Life’s Playlist…… Fly Me to the Moon performed by Frank Sinatra

Yesterday, in 1969, Neil Armstrong went where no other human had been before.

As part of the America’s mission to the moon, Armstrong strapped on his support pack, fastened his helmet in place and stepped on the moon, becoming a National Hero in the process.

His words…… “that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” is seared into our brains and stands as a testament to the greatness of the human spirit.

I know my family was glued to our black and white television when this happened, but I don’t remember it.  As most Americans, I have seen the videos and still get chills today when I think about this awesome accomplishment.

No one really knew what would happen when the astronauts escaped earth’s orbit headed to the moon.  No one knew what would happen when the lunar explorer landed on the moon.  No one knew what would happen when Armstrong stepped onto the moon’s surface and no one knew if we would be able to get our heroes home.

We now know, the mission went without major issues and the heroic work of our astronauts and those who sent them into space stands as one of the greatest accomplishments of mankind.

Isn’t it amazing what can happen when we work towards a purpose and dedicate our efforts to making those dreams come true?  The possibilities are out of this world…….

 

Charmed

(Today’s post is a “re-post” from October 15, 2011.  The story still brings me a sense of peace and the memories these simple charm bracelets represent fill my heart as much today as they did many decades ago.)

 

There are certain possessions that we all have in life that mean much more to us than their value.  Items that “in a fire” you would grab.

Besides Lita, I have a few things I would try to save in case of an emergency…..  the framed baby outfit I wore home from the hospital when I was born, a quilt made from my parents clothes when they were children both of which were Christmas gifts from mama and daddy.

I would try to grab family photos and my “important documents” box, but before any of those other “things” in my life (excluding Lita) I would reach for the charm bracelets.

In my living room, in a special place of honor are two framed charm bracelets, costume jewelry that means more to me than anyone else.  These charm bracelets belonged to mama and ma-ma.

When I was a very young child I used to spend a lot of time with ma-ma and gramps.  We had kind of a routine that included continuous pampering and exploration of my imagination and creative personality.

Ma-ma was the perfect homemaker, she could bake, cook, clean, sew, garden, arrange flowers, craft, she could do it all and she loved having a little one tugging at her apron strings offering to “help.”  I love pulling those apron stings, so we were a perfect pair!

One of my favorite things to do with ma-ma was to have her tell me stories,  stories from the charm bracelet.

Ma-ma’s charm bracelet was gold and from my childhood memory it had what seemed like hundreds of charms.  Each charm held a significance, the sewing machine, the thimble, a head for each child and grandchild, a replica of her brother’s Bronze Star, Virginia, Puerto Rico, Florida;  all remembrances of trips taken through the years.

For a young boy filled with an unquenchable imagination, that bracelet and the stories that were told about each charm could entertain for hours.

Many years later, when ma-ma died, I knew there was one thing I really wanted, I wanted that bracelet.  I hadn’t seen it in years and when I mentioned it no one knew where it was.

Through the days of purging ma-ma’s belongings someone found the charm bracelet and gave it to me.  As an adult, it wasn’t as impressive as it was when I was a child, you could see some of the charms were missing and it was tarnished, but just seeing that bracelet brought back a flood of memories and times spent with my grandmother that I would never be able to replace.

Mama’s bracelet was different.  Mama’s bracelet was silver and only had 5 charms on it… one for daddy, one for Tom, one for Sam, one for me and one for herself.  Four male heads and one female.

On the front of each charm our name and birth date was engraved.  On the back of Tom’s was his death date.

Somewhere through the years mama lost her charm bracelet she would mention it from time to time and how much it meant to her.

One year, when I was about 16, I knew exactly what I wanted to give mama for Christmas.  I had worked all summer and saved some money and knew that this would be the year I was able to give her the special gift.

When we open our Christmas gifts each year, we try and hold one back for the grand finale as we know it is going to be the “special gift” for that year.  This was my first year able to give the “special” gift.

I planned for weeks, I got mama’s gift, I made sure everything was perfect and on Christmas Eve, I proudly put that gift under the tree.

As we unwrapped the gifts my excitement built and for the first time, this year the excitement really wasn’t for what I was receiving, but what I was giving.

When the time finally came and all the gifts but one were opened, I proudly handed mama her beautifully wrapped package.  I sat nervously beside her and as she unwrapped the package, our small family watched in anticipation.

When the package was opened, there it lay a silver charm bracelet, just like the one she had year’s before.  Five heads, each engraved, a simple gift that meant more to my mama and I than any expensive gadget could.  To this day, the most special gift I have ever given anyone.

Mama and I both cried.

Through the years mama wore that bracelet everywhere and she made sure not to lose it.  She added three more heads through the years, Donna, Chelsea and Zack.

When mama passed, there was one thing I wanted.  Before I left Clayton on my way back to Florida after that horrible/wonderful week, I went to mama’s jewelry box and collected the charm bracelet.

Not long after I got my grandmother’s bracelet, I decided to have it framed.  I lived in Atlanta at the time and had a friend who was a framer, he made sure that it got the attention it deserved and did a beautiful job with the presentation.

After mama died it took me almost a year to have her bracelet framed.  It hurt too much to think about finalizing it and putting the bracelet behind glass.

Finally, as the 1 year anniversary of mama’s death approached I took it out and went to my local framer.  I carried ma-ma’s bracelet with me to show the framer what I wanted.

Thankfully, the framer saw the importance of this project and gave it his attention and dedication.  We picked out a frame that complimented ma-ma’s.  After finally, pulling together the strength to take the bracelet to the framer, I waited with nervous anticipation for it to be completed.

When I got the call that my frame was completed, I went to pick it up with excitement.  When I saw the frame opened, again I cried, just like the first time I saw it opened and just like the first time, I knew my mama was right beside me admiring the bracelet as well.

Today those two bracelets sit in a place of honor in my living room.  On a small table, two pieces of costume jewelry that mean the world to me.

(Note – since moving back to God’s Country two years ago, the bracelets still hold a place of honor, in my living room, prominently on my mantle.)

Georgia Mountain Laurel Magazine Column for July, 2017

My monthly column in Georgia Mountain Laurel Magazine is now online and in stores.

This month, I reminisce about summer gatherings of family, friends, awesome foods with pickin’ and singin’!

Yes, you should read the entire magazine, however if you only have time for one article, you may enjoy the one on page 92.

Check it out.  gmlaurel.com 

Life’s Playlist…. Theme Song from Rocky

Daddy wasn’t much of a movie goer, he would wait until they came on TBS to catch up.  Usually years after the movie was released.  (This was long before DVD or live-streaming….. I know, imagine the horrors!)

In 1976 when Rocky was released daddy wanted to see it, so with Sam away at college, mama and I took daddy to the movie theater.

He loved the movie and I watched it again with him on TV a few years before he died.   Daddy was a boxer when he was young and on the rare occasion that he would tell us stories about those days they were always entertaining.

The last time daddy was in the hospital, our immediate family and some of our extended family were all gathered in his hospital room….. he told us stories that day, about his childhood, teen years and boxing.  I will cherish those stories forever.

Last year, I had the opportunity to visit Philadelphia for my work.  In addition to the Liberty Bell and historic monuments, the “Rocky steps” at the Philadelphia Art Museum were on my list of must visit.

I didn’t attempt to run the steps, but I walked them and thought about my daddy each step of the climb.  I miss my daddy every day, but cherish the wonderful memories he left me.

When One Door Closes……..

Friday afternoon, I boxed up my company issued laptop and sent it back to the company I have been working for, effectively ending a chapter in my life that has provided joy, challenge, financial reward, stress and opportunity.

When I decided to resign from my job, I did so knowing that I would be giving up a lot, with hopes of gaining more.

The last year has been a difficult one, I have seen my voice diminished, my judgement questioned and my passion for a job that I have loved eliminated.  I knew it was time to move on.

While the passion for my job was gone, new opportunities came to me and I am now ready to see where those opportunities will take me.

When I bought a small business last year, I did so with plans of it being a simple investment that I would sell in a couple of years.

Impressed quickly became more of a passion and the thoughts of it being an investment vanished.  I found in Impressed the opportunity to capitalize on my artistic sensibilities and nurture my entrepreneurial spirit.

Who knew that t-shirts could be so much fun?

While I embraced the new business, I also committed to more writing.  I have always enjoyed writing and started this blog years ago, but somehow never had the time to devote to it.

In January, when I decided I was going to concentrate on my writing, the “pay-off” was immediate.

Over the last several months, I have been given the opportunity to write a monthly column for Georgia Mountain Laurel Magazine and had a featured column in the summer issue of Cabin & Cove.

The feedback from my articles has encouraged me and I look forward to more opportunities to share my words with others.

For several years I have heard from family and friends that I should write a book.  Well, yes I should, and I would love to, however as with many things in life, fear prevented me from pursuing that dream.

The final agreement I had to make with myself when I  decided to leave my career was that I would pursue the opportunity of that book.

Once I made that decision, again, doors opened and I am now diligently working towards making the dream a reality.

Yesterday, I locked myself in my house, put everything aside that I should be doing and wrote.  I wrote all day and once I closed my computer and sat down to watch TV, I started thinking and wrote some more.

It was a great day, filled with opportunity that I am actively pursuing a dream that has simmered inside me for many years.

Who knows if it will happen, but I can honestly say I am inspired each time I sit at this keyboard with the opportunity to write.  When the words start to flow and a sentence appears on the screen that I like, the excitement I feel is unlike anything I have ever known and I anticipate the words that will follow.

So here I am, I have set a new course and plan on seeing it through.

I believe in visioning, when you see something in your mind and will it to happen.  I am in full visioning mode.

I can see Impressed being successful and continuing to inspire my artistic and entrepreneurial spirit.

And I vision more opportunities to write, more opportunities to put words on a screen that inspire me.

I can see my book cover, I can see people reading my work and I can see a new happiness and challenge that I have embraced.

On Friday, I closed a door, but have thrown open my heart to a world that is filled with opportunity, excitement and new challenges.

Am I afraid? You bet!

Am I worried about the change in income?  Yes, and Georgia Power probably is too, but more than fear, I am excited by what can happen, what can be my greatest passion, what can be my next step.

On a personal note, I covet your prayers and hope you will remember me as I move into this next phase of my life.  It won’t be easy, but I look forward to seeing where the road leads me.