Perspective refers to a general attitude or point of view. Most of the opinions we form have been shaped by a belief system, early childhood development, life experiences, and socio-economic position. Along with our DNA, it is what makes us truly unique. Many people live a lifetime without ever validating a perspective beyond their own and others are invigorated by change, education and growth.
Summer has arrived and heat and humidity along with social distancing continue to keep me from my regular summer schedule. In spite of it all, I am finding ways to occupy my time and maintain my energy level. As always, balanced living equals contentment for me, so this was a good week.
This week I read Happy Ever After by Joanne Tracey. I discovered Joanne through my blogging community a couple of years ago. Her highly successful blog, And Always, is witty, entertaining and chock full of my favorite things, including travel posts, recipes and food photos! I don’t know why it took me so long to order one of her books, but now that I have, I’m hooked.
The book is set in Australia and New Zeland and considering Joanne is from Australia, it is a delicious cultural and culinary immersion.
Kate is a fifty-something empty-nester whose thirty-two year marriage has grown stale. She has two beautiful adult children and is married to a good man, but something between them is missing. He feels it too. When her husband sets out to ‘discover himself’ by climbing Mt. Everest, and returns home with ‘I think we need to take some time apart,’ everything changes. This is a story of love, loss, courage and second chances.
Joanne freely admits that she writes stories with happy endings and you will not be disappointed with this one, but be prepared for some twists and turns along the way. The story is relatable on many levels, especially to those of us over fifty, with long-term marriages, disrupted careers and adult children. The author adeptly captures the angst and evolution of a woman struggling to let go, embrace change and become the person she was meant to be.
That should be enough to make you want to read this book, but I feel compelled to mention the food! Kate, like the author, channels her inner Nigella and exposes us to the most delectable feast at every opportunity. You will feel like an invited guest to Ashleigh’s High Tea, Christmas dinner and a host of other family gatherings. Some of the best conversations between the book’s characters happen in the kitchen, over a cup of tea or while sipping a glass of wine. All in all, this book is a thoroughly satisfying read.
Several years ago my book club read The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society and when I saw that it is now a movie on Netflix, of course I had to tune in. If you like historical fiction, set in the WWII era you will love this story.
A few years after the war ends, a journalist visits the Island of Guernsey, with the intention of writing an article about the oddly titled book club that was formed during the German occupation. She is met with reluctance on behalf of some of the members and over time, she discovers why. They have a secret to protect. The unraveling of the secret, is both tragic and heartwarming as the journalist struggles with her own internal dilemma.
The movie is true to the book which makes it hard to choose a favorite, so if you don’t subscribe to Netflix, by all means, check out the book!
Since the beginning of March, my fitness routine has taken as many twists and turns as Joanne’s book. At first I was adapting to Covid restrictions while enjoying spring-like weather, so substituting running, biking and backboard practice for my typical three times per week tennis was easy and enjoyable. As the heat index climbed to over 100 degrees F, that plan fell by the wayside and for a while I walked the treadmill, used the rowing machine and added strength training to my daily indoor routine.
With restrictions easing, our community pool opened and Water Aerobics is now back in session – with a limit on reservations and precautions in place for social distancing. I am enjoying the twice per week workout and will likely keep that up until I can get back to tennis.
Three weeks ago I joined a 9-hole Ladies golf group and have been golfing once per week. We tee-off at 8:30 and finish by 11:00. The heat has been tolerable to this point, especially since we are using golf carts and not walking. I am not burning a lot of calories, but I love challenging myself to score better each week, and the social interaction after golf makes me feel a bit more human. Exercise is as important to mental health as it is to fitness…and what could be better than sunshine!
We phone friends and family more often than pre-Covid, and for now that will do. Our outings are limited to trips to the beach for a sunset picnic, which occasionally includes meeting another couple, but mostly it is just the two of us. Our Covid Bubble remains very limited.
We continue to host Sunday dinner and game night with Malcolm’s Mom and our adult children, who are still living with us and working from our home. This past week we played a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity, which is a family favorite. It is a slightly irreverent card game to play with a 91 year old, but it makes us all laugh, so its easy to drop the Puritan pretense.
Meals are mostly from the grille at this point – easy, uneventful, sustenance. It’s summer!
This past week we (low-key) celebrated our daughter’s 30th birthday, even though she refuses to acknowledge it due to her wrecked travel plans. I don’t blame her, who wants to celebrate the ‘I’m a real adult now birthday’ with their parents, when they are supposed to be in the South of France.
Our Independence Day celebration went much the same, low key. There were gatherings, and this year especially, people seem to need to acknowledge and reinforce that ours is a nation of freedom and independence. Unfortunately, freedom always comes with a price and in this case, that means more Covid cases.
Last week I shared that we had booked a short get-a-way to nearby Jekyll Island. The excitement of that plan was short lived, as we have now cancelled. Malcolm has been monitoring new cases versus easing of restrictions very closely and as expected, it has been too much too soon. Several businesses that were previously open are now closed, including the food and beverage services at our hotel in Jekyll.
Considering the circumstances, the hotel offered a full refund and we will try again in a couple of months. Maybe it’s time to buy that RV!
The Sahara dust is blowing into our area this week and should produce some interesting sunsets. With any luck, I will capture another photo similar to the one I took last year when the dust arrived.
A sunrise symbolizes peace, tranquility, renewed energy and the promise of new beginnings, while sunsets are filled with celebration and satisfaction. Both occurrences are a photographers dream.
My favorite place to shoot a beautiful sunrise is Jekyll Island, GA. I look forward to making my way down the narrow path to Driftwood Beach on a cool, quiet morning; lighting my way with a cell phone flashlight, setting up the tripod and enjoying a cup of coffee as I wait in the darkness for the light to dawn. Silence is a welcome companion.
The light arrives about twenty minutes ahead of the sun and I am ready and waiting; an artful piece of driftwood in the foreground, camera poised to capture exactly what I see.
The sky begins to glow with pinks and lilacs, and then a fiery orange appears and bleeds into the water. When the reflection casts to the shore the time is right.
My idea of a beautiful sunset happens on the West coast of Florida, over the Gulf of Mexico. Think of the most perfect summer day, followed by dinner at a waterfront restaurant, like the Mucky Duck, where sunsets are always the main event. Grab a Margarita from the bar, kick off your shoes and watch the show.
One of the most famous places in the US to celebrate sunset is Mallory Square in Key West. If you have never been, it is a bucket list must.
This view is the center of attention every night at the Mallory Square celebration that begins at least two hours before sunset. And yes, the green flash really does happen, just don’t blink or you might miss it!
We have just booked a mid-July stay at Jekyll Island and the anticipation of capturing yet another beautiful sunrise is what makes me smile this week.
Instead of sharing an update this week I am participating in a photography challenge which should give you a good idea of what my week looked like. The challenge is sponsored by Nancy Merrill and anyone can join. She announces the subject each Thursday and participants have until the following Thursday to share their posts. The subject this week is Water.
Water is essential to our well-being. Not just the life sustaining properties of drinking water, but the restorative powers of the sound, movement and feel of water.
Imagine standing before a majestic waterfall, immersing yourself into a liquid pool of refreshing clear waters or sitting by an ocean as the waves gently caress the shore. Peaceful, gentle, calm are words that comes to mind when I think of those experiences. Water captivates, excites our senses and transforms like no other natural resource. Being in, on, under or just observing water makes me feel happier.
Some of these photos are from my archives, but all are representative of my life long love affair with water.
This past week, Malcolm and I have spent a lot of time at the beach or enjoying a sunset by the river. The rains have subsided and the humidity is tolerable most evenings, especially when there is a slight breeze. We arrive around 6:00 p.m. and typically have it all to ourselves until well after dark. It is a pleasant way to spend the evening while maintaining social distancing.
Sometimes it takes surrender to see things clearly. Water helps me do just that. How about you? Do you have a peaceful place to quiet your mind and enjoy solitude.
The month of June was supposed to be a turning point, a time when the routine would be less routine and the world would begin to heal and look familiar. While that is happening in some parts of the world, the US went from one overwhelming crisis to another.
This is a place we have been to before, but it seems different this time. A pandemic, people out of work, a political climate spinning out of control, people are restless, divided and angry. It almost seemed inevitable.
Just like a pandemic has left us wondering about our new normal, a senseless murder and a week of protest has left us wondering how it will effect change? This is bigger than race and equality, much bigger. While protesting raises awareness, action creates change.
When you look around your community, you will likely see desperation of every kind – homelessness, addiction, abuse, teenage pregnancies, high school drop outs, mental illness, lack of adequate medical service, education and recreation. Does your community promote equal opportunity, education, community development and enrichment? Are there resources for low income families, children from broken homes, unwed mothers, the elderly, abuse victims, and recovering addicts? When you see desperation, does it compel you to want to make things better?
If you are not happy with the way things are, get involved. Attend your local Council meetings, understand the political climate in your community. Research ballot issues before you cast a vote. Hold your elected officials and police accountable. Look for volunteer opportunities that will utilize your skills. You can make a difference.
Lend A Hand
Some years ago I was a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Over a two year period, I committed many hours of service to this incredible organization by working on several construction sights. Habitat for Humanity was originally formed by President Jimmy Carter and has a powerful slogan that expresses their purpose – ‘offering a hand up, not a hand out.’ Habitat builds homes for low income families, regardless of race or religion. Homes are delivered at cost and interest free. Recipients pay a down payment and monthly payments towards the ownership of their home. They are also required to invest 300 hours of community service during construction. While the family’s home is under construction, the new owners take home management classes that include budgeting, and home maintenance. The goal of this organization is to eliminate poverty and homelessness from communities and to inspire pride in ownership.
There are a number of positive statistics associated with home ownership, but the one I tend to appreciate most is that 59% of children of homeowners are more likely to own their own home within ten years of leaving their parents household. Children of homeowners are also 25% more likely to graduate High School.
During my time at Habitat, I worked side by side with many new owners and saw first hand their hardships and struggles. A single mother raising two children, wanting something better for them. A young couple, just starting out with hopes and dreams for the future. Their determination to move up and not be caught up in a cycle of poverty was admirable.
My community supports many outreach programs for low income families, including pre-school funding, addiction counseling, victims of abuse, child advocacy and teenage pregnancy to name a few. I am proud that we fund many social services through a combination of grants, community contributions and taxes with much of the labor being provided by a generous volunteer community.
While I am outraged at the circumstances of the wrongful death of yet another black man at the hands of a police officer, I have to wonder where we failed these individuals and what might have made a difference in their lives and attitudes.
There will always be bad cops and criminals. There will always be prejudice and inequality. There will always be the ‘haves and the have nots,’ the do gooders, the instigators and people who just show up without a clue. And, the playing field will never be level. But, we can do better, much better.
When we care more about lifting people up and less about tweets, sound bites and vilifying each other, we will find a way to contribute, and we will effect change. Why be just an angry voice in the crowd when you can make a difference?