Ring in the Season

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I am thinking of Christmas bells today and how they traditionally herald in the season. There are many song lyrics sung by carolers that incorporate a story of tolling bells.
When I think of bell choirs, which are a beautiful addition to any church service, I can’t help but think of my lifelong friend Marge and her husband. Their acts of love in remembrance of their child is a lovely gesture that echos year after year in my heartstrings. Jessie suffered from a heart ailment and when she passed away as a tiny infant, the family requested that donations of kindness be given toward buying bells to build a bell choir for a church.

HandbellGroup

On Christmas and Easter and a few other times throughout the year, Marge and her husband and their two surviving children ring the hand bells at their church in memory of Jessie and all the other children who are not here to celebrate Christmas and other holidays with their families.

Today I think of all the bell choirs who bring joy to people during the holiday season ~

“A bell’s not a bell ’til you ring it – A song’s not a song ’til you sing it – Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay – Love isn’t love ’til you give it away!”
Oscar Hammerstein II

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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

All for the Children

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The other day I heard a story that warrants repeating. It’s full of kindness.

My parent’s neighbor recently lost his mother who lived to a ripe old age. The son was with his mother in her final moments when she was not real lucid. A group of children were in her vision. Clearly she saw them.

Upon her death, there was $200 dollars in her account that the son pondered what to do with. He remembered his mom’s final moments of seeing children and decided to give the money to his cousin who is a pastor to use for Vacation Bible School. He requested that the funds be used to “buy the kids all the ice cream they could possibly eat.”

One day my parent’s saw a school bus go by their house. “Unusual,” they said to each other. No kids lived on their street. It stopped at the head of their neighbor’s driveway and children boisterously filed off the bus and headed down the long driveway towards his house.

ice creamThe children had come to surprise and thank the good soul who had given the funds on his mother’s behalf to insure the kids had a fulfilling day at Vacation Bible School. They presented the donor with a big thank you card they’d made themselves.

Moral of the story: “No beauty shines brighter than a good heart.” ~ Unknown

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

Advent Day #18 Setting in Story

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JSC photo

Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.” ~ Robert Kennedy

 

Photo: A setting in the story from a Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected

During such a joyful season, we must remember that for some, the holidays can be distressing, depressing and full of challenge to get through. As related in “Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected” sometimes it takes a painful experience for us to grasp the true value of life or turn tragedy into triumph

On this 18th Day of Advent, this place in the photo brings me bittersweet memories. The very of best times and the very worst. It takes reading my memoir to understand why.

What a reader has said about the award-winning memoir “This is a story of trust, faith, friendship, and deep love for one another.” ~ Barbara Guelder, Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist and co-author of “Social and Emotional Learning in the Classroom.http://successfulkidstoday.wordpress.com/

For more information on Sue Batton Leonard’s award-winning memoir, please visit these links.

Audio Book  http://amzn.to/1trrTl9
Paperback  http://amzn.to/1qmcEHI
e-Book  http://amzn.to/1lx7oRh

 

 

Conscious Decisions

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Joy is the echo of God’s life in us.” ~ Abbot Coumba Marmion

Happy New Years Eve! If last year was a rough year for you, I am sorry. I hope 2014 will be much better. I’d like to share with you a story of someone who despite unimaginable trials and tribulations has managed to find fulfilling things in her life.

The other evening I was watching the news and Scarlett Lewis, a mother of a little boy who was shot and killed in the Newtown school massacre was being interviewed. She was so inspiring. I offer a link to a video of the interview -take a few minutes to watch it. http://bit.ly/1fCw9VA.

When asked how she gets through the day after having suffered such a terrible loss, she told of how an inspirational message her son, Jesse, had written on the chalkboard hanging in the family home before he went to school the morning of his death, has brought her joy. Jesse’s heroic actions in trying to protect other children and the teachers has also brought her a sense of comfort and peace. She feels that he was trying to fulfill his mission that day as a savior and champion.

choose joy1Lewis has written a book called Nurturing Healing Love: A Mother’s Journey of Hope and Forgiveness  that will inspire anyone who is dealing with hurt, loss, grief and difficult circumstances. She explains how making a choice to forgive has given her “an equation for moving forward in a positive way.”

Lewis has also started a foundation in honor of her son. Please visit this link. www.jesselewischooselove.org.

Stories such as these make us realize how precious life is and to embrace those we love with great joy this day and every day.

This blog brought to you by www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com. Do return to a new year on All Things Fulfilling tomorrow!

Thoughtful Thursday: Opening Up Discussion

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trevor boehm quote

Happy Thoughtful Thursday! Today, I would like to share an interview that I had with Ali Boehm earlier in the week. She owns an award-winning healing business called “Kneading Hands” Massage. She is also the driving force behind a book, authored by her brother, Trevor.  The Boehm family published “Louie’s Saxophone” to help people struggling with mental illness.

Here is our interview:

Sue: Today is the first of many Thoughtful Thursdays to come on All Things Fulfilling. I continue to be inspired by your family’s story. The loss of your brother has been turned into a positive mission.  More than a year ago, I featured your brother Trevor’s award-winning book “Louie’s Saxophone” on All Things Fulfilling and I would like to feature it once more. http://bit.ly/1auIRSD

In a few weeks you will be participating in an event at Bermis Hall at Colorado College sponsored by the National Alliance of Mental Health. You will be sharing “Louie’s Saxophone” which has the potential to help many people. Tell me  more about the event.

Ali: On November 14th (at 6:30 pm) in Colorado Springs, CO I will be a speaking out, sharing our family’s experience at the National Alliance on Mental Illness. It will be an evening of story and song called Silence No More. People will also be reading poetry and expressing themselves through the power of dance. Kathy Brandt and Max Maddox will also be sharing their book “Walks on the Margins: A Story of Bipolar Disease.”

Sue: What will you will be specifically speaking about?

Ali: This time when I speak at the NAMI event, and now that more time has passed since the loss of my brother, I will be reflecting on what I think Trevor would be doing if he was still here with us.

Sue: Tell me what purpose you feel Louie’s Saxophone plays in helping people with mental illness?

Ali: That no one is alone. The book, in a gentle way, opens a door to talk about a sensitive subject matter. I believe that my brother’s struggles began at age 8, and a children’s book becomes a family place for education at a very young age.

Sue: What has your family learned about the power of books to change lives by  publishing Louie’s Saxophone?

Ali: People believe in the written word.  A book creates a space for reflection and gives power to legitimize the healing process. Initially we thought we’d do a pamphlet, but a book has more credibility.

 Sue: How does it make you feel to know that you are helping others by sharing the story Trevor left behind?

Ali: Humbled. The book is powerful and it puts me in a position that facilitates discussion. I do not have all the answers, and sometimes that is scary. But I can provide and find resources.

Ali: Where should people who are struggling go to seek help? Can you give me a few resources?

Sue: Ali, It’s been a good day if by publishing this interview on-line if we can help even a single person to know that they are not alone and they can open up about their own depression or sadness. Best to you with the NAMI event, I am so proud that you are part of We Write Steamboat networking group for independent publishers . You are sharing an important story.

This blog brought to you by www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com. See you tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling.

Gatsby Groupies

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 “Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

gatsbyI feel as if I am becoming a Gatsby groupie! Today I walked into the Bud Werner Library, and saw a display case announcing the next One Book Steamboat (a community read). It is The Great Gatsby.I’m in,” I thought, as I proceeded to the DVDs and took out the 2000 production of The Great Gatsby movie by A & E Television Networks. Then I wandered over the computer and put in a reserve for a copy of the book by the same title.

I guess I haven’t had enough of the Fitzgeralds, the Jazz Age and the Long Island social elite even though last summer on my vacation, I took in the movie The Great Gatsby with my sister and I also hawked my mother’s copy of  Zelda and read it.

Truthfully, I was disappointed in the latest rendition of the movie, with Leonardo DiCaprio. The visual effects, I felt, were so over the top and frantic that it distracted me from being able to absorb the tragic tale of wealth and entitlement. The telling essence of Jay Gatsby’s character weaknesses were lost in the visual chaos of the movie, rather being told by the dialogue of the story.

The book Zelda, for me, provided much better insight into the psyche of an artist who “never wanted to give in or give up” despite failure and rejection. The narrative told an up-close and personal story of the relationship between wife and husband, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald and it gave historical perspective into their friendships with other contemporaries (filmmakers, writers and artists) from the era.

As a lead-up to the community discussion of the novel, on October 10th, the latest Leo Dicaprio version of “Gatsby” will be aired at the Bud Werner Library. I’ll probably skip it. But then again, perhaps with a second look I might have a different opinion. But I hope not to miss what will probably be a very fulfilling discussion on Monday, October 21st.  It will be led by the English teachers of SteamboatHigh School. I hope students are required to join in and read this classic novel.  For more information, please follow this link. http://www.steamboatlibrary.org/events/one-book-steamboat

Come on back tomorrow to All Things Fulfilling. This blog brought to you by www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com.