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valerieluesse
Alabama
Freelance writer/editor and Southern storyteller
Recent Activity
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I guess this year has made all of us a little philosophical. We've definitely had more time to think. This morning, I've been thinking about my job and what a big part of my life it has been. Southern Living has been a life-long enrollment in continuing education, and I'm... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Goin' Down to Mama's
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I’m thinking this morning about photographers. They’re like poets because they can capture a whole spectrum of emotions in a single image. Whereas writers expand on ideas, photographers distill them. They can tell a whole story in one shot. (Hence, “A picture’s worth a thousand words.” You can quote me... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
Have you ever felt so many different emotions at one time that words failed you? You couldn't even wrap your mind around it all, let alone verbalize it? That's where I am this morning. From Daddy's first trip to the emergency room, through a hospital stay, then coronavirus exposure for... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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The word of the day is JUST. I’ve been thinking about it a lot for the past two weeks because we hear it so much in the media these days. And here’s the thing about this small but powerful word: It can elevate humanity or diminish it. First the elevated.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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Last week, this passage from Isaiah was a “verse of the day” on Biblegateway.com: But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 I’ve read... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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Dave and I were talking one time after I had been home to visit my parents, and I said, with some degree of surprise and self-revelation, “You know, I think I might actually be a lot like Daddy.” At which point Dave laughed really loud and said, “You think so?”... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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Yesterday, I deep-cleaned. Not my house—I haven’t gone completely off the deep end—but the Story Shack. I must’ve vacuumed up enough Cheeto hair to weave an area rug. Stickie notes and scraps of paper bearing outdated reminders were all over my desk. Now they’re gone. Dust everywhere. Gone. Heinous floor.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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I read somewhere that there’s a shortage of birdseed now. Apparently, stress and confinement have pushed many of us from Netflix and board games to the hard stuff: birding. Which means Mama is way ahead of the curve because she has been feeding and watching birds for decades. When I... Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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This weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about a conversation I had with defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery. He spearheaded the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and he wrote a book called Just Mercy that was made into a... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
The late Alabama native Eugene Sledge wrote what's considered one of the most powerful memoirs of war, With the Old Guard: At Peliliu and Okinawa, the basis for The Pacific series. Parts of the book are very hard to read. They make you want to look away from the horrors... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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Look who came back. Years ago, I planted this pretty orange vine to climb up the frame for a swing Daddy hung for me before I had the Story Shack. If memory serves, the vine was a gift from a gardening friend, and the swing was built by a man... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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Southern Living put together a gallery of “Mama quotes” to share on Mother’s Day, asking members of the staff to share wisdom from our mothers. (If you’re reading this on Facebook, you can see that gallery below this post.) I chose “sometimes you’ve just gotta back your ears”—Mama Nannette’s way... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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This morning I read a Facebook post from a friend who has been pushed to her limit with sickness and sadness, and it reminded me of an especially hard time in my own life. I guess I’m hoping it might help someone out there if I share this, so here... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
Thanks so much, Debbie.
Toggle Commented Apr 26, 2020 on Sunday Morning Serenity at Goin' Down to Mama's
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I feel like we’re all living through a very big moment—not just in our own lives but in the lives of our communities, our country, our world, our planet. It’s a lot to take in. And lately I've worried as much about what the virus is making us do to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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I’m thinking about my sister-friend Jane this morning. I think about her a lot, actually, and miss her as much today as I did when she went to heaven. I doubt the angels were ready for Jane, but by now, she’s probably taught them all that song about the circuit-riding... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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This Easter morning, I’m thinking about Passover—in part because I have a Jewish friend who has mightily missed observing it with her family, just as I am missing the Easter celebration at our church. She explained that, unlike Easter, where the emphasis is on celebrating and commemorating through a worship... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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This morning, I woke up trying to remember what day it was. While I wish I could attribute my memory lapse to self-isolation, the truth is . . . why did I come into this room again?? It took me a few minutes to realize that it’s not just Sunday... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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It’s not quite 4 a.m., and I’ve been in the Story Shack for a while. But then, I fell asleep before 8 last night, so I guess it evens out. For somebody like me, who lives by a tight schedule because that’s the only way I can squeeze everything in,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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Dear Reader: Prepare for incoherence. These are incoherent times, though, so I’m giving myself a pass. I find I have a case of Brain Ramble, how about you? This morning, as I looked out at my overgrown yard and saw pink azalea blooms and white flowers on my dogwood tree,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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Mama and I were talking a couple of days ago, as both of us were stocking our freezers and kitchens, getting ready for whatever happens next. And I said, “I think my generation and the ones that came after need your generation to show us how to do this.” She... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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Sometimes I take life way too seriously. I get myself all in a dither and I promise you, on any given day, I can find something to worry about. But every now and then, we just need to laugh. We need the joy of being flat-out silly. (I'm picturing Ouiser... Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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Sometimes you have to take a thing apart to understand it. You have to look at the pieces out of their typical order if you want to see them clearly. I experience that just about every day at work. When I read a piece of copy out loud, I’ll hear... Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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Whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed, I have been known to say, "I just need to go sit on a rock in the desert," or "I need to go stare at the ocean." I've never seen a desert, but I imagine them to be free of human-generated noise. I know the ocean... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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About a week ago I had a phone meeting with my gift-from-above agent, Leslie Stoker, to talk about my fourth book. (Yes, book three isn’t out yet, but book four is due in the fall, so we must charge ahead.) Basically, what I said to Leslie was, “I know what... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's