Thirty-ish years ago Joy Pritchett, a young, beautiful, incredibly smart woman moved into a little pink house that her husband had built for her. And she became like a lighthouse keeper, navigating safe passage for the ships and they came and went.

One of Daddy’s repeat jokes is that when a woman has a baby she loses half of her mind, her sanity.  So with a second child, she doesn’t lose the last half, but she again loses half of what she has. And so a woman’s mind and sanity continue to diminish fifty percent with each child. Of course, with every re-telling of this, the men in the room roar and the woman with amused looks of disapproval towards their husbands and lovingly resentful looks towards their children, and almost always begin discussing how true it feels.

One afternoon, while I was away working on my graduate degree, a girl coming down the hall interrupted me halfway through a phone call,  “Ah! No one EVER says MAMA anymore! I LOVE hearing that!” My attention was immediately captured by the word I used everyday, but never thought about. Mama.

Sometime in the late 80’s, Joy Pritchett became Mama, changing her name and her identity.  She lost her sanity by half, two more times before the mid 90’s.  And with each of her three little girls born, she gave up her name, her identity, and her sanity. And so, became the woman she is today.

I’ve always loved hearing other woman say, “wow, homeschooling must have been really hard, I couldn’t do it.” Because sometimes they mean they wouldn’t do it or that it can’t be done well. But Joy Pritchett did it. And she did it well. And it was hard. And she did it for us.

She changed herself for us. She lost her mind for us.

She’s the hardest to write about, this mama of mine.  Five feet of tiny contradictions. But she showed up for us. Every moment, carrying every burden that we left in our little pink house, for safekeeping.

Many more girls than just her three have gone to the little pink house for safekeeping.  On behalf of them all, Happy Birthday, Mama.

 

 

I graduated a year ago in May. It still surprises me when I remember that I won't go back as a student in the fall. Everyone always said to treasure my time in school, that I would miss it when it was gone, and while I did my best (most of the time) to remember that advice, I’m still waiting for the day I wish to go back.  While I still wouldn’t go back, the patterns of my life haven’t changed drastically.  I’m still chasing deadlines and juggling one too many projects. 

I sat perched on the edge of my bed last night going through my weekly calendar, cause I’m a nerd that way. When I got up to get some chapstick, cause I’m a nerd that way too, something caught the corner of my eye, something bright orange on my white sheets, on my white bed. Paint. Oil Paint. I found the culprit on the side of my foot, which luckily kept it from being tracked through the rest of my bedroom. There’s still paint on my sheets and under my fingernails, and on several of my shirts. My room is a scary disaster, my laundry undone, and my projects unorganized. But there’s paint on my hands. 

I’ve set aside some time in July for a new project, which really means I am giving myself a ridiculous deadline even though I don’t actually have time. Thirty pieces in thirty days.  And I am behind already.

But there’s paint on my hands.

well. as usual my execution is the last to show. and rather Unfashionably late.

Three weeks ago I was, literally, in a car sitting at a four way stop on a trip back from South Carolina.  Metaphorically, I was, again, at a crossroads trying to make a decision about my life.  The shiny new full time job that appeared out of nowhere or to stay where I was, in my hodgepodge collection of projects and jobs.

ive always hated decisions.

For the majority of my early life, I truly thought that I had one great decision to make. That my parents would guide me through school up to the point of my high school graduation, at which point, I would have to make the monumental, life altering, future changing, decision of where to go to college, wrapped around what to do there.  After that I, for some completely irrational reason, believed that the rest of my life would simply fall into place.

Pretty quickly into college, it starting sneaking into my subconscious that things would not turn out that way I had planned.  As new decision after new decision loomed on my horizon I realized that I was going to have to make a new plan.  So, I decided to simply be willing to go, to do my very best to be willing to go where I was sent. For years that has been my mantra, as long as the road signs were clear, I tried to be willing and whether I was or not, I went.  

As I rode, I thought over the places I had been, college, graduate school in Memphis, Africa, and even following the path back home.  At first, I assumed that the shiny and terrifying new was to be my next step, and I steeled myself to again follow and go. This was my pattern, my mantra, be willing and go.

This is why I never saw it coming. Such a subtle difference, I almost mistook for fear.  This time shiny new was being used as a tool, teaching me to be willing to STAY.

Now, instead of allowing my decisions to choose me, I am choosing this decision.  And my hodgepodge collection of projects and jobs has instead become a collection of handpicked passions and strategic occupations.

Moving forward, I hope to use this space to connect the dots on my ever-varying collection of hats. Artist. Creator. Anxious Wanderer. Daughter. Helper. Neurotic Peacemaker. Renovator. Water Purifier. Photographer. Sister. Nanny. Sarcasm Distributor. Secretary. Teacher. Sanity Misplacer. Supporter. 

 

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there's an old story told in my family, a legend of sorts, of a tiny child that literally carried the sun with her wherever she went.  she was beautiful, loving, and mean. but fiercely loyal. always. she was an incredible little monster, impossible to tame. she travelled the world with her family, filling every space and illuminating every adventure. 

fearful of her adventurous spirit and careful for her safety her father always kept a close eye on her. one summer at the sea, together, they rode the elevators of a magnificent hotel that reached towards the sky. her father, ever careful, always told her to stand in a corner so he could keep her safe. like all things, it became her corner.

one day her father paused as the golden doors opened. there in her corner stood a huge, intimidating man. her father reached for the little girl behind him to settle her somewhere else. but he was too late. she was already headed for her corner. unhesitating, she walked up to the man. her blue eyes sparked and her curls glowed as she said, "you are standing in MY corner".

she rode the elevator down to the bottom floor, happy and content, in her corner. in the opposite corner stood a large man with a badly hidden grin on his face. 

TO THE FIERCEST GIRL I KNOW:
NEVER LET THE MONSTERS STAND IN YOUR CORNER.

 



^^^ We have enjoyed having our Willow girl and her mama at home with us for the last six month. And I'm just not quite sure what we are supposed to do without her.





^^^And these two. so perfect. cheers to my girls.



Growing up, Halloween was a big night for us. Picture the late 90's and a million kids running around in killer (handmade, thanks mama.) costumes. We had so much fun that we continued dressing up and yes. we even went trick or treating, well into high school. Unfortunately, college put an end to our annual candy induced comas.
This was my first Halloween at home in several years, and the trick or treating and the secret identities have been officially reclaimed by the little goblins that are slowly consuming our attention.  We are all grown up now and relegated to experiencing the magic of pretend through our little bitties’ eyes.
Using every inch of the skills I have acquired in my seven years of art school. my parents are SO proud.  I threw together a pretty awesome Evil Queen costume for my sister to match her little Snow White. im still waiting on my ribbon.  

^^^ She made a pretty hot Evil Queen.


^^^Snow White & The Evil Queen


^^^ Our little bitties were a little slow figuring out exactly why people kept putting candy in the magic, plastic, jack-o-lanterns, but they very wisely kept these concerns to themselves as they pulled out each piece given to them and tried to eat it as quickly as possible. 



^^^ Snow White and Minnie Mouse going door to door. 




Happy Belated Halloween Everyone. Enjoy your candy comas. 


This is one of my dearest childhood friends. Two years ago I was a bridesmaid in her wedding and this fall we had a wonderful time documenting her incredible baby bump.  We are in the baby era. And a rather pink one it is turning out to be. So please enjoy this happy little family while I wait patiently, or not so patiently, to add another sweet bundle to my collection of wonderful, adorable, perfect, baby girls!








Coming full circle. 

About ten years ago, my family met a man named Obey. Obey was from Tanzania and was attending a bible college in Birmingham. One sunday he wandered into the church I was baptized in as a child and where my extended family still attends. This church adopted and ordained Obey. When he returned to Tanzania they helped to support his ministry. Through Obey, my family began to learn about Tanzania and eventually, through him, we were connected to Martin and Charles in Kisii, Kenya. Unfortunately, Obey died from Typhoid about five years ago. Kenny and Thaddeus, along with continued support from America, have continued Obey's work and the church he started in Dar es Salaam. 

Before our trip this year, one of our Sweetwater board members ran into a man in a hardware store. Being the friendly fellow that he is, it wasn't long before he discovered that the man's wife, a doctor in Birmingham, was working with a group in Dar es Salaam. When the man went home and told his wife about Sweetwater's work, she became very interested and requested that we install a chlorine generator at the main church in Dar.  Arriving in Dar we met Joel and Hilda, who lived in Birmingham for almost fifteen years until they returned home to run the ministry in Dar es Salaam. 

On our last work day in Dar, Phoebe and I sat with Joel as he relayed to us his testimony and his goals for his organization. He explained to us that the people in the villages often are in need of physical help. They are hungry and poor and their goal was to minister not only to the spiritual needs but the physical needs of the Tanzanian people. His enthusiasm and love for his work was wonderful to experience and when he finished I began the story of Obey. I told him that as a little girl, I had heard this man speak on this exact thing. Obey gave a sermon that I will never forget. He said that he walked into that small church in Birmingham, Alabama and he was homesick and tired and hungry and at the end of the sermon the people greeted him, warmly, and invited him to lunch. Obey always said that this was what he fell in love with first. That we need to attend first to peoples physical needs and then their spiritual needs. 

At the end of my story Joel looked up and said, "I know this man, he was my friend!"


^^^ Us with Joel and Hilda along with Kenny and Thaddeus.