A Little Better

Somebody changed the radio channel playing at my horse barn.

Instead of country music, we got a mix of show tunes and standards–you know, La Vie En Rose, Unforgettable, Disney ballads. As I began tacking Santiago up, Randy Neuman’s version of You’ve Got a Friend in Me came on. I defy ANYBODY to be either a) still, or b) miserable while that song is playing. Yes, I sang along. You should too. Santa was not too impressed with my barn-aisle boogie, but he got a hug out of it because that is exactly the way I feel about him.

The next tune was A Dream Is a Wish That Your Heart Makes, from the old Disney version of Cinderella. I haven’t heard this piece in years and years… I just leaned on that horse and cried. I don’t know why. It’s a mushy little number, about needing a sanctuary where it’s safe enough to dream, about hope, about fluffy bunnies and twittering birdies… Fortunately, it’s short. I got on rode, and we did pretty well for us, but for a few sniffles (on my part).

This teary trend actually started earlier in the week, with a Zoom concert presented by my friends Jim and Susie Malcolm, a pair of spectacularly talented traditional Scottish singers. Their program focused on Highland tunes, and in the middle of the hour, they sang Wild Mountain Thyme. As Scottish traditional songs go, this one’s actually happy. It’s in a major key, nobody dies, nobody leaves home forever, and if our hero can’t talk his lassie into going thyme-picking with him, he’ll “surely find another.”

Pretty upbeat, for the genre, but the last time I sang this song, I was in Scotland. It’s one of Jim and Susie’s touring anthems, along with Auld Lang Syne. (My favorite version EVER.)

I associate Wild Mountain Thyme with going off on adventures in good company, seeing beautiful scenery, and making new friends far from home. Jim and Susie did the introduction, and I was wrecked. Boo-hoo crying, getting dirty looks from the cats, and missing the hell out of Scotland and my friends.

I don’t think there is “happy crying,” but I do think there’s comfort to be had in feeling safe enough to cry. When my oldest brother went off soldiering in Vietnam, I was about ten years old. I did not cry. I cried when he came home safely a few years later. So too do I think my recent fits of the weeps are an indication that I’m more hopeful and sanguine than I was six months ago. I have the emotional bandwidth to notice the music, Zoom in for the concert, and feel what I’m hearing. For me, that’s progress.

Any progress for you? Setbacks? Wishes or dreams for 2022? I’m donating to the Maryland Food Bank this week. If you’d like to send some meals to the hungry, this site can help you find a food bank near you.

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21 comments on “A Little Better

  1. I’ve mentioned in a blog comment or two, we did some home remodeling during the last year. Last year, when we re-did the finished basement, I went through boxes and boxes and BOXES of paperbacks. I kept some that were especially important to me like a set of Penguin Shakespeare I used in an undergrad Shakespeare class, but most were donated to our local library as well as a used bookstore. Many were from one of my favorite authors (as I do with yours now,I waited and WAITED for her new releases), Rosamunde Pilcher. I had several hardcovers but mostly, mine were ragged from being re-read and re-read for many years. It killed me, but we agreed if we were going to keep paperbacks, they had to be in fairly good condition (The Heir etc. were in fine shape–for now–so those stayed 🙂 )and RP’s were not. I discovered most of my favorites of hers on Kindle, so when I’m in the mood for one, I download one. I recently downloaded her “Wild Mountain Thyme” but haven’t started reading it yet. When you mentioned the song Wild Mountain Thyme, I got a bit teary myself–because Rosamunde was Scottish. I never put the song together with her until now and it will be lovely to have that connection in mind when I re-read it SOON.

  2. Good on you for donating to your area Food Bank. With the holidays coming up it seems even more important to help them now, but they ALWAYS need help.

    I don’t know what it is about music, but nothing touches my soul quicker. I like all types of music – even Rap, if the lyrics are more clever than smutty (smile).

    As for hopes and dreams – I don’t know. Between my physical disabilities and the pandemic, my world has become pretty small. But I work at keeping a positive attitude and it does work. I try to think of others, avoid negativity as much as possible, laugh more than cry, pray, listen to music and read your wonderful books.

  3. This week, I have have become depressed with the isolation of this continuing pandemic. In New Hampshire the trees are beautiful and I love this season, but no one is coming to visit. Winter is coming. My favorite restaurants are closed with no sign of opening. I have not spoken to anyone for so long, I’m finding it hard to find the words to speak.it is both my birthday and my son’s birthday this week. He is in California and I am in New Hampshire. We have not seen each other for almost two years.
    Thank-you Grace! I have read all your books three times during the pandemic and am waiting for the next one. I love to just lose myself in them. Looking forward to your next one.

    • We may only be companions through the blessings of reading Grace’s work, but know that I and others out here care about you, Margaret. I just sang “Happy Birthday ” to you from Georgia. Could you hear me?! Hugs from Georgia

    • Happy birthday to you! I’m so sorry you’re feeling isolated but please know that I’m thinking of you and sending my best wishes for a better year. Fall in New Hampshire is a thing of true beauty. I’ve only seen it once, but remember it fondly. Please go out and enjoy it knowing someone here in Ohio wishes I could see it, too. And here’s a midwestern family hug from another Grace Burrowes fan!

    • Margaret, I empathize with your situation. Hang in there, the pandemic and the associated isolation and closure of your favorite places really is a depressing subject. Call someone if you are able. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there that would find a terrible hole in their world if you were not there. Be good to yourself, do one thing today that makes you happy. I think we are more wrapped up in our own isolation and sadness than ever before and we’re not thinking about each other enough. Forgive them and be the one to call them up. You are in my prayers.

  4. My son is in hospital awaiting heart surgery after his recent heat attack.I made my mind up to travel to see him when I was allowed to travel and visit him due to the pandemic.Because he lives the other side of England and may have the operation in another hospital in another county I can’t set out yet. Last weekend I was due to go on a coach tour to the Yorkshire daleses and was going to cancel it.My son came through the attack “thank God”.He was told by his consultant that he would be staying in hospital until surgery but it may be several weeks and could be at another hospital. He begged me to go on the trip.I did go ,it was for five days.I visited castles,dungeons ,went down canals,pretty villages and grand houses.Green rolling hill and rugged rock,mile after mi!e.History of the cotton mills and mines.The hardships of times gone by.Back in my hotel room I cried , my son had survived,I phoned him every day and each day he sounded better.I’m back home now and waiting to hear where he will be.I will be so relieved to see him. I feel humble and grateful.Yes the tears I shed were thanks for it all.

  5. Thank you for the good thoughts. My emotions have been closer to the surface recently with tears coming more quickly, too. I hadn’t thought of that as better, but I am surprised to realize that is probably true. I have felt like singing again, too – also better after dealing with the pandemic and my medical stuff. Thanks for the good things to think about.

  6. My dream for 2022 is retirement. I’ve worked for 40+ years and it is time for me to head to the barn/ark house.

    We have a large house with a large yard and a pool. Family members include 3 40-50-ish pound dogs and ten new kittens. Long story, but there is no room at the shelter… so they are ours. All of our other pets are neutered and these will be also when they are young enough. We have 5 other cats who are 2-3 years old, and 5 who are 15 and up.

    All of them were originally rescues or came from the shelter.

  7. I’m hoping for some big changes in 2022 if hubs will start his part of it (can you tell I’m grumpy about his procrastination?!). My hope is to be in a different city by the end of 2022. Fingers crossed!

    And I love it when you donate to charities doe the week, Grace! Blessings upon your house

  8. 2021 sucks. A young woman who is very dear to me gave birth to a stillborn daughter in March. A coworker/friend lost her 57 year old husband to an arrhythmia on a family vacation in June. A good friend lost her grandmother in August. My husband lost a friend of 20 years to a heart arrhythmia in August (47 years old). I’m learning two things this year. One, the tears come. They just do. Two, you never know what someone else is dealing with.

    I had lunch out one day this week and had one of the grumpiest waitresses ever. My first thought was no tip for that one. My next thought was I wonder what’s going on in her world? She got a $20 tip on a $10 meal. I left feeling good about myself and hoping I somehow improved her day. That’s my progress for 2021. If you can choose to do anything, choose kindness. You just might change the direction of someone’s day.

  9. Our food bank operates the thrift store for funding. It’s been a difficult year. They rely on volunteer labour. Those who will not/can not vaccinate or wear masks can’t work. Kudos to you for your donation.

    I made 2 @90 minutes mixed tapes (remember those?) when the kids were little of every upbeat tune I had for the “happy” hours between 4:30 pm and 6 pm. They would at least dance.

    Recently, helping our daughter move, she played her re-creation of Mom’s music playlist. It covered from Handel’s Messiah to McNamara’s Band. I’m sufficiently medicated not to weep, but it was special. I need to remember the upbeat stuff and croak along.

  10. I love singing along, even if only in my head. I would say I was saved by total emotional destruction by the arrival of my retirement date. I spent the summer on auto pilot and finally got to where I am now, which is time to re-enter the “land of the living” and I find I am resistant. Probably fear of more miserable associations to deal with. In any case I stuck my toe in the water by volunteering to drive someone to medical appointments. I have never had the time to do that before and so it is new and I hope it goes well at which point I will be able to call it a step forward.

  11. It is great to hear you are doing better. To assume that my saying that is really important could be considered either stalker-ish, or socially expected rote. It’s truly sincere. People meet in such different ways these days. The internet has allowed us such a variety of acquaintance. Even though we don’t know each other personally, never met, I cannot imagine my world without your writing in it. I own 80+ books of yours, the plus counts for anthologies with your stories or downloads of the books you have so generously given me, and I have read and reread nearly all of them, some more than several times. I love your writing. And I know I’m not the only one who shares belongs in this family of fans. Readers and rereaders and listeners/relisteners, because the beauty of your stories,

    So, what I am saying is that it is really important to us that things are going well with you. Love reading about your horses, the things you share of your life in and away from writing. And your new radio station sounds like a blast.

    Here’s to everything good in our lives. We all need some of that every day, whether it is hugging your horse, drying herbs (me) crying to an old song, rereading an old favorite for the n-th time (me again,) or enjoying a glorious Fall day. God Bless you, Grace. And thank you for the reminder to give to our local food banks. Once a year isn’t enough.

  12. Progress? After nearly 2 years of Covid fears and tears and lockdowns, I’m not sure what that would look like. I guess the fact that so many people have been vaccinated is progress, though I won’t feel relief until my grandkids can be vaxed as well. I hope in 2022 to be able to return to some semblance of “normal.” At my local senior center we had been able to exercise indoors without masks as long as we were vaccinated. That lasted for a few glorious weeks and suddenly Covid numbers increased and we are back to asking indoors. So I hope that little bit of progress we have been seeing continues and that we have no more surges and set backs.

  13. My wishes for 2022 are that I can root out the emotional things that keep me stuck where I am! I am focused on starting and finishing at least two books that will help me… and I will also be looking for a new doctor.
    These are BIG things in my world!

    Thank you for donating to the Maryland Food Bank!!

  14. I found myself overcome when I spoke my father’s name on Yom Kippur for those lost in the last year. I have barely shed a tear and it has been almost a year since he died, but since Yom Kippur I have been able to feel the loss and it is welcome. When I tear up I try to sit in the loss if I have the space and just hold it. There is so much imploding in my life right now, but maybe we have all reached the point where that feels normal? The ongoing stress feels less panicky and more defined at least, maybe that is what is opening up some space for feeling for me.

    Food Banks are really in need right now. I donated a couple of bags of food in September and this is a good reminder that I need to make food or money donation a scheduled thing, this winter is going to be hard for many people. Thank you Grace for the reminder that we are in it together.

  15. It may not seem like a big step, but we picked out a puppy this weekend. We are the typical pets are part of the family people, and it was awhile after we had to say goodbye to our golden during 2020 before we could think about getting another dog. Then we were ready, but it was the wrong time. Having a puppy in the car with 2 cats none of whom have taken really long car trips for 22 hours drive time (twice 3 months apart) seemed like a bad choice. Turns out waiting was a good choice for more than one reason since I tripped over my own feet and cut open my knee early in the summer journey and spent the majority of the summer sitting on the sofa.