Reaching for Heaven

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“We shape our dwellings, and afterwards, our dwellings shape us.” – Winston Churchill

Building custom homes and places of faith have been projects that my family’s 100+ year old construction company has been involved with through the decades.

This fall in keeping with work of the men in the family who came before him, my youngest brother Scott soared up toward heaven to inspect the steeple at St. Johns Church in Reisterstown, Maryland in order to assess the necessary restoration project of Batton Builders. Interestingly, the church was built in 1816 and then destroyed by fire on Christmas Day and only the steeple and cornerstone of the church survived. The ediface was rebuilt in 1869.  The History of St. John’s Church, Western Run Parish from 1800-2000 by Margaret Worrall details the history of this church.

Since I wrote about the family building business in Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, today on All Things Fulfilling I thought I’d share with our readers these photos of a church restoration Batton Builders has recently been involved with. What a magnificent structure!

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St Johns

 Thankfully there is no fear of heights in the family.

scottSee you tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling.

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

Balance of Power and Economy

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Before you become a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. ~ Jack Welsh

Beth Macy, author of the National Best Selling book Factory Man, held an author talk and book signing in Steamboat Springs, Colorado a few weeks ago. I attended and bought the book. It is a narrative non-fiction about Bassett Furniture Makers. The story is jam-packed with complicated family relationships, history and a whole community of people whose lives depended upon the livelihood of the textile and furniture industry in the town of Bassett, Virginia.

big_chair_little_chairAt the foundation of the story is a “full of himself” character who often strained the family dynamic with his leadership style. Add to that the exodus of industry – furniture products being manufactured overseas more cheaply, and the battle that ensued in saving an American town. What do you have? An impressive and fulfilling tale to tell.

A very well-researched book that award-winning journalist Macy writes in a compelling and “you’ve gotta hear this style.”

Business people in every industry at all eschelons of power will glean something from this story about a multi-generational family furniture dynasty.

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

Less Words Said the Better

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CD cover templit with EVVY stickerToday I’d like to tell a “Fanny story” in honor of my Dad. If you haven’t read my award-winning memoir, Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, Fanny is the stellar character in the narrative. Although, you’ll realize my parents are pretty special people too!

Here goeth the story –

Between my mother, who is rarely at a shortage for words, twin daughters who when paired together is enough to make anyone ask for some earplugs and the self-appointed boss (our beloved Fanny), my father often got over-ruled by women. Yes, it happens!

Anyway, my Dad is patriarch of the Batton clan and the family custom home building business, now five generations deep. Until his “renaissance years” he had a home office and often met with his clients at our house.

One day a couple who my father was building a home for arrived at our front door for their meeting at the appointed time. They knocked and were greeted by Fanny wearing her unique hat on her head. (You’ll have to learn more about that by reading Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.) She kindly welcomed them in and called throughout the house “Mr. Battoney, Mr. Battoney (aka Mr. Batton)….dey is a man and lady here ta see ya.”

My father came from the back end of the house. Immediately Fanny began giving my father marching orders that went something like this. “Mr. Battoney, when I gets done moppin’ dis floor I needs ya to move dis furniture back inta place. Ya’ll move along now so I can mop under yo’ feet. Den, Mr. Battoney, I needs ya to go get da ladder and change da light bub here in da foyer,” she said,  pointing up to the cathedral ceiling above her head. “Den when you is done wid dat…….” Fanny continued on as she started down the stairs to the lower level of the house to get something.

My Dad’s clients stood silently and wide-eyed looking at the woman with the strange hat on her head. When Fanny was well out of sight the woman, my father’s client, turned to my father and said “Clearly, we know who is the boss in this house. There is no question!”

“Uh-huh,” said my father in his typical less words said the better fashion. No other words were needed.

On this Father’s Day, I’d just like to tell my father that he takes the cake! He is my hero for putting up with every one of us!

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard.

 

 

 

 

Finding a Good Fit

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Religion is like a pair of shoes…..Find one that fits for you, but don’t make me wear your shoes.”
George Carlin

hAPPYNESS IN SOLE

Today on this Thirsty Thursday, one day of the week All Things FuIfilling is dedicated to good news, I’d like to share an architectural wonder that perhaps has greater meaning than what was intended by the firm who created it.

I was drawn to an article about this holy place since the building of churches goes way back to the first generation in the history of my family’s five generation construction business.

There is a house of worship designed and built by the architectural group, Gijs Van Vaerenbergh, in Borgloon, Belgium that takes seeing religion from different perspectives to a whole new level.

The good news is that there are many kinds of religions throughout the world. If you live in a truly free society, individuals get to select the religion that best aligns with their own principles and values, or we can opt out of being a believer of any sort.

Images in the article I’ve linked to this website tell the rest of this story. Put your Sunday shoes on, any kind will do, and take a few minutes to enter into this unique church. View the images and you will see what I mean. To learn more about the construction of the structure, visit this website.

That’s all for today! See you tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling. We will be sharing an upcoming educational event that is good news for independent publishers or for people who are thinking of writing their own stories of any type (faith stories, memoirs, fiction, non-fiction or creative writing through the form of poetry, song lyrics or screenwriting).

 

Harvest Full of Blessings

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“All-cheering Plenty, with her flowing horn, Led yellow Autumn, wreath’d with nodding corn.” ~Robert Burns, poet

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“Dad… Mom… I’m home!” I yelled out, when I arrived at my parents place in Maryland along the trail of my East Coast book tour. “Let’s party!”

I hadn’t seen my parents since the publishing of my memoir back in March, and I was promised that once I got home, there’d be a celebration and reunion.

What a splendid time it was on the shores of the Chesapeake. Couldn’t have asked for more stellar weather  to celebrate being with my family, my hard work and the real star of the story, Fanny!

This day there is no need for too many words.The pictures will tell the tale of a few fun filled  days with remembering the best things about all being together under one roof. Unfortunately, not everyone was present due to work and college obligations. Some missed the party, and I would have loved to have spent the day with them also. But, I can’t help but reflect on the harvest of blessings I have in my life. Here are some of them:

Photo Below: Always the “bestest hostess” ever , my Mom! I swear the woman has hosted more family gatherings in her 85 yrs of life  than any person on the planet! IMG_20141025_103816_849

Two photos below: A beautiful fall day on the Chesapeake! Couldn’t have asked for much better!IMG_20141025_103556_906

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Above: My contribution to the party – I baked a pineapple-upside-down gingerbread cake and easy, flavorful pulled chicken sandwiches.(Thanks to http://www.mccormick.com/. A Maryland company!)  The cake was also yummy and definitely a do-over recipe. Will make again!

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Above: Me with my twin sister’s family – her two daughters and their partners. The guy and gal on each end of the picture are husband and wife architects – the Babcocks!

Below: Two great women in the kitchen – my mom and my niece Devon! She is usually at  http://www.milarepacenter.org/index.html, in their kitchen, cooking up nutritious food for one and all.

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IMG_20141025_134147_528Above: What’s a family get together without a few games? My brother-in-law, the REAL chef of the family setting up for a good wholesome Corn Hole Competition! My brother Scott and I were a champion team. We beat the pants off my twin sister and her team mate, Jay. (She’ll say I am exaggerating).

Below: The day was spiced with more family, food and discussion.

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Photo below: The patriarch and matriarch at the far end of the table – surrounded by  family (grandchildren, in-laws & significant others)

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Below photo: What’s a BBQ without ribs? My two brothers are digging into food instead of digging foundations. Thanks Scott, the ribs were melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and messy too!IMG_20141025_143533_873

Below: Jan looks like she is practicin’ to sing in the choir. Glad to see you are holding your hands like the Trapp Family singers always did in the “Sound of Music.”

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The end of a fabulous day on the Chesapeake Bay.
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I’m never at a loss for subject matters to continue a story with this family of mine that keeps on building and getting larger!

For some of us who can’t always get home for the holidays – we decided this was an early Thanksgiving! Tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling, I will show just a few more fruits of God’s creation that my sister and I discovered when we went biking and exploring in the woods together. It was just like old times.

This blog is brought to you by the award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard and her book Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. http://amzn.to/1vDFUMt.  More information will be coming later on in the week about a nationally broadcast book reading that I will be participating in soon. Thanks to blog radio! https://richerlifellc.com/Harvest_Book_Reading_2.html.

Between Spaces and Relationships

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“Irish blessing – May the memories that you hold be your precious true pot of gold.” ~ Tom Baker

My dad was a custom home builder, as was my grandfather, my great grandfather and now my two brothers and my nephew.

When I came across these vintage home pictures from the 1950s and 1960s, they stirred nostalgic feelings of an era past. The images reminded me of all the times my Dad came home with a new set of blueprints, and unrolled them on the kitchen and dining room table and explained the layout of the different styles of houses to us kids. I was always interested in seeing them and tried to envision the houses when completely constructed.

I came to know what markings were used to show where the doors and windows would be placed and whether they’d swing in or out. Other sets of plans showed where the beams and the roof trusses ran, and kitchen layouts. It makes me happy that my Dad took time to explain all that, because now I have a basic understanding of what I am seeing when I  look at a set of building renderings.

Back when I was a child then there were no CAD (computer assisted designs) or drawings. Each set of blueprints were painstakingly hand sketched using drafting tools such as protractors, rulers, t-squares, tracing paper and more. Trying to make changes to features in rooms and design was so tedious.

The reason I am sharing this information today is because many baby boomers might find fulfillment in seeing these home designs of the 1950s and 1960s.You or a neighbor may have lived in a house just like them!

Enjoy, and do return to All Things Fulfilling tomorrow. We often dig into the archives and find things to talk about that stir fulfilling memories for other people. Whether your childhood was spent in a big home or a little home – what unites happy families are the relationships that exist between the spaces.

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vintage house2vintage house1vintage house 7This blog brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard. For more information on her memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, please visit this link. http://amzn.to/1vFJw1u

Towson, Now and Then

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Friendship is…..one of those things that give value to survival.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Today I am going to take a trip down memory lane during the 1950s and 1960s  to my native stomping grounds of  Towson, Maryland (in Baltimore County) . It’s the  home of Goucher College http://www.goucher.edu/  and Towson State College (now known as Towson University)http://www.towson.edu . Johns Hopkins University http://www.jhu.edu/ and Loyola University http://www.loyola.edu/ are  just down the road in Baltimore City.

When I was a young girl, Towson Plaza, was our shopping mecca. Stores like Tuerks (Twerks, as Fanny the stellar character in my memoir called it), Reads Drugstore and The Plaza Florest were just a few of the stores located there. Of course, S.S. Kresges (aka  Kresgeree’s according to Fanny) was the “flagship store.” It anchored all the rest of the stores and really kept the shopping center active with business.

Towson Plaza

Just down the street, within walking distance was Towson Bootery, Stebbins Anderson, Finkelstein’s and Sunny Surplus – my Dad’s favorite store! The last time I went into Sunny’s was in the mid-to-late 1970s when I took my husband-to-be there. He nearly went crazy. I wonder if it’s gone out of business?

In the early nineteen-seventies, during the years I went off to college in Vermont, progress really began to take place.Commercial real estate development changed the entire look and feel of that area of town. Evidently, it’s gone through several renovations and revitalizations since then. Here’s a photo with just one of the crown jewel stores in the “Towson Plaza” area now.

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Although I visit family in Towson now and then, its been quite a while since I have been to the “Towson Plaza” area. I bet I’d have a hard time finding my way around. I’m hoping to return to the area this fall and do a book signing of “Gift of a Lifetime:Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.”

I’ll keep you posted. It would be wonderful to see old school friends, aquaintances and people who have done business with five generations of the Batton building businesses throughout Baltimore County and beyond.   http://on.fb.me/1k1hWb5  and http://bit.ly/1u2nrdE.

 

 

 

Memoirs Connect People

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Kit Cat

“Each day provides it’s own gifts.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

I am very excited! Last week I reconnected with a childhood friend who I have been out of touch with since I graduated high school in 1975. That was many,many moons ago – do the math!

Out of the blue, she connected with me through my Facebook page and said “that she had learned I had published a book and had ordered “Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected” for her Nook. She had questions about a few details of our childhood in trying to recall exactly when we moved down the street to our second childhood home, built by my father. When I was an newborn we lived next door to her parents. She said, “I still remember the cat clock you had in your bedroom.” Hard to believe after all these years she’d remember, with clarity, a detail like that.

Did any of you readers have a cat clock like the one in the image?  It’s still available through the Vermont Country Store! http://bit.ly/1hVqDkQ.

Mine hung in my bedroom. It  was a gift from my maternal grandparents to my twin sister and me.  They both passed away when we were very young children, and the clock is a remaining memory that I associate with my mother’s parents. I remember laying in my bed mesmerized every night watching the cat’s glowing eyes go back and forth, along with it’s swishing tail  until I drifted off into laaa laaa land.

What I have since learned from my childhood friend, Cindy, is that her sons, Brian and Jason Lyles, are involved with a publishing endeavor also. They recently published The Lego Neighborhood Book: Build a Lego Town  which gives tools to create your favorite architectural styles in homes and buildingsHow cool is that? http://bit.ly/1hd18dm 

If I hadn’t written a memoir, who knows if Cindy and I would have ever connected again throughout our lifetime! So today’s story is all about neighborhood and community connection! See you tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling.

 

 

Clearing the Way

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“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” ~ Pablo Picasso

Are you person who has always had an artistic calling, yet you have never pursued your passion in earnest? You are not alone. There are many people, for various reasons, who have had to travel down other career paths feeling they have not fulfilled their God-given talents.

Matt Tommey book1The book Unlocking the Heart of the Artist: Practical Guide to Fulfilling Your Creative Call as an Artist in the Kingdom speaks to this issue for the new generation of people who seek personal fulfillment as a priority in their lives. He invites others to live fully, doing what makes them happy, and to become “unstuck” by expressing themselves creatively.

The author, Matt Tommey, is a successful basket maker and art consultant from Asheville, North Carolina. His sensible messages to other artists, through his publications, helps clear the way of self-doubt by providing hope and insight to individuals who wish to thrive and become fulltime artists. His book Crafting your Brand: Simple Strategies for Cultivating a Successful Creative Career, is also a good resource for anyone who wants to pursue their calling.

A well-rounded artist, Matt Tommey,  makes a living in a combination of ways, also offering workshops on the craft of basketry. To learn more about his workshops,  how to order these publications and to see his website,  http://bit.ly/1bpQhI9 .

Do return tomorrow for Film Friday, we will be featuring a film that is soon to be released that plays well into our recent topics of writing on All Things Fulfilling. This blog brought to you by www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com.

Meeting Needs, Circuitously

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“I’m conscious of a series of circles working its way through my life.” ~ Ben Okri

Circle-Of-Life-(Small)

Image above: Artist Nathalie Parenteau

There has been a certain synchronicity lately on All Things Fulfilling around the theme of building things – building stone walls and memorials, building a beautiful home and family, building business through our passions, building meaningful relationships between people and community.

If you read yesterday’s blog called “Riding the Circuit,” there was a bit of self-deprecating humor over searching for answers to what the term “circuit rider” means. Here is a continuation of my story.

As a first time visitor, I opened the red doors to the tiny UnitedMethodistChurch on TaylorsIsland with quiet trepidation, and with much curiosity about what this “circuit rider” my mother spoke of might look like. I imagined someone in the pews would be wearing a cowboy hat, since that is what I had grown accustomed to seeing on Sunday mornings as I entered the UMC in Steamboat, Colorado. From my relatively new Western point of reference, in my mind a circuit rider is a cowboy who rides the rodeo circuit.  

In I entered. I sat in a pew behind a small group of people who turned, smiled warmly and said “Good morning, welcome!” 

“No cowboy hats in this crowd, East coast dress code” I thought. I sat quietly and reverently listening to small town conversation around me. Finally, someone remarked that “the Reverend must be running late.”

“No big deal,” I thought. I was used to people running late, in places where people recreate (in vacation places like shore towns and ski resorts) people have more laid back attitudes, and seem to run on their own time clocks. 

Finally, in the Reverend walked. What I came to find out after the powerful, inspirational sermon he delivered was that the “Rev ” is the “circuit rider” my mother talked about. He goes around fulfilling  the spiritual needs of people at four services, at four different churches on Sunday mornings. That’s why he is called a circuit rider! To read more about this preacher’s life, please visit this article. http://delmarvane.ws/1bqWxTq. This minister has been serving people for almost sixty-six years helping to build one-on-one relationships between people and God, in different communities.

Tomorrow, a shorter blog. I promise! This blog is brought to you by www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com.