I Lost My Rudder!

Yep, my rudder is gone! No I didn’t loose her. She died in June and I am still in shock!

That was hard to write. Writing it makes it real! 

My person has died. 


Cancers sucks! 

I do lots of trainings for Infant and Toddler teachers about the importance of attachment and the importance of healthy attachments versus anxious and avoidant and dare I say disorganized attachment style!

I ask folks in these trainings, “who do you call when you are in distress?” Many folks respond that they call their Mom. Oh how I wish I had that for me! Really, I wish my Mom was “my person!” Sadly she wasn’t! The good news is that I’ve been able to re-write that story. OR folks respond, “ I call my husband!” Again, the same response! Back to “my rudder!”

So SKW was my rudder! 

SKW saved my life in 1997! No really! 

I’m breathing! 

I’m closing my eyes. 

I’m remembering with tears rolling down my eyes! 

I want her back!  


Where’s the sweet spot? I wrote out many sweet spots and this one seems the most authentic and most appropriate for this week of giving thanks. Giving thanks that I found my “person!” Not everybody gets a person!

My Rudder!

I Had A Feeling!

I’ve not written for months! It’s not because I’ve not thought about it. On the contrary! I find myself searching for something that “speaks” to me! I think, “there it is,” with delight and then pull myself up short because I can’t find the “sweet spot.” That’s a must for this blog. So again, I let it go. And on and on it goes. I’ve even had friends comment about my silence. 

So fast forward and it’s almost October. I’ve been looking at the calendar and realize that it’s imperative for me to make a plan for Thanksgiving. I’m going to be alone, yet again, and I must develop a plan. I had fun on Airbnb researching small places that will take a dog and close to the mountains. I look at the price and wonder if I want to spend that money in a different way. Maybe I should stay put and make an appointment for a massage and manicure and pedicure. Maybe that’s the way to go? There is a Pandemic going on and the Delta Variant! Breathe!

Then I become aware that I haven’t had a “vacation” for years. I think the last one was to Sedona in the fall of 2018. Well duh! I really do need a getaway. Maybe something would bubble up to inspire my writing?

I’m in Spartanburg, SC, coaching in early childhood classrooms the first of September. I’m on a short break and find a text message from a dear friend that lives on Dewees Island. Check her out because she is brilliant. Nature Walks With Judy Anyway she’s inquiring if I would like to dog sit for a friend of hers. Now wait for it! On Dewees Island. For 7 days. What? I text Judy back to say, “yes, I’m interested. I don’t have my calendar in front of me. Please wait for my response.” Note to self. Get your calendar on your phone. I rush back to the hotel when I am finished and yes, I can do it. WOW is all I can say!
I had a feeling! 

So fast forward and it’s time to head to Dewees. I am scheduled to catch the ferry at 3:00. Of course I leave early because that’s how I roll. I decide to eat at Coconut Joe’s to remember Mike and the good times that we had. I have my journal, ear buds and phone and I’m ready. What a relief that the memories soothed me. It was just the best feeling. I checked the time and thought I should probably start moseying over to the marina. I ask for the check and boom. Look what appears! 
I’m getting a feeling!

Coconut Joe’s bill. Isle of Palms, SC.

I’m literally stunned! I look around for him and he is nowhere to be found. Thankfully I just sit there and let the, what feeling is it? I do believe it’s joy! “Well hello joy! I’ve missed you! Come sit with me for a bit.” So I sat there for a bit and just let joy wash over me. Fortunately I had my journal with my many colored pens and wrote him a heart felt note. 

You have to take a ferry to Dewees. Island. There are no stores or cars on the island. Only golf carts and bikes. Research it. . .I’m met by Carey!

Here’s the approach to Dewees Island!

The approach to Dewees Island!
I’ve arrived!
My transportation!

So I arrive ready for the adventure; to begin the new adventure for the next week! I think to myself that I have an open heart and mind. I really am open to what’s next! I’m not in a rush and I have 7 days to just be! 

So look what happened along the way! 

Love how she just sits still to take it all in!
Both puppies loved their beach walks! I did too!
Of course the angels came along!
My view everyday!
Look at all of the shells that I collected!

And then one morning I ran into the kindest man! Everyone calls him Lo! He walked with me and the pups for a bit and then pulled out a shell, a very special shell! It’s the South Carolina state shell! He had found it on his run that morning and wanted me to have it. It is the Lettered Olive. I will always keep it in a safe place, tucked into my heart!

Lettered Olive

And the time came to say good bye! I don’t think the island wanted me to leave. I had no cell service to ensure passage on the ferry. I’m not worried though! Just text Judy to have her call for me. And then, yes, the golf cart had no more power. Serious corrosion. Nothing that a coke can’t fix but I don’t have one and I really need to get to the ferry. I text Judy again and she comes to get me.

Good bye Dewees! You were good to me!

Good Bye!

Where’s the sweet spot?

I think it’s simple! Well it sounds simple.. Trust my feeling! Trust myself! And here’s the important piece; not judge it. Just accept it and then be curious.
Again it sounds simple but it can be tricky for a 70 year woman! This is where I covet your thoughts. Listening to my heart versus my brain wasn’t taught or even modeled when I was growing up so I can get into my head instead of following my heart. Any thoughts? Where is your sweet spot in these places of drought?

A Really Big Thank You!

I turned 70 last month! It turned out to be an amazing day only because I really worked at it. 

So let me catch you up in the story. Way back in January 2021, I posted a photo of my “fake” Chucks with pearls. Remember that was a thing to celebrate the inauguration! Take a photo of your chucks and pearls and post it on FaceBook. I can’t remember how it came about but my young friend RMW reached out and was horrified that I’ve never, ever owned a pair of chucks. I wouldn’t say it was an interrogation but there were hints and allegations. 

January 20, 2021
Fake Chucks and Pearls

So fast forward to my birthday. I opened RMW’s card and found a gift card to purchase some “chucks.” Gulp! Would I like them? I’m pretty picky about shoes. Maybe I am a shoe snob. I love shoes. Would they look cute? Would they look like Bozo shoes? Oh Dear! 

So for days I went online to Converse. WOW! What a line up!

And then I got curious about the term “chucks!” So here you go! 

Charles Hollis “Chuck” Taylor (June 24, 1901 – June 23, 1969) was an American basketball player and basketball shoe salesman/product marketer who is best known for his association with the Chuck Taylor All-Stars, which he helped to improve and promote.

Marquis Mills Converse founded the Converse Rubber Shoe Company in 1908 in Malden, Massachusetts. … After Taylor’s signature was added to the ankle patch as his endorsement, they became known as Chuck Taylor All Stars, the first celebrity-endorsed athletic shoe.

And then MY chucks arrived! I carefully put them on and immediately fell in love with them. What do you think?

My new navy blue chucks!

What’s the sweet spot in this story? Having a friend that can gently nudge me out of my comfort  zone and encourage me to just have some fun with my very own chucks! Thanks RMW! You are my inspiration.

Love that they danced with their chucks at their wedding!

It’s My Birthday!

I’ve been thinking about this birthday since 2020. I have to be honest. I love that it’s my birthday. Don’t get me wrong. But I just hate turning 70 years old. It hurts. How can it be that I am this old? When I was growing up, 70 years old sounded old, and I mean really old. White hair, old shoes and frumpy clothes. Right? And then I begin to wonder if I was subtly taught ageism? Was I? How can I be an activist to eradicate this? Maybe this is the first step! 

Well I am here to tell you that my next decade will look different from what I witnessed as a little girl! I can assure you of that. I’ll go kicking and screaming into ugly shoes and frumpy clothes. Let’s hope that I don’t go overboard and dress inappropriately. Mon Dieu! 

Jessica Lee Shields born on February 24, 1951 in Jackson, Mississippi.

So here’s the truth! I’ve been grieving this past year. 

Thank goodness this is normal. Did you know that this is normal? Be honest! 

Here’s what I’ve done the past year to get me ready to welcome the new decade in my life. I have to credit the Pandemic with helping me to be successful. My commitment was to arrive on February 24, “ready” for the next decade instead of using 2021 to get ready. So I journaled about this at length and came up with a fairly short list. I was going to have set in place healthy habits. Hooray! I walk 3+ miles a day with Bailey weather permitting. I eat healthy. Thank goodness for Hello Fresh. I wanted to arrive on February 24 with a fit body and I think that I look the best and feel the best in years. I began a list of things that I will research and slowly add into my daily routine. Yoga and meditation is of great interest to me. I have to figure out my vertigo because when I lie down flat and get up, even slowly, I am really dizzy and feel lousy for hours. I will raise my hand and ask for help because this is number one for me. I’m going to continue to write both personally and professionally. I am on a journey of looking back into my southern ancestry hoping to be an activist for anti-racism and anti-bias with my memories and stories from the 1950’s and 1960”s. That’s important. 

So am I going to be ready for my birthday? I’m working on it. 

I love reading and I found an old friend, a book that I had bought way back in February 1997. A Women’s Book Of Life: The Biology.Psychology.And Spirituality of the Feminine Life Cycle  I fell in love with Joan Borysenko’s work. This book leapt into my hands last month and I found the chapter entitled Ages 70-77: The Gifts of Change: Resiliency, Loss and Growth. OUCH! I’m in that age bracket now? A gift? Really? 

And right there in that chapter was the proof that what I’ve been feeling the past year is normal. Whew! What a relief! This one statistic jumped out at me. Once a woman is widowed, she can expect to live another 17 years. I think that I am going to live way longer than 17 years because of my genetics. But genetics only account for 25%. Here are some of the thoughts from that chapter that are guiding my thoughts to create a vision for my next decade. 

Viktor Frankl, a survivor of Nazi concentration camps, wrote that “suffering minus meaning equals despair.” 

“Resilient people cope by some positive meaning in their suffering, whereas despairing people often feel victimized,” writes Borysenko. There’s that word again, meaning. 

It’s imperative for me to find the meaning in this crisis, and yes I do believe I’ve been in a crisis for the past year. That’s crisis with a little “c” and not all CAPS. I know from prior experiences in my life that I will find the meaning. It takes time though and I must be patient with myself. I loved the thought that Borysenko writes about the three “c’s.” Challenge. Control. Commitment. 

Well it’s obvious about the challenge. I’m going to add that I am going to be intentional. It’s critical to be mindful so that one day I won’t wake up and ten years are behind me. See that’s it! It feels like in the blink of an eye the majority of my life is behind me so this next chapter in my life had better count. I am going to be mindful and accept the challenge. I’m ready! 

Control. The good news is that I’m single so I’m in charge. I really don’t have to consider anyone else. I like partnering, harnessing my inner resources to manage the next decade, again with intentionality. And let me assure you that I can manage my thoughts and feelings. It’s time to take control of this next decade. I’m ready! 

Commitment. The good news here is that I am very comfortable with this word because of my profession in early childhood education and as a Conscious Discipline Certified Instructor. That being said I am committed to living the next decade with joy! I’m committed to being myself. Okay, the word joy is getting stuck in my throat but I’m going with it. I’m ready! It’s time to take that first step. 

And then I got stuck in how to end this blog. Where’s the “sweet spot? Where’s the meaning? I went for my daily walk on February 18 thinking about the ending. I arrived home and opened my computer and found that Joan Borysenko was holding a virtual training on February 20 on. .. . wait for it. . . .The Dharma of Aging. And just like that I have my inspiration from her and I found my ending because of that training. 

This is a transition for me. I’m celebrating that I am cognizant of this transition and writing about this event. I’m ready! 

So where’s the sweet spot for me in this moment? Where’s the meaning? I’m going to equate these two words.

February 23—- It’s the last day of me being in my 60’s! I just arrived home after 3.5 miles with Bailey. It a beautiful day on the island today! I chose to listen to the podcast linked below which inspired me with words like anticipation, and mystery. These words so resonated with me because I am a Seven in the Enneagram vernacular. Seven’s love an adventure. And that’s my sweet spot. I am going to embrace the rest of my life and allow the adventure and mystery into my life.

Here’s that podcast: Being Well With Dr. Rick Hanson: Radical Compassion with Tara Brach

I am going to embrace this moment with joy and celebrate.
So good bye dread!
Hello 70!
Happy Birthday to me! I’m ready!

Please leave a comment below for me! Oh how I love reading your thoughts! We’re better together.

I decided to post some photos to honor the past 70 years with the focus on the first twenty years. I am feeling grateful for a full life ; full of family and friends. Thanks to my parents for setting me on a path full of  great experiences. Here’s to you Jesse and Louise! Here’s a link to read about my relationship with Mom and the re-writing of our story.
It’s About The Connection

Jesse and Louise Shields

Kindergarten Class in Gallatin, Tennessee I am on the back row, third from the left.
First Grade Gallatin, Tennessee Can you find me? I’m in the middle row!

We lived on a farm in Gallatin, Tennessee! Love that photo of throwing snowballs with my Daddy. My Mom sewed all of our clothes. And yes, I won a dancing contest with Johnny! That’s my sister Aledia!

I love Girl Scouts! Really I loved it! I was a Girl Scout until I graduated from High School. I was a Girl Scout Leader when we lived in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

I loved the above photos. Hazel Margaret was my best friend from Owensboro, Kentucky. The tent is falling down and I am inside that tent. Oh my the laughter! What great memories!

Oh how I loved my three years at Ole Miss. Yes, I graduated in three years. What was I thinking? I missed a year of fun, oh yes and of studies. My sorority was my family.
Alpha Omicron Pi, Nu Beta Chapter

Ole Miss Freshman Year 1969
Don’t you love my long hair? We are welcoming folks into our home!
This came out in the campus newspaper. That’s me leading our sorority in Sing Song Christmas 1969. We won!
I was known on campus as “Lamb Chop” because I could do my mouth like the puppet. Yes, this is what Archie Manning called me. He probably has no idea of my real name.
I adored this group of guys. They had the highest GPA of all the fraternities. What an honor to be their sweetheart!
Senior Banquet 1971
Rush 1971 The creative juices that we put into this 5 day event. This is a skit from My Fair Lady!

Remembering The Pandemic of 2020

Here’s my story that begins in March 2020!

Let me say this from the beginning! Posting this was and is hard! It may look easy but trust me. It took many of my friends along the way listening to me and encouraging me to write this. It’s hard to find the bright spots when looking on Facebook and seeing so many families, my perception, looking as though they are not physically distancing to say the least. It’s been a struggle as a single person with a dog. It’s just plain hard living in a very small bubble. Let me assure you though, I would do this over and over again for my country and for you and certainly for my son and his family.! But let’s get to the matter of the 5 months! I’m still working on the celebration of August to the current state of affairs. That’s another blog post!

I love to tell stories! I am a huge believer that stories help to enlighten, to bring my thoughts alive. I listened to a Ted Talk the other day and the speaker used this phrase, ” we are unreliable narrators of our own story.” I’ve given myself some time to think about this. I think she’s correct if, and only if, I’m not conscious; mindful. If and only if I’m not willing to face myself honestly. So here goes. Here are the facts.

I drove to Richmond, Virginia on March 5 to present at the Virginia Association for the Education of Young Children conference and then flew from Richmond to Fort Worth, Texas to train for a day. That Saturday training was the first of what was suppose to be 2 days of training. I then flew to San Antonio for 2 days of training. I love the travel and even more I love training new folks and getting to know their stories. Next I flew to Little Rock to train in Kingsland, Arkansas. Did you know this is the birthplace of Johnny Cash? There’s a huge billboard announcing this news and welcoming you to this very small community with no stop light. I’ve been training in this sweet community for three years and made some dear friends! The first case of the coronavirus in Arkansas was reported on this day March 13. After a full day of training I drove back to the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Little Rock. That was the first sign that I knew that something was changing. The entire hotel was pretty much shut down except for checking in guests and very little choices for food. The valet assured me that my car and the keys would be cleaned. Something was changing. 

Flying home to Charleston, South Carolina on March 14 was even different. Students from the University of Alabama were on my flight from Charlotte home. They were evacuated from their dorm and left most of their belongings behind. Something was changing. Oddly enough they didn’t seem phased. I think we were all hoping that this was going to be short lived. Right? 

I’m home and my youngest son calls me and we talk about the news and what’s happening. He thinks that the country is going to shut down and soon. “Mom would you consider flying to us in Morristown, New Jersey with Bailey?” Of course I said “yes” because really how long can this last! Right? Something was changing. 

So off Bailey and I fly to JWF and his family! 

Bailey and I at the Charleston Airport ready to fly to Newark Airport.
Bailey prefers the window seat!

The first 10 days were exhausting to say the very least. I walked into a home full of anxiety. No judgments here! It was all worthy of anxiety! It was imminent that New Jersey was about to lockdown. There is no traffic on the interstate! I had flown into the eye of the storm. Both my son and daughter in law were busy figuring out how they were going to go forward with their work; one is a doctor and the other is a real estate agent. My job was to hold the fort down with a five year old while they figured things out. Have I already stated that I was exhausted from not only the travel and training but the uncertainty that was ahead of me?

And then there was THE Zoom meeting at the end of March with my Conscious Discipline Certified Instructors mentor group. I was stunned with all of their responses to a question, “What is the adjective that describes where you are at the moment?” That’s the gist of the question. I was literally stunned at their adjectives. Now remember that the lockdown had only been in effect for maybe 3 weeks. Their adjectives were all positive until it came to me and I just remember exploding. “Are you f*c%ing kidding me? What planet are you living?” I immediately received a text from one of my friends that wonders if I am grieving. “BOOM” She’s right and what a relief to name it. That Zoom meeting helped to get my brain in a helpful place. I am grieving at what I left behind.

The next day was different. It was still hard but I was different. So everyday for 5 months I set my alarm for 6:30 AM allowing myself to hit pause twice; walk Bailey quickly and come back to shower and have breakfast and take over with my grandson, JTF. Structure was important for all of us. A favorite phrase of JTF’s was “is this Daddy time or Yaya time?” Every morning JTF and I would write out our schedule so that he could refer to it during the day.

I never ever entered a store or restaurant in that five months. JWF’s job was to keep me safe. I rode in a car 5 times. My world consisted of the following memories and photos.

I made sure that my grandson, JTF, had a healthy dose of left and right brain activities each day. I then became aware of my focus each day. I’m going to be honest. It was hard and yet I believed this to be critical for my survival. 

So here are the memories! 

In the beginning of the Pandemic!

JTF working!
The finished product!

Then there were gross motor skills everyday!

Playing hopscotch. Learning how to jump on one foot was an important skill to learn.
Do the crab walk on the blue tape!
Learning Yoga! Core strength is important.
JWF with JTF’s first time on his bike!
I would run with JTF for a mile each morning, weather permitting.
Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa for the new play structure!
Climbing up the wall!
Looking for trumpet swans!

Every Thursday afternoon was ice cream with Grandma!

JTF reads a story to Grandma!
Grandma read a story!
And there is always ice cream!

Shabat every Friday! An opportunity to see the overlaps in faith and to have gratitude for this. Did I mention Passover?

Image may contain: 3 people, including Jessica Shields Flowers, people sitting, table and indoor
Passover 2020

Jack had piano lessons every Monday and I got to listen to them practice everyday.

JWF and JTF practicing piano.

Bailey learned to walk on a leash. She did not like the NJ Transit train though. I learned to know the schedule and not walk that way if a train was expected. I’ve continued walking since returning to the island and walk 3 miles each day.

Bailey always looking out to keep everything safe!

Did I mention JWF’s cooking? I think we had delivery 5 times in my 5 months!

Inspired by the movie, Ratatouille!
Image may contain: food
Bison, mushroom ragout, sunchoke purée, grilled leek, roasted cherry tomatoes
Eating on the deck was a treat!
JWF always supplied good wine!

This is probably the biggest memory! Introducing JTF to chapter books!

Frog and Toad Series Both of my boys adored these three books and I was so excited to introduce them to JTF.

Frog and Toad Are Friends (Frog and Toad, #1)

From writing letters to going swimming, telling stories to finding lost buttons, Frog and Toad are always there for each other—just as best friends should be. Frog and Toad Are Friends is a Level Two I Can Read book, geared for kids who read on their own but still need a little help.

The classic Frog and Toad stories by Arnold Lobel have won numerous awards and honors, including a Newbery Honor (Frog and Toad Together), a Caldecott Honor (Frog and Toad are Friends), ALA Notable Children’s Book, Fanfare Honor List (The Horn Book), School Library Journal Best Children’s Book, and Library of Congress Children’s Book.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh

Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma. 

Loved this book. . . .Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nihm! It was the first book that JWF read all by himself.

Pippi Longstocking

Pippi Longstocking (Pippi Långstrump, #1)

Tommy and his sister Annika have a new neighbor, and her name is Pippi Longstocking. She has crazy red pigtails, no parents to tell her what to do, a horse that lives on her porch, and a flair for the outrageous that seems to lead to one adventure after another!

Stuart Little

Stuart Little

A paperback edition of E.B. White’s classic novel about one small mouse on a very big adventure! With black and white illustrations.

Stuart Little is no ordinary mouse. Born to a family of humans, he lives in New York City with his parents, his older brother George, and Snowbell the cat. Though he’s shy and thoughtful, he’s also a true lover of adventure.

Stuart’s greatest adventure comes when his best friend, a beautiful little bird named Margalo, disappears from her nest. Determined to track her down, Stuart ventures away from home for the very first time in his life. He finds adventure aplenty. But will he find his friend? 

E.B. White became a favorite author.

Beezus and Ramona

Beezus and Ramona (Ramona, #1)

Nine-year-old Beezus Quimby has her hands full with her little sister, Ramona. Sure, other people have little sisters that bother them sometimes, but is there anyone in the world like Ramona? Whether she’s taking one bite out of every apple in a box or secretly inviting 15 other 4-year-olds to the house for a party, Ramona is always making trouble–and getting all the attention. Every big sister can relate to the trials and tribulations Beezus must endure. Old enough to be expected to take responsibility for her little sister, yet young enough to be mortified by every embarrassing plight the precocious preschooler gets them into, Beezus is constantly struggling with her mixed-up feelings about the exasperating Ramona.

My Father’s Dragon

My Father's Dragon (My Father's Dragon, #1)

Elmer Elevator (narrator’s father as a boy) runs away with an old alley cat to rescue a flying baby dragon being exploited on a faraway island. With the help of two dozen pink lollipops, rubber bands, chewing gum, and a fine-toothed comb, Elmer disarms the fiercest of beasts on Wild Island. 

The Magic Treehouse

We loved this series. We didn’t make it through the 49 books though!

Mummies in the Morning (Magic Tree House, #3)
Jack and Annie don’t need another mummy. But that’s what they get when the Magic Tree House whisks them back to ancient Egypt. There they meet a long-dead queen who needs their help. Will Jack and Annie be able to solve the puzzle, or will they end up as mummies themselves?

Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte's Web

This beloved book by E. B. White, author of Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan, is a classic of children’s literature that is “just about perfect.” This high-quality paperback features vibrant illustrations colorized by Rosemary Wells!

Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s Web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter.

E. B. White’s Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come. This edition contains newly color illustrations by Garth Williams, the acclaimed illustrator of E. B. White’s Stuart Little and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, among many other books. 

This book really resonated with JTF, so much so that we went looking for pigs. He was adamant that there was a pig out there to find. We would go out looking for pigs with a bag to carry the pig home. There is a lovely film that we watched at least three times.
Charlottes’s Web

Trumpet of the Swan

The Trumpet of the Swan

Like the rest of his family, Louis is a trumpeter swan. But unlike his four brothers and sisters, Louis can’t trumpet joyfully. In fact, he can’t even make a sound. And since he can’t trumpet his love, the beautiful swan Serena pays absolutely no attention to him.

Louis tries everything he can think of to win Serena’s affection—he even goes to school to learn to read and write. But nothing seems to work. Then his father steals him a real brass trumpet. Is a musical instrument the key to winning Louis his love?

This was the last chapter book we read. We both learned so much about trumpet swans. Where they live and how they sound. What a lovely book to end our time together.

Here are books that we studied during the summer.
Thank goodness I knew about the book Story Stretchers. The author is Shirley Raines, my graduate school professor. JTF and I were able to “stretch” each of these stories.

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Where the Wild Things Are

We loved “stretching” this story! New word was a sceptor!

On the corner of Bishop Court and Canfield Road! Where The Wild Things Are at this corner!
King of the Wild Things

At The Beach

At the Beach

This book was lovely to read. We learned about the authors. They have a daughter who carries on the tradition of lovely illustrations and text. I ordered shells from Amazon and we played in the sand. In addition JTF had fun painting with sand.

Mouse Paint

Mouse Paint

I can’t believe that I didn’t take photos of JTF’s foot prints. . .oh no wait! I would have to be an octopus to do this. So much fun for JTF. I think it was his first time to have paint on his feet.

Color Dance

Color Dance
The girl in red, the girl in yellow, the girl in blue, and the boy in black and white are all set to stir up the rainbow. Watch them create a living kaleidoscope, step by step by step.

This book provided so much fun for days and days. Look at the book that he wrote and yes I sewed the book together.

JTF knows the importance of the author and the illustrator at this point. We even read about their lives.
Love that he learned to tear construction paper and glue it very much like Color Dance.

I Want My Hat Back

I Want My Hat Back

Sadly I didn’t take photos of our hats as we had ice cream with Grandma!

Art was an important part of each day!

JTF painted this all on his own! This is from the book, Take Me To The Zoo!
Sand painting that went with the book, At The Beach.
JTF loved to paint with his water colors!
More water colors!

Painting outdoors and then there was a box!

This box became an integral part of our time outdoors.
It was important to decorate the inside also.
It was a great escape place to create.

Sweet Spot!

So where’s the sweet spot in this? I think that the photos speak for themselves! Right? All of the memories that were made are engraved on my heart for a lifetime.

Image may contain: 1 person, house, tree, outdoor and nature
Thanks JWF for capturing this photo!

But I think there’s a bigger sweet spot! I discovered myself again in the midst of this! I’ve always loved reading and the past ten years I’ve been consumed by my work; coaching and training that I love so very much. I never made the time to read.So I re-discovered my love of books and my new love affair with podcasts. Click on over to Ripple to read about the books and podcasts that I discovered.

I did not mention this series of books that have kept me going each day since I was in New Jersey. Louise Penny has written a series of murder mysteries. I loved Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys growing up. So of course I would love Armand Gamache in her series of 16 books. I just finished the last one and have been grieving ever since.

So please comment below about your Pandemic thoughts. I’m curious to hear from you! No judgements here for sure! I’m still working on my thoughts since I arrived back on the island mid August.

Gratitude In The Small Places!

Loving Guidance dba as Conscious Discipline  asked their Certified Instructors to make a poster writing a personal gratitude for Thanksgiving with a photo! I immediately went into thinking of all the platitudes that my friends and colleagues would write; all the usual suspects! Right? Family, friends, food, blah, blah, blah! I missed the deadline to send in my photo and poster because I was just stuck in the story of what everyone else had and judging them for not being grateful; not really giving thanks for what they had in their life! I was stuck in all the wrong places! It took me some time to get out of that place. However, it took living in that place to find my way out. Let’s face it. If I had met the deadline that poster would have been full of snarky remarks! Thankfully I was able to find the pause button and find my way out! 

Living in isolation during a Pandemic brings its own set of rules. Living in a Pandemic brings its own set of insights! Since Michael’s death I learned how to do Thanksgiving on my own. It hasn’t been easy but Bailey and I know how to do it and we always find our way but this pandemic has brought an entire set of eyes of what to focus on in my everyday life.

Bailey looking her best!

So I’ve named this Thanksgiving; Gratitude In The Small Places! 
Here’ my list!

  • Becoming conscious of the amount of toilet paper I use! I can even give myself permission to use more if needed! 
  • Establishing a daily walking routine! 3 miles everyday!
  • Learning how to sip wine. It lasts longer and I can enjoy it longer.
  • Learning to manage financially each week on fumes. Did you know that Verizon has a lovely plan where you can promise to pay them an amount and day I choose? The electrical company has been kind when I call. They even restored my power within 3 hours so that I could successfully do a Virtual Training!
  • Making my bed everyday!
  • Learning to really and truly trust myself.
  • Leaving my kitchen clean every night!
  • Learning to shower and not do my hair. That saves on hair product! 
  • Figuring out how to be an extrovert in the pandemic introvert world!
  • Getting my hit of joy juice as I walk Bailey and greet other folks while being physically distanced! 
  • Getting more joy juice from waving to folks in their cars! Maybe it’s an Island kind of thing. 
  • A Zoom Birthday Party for my grandson that turned 6 in November; a small amount of time given to me by my Certified Instructor friends, a High School friend and Virginia friends from my earlier career.
  • Joining a Scottie Facebook private page that values our love of Scotties. They are located all over the world and help in crisis and send condolences when their fur baby crosses the Rainbow Bridge.
Just the beginning of the Scottie Christmas cards!
  • So Bailey and I went out for our daily walk before I posted this blog. We happened upon two Moms and a kid on his bike. They were stopped at THE TREE. Bailey and I noticed this tree when we first started walking back in August. There is a hole at the base of the tree. In that hole was a gnome. It was always a favorite place to stop and just notice and wonder about the story. One day the gnome was gone and there was a note posted to the tree. It was a notice of reward for whoever had kidnapped the gnome. A reward would be awarded and there was a website. Within days the gnome had been returned. Over the weeks, the treasures have multiplied. So here’s the story from the Moms! This is a neighborhood game by the children and this has been a real support to these children in this neighborhood. We exchanged stories and I shared that this tree has brought some joy to me as I walk each day. They had no idea.
Here’s THE TREE!

I began to wonder what my intention was to post this blog as Bailey and I walked this morning. I know that it is not to garner pity. I’m not that kind of girl. Ask my friends! I do want folks to widen their lens during this historic times.

So where’s the sweet spot in Finding Gratitude in the Small Places? Having my Conscious Discipline Family that nudges me to find myself in the midst of this historic time. Comment below with your sweet spots for this Thanksgiving!

Some of my Conscious Discipline Family!

Veterans Day 2020

It’s Veteran’s Day! In my family this day is known as my Mom’s birthday. 

My Mom had this unusual story that she told me of her uncle dying in France during WWI and how she “peeked” into his coffin when his body was brought home. She had to stand on her toes to gaze in and she was amazed that she didn’t get caught. I think she mentioned that horses drew the coffin to the graveside. He was killed at Verdun on October 15, 1918. My Mom would have been 5 years old.

From the History Web site: 

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime. Veterans Day occurs on November 11 every year in the United States in honor of the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918 that signaled the end of World War I, known as Armistice Day.

That’s sort of cool with all the elevens.

That story stayed in my back pocket for all of my life. I got really lucky when a cousin of mine reached out to me and gave me letters written to my Grandmother and the family from John L after he arrived in France. So I schemed up this idea with JWF to go to Verdun and pay our respects and gratitude for giving his life for our wonderful country.

JWF and I had lots of fun planning the first leg of our trip flying from Dulles into Charles De Gaulle Airport and then hopping on a train to Metz. It was a long trip and yet so worth it. I carried my Grandmother and all her sisters with me in my heart on this trip. They adored their little brother.

JWF and I have arrived in Metz! June 2002

The first leg of our journey is to Verdun by way of Metz! I had very little knowledge about this battle.

JWF wanted to use public transportation. The World Cup was also being played on this day with France in play! What an adventure just getting to Verdun!

I had a photo of John L.’s  tombstone with me; that’s what my family called him. I also brought two letters that he had written to my grandmother and other sisters and a newspaper announcement of his death and how he had died. JWF and I took the time to read these while in this sacred space of earth. Thank you Uncle John L.

John L Windham’s grave in Homewood, MS. I took this photo when I went researching family history.
John L wrote his Aunt Edna, my Grandmother after arriving in France.
Aunt Lois was one of my Grandmother’s younger sisters! This is from the Scott County News in Morton, MS.

I had no idea of the horror of WWI! No idea!

From Wikipedia: 

During the 300 days of the Battle of Verdun (21 February 1916 – 19 December 1916) approximately 230,000 men died out of a total of 700,000 casualties (dead, wounded and missing). The battle became known in German as Die Hölle von Verdun (English: The Hell of Verdun), or in French as L’Enfer de Verdun, and was conducted on a battlefield covering less than 20 square kilometers (7.7 sq mi)

The ossuary is a memorial containing the remains of both French and German soldiers who died on the Verdun battlefield. Through small outside windows, the skeletal remains of at least 130,000 unidentified combatants of both nations can be seen filling up alcoves at the lower edge of the building. On the inside of the ossuary building, the ceiling and walls are partly covered by plaques bearing names of French soldiers who died during the Battle of Verdun.

Douaumont Ossuary is a memorial containing the skeletal remains of soldiers who died on the battlefield during the Battle of Verdun. It contains the bones of 130,000 unidentified soldiers.

There were 6 towns that were literally obliterated; they are gone! The forest is gone. It was like it had just happened and yet it had been 86 years. The forest was gone and no growth. 86 years and nothing was growing back. We took a tour bus; she spoke French! I’m amazed that I was able to understand the enormity and the horrors of this war. 

I love post cards. Here’s one to my Mom. John L was her uncle.

I think of all the young men that died during this war and how it literally changed the communities after the war ended. Changed forever and ever. 

So where’s the sweet spot? It’s about the importance of parents sharing family stories. You never know where it will lead. This one small story to me expanded my journey to find his grave, interview my cousins that lived near my aunts. I loved finding his tombstone with his photo. That was a bonus for me. I loved sitting in their living rooms in Homewood, Mississippi listening to even more stories and sipping sweet tea. And then, wait for it, I get to pass down that one story to my youngest son and take the journey of where John L gave his life for our country. Sweet! Yes, very sweet indeed!

Election Day 2020

It’s Election Day 2020! I’m breathing! Voting is important; especially this year!

I’m a history junkie and and a fanatic regarding politics. I’ve been this way since I was about 9 years old. I vividly remember the presidential election of 1960. My 9 year old memories are of two things; JFK is Catholic and the chatter about JFK’s good looks! I always thought the chatter around the Catholic issue odd, even as an 9 year old. Folks were sure that if JFK were elected that the Pope would essentially be the President. Again, I thought this odd. 

This is a book that I have kept safe since 1960!
I remember reading this over and over again!

Growing up my Mom and Dad voted. I don’t remember going to the polls to vote with them. My parents weren’t overt in speaking about politics. My memory is vague but I believe that my vote matters was instilled in my DNA at a young age. 

So fast forward to going to College, University of Mississippi. I grew up in the time of Civil Rights and Vietnam. You had to be 21 years old to vote during this time. Yes, you could be drafted to serve in one of the armed forces at 18 years old and yet you couldn’t vote. You had to be 21 years old. This was changed on June 22, 1970. I was a rising sophomore at Ole Miss. I immediately began to calculate when I could vote for the first time; 1972. I could wait two more years! 

So vote I did on November 7, 1972 for George McGovern. Nixon won in a landslide. I still remember that sad feeling. It took until November 2, 1976 for me to feel that exhilaration that Jimmy Carter won that election. I took JJ with me. He was two years old. Taking my sons became a ritual with me as did crying during the voting process. I called JWF to verify my memory. “Yes Mom. You always cried as you were voting.” 

So fast forward to 2004. I am beginning a new chapter in my life by moving to Charleston, SC. Someone at the school where I had worked for 19 years gave me a fabulous book; Founding Sisters and the Nineteenth Amendment. I read it and was shocked at my utter ignorance of what women had done on my behalf to vote. It took 72 years of women tirelessly working for women to vote. 72 years! It began in Seneca Falls in 1848. In the end, women would be jailed, beaten and force fed. Read that again. Where was this taught in my history class? It wasn’t!

Totally LOVE this book!

I asked a friend the other day if women’s right to vote was taught in her High School history classes. She is 10 years younger than I. No, she wasn’t taught this. I can only remember photos of women in white. I remember feeling betrayed and mad after reading this book. And then I began to think about the young women of today. Sometimes I wonder if they take their freedom for granted. Ruth Bader Ginsberg paved the way for us. We’ve got to do better and tell our stories.

So today I voted. I believe this is the most important vote that I have ever cast in my 48 years of voting. Thank you to the thousands of women that worked tirelessly and never were able to cast their vote. May we never forget how we got here. 

And there’s the sweet spot! Living in the midst of history! Recording our stories! Yes, I cried while voting. My right hand was shaking! That one was new!

And I end with this. . .my Mother’s mother was born on October 19, 1888. In 1920 she would have been 32 years old. I wonder if she voted? I am going to make it up to be yes! Sure wish I could talk to her right now!

Who Knew It Would Be A Full Time Job

May 1, 2019

I have the ring and I’m getting ready to get ready. I submitted my profile to e-harmony and yet I  have no idea of what to expect. 

The first day e-haromony sent me a number of men that scored high to being compatible to me. I click over and then read their answers to the questions that e-harmony encourages you to answer. At first it was just plain fun imagining. And then It quickly became a full time job. Every morning I had to get people off of my island because I was getting smiles from men that didn’t even remotely interest me. I hadn’t anticipated this but I had to quickly find out about my deal breakers. It was an easy list to put together. Here it is. You are off the island if you: 

❤️ Smoke
❤️ If you don’t drink
❤️ Are a religious fanatic

There were men that wanted a “god fearing woman.” I’m not kidding. 

Off The Island

Here are a few observations from the first day.

  • A lot of men and I mean a lot of men don’t answer the questions. They just write what they want to write. 
  • The other weird thing was a lot of men typed in all caps! So now you are off the island if you typed in all caps. All caps translates to me that the man is screaming. 

In the second week it became apparent that I needed to be assertive, not complacent. I’ve got to be an active participant in this process. How scary and different from the 1960’s dating scene when it was the boy that asked you out. I remember what my intuitive guide said 5 months ago! “It’s going to be a year of self-empowerment, self-nurturing and self-promotion.” So I would again, get men off the island first and then figure out if I would send anyone a “smile.” I would literally hold my breath, close my eyes and hit the “smile” button. 

The Men

On and on this went. A man from NC answered my smile and then immediately sent me a question. E-harmony provides you with questions that you can send someone. I answered the question and then asked him how he would answer but then there was another question from him. This went on with five questions with no answers from him. He’s off the island just like that. I don’t like the Spanish Inquisition. 

Then there was the guy from Wisconsin. I seriously had to think about the snow and cold but what the hell. He went to Stanford and Harvard. Looks like he is crazy smart. He would ask me a question and I would answer it in a timely manner. I would ask him a question and it would take him 5 days to answer. I am not exaggerating. I’ve yet to hear his answer and that was back in May 2019. 

I’ve gotten adept at this full time job. I would literally wake up in the morning, reach for my phone and get men off the island and then send a smile or two and then get my coffee. I do regret that I didn’t keep track of how many smiles I sent out between May 1 and June 8. My hunch it was probably somewhere around 10, maybe more! I rarely heard from anyone. I quickly learned not to take it personally and believe that the universe was taking care of me. The perfect man is out there for me. Just do your job!

Where’s the sweet spot for me?

The answer to this question was elusive for a few days and then it just hit me one morning. I love music and this song is just so much fun and it is the perfect sweet spot. It’s Raining Men

It’s raining men, hallelujah,
It’s raining men, amen
I’m gonna go out to run and let myself get
Absolutely soaking wet
It’s raining men, hallelujah
It’s raining men, every specimen
Tall, blonde, dark and lean
Rough and tough and strong and mean
God bless mother nature, she’s a single woman too
She took off to heaven and she did what she had to do
She taught every angel she rearranged the sky
So that each and every woman could find her perfect guy!

Where’s Your Sweet Spot?

Where’s your sweet spot when you’re clear about what you want to achieve and it seems to be taking forever? How do you keep yourself going forward? How do you keep yourself sane? Describe your sweet spot. As always I look for your comments below. Did you know that you comment? Just scroll down and find the comment box.

Getting Ready To Get Ready

I wrote this phrase back on April 11, 2019 in Beaufort, SC and thought it a fitting title for this post. “I’m getting ready to get ready.” I listen to Abraham Hicks on YouTube and have read her books so I want to give her credit for this phrase that she uses a lot; getting ready to get ready. It has always resonated with me and especially during this moment in my life. So read on. . . . let’s back up in time!

January 1, 2019 

The holidays are behind me! I’ve set aside this day to think, reflect and make a plan for this new year. I have my new ring and the energy is literally changing. I can feel it. 

I made an appointment to speak with my intuitive guide, Christen McCormack for January 1. I’m ready with my questions for our hour together. The first thing she said was “I see you as a Phoenix rising from the ashes. It’s going to be a year of self-empowerment, self-nurturing and self-promotion.” She also indicated that it was a year to express myself without censoring. It’s a year to leave karma behind me. It’s the year to say, “enough is enough.”

I had spoken to her in October 2018 and asked if there would be another love? She said, “yes.” I’m elated and I am ready to get ready so I asked her in January if I need to sign up for online dating because I’m not making any connections out there! I’m ready to get ready but nothing is happening!

January 19, 2019

I had a Reiki session, my first. My throat chakra was blocked. He cleared that block and encouraged me to to find my voice and speak my truth. So interesting how he collected my negative energy and deposited into a bowl of water. 

I’m sensing a theme of finding my voice, are you? Finding my voice leads to a sense of empowerment which leads to promoting myself. Yes indeed there’s a theme!

Now I have to insert here that my Mom is in my ear and she’s saying some stuff like this: 

“You’re getting too big for your britches young lady.”
“Who do you think you are, the Queen of England?”

You know the drill don’t you? I’m wondering what your Mom said to you in moments like this?

From My Journal

February 9, 2019

“You get what you think about! Yikes! So it’s imperative to be clear about what I am going to attract into my life? Looking forward to being in a relationship—practice feeling good—the balance—being with someone that I can be me without asking for forgiveness—-and that he can be that also. Feeling like you have come home. A mirror.” 

So I began a list, a detailed list of what I want in a man. That list is in the back of my journal because it’s a running list. You know what I mean don’t you? My calendar is full with me flying to present workshops, staying in hotels and I have to keep my journal close just in case I think of something. It’s deliberate and intentional.
I’m getting ready to get ready.

Here’s the list.

Is good looking.
Values his health
Values self-reflection
Is educated
Enjoys all different kinds of music
Likes to dance
Likes Bailey
Bailey likes him
Is curious
Values independence
Values interdependence

Christmas Bailey
Bailey looking her best!

March 5, 2019

I had lunch with a colleague for some professional advice and then I ask her about her success with finding someone online. I hit the gold mine with her. Here’s my Cliff notes. Match.com is easy to do a profile. e-harmony takes time. Guys are attracted to Match.com. So I am all about e-harmony  I want to attract a guy that is thoughtful. 

April 28, 2019

“I’m so grateful for waiting to do e-harmony because my energy hasn’t been right. I could have attracted someone that I really didn’t want. So I am free the next few days and my energy is in the right place to attract the perfect match.” 

My Angel cards were Kindness and purpose.

April 30, 2019

It’s Tuesday and it’s time for e-harmony. That’s my priority for this morning. All the signs are present that this is the day. It is a beautiful morning and I am outside with my computer. A song comes on Could It Be I’m Falling In Love? I’m getting ready to get ready. And so I began my profile. It took time to write about me and then what photos to include? Fortunately I had asked a few close friends for adjectives that would describe me. Here’s that list.

Sassy in a good way
Kind hearted
Willing to take risks

My profile is ready. I’ve taken the test. I’ve answered the questions. I’ve carefully chosen photos. All I have to do is hit the submit button. And then scared literally comes to take home in my heart.

Scared Feeling Buddy

All the negative talk in my brain comes out.
“Who is going to be attracted to a 68 year old woman?”
“Who are you kidding Jessica?”
“Get over yourself.”
And then there were these thoughts.
“Why do you want to mess up this lovely life you have created with a man?”
“Why can’t you just be grateful for what you have? Isn’t this good enough?”
“Wasn’t your time with Michael enough? You can’t recreate it again!”
“Aren’t your friends enough?”

I almost didn’t hit the “submit my profile button” and then I remembered my two value words of courage and integrity from Brené Brown’s book Dare to Lead and in that moment I literally hit the submit button. And just like that I’m out there. 

Where’s the Sweet Spot?

It’s January 8, 2020 as I write. My sweet spot is all of my friends that have encouraged me faithfully to seek out a new relationship. Each of them were honest and candid with me. I could have done it without them but the process would have looked very different and would not have been authentic. So I am indebted to Kim, Susan K, Susan D, Renee, Mandy and of course my Sharon.

Where’s Your Sweet Spot?

So I love ending like this! Where’s your sweet spot when you endeavor a new adventure in your life? Where do you find your strength? What are your road blocks and how do you get over them? As always I love reading your comments and so grateful for each of you.

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