I was thinking about my grandmother this morning and I started smiling. I laughed out loud as I remembered some of the experiences shared which did not seem significant when I was a child, but are important now. The many acts of love displayed by my paternal grandmother remain with me years after the fact. Just thinking of them makes me feel the love even though my grandmother is no longer alive.

We, the grandchildren referred to our grandmother as Mother Zelma. My grandfather, who we referred to as Papa, called her “Saffire,” because as he would tell us “she is one sassy woman.” For the longest I did not know whether that was meant as a positive or a negative attribute to her being. I would watch the energy exchanged between them when he would call her “Saffire,” instead of Zelma. Often it was done to annoy or tease her. I would see the fire in her eyes and the expression on her face as she looked at Papa as he attempted to provoke her. Most of the time she would ignore him and keep doing whatever she was doing. The other times, she would retort back with something smart that would have everyone amused. We, the grandchildren would be giggling at the exchange, even though half of the comments went over our head just because of our young age. We knew, whatever it meant, it was funny and came from a heartfelt place. It was times like this that I could view Mother Zelma as someone other than my grandmother. She was a vulnerable yet strong independent woman.

Mother Zelma was structured and regimented about everything in her life, except her grandchildren. I believe we allowed her and maybe taught her how to play. She admitted she never had much time to play when she was a child. Mother Zelma did not talk about her youth much but I do remember her sharing with me how hard life had been when she was young.

I know for sure that we, her grandchildren played a significant role in her ability to open her guarded life. Children have a way of unarming even the most guarded people due to their natural tendency toward innocence and acceptance. Mother Zelma, as I mentioned was structured and that meant everything in her life was neat and orderly to a fault. She was always cleaning and the house, although I never saw the house dirty or out of place, except when we, her grandchildren came to visit which we did at least once a week.

Every Sunday after church we would stop by her house and enter with toys, books, crayons and lots of noise, ready to play. I am sure she prayed extra those days for patience as we ran through the house, around the house and in the house as children do. Exploring everything and anything we could get into. From the second she opened the front door to her home to let us in, our being there transformed what had been a quiet atmosphere to a boisterous “function at the junction.” When the noise got to be a bit much Mother Zelma would have us sit and do quiet things. We hated those moments and thank goodness, they did not last too long.

One of my favorite pastimes was to play grownup. I would strut around the house in a pair of her high heels and sometimes she would allow me to wear her cherry red lipstick. I would then go through her clothes looking for something pretty and not matronly. Eventually I would work my way to her prized cedar chest (which I now own.) The chest was filled with beautiful things she never used or wore. I would pull them out one by one and ooh and ah over them. She never wore the clothes she put away in her cedar chest, so every now and then I would ask her if I could have whatever would catch my eye that day. Mother Zelma would just smile as usually tell me no I could have what was in the chest. She would softly tell me that one day I would have my own chest of dreams. Sometimes she would tell me that one day she would use these things she loved and had in many cases worked hard to acquire. She was just waiting for the right time or the right opportunity to do so.

My grandmother never used anything in that cedar chest which was full of dreams and things she had collected throughout her years. I think she surprised herself in the fact that could acquire things she never thought she could. But she was determined and she did acquire some lovely things, that were once a dream and to them safe she tucked them away, never to be used by her. I remember the many conversations we would have as I rambled through her treasures. She would sometimes share dreams she had when she was my age. At first, I was surprised that she, my grandmother had dreams that had nothing to do with the life she now lived. Those moments allowed me to see her in an exciting different light then how I had always seen her. She was more than just a grandmother, she was grand as a person

Looking back, I am grateful to have known her as a woman as well as a grandmother. It allows me to better understand the woman I am in all the roles I play in life. Her disappointments and lack of perceived and real opportunities prevented her from stepping fully into what she already had hidden away.

I was in my 20’s when she told me on one of my visits that I could have her chest and everything in it that I wanted. I was honored and speechless by her gift. What I understand now is what she did not see for herself, she somehow saw in me. I must admit in my journey, at one point I almost forgot I had dreams. One day circumstance allowed me to see that now was the time to open my chest and reveal all my hidden treasures. The bounty of gifts that are a part of me that I was born to share.

All of us have gifts that we must not keep hidden away. “Saffire” taught me so much and gave me even more. “Saffire,” Mother Zelma, my grandmother taught me that my dreams are worth exposing and using. They do no good hidden away. We must all remember that you live your dreams by sharing your dreams. Dream on!

Always,

Regina Gale

regina-gale-authorMarch is Women’s Month. Much of the accolades go to names of women who have recognition due to celebrity, civic or professional status. This is good. All women should be recognized for the outstanding accomplishments the have made as women. Many times in the past, numbers of women have not received credit for the contributions they have made, sometimes at great sacrifice to themselves.

I was fortunate to kick off the month with a poetry reading where I emphasized that it was Women’s Month. Women need women in their lives almost as much as they need water to drink so that they stay hydrated and refreshed.

Personally, I think that the most important women that each of us should celebrate are the ones that have touched our lives intimately. The women who have poured knowledge into us. The women who always give us hope and a bit of understanding when we needed it most. The women who have shown as through example how one survives the trials one may face in life. The women who were, and are willing and ready to hold your hand when lonely and confused. The women who pushed you forward and gave you the type of support that led you to knock down a barrier that had been holding you back. The women who celebrate you as a woman.

All women have been touched by someone. Sometimes we can’t see the importance of the interaction until many years later. I’d like to share a relationship that started in 1985 that I still cherish today.

In 1985, I got married and moved to Newark, California. This was the first time in my life that I would live somewhere that I had no family or ties to anyone except the man I was to marry. My aunt reached out to a woman she had met at a Teachers convention years before and they exchanged Christmas cards over the years. They were both educators. She called Jean, who lived in Newark and asked her to “watch over my child.” My aunt was like a second mother to me, and I am so grateful that she cared enough to reach out for me.

About a month after I had made the move to Northern California, my doorbell rang. I opened the door and was greeted graciously and lovingly by this little woman so full of energy. She told me that Aunt Verna had called her and sent her to me. She came prepared. I could not help but notice that she had placed bags and boxes of goodies and material on my doorstep, as I helped bring in the unknown treasures. We sat down for tea (she loves a good cup of tea) and she gave me her heart. That was the beginning of our relationship which has blossomed over 32 years

Jean is one of the strongest most interesting women I know. Her life not always easy, but she always made it work. Jean has a way of bringing out the best in those around her and has a giving spirit. Just the mention of her name be it from a past student, a local politician or one of the many people involved in civic and social organizations will let you know she is a gift to the community of mankind.

My blessing was the fact her bond with another woman, my aunt, allowed me to establish a relationship that I consider as close as family, and is as precious as if it were a blood relationship. I remember going over her house through the years and she would have pictures of my child on the mantle along with her grandchildren. I became her surrogate child.

My mother, my aunt and so many of the women who were my “sheroes” and life teachers and supporters are gone. It has been 32 years since Jean “came a calling” and is still in my life although I now reside in North Carolina. We have a bond of love and respect that will never be broken.

I encourage you to let the women in your life know how they contribute to your life while you can. Women need women and although we should celebrate that every day, we all understand that life keeps us rather busy so at once a year in March we should take a pause and make a list of those who have touched our lives.

Always in love,

Regina Gale

With February being the month of love I would like to express some loving thoughts that come from my heart. Being a “romantic type” the idea of love has always held a magical place in my life starting from the time I was very young.

Reading fairy tales that had a prince rescuing the lovely maiden, whisking her off and the two of them living happily ever after was how I wanted love to be for me. In my early relationships that was what I thought I was searching for. I was caught up in the feeling of love, not having a true understanding of what makes a love a true love.

True love is not about a feeling…it is about commitment. Commitment to yourself and to those you love. Love has been studied extensively and has been conveniently broken down into four categories.

“Agape Love” is unconditional love. The Thayer Lexicon description of agape says “to take pleasure in the thing, prize it above all other things, be unwilling to abandon it or do without it.” It is a mature sacrificial love easily recognized by example as one parents possess for their children. Loving someone as they are, perfectly imperfect.

“Philia” is an affectionate and warm relationship, a friendship. This love stems from personal inclinations, shared interest and ideas. It is sometimes referred to as brotherly love.

“Storge” is family and community love. It is a love that displays a physical and demonstrative show of affection.

“Eros”
is a physical romantic love. It is a state of the heart that leads to deep intimacy in a relationship.

The best and most complete descriptions I know of love states, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” This passage can be found in the Bible. I Corinthians 13: 4-7.

Imagine what our love life would be if we consciously showed love as it should be, deliberate and purposeful. The richness of our relationships would be so great with our friends, families and soul mates. Love always leads to love.

In my quest to have loving relationships on every level I recognize that I must be committed to the intention of that from myself. I also reap the reward of having so much more love to give. In love, the more love you give, the more love you have to give. The love well never runs dry.

The hiccups will be the fact that everyone is not open to receive love easily or comfortably. Although each baby is born with the natural ability to love and be loved, when acts that are not loving are the examples modeled in life one can become jaded in love. Some become afraid to love.

The thought of loving and not being loved back can indeed be scary. The best one can do is use discernment and decide if you are being treated in a loving manner. Every person must pay attention to how another person treats you. Are they kind, are they patient, do they encourage you, are they truthful to you?

Love is a spiritual personal emotion and sometimes the spirits may not connect but our loving nature should always be present. When it is, you will be able to see the seeds of love that have been planted blossom into a beautiful thing. Spring is right around the corner.

Always, Regina Gale

What I love about entering a new year, especially this year of 2017 is the feeling of a renewed energy. The sense that one can start again. When I say start again, I don’t necessarily mean start all over again, I mean you and I can pause and do an assessment of ourselves. We can review our lives and see what is working and what is not working and consciously begin to implement changes that will make this new year, 2017, our year.

When we intentionally focus on improving an area of our life that means something to us, the quality of our lives improves. At times, we get caught up with just living and doing. Being busy, we often forget to evaluate what we are creating with the choices we are making. The choices that we make are the ones that ensure our ability to experience great relationships. Doors will open to fulfilling opportunities, quality of time spent with friends and family will increase, examples of how to go about creating happy lives will be modeled to children. Meaningful things happen when we act with intention.

I openly share with you my choice and decision to pick a word that would embody the spirit and actions I am committing to this year. My word for 2017 is “LOVE.” I cannot think of any other word that means as much to me at this stage in my life. In fact, it has always been an important part of my life although I have not always been intentional in how it manifested in my life.

Love and participating in things I love makes me feel good. It puts me in a place of joy and I miraculously find I have more than enough joy to share with others when love is leading the way. That joy tends to have positive effects on others, many far removed from me. It is so easy to share kind words, smile as others pass by, stop to help someone who needs a hand, make a quick phone call to say to an acquaintance who could become a friend. Love and what flows from actions of love are so powerful yet so simple to share.

After I picked the word “LOVE” I happened to find a beautifully framed picture that had the

quote “Let all that you do be done in LOVE.” What a potent idea. It is on my wall so I can see it every morning before I begin my day.

As I sit here writing about living life from a perspective of love with intention in 2017, a song from my childhood keeps running through my head. The Beatles, one of the most popular groups in the world in the 1060’s (yes I am old school) had a song called “All You Need Is Love” also known as “Love, Love, Love.” The Lyrics are simple but powerful. John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote this song after a request was made for a song that would be understood by people of all nations. The song was played for the first time in the first Worldwide TV special in 1967, called “Our World.” This song reflected the thoughts and hopes of the youth at the time.

Today, this song still seems to reflect a desire for many people, young and old.

What if “we the people” lived intentionally in love with love in our hearts? Perhaps empathy would be present when facing individuals outside our immediate circle of family and friends. Perhaps “we as people” would be more inclined to care about the health and welfare of all the people. Perhaps we would fight to make sure everyone is treated fairly and with dignity. Perhaps we would all be happier, because we each would have more love in our hearts to give away. Love, love, love…all we need is love. Enjoy the lyrics to this song.

Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.
Nothing you can say, but you can learn
How to play the game
It’s easy.
Nothing you can make that can’t be made.
No one you can save that can’t be saved.
Nothing you can do, but you can learn
How to be you in time
It’s easy.

All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.
Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.

There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known.
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where
You’re meant to be
It’s easy.

All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.
All you need is love. (All together now).
All you need is love. (Everybody).
All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.
Love is all you need.
Love is all you need.

With the chill in the air and the possibility of snow and maybe even ice this season, it serves as a prelude to our anticipation of a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This is the season for warm and generous hearts. A season where one’s well-being will of interest to others and perhaps open the door to extend some joy.

For me, this time of year serves as a reminder of some of the most magical moments, opportunities and memories in my life.  Events that happened as a child remain fresh in my mind. These memories will be with me forever.

I grew up in El Paso, Texas where every year, a huge Christmas Star would light up Mount Franklin. It was a beautiful and magnificent site…especially to a child. This star could be seen 100 miles away in the air. Depending where you lived in the city, most could see it just by walking out of their front door and casting their eyes in the direction of the mountains at night.

I remember being 10 years old, getting in the car for a family outing. We were going to go look at the beautifully decorated houses all over the city. Daddy surprised us by driving “the kids” to Mount Franklin so we could get as close as possible to this huge star that we would look at every night. Talk about a magical moment. Even as an adult when I would return to Texas for the holidays, my heart would begin to race as we neared El Paso in the airplane. I would sit in anticipation for that moment when I would catch that first glimpse of that magical star illuminating the dark night. I would become so very excited. I would know then that I was almost home and the festivities of the family holiday would be on.

The opportunities to share and care for others was magnified at Christmas. My mother seemed to be baking all the time, she was a fantastic cook. Mom would make pans of homemade cinnamon rolls, loaves of her special “melt in your mouth, pass me another” bread and rolls, sweet potato pies and the best tea cakes you ever tasted.

Our job, the children, “her elves” would be to hand deliver the packages on the doorsteps to friends, acquaintances and those who may not have. The gratitude we received from the recipients was by far the best gift one could be given. They joy of seeing people’s faces light up when they received one of mom’s homemade gifts baked with love. Little did I know then, that for some that was the only gift they may receive during the holiday season. It felt good to fed the heart with food.

Along the way, we, the elves, her children had other opportunities to serve. We were always encouraged or volunteered to participate in the Christmas Program(s) at church, singing, reciting poetry and even acting in the “Christmas Play.” We would even go “a wassailing,” singing Christmas songs from house to house in the neighborhood…in the cold, bundled up, spreading joy, knowing that when we got home, mom would have hot chocolate with marshmallows and lots of cookies for anyone who showed up.

These memories are so very sweet, but the fondest memories I have are the times we spent together making decorations and gifts for each other.  Once the Christmas tree was in the house, the popping of lots of popcorn would begin. Alongside my brothers and sisters, we would make strings of popcorn to go on the tree…although we seemed to eat as much popcorn as we would string. When we were finished with that task, we would begin to make popcorn balls. My mother would make the candy coating and caramel for the popcorn and pour into various huge bowls filled with popcorn. We had to form the balls quickly before the candy coating hardened. It became a game to see who could make the roundest balls the fastest. We would enjoy eating the popcorn balls throughout the holidays. For many years this was an ongoing tradition.

We were encouraged to consider making gifts as well as purchase them. Mom said gifts should always be personal and meaningful. I still have a quilt she made me so many years ago. I also “believe” I am the only one she shared one of her secret recipes with. Priceless memories.  

I remember a holiday in my early 20’s when I was strapped for cash so I had to be creative in my giving. I gave my brother-in-law Chuck an IOU for a year supply of homemade cookies. Once a month I delivered a freshly made batch of cookies to him. I would get joy from his just being excited to see what kind of cookies they would be each month I delivered them. I remember good I felt when he told me that this monthly delivery of homemade cookies was one of the best gifts he ever got…my sister, his wife also agreed as she nibbled on a cookie. Good memories that will last forever.

As I sit here writing I realize that most of the Moments, Opportunities and Memories were instigated by my mother…mom. Mom had such a great influence on me and so many others. As a mom, I too, much like you tried to give my child moments, opportunities and memories that will serve him when he is as old and older than I am now.

As you reflect on your past holiday experiences, it will be marked with your own moments, opportunities and memories. Full of love.

When I moved to Hillsborough in 2010 I had no idea what a wonderful community I was moving into. In fact, being from another state I had never heard of Hillsborough, North Carolina. As I searched Durham County and Orange County for the ideal community in which I would call home, Hillsborough won me over. In fact, before I even saw the house I would call home I felt like this was the place I was supposed to be.

My initial impression was the hometown feel Hillsborough radiates.  The vibe felt right to me. I remember driving through downtown Hillsborough and just enjoying the ride, it was peaceful and pleasant. It of reminded me of “The Andy Griffith Show” and” Mayberry R.F. D” which were two of my favorite shows when I was very young.  I was thrilled the first time I walked around taking time to discover local businesses such as “Purple Crow Books” “Dual Supply Co” and a “Cup-A-Joe” along with the many outstanding restaurants that give Hillsborough its unique flavor.

I believe the biggest thrill for me was to find out that there are places I can buy freshly laid eggs, should I want to. It reminded me of some fond times when I was a child. My grandmother had chickens in her back yard when I was young. Whenever I would spend the night at her house, I could not wait till early morning when I would excitedly to go to the chicken coop and help collect freshly laid eggs. A few of the chickens always produced eggs with double yolks. I still get excited whenever I get an egg that happens to have a double yolk. Who would have thought just buying a fresh egg would illicit such fond memories.

The greatest surprise came when I found out that Hillsborough is known as a creative hot spot and treasure in North Carolina. Once I began to hear and read about Hillsborough’s history, I found that this small community is rich artist, musicians and authors. I swear it must be something in the air because I have found that even my own creativity has evolved to a new dimension since I have lived here. I was personally thrilled to meet and chat with our own Anna Jean Mayhew, who wrote a fabulous book titled “The Dry Grass of August.”

In the summertime “Last Fridays” is  fun time to our community. I still remember one night where the band music was so good that it seemed like everyone was dancing and singing nonstop until the last song was played. The streets were jam packed, but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.  Every age group was represented. What I remember most was the harmony of a community that was in sync with one another. It felt good.

I would be negligent if I did not mention that sometimes strange incidents do occur in Hillsborough. One morning I was driving to town down one of our many two lane roads. There was an unusual number of cars creeping along in front of me. It reminded me of being stuck on a freeway in a large city where it is bumper to bumper traffic. This traffic backup was quite unusual, so I looked as far ahead as I could to determine what was going on. I noticed that there was a tractor about 12 cars in front of me. I know that tractors do not move that fast and this one was probably going at top speed, which could not have been more than 20 miles per hour. It was funny to me and I patiently creeped down the road.

When I finally arrived at the Village Diner for a Toastmaster meeting I began sharing this recent road experience with the members. All of a sudden everyone started smiling, then laughing and began pointing to the window which was behind me. Confused, I wondered what I had said that would cause this reaction. I turned and looked out the window and a tractor had just pulled into the parking lot, parked and the driver hopped off to come into the diner for lunch. Now that was funny. Only in Hillsborough will I ever see this.

I like this quaint little town and I am thankful for all the wonderful people that make up Hillsborough. To me Hillsborough is a piece of heaven where calm and neighborly familiarity is very much the norm.

Have a wonderful day!

Regina Gale is a Author, Poet and Speaker   She currently serves as Director of Communications for the Friends of  North Carolina Public Libraries. Her book titled “Sometimes He Buys Me Grapes” has just been released. It is “A Memoir” about the song and dance of a woman’s life. You can contact Regina Gale at www.reginagale.com.

Eighteen years old is the magic age for most teenagers. It is the moment that they have been waiting for. As parents, there are adjustments that must be made even if they continue to depend on you financially. Therefore, having a conversation with your child about the following three topics is really important.

  1. Medical issues are private between your child and their practitioner. At eighteen, you are no longer the legal representative unless the child grants you that right. Under the 2010 U.S. Health Reform Act, your child can continue to be covered under your insurance policy until the age of twenty-six.
  2. Finances are a private matter unless you have a joint account with your child. No bank or college will give you any information regarding your child’s private account unless you have been granted this privilege in writing. Bottom line, make sure your child understands that the money
    tree has limits and they need to know how to work within the established limits.
  3. Grades and Academic records are also private. It does not matter if you are paying the bills. You will not have access to your child’s grades.

Don’t fret because you wanted an independent child. With your support, they are well on their way.

I have been blessed to have girlfriends that were as close to me as I was to my natural sisters throughout the years. Some of these remarkable women are older than me and have been able to provide nurturing, wisdom and real friendships that are based on love and appreciation. Many of the girlfriends that are closer to my age have experienced some of life’s happiness and disappointments with me. These moments allow us to forge a bond that only time and experience can give.

No matter what, all of the women that I consider my girlfriends are loved with a pure feeling of sisterly love. We are connected in life for life.

Your own experience with your sister-girlfriends are probably not much different than mine. You probably relish in the fact that you can just connect with each other seamlessly even when you have not been in touch for a while.

Call your sister-girlfriend and let her know how special she is.

You may have thought that you would get our home back once your child has reached the age of eighteen. Except, we all know that’s a joke. Somehow, your grown child is back (if they even left) and they are living at home happily with very few responsibilities. Yes, they even follow “some” of your rules (if it is convenient). On occasion, your grown child let’s you cook, clean up behind them and even borrow money for things they need or really want.

Yes, the economy has been bad. Yes, the job market has not been great.

As a loving parent, you do not want your child to become irresponsible. While they are young and flexible enough to adjust to life’s challenges, let them go. You have guided and prepared them to be on their own. You did it, and they can too.

You will not always be around. Your grown child has to grow up and be responsible for their own welfare. It is better that they do it while you can offer loving advice, than for them to need advice and not have anyone who loves them as you do to provide it.

They will appreciate it (if not now, then later). So if you love them, get them the hell out of your house, as soon as possible.

My mother was a fantastic cook. In fact, I thought everyone ate like we did. Homemade bread, fresh enchiladas, great soups, and Sundays feast for family and friends were always part of the menu. Pineapple cakes where half had coconut and the other half did not were also available to suit individual’s personal preferences. On the weekends, there would be mornings where my mother would ask us what we wanted for breakfast and she may get five different request. Yet, all our wishes were there when we sat down at the table. You talk about happy kids.

Homemade food, made from love. In my mind, I can still smell the bread in the oven. I am so glad that memories are forever.

“We do not remember days; we remember moments.”
– Cesare Pavese