Change Happens

Books are a uniquely portable magic.
– Stephen King

My last post was over a year ago. I celebrated my mother, who taught me my love of reading and my quest for lifelong learning. She showed me what love and compassion look like. She set the example for perseverance and loyalty. If I can quote myself, “Everything about me that I love, I got from her.”

I miss her. I need her.

I had a life-changing 2016.

My youngest niece (whose wedding you may remember) had a son, my great-nephew. He was born the day after my birthday. It was the best birthday present ever.

I also suffered through the end of a 13 year relationship. The end came swiftly and unexpectedly. My whole life changed.

So

I took seven months to heal, cry, learn to breathe again, and find my purpose. I’m still a work in progress but I feel like I am taking my life back.

One constant through all the changes has been books. I love to read. It is healing. It provides much-needed escapism from my overly stressful life. It helped keep me sane.

That is why I am changing the face of Kudzu and Romance. When 2016 began, I had a goal to read 200 books. I read over 400. My reading list grew like kudzu! I love words. I love how different writers use them to evoke vastly different emotions and reactions. Words can be so healing. And they can be so hurtful. And I love them all.

I have set an even higher reading goal for 2017. I want to be more present as I read those books. I want to sip them like fine wine…or sweet tea. And then I want to share and discuss them with you.

My reading list for 2017 is quite diverse. I have some old friends I want to revisit. I want to educate myself more on social issues. And I will definitely wallow in my love of all things Stephen King.

I cannot wait to go on this journey with you.

(If you did not catch the reference, Stephen King refers to his readers as “Constant Readers”. I have tried to track the origin of this phrase. I know Dorothy Parker used it. Does anyone know who said it first?)

I am currently reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.

 

ec16f5579a7d28383622630fe35faa60Two years ago, the world lost a beautiful soul, my Mama. She was my defender, my encourager and my example. Because of her,

I became an avid reader

I became a lifelong learner

I learned compassion

I learned unequivocal love

I learned loyalty

I learned perseverance

I learned how to laugh, be silly, talk ALL the time

Everything about me that I love, I got from her.

Two years ago today, she didn’t wake up. Even though she died on July 5, this was the day we lost her.

I’m in a pensive mood and I’m feeling quite melancholy. So…to mitigate these feelings, I’m going to share one memory/story each day for every day Mama was in hospice.  Lucky y’all, you get 6 days of my reminiscing.

Today I’ll start with Mama as a teenager. She graduated from high school several weeks before she turned 16. She started school early (at 4) because she wanted to be like her cousins. At that time, there were only 11 grades, so she graduated at 15. She had a job, but had to wait until she was 16 to be legal.

At some point, she moved to a girls home in downtown Atlanta and worked at Atlanta Gas Light with computers! She ran the key punch machine. She was so modern for her time.

We think she is in front of the boarding house she lived in. She's probably 17 or 18.                      So full of life and so fun!

We think she is in front of the boarding house she lived in. She’s probably 17 or 18. So full of life and so fun!

 

Think about that. 16 years old, living away from home, working in downtown Atlanta. She was so smart and so brave!

My daddy courted her the whole time, before and after he joined the Navy. (He was eventually successful in his courtship, but that’s another story!)

Although she spent most of her adult life raising children and having “no job”, she was actually a very independent woman.

My Mama was always slight insane

but

aren’t we all?

She was everything to me and no one will ever come close to filling the gaping Mama-shaped hole in my heart. I guess no matter how old you get, you still need your mother. I miss mine every single day.

I’ve always been so proud of my Thoroughly Modern Mama!

images

Hello there!

WHEW!

It has been one month since my sweet niece got married! I have SO much to tell you.

But

Not today.

I was going to tell you about it. I swear.

But

I got distracted.

I have been obsessed with audio books lately. At first, I felt like I was cheating. I mean really…I can’t read my own book?

Then I heard something from one of my favorite writers: Stephen King.

Stephen King is one of my heroes. But that’s another blog.

He suggested that by listening to a book, you actually hear/read

Every. Single. Word.

Think about when you read. Do you skim over some parts? Speed read? I know I do. I’ve caught myself going back and re-reading parts because I read over it so fast, I missed important parts.

When you listen to a book, you hear/read

Every. Single. Word.

So

I’m obsessed with audio books. Love them. I’ve listened to dozens in the past year.

Right now, I am listening to On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. The great thing about this book is that it is narrated by Stephen King himself…nasally Maine accent and all.

It’s an amazing conglomeration of autobiography, how-to book and “how I did it” book. And it is fascinating.

If I could have any talent in the world, I think I would want to be a writer. I mean, a real writer.  A great novelist. Like Stephen King. I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but he certainly is mine.

And that brings me to the topic of this blog.

In On Writing, King stresses that you must have a reader in mind when you write…your Ideal Reader (IR). You write for your IR and don’t worry about everyone else.

Because

If you please your IR, you will please your audience.

What an awesome concept. Don’t try to please everyone. Just please THE one. Or ones, in my case.

I started thinking about this blog and I started thinking about who my IR is.

I realized I have several, specific Ideal Readers.

My nieces.

My sisters.

And two of my great friends. We’ll call them

Candi.

And

Cherry.

‘Cause that’s their names.

So…when I write my blog, I have six Ideal Readers in mind. I feel like if I please them, then my target audience will be pleased.

These women are smart. And funny. And supportive. And tough. And I love them all dearly.

I know I will never be the

NEXT STEPHEN KING

That’s okay. He’s the only one we need. I would like to be a better writer, though, even if it’s just for my blog.

So

My goal for the next year or so is to become a better writer…to please my Ideal Readers.

How’d I do, ladies?

Oh yeah…

I also have set a goal to write at least 500 words a day. Today, I’m at about 515.

(Tomorrow, I will fill you in on “The Big Day” or “How I survived my niece’s wedding with a little moonshine and a lot of love”.)

Who is your favorite author? Leave me a comment!

(3/600. #110 on the list.)

My sister got mauled by a tail-free cat

Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, doesn’t it?

See…

Here’s what happened.

My sister took in an abandoned kitten about a year ago.

This psycho sweet little kitty doesn’t have a tail.

Isn’t that sad?

It’s okay…she was born that way.

So…

We took our new puppy to her house.

Her psycho sweet little kitty got scared.

Sister picked up scared kitty.

(Do you see her mistake?)

Here’s the card I made for her:

Sorry your cat mauled you

Sorry your cat mauled you

I can make cards for any occasion! Literally!

(Notice the cat on the card has no tail. Seriously, she was born that way.)

I got mauled by a cat one time. He belonged to my soon-to-be boyfriend…

Let’s call him

Mike

Because that is his name.

I was helping him move. He forgot the first rule of moving…

ALWAYS move the cat first!

So here’s this terribly upset cat and, being the compassionate animal lover that I am, I tried to soothe it.

Yes

I picked up the psycho sweet little kitty.

It bit me.

Hard.

My arm looked like it had a tennis ball under the skin. Green stuff came out of the puncture wounds. Red streaks were going up my arm.

It was not pretty.

And that is the story of the first time I ever went to the emergency room.

Did I mention that I was 38?

Somehow, as klutzy as I am, I had never been to the emergency room until I was 38.

All it took was one psycho sweet little kitty!

This is also the story of how I can design a greeting card for any occasion.

Literally!

(2/600. # 251 on the list.)

(And no…I’ve never picked up a psycho sweet little kitty who was very stressed out again.)

Have you ever been in the emergency room? Tell me why here:

I turned FIFTY this week!

“One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age. A woman who would tell one that would tell one anything.”
― Oscar Wilde

I turned fifty this week.

50

The big five-oh

I remember when 50 was really old.

Is 50 considered vintage?

Is 50 considered vintage?

I don’t feel old. Most of the time.

But

turning 50 definitely made me take stock of my life.

You know what?

I like my life.

If I could do anything with my life that I wanted to

I would choose

this.

I’ve started my own business.

I get to be creative all the time.

I have pushed myself to learn new things.

Scary things.

Fun things.

I love being creative.

I love making something from nothing.

My oldest sister is the one who suggested I start my own business. I thought it was a great idea…since I didn’t have a job. I have thought about it for years. 

But

I had to do something first.

I had to

believe

in myself.

That takes courage.

A bit of bravery.

Do I have courage?

That bit of bravery?

Do I?

You better believe I do!

And

you know what?

Being creative makes me

happy!

Working with old things with hidden beauty makes me

happy!

If I could drop everything and pursue my happiness, do you know what I would do?

Exactly what I am doing now.

Except

Maybe I’d do it in

Paris.

Rome.

Florence.

London.

St Simons, Georgia.

Or

Maybe I’d do it

right

here

right

now

I love my life.

It’s not perfect.

But it is mine.

“Just remember, when you’re over the hill, you begin to pick up speed.” 
― Charles M. Schulz

(1/600, #28 on the list)

I’ve been busy…

Busy as a Bee

Busy as a Bee

I know!

Excuses

Excuses

Excuses

I really have been busy, but I’ve also been a little stuck with what to blog about. When you start a blog, it seems so easy.

Then

reality shows up

And

you are starting a new business

And

doing research on your new business

And

you are busy planning your niece’s wedding

And

it is so much fun!

So

I got writer’s block

And

I got distracted.

I’m sorry.

To make it up, I’m making a new goal. I am going to write a blog on all 631 topics on

Kludgy Mom

Some of them don’t apply to me. I’ll try to change them to make them appropriate for this blog and my life.

Some I will just have to skip.

I figure it will take me two years.

Do you think I can do it?

I also plan on interjecting my own ideas as my brain (and my niece) come up with them.

I am setting a goal.

GREAT!

What next?

Goal setting involves establishing specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-targeted (SMART) goals.

My goal

Write at least 600 blogs on the topics listed here by May 31, 2016.

Is it

Specific?

Yes

It covers all the bases: Who (me), What (write), Where (blog), When (2 years), Why (because I can!)

Measurable?

Yes

600 blogs, two years

Achievable?

Yes

because I can!

Realistic?

Yes

that’s less than one per day

Time-targeted?

Yes

Two years

Setting goals is important.

When I began this blog, I had a “goal” of blogging daily.

But

It wasn’t written down.

It wasn’t specific.

It wasn’t SMART.

Now that I have told you all about it, I have to do it.

Right?

I can already tell my creative juices are flowing.

Thanks, y’all!

No Particular Place to Go

I haven’t written in a while.

Sorry for that.

Nothing has jumped out at me to write about.

Until now

There are some divisive things going on in my community right now. It is disturbing to see friends and neighbors at such odds with each other.

Why can’t we all just get along?

I have been told that I am too thin-skinned.

Too sensitive.

I agree…sort of. But can you really be too sensitive?

Isn’t caring about other people a good thing?

Isn’t caring about hurting people’s feelings a good thing?

And shouldn’t each of us be able to expect the same respect in return?

.

.

.

I just took a break from writing this blog to create a FaceBook page.

Love | Peace | Community

Love | Peace | Community

It is a daily challenge.

It’s not easy.

But we can do it.

This is not just about my local community.

This is about

Our Community.

The whole world.

We have become a global society.

What I do here in my little corner of the world affects what is happening in your corner of the world.

I know.

I should have been a hippie.

I would have fit in so well.

Can't we all just get along?

Can’t we all just get along?

Yes

I am a tree hugger.

Yes

I want to know why we all just can’t get along.

Yes

I am an optimist.

I love

Puppies

Kittens

Rainbows

Unicorns

And

Purple Dragons.

I am also a realist.

And I know, realistically, that we have to stick together.

This is a mean old world. It can be harsh.

But that does not mean we have to be that way.

I went down to the crossroads,
Tried to flag a ride.
I went down to the crossroads,
Tried to flag a ride.
Nobody seemed to know me,
Everybody passed me by.

Crossroads, Eric Clapton

Don’t pass your neighbor by.

I wrote a blog recently about our Good Samaritan.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if there were more people like Matt?

That is your challenge.

Love someone today.

Be kind.

Be peaceful.

A Good Samaritan Kind of Day

Tuesday was a Good Samaritan kind of day.

Don’t you love those days?

I was blessed Tuesday with two guardian angels. Lucky me!

Midafternoon, I was in the grocery store. I had, of course, gone to get two items.

Yeah

That didn’t happen. So here I stand in line behind some very chatty older ladies, with my hands full of stuff and things shifting and falling all over the place.

Remember how I went for two things? Who needed a cart?

So there I am, arms full, in a slow lane, when this kind voice speaks up behind me. This lovely man with his cutie pie of a daughter offered to let me put my things in his cart.

Wasn’t that nice?

I decided, since the line had started moving, that I would decline his offer. I was sweet! It was just easier to hold it than to untangle all the things in my arms.

So

They ring my things up and what’s the first thing they ask? Do you have your customer card? Well, of course I didn’t…I only went in for two things, remember?

So the lovely man with his cutie pie of a daughter standing behind me offered me his card. He saved me $3!

I know it doesn’t seem like much, but I was touched!

It was Tuesday. Tuesday is yoga day. I love yoga day!

So I twisted, and breathed, and was still.

It was a great session.

Then

On the way home, lights started flashing and there was this ominous flumping sound. If you don’t know what a flumping sound is, you’ve never had a flat tire.

Let me set the stage

I’m with my 82 year old father (who, by the way, had just finished a yoga class!).

My 82 year old Daddy getting his yoga on!

My 82 year old Daddy getting his yoga on!

It is about 40 degrees and very windy outside.

It was almost dark.

I told my daddy to pull over…because I always know what needs to be done, right?

He didn’t want to pull over on the four-lane highway, so we limped along until we go to a gas station. We hoped we could just put a little air in the tire and be on our merry way.

Oh no

Since we had driven on the tire, it was completely shredded. Plus, it had a giant hole in it that looked like it was made with a railroad spike.

So

We had to have it changed. I thought of who I could call. My boyfriend was still at work. My sisters were too far away. So that left my brother. I had the phone in my hand to call him…and that’s when our guardian angel drove up.

Let’s call him…

Matt

…because that’s his name.

He pulled up in a crew cab truck and got out in a mechanics uniform.

He said he saw as we were turning into the station that our tire was flat and he wanted to make sure we knew it.

He left his warm truck and changed that tire, because daddy and I were really clueless and he knew it.

He laughed and smiled and talked the whole time.

We met his wife, who had on scrubs. I’m guessing she’s a nurse or medical assistant or surgical technician or something similar.

They were lovely people.

They would not let us pay them.

They said to give that money to someone who needed it.

I was overwhelmed by the kindness of these two strangers. All they got for their trouble and time was a hug and a handshake.

Matt

If you see this, we are going to give that money to someone who needs it.

I wish we knew your last name and address so they could send you a thank you note.

Matt

You and the nice gentleman at the grocery store restored my faith in mankind.

Now I know that there are truly kind, caring, unselfish people out there.

Thank you so much. You are appreciated more than you will ever know.

Luke 10: 25 – 37

Behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested him, saying,

“Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”

He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

He said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”

Jesus answered, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he travelled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, ‘Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’ Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbor to him who fell among the robbers?”

He said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

I think I will.

Negativity and the Internet

Negativity is an insidious thing.

It is an evil that has to be battled constantly or it will overtake your life.

Now

I love FaceBook and the internet.

I think FaceBook is a great place to catch up with old friends, find support groups and play games. I’ve whiled away many hours playing Candy Crush.

I have used search engines to look up everything from pictures of purple dragons to my family genealogy.

But

The other side is the anonymity of it…how very easy it is to hide behind keyboards and doors.

I allowed myself to get sucked into that evil side the last couple of weeks.

See…

This is a hard time of year for me. It’s the time of year my niece died. My family has always relied on my mother to get us through these tough times. We don’t have her this year.

That made it hard.

So

I’m in this bad place…sad about my niece, missing my mother…and I let myself get sucked into the vortex of a “discussion” page.

It made me feel worse.

It made me feel defensive.

It made me say things that were better left unsaid.

I realized that this was not who I am.

More importantly

It’s not who I want to be.

Today on Breathe Day

I decided to inhale good, positive, uplifting thoughts.

I decided to exhale the negative thoughts.

Let’s do it

Breathe in…

Breathe out…

I feel better already.

I made a decision today to be positive.

It won’t be easy. It will be hard to forget some of the things that were said about me. I will forget to breathe and I will get upset.

But

Then I will remember.

And everything will be better.

Picasso Dove

Picasso Dove

peace.

it does not mean to be in a place

where there is no noise,

trouble or hard work.

it means to be in

the midst of those things and still

be calm in your heart.

Breathe

I am so over the term “hump day”. From now on, Wednesdays are going to be my BREATHE day.

As in

Breathe in good thoughts…breathe out bad thoughts.

As in

Take time and breathe. Enjoy the present…BE in the present.

As in

Consciousness is in the pause between breaths.

Before I took a break from working (more on that later), I was tense, had migraines and high blood pressure. I was working in an intensely stressful, deadline driven job. I loved my job; I work best under pressure. But there is a limit and my body was telling me I had hit it!

After a year of soul searching, and some gentle prodding from my sister, I decided to pursue my dream and start my own business. I have been considering this for years. Suddenly, it was the right time.

I love graphic design. I love starting with that blank page and making the first mark.

I love event planning. I love brainstorming and coming up with unique ideas. Starting from nothing and creating an entertaining and exciting experience is fabulous.

I love making things from “found” items. Upcycling, recycling, reusing, reworking. I want to take things that are used up, dirty and ugly, and make something special, romantic and beautiful.

Take a deep breath. I’ll take one, too. Kudzu and Romance starts TODAY. Join me in my journey…we’ll have fun together.