Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

V-J Day

This day should not pass without remembrance of a monumental day in history. Remember this day today, tomorrow and all the tomorrows to come. It is an intricate part of America's freedom.
This Day in History: September 2, 1945

It's hard to imagine what life was like during times of world war. Only the remaining veterans of such a horrendous war truly know. For most of us, it is only what we read, watch on film and study as recorded history. With the passing of the greatest generation, memories of the sights, sounds, terrors and triumphs from the attacks on Pearl Harbor to D-Day to the landing on Iwo Jima to V-J Day and all the horrors in between will gradually disappear.

Kissing the war goodbye took place on August 14, 1945 with the announcement of Japan's unconditional surrender to the Allies being made public to the Japanese people. The ceremony officially ending the war did not take place for another few weeks, when Japanese representatives signed the documents of surrender aboard the USS Missouri battleship in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.

Representatives of Japan stand aboard USS Missouri
prior to signing of the Instrument of Surrender.

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur signing the
Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the Allied Powers
Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signing 
the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the Japanese Government
formally ending World War II

It is estimated that anywhere from 60 to 80 million people died during World War II, on all sides of the conflict. V-J Day should be seen as not only the celebration of the defeat of the tyrannical Japanese government of the time, but also the remembrance of those who fought, especially those who lost their lives.

By 2036, it is estimated there will be no living veterans of World War II left to recount their experiences. Should you know a veteran of WWII, perhaps as a friend or family member, be sure to reach out and make contact. If you do not know of someone close, seek out a veteran to let that person know how appreciative you are for undying service to and for America. For the veterans who survived the ordeal, the memories are too painful so don't expect lengthy conversation about the war. Most never talk about the battle(s) that haunt them to the grave. For that reason, it is not unusual for the sons and daughters of WWII veterans to know almost nothing of their fathers' wartime experiences. So, I invite you to share with me a time in the life of my dad filled with unspoken words yet overflowing with tradition......Traditions with Papa! He served at Iwo Jima.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September 1...

 Flashbacks & Reflections...School is IN!

The Labor Day holiday weekend is fast approaching. Goodbye, summer! In some places school doors will not open until after Labor Day, but in others, the beginning of the new school term is already in full swing, full speed ahead. Whether young or oldkindergarten, senior year of high school, or even collegethe atmosphere buzzes with enthusiasm from parent to child to teacher.

During the month of August, anticipation and apprehension began to swell as preparations and gatherings filled the weeks ahead for parents, teachers and students. Excitement over reuniting with friends away during the summer months expelled in giddiness as story after story of summer vacation aired. Apprehension over classmates, schedules and making the right choices, back to early morning alarm clocks, school bells and nightly homework may have at times created a more somber tone but never deterred any of the excitement. 

Flashbacks in time and reflections of one's self in the eyes of a child probably brought back memories of school days past...how things have changed from Grandpa's and Grandma's days. Within Awakenings is the opportunity to peer into the past and make connections that embrace those days and times long since passed. The accounts of early schooldays expose characteristics void of amenities common today. There was no electricity, running water, or telephone, and the restroom consisted of an outhouse in the back of the school yard. Can you imagine? Do you remember?

An old privy or outhouse
(Photo credit: The Library of Congress)
Grandpa's School Days 

The scene, a late 1800s schoolhouse
Of character quite different from now
A one-room building was room enough
With honor and respect a solemn vow 

Grandpa strolled barefoot to school
Humming the summer blues
Often times walked in winter
Despite holes in his shoes

Not centrally heated or air controlled
A cast-iron stove burned wood or coal
Unfinished walls of hand-hewn logs
Revealed at least one bullet hole 

Atmosphere still, damp and dreary
Sought light through an open window
Brightness glowed from within a smile
Graciously spawned by Ms. Winslow 

Sitting on logs or rough lumber
Boys on one side, girls on the other
A watchful eye at every turn
Dodged spitballs one after another

Going and playing outside at recess
Found off limits the old barn around back
The ideal excuse took time off from books
Playing hooky, hiding in the haystack

Typical Old Barn
GA Hwy 84 E
 ©2013 Awakenings
Sharla Lee Shults
   What stories do you embrace 
in your ancestral chain of schooldays past?

Today in Music History - Queen of Rock 'n' Roll

 Do you remember?

Hello, September!

...the beginning of Autumn, a time of change! A welcomed break from the sweltering temperatures of summer, a look ahead to landscapes erupting in riotous colorshow magnificent! With a new month comes occasions for celebration, so let's take a peek at what is at the top of the list for the entire month of September. What better start than to begin with music. Not just any music but tunes that date as far back as the 11th century that are still played in the 21st century. Then, make a music connection with each celebration.
Classical music may be at the bottom of your playlist but why not move it to the top during Classical Music Month? There is a huge possibility you know a lot more classical tunes than you think. Do you like the movies? More and more classical pieces are indeed intricate parts of their soundtracks. Even television programs and commercials have researched artistic masterpieces for marketing and advertising. You may or may not recognize the titles but perhaps the melodies ring a bell. Here is a sample...

According to Wikipedia, the term Hispanic is used to denote a link to Spain, whether it is a culture or a group of people. This is why the people of the countries and islands who were once ruled by Spain are labeled Hispanic today. As these geographical locations encompass a large variety of customs, traditions, cuisines, and music/art forms, the Hispanic community is a diverse group which cannot be limited to a stereotype. During National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15), celebrations are in order for the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society. 

Put away the straw hats worn while gardening and the beach hats topping the head for protection from the summer sun. Jazz up your fall wardrobe with a stylish hat. Both men and women wear hats and hats have been a part of our history for centuries. A hat is a headcovering that may be worn for protection against the elements, for religious reasons, for safety, or as a fashion accessory. In the past, hats were an indicator of social status. In the military, they denote rank and regiment. There are hats for men and hats for women, as well as hats worn by both sexes. Purveyors of men's hats are called hatters and purveyors of women's hats are called milliners. If you like, go cr-r-r-razy during Fall Hat Month.

The square dance is uniquely American. So American, almost 50% of the United States (24 to be exact) have designated the square dance as their state (folk) dance (click HERE). However, the format, many of the folk dances movements, and the terminology incorporated into the square dance were brought by early immigrantsEnglish, Irish and Scottish settlersfrom other countries to the United States. Celebrate International Square Dancing Month by participating along with a local square dancing club or host a square dance of your own. It's a great way to get some exercise while having fun at the same time!

We may be at the end of the summer season with temps beginning to drop (hopefully) but there are still some warm (even hot) days ahead. Of course, summer treats are not just for summer. Most are enjoyed year around with the Popsicle being one of them. The flavorful explosion of sweet blueberries at the end of summer has never tasted better. Include these in your next frozen treat experiment and you'll be a card-carrying member of the blue tongue society. Step back in time and celebrate National Blueberry Popsicle Month while listening to Jan & Dean's 'Popsicle'...

National Piano Month
The piano has been instrumental in many different genres of music with musicians 'tickling the ivories' for centuries. For National Piano Month, celebrate an instrument that continues to be classical, contemporary and flexible at the same time; an instrument that contributed enormously to the development of music as we know it, and continues to play a key role in modern music. It is enjoyed by young and old...there is no age limit when it comes to the piano!

Let's Talk Chicken! Did you know there are more chickens than any other domesticated bird on Earth? With that thought in mind, it is so far down the list of endangered species there is no need to worry about running low or heaven forbid OUT of Southern fried chicken! For National Chicken Month, options are endless as to how to enjoy chicken: casseroled, crocked, crusted, baked, BBQed, boiled braised, broiled, fingered, fricasseed, fried, grilled, nuggeted, pied, roasted, rotisseried, rubbed, saladed, sandwiched, sauced, sauteed, seared, smoked, stir-fried, stuffed, just about any way you like it. I fact, you can eat chicken every day for the month and never eat the same recipe twice. While dining on one of your favorite chicken recipes, enjoy one of many popular songs with chicken in the title!
Ah-h-h-h, September, so much to celebrate, especially the sweetest gift of naturehoney, of course! This one, simple ingredient is all-natural, delicious and so-o-o-o versatile. The National Honey Board (NHB) has always recognized the importance of honey bees and the benefits of honey. From the kitchen pantry to the bathroom vanity and beyond, honey plays a valuable role in our everyday lives. Did you know to make one pound of honey, a honeybee needs to tap 2 million blossoms? Now, that's what I call a 'worker'! Have a Honey Chipper Day but this time every day for the entire month.

Celebrate a healthy start every morning during the month of September. If you are not a breakfast eater, this is the month to change your habits. Jump start your metabolism, feel better and stay healthy. The benefits of eating breakfast are well worth the effort. As with any food be sure to include the right foods on the menu. Choose foods that contribute fiber, protein and healthy fats. Did you know breakfast should make up one-fourth to one-third of daily caloric needs? Just don't overdo with the sweets. Eat better during Better Breakfast Month!
Whew! That is a lot of celebration...and, to think that is not all being celebrated but all for now! Enjoy September!

This is Autumn...this is classical...this is piano!

September 1...

Flashbacks & Reflections...School is IN!

Today in Music History - Queen of Rock 'n' Roll


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Dog Days

Here we are well into the month of July with the 'dog days of summer' upon us - HOT and humid! Of course, we are not literally going to the dogs nor are dogs the actual limelight. Our pooches are locked in fur coats 24/7/365, however, and  must be well taken care of, which will be later addressed.

What are the 'dog days of summer' and their connection to dogs?

The sultry days of summer from the first week in July to the second week in August are commonly referred to as 'dog days'. According to Wikipedia, The Old Farmer's Almanac lists the traditional period of the Dog Days as the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, coinciding with the ancient heliacal (at sunrise) rising of the Dog Star, Sirius. These are the days of the year with the least rainfall in the Northern Hemisphere.

The Ancient Greeks thought that Sirius's emanations could affect dogs adversely, making them behave abnormally during the hottest days of the summer. The Romans called Sirius by the name of Canicula, "little dog," thus dating the phrase dog days of summer back to ancient Rome. Dogs excessive panting during the sultry days of summer was thought to place them at risk of desiccation and disease.
Dog days is a translation of the Latin phrase dies caniculares. The ancient Romans applied this phrase to the hottest days of the summer when the star Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, comes up over the horizon at about the same time as the sun. Source: Merriam-Webster's Student Dictionary
The best place to be during these hot and sultry days is anywhere there is a cool breeze, whether man-made or provided by Mother Nature. In our dreams we stay cool but one step outside brings us immediately in tune with stark reality as sweat beads do not hesitate leaving their marks on make-up or freshly starched shirts! Sweat shows no mercy!!!

For the poochies, be sure they have plenty of fresh water and a shady place if kept outside. Remember, they do not get to pack up their fur coats at the end of winter.
Summer dangers for dogs... 
Summer brings unique risks to dogs, especially during 'dog days'. Keep their health at the top of your own personal list to avoid the perils of 
  • Heat Stroke
  • Sunburn
  • Scorched Foot Pads
  • Dehydration
  • Campfires & Barbeques
  • Fireworks
  • Parasites
  • Chemicals in Water
  • Seasonal Allergies
  • Getting Lost

There is fun in the sun but danger, too. Walk during the cooler hours of the day. Take care of yourself and your pet(s) so you can truly enjoy those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer!

1963 - Nat King Cole

What is your favorite place during the 'dog days of summer'?

Image credit: Getty Images

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Honoring Memorial Day!

'Happy' routinely appears preceding the words Memorial Day. There is absolutely no way around it. BUT...is that the proper precedent to Memorial Day? We are happy to live in America. We happily enjoy all the freedoms America has to offer. Joyous are we getting prepared for time with family and friends: walking the beach, swimming, picnicking, bar-be-queuing, etc. In the midst of all the food, fun, fellowship associated with Memorial Day, let's not forget who are the true honorees!

The happiness associated with Memorial Day has come at an immense sacrifice. Tomorrow is Memorial Day but first, it is important to understand Memorial Day vs. Veterans' Day.

Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered on Veterans Day, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty. A complete history of Veterans Day, and why it is observed on November 11, can be found on the Veterans Day History Web page.
If you proudly fly the American flag at your home, be sure it is flown half mast tomorrow from sunrise 'til midday. If you have a family member or loved one who died as a result of serving our country, place a flag at the grave site. Wherever you go, whatever you do on Memorial Day, proudly carry and/or wave the American flag remembering those that are no longer with us, that is, among the land of the livingtheir spirit will always be with us in our hearts!

While this may be a time for beach blasts, bar-be-que cookouts, hot dogs with all the trimmings, hamburgers and fries, and scrumptious apple pie, it is more importantly a time of remembering. . .

The Fallen Soldiers


Like the bald eagle
Forever Watchful were we
Guiding, protecting
The land of the free
'Twas our place
To be brave, stay strong
Ready and willing
All the day long
Our eyes were keen
Often focused on pain
The fields were bloody
Amid storms and rain
Bodies of comrades
Strewn there and about
Never for a moment
Left room for any doubt
On home or foreign shores
Know ardently that we
Who gave up our lives
'Twas for country and thee


©2013 Awakenings
Sharla Lee Shults

For each soldier who has fallen, there is someone at home mourning!

 Memorial Day 2015: The Real Story Behind the Holiday




Celebrate by honoring the True Meaning of Memorial Day!