That phrase jumped out at me from Mary Reitano’s “Positive relationships” article, see page 41.  Staying attentive and focused for an extended period of time has always been a challenge for me. I was quickly reminded of this while trying to memorize too many lines for a local community production of the musical, “Damn Yankees”.  The friend who encouraged me to audition, was excited I got the part of Old Joe which he described as a song and a few lines at the beginning with just a few lines at the end. Panic set in when I soon realized my memorization strategy wasn’t working with more lines than I ever expected! I seemed to be fighting with myself trying to remember it all. After all, it was back in college, as I can remember, when I had to memorize script or libretto lines. Well, with my wife’s constant script drilling – at my request- and my granddaughter’s “I believe in you” note of encouragement, it was all a success, though each performance was ‘slightly’ different than the last.

Finally staying focused, tuning out distractions, fully showing up mentally was important for my theatrical attempt at success just as it is whenever we engage in conversation.  Being an intentional listener is the key to clearly hearing and understanding the person speaking to you.  Staying attentive, not being anxious about your next response, but trusting that your new response will be the appropriate one, is bound to result in a more satisfying dialogue together. 

There’s nothing to memorize in this Breeze edition, so simply enjoy ‘listening’ perhaps in a quiet spot where you can ‘fully show up’ and hear what each writer has to say. Whether you agree, disagree or have an idea to express, email me at mountainbreeze@bellsouth.net or contact the writer directly from information at the end of each story. Let the conversation begin and continue!

As life keeps changing, so does our family of Breeze writers. We remember well the many years of Becky Cook’s column “Comings and goings”.  Becky and her husband John, moved to Kentucky last year to be near family. Joselyn Watkins writes her final Breeze story about her beloved husband, Chuck, who passed away earlier this year. See “A sweet farewell”, page 45. Jos reminded me of my invitation years ago to write for the Breeze insisting that I said, “You talk so much, I bet you can write well, too!”  Thankfully she was laughing as she told me. 

New Breeze writers are Teri Coutu, whose business column has appeared in each Breeze edition this year, writes about developing a successful business, see page 14. Mitsi Chorak also writes our Lake Lure Flowering Bridge column which has appeared in each Breeze edition this year, see page 17.

 I’m happy to announce our newest Breeze columnist, Jean Gordon, former editor/reporter for the Daily Courier, Forest City. See page 11. You will enjoy her stories based on her decades of experience with our rich local culture.

This May 27, Memorial Day, let us again remember with honor and enduring gratitude those who gave their life for our freedom.

Have fun here in summer’s playground, and as you meet and greet and enjoy each other’s company, fully show up!