G is for Great _______.

You know what I LOVE? My GREAT nieces. AND being a GREAT aunt. It’s just—well—GREAT! And to think I don’t have to do anything to be GREAT, and neither do they. How GREAT is that!

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Meet Olivia Grace (R) and Allyson Kate (L), almost six and three.
Just look at her face, and those curls!
Pure joy!
My braiding needs practice, but what about those perfect highlights?
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And this little snuggler!
Girls
We have a bond.

Everything about these girls reminds me of where I’m from—the wide open spaces, endless horizons, and Oklahoma skies. And they’re growing up before my very eyes.

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When I see these girls next, we have some catching up to do, Lego building and coloring sprees and playing Memory cards. There will be braiding of the hair and swimming in the pool. It looks like we may have some wide open spaces to explore, and I can’t wait. It will all be GREAT. 

So I’m curious, what is great in your life just because it is? This month I’ve committed to the A-Z blogging challenge. Each day I’m reflecting on what is GREAT and what I love and what carries me through this crazy life. I hope these posts inspire more of the same:

A is for AppleB is for BoozerC is for Champagne and Chanel No. 5D is for DadE is for EpiphanyF is for Faith + Gratitude = Peace + Hope

A to Z Challenge

 

F is for Faith + Gratitude = Peace + Hope

The Flood

It was August of 2017. After completing a ten-month major renovation on our latest fixer-upper, Hurricane Harvey flooded Kody, Drew, Rain, and me out of our home. When Houston fire fighters showed up with a city dump truck, I grabbed what I could stuff into an over-the-shoulder water proof bag and climbed aboard with my family and neighbors and their dogs. They dumped us a few miles away in a dry parking garage. It was just another one of those times that I realized I can’t control everything.

After a mile-or-so slosh on foot to the nearest pet-friendly hotel, I dug my orange journal out of my bag, the journal with embossed letters that spelled Gratitude, and this is what I wrote:

Aug. 27, 2017

Today Kody, Drew, Rain, and I were rescued by HFD on an emergency truck with sixteen people including our neighbors and first responders and seven dogs. Water shin deep flooded our house when we left. Our yard was submerged to my knees. I’m thankful for being able to communicate via cell phone and Facebook. I’m thankful for those who have prayed and continue to pray for us. I’m thankful for the La Quinta and breakfast and a room, actually a suite and space for Drew, and for a shower and dry clothes and for our next-door neighbors Boaz and Megan (also sheltered here) who brought us water and snacks and for the restaurant at the Hilton across the street that had wine!!

***

I suppose in that moment I realized I needed faith and gratitude. Somehow I felt a peace that transcends understanding and a glimmer of hope.

Not only had I saved my gratitude journal but also my laptop, and over the next ten months of rebuilding home and living at the La Quinta, my laptop saved me. In September 2017, I typed the story of our evacuation and sent my first words into the blogosphere. I typed other stories, too, and again and again, I tapped the blue button in the upper right corner, the one that says Publish. Ninety-four posts later, I see growth, and more often than not—faith and gratitude, peace and hope.

Home with Lipstick
Home with a makeover. Landscaping on the to-do list.

And today, I’m grateful for you, dear reader. Thanks so much for spending time with me at my first ever A-Z blogging challenge. As I hover at home this April, I’ll be seeking the good in every day, and I count you as good.

Links to daily challenge posts: A is for AppleB is for BoozerC is for Champagne and Chanel No. 5D is for Dad, E is for Epiphany

 

E is for Epiphany

My mother always said, “Everything happens for a reason.” It took me about forty-eight years and my son’s severe mental illness and a hurricane rescue and rebuilding a flooded home to finally understand. In the king-sized bed of room 331 in the La Quinta I called home for ten months, an epiphany struck me out of the clear blue.

Our Struggles Strengthen Us.

Okay, maybe my epiphany struck in part due to the book I had been reading—The Gift of Crisis: Finding your best self in the worst of times by psychologist Susan Mecca. Dr. Mecca suggests the following exercise: Imagine it is six months after your crisis has passed. Your best friend is talking to you about what s/he admired most about you during the crisis. What do you hope s/he will tell you?

There in my hotel room—strength, grace, and love popped into my mind. That’s how I want to be remembered. When my crisis passed, and we moved home once more, I understood one of life’s mysteries—why everything happens. I carried the epiphany with me. 

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How do you want to be remembered? 

A to Z Challenge

Thanks so much for reading this post in my first ever A-Z blogging challenge! As I hover at home this April, I’ll be seeking the good in every day. Join me anytime and click below for past A-Z posts.

A is for Apple

B is for Boozer

C is for Champagne and Chanel No. 5

D is for Dad

 

D is for Dad

My dad is David. He’s a cool dude.

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1976 USA Bicentennial and family vacation to NYC

Even though my dad lives a twelve-hour drive away, he is actually with me every day. So many years ago, let’s just go with 1984, my dad said, “Crystal, you can choose your attitude.” I was fourteen in 1984, and I’m not sure when my perspective shifted, but one day I chose to believe him. His philosophy forever shaped my life.

***

On the day my dad asked my mom to marry him, he bought a box of Cracker Jacks, opened it up, excavated the prize, and re-inserted a lovely solitaire diamond on a simple white gold band. Later on their date, my mom and dad shared their Cracker Jacks, and my mother found her prize.

“This looks real,” she said.

“It is real,” he said.

***

My parents celebrate their 59th anniversary in May. My dad will celebrate anyway. My mom has Alzheimer’s. They’re both 80. However, my dad still lawyers during the work week, and during the summers he still takes running dives into his swimming pool, and he still travels with my siblings and me.

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Dad’s 80th Birthday in Napa, October 2019

Mid-March Dad texted me to say that my mom’s nursing home implemented a no-visitor policy. So now Dad calls the front desk and asks them to open the blinds of my mom’s window, and he visits from outside. I can only imagine him waving his arms like a mad man and making the craziest faces to capture her attention. Then he will send me and my sister and brother a group text with his success. I mean, what can I say? My dad is a cool dude. Obviously, my mom thinks so, too.

Mom
Isn’t she precious?

Thanks so much for spending time with me at my first ever A-Z blogging challenge. As I hover at home this April, I’ll be seeking the good in every day and reflecting on it here. I count you as part of the good.

A is for Apple

B is for Boozer

C is for Champagne and Chanel No. 5

 

C is for Champagne and Chanel No. 5

I thought about taking a before and after. To tell you the truth I’m ashamed of the disarray in my master bathroom before I sucked it up and dove in. From the countertop on my half of the vanity, I grabbed a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and found its proper spot in the cabinet above the toilet. I put my jar of face moisturizer and tube of eye cream into my top drawer. I picked up a clear, old Bobbi Brown lip gloss that I might have thrown away, but it said ‘Crystal’ on it. So even though it’s too sticky for kissing purposes, I applied the gloss to my lips and then set the tube in the drawer next to my eye cream. I cleared away the TIGI Colour Luster Oil for my hair and my Secret anti-perspirant. I found storage for a pair of scissors and a bottle of lotion, a brown bobby pin and a black hair elastic. I also found new locations for my lavender comb and two brushes, two of my rings and a tube of toothpaste, oh, and my hair dryer at rest on the floor. What can I say? I’m a slob—but always determined to be better than the person I was before.

With the countertop cleared, I was able to wipe down everything and put back only what sparks joy. [Clears throat.] Okay, I still have some clutter, but having only what sparks joy is my goal.

The following day, a miracle occurred. First a quick backstory—when we rebuilt our house post Hurricane Harvey, we added lighted his-and-her mirrors over the double vanity in our master bath. Except, the wiring was bad with my mirror, and it shorted out. Kody’s side glowed. Mine did not. After ten months of living in a La Quinta, I just wanted all contractors and day workers out of my house. Things were left unfinished, and I didn’t care. My peace meant more to me than the light.

Anyway, the morning after I cleaned my bathroom, I went for my walk and came home and showered. Feeling fancy in front of my clean vanity, I spritzed myself with the Chanel No. 5 Lauren gave me for my 50th birthday and suddenly my mirror lit up.

My mirror had not worked since July of 2018, and I heard a voice in my head: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” Isn’t that weird? I suppose I still have work to do. Anyway, I had another clean bathroom, and you know what? I felt like celebrating, so I popped the champagne. [Clears throat.] Okay, I mean, prosecco, but I needed a C for the title of this post. Either way, I feel accomplished and fancy and grateful. For the light and the glittering tiles, for a beautiful renovation and a continued transformation.   

A to Z Challenge

B is for Boozer

Boozer is Lauren’s dog—my grand-dog. What about that face?

 

Lauren called me yesterday morning. It was 7:23 AM. “Did I wake you up?” she said.

“No, I was awake,” I said, not sure if it was the truth.

“Do you have much going today?” she said.

“I have a few things to do,” I said vaguely, thinking about my morning walk, some reading homework, a trip to the grocery store, and my self-imposed A-Z blogging challenge. “Why?”

“I was wondering if you would come pick up Boozie.”

Boozie is a Shih Tzu-Cocker Spaniel mix and such a good boy. He loves to come to our house. We have a doggy door here and a yard, and he loves to fetch sticks. At our house he can run full speed, his entire little body stretched horizontal as he literally flies back and forth around the side of the house and across the back yard and up onto the deck where he crashes through our back door doggy door and down the hallway through the laundry room and around the corner back to the living room where he takes one last flying leap onto the floral ottoman and comes to an exhausted halt. We love to have Boozie over for the sheer entertainment. “Sure,” I said, “but not until later this afternoon.”

“No, Mom, I want you to come over right now,” she said dripping with sarcasm. I must have been asleep because I don’t remember anything else from our conversation.

By 2:00, I had accomplished all but the groceries, plus read a few other blogs. Julie Krupp at Enhanced Perspective wrote about how “dogs and dog owners were missing that magical moment when you greet each other after work, yoga, errands, etc.” and how “people and dogs are not getting the boost of positive endorphins that this ritual used to supply at least once a day.” In the post, Julie provides “Ways to Recreate the ‘Return Home Ritual’ While Sheltering in Place.” If you have a dog, check it out.

After my grocery pick-up, I drove a few more miles to Lauren’s apartment for the curbside Boozer pick-up. I called Lauren, and she brought him to my Mazda CX-5 on a leash. Boozie’s little tail wagged like mad, and he bucked like a bronco. My laugh was real. I felt the endorphin boost. And when we wound our way through Houston back to my neighborhood and turned on to my street, Boozie actually sang a song. I sang right along with him, and we shared a perfect moment. 

A to Z Challenge

A is for Apple

 

Do you have a favorite apple? Mine is the Honeycrisp. Pricey for an apple, but worth every sweet and juicy bite. And we all know the saying about apples and doctors, so I picked some up on my last run for groceries.

I drove over to Austin back in December for a birthday celebration with my lifelong friends Pamela and Denise. Pamela was in Mr. Hale’s fifth grade class with me, and I crashed Denise’s five-year-old birthday party uninvited. We grew up together, and we continue to grow together by sharing cool things like skydive simulations and apples.

Pamela left. Denise right.

Before I left Austin that weekend, Pamela packed me a snack of assorted nuts in one Ziploc bag and apple slices with a squeeze of lemon in another. We hugged and said our goodbyes, and I hopped back into my car for the return trip home. I sped down Highway 71 lined on both sides by barbed-wire fences and open pastures, and I slowed down in the small, one-stop-light towns all while enjoying some good apple love. The lemon adds a freshness.

Yesterday, April 1st, I came across the A-Z blogging challenge. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had some extra time on my hands. This seems like a good month to take on a challenge. So for April I’m committing to blog each day using the letters A-Z as inspiration, skipping Sundays, and sticking to a gratitude theme.

A to Z Challenge

I’m sure I need a master plan, but for now I’m taking it day by day. After my morning walk, I headed to the kitchen to cut up a Honeycrisp. But lo and behold, I had lemons in my refrigerator, too, and so…

The Honeycrisp. Mmm.
To lemon or not to lemon?
My apple snack for later is in the bag. So is today’s challenge.