This morning as people all over the country don their finest Sunday best to attend worship, I sit alone in a hotel room. As much as I hate to miss worship on Easter Sunday, I am exactly where I need to be. The fog outside my window is so thick I cannot see the businesses across the highway and, even though fog is not what most people wish for on a spring Easter morning, it too is exactly what I need on this day of hope and contemplation. Quietness, solitude, and a little fog are the perfect formula for bringing out the thoughts of this head and heart this day…maybe even more than worship and celebration. If you’ve never sat alone in bed in your nightgown with a cup of coffee when everyone else around you is swirling in the dizziness of activities and must-do’s, you should try it. It brings a clarity like nothing else can.
Solitude has been a rare commodity lately. When you share a small space with another (even if that other is your soulmate), and you are a person who needs solitude from time to time, that much-needed solitude is hard to find. My head and heart have run the gamut of known-to-man emotions over the last couple of weeks -- everything from peace and relief to panic and confusion from utter fatigue. There actually have been a couple of times when I’ve thought that I most certainly have lost my mind and just might need to be committed! But, alas, the heart and mind have a way of balancing themselves out and returning to whatever the norm is for you, and my normal right now is knowing that my life is a little bit crazy, but blessed with great reward!
So my focus on this quiet Easter morning is not all the unknowns, not all the daily struggles, not all the constant challenges that sometimes come with the work the hubs and I do, but the things that keep me grounded and are constants in my life, like faith and family. All too many times we focus on the negative, only to feel shame when the real blessings of life swing into full view and we realize that we have so much for which to be thankful. And sometimes it’s the tiniest things in life that are the greatest blessings but we fail to recognize them because we are focused on the bigger things – like how to make a living and how to pay the bills and put food on the table.
I challenge you today on this Easter Sunday 2016 to count your blessings. To look for the tiny blessings in each and every day because I guarantee you they are there. I recently saw the movie Miracles from Heaven, the true story of the little girl who had an incurable disease but was healed when she fell headfirst into a hollow tree. But just like the girl’s mom, we too are sometimes so intent on seeing the big miracles in life that we don’t always see the smaller ones that are every bit as important. Like the kindness shown to us by a stranger. Or the joy of a new friendship that is budding. Or the daily blessing of an old friend, who is there through the thick and the thin of it. Or good health. Or the ability to walk or run or talk or eat. These smaller blessings are too numerous to count, yet we take them for granted.
But just as the fog lifts and the sky clears to a vivid blue, so do our hearts and minds when we take the time out to allow what is good and real and true to come into focus.
A very blessed Easter to you all…
This morning I found myself propped up in bed with a cup of coffee, checking off receipts for the many expenses of the week. The thoughts running through my mind went something like this. Two weeks ago I was going about my normal routine in a house filled with all the things I love. How did I end up here? In less than 10 days, we have packed up all the contents of a 2700 square-foot house, loaded it onto a truck (a 26-footer four times!) and crammed it all into three storage units. We have found a temporary place to live and here I sit in a king-sized bed (one plus!) figuring my checkbook. I continued to think about the events of the last week or so and marveled at all we've been able to accomplish. The average person would think we've lost our minds, selling the house where we've lived for two years, packing the entire house and the office and studio up as well (which is like an entire other house) and clearing the premises completely and pretty much without any glitches in those 10 grueling days. Pretty amazing if I say so myself.
But hard crazy work does not always come without at least some consequences. Like complete and utter fatigue of the most extreme kind.
I had promised my dad to take him to his dental appointment at the VA in Atlanta and I was not about to disappoint him. So within 20 minutes of the time I was supposed to leave to go fetch my dad, I was still putting the finishing touches on the house -- cleaning, final-checking, and scurrying to complete my tasks before the new owner arrived. And here's the thing. I didn't have have time to shower. Or wash my hair. Or change my clothes or underwear. Or even brush my teeth. I think you might see where this is going. I jumped into my car and literally flew (well, not literally) the 15 miles to pick up daddy and get him to the VA on time. Nothing else really mattered at that point. But on the way... I pulled out my antibacterial wipes and washed my face. I chewed four squares of peppermint gum. I brushed through my slightly greasy hair and pulled it into a ponytail. I put on a touch of lipstick. And I did all this on the ride to pick up my dad. Miracles happen every single solitary day; I am living proof of that indeed. I had freshened up enough to be presentable. But by day's end, I was a basket case of emotions. I also was dog-tired. Have you ever been dog-tired? Dog-tired is where your body only has the ability left to flop down and stay there for a period of undetermined time. Even better if it's on a front porch somewhere in the warm spring sun. But here's the greatest miracle of the day. I also did not have time to eat. I had a slightly soft apple on the kitchen counter and consumed it, not knowing it would have to sustain me until my dad treated me to S&S Cafeteria about 5:30 that afternoon. I got all my comfort-food favorites which included chicken pot pie and a slice of chocolate pie. An "all-pie" meal definitely constitutes comfort food and confirms the fact that I was too tired and hungry to make a better decision. But it was beyond delicious and I had it scarfed down within about 10 minutes time. I never go a day without eating before 5:30 (well, save the apple); it's just not what I do. On an average day I must have food before noon or I become cranky and impossible. Another example of the miracles of the day.
So the search has begun to find the next property. We are in an extended-stay facility which is providing for us a much needed respite for resting (as we work!) and a landing spot for control central. Which gets me to thinking...I could get used to this...no housework...limited items to keep up with...a comfy king bed with linens changed by someone else...watching TV in that bed...the list goes on of conveniences that come with this kind of temporary living. And it really gets me to thinking (even more than I already have) of how living with less is looking more and more appealing to me by the moment. Do we really need all the things we think we do? This has been a recurring theme in my last few posts -- I guess because I am totally worn out from moving all that stuff! But for right now I have a peace and relief about having accomplished the task that has been confronting us head-on for a while now.
But for the record, I did have a slight mini-meltdown the evening of the 17th. I picked up hubby and took him back to the old house to pick up his car. As we came around the corner of the front of the house, I had this overwhelming desire to just go in and get in my bed. I was beyond exhausted and the tears started to fall. The house was not a warm welcoming haven any longer. It was all locked up, dark and sad, and my heart hurt a little thinking it would be my last time there. But hubby assured me he had booked a nice hotel room our first night out with a comfy pillow for my head and that I would not go without shelter. To our angst, however, upon arriving at the hotel around 11:00 (finally!), we were informed there had been an error and they did not have a room for us. Whuuuut? Neither did the next hotel where we inquired. We felt a bit like Mary and Joseph that long-ago night when there was no room for them in the inn, but at least I was not nine months pregnant with child! But, hey, we did find a room where we both found rest for the next day. And now every day is a day where the hunt is on, a new adventure has begun, and we are moving forward.
But there is no moving forward without some pain, no success without some risk, no finding something new without leaving something else behind.
And hard crazy challenges don't come without at least a few tears.
As we inch closer to our final moving day, I can't deny that I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. In just over 48 hours I will be officially homeless. But unlike some folks who find themselves in that situation by the circumstances life has thrown their way and many times not by their own choices, mine is completely by choice. In the last couple of days we have filled a 10x30-foot storage unit and it looks like there has not been a dent made in the stuff in my house. Right now we're just taking the "small" items on our own, so as to make moving day easier and more streamlined when the movers arrive. So how do you fill up an entire storage unit and where have all those objects been hiding? Safely within the confines of the absolutely amazing closet space I have had in this house. 'Tis a blessing, but also a curse. I've always hated basements and attic storage because if you have a basement or attic, you WILL find stuff to fill it. Ditto for numerous and extra-large closet spaces. I've found things lurking in the backs of closets that I forgot I even had, let alone have used in the two years we've been in this house. But in all fairness to me, I also have noticed quite a few items in the process that have found their way into my stuff by virtue of the fact that they were my parents' and I simply cannot part with them. At least not right now.
So the hubs and I have been talking about why, why, why it seems that we have so much stuff. Is it that we cannot live without it? We all know that's nonsense, because if we have a bed and a pillow to lay our head upon at night, a few clothes to put on our backs, and a couple of pans and dishes to have for food, you officially have everything you need to exist, right? I wish beyond wishes that I will one day get to the point where things don't matter so much. And it may be hard to believe, but I have pared down, I really have. But it is so easy to bring stuff into the house and fail to take stuff out, which is one of my own rules I've broken lately. For example, I've been on a mission in recent months to replace many of my throw pillows (I use throw pillows A LOT in my decorating), but instead of donating the old ones to Goodwill, I still have them. Other things I can't seem to part with? The aforementioned parents' items. Even though I've struggled to find a place for it, I simply cannot get rid of my mother's wicker bench. She bought it and she loved it, so I love it too. Boxes of old cards and love letters my dad sent my mom during the Korean conflict; have to hang onto those -- after all, they're history, right?! The gold and black china my sweet mother-in-law gave me before she died which I haven't used in probably five years. But she gave it to me and to give it away would be giving away a piece of my heart. We've lugged some of our kids' stuff around for years. Like boxes of outgrown baby clothes, boxes of pottery, old yearbooks, old prom gowns, even bicycles! Come on, kids, you gotta come get your junk!
In the race to find a spot in the storage units for all the treasures (haha) we own, whether it's a box of greeting cards dating back to 1995 (I'm turning into my mom) or a ragged crazy quilt that belonged to my great-grandmother (which is starting to dry-rot, by the way), we are attempting with passionate abandon to find a place for each and every thing. Right now it's taking up every moment of every day, crowding our minds with the dilemma of how to best house all these items safely and securely until we have found a new home for our babies. And I just pray with my whole entire heart that I have some closet space! I can see us now on moving day. After the last floor is mopped, the last toilet cleaned for the new owners and the door locked behind us for the final time, we will get into our fully-loaded-down automobiles to find a hotel room where we can sleep for a couple of days before beginning the real work. And that is finding a new place to flip, but not before we fill it with our stuff and hunker down for awhile.
So for now our stuff remains with us. We have sorted and re-sorted, filed and re-filed, considered and re-considered, and accepted the fact that our life right now is a bit crowded with things that we pack, unpack, and once again find a place for not only in our hearts but in the house, no matter its size. Or at least until we wake up like crazy fools one day and get rid of it all! But some day in the future, as we've sold our final fixer-upper and pared down all the baggage we can pare down, I look forward to hauling "all my stuff" to my forever home in a pull-behind 4x6 trailer or maybe just a van loaded with the bare essentials for daily living.
Or maybe everything in the hatchback of my little Nissan.
Or maybe everything into a beach bag...my swimsuit, a blanket, and directions to the nearest beach where we can ease into our ultimate profession...total beach bums with all our possessions in that (very large) bag, with nothing but time on our hands, listening to the water swell along with the catch of the day swelling in our very-contented bellies.
Hey, it could happen.
Do you remember Helen McCarthy? In Diary of a Mad Black Woman, she kept a diary of her many emotional experiences. Now, I'm not sure if her madness was the "madness of anger" over her sorry unfaithful husband or the "madness of craziness" for all she went through (maybe some of both), but my madness involves myriad levels of the cray-cray kind. No anger involved whatsoever.
As I prepared to write this post, I must admit I procrastinated because I had so many things I wanted to talk about and was having a difficult time knowing where to start. But then I thought when in the passage of time has that ever stopped me before? Plus, I know that my friends enjoy hearing what's going on with me (haha) and that some might even benefit from hearing about the latest events in my less-than-perfect life! Like that, number one, you can survive the craziness life throws at you AND live to tell about it. The last month has been a flurry of activities as I've been traveling, preparing for and hosting family coming in, caring for my dad, preparing for the closing of my dad's house (finally!) AND... the closing of our house and looking for a new place to flip! It's all very exciting, but also very daunting at times. You know the old saying "When it rains, it pours"? Yup, that's my life right now. There's 52 weeks in a year, but it just so happens that we are closing on both houses within days of each other! Even though buying and fixing up houses for resale is what we do, every "time" the "time" comes and it's "time" to move forward and "time" to do it again, I can't deny that my stomach becomes inhabited by a million butterflies flitting around for the exciting possibilities, yes, but also for the unknown. It is truly a mixed bag of emotions.
My dad continues to have ongoing needs as he attempts to settle into the life he now has. I can only imagine how I will feel one day when my last few freedoms (i.e., my car and ultimate source of independence) have been jerked out from under me. He struggles to make sense of something he sees as unnecessary and the finality of the freedoms of a life he once knew. Aging adults have a hard time seeing themselves as the one who needs help and unable to do the things that came so completely natural when they were younger...like having control of certain bodily functions, preparing your own food, driving that car, and basically just becoming the cared for as opposed to the one who gives care. But my dad is resilient and he is adapting to his new normal. He recently rolled out of the bed and fell flat on his nose and had the most horrible black eyes I perhaps have ever seen, but did he let it get him down? Absolutely not! He's a trooper at 89. But most days are filled with -- if not actual decisions, thoughts on how to make his life safer and easier and give him the best days we can give him in these final years. My dad is an ongoing part of my life for which I am honored and gifted to be able to be a part.
The next couple of weeks will be what I consider utter chaos in the selling of a house you're living in, packing up everything you own in a week, and figuring out what to do with said stuff while figuring out where to land for awhile. You go from being very comfortably hunkered down in 2700 square feet to a tiny furnished apartment or extended stay or some other form of shelter containing the basic necessities until the plan has completely unfolded. Right now that plan consists mostly of just making do and hanging tight while you scramble every day to find the next "place" that will hopefully be a source of financial gain and which for me becomes my next project to morph from an ugly duckling into a pearl of great price. It is a job I thoroughly enjoy but is also quite scary at times. Today the hubster dumped a huge pile of boxes on the garage floor and within the next few days most of them will begin to fill with objects that I can't seem to let go of, but that I haven't used in awhile. Those are the first items to be rounded up and loaded into boxes, followed by the things we use most every day but can do without for a short period of "in between" time. The final objects lassoed into bags, and various containers and suitcases will be the items that are non-negotiable as we wander around like vagabonds for the next month. This nomadic lifestyle is not for everyone.
So why in the world do I continue to agree to this madness? Because, as much as I want to deny it, I must confess that I love it! My girlfriends tell me that after I've lived in a place for a year I begin to get restless. Are they right? Maybe so. Since I know when I move into a place I will not be there for long, I make haste to make it the way I want it sooner rather than later. I always have a vision for a place before even purchasing it, so "why wait?" is my mantra. By the time a year rolls around, everything has been updated and every last piece of furniture arranged just right. It is ready to reveal to the next crop of buyers. And that's when that little ol' decorating bug bites me clearly in the butt and my butt begins to get that restlessness. I start to become anxious and begin to have major fantasies about the next endeavor and what it will look like. I think of all the possibilities that might be in our next design challenge and I begin to get pumped for what is ahead. I have friends who have pretty much lived in the same house a good part of their adult lives and some maybe in the same house from childhood. Wow, I admire you and wonder how you do it. Because, to this drifter, that scenario sounds even more challenging than moving every year or two! But in case you think there will never come a day when I will once and for all settle down and plant roses and till a garden or paint walls a funky hue that no one else will want, think again.
This gypsy lifestyle is not for most and not even for me forever. One day I fully intend to have that little cottage that is everything my heart ever dreamed of with all my favorite colors and pared down with just the items I need for daily living. I plan to travel and see the world and visit my kids and make new friends and pick tomatoes and cucumbers for supper. I plan to have lots of time for hanging out with friends and reading and have considered even taking up painting (don't tell anyone that one, though). I plan to play with my grandchildren and let them take care of me...you know, bring me sweet tea as I sit on the porch on my glider, flipping through the latest design magazines and thinking about a life I once lived in a faraway time.
Just not at THIS moment in time. Right now I hear a sad little house calling my name...Help me...Help me...I need you! Deliver me from the neglect that has come upon me... And what do I say? I hear you, little house...I'm coming!
Like a dang fool.
Some cosmetic improvements made to our present (but not for long) house
I never sleep that well when I have a child leaving very early the next morning to catch a flight. Partly because I know I have to rise early and I don't especially like to rise early unless the beach is in the travel plans and, in that case, the earlier the better! It seems when I know I have to get up early, I don't really rest until about an hour before the alarm goes off, ugh ... If I have a morning that I plan to sleep in, my internal alarm resounds before the crack of dawn. What is up with that? But the main reason I don't sleep all that well before a child leaves is most times I don't know exactly when I will see them again. The best way to get through saying the goodbyes is to focus on your next visit. So saying goodbye or adios or farewell to loved ones is one of the hardest things I have to do in my life, especially when I don't know when the next visit will be. I think my entire family has issues with having to say goodbye. Even on the phone no one wants to be the first to hang up, so there's a rather irritating volley back and forth of "I love you" and "goodbye" and "talk to ya later" and "thanks for calling" before someone is brave enough to utter the final goodbye and put the phone down. My family does not like to say goodbye.
Hollie, Adam, and Preston were in the states this past weekend -- Hollie and Preston here in Georgia with us at an event and Adam in Missouri at an event. We truly missed Adam, but I cannot deny that it was fun having the two girls all to ourselves! The weekend was a whirlwind of activities mingled with some quiet moments (which are my absolute favorite!). Every time I see Preston I am amazed at the growth she has made since our last time together. If I am blessed enough to see them more regularly, it's usually every two or three months and a preschooler can make great bounds in that amount of time. The biggest change I saw in her? When she prefers her mama over her nana (which she does quite often), she politely tells Nana that she wants her mama, but that she loves me too. Wow, what progress over her just pushing my face away with her chunky little hand! Being able to convey complete thoughts with their words is an accomplishment of little ones that has always amazed me. They go from uttering a barely recognizable "mama" and "daddy" and "no" to saying pretty much anything within a year's time and I am astounded at that! To make things even more interesting, Preston is fluent in Spanish as well. This comes from having a nanny who doesn't speak a lick of English and by being surrounded by people who, except for her parents, only speak Spanish. The hubsters and I were fascinated by the "conversations" she held with Hollie completely in Spanish, only to switch back to English when Hollie did. How can one tiny little child do it? I believe it's because she has absolutely no mental stress and is able to use more of her brain in the process of language-learning. I have had to really work at mastering just a few short phrases in Spanish and I have to practice because I forget even those if I don't repeat them! Language is fascinating, wouldn't you agree?!
So once again, I sit at my computer with only memories in my heart. But good and bad memories are what life is made of, and so life goes on. I must admit, however, that I certainly prefer the good memories over the bad and there are virtually no bad memories when I have a visit with my youngest granddaughter. She brings light and life into every room she enters! Of course, she has her typical "preschooler moments" when she's a tiny bit naughty and Nana must correct her, but that's just part of her charm. And the little pouty lips that tremble before she drops a couple of huge tears melt Nana into an emotional mess. But even those moments are good ones, because she is in my presence. I make it a point to dwell on the good in my life, and I believe that in and of itself is one of the reasons I am considered by most an optimist. I mean, life is too short to dwell on the worries, cares, and disappointments that are inevitable if you are taking up space here, right?
When Hollie is in town, she always makes it a priority to go by and see my dad. Most times, it's just for a short visit, but it always makes him happy and seeing his youngest great-grandchild makes him doubly happy. In fact, Hollie usually spreads herself way too thin. She tries her best to visit with as many people as she can when she's in town. But that's just Hollie. Her ties with close friends and family are tight and the roots run deep. And those roots run from Georgia to New York City to Washington State to Texas and all the way back to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Hollie has always been a social butterfly and she is not about ready to stop now. I can see her in her old age in a rocking chair as she teaches, encourages, and socializes with everyone like they're her very best friend.
I gave her to God when she was a tiny little baby and she has never really been mine. Fly free, you little butterfly, and take your mini-me with you.
Posted by CC
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