On life's journey, whether traveling around the world or walking around your block, there's lots to learn about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness, so lets dive into a new ocean together!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Celebrating Life!

Daddy in Santa Ana, CA 
Today I'm celebrating Life!

Since Saturday, when our family lost our beloved Talmage Cook ... Daddy, grandfather, uncle, friend ... my thoughts and deeds have been centered around him.  Sweet thoughts.  Lingering memories.  Tearful conversations.  All good.  Then today crept up on me ...  

... how could it be that today is my birthday?  I wanted to keep it low-key, giving all my energy to my delightful daddy.  But this morning I thought I clearly heard him yell from heaven's golden gate, "Happy Birthday, Sharon! Go ahead and celebrate!  And while you're at it, shake a leg for me!"  

Yep, that's our Dad ... always joking, laughing and carrying on as if he could actually dance himself.  Parkinson's kept him from the dance in his later years, but nothing could keep him from honking the bicycle horn attached to his wheelchair (a subtle gift from my brother John), and playing Down in the Valley on his harmonica.

The Bible is so right.  There's a time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to live and a time to die.  Our days here are numbered.  Eternity is not.  Let's dance while we can.  Laugh as much as possible.  Love all the time.  Because who knows, you might be the one at heaven's gate that is yelling down for your loved one to 'go ahead and celebrate!'

Thanks, Daddy, for giving me permission to celebrate the day I was born sixty-seven years ago in a little southern town in South Carolina.

Snowbirds skating around my Birthday roses

In memory of my father I'm posting the first paragraph of Chapter Three in Lady and the Sea, a novel based on my true story.  Serving in the Navy,  Daddy has finally returned home after a year in Japan and Korea:

   Rose was awakened by someone gently nudging her shoulder.  A deep, familiar voice whispered, "Rose, wake up, Daddy's home."
   She slowly opened her eyes.  In the glow of her night-light, a tanned, handsome man was kneeling next to her bed.  Am I dreaming? she wondered.  The uniform made him look like one of those movie stars she had seen on their black and white television.  The soldier took his daughter in his arms, and she clung to her daddy until her brother leaped out of bed.
   "Daddy!  Daddy!" Philip cheered as he jumped into his father's arms.  "Daddy, now we can play Geepo!"  Talmage loved hiding in closets and then jumping out with arms waving, yelling, "Geepo is going to get you!"  Daddy and Philip could run through the house laughing and screaming for hours.  Rose didn't like the frightful game one bit.
   "We'll play Geepo tomorrow, and next week we're all going to the San Diego Zoo."
   Finally, Katherine said, "It's late; Daddy needs his rest."  Rose caught her mother winking at her father, but she was too young to understand their secret message...

Memories are made of this.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Time to Live...a time to die...

My hero ... my Daddy

My morning began with a phone call from my brother in Utah, telling me softly that our beloved Daddy had passed away.  When the moment finally came to be given this sad news, I had peace knowing that he was now in the presence of the Lord, dancing his way through heaven, something he was unable to do down here on earth due to Parkinson's Decease.

My Daddy loved God, family, and his country.  He was a dancer--we danced in our small living room to the 45RPM records of Vaughn Monroe, ice skater--he bought me my first pair of ice skates and took me skating almost every Saturday, swimmer--he spent hours in his pool with his grandkids, hiking...anything that kept his body moving.  Even when Parkinson's struck his body, he continued going on the assisted living annual camping trips where he could cruise down a river with no pain.

Yep, my 90-year-old Dad lived a full life.  After Mom died at the early age of 66, he joined a senior citizen group and traveled the world; he even came to visit Rob and I for three weeks while we lived in Sweden in 1992.  I must say he 'got around.'  All who knew him were blessed by his humor and zest for life.

Tonight as I open to read the first few chapters of my book, Lady and the Sea, I find that I'm straining to read the words through tear-filled eyes.  I made a point to write about my mother and father so I could leave a legacy of love to my own children.  Now, in the quietness of my living room, the words on these pages sooth my soul.

Tonight my heart is half-heavy, half-light, knowing that I'll never see him again down here, yet excited that I'll see him one day in our heavenly home where we will dance together again ... for eternity.

I love you, Talmage Keith Cook, my father, my hero ... my Daddy.

Last time with Daddy in October '12

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Read, wRite, Relax

Reading, wRiting and Research

I'm starting the year off Right,
focusing on Reading, wRiting, and Relaxing.
Walking more, Worrying less.
Focusing on Faith For Forgotten dreams, Family, and Friends.
less Tv, more Trivia and Thoughtfulness.
less Facebook, more FaceTime
no Resolutions, more Random thoughts.

Cafe Chartier, my cozy writing corner.

There. I think that's enough to get the year kick-started.  Rob will be going back to work next week, after his shoulder surgery two months ago.  I'll miss him, but hopefully I will become more organized.  Hmm, scratch that.  I've always been a spur-of-the-moment kind of gal, so why change now?

Lady and the Sea is staying afloat, but I'm doing some marketing research and praying circles around her, thanks to the book I'm reading, The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.  I'm excited to hear that Lady and the Sea is being sold in Sweden and Norway.  Friends say that I need to talk more about Lady, mention her more on Facebook, blogs, and such.  My dilemma is I don't want to 'overkill' anyone.  However, Valentine's Day is coming up and Lady would be a perfect gift for a wife, girlfriend (or co-worker who is having a birthday).  There, I did it!  That wasn't so bad, was it?

Stay on course and keep dreaming, and always beLeaf.

...Skate more...
My winter tree filled with ice skating ornaments

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I'm Drawing Circles ... not to be confused with running around in circles!

Dream ... and BeLeaf!

I'm beginning the new year by reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.  I read Chapter One this morning, but I stopped dead in my tracks after reading the first sentence of Chapter Two:

Every book has a backstory.  There is a moment when an idea is conceived in the imagination of an author and this idea is destined to become a book. 

All you writers and authors can relate to this statement, but the concept is for all of us who are alive and well on planet earth.  The backstory of our lives--what has happened up until now--is an important part of who we are today.  Good or bad, happy or sad, those choices we made yesterday make up our character--and believe me, some of us are real characters--and who we are today.

Mark's words were yet another confirmation to me that I made the right decision to keep my backstory in the novel, Lady and the Sea.  After all, the book is based on my true story.  This past year, readers have told me how they related to the ups and downs, the pain and the happiness of my life.  That is what Lady is all about ... touching lives for the better ...  finding faith for forgotten dreams.

What is your backstory?  I know some of you have experienced a failed marriage, the loss of a loved one, a serious illness.  My heart goes out to you.  Like you, I don't have all the answers.  But I do know that each time I sought the Lord ... He heard me.  He was there for me, and led me through to the light at the end of each tunnel.  He still does today.

I can't wait to delve into The Circle Maker.  But I'm more excited about delving into this coming year, knowing that our backstories are behind, and a promising future is ahead.

Dreams can come true.  Pray circles around them, and see what happens!

The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy. 
 Psalm 19:7-8 The Message


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dreams do come true!

Extreme makeover by granddaughter, Destinee
(make-up artist for Mac Cosmetics)

Happy 2013!

My year began with a dream of long ago coming true!  A silly dream for sure, but still, a teen-ager's dream that transpired in her 66th year.  I'm telling you this to encourage you that those dreams you forgot about and buried deep in a hole somewhere still have time to transpire!  Let me tell you my story in a few random thoughts.

When I was in ninth grade I tried out along with fifty other girls for a school fashion show.  Long runway in the auditorium, bright lights, the works.  I was a shy teen-ager, but something inside of me whispered, go for it.  So the next day, shaking from head to toe, I made my way down the runway in front of three women from Bobbie Lynn's Dress Shop.  
Note: I didn't realize until after the fashion show that the women were looking for specific measurements for the clothes to fit perfectly.  I had the right numbers:  34-26-34!  
Confession: This was the only time in my life that I was thankful for small boobs.  

The following week, as I strutted down that runway wearing four beautiful ensembles, focusing on holding my shoulders back, smiling big, and making sure I didn't trip, my mind was telling me, Sharon, you were born to be a model!  That night in my bedroom, I declared in my diary, Some day I shall model again!

... fast forward fifty-three years ...

Last month my neighbors invited me to the annual Golden Hills Garden Club Christmas dinner.  I joined the club, and two days later I received a phone call, asking if I would be one of the models in their annual January Fashion Show.  My heart raced as I answered, "I would LOVE to!"  I hung up, looked at the calendar and sighed, "I have three weeks to lose twenty pounds."  Yeah, right.

Last week at Mae's on Main,  I proudly pranced down the aisle towards a room full of sophisticated garden gals, and I tripped.  I quickly composed myself, smiled, and said, "Doesn't every famous model trip up once in awhile?"  And so the fun began ... I was living yet another dream.

I hope this year will be a time for buried dreams to rise up to the surface of your lives.  Old dreams, new dreams, God's dreams.  Some times we have to step out and take a chance, even if we trip up ... hopefully not in a room full of people.  I've learned over the years that laughter is the best medicine and not to take ourselves too seriously.  It was worth the little trip for me to see those women's faces light up and to hear their laughter.  And so it continued throughout the evening.

Being a runway model is exhausting!
Life is short and we never have enough time for gladdening the hearts of those who travel the way with us.  Oh, be swift to love, and make haste to be kind.

The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you: to do right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8 NLT