Family of Composites

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Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life! ~Albert Einstein

“She’s just like her father,” or “the apple didn’t fall far from that tree,” is often heard at every family reunion, celebration of birth or funeral.

I challenge you to find a family where all members are exactly alike. The family of man is made up of  individuals with unique characteristics  – physical, emotional and intellectual. A group of composites makes life interesting.

When our family gets together we are loud and possibly overbearing to outsiders. Having a healthy sense of humor is the best defense a newcomer can arrive with if they want to survive the experience.

Crazy woman wearing a metal colander for a helmet

I am grateful that my family and all those who came to it through marriage enjoy being with each other.  We try to avoid talking politics or dietary choices. We have “agreed to disagree” on those issues. Sometimes we successfully respect the unspoken ground rules and other times things get a little vocal. What do you expect from a bunch of fruits and nuts from the harvest of America’s people who all have their own opinions and were raised differently?

As you will learn from my memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, we’ve had many crazy times around our family table whether it was a holiday or not. The audio book holds the real treasure and you can get a better picture of what I mean when you listen to the voices.

The recounting of those family stories (from the EVVY award-winning anthology) was before our clan expanded to include my husband and our offspring and my siblings spouses and their families. Since then, there have been more lessons of heart & soul that have been learned from extended family.




Sketches of Ancestors


Last week I was up against the clock. I hadn’t a thing to contribute to the genealogy writers group that I attend at our local library. Our meeting was impending and I felt pressure to be an active participating member by reading my writing.

In the wee hours of the morning, I suddenly awoke with a glimmer of a thought. As I lay in bed tossing and turning, mental images of my maternal grandfather were brought together as I recalled what my mom had told me through her storytelling. Finally at 2:30 in the morning I got up and began to put words to the depiction I had created in my mind of my deceased grandfather.

As I wrote I sipped a cup of chamomile tea, hoping that once I had put my thoughts to rest on a piece of paper, the tea would relax me and help me fall back asleep. No such luck.

I was so content with the picture I had painted with words of my maternal grandfather, the rest of the night I lay awake pondering it.

My maternal grandfather and my maternal grandmother both passed away when I was very young. Their presence is not in my childhood memories of thanksgiving tables my family and I have shared together. However through the tales of my mother, I can bring her parents alive through my writing.


Writing about the legacy and values of a family is never time wasted. It becomes part of our heritage.

family history



Film of Redemption and Hope

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He conquers who endures.” – Persius

I remember the day in August, 2010 when I was glued to the television as I watched a compelling news story unfold. A group of  33 workers in Chile were trapped due to a mine blast. These miners put their lives in danger every single day all for the sake of bringing gold and copper out from underground into the marketplace. I watched with rapt attention as experts in the field worked around the clock to save their lives.

The 33There is now a movie based on this story called The 33. It was released in theatres on November 13. Many of the details that could not be covered in short news clips I am sure are in the cinema release. What I had forgotten until I read the review of this movie is that the men were trapped underground for 69 days. Imagine that!

The moral of this survival-against-all-odds story is to never give up. This is a good movie for families, however, I would warn against young children watching this movie. It may be too unsettling and disturbing.

To watch a movie trailer or to read reviews and more about this movie, please visit this website.


Have a good weekend everyone! See you on All Things Fulfilling on Monday.

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, the author of the EVVY award-winning book, Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and Lessons of Heart & Soul.


Putting Back the Balance

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life like a bike

I love this image because it reminds me of a simple life – when tragedies such as what we just saw occur in Paris did not happen. A time when people were more caring toward their fellow man, had moral standards and pride that people worked hard toward achieving. Being a good, law-abiding citizen was something to be proud of.

Internationally things are a mess, and the only thing we can do as individuals is strive to do the right things in our own little worlds – in our families and in our neighborhoods and communities.

There is truth in the quotation “in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Physical activity is good for a healthy mind, body and spirit. But, moving constantly due to unnecessary holiday frenzy, climbing the corporate ladder or wanting to have it all and wanting it NOW can lead to burn out, stress and imbalance. Results or goal driven people have a difficult time recognizing when they are teetering, ready to crash, until its too late.

have a cuppaIt’s important to take time out for ourselves and our families. When you’ve been on a roll, it is even more difficult to lay down the law with yourself and call it day.

So, my writing today is sort and sweet. I’m going to pretend what retirement looks like for a just a few minutes, with help from this article.

Do return tomorrow on Film Friday. I will be posting some information about a  just released movie that you and your family might enjoy watching together. You may remember this story of hope as one of the most compelling news stories of 2010. I remember sitting in front of the television in rapt attention as the events of this day in history unfolded.

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of Lessons of Heart & Soul and the EVVY award-winning memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

A Classic Way of Life

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promoting-empathy-and-a-sense-of-community-4-638People are beginning to understand that wealth is not all about money. Real wealth means having good neighbors, living in a close-knit community, finding jobs whose real value is in the personal fulfillment it brings to us.

There is a new community in Devens, Massachusetts, called Emerson Green, whose goal is for it’s residents to “Come home to a connected, community-focused neighborhood that hearkens back to a simpler era – and looks ahead to a sustainable future, aimed at having it’s residents return to a classic way of life and a tight-knit community.” Something to really write “home” about if you are successful in finding such a place in this transient society.

Union Studios, national award-winning architects and co-developers for the project along with NOW Communities have designed the Emerson Green Project with the “right size” in mind. In other words, sustainable living. It has reused a plot of land  on the outskirts of Boston which used to be a military base. The homes, which have several different floor plan options, are as suitable for first-time home owners, families, professionals and empty-nesters alike.

Once the project is finished and people are well-established in their new community it would be fun to see if Emerson Green has met it’s the objectives of  providing a satisfying way of life which by design encourages social interaction. With our emigrating society, this is something more and more people are looking for because studies point to “social interaction” as a contributor to good health and longer living.

P.S. Having good resources such as an outstanding library helps to build great community. If you visit Union Studios website, take a few minutes to peruse information on the newly completed Tiverton Library project as well as other civic and residential projects the architectural firm has been involved with.

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of award-winning memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and Lessons of Heart & Soul.

Crafty & Committed Ladies

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“Each of us is an unique strand in the intricate web of life and here to make a contribution.” ~ Deepak Chopra

The place was a bee hive of activity last Thursday as the United Methodist Women prepared for their Fall Fare which took place on Friday, November 13th. The community at large looks forward to this event every year, and it part of the traditional holiday happenings in Steamboat Springs, CO.

As I helped the women get ready for the Soup and Pie lunch we recalled the names of several ladies who had been part of the past success of event but have moved to higher grounds. Their legacy still lives on. Take for instance, Hope. Someone in her family has seen to it that her special cardamom braided bread still appears at the bake sale. It arrived in a beautiful woven basket with a note saying it was “In Memory of Hope.” There was even a book that accompanied the delivery that held some dear pictures of the lady who always made this special contribution while on earth. When the basket arrived, I decided to add a little embellishment of festive ribbon to the bags of bread. Hope’s legacy was deserving!


Hundreds of people come through the open doors of the United Methodist Church annually to begin their holiday season at the bake sale and to have lunch with their friends.



There were also crafts (such as aprons, notecards, embroidered flour sack towels, handmade scarves and more), recycled Christmas decorations and Equal Exchange coffee and special vanilla from far off reaches of the world and jars of jellies and jams. The United Methodist Women of Steamboat Springs, Colorado take great pride in the event. They are crafty and committed. Many learned homemaking skills decades ago from being members of 4-H.




Do return to All Things Fulfilling tomorrow. We will be talking about trends in the building of NOW communities, and why this is important to the social, emotional health of our nation’s people.

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and Lessons of Heart & Soul.

Tree Decorating Lifts Spirits

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This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in. ~  Theodore Roosevelt

Last Thursday evening I had an unexpected request from Lift Up, an inter-faith thrift store and food bank where I volunteer twice weekly. I was asked if I would help decorate for the annual “Festival of Trees” at the Tred of Pioneers Museum in Steamboat Springs, CO. I and three other volunteers, who I rarely come in contact with each other, because of our differing schedules and duties, had a great time together!

Our tree was sponsored by the Community Food Bank at Lift Up. Ninety or ninety-five percent of the “food-themed” decorations that went on the tree were donated to the thrift store or came from recycled materials. Georgi, a very creative and energetic person had used her skills to make some of the ornamental food from plastic bags and “Mod Podge,” a crafting material. She also made the tree topper – a red chef’s hat. The tree turned out beautiful. Here are a few pictures.

Below: Georgi is here in Steamboat for a one year stint with the Colorado Episcopal Service Corps. She would make a great full-time resident of this community.  She has yet to experience a “three wire winter”  since she just arrived in town a few months ago from Pennsylvania.  (That’s what locals call winters when snow so deep it reaches the third wire on fences (in other words, it exceeds your armpits!). And it happens frequently.


Below: A few full-time employees of Lift Up

Lynn food bank mgr

Angela case worker

Below: Four representatives for all the dedicated people who make Lift-Up the

wonderful non-profit organization that it is.

Hundreds and hundreds of volunteer service hours are donated


Lift up volunteers

LU tree with topper

As Christmas grows nearer, I will share more pictures of the beautiful Festival of Trees from the Tred of Pioneers Museum on All Things Fulfilling. They were all delightfully decorated.

I was fully thrust into the festive spirit and it continued the next day as I helped the United Methodist Women prepare for the Fall Harvest Fair. We wrapped and priced all the baked goods, jellies, jams.

Come back tomorrow to see what that shopping experience looks like. Hundreds of people come through the open doors at the United Methodist Church every year to shop for the holidays and fill their empty stomachs at lunchtime with homemade soup and bread.

This blog is brought to you by  EVVY award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, Sue Batton Leonard.