BLACK FRIDAY

Nope, we didn’t shop, nevertheless it started off early (4a.m.) for me.  Sleeping in a different bed is messing with my sleep some nights…then our Friday went from there to black, blue and better.

After morning coffee we all got in a fight cleaning the house. Only one bath was had because someone filled up the GIANT tub for themselves, leaving no hot water for the rest of us prior to company coming (smile). Did I mention, I invited “company” the day after Thanksgiving? This is the black part, in case you missed it. Who knew?

A house with children has a bit of ciaos associated with it. Not always bad ciaos, just not always orderly. When you add “company”, orderly becomes priority because you don’t want “company” to think you are a slob.  Actually, I love my daughter’s house and thought it looked great. If this is the worst Black Friday I ever encounter, I’m on easy street.

Holidays with family is occasionally … wonderful, disorderly, emotional, funny, and always sad to leave, even when it is time.

Our “company” was my long-time friend’s daughter who lives in the same town as my daughter. She is tall, smart, beautiful and newly a single mother. It has been a hard year for her, very hard (this is the blue part). I wanted to visit with her, love on her and let her and my daughter get better acquainted. She and her three children (ages 2 to 8) arrived at 10a.m., left after 1p.m. We got in a really good visit while making Play-Doh sculptures with the three youngest around the kitchen table.

play doh

Later after more ciaos control, football and supper we turned off the TV and played a new card game called, Beat The Parents. A Kids vs. Adults: Who knows each other best game. Since there are four adults and two kids (Nicholas is 4, so he just held the cards and floated back and forth between teams), sweet daughter volunteered to join the “Kids” team. After the instructions were finally understood, and teams were determined, we laughed and laughed and laughed and erased all tension of the morning’s house cleaning battle. It was really like a scene from a National Lampoon Movie.This is the better part and this, beloved, is the way to spend Black Friday.

God Bless us everyone

Is Anything Too Hard?

I walk into my early morning living room, quiet and cool. I curl up in my blanket and hold my warm coffee to my lips. I look over at the list beside me, I don’t really need to, I know it by heart. Today I can mark something off and add something new. Today, however, I look at my list with this question: Is there anything listed herein that I have the resources to accomplish, change or resolve? My answer is a resounding, NO! I don’t even have the ability to trust HIM to take care of them; it’s HIS Grace alone that gives me the capacity to trust.

HE clearly told me a few weeks ago to, “. . . lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees. . .” or, in my words, “Let go of all discouragement, lift your hands in praise to me, dust off your knees and get back in the race.”

So, I sat thinking of my limited abilities and HE reminded me of a poem that I love, one that spoke to me even as a little girl…it always gave me awe. It is in a poetry book of my mother’s, AND I saw it just the other day! I don’t read it much anymore, it is in very delicate condition – much read, touched often over the past 50 years. I quickly retrieved it and found what I needed:

Trees

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against earth’s sweet flowing brest;

A tree that looks at God all day

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

–Sergent Joyce Kilmer 1886 – 1918

“. . .Is anything too hard for the LORD?” No! Nothing!

(Hebrews 12:12 KJV and Genesis 18:14a NAS)

 

How I got to New York

Many years ago, when I started experiencing an “empty nest” I felt depression and gloom slipping in to my life.  I had four children and their friends constantly in our home and I loved the crowd, the laughter, tears, empty pantry. . .   This kind of change is extremely difficult… “Mother” was an identity I had had for many a year and was a painful transition.

Naturally, I could not halt the movement of the usual and proper progression of life.  As a Christian, instinctively I took this dilemma to my Lord for wisdom, comfort and direction.  He reminded me of all the things I said I wanted to do once I got my children raised and on their own.  I called it, “My Someday List”.  This was years before The Bucket List came out.

When I had the responsibility of children to raise, naturally, I had different financial, time and energy priorities. During this chapter of my life, when I would see something I wanted or wanted to do, I relegated it to the “someday” list in my head.

Now, let me be clear about the list. This list is ONLY for the really, really important stuff that needs to be seen, done, or experienced before this life ends.

I am aware that some folks don’t have an actual list….I do and I recommend one.

The top 10 items on my someday list are:

  1. Fall in love again
  2. Visit the Grand Canyon.
  3. Walk into the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans
  4. Tour Ireland with my sister   AND
  5. Learn to sail
  6. Visit NYC and Niagara Falls
  7. Write a book and get published
  8. Ride on a Hot Air Balloon
  9. Attend my granddaughter’s wedding
  10. Meet all my great-grandchildren

We can find plenty of excuses to not do some of the things we want to do or we can allow other people and their “someday stuff” to take precedence, if we are not careful. I made my list, I wrote it down, I didn’t let anyone take precedence and I laid it down before God and let Him cause it to happen.

I’m writing this to encourage you to kick out the excuses because I started learning to sail several years ago! I purchased a 16′ Hobie Cat and took it out on the beautiful Barnett Reservoir with a friend and an instructor. My heart hasn’t smiled like that in a long, long time.

I have fallen in love again, I have written a book, I have been to Ireland, I have been to the Grand Canyon – twice! I have been to NYC (twice), Niagara falls and Saratoga and Buffalo and Lake George. I even got a bonus of seeing Wicked on Broadway.

My friends, make a someday list and do something on it soon! Please don’t put it off any longer! You never know, you might not have as many “somedays” as you think.

For me, life is NOT a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming WAA-HOO, What a Ride!

As I have said (many times), “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but the moments that take our breath away.”

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Travel Envy

Naturally, we have met people along our path … hair dressers, doctors, fellow travelers, Pastors, neighbors (near our base-site this summer), friends/family we have visited (at their request), etc.  They are all shocked and envious that after we both became part of a professional reduction in force, we sold our home, put everything we wanted to keep in storage, loaded up our minivan and hit the road with a tentative plan and a few invitations to visit along the way.  Most people say, “Wow, I wish I could do that, but…____________!” or “I want to buy a pop-up trailer and do what you are doing, but…___________.”   Also I’m asked, “How do you handle living so temporally, out of a suitcase, without a plan?”   This is not a trek for everyone and it is perfectly fine if it would not be within your comfort zone.

I freely admit that I am learning a lot (in general and about myself) living outside the “house-box”.  It is not something I am always comfortable with and I know it is temporary, so I’m learning to lean into it intentionally.  Perhaps I can take this skill into the “house-box” when we again set down roots, make a nest.  I have always liked order and living with a plan, to keep a daily to-do list and check them off as completed by the end of the day.  Flexibility to obstacles of the daily-living-plan was essential and is not easy for me.   I saw a sign in the home of friends we visited in September that has become my daily refrain, “Life is all about how you handle Plan B“.

Living inside the “house-box” isn’t always easy either, but much more familiar to me than living in a minivan and a suit case.  Sometime we choose familiar over the “unknown” even when we are miserable.

Professionally my husband and I were not happy, but it was safe and familiar.  I was in a marriage for almost 30 years, the last several years were miserable, but I stayed because it was what I knew, it was familiar, I hoped I could fix it.  For me, for now, living in the unfamiliar without a carved-in-rock plan is a good thing, a very good thing… PLUS I get to see some really cool places for my “trouble”.

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Onward and Upward

Interstate 95 between Richmond and DC will almost cure the wanderlust in the most lustful of travelers.  Baton Rouge at rush hour is the closest I have encountered to the frustration of this traffic, even that pales in comparison to this part of our trek.  All of you Snowbirds who travel annually from the northern part of the right coast to the warmer regions of our lovely nation in January know exactly what I’m talking about…all the rest of you just take my word for it and bow your heads in collective gratitude.  OMGosh, how do people live like this on a daily basis?

Logistics:  Sweet husband loves music, all kinds of music, so having XM in our minivan calms his savage breast in these situations, one can even listen to SEC football on XM if one so desires (eyes roll).  For me, my little MP3 player with my connection to Audible (Amazon.com’s audio book website) satisfies my mind in these situations.  May I add, I have had some disappointing books this year.  Even John Grisholm is getting preachy (I think his wealth has made him guilty and guilt will make you liberal, among other things).  Bad company corrupts good morals.  I digress..

Now for the picture part of my story:  Our goal is to spend the Fourth of July with friends in Albany, NY, arriving on July 3rd leaving on July 6th.

Itinerary and Logistics:  (1)  The National Museum of Art in Washington DC.  (2)  As much as is possible in one-full-day in Philadelphia, PA with rest in a nice motel at the end of each very full day.  AAA gives you better rates in motels.  Never travel without AAA or a service similar to this.  PLUS our discovery (after this short part of our trip):  Groupon.com and/or LivingSocial.com!  So far we have experienced really good, clean and well located motels/hotels at very reasonable prices, with breakfast + tax.

National Museum of Art in Washington DC. This is the entrance we used due to parking issues.  These odd mirror/glass monoliths are beautiful lighted waterfalls in the lower level restaurant/gift shops.   This is the only picture of DC we got...all other pictures are of the incredible art collection.

National Museum of Art in Washington DC.
This is the entrance we used due to parking issues. These odd mirror/glass monoliths are beautiful lighted waterfalls in the lower level restaurant/gift shops.
This is the only picture of DC we got…all other pictures are of the incredible art collection.

Washington DC is one of the most impressive cities you will ever visit.  The architecture is diverse and spectacular.  I have been three times since I was twenty.  Parking is an issue, so pick the areas you want to visit in a day, parking near that area.  Wear good shoes.  Plan for at least 5 days on your first visit.  You will find (short list):

  • The Smithsonian Institution
  • The National Botanical Garden
  • Monuments and Memorials galore (STUNNING!)
  • The Capitol Building
  • The White House
  • The National Archives
  • The Library of Congress
  • The Supreme Court
  • Arlington National Cemetery

PHILADELPHIA, PA

Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell

Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Absolutely the most impressive art museum building we have seen to date... and we have seen many. These are the steps Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) ran up and down in his training.

Philadelphia Museum of Art. Absolutely the most impressive art museum building we have seen to date… and we have seen many.
These are the steps Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) ran up and down in his training.

Rocky Balboa statue in bronze on the grounds

Rocky Balboa statue in bronze on the grounds

This is the room in old downtown Philadelphia where delegates from all 13 colonies came to ratify the Declaration of Independence on July 2, 1776.   The chair in the center is the actual chair occupied by General George Washington during these proceedings.

This is the room in old downtown Philadelphia where delegates from all 13 colonies came to ratify the Declaration of Independence on July 2, 1776.
The chair in the center is the actual chair occupied by General George Washington during these proceedings.  We actually toured this facility on July 2, 2014.

One of the original, signed copies on display in Philadelphia

One of the original, signed copies on display in Philadelphia

We saw some beautiful art in DC and in Philadelphia.  To pick one to designate as my favorite would be impossible.  However being a Mississippi girl my heart is greatly warmed by the beauty of Magnolia.  This painting is so perfect one could almost enjpy the fragrance.

We saw some beautiful art in DC and in Philadelphia. To pick one to designate as my favorite would be impossible. However being a Mississippi girl my heart is greatly warmed by the beauty of Magnolia. This painting is so perfect one could almost enjoy the fragrance.

All Up And Down The East Coast – And Then Some

Going strong since May.

Living in and out of our minivan and suit cases isn’t bad, it is just different.  We are learning what is necessary and what is not.  We are learning to pack and how much time we can spend on the road per day.  We are learning to live just for today and not think about what we are doing next week or next month … AND everywhere we go we are being present, in that place and that present time.  That is a totally different mindset from the professional, goal oriented lifestyle we lived in the past 40+ years.

Recently, on our way back south, we stopped at our storage facility and left several unnecessary items.   Today’s post will begin the summary of where have we been, where are we going, what have we learned and how we take care of the logistics:

Logistics:

We have a post office box.  A family member picks it up weekly, throws away all junk mail, opens, scans and emails the rest to us.  If there is the rare check, she deposits it for us.  Many bills and bank statements can be switched to, “paperless”.

We opened a bank account that has nationwide branches – not everywhere, but almost.  If we need cash and there is no ATM connected to our bank in our location, we go to a grocery store or Walmart, buy something w/our debit card and get, “Cash Back”.  We moved all our prescriptions to a nationwide pharmacy.  Doctor’s are easy to find and get in to see.

Where we have been:

We sold our house in May, moved out and closed (via email and FedEx) in June.  We took our sweet dog to live with sweet daughter in Louisiana.  Sweet dog is old and no longer tolerates hours in a car.  From there we went to a missionary conference in Pensacola and visited long-time friends/family on the Alabama and Mississippi gulf coast.  That and packing up our house took care of May.

The Blue Angels during practice in Pensacola.  A wonderful lunch-time treat

The Blue Angels during practice in Pensacola. A wonderful lunch-time treat

Next we spent a week in a cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with two other couples, of whom we have shared close friendship with for years.

Black Bear Sighting in Cades Cove

Black Bear Sighting in Cades Cove

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From Tennessee we traveled the 6+ hours to long-time friends in the Richmond, VA area.  We stayed for three weeks.  There was finally Golf for sweet husband.  We visited Williamsburg twice, Mount Vernon, DC and the historical areas of Richmond.  This is the cradle of our Democracy, the American Revolution and the War between the States.  Williamsburg and Mt. Vernon have many excellent actors who make our Nation’s early history come alive.

Mt. Vernon, overlooking the Potomac.   George Washington slept here :)

Mt. Vernon, overlooking the Potomac. George Washington slept here 🙂

On the grounds of Mt. Vernon.  George Washington sleeps here.  The State of Virginia made a monument at the Capitol Building for his casket, but the family wouldn't allow him to be moved.

On the grounds of Mt. Vernon. George Washington sleeps here. The State of Virginia made a monument at the Capitol Building for his casket, but the family wouldn’t allow him to be moved.

Monument at the state capitol in Richmond.  Note the casket box under the horse

Monument at the state capitol in Richmond. Note the casket box under the horse

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Above the reading of the declaration of Independence at Williamsburg.  Declaring a thing is a very powerful activity.

St. John's Church in Richmond where Patrick Henry gave his famous speech, "Give me liberty, or give me death..."

St. John’s Church in Richmond where Patrick Henry gave his famous speech, “Give me liberty, or give me death…”

Next post will cover DC, Pennsylvania and New York and …