Category: Simple Things


Happiness is….

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This!
This entire stack of papers —
21 sets of 26 lines of fabulousness.

Fabulousness because these kids are taking chances.
These kids are thinking.
They are planning.
They are sharing.
They are WRITING.

And more than that,
They are WRITERS!

And not just any writers….
But double-stuff writers who think deeply and share what’s on their 9 year old hearts.

6 weeks ago, these kiddos didn’t write.
They couldn’t.
They didn’t feel safe…

But now?
In the parodied words of Chombawamba….

We’re here to write.
And then we’ll write again.
There’s nothing gonna bring us down.
We’re here to write.

Writing the day away…..

Then sings my soul.

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Next week, 4th graders across the great state of Texas will take a test of ridiculous proportions.
It’s the Writing STAAR and there are people out there who honestly believe it measures the knowledge and know-how of our kiddos.

If only they knew —

What the kids go home to,
What they witness,
The challenges they face…

But also (and more importantly) —

The twinkle in his eye when he tells a silly joke,
The warmth of her hug when she greets you Monday morning,
The light bulb moments,
The wonderings,
The laughter.

And so,
This week before the test,
We go to Camp Write Along!

Nothing is the same at school.
We rally.
We sing.
We play games.

And we write.

We write… a lot!

But, first we sing.
To the tune of Tub Thumping:
“We’re here to write! And then we’ll write again.  There’s nothing gonna hold us back!”

And then we use Oreos as metaphors for good writing:

Oreos Thins?
Bare minimum…I mean, the basics are there, but who wants to read that?

Original Oreos?
That’s better!  The intro and conclusion (cookies) are more filled out and really frame things for the reader.
But something’s missing…

Ah, Double Stuff!!!
Now we’re talking!
Still have the strong intro/conclusion,  but now they frame something more! Something powerful and important because it’s the story of our writers!

And so — this week before the STAAR…
We write.
But we also sing,
And we play.
But most importantly we live and laugh.

And eat — I mean WRITE — good double-stuffed Oreo writing!

Then sings my soul….

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I’ve always loved mowing the grass.

Grass clippings.
Grass stains.
…and the smell!

I thought it was because it’s an accomplishable task.
All too often, those are hard to come by!

I thought it was because I could see my progress.
Don’t we all need those days?

I thought it was because it’s precious time outside.
Something I always need.
Always.

But it’s more than that.
It’s the time.
The time to think.
The time to ponder.
The time to remember.

Today – as I have every Spring for the past 6 years –
I thought of a friend from my childhood.

6 years ago, he stood on my yard – patchy from my (failed) attempts to rid it of stickers before we hosted the class reunion –
And teased me mercilessly about my landscaping skills.
I slugged him in the arm.
He wrapped me up in a hug.
And we laughed a laugh from across the years….

And a week later, he was gone.
Massive heart attack.
At 43….
Too young.
Too soon.
Too, too sad.

But somehow, someway,
Every time I mow the yard,
I remember only the good times.
The laughs,
The smiles,
The teasing….

I’ve always loved mowing the grass.

Grass clippings.
Grass stains.
The smell.

But, more than that,
The memories….

Then sings my soul….

Woke up this morning with joy on my heart and a smile on my face,

Coasting on a wave of happiness from the birthday love of yesterday.

Then it hit me!  It’s Saint Patrick’s Day!

I started searching for an Irish blessing to share with my friends as a thank-you for the many blessings they shared on the anniversary of my birth, and I was stopped in my tracks!

I love these!!!  Such rhythm!  Such wisdom!  Such…YES!

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Oh the places and times I’ve searched for just these words….

The birth of a child, the blessing of a marriage, the start of a day ~ This says it all!

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This one, I had heard before — well, at least the first few lines.

But what a wonderful sentiment as one sends a loved one down the road.

I whisper it today for my aunt and grandma as they travel to my grandma’s home just to check and see and breathe the air of her independence.

I sing it out for the Girlchild and her love as they run errands here and there.

I send it to the Hubs, my Mom, the Boychild….all who are making the commute on the roads that have more and more and more distracted drivers.

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Yes.  Just yes.  For all of the loved ones, all of the time, for all of the reasons.

But then there’s the one that ended my search….

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Oh, this!  It captures the spirit of the Irish as I know and love them (us!) most.

So with this, I will close with my Irish-German-English-with a smidge of Cherokee blessing:

On this day and every day,

may your steps be true,

your heart see joy,

your soul sing at the beauties of the world,

and the splinters never point the wrong way!

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Then sings my soul!

It’s usually my tag line,  but with these boys and their cousins, it’s where it all begins.

Then.
Sings.
My.
Soul.

I came into my stepkids’ lives when they were older.  
Their relationship with their dad was complicated,
And I wasn’t quite sure where I fit into the equation.

Over the years, I have come to know them as incredible human beings.
I love them dearly and I believe they love me.

And then came the grands!!!!
Oh my goodness!
The grands!!!!

Tonight I walked to the oldest’s baseball practice across town.
(Yes, walked….but that’s a Slice for a different day.)

I did it just for the chance to breathe some of the same air.

I knew he’d be busy.
I knew his dad – my oldest stepson – would be busy too.
But I knew I’d be able to see them in their element.

My stepson is step dad to this precious boy, our oldest grandson.
He is at every practice.
He is at every game.
He loves this boy…
And he parents this boy….
And he makes a difference!

And my soul does sing….

It sings to see the love and strength of their connection.
It sings to see the pride in B’s eyes.
It sings to see that B and he know right where they belong.

And then.
As the sun set over the field and the night hawks moved in….
When the evening couldn’t have been any more beautiful….
When it was time for me to walk back across town….
One of the team moms asked if I was I.’s mom.

“No,” I said.
“I’m one of the Grandmas.”

And I knew.
I absolutely knew….

I’m right where I belong as well.

Then sings my soul….

“I love your poems,” they said.

“You find poetry in the simplest things,” they said.

“Look at that. Another one,” they said.

“You’ve such a poet’s heart,” they said.

These things as Facebook comments??!!
WHAT??!!?

I never set out to write a poem.
That’s never been my intention.

I’d not thought of myself as a poet.
Not ever.
Not once.
Nada.
Nope.

But then I stopped…
And I thought.
And I read.
And I realized.

Yes.

It is poetry that flows from my fingertips.
Poetry that flows from my heart.
Poetry….
A direct line from my soul to the screen or the page.

And that’s so wild.
So completely and totally wild.

It’s not who I ever thought I would be.
But here I am…
And it’s me.

I think, not in paragraphs, but in stanzas.
I write, not in prose, but in verse.
I think…. I feel…. I dream….

(Oh! How I dream….)

And this, I believe, is why.

The more life I live, the more I come to see and to know
The power of the pause.

For life – the real magic and beauty of life – is in the pauses,
The dashes,
The ellipses….

Life is what happens BETWEEN the words.
BETWEEN the comments.
BETWEEN the lines.

Life is that single glorious moment when the sun splits open the sky at dawn.
It’s that split-second when the sun disappears over the horizon at dusk.
It’s the light in a baby’s eyes when Momma walks in the room.
It’s the flutter of the hummingbird’s wings.
It’s the newborn calf at it’s mother’s utter – it’s face covered in milk.

It’s the moments.
The pauses.
The seconds.
The frames frozen in time – in our mind’s eye – as we stop.

We stop.
And we notice.

We pause.

And if the pause is right…
It becomes a poem.

Whether we meant it to or not.

I never set out to write a poem….
Instead, poetry found me.

And, oh!
Then sings my soul….

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Those hands….
Those precious, precious hands.

Each Tuesday,  I travel to the next town after work.
I travel to visit.
I travel to talk.
And I travel to pay tribute to those hands….

Those precious, precious hands.
The hands of my grandmother.

95 years in the making.
95 years of living, loving and service.
95 years of hard, hard work.
95 years of nurturing….

95 years of love in action…
… through the bread she kneaded and baked.
the clothes she cut, pinned, basted, and sewed.
The veggies she planted, tended, harvested, and canned.

95 years of doing whatever it took for her family to thrive.
Cooking, canning, sewing…
Taking in ironing so that her girlchild could take piano.
Working tirelessly at home and out, if she had to.
Working the fields,
Working at the five and dime,
Whatever it took…

For the last 25, these hands have been solo,
Mourning their partners, my grandfather’s hands.
For 25 years, she has managed the house and continued to do all that she could — all while waiting for the day her hands reunite with his.

95 years…
and now frustrated by having to sit idle.
Hands at rest for the first time in 95 years….

Hands it is my honor and good fortune to pamper just a bit,
to thank with the caress of my touch,
the smoothing of her skin,
the trimming, filing, and shaping of her nails,
and the painting….in her favorite colors: Vivacious, Red Carpet, and Bubblegum.
The dolling up of those beautiful, marvelous, precious, precious hands.

God’s work has been mighty through
those hands.
God’s work is mighty in those hands.

Those precious, precious hands.
The hands of my grandmother.

Then sings my soul….