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!

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Friendship and Courage

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Friends give us the courage to lift the blinds on our hearts. To open up and show what we generally keep hidden from the rest of the world.” ~ Unknown

One day, several months after Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected was published, my phone rang. It was a surprise call from one of my childhood friends.

“How did you do that?” asked the caller.

“Do what?” I asked.

“Write all that stuff about yourself.”

“I don’t know, ” I said to my friend. “I felt the need to tell the story and share it with children who are going through tough stuff in life. Besides, I felt safe. I knew that my true friends who didn’t know about my childhood medical history, wouldn’t abandon me when they knew the facts. (And believe me – to many my story came as a surprise!) True friends don’t do that.”

GS2When I spoke with the Girl Scouts this spring we talked about the importance of  including a diversity of people in our circle of friends. “People who may be different can teach us to look at things differently,” I said.

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As the eve of the Girl Scout Campfire and Reunion approaches, can’t help but think about the song we used to most frequently sing in Girl Scouts. “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.”

I look forward to making new acquaintances with others who also benefitted from the days of being a member of the Girl Scouts.

Hanging onto Childhood Memories

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Nature is the art of God ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Jan, stop!” I yelled out to my twin sister as she pedaled ahead of me on her bike.

“What for?” she yelled back to me loudly.

“I just saw something in the woods, and I want to go back. I’m wondering what it is.”

The other day my sister and I were on the way back to my parent’s house from a bike ride. We had gone to collect some pears that we had spied the day before, from the car, on a tree in a vacant lot next door to the United Methodist Church on Taylors Island, Maryland.

“What was it you saw? An animal? ” Jan asked. The remote island of Taylors Island is well-known for it’s variety of shore birds, white-tailed and sika deer, wild turkeys and bald eagles. Dorchester County Maryland  is also notable for it’s abundance of fish, crabs and oysters.http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/waters/

“I don’t know but it  was a cluster of  something pure white on the ground. That’s why I want to go back.”

“Ok, you lead the way.” Jan said. We turned our bikes around and headed back to the spot where I had seen the curiosity.

“It’s there. Through the woods, “ I said pointing. “ we’ll have to cross the ditch and hike in to it.”

We parked our bikes, which had baskets attached to them, laden with the wild pears. We had picked only fruit that had fallen from the tree because the pears hanging from the branches were too green and too far from ripening.

When I initially saw the objects of interest, I had gone through a list of things in my mind of what  I thought they could be. “Perhaps some trash, the tails of a herd of deer , who knows what. ” I thought. As we neared the white patches I had seen through the trees on the ground in the distance, I saw that they were round and nearly a foot in diameter.

“Look at that! They are  huge mushrooms.” I said, completely surprised by my findings.

“Wow! I sure wish I could show them to Rob!” Jan said. “But I don’t have my camera.” I knew Jan’s husband who has been a chef in our nation’s capital’s finest restaurants would be interested.

“Let’s pick a couple and show him,” I said. After I extracted their roots from underneath the bed of pine needles, I felt a little guilty. “Is it a crime to pick mushrooms or pears from the wild?” I asked my sister.

“Too late to think of that now,” Jan said, beginning to place the mushrooms in the bike basket.”Let’s put my jacket between the pears and the mushrooms in the bike basket in case they are poisonous.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “We shouldn’t let the pears and mushrooms touch.”

When we got back to the house we showed our unexpected treasures to our family members, and my brother-in-law looked up the mushrooms on the internet. “They’re edible!” Rob exclaimed.

“Sorry, I am not eating them.” I said, “I value my life too much. We could be wrong. Eating mushrooms from the wild is not a good idea unless you know for sure they are not poisonous.”

“I’ll stick to the pears,” Jan said. “I am not taking any chances.”

That night as I fell off to sleep I thought about our events of the day and what Tom Stoppard once said ““If you carry your childhood with you, you never grow older.” Riding bikes and exploring nature took me back to the days of my youth when my sister and I used to play in the woods and throw stones in streams and find all kinds of fulfilling things in nature to keep us busy.

Images of a few unexpected finds on our bike ride. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wild pears. They are delicious!

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Great-blue-heron

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That’s all for today!

This blog brought to you by the award-winning author, Sue Batton Leonard. For information on her award-winning memoir, Gift of a Lifetime:Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected,  please visit this site. http://amzn.to/1vDFUMt.

Retrospectively Speaking

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Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars.You have to let go at some point in order to move forward ~ Unknown

monkey barsThe over the past few weeks in my blogging I have been remembering some of  my younger days. I’ve often stated on All Things Fulfilling the importance of living life forward and not looking back. Yet, I have mixed opinions on that.

For some people, like myself, looking back gives me a sense of my origins, roots and stability. That is a fulfilling feeling. I feel great security in my family and knowing that my parents were always there for me, no matter what. I recognize how fortunate I am. Not every person has that.

Secondly, the retrospective perspective, when written in memoirs can be a powerful tool if it is used to help us review and understand what has or has not worked in the past.There is value in that. The drawbacks come when we get stuck in hindsight because that  does not allow for forward movement. And I get that.

The other day I came across an article that I thought might be of interest to people who like myself enjoy writing about memories. Scientists have discovered that there are, indeed,  some very good reasons to look back. http://nyti.ms/1l30IYZ.
This blog brought to you by author Sue Batton Leonard. Click here for information on Sue’s memoir, Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

 

 

 

 

 

Fulfilling Flashbacks

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“God has given us our memories that we might have roses.” ~ Unknown

Recollections bookThere is a book by Jim Chambers called,  Recollections: A Baby Boomers Memories of the Fabulous Fifties that is a fun read if you grew up in the 1950’s and 1960s and like to return temporarily to yesteryear. Although I believe in the importance of moving forward in my life, just thinking back to childhood days is fulfilling.

Click for info & ordering

The other day, I returned to my childhood, when I stopped by a snowball stand (also known as snow cones, in other parts of the country) for a treat down memory lane. Choosing a flavor has not become easier as an adult, I can assure you of that. Tutti-fruity, blood orange, thunderbird, lemon-lime, they all sounded good, but root beer eventually won out. The girl manning the stand rushed me to a quick decision when she looked at me with her beady eyes, as if to say “Hurry up lady, make up your mind, I’ve got along line of people waiting.”

As I sipped and crunched on the giant-sized cup of crushed ice with artificial flavoring, I thought back to all kinds of fulfilling thoughts of summer from the 1950s and 60s. Do you remember?

  • “Sea and Ski” suntan lotion? Back then, the thought of adding a sun block to the lotion would have been a travesty!
  • The drive-in movies? The audio box that hung from the window emitted sounds that crackled and broke up.
  • Lazy  days by the pool or laying on the bed reading The Bobbsey twin novels? One book after another?
  • Doing the twist or the “Freddie” with your friends? Loved the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Pappas, the Temptations, the Righteous Brothers and the Supremes.
  • Walking between bolts of fabric at the sewing store? Dreaming about patterns, colors and materials you’d need to make a back to school dress for      September?
  • Waiting for the weekly airing of Candid Camera? That show always tickled me pink.
  • Screaming like a raving maniac when the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan? How I adored Ringo and also Topo Gigio!

608-worldsfair-postcardI was keenly aware that our family shared a special privilege, the summer of 1964. We went to the World’s Fair in NY. Oh, how I wish my youngest brother was old enough to remember it. He was just a baby. I marveled at seeing the huge globe on display, and colorful flags from all the nations represented, surrounding it. Our family sang “It’s a Small World After All” the entire way back to Baltimore.

Ahhhh…childhood. Beautiful childhood. I had all the time in the world just to be a kid and play. Unfortunate that today, kids get rushed through it, isn’t it?

This  blog brought to you by Sue B Leonard, author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected Click for info & ordering Sue’s memoir and www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com. A company specializing in e-commerce and e-marketing for independent publishers.

Social and Emotional Learning

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There is always a moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. ~ Graham Green 

 Barb Gueldners book on Social and Emotional learningAn objective of teaching is to prepare children to be academically strong. It is also important to give children other skills they will need so they grow to be well-rounded adults, able to cope with the stresses of life. Teaching professionals are increasingly being asked to add social and emotional learning into the classroom. Having the right tools and resources to add this modality of teaching, is important. 

Social and Emotional Learning in the Classroom: Promoting Mental Health and Academic Success by Kenneth W Merrell, PhD and Barbara Gueldner
is just one publication offered by Guilford Press, a publishing company focused on providing “books, periodicals, software, and DVDs in mental health, education, geography, and the social and behavioral sciences.” 

A variety of teaching strategies, used in the classrooms, is offered in the book Social and Emotional Learning in the Classroom: Promoting Mental Health and Academic Success. The book also addresses how to incorporate these social and emotional learning principles into curriculum and, how to adapt the program for classes that have a range of academic needs and cultural diversity. 

Any learning program needs to be able to assess the program’s efficacy. This book also gives administrators and teachers ways to monitor progress and use the approaches outlined for utmost effectiveness.

Social and Emotional Learning in the Classroom: Promoting Mental Health and Academic Success, published in February 2010, was released in e-book format in March 2011. Both formats can be ordered through the Guilford Press website. Please visit this link. http://bit.ly/YdGhKL .

Teachers, add this publication to your bookshelf, and watch your students reap the rewards of being emotionally and socially fit.

Barbara Gueldner PhD

Co-author Barbara A Gueldner, PhD

Visit us again tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling, where sharing independent thoughts, words and views is all part of the business. This blog is brought to you by www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com.

A String of Summer Memories

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Childhood is the most beautiful of all life’s seasons.” ~Author Unknown 

Yesterday’s blog writing about summertime in Steamboat Springs, Colorado set-off a string of magical childhood memories of growing up in ‘burbs of Baltimore in the 1950s and 60s. When I return to that time and place in my mind,  it is so fulfilling that I enjoy remaining stuck there; not rushing back into present day life. 

Our neighborhood was outside Baltimore City limits, developed as part of the post WWII surburban boom. The community was filled with children to play with. In our family, as was the case in most others, kids were shooed out the door to play and not allowed to spend much of the day in front of the TV. Had we spent the amount of time in front of screens as kids do in this digital age, it would have given our mother apoplexy. Instead of being inside, our summer days were filled with: 

  • Spontaneous BBQs and games of softball with neighborhood families.
  • Running through the neighborhood playing flashlight and catching fireflies (lightning bugs as we called them).
  • Basking in the sun until our skin turned a lovely shade of toast.
  • Playing in the stream that bordered our family’s multi-acre wooded property.
  • Gathering green moss and piecing it together to make moss mattresses, in the woods, resembling patchwork quilts.
  • Doing swan dives, cannonballs and back-ward flips off the diving board in our family pool.
  • Listening to hits of the 1960s on my treasured transistor radio. It came complete with a wrist strap.
  • SummertimeVacation Bible School at the church my Dad built. http://bit.ly/jA0Cpp.  
  • Selling colorful tissue paper flowers, we had made, outside the neighborhood store
  • Taking a drawing class at the YMCA (I was no better at drawing than playing the clarinet). Some things are just not meant to be! 

Childhood times may be gone, but they need not be forgotten! Have you ever considered independently publishing your life story as a “love letter to future generations?”   Begin telling your life’s tale today! Don’t know where to start? There are companies that can help you along the way.  http://www.telling-your-story.com/seminars.htm

This blog brought to you by www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com.