Exploring and Encouraging a Healthy Life Marked with Joy

Posts tagged ‘gratitude’

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Come To My New Blog: “Oh Saye, Can You See?”

“Never Enough and Prisca Theologia”:  A Preview of What You Will See

In his latest incredibly insightful book, Ageless Soul: The Lifelong Journey Toward Meaning and Joy, former monk, bestselling psychotherapist and cutting-edge modern spirituality guru Thomas Moore posits that we need to (we must!) celebrate and embrace those who have paved the road before us.

Moore explains that, “Centuries ago artists and writers had a practice of honoring a certain historical line of figures who shaped them.  They referred to their own list of inspirers and muses as ‘prisca theologia’–a spiritual lineage.”  We all have this gift from the past and present, don’t we?  Folks who contribute to our lives, our growth, our thinking, our mental and physical development, our essence.  Life benefactors.

Everybody has such a developmental legacy, a set of contributors, not perfect (or anywhere near perfection, of course) but THERE, one way or another, in our humanly sacred DNA.

My life, for example, has been/still is lifted up by a plethora of men and women who gave and continue to give me breath to live–my personal prisca theologia, my spiritual legacy.

Great-grandfather J. P. Saye was my North Georgia hometown Ball Ground’s first doctor.

I grew up with stories about his brand of doctoring.  In 1963 the University of Georgia Press published a slice-of-life portrait of turn-of-the century small town Southern Americana, Yesterday in the Hills, by father/son historians and co-authors Floyd and Charles Watkins.  One chapter features Dr. Saye, illustrating a sample of what life was like for a country doctor who was often paid with chickens and pigs.  Consider Dr. Saye’s obstetrics work, for example:

“Once Dr. Saye was delivering a baby in Andy Cockriel’s home in Lawson Town.  Andy said, ‘You keep your hands off my wife.  She’s mine and you nor nairy other man ain’t gonna tech her.’  Doc snapped his old black bag, rose, and countered, ‘You deliver the damn baby yourself then,” and walked out the door.  Andy had to change his mind fast and beg hard before Doc Saye would return and deliver the baby.”

One of the odder pieces of family history involves my great-grandfather’s house in Ball Ground.  Dr. Saye’s first wife Angie spent months at a time at Georgia’s state mental asylum in Milledgeville.  During one particularly long stay, “Doc’s home burned, and he hired carpenters to build another house exactly like the first one so that she would not be disturbed when she came home” (Watkins and Watkins).  Family stories suggest that great-great grandmother Angie never realized her first house had burned.

I urge you to revel in the quirkiness of your own family lore.  According to Thomas Moore, “odd” simply means you have more soul in your family dynamics.  (I possess an abundance of soul.)  Yesterday in the Hills:  “Another oddity is that no one ever knew Doc Saye’s age.  How old he was remained his secret until the end, and no dates were placed on his tombstone or those of his two wives who died before him.”  My great, great grandfather and I are definitely kindred spirits.

My fifth grade teacher Mrs. Ligdon gifted me with the lifelong joy of reading.  We had oral reading every afternoon, either she reading to us (often, classic novels far above our grade level) or the students taking turns.  I remember trying to hide my eyes in class when she read the sadder parts of Dicken’s Oliver Twist.  (Seriously, Oliver was hungry–he needed more gruel.)

I could write about neighbors, teachers, friends, pastors and favorite authors who have all left their imprint on me.  Where would I be if I hadn’t, in junior high, stumbled upon Chaim Potok’s The Chosen (reread time and again) and learned that books not only entertain but impact our lives.  This coming-of-age novel showed me the enduring significance of both friendship and fatherhood.  Much of my personal legacy can be found within the pages of books.

Today my big non-traditional family is at the heart of my spiritual legacy.

My former wife Donna taught me the meaning of enduring family love, and sticking with it, supporting it.  My younger daughter Emily taught me to love gymnastics and to joyfully affirm the okay-ness of jumping up and down, twirling and spinning in life.  My older daughter Amy taught me the appropriateness of meandering through the complexities of life and relationships.  My grandchildren are continuing to teach me the joy of childish enthusiasm.  And Robert continues to teach me the freedom and day-to-day reality of love.

The most longstanding force in my prisca theologia is my elderly dad up in North Georgia.  Harold Hulon Saye Sr., my father, is …

He’ll be 95 in November, in the last season of his life.  (Unlike Old Doc Saye–and me–he isn’t hesitant to reveal his age.)

Along with my late mother, my father taught me some of (most of?) my greatest life lessons, none more profound than this one I heard in various iterations over the years: “Neal, treat everybody you come in contact with as if they are the most important person in the world.  Because when they are with you, they are.”  My dad personifies that ambitious life strategy.

Who are the members of your own spiritual legacy, the people who made you who you are today?  The models who helped you dream and even believe you could fly?  Maybe take a few minutes and jot down a quick list.  Can we ever thank them enough?  I don’t think it’s possible.

Consider these lines from the gorgeous ballad, “Never Enough,” featured in the recent musical movie The Greatest Showman:  “You set off a dream with me.  Without you, all the shine of a thousand spotlights, all the stars we steal from the nightsky will never be enough for me.”  I agree: without our “contributors,” we would not be us.

If you have a moment, take a listen:

“Towers of gold are still too little, these hands could hold the world, but it’ll never be enough for me … without you.”

In gratitude for life benefactors, Neal.

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Neal (EnJoy) Saye

Grateful for the Cry of Reason

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I love it when a voice of compassion, strength and reason is heard so clearly.  You may already have seen this, but here’s South Carolina State Representative Jenny Horne of Dorchester County as she delivered an impassioned speech last night after sitting through hours of attempts to avoid a clean bill taking down the Confederate Rebel Flag from the SC capitol grounds.

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Thank you, Representative Horne.

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“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  … A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”

Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 4

A Most Awesome Father’s Day & Night!

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I hope your Father’s Day (and night) 2015 has been a peaceful and joyful one.  Mine was/is.  Spent time with both daughters and all four grandies.  What a blessing to have them all in my Savannah.  My cards:

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And an incredible Facebook post by older daughter Amy:

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“Happy Father’s Day to my very hip and high impact dad!  I am blessed to have a dad who taught me to love without discrimination, to have joy in all circumstances, and who creates an environment of safety and acceptance where I am free to develop into my best and truest self.”

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What a Difficult and Unparalleled Joy Fatherhood is!

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Five Friday Happy Bringers — 6/19/15

In spite of this …

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… I’ve had a Great Week here in The Savannah!

I hope you have too (wherever you are).

[P.S.  Sometimes having a Great Week is simply a matter of looking for the Greatness in the Week.]

1.  Fruits and vegetables.

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(The yellowish thingies are young turnips.  Yum.)

2.  Deciding that to embrace the Truly Hip Person I am, I need New, Cool Socks.

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3.  Going to 1964, the (early) Beatles tribute show at the Lucas here in Savannah (a two-minute walk from my place), and getting a tad weepy when they sang, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”

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4.  Buying a new bed for “grand-dog” Spyro:

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5.  Hooting at grandson Daniel’s outfit for Nerd Day at the Savannah Children’s Theatre Camp.

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Have a Terrific Weekend.  I Wanna Hold Your Happiness.

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Five Friday Happy Bringers — 5/8/15

I love the month of May.  There’s something hopeful, potential, expectant about its very name, “May.”

And here come a few more of my Joy Causers this week:

1.  Granddog Spyro.

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2.  The difficult (for me) but truthful freedom of this declaration:

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3.  Incredible sand art outside one of the classroom buildings at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design).

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This is a collaborative class project called “The Art of the Spectacle.”

4.  Loving every moment of Grandson Daniel’s performance in the Savannah Children’s Theatre Dance Program Recital, “Dance Around the World” last weekend.

Can you see D in the lower right hand side of the dance teacher’s selfie?

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(Shouldn’t that really be called an “usie” or a “themsie”?)

5.  Coffee and beignets at Huey’s on River Street this morning.

Okay, I LOVE New Orleans, but our beignets here in Savannah are fritters better than theirs at Café du Monde.

YOU SIMPLY MUST KEEP READING BECAUSE I HAVE A FEW MORE THAN MY USUAL FIVE HAPPY BRINGERS.

6.  Enjoying the simple beauty of the community Trustees Vegetable Garden (across from my place on East Broad Street here in Savannah).

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7.  Daughter Amy’s birthday celebration (with a lil help from grandson Gabriel).

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8.  Robert’s homemade (first time ever) egg rolls.

Yum!

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9.  Rejoicing in the incredible ability to breathe deeply.

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MAY you have many reasons to smile this Mother’s Day weekend!

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Five Friday Happy Bringers — 4/10/15

“An April Weekend.”  Doesn’t that sound wonderful?  (Although a bit like a Harlequin Romance novel.)

Here are five causers (is that a word?) of my present joy.

1.  A couple more examples of neighborhood nature joy near me in historic district Savannah:

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2.  An incredible Easter.  Here are my four grandies–Twin Madison, Gabriel, Twin Matthew and Daniel.

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More random Easter 2015 pics:

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(Unhappy and Happy)

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3.  Easter afternoon, after church and food stuffing, seeing beautiful deer in daughter Amy’s backyard on Skidaway Island.

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4.  Later, my Easter tradition with Robert of having late Easter evening dessert at a nice restaurant/lounge (The Mansion in Savannah).

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5.  The ability to find good.

A joyful April weekend to you all!

 

Five Friday Happy Bringers — 3/ 27/15

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It’s the LAST Friday in March.  Really!  Here are a few reasons I’m hunkering down with Happiness.  What about you?  Tell me!

1.  Enjoying a short visit with my parents up in Ball Ground (North Georgia) this week.  Dad’s 91, mom’s 87.  This September they will have been married 71 years!

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2.  Going down to Jacksonville’s Times-Union Center to see a theatrical production of I Love Lucy.

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Such fun!

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3.  Speaking of plays, watching grandson Gabriel in The Three Piggy Opera at Savannah Country Day School this morning.

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4.  Relishing the eerie beauty of Amelia Island fog last weekend.

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5.  Embracing the necessity and obligation of throwing away/letting go from time to time.

Small Boy

He picked up a pebble and threw it into the sea.

And another, and another. He couldn’t stop.

He wasn’t trying to fill the sea. He wasn’t trying to empty the beach.

He was just throwing away, nothing else but.

Like a kitten playing he was practicing for the future

When there’ll be so many things he’ll want to throw away

If only his fingers will unclench and let them go.

— from The Poems of Norman MacCaig (Birlinn, 2009)

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But don’t throw away your joy this weekend!

 

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