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WHAT GIVES YOU LIFE?

The stomach flu really has a way of putting things into perspective. You’re forced to rest, but you’re restless. You need to eat, but, in this rare instance, you’re not hungry. A normal part of your daily routine suddenly feels like you’re climbing Mt. Everest. And, you need to talk to someone or something because you feel so isolated, but you just don’t have any words and listening hurts your ears and ankles, and well, everything. You stand in solidarity with the toilet and trashcan, ever so grateful they exist.

Today, I’m wearily humming, “What a difference a day makes. Twenty-four little hours.” And, though I feel one million times better, my energy level is still not quite up to par. Nevertheless, every single thing in my home is being disinfected by my trusty diffuser that methodically dispenses Thieves, a natural disinfectant, into each room leaving everything free of my stomach flu funk. Friends, listen closely, if you’re going to bring the funk, don’t bring the stomach flu funk. Pinky swear right now that you will never ever do that.

My Mamaw Lide used to say to me, “Be grateful for the days when everything goes as it normally would. Because, some day, it won’t be that way.” I know it’s been a few weeks since I touched on this, but normal is good. Normal is sacred. Normal keeps us grounded. When we’re healthy and able to do the things we would “normally do,” it’s a gift- rarer and more precious than we realize.

Last week, the Wild & Woolies and I discussed the things in our lives that are “life giving.” You know, the things we do for ourselves that are good for us deep, deep in our souls. And, interestingly enough, the majority of those “life giving” things discussed were all normal, everyday things like being outside, serving, spin class, reading a good book, fellowship, spending time with family, cooking, enjoying the company of friends, playing with our animals and so on. Nobody said, “travel all the continents or run an ultra marathon or attend New York Fashion Week. No, they shared simple, attainable, normal pleasures in life.

Today, one of those normal pleasures was the piece of toast I ate as it popped out of the toaster, hot and crisped to perfection. It made me think of my Mamaw again. When I was a little girl, I would stay overnight with her. Although there were many rooms I could have slept in at her home, I chose to sleep with her in her feather bed. It was so soft and cozy, and I always felt so safe and loved next to her. Though she would wake up ahead of me to enjoy her coffee and toast, when I did open my eyes, she wrapped me tightly in a blanket and put me on the couch to watch the cartoons I loved so much. And, before I knew it, she served me perfectly toasted, buttered and jellied toast and juice (jelly and juice from her wild plum and grape vines, of course), because this little princesses “life giving” stuff was unfolding, and my precious Mamaw wouldn’t allow anything to interrupt that. You see, part of what gave her life was giving it to others. Isn’t that a precious legacy. I could never fill her boots but maybe a ballet flat (someday, hopefully).

Today would have been my Mamaw’s 103rd birthday. She lived until she was almost 99 years of age independently. She was a marvel of a human being, lived a life fully surrendered to Christ, put her family first, served, took in people who had no place to go or nobody to turn to, loved her in-laws like they were her blood, offered kindness everywhere she went and was the first female in the state of Texas to be named “Best Beef Producer” (twice, by the way). Friends, here in Texas, we take our beef seriously. This award was like Viola Davis’s Emmy. A female winning such an award was a major breakthrough.  Mamaw was very much a trailblazer. I remember her saying once, “I just don’t understand all this women’s lib talk.” I said, “Mamaw, you’re at the forefront of that. No woman does what you do in the cattle industry.” She replied with conviction, “Well, I wasn’t trying to make a statement. I was just trying to keep it all together and survive.” See what I’m saying, she as a human and the time I spent with her and the memories I have with her continue to give me life to this very day.

Lastly, when she had something to impart, it was thoughtful and simple. Today, friends, “Be grateful for for the days when everything goes as it normally would. Because, someday it won’t be that way.” The normal, simple pleasures in life are what give us life. Look at things from that perspective and see how full your cup really is.

Stay Divine,

JL PARISH

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