November 28, 2022

Tune into Your Alternatives

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




Onions. Myth or Legend.

In 1919 when the flu killed 40 million people there was this Doctor that visited the many farmers to see if he could help them combat the flu… Many of the farmers and their families had contracted it and many died.
The doctor came upon this one farmer and to his surprise, everyone was very healthy. When the doctor asked what the farmer was doing that was different the wife replied that she had placed an unpeeled onion in a dish in the rooms of the home, (probably only two rooms back then). The doctor couldn’t believe it and asked if he could have one of the onions and place it under the microscope. She gave him one and when he did this, he did find the flu virus in the onion. It obviously absorbed the bacteria, therefore, keeping the family healthy.
Now, I heard this story from my hairdresser. She said that several years ago, many of her employees were coming down with the flu, and so were many of her customers. The next year she placed several bowls with onions around in her shop. To her surprise, none of her staff got sick. It must work. Try it and see what happens. We did it last year and we never got the flu.
Now there is a P. S. to this for I sent it to a friend in Oregon who regularly contributes material to me on health issues. She replied with this most interesting experience about onions:
Thanks for the reminder. I don’t know about the farmer’s story…but, I do know that I contacted pneumonia, and, needless to say, I was very ill… I came across an article that said to cut both ends off an onion put it into an empty jar, and place the jar next to the sick patient at night. It said the onion would be black in the morning from the germs…sure enough it happened just like that…the onion was a mess and I began to feel better.
Another thing I read in the article was that onions and garlic placed around the room saved many from the black plague years ago. They have powerful antibacterial, antiseptic properties.
This is the other note. Lots of times when we have stomach problems we don’t know what to blame. Maybe it’s the onions that are to blame. Onions absorb bacteria is the reason they are so good at preventing us from getting colds and flu and is the very reason we shouldn’t eat an onion that has been sitting for a time after it has been cut open.
I had the wonderful privilege of touring Mullins Food Products, Makers of mayonnaise. Questions about food poisoning came up, and I wanted to share what I learned from a chemist.
Ed, who was our tour guide, is a food chemistry whiz. During the tour, someone asked if we really needed to worry about mayonnaise. People are always worried that mayonnaise will spoil. Ed’s answer will surprise you. Ed said that all commercially-made mayo is completely safe.
“It doesn’t even have to be refrigerated. No harm in refrigerating it, but it’s not really necessary.” He explained that the pH in mayonnaise is set at a point that bacteria could not survive in that environment. He then talked about the summer picnic, with the bowl of potato salad sitting on the table, and how everyone blames the mayonnaise when someone gets sick.
Ed says that, when food poisoning is reported, the first thing the officials look for is when the ‘victim’ last ate ONIONS and where those onions came from (in the potato salad?). Ed says it’s not the mayonnaise (as long as it’s not homemade mayo) that spoils in the outdoors. It’s probably the ONIONS, and if not the onions, it’s the POTATOES.
He explained onions are a huge magnet for bacteria, especially uncooked onions. You should never plan to keep a portion of a sliced onion.. He says it’s not even safe if you put it in a zip-lock bag and put it in your refrigerator.
It’s already contaminated enough just by being cut open and out for a bit, that it can be a danger to you (and doubly watch out for those onions you put in your hotdogs at the baseball park!). Ed says if you take the leftover onion and cook it like crazy you’ll probably be okay, but if you slice that leftover onion and put on your sandwich, you’re asking for trouble. Both the onions and the moist potato in a potato salad, will attract and grow bacteria faster than any commercial mayonnaise will even begin to break down.
Also, dogs should never eat onions. Their stomachs cannot metabolize onions.
Please remember it is dangerous to cut an onion and try to use it to cook the next day, it becomes highly poisonous for even a single night and creates toxic bacteria which may cause adverse stomach infections because of excess bile secretions and even food poisoning.

Rain and Rhythm- More Music

Ok, another unusually rainy, and cool day in August.  In these parts, it is a bit of an adjustment to get acclimated to day after day of rain.  It certainly affects your activity, and well, certainly the way you feel the day. Instead of the magic, and imagery of a hot, sweaty, and sunny summer experience, that includes sand, wet bathing suits, and sun kissed noses, and produce,  I am now picturing covered porches, tin roofs, and books read in comfortable chairs.  I see water meeting water on lakes, rivers, and oceans, instead of daylight always hugging the horizons. With the late summer grey, I long to prematurely swaddle in a sweater. It has actually made me think of a little travel to a place that depends on winds, and weather I have not experienced….

So, until the travel takes place, or the jet stream changes, a good way to enjoy the current elements is to rock with the weather. This selection is for thunderstorms, and rainbows….

” Paper Airplane”  Alison Krauss and Union Station

“I’ll Be Seeing You” Billie Holiday

“Right Down the Line” Bonnie Raitt

“Just the Way You Are”   Bruno Mars

“Blossom”   Carole King and James Taylor

Andi Bartruff




Have you used your talents lately?

This recent economic upheaval  has taken many of us, and put us in a position to do some soul searching in regards to what we should do next. This could be a real blessing in disguise. How many people have buried what they do best under an unfulfilling career, and ignored latent talents? I have had to do different jobs for practical reasons, but I have nurtured what I love the most.   I must say my #1 talent is creating wonderful renovated living spaces.  I am one that must be doing something all the time. I operate this way almost  to the point of it being a fault! My work is only as good as the effort I put into it! Even when I am sitting down at the end of a hard work day, my mind is strategically planning my next working day. Why do I give so much time to my work?  Because I love it! It makes me feel good to utilize my talent and I can see my accomplishments. My passion doesn’t always pay me money, but it always offers me satisfaction! Fostering your talents, and seeing yourself mature past another time in your life, is incredibly rewarding.

I challenge each of you to focus on your talents. Yes we all have something that we do better than the average person. We are all gifted in some way! Putting energy into your talents will not only make you feel good about yourself but motivate you to do something that pertains to that talent. So no matter how big or small your talents are, use them! We are only as good as we allow ourselves to be! Spend time using your talents and I promise you will feel awesome about yourself and what you can accomplish! Yes we are all average people, but each of us have something we do that makes us above average and shine.


Music for Memory

Music is such a gift. It gives us great pleasure, and it definitely creates a trigger for some of our most important memories. When my dad was dying, and to the point of not speaking, I would sit by his side, hold his hand, and when I would ask him if he wanted to hear some music, he would nod his head. I would find ” Days of Wine and Roses” on his IPad, and put one earbud in his ear, and one in mine. I would lay my head on his chest. I knew he could hear the song, and me, because he would squeeze my hand, and he would slightly turn up the corners of his mouth.

Daddy was in a inexpliable place between past memories and future, and I was in the makings of an incredible, indelible memory for myself that is with me forever. It is cautiously captured every time I choose to listen to this special song.

From this, my advice would be to never get to busy, or harried to forget to listen to your music. Do this for yourself, and with everyone you love. Enjoy it with your friends during important occasions. Blast it in your car with the windows down. Make your kids, (in other words, share..:)) listen to your stuff! Mix up something fun, and dance around while doing your hard earned home improvement projects, and creating an important space!  Download something appropriate when you are mad. Play something fun, and gritty while you are on vacation. Kiss the one you love with some quality sounds in the background. Give yourself a few moments every day to find a few new music favorites. Oldies are great, but explore the new. Maybe you can find a couple songs on the radio, or in your music library?  It doesn’t take long to remind yourself of the importance of this rich sensory layer to your life…. Music is your audio photograph, and I promise, when you incorporate it into your life, you will record something very special.

Andi’s playlist for today…

“It’s Your Thing” Isley Brothers..

“Just Breathe”- Pearl Jam

“Where The Boat Leaves From”  Zac Brown Band

“Revelation” Third Day

“The Weight”  Duane Allman, Aretha Franklin

“Dazzling Blue” Paul Simon


and ….  “Days of Wine and Roses” Henry Mancini.. Love you Daddy..:)


Andi Bartruff



Make your Hat your Own.

I think a hat on your head can take life into many different directions. It can change your course. Think of being presented with a college football helmet, a major league baseball cap, a beauty queen tiara, a British fascinator, or even a crown. Even a sun hat may mean a day at the beach, or fun in the sun, and that is a good thing. Our friends at haTZ of Mt. Pleasant, in Charleston, South Carolina get this. Their hats can make a statement for any event, and a great gift for yourself.  They have taken traditional headwear, and personalized it southern style. haTZ of Mt. Pleasant understands the magic that a little something on your head can hold.


Zoe and Theresa can customize any hat for your events, special occasions, or gifts. You can contact them at 843-478-7209, or 843-532-2354, You can also message them on their Facebook page, and enjoy more of their selections.

Andi Bartruff/Contributing writer and editor




EMPATHY (What is it and do you have it?)

              I have recently discovered, that there is a theory that only certain people are born with empathy. In relation to sympathy, which is a harmony of feeling, empathy is a deeper, more vicarious connection to another’s experience. It is one of the best character traits to have, but it is possible that if you were not born with it, you will never have it! It could be that possessing true empathy is like being born with blue eyes!
           We all experience disappointments in some people. Their lack of connection to a myriad of individual situations is frustrating at best. But this plausible idea has been an epiphany for me. It has freed me from some of my relational prostrations, and made me realize that some may not be capable of walking in another mans shoes.
This lack of empathy can also lead to the not so favorable trait of righteousness. If someone cannot relate to another persons experience, then that posture is ripe for judging.
     So for those of us out there that nurture, and are in touch with their ability to empathize, we need to share it, and if we don’t get it back from someone, then maybe that person is not capable of the gesture. Lowering my expectations for the empathy exchange, has freed me from much disappointment. If your empathy tank is low, be conscience of filling it up, trying on some different shoes, and adding on a new intense awareness for a richer life.     Stephen Spurling

Keeping Your Room Clean….

       When I think of life, and all the challenges we all face on a day-to-day basis, I think of it as a room that often needs a good cleaning, or at the very least a concerted effort to keep it tidy.  Hey! we gotta live there! Keeping the four corners of our own lives in order is enough work on its own, so why do so many of us take on cleaning the rooms of others?
I do not think any of us have the perfect room, ( life), so lending our authority, and opinions to help others manage their space is most often stepping uninvited over their threshold, and beyond our boundaries. I know we say we do it out of love, or that someone needs our help, but really, if you do not share their room with them, then it is not your place to clean it up!
      Brightening the space of ones you love is honorable and note worthy. I know I always try to help the ones closest to me. Sometimes I think I know the best arrangements for their room, but I really don’t!  My opinion for their space might only offend, and at the very worst alienate them from my good intentions.
So remember, it is not our responsibility to rearrange the lives of others.  What may work for one may not work for another’s. Be proud of the work you do in your own room, share the secrets of your space,(when asked), and don’t be hurt or disappointed if someone you want to influence arranges their space in a different way. In other words, to rearrange a phrase, “One man’s mess, is another mans mansion.”
If we think about our lives  having rooms that need to be kept in order, we should manage them daily, and keep things moving forward so we are not overwhelmed. It is much more productive  to keep our rooms clean, and not intrusively concern ourselves with how others deal with their space.
Finally, If you think you have your room in order, and want to offer some well-meaning advice to a “messy” friend, or family member…. Don’t!       Stephen Spurling

Finding the Joy in the Journey.

When life suddenly scaled things down with the subtlety of an F5, I had to regroup on most things. Gone were the days of chartered boating, upscale resorts, and divine city dining. This lifestyle change may have adjusted my itinerary, but it has not changed my wanderlust, and curiosity for what may be around the next bend. Therefore, In my travels, I have reached out, and made incredible journeys into my own.

Locally, I have discovered an ethereal coastal compound for wild horses, that have inhabited this extraordinary island for hundreds of years. I happened on a bird sanctuary, that rehabilitates birds of prey, and fosters and guards its local eco system. I have toured  historic buildings to better understand my local history. I have happened on locally grown treats at state highway roadside markets, that make it more than worth the diversion. I have found characters in small, rural towns, that have turned their passions into content for national documentaries.  I have enjoyed views from day hikes that can be postcard perfect, and sunset kayak excursions on local rivers, that would be worth a much longer trip.

I am grateful for the five star resorts, and the first class seats, and all the luxury of a different time. But for now, I am tuned into a fresher, deeper, and more mature adventure. I am enjoying rich and simple discoveries in my own backyard. “The Joy of the Journey”

Andi Bartruff

Contributing Writer/Southern Smarts








Turning The Page…


            We all think we live life to the fullest and yet sometimes we spend too much time fighting, bartering, and often settling for less than we deserve. It maybe time to turn the page… Turning the page on some situations can be quite difficult. We find comfort in our routines even if our routines are not beneficial  to our well-being! Living in a comfort zone of chaos is not very comforting or wise. Many of us can’t see this because it is all we know and we have become comfortable with settling. Is this why we have such a hard time turning the page in our lives? Is routine and consistency more important than changing our lives for the better???


       Think of all the time we waste on situations that we have no control over. Being wise to what we can and cannot control is key to turning the page. I always try to give myself a time limit on my uncontrollable situations. Turning the page means… I have not only let go of the situation, but it has freed my mind of what was ailing me. So if it is time to turn the page in your life… Do it! It may be scary at first but look what you have to gain…a new and exciting comfort zone that will be beneficial  to your happiness and longevity as a person living your life to the absolute fullest.
  FOOTNOTE: This is easy to say and write… Doing it is more difficult! My chaotic childhood taught me the skill of turning the page. It is more than surviving in chaos, it is thriving in chaos! I have turned a lot of pages in my life and will continue to do so because my happiness is mine to have!  It is easy to feel calmness and peace during the quiet times in our lives. It is a learned skill to feel calmness and peace in the eye of the storm.  Stephen Spurling