Celebrating Non-Traditionally

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We didn’t know we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun!” ~ Unknown

Is there a Thanksgiving from your past that was


more memorable than any of the others?  I have several. They were all spent at the beach with our two first cousins, Joe & Hope, rather than at home in suburban Baltimore. Of course, my mother’s brother Uncle King, who was always the life of the party was in attendance along with our aunt Dot, whose good humor matched her life partner’s. Uncle King is one of several outstanding characters in my memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

These special turkey days were back in the 1960s before Ocean City, Maryland became a year-round beach resort. The place was empty, a good reason to visit during off-season. Friends and neighbors thought we were crazy spending the holiday on a bitter cold beach rather inside sheltered around our huge fireplace in the house.

As soon as we arrived at the beach cottage our Uncle King made us gather. He started itching to play cards and we’d play so many rounds of gin rummy throughout the weekend our eyes became bleary.

Walks on the beach and building sand castles were customary. Touch football on the shore was a challenge because of the strong fall gales, and running quickly is difficult to achieve when the surface beneath your feet is soft. But to young children the ocean breezes slapping at our faces added to the adventure. We’d start a bonfire on the beach, wrap-up in blankets and sleeping bags and anything else we could find to keep us warm and outside playing.

vintage-thanksgiving-turkey-with-pilgrims-family1A few days prior to Thanksgiving Day, we and our cousins planned for the traditional “Landing of the Pilgrims on the Beach.” The live theatre experience was always requested by our parents. The re-enactment involved lots of hilarity. Our lines got mixed up or forgotten and we’d have to ad-lib and try to remember what we said the year before.

Lots of hot cocoa for the children, and more potent libations for the adults along with a bounteous feast of food graced the table all weekend. We were squeezed like sardines into the rented little cottage but that added to the family togetherness.

Today I’d like to say thanks to my parents for insisting that sometimes we do things a little differently than the traditional holiday experience. They are a large part of why being a “Batton” was so much fun!

Finding the Upside to Life

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When you were a child, do you remember sitting at the Thanksgiving table being asked what you were thankful for? It was so awkward. I hoped and prayed that all things that anyone could possibly be grateful for would be mentioned before it was my turn to speak up.

There was always the person at the table that had some profound thought or reflection to share but not in my family. Thankfully, I am happy that we were allowed to be silly and if the only thing we could think of was to say we were grateful for our animals, that was good enough. No stiff collars in our clan.

So, on this day before Thanksgiving, here is my thought for tomorrow. I am immensely happy to spread the joy of this notion with you, if you can relate to it!

mother cutting hair

Whenever you are having a bad day, I’d suggest visiting this website. There are also lots of fun things “from out of the mouths of babes” to  turn your frown upside down on this You Tube video

As we age, we begin to recognize the upside to the downside of life. It was the impetus behind my writing of an award-winning anthology of stories called Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. With age, comes wisdom.

See you back here tomorrow on Turkey Day, I will be sharing more memories of Thanksgivings of my childhood. This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

Somewhere, a Twin Out There

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“Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.” ~― José N. Harris, MI VIDA: A Story of Faith, Hope and Love
I’ve been feeling a little sad lately. My twin and I went to college with two other sets of twin sisters. A few weeks ago, I learned through web connections that one of the matched sets suffered the loss of her sister.  I have felt empathetic pain deep in my heart for the remaining sister as well as sorrow for the death of the other half. Life will certainly be different for the survivor and grief is handled differently by each person.  I hope the surviving sister can find solace in all the things that she finds fulfilling in her life.

According to Psychology Today, the loss of a twin is  unique grief because twins hold special love and kinship with one another. If you’ve never thought yourself as a twin, according to Julie Dillon, we all have twins out there in the world. If you share a rare bond with a friend, you know what it is like to have a kindred spirit.

For some people it may take a lifetime to find a companion who you feel an extraordinary connection with. It took three minutes for my double to appear in my life. Although we are not identical, the fraternal connection is very strong and different than the the other relationships in my life. My twin and I have laughed together, cried together, been partners in mischief, learned some hard lessons as a united team and celebrated as siblings who were born on the same day from the same mother.

twin hearts

 

I  didn’t mean to end this Friday on a “downer” but sometimes if we put voice to our emotions through writing, it helps us to feel a little better.  Anyone who has lost a very, very special friend will relate to this writing.  We are all human beings, and grief, in many forms, comes to each one of us at one time or another. It is part of the human condition and with each loss we are reminded to “treasure your relationships not your possessions.” ~ Anthony J. DeAngelo

 

See you on Monday with more happiness in my heart! I  have faith that it will be so! I promise~~

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.  For information on her publications Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart and Soul.

 

 

 

A Holiday Challenge

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If you visited All Things Fulfilling yesterday, welcome back! We are grateful for our strong reader base that is continually growing!

Getting back to the basics has been a topic this week and today we will continue that theme. Combating the high value placed on material goods is a struggle for some families. Last night, I became aware of an initiative that might seem just right for your family. If not this year, perhaps it’s something to work towards in the future.

As you put together your holiday gift list, strive to give your loved one’s

only one of  these four things:

only-4-christmas-gifts-for-kids-something-you-want-something-you-need-something-to-wear-and-something-to-read.

 Add one more item to this list.  #5 Teach your children the value of giving to others.

Pick out one  item from these four categories and donate it from your family to another family in need in your community.  Have your children go along for the ride and drop it off at a thrift shop, a Salvation Army box, a local church, a non-profit organization or a community food kitchen. Although it may not seem like much, keep in mind that for many receiving all four items for Christmas would be beyond their wildest dreams.

Remember: People overestimate the pleasure they’ll get from having more stuff. This does not apply to new rose bushes, crayons, or yarn stashes. ~Dr. SunWolf

(P.S. Because it is wavering Wednesday, you are allowed to modify this quote with what feeds your soul!)

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

 

 

Reflections of Parents

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Yesterday, November 8th, was National Parents as Teachers Day.

food-for-thought-lectures-to-nourish-your-mind-86132072Children often take on their parents values, political views, styles of communication, the way they treat others and view the world. It helps to remember that you are raising a future adult rather than a child. “He or she is just a child” is an idea that some parents find hard to give up as their child grows. Before you realize it your child becomes a teen.  If you’ve never asked them to take on responsibilities it will be reflected when the teenage years begin.

The other day I read a statement that really made an impression on me, it said “If your child can use a cellphone, he or she can run a washing machine.” I’d like to add to that –  and set the table, load the dishwasher, feed the pets, take out the trash. A child no matter what age can contribute to the everyday responsibilities of a household.

If there are values or behaviors that  you’d LOVE  to see come back and haunt you, instill and teach those things to your children. Thoughtful parenting takes work. Just a little food for thought.

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

 

Harvest of Life Lessons

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“For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.” –   Edwin Way Teale

Greetings! It is a fabulous fall morning. I’d like to send out an invitation for you to come to my house! Enter through the doors of my childhood through my publication Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

In my youth I was kept in stitches by a beautiful character named Fanny and my heart was sewn together too. Both were gifts that led me to live a fulfilling life. Through my memoir, I share a harvest of life lessons taught to me by my strong family.

The teapot is filled in anticipation of your coming, there are homemade ginger snaps on the table and I hope you will enjoy the inspiring words of my beloved Fanny during this fine fall season. The real treasure lies in the voice in the EVVY award-winning audio book. But if you prefer the paperback or a digital download of an e-book, those are available too!

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Happy Harvest Everybody! Do return tomorrow and on Friday I want to tell you about an event that I just received an invitation to that will take me back to my childhood days. I am very excited.

 

Telling Narratives

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Memoir isn’t the summary of a life, it is a window into a life, very much like a photograph in its selective composition… its a deliberate construction. – William Zinsser

So, you’ve decided to turn your geneaology research into a publication but there are missing pieces of the puzzle. That concerns you. Don’t let it stop you. You could search till doomsday and never find what you are looking for. Move ahead…

Sometimes you have to narrate a story with only the facts as you know them. The creative part of memoir writing is what is fun! It allows you to fill in the blanks as best you can. But make sure you create missing content that falls in line with your fact gathering.

And don’t forget to add a disclaimer in your book something to the effect that  you have created a narrative based on the facts as you have them. That’s the best an author can do when resources have been exhausted.


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Next week on  Things Fulfilling we will give you some good resources to help you identify where and how to begin writing a family story.

This blog is brought to you by 2014 EVVY award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.

Stitching People and Yarns Together

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Art and life are not separate domains.” ~ Piet Mondrian

“What a good way to end a work week,” I thought, as I sat among a group of about 14 other knitters at Sew Steamboat. The group meets each week after work hours on Fridays. I had made a promise to myself that I was going to sit and stitch with this group once summer was over. Last Friday I joined in. Since I’ve taken a knitting hiatus over the past 27 years, I was looking for support and fellowship among fellow fiber enthusiasts in the community where I live. Others have the same objective when they join in on similar crafting groups.

It was refreshing to see a male  in the group. He is a visitor to the community from California. By the yarns he told this gentleman is a very accomplished craftsman who sheers sheep, spins the wool and then turns it into creative projects. “Kudos to this ambitious fellow,” I thought, as I listened to his stories. His daytime job is a family physician, so I guess it could be said “he stitches people and yarns together.

Here are a few pictures that I took at Sew Steamboat. The room was so light-filled, the photos did not turn out very well, but you’ll get the picture!IMG_20150918_162912_617

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Since today is Film Friday, I’d like to share information about a book to film adaptation which may be of interest to  other knitting enthusiasts.  Friday Night Knitting Club written Kate Jacobs is in stages of development. Keep your eye on this site for more information.

That’s all from All Things Fulfilling today. Have a good weekend. Enjoy the fall season. We’ve already had some snow on the upper peaks here in northwestern Colorado. Morning temps are already sometimes below freezing! Good time to knit myself a woolen scarf and socks!

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of the EVVY award-winning memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. The publication is available in audio book (the real treasure is in the voice), paperback and e-book.