Virginia Holliday

She sits there looking silly with her hair piled high,
And she grins with no teeth and stifles a sigh;
She waves like a fool when a ‘Vette drives by,
Then she giggles at the grass and the sky.

She’s no more than five or six, but she’s really forty-two,
And she always wears a flower in the buckle of her shoe.
She’s frightened of her shadow, and she loves the color blue,
And she sketches in a book she got from Uncle MacAloo.

She wonders why they laugh at her, whatever she might say,
But she pretends that they are all just people in a play.
She heard her grampa say one time that she was born that way,
But it really doesn’t matter to Virginia Holliday.

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Another Blue Monday

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My dear friend and sister-of-my-heart, Suz made this delightful mug rug and coffee coozie for me, and especially since it’s such a lovely shade of blue I thought this might be a good time to share it. I parked it atop my Child Development class notes, partly because that’s kind of where I live lately, and partly because the colors all match.

On a side note, if you ever order a Dunkin’ Donuts Coolatta, be prepared for a coma in a cup. I had to ice this one down like mad to deal with the sweetness. And if it’s too sweet for me, you’d better run.

Happy Blue Monday, loves.

Blue Monday

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Christmas Morning Waffle House Breakfast 2015

Her spirit floated heavenward on Tuesday and we formally said goodbye on Saturday and it’s felt like Blue Monday for nearly a week. I mostly feel like I don’t have much of a right to miss her since I couldn’t spend a lot of time with her on a regular basis, but miss her I do. I always loved extended family gatherings when we could sit off in a corner and I could listen to her stories of family and teaching and anything else that popped into our minds. She would always mention that she was dying, and my face would darken and she would hasten to mention that she wasn’t sad about it at all because she knew where she was going.

It isn’t always easy to have a happy outlook about what is going on in this life, and some Mondays are especially Blue. I love the weekly happies she always posted, and I’d like to try to join with so many of her other readers and friends to keep that tradition up here, at least as often as I can. Even when I feel somewhat less than happy.

I love you, Smiling Sally. See you on the other side.

 

Smiling Sally

Why I beg you not to buddy up with the bottle

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This is an open letter to my children’s generation about drinking. I am asking for your consideration and I’m not above begging you to hear me out.

There was a backlash after Prohibition. That isn’t uncommon, really, with prohibitions of any kind. The pendulum swings and the bad thing is suddenly the most wanted thing on the planet. And once that happens, society finds a way to make it acceptable and that progresses to it being desirable and before you know it the once-avoided thing has become the goal.

I know it isn’t quite that simple, but back in the day booze was bad and everybody knew it. Husbands drank and abused their wives and children and left their families for a new life somewhere else. Wives drank and escaped reality and took their own lives. Grownups drank and became reclusive and lost their friends. Teens drank and wrecked their cars and killed innocent people walking home from ball games.

Once upon a time believers in Christ decried drinking for a variety of reasons. It was unbecoming of someone focused on fleeing all appearances of evil. It caused onlookers to stumble, and that made it not worth risking. It altered thinking, and believers didn’t want to be taken outside of fully functioning faculties, especially if they were responsible for other people’s lives and safety. Outside of “a little wine for the stomach”, alcohol simply didn’t have a place at the table of the saints.

Then the pendulum swung with a mighty force and suddenly it made a believer more “real” to imbibe. Before long the cool Christian kids were throwing back shots and sipping spiked punch right alongside those whose moral compass had never been challenged by the power of strong drink. It became a thing to nurse a beer with a cool-sounding name at Bible study, celebrating how real everybody is. Nobody can accuse them of being holier than thou–no, sir.

But see, I remember a darker side. I was little, but I remember watching alcohol destroy lives and families, one of which was mine. I saw it tear into both of my parents, and when I was a teen it tore into me and I wrapped myself in its embrace to escape the shame of having been forced into the drunken encounters I endured as a little girl. I hurt, and alcohol became my friend.

Only it wasn’t my friend at all. And it could have cost me everything had I continued to give into its pull. Thank God I didn’t. And today I have a pretty hard time seeing it as cool or hip or acceptable–for anyone, but especially for those who endeavor to follow the Creator of these minds and bodies that even a drop of alcohol eats away.

Today booze isn’t treated as bad. It’s kind of a pal, really. What’s hard for me is when I see the damage that “pal” is doing right under our noses. The accidents, the abuse, the blood, the brokenness, the loss. And by the time most people realize its potential for destruction, it’s too late. The young girl who dies from the shots taken at her twenty-first birthday party. The young man who is convinced he hasn’t consumed enough to impair his ability to safely drive but kills himself and someone else’s only child because he was wrong about his limit. It’s too late.

So I’m begging you to consider something. Is it worth it? Would it still be worth it if the worst happened? I look back at all that could have happened to me but by the grace of God didn’t. I see people today who are grieving unspeakable loss and feel pretty sure they would tell you no, it most definitely is not worth it.

It doesn’t make you cooler to drink. People around you might like the shared experience. They might make you feel good by saying you are more approachable, more “real” when you pop that cork. But I have to tell you that what I feel when I see you drink is deep sadness and disappointment. I feel deflated in ways I can’t come near wording. I try not to say too much, because I know the truth is you really don’t want to know what I think.

It isn’t that I think you are a lesser person because you drink. Far from it. It is because of your value that I bother to write these things at all, because they are more painful to word than I can possibly explain. It’s more that I hate what drinking takes away from you, what it risks for you and others, what I’ve seen it do that I’d rather you not experience.

So I say very little out loud but I pray deeply that the lure of drinking loses its hold and that you move on in your life uninhibited by the loss of brain cells, that you go forward made safer by the lessened risk. I pray that you see more clearly that consuming liquor is not necessary to an amazing life, and that it stands more of a chance of preventing one than making it more likely.

And I love you. Whether I know you or not. And I want you to have the best chance possible to live the full life you were meant to live alongside those you love. I want you to have a better chance of not living out the sadness I’ve seen. That is my heart.

Purpose

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It seems to be a common thing lately for me to discover my One Word for the new year sometime well into January. This year my mind kept dancing around a circle of words, with the common theme of “purpose”. Intentional. Planned. Purposeful. So I settled on Purpose to catch it all.

I think about how much in life seems to happen randomly. My belief in the Sovereignty of God keeps me from believing too far down the randomness trail, so divine intention makes more sense to me than just blind chance in the workings of life and the spinning of this big blue ball.

Since starting college I have become keenly aware of the ambiguity of my personality–a down-the-middle split between meticulous planning and wild creative abandon. I love winging it, throwing caution to the wind, flying by the seat of my pants. But when it comes to school and all that is riding on my performing well and learning all I can, I find little room for britches-flight. In some ways that is a good thing. In other ways, I think I’m missing something.

In this focus on academic writing, assignment submissions, deadlines, expectations, striving for excellence, APA format, and criteria specifics, I sense a gaping hole where creativity is supposed to live. Does it matter that I’m earning straight A’s when I feel like there’s a crater-sized hole in the big picture?

Is there a way to live this life intentionally but with ample doses of spontaneity? I really hope so. I’m not sure I know how to live any other way.

Linking up with #OneWord365

Missing Words

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Being a full-time college student has been a blessing. It has reawakened my creaky brain and widened parameters and reignited my love for education. Three semesters in, I’m doing better than I expected. Not that I expected to do badly, but it has been thirty-something years since I was last a student and I wasn’t exactly sure how it was going to go.

One of the drawbacks has been the lack of time and brain cells to write creatively the way my heart craves. I miss it so much I can’t describe it. I also miss reading, which goes alongside the creative writing by feeding into it in ways textbooks just can’t mimic. My stack of to-read books is toppling off my nightstand and begging serious attention.

Steve and Rosie are out shopping tonight. I was politely but decisively left alone at home, which isn’t so bad I guess considering 1. I love being at home alone, 2. there might be some shopping for something I shouldn’t see, and 3. I have a pulled muscle in my back and would likely slow them down considerably.

So here I sit, trying to remember how to write sentences I don’t have to submit by a deadline for a grade.

I see writing challenges here and there, like the “letters to something-year-old me” and I long to dive in and write, but I’ve somehow lost my gumption for the kind of writing that involves my heart, my soul, dare I say my opinion as though anyone outside a couple of people cares how I feel or what I believe on any topic, really. I think I’m still holding onto the outlandish notion that somehow, someday, someone besides my immediate family is going to care about my printed words.

Like last year, I’ve been mulling over my “Word” for the coming new year. Last year I gave up on it entirely until about halfway through January when I clearly received the word “Aware”. I have to say, that one has been a doozy. I had no idea at the time what it would come to mean. Now I know. It has been a bittersweet unfolding. I’m a little scared to ask for next year’s little gem.

One of the biggest happies here at semester’s end for me is the fact that my statistics class didn’t kill me. I was sure it would, or at least leave me horribly maimed. I can’t begin to word how much work it took outside of class to grasp the material well enough to get an A in that class, and let me just say that I still feel giddy every time I recall that it’s over.

Next semester I will be taking six classes, during which I will be taking my first teaching certification test, culminating in the earning of my Associates in Arts degree and then official entry into the College of Education in the fall, so my word for 2016 needs to fit because I’m going to need a good one.

Don’t Say Forever

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I admit with shame I let myself believe it
Breathed it deeply, let its comfort beckon me
Felt its sweetness, let it hold me for a moment
Now forever I will never truly see
 
Once I trusted, though reluctant in my fearing
Dared to let such weakness break the shield I wore
I’d have been much less transparent had I seen ahead
I can’t listen to forever any more
 
It was beautiful, a treasure made of diamond tears
And I held it all too closely to my chest
So I loosened trembling fingers, let it flutter free
And now never will forever let me rest
 
In its freedom it has chosen now another path
I’ve been forced to let the one I cherished go
Now in silence there is nothing of what once was ours
Only pain I cannot let forever show
 
I am left to shed the anger with an anguished cry
Letting go of any hope that’s left within
So if you would speak your love for me, I ask you this
Never whisper a forever word again
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Right Now

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I happened upon a blog post during a 30-day blogging challenge, and a short rabbit trail led me to Lisa Sonora’s blog/journal prompt “Right Now”. It’s simple, yet has somehow remained illusive over the years I’ve been writing and navigating writer’s block. It’s one of those moments when I feel like somebody opened the curtains and let sunlight stream into my usually dimly-lit room. Normally, I think light is overrated. Today, I like it.

Right now…I am listening to my daughter sing. Her voice rises and falls as she moves about the house, and I close my eyes for long moments just to feel it. Her voice has made me smile heart-deep for over twenty years now, and I could never imagine my life without it. Not long after she left for the dentist’s office this morning, I was startled awake by a dream where she was calling my name. I lay there chiding myself for worrying about her. She’s twenty! I sighed peacefully when she texted a few minutes later that she had safely arrived.

Right now, I am perusing photos of Mama. Aunt Vernell called yesterday and asked if I had a particular photo, and I said I would print it and send it to her. Talking to Aunt Vern is the closest thing to talking to Mama that can happen with her gone now almost ten years. Aunt Vern was the closest to Mama of all the sisters, and so much like her it’s hard to describe. I plan to call my beautiful aunt more often.

Right now, I am grateful for warmed-up leftover biscuits with butter and strawberry preserves. They remind me of my childhood, when Mama made them by hand in her big biscuit bowl. I have a wooden one of my own now, just the perfect size for a batch of dough that makes a dozen. I made homemade flour tortillas for the first time yesterday. I have some improving to do, but I’m optimistic. They made some pretty tasty grilled chicken fajitas for our little supper for three.

Right now I am watching the breeze sway the palm fronds just outside my office window. Muggs and her husband gave us a bird feeder for our anniversary and I’m hoping to put it up this evening in a location where it can be seen through both my office and the kitchen windows. The jays and cardinals have been swooping into the alcove often lately so I put a bowl of seed in the kitchen window sill, but the feeder will be easier for them to see.

Right now I feel grateful for these last few weeks of summer calm before school starts again, and I will be grateful when it does start and I get back into my study routine. The busyness fuels me, keeps me organized, makes me feel alive.

Right now I miss my husband and count the hours until he’s home again.

Heartstrings and Apron Pockets

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I attended an estate sale a few years ago, where a man was selling everything from his elderly mother’s home. I just found the whole thing gut-wrenchingly sad as I walked through and pondered over the items this woman had used and loved over the years.

He had most of the items priced well over what I would normally pay at such a sale, but browsing through a room near the back I came upon a bright orange apron the man said his mother had made. Being fond of aprons, I loved it at once. Tracing my fingers lovingly over the seams I noted that it was reversible with print on one side and eyelet on the other. I couldn’t help but wonder if she had worn it, because it looked rather new. I thought with sadness that perhaps she’d been too feeble or ill to use it herself. Somehow I felt like I’d known this dear lady, though I knew we’d never met.

I paid him the inflated price feeling like I was purchasing more than an apron. I was taking home a treasure with memories in its pockets–tiny facets of a woman whose worldly goods were being sold to strangers wandering through her home.

That apron remains one of my favorites, and I hope to make sure someone eventually gets it who will appreciate it for the memories of both its maker and me. I consider it an honor to wear it while making lovely meals for my family. I’d like to think she’d be smiling if she knew.

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Happy wind blowing through

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It’s beautiful outside–windy and cloudy and because of that a little less infernally hot than it’s been the past few days. I’m a Florida native so I’m used to the heat, but it’s been unseasonably hot lately even for here. Steve is heading outside to mow (hopefully) before the rain comes. And then if the weather holds out he’ll grill the ribs I’ve been marinating all afternoon. How that wind is blowing right now, bending the grass right over and the palm fronds all slapping each other on the back like friends having fun. No droplets break the surface of the water, at least not yet. I hope they do later.

Judging by the stack of wood, I think the neighbors are building a new bridge over to the little island. They’ve been clearing growth from the lake’s edge and they took down the old one last week. They cleared the island, too, so I assume they’ll be wanting a way to get back over to it. Or they could just row over like the rest of us plain folk with weeds crowding our banks and docks.

I am blessed to have a very wise psychologist-to-be living in my house, and even more blessed that she is my daughter because she mixes tender daughter words with the more serious things she says to help me process what life is dishing out. I told her I don’t ever want her to feel like she has to help me with stuff, but she said she doesn’t mind. There is still so much I don’t say. I want her to live her own young, beautiful, happy life that doesn’t have to be quite so serious as mine. She will weather life better than I have. That was a parenting goal I think we met.

Thunder rumbles, and I quietly root for Steve out there pushing that mower down the bank and pulling it back up again and then making one row after another down the side of the yard. He’s pushing it faster trying to beat the rain while his yard shoes fill with bits of green. He’ll be watching closely for nearby lightning, and won’t be holding onto that metal mower bar once he sees a flash anywhere near. Lightning doesn’t play around in these parts.

I was inspired to write today by Amber Haines and her post about wording the “reglar” of life. I loved that she spelled out how she pronounces it so I can hear it in her voice. That’s how I grew up saying it during the southeast Georgia years. I miss those days, sometimes a lot. They were more innocent times. Like Amber, we had chickens, housed in a big coop. I remember gathering eggs from those silky birds and being comforted by their familiar clucking as we sat in lawn chairs and shelled purple-hulls in metal pans propped on our laps. Nothing tasted so delicious as those peas, freshly shelled and cooked with big chunks of smoked ham and seasoned with salt and pepper and sweet onion with sliced just-picked bright red tomatoes alongside.

Raindrops plop rings into what I can see of the lake out the window, and I still hear the mower running till that man of mine thinks he should quit. I’m guessing he’s enjoying the coolness on his back, a welcome reprieve from the heat of summer. I’m off to make him a glass of sweet tea because I promised.

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