Tuesday, May 12, 2020

“All I Ever Wanted to Be was a Milk and Cookie Grandma”

No one knew I love to write. It is my true purpose in life. I have always loved the written word, but I put it on the back-burner years ago. I had another plan that was not God’s plan. Dangerous ground to walk on my darlin’ ladies (and gents). I had a purpose without a plan. God was not in it. It quickly turned into an illusion and began fading out of sight.

Keep in mind, we mourn the past because the investment we made does not
 yield the return we expected.

Here are my faded, and renewed, dreams…may it create a fire in your soul to pick up the pieces of a broken dream and begin again. 

It is true, year after year, decade after decade my dream was to be a “milk and cookies grandma.” Even to the point of selling everything and relocating to be closer to the grandchildren.  It was my dream to be waiting at the bus stop every day with milk and cookies when they got off the bus. I wanted to love them, help them with their homework, and take them to ball practice. 

Nothing could stop me from wanting…waiting…wanting this “dream” to come true. Long-suffering and the eternal optimist, I ignored the signs and the apparent cracks forming in the foundation of my dream. No matter, it still came as a shock when I realized it was not to be.

Instead of the dream coming true, life happened. Jobs changed, and divorces occurred with spouses who took the children out of state. And that is the broad stroke of the tsunami that hit our family. The “dream” of being surrounded by grandchildren who lived close was rolling down the interstate. It had U-Haul written on the back of the truck. 

There is an old southern saying, “Don’t beat a dead horse.” I began to laugh when I thought of how many times I heard this growing up. My spirit lifted as I found humor in how I had “whooped” on that poor dead horse…for years. 

Another saying my good Episcopalian Grandmother would say to me is, “When God closes a door, He always opens a window. When He does Sug-ah, you be ready to fly.” 

When I thought of that wisdom, a fountain of excitement began to bubble up in my spirit. I remembered how she encouraged me to write. It took me back to a wonderful time and place when all things were fresh and new. When my cousin and I made frequent trips to the big house for a visit. The big house was where my Grandmother and Grandfather lived.

It had a huge magnolia tree in the front yard where my cousin and I spent hours climbing those big branches amid the huge magnolia blossoms. We would leave the big house surrounded by the aroma of those hardy but delicate flowers.

The big event was when Grandmother would fill two of her purses with candy, lipsticks, makeup, and little games. We could not wait to riffle through those purses discovering all the girlie treasures that were waiting on us! We always left happy, consuming the candy she had lovingly placed in those purses.

She put a five-dollar bill in there too. Our little hands would be busy racing to see who would find theirs first. I always found my money wrapped around a glitter pen. I have often thought these long years after, that it was her way of saying, “Virginia Mae, always remember to write.”  

A new life began to flow through my spirit as I recalled these times growing up. The happiness that occurred in my soul erupted into laughter.  Southern women don’t pull themselves up by the bootstraps, we learn to laugh as we “clean it up” to begin stronger than before. I had been sad for too long. It felt incredible to laugh again.

After prayer and a bit of contemplation, it became clear that I had found a new purpose. This time, the mission had a plan. With a keen desire, my grandmother’s encouragement, and a glitter pen, I began to write again. 

Now, I write about my deep south experiences and how they have fashioned me to become the southern lady I am today. And I would not trade it, or them, for all the brown sugar brownies and banana pudding I could eat. The memories mean all world to me…  

So, sugar-foot, do not give up on “all” your dreams, when one does not come true. No matter how much time and energy you put into it. If you look, you may find a hidden gem, a dream that is ready to be resurrected. 

And don’t kick up a fuss and act like a donkey when you do not get what you want! If you are blessed to live life, there will be many times you will need to course-correct yourself and go down a different path.

By the way, we do get to see and keep the grandchildren! I adore every moment with them. 

Oooh, I think I hear my sweet husband bringing me a fresh, steaming cup of coffee.  

He is going to get a big hug for sure!
 
Sinking into Pink Floral Pillows on My Chair with Glitter Pen in Hand,

Jinger, My Husband’s Queen

Friday, May 8, 2020

“Teach Me How to Flirt”


I was shocked and speechless as her words echoed through the phone that day. The lady who called me with this request is a very successful businesswoman. I didn’t answer her immediately. But here she came again, “I want you to teach me how to flirt. You Southern women must have this etched into your DNA and I want to learn from the best.”

I did not miss it the second time. It was loud and clear that this was a call for “help.” Even then, these words came tumbling out of my mouth, “You want me to do WHAT?!” She responded for the third time with the same request. She most definitely wanted to learn the centuries-old, wily art of Southern flirting.  

I could not understand her dilemma when she first approached me. Truthfully, I do not fully understand it now. Doesn’t every woman alive know how to wink, smile, and glance over her shoulder at a man for a little harmless flirting? Wasn’t softness, a sassy attitude and enduring strength encoded into every woman’s DNA?

Well, from this experience, I learned...absolutely, NOT!

If Southern women instinctively know how to flirt, and honey, we DO know how, then how and where did we learn? It caused me to mentally go back to the lazy days of childhood when I was learning and soaking up everything from the women around me. They all knew the art so well. How it tickled me with joy to bring up those memories.  

I was raised at the knee of goddesses. Female superheroes of their day. Women who often found a way to get what they needed and mostly what they wanted by their sheer elegance and grace. They were strong souls, but always the lady. Observing them flirt was more informative than a Vanderbilt University course in human relations. 

The movie “Steel Magnolias” is a typical depiction of women in the South. The lady who approached me to help her had already made millions owning apartment buildings in California. Her life had become hard as steel with no beautiful Magnolia flower in sight. She was unhappy and out of balance in her relationships. She was searching for the flower in herself and in her life.

The first time we spoke, she blew right past my statement that this was going to be her most significant learning curve yet. I even told her that she was NOT a good candidate for this type of coaching. She acted like I had not said a word. In her mind, nothing was stopping her! 

I happily accepted the challenge and looked forward to this coaching experience. And then…whoa-horse -whoa, buckle-up and pump-your-brakes! She never missed a beat as she blew the barn doors open with her forceful personality. She was too busy telling me everything she thought she knew about men and relationships - what worked and what didn’t work. 

I took the time to practice breathing and affirmations to center myself. As I breathed deeply, I said to myself, “Ok, Jinger, this is Grace Driven Leader, and she is going to learn this. No, she is not too far gone to learn the art of flirting.”

To my surprise, slowly but surely, she began to listen, learn and apply her newfound knowledge. It was remarkable to see her focus on each lesson with the same diligence as she did her business. She also realized that in the process of building her empire, she lost something very dear - her female sensuality. She had walked into a male-dominated world and became harsh and unyielding along the way to becoming successful. It had taken the toll on her feminine soul. 

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending. It didn’t matter where this powerhouse had been raised or where she lived now. She found the man of her dreams and became his “Steel Magnolia” in California.  

One lady to another, I am thrilled for her and for any woman who reclaims the joy in their life. 

You must begin somewhere. What are you waiting for?  

Ok, sugar-foot, I am going to the garden to pick Gardenias for tonight’s supper table. I’ll see you next week for more adventures from the deep South. 

Until then, you just remember: A wink, a smile and a soft word will calm the beast in most any man.
When… you know how to do it “just right!” 

Roaring Softly, 

Jinger, My Husband’s Queen

Friday, May 1, 2020

"Our Daddy's Taught Us to Reload"

If you have never held a rifle pointed into a cloudless sky and yelled "pull," chances are, you were not born in the South. By the time I was twelve, I had learned to lead the sight on a rifle the length of a loaf of bread when partaking in the hobby know as skeet shooting. With the gun against my shoulder and the barrel of the rifle sight staying ahead of the clay pigeon, I pulled the trigger. And BAM! It was blown to smithereens. This is known as skeet shooting. (No birds or other animals are involved.) 

Our Daddy's taught us to reload. We were taught to respect, not fear, guns. When I grew up, my father and uncle owned a gun club. They held competitions for skeet shooting throughout the year. This is where I learned how to handle a rifle and shoot skeet.

The the most memorable event was a men's only, once a year event hosted by the two of them. It was by invitation only with all the free beer, calf fries, and French fries the men could eat. Serious and just for fun shooting competitions were held. Each year, it lasted into the wee hours of the morning. In this world, securing an invitation was like getting a table at the Oscars. Most of all, it was for bragging rights and provided a year full of stories and good times to be told and remembered.

The young girls in our community learned early how to handle, reload and shoot rifles and handguns. Of course, all this was done in full make-up with a smile on our faces.  Hair coiffed and done up because, after skeet shooting, the girls would load up in the new Cadillac to go shopping at Smith's department store in the "city."  That was the way of women in the South when I grew up. And it was wonderful.

The hazards of smoking are now well known, but when I was growing up it was acceptable and trendy. I mean, have you ever seen smoke flowing from a woman's nostrils as she looks down her nose at another person? It is a sight to behold! One you will not forget. A grown man could be reduced to a puddle on the floor. 

Rich, poor or in between, there is a southern pride in men, women and children born and raised in the deep South. If you were not raised here, it could be challenging to understand. With a cup of Folger's coffee and a Salem cigarette in a crystal ashtray, the problems of the day floated away with the plume of smoke.  

The lip print and color of red lipstick on the cigarette butt was as incriminating as a fingerprint. Not all southern ladies smoked, but they did wear make-up and lipstick. Whether they were the "old sisters" my Dad had to dance with (previous blog) or had a day of hard labor ahead of them, they were put together. Ready to meet the day head-on like the steel magnolias we were raised to be.

The meanest thing I ever heard my grandmother say about another woman was, "Oh, Honey, she doesn't primp." She made a face like she had seen or smelled something very offensive. A woman's station in life did not matter when it came to whether she was presentable in the community. Or whether she was accepted. One of my earliest memories is that a pencil skirt, Hanes hosiery, and a pair of high heel alligator shoes would take you places few dared to dream.

Our Daddy's taught us to reload and our mothers and grandmothers taught us to cook. If you have never had a homecooked meal from a southern kitchen...Well, you have missed one of nature's most authentic pleasures. Now, don't get the idea you can come into a southern woman's kitchen and ask for a recipe. Or how long it takes to cook something. You will not get a clear answer because there isn't one. It is a pinch of this and a pinch of that. It all depends on the tastes and smells bubbling up from the pots on the stove and in the oven.  

There is a hypnotic grace in the deep South, one that cannot be duplicated. Even Hollywood is unsuccessful in its attempt to recreate a southern accent in actors who were not born here.

We are unique. So are you.

Ladies, if you are ever down this way, get ready for a good time!

No one will care if you whoop and holler and throw your hat in the air.

That is...if you have your lipstick on, your hair is done, and you carry yourself with pride.

With a Wink, A Smile, and One More "Pull!"

                                                      And Bam!

                                                      Jinger

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

“Go Johnny Go!”

“If you can dance, you can have any girl in the room.” That’s one of those magical sayings a good Southern Mother tells her sons, beginning at a young age.  My father told me that it sure proved to be true when he was young, so being a good Southern Momma, I passed it on to my boys. It worked for both generations.

What I wouldn’t give for one more night of laughter with my boys two-stepping and twirling across the kitchen floor. With George Strait’s voice booming across the airways. Those are some great memories!

The South was, and in many parts, still is a patriarchal culture. However, my Grandmothers were the “stealthy” backbones of their families. Make no mistake, they were shrewd and wise in their own ways. A quiet force my Grandfather’s had to reckon with when all was quiet, and no one else was around. So when my father’s mother wanted him to take dance lessons, the farm went on “hold” for that to happen.

“He (or she) can cut a rug,” is an old saying in the South that describes a person who can really dance. All eyes were on my Daddy when he “Cut a Rug,” Jitterbugging to “Johnny B Goode,” by non-other than Chuck Berry. It was priceless to see.

Grandmother was so proud of the way Daddy could dance that she had him practice with her “old lady girlfriends.” The ladies loved it and Daddy called them the “Old Sisters.” Secretly, I really think he enjoyed it too. Each time he would tell me the story, he would laugh and laugh. 

A not so subtle hint to all you guys out there: Ladies of all ages love to dance!

Dancing is a beautiful way to have some good ole down-home fun! It’s also an excellent exercise that’s good for your heart and circulation. The physical body is designed to breathe deeply and to move. Dancing meets all these needs.

Flow, or constant natural movement, is one secret to happiness and makes life worth living. Music and movement from yoga to hip hop can help release pent up emotions that could be compromising your health. Rock and Roll to the Texas two-step, at the very least, will create a better mood. 

With free time on the books, music is coming into awareness to speak to the soul. What song or music is bubbling up from inside you? During this unprecedented time in global history, what pleasant experience is music bringing to mind?

The joy of music and song will play a more significant role in my life than before this lockdown. I want to share with you the lyrics of Lee Ann Womack’s chart-topping song. She captures the essence of taking another chance in life. To believe in yourself enough to try one more time.

When you get the opportunity to step up your game, and you will, I hope you dance.

I did...

“I Hope you Dance”

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty-handed
 
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance


I hope you dance
I hope you dance


I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances, but they’re worth takin’
Lovin’ might be a mistake, but it’s worth makin’
 
Don’t let some Hellbent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to sellin’ out, reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance


I hope you dance (Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along)
I hope you dance


I hope you dance (Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder)
I hope you dance (Where those years have gone?)


I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance


Dance



It is never too much, and it is never too late. 

How about it? 

Let’s dance!

Rock and Roll,

Jinger

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

"Shhh…Don’t Tell, It’s a Secret"

If I had a nickel for every time I heard this growing up…

Everyone has secrets. Some are best to stay a secret and others are harmless.

For every saint, there is more than one sinner. If the body could speak, ooooh, what a tale it could tell. It's a good thing we are resilient. The heart will heal and the tears will dry.

The global quarantine has given us quiet time to reflect on life. Time away from the daily distractions. Time for secrets from the past to find a way to resurface.

When a memory comes to mind, consider it an opportunity. If it’s a sweet memory, enjoy it and feel it down deep in your soul. If it’s not pleasant, reflect on it. Your soul is reaching out to your mind to let you know it’s time to let it go - and let it go forever

Secrets in the south outnumber the stars in the skies. Some flow as deep and dark as the backwaters of the mighty Mississippi Delta. Others drift through the mind like a warm summer breeze. I have a long history with both.

One long buried secret from my childhood has made itself known during isolation. I thought this event was buried decades ago.

Perhaps I was wrong. 


Like it was yesterday, I could see my ankles were crossed as I was twirling around on the padded drug store stool. I had a long, iced teaspoon in my hand. I was reaching to eat ice cream from a tall, frosted, drugstore parfait glass. It was a beautiful day, and my kindergarten teacher’s husband came in and sat down next to my mother and me.

We said our hello’s and he casually asked if I wanted to go home with him. He told us that his wife and daughters were on their way home from shopping. The girls and I could play together for the rest of the afternoon. I was happy to leave with him.

There was no reason for my mother or me to suspect anything out of the ordinary. I got in his truck, smiled, and waved goodbye to my mother.

But this man had a secret…

I was only five years old. 
I was completely innocent.
I was about to see the dark side of man. 

My guardian angels were with me in force that day. When I found myself alone in an empty house with a man who had a dark secret. When he called my name, I walked down the hall into the last bedroom of my teacher’s home. I saw a man I knew and respected facing open closet doors with no clothes on.

For some reason, he was alarmed by my reaction. My family was a pillar in the small community, and he became terrified. I remembered my grandmother’s phone number. My aunt came to get me.

I held this secret for years. Not physically touched, I was emotionally burdened by trauma from someone I had trusted. As quickly as I had eaten ice cream earlier in the day, my childhood innocence was gone.

The secret was a heavy load for a five-year-old who had begun her day with her mother in the small-town drugstore.

When writing this post, I said a final goodbye to "Mr. M" with no emotional charge. 

I pray there is something you can let go of too. The event is not as important as how you have carried it mentally, emotionally and physically. Let it go. Your life is waiting.

Life is to be lived.

And for eating ice cream.

Blissfully Blessed,

Jinger 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Attention Walmart Shoppers

Tensions are running high due to the uncertainty we are all experiencing. It's been a rough three weeks for many of us, including me. We are a planet on lockdown, housebound for the first time in our personal history. It's different, unsettling and unnerving. We don't know if this will be life-changing too.

For the sake of transparency, I will use myself as an example of unusual behaviors during this quarantine. I've been housebound for over three weeks, haven't seen my grandson in a month, haven't eaten sugar in a week and have spent no time with my husband. I can see my real nails for the first time in a decade and I have over an inch of roots growth in my blonde hair.

I stand firmly on these factors as the reason I came very close to getting into a fight with a woman in the checkout line at Walmart today. (Yes, Walmart...) How cliche' is this? Just sayin', it's a good thing she was observing the six-foot rule.

Everything appeared normal when a woman, checking out in front of me, became hysterical. She began harassing me to move back further than the six-foot line by throwing her arms up in the air to make her point. My hair was covered, I had on gloves and I had a mask on. Understanding that her unhinged behavior had nothing to do with me, I gave her grace. Smiling from behind my mask, I willingly moved back three more feet.

Like a bloodhound on a scent, she unleashed her frustration on me to move back further. That is the exact moment, in my housebound mind, she crossed an invisible line. I firmly brought it to her attention that her hair was flying around like a banshee, she had on flip-flops and was not wearing gloves. Most concerning was that she wasn't wearing a mask. There was no protection from her verbal spewing. It could easily reach others in a thirty-foot radius - who, by this time, were all staring at us!

I have not behaved like that since...well, I don't remember. Maybe never. Growing up, my mother would say, "That's not pretty," about this type of behavior. In the deep south, it was all about being pretty in one way or another. Your looks, actions and the intent behind constant smiles were as important as your salvation.

After the verbal sparring between the two of us, the woman got control of herself to pay for her items and leave the store. I then moved up in the line to pay for my groceries, thankful for my background in psychology had taught me "people do things for their own reasons, not for mine."

As I walked out of the store, I was overcome with concern about the pressures and hardships the COVID19 pandemic is causing many people. Housebound, feeding children, paying the rent with little or no money coming in. It must be terrifying to all who are affected by this virus in different ways.

It's essential to be mindful that we've all stepped into the Twilight Zone together.

Give yourself and others grace.

I pray you and your family have safe passage through this unprecedented time. 

Jinger, "The Masked American"

Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Flexitarian

I cannot lie, I admit it. I got sucked into watching "Tiger King," a Netflix documentary. It has taken social media by storm. Maybe this is our way of finding something zany to connect about during this social distancing and quarantine we find ourselves relegated to.

As I watched the mishandling of magnificent wild animals, I wondered if this popular show would spike the shaming of people who still like and need meat for their protein needs. Healthy, humanely sourced protein for survival? There are many of us who do very well on the Paleo and Keto way of eating.

We don't escape the need for a variety of nutrients to feed the body. No matter what's in style or the new trendy way to eat. Food rituals can be powerful. Make sure you are aware of your own nutritional needs. 

Don't eat this, don't eat that. Count your carbs, calories, the fat you eat and write down everything you put in your mouth. Did you feel a touch of anxiety creep up your spine? I do.

One of nature's most necessary activities has been reduced to another job and another way to make a person feel bad about themselves. As if they have no discipline or order in their lives.

Where is the grace in all of this? Where is the joy that feeds the soul as it's feeding the body? Where is the balance that creates wellness in the spirit and the soul.

Don't give in to fads and food shame if you don't choose to eat a certain way. I don't want to give up on food pleasures I grew up enjoying. So, through trial and error I found a replacement for chocolate cake in a chocolate protein powder. There are many goods one on the market. As another healthy dessert alternative, I mix a full scoop with one-fourth cup of water in a small bowl and put it in the refrigerator. It makes a delicious, satisfying chocolate pudding.

Mother Nature provides a rich and vast buffet of sources of food. Find your food lane, your body stoke that satisfies your every need for joy, health and grace.

Happy Body, Happy Life!

Most of my friends are vegan and vegetarian. Their astrological signs are found in air, water and fire. I am the only earth sign, meat-eater in the bunch! Unlike my friends, I am very flexible in my food choices. Even though I am a "meat-eater," I don't care for the label.

We got creative and "The Flexitarian" was born!

Take care, be safe, enjoy your meals and live as healthy as you can.

Bon Appetit Friends,

"The Flexitarian "