Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

Is it just me or do you talk ugly to yourself, too? 

I was cleaning the kitchen yesterday and all of a sudden a thought popped into my mind.  It was a random regret I had from years and years ago that just started buzzing around my head and then hit me square in the face.  Came out of nowhere, too, like one of those big, red wasps that stings you before you know what's happening.  Pop-in visits from regret aren't an uncommon occurrence for me, though.  It would be nice if it would, at least, call first before dropping by.  I can't tell you how many times a regretted flashback will come into my head and I go to lecturing myself .  Usually, it goes like, "Ugh, I was so stupid.....why did I do that?" or something as equally encouraging and heartening.

Now, I'm not talking about big things.  Not like regretting the time I got high on drugs, robbed a convenience store at gunpoint, tied up an old man, stole his car, and led authorities on a high-speed chase until finally crashing into a group of nuns having a bake sale for their orphanage.  No, nothing like that.  I'm just talking about maybe something that I said to someone 20 years or more ago that I wish I could take back or 1,000 other incidents that I regret when I look back at them through the lens of age and maturity.  You ever do that?  Beat yourself up about little things that are over and done and too far behind us to do anything about?  Things that are forgotten by just about everyone but you. 

I was thinking about that.  The more years we live, the higher our regret pile can grow.  Not necessarily a pile of large, bulky items which would require the renting of one of those big, green dumpsters.  No, just a slow accumulation of little scraps of regret.  That person you should have visited.  The time you should've kept your mouth shut.  The time you should have spoken up for someone.  The time you were too slow to forgive.  The time you could have been a better friend.  When you did the minimum but could have done so much more.  All the time you wasted.  The opportunities you blew that will never come again.  The decisions that seemed right at the time but so obviously wrong now.  Through the years, those little fragments accumulate, one by one, and sometimes the wind catches them just right and and blows them right back in your face.

I wonder why our minds are eager to roll out the welcome mat for regret.  I wonder what makes us unable to move past former things that cause us remorse.  What about our nature makes us want to go back decades, in some cases, and lament?

Paul said, "I am still not all that I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.  I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven."  Phil 3:13-14

My goodness, if anyone had anything to look back on and lament, it was Paul.  Can you imagine the thoughts that might have run through his head while he was cleaning his kitchen?  "Oh my goodness, all that persecution.....I was such a jerk as Saul!  Oh, and the whole Stephen thing. Ugh!  Stupid, stupid, stupid" (repeatedly slapping forehead) Yeah, if anybody had reason to run back in time and roll around in the stench of regret, it would've been him but he lived in the day and with a concentrated effort toward becoming better.  His back was turned to his past and his face was pointed toward what God wanted him to do. 

When the remnants of regret start blowing up in our faces, we have to turn our backs to the wind and focus our energies on living this day, the one right here and now, and living it in such a way that is better than we did it yesterday and working toward it being even better tomorrow. 

God doesn't live in the past. 

Opportunity doesn't live there either. 

So, let's turn ourselves around. 

That's where we can make a difference.



Y'all have a good one!                        

     

    

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Log of My Whereabouts

Well, I'm back from all of my this and that. 

My trip to market in Atlanta was fruitful for the stores but, oh, so exhausting.  I must just be getting older or something because it laid me out flat for several days.  Market induces a level of tiredness which is unmatched by most anything else.....with the possible exceptions of childbirth and fighting forest fires.  It's just 11 or 12 non-stop hours per day of walking and shopping as fast as you can.  Making quick decisions on what you think will sell in your store and what won't.  It's just down right physically and mentally draining.

(As a note of interest, I have to mention that my Sanuk yoga slings were, by far, the most comfortable footwear selection I've made to date for any market trip.  Get yourself some.) 

There was this young lady who looked so familiar to me and she took my order in one of the showrooms.  Then, I remembered.......oh, yeah she used to be one of my dependents!  Now, working with her own money!  (Insert Handel's "Hallelujah")  Proud mama moment.      
My friend, Jean, and I shared a hotel room along with her daughter, Mary Barrett.  They're both a hoot and I enjoyed them so much.  Jean has an interior design business here in town and was shopping for clients.  And here's small town Mississippi for you- Jean and I have known each other since high school when we belonged to the same social service club.  Our daughters ended up rooming together in college.  Jean's mother-in-law is one of my very favorite people and customers.  And she and my mother knew each other when they were in college.  People are connected in all sorts of ways in the South.  If we don't know you, we know your mama or your cousin......or someone in your family likely has a connection to someone in ours someway, somehow.  It's just the southern way and I love that about us down here. 

Carson got home from his trip to Boston the day before I got home from Atlanta.  He was gone for 10 days.  On a church bus.  From Mississippi to Boston and back again.  Our music minister, David, plans an awesome trip for the teenagers every year on which his patience obviously abounds.  I told him that those who drive other people's children across the country are deserving of their own beatitude.  I don't know what they should inherit, but blessed are those who drive church vans full of urchins, who are of no blood relation, over large swaths of the continent......like as in 2,800 miles.  Blessed are they, indeed.   
So, while Carson was gone, Davis and I purchased his first vehicle. I don't know why we waited until he was out of town but it's just how it happened.  I did text Carson from the dealership for some limited input...."Car or truck?"  He steered us toward the trucks and we took it from there.  I'm sure nothing could have been more frightening for him than knowing that his vehicle coolness level was in the hands of us, Joni and Davis.  When he got home, though, he seemed overjoyed with our choice.
 
I've hardly driven myself anywhere because he's so anxious to chauffer whoever needs a ride and I must say that I've really gotten better with the whole passenger thing.  Probably because he takes after his dad and is a really good driver.  He gets his license next month and he's just a wee bit excited about driving himself to school this year.   
So, we all got home and then headed to the beach for a short stay.  It was there that, once and for all, I broke up with the beach.  Maybe it was these hormones I've been talking about but I just had to finally tell it that I didn't have the same feelings for it that I once did.  I told it that, sure, I loved it at dusk but, the rest of the day, I just wasn't feeling it.  It had gotten too clingy with its sand in every nook and cranny.  Its love burned hotter and hotter all the time and I just couldn't handle that kind of heated love affair at my age.  I'd changed.  We'd grown apart.  I had to shoot straight and say, "It's not you, it's me, beach." 

But, oh, how I'll always love you at dusk......and when the moon is full and shining on your waters.  And if it makes my people happy, I'll come and visit every now and then and we can remember all the good times we've had.       
So, that's where I've been since I posted last and, thankfully, there are no more trips on the calendar for a while.  Nothing big happening except for school starting on August 4, but we're not ready to discuss that yet. 

We're just not.


Y'all have a good Tuesday!

It's good to be back to business as usual.      

  


       

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Don't Tell Me You Like This Weather

Well, I can't hold my tongue another minute. 

We have to talk about this heat.

I think I've made my feelings about hot weather pretty plain. 

I loathe it. 

I detest it. 

I despise it. 

I abhor it. 

And if I could think of any other synonyms for hate, I'd keep going.

I've tried to be a big girl about it, though. 

And not whine or gripe or complain. 

But, today. 

Today was my breaking point. 

I ran errands all day.

98 degrees. 

108 heat index.

3,000% humidity.
   
In and out...in and out of the hot car.

Sunglass fogging up every time I opened the door.  

Then, I came home and did a couple of things outside. 

And that's when it happened. 

My heat threshold had been crossed.

I came back inside. 

Wet with sweat. 

And I was mad. 

I started stripping off clothes. 

And saying things under my breath as they flew across the room. 

I grabbed my desk fan and held it up to me.

Until I was sure my body temperature was back down to the 115 degree range. 

Hormones could have tipped the scales. 

I don't think hormones really pair well with extreme heat conditions.

Where the two collide can be an ugly place. 

A testy place. 

So, in conclusion, I want to give you my opinion...... 

Summer exists only to remind us that Hell is a real place.

And you don't want to go there. 

So, don't tell me you love summertime or I'll look at you like......
Because there's no way anyone can love this. 

No way. 


So, tomorrow, I'm hitting the road, headed to market for the weekend.  Blair is already there working in her company's showroom.  Carson is in Boston with the youth group from our church.  And Davis will be here sleeping on both sides of the bed.  We'll all be returning on different days and, after a weekend trip to the beach, next week, we'll be home to stay because....hello..... school is about to start!  While that does NOT make me happy, it does signal that we are one step closer to closing the book on this, my most dreaded season of the year. 

Y'all have a good weekend.  

And whatever you do, do it inside!.     










   


Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Public Service Announcement

It's summertime and, with everyone at the beach or pool, we could all use a reminder to take care of our skin.  As a public service announcement on sun safety for the young people, I thought I'd share an account of my recent dermatology appointment:

I'm in my late 40's and, like most people my age, I spent the first half of my life trying to achieve the perfect tan.  I know it's hard to believe and I really don't like to brag but there was a time when I could roast myself to the most beautiful shade of brown.  I'd say the hue could fall anywhere between Cinnamon Toast Crunch brown and Werther's Caramel brown depending on weather patterns and my commitment.  It was pretty impressive, I must say. 

Now, color like this didn't come without some sweat equity.  It required dedication and the readiness to suffer for the cause.  You had to be willing to put in the hours.  A boom box, a bottle of baby oil, and a good pair of aviators were essential.  And if you had something big coming up, like a dance or graduation, well, you'd need to pull out the big guns.....maybe the vegetable oil or iodine. 
I specifically remember several of us climbing up on a friend's black shingle roof, one day, armed with very little sense, a bottle of Wesson Oil, beach towels, and a desire to alter our skin tones in a most extreme way.  I'm sure that smell we thought was someone frying chicken was simply our own pan-fried epidermis.  I look back and wonder.......Where were our parents?  But, I guess they were watching the Guiding Light with a cup of Postum and couldn't be concerned with us.  No, I really don't think we knew much about the sun back then except that it could cause wrinkles. 

A beach trip was always good way to jump start your summer tan.  We had a senior beach trip the week before our graduation.  When you went to the beach, you felt compelled to make the most of your time because, well, the sun's potential to char you was so much greater there and you had to take advantage of every second of its destructive potential.  We'd get up and hit the beach by 10.  Yeah, I know they tell you now to avoid the sun at its peak hours of 10-2 but that was the exact time we aimed to be sprawled out across the sand.  And sunscreen?  Pshhhhh.  Its only purpose was to salvage the rest of your beach trip in the event of a nasty burn on day one.  If you applied sunscreen to the scorched areas, you could go back out and scorch the un-scorched areas the next day.  I mean, an even tan was the goal here, after all.  All areas had to be equally scorched so that after your skin had blistered, peeled, and healed itself, it would turn an even and glorious, long-awaited bronze.  And let me tell you, when I walked across the stage at my high school graduation, I was as brown as a biscuit.  That diploma wasn't the only thing that I'd earned.     
Oh, if you really worked hard and stayed with it, you could maintain the color of 3 Musketeers nougat for the duration of shorts season and the resulting self-confidence that brought along with it was nothing short of empowering. 

Fast forward 28 years and you're at the dermatologist's office for your bi-annual mole, freckle, and strange skin growth check.   Well, kids, first, they put you in this room and tell you that they're going to step out a minute while you strip down to your granny panties and cover yourself with this paper sheet.  Just so you get an idea, the term sheet is quite misleading and the coverage it provides is only slightly more than one of those paper bibs you get at the dentist.......but I digress.   

So, anyway, I know you're thinking that's no big deal but stay with me.  So, the doctor comes in and brings a nurse because, well, you're naked and witnesses are needed, I suppose.  Really, if the truth be known, it's probably more of a distraction for the doctor knowing that if he makes eye contact with the nurse, they will both bust out laughing at you and won't be able to get themselves back together. 

Anyway, the doctor will tell you to lie down while your "sheet" is pulled back to get a look at all of your sunspots and moles and strange, new crops of only the Lord knows what.  You see, kids, the beautiful tan you work so hard for will, one day, turn into these brown, old people spots all over your body. You know.....just like your grandmother has on her arms that you think you'll never get.  When you get my age, they'll be like the countless stars in the sky except they don't twinkle and no one wants to lie on a blanket and gaze at them.  Yes, your brown spots will be as numerous as the descendants of Abraham.   

So, then, as if two people weren't enough of an audience, the doctor may see a spot that needs a fresh set of eyes and another doctor may be called in to look.  You're instructed to roll over on your stomach.  Let's stop here.  Have you ever tried to roll over gracefully while naked on a 4 foot table all while 3 people are watching you try to keep your paper sheet in the places where it's most needed?  You haven't?  Well, let me tell you......it's not an easy thing to do that while maintaining any amount of dignity.  I dare say that even Ginger Rogers would've had trouble making that maneuver look graceful so you can imagine how I must have looked.  To give you a reference which you can understand, it's like when you attempt to get on a pool float, stomach first, in front of a group of people at a party, while trying to oversee that your bikini components stay where they need to be.

So, after your awkward flip is complete and the staff regains their composure, they'll pull back that paper sheet, which looks more like a crumpled piece of Bounty, at this point, and they'll inspect you like a rump roast at the USDA.  I know you're thinking that doesn't sound too bad as you sit there with your flat abdomen, muscular thighs, and toned arms but your body will have likely made some changes by then.  You'll notice, when laying on your back, that your boobs part like the Red Sea.  And with nothing to hold it in, your muffin top will spread out across that table like you're in your second trimester.  And you'll have plenty of time to take an inventory of these things and ponder them in your heart while they check your many constellations of brown spots under the fluorescent lighting. 

After you've been inspected, they'll freeze, burn, shave, snip, cut, and whatever else they feel like doing to anything that is shaped weird or is the wrong color or is growing in size......or maybe they're just in the mood to play with their freezy spray thingy that day.  Either way, you'll leave there with some little, round band-aids like they put on top of your grandpa's head.  Oh, and very little dignity.  Let's not forget that.

So, happy tanning, kids. 

Don't say I didn't warn you. 


Hope it's a good Monday!                

  




Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Coming Home

Well, the boys got home.  They were set to be here on the evening of the 4th so, that morning, I made a trip to the produce stand to get some fresh peas and corn.  I already had a watermelon and squash from Blair's boyfriend's garden and tomatoes from my uncle's garden, so we were set to have a good ol' Mississippi garden spread.  Davis loves fresh vegetables so I knew that would be something he'd enjoy after eating dehydrated food and grab and go stuff for a week.  I also planned to make this bacon wrapped chicken that Carson loves and homemade mashed potatoes because, well, he really likes those, too, and chocolate chip cookies for dessert because he was craving those before he left.

Like I said, it was the 4th of July and, while I hadn't put out any kind of decorations this year, I decided that I needed to put a little something on the table to let them have a taste of the holiday.  I'd saved Carson a bag full of fireworks from our family gathering on Saturday so that he wouldn't totally miss out on everything.  I'd thought of it all.   

I told them to text me when they landed in New Orleans and then got them to text me when they were an hour away.  They were starving and I wanted to time supper just right so that it would be hot and ready when they came in the door.  I wrapped the chicken with the bacon and rubbed on the seasonings.  I peeled potatoes and cubed them to boil.  I sliced the squash to cook and had the peas going on the stove.  I shucked the corn and got it ready to go while I made a fresh pitcher of sweet tea. 

The closer they got, I set the table, put the finishing touches on the table decorations, lit the candles, mashed the potatoes, and put the cornbread in the oven.  I was excited about seeing them again and I really wanted them to feel that. 

Rewind to last Friday afternoon and Blair was headed home from working out of town for five days.  She'd traveled many miles during the week and had been eating takeout so I'd planned on having a hot meal on the table when she walked in the door.  I made one of her favorites, chicken spaghetti, this bread that she likes, some veggies, and an egg custard pie.....just shy of the robe, ring, and fatted calf deal, you understand.  I was happy to know she was on her way back and I wanted her to feel the warm embrace of home when she came through the door. 

Through the years, I guess I've always done that.  Whether they go on church trips, business trips, fishing trips, college, or to the beach with friends, homecoming is kind of a big deal around here.  I want the house to be clean. I want to have their favorite foods on the table.  I want to have fresh sheets on their beds.  I want everything to be just right.  I picked that up from my Mama, I suppose.  I guess I just want this place that we call home to be the most wonderful sight that their weary eyes have ever seen when they finally return from being gone.  I want them to smell the goodness of home and not long to be anywhere else in the world but right here.  I want them to feel the warmth of the love they've been away from for a while.       

While I was cutting up vegetables, Monday night, I thought that is how God is with us.  Like the parable, we go off and do our own thing, sometimes.  There are destinations that look enticing to us and they draw us away from home.  We see something that catches the light or something that peaks our interest and we run off to chase it.  But, just like in travels, the longer the journey wears on, the more we start to look back and wish for home.  The comfort, the love, the security, the rest that is there.  And when we come back, He's always happy to see us.  No matter where we've been or what made us turn back, He's just glad we did.  He wants to shower us with His love and grace and welcome us with the warmth of His love.  He doesn't want us to long to be anywhere else in the world but with Him. 

Home, sweet home. 

It's where the soul finds rest.       
Hope y'all have a great day!
   
     

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Hello, It's Me

Well, I'm back from an unplanned two week vacation.  Now, when I say vacation, I only mean it in the sense that I was not working or cooking or blogging or much of anything else that would require the slightest bit of effort.  Not a vacation in the sense that I actually packed a suitcase and went somewhere exciting.....unless you'd count my trip to the dermatologist 90 miles away. 

First was Carson's birthday and we had some guys over to grill and chill for that.  After all that hoopla, I helped the guys get ready to go on their trip.  They've been gone on their little hiking/camping/bathroom-ing under the stars trip to Yosemite and Blair has been working out of town which left me at home. 

All.  Alone. 

Woooo Hooooo!!

I'm sorry.  I shouldn't have exhibited that much excitement over the temporary absence of my loved ones but let's all be real here- it's all kinds of wonderful to be alone every now and then.  I mean, really.  Who doesn't crave a little time to themselves?  I haven't cooked, cleaned, or done laundry because, well, there hasn't been any dirty laundry to speak of and the dishwasher just got full enough to run, last night, for the first time in a week.  I've just been picking up dinner or meeting friends to eat.  I watched what I wanted to watch and turned the TV off when I wanted to be quiet and read.  I listened to music, cleaned out a closet or two, slept late, and whatever else struck my fancy.   

Wooooo Hooo!!! 

Sorry. 

There I go again. 

So, anyway, information coming in from the trip has been sketchy at best.  They flew out of New Orleans and started hiking on day two around lunch.  Around supper time, I got my first text from Carson in the wilderness saying that they had arrived at their campsite and he had been vomiting.  (I hate the word, vomiting.  It sounds so eeeeww, but I guess I was trying to sound all sophisticated by using the medically correct term as opposed to throwing up which is what we usually say around here.  But, that is neither here nor there.)  Anyway, I am here at home envisioning him on top of a desolate mountain losing fluids.  Now, I'm no doctor, but I know enough to know that the top of a desolate mountain is not where you want to be losing fluids.  As a mother, I visualized the group having to carry him in his sleeping bag down to the park doctor for a bag of fluids when, in reality, he was likely just experiencing some altitude sickness and was acclimated by the next morning.  I suppose that's one drawback of being left alone with your imagination. 

My mother called to check on the hikers, the next day, and I said they were fine aside from the fact that Carson was feeling a little queasy.  Now, I don't know about your family, but almost every family has a worrier.  I mean, we're all worriers to some degree but I bet you're picturing one person, in particular, who is the worry representative for your family tree.  And if you're now worrying because you can't think of who that would be in your family, it is likely you.  In my family, it is my sweet mother.  She is the champion.  Only in death will she relinquish the office.  I'd put her up against anybody your family's got.  She can come up with scenarios that will spin your head like a top.  Anyway, I had to round the edges and soften the wording of "Carson is throwing up in the middle of nowhere" to a more palatable, "Carson is a little queasy."  As you know, you have to do those things in the best interest of the worrier.  I really think that God is ok with not divulging all of the known information when it is for the good of others. 

See, the thing about champion worriers is that, while you're picturing a trip down to the park doctor, they're envisioning medical helicopters trying to lower a basket down through the canopy of trees in the middle of a lightening storm and an encircling pack of rabid wolves.  You'll never outdo their scenarios.  Don't even try.  I didn't even tell her about this guy they met and invited to camp with them.  She would've had him pegged as one of the FBI's most wanted, hanging in every post office from here to Seattle.  Sometimes, it's just best not to tell everything you know. 

So, I've just gotten spotty texts and pictures from them since then.  I've gotten enough information to piece together that they're having a great time, though.  So, I'll share what I know which won't take long. 

They're seeing lots of God's beautiful creation......

And sleeping like this.........
 Which made me think how......
But, of the pictures I've seen so far, this is my favorite.  The wildlife there is apparently well-fed and unafraid which allowed Carson to get this one of this squirrel which, if wearing pants, would, surely, have a muffin top.   
One of the guys sent this.  Not sure what the bucket was used for when not in use as a chair.  Didn't really want to know, I suppose.   
Which, again, made me think.......
 And lastly, here they are after escaping from Alcatraz in the background.....
And so now you know as much as I know, at least, until they get home.  I'll be so glad to see them.....and their laundry.....and watch the Go-Pro footage and see all the pictures and hear about their adventures.  And I'll tell them about mine- how I just chilled and slept on both sides of the bed and caught up with friends and read and watched a lot of Tiny House, Big Living and Flip or Flop

It's always sweet to deviate from the routine but it's even sweeter to get back to it. 

Hope y'all have a great day celebrating our independence!