Temperatures, Tornadoes, and 47 Trips to Hobby Lobby…(and I joined a Book Club!)

Lately, it has been difficult to find time to write this blog, and when I do find the time, I’m not very motivated.

I guess I’m at a crossroads. I’m wondering what the end-game is. Will I keep writing a blog (weekly, monthly, or whenever the heck I feel like it?), or like the chart-topping song from “Frozen,” will I just “let it go?”

I still have the same thoughts running around inside my head. The ones that are constantly written into sentences, and paragraphs, and prose. The ones that can only be silenced when they make their way onto the computer screen. The ideas, and quandaries, and thoughts, and stories still live there rent-free. But I no longer have the urgency to write them as I once did. In a way, it’s a relief since I have felt for quite some time that I simply had to write in order to move forward with other things. This new feeling is as freeing as it is exhausting…

And at this very moment, trying to piece these sentences together is a complete struggle. I know where I want to go with my thoughts, but I’m honestly not sure how to get there. And the worst part is that I’m completely okay with this attitude, and that’s what worries me.

To say the least, I’m a frustrated writer. Don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely proud of the work I’ve done—the three published books and even this blog. The frustration, though, stems from the feeling that I did it all wrong when it came to the publishing, marketing, and selling of the books. I have a closet filled with boxes of unsold books that can be placed into evidence: Exhibit A in the case of Sharon Brown Keith vs the Heartless, Joy-robbing World of Self-Publishing.

And that brings me to the beginning of this week’s blog: what does one do with 100s of unsold books?

Several weeks ago I received a message concerning the East Lake Woods Book Club from our neighborhood email group. To be honest, I didn’t even know there was a book club in the neighborhood. I read the email, and almost deleted it, but for some reason, I left it alone, and moved along to other things.

Several times that same day, I went back and re-read the email. The two ladies who organized the group were trying to update the membership list. I was unsure why I kept thinking about the book club, other than it seemed like something I would enjoy. And that’s where the thought hit an abrupt dead-end when I reminded myself, I’m not a joiner. I mean, who has the time? I’m busy with work, and the kids, and Brian is coaching….

WHOA! What in the world? My kids are grown, and Brian hasn’t coached in years.

What a rude awakening when I realized that these lame excuses were decades old!!!!! None of them, if tested, could hold water.

I immediately began to feel uncomfortable and anxious about the entire possibility of actually putting myself out there—being a part of a group. I must have temporarily forgotten that I had lived in the neighborhood for almost twenty-three years, and avoided most of the activities. How awkward would it be for the “recluse” of East Lake Woods to try to join a club?

(Okay, so I have to clarify. I’m not exactly a recluse. With my husband and I both working in public education, we have always had activities and events we had to attend. Add in season tickets to A&M football and five years following SFA basketball, and we honestly didn’t have time for the neighborhood social events, or we had conflicts) Whew! Now maybe you don’t picture me as the female version of Boo Radley!

Now to get back on track…

After a little thought, I sifted through the pros and cons of joining the book club, and broke it down to the brass tacks: I was going to respond to the email. But I wasn’t going to join. Instead, I was going to offer to donate copies of my books to the members (not to be used as a book on the reading list, but just as a friendly donation—one that would help clear up some closet space).

I sent an email, which ended up being a short autobiography since these people had no idea who I was. I figured after they read my disjointed, long-winded explanation, they wouldn’t be interested in reading anything I had written! It certainly wasn’t the best representation of my abilities…

A couple of days later, I received two very sweet responses, and the next thing I knew, I had not only gifted my books, but had also become a proud member of the East Lake Woods Book Club.

I quickly ordered the book for the month of March, and began readying myself for the answer to the question I knew was going to come up—“Are you new to the neighborhood?”

In the timeframe of the existence of the world, twenty-three years would be but a blink of an eye. BUT, in the span of neighborhood living, I was anything but a newbie. In fact, we were one of the first houses in the subdivision.

Book Club day arrived swiftly, and fortunately, I immensely enjoyed the book (read it in a day), and I was mentally prepared to add to the discussion and even render some witty repartee! (spoiler alert—I ended up sitting, speechless, like the village idiot. In my defense, I was trying to remember names, and take it all in).

On the same day as my debut to the club, I also planned to attend Visitation for a dear family friend. I was able to do both, and even felt a little bit fancy and uppity when I was saying my goodbyes and interjected, “I’m sorry I must leave. I have to get to Book Club!”

I won’t ramble on about my first book club experience. I can sum it up concisely by merely stating, it was everything I hoped for and more. I have the sweetest neighbors! And guess what? The author was there, to boot! And her sister is one of the book club organizers! (Look up Colleen Hoover! She’s a hoot and is so REAL! She’s been on the NYT bestsellers list for a while!) It was an honor to meet her!

Click here to go to the authors website

If I have learned anything in life, it’s that many times, you must feel uncomfortable in order to grow. It forces you to move forward. To make changes. To meet new people and experience new things. Although I was nervous and began my book club debut with slight trepidation, my discomfort ended as soon as I stepped inside this warm, kind, funny, and caring group of women.

My life is simple, yet amazing, and that fact is never lost on me! I had Book Club on Thursday, and the very next day, my family came to spend the weekend with us. And I mean both boys, my daughter-in-law, my grandchildren, and all of the dogs! Chaotic, yes. But oh, what a fabulous time we shared!

We ate. We watched basketball. We played. I held babies. We laughed. We smiled. I only wish it could have lasted longer.

Their plan was to leave early Tuesday morning. We had been carefully watching the weather that was coming our way on Monday. It looked a little scary, but we didn’t think it would be too bad. It had the chance to go right by us without much damage.

And then it hit! Lightning flashed. Thunder crashed. And I couldn’t sleep, wondering if I should gather everyone into that small interior, windowless room that Mark Scirto was anxiously encouraging us to hide in.

I had been on Spring Break the previous week, and also had that Monday off. So in addition to the weather fright, I was engaged in that, “if I go to sleep now, I’ll get 4 hours of sleep,” cycle. It was after midnight, and I had yet to close my eyes. A light flashed before me (and it wasn’t lightning). My son was walking into our bedroom using the flashlight on his phone. He asked if we had any Children’s Motrin. Cooper had a fever.

Well, of course, I have that! I’m a grandmother! I’m Sassy! I’m prepared for any emergency that might find us! I raced quickly to the medicine drawer, grabbed the Children’s Motrin, only to realize it was Children’s Allergy medicine. I was completely shocked! I had failed as a grandmother! I just knew we had the basic elements required for our first aid kit!

Kaitlyn and Charles are always prepared. The diaper bag is filled with all the necessary things they might need, and then some extras. But this was their first six hour trip with two kids and a dog, and the meds were left on the counter at home.

No problem. Coach immediately sprang into action! He was going to Walmart to get the fever reducer. Except Walmart is no longer open 24 hours. So there we were, in yet another conundrum.

He raced to his truck and instructed us to find something that was open and give him a call. After all, he had to drive for twelve miles to even get to the outskirts of Tyler. He was going to get a head start.

He hadn’t been gone for a minute when we found that Walgreen’s on Broadway was open. I called, and it sounded as if he was still in the house. Great phone reception—–except he was in the house coming to get my keys. In that short amount of time, his truck had become stuck in our yard (he had to get on the grass to get around the cars in the driveway).

This could only happen to us. And in addition to worrying about Cooper, we now had to worry about Brian heading out into the storm that also came with a side dish of tornado warnings.

Talk about an uncomfortable, uneasy, scary night.

But as expected, Coach saved the day. He arrived with relief, Cooper’s fever went down, and the storm finally passed. And I hadn’t slept a wink!

I felt triumphant that we overcame high temperatures, bad weather, and the threat of tornadoes. Mother Nature didn’t defeat us, but a project for my upcoming girls’ weekend almost did.

(Every year, a group of high school friends get together for a girls’ weekend. And we aren’t just HS friends. We have known each other for over five decades! We are so blessed).

I can’t share too much about it because our trip is this week, and I want this project to be a surprise. I have been planning it for months! Not only with purchasing the appropriate supplies, but I’ve also planned every step in my mind. I had organized exactly how I was going to put this project together. It was going to be spectacular!

This past Saturday, when I began to execute my plan, I was thankful that I started when I did because the four trips to Hobby Lobby I had already made weren’t going to be enough. The well-thought out plan wasn’t working, and I was about to be in a HUGE pickle.

And once again, Coach (Brian) comes to the rescue!

As I was about to fall apart (well, I already had, as I was wailing uncontrollably about the “disaster,” and how close I was to ruining the entire project with my ignorant idea to use double-sided tape, which at that point in my life was the bane of my existence).

Brian calmly talked me off the ledge, drove me to Hobby Lobby, and together we smashed two 60 X 48 inch foamboards into the backseat of my small vehicle!

It might seem ridiculous to be so upset over a simple project for lifelong friends, but for me, I wanted it to be as close to perfect as possible. Because that’s what these friends mean to me. They are amazing! And I want the best for them!

I’m in charge of our activity for Thursday night, and as is with everything I do, I tend to go over the top. I take something that is simple, and turn it into a whole “thing.” It is important for me to be prepared, because that keeps me from being nervous and uncomfortable.

As I type this, I am reminded that discomfort can make you work harder, and sometimes smarter. It can push you to think outside the box, to take chances, and to join a Book Club.

At the end of the day, with the disruptions of temperatures, and tornadoes and 47 trips to Hobby Lobby, I have made precious new friends, and will gather with my life-long friends in a couple of days. No matter how the projects turn out, or the activity goes, at the end of the day, we will be together, laughing, crying, reminiscing, and celebrating this wonderful bond we share.

And I truly believe that the flaws and imperfections will be what makes this weekend even more special. May we embrace our flaws and know that regardless of the shortcomings we find in ourselves, we are amazing. We are “Flawsome.”

Here’s to our Nac Girls Group!

May we still “give’em hell until we’re done, senior class of ’81!”

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