Sweet Spots in MN Lake Country (a mini-series) – Part 1 Breezy Point

I adore when people share photos and stories of their surrounding area. It’s neat to read real life stories, and see real images of places I’m unfamiliar with. This gave me the idea to share some of my surrounding area.

I live in the beautiful Lake Country of mid-Minnesota. We are surrounded by many gorgeous lakes, rivers, and streams.

Let me introduce you to Breezy Point, MN. A little over 2,400 people call this place home (according to World Population Review 2022). This little city sits on the shores of Pelican Lake.

The “anchor” of this community is the Breezy Point Resort. Publishing giant and owner of Fawcett Publishing, “Captain Billy Fawcett”, built Breezy Point Resort in 1921. The Resort was visited in the Roaring 20’s by the rich and famous, and movie stars including Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Tom Mix and Jack Dempsey. When the village was incorporated in 1939, it had the name Pelican Lakes. But if I understand the history correctly, there was already a city named Pelican Lake in Minnesota. So, the city was renamed to Breezy Point in 1969.

The Breezy Point Resort sign sits at the bottom of the hill on one of the main roads coming into town. At this same intersection, are two gas stations – Pelican Square on the right also contains the Subway Sandwich fast food shop and car wash; and Breezy Point Ace Hardware on the left, a hardware store and gas station. There isn’t a plethora of shopping opportunities in Breezy Point, but usually any necessity can be found at the gas stations or the Resort. There are several towns nearby that offer unique shopping experiences.

The Resort has many amenities. There’s a convention center, three 18-hole golf courses, boat marina, four restaurants and bars, spa, rec center, and approximately 250 rental units ranging from hotel rooms, suites, condos, and multiple bedroom cabins.

A few years ago, I temporarily worked with the Breezy Point Resort in the Human Resources department. (My boss was amazing! She was in the process of transitioning careers, so we lost touch.) The Resort employed around 900 people at that time (with its partner properties). One of the most exciting experiences working at the resort was the influx of foreign exchange workers from around the world. In the summertime, the resort is filled with visitors, and the help of more workers is needed. I’m not sure if/how this exchange was maintained during the Covid years, or if this program still exists. More about the Resort and its history can be found here: https://breezypointresort.com/resort-history/

A lakeside view of one of the resort’s dining areas – Dockside.

If you’re interested in a lake tour, you can book a cruise on the Breezy Belle. The Breezy Belle is an authentic stern wheel paddleboat. She is propelled by two paddlewheels at the rear of the vessel. The Belle was designed and built in accordance with U.S. Coast Guard specifications for service on the Mississippi River. Belle is commanded by a licensed captain. https://breezybelle.com/

A late afternoon view of Pelican Lake from the City Swimming Beach.

Breezy Chapel is a gorgeous little chapel that just ‘feels special’. It’s in service from Memorial Day through Labor Day. I searched for more history, yet didn’t find much. This website tells us more about the connection to the Gloria Dey Lutheran Church in the next town over: https://www.gdlcpequot.org/brezzy-point-chapel

About: Services for the chapel began at  the Supper Club in Breezy Point in 1963. The beautiful log building was dedicated on September 6, 1964. Mr. and Mrs. (Ginny Simm) Don Eastvold, at that time owners of Breezy Point Lodge, donated the lots and the Captain Bill “Fawcett Steps” to the District.”

A small channel in front of the Breezy Point Chapel.

Breezy Point City Hall

This is the sign in front of Breezy Point City Hall. The old sign was recently updated to electric, and it is bright. It flashes notices all day long.  More info on the sweet city of Breezy can be found here. https://www.cityofbreezypointmn.us/

Next to City Hall is the City Park. This is the first sign you’ll see as you drive into the parking lot. It contains a funny tale told by Paul Bunyan about how the place was almost named “Elmer Point”.  As you can see from the next few photos, the park carries on the legend of Paul Bunyan.

Paul Bunyan’s giant footprints.

Within the City Park is a playground, basketball court, softball field, volleyball area, pavilion, restrooms, paved walking trail, and more.

The basketball court is located behind the playground.

Fun xylophone music can be created here.

Walking trail surrounding the park.

Children playing a ball game in the distance. I didn’t get close enough to see what they were playing. The children were quite young, so I might guess T-ball?

A sign inside City Park gives a bit more information and lists donors. When the irises, lilies, and other flowers are in bloom, it’s a pretty site.

Directly across from Breezy Point City Hall is our Breezy Point Airport. If you’d like to fly in, here’s the information you’ll need to know: https://www.breezypointairport.com/ (In the background you can see the Breezy Point Ace Hardware store and gas station, and the red roof of Pelican Square gas station.)

The next few photos are a small view of one of the Funnest Local Events – Breezy Point Aviation Days! This event is completely free. Pilots fly in and let us look at their planes. There’s Classic Cars, food, a pilots and friends social, and opportunities to meet with people in a few local aviation fields – the Civil Air Patrol, Emergency Vehicles, Medi-Vac Helicopter, and a Military Aircraft Flyover. In 2021, over 1,000 people showed up to see 72 airplanes and 65 classic cars.

I’m ending this glimpse of Breezy Point with one of my favorite Peaceful locations. Some may find it unusual, but if one is seeking serenity this is the perfect place to find it.

The Pelican Woods Cemetery and Nature Trail is designed as a final resting place for those who love the woods and lakes encompassing Breezy Point. It holds both traditional and crematory burials.

In 2010, a natural berm at the entrance was created for additional privacy from the adjacent road. The Master Gardeners have done a wonderful job keeping the gardens gorgeous.

The road slowly winds around into the Woods. There are graves along the route, please be respectful here. A short ways in, there’s a thoughtful sculpture for the All Veteran’s Memorial, designed by local artist Jeff Kreitz. Dedication for the structure was held in 2013.

Further down the road and around the curve is the Shelter. Across from the shelter (not in the photo) is a structure for urn placement. Those whose final wish is to be cremated, can choose a spot in the Urn Structure. Their name is carved on the outside of their urn’s location. I chose not to photograph this as it would invade privacy. People being laid to rest here are most likely looking for the peace this place represents.

A soothing “water-feature” was completed in the fall of 2007 near the shelter area.

A Monarch Butterfly Release is held near the Shelter the 3rd Saturday of July each year. One summer, we attended with our grandbabies. Each person is carefully given a little packet with a butterfly to release. It was so spiritual to watch all those little butterflies flutter into the air.

Blossoms in Pelican Woods Cemetery and Nature Trail.

There are many images I didn’t include from the city of Breezy Point; gas stations, restaurants, bars, golf courses, the disc golf course, the ice arena (for hockey and skating), events, nightlife, and more.

These are just a few highlights I enjoy in the mid-Minnesota Lake Country, at Breezy Point.

Fun Friday Project: Paper Quilt Cards

Serendipity has been the tune of my life lately. Solutions, stories, wisdom, kindnesses, images, seem to be appearing in sets. A recent happy coincidence involves quilting. I’m not a quilter but multiple quilting stories have made their way into my world. They’ve inspired me to take a warm tradition and add my own flair.

Quilt-making dates back centuries, a quick online search said it may date as far back 3400 BCE. People made quilts to keep warm. Nowdays, it’s a bit more of a personal art form. Patterns are affectionately put together and intricately sewn for loved ones, and memories are made for a lifetime.

In reminiscence of quilts, I have three stories.

  1. One of my favorite memories from when I was a child was the time my mom and I decided to make a quilt together. Neither of us could sew, nor did we have a sewing machine. What we did have were lots of old worn-out clothes given to us by well-meaning church-goers, a scissor, a few spools of black and white thread, and a half dozen needles. We cut and cut and cut squares. We sewed and sewed until our fingertips bled. We bandaged them and continued on. And after weeks of work, and many hours where we thought we might as well give up; we had a finished product. I was quite proud of our efforts and endurance. This was one of the most fun things we ever did together.
  2. Many years later, months before my little boy’s tenth birthday, I decided to make a quilt for him. We had plenty of his old wore out blue jeans, and some blue flannel material. I wanted so desperately to gift him a memory as special as the one I had with my mom. Sewing really wasn’t a natural task for me. Back when I was in high school, I had wrecked sewing machines during Home Ec class. I wasn’t a seamstress, and I didn’t own a sewing machine. My desire to gift him something special overshadowed my skill level. Fortunately, my mother-in-law lent me one of her older sewing machines. I cut and cut and cut squares. I plotted and replotted how to make the quilt big enough to cover his bed, but not too big or heavy so he overheated at night. I sewed, ripped up what I sewed, and re-sewed. Blue yarn was used as an accent in the center of each square. I finished his quilt in time for his birthday. I’m not sure if his memories of it are as special as mine. All I know is that my whole heart went into making it for my sweetest little boy.
  3. When my son was a teenager, he and his other grandma made me a quilt with a matching pillow. My heart just melted that they created this gorgeous, timeless, intricate artwork for me. My son’s other grandma has made many quilts, and each one is so special. I don’t know how she comes up with so many different designs.

There’s something sweetly extraordinary about quilt-making, especially when gifting it to a loved one. To honor the memory of quilt-making, I’ve been trying to make ‘quilt’ cards. This was my first attempt. These cards aren’t finished, I still have to find proper placement of items and glue them down. I’ll keep tinkering, and try a few other designs I have in mind. The best part is, the only time I might poke myself with a needle is when I sew a button on.   

Of course they’re not professional looking designs. They’re made from what I have on hand – homemade paper and left-over scraps. I’d rather use what I have, and not invest in more paper or better more artistic card-making tools. It’s certainly a challenge to work this way, but it gives my brain and stretch, and my heart goes into each effort.

Our dreary weather has me wanting to wrap up in a soft quilt, sip some tea, and enjoy a warm slice of apple banana bread. Two homemade, gluten-free loaves are cooling on the lovely hand-embroidered dishtowel my husband’s grandma made for us when we were married. The scent of fresh-made sweets and the warmth of the oven have me feeling so comfy and relaxed. Life has been filled with a bit more discomfort lately – I’ll enjoy this moment while it lasts.

*Update on a previous Fun Friday Project – Notebooks…

My Gorgeous Grandchildren visited and created fun covers for their own old notebooks. Grandson chose an image from an old car calendar and added some cool details to the car. Granddaughter chose a different route and used a dry-desert paper, sticky flowers, and inspiring words. They are so creative!!

~Dream, Believe, Achieve~

An Athlete Follows Their Gut and Does the Right Thing, Even Though Their Team Loses

Sports (should) instill great values such as – teamwork, leadership, self-improvement, good health, graciously winning or losing, celebrating hard-work, having fun – to name a few.

Mimi Harris’ story is a great example of a sports player doing the right thing.

Below are random excerpts from a couple of news sites. (Bold print added by me to emphasize her mother’s wise words. )

“Mimi Harris

… a former high school volleyball player was playing in a tournament with her club team when the final point came down to a bad call.

Her team won, but Mimi knew they shouldn’t have; the ball fell in, not out.

She told the referee what happened. The call was reversed and her team lost.

Mimi’s decision was an award-winning one, earning her a Better Business Bureau ethics scholarship. She is now headed to Alabama State with that award.

Her mom Bre Harris is a former college volleyball player herself and saw that the ref’s call was wrong too and wondered what her daughter would do.

“She went with her gut and her gut told her to do the right thing. I told her when you do the right thing, you never lose,” her mother said.

“When I see that she’s making the call and decision based on something that defines her character, it helps me realize she’s going to be OK in life because she’s guided by these principles now as a 17-year-old,” her mother said.”

Read more here https://www.fox4now.com/news/national/high-school-volleyball-players-honesty-leads-to-teams-loss or here https://www.fox10phoenix.com/news/arizona-volleyball-players-honesty-loses-team-the-game-but-wins-the-respect-of-her-family-peers

Thank-you

Life is filled with coincidences, sometimes people can unknowingly change a bad day to good. (Please click below on Jane’s link – Aging, Eric’s link- GRACE, and Jessie’s Link – Remote Volunteering. They are the reasons I wrote today). I’ve been painfully ill since March, enduring multiple medical visits, scans, found ‘lumps’, and several rounds of medicine. A future date with a specialist is scheduled in a few weeks. I’m not sure how seeing specialists works in your location, but here, by the time they can finally fit me into their schedule, I’m sure I’ll be all healed up and not in need of their services. In the meantime, I’m trying to learn to enjoy prayerful meditations and other gentle healing practices.

My biggest tear-jerking heartache is feeling useless, and concerned that things might not get better. Aging can sometimes appear like an unfair situation. We work so hard all our lives, waiting to enjoy those ‘retirement years’, and it seems health issues interfere with that joy.

Thankfully, there are other people in the world who seemed to read my mind and presented information for me just when I needed it most.

Getting old and enjoying it just fine – in song

Jane is a great example of how blogging can inspire like-minded folks, and connect us all around the world. Jane lives in Canada. She read a post by a blogger in Australia, which sparked her to write her post. In turn, Jane inspired me. I live in the USA and was feeling a bit sorry for myself with my current health issues. I’ve been worried the older I get, the more difficult life will be. But Jane led me to think of positive things about getting older. Here are some things I get to enjoy.

  1. Relationships that span many, many years. I’ve been married to my true love for over 27 years. I have best friend relationships lasting for over 40 years. These are relationships I never have to second guess. I never have to worry about being myself. These are people who know me well, sometimes better than I know myself. There’s something so heart-inspiring about the people I’ve known ‘forever’. Being my age helps me see that loved ones are the most important parts of my life. And I know that now is the time to enjoy every single second I can with my grandbabies.
  2. Experiences are varied and vast. I’ve lived long enough to see things change, and come around again. I’ve traveled enough to see that there isn’t one perfect way for all people to live. I’ve learned tons of things, and I’ve learned there’s tons more things to learn.
  3. Priorities have sorted themselves out in a very nice way. I know who and what is important to me. I know why I work so hard and what I hope to change. I know what I can disregard and why some things don’t matter.
  4. I care little about what people think of me. I care more about what people think of themselves, what they think of the world, and what they plan to do about it all.
  5. Countless sweet memories. Any time I get overwhelmed, I only have to pull out a fantastic memory that makes me smile.
  6. Never bored. It’s easier to see patterns and how the world connects through space and time. Everyone and everything is fascinating. And I don’t have time to waste if I want to see and do all the things on my lists. I want to do everything I can, while I can.
  7. Happy. I let me really be happy about things that really matter to me. I don’t want to hold in my happy. Life can carry some very terrible things, but it also carries so many terrific things. I have so much to be Grateful for!

And when I was looking for ways to still matter, to still make a difference while healing, I found this article by Eric Barker.

New Neuroscience Reveals 5 Rituals That Will Make Your Life Awesome

After telling a long and beautiful love story, Eric gives us the rituals that will make our life awesome.

The Secret Sauce is GRACE:

  • Gratitude: Think of how life could be worse. Be happy those things are not real. Appreciate the good things that are real. Now breathe a sigh of relief.
  • Reciprocity: I’ll say something nice to that stranger next time I’m at Starbucks if you do the same. Deal?
  • Altruism: Volunteer. Offer your knowledge or expertise to help someone. Think of it like bragging except instead of being a jerk you’ll be an awesome person.
  • Choice: You can choose to do something different. Or you can choose to see things differently. You have a choice. (Yes, you do. Don’t make me come down there. I will fight you right now.)
  • Enjoyment: Go have fun. If you don’t you will become your own worst-case scenario. And share the good times with others.”

In light of Eric’s recommendation to Volunteer, I tried to figure out what I could do from home. I’ve volunteered with several organizations over the years, but I didn’t think to look for volunteering opportunities online.

I typed my quandary into a search engine and Presto! Lots of lists appeared with online volunteering opportunities. I was so thankful. I’ve enclosed a link to one lovely long list. Being the old-fashioned grandma that I am, I think it’s better if you can get out and actually be with people, hear their story, empathize on a real human level. Empathy seems a lost art as of late. But if we can’t get out there, we can find ways to do something from where we are.

REMOTE VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: 53 EASY WAYS TO VOLUNTEER FROM HOME

If you’re looking for meaningful yet easy ways to volunteer from home, then you’ll love this list of opportunities for remote volunteers.”

—-

Another great reminder is – we have a choice. We don’t have to stay in our fears. We can choose to do something different. This was my saving GRACE today.

Thank-you to everyone who helped me see things in a new way. I’d send you all a basket of flowers if I could.

~Dream, Believe, Achieve~

Once Upon a Time I Visited Buckingham Palace

Queen Elizabeth is celebrating her Platinum Jubilee, 70 years of being a ruler. The Queen, 96, succeeded to the throne at the age of 25 upon the death of her father, King George VI, on February 6, 1952.

I tuned in and watched the flypast by the Royal Air Force. Lines of helicopters, World War II-era Spitfires and high-tech jets flew low and loud. There was the display of red, white and blue vapor trails. Fighter jets spelled out a large “70” for the Queen’s 70 years on the throne. Little Prince Louis stole the show chatting to his great granny, waving to planes, and covering his ears during the loud flyby event.

Way back in 2015, I visited Buckingham Palace. The Queen was in residence, as evidenced by the Royal Standard flag flying on the roof. The Royal Standard flag is different, more intricately designed than the Union Jack. The Royal Standard is divided into four quadrants, colors are red, gold, and blue, with various images. The Union Jack is red, white, and blue which are shaped like a cross with an X in the background. 

A lovely guide took us to the Palace to watch the Changing of the Guard. This event is free to the public, no ticket or reservation needed.

But you must get there early, because it does get crowded. Our guide took us very early, and told us to get up close to the fence and grab hold. People did crowd us and squeezed quite close.

The Changing of the Guard happens often. This website gives more information for the dates and times; https://changing-guard.com/dates-buckingham-palace.html  If you want to know more, click on the little black box in the upper right hand corner of the site.

The event usually begins at 11:00 am and lasts about 45 minutes.

The Victoria Memorial at Buckingham Palace, with spectators watching the Changing of the Guard.

The Queen Victoria Memorial is located in front of Buckingham Palace and comprises the Dominion Gates (Canada Gate, Australia Gate and South and West Africa Gates), the Memorial Gardens and a vast central monument commemorating the death of Queen Victoria in 1901.

The monument is 25 metres high and uses 2,300 tonnes of white Carrara marble. As well as Victoria, there are statues representing courage, constancy, victory, charity, truth and motherhood.”

https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/st-jamess-park/things-to-see-and-do/monuments-fountains-and-statues/the-queen-victoria-memorial


It was a lovely inspiring event to witness. Like many people around the world, I love the Queen. I think her stamina to continue being ‘The Face’ of her country is admirable. I’m impressed with her ability to maintain a sense of dignity, unlike many other leaders around the world. Of course, there are many unjust issues concerning royalty – racism, equality, gender, social, economic, etc… Those are issues the entire world needs to repair, and that repair begins with dignified leadership.

~Dream, Believe, Achieve~

There’s Clearly More To Be Done

I haven’t done anything awesome with my life. I mean I haven’t done anything really awesome in the world-changing way I dreamed of when I was a kid.

I see amazing people doing amazing things. And my deepest wish is that I could do something amazing too.

I watch as they keep going strong, despite politics, war, health problems, or other difficult life issues.

There are kind and thoughtful people speaking up, changing the world, and making it better for everyone.

There are humans taking action, choosing to clean and care for their little section of the earth, inspiring others to do the same.

There are sweet children who donate their very last dime to a good cause, and gather huge swaths of the community to join them.

I want to do something that really helps make life awesome for the untold number of souls who are struggling in this world. But my thick skull won’t point me in the right direction. All I have is this huge wish, but I don’t have the skills or money to make it come alive. I don’t even know exactly what I want to do, or who I can help.

I look around me and see so many people in poverty and lack. So many people are hurting, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have no idea what I can possibly do about that.

What I wouldn’t give to have the ability to stop school massacres! My God, can you believe this keeps happening?!!

What I wouldn’t give to be able to stop poverty, starvation, violence, inequality, cancer, and all chronic, deadly diseases.

 “Lord, tell me you feel my pain.” ~Blu Cantrell

What I wouldn’t give to be able to fill the world with Equality, Love, Happiness, Kindness, Health, Wisdom, Bravery, Truth, Innovation, Ingenuity, Creativity, Heroism, Compassionate Competition…

I feel like I’m trapped in a straight jacket, all I want to do is explode out into the world with huge actions.

I have so much left to do, and to figure out how to do it. I haven’t done anything yet.

Life has been dizzily whirling me around on a giant dance-floor, and the entire time I’ve fought to take the lead and choose the music. Rarely have I won this dance battle.

Sure, I crawled out of deep poverty, the kind of poverty where I was filling out welfare forms for my family to eat, since I was 9 years old. I’ve worked a crap-ton of jobs, 23 jobs, a number that tries to make me feel ashamed as if I was a job-hopper, when instead I’m a survivor. I dragged my exhausted self through college, received a BS in Education and added three minor areas of study, while being on the Dean’s List and receiving scholarships. And I’ve worked in my chosen college career fields, maybe not to the capacity or the length I’d hoped. But I was so happy to get the jobs and make the effort to do my best. I’ve volunteered in organizations with people who’ve suffered unspeakable atrocities. I’m always looking around to see what I can offer.

And as I look, I notice how much more needs to be done.

There is clearly much left to be done, and whatever else we are going to do, we had better get on with it.” ~Rosalynn Carter

It feels like I’m taking one of those important tests, one that decides the rest of my life. Suddenly time’s up, put your pencil down. I’m feeling panicky. I don’t have all the answers filled out.

Time is feeling ‘short’. I’ve been slowly (too slowly) healing from multiple health issues over the last few months. I’m suffering cabin fever, going stir crazy with all the rest required to heal. Maybe I have too much time on my hands to think?

Maybe I expect too much: from God, the Universe, humans, myself…

But sometimes I think others expect too little, especially in terms of leadership, progress, and improvement:

  • Good leaders – bring people together. They listen without getting mired in endless circles. They don’t waste time playing ‘who can say the dumbest or meanest thing’. They focus on facts, solutions, and common ground. They create practical goals that can be attained. They reach out and get to know a wide range of people across many spectrums. They believe the best in humanity, and that is who they talk to during every meeting or speech. They ignore the name-calling, bullying, and fit-throwing of tyrants; these things Do Not Matter. My country currently feels like it’s gone insane and developed a split personality. We can’t seem to find a good solution to anything because we’d rather fight to the death.
  • Pipelines, coal mines, slashing, and burning do not make our planet better. One can see from space how the human race has changed the Earth. If we don’t take care of our planet, we will have nowhere to live. If we don’t know what to do, ask a child, they’re doing more than most adults.
  • Everyone should have equal access to education, food, health-care, and a home. Everyone should have equal opportunities to work at whatever career they want. Everyone should be working to the best of their ability. Get everyone to work, in an environment that they can safely handle! For those of us currently in no position to physically work, we sure as heck can spend our time cheering on everyone else, while making plans to do the very best of our ability.
  • Ignoring our hurting children and families does not create good cohesive communities. We need to listen, to protect, to inspire people to reach their greatest potential. Instead, we tell children to be quiet and believe whatever the latest raging dictator says while using twisted language. When we should be telling them to think good and decent thoughts for themselves, and do good and decent things. We pitifully tell them there’s nothing we can do to help people who are starving or dying in violence. And we might even hint that the people suffering deserve to suffer – it’s just their lot in life, or maybe they made bad choices that led them to these consequences. These are terrible excuses to not get involved.

I’d love to see more: Equality, Love, Happiness, Kindness, Health, Wisdom, Bravery, Truth, Innovation, Ingenuity, Creativity, Heroism, Compassionate Competition

And I’d love to see so much more from myself.

Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” ~Ella Fitzgerald

Sunset on the Mackinac Bridge, Michigan

~Dream, Believe, Achieve~

Hope

While I rarely tune into any news programs lately, I’m certainly glad I stopped to listen to this story on CBS’s 60 Minutes.

Many excerpts from the online story are presented below, and I added some bold highlights to pertinent points. This story takes place at inner city high schools but there’s no reason it couldn’t take place in any community anywhere in the world.

The entire world deserves a healthier, smarter, more hopeful future!

——-

Hope Chicago: Charity sending students from Chicago high schools to college for free

“You have to admire the ambition of an inner-city high school that calls itself Johnson College Prep. Especially when a third of the students have no permanent home and many dodge violence just to get to class. But the students in this Chicago public school believe in their name. They’ve done the work. They’ve been accepted to college. Trouble is, few have the money to go. Johnson College Prep needed something like a miracle. And we were there when the miracle called Hope Chicago arrived.”

Here’s an introduction to one of the students:

Ajani Cunningham: Because I am in a 1,000 programs all at once including ROTC, debate, I have honors and AP classes. I’ve taken college courses. So, I’m just trying to do the most that I can to make college the least expensive.”

And another student:

Kavarrion Newson’s hopes lean on faith. He told us that’s how he endured being raised by his grandmother who was drug addicted at the time. Kavarrion Newson: I have so much faith in God. It’s like, I’m not even gonna worry about money. Anything I’ve ever put in God’s hands, it never failed. So, I know he’ll come through. I know it, for a fact.”

——

Principal Jonas Cleaves: “You know, we have students who are doing construction, working in warehouses– working the night shift, getting off at 6:00 a.m. and coming to school.”

——

Pete Kadens at assembly: You are going to walk out of here forever changed today and that is because if you are a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior, at Johnson College Prep, your college tuition, your room and board, your books and fees will be paid for. You will go to college for free!

I can only imagine how deliriously happy I would’ve felt if I had been in the assembly during this announcement. I wouldn’t have had to postpone college to get jobs hoping to save enough money. I wouldn’t have had to work three jobs during college to survive. I could’ve actually spent more time studying instead of cramming all night. I’m so excited for all of these kids!!:

Pete Kadens: We will end up funding about 30,000 individuals to go to college or trade school in the city of Chicago.

Scott Pelley: Over what period of time?

Pete Kadens: Over the next decade. That makes this the largest scholarship program in the country.”

——

But in the assembly, there was more. Just when a better day couldn’t be any better, Janice Jackson took the stage. The former CEO of Chicago Public Schools is the new head of Hope Chicago.

Janice Jackson at assembly: Pete left one important part out. Parents, guess what, you’re going back to school too.

Hope Chicago is sending a parent or guardian from each family to college. For Ajani Cunningham’s mother, incomprehension was finally broken by the memories of her dreams deferred.

Yolanda White: We have always had a too-close relationship with poverty and lack.

Once homeless, Yolanda White, a single mother, cleared a path for five children — two through college already.

Yolanda White: And I’ve taken all the hits so now they can go and, you know, understand that I’ve been the shield. And they can be free to do what they want to do with their lives.”

Yolanda White has a mother’s heart I can relate to. I took a lot of hits to crawl out of poverty, so my child could have a better future. I hope I did enough right things, so my grandbabies can have a good future too.

——

More snippets from the story:

Janice Jackson: …. So, I think when you strengthen the family, you strengthen whole communities. And ultimately, we’re going to make our country stronger…. And I may be biased but I do believe education is the single most powerful way to disrupt generational poverty. It is. …

Pete Kadens: These students need life skills training. They need mentorship. They need financial literacy. They need guidance counseling and curriculum advice. … But here’s what we know, Scott. If we educate our families, we’ll resolve a lot of the violence issues. We’ll start to put pharmacies and office buildings and grocery stores into these communities. And so, yeah, we may be crazy. But this is an economic development investment as much as it is an educational investment. And we have to do it. … I think many communities around this country can have hope. Why can’t there be Hope Peoria, and Hope Indianapolis and Hope Charlotte? I’d love to see other philanthropists in other communities take up this endeavor and own it.

Calling all billionaires. Calling all corporations. What we’re doin’ here is action. We want our corporations, our foundations to join us in this action.”

——

I love this story! I wonder, what can I do to offer this kind of future to others who are willing to work so hard? I’m not a millionaire or billionaire, but there must be something I can do to help change the course of young lives for the better. What can I do to be part of this kind of Hope?

A sign on my wall, serves as a good reminder.

~Dream, Believe, Achieve~

Fun Friday Project – Notebooks, Paris, and Picture Formatting

I adore beautiful notebooks and journals.

I find it so difficult to pass up leather-bound or brain-stirring journals, such as Sir Isaac Newton’s ‘Gravity’ cover. My greatest wish is to write the most world-changing words ever written in each of these journals.

Who can pass up anything with the gorgeousness of Paris on the cover? Not me.

Some notebooks and journals stoke my sense of superheroism, rebellion, and adventurous nature.

And sometimes we just need gentle reminders to keep going, loving, and enjoying life.

In our house, you’ll find many old, partially-used classroom notebooks. I look for ways to pretty them up and reuse them. For this experimental project, I took an old college notebook and decorated the cover with an old Paris calendar photo and added a few accents.

After taking a picture, I used the Picture Format feature in Microsoft Word Documents, to alter the look of the original photo.

Items:

  • Old partially-used college notebook
  • Old Paris Calendar photo
  • Glue Gun
  • Old Lace
  • Butterfly from an old card
  • Old Golden Paper Doilies
  • Glitter
My Work Station

Original Photo of finished product

Next: Add a few Picture Format changes for comparison.  


Turn up the Brightness by 40% and the Contrast by 40%

400% Color Saturation

Sepia

Artistic Effects – Glow Edges

Blue Accent – Dark

There are tons more curious options when it comes to using Picture Format in Microsoft. I’m not a photographer, I’m more of a lover of written words. In this present day – so much is communicated by images. It was fun for me to attempt a bit of self-guided learning about how images can be manipulated to evoke certain emotions.

It’s interesting how the Formatting changed the image and the ‘feeling’. Each photo could lend itself to a fascinating ‘story’.

~Dream, Believe, Achieve~

Stream of Consciousness Saturday – Hat

Even though I don’t participate in group blogging activities, sometimes a topic kindles a joy I can’t help writing about. I follow the blog, “Anything is Possible! With Love, Hope, and Perseverance”; and today’s topic caught my eye – Hats.

Thanks for sparking a fun memory.

My favorite hat is my Northpoint Aviation hat. I won it in a “Name The Plane” contest.

About 8(ish?) years ago, I was reading our local airport’s lovely newsletter. At the end of the newsletter was a picture of a plane, with no other identifying information. Whoever could correctly identify the plane in the photo won a prize. I don’t recall a lot of the details now; I think I emailed in the correct name of the plane. It seemed I didn’t hear anything for a while, so I thought maybe I guessed wrong. (The name of the plane was a Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket.) At a later date, the airport emailed me to let me know I was the winner of the Fall Name the Plane Contest. The prize was waiting for me at the airport.

It was this fantastic hat!

Here’s a photo of the hat, near other airplane mementos. I have a tiny obsession with planes – especially the P-51 Mustang.

The map on the wall is from our visit to EAA AirVentures in OshKosh, Wisconsin. (I also have a tiny obsession with maps.) EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is an annual air show and gathering of aviation enthusiasts.

We went to the EAA show one year and I was able to wear my Prize.

Snapshot of me, my Prized hat, and my favorite plane – The Rebel, a P-51 Mustang.

Fun Times!

P.S. I tend to use hat and cap interchangeably. I don’t have enough hats or caps to be a connoisseur.

Mothers

This year was the first Mother’s Day I had without my mom. Fortunately, I have many wonderful women in my life to wish a Happy Mother’s Day. My mother died between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year, after having Covid which exasperated her COPD. Mother’s Day was May 8 in the United States. It was a dreary, cloudy, rainy day in our neighborhood (and I became ill). I’m still working through all the challenges the day presented, and looking forward to more peace and good health.

Mother/Child relationships can be complicated. I’ve known people who loved and adored their mother so much, they were best friends. To have a mother who took good care of you, who always steered you in the right direction, who lifted you up when the world tried to drag you down; that was the kind of mom I wanted to be.

Trying to honor mom on Mother’s Day was a compunction – she didn’t like cards, flowers, spas, jewelry, perfume, going out to eat, or having all her kids visit her at the same time, or many of the things we thought she might like. Yet, if we didn’t make some effort to celebrate, she would not be happy. It was weird to not feel the pressure to make her happy this year. It’s even weirder to wonder how much effort we should put forth to make other people happy. I’ve heard it be said, ‘you can’t make anyone else happy’. But when we see people’s eyes light up because of something we said or did, or because we showed up, it indicates we have some effect on other people’s happiness. I think there’s a healthy line, somewhere, on what we can and can’t do to make others happy.

I wondered what kind of mother my mom had when she was a child. I met my mom’s mom a handful of times, and always felt the tension. She rarely talked about her parents.

When Mother’s Day comes around, I also think of my son, my one and only child, whom I love more than my very own life. And I wonder; what does Mother’s Day mean to him? I’m curious to know; was I the kind of mother he needed? I nurtured him in the type of home I wish I would’ve grown up in; with love, stability, hard-work, happiness, learning, freedom, lots of encouragement, lots of activities… But what if he needed something different?

He was a great kid, smart, kind, funny, and so much fun! He always had ‘great ideas’. He was our world, our life, our meaning for everything. Our reason to be the best people we could be. For him, we wanted the best, most amazing world possible.

This was our favorite book when he was a little boy: “LOVE YOU FOREVER” by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw. We read it so many times. Now I feel like our lives are closer to the end of the story, than the beginning, and I’m feeling a little sad about how fast our story zoomed by.

He’s a grown man now.

One day on his way home from work, he had a terrible life-threatening accident. He nearly died. He has a Titanium leg. I nearly lost my only child. I can’t even tell you… I can’t even finish that sentence because my chest might cave in. He suffered so much. The frustration and helplessness I felt, I’ll probably never get over. I had no idea what to do. Aren’t Mothers supposed to be able to fix everything? Nothing in my life, in my education, in my careers, nothing prepared me for this. I called for help from several places. We always hear about those places that help people through trauma and pain. But those places wouldn’t listen to me, to us, to our story. They dismissed us because we ‘weren’t broken enough’. We are enduring, conquering, and managing anyway.

I love all my grandbabies so dearly. I think of them all the time, I hold them in my heart so closely, I’m almost sure they know I love them every single second of the day. I’m pretty certain Grandma Love transcends all Space and Time.

It’s so hard not to want to wrap them all up in a cocoon and never let any harm touch them. But I learned that no matter how much I love someone, I can’t protect them from the unexpected things that can happen. And again, I wonder how much can I do to keep them safe? Where is the line between wrapping them in a cocoon, and Laissez-faire (hands-off) grandparenting? There must be a healthy line, somewhere, but I think it moves?

An angel my mom painted for the grandchildren’s fairy garden.

I wonder what Mother’s Day means for my grandbabies. Our families aren’t the “perfect family” society tells us we’re supposed to have if we want to be successful. Religious people often tell us what a family should look like. However, Jesus didn’t come from a “perfect family”. According to the Bible, Jesus had a mother who was not impregnated the normal human way. He had 2 dads – one was his stepdad, and the other was not visibly present. He had half-siblings, but no ‘real’ siblings. You can see how hard it is to describe Jesus’ family to young children asking; who was his mom and dad, who were his brothers and sisters, who were his grandparents…? Society has tricked us all into believing there’s such a thing as a “perfect family” in size, shape, color, religion, financial status…. I’ve never met a “perfect family”.

The important point I’m trying to make is: no matter their family history, poverty level, or any other ‘condescending label’ that might be forced onto them, a good, successful life is there for my grandbabies to choose. No matter what anyone else says.

I know my value. Anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.” ~ Agent Peggy Carter

There are some conflictions ahead they won’t be prepared for. There are problems, issues, and situations, they won’t have the skill-set or tools to handle. I hope they are brave enough to ask for help when they need it. I hope they never let these unanticipated circumstances stop them from moving forward.

We all must keep going, because the good times, the happy memories, the biggest joys; far outweigh the bad. The world is filled with good news, good people, peace, hope, and happiness. Love, Joy, Beauty, Kindness, Goodness happens every day.

We need to play, learn, build, design, create, invent, investigate, bond, share, to laugh until our bellies hurt. These things help us through the hard parts of life.

**And if we’re smart, we’ll befriend the people who bring out the best in us. We’ll be sure to bring out the best in others.**

We’ll keep making good plans and keep moving forward. We can work at a peaceful pace and get a lot done. We don’t have to race around frenzied and panicked.

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” ~ Earl Nightingale

Make a plan, and if that plan falls through make another one, and keep making plans. Keep doing the best right thing, even if the efforts seem discouragingly tiny.

The Real Powers we have; as a Mother, as a Father, as a Human; is to do our best, and make the best of it all.

With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” ~Dalai Lama

~Dream, Believe, Achieve~