Fleeting Human Relationships

How do you define relationships? Do they last an extended period of time or can they be short-lived, yet impactful?

Yesterday in my Song Lyric Sunday post, the word ‘mess’ was used in reference to a quantity of food. It is well known southern vernacular. We often picked a ‘mess of beans’ or caught a ‘mess of fish’. It was an amount of food suitable to feed a group of people.

This reference reminded me of a woman that managed a vegetable stand near our home in Florida. I often stopped on my way home from work to pick up tomatoes or corn for dinner. She was friendly and we always enjoyed brief conversations although I never knew her name. She reminded me of the women that surrounded me in the Valley where I grew up. She gave me the feeling of home. When I attempted to pay for my selections, she would often smile and say, “Don’t you want a nice mess of beans to go with that?”

When we were in Florida a few weeks ago, we drove by where her farm stand once stood. We both recalled her and smiled saying “If only we had a nice mess of beans”.


When we moved to North Carolina, I was finally able to fulfill my dream of taking lapidary classes. Robert was my instructor at the local arts and crafts school. He was short in stature and always dressed typically country. He was kind and helpful providing the guidance I needed to cut rocks into beautiful cabochons. I was thrilled and took his classes whenever possible. We talked of mysticism and life and a book about spirit guides he was writing.

Robert died unexpectedly from a heart attack. I was devastated, feeling like I did not deserve to share in the grief experienced by his wife and those who knew him well and loved him so much.

I did not learn he ministered at a local church until after he was gone. I never suspected, but now it makes so much sense. His warmth, his helpfulness, and his non-judgemental personality was what we hope for in a minister of faith. I bought his book, and he autographed it for me. I treasure it.

There is a small bridge I cross when I drive up the mountain. The rocks in the stream remind me of him, although there is no reason they should.



Floyd was a common sight on the street corner in Anchorage, Alaska. He joyfully waved to passersby holding a sign that read “SAY HI TO FLOYD” and people would give him money. He was a panhandler with developmental disabilities who had no other way to make a living. My children have fond memories of waving to the ever-smiling Floyd. You can read his story here – Anchorage Daily News.


I never knew Luther although he had lived in our community his entire life. He lived in the holler and walked everywhere. I remember him fondly. I was a kid but remember his black hat, walking stick, and his beaming smile as he passed and always said hello. That was it. A kind man who always said hello, yet I see his face clearly some sixty years later.


Our high school band traveled to  Virginia Beach for a competition. We were sitting high up in the grandstand when another band walked past the grandstand below. I caught the eyes of a young man about my age. Our eyes locked and we gazed at each other until he was out of sight. I can still remember his face perfectly and of course never saw him again.

Do you have fond memories of people who stepped into your life for a short period of time? What inspires these often micro-connections with other people? I would love to hear your thoughts..


A Man of Generous Spirit

Image by Pixabay

Day 362

Today my daughter went to the doctor and has been cleared to go back to work, but only because she has a sedentary job. She still cannot lift anything so she still has restrictions such as picking up her daughter — something a two-year old does not understand. I could rush back home, but I want to make sure she transitions well and to be honest, everyone is a bit apprehensive about me going home too soon.

I talked to my husband tonight and he agrees. This man is soft and kind and gentle and generous to a fault. He has been home alone for three weeks now. He has never complained once or asked me to come home. He has supported me every step of the way.

We have a wonderfully blended family as we were both married before. No matter who needs us, we do all we can to be there. It has always been that way. There is no his children or my children, they are our children. That simple agreement between the two of us has meant everything in our relationship.

We are both capable of caring for ourselves, thankfully. He is as good a cook as I am and has no issues or qualms in taking care of the house, laundry and dishes included. We have similar interests as well as extremely diverse interests. We do not spend every waking hour together. Maybe that is what makes this separation somewhat easier than it might be for others.

My little Florida family needs to find their rhythm without me. It will be hard to leave after this tumultuous time, but when I leave I will know they are in a safer healthier place.

I look forward to having coffee with my husband and falling back into our routine. The leaves will be turning soon if they have not already started. I look forward to taking our day trips on the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the fall foliage.

I am so fortunate to be loved with wide reaching arms that let me do what I need to do and to explore all the aspects of my being. I love him the same way in return.

But I am not ready to go yet. He understands that. And for that I am forever grateful.


When Women Gather

The Bond Between Sisters

Day 259

We are in our third day of heavy rain which will stretch into tomorrow. Today I will make the 2-hour drive to my son’s house to help my daughter-in-law and care for my grandchildren while my son is out of town.

So far this year we have had over 39 inches of rain — 1.44 inches today alone. (According to the U.S. climate website, our average annual rainfall is just over 61 inches a year. Last year we had almost 90 inches of rainfall due to some hurricane-related weather.) It’s no wonder my mind is floating…

In the midst of this rain-soaked weekend, my mind is drifting to a wonderful opportunity that has presented itself. I have been invited to a women’s meditative retreat in October in the midst of fall color in New England. My body relaxes just thinking about it.

My sisters and I were able to retreat to Blue Ridge, GA for 3 years before each of them passed. We rented a cabin tucked away in the mountains and spent a week together. We packed our bags, left our families and troubles at home and trekked to spend a week together as sisters. It was the most fun, restorative and healing time. We rarely had cell service, so we had plenty of time to work through old disagreements and just be.

We bonded and shared things that had never seen the light of day. We decided this: What happens in the mountains, stays in the mountains. I wrote a little about this in an old blog post — Relationships, Sisters, and the Value of Macaroni Salad.

The fall retreat in New England will bring together a small group of like-minded women to gather, share and heal together. We all have a common thread, but our backgrounds and experiences are rather diverse. The thought of this trip has already become a place of respite for me.

Yesterday, my daughter and her wife called to see if I would be willing to consider going to a cabin early next year — a mother/daughter trip. Two moms, two daughters and our shared granddaughter for a week in the mountains. It was a hell yes for me. I know the strength of women coming together.

So while right now, it may be raining hard here, I have many beautiful days to look forward to. Times of healing and communion. Times of shared experiences and new relationships. It is harder and harder to find these quiet and reflective times in our busy world. I have learned if they do not exist, we have the power to make them happen.

My husband has always been and will always be supportive of all my dreams and does not feel threatened by any of it. He knows I always return a better version of myself.

“We’re connected, as women. It’s like a spiderweb. If one part of that web vibrates,
if there’s trouble, we all know it,
but most of the time we’re just too scared,
or selfish, or insecure to help. But if we don’t help each other, who will?”
Sarah Addison Allen,
The Peach Keeper


The Art of Receiving

Day 208

I remember growing up believing that their were two types of people in the world — the givers and the takers. It seemed to be a lesson in the idea that giving was a construct of good and taking was somehow bad. What was absent in that life lesson was the art of receiving which is quite different than taking.

These thoughts have been running through my mind for several days now. Last Friday I watched a video posted by my friend Kim Halsey. Kim recently retired from Corporate America and is now living her heart’s desires and teaching others to do the same through her business Leading With Heart.

Toward the end of her video, Kim talks about the vulnerability and courage it sometimes takes to just simply receive. After watching the video I had a bit of a flashback to a very similar moment in my life, when just feeling humble enough to receive with no expectation of repayment hit me hard.

Relationships can change you. Especially bad relationships. They can alter your way of thinking and behaving. Expectations you have of yourself can be altered in dramatic ways.

I remember three very distinct moments in my life which distorted and then reshaped my views on giving and receiving.

There was a time in my life I was in a particularly bad marriage. I will not go through all the trauma associated with this time in my life because it is not important any longer. What is important are the continued lessons that come out of that time

  • It was December and we planned a trip across country for the holiday. Because of the expense we agreed we would not buy presents for each other. The tree was decorated, the kids presents tucked underneath the tree awaiting our return home. When we came back, I discovered a gift under the tree for me – a present containing a VERY expensive piece of jewelry we simply could not afford. I, of course, had not purchased a gift – I kept my word. I felt horrible trying to receive this gift because it was one-sided and a violation of the promise we had made.
  • Fast forward years later to my 12th wedding anniversary. Things were falling apart in the marriage at a very rapid rate. I had come off a week of intense arguments and extreme levels of stress in the relationship. At work the receptionist phoned and said there was a delivery for me on its way to my office. We worked in an open cubicle environment where everyone could see you at all times. I was caught off guard when a florist arrived with 12 dozen long stemmed roses. Another over-the-top gift. Again, something we could not afford. The ruckus in the office was a full barrage of adoration and comments like “you are so lucky”, and “I wish someone loved me like that” and “does he have a brother” and on and on. I felt sick to my stomach knowing there was a price associated with this gift. Meanwhile, at home, my now-ex was so sure of himself and asked my daughter if she thought I could stay mad at him now? Trust me, I learned that gifts are not always from the heart and often the act of receiving had a huge cost – it was manipulation.
  • Fast forward to the day of my eventual divorce. Believe me, I was mouthy about it. I took the day off work and told everyone I was going to go get drunk to celebrate. Of course, I was not going to celebrate the demise of my marriage. It was a failure after all. My failure. I left the courthouse and came home and decided to mow my overgrown lawn. I had an old used lawnmower that choked out on me all the time. The blades were dull and the grass was high. I would get about 15 yards and the machine would die. I was sitting on the floor in the garage taking the lawnmower apart trying to fix it when my son came home from school. As he stepped off the bus, our elderly neighbor called for him to stop at her house. Moments later I looked up to see my son pushing her brand new lawnmower across the street toward our house. My son said, “Mrs. D wants you to use her mower.” I looked up, covered in grass clippings and motor oil and just started to bawl. “Why are you crying, mom? This is a good thing, isn’t it?” Indeed it was.

That day mowing my lawn was a turning point. I realized how powerful it is to simply receive with grace and gratitude. I had spent 15 years determined to do everything on my own and not to ask anything of anyone. In the receiving of this gift, I was brought to my knees. I was humbled. Gifts could be given full of heart and good intention without expectations of anything in return.

I still struggle with receiving, but I am better at it now than ever before. I resist the feeling that I need to reciprocate in some way. The beauty of receiving is to acknowledge that you are seen and you are loved and the gift is quite simply just a gift from the heart.


“Excavate the Unsaid” – Exploring Vulnerability

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Day 202

“Excavate the Unsaid” is something Brené Brown said on her Netflix special The Call to Courage.

So many people in my circle are huge Brené Brown fans. They listen to all her Ted Talks and have read all her books. When I turned on Netflix last night, I was going in blind.

Coming off of Kyle Cease’s Love Rising videos, I was prepared for something similar, but I found it quite different. Not good or bad, just different.

I found a number of the things she said to be extremely powerful and were real takeaways for me. Learning not to exploit the pain in the people we love was a big one. This is an easy offensive go-to in the heat of a disagreement with someone you care about. It’s like taking the cheap shot. But I had never considered it as exploiting someone else’s pain. That idea requires some stepping back and taking stock of what we do to people we profess to love.

When someone is in pain, why would we want to hurt them further?

The other takeaway for me was “excavating the unsaid”. She gives a really long example of this from her own life which was enough to make the special worth watching. So often we have a story we create in our heads to explain the behavior of someone else. In many cases, the story we create is not based on anything but our imagination. Why isn’t it easier to simply ask for the truth? When we find truth, we find growth.

Digging deep with each other, especially people important in our lives, is essential in understanding. Being vulnerable is not easy, especially if there is no warm and welcoming place that makes you feel safe in being open and raw. Don’t ask someone to be vulnerable if you are unwilling to accept their vulnerability.

Based on my experience, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable has a lot to do with the gender roles we have learned throughout our lives. Men are not supposed to be vulnerable, but women, being the societal ‘weaker sex’, are often seen as vulnerable.

Brené also talks about the chicken and egg scenario when it comes to trust Versus the ability to be vulnerable.

I am glad I watched. I am not ready to go out and buy her books, but I do value what she shared. Each teacher comes into our lives at just the right time I think. Then it is up to us.

Perhaps we can become addicted to self-help trying to make sense of our lives. For me, I listen for the motivation to effect change in my life. Once I have heard the lesson, it is time to put the lessons learned into action. It will not matter how many teachers you have if you do not apply the lessons to your own life.

I would encourage you to watch The Call to Courage. It is a minimal investment of time and who knows, it might be what you need to hear.