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That’s The Spirit

Slop.

A spoonful of potato hits the plate with a wallop and a little spec of mash lands on the hand holding it.  Instead of shuffling on like most, he pauses, making eye contact.  I steel myself, waiting for a curse word or a dirty look but all I see is empathy.

It’s the last place I want to be and if I hadn’t already committed, I’d be home, covers over my head.

“Bad day?” he asks, his voice soft, but hoarse.

“I’m sorry,” I apologize.  “I didn’t meant to…”

“No big deal.” he shrugs.  “I’ve had worse.”  His smile, as he moves on, leaves me with goose bumps.

“Yes, please.”  The next one says as I turn away from the man with the smile.  Her toothy grin, oily bob and blackened fingernails win her an extra scoop.

“Oh, thank you!” she squeals, as though I’ve just given her a hundred dollar bill.

My head throbs and pain stabs at my sinuses as I wonder which would be more disgusting; wiping my dripping nose with my cuff or pulling out the last damp, crumpled Kleenex I’d tucked into my sleeve.

There’s a lull in the line and I stand behind my steaming tray, looking out at the fifty round tables we had spent the morning setting up.  I find it alarming that all are full.

My toothy friend sits at the one closest, chuckling and chatting with whomever she can engage, her worn out red coat contrasting with her dark hair but matching her cheeks, her potato-covered tongue on display as she laughs.

They are all oohing and ahhing over the stockings we’d filled and placed at each setting; holding up the toothbrushes, bath beads and chocolates, hooting at the decks of cards and bags of mints.

Boom, boom, boom.  I’m tempted to leave my post to grab some aspirin, but the hoards are headed my way.  The warming lamps hover over the food, making me sweat and I start to feel very claustrophobic.

“Just a little, please.” The tiny girl in front of me requests. “I can’t eat very much and I’m not allowed to waste.”

She’s only about five and the sleeves of her shiny dress are completely tattered.  Her chin is just above table level and her big, gold eyes are like dollops of honey suspended over my shiny, silver tray.

“Yeah,” her dad confirms.  “Not too much for her.  Leave the rest of her portion for someone else.”

“How about you?” I ask.

“Oh, I’ll take my fair share.” He says, looking down.  I feel his shame.

“I meant, would you like the rest of her portion?” I shrug, trying to be nonchalant.

“Well, if…” he continues to look down, head hanging like a scorned pup.

Very gently, I place a double helping next to his peas.

“Anybody asks,” I offer, “you send them my way.”

He finally looks up and I can see that his eyes are an older, much more trampled version of his girl’s.  He too, smiles a smile that leaves me reeling.

After about twenty more servings, there’s another break.  I really am desperate for some relief.  My headache has turned into a machete attack and my nose is about to explode over the entire table.

I slide two fingers into my cuff and pull out the mutilated tissue.  Cupping it against my palm, I bring it up to my nose but it’s no use.  There’s more crumple than cotton.  Embarrassed, I try to stuff it back under my sleeve, unnoticed.

Plates are clamoring and I realize someone has cleared my tray away.  That’s my cue to get out on the floor and start helping clean up.

Coffee and tea is being served and everyone’s holding their cup with both hands, aware it may be the last warmth they feel until, well, who knows when.

I make my way around the room, the blinking Christmas lights taunting my overly sensitive eyes, while I push the bus cart loaded with well-used tableware.

As I reach out for yet another empty plate, a familiar finger brushes mine.

“I’m sorry.  I know I’m not supposed to touch you,” he says, “but I thought you might need these.”

I look up from the tan and weathered hand and see his forgiving face once again.  He’s holding out a small packet of Kleenex, the same one I’d placed in his stocking this morning.

I did need them.  I needed the Kleenex, I needed the compassion and I needed these people.

I was ignorant for being surprised that every seat was spoken for, naïve for being shocked that they wanted no more than their fair share, but mostly, I was foolish for thinking that this was the last place I wanted to be.

Give hands 3

Holding Hands

I remember hands.

When I think of someone I haven’t seen for a long time. Or someone I will never see again. I see their hands. My mind pictures the shape of their nails. The length of their fingers. Slender. Wide. Rounded or squared. The curve of their wrist. The gestures they made.

Unique. Personal.

But they change. Our hands.

Fingers bend with an arthritic curve. Skin tells of our days in the sun. Scars. Lines. Creases. Spots. Yes. They change. And yet, there’d be no mistaking them. We would still know them anywhere. And to whom they belonged.

And that’s true for us. We bend. Curve. Digress. Succeed.

Scar. Fail. Fall. Fly. Hurt. Heal.

And change.

Because nothing ever stays the same. Even if it seems so. Not our hands. Not us.

But we will always reach for the familiar. Seek the uniqueness. Strive to see the recognizable.

The memorable. The unforgettable.

We’ll always look for what we understand. We will always know each other. Even through continuous change. Because despite sometimes believing we want things to stay the same, we thrive on growth. Diversity.

Spice.

The things that make us look closer. Use our minds. Feel. Find. Connect.

The things that give us a hand…to hold on.

AlanaHanad

I really don’t watch that much TV so ignore the remote and focus on the fact that I was brave enough to post this extreme close-up of my unmanicured mitt. It was a spontaneous shot. ;0)

Fortress

Autumns, roses, loves, leaves. Leavings and losings. Moons, stars, sorrows, souls. Forevers and goodbyes.

Fine webs spun off the tattered edge of a torn heart.

Broken

Bleeding

Beautiful

Pain. Ache. Loneliness. Things that make it hard to breathe. Things that make it easy to cry.

Things that turn on the light before we reach the switch.

The wishes we shouldn’t make. The things we don’t know we want. Endings leaving happiness to interpretation. Beginnings making unhappiness clear. The hope that turns the page. The rock that keeps us anchored. The robe that makes us feel safe while we dream.

The pocket that carries us.

Every song worth hearing. Every story worth reading. Has these. And they are the things that hold us.

While we listen.

IMG_8143

Killyleagh Castle, Co Down, NI (Photo credit: Me)

Wild Blue

I’m crazy.

 

I say this with a sigh, so you get a feel for where I’m at. Oh, I may try and pass it off as Hazy, but no. There’s no doubt in my mind I’m certifiably nuts.

 

And sometimes I forget to tap into that. To use it to my advantage.

 

Because it works for people like me. People with a creative inkling. So does a little shot of something strong and throat-blazing first thing in the morning, although I’m holding off on going that route just yet.

 

But I have been pondering this blog lately. Wondering what its really about. And I don’t mean the content. Because honestly no one ever truly knows what the hell I’m rambling on about. Including me, most of the time.

 

And because of that, my sentiments will mean something different. And serve a different purpose. To whomever who reads it. Which I like to believe is a good thing.

 

No, what I mean is. Why am I doing it? At the end of the day, it doesn’t seem it’s getting me any closer to this “making it” thing I hear people referring to. And I’m not using it to get ahead. Or herd myself any closer to what I want to be when I grow up.

 

So yeah. Just when I was thinking the sky was falling—creative people have a tendency towards the fatalistic—I received what I feel compares to a loved one at the finish line cheering me on. Just as I’m about to give up on completing the last grueling marathon mile…

 

It was a morning text.

 

Right after a restless night’s sleep. And I honestly couldn’t have dreamed up anything better than what it said. That I’m talented. And write beautifully. I’m prophetic and a gift! And that I should publish my posts into a book.

 

Now, I know that had I not received that message, I’d still be here, my friends. I know because this blog helps me. And I can only hope it does the same for you. Writing is my passion. And we know there’s no stopping what the heart wants. The heart’s a stubborn bugger, don’t you know.

 

I simply need to bring the scarecrows in off the fields. Shake the birds from their nests. And trust that even though it’s hidden from my site, there is a wild blue over yonder.

 

And trust me. Believing it’s there, even though I can sometimes barely see it through the clouds, is like finding a secret tenner in the glove box just when I thought I’d used my last penny.

 

Boom.

Wildblue.jpg

County Down, Northern Ireland

 

 

 

 

Dear Life

Did I mention we have pups?

 

Ohhh yes. We sure do. Well, they’re pups bordering on adulthood. But when we got them back in October 2016, they were wild and bouncy babes.

 

And because of them, all kinds of things are happening.

 

They are mini magicians. These doggies. They’ve magic’d our entire carpet into one big potty. And all of a sudden, our kitchen table seems to be about two inches closer to the ground.

 

Yes, they are as cute as all get out, but me oh my, are they a handful.

 

Times two.

 

And as I say, they’re making things happen.

 

We are currently in the process of replacing the carpet in question. Which is, of course, a very welcome change of scene. But as all updates and renovations do, one thing has led to another and we are now replacing the entire downstairs flooring.

 

The stairs.

 

And the landing.

 

And doing so, has prompted us to hire an 18 foot long skip to clear out the last 18 years of our life in this house. One foot for every year. A somewhat eerie coincidence. Don’t you think? (Okay now…where’s my little pensive emoji guy)

 

And as I’m sure you know, the arduous task of clearing out. Unburdening. Is both entirely painful and hugely liberating. But to make it especially challenging, I have apparently kept every single card

 

ever

 

given

 

to

 

me.

 

Not to mention every single card I have ever given to my children. And my husband. And I sat there in the driveway, on a little stool beside the skip, and read through…

 

every

 

single

 

one.

 

It took days. And it was lovely. Tucked inside every card was a memory that made me smile. Things I thought I’d lost. Photos that melted my heart. Sentiments that had me in tears. Events I’d forgotten.

 

And some that I will never forget for as long as I live.

 

And after reading. Deep breath. Eyes closed. Surrounded by the ones who’d sent them. I frisbeed each of them into the dumpster’s abyss. Not the people, you silly monkey. The cards.

 

And it’s okay.

 

I’ll be okay.

 

Because once they’d disappeared. In amongst the trash. And the treasures. I looked around. And everyone…all who’d sent me the special somethings that are now in the bin…are still here.

 

In my mind. My heart. And in my soul. Because what matters will always dig its nails in. Cling to the side. Refuse to fall away. Or be lost in the darkness of a skip.

 

So we can hang on for dear life.

 

Or we can let go.

 

And watch for the real magic.

 

Seeing what sticks around once the content in the bin is long gone.

IMG_2813

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blow

When I was young, I read all the fairytales. The pretty ones. The sparkly ones. The dark. And the doomful.

 

Most of us did, right?

 

But I wonder…did they have the same effect on everyone else? (If I were feeling silly, I’d insert that little guy here…the one with his finger and thumb resting on his chin. And a pensive look on his little face. (Ah, go on. He’s one of my favorites)

thinking-face

Stories like Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood. Sleeping Beauty. And The Three Little Pigs.

 

Ohhh yes. I slurped that sinister stuff up like it was flowing from a big huge straw.

 

And it’s strange. Because I’m a realist in most areas of my life. Yet somehow, I’m gullible in this one regard. Probably because I’m a sucker for a great story.

 

I want to believe. Buy in. Exist amongst enchanting pages. And nestle safely between their protective covers. But hey. Only if there’s a good bricklayer about to keep the wolves at bay…I wouldn’t chance landing over in Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and HAM.

 

Anyway, back to my point. And it’s this. As a young girl, I believed in fairy tales.

 

I believed I could wish upon a star.

 

Or a birthday candle.

 

Or a dandelion.

 

And that it would come true. My wish. Whatever it was.

 

And I want that back. My faith. My belief. My gullibility. My trust in the process.

 

That if I dare to wish. Take the leap. And drink from the fountain. That it’ll pay off. That I won’t just be left holding a smoldering wick and a wilting stem.

 

That I can erect my own fairy tale.

 

That I can get back what I lost when I was young.

 

But I need you to believe with me…

 

So are you ready?

 

Okay now…

1

2

3

Blow…

Wish

Photo taken at Nendrum Castle Lookout, Co Down, NI

 

Right Here

Memories are fickle things.

They try so hard to keep us happy. And other times, are set on breaking us. Into the tiny little crumbs we find in the seams of our pockets.

Remember those?

Memories are illusionists. And they are the boss. They can have us staring off into the star-studded sky. Cue the dopey grin. And in one fell swoop. Taking a swipe at tears we swiftly find kerplunking into the darkness of our coffee cups.

But whatever the case—sad or happy—memories are invaluable. Irreplacable.

And we’re glad of them, aren’t we.

Always looking to make more. Searching for the next chance. The next stolen moment.

And while that’s okay—it is, after all, what keeps us going—it’s important to relish in the ones that already exist. Invite them in. Spend time. Offer them a teacake. Make them feel special.

Wanted

Needed

Important

And loved

Because sometimes. When we’re busy searching for the next best thing.

We forget.

That we can just put our hands in our pockets. And drag our fingers through those unexpected, joyful and delectable little tidbits. Relish their different shapes and sizes. And say…

“I’ve got everything I need right here.”

TunnocksTeacake

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