perchance to thrive – solc2018#12

Recently I have begun tending to my hanging plant on the back porch. I had thought it was a “goner.” But it is surprising me with signs of determination and new life.

Look closely and you can see:

It has been a hard winter. We have had several really cold days and even some snow (including TODAY!). These roots are not buried in the protective ground, but surrounded by cold air. The warm sun doesn’t fall on this pot for much of the day (which is great in the sweltering summer, but not so much this frigid time of year.)

Also, the squirrels have been fascinated with the straw pot liner. As they have made their new homes, they have somehow jumped onto this pot (??), trampled all over the plant growth on top, and pulled out some straw for their nests. (I finally removed all the straw and put it out in the yard. It has disappeared, now high in the trees.)

Usually those conditions make it hard to stay alive, much less grow.

Last March I wrote about this same plant. It looked much better back then.

But I have faith that with the proper care and the coming warm days, this plant can come back strong.

Just like us, when the “storms of life” beat us down, with proper care and the warmth of attention, we too can thrive again.

 

blinded by details – solc2018#11

Lots of changes are (hopefully) coming to our house. We are re-doing and expanding the kitchen, and working on a bathroom and laundry space as well.

In addition to or along with that, our tired old colors need refreshing throughout the house, so it is time to purchase some paint.

The range of beautiful tints and shades that are offered is overwhelming these days.  How in the world can you pick just one? Luckily our daughter, a talented interior design specialist, has agreed to help.  She picked out the perfect color for our great room, and I went to get a sample.

I knew the name and number of the color – but were the sample cards arranged in order in the store? No, they were not. I couldn’t make heads or tails of things until an employee (bless him!) came to help.

He explained that recently the display had been changed, when 200+ colors were added. (Just what I need – MORE colors!)  The employee found the color card for me – only after he Googled it and found the location through the Internet. (I am not kidding!)

As he was mixing the sample, I decided to look at the color display. This time I was farther away, not squinting up close looking for color names and numbers.

Incredible! It was all clear! The colors were arranged in base tones, with similar hues together, and separated into color groupings. Now I could see that it all made sense. And it was lovely.

This made me wonder…. How many times do I get lost in the delicate details of something and forget (or choose not) to see the whole, colorful, meaningful picture, arranged just as it needs to be?

I pray to have open eyes that see the whole, the big picture from now on – and then, as needed, to focus on the parts and details, when that is helpful.

Meanwhile I want to enjoy the view!

 

incomplete – solc2018#10

Our place at the lake is near a lot of farmland – after all, this county was primarily rural before the land for the lake was impounded when the dam was built in the late 1960’s.

As we travel to our cabin, we pass many fields that, at one time, were planted with nursery stock – trees, shrubs, and other plants.

While the first step in any task is to begin, the work cannot be complete until the job is finished. For one reason or another, these plantings were never removed to be sold as plants to enhance someone’s yard.

Instead, they have been untended and allowed to grow. And grow. And now the plants are so large it would be difficult, if not impossible, to dig the roots sufficiently so that the they would continue to thrive in another spot.

I do not say any of this judgmentally. The fields are beautiful with this variety of trees and bushes, especially at this flower-filled time of year.

And it makes me ponder the incomplete work in my own life.

What have I started that is still unfinished? How could I make better use of the resources at my disposal? What plans would be profitable, financially or emotionally, if I saw them through to the end I originally had in mind?

Time to take stock of my own tasks – to re-evaluate some current priorities and make plans for some long untended follow-through.

a great book – solc2018#9

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah was an intriguing story that pulled me into its very heart. In it, a former POW, his wife, and daughter move to Alaska for a much needed “new start.”

The book is about Alaska – its wildness and beauty, and the people who are drawn there: the coming-of-age and strength-gathering of Leni, the daughter: a wide variety of love stories: and above all, I left the book with the sweet remembrance of all forms of a mother’s love.

The tough parts of PTSD, and abuse, and injuries that seem impossible to overcome, and the repetition of bad patterns of behavior – plus a “Legends of the Fall” series of one disaster after another – were all hard to read through.

But the richness of the character development and the beauty of the language made this, in my mind, a wonderful read. Not a day has passed since I completed it that I haven’t thought about some aspect of this tale.

I just read a review that called it “satisfying, predictable, easy to read.” Those, to me, are good qualities, but apparently that reviewer doesn’t prefer those things in a book. And she also didn’t like Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.  So… we obviously have different tastes.

I was so sorry for this book to end. I miss the characters as if they were real people I know. I thought The Great Alone was a great book.

messengers – solc2018#8

like bits of sunshine

refracted through a prism

scattered out over fields and in ditches

waving in the pleasant breezes

heads held high

spreading the warmth of the sun

 

their springtime announcements

even more noticeable

when cloudy skies hang low

and snow drifts through the air

“warmth was once here,

and sunny days will come again”

 

buttercups

image from Marcia Fraser

Cheekwood

a hard day – solc2018#7

Nashville had a hard day yesterday. The first woman mayor resigned. You can Google the details. It was a resolution that everyone saw coming – except maybe the mayor herself.

A few weeks back my aunt asked me, “Do you think the mayor should resign?”

My answer? “She has done morally wrong things in her personal life, but as countless others have done that before her, then that, in and of itself, is not cause to resign. She has kept numerous activities secret for almost two years and now has lied about various details as evidence has come to light. But she is not the first lying leader. However, the problem is, going forward, it is doubtful that she can effectively lead because of the questions of trust that have arisen. If she cannot be a good leader for our city, then she should resign.”

After weeks of saying she would not resign her office, suddenly and without specific details, she plead guilty to a felony and resigned, declaring her continued love of the city. I believe she does love Nashville.

I just wish her love was deep enough, beyond her own personal problems, that she had offered an apology to the people of Nashville.

Nashville had a hard day yesterday.

 

 

enthusiasm – solc2018#5

The weather affects my mood more than I care to admit.

This weekend was cool but sunny and oh-so-springy.  Just delightful! And I saw everything through rose-colored glasses.

Today is rainy (again!), and colder, with more low temperatures on the way.  I have been a bit sluggish today and not at all enthusiastic about things that must be done. Yes, its Monday, but I am going to blame it on the weather this time.

I wish I could always see the good and trust in the better to come. I am working on it.

It’s a great day to share this quote as a personal goal. It is from an obituary I saw for someone I did not know – Julia Green Williams – and it describes her love of tap dancing lessons:

“never allowing her enthusiasm and delight to be eclipsed by her skill”
Think about it. And then dance! This definitely brings a ray of light on this cloudy day.

 

today – solc2018#4

Some days are meant for writing – and others are meant for living, and noticing, and pondering. Then the words come later on.

Today was an “other” day.  A blessed day filled with so many wonderful things.  Good fodder for future stories.  Lots of things to think about.

  • beautiful sunshiney weather after a long season of wet and cold
  • the baptism of our grandson
  • a healthy, well-behaved little one
  • singing How Great Thou Art at church, reminding me of the life and influence of Billy Graham
  • sweet words and hugs from friends
  • the gathering of our small family to celebrate together
  • a visit to a beautiful historic home that’s never been on tour before in our heritage-minded community
  • the funeral of a precious woman, celebrating the home-going of a truly humble servant
  • seeing old friends and mentors, such influential people in the lives of our children and in our lives too
  • a walk through the neighborhood, noticing so many signs of spring

So many things for which to be thankful.  Reflecting on joy.

sounds like a memory – solc2018#3

This morning, as I was preparing tomorrow’s brunch, I selected the music choice channel for Country Hits on our TV. To my surprise and delight, it wasn’t current hits, but “old standards.” (Not too old.)

I grew up in Nashville (several years ago) and have always lived near Music City, but didn’t become a fan of country music until I was in my 40’s. I guess by then I had lived enough life to recognize the truth and wisdom in country music’s ballads.

(There was a brief period in my high school years when I visited the wonderful Opryland USA theme park regularly  We lived just across the river and a season pass was $50. My favorite show was called Country Roads – I had to dig deep into Google to “remember” that name –  and there I learned snippets of older country songs that I had missed while listening to Top 40 hits on the radio.  So I guess my appreciation for country songs really began then. I can “see” the stage for that show and those costumes in my mind’s eye so clearly. And I will never stop missing Opryland. But, as usual, I digress…)

ANYWAY, the music I have enjoyed today has made my heart sing, caused a gulp in my throat, and teased out a few tears. I am thankful for every word and note that spoke to me today. Certain singers will always be my favorites, and I know I can count on hearing the “good stuff” from them. And I admire the songwriters who often live in the background of these tunes, but who have birthed them from the heartfelt realities of their lives.

Today’s country music is different, and I still enjoy most of it.  I have my favorites now, too. Some of these current songs will make me stop and catch my breath when I hear them again in a few years. The music and the life it becomes a part of intertwine, and the memories of each become united.

Eric Church sang it well:

noticing – solc2018 #2

Reading and writing go hand in hand. Even though I have not written much in the past several months, I have read quite a bit. I have been carried away to other fascinating times and places thanks to several outstanding reads. Now, as I return to my writing, the literacy cycle nears the point where it is fully connected.

The other piece that is required of a writer to bring things full circle, a piece that fits somewhere between and among the reading and the writing, is the noticing.  Being aware of what is going on in our surroundings, and focusing on the details of those happenings – that is the first breath of life for our writing.

And it brings life to our hearts as well. Oh, the joy of being aware of the little things, the quiet things, the connections – all around us.

Then, when we are able to capture the significance of our noticing – to uncover the understanding of why it is important – and when we discover a way to make those specific observations of our lives translate into meaningful words that speak to others, then our writing finds its purpose.

Whenever this happens in my writing, I know it is not through myself. I am thankful that our God reveals His world to us each day. And I am grateful for the words that come, and the peace that those words can bring.

These thoughts are from the author Tayari Jones as she begins her writing routine with a prayer:

I start my daily prayer with a message of thanks and gratitude. I list all the things that have already been given to me to make this writing possible.   When you think about it, we have already been given so much toward this dream.  I give thanks for everything– the small writing table, the project idea.  … I always remember to express my gratitude for the gift of writing itself.  By gift, I don’t mean talent, but just the joy and possibility writing offers me, as a human being… the privilege of literacy.

In the second part of my prayer, I ask for greater focus, discipline, and endurance.  I also pray to be rid of toxic thoughts and feelings like ego, ambition, jealousy and fear.  I ask to be purged.  I ask that the story I am writing serve a higher purpose, that I be given words that will be healing to someone else.

Then, I ask permission to set down my (other) responsibilities … while I write.

jumping in – solc2018 #1

I have dreamed of writing all my life.

When I became a reader early on, I imagined finding the right words to write my own stories one day. I had handwritten journals that provided an outlet for lots of practice – but little worth sharing. The process, not the product, was key. I learned calligraphy, but always used that elegant writing style to record someone else’s words.

In high school I learned the mechanics. And I wrote – a LOT – for my classes. We had a student-written literary magazine called Hallmarks that was published annually. It contained some amazing writing, and I dreamed of writing poems and stories like those. But I knew my writing wasn’t good enough, so I never submitted anything to be published in Hallmarks.

Children’s literature spoke to my heart for a second time in my life (after my own childhood) when I studied it in college. My dream expanded to include becoming a children’s author. But I never felt like I had the right story to tell.

Several gifted writers have been in my elementary classes through the years. One sixth-grader, who now has children even older than that, wrote words and evoked feelings that deeply touched my heart. I dreamed of one day writing like Stephanie.

Years passed. My dream faded, but remained.

Six years ago I learned of the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge. I dreamed of having an outlet for my attempts. So I started a blog and jumped in. I tried to be as anonymous as possible and never shared who I was. But I was surprised that other writers were reading my writing, and commenting graciously. My dream came back into focus. I became a writer – for real.

This is my seventh SOLC. I am not prepared, and I am out of practice, but I can’t NOT participate. Even though I have 423 posts on this blog, I haven’t written since last June.  I am less of my true self because of that neglect.

Now I am jumping in again. I can’t wait to “hear” my writing friends’ words, whose voices I haven’t listened for in a while. I hope I’ll be able to find the time to write among spending moments with three grandchildren, taking on a kitchen remodel, and sorting through other life priorities that demand attention.

But I am ready to jump in and get my feet wet all over again!

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for the consistency and perseverance you have demonstrated that allows writers to follow their dreams.