Posted in Encouragement

A Label-Free World (for 2018)

Hello out there.  I did this blog post quite a while ago, but thought in today’s adversarial political and cultural environment, it might be relevant.  We (okay, I!) judge others much too quickly.

Let’s try, in this new year with relatively few mistakes in it so far, to give each other the benefit of the doubt, to refuse to label somebody or some thing based on initial interactions or our preconceived notions.

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What an incredible truth!  (And, oh gosh, how it indicts me.)

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I LOVE this short video about labeling:

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2018: A Label-Free Year (at least for you and me).

Posted in Holiday Joy

HH – Holiday Happiness

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It’s Sunday night.  December 28.  Three days after the big day.  Christmas gifts and meals are opened and eaten.

Just a few more days left in 2014.

Sometimes there’s a bit of a letdown after the glitter is gone.

So … what is there to be Happy About?  Especially if you’re alone?  Or sick?  Or frustrated?  Or angry?  Or not where you wanna be?

To be honest, I don’t know.

BUT I encourage you to do this:  Go on a Gratitude Rampage.  Start listing — or just thinking about — what you have to be grateful for as 2014 wanes.

Go ahead — try it.  Make a list.

Here’s a tad of mine:

1.  Air to breathe.

2. Legs that help me to walk.

3.  Imperfect family members.

4.  A mind that allows me to think.

5.  Shoes.

6.  Eyesight.

7.  Collard greens (I just sautéed some for dinner).

8.  Music.

9.  Sunshine.

10.  Cinnamon.

11.  Grandchildren.

12.  People who know my name.

13.  Insurance.

14.  Roaring laughter.

15.  Pecans.

This list could go on and on.

May peace, joy and love be your portion now and forever!

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Gratitude is powerful.  Try it and see how it makes you feel.

Posted in Where Happiness Finds You

This Road

Each Monday morning, my former colleague Eric Nelson up the road at Georgia Southern University posts a poem on the departmental listserv.  I love today’s.  It feels a little “The Road Not Taken”-ish but with a twist of its own.

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What If This Road

— by Sheenagh Pugh

What if this road, that has held no surprises

these many years, decided not to go

home after all; what if it could turn

left or right with no more ado

than a kite-tail? What if its tarry skin

were like a long, supple bolt of cloth,

that is shaken and rolled out, and takes

a new shape from the contours beneath?

And if it chose to lay itself down

in a new way; around a blind corner,

across hills you must climb without knowing

what’s on the other side; who would not hanker

to be going, at all risks? Who wants to know

a story’s end, or where a road will go?

— from What If This Road and Other Poems (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 2003)

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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 Holiday Joy, The Joy and Wisdom of Children

Gratitude Turkey

I picked up Grandson Daniel (5) from school yesterday, and, hopping into his back seat, he excitedly showed me his just-completed Turkey Basket (well, that’s what he called it anyway).  As I soon learned, the turkey project was two-fold: first the cute little construction paper turkey itself.  But as you can see in the pictures below, the front housed a nifty envelope (basket?) which held little gratitude or thanksgiving cards.  For each note, Daniel and his classmates completed the statement “I am thankful for ____ because …” for their family members.

What a joy!  Little ones expressing their thankfulness so sincerely.  Below Daniel explains to me that his plan for Thanksgiving Day consists of waiting till “all the guests” have eaten “some of their turkey” and then “hand out the slips.”  And he did just that–for all fourteen of the folks at the table.  His mom helped him with some of the spelling, but the sentiments were exclusively his.

Here’s mine:

“I am thankful for Abu (that’s me) because he helps with decorations.”

(Okay, maybe that sounds a bit strange, but the day before, we had decorated for Thanksgiving with some outdoor lights.  And a month earlier we had carved two jack o’ lanterns.)

What Thanksgiving Joy!  We really all do have so very much to put in our Turkey Baskets.

[For more on “Abu” see “My Favorite Word Is Abu!” post.]

Posted in Humor

The Revelation of Riboclavin (And a Dog Stealing Cabbage) (You Know You Have to Read This Post)

As faithful blog followers know, I have a buddy “named” Riboclavin who is quite a character.  (And of course we all know his name isn’t REALLY Riboclavin, come on, but as I said in a post from way back, “I’m just not very good at giving people fake names if they don’t want their real names ‘published’ on my blog because, heaven forbid, the ‘tens’ of people who follow my blog might see their name and … and … idk.”)  Anyway, here he is, rocking.  And even though that dualistic rocking chair looks über huge, Riboclavin looks comfortable and relaxed.  And, really,  isn’t that what counts?

[By the way (true story), on my 16th birthday, I received a rocking chair from my parents as my main gift.]  [Therapy has helped.  But only so much.]

Ribo loves two things in life (maybe more than two, but right now only these couple come to mind).  One, he LOVES his dog MisterDillHarris.

Here’s MisterDillHarris with a big ole bone:

Two, he LOVES (or maybe hates, I’m not sure) his obsession with health, or actually his perceived lack of health.  The guy can be standing in line at the movies to see, for example, Miley Cyrus in The Last Song, and all of a sudden he HAS to take his temperature.  Don’t believe me?  Well, here he is taking his temp.

And, look, here he is taking his dog’s temperature:

(For me, pretend this is normal.  Thanks.)

So anyway, recently Riboclavin texted me a video link, and as usual, made NO attempt to introduce or explain the link.  You can surely understand by now my trepidation and why I came two hairs close to deleting the text and pretending I never received it (as I do with any unwanted or ill-timed text, email, voicemail, regular mail, fax, postcard, Hallmark card, smoke signal, etc.).  Afterall, his most recent link took me to a medical site where a disgusting surgical procedure was in full “operation,” causing me to gasp and snort and vow to never speak to Riboclavin again.  But for some reason I decided, even with the high risk,  to open the link.  And I was pleasantly surprised!  (If you’re near wood, please knock on it for me.)

Here’s the video, entitled “Dog Steals Cabbage.”

Now isn’t that cute … and happiness-worthy?  Please tell Riboclavin thanks, and wish him good health.

Posted in Joy in Nature, Savannah Joy

Welcome to My Backyard, the Alley of the Angels

Welcome to the alley of the angels

Hey, they say your eyes can gleam

When you can a just tell the truth all night

(And you can chase them dreams all night)

Welcome to the alley of the angels.

 — John Cougar Mellencamp

Places–I love the poetic resonance of that word. Some places are special; you had them growing up, of course you did. And do now. Magical places. Special because of their cocoonishness, or their broad openness. Their smell, or their connection to friends or family. Their lightness, or darkness. Their safety, or risk.

So I was aghast a few years back when I attended a writing conference at the Sea Turtle Inn in Atlantic Beach, FL, and one afternoon decided to skip the meetings and drive down memory lane. I headed south to Jacksonville Beach to find the motel where my family and I vacationed from about the time I was six or seven till I went away to college. It had those wonderful beds where you inserted a quarter into the headboard, and the mattress vibrated! For fifteen minutes! My mother, father and brothers would all hop on. Who needed the Ritz?

I knew exactly where the Horseshoe Motel stood. I had been there SO many times as a kid. But I started to doubt myself when I passed the lifeguard station and came to the ridiculously sharp turn in the road far beyond my memory motel location. I can be dense, so it took me at least three to-and-fro trips before I realized (admitted?) that the place had been demolished for a condo. Sad. A childhood place gone for good.

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I live in beautiful downtown Savannah, smack-dab in the middle of the nation’s largest historic district, to be exact. I can hear the huge freighters blowing their bass notes at night …

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… as well as the clatter of horseshoes as carriages tour past Colonial Park Cemetery across the street.

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I love walking the Savannah streets, breathing history.

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I don’t really have a backyard, in the traditional sense of the word. But, boy, do I have a backyard! It’s really a small alley, which runs behind the building where I live.

Even though it is communal, and somewhat small, there are hidden crannies where one can sit and read, or laptop, or daydream. It exudes a trace of otherwordliness, a fragrance of excursion. I step into my “backyard,” and suddenly I’m in Europe–Florence, Italy perhaps, trying to decide on which trattoria to frequent. I sit to read in its botanical wealth and am lost, not just in the book’s maze, but in the place, the green, the leafyness, the nowness of nature.

This place calls me to look up, to pause and see.

To view from unfamiliar perspectives and angles.

A tremendous perk of having place appreciation is that windows appear, and open (or shut), and allow you to see just what you desire to see. Or simply, and deliciously, to dream.

There’s power in place.

Both growth and potential growth. Both static and kinetic.

Sometimes sitting is all that’s needed in life. To embrace “is-ness,” accept “am-ness.” Breathing in, breathing out.

A sense and celebration of place, our place, they gift us with calm assurance that we are where we are, for good reason. That rhythm and movement take us (or keep us) where we need to be.

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My backyard invites me to …

And such encouragement affirms the heart of this attempt at blogging.

Posted in College Teaching

Final Little Hallway Walk and GSU Retirementville

Office 2225B on the second floor of the Newton Building on the campus of Georgia Southern University.  A second home.  For a long time.

But my office is cleared out now, books all boxed and removed.  Quieter than it has been in eons.  Computer-humming quiet.  My office phone suddenly shy, afraid to ring and disturb emptiness.

I’m retiring from full-time college teaching.

This evening, after my last set of finals is turned in, I will walk out my door and down my little hallway for the final time as a professor at GSU.

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The Walk.

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Goodbye, goodbye little hallway!  Goodbye, goodbye GSU!

Hello, hello ….