Verbal Ticks

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DAILY PROMPT:  Friday, June 13, 2014

Verbal Ticks:  Is there a word or a phrase you use (or overuse) all the time, and are seemingly unable to get rid of? If not, what’s the one that drives you crazy when others use it?

There is one word that I overuse.  Say it ALL the time.  I truly did not realize how much I used it until I went skydiving with my brother last year to celebrate his birthday.  As part of our package, we purchased videos of our jump.  For every question I was asked, I answered using the same word.  When I watched the video, by the third/fourth use of the word, I was cringing.  It’s not that it’s a BAD word.  And how I started using the word is an interesting story.  Which goes like this:

How many times have you been asked, “How are you today?” or, even asked the question without really wanting to hear the answer?  I noticed a few years ago that whenever I asked someone, they would give the usual “I’m fine” that is expected in our society today, but sometimes body language or other things would give away that the answer was a lie.  With a little press, you could get the full story of what was going on in that person’s life.  Now, of course, you have to be careful that when you press you really want to know the answer to the question, ’cause some people are truly going through some things in their lives and once they get to talking, you might not be able to get them to stop.  Well, I decided that I was not going to answer that question generically anymore – just to see who was paying attention, and who was really listening.  And thus began my overuse of my word.

So, that’s how it started, but it evolved over time.  I found that by using my word, sometimes I could change my attitude – or the attitude of those around me – just by saying it.  It is one of those words that when you say it, the physicality of saying it changes your mouth, your mood, your attitude.  And when people hear the word, it tickles whatever it is in the ear that can get tickled by a word and makes them smile – unless they are really grouches at heart and then they just kinda snarl at you when you say it.

Another thing about my word:  it sparks conversations, no matter where I am or who I am talking to.  Whenever I say it, especially in response to the societal polite “how are you?” greeting, people stop, look at me and say, “Really? Why?” – which can spark a conversation, and maybe even a new friendship.  On the flip side, since that has become my standard response, when I don’t use it, people are concerned and want to make sure that I am ok and if not, what they can do to help me get back to using my word.

Ok, I know, by now, the suspense is killing you.  You wanna know what this mood-altering, conversation-striking, overused word is, don’t you?  The word is:

FABULOUS!!!

Now, go back to the top.  Read this post again, filling in my word for each scenario I’ve written, and I am sure you will see what I mean about the power of this word.  But I think I need to come up with another one.  Just so I can spark different kinds of conversations…

What I Saw…

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WRITING 101 CHALLENGE, Day 8:

Death to Adverbs:  Go to a public location and make a detailed report of what you see. 

Before I detail what I saw, I have to talk about what I felt:  the wind.  Cooler than I expected, it surprised me and definitely influenced my experience.  As someone who lives in a landlocked city, whenever I am away from a beach for an extended period of time, my imagination always pictures the ocean as a calm place with soft, warm breezes and gentle waves hitting the shore.  That was not my experience on this trip.  The wind was high, the waves were rough and angry, and there was a coolness in the air that chilled the body, but not my soul.

The FIRST thing I saw, as I was driving, off in the distance, was the promise of a great adventure.  The thrill of being at the ocean is driving along and seeing ahead an expanse of … nothingness … and yet, knowing all the time that the world has NOT ended, but has just morphed from land to water.  The SECOND thing I saw was the mounds of grey sand.  Pushed against the shore and sidewalk in great piles of loose and yet compact grains of matter that immediately covered my bare feet and ankles.  As I walked closer to the water, the sands shifted and made walking … interesting.  Past the sand was the mighty, majestic, magnificent Pacific Ocean.  Not quite blue, not quite grey, the color of the water was pewterish.  But it was the waves that fascinated me.  Seen far off in the distance, they looked calm and undulating, but as they came closer to shore, they got larger and tipped with white foam – until they crashed against the sand with a roar.  It was almost like they were angry that their journey across the ocean was ending … here … at my feet.  When I looked up from trying to get the “perfect” photo of a wave cresting over my feet (yeah, that took a minute and I still didn’t get the PERFECT picture.  Luckily, I have more time before returning home to try and get it right), I could see that EVERYTHING – the families playing on the shoreline, the runners getting in one final run of the day, the bicyclists pedaling on their way to wherever they were going, the sea grasses blowing in response to the winds – EVERYTHING was bathed in the soft golden, orange glow of the setting sun over the western horizon to my right.  This experience was the perfect culmination to a day of travel.

But what I really saw was the creative power of God.  In a world full of chaos and disorder, standing at the oceanshore reminded that God is still in control.  Every day, like clockwork, the sun rises and the sun sets.  The tides roll in and the tides roll out.  And this happens on a schedule set into place centuries ago when God spoke it into existence, saw it was working, and declared it “good”.  And if we take the time, have the inclination, and live close enough – we can experience and witness this whenever we want.

Shhhh….

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Daily Post Writing Challenge – June 9, 2014

Living Art:  One day, your favorite piece of art — a famous painting or sculpture, the graffiti next door — comes to life. What happens next?

[AUTHOR’S NOTE:  From the moment I saw the above graphic, I was captivated.  Who is this woman?  Where are her clothes?  Why is she “shhing” whoever gazes upon her?  I have used this graphic as my profile photo on Facebook, it is currently my screensaver on my smartphone, it is very much a part of me.  But what would I do if suddenly, the image on my phone became a living, breathing, person? ]

It’s a typical Monday morning and I am on my commute to work.  Due to a recent work schedule change, I am able to take advantage of my city’s public transportation system and usually plug in to my iPod and tune out the noise of my fellow commuters.  But today was going to be different – I just didn’t know it yet.  I noticed a buzz in the air, a certain electricity that was normally absent, but I attributed it to post-weekend “jet lag” and “Monday morning blues”.  My iPod was silent as I contemplated what I wanted to listen to as I checked my Facebook account to see what was going on in the lives of my friends and loved ones.  As the train pulled through a tunnel, I heard a whisper in my ear, “So, how are you today?”

I looked around to see who was talking to me, but there was no one sitting close enough to me – or even looking my way – on the somewhat deserted train.  I shook it off as my imagination and returned my attention to my iPod playlist selections.  Again, I heard a whisper, “Oh, so you are just going to ignore me?”  Ok, this is getting spooky and more than a little weird.  Imagine my surprise when I look to my right and there she was – the lady from my phone, just sitting there, on a seat, by the window, across the aisle from me.  She is not naked (thankfully), but is dressed in a beautiful halter-top styled maxi dress that is made up of wonderful swirls of color.  Her natural hair style is wild and seemingly untamed, but on closer inspection, you can tell this is artfully contrived to look like controlled wildness.  Her skin glows from within and there seems to be a golden aura surrounding her.

“Are you talking to me?”, I ask nervously.

“Do you see anyone else nearby that I would be talking to?”

I glance around to see if anyone else on the train is seeing this, hearing this – but no one seems to be paying any attention to me and my unexpected visitor.  It is as if we are in a bubble of our own making – ok, her making – and the only people involved are she and I.

“What do you want?”, I ask.  “Are you here to do me harm?”

She laughs and the sound of her laughter is like wind chimes brushing softly against each other in a warm summer breeze.  “Honey chile, do I look like I would do you (or anyone else) harm?  That ain’t what I’m about.  I only have a short amount of time to be here, so let me be quick.  I am here to remind you that you are here for a purpose.  That there are things you should be doing that you are not, and that your time is running out.  Life is a gift and you are wasting yours.  You have talents and skills and knowledge that were given ONLY to you for you to use – and you are wasting them.  Snap out of it!  Do better.  Make a difference.  Stop wasting the talents given to you.  Use your fear of the unknown, the unexpected to help you mold the world in which you are a citizen.  By stepping out, in faith, you can make an impact.”

I heard her words, but I wasn’t really listening.  I mean, c’mon.  This had to be a dream from which I just could not awaken.  I mean, I don’t do drugs or take any other mind-altering substances.  I had not fallen and bumped my head on something.  And everyone knows that images on your phone don’t just become living, breathing, talking, cognizant beings.

“You are not crazy”, she continued, “you just need some affirmation.  The tools you need to do the things you are here to do are all within you.  You just have to believe in yourself enough.  Stop listening to the voices of doubt and the haters who are jealous of your talents and gifts.  Follow your heart and step out in faith.”

“I have to go now.  It’s almost time for you to change trains anyway.”  I look around in surprise and see that she is correct.  “Just remember, whenever you look at your phone and see my image – I’m not “shhing” you to be quiet.  I am reminding you to “shh” the voices that are stopping you from living up to your fullest potential.  Go forth and conquer.”

And with that, she disappeared.  Not abruptly or quickly.  It was more like a scattering of golden pixie dust.  I looked at my phone, and there she was – only now it seemed like she was winking at me … in encouragement … to move forward.

I gathered up my stuff and moved to the door of the train with a spring in my step and a new purpose in my heart.  Let’s see where this takes me.

A Great Group of Women

Writing 101 Challenge, Day 6:  Today, you’ll write about the most interesting person (or persons) you’ve met in 2014.

It’s a bit of a cheat for me to write this, because I have known this group of women (or most of them anyway) since before 2014.  I am joined with this group of women because of a shared religion and belief system, but in the past year, this friendship and fellowship has developed into so much more.  Called “Spiritual Sorors” (in homage to some of the women’s Greek sorority ties) or “Sisters for Eternity (in homage to the sisterhood that we pray will continue, not only on this Earth, but in heaven for eternity), this group of women is an eclectic group of women from various backgrounds, living a variety of types of lifestyles, crossing age divides and career paths, all bonded by friendship and faith.  The women in this group are younger and older, married and single, with children and without, dating and celibate, career women and students – but the diversity of the group is what makes it so very interesting and fulfilling.

At least once a month, we strive to get together for a variety of cultural events:  movies, painting parties, restaurant dining – we’ve even spent a Saturday night playing games at Dave & Busters.  The group participants change with each event:  have you ever tried to wrangle 20+ schedules and interests and budgets at one time?  But, every time the group gets together, a grand time is had by all.

Initially, the group was started to provide cultural events for a group of mainly single women in our church.  It was an opportunity for us to get together, do things around our city, in the comfort and fellowship of friends, without missing out on events because we didn’t have dates, or didn’t want to go alone.  As time went by, more women were invited – some older, some younger, some married, some recently divorced or no longer dating – and like the old Prell commercial, one person told somebody, then they told somebody and they told somebody, and the group grew.

I know there is a (mis)conception that women cannot get together for any period of time without there being a fight, or some gossip, or some other drama and mess.  But in all the outings I have ever attended with these women, in stark contrast to that perception, we have always had a wonderful, drama-free experience where everyone has a wonderful time experiencing what Christian sisterhood can and should be about.  As time goes on, and we invite more and more people to join us, the fellowship gets better and better.

I am blessed to call these women “sisters” and I look forward to more interactions with them in the days, weeks, months and years to come.

The Greatest Teacher of Them All

Daily Prompt:  Dream Teacher:  You can choose any person from history to teach you any topic you want. Who’s your teacher, and what do they teach you?

Any person from history, huh?  From the start of time (Adam and Eve) to now, that’s a WHOLE LOTTA people to choose from.  I mean, there’s Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., who could teach me about grace and patience and leadership.  There’s Marilyn Monroe and Coco Chanel who could teach me about channeling my inner diva (as IF I needed help with that!).  William Shakespeare, who could teach me about writing and putting thoughts into words that would last for eternity.  Helen Keller, who could teach me about how to FULLY enjoy the world around me, despite any “shortcoming” or “handicap” I might have.  And even though they may not have impacted world “history”, there are people in my lineage and heritage who have lessons to teach:  my great-grandmother, Rachel, who was one generation removed from slavery; my grandmother who was raised by her Indian grandmother when her mother died before my grandmother was five years old; and even my mother, who had her own run-in with prejudice when she became the first Black worker behind the lunch counter of Woolworth’s in Savannah.  (Of course, she didn’t “look” Black – hence, the controversy)

As a Christian, I automatically thought about Jesus as the ultimate Teacher of them all.  But as I started to write about Him, I realized that, I already have access to Him and His teachings, through a book we all know as the Bible.  And as a Seventh-day Adventist believer, I can read further insights into His teachings through the writings of His prophet, Ellen G. White.  It is just up to me to take the time to study, delve into His Word, and then listen to the lessons He has for me.

 

The Loss of Innocence

Writing 101 Challenge:  Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to write in response to this challenge.  There are several people who I have lost – to death, to misunderstandings, to whatever – but that seemed like it would be hard and cliche.  I thought about writing about losing my virginity because it TRULY is a funny story, but this is a PG blog and that might be waaaay too much information to share on the blogsphere.  And there are probably lots of stories to be told about lost dreams, lost keys, losing my way.  But then the “perfect” story came to mind.  The loss of my innocence when it came to political matters.

We all remember the hype around the 2008 Presidential election.  When I think back to that November night when it was announced that Barack Obama was elected as the 44th President of the United States – a Black man with that lovely family and those two cute little girls – I am still (almost) moved to tears.  As the cameras panned the crowds gathered at Grant Park in Chicago, IL, I was struck by the diversity of the gathering:  young, old, Black, White, male, female, straight, gay, Native American, Asian – the list goes on and on – I naively believed in the hope of a “new, post-racial America”.  And even though I’d had some serious, emotionally bloody conversations with friends who didn’t believe as I believed politically about his ability to pull this country together and help move us through the problems that were facing our country at that time, I HONESTLY believed that we were starting a new chapter in the history of America when it came to race relations and I believed that we were going to put our political differences behind, roll our sleeves up, and work together for the common good of ALL Americans.  I mean, Hillary and Bill came around, surely the rest of the country would follow their lead and we could all move forward, right?  WRONG WRONG WRONG.

It took a minute.  It wasn’t an immediate, overnight, whiplash kind of turn of events, but slowly and surely, it became more and more apparent that, while President Obama won in a LANDSLIDE victory, a lot of people who voted for him (Black and White alike) expected him to walk on water, perform miracles and convince people across the political aisle to work with him hand in hand as we all sat around the campfires singing Kumbaya.  Even some of my more politically savvy friends who, initially agreed that it was going to “take some time” to “turn things around” – and who told me shortly after the election that they would give him two years to make a change – six months later were complaining that things were not turning around quickly enough.  Speaker of the House John Bonehead, I mean Boehner, came out and publicly stated that the #1 agenda of the Republican party was to stop the President and his agenda NO MATTER WHAT.  It didn’t matter if his ideas would benefit millions of disenfranchised Americans or not.  It didn’t matter if the idea made sense.  And, in some cases, it didn’t matter if the Republicans themselves thought up the idea, wrote the bill, and presented it as their own – if President Obama said, “Oh, that sounds like a great idea, let’s run with it.” – all of a sudden, the idea was taboo and stalled in the House.  And I sat in my room in Atlanta, GA and watched the shenanigans and thought, “Wow, I never expected this.”

But my political innocence was stripped away more by my personal interactions with my friends who believed differently than I did politically.  It wasn’t a blatant, shocking, bandage ripped off of an open wound, kind of stripping.  (Which in some ways, would have been easier to deal with.)  It was more subtle.  It was the “Look at what YOUR President has done now” kind of comments.  It was the unavailability to meet for lunch or dinner or even over the water cooler at work.  (Granted, my change in work schedule may have helped that along the way, but that doesn’t account for every slight and dig and rescheduling of get togethers).  It was the comment of “Why are you even watching that? Aren’t you a Democrat?” when I commented on watching the Republican National Convention when it was time for Mitt Romney to be dubbed the Republican candidate against President Obama’s re-election bid.  This comment was soon followed with the comment “Mia Love. Mia Love.  Did you see her speech?”, as if my SOLE and ONLY interest in what the Republicans were saying was embodied in the one speaker they had who looked like me.  (Young, gifted, female and Black).  Seriously?  Do you think I am that dumb and easily persuaded?

My political blinders have been stripped away at the less than subtle, outrageous statements and actions of the citizenry since President Obama was elected, and then re-elected.  From Joe Wilson’s infamous “you lie” disruption of a speech by President Obama, to the visions of his likeness being hung in effigy, to the years-long debate about his birth certificate and true citizenship, and just the blatant disrespect of the man and the office – my political innocence is gone.  And while most people would want you to believe that their opposition has nothing to do with his race, heritage and color – explain to me the people who support the Affordable Care Act as being something good for the country, but are opposed to Obamacare.  (Uh, they are one and the same, people.)  It baffles the mind.  I have friends who have benefited from Obamacare – will admit that their premiums are lower, the coverage is better, and they are pleased with their new coverages – but in the next breath, will rail against how Obamacare is going to be the worst thing ever to happen to America.

I wanted to believe in a “post-racial” America. I wanted to believe that we could be better than the history of this country has shown us to be.  I wanted to believe, especially after the President’s re-election in 2012, that things would get better and we would eventually, as a nation, gather around the campfire to sing.  But that hasn’t happened, and at this point, with only 2 years left in office, my hopes are pretty much dashed against the shores of disappointment.

Maybe this country will treat Hillary better when she takes office in January 2017.  One can only hope.

Letter from my Grandfather

Writing 101 – Day 6:  Be brief.  You find a letter on a path.  Write about how it makes you feel – and be brief.

One day, while going through some files, I came across a file labeled “JUNQUE WORTH SAVING”.  In this file was an old, tattered, worn envelope.  Upon opening it, I discovered a letter to me from my paternal grandfather, who died in January 2001.  To understand the significance of this, you have to know my grandfather NEVER wrote me anything.  Even my birthday cards were signed for him by my grandmother.  As I read it, I was flooded with emotion and burst into tears.  It is not important what he said – but I felt the love, support and encouragement in that letter.  After I read it, I folded it up, and put it back.  I have not read it again since that day, but there is a peace that comes from knowing that it is there if I ever want to be reaffirmed of his love for me.

Day Three: Three Songs (Are they kidding?)

Writing 101 Challenge:  Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

When I read the challenge for today, my immediate response was, “They are outta their minds – who can limit their experience to JUST three songs?”  Not the kid.  Music is an integral part of my life and who am I.  After all, I was that kid that the grandparents pushed up front, in front of the entire church, at age 6 to sing “IT’S RAINING JOY” by the Blendwrights because they thought it was cute to hear me try to hit the high notes, and I was too dumb to know that I could say “No” (even to my grandparents).  In elementary school, I played the clarinet, with some skill, but after my mom paid for my instrument, I lost interest.  (But, by then, I had learned how to control my breathing and I found out that was very useful when kissing boys later in life.)  In high school and college, I sang in choirs and small groups and in the shower.  And if you catch me at the right time, you might (even now) see me driving down the highways, windows down, radio turned up as loud as I can stand it, singing to the top of my voice IF “my song” just happens to come on the radio.  But what might be considered “MY SONG” at the moment might not be “MY SONG” a day, a week, a month later.  Music is fluid and its influence changes as your life, situation, reality changes.  That is a powerful thing.  So, instead of writing about three specific songs, I choose to accept today’s challenge by writing about three specific genres of music that mean the world to me:  gospel, jazz and rhythm & blues (or R&B).

GOSPEL:  This is the music of worship and praise to God and an integral part of my life.  Growing up, my parents played a LOT of gospel music – Andre Crouch, the Blendwrights, the Faith Quartet (from my grandparents’ home church), James Cleveland – the list goes on and on.  Through the words of these songs, I learned about my Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I learned of His love for me.  I learned that, no matter what I was going through – no matter what I did (or didn’t do) – His love for me was steadfast and true.  As I grew older and developed my own relationship with HIm, I discovered songs of praise and thanksgiving that helped me hold on through dark days and tumultuous times.  MY SOUL IS ANCHORED, BLESSED ASSURANCE, BE GRATEFUL – songs that send chills up my spine every time I hear them, no matter how good (or bad) the voice singing them.  Powerful music that stirs my heart and leads me straight to the Cross.  I could not sustain my spiritual well-being without gospel music.

RHYTHM & BLUES:  Even though I was living in New York City when the craze that has become “hip hop” music took hold, it never appealed to me.  Well, there was that one song by the Sugarhill Gang, but other than that, I never was a fan of the genre.  But throw some good ole R&B on the radio (or Walkman or iPod), and I was enthralled and entertained for hours.  Singers like Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross & the Supremes, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, Minnie Riperton – those were the artists my mom made us listen to when the thump thump thump of rap/hip hop got to be too much.  Then as i got older, Luther Vandross, Phyllis Hyman, Anita Baker, and Patti Austin sang the songs that became the soundtrack and background music of my romances and heartbreaks and good times with friends.  To this day, I cannot listen to certain songs (and albums) without IMMEDIATELY being transported back in time to a certain place or the memory of a certain person or without the invocation of a specific feeling or emotion.  The memories of my life are wrapped up in R&B music.

JAZZ:  And then there is jazz.  Whether it is the traditional, moody jazz of the masters:  Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn – or the more contemporary instrumental stylings of Boney James, Wynton Marsalis, Alex Bugnon and Kenny G – or the vocal gymnastics of Rachelle Ferrell and Dinah Washington – jazz is the music of grown folk.  I remember my father playing jazz on Sunday mornings when I was a child growing up and thinking, “Man, why can’t he play something good?”  It was years later before I could understand the value of sitting down and listening to jazz, dark room, eyes closed, engulfed in the sounds coming from a trumpet or saxaphone or piano.  And nothing compares to being at a concert (the smaller the venue the better) and actually seeing, hearing someone use their talents to coax beautiful, haunting, memorable sounds from their instrument – whether it is their voice or some piece of wood, metal or brass.  Jazz is the musical tapestry – all crazy colors, joined together to form something beautiful – that reminds me that sometimes things in life may be chaotic, and seem not to make sense, but when it all plays out – there is a reason, there is a purpose – and life is (eventually) beautiful (again).

Yep, gospel, R&B and jazz.  Cannot imagine my life without any and/or all of these genres of music.</p>

 

Room with a View

IF YOU COULD BE ANYWHERE RIGHT NOW, WHERE WOULD YOU BE?

Today’s writing challenge is all about “being somewhere”.  When I initially read the prompt, my mind went to a physical place that I would want to be – and my first, immediate, without question, thought was “I would want to be standing at the base of the Eiffel Tower, looking up, snapping a picture of all those beams and cross-beams” (closely followed by sitting at an outside cafe somewhere in the Greek Islands).  And so, my initial thought was that I was going to write about my love for Paris (a city I have yet to visit) and why I can imagine myself as an ex-pat, living somewhere along the Seine, in a small room that would not hold 1/4 of the material STUFF I have accumulated in my 50 years of life – wearing black all the time (with splashes of purple just for kicks) – drinking coffee (and wine) – going to the local store every day for my “daily bread” (and veggies) – and (re)learning how to speak French so eloquently that my fellow Parisienes would NOT look at me with disdain as a “dirty American”.  Yep, I would win them over with my charm and grace and loveliness.

But as I started writing this blog – LITERALLY, as I hit the button for NEW POST, I decided that I wanted to write about a different kind of place.  A mental, spiritual, “me and who I am” kind of place.  And when I asked myself THAT question, I realized that there is no other place I would rather be than where I am right now.  In all honesty, my life did not turn out to be what I thought, hoped, imagined it would be when I was younger.  I mean, doesn’t every girl dream of a wedding and a husband and kids?  I had those dreams at one point of my life, but that is not the life that God has handed me.  I never imagined that as I approached my 50th birthday, I would be single, no kids, living in a home with my retired mother, being the “responsible one” for so many people in my life.  But that is my reality.

Sure, there are times when I want to go screaming to the mountains and rail against how my life didn’t turn out.  After all, as people KEEP telling me, “you are such a wonderful person, I cannot believe someone hasn’t snatched you up by now.”  Or, “you are so good with kids, how come you don’t have any?”  And even, “Girl!  My hat is off to you for living with your mom like you do.  I couldn’t do it.”  And if I believed in alternate universes and the like, somewhere out there, there is a Kristina who is living what I once considered my “dream life”.  She is skinny (ok, skinnier), she has Denzel or Shemar or one of their twin brothers as a loving, devoted, thinks she made the sun shine, husband.  She has two well-behaved, smart, good looking, respectful children.  There is money in the bank and food in the house and a convertible in the garage of her well-appointed beach house.  Yeah, she is living the good life.  And good for her.  I’m only a little envious.

I say I am happy to be where I am right now in my life because, despite some trials, life is good.  I have lived in my house for 17 years and have never been late with a mortgage payment.  I have been able to provide a home for my mother for that same amount of time, and while at times it can be challenging – two grown woman with very different outlooks on life under the same roof – I am grateful for the opportunity to honor her as is Biblically mandated.  While the bank accounts are not flush with extra money, every month I am somehow able to meet most, if not all, of my financial obligations, and as my voluptuous figure will let you know, there is ALWAYS food in the house to store, prepare and enjoy.  I have been on the same job for the last 14 years and still enjoy going into the office every day at the appointed time.  I work with a great group of co-workers, and for the most part, my job is a stress-free environment for me.  Who can say that in these hectic times?  I am blessed beyond measure and I know all of these good things come from my Heavenly Father above.  So, why would I not be content to be where I am, right now?

Yes, one day, I hope to stand at the base of the Eiffel Tower.  One day, I’ll sip some exotic Greek drink on Santorini.  But until then, I’m gonna squeeze every bit of happiness I can out of being here, in Atlanta, Georgia, living the life God has given me.  It don’t get much better than that.