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Storytelling

An Unplanned Journey

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An Unplanned Journey

My husband Steven and I took an unplanned trip to our “old stompin’ ground” in Upstate New York at the beginning of this month. Steven’s father’s health had taken a turn for the worse, and he left this earth in the early morning of April 4. Steven and I journeyed to New York to be with his family, so the trip was bittersweet.

We packed up our van in the rain and drove to West Virginia to my niece Samantha’s house. It was nice seeing her, her husband, and her two little girls that I call my “redheaded fairies.” Those two are just so cute and lively you can’t help but smile when you see them. The following day we headed for Albany, NY, by way of Brook’s B-B-Q in Oneonta, a local favorite you can only get in that area (It’s a must for us whenever we go back to Upstate!). We completed the trip to Albany, (through more rain), and stopped by Steven’s mother Wanda’s place. His sister (Kristen) had arrived from California, so we were able to visit with them for a couple of hours before going on to our hotel.

The next day we found time to go to my brother Joel’s house to have lunch with him, his wife (Donna), and my nephew (Millard). Joel still lives on the property where my father lived as a boy and where my parents raised my siblings and me. All of the original buildings were built in the 1800s and are in rough shape, but it still feels like home. The people on our mountain speak a bit differently than most; I enjoyed being able to speak in the tone, lilt, and vocabulary that I grew up knowing. After lunch, Joel and I walked around the property, and I was able to collect a few relics to take home to North Carolina.

The next few days were spent with Steven’s family making plans. We settled on the obituary write up for the newspaper and a date for the burial ceremony during the summer. It is not uncommon for people in the north to wait for warmer months to bury remains; the frozen ground makes it almost impossible to dig a grave. Steven and I also took some time out to walk around a couple of thrift stores to debrief; sometimes you have to step away.

After several days, it was time for Steven and me to begin the trip back to North Carolina. We said our goodbyes to his family and left Albany. We decided to take a detour and drive past the house Steven grew up in. We were surprised by all of the very interesting changes made to the home and property: buildings were being constructed and several statues were placed on the grounds. A lot was going on; still, the house remained the original dark red color that we were both familiar with.

From there we drove past the country church where Steven and I were married. There it was, still looking the same. About 30 miles later we passed by SUNY Cobleskill, where Steven and I met, & smiled as we drove by. It's been nearly 40 years since we said, "hello" to each other there (and 36 since we said, "I do.")… I think it's gonna work out for us.

Then it was back to my family farm to pick up the relics I had collected. After a brief visit with Joel and Donna, we packed up the van and got back on the road. We spent the day traveling back to West Virginia, spent the night with Samantha’s family, then drove on to Lynchburg, VA to spend a couple of days with Genette (our oldest daughter) and her husband, Abe. Steven and I were glad we stopped there for a couple of days. We are now home again in North Carolina.

There are stories in all that we do; people in our lives, the journeys we take, and the choices we make. Then the day comes when we pass on and leave a space on this earth for someone else.

For now, this time belongs to you and me, so let’s LIVE!!

Dance, sing, go outside, visit friends, call someone, have a smoothie, pick strawberries, collect relics, jump in the water, splash in the rain, play with the redheaded fairies in your life… just don’t pass on without leaving a story behind.

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A Near Impossible Story

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A Near Impossible Story

It snowed on Tuesday, April 2, 2019, in Charlotte, NC!! Gasp!! The daffodils had been blooming for weeks, the tulips had emerged, azaleas were showing their color, peonies were starting to bud… and the snow was coming down. In the words of my people, “who woulda thunk it!!” (I know, I know, all you grammar people out there — but it just doesn’t have the same kind of emphasis when you say, “Who would have considered such a thing?”)

Let us use this event as a life analogy. How many times have you heard something like, “that is completely unlikely,” or “it is so close to impossible that it is never going to happen,” or maybe someone just laughed at you. Well, folks, IT SNOWED IN APRIL IN CHARLOTTE, NC. Spring comes early here, and the possibility of frost up until April 15 is certainly a fair probability, but snow? It didn’t come down for long, and it was gone quickly as the snow turned to rain and the temperature went up to 40 degrees, but it DID snow. Over the weekend, I was wearing capris and a t-shirt, the temperature was close to 80, and the snow was not even a thought for two days in the future, YET it snowed. Sure, it was a little cooler on Monday, and I had to wear a pair of jeans and a denim jacket outside (fluctuation in temperature is to be expected in the spring), but SNOW?

They said, "There is no way it is ever going to snow in Charlotte in April” … but wait, it could happen! Because near to impossible does not mean impossible.

Now you fill in the blank for something in your own life they said would never happen.

They said, “There is no way you are ever going to ________________________” … but wait, it could happen! Because near to impossible does not mean impossible.

Write your own near impossible story.

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Stationery

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Stationery

I have a weakness for beautiful journals, notebooks, planners, stickers, pens… pretty much anything you can find in the stationery aisle. If they served dark chocolate and tea there, I would spend a considerable amount of my day gazing at the lovely items you can find laying on the shelves and hanging on the displays. There are bright colors, perfect points on pencils, fresh ink in the pens, clean unmarked pages; yes, I do love stationery.

I’m not exactly sure why I love new stationery; I certainly don’t need it all. Perhaps it is a symbol of a fresh new start. There is potential in those writing utensils and beautiful books. A new story can be written down. A thought shared, lyrics to a song scribbled, a piece of art blooms on the page. Yes, I think that is it. I see optimism and hope in that aisle, all the way from the on sale 50 cent notebooks, to the colorful sticky notes, to the $50 planners. There is a fresh new beginning there. Oh, and a new beginning deserves beautiful tools.

Why not start something new today? Get a fresh new notebook and a pen that makes you happy — and start. Sure, there will be mistakes along the way, you’ll cross some things out, and eventually you’ll get to the end of the book. BUT don’t worry, there is always a new beginning back in the stationery aisle.

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Irish Heritage

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Irish Heritage

This past weekend we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. I sure hope it was a good day for you. I wore green, did you?

A fair percentage of my heritage is Irish, and I incorporate that heritage into my storytelling. As with many of us, I was not raised specifically in the heritage of my ancestors, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t come from history. It is up to me to learn about those who came before me. I am a storyteller; that is my profession, and as such, I am intrigued by the stories that were told in the countries of my ancestors. I’ve learned a lot of Celtic stories and I include them in my performances. I do not try to speak with the accents of the native lands and I am sure I would not give them justice. I speak with my own tongue, the one that belongs to me. However, passing on the ancient stories of my ancestral lands is important to me. It helps me to know myself and understand the traits I have.

I have a dream to one day go to Ireland. Oh my, I want to see that land with my own eyes. For now, I have the stories; I read them, remember them and carry them in the pocket of my mind… and I desire to share them.

What stories do you have in your mind's pocket? Share them with someone.

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People Watching at Panera

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People Watching at Panera

I've come to Panera Bread to work. As I sit here drinking my tea and eating my cranberry walnut bagel, I am looking at the people around me. One woman sits with her phone in hand as she eats her spaghetti with vegetables and I think, “That must be a new dish here. I don't remember seeing noodles and vegetables on the menu.”

Another woman eats a salad while she reads a book. The cover reads Percy Jackson; I'll have to look that up later. In the far back corner, two women are having lunch together; one has brought in a medium-size clear plastic tote that is half full with papers, along with a tote bag that appears to be heavy with books. Both of the women have a note pad in front of them that they ignore as they eat. In this part of the restaurant, there are only women. But wait — now there is an elderly couple coming into the area. The woman is dressed in all black, including her purse, and carries a blue cane. The man leaves to get beverages and napkins. When he comes back, he spills a little bit of milky coffee. Two bagels are brought to them. They must be on an afternoon date.

A third woman comes in walking quickly and joins the two women with notebooks in the corner. Their body language indicates that they have met before but not developed a friendship. Oh, there it goes: the woman with the tote is giving a presentation to the two other women. The elderly couple eats in silence. At the counter, a mother orders her food while her young daughter, who looks to be about 2 ½ years old, lies on the floor with a kid-protected electronic tablet. The little girl doesn’t want to get up. The mother picks her up.

This has become a great people watching day. They all have stories, and today they all became part of mine.

Hmmm, I wonder if anyone is watching me?

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