“That reminds me of someone.”

I forgot to lock the chickens up last night so the first thing I heard this morning was a little, “bawk?” coming from the backyard deck. An inquisitive little sound that made me aware that the ladies were already out and about, set to demolish every green and blooming thing in my yard if they weren’t locked back up for the day.

The fool-proof way to get them back in their run during the day (they go in automatically at night, but during the day hours it’s just not going to happen) is to shake the red bag of dried mealworms. They smell and look as disgusting as you would imagine they would, and the ladies go ga-ga over them. Right into the coop they went.

It was supposed to rain heavy today so I clipped a few of my blooming roses so I could enjoy them a few more days inside. Two huge blooms made their way into an old valentine’s vase, and as I set them on the counter I stated, “I’m an old lady that plays with chickens and roses all day.”

Savannah replied, “Hmm. That reminds me of someone.”

Yes. My mother. Her Nana.

I laughed and knew it was true.

And I’m perfectly fine with it. Chickens and roses make me happy.
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His Name is Louie

We sat down next to a table full of them. I recognized them for what they were immediately. Emotion swelled in my chest. 

Aging Veterans. 

Their caps gave them away more than anything. Proud badges worn as crowns, declaring their membership into a special society. 

The conversation drifted from whom “we’ve lost”, to living wills, to so-and-so with Alzheimer’s, to what a great meeting they will have tomorrow night. 

These men in the military caps, so much like my Grandad in his of red… I had to say something to them. I looked their way several times as they all got up and left. Finally, I made eye contact with the last as he came back from the trash bin. 

“You know, the only thing wrong with this, is that I am about 67 years too old.”

I love flirty old men. Their confidence abounds. 

“Hello!”, I smiled, “I want to thank you for your service.”

I told him quickly about my grandfather being in WW2. He told me he was a test pilot on the Bell Helicopter. I told him I thought that was amazing. 

Because it is. Read about it here.

He smiled again and opened his wallet, handing me a business card. This card holds this mans pride and joy. Take some time and read his story. He deserves it. 

And never be afraid to tell a Veteran “thank you”. Even from a coffee table at Books-a-Million. It was my Grandad’s favorite thing. His name was Jake.

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The Secret of the Mid-life Crisis


I was at a group dinner when a cute, sweet girl (I say girl because she’s a good 10-15 years younger than me) made a comment that has burned its way into my soul. I just can’t forget anything about how she said, regarding someone getting a tattoo, “it’s like they are having a mid-life crisis”. Her eyes gleamed as the snarky words slid out of her pretty face.

I kind of remember just hating her for maybe 3.5 seconds after that.

It got me thinking, though. I’ve been thinking a lot about the maybe mythical, but absolutely mystical, mid-life crisis. I’m pretty sure I’ve started it. I’m pretty sure I don’t mind at all.

The secret of the mid-life crisis is that it’s not a crisis. Well, or maybe it is. Let’s look at how Google defines it:

cri·sis
  1. a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger.
    ehhh… I’m not buying it. Life is a roller coaster of ups and downs, not just midlife. 
    • a time when a difficult or important decision must be made.
      Ok. I agree with this part. Many important decisions must be made at this point in life. 
    • the turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either recovery or death.
      I kind of like this viewpoint, too. But let’s change “disease” to “life”. Yes, that makes sense

Let’s talk about what getting to mid-life means. And yes, at 38 years old, I can talk about being “midlife”. I am here. This is it. It’s not that scary.

It means I don’t have to wait anymore. 

Let’s talk about that tattoo that was referenced above. Who the hell cares if a 40yr old mother with a career decides to get her first tattoo? No one, that’s who. Actually, I guess that cute 23 year-olds do, but who the hell cares what they think? The most amazing thing about getting older is that you start to understand that YOU, and only YOU, truly have complete command over what YOU do. It’s a glorious revelation. Do I want to start traveling? Ok! Do I want to start paying off my house? Ok! Do I want to have a family? Ok! Do I want to be alone all my life? Ok!

I don’t have a tattoo. But I want one. Ok!

It means I’ve stopped living for you.

That doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love you. It simple means that my sole purpose in life is NOT making sure you are satisfied with me. It’s making sure I’m satisfied with me. Who I am is my number one priority.

This applies to my children. My husband. My family. My friends. Coworkers. Strangers at the grocery store. Gym buddies. Anyone. You will like me better when I like me better. Guaranteed.

It means my time has a countdown that I can feel

I can feel my age. I feel it in my bones and my ligaments and my skin. I see it in the reflection of the window shops and the roots of my hair. My death is not something in a storyline that seems like it will never come. It’s a very real, very present shadow that walks beside me every day. I have never been afraid of growing older, but now, as I see it, it spurs me to not wait for ANYTHING. The “crisis” of decision-making is expedited as the crow’s-feet grow deeper.

It means that there is no time left to not love it all.

Your lover and your babies. Your career and your pets. Your hobbies and your crafts. Your vacations and your daily routine. Make it yours, and make it your love. And if it’s not, change it.

I’m not condoning leaving your spouse and killing your cat. I’m suggesting investing in and slowly curating a life that you love. All aspects. Some people might think you are having a crisis, some people may recognize that you are finally being YOU. But it doesn’t matter really, because you no longer care what they think.

There is a song by Nathaniel Rateliff that brings my soul alive every time I hear it. It reminds me of half a life. Half a life spent waiting to be thinner. Waiting to be more charming and smarter. Waiting for everyone to like me. Waiting for me to like me. I’m so over waiting. Mid-life is not tragic and it’s not sad, but it is a crisis of recovery.

Recover who you were when God whispered you into life. That is where we LIVE.

Think of all the time time time
You get to know it
Think about the world I found spinning awry
Remember all the clothes I wore to hide it from you
You said let’s take the long walk home tonight

Think of all the falling down and the hiding under
Think of all the time time time time time

Think of all the hours I spent in constant reflection
Well it gets you down but, it don’t make it right
I made it my personal intervention
What a waste of time time time time time

I got a feeling I, I can’t get over
Maybe all we had has always been right
Think of all the love you gain when you send it over
Think of all the wool I’ve spun to be here tonight
Think of all the time time time time time

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Budgets and Bread

No Facebook Tuesday had The Man and I sitting down all morning going over our budget and plans for the year. There were some major miscommunications but we lined it all up. Funny thing is, we were headed in the same direction, but looking at it in completely different ways. The more and more I grow older in this relationship, the more I see that this is a major area of disconnect. Men and women just see things differently. And there is nothing wrong with that, but it takes a lot of effort and patience to figure it out and work on the compromising language.

This afternoon I made a shopping list for the week (new budget!) and decided NOT to shop. I’ll wait for tomorrow morning when the stores are empty. I am making bread instead for the girls to have something to take to school for lunch (pantry is EMPTY, hello PB&J!)


I took a moment to call my Dad and schedule a visit in two weeks. Something else I would have probably not have done but did instead of procrastinating online. Glad I did it. We miss him.

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January One, 2017

My family has made a deal. We all have taken a cut to our social media in order to be less distracted and have more face-to-face, quality moments. It’s starts here on the first of the year. Maybe not a resolution, just a movement in the right direction. I have deactivated Facebook, Jerod has taken social media apps off his phone, Abby has deleted Instagram and Snapchat, and Savannah lost her ipod (well, that happened, regardless).

So here we are. The first day was productive. We took down Christmas and watched a few movies. Abby has the stomach virus that we picked up in Oregon. Savannah and Jerod are the only ones that haven’t got it. Maybe they will squeak by.

I think I’m fixing to set up the home gym in the garage that I was gifted for Christmas. Looking forward to a productive 2017.

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What I Do Instead

I drive my kids to school every morning and pick them up every afternoon. We talk about their days during the 30 minute commute.

I Crossfit with some lovely ladies and linger after class to talk about what’s going on in our lives.

I left the house this afternoon and met The Man at one of our favorite coffeeshops. We sit for hours, drenched in fast and free wi-fi, and get our dreaming and downloading done.

I meet new and old friends for lunch and gossip.

I shop at Target right after the doors open in the morning. It’s like my own private store. It’s heaven.

I paint and repair things around the house a lot faster than I used to.

I visit my Granny and have patience to answer her repetitive questions.

I stay in my pajamas till noon and catch up on The Walking Dead.

I make dinner. Boom!

I redo my daughters room while she is at school.

I can let The Man practice his bass guitar in the living room without my nerves being shot for the day. It’s actually nice to hear him play.

I can plan trips in the middle of the week. In the middle of the month. In the middle of the school year.

I can help The Man become a better boss by helping him with office work. It’s a win/win.

I can go on field trips to watch Louisiana Tech basketball games and watch my youngest dance in the seats.

I can go to a fancy salon and cover my grey hairs on a regular basis. In the morning.

I can do all of these things in the timespan of a week.

And I am not stressed out.

I do not miss teaching anymore.

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I also supervise cake cookie making!

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My Abusive Relationship (with Facebook)

I have recently realized my #1 reason why I don’t blog as much as I did in 2009-2012. It seems that nowadays, anytime I have a thought or moment that I would like to share, I make a short summary on a Facebook status update and then, done.

Or, I spend an hour (ok, sometimes longer), mindlessly thumbing through my newsfeed and refreshing it, hoping something new and entertaining will be there, this time, to stimulate me. I make sure I know what’s going on in as many people’s lives as possible, so that I don’t miss giving an important thumbs up or a short comment to let them know that I am not a selfish witch and that I truly care about them.

It’s never-ending.

It’s especially never-ending for someone like me, who is a sneaky diary reader. Yes, I know. I am a terrible human being. Moving on…

Facebook is like reading someone’s diary ALL THE TIME. All hours of the day, there are celebrations and dirty laundry right there for the pickin’. I just eat it up. I just like looking into other people’s lives.

I used to say that I didn’t watch TV very much because, “why watch other people live their life when I have my own?”.  I still don’t watch very much television, but social media has became a different animal. It’s a drug that I must get a fix of everyday. Every hour.

I open my laptop and the first thing that happens is my left hand types “Fa” in the search bar. That’s usually enough to pick up the Facebook.com link in the cache and I’m on my way for another 20 minute time suck. 20 minutes doesn’t seem that bad, but after I turn it off and start a new activity, I usually think of something I want to look up or research so I go to my laptop again.

Boom. “Fa” in the search bar before I think.

Too. Much. Facebook.

Too. Much.

And, it’s never enough.

I’m not enough. I’m not doing enough. I’m not liking enough. I’m not progressing my life enough. I’m not saying Happy Birthday enough. I’m not participating in the online sale enough. I’m not going to events enough. I’m not getting likes enough. I am misunderstood. I am judged for not being there. I am observed liking things. I don’t like things because I know everyone will see it and I don’t want them to. I don’t want to see this ad. I don’t want to see this ad. I don’t want to see this ad. WHO ARE YOU VOTING FOR PRESIDENT?! #NEVERTRUMP #NEVERHILLARY You don’t care enough. You don’t have enough compassion. You aren’t raising your kids right. I feel bad when I see your posts. Give to this fundraiser. Give to this fundraiser. Why are you posting about your husband, again? Stop humble bragging. Stop complaining. Stop trying to be funny. Stop taking selfies. Stop showing off your kids. Be funny. Did you get my invitation on Facebook? Why are you not on Facebook right now?

It’s just so overwhelming, and it really shouldn’t be. Sometimes it’s not. Somedays I get to see an interesting video of a National Park that I didn’t know about. Or maybe someone shares a major life change of some sort. Mostly, it’s just junk mail. An abusive relationship with something that takes and takes and takes and makes me feel like shit almost every day.

Today marks the second full day of my Facebook account being deactivated, once again. I have done this many times before. Maybe one day I will delete the whole thing (they make you wait 2 full weeks without logging on before you can delete), but for now the deactivating helps. My mind goes quiet. My spirit gets stronger. I go do things that I want to do.

Yesterday I got up on a whim and told my daughter to throw some shoes on and meet me outside. We played one-on-one basketball in the driveway and had the best time. I’ve read more of my magazines in my huge stack  and a few chapters of a book I am working my way through (my attention span is not long enough for books right now!)

Today I took my daughter to dance rehearsal and instead of killing time staring at my phone while I waited for her, I went kayaking. I haven’t been since… I don’t know… May?

I watched a great blue heron catch a catfish and fly away with it while a great egret watched and fussed at him.

I watch dozens of turtles splash into the water, off of their sunbathing log, when I got too close. Their little faces peeked out of the water as they swam around in circles, looking to see if the coast was clear.

I watch a kingfisher fly proudly down the bayou, calling it’s rattle call so everyone would know it was there. Much like this one.

I came along a glorious old oak tree whose branches stretched out twice as far as any tree around it.

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I watch two ducks try to hide from me by darting under the water and swimming away until they quietly popped back up 100 feet away.

It was all there on the water. The muddy brown cold water that drifts by the highway every day. I’m glad I stopped everything to be there this evening.

I’m glad I wasn’t on Facebook, trying to see if my life matched up with everyone else’s.

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Anticipation of Change

I couldn’t stand it anymore.

The acorns are dropping off my oak trees, halloween costumes are haunting the aisles of Target, pumpkin spice is back at Starbucks, and I am supposed to be able to drink my morning coffee outside by now.

“But Juli”, you might ask, “why can’t you drink your coffee outside whenever you want to?”

Because Louisiana, I’ll answer.

Summer in Louisiana has been a maximum-effort season for my home state this year. The heat started earlier than normal, higher than average, the dog days were the doggiest days, and it just won’t quit now that we are in mid-September. I know, I know…some will tell me that it is always still warm in September. But I also know that the humidity that keeps the algae growing on my deck steps is usually on its way out, and that the devil mosquitos, that are usually not this bad, have created an empire out of the habitually rain-soaked landscape. Outside is not a happy place right now.

We went to a football game last Saturday and my chin was pouring sweat like a faucet. Sexy, I know. My husband just kinda squinted, assessed the situation, and looked away in mild horror. Nothing makes you remember how much you love your spouse like waterfall chin sweat.

Summer, I am over you.

Fall, my lover, come here!

So like I said before, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I poured myself a strong cup of Community and stubbornly went to the back deck.

The trees stood still in the stale air. The birds sang and flew back and forth between the large branches. My eyes scanned the yard and found the unattended weeds and vines that are overtaking the fence row. I haven’t wanted to do yard work in a long time…

But then, as I sat quietly for a moment or two, I sensed them. The little hints of transition and change that are slowly and quietly making their way known.

It starts with the acorns I referenced earlier. For the next month, they will drop continuously and increasingly, until they cover all the flowerbeds and paths.

My chicken hens have slowed down their egg-producing dramatically, and are now molting. Their black and white checkered feathers drift over the yard slowly as the girls make new feathers for the cold winter nights.

And the daylight, it’s giving off hints of change as well. The days are slowly shortening as I notice the evenings getting shorter after school and the sun in its annual blinding position on the Interstate during the morning commute.

The new season is coming. And it’s Autumn. My favorite. My BFF. My love.

I can’t stand to wait. Every day I search the weather app on my phone for the tell-tale sign of its arrival… overnight lows in the 60s. That’s really all it takes to get the humidity gone and to get that pleasant, cool air for the morning coffee on the deck.

But it’s not here yet.

I went for a walk this morning (in the no good, miserable, filthy hot weather) and thought about the anticipation of change. How, when we know something good is coming, it is almost impossible for us to enjoy anything and everything happening in the now. The present can be torturous when the future looks so promising. The joys of Summer are long gone. The watermelons are no longer tasty, the swimming pools are closing, and the kids are in school instead of on the lake. Summer is not fun anymore, but here we are still in it. This season is long and hard and tiresome. But we are still here.

Friends, we still have to find ways to enjoy the in-between. Autumn is around the corner, yes. It’s going to be a great one, I can tell. There will be football games with hot chocolate and bonfires and leggings with boots – enough to go around, but it’s not here yet.

In the mean time, the in-between time, let’s just enjoy the little things. Let’s have coffee on the deck anyway, and listen to the birds sing songs we’ve never heard before.

img_4975

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Subtle Racism

From the moment the woman spoke the words to me, I knew I had to write about it. It all rolled off her tongue in a way that told me she has done it many times before. Second hand nature. Subtle racism.

A couple of weeks ago, I was spending some glorious kid-free time in Target. Women, you know what I mean. It was the kind of Target trip that relaxes instead of stresses the soul. I meandered from aisle to aisle, checking the various end-caps for clearance items I couldn’t live without, but previously did not know existed.

All was well when I found myself in the makeup aisle. I zigged and zagged between Revlon, Maybelline, and CoverGirl, not having any real reason to be there…just enjoying the peace and quiet of those glorious, well-lit, kid-free, responsibility-free aisles.

There in the makeup aisle with me was another, slightly older, middle-aged white woman. She was quiet at first, bending over and searching for something. She was talking on the phone. I was looking for a better eyeliner.

She hung up her cell phone and looked at me. “They stopped making it! MY favorite thing and I’ve used it for YEARS! They stopped making it!”, she proclaimed indignantly.

“Ugh. Don’t you hate it when they do that?! Just when you get to knowing what you like…”, I tried to sympathize. I don’t have regular products. I’m not a makeup connoisseur, you could say. Really, I am awful at makeup and have started watching YouTube videos like a 13 year old to give me tips.

She continued.

“They have stopped making all the good stuff. But you know who they are making all kinds of stuff for now? You know, don’t ya… the BLACKS…   that’s right. Ugh.”, She looked at me for confirmation as she whispered the words of her racism to me. “BLACKS” in a hush toned, so she could not be heard by the two black Target employees across the aisle.

I think I responded in a puff of air. A “huh”, and a half-smile. I did not say anything else and neither did she. We parted ways.

This event has stuck on my brain like superglue since it occurred. This lady that thought only people of her skin tone could have beauty products. This lady that saw me as some kind of superiority equal, enough to divulge her disgust to the shell of my white skin. She didn’t know me. She didn’t know what my beliefs where. She saw that I was like her, and therefore I was a safe place to lay her blatant racism.

And that’s where the subtle racism comes in. I accepted her thoughts without rebuke. Although I didn’t confirm her opinion or allow her to grow the conversation into a race-bashing session between two white strangers, I can’t help to think that I could have, I should have, called her on her opinion. I could have pointed out that, certainly, women of all colors should be afforded the opportunity to have multiple choices of bad lipstick colors and brow pencils that make them look like they have caterpillars on their foreheads. I should have said say, “Hey now, let’s not be selfish and pretend us white ladies should have all the makeup.” Or something. I should have said something.

But I didn’t say anything.

I just walked away and she walked away and I realized that I just participated in subtle racism. Inaction and ignorance. Very much a ostrich head-stuck-in-the-sand type response. See no evil, hear no evil, yada yada yada.

I want that lady to know that what she said was not okay, but I also want her to know that what I didn’t say wasn’t okay, either. The lines of separation between the races are built with these subtle racist nuances in conversations, built from the day most of us were born. Change begins with identifying, not only what was said, but almost more importantly, what was not.

Be the change you wish to see in the world… God knows I am trying. It’s not easy. It’s not easy to speak up in love when the world seems to be speaking louder in hate. But that’s our job.

Sometimes, we need to speak up in love to the voice in our head as well. It’s not the voice of your heart, but the voice of fear and ignorance from generations and generations before you were ever born.

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Now what?

It’s been a tumultuous summer here in the land of Juli’s brain. I’ve been struggling lately with knowing what my purpose now is since I am not going back to my teaching career.

“What am I supposed to DO with my life?”

“What am I supposed to BE now?”

“How am I going to be a successful human being without the one thing I was told that I am good at?”

Ugh.

Each day I scour my thoughts for the perfect idea; I methodically search the interwebs for the perfect inspirational post; I think of every thing that I have ever been halfway fond of and wrangle it into a dream of a successful second career path.

That gets me through the day.

At night I lay awake, ruminating in the poisonous stew of bitter thoughts and hopeless notions that I will never be good enough for anything else. That maybe, I was never good enough to begin with.

Isn’t it so easy to fall into the trap of low self-esteem? That is exactly where the devil wants me to be. It’s a trap of believing the lies that float in and out of my head…“you’re not good enough. they never were your friends. you are a joke. what makes you think you can do that? you are good for nothing. you have no purpose. they don’t think about you. no one really likes you. and…by the way… you’re fat”

These thoughts are not my thoughts, but thoughts given to me by a dark spirit that does not want me to be happy. A spirit that is trying to sever friendships, to ruin my marriage, to crush my hope and faith.

But today.

Today, I was just now working on repainting my bathroom. My Spotify playlist was perfect and inspiring me to dance with paintbrush in hand. The sunlight coming from the West-facing window lit up the room in a warm glow. The thoughts floating around my brain faded and I heard His sweet voice. His voice comes as a singular, strong thought, placed in my head by the Holy Spirit that I know and believe in.

You are enough. 

You do not have to DO anything else or BE anything more to be enough for ME. Be at peace in your heart, sweet daughter. You are enough.

Psalms 139: 13-16 (MSG)

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb.

I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made!

 I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; 

You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.

Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you,

The days of my life all prepared, before I’d even lived one day.

——————————————————————–
What a wonderful place to be, knowing that we do not have to DO anything or BE anything more than who we are to be loved by our God.

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