Five More Minutes With Spends Five Minutes With the Before I Die Project

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson on September 30, 2013

Before I Die Book Cover

Have you heard about the Before I Die Project, by artist Candy Chang?

Chang painted the side of an abandoned building in her New Orleans neighborhood with chalkboard paint and stenciled the words, “Before I die I want to ____” as a tribute to a loved one she lost.

When she did that, she never expected it to become a worldwide phenomenon that has spread to more than 50 countries in more than 20 languages.

Now, Chang has collected the most compelling “Before I Die” statements into a 304-page book that will be published by St. Martin’s Press in early November.

What do YOU want to do before you die?

Inspiring Moment: Red Tulips

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson

Inspiring Moment: Red Tulips


Five More Minutes With Spends Five Minutes Enjoying Fore-Edge Book Paintings

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson on September 23, 2013

Intwined hearts photo

Kate Heyhoe, a good buddy of mine, fellow cookbook author, and the first-ever person to submit a story about her amazing mother, Alma, to the Five More Minutes With website way back in the spring of 2010, sent along a link that merges two of our shared passions–art and books.

The link comes from “Colossal: Art & Visual Ingenuity,” a Webby-nominated blog launched in 2010 by Christopher Jobson that “explores art and other aspects of visual culture.”

Fore-edge book paintings are miniature paintings done on the edges of old books. The only way you can even see them if if you fan out the pages.

Please take a moment to look at these. The videos (toward the bottom) are truly amazing.

You have to wonder and marvel at how the artists ever made them. They are truly small miracles!


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Inspiring Moment: Mexican Parade

Written by Laurie Halladay

Inspiring Moment: Mexican Parade II


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Five More Minutes With Spends Five Minutes With “Someone Who Understands”

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson on September 16, 2013

Inspiring Moment: Florida Lake

Today our frequent guest columnist, John Paul Carter, an ordained minister who writes for the Weatherford (Texas) Democrat, reflects on how all of us need someone in our daily lives who understands us. Thanks, as always, John Paul!

Someone Who Understands

Another of my heroes died the other day, John Graves. Most said that he was our finest contemporary Texas writer. Graves was one of my heroes because he wrote from his own physical experience with a river and a patch of land in country that we both loved. More than that, in person, he was one fine human being.

A. C. Greene once said that Graves’ first book “Goodbye to a River,” a narrative of his 1957 canoe trip down the Brazos, is “the finest piece of Texas writing ever done.” The book paints an unforgettable word picture of the river’s past and present as it flows through Palo Pinto, Parker, Hood, and Somervell counties.

In 1960 John Graves bought a 380-acre farm on White Bluff Creek in Somervell County, reclaiming the abused land and building his own house and barns. He called the farm “Hard Scrabble” and wrote a memorable book by that name about his experience of bonding with the land. He lived, worked, and wrote there until his death.

In the seventies, inspired by reading “Goodbye to a River,” my friend, Doug Ezell, and I made several memorable canoe trips down the Brazos – once with our young sons. Then, having fallen in love with the Brazos country, several friends and I bought a pristine piece of land on the river near Glen Rose. Using Graves’ account of “Hard Scrabble” as our guide, we camped, worked, and dreamed of building a retreat center and homes overlooking the river. We affectionately called it “The Land.” Although those dreams weren’t realized, the 15 years I spent roaming the land and the river, taught me valuable lessons about nature, myself, and God that I couldn’t have learned anywhere else.

Of all John Graves’ writings, my favorite is a brief chapter in “Hard Scrabble” in which he gives a moving account of his encounter with a dying fellow marine on Saipan in 1944. He and the young rifleman, both badly wounded, were deposited side by side on cots in a field hospital. As they drifted in and out of consciousness, the marine – a Southern farm boy – talked to his fellow Southerner about home. Finally, reaching out from under the mosquito net, he asked Graves to hold his hand, saying, “You want somebody that knows what you’re talking about….Thanks, mac.” And he died.

For me, the power of John Graves’ writing is that he “knows what you’re talking about.” He has traveled the river and lived on the land in our part of Texas. His observations ring true. And his reflections enlighten and inspire.

To have such a friend is a priceless treasure. To be such a friend to another human being is a high calling, indeed.

The good news of the Christian faith is that in Jesus of Nazareth “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). That is to say that God lived in our world and, therefore, knows what we’re talking about. And He is there to listen and take our hand in life and death!



Inspiring Moment: Billowy Clouds

Written by Laurie Halladay

Inspiring Moment: Billowy Clouds


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Five More Minutes With Discovers 11 Ways to Stay Young!

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson on September 9, 2013

Wild Flower Forest photo

Ever wondered how to stay young? Here are 11 good thoughts on an important subject.

1. Try everything twice.

On one woman’s tombstone she said she wanted this epitaph:

“Tried everything twice. Loved it both times!”

2. Keep only cheerful friends.

The grouches pull you down.

(Keep this in mind if you are one of those grouches!)

3. Keep learning.

Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever…

Never let the brain get idle. “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”

And the devil’s name is Alzheimer’s!

4. Enjoy the simple things.

Walk hand in hand with a loved one.

Sing in the shower.

Make a new friend.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. 

Laugh until you gasp for breath.

And if you have a friend who makes you laugh, spend lots and lots of time with him or her.

6. The tears happen.

Endure, grieve, and move on.

The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves.

LIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love.

Whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever..

Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health.

If it is good, preserve it.

If it is unstable, improve it.

If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don’t take guilt trips. 

Take a trip to the mall, even to the next city, state, to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

Those three words, “I love you,” can literally change a person’s life!

11. Forgive now those who made you cry. You might not get a second chance.

Revenge is cold; forgiveness is sweet.

Remember! Lost time can never be found.

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Live, Love, Laugh. . .

Life is not the way it is supposed to be.

It is the way it is.

The way we cope with it is what makes the difference.

Inspiring Moment: Seattle Space Needle by Night

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson

Inspiring Moment: Seattle Space Needle by Night

Five More Minutes With Spends Time with the Owl and the Pussycat

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson on September 2, 2013

PJ the Cat photo

Sometimes I think we could all learn a lot by watching our animal friends. Look at the strife in the Middle East right now as government, military, and civilian factions fight religious wars that have gone on for centuries.

In the Owl and the Pussycat video you’ll see two creatures who should be mortal enemies playing, running, and getting along famously.

As the Fum (the cat’s name) and Gebra (owl’s name) website says, “A question arises when comparing with the human relationships: ‘If they understand each other, what’s the reason for us not to understand each other too?’”

Wish the human world behaved more like this natural friendship in the animal world!