Adding “Seasoning” to the Present

images  Dear Reader:

The year I decided to retire from teaching I remember the thought crossing my mind…that if I returned to the classroom another year I might run into the dreaded  “incident”  all teachers feared…The innocent comment from a student (on the first day of school) that you taught (not their mother) but grandmother!  Horrors!!… and the irony would be that I, myself, wasn’t even a grandmother at the time…I still had all my children’s weddings to attend!

Believe me…with the abundance of teenage pregnancies…the generational cycles can move pretty quickly! I remember when I had Tommy, my youngest, one of my former eighth grade students was down the maternity hall from me at Roper Hospital. We bumped into each other while walking the halls one day. She was seventeen at the time and …well, I was older.

I also didn’t want any of my students thinking what the famous storyteller, Donald Davis, thought the year he got Miss Daisy as his fourth grade teacher. (Sixties, gray bun at back of hair, reading glasses perched on her nose as she stared over the top, etc.) This would be the teacher that Donald remembered and loved long after the last bell rang…but on that first day of school…his initial impression was “Good grief! The school board didn’t give us a teacher…we got an antique!”

The definition of “antique” involves an heirloom or period piece that is valuable because of its age. (Donald soon discovered this was true of Miss Daisy…luckily for him he did get an “antique” in every positive definition of the word…a true heirloom master teacher.)

Until only a few years ago (when Lassie was owner of an antique shop in downtown Summerville) I had never even entered an antique shop. I think it was left over negative memories from my childhood that turned me off to antique shopping.

Growing up I remember riding with mother and Aunt Eva to different places around the Piedmont area of the state… going to visit this or that great aunt who was selling some of her “heirlooms” and Aunt Eva was anxious to get in on the sell.

I didn’t realize back then that apparently my fashion taste was already developing and big, black, heavy furniture with (claws) just didn’t do it for me. In fact when I would walk into silent creepy parlors filled with ancient dark furniture owned by even (from a child’s perspective) more ancient looking little women with sparsely covered white hair…I would start feeling like I was suffocating under the dust and the ‘tell tell’ smell of old….everything old.

Today, of course, I love going to fun, whimsical antique stores looking for nostalgic items from the past that remind me of different incidents from my childhood and adolescent recollections.

My latest purchase cost a “big” $3.97 cents. This little pull-along hobby horse brought back memories of a bedside lamp that my younger brother David got when he was little. The body of the lamp looked very similar to this handmade carved horse. It was kept on a bedside table and I remember you had to pull his tail to turn the light on and off. David still had that horse lamp when he graduated high school.

Now I can remember my brother and the ‘almost’ forgotten horse lamp with the pull-along pony in Rutledge’s guest bedroom.

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 To me…this is the beauty of “antique” shopping. Sarah Ban Breathnach (Simple Abundance) agrees.

The openness to receive riches from the past often results in delightful lessons about… listening to your heart, honoring your creative impulses, stepping out in faith, and above all, realizing there is “no lack.” How can there be lack in our lives when even the commonplace, through passage of time, becomes precious?

Isabelle Eberhardt wrote back in 1900 that remembering the good and beautiful from the past… amounts to a rich “seasoning” of the present. (I do believe Isabelle was a true history teacher under her antique expert facade.)

So until tomorrow…we all know that time heals but time also “seasons” the rich memories and memoirs from the past…interweaving them into precious gifts from the heart…priceless!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* Last night Ben and I met Lee and Vikki to celebrate both Ben’s and Vikki’s birthdays…July 26 was a good day for the family in more ways than one. We tried out a restaurant on King called Leons and the grilled chicken and hushpuppies were exceptional…along with the scalloped potatoes.

img_1740 The wonderful birthday “Duo”!

Ben looks quite dashing in his “golf” cap that I brought him back from Ireland…he says he is also going to wear it when the band plays! A good “loving” picture of Lee and Vikki…and then the whole gang!

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But enough about food…after dinner Vikki took us to see their new home on the corner of Rutledge and Maple Street. It is a beautiful old Victorian looking home…three stories…with fire places in almost every room. For right now they are renting it (a financial investment) with hopes of moving in themselves (with a family intact) within the next few years.

I do hope so…because this house would love to hear the laughter of children…it was meant for that purpose I believe. Come with me as we tour the home…(Lee and Vikki have been painting and fixing up for over a month since the closing…and renters are getting ready to move in quite soon…so glad Ben and I got inside while we still could.)

img_1745  This shed Lee and Vikki hope to convert to a small bedroom apartment for out of town guests and family to stay…

img_1746  A maple tree meant for climbing

img_1748  This house is so inviting and I told Vikki…warning… I will  just invite myself right over when they do move in. Loving it!

img_1750 The hardwood floors are gorgeous and all the fireplaces are incredible…

img_1752  Beautiful lamp fixtures….

img_1754img_1755  Good night lovely home…a wise investment Lee and Vikki but even more importantly a beautiful dream come true…with just a little time.

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Freeing Ourselves from Prisons of Feared Criticism

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Dear Reader:

I got caught on the Don Holt bridge (coming home yesterday afternoon from Mt. Pleasant) in that torrential downpour that expanded throughout most of the low country. It was the darkest, largest (thunder and lightning) cloud I have ever been under…I thought that I was in some scary scene from the new television series…The Dome.

Big trucks kept slamming on brakes and screeching behind me as I desperately tried to get off I-526 and onto I-26 heading home. I am sure the truck transporters were probably shaking their fists at many drivers, like me, who were “poking” along….but for once… I didn’t care.

It is my life and I have fought too hard to keep it, only to get killed in a car crash (driving too fast for conditions) just to accommodate some “idiot” behind me who is in a hurry. My life means more to me than an irate truck driver’s criticism of my driving.

The decision yesterday to ignore the verbal criticism of a truck driver behind me (and drive slowly and safely) speaks volumes in my own evolution of maturity.

I spent too much of my life being a thin-skinned “people pleaser.” If someone stared at me too long or whispered when I walked by…I always assumed it was a negative connotation. Sometimes I would not even be able to sleep that night for worrying over my perception of a person not liking me. Why? I thought…what did I ever do to him or her?

Then I would waste more valuable sleeping time going back in “history” with that person to try to remember something I might have done in the past that he/she might still be holding a grudge over…

599432_392156110833416_1041624072_n   On Facebook yesterday the wonderful Barbara (Barfield) May posted this interesting list she found on line:

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All the items held great advice but it was the second item in the list that caught my attention:

2. What others think of you is none of your business.

At first I was slightly puzzled by the statement but after a second re-read…the light came on. The author is right on target. It really isn’t any of our business what others say, think, or criticize about us  as we travel through life.

Why, why, why didn’t someone earlier in my life tell me this wonderful “secret”? I sure would have gotten a lot more sleep…because what others think of us (positive or negative) is nice or frustrating but if it doesn’t equate to who we really are…( mis-perceptions of our authentic self)…then we have to let it go. It falls under the category  ‘Out of our Control.‘ This is the category that consumes too much of our short time here on earth if we let it.

I am so excited about the new Ken Burns series coming this fall on PBS- called The Roosevelts ( The lives of Theodore, Eleanor, and Franklin.) What an amazing legacy they left and yet, like all people who live in the public eye, what terrible (personal) criticism they each had to endure to make the world a better place.

images (2) I love both these Eleanor Roosevelt quotes on criticism….she nails it!

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I think we have to re-program our own minds to realize that most criticism is really a kind of an upside down compliment. Nay-sayers might not agree on how we are doing something or conducting our life…but they  have to admit…at least we are out there trying.

download (4) Theodore took the same thought and added his unique “bully” statement (on the subject) that has withstood the test of time.

“The Man in the Arena”

 It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

download (2) Franklin summed up his position on this and most other “arenas” of life in his “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” inaugural address. Once we take the “fear” out of being targeted for criticism, we can then find the time to concentrate on our goals and unique gifts to the world. ( We realize that the best way to deter malicious detractors is to “charge” ahead and leave the skeptics at the bottom of the hill.)

So until tomorrow…let us take back the power of other people’s  targeted criticism of ourselves and instead channel it to make us a stronger advocate for positive change in this world.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Yesterday was “Tea with Jasmine” ….I got to drop her royal highness (Eva Cate) off  at Princess of Tides (Belle Hall) while mom had some more standard pregnancy tests done …everything looks good with the arrival of baby brother Jake set for October 1.

img_1723img_1725  Meeting new friends…Hazel and Nora

At the end of the official “tea” each princess (who passed the good manners and etiquette “tests”) was given an honorary certificate.

Each ‘princess’ was to courtesy first to Jasmine, receive her certificate, and then move to the back of the line. Eva Cate managed the first two parts but never exited, remaining tucked in tight between Aladdin and Jasmine until the end of the ceremony.

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Even Tigger got a new scarf “accessory” and also modeled for us.

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download (3)  Today is my brother Ben’s birthday and my niece Vikki (Lee’s wife) birthday also….a dual celebration! And don’t we have so much to celebrate this year?…A victory for Ben over the backlog of paperwork/years of frustration fighting the Veterans bureaucracy…and a closing on a house/property for Lee and Vikki. Great achievements this year!

10565159_286278991543658_1768071920245260325_n   This is Tommy’s new Facebook cover (thanks Kaitlyn!) It looks great!

For you Facebook followers…you can type in the title above and it will take you to Tommy’s website where you can get more information about the different services he can offer. “When troubles start to mingle, call Dingle!”

MyGodWinks_LogoYesterday was a time when God made His Presence known to a very close friend…She (later) told me… as she was going through an unexpected scary medical test…two words kept popping into her consciousness “God’s Wink” and “Dolphin”…. “God’s Wink” came through again.

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A Full Service God

stock-vector-grunge-retro-gas-station-sign-vector-illustration-164374727  Dear Reader:

Wednesday evening, after Marcia, Mollie, and Rutledge left, I started writing Thursday’s blog on “Self-Nurturing.” Later…I decided to make a couple of last minute changes and added the final analogy of “filling up” at God’s gas station for the next day as darkness descended in the garden.

That night… while in that “twilight” period between consciousness and sleep…my mind fixated on memories of gas stations when I was growing up. These were the full service gas stations that provided a complete check up of the car from gas to oil to “hoses” and tires.

(And a bonus windshield cleaning! As a child this was always my favorite part…watching the attendant spray on the cleaning fluid and then wipe the dust and dirt away leaving the windshield clear and sparkling!…always while whistling a happy tune)

The gas attendant, as a rule, was normally out-going and gregarious…like a scene right out of Andy Griffith of Mayberry. In small towns one could leave a gas station without the latest updates on the comings and goings of most of the people in the town.

There was also a sense of security when you left the station, knowing that, not only, was your car full but all the other major components of it had been checked and either corrected or found satisfactory…either way you knew you were good to go when you pulled out.

This, of course, isn’t the case today. With complete service stations a dying breed from the past…one has no choice but to “self-service” at gas stations. And when we leave the only reassurance we have is one of having a full tank of gas. For oil and tire pressure we have to rely on computerized icons located on the dashboard to let us know when to change the oil or put air in a tire. As far as “popped” hoses and belts… we are just out of luck if that happens.

15352449-vintage-gas-station-signSome of the full service gas stations became great at marketing their gas stations as the “Last Chance Gas Station” between rural towns or desolate areas like a desert or whatever. The ploy worked. People would pull in even if they didn’t need a “fill ‘er up” amount of gasoline….fearful they might still run out between “civilized” towns.

I get nostalgic remembering the full service gas stations of past memories…I think we lost a lot more than just another gas station when we let economy win over friendliness and caring. Joseph Copeland adds his thoughts to this observation:

Today, full service stations are a rarity. What we see plenty of is “self service” stations.  The self service concept, simply stated, is that economy is more important than cordiality. Otherwise, you can cut the smile, the greetings and the window washings and reduce the price of the gasoline. To save money, patrons are increasingly saying, “I can do it myself.” 

We tell the petroleum industry that we will “do it ourselves” but, we usually don’t. Hurriedly we get our gasoline and too often we leave quickly without checking the oil, water, tires, hoses and belts. About the only thing that we actually do for ourselves, in most instances, is pump the gas.  The idea behind the self service approach is that we can cut out the middle man, save money and still get the same results. We succeed at cutting out the middle man and saving money, but we rarely get the same results.

Isn’t this true too often today of religion? We figure we can cut out the middle man (Jesus) and stay away from organized religions that we deem as too restrictive and obsolete. Instead we reassure ourselves that we can remember to take time to “self service” ourselves spiritually as necessary.

We pretend to get by with an occasional quick ‘self service’ fill… (perhaps a short prayer or two)…just enough to keep going but forgetting to check the “vital” other areas of our bodily “vehicle” to see if we are running low on oil or tires to carry us along our journey’s winding path. We disregard the “Last Chance” signs and assure ourselves that we have enough gas to make it until we can “self service” again. We are in control of our lives.

Then suddenly our world comes crashing down on us in the form of the death of a loved one, the loss of  job and career, a marriage that starts unraveling…and it finally dawns on us that we need the full package…we can’t do it alone.

So until tomorrow…Let us remember that out there waiting patiently for us to reach this realization of our human “self-service” frailty lies our “Full Service God“…who is ready to replace batteries, air, oil,belts, and hoses with a smile and a whistle….leaving our personal “windshields” cleaner than ever and sometimes even throwing in a lollipop for good measure.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* An “aha” moment just hit me…do you realize that the only time we still use the expression “Fill ‘er up please” is when we want more food and drink at home or in a restaurant…especially when cocktails are available? As a society we have gone from filling up our cars to filling up our stomachs…and we wonder why 1/3rd of Americans are extremely obese.

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Lucy has made a new friend on the deck….while starting a daily morning ritual (after eating breakfast.) She walks over to “Mr. Rabbit” ….circles him (and the plant he is on) a couple of times and finally plops down underneath the beautiful orange blossoms and takes her morning nap. Too cute.

 

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Nurturing Ourselves…

download (2)  Dear Reader:

What is it about self-nurturing that makes us so uncomfortable? I have certainly felt that way in different periods of my life. For example…if  in my 30′s or 40′s  I had heard some speaker talking about self-nurturing.. a cartoon balloon would have popped up over my head….in which I would have been thinking….“Yeah right…self-nurturing …a single mom with three kids…Are you crazy?…I am doing good if I get a five minute uninterrupted shower in a twenty four hour period.”

It wasn’t until my “children” had flown the nest and I actually did have five minutes… and more to stop and think about my needs and desires that I would have been more open to the term “self-nurturing.”

I think part of the reason we are uncomfortable using this word in daily conversation is the “self” part in front of the word. It reminds us too much of the word “selfish.” We baby boomers were taught axioms like “Quit crying over spilt milk,” (more recently) “man up” You should have known not to put all your “eggs in one basket” or remember to always “put the needs of others before your own needs.”  

(I can’t help but think this type of thinking…self sacrifice…especially poured into southern women’s upbringing is a contributing factor to domestic violence through total submission.)

I don’t think God meant for any of us to continuously “self-sacrifice” at the risk of never discovering our own worth in life. It is too high a price to pay in our short lives.

Julia Cameron reminds us that there is a connection between “self-nurturing and self-respect. If we don’t respect ourselves…how can be expect others to respect us?)

Most importantly if we take the time to nurture ourselves and then take time to be with and listen to God each day…our own unique, creativity starts to flow from within. We start evolving into the authentic person who has been hiding deep down inside us.

images (3) “True life is lived when tiny changes occur.” (Leo Tolstoy)

When I look back at all the changes in my life…there was always a tiny voice whispering in my ear to “do it” to”take a risk” to “make a change.” Sometimes I complied to the “Voice” and sometimes I didn’t…but I always knew when I should have acted upon a change instead of hanging on to a life grown stagnant.

I find it quite interesting that when having conversations with the Ya’s and other close friends about the importance of quietude in this stages of our lives…everyone, unanimously, agrees they can’t get through a day any more without automatically seeking “alone” time.

For me…it isn’t any formal kind of meditation but I simply need to sit on my garden bench, listen to my fountain, wait for the solar lanterns to turn on and then share a conversation with God.

It is usually about the day and how I spent it and sometimes I ask God what He thinks about this or that incident that transpired during the day…it is like talking to the wisest elder in the family and seeking his advice along your journey.

Next time we hesitate to do something nice for ourselves…stop and ask yourself…”If other people see that I don’t care enough about me to even bother to take care of my overall appearance or do things for myself that make me happy so the house rings with laughter from the cellar to the rafters…then the next generation will model our behavior and be caught in the “dungeon” of self-sacrifice to the detriment of themselves and the ambiguous legacy we left behind.”

If we don’t take care of ourselves, if we can’t be kind to ourselves, if we can’t find a few minutes in the day to spend with God…we are letting ourselves and our Creator down because we can’t reach our full potential if we live in others’ shadows constantly.

So until tomorrow…Father help us give ourselves permission to become the creative, unique individuals You created by giving ourselves the gift of time to be with You.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* We can still learn wonderful life lessons when we aren’t in a position to have “alone” time…like with small children. For example…My wonderful “Mr. Rutledge,” Mollie, and her mom, Marcia, came for dinner last night.

We had a terrific time, however, I did get tickled that there we were, three adults with an one year old… and it took everyone of us to keep Rutledge from catapulting down the stairs, off the beds or sofas or chairs…he was a blur of constant motion.

We had so many near misses….grabbing his diapers or t-shirt or toes before he hit the floor… because he has no fear. No matter how he flings himself off of objects someone always manages to grab some part of him at the last possible second before disaster hits.

I can’t help but think his complete trust in us that he won’t get hurt, no matter how quickly he dives and swoops off furniture and toys, is rather awesome to behold.

One day, of course, someone will miss and Rutledge’s innocent trust in the laws of gravity will be dashed and a part of  his carefree childhood will disappear into the dark woods of reality.

But for now…Rutledge is still on full speed ahead, holding our hands as he walks toward one or the other of us. Too soon he will let go and begin his own long odyssey….but Lord I am taking time right now to thank you for giving all of us just a little more time to enjoy his unconditional trust and love in us.  It feels so good!

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As the darkness descended…the solar lights began casting shadows over the twilight garden…a moment for all of us to stop and “self-nurture” (filling up at the “gas station” for a moment…thanking God for our individual blessings.)

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Letting Go of the World to Make a New Life For Ourselves

download (1)  Dear Reader:

William Wordsworth once complained, over two hundred years ago, that “The world is too much with us.”  Nothing much has changed in that regard, has it? (Except perhaps… with technological communication bombarding every corner of the world now… only increasing in its overly abundant influx on us… as our world grows smaller.)

We find ourselves torn between being an informed world citizen and wanting to run jump into bed and throw the cover over our heads. At some point we realize that we must make an important decision. If we are to live meaningful lives and find happiness along the way…we can’t stay seated in front of the television every evening watching the news and  moaning and groaning over the world’s problems.

We must turn away from the world and take the somewhat terrifying step of re-introducing ourselves to the person God wants us to be…to turn off the noise of the world and turn silently inward to reclaim our destiny.

It is only by reclaiming our inner life that we can then turn towards the outer world with the knowledge of what we can contribute to make it a better place for all of us.

Writer Beryl Markham once stated: “You can live a lifetime, and at the end of it, know more about other people than you know about yourself.”   ( A sad but true commentary)

I have talked several times about the innocent remark made to me (numerous times as a child and adolescent:) “Oh Becky you will do well in the try-outs, or interview, or speech….just be yourself.”  I would toss and turn all night before the big event because the problem was…I didn’t know who I was so how could I “be myself.”

I don’t think I was alone in my fearful response to this frequently given advice by adults. The problem is ….no adult (parent, relative, teacher, coach, administrator, counselor, or even pastor) ever told me to stop doing my homework, or watching television, or playing outside to come inside, go to my room, and let the silence of the moment release the ‘Divine spark’ within me. To take the first step in my long quest to discover myself and my place in the world by introducing myself to God and holding out my hand.

No matter what our age…we all have experienced a time when we felt out of sync with the world. We felt that we didn’t fit in to a school crowd, or community, or other organizations that others seemed to adapt to more easily. We sensed we were out of step with the rest of the world.

The time it takes us to remake our world will probably take longer than the six days it took God to create it. It will, quite truthfully, take a lifetime.

In order to live a deep and fulfilling co-existence with the world, we must restore order to our day…to create and maintain our own personal rhythm to it.

Remember, as children, how we had set times to get up, eat meals, go to school, do certain activities and chores, and finally a time to go to bed. ( As much as we complained back then…there was a certain security in the knowledge of these parental expectations.)

As adults when we don’t set routine schedules for ourselves we begin to lose our personal rhythm and fall out of step with the world. Think about it…God created a certain rhythm to His world from the beginning of creation…He scheduled duplication in motion when he created sunrise and sunset, the ebb and flow of tides, repeated cycle of four seasons, monthly phases of the moon, and yearly circles of time.

At some point in our lives the cares and concerns of the world will affect us personally…they won’t be able to be left behind. But if we have set our rhythm and picked up our lanterns, lit brightly for the dark paths ahead, there will be Light to illuminate our journey of self-discovery. (Sarah Breathnach)

So until tomorrow…Help us Father turn inward towards You before letting the world control us.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* Honey left me a precious little lantern to help keep me on my well-lit path before she headed back to the mountains…

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Gin-g stopped by to see me bringing beautiful fresh flowers and 2014 pennies that Fred collected and saved for me. She also brought me class records from my grandmother’s tenure at the Women’s College at Erskine in Due West….grandmother graduated in 1903.

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Mrs. Brawley (her husband was the music professor when I attended) is the archivist now for the college and helped Gin-g research my grandmother’s records. She remembered humorously the popular saying about Due West and the ARP’s strict guidelines of reverence for the Sabbath… once upon a time:

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“Even a rooster won’t crow on the Sabbath in Due West”!

 

 

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Conquering the Computer Gremlin…

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Dear Reader:

Sorry for the delay…A computer gremlin attacked yesterday morning and the Time-Warner “miracle worker” (technician) just drove him off a few minutes ago.

I have had problems (since returning from Ireland) accessing a network for the internet in intervals….then yesterday ….no matter how many times I turned the computer off… (my one and only trick) I couldn’t get on the internet….it kept telling me I had no networks available.

Went to Time-Warner yesterday afternoon and the earliest they could send someone was today…. they sent a technician with the name Iran…like the country. This Iran was funny, personable and knowledegable.  I ended up with a new modem, and new remote….plus my monthly bill is coming down… due to being a loyal longtime customer.

So in the end…not only is the computer gremlin gone…but I came out way ahead in the on-going struggle with technology. Life is good.

* Iran told me a big part of my internet problem had been that my modem was a 2008 model…too old to handle the needs of my computer today. 2008…(hummm)…the year I was diagnosed with “little c”….I felt a sense of elation…I have “out lived” a modem…I am gaining on technology! Who would have ever “thunk” it?

I will be back in action at 6:00 in the morning….hope you will return…our story will deal with knowing when to “fold”….when to turn off the world and concentrate on our own rhythm….continuing  our personal journey and not getting lost in the mayhem of world affairs.

Till then…go have a “favorite day”

Becky

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When the Authentic Self Smiles Back…

RobertCornelius  Dear Reader:

You might be asking yourself who this young fella is? This picture is the first known selfie, taken by Robert Cornelius in 1839.

Cornelius produced a daguerreotype of himself in 1839 which is also one of the first photographs of a person. Because the process was slow he was able to uncover the lens, run into shot for a minute or more, and then replace the lens cap. He recorded on the back “The first light picture ever taken. 1839.

Initially popular with young people, selfies gained wider popularity over time. By the end of 2012, Time magazine considered selfie one of the “top 10 buzzwords” of that year.

According to a 2013 survey, two-thirds of Australian women age 18–35 take selfies—the most common purpose for which is posting on Facebook. A poll commissioned by smartphone and camera maker Samsung found that selfies make up 30% of the photos taken by people aged 18–24.

By 2013, the word “selfie” had become commonplace enough to be monitored for inclusion in the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary. In November 2013, the word “selfie” was announced as being the “word of the year” by the Oxford English Dictionary, which gave the word itself an Australian origin.

………………………

For better or worse, like it or not, we are now living in the era of “selfies.” Personally I don’t care much for these quick photos taken from cameras and Iphones because my arm isn’t long enough to get a high angle and I always come out looking like some cartoon character with a big nose and one eye in the wrong place.

 Plus…a quick snapshot like this doesn’t show the real person behind the fast smile because most of the “shots” are distorted by distance or in this case…lack of…

There was a survey in Ladies Home Journal a few years back that posed the question: When do you feel most beautiful? The responses were insightful because none of them had anything to do with physical youth and beauty, or weight and beauty (which we are all brainwashed into by society today) or attire and beauty.

Instead women, all over the country, chose special times in their lives over the level of physical beauty staring back. Some chose their wedding day with one woman saying that she held up the ceremony for twenty minutes trying to get her hair just right (back in the day of “teasing” the “big hair.”) Finally she just plopped her veiled hat on her head, put a big smile on her face and marched out…

Now she said… when old friends and family stare at the photos of that special day…they never comment on her hair but the radiance glowing from her face.

Another woman chose the day she gave birth to her first child. She said the photo shows a “beached beluga” sitting up in a hospital bed and beaming from ear to ear holding her treasured daughter. Everyone who sees it starts laughing in the joy of that moment frozen in time.

Several women made an astute observation that reflects, once again, the glow in inner beauty which can transform outer beauty.

One woman had just finished her first seminar for her job and it had gone over wonderfully well…ending with a standing ovation. By the time she got back to her hotel, she accidentally caught her reflection, that of a beautiful woman, and initially didn’t even recognize herself.

She was genuinely astonished and even asked the mirror…”Who are you?” Intuitively she heard the answer….”I am your authentic self smiling back on you.” (She was still caught up in the exhilarating flow of life and it showed.)

Three different scenarios but one common denominator…LOVE. Love has the power to transcend our physical limitations.

Alice Walker once observed:  “The more I wonder, the more I love.”  

When we continue to search for the “wonder” of it all…we can’t help but notice the love bubbling up from deep within. When we reach the point where wonder and love replaces foundation and blush..the most radiant woman in the world emerges.

Personally I have noticed lately…at the age I am now (happily) that I find my authentic self smiling back when it is set against a natural miracle of God’s world. The following photos are set against the ocean and just recently the Angel Oak. Both backdrops filled me with “wonder and love.”

(Massive spaces and formations like stars, oceans, mountains, and canyons used to make me feel small and insignificant in the big scheme of things. No longer. Now I feel especially blessed to be just little old Becky…unique like everyone else..and equally loved by God.)

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So until tomorrow…Let us never stop “wondering and loving” so our faces reflect our love of life in the deepest sense possible…as a special blessing from God.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* Anybody can take a “selfie” as seen in the following picture….and darn if it isn’t better than most humans! This macaca was just curiously wondering what this apparatus (camera) was all about when he picked it up and took his picture! (Imitating his human mentors)

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*Last night Eva Cate mimicked me by putting on my reading glasses and parading around…

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*Right behind John and Mandy’s home a family of geese live…they are always crossing the street to get to….the other pond. Their antics are so human like…they always bring a smile to my face. I really believe that there should be a “goose” crossing sign for them…like this one.

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*  And now for my “mirror” selfie…Something put a HUGH SMILE on my face yesterday…the total number of views went over 250,000! Thank you…thank you…dear readers!

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(You will notice that everything is backwards (besides part of my head cut off)…rather ironic since that is how I feel my life has been lived on many an occasion…but backwards or forwards, head on or off…I am loving my life…my “golden years”!)

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“If It Is To Be…It Is Up to Me”!

abraham_goldenyears  Dear Reader:

Yesterday I was reminded of a wonderful lesson by my Ya friend, Libby. We were talking on the phone and she informed me of an earlier conversation she had with her sister-in-law about the “Golden Years.”

They were both lamenting that what they were experiencing now (loss of spouse, health problems among family members, etc.) was not what they had imagined the “Golden Years” would be like while striving to get there.

After Libby hung up and a had a few moments to process the conversation…she got mad…at herself. She called back up and said…“Forget what I complained about earlier…the ‘Golden Years’ might be different than what I dreamed…but doggone it…they are MY “Golden Years” and I refuse to waste them worrying about things I can’t control. Nope! I am going to dance my way through life from this point on.

And that is exactly what she did! My brother (Ben) plays in a reunion band out of Winnsboro (beach music) and they were putting on a street dance. Libby called her family and said that she was going…alone if necessary…but going. Instead her son-in-law Collin (best shagger in SC) daughter, Betsy, and two granddaughters…Hailey and Becca all climbed in her car and off they went. It was a night for the family memory album!

10271592_10152614629689878_1416713052275966192_n  (Ben is the second performer from the right…back row) He plays guitar.

10553380_10152614631029878_3153913022053800959_n Ben and Libby

10525863_10152614630539878_6529493140151312912_n Her lifetime dream came true…a picture with Jackie Gore from the original Embers.

Can’t we all learn a lesson from Libby?  A refusal to give in to life’s disappointments but instead…seize the moment and dance until we can’t dance any more.

It was Libby’s mother (Miss Nell…Mama Grits) who always emphasized the little “ditty” (10 -2 letter- words)… in the blog title…telling her:

“If it is to be…It is up to me!” 

It is our responsibility to turn things around when life gives us lemons…not to make lemonade…but to dance!

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How true! So until tomorrow…let us all seize the moment and then savor it until all the chewing gum flavor is gone!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* I am running late…off to keep Eva Cate so mom and dad can have a much deserved evening out!

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A Day of “Angels” and “Cups of Tea”

shopping  Dear Reader:

Honey is home from the mountains for a few days and we planned a girls out lunch yesterday…we were both craving a “California Dreaming” salad with that wonderful dressing and a cup of soup…for me the mashed potato soup and for Honey the she-crab soup. Soup is comfort food at its best…between friends.

But first we had one “small” detour in the shape of Eva Cate who  wanted Boo Boo to come see her swim at Aunt Doodle’s. It turned out to be a girls’ pool party with Doodle, Mandy, and Eva Cate (Carrie was on her way)…while Honey and I pulled up chairs in the shade and just enjoyed watching the fun…before leaving for Charleston and “California Dreaming.”

img_1638img_1642  Eva Cate was showing me her breathing techniques…obviously.

img_1643  Doodle and Mom were hanging in there quite well when I departed….

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Honey and I were off and the soup and salad lived up to our expectations and more….just as good as we remembered. (the “Carolina Girl” yacht is right behind us…and we are proud to be be one of those gals!

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Then our second “detour” began. I had mentioned to Honey the day before that I have never seen the “Angel Oak”…and Honey said we were over halfway there from the restaurant…”Let’s do it.”

Massive…the only word for “The Angel Oak”…simply massive…the eye can’t take it all in at first glance. I have always heard stories about “talking trees” of “if trees could talk…what stories they would tell”…but I actually felt a tinge of sadness as I stared at this impressive gift of nature. To be able to observe 1500 years of history without being able to share your story must be tough for this lowcountry favorite.

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The oak derives its name from the estate of Justis and Martha Angel, and local folklore tells stories of ghosts of former slaves appearing as angels around the tree.

* Author Denise Roffe in her Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, South Carolina, interviewed an elderly African-American woman who was descended from the slaves who once toiled on the island’s plantations before the Civil War. She recounted the legends of the tree including that the tree was once home to huge birds (probably vultures) who would feast on the bodies of slaves hung in the tree.

The old woman continued saying that many people were buried under the tree including Native Americans who met under its shady branches before the area was settled by the white man. She stated that these spirits are still experienced around the oak and that they also work to protect the tree. Certainly if there are bodies under the soft ground around the tree, it’s not hard to imagine that the tree has fed off of the remains, adding to the tree’s allure.

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  • After saying good-bye to the Angel Oak…we started home…or so we thought. Suddenly Honey stated that she thought she had taken a different road out than in…nothing looked familiar…(I thought I was back in Ireland) Suddenly we were doing a  “wheelie” and turning into….img_1669
  • “Have you been to the Tea Garden here on the island?” Honey asked….I shook my head and our wrong detour took us to another wonderful site.
  • We didn’t have time to take the trolley tour but we helped ourselves to some tea (mine was peach…delicious) found a rocking chair and felt the cool breezes blowing in on the piazza

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I then saw a sign and realized it might be my last chance to find my Prince Charming…I gave it my all…but a toad is a toad is a toad…even a cute one named Waddy.

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By the time I got home it was after four…lost in the land and time of detours…what better way to spend the day.

When I looked on line for a picture of an angel with a teacup…this Willow Tree angel popped up. I love Willow Tree angels…have several and think I need to add this one to the collection …so I will always have warm memories of this special day.

The inscription on this particular angel describes her this way…a perfect ending to the day.

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A cup of tea warms the body and soothes the soul. With her china teapot perched securely in her outstretched hands, the Angel of the Kitchen offers warmth, security, and the sweet promise of friendship. After all, a dish prepared with love is like balm to a weary soul. This sweet angel is the ideal gift for someone who loves cooking, someone who generously opens her home, or someone who simply shares her heart over a cup of tea. Warm comfort between friends.

………………….

Today, all of us at Dorchester Presbyterian Church, will say good-bye to a special friend and generously talented philanthropist-Margaret Jones… in every type of craft imaginable…Give Margaret a piece of material and only time stood between it and a finished quilt, cap, prayer shawl extraordinaire…you name it…Margaret could make it.

God must have needed another seamstress and has He ever got one…she was “perfection” with a needle while still here on earth…I can only imagine her talents in Heaven…the angels must all be singing joyfully at the latest addition. (Their wings will never look better…)

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So until tomorrow….Thank you Father…for adventures with a friend to go see “angels” “spirits” “family mermaids” and taste peach tea…a day of comfort and peace.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

10352839_10204601230776481_8623295271985681835_n * Welcome Susan to Boo’s B&B….Susan came to attend a funeral service yesterday of a former neighbor and will stay for Margaret’s funeral today. She is staying in the “Eva Cate” guest bedroom.

 

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Balancing Creativity and Clutter!

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Dear Reader:

All my life I have been involved (in a futile battle) by trying to maintain a clean home with everything in its place. The battle continues. I do admit that retirement brought me reinforcements (for my “troops”) in the form of time and numbers residing within the house…one…me.

(And believe me readers…if you keep grandchildren daily in your home or have extended family members living there…don’t even try to keep up the maintenance required for a “dream” home…just keep applying for the wonderful contest in which the “twins” (on HGTV) arrive with a sledge hammer in both hands.

For years  I would watch my “soaps” and dream of living in one of those fantasy homes where the main characters were always dressed immaculately (even down to manicure and pedicure) gazing idly at a magazine…flipping through the pages, nonchalantly… when behold…the doorbell rings.

Our “heroine” floats to the open door and whether the visitor was friend or foe…the ensuing conversation was staged within a beautiful setting where no dust was allowed to settle.

During the commercials I remember I would look around my den and literally pull the sofa pillow over my head. If anyone was to unexpectedly ring my doorbell…it would be massive panic time! Screaming at the kids to shut their bedroom doors…adding water and bubbles to cover the dirty dishes in the sink….stuffing clothing under the sofa pillows… blowing (with my mouth) old potato chips (off the sofa) onto a paper plate used as a dustpan.

But then it happened… one day time opened up new possibilities… I found myself alone in the house and did a survey of the house damage  to date. (massive)

It dawned on me that it was my moment…I could do this! I could use my creativity and still get rid of the cluttered mess which weighed me down like bar bells on an angel’s wings.

With many friends’ encouragement…and by learning to take it step by step…( so as not to become overwhelmed and give up)…the home I had always wanted started taking shape.

*It will be a lifetime project…due to budgetary restraints…but still I keep taking baby steps and every time something new is added…my excitement and joy know no bounds!

My priorities, now, are a clean “Happy Room” and bathroom on my side of the house… while giving myself permission to keep the computer room (my creating room) the kitchen and bedrooms “moderately” acceptable. *I know my limitations…I simply don’t have it in my genetic make-up to keep every single room in tip top condition all the time.

If I did…I wouldn’t write a daily blog, have lunch with friends, go to Ireland, keep the grandchildren or any other top priorities in my life. For me…that type of clean house represents too much sacrifice of time and think about it…what is the best that can come out of a “sterile” home? A eulogy where people stand up and say” She was the cleanest person I ever knew…you could eat off her floors.”  (Personally I would rather be eating out with friends!)

* I was also quite relieved to discover that the expression “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is not found in scripture. My research indicates it goes back to some Babylonian text and was later paraphrased by Francis Bacon. Much later… John Wesley  wrote: ” Slovenliness is no part of religion. Cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness.”

Jesus loves me this I know“… even if my house never wins any coveted honor for cleanest house on the block. After all (think about it) Jesus wanted Mary and Martha to join Him in the social conversation during His visit and (for Heaven’s Sake) quit cleaning and cooking! *Jesus would have won me over with just this one story.

A few years ago I even discovered the “secret” behind the soap opera fantasy homes I spent (way too much time) coveting while trying to survive real life in a real home. It is a cinematographer trick called “pulling focus.” The camera lens are adjusted very slowly for the sharpest clarity of one object that draws watchers attention distracting them from other problem areas.

Hallelujah! It was true…The faces of the main actors took up the whole screen leaving the living area a blur behind them…it was all an illusion! No real person could pull off this “dust-less” abode without an army of servants. I had been vindicated!

Sarah Breathnach reminds us in her essay (“The Personality of Your Home”) to look at our homes through different eyes:

Today, no matter where or how you live, look upon your home through the eyes of Love. Walk around the rooms and offer thanks for the walls and roof that safely enclose you and yours. Pause for a moment to consider all the women who have lost their homes through death, divorce, debt, or disaster. Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that, at this moment, all you have is all you truly need.”  

So until tomorrow…”Amen” to Sarah Breathnach’s observation. We have a roof over our head, food on the table, friends and family to love… who (miraculously) love us back. It doesn’t get any better than this.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* This past year it is the garden that distracts me from home  chores while vying for my whole attention…which I give generously.

So I will use my newly learned technique of “pulling focus” to bring the beauty of my outdoor “home” to you readers. Remember to focus on the flower or plant…not the weeds!

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I love my new garden flag!

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I realized when I went over to the B&B (next door) a few days ago that the morning glory vines were hanging down between the storm door and the blue “haint” door…so I used my old left-over stick pins from my classroom to drag the vines back up and over to the back brick porch wall. My porch will soon be a “safari” hunt while crossing back and forth…and I love the thought!

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