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Linda Safford

Perfect Storm

It’s the perfect storm. Rumbling thunder sounds of a Saturday night bowling alley with folks clad in ugly shoes and sliding balls down a bumpy lane. A pecan tree’s branches hang low with the weight of saturated leaves and limbs. Lightning flickers like a slow neon sign, old and barely working.  Just a glimmer now and then.  Festive party lights sway in the wind.

MuseBefore the rain came I went to breakfast with the local folks. Award winning writers
among them, not sure. You can be sure
they love good food. Large plates passed with eggs, grits, bacon, and biscuits as I enjoyed my own. I watched the sky grow almost as dark as the Community Coffee in my cup.

Fairhope, the quaint Eastern Shore town, is my muse today. I’m snuggled in a yellow and grey blanket on a buttery soft leather sofa. The TV is on but the volume is mute. Keeping up with the weather map. Storms on the coast can boil up and take over a morning but clear to skies filled with soft white clouds and sunshine for the afternoon.

Whether the rain continues or the sun brightens the day, I have a story to work on. Frank’s in the hospital, heart attack while in the arms of his lover. His best friend who is also his wife’s best friend tries to keep her from pulling the plug on his oxygen. The nurses are threatening her with security measures all the while giving her the go-ahead with their eyes. One speaks up, bold in her approach to healing, “Honey, let him live through this. You have more control over his agony at home.”

Need to go now and see if Frank makes it. Storm or clear skies?

Football Love

Just finishing breakfast this morning and an alert from Walmart pops up on my phone. “NFL Playoffs are coming up! Buy a new TV!”

I had to laugh and recount the story of Super Bowl XII played on January 15, 1978. Daddy and I were taking care of ourselves. Mama was in Rhode Island with my sister and her newborn daughter. Exciting times with Mama’s first flight, my sister’s first baby and first grand baby in our family. But for Daddy and me, the excitement on January 15 was that our beloved Dallas Cowboys were returning to the Super Bowl. I don’t recall what we ate that day or what the weather was doing. But nearing time for the game to begin our RCA console TV gave up the ghost. It had given warning signs that the end was near but we had no idea it would flatline so quickly or on Super Bowl Sunday!

Daddy looked at me and I looked at Daddy and we both wondered what Mama would say. We knew what had to be done. We knew we might be in trouble with her when she returned from Rhode Island but The Cowboys were about to play The Broncos. We were not going to miss it!

We jumped in the Ford LTD, powered by 450 horses, and headed to Gayfers to buy a new TV. I’m not sure why Gayfers was the choice except it was a straight shot down the highway – Michigan Avenue to Brent Lane, to Bayou Boulevard. There, at the corner of Cordova Mall, stood our path to victory — the goal line — the TV department!

We watched the game and cheered the Cowboys on to a 27-10 lead over the Denver Broncos. The game was played in the Superdome in New Orleans.

I look back on that day and smile. Yes, Walmart, a new TV was required. Not because of NFL playoffs and your need to cash in on an event. But because it was football, the Super Bowl, Daddy, me, and the Cowboys.

Not sure if the Cowboys will make it this year. The best season they have had in a long time has been led by Dak Prescott. Here’s hoping they are in it once again. I’ll be watching and hoping Daddy can see the game from his great view in heaven.

Moral to the story? What do you think,  dear readers? Leave me a comment.

The Last Seven Steps of Parenting

rope

Parenting is not easy. When we come to the point where parenting is no longer required we may struggle in finding the right relationship with our young adults. I certainly don’t have all the answers but these seven things have been on my mind for a while.

Step One:

Recognize your age and their age. It is age. A number of years counted of your existence and theirs. Age does not give power. Age is, again, the number of years of existence.

Step Two:

Walk a mile in their shoes. Your young adults are fully capable of making decisions. They know their situation and its parameters. Remember when you faced a problem or decision and you had the full capability to solve it? You may have been as young as sixteen. Give them credit to do the same when they are in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.

Step Three:

Don’t say, “Oh but you don’t know my child!” Again, young adults should not be called children. While age is just the number of years one has existed, as a society, we group and label by numbers. My son or my daughter are great terms to show their relation to you.

Step Four:

“Back when I was your age”… here we go again. Do I need to write more? Yes, let me say leave the past in the past and live for today. Tomorrow? It will worry about itself. Jesus said this and a number of wise men and women have phrased the same thought in all major religions of the world. Live in the present and allow your young adult to do the same.

Step Five:

Look at your young adult for the person they have become and do not look to see who you hoped they would become. Respect their sphere of influence and their space. You may or may not be invited into this place. They are moving ahead in life just as you did. Or maybe they will move ahead as you did not and be in a different place. IT’S OK.

Step Six:

Give advice if you are asked. Temper the advice with love and understanding. It is perfectly acceptable for you to say, “You’ve got this. You don’t need my advice. I believe in you and your decisions.”

Step Seven:
Time now to focus on yourself and your life goals and let go of the last thread you hold to your young adult. Tie in to a new hobby, education, travel, or raise the remaining budding young adults in your home. Look to your success and be proud of the young adult in your life.

A LeeLee

My “grandmother” name is LeeLee.  It actually began as the name my nephew called me while trying to say, Linda. When my daughter shared the exciting news of her pregnancy, the name LeeLee was agreed to be the perfect “granny” name for me.

Carsey is not quite a year old now and she can say Mama, Dada, Pawpaw, and A LeeLee.  We were not sure if this was her saying LeeLee or not.  Possibly just some words coming out as she babbles and plays.

Back in July when I had to say goodbye to Carsey in Texas, I sang Carole King’s song, You’ve Got a Friend.  But to make it special for Carsey and me, I changed the words to “you’ve got a LeeLee.”

carsey-laughing-with-leeleeToday we were traveling around Pensacola.  She was in her car seat while her Mama and I were singing with Carole but changing to my makeover words.  As we sang those words today, it hit us!  “You’ve got a LeeLee!”

A LeeLee!

She’s been saying what I sang to her in the “makeover” of the song since September.   Not sure if it will stick as time goes on but, for now, A LeeLee I am.  My heart is smiling.

Rain

rainy-day

Eddie Rabbit wrote and performed the song, I Love a Rainy Night.

I love a rainy night
I love a rainy night
I love to hear the thunder
Watch the lightning
When it lights up the sky
You know it makes me feel good

He also wrote another song, made famous by Elvis, Kentucky Rain.

Kentucky rain keeps pouring down
And up ahead’s another town that I’ll be walking through
With the rain in my shoes
Searching for you
In the cold Kentucky rain, whoa
In the cold Kentucky rain, oh
In the cold Kentucky rain

Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan wrote a rain song for Ronnie Milsap, Smoky Mountain Rain.

Smoky Mountain rain keeps on falling
I’ll keep on calling her name.
Smoky Mountain rain, I’ll keep on searching
I can’t go on hurting this way.
She’s somewhere in the Smoky Mountain rain

Instead of penning my own words about the rain I’m hearing on my window and roof, these writers’ words are singing the tunes in my mind. I can think of different times hearing these songs while driving and singing along.

Can’t hear the rain now. The thunder and lightning have passed. I’m not searching for anyone, Elvis and Ronnie. Rain just makes me feel good, too, Eddie.

2017 – A Continuation of Good Things

Today there is no declaration of a New Year’s resolution. 2016 was a spectacular year and I’m ready to continue on the course.  I will say I want to write more but I am pleased with the accomplishments of 2016.  A short story and a poem were published in a literary journal.  Deep inside I know I want more but I’m happy with my progress.

My “muse” is Turkey Creek in Niceville, Florida.  Simply have fallen in love with the beauty of its natural setting, the smell of the forest and creek, the sound of leaves rustling, water flowing, and the occasional swoop of the heron’s wings.  I’ve seen spring through winter and I’m ready to get back out there.  Life tosses in a few things that keep us from unchanging patterns. I fought at first but then welcomed the break.  I’ve been able to put a few things in perspective and can say, for the first time ever, I MISS EXERCISE!

My 2016 ended with family and 2017 continues with family.  My grandbaby’s first birthday and a wedding will highlight the first five months of the year.  Planning for the rehearsal dinner and falling more in love with our son’s fiancée who has been a daughter to me since I first met her.  She’s family and I feel the same way about the wonderful young man our daughter brought into our family.  A son added in 2010 and now a new daughter in 2017.

I can’t be sure of all that 2017 holds but I pray for good health for our parents, our siblings and their families, and our children’s families.  We have wonderful friends who grace our lives with love and compassion.  Neighbors who will be at our side at a moment’s notice.  These simple things are grand in our lives.

2017 will see more downsizing of “stuff” and the opportunity to bless others who are in need.  I’m satisfied with quality of relationships that can’t always be quantity.  Very satisfied.

Happy New Year and may you find your way, continue your way, or live in a mix of both.  We seek, we find, we endure, we stay the course, we achieve, we lose, we are satisfied.

Live life!

Follow the Red Dirt Road

I find the path
I’ve longed
to capture

Windows through branches
are blue with sky and
framed by draperies of moss

What lies around the bend
still unknown
though anticipated

Limber branches
and leaves among poke berries
beckon me to explore

Time is the crux
and as the wind stills
the beckoning wanes

The forestal adornments
feel my hurried state and
bid me go

Return when the time
is devoted to
adventure and not the mundane

Fresh Start

A fresh start does not necessarily mean something is new to you.  A fresh start can merely mean a new way of doing what is known to you.  And the key word, at least for me, is DOING.

At some point in life we are all doing something that works well for us and then what do we do?  We stop DOING what worked well.  Maybe the process seems slow or possibly laborious.  Becoming mired in a process can take away from the simple goal.

So how do you reach the simple goal?  Work.

You work at your pace, with your tools, with your mind – body – and soul.  You give it a place in the order of your priorities.

Some folks have to shut out everyone and everything in order to do what they do.

Others need to be totally engaged with others and the world around them.

Once you reach the goal, whether alone or with a team, how do you then maintain the goal once it is met?

It goes back to doing.  You can’t stop.  You have to be able to DO when the environment is not friendly to the task at hand.  It’s like the old saying of doing the right thing even when someone is not watching. The goal is not something that rejuvinates on its own.  We have to continue the work that brought us there in order to maintain what we have placed as the goal.

It’s hard to deny our life is a series of hills and valleys. While the terrain changes we do not have to change.  We can continue with the same goals and priorities in mind.  Our mind has to be set to move us beyond the valley, to the hill, and then through another valley.  We can remain constant while people, places, and situations change.

A consistent and constant mindset, however, does not mean we don’t stop along the way to experience life.  Reaching a goal can be enjoyable and not feel like work.  The journey can become the fresh start daily.

Yesterday had mistakes.  Some were mine but some belong to others.  Forgiveness is key.  You can’t move forward without it. Whether given or received, forgive.

Today is here.  You and I have work to do.  Alone or with a team it won’t get done without being present, taking hold of the moments, letting go of yesterday, and preparing for tomorrow.

What will tomorrow hold?  We can only be prepared by the fresh start of today.

Excuse me but your criticism is not constructive

Raise your hand. Who loves criticism? I’m looking over the audience I perceive to be reading this blog. No hands are raised.

Think about this. Do you enjoy constructive criticism? I see a few hands. Maybe, like me, you need a reminder of the difference between criticism and constructive criticism.

I asked Google to refresh my memory. “What is constructive criticism?” Google answered:

Constructive criticism is the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one. The purpose of constructive criticism is to improve the outcome.

People who are revered for their wisdom are most likely those who give you the upside of the critique and then highlight the areas that need work with solid examples. They are people who come along side you, root for you, and realize your potential. They have made the same mistakes and offer solid advice for learning and overcoming those mistakes. Their only gain is to see you succeed. They are humble in their approach and do not critique to have power or control over you. Again, the goal is your success.

Be selective from whom you seek advice. If I want to plant a garden, and need to know how to balance my soil to suit the vegetables or flowers, I do not take the soil sample to the guy who changes the oil in my car. I find the person who has the successful garden and is willing to share their ups and downs in growing beautiful flowers and delicious vegetables.
Trust your own judgment. The story you are writing, the child you are raising, the product you are selling, the class you are teaching — whatever you are doing is your responsibility. Listen to your gut instinct and weigh it against the constructive criticism or the negative criticism you receive. There is a balance in what you know is innately right for you and what is being suggested by a person you trust or one you do not trust.

Free yourself from the negative critic. Don’t let their negativity foil your progress. Don’t become bitter toward them or the advice. Let it roll and let it go! Continue to seek out the person who is constructive and wants to see you succeed.

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