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I’ve drifted away from this blog and have been spending more time on Gossip and Solitude, a blog about reading and writing. I began Mom’s Musings years ago as a forum to post thoughts about any and everything from family to work and religion to politics. I’m a grandmother now, not a “mom” with dependent children. Does Mom’s Musings still fit? Maybe. Like a friend told me last week, “You’ll always be a mom.”

So here goes.

Note to self: No more whining about anything. I’ve got more good stuff going on than the law allows.

Of all the memorable  things I saw, heard, and experienced this past weekend,the prize goes to a sweet image I’ll carry in my heart for the rest of my days.

I went to church in Myrtle Beach yesterday morning, and as I was chatting with a friend before Sunday school began, my attention was drawn to a sweet scene that involved two tiny people, my granddaughter Amelia and her cousin Fern. The tots were leaving the chapel hand-in-hand on their way to the nursery, and I knew that within their little psyches, they felt the power of love and unity. I could see only the backs of their heads, one blond and the other chestnut, but I didn’t have to see their beautiful faces to know they were smiling.

Backtracking a bit, we dined with Amelia and her siblings and parents Friday evening, and although it might have seemed ordinary to many, to me it was anything but. However, if I hadn’t been deliberately observant, I might have missed, or at least not savored, a few of the shining moments.

  • Ethan, my grandson rode with Elizabeth and me to California Pizza, and on the way, he spotted a huge navel orange in the back seat and claimed it as his own. His aunt Elizabeth told him she had brought it for Grandma Jayne, but that was his orange and no one was wresting it away from him. For dinner, he nibbled on pizza but ate the orange in its entirety.
  • Olivia, the first grader, began coloring and playing tic-tac-toe on her paper placemat right away. Always able to entertain herself, she “worked” and chatted until her mac ‘n’ cheese arrived.
  • Amelia Grace ate her pizza and some of her sister’s chips. Generous, she handed several chip pieces across the table to me. Paying no attention to my no thanks, she kept her little arm extended until I took one or two or three.
  • When we left California Pizza, it was pouring down rain, and Ethan sheltered beneath the umbrella with Elizabeth as we hustled towards the car. The other two children were with their parents, and I’m glad I got a glance of the four of them huddled together as they hurriedly splashed down the sidewalk.

Last Sunday, I attended church in Rincon, GA with my daughter Carrie and her five children. I usually leave after Sacrament service, but that day I stayed for all three meetings. My oldest granddaughter, Brooke, was giving her last talk in Primary that day because the following Sunday (yesterday) she was being promoted to Young Women’s. Lovely and serene, she gave her talk like the champ she is, and witnessing the moment was worth the two-hour delay of leaving.

Shining moments don’t have to involve children or grandchildren. One afternoon last week a friend and I were captivated by a small flock of starlings circling and swooping over downtown Camden. Glad I noticed.

What about you? What’s something that’s made you smile lately?

 

I wish I hadn’t run out of time Sunday while giving a lesson on finding joy. There are so many other things I wanted to share, things that could make a definite difference in the happiness or misery a person feels. And all are practical and easy to incorporate into one’s life.

I’ve often said that the combination of religion and psychology has saved my life many times. Plus, there is often an overlap between what psychologists have learned about being happy and what the scriptures say. The former state that there’s a correlation between mental and physical health, and Proverbs 17:22 says pretty much the same thing: “A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones.”

Today there’s a movement in positive psychology that studies health, happiness, well-being, self-esteem, and a host of other issues. Its emphasis on growth and optimism rather than gloom, stagnation, and pessimism offers hope to millions, including you—and me too. Positive psychologists don’t profess to have a panacea for suffering, but they do think it’s possible to experience moments of joy and happiness regardless of the situation.

Sunday we talked about the importance of prayer, faith, hope, scripture study, and “pressing on.” We didn’t, however, talk very much about being grateful. Having an attitude of gratitude is so helpful! I recall a song whose lyrics went something like, “Standing knee-deep in a river and dying of thirst.” On my walk this morning, one of the songs I listened to was “Desperado,” and this line spoke to me: “It seems to me a lot of fine things have been placed upon your table, but you only want the ones that you can’t have.”

Speaking of my morning walk, my husband often kids me about my lack of athletic ability. When I remind him of my marathons and half-marathons (all a combination of jogging and walking), he usually says, “Anybody can walk.” My answer is, “No Dear, they can’t.” But I can, and I’m grateful that my legs, lungs, and heart work together to allow it to happen.

One of the topics of the lesson was that happiness must be earned from day to day. Just like we need to eat and rest to keep our physical selves up and running, we need to do and think certain things to keep our mental selves in good order. There are dozens of suggestions I could offer, but I’m narrowing them down to something all women can identify with: Jewelry.

Yep. That might sound strange, but I purposely wear jewelry that boosts my mood by reminding me of something or someone.

  • I wore pearls Sunday, and you can guess why—the whole sand and oyster and friction process. Just like pearls, we can use the “refiner’s fire” to make us more beautiful and whole.
  • I also wore a Lokai bracelet given to me by one of my daughters-in-law. From the website: “Each lokai is infused with elements from the highest and lowest points on Earth. The bracelet’s white bead carries water from Mt. Everest, and its black bead contains mud from the Dead Sea. These extreme elements are a reminder to the wearer to live a balanced life – staying humble during life’s peaks and hopeful during its lows.”
  • I also wear a CTR ring (Choose the Right) to remind me to make good choices. That includes not being easily offended, being kinder than necessary, refraining from gossiping, and so forth. I mention those behaviors because they’re the ones that give me the biggest challenge.

Oops, I’ve already gone over my 500-word limit. It’s not a WordPress limit, just one I’ve attempted to practice since most people don’t want to read more than that.

Must ask: What are some things you do to stay happy?

Don’t worry. I’m not going to get all-religious and start spouting off (or writng down) pious phrases. I just want to share a few thoughts I’ve had the last few days without coming across like a zealot.

Quick story. Nearly three decades ago, my father and another man were engaged in a conversation when my dad noticed the man looking at me with what seemed (to my father) to be curiosity. When Daddy looked at him inquiringly as if to say, “Why are you staring at Jayne?” the man  said, “Is she the sister that’s a Mormon?”

Daddy said he turned back and looked at me again and said, “Yep, she’s the one. But don’t worry. She’s not fanatical about it.” I wasn’t offended when my dad shared this story. I knew what he meant. I’m not going to knock someone over the head with my beliefs, especially when I’ve always known that talk is cheap. Some of the most Bible-quoting, holier than thou folks that I know are the scariest. But that’s a story for another day.

That said, I’ve been thinking of the phrase “tender mercies” and some associated incidents that I’ve observed lately.

My husband has a heartache. It’s been nearly a year since his son died of melanoma and each day is a struggle. Although he has three other wonderful children and seven precious grandchildren, that almost unbearable pain is still there. Sometimes it’s a dull ache, like a muscle that you’ve overused, and then for no apparent reason, the ache become a sharp pain that nearly cripples him.

BUT every day of his life, good things are going on. I like to call them “tender mercies.” One recent day, he got a message from his son’s first cousin letting him know that he (my husband) was in his thoughts. “Hey man, just wanted you to know I’m thinking about you. I know this time of year is rough.” A tender mercy, one that conveyed, “I care about you, and I haven’t forgotten Chris. Never will.”

He has seven healthy, beautiful, energetic, and funny grandchildren. One of them spent some time with her grandfather in a deer stand last week, just chillin’ and enjoying Mother Nature. Little Cooper, the youngest one in town, always warms his granddad’s heart when he says, “Hey PaPa” as he runs into his arms. This past weekend, my youngest grandson Ethan cried when we left Atlanta, not for me but for Otis. To me, all of these are tender mercies bestowed by a loving Heavenly Father. Some cynics might say, “If He’s so loving, why did He take Otis’ son?” I don’t know the answer to that. I’m Jayne; He’s God.

Last week as I was leaving church, a former bishop told me of the sudden death of one of his brothers-in-law. He was hit by a speeding 17-year-old and died immediately. As we talked, the grieving bishop  said, “But he wouldn’t come back even if he could.” I needed to hear that. What a true statement. Knowing what Chris is currently experiencing, I don’t think he’d want to come back now even if he could. I told his dad that, hoping to offer some solace. Was it helpful? I don’t know. I, however, see that chance conversation as a tender mercy.

This post is longer than I intended it to be so I’ll wrap it up. My thoughts on this beautiful Monday morning are not fanatical or preachy. At least I hope not. I just wanted to share my belief that there are always tender mercies around us, but we can’t always see them when we’re focusing on the sad, evil, vile, sordid, heartbreaking stuff.

As a final note, I can’t recall the moment of my sweet mother’s death without also recalling the love that surrounded her at that moment of passing. I’ll always remember the soft hymn playing in the background (at her request) and the sun dappled radiance in the room. My sibs were all there, and I know they felt those tender mercies too.

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I’m going to cut myself some slack this morning.

A couple of days ago I wrote about David Steindl-Rast’s interview on NPR in which he advised people to STOP, LOOK, and GO when it comes to their day-to-day experiences. I enjoyed the interview so much that I immediately purchased his book 99 Blessings for my Kindle.

  • STOP long enough to catch your breath and observe your surroundings.
  • LOOK at where you are in your life and at the sights surrounding you this very moment. If this moment is sad, painful, disappointing, or frustrating, there’s no need to despair because just like the present moment is a gift, so are jillions of others that you will have.
  • GO forward secure in the knowledge that more opportunities and precious moments are ahead.

I think the reason Steindl-Rast’s ideas reverberated with me so much is that sometimes I, like so many others, go through life at full blast. We rush about “getting and spending” and scarcely notice the new buds on a tree or hear the sweet birdsong right outside of our window. We get perturbed at traffic jams, slow drivers, and spilled milk when in actuality, these things don’t matter. What matters is our reaction to them. But that’s a topic for another day.

Today I just want to announce (strong word, huh?) that I’ve actually been practicing what Dr. Steindl-Rast is preaching. Even in the crazy, busy days of raising children and managing a home while working full-time outside of the home, I was able to see beauty around me, particularly when I looked skyward and thought of the Giver of “every good and perfect thing.”

I wish I’d written about more of those moments. I wish I hadn’t waited until I was in my mid-40’s to begin keeping a gratitude journal. It’s sad to think of all of those many moments when my children were younger that have now just slipped right over into oblivion.

But as Steindl-Rast said, there will be other moments of opportunity. Today is my day to STOP, LOOK, and GO. It’s yours too. And it’s so easy, Folks.

I have my iPhone with me just about all the time, and I’ve begun using it to its maximum potential as far as stopping and looking. Whether it’s a nature scene, a child’s face, a seashell, a deserted building, or a pier, I’m going to snap the picture. Then I’m going to go forward knowing that I’ve been mindful enough to capture a little slice of life.

Since January, I’ve begun posting a “pic of the day” on Facebook, and at the end of the year, I’m going to compile them into a Shutterfly book. I wish I’d done it earlier in my life, but alas, I didn’t. At least I’m on the right path now.

What is something that you do to stop, look, and go? Please share.

 


Until I heard people discussing it, I didn’t know that March 20th had been proclaimed as the International Day of Happiness, a day that recognizes the pursuit of happiness as a fundamental human goal. All I knew was that there were several videos of people dancing to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.”

When I learned about this double duty day, first day of spring and day of happiness, I actually felt, well, you know, happy. I had recently read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and was already familiar with the work of psychologists Martin Seligman and Dan Gilbert. I know that money, fame, and education don’t create happiness, and that gratitude and forgiveness can contribute to it. Even so, I’m always eager to learn more about this essential emotion.

My lesson came from the radio. I listened to an NPR interview with David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, whose most recent book is entitled 99 Blessings. Steindl-Rast contends that happiness is born of gratitude and not vice versa, and he offers a method that we all can use to help us live more gratefully.

We all know people who seemingly have everything that money can buy and yet they are unhappy. We also know people who have misfortune, illness, and tragedy in their lives, but somehow they are happy. According to Steindl-Rast, that’s because they are grateful and are aware that every moment is a gift.

Grateful people are aware that every moment is a gift, and Steindl-Rast states that everyone has the ability to develop this same awareness. We often say that opportunity only knocks once, but according to him, that’s not true since each moment is a new opportunity. If you miss the opportunity of one moment, there’s no reason to fret. Another moment is promised to us…and another and another.

Steindl-Rast says there is a very simple method that will help us live gratefully. We must Stop, Look, and Go. He admits that stopping is hard for many people. Busy, we rush through life and therefore miss many opportunities because we don’t stop. We have to build more stop signs in our lives. STOP! Whatever life offers you in that moment, go with it and realize that it’s a gift.

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We need to STOP, take a look around, and be grateful for the moment. Plus, it’s comforting to think that no matter how many opportunities we have missed, there will always be another one. Maybe you were meant to miss that first one. That job, that relationship, that phone call, and that interview were not the only moments and gifts you will have. Something better is on the horizon.

While listening to this interview, I had the thought I’ve had many times, that there’s really nothing new under the sun. Anyone who’s familiar with positive psychology (or even pop psychology) knows that an attitude of gratitude is essential to happiness. And yet, there was something that touched me about this monk’s words.

As an experiment, STOP right now, LOOK around you, and think of how grateful you are for this moment. If you’re not happy with this moment, realize that it’s just one moment, one point in time, and that there will be millions of others. GO forth with the knowledge that you will have many future moments filled with opportunity.

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This morning I’m thinking of several individuals who are struggling with challenges, some of them physical and some of them emotional. I know that prayers are being offered on the behalf of these people, and in some cases I think the prayers are for a complete and immediate healing. We want miracles, and we want them right now!! We Americans are especially desirous of immediate gratification.

But I’m not sure that God works in the immediate way but rather on His own timetable. Maybe that’s because He sees the big picture while we see only what’s right in front of us in the here and now. I think He always answers prayers but not necessarily in the way we want them answered. Then too, I believe that He knows what we need and want, but He still likes for us to ask Him in faith.

This brings me to a recent flash of insight. In Relief Society Sunday, the teacher based her lesson on a conference address by Jeffrey R. Holland found in the May 2013 Ensign. From just a few verses of scripture (14-28) found in the 9th chapter of Mark, Elder Holland brought out several layers of meaning that I’d never really noticed, and our teacher did an excellent job of bringing our attention to them.

In the story Jesus came upon a group of people who were arguing with His disciples. When Christ asked about the cause of the conflict, a man came forth and said that he had asked the disciples for a blessing for his son, an afflicted child who was foaming from his mouth, thrashing on the ground, and gnashing his teeth. In verse 22 the distraught father begs, “If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.”

The lesson makes several insightful and valuable points, especially concerning faith. The father “straightway” cries out, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (verse 24), and Jesus heals the boy. Note that without hesitation, the child’s father asserts his faith and then he acknowledges his limitation. Elder Holland reminds his listeners to remember the example of this man when assailed by doubt, despair, or troubles. “Hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes.”

I was sitting in class Sunday taking this in and pondering its truth when a member of the class said something I had missed. She said what she especially liked is when the heartsick father used the words: “If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.” He doesn’t ask that his son be healed completely and immediately. He asks for a glimmer of hope, a little respite from the exhaustion of watching over the boy continually, a partial blessing, a little lifting of the burden carried by the boy’s mother…any thing.

I felt like a light bulb came on! Sometimes people turn away from God because of what they perceive to be unanswered prayers when maybe they’re asking for the wrong thing. Or maybe they aren’t noticing the many ways they’re already being blessed. In applying this lesson to the situations I was thinking about, I thought of so many applications of any thing:

  • Some discernment to figure out what’s going on.
  • Help for all of US, not just little old me with my worries and heartaches. As one of my sisters-in-law and I discussed recently, caregivers need support too, not just the patient.
  • Some compassion and caring from others. As a class member brought out, help comes from friends and other earthly sources, but it’s often orchestrated divinely. A phone call, a note, or a visit are all nice.
  • Laughter. Sometimes just thinking about the laughter of my children can lift my spirits. Hearing it up close and personal is better, of course, but sometimes I can settle for any thing.
  • Mother Nature…considering her ways and the lessons she teaches. When my mother was suffering from cancer, she took delight at watching and listening to birds, especially those who heralded the beginning of the day.
  • An appetite. This is a serious one, Folks. Anyone who’s ever been too sick to eat knows what a blessing it is to actually want to eat and to be able to. I recall my mother struggling to eat some fruit during the last week of her life and realizing then that I would never take the desire and ability to eat and gain nourishment for granted again.
  • Hope and the knowledge that things are not always going to be the way they are right now.

In the story in Mark, Jesus heals the boy. In our lives, dramatic healings of relief from sorrow, suffering, and pain aren’t usually so immediate and complete. However, I’ve changed my thinking to asking for any thing for us—some hope for tomorrow, a sweet cold Frosty, or a hug.

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If sappy isn’t your cup of tea, don’t read this. At the same time, we might have degrees of sappiness and different definitions. While you might think it means sentimental, foolish, or silly, I’ve recently learned that sappy can mean full of vitality and energy. That definition probably refers to plants, though; I’m not sure. I just want to tell a story!

When I awoke this morning, I immediately thought of something I’d read many years ago. I don’t recall the source and am paraphrasing a little. Perhaps some of my humanities buds can enlighten me/us. “Awake, the brain begins to burn like a coal in the dark” is the way I recalled the line this morning, a phrase that led to these thoughts:

What a powerful and marvelous organ the brain is! Without it, I wouldn’t even wake up! Once awake, I wouldn’t be able to sit up straight, walk across the floor, toast my bagel, or digest my food. And gee whiz, those are not even “thinking things” like remembering, planning, learning, organizing, or daydreaming.

Speaking of memories and thoughts, I then began thinking of the numerous good things going on in my life:

A walk on the beach with a brother and later seeing a movie with that same fellow (isn’t it mind boggling to realize that some people have never seen a movie or tasted popcorn?), shopping with one of my beautiful daughters, reading an informative blog post written by my son, eyes that enabled me to see frolicking dogs and skittering sandpipers on the beach, knowledge that my sweet husband would be going about town doing good deeds for various family folks today, the sound of birdsong outside of my window, memories of my mother who loved listening and watching birds, thoughts of my granddaughter Brooke who just won second place in the 400 at a track meet yesterday, and on and on and on.

I checked my iPhone and saw that the temp was 45, too chilly for me to go to church. I had no tights to cover chilly legs! But then, it hit me. “You’ve got an abundance of all the things that really count, Girl!” Knowing the source of the above and many more blessings too numerous to enumerate, I got gussied up and headed to church. Was I ever surprised when I turned onto 48th Avenue and saw the empty parking lot. Turns out there was Stake Conference in Florence today that I didn’t know about.

Do good intentions count? I’d like to think so. Yes, I definitely think so. And get this. When I got back home and started leafing through a local publication, I noticed that The Color Purple is being presented by Conway’s Theatre of the Republic through May 5.

I’m coming back here (to the coast) to see the production. And here’s one of the reasons. There’s a scene in the movie (and play and book) when Shug and Celie are walking through a field of purple flowers, and Shug tells Celie that she thinks God gets perturbed (her phrasing is much more colorful) when people walk by the color purple and don’t notice or thank Him.

I think Shug just might have a point. How can I not be grateful for so many gifts that I enjoy in this beautiful world? And how can I not be aware of the source of them all?

I started out with a lot of big talk at the beginning of this month. Following the prior examples set by Lisa Radvansky and Anita Erwin, I was going to post at least one thing I was thankful for each day in November. That plan somehow went awry early on, not because I couldn’t think of anything but because I was, well, you know, busy. That’s no excuse, of course. What happened is that I missed a day or two, and before I knew it, mid-month was here, and I didn’t want to play catch-up.

My son recently shared some information he had learned from an article stating that if people could think of at least three things per day that they were thankful for, it would help affect their happiness. From experience and observation, I know that such a practice can also improve health, decrease stress, and increase longevity. For some reason I’ve always been able to recognize and appreciate all of the good things I have going on in my life even in times of deep sadness, loss, or stress. Seeing the good while acknowledging the bad has kept me sane.

Throughout November, I’ve been uplifted and gladdened by the facebook thankfulness posts that I’ve read. While I slacked off in adding my own daily posts, I’ve continued to keep a gratitude journal, something that’s been my practice for about 15 years. I daily record at least five things for which I’m thankful. The only difference between now and then is that now my journals are all over the place. I use whatever is at hand, and the “journal” might be a notebook, a pretty journal, my laptop, my Kindle, or one of several tiny pads that I have scattered about. While this isn’t the most efficient method, it works for me.

This morning as I sat down to jot down a few items, I got carried away with events and experiences and sights and sounds of the past several days. So instead of writing something pithy or detailed, I’m just going to share 30 (one for each day in November) of those, mainly to demonstrate that you don’t have to get all formal and worry about sentence structure and correct phrasing when you’re just making a list. You just list things like:

  1. Paul and Amanda’s new car.
  2. Facebook picture of Olivia and Ethan staring at the Christmas tree lights.
  3. Elizabeth and Emma lying on a bed sharing stories and giggles.
  4. Last night’s full moon illuminating our neighborhood.
  5. Baby Seth kissing his father’s face and head.
  6. Look and feel of Elizabeth’s house at Thanksgiving.
  7. So much good food, especially the ham, the cornbread dressing (my mother’s recipe), and the apple pie.
  8. Rich, my son-in-law, Skyping with his family in California and listening to his twin sisters laugh (their laughter was contagious).
  9. Target trip with my daughters and two of my granddaughters.
  10. Seeing Wreck-It Ralph with the grandchildren and stuffing ourselves with popcorn.
  11. Listening to talks and music from the Mormon Channel on my iPhone.
  12. Seeing bits and pieces of the Macy’s parade, something I remember doing with my father.
  13. Rich and my children’s father putting Elizabeth’s together a bed frame for her
  14. Baby Seth walking around all over the house eating pumpkin cranberry scones ( a no-no unless you’re an adorable baby).
  15. Brooke and Emma’s pretty polished nails (courtesy of Aunt Elizabeth). They chose alternating colors of Penthouse Blue and Purple Passion.
  16. Skyping with Paul’s family in Atlanta.
  17. Braden seeming so tall and grown up. When did that happen???
  18. Hearing my children and grandchildren state the things they are thankful for.
  19. Rich and Brooke playing “Heart and Soul” on his iPad. I loved this so much that I downloaded two versions of this song to my Kindle Fire.
  20. Missing Otis during the holiday but remembering that couples can (and probably should) have spaces in their togetherness.
  21. Waking up rested on Saturday and recognizing the restorative power of sleep.
  22. Christmas music.
  23. Spending an inordinate time in the kitchen but then quickly remembering how awesome it is to have food, dishes, and hot soapy water to wash dishes with.
  24. Thinking of my parents and their November 1947 wedding. Missing them but feeling their presence.
  25. Emma and Brooke dancing and singing.
  26. Colton waking me early (before six) each day asking for my iPhone so that he could play with Talking Ben.
  27. Beach experience with Carrie and being so glad that we decided to go despite a limited time frame. The kids LOVED the birds and were awed by the fishermen. We even saw horses strolling along the strand.
  28. Seeing  Lincoln with Otis, Judy, and Carl on the night before leaving for the beach.
  29. Hearing and humming “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing.”
  30. Uploading eBook on student success. Rich buying a copy and reading it on his iPad. Talking about Chapter One the next morning.
  31. I know November doesn’t have 31 days, but I just have to add one more thing: America!

That list took minutes to put together. The trick is to be attentive to what’s going on around you and make a mental note of it before you forget. Try it and let me know how it works out for you.

 

On Friday afternoon, I had the opportunity to get together with June, an old and dear friend. Among the many topics of conversation that afternoon was the awesome power of books to change one’s thinking, give hope, and offer direction. Yes, we talked about paint chips and husbands and careers too, but somehow the topic always returned to some of the books we’ve read and how they affected our lives.

While there are dozens that I could mention, I’m only going to highlight a few:

The first three words in Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled were sobering for both of us the first time we read it. Basing his premise on the noble truths of Buddha, Dr.Peck states, “Life is difficult,” and then goes on to say that as soon as people accept that fact and stop whining, then they can go about their lives in a more effective way.

June and I went through a season in which we devoured the words of Sarah ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance. We even gave each other gratitude journals and followed Sarah’s (we felt we were on a first name basis with her)  advice to write five things each day for which we were grateful. What this taught us was to be more mindful and to pay attention  to the good things in our lives.

And how can I forget Melody Beattie’s The Language of Letting Go? I can’t. In fact, I’ve  given several copies of this book away and currently have a copy here at home, at the beach bungalow, and on my Kindle. Sometimes I forget that I deserve all that life and love have to offer, and I need a reminder from Melody. I’ve also learned about detaching with love, the power of waiting, and knowing  when to say no from her.

Then there’s Dr. Stephen Covey and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I first read this book 14 or 15 years ago, and I continue to dip into it whenever I need a reminder to be proactive, make some deposits in an emotional bank account, or sharpen the saw. Everyone who knows me knows I’m a big Covey fan.

Though small, Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved my Cheese? also gave me much food for thought. A student introduced me to this book, and his favorite line soon became one of mine: “It is safer to search in the maze than remain in a cheeseless situation.”

Before I get too carried away with more favorites, I just want to reiterate that reading can change a person’s perspective, lift her out of the doldrums, and show her a better way. I’m hoping that my new book, Eve’s Sisters, a compilation of essays applying psychological principles to the women of the Bible AND the women of today, will help people as much as other books have helped me!

Yesterday was awesome. In fact, the entire Labor Day weekend was extraordinarily memorable, and I think one reason is because I disciplined myself to be especially mindful of all of the good things going on around me. It’s easy, oh so easy, to concentrate on what you don’t have than what you do, and I’ve been making a conscious effort to work on that.

For starters, as soon as I got to the beach Friday, my young friend Lisa stopped by, and she and I went to Abuelo’s for lunch. Love that place! The ambience and food are both good, and on that day, so was the company. In fact, Lisa probably served as a catalyst for my positive thinking because one of our conversation topics was how fortunate we are to have so many good things going for us in the good old U.S. of A.  I could list some of the things we mentioned, but I won’t. You need to come up with your own list.

After our shrimp chowder and yummy salads, we did a little shopping at Ulta, and I’ve been enjoying the fragrance of my pomegranate lime soap ever since. Isn’t amazing how scents can evoke feelings? We scooted up and down Hwy. 17 a little bit, and Lisa declared that she was seeing parts of the beach she’d never seen. Before a scenic cruise through the Myrtle Beach State Park, we visited the best frame shop on the east coast, The Frame Factory. Seriously, y’all, I’ve been taking things there to be framed for 12 or 13 years, and I’ve always been tremendously pleased. The price, quality, and service are without parallel. (I hope they read this and give me a discount on my next item.)

After Lisa left to join friends in Windy Hill, I hustled down to the strand to get my four miles in. It was indescribable…so I won’t even try.  My brother Mike, his wife Lisa, and their granddaughter Madison soon arrived, and the four of us went out to dinner. Loved catching up with everyone, especially young Madison whom I hadn’t seen since October. She’s delightful, pretty, smart, and well-mannered.

After a brief rendezvous with the above on Saturday morning, my daughter Elizabeth and I took off for Rincon, GA where my grandson Seth was to be blessed in church the next day. We decided to make a genuine road trip out of it, so this time we headed towards Charleston instead of Turbeville (where we usually hop on I-95). It took a lllooonngggg time going that way, but we had fun along the way, including a trip to Target in Mt. Pleasant and a trip over the Arthur Ravenel Bridge (a.k.a. Cooper River Bridge).

Bedraggled but happy, we arrived at Carrie and Rich’s house in Rincon about five hours later. After tons of kisses and hugs from the little ones, we jumped in our cars and headed to Pooler, a city not far from Rincon.  We dined at Cheddars, a busy buzzy restaurant with tasty food, reasonable prices, and a huge fish tank stocked with several varieties of pretty fish. The children loved watching them swim around and around. So did I!

Sunday arrived. Time for Sacrament service in Rincon. There aren’t sufficient words to express how it felt to be sitting there with my daughters and five of my grandchildren.  “If  only Paul and Amanda and Olivia could be here, it’d be perfect,” I found myself thinking. Having my husband there would have been nice too…not to mention the baby’s grandfather. “Wait a minute, Jayne. Can’t you concentrate on the people who are here?”  I could and did.

After the blessing, as I walked little Seth up and down the hallway outside of the chapel, I looked down at his perfect face. His dark blue eyes were staring up at me, scanning my face for clues about what was going on, and I thought, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” But I was wrong. Over the sound system, I heard the sweet little voice of Brooke, my oldest granddaughter. Only six years old, she’s courageous enough to walk up on the stand and bear her testimony month after month, something that still leaves me shaking in my shoes. Sunday she reminded everyone to listen to the Holy Ghost so they’d know the right thing to do. 

After lunch, Lib and I headed back to the SC coast. We took turns driving, and while she napped, I listened to Sarah’s Key on my Kindle. Although it’s a work of fiction, it’s based on factual events that occurred in France in 1942. It was gut wrenching, heartbreaking too. I recalled the conversation Lisa and I had in Abuelo’s two days prior and thought, “I will never ever complain about family, food, soft mattresses, or the government again.”

Fast forward to Monday morning.  After breakfast, I went with Mike and his family for a walk on the beach. Cloudy and overcast, the sky threatened to send a deluge any moment. It began to sprinkle, and Mike and Lisa left Madison and me on the beach. Only 10, she’s a delightful little girl, and we had a great talk. She loves little kids and wants to be a pediatric cardiologist one day.

Back at our little bungalow, I cleaned and packed and puttered. When I glimpsed out the window, I saw a beautiful sight: el sol shining brightly in a blue sky filled with puffy white clouds. “What’s 45 minutes in the grand scheme of things?” I asked myself while putting my beach chair in the car. I drove over to the state park and found the perfect spot for my chair. Ah, bliss. The gentle breeze, the roar of the ocean, and the sun gliding in and out from behind the clouds made for a perfect hour to read and savor the final moments of another summer season. I found myself thinking, “If only I could stay longer,” and then replaced it with, “I’m so fortunate to be able to relish these moments.”

I stopped by my lovely daughter’s house on the way out of town, and I stood over her while she signed up for the Outer Banks 8K on November 12th. It’s a family thing, and this year Elizabeth, Carla, and Sarah Beth will be joining us. Yay!

Life is grand. Remind me of this if you hear me whining. We all have a lot of good stuff going on in our lives. Just take a look around.

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