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Today is a big day. I am featuring a guest blogger. My husband wishes to post something, and I am honored to provide him space. When I read it, my first thought was, “This is lovely….” my second thought was, “You gotta be kidding me, he can write too?” Shoot me.

Anyway, Mark wanted to share his feelings today and I’m hoping he enjoys the chance to express himself as much as I do. I’ve encouraged him to start a blog of his own, because frankly, I’d love some insider scoop on what goes on in that odd, masculine brain . . . and I think it putting your feelings on paper in any freewriting exercise helps define them – but that is the writing student talking.

Anyway, (gee, if I had sound, I would put a grand fanfare here to mark the occasion.) I am pleased to present my estemed guest blogger. Mark.

Well, I am back in the Georgia Mountains, and happy to be here. I feel so blessed and loved, not only by my family, but by something more, that great equalizer whom watches over us all. I awoke this morning to see the mountains aglow, dappled in autumn amber and red, russets and rusts vibrantly speckle the hills, and the sky is so vivid a blue it is as if my vision is enhanced with a fierce focus that makes everything look more alive, clearer, than ever before. Such is the result of a cool, crisp, fall day. You see, the mountain view outside of our cabin is not ever the same. Like all of us, it is made up of essentially the same flesh and bones, but the atmosphere can change so drastically on any given day, that on a damp, foggy morn, the mountains can actually disappear, and we are floating in the clouds. Different times of the day and year change the colors and shadows, revealing unique views, each one giving me an appreciation for how different things can look, when colored by God’s magic paintbrush.

This is how my day begins, feeling ever amazed at the transformation my life has taken; overwhelmed with the feeling of being blessed. As most married couples know, getting a husband and wife on the same page, or to agree on any given idea, is not always easy. This is especially true for opinionated, strong-willed individuals like me and Ginny. I never cease to be grateful that not only did my wife and I feel finished with what we set out to accomplish in our life long careers at the same time, but we both were compelled to move to the mountains to live a simpler, rustic lifestyle. I am grateful that we both appreciate all the simple gifts that the country life has to offer and both cherish living in a community with solid core values. I marvel that we both love a rustic home, and that she loves that I love making homes, and furniture and art out of trees, as much as I love her making jellies from the berries she picks on the land, and omelets from our own chicken eggs.  All!
This is more remarkable for those who knew us when we were the more urban, fast-lane, city folks. It is a miracle I celebrate every day.  The most fortuitous result of this move is how our children have embraced our
new life. You see, although we made this life change for the entire family, Ginny and I made our choices based on our own heartfelt desires, as individuals and as a couple, and then as parents. Of course we believed it would be good for everyone, but we could only hope the kids would adjust, because they have their own minds and their own lives. We had the most concern for our future choices with this regard, but what a gift it is to see them now, so happy, and for so many reasons. Kent loves his new school, and enjoys playing in the school band, drumming six days a week. His private lessons teacher regards him as a prodigy, “the kind of student a teacher waits for once in a lifetime.” He has made so many new friends, who he believes like him for who he really is.

You see, sometimes our kids wondered if their dance friends only liked them because “Mark and Ginny” were their parents, and now they know they can make friends on their own, and lots of them.
Neva adores animals and always has, but now she actually owns them; horses, donkey, llama, chickens, rabbits, cats and dogs; she is in heaven. We see wildlife all around us, every day, and she is so excited to live so
close to the animals. Soccer was the sport for Neva this season, she really excellled thanks to her unbounded energy, and basketball and softball are next. She is very sporty and this life suits her to a “T”. I first noticed this when one of Neva’s friends invited her to their farm for a sleepover, and I got her back sans shoes. The parent commented that they woulda never know Neva hadn’t been raised on a farm, for the second she got out of the car; she kicked off her shoes and ran around bare feet, through the fields of animals, like she was a corn-fed country girl. She has fit in effortlessly, and she is just so happy here.

So that’s all we needed to work out, and it all has. That is why I feel so blessed, I cannot express my gratitude enough to the Great Spirit for guiding us to this life.

There is another side to all this; there is no light without the darkness to define it. The life we left behind is the other side. Many people we left behind cannot delight in our good fortune, nor do they wish us well. They feel
abandoned, and betrayed, because we chose to leave. We selfishly followed our hearts to go where we felt we needed to be, and for that it seems we are now avoided, mistrusted and/or maligned. I have always said that life is about learning, and I am learning some painful lessons with regards to a great many things, but as long as I can learn, I have no regrets. I have many fond memories of what we had at FLEX, as do so many others; those that love and hate us alike. I hope someday, all this ugliness and drama will fall away, so we can remember what a gift the time we shared was. I knew this would be a difficult transition for us all, I just never thought people could forget who we are and all we stood for so quickly. It is like we’d been gone for years, in just a few months. I guess maybe people thought, “if the Hendrys can just walk away from dance, just like that, I guess we didn’t really know them at all; maybe they never really cared about us”. I will never know why things turned out the way they did, but now, all we can do is move forward, and continue to do what we believe is right in our hearts.

In a recent visit to Flex Performing Arts, I told students they should value their own intuition. That I wish instinct was taught in school, it is so undervalued in our society, because I feel that to follow one’s desires is the
key to a happy and successful life.  I expressed my belief that what might be the right choice for them, may not be the right choice for the person next to them, but we each have an instinctive sense of what, where and who we need to be with and learn from.  I explained how important it is to trust ourselves, and so I must practice what I preach, even now in the face of unpleasantness. I know what I must do is focus on the blessings in our life; and our glass is so much more than half full, it would be offensive not to. I just wish people could join us in celebrating our good fortune, instead of blaming us for their misfortune. I believe we all deserve the good that comes into our lives. I truly do. And for the record, we always have cared about you and will never stop caring, believe it or not. And for that I am grateful, too.

About Ginny East Shaddock

Ginny is the owner of Heartwood Yoga Institute. She is an ERYT-500 Yoga teacher, C-IAYT Yoga therapist, RCYT & Ayurveda Counselor who loves nature, gardening, and creative arts. She has an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University, and a BA in Business Administration from Eckerd College. She teaches writing and is the creator of the memoir writing program, "Yoga on the Page" combining the teaching of yoga to writing personal stories with integrity, intention, and heart.

2 responses »

  1. Virginia is going to hate me for finally commenting after all these times of me reading secretly on your blog. Sorry Virginia, you know I do love you and your writing; I was just surprised to see Mark finally write. It was beautiful. I just want you guys to know, how extremely happy I am for you. You deserve every bit of happiness you have up in Georgia. I suppose I can appreciate it, because I really have seen you guys go through the best and the worst. I love you both so much and think of you as parents, you guys did raise me; and I am so grateful for you. Smile at your good fortune and I really hope to see you soon. xoxo


  2. You and my Mother are the only people to ever call me Virginia (and with her, it meant I was in trouble), so I knew who this was before opening the message. I’m sorry I ever threatened to “ball-change you outta here”. The truth is, I’ve always gotten a big battement (kick) out of you and you fondue my heart (mealt). Ha. I know you know the terms, but other readers might not. Now, chasse up hear and let me put you on the donkey. I need a good “Danielle” inspired laugh.    



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