Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers: 1/14/22

1. A birthday greeting/art work from a buddy In Arizona.

2. Pretending that I have a clue about what to do with my new hand-me-down Apple Watch. I remember when a watch just told you the time.

3. The joy of simply waking up in the morning.

4. Chocolate on my fork.

5. Cornbread.

Especially when it’s made in my grandmother’s cast-iron skillet.

Weekend Joy to you all!

Posted in Encouragement, Throwback Thursday, Neal’s Post from the Past

Neal’s Post from the Past: “Top Ten Happiness Questions”

Here’s an old post from my blog back in 2014, when I was semi-retired, teaching as an adjunct at Savannah College of Art and Design. I recently looked at it as 2022 made its way into our lives. May these questions be an encouragement to you.

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This past fall term at SCAD (the Savannah College of Art and Design), where I teach composition to international students, my course topic was Happiness Studies.

Each week, I introduced a new question, which I told the students had the potential to make them happier–IF they took the time to ask and then answer the question.

Here are the ten questions.  I challenge you to ask them to yourself whenever you need a dose of joy.

Dr. Saye’s Top Ten Happiness Questions

1.  Just how important is it?

2.  Do I realize that I can choose to think a thought that feels better?

3.  Why do I sometimes try to control other people? That’s really not my job.

4.  What do I see RIGHT NOW that is beautiful?

5.  Who has helped me recently?

6.  What is a good holiday memory?

7.  What do I really, really love?

8.  Do I realize that I can take three deep breaths right now and center myself? My breath is my life.

9.  Who can I be a blessing to in the next hour or so? How can I do that? 

10.  Am I paying attention to NOW (and not wasting time regretting the past or worrying about the future)?

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I encourage you to print these questions, put them up some place where you can easily see them, and start asking.

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Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers 12/31/21

Seriously? 2021 is on its last breath?! Quickly then, here are Five Final Friday 2021 Happies.

1. Robert taking FOREVER to “set the stage” before taking pics of my second (what was I thinking?) fruitcake of the season.

2. Daughter Amy winning South Magazine’s Greatest Nurse Award 2021.

South Magazine — Winter Issue 2021-2022 — Just out!
Not that I’m proud or anything.

3. The sky.

“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now, from up and down and still somehow, it’s cloud illusions I recall, I really don’t know clouds at all.” But I do love them.

4. The lunch I “created” yesterday (from use-‘em-before-they-spoil leftovers) for Robert and me.

My vision had us sitting across from each other, looking lovingly into each other’s eyes, then casting our gaze downward to the edible art inhabiting the space between us.

Oops, now you know how many supplements/vitamins I take.

Smiling, we would have no need for dishes, for cutlery. And why would we?! We had our hands, our fingers, our hearts, our culinary freedom. As if we were dining in an authentic Indian restaurant, we would both be silently agreeing with award winning chef Srijith Gopinathan of San Francisco’s Campton Place: “There’s a reason people use their hands to eat. It’s because food is very, very personal.” I could see and hear Robert whispering (no longer in an Indian restaurant), “Bon appétit, mon amour,” as he fed me a finger of (two-day old, slightly brown but still delicious) genuine Mexican guacamole … from Whole Foods.

Doesn’t this look, not just pretty, but personal to you? And yes, I know the ham salad from Monday looks a little runny, but still.

Well, here’s basically the pre-lunch convo between Robert and me when he saw the table.

Him: “Wow.”

Me: (Not responding, except in silent joy, awaiting his next compliment.)

Him: “Uh, aren’t you going to put that ham salad in plates?”

Me: Sounding upbeat, perky, as if I were offering him an invitation to the Waldorf Astoria for their Waldorf Salad: “Ha, ha. No, silly! It’s a communal lunch, but just you and me, reaching and using our fingers.”

Him: “Oh, okay,” staring at a couple of mayonnaise-y green peas sliding off the “sorta charcuterie board.”

But believe it or not, after that slippery start, we had a great and fun, if not 100% fresh, lunch. And I relented with two (small) salad plates.

5. Getting through (sometimes sailing along beautifully, sometimes barely moving) yet another perfectly imperfect year.

Have a meaningful final day of 2021.

See you next year!

Posted in Countdown to Christmas

12/16/21 Countdown to Christmas: Our Travel Tree & Georgia State Parks

For this blog category, “Countdown to Christmas: Our Travel Tree & Georgia State Parks,” each day between December 1 and 25, I take a pic of a state park ornament on our Travel Tree and briefly highlight that park.

Providence Canyon State Park in southwest Georgia near Lumpkon is one of our state’s most visually stunning parks. And yet it’s here because of man’s misuse of the land! Often called Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon,” Providence Canyon “is a testament to the power of man’s influence on the land. Massive gullies as deep as 150 feet were caused simply by poor farming practices during the 1800s, yet today they make some of the prettiest photographs within the state.” (Park website). The geological formations caused by massive erosion are indeed extraordinary to behold.

Robert and I hiked the upper rim trail to start our visit.

Just crazy how close the path was to the canyon edges! I kept yelling at Robert, trying recklessly to snap the perfect photo, to “Get back! Are you crazy?!”

Down at the canyon floor, looking up, the colors were amazing, and the water table produced trickling streams we had to navigate.

For some reason (childhood issues?), Robert wanted to see how far he could back into a crevice in the canyon …

(Sometimes in a relationship, you just have to go with it.)

Man’s Botching Up.

Nature’s Boundless Beauty.

If you’re interested here’s a short article with more about Providence Canyon…

https://lakesidenews.com/2021/05/bad-farming-created-magnificent-beauty-at-providence-canyon-state-park/

Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers

1. Robert’s hasselback potatoes the other night. Yum!

2. Always having enough water. And being aware of always having enough water.

3. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s holiday concert, Christmas with the ASO last night.

The orchestra warming up. I had no idea at this moment about our big surprise honor just ahead.

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Choir, the incredible Morehouse Glee Club and the Gwinnett Young Singers joined the Orchestra to get us all in the holiday mood. Beethoven, Bach, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky mixing it up with contemporary composers. And “Hallelujah!” special thanks to Handel.

But that’s not all, Blog Fans, I have some Very Exciting News to share with you about last night. News which, if I know you like I think I know you, will make you even prouder of me than you already are. Are you ready? Maybe you should sit down.

Robert and I were SPECIFICALLY INVITED to sing “The First Nowell” (their spelling, not mine) and to be backed up by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra! Seriously. Little us from Savannah. Can you imagine how thrilled I was the moment I realized that Robert and I were being asked to sing?!

[I’ll pause and give you a couple of minutes to try.]

I’ve always thought I had a terrible, adequate, good, stellar voice, but I was just so very humbled yet honored to be asked. I am so glad I wore a sports coat and put a little Suave Professionals Styling Gel in my hair. I tell you my my knees were shaking when we stood up to walk up to the stage and sing. And the performance was, in my unbiased view, nothing short of festively spectacular.

P. S. Robert is insisting that I include this minor and inconsequential (if you ask me) “fact” (according to his definition) from the above concert program …

Well, “we” did get an invitation.

4. Visiting Callanwolde Fine Arts Center in Atlanta. The Gothic-Tudor style mansion was built by Coca-Cola president/zillionaire Charles Howard Candler in the 1920’s as a private home. Each Christmas they have a neat beautifully decorated Christmas extravaganza.

Do you see what I saw on the holiday garland to the left of Robert? Pine cones (HUGE) from my favorite tree, the Longleaf Pine!

I could … bearly contain myself with excitement!

5. Hope and expectation.

A Weekend of Wonder to You!

Posted in My Saturday Evening Post

My Saturday Evening Post: “Bless Us All”

Each December, Robert and I LOVE watching the old animated holiday classics, reminiscing of yesteryear. Last night we pulled out The Muppet Christmas Carol.

My capital “F” Favorite song in the movie is “Bless Us All,” sung by poor, sickly little Robin/Tiny Tim and the rest of the Cratchit crew. It always gets me choked up (until I realize that, as a “grown man,” I am crying over an anthropomorphic, singing, cloth-born frog puppet).

“Bless Us All” is actually a beautiful, prayerful meditation, expressing both gratitude for all we have (the sun, family, each other, etc) as well as supplication for greater good outside of our individual little worlds.

I invite you to take a couple of minutes out of your Saturday for a quick listen …

Muppet Truths …

“No place on earth compares with home.” (Of course, “home” can have various definitions for us.)

“We have so much that we can share with those in need we see around us everywhere.”

“Let us hear the voice of reason singing in the night.” (Oh my goodness, yes.)

The full lyrics …

BLESS US ALL!