The In-Between

I am so thankful for the beauty of this morning. A light rain falling from a hazy sky. I notice new blooms in the garden that weren’t there yesterday. I grab the Canon and head out into the drizzle, magic awaits me in every color and sound. It’s coming to the end of our Painted Bunting season. This weekend we will turn the clocks ahead and before you know it this time will be a blur of a turned calendar page. Just about when I start to feel bad about saying farewell until fall to the beautiful birds that winter here, I am distracted by the “beep-beep” of the Great crested flycatcher. Now there’s one I haven't heard for a while! Then my husband draws my attention to a huge momma bunny sitting in front of the little shed, while a small young bunny hops nearby. And so I dub this the “in between” time. Some things are ending, and something elseis not yet fully there. My life is mirrored in this garden, this wonderland of beauty that I cannot entirely understand. A moment of sadness in a goodbye suddenly overshadowed by the miracle of something new on the horizon. A fresh batch of bunnies under our shed and nests being constructed in the birdie-condo. I quoted a verse to my daughter the other day..”*From Glory to Glory…” ancient wisdom but always relevant. Things are constantly changing and if we flow with it, we are changed from one phase of being to another, hopefully wiser, glory. 

"Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these." 

"Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these." 

I find myself in the “in-between”. The place of where do I go from here, and whats next? I seemed to have detoured a bit a while back. Lost my bread crumbs on the path. Some necessary detours taken in finding a lost girl who was keeping secrets of terrors from long ago.

I found her there where the bread crumbs faded. Still hiding in the pines, the softness of the white sand and pine needles, the aroma of childhood. She was waiting to be found, to purge her story, to move on to her next glory. 

But what happens to the sack of secrets once they are told? When it is time for the season in the garden of reflection to move on to the next? The birds do not carry a sack from one season to the next. When it is time to fly, they fly! No time for being stuck in the in-between, for them there is no in-between, just on to the next! And I am reminded to:

"Consider the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap; and how much more valuable you are than the birds"

Think of the birds, of the lilies, of a Higher Power greater than all of this. Greater than our losses, our disappointments, greater than our past.

More magnificent than the beauty of this earth, is the One who tells the Painted Buntings when to fly, and the Lilies when to open, who finds lost girls in the woods and sets them back on their path. On to finding their way to their next glory.

And all at once, the haze burns off and the garden flowers are illuminated by tiny droplets reflecting the sun. A hummingbird comes to have a sip just a few feet from where I sit, telling me that it is time to fill the little red feeder. Gratefulness fills me for all of the beauty of this life, the creatures of this small garden and the One who leaves the breadcrumbs so we can find our way home.

*II Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.

 

         

Morning Offering

Morning coffee with my pup on our balcony

Even on this asphalt plain we find reverie

Across the tops of the four wheeled beasts there among some trees

Our feathered friends glide and dance upon the breeze

 

 

A Hummingbird bejeweled in emeralds

came right up to visit me

His beauty a wonder to behold

 a miracle to see

I feel as though my heart might burst, so overwhelmed am I

that even in this concrete place, your wonders I can find 

There's beauty enough to fill my cup

Overflowing my heart will always be

If I just stop to take a breath and give thanks for all I see.

*morning offering of words and photos my own

In the sanctuary

Hello Susan...

Hello Susan...

I took a walk with God today, in his sanctuary

Strolling along the forest floor, cool and dark in shadows

Leaves rustle and cicada's trill, breaking the silent reverie

I took a seat beside the creek, a mirror of the leaves 

 

Two woodpeckers flit from branch to branch above,

Mother to young, calling out, it's flying lesson day.

I had a talk with God today, about the beauty of this life

So many wonders to behold, I feel my heart might burst

A Mothers love, the forest deep, and the glories of His earth.

Enjoy the beauty of your day dear one.

*All words and photos my own.

Happy 60th Fair Friend!

Today is a very special day! Sixty years ago today, my dear friend Belinda Gale was born. Seventeen years later, we would meet up at a youth group we were both attending. We joined a "small group" for young women and I began riding to meetings with her in her Ford Pinto. As things usually went back in the day, she became part of our family, and our home was her second home. The summer of 1974, we embarked on a little backpacking journey in the Ocala National Forest. It was the first of many adventures we would share over the next forty two years. 

Back in the day, she joined our crazy clan of friends that were my mothers "children from another mother".

Back in the day, she joined our crazy clan of friends that were my mothers "children from another mother".

 

 

 

 

Auntie Belinda with her fan club, my children.

Auntie Belinda with her fan club, my children.

My friend is that special aunt that teaches your children to drive, so that you don't kill them in the process. She's the kind of woman who models strength, faith and sensitivity to everyone she meets.

In the Allegheny National Forest 1977

In the Allegheny National Forest 1977

Always the perfect example of beauty, strength and sensitivity. A real southern gal!

Always the perfect example of beauty, strength and sensitivity. A real southern gal!

We've shared some crazy adventures over the years, backpacking in Florida and Pennsylvania, many antiquing trips and exploring the Big Island of Hawaii. You've been a sister, a rock and a beloved friend. 

Thank you for your presence in my life over the years. I'm so thankful for our friendship. Happy Birthday Fair Friend!

Going Gray

The hair I was born with.

The hair I was born with.

I have talked to several friends who thought that sharing my going gray story would be a good blog post. So, I'm going to do it as part of my "116 days to my 60th" challenge. Here's my story and (now that it's all gray), I'm stickin' to it!

The best hair day of my life!  

The best hair day of my life!

 

Two years ago this month, I made the decision to stop coloring my hair. I had done this once before, two years prior and that endeavor didn't end well. As is true for many, it often takes a couple of attempts until you really make your mind up to stick it out.

IT'S A LONG HAUL GIRLFRIEND and there are not really any short cuts but one, and that's a "short cut"! I tried a few things that didn't work out very well and I will categorize these under :  

Tried and Failed

When I first began to get the bug that I wanted to stop coloring my hair, I would see women my age that I thought looked so beautiful with gray hair. I even approached a total stranger once to ask how she went gray? Her hair was long and beautiful and she was younger than me. She told me that she had her hair dresser bleach her whole head blonde and let her gray come in. I DON'T RECOMMEND THIS. Unless of course, you are fair complected and have blondish or light brown hair. The results on my dark hair were harsh. You see, what we don't know as non-hairdressers is that all those years of color have left a residue on our hair, you can bleach until the cows come home, but all you're going to end up with is what I call Barbie hair, yep, that's what it will feel like, plastic Barbie doll hair, and it will break off in ways you never dreamed of. I promise, it won't be pretty, it also will NOT be gray. Without the right skin tone, being a blonde is not much fun after all. I looked pretty washed out. Eventually, I began coloring my hair again, and it would be two years before I tried again. This time, I did some things differently, I'll share them here and maybe when you're ready it will be a help to you.

The hairband stage

The hairband stage

I started a PINTEREST BOARD. I labeled it "going gray" I scrolled through Pinterest every chance I got, looking up gray hairstyles and pinning them to my board. I found so many photos of cool gray hairstyles on women my own age and younger. That was a great encourager! ALSO, this often lead to interesting articles and blogs about other women's stories of going gray, how they went about it, products they used etc...THIS ALSO LEAD ME to discovering a few Facebook groups, where women posted their photos of their transitioning to gray. Most of these are closed groups, you have to ask to join. I found these groups to be so encouraging. All the women would cheer each other on, leaving the sweetest comments under each others photos. These forums also gave links and reviews on different products, as well as little videos on changing your makeup, your lipstick and wardrobe colors to go with your new hair color. These ideas may sound crazy to you, but it all works together and you're going to need all the info you can get your hands on for encouragement. When your hair color changes, you'll notice that you may not look the same in some of the colors or makeup you once wore.

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

I began trying to just let my gray come in naturally, in August (2years ago). By Christmas I had some pretty significant re-growth, which we ladies usually refer to as a skunk stripe. I wore a lot of nice stretchy headbands (*Claire's boutique at your local mall, dirt cheap and lots of colors) and fun hats. 

 

 

 

 

AND THEN IN FEBRUARY I was out with Mr. Wonderful at our local mall on a Friday night, when I saw myself in a mirror while trying on earrings. It was strange to see how I looked in different lighting, and I didn't like it one bit. We walked out of that store and straight into a hair studio, where the sweetest young gal spent a great deal of time cutting my hair off. She knew it was a BIG step for me. It was good that I did it spontaneously, it's a big deal to do "the big chop"!

The night I got the chop! On the way home in our car. (as Nora Ephron said; "I feel bad about my neck").

The night I got the chop! On the way home in our car. (as Nora Ephron said; "I feel bad about my neck").

The thing that had held me back from cutting my hair off sooner was my neck. We all have some things that we're self conscious about, and for me, one of those is my neck. I guess I thought my hair was hiding it, whatever, it is what it is! This is my neck, I'm owning it. With all of that faded color cut off I could now begin letting my hair go gray naturally. Every few months I got a trim to keep things balanced out, the gray coming in and the faded colored ends coming off. 

This is my fully transitioned hair (as they say in the Going Gray forums).

This is my fully transitioned hair (as they say in the Going Gray forums).

So that's the way it has worked for me. The chop got me out of a self conscious funk that had been plaguing me while sporting my hard earned skunk stripe, after all, you can't wear a hat everywhere. My hair is now completely gray. THE BIGGEST SURPRISE to me has been what my hair color turned out to be! It didn't look anything like I thought it would. My hair is mostly white in the front and a light gray in the back. I have to tell you, I love it. I still have moments, but I'm not missing my auburn brown, or that trip to the hair dresser every three weeks for color. AND I've been amazed that complete strangers come up to me and pay me compliments or ask how I went about it! Wow, I never expected that. I've got to say, I'm liking my real hair.

A few things...

  • When someone tells you it took them two years to go completely gray, believe them. Even with the BIG CHOP, it took two years to get all the color off.
  • Many women have great results having their hair dresser begin doing highlights and low lights in place of full color, that allows the gray to come in a more subtle way.
  • ASK ABOUT TONER, Your new mantra, TONER TONER TONER! This is the key to not having that yellowish color as you transition.  
  • Ask your hair dresser about "purple shampoo" it's not only for your grandma! It keeps yours silver looking lovely. Caution! Don't over do it, a little dab'ell do ya!
  • Make a Pinterest Board. Search; gray hair styles or going gray.
  • Facebook groups: Going Gray Gracefully, Going Gorgeously Gray, Going Gray and Loving it, GGG Going Gray Beauty Guide
  • Below are a few photos of the stages of my transition from color to gray...

I hope this is helpful to someone out there, we need all the encouragement we can get. If going gray is what you want to do, don't be afraid, GO FOR IT! I'm cheering you on! Feel free to touch base with me, and as always, ENJOY THE BEAUTY OF THIS DAY DEAR !

Soon To Be Sixty-My Countdown Begins-116 days.

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time...

In just 116 days I will turn sixty years old.

A few nights ago, I had a dream that I took on the task of writing on my blog again for the countdown to my birthday (AND of all the crazy things my “Mam-ma”/Grandmother showed up in the dream, more on this later). 

This could be quite therapeutic for me, as I find great pleasure in writing. I write pretty frequently, but I haven't been putting it out there publicly in quite a while. There’s a few reasons for this, and I’ll probably touch on some of those reasons as I go along.

There were many goals on my to-do list, for this year leading up to my milestone birthday, some I have yet to complete, some turned out to require more ambition than I could muster, and still other plans keep emerging. 

In the mean time, I’m going on my 116 day journey “Soon to be 60”, with my to do list, my writing and my photo’s to document things along the way. I hope you will follow along in my endeavor, I’d love your company and to hear from you.

I'm always snapping a photo to share...

I'm always snapping a photo to share...

I have cleaned up my inbox so we can keep in touch, I hope you’ll email me @ towandagalinc@gmail.com

As always, have a glorious Sunday on this 14th day of August and “Enjoy the Beauty of this Day Dear”!

*You can also find me and my photos on INSTAGRAM @ Towandagal

and Facebook @ TOWANDATUDE.com

 

Summer Days

Summer days

It’s almost full on summer here. The first of June marks the beginning of hurricane season here in the south. 

The alligators here are a little different from the ones in my story...

The alligators here are a little different from the ones in my story...

I have my Grandbuddies for the next few days. Today I coaxed them outside to play in the pool with me. After a while, I retired to my lifeguard post at the patio table. I am overwhelmed by how much the world has changed in what seems such a short amount of time. Things seem so different now for this generation coming up. Their days are spent surrounded by technology that I could not have even dreamed of as a child. Unless kids live in a rural community they don't spend much time outdoors without a guardian. It leaves me a little saddened and nostalgic for my own childhood summer days. I share a chapter of them with you here. 

I grew up in hot, sunny south Florida, where my summers as a young child were spent in the cool woods behind my Grandmothers house or on the white shell rock dirt roads in the front of our home. We played kickball, carved hopscotch in the dirt, climbed the malaleuca, mango or rubber trees in the yard. The neighborhood kids and I engaged in rotten mango or guava fights, a war that left your clothes stained and smelling of soured fruit. 

Marci and her sidekick "yours truly".

Marci and her sidekick "yours truly".

On the weekends my single Mom took us to the beach. My brother and I were always allowed to bring a friend. 

Sometimes Mom took us to spend days in a friends lake retreat on Lake Placid, Florida. Again, my smart Mom had us each bring our best friend to keep us occupied so it would be a rest for her. I loved the days we spent there. We jumped off the dock into the cool dark water early each morning and never came in until she called us for lunch. Then back out we went until the afternoon storms arose. This happened each day like clock work. The thunder clouds rolled in with a crash and boom, the wind picked up and our safe harbor took on a different landscape. White caps arose across the water and the rain would blow hard against the windows we watched from. Lightening stretched from the sky to the water all around the little lake house. We played board games or ping pong during that time and my Mom would provide snacks. Later, back out we went until Mom's call for supper rang out. 

My friend Marci and I learned the beginnings of water skiing on that lake. I saw my first Cottonmouth, (or water moccasin) in those waters. Someone had shot it and the current eventually brought it to our side of the lake, where it appeared on our tiny beach, dead and fascinating to four children. After supper we were given a bar of soap and shampoo to bathe in the lake before bed. I still recall the smell of that shampoo and the thrill of doing something so out of the norm of life at home. As the suds dissipated and the current moved them on, we toweled off and donned our shorty pajamas. We made our way to the end of the dock, feet dangling above the water below and watched night fall across the lake. 

The stillness of a lake at twilight as the day draws to a close is something magnificent to behold. A Holy quiet now settles in, the thickness of it leaves you in a state of reverence as you drink it in. Dragonflies appear skitting across the surface of the water, capturing mosquitos. Cicada’s and crickets call in the surrounding pines. ”Heat lightening” would appear, it was as though someone had flipped a switch and all at once the night sky was briefly illuminated. In the distance we would hear unknown calls that we would attribute to alligators or Florida panthers or whatever our imagination would cook up. Marci and I would scare the bejesus out of my little brother and his buddy Jackie, with these ideas. I accept full responsibility for these tales that were told and the fear inflicted on my younger sibling. It was eerily scary in the still dusk. 

We fell into our beds early and were asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows. Such is the exhaustion of childhood days spent in the sun and water. Awakening in the morning rearing to start this joyful bliss all over again.

I am thankful for those memories, for my childhood and those friends that enriched it. I am thankful for the era I grew up in. Above all, I am thankful for a Mother who made it all possible. 

Enjoy your summer of memory making. 

Marci and me on Greers Ferry Lake in Arkansas where she now lives.

Marci and me on Greers Ferry Lake in Arkansas where she now lives.

*If you have a fond summer memory, leave a post in the comment box or on the Facebook page.*

It’s the small things…in appreciation of pinky and others. GRATITUDE GUSHING

It’s the small things…in appreciation of pinky and others. GRATITUDE GUSHING    

The "not so common Tickseed in our gardens...  

The "not so common Tickseed in our gardens...

 

In my life it seems it's the small things that I often forget to acknowledge. One day a series of unfortunate events smacks you upside the head and yells, “HEY YOU! Look over here for a minute!” 

Over the last two years I've continued to read about making a daily “gratitude list”. The concept is to focus more on all the things we take for granted, being present and really letting gratitude well up within us. It’s a sort of journal I now keep, listing the beautiful things and moments that often go unnoticed.

This morning I wrote of the vibrant yellow color of the “Common Tickseed” in full bloom throughout my garden. I wrote about their thin stems and how they are presently straining all in the same direction, reaching for a glimpse of the sun on this gloomy morning. These native flowers were labeled as weeds by many when I was a kid. Dear tiny common tickseed, you're a little miracle on a green thread. I guess you're not so “common” after all!

It’s the small things that we don’t always see.

In May, my smallest finger met with a power window and the results aren't pretty. However, I came to realize through this ordeal (my fear of doctors, hand surgery, insurance nightmare) yet again, the glorious miracle of small things.

And my gratitude list grows longer…

Did you ever notice that your little pinky stabilizes your fork, your pen, types the letters A, Q, P and various symbols? It helps turn the ignition key to start the car, unlock a door.

Our tiny shed bunny

Our tiny shed bunny

It’s the added bit of weight that balances a paint brush, a mascara wand. And yet, it’s a powerful force working together with four others to grasp a knife for chopping, or gripping a trowel for planting, or holding to the base of my trusty camera.

So dears, it’s the small things I gush with gratitude about this morning.

The beauty in the “common” little things

Brilliant, tiny, yellow flowers on minuscule stems…

The tiny beings that inhabit our garden, running and playing even in the rain, a tiny vole, the newest baby “shed” bunny.

My constant companion, Eddie B., who thinks he’s tiny, (shhh, please don’t tell him he’s not, he’s so polite, he might refrain from lounging across my lap as I write to you).

And last of all, (but certainly not least) my tiniest digit, pinky. Who knew how mighty you are? Someone mightier than I…

“I will give hanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well." *Psalm 139:14

 

#enjoythebeautyofthisdaydears #smallmiracles #mygardenflowers

Sometimes you have to adjust one little thing...

Dear Ones, I am reposting this from 2013. It meant a lot to me then, and speaks to me now. It's good to go back and re-read your own words, those in your journals, or a blog post from a while back. At the end of this post is a comment from a lovely friend of mine. He's been a great encourager in my blogging endeavor. I'd like to repost this today in his honor, to my friend Ron Bartley, Don't give up on your dream! 

 My daughters, Hannah and Naomi, who live their lives with more TOWANDATUDE than anyone I know. They inspire me every day.

 My daughters, Hannah and Naomi, who live their lives with more TOWANDATUDE than anyone I know. They inspire me every day.

I have a rosebush in my garden. It sits over by the little shed and is pretty much a non-producer, only two to four blooms a week. I am not the kind of gardener who likes to fuss with prima donna plants. Don't be asking me to fertilize or dead head you, because I am not interested. So the rosebush and I co-exist without much interaction. Which is a not at all unlike my relationships with high maintenance anything, plant's, people, or cars.

The other day, I got out my bright blue hand cart and moved the giant terracotta pot that houses her royal highness (said rosebush) to a location in my little herb garden under the pergola. Low and behold, two days later that bush was maxed out with blooms! It's so pretty. That pot has been sitting over at the corner of the little shed for the last two years and I did just one little tweak and there ya go, BLOOMS! ROSES ! Who knew ? Well, you knew I was going somewhere with all this, because you are perceptive that way and I am predictable if nothing else, so here comes my metaphor. Go get your coffee cup.

Her royal highness, the rose in my garden.

Her royal highness, the rose in my garden.

I don't know how you are, but I'd like to think I'm pretty transparent. Having been told this by a number of friends and family members over the years and not in a positive light I might add. They've said things like "You are transparent to a fault" "Your facial expressions are a dead giveaway"... you get my drift. So, I'm going to be upfront and transparent here and say that sometimes I can get "THE BLUE FUNK", (as a  friend labeled this for me back in my Pennsylvania years). Not long ago, a series of built up disappointments in my world were causing me to frequent the Scott tissue box. It was time to revisit my magic formula for combating disappointment. 

1). I have to release others from my expectations. A friend said to me recently that "EXPECTATION BREEDS RESENTMENT". When I presume my expectations on others, I'm headed for disaster. No one knows (unless I tell them) what I'm expecting, and what I'm expecting is MY thing, not necessarily their way of thinking at all. This kind of expectation is pretty self centered. It seems that SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO GO YOUR OWN WAY AND YOU HAVE TO GO IT ALONE. Maybe the ones who began your journey with you, won't be the ones who show up at all. JUST KEEP ON WALKING, PUSHING YOUR HAND CART AND ROSE BUSH.....

2). I heard Dr.Fuchsia Pickett speak when she was in her eighties. (Look her up, pretty cool Towandatude filled story) When asked, "How do you know what you are supposed to do in life? How do you get going when you're stuck?"  her reply was to "GO BACK TO THE LAST PLACE YOU HEARD GODS VOICE AND START AGAIN".

We all have those moments where we cease to BLOOM and the BLUE FUNK overtakes us and it all goes downhill, (if you don't you're probably not  meant to be reading this Blog) In these times of BLUE, I go out to the back porch, have a little quiet time and try to think, "What was my intention ? Where was I going with all this anyway? What did I know in my 'knower' (that place deep inside where I am true to myself) that I was setting out to do?" I go back to that first step on the journey to my goal and start again, with a little tweaking usually. I move that terracotta pot just a little one way or the other and there it is. My course is adjusted, my navigation is set and I start again...

Then, all at once the roses bloom and all it took was a little tweak. I smell the roses, put the hand cart away and walk on alone, without expectation of anyone but myself. And my intention to do things I know are true to myself and what I know in my "knower" to do. Doing those things with all the TOWANDATUDE I've got. 

BE ENCOURAGED TO  LIVE THE LIFE YOU KNOW YOU WERE MEANT TO LIVE AND ALWAYS BE TRUE TO YOURSELF. May you be filled with your very own TOWANDATUDE !  
tweak |twēk|
verb [ with obj. ]
1 twist or pull (something) sharply: he tweaked the boy’s ear.
2 informal improve (a mechanism or system) by making fine adjustments to it: engineers tweak the car’s operating systems during the race.
noun
1 a sharp twist or pull.
2 informal a fine adjustment to a mechanism or system.
ORIGIN early 17th cent.: probably an alteration of dialect twick‘pull sharply’; related to twitch.

Karen Pender1 Comment6 Like

COMMENTS (1)

Newest First Oldest First Newest First Most Liked Least Liked Subscribe via e-mail

Preview Post Comment

Ron Bartley 2 years ago : There's a friend and " sister" that I am so grateful for. There have been enormous gaps between the times we see or talk to each other...but...she has always been what I view as a rock and a pillar for her family and friends. Karen writes a blog by the name "Towandatude.com". In it she writes about her family, friends, faith, ups, downs and lessons learned from it all. I try to read her blog with a certain amount of regularity..but..i found it had been a while since I had signed in to read it. Tonight as I was sitting at my dining room table, I decided it was time to stop in to her site. I was hit particularly hard by one entry from Oct 10, 2013 entitled " Sometimes you just have to adjust one little thing". To make a short summary of the entry..Karens message is that sometimes only making just one minor change in something can produce a massive result. In my life right now, there is a change coming. It may or may not be considered minor, but, I am praying that it'll be a change for the better. I am hoping that gone will be the days that I feel bad for myself because of my chronic illnesses ( heart disease, diabetes, gout, kidney stones and depression/anxiety). This change will bring on the chance to be able to live in an area where I will no longer be terrified to drive. Being I've been told I am not able to work, I'd like to be able to volunteer with food a food pantry and with other aspects of a church I hope to find that will take care of my spiritual needs while my doctors keep up with my physical ones! I hope this change will bring on a FULL life instead of the empty shell of a life that I have currently. Thank you Karen for your Blog. Even we men can grab life by the scruff of the neck and shout " TOWANDA!!!"

 

BE

I found this post this morning in my DRAFT FILE from 2014. I wanted to share it with you today. The quote by artist David Arms, is relevant yesterday, today and tomorrow, for each of us. It’s so encouraging. I hope you’ll check out his work on Facebook and Instagram. It’s beautiful.
Painting by the artist David Arms please visit his website and Facebook page. 

Painting by the artist David Arms please visit his website and Facebook page. 

"I am an artist who didn't know he was an artist until later in life. I didn't know to hope for it. Now I can't imagine life without it."

That simple sentence and this beautiful painting, meant so much to me when I came across them a while back. Mr.Wonderful and I took a road trip to camp in the Nashville area in the summer. We made a few trips to the tiny town of  LEAPERS FORK and visited David Arms studio there. That was my first encounter with his beautiful artistry. As you know, I'm an amateur bird watcher- photographer and his paintings coupled with the Bible verses I was raised with were absolutely overwhelming to me. I stood with my mouth open and tears running down my face. WHAT BEAUTY !!

When we returned home and looked him up to "LIKE" his Facebook page, I saw this sentence (above) in his profile.

I hope it speaks to you as it has to me, that it's never too late to BE. 

HOPE IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS...

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
and never stops at all
— Emily Dickinson
The Catbird sings a crooked song
In minors that are flat
And when he can’t control his voice
He mews just like a cat
Then nods his head and whisks his tail
And lets it go at that
— Oliver Davie
The reason birds can fly and we can’t is simply because they have perfect faith,
for to have faith is to have wings
— J.M.Barrie "The Little White Bird"
Within my garden rides a bird
Upon a single wheel-
Whose spokes a dizzy music make
As ‘twere a traveling mill-
He never stops, but slackens
Above the ripest rose-
Partakes without alighting
And praises as he goes,
Till every spice is tasted-
And then his fairy gig
Reels in remoter atmospheres-
And I rejoin my dog,
And he and I, perplex us
If positive ‘twer we-
Or bore the garden in the brain
This curiosity-
But he the best logician,
Refers my clumsy eye-
To just vibrating blossoms! An exquisite reply!
— Emily Dickinson

 ENJOY THE BEAUTY OF THIS DAY DEAR ONES

Tuesday Morning Walk in the Woods

When I was in my twenties, I did some backpacking. First in the Ocala Forest in my home state of Florida and later, in the Allegheny Forest in Pennsylvania. Then after I had children, we took them primitive camping and canoeing a few times a year. I have  never lost my love for camping and hiking. Last year I sent out a message to my three children, that I would love to backpack with them sometime before my big SIX-O. My oldest daughter has jumped on board and is doing so much research about this topic. She has found so many trails locally for us to practice on. She's even began to purchase items we will need. If I don't get myself in shape, she may even go without me! 

Here's some pictures from our hike in the woods this fine Tuesday Morning. 

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
― Robert Frost

My February Self-Challenge.

Happy first day of February, friends and family!

I’m a bit late in sending this out, but I wanted to share an idea with you.

I confess to you that I am a bit of a START-STOP-START-STOP Person. I’m certain you have noticed this. Quite a while ago, I was sending out a blog post every day. It doesn’t matter that I only had ten faithful followers, I loved doing it. I was pretty consistent and I felt good about that. I have great intentions of follow through, the trouble is, I usually DON'T follow through. 

So here’s where I am going with this…

A friend said to me the other day that she was going to try and quit sugar for the month of February. I had already been contemplating the hold that sugar has over me and thought that I might join along in her quest. I’d like to try banishing the beast of syrupy goodness that my coffee cup holds for me throughout the day, not to mention my love of the word PIE and all things associated with it. After all, February is a short month, right? How hard can it be? 

OF COURSE THERE IS MORE, you know me so well…

As I was lying in bed last night with my tummy full of my last night of PIE and sugary coffee for the next month, I got to thinking…

THIS YEAR I TURN 60!

Those words are cause for bringing one to an abrupt state of attention. I sat up in bed and thought, just what am I doing with this last year of my fifties? What will I look back on and be proud of? Perhaps this is as good a time as any to add a couple of other items to my challenge?

WHAT IF

What if I  reinstated some good habits that I have let lapse? Over the three years since I began my website and blog I’ve seen that other bloggers submit themselves constantly to a “30 DAY WRITING CHALLENGE”. If you have ever belonged to a writing group, you know this to be true. Every month there’s several out there, so it must be a common problem for others as well. 

In committing to a challenge it helps to do it with others. That breeds a sense of camaraderie, and holds our feet to the toasty fire of accountability. So, I'm stepping forward with this February challenge, what about you? Are you beginning a new journey this month?

Leave me a message! I hope to hear from all ten of you! Lets encourage one another! 

TODAY FEBRUARY 1, 2016

I begin AGAIN... 

Twenty nine days of hopefully better habits

A love for sugarless pie and

Twenty nine days of writing without fail.

LET THE QUEST BEGIN!

 

  

Larry

I love the Hawaiian tradition of “Talk Story". It keeps memories of our time on earth alive, passing them on to future generations. Today, on these pages I want to Talk Story about Mr. Wonderful’s Dad, Larry. 

 

My sweet Husband lost his Father on Tuesday of this week, and while I did not know him all that well, I know the stories that are told at family gatherings. These stories have made us laugh and I never grow tired of hearing them…

 

Larry with his kids LeeAnn and Glen (aka;Mr.Wonderful) and Larry's brother Lee.

Larry with his kids LeeAnn and Glen (aka;Mr.Wonderful) and Larry's brother Lee.

There's the story of the year that Larry worked construction in the bitter Chicago winter of 1967, returning home one day and announcing to his wife that this would be their LAST winter in Illinois! “We’re moving to Florida!” The rest is history, the history of a family who bought the two story house on Ardmore, over in Flamingo Park. 

 

Larry with his daughter Lois.

Larry with his daughter Lois.

I love the stories of the years that my husband and his Dad built the cabins in Franklin, North Carolina. They are the tales of two guys who venture off to the livestock auction and come back with a calf tucked neatly in the family van. They hadn't thought about how they would feed “BIG MAC” (Yep! That is what they would later name it) this leads to another story about their adventures in caring for the new family pet. On another trip to the auction, they brought home a pony for sweet Lois, my husbands younger step sister. Again, they packed up the pony in the van and off they went back to the property. That property, according to family legend, had the steepest driveway in the county. The driveway where a young Lois later learned to drive a stick shift.

Each of us inherit traits from our parents. Mr.Wonderful inherited his Fathers ability for cyphering (as he likes to call it). He can look at scraps of wood and figure out how he would make something out of it. (and does it beautifully)

A love for motorcycles, and the curiosity for how things work.

He inherited his Fathers love of adventure, road trips and especially exploring the western states. 

And, his love of a good crossword puzzle.

We each take with us the memories of our family dynamics, our stories good and bad. They form us into who we will become later in life. We use the bad to guard ourselves from repeating our parents mistakes. We hold on to the good and recreate a new version of our childhood in our own children's lives. Those golden memories of how things used to be, when fireflies lit up the evening sky in the woods of Franklin North Carolina.

Last night we sat around a dinner table and talked story about my Father in law. The stories told there are his legacy left to those seated around that table. While I don’t foresee his grands taking the family van to the livestock auction to pick up free chickens (Well, Lindsay might!) I know they will each carry on a part of their Grand Dad to their children, and the story of our dinner by the ocean, where we told his stories and talked of fireflies in our midst.  

Larry Pender September 19, 1930- November 24, 2015

Larry with his little sis, Cleta.  

Larry with his little sis, Cleta.

 

   


The Man in the Arena

I have had a burning, conflicting, paradox within me,  it's plagued me my entire life.

As a small child my Father would always say, “Do it right or don’t do it at all” well, the “don’t do it at all” part meant a spanking, so what choice did I have really? Those words spoke to me that I should always do my best. There was never an option for “that’s good enough”. I have often felt paralyzed in trying new things or sharing my skills with others because I couldn't do things perfectly.

strive |strīv|verb (past strove |strōv| or strived; past participle striven|strivən| or strived) [ no obj. ]make great efforts to achieve or obtain something

In the Christian faith, we are instructed not to strive. We are taught that because of Christ coming to earth, (God in the form of man) we are set free from striving, by this grace that God has sent to us. We are loved and accepted just as we are. We as humans have a rough time with this, we’re always striving to keep up with the Jones’, striving to earn Gods love, have more, do more, be more, be perfect, be accepted…We think that if we can’t do something perfectly that it’s "not good enough” to share with others. I stand guilty on ALL counts. 

When I began teaching about creative worship years ago in my home church, and later in Hawaii to students from other parts of the world, I saw that these feelings of inadequacy reign universal throughout the human race, and I became an advocate for “YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH, YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH”. I felt it was Gods word to me to share with the students that were placed in my care.

In my life since those years, I have slowly but surely, drifted back, back into the dark hole of “Not good enough”. It happens. I think that's part of what this name “TOWANDATUDE” meant to me. An attitude, that  we are enough, strong, beautiful, glorious human beings, LOVED by God, created in HIS image.

I read something yesterday that struck me about “Not being good enough” It’s called “MAN IN THE ARENA” by Theodore Roosevelt.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 

I have struggled with this website and blog. I’ve had a hard time with self criticism, not having a writing degree, with beating my head against the wall because of my lack of technology skills. I'm no scholar and I know that my grammar and punctuation are not always correct. It’s been difficult at times to pour out my deepest thoughts, memories, prayers and know that it’s not perfect. But it brings me great joy to encourage others to try. I love to share my stories, my epiphanies, our projects around here and my photo's with you, hoping to be a bright spot in your day and an encouragement. Yesterday when I heard this talk about the quote from Theodore Roosevelt, I got to thinking at least I’m trying. I want you to think about that too.

What are you withholding because you might fail? What are you holding back because you might not do it perfectly?

DOING IT RIGHT means DOING IT with all you’ve got! But just DO IT. Share your gifts of love. Share your expression of love. It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize, critique others, to be "those cold timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat"  but what are you doing? It takes a whole lot of courage for each of us to step out and share ourselves with the world. BE SOMEONES CHAMPION, BE AN ENCOURAGER. 

Be the “Man in the Arena” in your own life. Share your gifts, lavish them on your loved ones. You are beautiful, and “accepted in the beloved”. You are GOOD ENOUGH right now, just as you are.

P.S.I’m in the stands, rooting for you, in the arena as you "DARE GREATLY"

*EPHESIANS 1:6  King James version/ To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 

My Mothers House

Miss Jane and her daughter 1998, wearing our GRITS Tshirts. An acronym for; "Girls Raised in the SOUTH"

Miss Jane and her daughter 1998, wearing our GRITS Tshirts. An acronym for; "Girls Raised in the SOUTH"

Once in a while it works out that you need someone at the same time that they need you. Last week was one of those times. I got behind the wheel and drove four hours to My MOTHERS HOUSE.

At my Mothers house,

I am always met at the car, bags are carried, hugs are in abundant supply.

Dog kisses await me at the front door.

I round the corner to the guest room where old photos have been selected for my review.

My bed is turned down, crisp clean sheets and my favorite blanket await my arrival.

At my Mothers house

All  my childhood favorite foods have been stocked in the little pantry.

From rye toast to liverwurst its a smorgasbord of comfort.

My tastebuds lavish in the deliciousness of evoked memories

At my mothers house is beauty

Everywhere I glance, the birds and blooms seem to be performing for me.

I drink in their beauty from her back porch. 

A cup of her delicious coffee steams in my favorite cup.

Camera in hand, I continue my ritual of trying to capture the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds (to no avail, as usual). 

This week I came to help out, two surgeries and all is well. This week my heart was hurting and I found solace in the comfort of My Mothers House.

Sunday Morning Gratitude List

I've been reading author Ann Voscamps "1,000 GIFTS". What a change we would see in our world, if we focused on the gifts of this life, rather than the daily negative responses I seem to be prone to falling back on. In that spirit of gratefulness, I awake on this Sunday morning, NOT to a hurricane, instead, a beautiful rainy day gift. Here's my little list this morning. What are you grateful for this Sunday morning? Enjoy the beauty of this day dear ones!

A rainy Sunday (favorite kind of day)

No storms threatening

A safe dry house

Coffee and the sunday paper

Yoga pants

Soup simmering

Biscuits baking

Nowhere we have to be

A nice cozy couch in the little shed, or the one on the screen porch and a good book

The sound of rain…

My two sweet companions to share this day with

The ability to recognize and be grateful for all of these gifts

A thankful heart.

 

 

 

 

In Admiration of Gal Pals...

In my BIO on this website, I wrote, “I’m continually in awe of my fellow gal pals...” It’s true. I am so blown away continually by the endurance and achievements of women everywhere.

Sometimes you get to still visit with the girls you started school with.

Sometimes you get to still visit with the girls you started school with.

I follow several of you through the magic of Facebook and Instagram. I get to read about your adventures, and see the photographs you post. Sometimes I read about passages in your lives, births of Grandchildren and the passing of loved ones. I stand in awe of your courage through it all.

To me, the strength and dignity that women possess is a miracle thing.

My friend Candy and her mom chris.

My friend Candy and her mom chris.

 One friend that I stay in touch with has been housebound for almost two years, unable to go to work or even drive her car. Another friend lost her sister a few months back. My close friend took three years out of her life to move to another state and care for her mothers final years with Alzheimer’s disease. There are countless stories of love and sacrifice, of joy and sorrow that I am aware of through these pages and still these women rise above and carry on. What an inspiration your lives are.

Your tales of adventures and Your photographs are fun to follow.

THe Traveling Prima- cousins

THe Traveling Prima- cousins

I love the adventures of the three cousins, that call each other “Prima”. They take a trip somewhere together every couple of years. One of the gals moved across the country last year, to start a new life near her Grandchildren. Another Prima, is an artist and takes aerial photographs from the passenger seat of her husbands plane, the photos are something to behold! The third Prima and her partner, take motorcycle trips escorting the families of fallen soldiers. In their down time they take trips scouting out where they will live in their second act. I love following their adventures. I enjoy reading the Blog posts of other women, reading about their lives and the creative businesses they’ve started. Also, I’m a huge fan of younger women’s Blog posts, what amazing things these gals are doing with their various art forms, it’s so inspiring. 

Yours truly and my Little one, not so long ago. 

Yours truly and my Little one, not so long ago. 

This era of our lives is something new, it’s an adjustment in so many ways. Our children have flown the coop, our parents are aging and needing us more…When I look back over the gamut of where we’ve been, from a heartbreak you thought you couldn’t endure in your youth, the joy of marriage, giving birth, raising children or co-raising your loved ones children, having a career and now full circle, here we are again…Beginning a new chapter, a little heart ache sometimes, a little miracle or two, a new start…This era is a blank slate to be colored in with your very own signature hues. What will you make of this year? If I’ve seen anything at all in my female counterparts, it’s been courage, creativity, strength and soaring. Yes, SOARING, I love to watch as you soar! Each of you in your own beautiful, inspiring way.

So, "SOAR on" reader friend, and know that your admirer is cheering you on, "TOWANDA!"