Memorial Day…Letting GO

Dear Reader:

I had a story picked out today for Memorial Day or Decoration Day as it has been called in the South…but then a phone call changed all that.

With all the riding back and forth between Mount Pleasant and Summerville Saturday I noticed that my brother Ben had called a couple of times so I returned the call when I got back home Sunday and had rested.

He said he finally heard back from the VA concerning his pension (that he has worked at receiving for almost ten years) and he was turned down for the increase to 100% pension. I thought he would sound a lot more disappointed but he said he was so tired of the fight. He had written, documented…family and friends had written…everyone, including his pastor, had tried to help him “up” his pension… to no avail. It simply wasn’t ‘in the cards for him.’ It was over.

He continued that he was  glad he had stopped putting his life on whole waiting to hear back (two years wait this last time) from a federal bureaucratic enigma with no rhyme or reason. Starting his book on his experiences in Vietnam two years ago gave him new direction.

He said the timing on the results, however, was the worst part…Memorial Day weekend. Ben confessed that Memorial Day Weekend is the hardest two days of his year… and has been every year of his life since returning from Vietnam.

If he could simply skip this weekend each year he would gladly do so. Too many memories of friends who didn’t make it home, too many documentaries, too many war stories…too many, too much for him to handle. He avoids the news, television, newspapers, radio, etc.

If this is true for Ben…I feel that there are thousands of other veterans who probably feel the same way. For that reason Memorial Day should be a important lesson to us regarding the price of freedom. It is a high price that just continues to inflate with each ensuing war.

It is unfortunate that we often consider Memorial Day Weekend as just the kick-off to summer, graduations, celebrations, parties and forget the real meaning behind the day. So, if nothing else today, let’s thank a veteran or wear a red flower or say a prayer or leave a flower on a tombstone or talk to our children and grandchildren about the real meaning of Memorial Day…Believe me…it goes a long way. Let’s not forget our family’s heritage and sacrifice to our country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Daddy-left) and (Poppy-right)

I told Ben I was proud of him for letting the pension fight go and moving on with his life. Since his book has been published he has sent some copies to friends, Vietnam Vets, other authors and amazing “God Winks” have returned in abundance. He has heard from comrades he thought he would never hear from again who saw the book on Amazon…they ordered copies and  have written to him thanking him for telling his story…for telling their story.

Tara Kyle (widow of Chris Kyle that the reality-based movie American Sniper was created around) wrote Ben and talked about how her healing has come about from helping others…a fund for children who lost a parent or parents in warfare. She thanked him for his service to this country.

Almost every day he hears back from someone thanking  him for sharing his experiences as painful as they were…He realizes now that this is his “pension”…gratitude from people he knows and doesn’t know…. nor will never meet.

The Vietnam War did strip Ben of the innocence of youth…witnessing atrocities no one should see in their entire lifetime…but…after years of struggle…he is finally coming to terms with what happened… bringing closure to a tragic chapter in his life and this country’s history.

So until tomorrow…My prayer for you Ben is that you can leave the past in the past and trust God to lead you into an unburdened life that brings you joy and fulfillment for the rest of your life.”

 

 

 

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

 

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Our Greatest Gifts…Friends and Family

Dear Reader:

Have you ever wondered how difficult life would be without a friend or family to pick us up when we fall…to tell us that “everything will be alright.”

Many of us in the baby boomer age bracket have lost their mothers…some recently. And isn’t the one thing we miss so much is having our mothers reassure us “that everything will be alright.” A mother’s hug and verbal reassurance leaves other sources of support far behind in the dust.

And isn’t it wonderful when we have friends who, for all intents and purposes, ARE family. They are like the sister or brother we never had. I am so lucky to have many more siblings in my journey through life…and I love being a member of a big family.

So Saturday, yesterday, was wonderfully filled with family and then some more family friends. These days are such treasures. They arrived in the form of dance recitals (Eva Cate) and art exhibits (Anne Peterson) and Memorial Day cook-outs (Mandy and John.) All memories secured forever.

Watch and enjoy all the fun…it started Friday afternoon when I went  to Mt. Pleasant to rehearsal practice for the Tapio Dance recital.

A few winks later we got  ready to go to the morning dance recital.


Then Tommy,Kaitlyn and I went to Summerville for Anne and Friends Art Exhibit Extravaganza!



Anne gave the newly weds a beautiful original water scene from a location not far from Dingle Ireland!!🤗 What a treasured keepsake!!

The exhibit was bustling with people and lots of fun! Congratulations to all the artists!

Then back to Mt Pleasant for a Memorial Day cook -out at John and Mandy’s!



So until tomorrow Bless God for every breath we take. Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

“Today is my favorite day! Winnie the Pooh

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Let the Light Flow…

Dear Reader:

It worked… light cascading from the old water can to the grass like twinkling stars tumbling over a water fall! 🎉

Last week, a friend from high school, Jane Taylor Freeman, sent me an idea for my garden. It was a photo of a watering can on a fence with cascading lights falling out of it like water pouring from the can. I loved that idea!

So the other day, while at Home Depot, I wandered into the solar lights section and found what I thought looked like the same lighting effect. I had two old watering cans…Vickie helped me pick one and the location where it could best be seen from the deck. We were a little unsure if the one long string of copper wire (repeatedly wound around the spout of the water can) would give the same illusion…it did!

I had to run pick up some prescriptions Thursday night at CVS and it was dark when I got home. I tip-toed out on the deck and peeked through the inky blackness into the garden…and there it was…looking just like (or very close to) Jane’s picture. Happiness is! It is amazing the (title) picture even ‘took’ with me all aglow with excitement!

Doesn’t it feel good to glow…really glow! When I looked at Tommy and Kaitlyn smiling and laughing through the wedding ceremony…the glow was obvious to all. It is just not a glowing expression…it is a glowing feeling. It is feeling loved and wanted. Isn’t that the one common denominator that everyone desires and needs here on earth?

I love being around upbeat people who glow with laughter, smiles, and compassion…I have been blessed to have friends who do just that…share their light. Everyone’s light is uniquely their own…and it shines in various ways.

In one uplifting article, titled “Finding the Ruby Shoes” Erin Parker (Huffington Post) reminded us of the (Wizard of Oz) Good Witch Glinda’s prompt to Dorothy…“that we need only look inside ourselves to find what we need.”

Parker agreed with that assessment BUT…it, also, helps for someone else or even others to point it out to us also. Perhaps it is the teacher who points out to a student that they had a natural inclination towards writing, creativity, art,  music, math, science, history, cooking, or athletics…and for the first time the student begins to believe that perhaps he/she does.

Sometimes, Parker thought, we need someone to not only push the “Ruby Slippers” at us… but make us try them on too. It is that special someone who shares their light with another, making sure the spark is strong before leaving, who never really leaves our heart.

“…So, yes, we may have had the power within us all along, but I’d bet that there has been at least one person in our lives who saw something deep within us that we just could not see. All of us are blessed with Ruby Slippers in our closet, and if we cannot find them, I pray another person is quick to pull them out so we can all spend our days walking around shining our light and sharing it with each other.

Ruby shoes go quite nicely with that Yellow Brick Road.”

……………………………

So until tomorrow…Let’s all take a minute today to remember that special beacon or beacons of light in our lives who helped steer us down the right shining path. Ruby slippers and all. Thank you!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*When we find our true passion we shine our inner light for all to see !!!!

 

 

 

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Widening the Different Angles of Life

Dear Reader:

Yesterday as I was coming down the driveway to my garden I turned the corner and suddenly I saw the deck and back of my house from a different angle…from the perspective of the roses growing perpendicular to the house.

It was so pretty I ran to get my IPhone and discovered another angle while sitting on the back garden bench listening to the fountain. Both were beautiful but I had never noticed either one because I never took the time to detour off the expected path.

The sun was hitting one of the Japanese maples and blowing its leaves-I leaned into the maple, peering through the leaves and took a picture of part of the garden and back of the house! Again I was thrilled with the discovery- how changing one angle in life can produce such marvelous results!

Vickie came over yesterday to help me with another little fun garden project… I was sharing with her how I discovered new images of the garden and house by simply looking at things from a different angle. She said it was strange I mentioned that particular observation because she noticed her house from a different angle (for the first time) when she finished watering in my backyard (the week I was at Edisto) and started back across the street.

It is a funny feeling…like being able to see ourselves from outside in…the way other people see us, our homes…our lives.

Here is the picture Vickie took of her home (as seen by me and other neighbors!) A real gem! She caught the photo when the sun was just right…casting beautiful shadows on the house!


In my own writings, I have noticed that I am more successful in sharing my thoughts if I  do it by putting my own angle on the story. All it takes (for an idea to blossom) is a glimpse of something different, a comment or commercial on television, a passage from a book I am reading… and I am off and running.

I agree with author Ray Bradbury that waiting for one’s muse to appear in order to write is a lesson in futility. The reason being: Your muse is your entire complete being- it is simply you.

“When people ask me where I get my ideas, I laugh. How strange—we’re so busy looking out, to find ways and means, we forget to look in.” – Ray Bradbury

Writing is simply looking within ourselves and sharing the world through our own unique lenses. Nobody else can tell the same story because everybody sees everything differently. It is what makes the world adventuresome and exciting. God didn’t make a single one of us exactly the same. That, in a nutshell,  is the wonder and marvel of life.

So until tomorrow…

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Don’t forget: Drop-in – Tomorrow from 4-7. Anne Peterson and friends’ annual art exhibit! Walnut Farms 131 Scalybark Road. Summerville.

 

 

 

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Diving Beneath the Surface of Living

Dear Reader:

Don’t we all have moments when we pause long enough to wonder if we are just ‘surfing the surface’ of life and missing out on the deeper spiritual wonders of the world…that are just waiting for us to dive down and discover? (The world beneath our feet where our dreams become reality)

The amount of time we spend on earth compared to eternity is defined as a micro-second…(perhaps even smaller… but I wasn’t ever good at math) Just know it is might be only half a blink of the eye.

In Miller William’s poetry book titled: Living on the Surface he describes time in this poetic line as  “minutes are rolling storm clouds and seconds bolts of lightning.” 

I suppose it was the thunder storms yesterday that rolled through that got me thinking along these lines for the blog  post today.

Every time I am reminded of just how limited our time-line is on earth…I find myself jumping up to make my bed or wash the dishes…anything  that makes me feel “accomplished” for doing something constructive.

Then later when I re-think that panicky feeling I realize I did do something…but constructive...now that’s debatable? It was all surface…down to dusting the surface of my coffee table. (It really does look better though! 🙂

Since my cancer diagnosis in 2008 I will admit that I have been diving deeper (beneath the daily rituals of life) for inward answers to the secret of the universe. I am not diving for riches in the material sense (though that would be nice)…but for a new awareness of the treasures of hope, faith, and joy that lie just beyond our mundane daily perceptions.

And to be quite honest…I have found these treasures and more. My outlook on life today is so much broader and accepting than it was pre- “little c.”  Maybe it takes those constant pounding waves of life experiences to show us the beauty of life under the seas…the other world that exists (without our knowledge) unless we are brave enough to dive beneath the waves.

I have gotten two interesting comments on different blogs I have written this week. One was from a blog site called flavours2017 (amazing recipes in it!)- the young blogger had read an earlier posted blog about my life now at the age I am and she commented: “Loved your write-up, you made it so interesting…living a retired, peaceful life. I aspire for this kind of life in my later years.” 

This made me smile and I replied “It IS a wonderful time in life that I never would have contemplated when I was younger…(your age) Remember ‘The best is yet to be.”

 Then day before yesterday I got a comment from another blogger named Angela who offers wonderful book ideas and suggestions on her blog post titled Books and Opinions LLC.

One of her suggestions really stopped me in my tracks…she was commenting on a picture (about the difference in reading the book or seeing it in the movies)…calling it the “Best Book Picture…Ever.” And she provided the picture.

(We could just as easily changed books and movies to conscious and subconscious thoughts, including imagination (which drives our lives) and is located between our daily thoughts and movements and our dreams and hopes. The two are linked.

No matter how good a movie is based on a book…the vast majority of movie-goers leaving (who read the book first) will comment something along this line “It was good, but not as good as the book.”
And why, because we create the main characters and scenes in our unique creativity (as we read the book) and nothing Hollywood creates can ever compare to each individual mover-goer’s imagination.

*

Isn’t that picture amazing? Angela is right: “It is the best book picture ever.” It says it all.

And just like the wonder of the unknown castle beneath our visualization the secrets of the universe, too lie hidden from surface living and will continue to do so… unless we  take time to commune with our Creator.

So until tomorrow let us always ask God to heighten our awareness of the daily wonders and miracles that live just beyond our self-imposed surface restrictions!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*I do most of my talking to my Creator through talking to nature and my garden never ceases to bring me joy.

I changed my barrel’s appearance- the poor little violets gave up the ghost. Hopefully the lantana will be happier in the heat!

In between rounds of showers I got the mandevilla planted by the fence!


And  I finally bought a new house plant to fill in the empty planter- all smile makers!

 

It is Red Nose Day!

Let’s all show our

support to end child

poverty!

 

 

 

*Don’t forget! Anne Peterson and friends’ Spring Art Show and Sale is this Saturday May 27- drop-in from 4-8. Come and bring a friend to Anne’s home: Walnut Farms: 131 Scalybark Road, Summerville.

 

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The Bee and the Bloom

Dear Reader:

I just got re-introduced to Mark Nepo again after years of losing him to the dusty attic of my personal memory box. I moved on to other writers and poets and time worked its enigmatic power over my feeble human memory that compartmentalized Nepo to a locked door in the treasure box of yesterday’s thoughts.

It was my wonderful friend, Samantha Moore, (owner of Simple to Sublime) who recently heard Mark Nepo speak and posted the experience  on Facebook, that brought me back to him. Ah…Mark Nepo! I love his writings, his thoughts…how did I let him slip away into my unconscious frontier?

So I started pulling some quotes of his and came upon this one that stopped and made me pause…long enough to just be.

Nepo follows this quote with one more:

“Like a tulip whose blossomed petal is the exact shape of the bee, our own self-actualization attracts host of loving others more real than our fantasies.”

Aren’t we all guilty of wasting too much precious time waiting on love to come to us, to find us, without any participation on our part? We reassure ourselves that “if it is meant to be, to happen, it will” and then close our petals to new opportunities.

By doing this…we are shutting out happiness and joy…because the reality is we have to pull the layers of mixed emotions off of us one by one to find the peace of joy that waits for us smothered under our own inertia.

One of Mark Nepo’s latest books of poems is called Reduced to Joy. It immediately caught my attention because I wondered “What do we have to  reduce to find joy?”

 

Nepo believes that we all share one common destiny: “to be worn of all that is not essential till we are reduced to joy.”

Immediately my mind jumped to the days of the gold-diggers ( after all I am a “49’er”) and the stories of the hours, days, weeks, and years that were spent shifting through all the sediments to find that one spark of gold. Spiritually…that is joy!

I remember one time while  growing up… a neighbor and classmate of mine, Freddy, was walking to school with me (like he did every day) but this morning he was unusually quiet and subdued. We were about eight. I asked him what was wrong and these big tears came down his face.

He had changed his grade in spelling from a D to a B…his parents didn’t catch it…but we both knew our teacher (who was very strict and extremely vigilant) would. We were right. She gave us some quiet work to do at our desks as she went through each report card, one by one, checking for suspicious grades and signatures. (She obviously was an experienced teacher.)

Suddenly she looked up and pointed her finger at poor Freddy who was trembling and sweating by now. She motioned him outside. I remember praying at my desk that poor Freddy would somehow survive this dual embarrassment/consequence.

You could tell Freddy had been crying when he got back but he had stopped and  appeared subdued and quiet. By lunchtime…when I finally had a chance to ask him what happened…he whispered that our teacher wasn’t going to tell his parents…he was. She was re-making the report card and would send it home again. It was up to him to tell his parents what happened.

Surprisingly Freddie didn’t seem as anxious as I thought if I were  in his shoes. Actually it went better than even he had hoped. His parents remained calm, let him know the consequences for his actions (privileges taken away) but acknowledged their appreciation for him making a wrong right.

The next morning…Freddie was downright joyful as we walked to school. The worst had happened and not only had the world not stopped spinning..suddenly everything was brighter and better than before. By “coming clean” so, too, had the world.

I think perhaps that is what Mark Nepo means by being “reduced to joy.”  He concludes:

“Though we discover and experience joy with others, our capacity for joy is carried like a pod of nectar in our very own breast, our very own bloom. I now believe that our deepest vocation is to root ourselves enough in this life that we can open our hearts to the light of experience, and so, bloom.” 

So until tomorrow…”There is a Sioux saying that the longest journey you will ever make in your life is from your head to your heart.” No one is exempt from this great adventure. Our final destiny is to find that special place  “where the glow of our heart touches everything it meets so we can’t help but remember how dear it is to be alive.”  (Nepo)

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*Tommy and Kaitlyn flew back in to Charleston in the midst of the thunderstorms early last evening…landing safe and sound.

 

I am sure it will be an adjustment returning home after such a fairy tale romantic honeymoon. So just to make it a little easier…here are some “balloons” to welcome you back to everyday reality…which is a pretty good life too! 🙂

…and Honeymoon!

 

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Snippets of May Memories- 2017

Dear Reader:

May has been such a kaleidoscope of changing patterns, colors, and events that I am still a little dizzy from it all and we still have a little over a week to go.

If I had to pick one event however, that stands out above all the other wonderful events, it would have to be THE WEDDING…of Tommy’s and Kaitlyn’s. What a way to start May! Happiness surrounded us in all shades of bright colors and smiles!

I had a couple of days to recoup from all the emotions surrounding the wedding and then I started following Tommy and Kaitlyn’s adventures in Ireland which kept me waking up in strange hours of the night trying to figure out what time it was in Ireland and then check to see if any new messages, pictures, or videos had popped up.

Tommy and Kaitlyn are arriving back home today..the trip is over and I am sad not to be able to tour Ireland vicariously through their eyes.

(Tommy and Kaitlyn at Ashford Castle and the last picture (last night at Cliff at Lyons…drinks, dinner, and a gorgeous room before departing Ireland today and heading home…what a beautiful ending.)

 

 

 

 

 

Walsh, Mollie, and the boys left for Disney World following the wedding…it was the first time for the boys!

Squeezed in among all of this came Mother’s Day…cards, flowers, and especially love.

Then came Teacher Appreciation Week and a surprise from Mary Davies sending me a sweet message from a former student I taught…which just made my day. (You might remember I had showed you some Dr. Seuss t-shirts Pam Stewart found that were so funny…I ordered them (they were all a little big…XS was still huge on the little little ones) about grandmothers who were retired school teachers.

I never could find a time when I was with all four at the same time but I got pictures separately with their t-shirts and “funny/ serious student” glasses on. Too much fun! Thanks Pam for letting me know! “My Grandma was a teacher; What did your Grandma do?”



 

Then came the Ya Ya reunion and birthday parties for Brooke and Libby….this retreat is always a fun blessing for all!

 

 

…Except that I always freeze most of the visit while inside…the other Ya’s like it cold…iceberg cold (in the 60’s) so I always have to bring “Pinkie” the heavy winter robe or have a blanket handy.

(Sue Anne…it reminds me of that message I saw on Facebook about the freezing temperature in some people’s houses and the penguins running to them to escape global warning)

 While I was with the Ya’s I missed Jakie’s first public “performance” with the two-year-olds at the Citadel Square Baptist Day Care Center.

He went up on stage with everyone and then got embarrassed and shy…covering his face and peeking through his fingers so he would be “invisible”…but after each number he put his hands down long enough to clap for himself. Too cute!

After leaving Edisto Beach…little did I know more surprises awaited me…I thought catching up with Ed and Roz was enough. But then as I turned on to my street….’What to my wandering eyes did I see…but one long newly paved road leading into our neighborhood.” (We have tried since I moved here decades ago to get it paved but to no avail and yet here it is!)


*When I opened the door to my house another wonderful surprise… my orchid was there (I gave it it’s three ice cubes before I left for the beach) looking just like the way it looked on Tommy and Kaitlyn’s wedding day when Susan gave it to me. Three ice cubes is the trick! Thanks for the advice Vickie and Stephanie!


And finally my garden welcomed me home with blooms popping out all over…it was as if they were just waiting for me to get home to show off for me.

Vickie, thank you for all the watering…it was such a hot, sunny week I know watering your garden and mine must have kept you hopping!

Look! My passion plant bloomed for the first time in two years!!! The day lilies are ‘going to town’, and  the Sweet Williams are too sweet!

So until tomorrow…yesterday I got a package in the mail from Honey…she had made me a hanging Hummingbird ornament with this wonderful message attached…’To remind us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.”

 

“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

*Eva Cate got selected by her teacher as Terrific Kid from her class for the fourth nine weeks. We are all so proud of her and at how hard she has worked this year.

I also got to commemorate 50 years in education…a  reception for Carol Poole, my Berkeley co-hort in Social Studies, who was my traveling partner as we went up I-26 doing workshops for the state department after we retired. We traveled the interstate so often we decided to call the interstate..the Dingle-Poole Express. Congratulations Carol!

And finally…a May Mini-Miracle. I got my Express Scripts monthly statement as usual yesterday and among all the individual statements…was a refund check for a whopping $14.82 for overcharging me on some medicine. (Hey, it’s lunch out time!) Now I can say that I was the one who received a personal check from them!!  That doesn’t happen very often!

 

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