If you have been following my blog for awhile you know that I am somewhat of a planner. I also do a project called December Daily. This is my fifth year. For those of you who are unfamiliar, December Daily is the idea that you document a story, or activity from December 1-December 25. For some of us, we take the title more seriously and actually do document every day which means we end on December 31st. Others actually start Thanksgiving day and continue through New Year’s Day. There are really no rules. I tend to be a copier, so I follow most of what Ali Edwards (the creator of December Daily) does in her blog, using her materials. However, she stops on December 25 so I am forced to be creative on my own. I will say, I’ve learned a lot about many different artsy techniques and my last album looked significantly better than my first one.
Why do I do this? I love stories. I want to leave a record of photos and recorded words that my family might look at and treasure long after I’m gone. It’s a creative outlet, but it is far more than that.
Anyway, I digress.
I didn’t decorate my house this year because I was going to be away for part of December. Decorating is usually one of the stories I tell. About the time I was searching for a story to tell in the place of one of Ali’s–we received a gift of a beautiful Christmas wreath. We hung it on the front door and I started to wonder how I was ever going to make a full spread out of one picture. Then, I started to wonder why people hang them in the first place…so I googled it and wow! I was fascinated.
Did you ever wonder why we hang Christmas Wreaths on our front door?
They are beautiful and have so many styles.
It is a tradition.
Everyone does it.
The word wreath is said to come from the old English word “writhen” meaning to twist, as in a circle or wheel. Wreaths have been around since the 16th Century and the Romans displayed them as a symbol of victory. It’s circular shape represents eternity, for it has no beginning and no end.
At this point, I was thinking, okay nothing really new here….
We all know that wreaths are mainly made out of evergreens. They last longer, but more than that, evergreen represents life and nature. It reminds us that spring will come soon. (THANKFULLY) It is also said to represent “the wheel of the year.” Cold will pass away.
Now here comes the facts I should have known, but didn’t.
Wreaths were adopted by the Christian faith and are used to observe Advent. Since a wreath has no beginning or end, it symbolizes God’s eternity and mercy, particularly during the Christmas season. How is it that I NEVER thought about a wreath like that before? Also it is said that when made of evergreen it symbolizes everlasting life and God’s everlasting love.
Roberta Hershenson wrote in The New York TImes that for some Christians the wreath represents the thorns worn by Christ on the cross, the berries being His blood. When Christians hang a wreath on their house, it is an invitation for Christ to come into their home. In short, it is a declaration that the home owner believes in Christ.
I think the rest of the world would have to know what the wreath meant for it to be a declaration to everyone, but I love the symbolism. In a holiday that has a tendency to become secular and commercial it is nice to focus on what it truely means.
For me, if I can only have one decoration this year, I’m glad it was a wreath.
What does a wreath mean to you?
Please take a moment to like, comment, follow and share!
Charity took another look around the empty room. It was void of decorations and furniture except for the cherished radio/CD player and one table and chair. She walked over and clicked the radio on. The static was loud, but temporary as she inserted a CD into the well-loved player.
The sounds of Bing Crosby crooning, “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” immediately filled the air.
Charity walked over to the window and peered at the pavement below. “Nothing white on the ground here.” She smiled. That was okay with her. She wasn’t fond of snow or cold and neither was her mother.
This was going to be her first Christmas without her mother. It filled her with an emotion that she wasn’t ready for. It had been months. Why did she still wake up every morning wishing she could call her mom? Mom always made everything all right.
She walked back over to the last box. Once she went through this box she would clean the apartment for the last time and turn the keys over to the manager.
“Over. I just don’t want it to be over.”
Bing stopped singing and Perry Como began singing,”I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” She couldn’t stop the tears that began to slide down her cheeks. Home? Where exactly was home?
She lifted the lid on the box. What was this? Letters. All unopened. She grabbed a few of them and thumbed through them. Some were addressed to her, some to her Grandmother, some to Dad and a few to God.
She decided to take the top one and open it. It was addressed to “Unknown”.
As she read aloud, the music vanished and she could picture her mom in earlier Christmas’. She was sitting by the Christmas tree at Grandmother’s house. Her sister’s were young and beautiful as they all laughed and told stories together. Dad was close by looking lovingly at her.
She shook away the memory and opened the letter.
“To whom it may concern. I’m not sure how long I will live or who will find these letters. Please don’t share them with anyone. You may read them and think what you will, but I never gave them to the people I wrote them to for a reason and I’d ask that you keep them to yourself as well. You may ask why I wrote them instead of talking it out? Writing is permanant. When you talk, sometimes you forget exactly what was said. I want to always remember. Now you say, but the letters are sealed! Yes, they are. That is a mystery you must discover for yourself, if you choose to. Happy Reading”
Charity stood. Why were the letters only written to the four of them? Her mother must have known that Charity would be the one to find the letters, why didn’t she just leave a note to her?
Charity was instantly filled with fear and excitement and worry all combined into one new emotion.
She closed her eyes, reached into the box and randomly pulled out a letter.
It was dated December, 1956.
“The year I was born!” The letter wasn’t addressed to her, or her mom or her dad. It was addressed to God.
I am a mother. Finally! All I can think of this Christmas is Mary. The girl you chose to be the mother of your son. I picture her holding Jesus. What must she have been thinking? ‘He’s perfect! How can this little one be a Savior to the world? How can I be the earthly mother to someone who knows all and sees all?’ I have such doubts about my ability to be a mother. Will Charity and I be close? Will my own mother be satisfied in what she sees in me? So, I’m writing you my deepest and darkest fears. I know that you know what is in my heart, but I feel that somehow if I write it here then I can leave it here. Safe with you. Help me to be more like Mary-more like Jesus.”
In an instant Charity knew that this box was a special gift. Just like Mary had pondered things in her heart-Charity’s mom had as well. She reached into the box again. “Thank you, God, for this special gift from the past that is for the future. Thank you, also, for Jesus and Mary and…my mom.”
She looked over at the box. What other secrets did it hold?
**Before you ask, this is NOT a TRUE story. I’m not sure why God puts stories on my heart, but I really enjoyed where this one took me. Let me know if you want to hear more about Charity!
I’d love it if you’d follow me, like my post, comment or share!
Over the past several years I have had many friends tell me that they were doing an Advent Bible Study. Sometimes it was a self-guided study that they were tackling on their own. At other times they were reading an additional book or studying with a Bible study group. The point is that it has become quite “popular”.
I don’t usually do the trendy thing. I was years behind joining facebook and instagram and while I have a TikTok, but I really don’t have the foggiest idea what to do with it. I feel like I spend too much of my day seeing what is going on with my friends by checking out those platforms. So, in truth, I resisted the advent study.
Then, 2021 happened. I haven’t lost my faith, but I did lose my hope. I told my friends that I felt like Moses and that the only reason I was surviving was because they were holding up my arms like Aaron held up Moses’ in the wilderness. Thank you, friends.
Then, I saw on facebook that one of the writer’s that I follow was having an advent study. I joined the group and immediately began looking forward to the study.
Listen to what I just said! I began looking forward to it! Honestly, I haven’t looked forward to anything all year.
So, I went a step further. I started my own group as well! We are following the book, “Embracing Advent: Rediscovering Christmas in the Chaos.” I wasn’t sure how it would be received, but I knew I wanted to share this experience with some of my friends–many of them who prayed me through the wilderness.
We began our study on December 1st and we plan to read one chaper of Luke a day until we conclude on December 25 with Luke 25. We will also read one chapter of Jen Ludwig’s book.
I’m on day three and am so glad I did this.
Advent means “coming.” When we do an advent study we are preparing for the coming of this season. It’s more than reading one chapter of Luke a day. It’s spending time reading, praying and waiting.
Waiting. Do we all feel like we have done enough of that for the last two years? I’m pretty sure the children of Israel waited lots more than that for the birth of Christ. We have it so easy these days and waiting isn’t something that we are good at.
Did you know that the word “hope” in the BIble is sometimes translated “to wait for“? I never thought about the fact that waiting and hoping were so connected. I guess I like things to be taken care of or answered now…right now.
Jen Ludwig says in her book, “In order to actively find hope, hold on to hope, cling to hope and be anchored in hope: we need to be very deliberate in our patient waiting.” Did someone say patient???? UGH.
But listen to this promise:
“But those who HOPE in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
As we begin this Advent season, will you wait quietly for what the Lord is teaching?
I’m going to try.
What are you hoping for? I’d love to hear from you!
As Thanksgiving approaches I have been thinking about traditions and how each family is sometimes so alike and sometimes so very different. I decided to google the word tradition and see what the results were.
1) “The definition of a tradition is a custom or belief that is passed down through the generations or that is done time after time or year after year.”
An example of a tradition is eating turkey on Thanksgiving or putting up a tree on Christmas.
2) “The passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation, especially by oral communication.”
3) “A part of culture that is passed from person to person or generation to generation, possibly differing in detail from family to family, such as the way to celebrate holidays.”
4) “A long-established custom or practice having the effect of precedent or unwritten law.”
I find it interesting that each idea has several things in common: it includes the passing of time
and it is something that happens again and again. Cultures may be different, beliefs may be different and families certainly are different, but we are alike in this way– traditions are important to us.
Why do we have traditions? Why do we value them?
We follow them year after year because they mean something to us and deep down I think we hope that our children will continue to honor some of the same traditions. Thus, keeping those traditions alive.
Traditions give a sense of belonging. You have special things that your family does and children notice that. It provides them with a routine that they can depend on. I remember things I did with my parents even more than certain presents I received. It is important to me that my children know why I do what I do. Traditions bind us together.
Traditions tell the story of your family. In fact, in some way it gives your family an identity. It tells your children that they a part of something. It is a way to understand the past and –as things constantly change around us–it also gives us something that is strong and secure to hold on to for the future.
Traditions also teach. They teach children values as you celebrate what means something to you. As your family honors religious traditions, you teach faith. When you spend time with a nightly bedtime story you teach the value of reading and creativity.
Following traditions also gives the family something to look forward to together!
The Overshadowed Christmas play this year is “The Christmas Schooner.” It is a delightful story of a family that comes from a German heritage. (Did you know that the first Christmas trees came from Germany?) The story allows us to see the tradition of decorating a Christmas tree and continues to repeat, “Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a tree!” The mother of the family, Alma, is Swiss and just doesn’t understand this tradition or why her husband would risk his life to bring Christmas trees to Germans who live across Lake Michigan in Chicago. He answers her questions with, “I do, because I have so much.” Thus honoring the tradition of giving and blessing others at this time of year.
It makes me wonder, how far would you go to keep a tradition alive? What would you risk? Should we hold that close to them that we would even do something dangerous? This family did. And believe me, more people than just Germans learned to love the tradition of Christmas trees that once was held only by Germans.
By the way, some people have a tradition of seeing a Christmas show every year. This one would be an amazing one to see. We open this Friday and run until December 18th. Get tickets at www.overshadowed.org
What traditions does your family celebrate? I’d love to hear about them! Please comment, share and follow!
Before we start I just want to thank you all for the outpouring of love, support and prayers you showered upon me after my last blog post. (https://wp.me/p9JkzU-Ny) It was so encouraging and it helped me regain my footing for this week.
My Goodreads account taunts me as it tells me I’m 32 books behind my reading goal for this year! Yikes! 32?? I don’t think I have the ability to catch up and actually I’m rather disappointed in myself. Although, I did have a super rough year. My reading stopped when my husband and I were able to purchase a rental property in Florida. I was so excited, but as my husband explained it, “I just bought you a job.” He was right. I love it and it is super exciting to have that next step in our lives, but it took quite a bit of attention in the beginning.
A little before that we got the news that my mom was going into hospice and the other part of my free time was spent going back and forth to spend time with her. There were a few other things that distracted me (as you faithful readers of this blog know.)
Now, here I am with only a month and a half left to read….hmmm one book every two days….maybe I could do it….(insert ridiculous laugh.)
What keeps me sharing these books with you? This week alone I had one person call me and ask what book she should buy and several others tell me they had just bought books I recommended. Okay. That’s fun.
Maybe one of you will enjoy one of these that I read last month. Please let me know if you do!
Book #1 A New York Secret by Ella Carey
From the cover:
1942, New York. As war rages in Europe, Lily Rose is grateful for her perfect life: a wealthy family who love her and a dream job working uptown as a restaurant chef. Times are changing for women and Lily is determined to run her own kitchen one day. She hopes handsome Tom Morelli, son of Sicilian immigrants, will be at her side. Together they work late, dreaming up delicious meals for New Yorkers struggling with wartime rationing and the threat of sons and sweethearts being called up…
Then Tom receives a devastating telegram that changes everything: he is drafted to fight in Italy.
Suddenly alone, Lily turns to her parents for support. But when her mother finds out about Tom, she is furious. When the war ends, Lily’s duty is to marry the man picked for her, keep house and raise children. They give her a heartbreaking ultimatum: end her relationship with Tom or lose her family and inheritance forever.
In the middle of the war, Lily is left in an impossible position. Will she choose to stay with her family and live the safe life she has always known, or will she follow her heart and her dreams?
I have done quite a lot of reading about WWII in my life time. It is difficult to find an angle to tell a new story in a creative way, but this one by Carey does just that. It didn’t engage me in a way that might make me think about it day and night, but it did teach a powerful lesson about friendships and the tragedy of a society that still places certain rules of society higher than happiness.
Sad to say that the idea that Lily Rose might not be able to follow her dream of being a chef because it wasn’t the plan her parents had for her is a reality that many people still face today. My parent’s approval was always very important to me. I didn’t date guys they didn’t like. I went to the school they wanted me to go to and it broke my heart if they ever said, “Reba, be ashamed.” I felt for Lily. I sensed her torment as she longed to not cause her parent’s pain, but yet knew she could not give up the dreams of her heart.
What I liked about this book:
Lily. She is written creatively as a smart woman that has the courage to make bold choices. In spite of being brought up by a mother who is a snob, she is still loving towards people who don’t have the same luxuries that she does.
Josie. I would love to be a grandmother like she is. One who is proud of their grandchildren and supportive, loving, and leads and teaches with a kind heart.
I like the fresh approach Carey used to tell this story. I never even considered what happened to the male chefs during the war or how restaurants got their food. I guess realistically I never thought that the wealthy would indulge themselves in that way when a country was all sacrificing for the common good.
I thought it was going to be a love story and although it is–I like that the story teaches and focuses on so many other attitudes and lessons. I do believe that I would have enjoyed a little more of the love story between Tom and Lily. I will not give details because I don’t want to give a spoiler, but I find a part of their relationship to be very confusing and perhaps a little unrealistic. If you choose to read this–please drop me a note and let’s talk about this!
Other reviews I read said this book was emotional. To be honest, I didn’t connect with the characters in a way that made it an emotional read for me.
Who should read this book?
Read this book if you are interested in history, World War II, or cooking!
“in order to cope with old age, she needed a purpose, because if she didn’t have one, then she may as well be dead.”
The Slabaugh family are model Amish farmers, prosperous and hardworking, with four children and a happy extended family. When the parents and an uncle are found dead in their barn, it appears to be a gruesome accident: methane gas asphyxiation caused by a poorly ventilated cesspit. But in the course of a routine autopsy, the coroner discovers that one of the victims suffered a head wound before death―clearly, foul play was involved. But who would want to make orphans of the Slabaughs’ children? And is this murder somehow related to a recent string of shocking hate crimes against the Amish?
Having grown up Amish, Kate is determined to bring the killer to justice. Because the other series of attacks are designated hate crimes, the state sends in agent John Tomasetti, with whom Kate has a long and complex relationship. Together, they search for the link between the crimes―and uncover a dark secret at work beneath the placid surface of this idyllic Amish community.
I continued my new habit of listening to books this month. It does take a bit of getting used to, but when the book is good I find that I love it almost as much as holding the book in my hand.
It took me a chapter or two to figure out the main character. There was a great deal of bad language in it and it caught me off guard right from the start. I was so distracted by it that I had to go back and really listen to hear that the main detective was indeed a female. There was something about the way the book was read that I felt right away that she was a guy. Oops. That leads to other problems when her character started talking about dating one of the other men. Yep. I needed to go back and figure out what was what.
I must admit that I didn’t really enjoy the first half of the book. Remember, my last Chirp book was a book I LOVED (you can read about that book here:https://wp.me/p9JkzU-Mm ) So, I was constantly comparing this book to that one. I also wasn’t gripped by the Amish story. It seemed too simple to me.
Man, was I wrong. Just when I thought I had this book all figured out Castillo threw me for a loop. This book is anything but predictable. She sets the stage with perfect descriptions of the Amish and their lifestyles–makes you love the characters in a way that you actually feel sorry for the pain they are all feeling–then-wow. I will not tell you anymore because you need to read or listen to this one for yourself. It is deep and well paced.
Embarrassment number two….I had NO IDEA this was part of a series. It is actually book number 3 in a 14 part series. Maybe that is why I was a little lost in the beginning. Don’t let that stop you though because honestly, I never knew I was missing anything. It could totally stand alone.
What I loved about this book:
I loved the mystery and that it was totally unpredictable. I love Castillo’s vocabulary. Seriously, I have never read a book that used so many words I was unfamiliar with. She’s amazing. Castillo is also a master at describing a scene not just the way it looks, but the way it smells and even feels. The book has a well-layered plot that is certainly a page-turner.
Who should read this book?
Lovers of mysteries. People interested in the Amish way of life. Lovers of thrillers and detective stories.
Lots of language. Violence. Sexual situations.
Book #3 Look Again by Lisa Scottoline
From the Cover:
When reporter Ellen Gleeson gets a “Have You Seen This Child?” flyer in the mail, she almost throws it away. But something about it makes her look again, and her heart stops―the child in the photo is identical to her adopted son, Will. Her every instinct tells her to deny the similarity between the boys, because she knows her adoption was lawful. But she’s a journalist and won’t be able to stop thinking about the photo until she figures out the truth.
And she can’t shake the question: if Will rightfully belongs to someone else, should she keep him or give him up? She investigates, uncovering clues no one was meant to discover, and when she digs too deep, she risks losing her own life―and that of the son she loves.
I am not sure why I look at other people’s reviews of books before I start writing mine. It’s kinda crazy. I don’t read them before I read the book..I read them after I read the book. Maybe because I feel like I’m discussing it with them somewhat. Anyway, I could not disagree more with the majority of reviews I read. I’m not quite sure how people could have hated the book so much….when I say I couldn’t stop listening and that I listened EVERY spare moment I could, it wouldn’t be a stretch. I would even listen to it as I was falling asleep–trying to enjoy every single second of this book. It was my first Scottoline book, but it will not be my last.
There were a few things I DID NOT like. I thought Ellen needed to get a grip. Once she started worrying about her adopted son, and if he could indeed be the one on the postcard of missing children, she started making mistake after mistake and indeed her reporter nose was lacking in tying the pieces of the mystery together. In honesty, I am a worrier so I rationalized that I would be exactly the same way. How in the world do you deal with the fact that you might have an abducted child?What if you have to give him back? The moral questions that this book raises are numerous and fascinating to think about.
What I loved about this book?
I could not figure out how Scottoline would end the story. I was terrified it would be heartbreaking and she kept me engaged the entire time. I loved Ellen and her son. Honestly, I also loved Mary Stuart Masterson, who narrated the book. She was amazing and probably half the reason I loved book. I will look for more books that she has narrated as I have discovered the narrator makes a huge difference in how quickly I become engaged in the story.
Who should read this book?
Everyone if I had my way. Seriously, Lovers of mysteries, stories about families, crime stories.
“Even people who counted their blessings never counted them in the morning. For one thing, there wasn’t time.”
“Writing had always helped her, before. It always clarified her feelings and her thoughts, and she never felt like she could understand something fully until the very minute that she’d written about it, as if each story was one she told herself and her readers, at the same time.“
Warnings: I would not want to read this if I had a child I had adopted. It would make me dwell on all those fears.
That’s it for this month! What are you reading? Now it’s your turn to talk and perhaps share this blog!
This week Jason Roy, lead singer of Building 429, sent out a video explaining why they wrote their new song, “Breath of God.“
He basically said that Christmas is traditionally a time we look forward to–a time that is usually filled with peace and rest. He went on to say that many of us have been touched with a great sorrow this year–a sorrow so deep that it is difficult to think of Christmas in the same way. He hoped that this song would bring peace and a hope for all of us to cling to.
Well, that truth resonated with me. I went to youtube immediately
I have listened to it several times daily since then. I’m claiming it for a life line this Christmas.
In honesty, I’ve been wondering how December will be. In June, when I got the text that changed my life-my whole world fell apart. I cried in sounds that I didn’t even know I could make. I didn’t know how I could go on, but with the encouragement of my daughter, somehow I got up and put one foot in front of the other. I know the prayers of others worked overtime to help me get to the place I am today. I’m thankful for those of you who prayed–even though you didn’t know what you where praying for. (For all of you now trying to look through past blogs to figure out what happened–I’m afraid I never told. It is too personal. The story is not mine to tell at this point. And yet, it has been what defined me for the past six months.)
And on top of all this, my mother was dying and did eventually pass away.
I knew God was there, but I couldn’t get through the pain to converse with Him.
You know when you are so close to someone that you can actually feel their breath? You have to be right next to them….nothing in between. I heard the words to this song and I knew that was what I was lacking. I NEED to have the Breath of God. I need Him to speak peace to me.
Lights, snow, Christmas trees, presents… it’s not enough. We need hope. We need the Holy Spirit.
The song asks God to speak in power to the spirit of fear. It asks God to remind us that He is here. It goes on to say that the stars in the sky remind us that He is faithful and indeed–it does.
In the Scripture: ειρήνη (eiríni): from the verb “to join”, peace, implies prosperity, one, peace, quietness, rest
Matthew Henry, in his commentary on Phil, describes this peace:
‘The peace of God, the comfortable sense of being reconciled to God, and having a part in his favor, and the hope of the heavenly blessedness, are a greater good than can be fully expressed. This peace will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus; it will keep us from sinning under troubles, and from sinking under them; keep us calm and with inward satisfaction.”
I love the last part, it will keep us from sinking under our troubles and keep us calm with inward satisfaction.
God is a God of peace but we do not need to think that He is “resting”. The scripture promises us in Psalms 121:4 that he “will neither slumber nor sleep.” He is watching and caring for me and my pain and you and yours.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. “
God is our foundation and rock— the opposite of the chaos of trouble.
How do we get that peace? I think only when our communion with God is so close (we can feel the breath) that it guards against the internal and external threat to that peace.
Thank you, God, for holding me fast. Thank you for your word that doesn’t return void. Thank you for coming to save us. Please speak in power and bring those who have forgotten you to know you fully. Speak peace to my heart. Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for music. Thank you for musicians who can be used to speak truth.
What do you think of this song? Is there a song you are claiming for this season?
The third entry in Webster’s dictionary says that an acceptable meaning of the word “EDIT” is
c : to alter, adapt, or refine especially to bring about conformity to a standard or to suit a particular purpose
As most of you know, I’ve been pretty unhappy with things in my life this year. I’d list all of the things, but I don’t want to think about them and I’m pretty sure none of you want to hear about them either. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve treated myself to some spoiling–more reading, getting my nails done and lastly a trip to Disney. Thankfully, this week I feel more like my usually positive self.
As I was going through my mail after my trip I opened one of the subscription boxes I receive . (I know–I needed something to get through two years of COVID) To feed my planner obsession I receive a subscription box from Cloth and Paper. It is filled with new pens and sticky notes and journaling cards and well, it is just something I spoil myself with. As I was going through my new goodness I saw that they had written that definition on one of the cards.
It stopped me in my tracks. Somehow, it made me feel like the things I was planning and designing didn’t have to stay on the page. No! I could edit myself as well!
What would I want to edit? Well, bad habits. I’d also like to firmly get out of this slough of despond I’ve been in. Lastly, I want to lose weight. I was preparing for a half marathon when Covid hit and since then I just can’t get my head to care about what I looked like. I would reason with myself and tell myself that I wasn’t going anywhere anyway so why not enjoy my food? I knew I had gained weight, but really didn’t realize how much until I put on my costume for Twelve Angry Women. I guess I had been deceiving myself by wearing leggings and spanx and all black, but wow, yep…I need to take action. For my own health. For my future.
And yet I still didn’t take significant steps. I did slow down on pop and make a healthy decision every once in awhile, but we all know that isn’t enough.
Then, I opened that box and saw the definition and somehow I knew that was for me. I need to edit my life.
I started looking and researching what I was going to do and decided to start with baby steps (because I’m still not sure my head is all the way there and I don’t want to fail.) I looked up how many steps I needed to take a day just to maintain my weight…again, I was shocked…9000! Some of you aren’t surprised…I was blown away! No wonder I was gaining weight! I stopped running and I was almost never hitting that many steps a day. I downloaded the app. (Yep, they got me) I started Sunday. I’m taking small significant steps and I’m sore, but focused. I edited the first part of this chapter of my life.
The app gives me assignments for the day. It starts with a chapter to read that is sometimes a positive affirmation and sometimes healthy lessons. Today, it was a quiz. It asked me to rate every part of my body from 1-10 with how I feel about it. Then it challenged me to look at the area of my body that I am the most unhappy with and find something to be thankful for. For example, if I hated my feet the most I would stop and think about what my feet do for me every day and what life would be like without my feet even if they hurt when I walk. It was so altering for me. Even the areas of my body–my life–that I am unhappy with can give joy–purpose–meaning.
It is the same in my every day life. In this year filled with so much pain and disappointment, I can look at the area that causes me the most hurt and find something to praise and be thankful for. It is a small step. But it is a significant one.
Thank you, God, for edits and for being the Great EDITOR.
What about you? Are you editing something in your life? How can I help? I’d love to hear your stories too!
Ever have a time in your life where you felt like you just needed to stop doing what you were doing and just play and have a good time? It’s been such a year that I did just that this past weekend. Disney was celebrating a “Boo Bash” on Sunday night and I thought it was a “hauntingly” great time. If you ever have a chance to experience that I would highly recommend it!
What holiday appeals to theater people? Why, one where you can dress up and pretend to be another character of course! Halloween is full of superstitions and well, so is the theater!
Here are a few of my favorites and why they exist.
1. No whistling backstage.
Have you ever heard that you should never whistle in a theatre? This superstition started in the 1600’s . About that same time much of the scenery began to “fly” in–or in audience terms–be raised and lowered with ropes and pulleys. Sailors were often employed as stagehands in theaters because of their extensive knowledge of ropes. They would communicate with each other by whistles to bring backdrops in or out. So a mistimed whistle would..well, make you a part of the scene.
2. Always leave a light on.
This light is more of a safety measure than a scare tactic. It is to be placed on the stage as a safety measure so that there is always enough light to keep workers from falling or tripping. Long ago people started arguing that the real purpose was to chase away unwanted spirits or to keep the ones that live there happy!
3. No peacock feathers on stage.
Yes, they are beautiful, but did you ever look at the pattern? Many people think it looks like an evil eye! They’ve been rumored as the cause of forgotten lines and broken sets as the “evil eye” curses the show.,
4. Don’t say the ‘M’ word!
Probably the most famous of all theatrical superstitions. Saying ‘Macbeth’ in a theatre will immediately bring you bad luck. According to folklore, the play’s history of bad luck began at its very first performance (circa 1606) when the actor scheduled to portray Macbeth died tragically and the show has been cursed ever since.
5. Never light three candles.
They said good things come in threes but I guess not in this case! Tradition states that the person nearest the shortest candle will either be the next to marry or the next to die. Why? The best we could discover is the thought that open fire is always dangerous on stage and more candles means there is a greater chance that a fire could get out of control. Did you know that Shakespeare’s Globe was burned down during a production of Henry VIII?
6. Break a leg.
Most of us know that you should never wish an actor “good luck.” There is a theory that this tradition started from the idea that the word leg doesn’t mean an actor’s leg. Instead, it refers to a curtain that masks the backstage. If you “break a leg” it means you’ve crossed from the backstage into the playing area. That means you are in the spotlight– which is exactly where the actor wants to be!
7. Give those flowers at the correct time.
The traditional method of giving flowers to lead actors after a show is a nice thing to do, but make sure those flowers are never given before a performance. You must not reward an actor for their work before they do it otherwise it might cause the production to close early.
8. Mirrors are a no-no.
By having a mirror on stage, you run the risk of it getting broken, but practically speaking they also reflect light and might wreck the lighting design. A misplaced reflection could blind an actor and potentially cause them to tumble off the stage. So instead people began to say that a mirror was a gateway for evil spirits.
9. Never wear blue on stage.
Many people haven’t heard of this one-perhaps because the reason behind it doesn’t exist anymore. There was a time when blue dye was the most expensive fabric covering. So, producers started a rumor that blue costumes were unlucky. It was all about the money.
I loved learning more about the history of some of these thoughts that theater people talk about! Many times there are practical reasons we do what we do. I don’t tend to be superstitious and I certainly don’t believe that evil spirits are roaming about on our stage. However, I do love to dress up and can’t wait to open our next show.
I hope you all get lots of candy this weekend….and if you give me flowers–give them to me AFTER the show!
Until next time–this is just me-talking to you–from the wings.
Overshadowed Theatrical Productions recently completed their fall production “Twelve Angry Men” and “Twelve Angry Women” Yes, you read correctly. We did both versions of this famous play. It was an experiment in marketing as well as acting and directing.
Before I begin talking about that experiment, let me share some thoughts about the play in general.
I was very surprised about the number of our audience members who had never seen this play or the MOVIE! I have always considered this work a classic and a favorite for many film lovers and also high schools. It has become a way to teach the importance of civic responsibility, bias, and that prejudice comes in many forms.
Reginald Rose wrote the original play for the CBS series, “Studio One,” and it aired on September 20, 1954. He says it was based, to a certain extent, on his own experiences as a juror,. He also said that it reflected a time when standing up for your constitutional rights could get you in trouble.
Afterwards, the teleplay was adapted into a film. Although it did not win, “Twelve Angry Men” was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Direction, and Best Screenplay based on mate- rial from another medium.
The real award is that Rose has written something that is lasting. It speaks across generations and racial divides. It makes one think of their own prejudices and the need for jurors who will serve with a moral responsibility. Our audiences sat on the edge of their seats most nights. We had fabulous conversations each night and many audiences members came back the following weekend to see if it made any difference if the cast was all male or all female.
Ticket sales weren’t what we wanted.
But if our goal is to give the audience a night of entertainment that moves them and inspires them–then we definitely succeeded.
Reading calms the mind and soothes the soul don’t you think? I love that it makes my imagination soar and when I finally get “into” a book I just want to devour it and use every spare moment I can to finish it. Afterwards, if it is a good one….I just can’t stop thinking about it.
Many of my friends have begun listening to audio books. Something I really rebelled against. I have several reasons for that rebellion. The first is that I LOVE holding the book in my hand, turning the pages, being able to mark the book if I want to remember something and many other the reasons. I am also a visual learner so just LISTENING frightened me. I wasn’t sure it would keep my attention and/or I would daydream in the middle and not pay attention (maybe that is the same thing.) However, so many of my friends are doing it, I decided it wouldn’t hurt anything to try.
I downloaded an app called Chirp and proceeded to watch their daily offerings to see if one of their specials would interest me. Believe me, there is a big difference in paying $3 or $4 or the regular $15 (or up) price! Growing up I was a huge fan of mysteries and often read books by Mary. Somewhere along the way I grew tired of figuring out “Who done it” long before it was revealed in the book. So I stopped reading them. When I saw a book by Mary Higgins Clark on the special list of Chirp, I thought, “Why not? It’s a good place to start.”
I Heard That Song Before by Mary Higgins Clark
From the cover:
In a riveting psychological thriller, Mary Higgins Clark takes the reader deep into the mysteries of the human mind, where memories may be the most dangerous things of all.
“At the center of her novel is Kay Lansing, who has grown up in Englewood, New Jersey, daughter of the landscaper to the wealthy and powerful Carrington family. Their mansion — a historic seventeenth-century manor house transported stone by stone from Wales in 1848 — has a hidden chapel. One day, accompanying her father to work, six-year-old Kay succumbs to curiosity and sneaks into the chapel. There, she overhears a quarrel between a man and a woman who is demanding money from him. When she says that this will be the last time, his caustic response is: “I heard that song before.”
That same evening, the Carringtons hold a formal dinner dance after which Peter Carrington, a student at Princeton, drives home Susan Althorp, the eighteen-year-old daughter of neighbors. While her parents hear her come in, she is not in her room the next morning and is never seen or heard from again.
Throughout the years, a cloud of suspicion hangs over Peter Carrington. At age forty-two, head of the family business empire, he is still “a person of interest” in the eyes of the police, not only for Susan Althorp’s disappearance but also for the subsequent drowning death of his own pregnant wife in their swimming pool.
Kay Lansing, now living in New York and working as a librarian in Englewood, goes to see Peter Carrington to ask for permission to hold a cocktail party on his estate to benefit a literacy program, which he later grants. Kay comes to see Peter as maligned and misunderstood, and when he begins to court her after the cocktail party, she falls in love with him. Over the objections of her beloved grandmother Margaret O’Neil, who raised her after her parents’ early deaths, she marries him. To her dismay, she soon finds that he is a sleepwalker whose nocturnal wanderings draw him to the spot at the pool where his wife met her end.
Susan Althorp’s mother, Gladys, has always been convinced that Peter Carrington is responsible for her daughter’s disappearance, a belief shared by many in the community. Disregarding her husband’s protests about reopening the case, Gladys, now terminally ill, has hired a retired New York City detective to try to find out what happened to her daughter. Gladys wants to know before she dies.
Kay, too, has developed gnawing doubts about her husband. She believes that the key to the truth about his guilt or innocence lies in the scene she witnessed as a child in the chapel and knows she must learn the identity of the man and woman who quarreled there that day. Yet, she plunges into this pursuit realizing that “that knowledge may not be enough to save my husband’s life, if indeed it deserves to be saved.” What Kay does not even remotely suspect is that uncovering what lies behind these memories may cost her her own life.”
Whew! Long Synopsis!
I’m not sure if I liked the book MORE because I LISTENED to it versus READING it, but I actually liked it. I was surprised how many people on Goodreads gave it negative reviews. Did I figure it out before it was revealed? Yes. But it did keep me going for awhile.
I actually enjoyed listening to it quite a lot. In fact, I have now devoted a certain time every day to listening. I look forward to it. If you haven’t tried it-I would encourage you to check it out and perhaps even try the Chirp App.
It kept my attention most of the time. I did find the story a little hard to follow at the beginning as I tried to remember who was who, but I thought that was due to my listening skills. I love the way Clark gives little hints from the start that really matter as you start to think about the clues. For me, the story was tied up very neatly in a satisfying way. Another thing that I really enjoyed about this book was Clark’s use of adages and witty sayings that may not be familiar to today’s generation, but were things I remember both of my parents saying time after time. I enjoyed being able to finish Clark’s sentences!
Was it the most suspenseful, heart-pounding novel ever? No, but that isn’t what I was looking for. If you want a story that is part mystery-part romance and engaging– then this is the story for you.
When you read a book you are able to create the character based on the author’s words only. When you listen, the voice artist helps create the character by how she uses her voice. That being said, I loved Kay and her grandmother. I thought that Gladys and many of the other supporting characters were interesting and well-thought out. I didn’t particularly care for Peter (Kay’s husband) I found him to be spineless and blah. I don’t know why Kay would fall in love with him. I didn’t root for their love story. In fact, I rooted for Kay, but not for him.
What I loved about this book:
It almost goes without saying that a work by Mary Higgins Clark is beautifully written. Her works are believable as she is very thorough in her research. The plot is interesting and holds the attention of the reader. I love a good mystery and this one is interesting enough to make my brain search to figure out the “real murderer.” I love that.
Who should read this book?
Lovers of mysteries and suspense.
Death, murder, violence
Favorite quotes :
“you can love a person without loving everything about that person.”
We Hope For Better Things
From the cover:
“When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request–that she look up a relative she didn’t know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos–seems like it isn’t worth her time. But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time.
At her great-aunt’s 150-year-old farmhouse north of Detroit, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.
Debut novelist Erin Bartels takes readers on an emotional journey through time–from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to the Michigan’s Underground Railroad during the Civil War–to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.“
We Hope for Better Things was a fabulous listen. I loved everything thing about it. It is basically three love stories in one and Bartels carries the reader from one page to another in a way that leaves you breathless with anticipation. There really isn’t anything I didn’t love about this book. The story grabbed me from the beginning. It is emotional, powerful and moving. Both stories have a historical significance that will be difficult to forget long after you finish this beautifully written book. It will help you look at race in America in a different light with both the modern love story as well as the story from the past.
What I loved about this book:
Everything! I loved that this book made me think. It was a deeply layered plot that was fast-paced and intriguing. The plot contained themes that many of us wrestle with today, but also others that took place because it was set in a historical time slot. Bartels was a master creator in shaping each of the three women, who were strong and weak in their own individual ways. Each had issues to tackle because of the time they were living in. The story isn’t a pretty one, but it was a beautiful representation of humanity. I hope I am a better person and more aware after reading this book.
Who should read this book?
Lovers of history. Fans of historical fiction, and fans of family stories and for those who like to read diversity and explore themes of racism.
“Change happens when the cost of keeping things the way they are is too high.”
“And at that moment, on a nondescript tan couch in an impeccably clean living room at Twelfth and Seward, Nora fell in love with the wrong man.”
“All it took to lose one’s history was a single generation that didn’t take the time to learn it and pass it on. I would do my part to keep it alive. ”
Heavy Themes: Racial prejudice, marital infidelity, slavery.
My journey into audio books has begun and it was a success. I can’t wait to tell you about the next one! What have you been doing??