The Little Light…..It’s not on, Clark

This is a public service announcement:

Please make sure your children know that any and all light outages should be reported to those in charge–namely, you.

New Year’s Day started off lovely. Miss Sophie and I had a long, pleasant January summer (Georgia–check the calendar please) walk, and the rain didn’t come like we thought it would. When we got back I went to our freezer in the garage, as I was preparing our traditional dinner, and I noticed the things didn’t feel quite so cold or crunchy. They felt wet and soggy. Oh NO! Y’all, at some point the power outlet that the freezer was plugged into had shorted or whatever they do when there’s a storm and it clicks off and has to be reset. I immediately shifted my schedule around in my mind, as I knew that my priority had to be on assessing what had defrosted and what was still frozen.

I went inside to put down a couple of salvageable items and to grab my wits and wherewithal. This was going to require both. I saw Cooter, who had prepared frozen pizzas for him and his sister during our “lit” New Year’s Eve party the night before. Remembering this, I asked him, “Hey bud, was the light off in the freezer when you grabbed your pizzas last night?”

“Yes ma’am,” he answered, pretty distracted by the pregame show for the upcoming football game. (Are you kidding me right now?!)

“Ummm, buddy, what did you think was going on? Why didn’t you come tell me?” I tried to hide my frustration. I really did, but ummmmm…..

“I just figured the light was out,” he shrugged. Teenage boys, y’all. Check on your friends with them, we might not be okay. (Just kidding–I love him as I love my teenage daughter, but their brains are still figuring out the circuits and sometimes I think they need to be reset.). Also, maybe we should be more attentive to replacing bulbs that are out in our home *try to remember if I’ve shrugged when someone has commented about a bulb being out*–yep, I might have brought this on myself. *sigh*

After educating Cooter on the importance of telling me when said light is out or not coming on or the interior of the freezer is dark for ANY reason, I moved on to my next project–trying to save as much as possible by cooking what was still cold.

Life is so funny. I once heard that what you do on New Year’s Day, you’ll be doing all year long. I take that very seriously. Just as seriously as not doing laundry or sweeping on New Year’s. I even plan out what would be good. Do I want to take a nap–so that hopefully that opportunity will present itself more often in the coming weeks and months? Or do I want to keep on pushing through the day, accomplishing all of the things to set a great precedent for the year? I even sat my people down talking to them about their task of unloading the dishwasher, so I wouldn’t be *nagging* on New Year’s. I definitely don’t want that to be a thing all year long.

So here I was. After planning so carefully, I was having to shift everything around and be a good steward of what we had and try to save as much as possible. In addition to our traditional black-eyed peas and collard greens, for their dining pleasure, I also offered burgers, macaroni and cheese, okra, broccoli, spinach bites, veggie burgers, and French fries. A veritable smorgasbord, not exactly traditional. It was and is laughable.

So if that set precedent for the New Year, here’s how I’m reading it. May 2022 be a year of doing what is needed to be a good steward of what we have, a year of being flexible in the face of a need to change plans, and a year of laughing in the face of adversity. Did it go as I had hoped? No, but my unplanned abundance brought family around the table–including ones who don’t live here, and there was laughter and requests for seconds and mismatched crazy food on plates. And today there were plenty of leftovers, as there are for tomorrow, so as we get back into the swing of things–I don’t have to cook.

Though completely unexpected and in no way wished for, not a bad precedent to set for this year. The year I have deemed as the one where I will figure it all out. Or at least make the effort.

Love to all.

PS–You might all be pleased to know that my putting off defrosting my freezer saved a lot of our food. That piled up ice really kept things cold. (So no, that is not a photo of my actual freezer–bless it.) Procrastinating for the win! *sigh*

s-o-c-k-s ~2022~ socks

It was nineteen years ago that we were preparing to move to Japan. It was a huge change for this Georgia girl who had never lived more than thirty minutes from the home she’d grown up in. Still, it was a wonderful experience, and we came home two and a half years later with another family member–our second daughter, our sweet T.

While living in Japan we adopted the custom of leaving our shoes at the door–something we still do today. As a fan of no shoes and flip flops, my children–two legged and four–know something is up when I put on socks, because, unless it is cold, I’m not wearing them. Socks on is my version of game on–about to take care of some business.

Still, I have a love-hate relationship with socks. Yes, I can even be sentimental about socks. I still have a pair given to me thirty years ago as a Christmas gift. I have a pair of Tigger socks my parents gave me before we moved to Japan. I have some I crocheted beads around when Aub was in second grade. And I have the inevitable, aggravating singles that I hesitate to get rid of because…..you just never know, do you? I used to make it a game for my littles to match up the socks when we’d collect enough to make it worthwhile. As teens, they aren’t really interested in that game much anymore. *sigh*

I was once talking about how I feel about socks with a friend of mine. I suggested (jokingly, because I’d never do that to our environment) that I wish that socks were disposable, so I wouldn’t have to deal with all the lost socks. “Socks are the bane of my existence,” I told her. She was aghast and told me so. She really, really loves her socks.

And that’s something, isn’t it? You can tell a lot about a person by their socks–the ones they wear, if they wear any at all. I have a friend who in college always matched her socks to her outfit–I loved all her colorful socks. My Fella enjoys wearing unusual socks. Sweet T delights in picking out socks for her Daddy every year. She has even found some wrapped up like a pizza and some like a burger, each in a special box. Cooter, on the other hand, likes his basic black (last Christmas) or white (this Christmas). My Daddy liked the basic whites too. He even used a Sharpie to label the matching ones–A and A, B and B, 1 and 1, 2 and 2, and so on. Y’all, I love my Daddy, but I’m not exactly sure what good that did except to know which one had mysteriously disappeared. Because that’s what socks do in my house. I think we have one of those special sock eating washing machines. PM me for the brand if you too would like your socks to spontaneously disappear. Truly, this is a great machine for that.

Recently, our sweet T came in and told me she knew how to say “It is what it is” in Spanish. “S-O-C-K-S.” (eso sí que es) Well, what do you know? Pretty cool.

In the past couple of years, I have found myself saying “It is what it is” quite a bit. I think it’s my way of verbal sighing. Or a way of shrugging with words. When things come along that just weigh heavy on my soul, things I don’t have control over…..so much of how I live these days feels out of my control.

And yet…..

I don’t want my children to grow up with S-O-C-K-S being their go to. I don’t want them to shrug or sigh and feel resigned in the midst of all that is going on around them. Are there things they can’t do anything about, things they can’t change? Oh my, yes. But are there things that people want us to believe we can’t change, but maybe just maybe we can? Good gravy, YES! We have to at least TRY.

It’s a fine line to balance–acceptance and advocacy. Some things in this life we have to accept, but some things we never should. I’m reminded of the Serenity Prayer–

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 
courage to change the things I can, 
and wisdom to know the difference
Reinhold Niebuhr

As I was thinking about what my word for this coming year should be, I kept hearing my daughter saying S-O-C-K-S in my mind, AND all the while I’ve been moving around a stack of mismatched socks this holiday season as I’ve cleaned and decorated. So I think it is only fitting that I’ve settled on SOCKS for my word for 2022.

Maybe it’s not so important that they match. I remember a company (Little Miss Match?) who deliberately paired together socks that didn’t match, and they were adorable. (I’m sure there’s a lesson in that for making what you have work for you, but that’s a story for another time.) Maybe what I need to focus on this coming year is knowing when to say S-O-C-K-S (eso sí que es) and when to put my socks on, ready to take care of business. Because the world needs us to do both, y’all. May we all have the wisdom and the courage to know which socks to go with when.

Love to all, and may you bless and be blessed in the coming year!

Thursday Takeout and Year End Musings

Thursday nights are Takeout nights.

Which is short for “Tara has had enough with the cooking of the things and needs a break, it’s almost the weekend, for goodness’ sake.”

Three nights a week our adventures and learning have us getting home later in the evening and one more has us getting home right around a late supper time. So Thursday, the last night each week of those adventures–that’s the night we drive through a drive thru and give thanks for folks who cook the food.

We recently have added a new place we can pick up from that is safe for our food allergies. Any day we can add another restaurant to our safe list, we dance around and celebrate with all the bells and whistles. It’s a very, very good thing.

A few weeks back, on a Thursday night, we went to the drive thru at this new place and ordered a smorgasbord of food to enjoy that night–and perhaps, when all was said and eaten, we’d be really lucky and there would be leftovers to flip for on Friday for lunch. When we pulled up, they asked us to hold for a minute. Gladly. I like to have the orders done and ready to relay, and, with preferences and requests coming from two in the car and one more via text message plus my own, I could use that minute wisely. It was probably a couple of minutes later when the voice asked me to go ahead with my order.

When we got to the window, they asked us to pull up ahead and said they’d bring it out. I think Text Message’s order required extra prep time, so there we were. Still, as I told them, “You’re cooking supper. I’m just really thankful for y’all because that means I don’t have to.” And I meant it. I don’t play with appreciation when I don’t have to cook. When you’ve learned to manipulate around food allergies in meal planning and prepping, there are times and phases and seasons when cooking is less fun and more tiresome.

We pulled ahead and waited only a couple of minutes. They were surprisingly quick. Also surprisingly, they had two young men bring out our food. One could have managed it I feel sure, but they both came out. They delivered our food, and then they thanked me.

They thanked me. Thanked us for being so nice about the delay and just in general, as “we’ve had some folks come through this evening and not be so nice…..so thank you, ma’am.”

That broke me. These two young men explained how they are understaffed and pulling double duty and how good it had been to be greeted with a smile and treated with kind words.

Y’all. I did nothing. Nothing out of the ordinary. My Mama raised me to say thank you to the person who cooked my food. My Fella was raised the same way, because, bless him, no matter what I put on a plate or in a bowl, he always, always thanks me for the meal. It was second nature to me to thank the people behind the glass window and masks. I didn’t even think about it–it just happened.

Sometimes my children call me “extra” when I carry on conversations with clerks and staff in different places we go. (Or should I say “used to go?”) But let me assure you there was nothing “extra” in my tired, worn out, ready to be home, hungry “thank y’all for cooking supper for us tonight.” Not one bit.

And yet–it was seen as such.

I’ve carried this with me for several reasons over the past month or so since it happened. It struck me how an easily spoken kind word can have a huge impact on someone, especially someone who is having a rough moment. In a past year, I’ve chosen the word “intentional” as my New Year’s word. I suppose that’s what I found myself thinking after that interaction with those weather-worn young men. I need to be more intentional with those kind words. Make it second nature to speak kindness into the air to pierce the darkness and heaviness and negativity. The only way that happens is by practice, speaking those words as many times in a day as I can. It might even–ahem–require I speak those kinds of words to the people in my own home–the ones 2020 has found me spending more time with than ever before. Kindness. Kind words. Putting them out there–making it as effortless as breathing. That’s a goal. (And I’m not gonna lie, some days, the struggle can be really real.)

Something else happened that night. We said good night and were humbled by their appreciation for such a simple thing as thank you. We drove off and as we headed back to the main road, my shotgun rider called for me to stop–she saw someone running after us. WHAT?! Sure enough, one of the young men had chased after us, for quite a distance (it was very dark out and I hadn’t noticed him), to ask us to come back for a small portion of the food we had ordered but that hadn’t been put in the bag originally.

That.

My children, 13 and 16, noticed this. They saw him and his persistence in completing his job and doing it well. As I maneuvered the divided highway to turn around and go back to the drive thru, they talked about him and the great service that we had gotten that night. Those young men had been extra EXTRA, and we noticed. It made a lasting mark on my people and their hearts. I am so thankful for that and for those employees and their example.

As this year comes to a close on this very different sort of day–this morning was our Christmas morning (due to Covid quarantine) and tonight is New Year’s Eve, complete with games (gifts from this morning) and fun snacks–I am thinking about those young men. I think about what made that night memorable, and it boils down to a few things.

Honest. Transparency. Appreciation. Relationship.

When I told them thank you for cooking supper, that I was worn out, I was being honest. My true self. Because Thursday night at the drive thru after a long week is as real as Tara gets. And in return, those young men felt safe being transparent about their evening. We all were appreciative of the other, and that right there set the stage for a good foundation for a relationship. And that relationship just might be why that young man chased me down. I really believe that. We are willing to go the extra mile for people we are in relationship with. Oh sure, I realize he might have been required to find me and ask me to come back, but the smile on his face behind the mask after that long run–that was all about the relationship. If ever so new, it was still there.

Whom can we be honest with about our struggles? Whom can we be transparent with and ask for help? Or offer to help when we see a need? Whom do we appreciate, even for the seemingly smallest of things? How can we let them know that? Let me just say, “I appreciate you,” are precious words to hear, especially on cold, dark nights when one is exhausted from all the day to dailies. They are magic words, because they can build a connection. And connections lead to relationships. And relationships? They are the lyrics to the melody of life, bringing meaning to and enriching our story.

Tonight as we end this year and turn the page on the calendar, I’ve chosen my word for 2021. (And no, the irony is not lost on me that last year’s word was “trash” and this year’s words were “make do.” I’m still shaking my head and laughing over that.)

My word for 2021 is extra.

Extra.

I plan to live it, give it, demand it, respect it, love it, and be it. Being extra has led to some of the most memorable moments of my life–and a Thursday night less than a month ago is one of them. May we be the people throwing out extra praise, running the extra mile to help someone, and may we live and love so extra that we are loved and treasured more than the extra packet of dipping sauce that is always a treat to find!

Much love and wishing you all a good year, one extra good day at the time.

Two words

In years past I’ve tried to find a word that I hoped to focus on for the year.  Actually, most years the word found me.  And just as in years past, 2019’s word “trash” did not disappoint.

I think it was about a month ago when a two word thought started speaking to me.

“No no,” I whispered to anyone listening, but mostly myself, “just one word. It’s a thing.  That’s one too many.”

But still the words, joined together in one chain of thought, came back to me.  Again and again.

~Make Do~

It’s something that I’ve heard all my life.  Often it was intended to bring to mind something rather pitiful.

“Well, they didn’t have enough such and such or so and so, but they made do.”

Sad sounding, isn’t it?

Making do implied lack.  Need.  Missing out.

But in my life, after watching my Mama make do all those years, I find myself reflecting on her living out the second word–the ACTION in it.

Mama didn’t say, “Well, we don’t have fill in the blank, so we can’t make that happen.” Instead she didn’t let what she didn’t have stop her.  She got up and DID.

Too often, I’ve found myself wondering what my next step should be or have been overwhelmed by all that getting something done entails.  And so I freeze up.  And nothing happens.

That, y’all, is pitiful.  Sad.  Lacking.

Not like my Mama doing what she could with what she had.  That was fabulous and an amazing example of how to live this life.

And so in the days to come, I hope that those two words, linked in my ancestry, will continue to speak to me.  And to remind me that the most important thing I can do is take action.

All the great thoughts and compassion in the world do no good unless I follow them up with that “do”ing.

And with that, I think that making do is one of the most beautiful things we can do.  It’s the way of those on whose shoulders I stand.  I’m thankful for their example and way of lighting this world.

Wishing you all new mercies every day, not just on New Year’s Day, and an era of making a plan and living it out.

Love to all.

 

TRASH

New Year’s Eve. 2018.

So much to think about and ponder upon and yet, I remember the old wives’ tale about sweeping. Don’t sweep on New Year’s Day or you’ll sweep someone out of your life. I don’t want to review memories and stories and sweep them back into my memories. And so I find myself not wanting to become all maudlin and auld lang syne-ish. I’d like tomorrow to be just another day, albeit wonderful as I will be surrounded by many of my favorite people, and make the best of it and try to leave the world a little better place at sunset than I found it at sunrise–just as I hope to do for the other 364 days of 2019.

“This is the day that the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

My Mama sang these words out more days than not, challenging us to find joy in each day and not take a single one for granted. She especially loved to remind us of this when we got down in the dumps.

With four children born in a nine year period, there were a lot of those days when at least one person needed that reminder.

So as I wish you all a Happy New Year, I offer you Mama’s greeting–Happy Everyday! And in keeping with my New Year’s Eve tradition, I share with you my Word for 2019.

TRASH

When I realized this morning what today is, I realized I hadn’t chosen a word yet, and I even thought about not choosing one. It was then that the word TRASH came to me.

Ummm, say what?

I wondered if it was an acronym for something that I was supposed to learn from. Truth…..Trust…..Respect…..ummmm, I don’t know. That didn’t feel right.

I thought about the literal trash that we put out by the curb every week and how it gets picked up by people who are too often under appreciated and who show up. We don’t always notice that they show up, but we sure do if they miss us, don’t we? I want to be present and notice the folks who show up. I don’t want to take them for granted. I also want to be that person who shows up for other folks.  For the big things and the small and all those in between.

I thought about the “trash pandas.” We have quite a few around here, as we live backed up to woods. One might say, and I have, that we invaded their home. We have some who come up and snack on this or that and they seem to think cat food is some kind of fine dining. Over this holiday season, the littles and I have had a basket of water, Gatorade, seasonal snack cakes, and chips in a basket for the people who deliver packages over the year. (The world’s best elves I call them.)  One night when I was locking up rather late, I noticed the basket was still on the porch. I saw two empty plastic cellophane wrappers on the porch next to the basket. I immediately just KNEW what had happened. Some little trash panda/raccoon had come up and discovered our little treasure trove and rushed back to invite a friend to join her. And together they’d shared a little joy…..and a lot of sugar.

I want to be like that little trash panda. I want to go and find someone to share in the treasures I come across. Joy multiplied, sorrows divided–that was something else my Mama talked about a lot. And y’all knows there’s a lot of joy in some Little Debbies and Oatmeal Pies.

I thought about the trash we come across in our day to dailies–and how important it is to make sure we put it in the trash can and get rid of it. Sitting something to the side with the intention to get rid of it can create quite the mess. Every night my Mama bagged up the bag from the small trash can under the kitchen sink and toted it to the bin outside. She was always wary of the critters (ants) that might come in after it if she didn’t. Not taking out the trash just created more trouble to deal with. In the days to come I want to remember to make the effort and take the steps to get rid of refuse when I come across it–let it go. Get rid of the trash. From within and without. Everything in its place and trash out the door and out of my heart.

As I was thinking on this word, I Googled the definition. And this is what I found.

trash
/traSH/
noun
1.NORTH AMERICAN
discarded matter; refuse.
synonyms: garbage, refuse, waste, litter, junk, debris, detritus, rubbish
“the subway entrance was blocked with trash”

verb
verb: trash; 3rd person present: trashes; past tense: trashed; past participle: trashed; gerund or present participle: trashing
1.INFORMAL•NORTH AMERICAN
damage or wreck.
“my apartment’s been totally trashed”
synonyms: wreck, ruin, destroy, wreak havoc on, devastate; More
2.strip (sugar cane) of its outer leaves to ripen it faster.

I read along thinking yeah, yeah, yeah, no surprises here until I came to the second definition of trash as a verb. “Strip of its outer leaves to ripen it faster.”

Yes.

I want to strip those outer toughened layers, let go of the mask that hides authenticity, and leave myself opening to ripening, blossoming, and growing.

I am not sure why this word came to mind this morning. Maybe it was because I was out walking Miss Sophie and appreciating and breathing in the beauty of the morning and breathing out a quiet amen. Maybe it was because I was listening or because I had let go of the pressure of figuring out a word.

Whatever the reason, this is my word. It’s the word I need for the coming days. It’s the word I need for living and letting go.

And I thought I’d share it just in case you need it too.

Love to all. Don’t forget to put out the trash.

And as my Mama said, happy everyday!

raccoon in trash can

Photo by Steve from washington, dc, usa [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

A Grace Filled Eve

Tonight I will gather with little folks (and a few big) whom I love right here in my living room, and we’ll debate about staying up to see the New Year in.  We may or may not watch some form of something dropping to beckon in 2018, and then the laughter will turn into sighs and we’ll gather up the remnants and used cups and crumpled napkins of 2017 and go to bed.

This is as good as I can do.  I don’t have big plans and schemes for this New Year.  If I start thinking of tomorrow as a day THAT ALL BIG THINGS MUST BEGIN, I kind of sort of start breathing a little funny and want to go crawl in Miss Sophie’s crate with her and wait for spring and for this “all great ideas and good intentions” phase to pass.

Because, see, my feet are cold, and most days I have to take it one day at a time.

My Mama said that is okay.

She said do your best, that’s all your Daddy and I ask of you.

And that I can try to do.  Moment by moment, minute by minute, hour by hour, and sometimes day by day.

But a whole year?  In one big gulp?

I’m happy for folks who are excited about the newness of tomorrow and the 364 days to follow.  But for many of us, 2017 and 2015 and 2013 and 2011 were really really hard, and we’re still learning a new way to breathe because of what happened when the clock turned over to November 13 and 17 and December 18 and February 10 and September 26 and May 12 and January 11 and all of the other days of the year when we had hard things happen.  For some of us, each day is a new challenge, filled with moments of learning new ways to live.

Grace.

If you are of the mind of taking on new ways of living and find tomorrow a good day to start, maybe grace could be a good one to add to the list.  Most of all, be kind to yourself.  And others.  When days are hard–for you or someone you know and those you don’t, offer grace and kindness.  Grace that it’s okay to say it’s hard and stay in bed for the day, literally or figuratively, and kindness in the midst of the struggles.  A smile, a listening ear, a hand to hold, patience, empathy.

Tomorrow we will have the traditional greens, peas, cornbread, and such.  I’ll try not to do anything I don’t want to be doing the rest of the year (though I’ve found reframing certain things has helped me in this old tradition), and I won’t be doing any laundry out of respect for the ones who’ve gone before me.  We will spend time sharing stories and laughing and remembering.

And I will do my best to rejoice and be glad in the day, as my Mama reminded me I am called to do everyday.

But for now, I just can’t take on the chunk of a year all at once.  If you are struggling with another day of celebrating and being surrounded by festive spirits, know you are not alone. We are all doing the best we can and walking each other home, as Ram Dass wrote.  Come sit with me, Miss Sophie will make room, and we’ll warm our toes by the fire and sit quietly and we will be okay.  And if tomorrow is a day of new beginnings for you, I wish you all the best. Some of us will be celebrating the dawning of a New Year and some will be thankful for making it another day and some folks will be somewhere in between.  AND ALL OF THAT IS OKAY.

Grace.

Wishing you all a good night’s rest, the energy to get up tomorrow, and the still quiet of peace settled in your heart today and in all the days to come.

Love to all.

img_0572

May we all take the words to my much loved and missed friend Denise to heart today and every day–“What people in our community need the most is for us to slow down and love each other.”

Umbrella and Steagles and 2017

Hard to believe since today has been cold as all get out, but a couple of months ago the littles had a swim meet.  It was one of those Georgia days that started out pleasant–the temperature just right–but rapidly moved into the “I’m sweating an ocean right where I’m sitting” situation.  The Fella was helping as a timer, so he was somewhat in the shade, but Aub and I–not so much.  We sat in our camping chairs (that have never been camping, but they have attended numerous sporting events over the years) and tried not to complain about the heat too much.

Because it was hot as mess.

We were using arms and sunglasses to block the burning glare, but there really was no escape for those of us who were watching the meet.  We were drinking all the water (subtracting out what may or may not have been poured on one or both of us in an effort to cool us off) as we cheered our swimmers on.

Just when we didn’t think we could bear it any longer, a woman came up to us from the pool area.  Separated by the chainlink fence, she hoisted her black umbrella up above her head and over the fence.

“Please take my umbrella.  I’m about to leave, but my son is over there.  He’s staying until the meet is over because his daughter is still swimming.  You can just give it back to him when the meet is over, okay?”

I was stunned.  Not only had this stranger offered us protection from the glaring rays of the sun in the form of her lovely umbrella, but she’d been paying attention.  To us.  Folks she’d never met before.  And she’d noticed our distress.

Of what she had, she was giving.

I’ve thought about her many times over the past few months since.  She touched my heart with her generosity and interruptibility and compassion.  And with her umbrella, which was the embodiment of those three things.  She saw, she noticed, (and those are two very different things), and she gave.  She was the umbrella.

Two days ago Cooter shared with me a story that he read in one of his books of football stories.  In 1943 because so many young men were being drafted for WW II, two teams–the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers–combined the players that each had left, so they’d have enough players to make a team.  Formerly bitter rivals, they worked together and had a winning season.  Though not their official name, the blended team was called the “Steagles.”  During a time of crisis, the ones who were former “enemies” banded together, worked together for the good, and created a winning team.

As 2016 comes to a close, both of these stories are at the forefront of my mind.  While I know my Mama would be fussing at me for disregarding the beauty and joy in everyday, several times over the past month or two, I’ve said along with many–“Good riddance, 2016.”  I know it hasn’t been all bad, but good gravy, we’ve had some doozies this year, haven’t we?

As I turn the page of my calendar tomorrow and greet a new day, a new year, I look for my word–the word to carry with me through the year, to hold close and inspire me, to encourage me, and to challenge me to, as my Mama used to say, “be my best self.”

For 2017, I’ve chosen two words.

umbrella

By Camera: Sternenlaus, Photo: birdy (selfmade by see authors) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 ((http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Umbrella

As I seek to make the coming year a better one, one that welcomes all, encourages all, loves all, I need to be the umbrella.  See, notice, share.  Offer protection, shelter, comfort, love.  And I need to pass along the umbrellas offered to me.  Pay it forward, backwards, upside down–pass it along to whomever, wherever/whenever it is needed.  And the really cool thing about umbrellas is even if you can’t afford to let it go, there’s usually almost always room to invite another soul in out of the rough stuff to stand beside you and be protected alongside you.

steagles-giants

By The original uploader was Coemgenus at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Steagles

This is going to be a year of collaboration, community, teamwork.  It will have to be.  I think great and beautiful things can happen.  But only if we are willing to break through the perceptions that are barriers, the ones that keep us from seeing how alike we are despite the world posting the differences on a lighted marquee sign.  While it will be way out of my comfort zone, I think it’s time to join up with folks from the other teams and see if we can do any better together.

Because better is what we need.

Desperately.

My last umbrella wound up going to someone on an exit ramp during a bad rainstorm.  Which is as it should be.  So I’m out of umbrellas and I doubt I can find a Steagles jersey on Etsy (but you can find Falcons ones, and that’s all I’m going to share about that because birthdays and whatnots are coming up, don’tcha know), but I can carry the spirit of them both with me and share it with folks I come across on the backroads and interstates and sidewalks.

Tonight I’m thankful for old WWII football players and grandmas at swim meets.  They both have taught me a great lesson–one I’m going to try my level best to live out in 2017.

Happy New Year!  But as Mama would say–even more importantly, Happy Everyday!

Love to all.