Saturday, December 31, 2016

Welcome 2017!

It is hard to believe it is here!  Do you have big plans to welcome the magnanimous 2017?  I will be slipping into a beautiful black velvet dress, new heels and spending the night on the town celebrating like a big girl.  Last year I think I slept through the New Year! 

Although I am not ready to get back to the grind on Monday, I am ready for 2017.  I have spent a lot of time looking at my world and my life and I am ready to start making me the best version of myself this year.  I know I won't be perfect, but I want to stretch my talents and God given gifts and use them in a way that He intended.  I am a strong lady and when I look back on my life I realize I never gave that much value.  Boy,  I was wrong to discount that trait!  No more...I am going to begin writing my story right here and now and though it won't be perfect, it will be beautiful.  I hope you can decide to start a new Chapter....or even a brand new book... in your story and create the life you want!

Happy, happy New Year and I hope you find abiding joy through all of life's ups and downs. 


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Bringing back Frugal Friday!

I used to do posts on Southern Somedays for Frugal Fridays, but obviously since I have had trouble even posting regularly and my life has changed quite a bit since those days, I haven't kept up with that.  No better time that the New Year to bring back "Frugal Friday!"  Hopefully, that will encourage me to at least post regularly, not to mention help me keep my focus on living more simply and living more with less.

As 2017 is upon us, part of my New Year's commitment is to continue to grow in my financial knowledge.  I freely admit that I have been a complete and total flop with finances...but, I am learning, growing and improving! I have already been taking classes in personal finance and budgeting.  In 2017 I want to continue that trend and pay down debt and increase savings in any way possible.  Some of those steps are baby steps which may seem silly, but every step helps. 
 
Any one else planning a Frugalista Lifestyle for the New Year
and what is the 1st thing you are going to tackle?
 



I am going to the Chapel and I am going to....

Explore!
Did you think I meant something else?😏
 
If you know me well, you know I  like to find out-of-the-way spots to explore.  I was taking a walk in Williamson Park this week and stumbled upon just one of those gems.  Williamson Park is a gem in itself that not many locals seem to realize is just around the corner, but I love to walk there.  On this particular walk though, I noticed something across the road from the park that I had somehow always missed. I am not really sure how I missed it, but right there, across the street was the above sign...covered in vines with a broken entry way that just called my name.
 
Who could resist???
 Although, sadly the Little Chapel is not structurally sound, I still got a peek inside and could see the indentions left from praying knees on the kneeling bench and the tiny pulpit.  Although, in sad condition, it was still had a little magic and was like being dropped into fairy land. 
 This little place is surrounded by Cypress Knees that I am sure are inhabited by the gnomes and fairies that make sparkle and day dreams!
 


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

How 5 years can change the world...

Today is a day when I need to write, need to spill words out somewhere. Emotions are thick and my mind swirls with thoughts, memories, dreams and questions.  Today is a day that brings me haunting memories and also great blessings. 

5 years ago, I almost lost one of my children.  I don't mean there was a close call, I mean I saw the life leaving his body as he lay on the ground among wet, cold, muddy leaves.  I still can remember what his blue face looked like and  the awful gurgling that came from his lungs as his life slipped away.  They say time heals all things...no, it doesn't. These are the haunting memories.

I know that God reached down and breathed life into my dying child that cold, rainy day.  There is no other explanation. Today, that same child, went alone for hours exploring with our dog.  Tonight he went to the movies with his big brother.  Just a moment ago he towered almost 9 full inches over me as he reach down to hug me and tell me he loved me and good night. He is now upstairs reading something way over my head.  Those are the great blessings. 

I stood at the sea shore today, something I promise myself I will do more of each year and I don't. I needed to go today to seek the magical healing of the waves and the salt air.  I am not sure if I found that healing but I did find my heart feeling more than I would have liked and my reserves pushed. I was looking for something...it wasn't there.  I wanted to cry, but I didn't. I head into 2017 in many ways the same as last year, though my thoughts and feelings are clearer.  The last few days of 2016 will be spent recalibrating myself and my heart and fortifying my foundation.

Today reminded me to hold onto what is true and solid, focusing on God's great gifts. I have learned that life is not kind but still there is so much to be thankful for and I am living thankfully...in all circumstances. If you find yourself walking the seashore you may very well find me there again staring out and seeking before the year truly ends. Hold on....

Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Psalm 25:5 (NIV)


Friday, December 16, 2016

Our Staff Meeting was a bit Unconventional...

Last weekend was our Division Staff Meeting and in an effort to get in the spirit, our Division Manager decided to host it in Williamsburg, Virginia...at Christmas Town in Busch Gardens!  The weather was cooperative as it felt like snow, even if we didn't get any, but it made the hot cocoa taste sweeter I am sure!
I didn't know this before I went, but Christmas Town in Busch Gardens is the largest light display in North American.  It was really gorgeous and you couldn't help but feel a little bit like a kid with all the lights, music and Christmas spirit swirling around!
 
 
It was cold and I was bundled up!!!
 
I want them to come do the lights in my trees!!!
 
Any one who knows me knows, I am sucker for Christmas music, Christmas movies, Christmas TV shows, Christmas shows in general, so it was so exciting to see a version of White Christmas done on stage since it is one of my FAVORITES!  I even have the soundtrack in the cd player in my car now!  I was really awe struck at how much there was to do and how little time we had to squeeze in all the sights and sounds and RIDES....yes, RIDES....and ones not for the faint of heart....yes, I did ride!:-)
 
So, in wrap up, we did have our Staff Meeting with lots of work and planning to hit 2017 out of the park but it was fun to start out being kids again! #worklife


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I am determined to Praise You In This Storm




To Kill a Mockingbird comes to life close to home...

I love the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, so much so I haven't yet gotten the courage to read the sequel as I don't want it to hurt the illusions I have of the noble characters I found in the original.  Maybe it sounds silly but I get attached to the characters and the escape they provide.  So, you can imagine my excitement when my youngest son landed the part of Jem in "To Kill a Mockingbird" in the Florence Little Theater's recent production.  The show ran for over a week and was sold out each night which I think was telling to what a GREAT production it was.  The entire cast brought Harper Lee's Characters to life in great detail, making you love some and hate others.  The issues of race and injustice were handled in a no nonsense matter and I hope everyone who saw it came out changed just a little as I did when I first read the book.

The entire cast was just fantastic and it was a joy to see them bring this
 important piece of Southern Fiction to life!



 It took many months of preparation and countless hours to bring this play to the stage but I was really proud of how my son kept up with school, debate, tried out and made the basketball team all the while spending late nights rehearsing almost daily at the theater.  Yes...I am biased, but he did GREAT!

 My handsome "Jem" spending time after the play every night sharing and talking the with audience.



Monday, December 5, 2016

A Little Christmas Spirit in the Mountains!


I just returned from a really wonderful weekend getaway.  Yes, it was in a “tourist” destination, which I generally avoid, but a dear friend and I planned this trip last summer for a nice time to steal away with our boys (our youngest are close in age and have a great time together.)  For the first time in my life – though I grew up not too far away – I visited Pigeon Forge, TN!  Indeed, it is filled with lots of touristy things and at night looks more like Myrtle Beach than a mountain town, but the cabin we rented was on top of a secluded mountain top and it was wonderful.  The cabin came complete with pool table (which the boys loved!) and a hot tub on the back deck overlooking the miles of undeveloped forest.  I highly recommend the rental agency if you want to plan a trip.  They were kind and accommodating and the cabin was clean as a whistle!  We used Heartland Cabin Rentals. This a picture of my oh, so cute bedroom, which looked over the tree tops and across the mountains:
The boys spent hours, and countless miles hiking the hills and mountains.  It was nice to see them being boys and thriving in the freedom of nature like I did as a child.  They spent time in the crisp, cool mountain air without Wi-Fi or cords attached and that makes my heart sing.  I got to catch up on some reading and just general down time without the pressure to do anything!
Sadly, this area was impacted earlier in the week by the raging forest fires and many, many families lost their homes, their businesses and their jobs; even more devastating was the loss of lives this community has endured.  The adjacent town of Gatlinburg really took a hit and at an especially busy tourist season. If you feel compelled to help out please do as the community can use all the help possible. You can donate to help the cause here: https://dollywoodfoundation.org/
On Saturday night we took in a Dinner Show at the Dixie Stampede, which turned out to be really cool because it was their Christmas show but if I ever do one of those type of Dinner Theater experiences again...I will bring my own silverware!  The food was good and the show fun and helped out in getting us in the Christmas spirit!

Although, I never thought I would say this…I will be coming back one day to spend more time in a cabin on a mountain top in Tennessee and a roller coaster coming off a mountain and Dollywood are at the top of my To Do lists!