Just like that

I moved two days before the 8th grade started so for the longest time I didn't have the lifelong friends that everyone else seemed to have--the "we've known each other since 4K" kind of thing. So it wasn't until I moved to Atlanta, keeping in touch and living with/near college and a handful of high school friends did I finally have that history with people. And after living in the close quarters of a dorm room and sorority house and 12 girls in 3 adjacent apartments; I felt like we had done a lot of living with each other.
AND I LOVE THESE GIRLS! They mean so much to me! So when I married and moved to Charleston, I wondered if I would ever have people that I felt that comfortable around. Besides, I was no longer living right next door--I met people but the amount of time I was able to spend with them was much less than the kind of free time you have in college or those single, working years. Naturally, I worried that I was now 5 hours away from the only close friends I would ever have. I remember after moving, praying for just one good friend.
(Fast forward 5 years)
Saturday night some friends gathered together in celebration. As usual, I came home with an empty stomach and sore jaw. I must have said "Good to see you, I really need to go" about 15 times before getting sucked back into another conversation that was just to good to leave. So on my way home, I had this energy (not the nervous kind that usually resonates through my body) but of gratitude and excitement. Because one friend and I got to talking about how much these other families meant to us and how over the years we've all shared in joy and tragedy with equal support. And the energy I had sprang from the good conversation--not of gossip or competition--but of support and encouragement and enthusiasm over each other's families and jobs and faith. And I felt that at the root of every conversation was the heart of Jesus. And after all this time here, I realized that good friends don't drop from the sky to your doorstep but are a result of work and experience. I hadn't even realized I was doing it but for 5 years, my faith has been nurtured in such a way that I have surrounded myself with people that build me up and give good advice and as Bert said the other day "keep us accountable."
5 years ago on the way to a pilates class at a new gym in a new town, I said I would be happy if I could make one good friend. And after that class, one girl invited me to a small group. And this morning we left the gym together again laughing over the events of this past weekend. And just like that, I had done some living with a new set of people who I love. 

* Of all ironies, I found this on the web today. Think I'll add it to my reading list.


Knoxville Bucket List

 Loulie's preschool goes by the Charleston County school district schedule. So when I last minute noticed that she had Friday and Monday off school for winter break, we decided to head to Knoxville to see my parents. 
Loulie' class has been talking a lot about the season of winter and everything that comes with it. (unless you live in Charleston where it stays 68 or above) So she somehow got it in her head that there was snow on the mountains in Knoxville. So for the three days before we left, she kept going on and on about how she was going to see her snowman and ride a horse on the mountains in Knoxville,TN. Where she came up with this I have no idea, but she was sticking to it!
So it was too perfect when 20 minutes after pulling into my parents driveway, it started snowing! Now to two people who have barely had reason to wear a coat this winter, the snow was pretty exciting. My dad immediately disappeared and a few minutes later Loulie's snowman was sitting outside the kitchen window and stayed there for two more days.
She even fit in her horse ride and climbed the "mountain" (my parents' driveway) a few hundred times. So all in all it was well worth the rainy six hour drive to enjoy some real winter weather, movies and books by the fire, fun time with my parents and lots of loving on this sweet girl...


Week Three Inspired by

"Speak from that place in your heart where you are most yourself. Speak directly, simply, lovingly, gently and without any apologies. Tell us what you see and want us to see; tell us what you hear and want us to hear...Trust your own heart. The words will come. There is nothing to fear."
                                                             -from Henri Nouwen's Life of the Beloved


Week Two Inspired by

" I could discern clearly, even at an early age, the essential difference between people who are kind to dogs and people who really love them."
- Frances P. Cobbe

"His ears were often the first thing to catch my tears."
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I have been thinking a lot about dogs lately, how they are not just pets but part of our family. I know there are people out there who think that people who refer to their pets as part of the family are ridiculous. But in continuing my weekly inspired by quote, I couldn't narrow it down to one or the other. Because my family and my life would have been completely different without the presence of a few very special animals, who were not just animals but members of our family.
Loyal, comforting, happy, joyful companions that added so much to what it meant to grow up in our home.
A friend told me recently that she loved that after having a baby I still treat Bridget like a child and not a dog as so many people claim they return to after having children. (Granted she is no longer the sole attention getter and takes a few less walks around the block). But I thought, of course! How could I not continue to treat Bridget like part of the family. She is the only one who never disappoints, never talks back, never hurts my feelings and lays with her head buried under my arm anytime I need need comfort or a listening ear. We celebrated her 5th birthday this week! 5 years of her never leaving my side and always showing me unconditional love. Teaching me how to be a mother during times when I thought she may be the only child I would have. So yes, we celebrated...

And then we took off to Knoxville to see my parents and Sulli. Sulli isn't doing very well after just turning 13. It is extremely difficult to see her not feeling well but a blessing that we have gotten to come scratch her head and spend some time. Because there was not a time I came home from college that her cold black nose wasn't the first first thing I saw next to my bed in the morning. And I wanted to wake up to it at least a few more times. 
Because whether ridiculous or not, I am the latter. I am one who really loves them!


Who has more fun?

It should be noted that a head full of dark hair does not guarantee that you will wake up looking like Rachel McAdams, Sofia Vergara or Ann Curry! I learned this the hard way. No, Nice and Easy #114 has not transformed the way I look but it did save me about $60 in having to go get highlights. 
Only noted change--Bert told me yesterday that I was acting super serious. I blame the dark hair!


Week One Inspired


             "Ends and beginnings-there are no such things. Only middles."      -Robert Frost

The other day Jillian Michaels posted on facebook "they say the first 12 days of your new year determine how the rest of your year will play out." This got me all kinds of worked up. Because I wouldn't say anything life altering has happened, certainly nothing compared to the first two weeks of 2011. But I haven't exercised as much as I wanted, Christmas storage boxes are still stacked in my dining room and Bert had a pretty stressful week leaving us feeling unsettled and stagnant. So Jillian's comment got me a little nervous. I was hashing all this out with my mom today--discussing how the date of January 1st is a time to inspire and begin anew but it doesn't necessarily mean that baggage from the past doesn't just disappear. That if all the unfortunate happenings of this week occurred on random days in say April, we would think nothing of it. It's just the fresh, clean calendar pages have us jumpy and constantly testing the waters of this new year. So Frost's words couldn't be more perfect for me during this first week of 2012. We're in the middle, therefore each day is an opportunity to begin anew--fresh and inspired.

Picture found here