Bringing Cheer over the Holidays

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Let’s state something up front! There is no perfect life. There just isn’t. Postings on social media might lead us to believe otherwise but, remember, we are often only seeing the good parts. During the holidays people ramp up their efforts to create images of having perfect lives and Christmases.

Everyone has struggles and things to overcome in life. But as they say, what you do with those challenges is what counts. That is why it’s important that for those who have inspirational stories to tell and feel they could write a book about it, to do so. The reason I penned a memoir in the first place was to help others who struggle with health issues understand that our attitudes profoundly affect our well-being.

I’m very proud to say that this past Christmas, thanks to the Mickey Barrows Memorial Endowed Fund which “benefits children who are confined to the hospital during the holidays,” copies of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected found their way to families through the Childrens Colorado Foundation in the Denver area. The hope for the initiative is that the book brought some smiles and cheer to faces and encouragement to teen cardiac patients who were hospitalized during the holidays. The book has won the Harvest Book Award in the young adult category and two EVVY awards from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association.

So, for anyone who is considering writing a narrative that will bring light and love to others, here is my message: Help others to know you are never alone.

Your story matters!

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

See you back here on Monday!



Story of Strife and Spirit

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A father is like a lighthouse standing tall above the sea’s. When the storms of life come crashing in, the light from your father you’ll see.~ Dana Roberts Clark

Ok, so I was miffed at my brother. So mad I was ready to smack him!
At sunset he took off across the Chesapeake Bay in his boat and the engine cut out and couldn’t be restarted. Not his fault. It happens.

My upset came when he called ship to shore, and asked my nearly 90 year old parents to come tow him back to the dock. “Why,” I thought, “didn’t he call his hale and hardy younger friends and get them to help instead?” I was concerned about my folks at their ages navigating across the waters at night time. And did they really have the strength that might be needed to assist?

As usual my loyal and dependable parents jumped in their boat and took off into the dusk but not before I got their neighbors phone numbers. If they didn’t return in a reasonable amount of time, I’d turn to them for help.

The sky deepened with nightfall, and grew pitch.  Just as I began to pray that all was ok and that they were on their way back, I saw a dim light in the distance drawing nearer. Sure enough, it was my parents boat towing my brother’s powerboat behind. Perhaps I was silly to feel annoyed.

The reason I am telling this story, is it came to my mind after Sunday’s church sermon on courage and all that the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai went through when she stood up for educational freedom. Her story “I Am Malala” is compelling and inspirational.

As Reverend Tim pointed out, it’s good to read and hear stories of others strife.We learn what courage is all about.

I hope as I age I live with strong spirit like my parents do. They rarely let age be their excuse for anything and are guided by their faith that “all will be well.” And they are always dependable and loyal to their family.

If I put together the titles of all the songs we sang in the sanctuary on Sunday I believe they’d aptly sum up today’s story telling. They went like this:

“A Mighty Fortress is Our God”
“Spirit of the Living God”
“I Would Hit Him With My Shoe”
“Oh God, Our Help in Ages Past”
“Everytime I Feel the Spirit”
“This is My Song”


Thanks for being with us today. Do return to All Things Fulfilling tomorrow. This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.

Don’t Step on the Crack!

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Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Don’t step on the crack, you’ll break your mothers back. Don’t step on the crack, you’ll break your mothers back, don’t step……” Remember repeating that over and over again as you paced all up and down the  sidewalks?  For our family, it was a novelty to walk on city sidewalks because we lived in a wooded suburb. When we went to the city being able to sketch on pavement with chalk or to draw out a hopscotch course, we thought was pretty “nifty.”

When we visited our grandparents in Baltimore City, we got to do all kinds of things that we couldn’t do at our house. At home, our playground was the forest and stream. At least an acre or more of land separated the neighbors. At our grandparents, we thought it was pretty neat that we could sit in rocking chairs on a  porch and politely greet passers by.

The ragman  I can still remember the voice and the words of the Ragman’s banter as he navigated the horse and cart down the city streets of Baltimore. “Rags! Rags for sale! Come get your rags.”  Hearing the clip-clop of the horses feet coming down the street, was so exciting. The rag man called out, “New rags for old. Give me yours, and I’ll give you another.” Recycling, I assure you is not a new concept.

All in good jest, my parents used to threaten to sell or trade us to the Ragman if my sister, my brothers and I didn’t behave ourselves. That was enough to make us sit up and pay attention!

If you are a baby boomer, you might have recollections of having the Ragman arrive in your neighborhood and seeing people run out in the street to greet him and check out his wares.

Do you know the origins of the Ragman story? Here’s a link, you can read it for yourself. I found it quite interesting because as a child, the only thing I was interested in was seeing the big horse (usually an old gray mare) pulling the cart down the street. Little did I know there was an inspirational story behind The Ragman.  Check  it out!

In 2010, Walter Wagernan’s short story The Ragman was produced into a movie. Click on the link if for more information and ordering the DVD Ragman.

This blog brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author and narrator of the memoir Gift of a Lifetime:Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. Now available in audio book.  Click here to listen to the audio book sample, narrated by the author