Thankful For 4 Generations

Just wanted to share some of the fun we had at Thanksgiving this year with four generations under one roof. It was our daughters idea to gather the family together which we do every Thanksgiving, but this time to do it under one roof. So we had family from the age of 10 to soon to be 97 for Thanksgiving.

We all decided that an airbnb would be the best way to go, and it was my assignment to find the perfect one that was not too far from home, but far enough. Our selection was Shepherd Lodge in Kingston, Oklahoma. From the pictures we were in love with it, and had our fingers crossed that it would live up to expectations–it did and more.

There were four generations that would be staying under the same roof for three nights. Like most people we were hoping there would be enough to entertain everyone, enough space so that we wouldn’t feel crowded and other things. There was nothing to worry about, our airbnb had everything we wanted and needed from board games, card games, pool table, ping pong, three fireplaces with two being outside, televisions in each bedroom and one in the great room plus so much more including a piano. Everything for preparing Thanksgiving dinner was there–there was even fresh ground coffee in the kitchen.

If someone had wanted to gamble there was a casino down the road, and a lake that my grandson did get to see. Take a look at a few more pictures of our four generation Thanksgiving.

Enjoy family because there is nothing better. Remember “thisisyourbestyear” and give thanks every day.

No Money Needed For This Gift

I recently read an article somewhere that talks about how some elderly people can go for weeks without talking to another person. Then it hit me, no wonder they are getting taken in by phone scammers. They are lonely and just want to talk with someone. Most of us if we are honest have sometimes looked at the phone, recognized the number and just let it go to voice mail. Most of us have more than enough human contact.

Last year I got an idea, and it stemmed from an idea that my sister told me about. Her church makes Easter Baskets for the sick and shut in at their church. You know the ones that can’t make it to church because they are ill, don’t drive anymore or for any number of reasons. They even made the decorated baskets a contest–the most creative.

Inside of each basket were things that they thought the people would like such as candy, coffee, even the coffeemaker, a pair of slippers and so much more. It seemed that my sister had so much fun gathering the items, and creating her masterpiece. The church would then deliver the baskets to the members.

So I decided that we would do an Angel Tree for Christmas at my church. We would do it for the sick and shut in. It would be the same as a regular Angel Tree, and similar to my sister’s church Easter Baskets with a few exceptions.

After I gathered all the names, phone numbers and addresses it was announced to the church, and to my great surprise the first Sunday all of the names were taken. The instructions to participate in the Angel Tree were:

  • Select a name
  • Call and talk with the person
  • Ask what they would like for Christmas
  • Ask if you could come over–if they said no which some might for several reasons including a) not looking their best b) house not kept the way they want it to be kept c) just don’t want any company.
  • If they didn’t want any visitors, then ask could you call them from time to time
  • If they agreed a visit was okay you were then to go out and purchase the items
  • You were to take the gift to the person, and sit and talk for a while. Even though you were purchasing a gift, you a were the greatest gift.

It was a great success. I was able to go on two visits, one with a friend. We visited a member in a nursing home. We sat and talked with her. The gift she loved, but she asked for a cold glass of orange juice. The gift basket had wonderful things in it that she had said she wanted, but our conversation and that cold glass of orange juice made her day.

My next stop was the name I had chosen. She wanted magazines and chocolate candy. I decided to give her a sugar high with all the chocolate I bought. After inviting me into her home, we talked about family, church, careers and more. She showed me pictures of her in her younger years, and so many family pictures. Some of the pictures were of her dancing–she said she loved to dance. When others would call her, she would tell them about my visit, not about the candy. My presence was better than candy.

Both of these beautiful people are no longer with us, but they have inspired me to do the Angel Tree again, and expand it a little. This time the names will be on a tree along with the Angel Tree wishes of our adopt a school. So we don’t get them mixed up, we will color code them.

This year I’ve added one more requirement to our Angel Tree. Each gift giver is asked to call and/or send a card to their Angel Tree person at least once or more a month. I’m hoping they will continue to visit the person. Gifts are great, but the gift of conversation and maybe a hug is so much more. Maybe when they visit they will take their children and/or grandchildren with them.

Most of us will be paying for Christmas gifts until Easter, but the gift of conversation and human touch cost nothing. Remember “thisisyourbestyear” and make someones holiday merry because all they want for any holiday is just a little time with you.

An Interview With Fort Worth’s Rare Diamond–Author Amara Russell

Fort Worth native, Amara Russell is the author of the much talked about novel “A Rare Diamond”. Even though this is her first novel to be published she is no stranger to writing.  Her love for writing has been evident to those around her since elementary school when her first article was published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. It was our honor to have a great conversation with her.

Who are some of the authors you enjoy reading today?

Some of the people I enjoy reading are Priscilla Shirer. Her book “A Jewel in His Crown” is one of my favorites; it has brought me through a lot of things that were occurring in my life at the time. Another author that I like is Lysa Terkeurst.  Her book  “The Best Yes” is about making wise decisions when going through certain situations.

Who and what do you read just for fun? Also, what is a book that you have read more than once?

I love romance novels.  There is a book by Eric Jerome Dickey called “Friends and Lovers” about different relationships.  He adds a lot of humor to his books and I enjoy that. It’s a thick little novel, and I have read it several times.

Was “A Rare Diamond” the first manuscript that you finished?

It was the first manuscript that I finished.  It took me a year to write it.  I was laid off my job in 2015, and for the first couple of months, I spent my time trying to find employment. When I didn’t find anything I decided to use the time to do something that I liked–writing.  Writing helped to heal my stress. I put my frustrations into the manuscript.

Writing became my full-time job.  Every day when I woke up, I poured myself into writing.  It was something I loved to do.

Tell us about the inspiration for the novel–was any of it born out of personal experiences?

Actually, there are a lot of bits and pieces of the story that are related to my life, and things around me. I would visit coffee shops, relatives houses and observe activities that I added to the story.

When I found employment, I wasn’t able to put the time I needed into the writing of the book.  When I loss my mom I  was able to relate to Celeste, the main character in the book who loses her mom.  This event inspired me to get back to writing nonstop.

That’s interesting what you said about being able to relate to Celeste after the loss of your mother.  That’s something people tend to think they can relate to but can’t when they have not experienced that loss.  They know what to say, but they can’t relate.

Right, when I would express to people that I was still hurting they couldn’t understand because they had not experienced it, and until they do, they won’t understand.

I understand, and God will get you through it, but you never get over it, and it is never the same.  There is a void that is always going to be there.

Right.

Now Celeste is the main character in your novel.  Tell us a little about her.  I know that you said she loss her mother at 5.  Without giving away the story tell us a little bit more about her.

Celeste is witty, smart and beautiful.  She is courageous, and she doesn’t bite her tongue about anything, but she says what she means in a subtle way.  She takes her characteristics from her mother who was filled with integrity.  Her mother could walk into a room and capture everyone’s attention.  Celeste picked up a lot of those qualities.

The story is about her life from the age of 5 to 25. She is a young woman trying to find her way, her identity without her mom.

What other characters in the novel play a pivotal role?

Derrick is a childhood friend of Celeste who grew up in the neighborhood.  Really he was her brother’s friend first.  As they grew older they were able to relate because he had suffered the loss of his father at an early age, and he had older siblings who were all girls, and her older siblings were boys.

Another main character is her brother Craig. Celeste and Craig have a very close relationship.  She leans on him, and he leans on her in certain situations.  I would say that Derrick and Craig are two of my other main characters.

From some of the comments that we  have read people say that the book kept them on their toes until the very end.  So if we were going to the bookstore what two sections would we find “A Rare Diamond”?

Probably in the Faith-based section and also in the Romance section.

If you were to have “A Rare Diamond” made into a movie, who would you have to play the main characters?

Oh my God, I knew you would ask that, and I have those people written down (laughter).

It’s important because when people read a novel they picture certain people.  I have to read the book before I see the movie.  I remember going to see “Waiting to Exhale”, and none of those people were the people I pictured except Loretta Devine.  She had the sass that was in the book.  I met Walter Mosley and told him that I did not see Denzel Washington as Easy Rawlins, and he said he didn’t either.  I told him I pictured a young Laurence Fishburne.  He told me when you sell the rights to your book, then the studio picks the actors.  So who do you have as Celeste?

For Celeste, there were two people. I had in my mind LeToya Luckett could play her or Keisha Knight Pulliam.

Oh, why those two?

The similarities when I envision my character, I see them as her. And then their personalities when I see them in films or on television.  Those personalities fit Celeste.

Ok, what about Derrick?

Derrick, the minute I started writing I don’t know why but I envisioned the actor Lance Gross.

Oh, okay, yes.  That’s a good one.  What about Craig?

Craig because he’s so hilarious–even when I was writing the novel I would crack up from some of the things he would say.  To me, I always said Mike Epps (laughter) .

Oh my God! (laughter).  He would be a wonderful big brother. 

Just to add one more, the mother because she is such an inspiration.  It’s like I didn’t want to kill her off at the beginning so I was kind of going back and forth, but Angela Bassett always came to mind when I was writing the story.

She would be good.  Even in her personal life, she seems to be into her family and her faith. You are going to have a hometown book signing.  Tell us about it.

The book signing will be downtown Fort Worth at the Marie Antoinette Parfumiere and Spa which is located at 101 West 2nd directly across from the Worthington Hotel.  It will be on Saturday, February 10 from 3 to 5.  A pre Valentine event.

Are you working on a sequel or another novel?

I am actually working on a trilogy to “A Rare Diamond”, I’m going to break it up into three parts.

That will be nice.

Well, we thank you for your time.  We’ll see you at your book signing.

Thank you so much, I appreciate it.

 

“A Rare Diamond” can be purchased at Amazon, the Barnes and Noble website or on www.nspired2write247.com.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I Look Back And Celebrate My Birthday

Today, October 2, 2017 I have officially done something neither of my parents was able to do.  I was able to celebrate my 65th birthday.  Daddy passed at 49 and mama left us at just a month shy of 65.  So on this birthday in particular I am thinking of them, and that little girl who loved to play in the dirt in East Texas. The little girl who could not wait for the birthday parties held on the front porch with all the friends from Fox Hill.

When I tell friends that I worked on my birthday, they are a little confused since it is a day that I should be celebrating.  My children inform me that they don’t, and will not work on their birthdays. At one time that was my position, but as life would have it circumstances change. Working on my birthday does not upset me since I have decided to celebrate my birthday everyday.  There may not be an official celebration with cake, gifts and such, but nontheless there will be a celebration–a celebration of life for myself and those that did not make it to celebrate their 65th.

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Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Happy Birthday–celebrate everyday.

Grandparenting Can Make Everyone Call Jesus!

Our daughter and son-in-law went to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras so Honey’s baby was staying with Paw Paw and Honey. I know he had a wonderful time because I try to make each visit something special. However,  we are empty nesters who have carved out a quiet controlled life.  We do not tell each other to use our inside voice. Picking up and cleaning before bed are just things we do. Occasionally we do re watch some television shows, but never so many times the same day. We rarely if ever repeat ourselves or at least I thought I didn’t. I do repeat the phrase Jesus Christ quite a bit though. This phrase made me know that our little man had listened to me over the days he was with us.

Saying all of that he was a joy to have. I know that he learned to call on Jesus. He informed me of this. I was telling him that he needed to clear his place at the table and get ready for school. I was just about to repeat myself again when he said, ” I know,  clean my place–Jesus  Christ, I know”.

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Honey’s baby in hot tub that is until I reminded Paw Paw that little boys like to pee in the water.

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    Ready for bed–didn’t say sleep, just ready for bed.

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         Being computer savy.

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    Saying goodnight to mommy and daddy.

Am I tired?  You bet I am. I forgot to tell you they left his roller skates which I hid. There would be no trips to the emergency room on our watch. We loved the time we spent with our little man, but we need to rest up for the next one.  Enjoy grandchildren and remember they are there for a visit so make it fun.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

Read in 102 Countries and Counting

Thank you for making 2013 truly a wonderful year. Take a look at the annual report for “thisisyourbestyear”. We were read in over 102 countries!!!!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Thanks for coming with us on this journey, and remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

See you in 2014!!!

In Dark Times

On my way out of the door to do the Toro Dash 5k my mentor, my friend, my sister called and told me her son was gone. He had died. There are no words to express my feelings.  When my sorority sister arrived to go to the race we decided to go instead to my friend. As a woman of a certain age and a Christian, I know that death will come to all, but my heart is full of sorrow for my dear friend in the loss of her first born.  We must praise God even in the dark times. To God Be The Glory!

Black People Do Get/Stay Married

Today, August 4 is our wedding anniversary.  It has been 35 years of fun, tears, laughter, children and now grandchildren kept together by love and faith in God.  My husband and I both come from two parent homes in fact we both had two married sets of grandparents.  I can even remember my married great grandparents on my mother’s side of the family.  Don’t believe the hype–just because it’s in the news does not make it the truth.

 

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Remember “thisisyourbestyear”–35 years and counting.