Just Keep Swimming.

Right?

Just keep swimming!

I AM swimming! Swimming. Swimming. Swimming.

I am still here. Still alive. Do not you worry.

It has been a long three months since I have last written.

You do not have to tell me that. I already know. I know real well!

Let us just say that I have been…watering my mustard seeds?

It feels more like, um, maybe just sitting and watching them most days. You know what, though? That is OK!

There are some seasons in life where you just take things one breath, one step (or stroke, as it were), one day at a time.

So, here I am. One everything at a time.

One everything in love, at a time.

Walk in love, dear readers. We will talk soon!

He Was Ours.

What words does one find and use for a man that stepped up when he didn’t have to? There really are none. Sometimes I really do wish I was an animal so I wouldn’t have use such a measly form of expression. I have been wracking my brain and avoiding this ever since I was asked to put some words down. The truth is, my Grandmother would not have chosen a different man. Harry was that man. Harry was my Grandfather. He was our Grandfather even if blood did not make it so.

My Grandfather Harry went to his Heavenly home last week after a long and blessed life. He was almost 99 years old. It was not that long ago that he was still mobile and independent and his mind was his pretty much until the end. He is now whole and free. There is no more of the pain and suffering.

He lived quite a life. He was a decorated war veteran. He was a career man. There is much that can be said, but more importantly than all of that, he was a family man. A Son, a Brother, a Husband, a Father, a Grandfather, a Great Grandfather.

We were blessed with and by him. He was ours and we were his. I always felt this. Sometimes when I would call them and he would answer the phone, he would immediately say, “Hold on, I’ll go get her.” My response would always be, “Harry, I want to talk to you too.”


There is a picture somewhere of him that shows him. Him. Who he was to the core to all of us, if I can be so bold as to speak for others in my family. It is somewhere and I can not find it. It wasn’t staged or posed. He wasn’t wearing a suit or a uniform dressed with medals. He wasn’t alone. He didn’t have a young man’s head of hair. Although, he always had good hair. It was that beautiful white gray. Oddly enough I do not think my Grandmother was even in the picture, which is crazy because they were always together! She might have been behind the camera. She is always taking pictures.

It was at a long ago birthday party of ours at some big venue I think. There were kids everywhere, visible even in the tight frame.  They were not the focus of the photo. It was one man and one birthday kid. Full of smiles and love and life and color. Vital. He was always smiling.

Man that just smacks me right in the chest right now and has fresh, solitary tears streaming down my cheeks.

I can’t even find the photo.

It seems almost a wonder that the photo was even snapped and caught because in my memory it was somewhat blurry and out of focus with faint streaks of light across it. Taken in a quick flash in low lighting. I think there was even a disco ball hanging from the ceiling. The photographer trying to enjoy the moment and create a lasting memory at the same time.

There was a big slide wherever this party was being held and right there in the middle of it, sliding down the slide like a kid himself, was Harry with one of us three girls in his lap. Both smiling in delight. I don’t even think you’re supposed to do that with kids these days. Something about ripping their arms and legs off. I think kids are supposed to wear harnesses and seatbelts now. Anyway.

I can’t find the picture.



My Grandmother used to always have freezer waffles for me in the mornings when I would sleep over as a kid. Nobody could prepare them like her and it could not be recreated at home. At some point in time, and I do not know why, Harry started making waffles and I never gave another thought to freezer waffles. Every time after that when I would sleep over, we would have Harry’s waffles. He made the world’s best waffles. We all loved his waffles. He whipped the egg whites by hand to fold into the batter. That made them light, and airy in texture on the inside, but they also had a lovely crisp on the outside.

They loved to go out to breakfast as a couple. When I stopped sleeping over at their house, I started to join them for breakfast sometimes. Harry found the best waffles at Le Peep and that came to be the only place we would go as the three of us so Harry and I could get waffles. I still think they are the best waffles if you can not have Harry’s waffles. They used to also have a standing date with a big table at a local Tex-Mex restaurant on Sunday evenings. It was almost like a revolving door dinner in my mind, even if I did say I was crashing their dinner when I would invite myself to come. Whoever wanted to come could come. Like when he would go to breakfast, he generally ordered the same things for dinner there too.

Harry knew that I liked to cook and bake and experiment in the kitchen. At some point before he married my Grandmother he had collected recipes and organized them in a recipe box. Every time he saw an interesting recipe, he would just store it away. He told me that he had not even looked at them since he married my Grandmother. He gave me his box of recipes that he had held on to for all those years. I loved to get Harry’s feedback on my desserts at our family gatherings. He was always very thoughtful and honest. He was a great listener and not just of words.


He always did the dishes. I don’t ever remember not having an awareness of him doing the dishes. It was his thing. There was nothing to ‘get’ or understand about it. It was his thing. The first time I tried to help him, he all but shooed me out of the kitchen. It was his domain after a meal was prepared. I don’t know if it was his little quiet in our family craziness or just what he did. He finally did let me help after my insistence, but we had to do it his way. So we did. He taught me how to use the disposal. I always wondered how he did the dishes so quickly!


When my Grandparents would come to the farm, Harry would always take time for a walk down the lane. Before he would bring a cane, he would find a sturdy and straight stick of pecan wood to use as a walking stick. Sometimes others would join him on his walk and sometimes he would go by himself, but he would always come back with a gathering of pecans. I think the pecans he gathered on one of his last walks a few years ago entertained my cousin’s daughter, L, for a good long while after we taught her how to use a nut cracker.


At my Grandmother’s birthday celebration last year, we gathered in their back yard to have sandwiches and cupcakes. You see they have one of the best yards. Harry meticulously cared for their yard and flower beds for as long as I can remember. There was always something beautiful to look at and, man, their lawn! It is a great lawn. We had many great Easter egg hunts in that yard. I think all of us cousins look at a yard and think what it would be like to have an Easter egg hunt there because of our memories there. Anyway, we celebrated my Grandmother’s birthday out there. Covid gave us an excuse to. My cousins were there with their kids and I was there with Merle. Harry came over to me in his wheelchair and told me to go shut the driveway gate so I could let my pup off the leash. He wanted him to play with the kids in the yard and on the lawn. To be free, like the kids in that way of kids. I do not really even know if he was really a dog man, but he always was happy to let me go on about my animals. I gladly did as he asked and shut the gate. As the two of us watched kids and dog play in the yard he said to me, “Your Grandmother and I always dreamed of having all the kids play in this yard.” I do not think his smile ever looked so big and bright. I wonder if that is why he always kept it just so.  

Well, Harry, your dream came true. At least in my eyes.


Ever faithful. Ever constant. Ever present.

He was a presence in our lives.

I remember him like he was in this video. He was 91 in this video. What a man! What a life!

Walk in love, dear readers.

Go be with your loved ones. Share your love and memories.

Wyoming

You only live once, right?

That is what I said to R at some point in May when she asked if I wanted to go to Wyoming and ride the Tetons and Yellowstone.

Life is about saying YES, remember?! It is too short not to. One day is today.

I could try to describe this trip, but I really do not think I could do the beauty of God’s artwork justice. If the pictures can not, how on earth could words? All I can say is, like I am pretty sure I have said before, is that mountains, like storms, have a way of reminding you of your place here on earth.

It was a full spectrum trip that involved the luxury of Jackson, Wyoming and the ruggedness of the crunch of frosty mountain meadow grass underfoot when you first step out of your tent in the morning.

We flew in and out of Jackson and spent those two bookend nights there in two different nice hotels. We enjoyed two of the most fabulous meals at a steak house and an Italian restaurant. We definitely said yes on our two nights here. No holding back and it was worth it!

We spent the middle two days and nights riding and camping in the mountains. We rode three different horses each. Most of the horses were of at least some draft blood and we loved it. We rode all day. We ate outside. We made smores. We got in the cold rivers and creeks in addition to the hot springs. We drank champagne in the water and red wine with dinner. We soaked in the scenery.

Enjoy our trip to Wyoming through pictures.

Walk in love, dear readers! I hope you enjoyed the view!

It Is A New Year.

Yes, indeed, that is fact. It is a new year.

This morning I am sitting in a warm house with coffee and homemade pumpkin bread after feeding and mucking out the barn. A perfect time to talk with you, dear readers!

Say peace out to 2020! Say it all you like if that is what brings you joy. I won’t lie and say it does not bring me joy.

Peace out like Merle flying out of this water trough.

But, today is a day just like any other though, and many things in this earthly world we live in do not exist within our human schedules and boundaries. A new year in itself, this new year or any other, or a new day for that matter, does not guarantee change on its own or forgiveness from the very life we live. Forgiveness from its hardships or its joy. Its light. Its peace.

That my dear readers, is up to you.

Every day you have a choice. A choice to see and be good or not. A choice to love. A choice to see the joy. A choice to be happy. It is that simple. That is the AHAmoment. One of those keys to life.

Be the change you want to see. If you want greater change of any kind beyond yourself, look within your very person first.

Live the life you wish to see.

Peace.

Love.

Joy.

Be grateful for every morning you wake.

New Year’s Day sunrise.

New Year’s Day or any day that I wake up and am able to breathe and see the sunrise, is a blessed day.

I thank Him for it.

Be grateful for the cleansing and growing rain. For the warming and invigorating sun. Both that give us life. Being happy in it and all the gifts of life like this dog. Even if it means wearing rubber boots more than not, trudging through the mud scooping up horse poop. Really, it could be worse! It could be flooding, for instance. Or burning.

I thank Him for it. The gifts of rain, sun, and my Merle. And yes, the poop too!

Oh to be happy like a dog! That is our ultimate goal!

Be grateful for your very life. Take time for yourself and do not be selfish. You can do you while still showing up for your people. Considering them. Be grateful for the people in your life and be grateful for the things in your people’s lives! Each of us in on a unique walk together to the same place. You are not meant to go through exactly what someone else is. Embrace and enjoy it! Community and fellowship is a big part of what makes this life what it is all about.

Classic head shadow does not distract from that mover and shaker.

I thank Him for the people and animals in my life. To be able to do what I love with people I love is one of the greatest blessings!

Slow down and enjoy the little things. Build your life around what brings you joy. Ride more horses. Fish more waters. Hike more paths. Drive more roads.

Seriously though, these blue skies!

Lay in the leaves with your dog. When was the last time you played in the leaves??? Inspire the kid within you!

Take more pictures of your actual life. Your actual view. Or draw. Or paint. Or play.

Take the time to hand graze your horse and have quality time. Have quality time with your people. Linger over your coffee. Slow down and enjoy the meal. Count all the colors you see.

Be grateful for your perspective. You are unique and uniquely made for a reason and a purpose!

I thank Him for it!

Do what makes you happy. Be with who makes you happy. Brings you joy. Sparks inspiration. Sees the best in you. Does not take you away from what is good and right. Supports you. Sees life the way you do. Does not shrink from challenges.

You only get one life. A life made up of days, hours, minutes, and seconds. Do not waste a single one. You don’t get any of them back. You might not have tomorrow.

Mad or angry?

Forgive! And then step on.

Find yourself frowning?

Smile!

Are you seeing the dark? Or the negative?

Look for the light! The positive!

Getting mad at someone who just cut you off?

Blare some happy music!

It is all about perspective. Your choice!

Walk in love, dear readers. Embody it!

Let others see and feel it.

They will in turn do the same.

That is the way you inspire change.

Tune Tuesday

It is Tune Tuesday today.

I can not skip it. You have to hear this and soak it in.

It made me smile.

So, take a load off for four minutes and thirty six seconds. A less than five minute break. Yes, I realize it is not even nine in the morning. Shh. Get another cup of coffee or treat yourself to a tea with lemon.

I’m going down on the Nueces River
Gonna call my brother, ask him to meet me there
On the surface will be two men fishing
Down below we are brothers with a love to share

I’m gonna lay my burdens down now
Gonna ask the Lord to watch them a while
I’m gonna walk where the sun is shining
I’ll be home when I have found a smile

There is a salt cedar tree that I know of
It can take a breeze and make a melody
I’m gonna climb up in those branches
And ask if it would whisper its secrets to me

I’m gonna lay my burdens down now
Gonna ask the Lord to watch them a while
I’m gonna walk where the sun is shining
I’ll be home when I have found a smile

There’ll come a time when the world is level
There was a time when the mountains grew
Then there is all that is here in the middle
And how it’s spent is up to me and up to you

I’m gonna lay my burdens down now
Gonna ask the Lord to watch them a while
I’m gonna walk where the sun is shining
I’ll be home when I have found a smile

~Max Stalling

Are you smiling?

Walk in love, dear readers, where the sun is shining.

Get Out

OUT.

As in outside.

The answer to a lot of things many times is to just get out and ride. Even if you did not even know you were looking for answers.

Forget everything else.

Ignore your phone. (Except for to take pictures, duh).

Leave all your worries and troubles far, far away. They will be there when you get back, if you want them.

Don’t have a horse? Go for a boat ride or a bike ride. Go for a drive. Or a walk. Anything.

Get outside. Feel the air. Smell the smells. Listen to the birds. Let that horse run and stretch her legs under you.

Just get moving.

Climb the hills or mountains.

Take in the inspirational vista in front of you and get close.

Then go back down, get to work, and maybe move some cows.

She holds a lot between those ears of hers.

Embrace all the feelings.

Climb the hill again.

Breathe.

Remember what and who IT is all about.

Oh, it also works best with just girls. Humans, horses, and dogs. Mr. Merle stayed behind and had man time this time.

Let me know how it works out for you!

Walk in love, dear readers! I hope you are inspired and motivated this Monday Tuesday.

“We go to the mountain for strength and peace and power. To know God. Then you move to the valley where life is lived. For service.”

Winter Wisdom

Winter. There is a ton of symbolism in the season. Whether it be the actual weather and Mother Nature or a very real reflection of a season in your life.

I have a wise friend who wrote some great winter words that I wanted to share with you.

“I will be honest, there’s a lot I don’t get right now about a lot of things & the more I work on it, the more frustrated I feel. I literally post something similar to this every single season because I am forever stubborn and continuously forget the basics of God & faith.
That said, I am all the more thankful that the consistency of seasons is a reflection of God and the steadiness of His character. If you stop and really “consider the lilies,” you can’t escape how Creation reflects the detail oriented nature of God. It shows how He created us to see Him & find Him not just in religion, but in snails, twigs, monarch butterfly migrations, and sunflowers that tilt upward so they can face the sun.
I took a bunch of pictures on a walk through Camp Allen this last weekend at my church’s women’s retreat. I made my friend stop every 3 minutes of our walk because I was distracted by how oddly beautiful dead-looking things become when light shines on them. Romans 1:20 talks about how seeing the visible helps us understand the invisible. What appears to be dead actually isn’t dead, it’s just winter. Winter doesn’t last forever – it stays awhile & through the shorter days, lack of color & seemingly barren/exposed trees all contrasted with light, winter reminds me how paradoxical God is- how my weakness is actually His strength.”

Good, no?

Like I have said before, take comfort in the consistency of the seasons. Of the sunrises and sunsets. No matter what, they show up to party every time. They go on over and over without fail. Whether or not you can see them!

There truly is beauty in all things, even and especially in winter.

Take pecan trees for instance, because we all know how I love them, with or without a Merle man in the frame.

Many on first glance may think they are dead in the winter. They are the first to lose their leaves and they are the very last to get them come spring. Even I start to wonder if they ever will get their leaves as spring might start to feel like summer.

Even still, I can never stop being amazed at the raw beauty in the bareness of their branches in winter. Against a sunrise. Or backed by the strong, bright, and grass growing winter sun. Or reflected in the sunset’s light on the pond. There is beauty even on the dreariest of gray winter days.

Indeed they make an inspiring frame for a sunset of any kind!

Dead pecan tree among the live oaks? Nope. A beautiful and unique one, standing strong waiting out winter for its bloom.

And you know what? They always do get their leaves. Every spring. And I am just as amazed every time.

The same happens for us when winter comes to a close and spring starts to bloom. It may likely feel as if you are wandering aimless in this winter. Trust me, I know. Your feeling of wandering is not without reason or purpose. It is your winter season of waiting. Preparing you for your spring. Take your time and be patient. Have faith. Rest. Be ready. Remember what you are fighting for and hang on tight. Keep your focus on the light.


When your world’s of madness
And you’re burned at both ends
Your walls are closin’ in
Won’t you remember?
Open up your heart
Let yourself unwind
Find peace of mind
Among the wandering
Step into the unknown
Where your path rewinds
See if you can find out
What you came here for
Roll one from the green vine
Disregard the time
Find your peace of mind
Among the wandering
Don’t fear the vendors
Dreams can’t be bought
As long as you don’t sell
What you’ve been fighting for
As long as you don’t sell
What you’ve been fighting for
If your heart’s of anger
And you’re helpless in the end
Won’t you let your friends
Help you remember?
With every box of poison
There’s a ribbon tied
Don’t believe them eyes
When they deceive you
Take a look inside
If you’re so inclined
Just leave some time
For the wandering
Find your peace of mind
Among the wandering
~Ryan Bingham

Walk in love, dear readers, and see the beauty in your winter. Spring is coming, and not just because I am covered in horse hair shed and counting down the days for more daylight.

Lighting Strike

I was at the farm a couple weeks ago strolling past a special pecan tree while my Merle and I were on a walk. Really they are all special trees just because, but this one is unique.

It is under this special tree’s far reaching branches that offer a favorite shady summer napping spot for all the horses, and myself on occasion, where the final resting places for our old horses lie. Our original heard. All back together. Mansebo was put to sleep under that very tree on a beautiful, sunny day. Indeed under this very tree is my Darcy girl. Her final resting place after a final dip of the paws in the pond to get farm dirty like she liked (I do not know if that will ever stop punching me in the gut).

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My niece took a nap under this tree on a a special day.

So, this is a special pecan tree, obviously, and I generally take special notice of it.

A few years ago it got struck by lightning on a windy and stormy fateful night in late March. I remember the following morning I was feeling anxious and worried as I not so patiently waited for Cheetah to go into labor. I wanted to meet my Lito man! I was riding Ike bareback before I left the farm to go visit Cheetah at the barn she was at to foal out.

Anyway, as I rode under this pecan tree I discovered the previous night’s damage. It appeared extensive and I was immediately saddened. The visible strike ran from the base of the trunk all the way up and out one of the branches to the very tip. On I rode with a sigh and was off to visit my Cheetah.

As the years went by, like they tend to do, I continued to observe that lightning strike on that pecan tree. It eventually morphed and healed into a scar from an open wound. It eventually became part of that tree. Somebody not privileged enough to know that tree’s story might think it grew up just like that. With a unique mark like a person’s hair color or a birth mark, adding to its very beauty.

So. Here is the AHAmoment for you.

Ya, you there.

Brought to you straight from a wise pecan tree.

Have you been feeling fragile lately? On edge? Cracked or about to? Or full on broken? Struck from top to toe?

Last time I checked, broken crayons still color (and hey, I would know. I am a geologist. I color for a living!)! Not only that, they are still colorful and bright as are their drawings! Have you ever even seen all the things you can do with broken crayons? It is fascinating. Really. Go get on Pinterest and just look at all the things you can do.

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What about those cracks you say? Here is the thing about those. They let the light in, my friends! For you and everyone else. Let your light shine! Shine out the darkness!

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A while back (as in just about the beginning) here on AHAmoments in desperation for positivity, I shared a Japanese tradition about how broken objects are repaired.

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Is that not cool?! I have a broken ceramic pot on my patio (thanks, Merle!) that I am going to glue back together. I am then going to paint the cracks gold and remember the beauty.

Just like that special pecan tree, your lighting strike will heal and make you more beautiful and wise than you were before. You will keep on coloring like those broken crayons and you will create a masterpiece. Your golden cracks will be your crown. Have the faith. Embrace it and shine that light. In our weaknesses we are made strong!

Remember that!

Walk in love, dear readers.

Music Monday

 

…There’s no need for anger, there’s no need for blame
There’s nothing to prove, everything’s still the same…
~Bob Dylan

Dear readers, nothing in this world is as it seems.

What in this world actually makes sense?

Don’t judge books by their covers. You have no idea what is on the inside of those pages.

Stay in your lane. Do you. Do not worry about others. Keep your focus on The Man Upstairs. That is how you keep your perspective. That is when things do make sense.

Walk in love, dear readers, and have a blessed Monday!

Joy

Not quite ready for Monday morning? Or do you already need a break?

Shh. Me too. I got your back. I am here for you.

My quality time with my menagerie at the farm this past weekend is calling me back! Even with the crazy weather, but enough about that.

Grab a quick cup a coffee and have a scroll through what brings me joy and serenity. I want to share it with you to bring you joy and a smile. And well, possibly to motivate you if you need it! Enjoy!

How can you not smile at that cute face?!

Joy really is all around us, always. We just need the eyes to see, you see? God is great in all times and seasons.

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Walk in love, dear readers. Have a fabulous Monday.