The Grateful Jar 2017 – What are your Blessings?


Feeling the effects of cabin fever set in, I made reservations for New Year’s Eve dinner at Pangea, voted one of twelve best new restaurants in the St. Louis area. It was located in an area called “Newtown”.

The bright and contemporary restaurant was bustling with servers dressed in black, scurrying back and forth between table delivering cream-colored plates of aromatic delectables. The hostess seated us behind a half wall, far away from the brisk night air streaming in whenever the entrance door was opened.

The menu was set for the evening – Ricotta Knudi, Filet Mignon and Shrimp, Lemon Elderberry Cheesecake, and Ancho Chile Chocolate Mousse. Dinner and dessert were divine; I was left craving more of that par excellence flavor. My tall glass of sparkling Prosecco was a nice complement to the dinner.

After dinner, we motored homeward. Once inside, we turned on the TV searching for the Dave Clark New Year’s Eve Celebration channel. I suppose the food was too much excitement for me, as I fell asleep shortly after 10 p.m.

Hubby woke me up with a kiss at midnight, singing, “Happy New Year”.

For the last three years, I’ve started the tradition of a Grateful Jar (or a Blessings Jar). During the year, you pen all the things you’re grateful for, and drop the small bits of paper in the jar, to be opened on New Year’s Day, or shortly after.

Today, with the help of my sweet little Ireland kitty supervising, I read through the memories tucked away in the jar.

Here are the awesome people, places, and memories that made 2017 great.

This was posted by my friend Abby. (She must have snuck this into the Grateful Jar while we were on vacation)

“Blessed by the fur babies I kitty sit. Love all 4 of them so very much.” Abby

  • Despite my friend Dave Reed going through cancer treatments, he and his wife Dena prepared a lovely January birthday dinner for me.
  • August 23 – The view of the bees pollinating the purple and white cleomes outside my window. The cornflower blue Morning Glory wistfully twisting around the deck spindles.
  • The artist, Craig Hosner, I met on Santa Rosa who constructed a beautiful American flag in the sand with all-natural materials — seashells, pine cones, and oyster shells.

DSC_0678 Craigs Flag copyr

  • August 21 – The total solar eclipse visible in the Missouri sky over our house. The purple and red violet flares on the corona made me cry, it was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen in my life, almost spiritual in nature. The stillness of the event, the birds singing, the crickets chirping – stunning!Sheree pic eclipse crop VEnus contrast copyr
  • Grateful for good friends to confide in.
  • Writing a story on my friend Janet Jonas, of Gentle Touch Canine Massage, Sunset Beach. Hearing her inspirational story and her love for animals.
  • My story on the Waterfront Seafood Shack being voted 1 of 5 top stories in South and North Brunswick Magazine in 2017 by the readers.
  • Watching my niece and nephews grow taller, smarter and stronger.
  • Thankful for a beautiful dinner and dessert with the hubster for Valentine’s Day.
  • Thankful for a birthday outing with girlfriends Tina, Peggy, Janet and Abby.
  • The Hallmark Channel Christmas movies.
  • The dolphin excursion in Calabash, North Carolina, where I viewed more than 35 dolphins following a shrimp trawler.
  • Great friends and fellowship.
  • Being invited to Burbank in 2018 for a private taping of the Big Bang Theory by a special friend I met on Sunset Beach.
  • My love of cooking and baking.
  • Six fur babies that live with me and the hubster.
  • Ephraim, Wisconsin, and sunsets with the dogs and hubby on the private dock with the Adirondack chairs.

20170831_193551 R B S fishing

  • Unexpected double rainbows on August 20 (the day before the solar eclipse). God sure was working that week.
  • Snow for Christmas!
  • The majestic 100-year-old white-washed barn in the neighbor’s corn field.
  • Spending Christmas eve with my crazy cousins!
  • Enjoying all the wonderful coffeehouses in Nashville with my friend Pat on a girlfriend getaway.


  • Winning 4 writing awards at the Show Me Writers Conference in April, and a free registration for 2018.
  • Sneaking peaks at the cats and Bordeaux watch birds and wildlife outside the French doors and the storm door.
  • The adrenalin rush leading up to hiking Twin Falls on the road to Hana, Maui. Crossing the raging stream with hubby, thinking we’re going to fall over the drop off. Finally reaching the falls. Hearing the rush of the water, the chilly feeling it left on my skin. Enjoying watching Russell swim behind the waterfall.
  • Santa Rosa Beach sunsets, savory food, yummy coffee, the Red Bar, Eden Gardens, meeting Namon and Rebecca.
  • Walks with the dogs to clear my head near the lake in Heritage Park.
  • A sneak peek at the cover for my picture book with Pat Wahler, Midnight, The One-Eyed Cat.
  • Watching Christine’s hen in Nashville lay 6 eggs in a row!
  • Finding our friend Dave Reed is cancer free, for the second time in his life.
  • Grateful for Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in St. Louis!
  • Dancing the polka with my cousin, Susie, around the tables at Das Bevo while listening to the Waterloo German Band.
  • Have a publisher request my poetry collection manuscript. (Still patiently waiting for an answer)
  • Being surprised with a sandwich from Jimmy John’s by my husband, delivered right to the front door.
  • Listening to two jazz musician groups this year at Jazz at the Bistro.
  • Touring Leiper’s Fork Distillery and learning how to sniff, swig and chew whiskey.
  • Meeting David Hodges from Evanescence and Alicia Witt, the actress, at the Bluebird Café in Nashville.
  • The weird art exhibit museum event with longtime friend, Tina, where we were told by museum volunteers NOT to take pictures of the pictures!
  • Walking to the Kindred Spirit Bench with Russell, Sandra, and the dogs in October before sunset. The sky was amazing!
  • Little girls named Remy at Sunset Beach in October, and husbands flying kites.
  • Touring the Bissinger Chocolate factory with friend Abby, and wearing hairnets and coats like Lucy and Ethel.
  • Meeting tango dancers Elise and Marco on the beach at Sunset Beach in October in the midst of a pumpkin-hued sky.
  • My love of photography and writing.
  • Sharing my love of travel with my husband.
  • The ability to vacation seven times this year.
  • Grateful for my fur babies and their funny quirks.
  • Grateful I’m able to comfort friends in difficult times.

What where some things you were grateful for in 2017?





Music, Poetry and True Glory

20150605_192734powell orchestra pitLast Friday evening, I attended a concert at Powell Symphony Hall with my friend Nancy. Like a child opening a gift, we were ecstatic to see Chris Botti and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra perform together. If you’ve never heard of Chris Botti, he’s only the best jazz trumpeter to walk the face of the earth. I’ve not missed a concert of his since he opened for the silken songbird, Diana Krall over 12 years ago at the Fox Theatre.

With no musicality in my family, I love to listen to music of all genres – jazz, classical, Christian and rock.

Entering the venue, seeing everyone dressed in their best, eyeing the winding staircases and the magnificent chandeliers, made me smile.

20150605_191709 powell chandelier 1As we settled in our seats and the lights dimmed, the audience became silent. I closed my eyes for a moment and listened to the sweet melodies permeating from the orchestra, the smooth sounds of Chris’ trumpet, and the weeping strings of the guest violinist. It was nothing less than magical.

Over the course of the evening, Chris brought out guest singers, highlighted his band, and introduced new up-and-comers. As the concert drew to a close, the lights dimmed deeper, and the spotlight was on Chris and his pianist. The room’s ambiance felt like an intimate jazz club.

On Sunday, I headed to another cultural event at the Unity Center in Columbia, Missouri, Friends Abby and Marcia accompanied me to the book launch of Well-Versed 2015. Marcia and I were receiving awards for our works from the Columbia Chapter of the Missouri Writer’s Guild. Our poems and prose were accepted for inclusion into the anthology.DSC_0145DSC_0135

Winners and contributors read aloud poems and stories about Moms, mystery, nature, pets, and even family conflicts. I listened intently.

DSC_0136Some stories had me rolling with laughter, others made me think; still others stirred up such raw emotion I found myself sobbing.

Each event had one thing in common. The performers – whether musicians or writers – glorified God.

When a human being is doing what he or she was created to do, then God is honored and glorified.

When God is honored, “Other people take notice. The world wakes up a little bit, sees things in a clearer/holier light, and seeks the source of that light,” says Coffee with God author, Sarah Arthur.

Performers glorify God by “using their talents to their utmost,” Arthur says.

Sometimes I don’t feel fully alive. I’m either wandering aimlessly throughout the day, depressed or unmotivated. (Like yesterday)

When I take the time to glorify God (right now with my writing), that’s when I feel alive.

And that when I think He is happiest.

Peace, love, and all that Jazz,


Folly Beach Dances – Reflections on a book launch party

May 1, my husband and and I, released our ‘healing’ coffee table Folly Beach Dances for purchase on the book’s official website Beach Dances.  May 4, we kicked off with a IMG_0073book launch party and celebration at Grand Opera House in St. Charles, Missouri.

Our ‘healing’ coffee table book, Folly Beach Dances, combines our love affair with Folly Beach, South Carolina, along with lyrical movements and universal beauty – expressed through dance names. It tells the story of sandpipers, babies, dogs, and yes, even structures moving in infinite rhythm.

Literary interpretations from five award-winning women authors, including us, accompany our photographs of Folly Beach.

Diagnosed with lymphoma in June 2012, I’m donating 10 percent of every book sale to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Debbie Kersting, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Gateway Chapter Director, has written the foreword for the book.

Sunday night was beautiful.

Friends, and family wore the colors of sand, sea and sky.IMG_0184 Ashley Delgado

The sweet vocals of Ashley Delgado mixed with the acoustic musings of Chris Griffith, guitarist extraordinaire.

The three food tables were a cornucopia of sorts. Chocolate-covered almonds, sesame-honey coated cashews, coconut macaroons were a few of the dessert delectables.  Cheddar bay biscuits, prosciutto wrapped mozzarella, and kalamata olives provided sustenance.  Friends arranged the tables for Russell and I, so we could focus on the event.

IMG_0015White tablecloths draped with weathered gray and sandalwood hued napkins complimented the white and caramel-colored candles under glass hurricanes, and balloon bouquets hung from the ceiling and rails.

The speakers for the night – Representative Bryan Spencer, Wentzville district; Deborah Marshall, Warrior Arts Alliance; Kristy Makansi, Treehouse Author Services, and of course, Debbie Kersting, Gateway Chapter Director of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Kris Makansi (Tree House), Russell, me, Deb Kersting (LLS), Deb Marshall (WAA)

Kris Makansi (Tree House), Russell, me, Deb Kersting (LLS), Deb Marshall (WAA)

Contributing Authors Pat Wahler, Patt Pickett, Mary Horner and Tina Solomon read a selection of their poems, accompanied by appropriate photographs projected on the wall behind them.

I spoke about the book’s mission, and how important it is to take care of yourself.  There were tributes to friends Rick Wheeler, diagnosed with follicular lymphoma, and friend Dave Reed, who’s overcome Histocytic Sarcoma, a deadly cancer.

And finally, as the program came to a close, Russell and I called Debbie Kersting back up to turn over our donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.


There were many door prizes – the book, greeting cards (photos from the book), sparkling juices, and even a black pearl bracelet from the Caribbean.

Friends shared how touched and moved they were by the entire evening, and gave big hugs, kisses, and “I love you’s.”  And even one couple whispered in my ear, “We made a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society this evening.”

Russell and I hoped we made a difference by hosting the book launch.

It’s not really about the book, it’s about the people.

The people you meet at your local Starbucks, the people you’ve known forever, the friendships you forge, the family life time relationships, those you’ve made a difference in their lives, and loved ones that have passed on.

And when you think about it, everybody’s got something.  Physical ailments, issues, hard times, relationship troubles. Isn’t it true?

This book is dedicated to dreamers, the beach lovers, the dancers, the Mom’s and Dad’s, Folly Beach residents and all those with ailments – everywhere.

It’s meant to be a book of self-hope and positivity.

So when you got out into this big fat beautiful (sometimes cruel) world, remember to dance!

It’ll make you feel real good.

Love and Peace and All That Stuff,



7.5 DSC_0292 lead in photo to At the Beach excerpt sansumi font








A Few Kind Words and Some Beautiful Melodies

Having been pent up in the house for the past two weeks with back spasms and other menopausal ailments, I organized a much-needed evening with friends Tina, Donna and Patt.

We decided to meet at Picasso’s Open Mic Night in St. Charles, Missouri.   Picasso’s is a coffeehouse I have frequented for years, first patronizing the original location in O’Fallon.

As I entered the cafe, I was quickly directed to Dave, the host for the evening. Dave was a young good looking guy sporting a navy yarn cap with light blue bill.

I introduced myself.  He asked if I was a singer, and I laughed silently.

“No, I’m a writer.”

“Great.  I’ll put you down on the list.”  On the chalkboard, he squeezed me in after the first five singers.

The evening progressed with an eclectic mix of musicians.  Patrons filled the coffeehouse to the brim.

It was so refreshing to actually hear new voices, original songs and great melodies. I especially enjoyed the medley of popular songs Dave and his Dad sang from the Baby Boomer generation.  Another favorite was Chris Griffin.   What wonderful talent I thought, and shared my feelings with Tina.

Well, it was my turn.  Dave introduced me as a writer and I stepped up to the mic.

My choice was the essay that gave me the confidence I needed as a writer.  “The Perfect Day” first appeared in Cuivre River Anthology IV and again in “The Folly Current Newspaper.”

Unsure of how I would be received, I was thankful the smooth and mellow tones of 17-year old Caroline put everyone in a Zen mood.  I was surprisingly wired, but relaxed – induced by the sublime Expresso Martini I ordered earlier in the evening made by the crafty barista-bartender at Picasso’s.

While reading my musings, I surveyed the intimate setting and the faces of the audience.  Surprisingly, everyone was listening.  I tried not to look down, but rather into the crowd – a discipline I learned through public speaking.

As I spoke my last few words, I felt good.

Our host, Dave, walked back to the mic and thanked me for reading.  The audience clapped.  I retreated to the security and comfort of our table.

A few minutes later, the need to use restroom was in order.  As I snaked my way through the crowd to the back of the cafe, something cool happened.   Maybe four twenty-somethings approached me saying “great essay”, “awesome story.”  Some inquired if I was a writer.  I was proud to say yes.

But the best compliment of all came from a young man who had gone through five heart surgeries.  “I loved your story.  It was special.”

That comment made the evening all worth it.

As I sat down (with a big fat smile on my face), I thanked the Lord for a great evening with friends, and rocked out to the funk music of John, and the sweet harmonies of Josiah and Becky.

Open Mic Night. Sure.  Sign me up.


Check out my latest photo viewfinder on

Hi everyone, check out my latest photo viewfinder on St Charles MO Patch of the Mozingo Music Percussion Competition 2011 that took place at Francis Howell North on Saturday August 27