Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Writing on Cue

The Lightning and the Lightning Bug wants us to write uninterrupted for ten solid minutes. Didn't think I was up to the challenge, but I managed. Will you join us? Click the link below! 


Ten minutes of uninterrupted writing? You’d think that’d be easy, and for some, it probably is, but for me…the classic overthinker…this exercise has been torturous. I’ve thought about it while showering. While lying in bed at night. While eating my fruit roll-up for breakfast. While grooming my four cats. I’ve thought, and I’ve thought, and I’ve officially given up thinking at this point in favor of getting something…anything down on paper.

I’ve realized something over the last few days. I suck at “just writing.” I need a purpose. I need an idea. I need direction. Sitting down and writing just to write? Nope, that’s just not me and that kind of makes me ashamed. I should be able to write on command, right? Yeah, not so much. I’ve never been that kind of writer. I need just the right amount of inspiration mixed with just the right amount of motivation mixed with just the right amount of wine, then I’m set. But until I hit that “just right” point? I can’t just write.

When I thought of this prompt on Sunday, I thought, “yay! Something I can actually participate in.” Because honestly, I’ve been running short on the inspiration department lately when it comes to prompts and writing. I just don’t get inspired like I used to; then again, I figure I’m just going through a dry spell. Happens to the best of us, right?

Well, I’m sick of dipping my quill into a dry inkwell. It’s time to get that inspiration back…even if it means just writing for ten minutes about absolutely nothing other than writing, which is probably boring for anyone but me.

I picked up my novel again over the weekend. And by “picked up,” I mean I opened the Word document it was hiding in and actually started looking it over. I even wrote a few paragraphs tonight. 250 words to be exact. Which is 250 more words than I’ve written for it in nearly six months. Sad but true. Like my new determination to walk off my jiggly beer gut and live a healthier lifestyle, I’m also determined to write this damn novel.

That means spending less time surfing facebook and twitter and looking at cute pictures of cats on the internet, but it must be done. I have a story to tell, and I’m going to tell it.

It feels like it’s already written in my head anyway; I just have to find a way to get it down on paper, and I will. I’m determined. If it takes 5,000 nights of 250 word spurts, then that’s what it takes. Becky Garrett wants to be heard; she’s sick of living only in my head.

Well, my last minute is winding down. I guess I can write on cue after all.


Monday, May 28, 2012

One Potato, Two Potato

Less than a month ago, the hubby and I were well on our way to growing roots and being couch-bound for the rest of our lives. We were on a fast road to nowhere, and considering we were only in our twenties, our sedentary lifestyle was becoming something of a joke.

Something had to give…and if anything, it needed to be our guts.
For a long time, I had a somewhat reckless view of my own eating and exercise habits. I was of the opinion that life was too short to diet and exercise. Basically, I thought to myself, “Self, I could die tomorrow, and if I do, I want to enjoy my last few meals to the fullest!”
With that attitude, I really could die tomorrow.
Y’all, I wasn’t just eating badly; no, I took eating badly to a whole new level.
Junk food for breakfast. Junk food for lunch. Rich, greasy food for dinner. Beer, wine, or soft drinks with many of our meals. I’m ashamed to say that it had gotten a bit out of hand.  
Growing up, I wasn’t a big fan of food. I could take it or leave it, and more often than not, my parents had to beg me to eat anything at all. My food of choice was junk food then, too.
Most of that changed when I met my husband. He loved food and introduced me to things like sandwiches and pot roast, and because of his influence, this long-time picky eater finally fell in love with food. Head over heals, in fact, and my normally fit figure fell with me. Since I met him back in 2006, due to our eating habits and our couch potato ways, I’ve gained nearly 30 pounds.
My extra weight hadn’t really bothered me until…it happened.
Back in February, I attended an event for work. Nothing major, a career day for a bunch of middle schoolers. My primary goal was to not scar them for life.
Mission probably accomplished. 
Scarred children aside, a local newspaper photographer was also at the event, snapping candids and then taking a posed group shot at the end of the day. 
I'm not the biggest fan of having my picture taken, but at the time, I thought nothing of it. Then one happy April day, a co-worker brought in a newspaper clipping with that spectacular group photo on it in all its black and white glory. 
I usually hate pictures of myself. I'm possibly the most un-photogenic person on the planet, but this was bad even for my standards.
Slouchy. Paunchy. Icky. Those are the three words that came to mind when I saw myself.
That photo was officially my wake-up call. It was time to get healthy. 
Luckily, I have another couch potato joining me in my endeavors: my husband. During our month of eating better and working out (and by "working out" I mean walking around our neighborhood instead of sitting on our couch), we've learned a few things we thought we should share with our fellow couch potatoes who may be thinking about pulling up their roots:

1) Gnats do not taste good. We walk at about 8:00 each night to avoid the heat of the day. Unfortunately, avoiding the heat means we have to encounter wicked little gnats, which try to fly into our mouths, noses, and eyes...with much success. I've swallowed a couple of the little suckers, which is a wholly unpleasant experience. Trust me.

2) You can get a stitch in your side just from walking. I never would have thought that I was so out of shape that I could be in physical pain after strolling around our neighborhood. I was wrong. After a few weeks of walking, the stitch doesn't come quite as often, but man, when it does...

3) You shouldn't try to jog after only three nights of walking. There's a natural order to these things. Don't try to speed that order up...you may end up coughing up a lung.

4) Your iPod is your friend. The Glee soundtrack that is on permanent loop on my iPod is an excellent walking partner. The upbeat tracks pump me up and give me just the right dose of energy to keep me from giving up too soon. Of course, they also make me want to dance...which for the person walking with me may or may not be a good thing. 

5) Fashion is everything. On our first few nights of walking, Jeremy and I were totally unprepared fashion-wise. We walked in jeans. Jeans. What were we thinking? Since then, we've realized the important of proper exercise clothing. It really does make a huge difference.
6) It could be worse. This one comes from the hubby himself, who thought he'd much prefer couch-sitting and video game-playing to an active lifestyle. "It's not as bad as I thought it would be" is about the best endorsement you're going to find from this former couch potato. 

And that's true. It could be worse....worse being where we were a month ago with our poor eating habits and days spent sitting around doing nothing. I'm loving our new active, healthier lifestyle so far...despite the gnats, stitches, coughed-up lungs, and that overwhelming urge to dance. 

Source: tumblr.com via Lesli on Pinterest

Hanging out with the fabulous folks at yeah write!
read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Monday, May 21, 2012

We Are Young

Sitting on the mountain, on that already sweltering early May morning, I almost wished I could steal their youth from the air. It felt electric, energized, and I breathed it in as if it might take me back ten years, to where they stood now.

I envied them. I envied the hopefulness and optimism that now coursed through their veins, like a sweet elixir fueling their dreams. I remembered feeling that, too, all those years ago; I remembered the possibilities that seemed just within my grasp; I remembered looking forward to a future in which I would finally call the shots.
But at this particular graduation, I noticed the students experiencing something that I did not remember, something that just wasn’t a part of my high school experience. And for this, I envied them even more.
Fifteen graduates were lined on that stage. Fifteen unique, vivid youths ready to conquer the world. Only fifteen. Not thirty. Not 100. Not 500. Only fifteen.
Their experience was unique, enviable. Lovely. Most of them had grown up together. Thirteen years together. Not rare but still unique in the fact that their class was so small, forever bonded by memories, experiences, and friendships that more closely resembled family.  
My high school years, on the other hand, were neither unique nor enviable. I expect that my experience resembled the experience of many. I was a wall flower, invisible, a lone wolf. I didn’t fit in with a particular clique, so I didn’t fit in at all. I was too different, too weird, too everything.
When I sat waiting to graduate that May evening all of those years ago, I don’t recall feeling particularly sad. I knew I would never miss those high school years of heartache and pain. I knew I wouldn’t miss being lonely, being self-conscious, being an outcast.
But the fifteen who sat on that stage in front of me now, they taught me something new, something valuable and sweet that I’ll hold on to for years to come.
They were sad, sad not only because they grew up together and were going to miss each other but also sad because they were going to miss something infinitely more important, something that was impossible to get back.
I’m still young. At twenty-nine, I’m not one of those women who laments about how old I’m getting or worries over the years ticking away. I try to live a youthful life, with laughter, trips to Disney World, fruit roll-up lunches, an over-abundance of cats. You know the usual.
But when I was waiting to graduate, waiting to walk across that stage and into my new life, I wasn’t thinking about what I might be losing, what I would never be able to get back.
These kids were. You could tell it in every word they said, in the tears streaming down their faces. They knew that the days of after-school snacks, of family dinners, of tears in their parents’ arms, of bike rides with the neighbor’s kids, of catching lightning bugs at dusk—those days were coming to a close. This moment, a proud, exciting moment was the beginning of something new, but at the same time, it was the ending of something equally important, something that is precious and fleeting and beautiful.
I tried not to cry with them as the graduation came to a close. I struggled not to grab the hand of my Daddy, who was sitting next to me, and hold it like I did when I was a little girl. But I kind of wish I had.
These kids were incredibly lucky. Lucky to have grown up in the comforting, supportive arms of a very small school. Lucky to have found each other and the friendships they so obviously treasured. But even more than that, they were lucky to be wise enough to realize that saying hello to the future also meant saying goodbye to a pretty darn good past.

Once again, I'm with my friends at yeah write. Hope you'll do yourself a favor and click the link below to meet some wonderful writers and friends.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Friday, May 18, 2012

Patchwork of Love

Today, when driving in to work, I heard a phrase on the radio that I completely fell in love with. Two women were talking about their parents and how the relationship between their parents had shaped their lives. One of the women described seeing her mother and father exchange loving, tender glances. She stated that such moments helped build and shape a patchwork of love that would endure into her adult life.

Patchwork of love. Such a beautiful thought. When I heard the words, I immediately imagined a huge, intricate quilt with vivid and unique patches, woven together with a myriad of different threads. I imagined that my own quilt could stretch far across the sky, wrapping the Earth itself in a warm, comforting embrace.
There would be patches of the strangers who darted in and out of my life and yet left an indelible mark of kindness.
Patches of animals and pets, their fuzzy souls making everything more fulfilled and complete, their friendship filling a gaping hole of loneliness through so many heartbreaks.
Patches of friends, those I can touch and those I can only speak to through words on a screen, but all of those who reached out and whom I reached out to for a lasting connection of laughs and tears, shared happiness and fears.
Patches of memories. Of Pawpaw. Of vacations to Florida. Of Easter egg hunts and Christmas mornings. 
Patches of the family I so adore, the blessing of a lifetime, the genesis of my own patchwork of love, the memories shared, the bond of blood, the certainty that if I ever need them they’re always just right there.
Patches of the man I love, the partner and friend. Patches of his hugs and kisses and the comfort of his smell and the sweetness of his heart. Patches woven together across great distances with a strong thread that cannot be broken or cut or torn apart.
I am blessed with patches of many shapes, sizes, and colors, but as beautiful as my own quilt is, I find myself even more marveled and mesmerized by the patchwork of love of others, by the differences I see in each. Because truly, the most incredible thing about a patchwork of love is that not everyone's will be built the same or look the same. 
Some will be sewn together later in life, past the dark days of an undeserved childhood, past the void left empty by those who should love you the most. Some love has to be built from the ground up with a family that may not be from blood but is instead from the heart. The threads of this patchwork are like steel.
Some, the lucky ones, are born with a patchwork already started for them. From the moment they are conceived, so is the soft quilt that will envelope them through childhood and on.
Some will endure rips, tears, burns. Some may even begin to unravel at certain times, but they will be sewn back together. They will from this darkness be stronger than ever.
Some patchworks...most I would say...will revolve around family. Families of all shapes and sizes and colors. Families brought together by the only thing that really matters: Love. These are the patchworks that will be so alike and so different. These are the patchworks that we all must embrace because of that common thread, that universal thread that bonds us all, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or gender. 
Patchwork of love. Such a beautiful thought, and the even more beautiful thought is that each person carries with them a patchwork of love and that each one is stunningly unique and yet always tying us together with that common thread of love. 

What does your patchwork of love look like? 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

To the Mother

To my Mama, who kissed away tears and hugged away fears, who taught me to love, to be kind and respectful, who shared everything with me from wisdom to wishes, who stood hand-in-hand with my Daddy and made me who I am today.

To his Mom, who raised such a selfless man, who raised such an intelligent man, such a goofy and loving man, who raised the man who would be my soulmate, my best friend, and my partner.

To the Mommy, who kisses a toddler's boo-boos, who looks at him with her heart in her eyes, who found the love of her life and the sweetness of a child's hugs.

To the Mother, who didn't have to be a mother, who chose to be the best mother they could ask for, who chose to raise them right, who chose to love them with her entire heart.

To the Mother, who is yet to be, who waits patiently and wishes and hopes and dreams, who will one day be who she is meant to be, will one day love the child she is meant to love.

To the Mother, who has gone away, who watches out from above, who is always in your heart, wishing all the best for you and loving you from far away.

To the Mother, whose chicks have flown the nest, who wrestles with her babies having grown up, who is always there for you even when you're the adult she dreamed of.

To the Mothers, who struggle everyday, who juggle everyday, who stress and worry and love anyway.

Happy Mother's Day

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Source: tumblr.com via Roy on Pinterest

Truth is I’m boring. An ordinary twenty-nine year-old woman hiding behind fantastical stories and characters I can only dream of knowing. I grew up in an ordinary hometown. Was raised by two ordinary, if not amazing, parents. Had an ordinary, if not happy, childhood.
I’ve not traveled very far, no further than my own country for sure. My most exciting vacations have occurred in Florida: Orlando and St. Augustine, Pensacola and Cape San Blas. I’ve been to Texas, California, Illinois…and no further.
Truth is I’m a bit of a homebody.
My simple pleasures in life are eating a good meal, cuddling on the couch with my husband, tending a small vegetable garden. Nothing too exciting, pretty ordinary and boring I guess.
I wonder sometimes how it could all fit together. An ordinary woman from an ordinary town writing, or at least trying to write, extraordinary non-fiction and fiction. I don’t have a vast well of exciting experiences to draw from. I’ve not been in many relationships. I’ve not even had that many friendships. I’m pretty much a loner with loner tendencies attempting to weave together words in an appealing and interesting way.
All of my heroes had fascinating and exciting lives. They were expatriates and war heroes, serial womanizers and alcoholics. They traveled extensively and walked on the fringes of society. They were the Hemingways and Faulkners, the O’Connors and Poes.
They were tortured and unstable. Artists driven by pain and passion.
I’m cheerful. Happy-go-lucky.
Lower middle class.
Ordinary and boring.
The closest I come to tortured and unstable is with social anxieties and neuroses. And yet, I write…just like they did. I’m driven to…just like they were.
Not all writers write from dark places. I understand that. Not all writers lead romantic, sensational lives. I understand that as well. But these heroes of mine did, these extraordinary talents who inspire me and whom I aspire to be like were never ordinary or boring…at least by this fan’s approximation.
So how does ordinary, boring me expect to follow in their footsteps? Where can I find inspiration and passion that’s equal to theirs?
The answer is…everywhere.
In the twisting limbs of the ancient oak tree that grows just down the street, watching generations come and go and change with the wind.
In the smiling, toothless grin of the construction worker who’s working hard to bring air back into my office building.
In the laughs and shared secrets between me and my husband, whispered late at night to the summer song of crickets and hoot owls.
In the ordinary, boring days that drag on too long and yet never last long enough.
In the ordinary, boring life of a woman chasing her dream and catching handfuls of wishes-come-true along the way.
I don’t have to travel the world (like Hemingway). I don’t have to drink through pain and sorrow (like Faulkner). I don’t even have to marry my cousin (like Poe). I just have to live life and perhaps look a little closer for my inspiration…because what may first appear to be ordinary and boring may actually be pretty extraordinary after all.  

Where do you find inspiration? In grand adventures or everyday blessings?

Speaking of extraordinary, have you visited yeah write yet?
read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mouse-Earing the Pages

150 days. 150 days stand between me and a Disney World vacation.
Although I’m counting down, I won’t wish this time away. The precious days leading up to our trip will be spent preparing, planning, and looking forward.
Basically, I will be turning into what those in the Disney know call a theme park commando.
You know my type. I schedule bathroom breaks between rides on Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I map out the perfect route to Toy Story Midway Mania, so that when the ropes drop I’m first in line. I peruse the various restaurant menus, picking out the perfect entrĂ©e, beverage, and dessert.
It’s all pretty obnoxious. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that I get on my own nerves with all the Disney-centric talk, research, and all-consuming preparation.
But I can’t stop. Like a woman-possessed, I pore over Disney World-related websites, print out planning guides, gobble up secret tips. I’ve even started buying clothes for the trip, carefully selecting t-shirts and shorts that will be both comfortable and cute. There’s a special section in my closet where they all hang, tags still intact, waiting for their big day.
The really sad thing is (and there are many sad things here) that once I get to Disney World all of this planning will have been for nothing. We basically do whatever we want to when we want to, which is how vacation should be in my opinion, but up until that moment when we do arrive, every minute of the trip will be scheduled and overscheduled and rescheduled and back again.
And y’all, I don’t even have kids. This is a trip just for me and my husband, a fifth-anniversary celebration to the most magical place on Earth and one of my all-time favorite vacation destinations.
It may seem pretty strange at first: a childless couple in their twenties choosing to go to Disney World on vacation. Isn’t Disney World for kids, you ask? Well, yes and no. It’s for kids, but it’s also for grown-ups. For the adults who refuse to give up fun and goofiness and everyday magic.
Even Walt Disney himself believed that Disney shouldn’t be intended for kids alone, saying:  “You're dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.” And I guess that’s what Jeremy and I are: kids at heart with obsessive compulsive vacation planning tendencies.
At this juncture, I’ve just about exhausted all of the planning and preparation options available to me, and believe me, there are a lot.
So this weekend I’m going to begin what I refer to as the Disney World Extravaganza notebook, a compilation of all of the menus, planning tools and tips, reservation confirmation documents, and other Disney World odds and ends, all combined stylishly in a pretty green notebook that matches our even prettier green Disney luggage.
After that, we will have around 145 more days to fill with excitement and anticipation, and therein lies my problem. When I’ve already done everything there is to do to prepare, what else is going to be there to get me pumped about the trip?
Ugh. See? Obnoxious.

What do you do to prepare for vacation? Are you a vacation planning maniac? Any tips on how to best enjoy the preparation and counting down?
This post is part of the Disney Blog Carnival. Just click on the link for great Disney-related articles and blogs!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I Was There

I was there...

...as a little girl, tucked tight with you in Mawmaw and Pawpaw's guest room, kicking you awake constantly with my flailing legs and arms. You probably hated having to share a bed with me, your annoying little sister, but I loved those nights; excitement would rush through me, the thought of a slumber party with my big sister would nearly overwhelm me. We'd lie awake and whisper to each other, sister secrets shared in the dark and away from adult ears.

I was there...

...helping you decorate for prom. Ducking behind you when your cute friends would come around. I lived in awe of your high school world, crushing on boys way older than me and worshiping you as the princess that you were. I was always just on the outskirts of your world, separate but a part of it because you allowed me to be a part of it. And those times when you didn't allow me to be a part of it? Well, I'd just tell on you like the brat that I was...and still am.

I was there....

...as we grew older, the nine years separating us became fewer and fewer, though the physical distance between us expanded. Friendship blossomed, and we were there for each other in new ways. Georgia Tech games, trips to Disney, phone conversations that would last for hours. Tough times came and went, and we had each other through it all; sisters and best friends. No one understood us like we understood each other, through both joy and pain.

I was there...

...when your water broke and a new adventure began. Labor didn't stop you from doing loads of laundry and offering to drive yourself to the hospital. You've always been strong like that...even when you think you're not, you are. The strongest person I know. And then you gave us Garrett, sweet, unique, handsome little Garrett, a new bond between us, another branch of love.

I was there...

...to watch you become a mother. Years of practicing with me, offering love and guidance, made you a pro. You handled the transition like a champ, though stresses would come and go. You began raising a polite, caring, and very nearly perfect little boy. Jeremy and I would talk about your skill and patience with him, the way you seemed to be born to be his mother.

I was there...

....and I am there. Through it all. Thick and thin. We're sisters. Alike in so many ways and just enough different to make it all more interesting and fun. I know I can call you anytime. I know I can count on you for pep talks and sharing tears. Miles may still separate us, but no distance could dampen our friendship and support of each other. Thanks for being the best big sister. Thanks for putting up with me when I was an annoying tag-a-long and tattletale. Thanks for seeing me through heartbreak and sadness. Thanks for sharing the many happy moments that build our lives.

And happy birthday!

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