So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much!

p.s. my mom now refers to me as the family "chronicler" - getting down all the family stories. How I love that title!! :)

Paws, Claws, Hooves, Feathers and Fins

Paws, Claws, Hooves, Feathers and Fins
Special Christmas discount. Order now for only $10.00 plus postage.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Doing new things and planning for 2020

 I was recently home all day and had the time to submit some of my writing for publication. Thanks to my office assistant, Corie, this was done quickly and well. Having an assistant is a huge help, and Corie is so easy to have around. 

Here is a link to one of the submissions. My poem was published by Your Daily Poem, a wonderful poetry online journal. You can read it here:

I feel much better about things since I saw my favorite doctor, my cardiologist, who said I was doing fine and he found no problems. My arteries are not filled with plaque and tests show I am doing well. In fact, he said that I was far younger than my chronological years.
He encouraged me to continue with my work and doing what I enjoy, but just do a little less and not overdo. 

So I have begun working on writing events for 2020.
I hope to set up writing classes for the summer at Moss Memorial Library. I will teach a four week course at Tri-County College in March. 

For many years I have taught writing and had guest instructors teach at my studio, but I see the need for changes. I will make my priority lists and be sure to save time for my own writing, submitting and promoting my work.

I hope to have more of our NCWN-West members teach and host events in the coming year. The more they are involved, the better chance of our writing organization continuing even when or if I am no longer the leader. We have some wonderful folks in our group, and I see them taking care of business in the future.

Meanwhile, I have a new laptop computer and working hard to learn all the new bells and whistles. I am in process of proof reading a manuscript for a former student. I hope she sticks with it and publishes her book one day.

I had become a person with Pain Brain.
The chronic pain I have had the past couple of years had almost consumed me until my physical therapist talked to me about pain brain. When all I think about is my pain and what I must do for the pain, I am letting other parts of my life fall by the wayside. Pain management is a complex business. It takes more than pain meds.

I have been letting pain dictate who I am and what I can do. I will not do that. Pain is just something I must deal with, but it will not consume me. As I have done in the past, I will find a way to continue with what I love. As a friend told me recently, we are getting older, but we are not done for, and we still do most of the things we like to do. We can't let our chronological age determine who we are or what we accomplish. After all, octogenarians and people in their nineties are living happy lives. 

For the past couple of days my sister, Gay, has been here with me. What a joy for Lexie and me when she comes. 

Look at this lovely lady, my younger sister, dancing at a Showcase recently. She had a great time and looked terrific. She is chronologically younger than I, and  much healthier and younger than her chronological age. 

Gay Moring with her dance partner

Once a dancer, always a dancer

She is a big inspiration for me. We all need to find what we enjoy doing most and just do it. I tell my friends and family who are much younger than I, "Don't wait until you retire, or wait for the best time, just go on now and take that trip or learn something new, start a business if that is what you always wanted, because you don't know what tomorrow brings."

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Grief, mourning and going on with life

My readers know I love animals, especially dogs and horses. My horse, Pretty Thing, lived to be 32 years old and was my darling. My poodle, Brandy, lived to be 19 years old. 

All of our pets except for one, lived to ripe old age. They were treated well, fed well and well-loved. We had the reputation of having pets that lived forever.
But, no matter how old they are, when it is time to let them pass on or when they die unexpectedly as our Nikki did, we grieve. We grieve as we would if any family member was gone. 

Over the years I have made a study of grief and why we grieve more over some and not so much over others although we loved them all.

The first person that I knew well and loved dearly, and who died suddenly in his fifties, was my brother-in-law, Stan. I was about six or seven years old when he burst into our family with his big smile, his boisterous nature, his laughter, and his hugs. I knew and loved him as much as I did any of my brothers for two decades and more. So I grieved and mourned his passing deeply. His presence in my life was far bigger than anyone knew. I think of him as the loving father I didn't have and the big brother who was not embarrassed to show his love for me. His passing left a place that can't be filled. 

Brandy, my black miniature poodle, was the first big loss in my animal family. You can find his shortened story in Paws, Claws, Hooves, Feathers and Fins, Family Pets and God's Other Creatures. This little fellow was a wedding gift to me from my husband, Barry. I liken living with Brandy to raising a wild, but precious boy-child. He was not obedient and was very destructive, causing us to have to move to the country when he demolished our first apartment.

Brandy lived on the edge. When he had the opportunity to take a risk, he did it. The cows grazed quietly in the pasture near our house. They were enclosed by a three-strand barbed-wire fence.  Of course the fence meant nothing to my dog. And the cows looked much to peaceful and content to him. If he was outside his pen, he didn't waste time scooting under the barbed wire and making a bee line for the herd. 

As I stood yelling and screaming at him to come back, Brandy circled the bovines barking at the top of his lungs. At first they ignored him, but, I suppose his noise-making got under their skin. Eventually one of the black and white milk cows had enough. She raised her head, looked at the yapping dog, and headed straight for him. That was the signal, it seemed, for the other cows to do the same. Big heads came up and the entire herd of forty started toward the little black dog.

Back in my yard, I continued to yell at Brandy. Now I was calling, "Brandy, come here" "Brandy run! Run, run, run!"

The mischievous little guy got just what he wanted. Every single cow was now after him, chasing him across the pasture. Brandy knew where he was going and they followed. At times I thought they were gaining and were going to trample him, but he stayed just about ten feet ahead of the lead cow, looking back from time to time, his red tongue hanging out of his mouth. 
He came home just as I wanted, but he brought an entourage of hoof beats from forty beasts pounding right behind him.

I stood rigid, holding my breath, scared senseless, and praying that my little buddy would make it. Afraid to look! I could not stand to see his body mangled by the sharp hooves. 

But Brandy was shrewd. He knew exactly what he was doing, and I am sure he was laughing in his own doggy way.

He slowed down just enough to let the cows think they were going to get him, and then he skittered under the bottom strand of wire with their hot breath on his curly coat. 

He ran around the yard, then jumped up on me. I knew what he was thinking. "See Momma, I didn't get hurt, and I had a lot of fun."

Brandy Beall lived to be nineteen years old, was nearly blind and totally deaf. I found him stretched out on the carpet in my bedroom one rainy afternoon. He didn't wake up.

My days and my nights were not the same without Brandy. I missed him so much I could not speak his name or talk about him to others for months. 

I believe we grieve most those whose lives are entwined with our own, those whose very existence is a part of who we are. Husbands and wives miss each other more because they have become almost one person over the years as my husband and I did. When everywhere you look, everything you see, touch or feel reminds you of your loss, the pain just grows deeper.

I know that Stan, my brother-in-law, made a giant impression on me from the earliest days of knowing him. What made him most special to me, when I was a kid, was he listened to me. I could tell him what vexed me and what made me happy. He knew what I loved and what I did not love, what I feared and what I was not scared of. He approved of me and let me know it. When he didn't approve, he let me know. His death left a hole in my life too big to ever be replaced. 

My little Brandy gave me memories I still cherish and always will. He loved me unconditionally, as our dogs usually do. He and I were so attached that I often think Barry was jealous of my attention to him.

For months I would forget he was gone. I looked for him around me, expecting him to be near me. Then the punch in the gut came, feeling the emptiness when it dawned on me that I had buried him out by the stable. 

They say that tears of grief are just ways of showing you loved someone, and I shed many when I lost my three brothers, my sister, my dear sister-in-law, my parents and my beloved husband.  I didn't think I could endure all those losses of people I love. But I have. What choice do I have?

I have lost my sweet, loving Samoyd, Kodi, and Rocky, the best dog ever.
I grieved more and more. So much sadness, and I still cry over those I loved, human and animal, who have gone on. But each day arrives with new possibilities. 

What will I learn today? What can I do, what will I do, today that might make a difference? I know I will mourn for the rest of my life, but somehow, I found a way to departmentalize grief while going on with living. I hurt for those who cannot do that. 

I hope your holidays will be happy and filled with fun and good memories. Make great memories this year. Don't let petty things from the past cause hurt feelings or sadness. I found that being thankful for my family, my friends and for still being alive on this earth to enjoy each sunrise and each sunset gives me peace. May you have that peace this Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 11, 2019

What we really should be talking about on Veterans' Day

Today, November 11, 2019, has been Veterans' Day. In some places it is Remembrance Day. This is a link to a post about why people began wearing poppies on this day to show remembrance.
 I love the poem On Flanders Field, and this explains where that poem came from.

While everyone is thanking our veterans of all the wars we have fought through history, I wonder if anyone will think to contact their congressman about the large cut in funding for military families' housing? I have heard some outlandish stories in recent months about the housing some of the young families with children have to endure while the father is overseas in the United States Military.

With the exorbitant budget given to our military department, why on earth would they cut funding for housing to the men and women who are in the Middle East risking their lives every single day? I think that should have been the headlines for today. What do you think?

I grew up across the road from the largest Marine Corp Supply Base east of the Mississippi. I heard too much about the waste that went on there every day. I heard about employees who came to work drunk day after day and were never fired. What kind of job does one do when he is drunk? With so much waste, maybe some of the funds could go to help families with housing costs?

I heard from Stu Moring about what he and other vets experienced when they returned from Vietnam. Shameful that we never properly made them know how much we care about them and how much we appreciate their putting their lives at risk. No matter whether we liked or hated the war, the men who were there in that horrible place, deserve our respect and our love.

Here are pictures of some friends and family who are veterans:
Charlie, my brother-in-law, WWII Vet
My great grandfather, John Cecil Council, veteran of the War Between the States
My brother, Ray, WWII vet
My brother in law, Stu Moring, a Vietnam Vet
My dear friend, Ash Rothlein, a veteran of WWII, age 95 now.

                              My husband, Hugh Barry Beall, served in the US Army 
as a German Linguist. 
He also served in Korea. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Old Stories of Wakulla County, Florida

While recovering from a respiratory virus this past week, I had time to read and go through old magazines and look for genealogy articles.

Years ago, I somehow got my hands on copies of the Wakulla Area Digest from 1994 and 1995. Since my Council family and, I think, my Robison family lived in that area, I enjoyed reading the history of Wakulla County, Florida. Freeman Ashmore wrote a column called "Looking Back" and that is my favorite part of the magazine.

Roads Back Then and Now describes the hardships of travel
Having been to this coastal area of Florida many times, I know how sandy is the soil and the woods are filled with palmetto and pines as well as live oak trees.

According to Ashmore, when the first settlers came to this part of Florida there were no roads, only trails made by the Indians and by wild animals. One reason the first settlers settled near big creeks and rivers was that transportation on the water was easier than on land. It was safer to build a boat to go from place to place back then. On land possible attacks from the Indians and the wild animals made travel dangerous.

The early settlers in my family went to north Florida as soon as it was opened up and land was for sale, around 1840. - 1845. Land travel was by high-wheeled carts, wagons, buggies and on foot. As the settlers began to widen the trails, they cut trees but often left a stump in the road. If the vehicle was high enough that the axle did not hit the stump, all was fine, but if not, travel came to an abrupt halt, and sometimes the driver found himself thrown off the seat.

Even the high wheeled wagons did not work well when heavy rains came and made deep ruts in the soft earth on the path. Also, the road makers cut the smaller trees, but left big trees in the middle of the road. For a cart or buggy to get around the big tree, the road zig-zagged around the it. Often the horse or oxen drawn vehicle would hit a stump when they tried to get around a big tree.

Freeman Ashmore told this story in his column.
The mail carrier used a pair of oxen to pull the wagon over the deeply rutted roads. The oxen bolted for some reason, pulled the cart off the road and hit a stump. The mail carrier was thrown out of the wagon. He hit his head on a root and was knocked unconscious. He landed by a bee hive and the bees, being upset by all the commotion, stung him on his arms and legs. The pain from the stings woke up the unconscious man. He sat up, confused about where he was. A local girl wearing a white dress was passing by at the time of the accident. When the mail carrier saw her running for help, (he said at a later date) he thought he had died and gone to heaven and was seeing an angel.

The writer tells other stories of the difficulty of traveling in the county, especially when heavy rains  flooded the creeks and branches. Even though the roads were built on high land, none of the land in Wakulla County is very high and low places would hold water for a long time. People usually just had to wait until the water went down before they could go to another town.

My father, top row to right of his mother. The babies and children on
the second row from front are cousins I remember, all gone now.

Even as late as the early 1900s, the roads were poor and cut through heavily wooded areas. My grandfather, Tom Council, told of the time when he was hauling salted fish and other goods from his farm up to Pelham, Georgia where his family lived. The big trees met over his head and he felt as if he were driving through a tunnel. Suddenly, from a limb above, a panther leaped onto the back of one of the horses pulling the wagon. Panthers were prominent in the northern region of Florida at that time. Both horses bolted.

Tom could barely keep himself upright in the wagon as he pulled on the reins and called out to the frightened animals, "Whoa, Whoa." He feared the wagon would flip over, and he would loose his load. But the panther scrambled away. The horses realized the danger was over, and he was finally able to calm and stop the runaway steeds.

 Travel today, 2019

When we travel on the super highways, the interstates at 75 miles per hour, it is hard to imagine the slow travel our ancestors endured. I am always in awe when I look at the structure of bridges, roads that seem to cling to the side of a mountain, or the entangled masses of highways in Atlanta.  Mankind has come a long, long way.

In our hurry up and impatient life styles of today, no one can imagine taking two days to travel from Crawfordville, Florida to Pelham, Georgia, but that is how long it took for my grandparents to move their family in 1910. Their belongings packed into two covered wagons, Tom and the children, who were old enough, walked.

My father told stories about his family and so did my mother She knew all of his sisters and brothers and his mother from childhood when they moved to Pelham, Georgia. My family history book, Profiles and Pedigrees, The Descendants of Thomas Charles Council, is about my grandfather and grandmother Council and their ten children. To purchase, click on for ordering instructions.

Until next week, happy trails.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Charleston, SC , Middleton Place, Angel Tree and the Battery

Gay, Stu and I spent a few days in Charleston, SC. I had such a great time and my hosts encouraged me to do just what I wanted. 

These pictures were taken at Middleton Place, a plantation created in the 17 hundreds and is now a National Historic Landmark. Here are the oldest landscaped gardens in America. It is a huge place and we saw most of it, but did not see all of the gardens.
Gay is standing in front of the Middleton Oak, over a thousand years old. It has a circumference of 37 feet. This picture reminds me of one where she was standing in front of a giant redwood in California.

The limbs of this oak are massive and the lower ones eventually reach the ground, but you can see that a couple of very large ones had to be cut. 

Behind the tree is a lake and in the background are rice fields. Learning about growing rice was one of the most interesting parts of this place. The rice fields have to be drained several times during the growing season and refilled. This plantation had many slaves before the war and I can see why the laborers were necessary. The rice was planted and harvested by hand, then shipped down the Ashley River to Charleston Harbor where the barrels were then loaded on large ships and sent overseas.

Middleton Place has a fabulous restaurant if you like southern food, which I do. Where would you find collards and cornbread, mac and cheese, fried chicken, ham and sweet potatoes in a setting like this? 
The service was outstanding as well.

One of my favorite parts of the plantation was the stable yard. In the paddock were six Percheron, very large work horses, used to pull the carriages for tours on the grounds. Others were inside the stable. 
As you can see, I used an electric mobile cart that I rented for a couple of days. It can be used inside and outside. I really put it to the test. We did not know a wheelchair map was available, so in some places my companions had to push my scooter up hill and help with steps. They are good guys who made this trip very special for me. In fact, the vacation was a birthday present for me.

Various 19th and early 20th century horse-drawn conveyances are used or kept on the premises. In summer these horses are working all the time, but at this time of year, the crowds are gone and that made it easy for us to see all the animals and talk with the people who work there.

The sheep ran loose and are in and out of the pens. They are a rare kind of sheep you don't find in this country now, but were the original breed on this plantation when it was created. Two pregnant goats were penned up. Guineas, ducks and chickens fed throughout the stable yard.  

The blacksmith works with the same simple tools he would have used in the 1800s. He worked a bellows by hand. He said the blacksmith on the plantation was the second most important laborer, but the cooper was the most important because he made the barrels that were used to ship the rice out to market.

A potter was also working the day we were there. Her pottery is sold in the gift shop near the entrance to Middleton Place. 


This is the Angel Oak (300-400 years old) outside Charleston. The limbs grow long. The largest is 89 feet in length and the area of shade is 17,000 square feet. The trunk of the tree has a circumference of 25.5 feet. As you see, many of the limbs are actually on the ground.  A big fight to save this tree was won and now it is a tourist attraction.

Often I read in historical novels that people walked on the Battery in Charleston and often wondered, what is the Battery?  I learned it is a wall built for defense against enemies who would come by sea. Such a nice place to walk and look out over the water. Markers explained what we could see from our location. Fort Sumter and other historical sites were described. I picked up a book, Charleston, The Brief History of A Remarkable City,Charleston, The Brief History of A Remarkable City, by Skip Johnson and it tells the history of a city that was one of England's richest cities in the New World before 1776. It was then Charles Towne. 

We had a pleasant walk and the weather was beautiful! We didn't visit the forts and military exhibits such as the Naval Museum. Maybe on another trip. I liked riding around the city and seeing the architecture. The old buildings looked like they had just been painted. We wondered if they had been spruced up after the hurricane hit there earlier this year. 

Stu and Gay. I wanted to get the flowers in the photo.
I think the clouds are pretty.

Had I been a better photographer you would have seen more photos, but, alas, when I looked for them in my phone, they were not there. Gay's pictures of the sheep, the Angel Oak and the Middleton Oak are much appreciated.

Have any of you, my readers, been to Charleston area and did you like it? I'd like to go back sometime.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

We need more doctors like Mark Hyman, M.D.

I am a big fan of doctor Mark Hyman, a medical doctor who is not happy with the status quo. He has a podcast called "The doctor's Farmacy."

He is thinking outside the box and teaching his patients and his listeners how to care for themselves. Many of us have learned over the years that the typical western medicine is not the answer for our health issues. Dr. Hyman learned from his own experience what he had to do and what others must do to stay healthy or cure their physical illness.

Watch the video. The female doctor suffers from autoimmune disease and hearing her speak about how western medicine failed her is eye opening.

As we age, our immune system fails us, our body breaks down, and taking another pill and dealing with side effects is not what I want. I argue with my nice young doctor who always wants to prescribe another drug for me every time I see her. I am not as interested in the quantity of my life as I am the quality of my life. Who wants to live a long life and be unable to enjoy it?
Not me.

I have made my goal for the rest of this year to put all my energy into taking care of my health, getting exercise, eating right and sleeping well. 

I purchased a gadget I wear on my wrist that tells me how much sleep I get, how well I sleep and how many interruptions I have each night.

It also tells me how many steps I make each day. I like that it keeps up with my weekly totals and encourages me when I improve. This is not the expensive FitBit. Mine is from Withings and cost about $40.00.

Just wearing this has helped me move more. I, like most writers, live a sedentary life, but now I get up from my computer and walk or dance or climb the stairs every half hour. I am putting my health as my top priority. 
How about you?
What do you do for your health that your doctor has not prescribed for you?

Monday, October 21, 2019

October is my month!

 My birthday is in October and I have been celebrating it for weeks now.
I was taken on a trip to Charleston for my birthday. I celebrated with old friends at lunch on Friday. Today I celebrated  more with family.

It has rained and I celebrate that!
Today I will share some photos with you.

My sister, Gay, dressed for dancing. She has always been a dancer but put that part of her life on hold for forty years. Now she dances  for an hour or two three times each week. 
She says her strength and endurance has improved tremendously and her enthusiasm for life beams from her face. 

This lovely lady is Estelle Rice, my friend and co-author of Paws, Claws, Hooves, Feathers and Fins. She has a birthday this month also. In the picture above we were celebrating her 90th. I look forward to our lunch together in the coming week.

This beautiful horse,a Percheron, huge, pulls carriages and works at the Middleton Place Plantation where I visited on my vacation in Charleston, SC. His color and his build reminded me of Daisy, the farm horse I rode when I was a child. Beautiful coat, and his feet are as big as my cast iron frying pan.
Gay and Stu at the only waterfront restaurant in Charleston, SC. We had delicious fried oysters and enjoyed seeing the cruise ships and boats.

Yes, this is a good October so far. I hope it is good for you, too.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Fall has finally hit the south, and I love it!!

Cooler nights and mornings, and seventies during the day improve my mood considerably. Lexie and I can walk, I can sit on my deck and breathe in the cool fresh air. 

Halloween decorations are everywhere and some are totally ridiculous, but this colorful entrance is nice to look at. I would not want that in front of my door, however.
Barry and I always vacationed in the mountains in the fall. This is a picture of him at one of
our rentals. Great memories for me.

We are not having this color yet, but hope we will before long.
This is my back yard last fall.

Stu and Barry enjoyed riding bicycles at Cades Cove, a beautiful place in fall.

I hope you are having good weather and that you can get out and enjoy it. I plan to spend more time outdoors in the coming weeks. 

What is your favorite time of year? 

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Thanks to those whose shoulders I've stood on.

Quote from Maria Shriver: This week, thank those whose shoulders you stand on. Honor those who came before you. Be grateful for those who paved the way for the life you have now. And, if you don’t know their stories, then ask them. Or look them up. Read about their lives or watch a documentary, like my daughter did. One of the best ways to honor someone’s legacy is to learn about it, and then carry their story forward in your life and in others.

I stood on the shoulders of my sister, June, who would not accept that her only alternative was to marry and be a housewife.
She wanted to earn her own money, make her own decisions and she did. She earned a scholarship to college and then helped send me to college.

June Council 

Without June's encouragement and support, I don't think I would have my B.S. in Education. My parents' hope was to have their seven children complete high school. College was too large a goal and seemed much too far to reach for my father.

June was taken under the wing of her art teacher, and she often spent weekends with the teacher's family. My sister was determined not to marry a local farm boy and work as hard as farmers' wives worked. She wanted a home like her art teacher had and lovely things she saw there.

June finished two years at GSCW (Georgia State College for Women, before she came home and went to work to help the family. Soon she was employed at Turner Air Force Base in Albany.  By that time, the family had a new house and life was better for everyone.

I admire her because she never forgot her little sisters and was determined that we would have more opportunities than she had.  In summer, we spent weeks with my sister and her husband, Stan, who was an officer in the Air Force. We saw a more sophisticated lifestyle and a home with finer things.

At their house, art by famous painters hung on the walls. On Friday evenings, Stan grilled a large steak. Although only he and June and Gay and I sat at the dining table, candles burned in the center giving a soft glow to our little circle, making the crystal and silver shine.  Being there made me feel warm and loved. My sister showed me a life that I could have if I wanted.

Women living today have stood on the shoulders of the women who came before us. My mother showed me how to love unconditionally and how to appreciate important things in life that money could not buy - love, family, generosity and compassion for others. She taught me acceptance, a hard lesson for me. She did not enjoy the frugality she had to endure, but she had chosen to help her husband follow his dream and she did all she possibly could to make that dream come true. Without her, he and his sons would not have been successful, because she was willing to sacrifice for her family. I am thankful that she prospered as well when the family business paid off. 

I have stood on the shoulders of my sister, Gay. 
Her giving heart, her genuine caring for others, has been an example to me. She is an unbelievable artist and has inspired me for many years. Recently she inspired me even more when she decided to get in physical shape by doing something she loves -- dancing! When many women younger than she are complaining of aches and pains, are sitting in front of their television sets or sitting around a card table, she attends classes three times each week where she dances for hours. In a short time her endurance and stamina have grown as well as her self confidence and renewed interest in her improved physical appearance. I am trying to emulate her now. Every time I look at her, see how happy she is, I am overjoyed.

My painting instructor, my first poetry teacher and my friend, the first woman poet laureate of North Carolina, are in the same category--women who paved the way for me to journey on to where I am today. Without them, I would not have achieved much of what makes me the woman I am today.

Do you have women who helped pave the way for you, or gave you a boost to achieve your goals?
Are there women in your past who changed your life?

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

We want to be seen, valued and accepted for who we are.

At a crossroads in my life, I am thinking about what I want for my last act.  What do I want to do with my one precious life? Whatever strikes me as useful and valuable.

In 2009, my husband and companion of 45 years passed away. I had to decide: What do I do with my life and who am I now? I opened my writing studio in 2010. It was the most satisfying work I have done since I was in my thirties. I discovered the teacher in me had never gone away, but teaching adults who were happy to be there and who enjoyed being in my classroom exhilarated me.

Bringing good poets and writers from far away to our little town gave me a special joy. Many of our local writers feel they can't travel long distances to attend workshops and conferences in large cities. Writers Circle Around the Table gave them the experience of meeting someone, learning from them and connecting in a way that will be beneficial for the rest of their lives.

A class at Writers Circle around the Table ten years ago
I didn't keep a record of how many students passed through my doors in the past ten years. Some became lasting friends like Barbara Gabriel, who moved across the country and continued with her writing, travel and started a travel blog.  Barbara is a woman who makes a difference wherever she goes. While in our area, she started a Big Sister group. She is smart, interesting and capable of doing what she wants to do.

Ageing is challenging at times. But most of the women I know face problems like taking care of an ill spouse, loss of a loved one, facing their own illness with the wisdom gained over all the years of their lives. My friend, Estelle, in her nineties, is still working on that book about her life she intends to leave for her children. I spent the afternoon with her recently and brought home tidbits of historical knowledge that I can use in writing about my parents, things I had not found on Google.

Another friend who has lived with chronic pain for most of her life and authored a book on the subject, volunteered to facilitate a poetry critique group. She is a well-published poet and is using her knowledge to help others. She has taken on responsibility in her third act that she did not have to accept.

One of my adult students in his seventies has recently become a columnist for his local newspaper. He had never been a writer or journalist before he retired. His articles are creating interest in his county and town, but also from my readers as I publish them on:
His most recent post was on the Birth of the Constitution.  One reader said it should be published in a large publication where more people would read it.

While this country is obsessed with youth, their music, their morals or lack of, their clothes and all the new technology, women and men in their seventies and older are stepping out and proving that age is not a stop sign on the road of life. No one wants to be discounted because of age. They know they have grown better with age. Most of us finally feel free to pursue our dreams and be our best selves, like one of my favorite people who loves to dance and now in her seventies, she is dancing three times each week and has been asked to participate in a program where she will do 25 dances in one day. And she dances in heels! Wow!!

Hilary Clinton, age 71, and her daughter have collaborated on a book about Gutsy Women. Chelsea used a computer but Hilary wrote in long hand. Together they accomplished a highly praised book I want to read. We can not let technology hold us back. Even younger people are frustrated with much of what we are supposed to know about technology. Some young people cannot read cursive writing. That is a handicap to my way of thinking. They are having to learn or struggle with the failure of what our school system imposed on them.

Adult children sometimes try to put their ageing parents in a box. They have preconceived ideas that an older person's ideas are no longer relevant or important. They shame their mothers and treat them like children. That really angers me.

In a recent post Maria Shriver said older women she interviewed said they feel more confident as they age, and they would not go back to their younger selves if they could. I feel the same way. Life after fifty has been the best part of my life. I would never want to go back to the shy, insecure and fearful person of my youth.

"It’s a privilege to use your voice on behalf of things you care about, no matter the stage of life." I believe Shriver's words are true. I find myself speaking up and using my voice on behalf of things that are important to me,   and I will continue to do so as long as I can.

Do you find that you speak up more as you age? Is your third or last act what you want it to be?

Friday, September 20, 2019


My blogger friend, who lives in Australia, volunteers on a suicide hotline. 
She recently participated in a walk, Out of the Shadows, to remember those who have taken their lives and to let the families and loved ones find a way to honor them. Sue says they have a high rate of suicide in Australia and it has recently been growing.

In the comments on this post, I noticed many people speak of what suicide survivors have said about what might have prevented their efforts to take their lives.

A man said that if only one person had said a kind word to him on the bus ride to the bridge where he jumped that day, it would have kept him from wanting to die.

It doesn’t take much to make a difference in the lives of those who are desperate and feel no hope. Just a smile, a kind word, or simply taking time to listen. So many just want to know someone hears their cry of despair.

But, we don’t do that anymore. Most of us have our heads down and eyes on our smart phones, playing games, checking Twitter or whatever. We are alone in our thoughts, and we are ignoring those who need to know they are seen and that they matter.

I have written before about my delightful mother who never met a stranger in her life. If she didn’t know someone, she made sure she spoke to them and gave them her sweet smile. They felt better because they saw my mother that day – in an elevator, at the grocery store, or in a doctor’s waiting room. No one ever seemed in a hurry to leave her presence.

I often meet people who are like my mother
I am like mother in many ways. I like people. I get energized when I am with other people. Unlike the shy girl who was embarrassed when mother struck up a conversation with strangers, I now find myself talking to men or women when I run into them in public.

Recently while shopping at Wal-Mart, I met a delightful woman, in her mid eighties, while standing at a counter searching for items we older people sometimes need. I heard her speaking and looked to see if she was talking to me. She smiled and said, “I’m just talking to myself. I do that a lot now.”

“I do, too,” I said. “I’m the only person who listens,” I joked.

Before long we were in such a deep conversation that we had to let people get past us in the aisle. She had only lived in the area a couple of years and during that time she cared for an ailing spouse who died.

Before I left her, we exchanged our phone numbers and made plans to meet for lunch. It takes so little to give another person a lift or brighten their day. And we gain from that effort. 

I feel sorry for the younger generations that stay buried in their smart phones and never look up to see what they are missing.
I get frustrated at the people who spend more time taking photos of themselves in places they visit, than in actually learning about and enjoying the experience. I can say that, although Barry made photos everywhere we traveled, we never missed the enjoyment of meeting the people who lived there, learning the history of the land and those who settled there. We observed those around us, animals and people, and took that away stored in our memories.

I began this post with the topic of suicide which is also increasing in the United States, and I will share a poem about the first person I knew who committed suicide. It is sad, but asks the question, why? What might have made a difference?

One Flaw

Her mother heard it from the kitchen
her brother heard it above the radio
playing in his room.

She dressed in pale blue blouse
and navy skirt, silver charms around her
wrist, for her seven-thirty date with Tom.

The night before she skated at the roller rink,
blond hair flying ‘round her shoulders,
tanned legs clad in short white shorts.

Image of the perfect sixteen-year old –
Cheerleader, straight A student.
Boys wanted her. Girls wanted to be her.

At precisely seven-fifteen, she changed all that.

Her mother found her daughter’s white bedspread,
her pristine walls, her carefully chosen outfit –
and Ann, blood splattered, destroyed
                          by a single shotgun blast.

By Glenda Council Beall

Monday, September 16, 2019

Carroll Taylor and Woody the Duck

Last year my friend and fellow writer, Carroll Taylor, and I were discussing the animals in our lives. Like me, she and her family have had animals, birds, and other critters and each of our animals usually has a story.

Carroll writes novels for young adults. She also writes plays and short stories. 

She posted a story on her website journal about Woody the Duck and I want to share it with you today. You will laugh.

Do you have interesting stories about animals in your life? 
I would love to read them.