Saturday, November 30, 2013

Life Lessons from Patti J. Smith

Please join me for a special weekend post with fellow Helping Hands Press author Patti J. Smith!  Welcome Patti! :)

In case you haven't had the pleasure of meeting her yet, Patti's specialty is devotions. Hop over to her Amazon author page to check them out.


When I tell people I was raised in the military, many say, “That must have been
hard”. In some respects it was with constant moves, leaving family and friends and
being the new kid at school; however, in contrast to those hardships, there was an
atmosphere of excitement and adventure whenever my dad got his orders. One
such assignment was Nouasseur Air Force Base, Morocco – right outside of

The military was integral part of the local economy by hiring domestic and
landscape services. We had a maid, Fatna Omar (who we called Nanna), and a
gardener, Bashir. Nanna not only kept our home impeccable, she taught my sister
and I French and Arabic. There would be days assigned where she would only speak
French or Arabic, which made learning the language easy. In fact, when we returned
stateside, we could both speak French with ease and retained quite a bit of Arabic.
She also shared local recipes with my mom, my favorite being Couscous, durum
wheat (rice-like) served with chicken and vegetables. Our yard was absolutely
beautiful as Bashir took great pride in his handiwork. They were warm, loving
people who quickly integrated into our family.

What I'll always remember is the joy they brought into our lives. Never did we see a
frown or words of anger. They were sincerely happy people. They not only showered
us with as much love as they did their own families, but always brought my sister
and I home-made trinkets that became instant treasures. Although they saw how we
lived with all the modern conveniences, they were satisfied with what they had.
They lived in shacks, with dirt floors, no running water or electricity yet were
content with their meager surroundings...and always proudly welcomed us into their

While we were there the base closed which proved disastrous for the economy. My
mom and dad were so worried about Nanna and Bashir they gave them a year's
salary as severance to keep them going until they could find something else. They
both tried to refuse but with much prodding, they finally accepted the gift with great
humility. Leaving them was very hard because we knew we would never see them
again, but the life lesson they shared with us will be held in our hearts forever:

“True happiness is not having what you want but wanting what you have.”

Thank you, Patti, for sharing with us today. Wish you all the best with your 

You can find out more about Patti and her books on her blog, Gridiron Granny, on
Pinterest, or on Amazon. 

How was your Thanksgiving? What are you up to this weekend?

Happy writing,


P.S. I'm visiting Patti's blog today. If you have a moment,
hop over!


  1. Patti,
    It's great to have you here today! Thanks so much for sharing with us. :)

    1. Thanks for having me Karen! Blessings to you as well!

  2. I enjoyed this, Karen and Patti. Very interesting peek into another culture and lifestyle. Thank you.

  3. That is what I enjoyed about being a military brat as well. When we were in Japan, we had a nanny and housekeeper and she taught my brother and I to speak fluent Japanese. Plus she took us so many unique places. It was an experience I couldn't have enjoyed any other way.

  4. Rhonda,
    Thanks for coming by! It's always good to see you. :) I agree, it is interesting!

    Oh yes, I forgot that you lived in Japan. What an experience to treasure!

    Happy weekend,

  5. Hi Karen and Patti - your story reminds me a little of South Africa - but I'd have loved Morocco .. and how fabulous to have learnt French and Arabic - something I wish I'd been 'made' to do .. also your parents gesture to Nanna and Bashir .. that must have helped hugely. Leaving behind people with little is very difficult ...

    However the experiences you've had will add spice to your writings and a greater understanding of those in far off lands .. but the foods of the Mediterranean I love too .. delicious! While their flowering plants always bright against the skyline and clay walls ... I expect you had bougainvillea ...

    Lovely read and we have so much to be thankful for .. Cheers Hilary

  6. Hilary,
    So glad you could stop by and see us! It does sound like a wonderful adventure, doesn't it? I think this type of thing gives us a broader worldview. I agree, we've much to be thankful for!
    Karen :)

  7. Patti:

    This was a great read. Nanna and Bashir sound like peaceful, loving people, and no amount of success or wealth can bring one that. Your parents' gesture when the base closed is telling of your parents' magnanimous nature. In a similar vein, my parents grew up abroad, with no electricity or running water, and remember feeling rich because they had a wood-burning stove and always enough food to eat. You are right when you say that "True happiness is not having what you want but wanting what you have.”


    Fun fact: I decided to read Patti's piece while listening to songs by Patty Smyth on YouTube. Tee hee.

    Thank you for hosting Patti. I enjoyed her piece. Be well, ladies.

  8. Janette,
    It is an interesting story, isn't it? So much to be learned from other cultures. It really is a small world. :)


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!