Saturday, August 24, 2013

How It Feels to Be Here

I realized something when I was talking with Lea the other day. The fabulous Lea as you know from recent blog posts co-facilitates our weekly storytelling sessions with me now and will serve as the lead facilitator once my baby arrives :) She is also my co-author for Best Day’s long awaited Facilitator Training Guide*. We were talking about what goes through my head when I am with our senior buds in class and when I write you all on this blog right here.

I realized that being at the class and vs. here at the blog stretches my emotions to opposite extremes. When I am facilitating and hanging with my buds, I feel pumped and on fire; when I am here blogging and reflecting, I feel calm and at peace. And the million of emotions between fire and peace, those I get to tap into when I look into different seniors’ stories – there’s always a story for every mood that I need.

I got thinking… there’s living by going through the motions, and then there’s being truly alive by being able to feel human. And that’s not just one feeling but a million mixed emotions. As the original facilitator and blogger for Best Day, I get to experience the full spectrum of that. I can’t tell you how lucky and grateful it feels to be “here” with you at Best Day in all its physical and digital forms.

* The Best Day team is currently selecting individuals and venues to receive advance copies of our Facilitator Training Guide, so you too can start a group in your neighborhood, and experience firsthand how wonderful it feels to be a facilitator and blogger. I am living proof – not only will you change seniors’ and younger listeners’ lives, your life will dramatically improve too. Email us at or Facebook message us to find out more!

Norman Cain
The Best Day Of My Life So Far Website

This week I spent some time looking at the Best Day of My Life (So Far) website and was surprised to learn that I have been attending the class for 2 ¼ years. Time really flies. Everyone in the group was represented with pictures…individual and groups…in the videos…and, of course, with true life stories. The Best Day Of My Life (So Far) website is a beautiful and spiritual creation that represents the love of our group and it will be in the technological sphere forever.

Henrietta Faust
Thank You to the www

I must say thank you to the
www, for being a way that I can
Use to heal myself, a way that I
Can meditate, a place I can turn to,
A way to be human.
I say thank you www because I
Can go back to each frozen
Place-in-my-past, and with
God’s help, unfreeze each trauma
Each trauma that I could not
Deal with in the moment, because
I was busy surviving – I was too busy
Keeping a job in a world that said “No”.
The World Wide Web said, “Yes to all,” and “If you
Have it, bring it”. For that I
Thank the www. You who level all
Playing fields. With you the fear factor
Is gone. Thank you www for access to
Information. Are you reading me?
Then blog me back. Now healing starts

Loretta Gaither
Our Website

I enjoyed seeing our class’ website last week.  My stories were read out loud. It made me feel good because other people could hear about my thoughts through my writing.  I liked seeing all of our photos on “Facebook” because they help me remember the good times in class.  It was nice to see our happy faces including our deceased classmate, Arthur Murray.  It reminded me of all the things we have done together in this class.

Valerie Dolphin
A Guest’s Impression of the Writing Group

When I enter a room and every one applauds, I like it. I assume everyone does.  So my first impression of the writers group is one of acceptance and joy. A community of self assured writers. Though there is little sophistication here, there is plenty of raw joy.  Each person knows the other, and celebrates who they are. They know each other through the stories they write, the stories they have listened to. There are no rules here. One doesn’t even have to write, but nearly everyone does….who doesn’t want the applause…and more than the applause, who doesn’t want their story heard.  This is community. Wonderful, wonderful community. A place where all are known, all are celebrated.

Beatrice Newkirk
Our Special Class

Our special class is our writing class. We have so many things to be thankful for: just being able to be here, waking up this morning, being able to come to this class again. I can’t wait to hear our members’ stories. We have so much fun. Everyone is special.  We love getting together here and hearing every one’s story.  I can’t wait until next Thursday at one o’clock.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Norman (The Truce)

Today in class, we took a vote among ourselves, and decided to chill out and play hooky from our usual writing-and-reading routine.  And just talk. Free style. We started talking about junior high best friends, then about all of us girls (Hattie, Brenda, Joan, me) who grew up as semi-tomboys and ended up hanging with the boys, and then about girls and boys in general, and special friends in our lives in general. It was really nice. The weather outside was sunny but breezy, and so was our conversation. 

When I got back home to my laptop, and browsed through our seniors’ recent stories to see what to post today, I couldn’t help myself. An easy, breezy preteen story of course! Bow ribbons and stick balls may sound vintage, but I’m placing a bet right here and now that Norman’s story about how preteen boys and girls act towards each other will never go out of style!

Norman Cain
The Truce

During the adolescent stages of my life, the boys and girls in my neighborhood led separate lives.

The girls had their plaids, bow ribbons, ankle length dresses, and patent leather shoes while the boys had short hair cuts, dungarees, chip tooth, black eyes, and well worn brogan shoes.

The girls had their jacks, hop scotch, jumpy ropes, hand clapping games, and passion for dressy paper dolls while boys had marbles, yo-yo’s, stick balls, Wayans and well hidden wrenches that were used to turn on the fire hydrant as quickly as the police could turn them off.

The adolescent boys and girls simply led different lives. They avoided one another like a deadly plaque and encounters would often bring forth an overly emphasized “ugggh.”

There, however, were periods when co-existence was tolerated creating snowmen and taking to the streets with sleds; birthday parties consisting of games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey, musical chairs, “and would you believe it” spin the bottle were times for unity between the boys and the girls.

When there was a neighborhood outing chaperoned by older kids or adults there was no problems between the boys and girls. We knew better then to act out on ferry rides to Camden, New Jersey or trips to Citizen’s Bank to see the Phillies against the Dodgers.

Occasionally, we would call a truce and create a club. We would elect a President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary conducted meetings for two or three weeks, decide to have a luncheon that would consist of bologna and cheese sandwiches, kool aide, potato chips and cookies. Always after the party, the club would unofficially be discontinued with the option of continuing again at a later date.

We would then go back to our separate lives, a phenomenon that would continue until our pre-teens when we would discover each other and then for the rest of our lives our lives would no longer be separate.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Millie (A Closeness to Each Other)

Hope you all have been enjoying the summer! I love the heat and sun personally even with my now as-large-as-possible belly ;) Well, today we've got a treat for you more refreshing than ice cream! Millie is taking us to icy Alaska where she grew up.

June 20 was the first time Millie came to class, and I will never forget what she said, “This is the first time I am here, and I can tell I have landed in a very good place.”

She is now a dedicated member of our class, always one of the first to show up before each session, and always offering the warmest, most genuine greeting to every new senior and younger visitor who steps foot into our room.

And with that, two stories from Millie's childhood in icy Alaska to warm our hearts.

Millie Lilly
A Closeness to Each Other

When I was 12½ my family moved from S.C. to Fairbanks, Alaska. My older sister and my younger brother were part of an Air Force family that had seen some hard and violent times. In some ways, the move to such difficult weather conditions gave us siblings a new start. After a year in Fairbanks, we were transferred to a base an hour west where all the children were of Air Force parents. There was always a difference between students from the civilians and the Air Force children. The base was isolated with extreme cold, ice and snow and we felt a kinship and closeness to each other.

Millie Lilly
Alaska, How Cold Was It?

My brother, sister, and I delivered movie flyers to houses on the base.  Every week we delivered, we got one pass to the movie house that was open three days a week.  My sister and I also babysat for 50 cents an hour.

I had been in Alaska for a couple of winters and had learned how to dress in layers, being careful to make sure skin was covered as much as possible, tucking pants into two pair of sock, wrapping plenty of scarves around my neck.

Parka zipped tight with the fur-trimmed hood pulled over the wool hat, flyers tucked into my pocket, I left the house, a half a block later my eyelashes froze together.  I returned home, telling my brother how cold it was.  He said, “We don’t have to deliver when it is more than 20 degrees below”.  It was 42 degrees below.