facing down the sea

On the edge of the ocean

at Ocracoke

I stood.

The surf crashing.

Me,

still.

This little guy (on the other hand)

had lots to do.

And so he scampered here and there

up and back

hither and yon

chasing the relentless tide.

Then he surprised me

plopping right on the sand,

facing down that sea.

 

Maybe,

I thought,

we have more in common

than I realized.

Stepping Into The Light

I knew the dress was a mistake.

On tap was a luncheon during which I needed to walk across a small stage, smile and accept an award in front of a filled ballroom. I was deeply honored to be among the women being recognized; on this day there was to be a beautiful, long parade of these super heroes, and I was thrilled to walk among them. (Thank you, Palmetto Center for Women.)

One would think I might have given wardrobe a bit of consideration before 8:20 that very morning. I did not. Instead, I found myself staring into the closet, coffee cup in hand, 10 minutes to go until I had to blast out the door for a 9:00 meeting.

Hum, I thought. What ever shall I wear?

Let’s just say the next 10 minutes were not pretty. There was a flurry of try-on before I settled on a wool dress, black tights and heels, and with one last look in the mirror thought: This feels a little snug.

I spent the morning pulling and tugging on that dress, hoping it would give just a little with wear, like a pair of blue jeans on the second day. It did not, and for the rest of the morning, and while sitting at the lovely luncheon, I worried about that dress.

Salad course complete, I made my way to the ladies room. A young woman who was working there, straightening up the counter, looked me over.

Love that dress, she said.

Thank you, I said, still tugging. I’m afraid it has gotten a little tight.

No honey, she said, emphatic. You gotta work that thing.

Isn’t that what it’s all about? I thought as I made my way back to the table, this time standing a little straighter, smiling a little more broadly. While delivered in a different vernacular, her words reminded me of the Marianne Williamson quote that encourages us to all step into our own glory:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

I thought of this as I listened to story after story of the women being honored. They are out there doing it in this world—entrepreneurs, artists, public servants, educators—woman who work tirelessly to change our community, and this world, for the better. Successful, yes. Powerful, many. But every single one, simply a human being who stepped out of fear and into the light.

Your playing small does not serve the world. 

A beautiful reminder for us all, every day.

Feathers, friends, and sweet little nudges

An email I will long remember greeted me early this morning, coming into focus just as my sleepy eyes adjusted to the dawn. It was from my friend Pam, a kindred spirit who finds it as phenomenal as I do that feathers appear so pointedly in my life just when I need a little nudge.

Have you read this? said the title of the email.

He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings shall you trust. His truth shall be your shield and buckler.   Psalm 91:4

I had not. But one can only think: Of course.

Day 30: When Grace is All Around You

What better way to end our 30 Days of Grace than with a walk around the Fall garden? What a nice reminder that it’s all right there. You just have to look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for being a part of my 30 Days of Grace. Your shared moments, feather finds and words of encouragement have made this more than a 30-day exercise for me—they have enriched my life and my faith. Reflections on grace will always be the foundation for this blog and I hope you will continue the journey with me.

Up next? 30 Days of Things I’ve Never Done Before. Do come along! I’d love nothing more than to walk side by side with you in your own 30 Days! Just send me a link to your blog or send me your own Never Done Before story. I’d love to feature it here.

 

Day 25: In Which I Race With Time, And Time Wins

It is 4:45 a.m., and incredibly, I am awake and writing this post.

I note this because it is rather extarordinary. As you know, dear friend, I am very serious about sleep and rarely have trouble in that department. But in a moment of weakness last night—the cat curled sweetly on my legs and purring to beat the band, I didn’t have the heart (or the energy, truth be told)—to put him out. That would have required waking him, then chasing him from living room to kitchen to dining room three times before heading to the front door, only to have him look at me in a what on earth have you been doing? kind of way.

Yes, I should have plucked that cat from that cozy comforter and tossed him into the night when I had the chance.

Lest you judge me too harshly, do let me explain that that crazy feline, sweet as he has become in old age, simply refuses to stay inside for the full overnight. Rain, heat, snow—somewhere between 3 and 4 a.m. he wakes to create such a racket you simply must obey and let him out.

that damn cat, that beautiful rug

There’s the “I’m awake and let me wake you, as well” start: a slow walk up the back of your legs to your head, then a gentle flick to your cheek with a single claw. Oh, stop it Tiger, you think, and roll over to the other side. He comes right back at you, a little more determined this time, a little less gentle. You swat. He moves on to the bedside table, where in your twilight sleep state objects begin to move. The pretty tray rattles. A book shifts. A clink. Dammit, you remember. There’s a full glass of water.

His coup d’état? Clawing of the investment bedroom rug.

So you see, my friend, I really had no choice but to get up at 4:20 a.m. to let that damn cat out. Which starting me thinking of the 10,000 things I didn’t get to yesterday, and the thousand things I don’t even know to worry about because I completely lost track of them.

My name is Cathy. I am an overachiever. 

I think I’ll make some coffee and start a list of things to do about it.

30 Days of Grace

Day 24: And Then There Was This

And then there are the days you just march through, knowing you have been greatly blessed, but not exactly seeing the evidence. Or, maybe, being so frantically busy as to not even look for it.

These were my thoughts as I made my drive home from a long, exhausting Tuesday. I rounded a curve, and—I swear—there was this.

30 Days of Grace

Day 23: Two blessings and a miracle

You might be surprised to learn that two prayers I repeat, rather regularly, are these:

I am thankful to have my very own washer and dryer, right here in my own house.

I am very thankful to have hot and cold running water, right here in my own house.

So I feel a little guilty about the incessant complaining I’ve done for the last several months over losing water pressure in our shower. My husband and I built a house in 2008, and one of the things written on my “if I ever build a house I need to remember this…” list was “MAKE SURE THE WATER PRESSURE IN THE SHOWER IS EXTRA STRONG.”

I am not a great waker-upper in the morning. I have a hard time getting going, particularly when the alarm goes off and the world outside is still dark. (Seriously. Don’t you think if God meant for us to be up and productive that early He’d have the sun up by then?)  I also happen to be very serious about my dreams, so when real life interrupts them, it takes me a while to adjust. I need that burst of energy from the shower to get me going, to nudge me forward and into the day.

For a while there, we had the greatest shower known to man in our new house. I seriously rejoiced every day. Then out of nowhere, THUG, and the glorious water pressure disappeared. JUST LIKE THAT. A split second THUG, and now there is barely a dribble.

My sweet husband tried everything. He had our original plumber back to check it out, twice. Then he worked on it himself. Then he called someone sanctioned by water heater manufacturer, who said it was a city problem. Then the folks from the city water department came. Then our plumber, twice more.

Finally on Friday, a “does ANYONE know a good plumber? plumber” came to check things out. He didn’t guarantee remarkable results with my shower problem, but he did install a missing pressure regulator valve on our overall water system.

Halleluja, I sang this morning, resounding through the house. We think the shower pressure may finally be fixed. So tonight when I send my HappyRambles email, it will say:

Today I am grateful for:

my very own washer and dryer

hot and cold running water

water pressure in my shower (and the plumber who restored it)

I am one happy girl.

If you haven’t checked out HappyRambles, you should. It’s a lovely, and easy, way to keep a gratitude journal.

30 Days of Grace 

Day 21: On Friendship and Tattoos

There is one thing I know for sure: I will never get a tattoo.

I’m not opposed, do let me say. It’s just that I am not sure enough of anything in this life to have it permanently tattooed on my body. Except for this, of which I am positive: My friends mean the world to me. It comes as kind of a surprising insight to me, at this stage in life. At 14? Sure. But at 52?

Oh, yeah.

I have been blessed with long, deep friendships that still today, many years and many miles later, continue to shape and form and mold the person I am becoming. We gather together once or twice a year, our group of childhood girlfriends who are scattered like seeds across the East Coast—we, the Wise Woman. These weekends reconnect us to each other and to our inner selves, the people we are underneath the layers of sediment life has deposited there. We laugh a lot, and we celebrate the differences in our lives and our personalities.

I have been having dreams filled with these women the past few weeks. I know it is time for a visit, a re-calibration.

the wise women

Another great joy in my life is the constant presence of so many of my dearest college friends. One is a business partner I see on a daily basis; two others live within 5 miles. Our children have grown up together, our husbands are friends, we gather for football games and graduation parties and Sunday night dinners. My life is rich and joyful, and I owe much of that to these incredible women who walk the path with me, day after day, year after year.

And then I look around at my life and see it populated with so many new people who give it texture and goodness. Some I met through this blog, or theirs, connections that both astonish and thrill me. Others are friendships formed through my husband, whom I met later in life. Some are gifts via my daughter—young women I adore, Moms with whom I share a special bond. And many, many came my way through work. (This is another fact that surprises me.) The job brought us together, yes, but these connections transcend business relationships. These are truly friends.

This is why we are here, don’t you think? To find each other, as days go by? To bring strength and encouragement and laughter, at the very moment it’s needed, in that very place, in that very life.

My friends are the sunshine in my life, of that I am sure.

But I’m still not getting a tattoo.

30 Days of Grace

Day 20: When Morning Comes

I came to consciousness slowly, with a civility that’s absent on alarm clock mornings.

It feels so wonderful to lie here, I thought. The sheets so soft; the blanket just right; his warm hand resting, peaceful, on mine. Don’t move, I whispered, sensing him beginning to stir. Let’s just lie here, like this, a moment longer.

There were a thousand blessings to count. An October Sunday was dawning just outside the windows—the birds were chirping with joy. My sweet Eliza, home for Fall Break, was tucked safely in her bed upstairs; in her kennel in the corner of our bedroom, an eager-for-breakfast Little Bit; and Tiger, our 13-year-old cat, hanging on the side porch, (no doubt) anxious for a sign of life in the house.

Little Bit, enjoying the October sun

It had been a good Saturday. I’d spent a large portion of the day dragging Halloween decor and cold weather clothes from the attic—both activities I much preferred over the Marine Corps Mud Run (the way my husband and daughter chose to spend their Saturday). The fact that I’d successfully avoided any role in that Muddy Mess was reason enough to rejoice. But there was also the thrilling win (and undefeated status) of my Clemson Tigers, as well as the perfect record of the Lexington High School Wildcats. This was a good world to wake up to.

Really? you may be thinking. Halloween decorations and football wins on her list of deep-heart blessings?  

For me, an unequivocal yes. Because the older I get, the more I realize it is the daily bits of joy that add up to a happy life: a pillow perfectly positioned, a blanket that’s just the right weight, the knowing that my husband’s hand found mine, there in the darkness, before either of us knew another day had dawned.

30 Days of Grace