I Measure in Cups

While loading the dishwasher I ran out of room on the top shelf, now overflowing with mugs. I lifted some out to examine them: an old freebie from work with a United Way logo on it, a hand-me-down from Mom with a huge chip on the side, and a thrift store find in a hideous shade of green with words painted on the side that reminded me to love Jesus. Not that it matters, but I bought that one for the size, not the words.

The mugs disgruntled me. Not because I don’t appreciate the goals of the United Way, or Jesus for that matter, but because not one of them was special, just screwball stragglers from the hard-to-reach side of the cupboard.

Several years ago, during the height of Mom’s disease, unwashed beer glasses filled my counters. You know, the slender ones that won’t fit in the dishwasher because they’re too damn tall. They stood like hangover trophies next to the sink, taunting me with my bad decisions until I washed them for the next round.

After Mom died in 2012, wine replaced beer. Most nights of the week, I‘d have two drinks or more. Stemless glasses shared a small amount of the top dishwasher shelf with sippy cups and my other coffee mugs, the grey Gordon Ramsey ones that came in the set – a gift from my husband.

I like wine. Love it, even: it’s the friend that comforts me on a cold night and eases the stress after a long day of chasing children and folding other people’s underwear and the therapy that numbs the burn of grief lingering from losing Mom.

I’ve said more than once that I am never drinking again. I fooled myself and made promises about staying away from those bright red blends that I wasn’t ready to follow through on.

So what? We all make mistakes.

I haven’t given up. I’m mapping out the person inside part by part, good decision by good decision.

For the last year, I’ve been drinking less and less alcohol. Each week I have to remind myself drinking wine isn’t my friend or my therapy. Sipping hot chamomile tea with a drop of lemon juice and a teaspoon of honey can comfort and ease me in a similar way. It won’t take away my grief, but that’s something I need to work through on my sober days.

I collected my misfit mugs in a grocery bag to donate and wrangled my child from her Elsa dress in her playroom to her car seat outside.

After unloading my band of unwanted oddballs at Goodwill, I hopped over to the new Hearth and Hand section at Target, which I’ve been drooling over since before Christmas. I’ve dreamt about Chip and Joanna Gaines renovating a fixer-upper for me, complete with a shiplap kitchen backsplash. Adding their coffee cups to my cupboard would be a distant but decent second.

I paced in front of the Hearth and Hand display, in complete awe of the details on the cream-colored stoneware, the sturdiness of the clay, the simplistic design. I grabbed one from the collection and Mom’s voice reminded me, pinch your pennies, Danielle. Hard times come fast, so save where you can. “But splurging can be fun and rewarding,” I said. Those mugs wouldn’t ever go on sale, and I could find cheaper ones on clearance, but they molded to my hand like they belonged there.

I bought four.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Join me for this week’s challenge over at YeahWrite!

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What I Remember

I don’t remember how sick Mom looked at the end. Or the number of days I sat watching her cling to life in hospice. I don’t remember what her breath sounded like the day she died. Or the faces of the strangers who stood beside me grieving because my mom had changed them for the better in some way.

But I do remember her beauty. The way her smile always reached her eyes and how she laughed from her belly each and every time. I remember how I wished I had her dark, flawless skin. I remember that her cascading brown hair smelled like coconuts and Rave hairspray.

Her nails always had red or pink polish covering them. She filed the tips to a point.

I remember we didn’t go to church because she said God lives in our hearts. She said miracles are all around us, and if we pay attention we will see them. Her beliefs didn’t fit neatly into one religion. She prayed, but also carried stones in her purse for good health and mustard seed in a charm for faith when she needed it most.

I remember that her good jewelry never sat in a box. Gold rings encircled each finger. Bracelets jangled from her wrists.

I remember her love for nature and that she liked getting dirt on her hands. She didn’t like flowers in a vase because they belonged in the soil. I remember the sound of her flipflops as she padded through the backyard, watering and pruning her garden. She knew how much light and water each of her flowers needed by heart.

I remember that she couldn’t sing and didn’t care. She’d shout the lyrics to any song while driving. She loved Whitney, Madonna, Diana Ross, and the Carpenters. At home, she’d move the couch and play Motown records so we could dance.

I remember her desire to do something more. She kept a scrapbook with pictures, cards, kind words, and trinkets she received from each patient she cared for while working as a hospice nurse. She grieved for them when they passed, but did her part to keep their spirits alive through sharing her memories with anyone who’d listen.

I remember her love for coffee. All day, every day. Never creamer or sugar. Always hot.

I remember her lesson to slow down and enjoy the little things. She always stopped to smell roses, and she always put her bare toes in the sand if she had the chance.

I don’t remember everything, but I remember what matters most.


Finding Balance in my Crazy Life

There once was a time when I flew off the handle on a regular basis.  I was tired, stressed and a wee bit unstable.  But after a year of therapy, plenty of mistakes and a lot of soul-searching I am finally in a better place mentally and socially.  It wasn’t easy to get here and there were plenty of bumps along the way, but the journey has been life-changing.

Over the last year, I have decided that there are five things that I need each and every day to stay sane and stable.  I have listed them below (in no particular order, of course).

  1. COFFEE.  Lots and lots of coffee is required.  Sometimes I drink it by the gallon.  (Like on those days when Ashlyn decides that 5:00 a.m. is a good time to play with Mom.)
  2. Hugs.  I need at least twelve hugs from each of my daughters and my husband each day.  It is a way to reconnect with them and remind myself that everything is just the way it should be.
  3. Laughter.  If I laugh on my worst day, then it suddenly isn’t so bad.  Laughter is medicine for the heart and soul and my husband is the best doctor to prescribe it.
  4. Writing and/or Reading.  If I am having a moment; then I know I need to write about it.  If I can’t think of what to say, then I need to read instead.  It’s that simple.
  5. Meditation.  I don’t have hours to meditate each day, but I have five minutes and that’s exactly how long I try to meditate for.  It’s not much, but every morning while my coffee is brewing I sit quietly and start the day in a positive state of mind.  I remind myself of my intention for the day and connect with the quiet world around me.2016-04-18 09.19.12 How do you stay balanced?  Please share your thoughts!

A Sad Day in September

As these leaves begin to turn,
My mind drifts to you.
This fall is the third
And I’m still so confused.

My heart feels heavy,
As the cool wind blows.
My feelings are empty,
Despite love I have and know.

I see colors of warm
Like orange,  yellow and red.
But inside is a brewing storm,
Making me cold, instead.

Your porch swing is a place
I often remember.
I still see your happy face,
As we sip coffee together.

You’re gone and those autumn days
Are left far behind.
Leaving me broken today,
Wishing I could press rewind.

I close my eyes tight
And let the tears flow.
I know tomorrow I’ll be alright,
And the sadness will go.