swallotail butterfly

Giant Swallowtail grateful for the butterfly bush in my yard!

It’s been awhile since I wrote a blog. I just haven’t had any ideas and have lacked motivation. Odd, that, since folks seem to like what I write. But finally today, my muse is working again. Thank God.

Being grateful is the last thing we think of if we’re going through hard times. It doesn’t matter how old we are, what our circumstances are, or what our level of education is. When times are tough, all we can think of is “Poor me;” “Why is this happening to me?;” or “This isn’t fair. Life isn’t fair to me.”

Of course life isn’t fair. It seems as if it takes forever for us to learn that simple lesson. Life is not a court of law where God metes out a sentence for us to serve.  Life is, well, just life. We can take it as it comes and try to make the best of it, or we can complain our way into old age and then look back wondering what happened.

But gratitude is such an incredible feeling if we will wrap our arms around it, embrace it as if it is our soul mate, and look up to Heaven believing that we are blessed.

When I feel blue, I make a gratitude list. I start out with three things per day and keep it up for as long as two weeks. The things I’m grateful for can be typical, ordinary things that I often take for granted: arms, legs, fingers, toes (even if they do need a pedicure!), eyes to see, ears to hear, and a voice to speak (some may think I speak the wrong thing at the wrong time, but that’s on them!).

I move to other things like having a roof over my head, a bed in which to sleep, and food in my fridge. Once I get going on my list, it’s really hard to stop and to limit it to three things a day. I take my list, look at it each morning and concentrate on being grateful. And, of course, the people in my life: family, friends, strangers I haven’t met yet!

It’s amazing how fast my feelings of self-pity disappear when I stay in an attitude of gratitude. God has blessed me beyond belief. When I remember that, I’m much more likely to have a smile on my face.

What are you grateful for today? I’d love to read the beginning of your list.


Filed under Uncategorized

Were You the One?

Costa Rica sunset by Ellie Kuykendall

Costa Rica sunset
by Ellie Kuykendall

“Let us always meet each other with smile,
for the smile is the beginning of love.”       

                             ― Mother Teresa  

Were you the one who stared at me today? I was pulling an oxygen tank behind me. Or maybe I was in a wheelchair. Perhaps I had a birth defect and only had one full hand. It could be that I was the victim of a terrible fire in which my face was badly burned.

It doesn’t really matter which one I was, does it? The question still stands: were you the one who stared at me?

Maybe your children pointed their fingers and laughed, and instead of chastising them gently and explaining that bad things happen to good people, you just pulled them in another direction. Maybe it was all you could do to keep from laughing with them. Was it?

I guess it never occurred to you how much it hurts to have someone point a finger at you and laugh. You’ll probably never understand how much pain I’ve gone through with my disability…it took me quite a while to gather my courage so I could venture out to the dollar store, walk along the mall or enter the grocery store.

There was a time not that long ago when I was in tears. I just couldn’t accept the fact that my life was forever changed. It hurt me that all my plans would never come to fruition. I didn’t understand why I, of all people, had to learn to do life over again — why the simplest chores took so much energy and how I had to allow double or triple the time to do something compared to how it used to be.

I remember those carefree days, when I was roller skating with my boyfriend’s son holding my hand tightly. I can recall how I used to play hide and seek…running was possible then. It isn’t now. It doesn’t seem possible that I once climbed down a steep hill to set up my place for fishing in the reservoir. Oh, how I loved fishing there.

I only have one more question to ask you, and I hope you’ll answer honestly.

Next time you see me, would you hold out your hand, give me a smile, love me with your whole heart through the look in your eyes?

I’m not asking for a handout. I don’t want your money.

But I would really love it if you would look at me with joy knowing that I celebrate living one day at a time. It would mean so much.

If you think you could do this, how about passing this message on to your friends? Maybe they would be willing to treat me the same way too.


Filed under Disability, Health


My lovely daughter and her son years ago.

This photo of my lovely daughter and her son years ago is a beautiful example of agape and storge loves .

It’s Spring and love is in the air. Of course, love is always in the air if you know how to catch it.

In ancient Greek society, there were four types of love:

Agape: unconditional love, such as the love of a parent for a child and God for us humans;

Eros: romantic love; you know, the one you thought you couldn’t live without (but eventually you found out you could live without him/her)?;

Philia: Friendship: Ah, friends. They’re the ones who feel more like family sometimes than family. With a true friend, you can completely be yourself and your character defects won’t change the friendship. (Unless, of course, your defects are way off base.);

Storge: Family love/brotherly love: The ones we live with until we fly away from the nest. Family, the favorite sister or brother. The beloved mother or father. Yes, even the distant cousins you’ve only met twice in your life.

In the beginning there was love. In the end there is love. And flowing like a river throughout our lives (if we’re lucky), there is always love. We don’t always recognize love as being there for us. Like the ghostlike character in our minds who was the love of our lives and the one who got away, love is sometimes so fleeting that even a hummingbird can’t catch it.

If we’re really lucky, we’ll love again. And if we’re not lucky in that arena, we might not love again. It comes and goes, is large and small, appears and disappears, leaving us with tears of joy or sobs of despair.

It’s odd to me how so many people think only of Eros when they think of love. One family spat and Storge is gone for a short while or a very long time. One tragedy in our lives and we begin to question the love of God. And should a friend betray us, we hide in our homes’ furthermost corner, hanging our heads and wondering how we could have ever trusted her/him in the first place.

I love the way we use the word “love.” “I love Edy’s Rocky Road ice cream,” you may hear me say. And I do. When I was a kid, one of my friends’ mom’s worked at Edy’s. Then Edy’s went away. Imagine my surprise to find Edy’s ice cream in South Carolina several decades later. I also discovered that Dreyer’s Ice Cream makes both brands, but only sells Edy’s on the East Coast now. I can’t really classify that love as one of the four, unless, of course, I choose unconditional love! PS – If you click on both ice cream sites, you’ll see that they have the same color scheme.

“I love going to the movies.”

“I love fishing.”

“I love reading.”  and on and on.

When you think of love, does one particular person or thing come to mind or is your brain indexing like crazy?

I adore the words from one of John Denver’s last songs, “Perhaps Love: “The memory of love will see you through.”

And it will, my friend. Thank you for stopping by. I hope to see you again soon, and I would love for you to share your memories of love in the comments section of this blog!


Filed under Family, Feelings, Friendship, Love, Uncategorized

Sunshine Blogger Award!

Sunshine Award

The Sunshine Award!

I smiled with joy when, upon opening a comment, I discovered that the writer had given me the Sunshine Blogger Award! What a treat and an honor. So thank you, Jay Morris, for honoring me so. I think my readers will also like your blog, which is The Wayward Journey (link will open in a new window).

I must admit I’m embarrassed to be so late announcing this. Jay actually wrote to me at the beginning of January. However, it’s been a rough couple of months health-wise, so I am behind on many things! Now, I am feeling better, and the beautiful Gerbera daisy above heralds the beginning of spring.

The requirements for accepting this award are that I tell you seven things about myself and that I nominate ten other bloggers for the award, not to mention letting Jay know how much I appreciate his award to me.

Let’s start with the seven things about me that you may not know.

1. I’m a cat person. I like dogs and had them while I was growing up, but I adore cats. I love their independent spirits, their ability to take care of themselves when I leave for a few days, and the way they curl up in balls when they sit in my lap.

2. I’ve traveled to South Korea, Japan, Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico.  I lived in Korea for nearly two years and loved that wonderful country and its friendly, loving people who always had a smile for this expat. I took an eco-hike on St. Croix and learned many things about herbal medicines from the naturalist who led the hike.

3. I’ve been in every state in the Union except for Maine, Massachusetts and Alaska. I would love to visit Alaska one day. It’s been a dream for many years.

4. I have one daughter, who is 39. She is a woman of many talents. I adore her and her son, who is the light of my life. When he moved back to be with his dad during his teenage years, I missed him so much I could hardly stand it. But I am so grateful for the spending most of the first ten years of his life near him in person. We had wonderful times and still do have beautiful, warm talks and hugs when I see him!

5. My favorite color is yellow. My sofa is yellow, and the chair that goes with it has lots of yellow too. Yellow is such a sunshine color and always makes me feel great, whether it’s in my own living room or at the store buying flowers. I hope my daisies will come back this year.

6. I love gardening and I have had several wonderful combination veggie/flower gardens. Unfortunately, because of my health now, I can’t garden like I used to. However, I can do container gardening. In 2012 I had way too many containers with plants and flowers and veggies! It took me 1/2 hour to 45 minutes to water them each day. But they were beautiful.

7. It is still my dream to travel more. I would like to go to the holy healing places of Medjugore and Lourdes. Maybe God will send me a miracle healing if I go there. Of course, maybe He’ll send one even if I don’t! Next, I’d like to go to Israel. It doesn’t seem like a very safe place right now. I always pray for peace in that region. Finally, I’d like to go to Eastern Europe and see the Czech Republic and some other places. I hope one day I can achieve this dream. But if I don’t, I feel blessed and grateful for the traveling I’ve already done in my life. Many folks haven’t even been out of their home city or state.

Okay, now for the nominations.

1.  Monce Abraham is a writer who lives in India. His blog posts will really make you think. They’re not fluff at all!

2.  Lead, Learn and Live is David Kanigan’s inspirational blog.

3.  Piya Singh is an Indian Artist, currently living and working in Germany. I think you’ll like her creativity.

4.  Charlie and Tom are photographers whose work is lovely. Their blog is PhotoBotos.

5.  Shannon Elizabeth Moreno writes about her strong faith in Revelations in Writing.

6.  Marney McNall scribes her volunteer experiences in The Volunteer Fringe.

7.  Rebeca Bud has a different take on her blog: Taking the Kitchen

8.  Loolie and Poolie have a fun blog about their vacations: The Adventures of Loolie and Poolie.

9.  Dianne Gray is an award-winning Australian author. Her blog is Writing and Loving Life.

10.Speaking from the Heart is an out-of-the-box blog by a woman who is a holistic health practitioner.


Filed under Family, Helping Others, Spirituality, Uncategorized


Annie on my chair

Annie and Bootsie on my chair

Home. What we all long for. What some of us have. What some of us don’t have.

Home — what does it mean? Does it mean having a house, an apartment a condo? Does it mean having a large cardboard box for the homeless? Yes.

Or does it mean where we grew up, the house at the end (or the beginning) of the street. The house where we lived and laughed, cooked and cleaned, played Parcheesi, slept and sat at the dinner table…does this represent home to you?

For me, it did…for a long time. Now that house is sold, my parents are no longer living, and the four remaining children are all grown up with homes of their own. Very different homes. But homes they are, not just houses.

And what about the folks who have only a tent or huge appliance box as shelter? Do we ever think about them, want to help them? Or do we just walk by them when we see them holding out their hands.

Most of us have never seen these people’s living (if you can call it that) arrangements. No, those places are in a part of town (or under the bridge) that we don’t frequent.

I’ve seen these forlorn places. I’ve talked to the people who live there when I was getting information about the homeless situation in Atlanta. Unfortunately, the article was never published, as the small magazine it was to appear in went out of business.

I love my home today, and it has provided me with a very comfortable place to live and to heal — from my COPD, from lost loves and from the move of my beloved grandson to another city far away.  And though I never lived on the street, I almost did — several times. How sad I was then. And how blessed I am today.

I believe in counting my blessings each and every single day of my life. I don’t think about what I don’t have anymore. I only thank God for what I do have. That works for me. Do you do that, too?

Lots of people have a home, but they want a bigger one, a newer one, one with more land or one with less land. People grumble about mowing the lawn, repairing the roof, and washing the dishes or doing the laundry. People complain about a lot of things, but I think the world would be a much better and happier place if people sought ways to help our less fortunate brothers and sisters, spent less money on stuff and took some time off each week instead of working so many hours that they die of heart attacks at a fairly young age.

That’s it for me tonight. How about you? I would really love to hear your comments and thoughts on these things. I hope you’ll click the comment box. Have a blessed day.


Filed under Helping Others, Spirituality, Uncategorized


Look at this angel swing! Photo from

Look at this angel swing! Photo from

Swing. What do you think of when you see this word? Golf swing? Tire swing? Tell me. I bet you didn’t think of an angel on a swing, though, did you? Not until you saw this cute photo.

I’ve been wanting to swing recently. And play with a yo-yo to do an around the world move. And to blow bubbles while I watch them rise up, up up into the cool winter air. A friend of mine threw a tea party for the two of us. It was awesome. Lots of little snacks and of course, delicious, hot and steaming tea to drink.

What have you been wanting to do recently? Is it a simple want like blowing bubbles? Or is it a lot more complicated like taking a vacation to a sunlit Caribbean isle?

Maybe it’s a thing you want, like a Kindle or a Keurig. (If you click on either of the links, it will open in a new window, so you don’t lose your place.)

Not me. I vote for the simple pleasures. Oh wait, I must confess. A dear friend gave me a Keurig, and I adore it. But it is absolutely the most extravagant thing I’ve had in a very long time!

But anyway. It’s the simple pleasures that bring even more pleasure than the fancy ones, don’t you think? Our pace is so hectic, our lives are more than crazy, and between work and our responsibilities at home, we don’t have much time left for ourselves. So, sure. Women get pedicures. That’s something for a break of sorts. But is it really? Sitting in a chair in a crowded place with lots of other chairs? I love pedicures, but I don’t think it’s a simple pleasure.

What else. I can’t possibly say how much I love sitting in my chair with an afghan and the cats sitting on the ottoman between my feet. What I love even more is falling asleep in said chair. I always sleep like a baby when I do that. A definite simply pleasurable act.

One of the things about these simple things is that they are usually extremely inexpensive or free. You can’t beat that, can you?

Don’t get me wrong. I can’t wait to go back to Costa Rica. I fell in love with that country a couple of years ago. However, it’s going to be awhile.

Meanwhile, I went to the dollar store today. I bought a yo-yo, some bubbles, and some new tea for my friend. And then I went to the park, got on a swing and had a simply terrific time. Maybe you’d like to tell me now what simple pleasures you like? I hope so. Have a blessed day.


Filed under Angel, Friendship, Pleasure, Spirituality, Uncategorized


Puff. What do you think about when you see this word? A simple little word stands for many things. If you’re a child of the a60’s, you may remember Peter, Paul and Mary’s song, “Puff the Magic Dragon.” If you click on the link, you can listen to it while you read! Everyone always said the song was about marijuana, but I still just think of it as a cute children’s song for kids of all ages.

Cream puffs melt in your mouth. In the South, custard is the standard filling for cream puffs. But when I was a child, I remember them as having fluffy whipped cream inside.

A puff of cigarette smoke is anathema to someone who is allergic.

You can make beautiful  bubbles by puffing your breath at some soap on a small plastic wand with two open circles in it.

As you’re walking into the post office, a woman walks by. She’s dressed to the nines and you detect a puff of sensual perfume as she passes.

Puff on a dandelion, and it’s tender feather-like blossom blows apart and scatters to the wind.

What other definitions or uses of the word do you know? I’d love it if you’d share with me and my readers!

Today is December 22, 2012, and the holiday season is in full swimg. In nine days, this year will be over. What has it brought to you? What have you learned? How have you grown? What have you done for others? What have you done for yourself? How is your relationship with God? Do you even have one? Do you want one? Why or why not? Hmmm…lots of questions. I always raised my hand when I was in school; I always asked lots of questions. It drove some of the students nuts, but the teachers mostly liked it because it told them I was engaged in the learning process.

I’m still engaged in the learning process, but not academically. Every day I learn something new or see a  fresh way of looking at someone or something in my life.

My life is slower than it’s ever been before, and that is somewhat disconcerting at times. On the other hand, it gives me more time to think and plan, reflect and pray, and to just rest. Did you take five minutes out of your day to thank God for something or someone in your life? Have you ever made a gratitude list when you’re under stress, angry or confused?

Gratitude lists have a way of clearing the mind from negative thoughts. When you’re concentrating on the positive, it’s impossible to also dwell on the negative. You should try it sometime. Just put three things a day on a piece of paper and do it for two weeks. When you start feeling sorry for yourself, being angry or just feeling restless and discontent, look at the list. You’d be amazed at how changing your thoughts improves your life in such a short time.

Puff – a magic word with many meanings. Puff, a whole new day begins. Puff, 2012 comes to a close. Puff, we are here today and gone tomorrow. Puff…just sit with the word. It’s so special. It’s soft on your lips, has a sing-song ring to it, and looks really neat in writing. Grab a cream puff and gobble it down. It’s okay. The diet can start in a few days or a week or two. There’s no hurry really, is there?


Filed under Holidays, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Turn Your Face to the Sun

Lady scarecrow in Dahlonega, Georgia, 2012, Ellie Kuykendall

Lady scarecrow in Dahlonega, Georgia, 2012, Ellie Kuykendall

When I visited Dahlonega, Georgia this fall with my dear friend Mary Jo, the city was having a scarecrow festival. So many unique and charming scarecrows would surely bring the birds in to see them, rather than scaring the birds away!

How was your autumn this year? Mine had its ups and downs, just like my life in general. I was privileged to go to Waynesville, North Carolina, with a high school friend. Our stated purpose was to see the fall colors in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. We did that. We also ate wonderful food, had long talks, and he even listened to me cry a couple of times. We hadn’t spend any time together since high school, really, and we were not looking for romance with each other. Just friends, thanks. And isn’t just having a friend a wonderful thing in itself?

When I picked out the main photo for this blog entry, the lady above seemed perfect. She has her face turned toward the sun.  Is your face turned toward the sun? Mine is, at least most of the time.

“But what about when it’s raining, snowing or foggy,” you ask.

The sun is always there. You can turn your face that way on any day. When you do it, you alter your face, because who can resist smiling on a bright and sunny day? Who wouldn’t laugh in delight when looking at crowds of cumulus clouds in a bright blue sky?

It is not always easy to keep your attitude positive when you feel like you’re being bombarded by the hard times in life, whether they be financial, relationship-oriented, work-related, family matters or health issues. But what’s your alternative?

You can go around frowning.  Sniveling. Shrugging your shoulders. Wrinkling your eyebrows.  Screaming as if you are watching a horror movie. Crying a river of tears with no rowboat in sight. Have an argument with someone. Kick the ball so hard it bursts.

Options? Not for me. I’d rather turn my face toward the sun and feel God’s love shining down on me. How about you?



Filed under Feelings, Spirituality, Uncategorized


Fall leaves outside of Waynesville, North Carolina

I took this a couple of weeks ago. Most of the leaves are gone this week, driven down to the ground by wind, rain and snow.

Last week, I saw a Swallowtail butterfly stopping off for a drink at my butterfly bush. A few minutes later, another one of these lovely creatures appeared.

Fluttering by – the leaves and the butterflies…on their way to the end of their lives. And not minding at all.

People mind the thought of their lives ending. We think we should be entitled to live forever as we gather more and more things, find fabulous clothes to show off our bodies, and compete for which set of toenails has the best nail art. Oh, forgive me. I forgot tattoos.

I’m glad I don’t have tattoos, because I don’t want to look at my wrinkled skin when I’m old and see crinkly tattoos. But it’s perfectly all right for others to have them. I really don’t care much what others do. And I’m not worried about the end of my life. I’m too busy trying to do the next right thing in my own life for today. That’s a job, all right.

People flutter by in our lives as well. My friend from high school and I went to see the leaves together last week. We hadn’t spent any time together in more than forty years. We had a nice trip, stopping off at the old general store (of course I had to buy some of my favorite old-time candies). The rainbow trout I had for dinner both nights was delicious. My only regret was that I didn’t have my fishing rod with me! Now my friend has fluttered back to California, and I am still here in South Carolina with my two constants – Annie and Bootsie, my rescued kitties.

I just celebrated my 64th birthday. What a lot of living I’ve done. And what a lot of living I still have to do. I wish you well, my readers. Have a blessed day!


Filed under Uncategorized

Spinning Out of Control or Taking One Day at a Time?

This great photo is compliments of Seemann at

I was trying to think of a subject for tonight’s blog. And then it came from my lovely muse, who takes such good care of me.

Does your life feel as if it’s spinning out of control?

You’re not going in the career direction you want.

Your relationship/s with your spouse/partner, kids, friends, boss or co-workers isn’t what you want.

You get up in the morning, grab a cup of coffee and a piece of toast and then get yourself and/or your family ready for the day. Then you jump in the car, drive to work through awful commute traffic, park and run in to start your work day. After work, it’s the same story in reverse. By 9 p.m., you are exhausted and wonder what it’s all about.

Or maybe you’re a student. You go to school each day and wonder what the payoff will be in a year or ten.

Remember that old song, “Alfie?” Here’s a link to it if you haven’t heard it in awhile or if you’ve never heard it. Hint…you can click on the link and it will open in a new window so you can listen while you read. Pretty cool, huh? Well, I think it is!

Anyway, Alfie was a playboy. He was never satisfied with one woman. That’s all I remember about the move. If you’re so inclined, you can rent it.

One of the lines in the song is, “Without true love, we just exist.”

And that, my friends, is what it’s all about if you want to stop feeling that your life is spinning like a top.

I learned this the hard way. Two years ago I was diagnosed with an incurable illness. Then last year, my doctor found out that I also have an incurable/unfixable (is that a word?) condition. I have to go into the hospital every two/three months to be treated.

Getting this news made me stand up and pay attention. And gradually, very slowly over the last six months or so, I realized that if I want the peace that passes all understanding, I have to slow down enough to recognize it in the small things (and in the big things, too).

I’ve had to slow down so much that I hardly recognize myself. It’s called taking one day at a time. And it works.

I still plan things, but I know that if my condition warrants a hospital visit when the time comes for the plans to come to fruition, that’s the way it will be.

It’s utterly amazing what I’ve seen and learned about myself and about other people.

I had to learn to be patient with medical staff.

I found out that the major medicine I take for short periods causes massive side effects. At one time, I had 17 of them.

I discovered that a lot of people don’t like to visit patients in the hospital.

I learned that the people you love will stick by you no matter what happens. This group includes very close friends and family members.

There is more, but most important of all, I had to accept the illness.

And in doing that, I also discovered that there are a lot of folks out there who are in worse condition than I am. And they keep going. And so do I.

Above everything, I have to turn over my will and my life to God’s care every day. I have to let God lead me down whatever paths I take now or in the future.

And that, dear readers, is the secret above all secrets. You don’t have to do it alone. I Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Have a blessed day.


Filed under Health, Spirituality, Work