“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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The Stone Within Us…

Dear Reader:

Isn’t it a tingly feeling to think that the same Creator Who did create the mountains, oceans, and stars also thought that “the world needed one of us too” in it?

A statement like that makes us feel no longer  like one of the masses of humanity when we think about this unbelievable gift…there is no more comparing ourselves to others but simply concentrating on what God sees as our personal unique talent… that only we can bring, not just to our daily life…but  pass on to others.

The  Ya’s have recently talked about these types of observations as we cheer each other on through tough medical procedures, waiting games, and life style adjustments. It is through our struggles that we all have become stronger women.

 

We are not the same 18 year-old women with pie-in-the sky dreams that never pertained to who we really were deep down inside. *Accumulating this type of inner wisdom is a process that takes a lifetime.

I love this quote so much I wrote it down and put it in my purse so I could keep it close to me and never forget it.

She couldn’t change who she was, and she no longer wanted to, even if she could.

She knew that who you are is a stone set deep inside you. You can spend all your life trying the dig the stone out, or you can build around it. Your choice.”

It has been in just the past few years that I have finally “gotten it”…life I mean. Don’t we have a tendency to weigh ourselves down (like a big stone inside of us) with mis-givings, self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy?

Instead of asking ourselves the most important question concerning who we really are…What makes us passionate, happy, content while allowing us to help others along the way? When we can answer that…we know who we really are.

I am a storyteller. My way of dispersing stories that run through my head (constantly day and night) is to write...writing is my mode of sharing and it is also my passion.

The visual below sums who I am up… completely.

My life runs on stories…they are my breath of life and how I see life…as a series of stories, like stepping stones, bringing me closer to my Creator.

The other day Jeff, our pastor, said this past Christmas Eve story was his favorite so far. (Jeff had been a middle school teacher before he changed callings.) I thanked him and told him it was special to me too…as a retired teacher.

His remark made me think, however…maybe one day God will look at me  and say, “Becky, that was MY favorite story”...time to come on home.

So until tomorrow…Remember that it is not who we are that holds us back…it is who we think we are not.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Yesterday was an unusually warm day…perfect for sunning on the back deck…to the point I fell asleep and awoke to storm clouds gathering…but still pockets of yellow lights (like little winks shining through) made the skies beautiful. Another great canvas God!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Life is Based on a True Story

Dear Reader:

In the Sarah Addison Allen sequel to Garden Spells (First Frost) one of the main characters’ teenage daughter, Bay, wears fun, creative t-shirts to high school daily. Examples like:

I have not yet begun to procrastinate.” “Either you like bacon or you are wrong.”  :)!

I found myself making a list of a few of them while chuckling to myself…but the last one “My Life is Based on a True Story”  stopped me in my tracks and made me close the book and take some time to absorb the “truth”… or not…behind it.

At first glance the quote comes across as catchy and witty simultaneously. But then…if we stop and give the statement another glance…it begins to change.

Being a history major in college…I remember being confronted by some of the very “serious-minded” history majors (most of whom were going  straight on to grad school after graduation.) If they caught you reading any kind of fiction book, especially historical fiction, a look of disdain would come over them with remarks like…

“You really are wasting your time reading trash like that?” as one eyebrow would shoot high in air accompanied by an incredulous whisper… “and you call yourself a history major?

I would just shrug and go on reading my book…I had read and memorized enough history books to last me a lifetime by the time I graduated…I wanted to read “escape fantasy” books and romances on my “off” time.

I remember thinking to myself that I needed to get up enough courage to challenge some of these “too big for their britches” history grad “nerds” (sorry…old memories die hard 🙂

What my response should have been was “Do you truly believe when you are reading non-fiction that it is completely true…if you do… you are the one with the serious misconception?”

Think about it….even an autobiography written by a famous person (without ghost writers’ input… which is almost unheard of today) is telling his/her story as remembered from feelings and not necessarily through first-hand accounts or actual documented facts.

Could you go back now and write your personal autobiography through memory only and actually believe everything in it happened just as your remembered?

I recall having several of these “aha” moments of disillusionment when I would be with mother and her sister, my Aunt Eva. I would be in the back seat recalling something from my earlier childhood and they would look at each other and say “That’s not how that happened Becky…or that’s not how that incident went down?” “How did you ever think that?”

Don’t we all read rebuttals to so many famous autobiographies from the writer’s  family or friends mentioned in a controversial book who claim that such and such an incident never happened or it certainly never happened the way the author promoted it?

To be fair…the author, him /herself, is often shocked to learn that certain episodes in their lives played out so differently in others’ perspective and memories who were present at the time. We all tend to think what we recall is the truth.

So the question to be asked concerning the phrase “My Life is Based on a True Story”  is ” Is this story only considered true  in the eyes, ears, thoughts, feelings, and memories of the one telling it and the roles others played in it?” Can it stand the test of time and the reflections of other people who were part of the author’s life?

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….

In 2011 Sarah Addison Allen was diagnosed with cancer…like the starting phrase in her first novel (Garden Spells)…it was “The Year Everything Changed.”

For me that year was 2008- the year I was diagnosed with treatable but not curable breast cancer. As I read Sarah’s thoughts on her cancer proclamation…it matched my own so similarly that I have used excerpts from her observation that I want to blend with mine saying  thank you to everyone.

This year is another important year...It was 10 years ago this summer when I started the blog post (2010-2020) and twelve years when I was given a much shorter life expectancy number than what has come to pass! 🙂 🙂 🙂  * I figure I must be a slow spiritual learner or I still have something left to accomplish…only time will tell what?

“My life before and my life after (The Year Everything Changed) are so vastly different that sometimes I think they were lived by two separate people. 

Many of you readers have been with me on this journey from the beginning, many joined me in the middle, and many have come in after. To all of you, I want to say a special thank you for being a part of my life-before, after, and everywhere in between.”

So until tomorrow…(I like the ‘truth’ of this observation…and I will stick with it!)

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

 

 

 

 

We had two personal anecdotes sent to me on  the ‘power of sunbeams’ -both funny in their truth… in the telling.

Jo Dufford:

“The Mystery of the Stubborn Santa”

About 25 years ago a three-foot seated Santa came to sit on Jo’s hearth. He had a number of sayings but only spoke when he wanted to do so. Frustrated family member would shake him and dance in front of him but he remained stoically mute.

Then out of the blue, when least expected you would hear “Have you been good this year?” in a jolly manner. One night as Joe (Jo’s husband) was slipping into the kitchen for something sweet and chocolate while passing Santa…the old elf spoke again. Kelly witnessed Joe jump higher than he had ever jumped in his life…

When he could get his voice back…Joe growled at Santa and said something like “I ought to kick your hind end.” It became a standing family joke.

This past Christmas while sitting at the kitchen table…Jo heard old’ Santa just start talking away…talking more than he had for over two decades. Jo ran in the den to see what had brought this on….when “what to her wondering eyes should appear “but a SUNBEAM shining through a crack and hitting Santa’s candle at just the right spot. Mystery solved!

Some of the family tried flashlights to beam in on the candle but ole’ Santa knew the difference…only magical sunbeams could bring  him back to life.!

(I was thinking Jo…maybe that has been the ‘santa secret’ all along…not those noisy old reindeer…but magic sunbeams dropping him in and out!)

*On second thought it would probably have to be moon beam ride… Santa has to “hit” while the children are sleeping!

 

Susan Cadwell:

Hey.

Judi and I were driving to Mt. Pleasant yesterday to Trader Joe’s, and she told me of a similar situation she was in the other day….when someone’s lights blinded her. In the meantime, I missed our exit. I told her we need a sign to put on our cars with something like “Beware. Senior driver who does not mean to be rude but sometimes does strange things. Doing my best!”

Geez……..

*(I agree…the best is all we can do!) :)))

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Power of Sunbeams

 

 

Dear Reader:

Some of my most favorite quotes deal with the mysticism of sunbeams (as cited in the examples below:)

“I am always humbled by the infinite ingenuity of the Lord, who can make a red barn cast a blue shadow.” E. B. White *(See title painting)

Sunbeams seem to be magnets to poets, authors, philosophers, astronomers, artists and theologians…their thoughts on sunbeams span the diversity of man’s imaginations… without limitations.

*This is also true of some of us ordinary “Joe’s” who simply are just fascinated and drawn to sunbeams. Below are some of my favorite quotes on the subject…followed by my personal thoughts.

“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely!” Roald Dahl

Isn’t this true? Don’t we all know people…who… by us simply listening to the tilt in their voices or observing the shine on their faces (lit by sunbeams)… witness an inner joy of life filled with such daily gratitude that others are drawn to the magnetic effect like moths to light?

Carl Sagan, a famous cosmologist explained sunbeams from his distinct perspective.

“We live on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” 

Now that quote  reminds us of the fragility of this planet we call home, doesn’t it”

I remember as a child loving to go to libraries of past-gone days, consumed by the scent of old dusty books… and sit in the window reading nooks…not only to read but to watch the dust motes flying around the room like little fairies.

It is still one of my favorite memories from my childhood. I often imagined me (like a fairy) catching a ride on a mote of dust being pulled away by a sunbeam to “Never Never Land.”

“Hold out your hands to feel the luxury of sunbeams.” – Helen Keller

In many of Helen Keller’s early memories, particularly before the “light literally came on for her” while still living in a dark, silent body… Helen would communicate to Anne Sullivan, her “teacher,” (that the only thing she could remember from those dark, disturbing days before she felt “water” and finally made the connection to outside communication and knowledge)…was holding her hands straight out in front of her and feeling the warmth of the sun beaming down.

Of course she had no idea what the sun was or what was making that wonderful feeling on her hands…but it was the only hope she had that there was something better out there than the silent prison of darkness she lived in as a young child.

 

 

 

“The light from a sunbeam can force us to fall back on blind faith.”

I experienced this quote (upclose and personal) a few days ago and it was  terrifying. This time of year…driving in the late afternoon (as the sun does down) is quite perilous. My eyes are weak from the side effects of my cancer removing all my eyelashes…which in turn water constantly. So I always have to wear sunglasses but even they can’t always help.

I was rounding the bend on Highway 17 heading towards my road cut-off onto Miler…when the sun caught me full force. For a moment I could not see one single thing in front, beside, or behind me. The whole car was consumed by light. I was desperately trying to pull the visors down…again to no success in blocking out the sunbeams.

I instinctively slowed down to almost a stop ….afraid someone behind me would slam into me or perhaps I had gone over the middle line…my heart was pounding. I found myself praying that my eyesight would be restored and I would get  home safely unharmed and/or not harming someone else.

A few seconds later…the light shifted and I discovered I had remained, somehow,  on my side of the road and the cars behind me must have suffered similar problems because everyone had slowed down. When I pulled into the driveway I said a prayer of gratitude for God guiding me through that scary ‘darkness of light’ and forcing me to fall back on blind faith…turning the situation over to the Only One who could intervene.

To finish…this last quote makes me smile and I hope it is true…just like the child in me wanted it to be in the reading nook with the dust motes. One day I will know.

Ah, the souls of those that die, are but sunbeams lifted higher.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

So until tomorrow….

“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

 

 

 

 

 

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And Into the “Garden” I Go, to Lose My Mind and Find My Soul…

Dear Reader:

Well…yesterday I didn’t go in the woods like Thoreau to live or find a path less traveled like Frost…I just wanted some quiet time in my garden sanctuary. I felt like finding a big, big blanket and wrapping it around all the foliage in the garden…tucking it in snug and tight…and wishing the garden a good long sleep this winter.

I have come to realize that my personal medical history and my winter garden..are closely interwoven. For almost twelve years…I have known that words like “dormant” or “stationary” “resting” or”inactive” are medical terms that describe a tumor that is in a form of remission and not spreading…at least extensively.

So these terms are “comfort” terms to me…like soup, or mashed potatoes or mac n’ cheese. I like to picture my tumor taking a nap…sometimes I even feel myself quieting my body down in fear of awakening it or jolting it back into activity. (Then later I forget about it and just go on about my regular life.)

Intuitively I know that the only “organ” in my body that I need concern myself with…is my soul. As long as it is okay (“All is right with my soul”) then everything else will fall into place… exactly when and how the Great Physician deems it so.

What was so strange about my winter walk through my garden was all the life peeping out under dead foliage or leaves…summer flowers, seasonal blooms, and the most beautiful sasquana season we have had in awhile.

“Snowing white sasquanas”

“Pretty in Pink”

Next year I am going to spend a little more money on year round azaleas (Encore azaleas)…they are worth every extra penny…they have bloomed all year.

Maybe because the flowers by the bird feeder outside my “office” window are protected…all the summer flowers have withstood several freezing nights and are still blooming.

So until tomorrow…As much as I love walking in my garden…if I could click my fingers and be at St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope right this minute…I know my soul would soar.

This summer marks the 10th anniversary of discovering this chapel…the catalyst that changed my life and started the blog post. A big shout-out to Mike and Honey Burrell for introducing me to this edifice of hope and love.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

I love this written thought by Gunilla Norris…it makes me feel better about my “thinking” mess.

Create an image of a nest of papers on our desk as being a place where we can nurture new things…(like new life from a bird nest.)

*Sammy! 🙂

 

 

 

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