Looking Up

This evening as I took Miss Sophie out for her evening constitutional, all was quiet except for the artisans finishing up the bricks on the new house.  (I am intrigued by their artwork and skills–I could stand and watch for hours, but I worry about being labeled a stalker in my own neighborhood, so I refrain.)

As I gazed up, breathing in the cold, crisp air, what I saw took my breath away.

The river of birds at sunset.  I tried to capture it, but this was a good as it got.  The birds are the tiny specks you might think are bits of dust on your screen.  I gave up trying to get a great shot and just watched, soaking it all in.

The river of birds at sunset. I tried to capture it, but this was a good as it got. The birds are the tiny specks you might think are bits of dust on your screen. I gave up trying to get a great shot and just watched, soaking it all in.

Oh bless it.

A river of birds.

Those blackbirds flying over in a pattern that was beautiful.  They waved and wound their way through the skies overhead, their darkness in striking contrast to the brilliance of the soft and lovely sunset.

And I remembered.

I remembered the first time I heard about the river of birds–the first time I’d heard it called that.  Pastor Bill talked about them as he shared stories with all of us at Miss B’s memorial service.

Miss B, our elderly cousin, who passed away two years ago today.  One week after Mama left this world.  Such a gentle soul, who is now dancing in a beautiful bright pink housecoat with no halt in her step and whose speech is now clearer than it’s ever been.  I know this with all my heart; I saw it all in a dream.  And I am thankful.

I am also thankful for this day two years ago, because hope was born.  Again.  Bubba’s new baby was born.  The one so loved and anticipated by us all.  He was born and we all fell in love.  And fell to our knees in thanks.  He had a hard start, but he’s a strong little guy, and he is a delight in our world.

Two years ago today.  A day that began with saying goodbye brought a beautiful hello by the time the sun set.

That’s what life does.  It’s never a straight cut path.  It waves and winds through joy and sorrow, good times and sad.  The most important thing about the journey, just as it is for our feathered friends, are the ones who travel alongside us, helping us to navigate the path.  Staying beside us and moving to lead the way when we need them to.

Tonight I’m thankful for the life of Miss B, who shared her love of beautiful things with us all and didn’t let what she “should” be able to do stop her from trying to defy the odds.  And I give thanks for my nephew, our Deer one.  He’s a sport, and his love and those eyes and when he says, “Oh sure…..”

Good job, God.  Thank You.

And happy birthday, little one!

Love to all.

 

Fringe Hours

I am laughing as I recall my Joyful friend and I talking so many years ago about the books we had in stacks beside our beds.

“They read like the self-help shelves at the bookstore.”

Yeah.  They did.

You know those books where an author proclaims they can tell you how to become a better person in 5 days or how to lose 25 pounds in a month or how to parent the perfect child……by a week from Saturday, just in time for the family picnic?

Been there, started to read that, rarely finished a single one of them.

Until now.

Fringe Hours

The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica N. Turner

I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the launch team for this book.  Which means I got a copy (ooohhhh, a new book–y’all know how much I love books!) of the book in advance back in January.  I was excited to read it and share my thoughts.

So here goes.

First of all, I haven’t been reading it alone.

This has been my reading companion.

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My reading companion–so many thoughts have resonated with me that I’ve been underlining and starring all over the place.

 

I have been underlining and starring all through this book.  (And toss in a few “Yes!” and “Amen”‘s for good measure.)  This is not your ordinary “expert tells all the have nots how to get it”  book.  This is like a conversation with your friend.  She laughs, she confesses, she shares, and she cares.  I don’t know how she does it, but in this book, as I’ve been reading, I had this sense that she really, truly cares about me and how I carve out time for me. To be. Me.

Much like a dear friend would.

She’s also not just sharing her own stories.  Ms. Turner surveyed over 2000 women from all 50 states and over 30 countries around the world.  She asked questions and she took time to hear their stories, many of which are shared in the book.

And that’s why this book won’t leave my shelves.  Because of the message I got as I read page after page about women, like me, who crave some time to express themselves but feel guilty taking away that time from the family.

The message that I am not alone.

As I read story after story, I kept thinking, “Me too.”  “I hear you.”  “Oh my land, I thought I was the only one.”

Have you ever wondered if you were the only one who felt the way you did and then found out you weren’t?  That feeling.  That grace.  This book is full of it.

In one chapter, she remembers reading under the covers with a flashlight as a child–oh the joy of that memory for me!  And when Ms. Turner admits to leaving supper dishes in the sink until the next morning, I laughed with gratitude.  When she talked about her fabric “stash,” I knew we could be sisterfriends for life.  I live that.  (well, okay, with yarn instead of fabric, but still)

Here are just a few of the quotes from the book that resonated with me:

“Just because something is a good thing doesn’t mean it is good for this moment in your life.”  Chapter on Pursuing Balance

relationships currency

“In the end, I just had to let it go and not worry about the state of my home.  She knew I was on a book deadline, and she wasn’t coming to see my house–she was coming to see me.  Relationships are the currency that matters, not the conditions of our homes.”  Chapter on Letting Go of Self-Imposed Pressures     (oh AMEN!)

“Self-care needs to be included in what you should be doing.  It is not a privilege.  It is a necessity…..Choosing yourself is not wrong.”  Chapter on Eliminating Guilt and Comparison

“…..I have learned that while I sometimes regret saying yes, I never regret saying no.”  Chapter on Prioritizing Your Activities

“Yes is so often the expected response that a no can be difficult to both give and receive.  We get emails asking for volunteers, and if the slots don’t fill up fast enough, more emails come pressuring us to respond because not enough people have signed up.   If we still don’t volunteer to help, we’re looked at as ‘uncommitted……’ Women need to be kinder to themselves and one another…..What I am telling you is that if someone says they cannot help, do not judge her.  Instead, ask if you can help her.  Ask if she needs anything.  Or just say, ‘It’s really great that you know your limits and said no. I respect that.’ And mean it.”  Chapter on Prioritizing Your Activities

“Maybe we don’t need so many apps.”  Chapter on Using Your Time Efficiently

“Asking for help can feel very vulnerable. I sometimes feel like if I ask for help, I am not being a good wife.  This is a lie.  Who I am as a wife is not defined by whether I can get all the laundry done.”  Chapter on Embracing Help

“Sometimes we have to let go of self-imposed have-tos and settle for good enough.” Chapter on Overcoming Obstacles

“You can feed your passions by running a hundred miles or sewing a dozen dresses, but if you don’t take time to be still and rest, you will eventually suffer.”  Chapter on Finding Rest

 

Something tells me she might need a nap sometimes too.

We all do really, just as we all need to read this book.  It is empowering and encouraging.  The list of gracious ways to say no presented in Chapter 7 makes it worth the time spent reading it all by itself.  I think one of my favorite “guides” for knowing when to say no to was also in that chapter.  Ms. Turner shared the story of Mandy, who said “she says no to things that will make her yell at her kids.”

That right there.  My new rule of thumb.  We’ll all be better off, really, to be rushing to the car and to the “next” thing on the agenda a little less often I think.

This book is one I will thumb back through a lot.  For the funny stories, for the wisdom, for that list in Chapter 7 when I get asked to do something.  🙂  I want all of the folks I care about to read this book.  And be encouraged.  And to chase their passions.  To find what feeds their souls.

While I can’t send everyone a copy of this book, I am going to share a copy with one of you.  The book is being released today, February 17.  You can enter by sharing a dream that you’d like to pursue or one that you are making happen in the comment thread here or on the post on the I Might Need a Nap Facebook page.  Be sure to like the page and sign up to follow the blog, so you won’t miss anything.  One winner will be randomly selected from all entries.  Entry deadline is 11:59 p.m. EST on February 18.

If you are eager to get your own copy or twelve, you can head over to http://www.fringehours.com or any of the major booksellers to order now.  You can read the first chapter free on the website.  There are other resources also available.

 

Tonight I am thankful for the opportunity to read this book.  I am thankful for the woman who wrote it and for the women who were brave enough to share their stories too.  Most of all, I am thankful for being reminded of the grace we can and should offer each other, encouraging and empowering each of us to be joyful and better at living and sharing the journey with peace-filled hearts.

 

Wishing you all the surprise of finding some Fringe Hours in your week.

Love to all.

Real

Every now and then a thought comes to mind, and something sitting beside it whispers, “Yeah, move this one to the head of the line.  This one needs sharing now.”

Today has been one of those times.  The thought that has been nudging me for a couple of days insists on being shared.

And heard.

So here goes.

What you see here is only a snapshot out of the thousands that are taken.  What you see here is only a sliver of all that is.

What you see here is not representative of all that I live.

This is accurate about my blog, about our Facebook posts, and about what we tweet or pin or post on instagram.

Each of them just a blip of what goes on, and then it is only what any one of us is comfortable showing.

There’s so much more that isn’t.

 

I’ve been thinking about this in the context of my Daddy telling me many times, “You compare, you lose.”

And you know why?

Because we don’t know.  We don’t know what all someone else is going through.  We don’t know what they don’t post about, what goes on in their home when they aren’t on Facebook or taking pictures to share later.  We.  Don’t.  Know.

My life is good.  I’m very, very fortunate to have what I need and so much more.

But what I don’t write about sometimes are the really messy times.  The times I ugly cry or worse, ugly yell.  The times I sit in traffic and mutter (mostly) under my breath about the crazy drivers around me.  The projects I start and then give up on.  The projects I never start.  Mount Washmore piled up on Cap’s couch waiting for my attention.  How high the sink of dirty dishes gets before it’s on my nerves enough for me to get in there to remedy the situation.  How sometimes my children have to call my name more than once to get my attention.  The OCD that makes even me a little crazy.  The tears I cry over things that happen because of decisions I made and the things that happen that I couldn’t prevent.  The arguments over clean rooms, messy rooms, not playing at the house around the corner, showing each other respect, what’s for supper, whose turn it is to do (fill in the blank here) first, lights not turned off, toilets not flushed, dirty clothes on the floor, and so much more that my head is spinning (and not from the vertigo, I don’t think, it seems a little better today).

Here’s the thing.

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I’m real.  I’m human.

We all are.

And while this isn’t an excuse for poor behavior, it does mean that I’m not perfect.  None of us are really.  Except for well, maybe, perfectly broken.  That one could work.

And it’s in that brokenness that I find myself.  The real-est me.  The one who has to dig deep and try harder.

And that’s when my soul grows.

Someone up in this brain of mine thought we might all need to hear that.

We’re all messy, broken, hurting, hurters, loving, loved, and beautiful.

So next time someone’s story or comment or picture or even their presence right in front of you causes you to question where you are, what you are worth, why you are even here, know that this is only a glimpse–a glimpse they are letting you see, and that’s it.

There’s so much more than what meets the eye, as we are standing on the outside looking in through the only open curtain.

Tonight I’m thankful for a story shared by a guest speaker at Evening Prayer tonight.  She has quite the presence–tall, lovely, excellent speaker, and she exudes a peace and tranquility that is a rare treat to find in a person.  She told the story of shopping and having to stand at a counter for twenty minutes before being addressed at all.  She was frustrated.  Well, of course, right?  In that moment I saw her as human and broken just like me.  I saw myself mirrored in her eyes, and I realized that the grace I offered her in the “well of course you were frustrated,” I could also offer myself, because we are not all that different.

I love how she finished her story.  She had a decision to make.  To be THAT person–complaining and letting the world know about her much-justified frustrations or to be THAT person who is patient and kind and handles it with grace.

We all have that choice, don’t we?  To be frustrated that we’re not having the kind of awesome day that Jocelyn just posted about, that Twila got a new car and we’re still driving our old one that breaks down every 52.5 miles.  That Junior got a promotion with a huge bonus and we can barely eke by on what we’re making now, no raise in sight.

We have a choice.  We can be frustrated and feel less than–

or we can know that these are just glimpses into the lives of folks whose whole stories we really don’t know.

And we can be okay with who and where we are.  And be THAT person.

The one who doesn’t compare, the one who wins, the one who is content with where she/he is and is all in.

Wishing you all a day full of learning everyone else is just as REAL as you are.

Love to all.

Vertigo

Vertigo.

Vertigo is not fun.

If you’ve never had it, here’s how my bouts with it usually start.

I wake up and turn my head and suddenly my bed, my whole room is spinning.  Even closing my eyes doesn’t stop the sensation.

Fortunately, it’s usually manageable.  I just take extra care not to turn my head suddenly or bend at the waist.

Like I forgot and did a few minutes ago.

Not.  Good.

When it hits me like that, I just sit down. Stop.

I am still.

And eventually the world rights itself again.

And I am thankful.

As I was sitting there, on the floor, next to the thing I bent over to pick up, waiting for the spinning to stop, it occurred to me that life is very much like that.

Something shifts and our world goes topsy-turvy.  Unfortunately, in the midst of that, it is rare that I find myself able to let things go, sit, and be still, but until I do, chaos ensues.  I only contribute to the spinning madness.

Once I can sit, listen to the quiet, and still my spirit, I usually find that things get set to right again.  Oh, I’m not saying it’s easy or that I don’t have to do something to right my world at some point.  What I have come to realize is that if I still my soul before taking action, things seem to go so much better.

And the vertigo doesn’t last nearly as long.

Tonight I’m thankful for the stillness.  And the quiet.  And the peace in my soul that comes from simply sitting.  And not trying to fight all that is out of order all at once.  And I am thankful for the grace that allows me to get back up and try again, once the spell is over.

Wishing you all a moment to sit and be and still your soul.  Love to all.

 

Love is Always in Season

The day is here.  Everything is red hearts and pink hearts and roses and chocolates and Sweethearts Conversation hearts.

All things I can do without.

Well, maybe except for the conversation hearts.  I used to think those things had some kind of “Magic Eight Ball” foretelling ability.  And we all know the M8B knew…..

I remember the year we made a Valentine’s Day card holder when I was in elementary school.  It was two huge hearts–I think mine were blue, very telling–glued together around the edges, leaving the top open.  For some reason, we used paper folded accordion style for arms and legs and I drew a face on the heart.

Precious.  Ahem.

I don’t remember all the cards I got over the years, but I do remember obsessing over how the card was signed–“Did he write “Love, Me” or just “Me,” and did he add a smiley face or not?  Was it one of the regular-sized cards in the box or was it one of the rarer super-sized ones?   I think I was finally over V Day when, in high school, they did the big carnation sale.  At least I think that was on Valentine’s.  What a day.  There was the girl who ended the day with several carnations, some from her “BFF’s” and even more from boys who hoped to win her heart.

And then there were those of us who left for home carrying only our books and a little heavier hearts.

I’m fine really, but the pressure of the day…..It was way back then that I pretty much wrote off the day.  I’d much rather do what one of my aunts does and just give you something when the mood strikes me, and not when Kay and Hallmark and Helzburg and Ferrero Roche tell me I have to.

There was one year that was special though.  I don’t know why or what for, but Daddy had found himself at the Wal-Mart.  This was over twenty-five years ago.  I can’t imagine what need took him there–a ball of twine?  Duct tape? A case of oil?  Anyway, when he came home, he handed each of us girls a small, clear plastic ball that had a pair of (I think) knee highs in them, and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”  (No exclamation point there, it took a lot for his voice to rise, and usually it wasn’t good.)

Mine were lavender.

And I don’t think I ever wore them.

They were a treasure, you see, unexpected as they were, and from my most favorite guy ever.

Cooter was due at the end of February in 2007.  Since our Princess had been two weeks early, I figured he would be born on Valentine’s Day.  I joked–“Valentina for a girl, Valentino for a boy.”  It was a reasonable assumption.  Instead he was two and half weeks early and born on the 10th.  As we were spending our last night in the hospital, our night nurse, Miss Suzette, came in to weigh him.  She held him close and looked at his sweet face with the tenderest of expressions.  “He can have a Valentine’s themed birthday.”  In those moments she saw this little baby, my first boy, grow up before her eyes–something I wasn’t able to do yet, but the love in her eyes touched me, and I still remember being teary-eyed as we said goodbye.

Seventeen years ago, I spent Valentine’s Day morning at a Scrapbooking workshop.  (I was a really awesome scrapbooker for about a year or so–Aub has six months of her life in one to prove it.  *sigh*)  When I got back to Mama’s to pick up my little two-year old, Mama stopped me at the back door.  Daddy’s vehicle wasn’t there.  She told me the heartbreaking news.  My Granny, whom I adored and loved and still miss so much, had died.

She’d been sick, yes.  But still.

She was in a better place.  Oh, don’t I know it.   Celebrating with the great love of her life.  But still.

She had lived a long life.  Yeah, I guess.  But still.

Daddy had gone to her house.  To do what a child does when his/her parent dies.

As I think about Valentine’s Day, and how it is supposed to be all about love, I look back over this patchwork quilt of motley memories from this same day in the years past.  And I see LOVE written all over them.

Oh, not that the advertisers would recognize it–there’s no chocolate or diamonds or vase full of flowers.  (Not even ONE carnation, people, not even one.)

But there’s LOVE.  Of a stranger for a child she’d likely never meet again.  Of a teacher who helped each one of her students create and design and feel special on a day that could very well have one or more feeling left out.  Of a Daddy spending a dollar apiece to show his infinite love to his children.  Of a son for his mother.  Of a Mama for her daughter.  Of a Mama for her son.

Love that lasts a lifetime and not just one day.  Or season.

So if I’m not wearing red tomorrow, but have on my shirt with hearts in April, maybe you will understand.  If I shy away from all the “love” posts on social media or roll my eyes at the commercials that are intended to make you feel “less than” if you aren’t giving your love “this” or “that,” don’t be surprised.  If you ask me what the Fella and I are doing for supper on Valentine’s and I reply “heat up leftovers and watch ‘Worst Cooks in America’ or ‘Chopped’ with the littles” with a great big smile on my face, please don’t think me callous.  Or unromantic.

In the words of Bob Goff, “Love does.”

In the words of Hugh Hollowell, “Love wins.”

In the words of Jesus, “Love is patient and kind…..

In the words of my heart, “Love is not for a day or a season, it’s for always.  And for all.  Period.  The end.”

So yes, I’ll celebrate love on Valentine’s Day.  Same as I try to do every other day.

With a smile, a hug, hanging out with the ones whom I love most, and sharing the journey.  Doing and winning and loving.

 

May your day be just what you need it to be.  Make it yours.

Love to all.

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Creature of Habit

Isn’t it funny what we become accustomed to?

And what we don’t?

I am a creature of habit.  So is Cooter.  This morning I needed to head out the door and run over to the hardware store to get something notarized (yeah, I know, I love that place), and I didn’t have time for dillydallying.  Cooter had been more worried about Legos and the like this morning, so I was lucky he was even dressed.  He didn’t accept the cup of yogurt I offered, so it was almost lunchtime by the time it occurred to him that he was hungry.

“Okay, we’re about to have lunch.  Just give me a few minutes.”

Wrong thing to say, Mama, wrong thing to say.

He was devastated.  Cue the meltdown.

“But I haven’t had breakfasssstttttt!” he wailed.

Oh me.

I somehow pacified him with something halfway healthy to munch on before I got lunch together.  I only wish he would be as rigid about the order of math before playing.  Maybe one day…..hey, I can dream, right?

Yes, so I’m a creature of habit.  Not quite as much as my little guy, but yes.

It takes me a little while to get in the habit though.  I think the studies say 2 weeks?  Maybe 3, is it?  I don’t know, I just know some things fall into place easier than others.

Like something that began last fall.

I don’t know which of my friends commented on or a liked a post by this gentleman, but that little “stalker” box that tells what your friends are up to, in the upper right corner on Facebook?  That’s probably how I first came across the writer I have come to appreciate so much.

Mr. John Paul Schulz.

I won’t tell his story–he does an entertaining job of that himself. (Now you know you have to go read his blog, right?)  But what first caught my eye is that he has a book coming out called, “Sweetie Drives on Chemo Days.”  After our long journey with Daddy‘s fight with lymphoma, I was intrigued.  I “friended” Mr. Schulz, and he kindly welcomed me, a stranger, into his fold.

I’m a lucky girl.

I asked questions when he described treatments similar to Daddy’s.  He was patient and answered them.  When I first stumbled upon his page last October he was sharing a quote or two from his upcoming book each day.  They brightened my mornings and many I shared with my Aunt or others I thought would enjoy them.   In recent weeks, he has started numbering these thoughts.  Today was number #102.

One hundred and two days of sharing a laughter, a smile, and an encouraging word.  And 102 days of Mr. Schulz reminding us “Everything is going to be all right.”  That’s his mantra, I think.

Some days that’s mine too.  That’s what gets me through the day.  The words straight from the page to my heart.  Yes.

It was over the weekend when it hit me what a habit this has become for me.  Reading and thinking on these words shared by a wise man who was born two years after my Daddy.  Over the weekend, I missed him sharing his thoughts as he was out of town watching the sunset with his mother.

Of course I forgave him.  And crossed my fingers he’d be back safe and sound and sharing wisdom again soon.

He was.

And it was on February 11, #101, that it hit me that I was being downright selfish not sharing this Georgia gem with y’all.

He started off quoting Robert Frost:

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Mr. Schulz follows the quotes each day with his own thoughts on the matter.  On the 11th, he continued with:

“Every day somebody gets another chance to get it right—or keep it right. That person may as well be you…..”

I won’t spoil the rest of it for you, but to read the whole post,  you can click here.  While you are there, treat yourself, and sign up to follow his blog.  You deserve it.

I can’t tell you really how much those words meant to me.  The day after the second anniversary of Mama leaving this earth.   It may sound cold, but the one thing I’ve learned in all of this is indeed, thank you Mr. Frost and Mr. Schulz, that life goes on.  I remember Mess Cat and me sharing with each other, somewhat in shock, that even though our world was tumbling down around us with the deaths of the ones who raised us and loved us, the laundry still needed doing.  Meals still needed preparing.

What is that even about?

Life.  Goes.  On.

And what John Paul Schulz says about second chances–oh me.  I need those all the time.  I never deserve ’em, but I do get them.  And I’m so thankful when I do.

Tonight I’m thankful for the words of others which make me laugh, make me cry, make me think.  And tonight I’m thankful for whichever one of my friends who was commenting or liking on a post, and yes, I’m even thankful for that Facebook stalker box.  Because now I have a habit that I enjoy–one that starts my day off right.  Reading the “Quotes and Notes” by John Paul Schulz every single morning that he writes one.

If you are on Facebook, pop on over and say hello.  Just for fun, I’ll leave you with another story from this man who shines such light into the world and makes me laugh.  I’m always thankful for the laughter.  It helps me to remember and to appreciate–Life goes on.

 

 

Today on the job one of the guys asked, “John, what’s so funny?”
I was surprised, “Nothing special, why?”
“Well,” he said, “You’ve been grinning all morning.”
I said, “Oh–I see–today I realized that a couple of years ago I thought I was going to die and everyone who knew me thought I was going to die.”
He looked at me quizzically–
I continued, “And I didn’t. Ain’t that something to grin about?”

–John Paul Schulz

Love and laughter to all.

Mairzy Doats and Dozy Doats

Today on our OutandAbouts, the littles and I were listening to 40’s radio.  Some of us more willingly than others.

Okay, it was me.  I am the one who LOVES 40’s music.  And if I’m driving your little wiggly selves here, there, and yonder for you to see a musical and have a picnic and play at the park, the least you can do is sit there and enjoy it, right?

Today as we were listening the song “Mairzy Doats” came on the air.  Have you heard this one before?

The main lyrics are:

Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, Wouldn’t you?
If the words sound queer and funny to your ear, a little bit jumbled and jivey,
Sing “Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy.”

And so on.

How cute is that?  I love this song.

So fun, a happy song that you can clap along to.

And then the year that it was recorded put all my mental toe-tapping to a screeching halt.

1944.

Do you realize what was going on in this country in 1944?

I’m not a great historical scholar, but I know that World War II for this country lasted from 1941-1945.

This happy, silly song landed on the scene smack dab in the middle of this hard time of rationing and sending our soldiers to war for long periods of time with no word as to how they were doing, if they were even alive.  There was no e-mailing or skyping.  The families back home sometimes just didn’t hear.

Let me reiterate–this was not a happy or silly time for our country and her people.

And yet–

the 40’s station is filled with songs like this one–songs that I simply cannot be sad or on my pity pot while listening to.

And many of them were on the air before the end of the war.

I can understand the light-heartedness of songs after the war ended, but as we listened today, after my I started paying attention to the years of the songs, I was amazed.

The spirit of the people during that era–

indomitable is the word that comes to mind.

They hadn’t buried their heads in the sand, dancing and singing, totally oblivious to what was going on.

No, they were quite aware.

And still they sang.

This is the generation of my Granny.  And my Great Aunt. Strong people who knew what had to be done and did it.  Who lived with the reality of war and death and fear each and every day.

I’m not sure I could have gotten up out of the bed every morning, y’all.

But not my Granny.  Not the men and women of the 1940’s.  They got it.  And still the band played on.

Giving them an outlet.  Something to smile about.  To take heart in.

And we take to our beds with season after season of our favorite shows on Netflix over the dog eating our shoes.  Or our favorite restaurant being closed on Sundays.   (both of these *ahem* may or may not have actually happened–not naming names, of course)

I’m not putting down my generation, because each generation has their own set of problems and challenges to face and overcome.

But those men and women of the 40’s–my hat is off to them. I love the spirit exuded in their music.  Much more so than the spirit of the music of some other decades I could mention but won’t.

Tonight I’m thankful for the people who stood strong in the midst of doubt and hardship and heartache.  They set the bar high for facing brokenness and still keeping one’s wits and spirits up.  I have the utmost respect for the composers, conductors, and performers of that decade.  They were serving their country in the best way they could with their gifts and talents and here, seventy years later, it has made a huge impact on me.  They didn’t give up.  They didn’t crawl in a hole and wait for the world to end.

Sort of puts all my “stuff” into perspective.

If you have a moment, listen to a song or two from the 40’s.  And remember.  And carry some of that indomitable spirit in your heart too.  We are standing on the shoulders of giants.  Who had great hearts and spirits, and whom we just might have inherited our own bit of indomitability from.

 

Love to all.

 

 

Just to get you started, here’s another favorite of mine.  (It’s pre-war. Sad to think that a long winter was coming for this country when this song was on the air.)

 

chasing tomorrow

it seems to me that we are

forever

chasing tomorrow

with our calendars

and phones and day planners

and clocks and timers

and menus

and lists and

plans

so that we will be ready

R-E-A-D-Y

when tomorrow does come

 

and of course the irony is that

it never does

and so we continue to spend

our todays

planning

tomorrow

 

and rarely do we sit down

and have tea

for no reason

in the fine china cup we have

saved

for a special day,

sipping with our pinkies up,

chatting about the weather

and the flowers in bloom

and all that is

now,

in

this

moment

 

we simply cannot,

must not,

lest we be called mad

and unprepared

by those who are

really quite busy

and organized

chasing

tomorrow

IMG_6906

 

Established 2007

During our “on the road” school this afternoon (a variation that sometimes becomes handy or necessary in our homeschool experience), the littles and I were discussing William Shakespeare.  Our Princess has read an adapted version of “Midsummer’s Night Dream” and she LOVED it.  When I reminded her of that, Cooter asked, “What about ‘MacBeth?'”

Wait.  What?

Apparently he heard about the play on a Disney channel show.  (Score one for the network that has caused me great frustration from time to time.)

We talked about how he would probably like it, what will all the intrigue and drama and oh, you know, witches in it.
“Witches?” he asked.

“Yes, it starts off, if I’m remembering correctly, with the witches gathered round–and at some point they chant, ‘Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble.'”

Cooter started laughing so hard I thought I might have to pull over.  When he came up for air, my little guy said, “I love that line!”  “Double, double, toilet trouble!”  He almost fell over in another fit of laughter.  “Toilet trouble–now that’s some kind of bad trouble!”

And then I was laughing so hard that, as so often happens around here, all intelligent conversations fell to the wayside.

That laughter?  That healing, belly-shaking laughter?

That is only one of about a million reasons why I love my baby boy.

The baby who will turn 8 tomorrow.

IMG_6891

Happy Birthday, Cooter!

He wants real estate for his birthday. And a Lego set.

One of those we have gotten for him.

The other he’s had since the moment the doctors confirmed my suspicion that our home was about to grow by two feet.

And we’re talking prime real estate here.

He owns a piece of my heart.

And I can never evict him or take it away.

It’s his.

And each day with that smile and that laughter and the hugs and the wacky dancing he does, he owns a little bit more.

And a little bit more.

A few days ago, he started putting in his requests for his celebrations.  (Yes, plural–we tend to celebrate birthday weeks and sometimes months around here.)  As he’d ask to do something rather outlandish, he’d cock his head and grin that grin and say, “How are you going to say ‘no’ to me?  After all, it IS my birthday.”

Ha.  Another reason I love him.  He knows.  He knows my heart.  But I also know he wasn’t surprised when I stood strong and said, “No.”  One more time.  Because that’s another way I show him I love him.

He was just as excited about getting his sisters and cousin “presents” for his birthday as he was in picking out what to put on his wish list.  Another reason.   His sweet heart.

He has recently started talking in grammar.  He walks around saying, “Mama, can I have a piece of candy question mark.”  Or, “I can’t wait for my birthday exclamation point.”  He is such a character, and he keeps me on my toes.  And laughing.  Did I mention the laughter?

The day after his big sister returned to college, he came in from out by the fire pit all excited.  “Mama, look at what I found! Look at it!”  And then he looked at the hand he held out to me and frowned.  “Oh.  I lost it.”  He was sad, I could tell.  “I found one of Baba’s hairs on a chair in the yard, but now I’ve lost it.”  He really loves his sisters, the big one and the one who is his play buddy and nemesis, sometimes both within the span of an hour. Another reason.

Recently he told me couldn’t wait for me to leave.  Without him.  Knowing him (or should I say, getting to know him) as I do, I decided to ask why, instead of letting my feelings be hurt.  “Well, if you leave me here, I can make plans for anyone who might want to break in.  And I can keep them out!”  Ah.  Yes.  Have I mentioned that “Home Alone” has become one of his favorite movies?

This boy, whose existence has opened my eyes to all kinds of things I never noticed before, is turning eight.

Amazing.

Tonight I’m thankful.

For the joy.  The laughter.  That smile.  Those little hands that started off wrapping around my finger and now do such amazing things.  Like write words and build fantastic Lego creations of his own imaginings.  And hold my  heart.

Always.

Happy Birthday, baby boy!

Love to all.  Go laugh and party on.  Hope it’s that kind of day for you too.

 

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Thanks to Cooter’s big sister for the graphic.  At the last minute.  Having her Mama’s back.  As usual.  ❤ 

The Next Couple of Days

And so it’s time for the pages on the calendar that carry me away to a paradoxical place for a couple of days.

The days that are so full of emotion and good and hard things that it’s difficult to reconcile them all together in my one heart and mind.

February 10, 2007  My baby, my third and last baby–first son, was born.

February 9, 2013 I took my oldest, Aub, to my alma mater for Scholarship Day.  The beginning of her college life.

February 9, 2013 My Mama’s 24th day in the hospital and the date of her third emergency surgery.

February 10, 2013 I celebrated my baby boy’s 6th birthday with him for about thirty minutes.  The rest of the day I was at the hospital.  That night I signed the papers to let my Mama go.  And sometime after 10:30 p.m. she left this earth and headed on up to the House.

The precious church and cemetery out at Little Union.

The precious church and cemetery out at Little Union.

The paradox of welcoming (my baby) and letting go (my first born).

The paradox of life (my baby boy) and of death (my sweet Mama).

Yeah, it’s a lot to take in.

On the day that my baby boy came into this world, as they wheeled the two of us to our own room they stopped my bed.  There was a button on the wall that the nurse asked me to push.  When I did, a beautiful little tune played all over the hospital.  I remember hearing that same tune many times while staying with Mama at that very same hospital.  Though she wasn’t conscious, I still smiled and told her, “Mama, a new baby!”  I know she was smiling in her heart too.  Babies and little ones were her very favorite people in the world.

There was no button on the wall to press when Mama took her last breath.  Only more papers to sign.  And tears to shed.

On the same day six years apart, these hands of mine stroked the face of one so loved–first my little guy and then my Mama.  One hello, one goodbye.

I wondered if the Universe had a lesson for me when my Daddy’s battle with his Giant ended the day after our Princess’ seventh birthday in 2011.  To go from joy to sorrow so quickly as we remember and celebrate and honor is hard–but it’s something we do.   Every year.

And then this–to lose and gain all on the same day, years apart.

Oh, my heart.

And though it seems paradoxical and hard, it is actually also very beautiful in its brokenness.  This is my fragile time of year.  I am beginning to give myself grace and not set any expectations on what I should do or feel or think.  I just do.  Am.  Be.  And really, these days of love and loss and laughter and tears are the epitome of what Life is–joy and sorrow, life and death, tears and laughter.  And hugs.  Hugs of joy and hugs of sympathy.

And oh my, all of the stories.

As the ones who loved Mama so very much gathered around her bed that night, stories were shared.  Laughter was heard, and tears were shed. But most of all, the love in the room was palpable–so much so that if there had been an instrument to measure it, I am certain it would have set off all kinds of alarms.  Nurses would have come running, and oh, what they would have seen!  Love like that, the reflection of the love Mama gave to each one of us, doesn’t come along very often.

Earlier today I read this, part of today’s sermon given by Hugh Hollowell at Love Wins:

“It isn’t the man’s actions or even his faith that bring him healing – it is the actions and faith of the man’s friends. We don’t even know if the man has any faith of his own. We don’t know if the guy is even conscious. Was he a good man? A bad man? We don’t know. All we know is he has friends with faith, and that that is enough. And it is there that I find hope in the story.” – From today’s sermon on Mark 2

This story and Hugh’s thoughts have stayed with me today.  There have been times on this journey of letting my parents go that the ONLY thing that has kept me going, the ONLY healing thing in my life, has been the faith of my family and my friends.  They have carried me and given me hope, and for that I offer my gratitude.  My faith has waxed and waned over the past few years, even more so in the past two.  That my babies have lost the people who loved them so much–that breaks my heart.  Each time I think on it.  That there is a gravestone in the cemetery with my child’s birthday on it–there are days I just.  can’t.  even.

But there are those who love me who can.  And who have.  And that’s how I’ve kept going.

Tonight I’m thankful for all of it.  Every single “feel” I had then.  And every single one I’m having now.  I’m just as comfortable with the weeping as I am with the laughter. And I think that’s okay.  I miss my Mama and my Daddy every single day.  I look around me at those who know the story and still listen as I tell it over and over as many times, in as many different ways, as I need to–and I am thankful beyond measure.

And so tonight I’ve told it one more time.  One more way.  The story of saying hello and saying goodbye and the years between them that were way too few.  And I thank you for reading and hearing it.  Tonight I had to write this, because I need to let it all out–the wracking sobs and the heartache.  Because on Tuesday, I will make it all about my baby boy. Who isn’t so much of a baby anymore.

Because I know if I don’t, I will be disappointing my Mama.  My Mama, who never would have chosen to leave when she did, and who adored that little guy like he was the best thing since sliced bread.  Or chocolate milk.  She loved all of her grandchildren that way, and I’ve felt her pushing me the past few days to go on and get this out.  So that we can party on Tuesday–and all the rest of the month.  Because that’s how she celebrated the day that those she loved came into the world–long and hard.  When she loved, she loved fiercely and with a love that was (and still is) unsurpassed.

Tonight I leave you with a song that my sisterfriend shared with me about a month ago.  This song is my heart right now.  I hope that Mama, Daddy, and all the others who have gone before us are dancing in the sky…..

that brings me comfort and makes me smile.

Because my Mama sure did love to dance.

Love to all.