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That beautiful still voice often tells me the things I don’t want to hear

in Awakenings/Contributors/Health by

By Susan Stone

There is a lovely Scripture that reads; “Be Still and Know that I am God.” It is my mother’s favorite quote from the Bible. For it is in the “stillness” that we hear a voice different from our own.

Recently a young man came to see me from Tennessee to go on his Vision Quest. Traditionally, a vision quest takes place in a natural setting. The Elders place the participant in an isolated area, surrounded by a twelve foot circle of salt (for protection). They may take a blanket and water with them, but no comforts of any kind. No pillow, no tobacco, no phone, no journal, no nothing. For three days there is only you and your surroundings. The participant does not know where the Elders are, only that they are safe and will be guarded during the quest.

Then the battle begins…the battle with EGO. It usually begins with; WHAT WAS I THINKING?!? THIS IS TOO HARD! I’M HUNGRY, I’M ITCHY, I NEED TO TALK! Did I mention you must also take a vow of silence? The whole point of going on a quest such as this, is to separate the voice that taunts you from the voice that guides you. If we cannot free ourselves from the tyranny of our egos, we are doomed to be bullied by it for the rest of our lives.

As long as I have been doing this work and teaching others to love the stillness, I still hear the voice that says; WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? YOU AREN’T SMART ENOUGH TO DO THAT. YOU SHOULD HAVE TAKEN THAT JOB. WHY CAN’T YOU BE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE? The difference is that today I recognize that voice as ego and I tell it to go away. It does not tell me the Truth. It replays old tapes that I heard from others or told myself. It is the voice that used to rule my world. Not anymore. This getting control of your ego is tricky business, because both voices sound just like you!

The voice that guides me is smarter than me. It always comforts me. It never chides or insults me. That beautiful still voice very often tells me things I don’t want to hear. Like; forgive that person for she is hurting and needs your love. Or, when I think I can’t afford to be generous, I will hear; you can’t afford not to be. The voice of ego loves to make excuses. It will give you every reason in the world for not following through with that which is for your highest good.

Vision Quests, although they should never be attempted alone and unsupervised…a mini-quest is perfectly safe. If you are dealing with a persistent ego, you may give this a try. Set aside one hour to be still and silent. I recommend going into a windowless room, turn off all lights, lay or sit in one place for just one hour… in the darkness…alone…in complete silence. You will be amazed at how quickly your ego will start screaming at you! It will do everything in its power to convince you that you are crazy for even trying this. The tantrum it will have will be almost deafening. Don’t worry, it will calm down. And when it does…a bliss you have rarely known in your life will come over you like a soft wave. You will hear a different voice congratulating your courage, a soft voice that will bring you comfort and peace.

Tornadoes, floods and reply all

in Cherimie Crane/Contributors/Voices by

By Cherimie Crane Weatherford

I have been blessed to be able to find morsels of personal success in the nooks and crannies of even the most cluttered circumstance. Untangling problematic situations is a skill I have acquired throughout my career. Quick wit, slow judgment and prompt apology are all objectives I have perfected masterfully through painful trial and error. Having no formal business degree, the school of live and learn has offered me an equivalent experience.

Coming from the Deep South natural disasters are not only common occurrence, but expected once the seas of life become calm. Between tornadoes, floods and striking storms, Southerners grow strong in resilience and heroic in recovery; however, there is one disaster Mother Nature bears no responsibility nor offers any reprieve. It shatters windows, cracks foundation and leaves a wake of destruction unrelenting in reach. It discriminates not against position, purpose or pride. In the business world it is referred simply as the Reply All button.

Often I wonder if it was a cruel joke created to tempt turmoil in the hallways and boardrooms or if it was thought to offer convenience. There is simply no escaping its wrath. Either you find yourself in an endless saga of irrelevant inclusion or even worse, you rattle off your best venomous rebuttal only to realize all is not your intended audience. The stroke of a seemingly innocent key leads to an unmistakable cringe followed by ineffective wail directed towards the device guilty of obeying the command then ultimate acceptance that you may or may not need to seek new employment and/or an alternate address. Similar to rising waters, falling trees and howling winds, the Reply All takes no prisoners, leaves an unmistakable mark and requires extensive clean up.

No doubt titles have been changed, drinks have been made and mea culpas eloquently created all to the credit of the enigmatic Reply All. All, in fact, doesn’t always need to know. I too have suffered this feat. Self-inflicted pain has a tinge all of its own. My name is Cherimie and I too, replied all. I suppose it is our yin to the yang of convenience. With good comes bad, with ease comes difficulty and with humans come unimaginable faux pas. Lessons learned are often scars earned. The smoke will settle, the winds will calm and I will never hit send without triple checking again.

Cherimie Crane Weatherford, owner of SugarBelle boutique, Real Estate Broker and observer of all things momentous and mundane lives on Lady’s Island with her golfing husband, dancing toddler and lounging dogs.

Donating blood

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

When I moved here two years ago I met a woman who volunteers at Blood drives. Prior to retiring, Sue had worked as a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) nurse for 28 years. Now, she is still helping out in the healthcare industry by volunteering and drumming up business for the Red Cross.

Sue is also very persistent. She has a pleasant southern voice that sounds easy-going, but her voice changes and the passion comes out when she talks about blood drives. I have used every excuse I could think of with her over the years to not donate blood. It never stopped her.

“I have bad veins.” I would say. “No they look okay.” she would reply.

“I do not like pain.” “You’ll be fine.”

“I don’t drink orange juice.” “No problem we have apple juice and cranberry juice.”

Well, after two years of listening to her, I finally decided to consider donating blood. But first, I wanted to do some research. I typed into the search engine: “Why I should not give blood.” But all that kept coming up were the good reasons for me to donate blood. According to the assorted blood donation sites, the main reason to donate is because it saves lives. In addition, there is a need for blood all the time. Turns out that the blood bank needs to get filled regularly because it gets drained regularly. Sounds like a typical bank account.

I also discovered that you get a mini-physical. They check your blood pressure, your hemoglobin, your cholesterol and your pulse rate. Surely, that must be worth something for some people. But the best reason to donate blood came from Sue herself. One day she said, “We have a lot of people who need blood. What if it was someone in your family in need?” Fine! She got to me with that one.

So I made my appointment to give blood. There were lots of people sitting around that morning smiling as they relaxed afterwards. They carried their “I gave blood” stickers, bottles of juice and crackers. And at this particular drive, the donors received t-shirts. I also found out that some people donate multiple times a year. So stop giving excuses. Sue has heard them all. Sign up and just do it. Remember, the life you save may be your own or the life of a loved one.

Ease your mind with meditation: here’s how

in Awakenings/Contributors/Health by

By Brittney Hiller

What is meditation? Meditation has shown to reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and create ease in the practitioners’ life. Meditation is simply, a moment for you to create space in your life that will encourage and enhance awareness as well as creativity.

{Doesn’t that sound YUMMY?}

As a yoga teacher, I practice meditation in many different forms, from transcendental (which has been deeply studied by Dr. Herbert Benson and taught to students at Harvard University), to visualization meditation. Recently, I have had the pleasure of speaking with many students whom have wanted more meditation in their life.

Here is ONE quick way to jumpstart your meditation practice, TODAY – like, right now. {yup, now, now}

For two minutes (you have two minutes), turn off Facebook and Instagram or the TV and voila’ you have created two minutes. Now, comfortably sit upright, perhaps in a chair or on a pillow on the ground. If you find yourself at a desk, perfect! Face your computer and begin with this easy step.

Place your index finger to your thumb. Now we are going to rotate out our fingers with our thumb, therefore the rotation looks like so,

Thumb to Index finger

Thumb to Middle finger

Thumb to Ring finger

Thumb to Pinky.

You got it!

Now with this rotation we are beginning to empower the brain to think actively, which is GREAT for creativity! The fun begins here, where you can create a mantra, a repetitive and uplifting phrase such as
PEACE BEGINS WITH ME.

See how we have four places with our finger to put in four words, and then repeat? Awesome!

Create a mantra that suits you best.

TODAY I WILL RELAX

I AM HAPPY TODAY

PEACE BEGINS WITH ME

I AM AT EASE

MY DAY IS GREAT

{You’ve got it now}

With each rotation of your fingers, you place a word.

Breathe slowly and deeply with each round and give yourself 2 minutes to do this. As I often encourage, truly notice HOW you feel before and then after. It is a small gift for you today, but I hope you take the moment and ‘Treat yo’ Self!’

Witnessing acts of kindness around town

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

This past week, I went into the grocery store to pick up a few things. Of course, the ten items on my list suddenly turned into 25. As I finished placing my groceries on the checkout counter, I noticed the woman behind me only had a couple of things.

“Go ahead,” I said “You don’t have much.” “Thank you!” she responded. After she checked out the cashier started to ring up my items. As she was scanning my groceries she said, “That was nice of you.” “No problem.” I said. Then she continued. “Last week, there was a woman buying her groceries and she didn’t look like she had much money. The woman in line behind her said, “Let me buy your chicken and ground beef for you”. The cashier said the young woman was thrilled and thanked the other woman.

I was taken aback as I listened to this story, but even more surprised when she added, “I see this kind of stuff all the time. People just doing nice things for other people.” I was mulling the story over as I walked back to my car and thought that I wish our politicians could talk to this grocery store clerk. It might bring their confidence level in America back up.

Later, as I was relaying the experience to my spouse, I started to think about all the other acts of kindness that I have received and witnessed since I moved here. For example, that person in line that coughs up some change when you don’t have any or the folks who buy coffee for the military personnel at City Java or the person that waves your car into line in heavy traffic.

But the lady who bought the chicken and ground beef will stick with me for a while. Because I remember being a young wife and mother living on a tight budget. Those were the days when I knew fifty ways to prepare ground beef for dinners. It would have been great to have someone pay for part of my grocery bill back then.

The next day, I went back to the store to ask Tonya, the Manager for the cashier’s name. Oh yes, that’s Kristina and she is right, “It happens all the time!” So good for you, lady at the Food Lion; that young woman will remember you forever. And good for Kristina for relaying that story.

Vitamin see: foods rich in vitamin C may help slow cataracts

in Contributors/Dr. Mark Siegel, MD FAAO/Health by

By Dr. Mark S. Siegel

What do grapefruit, broccoli and strawberries have in common?

They are foods loaded with vitamin C, which could help slow cataract progression, according to a British study.

Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens that happens naturally with age. The condition is the leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

Researchers from King’s College London examined data from more than 1,000 pairs of female twins to see what factors may help keep cataracts at bay. They tracked intake of vitamin C and other nutrients from food and supplements. They also recorded how opaque the subjects’ lenses were at around age 60, with a follow-up on 324 sets of twins about 10 years later.

Women who reported consuming more vitamin C-rich foods had a 33 percent risk reduction of cataract progression over the decade, according to the study. Their lenses overall were more clear.

Although we cannot totally avoid developing cataracts, we may be able to delay their onset and keep them from worsening significantly by eating a diet rich in vitamin C. The researchers noted that the findings only pertain to vitamins consumed through food and not supplements.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. The fluid inside the eyeball is normally high in a compound similar to vitamin C, which helps prevent oxidation that results in a clouded lens. Scientists believe more vitamin C in the diet may increase the amount present around the lens, providing extra protection.

Because the study was done in twins, the team was also able to calculate how much of a role genetics versus environmental factors play in cataract progression. While environmental factors, such as diet, accounted for 65 percent, genetic factors only accounted for 35, indicating that diet and lifestyle may outweigh genetics.

The study, “Genetic and Dietary Factors Influencing the Progression of Nuclear Cataract“ will be published this June in Ophthalmology, the official journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

El Diablo is rolling again

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

It is that time of year again. My husband’s eyes widen in anticipation knowing that he can go and retrieve “el Diablo”. This is the name I gave our twenty-four-foot RV the first time I saw it eighteen months ago. It has distinctive red and black markings and can be seen from a mile away. We keep it at a storage unit not far from our home, but when it comes back to our neighborhood to get packed for a trip everyone notices. My poor neighbor Beth who has a perfect view of my garage is keenly aware when we are leaving on another trip. Even my new neighbor Elaine said “I see that Diablo has come home.”

El Diablo
El Diablo

El Diablo is only about the size of the average UPS truck. I tell my spouse that if he gets bored with retirement, I am sure he could get a job delivering packages. But because of her size, I enjoy driving her too. We tell people that we bought the RV to go off and see the USA, but the truth is we bought it because of our two old dogs. It is easy to travel with them in an RV. They can stretch out on their beds, drink their water when they need it and besides most of the RV parks allow dogs.

El Diablo has many good qualities. Besides being conspicuous in a crowded parking lot, she is also small enough that we can drive her just about anywhere. Her fuel consumption is not as bad as some of the larger RVs and she was not so expensive that we feel guilty staying at a “Pet friendly” hotel when we want. She has a small kitchenette, a queen size bed and a little bathroom with a tiny shower that my “big guy” aka husband refuses to climb into no matter what.

We have also discovered that having all of our clothes in one place when we travel is nice. Yes, el Diablo is not as fancy as some of those Class A RVs that you see on television. You know, the ones that the movie stars and football players own. She cannot even get admitted into some of those really nice RV campgrounds. But at night, when the lights are out and the only sounds I hear are the loud snores coming from my three traveling companions, el Diablo feels like home.

Time to do the Reconstruction Trail ourselves

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Voices by
VOICES SMALL HOUSE

Photo above: The Robert Smalls House at 511 Prince Street in Beaufort is where Congressman Robert Smalls (1839-1915) began his life in slavery and where, after emancipation, he returned to purchase the house and live out his days.

By Bill Rauch

Budget negotiations are in full swing in Washington now for the last budget over which the Obama Administration will preside. And there is silence in Washington once again about the National Park Service’s proposed Reconstruction Trail here in Beaufort County.

Throughout the Obama Administration it has seemed that, as politicians like to say, “The stars are lined up” for bringing this modest proposal to fruition. Mayor Billy Keyserling working with Congressman James Clyburn and others seemed to be just the group to get for the city and county a National Park Service designation that would put a federally-funded plaque in front of The Robert Smalls House on Prince Street and in front of the Arsenal on Craven Street in Beaufort, another couple of plaques at The Penn Center and The Emancipation Oak on St. Helena Island, a plaque at the other Emancipation Oak on the Naval Hospital grounds in Port Royal, a similar designation at the site of the freed slaves community known as Mitchelville on Hilton Head Island, and at several other nearby places.

All these places, each significant in U.S. History during the years immediately following the Civil War, would then be gathered into a “trail” about which a brochure would be written and distributed by the National Parks Service. This simple mechanism would help bring tourists to the area to enjoy Beaufort’s restaurants and maybe even overnight in Beaufort’s hotel rooms that now fill up only two nights a week for graduations at Parris Island.

But the initiative seems to have run completely out of steam.

That it has is, of course, good news to some – like the Sons of Confederate Veterans whose representatives have lobbied effectively against the effort. But it is not good news to Beaufort’s business community. And it should be an embarrassment to elected officials who, in the name of business development, continue to spend hundreds of thousands of locally-raised tax dollars each year to support and promote Beaufort’s (NO) Commerce Park that they seem unaware is located in the heart of the AICUZ at the end of MCAS Beaufort’s main runway where the roar of F-35s climbing to 1000 ft. is deafening. There is a water tower painted in orange squares that stands next to the park’s entrance sign. Prospective tenants will inevitably be curious about military aircraft and they will soon learn that the Navy has said in its most recent Environmental Impact Statement that F-35 flights at MCAS Beaufort are expected to quadruple in the next few years.

But I digress…

Beaufort’s Reconstruction Trail had an auspicious beginning in 2000 in the waning days of the Clinton Administration. Then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt (Interior has oversight over the Parks Service) was seated next to Columbia University history professor Eric Foner at a White House dinner. A dozen years before, in 1988, Foner had brought out the big book on the Reconstruction period. According to Babbitt, he turned to Foner at the dinner and said, “You know professor, the Parks Service has parks, sites and trails all over the country that celebrate every twist and turn in American history, but there is none for the Reconstruction era. If the Parks Service were to designate such a site, where should it be?”

And without missing a beat the nation’s foremost historian of 19th century America replied, “Beaufort, South Carolina, the site of the Port Royal Experiment.”

In the weeks following that dinner Secretary Babbitt organized for himself and key Parks personnel from the National Parks Service office in Atlanta a tour of the significant Reconstruction era sites in Beaufort County. As the newly elected the Mayor of the City of Beaufort, I went on the tour, which is where I heard firsthand Secretary Babbitt’s story of the proposal’s conception.

There was excitement in Beaufort’s business community about the Reconstruction Trail then, but Secretary Babbitt had wisely cautioned, “There is not time for us to do this now. It must be the next administration.” And the next administration was of course two terms of highly-partisan George W. Bush who meticulously closed out Congressman Clyburn and the other Democrats.

But that was then. What of the Obama Administration and President Obama’s famous and real friendship with his long-time ally, Congressman Clyburn the primary sponsor of the Gullah-Geechee Corridor? With Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling doing “the ask” couldn’t this group find the money in the $3.8 trillion dollar Federal budget for a handful of plaques and a brochure?

Apparently not.

Okay, so maybe it’s time to get real and try another approach. Could the Beaufort County Council maybe ask the Beaufort County Preservation Review Board to seek a Beaufort County Accommodations Tax grant to hire as a consultant a preservation historian to identify the appropriate Beaufort County Reconstruction era sites and assemble a draft brochure that describes their significance? The consultant could maybe even put in some driving directions to help visitors find their way up the trail. Then next year maybe they can put in another proposal to buy and put up the plaques and print up and distribute the brochures. By that time maybe the city will be on board and they can go to their A-Tax committee to get a few dollars to promote the trail and sell some meals and hotel rooms.

After 16 years of waiting for Uncle Sam to do it for us, let’s just do it ourselves. It’s not like it’s such a tough job that it needs Seal Team Six.

County A-Tax grant applications, according to Beaufort County’s website, are due in September so there’s still plenty of time to get something going here don’t you think?

The elusive cell phone signal

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

Living in a large metropolitan city you normally don’t have a problem picking up your cell phone and chatting with someone at any time and any place especially in your car. The landscape is adorned with large cell towers to enable people to be connected. Oh, there are those times when you drive into a parking garage or a tunnel and the signal drops; but even that is changing as cell phone companies scurry to put repeaters in those areas so you never drop a call.

However, I have noticed that it is a little bit different living here in the Lowcountry, an area that is thankfully less populated. You can drive for miles looking at the scenic views and never see a cell tower. But that view comes with a price. It means that you will find yourself entering areas where there are no precious bars lighting up the phone. It is so strange to be driving along and one minute hearing a voice through the Bluetooth and then suddenly it disappears as you inadvertently drive into a dead zone. Of course, it does not take long after you move here to discover those special cell coverage zones where four or five bars light up on your phone. As a matter of fact, you have probably found yourself seeking those areas. I have personally discovered certain parking lots where I can pull into and complete a conversation before entering one of those “no cell phone service” zones. And sure enough, there are other people doing the same thing. You can spot them sitting alone in the car talking animatedly into the air.

Then there are communities where one side of the community has great coverage and the other side has none. You might even see a car sitting on the side of the road with the emergency flashers on and the driver’s hand sticking out the window holding up a cell phone, desperately seeking a phone signal. I confess to doing this myself!

But the good news is that we are not living in a large metropolitan area. We have beautiful views to enjoy and many places to pull over to make those calls. And I have discovered a spot where my phone calls are very rarely interrupted. Turns out my landline has excellent coverage.

Keeping my Gift Closet stocked and my heart open

in Cherimie Crane/Contributors/Voices by

By Cherimie Crane Weatherford

Like most growing up in the deep delectable south, pleasantries and poetic behavior is as expected as the humidity in the air we breathe. Not all standards of practice were enthusiastically enchanting, but intertwined deeply and artfully into all that I am nonetheless. The unspoken, unwritten laws of co-existence that were fiercely upheld by mothers, grandmothers and church leaders all over the Southern states.

One in particular still causes butterflies and post traumatic stress. The in-person apology, although completely foreign in today’s society, is the courtesy of choice by my gentle yet fierce mother. Slightly akin to a dead man walking, the longest mile or any other horrific showing of dread that is multiplied when forced to face your debts with the audience of your debtors. Regardless of offense, it was mandatory that all apologies be eloquent, sincere and in person. My life was forever impacted by the many merciless, collective mea culpa.

As if the in-person apology wasn’t harsh enough to win claim as the most difficult southern grace, the female ankle cross was a mighty contender. Often I wondered if Chiropractors and those that created southern customs were in cahoots. There is just no way a well meaning woman came up with this custom of contortion. It mattered not whether perched on a pew or teetering on a tailgate, my Momma could hear from 20 miles away even the slightest uncrossing of the exhausted ankle. No allowance was given for attire, function or injury, the ankle cross was necessary at all costs. Fear of the under arm pinch or the paralyzing ‘I will talk with you later stare’ kept ankles crossed stiffly in compliance all over towns and counties below the Mason Dixon line.

Not all southern manners were punitive in nature. Many have served me well. Like Mammaw’s cream infused grits,some things just stick with you. All the women in my family kept a Gift Closet. A small closet both highly regarded and protected filled with specialty soaps, delicate hand towels, crafted candles, beautiful note cards and always at the very top was chocolates and jams. As a child it seemed rather silly to imprison perfectly good presents for people and circumstances not yet revealed, especially chocolate. Purchasing these recipient-less presents was as high a priority as tithing on Sunday. The heart of a Southern woman knows well the importance of the timely gift. It never failed, it never ran low and it never discriminated. If one needed a gift, the closet was always ready.

What seems to be 100 years later, I open the door to my very own Gift Closet. One that I must constantly stock, protect from little hands and turn too when it is time. The gifts often go to an acquaintance, sometimes a stranger, many times a friend. It is always the perfect gift at the perfect moment. No matter where I am, I always seem to find something that belongs in my Gift Closet. Just as my Momma did with me, I shoo little hands away and explain the importance of the enigmatic custom. I wonder how many battles have been averted, hearts healed and days made by the simple contents.

What a difference we could make, if such a concept could be implemented in all aspects of our lives. Quietly tucking away, kindness, sincerity, generosity and thoughtfulness to have at the ready when life produces an opportunity to give.

I adore my Gift Closet and the simple humanity it represents. It is far less tumultuous than the in-person apology, far less uncomfortable than the ankle cross and far more important than even I previously understood. If you want to make your corner of the world a little brighter, keeping your Gift Closet stocked is a wonderful way to keep your heart open.

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