I’m pretty sure nobody notices but me…

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The last picture I took of my two loves together.

It’s almost been a year. His clothes still hang in the laundry room and in his closet – untouched. His boots still sit by the kitchen door ready for him to slip on if need be. I still feel his presence behind me as I sit at my desk. I slowly turn to make sure he’s not sitting in his old blue recliner and this hasn’t just been a horrible dream and that months ago we really didn’t put that old recliner by the curb as trash. I go about my business in the house and sometimes I see him out of the corner of my eye.

I miss him.

His ashes still sit on the bookcase shelf instead of being scattered on the mountains in Mentone, Alabama where he wanted to rest.

Seems I can’t let go of him just yet.

And I’m pretty sure nobody notices but me.

Because life goes on whether we do or not. People still go to work and school and church. People still eat at fancy restaurants and buy new clothes and fall in love. People still have babies and go to amusement parks and scream and laugh so hard that tears roll down their cheeks.

While behind closed doors unworn clothes still hang in closets.

Unworn shoes still sit by doors.

Ashes remain unscattered.

And I’m pretty sure nobody notices but me.

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This Blog Needs To Be ABOUT Something

And I need to do a Part Two to my It’s Time Part One.

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I jump around willy-nilly and write about whatever hits me when it hits me. I have no rhyme or reason. I have no glue. Or should that be clue? Well, I don’t have a clue either. That is just one of my many imperfections. I’m wishy-washy.

It is well with my soul.

I am growing and learning.  Life is filled with such wonder. I am amazed. Everyday. I am amazed at life.

Here’s my problem according to the experts:  I don’t know what my niche is. Do I even have a niche? What is a niche anyway.

I am art journaling these days. This blog could be about my “creative” self. Been taking all kinds of classes. Learning that it’s ok if I’m messy and do stupid stuff and can’t draw worth beans. It’s ok…EVERYTHING is ok. That sweetheart, is music to my ears. Whatever I do…is how it’s supposed to be.

{patting me on the back}

My doctor told me last week that I HAD to lose weight and I HAD to start moving my body! Ok…this blog could be about my journey into health.

I am decluttering my home, life, brain, computer, office. That would be an awesome blog cause I am at the bottom. Starting at ground zero. Well minus zero really. It’s bad people. I am so messy and I have to keep everything because well…it’s mine. Except trash. No, that’s not true. I even keep what others would call trash to use in my Remains of the Day Journal. A class taught by Mary Ann Moss that is just the most wonderful class you will ever take.

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Oh, I almost forgot I have a class starting December 15th with Mary Ann called Ticket To Venice.

MaryAnnMossI think I may be in way over my head on this one. I don’t know…I’m kind of nervous about this class.

This one thing I am doing is very important so take note:

I am trying to teach my family how to survive after I’m gone. You know, just in case. I do everything for them. My family has it made. I do too much. I don’t do enough. I love them so! Not that I don’t think they’d pick up and move on tomorrow if something should happen to me (and probably with a “thank God and Greyhound she’s gone” smile) but I want to know I’ve left everything in order. I want to make it easy. This blog could be about that. I could call it the “If I Should Die” Project or IISD for short.

“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”
~ Mary Oliver

I am taking this weekend to: either decide how to make this blog about something or start fresh somewhere else.

I’m also taking this weekend to get my coupons organized so I can start couponing. Another good blog idea!

And we have to decorate for Christmas this weekend.

AND it’s supposed to be pretty weather so I need to be working outside cleaning the patio.

There’s really so much this blog could be about. I just have to decide what I want to focus on. Actually, it all ties in together.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” ~ Annie Dillard

It’s all LIFE. It’s all about our days.

I’m closing up 2012 and opening up a bright new 2013 in a few days. I’ll be documenting this year. Like a mad scientist. Sniffing it out like a bloodhound. I’ll be taking names and kicking butt. I will be snatching minutes and putting them on paper so fast it will make your head spin. No moment will be safe from me. And why? you ask. I realized this morning that I couldn’t remember mornings with my son (he’s 30 years old, so it’s not like it was just yesterday). I don’t remember getting him off to school. I don’t remember what he did after school. I don’t remember cooking dinner for my family. I don’t remember helping my son get ready for bed.

These may be itsy bitsy things compared to the “big picture” but these things are a part of my life and I don’t remember them.

I’d like to say that I’ll be here everyday journaling about 2013 but I can’t promise and I do plan to discipline myself a bit better.

One day at a time, ya know.

Hold Tight

When Little Miss ASIJ was born, before we left the hospital, I remember one time when I was holding her and she wouldn’t stop crying. I was so tired, I needed to sleep and she needed to stop crying. I felt helpless and didn’t know what to do. Finally Ms. Heroic Nurse came in and took her from me. Ms. Heroic Nurse simply wrapped Little Miss ASIJ tightly in a baby blanket and instantly she stopped crying. Handing her back to me, she said, “She’s not used to all this space. She’s feeling insecure. Just wrap her up tight and hold her close and she’ll feel secure.”

So simple.

Just wrap her up tight and hold her close.

She’ll feel secure.

Ahem. Ok. So I look a little rough here but I’m guessing I was pretty tired. I can still look at this picture and remember the sacred, holy bliss of holding her in my arms. So much lovin’ going on here.

Little Miss ASIJ is 11 now. I can’t wrap her in a blanket and hold her in my lap like I could when she was a baby. Though I’ve tried.

Thank goodness she still loves to hug. We hug ALOT.

Life is good.

This could be an answer to start some of the healing that needs to happen between parents and their children. Especially their teens. And between husbands and wives. Wrap them up tightly in your arms and hold them close. Big bear hugs. Hug them until it becomes uncomfortable. You know that moment when your hugging someone and its gone on a little long and you start to feel awkward? Keep hugging. Hug them until they start squirming and then hold on a little tighter and hug a little longer. Our families need to feel secure.

Which brings to mind one of my favorite quotes…

Breathe deep, walk slow, hold tight to those you love, for the sun is setting and it will be over so fast. ~ Ken Pierpont ~

Hold tight.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep…

Mr. ASIJ made me think again. I hate it (but seriously love it) when he does that. I don’t know if I’m thinking about what he wanted me to think about but this little children’s prayer keeps rolling through my head.

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

I was very uncomfortable saying this prayer as a child. I didn’t want to think about dying during the night. I never taught this prayer to Little Miss ASIJ because I didn’t want to be the one responsible for teaching fear to her in any way. But I DID say it as a child. And was quite frequently afraid to close my eyes…afraid it would be the last time.

But what if…

What if I did die tonight?
What if this were my last Christmas?
What if this were my last New Year?
What if this were my last day on earth?

Tomorrow would my family know how much I loved them? Do they know they are truly my heart and soul?

Did I improve anyone’s life today?

Did I do anything I’ll be remembered favorably for?

Did I spend time with Mr. ASIJ and Little Miss ASIJ? We were together in the same house but most of the time in different rooms. The happiest moments of my day were when we all sat down together at the dinner table and had spaghetti. And the few short moments I spent in the kitchen before dinner with Little Miss ASIJ while she filled the salt and pepper shakers for me. (Remember…its the little things that add up to “a life”).

What will their memories of me be like?

Will they smile or reminisce about how I was off in my own little world all day?

Was I PRESENT in their life today?

I rarely make New Year’s Resolutions. But I think I have stumbled across some New Year’s Revelations.

I want to live a life worth remembering.
I want to inspire.
I want to improve someone’s life, even if its only to show them there’s always hope.
I want my family to know without a doubt that I loved them unconditionally in the best way that I knew how.
I want them to know they were more important than any thing in this world.
I want to leave something more behind than just a shadow of a person.
I want to be remembered with a smile, not a sigh.
I don’t want anyone to be sad that I’m gone (we’ll meet again), but be glad that I was here.

It’s after midnight and in a few short hours I’ll be getting ready for another Monday at work after a three day holiday weekend. What if this was my last holiday season with my family? Can I go to bed tonight with a contented heart?

No, I will pray for another day.

I will pray for another chance.

Heartwood

Heartwood

This is where me and my family spent this past weekend.

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This is where we slept.

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This was the Ladies Powder Room 🙂

It was a little chilly and a little rainy and I had a blast! I had not been camping in many many years. So I was a little rusty at it. It all started coming back to me and I remembered why I loved camping so much. I love the quiet. I love the campfire. I love the woods. I love the fresh air. Food is always better cooked outside. I love the night – especially the chill in the air. I love knowing I’m just about as close to God as I can get, up in the mountains, out in the woods.

When we got back on Sunday night, when I checked my FaceBook page, a friend had posted a picture of a beautiful black bear her husband had killed with his bow and arrow while they were on vacation in Canada. It absolutely broke my heart. I wanted to comment back to her so bad…”why did he do that? Was he being attacked?” But I know he wasn’t being attacked, I know he went there to hunt. I’m trying so hard not to judge, but just can’t wrap my mind around someone finding pleasure in being responsible for cutting short the life of such a beautiful soul.

I pray I never lose sight of the beauty of all God’s creatures. The beauty of nature is so abundant. But it’s so sad when I find more love in the face of a caterpillar than in my fellow man. Or feel closer to God while watching a river roar or the leaves fall than I do when I’m in the presence of God’s people.

Makes me want to just gather up my family and disappear into the woods.

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I came back changed and more in love with life than ever before.

I can’t wait to go back.

A Perfect Life

Recently, I became involved with yet another online time consumer.

Facebook.

I have found family members and its so nice to connect with them in this way. I’ve been having a blast searching and finding so many! Also, I have found so many friends from my past. I have learned things I didn’t know. One of my long ago friends had passed away and I was shocked to learn of this.

I have looked at friends’ photos and at first glance all I see is their perfect lives.

The life I wanted but didn’t get.

The life I had planned.

The large happy family – all the smiling faces. The grandkids all gathered around the happy grandparents.

So I have to stop and ask myself, “What is a perfect life?”

The answer I come up with is “The life I’m living”. This is MY perfect life. May not be the one I planned but its the one I got and the one I’m most comfortable in. It’s the one I really wouldn’t trade a million bucks for.

Is there anyone who would look at my life and say “gosh I wish my life had turned out like hers?” Probably not. I have times in my life I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But I have had golden moments that defined the course of my life in the most amazing and miraculous ways. I have beautiful miracles in my life that make me gasp each time I think of them or sense their presence or feel their hugs.

And who’s to know what sadness and tragedy lies behind the smiles and laughter of other’s lives? Life rarely goes as planned. We become masters at managing curve balls thrown at us from all angles. We become masters at living lives we never planned. No matter what life has turned out to be for us, we’ve become stronger just from the living of it.

If life had gone the way I planned, I would have missed so many wonderful times – missed meeting so many wonderful people. People who have filled my life with so much love and joy. Life really is absolutely amazing.

I have so much love in my small family. And tenderness that brings tears to my eyes. Even each ordinary day is so full of love from those around me.

I love my perfect life. I am thankful you have yours. And that we can all cherish these moments together.

Stealing Nickels and Smelling Palmolive Dish Detergent

Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains; another, a moonlit beach; a third, a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town. Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years. Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once. A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth.

~Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses

Earlier today while sitting at the park with Little Miss ASIJ, before the wind and rain came, and while watching her swing so high I thought a couple of times she had touched the sky, I remembered when I used to come to this park as a teenager. On Sunday after church sometimes in the summer, me and a bunch of friends would come here and just walk around and sit and relax and enjoy the flowers and drink coke and eat potato chips. I wondered where all of them might have gotten off to in life and who might be dead and who might still be alive. And what would all of our lives be like if we had made different choices. Oh I got lost in that one and came to the same conclusion I always come to…if things had been different, if I had made different choices, I might not have Mr. ASIJ and Little Miss ASIJ in my life today. I can’t stand that thought so I always think of something else real fast. Then all of a sudden Little Miss ASIJ was beside me saying let’s go to the slides.

Walking over to the slides, I caught a scent in the air and instantly I felt Pensacola, Florida. Scents can do that to me ~ whisk me away to another place and time. I was about 8 yrs. old I think and was in the car with my Aunt E and Uncle J, Cousin R and Cousin J. I had swiped some of Cousin R’s nickels, then lied to my Aunt E about where I got them. I have never told anyone this and I don’t know why I remembered it today. There now…I said it…I stole some of my cousin’s nickels one time when I was a kid. Sure felt good to get it out. Good grief, I didn’t steal all of them – I left her some.

I try to always have a bottle of Palmolive Dish Detergent in my kitchen. If I’m missing my Mom really bad, I fill the sink full of hot sudsy Palmolive water. Just one whiff and I’m standing in my childhood home kitchen, washing dishes and laughing with Momma.

The way the air feels can do that too. Sometimes when I walk outside, the air will feel the way it did when I was in another city and I can close my eyes and just let myself go back. It’s hard to describe how air feels and sometimes its lighter than other times. Different cities have different feeling air. Even different areas of the same city might have different feeling air. It’s always very brief when this happens and I sometimes wonder how the air from one city can just happen to make an appearance in another city for only a minute or two. But always, the air goes back to feeling like its supposed to and the memories are gone.

I just read back over that last paragraph and I think I must be very weird.

But I enjoy being able to do that.

After Little Miss ASIJ got through at the slides, while walking back to our truck, I caught the scent of honeysuckles. For just a split second I was standing out behind the car in the parking lot of my Mom’s chiropractor, waiting for her appointment to be over. I was pulling the little stems out of the flowers and sucking the nectar off.

I sure do miss my Mom…and I miss being a kid.

Growing Pains

When I was a child, I was plagued horribly with what my Mom called “growing pains”. My skinny little legs would feel like they were being ripped apart. It REALLY hurt. Momma would have to massage my legs almost every night with something called Watkins Liniment. I don’t know if it was the liniment or Momma’s gentle hands, but soon I would be able to drift off to sleep, only to wake up in the middle of the night and have to do it all over again.

When Little Miss ASIJ’s tiny legs started aching about the time she was 3, I instantly knew what was going on. Mr. ASIJ wrapped her little legs in warm wet towels to ease the pain. And I would massage them until my fingers ached. It gave me a new appreciation for what my Mom did almost nightly.

My legs don’t have growing pains anymore. But I still experience very painful growing pains of a different sort. I believe all of us do. Some handle these pains better than others. Some cry. Some yell. Some become more silent. Sometimes the pain seems unbearable. But it must be necessary for us to go through growing pains in order to GROW. Sometimes expansion and growth seems to rip apart things in our lives that need to leave. But growth always brings about a new beauty. A calmer Spirit.

As I’ve gotten older, I understand these growing pains a lot better. I can almost welcome them because I know when its all over, I’ll be a better person. I will have maybe found a piece of the puzzle that I thought was missing. I may be able to look at another person and understand things I didn’t understand before. I may be able to love when before I just didn’t know how to.

Maybe growing pains are what a lot of people on Planet Earth are going through. We have to experience THIS to get THAT. We have to get to HERE before we can go over THERE. There’s lots of joy along the way, but spurts of growth can still be painful. Days may turn into weeks, and weeks into months, and months into years. We may not know how we got to where we are, probably because we pushed the growing pains down inside or medicated them, thinking that was the way to cope. I know I did for years. And then when I finally gave myself permission to grow, I found myself wishing I had not tried to mask the pain when I was younger. I would have grown so much faster.

But ultimately, something happens. We go through a crisis. We meet someone sent our way by God or the angels or the Universe. We finally almost get to where we’re going. And we realize the “medication” for our growing pains all along was as close to us as our hearts, as close as the air that we breathe. If we had only massaged our hearts with LOVE…growing would have been so much faster and smoother and a LOT less painful.

Opening our hearts and realizing that its ok to be loved, and its ok to let someone else see us cry out in pain, is a very good beginning. We can’t get it wrong. If someone else doesn’t understand, then they have growing pains of their own to go through. And luckily, we are there to hold hands and walk with them through the pain.

Holding Hands
Holding Hands

Baby Brother & THE ONE

I guess the post from the other day about the big purple box of Kotex that Rhoda Belle gave us just opened up the floodgates of feminine hygiene product memories. Most of them I’ll gracefully allow to pass on by. But there’s one you just have to hear. The main star was Baby Brother. By the way, his birthday is this coming Monday. Baby Brother will be 41 years old. No way could my sweet little red headed baby brother be 41 years old. But it is happening, whether I believe it or not.

Now the story…

It was a gorgeous summer day. I was 15 and my baby brother was barely 4. Cutest little spoiled rotten red headed toddler running around getting into mischief that you’ve ever seen. He still talked with those sweet little baby talk words that melt your heart. He couldn’t say my name and it came out sounding like “Thetha”. Too cute.

Back to the gorgeous summer day. I was entertaining, in my living room, a boy I had decided was THE ONE. He was the typical blonde hair blue eyed heart throb that I JUST HAD TO HAVE. I flirted, I giggled, I blushed, I swooned, just like I was supposed to. Life was good and I was in control.

Until HE walked in. Baby Brother. Standing about 3 ft. tall, his hands behind his back and an angelic smile on his face, he suddenly threw out his hands right in front of mine and THE ONE’S face and said “Look Thetha…fendernails”. I gasped and almost fainted. Attached to every one of his chubby little baby brother fingers was a pink plastic tampon applicator.

I was mortified.

I screamed.

My Mom ran in the room, saw what was going on, and gently led Baby Brother out of the room, leaving me with my now ruined life. I couldn’t catch my breath.

THE ONE, on the other hand, was laughing so hard I though he’d wet his pants! For some reason, that made me so mad! Here I was, traumatized and scarred for the rest of my life, and all THE ONE could do was laugh!! Good grief.

I quickly got up and went in the bathroom where my Mom had led Baby Brother and just when I thought things could NEVER get worse…there she was gently taking the pink plastic tampon applicators off each little chubby Baby Brother “fender”, putting them in a sink full of soapy water, washing them real good…AND GIVING THEM BACK TO HIM!!!!

Life changed for me that day.

Momma took one look at me and said “Don’t make a big deal of it and he’ll lay ‘em down after while and forget about ‘em. But if you make a big deal of it, he’ll be hoarding pink plastic tampon applicators in his room for the rest of his life.” She really was a wise woman.

But to this day I can’t see a tampon without thinking about my baby brother…and that just shouldn’t happen.

What Rhoda Belle Taught Me

Rhoda Belle was “one” of my granddaddy’s wives. I say “one” of them because he had a BUNCH. I counted eleven, one of my uncles said it was only eight, but I was counting girlfriends I guess that he didn’t actually marry. Granddaddy’s first wife died when my Mom was 14. She was only 32. Way too young to have to leave us. Momma said that just knocked the wind out of Granddaddy’s sails and he never found anyone that could ever take her place. Anyway, Rhoda Belle was the one he was with the longest after I was born so I considered her my grandma. She was a very petite lady who loved everyone and everyone loved her. She was a real sweetheart.

She never, I don’t remember even once, called me and my two brothers by our names the entire time she was married to my granddaddy. It was always That Girl, That Boy, and That Baby. But she was so good to us and we LOVED to visit.

Now this was a little lady that probably didn’t have a whole lot of education, but one of the lessons I learned from her goes much farther than any book could ever reach. When we would get up to leave their house, without fail, she would always say, “Hold on, don’t go yet. I’ve got something for you.” Sometimes it was something she had canned or pickled, sometimes it was a piece of material for my Mom to make something out of, sometimes it was a cake or pie. It might have been just a loaf of bread, but she just had to give us something. I don’t even think she had thought about it much before we started to leave, she just picked up the first thing she came to. It was always something good though 🙂

There was one instance that stands out in my mind. Seems like it was just yesterday. Us kids were really young and I can see us all standing at the door getting ready to leave. Granddaddy making us all laugh doing a dance called “Pattin’ The Rabbit” (Granddaddy is a whole other blog for another day when I’ve got butt loads of time cause he was a real character, that Granddaddy of mine). Anyway, we started out the door and Rhoda Belle hollers out, “Hold on, don’t go yet. I’ve got something for you.” This time she went running in the bathroom, stayed for a while and came out with several wash cloths and a really big purple box of Kotex and handed them to Momma. She said “I didn’t know ya’ll were coming today, so I didn’t have anything to give you but you can’t leave without something.” Momma hugged her and said “Thanks Belle” and we left and I guess that big old purple box of Kotex sit in the cabinet under our bathroom sink for months. So I saw it every time I opened the cabinet door. I think I was too young to even know exactly what they were for – but the box sure was pretty.

Later after us kids grew up, we enjoyed remembering how Rhoda Belle always had to give us something when we left. But you know what I learned? Never let anyone leave your presence without you giving them something to take with them. Doesn’t have to be a material object. You can give them a smile, a hug, an understanding nod of the head, or loving words. Always make sure that when they leave you, they’re better off than when they got there.

Now if we all did that, with all the coming and going people do these days, I figure things would sure be a lot different. And everybody would be happy and at the very least they’d be smiling.

Thanks Rhoda Belle. I sure do miss you.