Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy 2017

This last year has been a roller coaster ride. Lots of dips and twists and even a few loop to loops. So many highs and lows were seen individually and as a world. Yet, here we are, still standing despite the world's best efforts to keep us down. We're here for a purpose. What is your purpose? I don't know.

As for me, I believe we are all here to be teachers. Whether it is about lessons or blessings, we are here to teach others about kindness, respect, honor, and love. I've had people who have come into life for several seasons who have taught me lessons, both good and bad. I've also had people who have merely brushed across my life who have blessed me. It doesn't matter how long a person stays in your life. What matters is how their visit impacted you, caused you to grow, gave you insight, or how it changed you. So, this is my challenge to you as we look forward to the upcoming year: Will you be a blessing or a lesson in the lives of those you touch? I am hoping that I'm a blessing always, but I know that isn't the case.

So, I'm going to take a brief moment to say "Thank you" for following me on this journey. Remember to find the magick in every day, dance like no one is watching, sing like you know all the words, love like you'll never get hurt.

Happy New Year from my house to yours!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

My Christmas Wish...

This is the last and final post I will make for the holiday. I want to thank you for coming along on this journey of memories, hopes, dreams, and wishes. I've regained some of my holiday spirit and that is in a big way due to you, my readers.

If you had stopped reading these posts, I would probably have stopped writing them. I lost followers on Facebook over these posts, but you know what? I don't really care. I usually make one blog post a week...if I remember. This is the first time I have posted on a daily basis and I've really loved it. I've got to stroll down memory lane with you and let you see into my world. I've noticed my posts involved a lot of delicious food, lots of family, loads of laughter, and so much more love than a heart can hold. I've stopped to count my blessings along this journey and I've realized that there wasn't one of these posts that was really about the material things the holidays brings us. It was all about the magick that makes the holiday special.

So, I am going to leave you with this wish: May you and yours be healthy and happy! May you find the courage you need to live out loud. May you always yourself, others, the world, and magick. May you know how to get back up when life knocks you down. And may you find happiness in even the darkest moments! Merry Christmas from my house to yours!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Peace on Earth

This last 13 days has been about me sharing with you. Whether it is memories of Christmases long ago or things from more recent times, I've shared as much holiday joy as I could with all of you.

Yesterday, I wrote about my grown-up letters to Santa. I have so many wishes besides something for myself. The biggest wish? Peace. Peace from wars. Peace from politics, Peace from racism, Peace from patriarchy. Peace on Earth.

Yeah, I know, I live in a world of make-believe, but close your eyes for a moment and imagine a world where humans simply were kind to each other. No words of hatred were spewed. We just loved our neighbors, no matter what color their skin or the symbol of their religion they choose to wear. Where we just remembered that we are all part of one race...the human one.

I would love a world where every parent was able to be with their children for the holidays. Every military man and woman would sit down to dinner with their family, be there when their children woke on Christmas morning, and could sleep soundly in their own beds each night.

Peace on Earth...

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Dear Santa...

How many years did we sit down to write these letters? I remember doing it as a kid, but as an adult, it was almost as if I had given up on the magick.

I started a book a while ago about a woman who wrote a letter to Santa. It ends up in the hands of a man and romance ensues.  So, I thought about it. Why do we stop believing? Isn't Santa about the spirit of the holiday?

Two years ago, I sat down and wrote a letter to Santa. Granted, it didn't get mailed, but I still wrote out my wish. I merely told Santa that as happy as I was, he knew what I wanted and I was sure he was the only one who could make it happen. I told him that he knew my heart's desire and if he could see his way to bringing my hopes and dreams to fruition, I'd be eternally grateful. It didn't happen, but  I held out hope.

The following September, Mr. Charismatic Smile walked into my math class and took my breath away. He was more than I could've hoped for. He gave me something that no one else has or could. He held up a mirror and didn't just tell me I was beautiful. He made me believe it. That's what I had asked Santa for...someone who could see me for me and make me believe their words.

So, I continue to write these letters. I'm hoping Santa still gets that I believe in the magick of him and this holiday.

Here's my song choices for today:

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas 1977

Yesterday's post wasn't really a memory, but yet, in some ways, it was. I know what is like to spend a holiday alone. I've spent enough holidays either working or curled up on the couch with my dog to realize it sucks to be alone for the holidays.

Today, however, is a different day. This memory comes from the year 1977. (I'm giving away my age with this one.) I was new big sister and, while I wasn't overly fond of the brat...ahem, baby, he was my little brother.

This was the Christmas that I got a bean bag chair. It was black, shiny, and squishy. My mom had bubbleloaf (monkey bread to the rest of you) baking in the oven. I was up at the buttcrack of dawn to inspect the gifts Santa had brought. I remember sitting on the floor while Dad sat on the couch with a cup of coffee. Mom had gone in to change the beast...I mean, baby. Mom put him on the floor to crawl out to the family room/kitchen/dining room and he promptly crawled into my new bean bag chair, made himself comfortable, and promptly fell back to sleep.

I will admit that I loved that little booger...for the most part. He was chubby and cute...usually But there is actually a picture of that baby sound asleep on my Christmas is probably my favorite of him to this day.

I do remember singing this song that holiday:

And this song was one I had to sing for the Christmas program at church:

Love Actually...

Love. It is a four letter word and some people liken it to the other four letter words that cause much disdain. Love actually is what the holidays are all about.

I'm a big fan of the movie "Love Actually" and this is one of my favorite quotes:

For me, this is what the holidays are all about...LOVE. It is about loving your friends, your neighbors, your parents, your siblings, your children, your partner/significant other, yourself. It is about celebrating that love wherever you might find yourself.

Love is visible everywhere you look. You may have to look harder in some places, but look around your world and you will find love is actually quite prevalent. It is the young man shoveling his elderly neighbor's sidewalk. It is the mother holding her child's hand while shopping. It is the couple strolling down the street looking at the window displays. In this world when so many are discouraged and upset with the way things are going...LOVE actually exists.

So many people celebrate the holidays alone or with a mish mash of friends. Not everyone has a family to bicker with, to share a meal with, to argue about who's team is the better team with, to LOVE. We have elderly people who sit in their homes with no family visits. We have families who are spread across the country with no way of getting to each other. We have men and women in the military who are forced to be away from their families for the holidays. Yet, if you look closely, you'll find that LOVE is still alive within this world.

For my first choice today, I give you:

And here is my second choice: 

Monday, December 19, 2016

My Itchy and Scratchy Christmas

As I've said before, the holidays are rough for me. But let me tell you about one Christmas where I was absolutely miserable!

It was my freshman year of high school and I was so tired. I went to help Grandma get ready for our Christmas Eve gathering. I wasn't feeling Christmasy or anything close to happy. I was simply exhausted. We got everything ready and I went in on Grandmas bed to lie down. Everyone brought their coats in to lay on Grandma's bed, but I didn't care. I just wanted a dark room with a comfy bed. Grandma had to do her pre-present opening picture of us grandkids in front of the tree. I remember being upset and surly. Dad got on to me about my attitude and told me I needed to straighten up. I remember tears coming to my eyes...that's how miserable I was.

We did the whole Christmas thing and visited for a bit before we went home. I went into the bathroom to get ready for bed. My mom called in to me asking if I had any red spots. I did. I had them on my back, my chest, my stomach...I had come down with chicken pox! Merry Christmas to me, right?

I remember Dad had to run back to Grandma's house to get calamine lotion. We lived 20 minutes from town and it's not as if anything were open. Mom painted my spots with polka dots of pink and sent me to bed. I didn't want to celebrate Christmas. I wanted to sleep. The virus wore me out completely. But instead I got up and celebrated...reluctantly. I spent my entire holiday break with those damn red spots. My brother came down with them the week after and ended up missing school! LOL

Here's my holiday music picks for today:

This has to be one of my favorite songs simply because I grew up loving the Chipmunks. Alvin, Simon, and Theodore were the best!

I always loved Snoopy and the gang! They represented every holiday to me. I never missed an episode of their specials.

I definitely don't miss the chicken pox, but there are certainly pieces of my childhood that make me long for those days.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was always a HUGE deal in my family. We would all go to Grandma's for a dinner of cold cuts, baked beans, potato salad, and snacks. My mom would bring trays of goodies. We would all gather to hang out and celebrate.

But it was the lead up to Christmas Eve that I remember most. Us grandkids would show up to help Grandma decorate her house. Sometimes it was just Grandma and me. However, it was always fun. Then, I'd help Grandma make up the treats she always provided: Chex mix, goodie bars, date bars, and such. We would hang out and talk. It was one of the best times! Grandma loved having her grandkids around and she loved us all so much. The bond she and I had was unique because I was her only granddaughter.

Grandma had a fake tree every year, but there was always one ornament that she'd put on herself. It was a pinkish purple and white ball. It was the first ornament she and Grandpa bought their first Christmas as a married couple. All the rest of her ornaments had stories as well, but that one was always my favorite.

While we baked and prepared for Christmas Eve, Nat King Cole would serenade us.

And while this may seem disrespectful to some, if you knew my Grandma, you'd understand how respectful it truly is. She and my cousin had this running joke when this song first hit the airwaves and this became one of her favorite Christmas songs. So, in memory of my dear Grandma with the  twisted sense of humor (should I mention that my Grandma was a fan of Queen and Smashing Pumpkins?), here is my second choice for today:

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Angels Among Us

Let me share a memory that not a lot of people are aware of.

Newly divorced and living in a new town with no friends, I celebrated my first holiday with just my darling boy and me. I wasn't working. I was a broke-ass college student. I was depressed and not looking forward to Christmas. There was no tree. I had put up a few decorations, but there was absolutely no gifts. I felt like a shitty canine mom.

I'm never one to ask for anything because I'm a big believer in only taking what I earn. However, I was a member of a Facebook group and I asked for prayers, positive energy, and good vibes. What ended up happening showed me more love than I can express. This group of people from around the world came together to make Diesel's Christmas a special one. He got presents from around the world. He got a new dog bed, toys galore, a new leather collar, treats, and so much love.

What's funny is that we haven't been the only recipients of the generosity. So many people have been blessed. Even this year, I got a message from a friend who asked if there was anything we needed. I told her that I didn't, but she still sent us gifts. The love continues to grow and I am blessed to be in the presence of angels. My sincerest wish is that someday I will be able to pay all of these blessings forward.

Today's first choice is sort of an obvious choice:

This song always brings a tear to my eye. The message is so deep and profound. Not all angels have wings that are visible. Oftentimes, we are entertaining angels unaware.

And my second choice is this one:

Friday, December 16, 2016

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

There are few times that you could find me scheduling my evening around a tv. Christmas was one of those times. Charlie Brown and the gang, Rudolph, the Heat Meiser, Santa Claus, Jack name a holiday special and you would find my butt planted in front of the television screen.

To this day, Rudolph is one of my favorites. Santa Claus is Coming to Town is another and we can't forget A Year Without a Santa Claus.

Rudolph was a misfit, just like me. With his red nose, he stuck out and made me feel like I wasn't so alone in this world. And when he went to the Island of Misfit Toys...OH! MY! GOD! I wanted to take a blanket and build a fort there with misfit toys. When you throw in Yukon Cornelius and Herbie, well, those are my people!

So, today's first choice is an obvious choice:

I always loved how Clarice accepted Rudolph and wondered if I would ever find the one who would accept me being a misfit. Yes, even back in the day, I was a romantic at heart.

Here's my second choice because I can't stop singing this one:

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Spirit of Christmas

Can I tell you how much fun I'm having with this? I'm wondering who is enjoying it more, my mom or me. Every new post triggers a new memory for both of us. And every new memory leads to a new post. So here we go for today:

If you've been reading along, then you know that I am over the commercialism of the holidays. I'm very glad to not have television so I miss out on the holiday bombardment of advertisements. But once upon a time, I knew a man who embodied the very spirit of the Christmas season. He was a truck driver my parents had befriended. He was the sweetest of people. We had spent weekends with his family and went to his daughter's wedding. A very generous family. How this whole thing started I can't remember, but I do remember the way this man would don a Santa suit and provide a holiday for children who wouldn't have had one otherwise. There was a meal and presents, a visit with Santa, and box of food to take home so these families could have their own holiday meals.

The very first year, we delivered boxes of food to families via an RV. The next year, it grew and grew. My mom was baking cookies for this man and his brother to sell on their route. They took the money and funded part of the celebration. They added donations from the boss and others as well as putting in their personal financial contributions. It was amazing!

As a kid who didn't come from a wealthy family, the generosity shown was how the spirit of Christmas was represented. Sure, this man wasn't the "real" Santa, but in my book, it was as close as you can get. And the heart of this man was touched each and every year...enough so that he would excuse himself, take off his Santa beard, and have a bit of a cry. He knew he was making a difference, I just don't think he realized how much of one until he was in that moment and he made a child's  (or a parent's) holiday.

This man kept the spirit of Christmas alive for a young woman who wasn't sure about believing in the miracle of Christmas after a certain age.

And this is how I came to this addition for today:

This is one song we used to sing every year at the Christmas sing. We would wind up the evening with this one:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Cabbage Patch Christmas

It was the Christmas where Cabbage Patch dolls were the "must have" toys. Like any little girl, I wanted one. As I'm sure you've figured out, my family wasn't financially well off. I knew the likelihood of me getting one wasn't good, but a little girl could hope. My mom was one who loved attending craft fairs (still does) and often made things to add to the table her ladies group had. This particular year, she found a doll for her little girl. She resembled the popular brand, but had a cloth face with her facial features painted on. She had blond yarn hair with pink ribbons. She had brown eyes and an outie belly button. Her dress was white with pink rosebuds and she wore white bloomers. She was perfect and I loved her. My best friend got a Cabbage Patch doll. I remember thinking that I had gotten the best gift because there was no other doll exactly like mine. I did that a lot...feeling sorry for my friends who didn't get homemade gifts. (Did I mention that I was an odd duck?)

Here is my first choice for today's musical collection:

I've always had a special affinity for winter. I love how the snow covers the world in this perfectly clean blanket and makes everything look so pristine. The light bounces off each individual snowflake, making beautiful rainbows in the snow. 

My second choice is this one:

For me, there is nothing like getting snowed in with the person you love. There's playing in the snow, homemade hot cocoa, snuggling up in warm jammies under the blankets, reading books, flickering candlelight, long see my point. I love the romance of the winter season!

Small Town Christmas

I'm from a small town called Marshall. It used to be a quiet little town with the pharmacy which still had their soda counter (no longer in use), the bakery with the most scrumptious goodies, the banks where the tellers knew you, the Five and Dime store, and you would stop to talk to everyone as you walked from shop to shop.

This is what my hometown looks like during the holidays:

I could lie and tell you that this is the Norman Rockwell version, but I won't. I have to admit that this is probably one of my favorite places to be when it comes to the holidays. This is home and nothing can compare. 

I've hung out on this street on Friday and Saturday nights. I've shopped these stores. I've walked this street in parades and for my high school graduation. However, nothing beats Marshall during the holidays!

In light of this feeling of nostalgia, I'm going to share two Christmas songs that make me think of home.

This video is a win/win for me. Not only do I love this song, but it has Bob Hope in it. He was one of my grandma's favorite people. Many a night was spent on her lap, watching this man and the television specials he used to have.

My second choice is this one: 

For me, there was nothing like walking down Main Street and watching all the windows come to life with snow, winter scenes, Christmas trees, ribbons, and bows. It seemed like the season arrived once the windows began to show their holiday spirit.

I hope you enjoyed my choices for today!

Monday, December 12, 2016


I made one post about Christmas memories and my mom reminded me of another. One holiday season, we couldn't afford to buy Christmas cards. My mom decided to harness her children's talents (my brother could draw very well). He drew the pictures for the front of our construction paper cards while I wrote the verses for inside. I didn't realize how poor we were. I just thought it was another thing Mom wanted to try. The thing I remember about that holiday was the comments everybody made about what an incredible card they received from our family.

This is my first song choice for today:

I remember singing this in church during my first Christmas program. I was in kindergarten. We certainly didn't sound like the video, but we stood in front of the church and sang. Made our parents proud. I think :)

This is my second choice: 

Once again, we didn't sound nearly as good as this, but I remember singing this in the choir. Mrs. Riccinto was my choir director and she had to explain to us how to sing the "Excelsis" part since none of us knew Latin. We had a huge piece to sing in the Christmas program and the Excelsis part was throwing us all off. She told us to sing it as 'eggshells". To this day, I chuckle whenever I hear this song.

I hope you enjoy my choices today!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Musical Memories

If you've been following me for any length of period, you know that music has always been a big part of my life. And you're also aware that the holidays aren't necessarily my favorite times of the year. However, I promised to let you a little further into my world by showing you the holiday music that means a lot to me.

This song used to play on the local radio station when I was a kid. I remember thinking how silly it was to want Santa to deliver a hippo. Eventually, the radio station stopped playing it. I hadn't heard it in years until I was sitting at a gas station in Pennsylvania, waiting on my then-husband. This song came on and I was all smiles when my childhood made a brief reappearance.

Yes, I'm a little silly. I'm also very wicked and dark. This next song is the perfect example of that. This is a song that was on a CD my then-husband had. I remember him getting the CD and playing me some of the songs. This one stuck out because it made me laugh. Yes, the hysterical belly laugh which shows the twisted sense of humor that resides inside of my cold black heart.

This is the beginning of a fun couple of weeks as I bring you some of the favorite music of the holiday least, in my world. You'll see the silly, the dark and twisted, the serious, the tear-jerkers, and the love that filled my life.

I hope you enjoy the journey I am going to take you on! Hang on and enjoy the ride!

Growing Up Grinch...

Being called a "Grinch" isn't bad in my world, but maybe I'm more of a Cindy Lou Who. I don't see the Christmas spirit a lot these days. I look around at the shopping carts overflowing with gifts being pushed by people who are frazzled and overwhelmed by the entire experience. The introvert in me loves observing the people and how their stress levels always seem higher as the contents of their shopping carts grow. The empath in me feels for them because they are trying to fill the holes in their lives with stuff.

See, I grew up in a family where the spirit of the holiday was more important than the physical gifts. It was about remembering your neighbors who maybe didn't have family to visit or spend the holiday with. My mom would bake and bake her heart out simply to give it all away. I remember her getting up extra early on Christmas morning to bake off loaves of bread, wrap them in dish towels, and put the loaves into the already prepared boxes of Christmas cookies and candies so Dad could run them to our neighbors before we opened gifts.

What's funny is I would sit and look through the catalogs for hours to prepare my Christmas lists every year. I don't remember a lot of the gifts I got (there are a couple that stand out in my mind), but I remember how I felt. I remember watching my parents. And though neither of them realized it at the time, I'm sure, they were teaching me about the true spirit of the season. What else is funny is this: I don't remember going shopping with my mom for gifts. But I do remember being in the kitchen, baking, cooking, stirring, dipping, washing, laughing, and loving.

My mother swears that I'm very un-Grinch-like. (She's my mom. She believes only good things about her baby! Lol) She doesn't know that when I'm driving to work, if a Christmas song comes on, I switch the radio station. Today, however, there was a song that came on and I couldn't change the station. Why? Because I heard the music start and I was transported back to that kitchen on a snowy December night. Cookies were baking. Fudge was bubbling away. My mom was in a pair of polyester pants and a sweatshirt. My dad was in his stocking feet, jeans, and a flannel shirt with a thermal shirt beneath it, sleeves rolled up. And he was singing this song: 


There were tears in my eyes as I drove along. As much as the holiday music drives me crazy, this is one song I just can't turn the station for. This is another: 

So, from now until Christmas, I'm going to make posts about my favorite holiday songs. Something to give you a bit of insight in the world of Gemma and what makes the holidays happy for me.

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Box Full of Darkness

As most of you know, I've been on this journey. Lately, I've been looking at the things that have gone wrong in my life, either due to my bad judgement or because I allowed the wrong people to take the helm (so bad judgement on my part). I've been counting my blessings and learning to bless others as I walk along the yellow brick road.

Here's a thought: What if the darkest parts of the road where actually the times I was most blessed? Those times when I felt the lowest, I walked the path with hesitancy and trepidation, but I still kept putting one foot in front of the other. It was in those times that I found my strength. It was during those times when I found my determination. It was in the moments when I stumbled and fell, but rolled over for a moment or two to look up at the sky to watch the stars, that I saw the light.

I've always loved the dark. Someone once asked me why I loved the darkness as much as I do. I told them "Because in the daylight, we all put on masks and hide our true selves from others. But in the night, the masks come off and we get to be ourselves. The darkest part of the nightfall is where the freaks play." (Freaks is very much an endearment as I am one of those people.)

I don't know why I think the light of day will guide me and show me what I need to see. Bad things hide in the shadows of the daylight, but in the darkness, well, the true light shines. I look at some of the events of my life and think "Wow, what the hell were you thinking? If only you had taken that right turn at Albuquerque. If only you would have stuck to your guns and not listened to friends. If only you would have followed your heart." Do you know what? If I had taken that right at Albuquerque, not listened to others and followed my own heart, I wouldn't be here, in this place, in this moment, in this time. My path may have been easier, but we don't learn anything when things are easy. The struggle is where we learn who we are and what we are made of. I could have avoided a lot of pain and sorrow, but I wouldn't have learned the lessons I needed to learn. I've learned that I do value myself more than I believed, that I'm stronger than I thought I was, that I'm more intelligent than I originally believed, that I am beautiful (maybe not to everyone, but to more than I could have imagined), that I have the right to have crazy colored hair no matter what my age, that tattoos are works of art, but most of all, that I can allow myself to be loved in the same way that I love. 

It is in the darkest times when we truly find ourselves. I don't need people to tell me what I should be studying or where. I don't need to hear that I'm beautiful, intelligent, or incredible. In the darkest times of my life, if I would have listened to my heart, the answers were right there. The stars were the true light, guiding me to my destiny and showing me the path that has been right in front of me all along. 

With this realization in mind, I am putting one foot in front of the other and seeing where this road leads. This time, I'm allowing the stars to light my way and I'm following my heart.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Grinch I Am And A Grinch I'll Be...

The holiday season has me in its sights and has locked onto me like a heat seeking missle. I guess I should explain: I don't love least, not like I used to. Somewhere through the years, they lost their magick. Maybe the baubles that hang on evergreen branches tarnished. I don't know.

I've been called many things over the past years, but Grinch seems to be what fits. I don't try to diminish everyone else's joy, but I'm gonna be decorations hitting store shelves before Halloween? Seriously? Steals a lot of my holiday joy. Growing up, I remember our radio stations playing holiday music, but before we could hardly get the Thanksgiving leftovers put away? It's as if we are trying so hard to rush through the holiday season that we forget what we are celebrating.

Halloween isn't merely about getting candy and dressing up. For some, like me, it is about honoring our ancestors. It is a time when the veil thins between the worlds and we communicate with those who've gone before. Sure, I like a good Reese's as much as the next girl, but there's so much more to it.

Then, we have Thanksgiving. Yeah, I know Pilgrims, Mayflower, Native Americans, blah, blah, blah. For me, this holiday is about giving thanks and showing your gratitude for what you have. Counting your blessings should be an every day experience, but taking one day to be with your family, friends, or lending a hand at a soup kitchen doesn't kill any of us. No shopping. No worrying about what little Bobby and Sue want for Christmas. Just time spent enjoying this life we've been given.

By the time Christmas rolls around, we are so wrapped up in the gift giving that we lose sight of what's important. We have an entire month that is hopelessly devoted to: how many presents does each person have, did I spend the same amount on each person, and did my sibling buy our parents a bigger/better/more expensive gift? When did we stop having fun? I remember my mom making gifts for people. She would spend hours sewing things for them, making sure the colors were perfect. But I also remember getting up Christmas morning, excited to see what Santa brought. I believed in the magick of it all. Somewhere along the way, Santa was sold out to Walmart. Gifts from the heart were tossed aside for big and expensive yet cheaply made items. We lost touch with our roots and reality. I remember gifts I was given as a kid that made me question some relatives' sanity, but I smiled, said "Thank you", hell, I even had to write thank you notes! And I did it. I still do. For me, it's important to sit down and put pen to paper to tell someone how special you feel because they took the time to think of you. I would rather have one simple gift that tells me a person took the time to thoughtfully purchase a gift for me, than to have several shiny, expensive gifts. Someone I loved deeply once bought me a 5-pack of my favorite ink pens. I cried at the thoughtful gesture. That meant more to me than if this person had brought me diamonds.

The holiday season has become so wrapped up in consumerism and selfishness. Your two year old doesn't need a tablet of his own to watch his shows on. He needs a dump truck or coloring books or maybe even a day spent with you. Something to show him that HE matters to you! Not your phone, your computer screen, or your shows, your child! Your kids won't remember the year they got their phone/tablet/video game/etc., but they will remember watching Christmas movies in their jammies, sledding down a snowy hill, playing a board game, or even helping make cookies...with YOU! You are the key to a magickal holiday season! You won't always be here and those gifts don't create memories.

I'm a little older and a little wiser (I think) so let me tell you something you may not know: People seldom remember the gift you gave them 30 years from now. What they do remember is that you took the time to make memories with them. One of my favorite memories? Being in the kitchen with my family, making cookies, fudge, and candies. Me stirring the pan of fudge on the stove. My dad beating the other batch of fudge at the table. My brother being annoying. My mom baking off the sugar cookies. The radio playing and the much laughter! We were making so much more than goodies. There was love, laughter, and memories being made in that farmhouse kitchen. 20+ years later and all I have to do is close my eyes. I am transported back to that farmhouse kitchen in rural Michigan on a snowy night surrounded by love.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thank You...

It's that time of year again (where on earth has 2016 gone?) and everyone is posting things they are thankful for. Me? I'm happy to be here!

I'm thankful for my family and friends, for this life I have, and for the ability to do the things I love. Working in the field I do, I appreciate the little things like taking a shower by myself, going to the store (as much as I despise shopping), and even cooking meals. Sometimes it really is just the little things that we don't think about.

As much as people complain about how people have to work on the holidays, there are some of us who don't have a choice. Yes, I am one of those. Stop for a moment though. Who would take care of us in an emergency situation if the doctors, nurses, and EMTs all were home with their families? Who would be there when we have to stop for gas as we travel to see our families? What about those family members who are in nursing homes? Or what about those people who have no family to spend the holidays with? They still need care. They need showers, meals, etc. Not everyone is equipped to deal with an aging or disabled family member.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the members of our military who guard us day and night, keeping a vigilant watch over our borders and our families. While I know we are extremely thankful for their service, if they didn't work 365 days  a year, where would we be? And what about their families who are struggling through without them? It's not an easy job being a military spouse or kid! You learn to cherish the time you get, holidays or no.

So, for the people who are working the holiday, I thank you! Yes, even the retail clerks! Do you know why? Because I am me and I will have inadvertently forgotten something. I will have to rush out and pick it up at the last minute. If the store were closed, well, I'd be SOL. And having worked retail, trust me, I've been thanked plenty. From the mother who forgot to pick up formula for her baby to the old man who simply had no place to go for the holidays and decided to do his shopping, I felt lucky to be part of their day.

And while we are on the topic of retail people, can I give you a word of sound advice? If you are out shopping this holiday season, please remember that your cashier is merely doing his/her job! They did not set the prices. They do not know every single item that is on sale in their store, let alone someone else's. They are not responsible if you are shopping out of state and your bank has a spending limit and your card is declined. (Yes, I was told I was incompetent at my job over this issue.) They are not responsible for expired coupons. They are on their feet with minimal breaks dealing with customers who are...let's just say, less than pleasant, and they are barely making minimum wage. They are not there because they wanted a "fun job." They are there because they have to be. They are there working to put a roof over their children's heads, food on their families' tables, and pay their bills. You may be stressed out by all the frantic hassle and mobs of people, but these people are doing it 8 hours a day and not necessarily by choice!

I want to send out a big "Thank You" to all of you who are working this holiday! It's not easy and you'd rather be home with your families, but I appreciate you! I'm thankful you sacrifice time away from your family to be on call for mine. And, in case, I haven't said it enough, I'm blessed to have all of you in my life. Thank you for being here, for reading my blogs, and for supporting me on this mixed up, messed up journey I call my life!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

From My Point of View...

How many times have you been somewhere and you notice that one person sitting by themselves? They may have an electronic device of some sort in front of them, ear buds in and zoned out to the rest of the world. How many times have you felt sorry for them for being alone? How many times have you thought, "Oh, that poor person has no one to eat with/talk to/be with."? Have you ever thought, "Wow! How amazing is that?" Probably not. I know I never did...until I became aware of the fact that I AM that person.

Let me tell you what it is like to be the heavy girl who sits alone:

The chaos of school was always too much for me so I'd go to the library for the silence. I had friends. Hell, I had some of the best friends in the world, but I needed the silence to cope. I could fall into the world of whatever I was reading and forget that I was a heavy set high school girl with no boyfriend, no date on Friday night, who had to work for the extras she wanted in life. Some days I was Scarlett O'Hara. Other days, I was on the mission to solve the crime in a Victoria Holt novel.

Yep, this is actually me in high school.

As an adult, it is a wonder I ever married, to be honest. I married someone whom a friend had set me up with. We'd known each other since elementary school. I sat alone in our home most days and nights. I didn't want to go out and the idea of socializing was too much for me to handle. I could hang out with my family, but that was the extent of it. The world was too loud for me.

After my divorce, I moved in with my best friend. We went out a lot and he had his brother over...a lot! But, looking back, I can tell you that I was happiest when it was just us, hanging out and talking. We didn't exactly hang out with a quiet crowd and the emotions were more than I could handle. I drank too much and felt miserable more often than I would admit to him. And when his brother was here...OMG, he never quit talking! It was amusing and intelligent, but I was exhausted when he'd go home.

Going to college is even more stressful, let me tell you. I'm the woman who is an hour early to class so that she can pop in her earbuds and simply zone out. I need to do this in order to deal, in order to get my mind focused, to keep myself centered, and, yeah, sometimes to shut the world out. If I take my earbuds out to acknowledge you, then please understand that you are special! That you matter enough to me that I want to hear what you have to say and to share my world with you!

Every seat was filled an hour later!

I'm not just the fat girl with mulit-colored hair who is anti-social or has no friends. I'm the woman who needs to enjoy the silence and not listen to the cacophony of noises that fill the world. I tend to feel too much so I need the music to calm my heart and mind. IF I let you into my space, it is because I think you are worthy of that space. My world is overcrowded with people who demand of me. If you take the time to stop and say, "Hello" or ask how I am, that means (at least to me) that for some ungodly reason, you want to get to know me. And while that is terrifying, I'll let you in to my space. Who knows? I might not notice as you ease your way into my life to become a friend...or maybe the one I could love forever.

I'm an introvert of epic proportions which is why being an author seems to be the best fit for me. I can sit alone in my home and write away about worlds that I only dream of being a part of. I only need to socialize through social media and I can be in the silence. Unfortunately, the bills have to be paid and that requires me to step out into the world. A place full of noises, people, and feelings. A place that overwhelms me on my best days. On my worst, I suck it up until I'm in the privacy of my own home, then, I fall apart. I shake and cry under the warm spray of the shower. On my worst days, I have panic attacks and have to walk out of class.

So, the next time you see someone sitting alone with earbuds in, understand that this might be their way of coping with the world around them. And understand that if you decide to say "Hello", that you may just find your new best friend...or the love of your lifetime.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Simply Simplistic...

The other day I was talking to someone and she called me a "country mouse." Now, it was said in a joking manner and I know she didn't mean to hurt my feelings, but the implication was that I'm "simple". Simple in all aspects of my life, including simple-minded. And that pissed me off.

When did being from the country or liking simple things begin to have a bad connotation?

If you've read my previous posts, you know I'm a country girl living in a big city. When I tell you that my hometown was Norman Rockwell-esque, I'm not kidding. Taking a stroll down Main Street will end with you stopping multiple times to talk to several different people. If you would have walked a two block strip of Main Street with my grandmother, it would have taken about an hour because she knew everybody and everybody knew her.

I'm also a woman who is up between the hours of 5 and 6 every morning. I get almost an entire day's work done before I have to actually go to my job. I come home from work and I don't simply sit down and put my feet up. I make dinner, sometimes I bake a little, I walk the dog, do the dishes from dinner, sweep up the floors, all before sitting down to write before bed. Then, I get up and do it all again the next day.

I don't buy cookie dough, I make it because I don't know any other way. I bake bread the way my mom taught me, by hand. No machinery necessary. I seldom buy convenience meals because I don't need all the added junk they put in those things. I have a garden when possible and hit farmers' markets when I can't. I make jam and put up veggies. I prefer jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, and boots to suits, skirts, and high heels. I love hanging my sheets on the line in a summer breeze and I'm not scared of bugs or snakes (mice, yes, but that's different :) ) I love to get dirty and I love the sound of the frogs and crickets singing me to sleep through my open windows. I'm not a fan of air conditioning and I don't care if my hair gets messed up when I drive with the window down (that's what ball caps are for).

This same person was telling me how much she loves taking pictures of the architecture in the city and how you can't find that stuff in the country. I love taking pictures, too. And architecture is one of my favorite subjects. However,you won't find me taking pictures of brick buildings and polarized windows. Clapboard farm houses, old churches with the original stained glass windows, porches where people used to sit and visit, memories of a life long gone in so many parts of this world.
My pictures, more often than not, are nature based. Leaves, water, trees, critters, things that I think most of us take for granted.

My grandma used to sit on her porch every night in the spring and summer. People would drive by and wave. Some would pull in and sit down for a visit. Sometimes it would be a relative out for a drive in the country. Other times, it was a friend/neighbor...because where I come from, those two things were the same. I knew all of the people who lived on the road I grew up on. I didn't get away with shit! If I tried, one of them would be sure to call my parents or grandparents!

So, yes, I'm looking to get out of this big, overcrowded city with the buses and trains going through on a constant basis. I long for a simpler way of life. I want to know my neighbors. If I have to live in a town, I want to live on a tree-lined street where I feel safe. I want the sound of crickets to sing me to sleep on a warm summer night. I want to go to the grocery store and they recognize me. I want to be able to take a walk down a country road on a spring morning and take in the nature that is waking up.

Simple living doesn't mean that I'm simple-minded. It means I can survive without all the noise and crime that comes with city-living. I just like the slower pace of the country life. I'm an old-fashioned country girl who longs for the simpler ways of life, ya know?

Friday, October 28, 2016

Embracing My Darkness

Hemingway once said:

Now, I know I'm no Hemingway, but I love his work. I understand the demons that are said to have tormented him. You see, I know a lot of authors who sit down, write, and walk away. Sure they get ideas at the most inconvenient times, like while they're taking a shower, driving kids to practices, or while they are attempting to go to sleep. Many of these same authors can set the mood with very little effort. They simply put their ass in a seat and write. Oh, if only it were that simple for me.

My writing process is quite different. I have playlist upon playlist of music to listen to in order to get my mind in the right space. Candles are usually lit and incense wafting through the air. And silence with no disturbances or interruptions. Then, I step into the darkness of my mind.

My mind is a scary place most days. Most of my story ideas come from my dreams. I dream in full color with my feet on the ground. Yes, vivid colors. And they stick with me for days...even years. Until I take the time to write them down. And once I step into the darkness, it can take days for me to step out of it. Especially if I dive into the realm of my nightmares...where the monsters reside. I had a nightmare for about 5 years. The same one every time. I got tired of it and sat down to write it out. I listened to very dark metal as I wrote and sank into a depression so deep that I thought I'd never emerge. And it scared me.

What scared me is that I went to a place that I never dreamed was possible! I mean, for a long time, all I wrote was light, romantic stories. No heavy back story. No darkness. Just the pretty stuff, ya know? Then, Cedar River came into being. I wrote and wrote what I saw in my dreams. I watched Ana and Bowie become "real". I watched the community come to life and with it more stories. I remember my ex read the dark scenes and merely looked at me with an astounded look, asking, "Where in hell did that come from?" He had no idea what lived in my mind. The fact of the matter is that I could've gone darker, but didn't. After all, my dream was to be a romance author. Not paranormal. Not urban fantasy. Not horror. Romance, sweet and simple.

I never thought I had what it took to write about the darkness that resides in me. Most people who know me wouldn't believe I knew of the bogeyman or demons that hide in the darkness. So, I push it all aside until it builds to a place where I either let it swallow me whole OR I write it all down for the world to see. I choose to write it down and let my demons out to play. The problem now is that I've kept them locked up for a while and they're scratching at the gates of my soul, begging to be released. If I don't let them out soon, they may just consume me. And I prefer to avoid that, if at all possible.

So, while I'm still working 7 days a week and catching up on my housecleaning, I'm also opening up the Word documents I've kept locked up, lighting the incense and candles, and turning on my music. I'm trying to embrace my darkness. Attempting to draw on it to fuel my muse, but not allowing it to consume me...that's the trick. Feed the muse, write the stories/scenes, walk back into the light and survive...seems like a good plan.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Always Be Humble and Kind

This song has been resonating through my life lately. I liked it alright when it was first released, but it wasn't one of my favorites. However...the words are so important.

These aren't things we should have to think about every day. It should be a simple part of human nature. However, so many people aren't taught these lessons as they grow up. And if they are taught those things, they forget them as they age.

Humility is simple. You don't need to brag about the good things you do or how good you are at something. You just do it. There was a very crude comedian who spoke about how people are so quick to talk about their good deeds. He said that just because someone doesn't step forward and demand a pat on the back, that doesn't mean they aren't doing good things. They just do it and don't expect to be applauded for it. It makes me think of all the volunteers and people who work behind the scenes of organizations, but the CEOs are the ones who get the rounds of applause.

And kindness...well, that is just something not many people practice. People are so concerned about themselves and where they are going.They look at a mother with 5 kids, who are dirty and unkempt, and think she must be a horrible mom. They don't see the woman who just got off work, picked her kids up from their grandmother's where they made mudpies, then remembered that she needed to pick up food for dinner and didn't have time to take the kids home to change. They see a woman using food stamps to pay for her groceries, but has her nails done, is wearing designer clothes, and has the latest iPhone.  They aren't seeing that she is a single mom because her sister is in prison and she has custody of 3 kids she wasn't planning on raising. Her designer clothes came from the closet at the local woman's shelter so she could go on an interview for a better job. Her manicure is done at home and the iPhone is a gift from a friend who knows she needs to be able to be contacted in case of an emergency. People miss these things.

What should be simple things to offer others are the hardest because we judge people so harshly. You don't know everyone's story, their history, or their reasoning. I was always told that people in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks or walk around naked. Unless your record is spotless and you have never done wrong, then you definitely shouldn't be judging someone else. 

I find myself making snap judgments on people, then saying, "Gemma, humble and kind." If you look at people and situations through a different lens, you may just find that the world isn't quite as bad as media, politicians, or others would have you believe.

Words to the wise: Always take a breath before judging another. After all, unless you have walked in their shoes on the exact same journey, you have no idea of how a person became the person they are or why they make the decisions they do.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Oh, Grow Up!


Something happened the other day that sort of got this author wound up. Someone very near and dear to me made a post, a very mild mannered post, about how this political crap people are posting on social media had her unfollowing certain friends until after this election is over. She used two, count them two, expletives. A "friend" thought is was suitable to tattle to my near and dear's mother. Seriously? Are we in grade school?

As adults, we are supposed to be setting examples for our children, right? If we get all butthurt over the fact that someone doesn't use language we approve of or doesn't believe the same way we do, how do we expect our kids to grow up to be healthy adults? Yeah, I'm that woman. I don't believe in "participation" ribbons/trophies for sporting events. I believe that teachers SHOULD use red pens to correct papers. I believe that children should be allowed to stand up for themselves.

I am so over this generation of kids who have entered the world believing they are entitled to something. They are raised thinking the world owes them something for their existence. They don't have to study or train to prove themselves, Simply drawing breath means they are entitled. They don't understand the words "menial labor." Things like daily chores are a thing of the past in most households because little Jack wants to play video games or has football practice and little Jill NEEDS to be on her social media pages with her friends. Guess what, parents! You are not here to be your child's friend. You are here to raise children into adults who understand the world will say no more often than it says yes. That hard work and perseverance will get your kid further in life than buying them everything they want will. Discipline! Holy crap! Lack of discipline is why the world is falling apart. No one understands that there are consequences for their actions anymore.

There are kids on the college campus who are delusional enough to think that because they are paying for their education that they are entitled to the grades of their choosing. They don't believe they should study hard and have to work like the rest of the students.I actually had a boy (and I do mean boy) in a math class last semester who got upset when the professor told him she couldn't read his homework assignment. And I don't mean just got upset. I mean, He slammed his chair into the table, stormed to the front of the classroom, threw the remote controls for the projector, etc. at the professor, then slammed the door shut on his way out. Half of us were so busy taking notes that we didn't realize there was a problem until the remotes spit batteries all over the front of the room. And his punishment? He wasn't allowed to return to the class. Having heard this boy's conversations with other students I can tell you that he didn't know the meaning of criticism or hard work. He didn't understand that illegible work means the person grading your papers will simply give up no matter how well you're doing. He would often walk into class worrying about studying for other classes and ask other people for their homework. Poor over privileged punk!

This boy isn't the first I've heard of or born witness to either. You have student athletes who perform well on the field for their team, but can't pull their weight in classrooms. However, they get away with it because they win for the school. This leads to professional sports players who think they can get away with things like hitting their wives, raping women, dogfighting because "Hey, I'm a winner, right?"

We have generations of these kids growing up and getting away with things simply because they have talent or a name. And as parents and a society we are tolerating it. Why? Why are we raising these kids to be this way? What ever happened to having to work your way to the top? What ever happened to struggling to get that music contract? To playing in dive bars until you make it? What ever happened to paying the dues needed in any job to get to the top? Whatever happened to "starting in the mailroom" of a company? Can anyone answer this for me?

I have to work 40 hours a week plus go to classes plus write plus work out time for a personal life. I'm not complaining, I'm stating a fact. But, I can tell you why I am in school. To get an education which will lead me to a job where I can support myself in a better lifestyle than I have now.

Do you know I have actually heard girls on campus who are there looking for a man? They will only date guys with certain majors because "mom wants me to marry well." See, this is where being an introvert isn't such bad thing. I hear things like this. Not in just one class either. This is in the hallways, at the cafes on campus, all over. We are raising our girls to worry more about finding someone to take care of them than how to take care of themselves. Which just makes them prey for the boys who don't feel like they have to earn respect. Nice combination on a college campus, huh?

I know I've strayed a bit from the opening paragraph, however, these things go hand in hand. I swear like a sailor most days. I don't care. If people don't like it, they can walk away or unfriend me. I'm not going to be someone I'm not simply because you can't handle it. I don't say things on this page or my social media pages that I won't say to your face. If you get butthurt, well, that's on you, not me. I'm entitled to my opinion. There's this little thing called the Bill of Rights that my dad and my friends have fought to defend. You want to tattle to my mommy for things I say? Go ahead, who do you think raised me? My beliefs run deep because they've been ingrained in the very heart of who I am. Remember Mr. Charming Smile from my math classes? Yeah, we talked about this a lot. Being raised in a blue collar family, we learned hard work and discipline. We weren't handed things, we had to earn them. Our families taught us the meaning of what it means to be an adult even though it frustrated the fuck out of us at the time, but...we have a great respect for our families, our community, and ourselves. And that counts for something!

Teaching your children about discipline, respect, and responsibility isn't a foreign concept. But we are so worried about giving our children their own voices that we forget that theirs aren't the only ones. Everyone is allowed their's what makes this world so amazing. No one has the exact same beliefs and that is perfectly okay. What we forget is that if we shut up long enough and listen to the other person, maybe, just maybe we might learn something from the other humans on this planet.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

He Saw Her

To get back into the rhythm of writing, I've been writing short pieces based on writing prompts that get my muse up and running. This particular prompt was "Write about someone that most people wouldn't notice."

It made me think about myself and how I have tried so hard to blend into the background. I never wanted to be the center of attention. Then, one day, this man with a charming smile walked in with this energy that coaxed me out of my shell. I've been told by boys throughout my life that I'm beautiful. Gorgeous boys who are almost half my age (some even more so). And they get me to halfway believe that they are telling the truth. But there was something different about this guy with the amazing smile. He isn't your standard issue college guy. He's special. There is nothing boy about him. He's the first man I've actually spent time getting to know. And he actually made me believe that I was beautiful.'s a little writing piece for you:

She was nondescript in so many ways. She blended into the scenery and crowd. She was seldom noticed by anyone. She carried herself in a way that drew no attention. There was no wiggle in her walk. She walked with her shoulders back and her eyes on the crowd in front of her. She stared blindly in front of her, not noticing anyone. Her jeans and t-shirt or sweater attire made her look like every other college girls. Her body was hidden by her baggy clothing. She was full-figured with curves, but she didn’t accentuate her curves. She felt better hiding them away in a sea of sexy co-eds. The only thing that stood out immediately was her hair. It was blue-black with rainbows of color showing. Pinks, purples, blues, and greens drew the eye to the fact that she was no ordinary woman.
She sat in the back of the class and kept her nose in her book, earbuds in her ears. She avoided eye contact with anyone. Her eyes held pain and insecurities. She would diligently take notes and paid attention to the professor’s instructions. She never volunteered answers or asked questions; after all she couldn’t risk the chance of sounding stupid.
One day, a man walked into class. He caught the eyes of the quiet woman and smiled at her. Then, the woman who nobody saw did something that made her beautiful. She smiled at him. He decided in that moment to make it his mission to make her smile every chance he got. Because where no one else saw the beauty of this woman who attempted to blend into the background, her smile lit up his day. He made a point of telling her that her smile was something he missed when he wasn’t in class which only made her smile brighter. Her eyes danced with mischief and her laughter came easier each time. For an entire year, he made her smile, laugh, and her impish side came out to play.
He learned more about her than most people knew. She was easy to talk to and her teasing manner was fun to play with. She knew how to take a joke and could hand it right back to him. He opened up to her and let her into his world. He was the first person to initiate physical contact with the woman and, while it scared the hell out of her, she relaxed more and more in his presence until it felt normal for the touching to occur.

He knew someone had been unkind to her and made her feel as if she was less than she was. It raised his ire, but he continued to show the woman kindness. She opened her heart slightly and allowed him a glimpse at the sheer beauty of her. It wasn’t the clothes she wore or the way she styled her hair. It wasn’t her make-up or her shoes. It was the way her brain worked and the way he could make her smile like no one had before. It was the way her hand felt in his. It was the way she trembled when he touched her knee. It was the way her body fit against his when he took the chance to hug her. It was the way she sighed against his cheek as he held on longer than she expected. It was the way her hair tickled his nose and her scent lingered in his memory. It was the way he caught her watching him when he turned his head to look at her. It was the way she challenged him and made him question things. It was the confident way she gave him her phone number and encouraged him to use it. It was the way she was his personal cheerleader and believed he could do anything. It was the way their beliefs coincided. It was the similar ways they had grown up. It was so many things that made her beautiful. It was just the fact that everyone hadn’t seen her for what she really was…beautiful. What everyone else overlooked as a simple stone was actually an iridescent opal filled with color and fire if only it was held up to the sunlight and allowed to shine. 

Tell me what you think! Tell me about the man in your life! Tell me about how you find ways to stand out! Talk to me :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Blessings and Love

I was raised in a home where, no matter how much or how little we had, blessing others was a given. The belief was if you blessed others, then you'd be caught up in a storm of blessings. I can see the point to that, honestly. After all, I was taught that you never knew when you'd be entertaining unawares.

This is the problem though: so many people are preaching to others about how their religion is the right one, yet so many have forgotten about the blessing without conditions. And when it comes to entertaining angels, have they stopped to think that the homeless man or woman may be that angel, but what about the fact that your child could also be that angel? I know people who become so wrapped up in "serving" the church and community that they forget that they can serve their gods by being dedicated parents, too. The homeless man deserves your respect just as the elderly couple in your church do, do your parents, grandparents, children.

I know people who profess their religion, but don't live it. They gossip ferociously about the woman who shows up to Sunday services in a disheveled state, but they don't see that she has worked the night shift at a job she hates, but still shows up to thank her God for his blessings. These same people will give their time to the community events, but skip their kids' football games because they "don't have the time." They will offer to mow the yards or shovel the driveways of the elderly people in their church, but can't be bothered to do the same for their parents who live a block or two away.

As humans, we need to practice the faith of being good to everyone. After all, who is to say that the angel in your life isn't your mother, your son, your spouse, or your grandparent? Blessing others isn't a hard thing to do. But we are so determined that it is about blessing the people outside our family/friend units. We forget that they need to be blessed, too.

See that is the cool thing about love and blessings: they multiply when you give them away. But it multiplies tenfold when you bless those you love. They don't ask for too much too often. Sometimes it is simply a phone call to see how they are. Or maybe it is a couple of hours cheering them on. Or maybe even taking a plate of baked goods to them and visiting for an hour or so.

Why do we find it so hard to bless the world, but we forget the people in our families who need the blessings as well? What if when you get to the gates of wherever you're going after you die and you discover that the only religion needed to enter that space was one of blessings and love?

Monday, September 19, 2016

The House that Built Me

This song plays and my mind (and heart) go back to my childhood home. In an attempt to gain deeper knowledge about myself, I've been digging into the memories I have from growing up.

The house I was raised in was a family home. My great-grandparents lived there. My grandparents lived there. My parents lived there. There was history there. And not just history...MY history. The rooms I played in, my grandfather played in as well as my mother.

I remember lying in my bed at night and I imagined that I could feel the heartbeat of the house through the walls. Not in a creepy Stephen King way, but a soothing way. So many people talk about a house bursting at the seams. In my mind, our burst at the seams from all the love that had been created in that house.

It wasn't a house that would win awards from HGTV, but to me, it was beautiful. In the front yard stood a HUGE maple tree that, for years, held an old tire swing. One of the roots had grown above the surface and made the perfect step for us kids. There was a lilac hedge that grew the length of the front yard. The breeze would blow through them in the spring and scent the entire house. Tiger lilies grew out by the mailbox. Two large oak trees grew at the end of our driveway and a yellow maple grew in the front yard near the road. The willow in the backyard made an excellent hiding place until Mom trimmed it. *G* I can still see the clothes blowing on the clothesline in the summer breeze. Freshly washed and dried sheets just off the line are always amazing to climb into at night. I miss that feeling.

Inside the house smelled clean and filled with baked goods. It was a rare occurrence that Mom wasn't in the kitchen, baking something. Whether it was pies, cookies, or cake, she always had something in the oven. Then, there were the meals. On the cool fall or cold winter days, ghoulash or chili would simmering away on the stove with homemade bread in the oven. Spring and summer usually brought lighter fare like creamed potatoes with fresh peas.

As much as I cringed over the pink rosebud wallpaper in my room (wasn't quite the girly girl), I loved tracing the pattern as I sat in my bed reading. As I grew up, I added bits and pieces of furniture to make my own living space. I had the perfect little apartment set up. A living area and bedroom plus I used the hallway as a place to set up a desk. I loved having my own space to be alone.

Before we lost the farm, my summer days were filled with all sorts of things. Gardening, picking berries, taking care of the animals, and on those rare days with nothing to do, I'd pack a bag and take off across the pastures to the creek that ran along the back of our property. A couple of hard boiled eggs, a shaker of salt, a glass of lemonade, and a couple of cookies along with a towel and books, I'd set off for the afternoon. Getting lost in my own imagination was the best way for me to while away the hot summer day, dangling my feet in the creek.

I remember Saturday lunches of burgers, homemade fries, and malts while watching television. On occasion, Dad would get out his guitar and play. Summer evenings meant playing ball in the front yard once chores were done. Winter nights meant board games or television. If it were Christmastime, lots of baking. Dad would turn on the music and we would sing and dance while fudge bubbled away on the stovetop and cookies baked in the ovens.

Sure it sounds ideal, right? Let's not forget the arguments...especially when I became a teenager. Mom and I had more than our share of arguments that ended with either one or both of us in tears. Dad would tell me later how he tried hard not to laugh at us because we were often saying the same thing and both were so damned certain we were right. We learned that communication (at least for us) worked better if we wrote out our feelings. Often, I'd come home from school and there would be a note, written on stationary, lying on the stairs to my room. I'd read it, cry, smile and then reply. Then, I'd take my own note and put it on the counter. It's not that we didn't communicate. It was that we expressed our feelings better on paper. (Not a huge surprise that I became a writer after knowing this, right?)

When I left that house, my heart broke. I knew every nook and cranny of that old farmhouse. It was home. I have spent all of my adult life trying to have a home like that and I haven't managed yet. I've lived in many different places in a few different states, but home? Never have achieved that feeling. I'm still trying, but I've learned that it isn't necessarily the actual building, but the people who make a house a home. Of course, after re-reading this for any errors, I can see the truth. The house was just the storage place for all that love. It was the people who made that old farmhouse home. I'm still working on building a home my own to hold all the love that is created.