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!