Texas Independence Day

“ I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. it is a mystique closely approximating a religion. And this is true to the extent that people either passionately love Texas or passionately hate it and, as in other religions, few people dare to inspect it for fear of losing their bearings in mystery or paradox. But I think there will be little quarrel with my feelings that Texas is one thing. For all its enormous range of space, climate, and physical appearance, and for all the internal squabbles, contentions, and strivings, Texas has a high cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section in America. Rich, poor, Panhandle, Gulf, city, country, Texas is the obsession, the proper study and the passionate possession of all Texans.” ~John Steinbeck, 1962

Saturday, March 2, was Texas Independence Day. On that date in 1836, the Declaration of Independence from Mexico was signed, officially separating Mexican Texas from Mexican rule, creating The Republic of Texas. Yes, the story Michael told me about Texas being the only state that was once an independent country is really true.

Last Friday, my friend Judi and I attended an author meet and greet at our local library. Judi is from Nebraska and I’m from Iowa so we both know we have a lot to learn when it comes to Texas. We try but it’s a long process. Even after years of living and learning “Texas,” we both experience moments when complete strangers walk up to us, looks us up and down, shake their heads, and makes the loud proclamation, “You ain’t from around here, are ‘ya?”

Time flew by as we listened to the stories shared by W.F. Strong from his book, Stories From Texas. His presentation was a mixture of history class, personal memoir, and stand up comedy. He impressed us both enough we waited in line to get our very own signed copy.

Along with the quote from Mr. Steinbeck, let me share a few others that are Mr. Strong’s favorites:

  • Davy Crockett: “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.” Crockett said this angrily after losing his Tennessee bid for U.S. Congress. (I think he said, “Y’all can go to hell,” but grammatical purity likely corrupted the original transcription.)
  • Conrad Hilton: “There’s a vastness here, and I believe that the people who are born here breathe that vastness into their soul. They dream big dreams and think big thoughts, because there is nothing to hem them in.” Hilton launched his empire in Texas with his very first hotel in Cisco in 1919, going on to open Hiltons in Dallas, Abilene, Waco, and El Paso before expanding beyond the state.
  • Larry McMurtry: “What my whole body of work says…is that Texas spent so long getting past the frontier experience because that experience is so overwhelmingly powerful. Imagine yourself as a small hopeful immigrant family, alone in the Staked Plains, with the Comanche and the Kiowa still on the loose. The power of such experience will not sift out of the descendants of that venturer in one generation and produce Middletown. Elements of that primal venturing will surely inform several generations.” McMurtry wrote this in an essay for the Texas Monthly several years ago. In more accessible language, he also famously said: “Only a rank degenerate would drive 1500 miles across Texas without eating a chicken-fried steak.” 
  • George W. Gush, reflecting poignantly on his years in West Texas: “Those were comfortable, carefree years. The word I’d use now is idyllic. On Friday nights, we cheered on the Bulldogs of Midland High. On Sunday mornings, we went to church. Nobody locked their doors. Years later, when I would speak about the American Dream, it was Midland I had in mind.”

Okay, y’all, on that note, I’m fixin’ to head out and pour myself some wine.

I am…

B…simply being.   




A Thoughtful Tuesday

It’s Tuesday, the week of Thanksgiving, a day filled with thoughts to share.

Two months ago I re-started my morning journaling. This simple act has become my daily hymn to self–a road I’m building, brick by brick, one morning at a time. This early morning time has given me the opportunity to experience sunrise unfolding outside my office windows. This commitment has formed the foundation for the bridge that connects my hand, my brain, and my memories.

There are mornings when I’m surprised with the emotion literally pressed onto the pages as the words fly across the pages. It feels a little like magic, this small, consistent, practice that has opened and freed my mind of many crazy thoughts that’d begun to control my day-to-day life. I’m very aware there are still outliers, those deep-seated thoughts and beliefs who’ve become scary strong from years of cunning evasion. Because I have had good teachers in my past, I know this work takes patience and persistence. I will continue to tell my stories. I believe being a brave storyteller has created open spaces in my memories. Each tale shared helps push another part of that old belief system out of its secret hiding place.

“Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that… there are many kinds of magic, after all.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circu

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and blessings to all.





My Stories

I’ve had the past couple of days to myself –which usually means I am tearing things apart and/or re-arranging something. I was concentrating so hard on what I was doing, I lost track of time. I knew I needed to finish up so I could write my story of the day. A thought that surprised me. Today’s the first time I realized I considered myself a storyteller. I have to say, I  like that. I also realized how much I enjoy sharing my thoughts here.

Is it easy? No. Deciding what to write and share is difficult some days. Some stories I put on hold because I know they will take much more time to pull out of my head. Others–flow so easily they almost feel like they write themselves.

I found this picture today as I was re-arranging storage spaces. It was taken in October of 1991. I had flown to Austin, Texas, to meet Michael’s family. I think we were at The Oasis. From left to right, the cast of characters–characters being the operative word–Michael, Irving, Michael’s sister’s boyfriend, now her husband, Michael’s sister Neva, and Michael’s Mom.

It was a whirlwind trip filled with all the sites of Austin. We had an extra day of exploration because of an early snowstorm that closed the airport in Denver. It was my first experience of leaving one airport in shorts and flip-flops and arriving home in Denver to snow on the ground.

As I think back on this time, I’m awestruck by how quickly the time has passed. In a blink of an eye, twenty-six years have flown by us. Michael’s Mom and Dad passed away ten years ago. When I do the math, which is always questionable when I am the one doing the calculating, I think I am the age Michael’s Mom was in this picture. Once again, God is giving me a strong message to live each day.

I am passing on that message to all of you. Live and love today. Of all the things we know for sure these days, it is the fact that tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Hold onto each other and enjoy each day with all your heart.

I am…

B…simply being…

I love you.