The First Day of the Week


Today is Sunday, the beginning of the week.  How do you spend your Sunday’s?

When I was growing up we still had the “Blue Law” in Texas, meaning most places were closed on Sunday’s.  I remember working at the bookstore when they did away with the “Blue Law” and everyone saying that it was a mistake to do away with it, it wouldn’t last because people liked having their Sunday’s off.  Guess what? People like convenience more.  What was gained by doing away with the “Blue Law?”  Not a lot, it did make it where you could go to the mall on Saturday or Sunday, but as far as the retailers went it meant sales on Saturday were split between Saturday and Sunday.  It also meant the managers had to find people to work on Sunday and pay an extra day’s wages with no significant increase in revenue.

How many times do we do something for convenience sake, find out it didn’t have the big impact we thought it would, might not even be that beneficial, but we keep doing it because we tell ourselves we “should,” it’s the way things are done now?  There have been times when I was thankful a store was open on Sunday, but very rarely.  For the most part, we spend time at home, at the park, and at church.

I remember Sunday’s as being a day to go to church, spend time with family and friends, eat a big meal then go home and take a nap.  It was also a day to prepare for the week.  Saturday we caught up on yard and house work, laundry, and clean up.  Sunday we laid out clothes and planned for the week.  I even remember mom working out menus for meals so we knew what we were going to eat each day.

Now days Sunday is still a day of rest for my family.  We go to church Sunday morning, spend time with family and friends, eat a meal and sometimes even work in a nap.  I finish laundry and set my calendar for the week, fine tune the “to do” lists to make the most of the coming days and make sure things don’t fall through the cracks and important events aren’t overlooked.

Setting the pace for the week is important.  A day of rest, a good attitude, and a good outlook can make all the difference in how your week goes.  Time is too precious to waste.  It only takes a moment to get things in order and make a difference.  When you take the time to plan ahead things tend to flow better and be less stressful, and isn’t it great to find ways to make things less stressful!

 Cherry Coley (c)

Rain and Memories

It’s cold and raining again.  Kind of unusual weather for Texas.  This is the first steadily cold winter I can remember.  Usually, we have bi-polar weather that can’t make up its mind from day to day.  One day it will be 70+ and the next in the 40’s. 

I’m not complaining.  I like the steady cold temps, I’m not sure I’m carried away with the grey days though.  The rainy grey days make me feel mellow, and somewhat sleepy. 

It reminds me of grey days I spent with my mom growing up.  Often she would make chicken and dumplings, have me help her roll out the dough then cut it in strips to put in the pot. 

Rainy days were great for reading, watching old movies, listening to music, or just spending time cooking.  It’s pretty much the same now with my kids.  I like rainy days now and then.  There’s something soothing and nice about listening to the sound of the rain and watching it trickle down the windows. 

Cherry Coley (c)

Telling Tales and Sharing Stories

Sometimes we just try too hard.  Have you ever found yourself over explaining something because you wanted the other person to understand what you were saying so bad and you wanted to make a good impression?  They sit there with a nod and a smile pasted on and you just find yourself explaining when you should probably be quiet instead. 

What’s worse are the times when you find yourself or watch someone else try too hard.  They go above and beyond explanations on to hand motions or sketches to keep on explaining something beyond the facts that are definitely known.

I have a friend that loves to embellish stories.  I suppose since we are in Texas they could someday wind up as Texas tall tales.  Sometimes they just embellish a little bit and everyone just kind of overlooks it and goes on.  Other times, the embellishment gets rather wild and things that happened to someone else suddenly become personal experiences that were much bigger and more harrowing each time the tale is told, depending on whom the tale is being told too, and who they are trying to impress.

We have a few story tellers in my family.  My aunt was one and she was a fast talker too!  My aunt and uncle came to visit us from California one year and she decided she would share with us all her stories about the same time my dad piped up and decided he would share all his with her.  Together in the same room they both chattered and no one else could get a word in upside down, sideways or otherwise.  Honestly, at night we could hear the walls still ringing with the sound of those two trying to out talk each other.

My aunt was hard to follow with her stories because she didn’t really pause between them and if you weren’t really sticking to every word she said then you could get lost and never find your way back to the conversation.  She would switch subjects and keep right on going despite all the blank looks in the room. 

It was great to see them and that they got to come visit, but I often look back on that and wonder how much more enjoyable it would have been if they had been a little more considerate of each other and the other people in the room.  How much more could we have learned from each other if everyone had taken turns sharing, stopped and listened to each story or experience, then allowed someone else to have a say.  It’s we will never know now, but it is an experience to remember.  Now when we have someone come visit we will, find ways to not allow one person or a few to dominate all the conversations all the time.  If nothing else we will make a game of it so that there is equal sharing time.

Time is fleeting and too important to waste.  Time invested with loved ones should be shared and enjoyed and one thing that makes that possible is taking the time to establish and practice good communication so that each person feels heard, valued and equally important and included in the group.

Cherry Coley ©

Thank You, God, For Your Protection

Tornado’s were all over the Dallas and Fort Worth area today.  Arlington, Lancaster and Forney were hit pretty hard.  My brother and co-workers took a video of a tornado close to them.

Description: Forney Tornado April 3, 2012

I haven’t figured out how to link the video’s on here yet.  This took my breath away, partially because nature in all of its wonder has the ability to be beautiful and serene or deadly at times.  Either way, it’s a reminder that we are not in control of anything really.   We are just human after all and witnesses of events on this journey.

I am thankful that though there is devastation and loss in all this, there has also been divine protection.  Let us lend a helping hand where needed, listen to needs, and step in where we can to help. 

Cherry Coley (c)

Organization and Other Dirty Words

Organization: when I was little I was convinced that was a dirty word. Every time I got in trouble I heard my mom say, “Cherry, go organize your room!” Might as well have sentenced me to prison or solitary confinement as tell me to go and organize my room.

Then I read recently that people are not born natural organizers. OH THANK GOD!! Seriously? I feel so much better now!! I thought I was missing a gene, some link to normal functionality along the way because I could sit in my room for hours and hours and nothing would get organized. I would start to put one thing away and something else would distract me and pretty soon I forgot what I was doing and was just playing with the things that caught my attention, or drawing (because I found a pencil and paper), or writing because I found a tablet with notebook paper. It was a futile effort, but my mom seemed to never get tired of demanding it of me.

Here’s a clue for all those shaking their head currently, creativity and organization DO NOT always go hand in hand. In fact I doubt they are in the same building for many years until someone introduces the two. Now that being said, isn’t it magnificent that God in His infinite wisdom decided there HAD to be some people blessed with organization skills on this earth to keep track of and help out the rest of us?

I am so very thankful for the books that teach such skills, the people that step in and say, “um, you know you could get a lot more done if you’d do it this way” or “you’d have more time to devote to those things you love if you would get more organized.”

Good point! So then it comes down to how to start clearing the clutter and getting organized:

1. Start with setting a goal to simplify your life. By simplifying your life you will have more time to enjoy your family, friends, hobbies and activities you enjoy.

2. If you have a family, then get the whole family involved and add some incentives along the way for all of you.

For example: a. Decide to sort and organize a closet or bookshelf and make a game of it with another family member or roommate. One can hold up an item and say “Stay or Go?”               

                        b. Have some boxes handy for “Donate, Toss or Sell, and Keep.” Working on it together will make it more fun and quick.

                        c. Once the sorting is done, don’t put it aside, go ahead and toss, donate or sell the items. Then enjoy your incentive – go to a movie, an event, or do something fun to keep the motivation going.

3. Keep things that are useful, serve a purpose, add beauty, or help simplify your life in some way.

4. Figure out what makes you feel good about getting rid of things that no long fit one of those categories.

If you can’t stand the idea of adding to the landfills, then find a charity to donate your items that are no longer needed, or wanted.

Here are a few suggestions: – Souls Harbor works with men and families who have been home homeless, or are fighting and recovering from addictions. – The Red Cross is a well-known organization that helps families in crisis and will take everything from food items, toys, to clothing, blankets, and household items.  –  – The Salvation Army – also widely known for helping families in need, they operate thrift stores and offer various programs throughout the year. – Genesis is a women’s shelter for battered women and their families in Dallas, Texas. They accept donations and have a thrift store that will take donations of gently used items including housewares, clothing, furniture, toys, and accessories.

If you don’t live in Texas just check for Women’s shelters in your area. These are just a few general donation sites, but truly there are tons of places to donate for just about any kind of charity you can think of if you just do a little research.

Here are a few related articles:

 Have fun simplifying your life and creating more time to do the things that matter.

Cherry Coley (c)

Renting Trucks Moving Pieces

Since I have been on my own (with kids) since 2005, we have moved many times.  We have moved utilizing friends and pick-up trucks, rented trucks, hired movers, did it all in one day, spaced it out over a few weeks, you name it, we’ve probably tried it.  I can tell you that no matter how you slice it, moving sucks. 

We are still painting the house and just have part of the living room and my room left to go, then we will all spot paint and touch up where the paint bubbles and leaves spots that you can’t see until it dries.  After that the woodwork will have to be done and part of the kitchen cabinets.  

As for the moving part – Lindsey and I worked our tails off last Sunday afternoon moving most of the boxes, clothes, and small stuff.  We moved some of the furniture, but not a lot.  Now we just mainly have furniture to go.  I’m not sure if I mentioned it before, but my landlord liked the colors so much that he went and sprayed the inside of the garage.  It is a brownish rust color and kind of matches the rest of the house.  Now I keep looking at it and wondering if I could put a pool table out there or something later on once all the boxes are unpacked.  Ha.

One of the hardest things in the world for me is to decorate the walls.  I don’t know why.  I used to use tons of family pictures of the kids in the hallways, and if we had stairs, they would line the stairway.  Not the posed types of pictures made in studio’s, but the “trip to the zoo, six flags, or Galveston,” type pictures.  I just like pictures of “life” as it’s happening. 

For whatever reason at our last house I lined the hallway with pictures and didn’t like it anymore, so wound up taking them all down.  So, it will be interesting to see what actually winds up on the walls here.  I have thought of doing some large, fun artwork with the kids and may wind up going that direction at least at first.  Or I may finally get out the art desk and come up with something on my own.  I think one of my main issues is that I like to change things, a lot.  So, I will probably eventually wind up with a bunch of artwork I will swap out for different seasons or times of the year, or just when I feel like a change.  I know that’s kind of odd, but it keeps things from feeling stagnant and looking fresh. 

One of my best friends gave us a washer and dryer and had them hooked up for us on Monday.  My brother and his in-laws gave us a refrigerator and he helped us move the furniture.   I don’t know what we would do without the kindness and thoughtfulness of others.  If it weren’t for the caring people in my life I don’t know how I would have made it through the holidays, much less up until now. 

 Cherry Coley ©

Missing You and Thinking of Snow

Here is it the first day of spring and I’m missing my parents and thinking of snow.  I’m not sure what brought on the memory, perhaps it was one of my friends sending me a snow picture a day or so ago.  I looked at that picture and all of a sudden was transported back to childhood. 

Growing up in Texas, I really don’t remember that much snow, but when it did snow it was a big deal even when it was just half an inch or so.  Mom would get out the big silver bowls and put them out on the bushes to catch the fresh snow as it fell.  If there was enough then she would bring the snow filled bowl inside and mix us up a batch of fresh snow icecream.   I remember she added a little milk, a cup of sugar and a few drops of vanilla to taste, and it was so yummy!

 Snow was so rare that if it snowed just a little, the schools would let us out for a longer recess so we could play in it for a while.  Or the news reports and people would panic, act like we were going to be snowed in for days, buy everything in the grocery stores up like crazy while the kids would be making green furry (grass lined) snowmen that were a foot tall, or making green and white snow angels.  We had a blast chasing each other and throwing snowballs.  We had no worries about much of anything as kids, as the snow was usually gone in a few hours or at the most a day. 

 The worst snow / ice storm I remember was in 1979.  I remember it because we had visited family in Arkansas around Christmas, were on our way back and not long after we crossed the border of Texas and Arkansas I remember looking out the window and saying, “Daddy, why does everything look so still and funny?” 

 We had made good time coming back and my dad was very much a “pedal to the medal” type of person on the highway.  We all started looking around and realized we were looking at ice.  Ice was everywhere!  It was considered to be the worst ice storm in thirty years in Texas and there were tons of people without power, including us. 

 A tree had fallen on the roof of the house across the street and my dad went to help.  He sawed the log and I saw it start falling before he did.  I grabbed him and yanked as hard as my 11-year-old self could yank, the limb still hit him on the shoulder as it fell and banged him up pretty good, but it could have been his head.  Once he gathered his wits and anger, he sent me straight to the house and yelled at me that I could have been hurt.  I knew my dad was scared that we both could have been hurt and thankful that we weren’t.  We spent a few days under blankets, with the gas stoves for heat, and candle light to see by, a game of Monopoly by candlelight wasn’t too bad. 

 We still had floor furnaces back then that worked.  Those furnaces were set down in the floor with a grate on them and you could stand over them with the heat blowing up your legs and back until you got too warm.  Or, if you were really cold and brave you could sit with knees bent, rear end on one side and feet on the other.  If you sat too long though, you’d have grill marks on your butt later. 

 Funny, to be thinking about those things today on the first day of spring, but it is a cool day and raining, so maybe the grey of the day jogged the memory.    I miss you mom and dad, thanks for the memories and for keeping us warm on the cold, dark days. 

 Cherry Coley ©


Childhood Memories

I grew up in a part of Dallas, Texas called Urbandale.  The elementary school we went to, was called Urban Park Elementary and was at one time a military school for boys.  There is still a historical marker at the school, though the original building has somewhat been swallowed up by portable buildings and a huge add on building to accommodate current students. 

 Urbandale was every bit a small town when I was younger.  We had a small grocery store, a little downtown area with a Motts 5 and 10 store, Rexall Pharmacy, a Dairy Queen and a gas station.  I can remember many days of walking to the Pharmacy, Motts, then Dairy Queen with mom and my brother.  In fact, Dairy Queen was one of the places my dad liked to go out to eat.  He enjoyed the steak finger basket and a chocolate dipped icecream cone on many occasions.  I still love Dairy Queen and that their menue hasn’t changed that much.  You can still order those things on their menu even now.  Our other favorite place was Rexall’s Pharmacy.  I still remember the taste of the ice cream floats from Rexall’s soda fountain bar area.  The way it was set up always reminded me of a scene out of Happy Days.

 In the late 1970’s Urbandale grew a bit and put in a hand wash / car wash and a Hunt’s Hamburgers too!  It was the beginning of a turning point for the neighborhood, the competition for Dairy Queen, but we didn’t really know that then. 

In the middle of the neighborhood where we lived there was a wonderful little candy shop set up in a house.  It was so much fun to walk there.  They had a big window in the front of the house so you could see in to the counters filled with candy and cookies, the parking lot was in the front yard.   It was there that I bought my first big round sucker and had my first taste of rock candy.  They had all kinds of stick candy and liquorice, as well as taffy.  I still love the sickly sweet smell of candy shops, though most cannot compare with the smells in that are embedded in my memories of the first one I ever went in too.

There is a park in the area called Parkdale Park, it looks much different now, but then it had a small playground, a dirt walking trail, fields to play in, a baseball diamond, a small concrete swimming pool, and a natural pond that would fill up more in the spring time and support a healthy helping of frogs and minnows, as well as a few picnic areas.  The whole area was kept very clean because people cared back then and took care of parks.  There was a man who became known as the Guardian.  I never knew his name that I can remember, but he was always at the park and people would let their kids go there because he was there all day and if something happened he would take care of it. 

 Between that tiny pool, where your feet would feel raw after you got out of it because it was such rough concrete, and the YMCA I learned to swim at a young age.  The pool at that park was really too small to teach more than a handful of kids at a time to swim in.  Mostly they just had free swim days.  The whole pool was about four feet deep.

I often played with other kids in the pond, catching tadpoles to take home to my (not so thrilled) mom.  She would set up a little habitat in a glass pie pan using pond water, a few rocks and maybe a small stick or two to make it look interesting.  It’s wasn’t but a couple of weeks after watching the tadpoles grow arms and legs and then (oops) start hopping all over our den, that mom decided we should have used an aquarium instead.  Boy did she get mad at me when she found baby frogs hopping on her kitchen floor!

My generation wasn’t so glued to television and video games, we spent a lot of time in community type of gatherings and outside playing. There was a big hoopla when it came time for Vacation Bible School.  It was a huge event at our church with a feast (potluck) included.  Our church had different days throughout the year that were basically just a reason for a church wide potluck lunch because they really loved to eat.  They had “Old Fashioned Day” where the women dressed up to look like characters from Little House on the Prairie and the men all wore overalls and straw hats, they did 50’s days so they could bring out the poodle skirts and leather jackets, and then there were the different holidays along the way as well.  They used to joke about one of the best reasons to come to church was for the food, they were right about that.

As for me, I spent a lot of time climbing that old pecan tree and sitting among the branches, or playing cowboys and Indians with my brother on our bikes in the backyard.

 I miss the innocent days and can’t help but be thankful I grew up in a time where it was still okay to accept a banana fudge popsicle from the ice-cream man, rides from the  milkman, or listen to jokes from the mailman.  It saddens me that my children will never miss those innocent days, because they never really got to experience them, by the time they came along the neighborhood had changed, people had changed, times had changed.  Ah….progress, and more people, we grow in some ways, and lose ground in others, it is just the way of things I suppose. 

It just makes me more determined to take advantage of the time our family does have together, even if we have to be more careful in order to be safe now.

Cherry Coley ©

A Candle in the Dark

photo by Cherry Coley

Have you ever had to ride out a storm, you know the real one’s?  Have you ever found yourself huddled down and somewhat fearful in the wake of an impending hurricane, flood or tornado?  I have ridden out several Texas twisters and even had them touch down just a block or so from where we were twice.  It can be a nerve wrecking experience, very frightening at times since we really don’t know what will happen next, but hope that we are safe where we are. 

Life has many storms that we must pass through, some are physical storms while others are emotional earthquakes and hurricanes designed to bring even the strongest person to their knees.  Yet just like the physical storms that rock our world in any number of ways, there are also silent one’s.  What about the silent snow storm that comes in the night and dumps an enormous amount of snow?  You might not hear it, but you can still feel the approach.  If you don’t take some precautions then you could be caught unprepared and in some cases the cost could be a terrible thing.

I remember so many times the lightning and thunder storms outside.  Thunder so loud it vibrated the walls and windows, and rain so hard you wondered if the roof would hold up to it all.  Invariably the lights would go out and then the storm its self becomes the sole focus.  My parents always kept hurricane candles ready for those storms.  We were never completely in the dark, because when we knew it was coming, out would come the flashlights and candles ready should we need them.  It’s a practice I still follow.  I love fragrant smells and even have some of the appliances that heat scented wax, but I really have a great love for candles, not just for the scent, but the light and warmth they offer as well.  I remember being scared, huddled in the dark with the storm raging outside, but the simple act of turning on the light made a huge difference. 

It doesn’t really matter how dark it is, or how much the storm howls, the act of lighting that candle made it all seem better.  Why?  Because suddenly the storm wasn’t the sole focus anymore, now we could focus on the light, watch the candles, be entertained by the flickering flame and the shadows cast on the wall.  Suddenly the darkness was broken and we could see again.

I can’t think of a better symbol of hope than a candle, darkness cannot stand against even the smallest flame.   It’s a simple reminder that even the smallest light makes a difference. 

There are many storms on the journey that is this life and no one really wants to go through a storm alone.  Remember that though we cannot always see and feel the storms around us, everyone is going through something and what may seem like a small or insignificant act of kindness that you didn’t think twice about doing, may be just the “candle” that the other person needs to ride out the storm.

 Cherry Keal (c)