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.

Wake Up Calls

They come loudly right in the middle of life…wake up calls. We all get them. Sometimes we sit up and pay attention. Sometimes we go back to doing whatever we were doing. This week I got a wake up call and was reminded that we do not have the promise of tomorrow. We’re not even promised the rest of the day.

Everyone leaves footprints in your memory, but the ones that leave footprints in your heart are the ones you will truly remember.”
~Nicholas Sperling.

She could be rather bossy and sometimes just down right bitchy. She was opinionated and not afraid to share that with you. She was extremely organized and neat and really…you could eat off of her floors. She was THAT clean! And she had one of the biggest hearts I’d ever known. Her door was always open. She would go into debt to get you those tires for your truck that you needed. She would spend her last dollar to feed your silly face. She took care of everyone, no matter who you were or what you’d done. She loved to grill and she was a really really good cook. Her name was Debra.

We spent countless hours on her patio, laughing and talking til all hours of the night. Eating everything under the sun cooked on the grill. Telling jokes…but sometimes getting serious and really sharing our hearts.

Twice in the past Debra had opened up her home to us while we were looking for a home. Or…more correctly…while we were homeless. The last time we lived with her we didn’t even have jobs. Hard times for sure, but Debra had a big heart.

This past Monday, Memorial Day, while I was honoring the brave soldiers who had given their lives for our country, I also learned that Debra had died that morning. Today I attended a Memorial for her. She was only 54.

And with a little time, I should be able to move on. But it had been 3 years since I’d seen Debra. It had probably been over a year since I’d even talked to her on the phone.

Years ago, on a Saturday morning, while Debra was finishing up the laundry and sweeping the floor (she sure could multi-task), and I was bouncing Little Miss ASIJ on my hip, she said something to me that hurt me. Bad. I tried to let it go but couldn’t.

Then one night I met her for a drink. Debra had already been drinking for awhile. Through all her laughter, Debra really had a troubled soul and sometimes just needed to talk it out. We got to talking and then she said something that just blew me away. I couldn’t believe she said it. She’d been drinking and probably didn’t even remember she said it the next day…I should have let it go. But I nursed that wound like a war wound. For years when I’d talk to her it would always be in the back of my mind. Three years ago we went to see her because I was trying to find some help for Big Son ASIJ and she had connections. That was the last time I saw her.

She would call and leave voice mails and I would never return them. She finally stopped calling. But I always thought I’d talk to her again.

Debra was always there for me and my family when we needed her. During the last painful months of her life when she was very ill…I didn’t even know it and was nowhere to be found. When she could have used a friend – I wasn’t there.

I learned about her death on Facebook for Pete’s sake.

Now I know if Debra were sitting beside me out on the patio tonight, she would laugh and say “Good grief, stop beating yourself up. Let it go. Here…are you sure you don’t want another piece of steak?”

~

One thing I know…if there are grills in Heaven…her and God’s sure eatin’ good tonight.

Because we spill not only milk ~~ Nancy Shaffer

Because we spill not only milk
Knocking it over with an elbow
When we reach to wipe a small face
But also spill seed on soil we thought was fertile but isn’t,
And also spill whole lives, and only later see in fading light
How much is gone and we hadn’t intended it

Because we tear not only cloth
Thinking to find a true edge and instead making only a hole
But also tear friendships when we grow
And whole mountainsides because we are so many
And we want to live right where black oaks lived,
Once very quietly and still

Because we forget not only what we are doing in the kitchen
And have to go back to the room we were in before,
Remember why it was we left
But also forget entire lexicons of joy
And how we lost ourselves for hours
Yet all that time were clearly found and held
And also forget the hungry not at our table

Because we weep not only at jade plants caught in freeze
And precious papers left in rain
But also at legs that no longer walk
Or never did, although from the outside they look like most others
And also weep at words said once as though
They might be rearranged but which
Once loose, refuse to return and we are helpless

Because we are imperfect and love so
Deeply we will never have enough days,
We need the gift of starting over, beginning
Again: just this constant good, this
Saving hope.

~ Nancy Shaffer ~

Wow I love this poem.

It speaks volumes. To me anyway.

Because we are imperfect and love so
Deeply we will never have enough days,
We need the gift of starting over, beginning
Again: just this constant good, this
Saving hope.

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.

Of Flowers and Mice…

Little Miss Mouse
Little Miss Mouse

Today, Patti Digh, from 37 Days fame, wrote on Facebook about a dead mouse on her front walkway that needed removing. It reminded me of a true story from years ago about Little Miss ASIJ and one rather dead mouse.

Earlier on that day, Mr. ASIJ had been watering flowers and plants in the house and one of them was very droopy. After a short while, when they went back to check on it, it had perked up and was looking good and healthy. Mr. ASIJ explained to Little Miss ASIJ that the water had done it. Even though it looked almost dead, the water had nourished the plant and “brought it back to life”.

Little Miss ASIJ was about 3 or 4 yrs. old at the time. And took everything told to her quite literally. So now she’s thinking that water can bring things back to life. Her dad found her later on that day with a dead mouse that one of cats had killed. She had stuck it in a glass of water, and was stirring it with a spoon, waiting for it to “come back to life.”

Mr. ASIJ quickly got on the phone to call me at work and tell me about this. At first I thought, “how cute and oh how brilliant my little daughter is”. Then realized she would have had to have touched the mouse and I got all squeamish and started ranting over the phone “did you make sure she washed her hands? What if the mouse had some kind of disease? You need to get her in the bathtub NOW and make sure she gets clean with lots of hot water and soap!!!”

He said that she seemed a little disappointed that the mouse just swirled around and didn’t jump right up like the plant had done. He took the glass from her and took it to the edge of the woods and “disposed” of it. When nobody could find the mouse later, Little Miss ASIJ assumed he had jumped up and run into the woods.

Amazing what a little bit of water and the faith of a child can do.

Little Miss ASIJ
Little Miss ASIJ

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.

Air Words from Little Miss ASIJ

I didn’t realize it had been so long since I’d posted anything. Almost like I disappeared off the face of the earth. But I’m still here, just going through a silent spell I guess.

I was just in the living room talking with Mr. ASIJ about some things I’d been feeling lately. For several days now…almost like my heart and soul are hurting. Broken, but really nothing to be broken about. It took me a minute or two to identify just what was going on. Its taken me a few days to speak about it to anyone.

All of a sudden I want to cry most of the time again. About nothing. About anything. About everything. About how messy my house has gotten. About those weeds, or whatever they are, growing outside of the fence in my front yard and no matter how hard I wish it – they just won’t go away. About the lawn needing mowing and it won’t stop raining long enough for the grass to dry so I can cut it. About the messy backyard. About the fact that I still believe (even after 12 years since being divorced) what Mr. Ex told me…that I’m a bad wife, a bad mother, A BAD PERSON! About the fact that I don’t have many good friends. (Of course I don’t, who wants to be friends with A BAD PERSON?) Not counting my family, there are only two people in this whole entire world who I believe love me unconditionally.

STOP RIGHT THERE! Whatever happened to slapping a smile on my face and being happy? What happened to counting my blessings? What happened to MY ENCHANTED LIFE???

My enchanted life never left. I guess I’ve checked out for a minute or two but my life is still just as enchanting as ever. My house is messy…I am thankful I HAVE a house. I have dirty dishes in my kitchen sink right now…I am thankful we have plenty of food so we can mess up dishes. My front and backyards look atrocious…I am thankful I have nature right outside my window. The rainy days…I am thankful for this rain. And Mr. Ex…I wish him well. He had no idea what he was talking about. Friends…they are everywhere and its up to me to open my arms and include them in my life. Those two friends who love me…I am SO thankful that those two people are already in my life and they won’t ever leave me.

So why is the title of this post “Air Words From Little Miss ASIJ”? I’m glad you asked. Just this morning I was laying in bed talking to Little Miss ASIJ. She and Mr. ASIJ had slept in and I had been up for awhile. Crying. And crying and crying. Thinking that awful thought…I AM A BAD PERSON. By the time Little Miss ASIJ woke up I had finally stopped crying and was trying to look pleasant 🙂 She didn’t know I’d been crying or what I’d been crying about. While we were talking, she started acting like she was writing words on my forehead. I asked “What are you doing? Feels like you’re writing words. She smiled and I asked her what was she writing. She said “The best person ever.”

Wow, I should have realized right then and there how ridiculous my thoughts had been. Little Miss ASIJ is the most enchanting person EVER and she writes on my forehead “the best person ever”, then whoa Nellie…I’M THE BEST PERSON EVER!!! If you don’t believe it, it’s written on my forehead and if I forget, all I have to do is look in the mirror. Sure I have to use my imagination to see air words, but the words are there. I felt her write them.

I am thankful for air words from Little Miss ASIJ.

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.