Thursday, December 31, 2015

365 Days of #EveryBrilliantThing

This year I've kept a virtual gratitude list, inspired by the play Every Brilliant ThingHere's my post about it. 

And since this is the last day of 2015, here is my complete list!


Lays Chocolate covered potato chips.
Pink shoelaces.
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.
The sky – always different, always the same.
Ruby's neverending enthusiasm for the headless rubber chicken.
My fabric stash.
Fuzzy socks on a cold morning.
Stained glass windows.
Sunday morning Jazzercise.
Small notebooks for recording big ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
Trees in winter.
Baby pictures.
Bento box.
Chocolate milk.
Being the only one awake in the house on a dark, quiet morning.
Self-checkout at Walmart.
Dancing with Kyle Abraham & Otis Brown & ErBeeko (at the Carver Theatre).
Velcro poetry.
The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight.” -Julia Cameron
Free books.
Being the last one out of bed.
Little boys in overalls exploring the world.
Proof that spring will come. [pic of daffodil shoots]
Decorating with cotton.
Tiny books.
Going to the movies with my husband on a random Friday afternoon.
Gel pens.


Sunday afternoon siesta.
Live streaming when you can't be there.
When someone compliments my outfit.
Daily conversations with my father who is ill and lives 1500 miles away.
Mama's roast beef.
King cake.
Bumper stickers.
Morning conversations with Eric on the drive to school.
Mrs. Fattig. 3rd Grade.
Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate brownie dough.
Books hand-picked for me by my father.
Skype visits.
Breakfast for supper.
Stuffed animals.
Cooking with an iron skillet.
Movie trailers.
#Oscars2015 pajama party.
This cookie from Whole Foods.
A broken heart is an open heart.” -@jandynelson, I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN
Yesterday's no-Snow Day and today's snow-dusted delay.
Poetry Friday.


Robin eggs. [the candy]
Waking to the sound of rain and birdsong.
Old-fashioned personal mail found in the mailbox.
Fifth grade friends.
The fact that @erbeeko spent 7 hours today working on a song.
Boys in pink shirts.
Hot air balloon.
Fresh grapefruit juice.
Induction of Kathryn Tucker Windham into Alabama Women's Hall of Fame
The art of storytelling.
Seafood supper.
Traveling with JuliAnna Dykes.
Salt mines.
Freedom. (after visiting Dachau concentration camp)
Crazy long distance phone calls when cell phone won't work and you're missing loved ones so much.
The Swiss alps.
Chocolate fondue
Heidelberg, Germany.
Brock Colyar's suitcase still in one piece.
Not having to pay to use the public restroom.
My own bed.
Taco night.
In Vienna, you can Dial-a-Poem.
Coca-Cola's “Make a Move” short.
Spring Break.
People who explain things by using metaphor.


Walking the neighborhood in the early morning dark.
Azaleas in bloom.
Polka-dots. Especially @erbeeko in polka-dots.
Fried oysters.
That bird outside my window singing so happily in the dark.
When I set a goal for 5 pages and end up with 7 instead.
Morning drive with @bensollee.
Wisdom at morning @jazzerciseinc : “If you can't hide it, decorate it.”
New plants in old pots.
The way Ruby barks at thunder.
Fortune cookies.
Tree art.
Tree Change Dolls.
Breakfast with Papa.
LISTEN, SLOWLY by Thanhha Lai.
Art by @brianandreas.
Mints at Olive Garden.
Friends who say just the right thing. Looking at you, @mattarnett!
Writing in the parking lot.
Those jar grip thingies.
Patio dining.
Metal dresses by Chris Beck at Magic City Art Connection.
That scene when Forrest Gump just stops running.
Restaurant in Atlanta overlooking Oakland Cemetery named Six Feet Under.
Books on hold for me at the library.
Hot tea on a rainy morning.


Hooray, it's May!”
Airport reunions.
Kentucky Derby.
Paper clips.
Scars prove that you're still here.” - @ashparso STILL WATERS.
Baby ducks.
Andrew giving me a birthday cake shake from Zaxby's for Mother's Day.
Sunday night suppers at Chuy's with Eric.
Banana pancakes with cinnamon and sugar on top.
Andrew doing his own laundry.
Maggie our cat giving herself a bath.
Cookie cake.
Papa's binder where he lists all the books he's read.
People who are passionate about what they do.
Boys in tuxedos.
Don Draper's new idea. #MadMen
Typing “THE END” on the first draft of a novel.
She-crab soup.
Spanish moss.
Live music on the pier.
Road-tripping with Paul.
My own bed.
Quilts on a clothesline.
The color aqua.
Thrift stores.
Having an imaginary friend.
Hay rides.


Air conditioning.
All my boys in one place.
Mimosa trees.
The word “precious.”
Red walls.
Sourdough bread.
Cell phone camera.
Beta readers.
My writing chair.
Heardmont Park.
Snowball hydrangeas.
Fried pork chops.
Night walks.
Baby tigers.
The beach at night.
Screened in porches.
Quilt shows.
Monte Cristo hotdogs.
Doctors who say, “it's not going to kill you.”
A friend reaching out.
Reaching back.
Sliced tomatoes.
KFC Original.
Blue bowls.
Harry Potter.
Fresh ground pepper.
Rearranging the furniture.


Homemade whipped cream.
Farmers' market with Paul.
Microchip dog ID.
Baking a cake.
Summer Poetry Swap.
Camp Buttercup.
Jacuzzi tubs.
The scent of basil.
First day of a new job.
Drive-thru pharmacy.
Harry Potter.
Twilight movie marathon with Eric.
Friday Night Lights.
French braids.
Bobbie's old office chair.
My Authur Umlauf sculpture.
Writer-friend phone therapy.
Night storms.
So quiet I can hear the clock ticking.
Planning a vacation.
Revision notes.
Poetry Friday community.
Wild ponies of Assateague.
Luxury bed sheets.
Coming home.


Red suitcase.
Exercise ball.
Roman shades.
The Bird Girl.
Sweet and sour sauce.
Early morning walk on the trail.
Digital scrapbooking.
Fabric in the mail.
Book signed by author.
Reuseable grocery bags.
Sea bands.
Tinted moisturizer.
Catching fish.
Walking on the beach.
Easy as Sunday morning.
First day of school.
Used book stores.
Lunch on the back porch.
Supper on the back porch.
Double-yolk egg.
Rick Springfield singing Katy Perry's ROAR.
Dancing in moonlight.
Empty highway.
Finishing a quilt.
Baby wipes.
High school football.
Fresh cantaloupe.
Cello teacher saying I'm becoming a “sturdy” player.


Wrapping paper.
Upside down yellow maple leaf on the walking trail.
Birds on a wire.
Caterpillars turning into monarch butterflies.
Papa writing stories.
Internet shopping.
The audio version of ECHO by Pam Munoz Ryan.
Sitting in Sandra Bullock's chair at historic, delicious Bright Star Restaurant.
Me, Paul, Daniel & Amalee sitting around the kitchen table.
Black cat in my lap.
New sculpture at BJCC.
How empty the streets during an Alabama game.
The Lebanese food festival.
Kantha quilts.
Armadillo necklace.
Fire hydrants.
The wet world.
10th Annual My Favorite Poem.
Made-up words.
Drive-in theaters.
Jumper cables.
Little red wagons.
Claw-foot furniture.


This #OutandAboutDress by @sewcaroline.
Love notes.
Old houses.
Boys with long hair.
The Martian.
Costume jewelry.
Lemon thyme.
Tiki mosquito torches.
Looking through old scrapbooks.
Graphic novels.
Zentangle pumpkin.
Dreams that hold horses.
The new Harry Potter play.
Halloween decorations.
Thank you notes.
Sugar maples in fall.
Dry creekbed.
Glue gun.
Getting new book contract from Lerner and F&G's from WordSong in the mail on the same day.
Sharing a secret.
Saying thank you.
Hearing thank you.
Paula Deen's bacon-wrapped chicken bites.


Daylight Savings time.
Nesting dolls.
Eric on drumset.
Cabin in the woods.
Early morning rain in the woods.
#wild blogging friends.
Taking a mental health day.
Trying a new recipe.
Peanut butter balls.
Colored pencils.
Sacred harp music.
Sunshine on a cool day.
Rain boots.
Kid art on display.
Fresh paint.
Almond butter.
Hot chocolate.
Friday night football.
Mashed potatoes.
Leaf quilt.
Self-timer setting on camera.
Movies that are also books.
Time spent with my sister.
70 degrees in November.
How you an reinvent yourself with a new haircut.


Sticky notes.
Being 19.
Cookie cutters.
Online shopping.
Bell towers.
Phone call from a friend.
Christmas lights.
If you want to fly, you have to give up the things that weigh you down.” -Toni Morrison
Gifts in the mail.
Keyhole tree.
Jingle bells.
Johnny's in Homewood.
Grapefruit juice.
Fuzzy socks.
My miniature tea party tree.
The Force.
The sound of rain.
Blanket with sleeves.
Harney & Sons Paris tea.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The End of a WILD Year

When I selected WILD as my One Little Word for 2015, I had in mind that this word would guide me in my "return to a natural state." I cut way back on public appearances this year, learned better how to say "no" and to be more mindful of how I am spending my days/hours/minutes. I've really focused on being present -- here, now. (How wild is that? For a human, I mean. Wild creatures live their whole lives that way!)

As I reflect now on my experiences, I am thrilled with what I've learned about myself and where this word has brought me. I love my quiet life. I love spending time with my family and writing what I want to write and taking naps and cooking (or not) and creating and reading and walking -- focusing on the moment, not what may or may not come after. That's the WILD element I want to preserve in my life as I move into a new year with a new word and two new books to deliver to the world.

Before I say a final goodbye to WILD, I'm delighted to share with you a WILD poem written by Laura Shovan, my wonderful Winter Poem Swap partner (whose debut is coming very soon)! The poem was inspired in part by Monet's "Train in the Snow," which was thoughtfully shared by the Poem Swap Queen herself, Tabatha Yeatts:

Triolet with Train and Tiger
For Irene's Wild Year

by Laura Shovan

I came to watch the circus train
plunge through the snow-filled night.
Its steam white as the cold terrain.
I came to watch the circus train.
Inside, a tiger pulls her chain
to peer at fields moon-bright.
I came to watch the circus train
plunge through the snow-filled night.

*Shared with permission from the author.

Thanks, Laura! What a lovely keepsake. I love that idea of the tiger pulling a chain to glimpse outdoors. Of course she would! And thanks, Tabatha, for this meaningful and fun tradition.

Monday, December 28, 2015


So, it's been a while since I've posted a Movie Monday! I only post about movies I really, really enjoy, and for 2015 that's only been nine movies. Nine!

Granted, there are a few releases that never came to Birmingham (BROOKLYN, anyone?), and there are a few just released or releasing soon that I'll want to see before the annual awards shows. But all in all, I'd say 2015 had been kind of meh for movies.

But not STAR WARS. It was wonderful! We readied ourselves by watching all previous 6 the week before heading to the theater so everything was fresh -- and youngest son has been so into it! Fun. (I got to tell him about standing in line with my family to see RETURN OF THE JEDI. Oh the nostalgia!)

I'll just leave you with a few thoughts:

If you haven't seen the movie yet, you are going to love new heroine Rey.

You'll love the new characters, too, but especially Rey.

The continuation of the Han Solo, Princess (General!) Leia and lost Luke Skywalker storylines were all just right.

The moment when Han and Leia meet again? PERFECT.

I don't want to give anything away for anyone who hasn't seen yet but I will say, this movie tapped into a whole other level of my emotions about parenthood.

AND: My sister who is an uber-Star Wars fan said it was better than all the prequels.

So there! You have to see it now. :)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

12 Days of Kindness: MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Hello and welcome to the Christmas 2015 Edition of POETRY FRIDAY ROUNDUP! Please add your link below.

Here at Live Your Poem, we've been celebrating the season with 12 Days of Kindness. Each day I've been posting a quote on kindness that speaks to me. The fun part has been pairing the quote with images! Instead of asking you to click and click and click, you will find all the images here (plus a couple of extras!). Enjoy!

... and here are some oldie-but-goodie Christmas poems I've written:

And now for Roundup! Please leave your links below. Merry Christmas!

12 Days of Kindness: Day Eleven

Merry Christmas EVE! I will be posting Poetry Friday Roundup this evening around 7 pm CST.

But first... for Christmas this year I am celebrating kindness! Each day I'll be posting some wise words about kindness. Enjoy!

Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five
Day Six
Day Seven
Day Eight

..and on the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

12 Days of Kindness: Day Ten

For Christmas this year I am celebrating kindness! Each day I'll be posting some wise words about kindness. Enjoy!

Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five
Day Six
Day Seven
Day Eight

...and on the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

12 Days of Kindness: Day Eight

For Christmas this year I am celebrating kindness! Each day I'll be posting some wise words about kindness. Enjoy!

Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five
Day Six
Day Seven
...and on the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Sunday, December 20, 2015

12 Days of Kindness: Day Seven

For Christmas this year I am celebrating kindness! Each day I'll be posting some wise words about kindness. Enjoy!

Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five
Day Six
...and on the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Saturday, December 19, 2015

12 Days of Kindness: Day Six

For Christmas this year I am celebrating kindness! Each day I'll be posting some wise words about kindness. Enjoy!

Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five

...and on the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Friday, December 18, 2015

12 Days of Christmas: Day Five

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Diane at Random Noodling for Roundup! I do have a poem for you, but first:

For Christmas this year I am celebrating kindness! Each day I'll be posting some wise words about kindness. Enjoy!

Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four

...and on the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Now for a poem! I've been reading and loving FLUTTER & HUM: Animal Poems by Julie Paschkis. Lots of wonderful poems... and the art! Also, each poem is displayed in Spanish as well as English. I found it fascinating that the author actually composed the poems in Spanish first -- even though she is not Spanish speaking. Now that is the power of poetry, my friends!

One of my favorite poems in the book is this one:


on this gray day
on this gray street
the black crow caws.

He hops,
       and stares
at a yellow umbrella -
the only sun shining

El Cuervo

En estea dia gris
en esta calle gris
el cuervo negro grazna.

El brinca
       y mira
a un paraguas amarillo --
el solo sol que brilla

Thursday, December 17, 2015

12 Days of Kindness: Day Four

For Christmas this year I am celebrating kindness! Each day I'll be posting some wise words about kindness. Enjoy!

Day One
Day Two
Day Three

...and on the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

12 Days of Kindness: Day Three

For Christmas this year I am celebrating kindness! Each day I'll be posting some wise words about kindness. Enjoy!

Day One
Day Two

...and on the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

12 Days of Kindness: Day Two

For Christmas this year I am celebrating kindness! Each day I'll be posting some wise words about kindness. Enjoy!

Day One

...and on the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Monday, December 14, 2015

12 Days of Kindness: Day One

I've been thinking a lot lately about kindness -- kindness as a lifestyle. And lo and behold, words and passages and quips about kindness have begun to follow me around.

So, as a way to celebrate all that is good and wonderful and light about the Christmas season, I've decided to share those quotes here, one a day, until Christmas.


And may the spirit of kindness fill you and spill into all the darkest places leaving behind only light.

P.S. Youngest son has a new (beautiful!) song! Yes, I am one proud mama. Here is the video:

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Library Story

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit the ever-inspiring Tara at A Teaching Life for Roundup.

I've been reading JUMPING OFF LIBRARY SHELVES: A Book of Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Jane Manning. So many wonderful poems in there, from some of my favorite poets -- the whole book is like an Ode to Libraries. 

Today one poem in particular really speaks to me... and just like last week, it's by Nikki Grimes

Before I share the poem, I'd like to share a library story of my own, which I shared at Alabama Library Association's awards ceremony in 2011 when LEAVING GEE'S BEND was awarded the Children Book Prize.

The 5 of us: Ken, Stan (back)
Lynn, Irene (middle)
MicaJon (front)
"When I was about eleven years old my parents went on a week-long trip and divided up the five kids to leave at one grandparents’ house or another.

My parents were strategic in how they determined which kid would go to which grandparents’ house. They always paired one good kid with one bad kid – and honestly I can’t remember how things were decided for the fifth kid (Sorry, MicaJon!).

On this particular occasion, my brother Ken and I got Grandma and Granddaddy Dykes – my father’s parents-- who lived in tiny Port St. Joe, Florida, which is on the coast between Appalachicola and Panama City.

My brother Ken
My brother Ken was known to be mischievous. This was a kid who would sneak next door and cut the roses off the neighbor’s bushes.

Me, well, I was supposed to be the good one, the easy one. But on this trip I was completely homesick. I missed my mama, my bedroom with its purple walls, the horses out back. So I was giving Grandma fits – she did not know what to do with a teary-eyed, depressed little girl. Her first efforts were to cook: fluffy buttermilk biscuits, hoe cakes made from Hoover brand cornmeal and fried in an iron skillet, lima beans so tender from the hamhock they disappear in your mouth, chocolate pie with fluffy meringue, sour cream cake crusty on the top but moist in the middle.
Grandma Dykes in the kitchen

When none of that worked, she was distraught. She told me to get in the car, and we started driving. I thought for five minutes that maybe I had won, she was taking me home.

When we pulled into the parking lot of the Gulf County Public Library in Port St. Joe, I knew she was doing the next best thing. Grandma knew personally the power of books, of story, what escape and comfort can be found in a room filled with words.

She introduced me to the librarian – “this is my granddaughter Irene who loves to read” – and I remember the delight with which I was greeted, the warm arm on my shoulder, the pillow-splashed floor I sunk into after the librarian showed me where the horse books were.

So that became our routine for the rest of the week: Grandma would cook scrambled eggs and butter grits for breakfast, I’d eat, then she would drop me off at the library. I completely missed all the excitement of my brother Ken’s go-cart adventures, and only witnessed the results: giant holes in Granddaddy’s tomato patch where my brother had spun the wheels over and over again. I had found a haven, a cure for my sadness, relief from my anxiety.

It was almost as good as being at home. And of all the libraries I’ve ever visited, Gulf County Public Library remains dearest.

As for my brother Ken? He continues to give me great material for future books."

Wee book-loving me!

And now, the poem:

by Nikki Grimes

My library comes into view.
Almost there!
I sprint the last few yards,
charge up the stone steps, breathless,
and push through the double doors,
smiling at the sweet kingdom of story
inviting me in
to rest, to explore --
to dream.