Archive | May 2014

Mind the Gap

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If you have ever been to London, you might recognize that phrase. It’s the painted sign warning you to not step in the empty space between the subway train door and the platform. In the hotel where I am staying, a female voice admonishes me to “please mind the door”. I enjoy that one and wonder what the elevator door is trying to instruct me to do. And what will happen if I disobey?

We visited Hampton Court Palace today outside of London. It seems that Henry VIII expected folks to obey him, too. Here’s a sign that was posted in his quarters…

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Here’s another sign that was posted there by more contemporary authorities. This one is even more scary. I sure won’t be disobeying it!

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And finally, here is a welcome sign I was happy to see. In the States we would call this an exit sign, but I rather like the English for giving me a way out.

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All in all, I am really loving my visit to Great Britain. And I think the English sayings and signs are well said. After all, they did invent the language.

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“I love this place so much”

We are not all fortunate enough to live in places that we love. I am not talking about the actual apartment or house or dwelling, but the place itself. I am referring to the surroundings and the general area.

I started thinking about this topic this morning when I read a comment about my England post. One of my readers (http://creativityinthebox.com/) wrote that she loves living in England. That made me think about where I live and that I love it here too. And what a blessing it is to live in a place that you really love. It makes life exciting and joyful when you can look at your overall surroundings and that it brings a sense of contentment to your heart.

I realize that we are the fortunate few. I suppose that the majority of the world’s population cannot say they live in a place that they love. Those living in war torn areas, or ghettos, or other ugly or violent places may not love where they live.  Some may have been forced to relocate to places that feel foreign to them and they long to leave.

I guess there are as many reasons to hate the place where you live as there are to love it.

love where you live

But my focus right now is on places to love. And I wonder why it is that we come to love them and why they give us a sense of happiness and peace.

I can’t speak for others. I have moved around quite a bit in my lifetime. And I can say that I have generally loved all the different places I have lived and all for different reasons.

Washington State was my first venture away from where I grew up. It was exciting to experience the beauty there. I could sum it up in water and green. Puget Sound and Mount Rainer provided the backdrop for a stunning landscape. And the rain provided the source to keep the trees and flowers and ferns a luscious green. I loved it there because of the natural beauty, which calms the spirit.

Connecticut is a place I will always hold dear to my heart. Living in the woods, surrounded by trees inhabited by a myriad of birds was a blessing I will never forget. I felt I was living close to the land and in tune with the seasons. The towns were quaint and charming. I felt a sense of history and pride that this was where I called home.

New Jersey had an abundance of natural beauty too. I enjoyed living there for several years. I had my birds and gardens to tend to and it was peaceful.

I lived in Pennsylvania two different times. And I consider it my second home. I loved it there for so many reasons: experiencing the seasons change year after year unfailingly, the wildlife we had in our backyard, the charm of the Amish county just a short drive away, the history related to the struggle for American independence, and the friendships that I hope will now withstand the distance. Yes, it is my second home there.

Saddleback Mountain

Saddleback Mountain

But my first home and the place I love best is Southern California. This is where I was born and raised. This is where my family lives. This is where I live now and will stay for the rest of my life. I love seeing Saddleback Mountain tall and unchanging and keeping sentinel over the area.  From where I live, I can look down the street and see it and it always brings a smile because it is part of my remembrances from a child growing up here. I love being near the beach for there is a sense of peace and calmness in watching the sea. There are so many other reasons by I love living here, but the main reason can be summed up in family. Family has drawn me back and that is why I love it the most and will stay.

 

And so I wonder, why do you love where you live?

Integrity

integrity

This is a topic that hits home. Years ago, when I worked as a church secretary, I was given a book by Chuck Swindoll called “Quest for Character”. I recall it was a very good book, but the chapter that stuck with me was on integrity.

I had never really thought about integrity before then. It was a term I was familiar with, of course, but had never thought about much in relation to my own life. Reading the chapter on integrity did make an impact on me. It has stuck with me 20+ years later.

Over the years since then, the word integrity has popped up from time to time in reading or in conversations or in my own thoughts. And when it does, I often stop and ponder it.

I think to be a person of integrity is one of highest goals of achievement. It doesn’t matter if I am wealthy or successful or have a lot of influence or a lot of friends. To me, the most important attribute I can have is integrity.

Just what is integrity? How do I know if I have it? Well, I’m no expert, but to me it means being totally honest in every facet of life. It means living out your principles whether in business, family, friends, or community. It means being steadfast in what you believe and acting it out in how you behave.

Politicians do not have integrity. Perhaps that is too harsh. There may be some who do, but we all know of politicians who say whatever they think will get themselves elected. Then they do whatever they think will keep them in office and bow to the influential people around them.

I fall short of integrity many times. I’m far from being the kind of person I wish I was. But stopping to consider my life and gauging it against the ideals that are important to me, is one way to get myself back on track.

We all should do that periodically. That is, stop and spend some time alone reflecting on your life and actions. Be willing to readjust if necessary to get yourself moving in the direction you want to go.

Have the courage to admit the truth about yourself, to acknowledge when you’ve failed, or should ask for forgiveness.

We all fall short, but we can all strive for integrity.

A Journal about a Journey to England

a fine romance

This time next week I will be on my way from California to London. I’ll be on a three week vacation, traveling with a tour group around England, Scotland, and Wales. To say I am excited about this trip is an understatement!!

Ever since I was a young girl, I have dreamed about visiting the English countryside. I have always been an avid reader, and it seems that a good percentage of the novels I’ve read over my lifetime have taken place somewhere in the UK. Some of the descriptions were so vivid, I really felt I was there. Of course, I have seen pictures and plenty of momentos from there too. After all, isn’t Great Britain the mother country?  😉

In preparation for the upcoming trip, one of the books I have been reading is by Susan Branch called “A Fine Romance…Falling in Love with the English Countryside.” And wow….this is a book that makes me feel as though I am on her own journey to England right beside her.

Susan is a popular watercolorist, author, and designer. She has a way with words that makes you feel as if you are her best friend and she is writing directly to you. “A Fine Romance” is Susan’s love letter to England. She and her long-time partner Joe, traveled the English countryside, staying in B&B’s, and visiting the most beautiful and romantic places you can imagine.

The book is her journal and is filled with quotes, photographs, and illustrations. It is also hand-written in her own script…no it is not type-faced. She includes some background material on the places she visited and describes what she sees in a very endearing way.

Even if you never had a desire to visit England, I think you would after reading this book. Page after page is filled with delights, including her own love story about Joe.

If you will be traveling to England, I highly recommend this book. Even if you are not planning a trip there, you will enjoy this book if you are partial to cottages, gardens, quaint settings and cooking.

So go get a cup of tea, put your feet up, grab the book and start reading.