On a particular day last year the Nashville Literati ( Literary Libations )were going to do our Dutch Lunch thing. This time we'd chosen the Loveless Cafe as our destination. Things happened. Court cases, Children and cats and cooties. In the end - it was only myself and an author I'd never met or heard of. Ariel Allison Lawhon Over biscuits and iced tea we discovered we had a few things in common like Taos, NM, and a wise-cracking kind of bona fide faith and a love for the power of story. She had brought an advanced reader's copy of her new novel for Lisa Patton Fortunately for me, our beautiful southern belle didn't make it. I snatched that book like nobody's business. Then took it with me to Orcas Island to a writing retreat. I shouldn't have because I spent a little too much time READING instead of WRITING. And I emailed this woman I didn't know to tell her I was kinda frustrated that her novel was this good. A page turner that I literarily could not put down. Three great female leads for an upcoming movie. (Hollywood are you listening?) It must, must, must be made into a movie.
I passed the novel to my mother and said, this is different. It's set during this time period. I think you are going to like it. She couldn't put it down. Kept saying it was going to catch on like wildfire and sell a million copies. She's been more interested in the success of this novel than any of mine. (Not really - but almost. She's a major cheerleader for it.) So, Mom gives it two green thumbs up.
In the meantime, before it hits the big screen, you can discover this novel for yourself. Buy it locally in Nashville or order anywhere. It's in beautiful, collectible, hardback. Dish out the dollars and enjoy this feast of a story.
(Be certain you are signed up to receive our Newsletter! One reader chosen from random will receive an autographed copy of The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress!)
One of the problems of being a writer is the fact that you are always writing. In your head. But not always getting it down on paper. Or the screen. Or posted.
As I was living out my days during the holidays I kept thinking - I should post this on Facebook, twitter, blog. But then I was in the middle of it so I kinda had my hands full and I don't seem to be a twitterpath like my friend author Shellie Rushing Tomlinson so I simply live and think. A lot. And on some slower moments, write and share about it.
Christmas dinner this year at our house was served by Cosco in the form of finger foods. And lots of them. I swore to people it felt like I had JUST washed and put away the Thanksgiving dishes which consisted of ham, turkey, dressing, pies, cakes and more - and more! So I bolted on the Christmas dinner. The trays kept coming, the presents were opened and husband later told me, "There were 11 people, three dogs, and two cats in here." He cracks me up this man of mine.
Thanks to that same good man we had a roaring fire in the fireplace and for just a moment the carnage under the tree of wrapping paper and boxes was piled up high. Not big presents, mind you. Just tiny things for everyone. But it was the together that was my greatest blessing. Our little house overflowed with Mom, and Sister and the Niece and nephew, son and daughter-in-law, and the youngest Michael and Damon otherwise known as - the Charmings AND cousin Deb from Florida. I kept wanting to stop all the festivities to say wait, I am thankful, I am thankful, I am ever so thankful but between the baby and platters coming and going and dogs to chase down and cats to catch it was just the right amount of our family crazy. So I was never able to stop it all for a formal benediction. But there was a perpetual one playing in my heart.
And it continues as we have made our way for a few days to the coast to see our Adorables. It's so good to hear their laugher in the house. So their beautiful Mom is cooking our dinner and son and husband are building something and the girls are playing games from Santa and I am thinking how rich this time is with moments worth living.
I hope wherever you are that your most high, holy days were full of family and laughter and food and peace and light and all the good things that come from living a simple life.
The photo? - Well, who can't love a kid and her camel sharing a good laugh? :)
I once wore a short skirt to a prayer meeting. And, I'll get into that in a minute.
For some reason this memory popped into my mind today. Maybe because I was reading Psalm 18 and for some reason something in it struck me as familiar. But then something in the Psalms usually do. The whole - I'm a mess, all is hopeless, help me, help me, help me - God is good - thing. But when I had this memory + thought of blogging it = it came up too personal. I always think like everything is too personal. Introverts by nature usually do. And then I end up telling strangers everything. Or 'near 'bout as we might say in the South.
So - back to the prayer meeting.
It was the first year I was married to Owen and we were going to a sort of Gospel prayer dinner thing for men and their wives with a speaker. The speakers were usually incredible and I enjoyed that part immensely. The speakers would be followed by a short prayer service. Herein lies the story.
On this particular occasion I wore an outfit that in retrospect might not have been the very best for the occasion but then again - it sure wasn't the worst! I had on hose after all and modest heels. I also had on this skirt that was a little short. It was pink pinstripe and I think I wore it with a black turtleneck and it had a matching little jacket. Think Doris Day'ish. But a little shorter. Ok, maybe a little extra shorter. It was however one of husband's favorite outfits on me and our going 'out' if you will was not frequent. The Gospel dinner was an date'ish kind of out. He wore a suit so I wore my suit. He was happy. I was introverted. But happy to be with him happy.
We enjoyed the evening but I noticed a few 'looks' as I was coming back from the restroom to the table. Those kind of oh my, my withering looks. That's probably the first time I thought - hmmm, genius, this might not be the best little suit to wear to the gospel dinner. Husband was all smiles. I suddenly wanted a pair of overalls.
After the dinner, after the speaker, we arrived at that great prayer moment where people would (yes, if you are not from the south and have never been to a gospel type of meeting skip this part) would lay hands on you and pray. I remember distinctly one of those people saying, "God, please let her receive."
And I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt it was because of my skirt. Now, you should know I'm not that tall. My twelve year old niece has more leg than I do. So I couldn't be showing a lot of leg I didn't have. And all that going on back there was in no way hanging out. Still . . . that was their prayer. The people praying were judging me in their offered prayer. As if they needed to intercede on my behalf with God. Oh what testy, troubled waters that is.
They meant well. They really did. But, don't we always. Or, at least frequently. They had no idea what my relationship with God was, the fact that we were on a real, personal basis. Or that during that season in my life I fasted a lot for the state of the whole world. (Which may have been why that skirt looked so good when I think of it.)
How often we look at someone and think they're rich, they don't need prayer. They're poor and they choose to be that way. They're homeless because they are weak. They are guilty, they are illegal, they are - other. Other than me, than us, than our tribe.
I hope that the lesson I learn from that is that when my eyes tend to look at someone and begin to ask God to please let them see the wrong of their ways, that I'll focus more closely on the wrong of mine. That I'll be able to stop praying with my mind, but pray from my heart instead. That I won't be moved to pray for the perfect because they don't exist.
Because trust me, If judgement ruled the day, I would have been stoned a long time ago. And, that I can live with. What bothers me is how many rocks I would have thrown at the innocent.
And that, my friends, is the bona fide truth today.
I am bona fide sick. And been stuck that way for what seems a month. (Cough, cough, cough.) My family is quite sick of me being sick and husband and now, cousin Deb have come down sick and they are trying to pin the blame on me.
"Hey, I tell them, there are other, (cough, cough,) sick people, (cough, cough,) in this world.
And, it's almost Thanksgiving. Which means it's almost Christmas. And, I am so very, happy. Mostly. Really.
Particularly, for an Eyore child. (I have a beautiful little book on my desk - 'Eeyore Be Happy' that sits next to a little pensively smiling stuffed Eeyore courtesy of that great reader Denise Mitchell to remind me to be - happy, happy, happy.)
And while I'm not all Tiggerish crazy happy, in the middle of this messy life and struggling to accomplish all running on a quarter tank of well, I am still pleasantly peaceful. I made it to Florida to gather Mom, her mighty little Scottish terrior Duncan, and her things and return to Nashville. We had an uneventful eight hours or so on the road. No breakdowns. No bad weather. But hours full of stories.
I would ask Mom one question and she would answer. In the quiet, rolling miles, that uninterrumpted space that road trips provide, she was able to fully answer me. To remember things that she hadn't thought about in years. And to take the time to actually finish the story.
These are stories I may never hear again and I try to tap them down to memory, to hold on tight, to help some of them get to the page. My mother is carrying an entire generation before her and I'm thinking how to protect all those tangilble things they saw, they carried, they left behind. I want my grandchildren to know what came not just before them through their parents, and through me, but the before, before. The stories or as Cormac McCarthy might refer to in, The Road as the light.
At my middlin' age of this beautiful between, I have begun to appreciate things in a new light. A grandbaby's giggle or silly dance, my mother watching the sunset or staring at the moonlight. And I'm so aware in the moment that I am standing there with her, holding her hand, staring into the sky that everything has become both now and forever. The moments timeless, and a bit heaven sent.
Except for this perpetual coughing. I think it comes from the pits of hell. And that it's also why God made good Kentucky bourbon.
I'm back. And my brain feels both blessed and a bit bruised maybe from the recent SIBA trip. (See Radio page) I have had the extreme honor and privilege of interviewing - which for Clearstory is more like chatting with good friends with authors attending the SIBA trade show. The list is too long to type here without running out of time. It included some of my all time favorite authors like Elizabeth Gilbert and Lee Smith, favorites for a number of reasons like Joshilyn Jackson who has known me since college and the beginning of good words, and great new discoveries.
But - right now looks like me staring out the window at the rain and thinking - I need to make a doc appt for a check up. I need to write 5000 words today. I need to edit interviews from SIBA, upload, check social media to check on a the illness of a friend's husband, make professional appts about professional things, write a friend, call my Mom and walk her through using her smart phone, pick up medicine for me and the dog, cook dinner, blog, and pray and walk and breathe, and plan my funeral. (I'll save that for an upcoming blog but I'm not dying any faster than I know of - it's just a southern thing.) And complete a few interviews about an upcoming event in Panama City Beach next week. Which means I need to pack. Which means I need to shop because I am out of decent clothes to wear in public and my jeans from Walmart most likely won't cut it for this event. (I'm not a shopper unless it's for tech toys, purses from Italy, or Channel perfume. And the rest of my fun shopping is from flea markets, yard sales and Goodwill.)
Why are we all so crazy busy? Because I know it's not just me. It seems to be everyone I know. But the fact is - as Celia Rivenbark says, I'm living the good life, baby - because I am. I get grand baby hugs and kisses. And I get to talk to you, and to authors I love and you love, and to promote their work. And on my very, good days I work in a letter to a friend, a little treadmill time, and I write a few 1000 original words.
On my worst days where I don't meet any of my lofty goals, overdraft my checking account by 32 cents, lose something important on the way to the coffee pot (who can do that!?!) and be a total mess all day, I still manage to say a prayer for a stranger that crosses my path. An imprint of a face, of a name, of a something about someone that I may say nothing more to than How are you? But by God I mean it. And I think in the end - that's what makes all the difference in the world.
Peace to you as you go about living your sloppy, beautiful, messy life. We're living the dream, baby. Living the dream!
Thanks so much for reading, liking and sharing with friends.