The weather here in the south has been wild for weeks, sweet home Alabama and the horrible tornado that struck there was devastating to all of us, as we were once again reminded that life changes in an instant. We felt this storm as it passed over us and had the temperature not dropped it could have hit here. That very day as it was spankin’ Alabama Rusty our foreman at the cattle company was moving cows to higher ground and the treatment center was moving folks from the mens house as the water was rising on the Piney River. We were all tense as it is a year ago this week that Nashville suffered the great flood and we like many others lost much property including our home and seven other buildings, 400 goats, barns, fencing, cows and countless amounts of ranching equipment. We’ve learned a lot and mainly to trust the process and to have faith the the right path will be revealed. I personally changed as a result of so much loss. Nashville inspired me as folks pulled themselves up by the boot straps and rebuilt. I fell in love and like a women in love I found my way to the heart of this city via it’s stomach. Maybe that is the purpose of natural disasters, to make us stop appreciate the small things and connect as a community. Just maybe tragedy is life’s way of showing us that we have lost relationship with one another and the simple aspects of life.
Mercury went direct last week and wow did life fly forward (as mercury retrograde is all about recycling through our past). I’ve had my seat belt on ’cause fo’sho my M.T.P. has turned into a time machine. I’m not certain if it’s just me, but each day seems to zoom away. I’m very happy to say that I’ve been enjoying myself and partaking in all that Nashville has to offer, from the Lady Gaga concert – yep, I went and yep I loved it – well what I loved is how thought provoking the experience was. In the 1970′s Bette Midler rolled on the scene encouraging folks to embrace their outrageous selves, my momma loved her, therefore Bette Midler was a part of my childhood. Madonna busted out in the 80′s & ’90′s pushing the sexual envelope, placing societal taboo’s on the table. Now we have Lady Gaga, honestly I’d listened to her music and popped around in my seat cruising down the road to her tunes but I really had no idea what she was about other than funky outfits and giving us something to look at other than the perfectly clad mannequins that typically grace the red carpet ceremonies. What I loved about her concert besides the fact that this little sista’ can sing; is that she has a very clear and direct message – be you, you were born this way, you are perfect as you are, god and Jesus love us all. There is room in heaven for you, regardless of what society says. This is a big deal here in this deeply Southern city where “Jesus lovers” attempted to block access to the concert by shouting such “Christian” things like, “You women are sluts, and Jesus HATES gays. There is no room for you Heathens in Heaven.” Gaga’s concert was a beautiful reaction to this unattractive behavior. I was told as a child that Jesus loved and walked with those that society rejected, I always believed that he loved all humans and that hate was not apart of his language. Anyways, I was intrigued by how many of us need to hear these words that we are good enough. Even me, Ms.Know It All, have moments of, “Really, am I OK? Am I good enough?
The icing on the cake was The Band Perry sitting down alongside of us, as I was in a private sweet the guest of a dear friend who happens to work for Sony Music. If y’all remember Isabella sang The Band Perry’s hit If I Die Young at Corinthian Baptist Church and her talent show. They were so kind to send me home with a note for Isabella and offering up plenty of conversation, as they had seen the video from Corinthian Baptist Church of Isabella singing and loved it.
Earth day was another good time here in Nashville, this city is so do-able, meaning that connecting and participating is super easy. We joined a handful of families from Bella’s school and spread our blankets out to listen to all the good music that Nashville over flows with, plus I made my way through the agricultural booths and food advocates. My favorite was meeting The Barefoot Farmer, Jeff Poppen, a biodynamic farming guru!
Easter was another grand day as Mary Alice arrived early in the morning and the girls had an egg hunt with our neighbors and another family from Bella’s school. I went to mass but it was so crowded with the over flow of “Holiday Catholics” like myself that I spent most of mass sitting outside on face book.
The following week Abi and I headed downtown to meet with folks at the health department. We applied for a mini-grant a few months back and it looks like we are in the running. What I appreciated the most was that the women we met with really see the value of the Noble Food Makeover; it is a sustainable approach – gardens, farmers market, cooking – community – all under one roof. I also have come to a total understanding – I’m not an activist, I’m not a “food advocate” I’m just a lady sharing what I know and it’s not all about food, it’s about choices. The food is the gravy, ‘cause only once we’ve taken back our power, seen ourselves, truly understand that we are creating our own outcomes can we organize ourselves with healthy food choices. I don’t want to create programs that are dependent on grants, that goes against my entire personal deal – I want to create programs that are dependent on the individuals and the community that they belong too. The Noble Food Makeover is not a charity event, and what I do when I cook at Corinthian is all about my personal honor and the ability to participate and share. Yes there are items needed to be donated but it’s once again more about sharing.
Abi and I left the health department completely moved by our meeting, Abi has been working diligently on the grant and now I’m finishing it up. If we get some money it will be to build the gardens, buy the food and offer a stipend to members of the congregation and the city of Nashville that want to really learn to cook and recreate Noble Food Makeovers all over the city.
Friday was a big one in this here house, Isabella made her 1st Communion in the Catholic Church – she was so beautiful and proud. Our house was a buzz and so was the M.T.P as we all piled in – my neighbor, her three little girls, Lola, Ana (Lee’s daughter), Abi, Mary Alice and myself – fo’sho we looked like a crew of sister wives with Lee holding the baby. One of the moms later asked, “Wow all of your sisters showed up?” I giggled,” No, we aren’t related.” Maybe ‘cause we all refer to lee as big daddy this adds fuel to the fire? I am so irreverent. I’d received a letter from the school apologizing for the way in which they handled the “punching” situation a few weeks back. I quickly found the principal and told him how much I appreciated the letter, that’s the thing about Nashville and the south – there is still a sense of etiquette and grace that is applied to every day living. What I wanted to explain to the Principal is that I’m am sorry if I seemed upset by the situation but that I love deeply, I care deeply, I feel deeply and I provide as a mother from a very deep place.
That night I finally went to the Bluebird Café to listen to songwriters in the round. The Bluebird Café is a local legend; songwriters fill the stage and share the tales that led to the songs. Everyone sits quietly listening; again I reveled at all of the talent that this southern city holds within its arms.
My D.F.F. (Dear family friend) rolled down from Ohio, she had a follow up visit with Dr. Sheng and she wanted to help me out with an up and coming Noble Food Makeover event. She brought with her a friend Cantrell who was way game when it came to supporting the Noble Food Makeover. The good news before I go any further is that my D.F.F is feeling way better and she has totally taken her power back in the kitchen – yep she is doin’ it y’all preparing meals that heal fo’herself and her entire family has rallied and are doing the same.
Saturday was The Celebration of Health for the Nashville Public Schools, this event was held at Carter Lawrence School on 12th Ave and Edge hill. Mary Alice, Lee, my girls, D.F.F. and Cantrell all loaded up in the M.T.P once again for a day of participation. We served up healthy blueberry smoothies packed with sea veggies, kale and Bee Pollen (local helps with outdoor allergies). The Vita Mix was rockin’ and of course we spent the day laughing. (click here to watch video from the days events)
The grand finale was an evening out, The Ryman Auditorium - the original home of the grand old opry. I grew up hearing about the Ryman my grandparents were big country music fans, Loretta Lynn is one of my all time favorites and Patsy Cline reminds me of my momma – as she loved to play her records. I knew this joint was gonna be cool but what I didn’t know is that it was all about going to church. Lee and I entered the main room and I caught my breath – TIME washed over me, I could feel all that had been felt over the years – both from the stage and from the audiences; the energy of dreams coming true. We walked to our pew – ‘cause the Ryman is called the mother church and set up originally so. Tom Jones stepped on stage and my foot got to tapping. I didn’t know just how many of his songs I knew but let me tell you this dude is 70 years old and still getting down. His band was fantastic – I could have done with out the flinging of underwear as I’m such a germ freak but I appreciated 70 year old women throwing ‘em up there – again I heard Lady Gaga’s voice as she said “let’s go to church Nashville.” Upon my arrival 2.5 years ago I had no idea that I would have such a soulful experience on so many different levels. Who knew my spirit was gonna go to church and revel in it.