The Faces of Country Sunshine

by CountrySunshine

Country Sunshine is a freelance writer and photographer. Learn more about her background in this autobiographical article on Wizzley.

This past summer, an old friend came by for a visit. We had been close during our teenage years and into our twenties. However, after we both married and moved to other towns, we lost touch. This reunion was close to 25 years in the making.

After catching up with current family news, we decided to look through old photographs. I have hundreds of pictures in boxes and albums. Family photos, school pictures, and family trips make up about half of the pictures. The remainder is of the good times I had with my friends.

When we finally came across a box with photos of our teenage years, my friend laughed. “These are hilarious!! I've lived at least three lives since then - I'm looking forward to maybe five more.”

I understand this sentiment entirely. I have lived several lives over the years, learning and growing from each. Instead of lives, however, I think of them as my “faces”. When I look at my facial expressions in photographs, I can immediately remember what I was doing, how I felt and how much I‘ve changed since then.

I'm the one in the hooded coat
I'm the one in the hooded coat
Country Sunshine

The Face of My Early Childhood

I was born and raised in Texas, and am proud to say it is still my home.  I was blessed with what I consider a normal family:  two loving parents, an older brother, and a younger sister. 

My father was a Master Sergeant in the US Marine Corps who later became a junior high school math & science teacher.  My mother was a stay-at-home mom until my sister entered school.   At that point, she began teaching kindergarten.  

I was named after the daughter of one of my dad’s Marine Corps friends.  Her name was Lynne, as is mine.  My dad always says “For it to be a girl’s name, Lynne has to have an “e” on the end.”  I’ve met a lot of other girls with the same first name, but seldom do they include the “e”.

As children, we were allowed to get dirty, throw rocks, and eat candy.  We played football in the street, built forts with discarded Christmas trees, walked to school, and rode our bicycles throughout the neighborhood.  We didn’t watch much television, as we much preferred to spend our time outdoors.

Growing up, we always had pets of some sort.  Our first dog was named Frisky, and our cat was Midnight.  We also kept crawdads, turtles, lizards and horned toads that we found in the empty fields in the neighborhood.   My mother drew the line at raccoons and tarantulas, as she wanted neither to escape inside our house!  This early exposure to pets of all kinds is the basis of my love for animals now. 

Mother reading to my brother and I
Mother reading to my brother and I
Country Sunshine

The Face of a Reader

As the daughter of two school teachers, I discovered a love for the written word. My parents would read to us during the day, and always put us to bed with a story.

After I learned to read on my own, Nurse Nancy, became my favorite. It was part of the Litttle Golden Book series. From those simple books, I progressed to Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys, then on to light fiction, biographies and memoirs. I will simply read anything: the back of cereal boxes; information sheets from prescriptions; billboards, street signs; and even bibliographies.

I am currently reading books by John Grisham and James Huston, and a couple of WWII non-fictions.  I always keep a book beside by chair and my bed, so I can read whenever I have a spare moment.

Our family vacations consisted of visiting relatives over the summer.  We’d load up in the car and head out for two months.   New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and California were some of the states we visited along the way.   We visited national parks, art galleries and museums.  We hiked up mountains, and skied down the slopes.   We explored every city we visited, learning the culture and making memories that lasted a lifetime.  

Travel has been a part of my life ever since.  I was an exchange student in Germany, and owned a travel agency for 19 years.  In addition to the United States, I’ve traveled to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Iceland and Europe. I’ve even cruised the Pacific Ocean and Mississippi River.  I’ve been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans several times, attended Fantasy Fest in Key West, and gone to festivals all across the U.S.A.  I guess you‘d say I have travel in my blood!  

Festivals & Events
An annual event in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the burning of Zozobra Festival is a symbolic way to shed your troubles and begin life anew.
Each December 23rd, thousands of people flock to Oaxaca City, Mexico, to celebrate the annual Night of the Radishes festival.
Travel in June to the Ann Richards Congress Avenue bridge in Austin, Texas to watch thousands of bats emerge from under the bridge during the BatFest celebration.
Fishermen from Oklahoma and nearby states meet in Paul's Valley each June to compete in bare-handed catfishing at the Okie Noodlin' Festival.
Travel & Places
Dunns River Falls, jerk chicken, cliff diving, the Bob Marley Museum, and zip-lining are among the best activities and fun things to do on your next trip to Jamaica.
How To Raise Chickens As Pets
How To Raise Chickens As Pets
Mama Guinea With Two Newborn Keets
Mama Guinea With Two Newborn Keets
Country Sunshine

The Face of a Poultry Farmer

After moving to the country, my husband suggested that I raise chickens.   While I thought he was crazy at the time, I found I enjoyed these friendly birds!   What began as a small flock of 1 rooster and 5 hens has become 2 roosters and 33 hens.  

Raising poultry can become somewhat of an addiction.  The year after I began raising chickens, I was given 6 guinea fowl.  Although these birds are a bit on the homely side, and quite noisy, I love their personalities.  I have since added 3 more guineas to my farm.

One can never have enough birds, so the next addition to my growing family was ducks.  I began with a pair, and now have 5.   It’s fun to watch them waddle around the yard, dabbling in the mud.

The Face of Grief

I knew not what grief was until my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  The time between diagnosis and death was so fast that I didn’t have time to deal with the emotions that go along with it.  After his death, I was numb for several months, and then the flood gates opened.    

The photo to the right was taken after my husband’s memorial service, during a get-together at our house in his honor.  I was unaware that my photo was being taken, and would have protested had I known.   But I’m glad I have it, as it reflects who I was and what I was feeling during that terrible time.


Grieving After My Husband's Service
Grieving After My Husband's Service
Country Sunshine

The Face of A Veteran's Widow

In 2012, I was invited to participate in a ceremony, called "In Memory Day" at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  Held in view of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, this ceremony is held each Flag Day in honor those veterans who died as a result of their service in the Vietnam War.

It had been almost 2 years to the day since my husband passed away from his Agent Orange-related cancer, yet I was still grieving. Although I was a bit anxious to visit such a big city on my own, I knew it was something I had to do for both my husband and myself.

It was quite an emotional ceremony, yet I was blessed to be surrounded by others just like myself.  Parents, brothers, sisters, wives and children all who had lost someone to this tragic war.

Hiding behind sunglasses during the In Memory Ceremony
Hiding behind sunglasses during the I...

I have since learned to live with grief.  I do not know if I’ll ever get over his loss, but I have learned to live with it and move on.

The Face of a Writer

The majority of my life, I have been a writer.  Poetry, short stories, and thoughts in general have all been jotted down.  I have notebooks and boxes full of stories and scribbles, hiding beneath my bed and in the back of the closets.  

I took a hiatus from writing for several years, and it wasn’t until after my husband passed away that I found a need for it again.  I am a different writer than the one I was in the past.  Perhaps because I now wear a different face?   My perspective on life, love and death has changed, and I believe it is for the better.  

I write articles for a variety of sites, including Wizzley, Hubpages, Zujava, Writedge, and DailyTwoCents.  The topics are varied, and include the following:

Beauty & Fashion:

I don’t always wear the most fashionable clothing.  I believe in purchasing durable, classic clothing instead of the latest fad.   These are my recommendations.

Suffering from foot problems? Crocs are the most comfortable shoes you'll ever wear. Choose from a variety of styles and colors to match your wardrobe.
Carhartt offers jeans, jackets, overalls and outerwear for both men and women. For the best value in comfort and durability, choose Carhartt clothing.
Muck Boots | The Best Boots To Keep Your Feet Warm & Dry
Muck Boots | The Best Boots To Keep Y...

Patriotism, Military and American Pride:

I am proud to be a citizen of the United States of America.   I am a patriotic American, a proud Texan, and I support our military and veterans.  

Should the US flag be flown at the same height as the Texas Flag? An ongoing controversy in Rockwall County, Texas
Each June, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund honors fallen Vietnam Veterans with the annual "In Memory" event at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Tributes to the military who sacrifice so much for the United States of America.
Thank a Veteran and show your appreciation of the United States military by sending a member of the US Armed Services one of these customizable greeting cards on Veterans Day.


Give me a movie that makes me laugh or makes me dance. The quirkier the better!
Best Patrick Swayze Movies
Best Patrick Swayze Movies
Tapeheads - The Movie | Tim Robbins and John Cusak
Tapeheads - The Movie | Tim Robbins a...

Do you like to read? Try these books:

Don Piper dies, goes to Heaven, and has an experience that is beyond words. His life-changing journey will comfort both your heart and soul.
How to use common household items for better and more productive gardening. A review of the gardening book by Roger Yepsen.

Music: The tunes that get my feet a-tapping

Gift ideas for people who are fans of the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Band. Choose from patches, DVDs, t-shirts, posters, and games.

Food & Recipes:

I have always enjoyed cooking, and fixed many of the family meals when I was a teen.  Many of my recipes are the ones my Mother created, while others are concoctions I've come up with on my own. 

A side dish of potato salad can be served at a family gathering, barbecue, or for a homemade meal. This recipe was created by my Mother, and was a family favorite.
Venison Spaghetti Recipe
Venison Spaghetti R...

Gift Ideas:

There is an art to giving gifts.  If you know the person well enough, you'll be able to select the perfect present.  Here are some suggestions:

Gift ideas for people who love Texas and all that this state represents! Music by Willie Nelson, Texas magazines, red-hot salsa, and the Texas flag.
Gift ideas for people who are fans of the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Band. Choose from patches, DVDs, t-shirts, posters, and games.
Do you know someone that loves roosters? There are many unique gifts for people who like birds! Weather vanes, bottle openers, bird houses and fans make great presents!

For The Home

Thermometers, ash buckets, humidifiers and firewood accessories: These are some of the best gifts and gadgets to keep your wood-burning stove running efficiently.
The Bissell Proheat Cleaner is lightweight, easy to use, and gets all of the dirt out of your carpets, rugs and furniture's upholstery.

For The Yard and Garden

How to use common household items for better and more productive gardening. A review of the gardening book by Roger Yepsen.
Wind spinners add movement and color to your yard and garden, and are available in a wide variety of colors, shapes and textures.

For Our Furry & Feathered Friends

Do you know someone that loves roosters? There are many unique gifts for people who like birds! Weather vanes, bottle openers, bird houses and fans make great presents!
Updated: 06/04/2017, CountrySunshine
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jptanabe on 02/17/2015

Beautifully written - thanks for sharing your life.

CountrySunshine on 12/29/2014

Thanks, Ruthi! I guess we all need to come "out of the closet" at times!

RuthCox on 12/29/2014

Great to read such an in-depth article about you the person as well as writer, Lynne,

CountrySunshine on 12/28/2014

Thank you, Digby! Vietnam was not kind to my husband. He had both physical and emotional wounds as the result of his service. He was not bitter, and always said that if he could go back, he wouldn't change a thing.

Thank you for your visit and comment!

Digby_Adams on 12/27/2014

I am sorry to hear the sad story of your husband's death and that it was caused by Agent Orange.

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