Twelve Months. Twelve Days. Twelve Moments.

To wrap up my year, I decided to choose one picture from each month of my phone’s 2015 camera roll.  When I actually sat down to do it, it wasn’t so easy.  Do you choose your favorite picture, or a picture of your favorite day, or a shot of something you still laugh about now, months later?   And it’s different choosing a picture now versus what I may have chosen months ago.  Our memories change.  Our emotions change.

These twelve pictures were clicks on my phone.  So fast.  They were simple and memorable and perfect in their own way.  That’s what moments are.  They add up to the hours of our days, and the days of our months and years.  Sartre compared moments to little diamonds.  Aren’t they though?  Some small, some big, some you’ll never have … some brilliant, some rough, all perfect in their own way.

It’s good to look back as we set intentions for the new year.  There are important people and important things that happen in our lives every single day.  It is about those big goals we set in front of us, and it’s about the little things too.  The lovely perfect and not-so-perfect things.  It is about the things we looked forward to, and those we never intended on, never planned on, never knew would come.  It is about the every day, and how we live each moment.


“She smiled and said with an ecstatic air: “It shines like a little diamond”,
“What does?”
“This moment. It is round, it hangs in empty space like a little diamond; I am eternal.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre, The Age of Reason


“If the whole world I once could see
On free soil stand, with the people free
Then to the moment might I say,
Linger awhile. . .so fair thou art.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: First Part

What Does It Mean

One of the best aspects of my personal happiness project is finding places or knowing places where I am supposed to be.  A feeling comes over me.  I’m at peace.  I’m doing the right thing.  I’m happy.  Rotary is one of those places.

I first joined in the mid 1990’s.  We were a new club, full of energy and service.  I didn’t know what I had back then – didn’t fully appreciate it. I was years away from my project, so bitterness and worry still played too big a part in my life.  Now, twenty years later, in a different club, I know and understand.

The Greater Anderson Rotary Club organizes and participates in many service projects throughout the year.  When I saw the blurb in our newsletter about mentoring in a local kindergarten class, I jumped at the chance.  And when a friend asked me to help with a dictionary delivery, I jumped at that too.

For years, the club has donated dictionaries to every 3rd grader in Anderson County, South Carolina.  I was lucky enough to go with Kathryn to Starr and Iva Elementary Schools in District 3.  What a fun group of kids!  We had five or ten minutes in each classroom, explaining our project and how they can use the books.  Teachers had the option to keep the dictionaries in the class or send them home.  We also introduced them to the Four Way Test, an important part of Rotary clubs all over the world.


Kathryn had each class of students look up “beneficial”.  In 3rd grade, they haven’t all covered dictionary use in their curriculum yet.  I suppose many just use or an app.  It seemed like the kids enjoyed swiping their finger along paper rather than a screen.  I hope so.  I hope they’ll learn many new words, making check marks as they go.

Rotary is important in our world.  The Four Way Test is important.  This international organization, founded more than 100 years ago, and now with more than a million members, has an impact on local communities, countries, and our world.  It has an impact on me.  Rotary has played a tremendous role in moving our world closer to polio-free status.  #endpolionow  Rotarians know the value of mentoring, a local dictionary project, coins for Alzheimer’s research, and the fight to end a crippling disease.  Try the Four Way Test on that.

May you all find a place where you are supposed to be.  Enjoy.



A Morning Walk

Years ago, I posted about my daily walk in Shenyang.  I made that walk so often going to Chinese class and the gym.  My view is different now that we’re back in South Carolina.  I still think of that vined archway that isn’t there anymore, the guitarist playing for small bills in the tunnel under Qingnian Dajie, and the way the buildings tower above.  I miss it.

Within a week back in the US, my friend D told me that I would grow tired of the question, “Are you glad to be back?”  Well, of course we are.  We’re glad to be back in a country where we can read everything and understand.  We’re more capable of navigating the politics and bullshit.  But people don’t ask that question in the same way we answer it.  People ask as though it’s a comparison.  “Glad” to be back here rather than still in Shenyang, as though the last five and a half years were tragic somehow.  A hardship.  And being back is better.  It’s difficult to be with people who don’t think about or appreciate our life there, and that we miss it from time to time.  But at least some people ask something.

This is part of culture shock.  Or maybe it’s just part of every day life.  Folks go on about their business.  Maybe they ask questions so they can answer it themselves.  Or they ask questions about only that which they know.  Many just live their lives in a state of comparison.

I’d rather live this life than that life.  I’d rather be a country mouse than a city mouse.  I’d rather be like me than be like her.  Well, you know what?  I’d rather Daniel Craig acknowledge that he is my secret boyfriend.  I’d rather peanut M&M’s were actually good for you.  I’d rather be sure that Glenn is still alive.

So, yes, I am glad to be in the United States, where life in Smalltown, America is pretty darn good.  I am glad that my morning walks are highlighted by blue skies and red brick.  I am happy to drive my little car down highway 29 every morning, saying hello to the cows on my way to work.

But I would be happy there too.  It isn’t a question of rather.


On the Trail

For my first post since moving back to South Carolina, I take to the outdoors.  We had heard a lot about the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, and I took a field trip to check it out.

I started at the grocery-cafe near Old Buncombe Road and walked in a northerly direction to Sulphur Springs Road.  This is about two miles one-way.  I saw plenty of other walkers, runners and bikers on a beautiful morning under a perfectly blue sky.  I would imagine that Saturdays and Sundays are busy on the trail, but on this morning, it was calm and quiet.  There were times when I couldn’t see anyone in front of or behind me.  And it is a beautiful place to be alone with your running, your breath and your thoughts.

I think this trail is a year round spot for those interested.  That includes me.  It is a beautiful location in Upstate, South Carolina.  Enjoy.

To take a look at how the Swamp Rabbit Trail meanders along the Reedy River in Greenville SC, just GoogleMap “Swamp Rabbit Trail”.

Greenville County PRT has a good bit of information too, including maps, descriptions and photos.  Click the link to visit their website.  Take a look at the info on TrailLink too.

To Travel

My epic American road trip…  A 6000+ mile flight.  A 3700+ mile drive beginning in Detroit, Michigan and ending in Charleston, South Carolina.  And a return of another 6000+miles back to Shenyang.  I saw old friends and new, spent time with family, vacationed with Tim, and experienced Americana.  It was exactly what we needed after two years in China and after a very difficult spring.  It was a renewal one can’t describe to most people unless they know what it’s like.

And on day 1, sitting on the plane to Seoul, I came across this poem in the airline magazine.  It was one of those near perfect moments in life.  And I’m lucky to have had many on this trip.

Imagination by Kim Do-eon

When life tastes bitter and spicy

We long for another place

And imagine another time

To travel

Is to walk among dreams and imagination,

To say sweet, consoling words

When one is tired of loneliness

And struggling with a bitter, spicy tongue

Travel is like chocolate

Thanks to Tim, Mom, Korean Air, Henry Ford, Julie B, Zero, Honorary Zero and their clones, the Dairy Deluxe, running through sprinklers, Karissa, MMMR, Ron & T, steak & corn on the grill, Heidi, Chris, friends who love travel & art, the Tremont Hotel, Detroit Institute of Art, Geno’s East, the City of Chicago, Frank Lloyd Wright, Wrigley Field, the Federal Reserve Bank, air conditioning, the farm land of northern Indiana, Trisha & Jodi, more pizza, summer nights in a small town, Purdue University, Mom again and the whole IN-based family, a family golf outing, family meals, Ann & Phil, the rooftop bar in St. Louis, the St. Louis Cardinals,  Rene’, the Doran’s, the Collignon’s, crafts with friends and little girls, the Morrow’s, homemade pizza, Nashville, driving a car, listening to the radio while driving a car, Sharon, diners, homemade bath scrubs, Tammy & Garrett, friends who give you great books, being the star of your own movie, John J., shrimp & grits at Sullivan’s, the Koenigstein’s, friends who let you crash their family lake vacation, the NesPatt’s, the Grosskopf’s, the dream of living in the same city as good friends again one day, Sandra & Bill, Otie, the 501 Club – Kathryn, Kathy, Carol, Ruthie & more, the AYA/NF crew- Donna Lou, Kathy, Steve & Dawn, Beth Ann, Kathleen Flint, the BBBS crew-Tim, Tina & Heidi, Katy, sitting in a Mini convertible in Five Points, Karen & Kathy, talking travel with friends, Isa, Mary & all, kindred spirits & people who know exactly who you are, restaurant recommendations from friends, Lucy, greeting the new Hollingsworth dog and the next Grillzilla, I-26 to Charleston, pulled pork, Tim again, Folly Beach, CRU Cafe, Kaminsky’s, the PGA Championship, the Crab Shack, Lost Dog Cafe, Publix, people who love presents from China, being normal-sized, easy communication, being prepared to go back to China, thinking about the next trip…