April 12, 2014

All Wrapped Up For The Holidays

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We are working diligently on our Stephen T and Vikki Lee show… A bigger undertaking than we originally thought. We did get this clip edited in time to wish everyone an awesome holiday season. Be sure to watch all the way to the end… because I sing!!! (not a good thing) It really is a testament to one stepping out of their comfort zone for a laugh! Thanks Stephen T.

All Wrapped Up for the Holidays SS from Stephen Spurling on Vimeo.

“Manners”. Are they becoming a thing of the past!?

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“Manners”
I have always thought of manners as something that was the general rule of the land, or so that was what I was taught. You ALWAYS show your manners in every situation! The word manners was never intended to be used but for the good… saying someone has bad manners is not correct, so you either have them or not. We can’t pick and choose what parts of having manners we want to live by….The definition of manners states bullet points to go by….
Truthfulness
Self-control
Kindness towards one’s fellow beings
Learning by listening to everybody
Knowing that human knowledge is never perfect
Avoiding open conflict wherever possible should not be considered weakness
The importance of justice and morality
And yes I know none of us are prefect but if we try to maintain an awareness of these bullet points , we are for sure to be  observed by others as having manners.
Remember manners are not to make you feel comfortable in a situation but to make those around you feel comfortable…. That my friend is a noble action, and what having manners is all about.

Sent from my iPad

Leveling Out Your Playing Field

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I remember a lot of great things about my mother , but her green thumb has to be my most treasured. I learned so much from her passion for gardening, and how to tend to and appreciate the beautiful things that grow in nature! Satisfying the need to dig in her gardens gave her a quiet control. She would make time to fertilize, water and “dead head”. This is the technique of pinching off the dead blooms. The simple effort keeps the plants blooming.  For my mother an “off with the old and in with the new!” gave her a hopeful activity. No matter how tired or busy she was with the other things that can consume all of our daily lives, , her gardens always held high priority for her time and attention. Her reward was a beautiful, thriving garden, and moments of peace for her soul.  The relationship she had with nature was one that she could control and because she nurtured her garden, and it responded, she had very few disappointments in that peaceful place. I realized that her gardens were more meaningful to her sanity, a rejuvenating sanctuary of sorts. I think of all the times in her life that chaos would take center stage, and she would head to her gardens… A place she created for herself only… A place that made her smile and feel great about her success as a gardener. I often think my mother was “leveling out the playing field” in her life by spending time in her gardens. After all-controlling plants and their success was easier than trying to control the chaos of people around her. My mother had a lot of beauty in her life, some was a blessing, and some she created.  We all can learn to create beauty in our lives, we just have to remember that controlling a “plant”, is easier than controlling a person. My mother often said ,” My  life was chosen for me, and it is my responsibility to make it as beautiful as I can.” Her ability to distinguish between what she could create and control was the lesson that I learned from her. This lesson was one of many she taught me. No, I didn’t get her green thumb but I got so much more.  I recognize that we can not control people, but we can create a place to go and dwell in what we love. A place that offers us peace and beauty… We can always create a place that makes us smile and offers peace. It can be perfected with our love, and hard work. And does not have to revolve around people problems.  When you find that place visit it as often as possible… It will “level out the playing field” in your life.

“They” Say…..! Who the Heck is “They”.

Who is ” They” ?  ”They” say, and we do what “They” say. “They” gives us all credibility. We share what “They” say and this unknown entity exist for most of us. It is a way to confirm what will happen or what could happen. So “They” create an easy path for us to live by. Easy in the sense that we agree with this unknown entity for reasons of  ” Well if they said it , it must be true”.  We live in a world of shared thoughts and experiences and we want to share these experiences to save others the burden of the unknown. We all have become an authority of ” They say”. Imagine if someone had done a fact check on “They say not to swim for an hour after you eat, or you will cramp up and drown.”  Had we not taken “Their” word for it many of us could have had a lot more pool time. ”They say no two snowflakes are alike.” Well I find that one may have been difficult to say for sure. So be careful with your helpful thoughts and experiences from “They say”, because “They” aren’t always right.

 

A Conversation with Southern Smarts

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Southern Smarts loves sharing our lifestyle ideas and experiences with our growing group of readers. Technology gives us a wonderful way to mass connect, and we are very excited about utilizing Southernsmarts TV to introduce you to the personality that is intent on bridging old-fashioned conversation and technology. We want this outreach to make you our follower and our friend.  Today is our first filming, and we hope you enjoy the evolving journey!

With: Stephen Tee and Vikki Lee

Karen Mosteller, Cinematographer/Producer. SouthernSmarts.com

 

It’s Fall! Let’s Kick off Oyster Season!

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In an ethereal way, we are all pushed out of our warm and lazy summer days. We wish to hum through our love of summer, but a transition calls. Football will beckon, colors will change, and on the coast, oysters also take the stage. We have a salve to heal the pain of a lost season, and for this angst we have the Oyster Roast.

If one has an invitation to a friends backyard, or the opportunity to participate in a generous local business invite, it would be a sad mistake not to take the chance on the Oyster Roast experience.

Check the weather for a possible drop in temperature, and wear something wash, and wear that is ,well, you. Oyster Roast people don’t care what you look like. They just want to share in the event, and enjoy getting to know everyone over a cold beverage, a saltine and something special from the sea that shouts “Fall is Here!”

The table will be rustic and functional made for distributing oysters, and discarding shells and always made to accommodate conversation. One good glove, and an oyster knife is all you need in the way of utensils. A hospitable oyster roast veteran can help a newbie get started. Sip a beverage, and crack open that oyster shell. Oysters are not about their appearance.  They have depth, texture, and dimension.  Try all the condiments, cocktail sauce, butter, vinegar, or if the oyster is perfect, nothing at all.

As is at the Oyster Roast, so is life.

Andi Bartruff

Americans United in Tragedy. 9/11

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Today  we remember a day that forever changed our feelings of vulnerability that we have all shared as Americans. We were untouchable on US soil. Since 9/11 we now know we can be victimized for our beliefs. Why does this situation exist?

It probably exists because we believe that what we think and what we believe is right for everyone. It doesn’t make sense to punish anyone because their beliefs are different. I think back on the days, weeks, and months that followed that forever changing day. We as Americans had one purpose, and that was to be united as a nation. As this united nation, we stood together in shock, grief, and anger!  We all felt the same to some degree.

I get disappointed at times, at how easily our lives became normal again. Everyone went back to their routine, and seemed to have lost the unity we once had during that historic period. Why does it take such a catastrophic event to unite our nation?  I believe it is normal for us to live our own personal triumphs, and tragedies. However, we must never forget the unity we had at that time. We should realize the challenges we face as a nation, and we have proven ourselves in the past, time and time again. We are always one nation. We protect, and we want what is best for all. So, as today unfolds, be kind and caring towards your fellow Americans. . We will all be united today in remembrance of that tragic event, just remember to continue that feeling of unity in our cause to create the best nation for all of our people. We all count on the common goal.. Liberty, and Justice for all!!

 

Does Anyone Really Borrow A Cup Of Sugar Anymore?

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If you live in a neighborhood where you have recently borrowed a cup of sugar, then I would consider that to be a great place, and a place that time has forgotten. Why has this neighborly gesture become a thing of the past? Most of us don’t even talk to our neighbors anymore, much less feel that we could borrow a cup of sugar from them. This strong bond and sense of community is probably gone forever. I for one will always miss it.

I grew up in an older, established neighborhood, and by that I mean, we had all been there a while. We spoke daily, knew everybody’s family, and everybody’s business, and in a good way. We took care of each other.  I remember as a kid, my mother, my grandmother, and my aunts, would spend all their time in the kitchen cooking for our family, and they would also cook food to share with the neighbors. When they needed an ingredient, no one ran to the store, or bought something prepared in its place. They would send me next door to borrow a cup of sugar, a stick of butter, flour, or whatever was missing in the pantry.  That is just the way it was. We spent time talking with the neighbors over a cup of coffee, sharing gardening tips, sharing the days local news, and of course a sharing touch of healthy gossip. I remember my mother borrowing a stick of butter from our neighbor Barbara, to bake a cake that was going to be given to her for a holiday gift. I am sure if Barbara had known this, she would have given an obligatory eye roll, told the story over a cup of coffee, and deep down been perfectly fine with the gesture of give and take.

So now all these years later, I’m still living in an old city neighborhood, much like what I grew up in. But my childhood memories are just that, childhood memories. I am lucky if I get a smile and a gentle wave from my neighbors, because in this day and age that bit of effort seems to be a lot for people to give. My neighborhood and neighbors are great, but really it is our overall society that has changed. I wonder if someone next door took the time to sit on my porch with me, drink a cup of coffee, and talk about Sundays football game, would be like telling your friends you saw Bigfoot.

What we are missing by dismissing this wonderful old pastime, is connecting with another person, and growing a relationship that enriches, and strengthens who we are. Real human connection, not texts, not emails, not phone tag, gives us a way to give back, a way to give of ourselves, and a way to learn from others how we can be a better person. It gives us perspective, and wholeness. And let’s face it, we all need a cup of sugar at some point! Let’s make the effort to make the connection, and never forget how great is it to be a part of a neighborhood family!

Stephen Spurling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Is Not Forever

Fall sings the last song for so many in nature….. So how do these creatures prepare for their life’s end?

The spider, the katydid, the beautiful butterflies, are all living their lives to the fullest. If we take time to observe them, the katydid are singing the loudest, the spiders are weaving beautiful webs in an effort to eat everything in sight, and the butterflies are dancing their last dance.  I have taken time to watch all this, and as I am mesmerized  by all their activity, I wonder if they know the end is near?

I want to think not. I want to think of them as enjoying, and doing what defines their greatest moments right now. And if they do have a sense the end of their life is near, well that is fine too. They are using their gifts, and talents with all they have, and they are creating a cycle of life that benefits them, and prepares for the future.

So do these insects hold the key to excepting the terms of their short life, and living it to the fullest? I believe so. We humans do not always get a heads up on when our short life will end, so we must tap into all our resources, and acknowledge that we may not be able to use them tomorrow.

This can be a tall order as so many things distract us from focusing on our capabilities. But I think of all the times I have walked through a spider web, only to find it right back there the next day. Don’t let things get in the way of what defines your being. We must take time everyday to do what makes us happy. So, dance, sing, and eat.. Well, you know what I mean.. Live what makes you happy, because you don’t always have a season change to remind you we don’t have forever. We can learn a lot from observing.. Even if it is a katydid, a spider, or a butterfly..   Stephen Spurling

Tune into Your Alternatives

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Sometimes I think The Holy Grail of satisfaction is recognizing alternatives that beat our current expectations.

Years ago, I had my heart set on going to Rome. There was nowhere I could imagine more fabulous than Italy, and I wanted to experience any part of it I could. At the time I was working for an airline, and travel was free and flexible. My friends and I headed to the airport for a dream Italian vacation. Well, a lot of other people had the same idea. We had no guaranteed seat, and after much anticipation we found ourselves watching a full Boeing 767 pull back from the gate without us. We looked around at nearby gates, and flashing boarding signs. “London”? , “Paris”? They both sounded great. Running from gate to gate,we found out the same thing. No room. Ok. One last destination. Munich. It was a new service for the airline, and there were plenty of seats. It was also the last option. We all begrudgingly agreed to take our Italian vacation in Germany.

I had many preconceived ideas about Rome. I saw the Coliseum, the Vatican and Spanish Steps.  I pictured great looking men, and wonderful food and wine. I knew little about Germany.  But what a blessing. With no agenda, we tumbled into this alternative vacation, and began this unexpected journey. We had real beer under the magical Glockenspiel in heart of Munich. We drove the autobahn ( albiet in an Opal..:) to the medieval town of  Rothenburg, and had the life changing experience of spending time in Dachau.  The next day we headed to Salzburg Austria through the majestic Bavarian Alps. Well, this was no Rome, but as I traveled through this spectacular place, Italy was the furthest thing from my mind.

What I have learned through an inordinate amount of hard headed episodes, is that sometimes we are so focused on the illusions of what is in front of us, that we miss out on a more appropriate opportunity.  I think this is so applicable in our everyday life .  We are trying to constantly put round pegs in square holes. Jobs, friends, family.. Sometimes these things are pulling away from the gate without us, and we have to find another place to go. But from my experience, if I look for an unplanned alternative, I have always found an even richer, and better way.

Andi Bartruff