Finding That Constant Within Us…

Dear Reader:

Dr. Wayne Dyer, popular author and presenter, started his presentation, on occasion, with an orange. He asked the audience or (sometimes) a particular person in the audience to tell him what would happen if he squeezed the orange….what would he get?

The immediate response was: orange juice. He then asked if his mother, father, grandmother, friend, or stranger squeezed the orange what would they get?

Once again the response was: orange juice. Sometimes Dyer would keep this “game” going by asking if he would ever get tart or bitter lemonade or pineapple juice if he squeezed an orange…..Amid loud “No’s” the confident response continued: Orange Juice!

Dyer then asked his audience: Why?  How do you know that every single time you squeeze an orange ….its juice will pour out?

The most common reply was that one will get orange juice if he/she squeezes an orange because it is what is inside.

Exactly! responded Dyer. This is a constant in our knowledge and experience with oranges…when squeezed…no matter the situation….an orange will produce orange juice.

Now….how about you? If your mother, or teacher, or coach, or a friend squeezes you…what will pour out? Do you have a constant?

Suddenly a quiet would come over the crowd….no one was certain about one “correct” response. Cries of “It depends on who and why you are being squeezed….it might be anger or frustration pouring out.”

“That’s right….another voice might call out….What pours out of us can run the gamut, according to our feelings at the time squeezed. Curse words might emerge or laughter.”

Feeling squeezed or stressed…produce unsavory tastes on our tongues, our teeth and the words that emerge are unsavory too.

What would you like your “constant” to be when squeezed? asks Dyer.

“Sweetness” responds one in the audience….more softly “Love” responds a young woman in the back of the auditorium.

“So….we are realizing that we can always depend on an orange to produce the same “sweetness” over and over…no matter the situation when squeezed…but not ourselves. Is this a fair observation?” Dyer concludes.

Shouldn’t every human being on earth’s goal be to have “love” as a constant living within ourselves…the love that pours out every time we are “invisibly” squeezed :)…no matter the trying circumstances we might find ourselves in?

If we sit back and look for a model of constant love….we find the answer immediately ….God. God is Love. And no matter how many times we squeeze Him (when we feel squeezed into a corner and stressed beyond human limitations.)…His love pours out for us. We can depend on its “sweetness” every single time.

*(Isn’t it wonderful that (in spite of the coronavirus) we can still “squeeze” God with both arms arms wide open to encircle our Creator?)

We are children of God. Don’t you think God loves us as we love all our children of the world? Wouldn’t we do anything for our children…even sacrificing ourselves for them?

We know that God’s Love resides in us…in all His children.

So until tomorrow….Father, let us be a “constant” ….a “beacon” of love for all who come into “social distancing” 🙂 with us…Let Your love shine through us when we are “high-fived invisibly” every time.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Yesterday I had two visitors, Ann Graves who returned the set of Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache detective series she read during her own breast cancer procedures.

***If anyone in the Summerville area wants to borrow one, please let me know and it will be sitting on the bench by “Little Big Red” waiting on you!

Anne Peterson sent me Louise Penny’s April Newsletter and how she is handling all the new quarantine restrictions… when normally she would be out promoting her next book in the series…but how grateful she is to have a “stay” place (like Lassie said) and friends who buy her groceries…though (I agree) you don’t feel like you can tell them to put all your  favorite/secret junk foods on the list. 🙂

I like this prose she shared with her readers….

Adjusting or going nuts?

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.  ( Albert Camus)

Ann was amazed by “Little Big Red” too and took a picture to send me…(Thanks Kathy Worthington for the banana bread…Ann shared some of hers with me! 🙂

Soon after Gin-g stopped by with a Easter bag… inside I found my own personal bundt cupcake…so good and some more gardening gloves…how did you know I desperately needed some new ones? Cornbread and soup…life is good. As usual Merci Merci dear Gin-g!



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Unclinching Our Fists…to Find Our Word, Our Way

Dear Reader:

Don’t we associate newborns and little babies with their tiny fists coming into the world…as if they know intuitively life is a struggle…might as well get ready?

Doctors explain the phenomenon as a primitive gesture found in human infants and primates…known as the Palmar Grasp Reflex. A couple of days ago I found and then “lost” a poem that popped up on the internet that made an analogy between human fists and finally the opening of our hands revealing the word that identifies our being.

The poem was followed by readers revealing what their word would be to identify their lives when their fists finally unclenched. (Just as I have become aware of the number of times I unconsciously touch my face lately…think about the number of times we glance down and see our hands or at least one hand curled up in a fist.)

For most of us it a defensive gesture used to alleviate stress or repressed anger and frustration in our lives. What if…unclenching our fists to finally reveal the real person inside us is a final product of the process of living our life?

Since I taught American history for almost three decades I am a great lover of true but little unknown facts in history. One story popped up in some dusty neuron in my memory yesterday connecting an historical figure with a fist/hand story. Example:

After John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Lincoln he was on the run for almost two weeks before being caught and surrounded in Richard Garrett’s barn. When Union soldiers set the barn afire Booth’s accomplice, Davy Herold, surrenders but Booth refuses.

An Union soldier, Boston Corbett, looks through a gap between planks at the back of the barn…fires and hits Booth in the neck. He is dragged out of the barn, paralyzed, and dies a slow agonizing death three hours later on  Garrett’s front porch.

Witnesses remembered at one point Booth lifting his hand… as if seeing it for the first time in his life…unclenching his fist and mumbling “Useless…useless” as he stares vacantly at the outstretched hand.

I think at the end of our lives…we all want to leave with our fists unclenched, not saddened over an “useless” or purposeless existence. Instead we want to leave this world for another with our hearts and hands wide open.

So until tomorrow I want to share a thought-provoking twist on words that my sister-in-law Lassie conveyed to me in an earlier conversation we had (in relation to the coronavirus and our attitude towards it)…one centered around counting our blessings.

“We might not be able to go anywhere…but we have somewhere to stay.”  (A blessing indeed!)

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*Yesterday was a memorable day for Tommy and Kaitlyn as they became new owners in their law partnership. They received lots of well wishes, flowers, and a delicious chocolate bundt cake from Aunt Lassie. Congratulations again Tommy and Kaitlyn…I am very proud of you two and your work ethics!

*I wanted to add this thank you message Kaitlyn put on Facebook last evening thanking everyone for their support through these trying times …(since everyone doesn’t read Facebook.)

I wouldn’t suggest juggling a house fire, world pandemic, and becoming a law firm owner at the same time, but here we are! .
Life is crazy y’all: we can make all the plans in the world and the universe can simply throw you a huge curveball
Its hard to believe this is real! I’m really excited, exhausted, and scared all at the same time. Im also really grateful. .
I’m grateful for parents who literally gave me my entire foundation to succeed; Lassie for ensuring we don’t go bankrupt; to Mr. Styles for giving me a job when I wasn’t sure I even wanted to practice law anymore and being generous with his practice ; to my husband for being my partner through it all; and to myself for never giving up. .
Thank you to our family and friends for your continued and tireless support. We loved getting these beautiful flowers from Boo and a cake from Lassie. . .
I have no idea what comes next or what the future holds but I do know we’ve got this and we can most definitely do hard things.
Also thanks to @iibrunettes and @shopcopperpenny for making sure I had some clothes to wear 😂



A sign of the times 🙂


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How We Remember this Time depends on how We decide to Live it!

Dear Reader:

If there were one word that sums up how we lived our life…( by the end of it)…it would be “CHOICE.”  Love, hope, faith, laughter, and compassion all come into play certainly, but only if we make the choice to prioritize these positive attributes early in life… and continue to value and honor them every single day of it.

Daily we see choices around the world being made concerning the coronavirus…resulting in the outcomes of these decisions…good or bad. discusses these choices in their latest website news.

“Uncertain times raise significant questions that can architect the arc of our future. Carbon emissions have dropped dramatically, but xenophobia is rising. Government surveillance is increasing, while global cooperation is going up. Shopping malls are empty, but family meals are on the rise.

Awakening of compassion is pervasive, but the inequality of human suffering is evident. In a context of “social distancing”, neighbors lean out of their windows to sing songs together. Borders are still present, but the boundaries of our shared humanity are getting blurry. Still, undercurrents of fear are everywhere, but so are prayers. May we step into our highest aspirations to serve this inflection point in history.”

How we one day remember the 2020 pandemic (in the aftermath) will solely depend of how we approached each day within it.

Already I am developing different feelings towards mundane house chores I rarely bothered with…even after being retired and having time to do them. Now I am cooking meals almost every night just for me…preferring it to take-out or restaurant sent-in.

I haven’t cooked this much since all the children were still at home. I am enjoying the creative part of putting odds and ends I find in the freezer/refrigerator and cabinets together…to make casseroles with such a strange diversity of food items I would have laughed a month I am eating it happily!

I am cleaning out closets, cabinets, cleaning the kitchen with intensity…the virus has got me doing what I should have been doing all along.

One of my greatest memories will be friends stopping by with snacks, meals, books, cards to surprise me and make my day. *Yesterday as I was waiting on the Publix driver to drop off my weekly list…Susan Cadwell dropped by with the most delicious meal which included homemade mac and cheese…I haven’t eaten so good and healthy in months but now I am…every night!

Remember Mike bringing me my cheese puffs…he was told (by his adorable cheeto wife Dee) to return and bring me two bags this time (which he did yesterday)…too funny…if anyone out there is craving cheetos…stop by, we can share and throw them at each other six feet apart…catching them with our mouths. 🙂 Cheeto Contest!

My whirling butterflies gauna plant is up and swaying with little whirling “butterflies”…I love to watch them when the breeze blows!


Today is a special benchmark day! Yes it is April 1 and April Fool’s Day, it is also “Say Rabbit Rabbit” Day (for good luck) for the first day of the month…but today is also Tommy and Kaitlyn’s professional benchmark day as they are now invested in the ownership of the law firm in which they work. Styles & Dingle LLC !

After their recent home fire and a lot of craziness… including finding a new place to reside until they can move back in their house and get the Air-B&B side up and going again too things have settled down for this memorable day…this is a special moment they have worked hard for and imagined in their dreams; And now, thanks to Brooks Styles, it is coming true on this special date. April 1, 2020

Congratulations Tommy and Kaitlyn…take time to celebrate this accomplishment and a big thank you goes out to Brooks Styles (original owner) from a proud mother.

Brooks, you have been extraordinarily generous with your time and expertise… teaching and role modeling for both Tommy and Kaitlyn … I hope this continues for a long time. Thank you Brooks from the bottom of my heart for giving them this once-in-a lifetime amazing opportunity!


Don’t forget to say “Rabbit, Rabbit” this morning to have good luck all month…let’s hope this is the month the coronavirus decides to start unraveling and leaving our planet behind…with love and hope intact.


So until tomorrow…”Every choice you make in your life helps make you.”

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

One of the best choices I ever made was to take Honey Burrell up on her offer to go see St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope in Trust, NC…it changed my life and was the impetus for writing this blog.

*This little bird house replica of the Chapel of Hope (Michele gave  to me) reminds me of that special day Honey introduced me to the little chapel in the woods.

Today’s “Funny” 🙂

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Hope and Love aren’t Closed or Cancelled

Dear Reader:

I spent most of yesterday outside…and it is the best cure-all for everything. It was still pretty warm but there was a nice breeze…the blue, blue skies against that special “new green” on oak trees is simply breathtaking.

Michael, my firefighter/lawn maintenance worker/ extraordinaire texted to let me know he was on his way. Besides cutting the grass, he did weed-eating...(Bye bye dandelions for a few days) in the garden, blew all the last of the oak tree remnants off the driveways and then cleaned the fountain and got it ready to provide the soothing sounds of clear, clean gurgling water. It is not spring until the fountain is cleaned of all the oak tree debris above it and flowing again.


In the title picture my orange trumpet vines collided with the purple wisteria and look like a Clemson piece of landscape beauty  smiling down on me! All the right colors 🙂


As I looked up and around the tops of tall shrubbery and trees lining my property perimeter…the orange trumpets were blaring loudly and clearly (“Look up at me, look at me!:)…These vines can climb as high as 40 feet  and extend several feet in groups laterally….just gorgeous now while blooming.

But as beautiful as the shades of orange are in the orange trumpet vine…the purples (Aurora Delphinium) in the garden this year are equally exquisite.

When Mandy and I talked last evening I told her that I was having to stop occasionally and think what day of the week it was. She started laughing and said that same topic was now popping up on Facebook…it is being called the “Groundhog Day” effect (like the movie. Every day feels exactly like the one before and/or after…

That is why it helps staying outside a lot in my garden so I am seeing new things to break the routine…and having people stop by so I can remember who stopped by which day and identify time by friends.

The nicest thing is that (to date) everyone who has stopped by or sent me texts, emails, etc. are upbeat, optimistic, humorous, taking things in stride and for many relaxing, really relaxing for the first time in a long time.

My handsome nephew Lee and his beautiful wife Vikki  are up- beat even though Lee is a professional musician and Vikki runs a hostel under tourism (both sectors hit hard, of course, with the effects of the coronavirus.)


Like my post title says: “Hope and Love Aren’t Closed or Cancelled” even though Lee’s gigs and their hostel reservations might be. No gloom and doom here…hope and love abound.

On the Charleston free radio (ohmradio963)  Vikki created and they both help anchor…  they discussed recently on air some newly discovered realizations of life in altercation. (This in response to the “Shelter in Place” vote for Charleston.”)

We talk about how time is the only thing we truly have. Money, market, and borders are all human constructs that only have power because we believe in them. Who are we without those things?” (They are both using this time to find out…great idea for everyone!)

So until tomorrow: *Henry Dyke shared his philosophy on time and prioritizing it.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

A knock at the door yesterday brought Luke and Chelsey back…they had biked over bringing me….fresh chicken breasts they found at Harris Teeter…who knew a month ago…that such a gift would be such a prize from such an amazing couple. Love you Luke and Chelsey from the bottom of my heart.

I finished up the Publix mac and cheese you brought last week and baked one medium portion of the chicken breast, froze the rest for a rainy day…how good it was with a can of baked beans I found way back on a shelf. 🙂  You put a smile in supper! How blessed I am! Hope and love…hope and love!


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The Lesson of the Magnolia

Dear Reader:

During these quarantined, isolated times we are all figuring out what we can’t do or where we shouldn’t go….but it is also leaving us plenty of time to do things we have put off… seemingly forever.

One of these chores for me was finally scrubbing my mailbox yesterday. Christmas was probably the last time I cleaned it when I added some Christmas decor to the top…but since then…and especially since pollen season I have watched the mold and pollen grow with inattention…my focus on what was in the mailbox itself.

Yesterday I had had it…I grabbed some cleaning formula and an old rag and out I went. I love my mailbox because Mandy, my daughter, painted it for me as a Christmas gift several years ago. A mailbox with a beautiful magnolia on it. It looked so good after the cleaning…(Before-left- After-right)

When I came back in the house after finishing up…I started flipping channels…and landed  on HGTV…one of my favorite channels. They had some old Chip and Joanne Gaines’ “Fixer Uppers” on…(*I really think I know just about every single line and joke from Chip from every single episode.)

Like so many others I was saddened when the show went off…always enjoyed watching Jo’s whimsical decor ideas that match my personality and decorating style too.

It was in the last episode that Chip told the kids why all the business trademarks, including their farm home, had Magnolia on it. (*A Magnolia Empire)

It was fitting that the series concluded with a planting of one last magnolia tree. As Chip’s kids helped their dad plant the tree next to a refurbished porch, Chip Gaines finally revealed the origin of the symbol.

”You know what’s interesting about a magnolia tree?” he explained, ”One of mama and I’s first dates, I climbed up a magnolia tree, and I pulled her off a magnolia bloom and I gave it to her.”

Isn’t it amazing how human beings can take something in nature and turn it into a symbol that reflects their life style?

Joanne added her own explanation:

“Now that we’ve had some time to reflect on it, it’s as if our whole lives had been preparing us for this experience. We didn’t know it at the time, but it’s as if the seeds had been planted long ago. Have you ever looked at the bud of a magnolia flower?

It’s a tight little pod that stays closed up for a long time on the end of its branch until one day, out of nowhere, it finally bursts open into this gigantic, gorgeous, fragrant flower that’s ten times bigger than the bud itself. It’s impossible to imagine that such a big beautiful thing could pop out of that tiny little bud. But it does. And that’s sort of what getting ”discovered” and sharing our lives on Fixer Upper feels like to us.”

Don’t we sometimes intuitively sense that everything, good and bad, that has happened to us is preparing us for when our bloom opens wide to the world to reveal our true selves?

While most of us will never be celebrity famous… we are all created to burst open in our own unique ways. What God has done in the DNA of each magnolia bud, He now desires to do in all our hearts…a closed up tight little pod bursting forth into a gigantic, gorgeous, fragrant image…as a special child of God.

So until tomorrow…

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Yesterday was another hot summery day…the joke about living in the South is that “Summer starts in April” but the joke is on them this year as yesterday hit 90 in areas of the lowcountry … Summer has started in March!

I had two wonderful friends who dropped off goodies for me on the porch.

Mike Lesko  brought me Cheetos yesterday morning after his marvelously witty wife, Dee, texted me and we discovered we were both Cheeto addicts like the Mexican man in the story earlier this week and his little chihuahua .

Dee was wanting to know the name of the little dog (which sadly the article never gave…the chihuahua should have had his own by-line) because she wanted to hire the dog to get her Cheetos too. Instead, Mike, her husband went to the store yesterday morning and got us both Cheetos…what a man! (*Most certainly… Mike is not in the dog house! 🙂

Anne came over, bringing me some of her reproduced note cards, homemade rye bread, and then took photos of  cloned “Little Big Red”…I have commissioned her to paint ( water color) the geranium  as it is now…covered in blooms…a testimony to the courage of starting over during a pandemic. (Anne also discovered 5 bird eggs in my red English petunia box on the green chair.)

*Lynn Gamache (British Columbia loyal reader) is decorating for her extended family this Easter… even though they won’t physically be able to gather… but she wants to show her grandchildren her hidden peeps hiding inside and out.

No matter what happens…remember…life always finds a way to return…the same as hope.  Have a great day!


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Becoming Who We Were Meant to Be- By Rolling Up Our Sleeves

Dear Reader:

At a certain point in our lives…don’t we finally recognize that we have grown closer to whom we have been deep down inside… all our lives? It has just taken us enough life experiences to identify it?

Crises have a way of bringing about this personal “awakening.” When I would share with someone the seemingly absurd idea that I like “Living with Breast Cancer Becky” more than “Pre-Breast Cancer Becky” I got the oddest looks. But I bet if a poll was done for the millions of Americans living with cancers of all types today…many would say that their cancer was not just life-altering physically but spiritually… in the way they perceive and appreciate life more now than prior to the diagnosis.

Nothing is taken for granted in life after hearing a medical professional tell you the odds of the amount of time still probably left in your life. Suddenly the birds sing more beautifully, the sun shines more glowingly, the flowers and nature delight you beyond earlier experiences…it is like your life goes into instant technicolor…bigger, brighter.

And the longer one goes past an original diagnosis prediction…the greater the intensity of life envelopes you.

It is the same now…the predictions when this pandemic might end are varied in “extremes” depending on the individual predictor’s idea of what the ending should look like. In the meantime it is up to us to live life to the fullest daily and look on the time we have in quarantine as an opportunity to slow down, look around, and discover what makes our own happiness and passion abound.

Years ago, when the Betty Crocker Company first began selling their cake mixes, they offered a product which only needed water. All you had to do was add water to the mix which came in the box, and you would get a perfect, delicious cake every time.

It bombed. No one bought it and the company couldn’t understand why, so they commissioned a study which brought back a surprising answer. It seemed that people weren’t buying the cake mix because it was too easy. They didn’t want to be totally excluded from the work of preparing a cake; they wanted to feel that they were contributing something to it.

So, Betty Crocker changed the formula and required the customer to add an egg in addition to water. Immediately, the new cake mix was a huge success.


Isn’t that what most of us want to do now…to be a part of the solution by helping others who need us the most during these difficult days?

Aren’t our own lives brightened when we can lend a helping hand to a friend, neighbor, or stranger during this pandemic? A few years down the road don’t we want to remember the positive changes that came about during this time…especially the ones we got involved in?

So until tomorrow…a mantra to live by:

“We believe it’s the little things that mean the most, that kindness really does matter, you should always be yourself, do what you love, and try to make the world a better place. (Live Happy/Natural Life)

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Mollie posted some pictures of their bright little ray of sunshine who in all her childhood innocence just plays, kisses on her family and Poogie, and loves life. Miss Eloise.

Today’s “funny”…a coronavirus  spoof of the famous painting of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel. *(Thought of you Joan Semle 🙂



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The Happiness “Fickle” Dilemma

Dear Reader:

Isn’t it frustrating that happiness is so elusive…sometimes it arrives in bulk and spills over into our whole day, then other times it appears for only minutes and then dissipates when we let negative news chase it away.

We, then have a tendency to go backwards to a happier time and compare it to now. We don’t always “get it.” Happiness isn’t a point in time that we leave behind; it’s what lies ahead of us…every single day.”

Case-in-point: My back yard neighbor, Donna Clark, called and was heading to the store and wanted to know if she could pick anything up for me…I was hard at it in the garden when the phone rang…and immediately I said “eggs.”

I told her…”I know you won’t be able to find any…I have tried numerous times so I am not really expecting any…but if by sheer luck…Peter Cottontail left some eggs on the bunny trail or aisle in some store…I have craved a scrambled egg toast sandwich since the quarantine started.”

An hour later…as I was bringing debris from the back yard to the front to throw away…Donna was heading up my porch steps…she had eggs!!!!!!! Not only did she have eggs and an amazing surcie…but a great story.

She told me that a crowd of people started moving towards one section of the store where she happened to be and she was able to grab some toilet paper…and brought me one bag of TP back. We were both giddy…jumping up and down. (These two grocery treasures are just as “good as gold” to us!) My Lucky Charm…. The very lucky Irish lineage shopper of the day… Donna Clark!

Yes…unknown to us…“Happiness lies ahead …the potential in every single day.”

My happiness will continue day after day because I planted flowers for the deck, yesterday, that will bloom every single day.

As long as there is a beautiful rose blooming…life is good and happiness is beauty in all forms.

***I came across the cutest story on-line yesterday…and must share it with you…titled “Man’s Best Friend.” 

In these difficult days, when all the medics and other health officials are begging people to play their part in stopping the novel coronavirus from spreading so rapidly and practice social distancing and even stay home if you can despite not having traveled anywhere in the recent weeks, people are trying to be creative in finding ways to continue with their daily lives as normally as possible.

That being said, it seems that people are pretty capable of finding ways to stick to their familiar routines and meet their families and neighbors as safely as possible…to fulfill the need for connection but it’s a little bit more difficult when it comes to a craving as simple as the pleasure of a single bag of “Cheetos” since going to a store would expose you to people outside your social circle and therefore would put you at a higher risk of infection. However, this Mexican man found an ingenious solution on how to avoid that.(Author: Judita Kusaityte)

*In a quick summary….Antonio Munoz was in day three of the quarantine in his small town in Mexico and he was craving some cheetos…the regular orange kind…not the new red hot ones. But he didn’t want to leave his home and then put a family member at risk who might be stopping by to check on him.

The grocery store was in the same block…almost across from his home… so he called his chihuahua over to him…wrote a note explaining to the storekeeper he was a neighbor and was putting a twenty dollar bill attached on the collar…please be fair and return the right amount of change…one bag of the orange cheetos please…no red hot ones.

“Hello Mr. Shopkeeper. Please sell my dog some Cheetos, the orange kind, not the red ones, they’re too hot. She has $20 attached to her collar. WARNING: She will bite if not treated right (and returned with the right amount of money.) Your front neighbor.”


The article ended with an addendum stating that the precious chihuahua has returned twice more (successfully) since this original article came out a couple of days ago.

So until tomorrow…”If we aren’t creative…we can’t create possibilities to the problems of today.”

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

With more of us at home and reading more in the process…this “funny” caught my giggle box.

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