Did You Just Say That I Inspire You?

Did You Just Say That I Inspire You?

We all have people in our lives that inspire us. I am constantly in awe of the strength and courage that so many display in my life. So when one of my biggest inspirations told me that I inspired her, I was beside myself. Really? It’s hard to believe that my half ass attempt at writing has inspired anyone, much less Dee. This is my friend who has overcome more in 4 years than most will endure in a lifetime. In short, she fell sick 4 years ago and ended up in the hospital for a couple of months. In that time she developed sepsis and the damage it did to her body was unbelievable. I watched her struggle to walk when her feet turned black. She eventually made the decision to have her legs removed under the knee. Immediately after she was wheeling around and excited for her new legs to come in. I can’t imagine how she was able to cope with all of it and raising her daughter on her own, but she did and she did it with such grace. As a close friend, I couldn’t help but worry all the time about her and she would always make me feel so relaxed. Yes, SHE would make ME feel relaxed. I guess part of that gift comes from having a child. She was so good with her little girl through everything. It takes a special woman to be a great mom and she is one of those special people. I doubt her baby ever saw her mom cry once.
The following New Year’s Eve we all met up to ring in the new year together. We all danced and hugged and celebrated those new legs! Around midnight when we were all quieting down a certain two lovely friends were kissing on the sofa. Unexpectedly two of my favorite friends had just connected. Wind the clock 3 years later and we are planning a wedding for them. I am busting with happiness for the two of them. There’s so much more I could say about this wonderful woman and this wonderful man, but it’s not my story to tell. She has debated for the last year on writing her story and I think she should. She inspires me. I think her daughter would like to read that story one day. Last night over a glass of wine with friends she told me that my blog has inspired her to write her story. My work is done. ūüôā

Kill Them with Kindness

Kill Them with Kindness

Inevitably we will all encounter people in our lives that just don’t get us. We are all different and it makes the world a very interesting place, but sadly, not everyone will like us and dare I say that some people will really dislike us. Sometimes it is for our views on politics and religion and sometimes it is just for the way we dress ourselves. My point is that it’s okay. I always, almost always follow my mom’s rule and try my best to greet these people with my same smile and a sincere hello. My mom always told me to “Kill them with kindness”. I find it works best. Besides, what’s the worst that can happen? Maybe they might actually start to “get you”. Maybe they might even become your friend.
One of my closest friends, Sarah, has been my dear friend for 25 years and she was one of the girls that didn’t “get me”. She was one year older in school than me and she automatically didn’t like me because I was a cheerleader. She told me later that she thought that I was “fake” because I smiled all the time. I still laugh about this with her. If fate had not put us in a situation where she needed help and no one else was around, we may have never become friends. But fate intervened and I am so glad it did. It reminds me to keep an open mind when I meet new people and keep smiling. You may just find a friend for life. And isn’t it a good way to live? Even our closest friends need to be lifted sometimes. Kill them all with kindness!

PS Mr. Sugarbears is very happy after a weekend of hugs.

Desire and Longing

Desire and Anticipation

When I first wake up in the morning I say a little prayer for the day. I ask that work goes smoothly, that my friends and family have really amazing days and that their health is good. I also pray that I present my best self during the day. This is my desire. Sometimes I haven’t even left the house when I feel I am already failing. It’s a constant fight. Sometimes it’s the “dwelling” that gets me the most. You know, the thoughts that enter your mind of failure and anger and disappointment. I fight those terrible thoughts and most often win, but it still can be a struggle to beat them. This morning was especially hard because I knew Mr. Sugarberas was sad.
I will never truly know what Mr. Sugarbears is thinking, but I like to think we communicate well with each other. This morning I found him in the guest room longingly looking out at the park. I imagine he was dreaming of all of the adventures we could have at the park today. Sadly, I had to go to work and he truly looked depressed. I gave him lots of attention and even his favorite sweet potato treats, but he just pouted. Tonight I have got to do something extra special with the baby. My heart aches to see him in need. So when I get off work I am just going to give Sugie a little extra attention and get out and about with him. Maybe we’ll go see some of his friends. It’s been a tough week for him. We haven’t had a lot of play time. I need to see his tail wagging.
Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Sugarbears lives a lavish life of treats, hugs and having full reign of our home all the time,but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t lonely. My husband and I both go home at lunch most days, too. I know it sounds ridiculous, but we don’t have children and he is our baby. I wonder if he needs a rescue buddy. Maybe he is longing for a full time friend. Hmmmm.

Neighborhood Watch

Neighborhood Watch

Shortly after we bought our home it was broken into. I will never forget the call from my husband telling me that he was waiting for the police and that Mr. Sugarbears was okay. Mr. Sugarbears was so upset. I think he felt as though he had let us down. I still agonize thinking of what the intruders may have done to my precious Mr. Sugarbears. He cowered for weeks after the break-in with every sound he heard outside. Of course, my husband, the original Sugarbear, went about making our house like Fort Knox after the incident. It takes something way more precious than material goods away from you when your home is broken into. It brings about feelings of fear and anger. It’s just not good.
When I started blogging I thought it would be a place for me to spit out thoughts and ideas and hopefully ignite something inside me to get back into writing. What I did not expect was the friendships I would make with so many people online. I didn’t expect to have so many feelings for people who I had never met before, but I certainly do. I read their comments and their blogs and I cry and laugh with each moment of joy, fear, anger and resolve. My emotions are all over the place. I want to encourage the writer who needs to be told that they are good. I want to hug the writer who is dealing with loss and sickness. I want to thank each one of you that stops by my blog and lifts me up each day. Thank you. I feel a little like Mr. Sugarbears and his neighborhood watch. I am watching and reading and wanting for more. Your stories have enriched my life. Your comments give me more reason to smile and share happiness with others.
These days, Mr. Sugarbears keeps a close watch on the neighborhood and I am thankful. There’s not much better than being greeted by my watch dog. I love hearing him run from upstairs to greet me at the door. Just know I am running to my computer everyday to keep my daily watch on you guys, too.

Birthdays, Friends and Potlucks

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I have mentioned before my wonderful group of friends that I potluck with on occasion.  I feel very lucky to have them all in my life.  We love to cook, eat and be merry. ūüôā  We had one this past weekend to celebrate our friend’s birthday.  We try to have a theme to follow to keep the food consistent and the theme for this one was “Fresh”.  The idea was to use the freshest food available and in its season.  It was all amazing.  We had gazpacho, two types of sushi, heirloom tomato salad, fresh green salad, a beautiful cheese plate, figs wrapped in prosciutto and filled with goats cheese and drizzled with honey, figs wrapped in pancetta, chicken thigh skewers, fresh peach Fuzzy Navels, Chocolate Zabaglione and to end on a high note…Key Lime Pie.  Our recipes are a combination of “made-up” and Shared recipes.  The Key Lime Pie recipe came from the Foster’s Market cookbook.  If you like a Key Lime Pie from scratch, this recipe is the one to try.  http://www.fostersmarket.com/recipe/key-lime-pie-with-walnutgraham-cracker-crust/

Key Lime Pie with Walnut Graham Cracker Crust

January 1, 2009 by  <a href="http://www.fostersmarket.com/recipe/key-lime-pie-with-walnutgraham-cracker-crust/

Makes one 9-inch pie; serves 8 to 10

For the crust

1¬Ĺ cups graham cracker crumbs
¬Ĺ cup ground walnuts (pulse in the food processor a few times)
3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons ( ¬ĺ stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling

3 large eggs
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
Grated zest and juice of 10 to 12 Key limes or 6 regular Limes
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, whipped and lightly sweetened with ¬ľ cup sugar

For the crust

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, walnuts, and sugar in a bowl and stir to mix.

3. Add the butter and stir until all the ingredients are moistened.

4. Spread the mixture evenly on the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan, then press the mixture with your fingers or the back of a spoon on the bottom and sides of the pan to form the crust.

5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, just until golden brown and firm. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

For the filling

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Combine the eggs, condensed milk, lime zest, lime juice, and vanilla in a bowl and whisk until well blended.

3. Pour the batter into the baked, cooled pie shell and bake 20 to 25 minutes, until firm.

4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Place in the refrigerator and chill for several hours or overnight.

5. When ready to serve, top with whipped cream.

This is the masterpiece that Cynthia created with the recipe by Sara Foster.

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My 100th Post!

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This week has been crazy and I was so excited about my 100th post that I felt I must really think about the content.  I decided to commit my week to being the best Shannon that I could be.  So, I took food to a family that just brought home their beautiful baby.  I met up with special friends.  I listened to a friend in need and tried to give good advice.  I went to a retirement home to visit a lovely friend of mine who is 98 years old and took her doughnuts and painted her fingernails.  Tonight I am going to help a friend get an order ready for shipment.  They may just make room for me in heaven after all. What I realized last night is that my smile was bigger.  My body felt lighter and I was possibly the happiest I have been in a while.  I really do love life and I try my best to make each day as wonderful as it can be, but being a better person….that’s where the real happiness comes in.  And after listening to my 98-year-old friend telling me yesterday how much she was ready to get out with her boyfriend and dance overflowed my cup.  Life is good!  Have a cupcake and dance today!

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Welcome Home!!!

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My brother-in-law just returned from a month-long trip in South Africa.  He volunteers with Dustin’s Greenhouse in Greensboro.  They were on a service learning trip.  To read more about the wonderful work of this organization…http://www.dustinsgreenhouse.org/main.html  I can just tell you that I am proud to have him in my family and I am so very thankful he’s home safe with my sister and the kids.  I drove my sister, the kids and his mom to pick him up from the airport on Friday.  You can imagine the emotion in the car and of course when the kids saw their dad.  I am so thankful that I could witness the arrival of the group returning.

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So we all took off for the beach after he came home and caught up with each other.  It’s winter in South Africa right now, so the beach felt extra nice to my brother-in-law.  We set up camp early Saturday morning on one of our favorite beaches.

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We introduced him to our new boat toy, also. The Gladiator is awesome.  The kids practiced all morning their skills.

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The finale was this ride.

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Welcome Home!

Working on my List

We all have them. ¬†I have a ridiculously long list of “to do” projects. ¬† Some people organize them and write them down, others type them onto a spreadsheet, and others just have a mental list. ¬†I pretty much have an ongoing list composed of all three types of lists mentioned. ¬†For instance, we bought our present home a little over 5 years ago and the house and yard list are enormous. ¬†My husband and I both enjoy the process of taking an older home and making it better. ¬†We started with gutting the kitchen the first year and that took about two years to complete. ¬†The problem is we both work full-time, do side work and get distracted with a million other small projects while we are working on one. ¬†It’s kind of crazy, but it works for us. ¬†While the kitchen renovation was going on, we added on a screened in porch. ¬†This is my favorite place to be, only second to the cottage. ¬†We have replaced some of the windows, all of the blinds, and I have painted some rooms more than twice trying to get the perfect color, and I am still not there yet. ¬†Last night my husband replaced our hideous mailbox that was bent and difficult to open and close. ¬†Bryan said he waited in the house for the mailman to pull up, just so he could witness the ease of his job now at our house. ¬†We imagine he cursed us privately every time he pulled up. ¬†Here it is-mind you we still have landscaping to do around it, but it’s almost a complete check on my list.

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Monday night I went over to my sister’s house and we worked a little on her list. ¬†We painted her upstairs hallway a beautiful navy and decoupaged canvases of her children to hang there. Here are the results of that project:
babies
and the hallway completed with new paint and pictures:
hall
We had more stumps removed out of our backyard this week and now have a clear area to start the car port and garage. Thank goodness. The saga of the trees and the stumps has been going on the whole time we have lived in our home. When we bought our home the backyard was full of trees that were not healthy and the ivy and trees all leaned towards the house. Each year we have removed trees and removed stumps and we are finally done with that part. It’s a huge relief. My husband has dreams of renting a back hoe and moving the earth around in dramatic ways. Not me, I just want it cleaned up and the fenced replaced for Mr. Sugarbears. Don’t get me wrong, whatever he does will be beautiful. I am just not that ambitious when it comes to the yard. The house is a different story. We still have to renovate two bathrooms. That will most likely start late fall. We have replaced most of the carpet with hardwood floors, for aesthetics and for cleanliness. Mr. Sugarbears is a shedder. Really my point of all of this is that my lists also contain my dreams. It’s not just the projects at home that keep my mind going one hundred miles per hour. It’s the dreams of how I need to shape my life in other ways. I want to write more. I want to contribute more. I should be more philanthropic with my life. Am I doing enough? No, I am not. So I am going to work on making a better “life-to do” list. Yep, that’s what is going on in my world right now. I am just working on my list.

He’s the Mac Daddy

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Okay, he’s not the Mac Daddy described in the Urban Dictionary of today, but he’s the best dad and friend anyone could dream. ¬†He definitely set the bar high for my sister and I to find a suitable life partner. ¬†And I think we did pretty dang good. ¬†They were both “daddy approved” many years ago.

My husband, Mr. Sugarbears-aka, our dog, and I spent the weekend at the family beach cottage with my dad, mom, sister and her kids. ¬†Instead of putting our boat in the water, we just spent the weekend with dad and his boat. ¬†It’s the boat my sister and I spent many years being pulled on waterskis, wakeboards, hydro-slides, trick skis, saucers….you name it. ¬†It’s the boat that will always feel like home to us. ¬†Daddy used to pull all of our cousins, too. ¬†He taught us all how to ski, how to fish for Spanish Mackerel and mostly how to love and respect the water.

Something about the combination of being at the cottage and spending the weekend playing with the family opened something up inside me. ¬†There is most certainly a small amount of stress related to spending 48 plus hours with your family, but what I find really amazing is the way my heart feels a relief after spending that time together. ¬†I feel such a comfort from being surrounded by such ¬†great love. ¬†My dad has always put his family first and truly loves us. ¬†He swings on his hammock and listens while my sister and I giggle with the kids. ¬†He sits in his chair under the umbrella and watches while my husband and I fiddle with the anchor lines and throw the children around in the ocean. ¬†He sits with the neighbors and tells them stories of his seventy years spent looking at this same view. ¬†He still takes them bbq and looks after their properties as they do ours. ¬†He dotes on momma and delivers her coffee in the morning with a piece of buttered toast. ¬†He then takes our husbands out for some gas station breakfast while my sister and I eat yogurt with the kids. ¬†He’s what all men should be. ¬†He is kind. ¬†He is loving. ¬†He is generous. ¬†He is spiritual. ¬†He is the Mac Daddy.

Steel Magnolias

ImageLast night I met some of my favorite women in the world for a painting class. ¬†I am sure you have all heard of the “drink wine and paint a picture” classes. ¬†My sister and I have wanted to take one for quite some time. ¬†Sara Anne Photography studio downtown had a trial run last night. ¬†We were the lucky guinea pigs. ¬†Sara Anne has a background in art, too. ¬†She was a fantastic teacher.

ImageFive years ago one of my friends put together a group, the Birthday Girls. ¬†There are more than a dozen of us and we try to get together at least once a month to celebrate friendship. ¬†We acknowledge each other’s highs and lows with wine, tears and hugs. ¬†It is the stuff that scares men away and makes other women salivate. ¬†It’s a support group I never thought I would have in my life, and now I know I have one for life. ¬†So last night we added a few more women to the mix and even added some of our moms, too. ¬†

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I am so thankful for the friends I have in my life, the men and the women, but something about this group tugs at my heart strings.   We have watched each other through sickness, through babies being born, through family and financial crisis and still find more reason than ever to hug and laugh with each other.  Of course, the wine always perfects the evenings.

ImageWe all painted a magnolia last night and had a great time.  Of course, the best part is always just being together.  These are my Steel Magnolias.

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