A Full Tank

Being a single Mom and financially stable, may not coexist at first, but it was the most rewarding season of my life. It’s been a long road, but rest assured the road will lead to greener pastures.

The journey of the single Mom offers a continual concern over money. We lived in the country and drove 30 minutes to the nearest grocery store. I’d become dependent on my truck’s gas gauge to be accurate and indicate when gas was needed, until that one time we ran out of gas. It’s unnerving to break down on a country road with your daughter, but we called for help and it came. That was the last time I depended on a gauge in my truck and from that day forward I kept at least half a tank of gas in him.

Time rolls by and you figure out how much you can spend each week. You ask for a raise at work and take side jobs for extra spending like Christmas and birthdays. You’ll pile pillows on the floor and lay down side by side only to stare at the ceiling fan. A conversation begins as light-hearted giggling, but becomes deeper until you realize your voices are now a whisper and tissues are needed. You’ll take turns cooking so they can be creative in the kitchen, knowing full well you’re going to clean up afterwards. Those are the most memorable meals.

Over time you make more money, or want fewer things, but somehow time and money line up. My truck has gone from having half a tank to a full tank, but he’s not the only one. My daughter grew into a young adult and moved into her own home this year, but thinking about everything we went through to get to this point has me writing this with a full tank.

Feature Photo by Reed Geiger on Unsplash

Practice the Toot

I went for my morning walk. If I can get out the door by 7:00 am, the air is cool, crisp and a delight to the senses. That didn’t happen this morning, it was more like 8:30 am, but I went anyway.

Stepping into my front yard, I hear a car coming down the road, but didn’t think much of it until I heard the horn. It was my neighbor from the end of the street and he always toots his horn when driving by. When I was a kid and on up into my 20’s, that was considered a greeting when someone tooted their car horn. It was to get your attention so you’d look their way to see them smiling and waving at you.

Maybe you didn’t realize the car horn was once used as a kind gesture. Similar to making your bed first thing in the morning, and putting the grocery cart into the cart return. These tasks aren’t new, it’s how we were raised.

My truck is over 10 years old and I cannot recall the last time I tooted my horn, if ever. To do this, you press on the horn with two, quick presses so it goes toot, toot. It’s something that will need practice, so the next time I leave home, I’ll have to drive by my neighbors house to practice the toot.

Slow is Free

I was walking the neighborhood, and saw some friends outside, so stopped to say hello. One had a question about tea filters, and the best method for loose-leaf teas. When describing the type bag I use, her husband began nodding his head, like he could envision what I’d described. He said, “I’ll just order some off Amazon and they’ll be here tomorrow, or maybe even tonight!” Everyone chuckled.

In January of this year, I stopped ordering from Amazon. Delivery is fast, but I was hugely disappointed in the quality of product. What I’d ordered looked as if it had been opened and for all I know, could have been used.

This made me look at other areas of my life in which I was paying for fast, and PayPal was another. To move money from PayPal into another account was immediate, for a price. They take a percentage of the money moved, which bothered me to no end, considering PayPal did nothing to earn the money. I was paying for convenience. You can move it for free, but they warn it may take 1-3 business days, but the money shows up in 24 hours.

Free takes more time. It helps is to pay attention and take note when you’re running out of something. To order it ahead of time and not pay an extra fee for fast, because in more ways than one, slow is free.

My Happy Place

There’s a place 15 minutes away, drive time, that feeds my soul. You need places like this in your life, and if you don’t have one, I encourage you to find it.

The sun was shining, but the air felt cool. It was day three of wearing the same jeans, but that’s the day you barely feel them on your skin. They fit so well the day before wash day. I added a snug fitting t-shirt, and a cable knit sweater for warmth. Slipped on some well-worn sneakers, and headed out the door.

When I arrived at Hill Country Water Gardens, I walked into the gardens and stood there, taking in the sounds around me. The sound of water splashing, birds singing, and the crunch of the sand as people walked by were the most prominent. A man who worked there saw me and said, “Good morning. How are you?” I grinned and replied, “I’m happy.” He smiled as if we shared the same secret.

My happy place specializes in outdoor water gardens, but they sell plants and pots as well. Every display is a presentation, and they sell work by local artist’s.

This face is at least 5 feet tall.

They winterize the fountains, and shut the water off in the cold season, but on this day, they had some running. My feet followed the sound of running water and splashing until I stood in what resembled an outdoor amphitheater of fountains. These weren’t on display yet. I’m thinking it’s where they stored them for the winter, and were just now testing them for leaks while letting them run. Each fountain had it’s own tone, but together they were a full ensemble. There was a child twirling in the midst of them like a mini ballerina.

The space felt like a sanctuary where the fountains were waking up after a deep sleep. Another employee walked by and said, “Good morning! How are you?” The same response came out of my mouth, “I’m happy.” She smiled and nodded in agreement, as I went on to share, “This is my happy place.”

The Throw Away

I don’t really know how old he is. I asked him once, “When is your birthday?”, and he looked at me and said, “Now Barbara…that’s just rude!”

I wasn’t asking to figure out his age. Just thought it would be kind to drop him a birthday card in his mailbox. This man is my neighbor and somewhat of a Guru. If I ever have a question about everyday life, I ask him because he will have an answer. If he doesn’t know the answer, he will find it.

There are clues of a well lived life. As of now, he lives alone with a couple of dogs, but get him talking about his past, and he refers to, ‘We’, so there was a ‘we’. He was in the Navy, and still has a love for the water. He used to own a boat, but I feel something tragic happened because he sold it, and doesn’t like to talk about it. When I tell him, “Mr. M, you have an answer for everything!”, he says, “No Barbara, I’ve just been here longer.” I’ve lived beside this man for almost 4 years, and still don’t know how old he is.

After Christmas I excitedly reported to Mr. M that my daughter gave me a cordless drill, so he wouldn’t have to walk over with his every time something needed fixing. He shared his philosophy with me about drills. He hasn’t invested in a new one in years, so the ones he buys are considered throw aways. They only last a year, or two if you get a good one. They’re refurbished and he picks one up at the junk shop for $20 as needed. I know he’s getting up in age, but it’s like he didn’t want to outlive a drill.

He’s looked at the really nice ones at the home improvement stores, but they’re expensive and an investment. What we invest into this life, determines the quality in which we get to live. That day we were having this conversation while sitting on his front porch, but as I stood to leave I told him…”Mr. M, it’s okay if your drill outlives you.” I saw him a month later, and he proudly showed me his new Ryobi drill.

Stay True to You

Over the weekend I was sitting on my bed recording a Marco Polo for my friend, and showing her some things I’d done to my room to make it more Haven-like. She Marco Polo’s me back saying she loved the flowers on the bedside table, and noticed I’ve had fresh flowers in my room for the past few weeks. My friend vowed to buy fresh flowers for herself at least once a month, and I encouraged her to do so.

In the Winter months I need a vase of flower’s in the house because I miss tending to the flower beds outdoors. I took care of them last Spring and Summer, but now they’re empty waiting for Spring. I miss getting my hands covered in dirt, so much so, I repotted an herb today using the kitchen sink. My daughter walked by slowly, but I was quick to admit, “There might be a bag of dirt in the kitchen, and I might be repotting a plant in the kitchen sink.” She just grinned and encouraged me to continue.

It’s important to do these small things for ourselves, especially in the Winter months. It’s our true self wondering why these things are suddenly missing from our everyday life. It’s a change in season, and fortunately for us, seasons do change.

An empty Voluspa candle container being used as a vase.

If you miss the season of ‘in bloom’, then by all means buy yourself some flowers and stay true to you.

A Blanket of Calm

It’s cold in Texas. My laptop says it’s 27 degrees outdoors, and to some states, that isn’t cold, but for Texas it’s cold.

The title of this post came to mind earlier this week, but I don’t know what to write. I live my life wrapped in a blanket of calm, and have written about calmness, but to sit down and share how to achieve it, the words are few. My life is so calm that my daughter gave me this magnet for Christmas as a joke, but it’s really not that life is calm. I’ve just learned to remain calm in this life.

To harness calm depends quite a bit on our environment. What and who we share our space with. To have calm, we need to practice having it, and display it in our daily life. My life hasn’t always been calm, but it was one of the most important elements I craved after my divorce. The quote by Winston Churchill comes to mind, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Disruptions are temporary, and there’s calm on the other side.

Blankets are prevalent in our home. They’re stored in a cubby in the den and laying at the foot of each bed. Earlier this week I just needed to envelope myself in warmth, so I grabbed a blanket, wrapped it around my shoulders, and immediately felt the warmth of calm. Give it a try.

I pray for your world to be covered by a blanket of calm.