Do You Have a Dream?

Dear Reader:

One big difference in Martin Luther King’s memorial celebration is that it is not about a day off (even though for many students and teachers alike, it is gratefully just that…. ) but it is a day “on” of service.

The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Jan. 20, 2020, marks the 25th anniversary of the day of service that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. The Corporation for National and Community service has been charged to lead this effort for the last quarter century.

I loved the creativity of Jakie’s teachers in his four-year-old class at school. They took pictures of all the children sleeping during nap time…then they told them about Martin Luther King, Jr….who he was and what he wanted for every child in this country…they shared all his thoughts bout equality, love, and respect in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Then each child was to draw a symbol of love or peace and give the teacher his/her personal dream for a world without hate. Mandy sent me Jakie’s drawing late yesterday afternoon. As soon as I saw it…I teared up…*that is what happens to me when I am not feeling my perkiest…my emotions have a tendency to dominate. (Besides my white cell count still being very low…I have the cough, cold congestion in my chest requiring a chest x-ray… that is only adding on to my inertia and overall sense of fatigue.)

The comments and pictures of Jake and his classmates were so sweet…the innocence of his little poster choked me up….how I wish I could freeze all my grandchildren so they never have to see or feel hatred towards another individual.

In fact…I sent a note back to Mandy asking….”At what age do you think children learn to hate? ” When is it too late to stop the avalanche…because we all know it is generational, as well as, widespread through news, comments on talk shows, etc.

“I have a dream that I can love everyone in the world.” Oh Jakie…how I wish hatred could be erased from the world in which we live…and if each person in it would love everyone else, as in your dream…it would disappear over night.”

When I rhetorically asked Mandy at what age did children learn to hate did she think…suddenly the lyrics from South Pacific- “You Have to Be Carefully Taught” came flooding back into my memory.

Verse 1]
You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear
You’ve got to be taught from year to year
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught

[Verse 2]
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade
You’ve got to be carefully taught

[Verse 3]
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You’ve got to be carefully taught

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

So until tomorrow…”Inch by inch…row by row…see how peace and love can grow!”

Anne and I went to visit our wonderful Maine friend, Sherry and adorable husband, Bob, yesterday at their drop-dead gorgeous newly renovated home on John’s Island. It was chilly yesterday but the blues in water and skies were so vivid…it was hard to differentiate between them.

And speaking of blues…I  told Anne that I had seen a morning glory blooming last week on my fence…latest that had ever happened…and Anne looked up and there was a beautiful periwinkle morning glory smiling down on us.

On the way out we had to laugh…love the placement of mail boxes in front of this yard…this resident certainly has his priorities set in correspondence! 🙂 Love creative people!!!!!!!!!!

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A Short but Important Response Example on Kindness

Dear Reader:

Many of you living in the area and others just visiting Charleston have probably heard the name of this restaurant- Hyman’s Seafood. It has become an historical culinary benchmark in downtown Charleston.

It was 1986 when the great grandsons of the Hyman brothers (dating back to mid-1800’s)…changed the name of the building from Hyman’s Wholesale to Hyman’s Seafood Company... and the rest is history. Today you might spot a marker on your table that says Neil Armstrong, or Jodi Foster, or Oprah,  or Dolly Parton …(and others too numerous to mention)… sat here. When they ran out of tables…celebrities’ pictures began to  surround  the walls in framed photos.  Soon the idea of autographed plate wall-hangings added to the decor.

…But it was for none of the reasons cited above that compelled Cindy Ashley to forward me a sign located outside the restaurant that shows perhaps the best example of not only kindness, but compassion, and dignity too. (So proud it is in Charleston!)

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if signs like these started popping up all over Charleston, South Carolina, the United States, and the world?

We all  must remember that an act of kindness, no matter how well-intended, can easily leave a recipient feeling belittled instead of grateful.  Benevolence must always be tempered with compassion…thus leaving the recipient’s dignity intact with a promise to pay it forward one day in memory of this day.

So until tomorrow… Every act, every deed of justice and mercy and benevolence, makes heavenly music in Heaven

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

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The Comeback of Kindnesss

Dear Reader:

If you think you hear  words and phrases like…kind, kindness, random acts of kindness, intentional acts of kindness, kindness and grace, kill them with kindness, one of a kind, the milk of human kindness, you get farther with a kind word than…..” more now than ever before…you wouldn’t be wrong. Kindness is making a come-back…and apparently just in the nick of time.

The one phrase that put kindness back in daily dialogue, several years ago, was the phrase “Random acts of kindness.” It struck a spark that spread like a wildfire. Suddenly people were talking about all the different ways they anonymously performed a random act of kindness for someone else, particularly strangers, without their knowledge.

It was and still is a popular topic today…though intentional acts of kindness are also competing for the top spot. In several different magazines and newspapers…authors, in differing areas of expertise, are discovering individual and even group acts of kindness are a direct response to a disturbing increase in higher levels of anxiety in this country.

One article I read in The New York Times cited these latest stats dealing with the scary increase in stress and anxiety found in our country and the underlying causes.

The New York Times: Americans Are Among the Most Stressed People in the World. 04/2019

Credit…Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times

There were many factors cited…but basically Americans feel more isolated than ever…and at a loss to feel in control of their own lives any more…too much is happening too fast to mentally or emotionally process and there are not enough periods of peace and calmness in the news to offset the daily turmoil that leaves most Americans feeling left out with no control over too many issues. Feelings of helplessness and frustration prevail.

This notable increase in anxiety is starting to become another hot topic discussed in the news and on talk shows. On the Hallmark Family show Rebekah Lyons, author of Rhythms of Renewal – Trading Stress and Anxiety for a Life of Peace and Purpose shared this information she discovered while researching her book. *Today she is a mother of three teenage children which we know can definitely keep you hopping.

In her intro to her book she states:

As a society, we are in the throes of a collective panic attack. Anxiety and loneliness are on the rise, with 77% of our population experiencing physical symptoms of stress on a regular basis. We feel pressure chasing careers, security, and keeping up. We worry about health, politics, and many other complexities we can’t control. Eventually we find our minds spinning, trying to cope or manage a low hum of anxiety, unlike ever before.

I think the first time I was made aware of the number of young people on anti-depressant medicine (on a daily basis) was when I was teaching some courses at both the College of Charleston and Charleston Southern after I retired. A student would come up to me after a test and apologize for not doing well…but she had overslept and didn’t have time to take her anti-depressant medicine.

At breaks I would see students grabbing bottled water to take their ‘medicine’…it truly broke my heart. I had no idea young people felt that much stress and anxiety at the college level while finishing up their last semester in the vocation they dreamed of doing. What was causing this anxiousness?

But it just didn’t stop with young people…suddenly it seemed like you weren’t in the “groove” (date myself 🙂 if you weren’t on anti-depressants and/or sleep medicine.

I remember even a physician was filling in for one of my oncologists one day going over my medications…she stopped, flipped back the the chart, looked again, and then asked me…“You aren’t on an anti-depressant medicine or sleep medicine”…I shook my head, kind of confused…and she muttered something about me being one of the first patients she had come across without either.” 

Personally speaking…I have to take so much medicine just to keep my heart beating regularly, my blood pressure stable, hormone medicines, chemo medicines with not so great side effects… that I will be darned if I am voluntarily adding any thing else I don’t need to function and be happy…enough is enough…I would give anything not to be on any medicine.

And that brings us full circle as to why kindness is making a comeback in these troubled times. Think about it…we feel personally in control when we do something kind or nice to someone. We get to choose the when and how we are going to do a kind act..with no interference from others.

In addition….we receive in return a feeling of accomplishment, happiness, laughter, euphoria….serenity…we get more back than we actually give…and people who volunteer have a longer life span than those who don’t.

So until tomorrow….What we give away…we reap back in bountiful blessings of happiness. Not a bad exchange, huh?

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

One of the very best quotes on how to live life…It’s easy to remember and easy to do if… we just put others first.

“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”   (Henry James)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Building Our Foundation in Life…. On Rock or Sand?

(Artist- Jonathan Hopper)

Dear Reader:

I came across an observation by Madeleine L’ Engle that caused me pause and memories of earlier crossroads where I had to find my footing again… and decide if it was now on solid rock or sinking sand.

Can’t we all stop and remember a time when it felt like someone or something had pulled the rug out from under us and our world suddenly turned upside down? In fact…we hit the floor so hard it knocked the breath out of us?

No matter how hard we try in life to maintain the status quo, to avoid change at all costs, life reminds us that this is a lesson in futility because the only constant in life…IS change!

Perhaps the incident involved a broken relationship, a divorce, a sudden death of a loved one, the loss of a beloved home place or a move to a completely different culture? It could be any number of things that make our feet falter and fall from what we thought was a solid foundation under us…to helplessly sinking in what feels like a form of quick sand.

An obvious metaphor would be Clemson’s recent loss to LSU. It certainly must have felt like this analogy to the Clemson coaches and players when the solid rock they thought was under them in the first quarter suddenly turned to sinking sand after the half. No matter how you ‘cut it’ it is a helpless, sinking feeling…one no one wants to experience more than once if it can be avoided. Yet it is this experience that makes us stronger in life

When we reflect back on our lives…haven’t these experiences, as scary as they were at the time, forced us to to re-examine the illusion of the solidarity of the life we have built for ourselves? Too many times we realize the strong foundation we thought we had built under us… had been built on rocks that lay on sinking sands all along.

Man wants security so badly he looks for it everywhere …animals instinctively know there is no such thing as security or the promise of tomorrow…only man stays deluded most of his life until he, too, accepts the realization that sand IS rock and rock IS sand. Made from the same basic components.

Sand- A mixture of minerals and rocks, compounded by weathering processes- wind, rain, freezing and thawing that breaks down rocks into small grains of sand.

So until tomorrow….The three little pigs tried to find security in their homes by building each one with stronger materials than the other…and for awhile the brick house worked…but given enough time…over a long extended period of time…old brick houses come tumbling down too and brick turns to dust. Nothing is permanent in this life but trust and faith in God.

***And no doubt Clemson will bounce back from this temporary set-back stronger than ever…because the team is lead by a man who puts his trust and faith in Someone much bigger than himself…a Creator Who knows that the strongest foundations are built under His Guidance and shown to men of faith willing to follow Him.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

Relationships are what one remembers in the long run, in our final moments on earth…they outlast temporary moments of victory or defeat….relationships are the most important memories we take from all our life experiences.

*Dabo comforting Trevor.

 

 

 

 

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“Acting Our Age”

Dear Reader:

As a teacher and mother I have been as guilty as anyone else of misusing the phrase “Act your age please!”  

One too many “So and so started it…why aren’t you yelling at so and so…why do you always pick on me?” and our last vintages of self-control fly out the window…as we practically wreck the car trying to push one child away from their other sibling and still steer. I remember yelling over my shoulder “For Heavens Sake….please act your age” (which in retrospect they were actually doing…kids being kids.)

All it took in the classroom was one wise crack too many…and with 13-year-olds there were always a lot of wisecracks…(this age specializes in them) to set me off on my tangent of “Good grief…I didn’t know I was teaching elementary school…instead of eighth grade…why can’t you act your ages?” ( Which again they were pretty much doing! 🙂 )

Lately as I look in the mirror each morning…I think to myself…“How old am I?” I mean…I do know my actual chronological number but I wish someone way back when…perhaps my mother or aunt or grandparent had taken me aside one day when I was growing up and said…

Becky one day you will look in the mirror and realize that the face staring back at you is not the chronological age you feel inside. Now remember this…always stay young in your thoughts and actions…because they are the only indicators that can truly age you.”

I read this stat the other day on aging and found it encouraging…Among respondents ages 65-74, just 21% say they feel old. Even among those who are 75 and older, just 35% say they feel old. Most seniors when asked for a specific number on what age they truly feel most days inside…is somewhere in their early forties.

It appears that our aging mechanism (that dwells within our subconscious) slows down and stops somewhere in the forties… even when the physical process keeps grinding away at us.

I am sure photos taken of many Clemson and LSU fans last night would have shown just how agile and athletic we can all become, regardless of age, jumping on and off sofas (or the lucky ones-bleachers)…hiding our eyes behind our fingers and then spreading them apart to peek occasionally, squeezing stress Clemson tiger balls….yep…I imagine there were a lot of people not acting their ages last night…and isn’t that wonderful?

So until tomorrow…Madeleine L’ Engle said:

“If we limit ourselves to the age we are, and forget all the ages that we have been, we diminish our truth.”

“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

Regardless of how things played out at the end of the game…these stats are probably in the big picture even more important in life to these young athletes. (See academic and happy standards later in the post)

*I did my part- I checked off all my ritual get-ready list items!

Candles, last year’s magazine article (hoping today…it will read…”Too Too Good to be True”  (My Clemson Christmas tree Tiger and “All In” SC state ornament hanging from my mantle.) Check!

Pizza at Castillos...eaten before every Clemson game with my Clemson neighbors… Check!

Sausage dip complete and ready to take to Sam and Donna’s along with the orange noses and stress Clemson Tiger ball! Check!

*Okay Clemson…the “Boo” has done her part ….now go get’em! Roar!

#7  Happiest Students (Princeton Review)

Academically Higher than many other colleges with outstanding football programs. (As a parent this is what I would be looking for!)

I took time to ride around Summerville and on the 13th of January Spring was popping out all over…blooming flower and fruit trees …and in the midst of this a GIANT CLEMSON HELMET in someone’s front yard. Go Clemson Tigers…Go Summerville!

Donna gave me a fan that fits into an iPhone and blows on you when things get too “hot”! Believe me I needed that fan last night…Thanks Donna! Perfect gift!

One of Clemson’s cutest little loyal fans was putting toothpicks in his eyes I believe…but he continued to express his belief that Clemson Tigers were number one in his book… win or lose. Ditto Rutledge! We love our Clemson Tigers forever don’t we cutie? No fair weather fans in our family…just proud supporters!

*Take notice….this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the team…with over 50% of its team members…freshmen…if this was a rebuilding year…watch out world…the Tigers are on the prowl! 🙂

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Staying Unsettled…

Dear Reader:

For the past few days the weather here in the Lowcountry has been unsettled…unusually warm temps for January, intermittent rain showers, fog…repeated over and over each day like we are stuck in ‘Groundhog Day’ mode… and now the latest predictions have the front stalling out with unsettled weather up until next weekend …when finally a cold front breaks the monotony!

Bummer! I really shouldn’t be complaining…with warm temps and rain that make summer flowers bloom in January. It is just that everything feels off-kilter…out of sync. I wake up wondering what day it is in the week and even the month…because nothing feels right…gloomy foggy mornings that could fit in any season…warm temps that feel completely out of place in January…and the house stays cool inside because the heater isn’t kicking on…leaving one’s fingers and toes cold throughout the day inside.

So I make myself go outside where it is warmer if the rain stops…but once again…life just feels kinda “off.”

I have found myself in something of a funk. I can’t really pinpoint any one thing that is bothering me over and above the usual daily stresses of life…but there is a sense that something is amiss.

When I looked up the word “unsettled” there were several synonyms

uncertain, uneasy, unstable, disturbed, not calm or tranquil, un-resolved

I simply have an uneasy feeling about what or when or why something is yet to be determined. Hopefully this crazy weather is part of the culprit…plus I do know myself…I am such a social creature that I can only go so long without being around people…and most people, if they don’t have to work, seem to be hunkering in and not going out as much.

Of course….with the big game starting tonight…my nerves are always a little shaky but more in excitement and possibility than a negative unsettled feeling…especially since I spend it with my two other ‘Orange Noses’ Sam and Donna – we always have a fabulous time.

So until tomorrow….Here’s to “defunking” ourselves and making ourselves get up and go enjoy God’s beauty around us…fog, rain, or whatever…it is still a beautiful world….as you can see in the photos I took yesterday afternoon and early this morning.

And what about “Big Red” ….he picked National Football Game Day to completely BLOOM! 🙂

Believe me…”Big Red” might be bright Red.-but orange runs thought its stems!!:)

 

GO CLEMSON TIGERS! WE LOVE YOU FOREVER AND EVER! PLAY TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY AND STAY SAFE and UNINJURED!

 

 

 

 

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Humans are Wired to Learn Through Stories

Dear Reader:

I had my latest epiphany  yesterday while watching a cooking show on ETV. I honestly can’t remember the name of this particular cook…a man from Greece I believe…but the title of his show contained his name and then a colon followed by : “Storyteller in the Kitchen.”

I mused about it a few moments and then thought that it was the perfect title. All throughout the show… story after story was shared about a particular dish, its history, or legend, or memory from his childhood. His stories turned a ho-hum cooking show into a highly entertaining spectacle!

I started thinking about every profession I could conjure up…and every one has the opportunity to improve his/her”passion” by the addition of becoming a storyteller within the selected job or career.

Here are some examples:

A shoe sales clerk is voted Best Salesman of the Year because he weaves  stories about this or that brand of shoe and tells the customer what celebrity was ‘recently spotted’ wearing something so similar one couldn’t tell the difference. Each customer would leave the shoe store thinking that she had made a ‘steal of a deal‘ while wearing the shoes of royalty or celebrity back home.

A real estate agent tells a young couple that the house they are looking at made the residents who lived there before them so happy  they wept when they had to leave and he was instructed to pass on to any new customer what a fantastic home, filled with happy karma, awaited them. Best real estate agent around…recognized year after year.

A defense lawyer takes on cases other legal consultants turn down because she takes time to talk to the jury before proceedings begin to tell them the true story of what happened to the defendant and how relatable the defendant’s plight is to everyone sitting in the jury box that day.

There is no profession that can not be enhanced by a story told to ease other’s anxieties, nervousness, and fright about a change in their life that requires legal help, or moving help, counseling help, medical help…the list could go on and on….a well-told story told at the precise moment can alleviate others’ fears and instead instill a sense of calmness, perspective and connection to others.

The better a storyteller…the more successful life (personal and professional) can be lived.

The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories…we are simply wired that way. We can’t remember isolated facts but we can remember a story…because it is connected…a beginning, a middle, and an ending.

The more we can help others see this connection…the better off they are for this hidden knowledge…a treasure forever.

So until tomorrow….No matter what you do…tell it in a story.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*I am sure most of us are aware that local, national, and ASPCA foundations are now telling pet stories daily on the news and it is working. Finding “forever homes” for stray pets have increased dramatically since the idea of telling each pet’s story on television was implemented. *(Each animal’s individual story of heartbreak and courage has touched so many potential adoptive pet owners hearts.)

“This is Stitch! We adopted him from Paws in the City in Dallas, and he has quickly become the best part of our little family.”

“This is Kodak! He’s a four-month old black lab/shepherd mix. He came to Alive Rescue Memphis.They had saved him from a hoarding case in Tennessee. I saw his picture and instantly fell in love!

“Here’s Dusty on his adoption day! This photo was taken the actual MOMENT I met him. Can you believe that!? When he was rescued by True North Rescue Mission he was on his way to be a puppy mill dad and live his entire life in a cage.” –

The power of storytelling…it not only changes human lives but also the wonderful animal lives who inhabit this planet with us.

Kaitlyn and her mother, Susan, are in Boston for her niece Lily’s (Lafone) contestant role as  Miss Massachusetts USA and Miss Massachusetts Teen USA contest ….beautiful photo of aunt and niece together yesterday. Good luck! I know there will be some memorable stories from this event!

*We are still a whole day away from the National Football Championship between Clemson and LSU but my stomach is already acting up and I can’t even blame it on the side effects of Verzenio!

The knots seem to be growing tighter as the hours tick by. I don’t know how the players don’t go nuts waiting so long to play such an important game… and then to have to wait until 8 p.m.  Monday night to start. Whew!

Isn’t that unconstitutional…like in the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause? It sure feels like it to fans…to be fair on both sides I am sure it is equally nerve-wracking to LSU!

So all I can say is:

 

 

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