Thursday, April 30, 2009

Gracie's Eyes

Last Monday was not a good day. In fact, it was probably a day like that which gave Monday it’s bad reputation in the first place. When I tell you about it, you may roll your eyes and cock your lip up on one side and say, “That’s what you call a bad day?” But it was, I tell you. It was bad.

The bad actually started on Sunday night. I stayed up past my bewitching hour to finish a blog post in time to enter it in a writing contest. It was a hard story for me to write; the subject matter was deeply personal and more than a little painful. Even though I had already begun to question the wisdom of sharing something so tender with the world, I published it anyway and emailed the link to the contest site. I shut down the computer, turned off the lights and went to bed.

And did not sleep well. Even though Monday was the beginning of a down week at JD3’s job and I was able to sleep a little later than usual, I was still up before sunrise. Unable to shake that uneasy feeling, I stumbled to the kitchen and made myself some tea in my favorite red and white polka-dotted mug. I let the big white cat out, sat down and booted up the computer, then headed off to meet my friends for our morning chat. When I got there, I found that the not-so-long-lost friend who had returned yesterday to stir up trouble had had tremendous success with her endeavor. She had turned what started as a little joke between good buddies into a sinister conspiracy designed specifically to make her look bad. Singing, “I Am Victim, Hear Me Roar,” at the top of her lungs, she chastised us all for being shallow, mean-spirited women. And she continued to do so for most of the morning, long after we had given up the futile attempt to prove that, in fact, we were not shallow, mean-spirited women.

In spite of the fact that I was in a really bitchy mood not my usual cheery self, I decided to go see Mama. Now, you know I love my mama, but sometimes she - and her husband - can be irritating. Bless their hearts. (For those of you north of the Mason-Dixon line, here in the South it’s ok to say something bad about somebody as long as you preface it with, “Now, you know I love so-and-so, but…” And then you must end the statement with, “Bless her heart.”) But I went anyway. I oohed and ahhed over the new curtains and pillow shams in the guest room, did some more oohing and aahing over their cute little kitty and then settled down in the den where we actually had a pleasant visit. Until the talk turned to the economy.

They told me all about Dave Ramsey’s course and how excited they were that their church had offered it. They told me about all of the positive steps they were taking towards being financially secure in an insecure world. I heard about the new freezer and Mama’s plans for fruits and vegetables. I heard about their budget and how they were really sticking to it this time. They were excited and not nearly as gloom and doom as they usually are. But I felt gloomed and doomed. “We aren’t doing any of that!” I thought. “Why aren’t we doing any of that?!”

I drove home convinced that by Friday, I would be living in a tent, eating cold beans out of a can with a plastic spoon as I guarded the shopping cart that held all 15 of my worldly possessions. I walked in the back door, put my purse on the table and laid my keys beside it. I took one step towards the den and then I heard it. The news channel. I hate the news channel. I hate it all of the time. But I really hated it right then because the subject was, of course, the economy! I couldn’t seem to get away from the bad that had become my day.

Hoping to find a happy place where I could, at least for a little while, ignore all of the ugly in the world, I sat down at the computer and logged on to the internet. My plan was to read only my friends’ blogs; lighthearted places that would make me smile or maybe even laugh out loud. I would see what cute things their children and grandchildren were doing. There was a chance I’d get a good recipe from one of them or read about somebody’s vacation plans. I’d read my darling daughter’s journal and see what she was up to in College Town. I might even get to see pretty pictures. It would all be nice and it would make me feel better.

When the home page came up, I scrunched my eyes and turned my head a little so the news headlines were blurry and unreadable. Using just my right eye, I searched my bookmarks for the first blog, clicked on the link, and waited for the pretty page to load. “Oh, good,” I thought. “She has a new post!” My spirits already lifting, I leaned in to read the title and… had my heart broken. She had shared something personal about herself; something that, to others would have been no big deal, but left me reeling. I knew I needed to say something, to tell her how I felt. I struggled to find the right words, but they just weren’t to be found.

It was only 7:30pm and I was ready for this day to end. That funny feeling about my story hadn‘t gone away. My friends’ and my character had been attacked. My head had been pulled from that nice, warm spot in the sand in which I had buried it and I
had been forced to listen to, horror of horrors, the news! And I still needed to talk to my friend. It was too much. I needed Divine Intervention and I needed to go to bed. After asking all of my friends to pray for me, I took my little rain cloud and did just that.

I fell asleep hoping for a good night’s rest and a better tomorrow. I would wake up and find that my story had at least garnered an honorable mention. The world would know and acknowledge that my friends and I were truly wonderful people.
JD3 would get a huge bonus in spite of the economy and our future would be secure. The words that I needed, so beautiful and eloquent,would be pasted to the back of my eyelids when I woke up. The birds would sing, the sun would shine and all would be well.

What I got, however, was not much sleep and a monster headache that had me getting out of bed at 4:00am. The only words that came to mind were, “I need pills!” and I groped my way to the kitchen where I swallowed a handful of ibuprofen and a Benadryl,
and sat down to check the contest site. I didn’t win. I didn’t get an honorable mention. And what’s more, since I was one of the last to submit an entry, the link to my story was waaaaaaaaay down on the bottom of the page. I sat there wallowing in pain and self-pity. I was a failure; an inarticulate, untalented, un-frugal (is that a word?) middle-aged, wrinkled, gray-haired,chubby woman with a headache. (I was really into my wallowing!) With a deep sigh, I leaned back in my chair, looked out of the window and saw a falling star. Sure that it was a sign of great significance, I ran out to the back yard and poured my heart out to God. Feeling a little better, I went back in the house, went back to bed and slept until late morning.

Now, you’re probably expecting me to say that when I woke up, all was right with the world; that everything had, indeed, been worked out. It hadn’t. Tuesday was just a continuation of Monday. But when I sat down in the kitchen and put my head in my hands, thinking, “Oh brother. Here we go again, “ Gracie came to me. She put her front paws on my thigh and looked at me with such love that, for a few minutes, all was right with the world. It was quiet and peaceful and no words were needed. She wagged her tail and nibbled my ear and I felt taken care of. She looked at me as if she knew how I felt and all she wanted was to make me feel better. She expected nothing more of me than that I love her back.

And I do. We weren’t looking for another pet when she came into our lives. If we had been, we probably would have gotten something smaller than a 60lb Pit Bull mix who thinks she’s a lap dog. But somebody made the mistake of not wanting this precious animal and dropped her off in our front yard. His loss is one of my most precious gains. Because, when things are falling apart and I’m having one of those days, I need only look in Gracie’s eyes and I’m comforted.

I know this is Thursday and that it's Tuesdays Unwrapped over at Chatting at the Sky. So, I'm a little late. But I think Emily's message is a good one all of the time:
In every bad day, there's a little gift of something good if you take the time to unwrap it. Gracie is my every day gift. You can see the stories and see the pictures of those who do things on time if you click on this pretty button.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Write Away

Scribbit is having a writing contest and this month's theme is "Mom." I hope y'all will visit there and read all the stories about motherhood.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Mother's Arms

This post was removed to protect the memory of someone I loved very much.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


“All our words from loose using have lost their edge.”
Ernest Hemingway

I’m pretty much a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl. I go to bed when I’m sleepy. I do laundry, not on any particular day of the week, but when we‘re out of clean underwear. We eat supper at whatever time it‘s ready, which is usually after I’ve spent a frantic hour or so deciding just what it is that supper is going to be. The little dog gets her hair cut when I can’t see her eyes anymore, and I make an appointment for my annual check-up only when my daughter reminds me that it’s been well over a year since I had the last one. In short, I am a woman without a routine.

Except for early mornings. Even my most chaotic, un-schedulized, let’s-just-see-what-happens day starts with a routine. With few exceptions, I get up before the sun rises and make the coffee. While it’s brewing, I make JD3’s lunch and feed, water and yell at love the animals. When all of that’s done and I’ve kissed my honey goodbye, I make myself a cup of tea and sit down at the computer. After reading my email and checking in with my Board Buddies, I farm a little on facebook and read Anna’s latest post on livejournal. And then I begin my daily visits in BlogLand.

One of my first stops is Mary Carroll’s photo blog, In A Soft Light, where every morning, Mary posts one of her beautiful photographs. Often, she pairs the photo with by a quote chosen to complement the picture much like the right wine does a great meal. One morning last week, it was as if she had chosen the picture and the quote just for me. Together, they seemed to speak right to my heart. Anxious to tell her how moved I was, I quickly scrolled past the comments of others, clicked on the “Post a Comment” button and waited with poised fingers for the comment form to appear. When it did, I…had absolutely nothing to say. All of the words that I wanted to use sounded shallow and worn and insincere. It was then that I realized the full import of Hemingway’s words; that, just as we have with our beautiful earth, we’ve carelessly and casually used up one of our most valuable resources. Our most powerful words have become platitudes, useless for conveying great thought and emotion.

Consider the word awesome. “Oh, you can come to dinner Friday night?! Awesome!” Or, “I just got an awesome deal on a new car.” How about, “You look awesome in that dress?” Can any of these experiences come close to making you feel what you feel when you see the Grand Canyon or watch the sun set over Key West? Is getting a great deal on a new pair of shoes even remotely akin to the experience of holding your little baby for the first time?

What about love? I don’t just like snickerdoodles, I love, love, love them. (Three times the love!) I love polka dots. I love red. Or, as we Southern girls say, “Honey, I love ya new hayah-do!” (That’s hair for you Northerners.) Really? Love? Isn’t love that wonderful and profound feeling I have for my husband, my child, my God?

Which brings me to Oh, my God! In my opinion, those words should only be uttered when calling on the magnificent Creator of the Universe, not to convey excitement and delight because some TV decorator has just re-decorated your whole house with $35 and a glue gun! They should not be flung out so that others will know just how shocked and disgusted you might be, as in “Oh my freakin’ God, did you see that guy she was with?!” Excitement can be communicated without saying, “OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGod! He’s so cute!” These words should be said in worship, in supplication and in wonder that yes, He is my God.

Imagine Heaven. The sun is shining down on the polished streets of gold. Flowers of every color are blooming in front of the many mansions. The angels are at choir practice and their beautiful song fills the air. In the distance, on a hill covered with soft green grass, sits God on His brilliant white throne. Just to his right, with His hand on His Father’s shoulder, stands Jesus. Together, they are looking down at the world that they love so much. Sometimes they smile. Sometimes they wipe away a tear. Sometimes they laugh out loud. Jesus leans down and says to God, “Father, I hear Susie calling your name.” God shakes his head sadly and says, “Son, Susie isn‘t really calling me. She’s just excited. She got some awesome new furniture and she loves, loves, loves it”

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BeeMusing by Beverly Lane is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.