Monday, December 30, 2013

A Clean Slate

ü  A new Word document  
ü  A blank calendar
ü  A fresh blog post
ü  An empty journal or diary
ü  An unopened flash drive
All waiting to be filled with words, dates, memories, and files—A New Year filled with choices, actions, resolutions, goals, and efforts.
Like you, I ask myself, “What will 2014 bring and what will I do during the next 365 days?” According to my calculation that is 8,760 hours; 525,600 minutes; 31,536,000 seconds. If I sleep one-third of my allotted hours, the remaining 5,840 hours or 16 hours each day await my imprint.

Some of those hours will be filled with office work, housework, food prep, and unexpected interruptions. Quantity time with my husband, family, and friends will be a priority as well as quality time with God through prayer, church attendance, and service to others. 
I start a new year with a clean slate when it comes to my writing. Writing 24 blogs in 2014 is daunting when I have an idea for only one. Most of my blog topics come to me from events or circumstances in my life. I  always look for a good quote or inspiration from an article or spot on TV. So far I have written 40 blogs with the self-imposed deadline of two each month. When you read and comment, I am encouraged to keep on posting.

My big project for the year is writing Charles’ life story. He has already given me pages of memories that I will massage and rework into a memoir that will be an inspiration to many. Like it was for me, writing his life story is a time of reflection on many events—some of which he would prefer not to relive. However writing my memoir, Born Three Times­­­­–A New Life, A New Liver, A New Love, proved to be a very therapeutic experience.
You, too, have a story to tell and I encourage you to take the time to find a way to record your memories for your future generations. It would be a good way to use some of your time in 2014 to bless other people. 

Let's fill our clean slates in 2014 with words and actions that will honor God and bless others along the way. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.”
Happy New Year
Frieda Dixon
Too Two Late Bloomers


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

An Orange Grove Parable

Spiritual insight can come from many places this time of year. Mine came in early November when Charles and I were heading home from our Florida vacation. The billboard on I-75 displayed pictures of beautiful citrus fruit with the invitation to take the next exit and pick your own. We are always eager to try something different so we followed the signs to a weather worn barn with green fruit displayed in bins. I was really surprised not to see orange colored navels and tangerines, and yellow grapefruit. The proprietor assured us that the displayed fruit was ripe, and that it only turns orange or yellow when exposed to cold temperatures, or sprayed with ethylene gas. I was not convinced, so we grabbed a ten pound mesh bag to fill on our own. We were given a word of caution, “You can pick fruit from any tree in the orchard, except the ones wrapped in crime scene tape.” 
We trekked into the orchard to find the low hanging fruit. Sure enough most of it was green, but a few tangerines and oranges looked better than the others and gave way when we gave them a gentle tug. Then we saw them, orange trees wrapped in yellow crime scene tape and covered with orange fruit. Those trees must have been exposed to cold air or gassed in anticipation of being sent to market. Like a little kid, I couldn’t stay away from those trees. I wanted to fill up my mesh bag with that fruit. With the proprietor's warning ringing in my ears, I dutifully continued to pull green fruit, but kept looking at the forbidden orange fruit in the middle of the orchard. 
Back on the road, it hit me. The account in Genesis of the first sin possibly took place in a fruit orchard. We all know the story of how Adam and Eve were told by God they could eat of any tree in the garden, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden. God warned Adam if you eat of the forbidden fruit, you will die. And we know the rest of the story. Eve listed to the serpent, ignored God’s warning, and ate of the forbidden tree—then gave the fruit to Adam. The first sin entered into the world and people have been dealing with their sinful nature ever since.

Over two thousand years ago, God took on the form of a human baby, and came into our world for one purpose—to die in our place as the perfect sacrifice for our sinful nature. We can be forgiven of our sins and receive eternal life if we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. That is the real reason for the Christmas season and something to celebrate all year long.

Have a blessed Christmas.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Off the Beaten Path

While we were at the beach in Florida, we could only take so much sun, sand, and surf without burning and blistering our pale skin.  So we scanned the tour guides looking for adventures off the beaten path.  Something different to do so that we could say, “Remember that vacation to Florida when we …….”  Charles picked out one activity and I got to choose another. 
Ever since I first saw one, I’ve wanted to try a Segway—the personal electric balancing transportation machine you ride standing up.  I was nervous when I called to inquire about the price and how much skill would be required to take the Segway tour.  I knew I could no longer balance on a bicycle, and I didn’t want to embarrass myself by falling off a Segway.  I said, “I am a senior adult and I’m not sure I can do this.”  The voice on the other end was encouraging, “My best customers are senior adults.  I will train you until you are comfortable.”
It was a slow tourist day in Clearwater Beach and Charles and I were the only two who showed up for the Segway tour. Our tour guide, Fred, worked with us in the parking lot until we got the hang of the machine. A real no brainer- lean forward, machine moves forward, lean backward, machine stops-lean to the left and lean to the right whenever a turn is required. Our seven mile tour on an absolutely gorgeous Florida day was a thrill. We rode past the beach and onto the causeway built for non-motorized transportation over the high bridge overlooking the beautiful bay.  The bottle sharks and dolphins frolicked in the water while we watched from the bridge.  The egrets and pelicans dove into the water for their mid-day meal. We rode down the bridge and toured the historic section of Clearwater Beach seeing the100 year-old mansions that were the winter homes for wealthy industrialists from the northern states.  Riding a Segway is the best way to tour a new place, and I won’t hesitate to do it again. 
Charles’ describes his ride in the Sky Surfing Flying Tricycle. “I have piloted or flown in almost all types of aircraft except the Flying Tricycle, and I really enjoyed the ride with Dane in the Sky Surfer. Being an aerodynamics engineer I had to think at least twice before going. However, the "Sky Surfing" Flying Tricycle appealed to me because it has a well proven Delta Wing. I spent an enjoyable hour during the scenic tour of Clearwater Beach and the nearby islands.”
These two late bloomers won’t forget our Florida adventures any time soon and look forward to our next opportunity to cross something off our “bucket list.”  Zip-line here we come.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Rhinestone Hospital

Our Florida beach vacation was just what the doctored ordered.  Rest, relax, eat out, and leave all our cares back home. We spent four glorious days in Clearwater Beach with a beautiful view of the Gulf of Mexico from our hotel. The weather was perfect and the Gulf crystal clear with very little surf. It was overcast and cooler on Friday morning as we packed up for the drive home.  Valdosta, GA was our destination to spend the night to break up the long drive.
About the time we got to Valdosta, I started getting the chills and shaking so hard it was impossible to get warm.  Charles heated up bath towels in the room microwave and wrapped me up like a mummy. With Tylenol and lots of prayer I made it through the long night and the miserable drive back to Acworth. 
I had no idea what was wrong with me or why my fever was almost 104 degrees, until my right leg started to swell, burn, and turn bright red.  At the Kennestone Hospital emergency room, it was soon determined that I had cellulitis caused by a bacterial infection which left untreated could prove to be deadly. I was admitted to the hospital so that treatment with high-powered IV antibiotics could begin.  The memories of sun, sand, and surf quickly faded only to be replaced by needles, nurses, and no-sleep. 
Watching TV and checking my email on my Smartphone was my main form of entertainment while I was confined to my hospital bed. Early one morning, I received an email from a friend who asked me to critique a story she wanted to submit.  I managed to reply (not easy with hands hooked up to IV tubing) that I was in Kennestone Hospital being treated for Cellulitis. The Android operating system for my phone did not like my reply one bit and decided to fix my ignorant statement with its auto-correct feature.  In its infinite wisdom, Android replied to my friend, “I’m in Rhinestone Hospital being treated for Cellulite.”
Once I realized what happened, I started laughing and couldn’t quit. It was 5 AM and I’m in my room laughing my head off. If a nurse had shown up, she would have called the men in white coats for sure. In my mind I was off to an exotic and expensive fat farm, eating rabbit food, and undergoing liposuction treatments for my dimpled, lumpy skin. If laughter is good medicine, then I improved my chances of recovery every time I thought about it. 
Reality soon hit with the shift change and the fresh deluge of nurses, aides, and doctors and the overhead bright lights so that everybody could check my progress. I recalled one of the lines Glenn Campbell sang from his hit song, The Rhinestone Cowboy. “But I'm gonna be where the lights are shinin' on me.”
After my two weeks in the spotlight, I am almost recovered and according to my scales, still carrying around way too much cellulite.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Autumn Leaves

Summer is my favorite time of year—sunny days and the freedom from heavy clothes and boots.  Even though I live in the South, I complain and gripe every year about the arrival of Fall and Winter.  When others get excited about dropping temperatures and say they love the weather, I frown and declare that I want my summer back. I blame my poor attitude on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that comes with fewer daylight hours and inclement weather that keeps me housebound. I blame it on autumn memories of loss—hospital vigils and cemeteries. I blame it on cold hands and feet from the dropping temperatures and dry eyes and skin from the furnace heat.  My head tells me the natural cycle of spring, summer, fall, winter are necessary for the earth to function as intended, but my body wants bright sunshine and heat.
Almost seventy Falls and Winters have come and gone in my life, and Lord willing, I hope to enjoy more in the years to come.  Just as the seasons of nature change, so do the seasons of life. It occurs to me that I am in the Fall of my life and I am reminded of the Bible verse from Ecclesiastes 3:1: “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”  

It’s way past time for me to discard my gloomy face that shows up around September 21 and embrace the six months until Spring. In many ways these are the best days of my life and I need to look for the positives, instead of the negatives, in the seasons of nature and the seasons of my life. So here goes:

Season of Fall:  Colorful leaves, a cozy fireplace, an electric blanket, hot cider or tea with a piece of sweet potato pie. The end of Daylight Savings Time —less daylight in the evening, but more in the morning— gives me an extra hour of sleep and the motivation to get an earlier start to my day. I also love the emphasis on a bountiful harvest and Thanksgiving.
Season of Life:  More time for writing, more opportunities to share my journey, fewer financial responsibilities, more time for prayer and contemplation, time to enjoy the grandchildren, cooking less, date nights with Charles, and the good health to enjoy these many blessings and opportunities. This Fall will be a time for reflection and rejoicing over every season of life.

The song I think about every October is Autumn Leaves, originally a French tune made popular in America when Johnny Mercer wrote the Lyrics in 1947. This year I am rejoicing in the words from that song: “The falling leaves drift by my window, the autumn leaves of red and gold.”


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Words & Wings

A book signing event for Frieda and an air show for Charles. Add a beautiful fall weekend and it doesn’t get much better than that.
Frieda promoting
 Born Three Times
FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, GA hosted an Emerging Author Event in its quaint independent book store. As one of ten authors, I had a few minutes to talk about my book. It was fun to meet the other writers and compare notes about our journeys as authors. Networking always leads to new avenues to promote your work. One author was looking for guests for her upcoming radio show. We exchanged cards and the promise of a future booking. Several folks bought my book and I bought some of theirs. I was amazed by the diversity of writing and the imaginative and creative flair of so many. It would be a big stretch for me to write a colorful, well-illustrated children’s book or create a fictional story about espionage or murder in a small southern town. Those books were on display next to mine offering something for everyone who ventured into the book store. 

Saturday’s air show was unique in so many ways. Through our company’s connections, we received passes to the President’s Club at the Paulding County Air Show. That gave us entrance to a covered tent with many amenities—shade, cold drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and a sit down dinner between the afternoon and evening air shows. The military planes with their death defying maneuvers stole the afternoon show. The aircraft bursting through the clouds faster than the speed of sound and the following roars and booms of the engines shook the earth and made us cover our ears.
Granddaughter Alexa
with astronaut Scott Horowitz
The best part was seeing it all through our granddaughter’s eyes. As a ten year old fourth grader, she’d studied space, the planets, and astronauts in school. She was excited just to see the airplanes, but thrilled beyond words to meet and talk with an astronaut. Scott Horowitz, who has participated in several shuttle and space station missions, took time to talk to her, autograph her program, and posed with her for a picture. The day ended perfectly with a night aerobatic air show. The small planes performed their maneuvers with multicolored flashing lights and painted the sky with smoke trails, visible against the background of an orange and blue sunset. As we headed for our car, a beautiful fireworks display lit up the sky.

The verse penned by poet Robert Browning summed up my feeling after such a perfect weekend: “God’s in His heaven and all is right with the world.”


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Catalog Dump

Being sick has its advantages and disadvantages. Mostly disadvantages, but you do have the advantage of extra time on your hands. Other people are not enthusiastic about you coughing and blowing in their presence—so you get to stay home. The main thing to look forward to each day is the mailman’s arrival with the latest load of bills, junk mail, and catalogs—lots and lots of catalogs.

Recently twelve catalogs arrived in one load of mail. My name must be on every mailing list of purveyors of household goods and clothes in the country.  How did I get so fortunate?  I used to get a semi-annual catalog from JC Penney and Sears and that was about it. I really looked forward to the annual Wish Book. I guess that where it all started.  And the internet has only made it worse. Order anything online and everybody sees what a sucker you are for a catalog. 

 Actually I cut my teeth on catalog shopping. When I was growing up our family did not physically shop for anything other than food and drugstore items. Everything else came from the Montgomery Ward catalog.  That catalog was dog eared with all the items on my wish list. Times were much simpler and our finances much leaner so clothes, household goods, and an occasional treat were the only items we ordered.

I sorted through the recent pile of catalogs and found some amusing items that I will never order, but are available for the discerning man or woman who already has everything.

·         Road Mice-a computer mouse shaped like a Mercedes Benz.
      ·         A battery operated spinning spaghetti fork.
      ·         A “life jewel” bracelet that holds your dog’s DNA.
      ·         A remote controlled 6” tarantula.
      ·         The iPAD commode caddy (replaces your basket of bathroom magazines & holds the toilet
             paper roll in one convenient spot).

 What I really need to be able to order from a catalog is the following:

·         A battery operated computer nerd that will be there 24/7/365 to fix all my computer problems.
      ·         The answer man portable device that will teach me all about social media.
      ·         A robot chef to explore my pantry and freezer and tell me what to fix for supper.
      ·         A voice activated closet valet that will transition my closet from summer to winter.
      ·         A pop-up idea box that will generate new ideas for future blog posts.

While my body languishes, the mind is in over drive.  I need a distraction. Home Shopping Network here I come.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Right (Write) Stuff

Diana Nyad chased her dream until at age sixty-four she swam from the Cuban shore to Key West, Florida. After an amazing fifty-three hours in shark and jellyfish infested waters, she emerged from the water, fulfilling her motto for the year: “Find a Way.” She told a waiting world about the lessons she learned during her life long journey. “One is we should never, ever give up. Two is you’re never too old to chase your dreams. Three, it looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team.” 
Her experience in the ocean reminds me of the lessons I learned at the Catch the Wave Writers Conference I attended last weekend. The purpose of the event is to enable writers to “Send out a Christian wave upon a secular sea.” The conference wasn’t near the water, but was hidden from the rush of Atlanta traffic at the picturesque Simpsonwood Conference Center in Norcross. I couldn’t wait to get off the busy interstate and walk through the three dimensional doors at the center. The hand carved relief of Jesus was a welcoming site, saying to me: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Terry Burns, our keynote speaker, reminded me that the writer’s life is not about selling thousands of books, but about reaching that one person who needs to hear my words. That should be enough motivation to “…never, ever give up.” Rejections by agents and editors come all too often for me —like stinging jellyfish— but that is no reason to quit casting my message into the sea.
Publicist ReAnn Ring taught classes about using social media to promote my writing. She explained that Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Hootesuite are waiting for me to grasp and employ to reach a wider audience. I learned to type on a manual typewriter, but that doesn’t mean I am too old to learn new tricks. It may take me longer than some, but “I can do this.”

It took a team effort for our conference to be a success. Writing has its lonesome moments and sometimes I feel like I am floundering, but it's not a solitary sport. Whenever we gather at a conference, or at our regular Christian Authors Guild meetings, I learn from my fellow writers. It may be during a critique group or around refreshments as we talk about our latest writing exploits. 
If you want to break a world record, swim from Cuba to the US.  If I want to cast a wave upon a secular sea, I must follow the advice of Martin Luther, “… change the world, pick up my pen and write.”

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The View From the Valley

My last blog post was about mountaintop experiences and the amazing perspective those God made wonders provide.  What goes up must eventually come down, and so this week I write about the View from the Valley.  While we were in California, we drove through three different valleys, each one picturesque and unique. Quite often my life experiences are similar to what I observed in the valleys while we enjoyed our sightseeing tour.
The Antelope Valley is located on the tip of the Mojave Desert. The antelopes that once inhabited this area of California have long since escaped the encroaching civilization and moved on. The land is dry and parched in the summer months with almost no precipitation and, depending on the winter rainfall, home to an array of poppies in the late spring. The distant San Gabriel and Tehachapi Mountains ring the valley.
Sometimes I can feel I am in a dry, parched land and that better days will never come. Like the Antelope Valley, my mountain tops are far in the distance and seem inaccessible. I long for relief from my life circumstances and wish for the cool refreshing rain of hope to wash over me.   These times are really great opportunities for self-examination. I take comfort and encouragement from the Bible during my valley days. I am reminded of the verse from Psalms 42. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God…” and I feel refreshed.
Out next Valley experience was in the San Joaquin Valley. This area of California has been called “The food basket of the world.”  Crops of every description grow on the flat land for miles in the distance.  Table grapes, raisins, almonds and walnuts predominate as far as my eye can see.  A saying on one billboard caught my eye—“Food grows where water flows.”
Like these abundant crops, my life grows and flourishes when I allow myself to be nourished. I am reminded of one verse Jesus spoke when He gave what we call The Beatitudes. “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6 …and I feel restored.
Our final stop was in the Yosemite Valley. The only way to appreciate the beauty of the Yosemite Valley is to look up. Look up at the giant Sequoias; look up at El Capitan and Half Dome and the cathedral spires surrounding the Valley. After being in the parched valley, and the fruitful valley, I long to look up and soak in the magnificent beauty.  “I will lift my eyes to the hills …My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalms 121 1-2 …and I feel renewed. 
Mountaintop and valley experiences are a part of all our lives, but all are useful in helping us become the persons God wants us to be.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Hills Are Alive...

…with the whoosh of thousands of wind turbines.  Five thousand power generators have been installed on 50 square miles in beautifully scenic Tehachapi, CA. Each turbine stands higher than the Statue of Liberty and has a blade span of 125 ft. Put 5000 of them together and they become a forest of steel on the desert mountains.  Quite a sight to see.
Our two weeks of flight testing in the Mojave Desert was mostly “hurry up and wait.” Mechanical difficulties grounded the Air Force test plane and gave us plenty of time for sight-seeing.  While we waited for parts to be delivered and installed, we drove to Yosemite National Park. On the way we saw the amazing display of wind farm technology pictured above. This relatively new green energy is not without controversy especially from those who are opposed to the steel monstrosities defacing the view.
The glorious view of Yosemite is protected against any kind of development and economic intrusion. The granite cliffs that we observed from above at Glacier Point and below in Yosemite Valley filled me with awe and wonder at the tremendous forces that created our planet.  The giant Sequoia trees, some of the oldest trees in the world, stood as towering monuments to the beauty of God’s handiwork. Observing the grandeur of Yosemite reminded us of the first verse of “How Great Thou Art”- “O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds, thy hands have made.”
As we drove back from Yosemite, we saw another man made wonder-the Tehachapi Loop.  The spiral tracks allow trains to navigate the steep grade of the Tehachapi Pass.  Opened in 1876 by the Union Pacific Railroad to deliver the abundant produce of the San Joaquin Valley to Los Angeles, this was considered one of the engineering feats of its day.  We were very excited to actually see a freight train navigating the tunnels and passing over itself as it went around the loop. It reminded me of a snake trying to catch its tail.  

Whether it is old technology (trains) or new technology (wind turbines) or God’s creative hand at work, we live in a fascinating world with lots of new things to explore.  I learn something new each day that makes me want to sing,  “How Great Thou Art.”








Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Don't Buy Green Bananas

My oldest son sent me a list of humorous sayings about growing old.  “I’m retired-I was tired yesterday and I am tired again today.”  “I’m not old, I’m chronologically gifted.” Or my personal favorite: “I’m so old I don’t buy green bananas anymore.” 
High school students were challenged to dress as senior adults.  Of course, they came to school in hospital gowns, on walkers, and in wheelchairs. Unfortunately, for some senior adults with failing health that is the reality. For many with relatively good health the post retirement years can be the best years of all. I like to call those of us who fit that category: Semi-Seniors.

With more people than ever living to see their 90th birthday, what do we do with the extra 25 years we have been given post retirement?  Some may choose a new hobby or volunteer activity.  Others decide to take a risk and embark on a second career. At age 65, my late bloomer husband, Charles, and I formed our company, Consulting Aviation Services. He patented two inventions to change the flying characteristics of aircraft and during the past ten years, we have been testing those devices in wind tunnels and on various airplanes.  Before the summer is over, we will travel to California to visit the Mojave Desert for an Air Force flight test and back to Maryland for more wind tunnel testing. I often ask myself what else could we be doing with these later years of our lives? 

Aerospace engineering is Charles life’s work.  His story of success and failure and perseverance in spite of challenging circumstances and motivated by his faith in God needs to be told. My interest in writing and his life’s work are about to merge as I start writing his memoir with the working title “Reaching for the Sky.” I will start the first draft of his book in a nice cool hotel room while he is hard at work in the desert heat at the Air Force base. His story will be a good companion to my memoir, “Born Three Times.”
Oliver Wendall Holmes is attributed with the quote: “Most of us go to our grave with our music still inside of us.”  It is a balancing act to grow old gracefully, but not fall into the stereotypes that others—even our own children—ascribe to us.  It is much more difficult to challenge ourselves to take bold steps to make the last years of our lives the most interesting and meaningful of all. 




Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Dawg Daze of Summer

The dawg daze of summer are barking at my door. The Old Farmer’s Almanac lists the traditional period of the Dog Days as the 40 days beginning July 3rd and ending August 11, which coincides with the rising of the constellation, Sirius the Dog, in the summer sky. These are the days when the hot weather takes a toll on my energy and lethargy sets in.  My usually productive persona wants to put the brain in neutral and my body says its time to take a vacation.
While scrolling online through several news sites, I discovered that dogs are not lazy and lethargic during the hot summer months after all. Our canine friends are much busier and productive than I am. 

One story from MSN written by Matt Cantor (Newser Staff) tells about a dog that found a baby in a plastic bag in a trash dump in Thailand. The dog, named Pui, carried the plastic bag in its mouth to its owner and barked until the owner came to find the infant girl. The baby is recovering in the hospital and the amazing dog earned a medal, a new dog collar, and a monetary award.

It seems that dogs are posing as models and entering beauty contests as well. All sorts of canines are modeling Doggles - the latest doggy fashion for the summer. This protective eyewear for dogs is a crossover between swim goggles and a pair of Foster Grants and will keep their peepers safe during all sorts of summer activities. Maybe Doggles were worn at the annual World’s Ugliest Dog Contest held in California on June 25th. The ugliest winner took home prize money and received celebrity treatment on national TV early morning shows. 
A friend of mine has trained his dog to be a therapy dog through an organization called  Happy Tails. Joe and his dog, Onyx, visit nursing homes and hospitals to bring cheer to the elderly and children who are recuperating from serious illnesses.

I am put to shame by the activities of my furry friends.  Today I will put on my sunglasses, send a card to a friend in a nursing home, call someone on my prayer list, and look for other meaningful ways to help someone in need. Even though the dog days are here, I will not use them as an excuse to sit around and do nothing.  Maybe you can teach this old dog new tricks after all. 



Friday, June 21, 2013

Deja` Vu All Over Again

The great New York Yankees’ baseball player and manager, Yogi Berra, is credited with saying: “It’s deja` vu all over again.”  De’ja` vu usually describes the feeling we get that we have experienced something before. 
My deja` vu experience occurred last week on June 14 in San Antonio, Texas as I watched my oldest granddaughter, Marcella Davis, graduate with highest honors from high school. Because her class was so large, the ceremony was held in a downtown sports arena.  As I watched Senior Class President Marcella receive her diploma and deliver her parting words to her fellow class members- telling them to embrace the future-it brought back a flood of memories. 

Flash back fifty-two years to a graduation ceremony on a warm June night in Webster, New York in a local sports arena– the school gymnasium. As salutatorian, my speech to our graduating class urged my classmates to move forward into the future with determination and hope. However, the one thing that is etched in my memory about that ceremony is how lousy I felt. I started out that day with chills, fever, and a miserable cold, along with an ugly fever blister on my upper lip. I pushed through to deliver my speech in spite of how bad I felt.  I would repeat that pattern many times in the years to come when I experienced one health crisis after another. 
After graduation I headed to Atlanta, Georgia to live with my sister’s family so that I could get secretarial training and a job. Marcella will attend the School of Business at Texas A&M University to earn her BS and MS so she can find her niche in the world of business.

The similarities don’t end there, when I got home already tired from an overbooked schedule and an early morning plane ride, I started feeling sick. You guessed it – I ended up with chills, fever, and a miserable infection along with an ugly fever blister on my upper lip.  However, some things do change— this time I gave in to being sick and stayed home for four days giving myself permission to recuperate. Maybe I’ve learned a few things after all.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Four Legs or Four Wheels

I am learning there is more than one way to travel through life. Why take the easy way when there is adventure around every corner? While we were in LA (Lower Alabama), our friends invited us to experience a bit of the local culture. The choices were to go horseback riding or ride through the woods on a four-wheeler ATV. My adventurous husband immediately chose to experience all the thrills and smells of a snorting horse. My more sedate lifestyle, as well as allergies to animal dander and hay, sent me running in the opposite direction to the vehicle with four wheels closer to the ground.  
While Charles was gently trotting around the horse track at a leisurely pace, I calmly mounted the passenger seat behind my friend, Erin. The next thing I knew we were flying over ruts and puddles, and dodging low hanging tree branches. I didn’t know I would be the one riding a bucking bronco on four wheels. Look closely and you can see Erin’s hair flying as we sped through the gate toward the finish line. I let go of her jacket long enough to show off for the camera.

Isn’t life like that? The things we fear usually give us the least trouble. Then, the things we don’t think about being a problem rise up and present us with a challenge. This roller coaster we call “Life” is full of many twists and turns which we call “life stressors.” I am the first to admit I am not the best person to handle stress. Research on aging tells us the ability to handle stress in a healthy manner contributes to longevity. When I am thrown a curve ball I have to constantly rely on God’s presence in my life so that I will not fret and worry about things that I can' t control.
 Good advice for all of us as we ride through life.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Surprising Award

Today is an amazing day. One year ago this week, I wrote my first blog post with the title "Bloom Where You Are Planted"  At that time, I doubted I could bloom and write a blog that would attract and maintain interested viewers. Since inception, my blog has received almost 6,000 hits with readers in fifteen countries around the world.

A year ago, I was struggling to find direction for my memoir, "Born Three Times-A New Life, A New Liver, A New Love."  Once I made the commitment to go with a self-publisher, I devoted myself to get the book through the final stages and into print. I have been so blessed these past six months with the opportunity to share my story with so many people through book signings, speaking engagements, as well as radio and TV interviews.

Last night "Born Three Times" won the Director's Choice Award for biography at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference at Ridgecrest, North Carolina. This annual writers conference is one of the largest in the Southeast. I attended the Blue Ridge Conference in 2010 and was inspired and motivated by what I learned. Here is the plaque showing my achievement. 

Thank you to all of you who have read my blog and book and provide comments that encourage me to keep on writing. I couldn't have done it without you.  I also thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for giving me the gift of second chances, so that I can share my story as a witness to His Amazing Grace.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hoggin' & Boggin' & Bloggin'

I’ve been told an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), water, and lots of dirt and mud are necessary for a fun filled hoggin' & boggin' adventure. Charles & I had no intention of goin' hoggin' & boggin' when we went to South Alabama to speak to the folks at Spring Hill Baptist Church.  We were there as guests of our friends, Donnie & Erin Moss and Erin’s parents, Pastor Jim and Karen O’Neal.

Because I’m allergic to the animals at Erin’s family home, we were invited by the Turners to stay in their guest cabin on several acres in the middle of the forest. Susan Turner took the lead and we followed her truck between the trees to the cabin. She left us to get settled with instructions about where to meet everyone for dinner. All the trees and paths looked the same as we tried to find our way back to the main road so we kept trying different routes.

The next thing we knew, we were up to our tires spinning in mud and muck. With only one bar on my cellphone (thank you, Verizon), I was able to call Susan. I prayed while Charles braved the swampy ground and walked back to the main road to flag down her truck. The water on my side of my car was too deep for walking, so I peeled off my shoes, socks, rolled up my pants’ legs, crawled over the center console and out the driver’s side, and mushed my way back to her truck. My bare feet and legs were covered with the brown ooze. City slicker me said, “We need to call a towing company.”

Since Susan and her husband own a logging company, she assured us they would be able to get us out. I stayed high and dry at the restaurant while Charles and some of the locals rounded up trucks and chains to pull my pretty, red SUV out of the mud. The first truck that came to the rescue also got stuck in the mud. As it tried to spin its way to freedom, the truck sent a brown shower of mud all over my car. Finally, a Jeep with a winch succeeded in pulling out the truck and my mud-coated SUV.

Three car washes later, most of the mud is gone from the exterior and interior of the car, but the memories linger. When I saw this sign on the road in Chatom, I realized our latest adventure would make a great blog post. Now, nobody can accuse these two late bloomers of being “sticks in the mud.”  

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Lights, Camera, Action Part 2

Success!  With the help of Charles and Donnie (my IT guy) I finally uploaded the video of my appearance on Atlanta TV Channel 57.  If you are interested in seeing me talk about my book, go to the Interviews tab above and click the arrow on the video box.

The next few weeks will be busy for these Two Late Bloomers. Both of us will speak at a church in Chatom, Alabama. I will talk to the ladies about my book and Charles will speak to a men's breakfast about his interest in missions and ministry.Then I will meet my sister and we will celebrate our 15th transplant anniversaries. Charles will travel for another wind tunnel test to wind up the month. June will be equally challenging. The good thing is that I will have plenty to share with all of you in future blogs.  Until then .......

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lights, Camera, Action

My recent appearance on Atlanta TV Channel 57 to talk about my book, Born Three Times, was a unique experience.  The interstate traffic pileups on the way to the TV station did little to calm my anxiety level.  Fortunately, we left early so I had time to go over my previous interviews to prepare myself for the questions I would be asked.
The other guests on the two hour program arrived and were introduced.  One of the guests was an actor who played Officer Randy Goode on the TV series “In the Heat of the Night” with Carroll O’Connor. He was there to sing and talk about his latest project.

We all gathered around a conference table with our program hosts to go over the schedule for the Atlanta Live broadcast. I asked how long my interview was going to last. The host replied that my time on the air was going to be 15 minutes and it would not be an interview. Instead, I was expected to just tell my story and talk about my book for the whole time. My brain went into overdrive and my mouth felt like cotton. Where would I start and what would I talk about for that long? 
We were ushered into the TV studio—a very cavernous black box with lots of cameras, sound equipment, bright lights, and the set. I nervously waited while the musicians played, and another guest talked about her book and story. I watched the clock tick toward 8:00 PM. The producer came to escort me to the set and pinned the “Mike” on my jacket collar. I wasn’t prepared for the very bright lights that focused on me. I prayed I wouldn’t appear as nervous as I felt when I opened my mouth and let the words flow. It was surprising that the time flew so quickly and I was still going strong when the host said, we only had four minutes left. The host made some final comments and it was over. My legs felt like Jell-O as I headed back to where Charles was waiting, convinced I had made a very poor showing. 

The segment was replayed the next morning on the same TV Channel and I got to watch my performance. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. It isn’t often that we get an opportunity to completely step out of our comfort zone and do something unique. Stay open to the possibilities God might put in your path to tell your story. Keep smiling-you never know who might be watching and listening.
So far I have been unsuccessful in uploading the video of my interview to my blog. When I figure it out, I will post it for your critique.


Monday, April 1, 2013

A Gift of Life

Today is April Fools’ Day, but my blog is not a joke. April 1 also begins National Organ Donor Awareness Month. How fitting when all of nature comes to life in the spring, that we think about giving the gift of life. A butterfly has been chosen as a symbol to represent that life-giving opportunity. The statistics are staggering and change minute by minute. There are approximately 113,000 people on the United Network for Organ Sharing waiting list. While 75 people each day receive a transplant, around 19 people die each day because of the organ shortage. 
Depending on the type of transplant, over 50-75% of recipients survive more than five years. My sister, Audrey, and I received our liver transplants almost fifteen years ago next month, and I have a friend getting close to a twenty-five year survival rate. 
Since the focus of my blog is on discarding the stereotypes of senior adults, here are some interesting statistics for seniors:
·        According to the 2005 National Survey of Organ and Tissue Donation Attitudes and Behaviors, conducted by The Gallup Organization, roughly 20 percent of people over the age of 65 mistakenly think they are too old to donate an organ, while nearly 12 percent believe they are too old to receive one.
·         Your age doesn’t make you ineligible to sign up; nor do you have to be in perfect health. Each person’s ability to donate is determined at the time of his or her death. People of all ages — in their 50s, 60s, even into their 80s and older — can sign up to be donors. And people over 50 can be eligible to receive transplants as well.
·         According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, as of January 2010, there are 47,734 people between the ages of 50 and 64 and 17,689 people over the age of 65 on the national waiting list.
·         More than 94 million individuals in the U.S. are 50 years of age and older. Imagine how many more lives could be saved if the majority of people in this age group signed up to be organ donors.
Donate Life America is the official site to register as an organ, eye, or tissue donor.  Here is a link to their website:
I will always be thankful for a family, who in the midst of their grief over the loss of their daughter, made the decision to make life possible for me and four other people. One of my favorite sayings about transplantation is: “Don’t take your organs to heaven; heaven knows we need them here.” 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Well Spoken Word

For the past three years, I have been dealing with the written word as I have put my story into book format. Now I am having more and more opportunities to verbally tell people my story and about God's amazing gift of second chances. The challenge is to condense my story as written in Born Three Times-A New Life, A New Liver, A New Love into a twenty minute segment. Two radio interviews-one local and one out-of-state have been arranged through my publicity contacts. On March 23, I will speak at a local church senior adult gathering about my book. This next week, I will be training to become a speaker for Christian Women’s Connection meetings. In my younger years, I did more public speaking, but I have become a little rusty and a lot more nervous when I stand in front of a crowd. However, I am excited about the possibilities as I share my story with new acquaintances.
Charles doesn’t want to be left behind and is anxious to get his story down on paper as well. He recently purchased Dragon Speech Recognition Software. He will speak his childhood escapades and military adventures into the microphone and his words will magically be converted to written words on his computer. Then I will tweak and massage his memories into paragraphs, chapters, and finally into book format.

These new adventures will keep our late bloomer years blooming and busy. W.M. Lewis is quoted as saying “The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.” Sometimes it takes much trial and error, as well as prayer, to find out what we should be doing with the time we have left on this earth. King David in Psalms 19:14 penned the following thought which is my prayer as well: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Sunday, March 3, 2013

If Winter Comes

Our area was experiencing weeks of rain—not what I sometimes call “liquid sunshine”—but the raw, cold kind that seeps into bones and affects attitudes. The groundhog hadn’t seen his shadow, but I was very skeptical about his prognostication of an early spring. Since I had errands to do, I couldn’t hibernate. Water from an eighteen wheeler sprayed onto my car windshield, and I slammed on my brakes muttering as the truck took a sharp right turn into a local nursery. Emblazoned on its side panel was a brilliant picture of Encore Azaleas—one of my favorite flowers and the inspiration in May 2012 of my first blog article “Life’s Encore.” The colorful azaleas painted on the truck reminded me that winter rains are necessary before spring can emerge and beautiful flowers bloom.
One of the advantages of being a senior adult is that you can develop perspective on your life. You can look back and recognize challenges you’ve experienced and how they were resolved. Some of the most significant events in my life occurred after bleak and long winters of my discontent. (“Now is the winter of our Discontent”-William Shakespeare, Richard III, 1594.) 

It was March 1965 when I first experienced deliverance from a winter of chronic depression and found joy and peace when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. My long, lonely winters of widowhood ended in March 1996 when I met and soon married my late bloomer husband, Charles. It was a beautiful spring day two years later when I received the call to go to Emory University hospital for my liver transplant. My eighteen year long winter of failing health soon became a spring of restored life.
Every year I gladly lose an hour of sleep when we change to Daylight Savings Time. Even though I suffer through the sneezing season and an abundance of southern pollen, spring remains my favorite time of year. The poet, Percy Shelley, said it best in Ode to the West Wind:  “If winter comes, can spring be far behind.”

All the nitty-gritty details of the winters, springs, and other seasons of my life are chronicled in my memoir, Born Three Times-A New Life, A New Liver, A New Love. Thank you to all of you who have read it and encouraged me with your positive comments. For those who still want to order an eBook or soft cover edition, click on the “How to Order” link above.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Island of Romance

Valentine’s Day is over but lest we forget, I decided to write a blog post about our recent trip to Santa Catalina, California—The Island of Romance. Most of you will probably remember that catchy song from 1958 written and sung by the musical group known as the Four Preps. “26 miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a-waitin for me … the island of romance, romance.”  It was a top ten hit when I was a teenager and some place I hoped to visit one day. Over fifty years later, I finally got to go.
Charles and I boarded a high speed catamaran in Newport Beach for the hour long journey across the sea. The island was shrouded in fog and mist and appeared very mysterious as we approached. After docking, we boarded a bus to tour the island. The sign said, “This bus will take sharp turns, and the roads are very bumpy.” I survived the choppy waters of the Pacific by eating ginger chews for motion sickness, so I swallowed another one as we headed out. Now I had to conquer my fear of heights. Our destination was the “Airport in the Sky.” In his early flying career, Charles had landed a single-engine plane on that small landing strip 3,000 feet above sea level on top of Catalina Island. It couldn’t have been any more death defying than the journey to get there by bus. The quaint city of Avalon disappeared from view as we began our ascent. Around one hair pin turn after another, I hung on to Charles for dear life as we climbed higher and higher. I guess I thought if we plunged off the cliffs we would go together. Now wasn’t that a romantic thought?
A breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean was visible after every turn. An hour later we reached the Airport in the Sky. It was good to get my legs back on solid ground. People who had flown in were eating $100 hamburgers in the small café. That’s a pilot’s joke about how much aviation fuel it takes to fly somewhere for lunch. After a photo shoot, we headed back down to Avalon, and my idea of a romantic time. We found lots of interesting shops and a Mediterranean café with delicious sandwiches and pastries.
I am so very thankful that we both still have the health and ability to share new adventures. I am humbled that God enables me to reclaim the years of my life that I lost to liver disease and allows me to experience some of the desires of my heart. The Bible verse in Lamentations 3:22-23 expresses my feelings. “His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.”


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Tweet, Link, Pin, Like

Albert Einstein once said: “The same thinking that has led you to where you are is not going to lead you to where you want to go.” He was a brilliant man who was never satisfied with the scientific status quo. His original thinking enabled him to discover the Theory of Relativity. 
For some reason, his quote strikes a chord with me. It challenges me to step out of my comfort zone and ask myself some questions. What is my present way of thinking–stick with the status quo, don’t rock the boat, remain in my comfort zone. What should be my new way of thinking–challenge the status quo, shake things up, stay open to new ideas. The first way of thinking is very comfortable and the second quite scary. 

A recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution lifestyle section, tells about a retirement community that is teaching its 80 and 90 year old residents how to use computers. A 71 year old man teaches the students how to use email and Google for information. A group of retirees called the “Geezer Squad” provides in-between class support. I predict those folks will remain mentally sharp for a long time to come. 

For me, becoming proficient with Social Media requires a whole new way of thinking. I much prefer talking with folks or writing letters and emails. But I have to think differently to learn the social media language, connect with family and friends, and increase my visibility as an author and blogger. I’ve become familiar enough with Facebook to read and “Like.” I recently joined LinkedIn and several writing groups that I am navigating by trial and error. I have several requests to “Tweet” and join Twitter, so that it next on my list. To “Pin” or not to “Pin” is another issue to resolve. When am I going to have time to write?
We can’t be an influence on the younger generation unless we learn to speak their language, and dare I say, “Like” their music – at least some of it!!  Jesus challenged his followers to think in a new way and not be bound by the legalism of the past. For all of us, a new way of thinking is the key to a happier life.