Giving Life Our All

Dear Reader:

I think sometimes people immediately think of travel as a substitute for the word ” adventure ” … and feel like they didn’t accomplish much in life if they didn’t travel

and experience the world up close and personal.

Helen Keller couldn’t see or hear any part of the world, since she was blind and deaf, yet she authored the blog title quote today. ” Life is a Daring Adventure or Nothing.”

I have been blessed to have been able to travel to several other countries through historical foundation scholarships and other ” seize the moment” opportunities.

I never regretted any decision to travel. However I think Helen Keller defined ” adventure” differently. Adventure is stretching ourselves outward to embrace the passion within us… waiting to be seen and heard.

My greatest challenge and adventure began after my ” little c” diagnosis and the birth of my first grandchild. It was this blog.

While teaching…my passion for stories and storytelling was met in the classroom and later while traveling and storytelling at educational, civic, community and historical conferences and conventions.

After I retired there was still one passion left-writing. With encouragement from friends and family, instructions from my son-in-law ( ” Now what IS a blog?) my greatest adventure and challenges began. That was over a decade ago and I have never regretted that leap of faith.

So until tomorrow… Don’t ever think that it is too late for another adventure in your life… as long as there is a passion left inside you wanting to get out… there is one more adventure waiting patiently for you to start!

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

Mollie sent me these photos of the children embarking on the plane to their new adventure-summer vacation. Heading to NH to see Mollie’s family-not seen since Covid! Happy Days are Here Again!

Gardening is always an adventure… and delight!

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Life is all about Connections

Dear Reader:

In most schools in the Lowcountry it is count-down week to summer vacation! An oasis of happiness waits on students and teachers! An ending to one of the most challenging years of teaching and student learning… ever-a well-deserved respite!

Because schools were late opening, due to the pandemic, they are now late closing… usually Memorial Day signifies the educational ” cease-fire” to the academic school year in the South. It is bare footing season!

Feeling connected to each other is a basic human need-we all felt the absence of the physical presence of others during the past year and a half. Thank goodness for that new wonderful connection-vaccinations-for helping restore physical hugs and kisses again! Our physical, emotional, and psychological cravings for other human connections is embedded in us- a part of whom we are. We feel lost without these vital life connections!

John McCain once confided that the hardest part of being a POW was solitary confinement… ” The most important thing for survival is communication with someone, even if it’s only a wave or a wink, a tap on the wall, or to have a guy put his thumb up. It makes all the difference.”

Some might think the two types of people in the world are the glass half-full or half-empty folks but I disagree. Instead there are the people who believe we live in a world where random acts befall us and we are at their mercy and the people who believe in connections and patterns in life-I fall in the second category.

Sadly these two polarized views of life are as opposite as our country and the world today.

We have to remind ourselves daily that the human race is more similar ( down deep) than different. We all long for security, peace, well-being, and hope for a better tomorrow with the American Dream intact and alive for all our children, no matter the race, gender, status level, or heritage.

Scientists repeatedly assert that the universe IS connection. Everything is connecting to everything everywhere all the time. We are all the threads that comprise the web of life.

So until tomorrow…

” Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect! ” -Chief Seattle

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

I am drawn to the marsh where life lives in abundance-plant and animal life connecting and dependent on survival together -the marsh behind John and Mandy’s home.

Life imitating art through an unique connection…Anne’s potting shed sign!

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” Necessity is the Mother of Invention”

Dear Reader:

I never cease to marvel at the creative endeavors and newly recognized entrepreneurs who have risen from the pandemic like a Phoenix from the ashes.

Many used the loss of jobs to do what they always wanted to do… follow their passion and are happier than before the pandemic for taking a leap of faith!

The stories I love the most are the people who found a need and decided to meet it head on… putting others’ needs before themselves…

Creativity is in full bloom these days -many times using mundane things around the house to put to good use and improve conditions.

I discovered a bin of old newspapers in my garage… and it took me back to my teaching days. WWI aviators who fought in open cockpits were always looking for a way to stay warm while flying in cold conditions-after trying several things … wadded newspapers won out!

When I came across this next creative solution to a problem, in a story, I had to smile.

” Dr. Williams is Upstairs”

A doctor who devoted his life to helping the underprivileged lived over a liquor store in a poor section of a large city. In front of the liquor store was a simple sign reading ” Dr. Williams is Upstairs.”

When he died they found no relatives and no money had been left for his burial. He never turned away any patient who couldn’t pay-which were most of his patients. Friends and former patients raised enough money to bury him but there was not enough left to mark his name on a headstone.

Then one creative soul came up with the solution. They took the sign from the front of the liquor store and nailed it to a post over his grave. It made a lovely epitaph:

Dr. Williams is Upstairs

So until tomorrow…Good works towards our fellow man will be around far longer than the time it took for the good deed to be done.

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

Remember my huge hibiscus bloom from yesterday-now look who joined it!

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Greetings, Salutations, and “Hello”

Dear Reader:

I love that my statue of St. Francis greets visitors to my garden! The perfect person to open up his arms to all who enter the sacred beauty of a well-loved sanctuary.

When I looked up the origin of the terms Salutations and greetings… the term salutation is first recorded in the English language as far back as the 1530’s.

The term greeting is an old English word ” gretan” meaning to come into contact with another human being. Because of this notion-the physical gestures of greetings emerged-mainly in the form of handshakes.

Of course when the pandemic hit-handshakes quickly disappeared and some cultural researchers aren’t sure the practice will ever return, at least in the same abundance as before.

The end of the handshake, if it happens, will end traditions seen in murals dating back to the ancient Assyrians. Even Homer alludes to the practice of handshaking in his Iliad and Odyssey.

However I thought the most interesting greeting was simply HELLO.

Ammon Shea, author of The First Telephone Book explains the origin of the greeting ” Hello” this way. He says that back in the 1830’s people used the term to attract attention. Example: ” Hello, what have we here?” Hello didn’t become ” hi” until the telephone arrived.

Thomas Edison and his rival competitor for the phone argued over the proper greeting etiquette for answering the phone.

Edison urged everyone who used his phone to say” hello” when answering. His rival, Alexander Graham Bell preferred ” ahoy. ” Bell used the nautical term for the rest of his life-but he was the only one.

By 1889 central telephone exchange operators became known as the ” Hello Girls.” ” Hello” became the permanent greeting. ( At least until Lily Tomlin became ” Ernestine” -the brash tough telephone operator with ” one ringy

dingy… two ringy dingy.”

So until tomorrow… Don’t greetings play such an important role in our lives? When I answer the phone to a friend or family member’s call.. ” Hello” means thanks for thinking of me and sharing time out from your life with me!

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

So Salutation and Greetings and just plain “Hello” -thanks readers for sharing precious time with me!

My garden greets you today with love and affection.

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If Ferns Could Talk…

Dear Reader:

I am so proud of this sword fern – ( Boston Fern) is part of this family.

It is huge and still growing-it is in a location where it gets filtered light and in a high humidity climate that keeps the soil moist… two pre- requisites for healthy growth.

I think my love for ferns parallels my passion for history. After all ferns existed 100 million years before dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Ferns grew before flowering plants existed. Today there are thousands of species … ranging in height from just a few inches to tree size structures.

Sword ferns loved moist wooded shady areas… so it should have been no surprise when a hanging fern pot fell and cracked… the fern, not only continued to live but thrived in that environment.

Ferns symbolize on-going life , hope, and new beginnings.

Magical folk tales sprang up about the fern due to the ” invisible seeds” within it. In reality it is spores mixed with sun and photosynthesis turning them into gametes that move into the fern to reside.

It was thought ( in the Middle Ages) that a fern would flower and produce one magical seed on Mid-Summer’s Day. If you were lucky enough to find it…you could understand the language of birds, find buried treasure, and have the strength of 40 men.

So until tomorrow… just think how young the human race is in comparison to ferns ( separated by millions of years) yet today we love and care for them as part of our surrounding beauty of life.

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

Look at my hibiscus on my other bush-as big as a basketball!

A summer storm is brewing-signing off!

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Stand Aside and Let the Beauty of Life In…

Dear Reader:

Just a few years after my initial cancer diagnosis I tuned in to one of Oprah Winfrey’s last shows.

A little toddler sitting between his parents – a boy-was stealing everyone’s hearts in the audience but rather strangely there also wasn’t a dry eye in the audience. I was puzzled as I watched the child exit with a grandparent to the loud clapping within the auditorium.

An interview was taking place between a young family and Oprah.

I kept staring at this young fresh-faced couple who could have been models for a family commercial.

The young wife was talking and within seconds I realized the bittersweet situation taking place. The young husband was holding tightly to his wife’s hand and never let go. The young woman had cancer and only months to live but you would not have known it…except for the tight clasp of her husband’s hand and his adoring eyes.

The young woman’s face was shining with an indescribable light… glowing in happiness and serenity. She was also hilarious and everything coming out of her mouth made each listener smile and even just plain belly laugh!

I stared in amazement at this woman’s ability to look death in the eye with her whole life before her and thank God for everything she had been given.

She admitted when you get gut-punched by the universe it hurts but we are still co/creators of our lives and she wasn’t wasting anytime feeling sorry for herself-that was a luxury she had no time for…

I remember her comparing life to a River…she admitted that it is just human nature to try to steer the River instead of just going with the flow and allowing the current to take us along for the ride. She continued that once we learn there is so much in our lives that are completely out of our control… we then realize God has an even greater plan than what we originally planned.

Before she left that day she winked and said she had left one last surprise that even her husband didn’t know about and he would share it with Oprah.

Several months passed and then one day Oprah had a live interview with the young mother and wife’s husband following her death.

The cameras followed him to a beautiful shady spot on an embankment at the bend of a charming river-her favorite spot.

The husband knew about this part of the funeral plan but what he wasn’t told was what she had picked out as her inscription on the headstone.

Oprah first saw it and burst out laughing along with her husband and the audience… amid tears.

The inscription said:

Excuse me… but please move. You are blocking my view.

So until tomorrow… Don’t we all need to let go of mundane obstacles that block our view of the sheer splendor and beauty of this world and the time in it…God gave us?

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

Yesterday I attended Jake’s ballgame-it was a ” Take me out to the ball game… take me out in the rain…” day!

Rain or not the game was on-Eva Cate and I shared an umbrella while Jake and the team delighted in the rare opportunity to ” play ball” in a steady but soft rain!

Poor Winnie is home from surgery and must wear an obstacle ( cone) that blocks her vision of delight… dog food!

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Life is all About Staying in the Zone… the Auto Zone

Dear Reader:

This past week an amazing woman (whose children I taught) had a birthday and friends were leaving wonderful comments on FB to her. All very nice …but what caught my attention was her first line… ” I enjoy growing older…”! What a honest and refreshing comment to hear !

I immediately understood exactly what she meant… physically our parts might need more fine tuning more often but the spirit grows freer and freer. .. finally in tune with what life should be about.

All those ridiculous things that I worried about-dressing right, making-a good impression, fitting in, being accepted, etc. have dissipated over time.

Instead I have reached a place where I can honestly say… ” I am finally free to be me.” All those petty mistakes in daily life used to keep me up at night… trivial things I forgot to do on my daily check- list, misconstrued actions or words… so much of my life consumed by insignificant worries.

These days my life continues to simplify… my garden, friends, family and ordinary adventures make my days happy ones.

Last week I went to Auto Zone to pick up some windshield wipers and wash fluid. The woman assisting me graciously put the wipers on for me.

It was while I was waiting for her to check their computer to make sure they had wipers in for my make and model car that I had a small epiphany.

Life is all about replacing parts. As long as our make and model ” body vehicle ” can get parts to replace the old ones that have given out-we can keep moving through life.

Yet we all know that one day an important part will give out and the computer will read ” Make and Model Obsolete… no longer available or obtainable.”

And that will be that… but I hope at that moment I will realize what an amazing ride I had in this life! No regrets!

So until tomorrow…Remember: You May be older today than you have ever been before, but you’re younger than you will ever be again!

“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

My first hibiscus bloom off my bush by the driveway!

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All Living Things Thrive Better 1:1

Dear Reader:

Thanks to Mother Nature, recently, the Lowcountry is pulling out of the near-drought conditions it was headed for just a week prior…

I had bought another water can to help me with my side garden since there is no workable faucet on that side of the house. And as much as it forced me to run back and forth filling up water cans… today that side is the most beautiful.

There are two reasons for this…location, location, location and 1:1 attention from me. The garden gets only dappled light from the trees that tower over it and each day before the rains finally arrived-I would talk to the plants while I watered each one and ” dead-head” the withered blooms to make room for new blooms.

Just that little extra attention has made all the difference. Because I have an automated sprinkler that comes on each morning my presence wasn’t as essential in the back yard garden.

The flowers didn’t get my presence as much and extra gardening attention-so several plants have withered from lack of acute observation.

However the plants on the outskirts of the garden needed my water hose since the sprinkler didn’t reach them and they too thrived better than the automated sprinkler plants . I would check on them to make sure the hose water got to them… and pull weeds from around them or clip off dead or decaying stems.

All living creatures thrive better when special attention is diverted to them. This is an example of another lesson I learned from teaching. Most behavioral problem students just wanted attention-just wanted to be seen and heard. Acting out improved with just some 1:1 attention from the teacher and certain other students selected to be a buddy to a challenged learner or troubled teen.

So until tomorrow … don’t you think our Master Gardener does this for us and even more importantly smiles when we take the watering can to help someone else using 1:1 techniques to make them feel seen, heard, and cared for by God’s water cans- us!

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

I always find it fascinating that blue or pink hydrangeas depend on the amount of PH acidity or alkaline in the soil. Apparently I have both in my garden!

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Pay the Story Forward

Dear Reader:

In one of Barbara Johnson’s Daily Splashes of Joy she tells about a man who was moving to a new town. His friends bought him a young sapling to plant in his new home as a reminder of all the fun they had shared.

The man nurtured the tree and soon it was taller than he was. Each spring it’s blossoms lifted his spirits and reminded him of his friends. But then he had to move again. He called a tree expert and insisted ” No matter what the expense, I want to take it with me. “

But the specialist shook his head ” This tree won’t survive where you are going, ” he insisted. ” The climate’s too harsh. All you can do is tell the new owners it’s story and help them understand how special it is.”

That’s how many of us ended up with The Tree of Life taking root in our hearts . The Tree of Life symbolizes our personal development, uniqueness, and individual beauty.

Like the branches of a tree grow upward to the sky, we too grow stronger, striving for knowledge, wisdom, and new experiences as we move through life.

So until tomorrow… didn’t someone else pass the gift seed from their life experiences on to us-nurtured by them? What an awesome hand-me-down!

It made me start thinking how hard it will be to leave my garden and five maple trees ( one for each grandchild) behind one day! But I will make sure the story will be left behind too!

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

All the rain made my gardenia bushes start blooming galore! Oh… the fragrance! Heavenly!

I picked some blooms and brought inside-I woke up from a short nap yesterday to that lovely scent in my house-sorry Febreze … you don’t come close to the real thing!

Gin-g told me her sister Suzy stepped into Heaven at 5:25 Saturday morning-as sunrise was beginning-Suzy loved sunrises and sunsets!

Thank you blog readers-it was a long hard journey for Suzy but a beautiful new beginning! Your prayers were much appreciated!

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Depth Perception in our Lives

Dear Reader:

When it came time to select lenses for my eyes before my cataract surgery a few years back…a choice for my particular visual situation was to place one eye lens for nearness-upclose and personal activities like writing my blog post – in one eye and a far-sighted lens in the other eye-it would keep me from having to ever wear reading glasses again. ( which I lost by the gross!)

It has worked well EXCEPT in one type of situation- when either mounting or descending steps in a dark space… I lose my depth perception ability. And that brings us to my fall from dignity Saturday afternoon leaving the auditorium following the dance recital.

Walsh ran out as quickly as possible to get the car to bring around while we decided to leave early too to get Eloise before the crowd descended.

So the auditorium was still dark when we jumped up to mount the steps-I was about two steps from the exit when I splattered -thank goodness the floor was covered in carpet.

I tripped on the edge of the last step and my knees caught the brunt of it! Everybody, it seemed, was trying to help me up to my sheer embarrassment!

I jumped up and wobbled off … both knees were stinging but more from carpet burn than anything else. I was lucky-yesterday my knees were sore and a little pink but not blue with bruises. I know how lucky I was/ am … still it burned in my memory as an indignity to the reality of growing older.

Sometime yesterday I started thinking about spiritual in-depth perception. The miracle of having two eyes to provide us with two perceptions is easily obtained when we close one eye and then switch to the other-objects appear to move. If we keep one eye closed for long… things start to appear flat.

The wonder of ” stereo-scopic vision” ( seeing through two eyes) lies within our brain. By the brain combining them in such a way … a new picture emerges-a perception of depth.

Spiritually we have two ” eyes” -our mind and heart. If we use our minds too much-our vision lacks depth. We fail to see beauty, the importance of moments and most importantly the wonder of close relationships.

It is only through the heart that we can find our soul which allows us to see the world as God created it …and the hand of God everywhere in our daily lives.

Oh Lord how marvelous are Thy Works!

So until tomorrow… Make each day a good day with lots of thankfulness in it!

” Today is my favorite day!”Winnie the Pooh

Oh happy days-we have gotten rain, rain, and more rain over the weekend ! Filling up all my big pots!

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