To post today or not to post

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Near the first of November, I committed to a post a day challenge for the entire month.  At first, it seemed fairly easy to keep up and prompts provided fodder for my imagination and helped keep me motivated.

However, I have learned something about myself and I am sincerely interested in how other bloggers may feel about my thoughts.

When I am in the mood to write, or when a topic is heavy on my heart or a memory so close I can touch it, the words simply flow from my pen.  It’s easy, and those are what I consider to be my best posts.

In the times that I am trying to force myself to meet a quota (like every day), I feel like my posts are lacking.  Some days, there may be a great prompt that brings back a beautiful memory and I can roll with it.  Other days, it seems as if I can’t focus at all and if I force myself to dig in and write anyway, it doesn’t feel right and I am not pleased with the finished product.  I call these my “inferior” posts.

I understand that we should all write regularly and be motivated to start something and finish it, but I guess I am just not sure that posts with a “deadline” are my thing.  I certainly couldn’t see myself writing for a daily newspaper.

I started to ask, “Is this okay?” but I know it is for me.  I don’t plan to give up and will continue to make the time to write more frequently, but if I miss a day or two, I give myself permission not to stress.

I welcome your insight and comments.

Have a great week!

Guilty, But Grateful

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Grateful and Guilty.”

The Prompt:  Whether it’s a trashy TV show, extra-pulpy fiction, or nutrient-free candy, write a thank-you note to your guiltiest guilty pleasure

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I am writing to thank you for your black and white yumminess, and the way a mere twist of the wrist renders two pieces.  I appreciate the fact that the way you are made offers me a variety of options to enjoy you; all at once, one dark side alone, one dark side with a smattering of creamy goodness, or your creamy inside scraped away to enjoy detached from it’s middle position.   You know I don’t allow myself this luxury often, but when I do, I savor every delectable bite.  The only thing that improves this experience is a lovely glass of milk to dip you in.

Sincerely,

One of your biggest (and I would mean literally if I didn’t exercise self-control) fans

 

Can you guess my guilty pleasure?

Weekly Writing Challenge: Just call me ears

Weekly Writing Challenge:  Eavesdropping

This prompt immediately brought me back to a story from my childhood.

It was the summer before 3rd grade and definitely some of the leaner years for my family, fiscally speaking.  My dad had been a fishing guide, a commercial fisherman and a stone crabber and was still doing the latter two.  Some of the locals from our Southwest FL community would often go to Louisiana and fish whenever things weren’t going as well here.  I’m not sure if it was the lack of product, the prices or just the need for a change that compelled my dad to try his luck in Louisiana, but I wasn’t very happy about it.

News travels fast in a small town and it wasn’t long until people were talking about our impending move and lamenting on what in the world my grandparents would do without those grand babies.  I overheard people wondering if my dad was doing the right thing and guessing as to why he might be going.  I didn’t repeat any of that, at least that I recall.  It is possible that I did though, because if I got in trouble it was usually because I said something I shouldn’t have said or repeated something that was not meant to leave the family dinner table.

My relatives would tell you I was infamous for pretending to read a book and listening to all sorts of juicy tidbits.  I remember sometimes one of them would clear their throat and motion my direction and mouth the word “ears”.  It really isn’t my fault that they chose to speak in front of me anyway.  If the information was classified, they should have known not to say it within earshot of me.  I feel like I need to clarify that my family was not the type that sat around gossiping about people, because they were far from it.  My dad was very strict about how we treated others and taught us to treat everyone with respect.  The things discussed were normally family business that just didn’t need to be shared.

We were sitting in our car, my mom and I and possibly my brother and sister, although it was much more likely that they had jumped out with my dad to check on his boat.  One of my great-aunts was walking up to my mom’s window to chat.  She had on her polyester pants and sunglasses; she always seemed to sport both.  She was smiling and talking to my mother and I and she looked at me and said, “Honey, now why is your daddy going to carry you off to Louisiana?”  I replied, “Because he said he is tired of nosy, busy body relatives knowing all of his business”.

The conversation ended shortly thereafter, for reasons I only understood in retrospect.  It took the talk and the spanking to drive it home.  The talk hurt worse than the spanking because I came to realize that I had hurt someone’s feelings and possibly marred my dad’s reputation as the nice young man that he was, who had great respect for his elders.

I am sure my eavesdropping got me into trouble other times as well, but eventually I learned.  I was taught that it was rude and nosy and shouldn’t be done. However, I believe there are times when it is appropriate.   For example, as a parent, I did profit a few times by eavesdropping whereby gaining information I would never have been privy to otherwise; information that aided in better parenting.   I don’t know any parents who haven’t  employed it with teenagers.

In our times of crowded subways, office cubicles and people who seem to want the world to hear their cell phone conversations, it is very difficult not to “listen in ” at times.  I think the rules of etiquette have changed on this one , but I still try to show good manners by moving away from something that I overhear, when it’s clear the conversation is private.

Agree to disagree

Thursday night

The Prompt:  What is the most controversial thing you’ve ever written on your blog? What compelled you to write it?

One of my posts called Thursday Thoughts was written because I get tired of the double-standard in place in society about offenses, especially due to beliefs.  I am not controversial and don’t really even consider this particular post to be, but it’s the closet thing I have.

It only gets better

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The Prompt:  Present-day you meets 10-years-ago you for coffee. Share with your younger self the most challenging thing, the most rewarding thing, and the most fun thing they have to look forward to.

 

The din of the coffee shop conveyed the morning rush but the sound of the tables being cleared and the bell on the front door were characteristic of the morning hustle and bustle and more comforting than annoying to a soul who thrived on early mornings, coffee and conversation.

She walked in as I was beginning my second cup, and although our manner of dress was similar, she was a good 10 lbs. lighter than me and her hair seemed fuller and shinier.  There weren’t any signs of sun damage or wrinkles and when we shook hands, hers were smoother.  She at first appeared a little shy and intimidated, so I set out to make her feel as comfortable as possible, knowing exactly how that feels.

Maybe she was a little shocked at what 10 years can do to a person in the aging department, but she would have never mentioned that.   I was a little shocked that she showed up at all, knowing that she hates science fiction and would have had a hard time believing she was going to be meeting her future self.  She isn’t very adventurous, so you see this was a huge leap from the norm.

She was anxious to get on with our meeting and probably to get back home and ponder on all this, so she pressed me to get on with what I came to share.

I said, “I don’t understand this any more than you do, but I am here to share with you a few things that will help you”

“In the next 10 years, you will grow spiritually, which will help you in every area of your life.  You will learn to let some things go and fully grasp others.  You will face the challenge of loss; the loss of people dear to you and the loss of your children leaving the nest.  Both of these things will be tough and the pain will linger, but you will get through it.

The most rewarding occurrence will be the birth of your first grandchild.  I can’t even begin to prepare you for this.  You will be there when she is born and she will immediately steal a huge chunk of your heart.  Her smiles and laughter and hugs will have a value that is unexplainable.  Some of the most fun things you do will involve her and you will find yourself more adventurous because of her.  She will motivate you to stay young at heart.

You will travel a lot and complete your list of visiting all of the U.S. and then some and finally go to Europe.  You will have fun with your husband, even more so when the children are gone as you learn to depend upon each other more and realize what you have.

All in all, the next 10 years will test you but you will learn and grow from the experiences.  You will learn to be comfortable with who you are and to just let go and live more often.  You will lose the concern over what others think and delight instead, in what your Creator thinks.  You will become stronger and more courageous.  I can honestly tell you that most things only get better from here.”

My message was short and sweet and I told her that this was all I really came to say.  She thanked me and we both got up to go.  I knew she wouldn’t ask too many questions; it’s not her way.

And after all, the smile on my face, the confidence in my speech and the joy in my heart was telling.  She was looking at who she would become and I don’t think it frightened her at all.  This warmed my soul.

The more candles, the brighter the shine

Happy Birthday to me

My 47th birthday

The Prompt:  Do you enjoy growing old or do you fight against it?

Do I enjoy growing old or do I fight against it?   I suppose I could quote some old adage, like, “You’re only as old as you feel” or “Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.”   To be perfectly honest though, I would have to say both.  I am enjoying myself but I wouldn’t hesitate in some regards to slow it down.

As I approach 50, what Victor Hugo referred to as the “youth of old age”, I think one of the best things about aging is that I am finally comfortable with who I am.  I know precisely what I want, and what I will and will not tolerate.  There is something liberating in being able to be unapologetically yourself.  Gone are the days of trying to impress and worrying so much about what others think.

There are silly inconsequential things that give me great pleasure, like having finally discovered exactly how I like certain things, like my tea or toast and not settling for anything else.   I have embraced the fact that I am a home body and that I relish times of solitude.  No longer do I strive to change things about myself that are an inherent part of my makeup.

For me, growing older is a time of much greater faith, considerable confidence and thankfully more wisdom.  I say thankfully, because I have noticed that age does not always guarantee wisdom.  You have to have been willing to learn and grow from life’s experiences, you must implement change and hearken to the voice of reason.

As much as I am comfortable in my own skin, (except for the occasional hot flash) I would be lying if I said I didn’t have some degree of vanity over preserving it, for as long as possible.  I probably spend too much on moisturizers and my trip to the salon to cover the grey isn’t something I plan on giving up anytime soon.  I try to exercise daily, which has been impeded as of late due to a heel spur, which is causing knee pain as I favor the foot.  I could elaborate on recent ailments that I am assured are a part of life now and to be expected.  I will war against them with tenacity.

I suppose we could conclude that I love the inner workings of getting older but I am battling the outward manifestations.

I want to receive growing older as a gift, not a burden or something to be feared.  I plan to make the approach to 50 gracefully; eyes wide open in wonder as I head over that hill.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  2 Corinthians 4:16

Related post:  To 50 and beyond!

Adventures with Ayda

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I needed desperately to squeeze those chunky legs, to hear that melodic laugh and to hold that tiny hand in mine.  It was time.  Nana had to see Ayda.  I made the arrangements with my eldest and drove through rain most of the day to arrive at the pre-determined meeting place.

After a late lunch, we transferred her belongings to my car and headed north.  She is only four so I was a tiny bit nervous that she would get upset when we pulled out of the parking lot, but she just said, “I’ll miss mommy and daddy” and that was that.  We chatted about pre-school and recent birthday parties and Christmas.  “Ayda, do you see the leaves?  Do you know about the fall season?” I asked.  She answered in what I thought was somewhat condescending tone and said, “Nana, are you talking about autumn, when the leaves turn beautiful colors like yellow and orange and brown and fall from the trees?”   Yes, my dear.  Yes, I was.

In a couple of hours, we were pulling into a hotel driveway, ready to stop for the night as our destination was Pigeon Forge, TN.  We were going to visit relatives and she was excited to get to spend time with some of her younger cousins.  She wasn’t sure about this whole idea of staying in a “cabin” though.  For some reason she thought all cabins were inferior dwellings.  As we passed barns and falling down sheds, she would ask, “Nana, is it a cabin like that?”  I assured her that it certainly was not and that she would be pleasantly surprised.

Nana forgot how time consuming it was to unfasten a car set, put shoes back on and wait for little slowpoke to crawl out of the back of my Mustang.  After we checked in, I realized that with my bag, her bag, her toy bag, her snack bag, her electronic game and dinner we had picked up, I was going to need a cart.  I grabbed one, loaded it and sat her on top of my bag before realizing I had to do something with my car.  After arranging the cart inside and loading her back into the car seat, I found a parking place and we were ready to go upstairs.

Pushing the cart was akin to maneuvering a side-ways driving Walmart shopping cart filled with groceries.  I finally managed to get it to the elevator without taking some drywall with me.  Ayda spotted the “fire sign” and wanted me to tell her what it said.  I read, “In case of fire do not use the elevator”.  Way to go, Nana.  Little did I know that every time we used an elevator for the rest of our journey she would ask quite anxiously if I was sure there wasn’t a fire and explain that maybe we shouldn’t ride the elevator.    Thankfully, a nice young man helped me get the cart onto the elevator and even got off at our floor and pulled it out for us.  I think he discerned that Nana was exhausted and I was sincerely grateful for his kindness.

Finally, it was bedtime and Ayda and I lay in the darkness, the only light emanating from her Nabi which is NOT a computer, Nana.  It’s an electronic game that also has episodes of some of her favorite shows.  I wasn’t going to argue with her about watching one on our first night together, far from home.  We talked about our plans and said prayers and she was out like a light.

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I decided the next morning to let her sleep in; partly because she needed it and partly because I love to watch her sleep, with her little brown tendrils floating across the pillow.  Before long her eyes opened wide and the first words out of her mouth were, “Why is that light on?”  You waked me in the dark and you are supposed to wake me in the light?”  I quickly rose from the chair I was perched on and opened the light blocking curtains.  She grinned when she saw that it really was daytime and then she snuggled in my lap while her little body finished waking up.

I dressed her and brushed her long curls carefully and reacquainted myself with pig tails and bows.  We went down to the continental breakfast in the hotel lobby where Ayda picked a muffin.  I looked up to see her with a horrible expression, somewhere between tears and disgust and discovered that said muffin had hidden berries.  I assured her she could spit them out and I got up to make a waffle for her instead.  The waffle was acceptable and I sat there and enjoyed my coffee, the grinning recipient of the “She is so precious” and like compliments, like grandma’s do.

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We arrived at the cabin later in the day and she was thoroughly impressed, as was I.  There were stuffed bears and toys and snacks and a bunk-bed and the promise of soon-to-arrive children.  We enjoyed the time with family and I enjoyed time with her out and about in Pigeon Forge and through the Great Smokey Mountains.  She loved being with family and was not happy on Saturday, when it was time to go.

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We travelled home towards South FL, because Papa had been unable to join us due to work and he was dying to see her, as were others in the family. We took a little longer route to go through the Smokies and stopped several times to pick up leaves and get pictures.  We stopped for ice cream in Cherokee and picked up taffy, pecan logs and a coloring book near the GA/FL line.  I have never seen a 4 year old travel so well.  She never complained; she sang, made me tell her stories about Jesus and played.  Every once in a while she would ask, “How much longer til Papa?”  Every once in a while, I would reach back to squeeze her leg and she would grab my hand and hold it for a few minutes.  Oh, the feeling of that little hand securely snug in my own!

After a week with Nana and Papa, assisted by Aunt Dee, since Nana had to work, we made the journey back to meet her mommy.  We stayed in another hotel and the next morning we found a pumpkin patch with a maze and then met mommy at a beautiful state park.

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As my daughter strapped her in the car seat, she said, “I’ll miss you Nana”.  I told her not to cry and that it wasn’t goodbye just see you later.  I got in my quiet car, tears welling up in my eyes and my heart aching with missing her already.  With a song of praise and a prayer I encouraged myself and headed south alone, thankful for the precious time with her.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Pie

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Photo found at theartfulpie.com

The Weekly Writing Challenge was to write about Pie.

I have to admit that the closest I have ever come to making a pie was the scores of mud pies my sister, brother and I made, and let me tell you, we got pretty creative with them.  We tried different dirt, different consistencies and even used some of Mom’s kitchen items to prepare them.  They sported berries, leaves, grass and rocks and looked so tempting, we even tasted them a time or two.

Seriously, I never cared for pie much so I never learned to make them.   There were a couple of exceptions.  My late paternal grandmother, aka Granny, whom I have written about in many posts, made a chocolate pie with meringue piled high that was delicious.  Granny wasn’t the Suzy Homemaker type.  She fed her family, but she didn’t don an apron just for the fun of it most days.  She would to teach one of us how to cook something, because she would do anything we wanted to do as long as it wasn’t dangerous, but she didn’t have any aspirations about being Martha Stewart.   However, just the mere mention of her making a chocolate pie was enough to have me looking forward to dinner time and licking my lips at the thought of that comforting chocolaty classic.  The light-as-air, lightly toasted on top meringue was heavenly too.  I am not sure why I don’t possess this recipe and have never tried to make, but I will have to rectify that post haste.

Many of my relatives made the Florida favorite, key lime pie.  Although it is good, I always much preferred chocolate anything to the tart taste of this one.  We always had the traditional pumpkin and pecan pies at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the fudge and red velvet cake won out for me!

My mother made a pie she referred to as green pie although that is all I recollect about it.   I remember when I was a teenager that one of my sister’s boyfriends loved the pie so much that he would beg her to make it.  She often did and made it for him on his birthday.  I don’t even recall what the ingredients were or how it tasted because back then, again, it just wasn’t my thing.

I am finding that the older I get, my taste for pie is increasing, so I guess I should be thankful for this prompt because I believe it has inspired me to try my hand at pie making.   Maybe this Thanksgiving my guests will get to taste a real homemade apple pie, with caramel drizzled on the top and sporting a perfectly browned buttery flavored crust.  At the very least, I will make the chocolate pie.

More posts featuring Granny – The Lost Laces, Peeling Trees and Dialogue

Worry doesn’t change anything

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The Prompt:  If you could permanently get rid of one worry, what would it be?

I don’t believe in worry.  Yes, I know we all have our moments, but I choose not to let worry control me.  There are times I battle with it, but if I give it to God, the fear dissipates. It was a lesson that was hard to learn, but when you realize it’s useless, it becomes easier to let it go.  I wrote a short story to show how I feel about worry.

It was getting late and the Browns were getting ready to turn in for the night.  Faith Brown was humming a hymn as she removed the excess pillows and turned down the sheets.  Her husband, Wori Brown grunted as he stalked past her on his way to the bathroom.

Faith shook herself out of her slippers and tossed her robe at the bottom of the bed.  She kneeled by the bed and said a prayer, then climbed into bed and snuggled into the warm covers, thankful for a safe, comfortable home.

Wori needed to go to bed as 5:30 came early, but there was just too much on his mind.  He paced through the house a few times trying to figure out what to do about the shortage in the checking account.  He was overwrought with concern over some choices their adult son was making. He wondered what he could do or say to get his son to listen to reason.  He was stressed about the way he had spoken to his favorite employee today at work.  By the time he finally made it to the bedroom, Faith was fast asleep.  He tossed and turned and awoke groggy after a fitful night’s sleep.

Faith awoke with the dawn and sat down with her coffee and her bible to start the day on the right note.  She enjoyed her coffee, read from Psalms, prayed over her family and went about her day’s tasks.

Wori gulped down his coffee, rushed out the door and hurried to work.  His mind was full of distressful thoughts throughout the day.  His stomach was bothering him and he had a headache.  Traffic was horrible and he shook his fist at a car as he sped past.  He felt his blood pressure rising as he had to wait at yet another red light.

As the sun was setting, Wori opened the front door and was greeted by calm wife who informed him that dinner was waiting.  The house was quiet and he was glad to be here.  He could smell the aroma of his favorite dish and maybe even an apple pie.  As Wori ate, he asked Faith how in the world she could stay so peaceful in the midst of such duress.  They were going through several trials in their lives and he never saw her falter in her faith.

She said, “Nothing I can do or say will change any of the situations we are facing, so I put them in the hands of God and leave them there.  When the temptation comes to worry or fret, I remind myself to think on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, that is what I think about.

He knew she was right, so after dinner he made his way to the back porch, bible in hand.  He spent some time alone, prayed for peace and placed his frustration and feelings of inadequacy into the hands of God.  Faith joined him with a smile on her face and thankfulness in her heart, knowing that with God and each other, they could face anything.

Eat the dessert

cookies

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The Prompt:  Fill in the blank: “Life is too short to _____.” Now, write a post telling us how you’ve come to that conclusion.

Life is too short to turn down dessert.

And shouldn’t be spent nursing a hurt.

Life is too short to go to bed mad.

Wouldn’t you rather spend more of it glad?

Life is too short for holding on to a grudge.

Just let it go; don’t be too stubborn to budge?

Life is too short for refusing to grin.

Hold your head high and stop dragging your chin.

Life is too short to worry and fret.

It won’t change the outcome, on that I would bet.

Life is too short not to love and to pray.

We don’t know the hour, it could be over today.

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