Tree Decorating Lifts Spirits

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This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in. ~  Theodore Roosevelt

Last Thursday evening I had an unexpected request from Lift Up, an inter-faith thrift store and food bank where I volunteer twice weekly. I was asked if I would help decorate for the annual “Festival of Trees” at the Tred of Pioneers Museum in Steamboat Springs, CO. I and three other volunteers, who I rarely come in contact with each other, because of our differing schedules and duties, had a great time together!

Our tree was sponsored by the Community Food Bank at Lift Up. Ninety or ninety-five percent of the “food-themed” decorations that went on the tree were donated to the thrift store or came from recycled materials. Georgi, a very creative and energetic person had used her skills to make some of the ornamental food from plastic bags and “Mod Podge,” a crafting material. She also made the tree topper – a red chef’s hat. The tree turned out beautiful. Here are a few pictures.

Below: Georgi is here in Steamboat for a one year stint with the Colorado Episcopal Service Corps. She would make a great full-time resident of this community.  She has yet to experience a “three wire winter”  since she just arrived in town a few months ago from Pennsylvania.  (That’s what locals call winters when snow so deep it reaches the third wire on fences (in other words, it exceeds your armpits!). And it happens frequently.

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Below: A few full-time employees of Lift Up

Lynn food bank mgr

Angela case worker

Below: Four representatives for all the dedicated people who make Lift-Up the

wonderful non-profit organization that it is.

Hundreds and hundreds of volunteer service hours are donated

annually.

Lift up volunteers

LU tree with topper

As Christmas grows nearer, I will share more pictures of the beautiful Festival of Trees from the Tred of Pioneers Museum on All Things Fulfilling. They were all delightfully decorated.

I was fully thrust into the festive spirit and it continued the next day as I helped the United Methodist Women prepare for the Fall Harvest Fair. We wrapped and priced all the baked goods, jellies, jams.

Come back tomorrow to see what that shopping experience looks like. Hundreds of people come through the open doors at the United Methodist Church every year to shop for the holidays and fill their empty stomachs at lunchtime with homemade soup and bread.

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

A Real Peach of a Community

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We can never get a re-creation of community and heal our society without giving our citizens a sense of belonging.Patch Adams

What makes a great community? As an outsider, I’ve noticed things the 2014 Winner of the Coolest Small Town in America, Berlin, Maryland has in common with Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the town I’ve called home for the past seven years.These elements are what, in my opinion, helps a community to thrive.

  • Cohesion between a strong Main Street Association and the local Council on the Arts
  • People who are forward-thinkers, not afraid of change but respect the past.
  • A strong volunteer base who want to contribute to building a town that others will envy.
  • Leaders who understand the history behind the community and what makes it unique.

Berlin, Maryland “Historically Charming & Artistically Alive & Eternally Young” has been the location site of two movies, which no doubt has helped bring notariety to the community. Runaway Bride with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere was filmed there in 1998 and contributed 27.5 million dollars to the local economy. In 2001 Berlin was transformed into a town at the turn of the century with dirt roads, period costumes and horses and carriages for the film Tuck Everlasting. Actors Sissy Spacek, Ben Kingsley and William Hurt starred in the fictional film.

Movie producers as well as the audiences were captivated by the Victorian town center, the tree-lined streets and historic homes and museums in this small town in “Chesapeake Country.”

Want to know more about what makes a great community? Read this article,  and visit the Berlin, Maryland website. Also scroll back to the two previous day’s blogs to see more pictures. Every business in Berlin is worthy of mention on All Things Fulfilling. Due to lack of space, only a small number are featured. Each makes this community a fulfilling destination that reminds us of what it was like to live in charming small town America.

If you are a baby boomer, you’ll appreciate the lyrics of this 1972 song which you’ll probably remember from the crossroads of your life. Listen in as you scroll through these images!

 

Berlin Peach grocery signed

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storefront signed

Berlin house with fan window signed

berlin grey house withflowers signed

Atlantic hotel dining room signed

store door in Berlin autogr

Street &Trees in Berlin signed

old delivery van signed

20150808_112127 Yarn shop 2 Jans signed

 Thanks to my twin sister Jan for the photo contributions to this blog. It was wonderful to have an early celebration of our birthday by painting the town together.

Yarn shop looking out Jans signed

 

Yarn shop 3 inside Jan signed

 

 

Globe Theatre signed

Join me tomorrow as I celebrate a special segment of local artists in the place I’ve resided for the past seven years. They make up in part what is unique about the town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

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

Tred Carefully

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Since I was young, I have always known this: Life damages us, every one. We can’t escape that damage. But now, I am also learning this: We can be mended. We mend each other.”Veronica Roth

A few weeks ago  I did a presentation on memoir writing. On Thursday I look forward to a similar presentation when I’ll talking with a geneology group at the Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Throughout my various book tours and presentations, I’ve had numerous people say to me that if they wrote their life story it would be filled with people who have taken advantage of them or made their lives difficult for one reason or another. Thus,  I am very aware of the need to mention “that sadly not everyone’s life story is happy and some people write for cathartic reasons.”

words have power“Something to think about,” I say, “is to share your experiences in a way that helps other people.”

The typical response is “I hadn’t thought about that approach, I just was thinking of voicing my anger.”

If you have had an unpleasant childhood or difficult life experiences, memoir writing is a great way to rise above it. Your readers will be looking for something they can relate to and learn from. Give them your story of challenge to triumph. Everyone likes to hold onto stories of champions and hope.

Here is a good article about why it is beneficial to read memoirs. http://memorywritersnetwork.com/blog/eight-benefits-of-reading-memoirs/.

Things to keep in mind as you go forward with your memoir writing.

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard. Click on the title for information on these publications:  Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected or short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.

 

Thirsty Thursdays: Literary Spotlight

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“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.”Vera Nazarian

Back in March 2012 I posted on All Things Fulfilling a blog about 29 cities around the world who have UNESCO’s Creative Industry designations behind them. It was a highly read piece.

Baltimore, Maryland is a city that is a hub for literary reasons. In part, due to notable authors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald,  Anne Tyler, Edgar Allen Poe and Tom Clancy who spent significant time in Baltimore or were born there. Back in the 1980s there was some controversy when the Mayor dubbed Baltimore “the city that reads.” No matter, “the city’s literary heart beats as strongly as ever,” says the Huffington Post.

Reading-and-Writing-293x300The good news today is there are other cities across America who can call their place home to writers, too. In the remote northwest corner of Colorado, in a place called Steamboat, there is a network of writers who are both traditionally and independently published. On Thursday afternoons at the “Eleanor Bliss Art Center” aka “The Art Depot” is where they’ve gathered, read and critiqued writing for more than 30 years.

Today, on All Things Fulfilling, I’d like to put the literary spotlight on Steamboat Springs, which is quite different than literary hubs in big cities.  In a more intimate setting, people come here to write and drink in the beautiful scenery to inspire their writing.

Stay tuned to All Things Fulfilling – we will be posting more details about an upcoming writers workshop a month from today on May 23rd sponsored by the Steamboat Springs Arts Council. Members of the Colorado Independent Publishers Association will be providing the educational experience.

Want-to-be writers and publishers, who are within reach of Steamboat,  I’d encourage you to sign up – a real deal at for a morning full of valuable information!

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

Reflections on the Creative Path

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“Your current safe boundaries were once unknown frontiers.” ~ Unknown

Today I will be reflecting on unknown frontiers. It is something I can speak to! I arrived in Steamboat Springs, Colorado some six years ago, sight unseen and took up residence not knowing what I was getting into.

Then, I made another life changing decision! I set off on a 41,000 word journey. A huge task for an inexperienced writer who had dreams of publishing a memoir.

What kept me going? A lifelong desire to tell a story of a beautiful soul who became the heartbeat of our family and who had many words of wisdom to share with others.

As it’s turned out, the unknown frontier became a safe haven in which I ended up exploring my faith like never before. I suspect I am not alone in my story. Artists through the ages have testified that through their creativity, they find their own voice and spirit.  As Maritza Burgos once said “One’s art should be the extension of oneself.”

I’m grateful I journeyed into the unknown. I found all kinds of fulfilling things in the process!

Stay tuned to All Things Fulfilling.com. What’s a new year without a little excitement?  Come back on Monday because I’m telling you now there will be something newsworthy!

heres to new beginnings

 

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,

Place of Beauty and Reflection

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The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” ― Henry Ward Beecher

Today, we will switch gears. It’s been snowing here in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and the temperatures have become winter like. They’ve dipped below zero already. Before I let go of autumn I want to share one more group of fall photos.

On the last day of my book tour on the East Coast, my sister-in-law Grace said “I want to take you over to the Cylburn Arboretum.”

“Sounds good,” I said. If you know me, you know any place that has to do with trees and flowers piques my interest!” The Cylburn Arboretum didn’t ring a bell from my days of growing up in Baltimore but I was up for one more adventure before I headed back to Northwestern Colorado.

As we drove along, we came to some very familiar turf! “Oh, my gosh, Grace!Look at that. There’s Sinai Hospital!” ,” I said. “Wow – do I ever have memories of that place!”  http://www.lifebridgehealth.org/Sinai/Sinai1.aspx. This is where I came for my pediatric check-ups after my “pioneering” heart surgery at Johns Hopkins.

Sinai2

“The Cylburn is right across the street!” Grace said.

Now the largest public garden in Baltimore,  The Cylburn Mansion with it’s beautiful grounds were once owned by a Quaker businessman, Jesse Tyson, who was President of Baltimore Chrome Works (later Allied Chemical). He came from a family who made their fortune mining iron, chromium and copper. Jesse’s brother, James ran mining operations in the states of Pennyslvania, Georgia, California and Vermont. For more information, please visit this link. http://cylburn.org/about-us/history/.

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Today, The Cylburn Arboretum is also home to The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.http://bit.ly/112G6Zj. The greenhouses this time of year were filled with poinsettias along with other aquaponic plants.

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Oh, what a lovely place the Cylburn Arboretum is. Thank you, Grace. It was a delightful morning spent in such a quiet, peaceful, reflective place. It seems we are always surrounded by our big family when you and I are together! It was delightful being just with you! Even in October, the plantings and flowers at the Cylburn Arboretum were gorgeous.

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The Cylburn Arboretum was the last stop I made along the path of my East Coast book tour. How blessed I am to be alive to share my story. For more information on the award-winning memoir  “Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected,” please visit this link.http://amzn.to/141aW6S. The publication is available in audio, paperback and e-book.

 

Focus on Simple Pleasures

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There are few things in common between where I grew up, in Towson, Maryland and where I am residing at this moment, Steamboat Springs, Colorado except great peaches and sweet corn.

It is an unexpected gift when you live high up in the magnificent Rocky Mountains to find corn and peaches as good as what’s grown in Maryland.  The produce comes in  from Palisades, Colorado every weekend on a truck.

We are getting into the fresh from the farm season! So, although, I am living many, many miles away from all of our family – today I would like post a reminder to myself.

Peaches

And as gift for my readers on this sunny summer day – here is something you can make that is useful, healthy and delicious.It comes from http://www.OasisAdvancedWellness.com. Visit their website, there’s other fulfilling things they’ve posted for the visitors of their space on the internet.

See you tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling! This blog brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. NOW AVAILABLE IN AUDIO BOOK, TOO! http://amzn.to/1rDx80a.

Peaches two