A Few Things I Learned In June {Joining Emily Freeman}

I learned a few things in June. What a month. Packed with life in all its wonder, glory, joy and pain.

I am still processing so much of what this month revealed to me. And if you have been reading along here for awhile you have heard me say “I am a slow processor.” Think the crockpot of cookeries up against the ultimate microwave. I process the things of life which I ingest over a longish period of time. Hours not minutes. Days not hours. Often.

That is to say, I am not ready to share all that I have learned. But here are a few things which I am longing to share.

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1. When we choose to do that one small thing, its impact is multiplied. Simply put, simple things can and do become grand things. Small gestures can and do become life-impacting.  The Small and The Simple are to be embraced, cherished and sought after. They take on the attributes of the magnificent. Capitalizing the lowercase things of this world.

They, after all are the game-changers, the life-changers, the emotional softening of the hard and crusty places. In June alone, I have seen this played out over and over and over again. My eyes leak and my heart hurts at the beauty and wonder of the transformative power of small. Look with me. Do you see how beautiful the small things of this world are. In a wink, a blink and a nod there are pieces of beautiful waiting to be captured, recorded and cherished. Cataloging life this way fills me up to over-flowing.

And I am learning this again and again. I am learning and believing that this is the way we are meant to see the world. I am a slow learner. And slow is really okay.

2. As a writer, I am called to use my words. And as a reader, you are invited to enter in and see the picture on the canvas that is the page. Have you seen the gold balls that drop down from the heavenlies. I found two pods this week.

(If you follow my instagram feed you may know I am in the glorious Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina for a respite). You can Google with me….there is a tree which drops gold, rounded pods. And they are fragile as parchment paper, bumpy like a golfball, golden like Oriental silk. And beautiful. I am always looking for wonder and posting what I find on Instagram. It helps me to stay awake at the wheel. And no I did not take a picture of the golden balls. But we will find them on Google together.

The day I found one, I proclaimed. Gold balls are falling from heaven. No anomaly was that. I found a second. Don’t we love Google for solving the earthly mysteries, like gold balls which nature has made. Amazing.

3. Voxer is my new best friend. This I did not learn in June. This I have had amplified in June. As I am writing this post I am Voxering my very special friend Shelly Miller in London  (which by the way this “What I Learned Series” is a favorite tradition within the bloggy world  – thank you very much Emily Freeman)

Voxer is a phone app which allows you to talk, walkie-talkie style, text and send photos. Welp. That is pretty much a communication dream package, you hit the lottery, what more could you ask for. I know there are some downsides somewhere in there, but for me (and I haven’t even up-graded to Pro yet) it is the bomb-diggity. People. I get to stay in touch with writers, bloggers and friends all over the whole wide world.

4. Releasing often, maybe always involves trust. A young couple approached me at the gas station last week. They asked me for one dollar and fifty cents. For the bus. I cannot stop thinking about their need. Their circumstances, because they told me the Reader’s Digest version of their story. I am still thinking about them. Hoping for them. And when I remember to I hope I will pray for them. That small interchange, eye-ball to eye-ball, exchange of money from my hand to theirs leaves me changed. Who asks for so little. Why didn’t they go for a 20 or more. They had a need for a bus ticket from one town to the next. Small again. I wish I had been willing to give them more.

5. People like to talk about their gardens. If you know anyone who has a garden, ask them. How are your radishes this year. How are the rainfall and the soil in your world. Ask them what is thriving and what is wilting. I think the vocabulary of gardeners is the vocabulary of the soul. And if you want an ice breaker, conversation starter, or if you just want to connect on a human level with another human being, ask them about their garden. Open the garden gate and see what transpires. And you can ask yours truly about hers or follow me on instagram, where beginning July 1, it is all about my garden and chickens. AGAIN.

Gardens are a beautiful, never-grows old, metaphor for life. A place of paradox. Life and death, thriving and struggling, flourishing and floundering.

How does your garden grow?

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A Few Things I Learned In November

One of the things I love about blogging is writing in community with  writing friends. One of my favorite “writing groups” is over at Chatting At The Sky where Emily Freeman just comes up with such clever ways to write in community. For a few months now I have been participating in her monthly wrap-up where we share “A Few Things We Learned…..” during the previous month.

Here is my wrap up. I may have more fun here than you. So if you don’t have a hankering (great Southern word) for random things, or if you don’t like lists, step away from the computer now. Or stick around and see if you are up for a little November list of what I learned in the last few weeks.

1. I may learn more about humanity, spirituality, kindness, the human condition and what it means to be part of the “sea of humanity” when I visit the Dollar General than anywhere else. I have seen, heard, and witnessed some amazing things in this little place. And I  have written about some of it here.  I am very likely to write more about it in another post. It is where I am getting some of my best “writing inspiration” as well as where I meet some really neat people.

2. Sometimes you can touch a soul by “paying it forwards” or “sideways”.  After lunch after church last week, as we were checking out of another little store in our little town, we noticed an elderly woman had forgotten her money and was unable to complete her purchase of an allergy medication. She left the store without her medicine so  we picked up the tab in an effort to help. My daughter ran out to the parking lot, gave her the package and told her we understood as we have allergy sufferers in our family. That one small moment reminds me to pay attention, to be available in the small things, and some of life’s sweetest lessons for our children are taught in the classroom of the real world. True that? And that her gratitude and reaction will never be forgotten by one teenage girl.

3. Sometimes you cannot fathom in your wildest dreams (well that is a bit of an exaggeration but hey, I am going with it) that you would get a song stuck in your head repeatedly. Well now said song has a new version which is on you tube which now allows you to have the song stuck in your head 23/7 and the cool video version from the Florida State Accabells. See what you think. And tell me how many times you want to watch it. Be honest…

4. True Confessions….this little girl has stolen my heart. I love the look of the little boy beside her who doesn’t get a word in edge-wise, not one, because she totally steals the show. I learned that there are some advertisements that just totally knock it out of the park and I might stay in the room, and turn up the volume and  enjoy the ad more than some slash most television shows.

5. I have just finished a 12 week writing workshop over at Tweetspeak PoetryIn the
“The Writing Life” my expectations were surpassed ya’ll. In every way. And I met some of the most amazingly talented writers. Trust was developed, friendships made, and a writing group was formed, consisting of women spread out all over the country. From coast to coast, literally. On those days when I want to throw the internet under the bus, an opportunity comes along to provide me with a virtual classroom and the internet is redeemed. I am once again amazed at the ability it has to make my world better and smaller. On a good day. As in the last 12 weeks. I am a believer. For now. I am also apt to change my mind. Ya’ll if you have an opportunity to join a workshop at Tweetspeak, go there, do that, and then come back and tell me how over the moon you found it to be.

6. Have you ever heard a word cuter than peabiddie. Yeah, me either. My good friend Shelly Miller, who blogs at Redemption’s Beauty sent me a message last week in which she recommended a read a book by Flannery O’Connor entitled “Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose”.  Shelly,  who lives a hop skip and a jump from me, knows my love of “Southern voice”. She may not have known that I have a mild obsession with peacocks, which paired with my obsession with words is a match made in heaven when you stumble back on the word “peabiddie.” Ya’ll it is too precious. I learned when a friend, especially a writer friend suggests you get your hands on a book, get you hands on that book. And discover how well you are known.

7. The night that you want to skip your new “bible study” which isn’t a bible study but rather a couples group which is studying a book on simplicity is always the night you were meant to be there. So I learned again that your internal desire not to so something will align in direct proportion with the ways you will be touched and impacted and changed.

8. Many slash most experts recommend blog posts not exceed 500 words. That means I may have just lost many of my readers back up there on an earlier number and so I should wrap things up here.

9. I need the “bible study” I am taking on simplicity.

10. And I am reminded again of my love of poetry which may help my prose in terms of brevity and word economies. Just saying.

11. People never really grow tired of being thanked properly.So…. Thank you for being here. You have a hundred and one things you could choose to do with you time. Thank you for choosing to be here.

12. If your husband invites you to go for a walk in the mountains, down a road that you’ve never been down because you are guests of friends at their mountain home which you have never been to, GO. When he says he wants to show you the rabbits he found on this road, he meant it. He means it. And you will have the beautiful opportunity to feed a rabbit the carrots you brought on the “rabbit” walk.

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Some Things I Learned In September

For several months I have been joining Emily over at Chatting At The Sky for her month’s end review. We look back, a big group of other writer/bloggers, Emily  and yours truly on some lessons, information or even observations we can claim as “new” in the last month.

This is fun, surprising and often very random. Here goes. Um, okay, what have I learned in the past month that I would like to “process” with you. It’s both my way of sharing and processing stuff my brain has stored and registered as intriguing, odd or well, random.

Thing one:

 1. It is hard to mess with a classic. I was perusing Pinterest the other day and nothing stands out more than an exquisite black and white photograph from the 1960’s of Jackie Kennedy Onassis.  In a sea of sameness, extreme oddness and wildly fashionable on trend photos, there she is. Well that is also how I see mascara. Odd segway I know but bear with me. If you have ever met me “in real life or IRL” as bloggers like to say, I wear a lot of mascara. And I have tried dozens of brands over the years. It is just really hard to beat the pink and green one. You know which one. The classic, iconic, pink and green “old school” one. So here I am back with the classic. It is kind of like macaroni and cheese. It is hard to beat a good staple, a classic. It is also hard to re-invent the wheel or beauty or the best way to get really black long lashes.

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Leave me a comment in the comment section if you have a mascara you like better than the “pink and green” one. (photo credit Jackie Kennedy Onassis: Wikipedia.org)

Thing two:

2. Two people can watch the same man for hours on television and have a serious debate over whether the man’s bald head contains a tattoo of hair or real hair braided into a pattern. I swear to goodness unless I google it or write a fan letter to Parade Magazine or The National Enquirer I may never learn the answer. Heck, its going to remain a mystery. Just in case you were wondering, I was the one who thought it was a tattoo. And yes this particular bald head is on “The Voice” on Monday nights. And I can’t keep up with what other nights it comes on, Are you ready for thing three. I thought so.

Thing three:

3. Never underestimate the power of observing things astutely. I am learning this lesson well. I feel it is branding itself into my soul. It is my joy to be approaching Week Five of a twelve week workshop I am participating in through Tweetspeak Poetry. This week we have been writing about and discussing the art of noticing. I am challenging myself to take it a step further as I try to hone my writing skills, particularly my poetry. So beginning October 1 I am joining The Nester for her 31 Days Of Series. I participated last year. You may remember. This year I am designing  a writing journey entitled 31 Days of Noticing. Oh I hope you will come too. I may notice if you lag behind. Please join me for some or all of this trip into the world of fine-tuning our awareness of the fine points of all that God-beauty that surrounds us. I am excited. (Did you notice I didn’t center the “button” for the series. Just a gentle switch up to see if you are alert and preparing yourself.

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Thing Four

4. Sweet and savory things combine forces to make the most delicious salads. Have I included a recipe every month I have participated in this link up at Emily’s. Okay here we go. This one is fabulous. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A bed of arugula,  topped with watermelon pieces, crumbled  goat cheese,  fresh jalapenos, sea salt, pepper, heirloom cherry tomatoes with a splash of olive oil and red wine vinegar. You will thank me.

Thing Five

5. I am a big repurposer. I don’t think that is a word but I am going with it. Recently I have found myself back in my car A LOT. If there was a double bold key, that would have gotten double bolded. I don’t think that is proper English either. Anyway, my car is now my thinking studio. And it is becoming my observation on the sky capsule. It is like a planetarium on wheels. You will see clouds and sunsets show up a lot in poetry this fall.  And it is where I study the crazy lyrics of songwriters and seek inspiration for my own songwriting. If you would like to review lists from the previous months, I have mentioned my dream of writing songs several times. Okay. I think if I come up with one phrase and repeat it three hundred times I will have a hit on my hands. Example, “you know you want it” and  “we’re up all night…..blah blah blah”.  Really?

Thing Six

6. I don’t think I ever learned how to conjugate stink, stank, stunk. Just saying. My husband brought home some beautiful flowers the other night. Yes, it was our anniversary. And yes, he does bring flowers home for non-occasions too.!!Ya’ll are just like me. You want to know all the details. (See, we’ll have fun during The Nester’s 31 Day series in October)He opened the plastic sleeve, presented them to me and placed them in a vase. And man did they stink. I mean they really stunk. The whole house was stunk up. It turns out there was something in the soil or in the root system, some chemical reaction which caused the stench. But after they sat in water for awhile, thankfully it slowly faded. I am only telling you in case your husband brings you flowers and they stink. You will thank me. Oh and make sure you thank him and ignore the odor.

7. October is going to be loaded. Like a little too loaded. I am a woman of wide margins, usually, normally typically. It is going to be a wild ride for this chic. I am learning to step out of my comfort zone. You might hear about it at the end of October when I post “Somethings I Learned in October.” That is if you are still around. The best way I know to describe October is when you go through the salad bar and put everything you like on one plate and it all runs together and looks a heck of a lot less appetizing than it would have separately. And it becomes a conglomeration. An amalgamation. And a blur of goodness. Well…..

And if you know how to conjugate stink stank stunk, leave it in the comment section.

Some Things I Learned In June

I am joining Emily Freeman over at Chatting At The Sky today as we join hands with our  lists, quirky, informative and random. We are over at her place sharing some things we learned during the month of June. Join me and others at Emily’s place for some humorous, informative, odd and fun list making.

Because I did not take copious notes during the month of June on what I was learning in June this will unravel in an organic sort of randomness, so hang on, stick with me, or go ahead and get out now while you still can.

And my personal favorite might be number 15 on this list, but I am not choosing a personal favorite because I don’t want to make the other random things I learned feel bad or inferior.

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1. Teaching moments are everywhere and they can be teased out of a telemarketing phone interaction between said telemarketer and an eighteen year old. And yes I pulled the  “he probably has a baby to buy formula for” card, so be nice. A parenting moment for which I might want  to request a do over is this one–” how to be a patient Christian young man to an unrelenting telemarketer.”  When an eighteen year old picks up the phone and the voice says “are you a senior who is prone to falling” and it is not a robo call and he told him three times he wasn’t interested. Well this is when you try to teach “we all have to make a living somehow, be nice”.

2. People don’t whisper in libraries any more. When I was a growing up child, this was imperative, non-negotiable. Just saying. Things change. Any volume is “whateves”.

3. Days are like fingerprints. No two are alike. How can so many combinations of days exist. They just keep switching it up on me. Life is not boring. Never. Or is that ever. Double negatives undo me.  And so do tired cliches. Wait aren’t all cliches tired.

4. The older you get the faster summer travels. There might be a mathematical equation which could be formulated for the time, age, travel, season combination/thingy. I was never good in math and I only know this experientially which is how I learn best. Time flies!  Or at least this summer gig is going by in a blaze of glory. I will let the physics brain trust figure that one out.

5. Just when you think you aren’t one to get star-crossed, you are proven wrong. I went over the moon this week when I received a text message from Rita Wilson, Editor at Large for Huffington Post 50. Man I was giddy. So I took a grainy instagram of the said text message. Maybe I don’t know myself that well after  all.

6. You can learn a lot about humanity and stray cats and the price of deodorant when you wait in a line at the Dollar General. And wait…and wait…..and wait. You almost decide you can do without all the essentials you thought you couldn’t live without.

7. Friends you make through blogging are for keeps. And try to explain that one to non-blogging types who don’t have blogging friends.Go ahead, I am waiting. Because I might need some tips on the splaining part. This is a new type of “eyes glaze over” look.

8. Fresh fried shark is delicious. I was a doubter. I am a new fan. It is okay if you find that gross. I get it. But if you need a recipe email me.

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9. Riding a bike is better than anything in the world. Well not really but it is awesome. Especially when your bike is turquoise with yellow flowers and it rattles when you pedal. I am a fan of just jumping on and going for little rides, a lot of little rides in a day. Cheap stress reliever.

10. Arugala may be the new Iceberg. Fifty might be the new thirty. Trader Joe’s coffee is my new fave and cheaper than my old fave. But I can’t say the name of the old fave because it might start something unpleasant. The internet is weird that way. I know. It happened to a friend of mine.

11. You can invite a published author to lunch and he will say  “yes that sounds wonderful” and that is a loose translation. But you get all giddy again. Giddy might be a new favorite word.

12. I am at the age where I am seeing a lot of facelifts. I might like faces unlifted.

13. A three man cheering squad is sometimes all the encouragement you need to submit your poem to Hufftington Post 50- 50 Poets project. Who can you encourage today?

14. A close up photo of a peach is really a new cool way of looking at an old favorite fruit. And you wonder if James got this close to his peach.

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15. I closed down the comments on my blog for awhile and now I am opening them up. I MISS THE INTERACTION OF COMMENTORS AND FRIENDS ON MY BLOG.  Typing  in all caps sounds like talking loudly when you want to make your point really boldly and straightforwardly. And you don’t want people to miss the point you are trying to make.