Let’s Wake Up

Does anyone remember how different our lives were before March 2020 when the world locked down because of Covid-19?!

I am trying hard to remember….. Unfortunately, it gets harder every day. We are bombarded with constant news about vaccines, vaccine updates and boosters and just overall news of doom if we don’t follow the government’s orders.

And now they are talking about another toilet paper shortage? A shortage of toys for Christmas? And the list continues…..

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The government is handing out money left and right (not to me unfortunately). Where is it being printed?! I was watching an episode of Riverdale the other night and they were printing new money to save their town. Well, how are we going to save our country. We have had a new president that in 10 short months has destroyed the essence of our wonderful country.

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Will we ever get it back? Or do we continue to live in fear that if we don’t follow directions the government issues that we will be left impoverished?! I don’t know about you but I am getting a bit nervous.

The news is repetitive. It continues to provoke people to become robots of a new society that wants to control our every move. We no longer celebrate our history because all of a sudden everyone is insulted….

Wake up people and lets get our country back. Land of the free and home of the brave. Let’s feel proud of our history (even if it was not always a good one) and move on from here. We cannot erase our personal history so what makes you so sure that you can erase America’s history. And why? Isn’t studying a history a way for us to look at our mistakes and move forward in a more positive light? Well, if we stop teaching what is and always will be our American history, then we cease to exist.

Wake up people!

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It’s All Just “Stuff”

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We take for granted that we have our stuff around us all the time. When the time arises that we must “make do” with less, we realize just how little we need of the stuff around us.

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For example, just the past week we started painting our house and had to move into the basement. Thankfully, we have a partial kitchen, living room area, bedroom and bath down there to hang out while the work is being done. But when thrown into this situation in just minutes, we scrambled to get some stuff we thought we would need downstairs. Food wasn’t even a priority as we could always pick up meals or eat whatever we could fit it our small refrigerator downstairs. So quickly, not knowing when I could go upstairs, I put the following into two shopping bags:

. a change of clothes

. a shower caddy with toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, etc.

. dog food and treats (Oh I forgot to mention she had to stay with us too!), a leash and poop bags

. electronics and chargers

. some towels

I’m sure we needed other stuff and, if need be, we could sneak upstairs and get it.

This reminds me of packing for a trip. Most people tend to overpack because we are afraid of being without something. So we take everything in reaching distance and hope that this time we will actually use most of it. Does it make you wonder if we are all spoiled?! What about people who live in a place as big as a closet with not much around them. Do you think they are thinking about their I pad, or if their Amazon Music is updated. No, they are not thinking about this at all.

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In retrospect we need to get a grip on the amount of stuff we have in our lives. Next time you decide to declutter, decide if someone wants this when you are dead or if you would grab it if you had to run out in an emergency. If it doesn’t make either of those, then you should think about decluttering and leaving less for the garbage down the road. So next time you are sitting there deciding whether to throw something out or not, think:

. Do I ever really use this?

. Would I take it in an emergency?

. Will anyone in my family find use for it?

If you have answered mostly “no’s”, you know what I am going to say. Let’s start to enjoy the daily parts of life that are important (love, family, friends) and place less importance on the “stuff” we will end up leaving behind.

I would love to hear your thoughts about this.

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Meet Me In Calabash

A Visit to Calabash, NC…..

Welcome to Calabash, NC

We recently had the opportunity to visit friends in Calabash, North Carolina. I had never heard of it before and was thrilled to discover this wonderful, quaint town in North Carolina minutes from North Myrtle Beach.

Sunset Beach…..

We flew into Myrtle Beach in just short of two hours. A quick flight is always the best way to start a vacation. And then the fun began.

We stayed in Brunswick Plantation, a manicured golf-course gated community with condos, sprawling greens and new houses being built every day. There are pools surrounded by the lakes there and the views are outstanding. It was just a comfortable, restful place to be.

The first day seemed to be the best possible weather of the week so that was the day we visited Sunset Beach. I was the most excited to go to the beach and was even happier that my husband and friends enjoyed it as well. Not only did you have a beautiful beach with clean sand and ocean sounds, but you can sit under the pier and not be in the sun if you chose. I loved running my toes through the water and breathing in the fragrant ocean breeze.

Besides the beach, we visited many wonderful restaurants in Calabash and North Myrtle Beach. Some that I would highly recommend are:

I am a seafood aficionado and I had to try all the seafood I could for most meals. I had grouper, shrimp, stuffed flounder, fried clams and awesome clam dip. We started the week at Abuelos for delicious Mexican food and ended it at Grumpy Monks with delicious hamburgers.

            . Abuelos

            . Boundary House

            . Clarks

            . Fillet’s

            . Grumpy Monk

            . Flying Fish

At Fillet’s we sat outside and watched the boats go in and out of the moving pier. We watched the sunset and enjoyed a feast of stuffed flounder, triggerfish ( a new fish I had never tried, almost like a filet of sole), tuna and so much more. We definitely over-ordered but what a memorable meal!

Sunset from deck of Fillets

Besides eating, we enjoyed ice cream at Molly’s Creamery a few times during our visit. We visited Barefoot Landing and Broadway at the Beach boardwalks during the week. Each of these boardwalks had their unique style and definitely a Carolina flavor to it. There was so much to see and do that it will require another visit.

Barefoot Landing:

Barefoot Landing is a large shopping complex located in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It consists of several divided sections of stores and attractions located on filled land over top of Louis Lake, next to the Intracoastal Waterway. Barefoot Landing was previously known as the Village of the Barefoot Traders which was a collection of 15 unusual gift shops that was located on 3½ acres along a natural marsh and in 1988 was rebuilt and opened as Barefoot Landing. The complex, a popular tourist attraction, has over 100 stores and restaurants, on all sides of a small lake, plus it has adjoining areas with Alabama TheatreHouse of Blues and Alligator Adventure.

We ate at the Flying Fish, which has the fish of the day, and many choices of seafood specials. There I tried my absolute favorite fish, grouper, This was the first time I had it fried and it was definitely different and very enjoyable.

There were so many fun sites to see, games to play and a great place for all ages. When we left, we drove around and admired the real estate available near Barefoot Landing and the surrounding areas.

Broadway at the Beach

Broadway at the Beach is located off Highway 17, Broadway at the Beach is a must-see for Grand Strand visitors. There are over 100 specialty shops that sell everything from T-shirts and sunglasses to fine jewelry and high-end shoes. Also, there are more than 20 restaurants that feature all kinds of food, from hamburgers to great local specialties. Broadway at the Beach also contains a 23-acre lake surrounded by boardwalk, making it a great place to stroll on a sunny day or balmy night. During the summer, the boardwalk has live music and other events. There are so many fun activities to try including zip-lining for the adventurous, and Paula Dean’s restaurant and store for those who love browsing. You can never do it all in one visit. We ended our visit with lunch at the Grumpy Monk—one of the biggest burgers I have ever had.

It makes your mouth water….

I can’t wait to visit Calabash again and discover all the other secrets it has to offer. Please share any of your experiences from Calabash or North Myrtle Beach…..

The Beach: Relax and Destress

Whether it’s digging your toes in the sand, or collecting seashells while dodging small, coastline waves, nothing compares to the serenity you feel when you go to the beach. The salt air smell and the calmness of watching the waves, can make all the stress leave your body.

Why do people love the beach?

People are willing to pack up their car for a day of sun and fun at the beach with food, drink, towels and chairs. Sometimes they even have a radio with them (now replaced by music on a phone) which means you only have to add some ear buds to your packing. Oh, and don’t forget the sunscreen.

We pack with such gusto even though we know our car will be full of sand on our return. The benefit of this is that we can smell the beach for days to come, until we decide to visit that car wash. We sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic to feel the sand between our toes and breathe that special salt air.

Relaxing and Renewal at the Shore

By Timo Wagner on Unsplash

There are no words to describe the feeling you get when you hear the crashing of the waves on the beach, coupled with children and families laughing together, forgetting the weight of the world. Collecting seashells becomes the priority of the day and phones become a part of our other world. A release from real life in a place that we feel at home and together with the earth.

Sometimes when I go to the beach, I close my eyes, breathe in the smells and listen to the world around me. This replaces the everyday noises of trucks, buses and interrupting texts and phone calls that boggle our lives. It is a time to release our anxiety and feel happy throughout our souls. Putting your phone on silent is the most rewarding part of getting away for the dayMost people have a favorite beach close to home that they visit to get away from it all and to reconnect with nature and their inner calmness. This beach is much different than the one we visit on vacation where we sign up for all the activities, we can fit into our days of being away from home. This beach is where we can do some critical thinking, re-evaluate our lives and feel total renewal before going back to our “normal, everyday life”. Some compare it to the feeling you get after a good workout – relieve stress, feel renewed.

The beach can pick you up out of a deep rut or sadness, and make you feel part of the earth. Somehow problems seem to be less intense when sitting on the sand and listening to the sounds of the ocean and people relaxing and leaving their troubles behind. If you are able to take a nap, you will be lulled asleep by the sounds of the crackling waves, the birds flying around and children laughing. If this doesn’t make you feel better, nothing will.

By Salomon Riedo on Unsplash

I love collecting seashells and then cleaning them in a bucket. When I go home, I sort through and find the ones I will keep in my treasured display. I rewash them and have them dry so I am ready to add another beach day to my collection. My seashell collection varies from one shell designs to coral looking shapes that I can display on my tables. These fancier shells are ones I found in Florida and Delaware beaches. The beaches I visit in New York contain mostly the one shell looking design. These simple shells add to my big bowl collection as a fill-in around those other more grandiose looking shells which can tell their own story. I often wonder how far these shells have traveled, what other beach goers have admired them, and how long they have been in existence. My day of visiting the beach continues as I admire my shells for weeks to come.

Whether you have a good book or a refreshing drink, the day of fun and relaxation in the sun is like no other…….

Please take a look at my other stories on Vocal Media.

Getting Back to Normal

So now that Covid restrictions are being lifted one at a time, people are getting back into the world. Each step back into a “new normal” feels wonderful and different. We were stuck without our loved ones, our routines, our fun nights out for so long that we are just staring in anticipation at what we hope will be a great summer to make up for last year’s debacle.

Time to enjoy every bit of nature…..Photo by kira schwarz on Pexels.com

Last week was the first time I drove back to my gym for a class. For the last 15 months I have been taking virtual classes. It felt so weird driving there, almost as if I was breaking a law. It will probably become a routine again after I go a few times a week. But what has changed? Well, now I don’t have to drive there everyday as I can still take virtual classes. This allows me to mix it up and to also not miss a workout if driving doesn’t fit into the schedule. I will use those virtual workouts when I am busy on a project or traveling, but overall am looking forward to seeing people on a daily basis. I also think that you work harder during an in-person workout than on Zoom. I often caught myself going to do other things in the middle of a workout. Can’t do that at the gym so I will be making the gym more of a priority.

Relax and enjoy the world around you… Photo by Dainis Graveris on Pexels.com

The other change is getting together with people. I looked at my weekly calendar this morning and was excited to see that I had lots of things planned. In fact, on Friday, I have two events. That’s a big deal after not having any at all. People are anxious to see each other, to truly renew friendships and to enjoy the little things in life that perhaps some of us took for granted.

In fact, this week I plan to visit my school which I retired teaching from during the pandemic. I hope to see some of my students and give them an official goodbye. I was lucky enough to see some of my colleagues at our first in-person book club meeting since Covid. It was a wonderful time to reconnect and honestly, we didn’t even discuss the book this time as people were so excited to be together in a fun setting in person and not on Zoom.

So I wish all of you a Happy Summer and hope that you fill it with days that are complete and fun and full of everything important to you that you missed during our “over a year pause of life”. It is time to make those memories , always cherishing each other and realizing that fragility of life as we know it can be taken away in a moment’s notice. So love more, hug longer and reach out to those you have missed these past 15 months.

How are you celebrating returning to real life? I would love to hear your stories.

My Cuddle Muffin

My First Dog Love

When you find a dog that melts every part of your heart, you know that this dog is part of your family and part of your life unconditionally.

Years ago, I lost my dog Buddy after 12 years. It was heart-wrenching to watch him go over the Rainbow Bridge and not see him when I came home from work or running errands. No matter how bad of a day you had, the tail wagging and puppy kisses can make everything better. And especially when there is no one else to greet you.

Today is his birthday and every year I feel the same sadness. He was lovable and loyal and meant so much to our family. Through his blindness and epilepsy, which he developed at three years old, his love was still unconditional. We bought him at a Puppy Store when my children were very young. Soon after we found out all the problems he had (being bred at a puppy mill). I would recommend that anyone who wants a dog to love should go the rescue route so you can avoid cross-breeding and illnesses that make you upset (and a little broke too)

I swore that I could not go through this heartache again. But then a dog comes into your life….

Enter My Cuddle Muffin

My happy little traveler.

My husband and I were engaged to be married and had a few meetings with our priest. Our priest had a Bichon Frise, named Faux Pas (an oops or mistake in French), who I immediately fell in love with. She was rescued by him, found on the side of a country road. He knew that when he brought her home to his wife, he would hear about his faux pas, hence, so that is what he decided to call her. She is the most loving, cuddly little bichon that makes you feel so happy inside. Every time we met with him, she would sit close to me and listen to our conversations and sigh happily. I couldn’t wait for our next meeting to see her again. I kept resisting because I knew how heartbreaking it was to lose a dog you loved and did not want to endure that pain. But the love continued to grow….

Our priest would ask us what we would name our dog if we had one. He even said a dog like Faux Pas. I immediately said Penne like the Pasta and then she would be Penne Gallagher, representing both her Italian and Irish owners.

We got married about five months later. We knew that Faux Pas was pregnant and our priest often asked us how we would feel having a little Penne. I was still resistant because my heart was still broken from losing my Buddy just a few years before.

The day of our wedding we were told that we were being given the female of the litter as a wedding gift. We were still very hesitant. Did we want to take on a dog now? Could we go through the pain of losing another animal down the road? So many questions, we wondered what to do.

We went to the rectory about a month later to visit. Prior to getting there, we discussed that if we see this precious little puppy we would think about it before committing to taking her. Well, there was no thinking. As he handed us our little bundle, he said “Welcome to your forever family” and we were immediately in love with her.

She was the runt of the litter and so very tiny. She fit in the palm of my husband’s hand. We had never seen anything so precious.

Frantically, we took her to PetCo with us as we had nothing ready at home. We left the rectory with her favorite squishy toy and a bundle of hope. She is the daughter of a rescue on the side of the road and she is the most pleasant, lovable, wonderful dog that I ever had.

When we watched The Big Bang Theory and Sheldon called out for Penny three times, our Penne girl would look up and listen. She knew her name immediately and she felt at home in our house. She is the queen of our castle. Penne does bark when she sees other dogs walk by our house but if you come in expect to be kissed and jumped on with more excitement than you have ever witnessed. Her short legs will try desperately to climb up and she often needs help getting onto a chair or couch. Bichons are incredibly smart and she knows what time she gets her treats and her food, and she is sure to bark and let you know. It amazes me how her bark is different for each thing she wants. If you didn’t know better you would look in her eyes and see some human qualities.

Penne tilts her head when you speak to her. We tell her everything we are doing as if she is a human being. She understands when we say that we are going to Florida to see Grandma and delightfully hops in the car for the long ride down. She loves our daughters and son-in-laws and loves the little babies (our grandchildren) that visit. All she has is love and kisses to give.

Penne celebrates all holidays with us…..

Every moment is fun and loving and she loves us both unconditionally. We take her everywhere that she is allowed to go, and when we can’t she misses us and often feels anxiety. We are so thankful and blessed, and most of all, overjoyed that there was a Faux Pas on the side of the road to give us our beautiful baby.

She loves laying on a mat watching me cook.



Penne loves shopping too!!!

I shared this story in a Vocal Challenge and hope you will click here to view.

Do you have a story about a dog you rescued?

What Is A Mother ?

A Mother’s Love….

Elaine Gallagher

by ELAINE GALLAGHER 14 days ago in PARENTS

What is a Mother?A Mother's Love....Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

What is a Mother’s Love?

A mother’s love is like nothing else in the world. It knows no boundaries and will crush anything that stands in its path. It is an unconditional love, with no strings attached. You love your child for who they are, who they have become and no matter what.

Today on the seventh anniversary of my mother’s death I look back at a mother’s love and how it is like no other love in the world. I fondly remember my mother always sticking by me no matter what, and always encouraging me to fulfill my dreams. My mother was the most precious, selfless and caring person I know. I often thought about her this year during Covid and sometimes even chuckled when I imagined her responses to certain situations. I feel my mother’s love through her family as well, so this year of separation has been even more difficult for me.

I think we realize our own mother’s love even more, when we become a mother. The day that you become a mother changes your life forever. All of a sudden, the trivial things that upset you no longer matter as you gaze upon this little person who needs you for the rest of their lives. The immediate love and bond you feel is unexplainable, and so hard to describe to someone who has not felt this. Before I had children, people would tell me that it was the strongest love ever created. I did not believe that until it happened to me and no one can surpass the love you feel for your children because they are a part of your soul, your heart, and your whole life.

By Andriyko Podilnyk on Unsplash

Today as I reflect in sadness and complete grief as I think about my own mother’s passing on this day, I realize that love continues beyond the place we live, the earth, and the moon and the stars. It is a feeling that never leaves your inner being. It is a love that never ends.

The love you have for your children goes way into adulthood and until you suffer your own death, when it then becomes eternal love. We relish moments that are not even seen by others and we see our children grow into responsible, caring, wonderful adults. As a mom, I wake up proud every single day when I think of my daughters and the beautiful women they have become. I feel extremely responsible for instilling values in them, as well as positive thinking and self-esteem. Life is a roller coaster, and we have been on a very enormous one this past year, that keeps on giving us ups and downs. The most important thing is to go with the flow of these ups and downs and continue to grow as people. And never forget the love inside of you. Most of all, never forget the gift of life that you were able to be a part of as a mother.

This year I had the privilege and honor of becoming a grandmother for the first time. Although my grandson lives far away (farther because of Covid limitations), I feel a love that is different yet just as strong as the love I felt when I gave birth to my own children. As soon as I met him, I felt like he was a part of me and my heart and my life forever. It gives me such joy to see him growing up (thank goodness for Facetime) and I am so very proud of the mother that my daughter has become. It makes me so proud to see her taking care of this little guy and giving him unconditional love. Perhaps she even remembers how I took care of her throughout her life.

By 𝔥𝔦𝔩𝔩𝔞𝔯𝔶 𝔭𝔢𝔯𝔞𝔩𝔱𝔞 on Unsplash
By Christian Bowen on Unsplash

I remember when my mother became a grandmother and told me there was no better feeling in the whole world. Well, now years later, and without her to share it with, I feel that unconditional and amazing love for a little baby who carries on my family. Looking into the eyes of your grandchild can only give us hope and confidence for a brighter future. It is a love that knows no boundaries. My mother lived for her grandchildren and I totally understand that now. I feel such a deep sadness when I realize that my mother never got to see her great grandchild. I only hope she sees him from above and is beaming with love and pride.

I hope that all of you will take the time to think about your own mother and how special she is. Tell her as often as you can how much you love her, need her and appreciate all she does for you. Moms are pretty simple—the smallest token of love goes a long way. So this year on Mother’s Day and any other time you can, hug your mom a little longer, and a little harder, because she won’t always be there. Treasure her and make good memories that will stay in your heart forever. I miss my mother every single day but rejoice in all the wonderful memories I have of her and the love she brought to our family.

By Ryan ‘O’ Niel on Unsplash