the swing

I sit outside on the porch
as a warm breeze blows through
and twenty-two years disappear
the sun shines bright, illuminating a golden afternoon, and there you are,
carefully taking one step after another
holding the hand of the one you adored
and who cherished you right back
she leads you to your birthday gift
the swing
built by the man who makes you giggle
and gives you Nilla wafers to clasp
in your tiny hands, never mind the mess
he gently lifts you and places you
with her help into the swing
made especially for you

all the years since have come and gone
as have the ones we love
and I think of the gift they gave you
on the day you turned one

life is much like that swing–
may you always be surrounded by those who love you
like those who created and guided you to
the swing that day
giving you roots to tread on
and wings to fly

some days you will have someone at your back
pushing you higher and higher
up through the things that would pull you down
until you can reach for the stars and clouds and very nearly touch them
with your bare hands

other days, and there will be many, dear one
you will have to pump and point
lifting yourself above the noise and hustle
to reach your dreams and goals and all you want to be,
depending only on your own will and strength and determination

I remember the smile on your face twenty-two years ago
when you sat there in that old tire picked especially for you–
it would have lit up the darkest of nights…..
the sheer joy of the movement
and being surrounded by the ones you loved
brought laughter bubbling up from within
and cries of “again! again!”
as your tiny toes that couldn’t touch the ground kicked at the air excitedly

may you take time everyday to feel the wind in your hair
the exhilaration when you soar
and the beauty of the gentle quiet as you let it all “die down”
may you welcome those who have your back
and let them be a part of your journey, cheering each other on
and when you feel like no one is there,
pump and point, my dear, pump and point
and remember the dreams they dreamed for you,
the ones you’ve tucked away deep in your heart
and aim for the highest point–
and when you get there

grab hold of your faith
let go of the rope

and leap

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For A.A.D. on the night of her 23rd birthday…..keep soaring high, baby girl 

Family Jewels

So this is it.  An ordinary day that has really big things attached to it.

And to be honest, I’m really excited.

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For every single day, three years in a row, I’ve sat down at some point during my day, usually after all have gone to bed and the house is quiet, and I’ve shared a little bit of my day or my story or my heart right here.

And you’ve read these tidbits from my life.

Thank you.

With all my heart, I thank you.  I know what it’s like to have all the things to do and little time to click on a link or pull something up on a screen and commit to reading it, especially when I get a little wordy–yes, I’ve been called out on this, you know who you are, and I love ya.  And still, you’ve done this.  You’ve listened to my stories about growing up, raising children, being married, struggling through food allergies, letting my oldest grow up and leave the nest.  You’ve multiplied my joys and divided my sorrows, and you’ve raised your fist at injustices right alongside me.

Thank you.

You’ve read the goofy and the serious.  The mundane and the meaningful.  The poetry and the prose.  You’ve sat on my front porch and watched the delight and joy of children and heard the beauty in the songs of the birds and the frogs and watched the sun go down as we sipped the perfect cup of coffee.  You’ve laughed with me and wept with me.

You’ve given me the gift of your time and your presence, and as long as I have my memory, I will treasure this gift.

This week, anticipating this day coming, I’ve thought about what I’ve learned in the past three years, and if you will allow me, I’d like to share them with you.

*Sometimes you can put your whole being–heart, mind, soul–into something, and it doesn’t resonate with a single soul.  Speak it anyway.  You need to let that light shine, y’all.  Just because someone doesn’t notice it doesn’t mean it’s not making the world a brighter place.  Shine on.

*People can be beautiful, broken, hard, kind, mean, intense, easy-going, light-hearted, broken-hearted, funny, somber, sarcastic, caring, compassionate, salty, loving, oblivious, and we need to love them all.  It’s basically our most important job and really, it’s what we were created for.

* My family–every last one of them–are incredible people.  They might not set world records in things that will get them in that book that was the most checked out one in our school library, but they set the world record at loving me and supporting and encouraging and taking my phone calls even though they have all the things to do.  My children and the Fella have put up with my glazed stares when they’ve caught me mid-writing or mind-writing, and they’ve supported my writing by giving me space and time to do it.  They’ve read my stories and they’ve proofed my writing and they’ve given me permission to share our life with others.  I’m getting way more love and good stuff than I could ever deserve in this life, y’all.  When I sit and ponder on it all, in the words of my oldest, Aub, “I. Can’t. Even.”

*I set out writing this in 2013 in the midst of the grief of having said goodbye to my Mama suddenly and way too soon less than two months before.  Mama told me a lot of things–two of which were “You might need a nap, go lie down, and you’ll feel better” (she was always right) and “Go write your story, tell all of this in a book somewhere.”  (Turns out she was right about that too.)  Writing has and continues to heal me.  The words that I’m able to pick out and put on paper take a confusing, wonderful journey and make a little bit of sense out of it.  For that I am thankful.  Every single day of it.

*The ones who have already left this world and headed on up to the House left me a few things.  Even some that could be loosely called “family jewels.”  What I have discovered for the past three years is that the most precious things my Granny, my Great Aunts, my Mama, my Daddy, and the others I love, who are gone from my sight, have left me are the stories.  The memories.  The joy, the laughter, the shared tears, the tiny little moments and the big ones–all which led me to this place right here in this place right now.  THOSE are the jewels they left me that I treasure the most.

And I hope that’s what these stories, these three years of writing will be for my own people one day.  The ones in my family now, and those who will be.  Because my family is not complete.  We’ve all kinds of branches and leaves yet to grow…..we’ve got strong roots to grow from, and that’s a precious thing.  I hope that all of them will find something here in the meanderings I’ve shared to lift them in the dark days and something to laugh about on the joyful ones.

*Finally, I’ve learned that there is something worth writing home about in every single day…..if only you are willing to look for it.  (And believe me, some days I was turning over rocks to look, but there was never a day without something, some thoughts or words or stories to share.)  This is a journey made of many footsteps and many stories.  One day, one moment at a time.  The truth is that February 29th comes around once every four years.  It is special.  But if we are looking for it, March 29th can be just as amazing.  As can September 19th or March 3rd or November 16th or February 10th or December 14th or the twelfth of Everyday.  Each and every day can have a bit of light in it, if we stop searching for the big and amazing and star-studded.  The journey of an earthworm can be just as fascinating as the snow that falls from the sky, if we open our eyes to the beauty embedded in all aspects of the journey.

All this leads me to this.  I am taking a break from writing for I Might Need a Nap for a while.  It might be a week (I have folks enforcing this, so yeah, it will be at least a week), a month, or maybe even longer.  I will come back and write here when the story is there.  But I am not going to stop writing.  It would be like no longer breathing to stop writing at this point in my life.

mama blogging meme

One of my people sent me this. She will remain nameless but she can bake her own cookies and I’m pretty much almost done raising her, so there’s that.

I have a project I’m working on which I am very excited about.  It’s coming together nicely, but it requires more attention from me, and since that means letting go of the blog or my family…..well, in a saner moment, I made my choice.  I am looking forward to sharing more details when the time comes.

I’ve also had someone come round who wants me to tell her story.  I tried to explain real kindly that her timing wasn’t ideal.  That made her harrumph.  (That’s a real thing.  If you’ve seen it, you  know it.)  She crossed her arms and stared me down over her glasses and just nodded and kept on rocking.  That worried me more than the harrumph.  I have tried to placate her, but she looks up at the clock and back at me from time to time, and I realize our time to tell her story is dwindling, so that’s on my agenda next as well.  Helping her tell her story.  She’s a character for sure, and I love her.  So I’m going to spend some time with her.  Because that’s what we do for folks we love.

Unlike other times when I’ve contemplated stepping away for a little bit, I’m excited.  That’s how I know the time is right.  I will be back, as there are more stories to come.  But for now, I’m going to go to bed before the chickens are waking up, I’m going to read good books, I’m going to take long walks in the evening, and if anyone asks, I’ll visit and tell my stories in person.  Because that’s something I want to pursue as well.  (So yeah, holler, and I’ll come spin a tale or two–bring the back porch to y’all, so to speak.  Turns out I get a kick out of that too.)

Thank you for sharing the journey.  If you have a moment to click the follow button over there and sign up with your email, you’ll be sure not to miss any future stories.  No worries if that’s not your thing.  Just please come back to visit from time to time.  Like I said, all kinds of good things going on over here at the house.

But first, I might need a nap.

I’ll catch y’all later.  Make ’em be good to you.

Love to all.

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that door

you’ve seen enough of them slammed in your face
and those few that were slammed behind you
but this one
was different

you knew the possibilities that lay behind it
you knew the stories of what could be
and all the maybes and likelies

and still it was terrifying
because this one
this one

you were going to knock on
and wait

and you with your brave self
did
just
that

you knocked
and waited
and slowly the knob turned
and it opened
and there were the possibilities of all that you hoped for
dreamed of
wrote about

so beautiful with all the could be’s
that it took your breath away
scary and exciting and dizzying and amazing
much like looking over the side of the Tallulah Gorge
leaning in, but not too much, not just yet
taking time to adjust your vision
and find your balance
on the precipice of something so grand

a place where each step is measured carefully
climbing down to where everything,
all the precious little details
come into focus,
a place where beauty and dreams and hopes
all join together there in the place that few
dare to tread
the place that takes every ounce of courage
and letting go and trusting
and not looking down
to get to

you will get there
and when you do
don’t let the past make you look back at how far
you’ve come
instead take a moment or three
and make camp
right there
in the valley
of all you’ve hoped for

even if
it looks
nothing
like what you
imagined
it would

sometimes flowers
bloom in the
cracks
made by storms
long past

Tallulah_Gorge_(c,_1894)-_USGS_

Tallulah Gorge, circa 1894 Public Domain, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7632628

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

A Boy, A Basketball, and the Light

Some days a moment stays with me to the point where I need to write about it, even when I had my thoughts all set to share about something else.

Tonight is just such a night.

This evening I took Miss Sophie out for a walk.  Cooter joined us on his bike, since he’s still grounded but needed to stretch his legs.  As we wandered around the corner and one street over, I crossed paths with a young man who was continuously dribbling a basketball.  Up down up down up down, pass to the other hand, and then up down up down up down again.  He was good.  And he kept walking the whole time.  (I wish I were that coordinated.)

Cooter and I went down a dead-end street and back up, with all the stopping and smelling that Miss Sophie wanted to do.  She was in her happy zone.  Cooter pushed with his little legs and made it up the sloped street, pumping as hard as he could.  As we got to the top of the street, there was the young man with the basketball again, heading back in the opposite direction.  We crossed paths again.

Something or Someone prompted me to speak.  (My daughter says I am channeling my Mama when I do this.)  “Hey, you’re really good!  You play on a team?”

He turned back to me, and his whole countenance had changed.  Because of THAT smile.  His eyes lit up, and I was blown away for a moment.

“Not yet,” he said, quietly.  And then with a little more confidence, “But I’m going to try out.”

I asked if it were for the local high school team, and he nodded yes.  “Well, best of luck to you!  You are really, really talented.”

He smiled, ducked his head, and we each headed in our own direction back to our homes.

I can’t seem to get the image of his face all lit up out of my head or heart.  What had looked like a young man meandering along on an early fall evening was actually a young man focused on his dreams.  Working intently on making them happen.

I am glad I stopped and noticed.  That was a Gift for me to see.  That light though. A precious treasure.

We all have a light of sorts inside of us, don’t we?  We just need someone to notice that thing about us that makes our heart and soul shine, and then…..

Look out, world.  You’re going to need sunglasses, we are so bright.

Tonight I’m thankful for the reminder that people are always more than what we see.  There are so many stories in each one of us, and if we take time and are open, we might even be blessed enough to see one.  I’m grateful for the chance to see that light in the young man, and for The One who helped me to speak up to begin with.  I am inspired by this young man’s intensity and focus.  I am also thankful for the reminder that things are not always what they seem.  All I saw at first was a young man playing around with a basketball, when what I was really seeing was dream-making in progress.

It felt almost sacred, being a witness to that moment, all that effort.

May we all have someone who will see the light in us and remind us that it is there, and may our hearts be glad and filled with the drive to keep trying until we make our dreams happen and our light shine even brighter.

Love to all.

Searching for the Cinnamon Rolls

So this morning, the day after my girl’s 20th birthday, I bestowed upon her the privilege of having the leftover cinnamon rolls from yesterday morning’s special breakfast.  There were only a few, not enough for all three children, and since we celebrate a birthday all week–sometimes all month–they were deemed hers.

Much to the displeasure of her carb-loving brother Cooter.  He was quite devastated.

As Aub went to the refrigerator to get the sweet rolls, she asked me what they were in.

“I wrapped them in tin foil,” I answered. Which was hardly the truth.  It’s aluminum  foil now, everyone knows it, but some habits die hard.

She stuck her head in the frigidaire and began rooting around.  She pulled out a tin foil bundle.  “Oh please, oh please let this be the cinnamon rolls and NOT broccoli.  Please not broccoli.  I might lose my mind if it is.”  She knows me well.  When I roast a bunch of broccoli, I sometimes tuck the leftovers in foil for a snack later on.

Kinda hard to tell, isn't it?

She pulled back a corner and grimaced instantly.  “Oooooohhhh, it IS broccoli.  I hate it when things aren’t what they look like on the outside.”

Yeah, baby girl, me too.

Like when you meet someone and your first impression is that they are pretty okay and then you find out they park in handicapped spaces for the sport of it or they make fun of people who are different or that sort of thing.  Or when you think you’re about to take a sip of water and it’s Sprite or some such nonsense.   Or worse, it’s unsweet tea when you were expecting sweet.  That’s just not okay.

It is hard when people and things aren’t what they first seemed to be.

And yet, sometimes, every once in a blue moon or so, the opposite happens. You think–oh well, here’s a plain ol’ ball of tin foil.  Probably some broccoli or something like that in here.  And then, when you open it up, tucked inside extra special is a small bundle of cinnamon deliciousness.  Or when you stay up late talking to someone you’ve just met and you know instantly that they will always be in your life.  Or when someone you’ve known in the background for a while steps to the forefront and you find a kindred spirit.

Those cinnamon rolls.  They make the digging through all those tin foil packs so very worthwhile.

May life surprise you with cinnamon rolls and all the good things today.  And may you find yourself not discouraged when something isn’t what it first seemed.  Keep looking. Those cinnamon rolls are out there.

Love to all.

Twenty Years Gone By in a Second

The night before I turned twenty, I had all the teenage angst.  I pondered life from the small room I had on first floor in the dorm where I’d also lived two years before during my freshman year of college.  I can see the comforter and my peach colored sheets, as I remember sitting there and putting into words all of my emotions about leaving my teen years.  Sentimentality and questions were predominant in the lines I filled with my handwritten thoughts.

Tonight I sit here again, pondering the end of the teen years and all that encompasses.  My oldest will be twenty when we all get up in the morning, as she was born at 3:32 a.m.

Twenty.  How can that be possible, when I can still feel nearly everything I felt the night before I turned twenty?

This is the decade when she will grow by leaps and bounds into whom she will be.  She will finish her education and choose a career.  She will meet all kinds of interesting people and possibly even find someone to share the rest of her life with in this next decade.  She will do more than dream in this next decade–she will make things happen.

And that is mind-boggling.

I don’t have all the fancy words tonight that I did over twenty-something years ago. I won’t jot the thoughts I do have down with pen and paper.

Instead, I sit quietly and give thanks for every one of the past twenty years–each minute of every single day.  Even the hard ones.

This night twenty years ago when I arrived at the hospital, my doctor met me there.  The nurses had checked my blood pressure in the pre-admission room.  They expressed concern to Dr. B that my blood pressure was up just a little bit.

“Of course it is,” he said, in a “duh” tone of voice.  “She’s about to have a baby.  About to become a Mama.”

Exactly.

There have been many moments since that night when “being a Mama” has raised my blood pressure just a little bit.

And I wouldn’t change a single thing.

In the hours after my girl was born, people gathered close.  People who were anxiously awaiting her arrival and who have loved her ever since.

Every minute of every day since the moment she took her first breath, she has been loved.

I think I hold on to those two things tonight, and I want her to hold these close to her heart as well.

There will be hard moments in this life–hard days, even hard seasons.  Times that will raise your blood pressure.  There’s no getting around that.  But when those moments come, and they WILL, know this–you are loved.

Every moment.  Of everyday.

May that love carry you in its arms through the hard times and carry you on its shoulders in times of joy.

And may this next decade find joy chasing you down and tackling you.  All the days.

Love to all.

And happy birthday, baby girl!

My girl with her love.  So thankful for all the music she brings to our lives, and I look forward to all the music she has yet to play.

My girl with her love. So thankful for all the music she brings to our lives, and I look forward to all the music she has yet to play.