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Linda Safford

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.

 

I wonder…

Today, I wonder why I’m taking college classes and have a final in an hour. Other days I wonder why my kids live so far away. Then other days I wonder when did I get so old. I remind myself I must remain active and not give in to a number —whether my age or the ugly ones on the scale. Yes, I live each day to its fullest and then I wonder what I missed. I struggle to remain present when so much of my happiness was in the past. I remind myself of the happiness in today but wonder why I don’t feel it as deeply. I guess in the future I will. It’s a struggle to find the joy some days but thankfully more days than not it slaps me on the back and laughs with me. I do wake up and smell the coffee and I drink it with a happy heart. I’m hoping today there are good results for a good future for Alabama. I pray for our country to seek out the right things and realize those may come from left things. My how we label and believe. How many labels cover up the true person? I’m moving forward. Smiling, recalling fond memories, looking forward to what life will bring in 2018. I’m sure it will be much more of the same but I do pray it can be lived out with more kindness, less accusation, more love, more caring, and empathy. Remember, they will know we are Christians by our love…not our governing abilities.

Night and Day

sun moon

Praise for the morning
as the sun begins to rise
the moon hangs as a crescent
while Venus illumines

Both have held the night sky
the Sun bids them go
treasure children’s wishes
on Earth’s other side

As the Sun takes over
the last twinkle is seen
creations entire glory
keeping watch endlessly

One True Thing

I did it again. I returned to Fairhope, Alabama for a mini vacation and writing time. There’s something in the air that gets my creative juices flowing and my fingers easily hitting the keys and filling the page with words when I’m there. Words that actually form good thoughts and a well meaning story. I happened to run into two famous authors who are both as down to earth as dirt. After purchasing a book and taking a rainy walk through town, I settled in to write. It’s become my routine when I visit Fairhope to walk through the town, into the neighborhoods, and by the bay.

Driving out of town this time, I headed south and found a beautiful chapel with a sign that read, “Open for Prayer.” I know I can pray anywhere and at any time but this little spot drew me in and I knew I had an appointment with the Lord. How do you talk to the Lord but to confess first? I did. He does lift a load of burdens and I felt free again as I walked out.

I grabbed my phone to photograph the little chapel but the light was not right. So as I headed back to the car and focused on the tall steeple of the main church building. Blindly, because the sun was so bright, I snapped a shot. God framed a perfect shot with clouds and sunlight. It was the highest point on the property so no tree cast any shadows. He led me to the high point to focus on the things that matter.

As I finished one of the books I took along on my mini vacation, I knew my time had been to remember, as was mentioned in the book, “My one true thing.” It feels good to be free from the things that were causing me to lose my momentum in life. We have to be honest and who can escape honesty when we bow before the Lord and confess?

It’s not about that particular church or the beautiful setting. I need not step foot back into a church to move ahead in the walk set before me. It’s not the place but the design of my heart. It’s the moving out from shades and shadows into the place where the light is so bright, when I try to capture the moment, there is no telling how it will come out. But I press the button anyway. Maybe that’s faith? Actually I’m sure it is faith.

Quality moments can come when we least expect them or plan for them. As much as I love being in Fairhope, the real quality time came in those few moments at the end of my visit. I’ll be back, always ready to learn, to write, and know above all there is one true thing in my life.

St Francis at the Point

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