10 Common Traits of Uncommon People

Guest column:

Craig Hysell shares his thoughts about uncommon people. He owns a unique training facility for body and minds in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Family Pyramid

Craig Hysell and his Family

 

4 Common Traits of Mediocre People:

  1. They have no idea what they want to do with their life
  2. They have no idea how to do what they want to do with their life
  3. They have an idea but are afraid to try
  4. They have an idea, they “tried” it and “it didn’t work” so they quit

Mediocrity is easy. It’s comfortable. The pursuit of commonality and the avoidance of adversity, criticism and the unknown are the surest possible way to die without expressing your full potential. Or worse, to die feeling like a failure. Is that you?

10 Common Traits of Uncommon People:

  • Uncommon people believe they have a purpose, know their “Why” and live their dream.Think about that. Do you know why you’re here, do you have enough stamina to live your most passionate calling and do you know what conviction(s) you will fall back on when things get hard? To establish these answers, you must accumulate life experiences and then sit down in the quiet and think. There is no timetable on this accumulation and introspection. It could take years or decades. It is constant.
  • Uncommon people are not absent of fear, they just do not let fear make their life become absent.Fear exists for all of us. But fear is crap. It is not real. It exists only in our minds. When you face your fears daily, you conquer fear. You realize that fear is indeed nonsense. It is the main control mechanism for commonality. You must not let fear, any and all fear, hold you back from pursuing your purpose.
  • Uncommon people practice self-mastery. Uncommon people work relentlessly at mastering their mind, body, emotion and spirit (the four pillars that make up your life). They harness these things through daily study and practice. They understand that without a strong mind, all else will fail. They are patient. They enjoy The Process. They are positive. They structure the development and awareness of these four pillars- their emotional content- into a daily practice. They reflect upon these four pillars daily.
  • Uncommon people are self-reliant. This does not mean that uncommon people do not ask for help: on the contrary, being part of a team is vital to growing and sharing larger success. To be self-reliant is to trust that your critical eye, your logic, your reason and your wisdom are tools enough to help you continue to grow. This is not absolutism. Absolutism is folly. This is the ability to understand what is worthless to you and what is not, no matter what the crowd may think, and pursue this relentlessly.
  • Uncommon people have an unwavering discipline. You cannot learn anything worthwhile if you are not devoted to it fully. Uncommon people are disciplined with work, with rest and with play. They make time for all of it and they are fully present at each exploration. This is a lifetime pursuit.
  • Uncommon people are obsessed with the cultivation of their purpose. Uncommon people do not complain about trivial things. They are focused on where they want to go, paying attention to each deliberate step along the way. Silly things like the accumulation of stuff and then complaining when the stuff isn’t just right or gossiping about others is not part of an uncommon person’s life.
  • Uncommon people are extremely durable. Uncommon people remain undeterred by setbacks, failure or defeat. They recognize these things as learning tools and nothing more. They do not falter or waver for long. They do not wallow in self-loathing. They possess supreme confidence in their ability to continue forward. No matter what. They are fully accountable for everything that happens in their life. With accountability comes control and with control comes the ability to change.
  • Uncommon people inspire change.Uncommon people inspire others to follow suit. They show what is possible and make it possible not only for others to come with them, but for others to improve upon what they have provided.
  • Uncommon people act. Uncommon people understand that you are what you are. Best to link your actions with your dreams and your purpose. Best to ask of yourself often, “Is this the best I can do?” Otherwise: a thought without action is simply a wish.
  • Uncommon people do not care what others think. Find your voice. As soon as you begin to talk, others want to talk over you, critique you, tell you how you should do things, twist your voice or use your message against you. Uncommon people persevere through this. They learn to ignore what others might think and realize that you cannot be all things to all people. Uncommon people speak their mind and follow their heart. Their honesty is clear, concise and principled, attracting others who are like-minded. And things begin to expand, slowly at first and then… BOOM!

You must have fun with the practice of becoming uncommon. It’s serious business to be sure, but BE something you love and enjoy,

You must practice “un-commonality” daily. You must be patient. You must shut out negativity and seek the mentorship and guidance of others who have been there before you. You must look long and hard at yourself and those around you. Is this who you want to be? You must be accountable for everything, and I mean everything, in your life. It’s all up to you. Any thought to the contrary is commonality in devious forms.

Hilton Head

Craig Hysell – owner of Conviction Training Facility

Listen. Observe. Act. Adapt. Evolve. Repeat.

“Un-commonality” should be a lifetime pursuit. There is no timetable save this: realize that you are going to die one day and you have no idea when that day will come. There is no time to waste. Meet your death with the satisfaction that you gave this life all you had to give. That will be enough to die well, perhaps even unafraid.

Thank you, Craig Hysell, for allowing me reprint a condensed and slightly revised article about uncommon people. Craig’s Conviction Training Facility in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Be sure to visit his website and his uncommon blog.

 

 

Finding a Fit after Fifty

Sometimes finding your “fit” takes time.

Linda-the-Pastor

Linda Whitworth-Reed in the Pulpit

When Linda planned to abandon her career of short-term jobs to go to seminary, she was 52 years old. She had supported her husband through seminary a decade previously. They relocated many times for his two different careers. “Now it’s my turn,” she said. “David has not received his next calling. We may need to live apart awhile. I am well aware of the challenges.”

Linda’s dad was a Presbyterian minister. He lived with them after her mother died. When David quit an excellent technical sales job to become a minister, she and her dad applauded loudly. They understood the pitfalls and pleasures of life as a minister.

“Linda,” I wailed. “You’re over 50. Are you sure you want to graduate when you are 56 years old?”

“Well,” she responded, “I’ll still be 56 or 57 anyhow.  The timing is right and I’m sure the call is real.”  The love of learning flows through Linda’s veins. Returning to graduate school would invigorate this energetic lady.

Linda’s work history is one we call “patchwork.” She’s been a French and Spanish teacher, a publisher, an Information Technology Instructor, an exercise expert and held many other jobs. Would this be another two or three-year stint? Teaching and speaking demonstrates a recurring theme in her career.

I questioned how she knew this rung in her career ladder would be a better fit.  Linda is super-intelligent, introspective and gregarious. Before her dad passed, Linda and David took her father to visit people from his past. Within a two-week period three of his friends, who had watched her grow up, inquired about “her church.” They assumed she had followed the same career as her dad and husband. That was the sign she needed. With David in transition the present looked promising for her to begin her studies. The rocky road to seminary took five years to solidify. She registered at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin. Fortunately, David became an interim pastor in Waco, 98 miles from the seminary.

With age discrimination rampant, I worried about my friend. I didn’t need to fret. Her quick smile, unconventional wisdom, and perky personality endeared her to the other students.  Linda expected to fly through all her classes, but Hebrew and Greek gave her heartburn. Although fluent in Spanish and French, she struggled.  Discussions on theology, evolution, and creationism stirred her intellect.  Text books rarely put her to sleep. Volunteer work with the homeless while in Austin opened her eyes wider to poverty. Additional study in family dynamics increased her strength in what she would face in her ministry. Driving back and forth with their two dogs to visit her husband caused horrendous challenges with time management and their schedules.

 

Linda sings

Linda Singing a Happy Song

When she graduated, David and Linda moved to a town in South Texas, a town of over 80% Hispanic. Since Linda is fluent in Spanish, she loved the ability to converse in Spanish daily. David and Linda were called co-pastors. The situation for any new pastor is challenging and this was no exception. She loved the town, the people, and the green parrot in a nearby tree. Relationship building began in earnest.

David went to serve another church as an interim pastor. She became the Senior Minister, giving her a chance for new responsibilities. Her next call took the couple to Little Rock.

My comment:

If you are thinking of becoming a minister, she cautions, you must love and learn how to cope with diverse personalities from a Christian perspective and much faith. Linda has found her niche. The job is difficult, the hardest one she’s ever had, but she loves it.  She found her niche at 57. Risky, but worth the effort and hard work.

Currently Linda has been a minster for nine years. David is “honorably retired” and finds part-time ministry and musical gigs wherever they live. He does wood-working while she writes the sermons. Now they live in Iola, Kansas.

As we worked together on this article, she stressed, “In working with myself and others in order to give myself grace, I must realize we do the best we can with what we have.”

Are you doing the best you can with what you have? From exercise guru to minister, we find peace with what we have, no matter the age or circumstances.

 

 

Unexpected Fun and Funk

Unexpected Fun and Funk

Courtyard

Ready for an Event-Photo Courtesy of Bogart’s

“C’mon, Mom. You’ll have fun. You loved the crawdads when we had them before,” said our oldest son. “You can stay with us.” His younger brother and wife had accepted the invitation. They live in Houston but we usually run back and forth between their homes when we visit. Being together is a treat.

The problem: Super Bowl weekend in Houston. Although neither son lives downtown, I pictured sitting in traffic for hours. Two-hundred-seventy-five mile one way from Dallas to his house. But, we love to travel. Maybe we could leave early on Friday and return Sunday morning to avoid traffic. I would call the motel near his place and we’d leave Friday.

Double the Money

Whoops! The Houston hotels doubled their prices and were undoubtedly booked. After I stopped hyperventilating, I searched for a Bed and Breakfast for Friday night in Navasota, an hour northwest of Houston. We would stay with the older son on Saturday. We had stopped in Navasota several times to visit antique shops. Navasota offers streets with huge mansions, big yards, gigantic trees, and a quaint downtown.

Bogart’s Casa Blanca looked inviting. The prices seemed reasonable but could the dog stay there? He could! When I reached Dwayne Fuller, the owner, he said the Mae West Efficiency Apartment was available. Although dogs are not usually welcome, he agreed to Fargo’s inclusion.

 Dwayne’s Devine Decor

Bogart's efficiency

Mae West Efficiency with Kitchen Area-Photo Courtesy of Bogart’s

 

Bogart’s is, shall we say, funky. Eclectic might be a better term. The word “pizzazz” and “eye catching” come to mind. An antique sleigh bed stood in the middle of the room. The carpet looked like the designer chose colors from a kindergartner’s Crayola box. We would need to brush our teeth in the “kitchen.” Dwayne opened a cupboard door on the other side of the room and voila, a place with light and mirror for make up in the morning. He wanted to know what time he should bring our breakfast. He would cook.

carpet

Flowered Carpet on the Floor-Photo by R. Glover

 

 

The Renaissance Man

According to his story he operated a spa and event center in the location with eight salon chairs. When he renovated, he closed the hair salon and created four rooms for the B&B and current event center.

Dwayne is an older, tall, handsome, athletic-looking man. “Tell me more, Dwayne,” I begged.

When he graduated from a tiny high school in Arkansas he boarded a bus to live with an older brother in Houston, leaving the farm for good. He trained as a hairdresser, attracting a huge following of clients. He bought a big house on the main drag in the Heights (long a funky section in Houston) and created a hotel and events center.

His involvement in the professional hairdressers’ association led to teaching and certifying new hairdressers throughout Texas and farther locations, including an exciting trip to Hungary to teach one class. He and another beautician owned five salons in Houston, which flourished.

Fuller attended classes to become a licensed real estate dealer. His sister taught him interior design for huge events, weddings and parties. His natural creativity and opulent decor attracted the rich and famous. When he tired of the rat race, he sold his place in the Heights and moved to Navasota where he bought three big, old homes on Washington Avenue. More parties and notoriety followed. When I asked him to recall a favorite event, he remembered the author from Paris who planned her wedding for the Navasota location: it took 18 months of international planning and preparation.

When Dwayne fell off a ladder he transformed his life. He could no longer care for three big mansions. He sold two of them, making life easier with space for 15 guests a night and 200 for events.

I asked what has made him so successful. His response was as eloquent as his funky décor. “You must consider the customers. Give them what they expect. Cleanliness. And you must love people.”

If you like stark hotel rooms, this is not the place for you. One night worked for us although when we visit again, we’ll try a bigger unit. If you want to see the results of many years as a hotelier with the collection of antiques, unusual knick-knacks, colorful combinations of paintings and art objects, you need to visit Bogarts. “I’m still having fun,” he laughs, as he invites us to return soon.

Onward

It was Super Bowl weekend and Chinese New Year.  Our impromptu planning reminds me that extensive planning is not always necessary. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to travel on the spur of the moment. Unexpected surprises await when least expected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unforgettable Canadians and the Quilt Barn Trail

Bow tie quilt block

A quilt block on an attorney’s office in Bonham

An updated report on the largest quilt barn trail in Texas.

We met on the square in the Chamber of Commerce office in Bonham, Texas to meet Marie, from McKinney, who had moved from Canada and her visitors, Steve and Judy, from Ontario, Canada. They wanted to see the largest quilt barn trail in Texas. I joined them for their tour. They had read about the trail in the Texas Electric Coop magazine. Judy is a quilter. I was an observer that day and author of the article. I tagged along to update information about the trail.

The Quilt Barn Trail

A quilt barn block is exactly that: a colorful quilt pattern block or geodesic design which is square, painted on wood or metal and hung on barns or other buildings. Downtown Bonham has 20 blocks on various buildings: for example, on a tire store, a law office, and a community building. Maps are available at the Chamber to assist visitors maneuver in town and in the countryside to find the lovely artwork.  Be sure to view the online video of the trail.

We met with Patti Wolf, the organizer and spokesperson for the quilt trail. The dismal sky did not deter Patti’s tour. Judy, Steve and Marie arrived a half an hour late as they took a wrong turn at road construction, ending in Kansas before they realized their error (actually Sherman, Texas).

Patti had time to drive us around, not a regular occurrence with her busy schedule. She gave background to the three Canadians and me before we left for a short walk to see nearby signs. Sure, the town honors their hero Sam Rayburn but the Texas Quilt Barn Trail offers visitors a new reason for a road trip.

Double-sided

A Double-Sided Quilt Block

The Jaunt

Patti invited us to ride in her new, huge truck to see the trail. If we made a video of climbing into the truck, it would have gone viral. We needed a ladder; however, Steve saved the day as his strong arms helped by pushing and jostling the three females into the back seat. We all giggled and grunted but we made it into that humongous back seat. He rode “shotgun.”

We enjoyed the ride with Patti’s strong, Texas twang filling in the blanks concerning the people and the quilt blocks. “This one used to be inside the fence, but they moved it outside so everyone can see it. The senior center has three quilt blocks.” Eagerly, Patti shared the news that the trail continues to grow like weeds in a flower garden. When I wrote the original article the quilt blocks numbered around 50, but rose to 120 in the past 18 months. I particularly like the one on Highway 78 that is different designs on each side.

quilt barn square

Beauty on a Barn

Lunch

Over lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant the threesome shared they would visit Gruene, Waco, Fredericksburg, and San Antonio. They toured Dallas before Bonham. Our group knew about signs on barns from living near the Amish and Mennonite barns close to their home and in the Northeast. The Texas quilt blocks rival or surpass the artwork in the Northeast.

Spring Is Around the Corner 

As we parted Marie called the tour “…a delightful day of discovery as we drove through the towns and countryside of Fannin County in search of each unique quilt pattern proudly crafted and displayed.” Judy commented that it was, “An informative and enjoyable day highlighted by true Texas hospitality.”

I urged the Canadians to return in the spring to enjoy the Texas wildflowers and clear, blue skies when they might be wearing parkas in Canada. Traveling offers surprises you cannot beat.

If you are looking for a travel treat, be sure to pick up a map at the Bonham Chamber to see the largest quilt barn block trail in the state of Texas. If you are from Canada or other country, maybe you, too, will get to ride in a big, new truck!

by Ruth Glover, Author of Gift of the Suitcase and Freelance Writer/Speaker

Reprinted with permission from the Roxton Progress Newspaper, Roxton, Texas (last names & group photo omitted in the reprint)

Volume 40, Number 8, January 19, 2017

 

Cool Place, Hot Location

Hotels are not the only place to stay! 

Quiet Moment

A Quiet Moment in the Midst of Christmas Week

We arrived in Houston on December 22 for our stay at the Domain at City Center  for eight days. The mammoth complex sits in the middle of Town and Country Village, as they call it. The price is about the same as a hotel room. We would be near our two sons and six grand-children. A son checked the model apartment beforehand to assure the reality of the online advertisement. “You’ll be claustrophobic in 750 square feet (not true), and the traffic, awful (true),” he reported. We signed the contract without knowing other aspects. The property is owned by an individual, not the leasing company.

Last year we stayed in Houston a month in a VRBO rental with three bedrooms and two baths. We thought the grand-children might visit us and stay overnight a few times. Didn’t happen.

Our dog presents an issue wherever we travel. Fargo is the perfect guest unless left alone. He’s quite good in a hotel room as long as we are with him. He barks incessantly with fear of abandonment if no one is with him. Over the six years we have owned him, we tried unsuccessful remedies to quiet his fierce barking. When he travels with us, we tend to eat in our hotel or motel room. If it’s cold enough, he stays in the car while we rush through dinners. In Houston we could deposit his blanket, dishes, leash, and bad habit with either family. The barking, little thirteen-pound beast, loves the grand-kids and grand-dogs.  On this trip we ate with family much of the time.

Watching cars

I wanna watch cars, Dad!

The Condo

The condo contained everything we needed, even a little balcony above a garden. The owner left coffee, salt, pepper, bottled water, garbage bags, soap for the dishwasher…even kitchen shears for us.  The furniture and decorations probably came from Ikea. Everything was comfortable, even the bed, which is not always the case with furnished rental properties.

Other positives included a parking place (quite small) on the same floor as our rental and a dog park! I didn’t think Fargo would like the phony grass but he loved it. He and I walked around the condo grounds and hiked the neighborhood of office and condo buildings. I never let him off-lease except in the dog park. One day he and I made 10,000+ steps according to my FIT. Other amenities in the building: a meeting area with coffee, an outdoor pool, an exercise room, and outdoor grills.

Shops and Restaurant

the plaza

The Plaza-food, music, strollers, shops

Gourmet restaurants line the streets, along with retail shops and other businesses. One night I purchased carry-out from a high-end Mexican restaurant a few steps outside our building. Another night we had designer pizza and salad from a restaurant by the plaza across from us. At night musicians performed there. Recognizable brands abound. How about Sur la Table, Abercrombie & Fitch, Ulta, and Barnes and Noble? A grocery and a pharmacy are “walkable,” although maybe not when it’s over 100 degrees. Christmas Day the temperature hit 82 degrees.

Other Properties

This is our fourth “VBRO” or Vacation Rental by Owner.* VRBOs are great for a long or short stay. They are not quite like home but certainly more exciting than a boring and expensive hotel. Our short stay this year will lead to more travel. It’s so much fun to try someone else’s home or condo, especially in such a hot place in a cool location.

*VRBO or Vacation Rental By Owner is part of the Homeaway conglomerate owned by Expedia.

Loving Others

Valentine

Smile. It’s contagious. Photo by R. Glover

 

February is the traditional month we think about love. Our new President scares the “snot” right out of some. We need to love and pray for our government and leaders. I don’t want to get preachy, but, doggonit, smiling is better than frowning. Wringing our hands is not fruitful. Nasty, rude comments solve nothing.

Christian religion says, “Give it to God.” Sometimes that seems the only or best answer. We cannot help the angry police officer who is wiping spit off his face from an accused predator.  We cannot help the jerk who cuts in front of us on a busy highway. We cannot help the pilot when the plane is late. But…we can try more thoughtfulness before responding in a heated conversation. Helping others soothes the soul but fear brings a raft of emotions.

Subways

statue of liberty

Statue of Liberty from the Harbor by R. Glover

Before I visited New York City last year I feared conquering the subways. Would someone accost me? Rip my backpack off? Would I become confused traveling to the theater? A friend assured me the New York City subways are safe, but I should not stay out late. I looked at the subway map and nausea enveloped me.

The doorman at the hotel, where we stayed near Washington Park, helped me understand the reality of “uptown” and “downtown,” along with suggestions for taking the A-line or B-line for best results. His kindness and raucous laughter assuaged my fear. Only later did a recall managing the subways in France when I was 21 years-old.

Success

Never got lost! Had a great time. Glad I overcame my fear.

Fear

The French suffer a reputation for caustic communication. I know France is struggling with fear of foreigners. Many French Jews are moving (again) because of fear. Israel’s geography may change as the borders become unsafe for their citizens. The world is in chaos. Certainly, not the first or last time.

Eiffel Tower

Under the Eiffel Tower-Photo by R. McMichael

Love One Another

What can we do? We must love one another. We must try to understand and cope when our values are diverse. Each day let’s concentrate on kindness to others. At the end of each day where did we deposit kindness? At the very least, show respect.

It’s February. Hug a friend. Send a note to a neglected relative. Love others. Respect diversity and value difference. It can only make the world a better place to live.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Peace Be with Us.

Hot Rods and Hot Glass

Introduction

Parabelle Glass Paperweight

Parabelle Paperweight-Gary Scrutton

Photo by T. Glover

On a visit to Portland, Oregon a few years ago I met Gary Scrutton, his wife, daughter and a grandson. He welcomed us to his garage workshop in Sellwood, a neighborhood in Southeast Portland. Gary’s last endeavor, restoring hot rods, kept him as busy as his former business, making paperweights. He and his lovely wife took time to share their story with me. Afterwards I wrote an article about his life for an online news service. Here’s the story, slightly revised:

A Glazier

As a teenager, Gary Scrutton thought he’d build hot rods, dreaming, as many young people do. But by the time he reached 23, his family of six needed a better income.

Gary served an apprenticeship in the glazier industry. Glaziers cut and fit window glass for residential and commercial use. By age 42, with his family grown, he    wanted to try working with glass in new ways. While reading about glass art, paperweights caught his attention, taking his breath away with their beauty. When he watched a paperweight being produced by Clichy of France, he felt as if one of the glass orbits hit him on the head. He became obsessed. He experimented with various colors of glass, studying the chemistry and physics of glass making. Concentrating on the historic time between 1840 and1855, he studied the famous European artists in detail. His boss told him he would never learn the art of making paperweights. Gary took the challenge. He quit his job to develop Parabelle Glass, his new business. Friends and family thought he was crazy.

Sweet Success

Gary remained stalwart in his belief he could master the art. He made the glass himself, mixed his own chemicals for perfect color, designed the products and purchased the necessary equipment. Doris, the loving, but worried wife, labored beside him, assuring the bills were paid. Gary gave his first paperweight to his former boss two years after quitting.

Two relatives offered to help him sell the weights. When Larry Selman, the premier dealer for paperweights, discovered Gary’s talent, the rest is history. Doris, his wife, ran the business while Julie, one of his grown children, assisted with the production. They named the company Parabelle Glass. He earned more than a good living.

Back to the Future

Alas, after 14 years of physically demanding work in a heat-filled studio, Gary retired. His work continues to be available through the L.H.Selman studio, now in Chicago, a premier paperweight dealer. When Gary closed his shop, he devoted time to a former passion: he refurbishes hot rods. The fire in his heart for hot rods never died, although he will be remembered in the art world for many generations for his paperweights.

Addendum

Sadly, Doris Scrutton died in 2013. She and Gary were married for 57 years. He died a few months later in February 2014. I am proud I met his family and him. I am glad I met them, and I am the proud owner of two of his weights.

 

 

 

 

 

A Passion for Performance

Robin Read’s Performers Add Joy to the Christmas Season

SONY DSC

Robin Read

Everyone in the tiny town in upper New York state knew little Robin. In elementary school, she decided to be a singer. Family encouraged her. At age 13 she trotted off to the Seagle Music Colony, the oldest summer vocal training program in the United States, probably the youngest person to attend this program.  Here, she learned about set building, make up, costuming and  took part in plays, musicals and operas.

When she graduated from high school in the largest class ever (33 students), she found a path to Texas, as she hated snow. While attending Texas Christian University she majored in Music Performance and continued to build her performance and production skills . Voice and performance brought attention from renown artists and professors.

Her Journey

Robin Read’s history, rich with stories of success, delivers a message of hard work, business savvy and gutsiness. Immediately after college, she married a photographer who taught her the importance of accounting, operations, along with the mechanics and dynamics of photography.

Divorced after 15 years of marriage, she returned to her dreams. At her first audition after her hiatus she pretended confidence with fear rumbling in her stomach. She won the role, leading to admiration from many in the industry with her peppy personality, acting ability and technical talent. Her theatrical acumen kept her busy with minor and leading film roles. She’s been on the same set with Brad Pitt and Sean Penn and starred as the leading lady for many theatrical performances.  Robin’s entrepreneurial spirit led to voice-overs, commercials, television, film and theater, preventing any “starving artist” experiences.

Robin Buys Holiday Cheer Entertainment

About 20 years ago she joined a singing group, Holiday Cheer Entertainment company, with other trained

Christmas Cheer Singers

Victorian Costumes for Crisp Christmas Weather

singers who perform during the holidays for tree lightings, corporate parties, elevator lobbies, and other venues. Sometimes they sang at elegant, private, holiday parties. Other times they sang outdoors, waiting in the wind and weather for Santa to arrive.

Four years ago the lady who founded the Dallas based group decided to sell. When she asked Robin to purchase the group, Robin thought, Work from home? Flexible schedule? Singing gigs? Christmas joy and cheer for others? Remarkable Robin took the risk.

She loves holiday music, customizing each performance on the spot. For example, if the crowd resonates with children’s laughter, they quickly switch from “Silent Night” to “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

During the holiday season, life becomes overwhelming, as she is a control freak, a big reason for her success. Before she signs a contract to send a group (usually three to eight singers), the individuals must commit to the event. She chooses the specialized singers based on personality, location, and type of event. Customers return year after year because of her consistent attention to detail.

Off Season

In the off season the singers continue to meet, but not as often. Since she participates in the groups, she understands singing “White Christmas” can cause frigid fingers. She has lined the capes they wear and added hoods. They wear gloves. Who knew owning the group would require her expertise in sewing? She copes with the myriad of staffing issues, such as the mom with a teenager who was rear-ended on the highway, recent divorces, and sudden bouts of laryngitis. She indicated, “My singers are like family. Most of us have been together for years.” She hires, coordinates the schedules, bills the clients, pays the singers, and warms cold hands. She upgrades costumes during the summer, storing them in a special room in her home.

The Rewards

Although her singing groups are paid, it’s not the money that keeps them singing to hustling crowds. The joy she and her singers see as the crowds sing with them, whose faces reflect memories from long ago, and the wide-eyed children which fills the crisp air with cheer. When she chose singing for a career, she had no expectations for the rich rewards she would find bringing holiday happiness to crowds.

Watch for her at a tree lighting or on a street corner with her classically trained, enthusiastic choirs or quartets in their Victorian costumes. Like her on FaceBook Holiday Cheer Entertainment or visit her website to see upcoming events and watch her upcoming company growth. She is adding weddings, birthdays, and other holidays to the repertoire in the future.

The world offers opportunity in the arts for jobs and businesses; however, it takes long hours, hard work, risk taking, revenue building, and talent. Robin Read and Holiday Cheer Entertainment demonstrate careers in singing are possible, but it doesn’t happen without passion and performance. Being an accomplished singer is not enough. A singer without performance is like a writer without readers.

 

 

 

 

Hints for the Holidays

…Helpful hints for the holidays.

Fall dining table

Thanksgiving Table

As I thought about the November issue of Roving Ruth, I wondered how my friends cope with the chaos and pace of the holidays. How can we look serene when people arrive at the Thanksgiving and Christmas tables? Rather than research what others say online, I polled 25 of my friends to see what they would suggest to improve the holiday cheer.

I received ten responses: some sent short replies, all contained serious thought, and one response arrived from a male.  I’m sharing the best comments from each participant. The responses show kindness, wisdom, and humor devoted to our celebrations.

Themes

1) Buy a smaller tree which requires no help from others to trim.

2) Potluck parties.

3) Be kind to yourself; enjoy “time off” to relax.

4) Donate and volunteer.

I asked for two or three sentences and I received enough words for a short story or article.  I was stunned, pleased, and overwhelmed with how to use the insight wisely. Only one person responded with three sentences. I am sending her a small gift of appreciation for the ability to follow directions.

Best Christmas Poll Hints (in random order, slightly edited)

~Several years ago we decided in our extended family of twenty-four, to economize by starting one of those crazy gift exchanges. We created guidelines for letting each person bring one gift to exchange three times before the final stop. We use a pie tin and dice to keep things rolling with laughter and fun.

 ~I do not have family to celebrate with so I decorate the house early and invite my friends for a holiday party the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I am grateful I created my “family.” It sets the tone for the entire season.

 ~One thing I do each year is attend a holiday concert, play or other event with my immediate family or just my husband and I. It’s a brief respite from the chaos that otherwise ensues, and it gives us a few short hours to really enjoy each other’s company in the midst of a hectic time.

 ~I send relatives and friends a Christmas letter telling them we want their presence in our life, not presents.   

 ~I buy boxes of peppermint candy canes and keep them in my purse.  I give them to waitresses, cashiers, postal workers, or anyone I come in contact with…to remind them of the love and care that people still have in this world.  

 ~Now if you are Jewish this is a no brainer.  My sister and family would go to the malls and watch the people hurrying around and just enjoy the view!

 ~Buy a book for everyone on your shopping list or give them your book if they haven’t already read it.  It is so enjoyable. (My favorite, for some reason.)

The Winner of the Christmas Poll Hints

Wagon Wheel Antiques & Gifts Christmas Pole in Calico Rock, Arkansas

Wagon Wheel Antiques & Gifts
Christmas Pole in Calico Rock, Arkansas

Dale Wiley, long-time friend who lives in Florida, is the only man who took the time to answer the following question I posed in the email. In the email to my friends, I asked how to seek help from the spouse. His response resonates for all of us.

~It must be a guy thing about that Christmas tree and not being helpful. It’s not that we don’t want to see a nicely decorated Christmas tree or we don’t want to help. It is what a Christmas tree represents; that the Christmas season is really here again and in our minds it was here not that long ago. We are rarely ready for it to come again. Translation: Now we have to go shopping and there is no way out of this.

 The quote by Edna Ferber just might keep you and the rest of us sane. Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling.

 Thank you, Dale Wiley. Your Gift of the Suitcase (my latest book) is in the mail.

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and a Joyous New Year!

The December issue of Roving Ruth is in process.