Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Thank You, God! (Getting My Smile Back)

Thank You, God!  (Getting My Smile Back)

All of my life, people have come up to me – many of them strangers – and said, “You are always smiling!”  While I don’t realize that I’m smiling, under ordinary circumstances I guess I don’t take life very seriously.  And apparently, that shows.

I’ve made some valuable friends that way.  And years ago, at a time when I was having problems, a friend came and asked me what was wrong.  When I wondered how in the world she had known, she replied, “You’ve stopped smiling.”

Two years ago, when my husband died, I’m reasonably certain that I stopped smiling again.  For how long, I don’t know, but it seems I have now gotten my smile back!  I went out a couple of nights ago and three different people came up to me and told me what a beautiful smile I had, with one of them even adding, “And you know how to use it!”

Such nice people I meet, sometimes!

This was God’s way of letting me know that I am going to be okay.

And while I’m not entirely sure when or where I got my smile back, if you’ve lost yours, especially after losing a spouse, I do have a few suggestions:

1.      Take a vacation, if you can.  This sounds simple enough, but I have an older sister who almost had to force me to take one, even paying a large part of my way.  I kept asking God, wasn’t I supposed to stay home and look after my mother?  God kept telling me to go, every time I asked – and I kept asking.  (I just kept thinking that I hadn’t understood Him correctly.)

We went to Italy.  I had never, in my entire life, expected to go to Italy.  It was nine days of fun.  When it was over, I realized that I had rediscovered my sense of humor.  Up until that point, I hadn’t even realized that it was missing.  (Thank You, God, for giving me back my sense of humor!)

2.     Express gratitude.  Stop worrying so much about yourself and your life and where everything apparently went off course!  This is what I kept telling myself this year.  God has blessed me nine ways from Sunday.  I have the most amazing family, outstanding friends, a beautiful home to live in, food to eat, clothes to wear, places to go and things to do, new people to meet, books and articles to write.  (Thank You, God, for profoundly blessing my life!)

3.     Pay attention to the opposite sex.  Yes, seriously, it really is okay.  I admit, I never expected to notice again, but when I was in Italy, I noticed some of the men there.  (Have you been to Italy?  Kind of hard not to notice!  Especially if they happen to be serving you pizza…)

After returning home, I realized that I had also started noticing some of the men here.  I had forgotten how cute and charming American men can be, and some of the best ones are right here in the South.  There was this really cute cowboy who walked by and smiled at me the other day…but that’s a story for another day.

It’s okay to notice, and it’s fun.  Especially when they notice you back. You’ll definitely get your smile back!  (Thank You, God, for giving me my smile back!)


Monday, November 4, 2013

Southern Scribblers Halloween Video

This is the first ever video of the Mississippi writers' group, "Southern Scribblers."  The membership currently consists of only myself and my friend Margaret, but we manage to have a good time, just the same.  We are hoping for more members soon!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Dealing with the Death of a Spouse

Dealing with the Death of a Spouse

The death of a spouse is one of the most difficult events in any person's life. Here are some of the things I learned when my husband died.
Don't leave the house too soon. I went out within a couple of weeks after my husband's death, once to eat, secondly to church a few days later. Both were in part because my mother wanted to go, but both were too soon. Don't go out just to make someone else happy, no matter how good your intentions might be. Crying in public (or even just trying not to) is never fun.
Read accounts of near death experiences online. There are lots of wonderful stories about Heaven written by people who have been there and back. I lived and breathed these stories for months after my husband died. It was one of the best things I could have done.
Reading nde's convinced me that my husband, in his current existence, is much more alive now than he ever was. My dreams continue to affirm this, even now, a year and a half later. This life is just a dream. Heaven is the reality.
Don't place blame, on yourself or anyone else. I had a tendency to blame myself, feeling that I should have somehow been able to save my husband.
But no one could have saved him. His death wasn't anyone's fault. He belonged to God, as we all do, and God took him home. When I could manage it, I let him go. I still miss him so much that it makes my heart hurt, but I have released him to God. I know beyond any doubt that he continues to exist, that he is happy and whole, and that he is never more than just a heartbeat away from me.
Write your feelings down. I've been writing all of my life, so writing it all down was natural for me. This was also one of the best things I could have done, as it helped to bring my feelings out in the open where I could deal with them. Two days after my husband's funeral, I started writing to him, and to God.
Work through your feelings by using your own experience to help others. Trying to find a way to channel one's own feelings into helping others is also a good way to deal with them. Helping to counsel others going through the same experience would be a good choice.
Relax. One of the things I learned was how to get my priorities straight. Life really isn't about things, money, jobs, houses, cars, how I look, who I know, or what other people think of me. Life is about helping, giving to, and loving other people, living in the moment, being grateful for every single day that God gives me. Life is about spirit.
If you're reading this article, and you've lost a spouse, remember that you still have things to do. That's why you're still here. The pain will get easier to bear, even if it doesn't seem like it could. Go ahead and live your life to the best of your ability. When you have the strength to do so, spread as much happiness as you can find to spread.
And remember not to sweat the small stuff. None of it is important.

Friday, August 9, 2013

How to Find Your Sense of Humor

How to Find Your Sense of Humor

Sometimes, a sense of humor seems to go missing. Here are some tips on how to locate yours when you haven't seen it in a while.

Where did you last see it? Sometimes, a sense of humor can fall through a crack in the floor, just slip sliding all the way down to the ground, and then you really have to dig for it. This is especially likely after you've received a serious blow of some sort. I somehow lost mine after my husband's death, and over a year and a half later, when I wasn't even expecting it, finally found it again in Italy.
I had never been to Italy before, so I didn't realize that it had gotten that far away! Who knew?
Could someone else have taken it? This actually happens more often than you might think, especially if there's someone in your path that you're not getting along with. I had someone at Pizza Hut take mine once, simply because she didn't wait on me when I felt she was supposed to.
Took me until the next day to find it, and then I realized no one had really taken it anyway. It was just buried under my sense of self-righteous indignation. Last place I would have thought to have looked.
Could it have simply run out? This really isn't all that common, although there are times when it can feel as if it is. Life can batter away at a sense of humor until it feels as if it's just been beaten to a pulp and is beyond resuscitation. Humor is surprisingly hardy, though, and given enough time, it can, and usually will, survive. In fact, this generally tends to make a good sense of humor stronger than ever.
My advice? Take your sense of humor out and beat it silly at least once a week. Make it really strong!
Could it have gotten loose and run away? I'd have to answer "yes" to this one, because, as I said, I found mine in Italy. I don't know how it got that far away. Obviously, left to its own devices, my sense of humor just wants to play and have fun from the crack of dawn until well into the night, especially in a land where wine flows like water. This is all well and good, but somebody has to pay the bills! (I didn't say me, but obviously, somebody has to!)
My sense of humor apparently loves wine, by the way. Makes it get a little goofy. Or maybe it's always like that.
If, after all of this, you still haven't found your sense of humor, my advice would be to just relax. It'll show up when it gets ready, and probably when you least expect it.
And, possibly, at the most inappropriate of times. (Mine loves to do that!)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fresh and Crispy: Journal of an Italian Walking Tour

On May 26th, I went to Italy with my sister Kay and her oldest daughter, Lisa (with Trafalgar Tour Company).  I haven't traveled much in my life, and this was my first time ever out of the country.  Before I had even left, I realized that both my family and friends were all expecting me to write about the experience.

Reasonable, since I write about everything that happens to me!  I took a lot of notes, while riding on buses and trains.  What surprised me most was just how quickly that became a book!  It is already online on Amazon.

So many embarrassing things seemed to happen to us that embarrassment quickly became the theme of the book.  And, in part, because the first book I ever published had held so much sadness and grief, I really wanted this book to be just the opposite.  I wanted it to be as humorous as possible.

Those who have read it thus far tell me that I've succeeded.  You'll have to read it and judge for yourself, though!

(Note - An email I received this morning from another member of the tour group mentioned a hangover - I was making sure everyone's first name appeared in the book, and she was glad I hadn't known about that hangover!  I told her that there was always the possibility of a sequel - about embarrassing things that everyone else did on the tour!  Not a bad idea, at that!)

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Sweet'ums the cat died this morning. Wounded by something, don't know what. This is the feral cat that Mama had been feeding for years, and I've been feeding since moving in with her. He would let us about as close as 3 feet, so this morning was the first time I ever got to pet him. Bawling my eyes out. (Sweet'ums picture is on the back of my cookbook, Rustic Breads and Spreads. He was a sweet natured, beautiful cat!)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Invisible Bridge

Anyone who has read my book, "The Invisible Bridge," knows that I started writing it two days after my husband's funeral.  What I probably didn't mention was how often he and I used to go to the local Huddle House!  We both loved to eat out, and that seemed to be his favorite place to go!

Mama and I haven't eaten there much, today was probably only the third or fourth time since Odie's death.  Combine that with the oldies music they usually play - much of it from the seventies or early eighties when Odie and I were either dating or just married - and the fact that I haven't been able to get him off my mind for the last two days - and I'll admit that it was just a bit difficult for me to maintain my equilibrium.

Impossible to say how much I still miss him!  Next month would have been our 37th wedding anniversary, y'all.  So for those who are wondering - after about a year and a half, it's better, it gets easier to be a widow, you might even go for days or weeks without a sad thought.  That doesn't mean it won't all come crashing down around you occasionally. 

Especially if you're approaching a wedding anniversary!