Tag Archive | home

Where the Magic Happens

Home is where it happens. All the magic of life and family.  And this year I am counting on that magic to add to the wonderfulness of the holiday season.  This year I am hosting the family for Thanksgiving.  We all have our firsts in life, and this is one of mine.

To some this may not seem like a big deal, but to my large and very eclectic family its pretty big.  This is the first year that my parents are healthy and not suffering from cancer.  And this year everyone is in close proximity.  This is also probably the last year my nephews will be local. My oldest nephew is graduating college next month and who knows where he will end up.  The other two are going to school and working as well, but they all have off for the holidays this year.

It is the first time that the family will be gathering at my house.  In the past, we have all made it to our parents house.  But they are getting older and it is a lot of work for them to do all the cooking, cleaning and general preparation for such a family event.  I am hoping that it is a success, that everyone has a good time, even though it will be quite the adventure.  To understand the overtures of this undertaking, let me explain:

My parents are quite set in their ways.  They are great, wonderful, honest, hard working, loyal people.  But they can be extremely difficult to please.  And they both cannot be happy and comfortable at the same time.  You will go crazy trying to make that happen, trust this, I know. I have actually told them to choose each day of the visit who gets to be happy and comfortable, that way there is not constant complaining.  It works.

In the past visits, there have been complaints that the house is too cold (Dad likes the temp at 84-86), too hot (Mom likes it between 74-76) and neither of them like ANY air circulation, so no fans or such. The food is too spicy or too bland. And I live out in Egypt, s where I live is too far, from everything (I actually have the same complaint).

My mother smokes, but she hates smoking outside, mainly because it’s cold in the winter and she doesn’t like to be cold.  Once, in the House of Mold, she smoked on the screened-in-porch. When she got cold she insisted I bring her the warmest coat I owned…which happened to be a mink coat.  So there she is, sitting out in a screened-in-porch, in her pink fuzzy warm house slippers….smoking….in a mink coat. I would have taken a picture if I had not feared death. So I have set up a wonderful sitting area in the garage…along with 2 large, large room heaters, that each one would heat the small garage for most. There will be tables, chairs and a soft couch from which to choose.

My father, on his last visit, complained that he felt some small amount of air moving across his face. This air was coming from a closed air vent in his bedroom that was very suspect.  The threatened to sleep in the garage.  Instead I fixed a separate place for him upstairs in my office.  This time the bed in his room will be moved far away from that evil vent, thus avoiding the problem altogether.

Add to the mix my wonderful sister and her 2 sons.  Nothing much will happen with any of them, as they will be face-deep in their phones.  I will have to make a rule that there are no electronic devices at the table. My sister and Dad do speak the same language, sometimes I swear they have the same brain even. My youngest nephew smokes as well, so he will be in the garage with his grandmother, while we will try to keep the oldest from getting into a political discussion with my mother.  Liberal college kid views do not go over well with her  conservative mindset, and he is too young to be able to keep up with her quick wit (not kidding). I would prefer to save the fireworks for July 4th.

And everyone loves coffee. And wine. And food in general. And we can all gather next to the warm fireplace, when we are not out in the garage, hanging out with the smokers.  Or decorating the Christmas. Or asleep in our food comas.

And this weekend will be the flurry of getting the last bit ready…the deep cleaning (but not too deep, because my mother will need something to clean while she visits).  There will be dusting of things and cleaning of baseboards. Vacuuming, sweeping and mopping.  The cupboards are full of snacks and such, the throw blankets and sheets have all been swashed and are fresh and soft. There is music that has been picked out for the occasion.  It may be hard but it will be worth it.  Much laughter, love, great moments, memories and pictures.  And I will hug them just a little bit tighter, just a little bit longer.  This year, a year of so many wonderful things in our lives, and so many miracles.  And so much heartbreak and terror in the world.  Nothing like watching the news to make you hold your loves ones just a little closer.

And in those hugs, those moment and those memories, that is where the magic happens.

Childlike

I swam in the ocean and played like a child. I did back flips, hand stands and the back stroke. I let the current of the ocean carry me as I floated on the surface. I swam underwater, like a fish, seeing how long I could hd my breath before coming up to the surface for that first gasp of air when my lungs felt like they are going to burst. There was an excitement, an innocents that coursed through my veins as I felt the water against my skin.

At first the water was almost too cold, but then as my body adjusted tot he temperature, it felt refreshing and I was energized. The entire sea in front of me, with all the mystery it holds. All it’s secrets being whispered to me in the currents.

It had been almost two years since I swam in the ocean. Almost two years since I did back flips and let the water carry me. And it was wonderful.

It makes you appreciate the cool fresh salty air of the sea. And to feel the soft breeze across my damp face was pure heaven. And I saw God, in the sea, int he sky, in the everything of the moment. And I knew He had me in his hands and that all was well in my world.

There were hot Krispy Kreme donuts in bed, melting in my mouth from the first bite to the last. There was laughter, wine and dancing. There was the innocence and playfulness of a child. It was freedom.

Falling for the Weekend

It is Fall here in the south. The weather is turning cooler, with the highs in the low 80’s and high 70’s. At night the air is crisp and cool, promising the cold of the winter to come. In a word, it is delicious. I love this time of year. The air-conditioning gets turned off and the windows or up at night, as the cooler temperatures makes sleeping under a warm blanket a wonderful experience…until you try to get out of bed the next morning. Car rides have the windows down and the radio up, as the cool fall air mixes with  the warm sun to make the perfect recipe for road trip.

The fall festivals have already started, and the leaves are beginning to turn colors. The air is light and fresh, as  are the spirits of those around. Yes, it is fall, yummy, cool, promising, busy and fun. This weekend was a great taste of what is to come.

Family is a big part of my life. My youngest nephew came up with his girlfriend to explore and go to see a concert. Leaving us boring adults behind, they went shopping, eating, concert going and had much fun just being together. But I suspect we boring old people had much more fun.

Friday night were “crack tots” and beer with friends. Crack tots, true to their name, are highly addictive. You cannot just have one of these delicious tots dipped in equally addictive cheese sauce.  Thank goodness they have no calories either (at least that is what I tell myself as I devour them). Later that night my nephew and his girlfriend arrived, and there was much laughter and love.

Saturday was crazy busy, as once again the two lovebirds went out looking for cool things to do in Atlanta. Breakfast was cooked, more laughter and lots of activity around the Burch household. Then it was time for the adults to play, as we planned a fun time downtown. A friend of mine has a brother who bought a favorite bar, so we went down for the celebration. And we celebrated a lot. There were hugs of friend that I had not seen for a=years, laughter, catching up, eating and drinking. There was great live music, an old bank vault filled with everything Elvis, dancing and lots of Johnny Cash. There were pictures and smiles, and of course, several times I nearly tripped.

Sunday brought about sleeping late, brunching and lots of laughter and love

And I have to say that I am falling in love…with this season, and these weekends, and my family, and this time, these moments, in life. I am falling for Fall. And it is wonderfully delicious!

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.

The Time in the Space

I have a pretty big place where I live. Almost 1,800 square feet. That may seem small to many, but to a girl who used to live by herself, that is a lot of space. 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths plus a garage (which is now the computer lab and workout space). My nephew, sister and I all have own own space. We all have our own space to go to when we need. I have always lived in places like this. Where I had my own space, and anyone who stayed with me had their own space too.

My boyfriend has a wonderful place. I love staying with him because his place is warm, comfortable, beautiful and intimate. He has a great house that is like an efficiency – it has a bedroom with his wonderful comfortable king size bed, a kitchen with beautiful custom cedar counters he with his own hands, a laundry area and a bathroom with the best jacuzzi tub ever made. Walls, ceiling and floors that are of wood, laid with his strong hands, exactly in their place. And there is no place to hide.

I have always had a bit of trouble being vulnerable, being intimate, letting someone into my space and knowing how to be close. And here is my boyfriend, when I stay with him, in a place where I cannot hide. I cannot hide when i am feeling lost. I cannot hide when I am feeling fluffy and bloated. i cannot hide when I am board, or aggravated, or happy, or sleepy, or hungry, or thirsty. I cannot hide when I have to use the bathroom, or am cold, or am feeling insecure.

The time in his space, forces me to be intimate. And I love it. I find that in his space, where I cannot hide, where I am naked, where I am bare, is the place where I run when I need refuge. This place, warm, solid, warm, dark and sensual, is where I go to be protected, held and comforted. Yes, the time in this space, his space, has taught me a great deal. About myself, about intimacy, about sharing, about life and about him.

The Fog Has Lifted

It settled down like an unwelcome uninvited fog. It started about three weeks ago and stayed, thick, heavy tangible and low.  It felt awful. It left a residue. And now, slowly, it has lifted, leaving behind clear skies and fresh air. It was a bit of a funk. And everyone goes through the funk a bit, even when we have the best or most perfect lives.

In reality, there is no reason to be blue – my father is doing much better, my sister has a great job, my nephew is going back to school in a few weeks, I have a new car that I love, a wonderful man I am dating, I have wonderful friends and life, in general, is good.

But I was sluggish, just wanted to sleep, I even cried quite a bit. I just felt…Bleh.

And sometimes that’s how it goes. Even happy people get the blues sometimes. Even those, who seem to have everything in order have bad days…even bad weeks.

So how do you get out of the Bleh’s? I don’t rightly know. Some people get super social, some get super introverted and just want to be left alone. Some people throw themselves into work, others go hiking, biking, workout, work in a shop, go shopping or just drink. What do I do? A combination. Sometimes I like to be left alone, take a quiet walk. Sometimes I want to be around my friends and enjoy their stories and laughter. Other times I want to just put my head down and work, sometimes I have a drink (or three) and sometimes I want to be held.

All of this has helped me get out of Blahville. These things a long with a new experience. I worked in a workshop this past weekend with the man I am dating. We built shelves for his home. We went and got the wood, then I watched as he methodically measured and cut the pieces with the saws and power tools. I helped as much as I could, but I was entranced by the method of creating something out of noting but a few pieces of wood. After helping him, I was assigned my tasks – to sand and to stain.

So I took the sander as I was instructed, and I concentrated on nothing else but the wood, the sanding, feeling of the machine in my hands and the texture. It was slow, purposeful and planned. Then there was the staining. I had never stained before. So the trick is to get all the stain on evenly…with no finger prints or darker stains. That may not sound like a big deal, but to a clumsy Pinktank like me…it can be a bit of a challenge. Actually, I am not sure which I am most proud of – the fact that i did a great stain job, or the fact that I managed to NOT trip, fall, stumble, foible, wobble, dribble, drop, spill or break anything in the shop. That in itself took great effort and concentration.

But I great stain job I did accomplish. And as I was staining, it came to me, that in everything there is a methods, there is a process and we must be patient and allow life to takes it’s time, dry and develop. And it came to me also, that I am in this place in life. I am used to running, doing, working and accomplishing. Now is the time to let the methods of life unfold. To let the processes take place. And to just let it happen as it will.

It is amazing how much stress and pressure that can take off a person.

You have to have patience. Work hard, play hard, love hard. But know when to take a step back and let life unfold on its own.

Admit It

Ok I admit it. I have a bit of writer block.Those are two ugly words. especially for a writer. It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about really, it’s that I kind of get the feeling that I have written about it all before. What do I have to say that is new? fresh? Inspiring? Hmmmm.

I could write about painting my nails tonight and how great it is to be a girl. How we get to have all the fun. Maybe I could write about buying a new car, and how it is easier than I thought it would be. I really did think I was going to have to go through a Spanish style inquisition requiring detailed explanations about  my credit, income, tax returns, my pets names, blood type, shoe size, the secret recipe that makes my meatloaf to die for good (I will never tell!). Or how I have become one of those people who obsesses about their car, washes it all the time and parks in the furthest parking spot. (I have not resorted to taking up two spaces…but it’s not Christmas at the mall yet either).

Maybe I could write about what it is like to be a writer and search for corporate contracts. How to deal with contracting agencies, how to be a contractor, how to send out a ridiculous amount of resumes and such per day. How to stay focused and not get discouraged or terrified when thinking about bills (alcohol helps. So does yoga. Oh wait, I don’t do yoga…)

Or maybe a nice piece on housecleaning – how I am scared to look under my bed and the fact that the dust bunnies are at war with the hair balls from the cats. Or how about the fact that I am fostering cats for a wonderful animal rescue? Maybe the fact that I am swimmingly happy and enjoying the wonderfulness of a romance that makes my knees weak?

There is always writing about what to do in the rain, how to build an arc, the importance of taking swimming lessons (along with explaining why it is perfectly normal for a woman to have 10 pairs of black pumps – because we NEED them). I recently organized my shoes. That was a huge undertaking. I could always write about living with my sister…and the many laughs we have (who would have thought we could get along for this long and not kill each other??).

And then there’s politics! Nothing gets people talking more than voicing your political opinion. Gun control, Bengazi, the IRS scandal, the NSA scandal, Fast and the Furious scandal, the $100 million vacation scandal, healthcare, {fill in the name of the latest scandal here}.

Yes, I suppose those, and many more things, could be topics of writing.

And yet, nothing seems to strike my fancy. No wise words to impart.

But sometimes that is what happens when we go and go and go in life. At some point, we must rest and refill. We must take pause and take a moment before we have anything to give to the world. Sometimes we must hide away. Call it writers block, or taking a break, or being an introvert, or…whatever you like. But sometimes it is necessary to just breathe…in…and….out. To relax. To have nothing to do. But live life.

And so tonight I sit, at the computer typing. But ony after I have enjoyed my favorite TV show, some coffee, watching lighting dance across the sky. Only after spending time with my family and pets, and catching up with friends. And only after living and breathing. Yes, life is refilling me, nurturing my soul and gently rocking to sleep, dreaming of that which I can write. Later.

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.

 

 

The Fuzzy Life

So I have a big “S” on my forehead. Especially when it comes to anything cute and furry. One of my best friends has run and animal rescue group for almost 2 years. And for the first year I was really good – I helped out with money donations, would always be available to promote special needs animals and provided a safe place for her to vent when things got overwhelming for her. I never once took in an animal.

And then…I agreed to foster two feral cats. Well, they were kind of feral as in they didn’t hate humans and might be friendly at some point, but who didn’t trust humans enough to actually be friendly. What does it take to tame a cat? A lot of time, patience and yummy food treats.

Then my friend showed me the two “bottle babies.” Bottle babies are baby cats that have lost their mother but are not old enough to be weaned, so you have to feed them from the a bottle. She mentioned that she had no place for them to go and was not sure what she was going to do with them. Oh yes, my friend is a master.

And I am a sucker for anything cute and fuzzy. And these fuzzy babies are adorable wrapped up in an extra layer of cute. I mean you just want to eat them with a spoon they are so cute!  One look at them and that was it…I heard it. You know, that sound when you get completely sucked into something? Yep.

So every 3-4 hours my family and I (because yes, everyone is involved in it at this point) feed them. And any friends who come in the house are expected to help feed and cuddle them too. They meow and play, then eat and play, then rest and play, then play and play. They are learning how to run, well, actually waddle at fast speeds, tumble, wrestle with each other, jump and scoot around backwards.  They have big round full bellies, the cutest little noses and eyes that close in happiness when they eat. They have learned to purr, and do so frequently when snuggling after eating.

They love to nuzzle around in long hair. They love to run under the coffee table where we cannot get them. They love to sniff my other cats, who are not quite sure what to make of these mini-cats. They are a joy to watch and they do not have to do anything but exist to be adored. You  cannot hold one of them without falling in love with them. And one day soon, they will make wonderful pets.

And so right now, my life is completely full of family and cats. My sister and nephew living with me, my two furry babies that I own, the two no-longer0feral cats, and the two bottle babies. And while I do enjoy having the extra furry love, I am looking forward to when they are all adopted out and we get back to a two cat home!

If you want to save a life, adopt a rescue pet, or agree to foster! It’s worth the time and effort.

Adventures in Travel

When you are a clumsy girl, you have many adventures while traveling. Not just normal, fun, coll adventures that often come with traveling. The kind of adventures that make you laugh later, because they are “sitcom moments,” those moments you know cannot really be happening in your own life, because they only happen on TV sitcoms.

Traveling to one of my best friends weddings was no exception. Getting to the plane was not a problem, getting ont he plane however, proved to be a little more difficult.  It all started when I got to the Atlanta airport and the security line was stretched out way past the normal security area into the atrium. Those who are familiar with the airport here no it is huge, so for the line to be stretched out that far is quite significant. Over an hour to get through security because TSA was short staffed.

Meanwhile, another of my best friends who was already at the gate was frantically texting em – where are ? They are boarding the plane, how much longer?

After the 75 minutes it took to get through security, I ran to the tram that takes you to the concourse. Just a tip: When you take your shoes off in the airport tram, you get a lot of strange looks. But I was on a mission. The doors to the flight were closing at 1:50. It was 1:46. I have 4 minutes to make it to the gate and on the flight.

When the door to the tram opened, I was an Olympic runner ready to win the gold. My shoes were off, my roller bag behind me in my right hand, my purse firmly in my left. I shot out of the tram with the speed only Superman could comprehend. I ran as fast as I could down the long hallway leading to the concourse gate. Then I looked up only to realize that I was going the wrong way, away from the gate I needed.

Frantically I turned around. If the story ended there, it would be funny enough, but what followed is truly a sitcom moment for the ages.

I ran as fast as I could the other way, toward the gate. I had quite a bit of distance to make up, and only 2 minutes to get there to the plane for take off. So I ran, just life Flock of Seagulls (80’s song reference) as fast as I could. And I realized just how out of shape I am.

Have you ever been running and had your legs start moving faster than the rest of you? Well that is what happened to me. It happened in slow motion, as most of my falls do. I could feel my legs moving faster, feel my body start pitching forward as I desperately tried to correct it. It was no use. Down I went, flailing limbs going everywhere.

But it was not just a fall, no, it was a slide. I was going so fast, that the fall did not stop when I was down. I could have slid right into home base. My knees hit first, then my stomach, then my hands. As I slid, my bracelet dug into the palm of my hand. A huge bruise was already starting to form on my knees. Thank goodness the dress for the wedding was a long one.

When I finally stopped sliding, my bag was about 7 feet behind me, my watch that had been slung off, was 3 feet in front of me. I got up, looked around to see if anyone saw me, and to my great relief, there was no one around. Again, this is substantial, because for the first time in my life, there was not a super hot, body from the Greek gods man around seeing my display of clumsiness.

Once up the sprint continued. Finally at the gate counter, I just about collapsed and was trying to speak when the gentleman looked at me and said very matter of factly – “You’re too late. They already closed to door.”

ADA Ada2

My jaw dropped and had I been able to speak instead of panting for breath, I would have said something charming to make him open the door. 5 minutes later, when I caught my breath and could speak, the moment had passed. During that time, the man who was there in front of me was yelling that they closed to door to the plane in his face, and about 23 other people who had been stuck in security were now at the counter, yelling and very upset because the door was closed and they would not open it for them either.

The relief that washed over me when I realized at least I was not the only one who was missing the flight, quickly disappeared when the airport staff told all of us that no, they still would not open the doors. it was not a good moment.

The situation continued for about 30 minutes, with more calls to customer service being called each minute. The things that was the most infuriating was that the plane was supposed to take off at 2pm…it was 2:20, and the flight had not left. the plane was right there, at the gate, not moving, not leaving, and they still would not open the door to let 25 passengers on. Many were screaming at ucstopmer service from their phones. I walked away, and got on the phone to customer service my self.

This is where a Southern Accent comes in handy. I calmly explained what happened and that they were going to get a lot of angry calls because so many were left off the plane, that had not left yet. My particular situation was that my best friend was getting married on the morning and could they PLEASE help me get on any flight that could get me there. – Oh and BTW, I overheard someone say that they worked for CNN and were calling this into the news. So just FYI, they might want to inform someone before it was on the national news. The lady asked if she could put me on hold while she talked to her supervisor.

A few minutes later they opened the door and let us all on the flight.

I had a nice stiff drink on the flight. Sitcom moments and adventures in travel. Somehow, I never to seem to leave home without them.

Yes, I am a Mother

I was asked one question several times while I was traveling over the Mother’s Day weekend to see my best friend’s wedding – Are you a mother? I instinctively said no I don’t. I don’t have any children so this seemed like the most honest answer. Most smiled and wished me a happy Mother’s Day anyway.   Then one person asked me if I was a mother, and I said no, but I do have a sister and nephew who are living with me. She smiled and said, “Then make no mistake, you ARE a mother.”

And upon further consideration, I suppose I am. After all, sometimes being a mother has nothing to do with biology.  I am typing this after every one has gone to bed, after dinner has been cooked and cleaned, everyone has settled in for the night. Kitchen is cleaned, lunches are ready for the morning.

I make sure this house is a home, full of love and comfort, Make sure those I love have what they need, and most of what they want. I work hard, every day, to make sure they know they are loved and wanted.  I support them, all of them, in my home and their own households when they are not here. I plan the grocery list, check the locks at night, turn on the alarm, make sure the household is running smooth.

There are chores that are planned, who vacuums, cooks cleans and such. The snack plates and glasses are gathered from their rooms. There isn’t a time during the day that I do not think about them. They come before what I need most of the time. There are conversations about how their day went; hopes, dreams, thoughts and more. I brought up hot tea and cold beverages before setting in myself to write. This is a spring board, for them, I know.

Dating? Personal life? My family is my personal life. Between all the work that I am doing, all the writing, both contract and freelance, making sure my family is comfortable and has everything they need, I don’t have time to worry about men. And men like to come first. My family comes first, so that does not bode well for relationships. If a man wants to be with me, he will have to come after my family. And he will have to understand that my time is limited, valuable and make the most of it. He will have to keep up with me and the busy schedule that is my life at this time.

I give everything I can, all that I am, to my family, my writing and my home. I love hard, work hard and play hard.  There is fatigue when my head hits the pillow. There is pressure every day to do more, be better, than the day before, for them.

Sound like a mother? Yes, indeed I am. And I love it and am so blessed beyond words to have my home be their home too.

In Between

If you obey all of the rules, you miss all of the fun.– Katharine Hepburn

In between the blogs, the words typed and thoughts discovered, have been many events, smiles, laughter, fingernail painting, hopes, dreams, wishes and secrets. Indeed, life has been full, overflowing even. Jobs and contracts, handwritten notes and typed reports. I have flown, walked, driven, screamed, caught flowers, played jokes, broken rules, taken risks and won poker games. I have even felt a young man’s teeth on my thigh, as he slid a garter on my leg, then took the garter off, then put the garter back on, all with his teeth, at  my best friends wedding, all caught on tape.

There has been moving out, moving in and moving on. Many dinners, countless dirty dishes, some desserts and more glasses of wine. Family, friends, new chances, things gained, moments lost, seconds taken and actions pondered. I have cried in joy, frustration, fear and from missing someone. From missing you and your voice, and your touch.

The garage is full, closet packed, trunk empty, attic organized, grill bought, freezer stacked and shelves lovingly cleared. I have seen my best and longest friends married, seen one loose a friend, one get divorced. A close friend get a promotion, one loose a job, one pack to move and start over and one going back home.

Oh yes, in between the writing, there has been so much, of everything, to tide me over. And so many times, I feel as if I am about to pop if I don’t run and write it all down, saving, recording each moment, expressing each detail. But  that would require my absence in the moment, and I am too busy living, soaking it all in. All the while, my heart is full, Peace is at  my door and happiness through the clouds calls my name. And I answer.

So more to come, so much more, in between living 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.

A Wedding

She and I met when we were in junior high school and fast became best friends. Shortly after 8th grade, her family was stationed in Germany, but we wrote faithfully to each other during those 3.5 years. We sent pictures, cards and shared almost every aspect of our lives. She event spent a few summers with my family and dated one of my other best friends I grew up with.

Senior year she was stationed back on our little town and we were beyond happy. best friends reunited for senior year of high school. And we got into so much trouble. There wasn’t a single adventure or mishap I had we lived in the same town that she was not a part of. From getting kicked out of the city library, to getting booked by the mobile bookmobile, to helping my high school sweat heart knock on my window one night, to rolling each others house, we were tied at the hip. Then there was the bet at prom night, and asking our dates to the prom. And then Spook Bridge, and breaking into her ex’s apartment to gain all of her CD’s back.

She has shared more embarrassing moments with me than I even care to admit. There have been fights along the way, tears, secrets,  hopes shared, dreams planned, a night were we almost drowned in a torrential rainstorm, a lost shoe and a suspicious tree, a dead strange smelling plant, workout tapes, miles run, laughter till our sides hurt, a tom of M&M eaten, shopping adventures, heartbreaks, celebrations, graduations, motivations and always love.

And then we both lived in the northeast; I in New York, she a few hours away in New Jersey. And we were constantly making trips to each others house. And venturing into the city. Seeing her parents (who were practically my parents too)or my then boyfriend, having adventures all over again. Long walks and talks with wine, misadventures, trips and smiles to last a lifetime. Jobs, boyfriends, careers, apartments, all come and gone. But our friendship has stayed for 28 years, and counting.

And here we are, so many years later. Still the same girls at heart, still keeping in touch, still hoping and routing for each other. And there is a wedding. She has fallen in love with a wonderful man (and if he ever hurts her I will break his legs). I just bought the plane tickets tonight. Another friend of 28 years and I are flying up. And I think about how lucky we are, how some friendships last forever, and how we girls would still do anything for each other.

And I celebrate her happiness, am excited for her new life with him and look forward to hearing all about it for years to come.

Thine Actions and Words to be True

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

This famous quote when Polonius speaks to his son Laertes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet is one of my all time favorites.  I have long grown up with the belief that actions speak louder than words. That a man is only as good as his word, so if his word is no good, than by default, neither is he. But this quote takes it many steps further and to me at least, is one of my personal creeds by which to live.

Some people think this quote means to be selfish and do as you wish as long as you get yours. I see it very differently. To first glean the true meaning of the phrase, you must first look at it’s origin. Hamlet’s Polonius also gave us the famous quote about “Never a borrower or lender be” and that indeed was part of the original meaning of being true to yourself as well. Polonius is instructing his son to take care of himself by being careful with his actions and words. To be an honest man true to his word but also be aware of what actions are in his best interest. Do not engage in activities which are disadvantageous or disingenuous.

This quote seems to mean that you must look after and take care of yourself if you want to be able to take care of anyone else.

Yes, Shakespeare was quite wise when picking out themes, as taking care of ones self and being honest are still two very relevant topics in this day and age.

When you are honest with yourself and follow what you know to be right, then you will lead an honest and authentic life. People who lie and cheat to get what they want from others are a dime a dozen. There is nothing special about them at all. But someone who follows a sense of integrity, even when it’s not popular? Even when it’s hard? That is someone special, that is someone who you want to have in your life.

Those people who lie and cheat, they know what they do is wrong. Why do they do it? Because they are not strong enough to do the right thing, to be true to themselves, and thus be not be false to others. Because if they haven’t the strength to look themselves in the mirror and be honest, how could they be honest with anyone else? They say charity begins at home, well so does honesty. And trust me, if they can’t even be true to themselves, you don’t want them. Run, run like the wind.

I am no saint. Let’s face it, we had to be judged by what we did in our 20’s, most of us wouldn’t leave the house. We have all done stupid things, made errors in judgment. I have done things for which I am ashamed. But in everything I have done, both good and bad, I have always been honest with myself. And I have never done anything just to be malicious. I have always been able to my head high, even when it was not easy, even when others were hurt and angry.

But if you live your life authentically, if you are true to yourself, then you will always be able to hold your head high. And you will always have respect. If you are selfish and you lie and hurt people? You will lose respect because word will get around. Just ask my last ex boyfriend, who, after he lied and cheated on this girl, found out just how much respect he would loose when his friends and family found out what he had done.

Take care with your actions and your words. Live a life of which you can be proud. And to thine own self be true. And besides, you never know just who might be driving the Karma bus…

What Real Means

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?””Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.”Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”  “Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” – The Velveteen Rabbit

“What is real?” asked the Rabbit.  One of my favorite questions of one of my favorite stories.  And a very good question.  In this day and age of bigger is better, plastic rules and superficial is best…does Real exist?  Yes, At least I think so. To me to be real means our experiences have made us deep enough people to understand what is truly important in life.

The problem, I think, is that by the time we are real, we have lived, been loved, unloved, hurt and roughed up to the point where we are a bit shabby.  We’re not new and shiny any more.  Sometimes we feel that we have lost our worth – after all, how could anyone love a worn out little rabbit? And someone may have to look past all the roughness to see what Real really means.

I think it means that you have a real heart, you have been through enough to know, through experience, what is right, wrong and in between.  Living through those experiences teaches us compassion, empathy, how to love and so much more.  It makes us a better, deeper person.

What about the shabby parts?  Well, I guess that depends on your definition of shabby.  To me it’s nothing on the outside.  It’s a heart that is so closed it can no longer let love and light in.  Maybe we all get a little shabby…but just like the Skin Horse said, you can only be ugly to those who do not understand.

So, the key is to find someone who can see through our shabbyness, our weary-ness to see the beauty of our Realness.  Someone that can loves us anyway.  But being shabby and a little worn is ok. I have often said that it is our scars and flaws that make us our most human, most beautiful…and most Real.

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.

How to Respect Yourself in a Relationship

Madonna sang about it and made it famous. Respect Yourself. Go for what you want and need in a relationship and don’t settle. Pop songs can rarely be applied to real life, but maybe the singer was onto something. When you are in a relationship, how do you respect yourself enough to not loose yourself? How do you know where that line is that should not be crossed?

Aside from the obvious – no physical abuse, no criminal activity – sometimes defining just how to do this can be a bit tricky, even for a feisty red-head like me. And when you really care about someone, it can be easier said than done. But basically it comes down to this: Respect yourself.

If you don;t respect yourself, then why would anyone else. No one will respect you any more than you respect yourself. Have standards. Love should not hurt and someone who loves you will not do anything to hurt you intentionally. Have pride in yourself and walk away from anyone who tears you down, makes you feel bad for wanting to be treated well, or makes you think that you do not deserve to be respected. A person who loves you will not disrespect you.

If you are in a relationship, you are going to hurt each other at some point, that is par for the course and part of the deal. Respecting yourself though is not about the occasional spat or even cross word. It is not about who left whose dirty socks on the floor or squeezed the toothpaste tube in the middle. It has to do with being treated at a certain level – as a human being. Girls, if the man you are with lies about something (like when his divorce is final), he will lie to you about other things.Respect yourself enough to not allow him to lie to you this way. Hold him accountable for not only his actions but his words, and walk.  

Forget about second and third, and 100th chances. and ut’s not your job to try to understand them or why they are mistreating you. It’s not your place to make excuses for them. You are not the jerk whisperer. Nor would you ever want to be.

If he says he loves you, then you find out that he is seeing other women, he doesn’t love you. Respect yourself enough to know that you deserve better. Don’t settle. Walk out the door and know that nice people, normal people, do not treat others in such a cruel and damaging way. If he balks at the fact that you have called him out on his bad behavior, if he doesn’t like you knocking on the door when you catch him cheating when another car is in his driveway or you find messages on his phone or such, then walk. You deserve better and there are too many wonderful, kind and amazing men out there to settle for someone who is so uncaring that he would let others suffer.

And some people think that if you care about or love someone, that that gives them the right to mistreat you. No it does not. No matter how much I love someone, I will not let them mistreat me. Period. And if they try to mistreat me, they will quickly see this little red-headed girl put down the law in a matter of seconds.

So chin up, and respect yourself to know that you deserve someone who treats you with kindness and caring, someone who means it when they say I love you, someone who doesn’t cherishes you and makes you feel like you are the only girl in the room. And know that, just like Calvin says, normal people do not destroy other human beings.

So what does Madonna have in common with Calvin and Hobbs? Now you know.

After Your Dreams Come True

We work hard, all of our lives to reach our goals. We set them, we have dreams, we do what we can to make them come true. And certainly that is the case with me. I have worked, so hard, sacrificed, fought tooth and nail, set goals, burned both candles at the end, struggled and tired, failed and succeeded. And here I am, standing at the red rimmed edge of my dreams. They are right here, right before, right within reach, I can see them, feel them, smell them.  I have accomplished my dreams.

But now, as I look around, I wonder…now what? What do you do when you accomplish what you set out to do? What do you do when you have attained your dreams? It is truly magnificent, and I am happy. Life is wonderful and good, and I have to pinch myself evetry day to make sure I am not dreaming. I have accomplished it. Finally!

Now what?

Well, for certain I shall enjoy all the fruits of my labor, years long. And there is still work to be done, but the hard stuff is over. all that is left is to enjoy all the seeds I have sewn. But yet I cannot help but wonder what shall I do next?

OFr some of us, we never stop learning, never stop reaching, never stop growing and discovering. I want to always be doing something, always have a goal. So next is to set new goals, new heights which to soar. I am my family to keep settled, as right now they need me. And I will be there for them. Nothing bad will come to them, not on my watch. But beyond that, what do I want?

That is one of the keys in life – define what you want and go after it. And asI look around I have all that I want except one thing: Love. That four letter word that has illuded me all these years. That is what I want.  And I have so much of it already, in my family, in my friends, in everyone around me. But I want that best love, that last love of my life. I want someone with which to share this wonderful life I have been blessed enough to have. Someone who will be my best friend and confedant, and I theirs.

I want someone who needs me, and someone who will be OK with me needing them. It is a unuversal need, to be needed. To know that what we have to offer is beneficial to those we love.

And so it is, that I start my wonderful, magical journey to find that love. I am seeing a wonderufl man already…will he be it? I dom’t know, but I sure intend to find out. Wish me luck!

I Think I’ve Got This

Funny how life throws you curve balls. And just when you think you can’t do it, you can and you do. Just when you are not sure you can, you reach deep down within, and pull thge strength up to come through.

So my sister and nephew are moving in for a while. My sister is already settled, so to speak, by nephew won’t move in for a couple of weeks. Mom and Dad were up all loast week for Dad’s chemo treatment. He went in Wednesday and this one was really rough on him. The doctors are optimistic, but the chemo gets worse on him with each dose. So it’s tough to see him in pain and in such bad shape.

But I have managed to take care of everyone, all four of them, and make sure they have everything that they need. Mom has her own space, smoking area, bathroom and comfort things. Dad has his own room, both up and downstairs, and his own diet food and he feels wewll cared for. My sister has her own space and comfort things, food and such, Allan has everythig he needs for school, My sister has a new waredrobe, hairstyle and resume, along with interview suits.

And still there have been good food for good meals, wine, warm blankets, hot tea, cool water and plenty of space. There has been worry, laughter, hugs, memories, thoughts and time together.

So far I have been able to provide everything they have needed and wanted, right down for new books for Mom to read. Oh, there have been freak out moments, such as this past Monday. I can I do this? Can I do this? Will I be good at it? The answer is yes. Because this is family and failure is not an option. 

So I can do this, be the head of the household and take care of everyone. I was nervous because I knew I would always be the one my family leaned on, but I always thought there would be someone with me, that I would not have to do it alone. But here I am. I can can do this. And still work, and still have a social life and friends. And still be me.