In light of heavy personal and national news, I thought I’d share a fun, absolutely meaningless post about the evolution of my hair AND where I’m going with it henceforth. If you know me personally, you’ve experienced the craziness. And for all of this, I must give a shoutout to the Jennifer Mudd! Appreciate all the creativity you bring to the art of hair because we both know none of this was my doing!
The road has been my home as of late. One day in the Appalachians and the next, the Rockies. My schedule has been rigorous and taxing, to say the least. All a part of the whirlwind of finishing up this degree and beginning another.
All that to say, I appreciate your patience, in my blogging absence. I often think of much I want, nay… I need… to write about, but lack the time to fully devote myself. Most of my writing lately has been given to my thesis. I hope to soon have a free bit to write…. I have much on my heart and much I want to hear from you.
I pray that Lent is treating you well. That you are praying and reflecting and taking time to find that which resonates with you. A song. Another soul. A sunset. May this time of waiting and fasting be one that brings you an other-worldly perspective.
May you feel. May you know. May you heal. May it be a miracle.
Fill me in on your Lent season. Do you celebrate Lent? What are you learning or unlearning?
At 6 weeks old, I was gearing up for my very first airplane ride in which I would wail unceasingly from take off to a Caribbean landing because I felt that my ears were going to self-implode into tiny bits. I didn’t quite understand the principles of cabin pressure. But you know, who really ever does? Shortly thereafter, the airline my mom worked for issued a memo that non-revenue passengers traveling with children under six years of age, must sit in coach and not first or business classes. So I may be the reason for that. This is my formal apology to the world.
From BNA to DFW to SFO to LAX to ORD to MIA to JFK, growing up, getting out of bed in one city and laying my head on the pillow to sleep in another city was not an uncommon occurrence.
Sometimes we’d catch a Miami sunset while eating dinner at the MIA Hotel atop the Miami airport… sometimes we’d sleep on the floor of Chicago O’Hare because…well, we all know how crazy Chicago weather and delays are. In our usual manner of flying stand-by, I remember one trip in which we were trying to make a flight to Cancun but ended up in San Juan because there were absolutely no open seats to Mexico. On another trip, torrential downpours and subsequent flashing flooding, left my mother and I stranded at JFK in New York City. No planes were going up and none were coming down. After 14 hours of trying to find a seat on any flight to any northeastern city, she and I decided to rent a car and drive 22 hours to our destination of Prince Edward Island, Canada. We’ve been split up, delayed, re-routed, separated from our bags, bumped off flights, and everything else that could possibly occur in the airline industry. I can recount more stories about awkward TSA pat-downs than you probably care to hear.
You see, I am a proud product of an airline family. My beautiful mother was employed for 25 years in the airline industry and so the ins and outs of air travel became second nature to our family. It is as much a part of me as music or writing or biology is. Travel speaks to my soul like nothing else can. Airports are a second home. They offer a comfort that I can’t really even quantify with due justice.
Somewhere in those years of planes, trains, and automobiles, I fell in love with all things travel. Can you identify? What is it about airports that suck us in?
Maybe it’s that airports are so similar to life. Exciting, unpredictable, subject to change, stressful, uncomfortable, diverse, confusing, able to produce an immense amount of joy
An airport is a microcosm of society… the diverse ethnicities, ages, occupations, socio- economic statuses present… and yet, unlike society, passengers have one goal. To navigate safely to their destinations.
And we are all equal on this day… on this trip.
We are all subjected to getting verbally nabbed by TSA agents and randomly selected for pat-downs and full body xray machines. We all forget about the liquid rule and end up having to throw away perfectly good hair spray. We are all delayed together. All stuck like cattle in security’s winding line. We all must endure the mile long concourse walk at various airports (for the love, somebody has got to do something about Charlotte’s concourses). On a flight at 35,000 feet… everyone is equal… regardless of socioeconomic status or race, our fates on the flight are the same. Turbulence together. Together we choke down in flight meals that have all the consistency of plastic. Two by two foot bathrooms together. Our souls draw us somewhere else, but in this space and time, we are all doing life together. Lives on hold, in limbo, together.
At an airport, journeys converge. So many folks are leaving, departing for another city or country. Departing for new beginnings. Departing for humanitarian aid trips. Departing for job interviews. Departing for weddings or funerals. Departing for much needed and long awaited vacations. Departing this season of life.
And then, conversely, many are arriving. Arriving to fall into the arms of loved ones. Reunited parents. Reunited lifelong friends. Reunited siblings. Reunited military families. Reunited lovers. Beginning a new season. All at the arrivals gate.
Somewhere in the cacophony of airplanes taking off, bags coming off the belt, PA announcements of final boarding calls, the hum of coffee makers, the goodbyes of loved ones, the grinding metal of jet bridges retracting, and monorail doors closing… I hear a symphony.
Airports draw me in, promising to take me somewhere beautiful, and give me equality along the way. I guess that about all I can ask for in life… and it is more than enough.
If you are reading this, you are going to need to tell me a travel story. Tell me anything… funny, hectic, something memorable that popped into your head as you read this post! Ready, set, go!
Let’s just be honest, out of the four seasons, fall is the most dramatic. She is the loudest and most vibrant. She takes up all the space in the room. You just have to pay attention to fall. She’s the one at the party who’s had a little too much punch and is graciously singing Celine Dion to everyone. Her fancy name is autumn equinox (Sept. 22) and in her honor, I’m blogging about what she means to me. And I’d really love to know what she means to you!
When I think of fall, I think of school deadlines, pumpkin- scented candles, mulled cider, camping, chilly nights, over-sized sweaters, long bike rides in state parks, eating waxy candy corn, chili with sour cream, long prayers during the sunset, little fellas dressed up in handmade or store-bought costumes. I remember each year that my grandmother showed up at my family’s front door with a scary Halloween mask on, magically changing her sweet voice to something wretched. I think about couch cuddling, scraping the frost off my car, smelling the wood burning in the fireplace, and jumping up and down in place for warmth. I think about cute scarves and hot, homemade casseroles. I think about the excitement of the upcoming holiday season and all the traditions accompanying it.
I think about fall funerals and fall birthdays. As I think about the changing of summer to fall, I think about how people come and go for certain seasons of life, making me even more grateful for those that persist, walking with me season after season. I think about how leaves are actually the organs of the tree and even though the trees lose such vital appendages, they still survive, even thrive come spring.
What does fall mean to you? What fall traditions are you looking forward to?
If you are reading this, know that I’m sending you love this fall. Hoping that you’ll be kind to yourself this season, hoping that you’ll do things to fill yourself up and make you remember that your story matters, hoping you have conversations with inspiring friends that help you believe in yourself again.
Be sure to let me know some of your fall traditions!
Recently, I embarked upon a northern road trip to the Land of Lincoln…the Prairie State… the Midwest… Illinois. A cousin’s yellow-and-orange-misty-eyed wedding instigated the journey north. My mother, grandmother, and I decided to make this last minute trip with the eager anticipation of hugging dearly missed relatives. Fellowship was the goal here. And it was one that was met with great fervor.
Crossing the state line, we were welcomed into IL with the gracious hospitality of my grandmother’s brother and sister-in-law, Uncle Sherman and Aunt Sue. These two are quite the pair and I can very honestly say, some of my favorite people in the world. Sherman is the quintessential Great American Prairie farmer. He was born on southern IL soil and has farmed the same soil for 70 years. He has a relationship with that land that I can only gaze at from afar with my city girl eyes. He’s got to be the most patient man and teacher I know; people always remember meeting Sherman because they immediately notice the kindness in his eyes. He married a beautiful woman named Sue; she truly is his better half. Sue has the uncanny ability to make anyone she converses with feel as if they are extremely important and their story matters. She really just cares. And she cooks a mean butterscotch cookie.
Disembarking the interstate, country roads led us to Sue and Sherman’s farm. We passed through small towns that made me feel like I had gone back five decades to the days of yesteryear America. Let me tell you, I got a great view of the town square, since I had to circle it multiple times after we spotted a much needed post-office box. I later learned that for Sherman’s 50th birthday, Sue and company kidnapped him, robing him in one of her lovely shawls, and paraded him around the square in an antique wheelchair. Apparently the square has multiple uses as grooms used to push their new brides around the square in a wheelbarrow. Boy if that doesn’t speak romance, I don’t know what does.
Waking up at Sue and Sherman’s is quite the experience. After a sufficient amount of coffee, I was met by Butch the pet turkey. He looked at me as if I was the species who was out of place; I decided he was right and quickly maneuvered myself to a different part of the barn. Don’t get me wrong– I have a great appreciation for the avian species, I just figured I’d appreciate from afar.
About that time, I heard the approaching roar of loud machinery coming into the front yard. I grabbed my camera and ran over to see a large John Deere combine. Now, you may know what a combine is, but let me tell you, I did not. So I’ll explain. This is a massive piece of machinery that is used to harvest six rows of corn at a time. Sherman spotted my wide eyes and asked if I wanted to ride with him. Naturally inquisitive, I did. As I ascended the combine ladder, all I could think about was how I should be tweeting this memorable moment.
As it turns out, I didn’t have the time because we immediately set off to harvest the corn. In his infinite patience, he explained to me how the combine cuts and thrashes grain; he also lent me much insight into a farmer’s world. As he was driving, I noticed the sun spots on his tan, calloused hands. Hands that had farmed for years. Hands that made corn grow. Hands that made love grow.
After half an hour of talking, Sherman pulled the big combine brake and announced that it was my turn to drive this baby. I was pretty sure I heard him incorrectly, but when he started to switch seats with me, I knew he wasn’t kidding. I thought about explaining to him that I can barely work a toaster or that just last week, I managed to break a toilet handle at work.
As it turned out, I didn’t have time to explain any of this as I took the pilot’s seat. I figured this was kind of how life goes– it forces you into something, you aren’t qualified or even quite ready for. With much trepidation, I let the brake off and began aligning the combine to harvest the next six rows of corn. Sherman believed I could do it, so I did too. With his patient voice guiding, I farmed. And as it turned out, I had no time to tweet. Life was happening and I was busy.
About halfway through the weekend, I started to get wrapped up in the 80 items on my to-do list and the internet access that I didn’t have. I started to worry about deadlines and the busy week ahead. But then the night wrapped up with a long-time family friend coming over to extend hugs and lots of laughter. As we sat close laughing about old family mishaps, I realized that this was my to-do list. This moment. And I needed to be present.
Sometimes we are so caught up with the future, that we fail to live presently.
Sometimes we need to slow down and say, this person matters. These people matter. I need to give them the dignity of my full attention. I need to be in this moment because this moment will never come again. I need to embrace this love, this laughter, this joy. Because if I’m not careful, the life I am so eagerly awaiting will pass me by without my noticing and all I’ll have to show for it is a marked off to-do list.
As we finished up the weekend singing hymns at the old country church down the road and to the right, I realized, the Land of Lincoln taught this city girl a lot more about life than just how to drive a combine.
So tell me, what life lessons have you been learning this September?
Songs that are a must today:
1) “As Is” — Ani Difranco
2) “Crash Into Me” — Dave Matthews
3) “The Path of Thorns” — Sarah McLachlan
4) “Fire and Rain” — James Taylor
5) “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” — Aerosmith
Any suggestions for Tuesday? Share with the world!
I don’t have much to say tonight… primarily because I don’t functional well in the later night hours; however, I felt like I should update the blog. I’ve enjoyed the past few days very much… the small things of life can be the most comforting and memorable. Summertime vegetables grown, cooked, and shared with friends. Friendly smiles. Watching an old beloved TV show with other appreciaters (yes, I made up a word). Airports and airplanes. Ladies in the boot camp gym class. Same-page conversations. Apples to Apples. Laughing with people you love. Teaching awesome girls. Catching up with friends over Sweet Cece’s. Good hugs. Running. Sleep. Quality time. Thinking about the future. Hope. Love.
Don’t you love summertime sunsets that last well into the late evening? For me, sunsets are a time to stop… to reflect upon the day I just lived. Did I live it well? Did I love well? Did I live with passion and without apathy? Did I grow? Am I fulfilling my purpose? Did I smile enough, hug enough, cry enough, dance enough, laugh enough, hope enough, pray enough? Sunsets are unique because they only last for so long…then they are gone… kind of like our days. They only last so long..and then they are gone. Are you making your mark on the world? “If today was your last day and tomorrow was too late…. “
Tonight, the family piled into the car and made our way to a place that has a very special place in our hearts where my dad grew up; it is so meaningful to me because I experienced man of my childhood happy moments there.
Strattons, a blast-from-the-past 50’s diner, is an icon of this small town. It sits on Main Street, welcoming any and all visitors to the little city of Ash trees. It has been around for years as the place to go when visiting. It has served many teenagers as the hangout after a Friday night football win at Cheatham County High. It has served many chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla milkshakes through the years… whatever a heart desired.
On a more personal note, it was the place that Gran and I often frequented. It was a treat to come to Strattons because I got to hang out with Gran and Aunt Beth (whom I affectionately call, Peptobismol–PB for short) and undoubtedly, we’d swing by Strattons for a couple of small hamburgers and a shake.
A couple weeks ago, I received word that Strattons was closing, the owner selling, and a Walgreens was set up to be built. A part of my heart broke just a little bit… maybe its because I still associate that restaurant with my Gran. And all I can do these days is associate memories and places with her because she’s gone to the other side of glory.
So the family piled up today to visit Strattons for the last time, as it is set to close its doors a week from today. Along with my grandpa, we arrived at Strattons and waited quite some time for a table; it seemed that everyone else had the same idea. It is quite a small establishment, but very cozy. The walls are lined with old Coca-cola and Orange Crush plaques, pictures of yester-year America.
Once we got settled into a booth, we ordered our favorites for the last time. A strawberry milkshake and a BLT for me please! As we sat and talked, I began looking around. I saw family after family sitting, laughing, recalling memories from this beloved restaurant. I began to realize that this building wasn’t just a building, but it was an idea as well. It represented the seasons and years that had passed with it welcoming those into the little town. It had seen both the joyous and lowly moments of residents. The feast and the famine. I had eaten and celebrated there on many occasions with my beloved Gran… but also cried there after her funeral. It had seen many people through the seasons of life… something that a Walgreens could never accomplish. Through thick and thin, Strattons was there.
As our food came, a customer walked up to the old-time Jukebox and put his money in to play a song. I wondered what his selection would be. Would it be a feel- good footloose song? Would we all get up and dance? No…it turned out to be something even more appropriate. “Hey Jude” ….Paul McCartney…the Beatles…a relic of a generation that is now fading. Just as Strattons will soon fade. It will only exist in the memories of those who loved it through the years. We are in a new decade, a new season of life, and though that brings a twinge of pain, it’s a good thing. We must grow and change…and love… we must love today…in this moment…in this season, because things and people change. Its inevitable. So love while you get the chance. And make memories of a lifetime. Thanks Strattons for the memories; thanks for making me smile.