Posted in Uncategorized

Sittin’ Ugly by Nancy Malcolm

coffee-mug-everyday-enviro-spl

Here’s To Auntie Sue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In the early morning hours, before anyone else is up, while the cat is still stretching languidly in her chair, I begin my day. In this quiet early hour I can hear the thud of the newspaper being thrown on the sidewalks, the coffeemaker finishing the last few drops and I hear the tick of our clock on the mantle. This is my selfish hour. This is my cherished solitude. I must have it!! This is my time to drink my coffee and absolutely, unequivocally “sit ugly”.

Sittin’ Ugly is a family tradition passed on by my 88 year old Auntie Sue. Her mother did it, she does it and now I do it. I’m sure lots of other people on earth are doing it, but to do it correctly is an art. The art of sittin’ ugly is learned and perfected through years of practice. There are rules of course, and above all, one must respect another’s’ right to sit ugly. There should be no judgment about sittin’ ugly. The fact is, one just simply does…..sit ugly. No judgment, no shame.

Everyone has their own way to sit ugly. But there are guidelines that I find very comforting and helpful to follow. Anyone that is new to the art will surely want to comply. The rules are as follows:

1. There must be coffee. Preferably freshly brewed with everything extra that you need, (cream, sugar etc.) and of course the favorite mug. I’ve never known a tea drinker to sit ugly, but I suppose it could be done.

2. No talking!! No one speaks to you-you speak to no one. Sometimes it may be necessary to point or grunt especially if you have small children and they absolutely must encroach on your time. But, the only talking truly allowed is to yourself.

3. You must sit. My favorite spot is an oversized chair by the window. Above all else, you must pick a comfortable, familiar place to sit. It is always good to be able to put up your feet and have a little table nearby. Your sittin’ area should be away from anyone else who might be awake.

4. You may be asking yourself, now what? I have the coffee. I’m sitting quietly. Now what? The “what” to do part is really up to you. Sometimes I just sit and stare while sipping my coffee. Staring is perfectly allowable and even encouraged. I also read my daily devotionals and have long conversations with God. I contemplate my day and my life. I think. I don’t think and then I may stare some more, all the while continuing to drink my coffee. This part may go on for a long as necessary. One hour is perfect for me.

5. Lastly, about this “ugly” part. Sittin ugly simply means that you come as you are, straight from bed. No primping allowed! One must be ones’ self. Tattered nighty? That’s ok! Acne medicine dotted on your face? Beautiful! Scruffy old favorite robe and slippers? The older the better! Sittin’ ugly is actually a super-natural phenomenon that makes you more good looking. The longer time you have to sit, the better you will look and feel. Try it and see!

Sittin’ ugly is my personal time. It is my favorite time of the day. Sometimes I can hardly wait to get up in the morning just to sit ugly. I am always at my best while sittin’ ugly, mainly because no one is speaking to me or me to them. What a joyous, peaceful time! What a perfect way to start your day, infact for me, it is a necessity.

Some mornings my little Auntie will call me and ask, “Honey, are you sittin’ ugly or can you talk?” It is always good manners to ask first encase one is not fit for conversation.

So here’s to “Sittin’ Ugly”, to having this special time each and every day and to the millions of us who find it necessary for the sustainment of sanity. Here’s to my precious Auntie Sue and all the beautiful ones who “sit ugly”.

Posted in Christmas, Uncategorized

I Believe

SCAN0063

 

Once upon a time, all I wanted for Christmas was a new car.  I believed I would get it and boy did Santa deliver!!

Now years later, my wants are different, my needs more complex, but my belief is still strong.

I still believe in miracles, dreams come true and the power of gratitude.

I believe in forgiveness, compassion and turning the other cheek.

I believe in God, family and helping others.

I believe in kindness, gentleness and being humble.

This year, I don’t think Santa will bring me a new car, but that’s ok.   I believe I am already the luckiest girl in the world…blessed beyond measure
Merry Christmas!

Posted in Friendship, Uncategorized, Web of deceit

Oh What a Tangled Web by Nancy Malcolm

068

Have you ever seen a spider web and noticed all of its intricacies?  Fine, delicate strings of beauty and grace, criss-crossing into a unique design, all part of a divine plan to nurture one of God’s creatures.

If you have ever walked into a web, you felt its stickiness and probably squealed or jumped and tried to detach it as quickly as possible.

In personal life, as in nature, there are webs everywhere.  Sticky situations that can entangle even the most savvy.  Fellow human beings fishing for information, masquerading as friends.  Co-worker deviations aimed at tripping you up…..even the web of deceit that we ourselves weave.  “I’ll just eat one more.”  “He’ll never know” or “She deserved that!”  

Oh, sometimes it’s not that bad, you get by with a web or two that harms no one in the making.  But, other times the entanglement is real.  The interlacing of fact and fiction snarl us into deception.

There is an old African proverb that says, “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.”  What strength!  What durability!  What power!

Perhaps, it’s best to leave the web making to spiders.  They are the true webmasters of this world.  Beware, my friend, lest we fall into a web of danger or weave one for ourselves.  “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”Walter Scott.

dsc_0371

Posted in Uncategorized

SHIFT HAPPENS by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Shift Happens.img_3280
When I studied poetry with 9th graders, I told them to look for the “shift” in a poem. “Shift happens,” I’d declare. The poem may begin with a young girl crying over a loss in her life, but then end with an epiphany about acceptance of life’s impermanence. “Notice where the poem changes course,” I’d advise. There they could discover the poem’s kernel of truth.
Making sense of this recent political shift is a challenge. I read one comment that stated, “The people have spoken. Deal with it.” However, the popular vote did not go with the guy who won. The majority of voters SPOKE for Hillary. How do we all deal with the discrepancy? I do not believe the election was rigged or flawed, but I feel utter disbelief and confusion that so many voters supported a person I consider a bully and an instigator.
I taught public school for 34 years, and I saw kids from ages 5 to 17 who acted like this person does. I dealt with fearful, ignorant bullies who mimicked and insulted other students who were different. I handled these public assaults by counseling both the bully and his/her target. Other times I dealt with trouble-makers who tried to start fights in classes and in courtyards by using prejudice and hate to spur others to violence. Often these ringleaders would stir up the more impressionable or discontented kids in an effort to create chaos. These were kids and teens. How do we deal with adult bullies and instigators?
Calm and rational words do not tame people full of unpredictable bluster and unnecessary tantrums. How did a person who blurts out immature insults and encourages others to chant asinine threats gain the most powerful position in our government? And how do the people who voted against him handle our new reality? There is no ISS (In School Suspension) or expulsion for this bully. We are charting new territory now. Teachers often guide students who have opposing views to listen to one another and to learn how to compromise and collaborate. Who will guide this self-obsessed bully?
Let me remember that “Shift happens” in life as well as in poetry. Our country has felt a monumental shift. I have given up on predictions and likelihoods. Anything can happen. Right this moment fear and worry rule my head, yet I do not know what this major shift will bring us. All of us need to be observant and vigilant. Instead of whining and crying, let us use intelligence, wisdom, and strength to outwit instigators and out-maneuver bullies. Bullies may sometimes be beaten with hate and violence. However, blustery bullies may also be subdued with clever elements of surprise. If we reach out and connect with those whose views are different from ours, if we seek to understand and to learn from our differences, we may navigate this frightening shift in productive ways. The shift HAS happened. Now let us seek to understand its message. I am still confused, but I do know we all need to learn from each other and work at finding new American epiphanies. More of us have to come together and cooperate to navigate this new SHIFT.img_3282

Posted in Holidays, Uncategorized

Orange is The New Red and Green! by:Nancy Malcolm

dsc_0247

Halloween is the New Christmas

A few weeks before Halloween, the stores are filled with Jack-O’-Lanterns, costumes, candy and all things pumpkin spice. ( Pumpkin spice ice cream, creamers, bagels and more..)  But, like three or four days before Halloween, BOOM!  Everything goes on sale and Christmas decorations are being stocked on the shelves, advertising lay-away plans and Santa’s arrival.  When did Halloween become the new Christmas?  

And, where is Thanksgiving?  Oh sure, there’s a few Pilgrim pictures up, lots of turkeys and a cornucopia thrown in for good measure, but, basically that’s it.  The most unbelievable yet is that Sirius Radio began their Christmas Music station on November 1st.  I hadn’t even eaten the last of the Halloween candy.

Hurry up!!!  Be thankful!  But, more important….Be Good!  Be Nice! And avoid the ‘Naughty List’ at all cost.  Yikes!  I’m beginning to feel that stress creeping up…..hurry, hurry, “It’s” almost here!

Let’s make a pact to slow down.  Let’s finish that last fun-size Snicker bar.  Let’s make a gratitude list and name everyone and everything we are grateful for.  More importantly, let’s calm that outward hype to start the mad countdown to Christmas.  Let’s at least stop and smell the pumpkin spice!  Is anyone with me?

cin-rolls

Posted in cooking with love, Grandchildren, Grandmother, I love you, Soul Food, Uncategorized

Soul Food by Nancy Malcolm

sam

My husband cooks with love.  Just ask him and he will say it’s true.  He thinks about what he wants to prepare, shops carefully and then loving cooks each dish….Soul Food.  He says he learned to cook from his Granny because she too, cooked with love.

People often refer to cornbread, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese as soul food.  Food that comforts and soothes the soul; calming and healing as it goes down.  Soul food is premeditated, planned and prepared.  Quite often, soul food is as looked forward to as a gift..just waiting to be opened.

But for me, soul food comes in a different package.  It isn’t creamed or fried.  It isn’t baked or frosted.  It is ingested through other senses and may be as much of a nuance as it is tangible.

Sometimes my grandson will look up at me and smile and kiss my hand.  Soul Food.  His smile and tender touch feed my soul with a warmth and satisfaction unequaled by chocolate cake or sweet potatoes.

Every morning, I rise early and quietly have my ‘sittin ugly’ time.  I fix my coffee, find my glasses and gather my soul food…inspirational reading, pen and paper and a soft corner of the couch…all mine.  Prayers, meditation, and coffee?  Soul food, plain and simple.

Most days I take a walk in my neighborhood or a nearby park.  Blue skies, green grass, and bright-colored flowers all make up my soul food plate.  A scoop of sunshine, a dollop of beautiful trees and a pinch of fresh air…stir it all together and wa la..soul food.

Soul food, food for the soul is always tasty.  It has just the right amount of savory and sweet, for you see, sometimes soul food isn’t what you want…it’s what you need.  Like a friend listening to your heartache and helping you see the gift within your pain.  Or an answered prayer that was ‘no, not yet’, instead of yes, yet turned out to be best.

Whether you cook with love or just love the cook, your soul food is ready for you right on time.  Our creator makes it so, surprising us with a different menu…a variety of tasty morsels, every day.  Look forward to your next delicious bite!  Yum-Yum and hallelujah!

Posted in Uncategorized

Overwhelmed by Ginger Gannaway

img_3117-sam     I am retired, so how can I feel so overwhelmed?!

Let’s blame it on television, the internet, social media, the Republicans, the Democrats, the liberal media, the Tea Party, 24/7 news, my kids, my husband, my 89 year-old dad, guns, toxins, gluten. Whatever.  There is too much “too much” in my world.

I may start my day at 6 a.m. and “sit ugly” with coffee, prayers, meditation, and a  casual list of things to do. I may write a letter or a thank you card.  I will read from Billy Collins’ Poetry 180. I  will walk my dog at 7:08.  Now my coffee is as strong as my spirits …until more of my world wakes up or I open my laptop.

It is all too much!

Facebook minutia floods my head.  I have way too many “friends” and I don’t know the difference between a notification and a news feed and that’s alright by me.

Later in the day the TV bombards me with too much:  DirectTV, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and way too many shows recorded for my viewing pleasure.  All of my choices seem cool in theory, but we do NOT have enough time.  And the last time I binge-watched a show (Bloodline), I felt worn out and lazy and guilty and sort of sleazy.  Too many choices add to my “overwhelmedness.”

Also, the options of Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and such overwhelm me.  I strive to stay connected with close friends and my three grown sons and my bro and my sis; however, at times  it is too, too much.

At times I feel like the blind cat Cupid I had as a child.  He was once attacked by a pack of wild dogs in the middle of the night, and my dad awoke to growling and shrieking in our backyard to find three dogs fighting over Cupid with either a tail or a leg in each of their mouths.  Dad shot his hunting rifle into the air and the dogs scattered.  The next morning Cupid was gone, and my parents tried to help me handle my loss.  But five days later, Cupid came limping home, so we cleaned his wounds and pampered him as much as a semi-wild outside tabby would let us.  And Cupid lived to be huge and happy for years and years.

So what in the rifle shot that will set me free and allow me to crawl into the fields and lay low and nurse myself back to a place of sanity and calm?

Just unplug and drop out, some say.  Perhaps that’s my answer, except for my music (my balm that heals all wounds).  I’ll have my paper and pen and books and I’ll stay “close to home.”  I’ll pull back from social engagements and social media.  I’ll focus on my big writing project and give it the time and attention it is insisting it really, really needs.

May I not explode or implode from this overwhelmed feeling!  My “rifle shot” may be the ink on this page.  I may not fully retreat from people and responsibilities, but I just might achieve a simple sort of balance to let me slip away just a lil bit.

Posted in Aging process, Bicycles, Exercise, Old Age, Uncategorized

Ride Like The Wind

girl-311181_1280

 

“The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets…”  Christopher Morley

 

I’ve always loved to ride my bike.  I’m a professional amateur.  I have all the bells and whistles, yet I just cruise the neighborhood.

My husband bought me my first adult bike fifteen years ago.  I love that old, green bike!  We’ve taken it to the beach and almost everyone in our family has ridden it at least once.  However,  time, stress and a few mishaps have taken its toll, not to mention that it needs new brakes.

Last year I purchased a fancy, light-weight, thin-tired, sleek-seated, lightening-fast, silver bike.  Then, my husband said I must have the padded biker shorts and loud printed shirt to go with.  Next, gloves were added  because these arthritic hands need the extra padding!

Truthfully, the padded shorts and gloves feel great, but when I get all decked out, I feel a little foolish, especially riding the one mile to our mailboxes.  Oh sure, we’ve taken longer rides and occasionally I ride to the HEB for a few lightweight items (sans the outfit), but still I am an amateur in professional clothing.

I do feel conspicuous in my gear, but what I really feel is exhilarated!  As I pedal through the neighborhood, I may look like a senior citizen in biker gear, pumping the brakes and weaving a bit; but inside, I’m riding like the wind!  I’m blazing new trails and I’m a good twenty-five years younger!
As you pass me by on the streets, don’t honk, just give me the “nod”.  That’s what we bikers do…we’re cool like that.

Life is like riding a bicycle..in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.  Albert Einstein

011

Posted in Aging process, Caring for others, Old Age, Uncategorized

Home

man-1050524_1280

It will happen to all of us, this aging process.  If we are ‘lucky’ enough, we will grow old and eventually need more care, possibly more care than our families can provide.  This is a part of life.

 

Perhaps, we are the ones making choices for our loved ones.  We are making decisions on where to live and how to be cared for.  “This is your new home,” we say.  

 

I see it in their eyes and feel it in the atmosphere; “This is not my home.” they think.  Oh, some people adjust, like Auntie Sue.  She was positive, grateful and kind no matter her circumstance; no matter where she was.  But it is hard for others.  It’s not familiar or comfortable…it doesn’t sound like home or smell like home.  “My heart is not here,” they think.  “I want to go home.”

 

I don’t have a response or even an alternative suggestion; I wish I did.  For it is not always possible to give our loved ones the answers they want.  So, we dig deep into our souls and bring out our bowels of compassion, love and care.  We remember the dignity of others.  We respect privacy and requests for certain things….familiar things.  We do the best we can.

 

Yes, it will happen to all of us, this aging process; if we are ‘lucky’.

 

Posted in Grandchildren, Grandmother, Uncategorized

Sam

dsc_0507

This story was written seven years ago upon the birth of my Grandson, Sam.

 

Sam.  Sam is on my mind.  Sam is my new Grandbaby and he is the absolute sweetest, most pure piece of God that I have ever seen.

I always doubted myself as a mother…wondering what, if anything, I was doing right and exactly how many things was I doing wrong? (the list continues)  But, now that I’m a Grandmother, I want the list to stop.

This is my opportunity to just “love”.  I don’t want to keep score, or make second guesses or lay awake at night in fear of doing “it” wrong.  I want this opportunity to let my daughter be herself and be the mother she was meant to be.  I want this chance to just love them…as they are, without criticisms, doubts or worry.  I only want acceptance, delight, gratitude, hugs, cookies and sweet dreams.

Do I know that life is always unpredictable?  Yes.  Should I be prepared for ups and downs and times that are so hard, that you think your heart will break?  Absolutely.  But, now I have Sam.  I know him.  I have smelled his sweet baby smell and breathed it in like a life-preserver.  I already love him and I look forward to our journey together.  Nannie and Sam.

 

Happy Birthday dear Sam!  The time passes too quickly…