Gearing Up for the Storm

Today the littles and I went to their class at the Go Fish Education Center and learned a lot about the weather.  One of the things they made there was a “foldable” with four different categories–they wrote the pertinent information for each one on the inside.

When discussing thunderstorms, the teacher shared about things we can do to be safe in the midst of one.  Things like don’t stay in the pool or in a boat, get inside, and…..

unplug important things around the house.

Then the young woman teaching the class shared that we probably don’t do that as much as we used to, what with having surge protectors and all.

But it was too late.  That image, all those memories, they came flooding back, quick and hard.  The unplugging when we first heard the thunder…..yep.  Praying we’d caught it in time and not lost the TV…..or the phone…..or, in later years, the computer or the VCR.

When we got home, the littles questioned me about this.  “Do we not care if our things get struck by lightning?  Is that why we don’t unplug our things?”

Ummmm.  Well.  We do care.  But…..surge protectors, right?

At least I hope they’ll do the job.

When I was growing up, as soon as we heard the first rumble of thunder, we all scrambled like we were on a top secret mission pertinent to national security.  Some grabbed the laundry basket and clothespin bucket and ran out to get the clothes in off the line–fingers crossed they were dry.  Others ran around unplugging things.  I can remember many a time being in the middle of a TV show and having to turn it off and unplug the TV until the storm passed.  This was in the day way back before we ever dreamed of DVR’s and the like.  So we were…..out of luck.  Until rerun season at least.  No Netflix to catch up on what we’d missed either.  But that’s another story for another night.

As I was remembering all of this, I think the fact that this has become something of the past is indicative of where we are in general.  Growing up, we respected storms.  We gave them the space to do what they had to do while trying our best to protect ourselves. I don’t necessarily mean that we are foolish now when it comes to storms, but we seem to push the limits and push past them.  Used to be if the weather was stormy we didn’t get out much.  Now we keep on keepin’ on, and just drive right through it, with our wipers blazing.  Rarely do we unplug in the face of a storm anymore.  We usually continue on as usual, barely giving the storm much notice.  At least until it wreaks serious havoc.  And then we surely do notice, don’t we?

Sometimes I think we miss a chance to refuel and regroup when a storm is approaching.  We are becoming an intense, “WE GOT THIS” “NEVER SAY DIE” sort of people, and so storm shmorm, no problem, CARRY ON, PEOPLE, DON’T LET IT GET YOU DOWN.

Until it’s too late, and the damage is done.

Maybe when the storms of life are approaching, it would be good to unplug for a little while.  To sit and be still and do all we can to protect ourselves.  Not all storms give a heads up, that’s true.  But for the ones that do, what would it be like if we circled the wagons, held each other close, and held on to something that gives us comfort?  (That was another suggestion of things to do in preparing for a major weather event.)

What would that do for our souls?

Take care of you.  We don’t want to lose you to the storm.

Love to all.

Lightning3

“Lightning3” by U.S. Air Force photo by Edward Aspera Jr. – United States Air Force, VIRIN 040304-F-0000S-002 or unbroken-link (or VIRIN 060822-F-1111A-001). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – File:Lightning3.jpg

the fire within

that glint you see in her eye
is only a spark
compared to the fire that burns within

she is our future,
the place where our paths all converge
and her story
is the one that we’ve all been waiting for
to right the wrongs
we’ve protested and fought against
for far too long

her flame can take out
the strongest of them,
the ones whose hearts are soiled
with a taste for power,
and it can burn those who
aren’t ready
to join her on the journey,
the ones who try to veer her off her path

she is intent and focused
and what she dreams of one day
will be
because that flame from within
is blazing the way
for her to speak and be heard
write and be read
lead and be followed
listen and understand
dream and create
act and inspire

such fiery heat can scorch
but for the one willing
to walk alongside
and encourage
and feed her soul
and make her laugh

that one will never feel the cold

img_1274

A Sucker for Love

Way back when, when my oldest was quite a small girl, we often found ourselves over at my dear Joyful friend’s house.  She and her girls were our lifeline, our fun, and our safe place to land.  They were my girl’s sisters for that time and for life, and I am always thankful for them.

So it isn’t surprising, I guess, that when it came time for us to leave their house, my girl would balk.  Balk might be understating it a bit for some occasions.  Flat out, she didn’t want to leave.  I remember my Joyful friend bringing Aub a Blow pop and telling her if she’d mind her manners and her Mama, she could have that sucker.

It worked.

Every single time.

Later, when the time came for us to venture out on our own, and we left the nest of Blackberry Flats, Mama liked to ease the transition of leaving each afternoon or evening with a Bob’s soft peppermint or caramel cream.  And then, eventually, a Dum Dum sucker.  I’m not sure if she changed her offering because she was out of the peppermints at one point or because of our food allergies or what, but the Dum Dums became the most desired treat.  We found an old style candy jar to put on Mama’s counter, and that’s what she would let little hands reach in to so as to find a favorite flavor.  And on rare occasions, when one had been quite good, he or she could–in the difficulty of deciding between two favorites–have both.  “One for now, and one for later,” Mama would say.  Now that I think about it, that wasn’t so occasional–it was more the rule.

I fondly remember Daddy pulling out my favorite flavor and handing it to me.  In that gesture, he was telling me he loved me.  I needed no words.  The lot of us had great conversations about the “Mystery” flavored ones and exactly how they came about.  The extra special ones, like the Savannah blueberry I think it was, brought about as much excitement as a Santa sighting in July.  Too much fun.

I miss those goodbyes.  Those sendoffs and waves and “see you soons.”  And all the hugs.

Today I dropped by Aunt’s to pick up a book and some special bookstore coupons she’d offered us (yes, because we do NOT have enough books–anyone that says different is off my “birfday list”).  She’d called and told me where I could find it as she wouldn’t be home.  We swung by in the midst of today’s adventures, and sure enough, the bag she’d tucked the things in was right where she’d said it would be.

I grabbed the bag and started off the porch, and then I was stopped still by what else was in the bag.

img_1511

Four Dum Dums.  For my two littles.

“One for now, and one for later.”

It took me a minute to start the car and get going again.  My eyes were flooded and my heart was full.

Tonight I’m thankful for stories that bind us together and for treasured memories.  I give thanks for traditions that get passed along and continue to warm hearts and bring immediate smiles to all of our faces.  I’m a sucker for tradition, and I’m an even bigger one for things that show us how loved we are.  I’m most thankful for my sisterfriend who knew that a spoonful of sugar is sometimes the “best encouragement,” for my Mama whose head I can still see bent conspiratorially over the candy jar with her grands, and for my Aunt.  Who never fails to remember and reminds me of that in so many precious ways.  The ones we love live on because of moments like this today.

Wishing you all a sweet to remind you that you are so very loved.

Love to all.

bad news

so it turns out
I really can’t handle
any more bad news

I’ve decided that
based on the scientific fact
that I am sitting here
and everything in my head
resembles a ticker tape
running below the news reports

and we know nothing good
ever winds up there

so no more bad news

okay?

instead can we sit on the porch
and watch the breeze tickle the leaves
that are left after fall’s brigade came through
can we laugh at the children as they
do their best to imitate the big folks
while they play football or ride bikes
and just seem so free

can we pick up a brush and
splash the world with color
brights and lights and darks
and bring them together in one big
beautiful canvas that brightens
and lights up for miles around

can we curl up with a book
one that is light and witty
and whose characters find themselves
in the most unlikely of situations
but always work to find the happy ending
that is surely out there
if one
just holds on
long enough

can we sing at the top of our lungs
and dance in circles around the room
as the dog barks and the children giggle
and finally join in
when that certain song comes on that lifts
everyone’s spirits
every single time

can we measure and mix
and bake
and add all the sprinkles
to the cupcakes that make
everyday a celebration
eating them together in four bites
and downing them with the sweetest tasting water
ice cold and refreshing
laughter and cupcake wrappers
the remains of an afternoon well spent

so yes, just for today,
could we please let go of the what if’s
and what are’s
and what never will be’s
that drag my soul through the muck
so thick
that I can hardly stand up after

can we please turn off the news
and sit together
and tell the good stories
the ones that bring us all a little closer
and make us all smile

for today, it turns out,
I can’t handle
any more
bad news

tomorrow will be soon enough

Pinkcupcakesprinkles2005

By Hello Darlin at http://www.flickr.com/photos/hellonheels/ via Wikimedia Commons

the kudzu patch

from the very first day of school
I can remember the rule sternly set
“no going near the kudzu patch”

it was out back behind the portable buildings
and the monkey bars and swing set
and beyond the patch where we played kickball
back before all of the regulations had
such things padded and fenced in

we were mindful of that
as we played kickball
with the hopes that no ball would go
into the forbidden territory

mindful of the warning to stay away
that is just what we did
until that one day
when you and the others
ran back there
with wild abandon

I stood mortified
of what could happen
to you, to all of you
back there
or later, when you were caught–
if you even survived

(part of me was sure you wouldn’t
for five year olds, kudzu monsters
can be very real)

you had your fun
and later paid the price in the principal’s office
and maybe even with your folks

I’ve always remembered that day–
when I looked on
and worried over what would happen

and now here we stand
talking about where life has taken us
we are the grownups now,
it’s amazing that somehow we made it to this point
despite all the bumps and bruises along the way

you look none the worse for wear, my friend,
a life well done despite your day of infamy
and me,
I wonder what I missed
from not playing in the kudzu patch
all those years ago

 

KudzuPlants

By Bubba73 (Jud McCranie) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33772552

don’t let them

don’t let them
tell you the stars aren’t really
diamonds
twinkling just for you
waiting to adorn your dreams
while you slumber
where you live out all your heart’s desires

don’t let them
tell you it’s silly to
guard your heart so carefully
or to love him so completely

don’t let them
convince you life isn’t hard
and that the world
isn’t broken

it is

but you in your diamonds
bringing life to your big dreams
holding the hand of the one
your heart calls home
giving from the beauty and kindness
that flows through your soul

you
will
change
it
all

 

Big_Dipper_Ursa_Major_over_Old_Faithful_geyser_Yellowstone_National_Park_Wyoming_Astrophotography

“Big Dipper Ursa Major over Old Faithful geyser Yellowstone National Park Wyoming Astrophotography” by Astroval1 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Big_Dipper_Ursa_Major_over_Old_Faithful_geyser_Yellowstone_National_Park_Wyoming_Astrophotography.jpg#/media/File:Big_Dipper_Ursa_Major_over_Old_Faithful_geyser_Yellowstone_National_Park_Wyoming_Astrophotography.jpg

Or Maybe He’s Not Creepy…..

Today Aub and I were doing the Out and Abouts and wound up at the grocery store.  It’s very unusual for me to find myself there twice in a week, but sometimes it happens.  We were just there Wednesday, but I didn’t get enough of this and forgot to get that, so there we were.

Saturday.

At the grocery store.

I promised myself I wouldn’t do this again.

Still.  There we were. Circling the parking lot.  This time I knew I was circling–looking for a parking spot that wasn’t way on the other side of the gas station.  I am a picky parker, especially at the grocery store.  I admit it.  I like to park very close or–yay–right next to the buggy corral.

As we headed up to the prime spot next to a corral, Aub pointed out the guy pushing one of those race car buggies made especially for shoppers with small children.  “Ewwwww, look, that guy is pushing a child’s cart, and he’s all by himself!  What is that?  Is he planning on picking up one or two inside?  That’s creepy as mess.”

I took in the situation as I eyeballed my parking space and made sure no one else was gunning for it.  (I can multi-task like that sometimes.)  The guy was fairly young, wearing a coat, and sure enough, he was pushing a cart for children with no children in sight.  That was when I caught a glimpse of something underneath his jacket.

A name tag.  He worked at the grocery store and was commandeering shopping carts from the parking lot.

Well, now, that makes a whole lot of sense.

Bless my girl, it was one of those moments where we laughed a lot longer than anyone else would have, and it was funny to us.  But all kidding aside, we all do this at times, don’t we?  We see something without having all the facts and looking at it with face value, we tend to pathologize it.  Point out how messed up it all is.

When in fact, it very well could be something else entirely.

Like maybe the clothes someone’s wearing out to the Mart isn’t an indication they’re crazy or broke or really messed up.  Maybe they’re grieving or their washer is broken or they haven’t slept in days because of something they are going through.

Maybe it’s because of something not…..very creepy.

Just a thought.

Life is hard, and it is easy to jump the gun and make quick judgments.  That’s called survival, right?  Tonight I’m thankful for those times when we can take time to pause and reassess…..

and discover it’s really not creepy after all.

Love to all.

Colourful_shopping_carts

By Jim (http://www.flickr.com/photos/alphageek/121953651) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

P.S.  I’m really proud of my Aub though. She’s always a good advocate for those who need it most, and children who might be picked up by creepy people are definitely in that category.  Love you, Aub.  Good looking out.  ❤

 

Not Today

On days when you say, more than once, “I can’t do this anymore” and consider putting an ad out there for an adult to come and take over because making one more decision does not sound like anything you are going to be doing this day, here is what I know is good:

*Children (young and grown) dancing to the Gummy Bear song.

*Walks in the finally not freezing cold weather.

*Stepping away from the things that are sapping your energy and time–if only for a few minutes.  Just walk away.  It’ll still be there.  That I can promise.

*Laughing over a parody watched with people you love.

*Chocolate.  Always.

*Cold coffee.  (Or you know, hot, if you prefer it that way)

*Watching Elton John singing karaoke to his own songs.  (“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”  I.  Am. DONE.)

*Finishing up a major undertaking and giving yourself a high five.

*Knowing it’s almost bedtime and tomorrow is another day.  Another chance for things to right themselves.  Well, with a little help.  But yeah.  Mercies anew in the morning.

Here’s hoping that one of these things brings you a smile and brightens your day.  Or better yet, here’s hoping your day has been so brilliant that your spirits don’t need lifting. But here’s what I hope you take away from this tonight.

If you are having “a day,”  you are not alone.  You can hang with me.  And the rest of us for whom some days are hard.  We can help each other through it.  Or at least laugh a lot trying.  This journey isn’t meant to be done alone.

Love to all.

Quicksand

“If there’s anything to be amazed at,” said MayDean, holding the toothpick out of the side of her mouth with amazing skill while she talked, “it’s that all of these folks–look around you, ever’ single one of them, they all have fallen at some point or another in their lives.  There’s just no way around it.  There’s no way to know the pitfalls afore you on the path you’ve chosen, the one you’re on right now.  So yeah, they’ve fallen and don’t you believe anyone that tells you diff’rent. You hear me?”

“Yes ma’am.”  There was no sense arguing, and yes, I had actually heard the words she was saying.  Only now I was wondering what else was coming.

“So get ready ’cause this here’s the part I don’t understand.  Ever’ one of ’em have fallen. But ain’t nobody talking about it.  Everybody out here has a story that could help somebody else.  A warning flag for the pitfall or a lesson about how to get out of it.  Or even who to call when it feels like the quicksand is pulling you under.  But nobody’s saying a word.  Zip.  Nada.  Not a blame thing.   And that just feels wrong to me–to hang on to the one thing that could help another person, all to save your own skin from facing truth.” She shook her head.  “I just don’t get it.  But then, me, I’ve gotten old enough that most of the folks are gone who know much of my story, so I can tell what I want.  And I’m telling it.  I don’t want to leave this world holding within my hands and heart something that could save another.”  She looked real thoughtful for a moment.  “Would I hold on to a cure for the cancer if I found it by falling in a mudpit and rolling around with hogs?”

She bounced the toothpick up and down with her teeth, looking out toward the  technicolor painted sunset on the horizon.  “Nope.  I’m here to say I wouldn’t.  I don’t care how I got it.  If it’ll help, it’ll tell.”

And with that she pushed up out of the creaking rocker, made her way off the porch, and headed down the path to home, leaving without another word to those of us whom she called family.

And that was then it occurred to me how much of my childhood I spent terrified of stepping in quicksand, and I wondered why no one ever mentions it anymore.

Quicksandwarning

“Quicksandwarning” by Hughesdarren – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Always Heading East

Tonight after the pizza supper that Cooter requested special for his 9th birthday (I can’t even with this whole 9 year old thing y’all, so that is why we are NOT talking about it right now), we were headed home.  The sun was setting, and as we do from everywhere we are at any and all given times, we were headed east to go home.

Apparently we never travel east of our home because we always seem to head into the darkness this time of night.

The Fella had to stop for something, so he pulled off the main road into the store parking lot.  I sat, peering into the darkness feeling, well frankly, sad.  Tired.  Listless.  It’s dark.  I can’t see.  There’s so much I can’t see in the unknown ahead.

To get out of the parking lot, my Fella had to turn the car around to the west before getting back on the main road and heading east.  When I looked up from my gloomy thoughts, what met my eyes was breathtaking.

One of the most beautiful sunset paintings I’ve ever seen.  I can never get enough of those, but this one–this one was truly spectacular.

We started back on the road to home with the painting behind me.  I turned in my seat to see it just one more time.  When finally I had to turn back and face the darkness to the east, I was different.  I felt different.  I was better.

Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed by the darkness, by what’s ahead.  Maybe when we get to that point, we need to take a moment to turn all the way around and see what else is out there. What is directly in front of us is rarely all there is.

I believe in the power of pulling over.  Of taking a breather.  Or a shower.  Or a nap.

You know.  Whatever it takes to change perspectives.  To lighten the load.

Love to all.

IMG_6831