Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

Get Your Motor Running! Zero to Hero Challenge


Today’s going to be a  feel-good day! There’s snow on the ground–the kids are all trapped inside–the baby ‘s not sleeping at night— and I feel like EEYORE!  But no more! We are going to crank up the volume and dance to the music! Dance like nobody’s watching! Just do it! and have fun!  

As part of my Zero to Hero challenge, I had to take a look at the stats that  Word Press collects on my blog for me! I was to look for and take note of my most popular blog posts. The assignment was to take one of the popular ones and put a spin on it, and post away!   I was surprised to see that my most popular posts seemed to be ones about feeling good;   about abstract ideas like reputation; and about community events! Here I was , thinking about specializing in genealogy on my blog! 

 So, I’m planning to put some feel good blog posts and other things into my blog as often as possible–afterall, I need them as much as anyone! Flowers, music, dancing–let me know please–what makes you feel good? Music and dancing has always done it for me–gets my motor running every time!  Here’s wishing you a day full of verve and elan! Helen

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Five of my Favorite Blogs! –a Zero to Hero Challenge


Today I want to take a minute to share some of my favorite blogs–I hope it will inspire you to go and look at them– I also have to admit that this is an assignment from my Zero to Hero Challenge! They are teaching us the concept of “sharing what we love”–and another way to connect to our community. I must say I think it is a great idea, but I don’t know if I would have thought to do it on my own.  I have chosen five blogs to share with you today–three on genealogy (one – another challenge I’m working on which a lot of  you might find interesting!), one on table settings and home decor, and one that is just hilarious! I think I’ll have to save the funniest one for last, because I’m afraid if you go there, you’ll get so caught up in his humorous stories that you’ll never come back! 

St. Patrick's Day Tea 004The first blog I want to share is a blog I’ve been enjoying for a couple of years now! A lot of you might be surprised, because I’m not known as a domestic diva, but I love this blog! It’s called “Between Naps on the Porch” by Susan, and it is chock full of inspiring ideas for decorating your home, setting an awesome table, even decorating your rooms! I’m still lusting after the office she made for herself which you can see here.in her blog! I really want one just like it! She also gives home tours–like of her Governor’s mansion–of celebrities’ homes, and historical  places. Mardi Gras is coming up soon, and you will be greatly inspired to decorate all out by catching a glimpse of this fantastic table setting! Really it is fun to see!  She sponsors contests, and generally just keeps you entertained royally! “Between Naps on the Porch”–doesn’t that name alone just invoke visions of lazy days on the porch with a pitcher of lemonade! Well, lazy she is not– she writes, holds contests, takes pictures, publishes a newsletter! Gracious! I admire her work greatly!

Now–genealogy blogs! I have a million I love! but I’ve chosen three to share today–because I think some of you might just like what you find and be happy to see them! The first is a teaching blog I’d say. It is called Moore’s Genealogy and C.H. Moore Jr. who writes it, is a very talented genealogist. He talks about various subjects like breaking through brick walls, using your DNA test to help with research, and even how hard it is to trace your female ancestors–along with hints to help! Check it out my genealogical friends–I think you’ll like it! Helen's study

The second genealogical blog I want to highlight tonight is another one of my favorites right now! The name of the blog is No Story Too Small! I love that very title , and wish I had thought of it first! LOL  The author is Amy Johnson Crow and her blog is about the stories of her ancestors she says, and she encourages us to do exactly that–tell stories of our own ancestors! At the beginning of this  year, Amy issued a challenge to all bloggers– to write 52 stories of ancestors in 52 weeks! I was excited to join the challenge, because that is what I want to do –write stories of the people in my family tree that I am beginning to know!  Over two hundred bloggers signed up for the challenge! Poor Amy–I feel sorry for her having to organize all that, but as a professional genealogist, and a former librarian she seems to handle it with ease! Every Wednesday we get to see a “recap” of the ancestors written about that week! It is so cool, because she lists all of the ancestors’ surnames in alphabetical order–so you can quickly see if anyone else is writing about one of your own ancestors–look at this week’s list if you’d like ! In scanning this list just this week, I found someone writing about a name that was familiar. And sure enough, upon further investigation, we were cousins, unknown to each other before this–but talking everyday on facebook at this point! He is an awesome researcher himself, you might want to check out his blog as well! 

Raymond Nichols is the cousin I met this week! He is kin to  almost all of my mother’s family from southwest Virginia, so I was pleased to be able to invite him to a facebook page of those cousins! He has quickly become a popular contributor on the page, because he knows so much! His genealogy blog is actually titled “Questions and Answers” and is a great place for you to go with  your genealogy questions! He is a professional genealogist with a lot of enthusiasm and knowledge to share! Check it out! 

Last but WAY NOT LEAST is one of the funniest blogs I’ve had the pleasure to read in a while–it is called the Rush Hour Rant, go read it, you’ll love it! It is totally irreverent–so don’t go read it if you’re in a disapproving mood–or maybe that’s when  you should–because you might just find your self laughing in spite of yourself! It just so happened that he, who calls himself the Rant, wrote about being late to events and meetings lately. This touched me personally, because I have always been late. The Rant taught me a new way to respond to my friends about my tardiness–take a listen…

“Sorry I’m late…

….but I was posing for an action figure of myself and the designer just couldn’t get the moobs right.

…I was practicing my impression of an unambiguous Koala and I lost track of time.

…but I was giving a family of hedgehogs a lift home and they lived way out-of-town. It was Gerald’s birthday bless him and he wanted to see the city lights.”

LOL, enjoy! Let me know what  you think of these blogs if you look at them. Hope you have a great day and week, Come back and see me soon, Helen  

PS I also learned how to “embed” all those links today, finally, so let me know if you used them to see the blogs! 

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Cure for the Winter Doldrums!


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Some of you have heard  me talk about the Zero to Hero Challenge I’ve been participating in these last 21 days! It is a thirty day challenge , so we are nearing the end! I  am simply amazed at all the things i’ve learned since participating in this challenge–as well as the fact that I have met about a 100 or more other bloggers as we have been assigned to mix things up! My blogging skills have improved also as I’ve learned all about widgets, menus, links, pages, posts, tweets, twerps…well, maybe I’ve yet a bit to learn! LOL Today is Day 21, and our assignment is to build on what we did on day 19! LOL  On day 19 we had to use a new feature or format in our blogs–as if everything we’d been doing hadn’t been new to some of us! lOL So I dutifully followed the routine I’ve pretty much developed during this challenge: read the assignment–print out the assignment, so I can write all over it and put it in my blogging notebook! (OCD much?)  Then I  have to go to Word Press’s support documents–and search, read, reread, print out and mark up–just to know what questions to ask! LOL  Sometimes the technical jargon is like reading Greek to me! So then, I go to the discussion forums where I ‘ve met the most helpful people who speak English as well as bloggy jargon! I usually leave there with a good idea of what I have to do! Still, I am always amazed when I actually accomplish new things! I am not really very skilled at this technical stuff–and my short-term memory is shot–so there you go! LOL I’d say its h— to get old, but this is fun! –and I’ve fought to stay alive! So learn I will! LOL      zero-to-hero-badge

On day 19 I actually developed a slide show–which was the perfect way to honor my little granddaughter on her birthday! That same day I was under the gun to complete an assignment for the other challenge I’m participating in as well–to write stories about 52 ancestors in 52 weeks! That is something I am also loving doing, it’s just that this weeks’ story came a little harder than I expected. Required more research. So, I got today 21 knowing I needed a break! It snowed here in sunny North Carolina today–that alone gave us a spiritual and scenic break! It also made me start thinking of warmth and Spring! Most of you know I am a gardener–and sometimes I have beautiful flowers if I do say so myself! I realized I could use some of those flowers RIGHT NOW! So…in the name of the assignment–and in the name of needing a respite–here is a slide show of some of my favorite flowers,and gardening photos ! I hope you enjoy the balmy break as much as I did! Don’t worry, I will get back to my genealogy asap! I love that also! Hope you are having a good day–enjoy! Helen  

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Granddaughter Katy Turns Two Years Old Today, January 21, 2014


My precious  granddaughter Katy turns two years old today! We celebrated with her last night!  I thought I’d present this slideshow to honor her and commemorate her life! I love you Katy darling!  If I may suggest–Katy loves Elmo, so I thought you could listen to his songs while you watched the slideshow! Hope you enjoy it! Helen

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My Reputation?—Zero to Hero Challenge—Day 16

Unfortunately, it does seem that reputation matters. I say unfortunately because I have just enough “flower child” in me to want to say “Let it all hang out!” “Do what you want!” “Live for today, for the moment!” I did come of age in the sixties! Lol

However, I also went to church, and was raised by a Catholic mother. I was very responsible,  and worked early on– age 15 as a candy striper—helping sick people, ages 16-23 as a lifeguard–where my reputation as vigilant, an excellent swimmer, and observant of details meant a job for me! In high school no less, I was very cognizant of my reputation! I served as President of a couple of clubs—including the Future Teachers of America, and the Photography Club…and my teachers were proud of me, so I minded my reputation.

But, that got tiresome…always doing what others expected! So…when I went off to college—out of state where nobody knew me, and Mom and Dad were far away….I decided to hell with reputation!  I decided my freshman year, age 18, to throw caution to the wind! I chose not to join any clubs, not to be an officer anywhere, anyhow! I ran, played, dated, danced, cut classes and had a blast! Oh yes, and I almost flunked right out of college by my sophomore year! I was doing at age 18 and 19, what I should have done at ages 15 and 16—rebelling against the “system”!  I’d gotten it backwards! LOLDSCF7921 When I was told by the registrar, that I couldn’t come back my junior year unless I went to summer school and got two “A’s, I was shocked! I had partied myself into quite a pickle! After crying hysterically for an hour or so, I had to figure out what I was going to do. My parents were on the way to pick me up, and they were not going to be happy! Oh,my Dad wouldn’t care—he’d just say “I told you so—told you girls should be barefoot and pregnant—not in college!” No way was I going to let that happen! So, I dried my eyes, and called my favorite Aunt—who happened to have no children of her own—I needed her to adopt me at the moment! And she saved my college career and future! She gave me money for summer school—and I earned those two “A’s” by damn! That was my wakeup call! I vowed to myself I’d get serious…and pretty much, I did! In two more years, I graduated, and started teaching emotionally disturbed children. I married and had a child by age 25. By 28 I was in graduate school and getting straight “A’s”—me! Nobody was more surprised! I remember deciding, within myself, that I would have a reputation of dependability. That I would be the professional people needed me to be, after all, I had become a family therapist—I had to earn and deserve my clients’ trust! And I did! I’m not saying I never made a mistake…surely I did. But I tried very hard to be trustworthy and good at what I did—I studied, researched, lectured…it was great. And I hope I helped people, I believe I did—was told I did. I won some acknowledgement from my peers that I was doing a good job–plaques that symbolized awards and achievements. I was elected president of PTA’s and VP of the Mental Health Association, was made an elder in my church—and yes, it seemed that my good reputation was intact! I intended to work forever…I loved my life! 

Neuse Mental Health Center, new Bern, NC

Neuse Mental Health Center, New Bern, NC

Then I got sick….like wham! I began to faint before I could get around the grocery store.  I would feel faint as I headed out the door to take my daughter to school and go to work! I chalked it up to blood sugar issues and ignored it! I was a mild diabetic, but rarely had trouble. I would eat better I swore! And…I would test my blood sugar more regularly…just as soon as I could find where I put that darn little machine!

Unfortunately, in a matter of a couple of weeks, it got so bad, I couldn’t ignore it—so on the way home from work one night—I pulled into an urgent care center. The doctor heard me out, hooked me up to an EKG machine…and that ended my life as I knew it! When he said I had to go right to the hospital, that I couldn’t drive the five minutes home to pack a bag or get my husband, that he was calling an ambulance because I was having a heart attack, well—I was in complete denial! I looked at him with my mouth falling open—and said “You’ve got to be kidding!”

EKG showing heart attack

This is an example, not my personal EKG

The news just kept on getting worse—I was to be air flighted to Duke Hospital—a couple hours away and one of the big guns of hospitals! “You’ve got to be kidding!”—I was very erudite! I was also only 50 years old! My youngest was a senior in high school—going to college next year—I could not be sick! But I was!

The reputation I’d worked so hard to build…dissolved in front of my eyes! I became instead of a vibrant lecturer and therapist– a sick person! I was in and out of the hospital for a year, and diagnosed with inoperable, stage four, coronary artery disease! They said I’d only live about five years without a heart transplant! I couldn’t do it! I couldn’t stand the thought that I would live because someone else had died! No way! The week they told me that I needed a transplant, a man in my church–eight years my junior, father of three young children, and soccer coach had died suddenly of a heart attack! Would it be right, fair, for me to live, and him to die!? I had to say no. I knew all the psychological ramifications and meanings that went with that decision…but there it was.

As it turns out, I was allowed to have some experimental surgery at Duke…open heart, where they shot 18 laser holes in my heart—in hopes of creating new channels to carry oxygen around my heart—kind of like creating new blood vessels! A few years after having that surgery, called TMR or Transmyocardial Revascularization…the researchers said it was not helpful..hadn’t done what they’d hoped, and they stopped performing the procedure. I expected to die. But hey…I didn’t!

Royal Red Divas in the Youngsville Christmas Parade, 2012. Lorna Harris in back foreground, Monica Richardson i back waving Annie Holshouser driving, Helen Holshouser beside her in front.

Royal Red Divas in the Youngsville Christmas Parade, 2012

For a long time I wouldn’t go to church. Church had always been a place I liked…but I couldn’t stand to be seen as that old lady in the wheelchair with the heart condition!  I didn’t want that reputation! Recently however, I joined a church with my husband. It was a major milestone regarding my self-esteem. I knew some people would look at me and think…that old lady in the wheelchair. But I knew better—I was a heart patient with chronic disease yes, but I was so much more! My red hat sisters had taught me I could still have fun—be silly—laugh and love life! My facebook friends, and my ancestry.com fellow researchers challenged me intellectually and gave me love! My family, oh my family…they all deserve medals! They loved me, sacrificed for me, supported me…and allowed me to grow into a different, but happy and productive person. Thank you!

 I’m alive, I’m thrilled—reputation—who needs it—it only leads to judgments, from self and others, and I just want to live and enjoy each moment! So it seems I’ve come full circle–from believing reputation is important–to being relieved it is no more! I acknowledge that young people have to mind their reputation, to be respected professionally and personally. Well…would you look at that…one of the major blessings and freedoms of growing older–no one to answer to but yourself! Helen    (this article was written in response to Day 16 assignment from the Zero to Hero Challenge–http://dailypost.wordpress.com/zero-to-hero/#16)


CHALLENGES!– 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge –and the Zero to Hero Challenge!



I never knew I was a person who responded to challenges so strongly! LOL I’m trying to remember if, when I was a child, one of my friends would say “I betcha won’t do this Helen!” –well, would I, did I? If my memory serves me well, I have to admit that I did dare very easily, and now I haven’t changed much apparently!

I joined two challenges just a week ago to improve my blog and my understanding of the word press community.  The Zero to Hero Challenge gives us a daily assignment that varies between tasks like putting new widgets in our blogs, to reading and commenting on other blogs! That brings me to today’s blog post, one I hope will satisfy my Zero to Hero Challenge. We were assigned yesterday, on “DAY 11: BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR — LEAVE COMMENTS ON THREE NEW BLOGS

The best thing you can do to connect with others and build a community around your site is to, well, engage. You’ve already been following topics and blogs, and chatting with other Zero to Hero participants — let’s take that up a notch.

Today’s assignment: leave comments on at least three blogs that you’ve never commented on before.”


  In completing that assignment, I discovered a blog written by Amy Johnson Crow on genealogy. Amy was issuing another  challenge:  52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks  in her blog, “No Story Too Small”.  http://www.nostorytoosmall.com/posts/52-ancestors-challenge-week-1-recap/

The title of her blog resonated with my desire to tell the stories of the ancestors, cousins, and descendants in my own family tree! I love the family tree work I have done, but even more, I love the stories! I love feeling like I am getting to know my family! Joining her challenge encourages me to do what I love. Not only will I be blogging more consistently this year, I hope, but look at all the kindred spirits I have the opportunity to get to know—a whole new community! Thank you for thinking of this challenge Amy Johnson Crow, and thank you for administering it! The huge response you got shows how hungry we all are to connect with our families, our history and each other I believe! I am very excited to participate!

Now, while all of the above is true, I want you to know, that it also fulfills the challenge assigned us for Day 12 of our “Zero to Hero Challenge”! The assignment read “DAY 12: FROM COMMENT TO BLOG POST — BE INSPIRED BY THE COMMUNITY

Yesterday, you left comments on three different blogs. (Or more, if you found more great posts that made you think or pushed you to respond, you overacheiver, you.) Lots of you shared the blogs you found in posts or in yesterday’s forum thread. We also advised you to remember where you left your comments — you’ll need one of those comments today.:

Today’s assignment: write a post that builds on one of the comments you left yesterday. Don’t forget to link to the other blog!”

 So this assignment I did for today, but more importantly I did for the year–I joined her challenge to write about  52 ancestors in 52 weeks and I am so excited! But thinking back about how challenges have always played a part in my life..I couldn’t help but think about my very first friend on this earth–and oh, how he challenged me!

I remember that, even though I lived in a rural area just outside of Richmond, Virginia as a child– my best friend, a boy, exactly my age, lived right next door.

Child riding stickhorseDavis and I were best friends and mortal enemies depending on the day. We spent somewhat of an idyllic childhood playing Roy Rogers and Dale Evans together. We both had older siblings in school, but with no kindergarten, we had each other at home until we were six! Davis always challenged me! And I always let myself be dared! Both our Dad’s smoked back then– in the fifties! One of the challenges Davis used to throw at me was to eat the ends off of burnt matches lying in the ashtrays liberally scattered throughout our houses in those days! And I did it! And while his Mom taught piano lessons in the other room, we raided their refrigerator and pantry and dared each other to eat the vilest things: like pickles and peanut butter, LOL, sardines and grape jelly! What must his mother have thought of the debris! She probably thought I was a terrible influence on her son…little did she know! After we’d gorged ourselves on disgusting stuff, we would strap on our cap guns and run down to hold up the school bus and demand that the driver let our big brother and sister off the bus! LOLgirl in cowgirl outfit Today we’d be in jail as terrorists, or reform school—we were five years old! Free as birds! Today that boy is a superior court judge! I was a psychologist…we turned out okay.

Now that’s a story for my own descendants—I hope it is not the only one they will hear, LOL, but I want them to know as many in the family as I know, so writing these blog posts about ancestors and family members will be so much fun!

Hope you have a great day and come back to talk with me!  Helen

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Zero to Hero Challenge


Hello my fellow bloggers on WordPress! I am excited about joining you in this “Zero to Hero” challenge, even though as usual, I am late in joining the party!! I just jumped right in and started blogging a little over a year ago, and realize now that as much as I’ve enjoyed it, I have a lot to learn! I’d like to improve the look of my overall blog, learn some of the nitty-gritty techniques that can add great jazz and pizazz…just plain interest….to our posts. So here I am, looking for help! 

I started out wanting to build a community of followers and talkers on my blog. Well, that hasn’t happened! LOL  So, now I’m trying to blog because I love to write, I’m retired, disabled, and feel blessed to have this outlet so that I don’t go stir crazy! I think perhaps I’ve written about too many different things…neighbors, red hatters, abuse, gardening, genealogy…just to name a few, and some readers are just turned off. I also write sporadically, so that keeps people from knowing when to tune in. For those who are following me already, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. I might be embarrassed for you to now see how little I really know about blogging, but your feedback is still welcome. In fact, maybe this would be a good time for some of you, Linda M, Anne P., Sharon Lynn, Beverly B W, to name a few, to decide to take this challenge with me and start your own blog! Wouldn’t that be fun to do together!  I don’t think I’ll be sharing this little series on  facebook however! We’ll see.

So, I’d like to decide whether to start different blogs for different subject matters, or whether to keep one big blog that is “me”, and perhaps go to a different theme or style of presenting the blog that will make the different topics more logical. 

There are some mechanics, very simple even, that I need to learn as well. Like, I cannot get the different fonts to”hold” even if I can figure out how to choose them! I also cannot get my spacing or placement of words on my drafts, to hold and be the same when I publish my post. The words are sometimes placed differently, no matter how many times i try to arrange them a certain way and save the look–color, size…I need more control! Help! 

I am so looking forward to this challenge!