Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Blessings and Miracles

Many things in my life went horribly wrong and also miraculously right all in this past year. What I like most about Advent is the anticipation of someone and something new in my life. A fresh start renews my spirit so I can only look back at what was a year of blessings and break free of that which caused me pain. January found me in Scottsdale AZ. gawking at the Camelback mountains and the amazing architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. That inspiration led me to the daunting task of taking an Algebra/Trig class which I got an "A". I told you blessings and miracles this is what it is. April, my husband and I received recognition for having an historical farm agriculturally productive now for 115 years. There came a morning in June that I couldn't, no would not get out of bed. I was held hostage by self pity and despair. My childhood friend, Gwen Scott sat at the edge of my bed and made me laugh so hard I had to get my day started. I had gone to Gwen's funeral a few weeks earlier. Her spirit comforts me and her love surrounds me still. Again, blessings and miracles. I have formed a relationship with a group of very talented writers and they feed my soul. Another childhood friend drove from Beaumont to Destin Fl. so we could enjoy an amazing sunset and watch the ocean together. God is good! My writing is taking off. Praise Him from whom all blessings flow. I have not one present under the tree this year (not even for my 20 yr. old). I divided my Christmas club money and sent it to people that needed it more than us. For I am blessed and I want to be a blessing to others. That is what I anticipate most about the New Year, I want to be a blessing to others.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Holiday traditions are as varied as the individuals making them. I use to think I could never enjoy anything but the traditional. Alas, times have changed and for the past five years I've let others redefine the way my family spend Thanksgiving. Due to the hospitality of James, Collette, and especially Therie we celebrate Thanksgiving dinner aboard their 125 feet three deck yacht, Solaris. The food is just like mama makes including my favorite, old fashioned cornbread dressing (not stuffing) with giblet gravy. The menu doesn't stop there. There are pasta dishes, Mahi Mahi, along with turkey, ham, on and on and on. See photo at the top. I love the way the water shimmers as we cruise on Chotawhatchee Bay and sometimes catch dolphins and turtles playing. There is usually a sold out crowd of other travelers that find themselves away from home for Thanksgiving and partake of the services Solaris offer. I think it is as close as you can come to the first Thanksgiving. Dining with strangers on this special day makes Thanksgiving even more traditional since this is the way it got started in the first place. What did you do for Thanksgiving? What is your tradition?

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I am going to tell you what I am thankful for in advance. I am so grateful that I am comfortably in the middle... age wise. I am old enough to look backwards and young enough to look forward. That is a true blessing. When I was young I could only look one way, forward. I raced towards my destiny with not much thought to what I was doing in the present. I really didn't see the bearing the present would have on my future. I couldn't make the connection. I thought once that day was over it was gone, the end. Now I stand in the center looking back at what shaped me and ahead to places yet undiscovered. I am aware of how important it is to live in the day that God has given you, the present. How do you use your present? Do you bask in it or do you rush through it? Do you realize that each day will one day be your past? May you and yours be blessed with a day full of joy, hope and recognition of this special gift.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I've gotten a challenge. You know I can't back down. Here is the challange. All you have to do is blog to the alphabets A-Z for the month of April excluding Sundays. My friend Lee invites all bloggers to participate. For more info. check out Lee's blog

I have always known writing is my destiny. Before I started school I hid under our kitchen table cloaked in secrecy by the lace floor length table cloth left to my game of choice "scribbling." With an eraser less pencil I scribbled on the blank side of discarded bill envelopes. In those days I envisioned myself as a "secretary." Later when I learned my alphabets my writing skills advanced to jotting down every family member's order at supper. It didn't matter to me we all had the same order. I just had to write something. In middle school I started reading "Nancy Drew" and the "Hardy Boys" mysteries. It was the spring board to my starting to write real stories. By the time I was in high school I advanced to writing one act plays. One of them made it to my high school stage. The play received a standing ovation. It was that moment I knew I wanted to pursue writing as a career. Then it happened. My senior year my parents explained why I couldn't go to college to be a writer. "There is no such thing as a black writer. You need to concentrate on something practical," my parents said firmly. It was no need to bring up Niki Giovanni or Maya Angelou, you just didn't disagree or question your parents that way. A dream deferred.
Writing kept returning to me like an old lover whose advances to put black ink on white paper I continued to rebuke. Three decades after my parents senior talk, I read of a writing contest in the newspaper that made my knees buckle and my heart beat loudly in my head. Fingers poised over keys I succumbed to my lover and the sight of my words on the computer screen filled me with an ecstasy of pleasure I could not have imagined. I was finally where I belonged.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


"I've waited to comment on this b/c it's such a touchy subject, although it shouldn't be. All I can truly say is that as a Christian mother, with twelve years of teaching in public schools behind her belt, when I look at a person, I do not see the color of their skin. I see their eyes- are they sincere? I see their face- are they smiling? I listen to their heart- is it full of love? Then I choose who to sit next to." said the comment on my post.

This is the only dialog I received from any of my "Racist" blogs. It was from one brave woman. She restores my faith in humanity because she has it right. The answer she gave is the right answer. I know responding to a stranger's blog isn't the best way to go. I know my passion and stubbornness on this issue is maybe a little over the top sometimes but this one answer lets me know two things. (1). Race is still taboo to talk about in mixed company (2). People do want to express themselves but are afraid of being judged.

So, should I keep at it? Maybe I'll give it a rest. After all the person that wrote "The Answer", has said it well enough.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I interrupt my regular ravings on to insert a letter to my daughter. So you may stop reading at this point if you want or read and make a comment.

Dear honey,
I know you read my blog. I know that you know that I had your cell phone cut off because you went over $48. For this reason you seem only to be talking to your dad (which is great that you are checking in with one of us so that we know you are alright). I just want you to consider a few things as you wrestle with what I know I instilled in you (right vs wrong).

First I am not Geo. W. there is no bailout at the Johnson household. I don't believe in throwing good money at bad choices. It sets a bad precedence...look at the economy.

Secondly, you know by heart my favorite law of physics. Let us say it together now. For every Action there is an Equal and Opposite reaction. Action-you had a gab fest and disregarded your budget and ours. Reaction-i had to cut that cell phone off (fiscal responsibility not meanness).I SUBTRACT $8 A DAY FROM THE $48 OWED EACH DAY THE PHONE IS OFF. Therefore six days times $8 Equal well you get the physics and the logic and you know how your mother operate.

Lastly, I hope this phoneless period will give you a much needed opportunity to pay attention to what's going on with the world and us. We, this country is in a full blown depression. Can you say 78 Billion? Unlike our president, I can't just run down to Kinko's and start printing out money. Well, like W. I could but make no mistake it would be as worthless as his will be. Your future and ours is at stake and you need to pay attention because it will be your responsibility to elect the next president. Unless you can really see beyond titles (democrat/republican) around fears (black/white), unless you have the vision, the knowledge and the faith to vote for not just what is best for you and your family but what is best for the nation then everything I have done thus far as a parent has been a failure.

P.S. As soon as you get dial tone my phone better ring instantly. We need to have a face to face chat over lunch. It was great seeing you last week, you look really well.

Love always

Friday, September 26, 2008


I'm baaaak! And guess what I found out? I did an impromptu visit to my daughter's apartment after the hurricane and found liquor bottles and cigarette butts. Mom, I have two other room mates and I don't know who those things belong to, she pleaded her case as my glare pierced through her very soul. I gave her a piece of indignation she'll not easily forget.

A few days later my friend from college visited my hotel and as best friends do we critiqued all the good times we had in college. I mentioned my husband and I had spent the day before at the Ft. Worth "stockyards". If you've never been, it's a haven for bars, saloons, honky tonk, dance halls and such. "You remember the first time we partied in the stockyards", my friend said laughing. "No I don't think I had ever been there in college", I told her. "Been there!" my friend said still laughing, "we had to use it so bad we peed up against a brick wall!"

If that didn't take that smug self righteous smile off my face nothing could. And guess what I found out? I was once a living breathing twenty year old college student once, even if it was a million years ago. Oh how sometimes we parents forget that.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


I have been trying to explaine to my 21 year old what does being a success mean. I've assured her it has less to do with titles and money and more of the kind of person you are. If you want to succeed you have to first know yourself and define success accordingly. The recipe to success is variation. You add an education formal or not, stir in lots of jobs, pepper it with the experiences of heart ache and discontentment, pour in lots of dreams, sparingly put in a little fear and anxiety, shake it up with bad choices, failed marriages, bills, children that won't listen then take out some things and add others to the mix as your life change. Let simmer, taste, and if that doesn't suit you start over again.
The secret is in the recipe. The more you change the ingredients the more likely you will begin to like the mixture (your life). My recipe for success.... I add a class or two of whatever I am interested in at the time, flavor it with writing, squeeze in some new friends, stir in some thought to finances, pour in heaping servings of church, a dab of farming, a bit of public speaking, some volunteer work here, some reading and travel there. Simmer with patience and sacrifice and bake with the love and forgiveness of God. Sprinkle plenty of laughter often and freely.Ta da here's Debra, a success in her own mind. What is your recipe for success? If you could, what would you change in your life's recipe?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I have to get up and make a visit to the bathroom twice during the night. I know that is more information than you wanted to know about me but I promise I have a point to telling you this. I also have to get up another two times during the course of the night because I have to walk off charlie horses. When my sleep is interrupted like that before I do anything I have to grab my eyeglasses because I can't see where I'm going without them. If you think I'm pathetic you haven't heard the rest of it. Out of the clear blue sky just like clock work I nod off at four in the evening where ever I am. You can imagine I don't leave my house from three thirty on. If my house caught on fire, I would run to my long winding staircase and know I would never make it down in time (bad knee) so my plan is to jump from the second story window and try to land on the bushes. My point is....if I am feeling like this at 55 what could Sen. McCain be thinking about running for president past 70. I'm not a McCain basher but what if that phone rang in the middle of the night and he is stuck in the bathroom. He look so fragile and well ...old. I feel sorry that no one loves him enough to say you could better serve your country doing something a little less stressful. The secret to aging well is knowing your limitations. I compensate for restless nights by not getting up before nine the next morning. I keep busy until three thirty then nod off until four thirty in the afternoon. Hey it's not a bad life. Sen. McCain might want to try it. What have you had to change as you got older? Do you feel there ought to be an age limit for running for President? What are the good things about aging? I take it in stride and find it funny, do you?

Monday, July 21, 2008


Sweat fell off my face like rain. My heart pounded and hands shook as I stared down at the blood in the seat of my panties. A few minutes later I was showing them to my mother. "Oh that", she said with a wave of her hand. "You see, the egg and blah blah and you are a woman now, more blah blah and here are two safety pins and this pad". What the ..... I thought as mom left the bathroom .Not understanding a word she said I searched desperately for a place to get rid of the offending panties. I was ten years old. The next month, same scenario this time I went to my father. Where as mom sugar coated everything, dad was straight to the point. "Every month for the rest of my life", I wailed as dad tried to explain the dreaded "period". "Dad what did I do wrong", I sobbed into his shoulder. "Every girl goes through this even your mother", he said patting my back. "My stomach hurts, dad you have got to do something", I pleaded. "I've got just the thing", he said . He left the room and came back with a bottle and a tablespoon. "Take this and you will feel much better", his voice was so soothing I really began to feel better already. After the third tablespoon, he asked me how I felt. "I feel good dad real good", I said noticing a slight slowing of my words. "What is that stuff"?, I asked feeling good but sleepy. "It's peach brandy" my dad said with a wink, and it'll be our secret. "Whatever you do don't tell your mom" he said gleefully as he returned the bottle to it's hidden place. From that day on I looked forward to getting my period long after my cramps went away. It was a bonding thing. A father child moment that lasted way past the time when I could legally purchase my own bottle and pour it into a glass. The three tablespoons of brandy became a prelude to other things that I needed to share with dad when I didn't know how to get the conversations started. Sex, marriage, money, college, boys, marijuana, whatever I needed to discuss just flowed after that last tablespoon. What's my point? Seven out of ten black children are being born out of wedlock. Groups of white teens are making pregnancy pacts to bring babies into this world without thought to the male parent. Being a boyfriend's baby's mama is not the same as my child has a mother and father. Fathers are so important in a child's life I think it is atrocious to have a baby without one. My mother nurtured and loved me but it was my dad that drilled into me my "worth" in this world. "Know your worth in every situation with a man", he use to preach. "I'm a man and men want a woman that demands respect, know your worth little girl", he use to say. I couldn't have gotten that perspective from my mother. Children need both perspectives if they are to function successfully in society. What is missing in the lives of young women today is that no one has told them what their worth is. No one has told them having a kid without the father around is not worth it. How important was having a dad around to you? Is a two parent household an idea that has come and gone? Who pays the price when children have children? Make it a point to tell a young lady how important she is.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Gift Of Confidence

"There is not much to plea bargain, the law is the law when it comes to stopping at a stop sign, " the city prosecutor said hurriedly looking over a single sheet of paper in front of him. You can plead no contest and take a course. The ticket will stay on your record for three years. "What if I decide to take it to trial", my daughter said through shaky vocal cords. "Do you feel lucky today Ms. Johnson", the prosecutor's voice boomed. With that he reached into his drawer and threw two large plastic dice on the desk. I thought my girl would have a heart attack right there in the office. "Her birthday is tomorrow", I chimed in. "Maybe today is her lucky day", I was overly cheery. "I have pictures that the stop sign was not at a proper distance from the road" she countered clutching a blue folder with pertinent data she had collected to win her case. "Let's see, there is $99 court cost and $200 for the ticket", and by the way you are not obligated to tell me about your evidence", the prosecutor said after the fact. My daughter looked at me with eyes wide that screamed MOM! I dropped my hand down beside my chair with four fingers pointing towards the floor. That meant, be still, I have this. My daughter seeing the signal turned back toward the prosecutor and stared straight ahead. "Do you like to eat out"? he asked looking at me. "Yes, of course", I answered. "Well there are places that offer the driving courses with the meals for $35", he offered. Silence. "You are welcome to wait back in the hallway, you have fifteen minutes to decide to accept the plea or go to trial", he said and stood up. We walked past the court room and I peeked through the window, the court room was empty except for two people and the judge. My daughter plopped in her seat, turned to me and said,"mom I am scared, I don't have $300." "He's bluffing", I said coolly. "There may be witnesses", she whispered. "They're irrelevant to the proof you've gathered, just present your case", I urged. I could smell her fear. I've got to say something to make her believe in herself. She turned and looked away from me. "Whip his ass", I whispered, " make him regret that he ever got out of bed this morning", we both laughed hysterically as others looked bewildered as to what could possible be so funny in a place like this. It was so out of character for me to say something like that, but I could tell my daughter loved it in a hip teenager way. "Of course it is strictly your call I reminded her. I watched her out of the corner of my eyes and saw a crooked smile cross her face. I could hear the wheels in her brain turning. The prosecutor came from behind the double doors strolled up to my kid and asked, "have you decided?" "I'm going to trial "she said even toned her eyes meeting his in a standoff. It was my time to look away as I didn't want her to see the moisture in my eyes and quivering bottom lip, then a crooked smile spread across my face. "Fine, won't you follow me", he instructed. I was puzzled because we passed the court room and followed him back behind the double doors to his office. "It seems", he pondered once we were seated, "no witnesses showed up, not even the police officer that issued the citation, so I am going to ask the judge to dismiss", he said in one breath. "If it is alright with you", he asked without looking at us. "Yes, that's fine with me", my daughter cooed as we both dropped our hands besides our chairs and entwined our pinkie fingers one around the other. The prosecutor walked fast now as we trailed him into the court room. The judge beamed at me as he almost raised from his seat in acknowledgement of someone he saw grow up from a kid. "How can I do my job when the city doesn't place stop signs in the right places and witnesses don't show up, then this young lady brings pictures and proof", the prosecutor whined. The judge looked back and forth, from me to my daughter, then looked down to sign some papers as a crooked smile crossed his face. "Thank you your honor", my daughter blushed. It was hard for me to keep up with her as she raced through the court house door and into the hot sun. She quickly pulled out her cell and in seconds I heard her say, "Dad I won my case". I thought to myself as she waved from her car, "Happy Birthday" my daughter, tomorrow you'll be twenty. Have you ever lost your confidence? What are some things that make you confident? How do you instill confidence in your children?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wandering Minds

Your mind is like a t.v. sometimes it gets stuck on one channel. You know the channel, where you get that voice constantly chattering about what you should have done, could have done, and putting you on guard to mistakes you are certainly going to make in the FUTURE. It's call depression to some but it hides under many aliases, anxiety, self doubt, low self esteem. I have no idea what in your brain trigger this debilitating self talk. I know from experience the voice in your head can keep you from falling asleep and make you believe you are going crazy. It stuns me how sometimes that self talk can immobilize you, and put your life on hold. It doesn't seem so scary though if you analyze it for what it is. It is (the voice) the sum total of all your life's past regrets and future fears recorded and played back to you. The good news is, rather the voices speak loudly or soft, every now and then or constant YOU are in control. Since it is all about your past YOU have to focus on the present. Separate what you are thinking from what you are doing in the present. Change the channel, get up and do something. Have you ever noticed the self talk that goes on in your head? How do you deal with it?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I'm guilty. I drive what my neighbors call that "kick ass" CLS 500 Mercedes. It is not quite what you would expect a middle age stay at home woman to tool around town in. What can I say it is my dream car. You can not imagine the shock and heart break that gripped me when I discovered someone had taken an iron something (crow bar, hammer) and smashed out my fog lights. Sadness crept over me as I thought how someone would take time out to render such a cowardice act. Soon fear over took me. A person hated me so much they wanted to destroy my car. How evil is that? How depraved could that person be? My husband warned "Watch your surroundings". Now the anxiety shook me like a roller coaster ride. The damage to the car paled in comparison to my fear and violation. "What God,what am I doing wrong"? I asked. Normally God doesn't answer me this quickly but apparently He recognized the urgency for the very next evening at mass the first words I read in the Gospel was "Fear no man". Then reading a friend of a friend's blog there was Isaiah 41:10 "Fear thou not; then came Philippians 4:6 "Be anxious for nothing; Today I sincerely prayed for the person that vandalized my car, prayed that God protect them from me, if I ever find out there identity. What do you do when you feel afraid? What un nerves you?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

DREAMS...outdated or the new wave?

Does anyone ever dream anymore? I didn't realize how dreaming and making your dreams come true had become obsolete until.........Obama came on the scene. "The Audacity Of Hope" should have been titled "The Audacity To Dream" because that is what he did. He had a dream. If you went through the sixties and seventies then you were a part of the generation that believed in dreams. We dreamed of peace, love, equality, helping one another, protecting the environment and animals. What happened to all those dreams? Who or what woke us up? I am as guilty as anyone for killing the ability, the importance of dreaming. I told my daughter to save money, get as much education as possible, make contacts along the way, compete, compete, compete but never did I tell her to follow her dreams. Sadly, I never bothered to ask her what her dreams were. I would like to believe there is still time to make our dreams come true. The one's that mean the most at least. More importantly, it's time to teach our children about dreams and their importance especially now that one little boy grew up to make his come one day be the President of the best country on the planet. What were some of your dreams growing up? Did you make any come true? If not what made you give them up? Do you talk to your kids about their dreams? Do you think it is ever too late to make a dream come true?