Comments By Cathy

June 2017

Celebrating Memorial Day And Father’s Day

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

It was November 1943 and the Vagabond King left its base in England for a mission over the sea in Norway. The crew had flown many missions together including a near fatal one as part of the August 1943 Ploeski Oil Fields Bombing Raid. From this November mission the crew would fly their final mission.

I grew up with a picture of the Vagabond King, a B-24 Liberator, and her crew hanging in an honored place. My dad is pictured there on the front row center. Fortunately for me and my family, daddy had a medical emergency and was unable to fly on that final fatal mission. The divine hand of God, I can’t help but feel encouraged by the constant prayer from my grandmother, brought him and his four brothers and two brothers-in-law back from that war that claimed so many. Of the six adult sons, including my father, five served in the military during WWII, representing all the major branches of the armed services. The youngest son, not of age for WWII, served during the Korean War. Thankfully, all returned safely.

On Memorial Day, as always, I remembered the men of the Vagabond King. They, among so many others, gave their lives for our freedom. Daddy was crew chief on the Vagabond King during the Ploeski Oil Raid. Despite that close call and many others, he was able to return home to my mother, become a father to two daughters and celebrate Father’s Day with his family.

Daddy died many years ago and I no longer have the opportunity to celebrate with him on Father’s Day. But he was a big influence on my life. He returned from the war, went to work for Eastern Air Lines, fathered me and my sister, and lived long enough to meet his grandchildren. But his life wasn’t easy. From his late thirties he had Parkinson’s disease. He didn’t give in to the disease, and for much longer than the doctors projected, he continued to work, to play golf, and enjoy his family. Because of the Parkinson’s he could no longer sing in a church quartet, pass the offering plate and earlier than should have happened he went into a dementia. But he didn’t dwell on what he couldn’t do, but focused on what he could do. He was an inspiration to me and so many others.

My dad left this world much too soon. Our time together passed much too quickly and I wish there could have been time for one more walk or one more conversation with him. The best gift I have given my children is the same one my mother gave to me: a loving father who treasures time with his children even when they are all grown up.

May 2017

May For Motherhood And Mental Health

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

May is the month for celebrating both Mother’s Day and Mental Health Month. There should be a tie in with the two. Several things come to mind.

One: how many people have been in therapy discussing issues with their mothers. Is this just a myth from television movies and sit-coms or reality? I rather think it’s more the latter.

Two: motherhood can bring on depression. The famous post-partum blues are definitely a reality for many moms. A trained physician may be needed to bring back the good mental health.    Three: the joy of motherhood can bring joy that aids in good mental health.

Motherhood is a life-long job. It’s one of the toughest jobs on earth. For most moms it means lack of sleep and worry about another person. It can mean skipped meals making sure little ones are fed and forsaking new wardrobes to cloth constantly growing children.

There’s no such thing as a perfect mother. Mothers come in all shapes and sizes, all temperaments, and educational levels. Mothers bring their own childhood baggage to the role and there is no training that can prepare a mother for all the challenges that will come her way.

Here is a snapshot of three mothers who have overcome challenges. One, in order to bond with her son, took him on a weeklong hike along the Appalachian Trail. She wasn’t a hiker, but set out, determined to help him and create a bond between the two of them. It took almost the entire week to begin to reach that bonding, but she persisted. She continues to climb the trail, sometimes with her son, sometimes with friends and soon will have climbed the entire Appalachian.

Another mother, an extended family member, has a young son with severe disabilities from a genetic syndrome. He has seen almost more days at Children’s Healthcare than at home. Finishing law school just before her son was born; she passed the bar and put her career on hold, devoting her time to her sons, a second child born without the genetic disabilities. Fortunately, she has an incredible support system with her husband and parents. Her life is centered on her children and she is an amazing mother.

A third mother, one we interviewed for our media client, Cobb and Douglas Community Services Boards, told her story of meth addiction, and how she was in danger of losing her children. Her story is one of many similar stories that we have heard from clients at “Mothers Making a Change”. This mother, not quite 21, already had three children and an addiction that was ruling her life, and it took the loss of her children and a court order to compel her to seek help. When we interviewed her, she was in recovery, had her children back in her custody and had turned her life around.

Motherhood is a destination and a journey. Once the child is yours, you have reached the motherhood destination. You have the title, “mother”, and it’s yours to enjoy. And, at the same time, your journey as a mother has just begun. It will take you down roads untraveled. You will walk with other mothers on the same journey, yet have your own adventures; your own challenges and joys.

April 2017

Overlooking The Smudges And Imperfections Of Life

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

It was a recent Sunday and I had a small role to play, leading the prayer after the offertory during each service. Knowing I would be leaving early that morning and wanting to look my best, I had my outfit chosen the night before. I was striving for perfection. As I was leaving the house, with no time to change, I noticed a smudge on my dress. I had to hope the sweater I wore over the dress would cover it up. After I came home, standing with my back to Allan, he noticed that my hose had a run all the way up one leg. So much for the lovely church attire! First a smudge and then a run; perfection was no longer possible.

The nice thing about church is that we go there because we aren’t perfect. We can dress ourselves up in our best clothes and have an attitude of self-confidence, but our flaws are still there. Only one has ever lived on earth who was perfect and it is His death and resurrection that we focus on during Holy Week.

The struggle for perfection affects some more than others. For some of us, there is the challenge to find the perfect word to say in any situation; the perfect column to write; the perfect house; the perfect family; the perfect life. I admit I have strived for perfection and become upset with myself when I let myself down. But, even if I expect perfection from myself, it’s not fair to expect it always from everyone else. And not fair to myself to expect it all the time.

Life is a continuous chain of unexpected imperfections to be taken in stride, corrected or made right. The dress with the smudge will go to the laundry; the hose with the run will go in the trash; and the next outfit will be flawless – but then, again, maybe not.

The important thing to focus on is how we handle life when it doesn’t go perfectly. Do we have a complete melt-down; do we give up; do we put our imperfections off on someone else; do we dwell on them and never move on? Or do we take a good look at the situation, figure out what went wrong and try to do better next time?

I feel bad for those in the public eye whose every flaw is replayed at will by those who wish to ridicule or do harm to the reputation of others. It’s important to have high expectations of those in public life, especially those making decisions that affect the rest of us, but not to ridicule them or distort their imperfections unnecessarily.

As we enjoy the worship and celebration of Easter, let us focus on the one who was perfect rather than our own and our neighbors’ imperfections. Let us strive for our own personal perfections in things that matter rather than on the slight smudges of imperfection that clutter our everyday lives.
March 2017

A LOVE STORY AND A SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

There once was a boy and girl who met in a college newspaper office. Their first date was to a college publication banquet. They courted; fell in love; and in due time were engaged and then married. Their sage began more than 45 years ago and turned into a happily ever after true-life story.

The boy and girl, as readers have probably guessed, were me and Allan and this St. Patrick’s Day we will be celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary. Part of me, I must admit, says don’t give away our age by talking about how long we’ve been married. But our love story is one I’m proud to be a part of and 45 years is a special anniversary.

Have we had a perfect life and marriage with no problems or issues? Definitely not! But married life has been wonderful for both of us. We were married almost 10 years before being blessed with children. We have had illness and death of loved ones, fun trips, awards and disappointments, and challenges both good and not so good.  Our children and our granddaughters are a center of our life. It is so rewarding to know that each of our children has a happy marriage. Katie and Drew celebrated 10 years in October and Peter and Drew will celebrate 10 years at the end of this month.

We have been blessed to come from a line of family with long-lasting marriages. My parents were married just a few months short of 50 years, until their death 3 and ½ weeks a part took them from each other. Allan’s parents were married about 40 years until the death of his father. Our grandparents, most of my cousins, our aunts and uncles had long marriages. My sister and her husband celebrated their 45th anniversary last June.

Even after 45 years of marriage, I don’t consider myself an expert on the subject. But I have thought about it through the years. What does it take for a long happy marriage? Each marriage is unique to the couple, but, for us, sharing our love and faith is the foundation. Next is having respect for each other; being friends and enjoying being together but still having enough space for our separate activities. Trusting each other and having good communication is important. Sharing interests is important, since we not only live together, but, we work together and play together. Respecting our individuality is also important.

I know that what works for our marriage might not work for other couples. As I wrote earlier, each marriage is unique. We were blessed to find each other all those years ago. We know some very happy couples who didn’t find each other until after a first starter marriage that wasn’t so happy. And I have some relatives who have had a happy marriage; then the death of a spouse; and then another long happy marriage.

In 1972 the average cost of gasoline was $0.55 a gallon and a postage stamp cost $0.08. The average rent was $165 a month which is about what we paid on our first apartment in Buckhead. We have seen a lot of changes in life since we married. And after 45 years, it feels like we are still at the beginning of married life with lots of love and fun ahead.

February 2017

QUOTES THAT LINGER WELL PAST THEIR EXPIRATION DATE

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

It’s a rough time to be a politician, especially if you’re a political candidate who wants to change your mind on an earlier opinion. In this age of instant news, with google and video news clips archived forever, what is said years earlier lives on well past the expiration date.

In recent political campaigns much has been made of candidates who have changed their stance on important matters. There is liberal use of sound bites and video clips of previous stands of the candidate or public official. Things said and things done in the past can certainly come back to bite. I personally think it is okay for a political figure or anyone to change their opinion or their thinking on matters of politics, philosophy, religion, or fashion. But, in this age of instant recall, it’s best to consider consequences before speaking..

Having been both an elected official and a newspaper publisher, I do a computer search of myself and my family members occasionally to find out what’s out there on me. It’s informative to find out what lives on in cyberspace. The interesting thing is that, every time I search myself, I find some references that I had not seen before. In my last google, I found a site from 1994 from the Cobb County Municipal Association Directory with all the Cobb elected officials some with photos and phone numbers. There are judges and legislators, Cobb School Board Members and City Elected officials. Fortunately, the listing for the Marietta Board of Education didn’t include photos. Another interesting find on my self-absorbed search goes back to our time in Kingsland, Ga, when I was a founding board member for the local library. This was a listing from a State site. Don’t worry readers: I’m not going to go over all of my listings. But, if you haven’t tried it, give your name a computer search and see what’s out there.  The difficulty comes if you have a very common name that is difficult to narrow down to just one person.

But even if you have an unusual name like mine, you may very well find that there is more than one person with the same name. Yes, even a name as unusual as “Cathy Lipsett” has more than one listing. There is at least one person with my name in Canada. Not that unusual since my husband Allan’s father was from Canada.

From FaceBook to Twitter to Linkedin, newspaper stories, television stories, and blogs, photos and words linger for years and years. History is being recorded in new ways for the living and the dead. I can do a google search for my great-grandfather and come up with stories about his heroism in the Civil War. I can do a search for my father, who died in 1986, and come up with stories of his heroism in World War II. Our stories, for better or worse, are recorded in cyberspace and seem to have no expiration date.

RESOLVING TO ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE

January 2017

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

In an unusual move, Allan and I went on to bed before the New Year began. We stayed awake, reading, waiting, and watching the ball drop at Times Square on the IPad. No celebration; just a quiet happy new year and on to sleep. In our defense, we were both recovering from the flu/cold bug that was going around. The bug takes a lot away from feeling up to excitement and celebration.

When you stop and think about it, the transition from Dec. 31 to January 1 is just a change in numbers, this year from a 16 to a 17. Otherwise, things in our lives are pretty much the same. So, in my feverish, achy thoughts, I had an awakening; a new philosophy about the New Year. This year I would make no resolutions; no promises to change. I would simply reflect on all the good things about the year passing and look toward these good things continuing into the New Year. Instead of vowing to make resolutions, I want to appreciate all the positives rather than focus on the negatives.

Years ago, when we owned a weekly newspaper in Coastal Georgia, we had one of the few copy machines in town that allowed public access. Around Christmas one year, someone came in to make copies of their annual letter. After they left, we realized that the original was still on the copier. Someone in our office, in removing it, accidently noticed that it was filled with all of that family’s scandals for the year. A shocking revelation of this family’s past year to send to their family and friends. This was before Facebook when such posting are routine for many people.

The problem with a Christmas letter that only lists all of the good things that have happened, it can begin to sound like bragging. If we had written a letter it would go something like this: we had a family trip to the beach, enjoyed visits from my sister and brother-in-law, from a long-time friend, and from both of our children and their families. We hosted a dinner for friends and spouses from my old childhood neighborhood. We published 24 newspaper editions, and had a new kitchen floor installed after only 28 years of hating the floor that came with our house. Allan and I both were installed as church officers and have taken a more active role in the life of our church.

Yes, we had struggles during the year and worries about our kitty who has been losing weight. But we have had a good year in 2016 overall. It has gone quickly, like one of those nights when you roll over to sleep and it seems only a minute later that it’s morning. The past year was like that. It was a good year; a fast year; and we have hopes for a good year in 2017.

My heroes, however, are those who had a rough year with illness and death and personal struggles and yet maintained their optimism and a smile; who have continued to keep going when it would be easier to give up. My other heroes are those who give their time and talents and money to help others, despite their own difficulties and challenges.

TRANSITIONING FROM HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO MERRY CHRISTMAS

December 2016

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

Our house was quiet, eerily quiet, with an emptiness of spirit even though Allan and I were filling rooms with our presence. We our spirits were low, a part of us missing. It was the afternoon of our Virginia family’s return to their home. It had been a wonderful Thanksgiving visit but all too brief.

Walking through the house, I found lingering signs of their visit – an empty pink sippy cup that two-year-old Harper had left on the kitchen table; the necklace that five-year-old Lilly Bell had whispered to me that she had forgotten, left on a tray beside her bed; the toys that we had brought out for them to play with ready to pack away for the next granddaughter visit.

We are back now with our grown-up house and missing the giggles and running and imaginative play. But the house is better for their visit, the tree decorated by big hands and small ones joining together, the Nativity in place including the leaf and pine cone added by little ones, bringing the outdoors inside. The Advent wreath sits on the table and we were able to light the first candle as a family.

Leftover turkey, ham, cookies, crackers and juice continued to sustain us long after our son and his family returned to Virginia. It was an adjustment to cook for two rather than six. We’ve taken the leaves from the tables and now set it for two.

But time moves on and we are now well into the Advent season awaiting the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child. Our own children and granddaughters are a part of our joy whether they are physically with us or not. We are family with everything good that the word implies. We are connected by memories of Christmas past, connected by love that spans from past to present.

I have always loved the Advent and Christmas season, from my early days of setting up a tree at my parents, waiting for Santa, and the Christmas story, plays and pageants. The addition of marriage and then our own children heightened the enjoyment. Now, with granddaughters added to the season, the circle of love is awesome.

There was a man on television recently touting his notion of “Christmas without the Church.” And it can be done, in a strictly non-religious sense for those who are non-believers. They can decorate a tree, sing “Jingle Bells”, and give and receive gifts. That is their choice to make and I’m glad they are celebrating Christmas, even if only in a secular way.

But to me, as one who has been a believer since birth, they are missing the essence, the spirit, the reason for celebrating Christmas. My Christmas has “Jingle Bells” and greenery and gifts, but it also has, at its center , the Nativity, the Carols, the Advent wreath, Angels and Shepherds and Wise Men and, of course, the Holy family with the Christ Child in a Manger.

This is a magical time of year and people of all faiths, creeds, religions, believers and non-believers can share this season of love, peace and joy – each in their own way. Let’s not be afraid to say Merry Christmas to our friends and neighbors, making this a politically correct term of expressing our love for one another and our desire to work together for peace on earth goodwill to men.

IT’S ALL ABOUT TURKEY AND GIVING THANKS

November 2016

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

I enjoy cooking Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a pleasantly stressful production, planning the menu – not that it changes greatly from year to year – getting the timing right so that everything is done at the same time, setting a lovely table, and sharing our thankfulness.

I admit that I’m a bit compulsive when it comes to the planning; putting my time-table in writing, and hoping that everything will go smoothly. Yes, I like checking things off my to-do list.

Turkey production, while basically the same, always has something that makes the current Thanksgiving different, special, or unusual. Last year, with the arrival of our Virginia family on Thursday evening, our official Thanksgiving dinner was on Friday. It was a traditional dinner but just a day late. It was special because we were together as a family.

One year, we had super-turkey, one that managed to cook in half the proper time, throwing off my entire schedule. I was cooking it in one of those counter-top roasters that has now gone to live elsewhere. Turkeys are not supposed to cook that fast. It was tasty, however, despite its lack of proper timing.

The first year that Allan and I were married, I offered to have our two families come to our home for Thanksgiving. I had my time-table worked out even in those early years. But, when you merge two extended families, you also merge two sets of habits. My family, including my parents, my sister and her husband, and their baby daughter, arrived about an hour early. They were my family, so that was okay, except that I needed to be cooking and not entertaining. But I was so happy to have them in my new home that it didn’t matter. The dinner was getting ready on schedule, however, but Allan’s family, including his mother, father and sister, had not arrived. Mine were early; his were late, the turkey was dry, but we were all together and we survived the first test – after the wedding – of family united.

This year, our daughter, Katie, her husband, Drew, and children Addie and Caroline will be sharing Thanksgiving with the in-laws in North Carolina. Our son, Peter, his wife Ann-Bailey, and children Lilly Bell and Harper will be coming in from Virginia on Thanksgiving morning, plenty of time for a traditional Thanksgiving feast. We will be joined by Allan’s sister, Phyllis Lipsett for a family feast.

As I prepared to write this column, I started wondering about the Thanksgiving traditions. Why do we serve turkey, for example? Like many others, when I need answers, I Google. I really didn’t find a good answer to the turkey question. Maybe during early holiday celebrations it was an inexpensive food that would stretch for a large number of people.

I did find out that there are different theories as to the original Thanksgiving. The traditional thought is that the holiday’s origins go back to the deliverance of the pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621 after a harsh winter. After the harsh winter, there were only four grown, married women left alive in the pilgrim’s settlement to prepare all of the food. The men went hunting for fowl for the meal. Was it turkey, I wonder?  The Native American’s helped the pilgrims from the Mayflower survive by teaching them to harvest food.

A historically religious holiday to give thanks to God for our blessings, the day is also celebrated as a secular holiday. Personally, I’m grateful for a holiday that places importance on saying thanks to God for our blessings, which brings families and friends together, and allows folks to set their own individual traditions, whether it be watching the Macy’s parade, watching football, long naps in the afternoon, or just eating and talking and being together. Happy Thanksgiving!

BRIGHT SIDE CALENDAR REFLECTS AN ACTIVE SOUTHERN COBB COMMUNITY

October 2016

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

October is that time of year when the air is beginning to get crisp and fresh, the weather is cool mornings and evenings and warm in the afternoon. The color of October is orange with pumpkins spreading joy over church yards and front porches. There is the crunch of leaves in our steps and the fresh outdoorsy smell of nature.

 As I was putting together our October newspaper calendar, I realized just how much is going on in our community. We don’t capture every activity but we do have a great selection of activities for our citizens to choose from. And there isn’t enough room for all of it in our print edition. There are even more calendar items in the full calendar on our website: www.www.brightsidecobb.com.

This October there is the Story Telling festival in Mableton (Oct. 15) and the Jonquil Festival in Smyrna (Oct. 22-23). There are Haunted Houses, Fall Festivals, Pine Straw and Pumpkin sales.

Are you a young mother who wants to share experiences with other mothers or events for the family? We have listings for Moms’ clubs and child-friendly activities. Are you looking for a civic group or a business association? Yes, we have lots of listings for these. Want a specific support group? There is a good chance we will have it listed. Farmers markets, fun events like the Jonquil Festival: all listed in our calendar. Senior citizens looking for activities can find listings in a separate section under the Senior Citizen Centers.

We try to list everything that is sent our way, but with space limitations, we give preference to non-profits, churches, and community events. We also give a preference to events for our advertisers, because, let’s face it, without them there would be no print edition of the Bright Side mailed directly to homes.

Ah, you say you don’t receive one of our papers in your mailbox? Indeed even with 40,000 copies distributed among the two editions, we don’t reach every home we would like to reach. But we do overprint several thousand copies that are available in various locations including the Smyrna Library, Smyrna Community Center, and Cumberland Mall Chick-fil-A; and, for South Cobb readers, the Mable House Arts Center, Floyd Road Kroger, Mableton Pharmacy, and with both papers at our advertisers’ locations.

We want to receive your local news by email at news@www.brightsidecobb.com for Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, and Austell. Please don’t send news in flyer format; just words in a Word file or in the body of the email. Photos should be in a separate jpeg file. Deadline each month is the 23rd.

As publishers of The Bright Side, we are proud of the fact that our readers encompass a wide spectrum of demographics. We hope you will find news to connect you with the community; activities to enjoy; and businesses to meet your every need. What makes us happy? It’s readers who tell us that they enjoy reading our newspapers and that it has been a benefit for them in some way. Thank you to each of you who read The Bright Side  via our print edition, on our web site (www.www.brightsidecobb.com); via our e-weekly sent by email every Thursday (send us an email and say subscribe to receive it) or by reading our updates on Facebook (www.facebook.com/brightsidecobb.).

Southern Cobb is an exciting, active part of our County. We have activities here for every age, every interest, for every budget. We hope you will find just the right group or event for you in The Bright Side each month.

A SPECIAL TEACHER AND A PIVOTAL MOMENT

September 2016

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

Some years ago, as chairman of the awards committee of the Georgia School’s Association, I stood on the stage at the Cobb Galleria Center Ballroom, in front of about 1,000 school board members and superintendents, presenting an award to Governor Zell Miller. Me, the super shy kid from Hapeville, Georgia, was speaking to this large group of people. The confidence to do this traces back to my favorite teacher, the one who prepared me best for the rest of my life….Ann S. Parramore.

Some events in life, unknown to us at the time, are pivotal moments. One of these important moments for me came in December 1965. It was our senior year in high school that the Hornet newspaper staff sponsored a special White Christmas program. Mrs. Parramore decided that, as part of the presentation, I would read the Christmas story from Luke, before the entire student body. Me, one of the shyest kids in the whole school, would stand on that stage and read. “I can’t do that,” I told her. I don’t remember her exact words but it was something like “you can and you will.” And I did, shaking knees and all.

She had an amazing way of getting students to develop their talents and move outside their comfort zones, to grow and develop their talents. She had already stretched the limits of my personality by encouraging me to be a part of the Hornet staff, interviewing people, and interacting with fellow students. Because of Ann Parramore’s influence, I went on to study journalism at Georgia State University, have a career as a journalist, and feel comfortable speaking before large and small audiences.

Throughout my journalism career, as a newspaper publisher, and as a local school board member, I have had occasions to speak before groups of people. I once introduced House Speaker Newt Gingrich at a meeting of about 400 Marietta Rotarians and Kiwanians with a bank of news cameras, including CNN, at the back of the room. I could do this because Ann Parramore once said I could. Whatever I do and wherever I go, this shy girl from Hapeville High School carries the confidence and abilities planted by a bold dominant teacher who convinced me I could open my mouth and speak to an audience.

As my class prepares for a special reunion, we were asked a series of questions to help us reconnect. One was “who was your favorite teacher and why?’ Throughout my school years, I have been taught by many outstanding caring teachers. But for me, the answer to this question was a no-brainer. It was Ann Parramore, the teacher who pushed me beyond my limits and made me stronger. I hope every student is blessed with at least one special teacher who will challenge and encourage and provide at least one pivotal life-changing moment.

BIRDS AND SQUIRRELS AND A FEEDING BATTLE

August 2016

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

Birds! They are fascinating to watch and to photograph. Our new passion is feeding the birds that come to our new feeder. Our other passion is fighting off the squirrels that are under the misimpression that it is a squirrel feeder.

Squirrels! You either love them or don’t. I won’t use the word hate because they are God’s creatures; but I definitely don’t care for the furry bushy-tailed rodents. We have had our attic insulation and wiring redone because of squirrel activity. The attic has been “squirrel-proofed.” Now they are taking over the bird feeder. We aren’t quite ready to upgrade to the “squirrel-proof” feeder.

In the late spring, at the Smyrna Garden Tour, Allan won a bird feeder donated by Backyard Feed and Seed. We then purchased a hanger from Wild Birds Unlimited in Smyrna. With the feeder and hanger, we were all set to host the birds in our neighborhood. It took a few days and then the birds starting showing up. We pulled out our bird guides and started identifying our visitors.

The feeder doesn’t hold the larger birds, but they have showed up to eat the food that drops onto the deck, basically the small birds’ leftovers. My favorites of the big birds are Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal.

The feeder is clamped onto the deck railing outside my office and it is such a joy to sit and think and write and watch the birds – until the squirrels show up. Mr. Squirrel shows up as soon as the birds are enjoying their feast, hangs upside down and chows down on the bird feed.  If the feeder is filled with birds, he just shoos them away. A few times brave birds have tried to eat alongside the intruder but that doesn’t last long.

I’ve heard that watching birds lowers the blood pressure. Unfortunately, our aggravating squirrels raise the blood pressure, putting us back where we started. While writing this column, I have alternated between watching the birds and opening the door and shooing the squirrel. I think Mr. Squirrel has started to enjoy our battle. The last time I went outside, he just sat on the deck railing and stared at me before sauntering off. Toby, our sweet black indoor kitty, just sits and watches the show. Birds, squirrels: he enjoys watching them all.

ALABAMA, TENNESSEE, AND A TINY MOUSE

July 206

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

“Wyomee,” said granddaughter Lilly Bell with gusto. This was her answer at her pre-school graduation. The question: where do you want to go when you grow up? Her dad’s thought is that she likes the sound of the word.

So where do you what to go? When Peter and Katie were just a little older than Lilly Bell, they wanted to go to Alabama. Not sure why, but it worked for a family trip. We planned a visit to a state part just across the Alabama line, then a jog up to Chattanooga and a few days staying at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo hotel.

We had lots of fun except for the mouse. The hotel was in the midst of renovations and apparently there were openings. In the middle of the night, I heard a noise, waking Allan and saying “there is a mouse trying to get our bread” We had some delicious bakery bread left from our Alabama picnic and sure enough there was a tiny mouse climbing into the picnic bag. Still groggy, Allan managed to capture the critter while I called the front desk and let them know about our visitor. We gave them the mouse, threw away the bread and moved into a mouse-free room. The rest of the trip, visiting Ruby Falls, Lookout Mountain, and Rock City were uneventful.

I haven’t been to Wyoming, but inspired by Lilly Bell, I’m putting it on the list of my grown-up bucket list of places to go. I have been to a number of states, but not those beautiful states such as Wyoming with wide-open spaces, and national parks with bears. Maybe someday!

Truth be told, we are still exploring our native state of Georgia and surrounding states. We are fortunate here in Georgia that we can take short trips for a day or a weekend for a stay-cation. Places like Alabama are just a short drive away. We can be in the Georgia, Tennessee or North Carolina mountains in a little an hour or two and at the beach at Tybee Island in four. Right here in Cobb County, with a vibrant big city on our door-step; we have a giant theme park;  soon to be ball park; hiking trails; historic sites; water parks, lakes, and great restaurants.

It’s nice to travel to new states and countries, exploring different cultures, foods, and scenic vistas. But sometimes it’s nice to explore nearby; to play tourist right here in our own land.

GROWNUPS AND CHILDREN NEED SUMMER VACATION

June 2016

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

Summer! It’s that special time of warm, lazy days of pleasure and fun. Trips to the beach or lake, cold lemonade, a shady porch and a good book complete the image. It’s the smell of honeysuckles and fresh mown grass. It’s the happy sound of children playing, freed from the confines of the classroom. It’s the joy of walking bare-footed on the beach, while waves gently wash over the toes.

For many folks, however, the reality is cool air conditioning and fluorescent lights inside the office, reading work related materials and drinking a lukewarm bottle of water. Vacations include toting the laptop for a quick check of the e-mails. Yes, we’re guilty of doing this ourselves, working when we are supposed to be relaxing. Last year, on a vacation to the beach, enjoying time with our granddaughters, we checked and responded to business e-mails a couple of times. We’re still working on the theory that vacation equates to relaxing but we’re not totally there.

Here in the metro area, summer vacation begins for school children earlier and earlier as does the school year. Growing up in Fulton County, I don’t remember school ever starting after Labor Day. It did for my “Yankee” cousins up in Delaware who would visit Georgia after we had started school. We usually started school around my mother’s birthday, August 25, with school ending around the first of June. But we also didn’t have an entire week off for Spring Break, instead, having just a few days off around Easter; and there was no fall break and winter break.

I don’t necessarily agree with the theory that school should start after Labor Day. But I do agree that kids need relaxing summers of fun and creative play. Grownups need summers too; not the whole summer, but the benefits of the relaxation of summer. We all need some time off from work, for the mind and body to relax and do something out of our routine.

As a kid, summers meant trips to the public library to pick books just for fun; it meant riding our bikes, playing in our yard or at our neighborhood park with friends, creating our own imaginary games or playing baseball, fun even though I was always the last one picked for a team.

Summer was the time we took family trips to Stone Mountain (before it was gated and commercialized) and to the zoo at Grant Park. Summer was a time for savoring watermelon, fresh lemonade, homemade ice cream and fresh vegetables.

The warmth of summer can blanket us with a relaxed, easy going spirit that will refresh us before the cold of winter returns. Even if for only a day during the summer, take off your shoes, put on your shorts, relax the dress code and the mindset. Find a front porch to sit on with a good book and a glass of lemonade or find a lake or a beach to visit. Remember, grownups, as well as kids, need a summer break.

GRADUATION SETS THE BEGINNING OF THE FUTURE

May 2016

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

It was many decades ago that my high school classmates and I sat on the stage at the old Atlanta Municipal Auditorium. We were filled with optimism about our future and thought we were mature enough to begin our lives as adults. As we marched across the stage to receive our diplomas, we had no idea what lay ahead.

Some of us were off to college in the fall; some began full-time jobs; some went into the military and the terrors of the Vietnam War. We would lose at least one classmate to that conflict. Those who went to war would grow up very quickly. Those who went into the workforce would also mature at a fast pace. Some of us matured at a slower pace as we continued as students.

We will soon hold one of those big reunions ending with a “0”. We have lost an unusually high number of classmates to death during the years since graduation. We have had careers in many different fields, built families, and many have now retired. We have but one thing in common: we stood together on that stage all those years ago and said goodbye to high school.

As I remembered those good times, I took out my charm bracelet from high school. The charms reflect the clubs I belonged to, my hobbies and interests. They also predicted the life I would lead in the future. There is the FJA charm – Future Journalist of America – as well as my Quill and Scroll charms for the Journalism Honor Society. The Library Club charm reflects my working in the school library and then my first job as a page at our local library. It also reflects my love of books that continues today. The Future Homemakers of America was a predictor of my love of making a good home for my family. I enjoyed the cooking part of Home Economics classes but, unfortunately, the sewing part, except for hems and buttons, did not become a part of my adult life.

Of course I also learned a lot in high school that isn’t reflected in charms, knowledge that isn’t used as much in my career as a journalist: chemistry, calculus, Latin, history. I use the English and basic math every day. But all of the courses contributed to making me a well-rounded adult as well as preparing me for college.

We found out that we never stop learning: how to be an adult, how to get along with people from all walks of life, how to budget, how to have a good work ethic, how to be part of a grown-up family complete with in-laws. We learned childcare and how to be a good parent.

As we said goodbye to high school and left the stage that spring evening May 17, 1966, my Hapeville High School classmates and I took our classroom lessons with us out into the world. When we gather in September for our 50th reunion, we will all look older and hopefully be wiser than those innocent graduates. And, hopefully, we will retain our optimism about the future.

FINDING THE RIGHT GANG TO HANG WITH

April 2016

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

Gangs! Always a bad thing, right? Actually, By definition, this may not be true. It depends on which definition you choose. It can be a group of people with like interest or a group of criminals. I have been thinking about this term recently for some reason.

We think of gangs as being a criminal group of young people, a dangerous group of people. But the truth is, unless we are hermits, we all have a gang or two that we hang with. Of course, we don’t call them gangs. They are associates or friends, or co-workers. These are the people we feel comfortable with; who comfort us; who support us; those we enjoy being with. We all need these peers to make us complete.

Although we don’t think of our group as a gang, the search for belonging starts early; and our groups usually change throughout our lifetimes. Unfortunately, for some of our youth, there is an association with those we would call “the wrong kind”. How do we help them find a more suitable group away from a life of crime? It’s a dilemma that so many have struggled with for some time. Our first support group is our family and for most of us, our family sets us on the right path for a lifetime. Unfortunately, for some of our community children, they lack this support early in life or reject it and seek support elsewhere.

At this time in my life, I seem to know a lot of people who are retiring. They are leaving a group that is a big part of their lives and moving into unknown territory. Many are finding new groups to join as their lives change directions. As children transition from one school to another, they too have to find a new group with which to spend their time. Do they join a wholesome club or activity such as band or theatre or scouts or are they claimed by a less wholesome gang? For many others, they have a permanent support group within their church and simply add other groups to their church groups.

As the 4- year-old granddaughters started pre-school, they had to find a group to hang with during recess. It was difficult for Lilly Bell as she switched from day care to pre-school; but for Addie, who had been home with her mom for four years, it was an especially difficult transition. After the first week, she lamented “why won’t anyone play with me?” Our hearts were breaking as she struggled to find her way in this new world and made friends.

When we first moved to Cobb County, Peter, Lilly Bell’s Daddy, was only seven. I could see his elementary school from my kitchen window and could see him sitting on the sidelines alone at recess. I wanted to go down to the school and find him a friend. But his wise teacher introduced him to a neighbor that she felt would be a good friend match. Belonging, having friends is such a big part of a healthy life.

Being painfully shy, I always hated making new friends. But I have some wonderful gangs that I belong to at church, in business associations and civic clubs. They give my life a richness and support.

At all stages of life, it can be difficult to join a new group and make friends, especially when we move into a new job, retirement, a new community, or a new neighborhood or church. But there are so many groups here in Cobb County for people to join.

HAPPINESS IS A FACETIME FROM A GRANDDAUGHTER

March 2016

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

The FaceTime ring went off and I rushed to answer, excited that it was our Charlotte family calling. On the screen was four-year-old granddaughter, Addie.

“Are you calling me on your own,” I asked? “Yes,” she said. “Mommy is getting Caroline in bed and Daddy is out of town.”

“Well, I’m glad you wanted to call me,” I said innocently. “You were third,” she said. “Mimi and Auntie were not available,” she replied. That would be her daddy’s mom and sister.  She is so honest. I told her I was glad I was on her list to call even if I was third. She was feeling lonely.

“I want Mommy to play with me but she is taking care of Caroline,” she said.

The evening was actually a departure from her routine. Usually, while Katie puts Caroline (almost two) to bed, their daddy, Drew, plays with Addie. But the good news is that she knew how to reach out to her extended family. I was so happy I was the one to talk with her. I’ll take third on the list when it comes to talking to granddaughters. Addie was in a tent she had made under the table and was actually doing well playing on her own. Of course, we’re only talking about 10 minutes or so that she was on her own in the living room and before our conversation ended Katie came into the tent with her. She was close enough to hear Addie and know how she was doing the whole time.

It’s hard being a little one and sharing parents with a sibling but it’s even harder to be a parent, balancing time with multiple children. The truth is, life may be easier with only one child, but with more than one there is extra fun and excitement. Sibling rivalries are a fact of life; there is a vying for the parental attention; for that special one on one time. Our own children had rivalry but also a lot of love for each other and delight in playing together. Like mine and Allan’s their lives are richer by having a sibling. I see the same sibling dynamics playing out in our granddaughters. Their parents are already becoming aware, however, that, as the sisters become closer, they can team up for mischief.

It is fun to watch as Caroline follows Addie and as Harper follows her big sister Lilly Bell. Whatever the big sister does the little sister wants to do as well. Fortunately, the younger sisters are very agile and able to keep up. Actually, in some cases, they seem more adventuresome than their big sisters. Harper turns two-years-old this month and Caroline in April. I’m sure that more exciting adventures from the two sets of sisters are in store for all of us.

Changes For The Better In Newspaper Publishing

February 2017

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

We were nearing the end of a media training session we were conducting for the Smyrna Business Association’s series on Growing Your Business. Earlier, Allan had reminded participants to silence their phones. I didn’t and it was my phone that rang. But it was okay; everyone had a nice laugh. It was my daughter, Katie, and granddaughter, Caroline, calling on Facetime. I was able to tell her to hold on and listen and thus they came to our seminar. Later, as I was working at my computer on the February paper, we had a Facetime call from Addie, who was at pre-school during the earlier call. She wanted to watch me work so I showed her, via video, how I work on the Community Calendar. It was a little like old times but so much different.

When Katie and her brother, Peter, were young, Allan and I owned a weekly newspaper in Camden County. We would take them with us to the office occasionally and they would “help” us work. Back then, writing a story was done on the typewriter and an employee retyped our copy into the computerized typesetting machine. We had a computer, a Radio Shack Model 2, but I used it for accounting and billing. We called our parents on the land-line phone at costly long distance and send them non-digital pictures to see their grandchildren. We produced the newspaper with hands-on paste up and our black and white photos were developed in our dark room. We were publishing a weekly newspaper with no cell phones; no personal computers; no internet; no emails; no digital cameras; no scanners or fax machines.

We were in some ways computerized from the late 70’s onward, but the typesetting equipment and the Radio Shack computer were primitive by today’s standards. One of the first things we purchased after we sold the newspaper in 1988 was a personal computer. If we had kept the newspaper, I’m sure we would have upgraded to more sophisticated computers. Publishing our Bright Side Newspapers is so much easier with all of our electronic devices. And not just for publishing. How much richer are our lives to be able to see our granddaughters and children live through video as we go about our daily lives. With all of us living in different states, we can stay connected.

As for the publishing, during our media seminar, one participant noted that our electronic weekly edition had come through on his cell phone. Although we love publishing a print edition, we also publish the Eweekly; the full paper is on our web site and we publish updates regularly on our FaceBook page. To receive our weekly electronic edition, send us your email address and write subscribe. Send to news@www.brightsidecobb.com. Our website is www.brightsidecobb.com and we are on FaceBook at Bright Side Cobb Newspapers. We hope you will “like” us and check our posting regularly.

Our granddaughters will never know a world without computers and cell phones. Even at ages two and four they are adept at using the electronic devices. On a long road trip recently, our daughter-in-law, Ann-Bailey, allowed her daughters to take selfies. The one by Harper, age two, with her sister, Lilly Bell, age four, is priceless. Who knows what wonders the world will know by the time they are adults. But I hope that print newspapers are still around for folks to read and share with future generations.

 

PLANNING FOR CHRISTMAS GIFTS TAKES TIME

October 2015

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

Let’s talk about Christmas. Yes, I know it’s not yet Halloween. And I know there are many people who complain about decorations in stores in October for a December holiday. But bear with me. There is method to my madness.

I want to discuss gifts that go beyond the ordinary; gifts that need creativity and planning. As a procrastinator I can tell all the reasons for delaying. But Christmas will be here sooner than expected and for handmade, original gifts, the time to begin is now.

One of the best gifts we gave to our two older granddaughters a few years ago was an original story about Toby the Cat. I wrote the story and Allan created the graphics and it almost didn’t happen in time for Christmas. We were finishing it right before we left to visit each family. Thus, I know personally that it’s not too early to start planning those special gifts.

If I were more talented with sewing, crocheting, or knitting, I can imagine many gifts I could create: quilts, blankets, doll clothes, crocheted animals and so on. But, despite my mother trying to teach me to crochet and several years of high school home economics, I have no skills in this area.

I love finding crystal platters at estate sales, consignment stores and antique shops, perfect for gifting homemade baked goods. The crystal is much better than plastic or paper, inexpensive to buy and a container that doesn’t have to be returned. Alas, baking cookies is not my talent either. But these special trays also serve well for a fruit platter or homemade fudge, gifts which I can prepare.

Creating a photo album takes time but will be enjoyed for generations. My mother created such an album for me with pictures of her and my dad from their early married days and later pictures of my childhood. It is a treasure that I cherish.

Yes, it’s early to be decorating for Christmas. And, yes, it’s too early to begin baking. I know at our house baked goods would be eaten well before Christmas. But it’s not too early to begin planning or putting talents to work. What is your talent? Is it baking, sewing, painting, pottery, wood working, writing, photography, music? Homemade Christmas gifts aren’t just for adults. It’s a great time to begin teaching children about giving and creating gifts.

And for those folks who have everything and need nothing, why not the gift of time? Helping someone with a household project, or giving the gift of time with a visit, or a dinner can be wonderful gifts. One Christmas, our son-in-law gave us the gift of his talents by installing a light under kitchen cabinets and a new fan in the powder room. These are gifts we’re still enjoying and thanking him for.

Why not choose one or two special people to give the gift of yourself. Personally, I’m going to accept my challenge in one of these ways and not wait until December to begin.

 

Preschool Bells Ring For Addie and Lillie Bell

September 2015

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

Those two cute little babies, our first granddaughters, have grown into beautiful little misses. Four years have passed so quickly and now the two have begun pre-school. As I write this, they are just on the cusp of that special first day. They have their school supplies and backpacks and they are ready to begin this new chapter of life.
It’s not only a new chapter for Addie and Lilly Bell but also for their parents. Lilly Bell has been in a small private day care since she was an infant, but this will still be a big change for her. There will be more routine and more structure, new friends and a new teacher. For Addie, the change will be even greater. She has been home since an infant, enjoying life with her mommy as her teacher and baby sister Caroline as her playmate. The good thing is that she will be able to go to school three days a week for a half day. Not as abrupt a change as full time.
Both girls have a passion for books and learning. They love creative play, singing and dancing. And they love the outdoors. I asked Addie what part of preschool she was most looking forward to. Her answer: recess.
My wish is for them to make great friends with whom to share secrets and and adventures; to have a caring teacher who will nourish their love of learning; and a positive experience that will set the stage for all the schools in their future.
I had lunch recently with a long-time friend from my childhood neighborhood. We hadn’t seen each other in a very long time and we were catching up on our lives, on our children and, of course, on our grandchildren. I was telling her about the girls going to pre-school and she shared a story about our first grade that I hadn’t heard before.
We were in the same first grade class many, many years ago. We didn’t have pre-school or kindergarten, going straight into first grade. We both had been home with our mothers all of our lives. My friend, it turns out, was terrified to go into the classroom that first day, convinced that she would never find her mother again. The principal found out that I was the only one she knew in any of the first grade classes and moved her into the same class with me. She said she felt comforted, sure that I would be able to find my mother and then she would find hers.
My wish for my granddaughters is to have teachers and staff with compassion, adults who will take their fears and their joys seriously, who will encourage them and comfort them, and keep their passion for learning burning brightly. I also hope their parents will encounter teachers and staff who will understand their fears and anxiety as their little ones become preschoolers.

REMEMBERING AN UN-AIRCONDITIONED LIFE

August 2015

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

Nostalgia! When you reach a certain age, there is a lot to look back on, remembering the “good old days, when life was simpler, neighborhoods were safer, and there were fewer rules and regulations governing our lives.

But there is a lot to be said for new and improved. This hit home at the end of July when we realized that our downstairs home air conditioner was not producing cool air. To put it bluntly, our house was hot and our electric bill was sky-high. We couldn’t go on living that way, especially since we do our newspaper production and writing from our home office. It’s hard to think and to write and to produce when sweltering. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that hot; but it was pretty unpleasant. Let’s face it, this has been a very warm summer.

Finally, we broke down and called a repairman, ending up replacing  our air conditioners and the  26 year old miracle furnace that was certainly due to fail on us in the upcoming winter. With this taken care of, we are now functioning much better.

As we were going through all of this, however, Allan and I began to wonder how we survived our childhoods. As young children, neither of us had air-conditioned homes or cars. We “rolled” the windows down in the car for air and turned on fans and opened windows in the house. We played outside; sat on porches, especially in the evenings; went to the neighborhood pool; and didn’t forsee that as young adults our lives would be much cooler.

We left the windows open and often the doors unlocked even when we went out, concerned only that it might rain while we were away. We rode in cars without seat belts and car seats. We weren’t necessarily  as safe as today. There is good reason for the seat belts, air bags and car seats. Now we keep the windows closed and the air conditioner on; and the doors locked and the alarm on even when inside the house and car.

I like the modern conveniences such as central air conditioning and heat; I like the safety and luxury of the modern car. I don’t want to go back to the good old days. I appreciate my current grown-up life with the modern conveniences such as central heat and air, cell phones and computers. However, it is nice occasionally to look back with nostalgia and fond memories: sitting on my grandmother’s screened porch, cool in the summer evening; playing in the park with my neighborhood friends; and enjoying the rain-cooled night after a summer storm.

From the August 2015 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

SHARKS, DANGERS, AND WORRIES WON’T SPOIL OUR SUMMER FUN

July 2015

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

The beach we enjoyed two summers ago, Oak Island, was the site of this year’s first shark attack. Up and down the North Carolina coast sharks left their bite marks on humans. Other attacks in South Carolina and Florida caused serious danger, disrupting summer fun.
We love the beaches along the southeastern coast. From the Outer Banks to Key West we have special memories of beach time. So, thinking of our beach trip this year to a North Carolina beach, we had to think seriously about the danger versus the fun.
The thing is, we can be safe in dangerous places like the beach; and have danger in safe places, like our home. We could stay home and have a tree fall on the house; or have a fall; or trip over our own two feet.

My famous story of danger in a safe place happened to our son, Peter, when he was 5. He had started soccer and was to have his first “game”. I was worried about my little boy out on that dangerous soccer field, concerned he would be hurt. So, transferring my fears unconsciously to Peter, he decided he wanted to stay home. While I made the bed in our room across the hall, Peter tripped over the covers hanging down from his yet unmade bed, fell and broke his arm on his tiled floor.

Fast forward 8 years and he was playing soccer at a tournament game in another county. Allan and I were at an event and were going to join him later in the day and sent Peter off with a teammate and his mother. The game had just started and Peter had been hit by another player and had a broken arm. We set a record driving to the hospital in Rockdale County to be with him; but, fortunately, it was a less serious break than the one he had at age 5 when not playing soccer.

I think as individuals and especially as parents we have to be prudent in our actions, protecting ourselves and our children from unnecessary harm. But we can’t live in a bubble; we can’t be afraid of everything, hiding from every perceived danger. I confess that in our family I am known as the worrier. Our daughter, Katie, even gave me a “Worry Book”, a blank notebook to write down all my worries to let them go.

I can see the possible dangers in life when others don’t, especially in nature: snakes, bees, alligators, sharks, and the edge of mountains – you get the idea. I can be a real spoil sport. I have lived my life being very careful and have only broken two bones in my life, both within the past 5 years: breaking my arm while delivering papers at Cobb Hospital and walking swiftly down the hallway; and breaking my foot when a horse stepped on it. I wasn’t even riding the horse; just standing there having my picture made by his side.

So back to the concern about shark attacks: did we stay safe and stay home; go to the beach but stay out of the water; or use common sense and enjoy the trip and the water in safe areas? We opted to keep our plans for sun and fun but with an eye on safety and close to shore.

From the July 2015 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

WALKING WITH MY DAD AND OTHER SPECIAL MEMORIES

June 2015

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

One of my earliest memories is of my dad taking me to walk while my mom took care of my little sister. It’s a vague memory of a happy time, just the two of us, walking around the block. Adding a sibling is a rough time for a child who goes from being an only to sharing the parents. I was the older of two but have no memories of being an only. But I do have memories of time with my dad as he made sure I didn’t feel left out after my sister was born.

Now our son and son-in-law each have two children: a three year old and a one year old. They each make sure they have time to give the older girls special “daddy time” while the mom takes care of the little one. I’m sure when the girls are older this will retain memories of these special times just for them with their dad.
Addie loves going to walk with her dad; just the two of them having their special time. Peter enjoys taking Lilly Bell to ballet on Saturday mornings or to swimming lessons, giving them some special time just for the two of them.
I have other special memories with my dad:  my sister and I going to the golf course with him, walking with him while he played golf; having him take us out to sell Girl Scout Cookies; going on plane trips with him; all of us going on picnics and to Stone Mountain.
It’s not only the big events that create the best memories but the everyday things that form the fabric of our lives: family meals, walks, time together. Both of my parents are gone now, but the memories remain forever; they gave me the foundation for building my own family.
Father’s Day is one of those often glossed over holidays, not given the attention of Mother’s Day – fewer cards sent; fewer long distance phone calls; fewer gifts. Yet good fathers’ are not to be taken for granted.
Fathers get a bad rap on television shows and in movies where they are often put down as inadequate. It’s an image that needs to change to fit with modern fathers who are actively engaged in their children’s lives, spending time with the children, talking to them, reading to them, working hard, and giving wise advice. It shouldn’t be a competition of who is the best – between man and woman – father and mother – but a unity of family. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day should both be special. I am thankful that I was blessed with a wonderful father; that my husband has been a wonderful father to our children; and that our granddaughters have a wonderful father in our son and son-in-law.

From the June 2015 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

REMEMBERING THE JOYS AND EXHAUSTION OF MOTHERHOOD

May 2015

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

Derby DayIs there a female anywhere who looks to her future and thinks: “my goal is to be the queen of endless laundry; or “I’ll be the best diaper-changer ever”; or “I won’t need sleep except for an hour or two at a time.” What female in her youth dreams of how she will heal boo boos and mediate fights and build forts in her formal dining room? Did she imagine that a big night with her husband would be falling asleep together in front of the television because the baby is finally sleeping? And did she imagine the pure bliss when a toddler looks at her and says, “I love you?”

All of this joys and tiredness of motherhood (parenthood) came back to me as Allan and I had the privilege of staying for several days with our two Virginia granddaughters. Their parents had definitely earned a short trip to the Kentucky Derby and we were honored to be trusted to stay with the girls.

We were warned that 1-year-old Harper sometimes wakes in the night, but her waking with croup was scary. And the thunderstorm that rattled the windows left 3-year-old Lilly Bell frightened and in need of lengthy comforting right at dinner time. We had forgotten the painful tiredness that goes with caring for toddlers. But we had also forgotten the incredible cuteness and loving that goes with being in the company of toddlers. And we treasured the pure bliss of Lilly Bell’s sweet “I love you.”

Living so far from the girls, and from our Charlotte granddaughters, we have missed out on the day to day fun, excitement and joys that go with interacting on a daily basis. Watching them play with their dolls and toys, reading books, having meals together, and tucking them into bed were all special moments. Yes, we have enjoyed some of this on our earlier trips to their homes, but there is something special about being the sole caregivers without their parents to fall back on.

Our recent days with our granddaughters in Springfield, Virginia, reminded us that parenthood is really hard work. And it reminded us of what great parents our own children have become. Parenthood will always be the most rewarding work that we have ever done. On this trip, we kissed booboos, played in the park, read lots of books, sang songs, said prayers, brushed teeth, gave baths, changed diapers, rocked, and cooked child-approved meals (including broccoli which neither of us care for). And we took naps (and it wasn’t just the children napping).

We came home with bad cold, sore muscles, and a definite longing to go back and be with the girls again. I can understand why so many grandparents are moving to be near their grandchildren. That’s not an option for us, but we definitely need more trips to Virginia and Charlotte to be with our granddaughters.

From the May 2015 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton and Austell, GA.

Spring Uplifting, Except For Those With Depression

April 2015

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

It’s spring and the endless cold and dreary of this winter has finally yielded to warm weather, chasing away the gloom. But for some, the gloom of winter is a gloom of the soul, a debilitating illness that the sights of spring cannot dispel. For these individuals, the diagnosis is depression, a serious illness that can be treated.

The April European air crash with a focus on the diagnosis of depression by the co-pilot has brought this disease to the forefront of our consciousness. This is an excellent time for all of us to pay attention to our own mental health. If you have not known someone with a mental health disorder, it may be surprising that so many individuals suffer from depression and other mental health disorders. For me, my first knowledge of someone with a mental health illness was my cousin, who received a mental health diagnosis many years ago.

“I feel depressed!” Most everyone has said that at some time or another. We use the term to mean sad, not happy, a little down and out. But for many individuals, adults and adolescents, depression is more than a brief occurrence. It is a very real, serious clinical disorder that can be treated with positive life changing results.

One of the most common mental illnesses, clinical depression, affects more than 19 million Americans each year. Depression occurs in people of any age, any race or ethnic group. Experts tell us that depression is never a normal part of life. It can cause people to lose pleasure in their daily life and even lead to suicide.

The good news is that depression, and other mental health disorders, are treatable. Treatment for depression includes antidepressant medication, psychotherapy or a combination. The main thing is to seek treatment.

Symptoms of clinical depression include: persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood; sleeping too much or too little; middle of the night or early morning waking; reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain; or loss of pleasure and interest in activities once enjoyed. Other symptoms include restlessness; irritability; persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment (such as chronic pain or digestive disorders); difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions; fatigue or loss of energy; feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless; and thoughts of suicide or death.
Experts tell us that having five or more of these symptoms for two weeks or more could signal clinical depression. Good health includes good mental health.

I have been fortunate to become knowledgeable about mental health issues through our media work with the Cobb Community Services Board (CSB) and other CSBs statewide. The CSBs are leaders in diagnosing and treating mental disorders. They are the safety net for Georgians who need assistance with mental health care but who may not have the funds or insurance for a private doctor. Yet, in Georgia and throughout our country, the budgets are lean and growing learner to provide for the treatment of mental health disorders.
If you have questions about mental health issues, contact your personal physician, WellStar Behavorial Health Department at Cobb Hospital’s  Outpatient Counseling Services, 470-732-6960 or the Cobb Community Services Board’s Access Center at 770-422-0202.

From the April 2015 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton and Austell, GA.

March Madness: Birthdays And Anniversaries

March 2015

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher

The term March Madness refers to basketball tournaments but in our family it could just as well refer to a tournament of anniversaries and birthdays. It hasn’t always been that way; we started out with only one; but we have continually added special celebrations to create our own March Festivities.

Forty-three years ago, Allan and I decided on March for our wedding. Originally, it was going to be on Saturday, March 18, but we discovered another couple had booked the church for that evening. We moved ours to March 17, not putting together that the green bridesmaids dresses already ordered were the perfect color – or too gimmickry – for a St. Patrick’s Day wedding.

This March we are celebrating the first birthday, on March 9, of our granddaughter, Harper Lipsett, as well as her Baptism the day before. Eight years ago, we added her mother’s birthday, March 16, to our March holidays, as well as her parent’s anniversary, March 31. The year before, 2006, we added the March 27 birthday of our son-in-law Drew Long to the line-up of March celebrations.

Eighteen years earlier we had the joy of our niece Melissa Miller’s wedding to Karl Krout on March 1, 1997. We had lots of fun travelling to her wedding in Phoenix; with lots of unexpected excitement. Eating dinner at the Atlanta Airport, I spilled my iced tea into daughter Katie’s lap. The bags were checked so we tried to find her a new shirt. The only one that fit her petite pre-teen size was a long bright red Mickey Mouse shirt. It was fine for travelling but, when we arrived in Phoenix, we were sans luggage. Our bags had stayed at our Dallas. With little time before the rehearsal dinner and wedding, a shopping trip was in order. The luggage actually arrived prior to the wedding but Katie had a very nice new dress to make amends for my spillage. Our final March celebrations are also in the Miller family. My brother-in-laws March 25 birthday and that of my first great-niece, Cadence Miller, now age 11 on March 6.

March is a time of Madness, of celebration, of wild partying and the wearing of the green. For us, it’s usually a time of quieter celebration with a lot of thankfulness for the special family members who have been added to make March one of our favorite months.

From the March 2015 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton and Austell, GA.

CHRISTMAS IS NOT A MODERN INVENTION

December 2014

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett – Editor/Publisher
PC-Outdoor-Holiday-Wreath-300x267To hear some of the discussions on how we should limit the exposure of Christmas in our modern American world, one could almost think that the holiday is one that we invented and can now totally shape or ignore as we choose. Schools declare the official time as a winter holiday, yet build the calendar around December 25 as the focus of the holiday. School children hold pageants, but unlike those in my youth, are not allowed to sing songs or read scripture that mention Christmas for fear of offending.
Yet, no matter how some try to limit the holiday, Christmas is one that is not just an American invention, but a world-wide celebration. One estimate is that Christmas is honored by some 400 million people world-wide. The traditions are deep, having developed over centuries, transformed or refined, but always centered on the birth of Christ.
In our 21st century world, where news is constant around the clock it’s hard to imagine that the news of the birth of Christ could spread from a stable in Bethlehem to Shepherds, to wise-men, to the king in a short time. From Angels to Shepherds to ordinary people, the word has continued to spread throughout all the land, generation to generation, nation to nation.
There was no “good news” newspaper like The Bright Side back in those early days; no instant multi-media communication. For the most part, news was spread one on one. Yet, here we are, more than 2,000 years later, with the story of the Christ child still powerfully with us.
Today, the story would be on FoxNews, CNN, national and local news with helicopters hovering overhead and reporters out interviewing the Shepherds. The interview might go something like this:
REPORTER: “So, here in this field full of sheep, you claim to have seen Angels. Tell me Shepherd boy, do you have a history of hallucinations or drug use?”
SHEPHERD: No, and I wasn’t dreaming. There was one Angel with the message of the baby’s birth and then a whole host of Angels. It was an awesome sight.”
REPORTER: “Well, there you have it, a claim of Angels out here in the middle of nowhere. We’ll be checking the satellite images to see if they show any unusual activity; but we think this is a hoax. Just in case, however, we have reporters on their way to find the stable and we’ll bring you updates as we have them. Now back to you in the studio.”
Of course, in our modern world, Mary and Joseph would not have had to travel to Bethlehem to pay their taxes; they could have stayed home and paid them online.  We have computers and instant news coverage and people ready to file lawsuits over nativity scenes and songs of school children.
Yet, despite our 21st century restrictions, the ancient story of the Christmas miracle is, for Christians around the world, as fresh and awesome as when it was first revealed to the Shepherds.
This column is reprinted from the December 2008 issue of The Bright Side.

THANKSGIVING TRADITIONS AND CHANGES

November 2014

There is a discussion going around on Facebook: is it proper for Macy’s to open on Thanksgiving? Most of my Facebook friends who have posted on the matter seem to be opposed. This column is not about the right or wrong of Macy’s decision. It’s about Thanksgiving in general, traditions and changes.

The argument against stores opening on Thanksgiving is that it’s a family time and people shouldn’t have to be away from their families to work on this holiday. It’s a sound argument. My mother worked for years at Macy’s and I doubt that she would have wanted to work on Thanksgiving. However, Macy’s employees in New York have worked for years to bring us the Thanksgiving Day parade that they sponsor. Watching it on Thanksgiving morning is a part of my own tradition.

My father, on the other hand, worked for Eastern Air Lines. Planes fly on Thanksgiving; it’s a big travel day and for many years he worked at the Atlanta airport on the holiday. Sometimes he was home for the traditional dinner and sometimes he wasn’t.

Airline employees aren’t the only ones working on the holiday. The list is long of those who make a difference on Thanksgiving so the rest of us can have a safe, comfortable day: policemen, firemen, EMT’s, nurses, doctors, other medical personnel, and our military keep us safe and healthy on Thanksgiving; and the clerks who keep gas stations/convenience stores and grocery stores open, and restaurant workers who provide food for those who prefer to eat out on Thanksgiving. There are also football players and others who provide the day’s entertainment, television and radio news reporters, as well as our delivery persons who make sure we have the newspapers with all the Black Friday inserts.

Traditions: for some it is a day of leisure and family and for some a day of work. As a married couple, Allan and I worked hard to make Thanksgiving a family day, creating our own traditions. The first year we were married, we invited our two families for Thanksgiving dinner. My family was early; his was late, the turkey was dry, but we were all together and we survived the first test – after the wedding – of family united.

We’ve learned to go with the flow as the saying goes; maintaining traditions when they work and letting go when necessary. Thanksgiving 2001 found our son Peter an American student studying at the University of Ulster in Colerine, Northern Ireland. An original plan for the American students to have a joint dinner did not materialize and Peter found himself alone, cooking a frozen turkey dinner. Back home, we enjoyed a family dinner, missing our son on Thanksgiving for the first since his birth. Now that both of our children have grown up, married and moved away, we have alternated Thanksgiving and Christmas with their in-laws.

As one who doesn’t even like to shop on Black Friday, I don’t plan to head for the mall on Thanksgiving Day. But I am grateful to those who work on Thanksgiving to provide necessary services to protect and make our lives safer and better.

BRIGHT SIDE CALENDAR REFLECTS
ACTIVE SOUTHERN COBB COMMUNITY

October 2014

By Cathy Shattles Lipsett
Editor/Publisher
As I was putting together our newspaper calendar, I realized just how much is going on in our community. We don’t capture every activity but we do have a great selection of activities for our citizens to choose from. And there isn’t enough room for all of it in our print edition. There are even more calendar items in the full calendar on our website: www.www.brightsidecobb.com.
Are you a young mother who wants to share experiences with other mothers? We have several listings for Moms’ clubs. Are you looking for a civic group or a business association? Yes, we have lots of listings for these. Want a specific support group? There is a good chance we will have it listed. Bible studies, farmers markets, fun events like the Jonquil Festival: all listed in our calendar. Senior citizens looking for activities can find listings in a separate section under the Senior Citizen Centers.
We try to list everything that is sent our way, but with space limitations, we give preference to non-profits, churches, and community events. We also give a preference to events for our advertisers, because, let’s face it, without them there would be no print edition of the Bright Side mailed directly to homes.
Ah, you say you don’t receive one of our papers in your mailbox? Indeed even with 40,000 copies distributed among the two editions, we don’t reach every home we would like to reach. But we do overprint several thousand copies that are available in various locations including the Smyrna Library, Smyrna Community Center, and Cumberland Mall Chick-fil-A; and, for South Cobb readers, the Mable House Arts Center, Floyd Road Kroger, Publix, Mableton Pharmacy, and with both editions at our advertisers’ locations.
We want to receive your local news by email at news@www.brightsidecobb.com for Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, and Austell. Please don’t send news in flyer format; just words in a Word file or in the body of the email. Photos should be in a separate jpeg file. Deadline each month is the 23rd.
As publishers of The Bright Side, we are proud of the fact that our readers encompass a wide spectrum of demographics. We hope you will find news to connect you with the community; activities to enjoy; and businesses to meet your every need. What makes us happy? It’s readers who tell us that they enjoy reading our newspapers and that it has been a benefit for them in some way. Thank you to each of you who read The Bright Side via our print edition, on our web site (www.www.brightsidecobb.com); via our e-weekly sent by email every Thursday (send us an email and say subscribe to receive it) or by reading our updates on Facebook (www.facebook.com/brightsidecobb.).
Southern Cobb is an exciting, active part of our County. We have activities here for every age, every interest, for every budget. We hope you will find just the right group or event for you in The Bright Side each month.