Welcome to my blog. Thanks for coming! One day I hope my little piece of internet real estate will be home to lots of family photos, pictures of my scrapbook and card art, with some random thoughts and memories posted on a somewhat regular basis. Mostly my world is very predictable, but occasionally some excitement will find me, so visit often. Who knows what useful (or useless) information you may find here.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Kissing Frogs

“You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your handsome prince.”  I’ve always loved that little quote.  Several years ago in the gift shop at the hospital they had some cute little pewter frogs with tiny little crowns on them, and a little card that said “Someday my prince will come.” I bought one of the little froggies, and he has kept me company for quite some time now.  I never actually believed it, and I never even particularly wanted a handsome prince.  I’ve had a husband or two, one that for a while was my handsome prince, and one that would qualify as … well, we won’t go there.  I’ve kissed my fair share of frogs over the years, and finally gave up when all I got for my effort was warts.

We live in a fast-paced world, where our days melt together into weeks and months, and when we blink our eyes, a year has gone by.  I find this to be ever truer the older I get.  Life experiences teach us, mold us, and shape us into who we are today.   As a more mature (I refuse to say middle-aged) adult, caution has been the order of my life for many years now, and I simply just gave up kissing frogs.  A recent post tells the story of how I reconnected with a “crush” from the past, and how famously we’ve been getting along.  Let me assure you, though, that there was no frog kissing involved in this relationship.  Oh no.  He came to me already in Prince mode, and every day has confirmed his status as such. 

There’s another little cynical saying that always gave me a chuckle:  “Someday my ship will come in.  And I’ll probably be stuck at the airport.” Today I’m very delighted to report that not only has my ship come in, but I was waiting at the dock, right on time.  On board the ship was not an ugly frog, but my handsome prince, who has completely stolen my heart, yet guards it as his own. 

I will never again have to kiss another frog.  My prince has come.  And we shall be married in June.
This amazing man went to my parents yesterday, and formally asked for their blessing.  He spent over an hour in their home, talking about our relationship, about his plans for our future, and how important it is to both of us for them to be on board with our decision to marry.  Wow.  Is that a fairy tale prince, or what?  My parents are delighted that such a fine man has come along to be a part of my life.  I can imagine that they are even somewhat relieved to know that when they are gone, they will be leaving me in such loving, capable hands.  
Is it soon to be engaged?  Some will think so.  We do not.  I’ve always heard “when it’s right, you know it”.  And I know it. We know it. Life is short.  We are getting older.  We are never promised our next tomorrow.  During the next few months (177 days, but who’s counting????), we will address the logistics of where to live, etc., spend quality together-time with both families, and set about the task of blending our two families.  My closest friends who have watched this unfold are so excited!  There are quite a few people who have known both Steve and I our entire lives, and these friends are especially excited to see that we have found happiness together.   A dear friend that we visited last Saturday night shared her grief of losing her husband of many years, and her young-adult daughter within the past couple of years.  She encouraged us to not waste a moment, and never take tomorrow for granted.  When we left her home, we looked at each other and pretty much at the same time said “we can’t wait”.  We talked long into the night, and finally I handed him the calendar and told him to pick a date.  Inside the little square for June 17th, he took a pen and drew a little Valentine heart, complete with an arrow sticking through it, with SH + CB written inside, like we used to do in grade school.  So June 17th it is.   And it can’t  get here soon enough for  me.   

Monday, December 20, 2010

Joseph: How Much Did He Know?

For (hopefully) most of us, Christmas is all about Baby Jesus in the manger. For others, Christmas is simply a time of parties, the madness of retail frenzy, and maybe a warm feeling in the heart.  Not so much about Jesus, yet a happy time of peace and goodwill to men.  For some, Christmas is just a sad time of year to be endured.

Since becoming a mother myself, each year when Christmas rolls around and we focus on the manger, the angels, shepherds and wise men, I have had a much different attitude toward the parents.  Mary and Joseph.  They have become more real to me than before the birth of my own child.  

I've been tossing this particular post around in my head for several weeks.  Time restraints have kept me from completing the task.  As well as not wishing to start any "religious" debates.  I know there are those who read my blog who are polar opposites of me regarding matters of faith.  I don't consider myself a "religious" person.  I'm just a girl who chooses to believe that God matters, and that Jesus is The Way.  Pretty basic.  I detest all the legalism of organized religion and denominations that take our eyes off of what really matters.  It's a huge turnoff to me, and I'm quite sure it is a turnoff to nonbelievers... perhaps one of the reasons for their non-belief.  Whether or not you fall into the category of (my definition of ) Believer, just ride along with me and take what you need/want from the post, and simply leave the rest. These are my thoughts. You probably have your own.

My pastor spoke on a similar subject yesterday, with the focus on Mary.  I'm resting in bed this morning fighting some germs, so I decided to share what I've been pondering. 

The personalization of Mary and Joseph seems to become stronger for me with every passing year.  There's a song called Mary Did You Know that has become popular over the past several years.  Another favorite song about Mary is Amy Grant's version of Breath Of Heaven.  Last night on Facebook someone posted a little video depicting the Social Networking version of the birth.  I thought it was fabulous! Check it out here.  

Mary and Joseph were real people.  Young people. And they were real parents. Do you remember how you felt when you first held your own child?  There is no greater joy in the world. Chances are, though, that your red-faced, squirming, screaming little bundle of joy was wrapped in a clean blanket, after a sterile birth in a warm bed with a host of medically-trained personnel orchestrating the event.  Dad may or may not have been present in the room at the time of the birth, but if he was, his only hands-on involvement might have been cutting the umbilical cord.  The responsibility of the birthing process didn't rest on his shoulders, because the nurses and doctors were there to facilitate a safe birth. Whitney's dad wasn't in the OR when she was delivered by C-section, but I have the most precious picture of him taken immediately after he saw her in the nursery for the first time.  He is hugging his mom, and crying like a baby himself.  I always loved that picture, and it brings me to tears myself whenever I see it.  No doubt about it.  The birth of a child rocks our world, and we discover within us a love that we never imagined existed. 

Mary and Joseph were real people.  I can't imagine how frightened they were.  We women complain about the discomforts of pregnancy.  Can we imagine traveling for miles and miles on the back of a donkey with a baby lying low in the womb?  We have our birth plans all mapped out, and we pre-register at the hospital a month or so in advance.  All we have to do is walk in the door, and our labor and delivery is managed by those trained to assist us.  There was no warm hospital bed for Mary.  I can imagine a frantic Joseph desperately searching for a place to stay as Mary leaned against the smelly donkey, holding her stomach as the pains of birth were upon her.  There were no brightly-lit rooms or warm blankets. There was a dusty barn, likely filled with the smell of animal poop rather than antiseptic soap.  There were no beeps of medical contraptions to surround her, rather the soft breathing of the animals, perhaps the lowing of cattle in the distance, the whinny of horses or bleating of sheep as the background music for the birth of her child.  Young Joseph wearing his dirty travel clothes was her attendant, not a host of nurses clad in clean scrubs.  Joseph, who had no Prepared Childbirth classes, attended Mary as she labored, and at the final moment, received into his hands the Glory of God, as Jesus entered into the world in the form of a flesh-and-blood human.  

I wonder what Mary and Joseph were thinking as they cleaned Him up, and wrapped him in tattered blankets?  Because of the visits from the angels, the immaculate conception, they knew that something Pretty Big was going down.  But.  Did they know?  Did they know What, and Who they were holding? I like to think that God bathed them with grace to protect them from what was coming down the road.  I can't imagine what it would have been like for them to know from the get-go the path that He would take, and what He would ultimately submit himself to.  

There are few things sweeter to me than pictures of a dad holding his baby.  I love a daddy who loves his children, and isn't afraid to show it.  Do we think that Joseph is any different from other dads? Somehow it seems like we just don't think much about Joseph at all.  He was an exceptional young man, called upon by God to do a crazy thing:  Marry his pregnant girlfriend, with whom he knew HE had never been intimate.  Obedient to the voice of God, he was a faithful servant, and did as he was told.  There were no lights or cameras in the stable, but I imagine that Joseph was as overcome with emotion as any other dad upon witnessing the birth of his child, or upon seeing the baby for the first time behind the glass walls of a nursery.  

As Mary slept afterward, can't you just see Joseph gazing into the face of his child, the way all new parents do, wondering at the miracle of birth.  ESPECIALLY THIS BIRTH!!

Last Christmas season, as I was driving down the road, I caught the tail-end of a song on 104.7 The Fish.  I didn't quite catch it all, but it was a song about Joseph wanting the Baby Jesus, just for one night to "just be my child".  As soon as I was able, I Googled and found the song.  It is called Joseph's Lullaby (listen to it here).  Oh my.  This is one of the most moving songs I have heard to date, and it further makes Joseph a real person to me.  

The Words

Go to sleep my son, this manger for your bed.
You have a long road before you, rest your little head.
Can you feel the weight of your glory? 
Do you understand the price?
Does the Father guard your heart for now,
So you can sleep tonight.
Go to sleep my son.  Go and chase your dreams.
This world can wait for one more moment 
Go and seep in peace.
I believe the Glory of Heaven is lying in my arms tonight.
Lord I ask that he, for just this moment, simply be my child.
Go to sleep my son.  Baby close your eyes.
Soon enough you'll save the day.
But for now, dear child of mine.
Oh, my Jesus, sleep tight.  
Wow.  If that doesn't give you a new view of Joseph, I'm not sure anything can. Jesus was IS real.  Mary was real.  And Joseph was real.  

I hope this year it all feels very real for you.

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Inquiring Minds Want To Know...

~~Seems like a recent Facebook post has caused quite a stir among my friends, and it looks like I have some 'splainin to do.  Yes, it is true. I have changed my Facebook status from "single" to "in a relationship".  I have done gone and got myself a boyfriend.  
~~Those of you who know me will understand what a big thing this is.  Seems like former relationships ended with such disastrous results, that I found it best to fly solo and just concentrate on my little family and devote myself to my grandbabies.  Nothing wrong with that, it has been a very fulfilling existence.  I pretty much gave up all hope of ever trusting my instincts, since my judgement of character seemed to be very seriously lacking.  Perhaps I was one of those with a capitol L branded across my forehead, or the proverbial "kick me" sign taped to my back where relationships were concerned.  I found solace, comfort, acceptance, and satisfaction within my small circle of close friends and my precious family.
~~Occasionally, though, I wonder about the future.  One of these days my daughter and her family won't need me, and will move on to their own place.  The grandkids will prefer hanging out with their friends over spending time with Greemaw.  One day I won't have the luxury of spending time with my parents, or my aging aunts and uncles.  One day my house will be empty and quiet.  WIl I regret not pursuing (or allowing myself to be pursued for) a relationship?  Will I spend my golden years wrapped in a cloak of loneliness and regret?  Even so, the risks involved in tearing down walls and opening my heart seemed greater than I was willing to accept.  I will worry about those pesky little feelings when the time comes, but for now, I'll just stay in my safe little haven where my close friends and family know and love me, and protect me with a fierceness that always amazes me.
~~Then ,wouldn't you know it, along comes a person who blows all of that out of the water, and I find myself taking a step back, and weighing the risks of allowing myself to be come close to another person.  A Man Person.  Wow.
~~Now, I'm 52 years old, and have a little bit of experience with the male species, not all of which was bad, but certainly enough to keep me grounded.  My mom says "I don't want you to be hurt."  To which I respond "Mom, I don't want to be hurt either.  There are no guarantees. Maybe I will be, maybe I won't be.  There are always risks with matters of the heart.  But right now, I'm enjoying the feeling."  And it's true.
~~The cool thing, is how this all came about.  My brother's band was playing a gig at Wild Bill's in Norcross.  A friend of his, a sweet German girl named Dietke, came to the show to take some photos.  Of course, the devoted big-sister-Departure-fan wanted to see the photos.  In order to view her album, I had to befriend her on FB.  We shared some correspondence, and she read my blog entries about my struggles with weight loss surgery, etc.  One day she said she wanted to hook me up with a delightful gal who had lost a tremendous amount of weight. Melissa and I became friends, shared a little personal information and weight-loss encouragement.  During one note, she made mention of the fact that she was considering moving back to Statham.  What?  Statham?  Who is this girl, and who does she know?  Statham is just a little tiny town, and how odd that two degrees from my baby brother, via a girl from Germany, is someone who used to live here?  After a little interrogation, I discovered that not only did she used to live here in my little town, but some of her relatives are still here.  And one name she happened to mention was her uncle, Steve.  [Insert side note:  Her Uncle Steve was a guy on whom Bobbie Jean, Debbie Jo, and I used to carry a huge crush.  He hung out with BJs uncle, which meant we had easy access to him, and we would follow them about like puppy dogs or annoying kid sisters, gaze at him longingly, and blush and giggle if ever he looked our way. Oh yes, I remembered Uncle Steve!]   We talked a little bit about him, then moved on to other subjects.  I was intrigued, though, and excited about the possibility of reconnecting.  Then a few days later, as luck would have it, he posted something on her wall …
~~I couldn’t believe it!  There he was!  There was his name, and his photo!  A face from my past.   Memories of how I adored him came flooding back like a fresh breeze on my face.  Dare I send him a friend request?  Of course I would.  My fingers were already working the keyboard before I could even give it consideration.  My message was something along the lines of “You probably don’t remember me, but…”  Then the waiting began.   It wasn’t long before he accepted my request with these words: (copied from the actual FB message... i'm such a nostalgic nerd...)

Cathy , how could i ever forget you , i,m so glad to hear from you, loved looking at your pic. those were the days . Please stay in touch 

And the rest, as they say, is history.   Thanks to those of you who are offering support and encouragement.  It means a lot to me that my friends are excited for me, and care about my happiness.  Keep me in your prayers:  even though my head (and my heart) are in the clouds right now, that my feet will remain firmly planted on the ground.   

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thankful To Serve

Home ownership comes with a price. Obviously there's the fiscal aspect, but another necessary evil is that pesky maintenance thing, both the big jobs and the everyday things like tidying up around the place, cleaning the floors and toilets, and despised dusting (a little-utilized chore at The 409).  Yes, it can be quite expensive, both financially and physically, to maintain a home.

But those of us with a roof over our heads are so blessed.  There are so many who do not.  During my time of volunteering with the Homeless Shelter, I saw many sad little children's faces, and the look of desperation on the faces of their parents.  There is much talk and judgment cast upon homeless people, and I, too, have an opinion on the matter, but the bottom line is, it is a terrible way to live.

We've probably all watched the show Extreme Makeover Home Addition. It's one of my favorite shows, but due to my work schedule, I rarely see it any more.  Most of the time, I think they go way over the top with these homes, with an emphasis on extravagance.  Sure, it's great to give so much to the deserving families, but I wonder if they ramped it down a little bit if they could help out another family or two along the way.  Of course it's just a tv show, and they are just as interested in ratings as they are helping families, so the more, the bigger, the better I suppose.  I like watching the demolition of the homes.  The big wrecking ball, the tractors, the high school football team.... usually some theme-related demolition, based on the individual family.

Yesterday I kept looking over my shoulder, waiting for Ty, Paulie, Paige and Michael to come driving up with their hardhats and microphones.  I even had a spot on my shirt picked out for them to pin a mic on me, and was pleased that I was having a good hair day for the camera.  But alas... No Extreme Home Makeover crew showed up at our work site.  Soon I was hot and sweaty, my good hair day ruined by drywall dust, and the fresh, perky, morning energy was soon expended.  Eyes assaulted by flying debris, and nose only moderately protected (with a little mask) from musty odors and black mold spores.  The demolition had begun in earnest.

St. Mary's partners with the Athens Habitat for Humanity, and earlier this year gave employees the opportunity to volunteer with a project over on the east side of town.  With the summers so stifling hot, I decided to choose a date in late fall in order to avoid working in the heat.  Yesterday was an absolutely perfect autumn day, with a brilliant blue sky and dappled spots of sunlight peeking through the trees.  Sandra, MaryAnn, Steve and I worked with several other St. Mary's folks doing demolition inside the apartments.  No wrecking balls, tractors, or high school football teams to help.  Just a rag-tag band of (mostly) middle-aged folks with hammers and crowbars.  It was FABULOUS!   My line of work doesn't lend the opportunity for physical labor, and I'm really not that into hard labor jobs around the house either.  To say it felt good to pound away some frustrations with that hammer would be an understatement.  Flailing the crap out of the wall, a few Kung Fu kicks to smash holes in the wall, yanking and pulling down those hunks of sheetrock... yes it was quite therapeutic.

The Habitat folks are doing a really nice job with these apartments.  The lady explained to me how it would all work out in the end, i.e. the process of families getting into the homes, the criteria used to determine eligibility, and a few other details, but the drywall dust was too thick in my head for the information to stick, and I honestly don't remember what she said.  It all sounded really good, though.  There is one unit on site that is move-in ready, and it was amazing to go inside and get a visual of how the other empty apartments would look once the project is complete.  (I my ownself was especially grateful for this "model" apartment, because there was a working potty inside!!)

I'm trying to recall how many units there are.  I think there are 16 total units.  This means that upon completion, 16 families will enjoy living in nice homes, at a fraction of the cost.  I'm not going to get into the politics of what is right, and what is fair.  I will only hope that the 16 families who benefit from this program are truly deserving, and that having this opportunity will give them the help they need to be productive members of society.  And perhaps someday they, too, will be given the opportunity to pay it forward, and lend a hand to someone else, in return for the blessings they have received.

If you are ever given the opportunity to work with HFH, I urge you to take it.  You will make a difference in the lives of people you will probably never meet.  My body aches this morning, from my toes to the top of my head.  I hurt in places I forgot existed.  Yet with every step, every movement, every twinge of pain, I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have a home.

Yes, 16 families will ultimately reap the benefits of the long, hard hours of labor from many people who have volunteered their time and talents over a period of months.  The blessings won't stop there, though, because the hearts of the volunteers have been touched as well, and we all walk away with a sense of gratitude for our own blessings, and the opportunity to effect a change by blessing someone else.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Just Breathe

Sometimes you just have to breathe.  When the journey takes such a jagged detour, and you lose your way, you just have to breathe.  Breathe through the smothering feeling that screams you can't make it.  When you sit by the bed waiting for death to take someone you love, and you want to hang on for as long as possible, you just have to breathe.  When your heart is breaking in church every Sunday because someone is missing, you have to just breathe.  Breathe through the tears.  When panic overtakes you because things are changing, and the fear of the unknown is before you... just breathe.  Just breathe. When bad news finds you and your life will never be the same... just breathe.  When someone will be missing this year around the holiday table... just breathe.  When you are afraid to grab the brass ring because you think you don't deserve to be happy... just breathe.
How is it that sometimes we forget to breathe?  Our autonomic nervous system controls our breathing, and though we can change the rhythm or pattern of breathing, we don't have to consciously make ourselves do it.  The breathing referenced here isn't necessarily the physical act of inhaling and exhaling, though sometimes it definitely can be, rather it is a figurative reference. 

There's this song I love.  It's called...  Breathe (2am).  It reminds me of the friendship DJ and I have.  The specific situations in the song are nonapplicable, but the concept is Just So Us.  One girl calls her BFF at 2:00 a.m. and says "help me fix this mess I'm in".  We don't normally call each other at 2:00 a.m., but we doggone would if we needed to.  Sometimes it's "help me fix this mess", and sometimes it is "my heart hurts", and sometimes it is "I can't take it any more".  We remind each other that This Too, Shall Pass. It's not always just bad stuff, though.  Sometimes life brings such joyous surprises that take our breath away... that we remind each other to slow down, and breathe.  We remind each other that we are not undeserving of the good things that we are blessed with, and our past mistakes are just that.. in the past.  We ponder the things we don't understand, we try to solve the problems of the world and hope to make life better for the ones we love.  And at times, we remind each other to Just Breathe.  Whether we're angry, sad, happy, afraid, confused... there is nothing we can't talk about.  Sometimes we can offer a practical solution and sound advice.  Sometimes there are no words to say.  Sometimes we can fix each others' problems, but sometimes there is no solution.  So, we just offer a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, and a heart to understand.  And a reminder to breathe.

I posted a quote recently on my Facebook page that says "The best way out is through."  I love this.  Sometimes the "through" really sucks, but the "out" is always worth it.  DJ and I have been friends since we were little girls.  After we both married in 1980, we drifted apart for 12 years or so.  We found each other again when I was going through my divorce, and all the hell that was my life at that time.  When everything fell apart, it was almost like I needed someone to tell me to physically breathe.  I couldn't do it on my own.  During the week I functioned in a robotic-like state, doing what needed to be done.  On the weekend, when Whitney would be with her dad, she would come to my apartment, help me pack my things, and take me to her house for the weekend. I was not good on my own.  Sometimes she had to breathe for me.  Slowly she taught me to breathe on my own again, and ever since, we have been reminding each other whenever the need arises.  She was there for my "throughs", and has helped me to the "outs" more times than I can say.  And through the times of horrific grief she has endured, I have reminded her to breathe, and at times breathed for her when she just didn't have the strength to do it on her own.  We've been "through" a lifetime of joys and sorrows together.  And we always come "out" stronger, for having helped each other "through" it. 

Listen to the song here
You can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button, girl.
So cradle your head in your hands
And breathe... Just Breathe.

(We can't change the past, and it doesn't have to dictate our future.)

There's a light at each end of this tunnel
You shout cause you're just as far in as you'll ever be out
And these mistakes you've made, you'll just make them again
If you only try turning around

(The best way out is through.)

For some reason, today I am overwhelmed and overflowing with gratitude for this girl, this woman who helps keeps me grounded, and who reminds me to Just Breathe.  I love you DJ!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Election

Don't faint.  I'm not going to have endless blog posts about it.  I have to admit I lost a little of my vigor after the primary, and have fallen down on research, keeping up with the polls, etc.  I think I'm just weary of it.  And that saddens me.  If we don't keep The Sleeping Giant awake, we'll fall back into the commonplace "whatever" attitude, and let other people do our talking for us.  So, I promise to do better.  Shoot, I didn't even watch the election returns last night, when normally I would have been glued to the tv, flipping between FNN and ABC.  (I love to see their differences of opinion and how they report it! ha!)

So now that we're in for two years of a Republican-controlled House, I wonder what is in store for us.  Maybe I'll get bitten by the bug again and keep better tabs on what's going on.  In the meantime, and until I know more about the subject, I'll just keep my political thoughts out of the blog.

But I still think Elmo would have been a better governor instead of the Raw Deal we ended up with.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Elmo For Governor

I voted.  So why don't I feel good about it?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thirty Things

November.  The month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving.  A time to talk about Pilgrims and Indians and The Mayflower.  Let me just say, before going any further... since doing research for my book, I have come to a much greater understanding and appreciation for those Pilgrims.  And believe me, our celebrations pale in comparison to theirs.  Oh yes, we enjoy tables heavily laden with food, and the modern conveniences with which to prepare it.  Then there's the nice soft sofa, and the flat screen TV for the big game.  Most homes offer a prayer of sorts, just because ... well, it's Thanksgiving, you really should say The Blessing before feasting, right?  Some homes will have a "religious" person who will offer up a beautifully-worded soliloquy that creates warm and fuzzy feelings in the hearts of those gathered.  Other families will pause for a moment and everyone who is willing will say a word or two about something in particular for which they are thankful.

When I think of that first Thanksgiving, I envision a cold, windy day with snow flurries dancing in the wind.  I see the pale-skinned men, women and children gathered around a fire, welcoming their red-skinned neighbors for a harvest celebration that would last several days.  I see the sad, drawn faces of those who have survived the previous year, and who are grieving for those who did not.  Husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, and children who mourn the loss of their loved ones who succumbed to the hardships they encountered.  The journey that was hailed with such glory had turned so tragic.  The New World.  Such a harsh beginning. I hear them thanking God for the four things for which they were most grateful:  Life, Food, Shelter, and their new friends who had taught them how to grow the food they needed to sustain them.  Their Saviors, if you will.  No such silly thanks for the frivolous things we approach with such a sense of entitlement, but a raw sense of gratitude so deep within their souls that I imagine it was palpable. 

To me it is quite humbling to think that the ones after whom we pattern our Thanksgiving celebrations were so very grateful for the basic things that are commonplace for most of us.  

After my divorce in 1992, I felt the need to do something that mattered.  Absolution, perhaps.  I volunteered to work at the Homeless Shelter in Athens, where I quickly realized that no matter how miserable my life was at the time, it was a far cry from the reality of the people I served there.  Thanksgiving and Christmas at the shelter brought with it both blessings and heartaches, and it was an experience I'll not ever forget.  Seeing the grateful look in the eyes of a mom who can, at least for this night, feed her children, or a street person thankful for a warm bed and a hot cup of coffee, caused me to be more mindful about keeping a thankful heart every day, and not just in November. 

All that being said, however, I thought I'd make a little list here about some of the things that make me happy, and for which I'm thankful.  Some things on the list are serious things, while others are of a more casual or fun nature. 
I know I won't get back to post one-a-day for the month of November, so I'm doing it all at once. 

Of course, it goes without saying, that I am most grateful for 
~My Family (all inclusive)
~My Friends
~My Home

Those are the easy ones.  

Here's a list of 30 things.  One for each day of the month.  What about you?  Anything you would add to the list?  

1. The Pilgrims who started it all
2. Healthy parents
3. Freedom
4. My anchor.  My best friend.  DJ. 
5. A job I enjoy.
6. New Beginnings!!
7. Phillipians 4:19
8. Scrapbooking!!
9. Sweet memories of family members no longer with us 
10. Diet Coke
11. Forgiveness
12. My in-laws
13. Comfy PJs and warm fuzzy socks
14. Unlimited opportunity
15. The American Soldier 
16. The ocean
17. School teachers, firemen and policemen
18. Losing a few pounds this past year
19. The Internet
20. My church family
21. Facebook, and reuniting with old friends
22. An excellent pediatrician for the grandbabies
23. Blessed Assurance
24. Clean sheets
25. The Fly Lady book
26. Being passionate about the things and the people I love
27. Music!
28. The crazy, fun, precious relationship with my daughter
29. Chocolate
30. Second chances
While we should count our blessings every day, let's try extra hard to think of something every day this month, serious or silly, instead of only on Thanksgiving Day.  Happy November, ya'll!!  Be Thankful every day!

Frost On The Pumpkins

Without a doubt, my favorite time of the year!  The crisp nights and chilly mornings are my idea of what Georgia winters should be like.  Those northern-type people can keep their subfreezing temperatures, frosty winds and blizzards.  Except for a snow day here and there, I'd be delighted if it never got any colder than what we are experiencing now.  Guess you can't have it all, though.

Saturday night was a big night for our little town!  The streets were packed with ghosts and goblins, both large and small, from well before sunset until long after dark.  The Bartons had their house decked out for the night, much to the delight of their friends and neighbors.  I visited a new (for me) haunt this year.  Across the street from the Bartons, Jason and friends staged a great "spookhouse", and decorated their home in all manner of frightfulness... complete with a man hanging from a gallows, a graveyard with a fog machine, spooky creatures of the night, and a giant ghost-like creature to welcome you into their yard. 

Our church hosted the annual Trunk or Treat/Hot Dog Supper, and we probably had close to a thousand trick-or-treaters come by to see us.  It is our largest community project of the year, and such fun to see the little ones come around.  I love it that a good many of our senior adults also get involved in the project, and we all work together to get the job done.  It's always a very tiring evening, and there are moments when things are happening so fast it's hard to catch your breath.  By the time we're finished with the cleanup, everyone is tired, but always happy to have hosted another successful event. 

As I left the church around 8:30 pm, I decided to ride down Broad Street and check out the activity.  It was still a parking lot, with people everywhere.  So many memories came flooding back to the days when I was a kid and we would go up and down Broad Street, knocking on the doors of our neighbors.  The smell of burning leaves in the air, and the excited squeals of children having fun.  Back then, the only decorations we'd see were jack-o-lanterns glowing in the night. Those were the days!! 

Now it's time to shift gears, and start preparing for the holiday season.  It is with mixed feelings that I approach this time of year, for reasons regular readers will know and understand.  As our attention turns toward the time of thankful hearts, (even though we should be thankful every day), it is my hope that we will slow down enough to embrace the season, even the parts that are painful, and wind down the year with peace in our hearts.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the weekend. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Out Of The Closet

On my to-do list for this weekend was the dreaded chore of cleaning out my closet.  I'm not one of the fortunate women with a closet big enough to hold my entire wardrobe (small that it is), so each summer and winter finds me sorting through clothes, and exchanging out warm items for cooler items.  This year, however, there were no bags and boxes of clothing in my attic to unpack for fall/winter.  When I packed up the winter duds at the beginning of summer, I took the boxes straight down to the local Goodwill store, and got rid of them forever.  Fat clothes. How come that is such a difficult thing to do?  For years and years, I have held on to favorite items, resolving to "one day wear this again".  Buried underneath five years of cramming stuff in my attic, I know there are boxes of tiny little jeans that have probably dry rotted by now.  Because it has been many, many years since anything about me was tiny.  At the beginning of this summer, I was a newly banded patient, full of hope and optimism about getting the weight off, and finally truly believed that it would happen.  My band gave me the confidence I needed to be brave and... get rid of those  clothes.  The summer clothing that I replaced them with were also of the larger size, and throughout the summer they became looser and looser on my shrinking body, until I finally had to break down and buy a few things to get me through.    What a shock to realize, now that it's time to once again drag out the winter clothes, that I have NOTHING TO WEAR!!!   I work from home, in my jammies) so business casual clothing isn't an issue for me.  Well, except for the rare time when I must go into the office, then I must adhere to a fairly rigid dress code, but thankfully that's not very often.  

I'm afraid I didn't get to check off every item on my to-do list for the weekend.  But I did get my closet cleaned out.  And now I have even more boxes for Goodwill.  My closet is looking very bare these days.  But even without my band in place, I still have the resolve that I won't be needing those clothes any more.  Yes, indeed.  It is time they come Out Of The Closet!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Wow. What a fabulous week!  Autumn is my very favorite time of year to visit the beach, but each year usually finds me dodging hurricanes.  Fortunately, the tropics were calm this year, and there were no threats.  The weather was absolutely perfect.  Lazy was the word-of-the-week.  Mornings were spent sleeping in, watching morning tv, and drinking coffee with the parental units.  Afternoons were spent on the beach reading, napping and long, long walks along the shore.  Evenings were spent reading, watching tv, and working on my "homestead" on Facebook.  Another candle was added to my birthday cake while I was gone.  The big Five Two.  On the downside of half a century.  I don't feel old at all.  Well, not too terribly old anyhow. Debbie Jo and David were camping about ten miles south of us, and I spent the night with them on my birthday.  DJ and I did what we do best.... sit outside and talk until bedtime, and the next morning we enjoyed a few hours on the beach.  After that, they treated me to a birthday lunch at one of our favorite places, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville.  Can I just say... YummmMEEE!!  It was a perfect vacation, and I enjoyed spending time with Mom and Dad.  Sweet times indeed.  I did miss my precious grandbabies, though.  Whitney kept me updated with Leyland's cute little antics, and I talked to her on the phone a time or two.  I was so anxious to see them, and couldn't wait for some sweet munchkin hugs and kisses.  The little rascals.... when they got home they were all tuckered out from a big day at the Oconee Festival, and didn't pay much attention to Greemaw.  This morning was a different story.  Leyland was all about Greemaw! She crawled into bed with me for some special snuggle time.  She put her little arms around me and said "I love my Greemaw soooooo much."  Okay, I could just go on to Greemaw heaven now.  Nothing sweeter in the world. 

I'm thankful indeed for such a great week, spending special time with my parents and the best friends ever.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Go West, Young Man!

Well, okay.  So that quote belongs more in the pages of my book than on my blog.  Exactly the opposite true.  I should say... "Go East, Old Woman!"  Tis true. In just over 24 hours (but who's counting?), I'll be crawling in the back seat of my dad's car, and headed for the coast.  You have no idea how happy this makes me.  The past few months have been busier than usual, and I am soooooooo ready for a lazy week of doing nothing.  Nothing, I tell you.  I can dig in the sand with my toes... or not.  I can drink coffee and watch morning TV until the morning is gone.  I can sit on the beach until the sun sinks behind the high-rise condos... or I can sit there until dark.  Even if I have to wrap up in a blanket.  Can you tell I'm excited?

I'm also harboring probably the most selfish thought I've ever had in my life.  I'm seriously hoping that everyone left behind at home can stay well, out of the hospital, disaster-free, and that the only phone calls we'll be getting are the sweet voices of the grandchildren calling to say hi.  Last year the vacation was cut short because Corey was admitted to the hospital with swine flu... poor little pumpkin.  The kids have both been sick, and I have an aunt and an uncle with some health issues.  So... okay, everybody... take your vitamins and eat your Wheaties.  Stay well.  Stay safe.  Stay happy.  (Didn't I tell you that was the most selfish thing ever???  I mean, I truly want them to be safe, healthy, and happy.... ALL the time... but I especially wish it for the time that we are gone.)

DJ and David will be about 10 miles down the beach, so I'm looking forward to spending some beach time with them.  I'm not big on doing the touristy stuff, and would rather stay home and eat a banana sandwich than fight the crowds, or leave the beach early to get ready for dinner.  One place I do like to go is to Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville out at Broadway.  DJ and I are looking forward to taking David out there.  For my mom and dad's 50th anniversary a few years ago, they gave them a *voucher* for a David Steak (THE absolute best steak ever in the history of the universe)  ... and for the past few years everything has just been so crazy that we never had the cookout.  David says he is going to cook the steaks next week.  How much better can it get than that?  A David steak... at the beach!!!  Oh yeah.  Seriously looking forward to that.

But before I can hit the road, I must get busy.  Four days' worth of stuff to be done in 24 hours.  Looks like it will be an all-nighter at The 409.  I'll be more than ready for a 6-hour backseat nap!

Daddy, Daddy, are we there yet?

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Kid Brother

An angel from heaven came down one night
And made a big sister of me.
And though Mommy said it would happen some day,
It's not all that I thought it would be.
The baby smelt funny and cried all the time,
And Mommy, she always was tired
This baby was simply no fun at all!
If I was his boss he'd be fired!
But as he got older, he got kinda cute,
And one day he smiled up at me!
And when he was able to sit up and play,
It was then I was able to see,
That someday he might be a very good friend,
A brother I really could love,
And I could than God for sending to me
This wonderful gift from above.

Happy Birthday, Michael!  I love you!