25 May, 2018

Be the Creepy Person

This morning I needed to go for a run. My heart was heavy and I needed to clear my head before getting ready for my friend's funeral. I wanted to be alone, but.....

Four years ago I began noticing a man walk his daughter to the bus stop every morning. At the time I assumed (rightly) that she was just starting kindergarten. Most mornings they walk hand in hand, but sometimes she skips ahead. In warm weather he is often barefoot (a man after my heart surely); in cold weather they are bundled up; in the rain he holds an umbrella over her head allowing himself to get wet. I have often thought about stopping them and telling them how happy it makes my heart to see. But that would be creepy......

This morning I walked out of my back door just as they were passing the driveway. "Good morning," I said. He waved back. And then God help me I didn't plan this--I ran across the grass towards them as I stammered, "Can I say something to you that may be kind of creepy?" (Just name it I say!) He looked a little hesitant but nodded. "I have been watching y'all for years walking by the house--not in a creepy stalker way," I rapidly said, "but just because I have that big picture window there you know. I don't sit by it and wait for..." (I stopped realizing I didn't have to be this transparent, and he might have looked a little nervous....)"Anyway," I continued, "It has truly made my heart happy and sometimes changed my mood--lightening it a little because it's just so wonderful to see. It has brought me great joy."

"Well," the man said, "We enjoy being together and it's always good to get a walk in." Of course I couldn't leave it at that, I had to continue. "I hope you'll keep walking together for many years. Our youngest is graduating next week. It's surreal."

"Wow," the man said, 'That must be weird. We'll keep walking as long as she wants me to or maybe even if she doesn't want me to. Life is too short, you know?"

Oh how I know...

"Anyway, thanks for saying something, I'm glad we could add to your happiness. And congratulations." he said as he began to walk. Maybe it was the sun, but both our eyes seemed to glisten with tears yet to fall.

As he walked away I really wanted to shout as Lisa always did, "Who loves ya' baby!??!?!" But that would be, well, too creepy, so instead I turned and  began to run, and I let the tears fall.

Be the creepy person; life is too short not to be, and it just might change someone's day.

27 April, 2018

I Am Not Barbara Bush

In 1990 Barbara Bush was the controversial graduation speaker at
Who doesn't love pearls and a baseball cap?
Wellesley; I had no idea. I was far too busy thinking about my own graduation from UVA--which of course says something about how in-tune (not at all) I was to the world around me, and possibly says something about, no absolutely says something about, who I was as a white, heterosexual, privileged woman graduating from a top-tier school. I can't change who I was, but I can think about it both in terms of then and now....

Since Mrs. Bush's death, I have been fascinated, and at first a bit horrified, about some of the conversations surrounding Mrs. Bush's life and in particular this famous graduation speech. I was reared with the saying "Never speak ill of the dead" and I'm pretty sure people should be throwing salt over their left shoulder in handfuls....

Anyway, I've taken a few days before writing to try to make sense of my emotions. (I call this progress in my self control growth.)

So here's the thing--prior to her death, or more accurately prior to Jenna Bush Hager talking about her on The Today Show, I thought very little about Mrs. Bush. I didn't vote for her husband or her son and might even have breathed a sigh of relief when the Bush empire seemed to come to a close. Listening to Jenna talk about her, led me to have warm feelings for her like I do my own grandmothers, but that was the extent of my thoughts. So I guess you could say, "I'm not nor do I pretend to be Barbara Bush."


I do wear pearls, and not fake ones. I wear real pearls given to me on my 16th birthday by my grandmother whose first husband was abusive and second husband left her for many reasons-- a large one being her alcoholism. Until the last decade of her life Grandma Lila, once the belle of the ball, lived in a dark apartment above a store nursing her bitterness, but she taught me how to laugh at myself, how to sing at the top of my lungs no matter how badly I sing, and how to rise above that, and even in her last years after she moved to Georgia to be near us, how to be the life of the party, how to make new friends of all ages, and how to love her grandchildren--I'll get to practice that in the years to come. I wear those pearls daily and proudly. I wore them when we were newly weds and poor and I wear them now.

I didn't drop out of college to marry; in fact, I already had a college degree AND a masters degree when I got married, and for that I am grateful. BUT, I hadn't met the love of my life until my 20's, so who knows? (I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have dropped out...)

I didn't go to one of the Seven Sisters schools--probably couldn't have been admitted, but I did attend The University of Virginia as an out of state student who graduated with no debt because my parents paid for my tuition--a privilege I took for granted.

I wasn't involved in feminist movements during my college years possibly because I was raised by a man who always believed my sister and I could do anything we wanted and made sure we knew it, but more likely because I just didn't see it and probably because I was a tad self-involved and self centered. But I raised a daughter who I will hold up to any feminist. A daughter who is passionate, articulate, and not self-centered, who puts others before herself and takes causes head on, who recognizes injustice, and who believes in and fights while also recognizing her own place of privilege. (you know that no college debt thing...)

I didn't marry into an upper class dynasty, but I did choose to stay home with my children despite my expensive education, requiring much sacrifice, and I will never regret that decision. I also won't judge any person who made a different choice.

I didn't ride my husband's coattails to gain recognition, but I love being his wife, and I have always loved to receive letters addressed to Mrs. Christopher Robert Doyle. (I know some of you are rolling your eyes...) I also picked up and moved 5 times to follow his career because that is what WE chose to do.

I don't agree with my husband or with my children on everything. In fact there are some things we hold in complete opposition, but I will stand by them and possibly scratch anyone's eyeballs out who tries to assassinate their character.

I didn't, thank God, have to endure the death of a child, but we have had our own trials some of which would shred a marriage and send children scurrying to the farthest corners of the earth cutting
themselves off from me and one another, and instead our marriage and the children's relationships are stronger than ever.

I am pretty sure when I die there won't be news cameras and reporters chronicling my final days; I'm pretty sure you won't need a church that seats 1500, and I'm pretty sure no former president, first lady, or dignitary will be there, but I hope and believe my husband will be at my bedside (assuming I die first of course) and I hope my four children and grandchildren-to-be will share similar loving
tributes. I hope they will know that my faith guided me, comforted me, supported me, and strengthened me. I hope they will remember me as someone who tried to live her faith daily. I hope they will remember that I always put them first, I always had their backs, and that I love them with every fiber of my being. I hope they will walk hand in hand together loving and supporting each other--and based on their relationships right now, I have no doubt. I hope they will carry the good memories of me close to their hearts and be able to release the rest.

As I've read and re-read articles about Mrs. Bush, comments on face book, and listened to people talk, one comment stands out to me and I keep returning to it. It is thoughtful, powerful, graceful, and real.

Barbara Bush responded beautifully but why wouldn’t she? She wasn’t quelling an angry mob; she was entering a conversation that needed to happen and is STILL happening. Some of these articles suggest “and that was that, the day feminists accepted that privilege should be respected, too.” And that’s not the way it was at all. It was a beautiful day. Mrs. Bush and Mrs Gorbachev delivered great remarks. We received our diplomas. And we still question society’s strata.

I wasn't part of the conversation then, but I'm glad I am now. And if my grandchildren-to-be want to call me "Ganny," well I'll be just fine with that.

17 April, 2018

You Don't Conquer Life; You Live It

Saturday I set out to run Hickory Grove Rd--suffice it to say I did not make it to the top without stopping...

I was, in fact, pretty frustrated about it. I was actually frustrated with myself. I knew before I started I wouldn't make it to the top--I am more out of shape than I've been in years. My exercise is spotty at best which is wreaking havoc with my body but more concerning with my body image, but clearly not enough to do anything about it. I stopped and walked three times on the way up.

As I reached the top I thought back to my post almost four years ago about the first time I made it all the way to the top and back (I Conquered Hickory Grove Road!). As I thought about it I wondered how many times I have completed the run since then--I can only remember once.

Now I was even more frustrated and frankly embarrassed. I'd made such a big deal out of that post and how I'd overcome all these "obstacles" and compared it to living life. How many people had read it? (119--I have since looked) How many people thought I had accomplished something "momentous" (at least to me) and I've only been able to replicate it ONCE!

When I got back to my cabin I reread that dumb damn blog and the ending line immediately jumped out at me but instead of reading, "I made it to the top and back--and I'll do it again." I read in a flashing neon sign--LOSER, HYPOCRITE.

I took a deep breath, not too deep I'd just finished running--made it all the way back down) and thought back to the summer of 2014. I remembered how I thought it would be my last time there for awhile. I remembered how I thought we'd gone through so much---little did I know....

It wasn't my last time there--in fact I'm there quite frequently now, and part of that reason is because my children wanted to me to continue to be there with them. It has become a place for us to be together and bond with few distractions (and a few eye rolls every now and then). I've witnessed them growing into amazing young adults and leaders in the community. I started feeling a little better...

It didn't last. "How can you feel better?" I asked myself, "You've been coming every summer, fall and spring for four more years and you can only remember ONE other time making it?" Well the truth is, I can't remember that many times even trying....

What I can remember is waking early and choosing to stay in bed and read or waking early and going up to the dining hall for coffee--sometimes I'd run into other people and we'd sit and talk. I can remember waking early and walking down to the river where I sat and watched the sun come up. I can remember waking early, sitting on the front porch of Kohler cabin and watching the camp come alive. 

"The other truth" I thought to myself, "is since that dumb damn post which isn't seeming quite as horrible, a lot has happened. A lot that has been far from easy." I left a job and a parish I loved; Chris was downsized; we faced family addiction, recovery, addiction, recovery, addiction and now recovery; three of the four children left home and one is on the brink; there has been illness, concussions (LOTS), orthopedic problems, and friendships lost. There has also been friendships gained, a call to a parish, as rector no less, a call to youth ministry, a job for Chris 80 miles away, and great love and respect found in the family. 

I'm still frustrated I'm out of shape; I'd still like to be able to run Hickory Grove Road multiple times this summer without stopping. But, I also realize those mornings when I chose not to run, it wasn't because I was lazy. It was because of what my body, heart and soul needed--quiet and peace, friendships and conversations, reflection and respite. 

I reread the blog and this time what I saw were these words, "As I finished my run I thought how much Hickory Grove Road is like life.  There are steep uphills--there are challenges that seem insurmountable, and often you can't see what's around the bend.  You don't know if it's almost over, when the up ends and you get a short break."  I gave thanks that on that day almost four years ago I had no idea what challenges I would face. I gave thanks All Saints was a part of those four years, a place that harbored both me and my children from the storms of life. And I thought again that Hickory Grove Road is indeed like life--but it's not to be conquered. It's to be lived.

Over and over and over and over....

16 April, 2018

He's Not a Dog--He's My Husband

Years ago I had a realization....

Sometimes when I'd go out for "girls night" I'd hear other women talking about how things their husbands did drove them crazy--things that didn't seem to bother me. But listening to them I'd find myself getting all heated up too. After one of these nights I came home and said to Chris, "I'm not sure it's good for me to go out--I don't want to get mad at you about stuff just because it seems like what I'm supposed to do. I don't get mad about some of the stuff others do; I think I'm weird." (Choose whichever part of that you want to be the realization....)

What were these things? Things like leaving dirty clothes on the floor, not hanging up towels the way I like them hung, leaving a coffee cup in the sink instead of the dishwasher, not putting the throw pillows on the bed the right way, just to name a few. Why, you are asking, do you and did you not care? It's very simple--Sally.

I worked with Sally the year I was engaged. She was in her 50's and her husband was killed in a car accident. One time she said to me, "I wish I had one more day to pick up his dirty socks and not fuss at him about it; just one more day. I wish I still had his dirty socks." I have never forgotten those words and they have guided me (most of the time--sometimes I have indeed become the shrieking fish monger's wife) throughout my married life. So many times as I'm about to fuss I hear Sally.

I, in fact, began over the years to resent people telling me I should be irritated. Often it wasn't necessarily what was said but rather the verbage. I remember one incident when my mother asked me, "Why do you allow Chris to put a glass down without a coaster?" Now the truth is I would have preferred a coaster, but those words got under my skin like fiberglass gets in your hiney when you sit on insulation. (Don't ask...) "Allow?" I retorted, I'm not sure if I said it, but I know I thought it and still do--"it's his home too, and for the record he makes the money that pays not only the mortgage but for whatever is in the glass he sets down without a coaster. He can set the glass he paid for down on the furniture he paid for in the house he pays for wherever he wants."

At that time and for many years I stayed home with the children. Chris worked very hard and very long hours to make sure I had this choice. Now let's be clear--I didn't see it as "his" money--he can certainly attest to the fact I had no problem spending it, but for me it was a matter of respect and of creating a home that may not be worthy of Southern Living, but a home that was comfortable and full of love--Sally again.

I was reminded of this a couple of weeks ago. A friend was dropping something off. As we stood in the foyer you could see inside the 1/2 bath (the door was open which drives me nuts but you know that whole dirty sock thing...), the toilet seat was up and she said, "You haven't trained him very well." I felt my hackles rise and the same words came out of my mouth--"It's his house too."

The other night we stood in the kitchen talking about finances, taxes, and tuitions (my LEAST favorite conversations), and as we were talking I was filled with peace, comfort and an overwhelming surge of love for this man standing in front of me. We have built a life together--a life that is full. A life that has experienced ups and downs, pain and grief, joy and happiness, but a life we have lived together by each other's side--a life that is supportive and loving. "You know," I said, "We've always figured out a way. It's not always been easy, but we make it work. I truly believe we are going to be okay." I am sure he was thinking, "You just don't get it." because the truth is it doesn't seem like I do. He has always worried more about our finances--he has always shouldered that burden. He hasn't trained me. Instead he just looked at me, smiled and said, "I hope you're right."

As I sit in front of the fire (which is SOOOOO wrong by the way--it's April 16th) this morning on his 50th birthday, I am so grateful for this life we have together. I suspect in the years to come he'll continue to leave the toilet seat up, and I'll continue to let him worry about money.

We're not really good at that training stuff, but we're really good at us.

if you doubt our lack of ability to train--come visit and meet our dogs...just sayin'

13 April, 2018

I Thought I Hated My House

A couple of weeks ago as Chris and I drove up to our house after being out, I thought to myself, "I really don't like this house." And then rapidly my thoughts were flying (yes it even happens in my own head and I have to keep up)--"I mean it has no curb appeal." See you learn words like that not because you're a realtor, but because you have moved so many times....

Sitting on the bench--no one stared
It really doesn't have curb appeal; it's off center; it needs new windows; frankly, it's ugly--when we moved in almost 8 years ago I told Chris I wanted to put a big porch across the front. Hence for 8 years I haven't wanted to spend any money landscaping because surely we'd put that porch on soon and it would be a waste of money to then rip up the landscaping. (I can be frugal when I want to be--or rather when I'm being manipulative about something I want.) I did put a bench in the empty space, and idea Chris thought was "nuts" until I sent him picture after picture of other houses that have them (manipulation again)
--his response, "Fine, but you better sit on that bench in the middle of the bed even though people will stare at you."

Just as quickly, however, I thought as tears filled my eyes. "No I love this house. It has so many memories--so many things have happened within these walls. It's not what the outside looks like; it's what happens inside--the love, the laughter, even the tears, and I love the home we have established here." I stepped outside to take a picture just to remind myself. As I stood there in the dark I thought about so many things that have occurred in this house. I thought about the broken windows and the broken dreams, the literal and figurative ceiling collapsing around us, the sound of feet thundering up the stairs in fits of rage and the sound of feet thundering down the stairs to welcome someone home. I thought about the many people who have passed through our doors, sat at our table, slept in our beds, filled our lives with friendship.

Fast forward--Wednesday I was planting the Easter lilies we had on the altar this year. I remembered
how last spring after Chris had taken a new job which requires him to travel 80 miles each way we thought about moving. We started looking at property further east just as the lilies began to spring up in what I call my resurrection garden. It broke my heart. I couldn't imagine leaving all these lilies; they were part of our story, part of our lives.

I have been planting lilies in the garden for 7 years--lilies, tulips, and hyacinths from St. Mark's, Calvary, St James and now St. Thomas. There's no real organization--no plan (which probably makes my neighbor across the street who is a landscape architect insane). Instead each year I just plop a few more in the ground.

As I was planting I began to think specifically about the lilies and how I have no idea which are from which year or which church. I have no idea which were in memory of someone and which were in thanksgiving. I suspect some I have planted didn't survive and others have spread. It's kind of like the 8 years in this house--all of these experiences, those memories, these planned and unplanned times, they intermingle--the good and the bad. I thought about how some relationships developed inside these walls have spread bringing in others and some have stopped blooming. I remembered from previous years, and from looking at the lilies beginning to push through the ground that they come up over a few weeks but at different times blooming when they're ready as though they each have their own time schedule, their own way of being. I thought about each of my children...

This morning I was planting one more time--I was trying to replant some lilies that were pushed
down by yesterday's fierce winds and to plant the mums the altar guild insist I take because "no one else wants them." Some of the lilies I could replant and they again are standing up straight, some are propped against one another and some are lying on the ground. But they are all part of the garden--they all belong and they are all beautiful.

I thought about each of the children and Chris and myself--we have all had times over the past 8 years when we stood tall, times when we needed to be propped up by others around us, and times when we felt like we just couldn't get up. I hope and pray that every one of us knows to our very cores that in this house and in this family we all belong and we are beautiful in our own ways.

I was giggling as I planted the mums--it felt like Mikey in the life commercial--no one else wants them so give them to Katherine. To be honest, they're not my favorite flower--but as I dug the final holes I thought, "I hope that our home has been and will be a place where everyone feels welcome and particularly those who 'no one else wants.' I hope our home is a place where those who stand tall, those who need to be supported, and those who need a place of rest and refuge will all feel they belong and know we believe they're beautiful. I hope our home continues to be a place of remembering our past, remembering our experiences and also a place where new ones will be planted every year."

I stepped back to take pictures of this messy, chaotic, spontaneous, unplanned beautiful garden that now spills over to where my porch is supposed to be and I quietly said aloud, "I love my home."

09 April, 2018

The Cross and the Sea Turtle

I love jewelry--I admit it I really do love jewelry which makes me sort of cringe just typing it, but truth is truth even if it seems crass and materialistic. I guess it's lucky for me I have a husband who loves (or at least likes/tolerates, no I think he does love it) to give me jewelry. I have also been blessed with pieces of jewelry handed down to me from my grandmothers, my mother and other family and friends.

The weird thing is, as much as I love jewelry and as much as I have, it is rare I change it up (except my rings which is a whole other blog post). On a typical day I wear either my gold or silver charm bracelets and three necklaces.

The night I received the Golden D
I wear my grandmother's pearls given to me on my 16th birthday, my Daughter of the King cross (The Order of the Daughters of the King), and a gold D my sister-in-law gave me (and she and my other sister-in-law also have them). All three of these pieces say something about my life, something about what's important to me, and so I wear them 24/7...until.....

Right before leaving for spring break with Caroline my pearls broke (none were lost) which may have something to do with wearing them 24/7. It caused a brief moment of anxiety because I didn't have time to get them fixed before I left, but I was going to Jamaica, so I decided to relax....

Wearing her sea turlte--24/7
Wednesday evening Caroline and I were in the gift shop looking at jewelry. I wanted her to pick something that she would have forever that would remind her of the trip. She chose a turquoise sea turtle charm, and she wanted to wear it right away. It did not, however, have a chain and the shop didn't have any. With no hesitation I took the chain from around my neck that held my DOK cross and gave it to her. I slipped my cross into the inside pocket of my purse reminding myself to put it
away safely when I got back to the room.

An important part of the DOK cross is the cross was given to me at the service of admission in 2005 and I never take it off--we are asked to wear it as a constant reminder of our vows to follow our rule of life which incorporates a rule of prayer and a rule of service.

I kissed Caroline goodbye and headed back to our room.

After getting into my pajamas I opened my purse to retrieve the cross. I couldn't find it. I didn't panic, yet. I searched again, and again, and again. My panic began to rise and I dumped the contents onto the bed being careful nothing fell to the floor. I still couldn't find it. Without changing I ran back to the gift shop, explained to the clerk about the cross and its importance and together we scoured the floor and the shelves. No luck.

I returned to my room and decided to wait until morning and begin the search again. Just as I was turning off the light Caroline came in. "Did you put the cross up safely?" she asked. I told her I couldn't find it and she became visibly upset, "let me see your purse." I told her it was fine we'd look in the morning.

Morning came, but no cross was found. I knew Caroline would continue to be upset even though it wasn't her fault; she knows the importance of the cross. As I sat on the beach thinking about how to keep her from being upset, and if I'm honest how to keep me from staying upset, I thought about the vision and the mission of the order.

Vision Statement of the Order

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, our vision as Daughters of the King is to know Jesus Christ, to make Him known to others, and to become reflections of God’s love throughout the world.

The Mission of the Order

The Mission of the Order is the extension of Christ’s Kingdom through
Prayer, Service and Evangelism.

"Isn't that what I was doing by sharing my chain?" I definitely think so (in addition to a mama wanting her baby to be happy). I was at peace. 

My sea turtle
When Caroline woke up I told her we weren't going to worry about it; in fact we were going to go back to the shop and I was going to get a charm to coordinate with hers so I too would remember this time together. She was still upset, but agreed we weren't going to dwell on it.

In the meantime I will wear this pearl cross gifted to me...
I will replace the cross, and it will be just as important to me as it always has been. The original cross is somewhere--perhaps someone has it who will look up what the words on it mean and will be touched, perhaps someone will even take the time to return it to the Order. I don't know, but I do know I will always look down on my wrist and see the turquoise sea turtle and remember the trip; I will remember Caroline caring about my loss; and I will say a special prayer of thanks for our relationship. 

31 March, 2018

Holy Saturday Waiting

Over the last few days I have been asked repeatedly when SK and William will be in for Easter, and I've had to reply, "They're not coming home this year." Sometimes there is silence; sometimes there is a hug; sometimes there is "I am so sorry." See people close to me know (okay you don't have to be close to me I pretty much announce it to the world), a) how important having my family around anytime is and b) how important having them for Easter is. But this year they couldn't make it work, and the truth is I've felt sorry for myself.

I have spent time today getting things ready for tomorrow--placing the Easter baskets out to be filled and hidden, setting the table, picking up the lamb for Chris to grill, making the my pies, and trying not to think about it. But I can't stop thinking about it...

I can't stop thinking about today being Holy Saturday and how most of us live most of our lives in Holy Saturday--a time of waiting. Yes there are times we live Good Friday days--days of unbearable grief and pain, and there are also times we live Easter days--times of great joy. But many days are just in between and days of waiting--waiting for jobs, college acceptances, retirement, diagnosis, friendships, love and the list goes on.

I thought about the waiting for me right now--waiting until the time we're all together again which I know won't be long and then my heart went back to Good Friday and I began to think about other mothers' waiting....

Waiting for the pain of losing a child you sent to school and he/she never came home to lighten

Waiting to reconcile with a child

Waiting for addiction to stop

Waiting for court dates

Waiting for a soldier to return home

Waiting beside a hospital bed as death slowly creeps in the door

Waiting for a diagnosis and hoping it won't crush you

Waiting to get pregnant

Waiting for your child to find a friend

Waiting for you child to confide in you

Waiting for your child to stop hurting

Waiting for your child to start eating


Holy Saturday is a time of waiting but because we know Easter has and will come, we wait with hope--an active hope that knows no matter how hard the waiting is, how painful, how lonely, God is at work in the world around us. So instead of wallowing in my own sadness, I decided to continue my preparation with that hope filling my heart--hope for all waiting.

Yes tomorrow I will miss having SK and William around the table, but we've filled their spots with close friends, and yes I will miss having 4 children hunt their Easter baskets, but I've already sent SK's and William's to them and maybe they can convince their roommates to hide them (now that isn't Christian hope but rather wishful and probably never going to happen hope....). And tomorrow as we celebrate Easter, I will also say a special prayer for all mothers everywhere waiting.