Easter Morning: 2020.
It will be very, very different this year.
Most years past, after our move down south to Florida, Easter Morning has become a wonderful and tropical tradition… and always, at the beach.
We’d wake early - as usual.
Make a fresh pot of coffee - as usual.
But then, not, as usual…
I’d pop a tube of highly processed, cinnamony, and sugary goodness into the oven. As the rolls of spiced dough rise in the heat we’d get ourselves ready for a day in the sand. Surf and turf. And pure fun.
As the heavenly scent of cinnamon wafts throughout the apartment in windy swirls, combined with the fresh, salty, ocean breeze floating through the patio door. And coffee beans - doing their thing. We then ready our beach bag and grab our umbrella. When all is packed up and ready to go, and the buzzer finally decides to ding, I then proceed to slide the Easter Morning breakfast treat out of the oven. Something that costs a mere couple of dollars, but brings forth great and priceless joy.
In the final step of preparation, I then glide the spatula over the cinnamon rolls and spread the most delicious frosting atop. Standing in the kitchen, I watch as the ice cold frosting melts over the slope of a doughy mountain. And then, finally, the frosting completely melted, meeting in its final descent, gently hitting the baking tray. And with that act, it is our que to leave.
It’s then off to the beach for our Easter Morning. To sit and gaze at the ocean. To take in all the beauty of the sea directly in front of us. Stretching all the way out to the horizon. No end in sight. What’s past that line nobody really knows.
Going to the beach is something we do all the time. But on a holiday - it’s just all the more special. And all the more peaceful.
Hubby plants the umbrella into the sandy floor. We lay out our beach towels. And our doggie sitting between us nestled in the shade. And we swim. And read. And listen to podcasts and music. And mostly, we just drink coffee.
But Easter in Florida will definitely be very, very different this year.
The beaches here are closed to the public. Wrapped up with police tape. Barricaded. Coned off. Caution and warning signs abound. Parking not allowed. To help stop the Coronavirus spread, of course.
So, while there may be coffee, and while there may be cinnamon rolls, and while there may be frosting. There will be no surf and turf.
But knowing all that, one thing is still very, very certain. While they can most certainly close the beach, and can do so fairly easily I might add. There is no front door to the ocean. There is no window they can shutter and latch to prevent us from taking a look. And they certainly can’t throw away the key.
So while it may be in everyone’s best interest that the beaches remain closed this spring, the sea is still sitting out there - doing it’s own thing - very much alive and breathing - and it will be there still, on Easter Morning.
In fact, I tend to think the Sea and all the life within it, are kinda, sorta, wondering, at this point, where all the humans went? I think, maybe, the ocean is getting a little lonely? The dolphins that swim alongside us… what are they up to right about now? Either that - or the sea is laughing at us and saying, “Good riddance! They’re finally letting me take a nap!”
And it is with that thought in mind that we have been regularly going for our morning walks, still, throughout global chaos. As usual, throughout this pandemic, we take a peak, and glance out toward the ocean - from afar. As we get our cardio in, doggy included, we take a look outward toward the gorgeous and colorful and ever-changing skyline. And the forever distant horizon. While never, ever, crossing over the strategically placed yellow and black police tape. Of course.
And that is what life at the beach is all about, Charlie Brown.
Life. And The Sea.
Life surrounding the sea. On the sea. In the sea. And… looking at the sea. Gazing at the sea. And dreaming of The Sea.
Yes - I’ve lived The Sea Life for a few years now. It’s been over three years since I moved to Florida from the Midwest. Dreaming of the sea, ultimately, brought me to the beach. To San Pablo Island.
And with that milestone, there’s another kind of Sea Life that I’ve been living since my move to Florida. It has also been nearly three years since I was discharged from the Mayo Clinic Pain Rehabilitation Clinic - located in Jacksonville.
There is a cognitive behavioral therapy tool that all of us patients learned as we went through the long and detailed and rigorous rehabilitation program.
It divides our life - the life of an individual living with chronic pain - into three very distinct phases…
The A Life.
The B Life.
The C Life.
And while my C Life is ultimately why you are reading this right now, I wanted to provide you a brief explanation as to how the A and B life have to be lived - in order for a participant in the program to EVER even obtain the opportunity to have a C Life. Their own C Life.
First up is The A Life. And The A Life is just that. It’s LIFE.
The A Life is everything and anything and anybody that came before chronic pain took over the body. The A Life, for me, and for hundreds of other patients, was growing up… it was going to school… it was sports, it was college, it was marriage, it was graduate school… it was first jobs, or many jobs. Full careers. Family. Friends. Parties. Travel. Success. The A Life - was life, itself.
And then, all of a sudden, that darn, no good, very bad day of a B Life came along - and that was a very, very Bad Life indeed.
The B Life enters into a person’s life as chronic pain takes them over. A patient's body succumbs in almost every single way to unrelenting pain. Marriages are lost. Jobs are most definitely lost. Whole careers upended. Some patients even get fired from their life-long career on the very day they choose to take back their own life. To be admitted to hospital.
Money = gone. Even responsible and diligent financial penny pinchers and savers - their financial statuses, quickly changed.
Debts add up. Lots and lots of bills. Bills that can’t be paid. Bills on payment plan. Bills leaving one drowning in paperwork and dollar signs. A feeling that they will never be able catch up. Financial ruin….
All as the patient, and sometimes their family as well, spends every single penny at their disposal on doctors appointments, tests, experimental treatment, lots of travel to specialists, surgeries, injections, miracle creams, potions, lotions, powders, herbs, capsules and tablets. In search of a cure.
Daily life is abruptly changed. All the little things that make up a life. Hobbies are gone. Forgotten in nearly every way. Sports are not even an option. Cooking - gone. Reading - gone. Books sit closed and their bindings collect dust.
Parties - gone. Friends - lost forever. Mental strength. Physical abilities. Exercise. Self care. As chronic pain sets in, as chronic pain takes over… everything else is lost.
And The B Life can be a very long life. The B Life can leave a young 39 year old with a whole lot of gray hair on top of her head.
After the patient has done nearly everything, and lost nearly everything, that tends to be when they find out about Mayo Clinic’s Pain Rehabilitation Clinic. Some kind soul usually refers them. A friend, family member, doctor, or maybe even a quick Google search - a quiet whisper in their ear - informs them of Pain Rehab at Mayo.
And yeah - lots of people really do not even find out about the program I am discussing with you today until they’ve lived The B Life for a very, very long time. And a lot of pain has already been experienced. To the point that it’s all sheer madness of a life to live.
But then… That’s when PRC comes along. The C Life comes along. And The C Life - is a brand new life.
The C Life - is being reborn.
Think of it kinda like a cat…. Just as a cat has nine lives… graduates of the PRC Program at Mayo Clinic have three lives.
Like - no joke. I WAS reborn - at Mayo Clinic. My life WAS saved - at Mayo Clinic. I WAS transformed - at Mayo Clinic.
But it wasn’t a light bulb moment. No one flipped the switch. I wasn’t injected with a shot, vaccinating me into a different realm.
No, nope, nope, nope. That’s not how any of this works.
I had to earn my C Life. Through a lot of hard work on my part.
The C LIfe is a lifestyle choice.
But The C LIfe is, once again, Life itself.
The C Life is about acceptance. The C life is about making peace. The C Life is about discipline. Diligence. Routine. Adaptation. Moderation. Forgiveness. Patience.
The C Life is about faith.
The C Life IS hope.
And, maybe most importantly, the C Life helps a patient to say goodbye… To say goodbye to their nightmare, of a B Life.
And then, to take it even one step further - To say goodbye - for good - even to their A Life.
Yes, that’s correct. The A Life is tossed out the window too.
It is then and really only then that the C Life can become a real and new Life.
We do not look backward in The C Life. We don’t try to meet up with our old selves. We do not try to re-obtain our A Life. We accept that it is gone forever. And we simply accept the new selves we have become. Accepting of our past, and working toward a better future. And work - each day - to build a life around that knowledge.
If a patient fully believes and practices the program… all knowing the C Life Is a lifestyle - and not a magical lotion, potion, prescription, or pill - the C Life can really become a brand new life. A real rebirth. An Easter Resurrection.
The C Life, for me, has been truly life-changing. Just as it was meant to be. Just as I allowed it to be. And. Just as I continue to allow it to be every single day.
I’ve been practicing The C Life for nearly three years… It’s lifestyle - not a cure. It’s hard work - and not the waving of a magic wand.
And, The C Life is not perfect. In fact, there may be newer, stranger, or more horrible nightmares of problems that crop up in The C Life. Maybe even more so than in either The A Life, or The B Life. And I say that to be honest. But with great confidence. Because even with pandemics, massive contagions, and disruption of the entire world order, The C Life - can still be a fabulous life.
And anything, anything at all, can be accomplished living The C Life.
Despite all obstacle.
Despite any challenge.
Despite a roadblock, clearly sitting directly in front of a person.
The world is at the fingertips of the discharged patient - from the very first day they exit the Program and walk out the hospital doors for the final time. Life - is waiting for them as they enter their third life. Their new life.
The C Life has brought me more joy and happiness than I ever thought possible.
The C Life has stopped me from waiting… Waiting….. To LIVE.
I now am fully alive. Even today. In the midst of the world’s largest global crisis of our lifetimes. Yes, amidst the apocalypse of this plague. This global pandemic. Every day is still special to me. Every day I am grateful. And every day I am truly alive.
As we all continue in this, our strange and new kind of life. As everyone on Earth, right now, is also going through a transition of life. And, as Easter Sunday arrives on our doorstep.
Churches, for the most part, remain closed. Family and friends will not be meeting up, from afar, to celebrate the special Sunday. Most of us, throughout the entire world, will be having our Easter dinners with only the members who reside in our immediate households.
And while we cannot have the beach, and we cannot look out at the beautiful sea - as we sit in the warm sand - we can all still have each other. While we are all far apart.
Yes, there will be no beach on Easter Sunday this year... That is - Unless Dr. Fauci goes on television sometime between when Christ dies and when Christ has risen - and then proceeds to tell us that it is all now safe, let’s open up the world again! But something tells me he won’t be saying that any time soon.
Yes, Easter Sunday will be very different this year.
And with some supply chain disruption, there may not even be those highly coveted cinnamon rolls.
But there will be people sacrificing. For the good of humanity. And for the continuation of life itself.
I saw in the local Jacksonville news the other day that an administrator at Mayo Clinic Jax is now accepting letters, words of encouragement, drawings, images, etc. They will be sent onward - to all the doctors, nurses, and hundreds of other staff members who make up the Clinic. To thank them. We, the general public, have been asked to pass along our best wishes and support. As Mayo plays a prime role on the front lines of this global war on disease.
Mayo will no doubt be on the front lines of research, studies, testing, and treatment of patients - all in the CoVid19 fight.
It’s basically like this - As one of the most amazing humans on Earth always says, “We’re number one!”
All kidding aside though - They really are number one.
And yes - they saved my life. They brought me back into the world. And they lifted me up when I needed it the most.
My experience at Mayo Clinic has given me my C Life...
As I started my first job outside the home in a decade. As I’ve now completed road races, a half marathon, traveled, met countless amazing people, and various other opportunities I never thought humanly possible. Countless milestones and achievements I never thought would be available to me, merely a few short years ago.
But the most important part of what Mayo gave me really is my overall brand new life. The different life. The one that is in no way at all part of my A Life or my B Life. All the countless new doors that have opened. All the boats I’ve hopped on board - to float on out toward that distant horizon line in the vast and open sea.
As I volunteered.
As I fell completely and madly in love with Art.
As I started my own Etsy Shop, Website, Lifestyle Blog, and Art Studio. As I fell in love with writing.
As nothing is impossible to me now. As there is no limit to where all my dreams may take me next.
As Christine’s Floridian Dreams was dreamed up - because of them - because of Mayo.
Doing all things new. With confidence. Doing what was never completed in the A or B Life. Yes, I am truly living The C Life. Even amidst a global pandemic.
In fact, I actually tend to think that it is because of Mayo Clinic that I am simply plugging along, no big deal, throughout this sci-fi, apocalyptic life we all now find ourselves within.
When I graduated from the Program. I had a whole lifeline of tools at my disposal. Tools I have diligently utilized each day of my C Life. Tools I am continuing to use - right now - through crisis.
Life is good. Yes, life is still good. And while there may be crisis. And while there may be death, and horror, and evil, and destruction. There will always be hope.
So, to answer the call from the local news stations. These words of thanks are now my words of encouragement to all the doctors, nurses, and staff - as they fight on the front lines. As they battle the evil virus. As they fight for humanity. As they give hope to countless others. As they change lives each and every day. And as they continue to - right in the middle of a plague.
As they give countless patients a new life. With each deed, word, and action:
You’ve got this. And we are all here with you.
Yes, this may be a very different Easter.
All throughout the world. And even right here in Jacksonville, Florida.
And, rightfully so - There may not be the beach. There may not be surf to ride upon. There may not be men with metal detectors walking up and down the shoreline - looking for shiny coastal treasures. There may not be little children collecting shells, and building sand castles next to the tide pools. There may not be a grown woman with graying hair sitting out on the beach with cinnamon rolls, hot coffee, and a doggie sitting beside her in the sand.
But there will always be life. There will always be hope. There will always be faith. And, there will always be good people doing God’s work - each and every day. And maybe, and most importantly, floating out there on the horizon line… with a door that never closes and most certainly never locks, just waiting for that next someone to step out and push themselves off the sandy floor, onward and outward toward their next high and mighty adventure… forever unknowing of what truly lies ahead… The Sea Life. ~
*Happy Easter to Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, Florida.
Thank you - for everything.*
*This painting, titled - “The Sea Life” - is being donated to the Pain Rehabilitation Center at Mayo Clinic Jax - and will be hand delivered, in person… Whenever we can all see each other, once again - In real life.*
[Editorial Note]: I am not a doctor. And I don’t pretend to play one on TV either. This article and personal story is not medical advice or a prescription in any way. But - if this post reaches you because you are living in chronic pain. If you found this article because someone thought it may be screaming YOU. If you were referred here by others who thought you might benefit from this story. Let this reading be that whisper in your ear - informing you of possibility. Know there is always hope. There are people everywhere - on all corners of this globe - who know how to help you. Never give up. The people and place that helped me are referenced within this publication. The main phone number to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida is 904.953.2000. Go ahead and pick up that phone of yours. Punch in the numbers. And help yourself - by getting help from others.
Hey - you - over there. If you’re looking for more stories of hope, inspiration, faith and optimism, check out the links below:
64] Stay-At-Home Sunday ~ Palm Sunday
63] Mercy & Comfort
62] PERSPECTIVE @ Seaside Sculpture Park
61] Bean’s Idea List ~ 15 Daily Activities For Well Beyond 15 Days
59] REACTION ~ To World War 19
55] The Shamrock
51] Life Is Full Of Pasta-Bilities ~ Bean’s Red Sauce Recipe
49] A Picture Worth A Thousand Words ~ Happy Valentine’s Day, World
48] Love & Donuts In The Air @ Beaches For Australia
42] Where Does The Chicken Cross The Road?
41] Minnie The Daschund Mouse & Her Birthday Wish
39] The Very Official &. Quite Serious Donut Debate Of 2020
38] The Year Of The Sweater ~ Bean’s Minestrone Soup Recipe
36] The End Of A Decade & My New Year’s Wish To You ~
34] Merry Christmas ~ And How To Buy For That Person On Your List Who Saved Your Life ~
27] Thanksgiving & Pete’s Bar ~ Not All Resolutions Need Be Fulfilled On January First
26] Deck The Chairs ~ BE THAT CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THIS OUR VERY OWN AND SHAREABLE WORLD
24] In Real Life ~ My First Visit To A Southern Living Idea House
23] Faith ~ And Life Lessons Learned Living With Wild & Untamable Hair
21] Cinotti’s ~ And Why Life Is Too Short To Not Eat Donuts
As we reach the very end of yet another year, and the grande finale of a wild and crazy decade, we are all closing a very big and heavy and quite bulky hardcover chapter book, and we’re placing it safely onto our bookshelves. That story is now over.
And while the pages inside might be worn, or old and tired and wrinkled pieces of paper - after ten years of daily shipping and handling - those pages are also quite wonderful indeed.
The Book Of 2010:2019.
This book will now sit and rest, nestled high up on its shelf, beside all of our James Patterson novels, our John Grisham novels, our Ernest Hemingway novels. It might also rest against our journals and diaries or daily planners… planners full of possibility, and dreams yet to come true. Planners with lots of post-its in a rainbow assortment of colors sticking out the tops of its pages.
And now all the history books will be written. All that has happened between 2010 and 2019. To me, the world looks almost nothing like it did ten years ago, and yet, I can’t help but think, and hope, that it still looks very much the same. We still celebrate the end of a year, we still dream for the future, we still have optimism in our hearts. And we still wish our fellow humans well. A Happy New Year Wish is not just a heartfelt greeting, it is a way of life. Or it can be a way of life...
So to you, my dear and fellow humans, I wish you Well. I wish you Good Tidings and Cheer. I wish for you... The World:
I wish for you to notice each flower petal as it blooms.
I wish for you to fully see and appreciate every blade of green grass, every bold and bright green leaf on a tree, every flowing frond on a palm.
I wish for you to take the road less traveled…. Yes, even if it’s not straight and narrow. With lots of stops and curves and bumps along that route.
Because that road will make you who you are… Especially come another ten years.
I wish for you that your cup runneth over. With joy. And love. And mostly with good will toward your fellow human beings.
I wish for you to blend in… to live harmoniously.
And I wish for you to stand out… and be yourself in a vast sea of people.
I wish for you to be YOU. Whoever that may be. Light your fire and become hot and flaming.
Don’t let anyone extinguish it.
I wish for you to never take your freedoms for granted.
I wish for you to eat that slice of pie…and to taste the best donuts on this Earth - after all, you only live once.
I wish for YOU to be the one to forgive.
I wish for you to understand - and know - and realize - and believe - that forgiveness begins with you, and you alone.
I wish for you to treat others as you would like to be treated... That one’s simple - right?
I wish for you a better world ten years from now.
I wish for you to see all the GOOD that is in the world of TODAY.
I wish for you Peace On Earth.
I wish for you to love one another.
I wish for you to remember your past, your family members and friends departed...
I wish for you to know that their memory is alive and well, living deep inside you - Right. Now.
I wish for you to see your wonderful and unknowing future. Envision it. And then live that vision.
I wish for your to keep the holiday spirit alive and well… All the year through.
While the tree may come down…
And the snow may stop falling…
And the music might change its tune…
The spirit and the sparkle that are alive and breathing during all the many unique and wonderful and amazing holidays, can stay in your heart... all the year through - if you let it, and welcome it in.
But most of all…
I wish for you ADVENTURE…
I wish for you to Dream A Dream.
And I wish for YOU to make that dream come true.
I wish for you to visit a different state.
I wish for you to travel to a different country.
I wish for you to see the world from a different point of view.
I wish for you to stand on this Earth from a different vantage point.
I wish for you to see something in real life, that you only ever saw buried deep inside the worn pages of a book, or a magazine.
I wish for you to take a road trip. And to eat yummy and wickedly greasy food inside your four wheel drive Ford Explorer, while you’re on cruise control through various cities and states, looking out your window, passing by rows of cotton, or corn, or soybean, on the side of the road. And to drop a hot french fry under your car seat, and let it fall deep into a Black Hole, never to be seen from again. And to drink delicious and very strong espresso or coffee from Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts to help keep you awake on the road. And then to spill some hot and sticky drips onto your nice leather center console, and to not worry even once what these spills will do to your car’s interior.
I wish for you to take a plane ride. And to let it take you around the curvature of the Earth.
I wish for you to board a bus and take a ride driven by someone else. Yes, that red and white and black Disney Transport Bus does count.
I wish for you a carriage ride.
A sleigh ride.
A trolley ride.
A ride in an Airstream, traveling high up into the mountains. To stand up there and look down upon the Earth’s ground floor. And to stand at the bottom of the mountain and look up toward the top floor.
I wish for you a train ride… yes, even that ride you may not want to go on.
I wish for you to travel long and far and wide, all the way through to a vast and faraway desert, and walk toward a mirage, and head onward to the horizon if you must - to find what you are looking for.
I wish for you to challenge your soul.
I wish for you to look back on this next and upcoming decade…
The Book Of 2020:2029.
Ten more whole years of life… And to reflect on your actions. Reflect on your vision.
To really see what is right in front of you.
And to see what is beyond you. Envision what is on your future horizon line.
See what your reflection looks like when it bounces back at you from the water. What will YOU give back to the world… in all of that long time?
I wish for you to be present and aware a decade from now…
And to look back, and to think to yourself, that you did everything you possibly could to live… To Be Fully And Completely Alive. In your heart and in your soul. Over the next ten years. To look back another whole decade from now... And to send out a Tweet, post an Insta, put a Pin on your Pinterest Board… Or to do whatever it is we all will be doing ten years from now? Send out a letter, draft up an email, write a blog post, type up a whole book… Or maybe, just simply put something down on pen and paper, write a note inside your journal, or draft some scribble onto a bright yellow post-it that you then tuck inside of your daily planner, with a wish for that next decade...
Then close the book.
And Live that wish…
All the days of your life. ~
12/23/2019 0 Comments
During the opening scene of the holiday film classic, White Christmas, Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) saves Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby’s) life. It’s World War II. Bombs flying overhead. Rubble and lots of blown up, destroyed buildings half-standing all around. Davis pulls Wallace out of the path of a swaying and then falling, crumbling, and collapsing red brick building wall. He saves Wallace’s life - and injures his own arm in the process.
While in the hospital tent recovering, Wallace goes to visit Davis. To check on him. To thank him. For saving his life.
“It was a life worth saving,” Davis proudly proclaims. And simple, matter-of-fact like. He might as well of said,
“No big deal.”
“I do that sorta thing all the time!”
You see, Davis lived a happy, silly, and very innocent existence. Cheerful all the time, even on the lowest of days, he would find the bright spot, he would always be the jokester. Any scene he was in, it was a scene filled with joy and laughs.
Wallace had always been much more serious. Even in show business, the entertainment business, he was always focused on the Business side of any Show. Wallace and Davis became business partners after the War ended. Wallace - watching the finances - Davis following the dream.
Despite all cost. Money didn’t matter. He had a vision. And he was set to do it.
To convince Wallace to go along with any of his pricey and elaborate schemes, Davis simply pointed to that arm of his. A constant reminder to Wallace that he had saved Wallace’s life…
After all, it was a life worth saving.
Those constant and nagging reminders given by Davis are imperative scenes in the films plot. From that point forward of Davis saving Wallace’s life, every time Davis needed or wanted anything… anything at all, he just points to that arm of his.
So, ever and always hounded by Davis, Wallace repeatedly complied. Following Davis’s every whim, every desire, every dream. Even running to catch a train, and take a long, dreamy, and leisurely and quite lovely ride on the rails up north to Vermont. A trip he originally didn’t want to go on… and sleep in a drafty old club car - with no nice, warm bed? Wallace owed Davis. Big time.
He’d do anything to appease Davis. After all, how do you repay someone who saved your life?
It’s constant, right? For the rest of your life?
There is no amount that can suffice such a reciprocal payment for services rendered.
Wallace understood this. He knew no amount of money could repay Davis for the life he saved under the falling red brick building back during the War.
How much does it cost to save a life? How much would a person pay to be saved? How much does Wallace owe Davis for his act of selflessness and heroism? It was a near-impossible equation to solve. Unless, maybe, getting some insurance adjusters and lawyers, or mediators or other adjudicators, and judges and juries involved to finally solve the problem of Davis constantly pointing to his arm???
No, Wallace would never do that… that would cost more MONEY! Just keep on appeasing him. Just keep on humoring Davis… for the rest of his life. It was worth it. He was ALIVE after all.
In the end, they remain forever friends... And forever grateful of their drastically changed lives and all they had gone through together. War, and horror, death and destruction - to brand new post-war lives, the entertainment business, and finding the loves of their lives, together.
Their happily ever afters.
So, the question remains today in lots of people’s lives… How do you repay the person who saved you? If your life was utterly and literally saved by someone else, how can you possibly repay them? Is there is price tag on that action?
AND FURTHER - when the holidays come around each year, how do you give a gift...what do you buy… for that person on your list who saved your life?
The answer is simple.
I’ve watched White Christmas an infinite number of times. I have it memorized. I can taste the frothy and magical and very appealing drinks in the dining car scene onboard that infamous train ride up to Vermont... “Snow… Snow… Snow... Snow!” I can direct the remake if you’d like me to. I’m an expert.
But, I always used to question Bing Crosby’s character in the film. Wallace never told Davis to SHUT UP, to STOP WITH THIS LIFE SAVING BUSINESS! He never gave in or gave up on him. He never yelled - Stop pointing to your arm! Stop reminding me you saved my life! Stop bothering me!
Well, wait… maybe he did.
“Sometimes I wish the wall had fallen on me…” Wallace complains to Davis.
Awhhhh moans Davis, you don’t mean that!
Maybe Wallace did tell Davis to schedadle. Go away. But in an innocent manner. He never really meant it. That’s why they remained life-long friends. They helped each other through a dark time. That never goes away. Even as life changes in the future. He will be forever grateful that Davis saved his life.
You CANNOT put a price on a life. All life is precious. A life saved cannot be repaid. There is no amount. No check you can write. No card all-encompassing.
When stuffing the envelopes for your holiday cards and you get to the person who saved your life… do you add some extra glitter in their card? After all, they need something extra from everyone else, right?
Sure, every day, in trials and settlements, financial figures are calculated to affix and satisfy lawsuits etc. Insurance companies and attorneys calculate cost-of-life and benefits, etc. etc. etc. Money owed someone over the course of a lifetime - a calculated financial equivalent to compute what a life is worth with a dollar sign. But the money does not make a person whole. And life is not about the money. Which really explains why there is no suitable Christmas gift to give to the person who saved your life.
There is only one way to repay the person who saved you. One Christmas gift you can give them. It is by living your life. A life of gratefulness. Of service. Of thanks and gratitude. Of giving and generosity. Living the amazing and completely priceless life you were given - by that person who saved you...
By living your very best life - each and every day. Only someone who has been saved and pulled from the darkness can potentially even understand this. It just doesn’t happen all the time. That’s why there isn’t a section in the Hallmark card aisle devoted to it. We have - Merry Christmas to Mom & Dad, Happy Holiday’s To My Co-Worker, Dear Grandma, To My Dog Groomer - at Christmas… But where’s the card for - At Christmas… For Saving My LIfe??? I need that card. To give to someone I owe. But it doesn’t exist.
And that’s ok.
The person who saved you understands as much. They just want you to live your life. They don’t want a big thank you.
I know this.
I know this because my life was saved.
Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida saved my life. Both literally and figuratively... Physically and mentally. Three years ago. This will be my third Christmas since my life changed forever.
How can I possibly repay them for what they did for me?
I volunteered at the hospital for a years time. I donate. Etc. Etc. Etc. None of it adds up to how much they helped me. I could hand them the moon - because that’s what I want to do. I owe them everything. I cannot possibly repay them though.
My first holiday season post-treatment at the Clinic, I wanted to do something for them to thank them. Nothing matched my gratefulness. I wracked my brain. There was no money. There was no Hallmark card?!....
I’ve got it!
I’ll bake cookies!
Frosted Christmas Sugar Cookies - to be exact.
So during the holidays of 2017, my husband and I spent an entire weekend in the kitchen. Baking. It was wonderful. After many years of marriage, it was our first time really taking some quality time together to simply do some solid and legitimate baking. And our first real slow-down during any Christmas, ever.
And now, three years later, it is tradition. One weekend a holiday season, we stop everything. We don’t go see any Zoo Lights that weekend, we don’t go see the St. Augustine Nights of Lights that weekend, no Deck The Chairs, no Luminaria, no Christmas Pop-Up Bar, no Beaches Town Center Christmas Tree and lights, and no gingerbread house at One Ocean, we don’t shop at Rockaway Gardens or buy any Christmas greenery that weekend… we simply bake.
I light festive and dreamy scented candles. We turn on Christmas movies in the background. Our apartment becomes a pine and fir and balsam and sugar and dough scented Heaven on Earth. And we bake.
And frost… of course.
By Monday, the day of my follow-up care each December, I go off to Mayo, with a box of sugary and holiday goodness in hand. I check in to my appointment, and drop the box off at the Pain Rehab Clinic. And then go on my way, to meet with everyone else who comes to these sessions, everyone else who has had their lives changed forever by the Pain Rehabilitation Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.
We meet. We attend our sessions. We listen. We learn. We talk. We snack. We dine. We say goodbye. We go on with our lives afterward.
Another two months go by.
We all meet every other month. Coming from places near and far. Driving, flying, and yes, by train ride also. In the interim, we all keep in touch via a private Facebook Group for “Graduates” of the amazing program. We are not merely just patients who have been discharged. We are graduates of a program designed to give us life again.
And we have access to the benefits of the Rehab Clinic for the rest of our lives afterward.
After two months, we do it all again...
But it’s that December session, during the holidays, when I always bring the cookies.
By the end of all the baking and frosting during that wonderful weekend, I have a delicious box of cookies, all wrapped up and ready to go. I try to ‘up my game’ every year. Maybe better-shapes. Maybe better overall presentation. This year, we tried to master the difference between border frosting and flood frosting. I certainly did not “master” it by any means, but it was a great start, and hopefully my cookies will improve even more next year. A great article about border frosting and flood frosting can be found here - one that even a lazy baker can follow.
When I drop off my cookies, I’m proud of myself for just a small milli-second. For “stopping my life” for 48 hours. For dropping everything. To give something to someone else. Something so very simple. But something to show and express my gratefulness. Gratitude goes a very long way. But cookies go even longer.
This post is utterly and sincerely dedicated to all of the staff at the Mayo Pain Rehab Clinic. The doctors. The nurses. The occupational therapists. The physical therapists. Nutritionists. Pain Psychologists. Any and all other staff. The invisible and unnamed hard workers. The ones who stuff envelopes reminding us of our appointments. The awesome woman who always answers the phone. The people who keep all the amazing facilities clean and tidy and safe so that patients and doctors and nurses and other staff can do the life-saving work they need to do to get back out and into the world. The ones who are currently working very hard on building construction to renovate and add to the facility to make room for a whole additional team of patients, who will be able to partake in the program in the near future. Everyone. Thank you.
There are no words.
There is no amount of money.
There is no Hallmark card I can buy.
I can never repay you.
I can bring you cookies. But I can never repay you.
You saved my life.
You brought me back to life.
I know I helped just a little bit. And God did too. And I do give God all the credit here.
But right now, this one’s for you. YOU deserve A LOT of the credit.
I do the hard work it takes each and every day to continue to survive after my discharge and graduation. I know that.
But y’all work so hard too. You deserve everything. You deserve the moon.
You pulled me out from the bombs flying by overheard. You dragged me away from the heavy red brick wall collapsing on top of me. You lifted me out of the rubble and mess. You saved me from war and death and all the destruction it brings with it. All your hard work. All the efforts. Oh, the broken arms all the Phil Davis’s have endured to help save us patients. It can never be repaid. I can never thank you enough.
But you know what? I think you know that.
I think you know… that graduates living our very best lives, and doing our very best work to live a healthy, productive, generous and giving life ourselves, is our way of repaying you… each and every day. And I try to do just that.
It’s a lifetime of work.
Yes, it is for the rest of my life.
As one of the most amazing humans the world has ever known always says and reminds us... this is a lifetime commitment. There is no end date. This lifestyle is a commitment we make with ourselves until we draw our very last breath upon this Earth.
I completely understand what he means in every sense of those words.
So thank you. Thank you for those words. Thank you for your help. Thank you for saving me. But it was a life worth saving. I try my best. I thank you forever. But my life and my life’s work ahead of me is my real thank you to you. I cannot repay you with money. I cannot even explain it in these words here and now.
You know that...
So Sugar Cookies will have to do in the interim.
Thank you Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.
God Bless the Pain Rehabilitation Center and staff.
This is my Christmas gift to you.
And Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of my very dear readers and subscribers. ~
This personal story is my Christmas gift to you (or someone you know) who can benefit from it in any way. If you, or someone you know, is in pain. If you are struggling. If you feel hopeless. If you are in chronic pain. If you are suffering severe depression. There is always light. There is always hope. I am not a doctor. I cannot save you. My hope with this blog is for you to use me simply as one example. To read about others, and their stories. Learn from them. Seek help. In this article is the physical facility I personally recommend. While everybody's experience will be different and unique to them, I am sharing my experience for others to benefit in any way. In my story, I am specifically referencing the Jacksonville, Florida branch of Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic has three branches - they are located in Rochester, MN, Jacksonville, FL, and Phoenix, AZ. In my own personal experience and my own personal opinion and not referring to anyone else’s, they are very different from one another. This article is referring specifically to the Jacksonville, Florida location. Their main phone number is 904.953.2000. Use my story and my example as a push to get you or that someone you know the help they need. YOU are your own best advocate. No one else will ever be able to advocate for you - better than you, yourself, and YOU. Don’t wait for someone else to come along and save you… save yourself… just maybe by letting someone else save you. But anywhere you are, there is help. Get out there… it’s YOUR JOB to get out there... and FIND IT.*
The Beaches Green Market is a local farmer’s market in Neptune Beach, Florida. The market takes place every Saturday, year round, and is centrally located in the small beach town at Jarboe Park.
Always from 2pm-5pm, it’s a fabulous place to pull over on a Saturday while out running errands, or to grab some bakery, maybe even flowers, to bring along to a gathering. If you’re out for your weekend grocery shopping, I’d recommend stopping here for fresh, local produce, before heading to the grocer for the rest of your needs.
Some of the vendors tend to be the same each week, and yet there are always some different booths each time as well, or maybe even a food truck. There’s always a surprise or two each visit, which makes return visits likely and more enticing. Once you go to the Green Market - you tend to come back on the regular.
In the past, we’ve purchased fresh and delicious produce, gifts for family, as well as some lovely seagrass scented candles from Eden’s Leaf Naturals; all depending on what our needs are for that week. This week, while we didn’t make any purchases, we still enjoyed the visit.
And with the added bonus of the market being pet friendly, your dog can come along with you and enjoy the park afterward. With ample parking surrounding the entire large property, it’s an easy stop to add into your Saturday activities.
And I was especially excited for this Saturday’s Market because I knew it was their official holiday market! There was jewelry for sale, coastal ornaments, and lots of reusable gift bags available for purchase. There was also a holiday craft table set up for children to make their own candles. And they even had a local band playing. Wearing red and white Santa hats… THIS was most definitely my favorite part!
Beaches Green Market can be a quick stop, or a leisurely part of your weekend activities. Its location in Jarboe Park is a very popular local park in the Beaches community, and this setting allows the Market the perk of being surrounded by walking paths, a lovely maintained community garden, fountains, and tables and chairs for picnics. All under a clear blue and bright and sunny sky.
Basketball courts and full sand volleyball courts are a nice addition as well. There also is a small, old, historic house on site, and children really like wandering up to it and explore. I noticed the old home was decorated for the holidays and looking quite adorable. And then I found out that’s where Santa and Mrs. Claus sit on the porch, to greet children and ask what the want for Christmas. The little house is just across from the Jarboe Park official decorated Christmas tree.
I highly encourage an outing to the Beaches Green Market. It’s a great way to shop local - including always having a variety of local produce and other products available. I believe one of the real goals of any Farmer’s Market seems to be to help bring the local community together, and that’s exactly what this one does. So get on out to your market, look for Santa while you’re there, and be sure to bring along your list to give him. ~
On the second Tuesday of every month here in the small coastal town of Jacksonville Beach, Florida, local artists set up shop along First Street in downtown for the monthly Jax Beach Art Walk.
This monthly Walk is actually one of the very many reasons my husband and I originally fell in love with our little beach town. It’s a small event, but a wonderful one. And we’ve always enjoyed seeing the unique pieces out on display. The event takes place from 5pm to 9pm; and I LOVE the December event the very best of them all... Because - Christmas - of course.
It’s an absolutely LOVELY way to spend a Tuesday evening. We had an early dinner - well, we always eat dinner early now - not really many exceptions to that. With my very healthy lifestyle comes a very early dinner - no late night eating or snacking - ever. So after we dined and feasted upon our very healthy and delicious homemade Taco Tuesday entree, we ventured out and proceeded to slowly walk and browse through the entire length of downtown Jax Beach.
And while the Jax Beach Art Walk takes place in the darkness of the night sky during this exciting and festive time of year, this December event it was not so dark after all while walking through the streets and past all the various shops and restaurants.
During the summer months, while the artists are still out at their booths as usual until 9pm, the sun is out nearly just as late to light the way. But during these Walks occurring during the cooler winter season, a stroll through the Art Walk in the dark is met by many kinds of unique ways artists try to light up their booths and displays. Lots of rope lights, holiday lights, twinkle lights, led candles, and icicle lights, etc. And let’s not forget all the iPhone flashlights showcasing lots of art while glancing up close. With the darkness of the December Art Walk, always comes these simple yet fun lighting displays.
And as a lovely added bonus, along with the beautiful sunset this Tuesday, we also had a breathtaking moon following us above in the night sky. Keeping watch over our quaint little town and providing additional light for shoppers and diners and tourists.
I met an artist who was selling at a large table set up with all kinds of various shaped little topiaries. The topiaries themselves were each lit with tiny, miniature pixie lights set as Christmas lights. He pointed to one of the topiaries for me and I noticed it was an AT-AT holiday topiary... That’s an All Terrain Armored Transport Star Wars vehicle topiary decorated for the holiday’s… but of course. I was very amused, it was adorable. And all the various creativity on display such as this was quite inspiring.
And then at the very center of town, sitting proudly on display for all, sits the Deck The Chairs holiday lights adventure. The Chairs were definitely all decked out in their holiday finest for the occasion, and many artists and shoppers commingled amongst all the exciting holiday festivities taking place. Lots of people were out to check out both the Chairs, as well as the Art Walk, so I highly recommend the December Walk if you are short on time and want to see two things at once.
I made one purchase that evening - a rose gold hematite ring from Artist Olivia Shore, who can be found at @livshoreart online. I haven't been able to wear my wedding rings in well over a year or really actually much longer now, as since my massive weight loss the rings no longer fit - and are quite pricey to be resized down. Someday I will get around to it though. So lately, and especially desiring some rings to wear, I’ve been very inspired by all the local artists selling various types of rings for some very reasonable prices. And the price from Olivia was definitely right for me. She was offering this ring for $12.00. But she mentioned that since I was buying directly from her and not from the shops she sells her merchandise in, she brought the price down to $7.00. Always happy to support an artist, but I cannot deny, mostly quite happy for the new jewelry too.
Most of the artists on the Walk sell in lots of local shops throughout town or the greater Jacksonville area. So as an added bonus to Art Walk patrons, if you purchase directly from the artist, instead of through their shops outside of this event, they tend to offer decreased pricing. This was offered to me without my asking… they simply offer better deals at the walk and state as much. So get on out to the next Art Walk, and support your local artists directly. But - still go to the shops as well, as they are magnificent in their very own and lovely ways of course.
I saw lots and lots of beautiful homemade Christmas ornaments for sale, delicate and burnt glass, some for only $3.00 a piece, lots of holiday paintings with lovely winter scenery, and tons of other unique and fun holiday decor. I especially loved the table selling the copper shaped coastal creations and was very tempted to make a purchase. I have a spot in my kitchen absolutely perfect for one of those pieces, and I love copper. They were all pretty expensive for me though so I held back and simply admired the pieces from afar.
Any of the art being offered at the monthly Walk would make a fabulous holiday gift. If you are still doing your shopping, and missed out on the Art Walk, consider one of the few remaining local upcoming holiday markets: including the Beaches Green Market, taking place at Jarboe Park in Neptune Beach this Saturday from 2-5pm, as well as the mid-week Atlantic Beach Holiday Market next week on Wednesday, December 18th from 3pm-6pm at Bull Memorial Park. You’ll be supporting local creativity, and getting your shopping done all at once.
Overall, any day - or evening - strolling up and down through town is a fabulous outing indeed. The moonlit sky, the sound of the rough and choppy, high surf from that next windy and wild Nor’easter that we experienced this week, including the holiday lights of Deck The Chairs, the art on display of all kinds, shapes, and sizes, talking with everyone, it’s all a fabulous and peaceful way to end a day along the coast. Even if you don’t buy a thing, still get out there and check out all the beauty on display, and don't forget to look up at that moon, lighting and guiding your way through our amazing world. ~
*[Part of: Bean’s Baking Series]
Alright… It’s that time of year my dear friends! Time to get your baking on!
We spent this past lovely and very festive weekend baking away in our tiny little and very basic kitchen. It was fabulous! No stores, no shopping, no errands… well, yes, we did run a couple errands. But, in my dreams, we didn’t.
We just baked and frosted. Sugar cookies! How can the holiday season come and go without homemade cookies being brought to life in your oven? It can’t.
Here’s what we did. It’s simple. It just requires a bit of patience. After all, nothing sweet and precious can be rushed into existence. And no mixer needed. Made all by hand. With love…
And, as a bonus for those watching their calories, making the dough by hand and not using a stand mixer burns lots and lots of calories. As the dough slowly thickens, you have to work harder and harder to perfect the dough’s consistency. We just won’t talk about how many calories are in the cookies themselves… I heard Santa doesn’t mind, so we won’t either.
We allowed the full weekend to bake and frost, making no other commitments outside the home. No Deck The Chairs, no Christmas tree, wreath, or holly shopping, and no Nights of Lights. No to anything and everything - besides food and drink. We’ve done this every year since 2017, and this third year has really solidified it as a nice and peaceful little tradition during the holiday season.
We schedule the baking for a few weeks after the season has officially started and all the holiday activities are well underway, but before the actual holiday. It’s become a nice way to decompress, and stop everything for even just a little bit of time, during a very busy time. By stopping, we are focusing on ourselves, on family. On our baby Sheltie, who did an excellent job keeping the floor clean. On moments. And not rushing during those moments.
So we made the dough and baked all the 75 cookies on Saturday. And we spent many hours frosting and sprinkling on Sunday. All of this can definitely be done in one day, though, if you need or want. You will just need to make sure you allow a few hours to let the dough cool in the fridge once mixed though, as I mention in the instructions, or it will throw a fit and be too sticky and messy to work with. Give the dough the nap it needs before waking it up to go play!
So, get to that grocery store.
Buy your ingredients.
Dust off your copy of White Christmas on DVD. Or put some tunes on the iPad.
Note: We found two piping tubes at the local Dollar Tree. They obviously were not very high quality, and when I tried to squeeze the frosting through it ripped fairly quickly. But it did its job for a bit then we moved onto the second tube we had purchased just in case. Next year I’m thinking of getting actual squeeze bottles from Michaels or Hobby Lobby that are sold in their baking aisle - just a few more dollars a piece but probably well worth it for the hassle and mess of the squeeze bag.
Make one bowl each of white (no coloring added) frosting, green frosting, red frosting, and blue frosting by putting lots of powdered sugar in each bowl and slowly adding in a bit of water, and drops of food coloring, at a time.
To make the border frosting you can keep the white frosting a thicker, gel-like consistency - just add liquid very slowly and in tiny bits at a time. Aim for a thicker frosting and stop adding water once you like the consistency, or if it becomes to runny just add more powdered sugar. You can then spoon this frosting into the piping bag and can shape all the borders of your cookies with it. One of the goals of the border is to prevent the frosting from rolling off the edge, which gives the frosted cookie a neat and clean looking appearance. Obviously, mine didn’t meet that goal - I just know I need more practice. I did have the right consistency for the most part. And you can get as creative as you want with the border by adding details, such as eyes onto snowmen, or hats, or clothes, or garland on a tree, stripes on a candy cane, etc.
To make the flood frosting the colors can be just a tad more liquidy by just adding a tiny bit more water to the consistency in the bowl. The colored bowls of frosting will be used to fill in the middle of your bordered cookie tops - to flood all the gaps made with the border.
Make separate bowls of frosting per colors you choose
-Makes approximately 75 cookies (depending on the size of the cookie cutters you use.
Share & Enjoy!
We had sooo much fun doing this activity! Our cookies turned out pretty messy, but it was our first time using piping bags, and I hope to improve on that skill next year.
During this busy and fun and exciting time of year, stop what you’re doing for one weekend. Commit to nothing outside the home. Say no to all events and ticketed functions. Turn on some holiday tunes, or a holiday classic on the tv, light the yule log, and get baking… It’s good for the soul. And remember, looks don’t matter… it’s what’s on the inside that counts. ~
What a most lovely of lovely and long, holiday weekends. Everywhere we went, everything we did, everything we saw, was surrounded by the feeling of Christmas in the air. And while I am one who does not partake in the Black Friday festivities that so many Amerian’s do count as part of their holiday traditions - because, as one of my friends posted on her Facebook that day with what I deem to be the utmost accurate declaration ever regarding the day that is so very Black:
“It’s too PEOPLY out there!”
In fact, besides the accuracy of that comment, it also might have been the funniest thing I read in a very long time.
My concurrence with that statement led me to be busy doing many other fun and festive things - instead of shopping.
Black Friday came and went for us, without purchase of any material goods. A most wise decision if I do say so myself. I have no interest in waiting in long lines for something that I can purchase any other day of the year, without such a line. Free snow globe included? No thank you; not worth it.
Instead - we went to Jimmy Johns.
How simple and basic and quite boring of an outing indeed. And boring was just what we were looking for. I decided that any store that would most likely have the biggest crowds and the most ridiculous lines would be all the ones we would skip… And that most restaurants would also most likely be quite busy - due to needing to feed food to hungry shoppers - so those would all be the restaurants we would skip as well. That eliminated basically everywhere on the face of the planet from my list… Where would be open - but completely and utterly EMPTY???
And guess what? I was right.
We drove our car into the parking lot. Not a car around. We walked in. We were their only customers. It was fabulous. We ate at the window counter, bar style seating, as we always do. I’m a regular there. And we watched the traffic go on by up and down Beach Boulevard. Slowly. Yes, it was crowded out there, even in our flat and sandy and salty little corner of the world.
But not so at Jimmy’s place.
In fact, it was so slow inside Jimmy Johns, as we listened to tunes blaring from their speaker with today’s best hits - i.e. music of this very own decade we are currently living in. I mention this because almost everywhere else plays music from the 80’s? Why? Universe… why?
Yes, it was so slow the staff member said something along the lines of, I knew it was going to be slow today, but jeazzzz…. I never imagined it being this slow.
Yes, we picked the most perfect place to eat a sandwich in the entire United States of America on Black Friday. I tended to be of the opinion that not many American’s have an interest in lining up outside the front doors of a sandwich shop at four in the morning, fighting to get in when the doors are opened, just to buy some deli meat?
My opinion tended to be correct, at least from where we sat. No, they were out buying expensive and fancy and enormous TVs, and iPads, and clothing, and more clothing, and appliances, and more appliances. Everything I didn’t feel like waiting in a line for on this Black day.
Yes, we made a great decision. It was a simple and pleasant and peaceful outing. Next time you’re looking for a quick - and healthy - lunch on Black Friday, stop in Jimmy Johns, and avoid the crowded everywhere else of this world.
Right next door to Jimmy Johns and across the small and narrow street, I could see from the window we were watching the world go by from… Is a place called Rockaway. A greenhouse.. A garden center... A Christmas tree lot.
We go to Jimmy John’s a lot. We see Rockaway a lot, sitting from the window of the sandwich shop. I had never ventured over there to date however.
But that blackest of clear blue sky days was different from any other. Something told me that day was the day to visit.
I tend to think my nose told me it was time.
We witnessed car after car pulling up and loading one live tree after another onto the roofs of their vehicles. I had always wanted to venture over there and check it out. They were busy, yes, but they were not busy at all compared to the big box stores everywhere else in the nation.
We finished our simple lunch and walked across the street to the greenhouse.
Instantly! - I smelled Christmas!
If you’ve never smelled yourself some Christmas before, I highly recommend finding some, and put it up to your nose, and smell it.
I could smell the scent of pine and balsam and fraser fir from the road. And the scent only intensified as we got closer and walked into the garden, feet on top of gravel, dirt, and pebbles.
I was in a dream. I had found a slice of heaven. I wanted to bottle it all up, take it home, and keep it forever. Never out of my sight - or away from my nose - again.
We walked through the entire greenhouse and its property. It’s quite a large place! From the exterior, it appears that Rockaway is just a small, single story red farmhouse. A small house, with a vast plot of land surrounding it, all surrounded with various greenery for sale.
But once you traverse inside its quarters, it’s quite larger than its tiny exterior makes it out to be.
I was immediately met with rows and rows of flowers of all kinds. Grasses of all kinds. Greenery of all kinds. Ceramic pots and wall trinkets and other such decor for sale intermixed.
But I went there for the Christmas. So the Christmas I was going to find.
Never fear, my nose led the way.
My nose led me to the far back area of the greenhouse. You know, it’s just like when you need a dozen eggs or gallon of milk or tub of chocolate ice cream from the grocer… The simplest and most basic and most necessary of items needed at the time, they always put in the back of the store.
Silly us, they think we don’t know what they’re doing… It’s all strategic? In order to get to that gallon of milk, that dozen eggs, those tubs of chocolatey and icy goodness, we all have to traverse past every other item in the store first in order to find our basic essentials in life.
To get to all the good stuff, you have to pass up anything else that might tempt your eyes. Ohh, I need that bag of chips. I really could use a loaf of bread… since I’m here. Are we out of juice at home? We better grab some bananas... while we’re at it. And toilet paper. We can’t forget that, heaven forbid.
Yes, it’s Black Friday every day at the grocer. They always know how to make a sale. Have you ever seen anyone leave a grocer empty-handed? Certainly not in my lifetime?! Just put that toilet paper display out prominently on the end cap, where it can’t be missed, slap a yellow sign over it referencing something along the lines of a sale… or even better… 12 = 36… ???... and we’re gold. Jack Pot.
Hence again, why would I ever shop on Black Friday? When I’m buying all that bread and all those eggs and all those tubs of ice cream, and carts loaded FULL of rolls upon rolls of toilet paper, on sale, every other day of the year, anyway?
So my nose led me all the way to the back of the greenhouse. I was met with the most intense fragrance of Christmas. It was naturally the most fragrant standing amongst all the various trees for sale. And I never wanted to leave.
Maybe my husband would have to drag me out of there kicking and screaming all the way?
Ha - maybe I am ready for Black Friday… Fighting for a chance - screaming to be the one. Can I stay here forever? And never part with the dreamy aroma surrounding me. Can I win the prize? Where are all the doorbusters? I’m NOT going home.
We checked out all the trees. Standing there, I immediately imagined myself in Michigan. Years and years ago. Happy memories; very happy memories. I was quite young, so the memories are somewhat fuzzy. But there I stood; on a Christmas tree farm. With all the family - moms and dads, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc. We took a hay ride (don’t remember if pulled by horse, but my dreams say yes, there were horses present). The ride took us out onto the farm, to pick out our very own living tree. It was beautiful. It was farm country. It was quiet. It was peaceful. Nature everywhere. It was the best day. It was Pure Michigan.
Looking back, I’m so grateful for my family. All the things we did growing up. All those memories. It doesn’t matter if I can’t remember if it was horses who dragged me out to the tree farm or not. Maybe a tractor was pulling us? Either way, I know I was there. I know I was with my entire family. I am grateful for the time we all spent together. I am grateful for that outing. A lovely outing, that I can remember all these years later. I’m grateful that they, as adults, spent their time, with us, very young children. So that we could have these memories, as adults, today.
I’m grateful and thankful… So much so that as I stood in a small red farmhouse barn, far removed from the farm country of Michigan, three blocks from the Atlantic Ocean, in sunny and hot coastal Florida, on San Pablo Island, in Jacksonville Beach, kiddy corner from Jimmy John’s and opposite the local Publix, living a completely different life, and after meeting God himself, on Black Friday, in Rockaway Gardens... roughly thirty years after that family Christmas tree outing, standing there within and amongst that dreamy scent of Christmas… which evoked such happy memories of my Christmas’s past.
Only because of that past am I standing right there, right then.
Only because of that past, am I capable of smelling Christmas in the air, right there, right then, and with that scent also evoke all those happy memories.
We toured the entire greenhouse, inside, and out. We saw various styles of holiday wreaths and swags. The swags are my favorite. Oh wait, scratch that. The wreaths shaped into candy canes are my favorite. Oh wait…
I can’t make up my mind.
If it’s green, smells of pine, balsam, fir, is reminiscent of Christmas - that one is my favorite.
What did you say? You asked if I particularly like the Hallmark Channel this time of year? Yes, I’m a fan. We still don’t have cable, or streaming, though. I can dream.
We turned a corner and were met face to face with an entire room of poinsettias. Just poinsettias. All looking very poinsettia-like. White and red. And one type I never before saw in my entire life. A white, red, and pinkish, mixed and beautifully blended color poinsettia.
I love that one the most.
I thought of my grandma right then, in that room.
Every Christmas she was alive and I knew her, she always gave everyone a poinsettia. I was given one when I still lived at home with my family growing up. I put it on my dresser in my bedroom.
I got married, and hubby and I were given a poinsettia each Christmas. We were also given more poinsettias to pass on to others for her.
She’s been gone for some years now already. Time does fly. But I can’t see a poinsettia, without seeing Grandma.
Moving on, there was an entire area of succulents. Orange trees. Lime trees. Palms. Etc. If it was alive and growing, and taking our carbon dioxide away from our lungs, it was at Rockaway.
And since we were in Florida. And since it was hot outside. Most all of these beauties were all just sitting there soaking in the outdoor sun. Some in the actual greenhouse, some under netting. But mostly, I toured and browsed and strolled through a beautiful outdoor piece of winding garden property; a garden much larger than I expected. After thirty some years of Christmas’s up in the Chicago area, my brain still has a difficult time grasping and understanding the concept that I am still outside, wearing flip flops, shorts and tank, big sunglasses, hot and sweaty, and it’s Christmas time? Where’s the snow?!
I’m not complaining though.
We were nearing the end of our tour. Our informal browsing. We came upon tables set for an upcoming event. I wondered what was going on? There were drink cups out. Many. They were expecting lots of people. At some point in the very near future? Table clothes spread and draped over the tables. Something was happening? I looked up. At the clear blue sky. At the bright and blinding hot sun. I saw the dark evergreen cloud in the sky from the corner of my eye…. Wait. There were no dark green clouds on such a clear blue sky day. My fuzzy vision faded in and out from the bright sun laser-beaming into my eyes.
I was looking up at a large Christmas tree - on the rooftop! Yes, they put a tree up on the roof. I could tell it had lights strung all about it. My memory snapped to attention. I knew what was going on! They were setting up for a party. Rockaway has their own tree lighting, each year… a tree, up on the roof!
Oh rats! We went there during the day! Not at night. We could always come back that evening to see the festivities. Oh wait. Maybe it would be too peoply out there. It was still Black Friday after all. I wasn’t supposed to be out shopping today. I was just out to grab a number sixteen with no mayo and a cup of unsweetened iced tea at Jimmy Johns...
I lost 86 pounds eating that exact sandwich - roughly once a week. It was my weekly “carb” treat. No I did not do a carb-restricted diet to lose the weight. I ate everything, in moderation. But I do tend to consider white bread a treat, so I only ate it about once a week. And somehow throughout my weight loss journey that has since turned into weight maintenance, I started going to Jimmy John’s once a week... You could say my nose led me there. Not out of routine, not out of desperation or a feeling as if because I lost the weight eating Jimmy’s sandwiches then I must keep doing it to keep the weight off? Not that at all. I just like it. That’s all. Someday I might tire of good ol’ Jimmy, but not yet. To be fair, it is kind of hard to tire of fresh white dough raised into fresh white perfect bread.
So yeah, we were out for lunch. We were NOT out to witness a tree lighting. Box shaped stores, or anything else that day. It was the dreamy scent of Christmas that led me to Rockaway. But it was also the thoughts and dreams of my own Christmas which told me to now go home. After all, it was Black Friday. Yes, it definitely was very peoply out there. I’ll go home and put an ol’ Yule Log… on the ol’ You Tube, and trim my own tree.
No, I didn’t buy anything at Rockaway that day. Pennies are tight sometimes. Pennies are watched. I do consider myself a professional shopper and there were many things I wanted to buy there, including swags and candy cane wreaths and poinsettias galore, but I resisted all temptation... I reminded myself that after losing 86 freaking pounds, my wardrobe is still a cluster of nothing that fits me because it was long ago donated to charity, and what remains are only a few quite simple repeating new and fresh outfits that do now fit. I’ll save all the pennies I can for new clothes. 86 pounds of work reminded me I’d rather buy clothes that last a long longer and will come in very handy for me, than a piece of clipped greenery that will surely die by season’s end.
So all purchasing temptations were managed! ‘Tis a rare day indeed for such a pro of a shopper!
But I didn’t leave Rockaway empty-handed. No. The scent of Christmas came home with me. It was all over my hands, inside my very light and empty and missing shopping bags, steamed into my wild hair, and mostly, it was in my nose. In fact, the scent was so strong, I still smelled it on me and on all those new clothes that I had been wearing, later that evening when I got ready for bed.
Yes, it’s very important to surround oneself with such a magnificent and dreamy scent.
Don’t let this beautiful and festive and happy and difficult and challenging and magical season go by without smelling some Christmas into your nose. Don’t waste a moment to catch a breath of fresh pine-scented air. Whether you are standing on a vast and beautiful and picturesque farm up in Michigan cutting down a green tree for your living room, or standing on a coastal barrier island in the south while eating a number sixteen with no mayo… be sure to breathe it all in. Remember all the good times and all the good people in your life that come into your brain when you inhale that special aroma. Then - bottle it up, keep it forever, store it somewhere special where you keep all your treasures, and never remember where you put it. ~
11/29/2019 0 Comments
At the beginning of every January I write a list of goals for the upcoming year. I don’t classify them as resolutions… I tend to dislike the term. There’s something about the word ‘resolve’ that’s so formal and ‘contract-binding’ like. “We hereby resolve to…” It’s as if you didn’t solve the resolve that you have failed? The contract and agreement you made with yourself was a disappointment, a let-down. You then become further discouraged. And you then give up on the whole idea that sparked the resolution in the first place.
So I like to use the word ‘goal’ better. A goal is less formal. And reaching that goal then becomes a little less formal too; giving you more leeway as to how to get there, and when to accomplish said goal. It becomes about the doing, and less about the deadline, due date, and resolution itself. Just do - don’t resolve to do.
So yeah, I write down goals for the year, each year in January. And it doesn't have to be January 1 - it can still be December, it can be mid January. But roughly around that time of year, I plot out some goals for the upcoming year. I write it all down on actual paper...wood from a tree. Not in my iPhone - but on paper.
Did you know that the act of handwriting your goal instead of merely typing it out produces inside of you a whopping 40% higher chance of accomplishing that goal? Who said paper is dead? Right? Get a journal. It can be a cheapo one, a fancy one, a very expensive one…Just get one YOU enjoy looking at every day. Any way, get a journal and start writing down your goals.
Then follow up with those goals.
About half way through the year, roughly June, or somewhere into July, I follow up with the goals I wrote down on paper in January. It’s a reminder and a refresher for my brain. Oh yeah! I forgot about that one! Oooh… wahoo, I did that one! Or, oh yeah, that one’s still coming up!
Pete’s Bar was one of those such goals. One coming up. One I had to wait all year for. It was the act of attending a Thanksgiving morning party that could not be achieved or solved on January 1.
Thanksgiving 2019, I finally accomplished that bucket list of a goal. And it was such a good time that it goes without me even having to tell my brain I already know this is going to be a new tradition - an obvious must-do for next year.
In 2017, just after moving down here from Illinois, I found out about the Pete’s Bar tradition. I intended to go that year.
And it was that year in 2017 we had a Florida rainstorm of rainstorms early Thanksgiving morning. We did our turkey trot, and ran straight to the car. It was a summer rainstorm, in November. It might as well have been a hurricane. It was quite a rain. And we skipped Pete’s Bar entirely that year so hubby and I so we could reach dryer grounds. After all, we had been standing on pavement that had inches of water sitting on it, and cold and soaking wet gym shoes and feet, from doing our turkey trot in a flood.
In 2018. we had driven up to Illinois to celebrate Thanksgiving with the family. But that meant yet again, Pete’s Bar was missed by us. And knowing even more about the tradition last year, I told myself - next year, for sure!
So then 2019 came along. January was here, and I wrote down my goals for the year. I tend to think broadly and brainstorm broadly. It allows for more creativity and flexibility in all my goals that I aim for.
I put down some really fabulous ideas… like starting my Etsy Shop, making my first and very own set of business cards, creating a few wave paintings, attend some more painting workshops, etc. And really a whole page in my journal of purely business goals. I have accomplished ALL. OF. IT. Not one thing left undone for 2019 for Christine’s Floridian Dreams’ small business venture. So I continue working onward.
My personal goals are quite different. They are more detailed. Specific books I wanted to read this year, restaurants I wanted to try, towns I wanted to visit. Maybe a specific ice cream shop to try or a new coffee shop I want to visit.
And my list is long. Very long. And that’s ok! I write down so many varied and quite unique goals for myself that I know I might not accomplish them all. And that’s ok too! That goes back to GOALS - not resolutions.
We all know that the gym is alive and well, breathing, and packed on January 1. Every year. And we all know that by the end of that very month, and onward into February, gym attendance rates drop significantly. Every year. Without fail. People RESOLVE to hit the gym on January 1. And by February they are discouraged and give up.
I tend to think they give up because they only thought BIG on January 1. And they forgot to think SMALL as well.
It’s those small and incremental changes that work best in life.
Don't start BIG on January 1!
Start small… And start today.
Why not start today? Why not start on November 29. Who said you can’t? Who said you have to wait until January to change your life? If you think of something you want to do, just go ahead and do it, now - get started - now!
My goals are broad, and many. I don’t mind one bit that I don’t accomplish all of my goals. I pick and choose the ones that inspire me at the time. I pick the ones that make the most sense to me throughout that year and at that moment. I pick the ones that speak back to me. It’s God’s hand in my goal-setting and it’s God’s hand in my action-taking. Only through what he tells me do I know what I’m going to do next. He leads me.
Well, fate and the Lord above, did lead me to Pete’s Bar on Thanksgiving morning of 2019.
So this weekend finally arrived, and watching on the news all the absolute crazy winter storms raging all across the country and stranding travelers everywhere, made me relieved and filled with great and deep gratitude that we did not attempt to make the drive up to Illinois.
Finally, and after two years of missing it, I wasn’t about to let Thanksgiving 2019 head out the door, before I walked in the door - of Pete’s Bar. And I did just that.
It was the BEST DAY EVER. As I've told my family and friends and the internet world and social media. So thank you Pete’s Bar, for a fabulous community gathering like nothing I’ve ever seen.
No, not all resolutions, goals, dreams and aspirations, are fulfilled on January 1. Some are resolved or completed on that holiday Thursday of November that comes round each year. And that’s A O K.
If you think small, and detailed,, instead of resolving big and broad, you are goal-aiming. Your aspiring. You’re ON THE WAY to getting to where you want to be. You’re deep in the knitty gritty. You. Are. Working. The journey counts too.
If I was in purely resolution-mode, instead of goal-mode, when I didn’t reach one of my first resolutions in January, it would have started a downward decline of potentially giving up on my next resolutions. Failure-mode. If one is in failure-mode, it’s that much harder to get where you want to be. It might have led to a completely different year. It may have been more negative than positive. Instead, I live each day in the positive, no matter what happens. No matter what is going on, today is a great day!
So go into it all thinking positive. Thinking about the journey. Thinking about flexibility. And thinking each day is a new beginning. SO WHAT!... If you didn’t reach your five pound per month weight loss goal last month. Nobody says that means you have to stop altogether. Maybe you lost 4 pounds instead of five. Maybe you lost one pound. Guess what? You’re still one pound lighter for it. You’re still on the journey.
Maybe you gained weight instead of losing? Gasppp… Guess what?... So what! Suck it up - and keep going. Then, GASP again, because of all that breathing and movement you are continuing to do.
***The only difference between those you don’t reach their goals, and those who do, is that fact that achievers just don’t give up! Period. They just keep going. So, just keep going! So what if it takes a month longer. So what if you gained weight and want to lose a huge chunk of it. In failure mode, you’ve already given up. In goal mode, you keep going, no matter what. Eventually, because you are not giving up, you will get there.
Well, what if it takes you eight more months to lose the weight? What if you wanted the weight loss done by six months, or a year? If, five years from now, the weight is lost, and you are on your way to doing other new and exciting things… are you really going to care that today, all those years back in the past, that it took you eighteen months to lose the weight, instead of twelve months? Or if the weight loss took three years of the next five? So what? Who cares? Five years from now the weight is off and you are living a different life and you are grateful for the time it took, because the TIME is what made you into who you are five years from now!
Don’t hate on time. Don’t complain about time. Use time - to your advantage.
Pete’s Bar was a different kind of goal to have. It was one that had to take place on Thanksgiving for me. It wasn’t one I could do during the year. Well, actually, I could walk in Pete’s and visit there, yes, any time. But it was the act of attending ‘Pete’s Bar Thanksgiving Morning Gathering’ that I officially wanted to accomplish.
So yeah, this year I did do just that. I pursued all my other goals every other day of the year, browsing and picking and choosing which ones I wanted to work on. Then when Thanksgiving came up to the calendar, I told myself, yes, we’re doing it. No matter what.
And that’s exactly what we did. We raced our turkey trot. And went over to Pete’s.
The tradition is this: Pete’s is the place to be at the beach on Thanksgiving morning.
And there’s nowhere else I would have wanted to be!
And it ended up being goal-day all around.
I raced the 3.1 mile Tony’s Turkey Trot. Without training and without any prep workreally. My body is now resilient enough to handle the task. That’s something a few years ago would have NEVER worked for me. Hence why it was a great goal accomplished that I merely even went out there and winged it.
And then, I took a fall during the race, got back up, and kept going. I tell you this because, a fall such as this one, in the past, is something that would have been devastating to me. It would have destroyed me. It would have turned the dial on me into failure-mode… Leading to further failures.
Yes, this Thanksgiving I took a hard, and quite ridiculous fall onto the pavement. And only about a quarter mile into the race. I tripped on one of those huge yellow reflective strips in the middle of the road. It was sticking out of the ground about an inch. It stopped me dead. I fell forward from my momentum and to my left side, pushed my arms out to catch myself. Landing on the glass screen of my Apple Watch of my left arm, my phone and right hand of my other arm sliding and burning onto payment, My left knee hit the road hard and slid and burned my skin from from the scraping as I skidded. And my left shoulder and neck area took the brunt of the fall slamming the pavement with more bruises from that.
The fall felt like it took ten minutes. I might as well have been tumbling down the road for a mile. Life went in slow motion. Just like in a movie. I couldn’t stop and couldn’t believe what was happening to me. It was surreal, and a strange feeling. I lost all control, and down I went.
I haven’t hit the payment that hard in an athletic event or workout in years upon years. I have fallen so many times in the ancient past, have already had many bruised knees, that the scabbed up and burned left knee I have today from yesterday is merely a fresh coat of paint added onto layers and layers of art from endurance activity of the past.
But you wanna know what? The fall did NOT last ten minutes. It lasted maybe a second. And as soon as I was face down on the ground people came by and literally picked me up off the road floor! It all happened faster than I could even believe. And then I just kept running! The very next breath and the very next thing I did was JUST KEEP GOING.
I knew I was gonna hurt later. I knew I was hurt right then. But I also knew I didn’t break anything either. And I felt that in that moment as I stood up that I was FINALLY resilient enough to withstand the fall that just happened - hitting the pavement, bruises and blood and all. It was because of the past, all the hard work throughout the recent years, all the resiliency I built up, that led me to having the ability to stand up straight, continue onward, finish the race, and head on down to Pete’s Bar. Ahead right toward a goal I set in January, and meet it with confidence in November.
That’s why you KEEP GOING. Because, all those days of movement, all those days when it’s tough, you don’t feel like it, but you do it anyway, even if it's the tiniest action ever, you just keep going. And one day, when you really need it, your body will be strong enough to withstand the pain. The incident. The accident. The heartache. The sadness. Whatever it is that hurts you in that moment. You will be able to bounce back from with a resiliency that you never knew you had. And it will be utilized right then and there, 100% when you need it the most - which is the most important thing to know.
And the kindest of kind thank you’s all around to the people who stopped their Thanksgiving Turkey Trot goals themselves, to help me get off the ground. When you feel it’s time to lose faith in all of humanity, all the chaos of the world, don’t.
Be that person who stops, for even a second, to help someone else. I honestly didn’t expect to be picked up. In the long ten minute twenty four hour one second that my face was eye to eye with the hard and black roads of Atlantic Beach, I thought how can I possibly pick myself up?! But faster than I could even complete that thought bubble, I had been picked up by others! So beyond my resiliency, it was other humans who helped me initially.
We are a team, world.
And thank you, from a fellow teammate, for helping me out on Thanksgiving morning.
Because you helped me carry on, that act helped me finish my race. And go on to continue to have the best day ever.
After my race was over, they ran out of water! And with still tons of people coming in to the finish, and another one mile fun run to go, that wasn’t good news for lots of people who needed a drink. That usually doesn’t happen at the countless running events I’ve participated in during my life. And not even counting my fall as bad, it was the lack of water that was the only real bad thing that happened that day. But I’m assuming they already learned their mistake and will be recalculating their water purchase for next year. Luckily, living in Florida heat, we don’t go anywhere without water in our car. So we walked back to the car to grab my water bottle, I chugged it down. And then we headed back on out to the party I had patiently waited all year for.
It was the only race I’ve ever been to where people weren’t filing out to their cars afterward to get on back home quickly to cook their Thanksgiving meal. More people were coming in. By the time we left the party, there were more cars on the streets of Neptune Beach that even the 4th of July. And the 4th tends to be the biggest event in town, or so I thought.
I’ve never been to a party like this one. And yes, it really was the best day ever.
It reminded me of college spring break in New Orleans. LOL. It reminded me of Key West. It reminded me of VACATION. It reminded me of the best of the best and most fun memories of my life. It reminded me why I’m so very glad I call the beach my home.
Thank you to Pete’s Bar for literally throwing the event of the year, here at The Beaches.
We purchased two drinks from one of the street tents. Made with champagne and orange juice, and champagne with cranberry juice. I told hubby to order two… not just so he could drink them both, but so we could both stand in front of Pete’s Bar sign, and take a selfie holding our drinks. Mission Accomplished. I am that dork, yes.
And yes, we were photo-bombed. It officially ranks as my best photo-bomb to date.
And then we went in Pete’s. It was awesome. No other word for it. And it was just as they all said it would be.
There were literally rows and rows of premade Bloody Mary’s and such. Get on up to the bar, take your drinks, and pay, fast. They had countless people coming in and out. All leaving to go stand in the street with drinks in their hands, going to talk and drink in front of Pete’s. There were pool tables set up with mixers and garnishes on top. There was another table covered with funny tee shirts and hats for sale. An embroidered turkey holding a Bloody Mary hat. We bought two at $15.00 a piece. They will get used.
We left Pete’s so we could let the countless others waiting in line to come in and get their Thanksgiving morning cocktails. We stood outside. We walked all around. The weather was perfect. It was quite a holiday morning indeed.
We walked up and down the entire barricaded-off streets. No cars needed or wanted in Beaches Town Center this festive Thanksgiving morning. More people kept coming.
I then heard the strangest screeching sound. First, I thought someone was just having a little too much fun… you know, from all the Bloody Mary’s, Mimosa’s, beer, and countless bottles of champagne sitting in buckets of ice under tents, tended to by the local area businesses.
But then I heard the screech again. Much louder, and much closer to me. I had to stop and look around. What was that strangest of strange sounds?
It was a parrot. Two actually.
And meeting my new parrot friends and holding a parrot for the first time in my life, was another reason all kinds of life goals were achieved Thanksgiving morning of 2019. It wasn't’ the turkey trot, the 5k distance, the act of falling onto pavement, the getting back up and trying once again, not all of that. Been there done that. It was holding a parrot for the first time ever, that really sealed the deal. Yes, it was the best day ever.
The man tending to the parrots told me to just hold my arm out. That he won’t bite me. That I shouldn’t be scared. How could I be scared? The person in front of me was a mere small child holding the parrot, if she could do it, I could do it! The blue one came gently onto my forearm. He slowly inched his way up my arm.
He kept getting closer.
Hello, he said.
Hello! I said to him.
The parrot keeper said this parrot I was holding was 37 years old! I was in shock at that age for a bird, knowing very little about them. I said, oh hello again, I’m 38 years old!
He spoke back to me some more. We were conversing on how good we both look for our similar ages. Sadly, I’m not very sure what he was trying to tell me after that point, though, he kept talking. But yes, we bonded. We’re now friends for life. I miss him already. I tend to think he wished me a Happy Thanksgiving.
So moving onward to walk up and down all of Town Center, there was a stage set up by the beach entryway between One Ocean Resort and The Lemon Bar. There were photo booths. There were food trucks serving Atlantic Beach BBQ, and Cuban sandwiches. And walking beyond all the tents of various alcohol for sale, Southern Grounds was open for business! Southern Grounds is one of my favorite places on this earth. And to see them open on this holiday made my day even that much better.
The Courtyard was packed! There was a singer and guitar player there as well. We walked in and waited in line for coffee. I’ve been there countless times. It was definitely this busiest I’ve ever seen Southern Grounds. The line for coffees and various tempting pastries was wrapped around the store and to the door. Thank you for being open on Thanksgiving and serving fabulous coffee drinks to the post turkey trot racers and the local community.
We sat outside there for a while with our coffees, enjoying the live music.
We walked to the end of the street, by the Bookmark. And leaned by the Neptune Beach police cruisers who help make this friendly and casual street party possible. We stood there and looked down the street and took it all in. We said, THIS is a new tradition.
And it was at that moment, late into the morning, the sun high in the sky, that a thought came through my head. I realized that had I been home right now, I would have been tending to my turkey by this point. It was then at that exact moment yet another thought bubble popped above my head. Yes, there I stood at the far end of the block party, watching all the fun, the easily thousands of people, thinking it was the best day ever; and my thought bubble informed me that my turkey was still sitting patiently in our freezer.
Ha. I finally did it. I am 38 years old after all. I had forgotten to defrost our turkey this year! That never happened to me before. It was bound to happen; after all, I am as old as a blue and yellow parrot.
It was either my old-age, or maybe I could attribute that act of forgetting about my turkey to all those above-mentioned goals that I’ve been working on. But, never fear, when we got home we put our turkey in a sink of hot water... That helped do the trick. Two big thumbs up to us.
We hung out on the street some more and laughed. When it was time for us to leave, We walked back through the crowds, sipping our coffee, taking it all in, saying goodbye to Pete’s Bar. I will definitely be back. I texted my family and said they really should be considering spending Thanksgiving in the South with us next year. It was the day of days. And we hadn’t even cooked yet. I still had tons of good food to look forward to! Yeah, it really was the best day ever.
Now, it’s your turn to have your best day ever. Stop resolving. Stop waiting. Stop being patient for January 1 to come rolling on by. January 1 is NOT your start date. TODAY is your start date. Whatever it is you are wanting. Whatever you are dreaming up inside your head. Whatever throughout bubble forms in the clouds in the sky above your brain. Stop waiting. And start doing. Listen to those bubbles. They may be delicate but they tend to be the thoughts that shine the most.
And when you fall, and you fall hard, let others pick you up if need be. Know that you will fall at some point. It’s guaranteed actually. Because you cannot achieve without failure.
There is always darkness before the dawn. So accept your fall on the hard ground for what it is. A moment. Get up once again. Let others help. Dust yourself off. And keep going. Cause no matter what day it is, It’s ALWAYS a good day for doing something you’ve always dreamed.
So get started today. Set a goal today.
Get out there and make this day, this very Black and very random of Friday’s, the very best day of your life. ~
11/25/2019 0 Comments
This past weekend kicked off the Grand Opening of Jax Beach’s Deck The Chairs for 2019! Wahoo! My favorite time of the year is officially here.
While Thanksgiving is just around the corner, Christmas can never really come too early for me. Lights and trees, garlands and bows, ribbons and wreaths galore, popping up in every town along the coast… and it's all beyond beautiful to me.
And throughout all of Jacksonville there is an endless list of holiday adventures for both young and old alike, and all are starting right now.
We have Jacksonville’s Light Boat Parade, the San Marco Festival of Lights, Zoo Lights, lots of turkey trots, and Santa and reindeer runs aplenty. We also have St. Augustine’s 26th Annual Nights Of Lights which began this weekend as well; and it runs all the way through February 2, 2020! And of course much, much more. There’s way too much to ever take it all in - inside of one holiday season alone.
That’s why I’ll try to aim to attend at least roughly one or two new things each Christmas, and I then have some must-do holiday traditions as well. And Jax Beach’s Deck The Chairs is one of those such traditions.
It’s my HOLIDAY MUST DO.
It’s my CAN’T MISS.
And I think most other folks in town feel the same way. Besides all of our local area town tree lightings, if you live in Jax Beach, or close by in one of the other area island communities, Deck The Chairs is THE event of the season… here at the beach.
The iconic symbol of our town - the lifeguard chair - utilized all throughout the year by our brave and all-volunteer lifeguards, are brought over to Seawalk Pavilion by more volunteers, and set into perfect and matching rows in the center of town square. The chairs become uniformed soldiers… just as in March of the Wooden Soldiers - only stationary - no marching needed or wanted.
All of those brightly painted orange and quite distinct and uniform chairs then become completely un-uniform and sculpted to holiday-themed perfection, by even more volunteers. A local area business or organization each sponsors a chair and decorates it to their heart's content. I LOVE the uniqueness each chair takes on. And it’s that uniqueness that excites me annually to witness the many differences from one year to the next, one chair to the next.
While the dancing and classic tree is the same, and now iconic to Deck The Chairs in its own way, the little white church is always there front and center too. And children love getting their pictures taken in front of the dollhouse style church, ringing the loud bell... a line begins to form its so very popular. And while that church and tree are always there... lots of the other chairs change decor each year. So it becomes very fun and surprising to see what everyone’s imaginations come up with.
As an artist who paints every day, I can’t help but think I would have quite a lot of fun decking out a chair myself. Each year I go to the event, I contemplate about how I would come up with a theme and design???
Paint onto canvas = holiday decor onto orange chair!
And this year, it is my opinion that Deck The Chairs brought their A Game to The Beach. I’ve attended 2017 and 2018’s events, and this year by far was the most impressive. They’ve definitely stepped it up a notch or two, and I believe we need to give credit where credit is due. The sponsors and volunteers make this event possible, and you could see the dedication toward community spirit in this year’s chairs.
In both previous year’s attendance of the event I saw some plain chairs and chairs with just a sign of sponsor, and lots of lights not working or even connected. I remember last year a whole section was completely unplugged for a very long time so my hubby tried to plug it in and fix it. But this year, each chair was super! Each chair has a theme, and a theme dedicated to their cause.
K9 Warriors has dogs pulling Santa’s sleigh into the sky. A car wash sponsor has bubbles squirting out, and a toy car being soaped up in the wash under the chair... So adorable. “DUUUVAL” is loudly and proudly out on display by our very own Jaguars. And ‘Beaches Go Green’ has a massive octopus made entirely out of plastic waste from the ocean.
In fact, Beaches Go Green was in a league all their own this year. I would guesstimate their massive display took about one quarter of the town square’s entire display space. In coordination with local area schools, they presented an informative walk-through experience, utilizing all recycled materials or garbage re-purposed as art and holiday decor. While also bringing awareness to how all that trash affects the coastal communities and creatures who inhabit them; it was very educational for the public too.
They had displays and posters made entirely of bottle caps, egg cartons, tooth brushes, and seemingly countless single-use plastic water bottles. And the classic jellyfish was back and still alive… thank goodness! The jellyfish is always my favorite part of Deck The Chairs and is also made entirely of trash and repurposed materials. Thank you to Beaches Go Green for the time and dedication it must have taken to put on such a splendid display.
Auntie Anne's Food Truck was selling very tempting food and drink - meaning lots of sugars and carbohydrates. Volunteers in the main event tent were selling hot chocolate and cotton candy, tees and candy canes, and the year’s traditional DTC ornament.
They had a fabulous holiday soundtrack playing on speaker throughout the entire plaza. And when *NSYNC started singing “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” I was beyond thrilled. Thank you from this nineties teen for adding some good ol’ Justin Timberlake and *NSYNC’s Best Song Ever to your beautiful and festive holiday music lineup.
It was lovely and impressive to see small children running up to the volunteer table by the donation box, and to witness a small child happily donate a dollar bill, etc. to the cause, and then run back to their waiting parents. It is by these most simple of acts that we teach future and up and coming generations to keep community traditions alive, and instill values of sharing and giving in our future adults.
I purchased the 2019 Deck The Chairs ornament for $10.00, plus three candy candles for a dollar for the hubby. I was glad to take home a reminder of this lovely event to hang on my tree this upcoming holiday weekend. But most of all, I was glad to partake in the event and donate to the event by purchasing. Always remember that EVERY BODY can do something. Some volunteer. Some donate. Some attend and spread cheer. Some put a quarter or some pennies in the donation box. Anything anybody can do to bring the holiday spirit to others and their community is a positive thing all around.
Overall, the mood was festive, and the community spirit was alive and well. It’s a fabulous way to kick off the holidays. Deck The Chairs is a most spectacular community event here at the beach. I’m still excited about it today and my experience there this weekend. If you are local to the Beaches communities, I highly recommend it; come on out through December nightly to see the brightly lit, and coastal, festive fun. And if you are farther away, do find your local town holiday event and attend it with that community pride and giving spirit that we all can spread to others in our own and unique ways.
Be sure to have some festive fun and spread holiday cheer. Say thank you to the volunteers, or volunteer yourself. Put some change or a paper bill in the donation box if you can, maybe in place of a coffee run this week. Buy a pretzel from Auntie Annes and eat those carbs if you must. Cause any way you slice it, those simple actions are the ones that mean the most. They all add up.
Small change equals massive action… and never forget that.
Be that change you wish to see in this our very own and shareable world.
Community starts with you. It starts and ends at each individual person.
and who you are,
and what makes you you inside,
we wouldn’t be whole.
While we all may celebrate many different and amazing holidays, and all believe in different things and come from very different backgrounds, there is one thing that we can all share with each other regardless of it all. It is in those differences that we make a community, and within a community then resides the spirit of giving, sharing, and family, and friendship. So go and get out there and attend your holiday must-do, give smiles and thank you’s all around, sing along to some JT and wish you and yours a “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” - and most importantly, don’t forget to leave some goodies out for Santa while you’re at it. ~
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