Circle of Life

Have you ever given much thought to the life cycle of living things? How we came to be, what life looks like in the middle, and when our time on this earth is done? Not being morbid – follow me on this.

As parents we are overjoyed (in most cases) at the news that our life is about to change with the addition of a tiny human. We are completely oblivious to how it is going to change as we go through the gestation period amid morning sickness, baby showers, and just plain grouchiness when we can’t see our feet anymore. Then, amazingly, the tiny human is born and we are in awe that our bodies can create such a thing. And, admit it – TERRIFIED that this person is our responsibility.

Life progresses. Sometimes we add other tiny humans to our responsibility list and sometimes not. Life is a maze of soccer games, recitals, endless errands, and “what’s for dinner?” Time passes faster than we realize and we forget to pack away the smell of their hair as babies, the pride bursting out of our chest when they first display that they really WERE listening to our teachings, or the hugs that we don’t even realize are going to end. We look up and they are adults. When the hell did that happen?

Suddenly you have these not tiny humans. That no longer think you have any brains in your head at all. That want to barrel headlong into places and situations you know – from experience – are going to cause them pain and your protection is no longer welcome. In fact, it’s labeled as a myriad of bad things. Your intentions are questioned and you shrink from the rejection. WTH?

Why does life not prepare us, the parents, for the next stage of life? Why did these tiny humans become the sole focus of our life if they were going to push us away as surely as the sun comes up? The “empty nest” thing has tons of material written on it and not one bit of it is helpful. You crave the laundry, the shoes on the floor, and the NOISE that used to drive you mad.

But despite everything, time moves on. You age. You find your way into being an adult that gets to put yourself first (?!?) and with God’s grace your presence is welcome in the not so tiny human’s life and that of their tiny humans. Then the day comes when you become the tiny human again. You can’t take care of yourself, or illness comes, and you have to rely on your tiny humans to take care of you. Did you prepare them for that? Did you tell them what you wanted or needed when this time came? Or are they as blindsided by the new responsibility as you were when you brought them home from the hospital? Did you teach them how to grieve and how that would affect their life permanently? The absence that would always be there that is you? Why hasn’t someone written a manual on these things???

Mufasa said it best when he said “Everything you see exists in a delicate balance… We are all connected in the great Circle of Life.” God created us because he wanted us, as we create families of our own because we want them, and so the circle goes. But being flawed humans means we forget our elders have gone before us and have wisdom to share. Or the balance is disrupted by an absentee parent or a life altering event. We feel knocked out of that circle and being human means we struggle to know how to step back into it. But regardless of what knocks us off balance the truth remains.

We are all connected and need each other in the Circle of Life.

No News Yet

September 2020

Ummm. Yah. What??? Who is that girl? Can anyone see all the feelings she was carrying that added so much weight to her 5’ 2” frame?

March 2021

While I realize that 90% of women would be thrilled to see 70 lbs and untold inches disappear virtually overnight from their body it has not happened in a healthy way for me. Originally I believed stress was the main culprit but after a visit with the doctor yesterday they want to go looking for more. It would appear that even stress “probably” can’t remove this much this fast. Ever seen a doctor look freaked out? I don’t recommend it as a life goal. And yes, he used the “c” word. They want to do tests to see if there is cancer in the small intestines or colon that they can’t see from the previous tests they have done.

My initial reaction was sheer terror. I mean, I think that’s normal, right?

God has been working in my life HARD for the last month. And honestly that’s about the only explanation I have for being able to go through that doctor’s visit, know that I have to wait a week for the test and who knows how long after that for results, and still be calm. Whatever it is I’ll get through it with God’s grace and the amazing friends and family I have close by. How could I not? If you look at my life and what I have survived and still found a way to thrive there isn’t another option. God gave me strength and resilience for a reason.

Lol. Do not take any of that to mean I don’t feel afraid. I am thinking about all I still want to do and see – I’ve been working on my bucket list the last few weeks – and I have no more time in my life to devote to illness. Between my childhood, Fred’s fight with illness, and my intermittent struggles I’ve given all of the time I want to give to doctors and hospitals.

Test is scheduled for Friday 3/12. With God’s grace we’ll have answers soon after that. So prayers please. 🙏🏻

The Power of A Place

View from The Rooftop Bar in Hot Springs, AR

Is there a place on this earth that no matter how many times you go there it still renders excitement at the mere thought? The trip planning, the countdown, and the setting off towards that place just sets your heart aflutter? A place where you want to take everyone you know and hope they feel the same joy and peace you do there? Where the friends you have there make you feel like it was just yesterday since they saw you instead of months (or in the case of 2020 years)? Uh-huh. That place for me is Hot Springs, Arkansas. If I can’t be on a beach or an ocean somewhere this little town is where I want to be.

My first visit was spring of 2001. I remember this clearly because it was about two weeks before I found out I was pregnant with my Em. An old boss turned good friend lived there and I went to visit her in Hot Springs Village. I don’t remember much about the part of the town that I now cherish but there must have been something that pulled me about the natural waters that flow there because I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been back in the 20 years since.

I couldn’t tell you what year the next visit was but it was with my Fred. That was also the year I found my sweet little bathhouse shop that is so dear to my heart today. But back to Fred. The irony about Fred and Hot Springs is he was good going once every couple of years…he loved the people we met there same as I did but he wanted to go to new places when we made travel plans. He freely encouraged me to plan girls’ trips, take the kid’s there (I can’t tell you how many of the kid’s friends have been there), and go as often as I could swing it but he was just as content to keep his bottom in his recliner. That was the beautiful thing about our relationship. He never clipped my wings and was the one that showed me I even had any wings!

My love affair with this town as evolved. In the beginning I wanted to see all the things and do all the things. I could spend an entire Saturday poking in and out of all the shops on Bathhouse Row. My favorite, of course, is Bathhouse Soapery. Fred and I found this little gem on one of our early trips together when I was really into checking out bath shops in all the little towns we traveled. Needless to say, once I found Bathhouse that wasn’t a needed travel activity anymore. I had what I needed and I haven’t looked back. I could spend hours hanging out in the store visiting with friends that have turned into family and smelling all the goodness. People who have been to the store with me will tell you my house smells like the store. I take that as a compliment always.

When I take visitors for the first time I take them to all my favorite spots. When I go for a repeat visit I’ve gotten to where it’s more a *me* thing. Usually a soak in the mineral water, a massage, a visit to the bath store every day, and as was the case on this last trip a sit and chill at a local watering hole making new friends. When Fred and I first started traveling a weekend away was exhausting. Traveling was so new I was under the impression I had to see everything and do everything because I would never get to place xyz again. Maturity and wisdom has taught me the best trips are those that nothing is planned other than the destination and where I am putting my head down at night. This especially holds true in Hot Springs.

I don’t know if it’s the old town charm, something in the water, the people (ok I know it’s mostly the people), or the combo of all of the above but this is where I go when I need to recharge my soul in ways the ocean sometimes can’t do. Lovingly referred to as “my favorite place on land” the power of this place to love me through some tough times in my life is remarkable. I was in Hot Springs 10 days before Fred died – preparing for what we knew was coming. I ran here just a month ago when faced with a change in the trajectory of my life brought about by an outsider that was unimaginable to me. I left feeling loved and like I had the proverbial army on my side.

Me & The Girls Cutting Up

Wherever the place is for you – hold it close and visit often. We all need more peace and love and if you have found a haven for your soul first share where it is with me and then plan a trip!!! 🙂

A Heaven Sent Reminder

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.

A friend of mine sent me this scripture as I was beating myself with questions I am sure so many adult parents do as they watch their little birds totter out into the traffic of the adult world. We want to leap after them to shield them as has always been our job and we forget it no longer is (or at least I do). Questions plagued me like “what did I do wrong?”, “when did I become the enemy?”, “they were taught better than that, I thought, did I not do as good a job as I thought I did?”. Questions that I speculate in a two parent household mom and dad bounce off of each other and reassure each other that all those questions are normal. Questions doubled by being left alone to finish the raising that Fred and I discussed so many many nights during our marriage and before he died. Now doing the baby bird releasing on my own I do not have that reassurance when those negative thoughts come knocking.

Or so I thought. As I was sitting at my desk today my phone went off with a reminder for a devotional I started over the summer and hadn’t been back to since – “Prayers of Blessing Over My Adult Children”. No rhyme or reason why, just heaven sent. When I clicked it it took me right into a reading about how when a person reaches adulthood their choices become their own responsibility. Today’s society pressures us parents to take responsibility for every bad choice our adult children make and gladly give over credit for every amazing thing our adult child does. This is false. I think the most profound thing I got from the reading was this: “Does God hold parents accountable for the sins of their children?” When I am standing before Him will my children’s sins be on my list of things to account for? NOPE. I had to read that more than once and it’s still bouncing around in my brain like a ping pong ball refusing to settle.

How can that be? How can I have raised this tiny human into a big human and not be flogged for every single mistake, wrong turn, bad choice they make? Society says I should be. Goodness knows I was judged for what they wore to school, the curse word they said to the teacher, or what I fed them for lunch. Go jump in the lake society. God says I’ve done my best and it’s up to them now. I am only accountable for myself and my choices. I know that this is easier said than done. We all live with the judgement of others and those of us that are super sensitive to it are in hell most of the time. But with prayer and petition I can be set free from those judgements as well as from the blame for things going wrong that my children want to put off on me.

Back to the scripture. Even if you’ve done the work, and regardless of what you did right or wrong according to the latest parenting trend, your children may stray from their values for a while. Maybe a long while. Maybe by their own choice and maybe by temptation. But if you have done your job God says they will return to what you taught them. I don’t know about you but I find that immensely comforting. Especially without my sweet husband here to reassure me that we, in fact, raised amazing humans. 🙂

Friday Feels…

That look. That’s the one I feel like I have these days when a Friday night rolls around and the house is quiet and I’m wondering what the rest of humanity is doing. It’s a “I don’t really care enough to get up and see but I am wondering” kind of look.

This Friday has me questioning where a week went. Where did five days of my life go at a breakneck speed that is the biggest indicator we’ve hit spring rush in my business? Snowstorm? What snow storm? As all the memes indicate Texas has proven yet again to be the only place on earth that you can go from 6” of snow, no power, and single digit temps to short sleeve shirts, heat off, and sun roof open sunshine kind of weather in less than seven days. 🙄

Don’t get me wrong – I love spring. I love the selection of plants available for my yard. I love the challenge my job brings. I love that pause in temps between stupid chilly and soul sucking hot. Every year I look forward to spring rush like a crazy person and then anywhere between a week to a month in I am thinking I must have lost my mind when I got all fluttery at the mention of spring. This year is already proving to be no different. Complete with a week long snowstorm to freeze off all green things and make everything be a NOW.

I’ve got big plans for spring this year. I’ve got a 1/3 of an acre for my green thumb to do it’s thing to. But right now I’m just gonna take a page out of Lilah’s book and sit and wonder what the rest of the world is doing. Where the biggest decision I have to make tonight is when to head to pajamas and what my stomach might tolerate to eat….

Happy Friday night…be safe out there in the crazy world. ❤️

Which Way Is My Turtle Shell

I recently read a book called Braving The Wilderness by Brene Brown that left a phrase rattling in my head that won’t let go.

Strong Back, Soft Front, Wild Heart.

Say those words over and over in your head for a second. Heck, say them out loud and don’t care who is listening. When I first heard them I went immediately mentally to a turtle. Hard outer shell….soft belly….okay maybe a wild heart what do we as humans know? Of course Crush from Nemo had a wild heart so 🤷🏼‍♀️.

The premise of that part of the book (as I understood it) is we as humans keep that shell in the front . To protect ourselves, keep others out, sort of deflect the other humans in the world that might harm us. Ok, not might, definitely do. I am guilty as charged on that one. With what my 42 years has dished out I don’t let you close until you have proven yourself trustworthy. But under that visual in my head I’m a turtle upside down in my shell. That makes it pretty hard to move forward!

I’ve been stuck in the mud for a long long time. Grieving and hiding behind raising amazing humans. But life is moving forward. So is this phrase from that book sticking with me as a sign from God that if I don’t want to die inside my turtle shell I need to figure out how to put it on correctly and start down the road? Only God knows how much wild is in my heart wanting to get out. If you’ve been around me and I really trust you you know I can cut loose, have fun, and be a completely different person when I stop guarding myself and just BE. When I stop letting some invisible set of rules run my life and worrying about doing or saying the “wrong” thing. When I stop cringing in my shell waiting on harsh criticisms that, admittedly, rarely come as frequently as I expect them. When I can tell myself “who cares what _____ thinks about that, you did AWESOME”.

Knowing those things need to be done, recognizing it, is only part of the battle. A HUGE first part yes, but the follow through? Hell. I’d rather give birth again. Change is hard. Change blows rocks. Right??

Part of the purpose of this blog is for me to embrace the things that I enjoy. To pull them out, dust them off, and incorporate them into being a single empty nester. **Side note: y’all with your babies still at home soak that up. Empty nesting makes postpartum look like a walk in the park.** I am trying to figure out how to get right in my shell, what I want out of the next chapter, Act II, the next season, whatever the hell you call it because everyone seems to have a different name for it, and identify who I am. So here I am. Take me as I am and enjoy the ride with me!

Which way is your shell facing?

Snow No More…

It’s been a trying week of cold temperatures, power outages, water worries (either not having any or busted pipes), and either too much togetherness or too much alone time. For me, it’s the latter. I’ve slowly been acclimating to a house without the noise of the kids but the complete and total silence that comes in a house with no power and no dogs barking because of no one walking by is another thing completely. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think I’d lose my mind a couple of times. But it was also a good time of reading, reflection, prayer, connection with family via phone, and digging into the last year in my head.

I didn’t come out with any huge revelations. I do know I am more grateful for things I think we took for granted before…heat when I’m cold. Lights when I want to read. The way my boys always took care of things I didn’t even know about. For example…in three places in the house the pipes froze and I didn’t have water. When I began to see posts from other friends about collapsed ceilings and homes full of water I realized I had absolutely no idea where to turn off the main water if that were to happen. I literally sat in my chair and cried. Such a small thing and something about both Fred and Lee I took for granted. I am sure they could or would have both listed off a long list of those things I haven’t even found yet but that one hit me between the eyes. Top of my goal list this week is finding that shut off. A girl has to know how to take care of herself.

I said when the dumb groundhog said six more weeks of winter that he always gets it wrong and spring was coming. I can tell you from working remotely the end of this week and with what is on the horizon that SPRING is coming. Hard and fast. I feel that same rumble in my tummy I have for the last twenty years in this business. Half excitement, a quarter “am I ready”, and a quarter HELL YAH. Spring at works means long days, fast paced, a challenged mind, and watching winter unfold. Here at home, this year, it will mean taking the blank slate of the 1/3 of an acre I bought and starting to make my mark. I already have fruit trees on the way here (provided the ones I ordered before the storm survived it).

Snow no more…spring is coming. Who’s ready?!?