Loving dioramas

Last week, the second graders carried them carefully from the bus or car, through the main door, to their classes, so proud of their accomplishments. I watched in the main hallway with anticipation and truly as much excitement as their enthusiasm. I remember I was about their age when I built my first diorama.

During the early 1960’s, I was sitting quietly at the dinette table rolling tiny papers and painting them brown. It was a log cabin in a shoe box and the tiny rolls were logs for the fireplace. It took a long time, with little interruption to roll the logs and paint. In fact, the entire room was an effort because I was not good at art. No one in my family was good at art. But I loved making this log cabin. Maybe, because it was so much like setting up a doll house.

In the early 1990’s, I remember helping my own children; one was about actually building a tepee for an Indian habitat.  This was also during the days when the Pocahontas movie made it big in 1995. Actually, we had a Pocahontas birthday party for my daughter where they made their own cardboard paper dolls with markers, felt, glitter, beads, feathers; almost as big as each guest that came. But now, I am truly reminiscing off track.

Dioramas for school projects allow a great deal of creativity, inspiration and the materials available today are overwhelming. You can actually look at YouTube videos on how to make one out of a shoe box or display box. You can use needle nose pliers, any type of glue or masking tape though one student told me her family showed her how to use a hot glue gun, just for her diorama. She was scared but she did it without injury.

Most students used markers, crayons and some used paint to create their backdrop. Some cut up photographs or printed out photos online to add to their design. Some actually purchased craft trees of all types and one used blue marbles to show a water stream. Many used miniature animals and birds to highlight their scene. The birds actually flew, attached with string from the top of the inside of the box, not falling while the students walked down the hallways.

After seeing the children and dioramas arrive at school, I couldn’t wait to take pictures of some of them. I just had to see them again and again. I had to have something to remember. And I had to share with you!

I really do love dioramas. Maybe someone, someday, next year in school perhaps, will ask if I could help them build…..

 

Pitching in on Earth Day April 22

By Caryl Clem:

Upon hearing the word “Earth”, I envision lofty mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, and majestic examples of earth’s geography.  I feel filled with a mixture of awe and gratitude for our planet. In 1970 on April 22, a movement led by a Harvard Law School student, brought 20 million people together to show support for protecting the environment, the first Earth Day. I am reminded that viewing the earth is only part of the big picture. My actions influence how the earth will continue to appear and function as a life giving resource.

While listening to television, I am encouraged to support 4ocean, a  company founded by 2 surfers that has removed over 4 million pounds of plastic trash from the ocean since 2017.  All these efforts were funded by selling  products made from recycled trash.   Explaining how the company improves the environment is covered in these four pillars: Optimizing Technology, Creating Jobs, Education & Awareness and New Global Economies.  A bracelet titled, Earth Day, is among the selection of various styles.

About 2 years ago,  I decided to cut out plastic grocery bags.  The sturdy cloth bags that were used to haul my books were converted to food transport. I was inspired by standing behind a lady insisting groceries to be placed in bags she supplied. The food industry is starting to respond from pressure to reform packaging.  Trader Joe’s is taking steps to eliminate plastic after a Greenpeace petition with 91,000 signatures demonstrated consumer concern about plastic. McDonald’s has announced plans to eliminate harmful food packaging .  Two American companies are providing safer packaging https://begreenpackaging.com/, and https://worldcentric.com.   Begreenpackaging states the products are 100% tree free constructed from plant fiber.

American ingenuity is evident in finding ways to reduce pollution. Stay informed by using this link www.goodnet.org  to discover advances to protect our planet such as Dow company building polymer asphalt roads in Texas, and Dykes Paving using pins to stabilize roads made from soda bottles. Maryland is the first state to take steps with bill-HB109 to ban polystyrene containers.  A technique to use plastic bags to power Smartphones was published in February at Good News 

Since 65% of our drinking water comes from rivers, clean river water is vital. Our citizens are pitching in using“the National River Cleanup Program™, more than one million people have removed 13 million pounds of litter from rivers across America.” Deciding to take action can lead to positive changes.

Millions of consumers demanding environmentally safe products will impact the quality of air and water. As nine countries make plans to eliminate gasoline fuel emissions, electric cars will dominate the market.  Our lifestyles determine pollution control. Every step counts, it’s up to us to care.  To a future of thinking and doing GREEN for our precious earth.

Want some tips for cutting plastic out of your life? Start here.

Pitch What’s True

Ten thousand pitches in the form of queries, pitches, proposals, manuscripts, submissions that she has evaluated in the twenty-five years of publishing books and running publishing companies.

Sharon Woodhouse, is owner and publisher of Everything Goes Media, a nonfiction book publishing company with four imprints and consulting division, Conspire Creative. She is truly an expert and has shared her knowledge in workshops to thousands of writers on navigating the best path to a published nonfiction book. And now she has put her material in a book as well as the assessment tools she and her editorial team uses when they evaluate a new project.

Pitch What’s True is a workbook that expands your knowledge of what publishing a nonfiction book is all about and what that can mean in your life as an author. Many do not acknowledge the true process, energy and commitment that is involved in becoming a published writer and building a relationship with the publisher. The book is a checklist on understanding general publishing industry insights such as knowing what publishing options are available; the Literary Marketplace and Publishers marketplace are some examples. Pitch What’s True also helps authors differentiate between the success of print and digital formats.

The workbook discusses gaining intense knowledge of the specific publisher you are pitching. Will your book, for example, open up new groups of customers and be a financial asset to the publisher? The workbook also provides a step by step cheat sheet for finding and contacting the optimal publisher for your book. Which publishers should be at the top of your list, aiming, for example, at least 50 to 100 publishers total?

To showcase the true value of your talent as a writer and really put your soul into the publishing game, contact Everything Goes Media website for more information on purchasing this excellent tool, Pitch What’s True. Great exercises are included to keep you on track in the publishing process to meet your own goals.

Kids on wheels can thank a Chicago entrepreneur

By Caryl Clem:

Chicago hosted the World’s Fair in 1933 where businessmen showcased their products hoping for worldwide approval. A young Italian immigrant had first designed a wagon in 1917 named Liberty Coaster to honor his first impression of landing in New York. He came to Chicago hoping to own his own business, working his way up in the world by various jobs that including washing celery to sell.  By the 1930’s in Elmwood, his manufacturing firm was expanding producing his renamed wagon, The Radio Flyer.

Antonio bravely risked most of his money to grow his business as he made plans for the Chicago World’s Fair. He and another immigrant friend constructed a giant boy and his wagon for his exhibit. Antonio Pasin passed out toy wagons for 25 cents each to future customers interested in his product.  After this business venture, he became famous and firmly established his company’s image to be part of every child’s future.

Through the decades, this wagon worked its way into parents and kids worlds mixing fantasy and reality. Radio Flyers had featured specials from Disney star specials to the 1950’s model I used, “Town and Country.” I delivered papers, transported flower pots and found countless uses for my wagon. I even trained my dog to take rides as I pulled the wagon.  Antonio had a flair for appealing to his customer base by clever advertising. I recall a slogan in the 1950’s , “The only wagon to outsell the Ford station wagon”.The product line kept evolving adding scooters, tricycles, and plastic replaces metal by 1994.

The current CEO is a grandson of the Pasin founder who turned a sagging business in the late 1990’s into a powerhouse that still rocks with success selling in the 100 million dollar range.  Robert Pasin enacted product development as the main focus, researching how the product was used by the consumer. In 2011, a Play Lab with a test tract was installed in the Chicago main office. “Radio Flyer offers nice perks: flex time, parties for employees and their families, a wellness reimbursement program, an exercise room, and a garden with a walking path at Chicago headquarters.

Last year, Crain’s Business Chicago ranked the company the seventh-best place to work in the city, calling out its employee incentives and philanthropic efforts. Radio Flyer donates thousands of wagons to local and national charities.

I don’t think you can outgrow the love of a wagon ride so as Spring Days are rapidly approaching, it is time to get your Radio Flyer Wagons out of hibernation.

Tribute to single parents on March 21st

By Caryl Clem:

On March 21st, a shout out and special THANK YOU to single parents for meeting the challenges of raising children solo. Praise for the over 19 million single parents facing all the duties parenting involves with dedication and devotion.

Factors that lead to single parenting are diverse in today’s culture. Parenting magazine covers a wide range of possibilities from a war veteran returning to Vietnam to take his child back to the United States to a never married, over 40 years old woman, internationally adopting a child.  The 1960’s research to uncover why single parenting occurred pointed to lack of birth control and poor education. In the broad spectrum of single parents today, only 13% are the result of teen pregnancy.  The frequency of divorce has had a much larger impact. According to recent statistics, over 44% of single mothers were married. The image of an “average” single mother today is changing from past perceptions. She is older, educated, has full time employment, and participates in a network of community support while raising more than one child.

Over 3 million men are the sole parent, shouldering the double parenting roles on their own. Today’s single parents represent an exceptionally talented and skillful group who are able to navigate the seas of child rearing successfully. Moving forward, children of single parents are able to be just as successful as children from two parent homes.

The “to do” list for raising emotionally stable children applies to everyone.  Current research is documenting that positive single parent kids have these advantages:  1) closer communication bonds with their parent and involved family caretakers 2) ability to respond to situations sharing responsibility 3) are friendly and cooperative working with others. (Nicole Lyn Pesce, “Research shows single moms are raising kick-ass kids” March 20, 2018.)  As single parents increase their support systems, the premise, it takes a village, pays off for their children. New York Post quote, “The children of many single-parent families have the same success as those with married parents”.

Anyone who has had the opportunity to share shaping a child’s dreams into a future reality understands the mix of magic and challenges. Today, single parenting has resources from support groups and community organizations. Since 1957 the agency, Parents without Partners, has been offering a spectrum of services to address the needs single parenting presents. The birthday of this group is March 21, a fitting day to declare a tribute to single parents!  In recognition that family is the most important factor in our lives; praise for the single parents in our communities!

Saluting lovers of peanut butter

By Caryl Clem:

Savored American foods have a special recognition day.  I felt guilty about missing one of my favorite all American foods on its special day January 24th.  After reading the holiday list for March, I discovered my chance at redemption.  March 1st is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day.  My favorite 1950’s lunch, a peanut butter and banana sandwich nestled in my brown lunch bag alongside an apple and a homemade cookie. I refused to eat pink, slippery meat or anything that came out of a can. Even when high school offered cafeteria food, I kept a jar of peanut butter in my locker as a backup against hunger. I had learned that during World War I and II, peanut butter sandwiches were a military staple. The icon, Mr. Peanut, was shown wearing a uniform during WWII ads.  Today, Care Package Instructions for our honorable soldiers still suggest a jar of peanut butter.

We peanut butter lovers can claim kinship with Elvis, The King, who would fly a private jet to a restaurant in Colorado that featured his favorite peanut butter sandwich concoction on its menu. Even though the restaurant is closed, our modern social information network offers several how to video’s on YouTube explaining how to create Elvis’s Peanut Butter, Banana, and Bacon sandwich. Remember the detective Colombo’s trench coat with deep pockets he would slip food into during his scenes?  His snacks included hard boiled eggs, peanut butter with raisins sandwich or chili.  If you are a devoted older fan of peanut butter, join the adult Peanut Butter Lover’s Fan Club, and read posts from celebrities written by Texas hauntings.  Current celebrities range from Tom Selleck , Barbara Walters, Billy Joel, to Madonna.

John Harvey Kellogg (founder of Kellogg cereal) patented the first process for making peanut butter in 1895 by steaming the nuts and served it to his patients at his sanitarium. By 1897, the magazine, Popular Science News did an article covering “Recent inventions” suggesting that peanut butter could be used in cooking just as a shortening replacing butter or lard.  By 1902, a Mrs. Rore in her New Cook Book, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania published a peanut butter cookie recipe.  At the 1904 World’s Fair, D.H. Sumner successfully sold a peanut butter treat at his concession stand. New methods evolve, a Californian patents churning peanut butter and using roasted nuts improves the taste.

As a source of protein that was economical and tasty, in 1927 Peter Pan Peanut Butter was noted as one of the most popular snacks for that year. Are you a crunchy or creamy fan? The West section of the U.S. and males usually favors crunchy style while the Eastern section and females favor creamy.  Peanut butter becomes the new star in a cookie recipe dessert in 1932 published The Schenectady Gazette. A section of the cooking instructions includes the distinctive fork crisscross technique used to flatten the peanut butter cookie mound, to ensure evenly distributing the heat while baking.

Proving the popularity of peanut butter cookies today is the statistic from the National Peanut Board reporting 230,000 pounds of peanut butter are used a week to bake the Girl Scouts Do-si-do’s and Tagalongs.  Pillsbury recommends the best recipes for peanut butter cookies in 1933 and 1936. The Peanut Blossom claims fame in 1999 in the Pillsbury Hall of Fame Bake-Off. This recipe was from Freda Smith of Ohio who had no chocolate chips to add to her peanut butter/chocolate chip cookie recipe so she topped the mound with a Hershey Kiss.

Saving the best for last, Peanut butter (or its taste cousin flavor blending caramel and peanuts) with chocolate lay next to each other in a candy bar. Love and marriage mates in the candy world, ingredients that stick together with ease.  According to current Google statistics, Number 1 candy bar debut in 1930 named after horse-Snickers, closely followed by Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup first invented in 1923 by a Hershey employee. To keep his invention from being stolen, Reese first appeared in vending machines. By the 1940’s Reese started commanding the store market. Butterfinger bars were dropped from planes to introduce the new candy. Babe Ruth from the same candy company as Butterfinger comes in last. In an age of changing food tastes, candy bars created nearly 100 years ago are going strong.

The standard composition for peanut butter requires 90% no matter what your brand choice.  The oldest peanut butter company, Krema Products Company, is still operating in Columbus, Ohio. No matter what you combine peanut butter with; you will never have to worry about biting off more than you can chew.  Holidays celebrating the influence of the peanut include,  National Peanut Butter Day-January 24,Peanut Butter and Jelly Day-April 2  (https://www.thedailymeal.com/eat/pinstripes-peanut-butter-jelly-menu/032718),Peanut Butter Cookie Day-June 12,Mr. Peanut Day-April 20, Peanut Butter Cookie Day-June 12 Peanut Butter Month-November

Food for thought

For Baby Boomers and their parents, the kitchen was the most visited room in the house. At the kitchen table, everyone gathered most evenings from 5-7 to have dinner together and it wasn’t a holiday either.

Dinner time could be the only time of day the entire family could discuss daily events and it was not just an extra-curricular activity, it was a required family moment. This was a sacred time and missing it was not an option. My dinner time was always 6pm; not a minute before or after. If I was blocks away from my home, a cell phone alarm was not available to remind me when to return for dinner.  On a warm summers evening or cold day in winter, my mother’s outdoor voice could be heard for blocks announcing that the dinner hour was approaching. A few children would hear the distant sounds of a dinner bell and you had better run in its direction.

Some were not reminded by their Mom or Dad screaming from the household porch or clanging the bell but were to show up at exactly the designated hour because that hour never changed regardless of illness or circumstances beyond control. There were serious consequences if arriving late or not at all.

Since most Moms were home, dinner time was their shining moment; one of Mom’s many talents along with organizing their children’s day and housekeeping. This was where they excelled at preparing mouthwatering recipes. Many meals followed a weekly plan that included special dinners on specific nights like Spagetti Tuesday and Meatloaf Thursday.

Meals were not popped in the microwave with help from Stouffers family size box. Jack’s Frozen Pizza and Swansons TV  Dinners was an exception only if Mom was bedridden. Then the crock pot started to make its appearance.

Making homemade dinners in the 1980’s/ 1990’s, for a short time I was home making an historic meat loaf, pork chops with mushroom and cheddar cheese sauce and all day long spaghetti sauce but then I turned to the crockpot. Crockpot dinners included a variety of stews along with a few Hamburger helper meals thrown in.

Today it is the Instant Pot. My 31 year old son bought me one last year for Mothers Day making all day stews and even desserts in less than an hour. I must say it is the best

But why not relive family mealtime memories together by pulling out the oil-stained metal recipe box and leaf through the crinkled notecards along with yellowed newspaper articles of recipes long ago.

You may even find the recipe you were so proud when you asked Mom to contribute her best creation to be published in the PTA recipe book along with your friends. That contribution had made you a star and if she had won any ribbons, it would be a wonderful story to share with each other as you prepare. If you look closely behind the recipe box on the shelf, the book will be there, I guarantee it.

It is a wonderful school

“My whole life has been in education,”  I said in conversation with the principal at Elizabeth Ide School a few days ago. And so I begin to reminisce.

This all began over 50 years ago for me; babysitting, reading books, and playing with the neighborhood toddlers at the age of 12. Over 40 years ago, I began teaching high school for ten years and then began teaching junior high at a special education alternative school. I would have stayed, but the money wasn’t the best for putting two children through college.

For 10,000 dollars more, I was offered an administrative position at a for-profit college which I took. My children could take advantage of tuition reimbursement. But that school had a massive, corporate lay off which I was included. Like a car salesman being picked up at another dealership, I was picked up by another school. Finally, the school or should I say company, closed for good. Eventually, it was agreed upon in my family that applying for a teacher assistant or becoming a substitute would be the best choice.Those positions are always in demand.

So I subbed and assisted in one of the more highly-acclaimed and well-paid districts in Naperville. I saw some excellent teaching. I saw some very poor instruction of teachers  lecturing to a classroom; constantly glancing at their cell phone. I heard a teacher call a student a jerk.

I had applied to a variety of schools at the time and I always loved the kindergarten as well as the early, primary grades. The day after I had been hired at Elizabeth Ide School, grades kindergarten through second in Darien, it was God’s gift that one who knew my employment struggle and was a personal job reference revealed that his children went to the school. I had no idea.

“It is a wonderful school,”  he said. I also found out that another friend was employed for over 30 years within the same district…..Center Cass School District 66, though she was at another school that had closed. “The culture is so competent and caring there,  she said. At the time, I did not realize her school was part of the same district.

After assisting almost two years at the school, it truly is a wonderful school! I don’t think I have ever seen a teacher who is not totally focused on expressing learning opportunities for their students. They are constantly on in a positive light. They are engaged in their children’s needs from the time they arrive in the morning until they leave at night. They are brilliant at executing ideas to help students grow. They know exactly how to help build amazing futures for them.

Throughout the entire district, the teachers love their job, but most of all, they love their students with a passion unequal to most school environments that I have observed.  Administration,assistants and support staff also intensely work, side by side, to demonstrate their love and pride for the students.

Currently, the district teachers are fighting for a fair contract. They have been without a contract since August 2018. According to CCEA Inspires, if the Board accepts the teachers proposal, no new taxes will affect the community as well as no program cuts.

Then why????

Why aren’t we assuring that the best educators remain in the district? In the process, if teachers and staff are able to thrive, we are also guaranteeing that the value of our home and village is recognized as one of the most promising as far as education excellence. Our own children will want to raise their families here.

Even if present home owners taxes were increased, the advantages far outweigh the immediate circumstances. As a homeowner of over 30 years in a neighboring Downers Grove school district, I have voted yes to numerous referendums and supported teacher strikes while watching my property value almost double.

Maybe the Board just doesn’t realize how valuable their teachers really are. Maybe all I can do is try to share my experience and help them re-examine the teachers proposals.

Ultimately, you can help too. If you are a member of the community or just interested in supporting the teachers at Center Cass School District 66, the Board of Education is providing an Informational Session next week for parents and friends to learn more.

Please check out the Center Cass website. The teachers need your attention and time is running out.

.

Epiphany Day and other Italian flair in Chicago

By Caryl Clem

Grace, charm and simplicity were evident in the Nativity scene that was a treasured Christmas decoration sitting on the fireplace mantle. Baby Jesus and family was the honored first symbol of Christmas to be placed inside our home.  Above the manager scene is a handmade star spreading rays of light.   The revered Christ child display derives from Italy. Naples was the first crib maker, Presepe Napoletano, dating back to 1025 before St. Francis of Assisi in 1225 included scenes with a crib in the Christmas story.

In Italy, Christmas celebrations start with prayer and a service to commemorate the Immaculate Conception of Mary on December eighth. Festivities include open Christmas markets, Father Christmas and the custom of setting cribs out in yards awaiting the arrival of Baby Jesus who is placed in the crib on the 24th of December. Constructing a pyramid of shelves above the Nativity landscape base includes common animals with a mix of the famous and ordinary is a custom practiced across Italy. Naples features a Nativity scene with over 600 items featuring an entire street dedicated to this business.  Novena is nine days before Christmas to honor the shepherd’s journey to find Baby Jesus.

Christmas Eve has several traditions including children dressed as shepherds, wearing robes and sandals, singing carols, while playing shepherd pipes. Adults parade as shepherd bagpipers in costume of former times. Especially in Southern Italy, on Christmas Eve “ Estra dei sette Pesci” or the Feast of Seven Fishes offers seafood which has become very popular in America by Italian families. A light meal avoiding meat is served before going to a midnight Christmas Mass; afterwards a Christmas cake called Panettone is served .Christmas Day is spent eating during the entire day.  Modern Italians exchange gifts on Christmas day. Children write letters to Father Christmas for gifts and to their parent to tell them why they are loved.

As songs fill the air during the Christmas season, I start humming along anytime The Twelve Days of Christmas plays.  As I visualized ladies dancing while lords are leaping, I am clueless that the 12 days of Christmas has religious origins. In Italy and 11 countries around the world, Epiphany is a public holiday, celebrated on January 6th,   a religious event celebrating the Three Wise Men and the baptism of Jesus. Throughout Italy, customs vary, while rural villages open gifts on St Lucia day, December 13 th or on January 6th from the good witch, Befana or the Three Wise Men. The Christmas season ends as the Carnival season begins that finishes with Mardi Gras.

In the Chicago area, by the year 2000, over half a million can claim Italian ancestry. Taylor Street to Ashlan and then to Morgan are referred to as “Little Italy”.,  sometimes called University Village. The neighborhood is just between the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) campus and the Illinois Medical District. Little Italy continues to thrive with some of the best restaurants as well as Mario’s Italian Lemonade on Taylor Street. Scafuri Bakery opened in 1904 after the Scarfuri family immigrated in 1901. Luigi used to give out free bread during the Depression which may account for the family’s success today. Besides being known for its bread and pastries, the Italian cookies are very popular. Als Beef goes back to 1938 and offers several locations throughout Chicago and its suburbs. The Rosebud restaurant is named after the Sicily flower on Taylor street and serves some of the best Italian pasta, chicken, and veal cuisine with several locations.

 

Just Thankful

Thanksgiving’s historical beginnings belong to the Pilgrims and the Winnebago Indians who celebrated the harvest festival. For us, it is a day of remembrance that we spend with family featuring fine foods such as turkey, giblets, stuffing, potatoes, vegetables and a variety of pies, pumpkin usually being the first on everyone’s list. Good food, though a part of the Thanksgiving history, is always a priority and excuse for any holiday here in the US.

However, another added tribute to Thanksgiving is football in America as the male counterparts of the family gather in front of the set, stomachs ready for the game ahead though in some households many try to make that annual attempt to toss their own ball in the back as the women wait to see who will be the first injured player. But that is ok, it is tradition.

As families prepare for the festivities gathering the necessary ingredients for the grand table, many do find some quiet time to evaluate the year and decide what they are truly thankful for during the holiday season. And the list can vary from the joy of being a grandparent to even finding a close parking space on Black Friday. But, thankfully, Thanksgiving encourages the lists of thanks for the simple pleasures, wonderful people, and maybe just another year of life to spend with those we love. Gratitude is taught and hopefully remembered throughout our days beyond the yearly celebration where we can truly reflect on how lucky we are in our own light.

So here it is again, my list of never ending thankful moments and surprisingly, with the exception of new personal introductions of family and friends, it always focuses on the same.

  • I am thankful for time and not wasting it.
  • I am thankful for great books, hobbies and the word bored that is not a part of my vocabulary
  • I am thankful for logs in my fireplace and the fire starters that really work.
  • I am thankful that I refuse to give up on my dreams.
  • I am thankful that I will never be too old.
  • I am thankful that my daughter bakes better pastries than me.
  • I am thankful that Len does all the cooking
  • But I am thankful for my son who gave me a instant pot to try to cook once again and I love it
  • I am thankful for all my classroom children that teach me how to be a child again
  • I am thankful for Gladys Knight and the Pips my favorite recording of “You Are the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me” because it honors so many in my life.
  • I am thankful for our service men and women who courageously fight today and sacrifice their own desires
  • I am thankful for my pet, who is always waiting for me
  • I am thankful that I don’t have to choose my words carefully; my pet always knows what I mean.
  • I am thankful that my mistakes have guided others.
  • I am thankful for all of you who so faithfully read my articles and for those out there that always bounce back when life seems to curve so dangerously without warning and inspire others to charge ahead with positive anticipation and grace.

And, finally, as my personal collection of years keep passing me by, I am truly grateful that my gratitude list richly grows for without the essence of being grateful for so much, nothing else can make a difference.

Originally published in Grand Magazine http://www.grandmagazine.com/2012/11/what-to-be-thankful-for-this-thanksgiving/