From An Old Soul, With Love

Among the things I once did a LONG time ago was to find and gift used vintage holiday cards. Not only is the artwork a surprise and delight, but it brings me nostalgia for times I never knew.

This Xmas card is postmarked on Dec. 21, 1909.

Now, years later, I love using my genealogy ability to find either the receiver or sender and look back at their life. If I wanted, I could find one of the descendants of William Early. William, to whom the postcard was sent. I could unravel the entire biography for the sender, Bessie McGivern of Galesburg, Illinois. She aged into a beautiful woman. I found several pictures of her.

I don’t know the sender’s and receiver’s connection.

But I love that I COULD find out if I wanted – to crack open a spider’s web of connections throughout history, time, and geography.

So, when I see used vintage cards, I don’t see relics or dusty, useless reminders.

When I give them, I’m giving something of myself; the admiration of life shared. You might not know it by looking at me, but I feel a kinship to some of the old ways. Of writing, of postcards, of delayed communication. If you get one from me, I’m also reminding you that life is fleeting and that one day our lives will be footnotes, memories, and details.

I see art.

I see life.

I see footprints of those who preceded us, much in the same way we’ll precede those who follow.

Time. Love. Connection.

Love, X
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P.S. *You’ll note that back then, “Xmas” was completely acceptable, before disinformation spread to lessen its beauty.

Xmas Love

This is Santa on Dec. 26th.

Unfortunately, it represents a lot of other people, too.

Xmas doesn’t have to wind us up, tear us down, or obligate people to cook, clean, or let the holiday grind them into fatigue.

There’s another way: it is simply a matter of choice and the realization that it doesn’t have to “be” a certain way at all.

For a holiday that’s predicated on the essential spiritual meaning for so many people, I hate watching people get trapped into obligations that sap them. It’s supposed to be full of love, giving, and celebration.

Not exertion. Nor expenditure.

If you find yourself overextended, tell your friends and loved ones. Ask for help. Choose something different. Just be happy with whatever you choose.

If you can’t afford to give a gift, give your time and love instead. Encouragement. A phone call, a card with a shared memory, or a hug for no reason. Good people never fault someone for being unable to spend on them. Our value lies elsewhere. Time and presence are the gifts that enhance us and neither are replaceable.

Xmas can be whatever you want it to be. You can celebrate however you want and in a way that lets everyone relax and enjoy the season.

God’s love is an embrace for so many people.

And for others, it is the presence of people, family, and friends that light them up. For those lucky enough, the season is wrapped with God’s love and closeness with those who energize them as they are.

I hope you find your internal Xmas light this year.

All of you.

If you do, let it shine.

Love, X
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I Asked

I moved my bedroom from the living room into a bedroom this morning. If that sounds byzantine, it was. I’ve lived in my living room for almost four months. I also exercised and then went running. Whether it was toward something or away, I’m not certain. But I ran. And it felt glorious. It was the fifth time this week and the first in a long time where I felt like I might become airborne as I did so. I bought a set of athletic pants that fit me properly. They are 28-30 small adult/child size. Someone nicknamed me “Babypants.” I don’t take offense. I earned the size. And if you see me running and think I’m doing it strangely, that’s more than okay, too. Doing the work and looking stupid is okay by me. I’m going to look (and sound) stupid quite often. I look forward to it. It puzzles me that people are afraid of looking stupid, saying the wrong thing, or believing that other people have the magic formula for style, method, or appearance. We owe it to ourselves to be as strange as we naturally are.

When I got back from running, the husband of a caretaker for one of the tenants here spent his time waiting by blowing the leaves off the walkway. He watched as I ran up and down the staircase a few dozen times. “Getting your cardio in again? I saw you run up from the road.” I laughed. “Well, I have 30 years worth to catch up on.”

Earlier this week, I did a reset and asked the universe for a couple of favors. Not because I’m deserving of them – but because I’m not. It’s the first time I’ve dared to do so in a long time. The biggest ask is that I avoid calamity or demise for at least another year. A year is long enough to transform anything.

In the same way, I’ve diligently said, “I don’t know” with much greater frequency this year, I’ve also started asking. It’s a tangent to my propensity to state my truth without trying to wrangle someone into a specific reaction. It’s been a wild ride! Those who respond with incredulity that I ask are forgetting the fundamental truth: it’s never wrong to ask; it’s only wrong to respond irrationally on either side of the asking. It’s the cousin to honesty, a thing everyone claims to desire yet few embrace without grimace or discontent.

As I write this, someone texted me in response to another ask. Life can be so precious and quixotic at times, can’t it?

Ask
Ask for what you want or desire.
If you don’t, it is a certainty you’ll never get it.
Ask of life and ask of people.
The answer, though bitter or not what you sought…
It’s at least the truth.
Everything starts from there
Ask

Love, X
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Jane’s Thanksgiving Tree

(This is another inspired story, from a stolen picture…)

She’d been gone five long years. Jane. To think her name caused John’s head to pulse with remembrance.

John stood at the low curb, looking up at the tree. Jane’s father Jack planted it when her parents owned the suburban house. Jane shyly let John kiss her for the first time under that tree, one Thanksgiving afternoon. There were many more such moments, each melting into the next.

A month before their wedding, her parents told them, “The house is yours. Fill it with love and children, if that’s what you want.”

They moved in three days after their simple wedding. Every fall, John jokingly complained about the mountain of leaves that the vibrant tree produced. Jane laughed like she always did, knowing that he’d faithfully rake and mulch the crimson leaves. Eventually. Often, they were still piled dutifully, awaiting John’s attention, by the time Thanksgiving graced the calendar.

After the diagnosis, John went outside each night to stand under the tree and imagine how it must feel to spend one’s entire life without fearing the next day. Or whatever day would bring finality to the love of his life.

Five years later, he stood with his hand on his daughter Jenny’s shoulder, pointing up at the polychromatic leaves. “Your mother loved this tree, Jenny, like she loved you. When the leaves fall, it’s your mom telling you that everything has its season.”

Jenny looked at the tree, then at John. “Oh Daddy, you’re so cute!”

Jane. Beloved.

May every crimson leave bear your name.
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Happy Thanksgiving, especially to those with a heavy heart or a burdened mind.
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Love, X

Her

I stole a picture from someone because it struck a chord in me. In a minute, I wrote down what flowed out of me:

She sat on the pole fence, swinging her legs, laughing.

I watched her, trying to resist taking a picture. I sensed that the moment was fragmentary and fleeting. Her green dress amplified the natural color of the overcast beauty around her. Because my eyes were attuned to notice, I looked at her with wonder.

She said, “Hey, watch!” And she hopped from the fence and ran to jump into the air, vainly attempting to reach the highlighted branches just beyond her reach.

She twirled around to see if I’d been watching.

I had, of course. How could I not?

She twirled around twice more, her hair billowing out and away from her shoulders.

“Come here and dance with me under this magical tree,” she yelled.

The day was perfect. That moment. That place. And her.

G.Y.F.S.T.


I laughed my butt off the first time I saw TikToker Darrin Robinson’s “GYFST” post.

His acronym accurately surmises the ridiculously easy way to improve your life.

It all starts with an implemented commitment to change and do things differently. To stop repeating what hasn’t worked.

I’ve added it to my “Choose Your Hard” and “Nothing tastes as good as this feels” list of mantras.

I find myself repeating it when I’m doing pushups or using dumbbells. It is the most profane and profound mantra to internalize.

Just do it. Differently. And you’ll get something different.

Adjust as needed. Just KEEP adjusting until you find a way.

Love, X
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P.S. I made the picture…

The Wonder

It’s hard to believe it is almost Thanksgiving. It was 56 when I went outside. My plan was to hit the streets for a meandering walk this morning. As I stood on the landing with Güino, I watched the clouds break slightly to expose the moon. The rain started, creating a cauldron of earthy scents. The colorful fairy lights I strung across my landing’s railing seemed to glow even brighter as the humidity bedazzled their radiance. Güino meowed at me and I reached down to pet him as he sniffed the air. “Yes, it’s beautiful,” I whispered to him and took a drink of bitter coffee.

I’m thankful.

I took a terrible-quality picture of the moon. It didn’t matter. I already filed the moment away, realizing that the moon was in my heart for the day.

Love, X

The Other World Nearby

My apartment simplex can’t be described as pretty. It doesn’t need to be. I wish it were a wash of color and eccentricity. It has its pockets of interest and intrigue. With a bit of effort, I could transform the entire look and perception of this place. No matter how wild my tastes, there’s no way the result could be lesser than the status quo.

At the street where the parking lot meets Gregg, Poplar Street ends at the railroad tracks. I listened to the excursion train passing this morning as I lay in bed, not wanting to exit its warmth, even as I felt the urge to jump up and find the cool air outside to greet me – and wave at the passersby on the train. At the terminus of Poplar, there’s a crosswalk that leads to a trail pass-through to the neighborhood behind me, serpentinely connecting Gregg and Poplar to Yates, which branches to several other areas and College Avenue.

I love this pass-through. It opens another world to me without much walking to enter it. When I lived on Vanleer in Springdale, it was land-locked in a huge loopy and closed set of streets. There were a couple of places where such pass-through sidewalks or trails would have made using the neighborhood safer and more convenient. The pass-through here at Gregg is relaxing, efficient, and a welcome feature of this area. It’s genius. It’s Fayetteville.

This morning, as I let my feet lead me through the back neighborhoods, it was beautiful and much warmer than you’d expect for mid-November. I could smell the mountains of untended leaves, as well as hear the voices and sounds of hundreds of people moving about on their Saturday mornings.

Every person I waved to waved back. One person offered me a cup of coffee to go. “Next time, I promise!” That’s customer service on a neighborhood level.

I took a picture in front of one of my favorite nearby houses. It’s on Miller Street. It makes me think of the quote, “If yellow is such a happy color, why don’t more people use it?” This house, with its screened-in porch and simple old-style lines, strikes a chord in me. It’s the perfect house to imagine Thanksgiving dinner, full of raucous people and mountains of untouched food on every counter.

Thanks for the trail connection through the neighborhood. It’s made a world of difference for me and my link to those around me.

Dear Fayetteville

If people want to see more positive posts, I have one for y’all. I moved from Springdale a few months ago to an older apartment off of Gregg.

There is theft here, gunshots, and activity around drug dealing that gives me pause. That was true in Springdale, too. Where people live, idiocy follows. The majority of us, though, live great lives as best as we are able.

Fayetteville is a great city, full of amenities, sports, churches, activities, eateries, and trails. On a given day, there are dozens of things to do and see if I choose to.

I’ve met some great people. I love walking the streets late at night or early morning. The trails are gorgeous.

Most of all, I like the people here.

It’s human to complain – and our daily lives give us a lot to find grievances.

When something bad happens here, I never find myself faulting Fayetteville. I fault the specific doofuses involved. People will always misbehave. Municipal governments will always confuse us with their choices. They are comprised of individuals, each prone to information overload while attempting the difficult task of finding ways to meet the changing needs and demands of all of us who live here.

Fayetteville is a great city, one with issues, but also one with much to offer.

I love reading the posts on this group, especially when people snark with wit and abandon. Humor helps us diffuse the mess of our daily lives.

If I meet you on the street, I’m going to say “Hi.” Or “DiGiorno,” because it sounds like the Italian word for “Hello.” Being weird fits well here.

I think of Fayetteville as a marriage. We’re willingly here. Sometimes, we love our homes and neighborhoods. Sometimes, we want to sleep on the metaphorical couch and shout at the goofiness we deal with.

I chose a picture of my mundane surroundings. It’s easy to take Kodak moment pictures of the place we live in. But most of my time is spent in my neighborhood. The trail is nearby. And the people that make life interesting surround me.

Thanks, Fayetteville
A New Resident, X