Monday, August 30, 2010

Where I Come From

In the South, we were raised to treat others with respect. My Mama raised me to say "Yes and No. please and thank you." Not huh. That is so disrespectful.

People plan their schedules around football season. (I'm one of the rare people who doesn't like football, though).

Guys (and girls) go muddin' Yes, that's how it's said. You would be slapped if you said mudding. That just wouldn't be right. Muddin' is where a group of people take their trucks and get them so dirty, you won't even recognize them or their vehicle when they come back. Sometimes, they wait to wash them because they know it will just get dirty again.

We find any excuse to eat. Some people even make up reasons. For example, a job promotion calls for a dinner. If a friend comes over, it's impolite not to ask them to stay for dinner. Any holiday is a given. Every Sunday is marked off as a family dinner with all the fixin's. Fixin's is just a word that means all kinds of side dishes: Baked beans, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, green beans, etc.

Tea is our drink of choice. I prefer mine sweetened, please. Some don't, but I don't think there is any other way to drink it.

We do have phrases that most people don't understand. For example, we say, that child is a mess!" We mean she is mischievous, not unclean.

Some people say, "He/She is a pistol!" This just means the child is very rambunctious.

Bless you (or bless her heart) is another common phrase.

My Grandaddy used to say, "I'm going to cloud up and rain on you!" if we did something we weren't supposed to do.

We say y'all. It's part of our vocabulary. I have family from up North who say you'uns instead of y'all so different places say different things. That's what makes the world go 'round!

"I declare!" is something that both of my grandmothers have said when something has taken them by surprise.

Daddgumit! is something people say when they are frustrated.

Grits are something some Northern people know nothing about. Grits are commonly ate at breakfast (but are sometimes served later in the day with shrimp). Some like them plain, while others prefer cheese. I love grits. If you haven't tried them, I encourage you to!

Hush puppies is another food that we love here in the South. Yep, they are fried bits of dough. They're commonly served with fish and a side of tartar sauce. If you don't know much about the South, we love fried foods. As I always say, everything in moderation, though.

Sweet potato souffle is a yummy dessert we enjoy here in the South.

I've shared a little about where I live. Now, it's your turn! What state/ country do you live in? What makes it unique? I can't wait to read your responses! I'll randomly pick 10 comments (if I have that many) and spotlight them in a post!

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Letter's Journey: Waiting

For the previous edition, click here.

Days passed with no response. The silence was almost deafening. "A simple thank you would be nice," she thought to herself.

She dared to hope that things would change. Dominique loved him in spite of everything. It still hurt. It hurt beyond words to give love, yet get nothing in return.

Out of boredom, she checked her voicemail. That unmistakable voice was on the other end. "I just called to invite you to dinner. Let me know if you can come," he said. Dominique dropped the phone as she caught her breath. Why could he not be thankful that she wrote him? The world did not revolve around him. Instead of getting anxious over nothing like she had done in the past, Dominique said a prayer.

"Father, help him to see Your love for him knows no boundaries. Heal his broken heart. Help me get past my hurts so I can help others get past theirs. Show him I am not the same person I once was. Give me Your peace as I deal with this in the days to come. Amen."

Instantly, Dominique felt better. She would wait as he came to terms with the time that had passed. She would wait for him to deal with his issues, but patience didn't come easy for her. In the meantime, Dominique would pick up the pieces of her life one letter at a time.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Memories Rewind: Granny’s Clothesline

I watched as Granny hung each garment on the clothesline. The sun was shining so bright I had to squint my eyes. Papa's old flannel shirts flapped in the breeze beside Granny's flowered house coats.

There was something magical about that clothesline to me. I was intrigued by the simpleness of it. No whirring of the dryer. The clothes became drier as the day wore on. The next day, Granny would take her brown clothes basket to gather the clothes. One by one, she slipped the clothes pins off. It was almost as if she had her own rhythm.

I stopped at the sliding glass door, lost in my own thoughts. That old clothesline had been in the backyard for years. The rough hewn posts were sturdy and solid. They told their own story, marked by the pelting rain and other elements.

I hurried inside as Granny came in. I grabbed a shirt and pressed it to my face. The smell of freshly cleaned clothes was intoxicating.

Now, most of us use washing machines. I still remember that clothesline and am overcome by feelings of nostaglia. It is a reminder of how quickly times change.

P.S. Here's a friendly reminder to vote for my friend Tanya. She's doing well, but the competiton has gotten tougher. If you like her essay, click the vote button at the bottom of the screen. Click here to read her essay about food.

Image Credit:
Microsoft Office Clip Art I haven't had a chance to get a real picture of my Granny's clothesline. Depending on the weather today, I may be able to get one of the real thing.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Small Town Memories

Blogs are filled with people from big cites, so I thought I'd give my two cents on being from a small town.

Well manicured lawns dot the landscape on Benson Street. Houses with columns and graceful arches beckon you inside. Several houses make me wonder what kind of family lives behind the doors.

The Pre-Fourth Extravaganza is the closest thing to a big celebration that your going to get. Oh, you might get bit by a few mosquitoes, too. My brother has always glared at me because they don't bite me for some reason.

(Almost) everyone knows you and your family. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. If you need a cup of sugar, it's a good thing. If you don't won't everyone in your business, it's a bad thing.

As kids, my brother and I could play outside late at night without fear of strangers because we lived out in the country. We had a few neighbors, and that was it.

In a small town, you go to school with the same people from elementary school through high school. Some of my best memories were made during those times, too.

You will see plenty of churches as you drive through our town. It's almost equal to the number of eating establishments, but I haven't counted. :)

Family is very important. Trips to Wal-Mart are a close second.

As I'm writing this, I'm thinking of many things that apply to the South. Another post is brewing in my head faster than I can type, so stay tuned for that one!

Anyone else from a small town? Do you have anything else to add to this list?

Friday, August 20, 2010

True Colors

Looking through a kaliedoscope © Barbara Bar 
Have you ever thought you reached a mutual understanding with someone only to realize you couldn't be more wrong?

That happened to me recently, but I waited to post it because I wanted to be sure I crafted my words with care. Someone I know had made some subtly rude remarks about disabled people a few years ago. I wrote them an email, and they thanked me for telling things from my perspective. I forgave them and moved on.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. A friend of this person said they believed in helping disabled people. I couldn't believe it. It saddened me to think a friend who thought they knew what this person stood for didn't really know them at all.

How can you judge someone [for their limitations]* when you are in a box yourself? I'm talking about a box that dictates what you say and to whom you say it. Be real with those around you. Don't put up a facade to impress people because your true self will eventually come to light.

It was almost as if I had been punched in the stomach as I read those words. You can't say you help disabled people when you don't even take the time to talk with them. Helping the disabled isn't about treating them like they are less than than human. You have to sit down and be willing to hear their story. Yes, this means making yourself vulnerable. Someone who truly listens is so rare these days.

*I don't really think of disabled people having limitations. Society does because they don't know what to do with people who don't fit into their mold of what normal people do. In my opinion, disabled people challenge others to think outside the box. How else would wheelchairs that can climb stairs be bulit? Yes, they do have an attachment that's made so wheelchairs can go up and down steps. Here's the link for those of you who are interested.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Memories Rewind: My Favorite Place

Today's Memories Rewind is going to be a little different. I'm going to share a story of mine that got published in my middle school literary magazine Da Bone.

Everyone has a favorite place. I'm no different. When I think of my favorite place, a smile of warmth creeps across my face. My favorite place to be is in my room looking at the sunset.

I lay there in the evening looking out my window and marveling at the sight. The sky is like a big canvas painted with colors of depth and richness. The sun is like the center of a flower with sprinkles of the finest dust inside it. The colors around the sun accentuate the whole picture. The beauty of the sight makes you feel as if you could just jump right in it.

I know you may think that your room isn't a good place to view a beautiful picture, but just looking out of a window can open the door to the beginning of a wonderful imagination.

Keep in mind I was in sixth grade when I wrote this. I have learned a lot about writing since then. Name one your favorite places.

P.S. Today is my fourth official blogoversary, but as you know, I say it's the second blogoversary because I took some time off when my health declined. Welcome to all of my new followers! I'm thinking about a giveaway, but nothing has been made official. Stay tuned for details.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mish Mash of Questions

This accidently posted early(as in last week when I was editing it), so I apologize to those of you who didn't think I posted today. Those of you who faithfully read were rewarded. :) I was recently tagged by Kelly from MayShe Dream to do a Q&A post. These are questions that she made up, so this should be fun!

1. What's your favorite musical?

Phantom of the Opera without a doubt. We had to watch it in my high school chorus class. I can identify with the phantom because he had facial deformity that he was mocked and taunted for. While I don't have anything wrong with my face, I've endured my share of teases and jokes from people because of my disability. I have a lot more to say about scars, but I'm saving it for a future post.

2. What's your worst fear?

I guess I would have to say water. I almost drowned when I was younger, so that really scared me. I've taken swimming lessons since then, but it takes a person with patience and understanding of my disability to be able to make that work. I have done pool therapy in the past, so I'm not opposed to it at all. I've just had several bad experiences with people I thought I could trust.

3. Favorite outdoor activity?

Sitting outside on the porch or roasting marshmallows. I'm not hard to please.

4. What do you wish to achieve by 2011?

I want some answers in regards to my pain. We are headed in the right direction. I had an appointment a few weeks ago, and we are trying a new medicine. I have to go for a follow-up appointment in a few months. I'm taking things a day a time. I don't really have any major life goals coming up next year. For now, I'm still going to college.

5. What's your most loved food?

I love spaghetti, especially my Memaw's. The homemade marinara sauce with a side a garlic bread is like heaven on a plate.

6. If you got the opportunity to travel, were would you most love to go?

I would love to go to Spain. I always like to see how other people live, what foods they eat, etc. They have such a strong sense of family there, too.

7. If you had a 100.00 dollars/pounds what would you spend it on and why?

I would spend it on books. I just recently made a list of books that I'd love to read. You can never go wrong enriching your life with knowledge. It will always outlast material things like clothes and jewelry.

8. What's the most magical moment of your teen years?

My teenage years were filled with many surgeries which meant that I didn't get to get out of the house much, but their is one memory that I will never forget. My youth leader called after one of my surgeries asking if I would be able to come to church that Wednesday night. When I asked why, he was very mischievous. I said we would be there. When we arrived, my entire youth group yelled, "Surprise!" They had cake and chips, but the most special part was a card that they had cut out in the shape of my name. Inside, everyone had signed it.

On the back, they drew a bar code and put "We Care" in place of numbers. I was speechless! It meant so much to me that each one of them put thought into making that night special for me.

I tag whoever wants to do this. :)

Here are my questions for you. These are completely made up.

  • What movie would you use to describe your life? Why?

  • What is your favorite dessert?

  • If you were sent on an undercover mission for a day what would it be like?

  • Would you rather be able to travel back in time or be invisible?

  • Name one guilty pleasure.

P.S. Here's the link to one of my Picasa web albums if you want to see the details of the card bigger. If I do huge pictures in my posts, it messes with the flow of the words. Yes, I could do them just plain centered, but I like to mix things up a bit by having my pictures to the left. I bet some of you just got Beyonce's song stuck in your head, didn't you? You can thank me for that. :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Fresh Start

School is in full swing. I've got my syllabi's and have already started working on assignments. This may sound crazy, but I always like starting back to school. Dare I say, I almost anxiously await the start of the new semester because the school work keeps my mind occupied. Otherwise, I focus too much on my pain and get down in the dumps. It's not a pretty sight, my friends.

I'm excited because this semester I'm taking even more classes that pertain to my major. I'm the first Communication major at my school to be in a wheelchair, so they have had to modify the video stuff just a little. "I'm willing to work with you if you're willing to work with me," I said. I'm blessed to be at a school where my professors want to see me do well. They have went above and beyond the call of duty to help me since I've been there. (Shout out to all of my EC classmates and professors!)

Things are a little different this time. I'm doing three classes online (along with some traditional classes), which I don't mind. I've done them before. As long as you keep up with the assignments and ask for help, you're OK. Don't worry, the blog will be updated, I probably won't have time to comment on many blogs during the week, though. That's what weekends are for. :) I'll still be reading your posts.

What's new with my readers? I want to know!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Memories Rewind: Simple Pleasures

Memaw went to the freezer to grab a bag of frozen peaches. The whole family looked forward to Cheek's orchard opening up so we could get a few bushels of that fruity goodness.

The peaches thawed out, so I grabbed my bowl of peaches. I'm a no fuss kind of girl, so I just added a little sugar. "Grandaddy, "Do you want some vanilla ice cream with yours?"

"Now, you know I've never turned down any ice cream," he said. Memaw put a few spoonfuls on top of his peaches. Soon, all of us grand kids were around the kitchen table. Somehow, everyone came running when food was involved. You didn't have to say a word.

I took a spoon full, and my taste buds were on the ride of their life. Those peaches were just sweet enough, but not too sweet. Before I knew it, my bowl was almost empty. I couldn't tell if I had a stomach ache from the peaches or feeling sad because they were gone. I licked the juice off the spoon and turned up the bowl. I wasn't going to let one drop of that sweet nectar go to waste.

What is one of your favorite fruits?

Monday, August 09, 2010

What Is Love?

America is obsessed with this idea of love. You know, the kind of love that is written about in Hallmark cards. This love is overflowing in the form of flowers, cards, and dinners. Guess what? This kind of love is silly compared to the kind that I’m going to tell you about.

This love knows no boundaries. This love is waiting with open arms for the hurting, for the old, and for the young. This love is still available when you royally mess up. You don’t have to call a 1800 number to feel it either. Still confused? That’s okay, most people are. I’m talking about the agape love that Jesus Christ has for each of us. Yes, even for the sinners who think there is no way to get on God’s good side.

I believe that love is all about perception. I may see love in a knowing smile or a silly laugh. You may see love when someone does something nice for you because they want to, not because they have to.

You see, God didn’t have to sacrifice His life for us. I’m so glad He did! He could have said, “I’m not enduring torture.” He gave His everything when we were headed nowhere. He loved us enough to help us, even when we couldn’t help ourselves.

The love in the movies isn’t reality. The movie producers pocket millions of dollars when they show us what the ideal couple looks like. Wake up, people! Love is an action. You can’t treat someone badly and expect them to fall at your feet. Love takes work. Love is a commitment. Love means being in it for the long haul. Love goes over roadblocks with ease. I don’t know about you, but I think we need to realize that we have it all wrong. I’ll take unconditional love over that I wanna feel good love any day!

P.S. School starts back on Thursday, so look for an update soon! Oh, thanks to those who have already voted for my friend, Tanya! I know she really appreciates it. Click here to read her essay about food. She will win $10,000 if her essay is chosen by voters. (As always, you can vote once a day.)

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Finding Joy in the Journey

Since I've had a few rough days, I thought I would cheer myself up. Having a good attitude is a choice, you know?

When I'm laying in bed dealing with muscle spasms, I'm thankful for the sunshine outside my window.

I'm thankful that I have two good hands to type with when my legs have to rest. I've had to refocus here recently. It's not about breaking a record when I sit in my new chair, it's about doing something. Anyone can whine about their situation, but not many do anything to change it.

The breeze blowing is a welcome visitor in this sweltering heat.

A funny story told by my mom makes me laugh through my tears.

I have a song in my heart even when it seems like I shouldn't.

My brother putting on a funny looking hat makes me smile anyway.

A good book leaves me feeling refreshed and thankful for what I have.

I'm not where I used to be, and I'm not where I want to be. I can say that I'm getting there with each step. Living with a disability is a journey. Heck, living life period is a journey!

What are some things you're thankful for?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Memories Rewind: Finding Treasures

We woke up refreshed and ready to go. The beautiful sunrise in Panama City was beckoning us to come outside.

Eli and I ran out ahead of our parents because we were on a mission. Our Mama taught us at an early age that the best seashells are found in the morning. I grabbed a rusty white pail, taking my time to pick out the most interesting ones. Eli, on the other hand, grabbed every shell in sight.

"Look how many I found, Madison!" he said. I turned back for just a second. Eli swooped in with a flick of his wrist and plopped a black and white shell into his bucket. Ugh. Brothers.

I moved away from him. I was going to find my own shells. I bet they would be prettier, too. I soon forgot about his mischievous ways when I found a beautiful sand dollar. "This is so cool." I muttered to myself.

Afterwards, I loved to take each shell out of the bucket and let the salty water wash all the sand off. I carefully laid each one back in the bucket to dry. I couldn't wait to show Mama what I had found! I found a few more shells that day, but as the sun was coming up over the water, I ran to find Eli. Being by myself wasn't as fun as I'd thought.

We collapsed into the sand and turned our buckets into shovels. We were going to build a sand castle and a darn good one at that.

What was your favorite thing to do at the beach?

P.S. I need your help! One of my friends has entered Anthony Bourdain's Medium Raw Challenge. She has written an essay about memories of food in her Mammaw's kitchen. Click here to read it and vote. (You can vote once a day). Voting ends September 30th.

Monday, August 02, 2010

In Between

I gazed at the beautiful photograph as summer-time childhood memories danced in my head. The hydrangeas contrasted beautifully with the rustic fence. The blooms were bright and full, so inviting I could almost smell them.

“This bush finally had blooms about 5 years after I planted it," my friend said. "I don't know whether to say I was patient on waiting for it bloom or stubborn because I wanted to leave it planted there. Turned out nice, though."
I wondered how many of us would have left the bush there for that long, when it seems like it wasn't producing. Still, she left it there because she loved the plant. Five long years had passed with no blooms, but now the plant is flourishing. The photo was beautiful, but no one saw the waiting period. That plant was getting ready to blossom in the midst of the dry spell. Anyone can marvel at the bush's beauty now; only a gardener could appreciate the process.

You may be like that hydrangea, feeling dry and lifeless with no blooms to show that you are growing. Don't pull up your roots just yet! You could be on the verge of something great and miss out because your life doesn't match the picture you had in your head. Just because you're in a seemingly lifeless spot where time ticks by slowly, doesn't mean what God told you in the previous seasons has changed. His Word is still the same!

How many times have we wanted to move from where we’re planted? If we do, we will miss our opportunity to bloom.
Image Credit: My friend, Christina Duncan