laughter


I was recently asked to describe in one word a place that has been a big part of my life for more than 30 years. I didn’t have to think too hard before answering, “Friends.” But now that I’ve had more time to think, I realize there are so many excellent words to describe Camp Tockwogh. I know—it may sound silly to have such a connection to a summer camp but I’m guessing you are thinking about your own camping experience as a kid and saying, yeah, I remember how fun that was.

Last weekend I attended a 75th anniversary alumni weekend at Camp Tockwogh. It’s a beautiful 309-acre YMCA camp on the Northeastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. I saw some old friends, counselors, and campers I haven’t seen in awhile. The age differences between some of us may have meant a lot back in the day, but the wrinkles and grey hair were spread pretty evenly among most of the group of alumni staff at the reunion.

One of our group members is a professional cameraman and brought his equipment to film our stories. It  got pretty emotional for many of us—tears from good memories and thoughts of friends who aren’t with us anymore flowed as much as the laughter. It got me to thinking…

Tockwogh is quite a magical place. It’s beautiful and the activities are fun, but there’s more to it than the physical space. There is a special bond formed between the people who have experienced camp. Regardless of when you worked there or even if you went there as a camper, you can count on being part of a wonderful, talented, kind and fun group of people for the rest of your life. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t seen your friends for days, months, or many years, you pick up right where you left off.  You see, the songs may change, new buildings go up, new boats replace the old, activities change, and new staff come on board, but the essence of camp remains.

Everyone who goes to camp, young or old, can expect to find acceptance, kindness, encouragement, and support from the people there. And they can build new skills, grow their self esteem, and make life-long friends like mine.

There are a few things I think camp could improve—the beds are a bit hard on my back and the food is okay but I miss the old chicken slop and grilled cheese the way Rosalie made it—but here are a few things I’m glad have lasted and are perfect the way they are:

  • My first roommate Wendy. When I was a Junior Counselor I asked my village chief if I could live with Wendy for the summer because she was so fun and easy going. I am blessed to have Wendy as one of my best friends because every single time I see her she never fails to make me laugh. There’s a lot of other stuff too…
  • My first boss (my village chief), Amy, is also still one of my BFFs. With all due respect to his holiness, Amy is more popular than the Pope and looks better in a dress. I am amazed at her unlimited energy and glad she’s a fighter so we can have her around for many, many more years.
  • My first (one of) counselor, Kathy. Kathy has become one of my best friends and we still laugh at the fact that I was her camper and we used to sing Michael Jackson songs loud and without embarrassment. Kathy knows everyone in Delaware and if she ran for governor today, would win in a landslide.
  • All the other wonderful women I have become close with—some were adopted into the clan and others had my back when I needed to relieve myself in a cornfield—are amazing in their own rights. I am blessed to call them my friends and my sisters.
  • As for the men, sometimes I call them my boys but they are true men. I have always had a tiny crush on each one of them and have also considered them my brothers. These men were exceptional role models for the kids they guided, taught, played with, and protected. I saw them in roles of big brothers and dads before they were mature enough to think that way, and always knew they would be great fathers one day. Some days they teased me and brought me to tears but most days they protected and supported me, accepted me as their friend, and helped me become a better woman. I will always love them and each time they found love, became a parent, accomplished a milestone, or were rewarded for something great, I was overjoyed.

One word? I don’t think so. Here are some other descriptors I heard friends say in their interviews:

Family
Friendship
Love
Priceless

Tockwogh.

Before I leave you with this  poem that one of our alumni read at the campfire to honor our lost friends, I want to say that I’m going to write a book and include the stories I heard this weekend. Some of what was overheard included,

  • “And his hand was in a cast after he punched the horse the second time.”
  • “I had to think for a second, what do you wear to a fire?”

Oh yea, best seller for sure.

“So many things have happened
Since they were called away.
So many things to share with them
Had they been left to stay.
And now on this reunion day,
Memories do come our way.
Though absent, they are ever near,
Still missed, remembered, always dear.”
—Author unknown

This is a song that one of our alumni sang at the campfire. It was a beautiful honor to our friends.

And on to the evidence! Beautiful people, wonderful friends…

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On June 8, 2013 two of my favorite people in the entire world celebrate a rare and wonderful  milestone. My parents, Greg and Carol have been married for 50 years!

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These two people have blessed me with a fun, exciting, and loving upbringing. To this day, they still help me with the basics of growing up. They share their wisdom, patience, love, and kindness with me and the rest of our extended family as well as a plethora of friends around the globe. They deserve much happiness and love from all of us.

So what does it take to be married to someone for 50 years? Who knows. I’m not sure there is a formula—except the basics like love, trust, generosity, kindness, laughter, joy, forgiveness. You know what that sounds like to me? The fruit of the Spirit. These two souls have God’s Spirit working in them and through them and it shows.

My dad and my mom probably have some other words of wisdom on how they’ve stayed together for so long. Maybe some selective hearing, some earplugs, some giving up of the remote control and so forth. All I know is that I love them and I am so glad they are taking care of each other.

Congratulations mom and dad!!

Below are some photos from their wedding. I can see some of my cousins in there plus and aunt and uncle and some grandparents. The wedding photographer was a friend  who took some shots for them and the getaway hot rod mobile is there—the thing that made dad look “cool” back then, I’m sure.

Aunt Elaine and Uncle Johnny and cousins with Mom.

Aunt Elaine and Uncle Johnny and cousins with Mom.

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Mom with grandpa Crowe

Mom with grandpa Crowe

The Wedding Party.

The Wedding Party.

The explaining starts today, the selective hearing starts tomorrow

The explaining starts today, the selective hearing starts tomorrow

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The new Mrs Carol and Mr. Greg Crowe

The new Mrs Carol and Mr. Greg Crowe

With Grandma Andrews.

With Grandma Andrews.

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The hot ride!

The hot ride!

Mom and grandpa Crowe

Mom and grandpa Crowe

I’ve been hearing conversations lately about the importance of context. Often conflict arises because of false assumptions, many of which are made because of a lack of knowledge about the context that surrounded a conversation. My pastor just came back from Isreal talking about how being immersed in the culture of the holy land changed his perspective of scripture in a huge way.

So then I was asked (for a contest) to name my favorite hymn/christian song. I was trying to remember the name of it so I went online to Google it and found some interesting songs on YouTube. Man, they put everything up there nowadays. When I was a kid, it was “Jesus Loves Me.” I found a video of some kid in a rainbow wig singing that. What kind of context would that be for people looking at that video 200 years from now?

Then I found the pot of gold. (A little Irish humor for you today.) Seriously, this video made my jaw drop. I knew I wasn’t supposed to laugh because it’s a praise song afterall, but again, context is everything. Maybe back in the 70’s this would seem cool. Some of the lyrics include, “He’ll zap you any way can (Zap),” and “I can praise God and still play rock and roll.” Oh My Girlish Figure.

Okay. Moving on. The third video is from my favorite comedian, Tim Hawkins, who discusses Christmas songs. Take a minute and a half and just enjoy it and laugh.

And the last video is in fact one of my favorite hymns. There are so many to choose from. The context? A hard world can be changed with the love of our Father. Be content, be generous, be loving, be gracious, and take the gift you’ve been given. No strings attached.

Jesus Loves Me

Jammin for Jesus

Tim Hawkins, Give the kid a blanket

Take My Life

And then there’s probably a video here that was placed here by WordPress for advertising. 🙂

Milestones mark our time. I’m not sure why we mark time like that—maybe to organize our lives, remember important life-changing events, or because we need to put something in perspective? Sometimes that may be good—like giving parents a sense of how and what lessons to teach their children (e.g., financial responsibility in high school vs. when they are 40). Sometimes I think it’s not so good—expecting to achieve certain goals because you have reached a certain time in your life.

I’m just saying, time is weird and it’s “relative.” For me, the past six months have been sad and stressful. There have been moments of love and laughter and hope as well. But the time since my brother passed seems like an eternity and yesterday at the same time. As I arrive at a milestone, or pass by a place where we made a fun memory, or come to a day we celebrated during the year, the grief comes back like a truck that hits me all over again.

I’ve been told by many who have lost loved ones that this grief period goes on for quite awhile. I guess that’s so we remember how precious life is and how important our loved ones are. I really miss my family and the fun things we’d do together on weekends, but I hope with time that they (and me) can heal and remember Greg without crying too hard. Seriously, I really should buy stock in Kleenex.

Well, yesterday was an anniversary of September 11 and today I am thinking about my family and my brother, and my friends who are also grieving or facing a big challenge. But I don’t want you to leave this blog feeling all boo—yucky and pathetically sad. So, I’ll leave you with something to hopefully make you smile and know that “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” Job 8:21

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 (A Time for Everthing)

I’m in the mood to laugh. And I want to thank my many facebook friends for helping me in this simplistic goal of the moment. I also want to give a shout out to some new friends who are also enabling my favorite pastime.

Laughter is so therapeutic. When you have lovely, charming, fun, joyful people in your life it can lift you out of the darkest places and into a new world. The other night I got a wonderful gift from my two-year old neighbor. I was out walking Grendel and was feeling serious pain in my heel and knee and was ready to plop down and call it a day. As I saw some friends coming out of their home, their son was standing at the door, so I smiled and waved and said “Hi Nate!” I thought for sure he would turn on his heel and head for the hills since the last time I saw him I was pretending to be a monster and scared the living crap out of him. But instead of taking off or giving me a look that said, “Who are you again?” he smiled and yelled out, “HEY DAWN!”

Wow! I just love it! His dad and I laughed because we didn’t think he knew my name. Then the gift got bigger as his three-year old sister chimed in as well. Children are so cute, especially at that age. Hearing them call my name and say hi is just so sweet and charming—and it made me forget about my pain for awhile. Many of you who have children may understand what I’m saying, or maybe you’re wondering why I think it’s so special. I love kids—mainly because they don’t live with me and I can see them when they are acting cute and fun and leave when the crying starts. In any case, I am blessed to have a bunch of them living near me and saying hello when I need a good smile.

As for the grown up friends. I’d like to share some more funny photos I’ve copied from them and others around our lovely Internet. If it’s your photo and you haven’t gotten credit for it, let me know and I’ll make a note of it. Thanks for the laughs guys—keep ‘em coming so I can stop taking pain medication!

 “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” Job 8:21

I think my brother did this to me once.

 
And I’m pretty sure my brother did this once as well.
 

So I’m on my way to my next life goal which is to get fit and healthy. I’m healing and exercising with the hope that in about a year I will have lost enough weight and will feel strong enough that I can celebrate with a trip to Peru. So that’s been keeping me busy. And I’ve also been writing a lot. Not here obviously because my blog posts have become as sporadic as as the number of snow storms we get here in DC which to my taste is not enough. Now don’t be a hater. Snow is pretty and yes, you can learn to drive in it so you won’t need to overstock your house with supplies at  the slightest hint of weather.

Okay, moving on. Seriously folks, I’m working on a book. Yes, you heard me. Or rather, yes, you READ that write. I mean right. Thank God for spell check. Out of all of His inventions, spell check is one of my favorites. Now if God could just gift someone with a talent that allows for a cheap robot to clean my bathrooms and the litter box, that would be awesome as well.

Still not moving on. I got nothing folks. I’m reading a book called the Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. I’ll be blogging about that soon. Cool stuff. So far I’ve gotten the back story about a dude named Honi who drew a circle in the sand and prayed to God for rain. And God answered. I’ll be asking you for your stories—where you have seen God answering your prayers, so think about it and share it. We really shouldn’t be shy about sharing those beautiful stories of answered prayers. Or you can send me your prayers and I’ll add them to my journal of prayers. I’ve started one and I’m liking it a lot. 

So to recap, I’ve been writing prayers. Writing a book. Wrote a bunch of holiday cards that took awhile. And not writing in this blog. But I have been collecting super funny photos from my facebook friends’ posts. That’s really what I started out to do until you just let me blab on and on and on. Okay, so here are some of the most recent ones. Laughter. I think that is one of my all time favorite God blessings. Enjoy.

 

People can be smart, kind, generous, supportive, and make you laugh. They can also be really gullible, inattentive, impatient, and insecure. I have those last few traits for sure and I tend to get very frustrated with those who share those traits with me. Hypocrite? Yup. Realist? Yup. Dreamer? Yup. Critic? Yup. Destroyer of nations? Nope—but the cat in the photo below could eat his way through Europe.

 Speaking of the cat photo, aside from making me LOL it made me think about my profession (marketing) and how we use imagery and words to persuade. I don’t lie. Let’s just get that out there. I refuse to use tactics that are unethical and I do not help sell products or services that would go against my principles. But…it is my job to get through the clutter so that you, my dear, wonderful, modern and hip consumer, will see the value in what I’m offering. Sometimes that means cutting out the fat. Sometimes that means pricing something a certain way to position the brand at a certain level in the consumer’s mind. And sometimes it means putting a pretty label on it.

Yesterday my creative group at work took a break and played “guess the better wine.” Now wine of course is subjective—what some call “feet-like tasting swill” others call “late-night after-the-beer-is-gone nightcap.” We basically covered up the bottles and tasted wines to see which ones we liked better. Not surprisingly I picked all the more expensive ones. And by expensive I mean like $10 (vs. the Trader Joe two-buck-chuck options). What can I say? I appreciate a good product. But given a real test, who would say how much the brand and price would influence the perceived taste? Guess that’s a test for another day.

Oh and FYI, if you didn’t scan the QR code on my last post you may not be aware that the whole getting another puppy thing was an April fool’s joke. I must be really good because if you really believed that I could handle a Grendel mini-me along with the critters I have, then you must think I’m nuts. Hmmm. What does that say about me? More importantly what does getting fooled say about you? Just a suggestion–research a little more closely before making assumptions. Especially when media outlets report that the army is changing its headgear to Stetson hats. Unbelievable. hee-hee.

Funny Pictures - Fat Cat Facebook
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Grendel saw the cat photo and got really hungry.

Grendel licks his chops in anticipation of fat cat for dinner.

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