Inspiring Moment: Clouds from Plane Window

Written by Braiden


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Inspiring Moment: Bumper Sticker

Written by Braiden


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The House on Sylvan Drive

Written by Laurie Halladay on November 14, 2011

 One of our frequent contributors, Laurie Halladay, writes a moving story about her childhood home, and what has happened to it through the years. 

Laurie’s childhood home as it looked in better times

On a recent visit to my hometown, I was told not to go by my old house, for fear I would be upset by what had become of it.

I knew they were right, but somehow my rental car felt like it was being pulled by an invisible magnet as it made an involuntary left turn onto Sylvan Drive.

In front of me was the two-story brick house my parents built in 1940 when they got married. Situated on a wooded lot surrounded by giant oaks, it was the first house built on the street. My Dad’s uncles constructed it, and the house was lovingly finished by my parents who lived there until 2001 when my Mom died and it was sold.

As I looked at the torn-up lawn, bedraggled drapes hanging at the windows, and the ugly cream-colored paint covering the beautiful varnished wood trim, I tried to remember the shell of a building when it was my home. And, I wished I could have five more minutes in the house with my Mom and Dad as it had been for all of those 60 years.


I could imagine turning into the driveway, getting out of the car, and walking through the unlocked screened door leading into the kitchen. It would bang with a familiar clang. Dad would be sitting at the table working a crossword puzzle. Mom would be standing over the sink getting lunch ready.

We would carry trays through the dining room’s French doors to the screened back porch. The yard would have been manicured for my visit, and I would look with fond memories at my play house which now stored Dad’s yard equipment. The picnic table still sat in front of the brick fireplace, reminding me of the many cookouts and croquet games we used to play on summer Sunday afternoons.

After lunch, I would take the three steps down into the family room, which was added in 1952. The brick wall with the big fireplace reminded me of the many Christmas celebrations we shared there. Dad and I would pick out the perfect tree which sat in front of the window where a card table now stood ready ready for my parents’ dinner in front of the TV.

I would find my Mom sitting in her favorite chair in the living room with the late afternoon light streaming in through the window. She would be reading one of her favorite murder mysteries while she watched for the arrival of the paper boy. The living room housed the collection of scrapbooks which my Mom religiously kept up to date. No visit home would be complete without a browse through one of the 13 books.

My dad had disappeared upstairs to catch the ninth inning of a Tiger baseball game on the TV in his room. I would head to my room at the end of the hall, but first I would peek into the storage room which once was my nursery. My mom was an artist and had hand-painted koala bears climbing the walls. They were still there.

My room was a time warp. It was easy to feel I was back in high school since very little had changed. I looked in the drawers of the table between the twin beds. An old diary was there, just as I had left it. Some prom favors were stuffed in the back. I could picture my felt skirts and saddle shoes sitting in the closet.

Well, my five minutes were up as I walked out the front door for the last time and gazed at the garden where the tulips had once blossomed and all of our Easter pictures had been taken.


Yes, you can go home again, if only in your memories. It was a wonderful visit.

Dogwoods in brilliant bloom at the house on Sylvan Drive

Inspiring Moment: Blue Flowers/Grassy Greens

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson

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Give Me Just Five Minutes

Written by Braiden on November 10, 2011

 One of the main premises of the Five More Minutes With website is submissions from readers.

So I think the writer’s exercise below, originally published last year, bears repeating.

Please feel free to send me your stories for possible publication!

Family friend Mabel Milson and me on the swing set at my childhood home. 

Many of you have told me what a wonderful idea you think Five More Minutes With is, but you are shy about writing for the site because you’re not a professional writer, or because you simply don’t have the time.

Today I’m asking for just five minutes of your day to complete a simple writing exercise. Writing exercises are a trick that professional writers use if they’re feeling stuck on a project or idea. By forcing yourself to write about a topic, it often starts the creative juices churning and leads directly into writing “flow,” one of the greatest feelings known to man.

Begin this five-minute writing exercise by finding a comfortable spot to write and getting out your yellow legal pad, iPad, or computer. At the top of your preferred writing device, write the following question: What would you say to a departed loved one, or a person or pet no longer in your life, if you had five more minutes to spend with them?

Next, set your kitchen timer or cellular phone alarm for five minutes from now.

Now ready, set, go. . .read over the question and start writing. . .

Write off the cuff and straight from your heart, and don’t be critical or try to self-edit. . .this should be like a conversation between you and the person or pet you’re writing to.

Let your subconscious work its magic. There’s just something very conducive about being under the gun and knowing you have just five minutes to write a piece that eggs on the mind, helping you to write quickly and well.

If your thoughts are flowing, set the timer for another two or three minutes and continue writing.

Now take a minute or two and reread what you’ve written. I hope you will be surprised and pleased with what you came up with, and more than likely you’ve produced a story ready for publication on the Five More Minutes With Web site.

If you’re comfortable, please follow the link above and post your story, or send it directly to me at

I’d also love a photo of your loved one, if available, so please feel free to post or send one or two of those along as well.

In upcoming posts, I’ll share other writing tips on how to get into “flow,” so please stay tuned.

In addition to timed writing exercises, some writers respond well to visual or auditory cues. For example, quite often before I start writing FMMW posts, I turn on two OXO Candelas (smokeless, fireless “candles”) and place them on either side of my writing desk, as their warm glow simultaneously sends me into a place of calm and inspires me to think deep thoughts.

Other writers may be inspired by music. If you’re one of those, here’s the link to a Frank Sinatra tune that goes particularly well with the Five More Minutes zeitgeist.

Here’s what I said about that song in a previous post:

“After I received a recent Five More Minutes With Google alert, I followed an interesting-sounding link and discovered a recording of a“Frank Sinatra – Five Minutes More 78 rpm 1946 factory sample” that is simply incredible, the PERFECT song to match this site.

“The first 40 seconds or so aren’t nearly as compelling or to the point as the final two minutes, but the entire thing is a nostalgic romp through simpler times and softer days.

“The words go something like this:

“Give me five minutes more, only five minutes more,

“Let me stay, let me stay, in your arms.

“Here am I, begging for, only five minutes more,

“Only five more minutes of your charms. . .

“Give me five minutes more, only five minutes more.

“Let me stay, let me stay, in your arms.

“Awww, come on!”

Today I’m begging for just five minutes of your time in order to produce a story for Five More Minutes With. . .

Inspiring Moment: Levitating Flowers

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson

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Living Life as a Daymaker

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson on November 7, 2011

Five More MInutes With Clouds

Part of the inspiration for Five More Minutes With is that we should live each day as if it were our last, for none of us really knows how much time we may have left.

With that principal in mind, I’d like to introduce you to a little book that changed my life in all sorts of positive ways when I first picked it up shortly after it was published back in 2003.

I spotted the book as I was window-shopping my way along Seattle’s First Avenue in Seattle toward Pioneer Square, one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods. In the window of a large Aveda salon and spa, I spied a cute little square-format book whose robin’s-egg blue cover boasted the face of a handsome 30-something man with kind eyes, gorgeous wavy hair, and a toothy smile.

The book was entitled, “Life as a Daymaker: How to Change the World By Making Someone’s Day.

For some reason, although I’d never set foot in that particular salon before, I went in and began perusing the book, which was written by David Wagner, a world-renowned hair sylist (founder of the Aveda spas), artist, entrepreneur, educator, author, and “Daymaker.”

I quickly discovered that the principal behind the book–make someone else’s day and you’ll make your own–was one I’d been trying to incorporate into my life for years. I don’t know where I picked it up, but probably from my mother.

Mom, Grandmother, and Braiden Rex-Johnson

Mom, Grandmother, and me

With her sweet Georgia accent and natural beauty, that was one southern belle who never met a person she didn’t like or couldn’t charm. And her life motto was, “Live each day gloriously.”

Wagner’s book poses the simple, yet intriguing question: “Why have random acts of kindness when you can have intentional acts of goodwill?”

Since its publication, the book has sparked the  pay-it-forward“Daymaking” movement–a philosophy for living that has captured the hearts of many individuals who aim to change the world–one person at a time–through simple kindness.

In upcoming posts, we’ll explore ways to incorporate “daymaking” into your own life.

But in the meantime, ask yourself: How can I make someone’s day and, thereby, change my own?

Inspiring Moment: Foot Shadow

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnsonn

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Nothing Left to Say. . .

Written by Carole Cancler on November 3, 2011

 Many of us have issues with our mothers. . .here fellow food professional and friend Carole Cancler describes her strained relationship with her mom. Carole told me that writing this story for Five More Minutes With did more for her in helping her release her pent-up feelings than years of therapy. Thanks for sharing, Carole!

Carole's Mom

I remember as a young girl going to the Tea Room at Frederick & Nelson with my mother and enjoying a Crab Louie with Russian dressing. We bought new dresses and hats for Easter service. I felt very grown-up and very special. I don’t recall feeling that special ever again.

A couple of years later, I found my mother alone and crying in the living room. I asked what was wrong. She said that no one loved her. In a small, meek voice, I stated that I loved her. She answered in an angry retort, “No, you don’t! Nobody does.”

I never seemed able to please her—each time I tried, I failed. I always seemed to do the wrong thing, in the wrong way, or at the wrong time. No boy I dated in high school was good enough. When my first husband left me, she reminded me, she often did that I had always been “a brat”. When I remarried 10 years later, she said that I was just plain stupid; she did not come to the wedding and did not speak to me for two years.

I tried to find common ground, be it developing an interest in things that she enjoyed (like opera, gardening, and bridge—none of which I do today). Each time I came up short. When I suggested we play bridge, she responded, “Why would I want to do that?”

We simply never bonded. In the 51 years we had together, we did not have even one “mother-daughter” talk. We didn’t share clothes or makeup secrets. She gave me no guidance in handling boys (or men). In the most vivid and frequent memories that I have of her, she is angry. During one angry exchange, I asked her if she could remember one time when we bonded. I did not receive an answer.

As a young girl lunching in the Tea Room, I saw her as an energetic, exciting, and glamorous woman. I very much wanted to be like her. As I grew up and began to make myself in this image, I also began to see her lack of confidence, a need that no amount of reassurance could assuage. At these times she would erupt in anger—anger that I’ve learned is the fear of failure, of being unloved. Yet, there were miniscule moments when some small gesture on my part was met with silence and I knew she felt love after all, love that she could only express with silence, never with a hug or conversation.

Still, I managed to build a successful life with dual careers, a loving husband, and a happy home life.

On what was to be her last birthday, knowing her cancer would soon take her, I gave her a card in which I thanked her for the qualities that I posses that have brought me the most success and happiness. Despite all indications, she must have had something to do with them. They came from somewhere. While I take full credit for my hard work, it seemed appropriate to look past her anger and silence, and simply thank her for the successful qualities we seem to share—my love of travel and adventure, a tenacious and determined nature, and the joy I find in life around good food shared with friends.

If I had five more minutes with my mother, there would be nothing left to say. She read the card. And she was silent.

More stories from: Featured Story,With My Mom

Inspiring Moment: Bathroom Graffiti

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson

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