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.


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.