Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cheeky Aussie, What a Hide!

This is really cheeky so I hope you will forgive me using this precious Writers Rising Space to appeal to my fellow writers who rise for their help :-)

You know how I run lots of giveaways on my website, well this time I need your help to win something.

There is a competition on Mama Mia website to win a Samsung Digital Camera.

I could dearly do with one of these babies to assist with this website.

To win, people simply have to vote on my comment, by giving it the thumbs up ( a click)

It only takes a couple of seconds

Please help me win the camera by clicking here and giving me the thumbs up 

My comment is under SHARNI as you will see I am well in the lead, but anything could happen between now and Thursday and the only way I can win is to get the support of my fellow writers! 

I will be MOST GRATEFUL for your thumbs Writers Rising - and again - please forgive me using this space for such things ;-)


We are all a sum of our formative years. If we're fortunate, we were surrounded by loving parents, grandparents and extended family that weave together a fabric of care, support, encouragement and guidance. The time of year is spring and my thoughts always turn to home, up on the side of a ridge in East Tennesee. I am drawn back home to walk the fields and see the flowers blooming, and revisit the places of my childhood.

I speak often about my large, loving family. We were fortunate to live next door to my maternal Grandparents; in southern terms, just across the field. Further down the lane was my Great Aunt Carrie's house. Aunt Carrie and her mother raised flowers to sell downtown on Market Square at the turn of the century...early 1900's. I have described in past blog articles that during my childhood, the remnants of all of those flower beds still existed all around our combined properties. I learned all manner of information and details about flowers, gardening and the old ways of tending the land from these relatives.

For me, this was part of the quiet strength of my own foundation. My Grandfather was a farmer who raised tobacco for a living, among other jobs. Because he was raised around flowers, he had an appreciation for them that continued throughout his life. When springtime would approach, he would often take us with him to the Farmer's Co-op to buy seeds for spring planting. Or, if you happened to be visiting their house on the days in the fall when the seed catalogs came in the mail, you sometimes could sit quietly in his lap and peruse all the colorful pages of flowers and vegetables and 'help' plan for the following season's crops.

My Grandfather was a hard person, with his own set of struggles and faults, but he was a very good grandparent. One year when I was still small, we were outside playing and heard Grandpa's tractor start up. This was the signal to race across the field and investigate what exciting, interesting task was on the day's agenda. That morning, Grandpa was tilling and seeding the fields between our house and his. When we approached, asking for the inevitable tractor ride, he obliged, taking each of us up on his lap for a turn around the field.

I can remember that so clearly, to this very day. Sitting there on his lap, surrounded by his arms, watching his large, work worn hands on the wheel of the tractor. It is one of the most secure feelings I believe I have ever felt, just being blissfully happy to be with him, experiencing riding on the tractor, chattering away, occasionally making him laugh. When my turn on the tractor came to an end, he helped me down, then knelt next to me and pulled packets of seeds from the front pocket of his overalls. The pictures on the seed packets were of daisies, all colors and varieties. There had to have been a good 20-30 packets, as the fields were large that he was tending. Grandpa told me the seeds had been on sale at the Farmer's Co-op and he decided he would buy them for me. Just me. It is important to note here that there are 27 grandchildren (my first cousins) in the family, so one child being singled out was not common. Yet my Grandpa did this with us at various times. He would take my brother hunting, show my sister how to use woodworking tools and he would share flowers with me and my Mom.

That year, the fields were sown with a combination of hay and all those thousands of daisy seeds. It looked like something out of a movie when the flowers bloomed...white ones, pink ones, yellow, pale blue...and a few black-eyed Susans scattered about. I would come home with arm loads of bouquets daily, there were so many of them blooming.

Why is this important enough to write a blog article about it? I could say it is as simple as it being a lovely childhood memory and that would be true. I could leave it there and this would still be an enjoyable post to write and read. Yet it was more than that. Growing up in a home with an absent father, my Grandpa became our primary father figure. In later years this would also grow to encompass all five of my Uncles, but to begin with, my Grandpa was my first male hero.

That one summer where he did something that he probably didn't spend much time thinking about, was a moment where I was shown that small gestures matter. It was also a moment where I felt loved in that unique manner that all small children accept as their due. I was loved, cherished and cared for to the point that this busy, oftentimes gruff and brusque man took time to do something whimsical and thoughtful in a manner he knew would absolutely delight my little girl's heart.

As the years went forward, he would bring flower bulbs to my Mom and I to plant around our property. Sometimes they were the old fashioned, familiar flowers such as daffodils, muscaris (we called them miniature grape hyacinths), peonies, hydrangeas, and my favorite flower, Lily of the Valley. Occasionally they would be something that caught his eye because they were unusual. It was his awkward, silent way of showing us he cared, I think. Now, as an adult, when springtime approaches the Tennessee Valley and everything blooms fresh and new, I feel a sense of closeness to my roots. When I see everything greening up and all the flowers blooming, I automatically reconnect with those childhood memories.

Scents and music are the strongest triggers for memories, so it is no small wonder that I am most at home during the spring and summer months. When life is fast paced and hectic, I think we all revisit those quiet moments in our minds. Clearly in my mind will always be the bright memory of a little girl standing next to a tall Grandpa with his hands full of flower seed packets, and a sweet moment just for that one little girl. It reminds me that I am loved unconditionally and that the size of the field where those flowers were sewn that spring, vast and endless to a child's eye, represented a wide open vista. Even at that young an age, I was aware of underlying messages that God/Universe sends us. That day, the message was simple. "You are loved." And it was spelled out in daisies from the hand of a Grandpa to a Granddaughter.

As an adult, I have carried that moment with me, deep in my memories and heart. I have paid the moment forward regularly, paying attention to small things that matter to those around me. I am a sum of my childhood and my life experiences, and it makes me smile to finish this specific post and realize that once again, the reason so many people comment on my loving nature is because of the solid foundation I was given in childhood.

If you are reading this blog post, take a moment to cast your mind back and find a special memory to focus on where you felt that same warm blanket of love surrounding you. It may not be from your childhood; indeed, it could be from a week ago, but if you take a moment to concentrate, you will find it. With enough time and thought, you will find many such moments, for you are equally beautiful and equally deserving of the message, spelled out in daisies or in colorful script, or in nice, simple clean lines...that....You Are Loved.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me at Healing Morning blog.

A letter to my boys

Dear kids,

I love you.

I really do.

You have turned my life right around and made me a different man, a better man.

I wish I could be the kind of dad you deserve; a hero, a Superdad or a giant. I wish I could be there to pick you up from school, and go straight to the park for a game of football before dishing out some good quality, life improving advice about how to cope with growing up. I wish I could be there every night when you have your tea. I used to be home in time to do your bath and read you a story most nights, now I am not, believe me when I say I miss that. Even when I am at home to pick you up from school, I’m still working so we have to rush straight back to the house, and you get dumped in front of the TV while I go back to work. I know that you quite like the TV, but would be happy playing too – so would I.

Being a dad is much harder than I thought it would be. I thought I just had to do all the things that my dad did that I liked, not do the things that I didn’t like, and add in some things that I wanted him to do. Somewhere along the way that has got confused, it’s not always so straight forward.

Sometimes I’ve dug my heels in and got cross about things that I cannot even start to understand the reasons for now. It’s taken years to learn how to ignore the trivial fights and stick with just the important ones. I’ve made many mistakes on that front and probably still will for quite some time. Sorry, I’m not very good at that.

Daniel, you are incredible. You have such a thirst for knowledge that simply amazes me, you are going to go far mate, but I wish I could give you the 100% attention that you so desperately crave. I know how hard it was for you to accept a younger brother, and how much you have to put up with now, being followed about and adored by this boy. He ruins your games, breaks your toys and then runs off crying when you get cross with him, and this gets you in trouble again. How can someone you clearly love so much, cause you so much pain? It’s not just you mate, this has been happening for hundreds of years, ask your Uncle how it feels, I am his younger brother.

I’m sorry I couldn’t help you more when you were being bullied at school. I would have gone there for you if I could. I truly believe there are some things you have to sort out for your self though, and boy you really did. I told you to laugh it off and ignore them. I said they could only upset you if you let them, so show them that you weren’t bothered and they would move on. When your mum wasn’t listening I also mentioned that I didn’t expect you NOT to protect yourself if needed, I hope this didn’t confuse you. Since then you have done so much, and I know you are happier, you have done that yourself, and I am so proud. You have so many years left at school and there will always be problems like these, I really hope I’ve given you what you need to cope.

Jamie, you put up with so much, so patiently. Your lovely temperament and desire to play are rewarded, all too often, by being ignored while we deal with your big brother’s latest tantrum. You shrug your shoulders and play on your own, as your parents try and work out what to do with him, instead of doing something with you. Sorry son. I want you to know that we have spotted this happening, and are trying really hard to correct it. I will try my best to reward your behaviour with my time, which is all you really want, rather than giving that time to reward a different type of behaviour. This is surprisingly difficult to do, the theory makes sense but it is not easy, I will try harder mate. I’m so proud of how well you have coped with your first year at school. We were so worried about you because you were always so nervous and shy, but my goodness how you have grown this last year. Your confidence is amazing, you are amazing!

Boys, I know I don’t always get things right for you, and I hate that, but I am learning all the time, so hang in there. If I could protect you from every single piece of sadness and evil that this world will throw at you for ever, I would, but I know that I can’t. All I can do is teach, and encourage you to have the confidence and ability to face them alone. Remember when you do, I’m here.

I really don’t care what you want to be when you grow up and nor am I in a rush to find out, but I will fight hard for your right to have an opportunity to choose. I will try to help you develop into being whatever it is that you want to be. You both are blessed with good health and good brains; I hope you understand how lucky that makes you. You really can be anything!

Be happy.

Be healthy.

Be nice to your parents.

Do the best that you can at whatever you do, without comparing yourselves to other people. As long as you are trying your best, you will always be doing well.

Look out for each other.

Don’t do drugs.

As long as I’m alive, I will always be here for you; I’ll always be your dad. Come and tell me anything, whatever the problem is I will help. Oh I might be cross, I might be upset, I might even be gutted – but I will never turn my back on you when you need me, ever!

You are who you are, and I love you.

Dad x

Also posted at Glen' s Life