day.  Father’s Day.  Grandparent’s Day.

Why can’t we honor and love and be kind to these folks everyday?  In the words of Miss N from my Sister Circle, “Why’s it gotta be just one day?”

I’m thinking it’s because you won’t buy a card if you’re doing it everyday.  Right?

All right, in all seriousness, here’s my problem with the “day” thing.  It excludes people.  It leaves folks out.  And that was in my Mama’s top three rules.  “Don’t leave anyone out.”  I’m not placing all the blame at the foot of the card companies, but they are the ones whose displays and tear-jerking commercials remind us we must do something for the day.  Them and the sales on things that are not related at all–like grey tissue boxes and size H crochet hooks made from rosewood.  And 20% one item coupons from Bed, Bath, and Beyond in the mailbox in honor of the day.  (They never expire you know, despite what they say.)  And then there’s some pastors and church folks who decide to honor those special people that day.  *sigh*  What a relief it is to be in church on one of those Sundays and get through the whole service without mention or reminder.  So thankful when that happens.

Sure, it’s wonderful to honor your parents.  Or your grandparents.  Or the love of your life.  I’m all for it.  I grew up doing it, making cards, cooking waffles for a special supper, making a cake with so much blue dye in the icing it almost took my Daddy out–yeah, I was full of the love and the spirit.

But now…..

I see it a little differently than I did back then.  I see my friends who have no roof over their heads, remembering children who long ago stopped searching for them.  Or parents who did the same.  I see the Mama who had to do what no Mama should do–go through a day all about Mamas when she, for the first time in years, had no child to hug her or treat her to dinner.  I see a child in adult’s clothing, gripping tight the tissue hidden in her hand, so she can wipe the tears quickly so her own children won’t notice her pain.  I see the young woman bemoaning another Valentine’s without someone special to share it with.  I see a child torn as she tries to honor one while grieving another.  And then there are those who are estranged from the one the day calls us to love and honor.  It’s painful and private and suddenly a spotlight is on the relationship that isn’t.  And all of these precious people put smiles on their faces and try to carry on as though nothing is out of sorts as best they can.  So those who are having a wonderful time celebrating maybe won’t know.

I love my children and Fella.  I appreciate their efforts to honor me and make me feel special on that day.  Hey, I appreciate it any day that happens.  And I want to honor my Fella as a good person and Daddy.  But we tend to keep it low-key.  The Fella says he’s just happy to be home.  I usually have help making his favorite dessert and we hang out and call it a day.  And it’s good.  And I’m thankful he’s okay with low-key because anything else would send me on another spin on the grief wheel pretty quick.  As it is, when I’m by myself I say a quiet thank you to the man who loved and raised me, and I try to move beyond.  That’s hard to do sometimes.  I don’t know how my Mama did it all those years.  She made us feel special that we were honoring her, all the while she was grieving the relationship she never had with her own mother.  And we didn’t know until we were much older.

If you love these days and really get into them, that is great.  I think it’s wonderful the ones who go all out with teas for their Mamas or big barbeques for their Dads (and vice versa), big candlelit dinners and a night out on the town with their Valentine, or a picnic with their grandparents.  Love it.  Keep on loving those precious ones you treasure.  In your own special way.  What I’m asking is for a little patience and understanding when I seem less than enthusiastic.  I’m all about loving on folks, but sometimes that looks a little different than what many might expect, I guess.   I struggle with days and things that make people feel left out or like an “odd man out.”  Fitting in is a good feeling, and that’s hard to do when you’re not a part of the celebration through no fault of your own.

All I’m asking is the next time one of these days rolls around, maybe take a look around and think about how someone else might be feeling.  And be okay with wherever he or she is.  Maybe, if you are so inclined, be a safe place for them to be, away from the hoopla and festivities.  #bethefeather

Happy Everyday and love to all.