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It was late in my life when I realized I was looking for that special place to live. I wondered what it would be like. Never thought it could actually be a place that would make me feel “at home” until I found it.

A few years ago, someone I knew only briefly and once when he hugged me…a long warm, holding me in his arms hug. There was something I never felt before, at home in his arms. Didn’t know then it was a hint of something to come…no not him, but something more.

I lived in Michigan, Florida, Ireland, Georgia, California, and back to Georgia. It’s a long story. Just know that I have never felt at home in either place.

A few years ago I decided to check out a city two hours from where I currently live as a possible place to get away now and then. The first day I went there to its downtown area, with a river running through it under the Main Street bridge, the beautiful river walk, a waterfall, and a park. The downtown has wonderful art studios and galleries, shops and restaurants. I had a great day there, and was amazed at how friendly the people were.
I knew that it was a good place to make get away day trips.

With each trip I took lots of photographs and told friends here in Georgia about my experiences…because they asked and wanted details. They asked if I would take them on one of my day trips.
I also heard the place had art festivals downtown, and decided to have a weekend trip about 3 months after I first started going there. I invited a friend to join me, as she had gone with me on a day trip and really liked it.
Each person I took on a day trip loved the place, and also experienced the same friendliness of the people.

Such a great place to have a break from routine, to get away, and an easy two hour drive. So, fairly frequently I would take a day trip, and weekend stays for each of the three special festivals of the year. As time went on I began to sense a peace wash over me as I got nearer. While there I would feel energized, motivated, inspired and a sense of endless possibilities for me. Every single time there someone would always stop start a conversation with me. Coffee from Starbucks and sitting at the café tables outside on Main Street near the bridge always made opportunities for more conversations with others. The next significant change in me was that each time I had to leave there and return here I would feel yukky (yes this is the only way I can describe that feeling) inside.

The biggest event was the day I was there, standing on the Main Street bridge looking over at the river when I realized this place was HOME.

I had been reading about this city and different things going on, I had started making friends, and then got involved in the TEDx events where I connected with a lot more people.

I have known for a long time now that it is truly where I belong. The reason Greenville, SC feels like HOME to me is that not only have I embraced the city and the people, but the people and the city have embraced me.
One of these days I will live in that special place for me; that I will call HOME for the rest of my life. Thank you, Greenville and all of your people who have embraced me and continue encouraging me to get there.

My Greenville…a few favorite photos taken by me at different times.

A Favorite View of the Reedy River and Falls (photo by Ann Marquette)

Favorite Resting Spot by the Reedy River (photo by Ann Marquette)

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Artwork in the Garden at Rowe by Ann Marquette

Ok, I know, I am nine days late getting this out.  No valid excuse.  But, here I am finally posting more of my trip…in case anyone is still interested, and if nothing else, I write this for myself. 

Day 2
After selecting my breakfast choices from the hotel’s continental breakfast bar I ate in my room while watching some of the Today Show.  Then it was time to pack up, make my travel cup of Starbucks Italian Roast extra bold instant coffee for the road.

Destination this day was a hotel in Bear, Delaware for the overnight rest.  It was a long drive including through D.C., some toll booths, over bridges, and through a tunnel or two before arriving around 6:20pm.  As I entered the lobby there was a musty smell, and what smelled like body odor!  I wanted a first floor room, but told the hotel was booked out for the weekend (this was a Thursday evening), so my room was on the 3rd floor.  By the way, this hotel was not in a great area and the only visible nearby place to get a meal was across the highway.  If I had only arrived before 6pm I could have cancelled my booking at no cost.  So I had to stay there.  I got to my room and found it hot and smelly from the heat.  I had to turn on the AC full blast for it to cool down and get rid of the smell, which took about an hour.  I had hoped to relax that night by watching the season finale of Touch.  Wouldn’t you know, they were having issues with their cable and three of the stations were not working.  Of course, the one I wanted to watch was one of them.  Eventually I feel asleep on the little couch.

Day 3
This was the final day to reach the end of my 1,000 plus miles with many stops for potty breaks, stretching my legs, getting gas, and the occasional meal.  I am grateful to Laurie Buchanan’s blog Speaking from the Heart post about her favorite writing tool, her squishy buns.  http://holessence.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/squishy-buns-my-favorite-writing-tool/    It was just what I needed for such a long drive.  I went to www.gelcoproducts.com and purchased one of their Gel Seats.  What a great product.   It helped me to sit straighter and more comfortably.  And, for the first time after sitting in the car for long periods I did not feel stiff at all when I got out.

Yippee, this was the day to arrive at my real destination…the Rowe Camp & Conference Center in the Berkshire Mountains for the weekend writers’ retreat/workshop.  Registration was 4-7 PM on this Friday, June 1st.  With hors d’oeuvres starting at 6 PM I wanted to be there in time to get settled and join in the networking and snacks J  Do you think it was food on my mind?

I made it up the mountain, arriving at Rowe Camp & Conference Center just before 5 PM.

Entrance to Rowe Farmhouse by Ann Marquette

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As you now know, my Personal Time Away was not just retreating away from Facebook, my blog, and emails.  It was a literal journey to attend The Sun Magazine writers retreat in the Berkshire Mountains of Rowe, Ma.  I actually drove over 1,000 miles each way, dividing it up into three days.  Part of my reason for driving and taking my time was so I could stop along the way and visit a friend in North Carolina, and my cousin in Maryland.  I did stop overnight in Greenville, SC on the return journey.

I actually took a digital note recorder so I could record some details and my thoughts along the way. Now I can go back, listen to them and see if anything worth adding to my posts about this journey.

Wednesday morning, May 30th I packed up my 4Runner and headed out around 9am, with my cup of Starbucks.  It is a lovely sunny day with a few white clouds in the sky.  I prayed for a safe and easy drive; and I knew I had others praying for me during this journey.

Somewhere near 11:30 am I stopped off in Greenville SC where I filled up the tank at Sam’s Club for $3.06 a gallon.   Then I went to Whole Foods and got a light lunch, which I ate there before going across the street to get a Starbucks refill for the road.  Before starting off again I activated the GPS unit loaned to me by Denise from work.  I set the destination for the hotel address in Greensboro NC where I was staying over for the night.  This gave me the opportunity to visit Peggy, a dear lady friend who recently turned 92.

I arrived at the hotel late afternoon, checked in and asked the receptionist where she would recommend for dinner.  She told me Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill right next door was really good.  So off I went…and wow!  What a great restaurant, with unique decor and great food.

Then it was off to spend some time with Peggy.  We had not seen each other for a few years and although she now lives in assisted living and has some difficulty with memory she looks great.  She did remember me when I walked in and we had a very nice visit.  Such a sweet lady.  Wish I didn’t live so far away from her so I could visit more often.

That was day one of the journey.  Now on this day of writing it is late and time to close up for the night.

Darryl’s Table Ad by ann marquette

Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill by ann marquette

 

The Carousel Table by Ann Marquette

 

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My “Time Away for Personal Retreat”…

I was away from May 30th to June 6th to attend The Sun Magazine Writers’ Retreat (workshop) in Rowe, MA.  It was a great experience and I will write more about it over the next few days.

I worked Thursday and Friday in addition to doing some catch up on my to-do list. Yesterday I spent some time alone at my outdoor office/reading room (Starbucks next to Barnes & Noble).  I got back into the book “When the Heart Waits” by Sue Monk Kidd.  It was a nice break.

On the way back to the house I sensed a shift in my internal transitions and maybe a quieter me.  My mind went into a clear reality that yes I have a few friends here, but the huge hole for me…I have never felt at home in this place.  I do like and care for my friends here.  They are good people.  And the people I work with at my part-time job are wonderful.

Still, I wonder what’s next as I walk this path.

I notice God’s hand in my life in the changes taking place within me, and in various areas of my life.  I am calmer as I take each step along the path, and excited anticipating His next surprise for me. I am grateful for all His many blessings.

I look forward to recalling and sharing my nine day adventure with you.

Rowe Farmhouse by Ann Marquette

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Happy Sunday everyone.  I hope you all had a great weekend.

This morning, as I usually do, I watched and “listened” to Dr. Charles Stanley of InTouch.  The topic today was “Victory over Rejection.”  He talked about the various ways we have felt rejected in our lives, even words from our parents, friends, loved ones.  He reminds us that we need to remember that we are God’s child and He loves us unconditionally; and that He knows us to be so worthy that He gave his only son to die for us.

A comment my mother said many times to me when I was a child still haunts me.  What has haunted you?  Do you ever feel invisible (rejected)?  This is worth hearing for yourself…http://www.intouch.org/

The daughter of a friend of mine came by to tell me about the various knives and other kitchen tools by Cutco which are made in the U.S. and amazing quality.  She is doing this to earn money to help pay for a special summer physics course she is taking before starting her 2nd year at a university in North Carolina.  She did a great job in her presentation.

Then I went to my outdoor office, a table outside Starbucks, where I read and write.  Occasionally I catch up with my brother or a friend by phone, as I did today when a friend called.  Always enjoyable having conversations with friends, even if by phone.

It was lovely out today until the sound of thunder made those of us sitting outside look up to see the darkening sky.  Once it got closer I headed back to the house.  On the way there was a big bolt of lightning…yikes!  I arrived safe, but it was raining pretty hard.  We needed the rain, and it saved me from having to water the new sod the landscapers put down recently.

A blessed day.

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Yellow tulip Русский: Желтый тюльпан

Yellow tulip (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few days ago I posted that I would be away, at least for a while.  I needed time alone, frequently in the dark, time to reflect on a recent issue that came up and my life in general.

At one point, a light came on in my mind and spirit.  I realized that the issue, bad as it was, that I was learning a lesson mostly unrelated to the issue.  It strengthened my reserve to be more disciplined and focused, to organize my time better in order to accomplish not just the daily things, but especially to do what God has been telling me to do…WRITE 🙂

I found a book in Barnes & Noble the other day titled “anything” by jennie allen (yes she spells it all with lower case).  It is about her journey and “the prayer that unlocked my God and my Soul.”   Although her website says it will be in stores Spring 2012, well it is Spring and it is in the stores.  http://jennieallen.com/projects/anything I also recommend you watch the 3 minute video clip on her site.

So, one afternoon I went to Starbucks, got a Grande coffee, and set out in the sunshine while I read and made notes as I remembered parts of my own life.

I will always be learning lessons, and aiming to be better…as a person, a friend, sister, volunteer, writer, blogger, in whatever capacity I am in this life, and mostly as one of God’s children.

I thank all of you who replied to my last post on April 10th with all your kind thoughts and encouragement.  YOU DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

I am so grateful for these times which make me look at my life, to know my faults and learn from them, to know that no matter how imperfect I am God loves me and sends others in my life who lift me up with their love and encouragement.

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It has been a lovely two days with sunshine, smiles, health, peace, joy, and friendship.

Although yesterday was one year since I put my house FOR SALE by owner sign up, and I was wondering if I should take it down or leave it up!  Hm!  Still don’t know, but I don’t feel moved to take it down…at least not yet!

I found out that the Cherry tree out front will be, among 10 others in this community, coming down this week.  They are way too big to be so close to the houses and will be replaced with something more appropriate.  I am glad because this tree causes a big mess out front for months.

Had the service come out and get two wasp nests down from high up front of the house.  I exercised and accomplished a few things before evening.  Then I met up with a friend for coffee at Starbucks.  Always a joy spending time with my friend.

The best part of these days are quiet time spent with God and in prayer.  And then the rest of the day turns out better.

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Last weekend throughout the St. Francis Fall for Greenville Festival I took lots of photos…not unusual for me 🙂  Sitting out front of Starbucks on Main St. I saw this adorable little girl.

Smiling Cutie photo by Ann Marquette

Clemson Cutie photo by Ann Marquette

Cutie between her parents photo by Ann Marquette

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This was yesterday’s Word Press topic.

It was late in my life when I realized I was looking for that special place to live. I wondered what it would be like. Never thought it could actually be a place that would make me feel “at home” until I found it.

A few years ago, someone I knew only briefly and once when he hugged me…a long warm, holding me in his arms hug. There was something I never felt before, at home in his arms. Didn’t know then it was a hint of something to come…no not him, but something more.

I lived in Michigan, Florida, Ireland, Georgia, California, and back to Georgia. It’s a long story. Just know that I have never felt at home in either place.

A few years ago I decided to check out a city two hours from where I currently live as a possible place to get away now and then. The first day I went there to its downtown area, with a river running through it under the Main Street bridge, the beautiful river walk, a waterfall, and a park. The downtown has wonderful art studios and galleries, shops and restaurants. I had a great day there, and was amazed at how friendly the people were.
I knew that it was a good place to make get away day trips 

With each trip I took lots of photographs and told friends here in Georgia about my experiences…because they asked and wanted details. They asked if I would take them on one of my day trips.
I also heard the place had art festivals downtown, and decided to have a weekend trip about 3 months after I first started going there. I invited a friend to join me, as she had gone with me on a day trip and really liked it.
Each person I took on a day trip loved the place, and also experienced the same friendliness of the people.

Such a great place to have a break from routine, to get away, and an easy two hour drive. So, fairly frequently I would take a day trip, and weekend stays for each of the three special festivals of the year. As time went on I began to sense a peace wash over me as I got nearer. While there I would feel energized, motivated, inspired and a sense of endless possibilities for me. Every single time there someone would always stop start a conversation with me. Coffee from Starbucks and sitting at the café tables outside on Main Street near the bridge always made opportunities for more conversations with others. The next significant change in me was that each time I had to leave there and return here I would feel yukky (yes this is the only way I can describe that feeling) inside.

The biggest event was the day I was there, standing on the Main Street bridge looking over at the river when I realized this place was HOME.

I had been reading about this city and different things going on, I had started making friends, and then got involved in the TEDx events where I connected with a lot more people.

I have known for a long time now that it is truly where I belong. The reason Greenville, SC feels like HOME to me is that not only have I embraced the city and the people, but the people and the city have embraced me.
One of these days I will live in that special place for me; that I will call HOME for the rest of my life. Thank you, Greenville and all of your people who have embraced me and continue encouraging me to get there.

My Greenville…a few favorite photos taken by me at different times.

A Favorite View of the Reedy River and Falls (photo by Ann Marquette)

 

Favorite Resting Spot by the Reedy River (photo by Ann Marquette)

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Starbucks in WashingtonDC

Image via Wikipedia - Starbucks in Washington DC

This afternoon I felt the urge to go to Barnes & Noble, get a Starbucks coffee and walk around the book store. I saw some things I would like to buy, but as I am watching finances and they are not needed I moved on. I wondered if there was something to buy for myself. I flipped through a few house magazines thinking I might get one to search for ideas for the future home I dream about. Nothing struck me as needing to spend the money for so I went to the bargain section ~ maybe something there!

Then my eyes fell on the book “When God Winks at You” by Squire Rushnell. On the front of the book it also reads “How God Speaks directly to you Through the Power of Coincidence” and I knew I was led to this message. It is full of stories, real stories of real people and how God answered their prayers; even their thoughts of wishes and dreams.

It is truly a book of stories reminding us to have faith, to become conscious of God’s messages to us…even through others. Yes I bought this book for myself.

I went outside to sit with my coffee and begin reading the stories in my new book. The very first story brought tears of joy to my heart. It blew me away and reminded me of some times when God winked at me. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

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