Yesterday I Was The Windshield

Today, I’m the bug.

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For the first time since getting my Fitbit six months ago, I hit all of my goals yesterday. I got all my steps, all my flights of stairs, all my minutes of activity, and all of my miles! And when I opened the app on my phone, the screen flashed stripes of green to celebrate!  That was SO cool!

As life’s journey is often one step forward and two steps back, I had a setback last night. One of my own making, to be sure.  But a setback nonetheless.  I was ravenously hungry after all of those steps!  And I fell face first into a bag of Fazoli’s bread sticks.  Buttery, garlic-y, soft, bleached wheat goodness.  Mmmm…  That’s when my body revolted.  I went to sleep in the wee hours of the morning with a stomach ache and woke up the same way.  I am dragging, completely lacking in energy.  My back hurts.  And I knew when I decided to chow on all those carbs exactly what I was setting myself up for.

Every time I eat that way, every time, (every time, Brandi!  Are you listening???), every single time, I notice how my body rejects the junk that I am feeding it.  I used to feel this way all the time, every day, so nothing was really different.  Then I shared the good stuff with myself.  The whole stuff.  The real stuff.  And I felt the difference.  I had the energy I needed to exercise and get things done around the house.  My joints didn’t ache so badly. My body functioned more optimally.  So then why? why? why??? do I continue to do this to myself?  I even wonder sometimes if I’m not sabotaging myself.  But for what purpose? To what end?

I have accomplished eating a good breakfast and making whole foods with lean protein for supper.  That’s the extent of my big hurrah for the day.  So, no step goal, no pictures, no challenges met today.  And there will be days like that.  And that has to be okay.  If I get lost in the frustration that I feel with myself, then finding my way back to joy and strength becomes darker, lonelier and harder.  So I’m going to give myself a day, and hope for a lesson learned and a more productive tomorrow.

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I hope that you are being good to yourself today and loving yourself the way that you deserve to be loved.  I hope that you are finding the strength and hope to overcome whatever obstacles you are facing this week, even if they are self-made obstacles like the one I am stumbling on.  I hope that I can report in with more challenges met tomorrow. You know what’s especially hopeful about tomorrow?  It’s Friday Eve!!!  Yay!!!  I can’t wait!  In the mean-time, Have a Wonderful Wednesday, friends!

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Challenge Accepted

I have a “regular” life.  It mostly involves cooking and laundry, animal care and various other home centered tasks.  I love this life.  It has been my world for the last twenty-one years and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  Unfortunately, some of my usual assignments are becoming obsolete as the boys become more self reliant.  That leaves quite a bit of free time.  When that free time isn’t filled constructively, I become self-DEstructive.  I sleep too much, exercise to little, rarely socialize and eat everything in sight.  So I’ve undertaken a few challenges to move myself outside of my comfort zone and find the life that is waiting for me on the other side of motherhood.  You already know that I am working on my 30 Days of Writing Challenge, and my Sneaky Cards Challenge.  I am also beginning a 30 Day Photography Challenge, a 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge and a 30 Days of Happiness Challenge.  I’m determined to challenge myself to grow and to find more of me along the way.

Today’s writing challenge is “A Quote You Try To Live By”.  As I am working on my health, I am constantly looking for ways to improve my chances of success.  One resource that I’ve found is daily affirmations.  One of my favorite affirmations is, “I am creative enough to find a solution for any problem.”  That is such an empowering belief!  And I find it to be very true.  Of course, all the solutions that I find may not be feasible, or perfect.  But I can always find a solution that will work.  Or at least, that’s been my life experience.  Every problem I have ever faced, I’ve found a solution for.  Sometimes the solution is nothing less than time.  Still, that is a solution.  When I feel afraid or confused, I remind myself that it will be okay, because I will find a solution.  Usually, that’s all the encouragement I need to be able to face the situation head on.

My friend Britney and I went to the library to watch “Hidden Figures” last night.  As a tried and true introvert, that’s outside of my safety zone, but I am so glad that I agreed to go.  We were the youngest people in the room.  That’s the first time that has happened to me in a long time!  It was kind of nice.  There were two ladies who I would guess to be in their late sixties at the table in front of us.  One was African-American, the other was Caucasian.  They were discussing whether they would be in town for the next movie night because they are going on a trip around that time.  As they chattered about their plans I was struck with wonder at their friendship.  How long had they been best friends?  Where did they meet?  What kinds of shenanigans do they get into together?  You could tell that they see each other at least a few days a week.  It was so precious, and it made my heart happy!  I want to be them when I grow up!  (Well, one of them.  If I am both of them then the only adventure I may get to go on is to the home for the senile, if ya’ know what I mean.  Actually…me being me…that’s not really that much of a stretch of the imagination.  Well, as long as me and I are happy together, I guess that’s all that really matters.)

While at the library, I snuck (spellcheck tells me that snuck is not a word, but I’m using it, and I bet you know what it means, so I think it is a word!)  Anyway, I SNUCK a Sneaky Card into my favorite library book.  Whoever finds it is supposed to add the name of my book to the list and then sneak it into their favorite library book.  Sneaky Card Challenge success?  Check!

Today’s Happiness Challenge was to go outside.  Britney and I went for a two hour walk around Georgetown to work on the Photography Challenge.  I usually struggle for 8,000 steps a day on my fitness tracker.  Today I had in 10,000 before 10:00 am.  Fitness Challenge success?  Check!  Happiness Challenge success?  Check!

My Photography Challenge for the day was “Street”.  You can decided for yourself if you think I had Photography Challenge success.  Personally, I say, “Check!”  This is my top choice for “Street”, taken on Opera Alley looking North toward Main Street in Georgetown.  This little alley has a TON of character!

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My second favorite was this shot, taken on North Court Street in Georgetown.

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And just for the fun of it…on our way home we stopped to capture some beautiful blooms.  Both of my talented friends, Britney and Mary have captured some awesome insect photos.  I wanted to try my hand.  I believe this is a Honeysuckle bush.

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I got ’em!  It’s as exciting as capturing Pokemon!

My Gratitude Challenge is “A Smell You’re Thankful For”.  There are two.  The first is allspice.  Allspice means that it is Christmas time.  Time for fried apple pies and country ham.  Allspice is memories of family gatherings at Nanny’s.  It is winter mornings with a fireplace crackling while my Mamaw is in the kitchen and I am in the floor with the Sunday comics spread in front of me.  I lay on my stomach and kick my feet in the air behind me and I giggle.  Allspice is the smell of love, and I am eternally grateful for the love of my family, for my heritage.  The other smell that I am thankful for is Diesel Fuel.  Diesel Fuel is the smell of my husband returning from work.  It is the security of a job that affords us the ability to live and love happily.  It means that Dean has come back to me safely.  I am grateful for the smell of Diesel Fuel.  For some it may not be a pleasant smell, but for me, it is another smell that means love and hope, security and peace.

So…that’s my busy day of LIFE!  I’m looking forward to another one tomorrow!  We’re almost half way to the weekend friends!  I hope the rain leaves you feeling refreshed and challenged to grow today!

 

 

Top 5

Thankfully today’s question is much easier than the last one.  My challenge is to list my top five favorite movies.  Tell me if you notice a theme.

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  1.  Juno
  2.  Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
  3.  Secondhand Lions
  4.  Big Fish
  5.  The Help

Any movie with a little laughter and a lot of love hits the spot with me.  I actually think I cried during all of these, but not so much that it took away from the sweet life lessons and the comedic relief.  I highly recommend any of these movies, or all of them.  As a matter of fact, I could definitely spend a day with a tin of popcorn, a gallon of sweet tea, a box of chocolates and a pack of tissues and binge watch these one right after the other.

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Just for balance, I think I’ll list my top 5 least liked movies.

  1.  Where The Red Fern Grows
  2.  Old Yeller
  3.  A Dog’s Purpose
  4.  Marley and Me
  5.  Anything where the damn dog dies or gets hurt.

I guess there’s a theme there, too.

Give me a rom-com any day of the week and I’ll be suckered in without fail.  Sweet Home Alabama is my number one.  I’m mean, Josh Lucas had me at, “You’re shittin’ me, rite?” Oh my word!  Other than, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.”, that is my favorite line from a movie, ever!  Even over, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” (As spoken by Patrick Swayze, of course.)  Swoon!

It’s a short post, but I think it probably tells you a lot about me.  What about your favorites?  Am I missing a really great, must see?  If so, leave me a note in the comments and I’ll put it on my watch list.  We watched “Before I Fall” last night.  It wasn’t bad.  We were either going to watch that, or “The Shack” and I think I’ve got to build some emotional stamina before I can watch “The Shack”.  That may be a Saturday night kind of movie, so I have the rest of the weekend to recover.

Speaking of movies, our library is having a free showing of “Hidden Figures” tonight and I’ve got a hot date to go see it with.  (Britney’s gorgeous.  Seriously!)  It’s another that I would highly recommend, with a lot of love, heart and some really great lessons in strength and compassion, too.  If you get a chance to watch it, I think you’ll be glad you did.  This is my third viewing and I don’t ordinarily re-watch movies unless they’re top notch.

It’s Monday again, already! I hope your Monday is filled with laughter and love and every blessing that you’re hoping for and that your weekend arrives quickly and goes by slowly!  Have a great day, friends!  Enjoy the sunshine!

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Hurt, Embarrassed, But Still Me

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I took some time last night to think a little more about what’s interesting about me.  I realized that I’ve been trying so hard to be Little Miss Sunshine that I’ve only been sharing part of who I am.

The truth is that I battle mental health demons every single day.  Some days it’s relatively easy.  The demons are pretty quiet, and I go about my business and feel accomplished and happy and loved and those days are better than great!  Sometimes I’ll even have many days in a row that are really good days.  But on the bad days, I feel utterly alone in the world.  I feel like no one wants to hear me complain about being sad, so I just keep it to myself.  I feel ugly, unlovable, unwanted, and ashamed of who I am.  I feel like my voice is sandpaper against the ears of anyone who has to listen to me. Those days are scary.  My breath is hard to swallow, I want to peel my skin off and be free of this stupid body, I just want to be normal.  And unfortunately I haven’t found a good way to cope with the demons yet.  But I did quit smoking last August, so at least I have one less unhealthy way of coping.  I’ll give myself any points I can get.  And I’ll keep learning and trying until I figure it out.  But I will not let the demons win.  I will not give up.

I also refuse to give up on my childlike wonder at the world around me.  I want to see and touch and feel and create new things every day.  I know that there are people who think I’m immature and weird.  I know that I can irritate people and get on their nerves with my overly enthusiastic excitement about some plan, or idea or event.  I don’t mean to stress people out.  I’m am just horribly afraid that if I settle down, learn to quiet myself so as not to disturb others then it won’t be long until I’m old, bored, crabby, mean, and frustrated.  I know people who live that way.  It doesn’t appeal to me.  So as long as I’m able to feel the exuberance of life, I  can not let it go.

I’ve had two best friends in my life.  I was lucky enough to marry one.  The other I met in eighth grade.  She was standing alone while everyone was participating in field day or some other outside event.  I got brave and went and introduced myself.  The rest is history.  For the last twenty-seven years, we’ve told each other secrets and giggled about unbelievably stupid inside jokes, we’ve lost touch and found each other, we’ve watched each others’ children become men, we’ve fought like sisters and made up like sisters, too.  I feel especially blessed to know and love her. She is full of laughter and wisdom, even on her bad days.  She makes the world a better place just because she’s in it.  This may seem like it’s an interesting fact about my best friend, rather than about me, but the truth is, without knowing her, I wouldn’t be who I am.  Her love and support helped to shape me into me!

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And finally (finally!), last but not least…my heart gets me in more damned trouble…from bringing home stray animals, to putting myself in the line of fire to protect a loved one, to making rash decisions, giving people too many chances to hurt me and a million other things, my heart has proven time and again that it just has no brain.

My most recent heart-brained idea was a new game called Sneaky Cards.  It’s a deck of 52 cards with various tasks to undertake.  Things like buying someone a coffee, using your non-dominant hand for a day, taking a selfie with a stranger, trying a new food.  All ideas meant to grow and stretch you as a human.  Once you complete a task, you give the card to someone else and they are supposed to join in and complete the task and pass the card along and so on and so forth.  The cards have tracking numbers, so if you’re lucky enough to pass your card to someone with the same crazy idea of fun as you, then you can see how far it goes.  Kind of like a game of tag mixed with a scavenger hunt, mixed with a little truth or dare.  A lot of the ideas are the kinds of things I have done anyway, like buying someone’s coffee or letting someone go ahead of me in line at the grocery. But there are also things that I haven’t tried, and it looked like fun, a good way to help bring some hope and love and laughter into the world.  And I figured it would give me something interesting to write about, so I bought the cards and started my adventure.  The first couple were relatively easy.  Hiding a card in a place where it would easily be found, giving a card to someone who made you smile.  Now, I had to finish grocery shopping today.  (Did I mention that I am a professional procrastinator.  Yeah?  Well, this serves as further proof.)  I took my deck with me, determined to get rid of at least two cards.  Finding someone to give our place to in line to was easy enough.  Explaining to this lady that I am playing a card game, was not quite as easy.  But she kindly smiled at me as though I were nuts (which I am) and took the card and I checked that one off the list.

The second card I wanted to get rid of was “Buy the first item on this list for a stranger, then add an item of $5 or less value and pass the card and item on to the next victim, er, player.”  The first item on the list was a candy bar.  I bought a Hershy Bar, KING SIZE! (Because that’s what I would want!) Then I added “a pack of gum” to the list.  I was set up for success!  Now to find my stranger.  This is harder than it seems at first glance.  I was afraid to give it to an older person because they may be on a restricted diet and I didn’t want to cause health issues. I thought of giving it to a child, but it seems those only come in twos or threes, and I didn’t want to start a family feud.  I didn’t want to give it to anyone coming into the store because I was concerned they might be stopped by an associate and asked for a receipt.  I waited until I got to the parking lot and looked for the perfect unsuspecting soul.  What to my wondering eyes should appear but a woman carrying a bouquet of flowers!  Perfect! If she didn’t eat chocolate then she could give the candy bar to the person she was taking flowers to and make the gift that much sweeter.  I walked up, and tried to hand her the card and candy bar.  She shook her head no.  Now I know, I look like a Jehovah’s Witness at this point, but I tried to explain, quickly, that it is a game, there’s no church involved, no sales pitch, no strings attached.  So I have to tell you that when she rolled up her window and began to back out of the parking space, it hurt my feelings.  She looked disgusted by my offer. So with tears in my eyes feeling embarrassed, head down, I walked to the car and we headed home.  Dean was livid.  My heart was hurt, I was confused and sad.  Ouch!

Here’s the kicker though.  I’ve been listening to talks and books by Brene Brown about vulnerability.  She is excellent at explaining how we can only live wholeheartedly if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with one another.  Which is part of the reason I bought the cards in the first place.  I knew going into it that there was a real possibility of being rejected.  I put my heart out there anyway.  And yes, it was broken.  I am so sad that the world has become so cynical that a free gift is cause for alarm.  But I have decided that I am going to be me in spite of the world’s cynicism.  I am going to have fun giving away a free candy bar no matter how many times I am rejected.  I am going to be proud that I am spreading light in the world.  I will remain soft, and will not allow the world to make me bitter.  And in my humble opinion, that is the most important interesting fact that you need to know about me.

This exercise has been fun.  I’m looking forward to the next one! I hope light falls on your face and on your path as you journey through the coming week.  If you have a chance to give someone “frontsies” in line this week, or spread your own kind of light, I hope you’ll take it.  Let’s start a kindness wave!  I’ll go first.  You are amazing, and you are loved, and you are appreciated.  Bask in that!

Who Am I?

In continuation of my 30 days of writing experiment, I have ten more items to list under “interesting facts about me”.  Here’s one…I’m terrified that I’m not really interesting.  I hear people talk about how their story can inspire others.  In church circles they call it your “testimony”.  I’m not sure that being a blanket collector would qualify me to testify.

I guess I could testify that there are exceptions to every rule.  I was pregnant when I married at 20.  We had nothing.  And we lost most of that.  I cried more nights than I can count because I was terrified that we would end up in a homeless shelter.  By the grace of my parents, that didn’t happen.  And things got better.  Not all at once, but by degrees. And even though most of the people at our wedding figured they would be watching our divorce proceedings within two years, we celebrated 21 years of marriage last month. By my calculations, we have at least 40 more ahead of us.  Not too bad for a couple of kids who had no idea what they were doing.  I’m pretty proud of that.  So many times I was told that yes, there are exceptions to the rule, but I/we would not be that exception.  I was right and we are the exception and for that I hold my head up high.

Maybe part of the reason that we’ve lasted so long is because I’m a hopeless romantic.  I watched all the movies about how life would try to tear apart two people in love.  But in the end, love was always stronger than anything that tried to break it.  I believe in that. I have always worked to give love the extra edge it needs to prevail.  Dean has done the same.  So although we originally fell “in” love, now we succeed “at” love.  Not every minute of every day, of course, but as a whole, definitely.

I have an addiction to logic puzzles.  There are seek-and-find games that come out each November.  In October, when the release date is announced, I begin asking for them for Christmas.  By the time the release date comes, I’ve gotten myself so excited that, inevitably, I buy the game for myself.  I like the seek-and-find part, but even better are the mini-games between chapters that are very much like “Escape Game” puzzles. Sometimes I get frustrated because my brain doesn’t work the way the game requires it to work. That’s when I call in Investigators Dean and Vance.  I am fascinated by the way they see the world which is often in direct contrast with the way that I see it.  Things that I struggle with over and over again, they solve in a matter of minutes.  That’s pretty awesome team work, and maybe THAT is why I love the games so much.  That and I’m nosy, ahem, I mean curious,  so solving a mystery is right up my ally!

I love to read.  Or I used to, back when there was more time.  Where does that stuff keep disappearing to, anyway?  Now I find myself captured by one author at a time, and I will read and read and read until I have inhaled all of their words and then I wait and pace for the next release date.  Currently, I am waiting for Joshilyn Jackson’s newest book, Almost Sisters.  If you haven’t read any of her books, I can not recommend them highly enough.  My favorites are Between, Georgia and The Opposite of Everyone.  I bought The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Joshilyn Jackson’s book Gods in Alabama was a recommendation by Amazon.  I was desperate for SOMETHING to read so I gave it a shot. It was good.  But it seemed like each book I read got better than the last.  She writes in a way that pulls me into the story from the very beginning and keeps me there until the end.  You can’t go wrong with a writer like that!  I aspire to that kind of writing!

So there’s five more facts about me.  Ten down, five to go.  Shew, this is harder work than I expected.  I look forward to moving on to the next question!  Oh…one more fact about me…I am a professional procrastinator, so yesterday when I said I had to go run errands, I only finished half of what I needed to get done.  I’m on my way out the door to finish the rest, now.  Hey…that was a fact!  I’m down to four!  Ha-cha!

The sunshine is fantastic today!  Put on your shorts and soak it in! Here’s a picture of another day when the sunshine was dazzling!  Look closely and you’ll see the swarm of butterflies who were basking in it.  I hope your weekend is a light and carefree and beautiful as they are!

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Your laughter brings me sunshine
Everyday is spring time
And I am only happy when you are by my side
How precious is this love we share
How very precious, sweet and rare
Together we belong like daffodils and butterflies

-Love Is Like A Butterfly, Dolly Parton

Thirty Days of Writing

I am undertaking a new challenge!  Thirty days of writing.  Surely something good will come of this!  There’s only one way to find out.  I’m diving in, head-first!

Today’s challenge is to post a recent picture of myself and share 15 interesting facts about me.  I don’t have a lot of recent pictures of myself.  But this one…20170507_100002

would have to be one of my favorites.  It’s not a pretty pose, but it’s got so much of what I love all in this one place, and you can see that on my face.  As an added bonus, I’m wearing my cool-as-all-get-out zoo print, multi-colored 5K sunglasses.  If that’s not my personality, I don’t know what is.  Dean was pumping gas, and I couldn’t hold Patches up and take the selfie at the same time or else you could see the complete picture of what makes me wholly happy.

Fifteen things that are “interesting” about me…Hmmm…

Well, I’ve recently learned to French Braid my own hair!  This is driving Dean crazy because now I won’t do ANYTHING else with it.  After thirty years of standing  on my head trying to blow dry my hair into a “style”, now I jump out of the shower, braid it up and I’m done.  Awesomesauce!  I’m sure the novelty will wear off eventually.  And it’s not anywhere near perfected, but I’m always excited to learn something new!

I may or may not have told you before, but I still sleep with my baby blanket.  It is in tattered shreds now…more balls of yarn wadded together than anything that really resembles a blanket.  But my Gramma made it for me before I was born and I have been deeply attached to it for as long as I can remember.  My parents had to drive thirty plus miles back to town to pick it up more than once so that I could sleep.  It was beside me at each of my births, through both of my surgeries, a piece was in by bouquet when I married Dean.  I’ve cried over broken hearts, and snuggled down with it after the worst days of my life.  It’s been wrapped around beloved pets, my “babies” and covered me as I napped at Mamaw’s.  It’s not going anywhere until they bury me with it.

My husband loves me so much that he conspired with his Mom to make me a new one. They made it as a surprise, and it meant the world to me.  The first night that I lay down with it, I snuggled into it and though, there is no one in this world who has ever loved me or will ever love me more than this man does.  He would do anything to protect my heart and make me smile.  As much as I love words, trying to compress the love we have into just a few words is pretty impossible.  Suffice it to say, I am loved and I am grateful for that!

This is just number four?  Oh my…hmmm…well, on the subject of blankets, I think I may be somewhat of a blanket hoarder.  This is kind of a recent development.  When my Gramma passed away, we were looking through her trunk and found the blanket that she and Grampa had on their bed for many, many years of their marriage.  I took it right home and put it on my bed.  Unfortunately, it is starting to fray from years of use, too, so it has been put away now, but it is still very precious to me.  Then there is my t-shirt quilt, made of shirts from my family, and the boys, and Dean, shirts we’ve made together as art projects while homeschooling, and shirts from the different plays that we’ve done.  There are many, many memories in that quilt. I have a blanket that Nanny made, and of course, my Huggie blanket, and my new blanket.  But the truth is that I’m more of a collector of moments.  Somehow it seems to me that many of our dreams and hopes and loves get caught in our blankets and I want to surround myself with as many of those moments as I can.

That leads right on into the fact that I’m a hopeless romantic.  All that being a hopeless romantic entails, that’s me.  I love a good love story better than anything.  Give me the Prince William and Princess Katherine wedding every day of the year.  That would be bliss!  So once you’ve finished barfing, you can come back and finish reading.  I’ll wait…

Well…that’s five.  I think I’m going to have to give this a bit more thought.  Unfortunately, I have a ton of errands to run so I can’t finish right now.  But I’ll be back! Hope to see you here!

Have an AMAZING weekend friends!

Want $20? Give Me A Promotion!

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I am having a hard time writing lately.  For someone who feels she has a natural inclination toward writing, it sure ain’t coming easy.  I think part of the problem is that there are all kinds of things that I am avoiding.  Like the fact that Vance is about to begin his senior year of high school, and that my chest literally hurts from missing my mountains so much, and that there are twins in Northern Kentucky that stole my heart in the span of one afternoon and I miss their sweet smiles, GREAT BIG HUGS, and mesmerizing giggles.  I’m trying to keep living and planning and looking forward, but my heart is eternally pulled backward.  There was a time when looking backward hurt because it was filled with bad memories of school and other heartbreaks.  Now it hurts because it’s filled with so much happiness and laughter and love.  And bittersweet though it may be, that’s the blessing.  I’m not complaining.  I am, however, avoiding.

I have been thinking a lot about athletes who get “in the zone”.  Sometimes my writing is like that.  With-in the first couple of sentences I can feel the funny and it just pours out in easy prose.  That is my favorite time to write.  That’s when I know that what I write is going to be a joy for others to read.  ‘Cause like anyone, I love it when people love what I do.  And it makes me sad when I fail to catch the attention of my audience.  But as my hero, Dita Von Teese would say, “Ignore the critics…only mediocrity is safe from ridicule. Dare to be different!”  I’m trying Dita!  It ain’t as easy as you make it sound!

I did realize that part of my problem is that I am an emoji addict.  I use those little buggers everywhere on my Facebook and in texting.  I am so dramatic that in general, to get my point across, it takes three of any given emoji to express how emphatically I feel on a subject.  If I send you three hearts, it’s because I love you three times more than one heart can hold.  If I post three smiles, it’s because I am super-dee-duper happy! Here, I am limited to using punctuation  and capitalizing words to make my feelings understood. It’s like, prehistoric and barbaric, if you ask me.  So I would have to say that a lack of emojis interferes with my writing ju ju.  Of course, I could take the advice most commonly miss-attributed to Hemingway, “Write drunk, edit sober.” Then I probably wouldn’t even notice the missing emojis.  The problem being that alcohol turns to sugar once in the body and so being drunk makes one fat.  (Insert sad emoji here.)  I don’t need help with gaining weight.  I can do that all by myself.  So I have to write sober, without emojis and I’m telling you THE STRUGGLE IS REAL! (Insert sweating emoji here.) (See, it’s just not the same!)

I want to share more with you about our trip, and I will.  But right this moment I’m still reeling from being back so quickly.  I just can NOT understand why that happens.  We started planning about eleven weeks out and nearly every day of that eleven weeks I gave a status report to the guys about how much longer.  Those eleven weeks were some of the longest of my life.  I know you know what I’m talking about.  But then the morning came to head down to Tennessee and next was the morning to come home, just that fast. I remember saying as we left town that one thing the Smoky Mountains does well is to leave you wanting more.  I would like to visit other places, to explore more of our country.  But somehow those mountains call to me, begging me to come back and admire their beauty, like a long lost love.  Maybe it’s just infatuation, but I think of them every day, and miss them.  Say what you will about “energies” and “spiritual connections”, I’ve seen other mountains.  None have captured a piece of my soul and held it hostage like those in Eastern Tennessee.  The others don’t live and breathe and reach for me the way that the Smokies do.  I miss them.  There is a physical ache in my chest from wanting to stand beside them and smell them and listen to their music and wisdom.  And so, as with any broken heart, I will talk about it when I’m ready. When it hurts a little less to miss them.

Which brings me to this: since I am struggling a bit to write, I am going to try to do a 30 day challenge.  You can learn a little more about me each day, and maybe I’ll even learn a little something about myself.  And hopefully find my ju ju!  In the mean time, some food for thought.  I would like to grow my blog, but I’m quite shy about self-promotion, even though that’s exactly what I have to do.  So during the month of July, for every share or re-blog of “Sanity Not Included”, as a “thank you”  I will enter your name in a drawing to win a $20 pre-paid Visa.  The drawing will be held on the last day of July and to be fair I will have my son, Vance, who doesn’t read my blog or use FB (I KNOW, RIGHT???) draw the name.  Sorry, Dean, sorry Shayne, as much as I’d like you to win so you could take me to dinner, morals dictate that you can’t play.  Everyone else is good to go!   I will take pictures to keep the drawing on the up and up.  The winner will be announced on August 1st.  Don’t worry, even if you are far away, I can send an eGift Card to you. Simple as pie!  If you would like to share my blog before the contest starts on July 1st, please feel free to do so.  If there’s something you enjoy reading about, or something you’d like to know, please let me know in the comments and I’ll work the suggestions or answers in the blog.  I’ll give you credit for the suggestion and you will be FAMOUS!  (Well, at least in my heart.  But that’s what’s important, right?) (Insert smiley emoji here.  Ugh.)

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Okay…rambling, check.  Complaining, check.  Self-promotion, check.  I guess that’s all for today then.  Thank you so much for reading and supporting me even when my brain won’t.  I hope you’re all getting out there and enjoying summer!  It never lasts long enough.  “Carpe Diem!”  or, “Hold My Beer!”,   or “YOLO!”  Whatever generation you’re from, I hope that you’re making the best of these beautiful, warm days and that your weekend is filled with all the love, laughter and adventures that life has to offer!

 

Purdy Squirrel’s Nuts

I’m trying to gather myself to share our adventures with you.  This post seems not at all cohesive to me.  Possibly because as I write, both sons are talking to me, my phone is alerting me to notifications, the dog needs out, I have to pee and my Fitbit is telling me that I need to get my 250 steps per hour in.  Shew, I guess maybe I should pat myself on the back for getting anything written at all!

Anyway, I got your attention with the title, didn’t I?  That’s marketing!  And they use that to their full advantage in tourist towns.  I didn’t get pictures for proof, so you’ll have to take me at my word.  We were intrigued by the Purdy Squirrels store.  That one inspired lots of conversation about Jedidiah getting too up close and personal with a Purdy Squirrel. And at the “Try My Nuts” store, there was a picture of a Purdy Squirrel.  I’ll let you imagine all the different types of nuts that were for sale.  That inspired lots of conversation, also.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to stop in to find out for myself.

Of course, these stores were on the main drag, which we got to by passing Boogertown Road.  I don’t know if it’s named after a kid who couldn’t keep his finger out of his nose or the Boogerman and Haints.  Since neither of those options appealed to us, we didn’t go investigating.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Before we left, I told you to keep an eye out for Happy Turtle.  By now you know that I have the best of intentions but my plans often go awry. My plan was to carry Happy Turtle with me and to take pictures of him having fun adventuring about Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.  The thing is, I got so busy having fun myself that I kind of lost track of time and Happy Turtle’s greatest adventure was the drive down and back.  He did get to do a lot of lounging around in the bed though.  But look at that bed!  It was a beautiful one to lounge around in!  Just ask little Feeney.

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We were slightly unnerved by our rental when we arrived, for a few reasons.  There were a couple of doors that were locked and we had no access to.  We began to wonder who might be hiding behind those doors and what they intended for us.  This was compounded by the strange bags that were filled with a clear liquid, hanging in the closets.  We suspected those might be IV bags…filled with what and for what purpose, we did not know.  There was also a lingering smell of the Avon perfume that little old ladies wear.  Strangely, although you usually adjust to your surroundings, that smell didn’t dissipate the entire time we were there.  But the final nail in the coffin, as it were, was the empty Omaha Steaks box sitting in the closet on the shelf with the board games. What in the heck??? I was pretty sure that before the end of this trip we were going to be packaged and sent to some poor family for dinner.  As you can see, we made it home safely, but heed my warning…take care when booking a place for vacation.  You could end up at the Hotel California!  Or at least with a good story to tell!

So after surviving our fist night, Vance and I decided to tempt fate again.  We went zip lining at Foxfire Mountain.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.  We will definitely be doing more of that.  Though I wasn’t sure about it at first, as this video will attest:  (Sorry for the video quality, but the sound is really the attraction here.)

 

Vance decided during this adventure that his life’s calling is to be a zip line guide.  He may make his home in the Smokies some day.  Wherever my boys call home, I hope it’s in a place and doing a job that they love.  That makes for a life well lived, and that’s what I want for them.

After heading back to the cabin to check on the girls, we planned to ride the giant wheel and the Alpine Coaster, but we got a different sort of thrill ride instead.  A sensor of some type went shot in the car and it died in a curve on a two lane road on the side of the mountain.  We finally got it re-started and kept heading toward town but it died again. My truck driver Mario-Karted us down the side of that mountain with no power steering and barely any breaks.  I was so proud of him and so impressed by his abilities!  And more than a little relieved to hit the bottom of that mountain!  The universe was on our side as he got her started one more time and she sputtered to a stop in Auto Zone’s parking lot.  This is how we spent the rest of our evening:

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The boys were shook up and sad.  I think they thought vacation was over.  But Dean and Vance and a really nice, exceptionally helpful tattooed woman at Auto Zone got us going again.  I used this as a teaching moment (as much for myself as anyone).  We are creative enough to find a solution to any problem.  We have abundant resources available to us to work the solution.  As long as we have each others’ backs, we can overcome anything.  I hope my boys learn that earlier in life than I did.  Life is so much easier when you aren’t fighting against the flow all the time.

So, most of us have a three day weekend coming up as we celebrate Memorial Day.  The only thing better than a two day weekend is a three day weekend!  We are visiting with my longest and dearest friend this weekend and then helping Daddy to decorate on Monday.  Helping him decorate is always one of my favorite days of the year.  It’s filled with togetherness, memories and love.  The very best and sweetest of what life has to offer.  I hope the rest of your week and your weekend is full of the abundance of life, my friends.  A heartfelt thank you to those men and women who put their everything on the line so that we can sleep, celebrate and work in peace.  I salute you.

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Where It All Began

Twenty-one years ago tonight, at twenty years old, I was still just a baby.  You couldn’t have convinced me of that though.  I knew it all.  HA!

I was watching the night fall from the bedroom window, feeling lonely for my best friend.  I was wondering what he was up to, how he was feeling, what he was thinking.

I was wondering what the road ahead looked like.  I tried to imagine it.  Would it hold lots of sunshine and dreams come true?  Would it be bumpy and short?  I imagined it every way I could think of but even in the worst case scenarios my best friend was right there with me, every step of the way.  Sometimes he might be carrying me, sometimes he might be leaning on me for support, sometimes we might be skipping along hand in hand, but always we were together.

I had my dress ready, and my shoes set out.  My make-up was packed and my mind was made up.  I was jumping in, head first!

Twenty-one years ago tomorrow morning, I got up and headed to Georgetown to begin the preparations for the big day!  I dressed at my Nanny’s house with my mom, and family and friends hurrying around me to fix my hair and make-up and add the finishing details…old, new, borrowed, blue…and we headed to the church.

I am not sure how long I was at the church before my best friend finally arrived.  I remember asking each friend or family member that would peek in to check on me if they had seen him.  Each time they said they had not, I got a exasperated with him again.  He is not one for propriety and etiquette.  But I never doubted that he would show up.  I never doubted him for a minute.  The rest of the world might be losing their minds, but he was, and still is, always cool and collected.  And he loves me.  This man would never do anything that he thought would hurt me.  Even though his friend had told him that he would leave a motorcycle running right outside in case he changed his mind, I knew he’d be there.  He would pick me over a Harley.  For him, that is a mouthful!  He loves me.

Watching the video now, I can see him walk into the church three minutes before the pastor began to ring the bells announcing a new chapter about to begin for us.  He tells me now that he was actually there about TEN minutes before the service was to start, but he had to go back out to the car because he had forgotten the ring.

We met at the front of a tiny little church, with our closest friends and family gathered around us.  You wouldn’t recognize him if you saw him.  Maybe he wasn’t ALWAYS totally cool and collected.  The man looked terrified.  When I ask him about it now, he tells me that he didn’t want to cry.  Maybe.  If he were terrified, heaven knows that he had every right to be.  We had no idea where that road ahead was going.  We only knew that we were going together.

So in a tiny little church, in a tiny little town, in front of a tiny little gathering, two hearts full of love began one huge adventure!  We would take a tiny little honeymoon and head back to our tiny little house and we’d make our way down a long road.  We would walk together through sunshine, and we would run together from the rain, we would jump in puddles and we would laugh.  And we would love.  And we would make a family, make mistakes, make-up when we’d fall out.

Twenty-one years ago I didn’t have a clue where we were going, or how we were ever going to get there.  Today, I’m proud to say that we made it!  We’re here!  In our happily ever after.  We’re dancing down the road now.  Sometimes we step on each other’s toes. Sometimes we hold on to each other like we might drown.  Sometimes we do the funky chicken.  And we laugh.

I know it’s cliche, but it bears repeating.  I’m proud of every day of the last twenty-one years.  I’m proud that we kept fighting through the “for worse” until we finally got to the “for better”.  I’m proud of my best friend.  I chose well!  And I’m proud of the reflection I see when I look in his eyes, because I never look more perfect than I do when I see myself there.  Damn, it’s been hard sometimes.  It’s looked impossible.  But we figured it out together.  And for that I am grateful.  And I hate to be greedy, but the last twenty-one have been so beautifully amazing that I’d like to request at least fifty-four more.  And then, wherever we end up after this life, I’d like to request another hundred, and another hundred after that…until infinity.  Because that’s how much we love, and how much we laugh.

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Happy Anniversary, Baby!  I love you infinitely!  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart and soul, for every second of the trek.  There could be no better hiking partner for me, than you.

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We’re Ba-a-a-ck!

Did ya’ miss us?  We’ve been in the mountains having some crazy adventures!  We rented a cabin so our whole family could go.  Furbabies, too!  We got lots of pictures and I even took notes so that I could remember all the moments.  Because the boys are practically adults now, and Patches is eleven, it’s possible that this may be the last family vacation that we get to take (though I’m open to being wrong here…just a thought for the universe).  If this was the last one then I have to say, we picked a great one to go out on.  We had so many laughs and challenged ourselves to overcome fears.  I couldn’t ask for it to have been better.  Color me blessed and joyful!

Before we set out Shayne and Vance were already up to their antics.  They were discussing our digs.  Vance said, “I can’t believe there are TWO bathrooms at the cabin!  Either two or three!”  (There are often lines around here for the bathroom.  If I can offer one piece of advice to new homebuyers, it would be to spring for the second bathroom.  It will more than pay for itself!)  I told Vance that we would have two bathrooms while we were on vacation to which Shayne replied, “Ooo!  That’s a REAL vacation!”  He was right.  We’re back, and back to standing in line.  I sure do miss the freedom of the mountains.  Of course, Dean was very proud to make it a three bathroom get-away.  As he would take the dogs out in the morning, he would mark territory with them.  The neighbors get agitated when he does that here in town.  Go figure.

The night before we left, Shayne and Vance took Jerry the Piggie to stay with my mom while we were gone.  We packed all of Jerry’s food and supplies in a shoe box.  Shayne told Mom that she was all set.  Supplies for the piggie if he lived and a ready made casket for him if he didn’t.  Ah, the optimism of youth!  There’s a bright side to everything, right?

So off we were…(and we actually left on time!  That’s gotta be a record!!!)

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When we left out, we were all running on about two hours of sleep.  You know that Disney commercial where the little boy says, “I’m too excited to sleep!”?  Yeah, that was us.  So by the time we got there, after a tour of every bathroom off of I-75 South (getting old sucks!), we were definitively slap happy, verging on delirious.  The first thing we noticed is that there are a LOT of churches in the mountains.  Like, a LOT!  Like, seven on every mile long stretch of road.  We think there must be mucho sin going on in Sevierville.  It’s probably not being committed by the good country people that live and work there, though.  I’d say it’s more likely that it’s brought in by the heathen outsiders, like us.  And due to our infecting their countryside, they seem to need a LOT of Jesus down there.  As we were discussing this, Vance asked if it is okay to make Jesus jokes while we were there.  I told him that I was sure it was fine.  I’m of the belief that Jesus has a sense of humor.  But then Vance took the joking a bit too far.  He asked if it was okay to make Dolly jokes while we were there.  Aw, hell naw!  Don’t nobody talk crap about Dolly!  We don’t go there!  That’s blasphemy in that neck of the woods!  I guess I made the point clear, because he didn’t make that mistake twice!  Gee wiz, man!  Dolly built those mountains by the sweat of her bosom and with her own two finely manicured hands!  I don’t know what he was thinking.  Good grief!

I have so many stories to share that I can’t get them all in one post.  Here’s a sneak peek, though.

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This was our morning view.  I paid a lot more attention to these mountains this trip than I have any other trip before.  I think the fear of losing them to the wild fires this past winter really opened my eyes.  I had the realization that life is fragile and the last time can come and go before you ever realize it’s the last time.  This kind of awakening has the power to make us appreciate things we may have taken for granted before, doesn’t it?  I can promise you this.  If for any reason this was the last time I ever see these mountains, I will not forget them or the smiles and togetherness that they gave to my family.  I’m grateful.  For what we’ve have had, for what is to come, and for all of the love in my life.

We’re home now.  So stay tuned!  I’ve got lots more laughter and adventures to share with you!  In the mean time, I hope that your next week is as spectacular as our last week!  I love all you turkies!

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