Friday, August 27, 2010

What is nice?

Am I nice?

That depends on your definition of nice.
* Am I pleasant to strangers and kind to people in general? Yes.
* Do I try to keep a smile on my face as much as possible? Yes.
* Do I try to listen carefully to people when they speak to me? Yes.
* Is there more to being nice than these superficial things? I don't know.

If you take being nice to a new level, the next level of action, doing something for someone else that makes them feel good or helps them out, is that "nice" or does that move us on into kind, thoughtful, generous...?

Are all of these things necessary to be truly nice? Or is nice enough?
Is it enough to smile at a stranger in the grocery store, or do I need to let them in line ahead of me? Is it enough to put my own grocery cart back where it belongs, or do I need to take the one someone else left behind as well? Is it enough not to throw my trash out the car window, or do I need to pick up the trash other people have left on the side of the road? Is it enough to say happy birthday, or do I need to send you a card?

Is nice enough, or does it require an action to share the niceness? Is it enough to not bother my neighbor, or do I need to reach out and help my neighbor?

So - what is nice?
Am I nice?
Are you?

Thursday, August 26, 2010


N, S, E, W,
pick a direction
and don't look back.

Be persevering in
your attitude.
Keep stepping in
that direction.

Be dedicated to
making the changes
necessary as you
move toward your

Be single-minded
in your approach
to life from your new
point of

Move forward
unyieldingly making
strides in this
new direction
with unfaltering

Be steadfast and
true to your purpose;
hitting the mark
one step at a time,
never faltering
nor vascilating from
the path ahead.

Do not linger or dawdle
along the trail
when the direction
for your next step
is clear.

Hang on.
Knuckle down.
Follow through.

Do not step away
from your chosen
no matter what
challenge appears
in your way.

N, S, E, W,
pick a direction
and don't look back.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Hidden Garden

This morning I was revisiting some of my old journals, and I came across several pieces I had written while participating in a 'virtual writing camp' with Julie Jordan Scott ( I was surprised at what I had written and decided to share some of it with you here.

A hidden garden
a secret place where the world stands still
and it's acceptable
to think enormous thoughts
too big to handle
in the real world,
or minute thoughts
so small as to be
totally ignored outside
the walls.

A hidden garden
where one can go and be totally alone.
Where worries and responsibilities
cannot encroach.

A hidden garden
where one can
imagine anything
or nothing
as the moment desires.

A hidden garden
for those moments of solitude.
A place to breathe deeply;
a place to sigh aloud;
a place to smile at the ants
and befriend the birds.

A place to unload all your burdens
and fill your soul
with calm and joy
before going home.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Double Dog Dare Ya!

Challenging myself to write meant writing every day and writing much more than a few poetic lines in my journal every morning. Long ago I read "The Right to Write" by Julia Cameron ( which introduced me to the idea of three morning pages every day. When I was still teaching I would do this sporadically, when the vacations gave me the time and energy to rise early and write whatever was on my mind or in my heart. I knew instinctively that the practice of "dumping" all of the emotions, problems, fears, and joys onto the page was like purging my mind of the bad stuff and letting me be free to fill the spaces with something new.

About three months ago, I found a website called It's a place set up for you to do your morning pages online. You can put in a password to keep everything you write absolutely private, which is a good thing! But the website keeps track of the number of words you write and how long it took you to write and even what the weather was like while you were doing it, as well as some really interesting ways of analyzing what you wrote. But I soon discovered that 750 words (three 250-word pages) was just not challenge enough for me, so I added another 250 every day. Now I'm on a 60 day streak, looking forward to it every morning, and rising at 5:30 a.m. to have peace and quiet to start my day.

While I love typing madly away and seeing the word count rise, I missed the actual pen on paper feel to it! I always love to buy those cute journals and colorful spiral bound books to write in. The color of my pen changes by the season or the mood of the day as well. (Today I'm in a particularly pink mood.) So I was happy when one of my regular blog authors started a "Write for 15 Minutes Every Day in August" Challenge. I said, "This would be a great thing for me to do in my little journals." After I write my 1,000 words online, I go to 'Mad Woman in the Forest' (, read her prompt, and write by hand for 15-30 minutes depending on how engaging the day's prompt is.

Then I said, "As long as I'm doing all this, why not be a glutton for punishment and sign up for the "Book in a Week" Challenge ( On this website you set your own goals and check in each day to report your progress. My initial goal was seven pages a day or 49 for the week. I'm proud to say I ended the week with 73 pages!

The next Book in a Week challenge isn't for another month, so I will just have to keep writing about Georgia and Grace, two southern belle sisters, who discover a dead man in their kitchen. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I am competitive. Hmmm. Could that be true? This person who has always taken a spot in the back? Who has always wanted to be invisible more or less? Who has never wanted to be challenged to prove what she thought was probably true deep inside, that she was as good as anyone else, but was afraid to find out by stepping out and being seen?

Competitive? Yes. I like to compete silently, quietly, unseen, comparing myself to those I see around me without letting them ever know I am secretly telling myself, "Oh look, I can do that. Maybe I can do that better than they do." But never wanting to have to stand up and prove that to be so.

So, now I am standing here, admitting to myself and all the world around me that I am competitive and that I am opening myself to that competition within and without by starting to share a little bit of myself with the world at large.

Finding words to put one beside the other and admitting that I am a closet writer and have been for many, many years, more years than I care to admit, although I am unafraid of my age these days. Age has nothing to do with this, except for the fact that now I have the time and energy to believe in myself a little more, to know myself a little better, to get past all of the fast and furious moments of the day and concentrate on what is really behind that - the me that is there - the me that has always been there, fermenting, bubbling away, growing more refined like a really good aged wine. Waiting on the shelf for the moment to come when the cork can be gently extracted and the fragrant liquid can be decanted into the antique crystal cut-glass container that catches the light and refracts it into so many spendid pieces and parts that marvel the eye.

"Here I am," I say. Ready to work to take my place in the world. Ready to be seen or at least to want to be seen. Ready to open the windows and let in the fresh air and the beauty of the world around me. Ready to challenge myself to be and do more and refine what I am and have always been. But ready to share my "me". Taking up the challenge to compete not so much with others, but with myself. Proving to myself that I deserve to be seen. Invisible no more!

Monday, August 2, 2010

A New Beginning

August 2, 2010

Here we are, the beginning of another new month, more than half-way through another year. Where does the time go? What should I have accomplished so far? When I look back on my life, I have

• Raised three children as a single parent, following their sporting and band lives every day and weekend for years; celebrating their achievements and milestones with joy.

• Bought, sold, and built houses, moved my family, and moved my mother in with me.

• Attended church almost every Sunday. I could probably count on my fingers and toes the number of Sundays I have not been in church over the past 15 years.

• Sung songs, written song arrangements, shared my voice and my musical talents with others.

• Worked a full-time job for 32 years, sometimes good, sometimes not so good; sometimes proud of my efforts to do the job, sometimes falling short of the mark, but isn’t that the way it is with a job that you do day in and day out forever?

• Lost and gained and gained again and gained more pounds than I wish I had to account for.

• Made friends, which seems to be feeling more positive these days than ever before. Now I feel I am not keeping myself so much to myself to protect my inner self from destruction, so I am beginning to look outside myself and see what the people around me are doing and what they need from me to be a better friend.

• Writing. I have written for a long time, lots and lots of days, months, and years. There have been dry spells when I simply didn’t think I had it in me to rise early before anyone else in the house just to sit down and meander through my thoughts and feelings on the page. Giving up my anger and frustrations to a private listener who would never tell my secrets or laugh at my convoluted ways of thinking about life, my family, my job, myself. I know now, that the times when I did that were the best times for me emotionally. I was able to spill out all of the germs, so to speak, to keep myself on an even keel.

Many times I have felt that I was overextending my reach day after day, but then the days came and went, my children grew up healthy, more or less, and are happy and reasonably well adjusted adults that I actually like being with. I feel like I had very little to do with that happening, but I know that to be untrue. I know that living with me, learning about Jesus with me, watching my work ethic unfold before them, seeing how I related to my mother, and how I dealt with the ups and downs that life sent my way, had an effect on their growing maturity. I worried about them as they grew up more than I care to admit, and I am happy to say, I still worry about them because that is part of my roll as their mother. Thus it has been and ever will be.

Now I have open space before me to fill, and I am seeing opportunities to be and do something new. Maybe not entirely new, just a new filter over the old to change the shade of the color of my days. You know, like adding white to red to get pink, or yellow to green to get blue. Now I look through the windows of the sunroom that I have always wanted to have on a house, and lose my thoughts in and among the forest of trees that protect the back of my home from the rest of the world. I look up at the sky and marvel as the clouds pass by, changing from wisps of cotton to dark and foreboding moments when the lightning flashes and the thunder shakes the rafters, and then the sky clears and I see that behind all of the clouds, the sun was still shining, still there, always faithful and true, waiting for the time when I could appreciate its glory to the fullest.

Now I look to the next days, weeks, months, years, with the freedom to reinvent myself once again. And to do that, I am challenging my creative side with as many possible opportunities to write – words, music, poetry, stories, characters, books, letters, get-well cards, journals, dreams – whatever way I can to share my experiences and grow from them as I do.

And so, here begins my blog – Handful of Pansies. I hope you enjoy it.