Thursday, October 31, 2013


I remember the first time I read the book.  We lived in an old house across the road from my church.  We only lived in that house for a short time, but I have many foundational memories there, nonetheless.  One of the things I adored about that house was my bedroom.  I romanticized it as to the likes of the bedroom from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.  It was small, but magical.

The house was just down the street from Flint Creek.  I remember reading the adventures of Jesse and Leslie and envisioning my own magical kingdom just over the rushing waters into a lush forest of make believe.  It was such a dream to be transported to a place where you always felt enchanted.

“It wasn't so much that he minded telling Leslie that he was afraid to go; it was that he minded being afraid. It was as though he had been made with a great piece missing - one of May Belle's puzzles with this huge gap where somebody's eye should have been. Lord, it would be better to be born without an arm than to go through life with no guts.”

Many books later, I still find myself fascinated with the story of childhood friendship.  It was my first view of how something you love, that makes you feel so real, can be taken from you in a heartbeat.  I truly believe it built a foundation in me to cherish everything you love.

“Sometimes it seemed to him that his life was delicate as a dandelion. One little puff from any direction, and it was blown to bits.” 

Because you never know what tomorrow brings, I am thankful for the life and breath these ladies have given me.

The Defender of the Universe

The Opinionater

The Philosopher

The Thinker

The Giver

The Caretaker

The Prayer Warrior

The Smiler

The Balancer

Not pictured:  The Entertainer, The Cryer, and The Pleaser

"Now it was time for him to move out. She wasn't there, so he must go for both of them. It was up to him to pay back to the world in beauty and caring what Leslie had loaned him in vision and strength."

We are not the best.  We are not even close to the best.  But together, we are something pretty special.

I believe I have found my Terabithia, magic and all.

The One Who Falls Out of the Hammock

“Sitting in cold wet britches for an hour was no fun even in a magic kingdom.” 

*All quotes from Katherine Patterson's Bridge to Terabithia.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

it hurts

Feelings are tough.  It's an uncomfortable place for me.  I think thats why I like writing.  It gives me a place to say it and leave it.  It has been my experience that if I tune in to the acuteness of my feelings, I become overwhelmed with the hundreds of feelings that didn't get that attention in the first place.

There is a risk taker in me.  Its the part of me that sees the sign above and wants to explore beyond the rail.  I see the picture below and want to do a full swan dive into the blue water.

Thats the complication of feelings.  I find it hard to tune into raw emotion on something and ignore all of the other things that surround it.  I just want to dive in and suffer the consequences.

I have been blessed with a once a year "reckless abandon" with the safest players in town.

The stats are impressive.

14 years
13 girls
6 states
33 kids
18 marriages ( do the math)
25 degrees earned

In short, we are moms, wives, doctors, educators, professionals, and counselors. We are shy, funny, opinionated, and practical.  We cook, clean, write, run, and bike.  I will dedicate some writing on their individual beauties at a later date, but simply amazing describes them all.

They are my safe place.  Dive in.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Harvest Moon

I can't help it.  I'm sure the name has something to do with it, but it's not the only reason.  It's not even the main reason.  I'm not really clear why I bear its name, since I was born in March, but its my name.  Its as if the season pulls on my soul in a way that is so organic.  My heart rises and sets with each day of the harvest.

"Harvest Moon" by Neil Young has always been one of my favorite songs.  There's something about the idea of falling in love while the air turns crisp and the days start to shorten.  I have fallen in love during the fall many times.  Most recently, the carefree spirit of a blue-eyed little girl has sent my heart into orbit.

The original theme was a luau, but as the date loomed closer, she grew more and more unsettled with the idea.  Its hard to imagine which came first, the planner or the plan, but she has definitely inherited the gift and curse of event coordination.

"I think it will be too cold for luau clothes."

"I don't think my friends will get it."

"I don't like that kind of music."

When the time came to commit to her birthday party theme, she came back quite certain.  "I just want to hang out with my friends in the backyard."

 What a perfect thing to do on a brisk October night.

She started with the menu.  Of course, everything she selected had a person attached to it.  She wanted Mamaw's pigs in a blanket and Heather's chili.  We dedicated an entire weekend to shopping for the details.

Hourglass soda bottles
Individual popcorn holders
Journals and pencils made out of bark for each of her guests
Lantern lights for the tree

It was the first weekend that really felt like fall.  Lily girl gathered her nearest and dearest girlfriends and celebrated the season as if she was named after it.

At the end of the night, her oldest friend, Fred, remained and I eavesdropped on their giggles in the bed.

I cherish her.  Every single second.

“Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile.” 
 William Cullen Bryant


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Daydream Believer

I remember the night so vividly. I wasn't feeling quite right and I knew I had felt that way before.  Robbie was out of town and Tate was sleeping. I knew the time was right to find out for sure.

I was scared to death.

I already knew the answer before the test results showed. Tate was not even one yet and I was far from a master mother. I was more scared to tell Robbie. I felt like a pregnant teenager about to tell her parents. I knew he was going to flip out.

As I was processing through how to tell him, I heard some noise from Tate's room. I quickly shoved the test in a drawer and ran upstairs to check on him. He was standing in his bed crying and as soon as I picked him up, I knew we had another "first". He was burning up with a 104 fever.

I was scared to death.

I jumped in the car to head to the ER. My head spun around with absolute panic. Another baby? 104 temp?

I'm sure I was quite a sight as I walked into the hospital covered in vomit, sweat, and tears carrying my sick boy. Robbie came running in from his recruiting trip and we rushed back for tests. After what seemed like days, Tate's fever came down, he fell asleep and we sat in the hospital room staring at each other.  I knew it was time to tell him. 

I was scared to death.

My pregnancy was easy. No sickness. No pain. No exhaustion. Labor was easier. She entered this world with such ease the doctor barely made it. 

I should have known what kind of girl she was going to be from the time we had together as one. Many nights I would lay in the bed singing a song to her. "Cheer Up Lilybean.  Oh what can it mean to a daydream believer and a homecoming queen."  

I sang that Monkees song to her as a baby. The first line is my favorite, "Oh, I could hide 'neath the wings of the bluebird as she sings."  I'm not sure which came first, my singing of the song or the free spirit of my La-La Lily, but it is clearly a song for her.  She makes all my fear go away. 

She is divine. 
A learner.  
Story writer. 
She is spirited. 
Music Lover
Contagious Laugher
She is sweet. 
Card maker. 
Love giver. 

She is our Lily Bean!  Happy 8th Birthday to the breath of our family!


Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Day Fit for a Bean

The alarm went off at 6:30 this morning. Two pieces of my heart loaded the car and headed north on 75 to Lexington.

Several hours later, I heard her footsteps running down the stairs and girls' day began.  She was already dressed for the day and asking a million questions. When? Where? Why? How?  I know there will be a day when her excitement fades. This fact alone gets my feet on the floor several minutes before my mind wants to.

We loaded up Rae for a birthday party shopping day. She had her theme. She had her list, but the first item on her agenda was the music.  To my delight, Dave Matthews Band soon was playing on the radio and we headed to the mall.

A day fit for a bean is a real treat.

She smiles like me.
She slouches like me.
She plans like me.
She daydreams like me.
She loves like me.

A Rae Ride. Milkshakes. Matching Spider Web Toes. Shopping for the Perfect Party Outfit. A Coke and a Smile. Pretzels and a Movie on the Couch.

Day 8:  Soda Saturdays


We rode home in silence. The sound of pure comfortable joy.


Life is filled with moments. Moments that take your breath away.  I have to admit it doesn't happen to me often. I live most of my days keeping my breath safe and secure.

It's not about the win.  It's not about the crowd. It's not about the rivalry. These things all matter but for me, it's that ONE moment that you stop and it feels the world around you is in slow motion.

I stood near the end zone in my red cowboy boots waiting for the game to start.  The band and the cheerleaders lined up, the student section screamed, and the team huddled. It was at that moment the film reel slowed to an almost halt and I thanked The Lord above for giving me this gift.

Day 7:  Blue Raiders


It's a great day to be a Raider!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

4 Chambers...One Heart

A heart beats.  Every beat is the result of four chambers that have distinct and intentional roles.  Each chamber plays its own part in the workings of a bigger system.  It is a very scientific thing that translates to a amazing act of God.

I have my own heart.  My heart beats faster when faced with adversity or negativity.  On the other hand, my heart is stabilized by the things that make it beat.  Holding hands.  Laughing.  Believing.

My family is its own heart.  I have termed us "Team O'Bryan" for most of our existence because quite frankly, we couldn't survive if we didn't work together.  Our function only works if all of our hands are in the huddle.  Each of us is a chamber that flows blood through our family.

Robbie is the achiever in the bunch.  He is a task master and maintains order and consistency in day to day operations.  He is driven by the acts of our family and how they unfold.

I am the words of those actions.  We have one family rule.  "Be Kind."  It is the very thing that keeps a temperature on all that we do.  If we are not kind, then we are not.

Tate is the justice of the family.  He believes intently and cares deeply.  He reminds us that doing the right thing is the only thing to do.  Just like a compass, he always points north and ensures we stay on the right path.

And then there's Lily.  Lily is the fresh air that blows in the mundane of a day.  She flutters her way in and out of situations with less than a care for anything but everybody at the same time.  She loves in a way that feels like a tickle, while deeply touching your soul.

Today we took the day to enjoy each other and do some pre-celebrating of the birth of our Lilybean.  Breakfast at Waffle House.  Dancing to favorite songs on the Jukebox.  A new bike for Bean.  Milkshakes.  Raider Pride Bonfire.

I love these people.  It was a perfect day.

Day 6:  Team O'Bryan


My heart might pop.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Funny Thing Is...

Life is busy. On any given day, a woman can face every challenge known to man. It's tough being a mother, wife, daughter, sister, professional, etc...  Moments of pure laughter and joy can seem so foreign in the day to day feelings of frustration, worry, or just plain boredom. 

I thoroughly believe that in order to be a better YOU, one must surround themselves with people that remind them of their true being. It is, in fact, the very essence of friendship that can fill a heart to a swollen state. 

I have read through my posts of yesteryear and there is one group of ladies that have always brought me to that place. We are connected in many different ways and are as opposite as the day is long. We met in college and have made it a priority for 20 years to take time out to reconnect. The constant in all of our lives is each other. 

Tonight, we celebrated Stef's birth and like many times that we are together, laughter filled the space where the mundane used to live. It was an appetizer for our annual girls' weekend that begins two weeks from tomorrow. They are my champions of the #lifeisbiginthelittlechallenge. They remind me that I am never alone, life is worth celebrating and sometimes all it takes is some chips and salsa to make it all worthwhile. 

Day 5:  These Girls


I encourage all women to find those ladies in your life and make them a priority. You will make yourself a better person in the process. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Legend of Zelda

I am not much of a video game or tv gal. It probably stems from the fact that we didn't have cable until my teens. Our first Nintendo System arrived when my brothers were old enough to enjoy games like Super Mario Brothers & Ken Griffey, Jr.  I remember pretty intense games between Tony & Rusty, some even drew blood.

One game I enjoyed more than others was The Legend of Zelda. I'm not sure what it was about this game, but I found it intriguing that this little character roamed around seeking items from others to help him on his journey.  The more items he obtained, the easier he maneuvered on his path.

Today, I played the role of Zelda. On my quest for writing inspiration, I made a surprise visit to one of my favorite writers, the dirty librarian. Her writing has been extra inspired over the past year due to some adversity in her life. Like a seasoned writing pro would do, she has used these troubled times to enhance her craft. One doesn't have to take my word for it. Ole girl was featured not once, but twice by The Huffington Post. My favorite part of my visit was stepping back in time. She is a legend in her small town, as you see her below posing in front of her lettermen's jacket that is rightly displayed in the trophy case.  I can think of no one better that exemplifies #lifeisbiginthelittlechallenge.  Hence, today's hashtag...

Day 4:  The Dirty Librarian


For those of you that are concerned about my sanity, do not fear. Writing obsession will end with Fall Break. I do plan to write more frequently than before after this week of priming the pump. 

Monday, October 7, 2013


As I continue my writing awakening, I find myself with more perspective. After a great visit with Bobo in Mobile, the kids and I loaded the car this morning to make the 6 hour drive back home. The drive is a favorite time of mine especially with Rae's top down, sun shining, and music blaring. The morning hours were a bit chilly but we struggled through and finally reached perfect convertible temps.

While driving, we approached a place that evoked some painful memories for me. I tried to start a conversation with the kids to distract me from the thoughts, but their iPods prevailed.  I went through my many self-taught coping mechanisms and finally decided to drown out the thoughts. As I have said many times, it's as if I have my own DJ ready to play a therapy song on cue. I turned the speaker on only to hear a classic from my college days. This particular song reminded me of some of my darkest times from the mid-90s. My dear friend, Lea, and I would scream sing the words to Alanis' Ironic, until we forgot the problems of the day.

Here's the ironic part, after listening to the song at least four times, I found my thoughts were still there. There was only one thing left to do. Which leads me to today's entry for #lifeisbiginthelittlechallenge.

Day 3:  The Drive


There is only one place to go when sorrow arrives. Thankful for a prayerful end to my drive. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Colors of the Rainbow

Today was the perfect scene for my new writing project. What better place for my #lifeisbiginthelittlechallenge than Tropical Depression Karen coming in on what would be our only beach day?  This is how it works sometimes. As a matter of fact, this is what cliches are written about. I can promise you that while making the lemonade, finding silver linings, and tasting the box of chocolates, there is plenty of attitude adjusting going on. But as the greatest cliche goes, "Any day that starts with Krispy Kreme..."  Well maybe it's not a cliche, but it sure does get the day started.

From top left to right:

Stay tuned for more #lifeisbiginthelittlechallenge!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

An Awakening

Something's been stirring. Not like a tilt-a-whirl, throw-up in your mouth kind of spin, but rather a circular motion. Like a spin that happens when water goes down a clogged drain.

I stopped trying to figure out why. That makes the spinning worse. I decided, instead, to focus on the how. How does one stop feeling dizzy when things are off-balance, blurry, or just plain weird?

The only thing I know to do is curl up in the fetal position and hold on until it's over. It works temporarily but at the end of the day, the spinning won't stop. Plain and simple, I am the spinning. And the more spinning I do, the less of me there is.

I've been thinking about this blog a lot.  The fact of the matter is I haven't felt much like writing lately. It's been over a year since I've even tried. It goes back to that phrase about "Best Intentions". I have a lot of those. This summer I found my daughter reading the words I had written about her as a toddler. It was then I realized I MUST find my voice again, if only for her sake (and memories).

My friend Meghan has been spot on lately. It's as if she can read my mind and writes exactly what I'm thinking about. You can check her out

She recently challenged me (and any of her other readers) to a reflection show-down. A hashtag commitment to #lifeisbiginthelittlechallenge. It seemed like a great place to start for a lover of writing who can't find her voice. So here goes.  Fall Break described in hashtags.

Day 1:  Bobo Time

Top-Left:  #donteverletgo
Top-Right:  #PIGwithBOBO
Center-Left:  #checkingoutUSA
Center-Left:  #sunkissedandsmiles
Bottom-Left:  #butchcassidyburger #atethewholething
Bottom-Right:  #dutchicecreamohmy

Stay tuned for my slow awakening this week!