More Peace and Laughter in Our Lives- Learning to Slow Down

20181030_112038 Blue springs

In September 2018, I was advised by my oncologist, chemotherapy would begin in November. Diagnosed with Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia in 2012, this would be the first time I needed treatment for my lymphoma. I wanted a diversion from life.

Last October, my husband surprised me with a trip to Blue Springs Ranch, a rustic retreat sprawling over acres of picturesque property in Bourbon, Missouri. Those golden autumn days were peaceful and serene…just the dogs and hubby in a tiny one-room cabin set atop a hilly, wooded piece of land. The only other souls at the resort were the ones that checked us in.

In the cool evening, we’d huddle around a crackling fire, barbeque burgers and brats on the grill, and listen to the sounds of the sleepy forest – saw whet owls, coyotes, song birds and crickets.

Days were spent exploring shorelines, clear creek beds, roaring streams, and meandering trails blanketed with leaves. The trees embraced us with their maizy yellows, burnt sienna, and caramels, while the menthol blue hue of the springs comforted our soul.

In January, we headed west to Burbank to visit our friend Colin, cameraman for the Big Bang Theory. He afforded us an opportunity to be part of the studio audience. During the taping, staff interacted with us, playing games and keeping us in stitches. It felt great to laugh deep and heartfelt.

After the show we were given VIP passes by Colin to visit the set. We plopped down on the brown leather sofa, and seated ourselves in Sheldon’s spot. We exchanged smiles and small talk with Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Kunal Nayyar, and Kal Penn (from Harold and Kumar) and snapped pics for our Instagram followers.

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Afterwards, hubby and I meandered the set with Colin, our shoes shuffling across the floor, all the while listening to his stories and memories – bittersweet for him, as the show was wrapping up its final season.

I remember looking up, and eyeing all the metal and wiring – the lights and equipment suspended from the ceiling, and just thinking ‘how amazing’!

As we made our way to the exit, I spun around one last time, and let out a big sigh. We thanked Colin for an opportunity to experience something unique.

The next evening, we visited the Rockwell Table and Stage where Jeff Goldblum was performing. Jazzy piano player, singer, movie trivia buff, jokester – Jeff Goldbum was the whole package. More laughter, more tears of joy. The thirty-something gals in their skimpy outfits loved him, and he, in turn, loved taking pictures with these women. More laughs.

Heaven knows we need more peace and laughter in our lives…a chance to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life that we don’t often notice like….

  • the woman and her retriever playing fetch on a Malibu seashore
  • a howling coyote that blended into the hillside of Griffin Park
  • the quirkiness of the shops along Topanga Canyon Road
  • sunsets with rainbows at seaside restaurants
  • stepping in Gene Kelly’s footprints in front of Grams Chinese Theater
  • the Danish girl in the audience of the Big Bang set who worked in Finland and Sweden, lived in Denmark, and who had to ask her mom how to get to work every day

 

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These are snippets of life I remember…the feel-good, unexpected surprises and memories I never tire of, guiding and helping me through my chemo treatments.

My newest book, Mondays in October, a poetry and photography collection, my love song for the beach, and its eternal companion water, is a feel-good book on how to slow down.

Releasing July 23, it embraces art, movement, time, water and solitude. Won’t you hop over to my book page, and read all about it?

Oh yeah, I’m in remission!

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ALL DOGS SAY THEIR PRAYERS – PART TWO

My husband started a cute routine with the dogs awhile back – a prayer before their meals. When the pooches spot him with their food bowls, they know it’s time for dinner, but importantly, it’s time to be silent and listen to what Daddy has to say.

I tried my hand at this concept again this week at the beach. Food bowls in hand, I say a prayer at each meal. On a couple of occasions, our mini Aussie who knows how to ‘say her prayers’ even bowed her head in reverence.

My original blog post from May 2014 focused on the dogs being thankful for special things in their lives. However, I left one important element out. How could I? Let’s see if you can figure out what I left out.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for this food.

Thank you for everything you do for us.

Thank you for CHICKEN!

Thank you for long walks on the beach,

new canine friends,

long rides in the car over the intracoastal waterway,

and CHICKEN!

Thank you Lord for the screened in sun porch at the beach house

to observe passersby on Main Street,

and CHICKEN!

Thanks to Mom and Dad for the trip to the beach.

Thanks for letting us lick the bottom of the cappuccino milkshake cups.

And most importantly,

CHICKEN!

Sincerely,

 

Ms. Brina and Mr. B

Salty Dogs Morning

Well I hope this little dog prayer brightened you day. I know it did mine.

We’ve got a few more days at the beach, and I’m sure the dogs won’t let me forget to put some chicken on their Purina dog food.

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Sheree is the author of three books –

– Chanticleer nominated Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits

– Montaigne Medal Finalist Midnight the One-Eyed Cat

– 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner Folly Beach Dances

Her work can be found here:

https://amzn.to/2NDanYo
https://amzn.to/2zLgqFm
https://amzn.to/2zNuoq9

 

There is No Such Thing as a Little Moment….

DSC_0114Walking through the house this week, I was reminded of a saying on a picture frame, “There is no such thing as a little moment.”

The moment in time, protected by pewter and glass, was captured at the St. Joseph, Michigan lighthouse jetty, early on in my marriage. It was a windy day, the sun was shining, and hubby and I were smiling ear to ear.

Each day, I am reminded that there are no such things as ‘little moments’.

When the dog does something silly like get wrapped up under the blankets, rendering it impossible to make the bed…20150325_094841 Sabrina copyr

When you walk among 4,000 Blue Morpho butterflies in flight at the Sophie Sachs Butterfly House, in Chesterfield, Missouri…

DSC_0095 blue morpho on bench copyr DSC_0100 butterfly  nancy crop

When you witness the sky change colors from orange, to blood red, to blue-gray while strolling the shoreline in Sunset Beach, North Carolina…

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They’re really big moments, aren’t they?

So here’s to those moments, those fleeting bits of time, that lift us up wherever we are.

Those moments…knowing God is in our presence.

Happy Thursday and God Bless!

Xoxoxo
Sheree

Phones on the beach? Really? Are we too ‘phone’ dependent?

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Lately, I’ve noticed I’ve been using my phone more. Probably because it’s a new Samsung Galaxy 3 mini.

My old phone lacked a lot of things – data, ease of maneuvering, a decent camera. It was just, well, outdated and crappy.

I remember a jazz concert my husband and I attended for our wedding anniversary a few years ago. We saw the hot Dutch alto-saxophonist, Candi Dulpher. She was incredible. After the show she signed autographs, CDs, and took pictures with her fans.

Hubby snapped a pic of Candi and me with my old phone. I almost cried. It was terrible. Fuzzy, pixilated, and dark. But instead, I laughed. What could I do? I had a crappy phone.

I love my new Samsung Galaxy 3 mini for the following reasons –

1. The charges last longer
2. It’s easy to download apps
3. When I wake up and turn on my phone, it tells me the weather
4. The camera is great
5. I can toggle between 2 twitters accounts, easily – @ShereeKNielsen and @follybeachdance
6. It has a notepad…. Great for writers
7. Texting is easier
8. Can check gmail and facebook quicker than turning on my laptop
9. I have data! (Something I never had on my old phone)

However, I find myself checking my phone more….at home, at Starbucks, at restaurants, while watching TV. This concerns me as I don’t want to be in love with my phone.

Two things I refuse to do with my new phone –

1. Text while driving
2. Bring my phone to the beach

Last summer I saw people, a small percentage, checking their phone on the beach.

The beach?
Really?
C’mon people!
What is wrong with you?

I guess if you don’t have a camera, and you want to take pictures on the beach, maybe.

The sand, the sea, the sun, the salt air, birds soaring overhead, the tepid ocean between your toes – what could be better than this?

Certainly not checking your phone on the beach!!! Enjoy yourself and stop worrying about your phone!

This summer we have two beach trips planned. I’ll report back to you at the end of May how many peeps I witnessed using their phones. And hopefully, I won’t be one of them.

For now, I’ll leave you with a favorite quote from one of the greats, Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

‘Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.’

Any thoughts on the above topic are appreciated.

 

 

Vote for me Starting July 8 – Midlife Collage Contest

Good morning everyone,

And happy Fourth of July Eve to you.

As I opened my emails this morning, I had a nice surprise.  I was notified by Midlife Collage that my story “The Perfect Day”, about a wonderful day on the beach where I find inner self, was selected as one of five stories for their weekly contest.

The contest starts July 8, so please vote for me.  I could win a cash prize and placing first in the contest would be awesome.

Tell your friends and email this link, or post it on your facebook page or twitter account.

Here’s the link to the pre-video, and stop back by Monday when the contest begins.
Driftwood Folly Beach B&L copry

http://midlifecollage.com/video/

Dear Kindred Spirit…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMay 22, 2013

Dear Kindred Spirit,

It’s not a coincidence that God brought me to you.

In April, I visited Sunset Beach for the first time.  I heard how Bird Island was a hidden gem!

That day I meandered down the beach, and a little boy threw a bucket of water on me. His actions were followed by an apology…..by his mother.

Sitting on her beach chair, she relaxed reading a book.

We conversed.

“First time here?”

“Yes.”

“You should check out the Kindred Spirit bench on Bird Island.  People from all over the world visit the bench and leave their thoughts and prayers in the mailbox’s journals.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA salty tear trickled down my cheek.

Being here now is a peaceful feeling.  I’m sure it was meant to be.

As a writer, this spot moves my inner soul.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m here with new friends Jacqueline and Sandy who are so important to the Kindred Spirit.  Today, they hoisted a flag for Memorial Day and all the veterans we’ve lost over the years.  I call them the Kindred Spirit angels.  They retrieve the journals and send them back to their secret originator.

Jacqueline and Sandy with new flag

Jacqueline and Sandy with new flag

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m sure I’ll be back.

There are so many people here, now, sharing the spirit.  Everyone is connected to each other.

I pray that my lymphoma never gets any worse than it is, my marriage to grow stronger, and God to watch over my ‘child’ animals, family and friends.

So long for now Kindred Spirit,

Sheree Nielsen

Missouri

Jackie and Sandy with Max who hoisted the flag Memorial Day 2012.

Jackie and Sandy with Max who hoisted the flag Memorial Day 2012.

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Patches of Life

Memory Quilt

Memory Quilt

Last year, as I was purging the closet of items, I discovered t-shirts from vacations. Memories of adventure and fun times spent with hubby were difficult to discard. I decided to reuse and recycle the colorful tees in the form of a quilt.

I contacted Tina from the Missouri Quilters Guild who recommended a woman name Liz Huff.  We met over coffee and discussed the specifics of the quilt.  Recently, she completed her son’s memory quilt, and brought that as an example.  I was impressed with her craftsmenship.

After Christmas, I met Liz for the unveiling.  The beauty, balance and harmony of the quilt pleasantly met my expectations. Her skillful hands stitched a masterpiece of color and personality like a series of vignettes carefully laid out by an artist or illustrator.

Blocks of fabric representing scuba diving trips, beach vacations, concerts, and liveaboard cruises connected as my eyes scanned the quilt.

The St. Louis Komen Race for the Cure tee stirred up emotion. A sunny morning in June, hubby and I walked in a sea of pink with more than 60,000 participants.   Proudly, the two of us displayed our shirts in memory of Mom who contracted breast cancer at age 82.

The “We Be Div’n” t-shirt caught my eye.  In the early ‘90’s, I became scuba certified through Hydrospace Dive Shop, Panama City, Florida.  During my skills test in the deep blue, my instructor, Thomas J. Offitt, complimented me on my ability to remain calm underwater.

I reminisced about the Sting concert at Riverport.  Hubby never alluded to our seat location prior to the show.  Turns out we’d be sitting in Row 2.  The musician’s song “Walking on the Moon” would never seem more appropriate to me.

The mint green tee with the black Labrador represented the Sanibel Island trip.  The vacation came at the perfect time – three days after my biopsy, and two days after a work layoff.  Sharing that first sunrise on the beach with my soulmate, he asked, “What do you want to do with your life?”

“I want to write.”

“Then do it.”

Four years later, I’m living that dream.

The Jimmy Buffett concert literally brought back a flood of memories.  Russell, ankle in a cast, hobbled on crutches in a torrential downpour at Riverport.  Miserable and crabby, I was soaked to the core.  My friend Lisa showed up with a pair of dry socks for me.  What a good friend.

Woven throughout the quilt were bits of a yellow-orange batik sundress – a souvenir from a dive trip to Little Cayman, and a chance encounter with a wild dolphin named Spot.

Finally, the House of Blues t-shirt from Russell’s birthday weekend in Chicago reminded me of great food, cultural events, and the especially entertaining Blue Man Group.

These twenty-something experiences barely touched the surface of our adventures.

Much like Claude Monet trusted his eyes as he recreated the world outdoors, Liz patched our life together – one block at a time.  My thanks to this special lady.

I am unique.

It was recently suggested that I decide on a ‘brand’ for my book of inspirational essays with lyrical introductory photos of which I am seeking representation.  As I pondered this idea, I’m not sure if I came up with a solution.

I am certain of who I am and what makes me unique..

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I love taking long walks on the beach, and searching for shells.  The motion and harmony of the people, nature, and the waves, stir up feelings I can’t explain.

The great rush of water on my neck, arms and legs as I jump giant stride off a diving platform in the deep blue gives me the biggest adrenalin rush.

I cherish all animals big and small – from the tiniest dragonfly in the last stages of life to the ten foot Caribbean reef shark I encountered while diving in the Bahamas with my husband.

There are no bad days at the beach.

Family is important, especially since mom and dad have passed on.  I love my brother and cousins unconditionally, and my Aunt Georgia, the matriarch of our family.  They never cease to amaze me.  I call my husband’s family my own.

I love the feel of a horse’s coarse mane running through my fingers, and their soulful eyes.

Interacting with people and developing relationships is important to me.  My long time friends and I have experienced life together – laughing, crying, analyzing.

I’ve weathered tropical storms. Island people have threatened my deportation.  I’ve endured traveler’s diarrhea.  I’ve picnicked on unsuspecting homeowners lawns.  I’ve been called names by little girls in the Turks and Caicos, and even flown over the Atlantic Ocean in a seaplane during a thunderstorm.  And I wouldn’t trade any of it.

There are no bad days at the beach.

My three-legged cat boy, my butter-eating black cat diva, and my neurotic Aussie Shepherd give me endless pleasure, comfort and laughter.

I enjoy learning about my ancestors – through Uncle Willie’s Farm, or through an online ancestry registry that leads me closer to my father’s heritage in Lithuania.

If I couldn’t travel, I would shrivel up like a prune.

My transportation modes have been many – helicopters, planes, trains, automobiles, golf carts, hobie cats, bogie boards, canoes, kayaks, live aboards, dive boats, cruise ships, and mask, fins and snorkel.  Faraway and familiar places are countless, and the memories are enough to last ten lifetimes.

I believe you can’t write a story without snapping a photo.  Pictures make the best memories.

I love that I married my best friend.

And there are no bad days at the beach.Image