Sunday, March 31, 2013

Decisions, Decisions...

I stand on a precipice. I am at the point, in a good book, where part of me is enjoying the view from where I stand now. The strong winds of the story pull me in different directions and the tall sea grasses whisper secrets, promising to reveal more than I could imagine. Even the water below seems hushed in reverent silence, telling me to slow down, to hesitate, and be patient.

The other part of me longs to run and dive off the edge. I want to feel the exhilarating fear of the fall, to hold my breath and plunge myself into the deep water of the resolution I know will come. I want to feel the whole story wash over me in sweet relief and delight in finally knowing all the secrets and having my anticipation satisfied.

I must admit, I revel in the indecision. For once one path is chosen, there can be no turning back. I must choose to put away the story for awhile and ponder the possibilities, allowing the characters to play out plausible resolutions in my mind, or...I must commit to the dive and finish the story, leaving no more room for possibilities, and find out the final fate of my characters.

Is it any wonder why I find reading so much more interesting than television and movies?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Life Lessons

Someday I will tell you the story of how I learned, at a young age, one of the most important lessons of my life: always tell those you love how you feel about them and what they mean to you. Since learning that lesson, I have found a variety of ways to tell people what they mean to me. It's sometimes easier for me to write down what I feel than to say it aloud. I've been known to write notes or letters and, sometimes, I write a poem or a short story for someone I love. Once, I wrote a short essay, and I'd like to share it with you.

In 2005, I was finishing my second year of community college and was applying to a university for an academic scholarship. My application had to include an essay about someone who had an influence in my life. When the university representative called me to say I had been awarded the scholarship, she told me how much the committee loved my essay. I thought to myself that it wasn't the essay they loved, it was her - the person I wrote about. After all, to know her is to love her...

Labels, and Boxes, and Stats...Oh My!

     The labels don't fit: soccer mom, non-traditional student, middle-aged woman. These boxes, these categories, these statistics that society tries to put me in, just don't fit. They may describe me, but they do not define who I am. As a child, I learned that I needed to define my world, not let my world define me. I was taught this important life lesson by an instructor who used unconditional love and acceptance as her guide. That instructor was my neighbor, Bobbie Cox.
     I always knew that Bobbie wasn't like other adults. In a child's world, most adults are viewed as people who take life seriously, stress responsibility, and make you obey the rules. Bobbie's definition of adulthood included these things, but in a different way. She was a happily married woman with one child, who was ten years older than me. Bobbie did all the "normal" things adults do, such as working and taking care of a home, but it did not define who she was.
     When Bobbie was not doing what was expected of her, she was quite busy doing the unexpected. Her greatest joy was volunteering her time to make others laugh. She entertained the young, the elderly, the handicapped, and the sick. She was a storyteller, clown, political satirist, singer, songwriter, poet, and artist. She had an endless supply of outrageous and witty costumes she kept in a trunk at her house. It was in that trunk, and at her home, that I could runaway and find myself.
     Growing up at my house wasn't easy, but my escape to another world was simply a matter of crossing the street. In Bobbie's "magic trunk" I could be whoever I wanted to be and, in her eyes, I was always one thing: beautiful. Through weight problems, bad hair cuts, glasses, and puberty, Bobbie told me I was beautiful. There was no criticism at her house, no blame, and no hurt. There was only acceptance and understanding. No matter what stage of life I was in, Bobbie was always there to tell me she was proud of me.
     My mentor continues to refuse to let the world define her. At more than eighty years of age, she still entertains in her spare time. Bobbie was widowed some years ago and, though she struggled with loneliness, she filled her time with more service to others. At present, she is a loving caregiver for her only child who is in a serious battle with cancer. No matter what life brings her, Bobbie's smile has never dimmed. Her unstoppable spirit amazes me.
     Distance has not diminished our relationship or her influence. Bobbie sends me letters to encourage me in my life's journey. She never fails to tell me how proud she is of me and my family. Although she is not one who likes to get compliments, there is one kind she receives with a knowing grin. I honor her wonderful influence in my life when I say, "The labels don't fit."

Bobbie passed away last week at the age of ninety. Kay, the daughter she was caring for when I originally wrote the essay, ended up losing her long battle with cancer a few years ago. I am glad that while they were on this earth, I told them what they meant to me. I told them both about the essay after I found out I was awarded the scholarship. I thanked them both for allowing me to be a part of their family and for always loving me.

I do not mean for this post to be sad, Bobbie would never hear of it! She filled the world with laughter every chance she got, and it is the only way I think of her. In fact, I can't think of her without a smile playing across my face. What a wonderful legacy to leave behind! 

I do hope, though, that it gives you pause. I hope it makes you think of someone you love and makes you want to call them or write them and tell them what they mean to you. I also hope it makes you stop and ask yourself what kind of influence you are on the children around you. One adult can make such a difference in the life of a child. Bobbie's influence in my life is proof of that.

Farewell, Bobbie, and thank you again for leaving us all with a joke, a song, a smile, and a jig...

Monday, March 25, 2013

City of Too Many Details?

I get it. I finally get it! I now understand what it is to skim through long, detailed descriptions that are unnecessary to move a good story along. This hasn't always been a clear lesson to me. In fact, when my book club discusses books, I am the one who falls on the side of enjoying all the detailed writing. Defender of the Details, that's me! I'm a Henry James fan, for goodness sakes! How could I possibly want to skim text and not read every word? Is that even possible for me?

Well, it is now.

If you'll remember, I was reading Daniel Hecht's City of Masks during my spring break. It's a really good mystery and spooky enough to make me jump at noises in my house. I am not normally a fan of the paranormal genre, but I really liked this ghost story, and - really - it's so much more than that. It's about the terrible secrets families keep and the lies they tell each other...and themselves. I enjoyed the suspense and the thrills, liked the characters in the book and loved the setting.

What I didn't like? All the details that described every little piece of every little thing. The suspense would be building, I was ready to find out what happened next and, suddenly, I would be lost in a forest of words describing the character's scenic drive through a neighborhood in New Orleans. I felt...frustrated...and, about the time I hit my third forest, I began to skim past the descriptions. 

Are you shocked? I was.

While I read the book on my Kindle Fire, I noted that the paperback version has 464 pages. Trust me, I could have saved some trees and made it a shorter book without losing anything valuable from the story. It wasn't that the descriptions were bad, they were spot-on, just...unnecessary.

But wait.

That's not exactly fair,...and it isn't the whole truth. 

What the author was describing in all those forests?  Details about the city of New Orleans. He was trying to capture the essence of what it's like, and he did an excellent job. If I had never been to New Orleans, I may have needed those descriptions to understand the many worlds that collide there to help build a movie in my head. Because I have been to New Orleans, I understood exactly what he was saying and didn't need him to interpret a place I already knew. Perhaps another reader, who has never been there, would have appreciated those detailed descriptions.

I did notice, at the end of the book, the author thanked all the good people of New Orleans who helped him out and welcomed him to their city. He was specific in some of his gratitude. It would seem he was treated quite well by the city during his stay there, so I began to wonder if he was also trying to write a travelogue...or, perhaps, he was just so enamored by the city that seduces so many, he just couldn't say enough about it. 

Details aside, I enjoyed the story enough to purchase the next book in the series. I won't read it right away, I have others waiting impatiently that were in line first, but I know I want to read it. I also want to test myself. I checked the setting out for the second book, and I've never been there - so, I'll see if I feel the same way about the descriptions. My own little experiment, so to speak. 

You know I don't like to commit to a series, but this series is the kind I can live with because there's really no commitment. The next book isn't a continuation of the first story. All the same main characters are there, but each book is different.  It's the kind where the main character goes on another adventure, another ghost hunt...

You know, like Scooby Doo. ;)

I should note that my friend, Jane, said the book seemed to be set up like a television series - the intro, the adventure, the truth revealed, the wrap-up, even the light-hearted banter at the end. I hadn't thought of it that way until she said it, but she's right. Makes me wonder...

Could Hecht have written the series with television in mind?
 Jinkies! Now, that would make me run screaming into the night!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Just call me "Maw Maw"...

Me and my daughter
My husband, Tom, and I just found out we're going to be grandparents for the first time! We are thrilled and overjoyed and excited for our daughter and her husband...and for us!!! This doesn't mean my blog will become a "grandparent" blog, but...I reserve the right to post an entire page of pictures when the bundle of joy arrives! ;)

Because words mean so much to me, what I will be called as a grandparent also means a great deal to me. It's important. Tom and I want to be "Paw Paw and Maw Maw." It's what our girls called Tom's parents, and we've always known it was what we wanted to be called when that wonderful time arrived in our lives. Believe it or not, we've discussed it many times. As you should know by now, I take words (which includes names) very seriously. To me, everything you say has meaning.

Where we come from, every grandparent has a different name. When they were little, our three girls had Mamaw (my grandmother), Grandmomma (my mom), Mimi (my stepmother), Granny (Tom's grandmother), and Maw Maw (Tom's mom). Our girls didn't have as many living grandfathers as grandmothers, but we also had different names for each of them. There was never any confusion over who was who, and you didn't have to add a first or last name for our girls to know who we were going to visit.

Now, if you're wondering how we can be Paw Paw and Maw Maw when Tom's parents are also called that, I should tell you that Tom's dad passed away a few years ago. For Tom, it is a way to honor his dad's memory to be called Paw Paw. For me, I'll be sharing Maw Maw with Tom's mom,...and I presented this dilemma to our pregnant daughter who assured me it would not be a problem because of distance.

You see, when our girls were little, all the grandparents lived close to us. Our girls saw all of them quite frequently. When we moved to Texas some years ago, we left all of our extended family back in North Carolina. The only grandparents that live close to my daughter and her husband, and will see the child on a regular basis, are his parents and us.

Besides all that, I like being called the same name as Tom's mom for a good reason. She's always been the one who marches to the beat of her own drum. She and I have always had that in common. It's something I've always liked about her...and myself. In my book, Maw Maw means "different" and I like different.

All that being said, you can imagine how offended I was last night when I went into a gift shop and couldn't find a charm that said "Maw Maw." They had Nana, Nene, Grandma, Grandmother, Gigi, G-ma, Mamaw, Memaw, and Mimi,...but I wasn't looking for any of those. I decided to look up the term on the internet and found this blog. If you have the time, it's worth the read and will make you laugh a bit. If you're Southern, you'll get it. If you're not, you'll get an education.

I like a good challenge, you know, where you take the best of something old and make it better...and redefine what people think about it. It is time to redefine the South's definition of Maw Maw. It actually IS possible to be a loving grandmother who knows how to enjoy her own life without neglecting her family. I've always told people, "Don't try to put a label on me because just when you think you've got me figured out, I'll surprise you." Well, I will wear the "Maw Maw" label proudly, but I'll redefine what it means on a daily basis. (This is going to be fun!)

By the way, I was singing "I'm bringing Maw Maw back" to a Justin Timberlake tune last night...'cause that's how I roll! ;-)

Our son-in-law and daughter announce they're expecting a baby!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bits and Pieces of my Mind

And Sarah realized, in that moment, she couldn't hold on to that part of her heart any longer. It was like a hand trying to hold on to the white, cotton string of a balloon - a beautiful, bright balloon that bobs and weaves with the wind, longing to be free of her grasp. "That's what I've been doing, isn't it?" she whispered to no one there, "I've been holding on to something I shouldn't have. " She looked at her closed hand and imagined the hope and the hurt, she'd carried in her heart for so long, was sitting in the palm of her hand.

She could just...let it go. Yes, it would be painful - goodbyes always are - but she could do it. Sarah closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. She sighed to herself and whispered one last farewell to a fairy tale that would never come true. She opened her eyes and looked down at her closed fist, willing her fingers open to symbolize the opening of her heart - not to let something in, but to let something go. Sarah stood there for a moment with her palm held open, unsure of what to do next.

She realized she'd finally made a decision to move on,...and it hadn't killed her. Funny, she thought it would have.

Sarah walked away from that place and never returned. There were times her mind would try to take her there, but her heart refused to go. On days when she struggled (because, despite our best efforts, we all struggle sometimes to leave things in the past), she kept the image of that beautiful, bright balloon in her mind. The thought that she had set that part of her heart free to play in the wind and weave among the clouds eased her thoughts and calmed the ache in her chest. It made her smile to herself, and it let her know she was going to be all right.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Words, Words, Words!

I love to taste delicious words, don't you? I love learning new words, saying them out loud to feel the power of the words. Words are powerful, you know! Words have built countries and kingdoms,...and they have torn them down. Never underestimate the power of the right words spoken at the right time!

OK, so, what's up with me and 'word love' today, eh? Well, we played with thesauruses in my classroom today, and my students inspired me with their choices. You see, they had to come up with words to describe themselves,...but I told them that I didn't want just any old words, I wanted fabulous words - words that would be hard to resist. You know, the kind you just HAVE to say out loud and see how they taste!

We studied Dunbar's "We Wear the Mask" poem, and they are having to make two masks. One mask uses words that describe the "mask" they show to the world (how other people see them). The other mask uses words that describes who they really are on the inside - how they see themselves. We discussed how Dunbar's powerful poem would not have packed such a punch without powerful words like "human guile" and "vile" and "myriad subtleties."

My sixth graders did not disappoint me in their choice of words and, even better, they really had a good time with it! They couldn't believe some of the words they found and how much more wonderful those words were than the "basic" words (the words they usually use that really have very little flavor in them - mad, sad, happy, funny, lazy). They decided it was fun to dump the plain, old, tasteless words and choose some with a little more pizazz! :-D

Here are just a few examples of what they found and used:

lazy: slothful, languorous, lackadaisical

talkative: babblative, loquacious, multiloquious, loose-lipped

funny: jokester, quipster, zany

kind: amiable, gracious, cordial

shy: demure, timid, bashful, coy

brave: dauntless, greathearted, plucky, valiant

The word play today was really amusing, and the students' exuberance over their masks was a splendiferous wonder to behold!

(Yep, I love words...) ;)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


That's right, folks! I am in the middle of my spring break and enjoying it immensely! No, I didn't travel to some far away place or some remote tropical island (wouldn't that be nice?). I decided to stay home this week and catch up on some reading...and some house cleaning!

My reading choices have been scattered so far. In other words, I feel like I've sat down to a smorgasbord of tasty things and don't know which delicious morsel to try first. I don't usually like to read more than one book at a time, but I've found my brain needs a little something extra with extra time on my hands.

I am currently reading City of Masks by Daniel Hecht, which is my book club's book choice for this month. I'm enjoying it so far. It's a little different from my normal reads (which, in my opinion, is what book club is for - to try something you don't usually try on your own), but it's a good sign that I'm carrying the story in my head with me. In other words, I don't forget about it the minute I close the book, and I look forward to picking it up and continuing the story during spring cleaning breaks.

I'm also reading, in bits and pieces, a beautiful "coffee table" book about Vincent Van Gogh. The book itself is a work of art, filled with his beautiful paintings and letters written between him and others, mostly his brother, Theo. I know Vincent's life did not end happily, and he didn't know a great deal of joy in his life. I find it interesting that a man who was so tortured was able to paint art that gives me such joy and fills me with a sense of peace.

I am also indulging myself in a little mental vacation with...(let's see, what IS the "nice" term for this particular genre)...easy reading. You know, a book that doesn't take a lot of thought, but has...ummmm...nice scenery, if you know what I mean. If you don't know what I mean, well,...then you don't need to. (As I've said before, I'm no book snob. I'll read just about least once.)

While I know the whole world isn't on a break this week, I do hope everyone's week is going well! I hope you're all reading and doing something you enjoy!

No, this isn't the kind of scenery I was talking about for my "easy read,"
but...sure, we'll go with that.  ;)
Happy Spring Break! 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Little Book, Big Impact

I just finished reading The Sport of the Gods, a short fiction novel by Paul Laurence Dunbar. A friend of mine told me about it and shared her copy of the book with me. She told me it didn't take long to read, and it was very good. She was right.

The book was originally published in 1902 and tells the story of an African-American family living in the South and working as servants. Their lives are better than most of the people of their race during the time period after emancipation. All is well until the husband is falsely accused of stealing by a man he has served faithfully for thirty years. The story tells what happens to the family as a result of "the crime." It is well-written and powerful. Very powerful.

While I did not know about this novel before now, I was already a fan of Dunbar's poetry (Maya Angelou credits Dunbar's poetry as being one of her influences). I was introduced to a poem by Dunbar when I was in my first year of college. My literature professor gave us the poem without the title and without the author. We were given a blue book (notebook paper in a testing booklet) to write our own interpretation of the poem. Once we all gave our interpretation, our professor then told us about who wrote it and when it was written.

The poem had such an impact on me that I include it with my poetry lessons to my own students. I teach it in the same way it was taught to me. I allow the students to interpret it on their own before putting it in a time period and revealing the author. I also have the students make masks using character trait words to describe, in writing, what they show to the outside world on the outside of the mask and write words on the inside of the mask to describe how they really see themselves.

It's a good lesson...for us all.

We Wear the Mask 

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes, -
The debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
and mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
     We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
     We wear the mask!

~ Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872 - 1906)

Saturday, March 9, 2013


"I hoped you liked them, Reader; that they did for you what any good story should do -- make you forget the real stuff weighing on your mind for a little while and take you away to a place you've never been. It's the most amiable sort of magic I know." 

~ Stephen King

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Make Me Laugh!

If you don't know David Sedaris, you should. He is my remedy for anything that ails me. His books are collections of stories from his own life experiences, and this man can make his worst situations sound hilarious! Sedaris was raised in North Carolina and, I must admit, I find much of his humor strikes my own Carolina funny bone when he describes (SO perfectly) what it is like to have grown up in that area.

While I have not read all of his books, I have read quite a few. I started off with Me Talk Pretty One Day, which I passed around to several friends, here in Texas, who found it as funny as I did. Once I read (and re-read) that one, I was hooked. I have since read Naked, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, and When You Are Engulfed In Flames. I have yet to be disappointed in any of his books.

Sedaris has a sharp wit and a hilarious take on life in general. His stories range from describing bizarre situations that arise in adulthood (like when someone mistakenly showed up to clean his home thinking he had ordered a "dirty maid" service) to pointing out the humor and oddities of growing up in a family (you know, the quirks, the jerks, the denials, the dysfunction, and...the meaningful moments).

Now, if you are faint of heart and/or a staunch fundamentalist (a.k.a. Easily Offended), you may not appreciate some of his humor, though I surely wish you did. I grew up in the "Bible Belt," and I know (and, in some cases, are related to) some of those who are faint of heart and/or staunch fundamentalist, so I am an expert on such matters. On the other hand, if you like hearing someone tell the truths we often try to avoid, cover up, or pretend aren't there, you'll love Sedaris! He tells it like it really is and, as Mark Twain always said, "Truth is stranger than fiction..."

David Sedaris really is a great writer, and I love to hear him read his own stuff (and, yes, he's aware his voice is a little higher pitched than most men). If you'd like to try him out before buying a book, here's a link you might be interested in:

Well, I have to go now. It's been a long week at my job, and I have one more day to go. I just want to kick back and forget all about the papers sitting in my bag that need to be graded. Tonight, I'm going to curl up under my favorite blanket with David because I need a man who can make me laugh!

(Go on, now. Go find something to read that makes you laugh! We all need that, you know...)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

How Young Are You?

Sandra Cisneros is a great author, and I wanted to share a wonderful passage from a short story she wrote. The story is narrated by an eleven-year-old girl, but its meaning goes deep. While I realize we aren't all eleven, Cisneros does a beautiful job of describing what it's like to have so many different ages "rattling pennies in a tin Band-Aid box."

     "What they don't understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you're eleven, you're also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven, but you don't. You open your eyes and everything's just like yesterday, only it's today. And you don't feel eleven at all. You feel like you're still ten. And you are--underneath the year that makes you eleven.
     Like some days you might say something stupid, and that's the part of you that's still ten. Or maybe some days you might need to sit on your mama's lap because you're scared, and that's the part of you that's five. And maybe one day when you're all grown up maybe you will need to cry like if you're three, and that's okay. That's what I tell Mama when she's sad and needs to cry. Maybe she's feeling three.
     Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one. That's how being eleven years old is." 

~ Sandra Cisneros, "Eleven"

Monday, March 4, 2013

"Killing Me Softly"

"...[someone] says that the art of reading is slowly dying, that it's an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside of us, that when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind, and great readers are becoming more and more scarce by the day."

~ Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind

I finished reading The Shadow of the Wind early yesterday and have been rolling words and phrases around in my head trying to figure out how to blog about this book I have come to love. Does that mean you'll love it? Well, that depends. I learned long ago that what suits one reader does not always suit another. I decided that the quote above says a great deal about what I am going to try to say about this book and the kind of readers who will like it, but I'll get to that in a minute.

First, I'd like to say that I read some other people's reviews of The Shadow of the Wind. I've also viewed a few book trailers (none of which I would recommend), and I even watched one person's video blog review. The guy who did it seemed a bit too...well,....too pompous (to be honest) for my taste. His review made the book seem too complicated. (He reminded me of what it's like when you get too many high school English teachers in one room to discuss Shakespeare.) Zafon's book has fabulous twists and turns, but it isn't that complicated...if you're a "great reader."

Now, about the quote. Please read the quote above again. Ask yourself, "Am I a great reader?" Be honest. Is reading an intimate ritual for you? What do you carry inside of you? Do you read with all your heart and mind? Please don't act like it is a silly question because I have found that it isn't. You may read well, you may have a high vocabulary, you may read at the speed of sound, and retain everything your eyes see,...but that doesn't make you a "great reader" by the inferred definition in the quote. Think about it.

Keeping all this in mind, I offer you this as an honest review:

If you are a great reader this book will delight you, ensnare you, piss you off, make you melancholy, frustrate you, and satisfy you. It will reveal truths to your mind that your heart already knew. It will remind you of what is good in this world...and what is horrible. You will find a great mystery to be solved, and you will find a story inside a story. It is about all the things you wish for, but are afraid to believe in (but, truth be told, you do believe and are afraid to find out it doesn't exist at all). It will give your busy mind something to figure out and give your soul something it desperately needs. Trust me on this.

If you read my previous blog, where I decided to stop and take a break from the book, you know that something I carry inside of me was touched very deeply by things I read in this book. There seemed to be too many coincidences to things I have experienced in my own life. Not on a literal level, but on a figurative one. At the point I decided to stop and take a break, I turned to the back of the book and wrote myself a note:

Either Fate continues to play a cruel joke on me, or I have fallen victim to a spell cast with borrowed words,...and it causes my heart to ache and my soul to rage...

As I sat there looking at my own words, and feeling a bit surreal, my memory grasped for the lyrics from a song that spoke of a stranger who sang about a woman's life. I remembered the lyrics and the melody to "Killing Me Softly," and I realized just how personal the story felt to me. It had nothing to do with the setting or the actual characters. It had everything to do with what is at the heart of the book,...and what is at the heart of all our lives when we choose to look deep enough.

When I decided to pick the book up again to finish, you can imagine my surprise when I found these words much later on in the book:

"Julian once wrote that coincidences are the scars of fate. There are no coincidences, Daniel. We are puppets of our own subconscious desires."


Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Room of My Own

I have always valued the different stages of my life, and you can mark them by Saturday mornings...

When my oldest daughter was a baby, I loved Saturday mornings when nothing was rushed. I could spend as much time as I wanted holding her, nuzzling her neck, and singing to her. With each daughter that came after her, it only added to the sweet time on Saturday mornings. It meant holding a baby and having unforgettable conversations with little ones about everything from Cinderella to possible pet options for our home.

When all my children were past the baby stage, there was no sweeter sound than hearing them wake up in the mornings, usually whispering to each other or shuffling their feet down the hallway. There was nothing more precious than having them crawl into our bed to have cuddle time (and, sometimes, tickle time) before getting up to start our day. I can still remember how much I loved to kiss their cheeks in the mornings, and I always told them, "Morning sugar is always the best!"

As time passed, and the girls grew up, Saturday mornings became a cross between all of us desperately wanting a day off to sleep late and someone always having somewhere they had to be. Of course, that meant I needed to be there, too. We went through our Saturdays of birthday parties, play dates, gymnastics, sports tournaments, a variety of competitions, babysitting gigs and the like. Those were the busy years.

I should note that I raised my girls with a certain...philosophy. I believe to be mentally healthy we all need one day a week when we can stay in our pajamas until noon. Now, that doesn't mean you must stay in them, but you should always have one day a week where it's an option. During the "busy years," we all longed for those days off. We enjoyed all the things we did, but we missed our relax time together, and - of course - the older my daughters got, the harder it was to have us all together.

The next stage was when everyone began liking boys, dating, getting driver's licenses, and going to college. Saturday mornings, back then, were punctuated with loud music booming from three different bedrooms. Of course, I didn't mind,...since they got the 'loud music gene' from me. I just preferred when they agreed upon their "getting ready" music instead of those occasions when it felt like 'battle of the bands'! Those years, while filled with more music - and more worry, weren't quite as busy for me. The girls were becoming independent, and I took great joy in seeing them become who they were meant to be. I had no real worries about my daughters through this stage. At this time, I had never met a boyfriend I couldn't run off. ;)

Now, my daughters are all grown up (19, 22, and soon-to-be 25). All my girls are different and, while they certainly aren't perfect, I love them for who they are. While I may not always agree with them, I respect them and their opinions. While I do tell them, they have no idea how much I love them and value them as people. How could they? They haven't yet reached the stage in their lives of being parents themselves.

Today, on this Saturday morning, you can tell my life has reached a another stage. I am sitting in a room of my own, something I didn't know I always wanted. My oldest daughter designed it for me, and my husband made it come true. Everything I ever wanted in a library/sitting room is here for my pleasure.

I am sitting on a beautiful, red couch with a hot cup of coffee, a favorite book, and my laptop. I have candles burning...just because I love the way they look. My favorite blanket keeps me warm on this chilly morning. It's a beautiful day outside, and the sun's beams through the windows are beginning to warm the room. I look through the front window to see the water fountain flowing with just a little frosting on its edges. I survey my new room, and it makes me smile and gives me peace. The house is quiet, and my room invites me to read.

Life is good.

"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." ~ Virginia Woolf

(OK, Virginia, I have the first two, just give me a little time on the third. I'll get there...)

Friday, March 1, 2013

"There is a stubbornness about me that can never bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me."
 ~ Jane Austen

(Jane and I have more in common than I thought.)