The One Everyone Needs in Her Posse

When you look around at your posse, the ones who are closest to you, the ones whom you call to celebrate with or to share the hard times, the painful stories–look around closely.  In addition to the ones who will call you out and keep you straight and the ones who will come out with a bat swinging when you are hurting, make sure you also have the ones who will tell you, in the words of Mr. John Paul Schulz, “Everything is going to be all right.”

Because when everything in your life seems to be falling apart and you are beyond overwhelmed to the point where you CANNOT EVEN, you will need those compassionate souls.  You will need to be reminded that, while it seems bad right now, it will get better.  It will.

These can be anyone from your sister to your neighbor to your Aunt to your daughter to your best friend to your cousin to your vet to the person at the drive thru. (You know, if you were the kind who told the cashier about your hard stuff.  Ahem.)  Find these people.  And when you have them, give thanks for them.  And love them back.

Tonight I’m thankful for all of those in my posse–those who know me and love me anyway–but tonight I’m especially thankful for these encouragers, who seem to never tire of listening (though, you know, I’m sure they must), and they are always able to come up with just the right words.  Mostly telling me it will be okay.  Just like my Mama used to do.

Love to all.

The One About My Dog’s Business and An Email from Pinterest

A couple of things that happened today–

Miss Sophie is a picky pooper.  I don’t mean to offend, but there’s just no other way to put it.  She will not go in our yard.  And she is very sensitive about where she will go.  It takes quite a bit of sniffing and turning around and sniffing some more and sometimes, even when you think “YES! Finally!” she turns around and walks away from that very spot that once seemed so perfect.

Some days it takes a really long time.

(Yeah, she’s quirky like the rest of the folks around here.  We’ve decided to find it endearing.)

Some time around the middle of the day, I got an email from Pinterest.  From PINTEREST.  Writing to me.  I just knew it was to congratulate me for pinning all the things, and that although my pins were the most fabulous, I had exceeded the limit of pinning without actually attempting to do/make/create one of them.

Thankfully, no.

It was to let me know that they’d had to delete one of my pins.  It had to do with the creator of the picture not wanting it pinned again and again and again.  It was a recipe for a special blend of essential oils to help with injuries.

Eh. *shrugs* Okay.

I was afraid it was one of the one of a kind crochet patterns I pinned that I am sure I will BEGIN WORKING ON TOMORROW forthwith.

The nice thing was how kind the email was.  Pinterest kept assuring me that it had nothing to do with me or anything I’d done.  It was all about the originator deciding they didn’t want their information out there.  But they wanted me to know in no uncertain terms that I had done NOTHING wrong.

Well, that’s a huge relief.

And it really was.  It was so nice to be assured that while something I did had to be affected, it wasn’t my fault.  And they went to such trouble and used such nice words to make sure I knew that.

These two totally unrelated stories have come together for me tonight to remind me of this–

We all have things–anger, impatience, frustration, sadness, pain, anxiety, fear among others–that needs to come out or we will go mad and become ill.  It just has to.  But instead of letting it fall wherever, we need to be deliberate about who we share it with and how.  All of our woes and worries matter, but we don’t need to let them fester to the point of blowing up and out at folks.  Be particular, find a good friend or trusted family member and share your stuff.  Perhaps sharing with a compassionate soul and getting it out in the open will help.  But if it should happen that you carry it too long, and you blow up at someone, take a lesson from Pinterest.  Tell them kindly it had nothing to do with them.  Apologize. And use kind words.  It does a world of wonders, y’all.

We all have messes and issues and troubles and woes.  May we all be as particular as Miss Sophie and as kind as Pinterest when we become overwhelmed by our own troubles and that stuff starts coming out.

Love to all.

Balls and Bicycles and Make-Believe

This afternoon was a joy-filled one on our street.  The weather was close to perfect, and all the children were out playing.  A favorite pastime seems to be bouncing a large ball back and forth to each other or playing keep away with it.  Some of them have started up two or three person football games.  That’s Cooter’s favorite.  He wasn’t sure about it, until one of his friends told him, “Act like he just called you a name, and then you’ll be mad and you can tackle him.”

Good times. Good times.

At least until someone’s feelings or body parts get hurt.

Even then, this crew seems to get over their bruised arms, legs, and spirits pretty quickly.  It makes my heart glad to see them all out there, coming up with different things to play.  I am really thankful for these friends of my children and their families.  I was so enchanted by it this evening that I put off tackling Mt. Washmore (and it’s not because it’s my friend or anything), and I went out to sit on the front steps.  I took Miss Sophie with me, because she enjoys hanging out there too.

She is a pretty timid creature.  She is buoyant and loves our family people, but when it comes to others, she does this jump forward, jump back thing with her tail wagging that gets even more confusing when she starts barking at the new person.  She means well, she’s just socially awkward sometimes.  Much like the rest of us.

As we sat there and she did what she does best, sniffed everything in sight, our new cat who adopted us came up to say hello.  She is beautiful and is about as social as any cat can be, but she has her moments like all cats.  We have given her the moniker of “Luvvy” as in Mrs. Howell (from Gilligan’s Island, y’all) because she has this “fur muff” around her neck.  Very luxurious.  Miss Sophie finds her fascinating and announces her presence whenever she notices the feline through the window–sitting on the outside windowsill, sunning on the back porch, holding court on the front porch, wherever.

While we were enjoying the evening on the steps, Luvvy came up and walked close enough to get Sophie’s attention.  My fluffy girl tried to sniff certain areas as a way of saying hello, and Luvvy had no part of it.  Instead she walked by, tail high in the air, and climbed up on the cedar tree stump from where I grew up, Blackberry Flats.

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And that cat turned her head.  Away. From. My. Pup.

She knew too.  She knew exactly what she was doing.

And poor Sophie.  She kept wagging her tail and inching closer and even making little sounds of “Hey, notice me!  I’m right here. Will you be my friend?”

Bless her.

Luvvy finally had enough and slowly stood up, stretched, and hopped off and wandered away.

Poor Sophie.

She just wanted a friend.

Tonight I’m thankful for the friendships that have formed between the children on our street.  I’ve gone through a similar roller coaster of emotions I did with Miss Sophie with all of my children, “I just want a friend.  I want somebody to play with me.  I wish I had somebody to hang out with.”  Heartbreaking.

But no more.  I’m thankful for the balls and bicycles and make-believe that fill our afternoons and evenings.  I’m thankful for laughter and tumbling in the front yard and dance steps choreographed and dreams created about rooming together at college and living next door to each other many, many years from now.  These friends are the ones that sustain my crew and bring them all so much joy.

May we all find someone who will welcome us and toss us the ball or sit and giggle with us, just enjoying the time spent together.

Love to all.

for the fun of it, another pup looking for a feline friend–

a long time gone

the thing about special days now
is that they will never be the same
without hearing your voice
and that phone call at exactly
the same time every single year

the sound of your voice echoes
in the silence
that inevitably comes
and the moment passes, another year
and still
my heart misses yours

as though it were only yesterday
and you were not a long time gone
from this world
released from the pains
and worries from before
that day that took you away

as the day draws to a close
the darkness suits, doesn’t it
to think of this life without you
from here on out

doesn’t seem like something I’m going to be able to do

and yet I will
of course
and most days I can
but when that phone doesn’t ring
and I don’t hear your voice
at all
on the day you never once let pass
by
without showing your love
or teasing me about getting old

it is almost too much to bear

I don’t have you to call and tell
how much this hurts anymore–
that might be the hardest of all

my friend, part of my heart, is apart
from me
and this life will never be the same again

gone is a complete sentence
to which there is no reply

Three of My Favorite Words

This past week has been filled with texts, posts, e-mails, phone calls, and face to face expressions of three of the most precious words to hear–

“Are you okay?”

I’ve said ’em, I’ve read ’em, I’ve typed ’em, and I’ve even skyped ’em.

Are. You. Okay?

Aren’t they powerful?  To be in the midst of a hard time and have someone come in, take your hands, and look you in the eye and ask that question.  Someone who really cares about your answer.  Or open up an email notification and those be the introductory words.  Or get a text out of the blue with those words or their very close first cousin words–

“How are you?”

It’s been a hard week in many ways, but it has had its brighter moments.  Most of those involve someone I love and one or the other of these three word questions.  In three words I feel embraced, cared about, and like I matter to someone.  With those three words I am seeking to convey all of those things, but mostly I am saying, “I love you and I really want to know that you are okay.”

Because sometimes okay is good enough, okay is real and raw and honest, acknowledging that while all might not be perfect or pleasant or going the way I’d like for it to, I will go on. I will move forward.  Okay is I might be curled up in a ball right now, but I will eat a bite in a little while and I will get dressed and I will do the next thing.  Okay is hesitantly hopeful–okay says I’m here, I showed up, and I will do it again tomorrow.

And in weeks like this, I’ll take it.

I’m okay.  Thanks for checking.

How are you?

Love to all.

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P.S. Before I hit publish, I was doing the nightly wrapping up around here, and I remembered this that made me smile.  About the time Daddy became bedridden in his fight with lymphoma, I came across a Youtube personality, Glozell. (watch this one or this one if you are curious) She made me laugh, but what I remember the most was her introduction.  “Is you okay?  Is you? Good. ‘Cause I wanted to know.”  I started greeting Daddy that way, and it made him laugh.  And because I really did want to know if he was, contextually speaking, okay.  Okay was a gift in those days.  And some days it still is.  Love to all.

Get a Job

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Tonight we were all sitting for a few minutes after swim lessons/practice watching a show together, when Cooter piped up and told his Daddy, “I need fifty dollars.”

(Yeah, I got no idea.)

Before I could say anything in response or cut off the words I was sure were coming from the Fella, sure enough, his Daddy immediately tossed back, “Get a job.”

Uh oh.

Now he’s done it.

Two weeks ago when we were getting ready to leave on our whirlwind trip to Texas, I asked our sweet neighborfriend and her younger son if he would mind feeding our “outside, half feral, roams the neighborhood” cat while we were gone.  He loves cats–I mean, he REALLY loves them–so he eagerly said yes.  The two of them came over to get the details and collect the food the night before we flew out.  As they were walking back to their house, they turned and waved, as I hollered, “Thank you so much! We appreciate y’all!”

Then my little buddy called back, waving, “That’s okay.  You’ll pay me.  Like a million dollars?”

His sweet Mama was mortified.  She immediately started correcting him and apologizing to me at the same time.  She’s good like that.

Bless her, I thought it was funny.  I waved it off, laughing.  They walked home “discussing” his fee.

After we got home, I went over to thank them properly.  I didn’t have a million dollars, but I did want him to know he was appreciated so I had a little something from Texas in hand.

His Mama started laughing and told me what happened after they got home.  She had explained to him that you don’t charge neighbors for helping out like that.  That it was kind and part of being a good neighbor to help each other.

“But Mom,” he explained, “Dad is always telling us to get a job and make some money.”

Well there you go.  Exactly right.  Can’t argue with that logic.

Y’all.  That is just too precious right there, isn’t it? They–all these little people–are listening.

So I fully expect Cooter to come up with something I need to pay him for tomorrow.  Since his Daddy told him to get a job and all.  No telling what it is for, but I expect I’ll hear about that tomorrow too.

Tonight I’m thankful for children who lighten the load with the way they see the world and the laughter they bring.  I give thanks for good neighbors and children willing to work for their dollars.  Most of all, I’m thankful my sweet neighborfriends have moved back after two years of being away.  We have missed them very much. Now they are back to being the Pineapple people, and I’m on a very special “birfday” list again.  Life is good.

Love to all.

A Legacy of Loving

Thursday evening as we pulled into the middle school parking lot, arriving for the littles’ gymnastic recital, Cooter piped up from the backseat, “I wish Maemae weren’t dead.”

Oh my heart.  Bless him.  Me too, baby boy.  Me too.

I’m not sure what prompted him to feel that, but maybe it’s because she was there for his very first gymnastics recital in 2012.  Maybe he was seeing her walking down that sidewalk with us after it was all over, her face beaming and telling him how wonderful he was–I know that memory kept playing over and over in my heart as we drove in and parked.

His sister agreed with him.  My Mama had a special gift of making the one she was talking to feel extra special.  Valued. Loved.  Wanted.  A treasure indeed.  And she never accepted you putting yourself or anyone else down.  Not ever.

She also told me when I needed to get off my pity pot.  But that’s a story for another night.

So this is for my children–the ones she loved, the ones she said made her life “grand”–

Maemae loved you.  She still loves you.  You never failed to put a smile on her face and a song in her heart.  She wanted you since the moment she found out you were on your way.  And she never stopped wanting you–as her grandchild, in her home, sitting next to her, in her heart.

She never stopped, and she sure shooting hasn’t stopped now.

There are going to be these moments in your life when the pain of her being gone is going to be a little harder than normal, like these past few days–special events, moments that make you think of her, or sometimes, for no reason at all.

And here’s what I want you to remember.

Maemae left you a legacy.  A legacy of love.  She loved you so strongly that when you sit and think about her and all you did together, I hope it puts a smile on your face.  Because you never failed to put one on hers.

But she also left you a legacy of loving.  She spent years and years building relationships with people who loved her back and who now love you.  Because you are hers and because you are pretty amazing people all on your own.  Look around at who is there when you have special events.  Look at who answers the phone when you have something to share.  Look at who blesses your heart when times are hard.  Look at who comes and moves you out of your dorm room or listens to you play piano over the phone or on a video.  Look at who listens to your stories and plays with you.  Look at who comments on your posts or sits and makes you laugh.  Look at Who. Shows. Up.

You were loved.  And you still are.

None of those who are here loving you now could replace her, and none of them want to.  But what they can do and WANT TO DO is love you and celebrate you and bring you comfort when you are sad.  And remind you that you are a treasure.

How lucky we are that Maemae was so good at loving people that she left us with all of these folks who love us too!

Our Princess’ dance teacher retired last year.  She returned this afternoon to watch “her girls” perform in their recital.  It was a loving gesture, and the girls were so excited to see her and for her to see what they have learned in a year’s time.

As she and I stood backstage watching them perform, it struck me how fortunate we are that Miss B did such a wonderful job of loving and teaching our girls.  These girls love her and were sad when she decided to retire, but because she passed the love of dancing along to them, they had what they needed to continue with dance when she wasn’t there.

See, if she had empowered them only to love her, none of them would have returned.  What a selfless gift she gave them when she made it bigger than her…..these girls’ love of dance is her legacy.

Maemae was like that with love.  She loved us fiercely and taught us to do the same, but instead of always wanting all that love for herself, she taught us to send it flowing outward to others and others and more others.  It didn’t stop with her, and because of how she loved, it never will.

That is her legacy.

Tonight I am thankful for women who teach and love in such a way that their absence doesn’t stop all the good things they have taught us.  I give thanks that my children remember and miss their Maemae, but even more I am thankful for those who continue to love them in the here and now.  I know she would be the last one wanting them sad on special days like these, and I love her so much for building relationships that feed our souls and warm our hearts and celebrate alongside us.  I don’t know what I would do without those smiling faces in the audience, those loving voices on the phone, the laughter and the willingness to step in and help.  I don’t know what I would do without those who show up.

And I’m thankful I don’t have to.

May we all love and teach the ones around us such that we don’t have to be around for the words and lessons to still matter and guide their hearts.

Love to all.

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