Looking Back At 2010 & One Word-Encourage

New Year's Eve - December 31, 2009

In January of 2010, I wrote a post where I revealed that my word for that year would be Encourage.” You can read why I chose it by clicking on the highlighted word, encourage.

Following the lead of several bloggers I had long admired, I chose a word that I thought might help me be more mindful of those who by word or action had a positive effect on my life or the lives of others.

Whenever the opportunity presented, I included links and names so my readers might also enjoy the gifts that some of the people I noted here brought to my life.

During the year, I never bothered to keep track of how many times I used the word encourage or the category, ” One Word – Encourage.” Looking back earlier today, I discovered 33 posts with stories and links to people who inspired me and in their way provided a bit of encouragement without even knowing it.

As 2010 moves aside for 2011, I wanted to share a link to those 33 posts in case you need a bit a light in your life right now and if there is someone who has been an encouraging presence in your life, please feel free to leave a comment about them below. If it is a place or an experience rather than a person, I hope you will share that with us as well.

Warmest wishes to each of you for a Happy New Year and many thanks for stopping by to read or comment.

33 Posts meant to Encourage:

1) I began the year with a walk in the snow and shared a bit of my neighborhood and the people who live there.

2) John helped me provide a special image for you when I wrote about ” The Dance Of Life.”

3) ” Seeing The Boundary Stones ” was a thank you of sorts for some encouraging comments from my readers when I was feeling kind of blue.

4) Only a few months after taking what would turn out to be our last walk with a dear friend, I wrote about her in ” The Last Walk – Measured Steps.”

5) ” The Light Of Friendship,” does not need an explaination … just thanks.

6) A clear example of how ” Believing Can Make It So.”

7) In ” Reaching For More, “ I encourage you to stop by my friend Mariellen’s place after sharing another one of my stories first.

8 )  ” Hanging On When It Looks Hopeless “ is about a gift I learned from my darling husband John.

9) More words of gratitude for my readers and their kind comments in what followed after a difficult time while Cleaning Out The Attic.”

10) This one addresses some heavy mother-daughter stuff and links to a few people in, ” I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends.”

11)  After the death of actress Dixie Carter, I wrote a little something that included a significant woman in my life in ” Dixie Carter – A Strong Southern Woman.”

12)  A joyful story of how a group of women brought about something close to a miracle with hope, hard work, and belief. It is way more uplifting than the title, ” Bringing It to The Masses – No More Twitter Bashing. “

13)  This has to be read … I can’t explain ” When Grief Comes Without Warning “ without crying.

14)  ” A Leaping Ginger Cat Takes Flight “ helped me share a course designed to help creative types become airborne.

15)  I linked outrageously in this post where I gushed about my new blog crush. Penelope Trunk is a woman who continually shocks me with a fair amount of what she has to say and while I don’t always agree with her, I always leave thinking something new.

16)  ” Mister Rogers & Me – A Nantucket Film Festival “ shares the film success of couple of brothers who tell the story of Fred Rogers and his impact on the life of one of the brothers.

17)  I take you on a little ” Walk In The Park With Mariellen Romer “ in this post. It’s a sweet trip about reaching for your dreams.

18) ” Chewing On A Dreamy Idea ” is about inspiration and some of the places it came from for me last year.

19)  Letters from friends and how RSS feeds are like a modern-day mail box are only part of the story in ” RSS Feeds – Like Getting A Letter From A Friend. “

20) I wrote, ” Building A Home One Mouthful At A Time “ while considering how others accomplish difficult tasks.

21)  More special stories and moments from my past in ” Sharing A Story – My Teary Moment With Kenny Loggins. “

22)  I talked a bit more about the process and linked to some inspiration in ” Kelly Rae Roberts – Taking Control With Flying Lessons. “

23) ” Missing The Good Stuff “ has a link you really ought to see.

24)  This post was all about asking for what you want in ” Someone From Evansville Indiana Has The Ability To Change My Life.”

25)  I was a lady in waiting holding my breath here when I wrote, ” No Word From Evansville But Gifts Of Another Kind Instead.”

26)  Remember what I said about asking for what you want … this was a gift of enormous proportions for me as I was able to heal in part a bad memory when my Evansville reader responded to post 24. I shared her message in ” Welcoming Rita From Evansville Indiana.” Thanks again Rita!

27)  A post about being saved as a child and drowning is part of this post in ” When Drowning – Remember – Hope Floats. “

28)  Carolyn and Kim always inspire through their own blogs or by the things they say in comments. I had a chance to meet up with Kim on a trip to Paris and I talk about our meeting and her in ” To Carolyn From Paris. “

29)  In these tough financial times I found Donna Freedman a great person to check in with for consumer tips and she shows up in a Paris post titled ” Shakespeare And Company – Surviving And Thriving. “

30)  This mega cool post is where I make my music video début courtesy of my friend Benjamin Wagner’s ‘Forever Young video.

31) ” Special Delivery – First Giveaway Produces A Winner ” documented my first giveaway when I gifted a copy the music CD ‘ Forever Young’ to one of my readers.

32)  I was grateful for reader support in ” One Step At A Time “ where I talked about receiving a rejection for a job involving writing.

33)  ” Mother Love – Quietly Sharing The Wisdom “ shares a story of how I met a blogging friend in New Zealand and the impact of her words.

Whew! 33 links is a lot of work … I hope you enjoy a look back as much as I did. Feel free to pass all or some of this post on to someone you think might need a little encouragement and I’ll be back with more in 2011.

Believing Can Make It So

The Before Picture

This chair belonged to John’s parents. He inherited it after they died and has had it for about 13 of its 25 years. The chair does not really go with the living room as it exists now and John would tell you that he has never been in love with it. In fact, we tried to give it away to his niece Liz and her partner Tom when they decided to move in together, but they politely declined citing lack of space. They are in their mid twenties and I think perhaps having something that looked like a ” grandma chair ” was not what they had in mind for their first place together. Since John didn’t mind the idea of giving it away, he was also okay with me using it in my new space.

Feeling that my new studio needed more than just the daybed or desk chair for sitting, I decided to update the chair and make it a bit more funky. It had a faded polyester velveteen fabric that was a rusty, orangey-red color and several people pointed out that it fit the color scheme for my space. I felt like it needed reupholstering so I set out to make it happen. As is my way, I believed it was possible to do it myself.

It sat in the living room for a while with my fabric choice, a lime colored shade of green draped over it, and later in my developing space as it was being finished. When friends and family stopped by to have a look at our renovation/extension progress, they would see the chair and I always mentioned that I was planning to reupholster it for my studio.

I cannot tell you how many people said, ” Oh, you know how to reupholster furniture …” or something similar. Well, I did not know how to do it having never done it before, but like many things, I never assumed for one minute that it was beyond my ability. My response to those who asked was usually, ” No I haven’t, but I can work it out.”

I did consider that being a tufted chair would make it a bit more difficult, but the hardest part was taking the old tacks and staples out. After John watched me digging and yanking staples for several nights in a row, he encouraged me to give it away thinking it was too much bother. Suggesting that I quit in the middle of a difficult project only motivates me more. It’s like one child saying, ” Go on, I dare you …” to another child.

He walked into my studio space last night to find me hard at work on my chair and after seeing the tufting, said with some surprise how good he thought it was looking. My goal in sharing this story is two fold, one is my excitement in working it out for myself and the other is to encourage others to take a chance on trying new things even if you don’t know how it’s done. I think believing you can do it will often carry you along while sorting out the details of how to do it.

My ” new ” chair is almost complete and I will be back in a few days with some photographs that show the steps I went through as well as the finished product.

I would love for you to share an example of something you did that people questioned was possible or perhaps a project you have been considering.

The Dance Of Life

John lifted this image from a 1953 movie that his cousin Mary mentioned when she was here a few weeks ago. She is only in Will Any Gentleman for a few minutes, but you can’t miss the Cancan scene where Mary who was a professional dancer for more than twenty years is kicking up her heels. During her career, she danced with the Ballet Rambert, which is the UK’s oldest established dance company and still considered one of the world’s most renowned.

Take a look at the six women above and see if you can pick Mary out of the chorus line. (I’ll tell you which one is her at the end of this post) John found the movie online and ordered it almost as quickly as he heard Mary’s story when she was here for Christmas. We had a great time figuring out which one was Mary after it arrived. She would have been about 29 or 30 when this film was made and having just turned 87 we thought it might be a bit of a challenge to pick her out of the group based on how she looks now.

By slowing the movie down and viewing the scene frame by frame, it was very easy to see which woman is Mary. Despite the fact that her high kicking days are long past, Mary’s graceful movements as an 87 year old are still very similar to her much younger self.

It’s there in the angle of her head when she is listening to a conversation and you see it in the fluid rhythm of her hand gestures when she is telling a story. The lovely posture you see on her wedding day below is still very evident today.

David Levack & Mary Bench 1948

In addition to aging with grace and intelligence, Mary has not lost her taste for adventure as you can see by her decision to get close to the water’s edge on a blustery day when the sea at Trebarwith Strand was really rough.

I was a bit nervous thinking that as tiny as she is she might blow over, but John persuaded me not to hover and Mary was just fine.

I climbed up these rocks to catch the view of the ocean from a higher location and to my surprise …

I turned around to see John (no surprise there) coming up the rocks with Mary close behind him.

Remember what I said about adventure … she didn’t even need help going back down. My idea of what 87 looks like went through some major shifts during Mary’s visit.

This view waits for those who climb the path.

I saved this one for the last because of how absolutely beautiful Mary looks here. On Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, John and Mary went to Falmouth to go sailing with his brother David and his family. I stayed behind for some rest and missed all the fun, but John came home with some video so I could see how the day went and then created this still image of Mary from it. (The Cancan dancer second from the right is Mary, John’s adventurous, still stepping cousin.)

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Mister Rogers would be proud of the people in the little village I now call home. We’ve spent the last week fairly well snowed in and the care and concern I’ve witnessed among my neighbors has been lovely to see. I’ve never lived in a place where I knew so many people. In a village of 500, it is easy to learn not only the names of the people who live here, but often a bit of their history as well. Today I want to share a little with you about a few of my neighbors who help make this such a special place to live. If you are unsure as to who I am referring to when I mentioned  Mister Rogers earlier, this little video will help explain, but be forewarned it might make you cry.

Fred Rogers always began his children’s program with a special song about being neighbors and I’ve mixed in the lyrics which I’ve highlighted in blue with a few pictures of my neighborhood and neighbors.

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

This is the way to my neighbor Janey’s house. Yesterday when I couldn’t get to Port Isaac to have my stitches removed from a small procedure done the week before, Janey volunteered to take them out for me. Now a clinical psychologist, she trained as a nurse in her first career and offered to help when she heard me saying that I might have to do it myself.

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,

In the three pictures below, you can see Gary and Margaret who own the village pub. Margaret is also the post mistress and while I’ve seen them involved in fundraising for charity events more times than I can remember, they have been such good neighbors during this week of snow that it’s really been something to see. Our village shop which houses the post office among other things became a sort of command central staying open and supplying necessary items to keep the people in our community from doing without. Watching Margaret directing and coordinating the restocking efforts while continuing with her regular responsibilities was impressive. Her husband Gary was able after the first 24 hours to make trips in and out of our village maneuvering through the icy lanes in his 4 wheel drive vehicle picking up supplies for the village shop and giving people rides on some of his trips.

Gary cooking at a fundraiser for cancer research.

Gary behind the bar in the pub.

I had trouble finding a picture of Margaret in my files, but managed to find this one of her in the pub. Margaret is rarely seen behind the bar which explains why it looks as it does. I was shooting on the fly and not very well I’m afraid.

The flowers and cottage above belong to Jeff, a 77 year old man who I kept seeing with Gary when I would happen to run into them at the village shop as they were moving about the village giving some people rides in between their frequent trips to get supplies. I usually bump into Jeff three or four times a week and I was surprised to see that I did not have any pictures of him to post.

I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

Len and Mary are the couple you see here with their dog. I caught them just after they had returned our neighbor Betty’s dog after taking it up on the moor for walk for her. Having watched Len and Mary pick up deliveries from the village store all week to take around to some of the older people who could not walk to the shop, I can almost guarantee that what ever is in the bags they’re carrying, it is almost certainly a delivery for someone who can’t manage the snow. All of the good neighbors I mentioned have been tireless during this time making sure everyone who needed something was able to get it. I wanted to acknowledge these folks who did so much for the neighborhood and managed to look as if they were having a good time doing it.

So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?

Won’t you please,
Won’t you please,
Please won’t you be my neighbor?

One Word – My Word

I took this photograph at the ice rink at Rockefeller Center in New York so many years ago I can barely remember when. I always go there to watch the skaters when I visit Manhattan and once I even took time to skate myself. While I may not remember what year this was taken, I do remember the man in the center of the photograph. If you look, you can see him with his arms up, extended and open in the type of grand gesture one would usually associate with a competitive ice skater. What you can’t see in this picture is that he appeared to be in his seventies, with slowed movement, and frankly not much more than enough skill to stay on his feet.

While his posture and grand movements initially drew my eye it was the look on his face that made me unable to look away. To say he glowed would barely be adequate to describe the undiluted joy that he seemed to be experiencing. I was captivated in such a way that I have never forgotten the impression he made on me that day. His willingness to be himself with no apparent self-consciousness, moving as if he were completely alone all the while surrounded by an audience of spectators, caused me to make a vow right then. With no one listening but me, I said to myself, ” I want to be like that when I grow old.”  Now, years later I think, why wait ?

I’ve been looking at this photo a good bit since scanning the original into my computer a few months ago. For years it had a special place on my refrigerator door, but now here in Cornwall, we have a much smaller refrigerator and it’s covered with cabinetry so there’s no place for it there.

Lately, I found myself wanting to write about my experience at the ice rink that day but I’ve been putting it off waiting for the time to be right. I knew this morning was finally that time when I read Meg Casey’s post for today. If you haven’t been by Meg’s place yet you need to go. She is one off those people who quietly and repeatedly makes a difference. While reading her ” One Word “ post this morning I realized just what I wanted to say about my man above.

With so many of the bloggers I read choosing one word to act as a guide or theme for the year, I thought a great deal about what word I might find useful. I kept being drawn back to this photograph and thinking about it with regard to my word choice. At first I thought perhaps embrace might be a good word for this year, but it felt restrictive somehow…more about holding on to something instead of how I really think this picture makes me feel.

After reading Meg’s post this morning, I came back to ” my skater ” photograph and decided that my word for 2010 would be:


1. to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence.

2. to stimulate by assistance, approval, etc.

3. to promote, advance, or foster.

My unknown skater has been a silent inspiration to me since the day I took his photograph. His freedom to express himself without fear of ridicule is an example that I find inspiring and with that inspiration comes a measure of courage and spirit, as well the confidence to live boldly and do it now!  Plainly put…I am encouraged by his actions.

In 2010, I will be writing from time to time about people like Meg Casey who is encouraging to others just by sharing her own journey. If you have chosen a word for this year, please link in the comment section so others may find it.  You never know who may find encouragement in something you say or do. I’d be willing to bet my skater never knew …