Learning in October

I see Fall as both a little bit spicy and practical.  It is no-nonsense, but serendipitous all at the same time.  It is a warm hug as well as a brusque nod in passing. It is a steadfast heart that loves without condition, but won’t be trampled.  It is chaotic and fragile, but stands strong in the storm.  It is a little rough around the edges, as well as gloriously beautiful in spirit.  Like me.  (Teresa L. Hardymon)

PicMonkey Collage.what.i.learned.

I always refer to October as mine.  I mean, I’m happy to share her with you, but she is my October.  And, she did not disappoint this month.  The color came on slow, intensified just when I thought she was going to fade without much splash, then lingered just a few days before blowing away on the winds of change.

I went on a girls excursion last week with a friend.  We left on Wednesday and remarked that there wasn’t a lot of color yet.  By Friday, October had exploded all over the place and the color was wonderful.  It was enough to make me shout praises.  I went crazy and took lots of pictures which I shared here.

Then, a couple of days later, when the color was still good, but falling and the light was more gray than bright, I took a gander around my own small, hometown and took lots more pictures which I shared here.

October sent me several postcards which I shared on several days as part of the #write31days event.  She really loves me a lot, which is why she sent me the cards.  Just to remind me of all she has to offer.

In addition to all the love, there were a few things I discovered this month that I thought I’d share with you just in case they might be of interest or help to you too.

THE PERFECT PURSE –  How did I not discover the perfect purse before?  For years, I have struggled to find a purse that I love to carry and that loves me back.  I find a bag, love the look or color, imagine that we’ll have a long relationship, but then disappointment inevitably settles in and I’m once again on the hunt.   I think the hunt is over!  I discovered the bucket bag (mine is similar and this one is on my wish list too).  It has been wonderful. It was half-price which was great as well.  In September I wrote about what was in my purse.  I loved that orange bag and still do, but it is frustrating to carry, because everything shifts around and I’m always digging to find stuff.  NO MORE!  The bucket bag keeps everything exactly where I put it!  I started carrying this bag around the first of October and I have yet to be frustrated.  Everything has a place and stays there.  I can find things.  The strap is adjustable so I can balance it just right for me.  It sets comfortably on my shoulder without slipping.  I finally have a bag that is stylish, roomy, comfortable and organized.

NEW FAVORITE ARTIST –  I love good music.  I love being in a small intimate group listening to live music.  I had the opportunity earlier this month to do just that.  One of our favorite little pizza hangouts, Pasquales, has been having live music.  Many evenings, it includes my nephew, Austin, and his friend, Andrew, who make up the band The Mountain Sound.  On the particular night we went to Pasquales they were performing with other musicians from the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music which is part of the MSU music department.  They performed as Blurred lines and I met a new favorite singer,  Becki Alfrey.  The girl can sing.  She did a lot of Patsy Cline numbers and it was just heavenly.  She doesn’t have a CD out yet, but I’m hoping she does soon.

GO TO YOUR CLASS REUNION –  I’ve never gone to one of my class reunions. ever. Until this October.  And it wasn’t an official reunion.  It was a non-reunion year, when a group from our class wanted to have a little get together at a local bowling alley.  They set up a Facebook invite and invited everyone they could think of from our class.  I received the invite and thought maybe, but probably not.  My friend T and I discussed it.  We were both leaning towards not.  I said, well, let’s keep our options open.  The day of I was pretty sure I wasn’t going, then T called to check in and said we were going.  So, that was that.  I AM SO GLAD I WENT.  It was just a small group, but it was a great time of catching up and remembering.  We loved it so much that everyone decided to make it an annual thing.  I can’t wait to go next year.  I won the prize for being married the longest (31 years).  I don’t know why I waited so long.  Sometimes it was logistics because I lived too far away.  A lot of times it was the awkwardness of not having seen anyone but a handful of people since high school.  What I learned from this event is that in many ways we are the same people we were then, but in so many ways we have matured into the what I want to be when I grow up version.  We have lived life with it’s challenges, lessons and gifts.  We know how important friends can be.  We have a shared history together, as well as our own history lived apart.  Going forward we will make new history together.

RACCOONS ARE NOT AFRAID OF US, Y’ALL –  My parents have had a raccoon visit them several times this month.  It nearly attacked my dad on the first visitation, brushing against him on it’s way by his chair.  Then, on another evening, when my mom was sitting on the porch by her lonesome, he got a little braver and they made contact which resulted in a few scratches on her hand and ankle.  She yelled pretty loud and I heard her while siting in my kitchen.  I called to make sure everyone was ok, and went over to check on the scratches.  I called our local animal control guy, who said he didn’t have a trap and wanted to know if my dad had a gun (not sure exactly what his job description is supposed to be, evidently it doesn’t cover coons).  We thought about borrowing a trap and trapping him, so we could make sure he didn’t have rabies.  But, since the scratches were surface and the coon hadn’t shown any signs before or after the incident of being rabid, and after reading up about such things on the internet, we decided my mom was safe and not in danger of getting rabies.  Since it is now was well past the incubation period  and nothing has happened yet, I think we’re safe.  The coon showed up a couple more times, but hasn’t been seen recently, so I’m guessing he has moved on.  We hope.

I CAN’T DO EVERYTHING –  I’ve been slowly, but surely, giving myself permission to slow down and not worry if every “i” is dotted or “t” is crossed.  I’m trying to look at what I have done and be thankful, rather than feeling guilty about what I haven’t done.  Sometimes we are harder on ourselves than others are, and we set higher expectations than necessary.

TAKE THE MEDICATION ALREADY – I have also been learning that sometimes taking medication is our best option and if we are willing, it can help us to feel better.  I’ve recently been diagnosed with MCTD, an autoimmune disease (I hate that word). Thankfully, it appears that I’m not showing major attacks on my body yet and my doctor wants to get it in remission before it gets worse, so I’ve had to take a new medication to help build up my immune system and help with pain. The aches and pains are better, however the deep, deep fatigue lingers.  Which is why number 4 is necessary.  Taking naps is also becoming a necessary part of my daily routine and this too is a learning curve.  I’m sure this journey will teach me many things.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13 (KJV)

PicMonkey Collage.2.2

I am learning in grace,


Linking up with Emily P. Freeman and others over at Chatting At The Sky for the October What I Learned.  Won’t you join the party?

What I Learned In March

I always think I’ll keep a list of things I learned. But, of course, I don’t.  Then at the end of the month, I’m left wondering just what I learned, or even if I learned anything.  I search the depths of my mind for any morsel that will prove that I do pay attention to what is happening in my world. 100_2932 Evidently, this month a few things stuck (mostly from the past few days, hours even), so here goes in no particular order:

1.  I learned that I like the taste of Trader Joe’s chocolate chips better than the store brand or that popular brand (you know the one with the cookie recipe).

2.  I learned that Homes.com has vastly overestimated the value of my humble little cottage.  I mean, I don’t live in California.  If I did, it would be worth what they say it is. 100_2871 100_2879 3.  I learned that I love, love, love the newest DQ Blizzard, the Fanniversary Blizzard in honor of their 75th anniversary.  Go get you one now or as soon as possible. Thanks, Gwen for making me want one.

4.  I learned that Conway Twitty’s real name is Harold Jenkins (I may have known this before, but forgot – it sounded familiar when I was reading about him).

5.  I further learned that the name Conway Twitty was a compilation of two cities – Conway, Arkansas and Twitty, Texas.  Nowadays people seem to use their own names, but back in the day it was very popular to have a stage name, especially if your original moniker was deemed uninspiring.  I heard one time that the way to choose your name if you were a country singer was to choose the name of your first pet and your Mother’s maiden name.  In case you were wondering mine would be Mittens Maddox.  (A gray cat with four white paws named Mittens at my grandmothers that I claimed.) If you’re interested, my husband’s would have been Boots Logan. Ok…moving on.

6.  I further learned that during his 35-year career, Conway had over 100 albums and 55 number one singles.

7.  One time a lady was having a heart attack at one of his concerts and refused to leave with the paramedics until she heard Conway sing Hello, Darlin’.  Seems someone got a message to him, and he sang the song for her so she’d go to the hospital.

All the info in numbers 4-7 came from this website where you can find much more information about him.  Click on over to read the rest.

8.  I was getting a little scared about my blogging break and the fact that words wouldn’t come, but then a couple of other bloggers (here and here) really encouraged me to embrace this time and see what God is teaching me and to journal with pen and paper.  I’ve been slowly, but surely taking their advice.  Thanks, Barbie and Deidra for your encouragement it is helping.  I’m learning to take this season in stride and let God set the pace. 100_2797 9. I’ve also been more intentional the past few days about making time to be in the word.  For me, it seems to sink in better at night, so I’m learning it’s ok for me not to be a morning person.  I’m learning that it’s ok to fit my mold and not everyone else’s.

10.  Just tonight, I became aware of some thoughts I have about my writing and how I want it to impact others.  There is more to learn here as the thoughts are written down and processed.  As I was praying about my writing, one thing I realized is that I want my writing to make people feel like they have come home.

11.  I also realized that I love the sound of a pencil scratching across paper.  I usually write in my journal with a pen.  Tonight I wanted to jot down a thought before I forgot, and a pencil was all that was available, so that is what I used.  It was so satisfying to actually hear my thoughts glide across the page.  That means I need to get my bouquet of pencils sharpened and ready.

12.  In case you didn’t know, that bouquet of pencils comment in number 11 is a reference to a quote from You’ve Got Mail,  probably my most favorite movie ever. Ever. I knew that, but you might not have. Now you do. Go watch it, and you can thank me later. Although I can’t imagine why you haven’t already seen the movie.  Also, this reminds me of my friend Cindy who once got me a bouquet of pencils for my birthday because she knew I loved that quote from the movie. That is a good friend. PM.mail.quote 13.  I discovered that a bunch of supermarket Roses can be arranged in Blue Mason jars and give days of enjoyment, and they are even more enjoyable when you share two of your three bunches with friends. 100_4258     100_4278   What about you?  What have you been learning – please feel free to share in the comments.

Would you like to join the party?  Go on over to Chatting At The Sky and see what other people are learning in March.

Learning Takes Grace,


What I Learned In October – A 31 Day Recap

In October I participated in write31days.com.  It was my third year to do this and, while I finished, I did skip a few days.  I also did mostly pictures on several days.  It seemed that my whole October pivoted around the writing challenge, so I thought I’d review from those pages to see what I learned through the process of the challenge. The numbers in the list refer to the day from the 31 Days, Prompted To Write, that corresponds with the learning experience.


2.  I learned that in the midst of my deepest pain, I can still laugh.  With Joy.  On this day I also learned that the essence of my Mom is still here, even if her mind is confused.

3.  I learned that I can’t be all things to all people and still be me.  I need balance and perspective. It’s ok to know this, because God’s grace is enough.

More water towers

6.  I learned that I love rainy days.  I don’t love depression, but I can still praise God in the storms.

8.  I was once again reminded that my mom wants to be Minnie Pearl.  I also learned that life does not have to be perfect and the ability to laugh at yourself is priceless.

9.  I learned to be thankful for slammed doors and to wait with expectation to see how God will open a window.  And he will. He will provide the work he wants us to do.  I’ve also changed how I pray for that work.


13. 14. 17. 20. 29.  I was reminded once again just why Autumn is my favorite time of year and how much I love drives and taking photos of the fall splendor.  I also discovered that there is much beauty not too far from my own back door.  I found a breathtaking view just a few miles away in a most unassuming location, just waiting for me to bask in it’s panorama.  I was once again reminded of why I call this My October 


16.  I was reminded that the testimonials of a man’s character and how he was an influence in the lives of so many is the real legacy left behind.

25.  I learned to look for Vignettes around my own home and was inspired to share a few with you, thanks to the Nester and her 31 Day Topic, Vignette Me.


27.  I was inspired to worship under the ministry of my husbands piano playing for a congregation in his home town.  It was a sweet day.  Like getting a glimpse into heaven.  (in the original post I linked to him playing a bluesy version of Nothing But The Blood)  Go ahead, click over, I promise you’ll be inspired.

28.  I was blessed by the wonder of friendship and reminded of how important it is to meet halfway for the sheer joy of celebrating that friendship.


31.  I found an old letter from my mom that reminded me of the beauty of forgiveness.  I was also reminded why my ears don’t stick out (just go read the note at the end of Day 31).

If you want to know more, you can read the entire 31 Day series here. If you wanted me to point you to say, my top three recommendations form the series, then I would say here, here and here.


I’d love to hear from you – what did you learn in October?

I’m linking with Emily over at Chatting at the Sky for her monthly link-up on what we learned.  You can check out what others are learning here.

Learning and remembering in grace,


What I Learned In September (is it really over already?)

This month has fled by, but it has truly been a beautiful month and not just the weather, although that has been great.  We are officially into my favorite time of the year.  Hot Cocoa and cozy, fleecy, clothes here I come (if the hot flashes don’t flare too high).  I can’t wait to curl up in the evening with a good book and a throw; somehow with the sun going down earlier, I don’t feel as guilty about the extra couch time.  I love soup simmering in the crockpot smelling the house up with wonder.  Life seems to slow down to a simple pace that I can keep up with and hibernating seems to be an acceptable social more.  But, I digress…

What did I learn in September?  As usual, I was not very adept at jotting down things and my mental lists don’t stick around as long as they used to, so I am just going to share some highlights.

1. I learned that my nephew is awesome.  Ok, so I already knew that, but he is an awesome singer and guitar player. A recent video he shared with me confirmed that he is, in fact, pretty awesome.  He is auditioning live this weekend at the Hoedown in the Holler Star Competition. Click on the picture below (when he was a wee lad) and it should take you to his video on FB.


2.  I learned that Emily Freeman and Christa Wells are awesome.  Ok, so I already knew that as well, but it sure was great to sit under their storytelling this past Saturday at the Nester’s Barn and learn so many nuggets.  I am still processing and it usually takes me a few days to gather all my thoughts and write a post about them.  It may be November before I write about it, but rest assured I will write about the experience.

3.  One sweet thing that I will share from the Writer’s Event is about my Sense of Place.  Y’all they talked about our sense of place. You may or may not have noticed that the tagline on my blog (go ahead look up there at the top by the blog title) is a sense of place.  A  few  months back, I decided that my blog needed a tag line.  A real tag line that sort of defined what my blog was about, not just a random quote that changed often, or nothing at all, which is how it had been for a long time. While looking back through several of my posts, I realized that the one’s that spoke the most about who I am and what makes my heart soar were the posts that spoke of my sense of place – in my world and my family – the one’s that defined me and what I am about. I even had a post from 2011 that was titled Sense of Place, so to me it made sense for that to be my tagline.  Hearing those words at the Writer’s event was just like a confirmation that I was on the right track. I love it when those chill bump moments happen.  God has been working on me little by little to help me settle into his plans and trust the direction he is leading.

4. I discovered that I really like the Charlotte area of North Carolina and could probably live there.  Although, I don’t really like traveling down Interstates 64 and 77 to get there because it actually feels a lot more like traveling up in so many places and don’t even get me started on the curves in West Virginia, thank you very much.

rockys hands

5.  Part of settling into God’s plans involved my husband opening the doors of our home to teach piano students. We don’t know where this will lead, but it is a start on doing fulfilling work in a small town that does not offer much for a classically trained pianist.  We even have a Facebook page for the studio.  I have lots of dreams and possible plans wobbling around on the back side of my mind for how this could all expand, but we’ll see how God is leading.

6.  Finally, nothing new, but I am a very last minute person.  I am still figuring out what my 31 Days will be about this year.  And the link-up is tomorrow evening.  I have jotted down notes and thoughts, but have not sank into a topic as of yet.  But, there is hope, so stay tuned and come back sometime tomorrow evening-ish for the big reveal. Because, I do know I want to accept the challenge. And hey, if you are reading this before noon -ish tomorrow, feel free to leave a suggestion about what you’d like for me to write about.  In case you are worried about my last minute, barely skidding to the link-up on time ways, just know that I once wrote a college term paper in a weekend.  I got an A- thank you very much. It might have helped that my professor really liked me and I was her work study, but still. I seem to work well under pressure.


I Need Lots of Grace,


What I Learned In March

I do learn new things.  I just forget them. Unless I write them down. Because of this, I also relearn things.  So, for March I attempted to keep notes of things I learned.  I missed a few.  Like the new tidbits I learned in a conversation with my cousins a few weeks ago.  I just knew I’d remember.  Two hours later.  Nada. Still haven’t remembered. But, I did manage to keep track of a few things.  If I can find my list.

Is it Spring yet?  Thankfully, my blue bottles bloom year round. ( Picture taken in 2013)
Is it Spring yet? Thankfully, my blue bottles bloom year round. I really need to clean the labels off of them. ( Picture taken in 2013)

1. Thanks to my sister, I learned a new word APRICITY. Now that Spring is here, maybe we can enjoy some Apricity.

2.  I learned that the mountain logo on a Toberlone candy bar has the shadow of a bear climbing the mountain. You can look for it here.  Also, the Tostitos logo has two guys reaching for the same chip to dip in the bowl of salsa (the dot on the “i” is the bowl of salsa).  For other hidden meanings in logos’ click here.

3.  I learned that  I can get a free paint sample from Lowe’s Spring Color Palette and a free fan deck.  I was browsing through my mom’s April House Beautiful and found one of those annoying, stiff, index card sized ads they always stick in between the pages and it was for a free paint sample. I am excited because I love a good paint sample.  You should see the back of my front door which currently has shades of blue and gray because I thought I might want to paint it.  I started this journey, maybe three years ago.  I have decided that it will be painted in April.  Thanks to Lowe’s. I took the What’s your color personality quiz.  My results? The Darling Dusk Collection. I’m really feeling Sprinkle. Maybe that means the door should be a shade of blue?

4.  Also, did you know that Target has Devine color paint and wallpaper.  Peel and stick wall covering that is repositionable.  I may need to find a Target soon.

5.  Dr. Oz.  What can I say.  He is always teaching us something new, or re-teaching us something old that is new again.  The whole debate over antibacterial soap.  I had heard this one before, but he says we shouldn’t use it and explains why.  Also, and this was new to me, Caramel coloring in your soft drinks and other foods allegedly causes cancer.  You can read all about both of these issues here.

6.  I watched a documentary called The Perfect Human Diet.  Seems we should eat the way our early, and I mean early ancestors ate.  A lot of what they said about our diet made sense.  But then I wondered….if the ancestors they are talking about, don’t line up with what I believe…and if a lot of what they were saying seems to contradict what the Bible teaches me about food, then really, can I trust anything they tell me.  I also have a book by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. that tells me to eat pretty much opposite of The Perfect Human Diet. He allows no fat.  My doctor a few years ago wanted me to try his diet.  I did for five weeks.  I felt great, had energy, lost thirteen pounds, never felt hungry.  We checked my bloodwork and my good cholesterol had dropped even lower and my Tryglycerides had shot up.  Not good.  I am not advocating either of these diets, neither am I saying that they aren’t the diet you should be on.  Only you and your doctor can determine your dietary needs.  But, the real take away for me is that no one has all the answers, because there are too many voices telling us too many different things about what we should eat and what is good for us and what is not. And, it changes often. What I have learned is that I need to make the best choices I can based on what is available and use common sense. And, eat real food, but less of it, if I want to lose weight.

7.  According to a post that a friend put on FB, GMO foods are Okay for me to eat. The article did make it sound perfectly reasonable to eat genetically modified organisms.  Still. There are also a lot of compelling articles against them as well.  I guess I need to do more research on this one. And, the Cheerios that say they are GMO free?  Don’t buy the marketing.  All cheerios are GMO free because Oats have not yet, been genetically modified.  So says the article and a couple of others I scanned. I also heard that Dr. Oz said GMO’s were ok to eat. Hmmmm.  So, I guess that clinches it.   See what I learned in #6 above.

8.  I learned that I didn’t know I need a Tignanello purse. I had never heard of this brand until I saw some for sale on eBay. They say they are affordable.  I guess it depends on how you define affordable.  On Amazon they ranged from 49.70 to 189.00.  I found a cute little black one, gently used, on eBay for 17.99 including shipping.  I purchased it. To replace my little black Jacklyn Smith purse I bought ages ago for less than 20.00 and which is showing too much wear to carry these days.  It was my favorite purse ever.  I hope this one doesn’t disappoint.

9.  I am learning, even now, as I write these words, that March does not always go out like a lamb.  The wind is fierce outside my window pane.

10. And I , dear friend have stayed up way too late sharing what I learned with you.

I am linking up with Emily over at Chatting At The Sky.  Click on over to see what others have learned in March.

Learning in Grace,