Summerville Sculpture: Learning Lessons on Leadership

Summerville ” Sculpture in the South” -Title: ” Followers”

Dear Reader:

I am a proud Summerville resident who has spent most of her life in one of the most beautiful towns around… a hidden treasure for years… that now exhibits its charm for the world to come see.

The continued success is due to the creative leadership and ” followers” ( citizens of Summerville) who strive to create a home town that offer’s accessible artworks, in the form of sculptures, throughout the many parks and allotted town spaces for teaching each sculpture’s history and heritage. Each sculpture tells a different story.

For example… the title picture ” Followers” depicts a fond childhood memory ( that most of us grew up playing ) called ” Follow the Leader.”

Have you ever considered how many lessons about life can be taught through this children’s game… with just a few added creative ” rules” to it?

The best ” leaders” ( we might remember) were the children who created the most fun movements to imitate… these leaders took into account the diversity of their ” followers” and offered an assortment of different ability level challenges that weren’t too easy or too challenging, so as not to cause frustration at inabilities to ” follow.”

Now let’s put this idea into an adult ” Follow the leader ” campaign for an office. What if the rules were tweaked from this childhood game and every follower had one verbal ” cue card comment” that simply said ” OUT!”

If anyone felt that the ” leader” was implementing too many potentially dangerous or harmful movements they could step out of the line while saying” Out” ! If half the number of followers opted ” Out”… the leader was automatically replaced with another leader chosen among the followers.

We adults can learn a-lot from children and maybe we should take note when to opt out from a leader and his/her campaign that doesn’t allow input from followers and puts self over followers exposed to extreme risky and dangerous paths.

So until tomorrow… May we, as Americans with courageous heritages, stay open to the original ideals that brought us freedom from tyranny. Let us opt out following anyone whose ideals don’t match what our own inner morality tells us.

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh

New fun addition to Laurel Street Park( Relaxing Banana Sculpture)
( Rare Ice Storm in Summerville)
Ran home to take down hanging baskets and secure garden flags, etc as windy weather was predicted-had some but not badly-all is good!
Rutledge’s Japanese Maple is the first tree with leaves-soon all the grandchildren’s trees will be in beautiful blooms!
Eva Cate loves when her Aunt Carrie comes… she always fixes her hair in such adorable style that makes Eva Cate so happy!
Good thing Carrie is driving and not Jake!
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Let the Light In and the Darkness Out….

Dear Reader:

At the start of the final sentencing Friday, in the nationally televised Alex Murdaugh trial, Judge Clifton Newman began referencing part of a quote that Alex Murdaugh, himself, had somewhat mentioned earlier… hoping , most likely, that Murdaugh would complete the familiar saying. He did not … but visually ascertained the verbal connection with a nod and glance at the judge.

” Oh what a tangled web…”

I felt my hand raising, like in a school classroom, and yelling at the television… ” Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” ( Sir Walter Scott)

Later… when I researched the origin of this familiar childhood warning ( in my family at least) I discovered it belonged to Sir Walter Scott. Grandmother Wilson made sure all of her grandchildren took this warning to heart and could repeat the saying. Once a lie was told… cover-up lies would certainly unfold… and complications grow out of control. ( We all learned, as adolescents, how right she was !) Don’t ” fib ” and / or if you do… confess and apologize.

Throughout the day, following the final sentence, the drama was repeatedly shown, regardless of the network or source. And each time I saw segments of it again, it became more obvious that Judge Newman was trying to give the accused time to speak to all those hurt by a vast accumulation of deceitful practices played out repeatedly over a long period of time… that didn’t happen.

I did discover that the Sir Walter Scott quote can be found in the epic poem-Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field. It tells the story of a courtier of Henry VIII named Lord Marmion. He is smitten with a wealthy woman named Clara de Clare who, unfortunately for the suitor, is already engaged to another.

A devious scheme is designed to implicate Clara’s fiancĂ© in a duel and initially it appears it has been successful. Marmion’s deceit defeats the honor of the honorable fiancĂ©, but it is all in vain since Clara retires to a nun’s convent rather than marry Marmion.

At the end of the day … as several law enforcers and legal teams admitted… this senseless tragedy, with all of its complicated entanglements didn’t happen over night but over extended periods of time when personal decisions were repeatedly made that set the wheel in motion to a horrific tragedy.

So until tomorrow…In the big picture… there were no winners or losers… just sadness and disbelief in a life of deceit and darkness that hurt so many. What a sad legacy to leave behind… to take away the sunshine, the light … in exchange for darkness!

Today is my favorite day -Winnie the Pooh

Thursday two pigeons decided to lodge on the ledge above Mandy’s front door loudly “cukcooing” … apparently it is a good sign since pigeons are drawn to peace and calmness… Mandy and I laughed that the two pigeons left right before the children got home from school… so much for calmness!

From pigeons to ducks… beautiful walk in Mandy’s neighborhood each morning-Winnie keeps putting on brakes and half the walk is spent in Mandy’s arms!

Let’s always remember to follow the sun along our life’s path… no detours into darkness.

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Angels Bake While Life Awaits…

Dear Reader:

The other day a story on the origin of angel food cake popped up on my email… I almost deleted it… but then I started envisioning a slice and my mouth started watering.

Apparently the same thing happened to Rick Hamlin who took the time to research this “heavenly” topic… calling it ” The Story Behind the First Cake Made By an Angel.”

In his family …birthdays and angel food cake have always been synonymous- the only difference is the recipient’s choice of icing… chocolate or whipped cream, etc. But what everyone wants has always been the sweet fluffy ” insides”… so light it appeared almost airborne!

He started his research with 19th century cookbooks … since all historians agreed that this was the time period for its initial concept. Nothing too interesting there… just varied recipes/so he decided to use a more ” heavenly” source-scripture.

” So mortals ate the bread of angels ” …( Psalm 78:25) … in reference to manna-the heavenly food sent to sustain the Israelites fleeing Egypt.

A century or so later… Elijah gets to be the first official ” birthday boy” when caught in a parched land with no food or water.. and absolutely nothing to sustain him on his long journey home.

Tossing and turning one night, he feels the touch of an angel … soon after he discovers a cake baked on hot stones ( near his head) and a jar of water. It was the first cake baked by an angel. ” Get up and eat” …otherwise the journey will be too much for you” … he hears softly in his ear. I Kings 19:5-8.

The author concludes that from now on… on a family member’s birthday, the call will go out ” Get up and eat… Manna from Heaven.”

Well Mandy, Eva Cate, Jake and I haven’t had a slice of angel food cake yet… but the Twinkies came close… in a busy family… first soccer practice for Jake Wednesday night , long walks in Mt Pleasant and Daniel Island… we have been on the move!

Is there anything more wonderful than finding out your best buddy is on your soccer team!
Serenity Now
Beautiful backdrop behind the soccer field ( Sunset and USS Yorktown-Patriot’s Point ) but chilly winds coming off the water and biting flying insects rounded out the first soccer practice. What we do for love!

Fun walk and talk with Ben on Daniel Island

So until tomorrow… more adventures await, no doubt… and I know many will turn into family memories to sustain us during future hard times.

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Poo

Great Story … Brown Dog Beach sign indicates how far the water rises so the owner’s two brown dogs can jump in and happily swim in their own front side yard!
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The Best Time Capsule -Music

Dear Reader:

Okay… I admit it… I’m hooked on Hallmark’s The Way Home … I was so upset this past Sunday… I was reading that evening …waiting for it to come on.. and fell asleep-waking up just in time to see the last five minutes of it. ” No… No” ! I screamed to myself… what really happened to the little brother and what about dad… was it really an accident?”

But Eva Cate to the rescue… she’s hooked too but it comes on too late for her with school on Mondays so she tapes it. ( Could hardly wait to leave to go to Mt P yesterday for us to watch it together this week. ( John is on a business trip so I am helping Mandy with the grandchildren! )

Haven’t we all imagined how cool it would be to travel through time… especially since ( as a history buff and teacher) I would love to be an eyewitness to several historical encounters and incidences in the past.

But as we are all learning through this television series ( The Way Home) traveling back to the past has its own unique set of problems too. The question becomes ” Not if we can” but ” Should We?”

I have decided that music is the best time capsule… all pleasure and little risk ( except maybe running off the road- keep reading-explanation coming!)

The other day I saw a plaque that read Tonight We Are Young and thought it would be the perfect decor for a reunion or gathering of friends listening and dancing to the songs that were popular when…for just a little while…feeling young and free again!

The closest I come to this feeling is going somewhere with Brooke … like recently to Beaufort because she has all the popular songs we listened to at college-on her radio. We sing there and back… and we are ” young again”

We are not only singing along loudly but swaying too so if we ever “go” in a car accident-know it was a car accident ( not ( Thelma and Louise) and the last song we would have heard most likely would have been…

We have that song down… movements and all… singing at the top of our lungs!

I believe it was every one’s ” anthem ” during those high school and college years because, seriously, who gets through the dating game without getting dumped or hurt… just part of life!

Take a minute and reminisce on some of your favorite songs… when you were ( are) ” young and free.” Then please feel free to share.

I think I will go to Lowe’s and pick up some buttercup seeds … that way I can sing this summer ( while gardening) my favorite ” Oldie Goldie! ”

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh

So until tomorrow…

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” March is an example of how beautiful new beginnings can be…”

Dear Reader:

If you plant them ( flowers) … ” they” will come… butterflies, of course! How beautiful… (purposefully posed … I think! )

There is just something about the word March, itself, that pulls images of flowers, gardens, skates ( aging myself) moths and butterflies… breezes ( sometimes strong) sun and clear blue skies. ( unless March is just adding another foot of snow to what you already have… sorry west and north coast. )

Jeff came yesterday to clean off layers of winter debris… revealing even more new green life that had been hiding under piles of pine straw, pinecones, broken twigs and big branches. The end result is like what we feel after moping floors or vacuuming carpet and/ or rugs… a deep sense of satisfaction.

I hadn’t seen Jeff in months…I ( and my yard) were so happy to see him …I was jumping up and down! He worked for three hours straight… he is such a hard worker! Hardly recognized my back yard after he was finished… a lawn magician!

I have also come to realize that March isn’t just about ” beautiful new beginnings” but stunning transitions. Take this ” Loropetalum” … it is in the process of shedding brown dead petals while simultaneously adding pretty purple petals… the combination is striking!

Loropetalum -a long ” forgettable” name … for this bush… Doodle identified it for me and I told her I was giving it a nickname I could remember… ” Loro… the Petal.”

The last thing Jeff did was clean out the fountain… I ran and turned it on… and there was that soothing sound of running water … then I remembered yesterday’s post … just keep feeding the lake, the pond, the fountain!

So until tomorrow… Anne reflected on her recent adventure in Mexico with several family members … acknowledging now that the trip was all about water… ” in abundance, poverty -a rocking chair, porch chats sometimes…they all experienced and witnessed firsthand water from the perspective of rafts, kayaks, and boats -the glory …and the devastation from its absence.”

Today is my favorite day -Winnie the Pooh’s

Now don’t forget… today is March 1 … first thing this morning say ” Rabbit Rabbit Day!” We want to ” MARCH” into spring with a ” spring” in our steps!

” Rabbit! ” Rabbit!”
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A Dribble… A Drop… It Matters Not

Dear Reader:

In every series of detective/mystery novels I read ( my favorite genre) I have come to realize that the one important factor that draws me to them is a particular character who provides a certain kind of common sense wisdom …that makes me take time to digest the added knowledge to my own personal observations on life.

In Louise Penny’s novels… there is Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and in the Maisie Dobbs series, there is Maurice Blanche. In both cases… it is their natural instincts and superior human analytical skills that help solve cases. Both characters are morally elevated in their compassion while simultaneously gifted in their abilities to see through human smoke screens.

Seek the opportunity to swim beyond your own little pond. This is an example of the type of advice that is given to Maisie by Maurice while solving cases… new experiences expand our mental capacity for deeper understandings of human traits. We must leave our comfort zones to expand our own world. Life is short.

I am in so much gratitude to the people sent my way to keep pushing and shoving me out of my little pond, so I would understand that there was a beautiful lake waiting on me to dive in and learn my strokes along the way.

These days… one of the hardest news stories to watch is pictures and videos of the Great Salt Lake and other large bodies of water drying up before our very eyes.

According to geologists… the Great Salt Lake’s viability ( life span) will be gone in five years… disappearing forever.

Madeleine L’ Engle quotes a poignant metaphor written by Jean Rhys-( famous British novelist) about the same importance of keeping the art of writing viable -filled with thoughts and ideas from each and everyone of us whose love and passion to this art form…contributes to the conjecture that ” All Writing is a Lake.”

Rhys describes how some literary giants have been and still are great rivers feeding into the lake while others are mere trickles but the size or amount doesn’t matter… what matters is the daily steady, on-going contribution to keep feeding the lake. Individually we don’t matter ( but our thoughts and observations do) …the lake ( the art of writing) is what matters. We all must keep feeding the lake.

I remember years ago Rene Harris introduced me to a children’s book on water that held me in complete fascination ! It was the story of how one drop of water can change into so many different forms providing magic … notwithstanding just physical survival. Water drops, soap bubbles, snowflakes, icicles, dew, prisms, etc. Amazing magical water.

I still get excited every day as I listen and look for clues about a topic I want to share with my writing and reading friends. All of you!

I have decided my contribution to the ” lake” is not a drop… but a dribble. Still I faithfully send my ” dribble” in every single day to feed the ” lake” … so at the end I can , with good conscience, say ” The lake didn’t dry up on my watch.” There was another story still left to tell.

So until tomorrow… ” Knowledge is like an ever-flowing stream of water, and where you stop to drink from it, is where you become quenched.” The post is my fountain!

Today is my favorite day. Winnie the Pooh

Pinterest: Charleston-” Pretty in Pink”
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When Holding a Door… Holds a New Life

Dear Reader:

Some of you might have caught this three minute episode of ” On the Road” over the weekend …and if you did …you will never hold another door for someone without doing so. It will stay embedded in memory.

( Before starting this latest Steve Hartman story … have you ever wished like me that 1) I would love his job and 2) If we can clone animals, can’t we clone all the Steve Hartmans in the world… no doubt the world would be a better place for it!)

The story starts with a Cinderella ending that hides years of pain and abuse that precluded a moment of triumph. Lincoln East High School football star, Malachi Coleman announced he’ll be playing for the Nebraska Huskers… a dream come true and a catalyst to an amazing opportunity.

Twelve years earlier, Coleman’s mother left him and his younger sister, Nevaeh, by the side of the road and never returned. Coleman suffered abuse in foster care.

Eventually they were adopted together by an amazingly loving family, but there was so much damage to repair. ” He was a broken kid” says his dad, Craig Coleman and his mother, Miranda noticed that he ” only lived for today and nothing mattered in his life. ” By his own admission Malachi adds” I was a mean and selfish jerk who refused to do anything kind for anybody… after all nobody had really helped me… my trust was broken”

Everything changed when the Nebraska School Activities Association ruled that high school athletes could now profit off their name and likeness … it came as no surprise that Coleman was first in line … the real surprise was how he planned to spend it.

Coleman went to a favorite Mexican restaurant owner and offered to promote a burrito, on one condition… that a portion of the proceeds went to one cause – it had to go to the Foster Care system.

Nick Maestas, the owner, asked Hartman ” How do you not want to be on board with that? ”

Actually Coleman’s transformation had started a few years earlier after a long argument with his mother Miranda over his selfishness. She told Steve Hartman…” I threw out at least 100 ideas and finally completely exasperated, I said, ” What about holding a door … can you at least hold one door for one person? And finally he responded” I can hold a door.”

The next day at school he held a door for someone, then another and another and by Sunday he held the door for the entire congregation!

Now he says kindness has become his passion. It all began by holding one door for one person. ” Once I realized how good it makes me feel to help other people, it’s just something that I knew I wanted to continue.”

These days Malachi Coleman hopes to open many more important doors -the ones that lead to a ” forever” home for kids in foster care.

So until tomorrow… I don’t think Malachi is alone with his feelings concerning holding doors for strangers…it is that instant rush of gratification that fills us when we hold a door for someone. These days I feel like I have to fight for this privilege because with time ( and perhaps shrinkage) strangers want to hold doors for me… which is really nice but honestly… not as much as being the door holder. * Another observation from a ” maturing” point of view.

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh

My first white azalea!
I planted my moonflower seeds today and have to admit… it hurt after awhile being bent over for so long but I figure that memory will fade with the first bloom.
The beautiful pear blossoms are here!
Tears for Ukraine-Peace Doves
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…Give Peace a Chance

Dear Reader:

” Freedom is dearer than bread or joy” and when it comes to talking about the war in Ukraine … its flag colors explain it all. The blue symbolizes clear blue skies and yellow-its fields of grain. This beautiful combination has given Ukraine its nickname … the ” Bread Basket” of the world. But sadly… no longer.

Today the unprovoked war in Ukraine …initiated by the sheer greed of another ” mislead” dictator … has destroyed the bread basket for Ukraine and the world. The flag no longer depicts peaceful blue skies and bountiful grain but dark smoking clouds and destitute fields. Starvation can be found in every nook and corner

Give Peace a Chance

Friday night I kept the kids while John and Mandy got out together since John is going to be gone for about a week at a business meeting coming soon- When they got back they said they had a good time… except for parking. Many streets had been blocked with no parking signs.

I told them immediately what was going on… ( local news) Charleston was holding a vigil for the first anniversary of the commencement of the brutal attack on Ukraine. Mayor John Tecklenburg and several Holy City Faith Leaders were reassuring Ukraine and the crowd gathered in front of Charleston City Hall, that they have not forgotten this desperate fight for freedom and democracy. Charleston non-profits have donated more than 13 tons of supplies from the Lowcountry to date.

Blue and yellow lights on Charleston City Hall

As a preamble to the ceremony, St Michael’s bells tolled for 72 seconds … symbolizing 7,200 Ukrainian civilian deaths since Russia’s invasion. Unbelievably sad.

Last Thursday nine Ukrainian soldiers gave the mayor an Ukrainian Flag signed by each soldier.

So until tomorrow… as Mayor Tecklenburg said,” 365 days of defending freedom”… who knows how many more …but in the end the price of freedom is priceless.

Today is my favorite day -Winnie the Pooh

The Sky Wheel at Myrtle Beach-lit in blue and yellow lights for Ukraine’s fight for freedom!
Placing individual named flags for the civilians who have died since the war began!

Drop off Pepsi day for Ben as I watched his secret putting course… hitting golf balls with a wedge! Close to a real golf course!

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Are You Comfortable in Your Own Skin?

Dear Reader:

It dawned on me the other day, while watching a celebrity interview (on a talk show) that I hear the expression… ” Feeling comfortable in my own skin” quite frequently.

The celebrity will be saying something along the lines of ” I tried several different careers along the way until I realized one day I didn’t need to try to impress this director or producer anymore by imitating other acting styles… I just had to be me. It was only when I felt comfortable in my own skin” that my career and life fell into place. ” So true!

It is, also, only when we realize that everyone’s journey through life is unique and not to be compared against others… that we finally understand we are only competing against ourselves… pushing ourselves to be our best selves. We only need to seek our own approval… to think, be, and demonstrate to others… what makes us who we are.

One article I read called this the ” beautiful mess affect” … appropriately named. We must learn to love all our positive qualities and accept our weaknesses too by letting our vulnerability show. It is the vulnerability in the human race that attracts us to a deeper understanding of each other.

As I read this thought ( above) I decided to take a moment and reflect back on the time I remembered having a good laugh at myself. The day I grew up.

It was the summer before my senior year in high school. Senior pictures were being taken before school started officially …over a week period …to have them ready to be submitted to the yearbook.

For once in my life I was excited because secretly I had gone to Greenville to get my braces off right before my photo date. No one had seen me without my braces.

So some of my classmates’ parents planned a gathering at a popular ” Rec” Center to kick off our final year… we were bringing our ” proofs” from the pictures to share with friends and laugh and giggle over.

Even upon arrival… with us meeting and greeting at the end of the summer one initially mentioned my teeth. I was crestfallen… there we were all hugging and laughing but no one had noticed my braces were off.

The parents had put our senior proofs on a bulletin board and then suddenly I heard a fellow classmate say ” Like your picture Becky… is something different?” – and then finally a close friend who had been talking to me stopped and looked at the picture again and then at me… ” You got your braces off!”

For the rest of the evening an occasional classmate might mention my braces being gone… but what I had considered a momentous, life-altering moment in my life was lost in the realization that my classmates had only known me with braces when we moved to Laurens and had accepted me (over three years) for who I was and not my braces.

That night I pulled out my three earlier yearbooks …where I was always lip smiling… and started smiling to myself. I had learned an important lesson… ” Braces do not make the person… nor any other physical apparatus- you have to go deeper than that. It is the total essence of ourselves that others feel that matters. I took a big step in growing up that night.

So until tomorrow… It is a nice feeling getting to a point in life when we can see past a mirror reflection and accept ourselves… just as we are.

Today is my favorite day -Winnie the Pooh

Love my happy place… writing and looking out on nature in all its beauty
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Ask for Sight Before Signs

Dear Reader:

It took a little red cardinal named Sammy to teach me about signs …probably a decade ago. Some of you faithful readers remember my extreme agitation when I discovered that ( just not one but both of my front door rear-view mirrors) had been pecked so badly by the bird that they were off-kilter and scratched.

My neighbor Luke got the mirrors secured better… and cleaned the mirrors so the scratches weren’t so visually limiting … though still scratched.

My heart took a turn for Sammy when Patty Knight told me that when cardinals look in the mirror… they think it is another cardinal and males are territorial so they fight it-thus the scratches. But her cardinal ended up killing itself in the fight… it made her so sad when she found it by the car.

So I started parking in my second driveway and apparently a truce developed… over time Sammy would perch on the porch light fixtures and just watch me watering the plants. I purchased a bird feeder for him when I realized he and Mrs Sammy had a family in one of my large thick bushes by the side driveway.

When I added the side garden, years back, a red cardinal would fly over frequently and even as late as last year come to perch on the ledge by the window in my computer room … I have been typing and practically fallen out of my chair by a pecking noise on my screen right next to me.

And then from my first Christmas after meeting Sammy… oh… the red cardinal ” Sammy” gifts you readers have given me …they have multiplied like the fish and the loaves. I didn’t have time to pull out all my Christmas Tree Sammies but here is a couple of pictures.

Salt and pepper shakers, bowls, tree ornaments, napkins, glasses, cups… the list goes on and on… and bring back so many heartfelt memories !

Sammy indirectly helped the police catch the thief who stole my old green Saturn Vue… the car Sammy fought the rear-view mirrors in.

When a policeman called me late one Saturday night near midnight to go identify my car… they had caught the culprit. The teenager had already been handcuffed and taken in by the time we arrived-apparently there had been a chase through a subdivision ( very dangerous) … the car was running on habit because it was barely drive-able and the scent of drugs had me driving with my head outside the window. Insurance-wise it was totaled.

But there was some humor… the policeman told me the ” kid” kept bragging that he would have gotten away but he couldn’t see well enough outside the rear-view mirrors!

So until tomorrow… “God works in mysterious ways”… especially with little red cardinals! Thanks Sammy!

As the title car magnet ( that I have ordered ) says… ” Kindness Matters” … with all God’s creatures!

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh

New rug… clean table

Atticus bravely returned to the vet surgeon for removal of cancer cells around his cute little snout… skin cancer… all went well-Tommy said he was very brave on the way over… so they stopped and treated him to a McDonald hamburger after the procedure! Boo loves you Atticus!

Profiles in Courage
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