“That Story Lady”

Angela Scott, Author – Storyteller – Ventriloquist

Archive for the ‘Self Improvement’ Category

Interview With Mom – What I Learned About Mom During a Sunday Afternoon Interview

March 22, 2012

More than eleven years after dad died, it seemed imperative to ask questions of mom that I’d never before asked. She’s wise, compassionate, fun, and creative. I believe her answers may teach us to be good listeners and encourage countless others.

While there’s still time, I wanted to remember and respect seemingly insignificant things that reveal her heart, a market place of treasures. “Mom, what’s it like to be you?”

Q. What is your favorite color?

A. My favorite colors as a child were yellow and light blue but now I prefer navy blue, red, and black.

Q. What is your favorite time of the day?

A. Sunset.

Q. What is your favorite book?

A. Gone With the Wind. When we were first married, I read it. We went to see the movie. Even though it’s been more than 70 years ago, I still remember that it was the only movie your dad ever went to see.

Q. What is your favorite food?

A. Hot chicken salad with almonds. It’s delicious!

Q. What is your favorite memory from school?

A. Well, that’s a two-part answer:

1. Sports: playing basketball and baseball. In my first year of high school until I graduated, I was a member of the first string and played every game as a basketball forward, one of three. Our uniform was a white shirt and dark blue shorts. I played in tip-offs. Our games in the 1930’s were half-court, not like today’s games.

2. Performing in school plays. In my junior year, I portrayed a mother in a play, although I don’t remember the title. The audience saw me sewing a white garment by hand. The husband walked toward me and asked a question. “What are you doing?” When I held up the white garment, the audience saw me holding a large pair of ladies bloomers with elastic around the legs and waist. They roared with laughter.

Q. When did you learn to ride a bicycle?

A. 10 years old. My brother would stand on the step and shove my bicycle. My first successful destination was riding to the local post office.

Q. Where did you first attend church?

A. At a Christian church close to our house. It’s still easy to remember the first scripture verse I memorized, Psalm 23. I walked to church as a young child before I ever began school. The path was straight between home and church; I didn’t even have to cross the road. My first Sunday school teacher’s name was Ms. Jewel Hatch and our class met in the church basement.

Q. Where did you first attend school?

A. My first grade class was in a one-room schoolhouse. When it was cold weather, I’d warm my hands at a stove inside a service station on my walk to school.

Q. Did you have any pets while you grew up?

A. One of my brothers brought a dog home with him one afternoon. The dog was black as a charcoal briquette. I kept a photograph of that dog. The photograph was taken with a box camera. Mom stood beside the dog that we named Little-Bitty.

Q. What is the most unusual event you remember from childhood?

A. Mom tinted my hair in the summer early on a Sunday morning when I was rather young. I wore a short-sleeved dress made out of light fabric. My hair was white as cotton and it always tangled. For some reason, mom apparently thought changing the hair color from white to black would make my hair easier to brush. She just didn’t like white hair. “I’m going to change it.” And that’s what she did. When the black dye grew out of my hair, it was never again as white as cotton.

 

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3 Questions for Fun Decision Making – How to Find Fun With 3 Questions

March 15, 2012

“How did you find that concert?” It was a profound question because it was engaging and thought-provoking. After a pause of at least thirteen seconds, the answers bubbled in my thoughts.

It was easy to remember an enjoyable evening when attending a concert almost two years earlier. Even though advertisements for the latest concert performed by the same musicians and artists weren’t readily available, I’d found them with a minimal amount of research. Perhaps my friend was puzzled due to the fact that I hadn’t shared with her my three question process for fun decision-making.

The questions are straightforward; however, clarity of thought is paramount to the answering process. With practice, you will improve as you discern whether or not the time is right to pursue an event, an idea, or fun.

Question 1. Will this occur near my location again within the next twelve months? If yes is the answer, stop immediately. However, if no is the answer, proceed to the second question.

Question 2. Is it affordable? If no is the answer, stop immediately. If yes is the answer, proceed to the third question.

Question 3. Would participation in the event provide life-enriching benefits for me as well as others? If yes is the answer, proceed to take immediate action.

Using these questions on a regular basis generates serendipitous memories. More often than not, five minutes is ample time to easily answer the three questions but expertise is achieved only after consistent practice in order to make it a permanent process.

Remember, there is a magic five letter word associated with the success of these questions: Think. Caution is strongly advised when this element is absent in the process.

As you decide to implement these questions into your own decision-making processes, you’ll find new opportunities waiting for you. Of course, you must be forewarned as this could be among one of the most challenging things you may ever attempt. Earl Nightingale said it best. “To think is one of the most difficult things human beings do.”

Begin today by investing a tiny fraction of time for quiet in your day. Practice the process at least five days a week each month. Write your thoughts and ideas in a notebook or journal. Even if you believe you only have one good idea each day, after four weeks you’ll have a minimum of twenty ideas to ponder.

An unknown author wrote a poem of only four lines that emphasizes the importance of quiet in our lives:

“I have a treasure which I prize,
It’s like I cannot find;
There’s nothing like it on the earth –
‘Tis this, a QUIET MIND.”

 

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Love Is Foundation for a Miniature Platform Rocking Chair

February 24, 2012

It was a gift from a previous colleague and friend. “This antique rocking chair was the first gift my wife gave to me when we married…” He had been promoted and his career required relocation to another state. “We just don’t have room to take it with us and we know you’ll appreciate it.”

Thankful to have been the recipient of such a valued treasure, reality struck. “This rocking chair needs a lot of love and work, which would include re-upholstering as well as refinishing the wood. When dad first saw the chair, he paused. “I hope they paid you to haul it away…” It was the truth, albeit brutal, and then he smiled.

Dad and I began our joint venture the next week. It proved to be an extensive project of work requiring incalculable hours. Several weeks later, family and friends enjoyed the new and improved antique rocking chair. It was comfortable beyond words. Someone always found time to rest in the classic rocking chair.

The corduroy cover on the seat cushion resembled the color of mink that faded with use until it was beyond time to repair it again. Thankful to remember that dad had a friend who specialized in upholstery, the friend agreed without hesitation to restore the antique.

Only a few months later, dad died. His death devastated my tiny daughter. Afterward, when chatting with dad’s upholstery friend, he offered to craft a miniature platform rocking chair for my daughter. He wanted to give her a tangible memory that represented her grandfather’s love as well as the friendship our families shared.

A few tears welled in the eyes of dad’s friend as he gently placed his hand over his heart. Emotion filled his words. “I have a few leftover remnants of the fabric used for your rocking chair… I’ll craft a miniature platform rocking chair for your daughter. It’ll be like a matched set. It’s for your dad, too.

Less than seven years of age, she enjoyed playing in the chair; however, several years would go by before she’d be able to comprehend the gift’s magnitude. She loved her grandfather; he loved her, too. On the birthday she celebrated with him before his death, he’d told me how grateful he was for the time he’d been given to spend with her “Pa-poo.”

Dad’s friend told me the fabric that covered her child-sized platform rocking chair was sturdy and durable enough to last a long time. He reassured me with a smile and a few words. “It’s so tough, gravy won’t stick to it!”

His eyes brightened when I asked if he’d autograph a 3 x 5 index card to commemorate the gift. “Of course! Write what you want remembered. I’ll sign and staple it underneath the chair to one of its wooden foundational supports.”

Recently, I was reminded of that signed index card. It was a tender, sweet reminder of dad, his love, and his life. The card remained in tact even though it’s been almost 20 years since it’d been stapled to the foundation of the miniature platform rocking chair that was custom-made for her.

Mom says it best. “It’s the little things that matter the most.”

 

 

 

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1 Reason Why I Needed to Read the Fine Print

February 23, 2012

Stored in a miniature cedar chest, I paused when the view of a flat rectangular purse captured my attention. Inspecting the denim zippered artifact, it seemed odd to hold denim that resembled the color of a pink rose. It had been more than a few years since I’d last held that bag. Rediscovering a tangible moment of a forgotten childhood memory piqued my curiosity.

Dad worked in a textile mill when I was young. The mill exclusively manufactured dark blue denim fabrics, which was quite the opposite of the pink denim bag resting in my hands. While wondering whether I’d purchased the bag or had received it as a gift, memories of dad surfaced when Mom and I visited his place of employment. The family day event was planned to celebrate those represented by employees of the mill.

It suddenly seemed important to inspect the tiny label on the simple and perhaps insignificant denim bag. Imagine my unexpected surprise when realizing I’d received a minuscule history lesson about the mill where dad had labored for our family. The message had been hidden by thick lines bordering the miniature company label on the bag.

Squinting didn’t reveal the seemingly secret words framed in a square line of print. It bordered the edges of the label, which was equivalent to the size of a postage stamp. However, with the assistance of a magnifying glass, the elusive answer was finally revealed. The textile mill proclaimed excellence as they began their second century of operation. It was easier to read the subsequent line summarizing the mill’s mission to create comfortable fabrics for everyone. The pink denim keepsake served as a reminder of the reason why dad appreciated working for the respected textile mill in our community.

While recently watching a movie about the Santa Clause, it was amusing to watch the key character casually read aloud a name printed in bold letters on a business card. There didn’t seem to be any apparent reason to inspect the broad lines bordering the business card, which temporarily disguised the charge for the next individual who received it.

It was only a few days later when the similarity was understood between the fine print that bordered the postage sized label on my pink denim bag and the fine print that bordered the business card featured in the recently viewed movie. Neither the movie character nor I had stopped to read the fine print before us until a magnifying glass finally revealed the mystery. It was vital for both of us to read the fine print in order to proceed.

The movie character needed the details on the card in order to continue and complete his scripted story; however, my need to read the fine print on the label was sentimental. The details of that pink zippered denim bag had been overlooked for years. Perhaps that’s why it’s now such a valuable memory.

Dad was a man of few words, yet he generously served our family, his employers, and friends in our community. The visual struggle to read the fine print on the postage sized label stitched to the pink denim bag finally unlocked the door to cherished memories that hadn’t been recorded for others to remember… until now.

 

 

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Boomerang 101 – How to Throw a Boomerang

February 17, 2012

One particular sermon illustrating the importance of the healing quality of laughter in life is unforgettable for me. Norman Cousins authored the book, “Anatomy of an Illness.” He discovered the positive effect of profound doses of daily laughter combined with Vitamin C that conquered his illness.

Fascinated with Cousins’ discovery of how laughter improved his life, my search for contagious laughter began. The notion developed about my preceding interest in boomerangs. Enthralled with their history, the mirth memory of a Far Side cartoon surfaced. While pondering the cartoon frame featuring Mr. and Mrs. Boomerang, I felt a smile and giggled.

In the lone cartoon frame, Mrs. Boomerang stood in the open door of their home while Mr. Boomerang walked away from the house. He held a solitary piece of luggage. Her words were few but the sentiment was clear. “Go ahead and leave. You’ll be back in 10 to 15 minutes, just like all the other times.”

It’s been more than a few years since an acquaintance had given me an Authentic Aboriginal Boomerang crafted by Wungella Artifacts in Australia. Several days ago my eyes rediscovered printed directions for the correct way to throw it. On the reverse side, a narrow rectangular sticker displayed the “How to Throw a Boomerang” instructions:

1. Throw at 45 degree angle away from wind direction.

2. Flat side away from wind or away from body.

The thought struck me that it was time to photograph the boomerang. It also seemed imperative to immediately complete the task since the New Year had just begun.

My goal was to understand how to correctly throw a boomerang. However, I received a greater appreciation for the meticulous design of the Australian boomerang.

Although throwing my boomerang produced a different result than the results featured on a YouTube video, it was easy to understand that practice is required to successfully throw a boomerang that returns.

Before throwing my Australian treasure again, I decided it was time to frame and exhibit the artifact in my work area. The frame shop guy I spoke with said this would be the first time he’d ever framed a boomerang. His finished project produced a stunning presentation of the painted kangaroo on the boomerang.

We smiled. Both of us enjoyed the boomerang challenge that incorporated humor, art, history, geography, and accuracy.

Boomerangs will return when correctly thrown; however, correctly framed boomerangs will tell stories that families and friends can throw and enjoy for countless years.

 

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Time Capsule in a Tin Can

June 22, 2010

In the middle of a 30 second cell phone conversation, I heard a beep and silence. The battery died, I guess.

“Only a year ago, I paid 99 cents for this cell phone, new.” The death of my frugal investment wasn’t comforting.

On my way home, I checked on the price for a replacement battery. The sales associate listened attentively even though it was minutes before their business closed for the day. His reply, “Only $37.95 for a new battery,” wasn’t comforting.

He must have seen the question on my mind because he began an abbreviated yet detailed summary about the steps to replace the dead battery. “This type of battery will be a special order; this week’s orders have already been placed. The anticipated delivery date…approximately two weeks.” My response, “Oh,” ended our conversation.

Just a few years ago, I experienced a similar situation. That cell phone battery died too. It wasn’t a comforting memory.

Digging inside the console of my car, I was desperate to find a power source for the cell phone. Instead, I found a silver tin container. It was rectangular in shape with a heart and cross embossed design on the lid. “What’s that?”

As the primary driver of the car, I was the culprit who had buried the unlikely version of a time capsule in a tin can. Neither did I remember the contents of the tin container nor did I remember why I had placed it in the console of the car.

Eager to find out what I had inadvertently hidden, I sat on the floor and lifted the lid off of the tin container. I found a wooden toothpick holder, two Bible verses which had been clipped from a newspaper, one miniature mechanical pencil, a few antacid tablets and a Theodore Roosevelt quote.

Also inside the container, there were two more newspaper clippings and a miniature hand carved box that could be opened only with secret instructions. It was less then two inches wide. A tiny red heart was painted on the outside. Inside the box, the palm of a hand was etched in the thin wood.

In addition, there was a miniature plastic bag in the tin that contained a collection of gifts symbolic of courage, strength and hope.

The first newspaper clipping told a story about Bald Head Island, North Carolina. However, there wasn’t a year listed in the article so I’m certain it was over a year old.

Another newspaper clipping told a story about two professors who had recently received the highest civilian honor bestowed by the North Carolina Governor, “The Order of the Long Leaf Pine.” That article didn’t list a date either but it did include the state toast.

It felt as if I had discovered a time capsule buried in my car, without premeditation. Each item evoked memories far beyond the face value of the item.

People might say the intrinsic value of my tiny memories was little more than a miniature tin can of trash. However, the epiphany I experienced while inventorying my buried treasure was worth more than a pound of rare gems.

I confess this recent discovery of memories led me on a path I had previously traveled but forgotten. Memories flooded my mind searching for understanding.

The answer, of course, was the realization that the tin container held glimpses of previous opportunities in life, a miniature blueprint for future plans.

The questions played over and over in my thoughts. “Why did I bury these items? Why did I stop? When did I stop?”

Waiting for my response, I remembered. Mom had a heart attack in July the previous year. I remembered the urgency to develop a new plan of action after that unexpected family emergency.

Dr. David Campbell said it best in his book entitled, “If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, You’ll Probably End up Somewhere Else.” I found myself in quite a different place than my original plans.

Mom’s heart attack stopped me temporarily but the severity of her situation urged me to live intentionally with a definite plan, even though it had been temporarily misplaced.

Remember, now is better than never to prepare a blueprint for your life, even if you use a tin can.

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Angela Scott is an author who diligently works to encourage and inspire you, and those with whom you live and work to continually find hope. Visit http://www.thatstorylady.com to get your free “Thought for Today.”

Lessons Learned in the 1st Grade Classroom and the Playground

June 10, 2010

For me, numbers just seem to be easy to remember. I can still recite my home telephone number when I was a first grader, CY9-…

So, why is it challenging for me now to remember a seven item grocery list or a seven item to do list? The answer, of course, is twofold: self-confidence and focus.

Memorizing my home telephone number was critical at the age of six, a scary place to be in a school of unfamiliar faces.

After our teacher told us not to damage our new crayons, one classmate removed the paper wrappers from the large, new Crayola© crayons. I can still see the teacher’s hand whack her wooden ruler on one of his little hands. Disobedience in that classroom was not tolerated; offenders received immediate painful reminders to remember the non-negotiable rules.

During recess on the playground, a classmate socked me in the stomach. I don’t remember why he hit me but I do remember my stomach felt the brutal hit. I don’t remember the teacher reprimanding the offender, even though there were lots of small eyewitnesses.

I never enjoyed reading in school. When we visited the school library to check out books, I didn’t understand the difference between fiction and non-fiction but I do remember the fact that the librarian and I were the same height.

Afraid to ask the question, “How did they know what to look for in the large room of strange books?” I didn’t say too much; it was easier to be quiet and that was easy for me to replicate.

Only a few years ago, I remember a young man, 16 or 17 years of age, ask me if there was a literacy training program where I worked. He taught me a profound lesson with a simple question that day; it’s one I’d personally experienced years ago but never wanted to admit.

I wonder how long he struggled with taking that first step to ask the question that would break through a cinder block wall of fear.

Just yesterday, I found a question and answer in Nehemiah 2:4 that taught me what I needed to know now as well as those years long ago. A good friend recently told me, “Now is always better than never.”

 

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Angela Scott is an author who diligently works to encourage and inspire you, and those with whom you live and work to continually find hope.

“Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation.”

Volunteers, Bargains and Ideas Connect Random Moments of Remote Serendipity

March 17, 2010

Karen asked if I wanted to browse items in the Bargain Box a few minutes before our volunteer shift began. “Of course,” I replied. It had been several years since I last visited that store.

She looked at clothes while I went to the back of the store. My teacher in a coupon clipper class said the best prices were always found at the back of stores. As a specialist in bargain hunting, I remembered that lesson well. So, I looked at items in the clearance section. A framed picture for $1, “Heart’s Content” was one of the first items that caught my eye. An outhouse with the shape of a heart design cut through the top half of the door caught my eye. Many interpretations bolted through my mind and brought a mischievous smile to my face.

“I’m going to look at the books,” I told Karen. I left seven dollars in the car in case of an emergency, however, I silently told myself I had no plans to spend that money.

Browsing through the books, I found a book of essays written by Warren Buffet for fifty cents; a book of questions for fifty cents; Norman Cousins’ book, “Anatomy of an Illness” for fifty cents; and the book, “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” for $2.

Familiar with the first three books, the title of the fourth book stopped me in my tracks. “Could this be the same book related to the movie with Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson?” A sales associate walked past me and I had to ask.

“That’s what movies are – they’re usually based on books,” she responded. Returning to the car, I grabbed $4 to purchase all four books.

I began reading the book and quickly learned the movie and this book were one in the same. The book was published in 1998, although I did not find it until an unplanned shopping trip before our volunteer work began on an early Saturday afternoon in May 2007.

Karen and I discussed the bargains we found. Her eyes told the entire story when I showed her the “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” book. We giggled like school girls as we thought out loud about the unlikely place to find a book and movie connection in our own hometown.

Just four years prior, I had written a thank you note to Mr. McConaughey in appreciation for the difference he made in my life based on a comment he made in an interview featured on the cover of PARADE Magazine published in 1999.

McConaughey shared in his interview the fact that he was not a big reader and had serendipitously found a small book he read in one sitting. He said reading that book had made a difference in his life. So, I decided that if the small book made a difference in his life, it could help me as well.

I found the book and although I was not immediately hooked, I kept reading because of the words he had shared, “…not a big reader.” I had earned good grades in school but up until then, reading had not been one of my favorite leisure activities.

Learn to be a good listener because success leaves clues. If you have not yet read the book McConaughey recommended, “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino, find it immediately. Read it and let me know when you find the clue I found.

 

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Angela Scott is an author who diligently works to encourage and inspire you, and those with whom you live and work to continually find hope.

“Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation.”

All writings here are copyrighted by Angela Scott. You may not use them without written permission but you may link to the posts or give out a link to the posts.

Antique Hospital Souvenir Money Could Never Buy – The Story of My First Birth Day

March 10, 2010

Although small and seasoned with age, it is in mint condition. I have studied it perhaps as much as a textbook when I prepared to take a test. Seventeen years ago, Mom had given to me a tiny layette card that detailed the story about my first birth day. I immediately placed it in a miniature cedar chest for safe keeping.

Actually, it was quite safe because I had forgotten about it until a few months ago. On a quiet afternoon at home, I rediscovered the miniature card while looking through a collection of photographs, journals and souvenirs in my miniature cedar chest.

Recorded in cursive handwriting in blue ink on a pink card, I savored the precious gift of life my mom and dad had given me. Reading all the details on the card, I learned seven things about my first birth day:

1) The hospital room number where nurses and doctors took care of my mother, and me;
2) The length and weight of my body;
3) The breadth of my head and chest;
4) The name of the doctor who delivered me;
5) The name of the hospital;
6) The city and state of my birth; and
7) The company who provided the canned Pet milk formula for me and the other babies born that year.

Curious to learn more, I contacted the hospital where I was born and spoke with hospital representatives. That is how I learned the official name of the tiny card, as well as how the cards are provided free of charge to the hospital for families in their facility.

An antique, my tiny layette card is unique because I have not yet spoken with anyone else who received or remembers a similar type of card with Pet Milk Company listed in the last line of text on the card. In addition to the name of the company, a miniature picture of their milk product was also displayed.

Last Saturday, I had the privilege of playing Bingo with my mom and her friends at church. The passage of time was easy to see in all of our faces and bodies.

We all are seasoned with age; however, last week I also saw another picture of the heart I had not previously understood.

A verse in Proverbs states, “As water reflects the face, so one’s heart reflects the person.” Gazing around the room, tears welled in my eyes. I sensed a new appreciation for life and my family who loved and cared for me.

Although it was a quiet afternoon, I silently heard a story about the precious gift of life, which was loud and clear. Think about it.

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Angela Scott is an author who diligently works to encourage and inspire you, and those with whom you live and work to continually find hope.

“Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation.”

All writings here are copyrighted by Angela Scott. You may not use them without written permission but you may link to the posts or give out a link to the posts.

Hope Made by Noble Hands and a Heart of Gold

February 6, 2010

When I attended a convention out of state last year, I remember longing for hope. With a few spare minutes between workshops, I managed a ten minute stroll through the university bookstore.

In a cozy corner of the bookstore, my eyes were pleasantly surprised when I saw two leather wing back chairs facing an old fashioned wooden cupboard and an oval braided rug on the floor. A spiral staircase to my left led to the second floor.

When I sat in one of the leather wing back chairs, it seemed as if I was in my own cozy home, which was not within driving distance.

Enjoying that abbreviated moment, my eyes focused on a small basket positioned on the floor at the base of the staircase. Filled with beautiful colors of dish cloths made of soft yarn and tied with ribbon, the price tag caught my attention.

“Hope Made,” was the name of the item with the purchase price listed at the bottom portion of the tag. The name is what I remember rather than the price. This was different than all the other items I had seen on display in the bookstore.

Reaching to touch them, I confess I was curious. Immediately walking toward the cash register I felt compelled to ask about the story of an unlikely place for dish cloths to be available for sale in a college bookstore.

Graciously answering my questions, the manager told the story. Proceeds from sales of the dish cloths would support the efforts of a co-worker to adopt an orphaned baby. An anonymous benefactor had hand woven yarn into dish cloths and donated them for sale to support the financial aspect of the adoption.

Holding the dish cloths in my hands, it felt as if I held a moment of heaven. Soft and comforting, it seemed like my Aunt Bea was looking over my shoulders with a bright, shining smile on her face. Everything my Aunt Bea did was “Hope Made.”

An ordinary item such as a set of dish cloths mixed together in my mind with memories of my own family. As I stood in the checkout line of the bookstore, alligator shaped tears poured down my face.

Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” My purchase of the handmade dish cloths was a minimal contribution, however, it would count in the mission to help another family that I may never meet.

 

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Angela Scott is an author who diligently works to encourage and inspire you, and those with whom you live and work to continually find hope.

“Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation.”

All writings here are copyrighted by Angela Scott. You may not use them without written permission but you may link to the posts or give out a link to the posts.