35 Rules For Women, Young And Old Especially For Daughters

Rules For Women Young and Old,

Especially for Daughters.

My precious daughter, Leah, with her loving Aunt Laura Lea, Lake Blue Ridge

1. Make your bed every day; even if it’s right before you get in it. But I recommend doing it first thing.

It sets you up for a great day ahead.

2. Don’t wear ‘holey’ underwear. Ever. You deserve to feel decadent at all times…regardless.

3. Travel light through life. Keep only what you need. This includes people.

One of my sisters, Kathy and me

4. Put butter on your biscuit , and twice as much when you miss me. Add some fig preserves to remind yourself that comfort can be unusual.

Kelly and Megan, Taylor’s Shelter, October 2015

5. It’s okay to cry when you’re hurt. It’s also okay to smash things; but, wash your face, clean your mess, and get up off the floor when you’re done. You don’t belong down there.

My sister, Mary Ann, serving at a clinic with my beautiful niece, Amy

6. If you’re going to curse, be clever. If you’re going to curse in public, know your audience.

Peg and Marilyn, October 2017, Abingdon, VA for Taylor’s Ride

7. Seek out the people and places that resonate with your soul. Check in with yourself…a clenched jaw, heavy heart or cranky tummy is your sign to bail.

College Reunion # 39 Marietta, Georgia 2017

8. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. And just because you shouldn’t doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the chance. Just be smart about your risks.

9. 5-second rule. It’s just dirt. There are worse things in a fast food cheeseburger.

10. Happiness is not a permanent state. Wholeness is.   Don’t confuse these.

Pam and Wanda, May 2017 Lake Blue Ridge Women’s Retreat

11. If you’re staying more than one night, unpack your bag.

Robin, Rhonda, and Susan, The Dinner Team at our May 2017 Women’s Retreat

12. Never walk through an alley.

13. Be less sugar, more spice, and only as nice as you’re able to without compromising yourself.

Aimee Copeland  founder of Aimee Copeland Foundation, empowering people of all abilities to lead fulfilling and joyful lives

14. Can’t is a cop-out. BIG TIME. Step UP. Google It. Teach yourself. Don’t be mediocre.

A Hike on our Women’s Retreat May 2017

15. Hold your heroes to a high standard. Be your own hero.

16. If you can’t smile with your eyes, don’t smile. Insincerity is nothing to aspire to.

17. Never lie to yourself. EVER. Embrace your delusions…and get on with it….

Leah doing one of her favorite things, surfing!

18. Your body, your rules. Always.

 Paddle boarding on Lake Blue Ridge

19. If you have an opinion, you better know why. If you don’t have an opinion, admit it and ask questions so that you can form one.

Hiking Mt. LeConte with girlfriends in the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, June 2016

20. Practice your passions. Every. Day. No exceptions!

21. Ask for what you want. The worse thing they can say is no. A closed mouth doesn’t get fed.

My brave and beautiful niece, Pamela, Mommy to two. Here with son, Roman.

22. Wish on stars and dandelions, then get to work to make them happen (leave room for magic)

My beautiful niece, Emily with her niece, Noelle

23. Don’t skimp on good sheets. Like underwear and lovers…only the best should ever touch your skin.

24. Fall in love often. Particularly with ideas, art, music, literature, food and far-off places.

Artist, Holly Irwin visits The Women’s Extension with me 2017

25. Fall hard and forever in love with nothing but yourself.

My Girls! Leah and Jessica, Summer 2016

26. Say Please, Thank You, and Pardon Me, whenever the situation warrants it.

27. Reserve I’m sorry for when you truly are.

28. Naps are for grown-ups, too. Indulge.

29. Question everything except your own intuition.

Sunrise Cruise GG, 2016 Lake Blue Ridge

30. You have enough. You are enough.

Cocktails and Carols with David Brewer, December 2016

31. You are amazing! Don’t let anyone ever make you feel you are not. If someone does….walk away. You deserve better.

32. No matter where you are, you can always come home.

There Is Always A Road You Can Take Back Home

33. Be happy, say your prayers and remember your roots.

My Mama, my best friend, (1927-2006)

34. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

35. No one will ever love you more than I do

                          Copied, Author Unknown

*I would love to know what you would add to this list! Comment Below and share with the daughters, granddaughters, nieces and women you love.

Climb Every Mountain The Great Smoky Mountains

IMG_1580

“Climb Every Mountain,

Ford Every Stream,

Follow Every Rainbow,

‘Till You Find Your Dream.”

(from the musical, The Sound of Music)

Do you have dreams for the future?

In any given moment, we are guided by one of two maps: a vision map, which is a deliberate map for our future, or a default map, which is made up of our past. Choices made from our default map---our repetitive, automatic programming---DO NOT nourish our flames, nor do they move us closer to our dreams. AND even though they might feel right to us, they do simply because they are familiar. The right questions wake you up! from page 23, The Right Questions: 10 Essential Questions To Guide You To An Extraordinary Life, Debbie Ford

Have you begun to let some of those dreams slip away? Nearly one year ago, my hiking buddy, Kathy invited me to join her and three friends for a hiking adventure. I immediately said yes, not knowing that this past week, our eight-hour hike up, viewing the sunset from a 7,000 foot vista, and trekking back down in six hours would inspire me so.  After my recent climb up to the Summit of Mt. Le Conte in the Great Smoky Mountains, my dreams have been rekindled. Laughing, singing Rod Stewart, songs from musicals, Carole King, and JT, telling long stories, and “unplugging for a time” all served to rejuvenate and inspire the five of us!

IMG_1575
thanks for this, Melissa Chambers! Let’s Do This!

Especially in light of the horrific current events in Orlando, Florida, it is easy to feel discouraged, defeated, and hopeless, too. If your dreams are trying to die on you, watch this for inspiration!

It has been said that “getting old is not for sissies”, and as I draw nearer to the end of my fifth decade, I am finding this to be true. Life, at any stage, takes great courage. Climbing a huge mountain has helped to decrease my fears and rebuild my courage for the days ahead.

I was able to celebrate my friend, Cyndi’s 60th birthday this past Saturday and a friend I saw there shared that she found it hard to do things for herself during this season of her life, with grown married children and grandchildren now here. I told her about the 3 nights I snuck away to climb Mt. Le Conte with friends, and how doing that ( I am hoping) will make me a stronger and more loving woman, Mother, and Mom-In-Law, as well as a Grandma to our (future) grandchildren. <smile>

So what are the dreams you have had in your past that might be trying to slip away because of time and circumstances? What’s on your list, what “mountains” would you like to climb to gain serenity and hope for the future? Our adventure happened to be extremely physically challenging, but your dreams and my dreams can be whatever they are, unique to each one of us: keeping a journal, visiting a historical nearby community you’ve been thinking of,  increasing your fitness, snagging 15-30 minutes each day for some solitude, some alone time, and more. Take a few moments to sit quietly, perhaps with pen and paper at hand, and jot down a few of your dreams.

Dreams CAN come true, like the rigorous hike that five women, including a social worker, three nurses, and a teacher, all in our fifties took on June 7-8, 2016.  Though there are no showers or electricity at the top, the Mt. Le Conte staff took great care of us feeding us delicious, family style meals. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I will use mostly pictures to share our experience with you. Click here to see a cool, short video about the LLAMA Train that takes place on Trillium Gap Trail 2-3 times each week!

IMG_1583
We hiked up this trail. The first 2.7 miles is part of the AT!
IMG_1584
We hiked down this trail. We were able to see the llamas several times!

IMG_1290
Getting started at Newfound Gap. The first 2.7 miles of Boulevard Trail is part of the AT!
IMG_1324
My hiking buddy, Kathy.
IMG_1326
Connecting with Nature.
IMG_1343
A panoramic view of the vistas and Kathy.
IMG_3478
A favorite spot: Myrtle Point
IMG_1419
A fellow hiker taking in the sunset.
IMG_1446
A panoramic view of our sunset on June 7, 2016, Cliff Top.
IMG_1447
Pure Joy pouring from my new friend, Linda.
IMG_1481_2
Lisa staying warm at sunset, Cliff Top.
IMG_3669
Our cabin. The bucket was for the hot water to wash our faces with!
IMG_1489
Recorded on my Apple Watch after the hike down.
IMG_1563
Tho we saw no bears, there were lots of sightings in the days just following our visit.
IMG_7870
At 6,593 feet, Mt. Le Conte is the 3rd highest peak in the Smokies.
IMG_7829
The llama train travels 3 days each week, delivering supplies to the Lodge.
IMG_7851
Almost to the end of Trillium Gap Trail.
IMG_3703
Grotto Falls, about 1.5 miles up from Trillium Gap Trailhead.

IMG_3684Let’s Keep Our Dreams Alive!

St. Louis With Family

Commercial airplane

Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow. Anita Desai

Donny and I took a short trip to St. Louis, Missouri this past weekend to visit our son and his bride of nearly two years. Though the flight was short, the turbulence was worse than usual, causing the attendants to suspend beverage service for awhile. In addition, the landing was one of the most tumultuous we’ve experienced. Still, as we exited the plane, as always, I thanked the attendants, and I looked straight into the Captain’s eyes, saying, “Thank you for the safe travel.” Some of them are surprised by my statement, but all seem to appreciate it. You may want to try this the next time you step off an airplane! I never want to take traveling mercies for granted, another lesson my Mama taught me.

IMG_0456
Dinner at Central West End
The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see. G.K. Chesterson

Arriving at 3:00 p.m. on a Friday gave us a nice long visit with our children, Walker, a Ph.D Philosophy student at SLU (Saint Louis University) and Jessica, a nurse at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Jess is also working on a Masters in Nursing Education. Jessica’s birthday was the Wednesday before our arrival, so we got to celebrate with her! Both carved out time from work and studying to play with us for the weekend! We love the old architecture and homes scattered through this Midwestern U.S. city. We visited them Easter 2015 and you can read about that visit by clicking here.

Did you know? In 1904, St. Louis hosted the 1904 World’s Fair and the 1904 Summer Olympics, becoming the first non-European city to host the Olympics.

IMG_0459
happy Mama

The best part of our entire weekend away was just being together. Whether we were sharing a meal, getting a haircut, loving on Louis the cat, planting flower pots, playing cards, hanging out talking, or heading to church.

IMG_0508
favorite post-church lunch spot
IMG_0466
A cold beer is included with your cut!
IMG_0492
LOUIS!
IMG_0470
“Being a good Dad starts with presence, not presents.” anonymous
IMG_0486
our gift: wind chimes from Pier One Imports
IMG_0460
Saturday brunch/lunch farm-to-table…a “must-try”
PKTR1386
With 100% chance of rain, we were happy with a short break in the weather!
IMG_0500
These tall pink hibiscus will bloom soon!
IMG_0505
time out for worship at Memorial
IMG_0503
reflection for congregation at Memorial
IMG_0513
It is always so fun to hang out in St. Louis!
I sustain myself with the love of family. Maya Angelou

After a special time with our family, it was good to return to our home, even with all the congestion and traffic. “There’s no place like home.”

IMG_0515

Thanks, Walker and Jess for your awesome hospitality! We look forward to our next trip when Leah and Scott can join us!

On a side note, our baby birds flew away and into their own journey while we were in Missouri. Click here to read about some of our bird adventures at our home this Spring.

IMG_0414
Mommy or Big Baby, I’m not sure!?!
IMG_0413
The wreath where the nest was built.

The Disease Of Addiction Is Real. Hope Is Real, Too!

IMG_8336

Having volunteered at The Extension, Women’s Campus, in Marietta, Georgia since its 2009 opening, my heart is extremely soft towards those who suffer with alcoholism and other addictions. Every beating heart has a story, and the more I have worked with these women, the more I have realized that they have the same hopes and dreams for their future that you and I have for ourselves and for our families.

If you suspect your teen is drinking or using drugs, click here for a helpful guide.

The Disease Of Addiction Is Real. Hope Is Real, Too!

Andrew Chalmers grew up alongside our two children at Piedmont Church in Marietta, Georgia, U.S.A. Andrew has given me permission to share his very real and painful journey with you as he and his family celebrate his sixth anniversary in complete recovery!

IMG_8461
ANDREW

My Story
My story is a story of redemption and a story of great hope restored. It’s a story that demonstrates the overwhelming grace and love that God has for each and every person on the face of the earth. I feel like my story is a great demonstration of how God can make all things beautiful, no matter how messy we make them. The only reason I am alive today is because of His grace and His ability to perform miracles greater than we could ever even think to ask for. My story is one that shows it’s only when we die that we truly find life.

Growing up I had an amazing childhood with a great family. I played sports and loved to play out in the woods. I went to church with my family and was involved in all kinds of great positive activities. At 5 I first prayed to Jesus to come and save me and when I was 8, I was baptized. Then the next year something started to change. Because of a series of events, I became aware of a much different reality in this world than I was accustomed to and became really confused and angry.

My teen years I was filled with rage, confusion and depression. I started using alcohol and drugs at 12 and began a lifestyle pursuing the perfect mixture of sex, drugs and rock n roll. My life dramatically changed at 15 when I started using pain killers and taking club drugs. I remember my first time getting high on pills; I thought I had finally found what I had always been missing. I thought I had finally found the peace I had been searching for…

11054880_10206700680578113_6939443041352351825_n
Andrew flanked by his precious parents and son, Landon

For the next few years I headed down a path of total destruction and eventually started using heroin. When I first tried to stop at age 19 my girlfriend at the time became pregnant with my son, Landon. I tried to get myself together as we prepared to have a baby but I could not seem to get it together.

As parents watch the nightmare unfold when their teen becomes self-destructive, they wonder how they will ever reconnect with the son or daughter that they fear they are losing. It is the most helpless, hopeless feeling in the world, and it can overwhelm an entire family with unimaginable pain, chaos, and despair. from Teen Challenge Website

When my son was born I was in a detox facility having terrible withdrawals from drugs. I was so happy to have my son come into the world but was also still so consumed by my addiction. I made another decision I would get it all together that day in the hospital.

I ended up in a longer-term faith-based program and made a decision to follow Christ. When I finished the program I went home with an honest desire to start new but still was holding on to so much of my life. I had an ambition to get it all together and make everything work between my son’s mother and me. We got married that summer and I idealized pursuing The American Dream with my new wife and our baby. The dream was short-lived when we separated the next year. I was crushed when my dream was crushed. I had invested everything into this relationship and this dream. When it fell apart, so did the rest of my life.

I started using drugs again and spiraled out of control the rest of that year. I remember my first wake up call was going to jail in Atlanta for possession of cocaine and then immediately after I got out I went to get more drugs. After my heart had stopped due to a drug overdose, I remember buying more drugs the day I was released from the hospital. When I had no where else to go and ended up sleeping on the streets of a rough neighborhood in Atlanta, I can remember still only thinking about how I could get high. My life was consumed with this addiction and I was on the verge of suicide.

That’s when everything changed. My dad and I got in touch and he told me he had found out about a program called Teen Challenge and that he would help me got there. At first I was reluctant to go, but the next morning I woke up and felt something inside me say, “If you don’t get out of this place, you are going to die.” With urgency I called my dad and told him where I was. Then after waiting a few minutes, I changed my mind and left to go get high again. When my dad finally found me I was at an abandoned house, cold and shaking because of how many drugs I had been doing. I remember thinking I would kill him if he tried to take my drugs. He just sat there and watched me smoking crack and doing other drugs until they were all finally gone. When I finished I put the needles and pipe down and I remember him saying with a heart full of compassion, “Come with me son.”

16 He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemies,
from those who hated me and were too strong for me.
18 They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress,
but the Lord supported me.
19 He led me to a place of safety;
he rescued me because he delights in me. (Psalm 18)

I can relate so much to what David wrote in this Psalm when I reflect on how the Lord used my dad to rescue me out of the darkest place I could have ever imagined. When I look back I can imagine God’s hand reaching down from heaven to pull me out of the dark pit and rescuing me from enemies that really were too strong for me to overcome myself. God saved my life that day because he delighted in me even in my mess. When He saw me at my worst He loved me as much as he ever could or ever will. He loved me completely and with all of His heart. He pursued me no matter how far I tried to run away. He had a plan and a purpose even when no one else could see it.

IMG_8459
Haiti Orphanage Ministry, Christmas 2012

A month or so later I made the most important decision in my life. I made the decision not to just avoid hell or to be a better person for Jesus. I didn’t just pray the sinner’s prayer and feel all tingly. I made a decision to die to self. I decided one day on a loading dock that I would absolutely give everything in my life to Jesus and hold nothing back. That day has forever changed me.

IMG_8466
Tel Aviv October 2015

The next year or two I began to grow and deal with the many problems I had struggled with so many years of my life. One by one, the Lord just began to take away things from me. He took away even the desires that I had for these destructive behaviors as I continued to get in His presence and read His word. My life started to radically change and something new started to rise up inside of me. God started placing passions inside of me and began showing me that He had great destiny and purpose for my life. It was when He began to reveal to me my identity and destiny that I really began to strip off anything that hindered me from walking with Him. It wasn’t a set of rules that made me want to change but the overwhelming reality of His great love for me that filled my heart with a passion to pursue Him with everything.

These last four years God has restored my relationship with my son Landon. It has been an amazing miracle to watch him change the impossible to possible. When I first got off drugs I wasn’t even allowed to see Landon in supervised visitation. Today I have joint custody and have an amazing relationship with his mom and their family. God has taken the most broken of situations and has mended it into something better than I ever could have imagined.

11745943_10206836535941652_3616794178398357446_nGod has also given me opportunities to travel and do things I never thought would be possible. I have been able to do mission work in South Africa, Trinidad, Haiti, Canada and Europe. He has also given me a chance to travel all over the U.S. and share about all He has done for me. He has given me so many amazing friends and has restored my relationship with my family. He has healed me of all depression, anxiety and ADD. He has completely taken away my desire to take drugs, drink or even smoke cigarettes. He has replaced my suicidal thoughts with a life full of passion, hope and joy. When I chose to die completely and give Him everything I got so much more in return. He has given me a life of abundance.

My life’s mission is to abide in Christ’s love in such a way that others are inspired to pursue God with reckless abandonment and that my life would burn so passionately for God that it would set countless others on fire for Him.

IMG_8464
Andrew Chalmers looks ahead to a positive, hopeful future…

A Resource List:

The Addiction Recovery GuideIMG_8478

Teen Challenge USA

The Extension: life*worth*recovery

Addiction Recovery

National Institute on Drug Abuse

the fix: Addiction and Recovery, Straight Up

Celebrate Recovery: A Christ-Centered Recovery Program

Davis Direction Foundation

Brazil Bound

IMG_6720
HAPPY HALLOWEEN BIRTHDAY TO MY SIS, KATHY!

Commercial airplane

I am Brazil Bound! Tonight I will be flying all night to Rio de Janeiro, arriving on Saturday morning, October 31, 2015. Our team of 10, including my sis, Mary Ann and her husband, Jim, from Piedmont Church will be joining another team from the U.S. to minister to the poor who live in a favela community there in Rio.[pullquote] When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” 
Matthew 25:39-40 [/pullquote] Since 2003, this will be my 6th trip to Rio, thanks to my niece, Amy, who was a medical missionary there for several years before marrying her love, Stephen, and settling down in Tennessee with their first-born, Noah Ray. Our family of four served together in Rio in 2005. [pullquote]If you truly believe in the value of life, you care about all of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.” Joni Eareckson Tada[/pullquote]

IMG_6701
A long line for the clinic begins forming the night before. (2004)

Did you know? The 2016 Summer Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!

On this 2015 trip, in addition to holding our usual free Medical Clinic which includes vision, dental, medical, and a pharmacy, we will be working in a school with about fifty students, playing games, telling them stories, and doing art projects. Pictured below are just some of the children I got to meet in Rio in past visits.

IMG_6691 IMG_6696 IMG_6697 IMG_6690Mainly, we will be simply loving on these kids who are offsprings of prostitutes and drug dealers in Rio. Having an Elementary Education background, I am especially excited to be serving the children of Rio in this way.

IMG_6699
The school where we will be working in Rio.
IMG_6700
The school where we will be working in Rio.
IMG_6723
Our Portuguese Coloring Book to Use With our Kids!
IMG_6687
Our family at the Christ Statue, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2005.

Once you’ve been bitten by “the mission bug”, you are forever changed and you will find yourself looking for ways to make a difference, wherever you may find yourself, while you are still here on the earth. [pullquote]How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank[/pullquote]Many jobs and careers are service oriented.  Whether in the U.S. or abroad, there are needs that we can meet.

IMG_6698
A young patient snuggles with a Happy Tails Volunteer.

IMG_6722

Like some of my girlfriends, your ‘difference opportunity’ may be volunteering with an organization called Happy Tails Pet Therapy, reaching out to work in a soup kitchen, sorting items in a clothes closet, art therapy with folks who are overcoming their addictions, or visiting the ill who are in the hospital. [pullquote]Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”    James M. Barrie [/pullquote]If you are homebound, you might send greeting cards to the list of sick folks from your church. In addition, check with local churches and see what mission trips in the U.S. or abroad might be in the works.  The Matt B. Dyas Memorial Golf Scholarship Fund made a contribution towards art supplies for the students we’ll be serving and we so appreciate their support in honor of their son, Matt, who loved Mission Trips. People are willing to financially support those who go, if they cannot go. And always remember the significance and the importance of the ministry of praying.  Encouraging someone who cannot return the favor effects us in an extraordinary way. You will be surprised by the positive impact this will have on your life journey.

IMG_6675

As we reach out with a grateful heart to someone who is in need, OUR lives are forever changed, and hopefully we have helped to change their life, too, if only in a small way.

Our team covets your prayer support while we are gone and I’ll look forward to resuming my Pages upon my return to America on Sunday, November 8, 2015.

Two open hands in the sky with a sphere of light, symbol of gratefulness and gratitude.

How might you and I reach out to

someone in need in the days ahead?

The Hospitality Of Gander, Newfoundland After 9/11

IMG_1903As we see another of anniversary 9/11 come to a close, recalling all the incredibly sad details of it, my friend, Echo, shared a story on her Facebook page that is sure to life your spirits. I have never heard it before. Maybe it will be new to you, as well. Please enjoy this inspiring story from a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15, written following 9-11, and if at all possible, read to the very end for an extraordinary finish :

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic. All of a sudden the curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to see the captain. As soon as I got there I noticed that the crew had that “All Business” look on their faces. The captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta’s main office in Atlanta and simply read, “All airways over the Continental United States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest airport. Advise your destination.”

No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander, Newfoundland. He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic controller  and approval was granted immediately — no questions asked. We found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving our request.

While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area. A few minutes later word came in about the hijackings. We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed to land at the nearest airport in Gander, Newfoundland, to have it checked out.
We promised to give more information after landing in Gander. There was much grumbling among the passengers, but that’s nothing new! Forty minutes later, we landed in Gander. Local time at Gander was 12:30 PM …. that’s 11:00 AM EST.

There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the
world that had taken this detour on their way to the US. After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have. The reality is that we are here for another reason.” Then he went on to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the US. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed passengers that Ground control in Gander told us to stay put.

The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come near any of the air crafts. Only airport police would come around periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane.

In the next hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes from all over the world, 27 of which were US commercial jets. Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC.

People were trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in Canada . Some did get through, but were only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed.

Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm.
We had only to look out the window at the 52 other stranded aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament.
We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes one plane at a time. At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would be 11 am the next morning. Passengers were not happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the airplane. Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and lavatory servicing.And they were true to their word.

Fortunately, we had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements. About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red Cross.

After that we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were taken in vans to a small hotel.

We had no idea where our passengers were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander! We were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the US airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a while.

We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.

Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people of Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the “plane people.” We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up having a pretty good time. Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander airport. Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and found out what they had been doing for the past two days.
What we found out was incredible…..
Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75 Kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers.
Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.
ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the “guests.”

Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged.

Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes.

Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration.

Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day.

During the day, passengers were offered “Excursion” trips. Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors. Some went for hikes in the local forests. Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests.

Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft.

In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers.
Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when they were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late. The local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving. They coordinated everything beautifully.
It was absolutely incredible.

When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise. Everyone knew each other by name. They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had the better time.

Our flight back to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight. The crew just stayed out of their way. It was mind-boggling.

Passengers had totally bonded and were calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.
And then a very unusual thing happened.

One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA system. We never, ever allow that. But this time was different. I said “of course” and handed him the mike. He picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days.

He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers.
He continued by saying that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of Lewisporte.

“He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte.

He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!

“The gentleman, a MD from Virginia , promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well.

As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134 students in college education.

IMG_1002

Pretty cool story, huh.

It reminds us of how many helpful and kind people

there are in the world. Sadly, often, the ones who aren’t

helpful just get a lot more press.

The “Plane People” even returned to thank Gander one decade after their gift of kindness and hospitality was displayed for the entire world to see. Click Here to read about that poignant reunion on September 11, 2011.

Related Posts You May Have Missed:

Memorial Day: Three Ways To Raise Up The Flag

Humble And Kind

Man’s Best Friend

Memorial Day And Veteran’s Day: Know The Difference

Five Lessons From A Horse

IMG_5067

IMG_4992
MEET SCRAPPY as he munches on a snack!

This past Saturday, August 1, 2015, on my fifty-seventh (as in 5-7) birthday, I had the chance to ride a horse for over three hours in the magnificent Rockies!  Some may wonder why I would give out that number, but it is mainly because it is just that, a number and my Mama taught me that “Age is just a matter of the mind, if you don’t mind it does not matter!”

Steve, an Estes Park, Colorado resident and dear friend for decades was our wrangler. From the time I mounted “Scrappy”, to hours later, I was enamored and impressed by this magnificent animal that carried me safely to the top of many mountains. The terrain was even rockier and dustier than usual because of a lack of rain, still, Scrappy did his work and provided me with a beautiful ride. I learned a lot just by being with him all morning!

IMG_4997
Steve and Donny

Did you know? The horses’ senses are based on their status as prey animals, where they must be aware of their surroundings at all times. They have the largest eyes of any land mammal, and are lateral-eyed, meaning that their eyes are positioned on the sides of their heads. This means that horses have a range of vision of more than 350°, with approximately 65° of this being binocular vision and the remaining 285° monocular vision.

LESSON ONE: This reminds me to look around, be aware, live in the moment, like a horse does.

Did you know? Horses are herbivores with a digestive system adapted to a forage diet of grasses and other plant material, consumed steadily throughout the day. With such an adventurous summer, Donny and I have been wanting to move towards a healthier and more natural diet, too. <smile>

LESSON TWO: Less meat, more plants, veggies, fruits. Horses inspire us to do just that.

IMG_5002
Three gals I am blessed to do life with, Jan, Jane Ellen, and Ev.

Did you know? Wild horses generally gather in groups of 3 to 20 animals.

IMG_4926
Cindy, the 4th friend on this trip whom I love doing life with!

LESSON THREE: Just like these horses that hang together, doing life with good friends, family, and neighbors is imperative for a fulfilling life. We all need time alone, but we need each other, too!

11707726_10206992581155387_7744533951488774089_o
While Jonah rides, he gains the courage he needs for his life journey.

Did you know? More and more horses are being used for equine-assisted therapies. It has been clinically documented that just being around horses changes human brainwave patterns. We calm down and become more centered and focused when we are with horses. Horses are naturally empathetic. The members of the herd feel what is going on for the other members of the herd. Jonah’s (pictured above) Mom shared with me: “Jonah simply adores horses and riding. This particular day, his OT had the horse ‘trot’ to help teach Jonah to utilize core muscles and to be prepared for the unexpected. Naturally, in our faith in God, HE ‘shakes’ things up once in awhile. We may not like it, but as in Jonah’s case, maybe HE is strengthening us for something bigger than what we consider ‘purposeful’ in the present. We always need to be on guard and be willing to take the reins and hold on!”

LESSON FOUR: This reminds me of the importance of being a compassionate, an empathic human in the time I have here on this earth.

I cannot tell you why, but this reminds me of one of my favorite songs of which you might want to have a listen, if so, click HERE.

IMG_5030
Scrappy looks down to determine the best way to face the obstacles in his path.

“If you are fearful, a horse will back off. If you are calm and confident, it will come forward. For those who are often flattered or feared, the horse can be a welcome mirror of the best in human nature.”

Clare Balding, retired amateur jockey

IMG_5064
Scrappy and me on August 1, 2015.

LIFE IS HARD and OBSTACLES come up unexpectedly, and this ride was a great example of how to respond to obstacles in your path. Scrappy and the other horses with us had to be alert to all kinds of rocks, big and small in their way. It was astonishing how strong they were as they made their ways through the Rocky Mountains!

LESSON FIVE: Scrappy inspires me to stay strong, devoted, and committed even when times are rough.

How about you?

I hope one or more of these lessons

I have shared here with you will encourage

you to enjoy an even more inspiring life today.

Fantastic Festive FRANCE

IMG_4193
On the train from Villefranche to Nice, France.

Arriving in the Port of Villefranche-sur-mer, France at 7 a.m. on Monday, June 29, 2015, Jess and Leah had been researching and made a plan for our day in the magical French Riviera. After taking a short tender boat ride to the land, we set off to find the train station. Taking a six-minute train ride to Nice, France, we started our walking adventure—which in the end tallied up over 15,000 steps on my pedometer!

Many have been asking me what my favorite spot was and when my friend, Mary, from both Fernbank Elementary & Druid Hills High asked me that same question, I told her about this place in the French Riviera. I squealed with delight when she shared with me that she and her family of four had stayed in Villefranche-sur-Mer for a full week back in June 2010 in a VRBO apartment they had rented which looked over the Mediterranean. I knew her family had visited Paris, France on that special trip celebrating their younger son’s high school graduation, their older son’s college graduation, and her husband’s milestone birthday, but I did not realize that they also stayed here in this most magical place for a full week! Now, I want to go back and stay there for a bit, not just for a day!

IMG_4197
A view from a table on this quaint and stunning island in the French Riviera: Villefranche-sur-mer, France
IMG_4163
Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
IMG_4159
Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

As the fifth largest city in France, we all agreed that Nice was even busier and more urban than we expected. Still, with the sparkling Mediterranean tides only steps away at any point, Nice strikes an engaging balance between historic grace, port-town excitement, and high culture. Part of Leah and Jessica’s plan was for us to walk up the stairs at Castle Hill. This was recommended both online in reviews they had read and by friends who had traveled to Nice. While this was quite a hike, I am so glad we made the effort because the pay-off was an incredible viewing of the harbor and the beach as you can see in our selfie-stick group picture here. Free elevators are also available if needed. After our walk, we enjoyed a French lunch at one of the many sidewalk cafes.

IMG_4436_2
Our view from the top of Castle Hill!
IMG_4191
Strolling through Nice, France
IMG_4171
Donny is happy, happy, happy in Nice, France!
IMG_4178
My Nicoise Salad in Nice, France. YUM!
[pullquote]

In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport.”

Julia Child

[/pullquote]

After walking all over Nice, we headed back to Villefranche. Once there, we split up, going our separate ways and I found a small ocean front cafe, named “Beluga,” to try to connect on WiFi so I could check on Donny’s Dad, back at home. Thankfully, our sis, Mary Ann and her husband Jim were available to check on him, and even took one of their grandsons for a visit while we were away. Sitting on an outdoor sofa, I was able to text message with Mary Ann while I sipped on a fresh watermelon mojito, overlooking the dazzling bluish-green Mediterranean Sea.

Back on the ship, the six of us enjoyed a delicious sushi dinner at the Asian cuisine restaurant on board, Silk Harvest.

Our ship departed Villefranche-sur-Mer Port at 7:00 p.m. sharp headed to our next stop in the stunning French Riviera, Ajaccio, Corsica, France 135 nautical miles away.

Again, the six of us went on our own self-guided tour as we strolled around the markets and streets of this seaside town. Ajaccio is a commune on the island of Corsica in France. It is the capital and largest city of the region of Corsica and the location of the government for Corse-du-Sud. Ajaccio is a magical Mediterranean town that has intrigued voyagers for centuries.

IMG_4215
Entrance to the National Museum of the Bonaparte Residence

The big question is: “Why did Napoleon ever leave?” It is a question often asked by people visiting Ajaccio, the birthplace of Bonaparte, and after taking in its beauty, our group of six asked the same question. In Ajaccio, you will find the impressive Ajaccio Cathedral, which dates back to 1582 and is where Napoleon was baptized in 1771. We all enjoyed going through the National Museum of the Bonaparte Residence, although we were disappointed that there was no English interpretation throughout the museum. After the museum stop, we headed to the beach to cool off. What a beautiful place to sit and relax for a bit before heading back to the ship.IMG_4225

IMG_4176
“The Beach” in the French Riviera!
IMG_4226
A view from where we were sitting on the beach on the island of Corsica, France

All in all, our visit to France was fantastic, festive, and truly unforgettable!

Our ship set sail at 6:00 p.m. making its way to our final of three countries: Spain.

IMG_4201
A view of our ship for the tender boat which took us to the port of Villefranche-sur-Mer
IMG_4257
Back on the ship again enjoying the Lawn area with Jessica and Walker
IMG_4265
Donny takes in the sunset from the ship….spectacular!

Thanks for coming along on our June 29-30, 2015 French Riveria adventure!

My next post will be all about our last country to visit:

Splendid Serendipitous Spain.

You can read about our adventures in Italy here

How To Respond To Travel Stress

IMG_4014

“Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition – such as lifting weights – we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.”

Stephen Covey, (1932-2012) Author  of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

One of my favorite books that I find myself referring to again and again is Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This book came to mind again on the first full day of our recent trip abroad.

After a two-hour delay at the Atlanta International Terminal, followed by an all night flight to Rome, Italy, paired with a six-hour time change, our first stop was to the Baggage Claim area to collect our many bags. It didn’t take long to discover that Leah’s green Nine West checked bag had been taken by another passenger by accident, while leaving an identical bag behind. Leah and I made our way to the Lost and Found counter to speak with representatives who knew very little English. “Switch!”, “Switch!”, they kept saying loudly to each other as they waved their hands while smiling encouragingly at us. Copying our Celebrity Equinox Cruise Itinerary, they promised to keep making attempts to track Leah’s bag as we left the airport with our driver.

Understandably frustrated, Leah vowed to not allow these circumstances to damper her excitement about our adventure. This made me think of Chuck Swindoll’s famous writing on Attitude:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

More than 50 hours later, when Leah’s suitcase was finally delivered to their cabin on the ship, Jessica suggested we raise our glasses and toast Leah at dinner for staying positive as she awaited the arrival of most of the clothes/shoes she had packed for our trip. WE all agreed wholeheartedly!

IMG_4072
Leah shops for undies in Florence, Italy.

During this experience of traveling inconvenience, I thought of a few  good things to remember :

  • Mark all checked suitcases well. While Leah’s was marked with an ID tag, it was still taken by accident. Let’s all double-check all bags before walking away from baggage claim. We couldn’t believe this other party actually left the airport before they realized they had picked up a bag marked with someone else’s name.
  • Things don’t always turn out the way you hope or expect. While this (in the grand scheme of things)turnedoutto be more of an inconvenience than a major obstacle, our attitude and responsereallycanmake a difference in how we walk through the circumstances. If Leah had chosen to have a full-out negative response about this missing bag,thiscould’ve rippled out among our group of six. Instead, Leah made a choice to say, “Oh well, hopefully this will work out soon.” and then move on to the fun of our CruisingAdventurethatwas scheduled to begin that day in Rome, Italy at 5:00 p.m.
    IMG_4395
    Our Itinerary. Even though Leah wasn’t sure if her suitcase would ever be returned to her, she made an intentional decision to carry on, looking ahead to the amazing adventure that was before us.
  • Even in trying circumstances and especially when there is a language barrier, it is good to remember that ALL PEOPLE SMILE IN THE SAME LANGUAGE. So when we make an intentional choice to smile through our challenges,ourresponsecan be contagious and may lead to more smiles, no matter what language one may speak.
    While it is common to see a black suitcase on the baggage claim turnstile, it is less common to see a black suitcase with a wide hot pink strap around it.
    This green and gold bow tied tightly around a handle serves as an “ID” for a weary transatlantic traveler looking for a bag on the turnstile.
    IMG_4293
    Thank goodness Leah’s suitcase arrived in time for her to wear Scott’s favorite dress to dinner one night.

    Do you mark your suitcase in some special way

    before you head out for a trip on a plane?

    If not, why not?

    How do you respond when things don’t go as you hoped or planned?

    Have you heard of Swindoll’s writing on Attitude?

    Will reading it impact how you may

    consider your own attitude in the future?

    It has been noted that Swindoll wrote this after he noticed his growing testy, argumentative attitude towards his young children and wife. He knew that if he didn’t give himself an attitude adjustment regarding his four children, he stood the chance of alienating them from himself, later becoming a lonely, bitter, and crotchety old man.

    Are you and I in need of an attitude adjustment?Let's Start

  • “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything. Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:2-4; 12