Linda Safford



Small-town Vibes in the Big City

When you have a chance to spend a few days with a friend, do it.  If that friend has a front porch, by all means, go spend time there.  Relax, drink something cold, wave to her neighborhood friends and give a pat on the head and a little scratch under the chin to her dog.  Prop your feet up.  Yes, it’s humid but enjoy the gentle breeze and the swoosh of air from the porch ceiling fan.  Be open to any suggestion from your friend — she knows her neighborhood and surrounding community.  Take her advice on restaurants and antique store browsing.  Have long conversations into the night and, most of all, laugh!  

I had this chance recently on a trip to Atlanta to visit my friend, Lisa.  She lives in Inman Park.  Nestled close to city things, this little area is canopied with oaks, dogwoods, and crepe myrtles.  The streets wind over hill and dell past beautiful parks.   You will pass historical homes and cozy bungalows.  Churches stand strong and welcome all — including a filming crew for the television show MacGyver.  You’d think you were in Hollywood but Georgia has fast become a favorite among the film industry.  

Entrepreneurship is alive and well in this community.  We enjoyed delicious meals your Grandma would have made but I think even my Memaw would have said the grits at Rising Son and Highlands Bakery were the best she’d ever put in her mouth.  You know that creamy, soft, yet just a touch of firmness, that makes them oh so Southern.  So good you just want butter on them — no cheese this time.  Eggs are always “iffy” for me in a restaurant but both these breakfast and lunch spots knew that perfect measure of cooking an egg. Friendly servers who made us  feel like family, not a customer. 

Wahoo Grill served a mouth watering Atlantic Coast scallop and Lisa had trout.  We did talk during our meal but not much.  Delicious attention to the preparation and the seasonings really complimented both dishes.  I’ll never turn my back on deep fried fish with a view of the beach but the meal we shared at Wahoo Grill was one I’d return to again and again.  

Folk Art is a cozy corner restaurant  with sports on the flat screens, tasty libations,  and great food.  The menu covers anything you might be looking for — especially with a group of people wanting different things.  While my meal of BBQ pork and sides of vegetables was not my best choice from their varied menu, I did enjoy the atmosphere and I’d return to try other offerings.  I’ll admit I’m a North Alabama and Northwest Florida BBQ fan and it’s hard for me to go off point when it comes to BBQ.  A+ for effort and trying new things, though!  

When it comes down to it, excellent chefs given the proper kudos for their excellent twists on tried and true favorites, my most favorite meal during our visit was at Matthews Cafeteria in Tucker, Georgia.  We traveled a few miles to this friendly restaurant where we had fried chicken, sweet potato soufflé, and turnip greens.  Yes, low carb aside, I even had sweet tea.  Lisa was recognized by a woman serving up the evening meal.  After several years of Lisa and her friends frequenting this restaurant, this lovely woman was still serving.  A blessing to know that in our crazy world jobs are still steady and workers appreciated.  

Plundering through a couple of antique malls, you might find your Mama’s cookware, old books you read as a child, new and unique items, too.  I came close to buying a handmade throw from India.  I looked at it twice and then on the third look decided to let it go.  I settled on a set of nesting dolls from Russia — Matryoshka.  It will be a fun little item for grandkids to play with at LeeLee’s house.  Hindsight?  Should have bought both. 

Good meals, great conversation, belly laughs, seeing a small town in a big city, and friends spurring one another along during a new phase of life — seek out and find these things.  Treasure them.  Enjoy the life you have surrounding you today, including a few things “off plan.”  

Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your sweet Southern hospitality.  You are loved. 

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Monday Morning Prayer

It’s the last Monday of August and summer continues to bear down on us.  The humidity was higher than temperature this morning.  My back porch prayer time was quick. 

Dear Lord, it’s hot.  But let’s remember these folks that you and I know have needs today.  Bless them with the best of  You,  thank You, Amen.

I felt His grin.  I grinned, too.  We relate that way. I moved quickly back into the cool conditioned air of my house.  He knows my heart.  

He smiles at you, too, and knows your heart.  May your Monday be a good one.

Elementary School Obstacle Course

Balance.  First thing that comes to my mind is Montclair Elementary School’s obstacle course — back in the day — late 1960s and early 1970s.  The routine is still in my mind, pretty much.  Climb over the wall, climb up and then cross the horizontal ladder hand over hand, run the tops of the tires, and then balance/walk on the balance beam. It was about a foot off the ground.  I don’t remember any of it being unattainable but, after the movements made to climb and hang/swing on that ladder, it took a minute to pull back the momentum and actually balance for the walk.

To me, it’s a great picture of life.  We climb, we hang and still maneuver, we gingerly step over and on top of obstacles, and then we’re told  we need to balance.

Is it possible?

We have momentum, adrenaline, a plan to guide us through and then someone steps in and advises us to balance.  Is that a bad think to suggest?  Maybe we are balancing well for our circumstance. 

Looking back to the obstacle course — which we might equate to life — It took a certain amount of balance to climb the wall, hang from the horizontal ladder and get to the end of it, hand over hand, to the topping of the tires and walking the balance beam.   (I’ve repeated myself so I know you are feeling this obstacle course.)

It takes balance every day to get through what we have to do.  Work, live the single life, live the married life, a widowed life, raise a family, pay off debt, maintain cars and houses, take on full parenting when a spouse is out of town or we no longer have a spouse.  It may not look picture perfect.  And who drew that perfect picture standard, anyway?  Somehow you  do find a balance, your new normal, and it doesn’t look like the way everyone else does it or  the way our grandparents did it.

The more we understand that our lives cannot be compared, our own balance will be easier.  The best question someone asked  me, a health coach to be exact, was this:  What works for you and what do you need to do to make it work better?   

She didn’t give me a plan but did give me resources after I explained what I felt was manageable.  There were choices and none were bad.  Manageable, moderated, likable, and rewarding choices; including things many think to be taboo when finding health and stability.  We all have different life formulas that can give us a good result.   

I picture my granddaughter working on a new task.  She’s two and a half years old.  We all could step in to show her the supposed right way but it’s just too rewarding to watch her work diligently and then proclaim, “I did it!”  

Don’t beat yourself up over your life not looking like another person’s life.  They may proclaim balance and that’s great.  Just remember, you have your own obstacle course, you will finish, and with balance say, “I did it!” 

August Book Review: The Bookshop at Water’s End

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I bought this book last year, 2017, in my favorite writer’s town,  Fairhope, Alabama, at Page and Palette.  The cover showing a barefoot girl led me to think it would be a good summer read.  Do covers matter?  Yes!

Thumbing through the book, each chapter was devoted to a character and written in their voice.  Their names struck a good note:  Bonny, Lainey, and Piper.  Piper is Bonny’s daughter and Lainey is Bonny’s best friend.  Other characters are woven into their chapters — an old boyfriend for Bonny, an ex-husband,  a new boyfriend for Piper, and a bookstore owner who knew Bonny and Lainey when they came spend time in her bookstore on family vacations on the coast.     A couple of unsuspecting characters show up and add to the intrigue to  these ladies  finding the answers they look for in Watersend, South Carolina.  The past weaves in the present story and brings mystery, emotional pain, misunderstandings, love lost, love gained, responsibilities, and forgiveness.  As a marker for all good books I read, the first paragraph grabbed me.  I wanted to know why a young woman who resembled someone from the past brought curiosity to the book store owner.  The owner, who bridges their past with their future, obviously holds the key to unlocking much for these ladies at Watersend.   

Toss this book into your beach bag and enjoy. Take it in the car line, to practice, enjoy at lunch, or on a business trip.  It would be a good selection for a book club as it contains a section for discussion. I’ve recommended this book to my writers’ group as a wonderful lesson on theme, plot, character development, and a not so fairytale ending that still leaves you feeling hopeful and ready to find your own, “One thing.” Shop for it your favorite indie bookstore!

I look forward to the author’s next book, Becoming Mrs. Lewis, coming out in October 2018.






…and I say it’s all right.

Morning greets me with booming thunder and a rain shower.  We’ve had these bursts of weather all summer.  I love the variety.  Enough rain for the grass, flowers, and trees  while plenty of sun shines through the day giving vacationers their money’s worth.

It’s a good way to begin Monday.  The not so gentle sound of rain is soothing and the breeze is cool.  There’s a bit of cinnamon smell in the air — maybe a grass or flower.  

The squirrels scurry along my back fence.  The rain does not slow them down.  I can’t see it from my back porch but the sound of traffic is not slowing down either.  Folks traveling to work, appointments, maybe on vacations.  If you know the area, you can take the road for a short-cut  to avoid at least one toll on the way to the beach.  Now a siren.  

Already the rain is slowing and the sky is brightening.   Here comes the sun, here comes the sun; and I say, it’s all right…

A Summer Day in 1960s Pensacola


Our summer weather has me remembering summer life as a kid in Pensacola.  We’d ride our bikes, build forts from pine straw, play kick ball in the street, and run to the shelter of  a friend’s front porch or carport when the afternoon thunderstorms struck.  

If  it was hot before the storm then we endured even more sweltering heat after the rain. Steam rose from the pavement. The moisture was thick and the air thin.  If we weren’t soaked from the rain we were soaked in sweat.    We were kids without a care in the world except waiting for the distant bell sounding from the tri-wheeled snow cone truck.  It was the only cure for the miserable heat.  If we weren’t  packing a dime, we’d run home to beg our moms for one.  

I remember the day I played the game, “Find the Tossed Dime.”  I lost the game to a single opponent, me.  I didn’t find the dime and my mother scolded me for being foolish.  “Why would you throw your snow cone money in the grass?”  “To see if I could find it,” I replied with a shrug and tears. My friend gave me a “bite” of her snow cone and I vowed never to experiment with money again.

In the evenings we played hide and seek between our  yards.  As we  found ourselves giving into the need for rest, our little band of friends  gathered under a mimosa tree for ghost stories.  The older kids would dare us and we would try, not once, but nearly every evening of the week, to find Bloody Mary.   They told us if we repeated a certain mantra as we looked into a hand mirror,  in the dark utility room off the carports, we would  see Bloody Mary in the mirror.  We had no idea who she was or why she would appear but before we could say, “I can see you Bloody Mary,” five times while looking at the mirror, we’d run out of the utility room screaming for our lives!  We were great entertainment for the older kids who laughed at our gullible selves. If only we’d been wise enough to have ketchup on the ready and come out of the utility room covered in it!

By the time the street lights began to buzz and come on, we scurried home to meet our parents’ imposed playtime deadline.  We’d take a bath and fall on bed sheets  our moms had washed and let dry on the clothesline.  They felt crisp and smelled so good.  We dreamed of the next morning  — a new day of riding bikes, playing kick ball, being scared, and remembering to not toss the dime in the grass before spending it on a cherry flavored snow cone.

Living Life

I want to live a life free with love, compassion, honesty, integrity, empathy, and do it all with less talk.  Do it with movement.  Dance, sing, write, paint, and in the midst of the movement, listen.  My dance, my song, my writing, my painting, the way I listen and take in life works for me.  I can’t teach it to you. You have to listen to your own life. We all can listen.  

Live life, feel life — listening.  We can take our  worried thoughts, heartaches, conceived notions, and judgements to a peaceful place.  Turn our setting from full speed ahead to a slower pace and listen. Feel the emotions.  Cry, be angry, mad, defeated, address them all.   Take a deep breath and listen the sounds of life, the spirit of life, and let the ebb and flow of life move you.  The movement from the mountain top, the walk through the valley, the cool stream or warm ocean on your feet, the gentle breeze and rustle of the leaves — feel emotion, feel life, and listen.  Then live.  We will have more valleys, more mountains, more unbelievable days of sorrow, pain, happiness, and fulfillment.  Be free to take on the emotions of life, feel them, and listen — in a place where you alone can hear.  Feel. Listen.  Live.

When we walk away from the noise, the confusion, the need to be first, the need to be on top of it all, the one with the information, the source, the one who wins at every station of life — we walk away and find the new places where our souls can flourish — the place where we are free  to feel, listen, and live.  

Feeling Life

We have to feel life.  I heard that on Grey’s Anatomy.  I’m sure I can back it up with a bible verse but for now it’s the word of Dr. Grey.  It’s true because I’ve done both.  I’ve felt life and I’ve also shielded myself from life.  

No matter, either way, we are going to feel and have emotions.  My belief is that God made us that way.  And yet we try to overcome  — when it’s not time to overcome — all for the sake of time.

Without holding hard feelings against a man who said, just a few short days after a funeral, “We must move on,” I say his timing was off.  The death was a shock; maybe not to some but to many.  We all have to feel life and I’d add to Dr. Grey’s words — we have to feel death.

Marriages go through tough times and we smile and say I love you.  We’re afraid to discuss, verbalize, and be honest  because we’re taught to forgive and move on.  Vulnerability sets in and we turn to friends, counselors, and lovers to discuss what we won’t discuss with a mate.

In our fast paced world, now more than ever, we just move on.  How much do we leave behind?  

Those feelings will come out.  We have to feel.  Our bodies were made to feel.  Pinch your arm.  Did it hurt?  Yes, it did.  But maybe you say no because you, because I, have become conditioned to “work through it.” We get to a point where we say, “No big deal.  I can handle it.”

What if we stop, feel the pain, express the anger, discuss discouragement, and confess our wrongs and stand for rights?  What if we do feel life and actually live in the reality of  life instead of  skirting issues, avoiding, and shouldering the pain?  

We all have to learn to live and die well.  That doesn’t mean we have a smile on our face through it all.  It should be that we deal honestly, put pride aside, be the people we are made to be.  

I’m thankful that when I  have to deal with the feelings of life that are not good ones, I can be encouraged by people who understand.  Be the encourager that does not give a pat answer.  Be the person that says, if it’s true, that you understand their feelings and it is OK to feel life and death.   

I think we will all be healthier for it.   

When you find yourself you have to lose yourself

It’s the end of the year blog. I’m not going to whine over regrets of 2017 or make a stand for what I will not allow in 2018. Simply moving ahead, as I decided to do last year, in the good things from my year and be aware of what I need to leave behind.

All easier said than done. Life is not so simple as to make a list of what stays and what goes and then mark a tick along side. Emotions and people are attached to many of those things.

This is where it gets complicated and where we have to (I have to) turn to divine guidance.

And guess what? Divine guidance is not  a pop up message on my screen saying, “Linda, today do ____________ in order to make ___________ better in your life.”

Are you with me or could I be the only one not getting text messages from God?

You can giggle here. I am.

I want more divine. Defined as not doing more of the ritual, but awareness of  divine things of God in everyday life  moments.

I want less stress. But why, when we desire to have a stress free life, does it appear we are suddenly bombarded with it?  I’m not sure.  But this is my desire:

I want to handle stress better.

I want to be empathetic not judgmental. Sounds pious, yes?

I want to be humble. Did that overcome the sound of pious? Just to say the word in relation to how I want to “be” seems arrogant.

I need to turn this whole thing around and say I have found myself but I want to lose myself.

May we all find the divine in our everyday life.

May we have the ability to handle our stresses with ease of heart and mind.

May we be aware of one another, help not hinder, and share kindness and love with one another.

Have you been through a rough time but the tender hug, encouraging words, a simple smile from another person made it better?

Maybe we can all be a part of the healing this year; used in a divine moment to steady a person or a situation.  I think if we purpose to be less me and you,  then we will see the divine in the everyday things of 2018.


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