Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Finding Happiness Down Memory Lane

I couldn't help but revisit my childhood today when I saw Sir Tom Jones on the "Today" show. His voice brought back memories of my childhood. You see, even though she didn't openly admit it, I always knew my mom carried a torch for this Welsh singer. In fact, I don't think a week passed that we didn't watch the Tom Jones Show together. While she, no doubt, was watching his performance and drinking in his intoxicating accent, I was performing as one of the dancers on his show, albeit on the shag carpet of our living room instead of on stage with him.

Fast forward to the 1980s. My mother was going through a difficult time when I happened to see an advertisement that Tom Jones would be appearing at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. I bought tickets and surprised my mom. She had no idea where we were going until she saw his name in lights on the Fox Theatre marquee.

While she was busy watching Sir Tom perform on stage, I couldn't help but watch her. What wonderful smiles lit up her face that had for months been drawn and sad. Tom Jones, live in concert, chest-baring shirt and all!

I've never been great at touching others' lives. I tend to stay in my own little world way too much. But on that day, I struck gold. I brought happiness to someone else, and I probably enjoyed it more than she did! My mom passed away several years ago, so the visit with Sir Tom this morning brought back more than childhood memories. It brought my mom back for a short little visit as I reminisced about that star-studded night we shared many years ago.

Who have you brought happiness to recently? It may be through daily displays of love and affection or something a little more out of the ordinary. In any event, I would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Telephoto Tuesday

Another photo of Hannah and Grace.... Can't you just feel the love?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

And Then There Was Grace...

Meet our newest addition to the family. Isn't she precious? No, she's not mine, although we would love to bring her home with us. She's Hannah's newest cousin (albeit a bit removed), and she is a precious, joyful baby.

Hannah, who has always loved babies and younger children, practically beamed when she reminded me that her own name means grace, and baby Grace is named Grace. She is certain that this name connection is something special... a special bond that will link their two hearts and souls forever.

So as I was getting ready to load the photograph, I decided to explore the origins of a few names.... and this is what I found out.

As I knew, the name "Hannah" is a Hebrew name that does, indeed, mean grace. In the Old Testament, Hannah is the mother of Samuel, her long-yearned for son, who becomes a prophet. The name has been quite popular through the years. When I chose the name, it was the 7th-most popular girl's name in the United States. And although I chose the name without any baby-naming guidebooks, I found out that its popularity grew after I chose it... hitting the second top spot in the country within a few short years.

My name has never been an easy one to locate in the touristy trinkets department while on vacation. As a child growing up, I never had a bike tag with my name on it, nor a keychain, nor anything else for that matter. But I have always known how special my name is because it originated from two very special people, my maternal grandparents Robert and Anne.

Those names gave me more to work with. I first looked up "Robert" and found that it originated in France and means "bright fame." Although I know his ancestors are from Ireland, it seems he might have been named for either a saint or one of three kings of Scotland (which seems unlikely). And "Anne" gave me a surprise. Anne is a Hebrew name meaning... grace! Just like my daughter's name. And I didn't even know it.

While "Hannah" has been the more popular of the two (my "Anne" was never ranked higher than 57), they are connected in origin and meaning, which is a delightful discovery to me.

And now there is baby Grace... and the legacy of grace continues.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Telephoto Tuesday

While many of you were enjoying the feeling of Autumn several weeks ago, the season of colorful leaves and crisp, cool weather was, as usual, slow to arrive in my home state. Yet, suddenly, there it was. Fall! The cool weather lured me outside and to the nearby river where I caught the light and its shadows dancing among the silvery ripples.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

And I Had it All Along

As many of you already know, I'm always looking for perfection in life. And I must admit that I often look at others as symbolizing what is perfect. For instance, I have always thought that a friend of mine had the perfect home. It exuded warmth from before you even set foot in the front door. In the evenings, the warm glow of Pottery Barn lamps seeped through the windows. Family and friends always seemed to linger in the kitchen, where the sweet aroma of bread or biscotti filled the air. It just seemed like the perfect example of cozy warmth.

Now mind you, this friend was a stay-at-home mom. With her children in school all day, I could understand how her home could maintain this sense of warmth, while I toiled at work from sun-up to sun-set it seemed. An excuse, perhaps, for my home to be a little... well... messy and not so warm.

So this fall I decided that my home, too, would exude warmth. That my husband and daughter would immediately feel my love when they walked through the front door. I bought new fall flowers to create an artful display of welcome for the front door.

I bought some small pumpkins and gourds to warm up my kitchen.

Then came the revelation. One evening as I finished reading The Shack on my back deck, I paused and looked... really looked into my home. And I saw it. It wasn't the decorative gourds, nor the beautiful fall flowers that gave my home a sense of warmth. It was love. And it was there, right there, in my home. Without fancy props, without expensive trappings, my home did exude warmth. And I smiled.

At times, we may be so busy trying to live up to high standards we set for ourselves and our own image of perfection that we don't even realize that we've exceeded our own expectations. And it really doesn't have to cost a cent or take too much time to accomplish. We possess it all along in the form of hugs, encouragement, and kisses.