Most mornings I normally begin to stir around 3:30am. The alarm is set to chime with the sound of birds at 5am. I use my phone for an alarm as I have no beside alarm. My retired military husband uses a digital alarm that is on his bedside table. It squawks like an injured crow in the mornings and he hits snooze 3-4 times. For some reason, the sound of his alarm will wake me as if someone snatched the covers off the bed and dashed artic cold waters on me. It doesn’t bother him and he falls right back to sleep. He can also jump up, hit the bathroom and showers and shave then dress himself fully within 25 minutes. He then goes downstairs and do some light exercise while preparing his coffee. He lets the dogs out and prepares his lunch. Comes back upstairs and kisses me goodbye. Oh! Did I mention I am still on the side of the bed staring at the wall? Lol!
How important are morning routines to our daily lives? I think they are very important …at least they are for me. If I get up out of bed at 3:30-4:00am, I am usually either well rested or my mind is on high alert with thoughts and ideas and wonders. I dress cozy and go downstairs and make a cup of tea and settle down at my desk for some prayer, Bible study and meditation. I can easily spend two hours right there and will have a hard time tearing myself away to finish my morning. At head upstairs when I hear my husband walking around after being awaken by his squawk box. To keep myself focused and on task, I listen to audiobooks and/or podcasts. But, if I turn on the TV, I will NEVER leave the house on time. If I listen to the news, I have the propensity to be flustered and tense. If I turn on the radio and listen to my grooves, I will leave later than I want and often speed to work and guaranteed to leave some vital to my day. I know, I’m a little weird but what can I say.
I am a thinker and my mind is always flitting. I must find a creative outlet that will inspire but also allow me to focus on the days tasks or I will fall prey to every whim that infuses my mind. Big brainers and thinkers must be careful to guard their minds more than the average. I avoid situations, movies, music etc … that produce an excessive amount of profanity and violence and action. It will seep into my thoughts and I don’t have time that. My family and I went to see a movie where the main character was in a high drama, action-filled scene and ended up under the water trying to defend his life. I remember being tired and out of breath when the scene was over. Later that night, I woke up trying to breathe because I was reliving that scene. When it was time to get up the next morning, I could not get myself together! Lol! I sat on the side of the bed too long. Yes I made it to work on time but I was out of sorts mentally and physically; and all during the day thoughts of that movie came to mind. I wondered, what did the producers mean to convey? What message was I supposed to glean? My mind just could not absorb this information properly. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to watch movies. But they must be inspiring on some level and it total helps if the scenery breath-taking.
So, my mornings are actually affected by my evenings as well. And while my mild mannered easy hubby seems to be an easy going guy, I have found that if I am too chatty in the morning, it throws him off. He also arrives to work super early and sits in his car and nap or listen to his music. This is how he unwinds after driving in morning rush hour traffic. (Isn’t it something to need to unwind after only being awake for 2.5 hours?). Morning can often set the tone for the rest of the day. I see some people riding to work with the music blaring and they are singing loud and proud. And I love to watch it! But if that was me, I’d drive straight past work and keep going until I found an adventure that matches my music via personal concert or on to the next thing that I am sure does not include a desk, fluorescent lighting, desk phone or no windows. Find your own stride and be YOU!
Recently I completed CASA training. A CASA volunteer is a Court Appointed Special Advocate who is a voice for children who are going through a tough time in their lives due to neglect or abuse. I love mentoring, coaching, writing and bringing out the best in others. This was a great fit for me. Can you spare approximately 1.5 hours to help a child? I also mentor with The Up Center. Look up those two organizations and let me know what you think.
During Thanksgiving we usually travel to Mississippi as this is where both my husband and I were born and raised. We journey down for a 16 hour ride by car. Nope, we don’t fly. The real adventure is being locked in a car with family for hours and arrive in one piece and still like each other when we get there. This year, some of us (my family because we arrived last) had to stay In a hotel because there was no room at the inn (sorry couldn’t help myself). We stayed at the newest hotel in Cleveland and it’s in a great location. The Cotton House Hotel which is aptly located on Cotton Row in Cleveland, and a welcomed treat after a long day with family, food, fun and laughter.
What was interesting to my hubby and I was that we did not have to plan logistics for children, teenagers and young adults. We were exploring new grounds and quickly getting fond of it. Sharing the holidays with family and grown children is actually very nice. Especially if you know how to stay in your lane and realize that no matter how crazy the conversation is with that teenager or radical uncle or religious grandma gets, you will always have the power, option and choice as to how you respond. Life and time are often shorter than we would like so why not maximize every moment great and small. So this Christmas season, take that photo with your niece, play a game of uno with the children, tell the Christmas story, sing Christmas songs, give generously to the unfortunate, sit with someone elderly and let them fill you with wisdom and love, walk and look at those lights. And always remember that no matter what anyone says about the holiday season, Jesus is the real reason we really celebrate Christmas. So while we were at the hotel, we took the picture (kinda weird not having to herd teens and young adults for a photo for the Christmas postcard). We ate at the hotel and admired all the local products that were produced in the state. We walked and took in the sights of the beautiful lights on the green directly across the street from the hotel. We took time to talk to locals and admire the transformed beauty of the hotel due to the Christmas season. Nothing and no one who has an encounter with Jesus remains untouched or transformed and that includes Christmas decorations -warm, merry and bright. Go ahead and smile. I know you want to. Merry Christmas All!
On a recent visit to spend Thanksgiving with my family I got the rare opportunity to spend some time with my parents and reminisce over days of old. My father is in the beginning stages of Dementia and I want to purposefully capture all the moments and memories that I can. I was helping mom to clean out one of her closets when I stumbled upon a tattered and torn quilt top. Being a quilter myself I knew that that quilt had to have a story. So, I asked mom what was the story behind this quilt top. She said ‘nothing to it dear. My mom made that when I was about 15 or sixteen years old. I even sewed a few of those pieces’.
It may not be nothing to it to my mom but here is what my fascinated brain picked up on. I am 51 years old and my mother had me when she was 19. So that means this quilt top is around 54-55 years old. My grandmother made this quilt top by hand and it apparently got quite a bit of use. I also learn this this quilt top was to be the main quilt or decorative quilt that goes on the top of the bed. I have another quilt that she made that is referred to as an under quilt. It is very heavy and meant to be for warmth and not necessarily aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The under quilt is made from heavier clothings, like suiting, coats and jackets. Raw cotton is sewn between the layers. It is heavy and Uber warm.
Decorative quilts were thinner and always displayed on the top of the under quilt. They were usually made from old clothing, tablecloths, flour sacks and curtains. Nothing ever went to waste! They were the ultimate recyclers. Grandma (died when I was only a few years old) would spend her evenings cutting up old clean clothes into whatever shape she needed for a quilt. When she had enough, she would begin sewing it all together. What is even more interesting to me is that before I begin a quilt, I have to read up on techniques, watch YouTube, thumbed through Pinterest and make several trips to the fabric store just to get an idea.
Well I am going to restore this quilt top. I will mostly take it apart and re-sew it back in the same shape. I plan to make it heavy by using denim and corduroy and maybe some wool. I’m so proud to be in possession of these quilts from my maternal grandmother. I will place my hands and needles where hers was. I will restore and cover my family with this quilt. We will tell stories and make memories while using the quilt and not merely looking at it.
We love to go camping. About 10 years ago we bought a tent, packed some food and grabbed our teenagers and headed for the nearest state park. Actually it was not the nearest but nonetheless it was less than an hour from home. Well, our teenagers just could not grasp the idea of why we had to actually stay overnight and the fact that it was more work than they anticipated. Fishing was only mildly interesting and walking to the bath house in the middle of the night was insane to them. The dog was not amused either. Every noise had that poor dog on high alert. She did not sleep the entire weekend. So we never went camping again until this year. We (minus the teenager and dogs)packed our 10 year old tent and other rusting camping equipment and headed off to a “safe” park to camp. It was less than an hours drive from home and close to a store yet still having a secluded feeling.
Now that we have been on five camping trips this year, I often find myself pondering why we like camping. This question especially comes to mind when someone asks ‘what did you do this weekend?’ My response would be ‘ oh we went camping.’ Then you get the weird incredible look because as the story develops it’s does sound strange. ‘Wasn’t it raining, cold, windy, hot, humid, deer season, bear activity, bugs, snakes, prowler, murders … you name it, we’ve been asked. So now I began to pose the question to myself, why did you spend quite a bit of money to be comfortable living outside in the woods when you pay a mortgage to ‘not’ be outside in the woods?
My answer is actually quite different from my stud muffin’s answer. I like being outside and I particularly like trees. Yup, I like trees … the tall green plants with leaves and bark. I love walking through creation and noticing all the wonder. I equally like to run away from work-life and adult responsibilities and enjoy some solitude and quiet. No music, tv, radio, noise by phone, nothing. I can sit in my tent with my books and listen to the rain on my tent for an entire weekend without going anywhere or seeing other people. I stare at the wander, I read, I sleep, I eat, I pray, I walk, I ride my bike, I think on lovely things and I stare at my handsome stud. Stud on the other hand enjoys music and constantly moving around flitting from one project to another. I write and reflect. We walk mostly in silence -me in my thoughts and he in his music, hand in hand. I am recharged, I am grateful and refreshed. Ready to head back to civilization for two more weeks before it is time to ‘come away to a quiet place and rest.
When we go camping, we see tons of people camping. We have yet to find another family or friend who likes camping. Either we know some strange people or we ARE the strange people 😂
This past June hubby and I visited the Blue Ridges again. We love those mountains and it’s people and culture or should I say we love the places we have explored so far. One of the things I noticed this time while visiting the backside of Gatlingburg was how often the people said ‘have a blessed day’. It makes me smile.
One morning we ventured to a farmers market and talked with the locals, who can spot a tourist a mile away. The question asked by one of the sellers was ‘where y’all from?’ I responded -Virginia Beach. This poor woman put her hand to chest and declared ‘oh precious I’m so sorry’. Now I was confused (doesn’t take much). I know Virginia Beach is not the best place on Earth but it’s not nearly the worst either. I was actually kind of offended. I proceeded to say, well I like it there. It’s not so bad. The sorrowful woman said, did you know any of the victims? How far was that shooting from y’all? Coming to understanding I assured her that while it was fairly close, I did not know of any of the victims. This compassionate woman followed up with, but it was still tragic to what has happened in your community. If it happened to one, it happened to all. I know it’s hard but we have got to be strong and don’t lose faith. We are praying for y’all. It’s just awful. It could have happened anywhere’.
Now, I was shocked when and where the shooting happened. We can ride our bikes to the courthouse area and back. My family called from allover the U.S. checking on us. For a days we were glued to any news that would help us to understand why this happened. But to go away on vacation and meet someone in another state, in a small town who took the time to console and remind us of how strong and necessary community really is was sobering. Her concern and care blessed me so.
Since returning home to Virginia Beach, I purposefully look people in the eye. I speak, whether others speak back or not. I say have a blessed day. I smile when I pass someone. I hold doors. I talk to cashier’s, servers or anyone really. I volunteer to serve others in my community by mentoring young girls. I seek the small business persons to support. I try to be better each day. I try to understand and grow and give. I am #vbstrong. I am #vbproud.
Spring can be quite busy for me as it is my favorite time of year right after Fall. It is also the time of year to clean up the yard, plant flowers, paint and clear out clutter from the winter. I also have a tendency to start huge projects inside. Since we are practically empty nesters, I am repurposing a few rooms in the house. Redecorating and using them in a manner that reflects our current lifestyle. In the midst of all this chaos, a dear friend texts and says ‘brunch Saturday? Lots to catch up on. Miss u.’ I’ve not talked to her much in the past six months because … well … life. Hers and mine. But, apparently she had time to pop up for air and wanted to connect. Well of course I said yes!
However, I did not anticipate working late most of the week, pulling a muscle in my back or getting off track with my projects. Once again … life. I thought about canceling our brunch date until I remembered my goal of being intentional. Brunch would take place no matter what. Friday after work, I would go to the store and get the things I needed to treat my friend to a southern ‘porch party’ brunch. When 5pm Friday arrived, I had all intents and purposes to hit the grocery and head home to prep. My body could only handle heading home to flop in the recliner. 6am Saturday morning I was still in that recliner fully dressed. I fell asleep and my family left me right there 😂. After getting acclimated to the morning …coffee. I remembered my brunch date and the fact that I had an upside down house and nothing to prepare for my husband’s breakfast or brunch. My initial thought was make a mad dash to the store and throw something together for both, clean the house … Well make it look presentable and then groom myself. However, just the thought of it exhausted me.
Nearly 7am, I could hear my son stirring about upstairs and I texted him, ‘breakfast?’ His reply was, ‘dont stress yourself, I will get us a breakfast sandwich from Dunkin Donuts’. Eureka! This kid (25 year old) is brilliant. Why not get pastries from the local bakery? 7am I was in my car making a mad dash to a wonderful fully stocked bakery. I purchased savory hand pies, miniature quiches, pastries and 1/2 a coffee crumb cake. Drove home placed the items on the counter and texted my friend – brunch, my house 10:30. Fixed us a spread. We can have unlimited time and coffee. Friend’s response? ‘sounds wonderful’. It is now 8am and I have just over two hours to pull this together but first a shower and change of clothes. After my shower I had enough time to get a 30 minute nap in before going back down stairs.
I cleared a space and brought two rockers in from the porch because it was already sweltering outside. Plated the pastries, made coffee and a small pitcher of water. But on some light jazz and let some sunshine in. Then I took the time to light a candle and pray. I prayed for my friend and our sweet fellowship. I also thanked God for her and the opportunity to hear her heart and to serve in any capacity that arose. I was filled with excitement and the anticipation of heart felt conversations and the immense laughter that would come as it always did. Oh my, did this visit refresh my soul and warm my heart!
My home was not perfect but it was in a state of transformation. She thought the rocking chairs were wonderful as we chatted and rocked and drank coffee for hours. She left at 3:30pm vowing it would not be so long the next time we met. I am so glad I did not left the hustle and bustle of life deter me from having a heart to heart with a dear friend.