Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful

There is a woman at church who challenges me every time I see her. When she asked me her question, I have to admit, the first few times, I was always flustered. After I thought about it, it actually made me uncomfortable that I could not answer her without pausing to think deeply on the answer.

Her question was easy. The answer should be right there ready to blurt out at the instant someone asks.

Why was it so hard for me to think, on the spot, the question, “What was the one thing I was thankful for today?

Seriously. The first time she asked me, it was as if my whole brain turned to rocks and it began to shut down.

The Rocks

A brain turned to rocks…

Me: Uh, I don’t know. Let’s see. Um, uh, well…the one thing I am thankful for today is…uh, why you asking me this, Mrs. V? You know I barely think about anything useful let alone what I am thankful for…

The Pretzel Image

Who dares to play with their pretzels?!?

Mrs. V.: We have many opportunities, big and small; throughout the day…if you take a few minutes throughout the day looking for grateful instances, by the end of the day, you will have collected a basket full of those thankful moments.


Taking Mrs. V.’s wisdom words to heart, I am thankful today for all the blessings that have come my way, so many taken for granted; like good health, freedom to worship, loving family and friends, opportunities to express creative works without persecution and my home country, the United States.

The Fall Sunset

For this glorious sunset this evening, I am thankful.

* * * *

What is the one thing you are thankful for today?

* * * *

Find yourself craving more on this Thankful theme? Visit the Weekly Photo Challenge for more information like this and more:

Thankful. In the United States, yesterday was Thanksgiving, a holiday where people spend time with family and friends and remember the things they’re thankful for.

A Simply Charming Thank YOU!!

Hello charming Friends…today in the United States we are celebrating Thanksgiving Day!

My special thanks to all of you readers who shared precious moments with me this past year…I depend greatly on your friendship.

Thank you.

The Thanksgiving Day mantra.

Happy Thanksgiving Day.


I Am Thankful For…

Once again it is time to pay your taxes. Oops, wrong month!

Actually, it is not tax season here in the United States but rather, a special time of the year. On the fourth Thursday in November, we celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

Traditionally, families and friends usually share time together; some to express prayers of gratitude followed by a thanksgiving meal that can be as simple or as elaborate as one chooses to make it.

For those without family or friends to celebrate with, or maybe experiencing tough financial times, many options are available. Many good-will organizations want to make sure no one goes without a thanksgiving meal.

For example, a local community church here recently had an early thanksgiving gathering last week that not only offered a free turkey meal with dessert, but the first 300 people received a whole frozen turkey–FREE!

How awesome is that!?!

Of course, lots of people showed up…parking became incredibly tight…The Crowded Lot
Not to mention waiting in line…but everyone had fun,  especially the church volunteers who helped cook and serve the meals.

Celebrating Thanksgiving Day prior to the over commercialized Christmas holidays is actually a good thing. I love being able to slow down a bit to spend a least one day in the company of loved ones and naturally, eating my favorite meal: roasted turkey with lots of stuffing, gravy and large scoops of cranberry sauce!

Since I usually eat and eat and eat, leaving me completely lethargic and useless, I am thinking ahead this year.

Here are my top five inventions I am so grateful for…
1. Cell phone–this is my memory part of my brain…if I leave home without it, or–don’t say it–misplace it, this could activate instant meltdown and total body failure!
2. Internet–no words needed…you and I both know this invention has revolutionized the world.
3. Light bulb–I so love my light source!
4. Refrigeration–Thanking the person who invented this neat appliance…a cool place for all the leftovers and expired bottles of whatever(s) to hang together in one spot…
5. Washer/dryer–I love doing laundry since these modern appliances make it so easy!Washing Machine

No longer a chore but crazy fun! You know it is an obsession when you actually go out and hunt down dirty laundry just to run the machines!

If you are wondering why I did not list my car, well, I figure you all know how deeply grateful I am for my wheels. Absolutely grateful.

I could go on and on because, truly, my life has been abundantly blessed, but for now, my prayers of gratitude focuses on the simply charming top five inventions.

So, what are your top five inventions you are absolutely grateful for this season?

* * *

Want more gratitude and inspiration?

Head over to Island Traveler’s very charming Weekly Image Of Life and enjoy all the best of this week’s theme: I Am Thankful For….

A Picture Is Worth Words and A Fairy Tale Vision

Once upon a time, a beautiful mother existed in my world. Our perfect family portrait had mother holding my baby sister, Molly, my father lovingly leaning gently to one side of his high school sweetheart, and me, on the other side of him. I was the five-year-old rambunctious, but always obedient son. We were the perfect family.

Aunt Polly, mother’s younger sister, and photographer for our family event, reminded us to smile and say, “Cheese” as she prepared to take our photo.

Unfortunately, the perfect family portrait setting went from loving and happy to chaotic and frightening. Mother’s long battle with mental illness, filled with medications, therapy sessions and occasional psychiatric hospital visits, were becoming more frequent and like a devouring cancer in mother’s brain, she finally succumbed to it not long after my fifth birthday.

I will always remember the day my once beautiful and loving mother left us. Father had us all ready for our perfect family portrait; Aunt Polly was ready with her camera. Perhaps the happy event flustered mother as she fussed about with our hair, her make-up and father‘s tie that would not sit right for her, to a point when suddenly, her world decided to shut down around us.

Why did she have to start crying and screaming obscenities at us?

Why was she so out-of-control that it took a team of psychiatric aides from Aurora Residential Treatment House to restrain her?

Why did father insist that Aunt Polly take our family portrait anyway, regardless that all of us, as our mother was losing her mind, we were also “losing” something as well: Father his loving wife, my sister and I, a beautiful and nurturing mother and Aunt Polly, an older sister who was always there for her?


I can understand someone leaving a family because they died, or leave because they want to start something new, such as a new family or new career or whatever. Nevertheless, checking out mentally is hard to understand.

How do you explain this family portrait taken moments before we were to escort my mother to her “treatment” room, with her mascara smeared across her face, her salon-styled hair re-done to the wild psychotic look?

Actually, I longed, many times, to cut this photograph into a million pieces, like the way mental illness tore my mother from my life.

I hated those hospital visits because my real mother did not mentally live there. Who was that woman, after the nurse’s treatment, staring blankly with glazed eyes at my sister and me? That was not my mother.

(Have you seen her? I miss mother so much.)

Father simply wanted a family moment–one that included his once lovely wife and mother of his two children–framed into the happy, normal family portrait. Instead, he got an incomplete, bewildered, and feeling enormously abandoned, family portrait.

WHY, God! Why put the evil demons that filled my mother’s head that left my sister, dad and I broken for so long?


The longer I scream, WHY, the louder the sound of silence in my head becomes. My therapist tells me over and over, as if to put a soft blanket on a sobbing young child, that in the United States, according to the Kim Foundation, 1 in 4 families are “affected by mental illness. “ She goes on to tell me the World Health Organization states, “over a third of people in most countries report (mental) problems at some time in their life.”

Am I supposed to feel better about this news? You tell me, how does one go on living sanely knowing the kids at school whisper, and sometimes not whisper, but blatantly say awful things about your mother? Things like, “His mother is crazy. She lives in a psych house.”

My mother’s disease deeply haunts me. Sometimes I feel there is nowhere to turn because any way I turn I see the photograph, the horrid faces we had, and my mother, no, the monster being dragged away by strangers.

I fear that my mother’s handicapped mind will slowly become the beast within my mind.

How I wanted to destroy that photograph many times over the years. The one photograph that reminds me of this fear of becoming a duplicate of my own mother’s life!

What stops my bony fingers from ripping that picture apart, I am not quite sure. Perhaps I fear losing the one person who meant so much to me…my mother. If I destroy it, I will not remember and I want to remember her. This distorted family photo is the very thing that prevents me from joining my own mother’s mental demons.

I look at the photo then quickly close my eyes to the fairy tale vision I long to have.

Once upon a time, long ago in a kingdom where light, goodness and sane thinking prevailed, my mother was the perfect queen who stood by her perfect king and both raised two truly perfect prince and princess.

In this kingdom, I no longer fear the loss of my mother or my mind.

* * *

Do you think mental illness is as common as diabetes or heart disease?

* * *

Find more creative contributors and information here at the Weekly Writing Challenge: A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words.

A Simple “Howling” Discovery…

Look what I found at the thrift store for only twenty-five cents:

gray wolf, glass cup, photograph, cheap, thrift shop

Simple Discovery: American Expedition drinking cup

A beautiful glassware discovery with wisdom words to meditate on for a very cheap price!

The quote on the front of the glass cup reads…

“Keep looking towards the horizon and you will see the world not as it is but as it can become.”

Not only do I love not having to spend much on glassware, but I also love the howling Gray wolf image featured on this one! Also known as timber wolves, they live together socially in packs of 12. If you encounter one of these large wolves in the woods and you want to flee on foot to escape, be sure you pump yourself up to at least a speed of 38 miles per hour!

As you turn the glassware to the back, it explains briefly about the Gray Wolf. This is the third thing I love about this glass cup…discovering I have something to read as I enjoy a glass of whatever…juice…water…tea…something stronger like………Oh, never mind.

cup, gray wolf, glass, photograph, cheap, thrift shop

Simple Discovery: Trivia on the Gray Wolf

Since I took a great, not-so-clear photo shot, the gray words on the cup actually says…

“Hunting in a pack. Wolves can bring down prey up to TEN TIMES their size. With jaws that exert TWICE the PRESSURE than that of a large domestic dog. A wolf can devour up to 20 pounds of meat in one feeding.”

I hope you have your best running shoes on, my friend, and while you are fleeing for your life did you know according to Wikipedia, there are about 80,000 to 2 million wolves privately kept in the United States even though wolves are known to be much more unstable as pets than regular domesticated dogs?

I know, random trivia that has no purpose whatsoever, but at least you discovered my simple and cheap, but educational pleasure for today.

“That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.” ~Henry David Thoreau

* * *
Do you have favorite glassware that you love everything about it?

* * *

This is a very late response to the Weekly Image Of Life: Discovery but I figure, better-late-than-never.

Island Traveler is the host and an amazing one at that…even if you do not choose to participate in his Weekly Image Of Life series, I recommend you take a moment (if you have not before) and hop on over to his place for inspiration and encouragement from a dedicated family man.

Enjoy a few creative contributors below:


Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth–Young Readers


Throughout a child’s early life , we measure and compare other children to each other using both the height and weight growth charts. Monitoring physical growth is important but so is the ability to read the written word.

reading,charming moments,Post a day 2012,love,reader,growth,

Reading is a key to future success.

In order to grow into the habit of being a passionate reader, good examples early in life can help make lifelong passionate readers.

A few examples if you directly have influence on a young child are:

1. Love to read. You are the example and you must love to read.
2. Surround them with great children books and that way you can pass on your enthusiasm.
3. Read aloud often. The written word becomes alive as you read aloud.

Other examples that help the growth of a reader is, if available, visiting the public libraries, going to used book sales and visiting bookstores in your area.

Therefore, we measure the growth of child in many areas, but an important area that helps to bring future success a bit easier for a child is the ability to read well. We should measure the growth of this ability with as much enthusiasm as we do a child’s height and weight.

Do you believe the growth of a young reader is as important as a child’s height and weight?

If you are looking for inspiration and a challenge, why not join the community of Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth. You will find a new theme every week to challenge your creative self and more importantly, lots of amazing creative works by very creative bloggers! See ya!