She’s That Neighbor

When she told me she was moving, I was happy for her, but sad for me. We didn’t have to see one another everyday to know we had each other’s back. She was my neighbor.

When we had the snow and ice storm earlier this year, she texted me for a Chemex filter. I placed some in a ziplock baggie, and made my way through the snow to her back door. I loved the fact that with everything we could run out of, the Chemex was a priority.

That day confirmed, she’s that neighbor.

I’ve written about ‘M’ before in Just Say Yes and that Blogpost was written through inspiration from her. I can’t fault her for moving because she went back home to be near family, and it’s a joyous occasion when we know where home is. Thursday was my birthday and she revealed herself in a magical way.

I noticed a car parked in front of my house. A woman stepped into the yard smiling brightly, and holding a bouquet of flowers. I stepped outside to meet her and she asked, “Are you Barb?” I nodded my head in agreement, not fully certain what was going on. She strolled down the path to stand in front of me, held out the bouquet and said, “Happy Birthday from M!”

She remembered my birthday and asked a friend to bring flowers! I felt her presence in that moment. Today, she lives in Kentucky, but we chat every week. I believe we’re closer now than when she lived behind me, but that’s how it happens. People like her move into your heart, not just your hood.

Now, she’s in a new neighborhood where she’ll make new friends and soon they’ll discover. Not only is she a forever friend, she’s that neighbor.

Sane and Sober

The other day I told a friend, “The only thing keeping me sane right now is reading and writing.” I’m still utilizing the Morning Pages, but have stopped beating myself up for not filling up three pages. There’s so much going on with my jobs right now, I don’t have the luxury of spending time on three, but one page gets me grounded.

This time of year I always think about sobriety. My sober birthday is in November, but a couple of months before it arrives the mind starts playing tricks. The mind of an alcoholic will say, “After 23 years, surely you have this under control and can have one drink.” Fortunately, I’m stubborn enough to ignore those thoughts.

One thing I know about staying sane and sober is you need community, because it’s not a ‘go it alone’ lifestyle. I’m plugged into several online communities through work, but the one that holds my heart the most is my neighborhood. That simple habit of walking to the end of the street refreshes my soul.

I wouldn’t be living this life I love if I was still drinking. Not even certain I’d still be alive. If I was to have a similar conversation with my friend today I would elaborate with, “Walking, reading, writing and my relationship with God is keeping me sane and sober.

Calm Amid the Chaos

In Fire and Rain I was on a mission to find the perfect bench for the firepit area. The bench purchase was a little outside my comfort zone, but I wanted to enhance the sanctuary vibe encompassed by the yard. Well…Tada!

Once the bench was in place, I wanted a little table, or outdoor pouf to sit between the chair and bench. This is the worst time of year to find outdoor furniture, but I drove to all my favorite stores to see my options. Instead of furniture I saw stacks of unopened boxes of Christmas trees. 😮

The table in the photo was at Target, in the Magnolia section with no price tag. (There’s 3 things right there that scare my wallet.) I found an employee to scan it for me, and when she told me the price, I laughed out loud, and exited the store. The next morning the table was still on my mind, but I continued to Google ‘outdoor side table’. I saw one at Urban Outfitters that looked similar, but with shipping it would cost more than the one at Target, so I followed my heart back to Target and gave the table a home.

This entire process brought up the thought of ‘what a year can do’. There’s a noticeable difference in what the yard looks like now compared to last year, but it took an entire year to get it here. We want immediate change, but lasting change occurs gradually over time. I wouldn’t have made these furniture choices a year ago, but I’ve been pondering the possibilities for months. It’s a foundational start, but more time will pass before it’s complete.


I don’t invite people to my home very often, but this year I want them to feel invited in. This space was created to connect and soak up some calm amid the chaos.


Here’s all of the posts about creating spaces:

Wide Open Spaces, Fire and Rain, In My Corner, and Spaces to Grow.


Fire and Rain

I cleaned up the firepit area and ordered curved, metal benches for seating. They were lost during shipment and never arrived. I received a refund for the benches and chalked it up to, God has a better plan, once again!

I’m still looking at benches, but in the meantime, I planted a ground cover around half of the pit. When it rains it gets muddy, so the ground cover is taking root and starting to spread. A few days ago, I noticed something while watering with the rain head. If I start at the top, the water cascades around the half circle and they water one another.

I purchased the fire pit two years ago and you can read about it here. Watering the ground cover was a reminder of the vision I have for creating this space. To sit around this fiery pit with whoever needs watering. Whether it’s a neighbor walking by I’ve never met, or a friend I’ve known for years, we can gather here to refresh.

The meme used as the feature photo in this post was published in the Fearless Mastery FB page. The people in that group are called Firestarter’s who continually light their lives on fire. I help manage the page for Zen Habits, and these souls encourage one another in a manner which mimics fanning each other’s flame.

It’s exciting to surround ourselves with the Firestarter’s of life, but every so often even the fire is required to sit with the rain.

The Perfect Cup

I’ve drank some sad coffee this week, and it was of my own making. One morning I made a cup of instant just to use the frother, and it was too strong. I misjudged the balance between the oat milk and grinds.

I moved on to the French Press, thinking I wouldn’t get it wrong, but there again it was bloody awful. I didn’t weigh the grinds and just took a wild guess, before placing them in the press. There was not enough grinds for the amount of water heated, so it poured out and resembled muddy water.

I had all the tools at my disposal for good coffee, and had received beans from three different coffee roasters. My daughter walked by the coffee bar and asked, “You got enough coffee?” My response was, “Yes my darling I’m trying to decide which one I like best, and have it narrowed down to two.”

This one resonates at the moment considering all the rude boys I’ve encountered while learning to date again.

Wild Gift Coffee, Austin, TX.

By Wednesday, I needed to savor a really good cup of coffee. This is when we go back to what we know, and I know the dripper will produce the perfect cup. I chose a cup from the coffee bar and measured the grinds and water specifically for that cup. That first sip was soothing and everything running through my mind for the day ahead melted away, as I embraced a moment of bliss.

It took constant practice to make what I classify as the perfect cup. I can’t control every part of my day, but I can control how it begins, and every step can lead to a sad cup or a perfect cup. Make it a priority and choose the perfect cup.

More to Say

It was March 30th when I posted The Grand Finale. Maybe you’re wondering, what happened to the grand finale, Barb? It obviously wasn’t all that grand. I returned a month later, on April 30th with the scattered words. Even though I wasn’t posting, I continued writing.

I took a 30 day break from Blogging, but then a decision had to be made. I received an email from WordPress reminding me my domain name was up for renewal. Recently, I spotted this written in a journal, “Make a decision and it’ll show you a direction.” I renewed my domain name and decided to continue Blogging for another year.

I don’t write when things go wrong, and this month there’s a list! Being a believer of ‘everything happens for a reason’, I wait and share the good that came from it.

Taking a break was good for the soul, and God showed me other ways to use my writing to encourage others. It’s alright to step away from doing what we love, and doing so gave me a renewed appreciation of being here. Guess what my darlings? I have more to say.

If you have anything nice to say, say it all.

Make the Cut

This year my collection of gardening tools has grown. There is a tool for every task, and I’m learning what tool’s I need. I told the clerk at the hardware store, “I want to cut things”, and she said, “How big of a cut do you want to make Barb?” Here’s what I brought home.

Best insect repellent to wear while gardening, Mrs. Murphy’s.

I’m equipped to handle big jobs and small jobs, but not much in between. The Fiskars Micro-tip pruner are perfect for snipping overgrowth from the top of plants. The needle nose is precise, but the tiniest tools can cause bloodshed. It comes with a safety cover which is smart to use, or we opt to live a life of band aides.

We have a vine that returns every year. No matter the winter it endures, which this year was snow and ice, it comes back. My daughter loves this vine, so I can’t remove it completely, but I do keep it in check, or it’ll take over. I have these wicker lanterns hanging throughout the yard and the vine saw it as an opportunity to further it’s growth.

At first I thought, ‘That’s cool’, but after all the rain we had you could barely see the lantern. I took the Fiskars and trimmed it back, but left some resting on top. For now it adds to the beauty of the lantern, but time will tell if it adds beauty or too much weight.

Looking down at the path below, the vine was crawling away from the fence and creeping across the path. I try to be mindful of what sneaks in along the path, but I’ll let it grow for now. If it wants to cross the path, that’s fine, but we want to keep the path in sight.

What began as a pleasant addition to our lives, shouldn’t become added weight. Pay attention my darling and you’ll know when it’s time to make the cut.

Strength and Beauty

One of my daughter’s favorite things in our yard is something I didn’t plant. It was here when we moved in, and it survived this year’s snow and ice storm. I began pampering it in March, and have paid attention to it along with all the other plants and shrubs. It bloomed the first of June, but the blooms are now fading.

It’s a young Crepe Myrtle, and I’m thrilled it bloomed this year. Being young it’s resilient, and hasn’t stood here long enough to toughen up, but it will.

It was early morning and the rain had stopped leaving it partly cloudy. The sun was trying it’s best to break through and claim the day. I headed out the door for a walk through the neighborhood, letting my feet lead the way with no certain route in mind.

I turned on one of my favorite streets, and luckily had my phone in my pocket to capture this picture. As I stood there in awe, I wondered how long this Crepe Myrtle has been standing here. It’s a tree that calls for you to sit a spell and listen for it’s stories.

After taking this photo, I continued my walk and it began to rain. It wasn’t heavy, just a fine mist that felt good to my skin. I wondered how much rain that Crepe Myrtle has stood through. My guess would be enough to reach it’s roots, because that’s what it takes to grow in strength and beauty.

Breathtaking

I’ve been caring for it since March.

My philosophy while caring for flowers is: “You’re either gonna thrive or die.” I shower them with love, and a lot of them have been loved to death.

This one plant in particular is a Hibiscus, which is relatively easy to grow. When purchased, it wasn’t in bloom, but the picture on the tag showed what it was going to look like in bloom. Let me just go ahead and say, the photo didn’t do it justice. It has been a while since the purchase, so I had forgotten what color it was, but remembered it was unique, and one I haven’t seen before.

It would grow a bud and look like it was going to bloom, but the bud would fall to the ground. It would just drop off thanks to some type of insect eating it from the inside, but I just kept giving it the same treatment as everything else in the yard. Everyday I’d look at it and see buds, but wonder if it was going to bloom.

It was just a normal morning in the yard, hose in hand with my back to the Hibiscus. I was making my way around to it, when I saw one of the buds had opened into a bloom and gasped at the sight of it!

It was so much more than I imagined that it took my breath away. That’s the kind of life He has planned for us lovelies. Breathtaking.