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Southern born, Southern reared. It's a quirky place and we are unique folk... These are my people and these are my stories.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What We Sleep Through

My dogs woke me at a little after 6 this morning.

I'd tell you to "go outside," but the truth is, my beagle would rather eat than take care of Mother Nature. I fed her, of course, and I took her out as well. As we neared the the sliding glass doors leading to the patio, I noticed the moon, full and brilliant, shining on the lake, which has been turbulent in the wind of late.

The sight was so spectacular, I had to go back inside to get my camera. It was too early and I was too tired to get the "really good camera." The "still quite good" camera was on the dining room table, anyway.
I wasn't sure if the lens could capture what I saw. But I tried. And I returned inside thinking, "What do I miss when I sleep?"

We have to sleep sometimes. And goodness knows I get little of it. But I couldn't help but wonder, what if I'd decided to say to the dogs, "Go back to sleep," turn over and do the same? What wonder of God would I have missed? 

Monday, October 29, 2012

And so I have become ...

...more contemplative.

Since 2010, I tend to think just a little more deeper. Longer. I ... contemplate.

So, I thought I'd share some of those contemplations with you. From my Southern perspective, if you will.

The Fall of the Year

The author's mother, Betty Purvis, March 2010 Livestock Festival Parade. 
Autumn, we also call this season. For a long time, I thought spring was my favorite time of year. The cold has been pushed aside. The leaves and flowers begin to bud. In my hometown, we held a Livestock Festival, complete with beauty pageant. On the final day of the festival, meticulously decorated floats, choreographed school bands and cheerleaders, grown men in funny hats riding on tiny tricycles, classic convertibles carrying beauty queens of all ages strolled, rode, marched, or drove down our dogwood and azalea lined Main Street. Sylvanians lived for this week.

And so I thought, I too lived for spring.

But, no. I went to Idaho this past week and experienced--for the first time in a while--the fall of the year. That time when we sing, "The autumn leaves, drift past my window ... the autumn leaves of red and gold ..."

I sat at a kitchen table, my hands wrapped around a warm mug of hot coffee, and watched those gold and red leaves do exactly that. Fall like snow. Spiraling downward. Autumn's dance of praise.

Author Photo Taken in Idaho, 2012
I told my hostess: this is my favorite time of year. The chill in the air. The look of a new season as leaves turn vibrant and then fall to the ground. This was the time of year when, as a child, I played outside, creating stories which only I played out. Stories of traveling westward in the 1800s. Life was primitive. Challenging. And, when I'd come to the open landscape ripe for building a new town (AKA, my back yard), I raked the pine straw that had made a blanket over the browning grass, forming small houses, merchant stores, a church ...

During one such autumn, our neighbor watched me from her home across the street. At some point, she and Mother met at the side of our home. Martha Nell declared, "She doesn't belong in this world, does she?"

Mother laughed and said, "She's always got these stories forming in her head ..."

She left me alone to create and act them out.

My father, on the other hand, encouraged me to write ...

Monday, October 22, 2012

"If I ever get you raised ..."

I've never been a contemplative.

Let me rephrase that. Before 2010, I wasn't a contemplative. Between 2010 and 2012 I found myself, not by choice, falling back-first toward the definition. Until then, I'd been a seat-of-the-pants person in nearly everything I've done. My whole life. Which is why my mother used to say (a lot!), "If I ever get you raised, I'm going to write a book." It wasn't unusual that my "not thinking" got me into trouble that my poor mother had to figure a way to deal with.

I have a memory of being sixteen. Being called into the school counselor's office. Being told I had enough credits, as a junior, to graduate high school and start something called The Senior Program, by which high school seniors left high school early to begin their higher education. While I could walk with my senior class the following early June, I would not actually receive my diploma (I received a blank piece of paper) until I had finished what I'd started.

I looked at the brochure in my hand. One of the possible fields of study for the program was nursing. I didn't think about it. I didn't pray about it. I didn't talk into the night with my mother and father about it. I simply thought, "Well, I like General Hospital ..."

...which is what launched my miserable nursing career. General Hospital. A lifetime career choice based on a soap opera. Seriously.

A few years later (too few), I met a man named John. He was cute. He was funny. He was single. So was I. I flirted (something I was very good at it those days) and he responded by asking me out on a date. And, the next thing I knew, to marry him. I'm not kidding when I say that I met him in September. By October I was engaged. By February I found myself crying, walking down the aisle. Crying because, while I hadn't given this engagement and subsequent marriage two seconds of thought, I knew instinctively I was making a huge mistake.

Thirteen months later--after what was probably the first time I'd ever even slightly thought anything through--I stood before a judge and asked him to dissolve the marriage.

I can think of only a few times when I've contemplated things. A few. But not many.

Let me explain why--and the explanation is simple: I move too fast.

And I think too fast. I wake up with thoughts whirling in my brain. All day long, thoughts. Memories. Future possible memories. Stories I've yet to write. The people I have created talking to me. Telling me what will happen in Chapter Twenty-one. Unless one of the other characters chimes in. In that case, what I thought was going to happen in Chapter Twenty-one happens in Twenty-two. When I sit down long enough to watch television or read a book, I constantly jump up to take care of this or that. Because, even when I'm totally lost in a show or a plot, part of my brain is still saying, "Don't forget to do this ... " These kinds of thoughts wake me during the night. My dreams are always vivid. Full of action. Talking. Words, words, words. To be a contemplative, I think, one must stop thinking with the brain and start thinking with the heart.

Oh, but those few times I have stopped ...

Like the night Linda Evans Shepherd and I went to see one of the last performances on Broadway of Les Miserables. For two hours, I was spellbound. Too caught up in the moment to think about anything but what was before me. And where I was at that very minute. In a ornate theater. On Broadway. In New York City! With a dear friend. Listening to the most amazing piece of artwork ever performed ...

Contemplation ... That was one. And there have been a few other times ...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Client and a Church

The woman introduced herself as Sue, but told me little about herself. She was all about her husband, Dan. He'd lived in Israel, she told me, as an NBC videoographer. Naturally, my ears perked. In his years working for NBC, he'd hobnobbed with the rich and famous and had some rather funny tales to tell.

"He's a storyteller, but he needs a good editor," she said. "Are you also an editor?"

I told her I was, that I had an editing business, which had become part of my writing life. She grabbed one of the bookmarks I'd just given to the clerk, asked me to write my name and email address on it, and said, "You'll hear from me!"

She wasn't kidding. I had an email before I even got home. Sue and Dan, who calls himself Danny, asked to meet me for lunch in Winter Park the following week. I agreed.

Dan "Danny" Beckmann wasn't anything like I expected. He's Robin Williams on speed. Funny. Articulate. Filled with stories that either leave your mouth wide open or your eyes squeezed shut from laughing so hard. Next to his lovely wife, Sue, who is lovely and poised, he's the pepper to her salt.

I took the project (and have loved every minute of it)!

A few weeks later I received a call from Sue telling me about a church service she and Dan attend once a month in Winter Park known as "Wellspring." Something about it sounded familiar, but not enough to make me say, "Oh, yeah! I've heard of it." Wellspring, founded by Jan Richardson, meets once a month in a Methodist church's chapel on Interlachen, she said, and she'd love it if I'd meet her for dinner on Park Avenue (one of Winter Park's most sought-after brick-laid streets). Afterward, we could go the the service together.

I agreed.

Praise God, I agreed!

I was standing at the corner of Anguish and Relief. Ready to turn. Left or right, it really wouldn't matter. I was about to step onto and into another part of my journey ...

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Timely Encounter

My book, Chasing Sunsets, had just released. In an effort to touch base with all the Christian bookstore managers in the Central Florida area, I packed my Jeep Cherokee with hot-off-the-press copies, a hand-drawn road map with directions from Store A to Store B and so on and so forth, and my trusty admin behind the wheel.

Her job was to drive, mine was to jump out at the stores, run in, introduce myself with a gift of a book and some bookmarks, and a happy-to-meet-you smile.

We went to the first store. The whole thing went well. And, I somehow managed to go into a bookstore without coming out of the bookstore without having bought, ah-yet, another book.

Then we went to Store B, which was no longer there.

Store C. Which we drove past. If we looked head on at the extraordinary long strip mall, the Family Christian Store was at the far right end. We had to enter the parking lot at the far left end. The mishap cost us a good two minutes. Maybe three. (That's important for later on.)

Cheryl drove toward the front door of the store, pulled up alongside it, and I jumped out. "Be right back," I said, then darted in. Just inside, I found the store empty (at least as far as I could see), save one store clerk who stood behind the counter to my left. She was talking on the phone.

I stood a few feet away, waiting patiently for her to end the call with the person on the other end, apparently a customer. When she did, I took a few steps forward and introduced myself, handing her the copy of my book. A hand reached over my shoulder--out of no where, it seemed.

"Did you write this book?" a woman's voice asked.

What the heck? Where did this person come from?

I whipped my head around to look at her. Tall. Slender. Angular features. Wild dark hair. Funky glasses. I liked her on sight, even though I still couldn't figure out where she'd come from. But that wasn't the greatest mystery.

You see, what I didn't know--yet--was that this phantom customer was about to bring a change to my life. A deep change. In a most unexpected way.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Something New ...

Since my last post, I've spent time thinking about what I want to do here.

I am first and foremost a Southern girl--a GRITS (Girl Raised in the South)--but, I'm changing. Not in my feelings so much about my heritage. I'm just changing.

If you've read my blog over the past several months, you know the last year and a half has been painful.These days, weeks, and months have stretched me in ways I never knew I could be pulled. I've gone through the stages of grief more than once. Up one side and down the other, as we say in the South. I've been lied to, lied about, thrown in the fire, burned, scarred ...

But somehow, I came out on the other side and discovered that the fire--the burning--did not char me; it refined me.

Like gold.

While I would give anything not to have had to endure these many months, and to get my old life back, I can't say I'm sad about the glitter and polish. And, right here, right now, I want to thank those who loved me through the worst of it. One in particular who heard my screams. My wails. Who listened as I beat my fist on the floor. Who understood as I threatened everything from homicide to suicide and knew I didn't mean it.

Well. Not really.

And in the  midst of it, God brought someone so special, someone who would change my life and who would lead me to others who would add to the metamorphosis.

I'd like to tell you more about her. About them.

Stay tuned.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Doing Something New & Different

I've decided to change things around here at my blog.

Not sure what the change will be, but a change is coming.

Stay tuned ... I'll be back, probably next Monday.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Monday's Musings on All Things Southern (a day late...)

So, how about a little funny about Georgia (my home state!)?      

Seems the owner of a golf course in Georgia was confused about paying an invoice, so he decided to ask his secretary for some mathematical help.

He called her into his office and said, "Seeing as y'all graduated from the University of Georgia, and I need some help, I'm gonna pose a question for ya. If I was to give you (pronounced ewe) $20,000 but wanted you to subtract 14%, how much would you take off?"

The secretary thought for a moment, then replied, "Ever-thang but my earrings."

(Shameful. I know ... but, I bet you smiled!)