Simple Acts of Kindness Remind Us of the Warmth of Charleston

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Love in Charleston

By Mark A. Leon

Being intimately engulfed in the Charleston landscape, I can attest there is something special here that embodies the core principles of friendliness.

I would like to share six (6) very personal accounts.  These testimonies are just a snapshot of the remarkable Charleston stories that fill the air all around these parts.

Charleston Love and Kindness Can Be Felt All Around

Neighborhood Flood Relief:  I lived on the corner of Morris Street and Rutledge Avenue when I first moved to Charleston.  Being new to the area, downtown flooding was more of a myth than a reality.  One afternoon, while working from home, I was taken back by a steady downpour beating against my window.  Perhaps it was a feeling or just the need to take a break, but I put on my best weather proof clothes and went outside.  The corner of Morris and Smith had become a river and many cars were trapped in the mayhem.  Myself and several neighbors, without hesitation, went car by car helping drivers push their vehicle from the ravage flooded area.  It was a gesture of neighborly support and one of the first truly unwavering acts of generosity I had experienced here.

The Day After Mother Emanuel AME:  On the Thursday morning after the Mother Emanuel shooting, I went to the Battery to watch the sunrise and clear my head, allowing time to process what had transpired just a few hours earlier.  It was ten minutes after six in the morning, the sky was clear, early humidity filled the air with a thick warmth and all was quiet.  I said hello to some passing joggers and then sat on a bench at White Point Garden.  A wonderfully sweet local walked by with her dog and sat next to me.  Her companion, an older canine pressed up against my leg, laid down and nestled by me.  The woman began to talk, not about the shooting, but the morning, her love of dogs and the neighborhood.  After she departed, two other ladies came by asking about my faith and gave me information pamphlets.  They smile and walked away.  I don’t know if they knew and weren’t ready to talk about it, but I took comfort in those very early conversations with the backdrop of the rising sun over the harbor to symbolize a new beginning.

A Fallen Baby Bird:  On a spring morning, I met a friend for an early morning walk and coffee at White Point Garden.  We were saddened to see that a baby bird had fallen from its nest and injured itself.  A local area doctor, while walking his dog, saw the wounded bird as well and offered to get a box and mesh to transport it.  He went home a few blocks away and returned with the transport material.  We carefully put the frightened bird in the box and I offered to take it to a Vet in West Ashley that we were fortunate to find open.  This incredibly selfless doctor who had a scheduled surgery did everything he could to help us until he was forced to the hospital.  I received a call later that day from the veterinarian’s office that they had to put the bird down.  All I could do was think about the sound of the scared bird as I drove to West Ashley and knowing it was its last moments.  Then I remembered the kindness of three people who put their lives aside to try and save this newborn bird.

A Moment of Humanity for a Homeless Man – It was a Sunday morning in December, 2017 and I will on King Street at 8:45 AM awaiting the City Church Service at the Charleston Music Farm.  A homeless man, bundled up and pushing a grocery cart, was on the sidewalk heading South.  As he slowly moved in front of the Glazed Doughnut Shop and took a rest, a student noticed him.  He quickly bought a doughnut and cup of coffee and walked outside to present to the homeless man.  They shook hands, exchanged a few kind words and then the student went back inside as the homeless man warmed up and put food in his tummy.  It was a heartwarming moment amount two strangers at very different places in life.

A Surfer’s Smile Can Change Your Day – Just a few weeks ago, I had just had Turkish Coffee a Center Street Coffee on Folly Beach and then walked to the beach to watch the waves and do some meditative activities.  A young surfer, about 5’2″, curly red hair and a smile that could move all the clouds that morning, asked me for assistance taking her board out of her bag (chalk had made it stick).  I helped her and she smiled.  About 10 minutes later, she entered the sand with her board over her head and as she walked near me she smiled and said hey.  That exchange gave me such a fulfilling feeling.  I later went into The Tides, got a paper and pen, and wrote that surfer a thank you note for making my day with just a simple smile.

A Baby Sea Turtle Rescue StoryIt was last summer, on an early morning sunrise walk on Folly Beach that we discovered a baby sea turtle with a limp front leg.  Nelson (our name for him), had hatched just a few hours earlier, but with the injury did not have the strength to make it into the ocean with the tide coming in.  We contacted Animal Control and the Aquarium and were instructed to assist Nelson into the ocean.  We did and later found out he was the only survivor of all the eggs that were laid in that spot.  Click the link for the entire story.

These are just a few of the hundreds of Charleston stories.  The country witnessed our unwavering resolve during the Mother Emanuel Shooting, Hurricane Matthew, Hurricane Irma and the 1000 Year Rains, but it is the very personal individual stories and acts of kindness that go without credit that illuminates this city.

Take some time to sit down with the locals and listen to their stories.  You will understand truly how much this award means to us.

We would love to hear your stories.

20 Things to Do in Charleston Before the End of 2019

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20 Things To Do Before the End of 2017

By Minta Pavliscsak

1. Call an old friend who you haven’t spoken with in a while.
It may take you a few minutes to dial that number. Take your time, just don’t back down. Someone has to open that line of communication; it might as well be you.

2. Go for a sunrise walk on Folly Beach.
We have some of the most beautiful sunrises you will ever experience, and if you haven’t yet you are missing out! So drag a friend out of bed, or just go spend some time by yourself and enjoy the majesty of the morning. (Roasted is a coffee shop inside of Tides that opens at 6am. I like to stop by there first and take my coffee on the beach. Plus, on these chilly mornings it will help to keep your warm!)

3. Send Christmas cards.
Everybody loves getting mail! …as long as it’s not a bill. Sure you could just send an email or a text, but doesn’t your loved ones deserve a personalized, handwritten card that they can treasure for years to come?

4. Forgive that person who may not deserve it, but needs it most.
This ain’t easy, but believe me when I say you need this too! We all make mistakes, we all forget things, and it honestly might not have even been on purpose. The past is the past and as long as it’s not habitual or destructive to the relationship, forgiveness may be the only thing keeping you from having that amazing relationship.

5. Hug your parents.
Do we really do this enough? I feel like hugs are things we tend to take for granted. Humans need touch, and sometimes this is the only way we know how to communicate our emotions towards each other. A simple hug can go a long way.

6. Visit at least one touristy attraction.
This is the best time of year to do it! Places aren’t as crowded, it’s not blazing hot, and some places will even have discounts on admission.

7. Pour a glass of wine or pop open a beer, crank up the music, and dance around the house in your underwear.
Yes, this is just as fun as it sounds! Don’t worry about how you look, you’ll be alone so who cares. Just move your body in a way that feels good. You might just find yourself carrying this tradition over to the New Year!

8. Make the decision to Let It Go!
We carry so much with us from one day to the next. Most of it we cannot control, or is not our burden to carry in the first place. Stop worrying so much, things have a way of working themselves out without any input from you. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, just let it go.

9. Do one random act of kindness.
This can be something so simple like paying for the next person in line’s coffee, or putting $10 on a pump of gas. There are also many opportunities around the community, such as donating to Toys-for-Tots, volunteering at The Lowcountry Food Bank, The Ronald McDonald House, or at an animal shelter, and many area businesses are collecting canned food for the local food bank.

10. Watch Love Actually.
This film is about an eclectic group of characters who all seem to be connected in London during Christmas time. It is charming, funny, and will pull on your heart strings all at the same time. Trust me on this one when I say it is a must see, and even better when you watch it with a good friend or loved one. Doesn’t sound like you? Then make sure you watch The Charlie Brown Christmas special instead!

11. Take a “me” day.
Although they do not happen very often, I absolutely love having my “me” days. You can do anything, or nothing for that matter, that you want to, as long as it is stress free and makes you happy. I prefer to get a nice massage, then take a stroll down King Street or the Market to find something, no matter how small, for myself. My favorite “me” day trinket is a small ceramic dragon with a silly smile on his face. Enjoying a nice light lunch outside somewhere and people watching is also a great idea.

12. Change the batteries in your smoke detector.
This is your friendly service reminder courtesy of Charleston Daily. Come on, when is the last time you checked those batteries?

13. Get outside of your comfort zone.
Do something you wouldn’t typically do. Go somewhere you wouldn’t typically go. Sing karaoke with friends, climb the ropes at Wild Blue Ropes, put on that sexy dress you never wear and have a night on the town!

14. Finish that project.
We all have some project, big or small, that is sitting somewhere waiting for us to complete it. Slow down, make the time, and finish that project.

15. Choose to be happy.
This can be tougher for some than others, and that’s OK! Surround yourself with things, and people, that make you happy. When those negative thoughts come up, replace them with positive ones. Practice self-love, such as telling yourself that you are enough, reminding yourself how beautiful you are, and say daily affirmations. Don’t forget about the simplest thing you can do…smile.

16. Re-evaluate your priorities
Life has a tendency of taking over and we tend to get off our course from time to time. It is important that you bring your priorities to your conscious and see if where you are is where you want to be. This is how we stay connected to ourselves and move forward in life and in love.

17. Eat at a great Charleston area restaurant.
We are so lucky here in Charleston to have so many amazing restaurants. How many have you been to? No more excuses not to go to that one you have always wanted to go, but have never made it.

18. Disengage from the opinion of others.
You are you, and you are wonderful. Who cares what others think about you?! Here’s a little secret…if they make you feel bad when you are around them, then they probably shouldn’t be in your life. Once you learn to separate who you are from who you think everyone else thinks you should be, you will be amazed at how much happier and stress-free you will be.

19. Go play.
We have easy access to tennis courts, basketball courts, Frisbee golf, putt-putt, laser tag, paintball fields, trampoline parks, and open fields where you can play a pick-up game of whatever middle school/high school sports that you can think of.

20. Tell somebody you love them.
We don’t say this anywhere near enough. You never know what tomorrow may hold. Today is the day to tell your friends and family how much they mean to you. And keep it up; personally I have never gotten tired of hearing someone say they love me, nor do I tire of expressing it. Both make my heart smile every time!

Soul of a Southern Angel – Original Poem

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By Mark A. Leon

On a hot summer night where the moisture glistens off the petals of the azaleas we clench to this Southern sauna

A rainbow of flowers tickles our skin as we dance across the gateway to the forest
Painted red as a rose, the bridge guides us through the murky water as the heron guards us from the ghosts of plantation past

A mystical world all around

Magnolia Gardens, a breathing novel of boy loves girl narrated over centuries
This is an evolving tale of passion in a Garden in Eden so splendid

Your golden curls compliment the blue Southern skies as you tilt your head for one soft gentle kiss
Subtle breasts hug my chest
Candied lips embrace my weak soul

We are but pawns on this chess board of nature moving to a journey of emancipated devotion

A journey to a great abyss; a vast unknown
Leaving behind the curiosity of innocence for the lustful quenching of our affection

Through the distance the plantation home calls us
Words of yesteryear calling us to dinner
To hear the sound of mother’s voice

In fondness we remember

I pick a flower
It calls you
In your hair the color sparkles

With a smile of a Southern angel, I look to your eyes and see to the essence of your being
Like a spy, I peak inside a warm place so inviting
I am complete

Now, with a single step together, we embrace the now and look to a future where the sun brightens our spirits

Month of Charleston Love: ‘Love is Everything’ – Original Poem

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By Mark A. Leon

Love is everything
Everything
Without it, we are invisible

Invisible to the sound of a morning rain
Invisible to the smile of a rose blossoming in Spain
Invisible to the sight of long slow kiss
In this life, there is so much we can miss

Love is enchanting like a warm summer breeze
A tingle, a wink, a sigh, a touch of a cool spring day

It is the reason we rise
The struggle to survive
The euphoria of time
The essence of rhyme

Love breathes
It protects
A blanket so safe

A song
A whisper
A kind eye

With the simplicity of words
Words spoken in the air
Linger, journey, invite you near

Take hold
Take flight
Find meaning
Stop thinking; just be
A disease infecting my very soul

Love is everything
Meant to be lost
To be found

Hold for a second
A risk
Take a picture
Keep it for all time
It will last forever
With the winds of change, I will be reminded of the smile that has stopped in time

With the strength of a thousand “I Love Yous”
I feel so alive now
So alive with you

You are the escape I have dreamed about
An imaginary world come true

With you, love is everything

Letter to the Sea (Letter to Earth for Love, Hope and Peace) – Original Poem

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By Mark A. Leon

Out to sea we will meet
Distant strangers together under a starry sky

In our differences, we see the world through a spectrum of colors
Different languages, looks, beliefs, morals and relationships; yet one unified bond
The pursuit of meaning and love

Each moment an explosion of millions of actions pulsating in a thunderstorm of emotion causing a chain reaction so raw with intensity we can only respect its being

Each one of us a gift
Each moment a mother touches her newborn for the first time, a legacy
Babies first steps, a dream becomes reality
A first kiss, fear is shed and enlightenment found
A vow of love, the ultimate promise
A reflection of life, the soundtrack of the harmonies of our days

Close your eyes to hate
Shed away the fear
Find comfort in the love that surrounds
Have faith in the hands that created you
Take shelter in the relationships that protect

Let this message be a guide to your continued journey
Look back on your footprints in the sand; soon to be washed away but forever secured safely in your lock box of life’s precious times

Each step a new beginning toward your destiny
One filled with conviction

Make these words a pledge to find inner peace and live with passion
Leap in the air and let gravity take hold
It is in this moment, new and fresh, you will become wonderful

 

The Charleston Mantra is Simple: Spread Love

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By Mark A. Leon

As I walked the Mount Pleasant Waterfront Park pier last evening, I began to think about science and the truth seekers that lead the revolution of knowledge gathering.? Their framework is very simple: seek answers to life’s most complex and challenging questions.? The goliath of all questions that has riddled us all is the meaning of life and existence.

Where did we come from?? Why are we here?? What lies ahead after our organic body expires?? We most likely will never know the absolute truth of what force led to this thing we know as the universe and our tiny piece of real estate, but we continue to search.

Over the millions of years of evolution, our bodies, our ability to think, our every-day tools have developed and adjusted, but one core value has remained with humanity; the ability to feel empathy and love.

What makes love so powerful and so unexplainable?? It brings us to extreme levels of happiness and sadness.? It makes us laugh and cry.? It penetrates our bodies to the point of actual pain and ecstasy.? Yet, it is completely unpredictable.? Perhaps, you need to look at love as not an answer to be sought, but a guiding force in our journey.

As I walked the pier, with the final glimmer of sunlight reflecting off the harbor on onto my back, I saw couples holding hands, taking selfies, sitting on the rocking bench together, mothers and daughters holding hands, fathers giving son’s piggy back rides and all had the same common attributes of laughter, happiness and joy.

Just then, it hit me, the glue that keeps the wheels spinning on Charleston is the aphrodisiac in the air of love.? It is the roots of our garden, the fuel that keeps this Southern flame alive.

Take away the mansions, the fancy restaurants, the church steeples, the scenic waterways and you are still left with a simple philosophy: “Be guided by the simplicity of love, find those that fulfill your need of community and embrace the nature wonders of home and there you are”.? Charleston’s core mantra is love.

What brings couples from all over to pledge their eternal love on our beaches and churches?

What leads flocks to seek warmth under our sun?

What plants the idea to step back over two hundred years and let a horse guide you through the cobblestone roads?

What presence sends subliminal messages to kiss under the palmetto and frolic through Philadelphia Alley?

Why do you feel the need to dance on the sidewalk as a street performer serenades you or dine as the moon reflects off the harbor waters?

Love

We shower you with our Southern kindness, greetings of acceptance and acts of respect.

That is the pillar that can never be broken in Charleston.? That is the life that we have chosen.

When I think of a word to best describe the Charleston experience, it is simple, “Love”.

Embrace the idea of love.? Be kind, generous and hopeful.

 

 

Motivate for a Better You – These Speeches/Videos can change you from unhappiness to happiness and success

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How often do you wake up miserable, dreading work, or lacking the energy to even get out of bed?
How often does it feel like the world is closing in on you?
How often are you strained by financial worries, lack of support or just a fear of failure?
How often do you feel like you will never find the happiness you seek?
How often does depression take over your life?

I would be surprised if anyone could not identify with one or more of those questions.
Take some time each day (5, 10, 15 minutes) and listen.? Listen closely to the words of these inspiration videos and find the inner confidence, peace and happiness you seek.

It will change you…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53ZZvt56aHY&t=2005s

Bonus – Montages

Mccrae and Laney: A Charleston Love Story – From Proposal to Marriage for a Charleston Southern Couple

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By Mark A. Leon

On June 16, 2018, in an intimate wedding ceremony in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, Mccrae Paxton Carroll and Alyssa Ray Carroll pledged a lifetime together in front of family, friends and loved ones, but their journey started with a carriage ride, a song and a proposal in White Point Garden in the heart of Charleston, South Carolina.? Most often, it is the quiet stories, without fanfare, without mass media that truly define the Lowcountry spirit.

The story of these two young Charleston Southern lovers is one of those beautiful human interest stories of love and commitment and we were fortunate to play a small role.? One day, a close friend Hannah reached out to us from an article we wrote entitled, 11 Memorable Places to Propose in Charleston, South Carolina, and asked for our help developing an idea for the best proposal.

We provided some ideas, and then Team Mccrae and Laney put together a beautiful proposal idea that consisted of a carriage ride through historic downtown Charleston, a song and a pledge of eternal love.? With Mccrea’s background in music, it was clear that was an important part of their lives together and had to be a part of the proposal.

As true with some many memorable moments we witness, one lose sight of the rest of the story.? We were able to acquire pictures from their wedding last month in Maggie Valley, North Carolina and wanted to share their story from proposal to marriage with our readers

Today, the Carroll’s live in a small apartment in Charleston, while they finish their academic studies at Charleston Southern, his in Psychiatry and her in Nursing.? They are so excited to start their lives together as husband and wife with plans to raise a family here in the Lowcountry.

To Maccrae and Laney, we wish you a life of happiness and wonder.? Thank you for letting us play a small role in your happiness.

8 Ways Women Can Impress Their Man and Spice It Up

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By Mark A. Leon

Here we go. You officially have your man. Prince Charming, the love of your life, your true soul mate and as time passes you with both develop a set of routines and consistent behaviors. One morning you are both going to wake up and realize that there is no longer any mystery. The zest has fizzed out and the only logical progression is the demise of the romance and spice. This is a period of a relationship so many of us have had to deal with. You may find yourself sitting in bed one evening pondering ways to add a twist to the relationship to make it new and exciting once again.

We are here to assist. Right before your eyes are a few sure fire ways you can step up to the plate and show the love of your life you are ready to play the game and keep the fire burning for a long time to come.

Tips to Keep Things Spicy and Energized in the Relationship

1. Speak your mind and say it loud. Do not be afraid to disagree with your significant other and justify your point. A good healthy discussion builds strong character and intense will power. Go toe to toe and show him that you are as strong in your convictions as he is. Guys like a girl that agrees with him, but not all the time.

2. Show your wild side a little more frequently. I am positive the intimacy is still healthy yet take a look at your routines in bed and see if there are some patterns of repetition and look within yourself to find new things you have never tried before such as a stripper pole, tying him up, blind folds, new lingerie, a little playful sex game, toys or a wild new position. Take the initiative and make it happen.

3. Go natural. We love make up and all the effort your put into your hair and face. Sometimes though, we want to know our girl is confident enough to go out just the way she is. We can look at magazines or four star restaurants to see women with hundreds of dollars of MAC products on, but there is something sensual about a girl that can walk out the door with nothing but a smile and work it.

4. Be impulsively spontaneous. Show up one day with tickets to a bed and breakfast or lessons to go sky diving or a road trip for the evening and the bags are already packed. Doing something completely unexpected with not only keep him on his toes, but will set the plateau higher for him to top you.

5. Show your inner geek. Play some video games or be a dork and dance in a water fountain. Dorky is the new sexy. Try it and let me know if I am right.

6. Laugh until it hurts inside and out. Laughter is the key to all happiness. Finding and embracing your love of laughter is the most cherished gift in the world. Whether you are at a movie or cuddling on the couch let yourself go. You will be shocked how turned on a guy can be when a girl is laughing her little butt off.

7. Take a chance on your passions. Men love to see a woman that shows a desire to learn something new and sticks with it. It shows focus, determination and accomplishment. Men by nature have a competitive instinct so when our lady shows an interest and follows it to completion, we are very impressed.

8. Be independent and be your own woman. Independence is very sexy. If you want girl time to go to the gym, sit in a warm bath or dance with your friends, go out and have fun. In a strong healthy relationship trust is the single strongest bond. If you both have that level of trust, we love letting you go and being on your own, because in the end it is the love that brings you back into each others arms.

There you have it, the guide to keeping your man impressed and maintaining a level of vigor and punch in your relationship. Keep it sensual, seductive and playful.

Now go give your special man a hug and a long kiss.

 

Something in the Way She Moves – Why Women are the Key to Happiness

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By Mark A. Leon

As a man, I can say comfortably that we are simple folk. We have simple common ways of thinking, actions and thought. We are the hunters and gatherers, the quiet communicators, the competitive spirits and the comforting companions. We think sensibly and act progressively. We are the backbone and the cornerstone of progress, but history will dictate, as well as the future, that we are billions of empty souls wondering aimlessly through life without the blood that makes our heart pump.

That blood with its nutrients and fortified vitamins of life is the women that gives us the guidance, confidence and strength.

Women are:

  • Irrational (in such a good way.? It leads to disruption, then change, then innovation)
  • Emotional
  • Passionate
  • Intuitive
  • Nurturing
  • Comforting and protective
  • Strong
  • Emotionally centered while always thinking outside the box
  • Crazy and neurotic in a way that makes them irresistible
  • Sexy
  • Scholarly
  • Heroes without the need for recognition
  • Patient to our needs
  • Prepared in times of danger
  • Always there with open arms

When I think about the women in my life, from infancy to adulthood, so many flash through the theater inside my head. From mothers, to sisters, to teachers, to girlfriends, to lovers, to companions, to friends, to strangers and beyond.

Each one has left something behind. ?Something meaningful that has sculpted my entire being.

Let me be the first to say, women are crazy. Crazy in the amazing, cannot stop thinking about them kind of way. ?Some in their words and others in their actions.

There isn’t a decision in my life that has not been powered by the influence of a woman. ?Think about every aspect of your life.

What does your life entail?

  • Careers
  • Goals
  • Dreams
  • Sports
  • Family
  • Education
  • Hobbies
  • Travel
  • Dating / Marriage / Partnership
  • Friendship
  • Arts (Writing / Photography / Film / Theater)
  • Nurturing (Hospitals / Clinics / Nurses)
  • Teamwork

How many of the above bullet points in your life are heavily influenced or assisted by the hand of a woman?

I thought so.

Why then do I still continue to hear so many stories of corporate prejudice, domestic violence, divorce, social inequity, emotional withdrawal and genders divided?

I wish I knew the answer, but unfortunately, like so many of my fellow inhabitants of this earth, we are lost for a resolution.

I am going to leave you with this:

Love is the defining core of the good in humanity. ?It is a simple gesture, a warm thought, a kind act. ?It is as easy as the feel of a human touch and as lasting as the depths of the universe. ?Accept the perfection that is in women and embrace all they have to offer.

They are our reason for living and the core of our being.

When you find a woman that is beautiful inside and out and she gives herself to you in some capacity, accept, embrace and give back equally.

You will find yourself in a much better place in the end.