Posted in The Joy and Wisdom of Children

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I have FOUR grandchildren.  (Yes, you’re right, I’m FAR too young.  We all know that.  It’s a given.  But sometimes Mother Nature has a way of bypassing her laws of when people should have grandchildren–and presents them in, well, early, early middle age.)

Anyway, the second-from-the-oldest-grandchild is Gabriel, 5, a rambunctious bundle of pure little boy-ness.  He’s often affectionately referred to simply as “G.”  In his most recent pre-K school report, the patient-as-a-saint and give-her-a-raise teacher wrote that Gabriel is “smart, funny, with many friends … and has a touch of naughtiness.”

Here’s G (on the far right) with a few school buddies,

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And here he is the other night with older brother Daniel (8).

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Today I received this text from my daughter/G mom Amy:

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The brutal honesty of children.

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Posted in Encouragement

Top Ten Happiness Questions

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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 out, put them up some place where you can easily see them, and start asking.

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Posted in Holiday Joy

Have You Counted Your Holiday Blessings? (Part Two)

A couple of days ago I encouraged you to consider, and attend to, the blessings that are in your life.  I hope you have taken a brief break from the Christmas rush, and done so.

Here’s my Counting Continued:

6.  Sitting Down and Sitting Still for a few minutes.

7.  A Christmas Visit with my parents (father–91, mother 87).

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8.  Sparkly Lights.

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9.  Appreciating my local Savannah Police.  Our police men and women are the first folks we usually call when something goes awry in our homes, neighborhoods and cities.

THANK YOU, BLUE!

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10.  The ability to see.

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Are you counting your holiday blessings?

Posted in Encouragement, Holiday Joy

Have You Counted Your Holiday Blessings? (Part One)

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Have you done so this holiday?  Blessings come in SO many forms and dressings.  I urge you to take a sheet of paper and number your joys.  Here is a sampling of mine:

1.  I had to miss my seven year-old grandson Daniel’s first piano recital earlier this week.  (I was SO frustrated.)  Tonight at my family’s early Christmas dinner, I walked in the door and daughter Amy had arranged for Daniel to dress back up in his Calvin Klein suit and play Jingle Bells (as he did at the recital).  It melted my heart.

 

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(Okay, I’m not sure about the sunglasses either.)

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(Absolute grandfather joy.)

Here’s Daniel at the actual recital:

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2.  The ability to smell Christmas.

3.  Enjoying the power of silly.

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4.  Hosting a Holiday and Hot Toddy Chili Party Saturday night.

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What fun!

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Good buddies Ellie, Jamie and Brennan.

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I read “A Cup of Christmas Tea” to the twenty-something guests–and asked them to think about a person important in their upbringing to toast at the end of the story.  I urge you to do the same.  Who encouraged you along your way?

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“Let’s raise a cup of Christmas cheer, to family and loved ones far and near.”

So take a few moments, and with Bing, count your blessings:

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5.  Tree shadows on a wall during a walk the other night.

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What are a few of your Holiday Blessings?  Come on, share a few.

Posted in College Teaching

The Smile — and Happiness Shared

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The students in my English 123 (Freshman Composition) classes at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) are doing what I call Visual Essays in this, their next-to-the-last week of Fall Quarter 2014.  We read two books this term, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and Tal Ben-Shahar’s Happier, both relating to our course theme of “Happiness and the Exploration of Joy.”  The Visual Essay project invites the students to MAKE, rather than write, their papers. Traditional essay requirements are still required: a focus and thesis, structure, detail and support, etc.  But this essay morphs into a drawing or painting, a sculpture, a collage, a video, a food, etc.  Basically this project is a visual representation of one topic narrowed into a clear thesis/perspective/idea.  The challenge: how to “show” their thesis.

Debora Jacob (from Brazil) went to Forsyth Park here in Savannah last Saturday.  Here’s her Visual Essay titled “Happiness Shared” on the topic of the smile and its significance.

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Thanks for the encouragement, Debora.

Let’s all SMILE more often.

Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers (10/31/14)

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It’s All Hallow’s Eve!  (Wasn’t it just July 4th last week?)  And I am spookily happy.  Seriously.  Here’s why.

1.  Yesterday going to my grandtwins’ nursery school and carving a Jack O’ Lantern.  Here it is:

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Okay, that’s a lie.  I took that pic near my place in historic district Savannah.  Here’s the one I did:

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Sorry but that’s a lie as well.  (Is that a bat?)  Here’s mine:

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For more decades than I care to mention, my Jack O’Lanterns have looked EXACTLY the same.  But what fun with Matthew and Madison and their little classmates.

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2.  Speaking of pumpkins, here’s my dinner Wednesday night–Butternut Squash Soup in Pumpkin Bowls.

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Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Gourmet heaven.

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3.  The Savannah Film Festival this week, hosted by my SCAD–Savannah College of Art and Design.

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Such fun.

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What incredible films I saw, including a fascinating documentary about Summerville, GA artist Americana Howard Finster and a mesmerizing selection of short films from Ireland.

4.  Singing with James Brown in Augusts, GA.

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We’re belting out “Papa’s Got a Brand new Bag,” followed by “Make it Funky.”

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5.  The joy of holidays.

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Happy, Happy Halloween to you all!

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Posted in Joy in Nature, The Joy of Color

Merry Autumn

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Fall is most definitely my favorite season of the year.  Even with its touch of “summer’s over” melancholy, autumn slowly paints the world with warmly joyful colors, smells and scenes.  The season makes me feel energized and ready to start anew (maybe partly because I’m an educator and connect fall to the new school year).

Autumn wants to make us pause and smile.

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Here’s a terrific poem, by late 19th century poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, which shows fall’s happy face.  Read it out loud to feel, as well as see and hear, the words.

Merry Autumn

It’s all a farce,—these tales they tell
About the breezes sighing,
And moans astir o’er field and dell,
Because the year is dying.

Such principles are most absurd,—
I care not who first taught ‘em;
There’s nothing known to beast or bird
To make a solemn autumn.

In solemn times, when grief holds sway
With countenance distressing,
You’ll note the more of black and gray
Will then be used in dressing.

Now purple tints are all around;
The sky is blue and mellow;
And e’en the grasses turn the ground
From modest green to yellow.

The seed burs all with laughter crack
On featherweed and jimson;
And leaves that should be dressed in black
Are all decked out in crimson.

A butterfly goes winging by;
A singing bird comes after;
And Nature, all from earth to sky,
Is bubbling o’er with laughter.

The ripples wimple on the rills,
Like sparkling little lasses;
The sunlight runs along the hills,
And laughs among the grasses.

The earth is just so full of fun
It really can’t contain it;
And streams of mirth so freely run
The heavens seem to rain it.

Don’t talk to me of solemn days
In autumn’s time of splendor,
Because the sun shows fewer rays,
And these grow slant and slender.

Why, it’s the climax of the year,—
The highest time of living!—
Till naturally its bursting cheer
Just melts into thanksgiving.

— by Paul Laurence Dunbar

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Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers — 9/19/14

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You know, if you really think about it, we have So Much to be thankful for.  (Btw, even though I’m an English prof, I’ve decided it’s okay to end a sentence with a preposition.)

Here’s my short list this week:

1.  Hosting a small gathering to celebrate my parents’ 70th (yes, 70th!) wedding anniversary.

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Harold Hulon (Tub) Saye and Geneva Mae Reavis were married on September 12, 1944.

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Cousin Jennie (below) helped me host the party at my parents’ little house (which, by the way, my father built himself).

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2.  Sleep.

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(Grandson Gabriel)

3.  Celebrating International Talk Like a Pirate Day today, Sept. 19.

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4.  Starting a new term at SCAD this week with fifty wonderful students from all over the world.

5.  Hearing this quote today at SCAD’s fall quarter Faculty Conference:  “Don’t just Talk about it–Be about it.”

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Be Happy This Last Weekend of Summer 2014!

Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers — 9/11/14

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Summer is slipping away.  Can you believe that Sept 22 is the First Day of Fall?!  Would someone please tell Savannah’s daily temperatures that bit of info?

1.  Even though it caused a catch in my throat, seeing the pics my daughter Emily sent of the grandtwins yesterday morning — September 11.

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2.  Actually borrowing an egg from my next door neighbor.  (Is it okay to still do that?)

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(Of course she put the egg in a cute tiny bowl she found in Italy.)

I paid Vivian back with some Werther’s Originals–Chewy Caramels in the same bowl.  (Is that normal?)

3.  This green lion who (which?) lives nearby in Savannah’s historic district.

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4.  Taking four-year-old grandson Gabriel to his first-ever tennis lesson.

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Looking back at me, “Abu,” to make sure I’m watching.

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5.  And speaking of Gabriel, when I picked him and brother Daniel (7) up from school yesterday, G told us that he made a BIG picture of Batman in pre-K art class.  When we got to his house, of course we hung it in the dining room.

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After a few minutes, big brother Daniel, after pointing out that Gabriel had spelled Batman with an M (Matman), said to me, “Matman sure looks like a monkey to me.”

Gabriel screamed, “IT’S BATMAN!”

Happy Friday Folks!