Our Lives are in Chapters

Earlier this week we made a new friend.  One who is going to bulldoze a house to build a new one.  He let us spend some time in the house to see if anything was worth salvaging.

Here’s what I didn’t expect: the wide range of emotions I felt as we went through the house.

All of these:

Elation: I need shelves and this is the mother-load.

Anxiety: I know someone who could use all of this chicken wire. I know someone who could use this dishwasher. I don’t have a big enough truck. What will become of all of this!?

Embarrassment: Is this kind of like dumpster diving?

Greed: I want all of these old bricks. I don’t know what I’d make with them yet, but I want them. Just because I can. 

Awe: I haven’t seen one of these in 30 years. 

Humor: This IS kind of like dumpster diving. I am a dumpster diver.

Gratitude: So thankful for this opportunity.

Sadness: Look at these old papers and letters from the original owners. Receipts from her antique shop she ran, newspaper clippings saves, cards from loved ones.  These people are long gone now.  And from this pile of memories they were once very much alive.

Nostalgia: Walking through this old house is like deja vu: the blue carpet, the parquet flooring, the ceramic tile, the blue and white kitchen.

Nostalgia because 11 years ago we lived across the same golf course in a very similar home. We’d purchased it from a family friend. The house was deemed a tear down so basically we only purchased the land it was on. But a lot of hard work made it a home for us:

our Charlotte home back then 

ouroldhouse

I learned to reglaze windows, we renovated bathrooms, and every winter we had a huge oil tank refilled so we would have heat.  I loved the history. I loved finding old photos of the family who lived there before us. I loved finding traces of the old wallpaper and bits and pieces of past lives in the big scary basement. And while working in the yard we would get visitors from the golf course, people would stop by and say: you live here?  this is amazing. And it was a source of pride. And then one day we decided to walk away from it…we sold it to another family friend who we knew would tear it down and build something brand new:

the rubble of our home

bulldozedhouse

Brett: Would we have been happy in this life?

Me: I don’t know. Maybe. It’s all relative.

Brett: I guess we’ll never know.

Me: And that’s okay too.

Oh the questions: Would we have eventually torn down the house and built a larger one? Would we have been able to appreciate such a beautiful home with huge newer homes going up all around ours? Would we still be working at the banks we’d worked at?  Would we have enjoyed the country club life?

Does any of it really matter? It’s just one or two chapters.

The thing is, earlier this week, we ate at the country club with my family a few nights. I felt so much nostalgia for the place. My sister told the waitress how we’d grown up there and even our grandfather had been a member.  I remember the humble beginnings when the pool house was just a plain brick rectangle where we purchased frozen candy bars and greasy cheeseburgers.  I love the life my sister and her husband have created for themselves there. I love the life my brother and his wife have created there too. It’s for them. It wasn’t for us.  And that’s what makes life beautiful.

And the replay of questions:

Would I have had more kids if we’d stayed in our old life? Well yes probably.

Would I have been diagnosed with cancer and lost my ability to have more children? Maybe. Maybe not.

Would we have millions in the bank if we’d stayed at our investment banking jobs. Quite possibly.

I don’t know.

I don’t know.

And I don’t have to know.

I can live in the questions.

I can find safety there too.

And sometimes I wish for a tablespoon of it all here and there.  Can this kind of life be a side dish?  No, not for me.  Because I know myself and I bend myself all out of shape because of what others are doing. And in that chapter I would have never seen my husband except for on the weekends. And in that chapter I would have had to hire a nanny to watch the kids so I could work 16 hours a day downtown. There was no way to balance it all. Sometimes there can’t be baby steps, there just has to be a huge leap.

And I think back to that house we were salvaging in pieces only a few days ago: The people who lived in that house probably had similar questions and dreams. Did they live their dreams? I hope so. But now they are gone. And it reminds me how short and fleeting life can be.  Their whole life in a blink of an eye. The passing of time marked by boxes of newspapers, antiquated postage and vintage greeting cards.

We’ve walked away from a few of those chapters already and might just walk away from a few more.  And those chapters pass in the blink of an eye too.  A blink of an eye. A millisecond in all of eternity. But here our lives are happy and full of joy, and it’s not that we didn’t have that before, but it’s much richer I feel. There are varying degrees of happiness and joy. I was re-reading parts of Under the Tuscan Sun this morning and these passages hit me like a ton of bricks:

Wonders. Miracles. In cities, we’re less and less capable of the imagination for the super real, ground down as we are by reality. In rural areas, close to the stars and groves, we’re still willing to give it a whirl.

Is it a whim? It feels very close to falling in love and that’s never really whimsical but it comes from some deep source. Or does it?

I think this rural-ness will be a long chapter, and the thing is….I’m always willing to quickly admit that I was wrong, and shift directions. It wasn’t always that way…. but now ….it is. Now I know that we lose a part of ourselves in the process and we leave things behind that other people would refer to as assets. We walk away from country club memberships. We walk away from sweat and hard work in a house only for it to be bulldozed, shoveled and dumped. And sometimes we grieve for what might have been and the idea of it all. And sometimes we fall in love and we quickly fall out of love. And then sometimes we stumble across opportunities to sift through what others have left behind, and someone else’s trash is another person’s treasure. And we are humbled, and we learn and we grow. And we end up gaining.

And yesterday when I heard the wheels of the tires hit the gravel at the inn I felt a sense of relief.  The crunch is oddly soothing and the way the truck rocks back and forth on a country road is something I’ll never grow tired of. Choose your rut carefully is that old saying.  Right now I want my rut to be gravel and rocking back and forth.

And I just write it all down so that I can live it all twice.

Writing about this place, our discoveries, wanderings, and daily life, also has been a pleasure. A Chinese poet many centuries ago noticed that to re-create something in words is like being alive twice. -Under the Tuscan Sun

If You Like Old Stuff Like I Do

Visiting my family in Charlotte, Brett and I went to the mall today. It was like being a fish out of water.

Me: Um, what is this?
Saleswoman: A shrug.
Me: Really? What are the holes for?
Saleswoman: Your arms.
Me: I don’t get it.
Saleswoman: Are you from another planet?

Ok just kidding she didn’t ask me that. She just walked away.

After escaping the mall, we spent the day salvaging a few usable items from a house that is being torn down.  Everyone’s trash is another person’s treasure…especially if you like old stuff like I do. Brett found some old hardware and fixtures, and I found some old newspaper articles in the attic.

salvage

Tonight we went to a new friend’s house for dinner, and I warned Boo ahead of time: we are going to a fairytale house, with a garden just like the Secret Garden, gargoyles and passageways, and the library looks just like the Book Thief and it has a staircase just like the Biltmore house. And you should have seen her face when we walked into the library…it was just like when Liesel sees the library in the mayor’s house in The Book Thief.

Boo on the stairs being followed by a Bengal cat:

library

We ate dinner with our friends Nick and Suzie and Boo asked if she could be excused from the table early, so she could spend time in the library. I’m not sure I’ll ever hear that again. She found The Boxcar Children on the shelf and she was told she could borrow it. Suzie also had this old mail order catalog she’d found and it was in perfect condition. Circa 1915 this catalog would have been right around the time of the Titanic.  The mail order form was still in the center of the catalog, making me want to fill it out and send it in with my 89 cents.

catalog

And yesterday we spent some time with my brother and his family. It was my nephew’s birthday. And I actually have a photo of me and my brother for once, although it does look like I’m trying to get away from him, but that was only because I was trying to take a photo with my nephew Carter:

brother

And since we are staying with my sister we’ve spent a lot of quality time with my little niece Leighton.  I get to bathe her each night and we all take turns feeding her and she’s just the sweetest baby. I might just steal her..because I’m pretty sure I’m her favorite person in the whole wide world:

leighton

Speaking of old stuff I picked up this really old metal globe last week while thrifting/antiquing. Even my thrifty hubby thought it was a find we couldn’t pass up. Not that we have the space for it right now.

globe

 

And then there’s just this:

tree

 

And this:

leighton

It Will all End Well

I had a dream that I was in a crash 2 nights ago. I assumed it was a plane.  As I was hoping on a plane to Houston yesterday I literally even texted my friend Jay before traveling so that someone would know:

planecrash

I gave up my seat on the earlier flight thinking it was kind of like Russian Roulette.  And on the second flight, I think I realized early on that I probably gave up the safer seat. (I have a deeply warped imagination….) As we neared the approach to Houston I wrote in my journal to document the passing time, just in case….I guess assuming my journal would survive impact:

The plane always gets eerily quiet as it starts to descend. Like this dampened hush.
Ears pop. Hush gone.

I have to pee. It would be nice to die without having to pee. 
Ever notice how the clouds always move by quicker than the ground does?
Houston looks like little collages of circuit boards.
Except for the pretty aqua cesspools.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we have been cleared to land.”
[Insert long, boring spiel about tray tables.]
Good grief. That was a really steep turn.
Something just doesn’t sound right. No one else seems to care.
What if we just dropped out of the sky? I’d pee. That’s what would happen.
There goes the landing gear. I choose hope.
The cars look like little ant cars down there. Where are all those people headed?
Aww…little ant-sized school buses park all in a row in their little ant-sized parking lot.
Horse farm.
Runway.
Landed.
Awesome.
Not my time to go.
Thank you God.

 

So…the plane didn’t crash.

But my rental car did.

It’s totaled.

I snuck out right before lunch today to pick up a few gifts for the directors of the conference I am at, and to get some books to hand out for the breakout session I am speaking at tomorrow.

I’ve never been in a car wreck before, and it was exactly like it is in the movies. It took a few seconds to realize what was happening. All I saw was a white hood coming straight towards me. Time slowed down to a halt. And I vividly remember thinking: This is not going to end well.

And then: I don’t want to die in Galveston.

(no offense Galveston)

And: You are wearing your conference name tag for easy identification.

Then the car slammed into the right side passenger door. Then everything was in slow motion: airbags deploying, car spinning uncontrollably, diet coke moving in a slow wave across the floorboard…

Then silence. What seemed like a silent forever.  Zero sound.

And then suddenly I was being sucked in reverse back through the black hole.

And then there were people yelling. I looked up and my car was inching forward slowly, my foot wasn’t on the brake.  My eyes hurt from the powder of the airbags. And there were feathers flying around like I’d had a pillow case fight.

Did I hit a chicken?

People yelling through the window: Are you okay? Stay put. We called 911. No, leave the car. Leaking fluids everywhere.

I got out and made my way to the curb.

I don’t remember seeing any cars when I made the turn. It must have been a blind spot. The lights at eye level in the intersection were covered by trash bags. Tattered trash bags flapping in the breeze and enough to pull your attention away for a brief moment.

One of the officers said that he wasn’t surprised….that it was the most dangerous intersection in Galveston.  He said there used to be a “no left turn” sign but businesses complained and the sign eventually came down. The accidents still happen.  That kind of makes me a little mad.

One of the police officers offered to take me back to the hotel.  He had a ride along. Nothing like getting dropped off at a blogging conference from the back seat of a police car. Only a few hours earlier and woman who had a murder warrant out was sitting in my same seat. It will probably be in the local paper.  Thanks Officer McNeill. It’s awesome riding in the back of a police car when you aren’t in any kind of trouble.

Life can shift so quickly:

10:00 am

selfie

 

1:00 pm

police car

 

I can tell my right arm is jacked, maybe I tried to brace against the impact.

My ears are still ringing.

I can feel my whole body stiffening as the adrenaline leaves.

But I walked away.

I always have a deep gut instinct about things. My mom and grandmother too.

Like the premonition about trying to outrun a tornado. …and then that happened:

kansas4

Premonitions are supposed to be warnings.

Although I never really seem to heed them.

Because, if I DID heed them:

I’d never leave the house.

I am speaking tomorrow morning at the Blog Elevated Conference here in Galveston, TX about blogging with heart.

I might not be able to turn my head, but my heart still works.

It will all end well.

Praise God.

 

 

 

Life Piled on Life

A bit of Tennyson, from Christy

There’s a conference all week here at the Hemlock Inn for the Francis Asbury Society and Boo has gotten to know some of the attendees…including the worship leaders April and Jason.   They asked her to sing a song for the group tonight. As she practiced, Donna one of the cooks came out of the kitchen screen door with tears streaming down her face (which then made the rest of us cry).

As Boo sang her song to the crowd a little later in the night, 10,000 reasons by Matt Redman, I noticed a small crowd inside the dining room window….where the staff had congregated to watch her sing.  Boo is getting over a cold, and was so nervous, but she still had us all in tears just the same.  It was her first time ever singing by herself in front of anyone, out of her comfort zone. Running into the kitchen afterwards she was greeted with hugs and her proud new inn family. She was beaming.

Meanwhile Brett was at Tsali, part of the Nantahala National Forest, helping to work on the bike trails. It’s a volunteer effort to keep it clear and safe.

Tomorrow Harper “the intern” and I are off to visit Carl Sandburg’s home….something we’ve talked about doing all summer.

I’m an idealist. I don’t know where I’m going but I’m on my way. -Carl Sandburg

 

 

Life piled on life.

 

 

 

You and I Have a Date

At my sister’s house I found these sitting on a shelf: a large box of cards my parents used to set dates with each other when we were growing up.

My parents' old "you and I have a date" cards

The box only has a handful of the cards left…..they went on a lot of dates.  I remember seeing these on my parent’s bathroom vanities. I can still picture each of their handwriting.

What I Would Take to a Deserted Island

My family. My books and journals. Water?

We were going to go to church this morning but I have a horrendous cough.  We stayed home instead and made biscuits with apple butter.  Brett and Boo know me way too well because I got books from the two of them this morning:

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story by Donald Miller
and
Love Wins by Rob Bell


The Best Mommy in the World. That’s what my card says.

 

We spent the rest of the day packing up boxes and sorting more things for our move.  I did manage to get a photo of Boo and I yesterday at the Mother’s Day Tea at school:

 

It’s been a process getting rid of 30+ years of belongings and collections as we gear up for a simpler life. Last night we went to our usual pizza place and Boo took all of her 10K+ loose crayons for their almost empty bins. She even refilled them herself:

This has been good for us.  The more we get rid of the more we want to get rid of. It’s a domino effect.  I’ve made at least 2 thrift store runs a week and we plan to have a big moving sale for the remaining items right before we leave.  And the house we’ll hopefully still sell furnished (furniture, plates and silverware, pots, artwork…even the fish in the fish tank!)

Boo doesn’t want to really keep much at all….just her books and her dolls.  (Goodbye Barbie Dream House!)  Brett and I have narrowed our closets down to the bare necessities.  I’ve kept some craft supplies and tools so I can keep doing DIY on the blog but really we are only taking what we can haul with us.  No movers, no storage.  I feel like I’ve been playing that “what would you take on a deserted island” game for the past few weeks!

Except I do have that one issue: books. I haven’t really been able to get rid of any.  Actually not true…I did remove 2 from the pile, but only because they were duplicates. And I sorted my piles by memoir, fiction, self help, etc.  OCD. And when I try to pack them I end up rearranging piles: might want to read before I leave. pack last. leave out of boxes. hide in suitcase. hide in camera bag.

I did hand pick some items for the blue label page to help fund our move and the next few months as we figure things out.  Thank you for all the support. What’s on the page is just about the last of everything.  I can’t wait to get through all of this craziness so I can focus full time on writing finally.  We are leaving June 1st regardless of whether the house sells. We’ll just leave it. And rely on faith that it will sell in its right time.

(Note: Need to figure out the best way to get Internet in the car on the way cross country: hot spot phone or just stand alone hot spot?)

Hope you had a wonderful day!

 

The Prayer that Changes Everything

-From God is in the Tough Stuff

 

Yesterday morning, for the first time in a long time, I didn’t want to get out of bed. I felt a profound sadness. I walked past Boo’s room and she was still asleep. I walked slowly out into the living room and past the spot on the top of the couch that Diesel is usually on. Usually I would say “good morning my little D!” and he would strrreeeettttchhhh out and yawn and roll over on his back. Only this morning he wasn’t there. He wasn’t anywhere. He was lost.

The night before the smoke detector in the hallway had been going off from a low battery. Brett was out of town so I had to drag in a heavy ladder myself to try and reach it. I finally was able to change the battery and put the heavy 16’ ladder back outside. And then….it started beeping again. I was so flustered and frustrated…the ladder had scratched the wall…a bird outside was perfectly mimicking the detector’s screech….and now I had to drag the ladder back in. While I was propping the back gate open to bring the ladder back in I let Diesel into the driveway. I didn’t think much of it because I figured it would only be a few minutes and the driveway is gated too. Only a few minutes turned into much longer….and when I finally realized that he was still out there I ran out and he was no where to be found. Boo and I ran out to the front of the house and looked for him. No sign. We checked everywhere. All the sudden the panic set in. We live on busy street where people might not be paying attention to a little dog. Diesel is so tiny that he is not much taller than the curb.

As the sun set and reality set in that Diesel really WAS missing, I called Brett. There wasn’t anything he could do but I was trying to make sure we had covered all of Diesel’s hiding places. I checked the pool. We walked up and down the street with our flashlights yelling “Diesel! Daddy’s home!” because that’s usually what will bring him running from any hiding place. My father-in-law showed up and he re-searched the front yard and some nearby streets. I made some flyers and started putting them on every sign I could think of. It was cold and windy and the large bark from the palm trees was all over the road. Every time I saw a bark piece I would stop breathing and my heart started racing because I thought it was for sure a crumpled Diesel. We had pretty much exhausted our search. I put Boo to bed and I walked the streets a few more times. No Diesel. As I locked the doors for the night I put his bed out back and put some towels at the front door in case he made his way back. And I prayed. And somehow fell asleep.

*****

So I woke up the yesterday morning and felt that profound sadness. I woke Boo and started to make her breakfast and I couldn’t stop crying. Boo walked up several times and hugged me “don’t worry Mommy, it will all be okay.” I told her I knew it would but I didn’t want to think about the next few days if we didn’t find him. We prayed and ate our breakfast. We hurried to get ready and I printed out 100 more “LOST” flyers:

Lost Diesel Sign

I knew I needed to exhaust every option but it seemed so daunting to do on my own. My friend Katie told me about Lost My Doggie, a service that helps with the administrative side. I paid the fee and they sent flyers to all the local vets and shelters. They called 500 of my neighbors within a few mile radius.

Boo took flyers to school and handed them out to her teachers. I was supposed to be at preview presentation for the Global Leadership Summit. I went and checked in but then snuck out to drive around and tape up a few flyers. My friend Shari had emailed a bunch of people she knew and someone said they’d seen a sign at Circle K for a lost dog. I drove anxiously to Circle K and the sign was for a small white dog…not Diesel. I talked to the cashier and asked her if I could hang up my own sign. She said of course and then said she’d seen some large neon signs on her way to work that said a small black and tan dog had been found. I drove quickly to that location, only about a half mile away, and called the number. The woman was excited that I might be the owner but when she used the word “she” my heart sank. I drove back to the presentation I was supposed to be at….a few minutes late. I snuck in and my phone started ringing. I walked out each time to answer. Someone said “they’ll leave a message you know” and I wanted to say “if your child was kidnapped would you risk someone leaving a voicemail?” I felt physically ill sitting there trying to concentrate and decided to leave a little early. I handed a guy a flyer on the way home and he said “I hope a coyote didn’t get him.” An email in my inbox told me to check Craig’s list repeatedly because sometimes people try to sell dogs they steal. My mind was on overdrive: Coyote? Doggy trafficking? Poor, poor Diesel….

*****

At home the house seemed so quiet and empty. Every time I walked past his bed, or his little cave in the pantry or where he sat in the sun every morning it was too much. I couldn’t work or eat. We are moving in almost 3 weeks, what if we didn’t find him by then? It’s not like he could trek cross country. And if someone found him we’d never see the signs once we moved. And I felt horrible because Diesel had been pawing at my leg earlier in the day wanting to be held and I’d brushed him off.  I noticed he hadn’t even eaten his breakfast and his blood sugar would be low. He hadn’t had his medicine he needs daily.  It could not have experienced an ounce of joy in that moment. I walked back to my bedroom and saw Diesel’s beloved dodo bird squeaky toy. And I lost it.

Why?

 

And the only thing I could do was pray:

God, please keep Diesel safe. Watch over him. I know he’s old and we won’t have him forever but this is not the way it’s supposed to happen. Please give me guidance on how to find him. If he’s alive or with you.  Our hearts are broken. I’m listening. I’m know I’ve been off track the last few weeks…sidetracked with minutia. Not able to let go of things. Okay I’ll let go of it all. I think that’s the message here right? That I was neglecting my poor doggy and probably everyone else in my life? Did you know yesterday was our wedding anniversary? I can’t bear to think that it might also forever mark the day that Diesel disappeared. If this is your will then help us see that too.  Please bring good out of this.  I know you will, I don’t know why I said that. Just show us the good. please. please. …..please. I don’t know what to do. Please show me what to do.

And I was on my knees praying. Face up to ceiling. Tears streaming. Pleading. Partially hysterical. It was not pretty. I can honestly tell you I have never prayed like this before. And honestly I didn’t expect it to turn out the way I wanted it to. That would be too easy right?

Me: God, please bring Diesel back to me.

God: Oh, ok. Shazaam.

 

After a few minutes I got up and grabbed my phone off the bed.

And I saw a notification. I’d been tagged on Facebook by Lisa: ASHLEY HACKSHAW!!!

And then she was calling me on the phone. I picked up:

Lisa: Is that Diesel in the picture? It looks like him but I can’t be 100% sure.

I clicked on the comment and it took me to this:

Diesel found on Facebook

 

THAT IS DIESEL.


*****


The woman on the phone was named Shannon. After I stopped crying tears of joy she told me the story. She said she and a friend had been driving home late the night before and saw Diesel on the road. They picked him up. He was stressed out and scared. She bought him some food and he ate hungrily. He peed on her floor mat.  She held him in towel.

She gave me her address and I drove that way.

When I pulled up I couldn’t believe it. A few hours earlier, on my way back from Circle K, I had passed a postal truck and had this overwhelming feeling I needed to stop and give him a flyer. I got out of my car and gave the flyer to the mail carrier and asked if he would keep his eyes peeled for any “FOUND” signs.

And I had been standing right in front of the apartment that Diesel was in. I didn’t think it was coincidence.

The Prayer that Changes Everything Stormie Omartian via Lil Blue Boo / Ashley Hackshaw #quote

 

My mother used to send me so many photocopies of pages out of The Prayer that Changes Everything that she finally just bought me the whole book. Chapter 29 has so much great wisdom in it. When I read this quote by Jim May I realized it summed me up pretty quickly. I have daily experiences with God, but I’m not always so clearly devoted to him.

In the darkness Jim May quote via Lil Blue Boo / Ashley Hackshaw #quote

 

I don’t know why Diesel was lost and and then found. But I do know that it reset me yesterday. In a jarring way. Sometimes I need to be freed from myself and all of life’s distractions.  To give thanks.

“Praise becomes the very means by which God pours himself into our lives.”  -S.O.

Today I’m thankful Diesel is home and we have more time with him. I’m thankful that our prayers were answered. So many people were praying. So many people were helping.  In any way you could. Lisa found the post of Diesel by searching Google over and over “lost pet Palm Desert” and that’s how she stumbled across the photo of Diesel.  What are the odds of that?  Our real estate agent Lori  announced it at her meetings.  She said there was loud applause when the good news came through. Neighbors I’d never even met before called to see how they could help. A few called just to see if he’d been found after getting the “doggie alert” on their voicemails. My friend Juliet stopped by with neon signs and after hearing the good news went and removed all the “lost dog” signs around the neighborhood. Thank you. Thank you.

And a huge thank you to Shannon who saw Diesel and took the time and effort to scoop him up to provide him refuge for the night.  I can’t imagine he would have made it through the night otherwise. She even fed him organic food.  And let him pee freely in her home.  We are so grateful.

Be faithful in the small things because it is in them that your strength lies. – Mother Teresa

 

Diesel seems back to normal today. Last night Boo and I asked him if he wanted to go on a walk and he ran and hid in my closet for a few hours.  I think he had enough of the outside world for a while.

Oh, and the smoke detector is still beeping. But who really cares about that now….

 

P.S. You can see Diesel in real life in the short we made below.  Yes he’s shorter than the curb.

 

 

Days Go By

I flew in late last night from the SNAP, the conference that I was teaching at. Brett picked me up and Boo was already asleep in the back seat of the car. We woke up early this morning and went to church, then we decided to go on a road trip to Yucca Valley for lunch:

Yucca Valley and Pioneertown in California

 

Pioneertown was our destination.   It was built in the 1940’s and was a live-in movie set for films like The Cisco Kid. We ate lunch at Pappy & Harriet’s and then watched a re-enactment group called Gunfighter’s For Hire.  They deputized Boo.

Pioneertown and Pappy & Harriet's

 

Boo’s favorite part of Pioneertown were the baby Pygora goats. The couple that own the little sweeties raise Pygora goats and use their fleece and milk for all kinds of handcrafted items like soap. yarn and accessories.  This little goat is Dixie. Dixie loves to eat hair and thought Boo’s was extra tasty:

Pygora Goats at Pioneertown

 

On the way home we stopped on the highway to take a photo of a billboard that Boo is on for her school. (on a billboard…..cool) After snapping the photo I ran along the ditch beside the train tracks to get back to the car and just my luck….a train came:

The Train off i-10

 

And now I’m just plain worn out.

I have so much to tell you but I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write for the past few days.  It was good for me to take a few days off and spend some time meeting, talking and wandering.  This will be the week of getting back on track I hope…..otherwise words will start leaking out my eyes and ears….also I wanted to share my road trip plans soon. Maybe you can help me with sights along the way when you can see where we are headed.

Easter

Today Boo is still on Spring Break. That means I’m going to have exactly one day to prepare for leaving for SNAP conference in Utah. I’m feeling a little pressure today.  I’ve been watching Boo prance around all morning in her new jean shorts that the Easter Bunny brought her.  She’d been asking for a pair.  She’d also been asking for Anne Frank’s diary.  The Easter Bunny brought her that too. I read her the first few entries last night and I started to get anxiety about the end….that the diary just ends one day and the next day the diaries are scattered through the Secret Annex, thrown aside as if they were trash.  Maybe I could just say “to be continued” when I get to the end.

 

 

I found this photo of me on Easter c. 1978ish. Remember the unwrapped chocolate bunnies?

 

My brother-in-law Jason was baptized yesterday so we went to church with him.  It was really special. Hope you and your family had a good Easter!

 

This Is a Great Truth: Life is Difficult

Reposted from Facebook:


I’ve never done a “throwback thursday” before because, well, it’s just strangely heavy to look at photos pre-cancer, photos before my dad died, photos before infertility. It’s like I’m looking at someone else’s life, not mine. But I was wiping clean a computer drive tonight and found this random photo c. 2010.

This is a Great Truth: Life is Difficult via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo


I swear for a second I didn’t know who it was. This happens a lot. I see a photo that looks familiar to me, but the familiarity is more like seeing a stock photo in a frame. My mind tries to track backwards and acknowledge who it is, but there are gaps in memory, almost like the recording has been altered, as if someone cut out sections of reel tape. Someone edited my life! But the pieces I start to remember over time begin to feel extraordinary, little events woven together in such a way that when I start to try and digest them I’m aware of this force, a force bigger and more powerful than anything I could ever imagine. Huge. Powerful.

When I look at the old me I realize how hard I was trying in life, doing everything I was told I was supposed to do, exhausting just to think about really, and I feel like I was uprooted and chewed up and hastily spit back out. Tornado-like. But that force (surely God and grace all wrapped up and swirly) makes me feel like I can just be now. Just BE. And I’m not scared anymore. That girl in the photo…SHE was scared of life. Phew, that girl was ticking off every box, as if missing a single one would be the end of the world. Ticking off every box so no one would be disappointed in her. Good education. Check. Good job. Check. Big house. Check. Nice car. Check. Gym membership. Check. New electronics. Check. Vacations. Check. And now I realize why it’s so heavy looking at those old photos, because that life was h-e-a-v-y. But I’m not her anymore. Now I feel like I can just be. Don’t hold it in. Stop trying to hold it all together. What’s the worst that can happen? I mean, I guess I could get cancer, lose a loved one, quit my job, and become infertile overnight, but I’m on the other side thinking that can end up being okay too.

Love,
Ash

From a favorite book, The Road Less Traveled:

 

This is a Great Truth: Life is Difficult via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #quote M. Scott Peck Road Less Traveled

 

I can’t wait to hear Nick Vijucic speak this weekend. I’m taking Boo and the whole extended family. If you live in the Palm Desert Area: tickets are going fast but you might be able to snag one….all proceeds benefit the Salvation Army.  Maybe we’ll see you there.

Nick Vujicic Life without Limbs speaking in Palm Desert via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #inspiration #nickvujicic #salvationarmy #lifewithoutlimbs

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