• Givin' away some LOVE

    Not that I need a reason to give anything away, but this new contest is a way for me to show my love for all of you -- so just in time for Valentines Day, I'm giving away a LOVE Park (Philly) pencil sharpener to one lucky Here-A-Year-er.

    To enter, click here and leave me the message, "Be Mine". I'll put the RANDOMIZER to work on Friday night and will contact the winner via email by Saturday (2/7).

    Thanks again for being a part of the adventure -- and thanks for sharing the LOVE with your tribe.

  • Punxsutawney Phil & the Gobbler's Knob

    When I read the blog title, I think it sounds like a lost book in the Harry Potter series -- LOL! -- you never know... :)

    I'm in Punxsutawney for the 117th weather prognostication from the world's most famous groundhog, Phil. Promoters are expecting a large crowd (possible up to 40,000) to be at the ceremony, so I'm going to get there by 5:00am to see if I can get a good spot for the event at 7:20am. What a great tradition!

    For those of you who can't make it here, you're in luck, as you can watch the whole shebang go down **live** here. And for those who think the who thing is a little silly, let me tell you more about the tradition that dates back before the Roman empire. 

    (Adapted from "Groundhog Day: 1886 to 1992" by Bill Anderson)

    Groundhog Day, February 2nd, is a popular tradition in the United States. It is also a legend that traverses centuries, its origins clouded in the mists of time with ethnic cultures and animals awakening on specific dates. Myths such as this tie our present to the distant past when nature did, indeed, influence our lives. It is the day that the Groundhog comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his shadow.

    If he sees it, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole.

    If the day is cloudy and, hence, shadowless, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground.

    The groundhog tradition stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that day was important.

    The Roman legions, during the conquest of the northern country, supposedly brought this tradition to the Teutons, or Germans, who picked it up and concluded that if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, an animal, the hedgehog, would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of bad weather, which they interpolated as the length of the "Second Winter."

    Pennsylvania's earliest settlers were Germans and they found groundhogs to in profusion in many parts of the state. They determined that the groundhog, resembling the European hedgehog, was a most intelligent and sensible animal and therefore decided that if the sun did appear on February 2nd, so wise an animal as the groundhog would see its shadow and hurry back into its underground home for another six weeks of winter.

    This passage may be the one most closely represented by the first Punxsutawney Groundhog Day observances because there were references to the length of shadows in early Groundhog Day predictions.

    The ancient Candlemas legend and similar belief continue to be recognized annually on February 2nd due to the efforts of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

    The Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper is credited with printing the news of the first observance in 1886 (one year before the first legendary trek to Gobbler's Knob):

    "Today is groundhog day, and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen his shadow."

    To me, it's remarkable that this fun tradition survived and that it puts this town on the world's map -- everyone seems to know who Punxsutawney Phil is, and that he is the highest ranking groundhog in the New World.

    By the way, since 1887, the groundhog has seen his shadow 100 times, and not seen it 16 times to predict an early spring. Also, www.groundhog.org has a ton of great info about Groundhog Day -- check them out. And let's hope that Phil's shadow stays away and that this winter will be done shortly. 

    Groundhog Day cheers Here-A-Year-ers!!

  • Sages & Seekers: connecting generations

    I ♥ senior citizens.

    There, I said it. It’s out, and I can’t take it back. I just simple LOVE them!

    Maybe I’ve played too many games of shuffleboard or horseshoes to make a clear judgement on that statement -- or maybe it’s the cookies and brownies that come by the bucket loads from all the grandmas I amassed over my travels -- whatever the reason, all I know, is that I have a lot of fun with those who are often called our elders.

    So, when I got the chance to volunteer at the Windy Hill Senior Center in Spring Grove, I jumped at the opportunity!

    I was introduced to this organization by a group of senior line-dancers, one Wednesday afternoon, at the local coffee shop. They were a rowdy bunch of ladies whose conversation spilled over to me (they actually got me to blush) while talking and joking about their last dance session. One of the ladies eventually asked me why I was in their small town and I told her about my Pennsylvania adventure.

    Once they heard about Here A Year’s mission to connect people to good organizations and charities, they immediately told me about their senior center and its director, Tammy Miller.

    And, so, after a few more laughs and another shot of espresso, I promised the ladies I would swing by to see if I could get involved somewhere. I also told them I would make it to one of their line dance classes before the year was up -- this would come back to haunt me (just look at the slideshow above).

    I went directly from the cafe to meet with Tammy, and after a short introduction, I asked if there was anything I could do to help out. I was thinking I could teach a computer class, or help serve meals, or whatever -- but it just so happened that she was looking for a person to facilitate a class called, Sages & Seekers.

    S&S is a program which brings teenagers (the seekers) together with someone over the age of seventy (the sage) to share life stories with each other, which in turn, help break down age related barriers in the community. It’s an eight week series that met once a week, and ended with an hour-long program where the seekers “show off” their sage to their family and friends.

    It didn’t take me long to accept the task as I basically said, “when do we start”? Tammy was thrilled!

    - - - - - - -

    Now, I don’t usually end a blog in the middle of a story, but I am today.


    Well... I kind of already wrote about this event on another blog... and since I’m contracted with them (meaning I can’t repost it after it’s posted on their website), I encourage you to read {in a Paul Harvey voice} “the rest of the story” over at Create The Good’s blog. >> "Connecting through conversations"

    BTW...I hope you love senior citizens too! If you do, leave me a comment about how you connect with them in your community.

    Monday cheers Here-A-Yearers!

  • The votes are in!

    What can I say? -- I’m blown away...again!

    On this, the second time around, hundreds of people voted for my next location -- and holy guacamole -- I can’t get over how many passionate pleas there were. Granted, I asked everyone to create “Lists of Love” about their favorite state, so I shouldn’t of expected anything less than long accolades of glorious environments.

    Again, I’m simply blown away, which is why I thought you’d like to hear some of these “lists”.

    Here’s a handful of my favorites:

    Texas: “Because its where we live! It’s ginormous, so there's a ton to explore, help with, be transformed by, and love.” ~B.M.

    Iowa: “Because it's the greatest state in the Union. And living in Missouri has given me a better appreciation for states that don't smell like tobacco. Or not as much anyway.” ~A.K.

    Washington: “Why not come visit the total opposite coast and experience what our great state has to offer?! We've got beaches, Crystalline Mountains, desert beauty and remoteness! We also offer a big city that you'd never get tired of exploring! Also, native Indian heritage, cuisine and Indian dancing islands. Or take a cruise around Puget sound.. You'd love it!! And if you come to our Eastern side of the state you wouldn't even need an umbrella!” ~J.P.

    New York: “It's THE state.” ~J.W.

    Georgia: “We are so rich in history and there are so many different areas all over the state. We have the coastal areas (Jekyll, St. Simons, and Tybee Islands) all the way to the mountains in the north where the Appalachian Trail begins!” ~K.W.

    South Dakota: “Oh, let me count the ways on why I love the great state of South Dakota. It's a state that truly matches it's slogan. "Great faces and great places!" It's a state that offers many opportunities and many places to explore. In what other state can you see the buffalo roam and the faces of four presidents carved in rock/stone? South Dakota provides a place for one to be close to family and friends. Oh, and who can forget South Dakota taking part in all four seasons. South Dakota would be a great place for your face! Come visit SD and let it become one of your favorite states.” ~M.J.

    Nevada: “If you don't move here I'll eat your brains.” ~J.C.

    Louisiana: “The People and The Food! The people of Louisiana are unlike people in most any other state and, in fact, are very different in different parts of the state. In other words it will be like visiting several states at one time. But wherever you are in the state, the people are wonderful -- full of love and life! As the French would say, there is a "joie de vivre" unlike in any other state. The food is beyond compare. You would never go hungry -- even if you have to stop and knock on a door to be invited in for a meal. Or drop by a tailgate on a Saturday afternoon baseball or football game and be offered good fellowship and great food -- even as a stranger! You are welcome here! And the "welcome" will come in many dialects, languages and accents! All of which will truly mean, "please come in, sit for a spell (a year) and we promise you will not want to leave!" I surely don't want to leave!” ~V.T.

    Arkansas: “Arkansas has a reputation for being full of ignorant rednecks and hillbillies, but there really is more to us than that. The Ozark Mountains in the NW corner of the state is one of the most beautiful places in the country with lots of places to hike and camp. NW Arkansas is full of industry leaders, such as Wal-Mart, Tyson, and JB Hunt. You can also visit Bill and Hillary Clinton's first home in my hometown of Fayetteville, a city by the way, which was listed as one of the most beautiful cities in the country by Parade magazine. If you're interested in volunteer opportunities, there is a high rate of poverty in the central and SW/Delta regions. I'm sure there would be plenty of opportunities. Besides, what other state has a razorback as its college mascot? Come to Arkansas!” ~K.D.

    Texas: “Because its where we live! It’s ginormous, so there's a ton to explore, help with, be transformed by, and love.” ~B.M.

    Montana: “There are so many fascinating things about my home state. While it's not as populated as all other states save WY and AK, it's got culture in abundance. There are museums and ghost towns and tourist attractions galore. There are National Parks and fun places to be found everywhere. There are quirky towns and college towns and teeny tiny towns. We also have a huge need of volunteer sources in everything from the homeless shelters to animal rescues. There is much need in our state as well as more than enough beauty. If you come here you won't be found wanting for hospitality either!” ~M.F.

    Nevada: “People who live in Nevada feel a little more fabulous! Most people think of the glitz and glam of Las Vegas when they hear Nevada, but there is so much more to this state than showgirls and strippers and Cirque du Soleil. Take a chance on "the silver state." You won't be disappointed.” ~J.H.

    Iowa: "We have the same number of cows and people! Cow tipping, cow milking, and cow counting are all beloved pastimes." ~H.D.

    Again, thank you all for voting. Here A Year is only here because of you.

    I wish I could post every reply I got, but that would simply overload your inbox. (Maybe I’ll share more throughout the selection process.)

    Also, I’ll be announcing the winner on Friday, February 1st -- something to look forward to.


  • People worth emulating: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

    Obviously, this man needs no connection to Pennsylvania to be honored on this website -- but you know me -- I found one -- MLKjr graduated from Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, PA. I love it when I able to link good people to this great state. (Truly, in Pennsylvania, you don't have to look too far.)

    "Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's ‘Theory of Relativity’ to serve. You don't have to know the Second Theory of Thermodynamics in Physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love, and you can be that servant."

    ~Martin Luther King Jr. - excerpt from "The Drum Major Instinct"

    One way to motivate yourself onto greatness is to emulate those who are worth emulating. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of those people whose words and actions always seemed to match up. He became a servant to make the world better (and arguably, to correct the world's faulty beliefs). He stood up to oppression and moved a country to action.

    Thank you Dr. King for your life and testimony.

    For more information about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., start by visiting The King Center's website.

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