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There is Great Value in Pacing Yourself

The depth of time disappears in spiral circles

The depth of time disappears in clockwise spiral circles

I sit inside my rocker and feel wind upon my face,

I know within an hour I begin a hectic pace

of problems and contentions, of anger and array,

of the many personalities presented to me every day.

Yet now the time is peaceful, the presence is so dark.

Soon upon my very crevice a new days’ sun will embark.

My mind prepares for battle; My heart seeks to try the stretch,

my talents coil in awareness, conflicting duties will now fetch.

I ponder dreams forgotten, I seek to bury past

in a present touch of whirlwind where my life has now been cast.

Yet I cannot see the tempest, and I do not feel the fates

of whirlwind opposing virtue, of the conflict at the gates,

for I feel a peace within me, a very calming of the soul,

even with the stroking awareness that today’s life will take its toll,

for I do not feel alone in this battle and this strife,

but a calling, reason, purpose, of a meaning to this life.

I am asked to heed and listen, to make a difference in this world,

to overcome my own desires and slow troubles yet unfurled.

Within a couple hours I will take the chains of right

and shackle many problems that right now are out of sight.

Already in my mind are my prayers that beg for strength,

for courage, hope and victory, when fear seems so at length.

Will I make the right decisions? Will I stand in my own way?

Will I face the tribulation? Am I up to facing the frey?

But for now the tempest is stilled. At the present I can see

that nature still is willing to offer all of its’ best to me,

for I see a bird fly high above, a squirrel climbs up a tree,

A duck waddles up. I give her some bread. Somehow she understands me.

And the wind speaks to my heart as it rustles through the trees,

and says, “Be still for this moment. The best is yet to be.”

There is no doubt that in many moments I face conflict galore,

where people bring their troubles, and solving them becomes our chore.

But for the minute that I sit here I see calm on God’s Great Earth,

and I know that what I feel right now is calm and peace and worth.

We all are taken care of, our problems are so minute.

Our plans so minscule, compared to the grass growing under foot.

Such a giant universe, so filled with love and care,

intricately planned, such a privilege just to be here.

And life is oh so short on this earth that we call home.

To get lost in our silly problems is to make our purpose roam.

So I sit here in my rocker knowing soon I face the day,

but for now I rest and feel the wind and let nature have her say.

I will not be here long; I now know to love my presence

in a universe well planned and brought to give me all some essence

of a thankful being with one more day to offer up a prayer

of thanks and love and service; For now I rock here in my chair.

(Watch FOCUS ON JACKSONVILLE hosted by Dr. Keith Johnson on COMCAST TV Channel 99 every Wednesday at 5:30 PM)

My Favorite January Poem

Time for a Change

With all the diet and exercise hype going around I’d like to pass along a poem, which is a favorite of mine. It was obviously written by a woman, but there is a male version hidden somewhere in there between the lines.

I too have been trying to recover from our annual holiday eating experience and a year of too many hollow excuses for not doing what was supposed to have been done. Enjoy

A January Poem
‘Twas the month after Christmas, and all through the house
Nothing would fit me, not even a blouse.
The cookies I’d nibbled, the eggnog I’d taste
At the holiday parties had gone to my waist.
When I got on the scale there arose such a number!
When I walked to the store (less a walk than a lumber),
I’d remember the marvelous meals I’d prepared,
The gravies and sauces and beef nicely rared.
The wine and the rum balls, the bread and the cheese,
And the way that I’d not said “No thank you, please.”
As I dressed myself in my husband’s old shirt
And prepared once again to do battle with dirt,
I said to myself, as I only can,
“You can’t spend a winter disguised as a man!”
So away with the last of the sour cream dip.
Get rid of the fruitcake, every cracker and chip.
Every last bit of food that I like must be banished
‘Till all the additional ounces have vanished.
I won’t have a cookie, not even a lick.
I’ll want only to chew on a long celery stick.
I won’t have hot biscuits, or corn bread or pie.
I’ll munch on a carrot and quietly cry.
I’m hungry, I’m lonesome, and life is a bore,
But isn’t that just what January’s for?
Unable to giggle, no longer a riot.
Happy New Year to all and to all a good diet.
PS Sometimes the Animal Wins!!!

Being Kind Does Not Cost a Penny

For starters, here is an idea list for Acts of Kindness

The teacher went to the board at the front of the room and wrote the question, “What does it mean to be kind?” The assignment then given by the teacher was for each student to write a short essay on the question. As the students began to think and then write, I noticed one little girl continued to think, and she seemed to be running out of time to write. I also noticed the expression on her face was anything but pleasant.

Finally that same little girl raised her hand, still having written nothing. The teacher acknowledged her raised hand, anticipating that perhaps the little girl wanted to be excused to use the rest room. Maybe she wasn’t feeling well. But instead, the little girl asked, “What does kind mean?” Taken aback a bit by the innocence of the question, the teacher replied, “Well, to be kind is to help someone, often without being asked to help, to meet a need, to offer some kind of hope when there is none.” I could tell that even in the answer that the teacher had offered, she wasn’t sure her comments were really sufficient to answering the question. The little girl retorted with, “I don’t understand.”  The teacher replied: “Do you mean, you don’t understand the question, or you don’t understand my answer.”

I wasn’t certain whether her attempt was to be either sarcastic or disrespectful, but as I watched the little girl, I began to realize she really was asking a sincere question, and responding honestly. “Both!” the little girl answered loudly. The girl was so insistent that she didn’t understand the word “kind” that she never did write anything on her paper while I was there. And a discussion with the teacher later reassured me that the little girl really didn’t understand what the word “kind” meant, especially in a pragmatic sense.

Could it be that this young lady in the sixth grade had never encountered an act of kindness? And if she had never encountered such an act, how could she return what she had never been offered? How does one learn kindness? I would expect first and foremost kindness must be shown to those who would learn it.

Kindness is not just something that you do, it is something you offer after you have been taught, and I would presuppose mostly by example, found in the attitude of someone whop is truly kind in heart and intention. And since this little girl did not understand the definition of kindness, nor could she come up with anything to write about kindness on her school assignments, I would suppose that the parents were evidently not terribly kind, and certainly not teaching their children the meaning of kindness, which probably comes most often by example.

When was the last time you went out of your way to be kind to someone less fortunate than yourself? Who has learned the act of kindness from your example? Do you know what it means to be kind? Have you made certain that your children understand the meaning of kindness? What a different world this would be if everyone were kind.

It would seem to me that in all things we are required more than anything else to be kind first. No matter how badly someone hurts you or how offended by someone you might be, isn’t the wisest road of action always to be kind first, even in dealing with some of the worst situations. So many people are wounded, hurting, not knowing why life has treated them the way it does, and only seek a kind word from someone who can ease some of the pain.

No matter how offensive someone is, the best defense is always kindness. Being kind is not always easy, but it is never put under repute, as is anger and fear and hostility. “Be ye kind, one to another.” Is not just a suggestion. It is a command. And in doing so, we give an example to those who are watching us that often reverberates into their life and action, simply because they first saw the kindness coming from you.

Kindness is contagious.  Be kind, and in showing kindness, you bring an example that is followed by many who saw your kindness, and they too begin to share the kindness that they have seen you activate. And the activation of kindness can stop wars.
“Love is Kind.” (I Corinthians 13:4)

Better Decisions for a New Year

Prepare yourself to make better decisions in 2014

Welcome, Willkommen, Bienvenu 2014.  Never thought you would make it, but here we are.  And it’s time for better decisions for a New Year!

Millions of people have no idea who they are or why they are here. So many of us wander in mental oblivion, making wrong decisions and watching our world crumble before our eyes, and not even knowing why. If you need statistics, all you have to do is examine the number of divorces in your county (approximately 2 out of 3 marriages end in divorce), number of murders in the past six months, assaults by juvenile delinquents who are being brought up by confused parents who have no idea how to raise their children, theft and robberies, war, and I could go on and on, and so could you. No one who gets married expects a divorce.  No one who gives birth expects their child to be a delinquent.  So what is the problem?  It is the refusal through trial and error to make decisions and learn from our wrong decisions how to make and perform the right choice.  And of course, the results reveal that all of this is unsuccessful decision making. A simple examination of who you are and why you are making wrong decisions could turn this troubling trend around in no time, and sometimes the solution is no further than a simple change of your mind.

One of our biggest problems is that we assume everything is going to turn out all right without any planning or making of definite decisions that affect our future and the future of those who depend on us.  The essence of Critical Living is making decisions, and too many of us think that we can avoid these decisions, simply because we do not have the courage to say “Yes” or “No.”  It’s time for us to step up to the plate and take our personal swing at the ball.

Before you even begin to wrestle with the process of making successful decisions, you need to understand your goals. What do you want to accomplish? Where are you trying to go? It is your goal that will determine your behavior, and if your goal is wrong, is it possible that you need to change your goal? And you spend your time and your life at the place that you have targeted as a goal.

If your goal is to rob a bank, (don’t be stupid!) you may spend a lot of time at that bank studying the activity so you know how to rob it. If your desire is to get a college degree, you will spend a lot of time at the college getting the credits that make it possible to get your degree. If your goal is to get a significant other, you will spend time getting to know the person in which you find an interest. Whatever your goal determines your behavior. If you have not clarified your goal, then you are wandering in a world of personal emptiness, uncertain what target you are supposed to hit.  And like a boat without a rudder, you wander in a mindless sea.  At least if you made a wrong decision, you could learn from it and get direction.  Most of us have no personal direction.  Go to work; go home; eat supper; watch TV; go to bed.  No goals, no reason to live.  If you don’t make a comprehensive plan to make more money than you are making right now, you will make the same amount or less than what you are presently making.

Don’t you want to do better next year?  Don’t you need a plan?

You must match your goals to the decision you are making, determining first if your goal is worthwhile, and then why there are problems that need decisions because of the activity that is bringing you to your goals. And now you are ready to deal with the problem by going through the decision process.  Expert decision makers can go through this process quickly and solve many problems, both theirs and others, and they become known for their wisdom. Too many people rely on impulse or intuition to make their decisions, which ultimately causes us to experience divorce, or delinquency, or war. And many besides just the decision makers live with the consequences. If we walk before we run, if we slow ourselves down to determine the good and bad of what we are about to do, and why we are about to do it, then we can greatly improve our activity and the quality of our life. Now you are ready to begin the Decision-making Process.

What do you want to do, and why is it causing you problems? Why is there a decision necessary, and what methods are you going to take to get there? Do you want a significant other? Do you want more romance? Do you want a close friendship, or more social life? Are you unhappy with your job? Would a raise in pay solve that problem, and if you determine that such is the case, what are you doing to make certain you deserve a raise? Are you using your talents, and why or why not? Where is your passion? Where are you unhappy and why do you need to make a decision in the first place? These basic questions are all decisions that must be made in the midst of problems that you face, and if you are not asking these questions, you are riding on your impulse alone, and though that may work sometimes, it will more often make you perplexed and frustrated. There are many ways to define a problem that you probably have not ventured, and the more specific you become about the problem, the more accurate you will be in making a proper decision to eliminate the problem.

And part of your success is based in the morality of the decision you are trying to make.  Experience has probably already told you that there is always more than one way to solve a problem, and not all of these routes are right or healthy. If you are poor, there are many ways that you can try to get rich, but some of the decisions many people make to get their newfound money are neither healthy nor morally right. And one of the greatest ways to help you make a decision is to study your own passions and desires, and to understand where your talents want to take you. If you follow your passion, you will be doing what you want, and what your own life is saying to your psyche. College Students that come to me wanting to know what College Major they should study to get a degree always hear me ask the most important question: “What do your talents tell you about yourself?” If you are poor in math, you shouldn’t be an accountant. If you have an excellent singing voice, and you enjoy singing, you should consider making a living with your talent, whatever it is.

Are you making a properly balanced choice that will guide your life because you are educated in your possible solutions, or are you just taking a guess and a gamble and seeing what happens? If I ask you, “What are your talents?” do you have an educated answer? If there is a career that you want to pursue, do you know what education is required so that you can get that career? If as a parent you are having trouble raising your child, have you ever gone to a seminar on Parent-training skills? Are you aware of the education available to help you become a better parent? These solutions need to be researched. If you are not doing your homework, you’re going to fail the test of life.

And just because you have done the research, you still have to supply the input as to what is better or worse for the decision-making process. You must honestly ask questions objectively and see where your research takes you. Maybe you have a talent for math, but you still hate the idea of being an accountant. You have to pay attention to yourself and the advantages as well as the personal disadvantages to make your decisions properly.

Sometimes even a “best choice” is temporary, depending on the circumstances, and that means that the choice will only work for a period of time. There are very few permanent decisions. In fact, believing that a decision is permanent is usually fatal. Getting married and assuming marriage is going to be permanent no matter what is almost always fatal. We can lose it if we don’t make the decision to refresh our marriage every day. Every new day of our job needs to be refreshing, and any relationship without fresh decisions is almost always fatal.

There are short term goals and long term goals, and we must identify which is which, and how each applies to our situation, or situations, as the case may be. Each plan, each decision, is simply a starting point for living right, for making proper decisions, for making your life what you want it to be.

Be creative: Search your options and make a decision. Change them as they need to be refreshed, and learn to live happy and in the wisdom of making right and proper decisions.
And have a great new year.

Japanese Rice Art

Honoring your heroes

Honoring the Heroes of the Past

The dictionaries are not very precise when it comes to formulating a clear description for art and that is probably smart as art is an expression in the eye of the beholder and definitions for the word are as as diverse as the expressions.

Art does not necessarily have to be equated with time or ages. These days and probably for all of human history, Art is often seasonal or even momentary. We cannot question the art of the coffee shop barista when he or she paints a portrait in the foam of your cappuccino. Even though the enjoyment is very personal and consumed in a matter of minutes.

I have admired many artforms over the course of 50 years, and always found it fabulously special when it concerned a fine-tuned study of cooperation between nature and man. A balance of timing, talent and precision.

Look at these Japanese rice fields and how they transform over the period of one harvest season. When the farmers are planting the rice plants, nothing unusual shows. But as the growing season moves forward, an incredible spectacle of beauty unfolds on a magnificent scale, as the fields turn into Rembrandts and van Goghs of Japanese culture and heritage.

But these artists don’t use paint or toners; they use rice plants.

For thousands of years already Japanese Rice farmers plant various rice specimen, carefully adhering to huge scale images, unveiling enormous paintings by the time harvest season comes around.
Nourishment for mind and body, a true human accomplishment.

Why Am I Doing This?

New York Cab driver takes old lady around town

A last ride around the city

I have been writing for the better part of  40 years and in the past fifteen, most of my writing involved deadlines. So about 6 months ago my inner rebel became agitated with a constantly increasing workload, topped off with deadlines that were slowly strangling my creativity resulting in bouts of performance anxiety.

Consequently I have decided to henceforth studiously avoid hard deadlines, since I can’t seem to wrestle myself loose from the joy of being involved in many different areas of life. Now please don’t get me wrong: I love writing and I love’d taking this little website that was meant as a little tribute to the island to a previous readership that toppled 2 million visitors a months in its heyday.

I loved and love my regular correspondence and interactions with so many dear readers from around the globe. Daily I answer emails about my take on Greece being in charge of the European Union for the next year, what’s happening in Buenos Aires where they are starting to pay the price again of 70 years of ruling by the Peronistas and how Washington is rapidly completing its agenda to turn this country socialist. The signs were on the wall years ago when I started writing and they are just becoming a bit clearer year after year. “Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be “;  Doris Day sang it in 1956 I believe. I took me 50 years to learn that this is different than what we mean today with “it is what it is”.

So over the holidays I came to the conclusion that my desired lifestyle scenario to dedicate as much of the rest of my life as possible to my family and searching for passions, playing music, travel and reading,…..serious deadlines could no longer be in the picture.

And then…. I read this story about a New York cabby, sent to me by a friend in England, with whom I have an ongoing online debate/discussion about the loss of civility, friendliness, courtesies, respect and compassion, and now I know…….. I Can’t Quit writing and sharing the human endeavor, the shortcomings and the victories. It’s where humanity is born….

A NYC Taxi driver wrote:
I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be the last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked..
‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.
There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.
She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her.. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’
‘Oh, you’re such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’
‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly..
‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice. ‘The doctor says I don’t have very long.’

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.
Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said: ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now’.
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.
Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse.
‘Nothing,’ I said
‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.
‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.
‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’
I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life..

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.
We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.
But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

Stories like these hit me square in the chest every time I think we are losing our grip on life’s purpose. They show that not all is lost; that not all is self serving greed. This is just one story of the handful or more I get every day in my inbox, that can be shared without feeling like deadlines and commitments, but as healing contributions to our journey.

SearchAmelia may be less of a news website with confrontational perspectives from here on, but it will share stories and show pictures that confirm the everyday uniqueness of the human experience, whether humorous, opinioned or sad.

Happy New Year

Why Everybody loves Christmas!!

the library christmas tree

This Library Christmas Tree Should Take me through a year of Reading

It is said that Everybody loves Christmas. Some of that comes from the surprise of the presents we get. Some of it comes from the togetherness with family and friends and some of it comes from the cozy atmosphere created in TV commercials and store windows.  But most of all it comes from a special spirit that envelopes us and makes Christmas so much as cherish all the presents and surprises, or so one would hope.

We all love presence, yet we don’t always like what is happening to us in the present. In the here and now. That may be a mistake. Your present time, your presence, is a gift to enjoy and make it last for the time that it is given. We should all be grateful that we are alive and given the opportunity to make the world a better place, Leave a lasting positive mark. So far this year no one went further with the spirit of surprising, than the good folks at WestJet Airlines as you can see in this video.

The greatest enemy to living in the moment and making things work for you are the memories of the past and the lingering hopes for the future, and things that happen in our mind that never actually occur. So many of us are bogged down by the bad things that have happened to us, and our mind set is that we remain a victim to those things that happened. You are only a victim as long as you allow yourself to be, or even worse, as long as you make yourself one.

There are people who revel in being a victim, because that’s all they’ve ever known, they are comfortable in their habits, and they have committed their lives to staying in misery as long as they live. Don’t be one of those people. Don’t be stuck milling over a painful world that you went through, and therefore have no future. And the other great enemy of your happiness is what can happen in the future. Some people live their lives dreaming of what might be that never comes. There are people who are living for the day they win that lottery, and every night they sit in front of the TV with great anticipation hoping that their numbers will come in, while their bills continue to mount. There is nothing wrong with playing the lottery, but meanwhile, getting a good job that will pay your bills is far more pragmatic.

Living must be an active process, and if you don’t keep up with it, it will take you down. Living is growing, changing, circulating your vitals and finding new worlds while you change the old ones. Living is actively getting off your butt and into the mess, learning, moving, becoming a force in yourself instead of being taken over by it.  Sit in that miserable job for years and accept that comfortable paycheck and one day you realize that life has passed you by. Stay in that miserable marriage without doing something about it and one day you realize that life is passing you by. Time waits for no man, and as time goes by, you suddenly see that you have wasted what could have been active choices and abundant living. You are only given your life once, and that’s why today is called “the present.” Take your present, unwrap it and enjoy it.

There is only one way to overcome the inheritance of a bad past or the hopeless end of a future that never comes, and that is to live in the “Now”, to enjoy the present in all its glory. In fact, it is only by living in the present that you have any power to make your life and the lives of those around you better. If you live in the past, you live in a world that no longer exists, except that you are giving the past power that it never had over you. By reliving it, it makes you and everyone around you miserable again with whatever it was that happened then, that makes you so unhappy. And if you live in the future, you definitely live in a world that doesn’t exist, and who knows what is going to happen then, although you can be pretty certain that it will not be what you think.

Living in the present gives you power to do something about your life and the lives of others around you. You can activate choice, and you can do it immediately. You can chose to motivate yourself, to move out into that cruel world and make it better. If you need to get a better job, now is the time. If you need to love your kids, now is the time. If you need to get a better understanding of life, now is the time. If you need to make amends with some of your friends, now is the time. If you need to enjoy their company, now is the time. If that car needs fixing, now is the time. If you need a better place to live, now is the time. If you need to get out of that unhappy relationship, now is the time. You are not going to live forever. In fact, the only thing you know for sure is that you are living right now. So start living!

What are you waiting for? To win the lottery? Are you waiting for your children to get better? Are you waiting for more money to fall from out of the sky, or for the moment when you will finally forget some poor memories, or for Prince Charming to come along on his horse and scoop you up and take you to his castle? Well, it’s not going to happen until you make it happen.

So make it happen! Stop whatever it is you’re doing for a moment and listen to the wind in the trees. Watch how they sway, how they enjoy the breeze, how they take in every moment without worry and enjoy their existence. Look at the clouds and see their glory: They revel in their existence. Listen to the people around you that are within earshot: Those are the people you need to interact with right now, those are the people who need your help or maybe just attention! Help them. Stop thinking about how you were such a victim in the past. Get into the present and grab your time. Don’t worry about what problems you might face in the future. Instead, take the Power of Now and influence that future to be in your favor by the choices you make today, right now. The greatest power of the present is its ability to influence the future by the choices you make today. So get into the present and decide what you want to do, what you need to do, and do it, NOW

Remembering the Clothesline

Remembering the ClotheslineI found myself using an outdoor clothesline this past year and realized many youngsters had never seen one before.

When my mother sent me the following email, I thought it would be fun to share for a leisure Sunday read. The original author is unknown.

Remembering Mom’s Clothesline
1. You had to hang the socks by the toes… NOT the top.

2. You hung pants by the BOTTOM/cuffs… NOT the waistbands.

3. You had to WASH the clothesline(s) before hanging any clothes – walk the entire length of each line with a damp cloth around the lines.

4. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order, and always hang “whites” with “whites,” and hang them first.

5. You NEVER hung a shirt by the shoulders – always by the tail! What would the neighbors think?

6. Wash day on a Monday! NEVER hang clothes on the weekend, or on Sunday, for Heaven’s sake!

7. Hang the sheets and towels on the OUTSIDE lines so you could hide your “unmentionables” in the middle.

8. It didn’t matter if it was sub-zero weather… clothes would “freeze-dry.”

9. ALWAYS gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes! Pins left on the lines were “tacky”!

10. If you were efficient, you would line the clothes up so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one of the clothes pins with the next washed item.

11. Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket, and ready to be ironed.

IRONED? Well, that’s a whole OTHER subject!

And now a POEM…

A clothesline was a news forecast, to neighbors passing by,
There were no secrets you could keep, when clothes were hung to dry.
It also was a friendly link, for neighbors always knew
If company had stopped on by, to spend a night or two.

For then you’d see the “fancy sheets”, and towels upon the line;
You’d see the “company table cloths”, with intricate designs.
The line announced a baby’s birth, from folks who lived inside,
As brand new infant clothes and diapers were hung, so carefully with pride!

The ages of the children could, so readily be known
By watching how the sizes changed, you’d know how much they’d grown!
It also told when illness struck, as extra sheets were hung;
Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe too, haphazardly were strung.

It also said, “On vacation now”, when lines hung limp and bare.
It told, “We’re back!” when full lines sagged, with not an inch to spare!
New folks in town were scorned upon, if wash was dingy and gray,
As neighbors carefully raised their brows, and looked the other way.

But clotheslines now are of the past, for dryers make work much less.
Now what goes on inside a home, is anybody’s guess!
I really miss that way of life, it was a friendly sign
When neighbors knew each other best… by what hung on the line.

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Give the Gift of Service

Give the Gift of ServiceHave you been looking to fill a void in your soul this holiday season? Well, you may want to consider giving the gift of service.

Sometimes the greatest gift you can give is service to others.

Our community is filled with volunteer organizations that can use your time, and your talents.

Here are just a few ideas:
Helping Joy to the Children on Christmas Day
Feeding the cats at Cats Angels
Fostering or walking the dogs at the Nassau Humane Society
Assist a local teacher in the classroom.
Help with the Book Sales that benefit our local library.
Teach a Sunday School Class

I saw somewhere recently that if you read to a child for only three hours a week it makes a huge improvement to their reading skills.

Many of the agencies and phone numbers for some wonderful organizations, located in Nassau County, Florida, are listed on the Volunteer Nassau website. Groups like local theatres, schools, art associations, pet advocates and more can be found HERE.

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What are the Rules to a Gunfight?

What are the Rules to a Gunfight?With many of my female friends getting their concealed weapons permits lately, I’ve read (and discussed) lots of options for the “rules” when you decide to pull your weapon.

The average response time of a 911 call is 23 minutes; the response time of a .357 is 1400 feet per second.

Here are some rules my mom received when she recently received her own concealed weapons permit:

-Guns have only two enemies: rust and politicians.
-It’s always better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6
-Cops carry guns to protect themselves and you.
-Never let someone or something that threatens you get inside your arm’s length.
-Never say, “I’ve got a gun.” If you need to use deadly force, the first sound they hear should be the safety clicking off.
-You can say ‘stop’ or any other word, but a large bore muzzle pointed at someone’s head is pretty much a universal language.
-You cannot save the planet, but you may be able to save yourself and your family.

“History is written by the victors”
-Winston Churchill-

-If you’re not shooting, you should be loading.
-If you’re not loading, you should be moving.
-If you’re not moving, you’re dead.
-Always win! There is no such thing as a fair fight.
-Make your attacker advance through a wall of bullets… you may get killed with your own gun, but he’ll have to beat you to death with it, ’cause it will be empty.
-In a life and death situation, do something … it may be wrong, but do something!
-Never leave an enemy behind. If you have to shoot, shoot to kill. In court, yours will be the only testimony.

“Peace is that brief glorious moment in history, when everybody stands around reloading”
-Thomas Jefferson-

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How are you preparing your child to trust Gut Feelings?

Hunches Represent the Total Sum of our Wisdom

Hunches Represent the Total Sum of our Wisdom

We all have ‘gut feelings.’ Some of us just seem to recognize their presence more often than others do. Some even go a step further and actually learn to trust their gut feelings, using them as an internal personal assistant which helps in decision making. Having had many conversations with clients who come to me for mental training, I have been pleasantly surprised to find that most women and men admit to recognizing they have gut feelings. You can call it preconceived ideas, but I have been most surprised to hear so many of my male clients admit to having gut feelings. Because, basically, admitting to having gut feelings is like admitting to having intuition.

Wiktionary.org defines ‘gut feelings’ as ‘an instinct or intuition; an immediate or basic feeling or reaction without a logical rationale.’ Wikipedia.org immediately redirects the reader to ‘intuition,’ then defines it as ‘the apparent ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason.’ It continues to say, ‘Typically, intuition is regarded as a conscient commonality between earthly knowledge and the higher spiritual knowledge and appears as flashes of insight.’
So, when I hear a person admit to being aware of gut feelings, to me, he is admitting to recognizing he has intuition.

Who admits to using gut feelings?

Police officers can have a gut feeling that a suspect is holding a weapon or narcotic substances. A woman dating can have gut feelings regarding her safety when around a man she is meeting. A business man meeting a prospective partner can get a sense of that person’s intentions.
What a person is aware of is the fact that there is an internal feeling, be it positive or negative in nature, which signals to a person that what one is thinking, doing, or about to do is either conducive or not conducive to who one is or what one’s intentions are. This beacon reacts instantaneously and automatically, it is a signal emitted from a part of you which is incredibly wise and acutely aware of who you are, where you are (your present), where you have been (all your past experiences and what you have learned), and where you want to go (your desires for your future). It also has the impressive ability to immediately adapt when circumstances change, whether they are in thought, actions or one’s environment. Even though many recognize the presence of gut feelings, it is hard for a person to recognize the full extent of their power, as most have yet to trust them, let alone use them to assist one through life. We are born with and possess an intricate, highly efficient internal guidance system.
No man-made contraption comes close in its functioning or capabilities to that of a human internal guidance system. But still, let’s have a look at one invention which is similar in its function… a missile guidance system.

There are many different kinds of missile guidance systems, but, basically, the technology guides a missile to an intended target. That target can be moving or fixed. When the intention is to hit a target which is moving, the guidance system has three components: a target tracker, a missile tracker, and a guidance computer. One tracker must find and follow a target no matter where it goes. Another tracker must assess the where-abouts of the missile itself and the trajectory of its flight path. Then, a guidance computer, which has been programmed with the mission, must continually gather data and make necessary adjustments to the missile’s course. To reach the target efficiently and effectively, the following information is vital: What is the target, where is it at? Is the target fixed or moving? Where is the missile compared to the target? What path would be most efficient in getting the missile to the target?

Now let us relate this to our human guidance system. What is your target… your current desires, goals, and intentions for your life (these are based on the uniqueness of who you are, your preferences)? The target is moving because as you evolve and, as your life unfolds, you will find that your desires, goals, and intentions for your life evolve as well.
At the present moment, where are you in life compared to your current desires, goals, and intentions? What path and choices are most appropriate for you to accomplish your current desires, goals, and intentions; to live your ideal life, to live a life filled with joy? Your personal and unique guidance system offers you positive feelings when you are on the ‘right’ path for your present-day intentions, desires, and goals; and offers you negative feelings when you are off the path which is most suitable to your current intentions, desires, and goals.

Are you ready to make use of your highly qualified, efficient, dependable internal personal assistant? The first step is to define your target. Get to know yourself. Outline your current intentions, desires, and goals. Then, you can practice being awake and aware of your gut feelings. Start to trust them and make some decisions based on their guidance. Commit to the process, as it does take time and effort.

Once you understand and begin to practice these skills, pass the knowledge onto your children. Teaching them from a young age how powerful they are, how to be awake to their uniqueness and preferences, how to have goals and direction, how to look inward for their answers, and how to trust themselves and their natural, instinctual gut feelings which are always there to guide them through life.
Live In-Joy

Christmas Spirit

Mamma Cat Saves the Day

I was trying to find an appropriately humorous Christmas joke when I ran across this incredibly touching video about a mother cat in the Ukraine, who stopped for nothing to get her baby safely back home. For someone like me, who has no children of his own, the intensity of  a bond between a mother and her children has always been slightly mysterious and admittedly sometimes head-shakingly confusing. This little feline mother and her offspring has opened my eyes.

She never once wavered in the determination of what she needed to do. There was only one way to get back to safety for her child. And that’s what she focused on. Watch it. It’ll warm up your Christmas spirit.

Jaguars Foundation Supports Brunswick Teen Center

Jaguars Foundation Supports Brunswick Teen Center

By Stan Cottle

Amelia Island, FL – A grant from the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation is making it possible for teens to learn life skills in a new way.

In November, 2013, the innovative In Search of Me Café life skills program begins helping teens at the Elizabeth F. Correll Teen Center (ECTC) in Brunswick, Georgia.

“Through our JAGS Teen Talk program, the Jaguars Foundation promotes venues, such as In Search of Me Café, that support teens in making positive choices that lead to success, and avoid the pitfalls of risky behavior and poor choices that are obstacles to being successful.”
Peter M. Racine, President
Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation

The ECTC, a unit of the Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Georgia, is a state-of-the-art, purpose-built teen center that serves approximately 120 teens. The facility offers teens a wide range of enrichment opportunities including tutoring, leadership development, and with the addition of the In Search of Me Café program, life skills learning.

In Search of Me Café is a comprehensive, interactive, media-rich life skills learning program that helps today’s teens address problems, communicate thoughts and ideas in a like-minded social network, and seek outside help in finding solutions to issues such as bullying, peer pressure, self esteem, substance abuse, underage drinking and more.

Content for the curriculum-based program lives on a robust website that can be viewed at www.InSearchOfMeCafe.org.

Teens who participate in the In Search of Me Café program will learn how to approach difficult issues by asking questions and using the program’s content and resource links to discover they have the power to solve their own problems. The program intends to help teens live more productive lives, thereby reducing the substantial social and economic burden for communities in the future.

“We feel the best way to help teens manage their problems and prepare for focused, productive and fulfilling lives is to provide them with age specific, peer-to-peer methods for helping themselves.”
Stan Cottle, Founder/Director
In Search of Me, Inc.

In Search of Me Café is managed and operated by In Search of Me, Inc. a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation based in Florida. To learn how you can help teens, contact Stan Cottle at 904-476-4302, ccomstan@gmail.com or visit www.InSearchOfMeCafe.org.

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Authors Salute the U.S. Military with FREE Books

Authors Salute the U.S. Military with FREE BooksJacksonville, FL – To honor the men and women in uniform, and their spouses, the thriller-writing team of Gary Williams and Vicky Knerly are donating copies of their e-books to all active and retired members of the U.S. military, and their spouses, during this Holiday season.

“We wanted to recognize all the brave men and women who have served in the U.S. military and their spouses for the sacrifices they have made and will continue to make. We are a free country because of your unending dedication, commitment, and support. Please enjoy our stories and know that you have our heartfelt gratitude.” – Gary Williams & Vicky Knerly

Beginning November 18 and continuing through January 1, service members and their spouses can download FREE copies of novels by Williams and Knerly: Death in the Beginning, Three Keys to Murder, Before the Proof, and Manipulation, by going to:


…where download instructions are displayed.

About the authors:
Gary Williams lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with his wife and children. Williams has a bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing and writes full time. His father and two uncles served in the military during World War II. One uncle, Audre W. Markham, paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Vicky Knerly is a native of Syracuse, New York, has two sons, and resides on St. Simons Island, Georgia. Knerly has a bachelor’s degree in English and two masters’ degrees. She has won awards for her research-based writing, and works for a private university based in Melbourne, Florida, where she also teaches as an adjunct professor.

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The Seven Wonders of the World

Six Senses and the Power to Combine them

We all grew up with a vague impression of what constituted the Seven Wonders of the World. From history and geography lessons we learned that Egypt’s Pyramids were somehow part of it and then there was the Grand Canyon and the Wall of China.

Some of us got confused between whether or not The Eiffel Tower was one of them and since the habit of naming the Seven Wonders of the World dated back to our early public school system, we were fairly certain the Panama Canal and Rome’s St.Pieter had been added at some point.

So when a teacher in the Netherlands in her annual quest for the Seven Wonders, asked her students to each make a list of 7 sites, the answers she collected back with few exceptions returned pretty much the same order as it has done for decades:

1. Egypt’s Pyramids
2. The Taj Mahal
3. The Grand Canyon
4. The Panama Canal
5. The Empire State Building
6. The St.Peter’s Basilica in Rome
7. The Great Wall of China

And while collecting the sheets the teacher noticed that one girl was still bent over her paper, so she asked if she could help her. “Well it’s difficult,” the student said, “there are so many wonders of the world.”

Okay said the teacher, up for a challenge that would take the class away from the obvious outcome: “Tell us what you’re thinking off and let’s see if we can help you value them as wonders of the world.”

The girl hesitantly replied: “Well I think the 7 Wonders of the World are:
1. Seeing
2. Hearing
3. Feeling
4. Tasting
5. Smelling
6. Smiling and
7. Loving

The entire class broke out in silence and deep consideration when she added: “All these ‘things’ are so simple and unassuming, that we too easily forget how magical they are.” The most valuable things in life cannot be built or bought.

Remembering my own experience some 55 years ago when classroom confronted with the results of the list for the Seven Wonders of the World, I recall asking: “why is the Grand Canyon on the list“. Not because it is not a magnificent panorama, but because I figured it was the only one on the list not man-made! My teacher had called it a smart observation. Looking back I wished I had had the wisdom of understanding life’s simplicity and beauty like this little girl.
A beautiful message to share and appreciate before the Holiday Season once again will lure us into massive spending on “stuff” we don’t need.