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.
I woke up to the sound of a bulldozer knocking down trees next to my home. The woods that offered privacy, shade and homes for the animals are no more. Poof.
I stood at the kitchen window in horror as trees were tossed carelessly into a dumpster. Their life and the years they stood became irrelevant in the path of progress.
The last few days the machine’s have been still, and that’s been much needed. I knew the two lots were for sale, but didn’t realize they’d sold. Someone is building a couple of houses there, with one facing the street I live on, and another one facing the street behind me. My daughter and I had no warning this was about to happen. It all transpired within a moment’s notice.
This morning I sat in silence on my bench in the front yard for the first time in days. The one positive I’ve noticed is there’s more light with less trees. Over the weekend I was still adjusting to the new landscape, or the lack thereof and texted my daughter. I felt helpless over the situation and was distraught over the woods being gone. Then my daughter responded with this nugget of wisdom.
“I understand Momma. I wish we would’ve had a head’s up, but maybe it’s better that we didn’t”. ~My daughter.
When God wants us to stand still and trust in His plan, we relinquish control. Instead of focusing on what’s gone, I can appreciate what this change brought, such as more light and a cool breeze entering the yard. We won’t see His full plan immediately, but He’s watching how we behave in a moment’s notice.
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.
Sitting on my bench early this morning, taking in a view of the yard, I made mental notes of what needed to be done to help it along. I’ve surmised the yard is my happy place.
I’ve been wanting a place to sit outside and connect with the morning. The bench highlighted in my previous post offers that space. What I like about this space so far is, it can be used solitarily, or I can invite people in and it will expand. Connecting with all kinds of people expands our thinking, and the heart, but they need to be invited in.
I’m practicing letting people in, and it’s not a simple practice. I had a neighbor stop by yesterday and we didn’t really connect. The visit began with my daughter’s dog taking a nip at her leg, and it all just went downhill from there. At first I was discouraged over our visit, but then concluded, it’s going to take more practice.
Keep the door continually propped open.
People are meant to cross our path for a reason and sometimes a season, but it’s rare that they stay forever. The only requirement from us is to let them in.
“It’s better to be seen than viewed”, said the cashier at the gas station. That phrase has stuck with me for almost a year. We were just making small talk, and then those words fell out of his mouth as I headed toward the door.
The people who walk through our lives are important, and we need to pay attention to who steps in and what they say because most have a message.
When we first moved here, there weren’t many people walking this neighborhood. There was the occasional runner, or someone would zoom by on a bicycle, but no one just strolling the streets. A year ago I began a simple habit of walking to the end of the street as a friendly presence in the neighborhood. I’ve met a good many neighbors and been doing this for long enough now, when they see me coming they stop and talk.
The time or day doesn’t matter so much as the doing.
This is not considered exercise. I literally step outside in whatever I’m wearing and stroll the nearby streets. My daughter got tickled at me one day when I walked out the door and forgot to leave my glasses at home. I was wrapped up in my favorite cardigan and my glasses were still sitting atop my head as we strolled, but it didn’t bother me because I want to be seen for who I am.
To be a writer, you need to release your words. To be a good neighbor, you need to keep them.
An excerpt from the book.
I enjoyed all of your fun comments on my previous post Embracing the New. Here’s a couple of photos I shared in my Fearless community taken with my new phone. I wanted to capture the tiny detail of the yellow flower blooming, and it did that, but it also but picked up every vein in the leaves. I love how the pot sitting below is blurry like it’s not supposed to be the focus.
We do not see our size. We do not view ourselves with accuracy. We are far larger, far more marvelous, far more deeply and consistently creative than we recognize or know.
Pg. 48 of ‘A Right to Write’, by Julia Cameron.
Here’s to showing up in true form and allowing ourselves to be seen. Much love-Barb.
We didn’t allow the snow and ice to hinder us from taking a walk. After the first fallen snow, it was light powder and easy to walk through, but then a fine layer of ice fell on top. That made it a little more challenging, but where there’s a will, there’s also a way.
You have to stomp your foot through the icy layer, to get down to the powdery snow. There your footing will hold, and not slip. Here we were, stomping our way through the neighborhood, and it was invigorating to say the least, at an outdoor temp of 18 degrees.
We made a trail of footprints. Some were on the road, but most were through the edge of the neighbors yards. The road had turned into a solid sheet of ice, so we had to make our own path off the road. The next day, I went for a walk alone, but found myself following the path we had taken the day before. Even though the snow was melting away, I could still see some of our footprints and it made me think.
What kind of footprint do I really want to leave for these neighbors? Not just a snowy one alongside their yard, but a footprint in their life. My thoughts expanded to what kind of footprint do I want to leave on this world? Thanks to the snow/ice storm that shut down Texas, I’m pondering footprints.
I cannot remember the last time I went Black Friday shopping, but I went this year. There was one store having a sale, and I wondered what it would be like to go shopping on Black Friday during a pandemic. It was nothing like I thought it would be.
I made a deal with God Thursday night before bed. I told Him, “If going to this store Friday morning would be a beautiful experience, then wake me up early.” I woke up at 3:00 am, smiled and said, “Not this early. Let’s shoot for 6.” The next time I woke up it was precisely 6:00 a.m.
By 7:00 a.m., I was out the door.
It was foggy, and there was no traffic. When I arrived at the store, there were hardly any cars in the parking lot. Slipping on my mask, I saw a huge sign sitting at the storefront that said, “No more than 35 people allowed inside.” So far, it was nothing like I expected.
I went to the sale for their candles being buy 3, get 3 free. At first I thought, what a deal, but not really. They used to have a sale every month where their candles were half price. I would normally just buy a couple, but the black Friday sale insured me walking out of the store with six!
When the sales clerk handed me the bag full of candles, I was a little bit embarrassed by it size. It was enormous!
What we expect and what God has in store are different sizes. I catch myself not thinking big enough because it’s comfortable walking through the store with a small bag. We need to get good at carrying the enormous bag.
That’s the size of His plans for us if we embrace the unexpected. Hope my neighbors like candles.