A Name.

A name.

We all have one.

It’s what identifies us to the world. Usually, it’s a name you were given at birth. A name that was picked out because of its sound or passing a family members name down. In extremely rare cases, like this, you get to name the personality.

Sassy was born with a name. There wasn’t anything wrong with the name, but a little over a year ago, she asked me for a new one. Knowing her case was headed for adoption, I asked her what she wanted her name to be. At that time, her best idea for a name was “Princess”. I thought about the proposition for a while and came up with three names that I thought best suited her and her personality. She picked her first name without hesitation and has never looked back. Her new first name is as sassy and boisterous as she is. Stella.

Her middle name was no question. I knew I wanted her to have a family name. Once her little personality started to really shine, there was no doubt which grandmother’s namesake she was. Frances Alma Blackwell was one of those women that could cut you down and bless your heart in the same sentence.

She had more spunk in her 90’s than I’ve had in my entire life. She drove everywhere like she was a getaway driver for some sort of terrible crime. I actually saw her hub cap  roll across someone’s front yard from her hitting a speed bump. She told me I was hallucinating.

She was as stubborn as the day is long, and as mean as a snake if she needed to be. She survived losing her husband and son. I’m telling you this woman was as tough as cast iron. As strong as she was, she loved like it was her mission on this Earth. All of us knew how much she loved us.

Nanny was not my biological grandmother. Her son that she lost, was my brother’s dad. When my mother remarried, and found out she was pregnant with me, Nanny was the first person she called. Nanny was more excited about my arrival, than a millennial on Iphone release day. We always had a very special bond, her and I. She would have loved Stella to the ends of the Earth and back.

Nanny was one of those homemade candy making southern grandmothers. Her fudge is making me salivate right now just writing about it. You’re not supposed to make divinity when it rains, she didn’t care. It always turned out perfect. She was like a candy wizard. I loved visiting her on candy making days, when you hugged her she just smelled like butter and sugar. It was glorious. That’s still the memory I go back to anytime I melt butter.

I think the first time I compared Stella to Nanny, was one of the first few months she was with me. Stella was eating, so very slow. So very very slow. The one joke you could always count on being made at Christmas, was something about Nanny’s eating. That woman was the slowest eater on God’s green Earth. When I was about 10 or 11, I called her the day before and asked her to start eating at breakfast. To this day, when Stella takes 4 hours to eat a meal, I start calling her Frances. Stella has several times a day, that I will just stop and laugh and say “Ok Frances” because whatever she just did was 100% Nanny.

There is no other name I could imagine my baby girl having. She is named after the toughest, sassiest, funniest, woman I’ve ever known. That is saying a lot since our family seems to produce extraordinary women. But what’s even more than that, Nanny and I had a bond that was never based on blood or biology, just indomitable love.

Pretty perfect naming story if you ask me, or Stella Frances.

 

 

Share the Love

Ok, so in order to share the love, I’m going to share of the blogs and posts that I love. Any post that can make me actually laugh out loud or become emotionally involved in the story, has my attention.

This first blog is one I always look forward to reading. It’s not often you get to hear from the view-point of an excited father to be. Jose’s writing is raw, hysterical, and endearing. You won’t regret giving Fatherhood Confidential a look.

https://fatherhoodconfidential.com/

The next blog post is from Jonathan at Strange Codex. His writing is brilliant, covering a little bit of everything. He writes in a way that lets you relate,  and just draws you in. Plus, this post is about wine, do I really need to say anything else?

https://strangecodex.wordpress.com/2017/11/17/the-sweet-spot/

This last blog is from Village Thirty One. This blog gives a glimpse into mental health, day-to-day life, and beautiful random thoughts. He has a fantastic writing style and use of vocabulary. Definitely give this blog a view!

https://villagethirtyone.wordpress.com/

Happy Reading!

 

An Open Letter to Coffee

Dear Coffee,

Every morning, through sleepy eyes, and an awakened daze, I see you waiting patiently on the counter. I see you waiting to give me that breath of life that transforms me from a sleepy zombie to a high functioning tired mom.

I smell you, brewing. It’s your way of reassuring me, with that silent “I got you”. Such dependability. Such love. I hear the liquid slosh against my coffee mug like an applause for making it this far without caffeine. A little reminder that we’re almost together again.

Some mornings, I don’t even let you cool down before my first sip, burnt taste buds will heal. I feel the hot liquid warming up my whole body like a giant coffee bear hug. If you’re really quiet, this is when you can hear my neurons start to fire, and the life to slowly start flowing back into me.

I don’t mix in things like cream or sugar, you are perfect enough just the way you are. Plus, that’s just less room for coffee. I don’t care if you blacken my teeth and rot my stomach, I love you unconditionally.

Anytime I need you, I can find you. You are always there waiting to kick-start my neurological and circulatory systems. You make me so happy sometimes I even buy the person’s coffee behind me in line.

The first webcam was used to watch a coffee pot, so the researchers at Cambridge could monitor the coffee situation from their desks. That’s lazy ingenuity at its finest. You’ve been loved far longer than you know.

Doctors are now publishing articles about the countless benefits of coffee. Apparently, besides being the best all around motivator, coffee also helps protect against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s, liver disease, and helps circulation. Some are even saying it can increase a person’s lifespan.

Coffee, you are my every day hero. And I just want to say, I love you too, coffee. I love you too.

 

The Little Things

The little things. You hear people talk about how “it’s the little things that matter” all the time. But what does that really mean? Since Kent and I have been together, I finally figured out what that means.

When you’re in a relationship, it’s easy to get complacent, comfortable, lazy. You know you love each other, so that’s good enough right? Maybe. For some people. Kent still makes the grand gestures of unplanned flowers and gifts, but the small daily things are money!

So what do I mean?

I’m talking about the small things that help make your day easier, because someone wanted to take the load off. Kent knows I have crazy amounts of anxiety, so he probably does a lot of this to tame the crazy. Let’s just be honest!

If he sees I haven’t done it yet, he’ll get my coffee ready for my drive to work in the mornings. He’ll help walk Sassy out to the car because my hands are usually full. He reminds me I’m beautiful daily. He keeps a secret kit kat stash when I need a pick me up. He finds little ways everyday to make my life easier, and me happier. Does he have to? No. He does all of this because he loves me, and we’re a team.

So why am I rambling on bragging about not dating a loser? Because I’m normally with the loser. I used to settle for less than I deserve. I used to think partially happy was good enough. IT’S NOT. Wait for person that wakes up every morning wondering what they can do to make your day great, and vice versa. That kind of love won’t be taken down easily.

Don’t settle for less than the little things. You deserve it.

A Musical Experience

As a 30 something year old mom with a full-time job, I don’t go out much. Going out involves having to look presentable to the general public, and most days I’m just really not into that. Down time to me, is when I sit down on the couch, after the tiny human is in bed, and pretend I’m relaxing. I do however LOVE going to shows. I cash in all of my babysitting chips about once a month and go see amazing music. When she’s a little older she’ll be going too, she’s a hardcore Moon Taxi and moe. fan.

I was lucky enough to find a man who shares my love of music, he might even have me beat a little. On our date nights, you can find us shaking a tail feather under the stage lights. Finding someone to share your favorite experiences with is indescribably amazing. We have witnessed musical history together, like Ray LaMontagne playing his entire Ouroboros album with My Morning Jacket on his last tour. That’s something that will never be able to be witnessed again. And collaborations that won’t happen anywhere other than a festival, like Gov’t Mule with Ann Wilson or wait for it… Phil Lesh, David Shaw, and moe. together jamming to “Ophelia”. I believe one of my favorite memories though, was making our way to the stage front at Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville just as it started to pour down rain at the Umphrey’s McGee show. They closed the show a few minutes later with Zeppelin’s “Fool in the Rain”.

We recently went to LOCK’N music festival in Arrington, Virginia and it was hands down, the most incredible musical experience I’ve had. The festival was extremely well-organized, planned out, and executed. The line-up was insane, and the weather was perfection. But the best part, was the people. Thousands of dirty hippies all in one spot spreading that peace and love. We met boatloads of people, and I don’t have a single bad thing to say about any of them. Everywhere we went we were greeted with a smile and introduction. It was like the South on steroids.

I didn’t put on make-up or wash my hair with more than dry shampoo for 4 days, but yet just about every time I walked around someone was commenting on how much they liked my braid or the other weird thing I did with my hair. That level of compliment when you assume you look like a disaster survivor, can really boost some self-esteem.

I also have a slight obsession with Shakedown Street. Most of your bigger festivals and weekend shows will have a vendor section lovingly referred to as Shakedown Street. My favorite vendor is Culture Cross. They sell geode and gemstone jewelry. A large portion of their proceeds goes towards rebuilding a music and art school in Cambodia. If you see me wearing a necklace, this is where it came from.

This is probably why I love going to shows so much, it’s not just about the music, it’s the whole experience, the atmosphere, the vibe. Some of the venues we’ve been to have been just as beautiful as the music. We recently saw a Gov’t Mule show in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Red Butte Amphitheater, if you weren’t looking at the stage you could just stare at the Wasatch Mountains. Some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen have been at outdoor shows.

Find someone who sings the song your soul loves, and then dance to it with them. I’ll be experiencing my first show at the Ryman in Nashville in a few weeks, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. I can only hope that music never stops.

 

Shine

When disaster strikes, we look for the good, we look for the helpers. We need something to make us feel comfort. After the recent hurricanes, there was so much devastation, loss, and heartbreak. There were also extraordinary acts of overwhelming kindness. There were people who drove double digit hours with their boats in tow to help find survivors, people delivering food on canoes, people filling shopping carts with supplies and donating them, and hundreds of other amazing acts. After the tragedy in Las Vegas, you saw people risking their own lives to protect strangers, to help the injured. One man built 58 crosses and drove them across county to display them for the victims. These ordinary individuals became extraordinary by letting their lights shine.

Society, as a whole today, is unsettling to say the least, but in those hours of need we still rise to the occasion. That’s the thing about darkness though, no matter how dark it gets, the teeny tiniest speck of light can still be seen.  Each one of us has that light inside us. Can you imagine what the world would look like if everyone was able to shine their light?

There’s no need to wait for the next headline in the news, you can shine your light everyday. It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to be recognized or remembered. The more positivity you put out in the world the more there is to wash out the negative.

  • Buy the person’s meal behind you in the drive-thru
  • Hold the door for someone
  • Give a compliment
  • Donate things you no longer need
  • Leave a generous tip
  • Post encouraging sticky notes on your co-workers station
  • Leave a box of goodies in your mailbox for the mailman
  • Stop to talk to a homeless person
  • Be encouraging when you hear negativity

When people encounter positivity they generally want to pay it forward, that’s more tiny specks of light. How bright are you going to let your light shine today?

There are angels among us, be one!