Sunday, September 9, 2012

Flight 93 Memorial

Quite by accident we ended up at the Flight 93 Memorial on Saturday of this Labor Day weekend. For various reasons, we had not taken a ride on the motorcycle since the beginning of July and we were really looking forward to going on a long ride. The weather was not looking good but of the three days in the holiday weekend, Saturday held the most promise. And it appeared that heading northwest from Frederick, MD was the best bet.
I mentioned that I'd read The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough, and that I knew there was a Johnstown Flood National Park there that might be interesting to check out, so we headed west in that direction. Once we reached Rt. 219, we headed north towards Johnstown and that's when we saw a sign that said "Flight 93 Memorial Highway." We checked the map and saw that if we headed east on Rt. 30 it would take us to the Flight 93 Memorial.
As we entered the town of Shanksville, Pa we started seeing a lot of other motorcycles turning into the Flight 93 National Memorial - which is maintained by the National Park Service. The drive leading up to the park is a couple of miles long. As you survey the area it dawns on you just how far away from the road this place is. It's incredibly remote and must have been difficult for responders to even reach this place.
Coincidentally, all the other motorcycles were part of the "Brothers for Flight 93 Memorial Ride" that rode from Philadelphia to Shanksville that day. There must have been fifty other bikes. When you walk up to the entrance you are greeted by a sign that reminds visitors of the somber nature of the memorial and to act accordingly. And there are exhibits by the Visitors Shelter that tell the story of Flight 93.
Some distance away from the Visitors Shelter, on the other side of the parking lot was a cordoned off section called "1st Amendment Zone" where there was a lone gentleman with a table and signs that said, "9-11 Was an Inside Job." Presumably he had literature to pass out along those lines. I was glad that they had made a space for him away from the actual memorial.
After we walked around and read the signs, we walked up the beautiful granite walled Memorial Plaza. It was so quiet even with so many people there. Every few feet, there were little ledges cut into the black granite where people had left mementos and notes to honor those killed there. After the first few feet, I found myself reaching out for John's hand. And off to the left in the middle of the field was a mound of grass backed by a grove of hemlock trees. In the front of the mound were several small American flags. I was struck just by the simplicity of it. That was it. There at that mound was the center of the crash - where at 10:03 a.m. on September 11, 2001, a plane crashed at 563 m.p.h. killing all 44 people (including 4 hijackers) aboard. We stood there just looking out and holding hands. I noticed alot of people doing the same. There was a need to hold on to another life while taking all this in.
Crash site, pictures of the victims, mementos left at Memorial
At the end of the Memorial Plaza is a beautiful white marble wall. The wall is set up in the same direction as the flight path. Etched into the marble are the names of those 40 passengers that died that day. The brochure says that 13 cell phones made 37 calls in the moments after the plane was hijacked. I wonder how many of those calls were placed for those passengers that didn't have phones. During the 35 minutes between takeover and crash, these brave men and women made a decision that would take their lives and save countless others. At the end of the marble wall there are openings that give you a direct view of the mound in the field from the exact direction of the flight. It is chilling.
I immediately saw names of the three men that led the counter-attack.
As we walked back up the Memorial Plaza, we took a moment to look at some of the mementos left on the granite wall. One note, paperclipped to a small American flag, read, "You are all heroes. Thank you for your courage. You fought for all of us." And another person left a guitar pick. Before we got back on the bike to take the long winding path back to the main road, we took one last look back at that hill of dirt in the field. We didn't plan to go there, but I'm so glad we did. I think about the families that lost so much back then and I remember picking up my daughter from her 1st grade class that day. I didn't want her to hear about this from anyone but me. So young, so innocent, I wanted to hold her in my arms and keep her safe. Amazing, it seemed like only yesterday, but she started her senior year of high school just last week.
 As we turned back on to the main road, the skies opened and we rode home in the rain. We spent the next three hours soaked to the bone as we rode through the storms, but it just didn't seem appropriate to complain.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Senior Year Starts in Two Days

This last 18 months has been pretty amazing. The baby and I have taken many trips, including college tours to University of SC, University of FL, University of NC, FSU, College of Charleston and University of N. Florida. We took some other fantastic trips and spent great times with friends and family. I have even found myself in a wonderful new relationship with an awesome man that my friends and family all like. He and I spent the last week on the shores of Ocean Isle Beach, NC with some of his friends, while the baby stayed behind for football practice. As we drove home yesterday, it dawned on me that this is it. Senior year starts on Tuesday and there's no turning back.

I posted a note on Facebook that says, "These kids grow up hella fast," in an effort to tone down my real feelings. It seems so cliche to ask, "Where did the time go?" but that is what I'm thinking. Seems like these last couple of years that we've been talking about colleges and SAT's and what she wants to be when she grows up and getting a driver's license, I have just passed through in a daze. I really haven't spent a lot of time thinking about her finally growing up and moving on. We get along so well, and I know that no matter where she goes, she'll never completely be gone, but we're in for a lot of changes. It seems like these last couple of years, she's been the one hugging me and wiping my tears rather than the other way around.

On Tuesday, she'll start her last year of school and in no time, we'll be shopping for prom dresses. How does a mom go from this:

First day of school Sept. 2000

First day of school Sept. 2000

To this: 

Maddie on the left with new friend, Aug. 2012
and keep her sanity? 

It's so bittersweet to watch her excitement for all the possibilities her life has to offer. She's been such a joy and is rarely unhappy. Tonight, two days before school, she is off with two friends to work on a summer assignment. The world, so to speak, is her oyster and while I'm thrilled for her, I can still remember when she was afraid to spend the night away from me. As she chomps at the bit to embark on her life as an adult, I know that all the efforts to protect her and shape her can sometimes mean nothing if this world wants to get hold of her. I pray that all the hours of pleading with God to guide my parenting and to teach me what I need to teach her have been enough. She has never belonged to me - she is His - I just pray that I've lived up to God's expectations. 

My dearest friend, my niece who is 2 years younger than me, became a grandmother for the first time yesterday. I know that in those hours that she stood by her daughter's side that she was completely overcome in the same way that I am today. Her oldest child, only seven years older than mine, is a beautiful wife and now mother of her own precious daughter. The world continues to turn, our family grows, and we give all the glory to God. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bathroom makeover

Our little beach house has one bathroom. That's right - one. bathroom. And there's a teenage girl living here! The entire first floor of our house is painted in a khaki color by Benjamin Moore - Berkshire Beige, which works well with the tan and smokey blue accents in the living and dining room. The color was a bit dark though for the bathrom, and when I changed the shower curtain and towels to a pretty aqua color, it still seemed too dark. Additionally, as the towel bars were loose and kept threatening to pull out of the wall, I decided it was time to make a change. I enlisted the help of my favorite handyman who pointed out that it might not be as easy as I hoped!

Bathroom - before with towel rod, old color and some
paint color testing on the wall.

It's hard to see from the picture, but the towel bar is attached to a piece of chair molding that was hung at some point in the last thirty years. My handyman mentioned that the chair molding was probably put there because the wall was unable to hold the towel bar - and that was because the studs were not the proper distance from each other. He also was concerned about what we would find behind the molding since it appeared to be glued on and not nailed. At this point our goal was simply to remove the chair rail, paint the bathroom and then hang a shelf that I had purchased that would have towel hooks on it. This would take away the need to have a towel bar.

Here's what was behind the chair rail. 

After removing the chair rail and discovering that it covered holes made by past towel bars, we had to come up with another plan. We talked about bead board, but the bathroom has very little air circulation and can get extremely humid. This can cause normal wooden beadboard to warp or buckle. Handyman didn't want to use that. So as he checked out options, I was still checking out paint. I really liked a Benjamin Moore color - Pismo Dunes, which you can see in the center of the three test colors, but it was just as dark as what was already there. I settled for a color in between the two right test colors, also Benjamin Moore - Hot Spings Stone, with their "Super White" trim.

After - with new paint, paneling and shelf with towel hooks.

We decided to cover the bottom half of the wall with a composite beadboard and trim. This glued on, and then he used a few nails for security in the studded areas. He had to do this the day we left for vacation since he needed to brace it for over 24 hours to make sure the glue held. With only one bathroom, this needed to be done the morning we left town! He used caulk to cover the nail heads and they're almost invisible. The lighter paint color helped to give a little bit larger appearance of a very small bathroom. The shelf had to be placed a bit higher so that it didn't sit right on top of the wainscoting but the towel hooks are not too high since there are no small kids here. In keeping with my "beachy" decorating, I also love the towel hooks and think they add alot to the cottage-y feel.

Distressed shelf with towel hooks.

I purchased this shelf over a year ago - it was a colonial mustard color and had four wooden pegs instead of metal hooks. I followed instructions I found on Pretty Handy Girl's blog called "How to Age, Antique and Distress," that I had pinned to my "Projects" board on Pinterest months ago. I painted the shelf two coats of an aqua color - Peace River by Ace. I bought the 4.75 oz. tester and it was enough. Then I used the super white and painted two coats of that. Following the instructions from Pretty Handy Girl - we used the handheld power sander to make the paint look aged and worn. You can't see it well but the aqua shows through beautifully. Then, again following the instructions, we painted on a little oak stain and wiped it off immediately, to give the wood an aged look. I love the way it turned out - don't you? 

Here's a few more views of my bathroom makeover. What do you think?

Other than the paint change and the starfish-shaped dish
of seashells, this side stayed the same.

I added the large conch shell, the lantern and a few other
items to the top of the shelf.

"Near the sea, we forget to count the days."
By the way, I found the shower curtain on a sale endcap at Target about two years ago and have never seen it since! This gives my bathroom a one of a kind look! They didn't even have towels to match it, I had to get them at Macy's.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sewing Pillow Covers

I want to state outright that this is a post about making pillow covers. There may be moments while you read this that you will think, "Wait, wasn't this a DIY post?" and you'll be right to be confused because lately my mind wanders - alot. And by alot, I mean way more than my usual unfocused, ADD self.

To start, I will admit sheer embarrassment at how quickly and easily I finished these two pillow covers for the spare bedroom makeover. For all the time and energy I put into putting it off, I could have made a dozen or more of these things. But my mind doesn't work in a logical, linear fashion. If you know me, you are probably laughing at the understatement of that comment. My train of thought is something like this: Birthday, Daughter, Missing my mom, graduation cards, Words with Friends, Pictures, Sewing pillow covers. Got it.

Coral chevron pillow
Friday afternoon I decided that Sunday would be the day I made the pillow covers. I had previously found a great blog post which gave easy instructions for a no-pattern, envelope-style pillow cover that could be removed for washing. I'm linking you to a blog called Setting for Four in case you want the instructions. Saturday was out because we were planning to celebrate my BFF Betsy's birthday with a cookout, just us girls. So I dug out the sewing machine and washed all the gunk off it from sitting idle in storage for the last 3-4 years and put it in the back room where I would be using it.

Betsy's gifts

My green-eyed girls 
 Birthday girl!

I wake up this morning - somewhat excited about my project and I promptly start sabotaging the day. The girl is going off for the day to work on a school project with friends and stop by a graduation party. For no reason whatsoever, my fear of her growing up kicks in and I start harping on her about always being on the go. Poor thing - she has done very well for having a mentally ill mother. And I don't know why my fears always come out in a lecture. Fortunately, she's used to me! She leaves and I feel bad and give myself a lecture. Then I leave to get coffee and stop by the Gypsy Vintage sale, where I discover the aged wooden shutters I like are still there after two months and I purchase three of them for the headboard project in the spare room. Did you know that a full size bed is 54 inches wide? And the shutters were 18 inches wide each. Score - I got all 3 for $75. The man in my life says he can make these into a headboard. Yea him!

Shutters to make headboard

I come home after buying graduation cards. Really, we know like eight people who are graduating. Am I obligated to put money in these cards? Or can I do it only for the ones who are related to me?

Okay, we're cooking now. I measure, I iron, I cut, I pin. I sit down at the sewing machine, that I bought at Sears in about 1990, that is in fine condition for the kind of sewing I will ever do and I get a little sad. I start thinking of my mom, who died in 2003, and how she taught me to sew when I was a little girl. She made some of my clothes and I even have a couple of years of school pictures wearing clothes that she made me, like the faux-leather jumper from the 60's.

The home made leather jumper!
I don't know what grade that is, but it's unfortunate that she didn't put the same amount of effort into my hair that she did to the dress. I really look like a dork in that picture. But don't we all have at least one of those? Anyway, Agnes Russell Stedman, I thank you for teaching me to sew because now I have these awesome pillow covers for the spare bedroom. And because I love this material so much, I think I may buy some more and make roman shades for the windows in that room, but I have to think on that.

Love this material

Finished pillow

Envelope-style back

Clearly what turned out to be about a two hour sewing job took hours on an emotional roller coaster to complete. What do you think of my pillows? Here's a look at the material for the next project.

Next project!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Guest Bedroom Makeover

My beach house has a fairly typical layout for the cape cod style beach houses that were built in the 1940's and 50's. Most of them have a staircase that leads to a second floor that originally was wide open. Families would put several twin beds up there and the kids and their friends would take that floor. Over time walls were put up and perhaps a closet. Ours was no different. While there are technically two bedrooms on the second floor, neither of them have a door. You reach the top of the steps and go left or right. Many years ago, when I had the rooms painted, we decided to paint them both in Disney colors so that Maddie could use one side for her bedroom and the other for a playroom.

About four years ago, at thirteen, she felt the need to paint her side a little more sophisticated and chose a pale grey with black trim. We decided recently to repaint both sides and brighten it up some. We did her room first and she is using a pale teal or aqua as an accent color. The room is a light sand color, Behr Paint "Oyster" and the trim is a pale cream, almost white. It's very nice but I'm not allowed to post any photos of it.

The other room had become a place for storage over the last several years and still had the Disney paint - a pale green called Tinkerbell and a lavendar that I can't remember the name of. Last year we had a hurricane and needed to evacuate. Although my brother and his wife have no children living with them, they have two spare bedrooms and welcomed us to stay with them for a few days. After we returned home, I vowed to redo that spare room so that if ever we had friends in need, they would have a comfortable room to come to. 

Making changes to the house has been so much easier of late. The man in my life is extremely handy and seems to never tire of doing things for me around the house. In the beginning of our relationship he heard me lamenting that I had very little storage space and took it upon himself to lay plywood in the attic space so that I could store things under the eaves. It is amazing how much space that created. I have all the Christmas stuff on one side with room to spare and have barely begun to start putting things on the other side. Maddie and I put a coat of primer on the walls in her room and he took over from there, completing her room. And this last weekend I helped while he did the bulk of the spare room. There is still a bit to do in there, so I'm not going to reveal the room yet, but I will give you a taste of what it looked like before we got started and in a couple of weeks will have the room complete for posting photos.

 I'll give you a little hint about what's going to be in the new room. The bed that you see with the taupe and cream seashell quilt will be part of the room. And this beautiful, aged, salmon dresser will be in the room too. I'm so excited - working on throw pillows for the bed and a few other touches. Stay tuned!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day #17

Before my daughter put gas in her car today, I asked her to make note of how many miles were on the trip odometer. 262. In just over a week, the car has gone 262 miles. Couple that with perhaps another 250 miles that she has driven my car without me in it, and she's driven a little over 500 miles on her own. When she gets ready to leave where ever she has gone, she calls me and says she's on her way home. Each time that phone rings and I see her number, for a moment I panic that I might pick up the phone and hear her sobbing on the other end, "Mommy?"

In the last year, since she first got her learner's permit and then her full license, I have come to realize that the only way a mother survives the years of raising her children is to completely live in denial. Denial that every time you turn away someone might snatch them. Denial that every time they walk out the door, it might be the last time you see them. And we must be tough. Tough when they do something foolish and have to face the consequences. Tough when they are hurt and you can't let them see how terrified you are about that deep cut or that finger that is bent in an odd position.

Being a mother has required so much more of me than I initially thought. It's certainly not for cowards, although we come across our fair share of them. The ones who care more about being their child's friend than their parent. The ones who do science projects for them. The ones who refuse to believe that their child could do something wrong.

Recently, I saw the movie Soul Surfer about Bethany Hamilton, the teenaged surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack. When I came home I asked Maddie, "How could you say that's one of your favorite movies? That was terrible!" And I told her, "If I stopped to think about the things that could happen to you every time you walk out that door, you'd never go anywhere!" I was actually sobbing about watching this family go through this terrible event. And my sweet daughter hugged me and assured me that she wasn't going to be eaten by a shark. I suspect she was mocking me, but I was grateful for the hug.

On Sunday, I will enjoy my 17th Mother's Day. In spite of the dangers that lurk behind every single corner, I honestly wouldn't change one moment of it. Being a mom has been the most joyful and rewarding "job" I've ever had. Being a mom has made me a better person. And most importantly, I have spent 17 years being the mother of a fantastic and smart and funny and beautiful girl. I have been blessed by God beyond my wildest imagination.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

I have a soft spot for people who have had less than wonderful experiences with the Christian church. I've been involved in a couple of different churches that, in my humble opinion, were rigid and unforgiving in their orthodoxy or adherence to their own dogma. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not speaking of adherence to the Bible. I'm referring to their set of rules that are, how shall we say, "extra-biblical." In a meeting with the leaders of my last church, it was suggested that I had issues with "submission," to which I responded that I was not against submitting to Christ and the Word of God, but that I would not ever submit to authority which was not biblical. For this, and other defiances, my membership in that particular church was revoked. The letter spoke of the spirit of reconciliation which in their language translated to my confessing my sin and submitting to whatever punishment they would administer, which I suspect would have included some public admission of my divisive behavior. With that in mind, on Easter morning, I give you my favorite story from the Bible, that of the Apostle Thomas.

"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
 24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
   But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” ~ John 20:20-29

I have had dozens of opportunities to share this story with friends on their path to belief, or rededication of their belief. The religion of my childhood, which was followed by a long period of disinterest in religion, was one of few answers. Obedience to the Mass was understood; it just was. It seemed as if everyone involved in my Catholic upbringing didn't have answers to any of my questions. In fairness, however, I wasn't exactly thorough in my seeking. I sort of just drifted away. Over my early adult years, I had no interest in the church although I considered myself a believer. And finally, the thing that led me back to the Lord was becoming a parent - something I suspect is behind many people's return to their faith. 

This time, however, I began seeking in the Protestant community and learned through my first church to test the scriptures and take an active part in my spiritual growth rather than just sitting passively to one person's preaching. It was during this time that I heard the story of Thomas and he became my hero. All of my life and in conversations with others, one of the most confusing things was this idea that one does not question God. Yet, here at the end of John's Gospel, is a story not only of the questions and doubts of one of Jesus' disciples, but of a Savior who lovingly invites this disciple to test for himself that He has in fact returned in the flesh. Even writing this, I am overcome with emotion as I read (for the hundredth time) how Jesus tenderly approaches Thomas and says, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

And I can picture Thomas, so very, very ashamed, weeping as he simply says, "My Lord and my God." I imagine him clinging to Jesus as that moment and sobbing, "I am so sorry to have doubted." But Jesus isn't angry or upset. He probably hugs Thomas as he cries and says, "It's okay, it's okay." 

Oh, how I remember the moments as my belief became stronger and stronger. And how I was ashamed to have not only doubted but to have not even recognized the many obvious signs that my Lord and my God was right there, all along just waiting for me to pay Him the slightest attention. When I think back on the time that I was truly lost and alone, I imagine him just watching me stumble and wander. I think about my own child and how painful it would be to watch her make mistakes and hurtful choices knowing that I could not make her see that I was right there for her until she OPENED her eyes. It would have been like watching a blind person in a maze - wanting to reach out and help but knowing that they had to do this on their own. 

My message on this Easter morning to anyone who has any questions - God is big enough to handle any questions, any anger, any doubt you can possibly throw His way. And His arms are open for you to step in when you are ready. And He LIVES! When I turned to Him, I truly had no where else to go and I was so afraid. What if this was the last possibility and it did not work? I did not cross that line easily or willingly - but He has never held that against me. Not for a second. And this life is infinitely better than anything I had even dared to dream of.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Problems vs. Challenges

I've always admired those people who never see problems - only challenges. As I've thought and prayed about and mainly tried to ignore my word for the year, discipline, I've realized that I have an attitude problem. Stop laughing - I am generally the last to know when it comes to reading myself. I don't think I'm unique in this cycle of setting goals, dragging my feet, disappointing myself, then dragging my feet about starting the whole process over again.

As an example, I'll talk about my lack of discipline when it comes to exercise. A few years ago, I lost about 25 pounds and worked out diligently and got in probably the best shape I've been in since I got pregnant over 17 years ago. I felt great, I was energetic, and I looked forward to getting outside or to the gym. I was diligent and disciplined for about nine months, and then I went on vacation. My best friend and my daughter and I went to Florida in May and went out to dinner and enjoyed dessert every night. I had packed my walking shoes and planned to walk on the beach daily. I think I did it twice. When we returned home, I never got back into my workout routine and within two years I'd put all the weight back on and developed back and neck issues which only drained my desire to get moving.

I am not unique in this. It happens to many people. We find out how great we feel when we exercise and eat right, yet we find it so difficult to maintain that discipline. For me, I think a lot of the issue is self-talk. I'll go to bed thinking I'm going to get up early and walk or go to the gym, but when the alarm goes off my first thoughts are negative. If I can talk myself out of doing what's right, why can't I talk myself into it? In spite of choosing discipline as my word of the year, I've really not done much to embrace a more disciplined lifestyle. I can spend hours thinking about whether it makes more sense to go to the gym early and then come home and shower and dress for work or to take my clothes with me and shower there. There's the problem of having a lock and packing all the things you need. Or, if I come home after, will I get distracted by things that need to be done around here rather than get myself to the office. Sometimes it doesn't help to be the boss. It makes it too easy for a person without discipline to go in at 10:30!

Last night I set the alarm for 6:00 a.m. I lept out of bed around 7:00 and then drank coffee and checked the internet. Finally, I packed a bag and left the house. I decided to drop off everything I wouldn't need at the gym at the office first so that I wouldn't lose everything if someone broke into my car in the gym parking lot (which has happened to others). I waltzed into the gym at 9:20 and was showered and dressed for work by 10:30. Alright, so I need to improve on that, but I got it done! On the way home this evening, I asked my daughter if she wanted me to take her to school tomorrow. She has to be there by 7:15, so I've committed to getting to the gym a little earlier tomorrow.

It's only taken me two months from my resolution to actually get there. Next goal: Actually wanting to go!

Sunday, January 29, 2012


I made some progress today in my quest to become more disciplined. First, I made two lists of things I want to accomplish: One entitled "Discipline" lists the things I want to be sure to do every day. The second is a "Home Projects List" which contains the things I'd like to accomplish around the beach house this year.

The teenager that lives here had a most pathetic weekend - having nothing else to do, she hung out with me yesterday. We went to the grocery store and then out for dinner. Today she graciously completed all the chores I gave her while we both rocked around the house listening to our separate ITunes! And that included doing the two chores I hate the most vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom. She helps me out alot.

I made a new recipe Slow Cooker Cuban Chicken - a recipe I got from a new magazine from Better Homes and Garden's "Skinny Slow Cooker"Magazine.

While this was cooking, I took a walk down past the beach to the marina. There was no one there, just the sound of the water against the few boats still in the water. On my list this morning, I listed 30 minutes of exercise. It was a nice walk and I took a few minutes to sit on the dock and just reflect.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Some Crazy Juju

In the "about me" section of this blog, it mentions that I have an estranged relationship with the church but not with God. So, recently I made a comment on the Facebook page of a Christian author that I've come to respect and enjoy and we've even exchanged some emails. After a few other people commented, I was invited to join this group of people who feel that they've been involved in churches that are spiritually abusive, and some of them personally sent me friend requests. While it took me about 7 years to get kicked out of my church, I lasted in this group for less than a week. In fact, I think I made less than five comments during my tenure with the group. I'm feeling a lot better now. Turns out, I'm a couple years past the anger and sadness, but they've chosen to make a cottage industry out of it. They welcomed me by telling me that I didn't have to worry about judgment or condemnation here like I had found in the church and that I was among friends. This is the kiss of death it turns out. I did not have to worry about judgment or condemnation as long as I was willing to listen to their near constant judgment and condemnation of the church - and certain high-profile pastors and their followers. Life is too short and God is too good, I can't live there anymore. I wish them all the best. Amen.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


So I've picked my word for the year: Discipline. Discipline has a few definitions but for my use the word will be defined as follows:

  • training that molds or perfects the mental faculties 
  • self-control gained by orderly patterns of behavior

It is no surprise to those that know me. I am not disciplined. I have a hard time with schedules. I own my own business and I homeschooled my child for seven years, and I believe those choices, in large part, were due to my lack of discipline and that I don't play well with authority. My poor kid - it's a wonder she's survived. On any given day, she is the most mature person in the house.

That's it. I've picked my word of the year. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go cry.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Word of the Year

There are several blog pages that I subscribe to on Facebook. One that I love is Kevin and Layla Palmer’s, The Lettered Cottage. They have such beautiful and creative decorating ideas and I enjoy Layla’s blog posts. Recently, she posted an inspiring piece called This Little Word of Mine Link Party in which she invites other bloggers to link their posts about their “word of the year” selections.
The idea for a word of the year comes from Ali Edwards at She writes, “Choosing a word each year came about as an alternative to a list of resolutions. I wanted something I could hold close and actually develop a relationship with over the course of the year.”
I’ve been thinking about this and what word I could choose. I think it’s such a lovely idea – rather than a list of resolutions – to have a word to keep in your mind, or your pocket, to inspire you to press forward. I made a list of words and I’ve whittled it down to ten words. I will get it down to one, but I need to think about each of these and what it is I hope to achieve this year.  Many words came to mind that I didn’t choose: travel, joy, family, adventure, curious, because I want to introduce something new, perhaps work towards something that is more difficult for me.
Perhaps by writing a bit about each of the ten words, I’ll be able to choose just one as my word for the year.
Attitude:  The front-runner. I thought about this earlier this morning and then had a discussion about attitude with my neighbor when we went out for coffee. We talked about how much easier the day goes when we look at our responsibilities as choices. Instead of groaning and wanting to roll over and go back to sleep in the morning, can I adopt an attitude of excitement about my day?
Commitment: An easy one to put on the list - but perhaps not to choose. Probably the only thing I’ve consciously committed to is parenthood. Wouldn’t trade it for the world. I find myself preferring to look at everything else with a “one day at a time” view. Is that wrong? Maybe a deeper sense of commitment in everything I do might push me to the next level.
Deeper: As in commitment and learning and sense of urgency. I've created a pretty great life for  my little family.  Is this the year to go deeper in learning, decorating, marketing, photography, writing?
Discipline: Maybe a word that makes me cringe should be my word of the year. Discipline sounds a lot like commitment! When I think of discipline, I think of schedules, and then the room starts to spin.
Energy: I’m a low energy person a large percentage of the time. I think that’s something I can change – through intentionality.  Regular exercise and healthy eating are keys to producing more energy. 
Focus: I suppose this one could do double duty with my photography and my difficulty staying on task. If ADD had existed when I was a child, I think they might have wanted to put me on some type of medication. Instead I just got in trouble for being disruptive…some things never change.
Improve: Progress not perfection. As I write this I’ve already decided this will not be it. God has seen fit to effect some change for the better in me every year that I’ve followed Him. It almost seems a bit lazy to pick this one!
Less: As in downsize. Reduce. Let go. Can I do that? Can I continue what I started last year? This would be an interesting task – to weed out what I don’t need or can do without and implement some system of organization? Hmmm, this may be it!
Purposeful: Instead of accomplishing what must be accomplished, could I do it with purpose? Do I attack my tasks and chores with a sense of doing them well or is the goal simply to complete. In addition, what about relationships – can I do a better job of loving and listening with purpose?
Write: Get serious and write. Quit screwing around with opinions and debates and write on both blogs – the personal and the business. Write with attitude. Commit to writing. Go deeper – be willing to expose vulnerabilities in my writing. Write with discipline – insert the dreaded word “schedule” here! Write with energy – looking forward, not waiting for the deadline. Oh, you get the idea – focus on improving my writing, making less excuses and writing with a purpose!
How about if I pray about this? Stay tuned – I’ll reveal my choice tomorrow…or the next day!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Day at the Beach by Botanicus - Product Review

Several years ago, while poking around the shops at the Corolla Lighthouse in the Outer Banks, I picked up and smelled a candle that instantly brought back wonderful beach memories of my childhood. The candle was called "A Day at the Beach" by Botanicus. That day I purchased a set of three travel candles and a room spray. Over the last couple of years, I've acquired a diffuser and another large candle and I absolutely love them.

Those of you that know me well know that I have a philosophy about creating the life you want. Without going into the long history  - which resulted in owning my own business and homeschooling my daughter for seven years - that philosophy is one of the foundational blocks of My Beach House. Creating the life you desire requires lots of clumsy missteps, but even small details are important. As inconsequential as a scent might seem, walking into My Beach House and being greeted with the fragrance of summers' past signals to me that I am home. Inside my house, as I create the home that I desire, this scent is an important part of the whole.

Botanicus describes "A Day at the Beach" this way:

  • "The name says it all.
  • HISTORY: We have created a wonderful fragrance from our favorite beach scents- suntan oil, ocean air, tropical flowers, a touch of vanilla.
  • AROMA: Pikake, plumeria aroma with orange blossom, ocean and soft vanilla, amber notes."

What stands out the most for me is more than a hint of the "Coppertone Tanning Lotion" of my childhood - when the choices were Coppertone or burn! It reminds me of sandy floors, dinner on a screened porch, wet bathing suits and towels hanging on the line. Summer vacations were a time when we stayed up late and caught fireflies, and spent whole days with my father and mother together. I think it's the right scent for creating that summer vacation feeling all year round. I have diffusers in two rooms of the house and candles all around. When I feel like the house needs a little extra - I spray the room fragrance. It's in every room of My Beach House but one. I still have the travel votives that I originally bought in Corolla. One sits next to my computer in my office. And one is always packed in my travel toiletries bag. I take it with me wherever I go and immediately unpack it to remind me of the beach and of home.

Check it out sometime: A Day at the Beach. And let me know what summer memories it brings back for you.