Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gas, Gas, Where Did The Gas Go?

I don't how it is in the rest of the country, but us guys here in Georgia don't have much gas :). I live just four miles north of Atlanta and my county had two gas stations with the pumps open. Two. Do you know how many people live four miles north of Atlanta. Just about the whole city! This is something out of the seventies or worse than the seventies. We've been walking a lot. I walk my nine year old back and forth to school. We walk to the nearest store for the quickie purchases, but alas, we had to get in line for gas. The big family reunion is taking place in North Georgia. Gas is required.

Hubby had a plan. He was on the road early before seven a.m. This is unheard of in our house for a Saturday. But he was off. Here we are like some fools sitting in line, using what precious gas we have, to obtain more gas at the tune of 4.19 a gallon. What is wrong with this picture, friends? You don't even want me to get on my soapbox about this. :)

Hubby's strategy paid off. And there was the little matter of a woman who motioned him in before her. What you want to bet she's on my 29 give challenge site and lists this as her give for the day? Within ten minutes and one giant give, my husband has gas in our car. He then went to his mother's house and picked up her truck. He went back to sit in the mile long line again. This time around it took an hour, but hey we all have gas now. So we're off to the family reunion.

But still I keep thinking of what our fate as a country would be if gas didn't exist any longer. What would we do? And should we all look at this question and begin to approach life with this thought in mind? It makes this woman take a harder look at living a green life. What is the lyrics to that song? "It's not easy being green."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ebb Tide

Today I moved into my novel with ease. I spent the biggest part of the day lost in this world I am creating. When I emerged, I exchanged IM with my brother's girlfriend. We talked at length concerning chaos that has entered their life. I left the conversation with a promise that I would take the time to put all my thoughts in writing for my brother. Reuniting after years of separation has proven to be a tenuous affair for me. Sometimes I'm not as strong as I thought. Sometimes I'm stronger. It comes in shifts. I'm reminded of an ebb tide.

The first time I experienced an ebb tide was on a small island on the coast of Georgia. Each night I would walk the miles of beach alone as the wind brought the only music needed. On the last night, I went out to walk and found a complete and profound stillness. The ocean seemed to have disappeared. The air was thick and heavy, making it hard to breath. The birds were gone and the moon rode high in the sky. I made it my mission to walk out to meet the silent water. I walked straight to where the surf should have been and kept going. I didn't look back. Soon my toes touched the motionless water. I looked around and saw that if the tide came in suddenly, I would be underwater and far from land. But there I stood with my arms open, looking at the stars in the sky.

Moving back into my brother's life gives me the sensation of standing where I might drown at any minute. Do I run back to safety or do I open my arms and search for the stars?

My give to myself and him is to risk the ebb tide and remain in place. I won't dwell on what is behind me, the safety of what is known.

My hawk appeared again today. As most of you know, I live on the fringes of Atlanta. At night I can see the skyline just up the road. A hawk here is unusual. Today he landed in the tree outside my writing window. He is huge and beautiful. For me he represents strength. I went to get my camera to capture his image for a future blog post, but he was gone when I returned. Sometimes we can only live in this very moment and that's all we have. I did hear his call an hour or so later, reminding me he would be back.

Friday, September 12, 2008


: the act or process or an instance of surveying the past

Last night I had what I consider bad news. Maybe at some point I can see it as something more. My oldest niece signed away her right as a mother to her little girl. My younger niece's adoption went through. She is fifteen. I only recently learned of their whereabouts and their circumstances. The older niece (21 in Oct) is unreachable. She is addicted to drugs and I don't know where she is and she wants nothing to do with family. The fifteen year old niece doesn't know her father sought me out. She doesn't speak with her father anymore. So here I am in this situation where I don't seem to make a difference. A voice in my head says it's too early to make that judgment.

But what does one do when she is whisked back into a lost family? Once again the voice says, "Do what you do best. Write." How can writing help? I'm not sure. But what comes to mind are all the beautiful young women in my family, six total. Can I give them a path to follow, a suggested route, or is that too much to ask? Would my story in some way help, give them some map? These are questions that can only be answered by action. Write.

So, I look back into the past. I will survey the way one survey's land for a map. I will measure the distance from one year to the next. I will unearth the truth. My truth.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Revisiting The Past through the Now

For those of you who do not know, my brother's girl friend found me two weeks ago. I had not seen my brother since my mother's funeral five years ago. I had not spoken to him since Ella was born. So, that gives you the picture of our present relationship. None. Yesterday morning began with details on what happened to my brother's daughters, my nieces. I've had to take the story in small pieces. My nieces have been in my mind for many years. Children are always the fallout of the messes adults make along the way. I wrote letters to the last known address. I knocked on doors with no answers. The whole family disappeared. The truth is I didn't want to find my brother or his wife at the time. So, I had to settle with sending the girls thoughts, love, and prayers that prove well under what they needed.

The news I received yesterday was heart wrenching. My oldest niece has followed in my brother and his ex wife's footsteps, drug abuse at twenty-one and the lost of a child to DEFAC. The youngest was taken into foster care over two years ago. She is doing well and chooses to remain in foster care rather than go to my brother, who is clean now. But clean is such a subjective word. The Webester Dictionary's definition is as follows: 1. Free from dirt, impurities, or contamination. 2. Free from wrong-doing: honorable. Can any of us claim this? So clean is something that happens after we become dirty and there's always the chance we will become dirty again.

I can understand my niece's need to remain in the place where she found peace and love. You see it is that young abused girl, who still resides in me that relates to her decision, who cheers her on, reminding her to outgrow the legacy left to her by her family. But in doing this I walk away from protecting my baby brother, who is now 44. Has the time come to release my role in this family? Is is way past time?

Here I would like to give you a poem by Nastasha Trethewey called Momument. She wrote this poem after visiting her mother's grave that did not have a headstone. Her mother was murdered by her second husband when Ms. Trethewey was 19.


Natasha Trethewey

Today the ants are busy
beside my front steps, weaving
in and out of the hill they’re building.
I watch them emerge and—

like everything I’ve forgotten—disappear
into the subterranean, a world
made by displacement. In the cemetery
last June, I circled, lost—

weeds and grass grown up all around—
the landscape blurred and waving.
At my mother’s grave, ants streamed in
and out like arteries, a tiny hill rising

above her untended plot. Bit by bit,
red dirt piled up, spread
like a rash on the grass; I watched a long time
the ants’ determined work,

how they brought up soil
of which she will be part,
and placed it before me. Believe me when I say
I’ve tried not to begrudge them

their industry, this reminder of what
I haven’t done. Even now,
the mound is a blister on my heart,
a red and humming swarm.
© 2007 University of North Carolina Green

My mother was many, many things that I will not go into within a blog. But I had a revelation with this news. She was the handhold to these two girls. Never in our lives together was she able to be this for me, but she gave my nieces a small tiny life of security, not perfect by far, security all the same. When she left this world, they were abandoned.

We are so many different people. My mother was because of her mental instability. Her faces changed on a daily basis, but yet, she did touch these girls' lives.

It is my plan to reach out to my youngest niece through her caseworker only when they determine she is ready. I would never do anything to jeopardize her well being. I do want her to know she has an aunt who loves her and now knows where she is. This news was tough on many levels. It brought to light, once again, what my family was like when I was a child. Many times I've been told: You are so strong. How did you come out so together, so successful? I would never guess. That's my favorite.

It's times like these I'm reminded I didn't come out of it ok. I'm marked, a reflection in a younger girl's life.

Where I am right now is due to my spiritual background and my refusal to stay down. Also, my gift of writing brought me through with my sanity and that is why it is so much more than a mere career and publishing credits. I became a storyteller and I surround myself with creative people when I have a choice. The only way we take a journey like I've taken over the years is by giving and receiving. They go hand in hand. Period.

Yesterday after my news I met with a new friend at the coffee shop one block from me. This is a independently owned shop called REV. I go there to write when I just need to see something different. My suggestion of meeting at REV was my way of giving a glimpse of me to this person. We had a wonderful talk and goooood coffee. I was given handmade necklaces. One for myself and the other with a prayer box for my new mommy daughter. The conversation was healing for me. When I returned home it was with high spirits and determination to continue my journey and not go back into the past any more than is needed. But we never leave the past completely behind. We can't. I've come to accept this and in this I find peace.

And this my friends is what living is all about. There is no physical matter to the gift's existence. The spirit is what brings the action alive.

I passed the prayer box necklace on to new mommy daughter. I told her where it came from and all about my day. Her eyes filled with tears and she said, "I can put all my prayers in here and wear them."

We must push our journey forward. Push, friends, push.

Monday, September 1, 2008


A little over a month ago I began participating in a new challenge. The challenge is called 29 Day Give Challenge. I did it just to see what the buzz was about. Cami, the founder, began this site after someone challenged her to give when she was at her lowest with MS. Not long into her giving she began to see a remarkable occurrence. Not only did she feel better, but wonderful things began to come her way. You see when you give it comes back to you. I know we've been taught this, but so many of us think of a give as money. Money is good, but there are so many other gives out there.

I am rotating through my second round of 29 days. I've given a lot of myself. Most of the time the recipient doesn't even understand. They enjoy. And this is the point. I have given anything from my time to my writing. This challenge makes me keenly aware of what I do each day. How do I approach life and what is important to me.

These are the things I've found on the site. Strong women from all walks of life are everywhere. Many live right here in the Atlanta area. We've planned a meet up for later in the month. The topic of the meeting will be giving. How can we as a group give?

Each day I log on to the site and write a blog post about my giving for the day before. We tell our stories. And, these stories are amazing. The site is full of artists of all mediums. This doesn't surprise me. What have I gained from this effort? I've learned more than ever that I need to simplify my life, take it down to just what I need, not want. I've learned that you can travel, shop, eat out, buy new cars, and toys of all kinds, but that will not quench the need to change your life and move into something much more important.

Since I began to think more about my gives, I feel lighter, more compassionate than I ever have. I forgive easier and open myself to others more. I fully believe this is the reason my brother picked this moment to come back into my life. I'm ready now. I can give. I don't watch others and wish I had what they had or could go where they go. I'm content to look at myself in the mirror. My writing has expanded, and I've even allowed myself to be imperfect. That's a big one. Even when I do get angry--and it has happened--I get over faster.

I strongly urge you to take a look at the site. If you're looking for something that to add more substance in your life, this is the place.

You won't regret visiting the site.