Come Alive!

By Shannon Boatwright

“No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.” 

– The Greatest Showman

 

I’m one of the millions that has fallen completely in love with the movie “The Greatest Showman”.  Yes, I am a teacher of the fine arts, so one would think, well of course you like the movie, it’s a musical! Anyone close to me knows that I am a huge fan of Hugh Jackman, yet that’s still not the main reason why I adore this brilliant movie.   I have fallen madly in love with this film and its music, because of its message.

 

Just take a look at the lyrics from the song, “Come Alive”…

You stumble through your days
Got your head hung low
Your skies’ a shade of grey
Like a zombie in a maze
You’re asleep inside
But you can shake away

‘Cause you’re just a dead man walking
Thinking that’s your only option
But you can flip the switch and brighten up your darkest day
Sun is up and the color’s blinding
Take the world and redefine it
Leave behind your narrow mind
You’ll never be the same

Come alive, come alive
Go and ride your light
Let it burn so bright
Reaching up
To the sky
And it’s open wide
You’re electrified

When the world becomes a fantasy
And you’re more than you could ever be
‘Cause you’re dreaming with your eyes wide open
And you know you can’t go back again
To the world that you were living in
‘Cause you’re dreaming with your eyes wide open
So, come alive!

I see it in your eyes
You believe that lie
That you need to hide your face
Afraid to step outside
So you lock the door
But don’t you stay that way
No more living in those shadows
You and me we know how that goes
‘Cause once you see it, oh you’ll never, never be the same
We’ll be the light that’s shining
Bottle up and keep on trying
You can prove there’s more to you
You cannot be afraid

Come alive, come alive
Go and ride your light
Let it burn so bright
Reaching up
To the sky
And it’s open wide
You’re electrified

When the world becomes a fantasy
And you’re more than you could ever be
‘Cause you’re dreaming with your eyes wide open
And we know we can’t be go back again
To the world that we were living in
‘Cause we’re dreaming with our eyes wide open
So, come alive!

Come one!
Come all!
Come in!
Come on!

To anyone who’s bursting with a dream

Come one!
Come all!
You hear
The call

To anyone who’s searching for a way to break free

Break free!
Break free!

I mean come on! Wow.  I’d say this song pretty much reaches out to about 90% or more of the population. How many of us live without following our dreams? How many of us do not live up to our potential?  We bottle things up, we live within ridiculous confines and stereotypes, we allow others to dictate how we live and hold us back from our own personal dreams; and this happens on levels small and large. Too many of us are asleep on the inside, thinking it’s our only option to live within the narrow minds of those around us. Don’t be that zombie, living day to day in a cloud of survival. It’s time to recognize that we do have the ability to create happiness and success for ourselves and break free!

Major cheesiness there, I know, I know. But listen, here’s why the messages throughout this entire movie are so powerful…

It’s all about being yourself. Your true self. And being proud of who you are. We’re all different and WE ARE MEANT TO BE DIFFERENT!  We all have different talents to share with the world, different amazing bits of beauty, inside and out, to share with others.  There is certainly more to us than living within the restrictions of what others consider “the norm” or acceptable.

This movie presents a message of acceptance and the fact that everyone deserves a chance to shine. And by golly, if there is a dream within you, one that keeps poking at your gut, mind and heart, that’s the world telling you to pursue it! At some point, you have to take the risks to follow your heart and give your dreams a chance. We’ll learn from failure along the way, but that’s how we create success! By allowing ourselves to experience the things that help us to reach our dreams, we will develop a confidence in our unique beauty and abilities.  BUT, we’ve got to take that step to flip the switch if we want to truly brighten up our dark days!

I think it’s time. Ride your light and allow yourself to be electrified. It’s ok to take baby steps as you redefine your life, but let’s get out of the maze and ride our light.

It’s time to…Come Alive!

Well Done…

By Stacy Thompson

I apologize profusely to the administrators of this blog for my late submission, but those that read my last post will understand…a few days ago I realized a dream and made it to the Rooftop of Africa – and I will forever be changed for the better because of it.

After an exploratory day in Moshi, followed by a tour of a coffee and tea plantation, our group was hesitantly getting to know one another while already beginning the process of mentally preparing ourselves for the challenge ahead…which wasn’t too far from our minds or our sight (the view from our lodge made the challenge inescapable…)

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The following day we took to the trail and began the greatest adventure with three days of hiking, covering nearly six thousand feet and thirteen miles among a background that transitioned from bamboo rainforest to moorland.  An acclimatization hike to Zebra Rock took us from Horombo Hut and 12,340 feet to over 14, 000 feet and a taste of the heights we would soon soar to…

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Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards – Kierkegaard

Our hike continued forward and onward to Kibo Hut – 15, 520 feet – and a ride through “the Saddle” a wide, flat plateau with our destination peaks looming ahead and a light meal awaiting us in the final hours before the final ascent.  Our pace deliberately slow, we could see up ahead the challenge of the mountain ahead while our minds repeated the Swahili phrase “Pole, Pole” (“Slowly, Slowly”) to ensure we met our goal.

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We dined on soup and some bread around 5 pm before retiring (all 12 of us men and women together in the ultimate bonding experience!) to a room of bunkbeds and our sleeping bags to catch a few hours of rest – knowing that we were to be awakened at 11:00 pm to start the arduous climb.  Yes, we were told that the purpose of the late-night start was to reach our goal at daybreak, but in truth the journey through the scree slope is best taken without seeing the angle of the climb (pretty much straight up!) and the distance to be traveled (over 3,000 feet) – exhaustion and freezing temperatures tell the body to sleep, but the overwhelming drive to reach the top combined with the constant vigilance of the Tanzanian guides keep one foot in front of the other until the most glorious sight of an African sunrise is seen on the horizon – as said sun begins to rise, our goal becomes a reality; as the scree ends and the boulders are overcome, Gilman’s Point is reached…

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In the end it’s not the years in your life that count.  It’s the life in your years. –Abraham Lincoln

So Gilman’s Point (18,652 feet) is a legitimate summit, as is Stella’s Point (18,885 feet), however, just a few short feet (OK, about 500 feet, and with severely decreased oxygen levels) away is Uhuru Peak – the real, true Rooftop of Africa and the ultimate goal – I’m not going to lie, the last hour wasn’t easy, but was made infinitely better by the glacier view.  Looking out over the clouds is surreal and being surrounded by volcanic cones nearly overwhelming, but the focus to attain our goal remained (despite the oxygen-deprivation, sleep-deprivation and overall exhaustion!!).  After over eight hours of hiking, straight up, in mostly dark, we reached the highest peak…

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Yes, that’s me, celebrating the only way I know how – by displaying the garnet & black!!

 

Life is either a daring adventure…or nothing at all – Helen Keller

So six years ago my mother decided (after getting her Medicare card in the mail) that life was too short to just sit back and make a bucket list – it was time each and every day to live that bucket list.  So she climbed a mountain, with no experience, with no expectations, but simply because she needed to try and do it.  After she climbed Kilimanjaro, I admit that although I was unbelievably impressed, I didn’t really understand what drove her to do it.  Later that year I joined her in climbing a mountain (Machu Picchu)…and have done so every year since then.  Climbing the physical mountain is an accomplishment and our ultimate goal, but overcoming the physical challenge is so much more than that – even though I love our trips together and the days we spend on the trail, I enjoy even more the hours spent in the stairwells and trails (modest inclines that they may be) preparing for each trip.  The challenge my mother undertook to conquer the World’s Highest Free Standing Mountain was not just a jump-start to a bucket list, but a new progression of a mother/daughter bond that will only continue to grow in the years to come.

Well Done…

As I was descending and had reached the forest once again, I passed a Tanzanian guide with two very well-groomed (recently showered) hikers – as he passed, we greeted each other with the traditional Swahili “Jambo” (hello) – he then asked “So you climbed the mountain?” to which I replied “Yes, yes I did.”  He then asked “did you make it to the top?” and I replied “yes, yes I did” – there was a pause, and I heard him quietly say “Well done” – those two words filled me with so much pride and a sense of accomplishment I will never forget.  Well done – yes, yes indeed.

Healthy Horseradish

By Rachel Sircy

So, I’ve been on a weird kick lately. I’ve suddenly become obsessed with horseradish. My affinity for the stuff actually began a couple of years ago when someone from work introduced me to Wasabi coated dried peas. You can occasionally find these treats made by a company called Fusia at Aldi and I know that Whole Foods also carries Wasabi chickpeas from a company called Saffron Road. I highly recommend both products. Actually, I might recommend eating your own hand if you cover it in Wasabi.

Anyway, Wasabi is a cousin to the European horseradish root that is commonly grown in the US, and my point in that seemingly pointless story above is that I didn’t eat horseradish as a kid. My grandfather did sometimes on roast beef or something like that, but Grandpa also ate squirrel meat and headcheese and he didn’t manage to convince me that any of those things were good either. I think I remember smelling horseradish sauce as a kid and thinking that it smelled like an over-chlorinated pool, so I wouldn’t eat it for a long time. The introduction to Wasabi was the thing that got me thinking that horseradish might not be so bad after all. My first taste of horseradish sauce was last Easter at my in-laws’ house. They don’t eat the stuff themselves, but for some reason they always keep some of the Inglehoffer horseradish sauce in the refrigerator for guests and they just happened to put some on the table to go with the Easter ham. I figured if it was related to Wasabi, it couldn’t be that bad and that was the moment I fell in love with the stuff.

Now, since then I’ve used horseradish sauce sparingly – putting it on the occasional piece of ham or roast beef or even steak as a nice break from the usual A-1. But in the past couple of weeks I’ve started using gobs of it (that is dangerous, by the way, if you’re not used to it) on everything from ham sandwiches to boiled eggs and not just because I enjoy the taste. You see, for some reason my immune system decided to go on strike this cold and flu season and since about September, I’ve had a pretty continuous string of sinus infections and respiratory illnesses. What does horseradish have to do with sinus infections, you may ask? Well, try a half of a teaspoon of horseradish the next time that you have sinus congestion. It’s like an atomic bomb going off in your nose – my face actually turned red when I took a big bite of it – but I promise you that you will be able to breathe easier afterward.

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Here’s the German-style horseradish sauce. It’s milder and goes well with pretty much anything

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I found this stuff at Publix. It doesn’t even have a brand name, that’s how serious this stuff is. It’s just the grated horseradish root with some vinegar and salt mixed it.

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For anyone who’s not familiar with it, this is what the grated root looks like. I’m pretty sure it could peel paint off the walls. Just opening the jar makes our whole apartment smell like it. Tastes pretty good though.

Apparently, the thing that my grandfather didn’t tell me when he was eating horseradish sauce (the stuff he had was always homemade from someone or other’s garden) is that horseradish has been used for years to cure sinus congestion and even sinus infections. I didn’t know that horseradish had such powerful medicinal benefits until I was trying to find an alternative cure for my own never-ending sinus infection this year. In the back of an herbal encyclopedia that my mother gave me, I saw horseradish listed among the curative herbs used for hay fever and sinusitis. According to this herbal encyclopedia, horseradish is high in Vitamin C and contains compounds called glucosinolates that work to thin mucus. A buildup of mucus in the sinus cavity can become a veritable playground for the kind of bacteria that will blossom in to sinusitis. Eating horseradish regularly as a condiment can keep mucus from building up in your nose and causing sickness. Horseradish also has antimicrobial properties that can apparently work like a mild antibiotic once it’s eaten. The glucosinolate compounds in horseradish are also credited with being able to help your body detoxify carcinogens and thereby ward off cancer.

Now, I’m a bit of a skeptic sometimes when it comes to herbal remedies and I never believe anyone who tells me that a particular product or plant or whatever will cure anything that ails me. Once, someone was trying to convince me of the health benefits of essential oils, but they lost me almost immediately when they tried to explain to me that I had to keep the lid tightly screwed on the bottle of the oil because the compounds in the oil are actually alive and that the “living oil” might try to escape – kind of like a genie in a bottle. Yeah. I haven’t purchased any essential oils to date. However, having said that, I do believe that God put natural medicines on earth and that getting as close to what He created to heal us is probably the best thing that we can do for our bodies. I don’t know much about horseradish, but what I do know is this: during my last bout with a sinus infection, I suddenly started craving horseradish like crazy. I was so sick at the time that I really hadn’t eaten anything except tomato soup and I didn’t feel like having ham or roast beef, but I couldn’t shake the craving for the horseradish. Once I started to feel well enough to eat regular foods again, I started putting horseradish on everything and since then I haven’t had any more issues with my sinuses. (I’m knocking on wood right now) So, I thought I’d share what I’ve been learning and maybe help some others through this awful cold and flu season. Also, horseradish and Wasabi just taste good, so why not eat some?

If you want to do some research on your own, there are a lot (I mean a LOT) of natural remedies websites out there that have a deep love for all things horseradish. I mostly got my information from The Reader’s Digest Complete Illustrated Book of Herbs (This book is not as hokey as it sounds. I usually don’t do my research with books by Reader’s Digest but this book seems pretty solid in it’s information) and from a blog post or two that I found on Rodale’s Organic Life’s website.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Until next time, let this quote from Hippocrates to start off all your healthy resolutions. Happy New Year!

Resolutions rewind

by Jeanne Reynolds

This time last year I posted that I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I like to set a few new goals each year.

To recap those thoughts, goals focus on accomplishment rather than fixing what’s wrong. They feel positive instead of punitive. I may not achieve all my goals in any given year, but putting them in writing helps me clarify what’s important to me.

What I rarely do, though, is pull the list back out and check my progress toward those goals. Yeah, I kind of know in my head the big things I accomplished during the year. (Some of them end up in my Christmas letter, when I get around to doing one. Christmas letters: love them or hate them? Discuss among yourselves.)

Since I went “public” with my goals last year, I thought it only fair to share the results. And two things surprised me:

  1. I had forgotten most of the items on the list.
  2. I did better than I thought.

Here’s a look:

 

  • Run a half-marathon in under 2:05. Yes! I ran the Palmetto Half at Sandhills in
  • 2:03 and change. I have to confess this wasn’t exactly a stretch goal since it’s waaay slower than I used to run, but coming off some injuries it seemed reasonable.
  • Paint our bedroom and get new linens and towels. Yes! We ended up getting nearly the whole inside of the house painted a calming gray. Love. It. For those interested, I went with an all-white bed and mossy green towels in the master bath.
  • Obtain and complete at least 3 freelance writing jobs. Didn’t take even the first step toward this, except in my mind. Realistically, this won’t happen until I can cut back my hours on my “real” job. Maybe this year.
  • Lower my golf handicap to 14. Surprisingly, yes! I had some good rounds in the summer and fall, bringing it down to 13 something. Of course with our recent weather I’ll be back where I started, but at least I know it’s possible.
  • Finish the first phase of landscaping in the natural area of our Cat Island home. Hmm, sort of? Another pesky hurricane drained a good bit of our resources but we’re making progress. Unfortunately, a couple rows of wax myrtles that will one day be a huge hedge aren’t yet making a dent in the use of our yard as the neighborhood ball field (you can probably hear my husband saying “I told you so” in the background). But someday … And we did plant four new trees to replace some of those lost in the 2016 hurricane.
  • Take a special getaway trip to celebrate a milestone birthday. Not yet – see hurricanes above. Instead, the trip will be this year to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Rome, Tuscany and Amalfi coast, here we come.Italy guidebook

So now it’s time to set some goals for 2018. I’m going to take a little longer to think about that. But based on points 1 and 2 above, I realize it’s not the goals themselves but the act of setting them that matters. Most of us get so busy just charging through each day, we seldom stop to think about where we’re going. Just taking some time to think about what’s important to me – and what I might be willing to do to reach it – is a good goal in itself.

Remembering the Sabbath Day

By Chaunte McClure

Growing up in the South, particularly in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina with my grandparents, there were just some things you didn’t do on Sundays. For most of my childhood Grandma and Granddaddy didn’t work, rather they spent all day at home doing his and her tasks. Grandma cooked, cleaned and cared for a few of her grands while Granddaddy kept the yard mowed, tended the chickens and the garden and did handy work in and outside our cinderblock house.

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With the exception of cooking, we completed most tasks by Saturday night because, in our house, they remembered the Sabbath Day and hallowed it. That meant no: cleaning (except dishes, of course), washing clothes, ironing, sewing, cleaning cars or mowing. No one, that I can recall, had a problem with that because that was the norm.

Honestly, I’m not sure if that was a religious or cultural practice, but after living in a larger city, I’ve noticed that for many families, Sunday is the day to get all the housework and yard work done.

In the summer, forget sleeping in a little later on Sunday because the sleep you’ve been longing for all week is bound to get interrupted by the sound of a lawnmower. And because you’re sleeping so well, the mower actually sounds like an antique John Deere tractor.

In my household, we’re guilty of ironing on Sunday mornings because we don’t always choose our Sunday outfits Saturday night. Sometimes I think about Grandma while I stand in the laundry room ironing. I visualize her with her hand on her hip giving me “the look” – the now-you-know-better-than-that look. And I do know better, but I wonder if others don’t or because they are now adults they live by their own rules and not necessarily by what their parents and/or grandparents taught them. For many families, I’m sure Sunday is the only day to get it done because of work schedules.

What about you? Are chores forbidden at your home on Sunday?

Do You, Can You, Will You, Have a Sense of Freedom About You?

By Shannon Boatwright

 

“Every woman that finally figured out her worth, has picked up her suitcase of pride and boarded a flight to freedom, which landed in the valley of change.”

  • Shannon L. Alder

As we journey into a new year, I want us to start with as much confidence, hope and positivity that we can grasp hold of. Ironically, as I write this blog entry, I’m quite honestly not feeling very confident and actually have a hint of depression with a side of insecurity. I’m aware of my worth, my skills, my talents & most importantly, my blessings. At my core, I know I’ve got this. Yet, in this moment, I’m hesitant and leery of starting a new year, one that will bring an incredibly busy rest of the school year (one in which just the thought tends to overwhelm me.) This past year there were people I’d hoped to reconnect with, things I would’ve liked to accomplish personally and adventures I wanted to experience with my kids. I have a birthday coming soon and I’m not doing so well with this whole getting older thing. Any woman reading this entry I’m sure will feel me on the issue of dealing with getting older. Though I love the getting wiser part, the physical aging part of the equation certainly has its moments.

That being said, I decided to share the quote above because, well, I think it’s fabulous. I’m a fan of actress and rocker, Juliette Lewis and she recently posted this quote on her Instagram. She’s a firecracker of positivity and I think she rocks. So, in my moment of feeling a bit down, this quote was what I needed.

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Have you ever noticed that in your moments of strength and positivity – you know, those times when your confidence is actually at a healthy level – that you indeed have a sense of freedom about you? Yea, those moments are lovely. It’s in those moments that we’re willing to reach for our own positive change, better directions and ultimately create the change that makes a better YOU. And those moments are moments I think we should experience more of!

In light of a crazy past year, let’s look forward in this beautiful future we have the privilege of living, and live it with an air of total confidence, recognizing our worth, taking pride in our many talents, ready at every moment to celebrate our freedom to accept that the fact is, we totally rock.

The sooner we can see that, recognize that and accept that, the sooner we can create it. No matter what your age, range, size or level in life, take pride in your skills & your goddess beauty, inside and out. Freedom awaits. 🙂

 

Toast the Season with Christmosas

By Mary Pat Baldauf

I have always enjoyed a good mimosa, the classic mix of champagne and orange juice, so I was intrigued when I saw a recipe for “Christmas Mimosas” on Pinterest.

Aside from a shot of Bailey’s in my morning coffee, Christmas day is generally pretty quiet for my family. My sister and I, both single without children, spend the night with my mother. We eat, sleep, put together puzzles, take a ride to see lights and exchange gifts – mostly relax and spend time with one another. But something about those “Christmosas” caught my eye, so I added them to my to–do list.

The ingredients are pretty simple; I picked up the grape juice and champagne during one of my many shopping trips and asked Sister to get the rest during hers.  I chilled the juice and prosecco and used frozen pomegranate seeds. I pre-chopped the grapes and bought sliced green apples and chilled those, too. I also popped the bag of cranberries, which are so plentiful during the holidays, in the freezer.

Come Christmas morning, I just tiptoed into the kitchen and put everything in a pitcher. (I did make a couple of adjustments. I didn’t have time to chop the apples finer, so didn’t add them. The cranberries were lovely, but not so good to eat, so I’ll probably add fewer next time.) Once Sister and Mom were up, we made a toast to my father, who passed away six years ago, and mark the passage of another year of fun and antics as the “Baldauf Chicks.”

This could definitely be the start of a new tradition. They were as pretty as they were delish, Sister and I sipped on them all day. (Mom was dizzy from a holiday illness, so we limited her to one.) So whether you save this to your holiday folder or make a batch for your next winter event, you can’t go wrong with these Christmosas.

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Christmas Mimosas (aka Christmosas)

Ingredients

  • 2 Granny Smith apples, chopped
  • 1 c. whole fresh cranberries
  • 1 c. green grapes, halved
  • 1 c. pomegranate seeds (also known as arils)
  • 1 c. sparkling grape juice
  • 1 bottle champagne, prosecco or cava

Directions

  1. In a large pitcher or punch bowl, add apples, cranberries, grapes and pomegranate seeds. Pour over sparkling grape juice and champagne just before serving.