Trusting Joy.



This post isn’t really Yankee but wanted to share a tiny, brief moment of brilliance with you. 😉

In her book Daring Greatly, Dr. Brene Brown wrote something that greatly challenges me when life is good.

She writes that I won’t trust it. I won’t trust joy.

In her decade long research study on vulnerability she found that when things were going well and people were joyful,

instead of marinating in the moment, they distrusted.

They freaked out. In short, they experienced a “dread” that interferes with leaning in and celebrating the joyful event, person, or circumstance.

It’s the moments where you watch your child(ren) sleep and while your heart is overwhelmed with their (now quiet) presence in the world, the thought comes, “What if something happens to them?

It’s the car you finally have money for and as you drive off the lot think “What if I wreck it?”

It’s the new job, mended friendship, flawless day, or perfect moment where everyone did chores and the house is clean and you think, “Well, this won’t last.

It won’t last, so I can’t trust joy.

So we erase it. Minimize it. Forget that we found and did have that moment, time, circumstance of peace, joy, happiness… you name it really. We don’t trust it so we stop it.

What’s our choice? How could we stand it to lose what brought us such hope? (Because it really will NOT last and THEN what?)

Let me share what I’m learning on the other side of “then what”…

Our family bought a house three years ago on 2 acres of land. As a city girl, I signed my name on the house not because of anything but the trees that soared 150 feet. I imagined – and then faithfully did – have coffee on our back deck every morning. I went out amidst them when there was conflict in the family. Tall, mystical, and glorious, they often pointed me heavenward when my eyes were too much on my toes. In fact, no one who ever visited us looked down when they looked at these trees.

Five weeks ago a freak storm came and blew down 15 of these trees, which is to say, nearly all of the mature poplar, oak, birch and “hardwoods” we had. The next morning  I literally watched a squirrel run up a tree whose top half was ripped off only to get to the top, stop and go back down. His nest was no longer there. My trees were gone.

As anti-treehugger as I am, I did the only thing I knew to do. Sit next to one that was laying on our deck, put my hand on the top part that never felt a human and say, ‘Thank you. Every day you were here you did your work for me. I don’t understand this, but I want to be here in acceptance and say ‘okay.'”

So, what do we do to trust joy?

Lean in, very hard. Soak up everything it has to give us precisely because it won’t last – but it’s HERE NOW.

Lean in because as we do, we will change into people who believe the good does come, the blessings DO happen.

Lean in with all our heart because when we do, we soak it in, and we become joyful. We become grateful. We become celebrators of the joy. We teach others to lean in to their good, their miracles, their lives.

Most importantly, when the joy leaves, the mark of gratitude is etched in our souls.

We can hold space for the joy that was and not deny it’s brilliance. Cry over it’s loss. And open-handedly accept the present.

This is the way to teach our kids to lean in to life, by example of the fleeting, the lost, the changing, the present.

All this because we chose to trust joy.



On August 2, this post was part of a blog tour to celebrate : The Declaration of You, published North Light Craft Books and available now, gives readers all the permission they’ve craved to step passionately into their lives, discover how they and their gifts are unique and uncover what they are meant to do! This post is part of The Declaration of You’s Blog Lovin’ Tour, which I’m thrilled to participate in alongside over 200 other creative bloggers. Learn more – and join us! – by clicking here.

Garlic Cures Homesickness




Although I chose to live in the south, I get homesick.

Sometimes it’s too much sweet drawl that I cannot drink down any more.

Or, driving 30 minutes for a Dunkin’ Donut because there are too many Krispy Kremes within 5 miles.

Sometimes, when I can’t easily get a donut from “home”, I begin to miss family.

When I begin to miss family, I miss weekend pizza, which was Gram’s choice so she didn’t have to cook that night. Hot scamotes (it’s cheese), homemade sauce, sausage with rye in it, and vibrant garlic.
We smelled like pizza going to bed at night.

When I miss weekend pizza, I figure out I haven’t had Italian bread, Italian ice, Portuguese rolls for sandwiches, or Italian pastries since I last visited home. And I’m not even Italian.

Today, I am one week away from going home.

Last weekend, God sent me garlic that I take as a nod of “I know, I know.”

At Old Salem’s Cobblestone Farmer’s Market I found Plum Granny Farm and 5 types of garlic.


They actually have 20 kinds that they grow, but only bring five  like the Georgian Crystal pictured above.

Not only am I no longer homesick, I have found the equivalent garlic of my youth, have had a mission all weekend to try out each type of garlic with sautéed mushrooms, and am giving my foodie friends little sacks of labeled garlic for Christmas.

Yes, before you ask, I will let you know what my results were on the different flavors for a future blog post.

For now, let’s just say that I have found my honey hole for all things garlic and my defense against the vampires of homesickness.



My “life GPS” functions well. Vacation now. Time for a house in 2.8 years. Good friend ahead. However, my location detector is often on sleep mode, if I even have one. There is not a hospital in existence that I could navigate without meeting four employees, some who just walk me where I need to go. Parking decks, major cities, and sometimes IKEA are the bane of my directional existence.

Let me introduce you to my husband, Kevin, aka Mr. GPS.

I have witnessed him in a city he’s never been to, drive in the correct direction, and navigate exactly to his location – pre-Garmin days.

He uses his car’s GPS and Siri (iPhone wife) just to see their “suggestions”. He forces a 4th route and the distance and time is shorter every time. I think Siri has learned the words, “Thank you for the correction, Kevin.”

He mentally calibrates every mile if he’s in the right location or not – AND hold a conversation with me about family drama.

He can’t wrap his head around my inability to understand that EVERY interstate and route that is even numbered goes East to West. Every odd numbered interstate goes North to South. Then I say “But I-95 kind of goes East to South, don’t you think.” Yeah, I take those questions elsewhere.

I have been in the car when he has taken a shortcut because of traffic. He quips, “Well, I haven’t been this way before, but I figure it will come out where we need it to.” Of course it does.

You know what would happen if I took a random road I’d never been on to get around traffic? We’d be 90 miles out of our way, find a great Turkish diner in the middle of nowhere, get invited to their kid’s graduation party, and be glad we got lost. AAA would escort us out the next day.

There are many other qualities and traits he has and over the course of the blog, I look forward to sharing these, but from here on, for the most appropriate of reasons, I will most likely refer to him as “Mr. GPS.”

When Paper Men Matter

Not everyone who matters in our lives is well known to us. Sometimes, in expanding the thinking of who “counts” we find a few surprises.

About a month ago, my mom and I chatted on the phone, helping me refresh my Yankee accent. Midway through talking about the weather and her job she asked, “Do you remember Jimmy?”

“Ma, there’s a million Jimmies.”

Her voice shifted. “Jimmy who sold the papers on the corner. He waved to everyone.”

I noticed her use of the past tense.

“Well, Jimmy and sometimes his wife sold papers. About a week ago,  I finally bought one from him and asked, ‘How are ya?’ I don’t even know why I asked. He said they were moving to a new apartment that day. They were trying to save money and found a cheaper place. It must have been about two days later I saw his wife on the corner. I parked and walked over to her.  ‘How’s the apartment? Where’s Jimmy? Is he sick?’  She said,  ‘They stabbed him.’

She told me he went upstairs to the neighbor’s to complain about the music and as he walked away the guy stabbed him, she got him to the hospital, but he died. I just saw him two days ago, waving at everyone and now he’s dead.”

I listened to my mom’s voice break off  and she began to cry. “Life changes so fast Vikki. Take nothing for granted, even if it’s as simple as a paper man.”

A paper man. Or the postal carrier. Or my favorite register woman at Wal-Mart. They all create a part of my life that matters. Mom is right – I shouldn’t take them for granted because the people you would notice as “not there” are the ones to notice as “there.”

About a month later, I’m driving to the grocery store. I’m listening to a local radio station that has upcoming events.  I hear an interview with an internationally known artist who took photos of – get this- guys who sell the paper on the street. Christine Kirouac has had her media installations exhibited from Canada to Cairo and she’s doing an art show on – paper men.

It’s called “Hawkers” and is featured at the Delta Fine Arts Center until June 30th 2012.  On opening night, May 27th, some of the paper men will be there. The exhibit will continue through June 30th.

Yes. I’m going. I’m taking hubby (aka Mr. GPS) with me because mom’s right – I need to take nothing for granted, not even paper men.

I’m going to go despite the fact that I don’t see paper men in my daily travels. I don’t even buy the paper. I have never even said “hello” to one because they always look busy.  I will be a social mess.  “Hi, I’m here because my mom’s paper guy, uh, hawker, in Connecticut got stabbed and the area is rallying around his widow as she sells papers, and I want to let you know I’m grateful that you are part of our community even thought I don’t pass you guys. Um, I almost never buy the paper, but I will and I’ll try to find you.” And, I’m sure the artist or hawkers I talk to will give me a glazed stare and that’s okay.

Why am I going? Why push through the anxiety when it’s just easier to NOT go?  I’m hoping to connect dots, heed mom, and learn to be open and aware. Maybe I will realize that my life and idea of community can be expanded to “count in” more people than I realized .

P.S. Below is the link to the Connecticut paper man’s widow and others speaking to a reporter.  But the impact her husband had on the community can be seen and felt throughout the piece.

Kiss Mah Grits

At 10 years old, I fully understood North and South.

I knew diners and waitresses and I knew we didn’t have anyone like Flo where I grew in urban Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The TV show Alice was in full swing. Florence Jean Castleberry (the original “Flo”, sorry Progressive) ended every conversation she didn’t like simply stating, “Oh, kiss my grits” and walking away. She was endearing, not rude. Others responded with laughter, head shakes, and often, giving in to her way. By the end of the show in 1985, she lobbed “Kiss my grits” to Mel, Alice, Vera, and nearly every truck driver that shot her a line.

In my 10 year old mind, Flo was magic. She told people what she thought. She was nice, but she wasn’t nice. She didn’t care whether people thought she was nice or not. Flo was from Texas.

I needed to be with Flo’s people.

I practiced my accent and exagerrated, “kiss mah grits”, using it properly on my sister, and behind teacher’s backs.

I was committed to learning the language of Flo’s people. It was where I wanted to be- the South.

As I grew, my internal compass always pointed anywhere but North. My first boyfriend was from the South. I watched North and South, one of the first mini-series,  on TV. I watched Dukes of Hazard and Dallas, and sprouted an intermittent southern drawl.  I was determined to be where I “belonged”.

At 17, I asked God where I should go to college. (Yep. A praying person even before moving to the Bible belt.) Different people would bring up North Carolina like a trail of uncooked grits poured before me. I was accepted to a university. However, in my mind, this was a temporary reroute from getting to Florida where I would train dolphins. Freshman biology and motion sickness proved that God knew best. I never trained dolphins. I never went to Florida. I stayed put. Right where I belong.

From the coast to the Triad, North Carolina continues to host me and I’ll never leave. This makes me not only a Yankee, but a damn Yankee. Been told that more than once. I’ve also been welcomed, invited in, and shared sweet tea with the finest the South has to offer.

I have yet to even visit Texas. Flo just needed to get my compass pointed in the right direction.