Tag Archive | Travel

Independence Is A State of Being


I’ve recently returned from my holiday on the beautiful island of Maui.  I’m taking liberty to borrow the term ‘holiday’ from the British as the glorious days spent there were in all facets of the word – a holiday.  I’ve been fortunate to have taken vacations in many beautiful locales, but Maui has given new meaning to where and how I spend precious days away in the future.  I plan a post detailing my trip.  But on this Independence Day, 2016, my thoughts are in a different direction – yet my recent days on the island have contributed greatly to my perspective on this July 4th holiday at home.

My habit is to set my DVR to record Good Morning, America each day and catch up in the evenings with all that’s going on in the world.  And unless you are one of those individuals who have tucked their head in the sand and decided you can take no more of the insanity and uncertainty happening daily, you know what a large dose of detriment to our psyches is being doled out.  For the sake of my point, let’s disregard media’s ability to steer opinions and consider only the headlines themselves.

Details aside, I have been watching for many months the devastating weather patterns that have ravaged our country from one side to the other, many perishing in the wake, countless others being robbed of all they own with no idea of how they’ll recover.  The horror of attacks across the world, both by terrorists on a large scale and by close members of victims’ own families on an even more hard to understand level.  The hatred.  Absurdities. And has there ever been a more head-shaking presidential campaign?

All of this and so much more is absolutely mind boggling.

Keep this in mind, and allow me to shift gears for a moment.

Before I experienced it for myself, Maui presented itself in my mind as one of the ultimate tourist destinations – think Disney World with the not-to-miss list of sights to see as the attractions.  From that visualization, take away the well paved parking lots with attendants to direct you.  Take away billboards luring you to exorbitant entrance fees.  Take away hearing sales pitches.  And replace all that with God’s green earth, towering vistas, and sparkling blue water as far as you can see from a vantage point that’s always just around the next corner.  Yes, there are resort areas – there have to be to accomodate those of us who sojourn there.  But the paradise that can easily be described in one word – Eden – is found on your own.  Out exploring the island.

And as I explored the island, I brought home a blessing that I was not expecting.  There is one side of me that hates the terrible things that are going on in our world today, that the tides of hate may dictate how the balance of my granddaughter’s future will pan out.  But there’s also the other side of me that has hope, a hope that I had lost sight of – and possibly never even had – until I was within the spectre of the intensity and power of the beauty on Maui.  That beauty is not man-made.  And neither is the Bestower of that power. Standing within the breathtaking awesomeness of just one small piece of God’s creation, I felt His power give me the confidence to know that I can be still and know that He is capable of providing the ability for us to rise above the insanities of this world.  And the beauty equips us to be partners with the positive, enabling us to carry on.

As we look for the beauties in our days, we need to remember that we are not entitled to the freedoms that we have.  Those freedoms have been and continue to be bought with the lives of many soldiers who are out there doing their jobs to ensure that we remain free.  It’s easy to get caught up in the monstrosities that plague our world today, to let them make us bitter, or complacent, or reckless, or I could go on and on with the symptoms of our weary world.

But we must make a choice.  We are free to make the conscious choice to see the beauty of this world and each person we come into contact with.   There’s beauty in each of us because each of us are also one of God’s awesome creations.  We are all fighting for independence in one way or another and if we can learn to see independence as a blessing and not a right – without letting hatred be our guiding force –  we will begin to see more beauty in our moments. Call me a dreamer, but I believe those moments will begin to spill over onto those around us and we can all be enablers of the positive kind.  There’s by far too much of the devastating negative kind.

So choose to be in an independent state of mind – rising above the awfulness of this world – replace the bad with the good – and never forget that there are those always giving their all, sometimes their very lives, to allow us this choice.

Happy Independence Day to you all!




Look Out Kids, I’m Gonna Embarrass You Now!


Me with Dr. Sandra Schultz

I told the truth when I said I hadn’t been anxious about hearing the results of my mammogram.   And it remained the truth until about twenty minutes before my appointment time.

As I walked in the door, that anxiety disappeared as I was greeted by the smiling Dr. Schultz herself.  She was sitting at the front desk, a highly unusual sight, and she laughed at my astonishment and told me not to get used to it that she’d be moving in just a second.  I stopped her before she could get away and asked for a picture.  She said “Certainly, come on in and we’ll get it in front of the tree.”

Before my cancer was discovered, I had known of a woman who had been diagnosed with a very rare, fast and almost always fatal form of this vicious disease.  Her doctor went to work determined to save her life.  She contacted colleagues all over the country with her immediate research.  Armed with all the knowledge available, she used her innate ability to read cancer and started an agressive attack.  I’ll not go into the details because those aren’t mine to share, but years later this woman is still cancer-free.  I believe that if God had not deemed it so, that would not be the case.  But I also believe that He placed her care in the earthly hands of Dr. Sandra Schultz, just as He did mine.

This is a story that could be repeated all day long.  There’s visual evidence of these stories all over the office in the form of quilts hanging on the walls, pink wreaths adorning the doors and artwork all up and down the hallways – all given in gratitude by patients and their families.  Not only is the care given by Dr. Schultz that of which gives hope, but the atmosphere of her office conveys an instant feeling of warmth, making her patients feel like family from the first visit forward.

As you walk up to the window to sign in, you are immediately swathed in that warmth by her receptionist, Brenda McCombs.  Of my many, many visits, never has this sweet lady failed to greet me with the most genuine smile and positive attitude.  The other members of the office – Stephanie, Lindsay, Ruby and Leanna – make the picture complete and they all bounce their warm spirits back and forth amongst themselves, drawing you into their amazing circle of healing.


Brenda MCombs

My granddaughter doesn’t know it yet, but on June 3, she and I will be joining Dr. Schultz and her team, The Blazing Pink Flamingos, at the Relay for Life Walk in Kings Mountain.  Brenda said she would surprise my granddaughter with her own pink flamingo:


Have you noticed the artwork and wreaths I mentioned?

As Dr. Schultz and I chatted in the examining room today, she asked how the trip plans were coming along.  I looked at her, astonished that she had remembered my telling her last year of our upcoming trip.  She grinned at me and said she’d made a note on my file so she wouldn’t forget.

In addition to being the tremendous doctor and surgeon that she is, Dr. Schultz is also a very large supporter of non-profit groups in Gaston County.  There were several raffle baskets in the office today, with proceeds going to various organizations.

From the standpoint of being a patient, it is very rare to come across this type of environment.  The dedication of Dr. Schultz, and her staff, is evident to any who find themselves in the midst of their care.  Not only was I blessed that my cancer was found so early, but my blessings were greatly enhanced by being under the care of this wonderful woman.  Her expertise is undeniable, her depth of caring is unquestionable.

Now, to my daughter, my son-in-law and my granddaughter, I say:  Look out paradise, here I come!  No holding back, no fears.  My feet will be as if they’re not touching the ground and I’ll be dancing to music, even if I’m the only one who can hear it.  I’m Maui bound, and I’m cancer-free!




Don’t Piss Heaven Off


It’s been a crazy busy week…I had everything moved out of my bedroom last weekend and now the only drawer I can get to without moving a piece of furniture is that for my underwear.  My clothes are hanging on shower rods and doorframes and my dog is thoroughly confused.  All week I’ve worked on getting Kilz on the dark paint on large baseboards, window and door frames and crown moldings.  Now I have the large room and sitting area to paint to get the room ready for new carpeting.  Then there’s been soccer practice and games with my granddaughter that I never miss, her dance program at the Merry Go Round Festival at the city park and shopping at Old Navy yesterday to take advantage of their 40% off sale for card members and using my rewards before they expired.  The three girls checked out with over $330 worth of summer clothes for only $23!  My kind of shopping!

But something has been niggling at the back of my mind throughout this past hectic week that I know I have to address.  If for no other reason than because it’s the nature of what someone who writes does – we put it down in words.  As I tossed it around this week, my little pink diary with the tiny little key that I had when I was a young girl came to mind.  The one no one was even to touch but me.  And then onto the journals I’ve kept throughout the years – again for my eyes only.  I still do keep a handwritten journal but now for only one purpose:  to record eventful days and trips for my granddaughter for her to have years from now.

Now I have graduated to a much larger ‘diary’ – one that is open for the world to read and is no longer for my eyes only.  One that I share freely and still remain true to myself.  Nothing fluffed up, nothing fabricated – just the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  But one that I still go to when something wonderful has happened, or something is deeply bothering me.  Which is where I find myself to be now.

I stumbled upon an article last Sunday that has haunted me ever since.  I’m going to share it with you below.  Not to cause a haunt to come upon my cohorts, but to let you see where I’m coming from when I can finally get my thoughts around each of the 28 points contained in the article and post them here in my ‘diary’.  As long as I can remember, the biggest tick that’s ever gotten the best of me is being accused, doubted, even considered to have done something that I haven’t done.  This article lumps everyone who is a Christian into this tick of mine.  And what’s worse, it’s from someone from the South – one who lives and breathes the same Southern air as I do.

What does all this have to do with Steven Tyler, you may be wondering?

I will be vacationing in Maui in June.  I’ve learned since planning the trip that Steven Tyler – among a large host of others if I would name you would all recognize –  has a home there and roams the island just like anyone else.  I asked myself how I would react if I turned the corner at Food Land while on the island and he’s there picking up a gallon of milk.  And what instantly came to mind is a song he wrote years ago entitled “Full Circle” – it’s not one you would know unless you are an Aerosmith fan – and music of most every genre has always been a very important part of my life.  To give you the gist of it, here’s a few of the lyrics:

If I could change the world like a fairy tale

I would drink the love from your Holy Grail.

I would start with love and tell ol’ Beelezub to get

outta town cause you just lost your job.

How did we get so affected

Cause love is love reflected…..

Don’t piss Heaven off — we’ve got hell to pay.

Ultimately, we do not stand judgement with anyone other than the One God who created this world and everything that all that man has created stands upon.  In turn, we are not to attempt to BE a judge of anyone who breathes – justice system withstanding. The hatred that is becoming a horror story of its own in our own United States is what the article I previously mentioned opened my eyes to.  Not that I don’t see it everyday – but just as a Christian I felt personally attacked for the first time and find it time to become consciously aware day to day how that can be reversed.  Ultimately, I know that is impossible – it’s all part of what’s to come and has been predicted through the ages by God Himself through John the Revelator. But I do not want to be a part of the hatred written about.  I am a child of Christ – and that, my friends, is love.  Not passive and complacent to all that’s going on, but to show love – regardless of one’s skin color, religious affiliation or sexual orientation.  Love does not mean condone – love means love reflected.  And if we fail to show love, we’ve got hell to pay.  The United States is coughing up that payment now.      Here:


A Country Bumpkin’s First Impression of The Big Apple


It was 4 am, our planned arrival time so as to avoid the infamous traffic.  My eyesight is very poor for nighttime driving so I was calling out the turn by turn directions to my daughter, Toni, who was driving.  It was drizzling for the first time on the trip, and the moisture was creating smears across the windshield that added yet another dimension to our fear of the unknown.  After leaving the safety of the well-lit and nearly vacant Lincoln Tunnel, we were making our way into the lane we needed for a turn, two tenths of a mile ahead, when a car stopped right in front of us.

Driving somewhere we are comfortable or familiar with, this would not have been a situation to cause us alarm.  But our well laid out plans of arrival time turned out not to have been such great plans after all.  The streets were no less crowded than they were in the daytime in the “city that never sleeps”.  We were literally stuck in the traffic behind this stopped car with a never ending barrage of taxis, limousines and the occasional “normal” cars zooming by, all of whom would blare their horns as they made their way around these two cars just sitting there in the right lane!

But the streets weren’t the only things that were packed with traffic.  People were everywhere! Loud and boisterous people, who were screaming and motioning to anyone he or she could get the attention of.  After having just traveled the long, dark quietness of the New Jersey Turnpike, this sudden change had us quite a bit on the edge of our nerves.  And in the midst of all this, I looked up and saw the largest horse I had ever saw in my life! Forgetting that some of the New York City Police Dept use horses on duty, this beautiful, huge animal had my undivided attention and I wasted no time in speaking my mind on this matter to Toni.

It is at this point that I was brought back to reality quite suddenly, as she screamed at me “I don’t care about the stupid horse, help me get out of this mess!”  Let me say here that my daughter is extremely careful over her car.  She routinely checks for scratches and nicks and is a professional now at what products work best to remove them.  In traffic, she is so nervous that her car is going to be hit by other traffic, that if possible, she has someone else drive, namely me.  This night that was impossible due to my blindness and here she sits in front of me scared to death!About this time, someone knocks on the window next to me!  We turn to see a group of guys walking beside the car.  Toni and I just sit and stare at each other.  The guy keeps knocking until he finally reaches the back of the car and leaves.  This was all it took for Toni to force her way out from behind the car and its rude driver.

The next step on our road trip map of directions would have had us turning right onto a one way street – going left!  So we had to do some calculating of our own to back track a street and finally arrive at our hotel on the East River.  But upon finding it, where were we to park the car? The streets were lined with tall buildings and sidewalks – no parking places.  Directly beside the hotel we spotted the entrance to a parking garage so we stopped there and Toni waited in the car while I went in to get us registered.

Everything went smoothly for me.  The hotel had our late arrival noted on our reservations and I was quickly and efficiently given our room card keys and told to unload our luggage and leave it with the attendant in the lobby while we drove behind and beneath the hotel to the parking basement.  I felt relief!  We had finally made it safely and were within moments of a place to rest!  When I got to the car and began telling Toni to help me with the luggage, again she didn’t want to hear anything I had to say!  “Just get in the car” she repeatedly told me with such a sense of desperation that I finally just gave up on the luggage and got in.  She said there was a man who had walked around the car several times and was standing over to the side watching us.  As I spotted the stranger, the dread of hauling our heavy luggage all the way to our room suddenly diminished as we made our way to the basement.

Little did we know we were in for yet another unanticipated initiation to the city.  The parking attendant spoke or understood no English.  We were met with a waving motion of his arms and we thought he was telling us to park the car.  After creeping slowly through the first level of the basement and finding no empty spaces we proceeded to the lower level only to find the same problem.  Cars were parked three deep with what appeared to be less than an inch between them.  We made our way back to the attendant and he greeted us with more waving, a ceaseless stream of “sounds” we couldn’t understand and finally a simple, quiet hands up signal to STOP.  He motioned for our car keys, took them and opened the trunk, motioned for us to remove our luggage, gave us a claim ticket and waved us towards the exit.

With Toni feeling great trepidation about having just turned her car over to a complete stranger, we were finally on our way to our room.  We had a corner suite on the 16th floor and upon arriving we immediately raised the shades on the almost floor to ceiling windows that encompassed all but one wall of the room.  The side windows overlooked the double-decked Queensborough Bridge and overhead trolley that carried passengers back and forth to Roosevelt Island.  The windows across the front of the room faced the city.  The view was breathtaking.  The lights of the enormous city reflecting on the water of the river cast beautiful prisms of every color imaginable.  We sat staring, trying to calm ourselves from the shock to our systems that we had just experienced for the past hour.  Exhaustion finally took over as we both fell asleep considering an early checkout and a return to less threatening, more familiar surroundings.

We awoke around 11 am, knowing that we had missed the checkout if we were seriously planning on high-tailing it home.  Instead of making a final decision on whether to stay or leave, we decided on what we would most like to see in one day and set out on the adventure of actually getting there.  Driving was not an option, and our destination was Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Centers, over six miles away.  We set out on foot.  We had walked almost a mile when we came upon Bloomingdale’s.  Naturally we wanted to go in this famous store along with what seemed to be everyone else in the city. This store is so huge one would have to actually visit it to understand.  There are many different floors with many different elevators and escalators, all of which looked the same and was a fact we failed to notice until we started trying to exit.  Our mistake was in not noting which entrance we had entered by.  We couldn’t find our way out! A clerk noticed our exasperated confusion and pointed us to an exit, any exit, at this point we just wanted out!

We should have clarified our exit wishes more clearly because the exit she directed us to was directly into – were we country bumpkins ready for this? – the subway! Yes, we needed transportation to Ground Zero, but now?  Were we brave enough to tackle the subways yet? Feeling trapped, we once again had no choice but to do as the New Yorkers do – take a subway.  After procuring our tokens from yet another non-English speaking attendant, I absolutely refused to get on before finding out where we should get off.  I went back to the clerk at the entrance to Bloomingdale’s where we had just exited who I knew had spoken English.  She was very helpful and soon we were speeding along under the city.  I felt a sense of elation!  We were on our way to Ground Zero and everything seemed safe around us on the subway.  Until Toni finally convinced me that we were heading in the wrong direction.  I didn’t want to believe it – we were heading toward Harlem! A little elderly lady sitting in front of us who had been discreetly watching us all along came to our rescue.  She could only understand the words “world trade center” but as she left the train at the next stop she motioned for us to follow and pointed us to another train.  Wishing we knew how to thank her, we simply waved as she hurried away.  Her directions did in fact lead us to our next awe-inspiring discovery.

The first thing we noticed as we saw daylight leaving the subway station was the sound.  The sounds of the city are very loud.  Between the traffic and the people, there was a constant noise that we quickly grew accustomed to shouting over.  Even sixteen stories up in our hotel room, we noticed the noise quickly.  The exit off the subway at Ground Zero lacked these sounds.  Instead, although the traffic and the crowds were dense, there was a silence.  Along the fenced wall of memorials, which would bring tears to even the most hardened heart, sat a man playing the flute.  In the silence, acutely aware of Ground Zero looming to our left, the tune of “Amazing Grace” put a somber mood on the crowd.  My heart wanted to scream, “Take this pain away – why did this have to happen?”  Visions of what we all watched on television on 9/11/01 came to mind, knowing I was standing where all the horror had happened.  The unmatched silence surrounding the area and remembrance describe the sites today better than any other words can.

Coming away from Ground Zero, Toni and I remained quietly to ourselves for the remainder of the day.  We were still in awe of every corner we turned but none of our experiences thus far compared with the deeply introspective mood we found ourselves in.  After dining, we were ready to make our way back to our hotel, and since it was by this time nightfall, we decided to be cautious and not chance the subway.  A taxi would be best but what do we do – stick our thumbs out as if we’re hitchhiking? We walked on until a taxi stopped in front of us letting someone out and we jumped in.  We shocked the driver with our heavy Southern accents so much so that I had to write the address to our hotel down for him to understand.  Minutes later we were back where we had started some eight hours earlier.  We had conquered the city for the day! Fears had been abated enough for us to stay instead of running for home.  We went to sleep with the alarm clock set early, looking forward to venturing out again.

The next day we calculated that we walked over eight miles, most of which was in the rain.  Our destination was Times Square but on the way we just happened upon Grand Central Station, Trump Plaza and Towers, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Central Park, Tiffany’s, Saks Fifth Avenue – I could go on and on.  Knowing we needed rest for the long drive home the next day we bid the heart of the city farewell and made our long walk back to our hotel.  We left early enough the next morning to avoid the heaviest traffic, leaving the city within only minutes and arrived home exactly 12 hours and 45 minutes later.

Overall, our trip gave us a sense of confidence that we had conquered our small-town fears and were able to explore the city for two days.  We took each step, however, with a constant awareness that we could actually reach out and touch what up until this point we had only heard about – culture shock.  Our thanks and hats off go to the Big Apple from these two country bumpkins from the South!  And….to valet parking!

(Written as part of a college English class in 2012, posted today as a memorial to lives lost on 9/11/01)

First Impressions of a Blogger


I’ve only starting blogging a few weeks ago and in this short time I must say that blogging is an adventure in and off itself.  I started out with the intention of getting myself ‘out there’ but it has turned into what is becoming a wonderful and powerful new part of my life.

I have found the most inspiring bloggers.  Ones who meld words in such a way that I find myself consumed, carried away to emotions that inspire, empathize, invoke, conjure – you name it – it’s here in the world of blogging.  I’ve found magnificent photographers who need no words to appeal to those same emotions.  I’ve vicariously traveled to wondrous lands where I could only dream of visiting.

But I’ve also found pain.  There are many who have and are fighting hard battles.  Who are utterly courageous in sharing those battles with the world.  Their courage to expose themselves a testament itself to the inspiration they share with others.

I’ve found ones who are questioning and searching for answers about and from God.  Those have left me no alternatives but to ask myself the same questions.  Then there’s the ones who flat out refuse to believe or have explained away the very existence of God.

One of the detriments to blogging that I’m encountering is the lack of laundry getting done, the dust balls curling up around the baseboards and the dog bones left on the floor that I step on getting out of bed in the morning.  I am being drawn to the blog world now and am consumed with each new wonderful post I find.  But, it is a pleasure that I am savoring.

Each word of inspiration and encouragement lifts my soul and confirms to me that I’m on the right track, to never give up on my dreams.  Be they big or small, a daily goal or one I hope to have accomplished a year or even ten years from now.  I’ve also realized that the experiences I’ve had in my life can enable me to be sources of inspiration to others, just as so many are inspiring me.

The wistfullness I feel when I think of some beautiful place like Greece, Australia, Thailand or any of the other hundreds of lands I’d love to visit has become somewhat diminished as I get to read and visit in beautiful pictures these and other wonderful places.  To have a first hand account and be able to speak with people living in these lands or on an adventure there themselves is a joy for me.

Above all, I know from whence cometh my help and God is speaking clearly and lovingly through most all posts.  Even those that are not directly speaking of God, I still hear His voice.  In searching to answer those hard questions from skeptics, my faith has grown greatly and I am blessed to have encountered even those experiences.

I thank you all for welcoming me so warmly to the world of blogging and greatly look forward to continuing this journey with each of you.  Till we talk again, may God bless your each and every moment!

Love, Tammi