Why Write, Why Blog, Why Paint?

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I’m only speaking from my experience here,  but when you lose someone close to you unexpectedly — whether it’s a boyfriend or spouse or child or a parent — it’s amazing how therapeutic you can find the everyday things in life. The simple things. At least that was true for me. Although you’d never know it now, following the death of someone that I love, I begin to work in the yard. I grew things  from seed, I made my own potting soil by mixing vermiculite and three other things I can’t even recall now.  I was the only 23-year-old in the garden section of Lowe’s  every morning at 8 a.m., but it helped me learn to trust God again. I planted 35 hostas around the tree in my backyard in one weekend before I even realized that hostas won’t thrive in my soil, so then I started all over again.

And I also turned to painting. At three in the morning when you can’t sleep and you have all these “what if’s” and “maybe I should have’s” running around in your head, picking up a brush seemed to quiet that. And when I had successfully repainted every room in my house five times — and I’m not joking, the two little girls I kept could come in in the morning and never know what color the walls may be — I turned to painting everyone else’s house. People used to laugh when they would ask me if I love to paint and I would respond, “No, I actually hate it.”  They didn’t realize that I was serious. It was just something I inherited, a talent I was born with, a genetic gift from my mother that I never really even paid attention to until I was grown. I never took an art class in my life — that seems impossible now — but I was too busy with Speech and Theater. Art just didn’t interest me.  Still, it wasn’t so much the end result of painting that I liked or even the process,  it was what it gave me personally — peace of mind. Stillness of thoughts.

Like most artistic people, I enjoy the gift that art gives an overactive mind. Whether that is writing, painting, or music. Whenever I get confused about my place in this world, I pick up a brush. That’s much better than picking up a bottle.

So thanks for your interest in my pieces. There is nothing quite like planting a seed and watching it grow to remember that everything is as it should be and there’s nothing quite like doing a simple task and doing it well to remind you that God is still good and in control.

Thanks for being a part of my healing!

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Of Course God Is Not Dead — Neither Is Goodness and Democracy

I was just talking to a lady on the sale pages on Facebook, and she commented that she was having a really hard time right now and she just kept hoping that her family would see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I commented and told her that I always remind myself that Tyler Perry was down to living in his car before anybody was willing to take a chance on his writing.  And that it always helps to keep in mind the old adage that
the way in which you view the world is the way in which you will meet it.  And that it’s just been my experience that if you constantly expect the world to be understanding and generous and good, they usually are.

No, that doesn’t mean that people can’t be assholes, and that selfish people who are miserable won’t attempt to use you or abuse you to get a rise for themselves because they are personally powerless and they know it — because they’re everywhere, and in abundance.  But it means that when you put out good energy, you generally get it back.

I remember a lady posted one day on the local concerned citizen page that she had lost a wallet at Kroger and she was so surprised that somebody turned it in. There were like 50 comments of people that followed saying how shocking that was. My response was something along the lines.of acknowledging that I know I’m an eternal optimist who can find the rainbow of sunshine in the middle of a tsunami shitstorm and who can eternally spot the unseen blessing  in anything — for example, I always feel like I’m one doctor visit away from a colon cancer diagnosis, and then I think, well maybe I would be qualify for Make-A-Wish Foundation and I might actually get to see a Broadway production before I die (although it won’t be Hamilton)  — but as that eternal optimist, it didn’t surprise me that people found a wallet in Dickson County, Tennessee, and turned it in.  Because that’s exactly what I would do!

The title of that movie “God Isn’t Dead” always bugged me, because my immediate response was,  “Whoever said that he was!?”

God is alive and present every day. But so is goodness.

A conversation I had with a friend once (who I missed dearly) always bounces around my brain in a moment like this. We had found some money on the ground and I immediately went on a mission to find out who the $10 belonged to. I told her that that was my granddaddy and my Uncle Chunky’s doings. My grandfather was so honest that he accidentally left the gas station with a candy bar one day that he hadn’t paid for a while getting gas, and he wouldn’t even eat it until he went back the next day and set it right. And that my Uncle would say that God was watching to see what I did with that $10.

Well, my dear friend Ms Sherry was raised by her aunt and uncle, and although she was old enough to be my mother and then some, we had so much in common, which meant her Aunt and Uncle were depression-era just like my great aunt and uncle. So they had a way of teaching life lessons that would stand the test of time. She told me a story about finding $20 when with her uncle, who she called her dad, and she queried her dad “what if God is just checking to see if we do the right thing,” and he responded: “Maybe, and what if it’s God’s way of buying our lunch?” 

We laughed for days at that, but I also told her — “And that’s why when I lose my purse, somebody turns it in, and  why when you lose yours, they use your credit card, because it’s “God’s way” of sending them some quick cash.”

We had such fun with that — God rest her soul, I think about her everyday — but it’s a lesson that sticks with you. One that goes back to what I truly believe. Of course bad things happen and honest people get taken for a ride, but I truly believe that if you expect goodness and honesty, and you put out goodness and honesty, it’s what you will find.

It’s why I could never understand the mentality of a man like Donald Trump.

I want to win the lottery just to give it all away. I keep lowering the prices on every piece I paint because I don’t feel right charging somebody for more time than it took me to make it. (And, also, I know how cheap I am. So, in turn, I expect a fair price for them.)  Because while I do believe that people are still good, I’m not sure that I believe that all business is good. The corporate greed that is taking over America is one of our downfall.  A nation that built our greatness and our success on hard work and labor unions, we’ve attempted to kill them for the sale of money in the pockets of rich men while teaching and persuading the working man that  it’s for “his best interest” — and we’ve used moral issues, like Jesus Christ, abortion, and guns to do so. So as to distract him from noticing that he’s getting stiffed. 

It’s sad. It’s sickening. It’s wrong.

Which is why it was hard for me not to tell tell that sweet lady to remember to vote on November 8th — and to remember to vote democratically. Because if we ensure four more years of the democratic platform, your family might actually begin to see the benefits of an economic turnaround spearheaded by the Democratic Party, and one that benefits the middle class.  But I try not to be political in every area of my life, but it’s hard — because I can’t separate who I  am from myself.  And I am someone who wholeheartedly believes in the government of the United States’ responsibility, and the obligation of those of us who’ve been given the right to live in the greatest nation on Earth to remember the government’s ability to better the lives of people. It’s not “everybody for themselves” as the allegedly ‘Christian’ party has been brainwashing us to believe. And it’s also a little bit troubling.

No man is an island. And while nobody gets sick by themselves, nobody gets well alone either. And if one baby in this nation goes to bed without milk in her stomach, it doesn’t matter to me if they suffer because their mama was lazy and could actually get a job, or if they suffer because their family couldn’t afford it, all that matters to me, in the wealthiest nation on Earth, is that a baby went to bed hungry.

And that’s all I need to know.

The national deficit isn’t increased because of food stamps. It’s increased because of billionaires like Donald Trump who don’t pay taxes. They took a third of everything my uncle worked his entire life for before they let me see a cent.  And do you think for one second I tried to find a way to get out of that?! No, I tried to see if I could roll it into an IRA, but my Uncle Chunky believed that that was the responsibility that came with living in such a blessed Nation.  (Now, I take mad issue with Dickson County’s mismanagement of property taxes and the way they are sticking it to us for a lawsuit they’re playing a game of semantics and lying about it — and the day they get honest about that is day I might care about paying my property taxes on time), but as a nation, my uncle believed in the Bible when it said “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.”

And so we did.

That’s the difference in the Democratic Party —  and in one where we use our power for good to actually change lives.

Is government the solution to every problem?  No, but if it’s not the beginning — who the hell is? If government isn’t here to better our country for everybody, to ensure stability and goodness and growth — what the hell is it here for? For men like Donald Trump to make insane amounts of money by evading federal taxes while that woman at McDonald’s works 50 hours a week and still can’t pay the rent — while paying our troops and our officers and our schools every cent that she owes?

Much like my beloved  Uncle, Joe Biden’s father always said it best: “Joey, this is the price we pay for living in the greatest nation on Earth.”

If you believe in goodness and kindness and opportunity, please remember November 8th.

And if you believe our better days are in front of us instead of behind us, please remember to vote blue consistently.

What’s Done In Secret, God Rewards In Plain Sight

You know, I’ll say this … I’ll say a lot on my blog, but I’ll just say this here.

When you grow up around a bully, you develop a fight or flight mentality. Boyfriends have chased me down, got in front of the car so I can’t leave, because I absolutely hate bickering and verbal abuse and chaos. Boyfriends hate that about me.  I walk away from a fight. My mother hates that about me, too. I had so much of it growing up, that I just don’t. I’ll say what I have to say — usually in print — and I’ll set  down somewhere where you can read it, and then after that, I’m out until you push me to the point that I show up at your house with a ball bat or a broom.  I run.  I escape. Until I can’t and then I’m kill or be killed. That was a coping mechanism. What I don’t do is all that in the middle. I just say what I have to say and let them whirl. When you whirl too much, you’ll see me. But I don’t go back and forth. When you grow up never knowing  what day you’ll say the wrong thing and have to endure getting your ass kicked, you pick your battles, and you only know one escape — away.

When people start jawing, I’m out. I just put my truth out there, you can do what you want with it. That’s the same reason I no longer argue politics. I just say what I think and you’re only job is to like it or not. I don’t give a damn about “arguing” or feelings. That wasn’t exactly a luxury I had. There was just ANGER all the damn time.

That said, as much as I walk away the second somebody starts running me down — no, I will not stand around one more day and listen to abuse — nobody deserves to be shunned. Nobody. I wouldn’t wish the pain of what I’ve had to endure — and ignore — on my worst enemy. Ever.

It’s cruel. It’s manipulative. It’s abusive. And it’s wrong. The world can never strip from me that which my Uncle Chunky gave me, and even in my most alone, even in my most let down, even in my most lonely, I can go visit his grave and know, instantly, that there’s somebody out there that loves me the way that God loves us all. The world can never beat me down enough to make me lose that. But it doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt. It doesn’t mean I was immune. And I wouldn’t wish that treatment on a stray dog, let alone a person. Nobody deserves that. Nobody.

My friend Jamie would always tell me that where man has hurt you God will use you. And my Uncle Chunky always said what’s done in the dark eventually comes to light, and that God sees all — and rewards all — even if man never does.

If all of that is true, man — it’s going to be hell of a time when it’s time to cash in on spiritual payday. Karma is ugly. But some of us, we have a huge refund coming.

I’m ready to collect my check. 

Sweet Tea and The GOP — Not Exactly Southern To Me

I went to Good Wings to get my first meal of the week — I can’t eat when I’m feeling blue — and I actually got my unsweet tea order correct. As I took a big sip and said Hallelujah, it occurred to me that being southern must mean different things to different people. I don’t know when Southern become synonymous with sweet tea. I don’t drink sweet tea, it taste like obesity. I don’t eat greens.  I damn sure don’t want a fried pickle. 

I once had someone say to me, “You know, it’s like… how do you eat an elephant?” Only I’ve never heard of the expression ‘how do you eat an elephant,’ so I replied: “What? How do you eat an elephant!? I don’t know, here in the south, I guess you’d deep-fry the son of a bitch.”

When the room stopped laughing and explained it to me, I don’t know if I’ve ever been so humiliated in all my life.
If not, tickled.

So I’m perfectly aware that we have customs that are a little strange. I’m also aware that being Southern doesn’t necessarily mean that I coat everything in Crisco. Being Southern means that I still say “yes, sir” and “no, sir” to the man at the fast-food window. Being Southern, to me, means that I recognize your right to be who you are in the freest nation on Earth. Being Southern means that nobody’s a stranger. Meaning that when God commanded go out into all the world and preach the gospel, he didn’t just mean white people that are American. And when he said ‘Thou shalt Love Thy Neighbor,’ he met Syrian refugees, too.

It means dignity. It means prayer. It means a throwback to a time gone before, and a life lived immersed in lessons imparted by generations that have past by. Singed in ashes from the smoldering remnants of a brighter, more ravenous time. When the desire for American citizenship and the flames from the spark of patriotism and pride burned hotter and higher than any on Earth. The bonfire of America’s Greatest Generation lives on inside of us, still.

For all time.

That’s what it means to be Southern.

Where we do onto others as we’d have them do onto us. Where we do not covenant thy neighbor’s tractor — or their wife. We eat chicken strips from the gas market and make it a meal. We don’t call the pound on a loose dog — no, we just round them up and take them back home. Where there’s no such thing as someone else’s children or none of our business, and we believe life begins with football in the fall.

Southern means a spring of things, a fountain of  renewing freshness in a world gone stale. The ripeness of life here is in the quality of goodness of the people that pass by.  Which is why my southern white ass cannot understand the popularity of the Republican party and a man like Donald Trump in these parts. There’s nothing southern about either of those at all.  Just bullying, selfishness, hypocrisy, and lies.

You can keep your liquid glucose and that tangerine-tinted twat, neighbors.