Feed the Lambs

IMG_3462If you read Saturday’s post, then you know that I spoke on becoming a more Christian Christian in church yesterday. As always, I had gathered more material than could possibly be covered in my allotted 15 minutes, but since I’m pretty good at condensing and paring down, I stayed within my time limit. Though a bit nervous, as I sat on the stand and looked at the faces of those in the congregation, a feeling of peace came over me, and I knew that things would be fine.  

Yesterday, I stayed close to Robert D. Hales’ address found in the November 2012 Ensign. To me, the overall theme of his address was “Feed My Sheep.” If you want to be a follower of Christ, then feed His sheep. While I gave a few examples of how to feed the lambs, this morning I remembered several examples of showing love, compassion, and caring among the the people I’m fortunate to know. With some modification, I’m lifting all of these from Eve’s Sisters http://tinyurl.com/agsyetr.

Here’s a scenario shared by Valerie. She and her husband and small child were shopping in Target when they saw a young couple with a baby. She sensed that they were struggling with deciding what to buy with their limited funds. How could they make the proverbial dollar stretch? Compassionate and caring, Valerie sent up a silent prayer to her Heavenly Father asking that He help this young couple.

She walked on by, and after a few seconds, her little girl asked, “Where’s Dad?” They turned around and spotted him. Wallet open, he was giving cash to the couple. A lump in her throat, Valerie thought of how she had prayed, but her husband had acted. I’m certainly not dissing Valerie, one of the most loving people I know. I used her example to illustrate that at any given time there are people around us who need our help. We just need to be more mindful.

I once slipped a few dollars and a note into an envelope and gave it to a student with instructions to have her eyebrows waxed, something she had indicated a desire to have done. She sent me an email saying no one had ever done anything like that for her before and that she sat in the car and cried when she read my note. That saddened me. Why hasn’t anyone done anything like that for this lovely young woman before? Why don’t I do things of this nature more often?

What we do doesn’t have to be of huge magnitude. If we all perform small acts of service in our own little spheres, I think Christ would be happy. Here are some things that crossed my mind this morning:

  • Lib is the consummate baker, and she regularly bakes her special lemon pound cakes and delivers them to people  to welcome them to the community.
  • My sister Ann, a math teacher, regularly tutors church members and family free of charge.
  • The mother of my daughter’s former obstetrician knits hats for newborns. 
  • Several women of my acquaintance keep a stash of all occasion cards that they send to people who might need a    little encouragement.

We’re all different and should do whatever we can without feeling guilty about what we can’t do. Can you send a card? Can you find the time to just sit and listen to one of your children, a parent, or a friend? Can you pay someone a compliment? I think it was Mark Twain who said he could live for two weeks on a good compliment. How hard is that to do??

Peace and Love

chapel

One of the reasons that I love the LDS church so much is we have no paid ministry. We do it all ourselves, and most of the time, I think it gets done fairly well. At least I’d like to think so. An added benefit of this is that members get to grow and develop their talents.

Lots of people like to go to church, sit there, listen to a sermon, sing a few hymns, and be uplifted and edified. Hey, I like to do that myself! At the same time, I believe in the law of reciprocity, and I think we should both give and take. I recall a quote from a Relief Society lesson many years ago that followed some complaints of women proclaiming that they got nothing from Relief Society. I recall thinking that any woman who says she gets nothing from this fabulous organization must have some loose screws. The response from a church leader was more loving, however, and was in the form of a question like, “My dear sisters, what are you putting into Relief Society?”

So this Sunday I’m speaking in Sacrament, and it’s going to be an awesome talk. Not because I’m a good speaker but because my assigned topic is a great one and because I’m taking the heart of the talk from a recent General Conference address. How can I go wrong? The topic is how to be a more Christian Christian, a better follower of Christ.

One of my brothers frequently tells me of his trip to the Holy Land in the hope that one day I’ll go there. I won’t. It’s too far, too expensive, too dangerous, and from the reports I’ve read, too touristy. What I’ve told him is that I care more about walking How Jesus walked than about Where He walked. I want to be more compassionate, kind, patient, nonjudgmental, and service-oriented. I want to be more like the Good Samaritan and help people who are different from me. I know for a fact that our Creator loves people of all races, creeds, and social classes. He doesn’t care about the size of your bank account but about the size of your heart.

In preparing Sunday’s remarks, Christ’s words to “feed my lambs” and “feed my sheep” keep coming to mind. I needed that reminder, and I’m wondering if Todd knew that when he nabbed me in the foyer last Sunday and gave me this assignment. Hmmm. I think he knew that we all need a reminder to feed His sheep. Sometimes those sheep might be the little children in our homes, and at other times, they could be our neighbors. I was thinking just yesterday of how often I had sheepishly (there’s that word again) skulked by the Salvation Army bell ringer outside of Wal Mart without putting even a dollar in the bucket. What’s wrong with me?? What would Christ have done?

I could go on and on. I just need to post this and get back to my talk preparation. Reading Elder Hale’s conference address inspires me to be a better follower of Christ at the same time that it makes me realize where and how I’ve fallen short. Just like you, I’m a work in progress. For today, I’m going to start practicing the Christ-like qualities mentioned my Elder Hale, Christian love and Christian caring. I’m going to throw in some peace and forgiveness too.

And P.S., If you want to learn more about becoming a more Christian Christian and feel the warmth of Christ-like love,  join us at the LDS chapel on Chestnut Ferry Road in Camden this Sunday at 11:00.

Up, Up, and Away

“Are you going to blog about this?” my brother Mike asked as we left the marina.

“Probably,” I answered in reference to the parasailing adventure we’d just shared with his wife Lisa and daughter Sarah Beth.

We’d been talking about doing it for quite some time, but time and circumstances kept interfering. Then things came together for us since, lo and behold, we were all going to be at the beach at the same time. Plus, it was Mike’s birthday weekend, and we all wanted to commemorate it in a special way, something besides going out to eat or blowing out candles on a prettily decorated cake.

After researching the various parasailing businesses in the Grand Strand area, Mike decided on the Marlin Quay Marina in Garden City, and I’m glad he did. From start to finish, the experience was marvelous. Well, truthfully, I got more than a little airsick, but that wasn’t the fault of the crew, the boat, or the parachute. The young men who took us out and up were courteous, helpful, pleasant, and respectful in every way. By the latter, I mean that they didn’t act like we were just another group of those darned tourists that they had to be nice to.

After getting in the boat, one of the young men helped us into our harnesses and then we rode out into the ocean. It was lovely. Peaceful and serene, the sea and sounds brought a feeling of excited calm to all of us. Does that make sense? We were lulled into calmness by the sea and sky and yet eager to have our moments above it all–eager, not afraid.

Sarah Beth and I were first. We each held on to the ends of the long bar, and as we began to ascend, we grabbed the harness straps. Slowly and gradually we went up and out until we could no longer make out the people in the boat. I remarked to Sarah Beth that being up so high really put things into perspective. That is to say, earthly things like challenging relationships and pressing deadlines didn’t seem that important.

We talked about marriage a moment or two, and about that time, I noticed a slight queasiness (not because of the topic!). I think the combination of the earlier boat ride and the gentle rocking of the seat combined to make this gal feel as sick as a dog. A nurse, Sarah Beth suggested that I put my head back. I tried that for about five seconds, but I immediately became aware of every single sensation pertinent to my equilibrium, and it was all out of whack.

“Wish I had a cell phone so I could tell them to bring me down,” I remarked.

“I’m sorry you feel so bad,” Sarah Beth responded. “But hey, your orange toenail polish sure looks good.”

“Oh thanks,” I managed to reply.

“I think Mom and I are going to get a mani and pedi later at the mall. Want to come?” SB asked.

“I just want to get back in the boat and lie down,” I answered.

I’m beginning to sound like a spoil sport, and I need to clear up any misperceptions anyone might be having about parasailing. It is awesome with a capital A, Awesome. In fact, awesome in all caps, AWESOME. To be between the clouds and the ocean is an ineffable (hope my friend Martha likes that word) experience that I will definitely try again. Next time, I’ll just take something for motion sickness ahead of time.

After about fifteen minutes, we were back in the boat, and it was Mike and Lisa’s turn.

Excited and happy to be sharing this adventure together, they laughed and chatted until they were out of sight, and from what they told me afterwards, the lighthearted banter continued throughout the ride. They even saw some dolphins; we did too. Although they were far away, we could see them playfully dipping in and out of the water.

Mike and Lisa rejoined us about fifteen minutes later, and the captain turned the boat around and headed back to the marina. On the way, I again noticed a few people standing on what appeared to be a seawall built far out into the water. When I asked about it, the captain’s mate (getting tired of writing “the young men”) told me it was located at Huntington Beach State Park.

Throughout our experience, the captain and his mate answered all of our questions and volunteered some interesting information. FYI, if you’re interested, the best day of the week for parasailing is Saturday. Since it’s a turn-around day for tourists, the marina is too as busy. The four of us chipped in and bought a camera card with 131 pictures that the mate took throughout the excursion. I’d highly recommend this is you want to recapture the experience. The shots were so incredibly good compared to the few that I took with my iPhone.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! My daughter Carrie wants to try it, so the next time we’re together around a beach, you can guess what we’ll be doing…going up, up, up, and away.

To the Oceans White with Foam

This chronicle of our Fourth adventures might be getting a bit old so I’ll keep it short today. Besides, I’m here at the beach again, and the ocean and sky are calling my name. My brother and his wife and daughter and I are going parasailing in just a little while, something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time.

Back to the travelogue, from Friday the 5th through Monday the 10th, we savored every moment at the beach. Well, I did anyway. Otis doesn’t love the coast as much as I do, but he managed to stay busy helping an old friend with some renovations to his condo. Still, we both enjoyed dining out (Gulfstream and Salt Water Grill) and getting together with some old friends.

As usual, I did a lot of beach walking and reading and people watching. Just a couple of comments about those activities:

*Beach walking is good for body and soul, and evidently a lot of other people feel that way too because there were hundreds, maybe thousands, of us walking along the strand. Going from the hard packed sand and then into the edge of the lapping waves…well, it’s sublime.
*And the reading part. I’ve been re-reading two of Leon Uris’ books, Mila 18 and QB VII, and I just have to say that anyone who’s moaning and groaning about what a tough life she has in America needs to read those books, especially Mila 18.
*
About the people watching, I enjoy watching the children frolic and build sand castles, the people sitting in chairs reading or chatting, and the young people playing ball (or catch or something). Yesterday a little toddler with a huge happy smile gave me a rock. I put it in with my shell collection as a reminder of the morning. One last comment about the people. I have to ask WHY? Why do so many people expose their jiggling tummies and derrieres? It’s painful to see. I know, I know. I don’t have to look, and yet unless I wear a blindfold or keep my eyes shut, there’s no way to avoid those sights.

Oops, time to get my bathing suit on and head to the beach for my adventure. Sure hope the reality meets the anticipation of this. To sum up our week of celebrating America’s birthday,

 “From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.”

Writing Conference Tips


This morning I found some notes I took at the annual South Carolina Writers Workshop held in Myrtle Beach in October, and reading over my scribbled notes brought to mind the great time I had and the information I learned. From the time I arrived on Thursday evening until I parted company with my new friends on Sunday, it was a wonderful experience. Or rather, it was a series of one memorable experience after another. The three days were instructive, inspiring, motivational, and downright fun.

My primary job as a volunteer was to work at the registration desk, but I basically filled in where needed. For instance, I helped Kia stuff attendee bags on Friday, and I helped Kim and Kathryn with the silent auction winners on Sunday. While the best part of the conference was probably getting to know and rub shoulders with some amazing people, it was also great to learn so many tidbits about writing.

Time and space prohibit a rundown of everything so I’ll just hit some of the highlights of Friday. That morning, I attended a couple of informative sessions, and these are some things I learned. Most had to do with societal change and believability.

Often grandparents writing children’s books sound like grandparents. I knew exactly what the speaker meant by this. Lately I read some negative comments on Face Book about the Junie B. Jones books, and guess who they were written by? A grandparent. A grandparent who’s out of touch with the way children perceive the world and the way they talk today. This grandparent also criticized the language in the Junie books and went on to say that it’s no wonder children speak  the way they do when they read “crap” like this. I’m wondering if exposure to grandparents’ language is more likely the culprit in this case.

Technology is tricky because it dates a book. While I know this, I don’t know exactly how to change it…or whether it’s even a bad thing. Is a person using a land line phone, a cell phone, or a smart phone? Language dates a book too, and examples such as “wassup” were given. Too, words like netbook, apps, and Skype weren’t even in our lingo ten years ago.

Although societal changes and advances in technology alter the way people communicate with each other, character motivation stays the same. Basic psychology isn’t going to change, but the methods used to reveal character are different. One presenter told about a spooky guy who lived in her neighborhood when she was a child. One Halloween, he built a casket, placed it in his front yard, and lay naked in it. When a brave and curious child tentatively opened the lid for a peek inside, he grabbed her and pulled her into the coffin with him.Today this predator would be online. This grabbed my attention because according to psychologists, online solicitation of children is becoming more common.

Before breaking for lunch, the presenter shared some other tidbits. When you edit your own work, try to find out what your quirk is like colons, commas, no paragraphs, or using a word or expression too much. When I heard that, I couldn’t help but think of Pat Conroy, one of my favorite Southern writers. In My Reading Life, Conroy admits that he has a problem with wordiness. He can’t help his verbosity, however, and says he was stung by a wordsmith, his mother, at a very early age. Is there a Conroy fan anywhere who could deny that his voice is unique and that his long winded style works for him?

The last tip was my favorite. Why? Because it works! If you’re stuck, go do some laundry, and when you come back, your writing will be crisper. It doesn’t have to be laundry. It could be a walk around the neighborhood, lunch with friends, or an episode of NCIS. The point is to get away from the work for a bit.

Wow. The more I write, the more I realize that I learned that weekend. Stay tuned. I need to take a break and will share the rest of Friday’s information  in a day or two.

Insight from Dr. Peck

One of the many things I admire about t he writings of Dr. Scott Peck is that they make me think. His words make me look at things in a way I’d never considered before. While I could go in any number of directions with this, I’m zeroing in on some insight he had when in conversation with a Christian couple.

In town for a speaking engagement, Dr. Peck was staying in the home of this couple, and upon his arrival, the two of them began giving him the low-down on many of their friends and acquaintances who would be in his audience. I guess their feeling was that if he knew a little something about these people, Dr. Peck would know how to best address them.

As the conversation progressed, however, he began to feel uncomfortable with all of the information he was being inundated with. He was told about who was had been having an affair with whom, who was divorced, and other such juicy tidbits.

“Wait a minute,” Dr. Peck thought. “Aren’t these people supposed to be Christians?”

He became upset, irked, irritated, and finally angry. One of the basic commandments is “Thou shalt not steal,” and yet these two people were breaking that very basic commandment. No, they weren’t stealing money or merchandise, but rather the reputation and good name of their “friends.”

How can someone who calls himself a Christian do this? How can a genuine follower of Christ not know that rumor mongering, gossiping (even if it’s true), and backbiting are unacceptable and inappropriate? Aren’t they just as guilty as someone who’s committing adultery or taking the Lord’s name in vain?

Speaking of the latter, Dr. Peck discerned that the couple was doing that too. When you say, “I’m a Christian,” and then behave and speak in uncharitable ways, then you’re taking His name in vain. Like Dr. Peck, I can easily see that the commandment means a lot more than avoiding vulgarisms and profanity.

Memories of Scott Peck’s insight surfaced last night as I recalled a conversation with my former mother-in-law. She told me about a couple who had been Mormons but were now members of another Christian religion. Apparently the duo was on a talk show laughing and talking about the Mormons and how misguided they are. They even went so far as to ridicule sacred temple ordinances and symbolism.

Huh? I don’t know who these people are, and I don’t know their motives. I do know, however, that they’re about as far away as people can get from being Christians. Have they asked WWJD? Are they trying to promote a book? Get on a lecture circuit? Garner publicity? Destroy the reputation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Or maybe they just wanted a day in the sun, a brief the moment of being in the spotlight.

Whatever their agenda, nothing they or any other mortal can do will stop the growth of the LDS church. Ultimately, the only people they’re really hurting are themselves and their reputations as Christians and trustworthy individuals. With friends like this, who needs enemies?

I’m wondering what their current congregation is feeling about now. I’m betting that they’re feeling a bit anxious wondering if they are going to be the next target.

Only if You Promise Not to Squander

A incident that occurred yesterday afternoon later prompted so much insight that I’d have to call it a revelation.

A incident that occurred yesterday afternoon later prompted so much insight that I’d have to call it a revelation.

In Columbia, I was at an exit near Fort Jackson and Forest Drive. I was about the fourth car in line, and as I sat waiting for the light to change I noticed a young man with a sign. Based on his attire, woebegone expression, and overall appearance, I didn’t have to read his sign to know that he was asking for money or food. The woman in the car in front of me rolled down her window and handed him some money.

Should I or shouldn’t I? Scrounging through my pocketbook, I found two whole dollars. What a huge amount! So I rolled my window down too, and he came over and got the money. He was very appreciative and said, “God bless you, Ma’am.”I wasn’t feeling particularly pious, but I did have a fleeting thought about the “when you have done it unto the least of these….” scripture. I gave him the money because he needed it and I had it. What he did with it is his business.

I went on to Hobby Lobby on a fruitless search for buttons and then to Sam’s for some goodies like grapes and bread. In Sam’s, I also browsed around taking in the selection of clothes and books while putting together some ideas for Christmas gifts. How could I not do so when I saw the Christmas décor? As always, I felt a bit whelmed at the huge selection of stuff lining the aisles. I was also struck by the juxtaposition of the haves and the have nots in our country and thought of the young man at the exit.

That’s when it hit me, the insight about the man at the exit. I’ve heard and read comments about how a person shouldn’t give money to the homeless or needy. Buying them a meal or giving them an article of clothing is a good idea, but giving them money is foolish (according to my reading and listening). After all, you never know what “these people” are going to do with it. They could buy alcohol or drugs! Do you really want to contribute to that???

Drum roll please. Here’s the revelation (at last) I got yesterday. Every single person walking the earth has got some talent, gift, or aptitude that is going to waste. People let their fear of failure, rejection, or ridicule keep them from developing and using their God-given gifts. In other words, they squander them. Question: What if God decided not to give any of us any gifts because He thought we might not use them the way He wants us to?

Whether it’s material wealth or a talent of some sort, it’s a gift from Him to you. You might say, “I have this wealth because I worked like the dickens. God didn’t give it to me.” But who gave you the energy and ability to work?? Do you see what I’m getting at? If you’ve been given an aptitude for singing, dancing, golfing, drawing, writing, telling jokes, nursing, constructing, leading, organizing, selling, or anything else and you aren’t using it, then to me you’re just like the person who takes monetary gifts and uses them to buy alcohol and drugs.

I’m just glad my Creator is more generous than we are. I’m glad He doesn’t withhold our gifts unless we promise not to squander them.

Beach Attire

Why do women let it all hang out while men wear looser, longer, less revealing clothing?

My young friend Kristi’s post on suggestions for using Facebook has prompted me to share a few quick observations that I’ve been thinking about lately.

Last week when in Myrtle Beach, my husband and I saw a few young men walking around with their undies showing. They had on either jeans or shorts, but these articles of clothing were so low that even the casual observer could see the boxers.  Incidentally, these were color coordinated to complement the outerwear. Although it drives my husband CRAZY to see such attire, I’m sort of indifferent to it. Maybe it’s because I see it so often.

One day after listening to yet another comment on seeing someone’s boxers, I said something like, “Well, at least he’s covered up.”

 “But it looks indecent! Underwear should be just that—underwear,” he replied.

“What’s so different about the hundreds of girls you’ve seen this morning? They looked like they were wearing their bras and panties, and you didn’t seem to mind that,” I said.

“That’s different,” he said.

“Why? Because they’re girls?” I asked.

“No, because they’re wearing bathing suits. These guys are wearing clothes,” he said (a bit dramatically, I might add).

I just couldn’t let it go, so I said, “Let me get this straight. It’s a-okay with you for a girl to walk around with two narrow strips around her body, but it’s not okay for a guy to walk around with his underwear showing above his shorts?”

“Correct,” he answered. “It’s just wrong!”

So that’s the question, Folks. Why is it that females (at least in my neck of the woods) can walk around in an extremely scantily clad fashion but men cannot? By the way, after our conversation, I began an earnest scientific (yeah, right) observation of beach attire, and during the two hours that I people watched, I saw two men wearing short and somewhat tight bathing trunks. The other men wore long, loose ones. Was I at the wrong beach on the wrong day?

Here’s what I think. In our society, women are still perceived as sex objects, and as such, they are much more likely than males to wear more revealing, form fitting clothes. We say, “Look at us!” Men say, “Here I am.” Why is that?

I’m not suggesting that you put your string bikini away. If you’ve got it flaunt it.  I’m just saying that men who show their underwear above their shorts are still more covered up and that their attire is much less suggestive. It looks kind of funny, but it doesn’t say, “Come hither.”

What’s your thinking on this? Why do women let it all hang out while men wear looser, longer, less revealing clothing?

Favorite Fourths

I love everything about the Fourth and the values and principles that it represents. Yep, I even like the golf cart parades, and it makes my day when I see someone wearing a red, white, and blue bathing suit.

Since this is my personal blog, the one where I can post on topics ranging from single mothers and social issues to my family and life experiences, this afternoon I decided to jot down a few things about the Fourth. I love everything about the holiday and the values and principles that it represents. Yep, I even like the golf cart parades, and it makes my day when I see someone wearing a red, white, and blue bathing suit.

This Fourth was quiet compared to many of the others I’ve celebrated. It was just the two of us in Myrtle Beach on Independence Day, and here’s what we did. We began celebrating the night before with a cookout at Carol and Randy’s house in Windy Hill. Loved the huge strawberry shortcake! On the morning of the Fourth, we hit the beach early and stayed there for a couple of hours. We walked, talked, read, and people watched, and I hope to always spend at least a part of our nation’s birthday doing just that.

Later we ate lunch, shopped a little, ate burgers, splurged on ice cream at Cold Stone in Market Commons, and watched a sad fireworks display. We usually go to the 2nd Ave Pier with throngs of other people, but this year we opted to stay at the Commons to view the spectacular display we had seen last year. It didn’t happen; we saw a total of six fiery bursts. Live and learn, right? Next year we’ll be down by the ocean.

Reliving last week’s Fourth has conjured up memories of past celebrations, and in keeping with the Fourth, I’m going to share my top four.

At the top of the list is one in which my son and I went with a buddy from Loris and her daughter to the nation’s capital. Talk about a fireworks display! We joined what seemed like thousands of our fellow American on the mall and watched an awesome sight and  sound show. Something that makes this memory special is that it marks the evening when I realized that my son was growing up and away (from me). He was probably about 10 and VERY ACTIVE. Not content to stay with “us gals,” he climbed on statues and monuments to get a better look at the people and festivities. I was a nervous Nellie, afraid that some crazy person would kidnap him.

Another top memory goes back years ago. It took place in Myrtle Beach. My first husband and I were big into running in those days, and on the Fourth we got up before dawn and went down to the beach for a three-mile jog. My mother was visiting with us and stayed behind to watch the children. We had barely begun our jog when we saw them, a family of about six (maybe more—it was a quick glance) Vietnamese huddled together on the stairs of a beach access boardwalk. To me, they all looked scared and uncertain as they stared out at the ocean. Were they thinking of the land they had left? Were they wondering what this BIG DAY was all about? Were they anxious about what lay before them in the land of the free?

Another favorite memory is of a day when my daughter Carrie and I left the coast to spend the day in the midlands with various family members. My brother and his family were in town visiting my parents for a few days, and we wanted to share a burger with them. My other brother and his family joined us, and if I’m not mistaken, that was the last Independence Day we shared with my parents. Wish we’d taken some pictures.

After lunch and some “hanging out,” we took off for Sumter to visit my sister. She and her husband owned a restaurant at that time, and we (visiting brother and his family and Carrie and I) dined there that night. We have a funny looking picture to prove it. Dave’s wearing a Panama hat, and the rest of us are just standing there looking like dorks. After good-bye hugs, Carrie and I headed east again, but before going home, we stopped in Florence. The parents of a young man whom she was dating at the time had invited us to come by, and we did. They had a pool, and in and around it were a couple of dozen people mingling and talking and lying on floats. There was also lots of food, especially desserts, but Carrie and I restrained ourselves. Tired but happy, we made it back to the beach around midnight.

This post has gone on long enough! I’m just briefly mention last year’s celebration at the beach. Although I can’t remember what happened during the day, I’ll never forget watching the fireworks with my grandchildren at Market Commons in Myrtle Beach that night. In a word, awesome. Afterwards we walked the mile or so back home, and the entire way back, Brooke talked nonstop to Otis. He kiddingly told her that she needed to save her breath for walking, but she chattered on and on. Sweet girl.

I’m sure everyone has special memories of families and friends and flags and burgers. I just wanted to share a few of mine. You know, I think seeing that Vietnamese family is the one that tops the list. For me, it marked the first time I knew that change was happening at breakneck speed, that America was indeed a refuge for millions, and that cultural diversity was becoming more important. I hope the family has found opportunity here and that they love America as much as I do.

The Art of Shedding

I had an ice cream sandwich for lunch Friday. Or maybe it was more like an appetizer since I ate a Chick-fil-A sandwich mid-afternoon. I live differently when I’m here at the beach. It’s where I come to get away from my other life, the one with schedules and deadlines and demands.

Alas, after a long weekend at the beach, I’ll soon be homeward bound. Don’t get me wrong. I love my home, neighborhood, family, and friends, but there’s no beach there. There’s no roaring ocean, no high and low tides, no seabirds, no long expanse of coastline to walk along. Instead, there are also deadlines and due dates and bills to pay.

 I had an ice cream sandwich for lunch Friday. Or maybe it was more like an appetizer since I ate a Chick-fil-A sandwich mid-afternoon. I live differently when I’m here at the beach. It’s where I come to get away from my other life, the one with schedules and deadlines and demands. At the strand, I try to leave as much of that behind as possible, especially when it comes to behavior and attire.

My behavior doesn’t change drastically here at the beach. It’s not like I turn into some wild child who frequents clubs and bars. Nope. I’m the same old Jayne, just Jayne without the constraints of home. If I want to go shopping at the Myrtle Beach Wal-Mart at midnight, I will (and have). If I want to read at 11:00 in the morning, I will. For some reason, reading just for fun is something I see as sort of a guilty little pleasure when I’m in my “other life,” and I usually restrict times for fiction reading to early in the morning or late at night. Maybe it’s because I’m always in motion, always taking care of business.

I dress a bit differently at the beach too. Since any and everyone reading this probably does the same thing, there’s no need to elaborate on this. And yet, here’s one little thing that I just have to mention. I’ve seen more exposed body parts on the beach that I ever cared to see. You know what I’m saying, right?  

And tattoos? I learned what a “full sleeve” means from one of my students last week, and I saw several of those. Then there was that lovely young woman with her entire calf covered, front and back. What was she thinking? Or was she thinking? Putting a positive twist on things, when she’s older, at least she’ll have a good disguise for her spider veins!

But it’s fine. It’s really fine.  Once a person crosses the line between sea oats and sand, it’s anything goes (almost). Most days I’ll don a bathing suit and hat, and at the last minute I’ll throw on a cover up. It stays on until I cross the line and then stays in my bag until I get ready to cross it again.  In the words of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, “One learns first of all in beach living the art of shedding; how little one can get along with, not how much.”

Time to get back to reality. After all, it’s my “other life” that makes this one possible.