An excerpt from Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run.
One of the most fearless women I know, and a moment when her resolve was tested (Learn more about Glanzmann's Thrombasthenia and the Glanzmann's Research Foundation at www.CureGT.com and visit the Make-A-Wish Foundation at www.wish.org):
Friday, January 28, 2011
Expect good things to happen.
It's an emotional risk to always expect the best. I risk being let down. I risk other people calling me naive. I risk getting less than what I'd hoped for. I risk having to cope with disappointment.
It's an even greater gamble, however, to expect the worst. When I expect the worst, then I look for the worst. Naturally, I seek to confirm my expectations. And more than likely, the worst, in some form or another, will occur. If I expect my children to misbehave, then I begin to look for all the things they are doing wrong instead of appreciating what they are doing right.
Likewise, when I expect the best, I'm primed to notice good things in a situation. If I expect my husband to come home from work in a good mood, I'll notice how he didn't slam the door, or how he greeted the kids, or how he tossed his keys into the basket. If I expect a party to be fun, I'll mingle more, I'll engage in lively conversations, I'll compliment the hostess. In essence, I will ensure that I attribute my husband's behaviors to a good mood. I'll go to the party intending to have a good time.
Will there be times when I expect good things to happen and they don't? Of course. But living fearlessly means that I am willing to take that risk and to accept (which is very, very different from expect) that bad things will happen, too. And when they do, I deal with them without ever giving up on the expectation of better things to come.
TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: In your BOOK OF LISTS write down three good things that you expect to happen in the coming week. Fearlessly believe that they will. At the end of the week examine whether or not they happened, how they happened, and how your expectations influenced those good things.
Lucy Adams is the author of two books: Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run and If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny.
Posted by Lucy Adams at 5:52 AM
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Right Lane Must Turn Right.
--Or must it?
I turned 40 earlier this month. And I started thinking about what I have done with my life. And I realized that I've made a lot of right turns just because the sign said so; not necessarily because it was the direction I wanted to go.
I've found myself caught in that right turn lane a lot, doing what other people expected me to do, doing the "proper" thing, making other people happy by going with the flow. Not that other people always imposed right turns on me. I usually imposed them upon myself. I have always been a pleaser.
Not that it was always the wrong decision to go right. It brought me here, of course, and there are many, many things I like about my current parking space on my journey of right turns.
I guess what bothers me is that I've never fully considered all my options when I've found myself inadvertently stuck in the RIGHT TURN ONLY lane:
1) Do the predictable, comfortable thing and turn right.
2) Ease beyond the right turn, into the intersection, and try to unobtrusively sneak back into the left lane.
3) Put on my left blinker, turn the steering wheel in the direction I want to go, and wave my way into the left lane; even stop traffic in the right lane, if I have to, until someone lets me move over.
So what if horns honk. I've got choices! We've all got choices, and it doesn't mean that we're impolite if we take a moment to consider them. It doesn't mean we're unladylike if we choose not to turn right.
I'm 40 years old. I don't intend to travel the next 40+ years going around the world to the right. I want my course to meander, to zig left, to zag right, to make U-turns (even when the sign says I can't), to merge, to travel divided highways, and to take me places I'll never arrive at if I always make right turns.
TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: On a yellow or white Post-it Note, write your own sign and post it on your dashboard or your steering wheel.
My sign for today says: CAUTION CURVES AHEAD
Posted by Lucy Adams at 6:46 AM
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
On Day 6 of Southern Girls Living Fearlessly, did you find your passion? Did you discover your talent? Are you still struggling to admit to it or find it? Are you fearful, like the servant who received one talent, of taking a risk with it so you've buried it in the ground, held it back, resisted developing it? Or have you multiplied it like the servants in the parable who received 2 and 10 talents from their master?
Who has the more complete life? Who is fully engaged? Who is living each day, week, month, year to its very limits? - The woman who finds her passion, capitalizes on her talents, and fails? Or the woman who plays it safe and never uses her gifts, justifying her reluctance by saying that the world is a cruel, unwelcoming, and unpredictable place and that she will not put herself at its mercy?
Our gifts, talent, passions, whatever you choose to name them, are freely given to us, and we are free to do with them as we please. The master chose to give his servants talents and left them with the responsibility of wisely investing them. Like the servants in the parable, we too have a responsibility to invest our gifts in this world. The greater our investment, the greater our returns, the more abundance we will experience.
As a school child, Thomas Edison was told he was stupid. Yet, as an adult, he discovered he had a passion for inventing. He took a risk. In fact, he took approximately 10,000 risks and failed approximately 10,000 times in his effort to invent the electric light bulb. Had Edison believed his teachers, had Edison not accepted his talents, had he not been willing to invest in his passion, he would never have brought light to the world.
We can bring light to the world as well. In fact we have a responsibility to overcome our fear of failure and earn returns on the talents we've been given.
Thomas Watson, founder of IBM, said success lies on the other side of failure.
If we have not used our talents, we have not failed. If we have not failed, we have not lived fearlessly. If we have not lived fearlessly, we have not lived. If we have not lived, we have not succeeded.
TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: Read the entire parable of the servants and the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Then read Southern Girls Living Fearlessly - Pursuing Passion again. Find your passion. Next, in your Book of Lists, write down your talents and ways that you can use them. Finally, act.
Know that you too have been given talents according to your ability. Multiply your talents and gain abundance. Ignore your talents and lose what you have.
Posted by Lucy Adams at 7:57 AM
Monday, January 24, 2011
Set the world on fire without burning it up.
My older brother and I performed many, many experiments throughout our childhood. We spent long hours hovered over a microscope lens trying to identify the pond water bacteria swimming on our slide. We verified, as many of you already know, that cats, when dropped, almost always land on their feet. And we set a few fires in the name of scientific discovery.
Since he is two years my senior, and I blamed him for most everything else, I will just go ahead and say that most of our devious laboratory plots were his idea. I went along as his impressionable, and intensely eager to be persuaded, Igor. And this next tidbit I share from our history is only but one example of many:
Where my brother came up with this idea, I'll never know. I doubt he even remembers. But he sent his Igor out to gather supplies: a large piece of Styrofoam from a recently delivered appliance box, rubbing alcohol from the medicine cabinet, and matches from the kitchen drawer. Naturally, he sent me because who, after all, would suspect a blond, curly-headed girl of any hidden agenda?
When I returned to him with the loot, he swore me to secrecy or death by noogies. I chose secrecy and have confessed to no one, until now. But the story has relevance to living fearlessly and must be told. Anyway, he carefully poured the alcohol on the surface of the Styrofoam and stepped well away from it. Then he told me to prepare to be amazed and struck a match. I was prepared to run for help, but he interpreted my wide-eyed stare as one of awe and respect. Which prompted him to flick the match at the Styrofoam.
Whoolfsh! A blaze shot up and burned hot, traveling the path of the alcohol. It was absolutely brilliant. I couldn't believe we were about to burn down our house in this most impressive way. Our parents were going to kill us for sure this time. We whooped and hollered to get as much out of the moment as we possibly could before meeting our end.
Just as my brother suspected, but I did not, the blaze burned itself out, leaving the Styrofoam slightly melted, but no other damage. "Let's do it again," he conspiratorially whispered.
The point of my story is not that we were wickedly sneaky children. Nor is my point that we had no remorse, because for the next week I rode under the radar, sure that my mother knew what we had done and was waiting for the perfect moment to inflict enough guilt on my young shoulders to hunch me over like a real Igor. The point is that we, you and I, can set the world on fire without taking other people down in our ascent to the top.
It is the person afraid of failing who steps on the backs of others to get where she is going. It is the person afraid that she can't make it by her own talent, who betrays those who trust her. It is the person afraid of how she compares to others that gossips and backstabs and sneaks in back doors. This kind of woman, the one who is afraid, still sets the world on fire, but she leaves a blackened, burned path behind her.
But the fearless woman believes in herself and she values the people around her. The fearless woman knows how to set the world ablaze without burning her bridges. The fearless woman never gossips to get ahead, never compromises her integrity, never offers false friendship, never portrays her motives as something other than what they are. She is not afraid of not getting to where she wants to go.
TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: Try the experiment (using the proper precautions that we didn't). Prove to yourself that it can be done on a small scale. Then apply the lesson to your life.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go on.
I sure hope he credited his mama for those words of wisdom. I know that's where he heard them first.
Life is the sum of small decisions. Everyday, I face choices, some of which I would rather avoid. But even when I skirt around them, or delay them by agonizing over the details and possible consequences, or ignore them, I'm making a decision.
I love my mother-in-law. She is organized, kind, deliberate in her actions, conscientious about making her house a home even though her children are grown and married. She has difficulty making decisions, however. For example, she will shop every store in town looking for the perfect curtain rod. Not because she can't find anything she likes, but because she fears leaving unexplored options on the table. Meanwhile, the bare windows provide no privacy.
We are the decisions we make and the ones we let other people make for us and the ones we refuse to make and the ones we can't make. Where we end up when all is said and done greatly depends on all the little choices. Finding the balance between deliberating our options and taking action says a lot about who we are and what we value. Certainly, curtain rods won't throw off the course of my mother-in-law's life, but is thinking a little longer worth its weight in time she could spend doing something else more rewarding?
Southern ladies don't necessarily leap into things, letting their skirts fly over their heads for the whole world see their foundation garments. But they certainly don't sit around wringing their hands about the little stuff, either. Because, it's up to us to model lives well-lived, time well-spent, for those who are watching our every step.
So, what are you going to do? Are you going to sit around and think about living fearlessly, or are you going to get up and go do it?
TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: It's about making a choice of course! Have you ever watched an old movie in which a character approaches the bar and the bartender asks, "What'll it be?" The hero or heroin responds, "The usual, Wallace," and the bartender says, "Sure thing. A strained Tom Collins, no ice, two olives, and a dash of V-8 coming right up."
Okay, I adlibbed quite a bit, but you get the picture. Our character in question is known by his/her own personal drink. I think you know where I'm headed with this. Today, you've got to choose your drink; the one that says who you are, the one that friends and family know you by, the usual. Is it chocolate milk on ice? Is it Diet Coke with a twist of lemon and a dash of leftover coffee from the morning brew? Is it an Upside Down Southern Belle with a parasol?
What will you do today to live fearlessly?
Lucy Adams is the author of two books: Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run and If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny.
Posted by Lucy Adams at 7:48 AM
Thursday, January 20, 2011
" . . . live life as a work of art, rather than as a chaotic response to external events . . ."
--Mihaly Csikszentmehalyi (Bet you can't say that name 5 times, fast.)
There are days, like today, when I wake up overwhelmed by my life; burdened by a daily schedule that allows no time for silently standing still to take a breath and appreciate just where I am in the course of things. No, I've got to get four kids out of bed, make sure they're wearing appropriate school clothes, hustle them downstairs to make lunches and eat breakfast, herd them out the door to school, get them there on time, and get myself to work. Then work, work, work. After that, I run children to soccer practices and games, ballet, the store to get supplies for oh-my-gosh-mama-I-forgot-about-it-and-it's-due-tomorrow school projects, dentist appointments, orthodontist appointments, youth group, etc. etc. And somewhere in the mix I've got to find a minute to cook dinner, help with homework, and have meaningful conversations with the people I love.
My husband and I often look at each other, in that rare instance when we can pull our heads up from the task at hand, and ask, "When did everything get so crazy?" Sometimes I feel like the only thing I can control is the pages of my calendar where I write down all of our obligations. After that, I just bounce from one thing to the next, trying my best to survive the unpredictable chaos that so often defines my existence.
Survival mode, however, tweaks the garden club member in me, who knows that life is more than just responding to turmoil, both inner and external. It's more than checking off days on the calendar. She makes herself known, rising to the top of my psyche, reminding me, "Lucy, you can lump it or like it, BUT sugah, you chose it. So suck in that bottom lip and learn to enjoy it. No one likes a complainer or a whiner, so make your day the best it can be."
That's when the poor, poor, pitiful me, who was ping-ponging through the afternoon gets her come-uppence. It's no way to live. The business of daily life is only an excuse for not living a beautiful, better existence. And the fearless woman is always living better than anyone else.
I was not meant to be a frenzied carpool mom. I was meant to be fearless. I fearlessly make my life a work of art when I take the kids to the drive-through car wash and we ooh and ahh like we did when they were little. I make art when I ask them to tell me one good thing about their day at school instead of nagging them about homework. I create beauty in my life when I light a candle, or brew a cup of green tea, or read excerpts from literature to my children, or write down home decorating ideas, or even smell that clean fresh scent of my children's clothes for the next day.
TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: Buffer yourself against the hard knocks of daily life by living today as work of art. Listen to your garden club persona. She's trying to tell you that you are bigger than unexpected dips, dives, and detours in the day. You control the beauty of your life just by the attitude you express toward it.
Take time today to decorate your home for the season. Make it a warm, cozy retreat that pleases your senses and expresses your creativity. Light a candle, hang a wreath on your door, place an arrangement of flowers on the kitchen table. These simple acts allow you to embrace the day, rather than fear the havoc it may bring.
Posted by Lucy Adams at 7:42 AM
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Accept that bad things will happen.
When my oldest son was 3 and my second son was 1 and I was pregnant with their younger brother, the oldest child stood on the side of a shopping cart and pulled it over on himself, slamming his head to the asphalt parking lot. As I lifted his body, his eyes rolled back in his head and he lost consciousness. At that moment my maternal instincts kicked in. I scooped his limp body into one arm and grabbed the baby in the other arm then ran to the front of the store, shouting at a woman headed in the same direction to call 911. I know the voice that came out of me must have sounded like that of an animal.
Miraculously, my son recovered without even a hospital stay, and for the most part appeared unscathed by the entire incident. I, on the other hand, was profoundly changed. I couldn't even talk about it in the days following, until one morning I was on my hands and knees cleaning the floor under the kitchen table, a daily chore with two young boys, and had a revelation.
These are not my children. Never were. Not mine to cling to so desperately. I have been given the gift of stewardship over them. We were selected for each other with the understanding that we supply what the other needs, AND that our creator can take either of us back when it pleases Him.
This experience prepared me for the morning, a little over two years later when my daughter, only one week old, spiked a very, very high fever. I will never forget the ambulance ride from our small county hospital to the MCG Children's Medical Center. Or the commotion that surrounded us in the emergency room. Or the tears that kept welling in my eyes, quietly trickling down my face, and my fruitless efforts to fight them back. Or standing in the hall listening to the pitiful wale of my tiny infant as residents whisked her away to a small room to perform a spinal tap. And I will always remember the prayer I said, standing there alone, time completely stopped:
Lord, I know she is yours and not mine. If you need her back, I will try to understand and I am so thankful for the week you gave us. But I also want you to know that I really would like to have more time with her, please. Amen.
I have tears in my eyes right now thinking about how he has given me seven years.
You might think that these experiences set me free to enjoy without fear the time I've been allotted with my family. But try as I might, I still held too tightly to my children. I tried to protect them from every threat to their happiness and health. I refused to go away on trips with my husband, because I didn't want something to happen to us and our children to be orphans. For me family trips were an all or nothing deal; we all go or we all stay home. I stood by that, even after a friend said, "So you'd rather that you all go down in a fiery crash together, than for your children to miss you but live long fulfilling lives?"
Last winter my husband made me face my fears. He planned a week long trip to Costa Rica for the two of us. When I tried to worm out of it, he took it as personal rejection. In the last few days, while making final plans and lists for my mother-in-law who stayed with our kids, I had to come to grips with getting on a plane without my children and leaving the country.
I had a little epiphany that not only enabled me to go on that trip, but was truly the first step of my journey into the fearless life: I had to accept that bad things happen. They just do. Events, tragic or otherwise, for the most part, are beyond human control. I have been given stewardship over my children, but I cannot protect them, or myself, from every potential heartache.
What I can protect my children from, however, is the sorrow and regret over life not lived.
TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: Accept that bad things happen. Hug your children, your spouse, your parents, your friends. Then do something you've avoided because of worry over "something bad" happening, such as letting your husband buy that motorcycle he really wants, taking a summer sabbatical to sail up the Atlantic Coast, letting your child go out of state to college, etc. and etc. Something bad might happen, but you've got to do it anyway.
What will you do today to live fearlessly?
Posted by Lucy Adams at 7:35 AM
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Well, I won't back down. No, I won't back down. You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won't back down.
Tom Petty channeled his inner southern matriarch when he recorded that song. Every southern lady worth her salt in the silver-topped crystal shaker has convictions; strong beliefs deeply rooted in her heritage, passed down over generations. And she stands by her convictions no matter the challenge. She may politely change the subject so as not to make her company feel ill-at-ease, BUT she will nevah back down.
A southern girl who doesn't stand for something will fall for anything. Swaying with every breeze, adrift on the wave of opinion and trend, does not become the fearless woman. It's those core beliefs that hold her spine straight and help her mind her posture. Fearlessness requires us to honor our beliefs.
Backing down from our principles, because of worry over whether or not a friend, or, worse, a man, will like us if we disagree, ruffles the petticoats and unhems the hoop skirts of all those proud southern women who came before us. Not only that, but we leave ourselves open to shamefully saying and doing things that we'll regret. (And if it means anything, fearless living means no regrets.)
So start channeling your inner matriarch. And if you can't channel her, channel Tom Petty and his inner matriarch.
TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: Download Tom Petty's Won't Back Down as your new ring tone on your cell to remind you of who you are and where you come from.
Then take out your Book of Lists and write down at least three core beliefs/convictions that you will stand by, come hell or high water, in this wired and wacky world.
What will you do today that is fearless?
Posted by Lucy Adams at 8:18 AM
Monday, January 17, 2011
Who hasn’t flirted with the cutest guy ever with a piece of pepper from lunch stuck in her front teeth or dropped a tampon on the checkout counter when pulling her wallet from her purse or asked the pharmacist to refill her “subscription.” We all experience highs brought down by discovery of our inadequacy. We all have accidents. We all say stupid things. And sometimes, in the midst of our mistakes, it can feel like the sky is falling and that we’ll never recover.
Really, how will we ever face the cutest guy again, knowing he saw that huge hunk of black pepper and didn’t say anything? Our imagination runs away with us. We imagine that he thought our front teeth were rotten, or that we’re so unattractive he didn’t think it was worth telling us we had something in our teeth. Oh the agony. Oh, how we duck our heads whenever we see him in the hallway. Oh, how we fear he’s laughing at us with his friends.
But embarrassing situations are survivable. It just takes some finesse.
1) First of all, stay calm. When that errant tampon drops and rolls across the checkout counter, don’t try to act like it isn’t yours. Don’t turn bright red and scramble to snatch it up, thus spilling the contents of your purse everywhere. Maintain your composure. Confidently pick it up and put it back in your purse as if it is a dime that got loose from your change purse.
2) Second, find some meaning in the situation. Learn a lesson of some sort. Maybe you need to resolve to brush your teeth after lunch. Maybe your purse needs a good purge. Maybe it’s a sign that your head is muddled up with too much information and you need a break from the routine. Whatever the message in the moment, listen to what the universe is trying to tell you.
3) Third, share it with someone. Telling another person about the experience makes it seem not so life altering. Relaying the story to a friend often makes us aware of the humor in it and the resulting laughter is very healing for the ego.
Apply these three principles and an embarrassing situation will never get you down again, at least not for long.
Lucy Adams is a newspaper humor columnist, freelance writer and author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run (Palm Tree Press, 2011) and If Mama Don’t Laugh It Ain’t Funny (Palm Tree Press, 2007). E-mail Lucy at email@example.com and visit her web site, www.IfMama.com.)
Friday, January 14, 2011
Start with a clean slate.
Some days I think to myself, If I could just start all this over again, I would do the whole thing differently. I've often thought about how, if I could go back in time and get a re-do on my college years, I would break up with my high school boyfriend before getting there, I would major in journalism or math, I would study harder my freshman year, I would get to know some of my professors better. If only, if only.
But, I'll never get a do-over on anything. Not really. Nevertheless, today I got as close to a do-over as anyone gets and it wasn't initially as blissful as I thought such a chance might be. At work on Monday, our computer network contracted a permanent flaw and lost all the data everyone in my division ever saved on the netshare. Today we were informed that it is irretrievable.
I lost years of work. Plus, I lost all my documents, spreadsheets, and power points generated from intense research over the last several weeks. There is no record of my accomplishments, other than a few printouts. The data I am supposed to analyze has vaporized.
It tweaked me today, when I found out that I now have to re-create all the spokes on my wheel that will keep rolling forward whether I'm prepared or not.
At home tonight, however, when that little knot in my chest started to unravel and I had a moment of clarity, I realized what a rare opportunity I have - a chance to start fresh. I can redefine my job and how I execute it. I can take risks with it that I never did before. With no comparisons of old to new in existence, no point of reference, I can conduct a total re-do.
Oh, sweet euphoria. I've got a clean slate and the possibilities are exciting and endless. And it leaves me asking, Why wait until fate gives me a second chance? Why not give myself the gift of a do-over here and there? And while I'm at it, why not give permission to my friends to start over, too?
TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: Today all you have to do is accept my permission to start over tomorrow, regardless of what you did today. You are relieved of your obligation to any path you've chosen that no longer suits you. Today is the day that you quit the volunteer committee that has become a burden to you. Today is the day you tell your spouse you want to make a career change. Today is the day you take the first step on your course to fulfilling a dream. Today you are throwing off all the burden of trying to live up to the expectations of everyone else and you're starting anew as the authentic YOU. It's the do-over of a lifetime. All you have to do is accept my gift.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Just as long as I'm in this world, I will be a light of this world.
- Joan Osborne, on the CD Little Wild One
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Remember that fear lurks behind perfectionism.
--Dr. David M. Burns
And perfectionism paralyzes.
--Mrs. Lucy B. Adams
No woman who lives perfectly . . .
Okay, let me start over. There are no perfect women, so I must rephrase. No woman killing herself to have the perfect wardrobe, perfect hair, perfect nails, perfect home, perfect children, perfect husband, perfect meals, perfect landscaping, perfect hostessing skills, perfect time management, and perfection all-around will ever know the joy and pure freedom of living fearlessly.
She would never spontaneously jump in the neighbor's pool with her clothes on. She would never roll down the car windows to feel the first crisp fall air rushing in. She would never say to hell with the grocery list and buy ice cream and fruit for Sunday dinner. She will forever be too busy checking to see if her perfect son made the highest grade on the chemistry test, if her perfect baseboards are dust free, and if her perfect China is displayed perfectly.
She is paralyzed by the fear that someone might find a chink in her perfectly polished silver armor and see inside to who she truly is. What those of us living fearlessly know, however, that the perfectionist doesn't, is that who we truly are is not so bad, even if not so perfect.
And I'd rather spend my energy on really living than on hiding behind a perfect facade.
TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: Let it go!
Monday, January 10, 2011
It's Time to Gather the Girls
Join Lucy in Savannah, Georgia for the 2011 Southern Women's Show February 4-6 at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center.
Lucy will be on the Conversation Stage February 4th at 11:30am and 5:30pm on Friday, February 4th talking about her new book, Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run, released January 3rd. Hear true tales of a southern girl's misfortunes, mishaps, missteps and mistakes. Plus, Lucy will share her three tips for surviving an embarrassing situation.
Posted by Lucy Adams at 9:00 AM
Friday, January 7, 2011
There's no problem that a long sit on a front porch can't solve.
"Nobody thought much about the front porch when most Americans had them and used them. The great American front porch was just there, open and sociable, an unassigned part of the house that belonged to everyone and no one, a place for family and friends to pass the time."
--Rochlin, The Front Porch, in Home, Sweet Home
When builders deleted the front porch from construction of Dixie homes and replaced it with big white garages, with mouths that open in the evenings to gobble up the residents and open again in the mornings to spit them out, they did us a huge injustice. Now, not only do so many of us miss out on chatting up our neighbors about the weather, the creek water rising, and a cup of sugar, but a lot of people can't even call their neighbors by name.
And I've got a theory about the demise of the front porch and its affect on modern life. When the front porch disappeared from southern architecture, folks got so distraught that they either sped up, too deeply burying themselves in hurried busy-ness to ruminate on the glaring omission, or they went inside, plopped on their sofas, and distracted themselves from the trauma by hypnotically watching one television show after another.
And if you ask me, that's when people altogether quit talking to each other in that slow drawl that indicates a good story will shortly roll off the tongue. That's when folks forgot how to wave at just anybody, just because. That's when making money became more important than making memories or making friends. That's when we started fearing our neighbors, suspiciously eyeing, from behind blinds, the fellow walking down the sidewalk.
Most of all, that's when problems started brewing and people started ignoring them instead of solving them. Back when family members and friends gathered on the porch on a long afternoon or after the evening meal, they hashed out everything from which team oughta win the pennant race to how America should respond to Cuba to giving Little Jimmy the what's-for about his grades in school. And everybody slept better at night having shared the burden of carrying the weight of the world.
Although we have one now, and spend many an hour there, my husband and I haven't always had a front porch. But throughout the years we have managed to carve out perches on the public sides of our many different homes; conversational venues for ourselves, where we share an evening toddy and our views on local politics, world affairs, or the grass that needs cutting. We wave to passing drivers or shout "Hello" to a jogger or invite a friend out for a stroll to sit and jaw awhile. And sometimes we simply let the crickets talk it out for us.
Since I discovered the power of the porch, there hasn't been a day I can't face knowing that my front porch, in in all the forms it has taken - lawn chairs in the grass, the tailgate of my daddy's truck, a blanket on the lawn, the brick steps - awaits me at the end of it.
TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: Find, create, claim your front porch. A place to sit, to slow down, to share, to reconnect, to watch the world go by, and to wave at just anybody, just because. A place to fearlessly face problems, big and small, with a soul mate, your children, your friends, the neighbor down the street whom you've been meaning to meet. Because there is absolutely no problem that a long sit on a front porch can't fix.
Posted by Lucy Adams at 11:06 AM
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.
- 1 Samuel 3:9
Listen carefully. See the signs. Feel your gut. Follow the path.
Last year, my old boss retired and a new boss took her place. My new boss is young, handsome, articulate, but, bless his heart, not from the south. Through no fault of his own, he's neither schooled nor skilled in the decorum of southern, gentlemanly ways. Still, we got along well. Or, at least, I thought we were getting along well. Relatively sheltered from Yankees for most of my life, their ways are a mystery to me.
Anyway, toward the end of the 9 month school year, he and I had a confrontation of gargantuan proportion. Not only was it massive, but it thunked me on the head like a foul ball out of nowhere. Surprise! I should've been paying attention!
Summer couldn't have come soon enough. I walked out of my classroom on the last day of school and didn't look back, determined to get over it and get centered again during my break. Yet, as the days of summer dwindled and I faced returning to my classroom, my anxiety increased. I dreaded the coming year.
I found myself reading an on-line story about writing jobs. I obsessively followed every link, making a list of writing careers in my Book of Lists. I resolved to follow-up each one and give it real consideration.
The next day, my boss called and wanted me to come in to his office for a meeting. My stomach turned over. I knew it couldn't be good.
At the meeting he offered me a "newly created" position that I would be "perfect" for. A writing position. You might think I jumped for joy, kissed his face, thanked him profusely, and accepted on the spot. I did not. Instead, I engaged in frivolous polite conversation, took the job description, and told him I would call after the weekend.
For two days, I brooded about the real reasons "why" he offered me this job, his hidden intentions and motivations. I knew full well this was not an olive branch and feared that I was being set up. But after that I tried to recall any signs that directed me to follow this new course:
It was not a mistake. It's been more than worth holding that cat by the tail.
TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: Making a big decision? Making a small one? Having a hard time? Fear over making the wrong choice holding you back?
Say a short prayer: Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.
Posted by Lucy Adams at 10:47 AM
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Don't put up your umbrella until it starts raining.
A lot of us are standing around under opened umbrellas because it might rain. Although we southern belles are the queens of big hair, we recognize the difference between a big do and puffed up frizz. The latter mane is one to avoid. Yet, if we always agonize over rain ruining our locks, we've constantly got one hand holding up the umbrella, leaving only one to work with; thus we're only half as productive in life.
Like a good southerner, I'm using a metaphor to explain a common hindrance to living fearlessly - worry. And I myself am not immune to it.
Tomorrow, my husband leaves for a hunting trip to the arctic circle wilderness of northern Alaska. He and three other men will be dropped by a float plane along a river bank with the understanding that the pilot will return in 10 days to collect them at a designated point 50 miles down river. They will have no guide, no roads, no hotel rooms, no grocery stores, no doctor, no pharmacy, no wives with common sense. Just them, the grizzlies, the wolves, the caribou, and the packs on their backs.
Even though I laughed when the three other men intimated that their spouses won't need to fret about the bears because my beloved is the slowest runner, to say that I am worried is an understatement. It creeps across my mind on a daily basis that there's a chance he might not come back. There's a chance he might meet up with a grizzly bear. There's a chance his pilot might not return. There's a chance he might get hopelessly lost. There's a chance he took all the wrong supplies. There's a chance he and the others will run out of food. There's a chance a terrible accident might happen. There's a chance the pilot might crash.
When I think all these nagging thoughts, I start reaching for that umbrella - Where are his life insurance policies? How will I manage the business on my own? What are all of our loan and bank account numbers? Who manages our investments? What will I tell the children? - and I hold it over my head just in case the sky starts falling.
But holding up that umbrella won't stop the rain from coming down. It won't stop my husband from going on his oh-my-gosh-I'm-almost-40-and-what-have-I-done-with-my-life adventure. And it won't alter any possible consequences or outcomes. I have to have faith that God has him in His hands. And I have to keep telling myself that one midlife-crisis excursion to the Alaskan backcountry beats buying a motorcycle.
And if it does rain, well then, I'll wash my hair a fix it again, knowing God has me in His hands. Until then, I'll leave the umbrella hanging on the hall tree so I can enjoy each day as it comes, take care of what I can, and let go of what I can't; which also allows the people I love to go out and do the same.
Some parades get rained on. This doesn't mean there shouldn't have been a parade. It's time to quit worrying and start living the fearless life.
TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: Get out a map of the world. Mark everywhere you've been in your life (since birth), then look at how far you've traveled.
Next mark three places you would like to go. Think about how much faster you'd get there if you just closed up that umbrella and used both hands.
Posted by Lucy Adams at 10:43 AM
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
What's on your list today?
My list says:
1) Oil Changed
4) Copies of papers
5) Mail Package
6) Dry cleaners
8) Start Column
9) Prescription Refilled
10) Make Orthodontist Appt.
11) Grocery List
12) Grocery Store
13) Price Software
14) Organize Bathroom Cabinets
15) Wash Clothes
And believe it or not, I'm still adding things as I sit here. Your list is probably as long as mine and is similar in tasks of the daily grind. And like me, even though you likely know you cannot accomplish all these duties, after chastising yourself this evening for not getting enough done you will transfer unfinished items to tomorrow's to-do list.
Lists like these emphasize how routine our lives are; how we move forward putting one foot in front of the other, doing the same menial obligations again and again. Granted, these objectives must be met. I can't very well let my kids grow up with crooked teeth and dirty clothes just because orthodontists and washing machines don't rev my motor. And I expect I will find a gold mine of Ivory Soap in the back of my linen closet when I straighten it up.
BUT, what if I threw in
16) Paint the kitchen sunshine yellow
5) Schedule an October fall leave tour of North Georgia
1) Send in my resume for that dream job advertised in the paper
What is the worst that could happen? - I feel blinded at breakfast, I accidentally schedule a get-away on a UGA home game weekend, and my resume gets laughed at and thrown in the trash.
What's the best that could happen? - My kitchen refreshes me each morning, my husband gets a twinkle in his eye, and I land that over-the-top position I've always wanted.
We categorize our lives down to lists because we fear losing control of our day-to-day. Lists keep us focused and progressing. Crossing things off of our lists is a way to prove we have accomplished something in our 12 hours of daylight. When our husbands walk through the door and ask, "What have you done all day?" we can produce the list. Lists give us an illusion of safety from the uncertainties of life.
I would never suggest abandoning THE LIST. It has its place. Besides, we can use THE LIST to our advantage. We can use it to overcome our fears.
TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: First, buy a beautiful journal to replace those random scraps of paper or that spiral notebook you've been using to write your lists. THIS is your new BOOK OF LISTS.
Next, write today's list in it. Yes, write down the list that says to get your brakes checked, make the kids' dentist appointments, and clean out the silverware drawer. From here on out, write every day's list of tasks in your BOOK OF LISTS. ***Somewhere in each day's list write something unexpected to do, such as kiss the dog, call your mother-in-law just to chat, or roll down the hill in your backyard. AND make sure you check it off by the end of the day.
Finally, keep all of your other lists in the BOOK OF LISTS as well. Write down all of your creative ideas for home improvement, all the professions you would like to do when you "grow up," every type of dog you think you might ever want to own, restaurants you want to eat at, vacations you want to take, and, of course, 100 things to do before you die. Then get started crossing things off these lists. Time is shorter than you think, and when you get to heaven and God asks, "What have you done all these years?" you want to be able to show Him your list.
Posted by Lucy Adams at 10:27 AM
Monday, January 3, 2011