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

 

Butterfly, Butterfly,

Butterfly, Butterfly,
Go home to my mother.
Please tell her
how much I love her!

Not too many years ago in an old shoebox of memorabilia, I found a Mother’s Day card I made for my mother. I’m betting I was in Mrs. Goff’s second grade class when I created a butterfly with tissue paper wings and glued it to the front cover of the folded construction paper. On the inside I scrawled a poem with a No. 2 pencil:

Butterfly, butterfly,
fly home to my mother.
Please tell her
how much I love her.

Although it’s entirely possible that I copied this poem for an elementary school assignment, I want to say that I wrote it myself. I’ve Googled the lines, and I’m not finding them on the World Wide Web.

In the spring of 2015 or 2016, I re-gifted the handmade card to my mother, and she was thrilled with what I had made as a child and saved as an adult. This was before the Alzheimer’s advanced.

Today as my mother turns 80, I’m thankful for the opportunity to spend her birthday with her. And when we can’t be together, I’ll forever send her butterflies with all my love.





Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

Thirty Years in the Blink of an Eye

It was Friday, September 29, 1989. I remember the twang of the B-52’s on the radio that morning: “If you see a faded sign at the side of the road that says ‘15 miles to the Love Shack.’ Love Shack, yeah, yeah….” Except I wasn’t headed down the Atlanta highway or headed for a love getaway. Nope. Not this day. On this day, I got in my Honda. I was big as a whale. Nine months earlier, I had spent my time at the Love Shack. On this particular day, I headed down Highway 51, having contractions along the way to the hospital in Stillwater.

Twelve hours later…

It was 11:56 PM. The doctor said, “Do you want to have this baby on September 29th or the 30th?” 9/29/89 had a ring to it, so I plucked up strength enough and gave another push.

Those big brown eyes.

And with this little baby Andrew Riley, 8 lbs. 8 oz., came a love and joy and pride I never knew.

Those curls and that laugh.
There was baseball and football, basketball and soccer.
Good-looking and just plain good.
And we totally grew up together.
Our cellist. As his Nana likes to say, the maestro.

Looking back over thirty years, I remember so many moments of greatness, and I realize how often you have to keep plucking up strength enough and giving yet another push.

And today Happy 30th Birthday to my love and joy and pride, my courageous and strong son Andrew!

The First Time I Fell in Love

The first time I fell in love, I was five—and I fell in love with a monster. The Monster at the End of This Book starring Lovable, Furry Old Grover. The illustrated Grover would read the title page, and when I turned the page, he would freak out in all caps:

“WHAT DID THAT SAY? On the first page what did that say? Did that say there will be a Monster at the end of this book??? IT DID? Oh, I am so scared of Monsters!!!”

Overcome with fear, Grover would muster the strength to politely ask me not to turn the page, which of course, I did. I knew Grover’s words by heart, and in my five-year-old mind, my impersonation of his Sesame Street voice was spot-on. I flipped pages as he tied them together with rope, nailed one page to the next, built a brick wall, and BEGGED me to stop turning pages. In the end Grover finds himself at the end of the book. He. Is. The Monster. And this Little Golden Book taught me some important life lessons.

Lessons from Grover: Labels lead to misunderstandings, and even monsters can be furry and lovable. Fear can be crippling, and more often than not, outcomes don’t turn out as bad as the build-up in your head.

Photo courtesy of listal.com, The Monster at the End of This Book was written by Jon Stone and illustrated by Michael Smollin.

I suppose my love of a good story started here with Grover, and I suppose that same love compelled me back to school to become an English teacher. I suppose this love is why I’ve spent the last twenty years in the classroom, and I suppose it compels me now to write stories of my own. And most of all, I suppose I owe the lovable, furry old Grover a huge debt of gratitude for forever changing my life.

Let’s Talk about Books, Baby

I wish I could remember the specifics of all the books that follow. The details now blur in my mind, lucky for you. This could have been an extra long post. In short, I LOVED them all. In my perfect hypothetical library, these books would stand proud in my bookcases waiting for someone like you to flip their pages and escape to another time and place.

Top Favorite Books of My Life on Earth by Crystal Byers

  1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett*
  2. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini*
  3. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry*
  4. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant*
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  6. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  7. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden*
  8. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls*
  9. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt*
  10. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
  11. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides*
  12. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
  13. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  14. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  15. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak*
  16. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou*
  17. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  18. The Book of Bright Ideas by Sandra King
  19. Circling the Sun by Paula McLain*
  20. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton*
  21. Me Before You (#1) by Jojo Moyes
  22. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  23. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  24. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

I gravitate toward historical fiction and female perspective and memoir and young adult fiction. Anyway, I typed the list in random order, so #1 means nothing other than the beginning of my list. I can’t answer the “What’s your favorite book” question. I can only give you my top 24 and let you know I have trouble cutting my list short. On a second look, I asterisked the ones that truly star in my top ten or twelve, so if you’re looking for a MUST-READ, start there and Google to help you find your next favorite book. Oh, and I left off the Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings series, which I LOVE, as well as some classics because I’m nerdy, but I have to shout out my all-time favorite character Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities. You see, my list could’ve gone on and on, so I just stopped at #24.

Your turn. Summer approaches, and I'm a teacher. What's my next MUST READ?

It’s My Birthday, and I’ll Blog If I Want To

(🎶 Blog if I want to, blog if I want to. 🎶 You might blog, too, if it happened to you 🎶).

December 30th came and went. Celebrations commenced with family and friends. And my heart is full. This year proves that good things come to those who wait.

My 2018 began in approximately 400 square feet at the La Quinta where we (a trio of Byers plus our Rainy dog) would rest and breathe for six more months. Reconstruction continued on our Harvey-wrecked home, and the year whizzed by in a blur. The first half of the year now seems like a fuzzy dream that left me with an eye-opening perspective and an ever-expanding heart, I carry 2018’s lessons forward. I carry them in my heart. While trudging through flood water with a water-proof overnight bag on my shoulder and my chihuahua in my arms, I stumbled upon life’s deepest secret.

Are you ready?

Here it is.

Life’s Deepest Secret.

You can’t take it all with you, and you can’t save it all, but in the end, things don’t matter.

But people do.

People.

Will.

Save.

You.

My dear friend Pamela introduced me to e e cummings. I carry his words, and he shares my deepest secret. Thank you Poetry Foundation.

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

#feelingthankful #icarryyourheart #goodbye2018 #hello2019

  Dear friends and family, I carry you with me.

Sharing Our Gifts

‘Twas the day before Christmas at our humble abode.

Kody scrambles eggs, I wrap gifts in a simple mode.

“You’re wrapping really is a gift,” I hear.

“Thank you. And so is your breakfast, my dear.”

Drew’s cello lies in the middle of the floor.

“Put your cello away or play a tune I’ll adore.”

And that’s how it started. I had to share.

From the overflowing heart of a Mama Bear.