Christmas to You

Hi Mom and Dad,

It’s me. And it’s Christmas. A time of year that is for those of us who have lost loved ones. Oh, and I do miss you so much that my heart aches. But I have to tell you something – I am happy. Blissfully, wonderfully, ridiculously happy. For the first time in many years. Happy like I was I my early 20’s, carefree and loved. I wish you could see my smile, and hear it in my voice. But maybe you can as you watch over me.

Even with this happy, wonderful life, I still miss you. No matter how long it has been, no matter how happy I am, I will never stop missing you guys. There ar still so many times I have thought, “I have tell call and tell Mom about this or that…” Even after this many years. I suppose I’ll always want to pick up the phone and call you.

And it’s Christmas Eve, and in my new life, there is so much love and happiness. So many people to see, and love, and gifts to wrap and wonderful to experience. And yet, I still think back to our Christmas Eves, when all of us gathered at your house, wrapping and laughing and living and drinking wine, and sneaking things into each others Christmas stockings. And how to integrate some of our traditions into my life with this family now.

And all of your recipes and cooking and reading your book. And so much love. The amount of love you raised us with is truly amazing. But I guess that originated from your faith in God and your love for each other.

I just wanted to let you know that I am happy this year. In the new house, with my wonderful man, making this life together. But I will always love and miss you guys. And I love when you visit my in my dreams. And I really love when we get a chance to hug in those dreams. No matter how long you live, there can never be enough hugs.

This is what you always wanted for me. I am here. And I hope that you can see me. I hope that you still send me signs, hope that you keep watching over us. And I hope you are proud of me. Because the older I get, the more proud I am of the two of you, and all that you did, and were, and taught me.

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad. I will love you forever and miss you always.

Don’t Mold Around Here No More

With any new beginning there will naturally come challenges and obstructions. Do not become discouraged by them, do not fall into fear and doubt, but rather, cleave in faith and continue on, confident that the Divine is with you and that you will overcome whatever challenges and obstructions that arise. Remember, the challenges and obstructions we encounter are integral to a greater progress and our eventual success. – Gamze Ridley

Today I received the final word on my House of Mold…not only is it full of toxic mold, but I cannot return for any reason without a Hazmat suit because the infestation has permeated ever part of the house.  It is not safe to breath even for 5 minutes.  The house must be condemned and destroyed to make sure no one else suffers further illness. It is also recommended that I get further medical testing to determine the level of permanent damage to lungs and respiratory system.

Hearing this was rather overwhelming, even though on some level it was expected. My heart went into my throat and I could feel tears rolling down my cheeks.  Yes I cried.  I just didn’t expect it to be that…bad. And I threw myself the obligatory pity party for the remainder of the evening, sending out text messages, telling friends, discussing what it all meant.

And then I realized, this isn’t the end of the world. I will be fine. While the idea of living in that house for 6 months, when it’s not safe to breath for 5 minutes is terrifying, I am OK. Having my house condemned isn’t going to kill me, neither is walking away from the disaster and giving it back to the bank. Though it is not how I wanted it to be, “it is what it is and it ain’t getting no isser.”

And with that the pity party was done and I thought why not remain positive? After all, I have been extremely lucky thus far. Things could have always been worse. I could have been a lot sicker with many more health issues; I found the mold quickly when it could have taken years.

Part of  life is just getting through it. Things won’t always go your way. There will be adversities to overcome, challenges to meet, and difficulties to chase. And that’s OK.  Continual smooth waters are not conducive to forming a well rounded person. We must rise to overcome in order to find out just how high the human spirit can sore.

And while we may have a few scars or be weary from those hard times, they are worth it. For it is that which makes us great, which makes us richer, deeper, finer, more compassionate beings. It is what makes us our most human, and our most beautiful.

So, I will appreciate, maybe even celebrate to condemnation of my house and it’s subsequent foreclosure. Because that means I lived through it and came out the other side. I will appreciate the tears that may fall between now and then, for it means that I can feel deep emotion. I will appreciate the experience of the coming legal proceedings and pray for justice. And I will appreciate and celebrate all that this life gives me, because every day I breath is a gift. And I will appreciate the scars left behind, because they only add to the beauty and splendor of being human. And in being human, I find Peace.

And I will look forward and not fear the future. I don’t know what is coming in the days, weeks and even years ahead. But I am here. And this is a new beginning.

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.’ ― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

The Oposite of Seasons

This is the season for parties, festivities, socializing, seeing old friends, making new friends and just a lot of hustle and bustle. It is a season of extraverts. But this season I am feeling anything but extravert.

This year I am feeling very be cozy and warm mama bearish. I just want to be home, or with a close circle of friends. Yes, the invites have been pouring in for this and that.  And surely these are people whose company I have enjoyed in the past. But my couch is so very comfortable and the fire is warm.

This year, after being terrible displaced from my home due to toxic mold, I am more appreciative of e safe place to hang my hat.  I want to make this space warm and welcoming to all those whom I love and care.

And as the pictures of festive parties, pretty dresses, fixed hair, perfect make up and lots of drinks are posted on Facebook and other social media outlets, I smile and click like from the comfort and warmth of my own hearth, on my flannel PJ’s and fuzzy socks (yes, super sexy, I know).

I sip wine and listen to my favorite music, unpacking, organizing, arranging furniture and getting settled.  And who says you have to be and about on the town seeing and being seen to be social? I have my friends close by, still meeting for dinners and drinks.  I run to theirs or they come to mine. It is nice and quiet and small and quaint.

There is home cooking – soups and sauces, new recipes and old favorite, smells and fragrances filling the house. Putting up and decorating the Christmas tree, with all the old ornaments from childhood that make me smile and love my parents. There is eggnog and mistletoe and kisses and laughter. There is the gentleness of starting over.

And sometimes, in the big world, it is good to be small and close.  It is good to make sure that all of our fingers and toes and accounted for and painted pretty colors, enjoying the small comforts that build the foundation of a good and happy life. Sometimes the small celebrations are even more meaningful than the big ones.

And sometimes, when it is all said and done, it is the building of many of those small moments that make a life worth living and loving. Sometimes being the opposite of the season is what gives it it’s meaning.

The Beauty in Boredom

I read an article on Psychology today that talked about boredom, it’s definition and affects. Oddly enough I had the definition all wrong. Boredom to me had always been just a feeling of having nothing to do, nothing around that was interesting. And that is it in part, but in the article it is defined as a state of listlessness or torpor (new word) that is related to melancholy. A deeply unpleasant state of “unmet arousal.”

To me that sounds more like being restless…having all that energy and having no where to place it. That place where you want to do something, anything, but not knowing what or being able.  We usually try to avoid boredom because it is unpleasant.  I remember being a child and complaining about being bored during summer vacation because there we nothing to do, to which my mother quickly replied “bored people are boring.” Or “intelligent people are rarely bored.”

At first these statements seem like a witty response, but maybe there is more truth to them than wit. Boredom is part of the human condition. Never has a single person on earth never experienced boredom.  So why fight it? Why not find the good in it and use it. Just how would that happen? We try to avoid boredom by way of stimulation. But there is a difference between stimulation and …….Why not instead, peer inside ourselves to cure boredom? Instead of going outside of a situation to find stimulation, like a video game, why not be present in the moment?

Get out of your phone, your game, or little world and look around a bit. Notice who and what is around you instead. Notice the air around you, notice all the little things that you would normally gloss over in your search for everything to strike your nerves at once. Embrace the non stimulation, the slow down, the peace and quiet in the boredom. But this can be a dangerous thing. Sometimes the tranquility of the quiet can make ones demons or unsorted baggage come to the surface. Go ahead and deal with them, and all, you’re bored right? What else do you have to do?

Once we look inside, once we become present and notice the world around us, magically the boredom disappears. So take a deep breath and embrace the boredom. As counterintuitive as it may sound, by the very act of embracing boredom we no longer suffer from it. We can take the time to look inside and begin to let go of what is holding us back. Ultimately that will bring us Peace and I have often said that which gives us Peace also gives us happiness.

Samuel Johnson once said, “It is by studying the little things that we attain the art of having as little misery, and as much happiness, as possible.”

Thank You Vegas

We all have those times were we feel as if we are climbing out of a big dark pit. And we all have that moment where we realize we can finally feel the sun on our faces and have managed to climb out. This recently happened to me, when I took a trip to a place called Las Vegas.

While I can’t really say that I came back rested (it was Vegas after all), but there was much more peace when the plane landed, than when it took off. Sometimes, just having the chance to step away, gain some distance and perspective is the key. Sometimes, just being able to relax and not be surrounded and submerged in all that was is enough to wake us up.

For me it was a combination of all of that, and the company I was with. First, it’s hard not to have a great time in Vegas, it’s just a fun place to be. My friend and I have traveled together before, and we always have a good time together. Even though we had not seen each other in a few years, we seemed to fall into our easy rhythm within a few minutes. There is something very comfortable with him, and he is one of the few people I trust. I feel safe. Maybe it’s his gentle, unassuming way of things.

After the past few months, it was wonderful to just be. To laugh, explore, gamble a bit (am am terrible at gambling, unless it’s with fake money), drink a bit, enjoy some food and people watch. There was a show Cirque De Solie (I know that it’s misspelled and I’ll care after the next cup of coffee), front row seats. You really get to see great detail when sitting that close, and as a stage and theater junkie, I loved it.

Hoover Dam was next and that was fascinating. When you see the enormity of it, of what they did and how they did it, without any of the modern technology, the risks they took and how well done it was, you feel really proud. I felt proud of your country, of the men who worked on it, and the ingenuity and vision it took to make it happen. Wow. And it was just cool. We walked across it, on a beautiful day with clear blue skies. I felt free, for the first time in a long time. If those men could do all of that, then my life can be just as magnificent.

Then there was downtown Vegas, which is different from the Strip. It feels more like a fair than anything else, with the scent of food from the street vendors, people walking around in costume (You take their pictures for tips, lots of people, loud 80’s rock music and a laser light show on the outdoor ceiling. I love the Golden Nugget Casino and the buffet there is quite yummy.

Upon return I felt lighter, albeit tired, but much happier. I just needed a little trip to bring me back to life, so to speak. To remind me that life is to be enjoyed. The past year is over, all those struggles are done, my tasks are complete. Now I move forward building my life, my own Hoover Dam.

Work hard, play harder, love completely, and laugh often. So thank you to my friend, for inviting out to play, thank you Vegas for being such a gracious host and playground, and thank you life.

Getting th Groove

Getting into the groove
Getting into the groove

I remember helping my Mom in the garden a few years ago. We were sitting, taking each one of the little bean plants she planted, and slowly winding them up on a string, so that they would grow up on the string and be easier to pick. We started in the morning, as we drank coffee, each of us working in peaceful silence next to each other, in complete comfort.

After s o many plants, you actually get a rhythm going. And gently, without breaking the tender baby vines, you wind them up and move on to the next. All day we did this, breaking only for more coffee. And it that gentle morning, I was deep in thought. And it occurred to me that life is very much like winding those little bean sprouts up the string. There is a process for everything, and it takes time to naturally unfold.

This past week is the first I really feel like I have my rhythm and groove back. I am taking care of myself, getting rest, unpacking, eating healthy(ish). As soon as it’s warm and not raining, I’ll take a good run/walk in the hills of the neighborhood. I have been taking the time to enjoy andfierce relish in those little perfect moments, taking time to cry when the emotion hits me, and being honest enough to say I am a bit vulnerable right now, so handle with care. It feels good to admit that, it’s actually very freeing to not have to be tough all the time, to allow myself to be “soft.”

And surprisingly, at least to me, it is received well. There are hugs, holding hands, kind thoughts and words, well wishes, and sincere smiles.

And the result, is more laughter, more smile, more feeling alive than I have in about a year. To really allow myself to just be, whatever it is I am at that moment, is wonderful.And in doing so, I let go, with each heartbeat, all that I have carried. Yes, I am getting my balance, my rhythm, my life and spirit back. Yes, the spring in my step has returned. It is spring, and just like those little bean sprouts, it is time to grow, to bloom and to be magnificent. I am coming alive again.   I am returning to my life, returning to enjoy all accomplishments my hard work has brought to fruition. I have come back to have what is mine.

All I l have to do is trust, believe and follow the natural process.

And that is how this girl gets her groove back. I am a new morning.

Finding Lent

It’s forty days every year, between Ash Wednesday and Easter, that many stop and reflect.  Every year I celebrate Lent by giving something up (chocolate this year…can’t wait to eat my Cadbury Crème Eggs!) and taking something on. It is a time to rededicate myself to all that is important spiritually. A time to reconnect with inner self, God and my inner voice. And to really listen.

This year is a special time for me, as so many new and wonderful things have entered into my life as of late. I have so very much the be thankful for. But yet there has been a lot of struggle to get here, and there are a lot of emotions left over.

My career has skyrocketed, with more to do now than every before. In addition to my full time job, I am interviewing someone this week for an article I am writing for the AJC. I have had articles published in magazines, but never the ADJ – a notionally circulated newspaper!  It’s very exciting.

Agents are calling me wanting me to update headshots, resumes and classes for acting. And then there is the business of my book….I put it down a while ago to support my sister. Now it is time to pick it back up, along with many other things…like eating right and exercising. Things that got out of whack over the last year.

So this year, my Lenton Disciplines are a little different. They are more about taking care of myself and getting myself back up and running, so I have more to offer the world and those around me. The old saying is true, to give to others you must first take care of yourself; because if you don’t, you will not have anything to offer. I have learned this the hard way.

Taking care of everyone else last year, has left me torn and ragged this year. And my Lenton Disciplines also involved what to do about all those left over emotions from everything that has taken place. All of the loss, betrayal, lies and shape shifting.

What do I do with all the anger I have for my sister and her husband? What do I do with the feelings of betrayal concerning my former friends and landlords; all that they did, all the lies that were told? How do I dissipate the disappointment, resentment and aching from walking away from the only sister I have ever really known? How do I deal with the fact that because of her psychological condition, I have had to keep her out of my life?

I don’t know the answer to these questions…but I do know that this year, this Lent, I am to have faith, put one foot in front of the other, work as hard and as good as I can to be the best writer I can, to tell the stories in the best way possible, and to take the time to listen to God’s voice on the stillness. The stillness of the quiet in the night, the sunrise and it comes through my bedroom window in the morning, the silence that is in those moments. And I am to find joy in my life, and the good things that are coming forth. And in those things, in that stillness and silence, in that Faith, in that joy…I hope to find the Grace which I seek. The fullness of God and what he wants for me and the opportunities which He has given me.

And if I put my whole heart into it…there it will be. And I hope to let go…

The Shoulders of Giants

No man is an island. No matter who we are, where we come from, what we do , how successful we are or where we go in life, we could not do it with the help of others.

So to all those who have helped, who have prayed, who have cried with me, who have listen to me, who have carried heavy things. To all those who have made the load lighter, who have lent their hearts, picked up the phone, been there, done that, cheered me on, celebrated the highs and felt the heartbreak over the lows. All those who have sung with me in the rain, helped me relax, shared a glass of wine, discussed dreams, reflected on mistakes, planned the future, smiled at the past. For all of my friends…certainly this week reflects a lot of work and dreams that will finally come to fruition.

So many people have supported me, believed in me, encouraged me and been there for me. My wonderful friends and family. They have let me rest in their safety, and given me the kick in the pants when needed as well. Through it all, they, you, have been my heart and strength. My Faith and will at the center, I have been helped by many.

So much planning, working, dreaming, preparing, manifesting and doing. And finally, it is all coming together; in my personal, professional and writing life. And so for all the good things that are coming, thank you so much. I am here because I have worked, believed, had faith… stood on the shoulders of giants.

A Moment

It is the rush of the holidays, with all the shopping, parties, dinners, decorating and family get-togethers. It is a time that we seem to rush around, hardly time to do anything besides get to the next thing we have to do. And this holiday season seems to be busier than those past.

But last night I took a walk in my quiet little neighborhood. I listened to the silence of the evening, looked at the lights and Christmas decorations that were around. There were children playing in the distance, laughing and running. I thought about my life, and the past year. All of the ups and downs, all of the events that made it 2013.

And through all of it all, there have been so many blessings woven in, even the bad times. I just needed some time and space to see them. And isn’t that how it always is? Things always seem to work out for the best, and end up just as they should. We just may not ever be able to predict the road that gets us there.

This year I have seen love, loss, heartache, joy, anger, Peace, struggles, having money, being poor, letting go, hanging on, breathing in, cleaning out and rising up .I have supported my family and had others support and help me. When I think back at just what has happened in the past year, it’s almost overwhelming to think of it all.

But I am so very thankful for being here, right now, in this place. It’s been a long road, but Bliss is all around. And it had taken a lot of work. Many think that happiness just lands in a persons lap. It doesn’t. It’s a decision you make and re-make every day. Work you do to keep it every day. But it’s worth it, to do what you need to do to be happy and healthy.

So this holiday season, take .a moment. Pause and reflect. Eve for those for whom the holidays are difficult, take pause and look around. When you do, I promise you will see wonderful things around you . No matter where you are, it could be worse, but it’s not. And the good thing is if you feel like you are at the bottom, there is now where to go but up.

Take a moment, see the lights and the decorations. Enjoy the cold crisp air. Notice the energy of others around you. Enjoy your favorite TV shows, some hot tea, or a warm bowl of soup. Because it’s the small things that add up to making a good life. But we must take time to appreciate them.

So take a moment.

The Young and the Proud

Birthdays. They are special and are much fun to celebrate. Yesterday was my oldest nephew’s 22nd birthday and I took him out for our traditional birthday dinner.

And as we sat, ate and talked, I looked at him, this young man, and realized how proud I am of him. He has grown up to be a fine young man – honest, hard-working, super intelligent, funny and just a good guy, He treats women with respect and courtesy, he does not take advantage of people, he follows his sense of right and wrongNow, he does have his faults, as does everyone, but I am so proud of who he has become.

Before we left for the restraint, I watched him explain some homework to his roommate, and he was so good at breaking things down to a level that is understandable. Jeeze, he can get me to understand quantum physics, and that is no small deed so he must be good.

And I just wanted to hug him and keep him at this age, or at least take a photo in my mind so I could always remember this day and time with him. I remember when he was just a baby, starting to walk, but still hanging onto the table for stability. That little finger that would get into everything. His first day of school and how he grew up with many of the friends with whom he graduated. His adolescence and all the awkward stages that we all go through. His 18th birthday, when he was an adult. His 20th birthday when he was no longer in his teens. His 21st birthday, when I bought him  his first beer, and now he is 22. So many stages and trails, so many projects and tests.

There was his trip to Alaska, his building of robots, his Skills USA competition, his theory on why a time machine could never be built, his friends he has had all of his life and how much they mean to him, his disappointments and things that made him happy and excited. Going to the first open house with him at the school he now attends.

We went to the open house and then I took him to a nice dinner. Afterward we went to a restaurant that spins so he could see the Atlanta skyline properly. There was a cheerleading convention in town that weekend, and the entire downtown area and the restaurant had thousands of attractive cheerleaders running around in their uniforms, He looked at me bright eyed and innocent and declared that he loved Atlanta. I just laughed.

Being there for him is the best thing I have ever done in my life.  It is so special to see a young man grow into someone whom you are so proud. It has been an honor and a privilege to watch him develop into this magnificent human being. And I hope there are many birthdays to come

Question: Mercy, Compassion, Grace and Forgiveness

Rex, one of my best friends asked me a question:

“Have you ever had a man love you enough to  hold you while you beat up on him because you were more important to him than his ego?”

My Answer: Yes.

The question was so raw in it’s honestly it stopped me in my tracks. And I started to cry. It was almost 20 years ago, but that question brought everything back like I was right there in it.

His name was David. I was 19.

I asked Rex later why he asked that question, he said: “It’s one of the 3 or 4 lowest points and/or most charged-up situations in any relationship run into. Without those turning points no relationship turns real, it just stays cursory.”

There is a time in my life I call “The Dark Ages,” and it lasted from age 19-21.  Terrible things happened during that time. No one knows everything that happened. I have never told. And I never will. Somethings just hurt too much to ever tell another.

David was my angel. He held me as I sobbed for hours, weeks, as I sobbed for months, even over a year. I sobbed for everything I had lost, all of myself that I could never get back. I wept for my heart, how it was so broken, I was broken, from the inside out. I had to look up to see rock bottom.  That was during the time I would drive 1,000 miles a day, just to be moving. I couldn’t be still because everything horrible would catch up with me.

I put that man through every kind of Hell imaginable. I yelled, lied, was so mean, wishy-washy, temperamental, distrusting. I never cheated, but I did treat him horrible. I put him through the ringer emotionally.

And he was there for me the whole time. He held me through it all, telling me it was going to be OK. He knew, whatever it was that hurt me so, I had to get it out.  He took my anger, pain, loss, confusion, loss of faith, disillusionment, emptiness, distrust, meanness….turned it into love, and gave it back to me.

That is Grace. And that is what I have prayed to have. It is not easy. Because you do have to care less for your ego than anything else. And sometimes, you do get beat up, quite a bit.

I thank David, to this day. I can never pay him back for what he did for me. His kindness, his wisdom, his Mercy, his Grace, saved my life. I cannot repay the debt, but I can pay forward.

Mercy Street, by Peter Gabriel is what he gave me:

The Space Between Discovery

Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it. – Buddha

I often look at the above quote and it makes me excited about life and about discovering all that is in this world. I have often said that we must always be curious, about life, about others, about love, about the world in which we live and about oursleves.  Sometimes that can be hard because being curious is tiring and as we seek so shall we be joyful, and so shall we be hurt and feel sorrow.

And in the times that we feel that sorrow, when our soul is weary, tattered and torn, as pieces of our heart lay littered across streets of life, we must remember that these times are only temporary.

You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. – Buddha

Life is messy. We have to, in our lifetime, deal with betrayal, lies, heartache and false friends. But in the end, those that try to harm us and hurt us only make us stronger. Better. And they hate that. The best revenge truly is simply being happy and living a fabulous life. And when you move on, happy and confident, it is your life returned to you. And each time we feel pain, we feel it a little deeper in our soul, until we are the beautiful, complex works of art we were meant to be. But life must carve out those deep spaces in us first.

Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill. – Buddha

And what we do and say carries an echo through life to those around us. Yes, the Karma bus is coming and it is far better to be a passenger than running trying not to get run over. Not even Nike shoes can help you win that race.

Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine. – Buddha

When we live purely and become the best that we can be, then we truly do shine. Now I am not talking about being a door mat and letting others walk all over you. As the president of the Feisty Red-Head Club, that will not do. And sometimes a bit of anger is needed to push us to finally stand up for ourselves and handle situations that we might otherwise ignore. But there comes a choice in everyone’s life whether or not to hang on or let go of that anger. And this is the moment of which I speak. Once the anger has served us, it is best to let it go, which frees us to pursue our own happiness.

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without – Buddha

What works for me is to become very still. To be very quiet and start to listen to what my soul is saying. What my spiritual self needs and wants. I listen for the voice of God. And at first it may be hard to hear, I may have to really listen and strain…but eventually it always rings clear, even if soft in tone.

What I have found is that this allows me to act with Grace. While most who know me and have seen me try to walk or go down a flight of stairs without falling may laugh, it is a life of Grace which I seek. Grace allows us to be gentle as we go through life and interact with others. Grace also allows us to pick the battles that truly need to be fought, as Grace leads to wisdom (at least in my humble opinion).

Grace does not mean not ever getting mad or standing up for yourself. Quite the contrary.  It just allows us to focus on the battles that truly need to be fought with vigor all while guiding us through our daily lives in gentle kindness and compassion.

Yes life is a never ending process of experiencing and evolving, exploring, learning, moving and trying. We try, we fail, we try again…maybe we succeed maybe we fail, maybe we come up somewhere in between. And it is in that space between which we truly discover ourselves.

Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.  – Buddha

Dance in the Light of Day

“In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.” ― Rumi

Maybe happiness and contentment are actually in the strive and search to be better. To be better at being human beings. Because we have to take an honest look at what we truly are in order to know how we can improve. We must have an intimate knowledge of ourselves and of our strengths and weaknesses. We must see our selves and our faults, together as they really are, and still find the strength and comfort to love ourselves anyway. We must accept what and who we are, and in that acceptance is Peace. What brings us Peace will bring us happiness. It is a circle.

Recently I have found my vulnerable voice, and while a bit scary, it is also very real and wonderful. There is a Peace and comfort in vulnerability. My weaknesses are that I procrastinate, I am stubborn, I know I am right, always and I can have a hard time saying no, even when it is the best answer to give. And I have had, in the past, a hard time opening up, being vulnerable and trusting. I must accept these things about myself, yet strive everyday to over come them, and be at Peace at the end of he day.

And I also must find comfort in my strengths – I am smart, a hard worker, very loyal and steadfast, I have persistence and perseverance. I am strong. And I love with all my heart. But finding comfort in your strengths in not enough, at least I think. We must also use our strengths to be better everyday and over come our weaknesses, until our weakness are our strengths as well. At least in theory anyway.

So how do we do all of that? I have no idea. What I do know is that while you must work at is every day, and make a conscience effort to do so, life cannot be all work. We must also learn the value of play. Just to do something for the pure joy and pleasure of it. Play is food for our souls, along with prayer.

I recently made the statement here on the blog that I wanted it to be a deeper place of writing and thought, therefore I was not going to use it as a funny place for daily musings. As if the only my deepest thoughts are of value? All of our (my) thoughts are valuable, whether deep or not, whether funny or serious. And in the play of writing, or just in life, we often find our most profound meanings. Play clears our mind so we can be more receptive. And play makes us happy.

So this will continue to be a place of both thought and play. If you are looking for the always deep, you will not always find it here. Just like me, this space will be multi layered, sometimes provocative, sometimes funny, often sarcastic, and many times winding down different roads. And that is how it should be.

And every day, as I work on myself and being the becoming the best I can, every day, let me also find the joy in play. Join me, won’t you? And in that joy of play, may we all learn how to love and see the beauty of our  own form and dance. And in the combination of hard work and play in our intimate selves, may we find contentment, Peace and Happiness.

Bessie’s New Butt and Random Thoughts

Her name is Bessie. She and I have been rather close now for about 14 years. She is a sleek, stylish bad-ass. You see, Bessie is my Glock 19, Semi automatic 9mm. Now, my nickname is the Pinktank (the story behind the nickname is for another post). So a wonderful person did something very sweet, funny and completely awesome. I was given a custom made back plate for Bessie…it is pink with a tank etched on it. I love it!!! There is no mistaking that this is my gun now.

Every women has to have to her group of girls. Those women with which you laugh, cry, tell stories and dirty jokes to over wine or margaritas. Tonight was a celebration of my girls. I have not laughed that hard in a very long time…or had that many inappropriate conversations. Yes, I love my girls.


Travel. I have been traveling and driving a lot in the recent weeks with my father so ill. Next weekend I will actually be staying in. Which will be nice. My guest and I have not had a chance to record any music since he has been gone during the week and I on the weekends. There is also a trip to the firing range planned where I will shoot several automatic rifles. Oh yes, My inner red-neck/action hero is going to come out to play. The weekend after that is going to the beach. And I cannot wait! After all, if you are going to travel, there shold be some fun involved. And I am over due on the fun part.


I Love, love LOVE this song. The guitar is awesome and he has a great voice. Enjoy!

Spring Cleaning

There is a phenomenon going on around the nation. It is called Spring Cleaning; the ritual of cleaning out the old and stuffy, airing out what became stale over the winter, to be replaced by clean, new and fresh. Why does this take place?  I don’t know. Maybe it is attached to a long ago instinct to nest for the upcoming life Spring promises, maybe it is just because we are restless and have a bit of Spring Fever. Or maybe it’s just an excuse to go shopping and clean out the garage. Whatever reason, it certainly is the season.

And as I clean, dust, vacuum, map, straighten and organize, I also take stock. I take stock in my home , my life, and my purpose. My home would be called humble by many standards. A small but mostly tidy town-home, with enough room for all my clothes, an office, and a  my nephew’s room. But more than the space, or even the contents of my home, are the wonderful memories that live here too. The home is actually owned by one of my best friends, and I spent many nights here before moving in. Much laughter, tears, game watching, movie watching, drunk nights (her boyfriend was a great bartender) and more have been here. Memories in every room, both with family and friends. There isn’t a single corner of this home that I do love.

My life is great right now. I have everything I have wanted in this  moment. There are many more things to accomplish, career and personal things, but my life is thus far, fulfilled. I am a whole person, with a whole heart. I have great friends, a wonderful family, I have a career I love where the possibilities are endless and budding relationship with an amazing man.  My life,  my heart, has the capacity to hold much more, because of what I have let go. And in that letting go, I have found my life, returned to me, even brighter than it was before.

A good friend once told me that your purpose is very different from your career. My purpose is, and has always has been, to help and council others. To give of myself and serve. I have served my family well, as I have taken care of  my nephew when he needed me, and my parents this summer when my father had cancer and was getting treatments. I have prayed that I have something larger than myself  in which to give and build. Something more important than just me. I have a suspicion that I have been given that chance to serve. And now I pray for guidance that I serve well, if that is they way God has chosen the answer to manifest. And I am thankful.

This year Spring Cleaning means much more than just dusting off and freshening up. It is the realization that the life I have built thus far is a good one. There have been trails and hard times along the way, and no promises of what may lie ahead, but I have Faith and Hope that everything good is close at hand. And I am excited, for the first time in a long time, for what may be around the corner, at seeing how life will take shape. Family, friends, career, love and life, are all good right now in the sweet moment of Spring.

The High Dive

Ever since I was a child I have always had a sense of adventure, a wanderlust for …life. I was four when my mother decided to enroll me in swimming lessons. We had a pool already and I was allowed to swim with my “floatties”, but I could not wait to really learn how to swim.  And I loved going to the swim lessons. But it was not the lessons I looked forward to as much as the reward for doing well in the lesson.

From the fist day I was memorized by what was called the high dive. Twelve feet up, it was so high and amazing. I knew I had to dive off of it. On the second day of lessons I finally got up the nerve to ask if they would let me. They said they had to ask my Mom first. They did and she (has since said) she swallowed hard and said if I wanted to do it, and thought I could, to let me try. One of the many reasons why I love her.

So at the end of the lesson, they said I could go. I was so excited that my entire 4 year old body was shaking. So I started up the ladder – straight up. But I didn’t care because up was magic. Up was freedom. And then, finally, after what seemed like climbing up forever, I was up at the top. And I walked out, to the very edge and it was breathtaking. All the instructors had formed a semi circle around where I would be landing in the water. They wanted to make sure I would be safe. My Mom watching (and later I learned, shaking) I took a breath and jumped.

I don’t remember hitting the water, but I do remember suddenly being and swimming underwater. It was magic. I remember swimming under all the instructors, looking up while underwater and thinking how funny their feet looked. And then I popped up behind them and surprised them. And every day that I did well in the swimming lesson, I was allowed to jump off the 12 foot high dive.

And that began my love affair with what if? And there have been many moments in my life, a few even recently, where I have been so excited that I shook. I don’t know where this sense of adventure comes from. But there has also always been a drive inside me, almost instinctual, to keep going and pushing beyond what you think is possible.  A passion to succeed at whatever is decided. To ignore the odds and just go for it.

I have said it many times before, life is the adventure you make it. Be free with your curiosity, take chances, love with all your heart, smile when you are happy, cry when you are sad, believe in others and in yourself and really live.

Stop Asking and Start Listening

An interesting thing happened to me over the last few years.  I stopped listening to myself and started listening to everyone else.  I started asking other peoples opinions on what I should do about this or that, trusted that they were more experienced and knowledgeable than I. The funny thing about asking for advice is that people will give it to you. I sought advice from business savvy people, people who were good with people, people who did PR or were professional organizer. And when their advice went against what my own thoughts, I assumed I was wrong.

But no one has more experience in my life than I do. So why, I wonder, did I search for answers on the best way to live my life from others? I was always raised to trust my gut instincts, no matter what anyone else says. So again, why I sought outside advice is now quite a mystery.

What I now know is that I was getting a lot of bad advice, because I did not trust myself enough to know that I knew best. Now I have made sure to separate myself from those bad advice givers, and I have gotten closer to me. I am listening more to myself, and my gut, and what I think. It is truly amazing how much my life and outlook has improved once I stopped listening to everyone else, and started listening to me.

You cannot be normal and lead an extraordinary life. So why would I listen to normal people?  My life has opened up so much more since I started listening to me. And I am happier now, more confident, more in control now, than I have been in a long time. What I have learned is that I do know best, especially when it comes to my life.  And who cares what others think? I live my life, not them. I live in my skin, not hem. I sleep at night…not them.

There is nothing wrong with getting advice, or getting an opinion of you are having trouble with making a decision. But trust yourself, and your gut, and your intuition. You are the only one qualified to make those decisions, so don’t hand the job to someone who can’t do it as good as you. Trust yourself. See that big smile on my face? Now you why. There is a country song about a happy girl, and  what the lyrics say is true: “And the sweetest thing that you’ll ever see, in the whole wide world, is a happy girl.”

And it feels wonderful too. Life is an adventure, your adventure, so stop asking, start listening and start living it.

An Invincible Winter

In the height of winter, I found there was, within me, and invicible winter – Albert Camus

We all do the best we can at any given time, or at least that is what I choose to believe about people as a general whole. Sure, we all have those days where we don’t quite do everything we can…but we are a bit human.

I am going through a transformation period in my life right now. It seems like I am working toward a lot of things: to be healthier, which means changing my diet and improving on exercising., I am re evaluating who and what kind for people I have in my life, trying to be a better friend to those who have been amazing friends to me, to be a better employee at my amazing job I am thankful and lucky to have, to have more adventure in life…and about a thousand other things.

But even the happiest, most positive people have their doubts, their bad days, their pity parties. It is easy to do when you are going through a time of transition, finding your way, figuring things out. Sometimes we just get frustrated and overwhelmed. I was having a moment like that this weekend. And that is all part of being human. The trick is not to stay in those spaces, to find a way, a ladder so to speak, to help you out of the hole.

For me, it is usually something unexpected that reminds me who the core of me is. It could be reading something, something that someone says or does, it could be something I happen to see on TV, a sermon in church that hits home, or even a friend sending a sweet message, not knowing I needed it at that very moment. It is also having someone around that cares enough to be there  when I am having a down moment.

Another thing that I have to remember with my extreme type A personality, is that I cannot accomplish everything in a day’s time. When I make up my mind, I want it changed right then, and life just isn’t like that. Life is more of a long haul than a short picnic trip. But sometimes we expect things to change quickly.  I have to keep this in mind. I have the stamina to keep going on the slow and steady, but sometimes I get so impatient and have to be reminded to slow down. Whether we like it or not, life works out in its own pace, and if we rush it along we run into problems.

So find what helps you out of those spaces when you feel discouraged and run down. If we look within ourselves and know we have what it takes for the long haul, and find those things in the world the inspire us, I promise those moments will be short lived. Or at least shorter than the times that you feel good. Enlist your friends to help cheer you, your faith, your ..whatever and where ever you find that extra helping of hope and inspiration. Because we all need a little extra sometimes, when we are running low ourselves. And don’t forget to pay it forward and pass it on when you have a little extra to go around, for those long cold days of winter.

So Many Blessings – Thank you for the Prayers!

Found out the latest of many blessings last night – My father’s liver cancer is gone. When he first got the news in August, he was told that liver cancer was incurable, and he was terminal. This has been a heart wretching thing to deal with over the last months. Then he was told to go to Emory University Hospital here in Atlanta ( They have a new treatment for liver cancer and it has been successful. Dad’s cancer was caught early, so they were hopeful.

Emory is one of the best and most innovative hospitals in the country, and it is the best hospital for liver cancer treatment in the country hands down – because of this new treatment. Emory specializes in the care of the acutely ill adult. And my father fit that catagory.

He bravely went to the chemo appointments and took the after effects in stride. Still weak after one of his treatments, he accompanied me to court for accusations the crazy ex was bringing against me. He could have said he was too weak, could have said he wanted to go home and rest, but being a loyal man, he came to court with me and my mother instead. He came directly from the hospital after his treatment, he didn’t even take time to rest.

His last treatment was yesterday. They were going to keep him over night, and do another treatment again this morning, but said that he was fine to go home and the extra treatment was not neccesary. His cancer was gone.  They filled his body with chemo at the site of the tumor and said he will be fine.

Our family has been so blessed. First my mother survives and is cured of stage 4+ ovarian cancer, now my father’s terminal liver cancer is gone.

Prayer works. I am thankful, humbled and grateful. And I love my Dad. He is my hero.

One thing is for sure, I have no reason what so ever to complain about anything. Thank you to all for your prayers.

The Big and Small of It

And so it is that a new year has arrived. The past year was about all that was big. I wanted a big, wonderful fabulous life. Larger than life, actually. Big love, big work, big stories, big…everything. And I got it. That big love, the big career, the big money, the big romantic wedding planned, the big fat failure of that big relationship, and many more BIG things.

But this year has a different feel to it, as new as it is. This year is all about the small and noticing those little , “inconsequential”  things you might say. Yes, I am finding comfort and wonder in those little things and they amaze, humble me, surprise me, soften me, mold me, create me, keep me, rock me, and lift me.

It is the big collection of the smallest things that carry me into the new year. The smallest of looks, the whisper of a voice, of words sincerely said and carefully chosen, softly spoken to a small soul. Those honest statements that seem to make the world stand still.

It is those arms, wrapped around me ever so tightly, that small kiss ever so gently, that somehow, seems to mean absolutely everything to me. And what makes me want to be no where else in the world, but that small place, right there in the cocoon of that small moment.

It is the home cooking, the handwritten note, the little smile, the soft embrace, the silent reassurance that yes, I will be there, that small hand reaching for mine. It is the voice on the other end of the line, it is the laughter at midnight, or in the middle of the day, it is the smallest moment, almost missed, but still caught out of the corner of my eye. It is the email from a friend, a song sung softly, my mothers voice, my fathers joke, a sincere thank you, a long hug that you just want to melt into and never want to end.

It is knowing he will never, never be a part of my life.  What was once a possibility, now rests, withering, gathering dust, in the shadowed shelves of my heart. Dust to dust is the small saying.

It is hugging and kissing and hanging on tight the very instant the urge strikes.  What, is simpler, smaller or truer than that? It is saying “thank you” without agenda, with full heart, without expectations of return.  It is taking full stock of possibilities and potential the lie ahead in the next year, and saying goodbye to what was in the last.  It is running wild, and not looking back. It is taking a deep, deep breath, closing your eyes and trusting. It is holding your breath, just for a second longer, before taking that leap.

It is the changing and chancing, moving and dancing that we do through life. It is the small things really you see. It is the little reminders, the quiet cheers, the silent hidden cries, the subtle affection and smallest efforts, that can send the greatest waves of clarity and confidence through the air of this life that is mine.

It is a year, only a year. But in a year you can change many things.  Your address, your career, your clothes, your hair style, your thoughts,  your significant other, your habits, your hopes, and dreams, can all change in that year.  A year, just a small year, can change your entire attitude, your heart, your soul, your ability to forgive, to love, let go, and start again, new, heartbeat to heartbeat with another. In a year. Just a year.  You change.  In big and small ways.

Maybe I sound different these days?  Maybe that is because I am a year older, a year wiser, maybe a bit more weathered, or jaded even.  But, that is not a bad thing.  This is a mark of experience, of wisdom, of  bearing the brunt of a mistake or two but still pushing on, so hopeful, with the stories of survival and bravery carried along the way.

In that year, that small year, I learned, or relearned, the power and beauty of those little things. And those lessons carry me for the new year and remind me of what I want it to be filled with. I want more of those little things – those tight hugs, those small kisses, I want tenderness, honesty and truth. I want pure love that is raw and unrefined. I want to say thank you and pull those wonderful people close to me, those who cheered for me, hoped and prayed for me in the valleys, forests and storms of the year past.

And I want my voice that does not waiver, to say those words. Because while my life my be small, but in my heart there is plenty of room for everything small wonderful and exciting, and sincere, and fun, and strange, and…

The Gift of Cancer, the Gift of Love

Some people think because they’re stronger, or meaner, that they can push you around. I’ve seen a lot of that. But it’s only true if you let it be. The world is what you make of it, friend. If it doesn’t fit, you make alterations. – Stella, Silverado

Most of life, and the situations in it, are what you make of them. So when I say the fact that both of my parents have had cancer is a gift, most give me a very funny look

In January of 2001, we discovered my mother had stage 4+ Ovarian cancer. This was a tremendous and terrible sock, and the next two years we very difficult for all of us. Originally given two years to live, with no guarantee of quality of life, and a less than 1% chance of survival, she amazed doctors with her spunk, perseverance and most of all, faith, that this cancer would not beat her. And she was right.

My family has always be extremely close, but her cancer brought us even closer. We depended on each other in a way we had not before, and we saw each other in a very human way  It also made us acutely aware of how fragile life is, and how we need to treasure the time we have with those we love.

When I found out my father had cancer, it felt like someone had hit me in the stomach. The prognosis is good – they caught it early and he is getting treatment at Emory, one of the best cancer centers in the country. But still there is concern and we are acutely aware of all of the lessons we learned with Mom.

My father carries himself with a quiet air of authority and knowledge. He does not raise his voice, as truly powerful men rarely, if ever, have the need. So I was surprised to find that most of my ex’s are terrified of him, one even going so far as to hang up the phone rather than face talking to him just this past Christmas. Yes, he plays the Father Card well and heaven help the man who harms one of his daughters. No one back talks him or tells him what to do, or they will be swiftly, but quietly, put out.

Both my parents have loved me unconditionally, supported me and given me everything needed and wanted in life. So it is a gift to be able to be there for them now. My parents will come up and stay with me for his last cancer treatment next month. They are so afraid of being an imposition that I had to explain that it is my honor to be able to help them, that I feel as if I can, in a small way, give back a fraction of what they have so generously given me all these years.

My sister was there when my Mother went through treatment, now I am here for my father’s treatment. As the youngest in the family, it means a lot to be able to make sure my family is safe and comfortable. And while I know I could never in a million years give them what they have given me, at least being there for them now is a small start. And I hope they will see what a gift they are to me.

(If you are a faithful person, please keep then in yur prayers, thank you)

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Letter to My 16 Year Old Self

This post was inspired by a post I saw on Freshly Pressed:

I know you are very strong willed and head strong, and are going to do what you want, but here are some tips to keep in mind along the way. Plus, everything that happens really does happen for a reason, and makes you into a great person who is strong and comapssionate. First, you are beautiful. You will later look back at pictures and wonder what you were so self conscious of. Life at this age is awkward, from your body, to boys, to school, to, everything. Don’t worry, it all turns out OK. And don’t worry about your boobs, they fill out. It won’t happen until in your late 20’s and 30’s, but it does happen.

Second, remember that man who read your palm at your parents house? He said you were a writer, and you thought he was a bit crazy – he’s not. You do become a writer and it is even more fabulous than you could ever imagine. You write a book, many articles and you are happier in your career than you ever thought you could be. You also make really great money. In addition to writing, have a great career in radio in your 20’s. Your first boss in radio will be one of your lifelong best friends. You will also do a stint in finance…though you make a lot of money at it, it is not your true calling. Don’t feel bad when you leave it. You are not a failure, on the contrary, you are becoming what you were meant to be. You work hard and create the life you always wanted, and all the sacrifices along the way are worth it. You live your dreams.

Forget about what otehr people say and stick to your guns about doing the right thing. It pays off and your will always respect yourself.

Spend more time with Wendy, you’ll wish you had when she passes just a few short years from now. Her passing will have a deep and profound effect on you. And know, when it does happen, that there was nothing you could have done to stop it.

There will be two years, from 19-21, that you call the dark ages. Know that the things that happen are not your fault and you did nothing to deserve them. Forgive yourself.  Listen to Amy, she sticks by you, supports you and loves you, even when you don’t love or believe in yourself. Know that these years help shape the canvass of your life and that you truly do become a better, richer, deeper person for your expereinces.

You and your sister fight a lot now, but later she will be your best friend and biggest champion. You will also be hers. The Link between you two only grows stronger with age. And she hides your keys in the couch (you’ll know when you get there).

Mom, she is . right. Always. Don’t talk back to her as much, and yes you do need to clean your room. YoYou don’t know it, but she has cancer now though it won’t be discovered for many years. Be prepared for the first time you see her in the hospital, your knees will almost give out…it doesn’t look good and she has enough wires coming out of her to look like the back of a stereo system.  She survives but the next two years will be rough ones. They will tear you apart inside, but they will also bring the family even closer. And go to Vegas (you’ll understand when you get there).

On Dad: Take pictures of when the two of you work to fix the caliper in the rain. That will be one of your most cherished memories with him. As you get older he will be more and more one of your best friends and you often say he truly is the best man you know. And he is. And go out to dinner with him when he asks. That is very important.

You will have many friends in your life, and not all of them will be true or honest. But that’s OK. That is just part of life. You  don’t have to understand why, just love them and know that it all works out. Through it all, there will be many who stay your friends for life.They will be your heart.

On love and Dating:   You love with all your heart and everything you have. That is a very good thing, but you hurt the same way and just as deep. It’s all part of it. Don’t change it, as each time you love, it is deeper and stronger, until you are capable of loving even more than you thought possible. Loving someone is never a mistake, it is a gift. Never pass up the chance. Even if it doesn’t work, you will have wonderful memories, and a great book to write.

Having said that, here are some things you need to know: Don’t worry about what happens with your high school sweetheart. The man you date after that will say he loves you – believe him. You will spend many years looking for a man who will love you as unconditionally as he does. The man you call the love of your life truly is. When sis sets you up on that blind date, and you feel it, you are right. But that does not mean that you will end up together or live happily ever. after. It does mean that you will forever and always be thankful. It is worth it. Every second.

Some men you date will be wonderful, some terrible.  Somewhere along the way you get the idea that you have to be nice to everyone who wrongs you. No, you don’t. You do not have to give chance after chance. Remember that. If they were worth your time, and treated you right, you would not be walking away in the first place. Be civil, but beyond that they can kiss your ass. That goes for men, bosses and friends.

On Marriage: You have a sneaky suspicion that you will never get married and will always be a free spirit. You very well may be right. You do get close twice. The first will be with the man you are with now, just 13 years later. At 37 you decide that you will probably not ever get married and plan to start a family on your own once in your 40’s. With the second man, remember to trust your gut instincts. Don’t stay in the hotel. You love both of these men with all your heart, but sometimes love isn’t enough, and you have to let it go. And that hurts, a lot. You don’t regret either expereince or planning to marry them.. You loved them, and that is all that matters. Yes it is worth all of it, and yes you would do it again. It is never a mistake to love someone, never a mistake to take that chance, even if it ends badly. Love them, just as much, just as true. Just learn from those mistakse so you do not repeat them.

Also never forget who you are. You are magnificent, strong and capable. As in any life, there will be great highs and lows. Times you hurt so much that you can’t even cry, and great moments that you think you may pop from joy. I wish I could hold you through all those bad times, and tell you it will all be OK, but you already know that deep down, don’t you? Even if I could take away the pain and hard times that you will go through I wouldn’t, because that would deprive you of the knowleadge, expereince and depth you will gain from having gone through them and come out the other side. The pain you go through will carves out deep spaces within us, so that we may b=fell and experinece life even more deeply than we ever thought possible, but life must carve those deep spaces out first.

Know that as I look back on the girl you are, and the woman you grow into, that I am proud of you.

You will always be clumsy, that never gets better. Save more money, you’ll need it when the job market gets bad. Renew your tags every year – that’s important. And no, you really do not need to drive that fast. Give up on your sock drawer and your closet. Those will always be messy. You sing great…in the car. Never forget that.

There are many more things to tell you. I would love to sit down and have dinner and fill you in. But just know this…it is a magic, sometimes tragic, beautiful, wonderful, terrible, heartbreaking, joyfull, life. And it all works out.

Love You Always


The Happy Hum of Contentment

There is a place that I try to avoid at all cost. It is the mall during Christmas. Maybe it is the fact that you have a park to a mile away, maybe it’s the crowds and the long lines, maybe it is all the sales people in the center aisle to stop you for samples and make over’s, that just make me really not want to be there. I don’t know  But yesterday I braved all of the above mentioned to get some very specific gifts that could otherwise not be found.

And to my surprise, it was quite pleasant. The stores were very festively decorated, but not too crowded, the sales were good, the lines short and the people friendly. And I walked around, looking for things to purchase and truly enjoyed myself. There was the Santa who was taking pictures with pets, the large Christmas trees that reached many stories up to the top of the ceiling, and the wonderful Christmas music (did I mention I love Christmas music?). What I was sure was going to be a hustle and bustle kind of hurried night, turned out to be a very pleasant trip into Christmas Retailville.

And all along, I felt the happy hum of contentment. And this Christmas, that, along with my life and the health of my loved ones, is the best gift of all.

The Best Gift

We all have that one gift that we have been given, that one that just stands out more than any other.  It could be a Red Ryder BB gun, a dollhouse, a whatever that one childhood toy that you always wanted more than anythign else in the world. And throughout the years, it stands out as the best gift. Ever. As I was watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas, because I am a Christmas sap, my mind went back to my childhood and that one gist for me.

I can’t remember how old I was, maybe 8 or 9, but I was very into Barbie Dolls. I loved my Barbie dolls like Ralphie loved his Red Ryder BB gun, maybe even more. My parents have always been craftly people, but that Christmas they surprised even me.  I got up on Christmas morning to the most amazing gift that has been given to me to this day.

There were all these little BArbie clothes laid out…wonderful patterns and modern outfits that were very well made, not like the cheap Barbie clothes you bought in the store…because these clothes, these tiny little clothes hadd been hnad stitched by my mother. Stitches so small a machine could not do them, they had to be done by hand. There were little jumpsuites and dresses made of soft wanderful flowy fabric, wonderful shirts, pants and skirts, all so very well put together and stylish. A thousand stitches by hand, sewn with love.

But that was not all. While some were laid out, others outfits were hung up in a hand made Barbie Doll case taht my father had lovingly made by hand.  This doll case had two drawers, perfect for holding all the shoes, brushes, rings, earrings, purses and whatever other Barbie Doll accessories. It had a litle mirror in it (for the dolls), compartments for storing the dolls, and even a wardrobe area to hang all the hand stitched clothes – and here is the wonderful kicker – the clothes that were hanging in the wardrobe area, were hanging on tiny little hand made wire hangers, that my father had also made for me. And this wonderful hand made with love, one of a kind case had an inscription: To Miss Ada Lamar Burch, with love, from her Daddy.

To this day, after many expensive gifts that have been given to me over the years, this one Christmas, those gifts are the best I have ever recieved. The time and the love it took to make those wonerful things for me make my heart warm every time I see them – and yes, I still have all of the clothes and the case.  I have the best parents in the world. And all my life, that has been the best gift.