Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.
Love... it surrounds every being and extends slowly to embrace all that shall be.
~ Khalil Gibran
Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.
Love... it surrounds every being and extends slowly to embrace all that shall be.
~ Khalil Gibran
I just heard on the news that the first 15 days of January here in Austin set a record: so far it's officially the 10th coldest winter since 1897.
People who live up north, who have to live with snow from November through March, will probably laugh at that. I'm sure they think what we experience here in Austin could hardly be called "wintry weather".
But it does get cold here - icy, even. In fact, we heat our entire house with our woodburning stove, and we've almost used up all of our wood already!
The good news is our "wintry weather" comes and goes. The first 15 days might have set a "cold" record, but tomorrow it will warm from the low 30's to 70 by afternoon, with plenty of sunshine. As much as I whine about not getting any snow, I'd rather have the warm January afternoons.
Yes, Texas winters are mighty sweet!
Here are a few other sweet!s from the past week plus some...
Wednesday: spicy chili on a chilly evening; the warmth of a wood-burning stove
Thursday: the crunch, crunch, crunch when you walk on frozen caliche; a tree full of birds breakfasting on juniper berries; a call from your sister after her surgery; haircuts and head massages; clients leaving great reviews for you on your business pages
Friday: an early morning call from your mom; a buyer's long-awaited closing on her new home; sharing a peanut butter cookie with your mom; finally starting the last season of "Breaking Bad"
Saturday: getting to visit your mom when you thought you'd be iced-in all day; your Christmas decorations all boxed up; the smell of a roast in the oven; the sound of rain outside, when you and all of your loved ones are safe and warm inside
Sunday: Garden of Eatin' inspiration; experiencing new restaurants; helping a friend celebrate her birthday; sharing a creme brulee with friends; watching the end of "Annie Hall" with your mom
Monday: a walk on a foggy morning; meeting with a CPA in anticipation of making money in 2015
Tuesday: dinner and the movie "Jersey Boys" with friends, in preparation for seeing Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in February
Wednesday: making progress in organizing your office; watching your first hockey game with colleagues and 3/4 of your kids
Thursday: the return of sunshine after too many cold, wet, gray days; finally getting all of the Christmas boxes out of your living room
Friday: working out five days in a row for the first time in weeks; having enough money to pay your bills; your sister getting a good report from her doctor following her surgery; gorgeous sunsets; finally posting your sweet!s
When scattered clouds are resting on the bosoms of hills, it seems as if one might climb into the heavenly region, earth being so intermixed with sky, and gradually transformed into it.
(What were some sweet! moments of your past week? Share them in the comments and make them twice as sweet!)
The pitter-patter of tiny feet woke me early on Christmas morning, but it wasn't the sound of excited little children as on Christmas mornings long ago. It was Belle, letting me know she was ready to go outside.
I granted her request, then crawled back into bed. That's one good thing about Christmas mornings when the kids are grown - you get to sleep in if you want to.
Another is that they are old enough to fix you bacon and eggs for breakfast, like Daniel did for us.
But our celebration began on Christmas Eve with the Children's Mass. There's nothing like seeing little ones all dressed up in their fancy holiday outfits and a group of them acting out the Christmas pageant to fill you with Christmas spirit. So cute!
I spent the rest of that evening baking cookies while watching "It's a Wonderful Life". I think it's my favorite Christmas movie of all, because of its message of hope and faith and friendship, and the beauty of the simple things in life, period.
Christmas day itself was slow and relaxing. Sleeping late ... a walk with Belle ... that huge breakfast, courtesy of Daniel ... phone calls and texts from loved ones and friends ... last minute gift wrapping ... catching bits and pieces of a Shirley Temple movie marathon..
Late in the afternoon my oldest and his wife met us at Mama's nursing home, where we all squeezed into her little room to share cookies, visit, and open a few gifts.
Back home a couple of hours later, we shared a not-so-traditional fajita dinner, opened more gifts, and then ended the day stretched out around the television watching "A Christmas Story" - the "you'll shoot your eye out" one.
I wish so much that Mama could have joined us for dinner at our house. However, mid-week a chest X-ray confirmed she had pneumonia. They caught it early and started antibiotics, but she's still weak and has a bad cough. Please continue to pray for her - and thank you in advance.
Today I followed through on a promise by watching "Elf" with her. She and her roommate loved it.
I hope no matter what else is going on in your life, you've experienced some joy and laughter during the holidays, too.
May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope;
The spirit of Christmas which is peace;
The heart of Christmas which is love.
~Ada V. Hendricks
A friend shared this on Facebook yesterday.
It was so moving, so glorious, and such a beautiful illustration of Love, that I knew right away I wanted to share it with all of you, as well.
Searching for it on You Tube just now, I discovered it's actually 5 years old, so perhaps you've already seen it.
But if you haven't, please watch it through to the very end... which is only 5 minutes.
You won't be sorry.
Naomi Feil, founder of Validation therapy, shares a breakthrough moment of communication with Gladys Wilson, a woman who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2000 and was virtually non-verbal.
More info: www.memorybridge.org
Love is so powerful and each of us can do so much if we allow it to work through us.
I didn't become Catholic because they consider it okay to dance and drink, but I have to admit, those are great fringe benefits!
Every year I look forward to our parish "adult" Christmas party, where there's always great food, great dance music, a huge dance floor, and a mostly older crowd who make me feel young and old at the same time. There are some 80+-year-olds who can out-dance me!
Tonight I expected to go, eat, and leave, because I had so much work to do. I didn't even bring my big-girl camera. But I met new people at my table, saw some old friends, and this great band was playing...
The next thing I knew, I was one of the last ones there, as always.
There were four of us women still on the dance floor when the band said good night. We convinced them to play an encore. They acquiesced, choosing "Don't Stop Believing", the perfect lead-in for the post I'd already written for today...
It's been almost a year since my mom made the move from Houston to Austin. Things haven't gone quite as well as I hoped ... she's had two trips to the emergency room and is much weaker now than when we made that 4 hour road trip last year.
But she is still my mom. I can talk to her about everything that's going on in my life, just as I always could. I am blessed that way. She's still a great support and sounding board. And I think it helps her to know I still need her that way.
But in the same breath, she'll refer to my dad as if he's alive. We're on a totally different playing field, and it's taken some getting used to. She knows he's passed on, but there are times she just refuses to accept it.
In her previous life, my mom was a CPS - a Certified Professional Secretary. It was a big deal. You had to pass a test. She worked all while I was growing up, and then beginning in 1975, she also took care of my quadriplegic brother in the evening when she got home from work.
Her nature has always been that of a nightowl who loved staying up late and sleeping half the day, unless she had to get up for work or some other good reason.
It's unfortunate that nursing homes don't operate on that time schedule. Physical therapy comes by in the morning. She refuses them. By the time she's awake enough to participate, they're gone for the day.
Consequently, she's gotten weaker and weaker. This week, they categorized her as a hoyer-lift patient because they say it took four people to weigh her. A hoyer-lift patient is pretty much a jellyfish, not having to use any muscles to get in and out of bed, or even to the bathroom.
However, when they said they had to move her to another hall because she was now a hoyer patient, I reminded them that she did fine with two people assisting her until one aide ignored the "Two Person" assistance notice and tried to move her on her own. Consequently, Mama landed on her knees. The very next day, it took four people to weigh her.
So, they gave me a week. If she shows improvement and cooperates, she won't have to move.
I am now officially her coach.
Yesterday morning I arrived at 11:30 and she was still in bed. I pushed the button to call the aides to get her out of bed and when they asked her if she would eat lunch in the dining room, I answered for her: Yes.
She eats really, really slow. We were the last ones in the dining room. Her nurse had her nebulizer treatment already set up, so I got her started on that, then went to find a portable oxygen tank. When she finished her treatment, I hooked her up to the portable tank so she could take a "stroll" down the hall, using her hands and feet to propel herself, rather than someone pushing her.
I want her to build her strength. I don't want her to be a jellyfish on the other hall, and she doesn't want to be, either. I told her she had to want that in an active way, not just a theoretical way.
That's true for all of us, isn't it? If we want something, we have to take the action that will get us there, not just wish for it to magically happen.
I was there four hours yesterday, and two today, but most days I can only be with her an hour. So please, please, please keep my mom in your prayers, as well as her aides and nurses. They have a tough job. I'm depending on them to keep her moving and gaining strength.
Don't stop believing... (and please keep her in your prayers!)
Being there for my mom and dancing tonight are definitely both sweet!s of this week.
Here are a few more...
Tuesday: property tours that include lots of lake views; singing Christmas carols with your mom; investor clients; online classes you can attend at your convenience
Wednesday: your son's 29th birthday; remembering the day you became a mom; spending time with your own mom
Thursday: the silence of a foggy morning; showing properties; bathroom inspiration; discovering new restaurants with your daughter; remembering your sister's wedding 10 years ago; hanging out with twenty-somethings
Friday: showing more properties; seeing results from nagging your mom; reaching the halfway mark in your new class; watching a full moon climb up through the tree branches
Saturday: the company of house-dogs; working out six days in a row; getting to spend four hours with your mom; sunsets in the hill country; quick catch-ups with friends; new clients
Sunday: walking through a carpet of autumn leaves; enjoying beautiful Christmas and gospel music with your mom; an evening spent visiting with friends, making new ones, and dancing
I hope you had a week full of sweet! moments, and the next is overflowing. Share them here!
And remember, don't stop believing!
When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I did. I feel especially blessed that in my 55 years I've only been responsible for the whole dinner a handful of times, thanks to my mom and, more recently, my son and daughter-in-law.
For the second year in a row, my son did an amazing job on the turkey, a huge 21-pounder! There was a ton of other delicious stuff... gorgeous appetizers, casseroles, desserts.
I brought the cornbread dressing, my mother's recipe. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving for me without it.
(I also brought a green salad, but it was mostly for show. It takes up way too much room on a plate!)
Even though my mom wasn't strong enough yet to join us at my son's, she was too stuffed with turkey and dressing to eat any of the goodies we brought her on our way home that evening. I'm grateful for that, and for the staff of her nursing home who made sure the residents celebrated.
The next day we celebrated Thanksgiving again with friends. No skipping work-outs for me for the next few weeks, that's for sure!
Thanksgiving was just the first in this season of celebration. Yesterday was the first official day of Advent, a time when we (as in Christians) reflect on what we need to do to prepare for the second coming of Christ while commemorating his first coming - Christmas. A season for reflection of the past and the future.
A few years ago I googled "Advent" for another post and found a description on Spirit Home that I thought was perfect. I've chopped out bits to save space, but here it is...
Advent is a season of preparation. So's Lent, but it is a different kind of preparation. Lent is very adult and serious, because it leads to a death; originally, Lent readied new Christian adults for baptism. In Advent, we thank God for Christ's first coming, prepare for his final coming at the end of time, and celebrate Christ's presence among us today through the Spirit. God loved us and wanted to share that love. But this existence isn't well-suited for a god; it's too broken, evil, painful, unjust. So, to rescue the created world from this evil, God chose to come here and walk the earth, to grow up, to live the truth, and to die. The only way to start such a thing is as a baby, and the only way to be a baby is to be born. Hence Christmas. Because Christmas is centered in the new hope brought by a baby, it's a very child-oriented holiday. Because Advent leads us up to that baby, Advent is also child-oriented.
There's a time to get ready by focusing on your own sinfulness and wrongdoing, a time for personal transformation and following Christ to the cross. That's Lent. There's a time to get ready by rejoicing that our God is not far away and unfamiliar with the struggles of human life, that Christ is here right now among His followers, that God has already begun to bring in the Kingdom, and that Christ will come again to make it clear who really runs the place. That's Advent. "Lo, I am with you, even unto the end of the age", says Jesus.
"There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as if everything is."
~ Albert Einstein
I love that quote. And I do believe each day is full of miracles.
Keeping track of my sweet!s has helped me recognize them. Here are a few from the past week...
Monday: being able to start a new week and every new day with a morning walk; your mom agreeing to do her physical therapy
Tuesday: starting a new real estate class; a happy hour at sunset with friends
Wednesday: a blogger/writer friend's op-ed published in the LA Times; open parking spaces and short check-out lines when you procrastinate grocery shopping until the day before Thanksgiving; a pre-Thanksgiving phone call with your mother-in-law
Thursday: only being responsible for the cornbread dressing and green salad for Thanksgiving dinner; truly liking your daughter-in-law's family; creative appetizers; no traffic when you hit the road for Thanksgiving; another Wes Anderson movie with your son
Friday: the smell of fresh-baked brownies; sons who love to visit their grandmother; Thanksgiving Part 2 with friends
Saturday: three days in a row with no alarm clock; a "hello" from a raven on your morning walk; learning the difference between a crow and a raven; a silly movie with your son; finishing the edits on a special photography job
Sunday: referrals from friends; a spring-like day in winter; a glimpse of a Great Blue Heron disappearing over the treetops; two walks in one day with your puppy; your son calling to see if you need anything from the grocery store on his way home
Monday: the sound of the wind dancing in the treetops; your puppy running and running and running with joy and exuberance; spending a morning with a client viewing properties; a shadow-puppy/guard dog who follows you from room to room; your son getting a fire going when winter returns to your hollow
Beginning this Advent, I'm also going to work on being more aware and more supportive of my friends and family who are currently facing huge challenges. Time to pay it forward.
Whether you think about Advent or not, I hope your next few weeks are full of reflection, hope and joy.
After a long day of driving and showing houses to clients all over Austin, then a never-long-enough visit with my mom, I arrived back home yesterday evening just as the sun started its goodbyes. The light was golden, the sky a crisp and an ever-deepening blue.
I set aside the list of things I still needed to do and headed down my caliche road with Belle, feeling lighter with every step.
"Solvitur ambulando, St. Jerome was fond of saying. To solve a problem, walk around."
"The night walked down the sky with the moon in her hand."
~Frederick L. Knowles
Along the way, our new neighbors overtook us on their 4-wheel drive ATV, their golden retriever running alongside them. Belle and I heard them coming, stepped off the road, and waited.
When the golden spotted us, he veered over to investigate. I'm ashamed to tell you that Belle wasn't very friendly to him. However, she responded to my commands and stayed beside me.
The golden couldn't help himself. He kept coming around to investigate. They finally all turned and headed back to their house, and we continued on our walk, once again enjoying the last rays of the sun and the peace of the Hollow, despite the interruption.
Then, as usual, Belle and I headed out again this morning for a walk before church.
Near the curve of the road, we encountered neighbors who live up the hill. They like to walk their three dogs on our road.
This time Belle minded her manners and stayed friendly. Unfortunately, two of theirs weren't so friendly. One - the largest one - even lunged at Belle. No actual contact was made, thank goodness.
The owner scolded it, grabbed it by its collar, and they headed on down the road in one direction while we continued on our walk in the other.
Sigh. Our road is getting much too crowded. And perhaps I'm becoming a snob. Or a hermit.
Belle is a fast walker. To keep up with her - and to get in a little work-out, not to mention save time, on busy mornings - I've started jogging.
I stopped jogging on our road a few years ago because it's made of caliche... essentially gravel and loose rocks on top of uneven solid rock. It's tough on the feet and there's a high risk of tripping or twisting your ankle.
But (did I mention this already?) Belle walks really, really fast. She needs the exercise, and I need the exercise, and this past week has been so crazy busy that there was no other time to work-out otherwise.
I never saw that rock. The one that reached up and grabbed my toe, sending me flying and slipping an anticipatory curse word into my Rosary.
I mostly landed on my forearms, sliding a few centimeters along the gravel. I'm now sporting huge bandaids on my elbows and one knee, and bruises are still popping up on my arms and left leg.
But...nothing was broken, except skin. Not even my phone.
That's pretty amazing and sweet! when you get to be my age!
Here are a few other sweet!s from the past week...
Tuesday: a new client and a referral from a colleague; dinner and reminiscing with your sister, her friend, and your cousin; a sweet card in the mail from your work family
Wednesday: taking classes so you can stay informed about your business; your puppy barking in her sleep behind you as you work; new clients
Thursday: not breaking anything except skin when you trip and fall while running on your caliche road with your puppy; closings and happy clients; finally meeting a client in person for the first time after helping her relocate from Illinois to Texas; networking with friends/colleagues and meeting new ones; bumping into a high school friend of your son's; trying new restaurants with your daughter
Friday: watching the sunrise color a gray world; corn chowder a la the Avenue B Grocery, eaten outside on a gorgeous autumn day; a text containing a photo of your sweet great-niece dressed up for Halloween
Saturday: helping the daughter of a high school friend find a home in Austin; exploring homes all around the University of Texas with college girls; finding out your phone isn't completely dead; a walk on a country road at dusk with your puppy after a long day
Sunday: discovering your husband and son made it home safe in the middle of the night from their Arkansas canoeing adventure; a glimpse of their adventure through their photographs; your son relocating a turtle to a pond with water in it; commemorating All Soul's Day with a candlelight ceremony outside of your church
"Is death the last sleep? No, it is the last and final awakening. "
~ Sir Walter Scott
As always, please share your sweet moments from the past week in the comments!
Belle is snoring behind me, curled up on a purple and pink fringed blanket TG gave to her. The past couple of nights she's slept beside my bed on a small rug. She's getting better about sleeping through the night without waking me for attention. Just like a baby.
I've never had a house dog before now. For one thing, I'm allergic to dogs, and it amazes me that I'm not a sniffling, wheezing mess right now. I haven't even taken an allergy pill.
Way back in the '70's, when I first brought my Siamese kitten home, I sneezed constantly for a week. Then, like magic, I was fine. Maybe I built up a tolerance for Belle during those weeks she and Max lounged in the laundry room, out of the summer heat.
As much as I loved my cat (and miss having one) I have to admit that house dogs - especially country ones, used to being outside - are so much easier. No litter boxes to clean, for one thing. And when we leave, Belle just goes outside and guards the house from her bed on the porch until we return.
She follows me from room to room, and I'm really enjoying her company. It's eased that place in my heart that still misses my Max.
I dreamed of him two nights ago. He was lying beside me and I ran my hand through his long fur. It was a sweet dream, and having Belle near has been a calming, sweet comfort in a crazy-busy week which culminated in a crazy-busy, but fun, fun weekend.
Friday night I helped celebrate the anniversary of Waddle Auctioneers by dancing with friends to the music of Groove Knight, an awesome band, in my friend Rachel's airplane hangar. It was bittersweet, though, since it was probably the very last party in that hangar. It's currently on the market.
(Know anyone who wants to buy an airplane hangar with a 5 bedroom home attached? You can catch some beautiful sunrises and sunsets!)
Saturday I spent the day pouring beer for customers and taking photos at my church's annual Oktoberfest. A friend's son works at a local brewery - Live Oak - and they donated a keg to our cause. (Thank you, Live Oak Brewing Company!)
The weather was perfect, I saw tons of familiar faces, and we ended up raising a lot of money that will be given back to our community.
Sunday turned out all different than originally planned, but I'm learning to be flexible and it turned into a wonderful day, as well.
I had registered to run 5K in the Run for the Water downtown. However, by this weekend the rest of the family made plans to be out of town, and I realized there wouldn't be anyone home to feed or walk Belle!
So instead of driving downtown to run 5K at 7 am, I slept until 7 am and then ran a mile with Belle at dawn. I figured the Gazelle Foundation benefited from my entry fee and it didn't really matter where I ran.
All in all, it was a good week. My mom made it through surgery just fine, and even though she isn't getting the quality of care I expect at the moment, I'm grateful she's close enough that I can step in and raise a little, um, heck until it gets on track.
(Don't mess with my mama!)
Here are some other sweet!s from the past week...
Monday: pink clouds in the morning; a message from a potential new client waiting in your inbox when you wake up; your husband home safe and sound from his roadtrip; watching a family of cardinals have a bedtime snack at your feeder
Tuesday: catching up with friends and learning about personal safety at your office meeting; moving forward on a contract; a text from one of your mom's nurses, checking on her after a fall and ambulance ride to the hospital; being able to be by your mom's side when she's in great pain from a broken femur and facing surgery
Wednesday: good wishes, thoughts, and prayers from all over the world (thanks to Facebook!) for your mom as she undergoes surgery; laptops, smart phones, and wi-fi so you can work and stay in touch with loved ones while you wait; calls from potential new clients
Thursday: cousins who visit your mom in the hospital; watching old movies with your mom; nurses who show special care for your mom
Friday: your mom making such great progress she's released from the hospital earlier than you expected; dancing with friends in a hangar to the awesome band Groove Knight
Saturday: working with your son in a church festival booth; a visit from your oldest; being close enough to see your mom every day and be sure she's getting the care she needs
Sunday: cutting yourself some slack by not trying to do everything; running at dawn with your puppy; watching an old, silly movie with your son; new real estate leads
Monday: waking to another new lead; hearing that your son and husband made it to their destination safe and sound; visiting your mom twice in one day; cheese popcorn; a dog snoring beside you as you work
I hope you all had a great week and this next is even better!
Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
Just before sunset this afternoon, I escaped to the front porch swing with a glass of wine and a long-lost book from my childhood. I'd spent the day taking care of the dogs, going to church, fixing one of my signs that got knocked over by city mowers, visitng my mom, and finally making it to the grocery store.
I was pooped.
It was an overdue appointment with myself, the book, and Belle, who joined me on the porch and dozed on her bed while I read.
This whole past week has been exhausting, although not necessarily in a bad way. One of my listings had multiple offers, and while I hate telling anyone they lost, it's the best scenario you can wish for for your seller.
I've also been busy trying to snag a lease for out-of-state buyers who are moving to Austin next week. They want to get a feel for Austin before buying. I don't blame them, but I think they finally believe what I told them about leasing being tougher than buying in some ways.
And then there are searches for other buyers, promotions for other sellers, and the neverending need to get more clients in your pipeline.
It felt good to slip away from all of that for half an hour this afternoon...
I searched for this book for 40 years, before finally coming across it last year in an online bookstore, priced far beyond my budget. My son Daniel - more of a booklover than me, if that's possible - came to the rescue and bought it for me as an early Christmas present.
When it arrived in the mail, it was like seeing an old friend for the first time in so many years... but I was so busy at the time that it sat untouched on my bookshelf until last week, when I decided I'd had enough of just reading real estate books and magazines. I was ready for an escape, the kind only a work of fiction can provide.
And what better escape when you're pressed on all sides with grownup problems, than to dive back into your childhood?
These small iris-shaped flowers line our dirt road again. They never appeared last autumn, I guess because of the drought, so what a sweet surprise to spot them popping up this year.
After a brief rally, Max has gotten picky about eating again, changing his preferences from one day to another and turning his nose up at whatever we're offering more than actually eating.
Consequently, he's gotten weak again, and has skipped the past two morning walks, although he still climbs the hill from his doghouse to lounge in his porch bed, and he seems very happy there, occasionally barking to prove he's got our backs.
So Belle and I have gone on without him. She's in such a hurry to cover a lot of ground but get back to check on him that I've ended up having to run to keep up. It's been good for both of us.
Thursday evening's forecast included a line of thunderstorms passing through, thanks to a cold front.
Somehow it passed by us without so much as a drop, but then stalled for a few hours so that we had the most amazing lightshow on our horizon, like a strobe light caught inside of a huge cloud.
Daniel and I stood in the middle of our road watching it for at least half an hour, totally mesmerized. There was no thunder, no rain. It was one of the weirdest, most beautiful things I've ever witnessed.
I took several shots without much hope that I could actually capture it. I'm pleasantly surprised they came out as good as they did, although none of them truly did it justice.
Earlier that evening I had joined a bunch of other Austin Realtors for a networking party at The Thinkery, a new children's museum. We're members of Broker Underground ... essentially a Facebook group where we can promote our listings, find properties for our buyers, share information about vendors, and keep up to date with what's happening in Austin real estate.
While it's true in a way that agents are competing against each other, it's also true that we have to work together to help our clients and help continually improve our industry. Events like this, where we come face-to-face in a relaxed environment, help us connect... plus they're just a lot of fun and a great way to relieve stress.
Last Sunday I was lucky enough to sit on the front row at a house concert and listen to the music of Shake Russell, Michael Hearne, and Mike Roberts.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard some of those songs over the past four decades, but they still go straight to my heart and soul.
I've missed keeping an official record of my weekly sweet! moments. I plan to start it back up and invite you to do the same, because...
The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions - the little, soon-forgotten charities of a kiss or a smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment, and the countless infinitesimals of pleasurable and genial feeling.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Our grandfather clock is chiming midnight. Rain pours - no, roars - outside my window, just the kind of rain we need. A blessed sound, for sure. Every once in awhile I catch a flash of lightning in the distance.
I've just finished a few things for work ... or at least all I can do at the moment. Before I can climb into bed, I still need to pay a few bills. And then I need to pack for my annual girls' weekend in Port Aransas. If it takes me all night, that's okay. I'm not driving tomorrow.
I'm looking forward to it more than usual, if that's possible. It's been a long day.
I drove miles and miles and miles through communities surrounding Austin today with a young man, trying to find just the right house for his family who is moving here from Illinois. After the initial wariness ("Is he a murderer?") it's one of the things I most love about real estate - meeting people. Getting a chance to hear their stories.
The good news is we found a house for him, his wife, and two young sons. That's always such a great feeling. As a bonus, I learned a lot about some neighborhoods I was merely acquainted with before today.
It's been a good week, starting with a closing on Monday followed by a phone call telling me I had won a $500 Academy gift card!
But it's also been a week of late nights and early mornings. I'm tired. Really, really tired.
I can't wait to lie on the beach for a couple of days, listening to its music...the waves and the wind and the gulls... and soaking up some sunshine.
But if the forecasted rain falls, I'll be happy to lie in bed, instead, catching up on my sleep, and then sit on the balcony, watching the rain.
Either way, it will be great to have a change of scenery and a change of pace.
I hope all of you have a great weekend, filled with whatever it is you need!
For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
It’s always our self we find in the sea.
“God put us here, on this carnival ride.
We close our eyes never knowing where it'll take us next.”
There are good surprises, and there are bad surprises.
Years ago I met a woman who impressed me with her beauty and bubbly personality. I didn't know her well, and haven't seen her in years, but back then we shared a lot of laughs at monthly PTA bunco games (not as innocent as they sound!)
Today I attended her memorial service. She was barely in her 40's. Learning of her death earlier this week was a bad surprise.
I spotted many friends at the service who I haven't seen or spoken to in years...not since our kids grew up. We all agreed we need to get together, under better circumstances.
I hope we do.
Yesterday I drove to a small town near San Antonio to help surprise my dear friend Nancy for her 50th birthday. I liked being part of a good surprise.
Nancy was my first friend in Lago Vista, then later agreed to be my Confirmation sponsor when I finally decided to convert to Catholicism after years of attending Mass with Tom and the kids, and months of discussing it with our priest.
Within a few years she had to move away from Lago, but we've somehow held onto our friendship, despite the distance (and age difference!)
Happy birthday tomorrow, Nancy!
"May your September be spacious like a long, slow bloom..."
I've been reading Jennifer Richardson's beautiful, evocative, inspirational prose and photographs on her blog Ripplespeak for a few years now, so when she announced she was giving away a copy of her monthly zine, I crossed my fingers and tossed my comment into the bag.
What a great surprise to hear I'd won! She sent two copies - one for me and one for my mom.
Her words are like sunshine and fresh air, and I know I'll keep her zine close by to read often. You can get your own at her Etsy shop, Ripplesongs.
Wolf is actually a pseudonym. Besides being a gifted writer, he's an anesthesiologist. He wrote about it in an e-book "Breathing for Two" last year. I immediately bought it, of course, but months turned into a year while it sat unread on my computer. (Who has time to read for pleasure when they're starting a business?)
So I finally broke down and bought the audio book last week. Wolf himself read it to me while I worked out and drove around Austin. (Why didn't I do this before?)
Here's my review on Amazon...
"In "Breathing for Two", Wolf Pascoe does a wonderful job weaving his story through the dry medical stuff, making even the history of anesthesiology come alive for the reader. He compels us to care about his patients and root for him when things go wrong. And he's very honest and upfront about his mistakes. I felt I was standing right beside him in anatomy class, and then later, as he watched over his patients. He relates the lessons he has learned in his decades as an anesthesiologist in such a way that they can be applied to everyone and to all areas of life. This is a book I could read over and over again, because I feel each time I'll get something new from it. I recommend the audio version - Wolf is a wonderful reader."
In short, go buy this book!
I wasn't surprised I loved the book, but I never thought I would like audio books, so that was a great surprise. I have two other e-books written by friends getting dusty on my computer. I'm going to see if there are audio versions for those, as well!
A week ago, Tom and I were discussing making that decision about Max. This morning, he made it to the top of the walkway before I did, and while we didn't go on a long walk, he did prance around and play with Belle.
I believe in miracles. They are the best surprises, aren't they?
"I wish you hopeful eyes, fresh wings, and a second wind in the living."
~ Jennifer Richardson
For the past week or so I've been living vicariously through a couple of my kids. Again.
My son and his wife have now experienced the beauty, beer, food, art, sights and sounds of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Amsterdam. And through the wonders of technology, I've been able to tag along through their photos and words, posted on Instagram and Facebook.
Having your kids visit the places of your dreams is the next best thing to seeing them yourself.
They're safe and sound, back in Austin now, although I haven't spoken to them to know that. I learned it while snooping in mom-fashion for updates on their Facebook pages tonight.
I am so very grateful for Facebook and all of the hours of worrying it has saved me.
Besides Facebook and kids arriving home, safe and sound, I've had a pretty sweet-filled week. Here are a few more....
Monday: adolescent cardinal triplets playing "King of the Mountain" on the birdfeeder; much needed rain on your hollow; staying up late, laughing over old clips of Robin Williams with your son
Tuesday: your client closing on her new home; sharing a private dinner at Franklin Barbecue with your son, courtesy of Google; watching the Austin Bomb Squad in action (and surviving!)
Wednesday: making the final payment on your car; reflecting on, and celebrating, the past 32 years with the love of your life
Thursday: watching your old puppy eat, without having to coax him or feed him by hand; dinner at Eddie V's with dear friends you haven't seen in a while
Friday: sitting outside on a clear night, listening to live music with friends; a glimpse of the baby fox living in your hollow
Saturday: receiving an offer on one of your listings and writing an offer for one of your buyers; watching "Sons of Katie Elder" with your mom, then later another movie with your son
Sunday: a taste of biscuits and gravy, thanks to a friend who doesn't mind sharing; helping old homes have a chance at new life; inspiration from the Garden of Eatin'
If you think hard enough, I bet you can think of some sweet! moments from your past week. Be sure to share them in the comments!
It would have been intimidating growing up with such a beautiful big sister if she had been the type to criticize or belittle.
But I was blessed with Brenda.
Sure, she liked to tease me sometimes, and even lost her temper with me once or twice, but given that I was a brat for at least the first ten years of my life...okay, twenty... the way she treated me could qualify her for sainthood.
How many teenage girls let their baby sisters tag along on dates? (Did I mention I was a brat?) How many volunteer to go on school field trips? How many take their little sisters and her friends to the beach, or Astroworld, or on crazy fast spins through the neighborhood in their Volkwagon Bugs? (Don't tell anyone about that one!)
How many buy their family a green artificial Christmas tree and new ornaments to hang on it without being asked because their little sister ended up in the emergency room the year before with asthma triggered by a real tree?
When their parents are overwhelmed with worry and care over their recently paralyzed son, how many big sisters go overboard with gifts for their baby sister to make sure she still has a Merry Christmas?
When their nineteen-year-old sister finishes a stupidly scary book (Amityville Horror!), how many big sisters not only allow her to spend the night, but agree to sleep in the same room with her, as well, despite her husband's grumbling?
Yes, growing up with a big sister who is your best friend is one of the sweetest sweet!s ever. And since today is her birthday, I hope the coming year is jam-packed and overflowing with sweetness for her, because she has given everyone around her so much sweetness all of her life.
And here are a few more sweet!s from the past two weeks (how did I get so far behind?)...
Friday: lunch with a dear long-time friend, and then surprising your mom with a visit from her
Saturday: sleeping in, when you're exhausted; a visit with your mom and son and grandpuppy, all at the same time
Sunday: Garden of Eatin' inspiration
Monday: your old puppy waiting for you on the porch, stronger and eager for a morning walk; the miracle of arriving on time when you've left late and hit lots of traffic; finding just the right place for two of your clients after a long search
Tuesday: watching your old puppy swim again; a friend reminding you to stay positive; seeing your coach on television during her mission trip to help the children on the border; exploring east Austin with your son, including free food and drinks, courtesy of Google; learning how to be a DJ
Wednesday: singing along to the Cowboy and the Princess with your mom; making it to your belly-dancing class after missing two weeks; the neighbor to your lot listing helping you hammer your sign back in when some other useless being has pulled it up and tossed it onto your lot
Thursday: your old puppy's appetite returning, slowly but surely; a friend taking the time to teach your mom how to create newborn knitted caps
Friday: an offer on one of your residential listings and a call on one of your lot listings; issues with Russia calming down as your son and daughter-in-law prepare to leave for a vacation in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Amsterdam
Saturday: negotiations; two more calls on your listings; getting together with long-time friends you've known since high school or beyond
Sunday: catching a young fox in your headlights; Facebook, so you can enjoy photos of your son's trip to Russia
Monday: saving a wolf spider; a closing for one of your buyers!; just the inspiration you need waiting for you in your mailbox, thanks to a dear friend
Tuesday: hiking around two Texas Hill Country acres with a client; Chinese food with friends and great fortune-cookie fortunes
Wednesday: meeting Leon at HEB who give you a free car wash because your car really needs it; finally getting the hang of some of your belly-dancing moves
Thursday: joining forces with other parishioners to make your church Oktoberfest a success
Friday: learning more about the Circuit of the Americas racetrack at a local Chamber of Commerce meeting; getting a tour of the wedding venue that happens to be your neighbor
Saturday: getting to drive your own car after two days, thanks to your husband fixing your flat tire (yes, another one!); a gorgeous sunset and then moonrise over your hollow
Sunday: being able to wish your sister a happy birthday, and let her know how grateful you are for her
An older sister is a friend and defender - a listener, conspirator, a counsellor and a sharer of delights. And sorrows too.
They grow so fast, don't they? One minute they're crawling around on your stylish-at-the-time-rose-colored carpet, exploring and investigating... picking on their older brothers, trying to stir things up...cuddling in your arms because they're still shorter than you and easy to pick up...
...and then suddenly they're wanting to explore far beyond your carpeted floors. And while they may still be picking on their older brothers, and every once in awhile they'll snuggle their head on your shoulder, they're now several inches taller than you and impossible to pick up.
Yes, one minute you're holding them in your arms, counting tiny toes and fingers and praising God for the miracle that is a baby girl, and then somehow in the next you're wishing them a happy 23rd birthday (but still praising God for the miracle that is a baby girl, all grown up.)
Gosh, they grow so fast. And what a sweet! it is to witness the jouney.
A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart.
Happy birthday to my baby girl, my hero these days, who does such an awesome job of taking up my slack around the house so I can focus on my real estate business. May she always believe in herself and her gifts, and see her own dreams come true.
Here are some other sweet!s from this past week. Despite my intentions of writing less more often, the week got totally crazy...but in a good way. Be sure to add your sweet!s in the comments!
Wednesday: precious five-year-old boys who talk to you at Starbucks and tell you about their birthday parties; roadrunners
Thursday: moonlight glazing your hollow; authentic Indian food on a beautiful evening with friends and laughter after a long day; your client's offer accepted after ping-pong-ish negotiations; two new listings
Friday: helping your son's friends find a new home; watching a movie with your son when you've hardly seen him all week
Saturday: meeting the neighbor to one of your new listings and his dog, Otis; the neighbor putting the "For Sale" sign up on the lot while you visit with Otis; watching "Fiddler on the Roof" with your daughter
Sunday: a slow-paced morning; watching your old dog swim and dragonflies play tag from the bank of your pond before church; inspirational boosts from Joel Osteen and the Garden of Eatin'; Reuben sandwiches; brave friends who will spray wasp nests for you; hanging out with dear friends all afternoon
Monday: joining others on committees to make things better; taking time to work out on a crazy, busy day; completing things that have been weighing on you; sisters, for a million reasons
Tuesday: discovering a Deepwater/Deer Park girl in Spicewood, Texas (Debbie, DPHS Class of '71!); rain falling through sunshine; visits with your mom; potential offers on your listings
Wednesday: reflecting on all of the ages of your beautiful daughter, and giving thanks that she's yours
As you twirl through the coming week, I hope you find tons of sweet! moments to treasure!
A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery while on a detour.
...I slept in a little this morning, until the impatient sunlight pestered me awake.
...I walked with the dogs along a country road, safe and free.
...I'll spend time with my family, maybe play some ping-pong with my kids or watch a movie.
Thanks to you...
...I grew up in a country where I (mostly) make my own choices.
...I live in a land where my dreams are limited only by my own lack of creativity, ambition and drive.
...my children face a future where almost anything is possible.
...I'm free to live my life because you gave your own.
I promise I won't forget. I promise I won't take it for granted.
I promise your sacrifice won't be wasted on me.
I wrote that post a few years ago, but it sums up my feelings so well, I wanted to share it again.
Memorial Day always triggers a little extra gratitude in me for a completely different reason, so here's another slightly-altered repost...
We spent that Memorial Day in 1998 with our kids and other families, swimming in a cold river, eating fresh pineapple, grilling burgers. That night we laughed and danced to Johnny Dee and the Rocket '88s.
Then a phone call early on Tuesday morning made me realize how much I had been taking for granted and how quickly life can change directions.
That Tuesday was sixteen years ago today, but at times it feels like yesterday. Tom left for work, expecting it to be like any other day, but it wasn't. He didn't expect the other car to come into his lane, didn't expect to spend a week in the hospital or the summer trying to heal and recover instead of building our home. He didn't expect to live with pain for the next sixteen years.
But that's what happened, whether he expected it or not. And the thing is, we got through it. We built our home... not that summer, but there were other summers... and I'm grateful for that.
We've spent more days swimming in cold water with family and friends, and evenings laughing and dancing. I don't think a day goes by when Tom isn't in some degree of pain, but somehow he moves on and doesn't let it stop him from doing what he needs, or wants, to do.
It wasn't the last unexpected detour in our road we've encountered, and I'm sure there are more waiting for us. I can't say I'm grateful it happened. I'd love to tell you something positive that came from it, but honestly, I haven't been able to see that ray of light yet. Perhaps it's shining where I can't see it. I can only hope so.
But life is just too short for grudges and regrets that burn holes in your heart, for dwelling on the past or the future so long that you miss your today.
It's too short not to pursue your passion even if you only have a few seconds free each day to do it.
Too short to sit back and wait for things to happen, or for someone else to do it, or to make excuses.
Too short not to love with your whole heart, leaving no room for pride or selfishness, always trying to understand, listen, forgive, and ask forgiveness.
Too short not to take care of yourself and those you love.
Life is just too short, period, and too wonderful to take for granted.
Happy 16th anniversary of a second chance, Tom. I love you!
(I've spared you the most graphic images of Tom. His face was split open. You're welcome. I took notes during those long days and turned them into an essay... "In the Aftermath of a Car Crash" )
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
~Gladys Bronwyn Stern
What are you grateful for?
"...Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man.
But sooner or later, the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can."
From "The Victor" by C.W. Longnecker
Yesterday, at long last, with "Pomp and Circumstance" playing in the background, my name was called.
I walked to the waiting dignitaries, shook hands, hugged, accepted my "diploma" and took my place with the other graduates.
It was BOLD graduation day! Whoo-hoo!!
These are just the graduates from my market center...only about half of the total graduates.
I've spent every Thursday for the past seven weeks with an awesome group of people who shared a common goal of moving their real estate business to the next level. I was a proud member of the BOLD Avengers, competing against other teams in various Realtor events.
But Keller William's BOLD program ("Business Objective: Life by Design) turned out to be much more than just a real estate training class. Many of my classmates were taking BOLD for the third, fourth, or fifth time. For a few, this was their tenth time through the program, because each time it helps you to a new level of thinking and business.
It's Positive Thinking on steroids. It's learning to be responsible for the choices you make...and to make choices that direct you to the life you envision for yourself, rather than accepting the default version.
If you've read my blog for long, you know I'm a positive thinker, looking ahead instead of behind as I hit hurdles and have to put my other passions on a shelf... my books and screenplays, blogging, photography...
You patiently tag along, offering encouragement and support.
That's what BOLD is... a huge support system that moves you past your fears and self-doubts... only up-close and personal, with greater challenges, bigger goals, and practical tools.
So when, during the second week of the class, my mom was rushed to the hospital and ultimately had her gall bladder removed, I still achieved my weekly goals by keeping my "attention" on my "intention". No excuses. This is my business.
It's true: You can have a life by design, or by default. It's your choice.
"Aim high, act bold, and live large."
And now it's on to more growth and knowledge: I start a new weekly training on Tuesday...
I spent a long, lazy weekend with friends I've known since high school (several much longer than that)... just lying around a pool, eating, drinking, talking about our health issues, our parent issues, and whatever other issues happened to be on our minds.
(Hence, I learned a whole lot about the benefits of extra virgin coconut oil! Apparently it cures just about everything!)
We took morning walks through the rural neighborhood, explored junk shops in town, and danced on the back porch when the sun went down.
It was absolutely just what I needed... but would you believe I almost backed out, thinking I had way too much work to do?
The call of the Frio River turned out to be louder than the call of responsibility.
I fell in love with the sight, smell, and feel of it the first time I visited Garner State Park more than four decades ago, and couldn't resist the chance to dip my toes in its frigid waters once again.
I've only been back once since high school, and I knew I may never get another opportunity.
Of course, time with my girlfriends is always precious. News that another one of our classmates passed away this week reminded me that I'm not guaranteed other chances to spend time with them, either.
It was a weekend full of sweet moments to treasure, and even though it had me playing catch-up ever since (posting my Sunday Sweet!s on Wednesday!), I know I made the right decision.
Here are some other sweet!s from this past week...
Monday: the sound of rain outside your window as you work; rain that lasts all day and night
Tuesday: glorious, cool clear-sky mornings; your puppy waiting patiently outside your French doors for a glimpse of you; raindrops glistening in the woods like jewels; free pizza when you're really hungry
Wednesday: motivated clients; listening to interesting people; a haircut when you really, really need it; finding out about the Christ Child Society; fundraising dinners with fun ladies, margaritas, live bands, and dancing
Thursday: your husband celebrating another birthday; listening to an expert in your field give away his secrets; lunch on the patio at Kerbey Lane with friends/colleagues
Friday: a road trip with a friend; relaxing by a pool with friends, feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin; remembering to pack your sunscreen and hat for a weekend by a pool
Saturday: the sight, smell, and feel of the Frio River; the way just the smell of a river can take you back a few decades to your youth, to dances under the stars and summer love; exploring junk stores with friends; spending an afternoon being lazy around a pool; dancing on a porch with friends on a beautiful night; unexpected jewelry orders
Sunday: baby deer; your friend's Prius, because it only used 1/4 tank of gas on a road trip; getting back to eating healthy after a weekend of sweets, dips, and carbs
Monday: spotting a spider web across your path before you walk right into it; picking up a new client; helping women find closure after the loss of a friend; a client referral from your son
Tuesday: property tours that take you from Lake Travis and the hill country to downtown Austin; Panera Bread's Asiago Steak Sandwich; therapeutic and educational discussions with colleagues; referrals from friends; double fortune cookie inspiration; a request to photograph a wedding
Wednesday: watching the sun break through morning clouds; hanging out in your office, working, venting, and learning from colleagues; saying thanks to your team leader with a big send-off party; seeing a friend you haven't seen in a long time; discussing men and marriage with your mom and her friends
I hope you all have an awesome week! Share your sweet!s in the comments!
“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
Somewhere in Seattle tonight, one of my favorite couples in the whole wide world are sipping champagne, gazing into each other's eyes, and thinking back to that magical evening exactly one year ago when they said "I do" under the limbs of the big oak tree at Barr Mansion.
It's hard for me to believe my son and his bride are already celebrating their first anniversary ... until I think of all that has happened in those 365 days since The. Most. Beautiful. Wedding. Ever.
If you look to the left of the preacher in the photo above, you'll see my mom in red and Daddy beside her. I'm so grateful they were able to share in the joy of that evening.
"Do not be afraid.
Do not be satisfied with mediocrity.
Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."
~St. John Paul II
That is such a great quote for marriage, isn't it? Or really anything we feel called to do that requires a leap of faith.
I'm adopting it as a daily inspiration for my real estate career, where I have to overcome my natural shyness and remind myself that by helping others I'm helping my family.
Speaking of Saint Pope John Paul II....besides being my son and daughter-in-law's anniversary, today is also his canonization day, along with that of Pope John XXIII. I'm happy about that because each of them deserves some credit for my conversion to Catholicism. And I think everyone who has known me since at least my junior high days will know that my conversion might just qualify as a miracle.
Saint Pope John XXIII was responsible for Vatican II, which among other things, allowed Mass to be said in a country's native language, instead of Latin. He was Pope in 1959, when I was born, but since I was born into a Baptist family, that didn't mean a thing to me.
I really didn't pay any attention to Popes or Catholicism until 1978, when John Paul II became Pope. I was working shiftwork at a chemical plant, and one slow night, I discovered a Time magazine stashed in the boiler lab with a feature article about the new Pope. He fascinated me, and I read everything I could about him and the Catholic church.
I met Tom in 1981 and we married in the Catholic church, but I didn't officially join the church for another thirteen years. Once I did, I could see how my path to Catholicism began all those years ago on a slow night in the boiler lab.
Or maybe on the day I was born. Maybe before that. Who knows?
Whenever it was, I'm grateful to these two for the example they've given on how to live a life of faith and love.
"The future starts today, not tomorrow."
~Pope St. John Paul II
We shared Easter dinner with all of our kids today, no small feat once your kids get married and other families expect to see them on the holidays, too.
It's been a busy week. Besides Mama's hospital adventure, I started an intense 7-week real estate training course, which includes journaling and other homework, like contacting at least 100 people a week voice-to-voice about their real estate needs.
To reach my hundred before the deadline, I even stopped at a gas station Wednesday night and asked all the patrons in there if they knew anyone who was in the market to buy, sell, or invest in real estate.
I made six contacts and got one good lead from it! You just don't know until you ask who needs help... and they don't know you can help them until you tell them.
(Would you believe I used to be shy?)
Anyway, I didn't have time to decorate for Easter until last night, pulling out the beautiful hand-painted eggs my mother gave to my kids every Easter for years...
...displaying Easter photos from the past...
...and setting a few ceramic bunnies around the house.
I have tons; the Easter Bunny always left one in each of my children's baskets... every Easter for years and years...
I'm not sure what he was thinking. Most of them stay boxed up these days. I have more bunnies than I have surface space to put them on!
They're cute, though, aren't they? I'm really not sorry the Easter Bunny left them.
We had planned for Mama to join us for Easter, but had to settle for visiting her after dinner because of her gall bladder surgery earlier this week. The trip down our bumpy dirt road and rock-paved front walk would have caused her excrutiating pain.
She got plenty of goodies, though. I gave her some chocolate eggs yesterday, then my cousin stopped by with a basket of treats and some chocolate-covered strawberries.
My son and his wife took her another basket today. I know the biggest treat for her was getting to see them, though.
Seeing them was a treat for me, too!
Easter is the ultimate sweet!, isn't it? It's proof that we are loved and that miracles can happen... a source of hope that even simple things we believe are dead - a friendship or a dream - can come back to life.
Sweetest of all... the assurance that we can see our loved ones again someday.
Here are a few other sweet!s from the past couple of weeks (playing catch up!) ...
Thursday: investing and believing in yourself; becoming part of a team
Friday: attending a Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the restaurant where you used to work; catching up with your former co-workers and friends you never get to see
Saturday: finally getting a chance to gather up your tax documents
Sunday: the relief you feel when the ambulance takes your mom to the hospital you requested; smart, caring emergency room doctors and nurses; being able to be at your mom's side in an emergency
Monday: your cousin taking off work to be at your side during your mom's surgery
Tuesday: lunch with a sweet friend; the flexibility of working from a hospital room so you can be with your mom
Wednesday: your mom well enough to be released from the hospital; friends who remember your mom at Easter
Thursday: challenging yourself to grow; helping clients find just the right home; the humbling experience of having your feet washed by your priest in a Holy Thursday ceremony
Friday: photographing a cute couple getting married at Chapel Dulcinea (they're ringing the bells after the ceremony in the photo above); recognizing and talking to the chaplain who married your son and daughter-in-law last year; finally seeing a dear friend after 22 years
(I spent hours and hours talking to Terry in the control room of our chemical plant. He's the one who introduced me to Rick Steves! He talked a lot about his kids - what a shock to see them all grown up. Really hit home how long ago those talks were! His daughter is the lovely bride...who looks just like him!)
Saturday: getting two real estate leads in two different grocery stores in two days; a husband who knows how to fix plumbing problems
Sunday: Easter Mass; Easter dinner with your husband and kids, and a hug from your mom; chocolate
I hope all of you who celebrate had a beautiful Easter ... and that the peace and hope of Easter remains in your heart forever.
Here's a snippet of one of my new favorite songs that I think reflects that peace, hope, and faith. I find encouragement, assurance, and inspiration in the words during these days of new beginnings and great unknowns. I hope you do, too.
"You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand"
~ Hillside United
Considering it's past midnight on a long Tuesday...which means it's actually Wednesday...which means this post is at least two days late...this sweet! list is going to be a little more blurry and jumbly than most.
My excuse is I'm a whole year older than I was last week...which means time is going by ten times faster.
The biggest sweet! was turning 55 over the weekend, and celebrating with friends and family. Sure, it seems like only yesterday I was turning 50, and all excited about this new decade, but 55 has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
My friend Joanie started the celebration by buying me lunch on Friday, including my first birthday shot (strawberry cheesecake!)
That night, thanks to another friend, Clint, I experienced Austin's Esther's Follies for the first time. I laughed for a solid hour and a half, and didn't want it to end.
Saturday evening several friends joined me for a night of music and dancing, and then Sunday (my actual birthday) I took my mom to lunch ... because it was kind of a big day for her, too, 55 years ago.
(I believe the older you get, the longer you need to drag out the celebrations, don't you?)
All in all, it was a great weekend following a week full of jumbled, blurry sweet!s... and here they are, in no particular order...
a tower of cookies
laughing with your kids over vaudeville acts and magic tricks
hearing Spirit in the Sky, Bang a Gong, Stairway to Heaven, and Respect in one car ride
a friend buying you a ticket to an amazing seminar...and winning a door prize you can give back to him in repayment
a new Realtor friend sending you the audiotape CD's you hoped you'd win instead of the 4-member team in a charity golf tournament, when you don't play golf
roadsides splashed with colorful wildflowers
sitting around a fire pit with friends, listening to music played by another friend's band
texts and emails from friends, wishing you a happy birthday
spotting a mallard couple taking a break in your pond
investing in yourself and your business
watching Game of Thrones with your son
a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" by your goddaughter, nephews, brother- and sister-in-law, via the phone, from Arizona
using your Realtor skills to help a friend who is going through a tough time
birthday cards waiting in your mailbox
the Austin skyline
I hope you all had a week overflowing in sweet!s, even if they got all blurred and jumbled together like mine. Share them here, if you remember them!
Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest. ~Larry Lorenzoni
This is one of my favorite times of the year, when bluebonnets appear almost overnight, splashing the roadsides as if the sky leaked blue.
I spend a lot of time driving those roads and I've been aching to stop and say hello to our brief visitors. They'll be gone in just a few weeks.
But I'm usually on the verge of being late to my next whatever, so until this weekend, I've just been able to enjoy the blue blur out of my car window.
Still pretty sweet in itself.
However, headed home from a visit with my mom late Saturday afternoon, I swerved off onto a dirt road where a particular blue field had been catching my eye. Just me, my camera, and a lot of bluebonnets.
Well, and some Yellow Bastard Cabbage. That's what a newscaster said this flower is called, although I can't verify that anywhere. I loved the name and couldn't wait to take its picture, too.
Sunday I took advantage of the gorgeous weather to visit my listing on the Pedernales River, where wildflowers - including bluebonnets - are keeping the cactus company.
You can see the river is still down in front of this one acre lot, but weather forecasters say an El Nino is headed our way. Even with the water down, I think the view is beautiful. And oh! the breeze on the cliff.
Now is the time to buy!
Here are some other sweet!s from my past week. Share yours in the comments!
Tuesday: the first rays of the sun sparkling through the trees; a cardinal singing morning praises; spotting a hummingbird out your office window investigating a stepladder
Wednesday: eavesdropping on talkative high schoolers when you're subbing; seeing someone you didn't expect to see and haven't seen in a long time; a windy walk with your puppies; taking a FlickR break
Thursday: investing and believing in yourself; dancing a sitting-down version of the Chicken Dance with your mom and daughter; accordian music; a new lead from your ad in the church bulletin; chicken enchiladas and watching "Saving Mr. Banks" with dear friends; personalized water bottle labels for your open house, thanks to a dear friend
Friday: a hailstorm stopping long enough to say hello before moving along; teaming up with your husband, son, and daughter to clean up after your church's fish fry; watching more "Game of Thrones" with your son
Saturday: a hug and catch-up-visit with a friend you haven't seen in a long while; a free iced Cafe Americana at Starbucks just because you agree to be flexible when they run out of Iced Coffee; exploring houses with clients
Sunday: a gift of a bottle of wine from new clients who make it themselves; your kids helping you with your open house; a visit to Spicewood, Texas on a gorgeous spring day; meeting sweet puppies and their friendly owners when you're checking on one of your listings; fields of bluebonnets
Monday: finally spotting the tiny bird singing a different song, very loudly, on your morning walk; locating your mom's pajama pants and missing pillow in the nursing home laundry; a request for more information about one of your listings; getting buzzed by a hummingbird on your back deck; a good phone visit with a friend
I hope the end of this week finds you closer to whatever goals or dreams you hold in your heart, even if it's something simple, like saying hello to a favorite flower.
For me, my goal is to reach out to at least 100 people by phone or in person to see if I can help them or someone they know with a real estate need. Wish me luck! (If you know of someone, feel free to call me!)
I have a confession: I often forget to write down my sweet!s right when I notice them.
...if I even notice them to begin with.
That's when composing this weekly post of mine becomes a real challenge, but even more important to accomplish.
It forces me to stop and reflect on the seven days just passed ... to dig out the overlooked sweet!s from under the rubble of too-busy-days and a bad memory, to polish them up and set them in a place of honor, befitting special gifts from above, where I can see them and remember.
I encourage you to try it, especially if you've had a week that seemed full of one disappointment after another. I guarantee there were sweet! moments in there, too, waiting to be noticed, to brighten your day, to make you smile or give you hope if you're running dry.
Here are the ones I managed to dig up from my cluttered mind, which I think often resembles those dead weeds up there...
Tuesday: exploring gorgeous homes; enjoying fresh-grilled hamburgers outside near a lake in springtime; your lease clients' application being accepted; your friends sending your mom "Happy St. Patrick's Day!" cards
Wednesday: discovering castles; numbing medications when you're having the second part of a root canal; the balance of your bill being a fraction of what you were expecting to pay
Thursday: a mostly-full moon accompanying you on your morning walk; showing houses to lease clients; driving through Austin on a perfect spring day; news that a friend is pregnant; bluebonnets on the roadsides; helping a friend celebrate her birthday with Chinese food and a movie; discovering Muppet movies
Friday: support, encouragement, and ideas from colleagues; showing houses to buyer clients; beginning the second season of "Game of Thrones" with your son
Saturday: sleeping in; lazy days at home; the redbuds rebounding from the ice storm; more "Game of Thrones"
Sunday: Garden of Eatin' inspiration; your mom feeling better after a night of nausea; someone else cooking dinner; more "Game of Thrones"
Monday: a whole week of sticking to your new morning time-blocked routine; visiting with friends you haven't seen in a long time; puppies and horses; friends who take the time to send your mom sweet cards
“I love finding gems. However I’m not talking about ludicrously expensive diamonds, or priceless sapphires. I mean the impetuous, primitive rushes of passion and love we experience so rarely that they become impossible to ignore.
That overwhelming sense of selflessness and beauty. Hope and desire. Happiness and strength.
These are the moments that define us as people. As individuals.
Should it be falling in love, playing a guitar for the first time, donating to charity, meeting new people, staying up till three in the morning listening to old Bob Marley Vinyls or beating the elite 4 on Pokemon.
Whatever it is, it’s moments like these that are worth more than any gem or diamond. Treasure or material goods.”
― George MacDonald
The simplicity of winter has a deep moral. The return of Nature, after such a career of splendor and prodigality, to habits so simple and austere, is not lost either upon the head or the heart. It is the philosopher coming back from the banquet and the wine to a cup of water and a crust of bread.
~John Burroughs, "The Snow-Walkers," 1866
Tuesday morning, just days after spring-like temperatures which tempted yellow flowers and redbuds alike to blossom,
I woke to a world sparkling in tiny icicles.
That's like life, isn't it? Things are progressing quite well and we take it for granted it will continue.
Then winter returns.
A friend said goodbye to her mother today, so mortality was on my mind more than ever on this first day of Lent.
For my peers, this past year has been one of saying goodbye, of watching loved ones laid to rest, including my own precious Daddy. I guess we've just reached that age.
Ah, if you knew what peace there is in an accepted sorrow!
~ Jeanne Marie Bouvier de la Motte Guyon
Sorrow sits on my shoulder. You might not see it, but it settled there more than a year ago when we said goodbye to my father-in-law, and remained as we watched the steady decline of my parents.
I've come to accept its presence. After all, death is part of life, and feeling sorrow is just proof that we love.
But I've learned that sorrow and joy can live together. In fact, the presence of sorrow often heightens the feeling of joy, by reminding me that life on this earth is short. Time is precious, not to be wasted by half attempts at anything or on things that aren't important in the grand scheme of things.
We offer You our failures,
we offer You attempts;
The gifts not fully given,
the dreams not fully dreamt.
Give our stumblings direction,
give our visions wider view,
An offering of ashes,
An offering to You.
Lent is a time to reflect, to consider what is important in the grand scheme, so you don't waste time on what isn't. To step back and see how well you're doing with the gifts you've been given ... to recognize the rough edges that need sanding ... to take a breath, and refocus ...
... to vow to love fully and completely.
And what could be more important in the grand scheme of things?
"Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor... Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting."
-Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Steve and Lisa, a couple in my church, took it upon themselves to form what they call a "hospitality" ministry several months ago. Almost every Sunday they prepare and offer some special brunch item after each Mass. Just the two of them.
Today it was French toast. Yum!
They also offer fruit in waffle cones, muffins, chocolate-covered strawberries...with culinary presentation the best restaurants would envy. And they do it all through donations or personal funds. The church only paid for upgrades to the kitchen area.
Lisa has turned our once-drab Parish Activity Center into a delightful bistro, with cute wine bottle centerpieces on the table and whimsical artwork on the walls. Thanks to her and Steve, parishioners now linger over coffee, getting to know one another better, instead of rushing home after Mass.
But one of the things I love best about their ministry is the sign above, where Lisa writes a different inspirational, encouraging, motivational message each week. You don't see it until you're leaving the PAC.
A sweet! to send us back off into the world, well-fed and inspired.
A funny thing about this particular message... Before seeing it this morning, I had just thanked another parishioner who I don't know very well for sending a card years ago when Tom was in his serious head-on accident. That little gesture meant so much at the time, and still occupies a large part of my heart, reminding me how important those little things can be to others.
Here are some other sweet!s from the past week...
Monday: friendly, helpful people in the Social Security Administration office; having an iPhone so you can catch up on email when you have a two-hour wait
Tuesday: being able to work from home on icy mornings; finishing a project you've been working on for weeks; restoring email to your iPhone without having to visit the Apple store; earning $300 worth of free jewelry just by hosting a catalog party
Wednesday: a cardinal's morning serenade; your son visiting you at work so you can show him off to your colleagues; a glorious sunset after days of gray skies
Thursday: resolving your mom's banking issues; touring vintage homes; a happy hour at your office; Deep Eddy's Cranberry Vodka
Friday: Yellow Cab vans with wheelchair seating; news that your mom's knee doesn't need surgery, only time to heal; dancing for hours with friends to Disco Inferno (and other great dance songs)
Saturday: sleeping in; enough free time for a leisurely walk with your puppies; peanut butter-chocolate chip muffins, courtesy of your son; your new jewelry waiting in your mailbox; getting to visit with your mom and oldest son at the same time
Sunday: the Garden of Eatin'...food, friends, and inspiration; warm brownies; helping a friend by posting a link to her Etsy shop, where her beautiful driftwood crosses are for sale
(this is the one she gave me for Christmas)
The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.
P.S. Philip Seymour Hoffman, thank you for sharing your talent with us.
I'm sorry we couldn't help you with your problems.
May you find peace now.
Epiphany : a Christian festival held on January 6 in honor of the coming of the three kings to the infant Jesus Christ
: a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way
Yesterday was Epiphany in the Catholic world. It's the 12th day after Christmas, celebrating the visit of the three kings or wise men to the Christ Child, signifying the extension of salvation to the Gentiles.
It's a light shining into darkness, revealing and guiding and reassuring. I love that it's celebrated in January, giving us hope and calming our trepidation as we face the unknowns of the coming year...especially when we look back and see what we survived in the last one.
Sweet!s are like little epiphanies...points of light that shine in the shadows of our day, helping us move forward and not get lost in the darkness. They are there; we just have to see them. Which is pretty sweet! all by itself.
And here are a few more from the past week...
Monday: fiery sunsets; the peace that comes from having your mom close by and the sense that she's in good hands
Tuesday: listing a beautiful home with views of Lake Travis; welcoming the new year watching movies with your kids; adults kids who can share a bottle of champagne with you...and realizing champagne does go with popcorn!
Wednesday: celebrating a new year with your family...including your mom; smoked ribs, a la your husband; time to sit on your deck with family, soaking up the sunshine; a husband who loves your mother enough to build ramps for her wheelchair
Thursday: morning walks with your puppies; sunlight glistening on your pond, now full of water again
Friday: finding time to revise your children's story; watching movies with your kids
Saturday: a day spent helping clients; visits with your mom and cousin at the same time
Sunday: helping to celebrate a dear friend's birthday; restaurant staff who sing "Happy Birthday" with gusto; strawberry cake topped with chocolate covered strawberries; writing critique group meetings with amazing women
Monday: a glimmer of hope that a deal you thought had died might come back alive; your son and husband stopping to visit your mom
Tuesday: the anticipation of a reunion with co-workers from your past who stayed in your life as friends
I hope you notice the points of light along your path. Have a great week!
Keep your flame lit, and you will never feel darkness. ~J. Parker
"When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted."
I greeted 2014 in my home, watching goofy movies (Napoleon Dynamite and Mystery Men), eating popcorn, and drinking champagne with my kids.
(I revealed a lot about myself in that one sentence, didn't I?)
I'm ready for a new year. 2013 wasn't all bad - remember The.Best.Wedding.Ever.? And I have no illusions that 2014 won't carry it's own mix of highs and lows. But I'm ready to move forward, even if I have no idea what's ahead of me.
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.I do not see the road ahead of me.I cannot know for certain where it will end....
My word for 2013 was "Faith", which turned out to be just right for this past year of constant change.
"Faith to keep moving forward, even when my path is obscured. Faith that I'll have the wisdom I need. Faith I'll find a way to be a light for others...that I'll be flexible in the pushes and pulls to come in this next year...that I will know when to fly and when to perch and rest for awhile. Faith that there will be enough money, enough love, enough time. Enough respect and trust. Enough whatever...which shouldn't be hard, because we've always had at least just enough in the past."
Faith is a lifesaving weapon in any year, and I plan to keep it handy, but this year, another word has brazenly stepped forward, volunteering to accompany me through the year...
That's my word for 2014. It actually came knocking halfway through the year, when I took a U-Turn and became a Realtor.
“Leap, and the net will appear.”
Caught in a mix of restlessness, a sense of too little time and too much I want to do, I also feel a strange sense of calm and peace and acceptance of my own limits; I know I don't have to rely on my own strength...
...kind of like when Belle barks into the darkness, feeling big and brave because she hears Max barking behind her.
Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are your own fears.
Life is too short to listen to the whispers of our fears, isn't it? And really, our fears are the only limits we have.
Boldness is a mask for fear, however great.
Yes, I do hear those whispers...those ugly whispers casting doubts on my knowledge, my abilities. But I've learned to shush them, to remember I've been lead upon this path, that time is short and options are few and help is there when I need it.
That others depend on me to cast my fears aside and do my best. To be bold.
Put a grain of boldness into everything you do.
~Baltasar Gracián, translated from Spanish
Do you choose a word? Did you make resolutions? Share them in the comments.
My gift to you for 2014 is Thomas Merton's prayer...perfect for a new year.
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and will never leave me to face my perils alone.
~ Thomas Merton
Let's just say...
I found this card in my mailbox yesterday. Inside it says "Hang in there, girlfriend," with a sweet note of encouragement from my friend Rae. She knows me, she knows my mom, and she knew this transition wouldn't be without some bumps.
It's perfect and made me smile. Thank you, sweet Rae! And thank you to all of you who have offered words of advice and support...or just prayed.
I still feel in my heart that moving my mom closer to me is the best thing for her, which will help me in those times when unhappiness over her life's recent turn of events overwhelms her...and she takes it out on me, while I'm also trying to take care of my family, myself, and my infant business.
Here are a few other sweet! moments from the past week...
Monday: driving into the sunrise and the sunset in one day; bringing your mom to live closer to you, with help from your daughter and son; friends who drop by to offer hugs and words of encouragement; the gift of a handmade driftwood cross from a friend; sharing burgers and fries with your mom and daughter in a Whataburger parking lot; your husband building stone and wooden ramps to make it easier for your mom's wheelchair to get into your house, and his foresight to build doors big enough to accomodate it
Tuesday: your husband's help getting your mom settled in a new place; watching "It's a Wonderful Life" with your husband on Christmas Eve; your kids waking you both up in time to attend Midnight Mass; attending Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve with your family
Wednesday: "Merry Christmas" texts from friends first thing on Christmas morning; the silence in a house when everyone else is still sleeping; your son and daughter-in-law picking up your mom so she can spend Christmas with you; your son and daughter cooking a bacon and egg breakfast for you, and then chopping and grilling all of the peppers and onions to go with the fajita dinner; a game of ping-pong with your son
Thursday: spotting a Mallard duck couple swimming on a nearby pond; being able to stop and see your mom on your way into town to deliver earnest money, and on your way back home; watching Shrek 1 and 2 with your kids
Friday: joining your mom for lunch and meeting some spunky ladies; helping your mom get her hair cut and styled for the first time in months; watching a funny movie with your son and husband
Saturday: visits with your mom becoming part of your daily routine; exploring model homes; a sweet card from a friend in your mailbox; chopping away at much-needed projects; another movie with your son
Sunday: making up for missing Mass by taking a long walk with your son and puppies; watching a funny movie with your mom; nurses who take a personal interest in their patients; great hamburgers, courtesy of your husband
Hoping you can spot silver linings in those inevitable gray clouds life blows our way.
"'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise."
Pumpkin bread is baking in my oven as I type. Several small loaves and one larger Texas-sized ceramic dish I bought years ago near Round Top. My friend Ann bought one just like it.
Would you believe I've never used it for baking until this year? I made a Texas-shaped gingerbread earlier this week, and now pumpkin bread.
Who knew, so many years ago when I bought it, that I was preparing for this Christmas season, when Texas-shaped bread would be such a cute gift for my real estate clients?
The spicy scent drifts to me from the kitchen, making me eager for a taste. Most of the loaves will be gifts, but I know we'll cut into one of them right out of the oven.
I've been in a flurry of preparation, lately, trying to prepare for Christmas and the new year. Kind of like spring fever jitters or pregnancy nesting.
I've been getting systems, a budget, and a 2014 plan in place for my business...sorting my stuff into "sell", "give", or "keep" stacks...taking steps to move my mom closer to us...planning another reunion with my old DuPont gang...and preparing for Christmas in all of the outward ways - the cards, the tree, the decorations, the gingerbread and pumpkin bread.
Advent is a time of spiritual preparation, though, so I've been working on that, too, with prayer and daily readings, but I keep stumbling over patience... with myself, with others, with results.
At a party Saturday night, a friend told me how she illustrated Advent for the children in her Sunday school class by baking gingerbread. She showed them how you take different specific ingredients, how you measure them and blend together just right, how you prepare pans and an oven for the baking, then you wait, while the house fills with that heavenly scent of ginger and warmth and spices, making your mouth water and your tummy growl in anticipation.
The smell isn't the end, just a sign that it is coming, one that makes you eager to see and taste the finished results. But you have to be patient.
And so I'm reminded to open up my spiritual senses, to be aware of the miracles and blessings and signs of God's presence that I encounter every day...signs of something greater to come...although too often I don't notice them in my busy-ness.
I'm reminded to prepare, to be awake and to be patient...because patience is rewarded.
"Patience with others is Love, Patience with self is Hope, Patience with God is Faith."
My socks may not match, but my feet are always warm.
The drought took its toll on many of the oak trees in the Hollow. But Tom found the good in that this past weekend by cutting up the dead ones into woodburning stove sized pieces.
Our woodpile had dwindled so much that we'd actually resorted to turning on the heat for these cold, cold nights, but thanks to Tom, his new chainsaw blades, and Daniel for helping to carry and stack, we have a beautiful, replinished stack just outside the back door.
Now that's a sweet! sight!
Here are a few other sweet!s from the past week...
Tuesday: a holiday office open house; making it to all four of the houses on your property tour; getting a quick haircut even though you were way late for your appointment because you couldn't find the new salon location; finally getting a new doctor for your mom; a potential client from phone duty; James Taylor and Carole King
Wednesday: indoor plumbing and hot water heaters, especially on cold mornings; a reuben sandwich and cup of corn chowder from the Avenue B Grocery; holiday open houses full of familiar faces; doctors who reply to emails; a surprise gift from your husband to make planting For Sale signs easier
Thursday: working from home; an Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass, followed by a dinner of homemade tamales and pan dulce
Friday: Friday the 13ths, period; your Christmas cards finally ready to mail; finding Christmas cards from others in your mailbox
Saturday: trading old books for hard cash...and resisting the temptation to spend it on more old books; dancing to live music, catching up with good friends, and watching a sky light drift into the stars
Sunday: Giving Trees; a partially clean house dotted and dripping with shiny Christmas memories; smoked turkey for dinner, thanks to your husband
Monday: a frost-covered morning; eating Chick-fil-A in a parking lot with your daughter, watching people pass on the street; a dear friend stopping to check on your mom for you; warm gingerbread, fresh from the oven
Wishing you plenty of warmth and sweetness in the week ahead!
"And I had but one penny in the world. Thou should’st have it to buy gingerbread."
– William Shakespeare, Love’s Labours Lost
After several days of gray skies and temperatures below freezing, the sun finally made an appearance yesterday afternoon. And the clouds even stayed away long enough for me to say hello to a half moon and a sky full of stars that dripped all the way to the tree tops.
Hallelujah! My spirit soars under a clear sky, and even though this morning I woke to another gray sky and cold drizzle, I feel recharged.
Here are some other sweet!s from my past week...
Monday: finding a lucky penny, reminding you "In God We Trust" just when you're feeling overwhelmed; getting a lease client while on phone duty; your first real estate paycheck; finally finishing the weeding of your library
Tuesday: remembering the day you became a mother, and wishing your oldest a happy birthday; touring a million dollar home set in the hills near Austin; juniper trees lining the roadsides decorated for Christmas; a long-overdue re-blonding
Wednesday: guidance for your 2014 business plan; God's art in the sky, made of wind and clouds
Thursday: a bus ride with colleagues to Fredericksburg, Texas; the Christmas light displays in Johnson City
Friday: dry roads so you can attend your company party and enjoy dancing, photo booth sessions, making new friends, and chocolate fountains
Saturday: your sister home safe after a cruise; not having to leave your house except to walk your puppies
Sunday: your husband walking in with an armload of firewood on a cold morning, and assurance that his car is loaded down with more; a telephone visit with your sister-in-law, even if it isn't all great news; your son learning how to make Terry Boer's Chicken and Rice casserole; an evening of visiting with friends; couples in their 80's who are still tearing up the dance floor
Monday: attending a class that supports your belief that a Realtor is more public servant than salesperson; getting a new customer while your watch gets a new battery in the mall; nurses who put their patients above job security
How's the weather where you are?
If it's cold and gray, I hope you find a way to recharge, too! (Try dancing!)
There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good.
~ Edwin Denby
We couldn't have asked for better weather in Austin, Texas on Thanksgiving Day. Clear blue skies, a touch of autumn in the breeze...perfect for throwing open the doors to cool off a small kitchen full of cooks trying to get dinner on the table.
I'm so grateful we were able to stay here and celebrate in my son and his wife's home, along with her family, christening it with love and gratitude and wishes for many happy Thanksgivings in the years to come.
I'm also grateful my sister, niece, and nephew made sure my mom had a wonderful Thanksgiving in her home, and that I was able to hop in the car the next morning with my kids and drive to Houston to spend time with her myself.
We didn't repeat Thanksgiving dinner. Instead we ate Mexican food and kolaches on our old kitchen table, drank lots of coffee, and spent hours reminiscing, laughing, watching the squirrels in the back yard, and looking at photos.
I missed Daddy's smile and hug, of course, but I felt him with us, and all things considered, our visit was a sweet memory to tuck into my heart.
I hope your Thanksgiving weekend was full of sweet memories for you to tuck away and savor.
Here are a few other sweet!s from my past week. Share yours in the comments!
Tuesday: exploring houses with friends; sunshine after days of rain; your first transaction approved for payment; finding your first holiday card in the mailbox
Wednesday: making your mom's cornbread dressing; your son volunteering to chop all of the onions and celery for the dressing; leftover pumpkin pie filling baked by itself in a small casserole and enjoyed warm from the oven
Thursday: helping your son and daughter-in-law celebrate their first married Thanksgiving in their home; teaming up with your son in a game of beanbag toss (otherwise known as 'corn hole'?); your grown kids still loving to color with markers and pencils
Friday: a road trip with your kids; your mom's hugs and kisses; staying up late with your daughter watching ConAir and Tombstone; Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday
Saturday: kolaches for breakfast; fixing your mom's hair; a surprise visit from your mom's old neighbors; home again, safe and sound
Sunday: frogs singing to you on your morning walk; leftover ham and cornbread dressing and pumpkin pie; an afternoon free to finish sorting, cleaning, and (fingers-crossed) decorate for Christmas
Thou hast given so much to me, give one thing more - a grateful heart; not thankful when it pleaseth me, as if Thy blessings had spare days, but such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
~ George Herbert
P.S. The mother of some of my dear friends was in a bad car accident yesterday. She's in serious condition. Please say a prayer for her!
Today is my beautiful Mama's birthday. Soon I'll be on my way to Houston to celebrate another year of having her in my life.
I hope the coming year will be full of laughter and happiness for her. She's been through so many changes this past year, the toughest being having to say goodbye to the love of her life, my Daddy, and I hope she gets a little break.
It hasn't been an easy goodbye or transition to life without him. Some days are easier than others. Even though there were many times in my life when I thought their marriage was over, their love for each other pulled them through. It was a fierce love, stronger than any differences between them.
I see that strength in all my mom does. Over the past few weeks since we lost Daddy, I've witnessed more laughter than tears, and a steely determination to continue on, even if she doesn't quite see the point. She trusts that God has his reasons, and more importantly, that He will give her whatever strength she needs for the road ahead.
I believe that's called Faith, and it's Lesson #82 on this list I began compiling several years ago in honor of her 77th birthday. It's easy to add to it every year with a mother like mine, and I'm so grateful it continues to grow.
The mother's heart is the child's school-room.
~Henry Ward Beecher
(With some of her kids, grandkids...and Daddy...on Mother's Day)
Happy birthday, Mama, with much love and gratitude!
Things Mama has taught me...
This is a repost. I hope one day I can stop reposting it...
Halloween is behind us. According to the calendar, the next holiday here in the states is Veteran's Day, followed by Thanksgiving, but have you noticed there are already Christmas commercials on the TV and jingle bells are taking over the stores?
For the fourth year in a row, I'm joining blogger "Suldog" Jim Sullivan in his outspoken stance on giving Thanksgiving its due time before we're all wrapped up in red and green and tied with a fancy bow.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven...
I wrote this last year, and the year before, but it's still just as true: This whole campaign isn't just about Thanksgiving. It's about time and seasons and silence and space and simplifying.
It's about focusing on one thing at a time and giving it all you've got, everything it deserves. It's about truly experiencing a season, thinking about what it means and being in the moment, not rushing ahead.
If you feel you don't have enough time to prepare for Christmas if you wait until after Thanksgiving, perhaps you're making it too complicated. Trying to do too much. Focusing on the wrapping on the box instead of what's inside.
Time goes by too fast as it is and life has gotten more and more complicated.
I’ve learned that we can do anything, but we can’t do everything… at least not at the same time. Timing is everything.
Timing is everything. Let's take time to relish and focus. Let's slow down and simplify. Let's take things one at a time.
But, as one friend said, "The only way you will EVER change this is to hit them in the pocketbook." So please join your voice and your pocketbook with me to remind the retailers that...
Okay, what the heck. While you're at it, click on the little "Share This" button at the bottom of my post to share it on Google+ or Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or wherever you like to share.
Help spread the word so our voices get LOUD.
Thanksgiving is the holiday of peace, the celebration of work and the simple life... a true folk-festival that speaks the poetry of the turn of the seasons, the beauty of seedtime and harvest, the ripe product of the year - and the deep, deep connection of all these things with God.
~Ray Stannard Baker (David Grayson)
"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. "
Today is the 10th Blog Blast for Peace Day, a worldwide plead for peace...a responsibility not put on governments alone, but on each one of us.
Dona Nobis Pacem...grant us peace.
We are the seeds of peace. May we all allow ourselves to grow, and by our example, spread the message. Peace walks hand-in-hand with love.
Here's an example of someone who has peace in his heart and knows he is called to share it...
Peace be with you...
...and may peace flow out of you to everyone around you, so that they may share it, too.
"Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me."
~Seymour Miller & Jill Jackson
It wasn't a dramatic sunset, just soft faded blues and pinks, that grew deeper and darker as the sun slipped out of sight.
I could have gone to the movies with friends tonight. Instead, I opted to stay home and take care of some crabby gray-haired to-do's and head off a few youngsters that I can tell will be troublemakers if I don't put them in their place now.
My challenge these days is time management, making sure I use that valuable resource in the best way possible, taking care of myself as well as the never-ending, ever-increasing, to-do's that come with learning a new industry, building a new business, while trying to maintain the ones I've already got going...and have a life.
And that's why I poured a glass of wine and headed out to the back deck to my rocking chair tonight to take a deep breath, just as the sky started it's quiet show...
Just a thirty minute investment that reaped the energy and motivation I needed to finish a project.
(Thank you to my sweet friend, Ann, who texted me a portion of the 59th Street Bridge Song lyrics this morning when I told her how busy I had been lately...reminding me to at least stop a minute to watch a sunset.)
Life, I love you. All is groovy.
When it rains, you grow.
~ On a local church sign
I woke to the sound of rain Sunday morning.
Such a sweet sound when you live near a lake that now resembles a creek after months...well, years...of too much sunshine and too little precipitation.
Tonight the frogs living near our pond are singing in celebration. Another sweet sound.
The rain has slowed for now, allowing the half moon to come out and smile on us tonight, but more rain is expected to continue off and on for the next several days.
I admit if we're going to have too much of something, I would rather have too much sunshine, but I realize that to be healthy, whether you're human or the Earth, you need some of each.
Many a man curses the rain that falls upon his head, and knows not that it brings abundance to drive away the hunger.
Here are some other sweet!s from my past week...
Monday: working out before letting your day get away from you; pink and blue variegated sunrise skies; brisk mornings and frisky puppies; discovering Asian Fusion; warm Turtle brownies, courtesy of your daughter
Tuesday: your husband making an old, dirty rug you love look brand new with a pressure washer; a sale from your etsy shop; free lunches; property tours; a friend calling to check on you
Wednesday: discussing marketing strategies with your son; photo shoots; getting to see a dear friend while she's in town, meeting her colleagues, and finally (sort of) riding a mechanical bull
Thursday: making new connections; chipping away in all to-do areas; a check in your mailbox; being able to talk to your mom at least once every day
Friday: new buds on your crape myrtles; learning something new and making new friends every day; making time to work on your children's story for the first time in a couple of months
Saturday: free training; your son's friend arriving just in time to help carry groceries into the house; joining your writing group at an ice cream parlor to celebrate meeting our writing goals; watching "Cactus Flower" while making cyclops cookies with your son
Sunday: waking to the sound of rain; being able to wish your son a happy 25th birthday in person; your son wanting to help a stray dog; being able to make someone happy with simple gifts like fried chicken tenders you only make once or twice a year on special occasions; making it to a writer's group meeting for the first time in ages; watching Galaxy Quest with your son
Monday: yellow and purple wildflowers decorating the roadsides; a second day of rain; the healthy birth of a brand-new niece; getting to know members of your church better through a Bible study; capturing the sight of a frog hopping in your car headlights
What sweet!s did you collect this week? I hope all of you have a balance of whatever you need to help you grow!
'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near?
What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?
~ Laura Mixon Story
I spotted it when I stepped out onto the front porch one morning this past week, in between trips to Houston. I noticed the fossil first, thinking it had fallen from its spot on the windowsill above the bench where it now rested.
Then I realized it had been placed there to hold down a handwritten note.
"...I wanted to drop you a note and let you know you and your family are in my prayers..."
It was from my longtime friend George. He has been making multiple trips from Houston to San Angelo to see his mother-in-law, who they discovered had lung cancer earlier this summer, and tries to vary it by taking different routes.
He left the note on Sunday. On Monday, a few hours after I found the note, his mother-in-law passed away. On Tuesday, while I said my last goodbye to my Daddy, he was on his way to San Angelo again, to help his wife say goodbye to her mother.
Considering my house is a mile down a dirt road, off of a small highway that twists and turns and isn't a shortcut between San Angelo and Houston by any means, it's a huge honor that he took the time to go that way to ease my pain over losing my dad, especially when he knew I wasn't home.
A few years ago in a post about friendship, I spoke of it as a garden that needs to be watered. Ever since then, we've referred to our infrequent emails as 'watering the garden'.
So on the back of the note he sketched a flower and added these words: "You are a daisy in my garden...May God continue to shine through you and give you Peace...Can you feel the water?"
All those years ago, when we worked on the high school yearbook together and planned to go sky-diving, we never imagined that one day our friendship would include these days of mourning each other's losses. And I'm glad we didn't.
However, I am so very grateful we're still friends, flowers in each other's gardens.
(Please keep George, his wife, and their family in your prayers!)
A good friend is a connection to life -
a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.
Here are a few other bittersweets from my past week...
Sunday: joining with your siblings to support your mom after your father's passing; a safe journey home after a heartbreaking weekend
Monday: a day to immerse yourself in images from your father's life that will become a slideshow memorial; a safe journey back to your childhood home with two of your kids, and the safe arrival of two more
Tuesday: helping your mom prepare for your dad's funeral; an ice chest full of eggs, bacon, and biscuits waiting on your parents' doorstep, courtesy of a friend; a limo driver named Paul, who provides just the right amount of conversation on a tough day; friends who help you mourn your father; "Day is Done" by a solitary trumpet, in honor of your father's service to his country
Wednesday: breakfast, courtesy of and the friend who left the ice chest full of food on the porch the day before, and your son, who took his Granddaddy's place at the stove; fitting the huge schefflera plant from your Divas and other plants from friends into your car trunk; a safe journey home; Whataburger in LaGrange at sunset with your kids
Thursday: winning a book you wanted in a contest in your lead generation class; love, in the form of cards, waiting for you in your mailbox
Friday: lunch with new friends/colleagues; your new business cards waiting for you on the front porch; a walk with your puppies at sunset
Saturday: a day at home to catch your breath; your cousin traveling to see your mom and take her to lunch; tiny purple flowers shaped like Easter lilies
Sunday: Mass with your kids and hugs from your friends; cleaning and organizing sprees, even if they only make a dent; your husband making it home, safe and sound, after his own long journey to support his brother during a sad time
I hope your week has been full of more sweet!s than bittersweets. Share them here! If nothing else, look around at those you call friends, and give thanks.
“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”
~ Shauna Niequist
Saturday morning my dad finally got an answer to his prayers: He went to be with the Lord.
In his honor, I'm reposting this letter I wrote to him here a few years ago...
All of my life, you've been right here, holding my hand - loose when I needed loose, tight when I needed tight - but never letting go.
I disappointed you at times over the years (Oh, yes I did and you know it!) but you never stopped believing in me, never stopped wanting the best for me or wanting me to be the best I could be.
You believed in me even when I stopped believing in myself.
You taught me what unconditional love really means. Even when I knew I had disappointed you...
(Remember when I hit that parked truck with my brand new Toyota Celica, my graduation present from you and Mama? Remember when I decided to flush my scholarship down the drain and drop out of college to work in a chemical plant?)
...I never once, not once, doubted your love.
You never said a word, never chewed me out for being stupid and irresponsible (even though I deserved it) but just kept holding my hand, offering whatever help and support I would accept.
Like you, I love reading, watching a good Western, history, traveling, kitschy tourist spots, pecans, rocks, and sweating in the sun. I inherited your silliness, impulsiveness, teasing/mean streak, and flash-fire temper.
I hope I also inherited your generosity, loyalty, and tenderness.
With Mama, you raised me to be confident, courageous and independent, willing to test myself, push myself, try new things, truly believing I could do anything I wanted to do because you believed it.
You raised me the same as you raised the boys, with no discernible difference related to gender. No matter what I did, or still do, your pride is palpable. It's a fuel that keeps me chasing my old dreams and discovering new ones.
Memories tied to you are the treasure of my life...
...Thank you for my sunflower garden, my orange and green painted bedroom, introducing me to ping-pong, Black Beauty, Leon Uris, James Michener and National Geographic.
Thank you for taking beginner square dance lessons with me and letting me chop down that tree when I was sixteen.
Thanks for teaching me to drive, to play tennis, and for trying to teach me to bowl and play golf. Thanks for shuttling me and my friends to the movies and basketball tournaments, and for finding some of them jobs at your chemical plant.
You never thought you were special - you still don't - but let me assure you, you are, and I thank God every day for making you my Daddy and giving me (and now my kids) so much time here on Earth with you.
I look forward to the day I again feel your hug and see the twinkle in your eye, but for now, I carry them in my heart.
Rest in peace, dear Daddy. You deserve it.
I love you.
He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.
~Clarence Budington Kelland
Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance.
~Ruth E. Renkel
I love my father as the stars — he's a bright shining example and a happy twinkling in my heart.
Thank you all for the many prayers you've offered for him and my family this past year. Now please continue to keep my mom in your prayers as she faces life without him by her side after almost 64 years together.
I'm grateful I've been able to spend so much time with Daddy this past year, even if a lot of it was in ERs, hospital rooms, and doctor's offices.
I'm especially grateful that I was able to tell him I love him (and hear him say it back to me) on the telephone Friday.
Don't ever take the time you have with loved ones for granted or miss a chance to say "I love you!"
Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes. ~Gloria Naylor
September has always been one of my favorite months.
The air feels a little drier, crisper...summer temperatures begin their slow (and short, in Texas) descent into winter...the sky sheds its faded denim and dresses in vibrant azure. I'm eager to spend every minute of September outside, enjoying it all.
But there are other reasons I love September...
I first met Tom on a September evening, thirty-two years ago. We spent the last week of that month getting to know each other and falling in love.
It was in September fourteen years ago that I first gathered a group of other exhausted moms for what became an annual retreat in Port Aransas. September is the sound of waves washing onto a sandy beach, the last kiss of summer sun on my skin, hours of reading or wandering with my camera, four days of laughter and a night of dancing with girlfriends.
When I was growing up, school didn't start until after Labor Day and three months of summer...enough free time to grow weary of the same neighborhood friends and Monopoly games that last for days...so September meant new clothes, new friends, and new beginnings.
Now that I'm in a state of reinvention as a real estate agent, September is still a time for new beginnings and new friends. Every day I'm pulling on seldom worn 'nice' clothes, attending classes and training, and meeting so many people, both newbies like me and experienced agents, willing to help me along this path.
It's just making Septembers even sweeter.
Here are a few sweet! moments I noted from the past week. Please be sure to add yours in the comments!
Monday: a pond full of Snow-On-the-Prairie; your husband's help getting your puppy into the car for her check-up; people who are willing to share their methods of success; the comfort of friends when you hear of another friend's death
Tuesday: continuing to learn new things when you're 54; krispy kreme donuts; offers of help in your new career
Wednesday: helpful salesmen; your very own laptop; the arrival of your official real estate license; potential clients; spotting a bunny on your evening walk; your puppy not spotting the bunny
Thursday: the glint of morning sunlight on a dove's wing; meeting new people; cake and cookies and learning; friends who help you mourn the deaths of a two friends in one week; a letter in the mail
Friday: soft gray mornings; your old puppy running and playing with his puppy; your son sending you marketing tips for your new real estate business; spotting a creative sign while you're stuck in traffic; new purple flowers
Saturday: a long overdue haircut by Michael; walking at dusk with your puppy; making progress on your real estate to-do list, even if it feels like you're crawling along; nagging checking up on a longtime friend with some help issues; reconnecting with two old friends on Facebook, one from your chemical plant days and another from high school
Sunday: attending Mass with your husband and 1/2 of your kids; homilies that touch on things that have been on your mind the past week; being able to delegate puppy care when you have tons of stuff to do
I hope this September overflows in sweetness for you!
"The happiness of life is
made up of minute fractions - the little, soon-forgotten charities of a kiss or
a smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment, and the countless infinitesimals
of pleasurable and genial feeling."
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge
I had to report for jury duty on Monday. It was in the old Travis County Courthouse, which to me is what a courthouse and jury room should look like...straight out of an old Perry Mason episode.
It was a wonderful process. The judge was very passionate and took lots of time explaining the process to us. I didn't really want to get picked (I'm in the middle of the whole real estate license thing and need to start making money!) but I decided to just be honest and see what happened.
I didn't get picked. Maybe I was too honest.
I was relieved in a way...but by then I was involved and interested in the case, so I also felt rejected!
But since I didn't get picked for jury duty, I was free to take the State Exam for real estate on Wednesday.
I passed! I barely crossed the line on one part, but what matters is I did cross it. Whew! Now the real education begins, so I kept the momentum going and signed with an agency yesterday. Training begins next week.
I'm ready to hit the ground running!
There's a dead deer lying half in, half out of our creek, with a huge chunk of its rear-end missing. I'll spare you the photo of it I took to send to Tom.
Well, I'm not sure how much of the deer is still down there, actually. For the past two days coyotes have been fighting over it all night, yapping and yapping and making our poor puppies feel obligated to bark at them from our back deck.
I'm glad they don't feel obligated to run down there!
During the day, vultures circle round and round, so close to the house that I hear the whoosh-whoosh of their wings. They glide down under the trees to where the deer is (I can't see it from the house, thank goodness) and then I hear a lot more loud noises.
Of course, the puppies feel obligated to bark at them, too.
I've taken a lot of photos of "interesting" scat on our road lately (scat = poop). There's a great site I discovered where you can identify what animal it came from. I'll spare you those photos, too. You'll just have to trust me that we've had coyote and fox and owl...and something much larger...crossing our road lately.
...Which makes me very nervous for Max with his wobbly hips and legs, poor old puppy, what with the dead (full-sized antlered) deer down there by the creek .
Do you get songs stuck in your head? I have one running right now, and I'm grateful for it.
It's "Help Me Find It" by Sidewalk Prophets. Here are some of the lyrics playing in my head...very reassuring and calming in these days when there are so many things going on and decisions need to be made...
If there's a road I should walk
Help me find it.
If I need to be still
Give me peace for the moment.
And here's the song itself, below. If you're feeling stressed and /or need help figuring out what direction to head, I recommend it!
I hope you have a wonderful Friday and a beautiful weekend!
(Linking up with Nancy at A Rural Journal's Random 5 Friday)
The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.
These days, more than ever, I'm trying stay focused on the minute I'm standing in...to not let my mind replay 'what-if's' from the past, ad nauseam, or drift too far into future what-if's that just cause worry and needless stress...
...because balance has been thrown all out of whack for the time being. Between class and studying and my job and quick trips to see my parents and kids moving back home, I've had no time for regular morning walks or work-outs or works-in-progress.
My body is feeling it. I have a summer cold, the first time I've been sick in ages.
Thank goodness the pace has slowed. I relished my walk this morning and quit procrastinating on paying bills tonight in time to rock in my chair on the deck with a dog snoozing beside me, watching the sun slip below the horizon, behind silhouetted trees and telephone poles.
I watched as it pull its swirling scarves of pink and salmon behind it until there was nothing left but a deep azure sky...and the buzzing of mosquitoes in my ear.
It's hard to believe tomorrow is the first day of August. The month has a big question mark stamped on it.
It will be a month of transition...finishing up classes and getting my real estate license, starting on a real career for perhaps the first time in my life, while trying to emotionally support my parents and kids as they face big life transitions at the same time.
It won't be easy, but it will be rewarding, and what more could we ask from life?
I made another quick trip to see my parents this weekend, accompanied by a son and daughter this time who pitched in to help with dishes and cleaning.
I'm so blessed that I still have my parents...that I only live four hours away so I can make quick overnight trips to see them...and that I have kids who don't hesitate to give up a weekend to go see their grandparents and help them out.
When we arrived and I leaned in to give Daddy a hug, he embraced me so tight and fierce, held on so long, and I relished every second of it, reluctant to break apart from the warmth of him and the strength in his arms. I'll carry that hug in my heart the rest of my life.
A hug like that, especially from your daddy, is one of the sweetest things ever, ever, ever.
Here are a few other gems I tucked into my heart this week...
Monday: Rudy's breakfast tacos, especially when they're free; managing to stay awake in your night class, after spending all day in another class; your caliche road glowing in the light of a full moon; your son home for a visit
Tuesday: your son volunteering to feed your puppies so you're not late to class, since he has a day off; finally reaching your mom after playing phone tag; passing the test for your third real estate course; the full moon playing peek-a-boo with you through the trees
Wednesday: spotting a painted bunting on the birdfeeder; only getting a warning instead of a speeding ticket on your way home after night class
Thursday: breakfast frittatas and homemade hash browns; passing your fourth real estate course exam; remembering to slow down on your way home
Friday: beginning to check out different real estate agencies so you can decide which one to work with; finally connecting with an AT&T representative who takes the time to do the math and, therefore, correct your phone bill, after at least four unsuccessful attempts with other reps; another road trip with 2/3 of your kids; staying up late, laughing at old episodes of "Friends" with your daughter
Saturday: being a help to your parents; your Daddy's hugs and your Mama's laughter; sons and daughters who enjoy spending time with their grandparents; watching your son shave your daddy; Whataburgers and salty french fries
Sunday: discovering that some of your customers are fellow parishioners of your church; hunting for a blue-tailed skink with your husband and camera, even if you don't find him, because you see another cool lizard and notice that your crape myrtle is finally blossoming!
I hope you all have a pockets full of sweet! moments you've collected along your path!
"Kiss your life.
Accept it, just as it is. Today. Now.
So that those moments of happiness you're waiting for don't pass you by."
We've been on a rollercoaster ride with my parents the past two days...my sister, Brenda, on the front lines with them, dealing with EMS and emergency rooms...me on the receiving end of texts and phone updates from her.
It started yesterday, when Daddy apparently had a mini-stroke. The sweet! of it is he made it home from the grocery store before it really hit, and by the time EMS arrived, he had recovered.
But during the excitement, my mom fell. She seemed okay at the time, and EMS helped her back into her wheelchair, but this morning when Brenda checked on her and Daddy after church, Mama couldn't put her weight on her left hip. EMS made another visit to the house, but this time whisked Mama off to the hospital, Brenda and Daddy in a car close behind them.
Thank God (literally!) Mama's hip isn't fractured. (I tell you what, that woman has bones of steel!)
But while there, a nurse noticed Daddy looking a little saggy and droopy on one side of his face and body. Sure enough, he was having another mini-stroke. They admitted him, too, and for a time the texts and calls I received today from my sister made me think I needed to head straight to Houston right after work if I wanted to tell my Daddy goodbye one last time.
But...another sweet!...his CAT scan showed no blood on the brain. Daddy perked up, talked to my sister, and asked for a glass of milk. The doctor was concerned about his blood sugar and blood pressure, but that's a broken record I've been listening to, and singing along with, the past ten months.
Seeing as how my Daddy doesn't think he needs his diabetes or heart medicine, the record is bound to start skipping more and more. We're thinking it's time to get firm with those two about moving out of their home of 50+ years into some kind of assisted living.
Please tell me...how do you practice tough love on your parents?
I would appreciate your prayers, but the good thing is, we don't have to do anything about it tonight, so I'm just giving thanks that Mama doesn't have a fractured hip and I don't have to rush to Houston.
Those are the sweet!est things I can imagine right now. But here are a few others from the past week...
Sunday: time between church and work to take your puppies for a swim in the backyard "pool"; a chance to meet with your writing group again after several missed meetings
Monday: working in your church again; watching rain pouring down outside of your window; starting your second real estate class, moving closer to your goal; a successful Silpada party, where you earn enough to pay 1/4 of your real estate class expense, plus get a beautiful silver bracelet for free; photos of your bff's brand-new grandson
Tuesday: people who volunteer for your church; church bells that play "How Great Thou Art" and other hymns; your son and daughter-in-law buying their first home
Wednesday: realizing the coral snake lying a few feet away is dead; visiting with retirees who hang around after communion services, drinking coffee; a gift of tomatoes, squash, and eggplant, fresh from a garden; your story about your dad published on savvydad.com
Thursday: a 95 on your second real estate final; a classmate with jumper cables when you discover your car battery is dead after class; a gorgeous sunset keeping you company on the way home
Friday: plants that smell like spearment; cardinals playing tag all around you; arriving at work early enough to receive communion; a long therapeutic girl-talk visit with a friend
Saturday: great customers all day long; an overnight visit with your son, daughter-in-law, and grandpuppy
Sunday: after a rollercoaster day of texts from your sister about your parents, by the end of it your mom does NOT have a fractured hip, your dad's CAT scan looks good, and you don't have to be torn about whether to take off work to see them; your husband making brownies while you're at work
This morning at church we had a visiting priest, originally from Nigeria - Father Justin Udomah. He told a great story about a pickpocket stealing his wallet, leaving him stranded in a small town...how he asked for help at a local church but was turned down.
He said he was tempted to get angry, but instead, decided then and there that he would never turn away anyone in need. He used the experience to illustrate the story of the Good Samaritan and how we should help each other, but he also stressed the importance of turning the negative in our lives into positive results.
I really liked that.
If you find you have a hard time finding the sweet! moments in your day, or turning the negative into positive, I recommend a book that will help: Basket of Blessings: 31 Days to a More Grateful Heart , by Karen O'Connor. (Full disclosure: this is an Amazon Affiliate link, but I wouldn't offer it if I didn't really recommend it!)
I received it in a box of books Tom brought me from my mother-in-law. It was the first one I read, and now I'm re-reading it, even though I've already developed the habit of looking for those sweet! moments in my day. I'm always looking for inspiration. This book helps you learn to recognize the blessings all around you and make gratitude part of your every day life.
I hope your week overflows wth sweet! moments...a basket overflowing with blessings.
Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture.
I've captured Belle leaping three days in a row now. All I had to do was write about how I kept getting distracted at the last minute, and BOOM! now I stay focused.
It took about fifty years, but I've finally figured out how to manipulate myself. How do you trick, er, train yourself?
(I just said I've captured the photos...not that they were any good!)
A scorpion stung Tom last night. In all the years we've lived here, through all of the rock moving and house construction, none of us has ever been stung until now, so all things considered, we've been pretty lucky...
...But I don't think Tom is feeling very lucky right now.
My son and his bride just bought their first house. It reminds me a lot of the first house Tom and I lived in as newlyweds...small, but just right. I'm so excited for them! And now my grandpuppy Josie will have her own yard!
Last month I wrote a post about my dad for Generation Fabulous's Father's Day Bloghop. The writers behind SavvyDad.com spotted it on Huffington Post and approached me about using it on their website. Of course I said yes! The more I can brag about my awesome Daddy, the better, is my opinion!
If you hop over to SavvyDad to read it, be sure to stick around and read more stories about dads...or even offer your own. Their aim is to help promote good fatherhood practices.
Have you heard of Malala Yousafzai? She's the 16-year-old who the Taliban shot in the head for speaking up about the educational rights of women. Of the moment she was shot, she says..."Weakness, fear, and hopelessness died; strength, power, and courage was born." She is an amazing young woman, a bright light shining in the darkness. I'd say she's destined for great things...but she's already achieved it.
I just listened to her speech to the UN Youth Assembly and urge you to listen to it HERE as well, if you haven't already. It's totally worth the sixteen minutes.
Linking with Nancy's Random 5 Friday
I started this post yesterday, then suddenly yesterday was today.
Do your days blur together like that? Mine have a lot lately. I think it's because I work weekends and workdays, plus there was the 4th of July holiday in the middle of a week, and now I'm squeezing real estate school into an already awkwardly over-packed week.
But then...it could just be me.
Whatever the reason, there's so much going on, it's tough to stay focused. My mind tends to sneak out a side door and go exploring instead of facing forward and paying attention.
For example, there's a splash of tall weeds near a curve in our road, where either mice or lizards or some other small scurrying creatures hide. Every morning for several days in a row, as soon as we got there Belle would make a flying leap into the grass, trying to catch whatever's in there by surprise.
I, in turn, want to catch a photo of Belle in the middle of her flying leap. But it never fails: I get distracted by something seconds before we get there, and...oops. I missed it again, dang it.
This morning I was determined to stay focused. It took a lot of effort, grabbing my errant attention by the ear every time I caught it trying to sneak out the side door to investigate some flowers or watch the clouds or some such nonsense. But I was firm, and when we got to the curve, my camera was ready and I had my eye on Belle.
Naturally, she didn't leap.
I'm working in our church office a few days this week, then heading straight to real estate class in the evening. The picture up above is framed and hanging on a wall of the office. Talk about an inspirational environment!
Except for a few flurries of activity, it's been quiet, just the hum of the computer and the whisper of wind outside my window. I've thought about pulling up some music on the computer, but I like the quiet.
It's great for studying. I'm learning about Finance this week; last night we were given a crash course in the recent mortgage-crisis-near-world-depression. My brain is on overload!
Have you ever floated a river in an inner tube, when the river was up and moving fast? That's what time feels like to me right now.
I'm sort of relaxed and enjoying the scenery, but keeping an eye out for those little whirlpools that twirl you around and around, stuck in one place. I also want to avoid the whitewater that knocks you off your tube and pulls you under.
I just want to keep moving forward, with my head above water. I don't want to miss a thing.
We stopped by the little pond on our walk this morning. I noticed that when the puppies waded in and drank from pond, drops of reflected sunshine splattered across the surface. It was magical!
I did it. I registered for Real Estate School today. I scheduled the classes (which begin next week) around my work schedule. July is going to be tough.
My sister-in-law, who's been kicking real estate butt in Mesa, Arizona for the past couple of years, tried to get me to go into real estate last year, but it just didn't click with me at the time.
I think events over the past year helped prepare me for it, get my mind in the right spot, and now I'm really excited about this new career and grateful none of those doors I've been banging on have opened for me.
Dare I say it? I think I'll love it!
(I'm even more grateful I won't be filling out any more job applications....although I guess I better knock on wood about that.)
If I become scarce around here, it's because I'm studying! Wish me luck!
For those who wanted to read the whole poem from my last post, here it is, from my grandmother to you...
(Just to clarify...she didn't write it, she just framed it and used it for reassurance, too.)
Last night I attended a free screening of the new movie The Way Way Back through Gofobo. Have you heard of it? It's a promotion company for movies. I stumbled across it on another blog - I can't even remember which one - and signed up. All I had to do was complete a survey/review of the movie when I got home last night.
They warn you that they overbook and you need to get there early, so we did (I brought a friend)...but I didn't realize we'd have to wait in a line outside. You can tell the pros from the newbies like me - they bring chairs and books and food.
I'm not sure I would do it again, but it was still a fun evening, just spending time with my friend. On the way we stopped for Mexican food (and a Mexican martini)...they gave us free sunglasses in the theater...and while I expected more from the movie, considering the amazing cast, it was entertaining.
I caught Phillip Phillips on the Today Show this morning. I don't watch American Idol, but now I wish I had watched the season he won. If I can find his CD on sale somewhere, I'm getting it, even though I don't normally buy CDs anymore, either.
I could listen to his songs over and over and over...
Not familiar with him? Listen to this...
to link with
Belle and Max dashed off in the direction of a dry pond this morning on our walk, triggering a loud commotion as a mama wild turkey flew for the safety of a tree on the other end, squawking the whole way. Half a dozen small turkey-ettes followed her...squeaking, more than squawking.
Of course, it could have been a daddy Great Blue Heron, for all I know. Suffice it to say there was a lot of racket, then a big bird shot skyward followed by a bunch of little ones, and just seeing it was pretty cool, especially since everyone survived the encounter.
I didn't get a photo. The action was behind a screen of trees with just a tiny clear view before Mama/Daddy was out of my line of vision. Besides, I was busy calling to my puppies not to hurt the babies (in case there were stragglers) and also...I was just pretty much in awe, as I am any time I encounter one of God's not-so-ordinary-for-me creatures sharing the Hollow with us, usually sight unseen.
(So out of curiosity, how many of you thought I was going to talk about Wild Turkey bourbon?)
And now for some of the other sweet! moments of my past week:
Tuesday: your puppy waiting patiently for a glimpse of you through the French doors; margherita pizza
Wednesday: morning sunlight kissing weeds, turning them into art; finding a Shabby Apple dress in your mailbox that you won on a blog giveaway at Over 50, Feeling 40; a pot-luck fajita dinner and margaritas with members of your committee
Thursday: long morning walks on soft summer mornings; puffy white clouds in a blue sky; watching your puppies cool off in a tiny spring-fed pond
Friday: the AT&T tech coming closer to the 8am projected time than the 8pm; a potentially cheaper telephone and internet bill; joining friends to celebrate the life of someone we were all blessed to know
Saturday: weddings; tiny flower girls and ringbearers; Mandolo's Italian food and carrot cake; capturing photos of the full (super?) moon
Sunday: lingering after church to visit with friends; dancing to the music of a Rolling Stones cover band (the Stone Rollers) on the shore of a lake; Rudy's BBQ and frozen sangria margaritas; helping friends celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary; support and tips from experienced friends for your latest idea to get a real estate license; Siamese cats; celebrating a dear friend's birthday
Monday: finally setting up your Etsy shop; more encouragement about real estate school from another friend; inspiration from your grandmother
Tuesday: feeling rested despite not getting a lot of sleep; surprising a flock of wild turkeys...or herons...or somethings; a good preliminary report on your annual check-up; coming across a good blog post you wrote five years ago but forgot about; winning free passes to a new Steve Carell and Toni Collette movie screening
Okay, I have one more sweet! to share...
Last night I was feeling pretty discouraged about being broke and not being able to find a (substantial long-term career-type) job. So I finally set up an Etsy shop, where (fingers-crossed) I can sell pieces of my eclectic collection of books and junk odds and ends I've gathered over the years, as well as some of my photographs.
It felt good scratching that off of my list, but here's the sweet! part: on my way to bed after setting it up, I spotted a framed poem I inherited from my grandmother. It's a little cheesy, but I love it, so I guess that means I'm a little cheesy, too.
This is the part that resonated with me last night...
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low, and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
It goes on like that for two more stanzas, but you get the gist of it. Sweet encouragement straight from my grandmother when I really needed it.
I hope all of you are finding plenty of sweet!s to lighten your load, too!
Do any of you still have your landlines?
I've been so tempted to cancel ours...but then I remember the agonizing two months we lived without it when we first moved into this house in the country, and how our cell phones only worked outside, up the hill a little bit.
How I would stand up there, sweating and swatting mosquitoes, when I needed to made a call. How I had to sneak calls to the telephone company when I was at work, pushed to tears of frustration trying to cut through the red tape.
The telephone poles lining our road may be unsightly, but I'll tell you they were beautiful to my eyes when they first went up. I swore I'd never take my land line for granted, ever again.
So even though my iPhone works just fine inside the house now, I'm just a little hesitant to let go of that landline.
Thank you, Pam and Shabby Apple!
That's Tom's Aunt Marg in front of Gilley's Nightclub, circa 1987. Yes, the original Gilley's in "Pasa-get-down-dena"...where "Urban Cowboy" was filmed. (I wonder if John Travolta ever sat on that bench?)
Aunt Marg was visiting from Wisconsin, and of course we had to take her there. She even rode the mechanical bull!
Tom and I met at Kenny Stabler's Diamondback Saloon, but we fell in love at Gilley's the very next night. He met me there to see the band Alabama.
We danced. We talked. He seemed safe enough, so I gave him my phone number, and he kissed me goodbye in that horrible, pot-holed parking lot, next to my car. Our first real kiss.
Gilley's burned down a few years later, but word has it from Mickey Gilley's own mouth that he's going to rebuild a Gilley's nightclub in Pasadena.
I loved Gilley's, horrible parking lot and all. It had a great dancefloor, and the club itself was large enough to lose someone you didn't want to dance with. After the movie, it became too commercialized, but it was still a fun place to go dancing.
So, true redneck Texan that I am, it warms my heart that it will rise again. As I told a friend, "If they build it, I will come."
Our diocese is celebrating "A Fortnight of Freedom" to draw attention to the whittling away of religious freedom in our country, to the changes our federal government is mandating that force religious institutions, including the Catholic church who historically has been a pioneer in charitable health and education services, to go against their beliefs when providing those services.
Religious liberty is being threatened, and it scares me. No matter what your beliefs about abortion or gay rights, it should scare you, too, that our government is slipping sideways into these areas and issuing mandates where they should keep their distance. Separation of church and state, remember? It works both ways.
And if we accept this without speaking up, if we consider it fair and reasonable, what's next? You know it won't stop there.
On a happier, more hopeful note, we went to a wedding today.
I guess it should make me feel old that kids I've watched grow up are suddenly old enough to get married...but it doesn't. Weddings overflow in love, joy, and hope, and how can those ever do anything but make you feel young and hopeful yourself?
Congratulations, George and Danielle! May you always remember the love, joy, and hope you felt today! Thank you for sharing it with us.
I hope you're having a wonderful weekend! I'm off to ponder the full moon...
Once upon a time, I was an elementary school librarian.
Well, technically an aide, barely making minimum wage and working 50+ hours a week ...but essentially I ran the library and absolutely loved it. If I had the time and money to go back to school, that's what I would be if I ever grow up.
The not-so-fun part of the job was cafeteria duty, walking up and down the aisles of screaming kids, opening milk boxes and ketchup packets, stopping food fights, and cleaning up...well, every once in awhile you got a sick kid, is all I'm saying.
But I was lucky: I had Jerry and Rena helping me.
I think at the time Jerry was the maintenance man for the school - maybe for the whole small district - but he was there to help Rena, his wife, who was the custodian. She had a special education teaching degree and I never understood why she preferred school custodial work to teaching, but she did, and she was awesome.
We worked as a team which made it fun. I would help wipe tables...they would help open milk cartons and stop fights.
I already knew them before that year, though. When we first moved to this little town, they ran an Italian restaurant serving great pizza. It was always packed. They helped us feel like this town was our home. We belonged.
They were smart, informed and active in the community. For years, Jerry and I sat until late at night at many school board meetings, staying on top of issues and decisions that were made.
Rena had an angel voice, using it to raise money and entertain the kids at school talent shows, and joining it with others in the local community singing group. She had a strong sense of right and wrong, and wasn't afraid to voice her opinion, but her smile rarely left her face.
What I didn't know until today was that they were childhood sweethearts, first getting together in junior high and marrying after college.
Rena passed away earlier this week at 63 of ovarian cancer; this afternoon I went to her funeral and told Jerry how much it meant to work side-by-side with the two of them.
Mourners overflowed the small church onto the sidewalk outside. The doors were open to the Texas heat, and, despite the ceiling fans, it was hot. Really, really hot. But no one seemed to mind.
In the crowd I spotted many familiar faces. Some from my librarian days who I hadn't seen in years, or the parents of my kids' friends, and even several members of my church, because in a small town, friendships cross many lines, especially if you're someone like Rena.
I admit my mind wandered a little as the preacher spoke about Rena's gift of singing and how it touched so many lives. Friends and family spoke of her devoted friendship and encouragement, of the fun they'd shared. A cancer patient who met Rena in a support group shared Rena's vow to live every day she had left the best she could, to spend as much time with her friends and family as possible as long as she was able.
Rena had an angel voice, and even though she never became rich or famous from it (at least not in the worldly way)...never had a hit record... she developed and shared the gift, leaving the memory of it as her legacy.
For me, as I struggle to find a potential career instead of just another job, her legacy was something different - her attitude toward her custodial job. She was the best custodian you'd ever meet, always doing her best, and eventually losing her job because she stood up for the truth, defending one of her workers. She refused to keep silent and compromise her values.
I remembered today that what matters most is giving whatever you're doing your whole effort. Singing, cleaning, parenting, whatever. Stay true to your morals and values and ethics, and make the people in your life the most important thing.
Give it all you've got, no matter what 'it' is.
Because what you do doesn't define you. It's how you do it. How much of yourself you put into it. How many people you help or inspire or encourage along the way.
Rena, you nailed it as usual, honey. Thank you.
I'm blessed to have known you.
"Use what talents you possess:
the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there
except those that sang best."
– Henry Van Dyke
Dawn is waking to rain and thunder this morning. She must have pulled the covers back over her head because the Hollow is still dark outside my window, except for occasional flashes of lightning.
On a normal morning, the puppies and I would already be out on the dirt road, saying hello to the new day. Instead, they're snoozing in the laundry room, warm and dry and happy, and I'm playing catch-up on posting my sweet!s.
Rain is sweet during a drought, but especially when you were able to spend hours the day before feeling the sunshine on your skin.
Weeks...well, maybe months ago, Tom trimmed branches from the trees lining the creek. I told him I'd drag them to a burn pile, and I finally kept my word yesterday morning after my walk. I had a few free hours and was already coated in mosquito spray.
Even though the morning was warming up fast, the shade softened the heat. Wildflowers dotted the woods and a field of Mexican hats grew beside the burn pile. Birds chatted in the trees and the running creek sang to me as I cleared the creek and paths of fallen branches.
Sweat soaked my head and torso, tickling my nose, and bits of leaves and bark freckled my arms, but it felt good using my muscles to gather the branches, drag them uphill, and throw them on the growing pile. I've always loved repetitive work like that, when my thoughts are free to fly where they will.
The higher the pile grew, the younger I felt. I gave thanks for the morning, the sunshine, the flowers, the creek, the sweat...but mostly for the ability to do the job. When you're 54, you don't take that for granted.
And now for more sweet! moments from the past week...
Monday: friends sending you links to potential jobs; the anticipation of a weekend at the beach with girlfriends, even if it's still months away; a photoshoot with a fun family; wading in a lake on a hot day; fawns
Tuesday: relishing a soft summer morning with your puppies before a busy day at work; daily talks with your mom
Wednesday: phone conversations with your mother-in-law; your mother-in-law winning $1000 on a $1 scratch-off lottery ticket; word that one of your photos will be featured in HuffPost 50
Thursday: hearing a friend's voice for the first time in a year; dinner, lots of popcorn, and a Matthew McConaughy movie with girlfriends
Friday: finally using a certificate for a massage your son gave you for Christmas; catching up with a dear friend; getting your client's photos to her on time and hearing that she liked them; old red trucks; your dad NOT having to go to the hospital
Saturday: a road trip with your kids to spend Father's Day with your dad; your mom appearing stronger than the last time you saw her; hearing that your three Beach Yoga photos will soon grace the wall of a summer rental home belonging to a friend in Greece
Sunday: having the coffee ready and the newspaper on the table for your dad when he wakes up; hamburgers and cheesecake in honor of the father of your children; hearing that a friend was baptized this morning; green metallic beetles with orange legs
Monday: bouquets of mountain pinks dotting a hillside; a green heron posing for photos; sweating from physical labor; your little creek and nearby paths finally cleared of fallen trimmed branches; a few hours with, and a hug from, your baby girl; email and Facebook that can connect you to friends on the other side of the world
Tuesday: rain during a drought; unexpected time to post your Sweet!s of the Week; the moment storm clouds break to reveal blue sky
I didn't quite finish this before the storm drifted past, with little patches of blue sky peeking down, reminding me to get the dogs out of the laundry room. I cut the walk short, though, and we stuck to the muddy road because I forgot to douse myself with mosquito spray.
Mosquito spray is definitely a sweet! around here this summer. It's the simple things, right?
I hope you're remembering to notice the sweet, simple blessings in your life. Share them with me here and make them doubly sweet!
"I'm just a simple guy, I live from day to day.
A ray of sunshine melts my frown and blows my blues away."
~Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, and John Bonham, "Out On The Tiles" (Led Zeppelin)
For more information about my photography, go to Barbara Shallue Photography