Return to Snail Mail: A Personal Handwritten Letter Campaign

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint 

2014 started as my year of gifting good stories. Buying books for friends and family members – mostly my mom and my boys, providing moments of escape from their every day lives. Or sending recommendations of interest to those who keep a running list like I do.

Slowly this gift is morphing into stories of my life via handwritten notes and cards, like a personal history or memoir through correspondence. I’m not quite sure why …

Maybe it’s the thrill of “real” mail or the fact that simple things are important.

More than likely it’s due to seeing old friends and realizing our interactions are social media driven only. We could call or write but why when Facebook feeds run like a life highlights newsreel? Because Facebook is usually the good times without room for the difficult and sad, the intimate moments of life.

It could be the fact that while on vacation my dudes sent postcards to some of their friends, whose parents told me of their excitement upon receiving the quick note. How can we not spread that joy again?

Maybe it’s because we have friends spending a year abroad. Wouldn’t it be sweet for them to get letters from home? To feel connected and not far away despite the distance?

Or it could be thanks to my dear friend, whose daily walk includes checking the mail with her infant. A tradition in the making, I think. Of course they need mail to retrieve from the box.

The reason doesn’t matter much. Only the desire to send some love: signed, sealed, and delivered.

I’ll still give books but they may have a personal story penned in my own hand, tucked between the pages.

Here’s to great stories!

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Dandelion Fluff and Other Stuff

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

Nostalgia … rolls around in my mind; flows out of my pen, and falls from my lips like bouncy balls in the middle of the grocery store; an awkward chain reaction … A weird déjà vu I can’t shake …

How easily we fall back into a former self? A scent, a place, a phrase, a word, or a picture, can evoke sensations of who we were and what was important to us once.

The Road Home …

A couple of weeks ago I travelled to California for work. I didn’t get to see my family but the trip brought images to mind that I hadn’t thought of in years.

Like, how I hate to drive in rush hour traffic, not that anyone enjoys it.

Nostalgia speed by as familiar places appeared on exit signs: Manhattan Beach, I-15, Redondo Beach, 110 freeway. Nostalgia rose with familiar neon signs announcing fast food joints I frequent when I visit the Golden State: In-N-Out Burger, Carl’s Jr., Del Taco …

My traveling companion wasn’t moved by any of these things. Inching closer to our destination in bumper to bumper she could have cared less.

But for me … it was miles of memories spanning ages.

Naiveté

My yard was covered with white puffy balls until the lawn service showed up and mowed. Crazy that these seemingly insignificant bulbs made me think of a simpler time.

Nostalgia peaked out from the grass to greet me.

I loved blowing dandelion fluff until one day, who knows when, I started seeing them as weeds, allergens.

I used to call them beautiful flowers. I would pick the bright yellow blooms by the bunch; keeping the stems in a wet paper towel to keep them from dying. Sometimes drinking the white liquid that we called “dandelion milk”.

The sight of my lawn with its snowy vegetation generated a flashback of that white halter top with the red trim I had at the age of five. Playing in the front yard with my older sister who was wearing her white halter top with the red trim. (Mom dressed us alike and people thought we were twins.) Our heads thrown back in laughter as we polluted the air with our wishes. Twirling.

Remarkable … I wonder if she remembers.

Summertime

Summer has finally made an appearance in Michigan; temperatures topping the 80s. I can sit outside listening to my dudes’ laughter while being eaten alive by mosquitos.

Nostalgia calls to me with loud, overly bright, music from squeaky speakers.

Chasing ice cream trucks and riding my lavender bike with the white basket to the library. Dinging and scraping up my toes because I wore flip-flops instead of closed shoes when I rode. Chocolate covered fingers as I tried to ride and read and eat all at the same time. Stopping at every street corner trying to lick my fingers free of the mess.

Footloose and fancy free. My favorite time of year.

Father’s Day

Summer brings with it a time and privilege of celebrating fathers. When soap-on-a-rope and nose hair trimmers and Old Spice or Brut after-shaves are plentiful.

Nostalgia creeps up on me, playing a sad song of “I miss him.”

My mind’s eye flashes images like a slide show of dad holding a beer and grilling chicken in the back yard. Smoking a cigarette and drinking coffee over the morning paper, specifically the sports page. Running to the corner store to get lottery tickets before 8 p.m. Puttering in the garden and telling me to shoo the birds out of the fruit trees. I was happy to play human scarecrow for his sake.

I still dream of him.

Bittersweet holiday.

Pathways

There are many other examples where triggers like these sent me on a mental migration to another time; another me. All of which serve to remind me of how carefree life can be when your only responsibility is to be a kid and make memories.

We are just weeks away from our family vacation. I will not work. I may spend some time writing because I’ve been negligent here and my nine, soon-to-be-ten, year old keeps referencing my “good book” or at least what he’s heard of it. Asking: When are you going to finish?

More than anything … I want to start the collection of experiences that my boys will later look back on and label “nostalgic”. Dandelion Fluff Occasions.

Lazy days away from our normal routine. We will visit new places and some old. We will spend time with my family and reminisce about childhood:

  • Feast on the flavors of home.
  • Savor the sounds of long ago.
  • Embrace the echoes of innocence.

Nostalgia … What voices of the past sneak up on you? What childhood stages do you want to relive? What are your dandelion fluff occasions?

Judgment Seat

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint  Judgment Seat

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint
The Golden Throne of Judgment

When I click “publish”, “post”, or “tweet”, I am essentially saying, “Criticize me, please!”

We have an open invitation to sit in judgment; whether we are consuming music, books, films, photos, meals, or even other people’s lives, from neighbors and friends to celebrities and strangers, and much more.

We are encouraged, almost expected, to give our opinion. We are prompted to share and often incentivized for it.

It’s a function made easier and easier every day:

  • Service surveys on receipts e.g. restaurants and retailers
  • Social media icons everywhere e.g. blogs and articles
  • Popup windows e.g. websites and apps

In one click, with little or no commentary we can tell the who, what, when, where, why, and how of our misadventures and mundane undertakings. We can be a cheerleader or a naysayer in another person’s story.

Some would consider lending a voice to our likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams, a privilege. Others would call it a right. You know, freedom of speech? Or maybe a Public Service Announcement? We have something to say.

Regardless, our opinion matters to someone somewhere at some point in time. Possibly it will only matter to us.

We are like snowflakes. Individual and unique, falling from the sky with the power to collectively blanket the world with our thoughts.

Our voices shape the world we live in, its future; and so, some would also label it a responsibility as well as a privilege and right.

But is there a danger in our acknowledgement of the good events, bad events, and underwhelming events of our lives?

With a sense of immediacy, often while it’s happening, we become the real-time superstars of our own narratives. We begin to believe the artificial hype.

Don’t believe me? Check out this article. Now I ask again: Is it good for us?

One challenge I find is the lack of universal language or philosophy relative to the act of rating. It’s not regulated (nor am I suggesting it should be), but we need a shared language.

If we return to the snowflake analogy, we can comfortably say, we have differing definitions based on our personalities, preferences, and pasts which all act as filters.

There is one universal standard we could and should apply but don’t, at least not often enough. The Golden Rule: Treat others how you would like others to treat you.

Since opinion giving is pervasive today we sometimes forget the importance of reciprocity in relationships.

We tend to think it’s acceptable to use harsh words and accusatory or mocking tones, demean another person; especially because our sentiments often reside in cyber space. We tend to judge others without respecting the fact that on the other end of a post or comment is a real person with feelings.

I have to admit I’m on this reflective path because I was struggling with rating and writing a review on Goodreads for a children’s book I’d read. I agonized over it. Why? Who knows? After all, it’s just my opinion.

Keeper by Kathi Appelt was a story I enjoyed. However, there was a storyline that parents may be concerned about their children reading.

And I wondered if I needed to draw attention to the content in case other parents saw my rating and review and then deemed it appropriate for their kids. Would my review matter to the Goodreads community? Probably not. Would it matter to my personal circle of influence? Possibly.

I felt the responsibility tied to my privilege and right. The trifecta.

The whole experience had me questioning: “What does it ALL mean?”

What does a 5-star book rating mean to you on Amazon or Goodreads? Or the other extreme a 1-star book rating? Does it affect your decisions about what to read?

I am easily entertained. Therefore I tend to be generous in evaluating creative works.

Plus, I feel “bad” being critical of what an author or artist invested their time in. Again, generosity.

My ratings on Goodreads range from 3 to 5-stars with only one 2-star rating. Not everyone shares my view or operates as I do.

We have to wonder about the differences I referenced. Is our rating based on the merit of the writing, plot, and characters? Subject Matter? Reader enjoyment? Or something else entirely.

Maybe it’s not an issue for you, the idea of applying individualism to a collection. I actually considered editing my comments to address the storyline / parenting issue. I probably shouldn’t have allowed reading some of the other reviews to throw me.

Yet and still … How can we use the information that is so readily available, thanks to the opportunities we have to speak up, say what’s on our minds.

The irony of my blogging and asking you to engage in this conversation isn’t lost on me by the way! Now let’s see how many views and likes and comments I get on this post (I’m kidding … kind of).

Seriously, “Criticize me, please.”

What are your thoughts on rating? How does it impact your decision making, if at all? What can we all do to keep the process positive even if the feedback is constructive?

… chasing fireflies …

Fireflies 1

Fireflies 1 (Photo credit: ShutterSparks)

Curiosity of children is an amazing thing.

I love seeing their imaginations at work as they reason with and negotiate through and interact with their world.

The simplest concepts can become complex mysteries that want solving; like fireflies lighting up the night in a petite fireworks display.

That’s how we spent last week … chasing fireflies … entertaining our 2 nieces along side our 2 dudes. (Remind me to tell you later about parenting 4 kids for 10 days when you’re only used to 2 kids. Ages: 9, 8, 6 ½, and 4. Yeah, we were busy.)

What makes fireflies light up? Bioluminescence!

The kids all understood, at a high level, the complicated truth thanks to the children’s movie Curious George. It’s a defense mechanism.

But at it’s core, the elementary truth, is that it’s fun. They want to capture the light between their fingers and watch it blink in their hands.

And so, we spent hours waiting in the fading sun, trying as the sky darkened, laughing with hope and reaching for the little miracles.

When they were successful, they would preserve their prizes in plastic water bottles and plastic sandwich bags without air holes. In their enthusiasm they smothered the little bugs, forever extinguishing the light and lives.

Sad. I know. I tried to explain the value of life but to no avail.

From their inquisitive point of view there would be more fireflies to chase the next night … and the next day … and the next day. Youthful optimism.

This experience made me think of dreams. Okay, I had some help. Yesterday, blogger buddy, Britt posted a little ditty titled:  What’s Wrong with Having Dreams Anyway? She says it brilliantly. Which made me think of this post I’d started.

A post which I originally thought would lead to me telling you the story of how busting my bout of baby fever but instead it’s turned into a post about running hard and fast after something as elusive as fireflies.

Dreams, if your lucky come true.

Wait!

That’s not right.

Like chasing fireflies … if you want to catch your dream you have to be diligent and patient. You have to put effort into the result you want. You have to accept the fact that you are not like everyone else.

Being a dreamer is not easy. It’s not for the faint of heart. But I’ve said something like this before, here.

Dreams can be snuffed out if they’re locked away in an airtight container or ‘real life’.

Isn’t it odd how quickly we give up our dreams? How they end up by the way side? To Britt’s question I say, there’s nothing wrong with having dreams.

I’m a self-proclaimed dreamer. And that may be weird to some of you. But I embrace my weird.

My big dream is finishing my novel, being recognized as a best selling author some day. My small dream is to write every day.

I know … it’s kind of a single track. But like my kids this past week, hanging out in the front yard while darkness descended; chasing fireflies … I am chasing my dream …

I’d love to hear from you … What fireflies will you pursue? What dreams will you reignite?

Images from Zemanta

Letter from Summer Living

IMG_1056Dear Friends,

How has a month passed since my last confession? I mean since my last blog post.

I guess summer has been filled with the living of life. So much so, I haven’t had time (or energy) to write about the life I’m living or write, in general, really.

Anyway, this is just a quick “HELLO” … a wave from my corner of the world … a report (positive I hope) that I am still very much inhabiting the land of the living.

And I have lots to tell you about the busyness and bustle of my summer thus far. I have much to share about what’s coming. Of course, I also want to catch up with all of you, my peeps, and find out what’s new with you.

So thank you for sticking with me and waiting and checking for new stuff.

Let’s see … you’ll soon hear about:

  • Teaching an old dog new tricks … how I learned new things watching my dudes learn new things … Okay, I’m not an old dog but still.
  • Busting baby fever … we overcame an urge … it was tough and then easy *sighs*
  • Staycationing instead of vacationing … there are lots of perks.
  • Fighting my addiction to amazon.com daily and monthly deals and emailing recommendations to the world at large. Have I mentioned that I am losing the fight? I truly need an intervention.
  • Planning for the next writers’ conference I will attend. *smiles*
  • Writing my WIP and the crazy questions and comments I receive about when I’ll be done … which, at this rate, the word NEVER comes to mind.
  • Celebrating birthdays. *smiles again*
  • Working like a dog … I know another canine reference but I have been and there’s no end in sight.

These stories and any others that strike my fancy will come in combinations in the near future. Bits and pieces. Little Gail glimpses.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my regularly scheduled living, already in progress …

Till next time, peace out,

~Gail

What’s Your Story?

Film poster for Pretty Woman - Copyright 1990,...

Film poster for Pretty Woman – Copyright 1990, Touchstone Pictures (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember this line from the movie, Pretty Woman:

“Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don’t; but keep on dreamin’ – this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin’.”

I feel like the guy asking the question; only you could say my question is:  “What’s your story? Hey, come tell me your story.”

No matter who you are or who you’re becoming. No matter where you are, where you’ve been, or where you’re going. You have a story.

I forget that sometimes. As I wind my way through the city at the start of each day. Passing other parents with waves and nods as we drop our children off at school. Smiles and conversations of varied brightness.

I don’t remember it as I stop-go-stop-go-stop-go down the road to work. Weaving my way through traffic, we’re all trying to get somewhere. It’s part of our story.

I fail to see it when I cross paths with my coworkers in the halls and as I interact with clients of diverse backgrounds and influence.

And by this point in my day it’s only 8:30A. Imagine if I were to consider all the potential touch points of my day. How many people have I passed? Are you with me? How often do we see people without seeing them as people? As a collection of joys and sorrows; hurts and celebrations; and gifts and shortcomings. Broken, healing, and broken again.

Story matters. It’s important. But I selfishly tend to focus on the stories that directly have an impact on my life. Or stories that I am personally invested in like my husband and dudes; my friends and extended families, because to do otherwise is overwhelming.

More and more, lately, I don’t have a choice. Stories are finding me. Women are seeking me out and telling me their stories as if I’m the Happy Man standing on the street corner calling out to them.

The spectrum of women ranges from “I only know you by sight but can’t remember your name” to “Something must be wrong because I haven’t spoken to you today and we talk every day.”

Prompting isn’t required beyond a “How’s it going?” or “What’s new with you?” The levels of disclosure are vastly different; from incredibly intimate to superficial – I’m just having a bad day. Usually, they are unloading a burden or secret. Sometimes they just need someone to listen to what might seem mundane. Or, they may want to trust someone with their dream.

At work, this week I stopped in the kitchen area to get sweetener for my coffee. A coworker was frantically looking through the cabinets.

Me:  “Good morning.”
Coworker: “We’re out of creamer.”
Me:  “No we’re not. There’s some right there.”
Coworker: “Oh yeah but I like the flavored creamer.”
Me:  “Oh okay.”

She sighed and went away with black coffee. I felt bad for her. I went back to my desk and pulled out the last of my flavored creamer and took it to her. About 10 minutes later she sent me a note thanking me for taking what was an already bad morning (before the creamer issue) and helping her overcome the crabbiness about it.

It didn’t seem like a big deal to me but it was a big deal to her. I received a glimpse of her story in that moment. My response changed her story for the day.

After writing my notes for this post, I met with two very busy lawyers. I just needed input on materials I was working on. I wanted to respect their time and promised to be brief. To my surprise both women engaged me in lengthy conversations about their lives. They just needed to talk.

Why me? I don’t know.

There is a burden of responsibility when carrying around someone else’s story. They have to be handled with care. I am amazed by the depths of trust freely given.

And the most surprising and rewarding outcome is that caring for a story that’s not my own and not mine to tell, alters my story. My life is enriched by it. I am forever changed with each secret shared and I am grateful.

Now I am calling out:  What’s your story? Who do you confide in? What do you do with the stories placed in your care?

Photo from Zemanta …

Paper Weight Champion of the World

I grew up with a childish notion, which led to an adulthood misconception. A philosophy I modeled my life around:

“Important people write things down.”

My parents wrote checks and paid bills. They read through stacks of paper and wrote letters instead of calling. They filled out and signed forms.

Teachers recorded attendance, graded papers and sent notes home. You never wanted them to write your name on the blackboard in that dusty substance.

Doctors jotted on charts using clipboards and fancy pens. They were frequently asked for their signature and people looked up to them.

TV shows portrayed lawyers, professors and corporate types surrounded by stacks of paper that needed handling. Always seated behind large desks with huge leather chairs, pen in hand and hand pressed to temple. Harried and fussed to get it all done.

In my youthful ignorance I perceived a measure of a man’s or woman’s worth to be in reams of paper; inches of paper stacked up waiting for pen to grace each sheet with ink.

Last week a client shared how she would sit at her desk and shuffle through papers, organizing files for her home based business. Her children told her that they loved sitting by her side watching her work, I couldn’t wait to grow up and play with all that paper. It looked like so much fun.”

I couldn’t wait till I had a job that required me to take notes. Jot. Scribe. This must be the origin of my writer self. I was shaped by paper. I am a paper doll.  

Today I take copious notes even if it’s not necessary. I have a slight obsession for pen and paper which is rooted in misperception. Keeping an open notebook on my nightstand in case words flow out of my dreams into my reality.

I have tons of drafted blog posts, letters, thoughts, and ideas that may or may not reach completion. Next to my bed I have a shopping bag full of new notebooks waiting to be filled. Does this make me matter to others? Not necessarily. Still I hold to this theory.

My kids won’t grow up with this false belief. The digital age has them facing a different set of challenges. Interruptions won’t involve setting aside stacks of paper but rather lifting fingers from keyboards; averting eyes from a screen.

For them, a person’s worth will be based on the interruptions from email dings and notification pings. The better the smartphone, the higher the position in the social hierarchy. A person’s value will be tied to the number of “likes” & “comments” or “favorites” & “followers”. They’ll be looking for real time stats of their importance.

Me? I am weighted down by paper. I am weighted down by believing I need to generate large amounts of words in print or by hand to make a significant contribution to the world. I am the paper weight champion of the world. How do I overcome this title?

We all know paperwork isn’t fun. It doesn’t convey a person’s value but the conversation with my client reminded me of my innocent views and how they still make themselves known in my life.

Just curious … What childhood observations shaped your adulthood choices? What beliefs did you have as a child about societal value of individuals? Am I the only one who looked at paper in this way?

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Art by one of my dude’s

The first time I heard this phrase was from my fifth grade teacher. I don’t know why I remember it.

She used to read out loud to us and each character had its own voice. It was the coolest thing.

One day a disagreement bubbled up about one of the stories she was reading us. I don’t remember what book it was or what caused the dispute. (The mind keeps what it wants.) But I remember her response.

She said, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Do you know what that means?”

Wagging our heads in ignorance she explained that beauty can be determined by the individual. That we didn’t have to agree that the words in the story were beautiful. WOW! I didn’t even know I needed a new point of view. Who does at the age of 9 or 10?

It changed my world. Or better yet … it opened my world wide. It helped me know that art is the artist’s expression but beauty is the observer’s impression. I understand that beauty is as varied and unique as a sea of snowflakes just as we are all different.

Learning such a simple but powerful phrase allowed me to create my own definition of beauty. One that would no longer be limited by popular culture.

It was the start of me being able to decide what beauty looked like. Even I could be beautiful. A girl who didn’t look like “valued beauty”. A girl who didn’t look like Barbie. Even a girl like me could be beauty.

Amazing!

Fifth grade was the year I learned to not just accept everything as it was presented to me, but to challenge myself and my beliefs. It was the year I learned to not just enjoy our school outings to concerts, plays, and the ballet. I learned to search for the beauty and meaning in them. My beauty. What I valued.

Every year at Christmas we had a school field trip to see a production of the Nutcracker Ballet. To this day, The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies, is my favorite. But the fifth grade found me wonder what makes it so beautiful to me?

I still don’t know the answer to the question. Maybe the beauty in it was the possibility in it. You see I wanted to be a dancer back than. And I would imagine myself dancing in the Nutcracker.

I hold the memories in my heart like snapshots in a photo album.

Grateful doesn’t describe what I feel for the teacher who shared these words with me. Now I work at helping my boys find what beauty is to them. In our house we have a saying, “Don’t yuck my yum.” It started out a way of teaching our kids to appreciate others food choices but it extends beyond that.

Maybe you have your own phrase as well … feel free to share in the comments.

I am reading the book, Matched, by Ally Condie. A dystopian story where a government structure defines appropriate beauty:  100 poems, 100 songs, 100 books, 100 paintings … All for the sake of control and keeping order.

Could you imagine living in a world where you couldn’t create new artist’s expressions? Or, a world in which you couldn’t share an observer’s impression unless it’s the “appropriate” impression?

There certainly wouldn’t be a blogosphere for you to hang out in. If you’d like, share your favorite poem, song, book, painting, play, etc. that you’d miss if it was no longer available to you …

This post is a round about way of reminding us to value the beauty you see in the world even if no one else values the same thing.

If I Were Being Stalked by a Serial Killer, I’d Be a Goner

Suzie Spoon - Serial Killer

Suzie Spoon – Serial Killer (Photo credit: What What)

I love routine. My movements could be easily mapped. My patterns of behavior would be predictable.

Each day of every week looks pretty much the same. Some of you are already thinking:  BORING. But I’m of the school of thought that structure can be liberating. It maybe infinitesimal but it’s liberating none the less.

I AM A CREATURE OF HABIT! And proud of it. But it would make me an easy mark.

Weekday mornings I am “Major Mom” barking out orders like a drill instructor:

  • Eat
  • Brush
  • Dress
  • Shoes
  • Bags
  • Car
  •  NOW.
  • Move

My kids like “routine” too even if they won’t admit it. Okay, honestly, I’m sure they’d prefer Mommy taking a less militant approach but this is the only one I’ve got. Anyway, they like knowing what to expect next. (My husband is the adventurous, no script required, one in our household.)

I take the same route to work every day … at the same times. If I have to make stops, I plan them so that I don’t have to deviate much.

Back-to-School this year has been torture because nothing is routine. Why?

I’ve spent most of the past year getting just me out the door. Sure I woke the boys and fed them and laid out their clothes but hubby handled getting them out the door (which is the hardest part). I was comfortable.

Now I am managing it all including drop offs. To a new school. That’s in a different direction. And Tuesdays and Thursdays are different than Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, thanks to 3 day a week kindergarten.

I am totally freaking out. It’s only been 4 days and we haven’t hit our stride which makes me weary.

Have you ever heard the 21-days-to-a-new-habit philosophy? You know, the theory that it takes 21 days of practicing something in order to forma new habit; for it to become automatic. It’s heavily touted in the world of motivation.

I’ve never made it to day 21 for any specific action or behavior that I wanted to make a habit. Mostly because I lose track; stop counting the days but keep practicing. Continued practice can lead to operating on autopilot. Let me be honest … I usually give up. Because I want results now … I don’t want to wait 21 days or longer.

I begin this new school year in the mode of trial and error which is driving me insane. Like pull my hair out, curl up in a ball, and suck my thumb, kind of crazy.

Best routes from the new school to work? I don’t know. Not yet. Best path with the least traffic to the new school from home? Not sure. Yet. Best way to get back to school and pick up the dudes? No, idea. At least, not yet.

There is one plus in all this uncertainty:  I am safe from any would be stalkers. Each day has been different.

Like yesterday morning when my youngest said, “I forgot my water battle in Daddy’s car.”
To which I replied, “You left it at home?”
“No. I left it in Daddy’s car.”
“Which is at home. Do you really need it?”
“Yes,” through tears.

I went back to the house to get it. Why? Because he’s already struggling with starting kindergarten and this gave him peace of mind. Because that’s the kind of mom I am. Because, like I said, I’m crazy.

Or, like Wednesday when we had to go by the sitters to pick up the new hoodie my youngest left there because he needed it for the first day of school. “It’s part of my uniform.” It didn’t matter that it was already 80 degrees out. We took the detour to get it.

Take that serial stalker … you’ll have to wait a few months for me to figure out my routine. Then you can pick the best spot to nab me. Okay … seriously … I prefer not to be stalked or killed or kidnapped.

Alright, fess up. What routines are you not willing to let go of? What habits do you wish you could keep the same but are forced into changing? I can’t be the only one bordering on the obsessive compulsive.

 

An End of an Era

This past year or so has found us saying goodbye to many talented people, who have shaped our culture and our lives …

Steve Jobs
Whitney Houston
Don Cornelius
Sherman Hemsley
Richard Dawson
Dick Clark
Donna Summer
Andy Griffith
Ray Bradbury

And that’s just a short list. With each announcement I feel the hit. Each marking the fact that we’ve come to an end of an era.

This week finds me saying goodbye to a personal celebrity and life influencer. A woman who’s been a part of my life for more than three decades.

She was known for her role as church mother. If you’re not familiar with the term “church mother” it is a title of respect for a woman who cares for everyone she comes in contact with. Very common in predominantly African-American churches. It’s the living out of the African proverb:  “It takes a whole village to raise a child.”

Church mothers were vital to me growing up. They filled the gaps when my Mom wasn’t available because of work. We even called her mother.

As a church mother she shared her faith, strength, and wisdom. She encouraged us and spent time with us. She taught Sunday School and sang in the church choir. To this day her version of Go Tell It on the Mountain is the version that resonates with me.

Others will come along and show me examples of faith and strength. They’ll even provide me wisdom. But gone is her voice and experience.

She was known for being a church mother but she was famous for her southern hospitality, down-home BBQ, and home made peach cobbler.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve had the opportunity to stand beside her in the kitchen. She tried to pass down the recipe for the famous peach cobbler. But she was from the school of just a pinch or a dab, a smidge or a dash. It couldn’t be written down in measurements I could follow:  teaspoon or tablespoon or cup or quart.

It’s lost to us.

But the memory of her and everything she had to offer our lives and culture will live on. I celebrate her life and honor her legacy …

Thank you Mother for the hand you had in raising me.