Too Thrifty Chicks


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For Annie Mae Jones Jeffers

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You are hand kneaded dough that rises to become hot bread. Bread, that along with molasses is considered a meal. But I don’t like molasses, so I always just ate it plain. You are gravy and fried chicken. You are coffee that I am too young to drink. But you. You let me drink it anyway, and the taste for it is always with me even to this day.

You are summers spent barefoot in the sunshine. You are a garden tomato eaten raw, juicy with salt. You are a cut in half tire, turned seesaw. You are muscadine grapes and flowers that grow in controlled chaos. You are my love for rocking chairs and sitting porches. You are chocolate cake and maybe I have been craving the taste of chocolate because I knew this day was coming.

You are women gathered at the table. Gathered in the wonderland of your yard. Gathered long after dark and the lightening bugs have come out. Laughing. Loud and untamed. Happy tears of mirth, running down dark cheeks. And occasionally a little trickle of urine. You are a dip of snuff. Tucked expertly between teeth and lower lip. You are the master pincher. In a family full of men that you loved and gave life, you are the heartbeat at the center of the tree.

FullSizeRender 105When I was told that you had passed, my heart went straight into my throat and then took a free fall into my stomach. Given that you were in your 80s, your passing is not unexpected — should not be unexpected. But who can ever be prepared for death?

I remember very clearly the last time we really spoke. I was in town for A.J.’s wedding. I’d stopped by your house to change clothes.

“Who you,” you asked. “It’s me, Mommae. Keshia.” You looked at me. Uncertainty clouding your face. “Keshia?” “Yes, Mommae. Keshia.” We went through that line of questioning about three times. We did it again after I changed into my dress.

“That’s a pretty dress,” you said. “Who you?”

I am what you helped make me. I am every ounce of love that you poured into me and everyone you have ever come into contact with. I am the wind from rolled down windows on winding country roads. I am pallets on floors and fatback meat. I am wild plums and wild strawberries. I am one of the many seeds in the garden of your family. Thank you for the sunshine of your smile, the strength of your hugs and the nourishing water of your laughter. I honor you. I love you. Thank you for being my bonus grandmother.



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Farewell 5509

Today Team Too Thrifty handed over the keys to the place that has been our home, 5509 Holmes Run Parkway, to our property manager.

How bittersweet a moment it was.

The relinquishing of those keys marks the official start of our new journeys — Reese to Memphis and me, to parts yet unknown — and an ending of sorts to the journey we’ve been on over the last year and a half together.

But it seemed only right to pause and reflect on what 5509 means to us because it wasn’t just a house to us.  It was so much more.

5509 was the place where we slept most nights, often on our sectional couch after too much wine, so much laughter and not a few tears.20140630-184750-67670289.jpg

5509 was the place where we discovered our love for cooking and did our best James Brown impressions across the kitchen floor. It was the place where we often gathered our friends, but also examined the contents of our hearts. It’s the place where we created this blog, dreamed our biggest dreams so far, and created so many shared memories.

It was our home in every since of the word. But it is our physical home no more.

Today the lights are out at 5509, our beloved sectional has a new home and we are no longer the resident inhabitants of what we used to call home. We are in a grateful place of transition.

As we drove away, we gave thanks for the loving sadness that stains our hearts because we know that it comes from a place of knowing what it is like to have a physical home and to carry the memory of it — the peace of it — in our hearts.

We are forever grateful.

– R&R




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Food for Thought Friday: Mindset Reset 2

This post could have very well been called “Give Thanks: The Power of Gratitude,” or even “It Could Be Worse: Why You Should Be Grateful It’s Not” but what all these things boil down to is how you choose to see any given situation. Not just how you shift your mindset or world view to glass half-full or half-empty, but why it’s important to make a deliberate decision to cultivate a spirit of gratitude.

The Thrifty Chicks, in solidarity with our church, have been on a 40 day fast for Lent. As part of the fast we committed to getting some physical activity every day (a little weak here even though we’re runners), maintaining a low-fat, low-sodium vegetarian diet (we got this) and enduring water-only, sunrise to sunset fasts on Wednesdays and Fridays (the struggle is so real).

And if all that weren’t enough our pastor challenged us to give up one last thing for Lent. He encouraged us to give up something bad like guilt, anger, greed and jealousy because they are enemies of the heart. And the tools for defending against those enemies are confession, forgiveness, generosity and celebration and gratitude.

Guarding your heart from discontent

Last Sunday our pastor preached on the importance of celebrating others when you are jealous and being grateful for your own circumstances regardless of what they are. The piece about gratitude planted a seed that I didn’t know would need to take root so quickly in my week because gratitude also is a tool for defending against another enemy of the heart: discontent.

I’ve been sharing with Reese that I don’t see myself pursing my profession the way I currently do for the next 20 years, maybe not the next 10 or even the next 5. A lot of it has to do with the changes I’ve witnessed in my industry. Some of it has to do with the daily realities of doing my job.

There’s a good chance it’s burnout talking, but there’s another chance it’s this deep yearning I have to do something a little different. It’s a scary place to be because 1) I spent a lot of money going to school for this and 2) I really have no vision, inkling or clue of what that something different is.

Until I get more clarity I try to stay focused on my right now, and then, BAM! The mother of frustrating work week hits me and I do not respond with the kind of resiliency that I usually do.  I posted this on my Facebook page:


As I predicted (or likely invited into existence), the day did get more frustrating and I just couldn’t shake how I felt about it all. I could feel the tension in my neck and my back to the point that I was in physical pain and remember thinking, “This is how people die at work or on their way home from work.”  As I was driving home from work, I said out loud everything that I’d been thinking in my head. Anyone looking into my car would have likely wondered if I was having a heated discussion on my hands free ear piece, or that I was seriously bugging out. By the time I got in the house and got settled I was calm. I picked up a book that Reese and I are reading titled “Enough: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity” by Adam Hamilton.

We’re reading the book as supplemental information for Operation Do Better, but it’s been so much more. I happen to be on the third chapter of the book which I had forgotten, after putting it down for a few weeks, is entitled “Cultivating Contentment.” Hamilton denotes four keys for cultivating contentment, but two of them jumped out of the chapter, grabbed me by the shoulder and gave me a firm shake.

Hamilton says, “Remember that it could be worse,” and “Develop a grateful heart.”

Can you say ‘aha moment’? I had actually started that process in the car on the way home without even realizing it. I reminded myself , after I’d finished ranting, that I was grateful to have a job, one on many days I can find a reason to like. I’m grateful to have supervisors  and coworkers who are beyond understanding and supportive. When I think about it logically, I’ve kind of got it made in the shade compared to some people. Does that mean I might not still go pursue that yearning? No, but it does mean I can focus on the right now and easily find a reason to give thanks.

Above all I’m grateful for that revelation that after nearly 40 days of fasting and feeling like I wasn’t getting any answers about anything, that I did give up something else bad for Lent. I gave up discontent.