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Magnolias and Memories

17 May

It’s the beginning of summer. When the air is still cool enough to enjoy being outside even when the sun is at its peak and high overhead. The wisteria and honey suckle are long since gone, but the magnolias are blooming.

Magnolias are not our state flower, but I have no idea why. They embody our great southern state of South Carolina. They represent us…Just go to any tourist jaunt and you’ll find something magnolia….a candle, a plate…a sign. They pepper our back yards and line the parking lots of nearly every place I can think of.

Magnolias = a southern state of mind.

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When my grand-precious and I take our bike rides,  her on her beloved frozen bike with silver tassels swaying from the handle bars and a fuzzy pink troll helmet a top her head, me walking briskly behind, we make a pit stop by the grand magnolia trees lining our neighborhood to drink in the fragrance. Burying our noses into the blossoms deeply, until the dream like fragrance fills our lungs and reaches our toes. They always bring a smile and a bit of amazement. Giant, bold blooms. Stark white petals, unfolding one by one to reveal the cone. The cone is a wonder all its own to be honest. Dancing with the branches, it releases the seeds (or carpels according to google) as the bloom begins to die. A last ditch effort for survival, I suppose. Hoping one of the seeds returns to ground to become a new. My grand-precious collects the seeds in her pockets as if they were treasure. “Look at this one Gigi” as she points to a new bloom. Scooping out the seeds of another to add to her collection.

I watch her and the corners of my smile nearly touches my eyes. When we first started this routine, I just wanted to point out new things for her to wonder about and to stretch her imagination. To ride around (and not over) the centipede crossing the sidewalk. To notice the way the stream moves and winds under the bridge. To see new wild flowers that were not there yesterday and wonder where they came from.

Today as I was watching her, I thought…when I’m long since gone, I hope she smells a magnolia bloom drifting through the early summer air and thinks about me.
The way I do when I think about my Gram….I can’t see a Burger King commercial without thinking about her. The lady loved her a whopper! Or the way my son does – my grand-precious’ father, when he sees a Sonic….because she equally loved a banana split and often used his visits to indulge in one with him! It’s funny the way the mind works and triggers memories.

Yesterday we were in Gram’s “neck of the woods” over on Folly Beach. We passed a Sonic and my 28 year old said “I think I had my first banana split over there.” We talked for a few minutes about Gram, banana splits and whoppers until the air fell heavy with the sadness that rises from losing someone you loved. My son said, “I miss Grandma Cox.”

“Yeah, me too buddy. But man did she love us. She loved us so hard.”
‘Yeah, she did.” He replied softly.

And so when I saw my little, beautiful, grand precious breathing in that big, bold magnolia blossom, I thought – I hope these memories get etched in her magnificent mind. When she is grown and I’m long since gone, it will serve as a reminder that she was loved. Loved so hard, and so deep, with every ounce of my being. Down to her toes and to the very tip of head. She is loved.

The way I do when I think of my Gram.

lina

 

XoXo,

Lady Chats A lot 

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You can’t always get what you want…

31 Mar

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From my IG feed: Photo Credit Very Jane.com

Ya’ll….We are living in crazy times…CR.AAA.ZY  times.

I’ve been on the search for toilet paper for the last week. We are not dangerously low yet, but we are creeping up on it!

I’ve gone to SEVEN…SEVEN  stores over the last week and have yet to find a single roll. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve google searched it to no avail. Even AMAZON.Freakin’.PRIME is out of toilet paper. FOR REAL YA’LL….WHY can’t I find toilet paper? Why is this a thing? Like a  real  thing?

I already feel like I’m taking my life into my hands when I enter Walmart. I try not to breathe the entire time. I have my sanitizer wipe in my hand. I wipe down the surface of the cart and nearly everything else. By the time I’m through, my wipe is shriveled and dry.  I’ve pre-mapped out my game plan in my mind based upon my shopping list and the store layout.  I’m half exhausted before I even walk in the door….I secretly curse anyone who comes within my six foot radius. There has been at least once that it was not so secretly ….

Now, I’m out there going in and out of SEVEN different stores looking for something I clearly took for granted just weeks ago.

My husband, who is already very picky about his TP, thinks he has an idea. When I say picky – I mean to say, we have to pack toilet tissue on any over night trip because he doesn’t want to risk using whatever they may have there, picky….SOOOO he says “well, we will just use wipes”….Nope…Those ARE ALL OUT TOO! Someone already had that idea, Fred. (That’s not his real name, it’s just what I call him from time to time.)

So I mention this  rant  to a few friends.  They have some they will share with me they say.   No, no, not yet. But I leave the door open in case I do get desperate.
Oh my geezee…

And then…then ya’ll

My coworker calls me. She is at the store shopping for her elderly parent and has found the holy grail! She asks me if I still need it, to which I practically leap through the phone YES! And, then – she offers to deliver it… To do a drive by and toss it on my porch. (Six foot Corona virus rules.)  I mean…How freakin’ great is that.

I have tears.

TP Delivery

Text between my husband and I after our delivery

You guys – I love my coworkers. I really, really do. I count myself so blessed that I get to go to work and spend time with these fantastic people. Over the years we have been through so much together. They are my work family! Today, one of them rescued me in more ways than one.

I’ve been trying so hard to find the positive in this Corona Virus mess. But truthfully, it is wearing thin. I. WANT. TO GO. BACK. TO WORK….Like physically, go into my office. Chat with my work friends at the coffee pot, argue with my work friends in the conference room, and have “ah-ha”, breakthrough, fantastic ideas to “fix” or “resolve” a seemingly impossible problem. It’s what we do. It’s my favorite work thing in the world – to make hard things simple…I want to go back to work (in the office).

I also want to go to the beach…I want to hang out with my girlfriends…I want my kid to go back to school…I want to go to the park…to the store without holding my breath….I want to stop worrying if my family and friends will get this damn thing…to stop worrying if the economy will ever recover and if my friends who have lost their jobs or those who run a small businesses will find their way back again… I want this virus thing to be over with already. The thought of it lasting eight more weeks makes my insides hurt.

And yet, with a deep sigh and adult understanding (I get it…I really do)  I will stay home – and I be grateful that I still get to work with these awesome people from my make shift desk in my home “office”.

If you don’t have people like this in your life – people who will hunt for toilet paper for you and throw it on your porch in the middle of a pandemic – get some! Get on it pronto! Seriously! It’s not to late…Because when you are stuck and a friend rescues you – it puts your world back together again, if only for the day.

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you just might find, you get what you need.” ~ The Rolling Stones

Today, I didn’t get what I wanted…but I got what I needed.  I’m so thankful for my TP Angel and for drive by deliveries.

xoxo,

Lady Chats A Lot 

 

I. HAVVVE. NEVVVERRR.

29 Mar

On a recent work trip to Ft. Lauderdale, I clicked on Netflix searching for something mindless and funny. I landed upon Fortune Feimster’s comedy special “Sweet & Salty”. In my hotel room, decompressing from the day, I found myself laughing out loud. Before I tell you to check it out here is my disclaimer: like most comedians, she isn’t for everyone – she isn’t PG. She has some topics that could raise an eyebrow.  In fact, she tells you right up front – it’s a salty show.… However, she is very funny and let’s face it, we all need a good laugh these days. In her act, she portrays her mother, who is fuming mad and is denying a trip to Hooters – and she says “I. HAVE. NEVEEERRRRR” with an emphasis on the “VEERRR”. She has this North Carolinian, sweet southern drawllll that makes this moment extra special. Being a southern girl myself, I just find this so on point and hysterical.

Clip here: https://www.facebook.com/NetflixIsAJoke/videos/1027856740929163/ 

 

Fast forward to yesterday….
Last night I needed a break from isolation and ventured into my neighborhood for some fresh air. Now, I wouldn’t say I exercise outdoors daily – but I do it frequently enough that I have an expectation of how things will go. Typically, when I leave my house, I don’t see a soul, and I have to pause at a busy street that leads everyone who lives here (all 700+ houses) in and out of the neighborhood. In the evening, I can stand at this corner for what seems like eternity as cars zoom by oblivious to anyone that may want to cross the street to get to the sidewalk. (Our neighborhood only has sidewalks on one side of the street. I have no idea why….Centex decided that we only needed one side, I guess. Thanks, Centex! )

So last night when I left my house and rounded the corner, adjusting my phone to log my steps, my eyes lift to see my next door neighbor in her yard with her son. Hmmm…okay. I wave, and pass the second house – and that neighbor is in the yard with her two dogs. I’ve lived her four years and I have never seen this lady or those dogs – a Dalmatian and a Great Dane. I’d remember those dogs if nothing else, but for their size! At the corner where I usually cross the busy intersection, another neighbor has his two boys were in the yard playing catch. The two littles are giggling and have such fun. I’ve seen them a time or two before over the last several months – but now they all wave eagerly. Mom, Dad and both boys. I wave back and smile.

I cross the street without a car insight (WOAH – that never happens) and make my way to our one sided sidewalk. There I see multiple groups of people walking their dogs, riding their bikes…running. We stay our six foot apart (Corona Virus Rules) with one or the other moving to the grass to let the other pass. Everyone is smiling, happy, and unrushed.

Then I hear Fortune’s voice in my ear:   I. HAVE. NEVEEERRRRRR.
• I have never seen so many people exercising in my neighborhood at one time.
• I have never seen so many walkers.
• I have never seen so many bike riders.
• I have never seen so many dogs.
• I have never seen so many children playing in the front yard.
• I have never seen so few cars.
• I have never waived so much on a walk.
• I have never smiled so many times on a walk in my neighborhood.

I. Have. NEVEERRRRRR. (emphasis on the VEERRRR)

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Listen, this Corona virus and all it’s rules suck. Huggers can’t hug. People can’t socialize at school, at work, at a bar….shoot you can’t even go to a restaurant. (That is our favorite form of entertainment.) Yet, I can promise you, people are finding ways to still show up. It’s clear that people still crave interaction -more people smiled and waved while I was on my walk than ever before. The desire to connect to someone, anyone, is driving us into our yards and our sidewalks.

It’s like they were saying “I see you! Do you see me? We are still here! We got this! We can do hard things! ”

So can I encourage you to take the walk – but stay the recommended six foot away from each other. Wave. Smile. Notice the little things – like the turtles swimming in the pond, oblivious to the whole Corona virus hub-bub, but still happy to be alive doing what turtles do. Enjoy the simple things before life gets busy again, and you forget to go play, to go on a bike ride, to let people cross the busy street to get to the one-sided sidewalk. Enjoy it while you can friends, because this to will pass.

Xoxo,
Lady Chats A Lot

Shutting down the world

21 Mar

Sometimes I dabble at writing a blog. Frankly, if you follow me, it’s been a minute… I honestly don’t pick the topics. They roll around on my heart and stay on repeat in my mind until the only way I can get them out is to put them on paper. That is the case with the writing below. I am not a super Christian, nor do I play one on t.v..

The world is a crazy place right now. Legit, crazy. We are living in unprecedented times. No one really knows what they are doing… What we should be doing….I find it difficult to follow those in leadership because while we are supposed to be “flatting the curve” we have no way of really knowing if it is working due to the lack of tests available… In a matter of just a few weeks, we’ve seen huge layoffs, school closures and a shortage of toilet paper. If you would have told me at the start of 2020 that a virus would shut down the world, I would have thought that was an impossibility. Yet here we are in the middle of a pandemic, and the Corona Virus is doing just that – shutting down the world.

It’s a scary time, no doubt. Worry and anxiety are at it’s peak. (At least it feels like it is at it’s peak – but let the chicken nuggets my kids eat run out at the grocery and I’m at a whole new level of anxiety!)

To deal with it all, I find myself diving deeper into prayer, into scripture, into places that I can latch on to other Christians to find hope before the curtain of darkness (which feels all to close) falls around us.

In my quest, I landed on a video where our church worship leader said something that just resonated deep within me. He said something to the effect of “We are all social distancing to keep the virus at bay. But social distancing is just unhuman.”

WOW!!! 

Yes….as Christians we are taught that we are created for relationship. Wayyyyy back in Genesis 2:18 we read  “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (NIV). We were not meant to be alone. Men, certainly were not meant to be alone. (I kid, I kid…)

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Here is where I know I’ll lose some of you…but stay with me, ok!

Say what you will but I believe in the spiritual battle between good and evil. I know there will be some people rolling their eyes at this point, and maybe you’ll even stop reading. I get it.

I didn’t always know about this spiritual battle nor did I believe in it. But it is actually in scripture. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of the evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:10.12, NIV)

Could it be then that this virus is a spiritual attack meant to divide our relationships? To cause distance between “them” and “us”? I’m not disputing that this is a REAL virus. I’m saying, could there be more to it? If you believe in scripture, this is not to much of a stretch.

So what do we do? How can we prevent the darkness from taking hold, from gaining ground?

1)  Spend time with the Lord. Let him lead you; calm you. My prayer is that you hear his voice. Dive deep into your Bible. There are so many resources out there if you are not a reader or find the Bible difficult to navigate. (I was there too – a good study Bible is everything!) I love watching Joyce Meyer, or Pastor TD Jakes. Find something that brings you closer to God. Pray on your walks around your neighborhood. Look for his beauty – and you will find it. Those are some of my sweetest moments….when I’m just walking outside, looking for something good – and God sends a special moment or ah-ha thought. Try it.

2) Be kind. Look for ways to help others. Don’t allow ‘me versus them’ mentality to take root. During a crisis, we will see the worst and the best of humanity. Be part of the best. If you have a few extra bucks, donate to a blessing box or food pantry. Offer to pick up groceries for someone who is high risk. Protect yourself but do what you can.

3) Spend time with your family. The ones that live in your house. Call or face time the people who don’t! Stay connected! Don’t let this time in quarantine be sucked up with hours of social media scrolling!

My grand-precious and I have a routine that she calls “relaxing”. It’s where I decide I’ve had enough of the day – and I go upstairs to the quiet of my room. I turn on the tv or read, but essentially all of my mom, work, and wife duties are over. I’ve clocked out. At some point during her five years on the planet, she has decided that she should join me in “relaxing”. This means that I’m not officially off the clock, but it does provide one-on-one time with my girl, and that is not lost on me.

Last night I said, “I think I’m going upstairs.” Her green eyes widened, and she said “I want to go with you! To relax! I can relax with you!”

Of course I said okay and before long she was snuggled under the covers with me on her Poppa’s side of the bed. She loves to learn (a child after my own heart), and we buy her these big learning books. She already sailed through the K5 book so we are onto the first grade book. This makes her sit up a little taller, as she says, “I can do first grade, Gigi!”. We get started on the first few pages, with me reading the directions and her doing the work. She has her blue crayon in her right hand, and she is giving it her all. Sounding out the letters “kkk aaa ttt …Cat!” and learning new words. At some point, ten-ish minutes or so in to “relaxing”, and she purrs, “I looove you Gigi”.

WorkThat’s it. That’s all it took to fill up my heart and wash away the day. We are created for relationship. We need it. I need it. Baby girl needs it. Hold on to your people and to God during this crazy time.

Join me in prayer:

Dear Lord,
I don’t even know how to deal with this Corona Virus. I don’t understand its presence in our world. What I do know is that you are not caught by surprise. Lord, help us through this. Strengthen our hearts and our immune systems as we put on the

“full armor of God…standing firm…with the readiness that comes form the gospel of peace.” We “take up the shield of faith..to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”…and we carry ”the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13-17).

Just like you did Lord during Passover this very time of year so long ago, please allow the virus to pass over this house. Over our friend’s and family’s houses. For you are not a God of favorites. If you’ve done it once before, you will do it again. Lord I ask for your peace that surpasses all understanding. I pray for your guidance, your protection and your wisdom during this trying time.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

xoxo – Lady Chats A Lot 

 

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An optimist, a pessimist and a realist walk into a bar…

19 Jan

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I’m not exactly sure how the conversation started. This very young, cute-sy, twenty something year old tells me how optimism is really the cure for all things painful. That’s not exactly what he said, but that is what I heard. My eyes narrowed to slits, I took in his perfectly coifed hair do, not a single black strand out of place. His slim blue suit was on point… He could have just stepped out of a magazine spread. Legit. I wish I would have taken his picture just to show you. No doubt, his broad smile had opened a few doors, and likely even more zippers. No, no he isn’t at all my type, even if I were single (which I’m not.  I’m WAAAYYY married, like 22 years of marriage – married.) That’s not where this story is going, but I would be remiss if I didn’t give you the background.

I stood there taking him in (judging this book by the cover) and wondered if he really believed what he was saying. Could optimism really be the cure for all things? Could bad things cease to exist by simply not acknowledging them? Had he been successful with this concept?

My response, “hmmm… I’m not sure about that. I’m more of a realist. Neither believing all things are good, or bad. But allowing space for both.”

He sputtered a bit and I continued to stare. I do that sometimes when I’m thinking. I stare …and blink….and remain uncomfortably quiet. Wanting to be cynical and ask him for the resume of loved lost, evaporated dreams, crushed opportunities….and yet willing myself to not go there. For one, I didn’t want to have to share my list (if asked)….and I honestly found it hard to believe that he had experienced enough to hold the conversation. I stared until I noticed him blushing and then said “do you really believe that?”

Yes, of course he did.

Would he in ten years? In twenty? I don’t know.

I know that I’ve learned that life is not all good or all bad. It certainly isn’t fair. Bad things DO happen to good people.

Positivity is such an endearing quality and I really do try to “look on the bright side”. I start each day fresh.  I forgive (even when I don’t want to.) I believe the energy you put out in the world is the energy you get back. Some call it karma, some say it’s biblical with “you reap what you sow”.

I also allow space for heartache. For disappointment. On those days I don’t simply suck it up and power my way through.

I feed it Chick-Fila….and chocolate. Sometimes vodka …I smother my self with blankets and wallow in the sorrow of it all. I take the time to be there, to breathe in the heaviness, and to grieve. I allow myself to cry. Nothing feels more lonely to a  person struggling than suggesting they barrel through to the land of sunshine and roses powered only on fumes and a fake smile.

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No. No, it is ok to be sad too. Some where along the way I think we’ve forgotten that.

The trick is, not staying there for to long. At some point, you have to bid it farewell. Pack it’s lunch and send it on its way. It’s even okay to offer a warm goodbye hug or two. He will be back….sadness, disappointment, heartache… They always return at some point, knocking the dust from their boots as the enter through the threshold. They find their way to your table and ask for coffee. While it brews, you wonder how you got here, again….We can only pray the visits are few and far between…maybe that’s just my realistic world view. Maybe it’s not the same for everyone.

The ebb and flow of life. It’s hard to appreciate triumph if you have not experienced defeat. It’s hard to know true love without first knowing heartache. Sometimes the two are intertwined and inseparable.

A realist searching for balance –  believing that to far to the left or to the right is neither right or wrong …it is just to far.

What lens do you use to view the world?

Caution: curves ahead

22 Mar

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This week I watched a recent video of myself that I made with my son.  I was shocked  at the image I saw reflecting back at me. I’ve had a rough couple of years with some things …and apparently, I am an emotional eater….or possibly an emotional drinker… maybe…I’ve found a fondness for red wine and it found a roomy home on my hips.

Over the last few months, I began moving the clothes that no longer fit to the left side of my closet. I’m still flabbergasted  when I’m unable to pull up the pants I’ve worn for the last 10+ years past my thighs….The pile on the left of the closet  is large.

This means I’ve also had to  purchased new pants – begrudgingly. My collection is minimal in comparison. It was either that or go naked… I had no choice in the matter. Yes, leggings work well and are cheap…but they hide the fact that I appear to be growing – out, not up. At this point, my ass could qualify for it’s own zip code…

So, I’m watching this video thinking – How in the world?  Really.  How did I let myself gain 30 pounds? When I look in the mirror I know I’m bigger…but this video.  Lord, please promise me that the camera adds 10 pounds…that I really don’t look that way in REAL life.

But the truth is I’m now heavier than when I delivered both of my children.  I know I’m teetering on the verge of no return….and I don’t know what to do about it.  Don’t get me wrong. I know there are many women larger than myself. This isn’t about them. THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL. This is about me feeling good, or not, in my own five-foot-five-and-half skin.

This is how my day starts:  I try on a new black skirt that arrived yesterday.  To tight.  I contemplated keeping it for “when I lose the weight” but more than slightly depressed at the likely hood of that NOT happening, I tossed the skirt on the bed to return later.

I then selected white slacks that I knew were a size or two larger. They fit, but the view from behind was not so cute….On went the Spanx – boy shorts.  Spanx, the well-known by ladies around the world (but rarely seen by men) undergarments that are made to make me look skinner.  Yet, I some how now feel like a sausage.  A bratwurst to be specific…But damn it to heck, I have to go with this outfit because I’ve already worn the other two pants that fit me this week.  Tomorrow it’s jeans….

I tossed on a cute shirt from a local boutique that I haven’t worn since last summer. It was a little snug across the chest but nothing terrible I thought…However, the more I moved my flat iron across my hair, I realized it was too constricting.  I no longer liked it.  Crossing my arms at my waist to lift the fabric….I find I can’t. I was stuck. I couldn’t get this damn shirt off my body.  I twisted, I tried….I grunted…I thought, “Imma have to cut this bitch off.”…For a second I contemplated running downstairs to wake up one of my children to help me pull this sucker off….I’m not sure I’d live that one down…EVVAHH… Five minutes and a few tears later, I wiggled out of  shirt looking like I’d been on a subway fight. Red in the face, hair a mess…

I promptly moved it to the left side of my closet.  My first thought?

You know you are fat when you get stuck in your freakin’ shirt. What the hell…

On to work. As I’m walking up the sidewalk I say a little prayer.  “Lord, I don’t like this. I don’t like how I feel about me. You love me and have helped me in so many ways.  Help me to lose this weight.”

Fast forward through my day.

I’m in the ladies room where a coworker asks How I’m doing. “busy. good.” I say.    I tell her she looks beautiful today.  She shrugs, not believing my words, her eyes drifting away from me.  Then she says, “You look good too. How did you gain your weight? Eating too much.”

Yessssss. She said those words.

Before you get riled up and ready to kick ass, please hear her story.

She is from South America. She LOVES curves.  Which until her recent weight loss, she had — curves for dayyyys!  She tells me, almost too eagerly, she can’t wait until she can put on some pounds.  She is serious…This I know.

I tell her I’ll shift her some of mine – If only it were that easy!   She then says with a large grin and wiggling eyebrows,  “I bet your husband is happy” as she points to my zip code carrying ass….

She is losing weight not because she wants to friends, but because of the chemo.  You see, she has breast cancer.  She wears a scarf to cover the hair loss which makes her self-conscious.  She has a hard time looking me in the eyes,  really – looking anyone in the eyes, these days.  Yet, I think she looks more beautiful than in any day prior.  Her warrior spirit is shining.  She is fighting and it shows. Without the distraction of her hair, which was indeed gorgeous, her eyes become the focal point, dancing in the light.  She is simply stunning.

I get back to my desk and think, “You know your fat when…”

Then I stop.  I close my eyes….I sense God’s hand…and I pray.

I thank God that I’m healthy.  Specifically, I thank him for my cancer free body.  With embarrassment, I apologize for believing anything different. A few extra pounds is nothing in comparison. I thank him for this lesson, for humbling my spirit.  I know I have some work to do…and I will.

Ladies, would you please join me in shifting our focus away from who we want to be and allow ourselves permission to be who we are?  Let’s not put our self-worth in our hair, our bodies, our curves – or lack of…

PS – If no one told you today, let me have the honor of doing so.  I love you. You are beautiful.

Put that on repeat.

Perspective.

In the Eyes of the Beholder….

18 Apr

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In an effort to declutter our home, I’ve posted a few items on Craig’s List.  One item happens to be a heavy desk we’ve had in a spare room for many years without use.  Because of it’s shape and girth, the deal required someone to come to our home for pick up.

We’ve met some characters during this process.  The last lady, purchasing another piece of furniture, and her family came in our home as if they were looking for a place to shack up. Each eyeballing and commenting on the rooms as they passed.  “Oh you have xyz, that must be nice….Ohhhh, and the high ceilings….I’ve always loved those” …..I half expected to find them on my sofa when I came home the next day.

While I find humor in it all, and I like the cash, my husband finds it more burdensome.  Not because he doesn’t like cash….just because you never know what you are going to get when someone pulls up to your house…. and that makes him a wee-bit uncomfortable.

After several messages and missed appointments our buyer for the desk finally arrived….thirty minutes late.  My husband is now shifting his feet, anxious to get this over with as it  dinner time….  And dinner time takes priority over all else in this house!

I meet the young blond outside and noticed his slightly broken English. He states twice in a rather short period of time that he is not from the area so I asked the question, where are you from?  The Czech Republic.

What the heck are you doing here?

He couldn’t contain his smile and his eyes danced wildly as he told the story.  Turns out, he was “finishing university” and applied for a green card on a whim.  He received the notification that he won! His mannerisms and body language  told me that it was a major, lottery size win to get selected for the green card. He was joyous…boundless joy exuded from his every movement.

So, he said, “I packed up my book bag and came over.”  ….

That simple I thought….Just a book bag and a smile.  A new country waiting for you to explore awaits.  How fantastically scary, yet tremendously awesome. Brave!  Good for you!

My husband on the other hand, is now looking at him as if he were crazy…Our travel book bag, for day trips, barely zips with all the crap we tow.  He is thinking…a book bag? Your whole life fits into a book bag?  He clearly does not share our last name!

The young man goes on to talk about the work he found while here, a German based company.  He has high hopes that he will be able to transfer when his green card expires.   He states he will one day need to go back home because he is a “child of one” and will have to take care of his parents. The duty understood and accepted without question.

As he says this, urgency builds and he spins on his heels. He says “I’m sorry. I just need to look”…..pausing…  “This is so beautiful, his arms wide, an effort to take it all in. I’ve never seen anything like this… but in the movies.”

Huh?  My husband I both twist and turn trying to see what he saw.  Nothing.  Our faces perplexed he said, “I’m living downtown and it looks a lot like my home. But here, you have grass and yards, and trees….It’s so…so beautiful.  I’ve never seen anything like this.”  He truly is almost brought to tears.

We smile back, softly….kindly….unable to match his energy.

In our minds our house is nothing special in comparison.  We bought it with the sole purpose to keep our oldest child in the school district we wanted him to attend.  It has never been our dream home, only our in-between home.  In fact one of the reasons we are decluttering is to prepare to sell it over the next few years.  Sadly, we’ve never been in love with it.

His words, his pure wonder and excitement….sit with us through dinner and into the days that follow.

I recant the story to my youngest on our drive to school. He says, “that makes me sad for him.”

“Why?” I say

“Because, what must his country look like if he thinks this is beautiful?”

Taking a few minutes to ponder, I respond, “You know what? It makes me think I need to travel more.  I’d like to see his country. He said it looks a lot like down town.  Because he is so used to that, the beauty has worn off….It just is normal…boring…to him.  Yet people travel from all over to vacation in our city.  Here, with green grass and birds and trees…that is beautiful, because it is different.  I may feel the same about his country if I saw it.  It may be so, so beautiful to me because it is different than anything I’ve seen before.”

He nods in agreement.

Thank you Lukas for the lesson.  I’m not sure I’ll ever look at my home the same.  Your words echo in my ears when I pull into the drive way, and I am grateful.

I pray my young man grows up to be just as courageous one day. Following his dreams with his smile and his back back.  Ready to take on the world, fearlessly educating himself through experiences.

I pray that my eyes continue to open wide enough to see beauty in all things… even the beautifully… normal things.

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#Epic.FAIL….

5 Apr

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SOooooo, I was being just a tad bit nosy last week…cyber stalking a former friend’s page….a little Face Book voyeurism, if you will…
Don’t judge! You know you’ve done it too!
Truth is, I miss her.  She is hysterically funny, loyal and just fun to be around.
She is also pushy, controlling and demanding.
We ALL have our issues, don’t we?
However,  for the latter reasons, and the seeping of such into my world, I decided to end our friendship.  
We broke up.
Truth is, I changed. She didn’t.
Don’t get it twisted though, she didn’t need to change.
She is perfect just the way she is.  Just not a perfect fit into my life.
Through a painful period of self analysis, I realized boundaries were lacking in many of my relationships.  Internally, was bleeding….carving myself up every time I fed the need to please addiction raging under the surface.
Something…had…to…change.
I HAD to change.
Truth is, I needed some time to focus on me….on my marriage….on the boundary lines that had eroded over decades until I no longer recognized myself when I looked in the mirror…only the pencil outline remained of a  perfect mom, of a perfect wife….striving to be even more perfect with every breath.
Truth is, I only had room for one other human on my tattered, old boat. It was setting sail…Pushing away from the dock, I wasn’t even sure it would float with the additional weight. It was already taking on water, puddling and pruning my toes. In the days that followed, we fought for ground through ragging  storms, through silent nights….at times our arms flailing wildly, threatening to capsize the boat.
There were days that I thought we’d die on the water…someone would find our boat floating, empty and lifeless.  Would they even know we were there?  Would our bones remain with the memories? Would they say a prayer for a marriage lost?
Motor less, we had to learn to paddle in sync to make it to shore…. slowly at first… Then suddenly, the water calmed. The sun a little less harsh….we found a bit of comfort in the space…some peace…able to raise our heads and recognize beauty in the small gestures.
Soooo, when I received a notification that my former friend accepted my Facebook friend request…I was stunned. I hadn’t sent it…or at least I didn’t MEAN to send it….
Epic.F-A-I-L.
 
I fessed up through email …acknowledging my nosiness…

A spade is a spade….an embarrassing spade this was, indeed…

I didn’t want to un-friend her….left it up to her to decide how to move forward. In retrospect, maybe that wasn’t fair….
I honestly didn’t want to inflict more pain….and secretly I was hoping that one day, through the slow erosion of the defensive walls we built for self protection, we would be able to find friendship again.
What followed was a bit out of a high school text book…Social media brings out the inner teenager, doesn’t it? I was mistaken to believe we could co-exist without issue. There is still to much pain…to much heartache….
Truth is, she is entitled to feel the way she does…just as I am.
These days, I try to live in a drama free zone…yet I’m finding myself stuck smack dab in the middle of this bulls-eye….
Unfortunately, yet unapologetically, this boat still only has two seats.  Thankfully, K and I are closer to land now than ever before.

Still on the journey but not lost at sea….

Deeply

14 Mar

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I didn’t realize I was angry.

It snuck up on me the way the ocean consumes the sand on windless day. Slowly. Inch.by.Inch.  Before I knew it, there was no place to sit….No way I could deny it’s presence.

I haven’t heard your voice in four years.  I think I miss your wicked sense of humor most.  They way you could shake me out of myself with something hilariously sarcastic..and the way I would laugh for days about it when the memory resurfaced…

How I sobbed when you left.  Strange and deep, from the pit of my soul, I sobbed.  It was unfamiliar and scary.  Honestly, I didn’t recognize my own voice.  Grief had stepped in to guide my ship. His voice interrupted mine…until  I graciously stepped aside.  I didn’t know how to navigate this path.  I didn’t want to.

However those days, and the days that followed, were strangely covered in a cloak of peace. It hung on my shoulders like a winter shawl, beautiful but painful to the touch.

I understood it was time. You were tired.  Your body to weak to fight for air.  Your lungs had failed you.

I could point wagging fingers at DNA or life-style choices….I could….but I won’t

I remember the way you would get so excited to have treasures on hand for T.  No sooner would his feet cross your threshold than you would say, “sit. I have something for you” fumbling with the remote to play back his favorite show, or pointing at the candy dish.

When our oldest S, came over to do lawn work in the spring and summer, you were thankful for his service…but you cherished the conversations shared over a soda the most.  Relaxing together as he cooled down from the summer heat, you hung on his every word.  We laughed when your calls for lawn service became more frequent.  S would grin, knowing that what you really wanted, was some of his time.  The lawn work was just a means to the end.   If S, a man of few words, shared any hint of insight into his life, his dreams, or aspirations, you held on to that nugget like it was solid gold.  Pleased and thankful that he trusted you enough to share.

You loved my boys…and they loved you.

When I hold this baby girl, this beautiful precious great-great-grandchild of yours….when I see the corners of her eyes touch the corners of her smile…I think of you.  I know you would have adored her every movement.

And…. I’m mad that she will never know your voice.  I’m mad that you won’t experience the love that circles in the air when she is around.

I’m mad that you left to soon.

I pulled out the old wooden high chair from the attic last week….the one we thought about throwing away a few moves ago but couldn’t. Couldn’t because it is the one you refinished for S when he was a baby. Who would have thought It would last another generation….as sweet baby girl ate her green beans, I couldn’t help but wipe away a few tears knowing her great-great grandma poured so much love into the seat that held her.

They say the measure of your grief shows the greatness of your love…..

I guess that is true.

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Rest in Peace Gram.  You loved and were loved….Deeply….

Brain Mush

27 Feb

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Brain.MUSH….

As a recovering perfectionist, I hate when I can’t seem to form coherent sentences…or when the words that are on the tip of my tongue don’t form into the vocabulary I’m accustomed to. I struggle for syllables, tripping on consonants…misplacing vowels. Apologizing for my brain mush seems silly…but I do it anyway….

I’m not one to set resolutions at the new year. I do however, set goals for fitness, finance and personal growth. Over the last few years, this odd thing started to happen…Something on the spiritual level started to tug…snag on my day until I acknowledged it’s presence.

It crops up on its own..taking shape before my eyes… and I know…I know it is my job for the next twelve months to work on the assignment at hand.Like the dutiful student that I am, I dive in…Hoping to gain wisdom and find peace on the journey.

The first time this happened, it was the year of practicing patience… THAT was a freakin’ hard year…I had LOTS of homework and on the job training. I still wouldn’t define myself as a patient person…In fact, I don’t do anything slow…but I’ve come a long, long way. I can wait in line now without turning into a two year old with behavioral problems stomping my feet and rolling my eyes.

Last year I worked on loving people for who they are…where they are. Also…NOT AN EASY TASK, folks. Some people are NOT that loveable…Just saying… But what I gained out of that experience far out weighs the pain….

I even became friends with some folks that only move in first gear….as their fastest speed…Trust me when I tell you this used to drive me C.R.A.Z.Y….

Seriously….BAT SHIT CRAZY…who knew they could be so loveable?

So this year, I was a little shocked when the knocking at the door wore a lighter coat….a trench, let’s say. Putting his arm around my shoulders he said, “Let’s work on being in the moment”….

Hmmm….Don’t I already do that?

“Not very well” he replied….

So here I am…Drinking a glass of red wine, sitting on my back porch listening to the birds chirp. I had a very successful work week, watching an event that took months to plan, come together.

I’m exhausted…and will allow my body to rest without pushing for more.

My brain is mush…and no apologies are needed.

Visualizing a job well done…and basking in it’s light.

I’m in the moment…and it feels pretty damn good right about now….

I’m a work in progress…but I’m in it…to WIN it…

PS – during the writing of this blog…I posted to soon by mistake (^ see comment about brain mush)…AND, I lost half the post having to retype it…only for my computer to do a random shutdown and software update….

Guess I could still use some work on patience…because I nearly quit…and a few cuss words may have escaped into the atmosphere…

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