Jun 132010

We’re not coming back. We’ve decided to stay and live in our sweet little water town.

Nothing monumental happened to help us decide. It’s all the little things.

It’s drinking our morning coffee on the front porch swing, and watching the sun set into the bay after the babies go to sleep. It’s wondering if we’ve enjoyed the sunset long enough, so we can get our ice cream and hurry to our beloved couch and tv.

It’s that I haven’t bought anything but food since April 1, and even so, I can’t think of a single thing that I need or want.

It’s that I quit locking our front door, and started leaving the car keys in the console.

It’s that we’re a WE here. Instead of 5 I’s…we’re a WE. What little there is to do, we do together.

It’s letting Amma do the driving on most of our errands. She’s only two, but she can maneuver that golf cart like nobody’s business.

It’s watching Chase stroll down to our dock with his net thrown over his shoulder like an Asian Tom Sawyer. It’s seeing him joyfully catch NINE SHRIMP, MOM and together driving the golf cart over to Bubba’s and Tisha’s to sell Bubba the shrimp. It’s giggling with Tisha while Chase and Bubba haggle over shrimp prices, finally settling on ten cents a shrimp. It’s watching Bubba hand over the ninety cents, grumbling about inflation, knowing that the second we leave he’s gonna pour those shrimp right back in the bay.

It’s roadside time-outs in corn fields. Nothing fixes a whiny road trip faster than pulling over and placing a shocked little naughty Melton bottom firmly between two stalks of corn. It’s smiling and waving to all the concerned passersby, while Tish screams, “MOMMY! YOU CAN’T JUST DO THIS! IM IN THE CORN!!

It’s that I’ve found more space in my day and heart to let Tish be Tish. If the girl wants to spend thirty minutes deciding which pair of wool tights to wear to the beach on a ninety degree day…so be it. We’ve got time. It’s discovering that she is so beautiful with a tan, so brave when she jumps off the dock into the bay, so gentle, so often, with her baby sister. It’s noticing that she’s actually not just a challenging part of my day. She’s a whole person, with her own days. Some of her days are harder than others, like mine. It’s noticing her more.

It’s walking to my mama’s house a few times a day to talk things over. That one could keep me here forever.

It’s finding out, along the way, that this place isn’t perfect for us. Nowhere will be. That was important to accept.

It’s that recently at church, our minister Valerie asked our tiny congregation for announcements. An elderly lady in the choir stood up in her shiny blue robe and held a spoon in the air. Not a special serving spoon, just a plain, metal cereal spoon. The dainty elderly choir lady said very slowly, “I think someone left this spoon at my house. I thought it might be someone from church. If it’s yours, I’d like to get it back it to you.” My eyes widened and immediately searched the sanctuary, expecting to see the knowing smiles of people tolerating this woman who was boldly spending their precious time on a single spoon. Nope. In fact, everyone was smiling earnestly at the choir lady and the spoon, including Pastor Valerie, because they were both theirs. The choir lady and the spoon. And they, the choir lady and the spoon, deserved to be treated with respect. And I thought, Oh, My. I have much to learn from these people. Because they know that God is in the details. They know that old ladies and spoons are infinitely more important than time.

It’s that I haven’t colored my hair or waxed my eyebrows or painted my nails or used a hair dryer for two months. I like figuring out what I actually look like. A little shabby, but not TOO shabby. No complaints from Craig. I read awhile ago that it’s not how a woman looks for a man that matters to him, but how she looks at a man. I’ve been testing that theory. So far, so good.

It’s Wednesday afternoons on the front porch steps, waiting with the kids for a glimpse of Craig’s red truck coming down Main Street. It’s watching them jump up and down as he climbs out of the truck and they prepare to attack. It’s watching him struggle to untangle himself from their little hands, so he can get to me first. It’s taking in his suit and tie, his shiny black shoes, his cologne. It’s knowing that over the next several days he’ll transform from business man to outdoors man. His clean shaven face will get a little scruffier each day. The smell of cologne will be replaced by sweat and salt and sunscreen. His button down will be replaced by nothing but dark, smooth skin and tattoos. Tattoos that say family.

It’s that last week in the car, the radio station stopped mid-song to announce that a little boy named John had lost his dog. The dog was black with white spots, and answered to the name of Rudy. Apparently John was extremely distraught. So could everyone keep an eye out and call the station if anybody saw Rudy? Then the all-call was over and the song resumed. I started crying a little. Chase heard me and said from the back seat, “It’s okay, mommy. They’ll find Rudy.” And I told him that I knew they would, I was crying happy tears because there are places where people want to stop and help. Where lost puppies and heartsick little boys are worthy of interruptions.

It’s that it’s harder to pretend that people or moments are dispensable here. You have to be careful in a small town. If someone has a loud, mean, barking dog, or is driving way too slow, you should not give the dog dirty looks or cut the slow person off. Because then you will forever be The Lady Who Gives Dogs Dirty Looks and Cuts People Off. There is no anonymity here. People are responsible for their actions. And if you don’t like your neighbor, well you best find something you like. Because nobody’s going anywhere. And there’s just not enough folks to keep trying people out till you find one that matches you perfectly. I’m learning to practice what I preach to the kids….you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.

It’s that here, there are not six degrees of separation between God’s creation and our survival. Bubba introduced us to the local fisherman, and we watch them take their boats out each morning to catch the fish that we eat for dinner, the fish that they sell to feed their families. Chase has gone out fishing with the fishermen twice and each time he’s caught a week’s worth of dinner. Our freezer is full of rockfish, and when Craig grills it and serves it, Chase watches us chew each bite, pride filling his teeny chest. He’s also met the local farmers and visited the farms, and as we pass by the crops, he examine them and says things like, “The corn is looking a little short, mom. It should be knee high by the fourth of July. We need some rain, mom. Rain is what we need.” And then during his evening prayers he prays for rain for his farmer friends. He is starting to know the people who work the land and the water to feed America. He’s learning how it works. That real people and real miracles put his dinner on the table. That’s really, really important to me.

It’s that in the absence of buildings and highways, it’s easier for me to remember God’s providence. Living here is a constant reminder that God made it all, and what God made is enough. Enough to feed us, to entertain us, to satisfy us. Back home all the concrete and highways and business and hyper- organization tricked me into believing that we must provide for ourselves. That we must stay very, very busy in order to keep things running. But we don’t, really. We can just do our work for the day and then watch things grow.

It’s standing in the kitchen in the evening, cutting local veggies while Craig chases the kids and they laugh so hard they can’t stand anymore, so they flop down and roll on the kitchen floor, holding their bellies. It’s looking out the back window to the water and singing along with my country music. It’s realizing that my life matches my music now. That’s what I really wanted. Just a safe, pretty place to let my faith, family, and bangs grow.

I’ll catch ya back here next Monday with Tangled Up in Blue, Part Two. I don’t feel like rushing anymore. I’m feeling slow.

Love, G

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Jun 092010

So sorry Lovies.

Really, really sorry. I’m having this kind of day.

Sweet Monkees, I need to ask for a little vaca. I’m too scattered to put anything in writing for the next few days.

Love you, yesterday was INCREDIBLE, I’ll catch ya back here on Monday.



PS. Tracy Oldiges and Laura D were the winners of the Bun Bun bags! Tracy won the floral bags and Laura won the blue stripey ones. Congrats! Email your addresses to me, please!

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

Jun 082010

Monkees, Our Heather needs us.

I woke up to this email Friday morning:


You’ve seen my comments periodically about my struggles with God and Faith and Prayer, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I’m being presumptuous. I have been laying here awake since 5 AM terrified and wanting someone to say something to help me feel more calm. I need not to be stressed, but I’m finding it more and more difficult.

You see Wednesday, I went into early labor with my twins. I am only 32 weeks and we need to make it to 36 weeks. I spent several hours at the hospital Wednesday night and they were able to get the contractions to stop by giving me IV fluids and 3 shots of a medication. Thursday morning I went for my regular ultrasound appt and started have contractions again. I was given two more shots to stop them again and a prescription for the medication to take 4 times a day until the babies are born. I was also given the first of two steroid injections to speed up the lung development, in case we don’t make it another month.

I don’t know what to do. The medication makes me jittery and anxious and I can’t sleep. It has potentially terrible side effects for the babies (bleeding on the brain, etc.), so I am trying to weigh the pros and cons of the known issues with delivering so early and the potential issues of side effects. I didn’t want to post in a comment, but I wondered if there were other Monkees who had dealt with bed rest and pre-term labor and all the anxiety that goes along with it. More than anything I am hoping to find someone to give me hope.

Heather M

I wrote this back:

Well, my goodness Heather.

Okay. All is going to be well. I can feel it, I know it. Those babies are going to be just fine. But we need to get you through this.

I was on bed rest and that horrible terbutaline for weeks with two of my babies. Once, I went in for my 26 appt and they told me Amma was coming right then. Actually her name was Tess back then, but that’s not really the point.

They rushed me into ultrasound on a stretcher, and I was all alone…Sister and Craig were at work. When I got to the ultrasound room, the young technician was so kind and calm looking and he said “Hello, my name is Emmanuel.” And of course, I started crying because Emmanuel means God is with us. And so I always wonder if he thought I just hated his name, because i was too blubbery to explain myself. I now think that all ultrasound technicians should introduce themselves as Emmanuel, even if they’re really Fred.

It never ceases to amaze me what is expected of us as mothers, even before those babies arrive. It’s terrifying to love something so much. Nonsensical really, in this risky world. But Emmanuel, Heather.
Absolutely and 100 percent and a million times over. I wish I could sit with you and hold your hand and remind you of that myself. And we could talk about God and what these babies are going to look like and
smell like and also, hopefully, we could talk about Heidi and Spencer from the Hills because I’m quite concerned about some developments there.

Anyway, talk to me. We are going to make it to fourth of july week. I know it.

I’m thinking of you and praying for you and those babies every single hour. I have an H written in marker on my hand so I don’t forget.

You tell me if you want me to do a monkee call, ill do it in a heartbeat.

And Heather wrote back.

I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to respond to you sooner. I left this morning to go and get the second steroid shot for boosting the babies lung function (just in case) and ended up in the hospital again for a couple of hours with contractions. They were able to stop them again, so they let me come home.

I’m trying so hard not to be stressed, because that is, of course, the worst possible thing for the babies. But, I feel guilty that I’m not able to engage fully with my son (his 2nd birthday was yesterday and his party is tomorrow). I’m having to hand over control of everything to other people
and that is soooo not comfortable for me.

I’m worried about these medications; the steroids and the terbutaline. The terb is AWFUL. I’m jittery and can’t sleep, it makes me anxious, gives me heartburn and makes me want to run in circles like a madwoman, but I have to stay still. Maddening. I’d love to hear about your experience with it; especially the it was horrible, but worth it ones.

I know the saying is we are only given what we can handle, but truly I don’t know how much more I can take. I’m trying to be calm and rational, but it is getting harder and harder.

You offered to make a Monkee call and I’d love that. I’m feeling so isolated and alone, but my husband needs to be with my son. He comes to check on me regularly, but it’s still hard to have to lay up here and listen to all the laughter without me. I just need to be reminded that we can do hard things, because this feels pretty darn hard. Thank you for being there for me and for offering to marshal the Monkees. I feel better just knowing that’s coming in the next few days.

And that brings us to today. I am awed and grateful that Heather came to us when she needed love and hope and support. Isn’t that incredible? It’s real, this Monkee zoo.

We can’t make it all better for Heather. . .but we can do what we were put here to do. We can remind her she’s not alone. Ladies, start your engines.

Love, G

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

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