Honor Thy Mother

Hi Mom, It’s been six years since you passed away, and I still miss you every day. There are still so many times I think about calling you, when I have good news, or just have a slow moment in the day. I will never stop missing you, because it will never feel normal for you to be gone.

And thank you for my sign today. When I asked you to make it personal, and a sign that could only be from from you, you delivered. But I am not surpised, you were magic when you were here, of course you are even more so in the afterlife with God.

This is the first year where I am not completely gutted about today. Probably because I am so happy. You wouldn’t recognize my life now, or maybe you would. You know how much I wanted to leave GA, even when I tried to keep it from you. I know you would have encouraged me to go find where I want to be. Texas. Oh, and how you would love it here. You would love the people.

We live in such a wonderful home, in a great neighborhood we love as well. And you would LOVE him. He is everything I ever wanted and everything I never knew I needed. And he is so patient with me. He is teaching me Grace by example. I am beyond blessed to have him. I can just see you guys debating history, politics, scientic theories and books.

I can’t help but think that your brain just withered being out so far in the sticks with no one to really talk to, no one to challenge that ever so active and brilliantt mind of yours. I know why you moved out there, and I know you made a beautiful home, but I know you missed being busy and around people with whom you could truly relate. You were always reading and watching TV shows about political and business strategies.

It’s been a good day and I have tried to honor you by being happy and getting tbings done. You would think it’s so silly to sit amd be depressed or long faced about it. So I have listened to my favorite muaic all the way up, and sand as loud as I could. I danced around a bit in the house even. I ate one of you favorite meals, and enjoyed every bite, then had one of your favorite treats. I looked at pictures of you and thought of my favorite memories. And I remembered this day 6 years ago…

It was my honor to be there and hold your hand while you slipped from this world to touch the face of God as He held you in His hands. It was the most difficult and most beautiful moment, to be there with you, the woman who gave me life, as you took your last breathe. Thank you for that honor.

I took these pictures on July 13, 2015, and you died exactly 12 months to the day theynwwre taken. And I remember looking out at the horizen as the sun was setting in the distance, wondering if you would live another year. You held on as long as you could. You are like the sun, always there to greet me around the next corner, reaching out your arms in infinate love. Love radiated from you like light from the sun…

I love you always and will miss you forever. Say hello to Dad, and please visit me in my dreams. ❤

Hi Guys

Hi Guys,

Mom and Dad, I love and miss you so much, more than words can say.

I have been doing everything to take care of the estate.  We had buyers for the compound then two weeks before closing hurricane Michael cam e through.  It didn’t destroy the place (thanks to your incredible design and insistence that it be build beyond code Dad), but it did sustain damage.  Contractors are working on it. I have no idea what I am doing, but think I have navigated it pretty well.  I hope you are proud, and I hope I have done things up to your incredible standards. Thank you for teaching me such integrity.

When I go there now, I see glimpses of you and Dad, but I don’t feel you there anymore. I think you guys are off dancing somewhere else in the universe, happy to be together. And I think you come back to visit when I am there, but you do not stay. After all, there must be so much to do in the afterlife. And I am sure that you are the social butterfly you always were, Mom, Making friends and laughing where ever you go  And Dad, I know you are just happy to be with her, warmed by the light of her. So many people have and are helping me because of how much they loved you guys.

In a way I wonder if the hurricane was when you guys decided to leave the compound, use it as your exit. Mom, the gardens you made were destroyed, but most of the fruit trees made it. I guess in a way this makes it (emotionally) easier to sell, which is a blessing in it’s own way.

The family is a mess, if you can say it even exists at all.  I have tried to put the siblings back together, but some things cannot be unbroken. And so I accept that I am alone.  The cousins have been wonderful though, even though I have not had time to talk to them much.  But they are very loving and kind.  They are my last connection to you Dad and I want to keep those relationships going.  I plan to see them all this coming year.

Mom, I cannot believe it has been almost 2.5 years since you passed away. I don;t know how I have done all of this without you.  Accept I know you and God have been guiding me. I feel you so close sometimes, that I almost feel like I could reach out and touch you.  But I can’t. I wish you would visit me more in my dreams. And I love when you and Dad give me signs, like the rainbow yesterday.

As hard as it will be to finally sell the compound, I am looking forward to the closure.  You guys know how hard this has all been and how long it has taken to handle everything.  It is time for that closure and for me to live my life, finally free. I am planning where to go and what to do after it all settles down.  I am thinking of what I want life to be for me. I am not sure what it all looks like yet, but there is time.

The holidays (I think) will be easier this year than last.  Last year was rough. But that first year always is. I am ready for it now. And I am taking a friends advice…I am not making it about family, but about love and friendships and laughter and making good memories. I will be with friends who, I am learning, are our family of choice. I wonder if you ever spent a Christmas alone like I did last year, Mom. And I wonder was it hard for your too?  But this year is different.

I used to hate the idea of time passing without you guys. I still hate it, but I cannot change it, so instead I am learning to embrace it more.  I look forward to not being able to say “My Dad died last year.” Because it means that I am moving forward like I know you would want me to. Like I know that I have to. I know that the best way to honor you, and to honor God, is to find all the Joy that life can hold.  And I will.  I will make this life spectacular. All the while, never forgetting that it is your blood that flows through my veins, my beautiful, beautiful parents.

I am going to decorate for Christmas like crazy this year. Two Christmas trees and ALL of the decorations. I will sit and be warm in the glow of everything Christmas and feel close to you both. I will not only embrace the holidays, I will choose to flourish and be  love. And if I don’t have family around, then I will make my own world with all of my friends I love and who love me the most. Life can never be the same, but I can choose to make a life where I am happy and loved.  If we write our own lives, then I can do that. If I don’t feel like I fit in or belong, then I will create my own world where I do.

I still listen to your voicemails, and they make me smile. I never want to forget the sound of your voices. Please keep watching over me and guiding me. And I hope that I make you proud. I have tried very hard to have Grace, but still be tough when needed. It can be a hard balance sometimes. Somehow both of you mastered it, and I hope to one day as well.

I hope you guys are happy where ever you are. And I often wonder, when I look at the moon, if you see it too from your view? Or are you magnificent stars, seeing the moon for yourself? Do you get to see the world, like you always wanted, traveling a new wavelength we cannot yet understand here on Earth? If so, I bet it is spectacular. Or, are you angels, helping just like you did here, just in a different way?

Know that I love you so very much, more than words can say. I honestly don;t know if I love you or miss you more? I carry you with me always. ee cummings said it best. Love you guys, always.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)




A Walk with Dad

As I sit back enjoying a quiet evening after a hectic and long day, the memories flood back. This time last year with my father.  The thing about memories is that they are often not chronological.  They just come in sometimes random order, leaving you to figure out which ones came first and on what days.

I remember visiting my Dad every day while he was at the Hospice House.  The rooms there were set up to look like real bedrooms in real homes.  They even had a sliding glass door with a wonderful patio.  I remember looking out and wishing that it was warm so Dad could enjoy the warmer temperatures.  But this time last year, it was still freezing.  Looking back it seems like last winter started in October and lasted until mid April.  Dad was miserable when it was cold.

I would stay and talk with him until he was tired and wanted to go to sleep.  Only then would I leave.  And we laughed and just talked. I would tell him about my day, about work, about things in general. And sometimes we didn’t way anything, we were just silent. He was tired often, and talking, thinking and keeping up with the conversation would take all of his energy. I went to leave, and I hugged him and told him I loved him like I always did.  And he looked at me and thanked me for everything that I had done for him…because I was the only child that would be there for him and do these things.  It broke my heart.  He was so sad when he said it.

I know he wanted so bad for my other sister to be there, but no one could fine her or get a hold of her. She had refused to help, then just disappeared, and no one knew why or how to reach  her. So we just thought she changed her number, since all we got was a recording when we tried to call.  I didn’t know what to tell Dad…what do you say when a number is disconnected and no one hears from that person?  What do you say when emails, phone calls, text messages, get bounced back when they have said they have no time or interest in helping?

And I desperately wanted my sister too.  I didn’t know what to do, or how.  We had lost Mom so soon before, how could I handle loosing Dad? But we are often stronger than we realize. There was no way to even tell her that Dad was in Hospice, or that his treatments had stopped and we did not know how long he had left.  And even if I did tell her, would she dismiss it like she had before and just told me that I was exaggerating, like she said about when I told her mom was sick?

The creepy ex had left, and I was devastated. Then trying to be there for Dad, talking to nurses, Hospice staff, making arrangements and getting all the legal things in order for the assisted living facility. And all the medical records and coordinations between the assisted living and Hospice. Trying to keep all the family – Dad’s siblings, cousins, my siblings and his childhood, high school, college and other friends updated. Oh, yes and still working a regular job,, though they were being incredibly understanding of my situation. I was crying all the time.  I wasn’t eating or sleeping. I was exhausted and distraught.  There was no one to help and I desperately needed help and advice, I needed a shoulder.  My friends called and did what they could. But I was just lost.  And I felt so very alone

And that had to be nothing compared to what Dad was feeling and going through. I can’t even imagine. He was a good and honorable man, he worked hard, he loved my mother and was a wonderful husband. He was my hero.

And so I loved sitting with him, talking with him, eating those boiled peanuts, fixing up his room. And when he got to the assisted living place, his room was lovely, with all of his favorite things.  And I left a little not on his pillow, letting him know that I had to be at work, but that I would there later…and in the meantime, there were boiled peanuts and his favorite beer in the fridge.

And I made sure he was Ok there, and almost spent the night with him that first night.  But I was exhausted, and needed to try to sleep.  Plus, the staff was checking on him every hour at night.  I kissed him goodnight and hugged him so tight that first night as assisted living. I was both relieved and scared.  I prayed he would be OK, and not feel lonely.

The next day I was there and he was still very tired as the moved the day before had taken a lot out of him.  But I went and talked to him and laughed and made sure he was OK.  I talked with the staff and nurses, they were looking after him well.  They we checking on him, making sure he ate, helping him shower and get around, as he was still unsteady.  That was on Tuesday.

Wednesday the 22nd I went and we had dinner or lunch together (can’t remember which).  But I remember wheeling him down to the dining area and we ate. The food was good, and we enjoyed the conversation. Afterward we listened as a few of the other members who stayed there played the piano. He loved it, and for the first time in a while, I saw him smile and his eyes dance.

It was a warmish day and so I took him outside for a little while.  The grounds were lovely, and there was a little patio with chairs and a little garden at the end of the hall, which was one door down, from his apartment. We sat out there are talked a bit before I wheeled him around the grounds.  Everyone was do friendly, and I think that maybe for a brief minute, he wanted to feel better so he could enjoy where he was living. There was a cool breeze that felt c=good to me, but gave him a chill.  So we went back to his room and sat and talked for a bit.  He was soon tired and ready for a nap. I hugged him tight and left for the evening. And as always, told him I loved him so very much before I left.

I still love you so much Dad. I know you wanted to be to home, but you were trying to enjoy where you were.  They took such great care of you, better than I could have honestly.  I am thankful for that day and that time together.




This Thanksgiving

Change. It is a fact of life. Everyone, at some point, must accept it, learn to deal with it, adapt to it.  But that can very so very hard.

Usually I write about everything I am thankful for in the Month of November – a new list every day.  This Thanksgiving that seems too strange. I do look around and acknowledge the many blessings.  But I am not sure how to act really.  I am very thankful Dad is still here, thankful for my wonderful boyfriend, the fact that we have been blessed to have such a wonderful home and are building a life of love. That I have such wonderful friends who are there for me and love me, that I have a job I love at a great company.

And that I had 42 wonderful Thanksgivings with my mother.  That I was there in her last moments. And for all the wonderful talks and whispers and moments we shared, mother and daughter.  When she looked at me in the hospital and said “I know you truly love me.”  When she smiled and said “I know what that means.”  When I read the letter and notes she wrote labeled “Don’t open unless I am dead”…and how truly funny they were.  Thankful for the way she always knew just what to say, and when to say it, to make me smile and feel better.  Thankful for the taco soup and fresh cut corn that she froze, just for us, knowing she was going to pass. Still taking care of us, even now.

This Thanksgiving will be very different from the ones in the past.  Every Thanksgiving has been at my parent’s place.  Even when I lived far away, the trip would be made to make sure I was there with the rest of the family.  There was always so much food because Mom loved cooking for all of us.  The exception was last year when I begged to have the holiday feast at my place.  Mom and Dad reluctantly agreed and made the trip up to the big city.  It would turn out to be the last with my Mom.  My sister and her three boys were there too.  I treasure those memories.

This is the first year in my life that Mom will not be here for Thanksgiving, or Christmas.  This change is not welcome, but it is as it is and so I must adapt.  Thanksgiving is coming whether Mom is here or not.  And so this year we will spend Thanksgiving around M’s mother’s table. I am thankful for their generosity of taking us in. And no doubt there will be lots of love around that table. Truth be told Dad and I are at a bit of a loss this Thanksgiving…and holiday season in general.

But that is the thing about change – it opens up new opportunities. New ways of thinking about and doing things, and new possibilities.  This Thanksgiving may have a melancholy feel, but it can still be special.  This Thanksgiving is about love. And love is always a good thing.  Because love feeds the Human Spirit, fills in all of our cracks and makes us stronger.

What’s Cooking

We all have those challenges in life where you wonder how on earth can it all get done?  One of the biggest struggles in modern life is what’s for dinner?  How do you cook a balanced meal most nights, have it tasty, fresh and not take forever to prep and cook?  After working all day?  We are currently trying to figure this out.  So is a large part of the rest of the country as well.  All the planning it takes, prepping, and actual time cooking.  How to make sure everything is done and hot at the same time when each thing cooking takes a different amount of time to prep and cook?  How to cook and plan a meal for this this night, leftovers that night, the other dish the next night…so that nothing is repetitive and boring – oh and still nutritious and yummy?

Having an aging parent living with you, who is going through chemo and who has special dietary needs adds to the challenge. Growing up my Mom cooked for us almost every night. And when we had 6 foster kids, she cooked almost every night still.  We always had three balanced meals a day.  I have no idea how she did it.  Actually I do –  First, she loved taking care of others, so it gave her a tremendous amount of joy.  Second she didn’t work.  That is not knocking those who stay home – quite the opposite.  One of the most important things you can do for your family is cook, clean and take care of them.  And it is a lot of hard work.  Thus the challenge.  How to take care of the family as well as you could if you didn’t work, when you do work?

My boyfriend and I, who both work, are trying to figure out how to take care of things in and around the house as well as those who don’t work.  And the truth is – we can’t.  Those who stay home and take care of everything are nothing short of miracle workers.  There are two of us and we, combined, cannot do what my mother did, and there was only one of her.  (But then my mother was magic)

Maybe the trick is in addition to doing it together, you have to decide on a level of un-doneness. Yes, I did just make up that word. What that means is that since we do both work, and we are not miracle workers, we cannot possibly to everything.  So, if we cook great meals 4 nights a week, then eat left overs, sandwiches, soups or pizza the other nights, maybe that is enough.  Add some healthy snacks in there and maybe that is the extent of what we can get done.  Because there is still laundry, still dishes, still vacuuming, still trying to exercise, still quality family times and still trying to have a little smidgen of a social life.

Maybe finding an acceptable level of un-doneness is the secret to keeping the love as well.  There might be dust on the mantle, but if love burns bright in the fireplace, then a warm home cannot be far behind. And that’s what’s cooking at the Burch Manor.

My Mother’s Passing

She was magic.  She taught us how to catch butterflies, make home made bread, make a bed with hospital corners, tie my shoes, sing silly songs, how to read, she is the reason I am a writer…she is the reason why I am who I am, because I am my mother’s daughter. And now I must learn how to live without her.  This wonderful, magical, strong, independent, feisty, loving loyal woman.

On July 13th, my beautiful mother, passed away.  My father and I were holding her hands. She did not suffer. She very peacefully and gently slipped from our hands into the big hands of God.  While it was the most painful moment of my life, it was also the most beautiful.  It was my honor and privileged to be there for her, in her moment in that her journey.  She was surrounded by love, and I believe she chose that moment herself.

You drew a circle that shut me out, but love and I had the wits to win, we drew a circle that took you in.

Even though we were very close, even though I was there for her during the last 3 weeks, even though we talked almost every day, what I would not give for just one more hug, just one more chance to tell her I love her, just one more chance to hear her voice.  Hug your loved ones close, tell them you love them every chance you get, make sure they know.

Even though it is the way of nature – that children say goodbye to their parents, it is a very painful time.  I loved my mother very much and I will miss her every day of my life.

And there really is no way to describe such a wonderful woman, who was so full of live, so magic, so wise, and so loved.  She was a wonderful wife for 49 years, and an amazing mother. She raised 2 children, 3 grandchildren, and 63 foster children.

So many memories, so such laughter so much love.  And above everything that is her legacy: Love

Genny Burch. She LOVED.

Of Firsts

In our life we all have a lists of firsts – first dates, first kisses, first job…this next month is going to be about several firsts for me. This weekend, my parents are coming up for their first visit to see my first house. Next month I am going to have my first visit with one of my sisters that I am getting to know (I am the youngest of five) and in about a month, there will be some first moments with someone very special who has re-entered into my life.

The great things about firsts is that they exciting. Filled with promise, hope and excitement of the unknown. My Mom and I have been talking and planning this first visit since I first moved into the house. We have so much do together in this new place. She has a green thumb and she is bringing plants and flowers to help me with my gardens and figuring out the landscape of my first yard. There are many conversations to be had, much wine and coffee to drink together.

And I can’t wait for Dad to see my new place. I have a to do list all set up of small projects we can do together while he is here; connecting the water line to the refrigerator, putting up shelves and such. I love working with my Dad. We used to work on small projects with my car, like changing out the break pads. But this is different, this is the first time we will be able to work on projects for my house. There is something wonderful about that, to have those memories of working with him. It’s part of what will make this house a home.

Family means so much to me, and with everything imploding with my closest sister and my parents health not being that good, I released that there were other members of my family that I want to know. The visit with one of my oldest sisters is beyond exciting and there are few words to express the emotions attached. There is so much curiosity and I only wish there was more time to get to know her. I wonder why I waited so long. I should have done this a lot sooner.

And then there is Love. There is another chance, a new chance with someone trusted, known and who knows me, down to my bones. So many years, and yet, the core is still the same. The first time at a second chance. And when we are in the same space, there is a sense of calm, a sense of comfort, a place where I can relax. And in my head I hear what so many have said for years: “There is no need to look. You already know him. He is already there.” I have often said when so many say the same thing, chances are it is true.

And so it is, this season of firsts. As the days get hotter and longer, the air is thick with the promise of the unknown and to move into this season with my parents, sibling and loved one is truly amazing. I knew that 2014 would be a new year of new things, and that the wheels would starting turning once I got into the new house. And indeed all the love I wanted in my life is here and all the dreams are coming to fruition. There is Peace, there is happines, there is a great life right in front of me.

No Regrets

I have no regrets, looking back on the landscape if this year, in this life. I have no regrets on what I have done and what has been left undone.

There are no words that haunt me, spoken or kept still. No actions that trouble my soul, no undone thrill.

There are no tears that have been dried or kept at bay, or escaping down my cheek from rims of wide weary eyes, that partake in regret.

No longing set free, no feelings left unturned. There is nothing to look back upon, and wish another way for me.

And as I look back, standing at the edge of this year, this long, hard, undone, overdone year, there is nothing that makes me want a other walk down the path or choose another road than the one I have traveled.

There has been compassion and contention, love, discord, pain and happiness. More joy than one can hold, more sorrow than one should endure. There have been sacrifices and giving of self, hiding, finding, sipping and devouring…it all.

I am all of it, every bit. The complete all of it, the unfinished of it, the breadth and depth of it. I am glad for it all, the good bad and the big and small.

I have no regrets waking up with you, all of you and your deals, wet from us and warm with skin on mine. No regrets of swimming, riding with my bare feet on the dash or taking a shower in the rain. No regrets sitting, listening to drops on the tin roof, in your little place. No regrets of you at all.

No regrets for fighting for family and what is right. None for being brave, saying what is felt and what should have been said long ago. No regrets for the love and loss of the year as it has passed.No regrets for the mistakes and lessons learned.

There has been hard work, harder play and many things let go this year. I carried the map of my life with every. Single. Heartbeat. And you were there too. Yes you.

Books have been read, put down and some left unfinished. Thoughts written down and lost or erased from time. And still, no regrets. Nooks and crannies have been explored, many prayers said and blessing given. Dreams have come to fruition, nightmares have been banished beneath the cloak of in in which they came.

I have carried this heart, heavy with sorrow and joy, across this country, in cars, in airplanes, in boats, up on a horse in hiking trails, in the woods, in the city, to work, to run, in water, in the anonymity of the night, and the harsh light of day.

This year, this 12 months, I have been the judge and jury, been judged and done the judging, been right, wrong, black, white and gray. I have laid it all out and picked up the deck.

And at the end of this year, this moment in my life, there is Peace. There is happiness. Mostly because, all because, you have been in my heart.

Family Habits

We, as humans, are creatures of habit.  Whatever we do, the cycles we have, the patterns we display, all show habit is part of the human condition. And what is great about having my family living with me, is seeing habits and cycles form.

We, as a family, seem to have a rhythm. I know the days my sister will be tired, and nights my nephews will want a good meal after that hard class. They know my moods and rhythms too. Now, if we could only all get into the rhythm of cleaning the kitchen, that would be great.

But it is interesting watching them form. Which days we sit and watch TV, which nights we sit around the dinner table laughing, which nights we drink wine, and which nights we all just want to go to bed early. Who does their laundry on what night of the week.

I love when we all get together in one of our rooms and chat. Love when we enjoy a good dinner together, love when we gather around the calendar and talk about who needs to be where, when doing what. I love the planning that goes along with being a family. Love moving as a unit, together, even when we are separate. It makes my heart happy to have those that I love so dearly, around os close.

I have learned that family is what makes a house a home and what gives a home a soul. The cabinets in the bathroom for Mom. The caffee for my nephew, the teas for my sister. The place where we write down what we need for groceries. Seeing their things around to remind me that others are close by. Hearing them get ready in the morning, as they try not to trip over the playful cats. grilling on the back patio, buying things I know they will love. All the joy that comes form the soul they bring with them into the home. And they Peace they bring into my own heart.

But that’s the thing about family – friends, lovers, jobs and even habits may come and go, but family is forever. So you might as well get into the habit of being a good strong one and working together for a happy household.

Between the Lines

I have not been writing as much recently, or in the last few days or so. This is a bit odd to be because I am used to writing and posting almost every day. But something is happening. I am busy enjoying life.

And it occurred to me that sometimes you have to stop writing about life, and start living it in order to have something valuable to write and say later. Sometimes you have to take a break, take a few steps back, gain perspective and just enjoy.

It is different than writers block, because frankly I do have a lot about which to write. But they are things that might seem boring, like how I love to sit and look at the Christmas tree when the lights are off. Or how much I am looking forward to my sister’s visit for her birthday. Or even how thrilled I am that the Christmas presents that I have ordered for loved ones are arriving. Or how much I look forward to going to the formal holiday parties and dressing up, how much I enjoy re-connecting with friends right now, how I am enjoying long slow kisses, my new work space, even getting lost in the new parking deck for 30 minutes (have I mentioned my lack of sense of direction?). How O need to vacuum my house because the dust bunnies are waging war against the tufts of cat hair. How I am enjoying my house plants actually blooming inside, or how much I am looking forward to New Years.

How I am enjoying long looks, happy dinners and much laughter. How it is shopping with friends, finding the perfect dress with the perfect fit, a glass of wine and good conversation, a hot cup of tea, a fire, a long run, crisp mornings, purring kitties, snuggling up to him that is making life just delicious. THat taking a break is not always a bad thing, that it can mean that life is blooming right before your eyes.

I am actually too busy enjoying all of these things to actually take the time to write about them as much as I want. And that may not be a bad thing. It is often what others may find boring that comprises our lives. But that does not mean out lives are boring, far from it actually. Because life is mostly made up of those tiny little moments that may not mean much to others, but mean so much to each one of us individually. Life is all that which we do not write, that makes it so wonderful, mysterious, interesting and beautiful. Life is what happens between the lines.

So here I am, enjoying my spot between the lines. Enjoying the “boring” parts, where everything in my life right now is special, magic and wonderful, and just for me.

The Joys of Christmas

Day 28, Christmas decorations:  Today I am thankful for Christmas decorations.  This past Thanksgiving weekend, my Mother decided to pass her huge collection of Christmas Ornaments on to My sister and I. This was sad and exciting at the same time. Sad because she will not be putting up a Christmas Tree, exciting because the ornaments I have looked at since I was a little girl will now be hanging on my tree.

The decorating has already started and by the time it is all done, it will look like Christmas exploded in my house. Already there is mistletoe, Mr. and Mrs Claus by the front door and big red velvet bows.  There are Christmas place mats and table clothes, bowls, candle holders, stockings and stocking holders. There are Christmas pot holders, mantle decorations, a table top Christmas tree, tinsel, wall hangings and Salt and pepper shakers. And that is just the beginning! 

The Christmas tree will be put up and decorated tonight. My little Charlie Brown tree will be loaded down with Christmas ornaments old and new. There will be lights, balls, crosses, angels, bears, sheep, candy canes, mice, bells, bows, Santas, and even a Christmas Octopus. Oh, it will be wonderful. And the whole time the tree is being decorated, there will be Christmas music playing.

Did I mention I get a little excited and go maybe a little bit overboard with the Christmas  decorations? But it makes me happy to sit at night, with all the lights off, except of the soft glow of my little Christmas tree, lights shining like little diamonds. Once I even kept it up until September. It was the New Years Tree, the St. Pat’s Day Tree, the Easter Tree, the Labor Day Tree…it was great even if all of my friends made fun of me and called me a redneck. I just hated the idea pf taking it down. (note: The ornaments get very dusty when left up that long. Dust often)

The first year I had a cat I made the mistake of putting the pretty tinsel onto the tree…and then I discovered a very colorful litter box. Oh you have not experienced the joys of pet ownership until you have fished multi-colored tinsel out of a little box.

Then there was the cat who loved to get a running start and fly into the Christmas tree. His name was Taz. I came home once and found all but one branch torn off the tree that year. Well, the branches he did d not try to eat anyway. That was also the year he ate my favorite strappy sandals, my iPod and my favorite sweater. Alas, I do not have that very sweet, albeit hungry kitty anymore.

There was the time I got tangled up in my Christmas tree and fell to the floor with a thud. I am sure to the outside public it might have looked as if the tree had come alive and was flailing around the floor. It might have even  looked like a Christmas tree monster. Oddly enough, my cats have been terrified to come near the Christmas tree since then.

And this year will be extra special. I did not put a tree up last year as I was just too busy. That was the first year of my life that there was no Christmas tree, so this year must be extra special to make up for it.

So let the decorating begin!




Within Our Own Imperfections

I’m learning that within our own imperfections we find the greatest truths, unconditional love, appreciation and a mirror of who we really hope to be on the inside on good and bad days. – Jennifer Jo Clark Singleton

I have long written about our faults, how they make us beautiful, human, complicated, deep and of course, flawed. One of the things these imperfections also do is help us find those greatest truths, not only about ourselves, but others in our lives. Within our own flaws, we can see a deeper.

It’s easy for others to like us and even for us to like ourselves on the good days. But what about the bad days? Those days when we know we are short tempered, overly emotional, angry, irritable, impatient and just bitchy. When we are tired, hurt, frazzed, discouraged, insecure and un-pretty. Those days when we really want to be the super hero we try to be, but just can’t seem to find the energy.  We are human and that is not always pretty.

Those people who love us anyway see us on a deeper level, because they see us even when we are not proud of ourselves. It’s all part of really getting to know someone, faults and all, from the inside out, from the soul to the toes. When we see that person is not perfect, they suddenly become real and are no longer 2-demensional. They are suddenly human, like us. Within our own imperfections we find God, Grace, compassion, comfort and healing.

I am going to have those bad days, as are you and everyone else in the world. Because we are human. We will lose our tempers, say the wrong things, lash out and just get irritable. Then we think about what was done or said and find our deeper selves. We feel remorse, and we apologize. we rebuild, we re-trust. We try and in trying, we become better – on those good days and even when we fall short on the bad days.

Within our imperfections, we strive to be better.

And within our flaws we can realize our dreams as well. We strive and work hard  toward making the “Me” we want to be, with the lives we want to have, reality.

I want to take long walks down roads and trails with yellow and red leaves. I want to make delicious meals in a big kitchen with an island. I want to have friends over and drink wine on the deck or patio. I want a yard in which children can play and I want laughter and love running down a hallway leading into bedrooms full of toys and fairy tales. And I want someone with which to share those wonderful things. Someone to laugh with, kiss at midnight and talk into the early hours. Someone whose flaws I can live with, and who can somehow, see the deeper treasure in the real 3-dementional me.

So I strive, everyday to be better. And when I fall short, as I will, I find comfort in the compassion and understanding of the hand that takes mine, the voice that says it is OK, the smile that re assures me that being human is just fine because I am in good company. And as I look in the mirror, as I look out to my friends and loved ones, and see them bare souled with imperfections too, I know it is true.


Perspective in Between

We all have those moments in life where something happens that just puts everything into perspective. And this week has been no exception, with a wonderful surprise at the end.

We take stock in our lives, think about the past, regrets and sweet memories, and have hopes for the future. We  take an honest look at ourselves and smile; hopeful, scared, excited, and knees shaking. We breath. We have faith. We take a leap. We trust. We go slow. We hold anothers hand and lean on a shoulder. We steady one another, yet sometimes walk alone, as we go down the roads of our life.

And somehow, the smoke clears, the dust settles and we look around with a new perspective. Not just for us, but for others as well. There are things that happen that make us so very aware of the fagilty of life, love, the heart and loved ones. Of right and wrong, of mercy and faith, of chances, changes, hurts and scrapes. We learn what is to be sacred and what is to be let go.

And at the end of this emotional rollercoaster week, my heart has grown several sizes. This week has been a gift, though a rough one to open. And maybe because, all because, of love, life and everything in the spaces between.

I may be dressed head to toe in love, but my accessories are by a new perspective.

Lightning and Prayers

When I was a Little girl, my Father and I wold sit outside and watch the storms roll in. Mainly we wold watch the lightning flash across the sky. We would sit out there for hours sometimes, just watching the beautiful displays of power and electricity. Sometimes we would eat boiled peanuts, sometimes we would just sit out there and talk.

As I was driving yesterday, I noticed several wonderful flashes of lightning and thought of my dear Father. Those are some of the most cherished memories I have of spending time with him. And I cannot see a lighting storm and not think of watching the sky with my Dad. It makes my heart warm and a smile on my face.

Please say a prayer as he is back in the hospital.


Finally. As I sit alone in my room, in my bed, surrounded by what is familiar and comforting, I finally feel a bit normal. After a bit of reading a great book that I have not had time to pick up for the last two weeks and getting drawn into the delicious story, sipping Sleepy Time tea, my two cats happy and purring, one on either side of me, I start to relax.

I do not feel like bursting into tears, I do not feel wrought with worry, I do not feel anxious or irritable. Even all of my writing, creativity desperately pouring out of me as I pound the keyboard, has not been able to quiet my brain from the thoughts of what if and doctors, and family, and hospitals and grief and the possibility of such a deep loss. All in my family are healthy and alive tonight. For this I am so very grateful.

Now, in this moment, all is quiet and well. For the first time in a month. And I look down a my small feet and red toenail polish that matches my fingertips, let my head rest on the wrought metal headboard of my massive sleigh bed, and sigh. Finally. Normalcy.

normalcy – being within certain limits that define the range of normal functioning

GREAT version of this song…great song for a watcher….

Bannana Pudding

There is a song by Jack Johnson called Banana Pancakes. It talks about how it’s raining outside, why not just stay in and he will make the girl some Banana pancakes. Great song, and a wonderful thing to do if you are with that special someone. However, this weekend, it is all about the Banana pudding.

My father loves Banana pudding, and my mom loves to make it for him. Especially since I love her Banana pudding too. So she and I head to the kitchen to make it. Her recipe is quite involved. Actually, hers is the only recipe I have made, so I don’t know if it’s just her recipe, or if Banana pudding just takes forever to make.Finally it is done and has to cool.

While it cools I go and help my father with is to do list in the outside kitchen. We call it the outside kitchen, but it is really a separate building that is a kitchen and screened in patio. It is wonderful for summer cookouts as the grill is located right outside the patio, and a fire pit just a bit away for marshmallow roasts and ghost stories with my nephews and neighborhood children. He and I work on his to do list. As a Daddy’s girl, I love helping him with projects and going fishing. It has been raining, as the tail end of all those storms that went through Atlanta last night make their way through here today. There will be no fishing later.

And finally we are done. My Dad does not know about the surprise we made for him earlier. When we come in, Mom shows him the huge container holding his favorite food in the world. Yes, family and banana pudding are so good for the soul. I look them and am so thankful that they both survived incurable cancer. Mom, stage 4+ Ovarian cancer, and Dad, liver cancer. I am so blessed beyond measure. Two walking miracles, who happen to be my parents, who just happen to be the best parents in the world, who happen to love me very much.

So many times in life it is the little things that end up with significant meaning. Such a small thing, and yet every time I think about it, I smile because I think of my family. And there are a thousand little things we have in our lives that remind us of our blessings, our wonderful memories, our laughter, loved ones and good times. And that is worth more than all the gold in the world.

Why yes, I’ll have some more pudding…


The Heart of the Matter

It is Ada’s Day of pampering. Started off by sleeping late, then a delicious breakfast, then a manicure, then a massage, then a haircut and style. Yes, this is a day long over due…months over due actually. I slept like a log, but not much keeps me from a good nights sleep, woke up happy and hungry. I am excited today, for my day of pampering.

We all want to feel special and significant. We all want to feel the healing power of the human touch. Of gentleness and thoughtfulness. And I don’t mean in a sexual way. I mean in the basic human way. We all want to feel like we matter. That our thoughts matter, our feelings matter, our lives matter. Because it does, it all does, and we matter. I matter.

For a while I shut down and shut off. Everything. But today is a new day, and that is the great thing about tomorrow, it is a new day too. Today, I matter and tomorrow too. Not because someone says I do, but because deep down, I say I do.

And that is why today excites me. Because today I am not shut down. Or tomorrow either. I am opening up to the world again, after a bit of a break. Oh, I imagine I will still be uncomfortable with the whole vulnerable thing, I always have been. I don’t like being the first to say something, the first to stick their neck or heart out there. I will still be cautious in matters of the heart, fast will still make me nervous, actions will still speak louder than words, and the proof is what is in front of you. I will still trust and bond over those small physical signs of affection, I will still have doubts and fears.  But…

But, today is my day of pampering. Because, at the heart of the matter, we all deserve to matter. We all deserve to be pampered, just a little. Because, at the heart of the matter, our heart does matter, just as much as our head and brains.

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.

Teeneage Daddy’s Girls and Their Mothers

Went to a good friends birthday party tonight and saw some friends I had not seen in a long time. Of course the topics between us girls turned to love, boys and being a teenage girl and how important our mothers were during this time. Ok guys, this is where you might want to stop reading. Really.

No matter how much 0f a Daddy’s girl you are growing up (and I was a huge Daddy’s girl, and still am), you still need your mother. This is because no matter how close a girl is to her father, there are conversations that either you don’t want to have with your father at that age, or questions that you know he will not have the slightest clue how to answer. Things like – tampons…do you use them or not? I remember a big question among my young teenage friends and I was can you use them if you are a virgin? Would you still be a virgin? How do you insert them? How do you get them out? Can they really go so far in that you can’t find them? If you don’t use tampons, what is the difference between pads and panty liners?  And what does it mean when one side is cramping more than another right before? Is that normal? What about the whole sore boob thing? What about lipstick, eye shadow, and pretty panties? What about how to walk in heels? What about so many other things that happen?

I love my Dad, he is my hero. He and I have always had a great relationship and even though he is a man of very few words, I have always known his love for his daughters. But I cannot imagine the expression on his face if I had ever even gotten up the nerve to ask him about these teenage girl things. He probably would have had a heart attack. I think I would have gone to a friends mom first – to save both of us from the embarrassment. The whole puberty thing is a very confusing and awkward time for girls. You have boobs, a period and all these hormones and no idea what to do with any of them.

So, to our mothers…who answered all of our questions and helped keep us teenage girls sane. And who are probably the reason why many of us are still Daddy’s girls.

Never Know

 I have lost two very loved uncles in 6 months time. The first, literally hundreds of people came and spoke of how my uncle changed their lives. There were so many who spoke of his generosity, his love for life, his love for people, his stories, how much he loved his wife, his laughter. It was truly a celebration. The service this weekend for my other uncle was a private, just family. And we all talked about how we remembered him. There was a lot of faith, as our family is very spiritual and religious. Everyone  spoke of what an honorable man he was, how he had integrity in business and well has his personal life. What a great and devoted father he was. My father actually said My uncle was his hero. That is substantial because my father is my hero.

You never know how what you do and the life you live affects others. How that ripple effect grows. You never realize how they way you live your life is noticed by others. I loved both my uncles so much, and it was a joy to see how much they were loved and respected by others as well. It was a joy to see how they touched others and how well they were respected. I found out also that a very loved cousin was in a serious accident and we almost lost her as well.

Losing two dear members of my family, and a past co worker, makes one think. It has not changed any priorities in my life per say, because I think I have those in good order. But it makes me so very thankful and grateful for my life, and for all those who are in it. It also gives me hope. When I get discouraged in life, loose faith in the goodness of people, I have to look no farther than my own family to be reminded of the morals in which I seek. I know that while these teachings may be rare in this day and age, certainly we are not the only family to hold then close. I look at my family, and their faith in God, and have my faith renewed.

I am grateful to be a member of my family, a family that has taught many generations, about the old fashioned values we hear so much about but see so seldom. A family that truly loves each other. With the service this weekend, and with every time we all get together, there is so much love. It is literally tang able, thick enough to cut, and that is so rare in a family as large as ours.That we are a family of deep faith and unfailing loyalty. That we understand the meaning of honor and integrity, because we hold ourselves to the standards of those who came before us, not the watered down morals of today.

Yes, I am proud to be a part of the family whose name I carry. I am proud of the people in my family, proud of what we stand for, proud of what we are known for, proud to say that yes, I am theirs and they are mine. And that is such a blessing. Life is to be lived and celebrated. And we should all live and love to a higher standard than what we see in this day and age. Depth of character is far too rare these days, but I hear it is making a comeback.


Feeling the Foot of Life

 The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground. – Buddha

We all have certain things that we read that just hit home for it, strike a chord and make us feel something. Yesterday as I was looking through some quotes I saw this and it has just stayed with me, rattling around in my brain for the last 24 hours or so. It just struck me as very vital right now.

To me it means that we are not meant to be stagnant, we are meant to be learning, growing and feeling, always reaching beyond ourselves and our experience to learn more about this life and the world in which we live. We cannot truly feel ourselves until we feel, and are in touch with, the world around us. We feel the most ourselves, when we touch others, emotionally, spiritually, physically. And I think communication is at the heart of it. For everything we do, not just what we say, communicates something.

Finding someone to understand what we are communicating is very important, but so too is understanding the communication of others. Again, we feel the most ourselves, when we touch others. I think we do that by listening and perceiving communication from those around us. We all just want to know that we are understood and accepted. And how can we touch another in a more profound sense than to simply understand and accept them? This is easier said than done now doubt, because they must also complete with our own need to be understood, and heard.

Then lines get crossed, misunderstandings happen, communication shuts down and pretty soon, we are not feeling ourselves or the other person any more. It’s a vicious cycle. But if we just kept the simple yet deeply profound statement in our minds, maybe we could remember the simplicity of communication. The theory is simple, but the practice is intricate and complex.

I believe that we should always be curious, to always ask why or how. Exploring what is around us and being inquisitive about life is the key to growing. The familiar is comfortable, and ultimately where we go to recharge, but if we ever stop being curious, we stop learning.  If we stop learning we stop growing, and if we stop growing , we die. Maybe don’t actually die, but I think a part of our spirit does. And many times we stop short because of fear – fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of being misunderstood. What we forget is that in ourselves, in just the fact that we exist, we are perfect. And communication is not only educational but healing.

So  live life to the fullest and experience everything life has to offer. And many times that means shutting up, getting off the couch and learning to communicate. Truly interact with the complexities of life, digest them, deep within you, and your soul, to know that which you are capable. Life is a mystery and do we really have anything better to embark on the adventure of solving 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.

Grace and Thoughts

Yesterday was a very emotional and wonderful day for me, to find out that my father’s cancer is gone, liver cancer which is almost always a death sentence because it has been considered “Incurable,” is tremendous. To find that he will be fine once he gets over the effects of his last round of chemo, has left me stunned and amazed.

There truly are no words to describe the feeling. Both my parents have now survived and been cured or incurable, terminal cancers. It is a realization that has had a profound effect on me.

Yesterday, I sobbed. I sobbed outof happiness,  out of thankfulness, out of amazement and out of humbleness. Miracles have that effect on people. And my family has had a wonderful stream of miracles.

And I sobbed for another reason yesterday. How can I  be worthy of such miracles? I do not deserve them. I have done nothing that good. I have not been to church in many months, actually before the attack. I have not forgiven, I am still angry, I have not earned what I have been given. And yet, there is Grace for me.

And I have not been to service because I have not felt like I can ask forgiveness from God when I cannot forgive others. How can I? And this very wise person said to me, that I do no have to, that God’s forgiveness and love are a gift. His Grace is a gift. He can forgive us because he is God and is capable of infinite love. He is much more capable than we, in our limited human state, can even comprehend. Why, how, then would I expect myself to be at that level and able to forgive? If I cannot it is because I am human and have human limitations. But God’s Grace is there for me, and that is why it is called Grace.

And I sobbed. From the very deepest places within me, I sobbed.  It is one thing to read about the Grace of God, it is entirely another thing to have the realization that it is truly gifted to you when you try with all you have and still come up short.

This morning, I slept a bit late and let this really sink into me, into those deep places that seldom see light, into my soul and my inner conscienceness. And today, though I still walk around a bit stunned, I can feel something creep in….it is a joy that I have not felt in a long time. A joy deeper than I thought it could go. And I truly believe that anything is possible.

Don’t get me wrong, I have always been a very faithful and optimistic person, but this is deeper than I have felt before. It is more than a belief, it is a knowing. And how can I not know? How can I look at my parents, both who should be on deaths door with cancer, and not carry the belief that there are an infinite amount of possibilities out there? How can I not believe that my dreams can really come true when I look at the miracles in my family?

And so it is with this renewed sense of joy that I great the world with today, and every day from this day forward, with thankfulness in my heart, God in my soul, Grace in my mind and a sense of adventure in my hands.

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 (http://www.emoryhealthcare.org/emory-university-hospital-atlanta/index.html). 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)

The Wedding Band

The Wedding Band

It is beautiful. Made of gold and platinum. I have looked at many years, at how it sparkles when the light catches the beveled edges just right. How it shines and how the many years of wearing have only made it shine even more brilliantly.To me it symbolizes love, loyalty, honor and happiness. My Mother gave it to me this past summer when I was to be married. It is her wedding band, the band that symbolizes her 44  years (and counting) with my father. I nearly cried when she gave it to me.

And I kept wearing it even after, as it comforted me to feel it around my finger, letting me know that I am never alone in this world. That there are always those who love and will stand behind me. This ring also symbolizes everything that I have been taught about how to be a good woman to the man you love.  To me it symbolizes the kind of values, relationship and marriage I want when that time comes. It also reminds me that the best love stories are the ones that happen over time, it is evidence of that slow burn. They knew each other and were friends for 5 year before they were married. Theirs is truly a love story of a lifetime.

And mostly because, all because, it reminds me of the love my parents have had and always will have for each other. They are a constant source of inspiration for me.

I remember not so long ago, my parents walking along the banks of the water, holding hands talking and laughing. My sister and I were so mesmerized by their love for each other that we could not take our eyes off of them. We just sat and watched them as they walked around, hand in hand, after so many years. It was truly heartwarming.

I have many beautiful pieces of jewelry, diamond rings, necklaces and bracelets. And yet I do not wear them often. What I do wear every day, is this ring. To me, it is the most beautiful piece of jewelry that I have ever owned. And when I look down at it, on my finger, I know, without a doubt, that I am loved. That they are with me, that I am never alone. It is one word: Connection. It is the physical reminder of the connection of family, and all that my family means to me.

Mom and Dad laughing as I tried to take a picture of them

It reminds me of my fathers voice, and his kind words of advice to me over the years, of working on my car, in the rain. It reminds me of when he would try to read me fairy tales when I was a child and he would always mispronounce the names. It reminds me of the many funny moments I have had with my mother and how she has always supported me, held me as I cried through my teenage, and even adult, heartaches. How she taught me, and teaches me still, how to cook her wonderful recipes. How both of them show me how they love me in their own individual ways.

And it makes me love that wedding band all the more.

Christmas Angels

Christmas time is always special, but this year, it is just extra special. Maybe it is because my Father is alive, maybe it is the love my parents share, maybe it is because we are all together, maybe it is because I am alive and not married to a monster, maybe it is because we truly love each other and enjoy each others company. I don’t know, but this has been the most wonderful and happiest Christmas we have ever had. No one has taken anything for granted.

The sweetest thing has been watching my father’s delight in spoiling my mother. He absolutely showered my mother with gifts. Now, Christmas is not about gifts, it is about love and the birth of Jesus, but it is been wonderful to watch my fathers expression of delight as my mother opened everything from him. My mother is the least materialistic person on the planet. She appreciates and loves my father no matter what. Their love for each other serves as example to me, and the kind of love I want to have when I get married, and nothing less is acceptable. Because I know true love really exists. Not only because I have felt it, but because I have lived with it as an example all my life.

I watched and took pictures and videos of my father while Mom was opening up her gifts. He was glowing. He just delights in pleasing her and making her happy. They not only teach love to their children and grandchildren, they live it. They have not only taught us how to treat our loved ones, they have lead by example. I know how a man is, and is not, supposed to treat me, by watching how my father treats my mother. He has never raised his voice or his hand to her. He cherishes and loves her her above everyone else, and would never do anything the hurt her, physically or emotionally. And that is one of the many reasons he is and always will be one of my hero.

My nephews had a great Christmas as well, and they felt very loved. As I walked around taking pictures of everyone, I heard the very happy contentment of conversation. The oldest and youngest nephews looking at the latest electronic gadget, and the middle working with his grandfather putting another together. My Mom looking after everyone like she does, the pets playing and running around exited by the wrapping and happiness in the air. And somehow, The Man has made me feel very wanted, appreciated and needed from many miles away.

There was a flurry of activity as we ran in between family houses to wrap all the gifts…where we the scissors? Who was the last person to have that particular paper, and where is the tape?  We ran out of boxes, a first for our family, so gifts became strange lumpy wrapped shapes. At some point bows and ribbon we just abondonned, as the hour was getting late. We are usually very creative with gift wrapping – even making one gift with antlers called it Rudolf a few years ago. But after the boxes ran out, creativity took on a new meaning. I did have the honor of recieving the worst wrapper of the year.

And then there is the food. Oh, the food, food, food. My mother knows how to feed an army. She is an amazing cook and baker. We have been stuffed with homemade candied peanuts (a favorite of all who have tried them), turkey, and lots of tasty treats. There have also been a lot of phone conversations with loved ones far away. There was one strange phone call from a man whose voice Mom did not recognize at 3301 Glenwood Circle, holiday, Fl and he hung up before speaking to my father, but outside of that, the conversations have been good and the laughter free flowing.

Last night we stayed up wrapping gifts…then the boys (my nephews) wanted to stay with the tradition of everyone unwrapping one gift on Christmas Eve and the rest Christmas morning. However, once they started they could not stop. It was a joy to watch, as I tried to keep up with taking pictures of everyone. Today there was breakfast, then we all perfected the art of lounging. Do not be fooled by it’s seeming easiness. You must work very hard to truly master the art of lounging. And we all worked very hard and worked up an hearty appetite for our delicious Christmas Dinner.

Yes, this is the kind of Christmas we will always cherish, because of the amount of love in our house. I have to thank my parents for this. It is their love for each other that truly sets the tone for the holidays. So much laughter, kindness, quirkyness and fun. I love my family and am blessed to have them around me. It has been said that angels are among us, and looking at my family I know it is surely true.  🙂

Aging and Wisdom

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets/hub.1324331373.htmlAge is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. Mark Twain

As Christmas, the new year, and then my birthday approaches, I think about getting another year old, and of getting older period I ahve always loved the idea of getting older, as Father Time and I made a deal a long time ago: I only get better with age. The first time I saw one of those fine lines around my eyes, I panaicked, then I looked a little closer in the mirror and realized that with that line, I became more beautiful than I had ever been. And so it goes.
I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that. Lauren Bacall
On my 30th birthday , I could not stop smiling. It was probably my worst birthday – my Mom dying of cancer, I was in a new place where I did not know anyone, and my boyfriend out of town on business…and yet, there was a smile that would not go away. Finally, I had arrived. And I supposed that is how I have felt ever since. With each birthdya there is an arrival, or wisdom, of expereince, of knowing, of sophistication, of life. Finally, I am old enough to do the thigns that I want, young enough to still have the energy to do them, and making enough money to do them as well. Why would I want to go back to the younger years?
Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength. Betty Friedan
Don’t get me wrong, I had a ball in my twenties. I partied a little, dated, stayed up all night driving to thte beach just to watch a sunrise over the water, went out with the wrong men jsut for fun, bought things I could not afford, took chances that drove my family crazy and marched through life with an innocence and just knew it would all be OK.. And it was. But, I have had more fun in my 30’s then even my best days in my 20’s. Because I am older, and wiser and can afford more, and am more comfortable in my own skin.
Yes, I am going to have much fun this next year, and I will earn every wrinkle, every fine line, every gray hair (thoogh I have colored my hair for so long I truly would not know if I had any). I will make this year the best age yet…though I say that every year. But i have so much fun every year because I never stop being curious, never stop learning, never stop asking questions and being open to the answers. I may not like what I learn, but I learn it just the same. And I am more of a woman, a person, a human being, because of my knowledge.
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.  Henry Ford
The one thing I do miss bout youth is the innocence and Niavitee that goes along with it. Sometimes I miss thinking that the world is perfect, that there are really no bad people out there. One you have staired in the eyes of the Devil, you loose that innocence. But what age makes you realize, in that wisom caused by expereince, is that you can completely envelope those expereinces, until there is no trace left, until it is only, wholly I. And that wonderful morsel is only something Iknow because of my age.
I’m happy to report that my inner child is still ageless. James Broughton
So it is with this attitude and excitement that I go forward another year, another age. And I raise my glass to Father Time and thank him. Because this year, there will be so many wonderful things to celebrate. There will be dancing, travel, laughter, writing, adventure, new expereinces, new questions, new answers, new opportunities, new life, new romance, new chances, a new age. And this, all of this, mostly because, all because, I have been blessed with a wonderful life.

What is Really Important

There are times in life where you stop to ponder and consider the things that are truly important in life. This has been one of those weekends. I went and saw my sister and nephews yesterday and had a wonderful time. Here are some of the things that are the most important to me:

  1. Family: My oldest nephew and I have always had a connection, and I pretty much put him through his first two years of college. The single most important investment I have ever made. To support and invest in someone’s future is an amazing thing. And as I watch him grow and develop into the amazing young man that he has become, I know all the sacrifices have been worth it. Spending time with my other nephews this weekend just makes me see how lucky I am to be involved in the young lives of such incredible young men. My sister and parents and two of my best friends and this year has only brought us closer. My father is my hero, my mother my biggest cheerleader, and my sister is…my big sister who always takes care of me.
  2. Friends: They are my heart and my support. I love them.  No man is an island and I could not be where I am today without them.
  3. Health: My health and the health of my loved ones is so very important. With my father’s cancer still going, every day we have him is a blessing. We hope and pray that the treatments will be done in January, but it depends on if the tumor in his liver is gone. My mother had stage 4+ Ovarian cancer and endured treatments from 2001-2003.  She survived, but those two years were two of the most difficult of all of our lives.My own brush with death this year made me face my own mortality and everything I truly have to loose. Without your health, you have very little.
  4. Believing in yourself: You must believe in yourself and your abilities. Forget what anyone else says, don’t pay attention to them. This is your life. It’s not about them, it’s about you. I forget that sometimes and get wrapped up in others’ opinions, and that can get me offtrack and off center. The secret is truly to just get away from it. Whatever it is, it cannot distract you if you do not let it in your circle, your world. Do what you know is right and listen to yourself and your own conscience. You will never go wrong in being the best you can be if you believe in yourself.
  5. Happiness: We all must find that place within ourselves, deep down, from which our happiness comes. You know that place that no one else can touch. I have found that place deep inside myself and it has helped me through many hard times. For me it comes from my Faith in God. That is where my joy originates. But everyone must find it for themselves, and keep it, hold onto it. What originates your joy will be the place you return to to get you through the rough times.
  6. Passion: No matter who you are, where you are, or what you do, you must be passionate about something. It doesn’t matter what it is, just as long as you have passion. I am convinced that it is my passion for living life, for writing, for being the best I can be that has made my life so wonderful. Having passion is the difference between existing and really living.
  7. Love: Pretty self explanatory. Tis the season for love. But you must have it all year, not just around Christmas. Surround yourself with positive, loving people and you will always be in good company. And don;t forget about romance. I am truly enjoying that right now too.

These are the six things that are the most important to me and my life and this weekend has been a great reminder. Tomorrow is church then spending  time with the man. Life is good.