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Wake Up Dead

One day I received a text reply from my friend and it said, very simply, “Take care of yourself or you’re going to wake up dead.”

Wake up dead.

I laughed it off at first but then I started to reflect on those words and what it meant.

Wake up dead.

Just imagine that you wake up dead..Just like that..and all the things left behind, left unsaid,left undone….

There’s a Paulo Coelho quote that I love that says,

“One day you will wake up and there will be no more time to do any of the things you wanted to do…do them NOW!”

And yet…I’m so guilty of not doing the very thing I’m always telling others to do.

I have a long list of things I want to do and places I want to go.

I have words to write and words to say.

I have things to give and things I want to receive.

I have people that I need to spend more time with and people that I need to have a heart-to-heart talk with.

If I was to wake up dead, there would be so much left unsaid and unfinished. There would be chaos and clutter for anyone that tried to make head or tails of all my drawers and closets,my books and papers, and the way I’ve done things but…..

That’s the way I am.

However..I don’t want to wake up dead that way..I just don’t.

While I know good and well that no one is promised tomorrow and only God knows when number of our days, I know something else,too.

Life is precious. Life is beautiful. Life is meant to be lived fully, lived extravagantly and intentionally, lived with love and generosity.

Because one day, just like my friend said, we will wake up dead.

Gone to glory.

Dancing with Jesus.

Standing at the pearly gates.

Passed away.

And just like that, it’ll be over and done with.

With this in mind, I decided to go through my drawers, my closets, my attic. Organizing all the stuff that I’ve accumulated over my lifetime…letters and cards, drawings from my children, handwritten recipes from my beloved Mema and Mom, books I’ve highlighted and written in, journals and notebooks filled with my poems and prayers, my painful memories and my beautiful reflections, blessings and curses that comes from the living life on ragged edge.

I want to make sure that when that time comes and I wake up dead that there isn’t anyone left wondering how I felt, how much I loved, what mattered to me.

That’s right.

I’m going to say what I think and what I feel.

I’m going to apologize when I should. Raise Cain and Abel when I get riled up. Sprinkle kindness like confetti all over creation. I’m going to whisper “I love you” and shout it,too. Dress up fancy for no good reason. Drink chocolate milk from wine glasses and wine from plastic tumblers. I’m going to dance with strangers and those that I love. I’m going to say “YES!” when I want to and declare “NO!” when I don’t.

I’m going to make time for what matters to my body,my spirit,my mind. I’m going to make plans and not excuses. Find reasons and ways instead of obstacles and barriers.

Because one of the days I might wake up dead and I damn straight want to be sure that I lived.

I want to give people something to talk about when that day comes,too.

I want them to say things like this.

She sure did love with her whole heart.

She felt with both hands.

You never had to wonder what she thought about things. She spoke her mind with truth and grace.

She was a damn good listener even though she was half deaf.

She gave as much as she received.

She loved surprising people and getting surprises.

Lawd have mercy, she loved to dance.

She couldn’t carry a tune to save her life,but she sang anyways.

She was strong as a bull and stubborn as a mule.

She didn’t always have the best but she made the best of what she had.

She never gave up on people,no matter what.

She loved cowboy boots,faded jeans and pretty lace underwear and worn them from the day she lived till the day she died.

She was smart. She was kind. She was beautiful in her own way.

Yeah, that’s what I want people to say about me when I wake up dead.

But I also want them to say it right now while I’m living and I want to make sure I say it,too.

I don’t want to hear that someone I know and care about woke up dead and I hadn’t made time to talk to them.

I don’t want to gather at a funeral home wishing I had another chance.

I don’t want to have a long list of regrets;of cancelled invitations, turned down dates, missed opportunities, unspoken words,unwritten letters,untold stories and untaken pictures.

That’s not my style,not my desire, not my choice.

So here it goes….this year is winding down and a new one is about to begin and I’m making a list,checking it twice, kind of like Santa Claus, of all the things I want to do,all the people I want to love on and the places I want to see and the dreams I want to come true so that I can start checking them off, doing it all, living my life with passion and love, giving and receiving beautiful things.

From now on.

Just because.

As long as I can.

Until the day comes.

When I wake up dead.

👣💗Jeanna’ Mead

8 59 a.m 12.6.18

Www.jeannasoul.com

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AVA Choose to be love Create A Ripple Effect Daily Prompt Jeanna' Soul kindred spirits Writing

One Thin Slice

In the week leading up to Thanksgiving, Mema and Momma cleaned the house from top to bottom. Mema dug out the Thanksgiving tablecloths and napkins and her heavy gold flatware.

We rearranged all the furniture to make room for extra tables to hold all the food.

With 22 family members coming, Thanksgiving was a special time.

A long dessert table draped with a beautiful lace tablecloth was placed along the wall in the den. Another long table went in front of the large picture window, close to all the electrical outlets so the warming plates could be plugged in.

Mema spent hours going through familiar cookbooks and scraps of yellowed clippings piled high in boxes,trying to decide what dishes to make this year.

Eggplant casserole, sweet potatoe casserole, green bean casserole-all those were on the “must have” list.

Mashed potatoes and gravy,turkey and dressing,cranberry relish and deviled eggs…the list grew longer.

Momma,on the other hand,knew all her recipes by heart- she never had to look at a recipe because her cakes and cookies were “hers.”

She had made them for every holiday for so long that they were engraved in her memory. She made chocolate fudge sheet cake,prune cake,cowboy cookies and tea cake cookies from scratch.

Momma baked the chocolate pecan pie and Mema made the “regular” pecan pie, German chocolate cake and all the “whipped topping” pies-chocolate,lemon,buttermilk custard.

Three days before Thanksgiving,with all the final choices made and list n in hand, Mema, Momma and I went to the grocery store.

My job was to hold the list and check off everything as we walked along the aisles and to make sure we didn’t leave the store without some essential ingredient.

When we all got back home,the groceries were spread out; butter and eggs,vanilla and cocoa, sugar and spices to one side.

All the canned goods were stacked together;the recipes were laid on top. The turkey was put in the garage fridge to thaw.

Finally, the day before Thanksgiving arrived.

Mema and Momma woke early and began baking all the desserts. The aroma of Brown sugar and cloves filled the house. Chocolate fudge simmered on the stove,cookies were rolled and baked and laid on wax paper, and pie after pie cooled on the table.

The cakes were frosted,the fruit salad chilled, the banana pudding cooked and placed in the fridge.

We laid all the desserts on the special table that was reserved for them; beautiful pies with golden meringue toppings, three layered German chocolate cake under a glass dome, a white coconut cake, Momma’s chocolate sheet cake in a long pan,the prune cake on n the tall platter, tins filled with cookies, pecan pies lined up side by side.

It all looked absolutely beautiful, perfectly arranged,uncut, untouched and ready for the Thanksgiving guests.

But Daddy had his own Thanksgiving tradition.

When Mema and Momma were not looking, Daddy would sneak over to the dessert table and cut the tiniest,thinnest slice out of every cake and pie. He would load up his plate and eat every last bite.

He always said he had to try them out first, to make sure they were good enough for everyone else.

Mema and Momma would get so aggravated with him and try to convince him to wait so that the dessert table would look prettier when everyone showed up on Thanksgiving day, but he never listened. He always cut that tiny slice from everything he wanted.

Daddy died 14 years ago. Ever since that last Thanksgiving with daddy, the dessert table has been perfect when all the guests arrive. All the pies and cakes are still whole and everything looks like it should be in a home cooking magazine. But for Mema, Momma and me and the rest of the family, we would rather there be a thin slice taken from every cake and pie.

💙👣 This was my first published column for the Dallas Morning News on Thanksgiving day of 2004.

Momma went to bake in heaven that year and Mema joined them in 2009.

It’s now been 25 years since my Daddy took the thinnest,tiniest slice but we remember well how that house on Sharpview Lane was filled with love and laughter on Thanksgiving day and we are grateful.

I still have the recipes and the cookbooks and my daughter carries on the traditions of baking everything from scratch just like Mema and Momma.

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Choose to be love Create A Ripple Effect Daily Prompt Heart to heart Jeanna' Soul kindred spirits Make Love Uncategorized

Ann’s Choice

When I was 16 years old, I had a boyfriend, David, with an incredible mom that made a lifelong impact on me.

One afternoon I was invited to a cookout at the backyard of their house in Dallas, and David’s dad was there as well.

I had never seen a divorced couple on good terms in my life. Here they were, ex-husband and wife, acting respectful and considerate, even laughing and joking around with each other and their sons.

I watched and listened, half expecting it to fall apart and things to get ugly and for David’s parents to start acting like all the other divorced people I knew.

Every other divorced couple I knew held such anger, such disrespect, such intolerance for each other.

I was used to divorced couples that couldn’t even be in the same building without all hell breaking loose much less the same house.

They would hurl accusations and talk about each other in such a way that I couldn’t imagine how they had ever once loved and lived together.

My Mema’s friends would sit at the kitchen table, giving a play-by-play of every wrong ever committed by the ex-husband. I would hear stories that made me almost swear I would never trust love.

There was just so much hated-pure and simple- and vengeance between every divorced couple I knew of.

Until I knew David and his mom,Ann.

After the cookout was over, I told David that I was really surprised at how everything went with his parents. He smiled and said, “You should tell my mom this.”

I walked over to Ann and asked her how it was that they got along so well after the divorce and exactly what made them different from everyone else.

She sat me down at the picnic table, looked straight at me and said, “I made a choice. We made a choice.”

Her words became engraved into my heart that day. Simple,profound, beautiful words.

“I made a choice.”

Ann then explained,talking to me as if I was a woman and not just some silly, nosey 16 year old girl.

“We fell in love years ago, we got married and we had two children together. We chose each other back then. We saw good things in each other and we wanted to be with each other.”

I nodded my head, listening to her, reading her lips, fully aware that this wasn’t an ordinary conversation.

“If I choose to talk bad about David’s dad, then I’m also talking bad about myself….because I chose him. I fell in love with him, married him, had children with him….what does that say about me?”

I’m so stunned by this revelation, by the way she’s talking to me in a gentle,firm voice that I just sit there, giving her my full attention.

“Another thing, these boys are half of me, half of him…if we talk bad about each other..then we are also talking bad about our sons. We chose to have these two sons, and now we need to continue to choose to see the good in each other and in our sons.”

Choosing. Choices. Continue.

“It hasn’t always been easy and we are not perfect by any means but the important thing is that everyday we make the best choices we can and that includes choosing to see the good and the love we once shared and still have for our sons instead of the differences and what went wrong in our marriage.”

Imperfect but important.

Good outweighs bad.

Love can change.

I decided then and there that if I ever decided to get married and if I got divorced, that I would follow Ann’s example and choose to live after a divorce the way she did instead of how I had seen others live.

It just made so much sense to me as a naive 16 year old girl.

Over the years, as my friends married and divorced, I would tell them the story of Ann and encourage them to make choices that showed love and compassion, understanding and respect for what once was and what could now be.

My friends would chide me and say, “Well,that’s easy for you to say when you haven’t been in this situation..it’s different when it’s your choice.”

They had a point. We never really know how we will handle things until we have to walk the line.

Ann’s words hit particularly hard in 2015 when my own marriage began to fall apart. I had to dig deep to make the choice to continue to love, to see the good and be willing to let go with grace and accept changes if it was meant to be.

Choose. Love. Change. Continue.

During those dark days while we danced on the ragged edge of reconciliation and separation, we talked about choosing to still be good to each other for the sake of our children and because it was the right choice to make.

Our marriage survived and that time gave me a greater understanding of the depths of how much Ann had gone through as a woman and a mother to wrestle with her own emotions to use good sense and knowledge to make the best choices for the long run.

Several weeks ago, another friend sent me a text.

“I got served divorce papers this morning.”

When he came by to see me, I told him to about Ann’s choices and he said, “I hope we can do that..I think I can, I would like to anyway.”

Hope. Desire. Choose.

In the midst of pain, in the chaos of change, in the sweet by and by, in each and every moment, we make choices.

We can choose to remember the good, let go of the bad and watch how love changes.

We can choose to sit across from a 16 year old girl and share with her wisdom that she’ll spend a lifetime pondering.

We can choose to reach across the table,across the barriers, across the ragged edge and find a way to bridge the differences, connect on another level and love in different ways.

We can choose to give and to receive compassion, understanding,forgiveness, and grace. We can choose to laugh again.

That was Ann’s choice. It is my choice. It can be yours.

Jeanna’ Mead

8 33 a.m. 11-4-18

Www.jeannasoul.com

👣💗 With much gratitude to

Ann Carns, David’s mom.

Her choices and her words have shaped my life.

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Whiskey and Wine

Many years have gone by

From one place to another

Small talk every once in a while

Bits and pieces shared here and there

Skimming along the surface

That ragged edge

Where lines cross

And friendship begins

Over whiskey and wine

Takes a long time

Sweet time

For trust to build

From one place to another

Over many years

Time comes to be at a different kind of table

Pouring whiskey and wine

Sharing bits and pieces

Diving below the surface

And seeing that it’ll be alright

To cross that ragged edge

And pour another

Whiskey and wine.

💙👣Jeanna’ Mead

10.18.18. 7:22 a.m

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Broken Glass

Some things have to stay

Buried in a place

Where it’s safe

Some things break

Scatter like glass

Leaving pieces

Deep inside

It takes too much

Way too much

To take a chance

Open up the past

Shine any light

Find the pieces

That are embedded inside

Some secrets are better kept

Held within

Safely hidden

Protected from the sting

Wounded yet again

By words instead of hands

Sometimes it’s best

To keep things

Just as it is

Beautiful chaos

Made with broken glass

👣💗Jeanna’ Mead

7 01 a.m. 9-29-18

Www.jeannasoul.com

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Between Poets

Words play
Between
Poets
Kindred spirits
That know
When less is more
And too much is enough
When to hide
And to seek
To string together
One more thing
And to wait
For the other
To fill in the blanks

Jeanna’ Mead
September 9 2016
11 06 p.m
Because the door was opened

👣❤ This was written 2 years ago and came back to me…I had to repost it here because others have been leaving the door open for me to dance with their words.

Words play and dance.

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These Two Men

These two men sit

Outside with me

Comfortable and at ease

Talking about the past

Things they did

Places they had been

I sit there

Looking at them

Reading their lips

Knowing full well

I’m missing some words

But still

I know enough

These two men

Bring me along

Include me in

We have a past

Present and future

I have no doubt

These two men

Hold me close

Don’t leave me out

Remind me of who I am

And when I wonder

If it’s enough

I think about the way

These two men

Sit and talk

With me

And I feel the love

That comes along

From being known

And knowing well

These two men.

👣❤Jeanna’Mead

8 18 a.m. 8-16-16

Www.jeannasoul.com

For Jim and Benjamin..these two men…..

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Daily Prompt Heart to heart Jeanna' Soul kindred spirits

Hot Pink Lipstick

Once upon a time
She worn bright pink lipstick,too
A dark brown bikini
Chosen because it matched
Her dark brown skin
So exactly
That from a distance
It looked as if she was
Dancing naked on the dock
Drinking Bartles and James
cheap wine coolers
And now..she wishes
She had the bikini,the tan
And the time to dance
On the dock

But all she has right now

Is hot pink lipstick

Cheap wine coolers

Light brown skin

That hasn’t been dark

In far too long

And she hasn’t danced

On a lake dock

Or worn a dark brown bikini

In far too long

But she remembered

And she sworn

That she would

Do it all again

When she gets a chance

👣❤ Jeanna’ Mead

7 38 a.m 8.14.18

Www.jeannasoul.com

(This was inspired by another writer’s blog post…I could so relate and the words came.)

👣❤ Jeanna’

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Talking

There’s some people

that can talk

a blue streak

say all the right things

lay on the charm

butter on hot bread

good like that

But that’s about

as far as it goes

when there’s work

to be done.

and push comes to shove

or there’s a time

when you’re stuck 

between a rock and a hard place

it seems like

talking is all

they know to do

tell you what

tell you a hundred reasons why

you should do things

their way

but that’s as far as it goes 

it’s easy to do the talking

hard to do the walking

and that’s when you 

separate the boys from the men

find out the truth

about who’s who

goes the extra mile

sticks around

makes the best

out of what’s happening

finds a way

digs deep

shows up

pulls the weight

and doesn’t waste time

standing around talking

when there’s work

to be done.

👣❤  Jeanna’ Mead

12 37 p.m.  7-21-18

http://www.jeannasoul.com

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Travel Bug

Oh, how she wished

for the time to come

that she could go

instead of dream

pack her bags

and fly off

to see and be

part of an adventure

taste and touch

treasure hunt

dive headfirst

into the blue-green surf

find a cabin in the neck of the woods

spend the morning hiking

and the evening writing

stories and poems

She would sit

talk to strangers

dance with whoever asked

eat all kinds of fruit

and desserts,too

She would leave kindness

sprinkled like confetti

along the way

Drop in and give 

tight embraces

exchange massages

with people she’s been

wanting to meet for so long

She would ride horses

climb rocks

paddle a canoe up a stream

ride the biggest zip line

from tree to tree

she would kick back

lay low

cool down

chill out

Look for love

in all the places

and too many faces

and find it too

oh, she was bitten

bitten good and hard

by the travel bug