Category Archives: Life

Missing in Action

The cobwebs are back on my blog. The intentions of writing have been there, but remain only that, intentions. A couple of things have stopped me. I’ve started painting abstracts this year. It has consumed a great deal of my time. In addition to that, I work at an art gallery and much time is devoted there to classes, art camps, and open hours. I’ve had quite a few thoughts over the last few months about topics to cover, but focusing elsewhere has hindered the process.

Maybe I’ll post about my process of learning to paint. Maybe I’ll come up with more life skills to cover. Maybe writing about having too many irons in the fire would be a good place to start.

Until I figure it out… Take care. Thanks again for stopping by.

Cheers, Olivia

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Posted by on August 13, 2014 in Life


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Change Direction and Refocus

Many things in my life have been brought to front and center lately as needing some attention. Relationships with friends and family, career, and my well being in general. These different areas are all sitting in front of me in an audience with hands raised and waving in the air. It’s time to call on them.

Just a minute ago, my reminder came in the form of poetry. A friend that has been calling on many life questions of her own lately posted the last lines of


With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

I was inspired to revisit the poem and read it again.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

So many points in this passage allow me to reflect on my own life. Thus far, 2014 has proven to be a dynamic year, full of progress and realization. I see relationships that must change or must be gone from my life, with the promise of new ones to grace me. My direction in general is brought more into focus; clarity is coming in regards to what I should be surrounded by. My purpose in life, while not clear to me in the big picture just yet, is being revealed page by page, allowing me to have experiences, learn, and hone my skills to succeed in this life.

The journey continues.


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Posted by on March 22, 2014 in Life


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Complete Lack of Motivation


For months now, I have neglected my blog. It happens. There are lulls. I lose interest or am uninspired or I just forget. My intentions are good, however, my motivation is clearly lacking. There are signs all around me that serve as reminders to stay the course.

Last week, I was looking around online, researching how to retain motivation in writing. I came across a couple of sites that may help me. The ones that say to give yourself rewards and punishments are no help to me. If I want a piece of candy or a trip down the river in my kayak, I’m gonna get it when I want it. There’s no waiting for the end of a blog. Punishing myself doesn’t work for me either. Typically, we only punish ourselves after we feel guilty or wrong for something. Am I right? Punishing yourself seems to be more of having bad feelings toward yourself. That being said, it doesn’t work for me, either.

What does seem to work is realizing that I made a commitment to write and I must carry on. In my quest for motivation, I went to the internet to find others that were in the same boat and see their methods to maintain regularity in writing.

There were two websites in particular that got my attention. The first is specifically about blog posts.7 Ways to Stay Motivated to Write Blog Posts; Henri Junttila gives quite a few simple ideas to keep us rolling. One of his suggestions is one that I already use- having topics or blog posts complete for a rainy day. I have a list and some drafts at ready if I need them. Some of his ideas I could do more of- writing every single day, even if only for 15 minutes; changing my format on occasion to add variety and keep me on point.

The second site I came across was Jody Calkins is a writer and editor who’s website focuses on the writing side of business. After seeing her site, I found her on Facebook and Twitter. She provides a vast wealth of information as well as methods of motivation. I signed up for a 7 day exercise, in which each day, an email was sent to me with a description of something to write. Each exercise was completely different. They challenge writers to remain active in different aspects, in turn churning up thoughts to write about. She encourages research, short writing bursts, mapping, and even physical activities to stir creativity. I will admit, I have not completed the exercises yet, but I have been inspired to write this post.

In another area of my life, I am an artist. I dabble in different media, but my concentration is hand built pottery. I am part of a local cooperative art gallery that also helps to keep artists motivated and the public interested. We offer classes to the public for various types of art and each Monday night we have Studio Night. All are welcome, artist or otherwise, to work on whatever project they have going at the time. On any given night, there are as many as five different types of art/project going on: painting, sketching, pottery, fiber art/craft, jewelry, or even teaching or making a new fixture for the gallery itself. Our group usually is between 5-10 people and we help and encourage each other in our creative journeys. Some of the people work on the same type of task each week, while others (such as myself) change it up on a weekly basis. My main focus is to remain active in art and maintain creativity.


Here’s a shot from Studio Night. Over in our annex, we were painting with oils and acrylics as well as making jewelry. The project in the foreground is a rack I made to put in the gallery with scarves that I make.

Check out Vision Gallery. Are you part of a similar group?

What about your writing? How are you staying motivated and encouraged? I would love to hear what you’re doing.

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Posted by on March 16, 2014 in Life


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Funeral Service of Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Almost three years ago, my family lost a dear friend of ours. He was quite a character, to say the least. I knew a little bit about the group he was involved with, but have only learned more since he left us. Jerry Wayne Skelton was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) The historic mission of this fraternity is to “improve and elevate the character of man.” The current mission is based on this phrase, but goes quite deeper than that currently. As mentioned on their website, “Today, Odd Fellows and Rebekahs continue to exist with nearly 10,000 lodges in approximately 26 countries consisting of men and women who united together for mutual aid and conviviality, providing social and practical support for each other and their communities in every way possible.”  They go on to say:

“We are the family of Oddfellowship, composed of Men, Women, and Youth, believing in a supreme being, the creator and preserver of the universe, who have come together in our local communities having the same beliefs and values as others, that; Friendship, Love and Truth are the basic guidelines that we need to follow in our daily lives. Through working in our local Communities, States, Provinces, or Nationally we understand that we can make a difference in the lives of people in our World”

There is an incredible amount of additional information that can be found on their website. Independent Order of Odd Fellows

We attended his funeral and burial and, I must say, it was one of the most beautiful and eloquent services I have ever attended.  Members of his lodge were in their full regalia and stood proudly in front of the crowd.  The Noble Grand and Chaplain gave the service.  The words that the Noble Grand spoke were quite lengthy, but I could tell that they were typical of their services and that he had them committed to memory. He spoke with strength and gentility. He took his time; we were truly able to experience the life of our friend through his words.

After the service was over, I felt compelled to seek out the words that had been spoken of our friend.  I did not know the Noble Grand, Tyler Plegder, so I emailed the IOOF and requested the info.  Immediately, I heard back from him and he said he would send me the information. Time passed and I never heard from him.  I hesitated writing again as I did not want to bother him. As fate would have it, I got an email from this man’s mother this week (two and a half years later).  She indicated that I had made the request some time ago and that she wanted to make sure I got the information. I was so happy to receive the email the words he had spoken.

I would like to share those words with you. Beautiful language such as this rarely spoken these days. The service proceeded as follows:

Noble Grand: My Brothers, we have assembled to perform the last service the living can render to the departed: to pay respect to one to whom we were bound by the claims of sincere friendship, unfeigned love, and simple truth, one who was born as we were born, who lived as we now live, and for many days enjoyed his possessions, his power and his friendships. When we lay to rest his earthly remains, with its imperfections, we will cherish a lively recollection of his virtues.

Chaplain: Let us pray, Our Father, in this hour of sorrow, we turn to Thee for help. Though gavest life, Thou has received it unto thyself again.  May of the lesson of this hour sink deep into our hearts and purify them.  May friendship and love take new meaning in our lives, and may Thy truth guide us in righteousness to Thee.  Comfort all  whose hearts have been made lonely at this hour.  Assure them of They presence, and in their sorrow, teach them to know that Thou hast received the spirit of their loved one to Thyself again. Amen.

Noble Grand: Often we have been reminded in the solemn ceremonies of our Order of the great truth that all that is born must die.  How cheerless the home of the dead when unrelieved by the prospect of immortal life! But hope remains over man’s last resting place like an arch bright with mortality, which based upon earth, extends far into the sacred realms of eternity.

When the hour of death comes, it is faith in this immortality that brings consolation. Though we part, never to meet on earth, yet so we feel that somewhere, somehow, we shall rejoin our brothers. We look forward to a time when, with clearer vision, we shall know them in forms that never fade, in states that never change.

Today, we are in the full realization of health and enjoyment of the pleasures of this world.  In a little while, the ever burning furnace of time will consume to ashes all that have life and vigor in this terrestrial sphere.

Once, but surely once, will come to everyone the call that takes a soul from earth. We bow in love and in humility to the will of God. The Chaplain will now present a lesson from the storehouse from which all our principles are derived.

Chapalin: Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.  Before the mountains were brought forth, or even Though hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting. Thou are God.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate both day and night.  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Noble Grand: His life span has ended. The light of his eyes has gone out; and his lips are forever silent. His toils and labors are done.  The burning taper of his life has been extinguished and he has crossed over the silent river of his death.

My brothers, you are aware of his contribution to our beloved Order. No longer will his counsel be heard within our lodges, yet his wisdom will continue to aid us in our work.  No more will he labor with us; yet the results of his labors will continue through the years that are to come.

His work among us is done, yet his influence will live to direct our actions for the good of our Order.  We will miss him from our midst, but we will ever remember our association with him, and we will keep ever in mind the obligations that we owe to those who were near and dear to him.

As a token that the virtues of our brother will forever dwell in our memories we deposit this evergreen upon his casket.  Farewell, Brother, until we meet thee in the Eternal Home.

At this point, the information of Jerry’s membership was given. I do not have all the details. Grand Noble, J. W. Skelton, Lodge #3 in [Chattooga County, GA].

Noble Grand: The mortal remains of our brother will be laid to rest within God’s earth from whence he came.

Chaplain: Let us pray, Almighty and Supreme Ruler of heaven and Earth, look down, we pray Thee, with compassion upon this scene; give peace and comfort to these bereaved and give us the strength to live the obligations that we owe to them.  bless our beloved order here and everywhere.  May Friendship, Love, and Truth be not unmeaning words upon our lips, but the sentiment of our hearts and the practice of our lives.  May we live Thy law that commands us to do unto others as we would that they should do unto us, and, after a life well spent on earth, we shall pass through the valley of the shadow of death and cross the silent river to join our loved ones gone before. May we meet Thee Our Father, and hear the welcome plaudit. “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of Thy Lord.”

God of the Universe, while we entrust the holy spirit of our departed brother to Thy Holy care, may the record of his virtues be inscribed upon our hearts and his memory cherished forever. And we further pray in the words of Thy servant of old: “The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us and be gracious unto us evermore.” Amen.

I felt honored to be a part of this service and the life of my friend; both were gifts to behold.

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Posted by on November 25, 2013 in Life


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Thinking Back Eleven Years

Good morning from my cabin in the woods of NW Georgia. It’s a cool and beautiful start to the day here, just like it was eleven years ago. That fateful day. We are reminded of it often. We lost lives, landmarks, possessions, faith, and numerous other things. The shock was terrifying and numbing. Those of us outside of New York were frozen and in utter disbelief. The events took quite some time to set in. We had no idea what had hit us, what had transpired. It was unfathomable.

My memory of that morning is still sharp. I was still in college at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. For whatever reason, my hair dryer decided to quit on me that morning. Not wanting to have wet hair on a cool morning, I went to my friend April’s house a few blocks away to use hers. (I think I had a presentation that day and wanted to look my best. I can’t think of why it would compell me to drive somewhere to use a hair dryer otherwise.) This took about 15 or 20 minutes total, it seems. On my way back home, something caught my attention on the radio that was quietly playing. There was no music, but a man’s voice with a tone of urgency and confusion, saying something about a plane and the Twin Towers. I turned it up and thought “What? Huh?” also in a state of confusion.

The drive home was only about a minute long. As I walked back in my front door and looked to my left at the tv, the slow motion feeling kicked in. I saw the first tower burning, the chaos, the bafflement. I sat in my chair across the room and was glued to the screen. After a few minutes, I realize that it is almost time for my first class, but I can’t go just yet. I felt compelled to keep watching. At three minutes after 8 (Central time) the second plane hit. With tears coming to my eyes, I knew then that it was no accident.

After a few more minutes, I realized my jaw was hanging open, I hadn’t moved for about ten minutes, and that I was late for class. Coming into class late, I got the concerned eye and question from Mrs. Nemeth. I tried to explain what was going on- none of them knew. Without seeing it or hearing it, they had no idea of the magnitude. They also did not seem to be that interested. I wanted there to be a radio in the room!

As this morning is upon us, I read through a timeline of that day’s events. Large, swollen tears filled my eyes. The fear of all those on the planes is overwhelming. Their swift chain of events, from hearing foreign voices, seeing blood of their own shed, to turbulence and unusual speed, to fear and the sudden thought of loss of life and love is difficult to imagine, still today. With everything in me, I hope I live a life without ever feeling those things.

Remember those lost today. Be grateful you are here and living. Good morning, all.

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Posted by on September 11, 2012 in Life


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10 New Year’s Resolutions for the Gardener and Landscape Designer

Very good post. I’m passing this along to my Garden Club today at our meeting. Thanks!

California School of Garden Design


Here is a list of the top 10 things we’d love everyone to do (or not do) in 2012 and the years ahead.  Read through our list and even if you can only try one of these New Year’s Resolutions, make 2012 the year you try something new.  And do pass this along to your associates in the landscaping industry – from little acorns mighty trees do grow!  We wish everyone a happy, prosperous year.

Use more NativesResolve to include more native plants of the area in your designs, or if you are a homeowner looking for plants to include in your garden, resolve to go native!  Natives require less water and care, are hardy, and often offer a food source for wild birds and animals.

Reduce (better still, Eliminate) Herbicide/Pesticide Use  Resolve to look for more natural alternatives to RoundUp and other chemical pesticides.  Chemical pesticides…

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Holiday Etiquette

Parties and gatherings are upon us! We are traveling, cooking, loving, hugging,shopping, sneaking, peeking, wrapping, and enjoying! At this point we are all around people for days and days, family, coworkers, neighbors, and friends.  As all these functions are happening, let’s be aware of of our behavior.  I am already being reminded of how important it is to maintain a good sense of etiquette in all of these interaction (in my actions as well as those of others around me).

The first tip that comes to mind is this: You go to an office or group party in which everyone is required to bring a gift that will go to anyone at the party.  (As in having a drawing for the gifts or just picking them at random).  At this point, you realize that the gift you recieved is from someone that you don’t like or don’t get along with.  If that is the case, some people would prefer not to keep the gift.  So be it. What is the proper thing to do? Be gracious! Take the gift and thank the person.  What you do with it later is your own business, but be an adult and take it home with a smile and an open mind.  Then later, you can re-gift it (true, I have no problem with that) or sell it on Ebay or donate it to charity.  Do with it what you will, but be reminded that they thought enough to bring a gift to the party.  Also, how would you feel in their shoes? You look over only to see a person with the gift you brought grimacing about having your gift.  No so nice… And for the love of Pete, please do not leave the gift behind.  Take it with you.

Secondly, I will talk about food and drinks.  When you go to a person’s home for a party, they generally will have food and drinks that they have lovingly prepared.  If you see something that does not appeal to you, please do not bring it to the host’s attention.  To tell someone that you are not interested in a particular dish because of the way it looks is completely off the chart inconsiderate.  Pick what you like and eat that instead.  If the host offers you something you don’t want, ploitely decline and say that you would rather have the cookies intead.

Thirdly, if you are invited to an event, bring a small gift for the host.  Be it a bottle of wine, some goodies that you made (cookies, jellies, cheese straws, etc) a pack of cocktail napkins, or whatever.  It is a small way of thanking the host and being gracious.

Holiday dress.  Make sure your outfit is appropriate for the occasion.  Typically around this time of year, the dress is more festive and formal.  The invitation should specify they type of event and attire.  If it doesn’t specify attire, then read between the lines.  Cocktails? Dressy.  Tree trimming? More casual.  Dinner and drinks? Definitely a slacks or dress type of event..  When all else fails, call the host and ask what they would like you to wear.  He or she will be able to set the tone for you easily. Please folks, leave the tennis shoes at home.

I will close with this adivce.  Be flexible.  Most likely, everyone has multiple places to be right around Christmas.  Don’t get bent out of shape if  everyone can’t be there right at the same time.  Look at all the options and see what works for everyone.  This is not an appropriate time to be demanding of someone’s time.  State your request and work it out.  Spending time with each other is a gift in itself.

Have a safe and happy holiday.  Share your love.

Anything you would like to add to this short list? Please do!

Cheers and hugs! Olivia

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Posted by on December 23, 2011 in Life


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