Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Trek: Day Three in Gulfport, MS

The chilly morning greeted us with frost as we ventured outside to load our luggage back into the car.  It was so cold that the family dog Sara, curled up and nestled into a pile of leaves, chose to stay put rather than brave the air to get up and bid us farewell.  Hugs, love expressed and coffee cups in hand, we had to say goodbye.  We meandered slowly down the dirt road away from the house waving goodbye to Meme and Papa as they stood pressed against the storm door waving back at us.

A long day in the car toured us through Atlanta, GA which was chaotic at best and insane at worst.  The multitude of red strings representing major highways jumbled across the gps screen as we tried to navigate our way through the intertwined superstructures without incident.



We made our way out of the city intact, headed west and caught the cheapest gas sign we've seen so far.  The gas station, while not confirmed, was most probably photographed in some city, Alabama.

Eventually, and I do mean eventually, we arrived in Gulport, MS!  We unpacked quickly and met up with our dinner guests in the hotel lobby and sped off to dinner with them.  I was so delighted to see my friends, so caught up in the joy of the evening, that I actually forgot to take a photo of us together.  (Crazy, I know! Unlike me...totally!)

Ahh...but we're here for the night.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Trek: Day Two

Being around Mr. Smart Guy's family lets me take a sneak peek into the past and hear great tales of his childhood ways and dreams.  It's a treat for me to sleep in his old bedroom, now turned guest room, and hear him recount the many nights he spent as a young boy staring at the ceiling pondering his future, considering the next days fun or just plain staring into the darkness of the night.  

A young boy then, a man now, who resembles his father in so many ways: humor, gentleness, a strong work ethic, kindness and a guiding desire to do the right thing.    



But, the highlight of the visit proved to be audio cassettes that were recorded in 1974 and unearthed for our listening pleasure.  Mr. Smart Guy's mom had recorded family activities and then sent them to his dad who was away on duty in the United States Navy.  Parents, siblings, nieces and nephews gathered around the cassette player and chuckled at the crazy antics, the chaos of dinner conversations and the funny banter as the four kids were getting ready for school.  I hear the voice of my husband at age 11 and can hear the man he was becoming.  What a sweet gift that we hope to digitize and pass on to our boys some day.

Our visit sped by much too fast with lots of hugs, coffee and conversations around the kitchen table.  The packed bags are waiting by the doorway. The next stop on our trek...the gulf coast of Mississippi.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Trek: Day One

Day One began in our driveway with both of us near exhaustion.  The past few weeks have really taken a toll on us physically and emotionally.  Lots of packing, shifting, moving, hugging and goodbye'ing. (I know, go with it...it's my own word! lol)

We loaded our destination into the gps and climbed into the Prius and began the first leg of our journey cross-country. We laughed at how loaded our car was, how tired we were and how the coastal craziness is giving us such a burst of excitement.

Rock Hill, SC....here we come!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

An Award!!

If we get honest with ourselves for a moment, we find that we all desire some small portion of recognition or affirmation in our day.  I'm not talking about winning the Nobel Peace Prize or something of that grandeur.  I'm talking about that compliment that comes out of nowhere from your teenager who says, "Wow, Mom, you look cool today." It's the kind of recognition from your boss who says, "I see how hard you've been working on this project and I really appreciate your efforts."  Or, the warm touch of a friend in crisis who lays her hand on yours as she says, "Thank you so much for being here when I needed you."

It's the positive feedback we get from living life at our full potential and the result of reaching others with who God made us to be.   

So, imagine my delight when I realized I won an award!  Someone thought enough of my writing not only to read my stuff but to publicly acknowledge my writing!  And, it's not just any old award but an award from Pictures, Poetry & Prose. It's a blog I visit often to contribute thoughts and love the creativity push that Laura Jane's site gives me.  Please go check it out....it's really cool.  The actual award is on the right hand side of my blog. :)

Before your day runs out, purpose yourself to acknowledge someone around you.  See them, compliment them and most of all, let them know your life is being touched by them. You see, it really does matter that we "do" life together and part of that journey is to encourage each other.  

Here's the actual piece that won the award...

 

Photo by S. Kay Murphy

The writing prompt:  Cross the bridge.  What is on the other side?

***   ***   ***

Dense fog had made the journey quite tough.  She saw the outline of the bridge from a distance but couldn't make out its detail.

With each step she took, another detail filled in.

With each step she took, she was closer to her past being past.

With each step she took, she was closer to her future being now.

And, the bridge was change.

***   ***   ***

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

That Man

I couldn’t help but let my eyes gaze upon him every few seconds as I stood in line to order my coffee.  I wanted to look at him.  I didn’t want to turn away from him like others were doing.  I wanted to have conversation with him.  He was mesmerizing to me and his presence stirred something deep down in my soul with every move he made.  I wanted to drink in every detail of him with my eyes even though I was well aware that my stare might be interpreted as impolite.  I wanted to reach for my camera and snap a quick photograph or two, however, I couldn’t bring myself to invade his privacy like that.

He deserved respect; he didn’t deserve exploitation.  So, my hand never made into the pocket of my bag where my camera rested.

 His hair, blonde and wispy, was strewn atop his head revealing vast amounts of grime he’d surely picked up from street sleeping.  Even in its unkempt, unwashed state with large matted sections, I could tell that he had been handsome and stylish some years ago. 

 His hands were weathered and showed signs of both aging and harsh outdoor living conditions.  The nail beds were encased with dirt and the skin was cracked in several places along his fingers.  He had strong looking hands that I could tell had been purposeful some years ago.

He rested seemingly comfortable and upright in his wheel chair while he watched the hustle and bustle of others within the coffee shop.  His eyes were bright and alert and he seemed ready for conversation, ready to be acknowledged in any way.  He rolled up to the counter and engaged the barista with a wide, infectious smile as he asked for his “regular”.  She knew him and greeted him warmly by name.  Even though I couldn’t hear him speak to her, I heard her say, “Way to go!” back to him as she handed him a cup of hot, steaming tea. 

 I smiled to myself at the thought of him having friends.  People who would not just acknowledge him but dare to invest in him.  Friends who cared for him now just like friends who cared for him from some years ago.

 Then, he wheeled himself towards the door that led outside and I noticed the duffel bag positioned at the rear of his wheelchair.  His belongings fit into one small duffel bag.  I could tell that his bag had been one of many bags he had some years ago.

 I wondered what was in his bag.  I pondered the contents for a long time after he left the coffee shop.  What was in his bag?  Did he have one tattered, worn photograph in there that he gingerly took out each night to reminisce by? Or was there some other memento in the bag that represented his life from some years ago. 

Who was this man some years ago before circumstances led him to live such a wandering and harsh nomadic life?  And, why… am I so moved to want to follow him?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thoughtful Tuesday

"Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."  

- Helen Keller

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Greener Morning

Always on the lookout for those things that will help me live more green conscious, I came across a website I immediately fell in love with and just have to share with you.

Catalog Choice is a one-stop clicking space that allows you to reduce the sheer volume of merchandising catalogs that come into your home. The only bummer about it is you'll need the name of the catalog.  That sounds simple, however,  as I sit in a hotel room 3,000 miles away from home and the place where the catalogs are... it's difficult to remember all of them by name.

Anyways, friends, happy paper reduction and tree saving!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Time Zoned

Time zone changes have always been a challenge for me to physically adapt to.  Even when I travelled quite a bit on business, I would admire my peers who took the time difference in stride and stepped right into a new zone groove without much effort.  I just couldn't do it.  Not then and certainly not now. My body seems to adjust with excruciatingly slow increments to the new zone.

So, here I am, on East Coast time living in a West Coast morning.  Can someone get up and have breakfast with me?  Cuz it's really lunch according to the time zone in my body.  :)  lol

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Distraction


I needed to do a thousand things and be in at least two other places...but, I chose a distraction instead. I dashed into a fave shopping spot and found just the right accessory to perk up even the lowest of days.  Don't you think so?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Panicked!

After going to bed extremely late last night and waking up super early this morning, I have come to a sudden realization.

I am panicked!

This week we've accomplished
  • packing Mr. Smart Guy's office belongings
  • packing household goods for our soon to be "love nest" (ha!)
  • meeting with the realtor to sell our home here
  • drafting a list of apartments that we want to look at there
In the last three days of having Mr. Smart Guy with me in Virginia...we still need to
  • pack his closet (and, oh my goodness he has way more clothes than I do!)
  • clean the house and buy refreshments for his Bon Voyage party 
  • ready the house  (and ourselves) and make a meal to meet and host Theatre Dude's girlfriend's parents
  • put Mr. Smart Guy on the plane
Well, I thought writing things down would help squelch the tidal wave of fear and anxiety that seems to be growing in the pit of my stomach.  

I think it created an opposite affect.  Would anyone mind if I just crawled under the covers for a bit longer?  

*sigh*
oh, wait...where's the puppy?  

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Coastal Craziness - The Beginning

In the beginning...

Mr. Smart Guy and Ms. c u smyle met and fell in love in Seattle, WA.  Both of them claimed the Pacific Northwest as "home" and were happy in that part of the world.  They went about life amidst the misty rainfall and majestic mountains. They were a West Coast couple.

However, career opportunities came quickly for the newly engaged couple and Richmond, VA became the new home.  A spot on the map that they have called "home" for a very long time. Married, kids, jobs, homes...and community.  They went about life amidst the light seasonal changes and nestled themselves two hours away from the mountains, the nation's capital and the scent of the ocean breeze.  A perfect location.  They were an East Coast couple.

But, career opportunities came knocking once more.  The couple received news that  the layoff would take place in January '09, they had gotten a phone call that beckoned Mr. Smart Guy to join the ranks of technology creators in Silicon Valley, went about the decision making process, worked together to identify all aspects of the choice, adopted a healthy mantra for the upcoming change and readied themselves to announce the decision.  

They are going to California.... 

 (insert screeching halt sound now)

well...sort of.

Theatre Dude is a junior in high school and Mr. and Mrs. Smart Guy have chosen not to yank him out of school at such a critical time.  He just started the process of college interviews and applications and has community in Virginia.  His eyes have been set on Broadway for a very long time. He is an East Coast guy.

So, the family got a little creative and moved outside the traditional description of home.  Mr. Smart Guy will live in California, Theatre Dude will live in Virginia (with very close grown up supervision) and Mrs. c u smyle will navigate life between them.  She has agreed to a vagabond lifestyle.  A few weeks here, a few weeks there.  

~ a vagabond with lots of frequent flyer miles ~

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Melancholy

My family and I arrived home from our annual pilgrimage to Wintergreen Resort for the Thanksgiving holiday just a bit melancholy.  This trip was so much more restful and reflective than our previous jaunts have been.  Maybe because we knew this may be our last journey up the mountain.  Life has been changing so quickly for us that we've begun to hold onto small moments like these to savor and enjoy before they evaporate and disappear.

Maybe I'm a touch melancholy today.  

A little sad that our mountain trip came to a close.  

So, I thought I'd share some of the intricacies that made this trip so sweet.  

Enjoy!

***   ***   ***
Sleeping boys.



Non-electronic family competition that produced lots of laughter and fun.


Reminders so I will not lean on my own understanding but acknowledge God in all my ways so that he will direct my path.



A craft that I could participate in that didn't require a glue gun.


A fabulous read about 13 women in their 50's who were looking for something more in their life and found it by establishing community with each other via a diamond necklace.  I laid the book down inspired to put more effort into establishing relationships and grabbing friends to join me in serving others for the betterment of our community.


Time to adore my Mr. Smart Guy (previous dog despiser turned mini schnauzer lover) who took the boys on their first walk in the snow.


Having Theatre Dude with us!

Hair disasters that have ended with something I could live with.  By the way, it was not my hairdresser's fault but more my own lack of product knowledge and use.  Who knew? Mmmph!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thoughtful Tuesday

"The great discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind."
- William James 

Monday, November 24, 2008

Getting Ready for Winter

It was a day outside  
to fight against the wind and cold.
To be enveloped 
in layers of clothes and gloved hands.
To rake leaves
mow the lawn
and prune branches.
We stood there
hand-in-hand
taking in the result.
The yard was now ready to hunker down for winter.

***   ***   ***

My work outside acted as a therapy of sorts as I let my mind drift to my spiritual landscape. I acknowledged the many different climate changes that are occurring and frontal boundaries that are blowing their way in and around my definition of a normal life and status quo. 

I am left to ponder ...

Do I have enough faith to hunker down for the season I just entered?

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Penny Found

There are those blogs that capture your attention quickly and move you to take a moment to revel in the creativity of not only the author, but those who leave comments.  

I stumbled across a blog just like that.  It's unique and fun and provides this aspiring writer with many ideas.  

Check out Pictures, Poetry & Prose.  I think you might like it!

Enjoy the post I left yesterday on that very blog...

96466584_Sjx3zeSx_IMG_1777.jpg


He stooped down to pick up the lone coin from the concrete sidewalk. Most people were too busy to notice that it had landed on the ground, let alone stop to pick it up. 

But, he wasn't so busy. Not anymore. He had the time to take a slower pace now and allow the details of life to infiltrate his being.

He surveyed the coin that rested in his gloved hand, fighting back the wind as he noted the dings, scratches and rubbed surfaces that a hard life can produce. He smiled. Much like him, the coin was well worn.

He moved the coin closer to his face so that he could eye the date imprinted on it.

Ahh, he nodded. 1972. Now that was a good year!

He gingerly placed the coin in his pocket and began to walk again. The same route he took almost every day. As he passed that house, he remembered years ago when he bounded up the steps with a tiny ring in his pocket where the lone coin now lay. That was the day he asked for her hand in marriage. And, she said yes.

Ahh, he nodded. 1972. Now that was a good year!

He didn't linger for long at that house on this trip. He needed to get back home. Back to her. She needed him now more than ever. The doctor said it would only be a few more days. 

He hurried now because he couldn't wait to tell her the story. He knew she would marvel at how he found the lost coin and the significance of finding the one imprinted with the year they got married.

He walked in the house, shed his outer garments and made his way to her bedside. As she slept, he laid the coin on her nightstand and whispered, "Pennies aren't just for wishes and 1972 wasn't the only year I loved you. With this penny, I wish you peace, my love. Sleep well and dream of 1972."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Can You Even This Out? (revisited)

I had pondered my hairstyle for some time and then one day decided I needed something fresh. I wanted to toss my classic shoulder-length locks for something fun and more modern.  A little edgier and sexier, perhaps. I chose a famous Meg Ryan look and decided my hair would probably fall into the cut naturally without too much effort.  


I headed to my hairdresser of six years, armed with the photo in tow of how I wanted to be transformed, and we embarked on a discussion of the look.  Yes, I was assured, the cut would be fantastic for my hair type and it would give me a more current, fashionable look.  

Scissors in hand, she went to work. She kept my back to the mirror the whole time so that I wouldn't grab a sneak peek at her work...the move that I'm known for in the salon.  As she went about snipping and razoring, I anticipated the reflection of the new and improved me and could hardly contain myself.  I was ready for the change.

Finally, she finished and I had endured the  3 hour process:  condition treatment, highlights, cut. She wheeled me around slowly so that I could face the mirror and ooh and aaahh over the new me.  

Instead, I let out a small yelp as I brought my hand over my mouth to squelch any more noise from coming out.

Horrified.  Aghast.  

Somehow I managed to collect myself in an instant so that I wouldn't garner any more attention.  I needed to get out of there fast before I broke down crying and/or started yelling at my stylist for the disaster that now sat atop my head.

I can't remember the exact words or gestures that I used past that point but I made my way to the car ultra fast and slumped into my seat.  I turned on the ignition, fastened my seat belt in a blur of angst and looked in the rear view mirror to make sure it was true.  My hair really was not the edgy cut that I anticipated but was a semi-half-mullet throwback from the '80s.  My mood neared frantic frenzy as I made my way home in a fit of tears.

***   ***   ***   ***   

It's been almost a week since that day and many times I have debated cutting it shorter.  I have played the scenario in my head; perhaps even walking into another salon to ask, "Can You Even This Out?"

But, for fear of a repeat performance, I have chosen not to.  

Grow, hair, grow.



Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thoughtful Tuesday

"Do you choose change?  Do you choose health? Do you choose happiness?  Do you choose strength?  Do you choose that?  Do it now.

You can tell me that you choose not to.  You can tell me that you choose to quit. That you choose to be less than what you are or what God intended you to be but don't tell me that you can't do it."

 - Jillian Michaels on The Biggest Loser

Monday, November 17, 2008

Decisions

Toss.  Turn.  Toss again. 

Sigh.

Toss.  Turn.  Toss again.

***   ***   ***   *** 

Most decisions aren't this hard.

Chocolate anyone?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Letter

The letter, unassuming yet somehow alarming, came in the mail yesterday. I stared at the return address that was clearly imprinted on the upper right hand corner of the envelope but I didn't want to open it.

Delayed by the uncertainty of the contents, minutes passed before I had built up the courage to unveil its contents.  I convinced myself that it was probably nothing.  A new fundraising effort or an anticipated change to one of the events.

I calmed down.  Of course, that was all that was in there!

...rip... tear... unfold...

"The purpose of this letter is to inform you of the requirements for graduation and to review with you the following information regarding your student's current status."

Ahem, what??

"Our records indicate that your student is planning to graduate in 2010 with an Advanced Studies Diploma."

Now, wait just a minute.  He doesn't graduate until....

"Oh, my gosh," I screamed out loud and it echoed and reverberated in my empty house.  Heat quickly rose to my cheeks while my heart started thumping somewhere in the vicinity of my ears.

In shock, I slid down to the floor.  

Is it really true that my baby has started the exit process out of high school? 

Oh.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Intelligent Design

Every now and again Mr. Smart Guy reels me in to an adventure of learning that I didn't anticipate but that allows me to expand my intellectual horizon beyond what I would normally choose.  Last week was definitely one of those times.  He came home from the local bookstore with a new find that had him beaming from ear to ear.  

"I bought a really great movie for us to watch after dinner.  I think you'll like it because I've heard really good things about it."

(please stop to note: Mr. Smart Guy enjoys movies.  Any genre, any movie, even poorly done movies that most people deem ridiculous.  He loves movies.)

I glanced at my friend, who was over for dinner, trying to apologize with my eyes via the kind of look that conveys, "Oh, no!  This might get super ugly.  Feel free to run out the door if you want to, but wait, on second thought, run now!"

We made our way through dinner but it was obvious Mr. Smart Guy was tearing through his food and sprinting to finish his plate off so we could get to the movie.  The doorbell rang and it was another one of our friends.  Mr. Smart Guy invited him over to watch it, too.

(please stop to note:  this duo is known for their conspiracy theory extravaganzas that last until the wee hours of the morning.)

Now, my senses picked up on something.  I ventured to find out more.

"Are you sure this is a movie, movie? One with a story and everything?" I asked hesitantly.

Mr. Smart Guy was at the dvd player inserting the golden cd as he shook his head up and down vigorously affirming that it truly was a movie.  Everyone claimed their spot in the living room to get comfy in, the house lights went down and the opening credits rolled.  



It caught me off guard.  

I wasn't aware that the scientific community no longer embraced or allowed discussions of Intelligent Design as a possible option to explain our earthly existence. I was shocked that pro Intelligent Design scientists have suffered and are suffering devastating career repercussions for their choice.  Their choice to believe that the earth and everything in it was created by an Intelligent Designer.

Appalled.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Sighed

I stepped into his closet.
Each piece of clothing draped on hangers spaced evenly apart.
I could almost see him standing here, choosing what to wear.

And, I sighed.

I grabbed his shirt.
A sweatshirt made of soft fabric,  just like his touch, in his favorite color grey.
I hid my face in the folds of it and could almost smell his cologne.

And, I sighed.

I put his shirt on.
I could almost sense him smiling at my good choice.
I made my way out of the closet and towards our bed.

And, I sighed.

I climbed under the covers.
I laid on his side so that I could put my head where his had been.
I could almost feel him wrapping his arms around me.

And, I sighed.

I closed my eyes.
I wanted to lay there until he came home again.
I could almost feel the time passing by more quickly.

And, I sighed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thoughtful Tuesday

Duty, Honor, Country.  Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be.
- Douglas MacArthur

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Road

I took the road.   One that most times, regrettably, I have drifted from one end of the asphalt to the other without much thought.

But, today was different.

I reminisced and took in all of the the details with each dip, turn and stretch of well worn road.

It is much, much different now.

The road has undergone dramatic change:  intersections closed off and redirected, new traffic lights installed that loom overhead with lights that blink incessantly, businesses torn down and demolished, new businesses birthed to stand towering in the backdrop of the scenery just past the erected advertising sign.

I got to the end of the road.

Reminded that there is a time to tear down and a time to build.  

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Two to Tango

 Enjoying what just might be the last few days of a warm fall season.


Seeing one who needed rescue from the depth of leaves.  



Feeding hungry boys.


Having two to tango is a little tiring.
(but oh, so worth it!)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Can You Even This Out?

I watched him go off by himself and start to get really upset.  Normally a content little guy, I became somewhat startled by his behavior.   I left my seat to investigate his angst and as I got closer to him, the scent of mint grew stronger and stronger.  Perplexed by the smell, I wanted to find out where it was coming from but I needed to tend to him first.  He was obviously in distress and needed me so the scent dilemma would have to take a backseat to the situation at hand.

I bent down and scooped him up into my arms as I cooed and stroked his hair in an attempt to settle him down.  And, as he was beginning to relax a little bit, 

I saw it. 

The cause of the problem.  
And, it was a really, really big problem.  

He allowed me to poke around a bit to assess the damage.  

It was a big wad of still-wrapped but now chewed piece of peppermint gum that had sprawled across Copernicus' beard and under his lip.  

The damage was widespread and immense.  

There was only one solution.  I needed the scissors.  I started to work with less than Edward Scissorshand style dexterity and managed to cut the affected area free from the gum.  

I took a look at him:  lopsided, half bearded, half shaven.  A mess, really.

It was reminiscent of being seven or eight years old when a little girl wields scissors to her head for a brand new do.  Her mom, upon discovery of the hair mishap, looks at her to decide the next step.  She chooses and carts her daughter off to the hairdresser asking, "Can you even this out?"

In the same manner, I looked at Copernicus and then carted him off to the groomer asking, "Can you even this out?"

Here he is sporting his brand new, non-bearded look.  Not quite the distinguished schnauzer-man of days gone by. 

Silly dog, gum is for kids. ;)


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Couple

A man and his wife casually walked up to the voting line at their precinct this morning.  He was strikingly handsome and slightly subdued as he drank from his Starbucks cup.  His wife, on the other hand, excitedly pulled on the cuff of his sleeve as she tugged him towards the end of the line.  

"We're here!  We're here,"  she exclaimed

He grinned at her with that kind of grin that flows out of enormous love and he softly said, "I know, honey.  We're here."

She anxiously fidgeted, almost jumping up and down in the spot where she stood.  Her eyes shone brightly  with anticipation as her speech got faster and faster.  Finally, as though not being able to withstand the emotional swell any longer,  she leaned into her husband's chest and burst forth into a quiet, almost hushed song.  It was a Lee Greenwood song.

"I'm proud to be an American.
Where at least I know I know I 'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died
And gave the right to me."

He grabbed her by the shoulders and said, "I love you, you nut."  She just grinned and whispered back, "I love you too" and then turned her attention back to the head of the line.  They were inching their way up to the front.  They talked about their date that morning as they passed the time together.  Their date to go vote in an election.  They recounted their years together by each of their trips to the voting booths.   

And, then it was the man's turn.  The electoral officer asked for his name and identification and his physical address.  As he provided the requested items, his wife became even more visibly excited. The officer handed the man a blank ballot and pointed him towards the voting booth.   He paused briefly, glanced back at his wife and winked at her, then made his way to the designated spot.  

The woman stepped up to the table and joyfully thanked the electoral officers for their service and volunteer time.  She then proceeded to give them her name, identification and physical address.  And, as she did so, tears began to well up in her eyes.


She knows the personal cost exchanged for the freedom of democracy. 

She served in the United States Navy for 13 years. 


She took the ballot handed to her and gripped it with all her might.  That paper was her vote, her voice.  She stepped into the voting booth.

The man voted and then stood past the line of booths as he waited for her to finish.  She stepped out of the booth and  saw him out of the corner of her eye as she fed her ballot into the counter.  

She took a few steps toward him with a really wide smile proclaiming, " I am number 989."

He shook his head, took her by the hand and led her to the volunteer standing by the door.  The volunteer handed her a sticker first, then her husband.

The sticker read,  I Voted.

The man took his wife's hand and said appreciatively, "We voted."

The couple started to make their way to the parking lot.  The woman leaned into the man once again.  This time, a small tear trailed out of the corner of her eye.

In a quiet tone meant only for her and her husband, the rest of the song began.

"And, I'll proudly stand up
Next to them and defend her still today.
Cuz there ain't no doubt I love this land.
God bless the USA."

So, if you were standing in line to vote and perhaps got distracted by this woman, I will tell you a secret.

It was me.  



Monday, November 3, 2008

Virginia: Red or Blue

The campaigns are pushing hard in these last few hours to get their messages out.  Focus is narrowing in on the swing states; the states that might just make a difference for either candidate.  In the mix of all the craziness sits my sweet state of Virginia which lies in an unprecedented spot. 

Both parties have been crawling from Richmond to Newport News in hopes of swinging the state to their favor.  And, because of this, there's been some pretty interesting expressions from passionate Americans.






Make sure your expression is to vote in this election.

Enjoy the freedom to have a voice in our country.

... just go vote.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Dust Covered and Discouraged

I scrutinized each item thoroughly and placed it in the pile for its destiny.  

Keep.     Summer.     Trash.     Winter.     Donation.     Wishful.

Keep:  an easy choice.  The known five choice pieces of clothing that I really  like, currently wear and actually fit into.

Summer:  another easy choice.  If it didn't have sleeves or leg length below my calf, it was placed in this pile.

Trash:  an even easier choice.  The appropriate pile for eyed rips, tears and ... what IS that?

Donation:  a super easy choice and the biggest pile by far.  A huge heap of stuff that was surely bought on a whim or because the sale was too good to pass up.  

Wishful:  the hardest choice.  This is the choice that took me the longest to make, created the most angst and sent me reeling down memory lane with the fabric .  Transported back in time when I was THAT size (comfortably).  The feel of the item pushing my brain into THAT moment when I was wearing THIS dress and...oh, the memories.

Then, I shook myself to reality.  

Sadly, I acquiesced.  

There cannot be a Wishful pile.  That size surely won't be seen again by my much more antiqued, maternal, ready for winter body.

The Wishful pile had to be dismantled and the items tossed into one of the existing piles with the exception of the Keep pile.

With all of the expended effort behind me, I emerged dust covered and discouraged from my closet proclaiming...

I don't have anything to wear.



Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Storm Rolls In



There it is in the distance.
Moving towards my life.
Not wanting to give way to fear.
But unsure of how to do that at times.
Watching and waiting as another storm rolls in.


It's threatening even from miles away.
With intensity that stirs up such passionate emotions
in me.
Despite the forward swirling movement, there is beauty unfolding.
Right next to me.
Close.
Grabbing my attention.

And, then...seemingly out of nowhere
the storm makes its presence known.
Blinding.
Slinging hit after hit.
Blustering its way in me
 over me
and even through me.

And I start surviving.
Blinking furiously to ward off the rain.
Purposely sitting taller in an effort to bully the storm away from me.
Pressing my shoulders back in defiance against the wind.
I will not give in.
I will not back down.
It is only a storm.
And 
it 
will 
pass.

With the onslaught over, I release my warrior stance. 
 and look up.
There is a gift.  
The kind of gift that only comes after storms pass.
No matter the size or strength of the storm
the gift is always there.

The rainbow pushing through the backdrop of darkness.
And, I see the beauty of change.
Gently making its way in me.
Over me.
And even through me.



Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Slice of Life


It's a new find for me while I investigated the just-built, just-opened Whole Foods Market.

My new find has taken the yuk out of the need. 

Need:  vitamins on a daily basis.
Status:  disregarding nutrional recommendation to ingest vitamins due to disgust.
New find: gummy vitamins!
Status:  loving my vitamins and have taken them consistently for 3 weeks.

They're a new fave from Hero Nutritionals (although the site appears to be under some construction).

Check 'em out...get healthy! ;)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thoughtful Tuesday

We do not grow absolutely, chronologically.  We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly.  We grow partially.  We are relative.  We are mature in one realm, childish in another.  The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present.  We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.

- Anais Nin

Welcome Home, Newton!

Another addition to our family.

Completely adorable.  

Definitely daddy's boy.

Absolutely perfect for Copernicus.

Welcome home, Newton!





Friday, October 24, 2008

I've Been...

I've been ...
waiting.

I've been talking about this day for months.

I've been dreaming of how my days would be if he were here.

I've been... 
staring.

Amazed at how gorgeous he is.

Wanting to jump beside him and listen to his heartbeat.

I've been....
nesting.  

Organizing and painting and readying the room.

Shopping in search of the best of the best welcome home toy.


I've been...
loving.

My heart full of joy and anticipation for him.

We pick him up tomorrow.



Thursday, October 23, 2008

Change

Do I watch it from the inside out?

...maybe even let it pass me by because where I sit is so comfortable?
So normal.

Or, do I begin to accept that change is for my benefit and take small steps toward new adventures?

Knowing that as I enter into the change process, I will need to be intentional. I will need piercing eyes that bring vision and clarity despite the feeling that I'm moving way too fast.

Turning slightly for a respite from the full-on frontal movement of change. Letting my eyes adjust a moment to a new place of being. Accepting the fact that I'm not done yet, but surveying where I am at the moment.

And...then getting back into focus. Turning my eyes towards the future once again. Back into the currents of change, steadying my thoughts and emotions and allowing the plan for my life to unfold without resistance. Allowing myself to enjoy the winds of change.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thoughtful Tuesday

"Nothing could be worse than the fear that one had given up too soon, and left one unexpended effort that might have saved the world".  
- Jane Addams

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Quiet, Sleepy Kind of Morning

The freezing air presses against the window pane, threatening to invade the warmth.  

The morning steals the darkness away, almost secretively, letting slivers of light enter the room unobtrusively.

Scents of lavender, sage and chamomile float lazily in the air while the cup of tea steeps quietly on the ledge.


....and the morning begins.  

A quiet, sleepy kind of morning 
for one 
in need of a hideaway 
from the discussions and decisions.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

iChanged to Mac

It started out something like this...



Then became even more difficult with this...



So I decided to change ...



Another adventure. Another iChange.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Dog Bites

We headed outside for an early evening walk, ready to enjoy the almost-but-not-quite-brisk air and take in the first scents of the fall season.

We turned the corner, made our way down the driveway and saw our neighbor and her dog waiting for us in the cul-de-sac. We tried several times to begin conversation, however, her dog did everything he could to prevent that from happening.

I had already taken Copernicus off his leash and allowed him to investigate the grounds around me. He calmly sniffed, stayed close to me and did show some interest in the little white dog. Neighbor's dog, though, barked and growled and was agitated at being held and restrained by his owner.

All of a sudden, the dog jumped out of her arms.

It happened so fast.

Neighbor grabbed the little white blur, firmly gripping him in her arms as she apologized profusely for her dog's aggressiveness.

I felt it even as she was talking. Sore and somewhat moist. I put my hand on the area to feel what had happened and she said, "Did he bite you"?

Incredulous, I pulled my shorts up and there it was - a bite. A dog bite! He barely broke the skin but the bite was fairly large.

I tried not to make a big deal of it. We exchanged a few more pleasantries and then went home with my well-socialized, well trained schnauzer guy, Copernicus.



After all the excitement we settled in and stretched out on the bed. The only choice was to watch an episode of the Dog Whisperer.

I think I'd like to leave an anonymous gift set of the show's first season on her porch. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

But...I'm a Bookworm!

Books are my thing.

I say this as I shrug my shoulders, tilt my head to one side and brandish a half-smile, half-smirk. Books invite and envelope me. They nourish me, encourage me, challenge me to think critically and fuel me to generate my own creativity.

But, I am a hopeless bookworm.

I find myself apologizing for my bookworming because there are those unfortunate times when I ward off person-to-person contact so that I can ingest a new read. Or, re-read an old read. ;)

Yesterday, I devoured Nora Ephron's funny take on aging in I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman. I felt like I was sitting in my living room with her and having a wildly amusing exchange about my own aging process. I needed to laugh. I needed to feel connected. Nora brought that to my day yesterday.

But, as I realized this morning, it was at the expense of a real relationship. Ugh, let me explain.

He initiated. He asked me to go.

There's been sporadic pain for a few weeks and then a lump appeared and seemed to make it's home in the center of his wrist. So, we're at the doctor's office getting it checked out. In between the signing in, taking a seat, going here for x-rays and the doctor popping in and out - there was a moment.

He was chatty. Revealing himself in a conversational, vulnerable way. He outright told me that he wanted to talk.

And, I missed it!

I totally chose my book over him in that instance. I was page turning. My nose full in the book and my brain so far away from where I was physically sitting. Next to him.

I should have been enjoying the alone time with him. I should have seized the opportunity to be allowed into his world and absorb all of the details he wanted to provide.

I missed it. And, I'm really sad about that.

But, today, I'm on high alert. Waiting for another chance. Knowing those moments don't come very often anymore.

Not when he's almost 17.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thoughtful Tuesday

"Hope is a projection of the imagination; so is despair. Despair all too readily embraces the ills it foresees; hope is an energy and arouses the mind to explore every possibility to combat them...

In response to hope the imagination is aroused to picture every possible issue, to try every door, to fit together even the most heterogeneous pieces in the puzzle. After the solution has been found it is difficult to recall the steps taken - so many of them are just below the level of consciousness."

-Thornton Wilder

Monday, October 13, 2008

Focusing in the Change Process

10.11.08
Wintergreen, VA

As soon as the weather turns cold, our thoughts turn toward change. The mountains begin to display the glorious colors of fall and we begin to anticipate and wait for the change. We readily make plans to be in the midst of the change so we can see it up close and personal. Now, juxtapose this with our own life change process.

Is there any anticipation of true change?

Is there willingness to wait for "peak" conditions?

Do we position ourselves to embrace change or to prevent it?

We try to prevent it and typically have our feet planted in the ground with much angst, forcefully pushing against change in the opposite direction. Sweating from exertion and hardly able to breathe, we relent and change only because we can no longer resist it. The pain of not changing becomes greater than the pain of keeping things in line with the status quo.

We lean towards not welcoming or anticipating change with the mindset of the beauty it produces. We tend to focus on the pain that's involved in the change process. We lose sight, if we ever had it to begin with, that change roots out things that must go so that new things can come.

It's not quite the glorious change of color that we might otherwise produce in our lives if we went with the flow and rhythym of transformation.

What new things might develop today if we were to allow change a natural path to weave through our lives?

I would love to hear your answer...would you be kind enough to post?

Friday, October 10, 2008

An Unlikely Angel


An Unlikely Angel, written by Ashley Smith with Stacy Mattingly, is Ashley's personal account of being kidnapped and held hostage by Brian Nichols in 2005. Held hostage for seven hours, she was able to talk with her kidnapper about her struggle with drug addiction, her daughter, her story of widowhood, God, The Purpose Driven Life book she was reading, and taking accountability for her actions. She has been hailed as a hero for keeping her composure in crisis and contributing to Brian Nichols surrender and arrest for murder.

Unfortunately, I didn't like the book very much. Several parts were repetitive and reduntant and I found it difficult to finish reading just because of sheer boredom.

With that being said, I try to get at least one good take-away from even the worst of books. And, with that in mind, I was able to grab two good points out of this one.
  • God uses imperfect people to accomplish much in this life.
  • God doesn't give up on us despite our ability to give up on ourselves.

Rating: 3 out of 10 (don't bother reading)

Any recommendations for my next read?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Choose Well

There was good wisdom doled out by Jillian Michaels last night on The Biggest Loser.

She said, "One of the most powerful tools that you have in this life is the ability to make a choice. You realize that you're empowered when you choose".

Think on that today, friends, and choose well!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I Thought I Was...

I recycle paper, plastic and glass.

I actively look for ways to make my carbon imprint less.

I ask for groceries to be "paper" bagged.

So, imagine the shock of cleaning out my pantry and finding ...



I thought I was a tree hugger.

(said with head hanging down, shuffling feet a bit,
wondering who I really am)

Monday, October 6, 2008

We're Ready


Sometimes change is desired and sought after. And, in the case of our miniature schnauzer family, we've sought change. We're bringing Newton da Vinci home in two weeks and he will bring much change with him.

But, we're ready.

We've prepared for him. We've done the logistics and bought the supplies.
We're ready.

But, with a puppy, we know there are changes coming that we have no way of preparing for. We just brace ourselves for a period of time when there will be puppy whining, biting, chewing, no sleep, constant watch over each move the puppy makes, and not being able to leave the puppy home alone for longer than an hour.

Those are the changes that require flexibility.

Those are the times when vision must look past the immediate circumstance and pain of change into the future at what will be...despite what is.

Change is good.

We're ready.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

These are the Days

when preparation doesn't bring perfect plans,

when fear isn't allowed to drive behavior,

when praise echoes no matter the cost.

I believe that God has a plan for me and my family that brings Him glory and honor.

These are the days.



Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Post-Travel Mania Distress

I'm home sweet home. It feels good. I begin to perch into my favorite spot on the sofa and stretch like a contented cat when all of a sudden...

panic hits!

I'm still on some type of West Coast time so by the time I even get out of bed I'm behind. 3 hours behind.

My internal clock says it's 9am but my real-to-the-moment clock says it's noon already. I look at my iTouch calendar to see how today will roll and

panic hits!

Not only am I slammed jammed with fun today but tomorrow and the next day as well.

How did this happen? Did I really not prepare for a rest before engaging in full on hometown life?

*sigh*

I gotta get moving.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

You Say Goodbye - I Say Hello


Airports teem with emotion.

The hellos dance about in spurts of joy, smiles and laughter while the goodbyes swirl about revealing tears, sobs and muffled pain.

Saying goodbye hurts.

...especially when I was just saying hello.

Monday, September 29, 2008

My Parents' Daughter

Even though I don't spend much time around my family members who live in California, I became keenly aware on this trip of how much we are alike. It caught my attention as I recognized familial similarities in speech, vocal inflection, even stature and posture at times. I am perplexed by this because of the minimal exposure to each other as adults and at the same time thrilled that there are such lineage traits.

I watched my sisters playfully interact with each other and saw a semi-replica of myself and how I interact in my friendships.

Not fully alike. Not completely the same.

But, the same.

So I kept watching.

I looked to my parents. Where are we alike? And, I took note.


My Mom

Coffee lover. Tree hugger. Music lover. Humorous. Humanitarian.
Loves my Dad.

My Dad
Animal lover. Political observer. Technology appreciator. Sentimental. Fixer.
Loves my mom.

And, I've come to the conclusion ...
I am happily and proudly my parents' daughter!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Friendin' Along The Way

Watching Copernicus and his buddy Dell navigate the arduous trails of Devil's Punchbowl , I considered their ways of friendship.

Friend Rule #1:

Find a great adventure together and go for it.

Friend Rule #2:

Run like crazy...and grab a rest stop when needed.

Friend Rule #3:

Allow friends to head out on new adventures.

Friend Rule #4:

Don't be afraid to go solo for awhile.