a side of sweet potatoes, ah autumn, breath of joy, Nancy Ceyters

Sweet Potato Harvest of Laughter

Nancy Ceyters

As hard as it is to wave goodbye to summer, I find myself once again greeting fall with a hearty hello.

There’s something about that time between air conditioning and heat; the lower electric bill coupled with crisp nights brings on some good sleeping. The darker mornings and earlier sunsets force us to be the light as we get out of bed to savor the three month transition to winter.

For some, fall’s glory is celebrated in corn mazes and caterpillars, raking more and mowing less; for others, it’s the ginger beer and sweatshirts, football games and pumpkin spice lattes. Still others embrace the fall by stirring hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick, while riding atop a wagon of hay.

When I welcome fall, I reminisce the harvest, especially the autumn harvest of 2012.

For years, the entire back yard was converted to several large summer gardens and, come autumn, a few fall gardens as well. The entire process from turning over the land in the spring to yielding the harvest throughout the fall and into the winter brought hours of joy and pounds of produce to record in my garden ledger.

The first year I planted sweet potatoes, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I opted to start small until I knew they would be a success, so I planted just a few slips. From what I had read, I expected about six to eight sweet potatoes from each plant. Of course I had no idea what if anything was going on underground all spring and summer. Neither did I know when the potatoes were ready for digging.

Photo Credit: Jerenita Leavy

In October of 2012, my friend Kathy Joy was visiting for the weekend. We had a full schedule between a trip to our favorite Delaware beach, a guest pass for a Combat class at the gym, an event at the homestead where I volunteered as a docent, and a dinner and music night with my parents who were coming in from out of town. Knowing that Kathy’s late husband Roger was a farmer after retiring from the police force, and a farmer before they married, I felt that I needed Kathy by my side as I dug through the earth.

We had to fit this into our schedule somehow. Besides, how long could it take to dig up a few potatoes? We’d dig and then cook dinner.

If there were no sweet potatoes, Kathy would be there to console me. If there were six to eight per plant, we could celebrate together, eating sweet potatoes for supper and sending some home. I read that a pitch fork—rather than a shovel—is needed to avoid breaking or bruising the tubes. That was one garden tool lacking in my shed.

Breaking the earth gently with a shovel, I then dug nervously with gloved hands, not wanting to hurt what little produce might be underground. Every other scoop I turned to Kathy for the go-ahead to dig deeper. And then there was a tint of orange!

One potato, two potato, three potato, more! With each potato, came a squeal, and the count continued. Kathy! There are more over here. And over here! And over here! Even when we thought we were done, we found more, far from where the few slips were planted.

Seventy-one potato, seventy-two potato, seventy-three potato, more!

As the sun began to set and the cool of a fall breeze blew our hair, a train of sweet potatoes tracked the benches of a 22 foot square deck. From big-as-our-faces-enormous, to medium, to small-as-a-fist, we were overwhelmed with potatoes. A few were bruised by the excitement of the digging and the harvest, but not enough to have to toss them. Even after we finished digging, I wondered if there were more out there that we missed.

With several large buckets full of sweet potatoes, and a search for more containers, we had enough root vegetables to last a number of households the winter.  We laughed and counted, counted and laughed, well past the dinner hour. We’d have potatoes for a bedtime snack.

Spring and summer, hidden from view, potatoes were growing like crazy. From a little, came a lot. The element of surprise, the beauty of the root vegetables, and sharing the moment with a friend who celebrated with me made the harvest of 2012 the sweetest ever.

I didn’t grow sweet potatoes again after that, wanting this memory to be the one I cherished and celebrated when waving goodbye to summers and greeting falls with a hearty hello.

– Nance Ceyters

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Splashing In the Mysteries of Water

By, Kathy Joy, author

In this season of limited restaurant outings, my family and friends are happily opting into beach picnics on the peninsula.

The lake beckons and our sunset suppers are a highlight of summer 2020.

These water encounters are full of life and laughter; no matter how old or young we are, the urge to squeal with delight is irresistible.

A page from Simply Summer: Breath of Joy coffee table book

The other night I met up with my daughter, who has an unmistakable kinship with All Things Water. She snaps pictures of sunsets, scours the beach for bits of smoothed glass, and runs to the waves for all the splashes, all the water therapy she can absorb.

Her red hair in the glow of a Lake Erie sunset is a work of art, and can never really be captured in a photo.

After a beach picnic of turkey sandwiches and fresh fruit, we kicked off our flip flops and headed for the surf – which that night was full of kick and sass.
The waves were rolling in high and splashy.

The break-walls in the distance were pushing back towers of froth and spray.

I carry this memory like a tall glass of pure hydration: every sip replenishes and renews.
Water is a living, dynamic being – just like us.

A scientist-writer wrote a book, “Secret of Water – A Language of Life”. In the book, the late Masaru Emoto claims water has memory. He says water can be influenced by positive words and form beautiful crystals.

This one has allegedly responded to the words “love” and “gratitude”.
The researcher says water also responds to music in the form of these exquisite hexagonal shapes.

On the flip side, less vibrant, or “dead” water, does not form hexagonal shapes; rather, its image appears flat and unremarkable.

Some might call these ideas bogus, an extreme hoax; even pseudo-science.
No matter where faith and science might overlap, water is pretty amazing.
Water is pretty amazing.

We can all agree it’s important for life.

We, like the surface of the earth, are least 70 percent water.
An adult should drink at least 2.5 liters of water every day to sustain normal life functions. Another 1.5 liters is absorbed through the skin during bathing or showering.
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle

It is also absorbed from standing in the rain!

Pretty much every living thing depends on the abundance of water.

Can water drops retain memory?

I don’t know.

Personally, I defer to the Creator for the mysteries of water.

To me it’s no secret water is life-giving, that it cleanses bodies, refreshes the earth and draws us to the shore for our own rejuvenation.

Test the waters, and see for yourself.

Kathy Joy writes for The Daily Jab, for Books for Bonding Hearts, and for her own blog, Coffee with Kathy. You can transition directly from ordinary to extraordinary with her Breath of Joy seasonal coffee table books. Find out more! Sign up here for inspiring posts from this author! She is available for speaking engagements geared to your needs.

Learn about Kathy Joy’s inspirational gift books on this site.

A page from Simply Summer: Breath of Joy coffee table book
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Rolling Forward

By wordsmith Kathy Joy

A page from Simply Summer, a Breath of Joy

 

A quote is hanging in the office of a colleague at my place of work: a building that, due to circumstances, is currently inhabited by a small percentage of our workforce.

This common quote is something a wise driving coach or a life coach might say.

“Even though there are days I wish I could change some things that happened in the past, there’s a reason the rear view mirror is so small and the windshield is so big. Where you’re headed is much more important than what you’ve left behind.”

Anonymous

The majority of my workmates are putting in their time remotely, sometimes passing through the building briefly to touch base, retrieve something, or peer curiously back into a world we evacuated in 2020. The rearview mirror seems so small, but the effects of yesterday have changed our courses.

How prophetic, then, as we drive forward into an uncertain future, to think of the windshield as our point of reference: Where we are headed is far more important than what we’ve left behind. Even this gradual return to “normal” will not look like the “old normal” we once knew.

The band, Pearljam, made their song, Rearview Mirror, popular by not delicately expressing the problems with seeing something vividly once and then having a hard time letting it go in order to move ahead.

That rearview mirror? It’s a handy reference tool, and we can check to see who’s following us into the unknown.

  • Good company or bad, we can keep an eye on them.
  • Look through that big windshield for the great things that await.
  • We’re getting some new dreams and goals to replace the old.
  • Let’s hang on and enjoy the ride.

Finally, whatever regrets or chaos you’ve found in the rearview mirror holding your attention, or slowing you down … let that stuff go. Keep driving forward into the next Great Adventure.

A page from Simply Summer, a Breath of Joy
Kathy Joy, Author of the Breath of Joy calendarial gift books

Kathy Joy writes daily for her local county government, is an experienced and popular radio DJ, and is also a guest blogger for Books For Bonding Hearts See more on her personal blog, Coffee with Kathy. She is available for speaking engagements and holiday events. Book Kathy Joy!

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Repeating Life

By Wordsmith, Kathy Joy

I don’t know why I get this in my inbox, the “wacky, bizarre and unique holidays” calendar. I don’t know from whence it come, touting some mundane calendrical events, most days, comical.

For instance, in June there is a – “Repeat Day”. Repeat Day? The idea of it reminds me of the movie, Groundhog Day. Have you seen it?

I wonder if the calendrical messages are phishing, selling, or spying on my latest horse racing bets, but I enjoy these prompts for writing, and so I don’t complain. I’m somewhat of a human calendarist myself. I’ve been given the task of writing calendaric inspirations for my associates at work now sequestered at home.

A financial coach, Lauren Rilling, enjoys a synesthetic experience with calendars. Synesthesia is where your brain mixes two senses together. You’re seeing music and hearing something visual. There are lots of types of synesthesia. She says, “For me, I see time in my mind’s eye–almost like having a calendar in my head of how the days of the week, months of the year, even years and decades are arranged.” I’m sure that helps her tremendously with her client coaching goals.

For the rest of us, any day, including the June Repeat Day, is a good day to remember the importance of repeating life-giving phrases to each other, and to ourselves too.

Like washing your hands and face, brightening your mind to the unique purpose of why you have landed on this day in this place will start out a seemingly repetitive day better.

WHAT YOU TELL YOURSELF

Repeating your purpose for being where you are can make all the difference in the color, texture, and music of your day. See your hands? They are working through the everyday stitches of life as though they are stitching a warm sweater, a scarf, or a wall tapestry. See your feet repeating the same steps in similar spirals around work? As you look down at your feet, what you tell yourself can be more important than the feedback you receive from others.

If you believe you add value to your world, you will be happier – and it’s more likely that after all, you will do amazing things.

Doing good things bolsters your belief in purpose and the spiral of life will turn upward.

However, if you spend most of your time being an Eeyore, you won’t feel fulfilled. It’s as simple as that, and the repetition will become less synthesized with purpose and more and more of a puzzle of missing pieces to you and to everyone around you.

REMIND YOURSELF ALOUD

“Wash your hands” is society’s repetitive mantra these days. Who knew that would become a thing? Yes, go to the bathroom sink, wash your hands, but, also look in the mirror. I think we might take this idea of repetitive cleansing to a new level.

Today may not be one of those days in which you feel either necessary or essential. Want to wash those feelings away? In the routine, you may feel silly — depending on who is in the room – but saying these personal phrases aloud really helps to center yourself in how and why you are needed:

If You Don’t Like The Story You Are Telling Yourself, Tell Yourself a Different Story – Matthew Kent
  • in what you do,
  • how you think,
  • how you relate,
  • why you were hired
  • how your priorities are needed,
  • the things you offer to others in your way

Making the effort to say these things aloud can lather up and rinse away the doubt. It’s almost like you need to hear these reminders, but you are no longer a child. No-one wants to wash your hands for you. You can’t rely on anyone else to say these things consistently to you.

This is true whether you live alone, work alone, live with a crowd, and work in a factory.

REMEMBER THE WONDER OF THOSE WHO LOVE YOU

It can help to remind yourself–out loud–that you have people who care about you. Pick a person each day to say a mental thank you to for being “your person” when you needed one.

It also helps to think back to a time when you really leaned on friends and family or felt strongly connected to a community. Isn’t it happening again, sometimes under-the radar during our New Normal? Certain relationships are being given priority to lift each other up as “necessary”, “essential”.

Yes, in the repeat of the ordinary and mundane, it’s up to you to synthesize your life.

Be your own best repetition coach. Try repeating these statements out loud each day; tape them to your bathroom mirror, if necessary.

1. “My time is important.”

Let’s be real: managing our time off-site is challenging and comes with unique situations depending on the day. Your contribution to the agency is unique and important. Honor your own needs to match the day by planning your list and prioritizing it. Reward yourself along the way. Small rewards can boost your energy for all the challenges you face today; things like taking a walk, calling a friend, honoring your breaks and lunch, and keeping a stash of really good chocolate nearby.

2. “I’m uniquely gifted for this set of tasks.”

You are valued and you were hired because of your skillset. You have your own brand of approaching the tasks at hand. No one else has quite your blend of personality, education, training, problem-solving or perseverance. Avoid the trap of thinking you duplicate what someone else is doing. Remind yourself on a daily basis how your influence matters because it can only come from you.

3. “I’m not alone.”

You have a team around you, even now – when your team may not be gathered in one physical space. It’s easy to feel like the walls of isolation are closing in. They’re not.

Remember: Repetition and structures have purposes in your life and are for your good. Lather, Rinse, REPEAT. Observing the habits of cleaning your hands, face, and mind for each calendar day will launch you upward and onward in your own special way!

Kathy Joy, Author of the Breath of Joy calendarial gift books

Kathy Joy Hoffner writes these Lunch Jabs for her co-workers at the bequest of her superiors. She is an author at Capture Books and is considered a wordsmith for life.

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Fireflies

By Wordsmith Kathy Joy

Photo by Sabine Berzina on Unsplash and Instagram

Every summer, the woods and fields of Pennsylvania light up in a symphony of fireflies.
From the summer solstice into the second week of July, the twinkly wonders commandeer the forest for mating.

Our very own Allegheny National Forest is one of only a few places in the US where you can view the Synchronous Firefly; the other regions are the forests of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and Congaree National Park in South Carolina.
“Synchronous” refers to a rare phenomenon: the tiny bugs flash patterns in sync with each other. It’s like a string of Christmas lights hanging in the forest.

During normal summers, you grab a lawn chair and a cooler and head to the Tionesta Creek for Nature’s Light Display. You’ll need a jacket for the cool of the evening, and some marshmallows for toasting.
But not this year …

This year, because of COVID-19, the activities are restricted. You can watch the 8th Annual PA Firefly Festival on a virtual stay-at-home online link here:

http://pafireflyfestival.blogspot.com/

Andrew Bui@andrewbui on Unsplash

Despite regulations, the lightning bugs will show up in wild, spectacular abandon.
Their light show is a whimsical mystery — and we can all use a little whimsy sometimes.

Recently I wrote a piece remembering a stand-up guy who died suddenly, 2 years ago.
I hesitated to publish it, protesting to another that I only knew Ron for a short time. 
“But you’ve known Grief for a long time,” came the reply.
With that authority, I wrote the piece.

The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge once described friendship as “a sheltering tree.” What a fitting description of camaraderie at work: the shelter of a tree suggests the ease and familiarity of being around a person who provides leafy green wonderment. Ron Klonicki was just such an individual in our midst.

Today marks the second year since he was so suddenly and unexpectedly silenced by a faltering heart. We lost him on June 2, 2018. Ron died on a Saturday. That following Monday, we came into work and felt a jolt of shock and unbelief. It was hard to fathom, as Ron was something of a fixture on the 4th Floor, his office a friendly landmark as you passed through on the way to the conference room. Many in the MH/ID Department carry fond memories of Ron, a good-hearted, dependable, solid person. You could count on Ron to lend his expertise, tell a story, share his culinary skills and readily identify all kinds of flowers.

Ron was a Program Director for 30 years in MH/ID. His unflagging advocacy for persons with special needs, is still sending ripples into the community. Without fanfare, Ron showed us all how it’s done – he was fully immersed in meaningful work, while at the same time remaining engaging, relatable and terribly funny.

Ron’s legacy is his laughter – he was particularly good at recalling whimsical stories of his many travelling adventures with Carol, his wife. One of my favorite memories of Ron is the day he showed me how to download and use the phone app, “My Talking Pet”. When he showed me videos of his dog, “Jasmine,” talking in Ron’s own sped-up voice, it was hilarious.

For a quick minute I almost forgot he was a high-ranking administrator; we were just two people laughing at a video of a talking Chihuahua. Whimsically, Ron was never much for hierarchy or status. He made you feel welcomed in and valued your input. Just like a tree in the robust month of June has deep roots, wide branches, and full leaves, Ron provided lots and lots of shade for anyone in his realm of influence.

In the sparks of light emanating from Ron’s openness and curiosity, one can’t help but wonder what he’d think of the strange world we find ourselves in these days: re-emerging from “The Covid Spring” and stepping backward into an echo of civil unrest. Knowing Ron, he’d probably just roll up his sleeves and see to the next individual in need of housing or mental health services. He’d bring flowers to the office, and vegetables from the garden. In the shade of his big-hearted friendship, we’d share a moment of light and peace.

Fireflies are everywhere in June, in certain regions of the country. Not everyone gets this blessing, I am reminded by my jealous editor. Not everyone knew Ron either. Maybe this is why June’s unexpected symphonies of light are synchronous with heartfelt memories of special times and special people. I’m enjoying the unexpected and so grateful for a whimsical favor of these things offered to me right now.

Kathy Joy is making her co-workers happy with daily lunch jabs. She is also a favored speaker, editor and author with Capture Books. Find her seasonal Breath of Joy coffee table books on Amazon. But, don’t buy a knock off, cheaper version. Get the quality original.



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