Thank You Mr. Conroy

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We’ve covered the fact that I am a voracious reader before in this post https://wenreeve.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/true-confession/ and while I am a fan of many I’ve never really been a “groupie” of any author but when I heard that Mr. Conroy was going to be in Nashville speaking and signing his new book “Death of the Great Santini” I knew I would move heaven and earth to be there!

My Ansley introduced me to Mr. Conroy when we first met in 2006. You should know that hands down he is her FAVORITE author of all time and has been since she was in her teens. At her recommendation, my first book by Mr. Conroy was “The Water is Wide” and I knew right away that it was love. Mr. Conroy writes in a way no one else even comes close to in my mind. He takes me so deep into the story that I find myself taking on the feelings and struggles of the characters in the book and literally become so wrapped up in them that I struggle to walk away. There is no way I can read his books back to back because I get so involved that I border on morose and know for sure my family would never put up with me like that! If you have never read Mr. Conroy, shame on you. He is a prolific southern gentleman, scholar and writer of prose who pulls from deeply personal struggles in every book. His gift is such that I feel intimately acquainted with each and every character in his books. In my mind I have walked where they walked, ate what they ate and lived their life with them.

Amazingly, not only was Mr. Conroy going to be interviewed about his new book (by Ann Patchett no less- WHAT?!?!) but he was going to sign books afterward. Y’all, I would have been fine just to hear the interview. He. Was. Amazing. Like Ann Patchett said in the interview, “Pat, you write in such a way that we fall in love with a man you hated simply because of your compassion.” Mr. Conroy had us alternately laughing and crying over and over all in the space of an hour. He is bright, funny, charming and lights up when he talks about his family and his books. Then he went into the lobby of the auditorium and singed books for anyone who wanted one for over two hours (I say over two hours because that’s how long we waited and there were more after us!!) When it was your turn, he not only introduced himself to you personally, he looked you in the eye and shook your hand as if you were the only person in the room!!! Then he quietly talked with you while he signed your books. OH MY GOODNESS!!!

It was a night I will always remember and he is a man I will never forget. Mr. Conroy, thank you for being exactly what your mother wanted you to be, a quintessential southern gentleman through and through.

What Do You Do All Day?

What do you do all day? I get asked that question more than you would think (ok, maybe you think it would be a question often asked, so I should say more than I would think.) It’s funny because when I worked no one ever asked me what I did all day. I guess because I had a boss, so they felt like if someone was telling me what to do, I was busy. I find it an interesting question and one that is hard to answer. You see I actually have a life. (SHOCKING huh?!?!) Just because my boys are in college (in three different states!) and my husband works full time there is still stuff to do.

I belong to two Bible study groups as a participant, one Bible study as a teacher and one prayer group. They are varied groups to be sure!! One is couples, one is older women, one is teen age girls and the other is peers. The most interesting part to me is the commonality across the groups. We are all at different stages in our lives yet we all have similar struggles. It is never dull y’all!

Also, my husband still likes to eat (WHAT?!?!) plus our clothes and house still need to be cleaned. Yes there is less laundry and mess but they both still have to be done. What you don’t realize too, is that once you are in your home all day you begin to notice all that has been left undone over the years. OOPS! I daily find rooms that need painting, furniture that needs sprucing up and closets that need cleaning out. Be honest, who doesn’t keep a running list of things that have to be done around the house??? Some days I wear myself out cleaning out a cabinet that no one will ever notice simply because it needs to be done.

So just to answer your question people, I have plenty to do all day every day. That doesn’t mean I do it… but it’s there waiting on me. And as soon as I finish this book I’m gonna go get started.

Luke Time

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One of the rare joys of being a mother of more than one child is getting to spend extended one on one time with them. Luke (my middle son) and I got to do just this when we spent time in Memphis just hanging out until he started his summer job. I learned a lot about Luke, things one can only learn sharing a hotel room for four days……FOUR DAYS!!

We tease Luke and tell him that he lives on “Luke Time” residing in his own world with his own timetable. Like for instance, when he tells you he is ready to go, that does not necessarily mean he has clothes on. No, it just means he’s ready to walk out the door in his boxers with his clothes and shoes in his hands. This works fine at home where our car is in our PRIVATE garage but this doesn’t translate so well when we are in a hotel!! So when this happened in Memphis, I gently suggest to my 20 year old, “Why don’t you put your clothes on BEFORE we leave the hotel room. We’re not in that big of a hurry.”  And I sat down in the TV area of our suite to wait… and wait… and wait… and then I heard him playing the guitar. So I glanced into the bedroom to see a half dressed Luke laying on the bed playing his guitar. He looked at me with his million dollar smile and instantly knowing the look that was on my face reminded me “You said we weren’t in a hurry.”

The God side of this particular personality trait? Luke ALWAYS has time for you. No matter what he’s doing or where he is going, he listens with his heart and if you need his time/money/talents he is there without question. If he sees a person in need, he stops what he is doing to help. When I think of a servant’s heart, I think of Luke. Of course my rule following, type A personality sometimes gets annoyed (shocking huh??) but then I realize that Luke is simply being who God created him to be.

Yep, Luke is so much like his father that sometimes I want to scream. But what can I say, I happen to love and adore that sweet man that I’m married to, so when people say Luke is just like his father, well that’s just fine by me.

TGIF

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T G I F… funny how we all know what that means: Thank God It’s Friday! I don’t really remember when it happened but at some point in my life I began to look so forward to Friday. Maybe it was because Friday was the night you’d get to have sleepovers with your friends and possibly go to the high school football or basketball game even though you were just in middle school. Friday meant you could stay up late because Saturday mornings were for sleeping in (we didn’t have Saturday morning sporting events when I was little- Praise God!) Friday’s were typically pizza lunches at school and dinner out at Bonanza or the Western Steer. The best part is, Fridays just got better and better as I got older. People, there is just NOTHING like Friday night high school football, whether you’re a cheerleader, band member, part of the team or just a fan in the stands. Even now I’ll hear a certain song or cheer and be instantly transported to the sidelines at Central High School in Carrollton, Ga. There was just so much to love about Fridays growing up!

I still love Fridays but for different reasons. I get to see my Friday morning girls at Bible Study. I get to stay up as late as I want because I can sleep in Saturday morning. There is high school football in the fall and high school basketball in the winter. Plus, now that I’m grown I get to choose the restaurant and there is always a good Mexican place with hot cheese dip!

Hmmmm….. now that I think about, Fridays really haven’t changed all that much. Maybe that’s what I really love about Fridays, they make me feel like I did when I was kid. Well except for the fact that Dad no longer gives me a twenty as I’m walking out the door to pay for everything… oh, well you can’t win them all. TGIF people… TGIF!!

There’s a Reason I’m a Southern Gal

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I live in the south for a reason. That reason has nothing to do with culture, traditions or even a deep commitment to my southern roots. It’s a simple reason really, I HATE COLD WEATHER. Yep, not a fan of anything to do with the cold like blustery winds, icy breath, cold hands or chapped lips. I avoid it like the plague and when it does get cold, I am the girl you see who is not wearing a coat because, well, that is the real reason I hate the cold: COATS.

Coats are not comfortable nor are they easy to wear. I mean you have to find one that is large enough to fit layers of warm clothes underneath yet doesn’t make you feel 25lbs heavier. And that’s hard because when you are shopping for said coat, you’re typically not layered up, so you either get one TOO big or TOO small. Oh sure you can find a super cute coat… on the hanger!! But when you put it on over your winter clothes, you feel like the kid brother from A Christmas Story (yes, that kid who cannot put his arms down because he’s so bundled up!) Sure it’s funny on TV but not so much when it’s you… in real life.

I do my every loving best to avoid any city where I have to wear a coat because let’s pretend you find a super cute coat that fits great (work with me here people) once you get where you are going, you have to take said coat off and put it somewhere. All good so far, but then you leave (and if you are me) you get home only to realize your coat did not travel home with you… um, awkward. Yes I’m an adult and no, apparently I cannot keep up with my clothes. Then not only have I lost my super cute coat but I lose all kinds of face with my kids because don’t forget I’m the one who spent YEARS fussing at them for not being able to keep up with their book bag, shoes, phone, keys, COAT.

So, saving face may be the real reason you’ll find me living and loving a city that’s winter temps hover in the “you don’t need a coat” zone. A city where I can get away with just wearing cute winter clothes and normal shoes. A city where my only outside winter activity can be accomplished with running tights, wool socks and a few layered shirts. A city where cold simply means I can pull out my boots and skinny cords. Yes, dear friends, I live in the south for a reason: I cannot keep up with my coat. But do me a favor, don’t tell my sons, K?

My iPhone Has Ruined Me

Oh it didn’t happen all at once, it changed bit by bit without me even realizing it. I can’t begin to count how many times I have hit the spacebar on my laptop twice expecting to see a period appear. Hasn’t happened yet. I also expect my computer to auto-correct my typos like my phone does. Nope, that’s not gonna happen either. When I hear certain noises or think I feel a vibration, I grab my phone like it’s on fire. I am hard pressed to travel anywhere without my phone. I mean, I know where my sons live, but am not quite sure of where to turn unless my phone tells me. When you let someone constantly tell you where to go, you don’t ever quite learn the actual route… oops!! Email, text, internet, social media, games, GPS… all from one little phone. I now realize that I may have allowed my phone to become too big a part of my life.

I remember just a few short years ago when I didn’t even have a cell phone. I was one of the last hold-outs because y’all, I hate talking on the phone, so why would I carry one around with me??? I finally allowed hubby to get me one and realized that it was great… for texting! I mean, change your life when you can contact someone and get your message across without ever having to have a conversation. YES PLEASE!! But there were side effects, it was like Pavlov’s dogs, every time you hear that sound you grab your phone to see who, what, where. I mean craziness found my life people. It was like I was addicted to a sound… are you kidding me? Who knew a sound could take over your life. But people IT DID.

Oh there are great things about a cell phone, like being able to facetime with my boys whenever and wherever. Having the Bible always handy in a thousand different versions. The constant conversation I have going with my Ansley. Being able to evaluate the Miss American contestants in real time with my mom. And on, and on, and on. But when I sit in a room full of people and watch someone JUMP up to run grab their phone every time they hear a sound, I cannot help but think how far we’ve come (sarcasm people, sarcasm!) I mean we are so connected to people with our phones that we can’t fully connect when we are actually together in person.

So I’ve decided to put my phone down and not pick it up again………… until it rings, vibrates or buzzes that is. Cause who am I kidding? I’m addicted to technology just like everyone else and I’m not afraid to admit it. Now, you’ll have to excuse me while I go check my phone.

Yes, I Asked Him

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So I briefly mentioned yesterday that I asked Tim to marry me. What?!?! You people act like that’s not normal. Ok, I admit it, I have come to realize that there is a lot about Tim and me that is definitely not “normal.” So let me just give you the low down.

I was one of those girls that knew right away if the guy was a keeper or not. Therefore, I didn’t go on many second dates and heaven knows I went on what seemed like THOUSANDS of first dates. (At one point in the mid-80’s, my photo was beside “Blind Date” in the dictionary… seriously.) In the spring of 1988, when I was actually dating someone, it was a normal thing that we’d go to his church league softball games. What wasn’t normal, was that one game where I found myself laying eyes on the guy that would be my husband and knowing it without a doubt. It was strange, I’ll admit, but I knew the second I laid eyes on Tim that he was the man God wanted me to marry. I broke up with the other fella that night because when God tells you that you’ve found the one that’s what you do (call me crazy, but it HAS been 24 years and we’re still together!) So I set out the very next day trying to meet this “Tim” that was destined to be mine.

It took from May to October to actually get to meet Tim because shortly after laying eyes on him, he left for a three month mission trip to Sweden with about 20 girls (again, I ask you, what do you mean that’s not normal??!?!) Well once Tim was back in the stares and I finally wrangled a meeting, in my mind it was a done deal. So mid-December, a mere six short weeks after we met, I told Tim I wanted to be married to him…. by the next Christmas. He was a bit shocked by my forwardness but I knew if left up to him, we’d still be just dating!! So yes, I asked Tim to marry me (24 years and counting people… 24 years.)

People always want to know what my parents thought about our whirlwind courtship, but you have to remember these are the people that raised me. They knew me and knew that when I was sure of something, I was sure (plus I think they were just hoping someone would marry me so I could get off the payroll!) It also didn’t hurt that Tim actually asked my dad for my hand in marriage before he did the actual “here’s a ring, let’s make this official” proposal.

It’s not always been easy, but it’s never been dull. When all is said and done, I’ll take interesting over boring any day. I love that man of mine more every day and can I just say that when you’re right, you’re right? Yep, 24 years and counting!!

A Real BFF…

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I was seven years old when Lynne chose me. Chose me for what you might ask? To be her best friend, confidant and partner in crime. Why did she choose me? I’ll never know but I’m oh so blessed she did. When Lynne and I met, I was a shy, introverted second grade little girl who did everything she could to fade into the background. As the youngest of three kids each a year a part, I was most concerned with not causing trouble. Of course that ALL changed with time and most importantly with Lynne (yep, I’m blaming you!)

My first clue that life as Lynne’s BFF would be different should have come when we were in middle school and she walked into homeroom to inform me that we were going to be in a community play where she would have the lead and I would have a secondary role. K? Ok…and we were. Lynne has the gift of giving… not of gifts (even though she’s good at that) but of true potential. She gave me the confidence to be on stage in spite of my total lack of talent and ability not to mention my terror of speaking in public.

My ballroom dancing skills, tennis prowess, date to the Junior Prom (hi Jeff!), bizarre sense of humor and uncanny ability to burst out laughing at the MOST inappropriate time are all credited to Lynne. For some reason when she was doing life with me, I had no fear of failure, rejection or falling short. She embraced life with such joy that I just assumed it would all be fine. And you know what? It was.

Those that know me now struggle to believe me when I tell them how painfully shy I was before Lynne. You see in just the last 10 years I’ve spoken at women’s retreats & events, been the design coordinator for a major golf tournament, led countless Bible studies and often get accused of working the room wherever I am. The very confident woman you see today was many years in the making.

I know that much of what I am today is because Lynne refused to take “no” for an answer. Now we were not always building character and good life skills but since I’m not sure if the statute of limitations has expired yet, I’ll keep most of our adventures to myself. What I will tell you is that 38 years later with us both happily married and mothers to seven kids total, we are still best friends (yeah, yeah I know I’m supposed to say my husband is my best friend but realistically, I never would have had the courage to go out with much less ask him to marry me if it weren’t for her… so he understands!) So to all of you out there like me, make sure you thank the Lynne’s in your life for helping you become the woman you were truly intended to be. If she’s anything like my Lynne you can do that by sending her a few dozen macaroons.

World Peace and Cheese Dip

If I was forced at gun point to choose my favorite food (cause that could happen), there is NO DOUBT what it would be. Ask anyone in my immediate family and they’d know along with most of my Nashville friends. Why my Nashville friends you ask? Well a good portion of them agree with me (right Ans, Katy, Annie, Kelli, Graham?) You see we all believe that the only thing necessary to achieve world peace is to make everyone involved gather around a bowl of cheese dip. Yep, I said cheese dip. Now this would be no ordinary cheese dip but MEXICAN RESTAURANT cheese dip… with fresh tortilla chips (I’m drooling… you?)

I love Nashville for a thousand reasons but the biggest one is the people. Because y’all, I’ve found these are my Mexican restaurant, cheese dip loving peeps. On any given trip to Nashville, there will be at least one trip to eat Mexican… if it’s a really good trip, we’ll go twice. I’m not talking Chipotle or Moe’s (even though they have tasty food) nope, I’m talking what we call dirty Mexican. Meaning that when they bring you your food, the plate’s not pretty and all they’re going to get back is an empty, dirty plate from a satisfied customer.

Truthfully, I could eat Mexican food three meals a day and one of my most favorite trips ever was when Tim took me to an all-inclusive resort in Cancun, Mexico. We couldn’t do much since Tim had an emergency appendectomy on Saturday before we left on Thursday, but just between you and me, that made it better because all we could do was hang out by the pool and EAT (understanding now why it was my favorite vaca ever!!) I could lie to you and say that my favorite part was just being with Tim or the pool sitting, but why lie?? It was really all about the food for me. I ate quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos and even tacos for BREAKFAST. With fresh guacamole, sour cream and cheese dip…. this girl was in heaven.

Unfortunately, we can never go back to this particular resort… no, not because of anything we did but simply because it would never match up to that first trip. I never mess with perfection when it concerns food. There is absolutely no reason to go back and taint the amazing memories I have. So, I guess the next time Tim wants to take me on a once in a lifetime trip, he’ll just have to do his research and make sure they know their food. You think there’s any good Mexican restaurants in Paris???