Saturday, April 16, 2011

Short and Sweet

"Here's to good women. May we know them. May we raise them. May we become them."

Wish I could claim ownership to the saying. Simply spied it on a wall hanging. I'm happy to be able to pass it along.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Pine Straw Playhouse

Goodness, it was a hot day. The last weekend in February on the Gulf Coast brought with it spring time temperatures that crept daringly close to summer heat. My assignment was to rake a season's worth of pine straw from the back yard. Blistered hands and a sunburned face tempted me to yield to the siren's call of the sofa. Suddenly, something pretty wonderful happened.

A light breeze began to blow. It was not strong enough to stir my piles of pine straw and undo my hard work.  It was, however, strong enough to stir something precious...a memory. I closed my eyes, enjoyed the breeze and jumped back in time.

As a preschooler, I spent many spring and summer days with my grandparents in their getaway spot- a small travel-trailer that sat on a wide open space filled with the trees for which the piney woods of southeast Texas are appropriately named. Pine straw littered the beautiful expanse. For most, raking might be viewed as an unwelcome chore. To my grandmother, the pine straw became the means to transport her precocious granddaughter to a magical place where imagination and creative juices ran as swiftly as the waters of the streams in nearby woods.

With rake in hand, she swept the carpet of pine needles into neat rows, a few inches wide and several feet long. At her direction, I would skip along beside her, picking up and piling up the pine straw this way and that. To the unimaginative eye, this was simply a series of rectangles and squares connecting and intersecting. To my grandmother, this was the blueprint for a Pine Straw Playhouse.

"How many rooms do you want?" she asked.
"As many as we can have!" I squealed.

We built the rows about six inches high--higher in one corner for a 'fireplace'. We then sat down and with eyes closed, we used only our imagination to decorate each room (including a white canopy bed and fluffy pink bedspread for my bedroom.) We furnished the entire Pine Straw Playhouse with only the power of our imagination.

Back to reality, I stood still in my back yard; the memory of this sweet and uncomplicated day was so powerful. It filled my heart with an odd combination of melancholy and delight.
As I opened my eyes, I smiled. No one else was around. No one else was even home. It was just me. Me and my memories of Mama and the Pine Straw Playhouse.
I strolled to the middle of my back yard and slowly, I began once again to rake. This time, I raked the needles not into random piles, but into straight lines. They ran this way and that. Rows of pine straw connected and intersected. I piled it up high in one corner for a fireplace, and used my mind's eye to decorate each room as I went along. The time flew by. The grumpiness and fatigue I'd felt earlier melted away.
The flashback to the Pine Straw Playhouse reminded me of the importance of finding fun in our daily routine, and of the importance of creating memories with those we love the most.

It's true what they say.
The best things in life... aren't things.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Someday Shelf

I can't remember a time when I didn't want to write. Whether I was six years old writing a story about the old lady on the train who had purple hair... or forty-six years old writing about my interview the First Lady of the United States (who most certainly did NOT have purple hair) I've always found satisfaction committing my thoughts and experiences to the written word. And, that is why we meet today.

I spent nearly thirty years of my life as a television news reporter, writing practically every day about someone or something.  I love my new life as a speaker, corporate trainer, life coach and author. But, I often wake up at night with random stories, thoughts and ideas rolling around my head, waiting for a nice piece of journal paper (or laptop screen) to call home.

I need my sleep.

So, my writer's mind and I have made a deal. If it start this blog, and begin putting  those thoughts into print.... I can rest easy. And, maybe, just maybe, you'll find some words here to encourage, motivate and inspire you. I hope you find Words to Live By.

Today's topic: The Someday Shelf

I did something last week that I hadn't done for 32 years. I registered for college classes. Yep. I'm heading back to school to finish that degree I abandoned when the brass ring of TV News swung my way. You see, at the tender age of 20, I decided I couldn't possibly balance my brand new position as full time reporter with school. Breaking news waits for no algebra assignment. So, now, at the age of 52, I'll tackle a real balancing act: running a business, speaking at conferences, writing books, being a wife and mother...and school. Go figure. Time really does have a way of altering one's perspective on time management... and on what's important.

Earning my degree was always something I'd planned to do. Someday. It was one of those many goals to be attained, trips to be taken, letters to be written, games to be played, songs to be sung, people to meet, recipes to be cooked, sunsets to view... that I stacked away in that place in my mind and life I call The Someday Shelf.

Earlier this year, my youngest daughter enrolled in college. As I sat on campus one day during the registration process, I found myself staring at the entrance to the Admissions Office. Suddenly, like the glaring red "On Air" sign I'd faced all those years in the television news studio, the words "SOMEDAY IS NOW" began flashing through my mind. "SOMEDAY IS NOW!"

I tried to talk myself out of it. For about thirty seconds. Then, like a child jumping off the diving board into the deep end of the pool for the very first time, I held my breath, walked to the Admissions Counselor's door... and jumped.

I start classes in a few weeks. I'm looking forward to Literature, Psychology and Public Speaking (imagine that!) Math? Not so much. If all goes well, I should finish up in two semesters. Someday is within my reach.

Many friends who learned of this have sent words of encouragement my way in recent days. Please know, though, I am not wise, brave, or the other nice words they have ascribed to me. I'm simply at a point in life where I realize that, with apologies to Uncle Jed Clampett: "Time's a wastin'," and it's time for me to begin tackling those things I'd shelved for Someday.

Best of all, I've heard from friends who have now decided to dust off their own Someday Shelf. They are re-evaluating where they are in life, and what they want to do with the rest of it. Some are joining me in heading back to school. One is enrolling in art classes. Another is about to begin a weight loss program. Another will attempt to stop smoking.

What about you? Do you have a Someday Shelf'? It doesn't matter how old you are or how busy you are. It doesn't matter what's kept you from pursuing your dreams and goals in the past. That's just what it is: the past. Today is a new day. Why not decide today to take just one step to make just one dream happen? Then, take another step.. and another.. and another. Just one step at a time. You'll be glad you did, and if you want, I'll be there to encourage you.

Would love to hear your stories about your own Someday Shelf. In the meantime, I would appreciate your wishes and prayers for good luck and good grades because SOMEDAY IS NOW!