Saturday, December 29, 2012


I am currently reading or even though it has been over 40 years should I say rereading a short little book titled. YOUR GOD IS TOO SMALL by J.B. Phillips.  I first read it in a Philosophy of Religion class my freshman year at MSU.  For some reason it is one of the few books I kept from my college years.  And yes another quote and thought that I want to keep track of is coming..........

"True beauty always seems to bear with it a note of gentle sadness, sometimes very poignant; and it may well puzzle us why this should be so.  If the beautiful is so desirable and so welcome it should surely bring unqualified joy." 

Have you ever experiences this?  I have! It has always puzzled me.   I've looked out over a beautiful vista and experienced the beauty and joy of the scene. I've been so taken by the beauty that I have wanted to cry. At the same time a feeling of melancholy accompanied the joy of the beauty.  It has always puzzled me how one can be so happy and also sad at the same time.  The seem to be emotions at conflict with each other but maybe they are not.  Continuing on in the book Phillips goes on to explain a possible reason the above is so.

 "Is it possible that beauty is a hint of the real and true and permanent, so that we feel without conscious process of thought:  'This is what life should be, or what it is in reality.' And therefore to compare that with our ordinary everyday experience with all its imperfection and ugliness gives rise to a poignant pain?...Or is it the eternal spirit of man remembering here in his house of clay the shining joys of his real Home?"

 I find this explanation very interesting.  Do we have built into our subconscious a memory of  our real home. Over my year of reading during devotional times this year about our transitory life on earth and our real home being our eternal life with God. When we experience true beauty on earth does it trigger our memory of what was and should be? Is the sadness a longing to regain what we once had.  If so as a Christian the hope and joy is it will be once again. This Jesus promised.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Its another Christmas. I don't have much to say but wish you all a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2012


I mentioned reading THE WALK which was written by Richard Paul Evans in a previous post.  I have now not only finished this short book but also the second in what will become a series.  I don't know how many books it will take to write of Alan Christofferson's journey from Seattle to Key West.  A long walking journey for sure, but an even longer journey in discovery of  the point and purpose of his life after losing his wife in a tragic accident. 

Here is a selection of thoughts offered in THE WALK that I want to ponder.  I post them here so I can find them when I want to return to them.              

  • “Everyone has a purpose for coming to earth...I've spent my whole life figuring it out. ..It took me years to realize the searching was the path. It was simple. My mission is to live and accept what comes my way until I get back home. My real home.”
  • “The thing is, the only real sign of life is growth. And growth requires pain. So to choose to live is to accept pain. Some people go to such lengths to avoid pain that they give up on life. They bury their hearts or they drug or drink themselves numb until they don't feel anything anymore. The irony is, in the end their escape becomes more painful than what they are avoiding.”
  • “I believe that in spite of the chains we bind ourselves with there is a primordial section of the human psyche that still yearns to roam free.”
  • “I have decided on the destination; the path is but detail. I have begun my walk.”
  • “Kierkegaard wrote that 'we understand our lives backward, but must live them forward.' He was right of course, but in looking back on the hammer strikes that chisel and shape our souls we understand more than our lives and even ourselves—we begin to comprehend the sculptor.”

Monday, December 10, 2012


I'm still not into Christmas celebrations, but I definitely woke up in a better place yesterday and an even better place this morning.  I'm even sitting out on the lanai enjoying a morning breeze and some sunshine.  Maybe the dreariness of the past few mornings has been a big cause of how I look at the coming day.  I never did like gray as a color for the  sky or much of anything else.  Grey is a nothing color and it leaves me feeling like nothing.  Boy am I blessed to not be living up north anymore where gray days are the norm rather than the exception this time of year. 

Anyway, life is feeling a bit better right now.  God is so good.  It seems lately when things begin to get "gray" he puts something to read in my path that helps brighten things up.  This time is is a short book I've been trying to get from the library and a couple of weeks ago I placed a hold on it.  Friday it came in and Saturday I picked it up.  I didn't start reading it till yesterday since I knew if I didn't finish reading the book I was in the middle of I would never get back to it and finish it. (A bad pattern of mine).  I had a strong desire to read this little book. I don't really know where that came from since the main reason I originally wanted to read it was it is the first book in a series of two and a friend had given me the second book to read.  I've had the second book for months but couldn't find book one.  (Another reading trait of mine is I don't like to read book 2 before book 1.)  I powered my way through the book I was reading.  It was a long one and last night I started my new one.  I'm already half way through it.

Oh in case anyone is interested the short book is THE WALK by Richard Paul Evans.  Yes, he is the master story teller of short books.  I've read a lot of his other books which were I though nice easy reads and I enjoyed them, but this one is in my opinion the best.  As they say it is "speaking to my soul".  It is the story of a man who thought he had everything and then lost it all.  His escape from the pain of all he lost takes him on a very long walk from Seattle, Washington to Key West, FL. His story resonates with me. At my age I could not think of walking across the country to escape from the pain of loss or to redefine who I am in this new life. I did however drive away from my past life and move 900 miles down the coast searching for a new meaning.  In the book Alan has just begun his journey.  He started out the week after he lost the love of his life. In my case it took me two years to make my escape and I've been on my journey for a little over a year.

I don't yet know how Alan's journey will progress and I definitely have no idea where mine is taking me.  I just know that I am on a journey and if no one else is with me that I have one companion who has promised he will never leave me.  Daily I look to my companion and thank him that he will keep his promise to always be with me and ask that I have the faith and trust to believe in that promise.  That companion is God. The one who I believe put this short book in my hands at this time when I needed to hear the story of another's escape from loss and pain and rediscovery of self.  Alan's story may be fictional, but that doesn't detract from the truth it tells and the hope it provides.

Saturday, December 08, 2012


It's hard to believe that another year has gone by. Once again it is December and people are well into the planning of their Christmas holiday celebrations.  I always loved the Christmas season and I certainly know the real reason for celebrating at this time of year, the birth of our Savior. This Christmas however I am finding I just want it all to go away.  I don't want Christmas cards or Christmas carols.  I am not interested in Christmas parties or even Christmas presents. Yes this year I am Scrooge himself reincarnate. 

Christmases are for families and my family is forever fractured.  Never again will there be a Brown family Christmas as there was for over 35 years.  How do others adjust to this type of change?  I certainly know that I am not the first nor will I be the last to face these holiday adjustments.  Families are fractured for all sorts of reasons and others seem to accept, adjust, and move on.  I just don't know how they do it.  Today a friend who just lost her husband to death said they were told in her grief group that the third year was the hardest.  If that is so and the same is true for separation and divorce maybe next year I will be able to face the holidays again.  But this year I just want them to go away!

Bring on January!  I've had enough of December.

(I really do hope tomorrow I wake up in a better place.  I don't like feeling this way, but I've tried to fight the feelings and that was just making them worse so I decided to just go with the force of them and then move on.)

Thursday, November 08, 2012


At the start of the new millennium the Dalai Lama apparently issued eighteen rules for living. I just ran across these while surfing the internet.  The list may have been put together over 12 years ago, but they are definitely still relevant to today.  I thought I would share them here and also have them recorded so I can refer to them.
Given I love to travel I really like number 16 though I think there maybe more important ones.
  1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
  3. Follow the three Rs:
    1. Respect for self
    2. Respect for others
    3. Responsibility for all your actions.
  4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
  5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
  6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
  7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  8. Spend some time alone every day.
  9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
  10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
  12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
  13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
  14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
  15. Be gentle with the earth.
  16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
  17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
  18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I've just returned from a 3 day trip to Key West.  This is equivalent to a three day trip to Sault Ste Marie when I lived in MI.  What I mean by that is 8 hour drive to get there and 8 hour drive home so only really a day and a half  in Key West.  But it was a very interesting time.

I went down with good friends Pam and Allen and we stayed at a  lovely tropical resort about 3 miles out of downtown Key West.  It was a beautiful resort though we didn't really have time to enjoy what it had to offer.  The interesting thing is we had a two story room which started on the second story of a building.  I had the upstairs room which meant I was on the third floor.  I had my own bedroom and my own private bathroom.  I was very happy to discover I can still climb stairs without a problem after a year of living where everything is on one level. 

When we made our reservations for our trip we did not know that they would correspond with a two week Key West celebration called Fantasy Fest.  For information on what Fantasy Fest is or pictures  you can go at your own risk......People were definitely living out their fantasies at least their freedom from cloth clothing fantasies.  It was quiet an education in  human nature for us.  Would I go back to Key West during this time??????  Not sure is the answer.  We were told by several of our waitresses or bartenders that most of the people taking part where visitors and not Key West natives. As one waitress said...."Those of us that live in Key West can't take part in this.  We have to work!"  A bartender told us "If you really want to see something interesting you need to be here Friday when the clothing optional cruise ship docks..."  OKAY.......we left for home on Tuesday.

In all fairness to Key West public nudity is illegal.  It's just that for them clothing does not have to be made of fabric.  It can just be a coat of paint or a piece of chain link.  I do have to admit though that some of the paint jobs where absolutely amazing!  Not my style, but amazing none the less. 

Friday, October 19, 2012


I am into my second year in Florida and getting close to moving into my fourth year alone as a married single person.  Time really does move by quickly.  At times that scares me and at other times I find it a relief that time goes by so quickly,  That is how my whole life seems to have been.  A series of contradictions. I hate being alone and I love being alone.  I'm married and yet I am single. I don't know how both can exist at the same time but they do. 

I can't help but wonder what the future will bring.  At times I think I know what I would like my future to look like then in the blink of my eye I'm not so sure. I guess it will be what it will be and I will find a way to embrace it and make the most of it. 

As for tonight and this moment I will make my dinner, eat it in front of the TV and well after dinner who knows.  I'm not sure what I will find myself doing but I know whatever it is I will do it alone.  Today has been a day of being alone.  Tomorrow will be with others. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


One year ago today I arrived in Florida and began the process of restarting and rebuilding my life.  It has been a year of ups and downs; of challenges and excitement. I still believe it was the right thing for me to do and do not regret making the move.  There are many things I love about living in Florida and the weather is only one of them.  I definitely DO NOT miss winter and its cold, snow and ice.  Yes the summer had its hot and humid days, but Maryland has them as well.  We actually had less severe weather than they did this summer.  I know they had lots of threats of severe weather since I can't get Montgomery county to stop sending me the text messages on my cell phone.  Currently the fall weather here, though wetter than usual, is beautiful. 

I have been very busy since arriving in Florida.  I did have a slow start due to not being able to find a doctor and getting treatment for my RA for the first 4 months, but once that challenge was met and I got back my flexibility and for the most part lost the pain I got busy.  My energy level isn't what it used to be, but that may have as much to due to age as RA.  I can do a lot in a day or maybe even two, but then I need to really rest for a day or two.  An example is I can go to Disney World and spend the day and maybe also evening walking around with no problem, but then the next day I need to have planned R&R to get back my energy level. 

What have I been doing this year.
  • I've joined a number of "clubs" in The Villages.  Most that I have joined deal with my interests such as Card Making, Quilting, and Disney.  Some are purely social such as neighborhood and church gatherings and a few activities for singles.
  • I have learned how to play several new card games such as Samba and Texas Hold 'em, and have become reacquainted with Canasta a card game of my childhood and youth.  
  • I have read a lot. And I do mean a lot!  I've collected the books in a box to give away at some point and there are currently over 30 in there. That doesn't count the library books I've read or those that were loaned to me by others.
  • One thing I have really enjoyed is learning how to line dance more than just The Electric Slide.  I have spent a fair number of evenings dancing and listening to music at one of The Village squares.  (As of last weekend we now have three free music venues every night and that doesn't count the musical entertainment at the various bars.)  
  • I've made a few short trips to visit other parts of my new home state.  One trip took me over to Tarpon Springs on the Gulf Coast.  As part of that trip I revisited places from the past when my parents lived in Bayonet Point.  Sadly their old neighborhood was looking pretty run down.  But looking back on good times had there was fun.
  • There have been lots of trips to Disney World.  I've gotten more than my money's worth out of my annual pass.  It was a good investment and I have enjoyed the relaxed nature of visiting there when you know you can always come back to see what you miss.  There have been fun free concerts and other events such as Epcot's Flower and Garden show and now its Food and Wine Festival. With an annual pass and shopping restraint a visit to WDW can be very inexpensive for FL residents.  
  • I am finding a variety of volunteer opportunities.  Some of these are directly tied to volunteer experiences I had in MD such as working with 4-H, packing food bags for the homeless, and our quilt guilds up coming quilt show scheduled for January of 2013.  I'm also finding new activities involved with support of military personnel deployed overseas and their families, working with craft classes for people living in assisted living homes and soon I will be working with a craft group meeting in a new women's prison in Ocala.  
I am definitely not bored!  I thought I would be going to the movies more once I moved down here since it is much less expensive to do so down here than up north, but I actually haven't.  Partly I just don't find the time to do so, partly I think why pay money for such things when there are so many free things to do.  The truth is actually probably more that I just don't like to go to movies alone.  If I'm going to watch something alone I'll sit at home and do it on my TV. 

One thing I have learned about life in TV (The Villages) is people eat out A LOT! They eat out before group activities, they eat out after group activities.  They eat out after card games and after golf games.  Church on Sunday morning....go out for brunch afterwards!  Nothing specific to do on a Thursday evening find a group of friends and go out for dinner. Going for an early morning walk or exercise class go out for breakfast afterwards. I think between all the various groups I am involved with I could probably eat out at least 8 or 9 meals a week.  I don't though; too much money and way too many calories.  I eat out 1 or maybe 2 meals a week.  Consequently, I spend a lot of time begging off invitations to join in dining out.  The other thing done a lot down here is drinking.  Booze is cheap in most bars. Most have Happy Hours all day and night long.  I've seen bumper stickers that say "The Villages--a drinking community with a golfing problem!"

All the above said what is my favorite activity in The Villages.  Well other than going down to Disney World I think my favorite activity remains driving around TV in my golf cart.  There's something freeing about it.  I love being out in the fresh air.  I also like not having to visit the gas pump with it.  It's electric!  Oh and I love the cloud formations in FL.  They can be absolutely breath taking! 

I have met a lot of wonderful people, made lots of friendships and am now cementing those friendships which are becoming deeper than others.  I still miss my friends from Maryland and hope one day some of them will wander down this way to visit.  I definitely miss my family members, but they all have lives of there own that they are now involved with.  I look forward to their coming down to visit as well as my going back to visit with them. 

Now on into my second year.  I am looking forward to what God has planned for me in this next year.  He has indeed been good to me so far.  He has guided my steps and protected me when I've needed protection.  He is my strength and my hope.  I am daily amazed at the depth of his love and his grace. I praise God and give thanks to him for all he has done for me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


They say time flies when you are having fun. Then again my very wise Grandmother always told me that the older you get the faster time goes by!  I sure would like to believe the first sentiment is why time is flying by so fast for me, though I know there is much truth in my Grandmother's wisdom as well.

I can hardly believe that in one more week I will have been in FL for a year!  So much has gone on in that year and I have learned so much about myself, but more on that next week.  Today I want to reminisce on last evening.

It was another in a long line of trips to  Walt Disney World. (I have certainly gotten the worth out of my annual pass this year!)  This time heading to EPCOT for a visit to The Food and Wine Festival.  While riding down on the bus I was musing on how I hadn't been as excited about this trip as I had others in the past and wondered if maybe I had been one too many times to WDW.  This I found a rather distressing thought!

 It had been a rather dreary day so far and the afternoon before I had spent standing out in an unexpected downpour watching a parade in The Villages.  It had been a dreary day all long yesterday as well.  I've been to Disney in the rain and was prepared with my disposable rain poncho, but really didn't want to face that yesterday.  Could this be part of my malaise?  I think so.  As we got closer to WDW the clouds broke up and the sun came out.  Disney magic at work???  By the time we arrived it was a beautifully sunny afternoon and the humidity had dropped like a dead weight. The excitement had returned.  I think I had just been sun deprived!

Faith and I started our trip by stopping in at Innovations West to have our free picture taken with Disney Characters, courtesy of  Chase and our Disney Visa cards.  Who would we meet today?  Ah, it's Minnie and Goofy.  I loved standing next to Goofy; he's my height. Then on to the Festival Center.  We just missed the free wine tasting, which I was sorry about since it was a South African wine they were offering, but we got our free chocolate and then broke down and each purchased a small cup of pure liquid enchantment; Ghirardelli Drinking Chocolate.  It was a decadently rich, slightly warm, liquid chocolate bar. I've never tasted anything like it.  YUM! 

Now it was time to move on into the Festival itself.  I had already had a preview of it a week earlier when at a friends invitation I joined her for a special day long presentation on the planning and building of EPCOT.  That event is another whole story, not for today.  ( I really need to get back to posting here more often!)
Anyway I already know the layout for the Festival and that the food was wonderful!  The big decision now in front of up is which of the 21 countries food booths to choose from.  What a dilemma. Not being able to decide, mainly because we really weren't hungry after that amazing chocolate drink, we headed back to the concert stage and the Boyz ll Men concert.  By this time I was into full Disney wonderment mode and it would only grow the rest of the evening.

I finally did settle on some food choices as the evening wore on.  Before we left for home I had Bratwurst on a Pretzel Roll from Germany; Baklava from Morocco; Steamed Mussels in Hoegaarden Beer Broth with a Baguette to sop up the broth; Dark Chocolate Mousse with Chili and Salted Carmel; and a Pumpkin Ale from Blue Moon.  All very tasty and just the right size portions and price. 

Why do I love Disney so much?  I think it is simple.  For me it is a magical place.  It's a place I can go and feel like dreams really can come true.  The sun suddenly comes out on an otherwise dreary day.  People are smiling, kids eyes are wide with wonder, and after a while mine are too.  EPCOT and the world showcase let me travel to places I've always dreamed of going but will in all likelihood never make it to.  Lat night we went to France.  As I sat in the theater watching the scenes of Paris, The Riviera, and the French Alps I could close out the theater and feel I was there.  At Disney I can go to concerts and revisit the music I love and all the concerts I never went to when I was younger and best of all they don't cost me anything additional.   But the best was yet to come. The Illuminations laser light show.

I can not describe the feeling I had watching this show.  I've seen it many times before and loved it.  I never tire of it.  Last night when watching it I had such a sense of wonder at its power and its beauty.  It no longer mattered that I was getting older, that I was returning to a home where I lived alone, that at times my body ached and I don't want to get out of bed.  For this moment everything was right!  For this moment I was sharing with tens of thousands the wonder of Disney and magic of not what is but what can be.

This is why I love going to Disney.  It's a happy positive place where people go to experience sharing in a love of a Mouse and the wonder of our world.  Call it escape. Call it what you will.

 I call it MAGIC!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Easy or hard?

Just it easy or is it really hard to admit what you really think about your life?

Sunday, June 03, 2012


Yes I'm still around.  I know I said I would be better about posting but I guess that I haven't.  Maybe my excuse is the weather still isn't so hot that I don't want to be out and about.  Actually I'm not sure that is will ever be down here.  One of the things I find so different about the heat here compared to MD summer heat is that here there is always a wonderful breeze.  Also most places I go have so much available shade that between the breeze and being able to often get out of the direct sun the heat is very bearable and for me even enjoyable.  Also the humidity, at least so far has not been at all oppressive. I think that also has to do with the breezes.

So what have I been up to?  Still meeting people though I have seemed to settle into 6 different groups and am focusing on meeting and getting to know people within these groups.  Some are purely social groups, others are craft oriented ones and others are groups that deal with issues of being single in a couples world.
 One of the groups is focused on learning how to use Photo Shop Elements and edit pictures that are less than perfect.  This is what I did last Friday.  I have owned and attempted to use PSE for quite a few years.  I could do a bit with it; lots of cropping and auto fixing.  I knew it could do so much more though. Not being particularly "computer literate" I struggled with understanding how to do anything but the basics.  The PSE Club which meets once a month has been a wonderful learning experience.  This Friday I learned one method for taking a photo and making it better.  The instructor said she used it on basically all photos even the ones that originally look very nice.  This is the picture we learned on:

 A beautiful passion flower.  Not a bad picture by most standards, at least not in my mind.

Here is what we ended up with after doing a bit of photo editing:

I think after the editing the flower really pulls out from the background and pops.  Even the colors are more vibrant. It probably still isn't the best it could be, but I was impressed. One thing that does pother me about photo editing on a lap top though is that I'm still not sure how it really looks since it changes with how I have my screen angled.  So I guess until you do a test print I really wouldn't know how it truly is.  You may actually be seeing on your monitor a not so good picture.  I don't know, but for me I am very happy with it.

Next I tackled a picture that I took after Stephanie's graduation.  I didn't think the picture was going to turn out too well because of the direction of the sun and when I downloaded it I was so right.  It was not at all a good picture.  Before the class I played around with some auto correction, but I still was not happy with it.

Here is what I ended up with after the class.  Still not perfect but I think much better.  Maybe in future classes I will learn some other techniques to fix some of the remaining problems like the white spots on her robe.  Maybe I will get up the courage to try and figure out how to fix them on my own now that I am understanding some of the ways PSE does things.

 Ah yes life in The Villages is good on many levels.  I like the weather so far, I like the people I am meeting, and I really like the opportunities I have to learn new things without having to pay for each class.  The clubs here are amazing and people are so willing to share their knowledge with others. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I'm still loving FL.  Loving it so much in fact I don't find time to post here.  I will try to do better.  Maybe when it gets too hot to be outside the house much......

Sunday, January 01, 2012


Welcome to 2012.  I can't say I am sad to see 2011 end.  It was a rather turbulent year; not only for me but so many of my friends.  There were so many losses.  I pray that 2012 is a calmer and more peaceful year for all.