“Daunting Guests build character.”

   “When the going gets rough, the tough get going….” 🙂


Lets face it, everyone has their own, unique set of “hot buttons”, “trigger points” and “pet peeves.” What interrupts your blissful moments may not be what intrudes upon mine. (That’s a good thing isn’t it,  as if we all shared the same ‘annoyances’ this world would be even crazier to live in than it already is.) 🙂

When your BLISS is interrupted, you quickly remember phrases you had long time forgotten… ” What doesn’t  kill you makes you stronger” ,”Tough times never last, but tough people do,” and “When you come to the end of your rope , tie a knot and hang on.”  Somehow though, they do not bring instant relief to your “supposed crisis” at hand do they?

What do we do when these times of irritation take over? For example, I bet this has popcornhappened to quite a few of you before…You are sitting in the Movie theater,  buttered popcorn and Diet Coke in hand, ( your Good and plenty’s and Snickers bar tucked neatly in your coat pocket and the big screen lights up… (You have not been out for a while so you are thoroughly enjoying the previews as you can plan which upcoming  movies you want to see.) Ah…your long awaited movie begins… suddenly you realize that you have a Siskel and Ebert  JR. sitting behind you, writing up their critiques of the movie, but instead of using a pen and paper , they are using their mouths, talking to each other out loud,ruining your ability to concentrate on your suspense-thriller movie. bug102If that is not bad enough… the woman in front of you, (oh and I forgot to tell you, the movie is sold out, there is not an empty seat with in the theater,) has a cell phone that is not only ringing, but the light is going off and can you believe it, she answers her phone call and begins a friendly chat with her caller. It just ruins everything, especially that wondrous, blissful feeling that has been flooding your soul. Now, you are totally agitated, feeling like someone has robbed you of your ” rejuvenating day out” and have to decide “What do I do?”
That is the big question isn’t it? What do we do when these things happen?  For me, I first try to stop what ever is happening so I can try to get back to that place of bliss, but the problem is , sometimes you cant just make it all go away, thus, I sum it up to one of those times in my life that God is  either going to use to build some character within me, change a part of me that needs to be changed or bless me with a new virtue...patience, (be prepared if your asking Him for that one,) perseverance, understanding, grace and then, of course there is  Flexibility…(Don’t you just love learning that one?)  🙂

This vignette is about a time in Kits and my life, (that to some may seem like nothing,)  where  we had to face one of our fears… After it was all  over and I shared it with someone in my life I really respect and admire, they said to me;  “Susan, I could not have stayed like you and Kit did…that is one of my worst fears.”  Thus, it made me feel good that we did stick it out and allowed the “disturbance” to give us a little ‘muscle character.”  🙂  You can tell me what you would have done… Before you start reading, just make sure you do have a can of raid in the house…

BEFORE WE GO TO THE KIND OF ‘SCARY PART,’ HERE ARE A FEW GREAT QUOTES, (creatively done,)  of encouragement to help you HOLD on, when the road your traveling embodies a few “Potholes.”  🙂


















Terrestrial invertebrates “Go Home.”  

     Where did this ‘bug anecdote’ take place? In a small town in South Carolina, on my cousin’s resplendent two acre property out in the country.

My husband  Kit and I, along with Grantham, our 125 pound Briard , were staying with my cousin Mike and his family in their large, lovely Pre-Civil War home in the Carolinas. We had just relocated to the area and they had a little two bedroom apartment nestled near the woods in back of their home, they offered to us free of charge, to help us get on our feet financially. We were delighted as we adored the South with all it’s historic charm and were so thrilled to be near all my cousin’s once again.

Beautiful Southern Home

     Before we moved into this warehouse apartment, we had already been reminded of the ‘bugs’ in South Carolina. Several times, while staying in what we all called ‘the big house’ with Mike and his family, scurrying across the shiny hardwood floors, I would see a ‘squirm evoking’ critter making it’s way to the other side of the room. This monstrosity of a vermin was none other than the famous Palmetto bug. Now, they name this bug after their state because…? I can not fathom the reason. It is by far the ugliest bug I have ever seen.  Let’s call it what it is, a large, grotesque sewer roach as we called them in Arizona.

These light weight, pint sized creatures,  would pop up out of nowhere, on the walls, on window shades and believe it or not,  one even crawled up and joined me at the table while enjoying my morning cup of coffee. So I asked my cousin and his wife Ellie calmly;

“When Kit and I move into the apartment out back, (which was connected to an immense warehouse garage), will we be experiencing any Palmetto bugs there?”

“Probably so, but they should not be that bad.” Ellie replied as she knew first hand,  being that she and Mike lived in the apartment for two years as they renovated their historical home on their land.

We began working on our new abode the latter part of August. There was no air conditioning and the humidity was thick, thus the apartment, save the warehouse fan, had no air flowing through it. During this  time of cleaning, painting and fixing up our new little haven , we never saw a single bug.’This is really great’ I thought, as  after all, summer in the South means bugs and since we weren’t seeing any evidence of them, then perhaps they wouldn’t come visit us later.

moving2We began moving all of our belongings into the house the beginning of September and still, no bugs! (A very good sign…)  I can’t tell you how elated we were to have our things out of storage, (from an extended time of travel for 9 months,) and with all the painting and cleaning done, it was our  fervent goal to make this little two bedroom apartment into our enchanted abode. I don’t have to tell you, (as you know by now my love for the seasons, ) 🙂  that it was an  added joy that Fall was arriving. We had more fun buying an array of  pumpkins, lighting our Cinnamon nutmeg candles and unpacking our treasured fall decor to give our new berth a touch of Autumns welcomed charm and enchantment.

By the end of the month our story began to change. Although, our little home began looking cozy and inviting, and it was wonderful to wake up and see our belongings once again, our little haven, slowly began loosing its feeling of ‘home sweet home’.

It wasn’t the little bugs, ( though I saw all kinds of those), that really ‘bugged’ me, it was the honker Palmetto bugs that “freaked me out.”  Whether they were dead, crawling and gasping for their last breath or  quickly scurrying  across our brick floor, they jolted my spirit to the max. Next, came the spiders! No, we are not talking itty-bitty spiders, we’re talking gigantic, ghastly, harry spiders. One morning I knew we were in trouble when I heard my husband scream. (He never screams.)  It was not one, two or three enormous spiders trying to escape him behind our cedar chest, but four. When calling back to him to see if he had succeeded, (as he was running all over the place trying to kill them), he answered;

“Only got three, one escaped.”

Determined, we must have spent a half hour looking for the one that got away, but it was to no avail. Later on in the day, I finally found it or should I say, it found me. I picked up my quilted photo album and it was between two of the pages.  One morning I went to put a candle in my tea light holder only to find a huge, cream colored spider hunched over, covering the entire bottom of the glass.ricebed1 They were crawling on our hutch, running for the garland I had around a decorative Dickens village. (Oh great, a spider infested village). They would climb out of the decorative wreaths onto our walls, they popped up in our bathroom sink and would scamper across the bathroom floor first thing in the morning as I turned on the light. It got so bad, I would stay in bed in the middle of the night even when my bladder was telling me to “get up.” (Great for my health, I tell ya)! You see, because we were connected to the warehouse we had no windows, thus there was no light coming into our little haven, which was pitch black dark. We couldn’t see a thing in the night, only feel and hear them as we crunched one (or two) under our feet.

The worst experience for me was the Palmetto bug, (in my opinion, the largest roach in the world) crawling through the screen doors and walking across our walls as we were watching a soothing romantic movie on television, or when we held our monthly Bible study. Here we were, having a wonderful Godly time, sharing about the Lord when I’d see one crawl through the screen door and I yelled out, (well, I won’t say which word I innocently said,)  in fear. I was not thinking, obviously just reacting as they totally vandalized my inner peace.  I was embarrassed as no one else seemed to care. (Except Kit, even though he did not show it). (Men can do that really good you know…)  Well, actually, there was another event that was even worse…the roach in our bed. Yes, really. One morning I went to make up our bed and my eyes could not believe it, a roach was in our bed as the covers were open from our restful night of sleep, (which may never happen again). ricebedIt was surprising as our bed was a Rice bed, very high off the ground, but then a friend told me that bugs can actually climb up your bed posts, ( now that really made me feel safe.) You may ask, did you ever have the ‘bug man’ come and spray? Did you ever set bug traps? Yes and yes. It did get a little better as most of the critters were dead or fighting for their last breath as we found them in the morning. My husband and I had our ‘morning bug hunt’ upon awakening and before our first cup of coffee. Which ever one of us did the inquest, (usually him)  would yell out “All clear” or “Hold on, got to do bug control.” Many a times the big ones were dying in the shower, or at the foot of our bed, (how soothing.) Finally, after a 45 day trial of terror, they seemed to subside a little. The count went from 7 a day to 5, then 3. If it was a zero, we would shout a hallelujah began to feel a  renewed hope that our life would finally be ‘normal.’ We had mosquitoes, frogs, green reptile looking bugs and I can’t forget the humongous black flies that filled our shower. Yes, one evening, after returning from a trip to Delaware, no bugs, no dead mice, but a shower full of  dead, (and and a few live,) large black flies. I honestly did not know flies came in that size.mice1  (Oh, did I forget to tell you about our night visitors?) No, we never beheld them personally, only saw the ‘proof‘ that they had been there, all over our kitchen counters and pantry. We also ‘heard’ noises as validity of their existence as one night, upon getting up when I couldn’t sleep, I went into Kit’s study to use the computer and do some E-mailing. I was getting all comfy in Kit’s cozy  chair when suddenly, from the closet came an explosion of loud commotion. I quickly ran out of the room and changed my mind as it sounded like there were dozens of mice in there having a midnight rendezvous.

I will never, (and I mean never) forget the day when the exterminator came and sprayed the warehouse in hopes of killing all the spiders. This man ran, (not walked) back to my door and yelled;  “Shut your door, QUICKLY.”

Yea, I don't like spiders....    He then warned me of what he saw happening, when he began to spray. Let’s just say, if you have ever seen the movie Arachnophobia, you would know what I am talking about.He told us that in all of his days as an exterminator, he had never seen such an infestation of spiders. (Me? I only took a peak and cringed at the thought of how many of those creepy crawlers  we would soon be seeing (the ones that escaped,) in our little abode.


bug1000Now, after we no longer live in South Carolina in our little warehouse apartment, I stop and thank God that it was but only for a season that we encountered these unwelcomed, frightful inhabitants in our home. Yes, we were graced with a few months of (bug free living) enjoying the Carolinas breathtaking autumn season, it’s magical Christmas celebrations and a portion of it’s resplendent springtime. (We moved the end of April.) 🙂   If ever there are two people who can’t stand creepy crawlers, it is my husband Kit and I. I believe those 45 days with its many “interruptions of our bliss”  strengthened us, conquered some fears, helped us laugh , imparted some new character within us, as well as enabled us to experience and learn more of Gods  wondrous grace, when things we “were not enjoying” did not just quickly go away. 🙂buttery I am so thankful for our home in Delaware, (Crickets , tiny spiders and a few ants don’t get me going...) However, I do pray that the Lord never sends us to the jungles or some remote island…I can only imagine! 🙂


PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or g graphics, it will display where the picture originated from.



Would You like to be a guest writer on Living Winsomely?

susan happy


I have had numerous readers write in and ask if I was ‘open’ to a guest writer. HERE IS YOUR CHANCE. 🙂

If you would like to write something that falls under the category of Living Winsomely, I will be more than happy to post your blog. (It can be something your passionate about, your artistic skills,  profession, life’s lessons learned, decorating ideas, a life changing story,  a poem,or things that bring hope, joy, education, laughter, etc.)

I ask that it be clean, translated to English as I am unable to post written material on the site that I can’t understand in protection of the readers. Make sure your writing is respectful to all races, religions and genders.

LWPlease send your writing, (with photos if you like,) to my contact page, (at the bottom of the Living Winsomely cover page.) *** It is important that you do not submit your blog entry in the reply section under  the “contact us” page. Make sure you actually click on thecontact us” page and enter your writing so that it comes directly to me at my e-mail.

Please remember to give your blog a title.

Your e-mail address is absolutely confidential and will not be displayed . Its up to you if you want to put your name with your writing, please just note that to me in your submission.

If you are sharing about your profession and how it brings winsomeness to others, please remember, I can’t post your website with your blog unless it is translated to English.

I will design a new category on the site called “Guest writers.”

If or when, Living Winsomely is no longer an active blog site, (I hate to even think about that,)  🙂 your writing submissions will not be returned to you, meaning, just as your replies and comments on the blogs are part of the site, so is the blog you submit as a guest writer.

I will begin taking the submissions as of Saturday, June 21st, the first day of Summer.  The first guest writer’s blog will go up on July 1st and I will continue putting them up every week, or every two weeks, depending on how many writings are submitted. (This is all new for me and I am hoping to hear from many of you who have a desire to share.)

I will keep this open invitation up through summer for new readers to the site as well as those of you who have been reading since Living Winsomely began , February of 2013. If the response is positive, then I can keep the invitation up year round.

I have been exceedingly blessed by all of you and your wonderful support,within the United States as well as all over the world, as the site has grown in leaps and bounds in the last 17 months.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me through my contact page.

I am excited to hear from you, the readers, and am looking forward to reading what your passionate about and what is on your heart to share.

*** If you would like me to notify you before your blog is posted, please specify that on your entry. Thank you!

Lastly, I know that I write long blogs, 🙂 but please know your blog can be as small or large as you’d like. (OK, not longer than mine.) 🙂  I also encourage parents of children who want to share something to invite their kids to write in. (I know several of you have shared with me that some of the blogs on Living Winsomely have been an aid to your child’s homework, which I think is great!)  🙂

Have a wonderful and blessed weekend, Susan

***** AS OF AUGUST 25th, 2014, There will no longer be any more guest writing submissions. Thank you, due to changes being made to the site. Thank you for a great summer!

“And YOU, want ME, to do WHAT???”


Have you ever taken a walk down ‘memory lane’ and ended up stopping at a time in your life that at first makes you laugh, then boggles your mind as you question, “Why did I ever do that?”  “What was I thinking at the time?” And as you continue to park there for awhile, you do one of three things….keep on  laughing until you cry, turn your car radio up so loud, it drowns out your thoughts or you shake your head,  do a quick repentance, (even though you have already repented 100 times,) and thank God for His grace and that He got you through it. 🙂

We all have something in our life, that if we could take the “know how” that we have acquired as we’ve grown older and wiser, would go back and change…but instead, we take all that we have gleaned from it, look at it for what it was and know that somewhere between our youth and now, we are stronger, embody more self worth, have a wittier sense of humor and actually have a great Ice breaker story to share at social events. (As long as our ‘episode’ is  rated. PG-13 )   🙂

ymcaIn the happen-chance  that I am going to share with you in this blog, I had what you would call a ‘season of immense stress and insanity,’ but I also call it my “Summer of transformation,” as I certainly was not the same person going into the season as I was, coming out. I learned new coping skills and that stress doesn’t always kill you. 🙂  I  added to my repertoire of strengths and knowledge , how to laugh when I wanted to cry,  that the bestowal of a praying mom is a priceless gift and that it’s “Okay,” if your unpopular for awhile as it gives you such an appreciation for when you’re back in everybody’s good graces.  🙂  This fluke occurrence was one of many  life lessons, (accompanied with others,) that would bestow upon me a wonderful new freedom in my life…the ability to  follow my own convictions, no matter the price and to say “NO.” Certainly an important character trait to own in order to live a more winsome as well as peaceful life. 🙂

I hope you enjoy the writing , perhaps it will bring you a chuckle or two, a smile and cause you to “really check” your next drivers license  when you get it renewed… 🙂



“When you are saying YES to others, make sure you are not saying NO to yourself.” Paula Coelhon



“Each moment of worry, anxiety or stress represents lack of faith in miracles, for they never cease.” ~ T. F. Hodge


“The storm before the calm.” ~ Cameron Conaway


“Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it’s essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.” ~Douglas Pagels, These Are the Gifts I’d Like to Give to You

task2Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.” ~Helen Keller

The beautiful thing about setbacks is they introduce us to our strengths.” ~ Robin Sharma



Nothing is better for self-esteem than survival.” ~Martha Gellhorn




Releasing the pressure, it’s good for the teapot and the water.  Try it sometime.”  ~Jeb Dickerson,



“I try to avoid stress — it makes me feel like I’m rubber-stamping all my organs “Urgent!” ~Terri Guillemets

task3You can never be upset with the people who forced you into your dream or up higher.” ~Tyler Perry




True story …. Tell me what you would have done?

lsd1Picture this! I was a mere 20 years old when the Department of Motor Vehicles issued me, (by accident through a clerical error) a Class 3 – Truck and Bus Drivers license. For quite some time, I was not even aware that I had been unwittingly graced with such an appanage as it stayed tucked away in my wallet until one day, while requiring our drivers licenses for paper work, my boss at the YMCA discovered it. Here begins my story.

The glorious season of spring, the time when the earth is awakening with new birth and the land is filled with brilliant and majestic blossoms at every corner had come to an end. Arriving in all of its grandeur and spectacle was the long awaited and  widely adored “Good Ole Summertime.” you5000 There is no other season like it, as we are all captivated by the blue skies, billowing clouds, lush green landscapes, lazy days, fishing trips to the pier and the challenge to be creative and build superlative sand castles at the beach. It is the time where all  of the swimming pools are brimming with the sounds of laughter, water splashing and children’s chatter as they celebrate their newly acquired gift of ‘no school for 3 whole months.’

you600It was my first summer as the Assistant Director of summer camp at the YMCA in Orange County California. I was thrilled at my promotion and eager to start the season with over 80 highly energetic kids, my friend and boss Monique,  (the summer camp director),  and our staff of counselors and volunteers. Our summer-tide calendar consisted of an abundance of beach trips, Knots Berry Farm, San Diego Zoo, Disneyland, Sea World, Marine Land, recreational parks and of course the kids weekly favorite, Skate-land.

Two weeks before camp was to begin, the assistant Director of the YMCA, Terrance, was busily training all of the staff with his skills, on HOW TO DRIVE A SCHOOL BUS.  The sessions lasted about two hours.

“It is easy,” He said, “Anyone can do it.”

Well, not so! All of his trainees were not able to pass the D.M.V tests to  obtain  their licenses.  Perhaps because it was a ‘crash course’ training session and there had not been enough time allotted to properly train these potential bus drivers. Terrance had me on the bus as well  just to ‘learn the ropes’ as they say. He had assured me that I was not even in the running as a first choice as I was the assistant camp director and my attention was needed elsewhere.

Well, can you guess what happened next? When Terrance found out that I was mistakenly issued a Class 3 bus driving license, he nominated me to be the designated  Summer Camp School bus driver. (After all, legally, I could drive a bus. ) My life as I knew it had come to an end.

you601Besides perspiring profusely, tension headaches every afternoon, anxiety filling my entire body and my personality changing from bubbly and sweet to stressed out, edgy and irritable, I managed to begin to “chill out,” (a little)  and accept my newly appointed ‘berth.’ Driving around town was not too bad  and with in a short time I actually felt a tad bit comfortable. It was our ‘day trips’ that ruffled my feathers, rocked my boat and turned my life upside down. Now, as I look back on the summer of my youth, I can laugh at my story. At the time, I cried!

One exceedingly hot California day, when traveling over an hours distance to take the kids to Marine Land in Los Angeles, I found myself cruising up a steep hill, (which normally was OK, but this particular street had a stop light.) Oh Joy! Operating our over sized, stick shift, ‘bucket of bolts’ was pressing all my hot buttons and so, once again, I began to task4experience the abundant perspiration as well as a thousand butterflies invading my stomach accompanied by stress headaches.  You have to understand that I had a hard time driving through Laguna Beach with all of its winding roads and steep hills in my little red Volkswagen Bug…there was just something about my foot, the clutch and first gear as I sat on the peak of a hill.  I would always go backwards before I accelerated forward…I hated hills until I changed to an automatic. you603Thus, there we were, (all 95 of us,) In the humungous “big yellow bus,” idling on this steep hill. Every time the light turned green, I would try, attempt again, and strive to get the bus going, only to no avail. Therefore, our bus sat at the green light, (sometimes turning red,)  for quite some time, with plenty of angry people behind us honking, waving their hands and exhibiting angry sign language, thinking that somehow, it would give me the ability to move the bus! In order for me to successfully make it up that hill, the Director Monique, had to jump in my seat and get the bus going and then at the next stop, (where we arrived to level ground), we switched back into our original seats . (She did not possess a wrongfully administered  Class- 3 license as I did.) 🙂  Talk about stress! My heart rate went from triple beats to single when I knew the hills were gone and our trip home would be smooth- sailing,( level, even and flat all the way).

During this time, my sister Gin and I shared an adorably quaint apartment in Irvine California. Our little haven was quite the gathering place for all of our friends and family . This pargracenews7ticular summer, we were blessed to have two of my favorite people in all the world come for an extended visit. My younger brother Patrick and my mom….both visiting from South Carolina. I could not wait to get home each night to spend time with them as each evening, we all enjoyed one of my moms renowned, scrumptious home cooked southern meals and plenty of catch up chatter. (Plus we had plenty of Ibuprofen.)

My mom, dearest friend and the one person who knew me better than anyone in the world was ‘beyond shocked’ and disconcerted at the fact that her 20 year old, untrained daughter was driving a school bus with over 80 boisterous children all over southern California.you630 She was ready to go and confront all of my superiors to tell them to take me out of the drivers seat and replace me with a real, licensed driver. (However, she decided to ask the Lord to do it instead.) Talk about ‘prayer warriors’… My mom loved the Lord with all of her heart and when she prayed, things happened. 🙂


you607The first contretemps came about during a trip to the beach in beautiful Corona Del Mar. Upon our arrival to the parking lot, I had no choice but to parallel park amongst many other cars and a bounty of prodigious palm trees. Parallel parking was not my forte, even in my little red V.W.  Bug. I tried several times to ease my way into my spot as all the kids cheered me on. To say I was full of fear and feelings of inadequacy is an understatement. I was hoping that someone would offer to park it for me, but there were no volunteers. Finally, I made it into the space allotted  only to hear a loud, cacophonous noise. On top of that were a few screams and then a break out of laughter. I had managed to park so close to a towering palm tree that it actually came crashing through the window. Fortunately, no one was sitting in that seat or the seats nearby, thus, no one was hurt. I thanked the Lord for everybody’s  safety and the gift of laughter that day. An important lesson I learned during the fiasco’s of this disquieting  summer was that when we can laugh during moments of mishap and calamity, suddenly  an unexpected gift arrives to our souls.  Our anxiety fades and our world is once again filled  with a kaleidoscope of peace and hope. (Truly one of God’s blessings to us in this life!)

laugh500When we arrived back to the Y’ from our day at the beach, my Palm tree incident was the talk of the entire office. When the parents would arrive to pick up their kids, my little campers would stop, point my way and say; “Look mommy, that is the lady who crashed the bus.”Terrance called me in to his office to have me fill out an accident report for the Y’s insurance company. I was embarrassed yet I knew that I was never trained  properly to parallel park the honker bus and I knew I had tried my best. I was hoping he would say he wanted me to stop driving.  Not a chance.  With just a warning to be more careful and a smile, I was on my way back to the kids.

The Y decided to invest in a brand new ‘big yellow bus.’ ( Their motto being, “Out with the old and in with the new.) 🙂   It was a top model, very classy as it came with all the bells and whistles. The Director of the Y’  even had our YMCA title detailed on the side. When I shared the news with my family, my mom was so funny…in her charming southern drawl she said;

“Well honey,  don’t you  think for one moment, that just because they got a new bus that I am going to stop praying! …You need to be out of that drivers seat.” 🙂

To be honest with you, I do not know what I would have done that summer without her support and understanding… when I look back at those frenzied months of fear and stress, I still shake my head that something like that could ever happen, or even worse, be allowed…(and I still surprise myself that I did it.)

One of the kids favorite activities during summer camp was our  trips to the skating rink. It was only a short distance as it was a local rink. I had peace as I thought ; “No problem…we are only going a short distance and there were no hills or palm trees…it would be a cinch.” As we pulled in to the parking lot, I once again was challenged with my parallel parking skills. I accelerated forward, then back. Forward again and back, inching my way in to my allotted space with my boss Monique directing me as I looked through my rear view mirror. Seeing that I was not going to make it, she motioned me to  drive forward and try parking the bus another way, so I did. As I was accelerating, I felt a slight pull on the side of the bus. I then heard a screeching noise….soon everyone heard it. I immediately stopped but it was to late!skate There was no longer a skate land sign sturdily implanted and standing straight in the ground. It had yielded to the direction of our bus and was now resembling a wilted plant that someone forgot to water. As Monique and I, sadly stared at the sign, we knew it had met its maker.  Our brand new bus had a thick, embossed 39 foot scratch along  the side of it’s  bright shiny body with the YMCA signage no longer spruce and classy. Monique immediately called Terrance to try to explain what had happened…this time he sounded a little miffed. I was thankful  that no one was hurt,  and quite embarrassed once again that I had yet another accident and was hoping and praying  that Terrance would say; “Your days as our bus driver are over.” (Surely he would see it was time.)

Soon after we returned to the Y, Terrance, Stefano, (the Head Honcho of the entire Y’), Monique and I just stood there in utter silence, observing the  undeniable , unattractive appearance of our new, once chic, big yellow bus. It was certainly side-wiped, just not by a moving car or a second party…  I went in to file another accident form for the insurance Company. By this time, I was obtaining a new reputation as the ‘accident lady’ amongst the kids as well as office staff. I got many a smile, a few smirks, laughter and a few shaking of the heads from my co-workers, office staff and the kids. Terrance, on the other hand was a bit anxious as he knew I had never trained accurately and why I was the one chosen to be the bus driver. I was once again told to be more careful. THAT WAS IT?  I was in shock by this time that he still wanted me to drive the bus…Totally bewildered, I left his office.

After my two misadventures, my mom was thrown for a loop as well as astounded that I was still driving the bus. In my boss Terrance’s  mind, there was no other option as no one else passed the D.M.V. tests. He was the only one certified , besides myself, and had many other job responsibilities to tend to with the programs he ran out of the Y’, during our summer camp trips. My mom, like the Ever Ready bunny, just kept on going….praying and standing in faith that I would be released. (Bless her heart.) 🙂

you617The song that best described me at this point in my summer was, “Don’t push me, cause I’m close to the edge…I’m trying not to loose my head.” ( I always  think of that adorable little baby penguin singing that song in Happy Feet.)   I totally agreed with Confucius in the saying “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” But, I was getting to the place that even though I loved my job with all the kids at the Y, (Day Camp in the summers, Latchkey and Directing Tiny Tots in the months of September through June), I was ready to give notice . I felt I was burdened with undue stress, not to mention, being taken advantage of. The head secretary, Lillian,  a woman I respected immensely,  took me aside one day. She confirmed everything that I was feeling and admonished me to write a letter, documenting everything that had transpired from day one and to send it to not only the head of the Y, but to his boss as well. I think at my young age of 20 , I blindly trusted those in charge and was very gullible as well as naive, but also reluctant  to tell Terrance I would no longer drive the bus in fear of being fired.   I began contemplating what my letter would say.

you609Okay, have you heard the saying, “The third time is a charm?” One sunny and  warm afternoon while backing out of a very crowded YMCA parking lot, (Why was it always in a parking lot?) 🙂  I collided with what seemed to be an abnormally long and gargantuan Cadillac Seville. Very thankful I was alone, (no kids present at the time,) I was overwhelmed, my nerves were spent and I just wanted to go home , take a hot bath and go to bed. The next day, I was called into the office. My face was bright red, ( as I felt humiliation, frustration and was on the verge of tears.) As Terrance asked me to fill out the Insurance papers once again, he also spoke the words that I had given up hearing;

Susan, our insurance company has demanded that you be released at the driver of the bus, due to the number of accidents you have incurred.”

you620I thought for sure I heard fireworks in the distance, as well as a choir of angels singing and the voice of my mom shouting “THANK YOU JESUS.” I was elated with joy and could not wait to arrive home to tell my mom that her prayers had been answered. The rest of my summer was then free of stress, well at least the stress of driving a bus.  🙂 I didn’t have the butterfly stomach, extreme perspiration , tension headaches any longer  and was actually excited to go to work each morning.

I am happy to say, I did write the letter and it was given to the two senior Directors of the YMCA as well as the board. It was received and I did not get fired. 🙂  I got my license changed immediately…(To be on the safe side,)  and to this day, I have never driven a big yellow school bus again…(not even tempted to look inside of one.) 🙂

What did I glean from the summer of my youth? My beliefs were reinforced that God hears our prayers, (and does work in mysterious ways.)  🙂   I appreciated my mom more than ever, I learned to not quit even though I felt like giving up,  I was learning to become a person that would eventually be able to freely say NO, no matter the consequences and I learned that laughter is a gift in times of stress, anxiety and fear.  Lastly, though I know there are many ‘happy’ bus drivers out there who enjoy and do their job well,  this particular profession has never been, still is not, and never will be one of my gifts, loves or dream jobs.  Writing is much calmer on the nerves! 🙂


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A Father’s Guide…(Instructions not included.)

In every real man, a child is hidden that wants to play.  ~Friedrich Nietzsche


That the man before him was not an aging father but a boy, a boy much like himself, a boy who grew up and had a child of his own” ~An excerpt from Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities.

In pondering over this excerpt from Tom Wolfe’s quote, I began to get an entirely new impression of my father. I had never really stopped and thought of my dad or any father for that matter, in this light.
Just to think about
our dads not as “our father” but a person that was at one time  just a child, with a world full of aspirations and dreams for their future. As a free spirited little boy, their world was filled with a hundred ‘missions.’ Building their “super cool”  tree house, getting together with their buddies, journeying on endless hikes to the river where they would spend hours, skipping rocks, while talking about what the name of their new  “BOYS ONLY” club would be. 🙂 dad105  They had more fun, escaping to an imaginary place and time,  as they vigorously played out their epic battles pretending to be Captain America or a super power space invader. Their stomachs growling,  they’d quickly run home right about noon, raid the fridge and be gone before their mom had a chance to say hello. Feeling ‘all fueled up,’ they were off to race their bikes, hunt for rocks, head to the ‘five and dime’ to buy their long- awaited baseball cards, they’d  been saving  weeks of their allowance for. And one thing you can be sure of, they were undoubtedly getting into a heap of mischief, that would only stay between them and their ‘buddies.’

dad10000 It seems like suddenly (as we all are so aware of how quickly time flies by,)  they approach young adulthood, meet that ‘special someone,’ fall in love, get married and before they know it, they are a father. They now have taken on one of the most important roles in their lives,  not knowing for sure how to do it, if they will be good at it or all that it will entail. They are a child’s father and that takes precedence over anything else. Yes, they work hard at their careers, but with a new reason, as now they are a provider for their family. Beyond their profession, being a husband and a best friend to his pals, they are now becoming a child’s idol, mentor, role model, protector, guidance counselor and tower of  strength. WOW!

Do you ever wonder if your dad asked himself the question, “Where did that little boy I was for such a short time  go? When did I become a “grownup” and now a dad , in charge of molding my own child’s life? Unlike our moms, who carried us in their womb for nine months, feeling a since of preparation after they had read umpteen books on pregnancy and motherhood,  where do our dads learn what it takes to be a father? Do they remember all that their  father taught them about being a dad? Do they have close friends who can give them educated advice? Perhaps they are a man of great faith and cling tightly to the teachings they were raised on. The answer to that question is unique for each dad.  dad220 My father was a military man and as a child attended boarding school in New England. He lived his life with such a strong discipline and it came naturally for him to follow orders. I never asked him if he had wished someone would have given him directions that he could easily follow for the huge quest of fatherhood that laid before him.   I can only imagine that a father, must (at times,) feel the weight of the world on his shoulders as he begins his family. When I think of a father, I liken him to “The last man standing,”  meaning, he can finally go to sleep at night when he knows that everyone in his household is safe, doing well, the bills are paid and everything is in working condition.

For many of us , we grew up with our  dads being someone we only saw on weekends and in the early evenings, when our moms were busily cooking dinner and taking care of  last minute details for the mealtime to be a success.  As soon as our dads arrived home from their work day, they’d get all of our attention whether they felt up to it or not. (I know in our home, we were crawling all over my fathers favorite ,”ah, I can finally relax” chair, sitting upon his lap, wanting a sip of his ice cold  beer and a bite of his cheddar cheese,  asking him a million questions and talking a mile a minute, about our day.)  Sometimes, I think that children wait all day long,  just to  tell their dads what  colossal  thing they have achieved during the day, in hopes to get one of his much desired, twinkling eye smiles. 🙂

dad211A father is so many things to his children,  a totally different relationship existing between he and his son, than the one he has with his daughter.  In this blog, I thought of ‘just a few,’ (as the list in endless,) of the special things that our dads are in our lives...Some we can identify with, others perhaps not at all, as all of us have a different, very distinctive and individual relationship with our fathers… For those things that you can smile and say “Yes, that is me and my dad,”  I hope it will  in someway enhance your celebration this year with your dad on Fathers day.  If you have lost your father, as I, then maybe choose one or two that you can say, “Yes, that was me and my dad,” and celebrate within your heart how he enriched your life in ways only he could, and that you are a far better person because he was your DAD. 🙂




“Before I got married I had six theories about raising children; now, I have six children and no theories.” ~ John Wilmot


“Saturday mornings, I’ve learned, are a great opportunity for kids to sneak into your bed, fall back asleep, and kick you in the face.” ~ Dan Pierce

“Fatherhood is the greatest education a man can ever receive.”~ Asa Don Brown.
“With children, the clock is reset. We forget what came before.” ~ Jhumpa Lahiri


dad127“If I succeed as a businessman but fail as a father, then it’s all been for nothing. That’s by far the most important role that I’ll ever play in my life — being a parent and being a husband.” ~ Actor Mark Wahlberg

“Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.”  ~Bill Cosby


“Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father!” ~Lydia M. Child.


“It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons.” ~Johann Schiller

“I don’t care how poor a man is; if he has family, he’s rich.” ~M*A*S*H.

dad30“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” ~Elizabeth Stone

“Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat. Then fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher’s mound. Put first base and third together, bring up home plate and pin the three together. Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again.” ~Jimmy Piersal, on how to diaper a baby, 1968


I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.” ~ Sigmund Freud

“Fathers, like mothers, are not born. Men grow into fathers and fathering is a very important stage in their development.” ~ David Gottesman

“Dad, you have strengthened me with your prayers, blessed me with your love and encouraged me with your hope. ~ Author Unknown




Little do we know as little girls, that we will compare every boy and young man to our DAD. He is our  first introduction to what a man is… He can do no wrong in our eyes as we trust him with all our hearts. He is always funny, never wrong and the one we wait for everyday to arrive home from his job. We love it when he swings us around in his strong arms, kissing us hello, because we have a knowing inside that we are safe and secure. (Plus we  just love being the center of his attention.) 🙂



I love this quote written in jest; “DADD, Dad’s Against Daughters Dating, shoot the first one and the word will spread.”

I bet you it was the father of some extraordinary girls who wrote  this. 🙂  Our dad’s are so protective of us, as little girls, teenagers and especially when we are on the search for the man we hope to spend the rest of our lives with. I know when I was a little girl and someone at school bullied me, or as a teen, my heart got broken (and I thought it would never mend,)  there was my dad, wanting to defend, protect and make everything OK. I have found that even after my father died, and things happen in my life, I still reach for the phone wanting to tell him about it…an instinct within as we somehow believe our dads can take care of any problem. Whether they’re slight in build, or a contestant in a muscle building contest, a computer genius or a creative artist, in our eyes we only see them as our dad.  He is the perfect image of what a “man” should be.  He is a place to go when we feel overwhelmed as well as a tower to  run to, as somehow we know that after we ‘let him know about what’s troubling us’ it will somehow all go away.


OUR HERO…we believe he can do anything.

Yes, we do believe our dads can do anything… (poor guy.) They certainly try not to burst our bubbles. They want that era to last just as long as we do, and they try so hard to preform every miracle, (little or big,) that we so desperately want to happen in our growing up years. (Making sure that Santa did a good job on Christmas Eve, in bringing us everything on our list, that the dinner they cook for the family on Mothers day is not burnt,  that they themselves, will chase away every monster that is under our beds and that we need not worry about ANYTHING, EVER! Even as adult women, who now know the secret that was bound to come out sooner or later, (no our dad’s do not have super powers,) 🙂 we still believe two very important things.  Number one, our dads would take those super power handouts if they could, (to make our world better,)  and  secondly, they are always a hero in our eyes for all the things they have done and still do, to make our life more magical.



Who else sees us through the eyes of our dad… They look at us like little princesses…no boy or man is  ever good enough for us, they believe we are beautiful even when we are going through our ” awkward growing up stages,” think we can conquer the world when we feel at our lowest and never notice when we get wrinkles or gain weight. 🙂 We will always be beautiful in their eyes. They have so many dreams inside for what they hope we will be and accomplish, as they see our gifts and talents before we do. And when we’re not heading in the directions of their chimeras for us, yes, they may say a word or two, but then they let go and walk by our side and just keep on encouraging us as we continue on this journey of life, becoming who we want to be.




When we are little, their smile melts our hearts…we crave their approval. When we are teenagers, they stick to us like glue, never complaining about the “new attitudes and fads” we bring home with us from our peers, and as young women, they CAREFULLY watch each young man we date, (giving them all different kinds of looks that only the two of them understands.) When they finally give us away to that one special man, they don’t want us to see it, but they shed tears as they know their little girl, now belongs to someone else. When we are “all grown up,”  we are indeed tremendously  blessed if we suddenly  realize that this man who raised us and has worn so many hats in our lives is now one of our best friends in life.



A MAN THEY IDOLIZE…he is their role model…  the one they want approval from more than anyone else.

There is just something so special between dads and their sons… In growing up with five brothers, at times I felt like there were a myriad of clones running around our home…carbon copy’s of my father, but in the pint size version. 🙂  Boys have such a need for their dads approval and they want to do whatever they can to please him and make him proud. He is after all, their first introduction to what being a man is all about. If his dad likes football, then so does he…If his father is a chef, you can bet his son wants to be right by his side learning to cook creatively. Its a beautiful thing to watch.




By the time a man is a father, he already carries with him a repertoire of many diverse skills. He’s  an expertise with his God given talents as well as all the many things he has learned , conquered and accomplished physically, emotionally as well as spiritually. One of his hearts delights is to teach  them to his son. As he mentors, connects and teaches his son, he is also equipping him with gifts that will help him to become a man and one day to be a great father to his own son.



A MAN WHO BELIEVES IN HIM, enabling him to believe in himself.

There is a big difference between a father believing everything you do is right and believing IN YOU. Whenever we meet someone in life that we know truly trusts and believes in us as a friend, mate or parent figure, it’s like taking a pill that brings a high dosage of ‘strength and self esteem.’  WE are the first one amazed at how confident we feel inside, the new goals we are making, (and actually accomplishing,) all because someone has believed that we could. I believe one of the innate gifts a  fathers heart embodies is their belief in their sons, (and daughters.)  (With the added bestowal of GRACE.)



“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. ~Author unknown, commonly attributed to Mark Twain

Isn’t that the truth! As little boys, every word their father speaks is taken in and savored, cherished like their bag of candy from trick or treating.When the teenage years hit, its as if the words of his dad, go in one ear and out the other. Then, as they become a young man, they are back seeking the advice of their father and are ready to truly listen and take in all the wisdom, discernment, insight, good judgement and ‘trial by fire’  knowledge their fathers embody.  Suddenly, its as if their dad is the wisest man they know. What a man has walked through and experienced throughout his life time is truly one of the most important things his son receives in his life, and its a free gift.



A father, many a time is a little boys origination of what a best friend is…but that friendship can be interrupted as a dad has to choose to be a parent above a friend and its difficult for his little boy to understand that.   Perhaps fathers and sons go in and out of friendship seasons… One of the most beautiful things in my life that I witnessed first hand, was my husband and his father becoming best friends right about the time Kit and I met one another. I was in awe of the deep respect they held for one another as men as well as the fun and laughter they shared when they were together.  It reminded me that its never to late in life to develop a new friendship and how wonderful when its someone you’ve know all your life. YOUR DAD.



I asked a few people who are dear to my heart, to share some of their  favorite memories of their fathers, as well as what their dad imparted to their life that changed them as a person. I was very touched and I hope you will be too.


My dear friend Corrine Peji.

“Angel Peji… my father, a man true to his name. ” 

corrine2My father was the very definition of self-less love. He was a person that captivated my heart, and a father I absolutely adored, respected and cherished.  My parents raised my six siblings and I in the Philippines.  Our family lived below poverty level, which at times was eminently disheartening. Despite the fact that we were poor, my father, who possessed a great love for education, NEVER gave up on the dream within his heart, for his 7 children to have the opportunity to go to college and graduate.

I will never forget my graduation day. If only you could have seen the look on my dad’s face when I got my diploma, he was beaming from ear to ear, with such great joy.  While standing at the podium, as the Dean was congratulating me, my father, out of nowhere, suddenly grabbed the microphone, shouting to the crowds; “This is my daughter Corrine. I am her father.” He then embraced me like he’d never let go…it brought me to tears.

My father worked for $2.00 a day as Porter in a public market, and volunteered to pitch water for a neighbor in exchange for old shoes for me to wear. His heart was totally dedicated to his family and his dream, no matter the cost, often times working with poor health.  He is the one who made it possible for all 7 of his children to become professionals.

After Graduation, when we walked down the stage together, I can still remember his words to me; “Corrine this will be the start of your success, just do not let the kindness depart from your heart, and you are there.”

He was in seventh heaven and I was so happy to see the abundance of exuberant joy overflowing within his heart for this landmark occasion.   He was the real honoree that day, not I. He almost collapsed when I handed him my diploma. If not for all that he and my mother had sacrificed, I would not have been able to achieve the success that I had.

My family’s poverty is something that drove each one of my siblings and me to succeed, as we witnessed daily my fathers, devotion, dedication and sacrifice so that he could provide for us an education and all we needed to have, to  go along with that extraordinary gift.  One of my most vivid memories as a little girl was one night when I asked my parents at supper time, why they were not eating with us. They always replied; “We have something we need to finish doing.”  I wanted to help, so I offered to clean up the kitchen but they asked me to go and study, so I did.  While studying, I got thirsty and went to the kitchen to get a glass of water; my parents looked like they were in a serious, yet quiet discussion. As I listened, I heard the words “Tuition fee.” I saw them eating and it broke my heart …Before them was a half-filled bowl of porridge filled with a small portion of fish…they had saved all of our leftovers for their supper. I could not stop crying.

It was at this time that I began to understand why they did not share meal time with all of us.   At that moment, I made the promise to myself; “I will make it possible for my dad and mom to live like a King and Queen someday. God was so good; He equipped me with more than I could have ever dreamed of to bring that promise into fruition before they both died. I praise God every day for that.

Another moment I cherish…My father had such a great love for my two sisters and I, (being the only girls in the family.)  I would always say to my sisters that I was his favorite. (Of course my other siblings would disagree,) saying; “No we’re his favorite.” When I married my husband Mhon, my father’s words were so beautiful and touching, I could not stop the tears from flowing.

He spoke; “Mhon, Corrine is the best I have and I am giving her to you, take care of her.”

My father imparted to my life, the same wonderful faith that he had for his maker. On his death bed in July 1998, he and I were talking…I was massaging his cold feet…My father was a Mestizo, his skin an olive complexion, but not that day…his feet were so white. The thought of losing my father was incomprehensible.  I told him that I could not live without him.

He replied; “Yes you can Corrine.”

I repeated my words in desperation, and then he pleaded; “Corrine do not teach me to go against our fathers will.”

Still not wanting to let him go, I said; “How can we celebrate Christmas day without YOU? It will not be the same without you there.”

He began singing his favorite song ‘Silent Night.’

There the two of us were, having Christmas together in July.  He noticed that his singing did not put a stop to the tears that were flowing from my eyes, so he lifted my face with his weakened hands and asked me to look into his eyes.  I barely managed, but when I did, I saw that my father’s eyes resembled the eyes of Jesus. With both of us crying at this time, he spoke word’s to me that will forever be inscribed upon my heart;

“I am not your father Corrine.” (I was beginning to think he was hallucinating, as I did not understand what he was saying.)

I quickly spoke to reassure him; “Yes, you are.”

His second reply caused me to hear what his heart was saying…and it truly was complete wisdom.

“I am not your real father, you have Him in heaven. I am just your physical father here on earth. Your real father is in heaven. He is the only one capable of giving you all that you need.”

My father then asked me to promise not to go against God’s will…So I nodded in submission. As he put his hand over mine, he flashed the sweetest smile I had ever seen and closed his eyes, forever. My whole being was numb, filled with a great sadness I had never felt before.  What a legacy he left with me…He left me His faith in our creator…a treasure that money can’t equal.

God is a great God and Father.  I have come to know and understand Gods father heart because of my experience with my own father on earth…My father’s  name was Angel Peji…a name that fit him perfectly, as it truly described WHO HE WAS.



My sister Gin , my fathers firstborn.

gracenews3“Okay, I admit it, as a little girl growing up, I was what many would call a “Military brat.” My dad, a man who served  28 yrs in the United States Marine corp, as well as fathered 8 children, was a hard man to get a lot of one on one time with, but when he was home, ( and not fighting in the war oversees,) he managed to make all of his children, ( as well as my mom,)  feel like they were his number one priority. My favorite memories of my father were when I was in elementary school… at that time I was the oldest of three, (not even fathoming it would one day be a family of TEN. Whew!)  I was so thrilled that my dad was home from the war and could hardly wait until the five o’clock hour when he  would arrive home. He was so handsome in his uniform and I was so proud to have him as my dad.  He loved to sit in his favorite chair, have a beer and some kind of savory snack before we all sat down to dinner. It was a given that whatever he was having , I would be  his co-partner in devouring every morsel… I’d run and sit on his lap, feeling like the most important little girl in the world. Whether we shared my moms homemade chicken bog, jambalaya, (or my dads favorite,) fresh avocado slices with Worcestershire sauce and fresh garlic, I just loved being the center of his attention. Because he and I shared these special times, it caused me to feel that I was a person of real significance.    He even asked me out on a date when I was in 4th grade. It was one of the most magical days of my life. He surprised me with a wondrous afternoon matinee at the National Ballet Theater in Washington DC.  We saw the renowned and classic performance of  Swan Lake. I remember being in total awe with the enchanting music, breathtaking choreography, the superb dancing and extraordinary theatrical special effects.  If that alone was not enough, he then took me to the Waldorf Astoria for a spectacular dinner that was filled with more scrumptious food than I could eat, accompanied by a grandiose, elegant  ambiance. I truly felt like a “little princess” out  for the day, with my prince.”

“The most important  bestowal my father imparted to my life was a sense of independence and responsibility. He was a man that taught me to face life and not turn away from my  issues. He’d  always say; “Life is filled with challenges and you need to meet them head on and conquer your problems.”

He gave me a belief in my self that I did not have, because he truly believed in me.


Kit and his “Pops.”

dad221“Sadly at this time in my life,  I only have memories of my father. Gratefully though, after many years of strife with him, he and I were able to mend several areas in our relationship.”

“So today, I have many great memories  of when we went fishing, hunting and/or just sitting around a dinner table telling stories, playing games and/or just talking. My father, towards the end of his life became my best friend and mentor. On one of the most important days of my life, my wedding day, it was my dad that I chose to be my Best Man.”

“Of the many things my father taught me through example and belief, I value these the most; I could achieve anything I wanted to, give everyone grace until they prove to not deserve it, be tenacious and to never give up.”

My long time friend, Cheri.

cheri“The most important thing I learned from my father is how to treat people. It is  most helpful in business but of course effects all other areas of life”


My good friend Connie.

Connie“The happiest memories I have of my dad were when I was hunting or fishing with him. Even though hunting can be considered violent, it helped me to appreciate and respect nature. My dad helped me learn to respect nature by only taking what we would use. Most of my happy memories of my dad are of him teaching me something. He is still alive and celebrated his 77th birthday this year.”


Whether your celebrating as a Dad, father figure or a son or daughter, honoring your father on this special occasion, I hope you all have a blessed and happy Fathers day. ENJOY!

***I also want to thank you, Corrine, Gin, Kit, Cheri and Connie for sharing your dad’s with us on this vignette.

 PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will display where the picture originated from.