Ode to an Irish Blessing Mug

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Today I wanted to make myself a proper cup of English tea, and in doing so I came across this mug:

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It’s pretty fortuitous that I would be using this Irish blessing mug on today of all days. And not just because it’s Irish, actually. This mug has a story.

When I was 14, I traveled back and forth between Georgia and Mississippi with my parents once a month, and we would stay in this house (the same one I live in now) for a week. This house actually belonged to my great-grandparents, and it’s special to all of my family. It’s not that it’s large or fancy or worth whole lot of money; it’s really just a small, simple house, a bit rough around the edges these days. Despite those things, it’s rich in memories for all of us, and I feel very blessed that my dad was able to bring us to live here part-time then, and that I get to live here full-time now.

Anyway, back to then. After about a year of traveling back and forth so frequently, my family stopped and stayed in GA for awhile. This house  lay empty for almost ten years. I remember the first time I brought Dane, then my boyfriend (I think it was 2010) to this house. It was so strange, like it had been frozen in time. The pictures we had kept on the fridge were still there, my old bedroom had an issue of Pointe magazine (I was a ballerina) on the nightstand and the photo I had pinned to the mirror of Josh Groban was still there. It was eerie, to be honest, as if my 14 year old self still existed and had just run out to do something.

And now, even more years later, I live here again, and new memories of my life with Dane and Kora and my Mississippi relatives are layered over those snapshots of time from that year I spent sweet time here with my parents. The fact that my dad has since had a stroke and my mom has passed away makes it seem like much longer ago than a mere 12 years (sometimes, I feel ancient) then there are the other memories-memories from when I was a little kid and I’d come here to see my Mamaw and all of my cousins and I would run around in the yard. There are more stories still, overlapping that–memories that are not my own, but my dad’s, my uncle’s, my aunt’s…stories that didn’t happen to me, but are still a very real part of who I am.

How the heck did I get to this thought-rambling with a mug full of tea (which is now cold, btw)? Here’s how: I bought that mug when I was 14, on one of our trips here.  Somehow it had become buried among my Mamaw’s Christmas mugs in the deepest, darkest corner of the kitchen cabinets. And, despite the fact that we’ve been in this house for over a year now, I only recently re-discovered it.

It just made me think of the way that memories layer themselves. They hide, are found, take on new meanings later.

When I was 14, I’m sure the words “May the road rise up to meet you,” made me think of some grand adventure that I was going to have (my LOTR fandom was at its height), but now those words make me think of what a dreamer I was then and what it felt like to have an open road of possibilities. I think of how life did not turn out the way I thought it would, but how I truly do love my life.

The roads we walk are never predictable, but we have to enjoy them as they unfold, because we only get one  road -I hope I can always stop and look back on the way the memories I’ve created along the way-the gorgeous moments and the tragic ones. Those moments overlap and combine to create one beautiful life that I am grateful for.

Thanks Irish Blessing Mug. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

 

February: 10 Things to Love

You know how Oprah has her favorite things?

And then she’s like….

 

Well, I’m a little Oprah-inspired here, so I’d like to share, with YOU,   some of my favorite things….or “Things to Love.”

While I can’t promise you they will be hiding under your seat, hopefully they are things that you can have in your life, easily, and enjoy them as much as I do.

Also, my enthusiasm may not wear suits and fling it’s arms out wide, but that’s only because I have to take a selfie of my own excited face.

SEE……

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EXCITED!

10 Things to Love in February

  1. Tea from a teapot. I learned this in England and conveniently forgot it after I’d been back in the states for awhile: tea is ALWAYS better from a teapot. Lately, I’ve been trying to drink more green tea lately, and making a nice, steamy pot of tea makes me actually want to drink it.
  2. My own candle. No one else’s, just mine. To be burnt only when I want, and extinguished only when I want.  My aunt bought me this one, soiree from Park Hill Candles. It’s probably the most amazing and fragrant candle ever. Don’t touch my candle!
  1. 12722161_10206916985176109_203307505_n3. Relatives who babysit. Grad school has been super tough lately. It’s hard to concentrate for hours at a time on heavy philosophical stuff when your little child is crying and/or needing something and/or scrambling around on the floor, heading for the fireplace. I’ve had some help this week. Kora has had a blast with her family, and it’s been such a blessing to me.

2. The Valentine’s Day aisle. I am a Valentine’s Day freak. I love it. When I see all the pink and red hearts everywhere, my heart has a panic attack of love.

3.Taking a walk. Good de-stressor. Good way to stay in shape. Good time to talk with friends.

4. Skinny chocolate. Guilt-free, healthy, easy to make. It’s a Trim Healthy Mama thing. and there are lots of yummy variations. I’m not even doing Trim Healthy Mama, I just think it’s a win-win.

5. Jazz music. Light that special candle, make a pot of tea, put on some Jazz music, and what do you have? You have company in like five minutes because I’m so there. Seriously. We’ve been playing older and contemporary jazz a ton in this household lately. It makes every night feel special, like a party.

6. Johnny Flynn. Johnny Flynn’s music is also on frequent rotation around here. I hadn’t heard of him until I watched Song One a few months ago, and “the main singing guy” was my favorite thing about it.  I love his sound, his lyrics and the many emotions his music evokes.

7. Essential Oils I’ve been using doTERRA essential oils regularly for the past few weeks. I love to have something diffusing pretty much all the time-it really can change how you feel, physically and emotionally. I’ve got “On Guard” protective blend going on right now-cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, rosemary and eucalyptus. (the baby in this picture is pretty good, too)12625626_10206795983991155_1507181439_n (1)

10. Family Dinner at the booth. We live in my great-grandparents house. My “mamaw” cooked fried chicken and sugar cookies- you know, standard Mississippi love- on a non-stop basis when they were still around, and fed everybody. They were legendary in their love and hospitality. Our whole extended family has great memories of the kitchen here, and of the built-in wooden booth that is reminiscent of a diner. I usually work on things there, but we haven’t eaten dinner at it very much. Well, Kora finally got a high-chair and, since then, we have had dinner every night at the booth. It’s been such an awesome bit of quality time together in the evenings.

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: An AMWAM Review

We had a date-night last night. Our movie of choice? Pride Prejudice and Zombies. It’s been awhile since I did one of these, but here follows my AMWAM (as many words as minutes) review!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

Rating: PG-13

Movie run-time/word count: 108 minutes/words

The book we’ve all contemplated buying as a gag-gift for the literature lover in our lives is now devour-able at the big screens.

Don’t go see this one if you are the hardcore, A&E, Colin-Firth-all-the-way kind of person (you know who you are). This is the movie for Austen fans who aren’t too serious. This is for the loyal boyfriends who have sat through every re-telling, wishing they knew what the big deal was about.

Also, pretty sure Lily James is the new “it girl.”

More comedy than anything, this film is like having a bizarre, hilarious dream after  back-to-back Downton Abbey/Walking Dead marathons.

I’d watch it again.

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Spring in Mississippi

In case you didn’t know, Groundhog’s Day was this week.

And Puck-satanu…PUSUTO (Googling this)… Punxsutawney Phil  has declared an early spring.  Does anyone else ever feel like this happens very rarely? For years and years and years, it was just those extra weeks of cold. There’s probably a scientific reason for this that I learned once-upon-a-time, but while I can make myself Google the correct spelling of a groundhog’s proper name, I don’t really feel like mustering up the energy to remember how the seasons work right now. Deal with it.

I’m happy about an early spring, even though it’s not my very favorite  season (autumn is, on strict principal)…. Growing up in the North Georgia mountains, surrounded by trees and a big, beautiful lake, autumn was a signal of adventure. It wasn’t just the crisp chill in the air, the smell of campfire smoke or the fiery leaves, either. Autumn was the time we went camping, autumn was when we could take a break to go meet my grandparents in a cabin in the mountains for our annual, special get-together. I miss autumn in the mountains.

Right now, however, I live in Mississippi. And Mississippi’s Queen of the Seasons is undoubtedly Spring.

The light here changes, illuminating the numerous old gray barns and buildings.  In winter they are old and worn-out, in summer they are white-washed harshly, seeming unfriendly. In the spring, the gold touches them, hinting at their history, their magic. In spring all old things are brought to life again; they have transcended through time, and been born anew.

Mornings of a hundred years ago are freshly evoked: the smell of warm, damp grass and hay, the sunshine on dew-drops in the green fields, and the soothing saltiness of the air that only comes with being not far from the coast.

There is a lush, floral scent, too, hanging on every bush and tree. Gardenias and azaleas mostly, I think, but dozens of other flowers chime in with their own accent fragrances.

For me, there are also the memories of Mississippi springs from my growing up years. The trips we took to visit family for so many years on warm, balmy vacations, the Easters with cousins, running around in gardens, the family meals and something special in the true closeness with these people we only saw a few times a year.

Now I live here, as a grown-up in a whole different place of life. I have that closeness, but it is different now. So many things have changed since then, and the memories I share with my family is mingled with loss and newness and love and freshly found relationships.

Spring, I think, will embrace these changes, because it is, itself, always reminiscent, and always new.

So I’m waiting on the flowers to bloom in the front yard, for the day I can pull my shorts and flip-flops out of storage, for sitting on the porch and inhaling that sweet, country breeze that carries with it the love of a hundred Mississippi springs before this one.

 

 

Redeemer of my Heart

Just a very short post today, because I’ve got to be heading out the door soon.

Today, here’s where I am: aware of my need of redemption.

We sing about redemption a lot in church; it’s part of the Christian lexicon. This is as it should be, the word is important in the Christian faith…but man, sometimes I think the power of the term goes unrecognized and it takes some broken-heartedness to remember it.

Biblically speaking, the title of “redeemer” goes back to the Old Testament, referring to a “kinsman redeemer” who was able to act on behalf of another to save  them from trouble, whether this is making them good in the eyes of the law or literally rescuing them. The kinsman redeemer is kind of the white knight who brings things back where they need to be. In the New Testament, this term is fulfilled by Jesus, the ultimate kinsman redeemer.  I think a lot of times we accept this as a part of Christianity–that, in order to be saved, we need redemption from our sins.

We know that part is key, but I think we forget sometimes that it’s not a one-time deal. Our hearts wander constantly, and we’ll require this saving re-direction as long as we live. We are like kids who really, really want to touch the thing we’re not supposed to (I type before re-navigating Kora away from underneath the recliner).

The past week has been rough for me. Not rough on the outside, or in anything that happened particularly. The problem has been on the inside. I am struggling with myself–with my own unrealistic expectations (INFPs understand), over-sensitivity, doubt, worry, sadness, selfishness of perspective. I’ve felt lonely, with no one to share these private thoughts and feelings. There’s no one who can understand my soul, and no one can help resolve the troubles of myself (the Hebrew word for self, “nephesh”, is appropriate here, encompassing, body, mind, soul, self-ness…) Not even my husband can fully get me or fix me: as wonderful as he is, he is just a person, too.

The problem with trying to dump your heart’s brokenness on any other person is that we are all a bit broken-unable to carry the weight of our own problems, let alone understand or solve someone else’s. I’m not saying don’t rely on people, I’m just saying that ordinary people can’t offer real redemption of the heart. Ordinary people can’t keep bringing you back to a place of peace, no matter how far away you feel from it. Only God does that.

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“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”-Isaiah 41:13

My prayer today is that God will bring my brokeness back to Him and love me again. I don’t need saving once and for all–I’ve already received eternal salvation.

And yet….

I DO still need saving, each and every day. I need redemption every day. Please redeem my heart, today, Lord. Bring it back to where you want it to be.

“Wonderful, merciful Savior
Precious Redeemer and friend
Who would have thought that a lamb could
Rescue the souls of men
Oh, You rescue the souls of men

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper
Spirit we long to embrace
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost the way
Oh, we hopelessly lost the way…”

-Wonderful, Merciful Savior (Hymn)

 

 

 

On the Baby Who Sleeps through the Night

Where am I? Currently at the booth in the kitchen, surrounded by printed out pages of scholarly articles, baby in my arms (originally in her Moby wrap, but she’s adamantly wrestled her way out of the confines, as she’s been doing often, lately). For now, I am giving up on trying to read this super heavy philosophical stuff (which requires some serious concentration under normal circumstances), and am adjusting said baby (very wiggly) back and forth….annd I thought I’d write a short blog instead.

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And now, I’m preparing for some people to be mad at me, but I’m just going to say it:

My baby has slept all the way through the night, 95% of the time, since she was two months old. She goes to bed about 10 p.m. and sleeps until 7:30, and that’s how it is, folks.

I’m incredibly grateful for this. I like my sleep. Some friends have jokingly called Kora a “bait baby” (because, you know, she’s bait to have another one).

As AWESOME as it is to get that sleep, I just recently realized that Kora is very unusual in another way, compared to most babies.

She doesn’t really nap.

Like, hardly at all.

I put her down for two naps. She usually sleep for about 10 minutes around 10:30 a.m. and about 20 minutes at 3 p.m. That’s all, unless her routine is thrown off or she’s not feeling well. The rest of the time, she’s super, super, super active, exploratory, wiggly and wants to be played with, which is also really sweet and awesome and everything, and I love it.

However, it does make getting things-particularly academic or work-like things- done during the day difficult.

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She really doesn’t ever stop moving and exploring. Who is this girl going to be? What is she going to do?  How did she come out like this?

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It’s crazy to me how people just come out, and they just ARE. They are already personalities. And we have to patiently wait until they start speaking so we can ask them all about it.

So, on babies who sleep through the night, like mine….

I wouldn’t trade my blissful nights of solid sleep…I’m TOTALLY grateful for it.  But I kind of wonder if the ones who sleep through the night are just preparing for a day of non-stop: NAPS? WHAT NAPS? IT’S GO TIME, MOM!

Also, she’s about to start crawling, like, right on the verge.

So there’s my workout program for 2016.

 

 

 

Good Morning! 10 Ways to Have One of Those.

Today, where I am is a bit of a grey space (but if I spell “grey” the British way, doesn’t that make it more romantic?)

It’s not like anything terrible happened. I’ve just been in a bit of a funk since last night, one of those rare nights (I usually sleep like a log), when I had trouble falling asleep. A lot of my negative emotions-worry, doubt, sad memories and feelings- started creeping up on me, so I decided to at least try to get some reading done, which was good. However, I had some pretty disturbing dreams and woke up feeling generally grumpy and overwhelmed with stuff to do and not very “Carpe Diem.” I think if wbook-nerdspiration_readbreatherelax5-500x330e’re honest, most of us have experienced a blah kind of morning like that. Anyway, I’m going to give myself some advice on how to get this day going the right direction. You are welcome to take it as advice for yourself, too.

Disclaimer: Not sure that everything on this list is applicable for dudes.

  1. Do 2 things right away: Get the coffee going and make your bed. Knowing that some fresh coffee is on it’s way is an immediately good start to a potentially chaotic morning, and if you make your bed first thing (while the coffee is brewing), you already feel like a somewhat put-together person. My aunt taught me this one. It works.
  2. Spend a few minutes getting your priorities straight for the day. I failed on this  today, but I’m about to start over by reading my devotional. I’ve been trying to read “Jesus Calling” in the mornings. It’s a short but powerful little devotional that’s become pretty popular in the last few years. It basically takes specific Scriptures for each day and merges them together in a format that makes it like a daily letter from Jesus to the reader, including the scriptural references so you can expand your daily study.  I also find I have a better morning when I make a to-do list for the day. I try to get something in there from each area of my life, and I also try to not make impossible lists.
  3. Look like an actor in a technicolor film. Wear bright colors. Go ahead and do your hair/makeup extra snazzy (snazzy?) if that makes you feel more human. There’s something to looking good=feeling good.
  4. Aromatherapy. Whether you diffuse some bright essential oils, light a candle, or spritz yourself with your favorite fragrance before heading out the door, aromatherapy makes you take deep breaths and, when you exhale, you feel encouraged.
  5. Do something you’ve been putting off. For me, that will be folding the laundry that has been in the dryer for two days. What did my last post say? Oh yeah, I SUCK at laundry. It’s true, guys. Next on my list…..writing a thingy about post-colonialism and Homi Bhabha…hmm.
  6. Plan something creative. Whether that’s cooking (which some days is the easiest way to get your creative in, because you’d probably have to do it anyway) or playing a musical instrument, writing, drawing, coloring, whatever.
  7. Plan something physical. Especially something that takes you outside or makes you be social, like a short walk outside or a group fitness type thing. Being outside of your normal state and/or hanging with people who just want to share the sheer joy of movement can be a game changer.
  8. Listen to music. What’s your jam? What makes you want to dance? That’s the kind of music I’m talking about.
  9. Change your posture and your expression. There are a lot of TED talks about this. Make yourself look confident, put a smile on your face. It will actually change how you feel (and how people treat you.)
  10. If all else fails, probably you should just watch “You’ve Got Mail,” and think about what Kathleen Kelly would do. I think she’d probably put up twinkle lights, go out and get some daisies and read a book. Or she’d go to the mattresses (also, btw, that’s what the Godfather would do).3991645_std

Write Where You Are: What does that mean?

First of all, I apologize that I haven’t been a good, consistent blogger lately. I’m going to re-commit to putting out something-even if it’s short, or not the best-several times a week. At this point, I’m also kind of wanting to refocus on the purpose of this journey in writing. While I’ll be looking for a little bit more of a cohesive feel to future posts in terms of format, at least, I still plan to write about whatever strikes me at the time. Here’s why.

My site is called “Write Where You Are,” for a reason. I know it seems like a cop-out—like—oh she can just write anything on here if she calls it that. And that is sort of the point. But it actually has always been very intentional, to the point of HEY, I am NOT one thing.  YOU aren’t either. For another good post on this topic, and just a good blog, check out my friend Corinne over at: https://owanderingfolk.wordpress.com/

Here’s the thing, for me anyway. I could write on my description that I’m a  “homemaker,  wife and mom,” which I am. But if that’s my “theme,” then that shapes the whole impression  people have of me, the way I look at myself, even. And I’m not really aspiring  to define myself only by those terms, as noble as they are (also I totally suck at laundry, among other household tasks). Or I could say, “I am an academic, a bookish old soul and introvert.” Also somewhat true, but that’s not me completely either (although that sounds like someone who would own a rockin’ tweed jacket, which is on my bucket list. Elbow patches please.)  There’s the good girl who never got grounded, never had a rebellious phase, did everything I was supposed to do, in the right order. Those are all ideals, categories I sort of aspire to fill, but not really me.

Hey, then there are my failures: there’s the flake that I can come across as a lot of times, who never knows what to say in person, who gets flustered easily in uncomfortable situations and breaks virtually any nearby technology with a single glance. There’s the temper most people don’t know I have. There’s the part of me that always feels like an imposter, not good enough. There’s the part of me that’s a selfish brat. The part of me that’s incapable of understanding certain concepts or remembering to do certain things.

 Or-to be a super-confusing person-I could label myself as happily, productively, ADD. I could reference the silly, extroverted  Zumba instructor that I am several nights a week, or I could place my identity in the fact that a lot of times I dance and sing like a crazy person in my house to Bollywood while being a multi-tasking hoodlum and caffeine junky. Did you know Gilmore Girls is my favorite show? Because it is. Oh yeah, I’m a health freak by the way….BUT I also love cheese and red velvet cake.

I could call this a “Christian blog,” but I feel that would be unnecessary, too (and maybe a let down for the theological blog-readers out there). Because my content is everywhere, and my faith infiltrates my perspectives– my hope would be that my faith is transparent here, regardless of topic.

You get the point? I feel as though any label I could choose would be, to some degree, counterfeit in its simplicity, it’s in-completeness. I feel like that’s unavoidable for social media like Facebook, but no, not on my blog.

Here’s the other thing–Really I started writing more when I was heavily grieving the loss of my mom in 2013. I guess I found it necessarily to somehow bring together the part of me that people saw on a daily basis (the one who could function and teach and smile) and the part of me that frequently screamed at the top of my lungs in empty parking lots because I couldn’t handle the stuff my heart was feeling. Writing became a way to discover about grief and love and the reality of the way that the world-and you-grows over these ugly wounds to make something new. I tried to be honest, and I shocked some people I think, because my voice is most real in these typed words….much more real than the little voice people hear when they speak with me.

So here’s my angle: We spend enough of our lives worrying about fitting into boxes and not enough of them finding our voice. Really, that’s what I want “Write Where You Are” to be about. It’s a one-woman stand against turning labels into restrictions…Because the temptation to fall into a category is very high-pressure. More than that, it’s my way of finding my voice, and maybe encouraging others to do the same.

Ultimately,  you not one thing; I am not one thing.   You can be smart and a flake. You can be hilarious, fun and depressed. You can be an introvert who’s good at fake extrovert-ing.  You can be the cool person who is a big nerd on the inside. Or the nerd who is a cool person on the inside. You can be a loving husband or wife and let down the person who cares about you the most. You can be a good friend who forgets to do the stuff good friends always do. You can doubt and have faith. You can be in pain and be full of joy.

You are much more than each category, or the sum of their parts, or even the differences between them. And that voice that represents the real you, when and if you can find it, is worth putting to paper. The best way to start is simply to write where you are.

 

Margaret Atwood Suggests: “Now try How and Why”

I have this memory of being about four years old and running around the house like a wild monkey. I ran to the bathroom and began unrolling the roll of toilet paper, because what four year old can resist asserting such tremendous power as unrolling something that has been so carefully wound? Anyway, in my tyrannical rampage, I remember having a very startling and serious thought for the first time: this toilet paper is going to be very hard to put back, in fact, once it’s unrolled that’s pretty much it. I realized, in a vague sort of way, that all the people I knew were kind of like little squares of toilet paper that were being constantly unrolled. This analogy was my first notion of the concept of mortality. Continue reading “Margaret Atwood Suggests: “Now try How and Why””

Another Home

Just a few words today.

We are always moving. Physically. Emotionally… We’re moving to different places in our life’s timeline: College..Marriage..Family…Career…and all the new adventures those endeavors take us on. Within those changes, it can be very easy to let go of people who we were friends with when we were in a different place, people that aren’t as accessible as they used to be…for whatever reason. Continue reading “Another Home”