Living A Life Of Purpose

Living A Life Of Purpose


When  my children were growing up our house was home to a myriad cache of animals, four- legged and otherwise. I think the only creatures my salary was not feeding were those without legs and crawled on their bellies.

Dogs, cats, water fowl, rabbits, gerbils, turtles and birds, both wild and caged, were given TLC and a haven in our home. After a long day at work, I was never sure to whom or what I would be feeding and giving a forever home when I opened our front door, kicked off my high heels and threw the keys on the entry table.

I admit, my three children and I are all animal lovers. My daughters drooled ‘dog’ and ‘horse’ when letting their parents know they were getting the hang of expressing themselves as humans, but honestly, I point my now over-fifty finger at my middle child, Alison, for the menagerie on Ballinswood Road. Her first word relating to a four-legged creature (that should have been a red flag for sure) was an omen that her family then and now would have to accept her compassion for animals big and small.

Today, five decades later, Alison is still caring and giving shelter to rescue animals on her 75 acre thoroughbred farm, Tower Hill Farm, near Lexington in Paris, Kentucky. It’s a family affair – the three of them working as a team, she and her children giving a home to retired race horses, fostering dogs through the local humane programs and caring for and nurturing their own horses and pets.

A single parent of two active teens with a full-time job, I touch base with Alison daily on my iPhone, finding her most often in the barn late at night caring for the horses after a long day at work, followed by chauffeuring her children to and from their sporting activities. The phrase ‘a farmers work is never done, from sun to sun’ rings true for my daughter. Her passion for animals and caring for abandoned creatures sets her above and beyond most. Out of her own pocket she has been funding this humanitarian cause for years, because it is what she was called to do.
Veterinarian, farrier fees, feed, hay and other related expenses for these rescues are all a part of Alison’s humanitarian efforts to save these beautiful animals from the reality of being sold off at auction for slaughter to meat/dog food industries, or sold to medical industries for experimentation.

With all of the chaos and hate around us in the world that is out of our control, I would like to see something positive happen that IS within our grasp right here. Right now. I have set up a
GoFundMe account to help these animals in need and to assist Alison in proving a safe haven for others as well as these horses and foster dogs in need of a deserved forever home.

If we can assist Alison by raising at least $2,500 for hay for the rescue horses it would be a great support for these beautiful animals who don’t deserve to be cast aside.

Thanks ever so much

Sandra Hart
Hay For Horses Go Fund Me Account won’t you please donate now.

Sweet Dreams Alice


As we spend time on this planet we all have ties. Strings to people that have crossed our paths in various chapters of our lives who are extremely important to us. To our memories. Each one of those important strings to a life, to my life, to yours, that has been knit from birth until now. Unexpected feelings of camaraderie to perfect strangers has always been such a mystery to me. Why some people cross your path and you immediately feel a bond, a sisterhood with them. Deep friendships are a very rare and cherished thing, aren’t they. I probably, in my lifetime, can count on one hand the true deep girlfriend relationships I have had in my life. 

The unfortunate twist and irony of it all is that sometimes we don’t realize how important these threads are in our past until the comfort begins to unravel. Today has been such a day for me.

 

I met Alice on my first day at the Barbizon Hotel for Women in New York where we both were staying while we went to school. She lived on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and I was from an industrial town on the Ohio River. Our backgrounds couldn’t have been more dissimilar. Her brother was in Princeton and mine at Cincinnati University. Her father lunched at The Brown Derby and my father took his to work with him. In spite of our different beginnings, Alice and I quickly bonded. How could you not like her. She was pretty, sweet and always had a smile and a good word for everyone. 

After we each graduated from school she went back to the West Coast and wound up in San Francisco and I stayed in New York for a while and eventually when I got married settled in Pittsburgh. But throughout the years we’ve always kept in touch talking about our boyfriends, then husbands, then our children.

Throughout the years on holidays we exchanged cards and wrote from time to time, but our relationship was forged even greater when we both found a renewed closeness on Facebook. It was like having coffee with Alice every morning when I logged onto Facebook and became a part of her life once again.

Well, this morning we lost Alice and I lost one of my forever-for-life friends. Alice always was the cheerful one-always the positive one. She told me a few months ago that she was not afraid of dying. She said she just felt sad for those that she was leaving behind. She would be going on to something better. That was Alice. Cheerful and positive to the end, or maybe as she believed to the beginning.

Alice was one of those last threads to my earlier chapters and I will miss her dearly. But one of the many things about knowing Alice has taught me is don’t be afraid to live every moment of your life while you’re here. Live it with kindness. Live it with compassion. Live it with faith.

We all will miss you dear Alice. Sweet dreams my good friend.
Copyright Sandra Hart 2016

THANK YOU FACEBOOK

  

( Recent events have reminded me how important family is. I am also reminded of how special extended family can be, cousins especially. One of my second cousins, Nyna Giles, is writing a memoir about her mother*, my first cousin Carolyn, and another second cousin, Kacy Ferrar, recently posted the picture above on Facebook. Both of these have taken me back to my own memories of my cousins and Grandma’s house. I dedicate this to all of them.)

            

  

My mother grew up with nine brothers and sisters. As a result of that reality my brother and I inherited 18 first cousins on the maternal side.

The best part of that is we were born with friends. Every holiday or special occasion we would pile into grandma’s dining room with us cousins sometimes overflowing into the kitchen. None of us jitterbugs ever minded being set up at the long table covered with oil cloth because it meant we were out from under our parents noses. 

Pigtails could be pulled, unwanted food easily gotten rid of by a quick shove onto someone else’s plate and kicks under the table couldn’t be reprimanded.  

All of us flying in and out around that farm house like wild honey bees during those gatherings, the joy we all felt as children, as cousins, of just being, escaped us. We thought it would last forever. Of course, it didn’t. 

As I have written about so often, soon after the war prosperity was beginning to bloom and most of my aunts and uncles moved to various parts of the state and country where they could find work. Thus the fracturing of the close knit family began and my loving ties to my cousins unraveled.

My mother, though,  remained very close to her four sisters and brother who lived nearby. They were the threads that kept us cousins connected as we grew up and went our own way as adults, leaving behind fading memories of Grandma’s kitchen and a life that would never again be. We were never to be together again in that utopian state. Nor were we to know then that the only gatherings later on where some of us could reacquaint ourselves would be when we were grieving the loss of one of our own.
  

Christmas cards would be exchanged by a few of us throughout the years, but basically I would say most of us lost touch for many years. Everyone seemed busy with their own lives, their own children in their own dining rooms and kitchens during the years. Looking back, I realize it was such a loss of time for all of us. 

   
 
Perhaps the longest relationship as a young adult for me would’ve been with my older cousin Carolyn in New York. Carolyn was like me more than any of my other cousins.  Most of them were just happy to get married, have children and work at what they liked. I was different.   I had been born with big dreams. I couldn’t help it. It just was. Dreams of something beyond my existence in the small industrial town where I lived.

 My cousin Carolyn, when I was still young, was able to fly away and realize her dreams. She was our family’s shining star. She was the one who had made it. It was Carolyn. She was the hand that was there to pull me out and inspire me to not be afraid of wanting more. Unfortunately, as the cruelty of life sometimes reveals itself, throughout the years, circumstantially, no one was there with an understanding hand for her. 

I guess the point of all this retrospective and what inspired this blog is that through Facebook I have been able to connect with so many members of my extended family that throughout the years I have lost. My cousins, second cousins, maternal cousin’s, fraternal cousins are back. We’re not sitting in the kitchen at Grandma’s table in Ohio, but we are connected and we are back as an extended family. For that I am most grateful. Thank you Facebook. 

Copyright© Sandra Hart 2016. All Rights Reserved

* The Bridesmaid’s Daughter, Nyna Giles (coming 2017/18)

Throwback Thursday

  
Every successful musician has a history and usually that history is made up of important people who have helped inspire, shape and teach techniques that natural talents will eventually shape and mold into their own unique musical voice. 

When Emerson was about 10 years old he had such a teacher. I don’t know exactly the history of how they discovered him, but my parents found a young man in Steubenville, Ohio who was giving guitar instructions. That is when Pandel Collaros came into our lives.

I personally have never met Pandel and I don’t know what kind of student Emerson was, or just how long he took lessons, but this young man, Pandel, gave him a start by teaching him the basics of playing a guitar. 

It was wasn’t until I started the Emerson Hart and Tonic News Facebook page that I began thinking about all of the people who were responsible for helping Emerson along the way. That included Pandel. Curious as to what happened to this young man, I searched the Internet and finally found him thirty-five years after those first guitar lessons. And I was not surprised that Pandel has done very well for himself, too. He has not abandoned his love for teaching, nor his music.

Pandel is now a musician and Assistant Professor of music at Bethany College in West Virginia. He teaches music theory, aural skills, audio recording, and popular style guitar music, both acoustic and electric. He is also the founder and director of the Bethany College Rock Ensemble and performs frequently in a variety of area venues.
 

Pandel is a member of the Emerson Hart and Tonic News page. I hope to eventually meet the man who gave my son his first guitar lessons. On this Throwback Thursday I want to thank him for sharing his love of music and great teaching skills, not only to young musicians as Emerson, but to the many students at Bethany College who he has inspired by his love of music and to let him know it’s good to play it forward. As a musician one doesn’t have to be a platinum awarded artist for your life to have meaning. His life has mattered.   His life has mattered. 

Copyright Sandra Hart©. All Rights Reserved

Eliminate The Negative

  
This weekend I asked myself with all the negativity in the world assaulting us from every electronic and wireless gadget attached to our digits, or in front of our faces, what should I blog about this week? What should I tell people to help them to reduce their stress? What can I do to relieve some of my stress? 

 My reply in my own head to myself was to stop – put down my iPhone and turn off the television. Now that’s cheeky advice I thought, knowing how I have been Mrs. News Junkie personified most of my life. How personally I react to everything that’s going on in the world from war to kidnapping to the stock market falling precipitously, ISIS murders and child-abuse. Never ending gloom. And the politicians on both sides! Heaven help us.

Of course a forever withdraw from the worst in the world is not practical, but it sure wouldn’t hurt for a few days, or even a week. Wasn’t it Deepak Chopra who said the same thing? The peace of mind I would have not being bombarded with negative and horrific news about the grand transgressions of the human race every waking moment of my day. It would be refreshing.  

 Most of us are sponges that can’t help but absorb negative energy when we feel the stress of a world that seems to have gone all wrong. I think today I’m going to take my own advice and see how I feel in a few days. 

If you are up to a challenge, come along with me to the land of ‘political and world news’ free. 

Let’s spend our time counting our blessings, walking in the woods, hugging our children and sitting surrounded by nature reading a good book in hand. Add a layer of background music that makes us remember how lucky we are to be in the here and now. “Actuate the positive, eliminate the negative…”

Copyright by Sandra Hart. All Rights Reserved.

  

Twitter 🚫

“You’re a mean man, Mr. Grinch!” said Dr. Seuss. I believe if Twitter had been around in the days of Mr. Grinch he would’ve been brought to his knees by Twitter feed. 
Full disclosure. I have a Twitter account. I basically just post my blog there and I don’t interact very often by tweeting with people that I’m supposed to be following. But the other day I became more aware of Twitter after Bobby Jendel the governor of Louisiana put his hat in the ring for the Republican primary candidacy. All of the sudden the Twitter feed blue up with #bobbyjindalissowhite tweets that showed up on my Facebook page because a successful Indian actor friend of mine was more or less keeping the mean spirited tweet thread alive. Really mean tweets. It seemed that each tweet was trying to top the other one with ridiculous hate and bullying. It really took my breath away. Wow! 
Where was all of this expressed hate coming from, I wondered? Have I been hiding under a rock all this time missing the spew that is flowing through tweets? Tweeting has become mother bird sticking her bill down our throats and regurgitating everything. 
 I’m Internet savvy but I wasn’t prepared for this. What has happened to us a supposed civilized society. Where is all of this hate coming from on Twitter. 
It was not only the tweets about Bobby Jendal not being Indian enough, that was just the beginning…..as my Twitter investigation ‘tweaked’ I moved on to other threads of tweets. So many tweet threads were caustic and mean spirited. Politicians, celebrities, news organizations, no one one was immune.  
Growing up I remember my father constantly telling my brother and I that if we couldn’t say something nice about someone, or to someone, don’t say anything. Once the words are out there, they never can be taken back. You can say you are sorry a million times and have regrets about things said in haste, but the reality of the life of hateful words never dies once they leave you. 
The worst reality of the hateful tweets is that our thoughts are now not just one-on-one, they are thrown into the Twitter universe forever and take on a life of their own. It is also a sad reality that my grandchildren are growing up with the rest of us adults that are in danger of being desensitized to this hate atmosphere that is quickly becoming the new normal. Whatever users are thinking is twittered without filters or sensitivity to the receiver’s feelings. 
So many things in the world seem to be going askew today, away from the cultural mores of the past and I can’t say I see any of these trends being positive. True I am an advocate for social networking, surely I use several platforms a lot. But I think we should all swallow our tweets if we have nothing positive to say when adding to the Twitter feed. As I see it, Twitter is in danger of becoming a comfortable bully pulpit for some who enjoy spewing hate speech. We just might be tweeting down a very slippery slope.
Copyright Sandra Hart. All rights reserved.

Facebook – Today’s Diary

As a young girl each Christmas I would find  a new diary with its own lock and small key in my stocking. This is how girls of my era would secretly put their most intimate thoughts at the end of each day, that lock assuring none of our nibby siblings could peek into our treasured observations and dreams.  It was a way of unloading our thoughts, hurts, wishes, joys and disappointments within the privacy of our bedrooms.  In retrospect a very healthy method of emotional release for most of us young girls trying to cope with our lives while growing up and facing life as it was opening to us. We could bare our most secret thoughts and desires without outside judgement. 

My faithful diary postings subconsciously were the beginning of my love for writing and putting my thoughts and feelings into words, never thinking that someday I would be sharing those feelings with anyone other than myself and my diary.  

Well I grew up and had a life. A life that was interesting, unexpected and one that I eventually would feel compelled to share beyond my diary and onto the printed page, then through blogging and eventually, Heaven Help Me, Facebook.
Initially, my teenage grandson friended me, but quickly ‘de-friended’ me when he realized I could see everything that he was posting with his friends on Facebook.  Undeterred, I marched on connecting with family and friends I hadn’t seen in years and joyfully making new friendships with those who entered my life through my blogging.  
Facebook has become my ‘life over 50’ diary.  My life is no longer a series of cursive pages. It is now filled with finger typing and 🙂 faces and anything but private revelations.  As addicted as I was as a young girl to my diary with its lock and key, keeping the world out of my thoughts, I am now addicted to Facebook without emotional locks and sharing my open life on a daily basis with those that matter to me, my Facebook Friends and Family.
Funny how life turns out isn’t it?
PS. My grandson at 21 has just ‘re-friended’ me.
Copyright Sandra Hart 2015. All Rights Reserved.