Category Archives: Lemon Moment

Someone’s Story About The Divine

For anyone who wants to read an intimate and personal explanation about their experience with God and the divine, this is for you. A friend shared it with me. It touched me beyond words.
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Recently you posted about how you seemed to wish you were certain of God’s love for you.

I feel the need to share a painful personal story with you.

Let me preface it by saying that faith is a gift I was given as a young child. I don’t know why or how; I only know that I have always had faith. Not just faith in God, but also faith in other people. It is hard to describe the certainty.

Fast forward to my early 30’s. My daughter was 2 years old. She reached childhood milestones early and was speaking, singing, and whistling. In 1996, she had her first seizure, and it was as if the computer in her brain was wiped clean. Rebooted, blank slate. All forward progress was gone. We started over with teaching her to speak and do the things other children did. Each and every seizure took some progress. It was awful. The seizures were poorly controlled, and we were desperate for answers. Which led me to the public library for information. I found several books covering seizures. The one that provided the most information was by John Hopkins University. From that book, I figured out that based upon her seizures, she had one of two conditions. I read that book midday, and it upset me. That was the day before Easter. I went to work that evening, but I was unable to concentrate to transcribe because I was too upset. So I left early. I cried all of the way home and had a VERY angry one-sided conversation with GOD. When I arrived home, I dried my tears because I still had Easter Baskets to make. I made the baskets and went to bed. That night I had the most amazing dream.

It was raining, and we were walking into an unfamiliar building. As we approached the building, the clouds parted, and a face poked through the clouds and said, “You will be ok. It will be difficult, but you will be ok.” Then the face disappeared. That is all that I have ever remembered of the dream. I awoke with the most complete sense of peace. A few weeks later, we took my daughter for an appointment at ACH in Little Rock. We pulled up and discovered the building from my dream. I burst into tears. We were at the right place for her treatment. I also knew that everything would be ok. It has been. She was placed on the correct treatment during that visit, and her seizures became better controlled.

It may sound like sentimental blabber, but I am certain that it is real. I am also certain of GOD’s love because he made certain I had what I needed when I needed it most.

Throughout my life, when times became difficult, there has always been someone new to bring a positive perspective and to show me the way through the pain.

I don’t expect you to grab onto this and suddenly feel GOD’s presence in your life. It is there; you identify it every day in the stories you write. So many of your stories include some form of Divine grace. Open yourself to the possibility that you are worthy of his love because, my friend, you are worthy.

Sometimes we need to forgive ourselves before we allow the best stuff to enrich our lives.
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Love, X

P.S. Imagine someone sharing this kind of story with you? This is the stuff of a life well-lived and appreciated.

Be The Lamp

When I glimpsed her through the window, I first thought she was a dumpster diver. She looked into the dumpster with a quizzical look on her face. Her right arm poked into the container, unable to reach whatever she saw there. She moved to the opposite side and used the disposal lift weld-on to boost herself shakily up. Her upper body leaned into the container. For a second, I was confident she’d tumble inside. I’ve seen it happen before.

She emerged upright, her right hand holding a strange lamp. It had no lampshade, and I could see that the black cord was cut and frayed. She looked down and wondered how she would hop down from her perch. She grabbed the frayed cord and let the lamp gently go inside the dumpster. She held the edge of the cold dumpster and stepped down, her grip firmly on the cord. She then pulled the lamp out of the container and held it, looking at it.

She turned it in her hands, scrutinizing the metal birds that adorned the column of the lamp. I think she was considering tossing it back inside.

I walked out on the landing, for some inexplicable reason hoping she’d keep the lamp.

She walked back toward the apartment building.

“Hey,” I hollered.

She looked up at me as I gestured to her.

She turned to walk toward me and walked over to the bottom of the stairs.

“That’s a nice lamp!”

“I thought so too. The birds are interesting,” she said, turning it and holding it up for me to see.

“If you’d like, I will re-wire it and paint it any color you’d like. It won’t cost much. Just a little bit of time.”

She smiled, surprised.

“That’s kind of you to offer. Hmmm. Blue. I’d like it to be blue.”

“Blue it is in, then,” I told her. “I can get a wiring set for a few dollars and fix it to look brand new. But, if you’re interested, I can do one better. I can show you how easy it is if you want me to. That way, you can make all the lamps you want to.”

“Oh! Really? That would be awesome!” I could see her imagining that she could do it.

“I’ll get the paint and the wiring assembly. Let me know when you want to give new life to your lamp.”

She smiled. “Deal. Thank you.”

Sometime soon, I will give someone the gift of making her found lamp come to life.

Treasure is where you find it.

Love, X

Arborcast Whispers

I’m stealing a moment. Sitting by the creek and the trail. Though I love all types of weather, with the breeze on me and the sun on my head, it’s hard to imagine a better moment. I’ve had a few surprises, each of them making me wonder why I ever doubted my optimism. The beautiful vista doesn’t negate any of the valleys I have walked through  ~ each of them temporarily giving me pangs of self-doubt. Were y’all sitting here with me, I would tell a stupid joke, one which would hopefully make y’all snort. We might look up at the arborcast sky and know that the moment will pass. The shadows under the trees are just that: the sun will soon turn and glancingly illuminate the previous shadows, each in their own time. Like I always do, I pause for a little bit of gratitude. Meanwhile, the breeze passes over me, a whisper of things to come.

Love, X
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I Can Work With That

I love this phrase.

It belies humor, deprecation, affection, and in the right context, a bit of risque.

It’s going to be harder to use it so freely for a while.

You can use it exactly like “That’s what she said.” Or you can use it to circumspectly say something under the radar of the obvious conversation.

“I need five minutes.” Yes. “I can work with that.”

“I’m getting dressed.” Yes! “I can work with that.”

“I need someone to tell me it’s going to be okay.” Definitely. “I can work with that.”

Words and context continuously morph in life. Sometimes, they take on a tinge of remorse. Sometimes, happiness.

I need a minute.

I can work with that.

Love, X

Coincidental Joy

There are days when coincidences flood my life. Because we are thinking animals, it’s easy to find a nexus and connections where there are none. Other days, the barrage is so consistent and overwhelming that I feel like I’m the titular character in a Richard Bach novel. I stop and pet a dog and look up to see that owner bundled in warm clothing is someone I once knew. That a new neighbor gives me a stack of t-shirts and one of them is a green Spongebob-inspired one. (That’s a more complicated story.) A stranger writes me on Ancestry to tell me that they read about one of their ancestors on my blog. A DM of words to tell me that something I wrote five years about my personal history gave them hope that anything can become a story and not a constant reminder of pain. Another to tell me they’d read about 400 of my blog posts and told me he didn’t realize that he could just write about anything he wanted to. Or that he could be honest about the things he was not proud of, a couple of which he shared with me. I got a quick peek at what my life would look like in a year. A succession of hugs, causing laughter and a little bit of merriment. Some hugs are built from scratch and others feel like comfort. I won’t detail all the coincidences, but it was a minor crescendo as the day progressed.

I hear the mockingbird, too, in my head. When I wrote this line, A small bird flew up to my feeder, singing as he ate absurdly large suet balls. My window blinds are open, of course, so that I can watch the world whiz by with ridiculous speed out on Gregg. My feeder is less than five feet away from me, directly in my line of sight. My cat Güino is laying on the extra-wide windowsill I installed, even though the air is chilly through the window. I hear him chirp in response to the small bird, though he doesn’t jump to nuzzle and nose at the window as I expect.

I went for a haircut today, too. I sat and joked with the duo of older barbers. I’m guessing they are unaccustomed to rapid-fire humor. Instead of telling my barber how to cut my hair, I asked him to cut mine as if he were doing “The Ugly Bruce Willis special.” I waited. “How the Jason Statham one where he looks like he lost his mind. Can you do that?” And then I relented and told him that my haircut was the easiest in the world. “#1 attachment and do the rest any damned way you’d like.” He laughed. “Well, I guess you’re right. That is the easiest.” When he was done, he started to hand me a mirror to examine the cut. “Are you kidding? Where’s your self-confidence?” He laughed again. “My Grandpa told me that you should never paint a burned house. Whatever happened here, it’s on me.”

As I left, I asked them where the special bottles of spray were. The older of the two said, “What spray are you talking about.” I smiled. “The one that really good-looking men use to keep the women at bay.” They paused and then cackled. “Oh, it’s not for me. It’s a gift for a friend!”

During my errands, I encountered a few more coincidences. At Peace at Home Shelter Thrift Store, at Harps, and even on the drive home. I felt like a special filter had been placed on my brain.

The brooch is one of several I made for my sister. I have a small collection of both meaningful ones – and lunacy-inspired ones, too.

I chose joy today, even though I had a couple of moments that were like running on a treadmill, blindfolded, and in reverse. But I felt myself insisting on pushing aside the indifference and negativity from the world.

Even as I write this, I know I’m going to have a couple of more coincidences happen. I can feel their scratches at the door of my life.

Love, X
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Lemons And Sunshine

May be an image of tree, sky, nature and road

A few minutes ago I was walking the trail by the hospital for a few minutes. As the spur I walked merged into the main trail, a man walked up with his cell phone held close to his left ear. I said, “Good morning!” and smiled.

To my surprise, he venomously replied, “It’s past noon!”

I flicked my wrist and looked at my Fitbit. It was 12:01.

Without missing a beat I retorted, “Have you been eating lemons?”

He stopped and said, “What do you mean by that?”

Because I am me, I answered, “You seem awful bitter. Are you okay? Do you need to talk? I have a couple of minutes.”

“No,” he said, and he kept walking.

A little further ahead, alongside the perimeter of the apartments that abut the trail, he stopped at one of the long black benches. I walked up towards him.

He turned towards me and said, “The lemon question was pretty good.”

I sat down on the end of the bench. He soon followed.

And he did talk and told me what was bothering him. After 3 or 4 minutes, I told him to wait there and I had something for him. I walked back to my car and got an old pair of headphones and walked back towards him. I half-expected him to be gone. But he was still there. I handed them the headphones and told him that if he needed a ride I would be glad to give him one.

He thanked me twice. I reached out and shook his hand. He actually smiled.

I used the simple human superpower of humor and listening to turn the lemons in his head into something else.

I’ll let him walk away for a minute before I snapped the picture.

The bright sun above me somehow seemed to shine brighter.

Love, X

Stolen Forgetful Moment

It is indeed just a lamp post. Above it, the December sun warms me. Whatever I’m experiencing is almost the opposite of mindfulness. I clocked out at work to walk down the hill to my car. Minutes later, I realized I was walking south on the trail. My feet must have vetoed my routine because I hadn’t even thought about the fact that I was briskly walking, listening to the creek adjacent to the trail, and lost in my thoughts. Before finishing work for the day, I had two disparate moments. The first was a surprise bit of irritation thrown upon me, an undeserved one, from someone responding to words of kindness and appreciation I had offered. Momentarily, my head filled with confusion and disappointment. The second moment was a laughter-filled conversation. When I realized I was walking on the trail, I looked up to see that lamp post illuminated by the bright sun. A congruent and companion light went off in my head. Which of the two disparate moments before leaving work do you think filled my heart? All moments can have meaning, especially if we are intuitive or paying attention. At the apex of my unintended walk, I sat on a ledge overlooking the creek below. The sun sits to the right above me warming my shoulders, even though the rest of me sits in shadows provided by a huge tree. The concrete blocks below me are cool and refreshing. The creek runs swiftly enough to babble its own language. Strangely, I feel like I know what it’s saying: flow, movement, and destination. All that kinetic energy around the low water bridge and walkway that traverses the creek. On one side, a tranquil pool that hides motion. On the other, a boisterous discharge of water trying to find its place. I know I will have to get up and walk back to my car. I think I will keep the sound of the creek in my head for a while and feel the warmth of the sun on my shoulders. I choose to remember the laughter and to forget the irritation. This walk was a stolen moment.

Love, X

Forever Radiant…

I know this can’t go on forever, this radiant burn and energy.

Can you see it in my eyes from the picture?

I’ve earned the wrinkles and the scars. I’ve earned the smile today, too.

I’m sitting here with the door wide open, enjoying a warm December afternoon. Güino, my tuxedo cat, prowls the landing outside, awaiting another squirrel’s visit. I watched a few divebomb the bird feeders outside today, collecting pecans, peanuts, and even suet from the songbird’s offering plate. It’s cloudy outside but such clouds have never brought melancholy; quite the opposite.

When I went outside this early morning and felt the air, I wanted nothing more than to put on my other shoes and take off walking across Northwest Arkansas. Work of course pulled me back to reality. I used the pace of work to draw me into a blurring zone of activity; hallways, concrete, and lots of stairs. Now that I have a Fitbit, I realize that I’m logging 50+ floors each day, which tickles me. I can walk 25,000 steps without giving it a second thought. As my friend Tammy taught me, “Nothing tastes as good as this feels,” the occasional realization that I don’t realize that I’m walking without another hundred pounds of me on my back. It feels like I’m gliding on air a lot of the time. I wish I had done this transformation twenty years ago.

I got to hug Kathy, a coworker of mine who has logged 30+ years there. She’s retiring Friday. I made her a personal canvas with a departing message, one conveying the bittersweet goodbye of her approaching and permanent absence. I didn’t start greeting her warmly or with a hug until a little over a year ago. Covid aside, that’s a shame. Personal connection helps all of us nullify that urge to be ‘professional,’ aloof, or behave in ways that violate our obligation to treat each other as people first and foremost.

Even after work as I wandered Walmart in search of people and stories, I felt like I was radiating an aura of energy. I helped three people while I was there. My biggest reward was saving someone a few hundred dollars on an alternate laptop. I gave the woman my email address and told her to write me if she has any issues with her Chromebook. I wished a few dozen people “Merry Christmas!” as I glided around the aisles. I saw the biggest afro hair I’ve ever seen there. I watched as someone cleverly misused the self-service kiosk to avoid paying for an item. (You get what you make us pay for Walmart.) Another man pulled at least twenty jugs of milk out of the cooler to inspect some unseen quality that only he could see. And I handed the Salvation Army bell ringer her choice of diet or regular soda. Thankfully, she chose regular, leaving me to down the entire bottle of Coke Zero in about two minutes.

If I felt this way every day, I’m not sure it might not be too much. It’s a wondrous feeling while it’s happening. I find myself mourning its eventual loss, though, as ridiculous and odd thing as that might be to say.

My sister wrote me, telling me that she’s still having difficulty, especially now that another round of inevitable physical symptoms creeps up on her. I can’t imagine struggling with addiction and past patterns. The ones I have are enough to keep me dancing; her shadows are longer and deeper than mine. Our pasts overlap and because of that, I understand the complexity.

Meanwhile, I’m going to step outside and take another short walk. I feel like I might be leaving visible energy trails in my footprints. I hope so.

And I hope that some of y’all are feeling exuberant, too, even if you can’t identify the cause. For many of you, it’s Christmas season, when exuberance is supposed to infuse your life like the first observed lightning bug of the summer.

While energy cannot truly be erased, our measure of it is limited by the burning fuse of our lives.

I can FEEL my fuse burning. I know I sound crazy sometimes. But if you can imagine looking up at the sky and sun and thinking to yourself that the same force that powers the universe powers us, it might be more relatable.

What goes up must come down. That’s okay. I’ve captured this day-long feeling of radiance and bottled a bit of it in my memory.

Nothing momentous happened today. And that’s precisely why it felt so precious.

Love, X
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Ha!

I guess it’s only fair that Marilyn and Larry surprised me with a recorder or flutophone. I bought them emergency clown noses a few years ago. True story. Should I go stand in front of Target and pretend that I’m jamming? Will people pay me to shut the heck up? This could be really lucrative. A pay-to-not play win-win!
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Of Life (And Literal Limbs)

Over the last few days, I painted another 6″ X 24″ tile. I drilled holes in six places to make it easier to secure safely in my surprise location. I glued dozens of multi-colored glow-in-the-dark rocks to the front. On the back, I wrote a truth of mine in marker. The truth is very personal. Anyone who wants to know it will have to climb a considerable height to do so.

This makes me happy.

After work today, I climbed a tall tree before I lost my nerve. It’s the first tall one I’ve climbed since my surgery. It was tricky getting up there with a two-foot-long tile strung around my neck as I ascended. As far as I could tell, no one noticed me as I rose the vertical surface of the tree, carefully finding my foothold. After twenty feet, my reluctance vanished, and I forgot all about the possibility of falling. I’m just as likely to get killed by a rogue intestine or a plane falling out of the sky as I am climbing a tree. Besides, I laughed at the idea of my precarious fall being covered on the local news or the What’s Up, Fayetteville group. “Arts & Crafts Take Local Man’s Life” would work nicely. “Idiot Falls While Doing Performance Art” also serves its purpose.

As the limbs thinned out, I stood, watching the area below me. It was beautiful. I took the tile, ran steel wire through the open holes, and secured it from one primarily perpendicular limb. Not wanting to leave the view behind, I sat near the trunk and just felt the wind around me.

It was a stolen moment!

After a few minutes, I climbed down in one quick descent and stood back on the ground. I looked up at the pretty colored rocks and the brightly painted long tile. Yes, that would do nicely.

Where did I place the beautifully decorated tile? That’s the question, isn’t it? Take a moment and stare up into the slowly appearing upper branches of the trees around you. “Look up, not down” is not only a symbolic reminder to find yourself and answers looking directly into the world, but now also a practical guide to ever finding my hidden-in-plain-sight tilework.

Beauty is anywhere you find it, y’all. Even if you never find my tilework, look around and find the people and things that light you up. Give them attention and appreciation. From time to time, look up to behold the wonders that we forget to see. If you can do so, look at yourself in the mirror and remember that no matter who you are, someone loves you. Merry Xmas!

Love, X