The Packing Up and the White Shoes

Twenty-five years ago today I graduated from college.  I don’t remember a lot of the particulars but there are a couple of things that stand out for me about that day.

The night before, Sister had come up to spend the night with me.  Though she is three years my junior there have been times in my life when she has taken over and helped me through a hard time.  This was one of those times.  We visited while we packed my things–something I had been putting off.  About midnight we ran over to Denny’s for some sustenance in the form of fried mozzarella sticks and nachos.  (Two of the basic food groups for us back then.) When we got back to the dorm, Sister told me to go on to bed, rest well for my big day, and she would keep packing.

Which she did.  I should probably call and tell her thank you for that again.

The next morning I woke up and hurriedly put on the special one piece dress/culottes outfit that I had splurged on from Karats and Keepsakes–the only way to describe it is to say it was completely and totally ’90’s.

And I loved it.

I threw on my white shoes, because they matched it best, and because well-it WAS after Easter.  As I ran out of my dorm heading towards Porter Auditorium, one of my classmates pointed out my white shoes (“yes, thank you, they are pretty awesome, aren’t they?”) and kindly “reminded” me that all graduates were supposed to wear black shoes.

Oops.  Did I miss that memo?

Nowadays all information at my alma mater seems to be disseminated by e-mail.  Back then I am sure this was announced in a meeting. I can pretty much guess which one it probably was.  Only my mind was in a million different places about that time…..my future plans, moving back home, saying goodbye to sisterfriends I would miss dearly, and how to leave this place I had begun to call home.

Two thoughts for the young women I know who are about to graduate soon–actually no, this is a message for all of us.

Pay attention.  Listen up.  Don’t get so bogged down in worrying about your future that you miss out on what’s going on in your present. You might miss out on something important.  And it might be more than a fashion faux pas.

And here’s the other, even more important thing:

Have each other’s backs.

No matter what.

See, my sisterfriend who called out to me about the shoes–she was in a hurry too.  She had her mind on the BIG THING about to happen.  But she took the time to notice and to help me out by pointing out my mistake.  Kindly, I might add.

It’s so easy in this world where pushing ahead and success are so valued to just focus on ourselves, isn’t it?  But I challenge each one of us to take the time to notice.  To make the time.  And to help.  Offer a kind word.  Let someone know something they might have missed before.  It doesn’t take anything at all away from me to take a minute and say, “Hey, those are cute, but today we’re all supposed to be wearing black shoes.”

And it sure gives a lot to the one who hears those words.  (Seriously, what was I thinking? While the white shoes matched the outfit UNDERNEATH my graduation gown, they stuck out like a sore thumb with my black cap and gown.)

Two days ago I helped my rising junior finish packing up her things so we could move her back home.  Home from the same dorm where my journey at Wesleyan began.  As I moved around her room, consolidating and packing, I remembered Sister and gave thanks.  Paying it forward seems only right, you know?

Tonight I’m thankful for Sister and my sisterfriend, both of whom were interruptible.  Both of whom set aside what they had going on–for a minute, for a night–to help me.

That’s humbling right there.

May we all be so fortunate to have such a gift in our lives.

May we all strive to be that gift to someone else.

Love to all.

It Was a “Pink Toilet on the Side of the Road” Kind of Day

The littles and I were riding down the road one day last week, and I saw this.

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There is no filter.  That is indeed a pink toilet sitting on the side of the road.

A rose commode.

A throne.  The can.

Whatever you want to call it, it’s still there.  And still pink.

I was thinking about it tonight.  When I first saw it, it made me laugh.  And the song, “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong” immediately started playing through my head.

Tonight it occurred to me that this is the perfect picture to describe my day.

Joyful–seeing this on the side of the road filled me with laughter and delight.  It’s whimsical.  Sticking a toilet there like that.  And a pink toilet makes me happy.  This is not the first one I have ever seen.  My Great Aunt had one in the master bedroom of her fine home.  It was color coordinated with the tile walls.  Ahem.  I had joy in my busy day with my sisterfriend, as we had fun sharing the joy and cookiebombing our sisters at our alma mater who are getting ready for finals and graduation and the next step on their journeys.  We laughed and laughed.  (Laughter’s my favorite pastime.)

Perplexed–what on earth is going on here?  This goes for the toilet on the side of the road and the state of affairs all around me.  As Niecy Nash said when she’d walk into a home on the show, Clean House, “Whose foolishness is this?”

Sad–What happened that this individual or family found it necessary to place this there?  It doesn’t make sense, and that makes me sad.  So many things I heard today just don’t make sense to me.  Things sure do seem broken right now–and all out of place.  Like that pink toilet.

Curious–There’s a story there.  (I came across more than one of those today)  And I want to know it.

Ah well, maybe that will have to be next on my agenda.  Writing a story about the pink toilet and why it sat on the side of the road for days.  Not joking, that first day, traffic moved a little slower as we were all rubbernecking for a better look.  I was in such a shock that I didn’t immediately think to stop and snap the pictures–it was our Princess who woke me from my mind’s meanderings and hollered, “Mama, take a picture!”

She has always been partial to pink, that one.

Tonight I’m thankful for the unexpected things that brighten my days–like a pink toilet sitting on the side of the road and all of the memories it brings back.  Or a visit and time spent with a dear friend.  The privilege of hearing about another’s passion and dreams.  Or a cool breeze that brings one more evening of reprieve from the gnats.  Or a little boy who still wants to hold my hand.

Despite all of the hard things and things that bamboozle me, and all of the brokenness folks are sitting on the side of the road, I am glad for the whimsy and surprises that make my heart smile.

Hoping you find a pink toilet to make you smile.

Love to all.

But First, A Selfie

After playing with her brother and Daddy one evening, our Princess came in and sat on the couch with a big smile on her face.  “Everyone should have a fun, silly, and clumsy person in their lives.  And a Mama too.”

Oh me.  Ouch.

Mayhaps I should be more in touch with my silly and fun side.  Clumsy–I’m okay with letting someone else fill that spot.

Last weekend I saw a phenomenon take place.  And I laughed harder than I have in a long time.  I even got a little silly.  Being with folks who knew you when you were young will do that for a person.  As we visited and sang and yelled our class cheers, I noticed one thing that put smiles on people’s faces faster than anything.

Selfies.

My oldest who is a sophomore at Wesleyan, my alma mater, is double majoring in Psychology and Religious Studies, but I am pretty sure she is getting her doctorate in Selfies.  She takes a lot of them.  She’s even taken one with the President…..of Wesleyan, which was a dream of hers.  She has the whole holding the phone just so and the photo ready smile/expression thing down pat.  Mine wind up fuzzy or with someone’s head cut off or eyes closed.  I long to reach her level of perfection.

The first selfie of the weekend surfaced on Facebook shortly after our Reunion Class picture was taken.  My girl was taking pictures of us, and then she decided to jazz it up a little.  She took a selfie with us in the background.

My sophomore with my graduating class at our 25 Year Reunion.  #selfiewithAub

My sophomore with my graduating class at our 25 Year Reunion. #selfiewithAub

Too much fun.

As the day progressed, she took selfies with different members of my class.  She even gave “lessons” on the perfect pose and the way to smile.  It was hilarious to watch all the action.

Aub and one of my favorite Purple Knight sisters taking a selfie with the President of the college in the background.  I love the sisterhood that spans the generations at our alma mater.

Aub and one of my favorite Purple Knight sisters taking a selfie with the President of the college in the background. I love the sisterhood that spans the generations at our alma mater.

And I noticed something.

Whether it was my Aub or one of my Purple Knight sisters taking the selfie with others on the front porch of Porter, they all had one thing in common.

The biggest smiles ever.

Aub and our sweet "little" Green Knight sister taking a selfie with a few from our Purple Knight class.  Double selfie! #selfiewithAub

Aub and our sweet “little” Green Knight sister taking a selfie with a few from our Purple Knight class and a Pirate or two thrown in for good measure. Double selfie! #selfiewithAub

Fun.  Silly.

That right there.

When someone came up and asked to take a “selfie” with another person, there were no frowns or waves of the hands as if to say, “No, I don’t want my picture taken.”  There was only laughter and then looking at the camera with a great big smile.  Or a funny face.

But no matter the pose, there was joy.  Laughter.  Fun.  You could see it in their eyes.

I like it.

So be forewarned.  I frankly think the world can use more joy and laughter and silliness.  I think we need more smiles and togetherness.  So know that if we are together, I’m very likely to pull out my phone and say, “Hey, let’s take a selfie!” because I love the joy I see in all the ones taken last weekend.  AND because the next time our Princess walks in here talking about silliness and fun, I want her to say, “Everyone should have someone silly and fun in their lives, just like my Mama.”

May you all find someone to laugh and be silly with today.  Maybe even take a selfie–

Spread the joy.

Love to all.

Truth and Stories and the Dear Friends Who Tell Them

Last weekend at my college reunion I had the privilege of sitting next to not one, but two of the women who not only knew me when but who also lived with me, bless ’em.  As we sat and remembered and laughed and longed for more time to talk, a couple of moments stood out that reminded me why they are my friends.

Because they are–no matter how much time or distance is between us–these women will always be my treasured sisterfriends.

Friday evening my Deer friend came into the concert after the lights had been lowered.  I hadn’t seen her in over 20 years I guess, but in that moment it was like no time had passed.  I went over to her and led her to where I was sitting, giving her no choice but to follow, bless her heart.

In a break in the performances, I leaned over and whispered, asking her a question about how something had come about, and she nodded and started to say something.  Then she shook her head, shrugged, and said, “No.  I mean, I could make something up to tell you, but no, I really don’t know.”

I am still laughing over that one.  I don’t think she has it in her to tell anything but the truth.  I love that about her.

The next morning she and I were standing outside with our Rosie friend waiting for the processional into the beautiful and touching Candlelight service which would induct the seniors at our alma mater into the Alumnae Association.  We were catching up and all when she said, “Oooh!  I think a bug just flew in my eye.”

Y’all.  Spring in Georgia sure was lovely.  All fifteen minutes of it before the gnats came back–bringing reinforcements.

Sure enough, a gnat had flown into her eye.  She blinked and rubbed for a minute or two.  “Just my luck,” she laughed.

Our Rosie friend nodded and said authoritatively, “Yes.  Actually, that’s right.  A bug flying into your eye IS lucky.  Kind of like a bird when a bird poops on you.  Only not as messy.”

Chuckling, our Deer friend agreed that she’d rather have the bug than the poop.  At the luncheon after the meeting this same sweet girl (she hasn’t aged a bit in 25 years, I’d hate her if I didn’t love her so much) had an extra sweet tea in front of her place setting.

“See?” said our Rosie friend knowingly.  “I told you.  It’s your lucky day.  You are ON.”

I just love her.  She has all the grace and beauty of her mother, and all of the wit and laughter that I love and miss so much.

Tonight I give thanks for all of my beautiful and sassy and smart and funny sisterfriends.  Most of all I am thankful for a friend who tells the truth and whose sweet spirit makes me smile, and I give thanks for a friend who can make up something that helps make all right in the world for that moment.

Kind of contradictory, right?  Gratitude for the truth and for a story. All in the same breath.

And yet.  It all makes sense.  Surround yourself with folks who love you–folks who will tell you the truth when you need to hear it and will tell a story that will bring you comfort when you don’t.

Find friends like that and they will be yours for life.

Wishing you all will be so fortunate–

Love to all.

A Weekend With the Gardeners

Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.  –Anthony J. D’Angelo

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One is not done growing or grown “up” when she leaves Wesleyan College as a young woman.  When she returns “home,” Wesleyan and all her sisters will continue to feed her soul and empower her to bloom and to continue becoming more–more of whom she was created to be–with love, laughter, and shared stories.  Tonight I am thankful for those gardeners who came into my life almost 29 years ago.

I love you, and I treasure you–your laughter, your hugs, your compassion, your frivolity, and your hearts.  I love that the women whom I started growing up with will snap pictures of you up to mischief one minute and then help you put things right in another.  They laugh over silly and joyful things, they tear up over injustices and hurt, they stand together and are strong.

May you each find yourself blessed with a charming gardener.  It’s planting season, y’all.  Let’s go love on some folks and grow some blooms.

Love to all.

to the next chapter

A star in the dark is thy glorious past.....

A star in the dark is thy glorious past…..

 

her past is my past

we are all like threads interwoven into the story that is hers

each bringing our own color and beauty and gifts to the tapestry

of all that has gone before

 

we are us

the ones who came young and left younger,

not quite ready for what the world might hold

but eager to take that step and fly

only just realizing that to fly one must leave the nest and

forge ahead

 

tonight the star in the dark was shining brightly

as we returned to the nest,

the stories were told once again

with laughter and tears

and the hugs hello lasted so much longer than

those goodbye hugs of so many years ago

 

as I saw her smile

and heard her voice

I realized how much I had missed her

 

and that with her

the light was brighter

and the melody more beautiful

and my heart was full

 

I had forgotten what life was like

with her

and in the remembering,

the tears flowed

for the time apart

 

but as we listened and laughed and shared

with so many things that didn’t have to be said

because this one who knew me well

smiled

and I knew

our stories would always be bound

 

and we set out to write another chapter

together

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Being Off-Balance

I have had the great pleasure and joy of having not one but two Wesleyannes in the house this weekend.

Aub came home, and her sisterfriend joined her.  The whole crew, including Miss Sophie, have carried on as if it were one big party.

And it has been really, because I can’t think of anything better to celebrate than being together and napping and laughing and playing and napping–oh yeah, and napping.  Because, you know, college is hard.

As these young women will tell you, the struggle is real.  One week back from Spring Break and I know they had at least three mid-terms to take this past week.  Underwater basket weaving was not one of them.

So sleep has definitely been on the agenda.

But so has fun.

This afternoon and evening the girls and I cleared a spot in the Nest and painted.  I am giggling to myself a bit, with delight, because when I sat down with my own paintbrush and invited them, Aub’s friend claimed she wasn’t much of an artist.

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Well, I beg to differ.  She did a beautiful job.  Hello, freehanded it.  Nailed it.

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As Aub was lettering, she got frustrated, saying she thought her words were off-balance.  I looked, and I thought she was doing a fabulous job.  In the meantime, I was getting ready to Mod Podge my words on my work, and I slipped up and placed it at a bad angle.  As I fussed to myself and was quickly peeling it off so I could move it, both girls looked over and said it looked great.

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They both suggested I write about being off-balance tonight.

So here are my thoughts.

We can feel off-balance, frustrated that everything isn’t a-okay-perfect in our lives.  The truth is nothing is ever going to be 100% perfect.  It’s hard to plan ahead on where to start so we end up with everything in exactly the right place at the end of the day.

However, isn’t it interesting that, while each of us thought her own piece was a train wreck and all off-kilter, the others thought it was lovely?

That’s all I have tonight.  What you think is a tore up mess and very obvious to the world probably ISN’T.  So just keep on keeping on, trying your best, because everyone has something go wonky at some point.  Grace abounds.

And sometimes when things are wonky is when they are most beautiful.

May you all find yourselves with just enough off-balance to keep things interesting.

Love to all.