Jan 172017
 

It was a beautiful north Florida day. Gentle sunshine. Puffy clouds. No humidity. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate? Besides, our little town never misses an opportunity to rejoice. Festivals. Events. And parades. Lots of parades. Along the parade route, we found a lightly shaded low brick wall — a perfect seat for those of us who rarely remember to carry chairs.

And then these people showed up.

couple holding MLK love sign

As they started to walk by my husband and I smiled and said “hello.” They did too. They set up their chairs beside us and we chatted a little. We talked about their involvement in Compassionate Fernandina.

A combination of “locals” and tourists continued to show up for the parade, some stopping to take their picture, others just saying “hi.” A visiting couple started to walk by and came back. He spoke with a thick accent.

“We need this. We need to be together. We are all too far apart.” He asked to take a picture. Then he spotted our new friend’s hat.

“Korea?” He nodded.

“Me too,” as he moved in for a hug.

For the next several minutes we talked about the island and their visit. Then talk turned to the Steelers. That’s right. Four of the six new friends chatting had lived in Pittsburgh.

“The Steelers won!” he said, beaming.

The parade had made the turn and was headed our way. The six of us moved to the curb to watch. Mr. Sang asked me why the town was hosting a parade and I told him it was in honor of Dr. King’s birthday.

“This is so great!” he said before jumping into the street to capture unobstructed photos of every single marcher.

We went our separate ways reassured that love really is the only force that matters.

 January 17, 2017  Posted by  Happiness 5 Responses »
Oct 112016
 

life jacket zone

Hurricane Matthew was my first big weather adventure in my new home state. YIKES!  What an experience. My online friend Lore Raymond of Women as Visionaries has more than thirty years of experience with Florida weather and, during the storm, reached out to me several times. Although that was reassuring, I especially appreciate the question she posed when we were safely home: What gifts did Hurricane Matthew send your way?

For us there were many. Give me a blizzard any day — I’m a lifelong New Englander and have a pretty good idea of what it will do as well as what needs to happen to stay safe. But this? I felt ignorant and helpless. The first gift was the ability to recognize our inexperience and listen to the warnings. When we left, Matthew was a Category 4 storm headed directly for our little island. We had no idea what we would face upon our return… or even IF we’d be able to return. (I shudder to think what we’d have faced if it had not tired itself out, drifted a few miles east, and become a Cat 2!)

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Favorite Husband and I packed up a few changes of clothing, our dogs, my laptop and a few books. Evacuation sure helps get priorities in order in a hurry. We headed west where we were able to connect with my son and my sister.

Western Floridians greeted us with incredible hospitality, generosity, and compassion. They’d gotten beat up by Hermine just 3 weeks ago; its memory was close to the surface. We were comfortable, safe and able to monitor island events through a combination of texts (both personal and from the Office of Emergency Management), social media and an occasional news broadcast.

You call those gifts?

Yes. But wait… there’s more! We spent time together as a family and connected with other evacuees from the island. We made some new friends and explored a new city.

And back home on the island? I feel a stronger bond  and a closer connection with my new home and everyone who lives here. Hurricane Matthew brought out the best in so many. I have mad respect for the utility company and our local first responders (who, by the way, waited at the bottom of the bridge and waved “welcome home” to those who were able to return late Saturday afternoon).

And, of course, there were our four-legged evacuees who, most likely, will get a post of their own.

Overall? I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and ready for a nap. Much love.

canine-evacuees

 

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How to support relief efforts in Haiti.

Resources to support hurricane relief in North Carolina.

 October 11, 2016  Posted by  Happiness, Self care, Special Topics 10 Responses »
Oct 052016
 

Did you ever have “one of those weeks?” Home repairs, hurricanes, health… and don’t get me started on politics. Yikes! Some days are just harder to love than others, aren’t they? Yet, no matter the challenge, my best teachers have always found a way to let me know: no matter what we’re looking at, there’s always one answer that’s better than the rest. Yup. No matter what the question? Love is the answer. Gratitude is a close second.

So I’m off to appreciate the progress we have on home repairs. (They are better than where we started and will never really be done, will they?) I’m packing “go” bags and, with the beloveds, headed for higher ground. (I’m trying to look at it as a little vacation.) And, heck, most of us could benefit from tweaking some of our personal health habits, couldn’t we? It’s time to start viewing these changes as a privilege rather than a burden.

One of the things I do when I need an attitude adjustment is to read thoughts that are better than the ones I’m having. Here are a few that I’m using today…. and, of course, I’d love to see yours in the comments.
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“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.,

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”― Elie Wiesel

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“One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.”― Paulo Coelho

“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow–this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.”– Elizabeth Gilbert

 

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 “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”– Maya Angelou

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In a related note, Andrea Patten managed to love her inner editor for long enough to publish  The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head a little book full of big ideas about how — and why — you can learn to love “that voice.”   The Inner Critic Advantage is now available on Amazon.

 October 5, 2016  Posted by  Happiness 13 Responses »