Tuesday, December 31, 2013

splatter





Today I am grateful for discovery.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Sunday, December 29, 2013

play






You do realize we're just following them around and doing exactly what they tell us. Right?



Today I am grateful for our little leaders.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

blend




Today I am grateful for a rain, an excuse. For grey days, familiar music, late night calls. How plans change but remain and those other little why nots because it all feels the same.

Friday, December 27, 2013

warning


"Tastes like a cookie. Eats like a chip."


Cookies. Chips. Those were just gateway drugs.

when it's your love

It's a first or an unexpected or she needs to know if there is a website they can reference on the bid. The company is turning in a quote today and they want me as their photographer and oh shit I can't give you the blog.

Can I just send you some photos?

Yeah, that'll be fine.





And here we are at another junction of I didn't know where this was going, only that it was going so if I had to think we are somewhere else today then we were at this same time last year, that if we are marking this point in time as here comes another then I am going to say I am grateful for those times when it wasn't the easiest thing I could have done.

Pushing and being pushed through doubt only convinces.



Thursday, December 26, 2013

those we put on the stage

Don Monopoli



What I remember of the photo is less than the story I imagined around it. The child or children were blurred. He or they were running through a stack of red plastic cups. Maybe smiles. Surely because the story was a single dad who was welcoming his children home for the weekend and they saw the pyramid of red plastic cups when they walked in the door. Then he encouraged them to run through them and their weekend started and it was all what a great Dad which resulted in what a great guy which concluded in okay, that's enough.






I saw several movements in the past couple of years about the rights of single fathers and how they are given such bad reputations and I thought that is not how it works. It's not that I have anything against movements. I do realize there are many personal struggles of which I have not been involved, but I will say that when I see a guy spending time and playing with his children I have to check myself because my default is that I expect it from women. When a guy does it my heart swoons. Crazy, I know.




Today I am grateful for all those parents around me, and there are plenty of both genders, who simply take time to enjoy their children.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

gifted




My Mom gave me a piece of work from Jaime Winton Studio.




We exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, and it is the first item I lift from the bag I know will be filled with socks and a couple pair of pants and a bottle of Pinot and I stop and think how lovely, how nice to have a reminder and I tell my Mom a story.


It was last Saturday when a friend, her daughter and I were acting as door to door salespeople though both of us strongly believe in a person's right to only be disturbed by a knock on the front door if said person has invited guests or the knock comes from someone who has called beforehand. Or Domino's of course. For just that day we convinced ourselves we were working on behalf of greater good and duty though still it was not a comfortable situation for either of us. About halfway into our endeavor my friend knocked on a door which was opened by my great uncle, my maternal grandfather's brother, Uncle Jack. I had no idea he lived there although apparently he has done so now for thirty-five years.

It could not have been anymore than sixty seconds of watching as my friend explained to him why we were there and no more than sixty seconds more of him explaining how he agreed with us to the point he had no personal use for what the company offered but he, too, was in complete support because of what it could bring the community. And I just watched him and felt all warm and cozy and his nose and his eyes and his smile and how exquisitely kind he treated strangers at his door. No more than two minutes. I could have stood there quietly watching for many more.

My friend thanked him, wished him a Merry Christmas and I then stepped up to the door, took his hand and said, Uncle Jack.

Yes? He looked puzzled.

I am Shea. Billy's granddaughter. 

He laughed. We hugged and it wasn't even a minute more of a sweet little reunion and me asking how his granddaughter, Jaime, was and if he would be seeing her and her two beautiful girls for Christmas.





Mom smiles. She understands what it is like to see or talk with one of her Dad's two remaining brothers, how still you become when they speak or smile or laugh and how maybe, yes, it does feel well with your soul. That's it.




Today I am grateful for reminders and connections and my Mom who never fails to wow with a gift.



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

card for Sarah









Happy Birthday, Jesus.




Today I am grateful for the smile on that boy of mine's face and the safety of a soldier who for her first Christmas ever is stationed far away and the laughter of a friend who is working in a hospital on Christmas day. I am grateful to have some plans and some peace.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

the opposition



The football soccer field is on the way to the gym before the auditorium and since I am here and there are so many things happening and I'd just hate to think anything was lesser than another I stop.

Sixty photos of the team warming up but only one I really love. It is the look on her face, the way the light hits her. Fierce, focused. A few more photos and I'm off to a basketball game and a band concert.

The next day I publish twenty-five photos, this being my favorite.

Until a nice man suggests I may want to practice taking photos of our team rather than the opposing one.

Hm.



Today I am grateful for constant reminders that I need to slow down and lighten up and laugh 'cause  ohgoodgosh, that's funny.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013

traction




Lovely, I think.



Source: Luckyshirt




Today I am grateful to get back to work.

Friday, November 29, 2013

on being a better sister



I no longer open a cage to set my brother's animals free. I just sit and talk with them about all those things they could be doing rather than hunting some poor, defenseless rabbit. Then I walk home and prepare some venison chili.


Today I am grateful for a morning walk.

Thursday, November 28, 2013





A warm blanket from the dryer and nothing is lacking and it took some time to feel we had finally made it and more wasn't necessarily better and the void I felt when the anxiety left was to be expected but wasn't so words came to deny silence until I learned to dance in the be quiet.



For you and me a lovely story from Etgar Keret via Tin House.



Today I am grateful for a feast of family and friends and food.





Monday, November 25, 2013

spectator





Today I am grateful for time with the boy.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

consideration




He says, Maslow had it wrong. The top tier of the pyramid is power.

I think Maslow would have said that the need for power of one human over another human would be a result of a deficiency in one of the other levels of the pyramid.

He was wrong.

Okay. You overpowered me.







Today I am grateful for those who have and still do fight the battles of what we consider to be moral and good.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

on the map, all over the map





I just completed Malcolm Gladwell's new book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.


It's timely or so it seems because a week ago today I read an article in the Mississippi Business Journal which listed my hometown as one of the nine finalists in a competition of thirty-three which vied for optic fiber to be installed in their communities. The writer of the article did not even know we were a town. He listed us as a county in the north of the state. I laughed. This was an issue I was familiar with since for twenty years I lived in another area and when asked from where it was I came it was always assumed I meant the county since nobody had ever heard of the town.

But the Mississippi Business Journal? Now that was funny.

By Tuesday the state's paper wrote on an article on a little town of just 2,200 people who had wowed the fiber company by doubling the response per capita of any of the other thirty-two cities. The town nobody knew was a town was now on CNBC's website listed not as a county but as the town they are.

I stirred the pot and did the wave and a friend and I hugged and laughed and high fived and then agreed, We're on the map.



This week we're asking, Now what?



This is where I look at intention. The why is the most serious question and even when I answer it I have to analyze it's sincerity and the more important do I know what the hell I am saying. The pros, the cons, all the unknowns, do I trust those around me who tell me this is good.


A week of getting honest because before that this was about the future. This fiber thing was going to benefit our kids through education, all those beautiful things they could study on the internet, access to the world at the tips of their fingers. There were businesses in town who could not even access the internet. Selfishly I was hoping that fiber would push opportunity into my more remote area and provide me with more choice than satellite. We would all benefit.

But the kids. I had to go with the kids because well, that was about the future and increased opportunity  in a place that only recently, seemingly got put on a map.


So Jess. This is Jesse's hometown.


Bright eyes shining, songwriting, colors are more vivid, performs like her Daddy, energy which if we could harness we wouldn't have to worry about the oil. Jess.




Last night I took her to the Bluegrass Hall. According to Mom's Kindle I had about an hour remaining on Gladwell's book. The house band wasn't playing. Jesse found some kids with whom she wanted to play so I sat in the car and completed the read. At 9:15 she jumped in the car obviously amped on cupcakes and sweet tea.

Are we going home now?

Yep, I had finished the book and was still focused on what it meant to be David in the Goliath story, about U curves on graphs and basketball teams who do full court presses and decisions about how and what and why and unknown futures.

Did you have fun? I asked.

AuntSheatherewasthisdogandhewasscary.

A scary dog?

Yes. And one of the boys threw ice at him and he growled like this, she did her best impression of scary dog snarling and growling.

Jess, you're not scared of a dog. Why where y'all harassing him?

I wasn't. Itwasthatboy. LookLookthereheis, theresthedog, theresthedog, she almost jumped out of her seat and I was all of sudden concerned she didn't have her seatbelt on and that it was dark and I had to concentrate on driving and seeing where I was going and I said sternly, Calm down. Do you have your seatbelt on? I'm trying to drive. It's just a dog, Jess.

She said nothing. In total silence she sat back in her seat.

Do you understand? I was still driving, keeping my eyes on the gravel road. The car was dark and still I heard nothing. I stopped, turned on the interior light. She was looking straight ahead. Jesse, you answer a question when I ask you something. It is rude to ignore me. Do you understand?

I nodded, she said.


Frustrated I turned off the light. She was slumped and asleep within minutes and I had the rest of the ride home to consider the read, the opportunity for a small town and a future and how all those thoughts had kept me from being present in a moment that I actually had with a kid.

And that's when my own Mom's voice echoed in my head, Balance, child. Balance.




Today I am grateful for the opportunity to be present in the moment even when I miss it because missing it shows me how valuable it was.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

no escape needed



Today I am grateful for a place with no signal, where people have a desire to study the land, when beyond common sense seems frivolous and how nice being settled is.



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

student photograph






Today I am grateful for naps.  

And coffee. Did I mention naps?  

 I like naps and coffee.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

zombie bride



She's nine years old and I can't help but smile when I think about the time at least one other person in this child's life took to talk and plan and add all those finishing touches on what she decided she wanted to be that day.

Beautiful, I think.




Today I am grateful for people who take the time to create with a child.



Thursday, October 31, 2013

like a bulldog hugging a hound



If there was any reason to be a writer and to not be a writer it is because of people like this in places like these who say to you, I can't believe this is happening to me. I just can't believe it.

For me it is the crucial fight or flight, keep it together or crumble, because this guy can't imagine that anything he's been doing in his life would be something to write about, but what he's been doing has been important to his family, his community and his employer.

So important there will be a book filled with some of the things he has said and illustrated by the people who have come to depend on him.



Not just because he comes in and does his job everyday with a smile on his face. It would be enough if you saw the property he maintained, that if he is not doing this he is doing that and if you want an interview he says, Just come get me, but even for that he won't sit.

He'll stand and talk to you.




And you'll find out why people want to document and keep Mr. Rogers' view on things because you'll see it and hear it and you'll know how important this is.


More to come, but first I must sit down and write an article on the who and why in five hundred words of doing the best I can.


Today I am grateful to be part of something which honors this man.


spinning



 Clay County, AL  Acrylic by Bethanne Hill
Meridian Museum of Art 2003 Best of Show



Today I am grateful for perspective.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

patience








Sometimes I think practicing patience for all those things yet unseen, for how we think it should be, is a way of denying what is right in front of us, for how perfect this moment is. If ever there was a reason to carry a camera it would be as a reminder there was no need for patience.

Unless, of course, you need food from these, says Joachim de Posada.



Today I am grateful for now, for how it teaches me.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

pleasantly benign


photographed by student




Did you know that time stops at the event horizon of something falling into a black hole?

No. I did not know that.

Well, it's true.

Huh. I was just eating a bowl of stew and well, thank you. That's exactly what I needed to know.

Where does all that information go?

Um. 

Hawking says it's lost.

Okay.

.........

.........

Well, I guess I'll get back to my stew now. Bye.

Bye.








The phone rings.



Hello.

Time does not stop at the event horizon of something falling into a black hole.

I think I am going to start using "event horizon" in everyday conversation.

It just appears to stop because of light.

How do you use this information in your life?

I don't know.

You're reading Hawking's book because of that woman.

Yes. I don't understand anything about black holes.

Makes sense.





Today I am grateful for these friends in my life.


Monday, October 28, 2013

distance



Today I am grateful to know we can still be together and be alone. Sometimes my silence was the best gift I could give you and exactly what you needed in that moment.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

notes








Today I am grateful for the teachers of this world.

Friday, October 25, 2013

embracing mediocrity







Darling, people just adore mediocrity, she says in that slow deep South, sit on the porch and prolong the syllables till the sun does down when you wonder if she's talking to you or she just learned a new word and likes to listen to herself use it to put people down.




I wonder how many times I've been mediocre in my life and if I spent however many remaining years I had left I could come up with the exact number and, if so, if the counting could be the one thing I was not mediocre at.




Today I am grateful to understand I can always improve and maybe today I can be a better human and who knows about the next and goodgosh a whole year from now and wow, we could have potential we have yet to unwrap.



Thursday, October 24, 2013

who we go to for the solution



He had a beautiful problem last week. A stampede of sorts, a mob of third, fourth and fifth graders who were demanding their book, the one they earned through reading and math and attendance. These kids, they were requesting their principal by name. 

Where's Mr. Kelley? I want my book.


He has given out over five hundred just this year.




These are the problem solvers of our world. They stand at a front door and greet our children into what they consider is their building which is housing their teachers who are teaching their students.

None of these people went into teaching and administration to make millions of dollars, though if you listen to their philosophies they sound like they come from the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. And if you think about it then it doesn't take you long to understand this is the most important company we have in this country.


I would obviously crumble under such responsibility, but these people, they show up early, stay late, lead with a decisiveness that makes you wonder, Can you seriously be that sure of yourself?

The answer is yes. Yes, they can and they are and they have to be because each one of these people understands the weight of the world they are carrying.


Back in the day getting called into the principal's office was not necessarily a good thing, but now it seems seeing the principal may mean you're getting a pat on the back or a free book.





This month is National Principal Month so if you, like me, didn't realize that until now then you still have a week to go shake the hands of those people who are leading, building, directing, creating, supporting, I can't imagine when they would ever sleep, a future within our children.




Today I am grateful for those that lead because they care, and, as a result, come up with beautiful problems to have.



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

writer

Here.

oasis



This morning seems as good as any to remember that day last week when it was one in the afternoon and you stopped by a place because you knew you were supposed to stop there and this was as good a time as any.

And you knew when you first heard the word multi-task it was time for long term care insurance because your brain is programmed to focus on one particular thing until it not longer exists.

So you had forgotten to eat.

That place where you stopped offered you a peanut butter sandwich and a seat and a conversation and thus a distraction from that one thing which had taken over your brain.

And you never knew a peanut butter sandwich could taste so great.




Today I am grateful for those spaces and people and lovely little moments in this world which offer us exactly what we didn't even know we needed. That day it was as simple as a peanut butter sandwich.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

those that do





It was always the case in other jobs that I would jump into a position, tear it apart, bring all those preconceived notions of I knew best. Part belief, part hoping you believed and that would make it so.

This one is different.


Here I am surrounded by people who make my own obsessions look like casual hobbies. This is where I am to tell you what those people are doing, and let me tell you, I've only had a week on this job and well, we're going to take this one slow because of all the ways we can complain about our educational system I think it is important to note there are some truly remarkable people doing highly creative work.


If what you were thinking is our children are not test scores then welcome to the boat.
For some teachers, administrators and parents that ship sailed a long time ago.



Today I am grateful for these people. I mean, seriously. You'll see.