Archive for November, 2012

Perfection

By Kathy NickersonNovember 26th, 2012mercy3 Comments

The house is quiet now. Only the sound of towels tossing in the dryer and the tick of the clock on the mantel. We have gathered up the left-behinds (only one pair of hoop earrings and a tiny sock, so far.) And now my love and I are sitting side-by-side in our chairs soaking in the silence and the memories.

Stumbling over cots in the kitchen, because we ran out of room long before we ran out of family.

Washing dishes slowly by hand, because I wanted to keep watching the grandchildren playing ball on the lawn.

Humming along with Christmas tunes while granddaughters danced around the living room with their daddy.

Whispering “I love you” more than once at bedtime just to hear a toddler repeat it.

Savoring table conversation with children who have grown up to become our best friends.

I often regret not having a big house to welcome them all home. Or at least having one more guest room so they don’t have to come in rotations! We made it work this year, even though our holiday didn’t live up to the Better Homes & Gardens version in my mind.

But, then, I look at the lopsided-Christmas tree decorated by four-year old Nola. I had planned to re-drape the garland when she left. And space the berries more evenly. Then one ornament caught my attention. It was the final one she insisted on hanging when everything else in the box had been used.

I told her it didn’t belong on the tree, but she hung the cluster with great care, right in front, where everyone could see. A shining tangle of ornament hangers that should have been tossed last year. 

I’m leaving it right there.

Did everything go smoothly this year? Was our Thanksgiving holiday without mishap and worthy of  a magazine spread?

No. Better than that. It was perfection.

How about yours?

Read More

Around the Table

By Kathy NickersonNovember 21st, 2012mercyNo Comments

Thanksgiving is a holiday devoted to food.Well, to thanks-giving, technically. But it centers around food. People complain about this sometimes. In fact, people complain because just about everything we do centers around food.

We “do lunch” when we need to meet with someone. We go out for dinner to celebrate or to commiserate.  We eat cake on birthdays and serve a meal at funerals. Food is a central tool in our relationships.

But, this was not invented by our culture. It is not the product of our gluttony or our affluence. (Okay, maybe it contributes to the first one.) The first recorded instance of food and friendship is in the Bible. In the second book, called Exodus. God was trying to introduce Himself to the Hebrew people who had just come out of slavery. He invited Moses and seventy of the other leaders to come up on Mt. Sinai. And then He sat down and had a meal with them.

Seriously. The Bible says that. They ate supper with God and didn’t die. I don’t know how that worked. You can use your own imagination.

What I do know is that the breaking of bread around a table can be a sacred act. The sharing of food, whether it is turkey and all the trimmings or peanut butter and jelly, can create a bond and open a conversation.

So, as you are passing the corn casserole to Aunt Edna this week, breathe a prayer of real thanksgiving. You are sharing a table with eternal souls. And the moment is holy.

Read More

Just FYI

By Kathy NickersonNovember 19th, 2012mercy5 Comments

Several years ago, I called my friend who worked just down the hall, and I got her voice mail. (I don’t know why I didn’t walk down the hall to talk to her. Voice mail was new in our office. Maybe I wanted to use it.)

Anyway, Darlene’s voice mail said, “Hi, I’m away from my desk right now, so please feel free to leave a message. And, by the way, today is my birthday. I thought I’d just say that up front because if you leave me a message and don’t wish me a happy birthday, and then you find out later, you will feel bad. So, go ahead. Leave your message now.”

This was brilliant.

And, Darlene was way before her time. Now we have a handy option on social media to broadcast our birthdays. As long as we check in faithfully (ten or twelve times a day, perhaps) we will never again be guilty of ignoring the birthday of a friend, loved one, third-grade classmate, or former UPS delivery man.

I bring this up because my birthday is this week. I could walk around all falsely-modest and pretend I don’t care that this is my day for cake and balloons. Or I could try to seriously ignore the day and pretend I’m not one year closer to the elegant age of sixty.

But, I’m taking a lesson from my friend, Darlene. It’s my birthday this week. And I’m telling you in case you see me on the street and don’t say anything and then you feel badly afterwards. So, go ahead. Leave your message.

Read More

My Life Budget

By Kathy NickersonNovember 15th, 2012mercyNo Comments

In the Dicken’s novel, Great Expectations, young Pip never pays his mounting bills. Instead, he organizes them neatly into categories, stacks, and tallies. Once that is done, he feels he has fulfilled his responsibilities, and he is off to the haberdasher for another hat.

That is where my husband and I came up with the idea of “Pipping the Bills.” We may not be able to pay them this week, but, by golly we can organize them. It seriously makes me feel better.

Pip’s method catches up with him, of course. Fortunately, so does his secret benefactor, so all turns out well in the end. (Well, mostly. Some things never get happy in a Dicken’s book.)

This week, the money budget at our house is in amazingly decent shape. We even paid for new tires! (I’m refusing to look at December. It will need Pipping for sure.)

But, I’ve been reading about becoming the CEO of my life. About taking charge, setting goals, and about designing a budget for my time. The writers sugest one should budget everything one wants to do, not just things one must do.

So, I did. The results would have made Pip proud. And, here is what I discovered: I have time! Time to sleep. Time to eat. Time to read. Time to write. Time to love. Even time to work.

Of course, I often spend my money outside the parameters of my budget. I do the same with my time. But putting it down on paper really did something for me. Maybe, instead of Pipping my writing projects this week, I’ll actually do them!

Read More

Investing in My Art

By Kathy NickersonNovember 8th, 2012mercy3 Comments

This week I’m in Kansas City, Missouri, attending the Heart of America Christian Writers Network conference. (Note to the bad guys: my deputy-sheriff husband and the dog are both at home. Don’t bother breaking in.)

The investment in conference fees, hotel rooms, gasoline, and time off work are considerable. And, I don’t mind a bit. Okay, maybe a bit. But I totally believe one must invest in learning one’s craft. For me, that means taking online writing courses, subscribing to writer’s magazines, reading good books, and going to conferences.

I’ve been to this conference several years in a row, and I always come home encouraged, challenged, and slightly exhausted from the sheer volume of what I heard. Then I take the next several weeks to sort through it all.

In fact, last year it was nearly six months after the conference when I was looking through some notes and thought: Hey, I should submit a proposal to that new publishing house I heard about while I was standing in line for lunch one day.

And, thus, Thirty Days to Glory will be published by the marvelous folks at CrossRiver Media next year.

So, I challenge you to invest in your art this year. Whether yours is rock climbing, singing, painting, dancing, parenting, writing, gardening, dog-grooming, or whatever. Spend some time and money this year learning more about the craft. You may not get a book deal, but you will be a better rock-climber for it.

Read More

Check the Shoes

By Kathy NickersonNovember 5th, 2012mercy4 Comments

Last week I decided to give in and research the book I’m supposed to actually be writing. It is the memoir of a city. Well, a small village, actually. I’m writing it from the plural voice “we”, which is rather challenging and which may not work at all.

I’ve been finding lots of excuses not to jump all the way into the project. But, I finally did. Yesterday. And here is what happened:

On my theoretical afternoon off from my day job, I ran errands. I spent the 45-minute drive to town writing and editing in my head. I was also lining up a mental list of interviews, going over the timeline, and compiling questions for our attorney since the book involves a court case.

Three hours into my shopping trip, I knelt down to try on snow boots. And that is when I saw my shoes. Yep. Two black shoes. One from each pair in my closet. A loafer and a clog. No wonder my back was hurting and I kept thinking I was dizzy.

I was so embarrassed I almost ran barefoot to my car. But I still had errands. Plus supper plans with my daughter to celebrate the release of her book.

So, I did the only sensible thing. I bought new shoes.

Do you think they qualify as a writing expense?

Read More

Sharing the Load

By Kathy NickersonNovember 1st, 2012mercy3 Comments

I’ve mentioned before that my husband is a country doctor. This week I went with him to an emergency call at the home of our neighbor and friend. It did not end well. Our little town was heroic and loving in its response to the tragedy. After all that could be done had been done, we stood around and just looked at one another.

We were an interesting lot. Some people were still in the pajamas they had on when they jumped out of bed at the sound of sirens. Others were dressed in shirt and tie on their way to an early class. I think I was wearing my work-out clothes, though I barely remember.

As we finally made a move toward the front door, one young man reached out and said, “Could I carry something for you?”

The comment pierced through my surreal fog. I realized I was clutching a forty-pound emergency kit in my hand. “Yes,” I said, “That would be wonderful.”

I’ve been hearing Tom’s words over and over since then. Could I carry something for you?

It is what we were all asking as we stood around the living room that morning. We just hadn’t found the words until Tom spoke them.

Read More