Service as Self Care?


Have you ever thought about serving others as being a form of self-care?  I hadn’t either until a few years ago when I started volunteering with my children at Memphis Union Mission.  This led us to other service opportunities to serve as a family throughout the community.  The more we served, the more I realized that instead of being another thing to check off my to-do list, it had become something that we looked forward to and something that brought great joy to our hearts.  And that got me thinking, maybe there is something to this service over self-concept.  In a previous blog post, Is Self Care Selfish? I talked about the main reasons for investing in ourselves is so we will have something left to give others.  I think serving and giving to others fills us up in the same way.  Every single person is born with a desire to have our needs met first.  It is innate, part of our very DNA, a form of self-preservation.  But as we grow up, we begin to see the benefits and blessings of doing for others; or we should.  Sometimes we need a little reality check, a nudge in the serving direction, to help us realize those benefits and blessings.  That is what serving at Union Mission did for me.  And that is what moved me from serving out of a sense of obligation into serving from a place of joy and gratitude.


Today, January 20th, 2020, marks the 25th anniversary of The Day of Service. MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. Their motto is”Make it a day on not a day off” and explains the heart of the mission.  It was begun as an opportunity to commemorate Dr. King’s legacy through volunteerism, something that Dr. King believed strongly in.  All across the nation, people volunteer their time and talents to honor the memory of a man who gave so freely of himself.


While it may be too late for you to get involved in one of the many service projects going on around your community today, It is never too late to commit to serving.  No matter your age, physical condition, or amount of time you have to give, there is somewhere for you to give back to your city.  Do you have a heart for children?  Volunteer to read in a local school.  Or if you want to go a little deeper, with just an hour a week, you can help children all around the community strengthen and expand their reading skills with the Arise2Read program.  How about our senior citizens around town?  They are often an overlooked area of need.  Volunteering your time in an adult daycare facility for Alzheimer’s patients such as Page Robbins Adult Daycare Center.  Or MIFA’s amazing program Meals on Wheels delivering meals to those most vulnerable.  If physical activity is more your style, Clean Memphis has many ongoing projects around town.  Are you an animal lover?  Local shelters are always looking for people to love the animals in their care. There are even opportunities for shy introverts. Little Free Library is an amazing program that shares books throughout our community via small boxes that are made to look like storefronts.    Merge Memphis operates Little Free Pantries all around town modeled after the same concept as the Little Free Library.   For a more comprehensive list of opportunities, go to Volunteer Odyssey


The most important thing is to just do something,  No matter how much time you have to give, you can be of use to someone.  If you have children, get them involved.  Make it a family activity.  We really were made to help our fellow man, to foster feelings of community and camaraderie by stepping in and lending a hand to those who have stumbled or fallen. I think you will find it is one of the best forms of self-care there is.

A Schwab’s…A Memphis Landmark


A. Schwab’s located on historic Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee,  has seen a lot of changes out its front window, a whole lot of changes.  Opened in 1876 by Abraham Schwab, it has the distinction of being the only original business still in operation on Beale Street, and, possibly, the oldest family-owned general store in the mid-south.  The family business was originally located right up the street and moved to its current location in 1912.  In 1924, it expanded into the building to the left of the main doorway, which had been occupied by I. Goldsmith’s and Brothers (the predecessor of Goldsmith’s Department Store).  The beautiful brick buildings were built in 1865.


When you step inside its doors, you are immediately transported to a different time, a simpler time.  The creaky wooden floors, glass display cases, and tin roof are reminiscent of the original Beale Street of years gone by.  But the going hasn’t been easy for the iconic store.  In the mid-seventies, with traffic on Beale at an all-time low, the family began a museum within the store to pay homage to the rich history of the street and area they called home.  0C3680A0-CE1E-4A90-97C4-D1B589FE6D24_1_201_a.jpeg

The museum includes many relics of Memphis history.  From farming tools to washboards and household items, original blues records, and even a carriage warmer, the museum is a visual history of Memphis and the Delta region through the years.  But it isn’t just about the past at Schwab’s.  The store has adapted and changed with the times. In the 1980s, the store played an essential role in the revitalization of the community and the street.  Once again, visitors young and old begin to stream through the doors and discover the wonders inside.  Wonders like a fully stocked old fashioned candy counter with all your favorites from your childhood represented.


Are you looking for a pair of Elvis Pajamas?  They have you covered, complete with an Elvis pillow.  How about suspenders?  Schwab’s carries over 100 different kinds. A galvanized Maid-Rite washboard and bar of homemade lye soap are located just across the aisle from an extensive collection of kazoos and harmonicas.  Books about Memphis history line a table that is right beside the largest collections of hats I have ever seen in one place.


I am always amazed at how many locals have never walked through the doors of this treasured landmark.  Children love the selection of retro-inspired wind-up tin toys, yo-yos, and slingshots.  A very nice change of pace from the ever-growing diet of video games most of them are used to. There are plenty of Memphis, souvenirs too.  From T-shirts to post-cards, key-chains, and bumper stickers, Schwab’s is one of the city’s biggest fans.


In 2013, Schwab’s made another addition to the store, a retro soda fountain.  With its 50-foot white marble counter and vintage stools, it is the perfect place to sit and watch the people walking up and down the historic street.  Want a simple ice-cream cone?  They have you covered.  But the soda fountain also creates and mixes their own syrups for delish and unique sodas and shakes.



After being in the Schwab family for 136 years, the torch was passed to new owners in 2011.  But do not fear, the new owners are dedicated to preserving the rich history found within the walls of the store.  So next time your kids have a day out of school, or you have an unexpected free Saturday, head downtown, and be a tourist in your hometown, I have a feeling you will be pleasantly surprised.

American Queen


The American Queen will be docked at Beale Street Landing on Sunday, January 12th…and it is something to see! Built in 1995, it is a 6 deck recreation of a Mississippi riverboat. At 418 feet long and 89 feet long it has a capacity of 436 guests and a crew of 160 with 222 staterooms…in other words, this is a big boat! Riverboats are scheduled to dock at Beale Street landing over 100 times in 2020 with overnight guests adding close to $100 million into the city coffers in the form of tourism spending.  That’s a big economic impact!!! To read more about the beauty click on the link below, and if you happen to be near downtown, don’t miss a chance to see it in person!!


Fear…and Letting Go


Autumn shows us 

how beautiful it is to

let things go.


I thought I was done with it. The knots in your stomach. Shortness of breath. Heart palpitations. Fear. Anxiety, Fight, or flight. I lived with it for a long time. Then I got divorced and realized I was giving my power away. I was not a victim and needed to stop living like one. Ever so slowly, I began to gain self-confidence, to believe in myself and believe that I did matter and that my photographs and my words mattered. It was a slow process, but it was a process, and I was proud of myself for the first time in a very long time. And I began to breathe deeper, and relax and enjoy this life that I was creating. And I was able to compartmentalize the bad stuff from the past, and push it way far back in my mind, and concentrate on the present and even begin to look forward to the future. Something I hadn’t done in a very long time. Sure there were bumps, and times I felt overwhelmed, but all in all, I felt strong. And then suddenly, with the push of a button on a computer, all of that positive self-talk, all the confidence, all the strength, it was gone.


All because of an anonymous comment left on this blog. Well, actually several comments, but that first one, it did the trick. And just like that, I tucked my tail between my legs and ran. I gave them my power, something I never thought I would find myself doing again. All the hard work, all the therapy, all the journaling exercises, all of it….gone. And because this is where the comments came from, I logged out of this site and told myself I would never put my self out there again. It just wasn’t worth it. I would just stay in my little corner and not venture out anywhere ever again. And that would stop all those horrible feelings from taking over my life again. The end.


The problem is it didn’t work that way. I still felt those feelings, and now, as an added bonus, I had guilt and shame thrown in for good measure. Because I had preached the message of strength and power, and self-care and independence. And I was a fraud and a failure. An imposter acting like I was something that I wasn’t. All the old voices started whispering in my ear once more….no one wants to read what you write, you have no talent, you are divorced, a single mom, you are ruining your kids because broken homes produce broken children, YOU ARE A FAILURE.


So I let that tape play in my head over and over. For 3 months. No matter what I did, I couldn’t turn the tape off. And it took my sparkle, my joy. I gave my power away and let myself become a victim once again. I did this, not the person who left the comments, I allowed it to happen. Because I chose to believe the lies. Old habits die hard, don’t they? It’s kinda like that old pair of shoes in your closet, you know they look bad, and they are worn out, but they are COMFORTABLE. You are used to them. So you default back to them, even though you have other shoes, new shoes that look so much better, you continue to choose them because they are what you have chosen for years. And you shuffle through life in your broken down shoes resenting the people who “did this to you.” But the trouble with that is that no one “did it to you.” No one did it to me. I allowed someone to take my joy. And I allowed fear to rule once more. But today, I am choosing to take that power back, to change shoes even if the new ones feel strange and shaky. And instead of guilt and shame, I am choosing to give myself grace and understanding. Because old habits do die hard, and it’s in the everyday choices that the victory is finally won. And you will fall down, sometimes it’s just a stubbed toe, other times it is a full-fledged splat on the pavement kind of fall. But each and every time you have a choice, a choice to either pick yourself up, dust yourself off and put one foot in front of the other, or the choice to lay there and blame everyone for the hand you have been dealt. Baby steps…and for today, that’s enough.



Teaching My Kids To Love Their City


I have lived in Memphis my entire life but never took the time to really see my city. Over the past few years, I have made it a point to change that.

My children and I have explored our city like travelers, mostly afternoons and weekends.

The National Civil Rights Museum ignited our desire to learn more about the pioneers in the movement. Stax and Sun studios made us want to know more about the rich Memphis music history.

We were captivated by the views from the Ornamental Metal Museum, Big River Crossing, the top of The Peabody and the top of Clark Tower.

We explored the trails of Lichterman Nature Center, the River Walk at Mud Island, and Shelby Farms. Woodland Discovery Playground is the kind of place I dreamed of when I was a kid.

We tailgated on Tiger Lane and cheered the Redbirds in beautiful AutoZone Park. We danced to free music as Levitt Shell and watched the free duck march at The Peabody.

My favorite part of our exploring has been learning the history of buildings that make up our downtown and sharing that history with my kids.

I shared my memories of shopping downtown at Goldsmith’s. I explained a bit about Memphis history as we explored the Cotton Exchange, Court Square, and Civic Center Plaza.

I knew I had instilled my love of the downtown buildings when were at AutoZone Park and my 11-year-old excitedly pointed to a building and said, “Look Mom, it’s the Sterick Building, The Queen of Memphis!”

Jerry’s SnowCones


Foodie Friday Sno Cone style! Legend has it that back in the 1930s a Sinclair gas station was located somewhere around 1657 Wells Station Rd. These same legends state that the owner of this gas station would make snow cones for kids while their parents had their cars worked on. Like all good legends, the lines of truth and tale are blurred about these early years, however, the next part of the story we know to be true. After the Sinclair station closed in the late ’60s a wonderful couple names L.B and Cordia bought the building and turned it into a car wash and snow cone shack…and the rest is history! After a director who was in town filming ”Great Balls of Fire” ran across the unique building, he asked if a scene from the movie could be filmed there. That’s when the word really began to spread, and Jerry’s became a destination for both locals and out of towners alike. They like to say they didn’t invent the snow cone; just their ”World Famous Snow Cone Supreme”…think ice cream meets snow cone with a dash of pixie dust and unicorn tears…yes it is that good!! With flavors like Electric Slide, John Deere, Toxic Waste and my personal favorite, Wedding Cake, you can’t go wrong! They also serve great burgers! Jerry’s Sno Cone opened a second location in Cordova last year at 1601 Bonnie Lane. Summer hours are 11 am to 9 pm Monday-Saturday, and they are CASH ONLY. And don’t let the lines discourage you, I promise they are worth the wait!

Are You a Wildflower or a Weed?


Do you think the weeds on the side of the road ever stop mid-bloom and think “Man I wish I was a rose…I could make such a difference in the world if I had just been born a rose.”  Personally, I just don’t think that happens.

A weed is just an unloved flower.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I think these misunderstood beauties believe in themselves…they know the Creator painted them with just as much artistic beauty and love as He did the most prized rose in a rosarian’s collection.


Just watch the eyes of a child as he picks a bouquet of dandelions for his mother, all he sees is the beauty of the bloom.  These beautiful misunderstood flowers don’t compare themselves to the other “fancier” blooms.

What is a weed?  A plant whose virtues 

have not yet been discovered.

Ralph Waldo Emmerson

They don’t let society put a label on them.  They see their true worth and beauty all on their own, they need no one else to validate them.  They are content in their place on the side of the road, or in a field where cattle graze, or in a vacant lot…their ability to bloom is not contingent on their circumstance.  They thrive right where they are with infectious joy and abandon.


And in doing so, they bring so much beauty to places that generally don’t see a lot of beauty.  In sidewalk cracks and crevices, beside dumpsters, next to broken glass and down dark alleys.

One person’s weed is another person’s wildflower.

Susan Wittig Albert

I want to be more like that kind of flower.  I want to bloom with abandon wherever God plants me.  I don’t want to compare myself to the other flowers, the prettier fancier ones. I don’t want to wish my soil was smoother and that my surroundings were more beautiful.


I want to wake up each morning the single-minded goal of bringing glory and honor to my Creator.  To bring beauty and joy to my surroundings.  To not spend my precious few days on this earth wishing I was something more, something more significant.

The difference between a flower and a weed 

is a judgment.

I don’t want to let my self-worth be dictated by others.  I don’t want to wear the labels that others put on me; divorced, broken, useless, unwanted, sinner, unloved.  I want to be like these amazingly resilient beauties that keep their eyes towards the heavens because that is where their self-worth originates.


This is hard in a social media-saturated world.  I see the beautiful award-winning gardens that others call home.  The meticulously cultivated soil, the perfect climate controlled greenhouse, and I want that world. That world looks much more exciting, sometimes much easier than the place God has planted me.  But it’s not.  Because no matter what I think on the hardest of hard days, the soil I am planted in is absolutely hand-picked and cultivated by my Creator to bring out the best blooms that I am capable of.  I am my Father’s favorite wildflower!

In a world of roses, she chose to be a dandelion.

Sarah Beth McClure


Shelby Forest General Store


 Opened in 1934 by Emmett and Dixie Jeter, Shelby Forest General began its long and storied history as a dry goods store. As the years passed, a grill was added and the store became a gathering place for area residents who came to hear the local gossip as well as partake in the delicious food. Owners Doug and Kristin Ammons began the legendary Friday Night Steak Night around 14 years ago with a single banjo picker providing music. These days it’s not unusual to have 8-10 musicians playing bluegrass on any given Friday night. The store is located at 7729 Benjestown Road in Millington(right across the street from Justin Timberlake’s elementary school😊)and opens at 6am 363 days a year. Click on the link below for a full menu and hours of operation…I hear the fried bologna sandwich is the best you’ll ever have!


Shelby Forest


Meemen-Shelby Forest State Park began in the 1930s as part of the New Deal recreation areas of the National Park Service. Named after former Memphis newspaper editor Edward J. Meeman, the park contains 13,467 acres of hardwood bottomland that borders the Mississippi River. It is the most visited state park in Tennessee! And for good reason! The park has two lakes, perfect for fishing or boating. There are canoes, kayaks, tandem kayaks, and paddle boards. You can also bring your own boat. There is a free launch ramp on the Mississippi River. It is the home of one of the largest disc golf courses in the southeast…two 18-hole wooded courses. There are more than 20 miles of hiking trails that wind throughout the park. There is an eight and one half mile Horse Trail(bring your own horse though 😊) and a 5-mile mountain bike trail. There are 6 newly renovated cabins along the shore of Poplar Tree Lake. Each cabin can sleep up to 6 people and have a fully equipped kitchen…and firewood supplied in the winter! There are 49 campsites each equipped with table, grill, electric and water hookups. Now do you see why it is the most visited state park in Tenneasee?!

The Legacy of the Lorraine


The National Civil Rights Museum had its humble beginnings as a 16 room hotel named The Windsorlorrine in 1925. After purchasing the hotel on 1945, Walter Bailey changed the name to the Lorraine Motel. After the King assassination, the hotel fell into disrepair and was in foreclosure in December 1982. It was purchased on the courthouse steps for $144,000 and finally closed as a functioning hotel/boarding house on March 2, 1988. It reopened in 1991 as The National Civil Rights Museum. With interactive exhibits, this museum is a learning experience for all ages. The museum is open from 9-6 every day but Tuesday. Tennessee residents with a state-issued ID may visit the museum for FREE every Monday from 3pm until closing. To read more about the museum click on the link below.