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The Lesson of Driving

I have been given the task of teaching my nephew how to drive.  Well actually, his grandmother (my Mom) taught him the basics, I just have to make sure he has expereince in traffic so he can get his liscense and not wreck when he starts driving. Sounds simple.

I am not sure how my parents managed to teach us how to drive and still have a liver left. My nephew has done very well, and yet by the time the lesson is over, the only thing I want to do is go to the liquer cabinet and pour something straight, forget the rocks.

Maybe it’s because it’s my new car that is being driven. Maybe because it’s my car. Maybe because I am old and drive like an old person. Maybe because I understand just how fragile life is and how in a second everything can change.  Maybe I need to drink before the driving lesson. But being the driving instructor scares the crap out of me.

The key to being a good and successful driving instructor is to let ever let the student know that you are scared. And no yelling. Ever. The last thing my nephew, or any young person learning to drive, needs is to hear me yelling “STOP!!’ or “TURN Here Now!!” The poor kind would have a heart attack and kill us both. I have found that a calm instructor makes a calm student.  And most of the time it is fine, as he is very good student. But in those moments when he does what all young drivers do…I take a deep breath, find something to hold onto, press my foot hard against the floor (like that makes him press the breaks faster??) close my eyes and say nothing. When we get home, that is the time to tell him, that the proper way to handle that next time.

I have to say that I am proud of him, driving now. We drove last night at dusk, in the rain, with quite a bit of traffic. He did good.

So we drive around the neighborhood. We go to the grocerystore and the post office. We drive to d whatever arrends need to be done. And at the end, he learns to drive, I enjoy and nice tall one and we both have a sense that we have accomplished something.

and that is what is important.

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Life is Messy

Looking at my house, it’s a mess, to put it nicely.  The dishes are stacked up in the kitchen sink and counter. There are glasses everywhere – on the kitchens table, on the counters, the coffee table, the outside tables, in the garden, in my bedroom, my sister’s and nephew’s bedrooms, and I think I saw one even in the laundry room.

My clothes are everywhere in my room and bathroom. The bathrooms need to be cleaned. The entire house needs to be dusted, wiped off and organized. And vacuumed. And mopped.  There are tufts of cat hair. And dust bunnies.

Oh, yes, the house is a mess.

But that’s what happens when you have a life that makes you feel happy, loved, safe and ready to walk on the clouds.

Life has been wonderful. Mom and Dad came up for a great visit. The family talked, drank wine, ate snacks, laughed and had a great time out on the patio by the garden. The next morning there was coffee to drink and breakfast to eat. There was rushing to leave for work and doctor’s appointments. There were hugs and smiles, plans of when they were coming up again.

And then there are the visits to see him, the man who makes me smile. There is waking up next to him, warm, cozy, safe. It is fun to enjoy those wonderful moments. Getting to know him, talking, laughing and learning. Seeing his life, in his world. Sharing and breathing.

Life is messy. In the best moments, when you are busy living, it can get messy, dusty, dirty….and happy. And my messy house is a sign of a happy life.

 

 

All in the Family

My house has been taken over by my family. And cats.  It’s like a whirlwind/tornado when my family comes to visit. It’s not like in the movies, where you open the doors and there are calm, sweet hugs and kisses. There are hugs and kisses yes, but then there is the unloading. The unloading of the van is like a race, it must be fun fast and furious, before anyone sits down or catches up. While this may not seem like anything substantial, it is quite the event because my parents pack for just in case – of a nuclear war, of a famine, of a mass communication outage or power failure.

There will be many coolers worth of food (they feel bad for making me cook and provide sustenance, so they bring a lot of their own). Meats, breads, cheeses, wine, filtered water, fruits, vegetables and a whole smorgasbord of home made, home cooked yummy goodness. Even fresh canned treasures from their own garden. There is more food than can possibly be imagined, and my mother immediately starts organize the treasure on the cupboard, refrigerator and freezer with such precision, talent and concentration, one can only stand back in awe and watch the master at work.

Next will be all of Dad’s electronics. My father is a professional engineer, and truly believes that having every gadget known to man-kind is a must. And so he travels with the Garmin, his laptop and several things I have no clue as to their purpose, but they have a lot of chords. And parts. And little lights. And sometimes they make noise. I try not to go near where ever his treasure of electronics are, as I am a clumsy disaster waiting to happen, especially after a few glasses of wine.

All the bedding is next. Blankets, sheets and more pillows than anyone should be legally allowed to own. There is no shortage of pillows at my house, however, they like their own and want to make sure they are comfortable sleeping. Don’t you hate it when you sleep at someone else’s house, and it’s not YOUR pillow? And you can’t get comfortable. And it smells different. And then you wake up the next day with a sore neck? Smart people travel with their own pillows.

My wonderful parents also always bring lots of things for me . And the house, or garden, the laundry, the garage, or just because you might find a way to use it, stuff. It’s like Christmas, but better because you didn’t have to spend any money on gifts. Or wondering what to get people who already have everything. (Monogrammed golf shirt? Dad doesn’t play golf. That new fangled, gotta have it, only available for a limited time, can’t find in stores, so call now and get free steak knives too, kitchen gadget? Mom already has it.  A nose hair trimmer? Now, that’s just tacky).

After all of this, two very small, almost dainty, overnight bags are unloaded, containing toiletries on clothes. NO matter how long they are gone, a weekend or a month, somehow everything they will use, wear or need fits in those little bags. I swear they have no bottom, like going to see David Copperfield and he pulls a 10 foot pole out of a two-inch hat? Yes, just like that. It really is amazing to see everything they fit into those bags.

After everything is unloaded, organized and put in the proper place, everyone sits down and starts to catch up. Coffee is poured (unless it’s after 5, then it’s wine). There is laughter and smiles, teasing and oh so much love. we talk, tell of our latest adventures, whether in the garden or across the world and have good family time. Yes, it’s good to have family come visit.

Easter and Chainsaws

Easter with the family is always wonderful and this year was no different. We drove to the family compound this year. The weather was wonderful and it was a great break from the rainy cold we had been having prior tot he holiday in Atlanta.   It was the perfect weather for yard work, and our parents took full advantage that their young healthy children would be there for the weekend.

Spring in southern Georgia is a very special thing, so having to be outside was not a problem at all. I helped Dad with the yard work. We started off by trimming Mom’s many fruit trees. Dad got the little, what I call mini-chain saw. We worked well together, he chainsawing the limbs as i would hold and catch them as they fell (they were small trees). I would put the limbs in the back of the truck to haul off to the burn pile later. Those who have grown up in the south or in the country are very familiar with this practice.

Soon the limbs from all the trees were taller than the cab of the little work truck. This meant it was time for this 40 year old girl to revert back to childhood. This meant fun! I climbed into the back of the truck and started walking, even jumping on the large pile of limbs. I felt like I could shout “I’m the king of the castle and you’re the dirty rascal!”  You can take the girl out of the country…

Next it was time to cut down a few small dead fruit trees (something that doesn’t happen very often around my mother because she has more than a green thumb). I begged, begged, begged to finally be allowed to use the chain saw. After all, I am forty. My father agreed and we had a great father daughter moment as he showed me how to use it. He was proud of his little girl. A chain saw wielding red-headed klutz. Oh yes. Be afraid, be very afraid. Especially any ex boyfriends or anyone who eve cut me off in traffic (insert evil laugh here).

But before I could cut the trunks of the trees, all the grass and such needed to be cleared put. Dad offered me some gloves, but they would have just gotten in the way. Having my hands in the dirt makes me feel closer to God, as I feel the dirt on my hands and smell the earth. It’s a lot harder than it looks! But I felt triumphant the stump I was chainsawing became nothing more than a small piece of wood that could be pulled up later.

After the hard work with the chainsaw was done, it was time to sit and relax. By this time the weather had changed, and the clouds were rolling in. There was just enough time to pour a glass of wine and sit out on the back porch. Soon you could hear it; the sound of the rain hitting the lake.  The scent of the rain was heavy on the breeze, and finally when the sight of the rain caught up with the scent and sound, it was quite a site. Lighting lit up the sky, and the rain came down in heavy sheets that flooded the yard and made waves on the water. It was beautiful.

And that is the way it is in life – Sometimes a little rain must fall, even after a lot of hard work. But when the storm is over, everything is clean and clear, ripe and green. And if we look, we can see God’s hand in the changes that the storm creates. For change is often not easy, and the waves are far reaching. But every storm runs out of rain. So until then grab a seat and a glass of wine. And know, in your heart of hearts, that it will be ok.

This year Easter was a wonderful blessing. There was a lot of hard work, lot’s of love, laughter and family. Yes, life could not get much better (well, I could win the lottery, or George Clooney could fall madly in love with me…but I digress). Life is good and I am happy.

The Best Place

The Best Place

Last night, as my father lay on the couch and my sister, mother an di were sitting around the dinner table talking softly while having cheese, crackers and wine, Dad said something very sweet and meaningful. He has not been feeling well after his last chemo treatment. Theyu live in Southwest georgia, and come up to stay with me when he gets his treatments.

Last night as he sat up to get some water, he said that this was the best place he could be, right here, in my house, surrounded by his family and those he loves most. Yes, I am a Daddy’s Girl.

Many men do not realize how much influence they have over their daughters, espcially when it comes to love and dating. I hold such high standards because of the kindof man my father is. I knwo what honor and integrity are because of watching him. I know how a man should treat me, because of the way he not only treats my mother, but by the way he treats every other woman he comes into cantact with as well. He protects women, he respects them, he treats them with kindness and respect.

Little girls choose their partners, lovers, husbands and know how they should be treated in relationships by watching their fathers. Never forget that guys, as those little eyes and ears pick up much more than you realize. So be the kind of man your daughters would be proud to know. It will make a difference in your life and theirs, trust me.

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Twists and Turns In the game of Life

We all remember that game called Life…you spin the wheel, move your man and follow the directions on the space you landed. Sometimes you ended up with a lot of money, sometimes kids, sometimes lots of things. But there was never any way to know how it was going to go, no matter how you thought you had it figured out.

It is amazing to me the many twists and turns on which life takes us. One thing is for sure, it’s never boring. My life is great, however that does not mean that there are not bad moments, days or worries. There is a saying that life is what happens while you are planning. This, I have found, is so true. And there are some things for which you simply cannot plan, some things that will throw you for a loop, some things for which you just have to roll with the punches so to speak. As a woman who plans, this can be a but unnerving.

Mom and Dad will be here today for Dad’s latest chemo treatment. If this doesn’t work, the doctors are not sure what will be next. Though I have a lot of Faith that things work work out, there are still worries. There is taking care of Mom who will be just about sick with sorry so we much be strong for her.

Money will be tight for the next 2-3 weeks. Temporary cash crunches are just that, temporary. And in that amount of time I will be completely out of debt and debt free is a wonderful place. I don’t believe in using credit cards. After being in finance for so many years, I saw first-hand how easy credit has helped destroy this nation. So I don’t use credit unless I have to. But writing about easy credit and people living beyond their means could be the subject of many blog entries.

My sister and I are having a great time, but it is difficult for her being away from her family. She has been married for 25 years and they have never really been apart. I do as much as I can for her to make her feel better. And in the middle of all of it, are my Lenten Disciplines. Practicing Grace. And God has a sense of humor. I am good except with one person, my latest ex. And I just enjoy being snarky to him because he hurt me so bad. But practicing Grace means letting all of that go, and being nice. He actually accused me of only being nice to him when I needed something. No, I am trying to be nice because of Lent. But, I can only do what I can and let others think what they may.

I may need to add Pride to my list of things on which to work on for my Lenten Disciplines. I have a hard time asking for help. I have been on my own for a long time, and it hurts my pride deeply to admit I cannot do something on my own. As a result, I tend to go to the same people over and over for help, so to avoid anyone knowing that I need. But that is for another entry.

There are also more belly dance classes and photography classes for which I have signed up. There are the photo-shoots scheduled with my agent, new headshots, my book, work is crazy busy, the new relationship that we are exploring, running more and longer, learning the new iPhone, getting my nephew moved in, and a few other things.

 So life is very good, better than I ever thought, but still there are twists and turns in this journey. It is not yet the end of the second month of the year, and it has been so much more than I expected. So many things have not been planned, both good and bad.

So plan all you want, but make sure you have some room for the unexpected, because it’s coming. And really, would we want it any other way? Think of the roads which we take, the people we meet along the way, and the unplanned events that happen in our lives. The twists and turns are what make life…life.

The Trip of a Lifetime

We all have them, a trip that turns out to be the trip of a lifetime. We memories are made and a new view on life is unleashed. This past weekend was that trip for me. Now I have had trips to remoste tropical islands, great cities and had wonderful adventures. But this is one of the best trips. It was the tip of a lifetime.

The trip was to Chicago with my mother. We have always had a good time when traveling together, whether she was driving me to Atlanta or to Boca Raton for classes when I was younger, to short trips across town. But this was different.

This was her being there just for me. My dad came up to watch my cats – and he is not a cat person. My Mom traveled with me, with a bad back, a bad hip and a hate for cold tempuratures. She traveled with me to a very cold city in a blizzard.

And as we walked across the snow and ice, in the middle of a blizzard, we talked about life, love, the past, the present and the future. We talked of friends, family, possibilites, failures, triumps and everything in between.

She was there with me during one of the hardest days on Friday. And then, afterwards, when it was late and I finally fell asleep, she stayed up and made sure I had no bad dreams as I been having, that I did not get cold or wake up shaking. She stayed up almosts all night, until she was sure that I was sleeping peacefully and truly got rest.

And I am so very lucky and blessed. To have a mother like that, who will truly be there for you no matter what. And a Dad who would watch over my cats, when he is not a cat person. I have so much more than most, but sometimes, it is easy to forget our blessings. Sometimes it is easy to miss the forest for the trees in front of us.

So take a look around, at those who have done things for you, those who have cared for you even when you did not deserve it, those who have supported you, those who have been brave enough to tell you when you where wrong or out of line even. Because they are the ones who will be there for you through anything. Those are the people who will love you no matter whoat, no matter your faults, and stick with you through you dark days and share in the celebration of your best days. But you must first look around and recognize them.

And when you do see them, tell them you love them and that your appreciate them. That is something you never get tired of hearing.