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Monday, March 31, 2014

Disturb Us ...

There are times when you hear something that is not necessarily directed just at you, it's shared with a wide audience and you happen to be a part of that audience, but it feels like it was spoken at just the right time and place so that you would hear it.

As I sat, listening to the below prayer by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, specifically the part about our dreams coming true because we dreamed too little or sailed too close the shore, I felt the message settling in.

It isn't that I've dreamed too little ... my dreams are pretty big.

It's that I need to take a different path to get to them, and I keep talking myself out of it ... convincing myself I'll likely fail or the potential financial impact will be too great or I won't have the time I need to make it work. The reasons rotate based on the day ... maybe even the hour. Regardless, they are the wrong reasons to keep close to shore where I feel safe.

It's exactly what I needed to hear.

I think ... :-)

Disturb Us, O Lord

(This prayer is attributed to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu adapted from an original prayer by Sir Francis Drake)

Disturb us, O Lord
when we are too well-pleased with ourselves,
when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little,
because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, O Lord
when with the abundance of things we possess,
we have lost our thirst for the water of life when,
having fallen in love with time,
we have ceased to dream of eternity
and in our efforts to build a new earth,
we have allowed our vision of Heaven to grow dim.

Stir us, O Lord
to dare more boldly,
to venture into wider seas where storms show Thy mastery,
where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.

In the name of Him who pushed back the horizons of our hopes
and invited the brave to follow.
Amen

Monday, March 3, 2014

Dr. Seuss Quotes to Change Your Life

I came across this wonderful infographic by www.mamiverse.com and - in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday and Read Across America day - had to share it! My absolute favorite is #11 ... it's a keeper, and one to be passed along to my children!

Which one is your favorite? (You don't have to pick just one! :-)).


Monday, July 15, 2013

The Candy Man


The first time I met Sam, I was in the midst of my strength training routine. As I strained and sweated to lift the weights just a few more times, he came around the corner and – extending an old-fashioned doctor’s bag toward me – said brightly, “Would you like a piece of candy?”

I stopped what I was doing and peered into the open pouch on the side of his bag to find a multihued assortment of hard candies. I smiled and asked, "Are there butterscotch discs in there?”

“Oh, yes … I’ve got those,” he said with confidence as he dug his hand into the bag and plucked out a golden disc.

“Thank you!” I said, with the giddiness of a child surveying her haul on Halloween night.

He turned to leave, then stopped and glanced at the weights I was using, “You know those come in lighter versions.”

I laughed.

I soon learned his very appropriate nickname - Sam the Candy Man. I also learned what a treat it is to watch him work the room of fellow ‘Silver Sneakers’ exercise classmates, offering them candy and bringing joy to their faces.

Outgoing and jovial, his response to the question “How are you, Sam?” is – with 99.9 percent certainty – always a hearty “Super Darn Whoppin’!” And, as if he has planned it because he knows I love them, there is always a butterscotch disc sitting atop the array of sweets when he extends his bag to me.

I do realize there are a couple rules being broken with this story. The first time I was approached by Sam, I did – in fact – take candy from a stranger. The very opposite of the rule we drill into our children’s brains.

Second, the candy is being distributed and accepted at a fitness club where, it seems, most people would be working to thwart the effects of such sweet temptations.

But, these broken rules are countered by the simple happiness and feeling of camaraderie his smile, his kind greeting, and his sharing of a small piece of candy bring to my day.

Recently, Sam was wearing a shirt with the caption “SAM-tastic!” splashed across the front. I wholeheartedly agree. And, to that I would add “Sweet”.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Choose Kind

If you and your 5th grade and up child(ren) have not yet read R.J. Palacio's "Wonder" ... do it! It is phenomenal (and the author's FIRST book - - yow!)!
 
Then, click on the below 'Choose Kind' badge below and join the national movement to 'Choose Kind', proving that each and every act of kindness can make a difference!
 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Unplug!


Put it on your calendars ... Screen Free Week is coming - April 29 - May 5! Click the link below and enjoy the video!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Luck of the Irish

In honor of St. Patrick's Day ... a re-posting of one of my favorite stories. Enjoy! :-)

I was standing in line at the post office when I heard, “And how long are you going to be?” I looked behind me to see an older man, possibly in his sixties, with an unwavering face and twinkling eyes that just screamed of dry humor and wit. I smiled and laughed, noting that I just had the one box and would make it fast.

I didn’t expect the conversation to continue. Thankfully, it did.

“My wife has me mailing these birthday cards to Ireland,” he continued gruffly. “We’re always sending things over there.”

Being a travel fanatic, I was intrigued. “Ireland, huh,” I responded, “I’ve never been there, but it’s on my list of places I want to visit.”

“Oh, we’ve been there many times … at least a couple dozen,” he said. “Both of our families are from there, and many are still living there.”

“Really?” I asked, “Is that where you met?”

“Oh no …”, he chuckled. “I was an auctioneer. Traveled all over the place. One day, I received a call from a rancher in central Oregon. I was to come pick up some items that would then be auctioned. That’s when I met her.”

“At the ranch?” I asked, amazed at such a chance meeting.

“Yep … she was the rancher’s daughter. That was thirty-some odd years ago … and things have been going downhill ever since,” he added with a sly grin.

“Well … it couldn’t be too bad if you’ve been together for thirty-some years!” I countered with a smile.

“Well, she was quite the successful businesswoman. I couldn’t give that up,” he said with the dry wit that had become the trademark of our short conversation. He then went on to explain that she had owned several thriving businesses – including a clothing shop and a salon – in the very complex we were standing in. “Back in the day, there would be a line of people waiting to get into her salon,” he added with a hint of pride.

I glanced at the service counter where, fortunately, the customers in front of me were having some sort of difficulty with their mailing progress.

“I can’t believe both of you are from Ireland, and you ended up meeting on a ranch out in the middle of central Oregon,” I added.

It was then that he told me that on one of their first trips back to Ireland as a couple, they decided to check into each of their family histories. Through their research, they discovered that their grandparents had been from the exact same small town in Ireland. His had owned a hardware store; hers had owned a grocery store. They traveled to that little town and discovered that – even to that day - his family’s original hardware store and her family’s original grocery store sat on the very same street, right next door to each other.

“Wow,” I said with all the eloquence of a rock. “That is absolutely amazing … a marriage meant to be.”

The customers at the counter retreated and it was my turn.

I mailed my package and turned, intending to smile and convey wishes for a good day with this man who had shared his wonderful story with me.

He was nowhere to be seen.

I couldn't help but smile. ‘A marriage made in heaven’ came to mind. Yes, definitely that … sprinkled with a little ‘Luck of the Irish’, had clearly brought these two individuals together.

My potentially-tedious trip to the post office was made special, with a beautiful and unexpected story of providence usually saved just for the kids and grandkids. It made this German-Irish girl feel a little lucky too!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Seuss-tacular Day!

What's better than Read Across America Day combined with
 
a Scholastic book fair combined with
 
a celebration of Dr. Seuss's birthday
 
combined with Grandparents' Day
 
celebrated by having
 
visiting readers in the classrooms and
 
grandparents enjoying a concert put on by the children
 
plus a special lunch
 
plus 'Seussville' set up in the gym, complete with
 
games and candy ...
 
plus more Cat in the Hat-themed treats in the classroom?!
 
Not much!
 
It definitely made for a fabulous Friday
 
and fun start to the weekend!
 
 





Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Taking the Scenic Route ...

Today, I'm remembering this quote ...

Thank you, Mary Engelbreit, for the artwork.
In the corporate world, I met my goals in a very linear fashion ... working hard & smart, thinking before speaking, being fair, having a positive attitude, showing dedication, and maybe a bit of luck and good timing all amounted to promotions that had me climbing the ladder at a very snappy pace.  

The road to becoming a published author has been, well ... much more circuitous, requiring many lessons in patience and a constant pick-yourself-up-again perseverance. It has been filled with wonderfully uplifting feedback, close calls, and so much knowledge gained, but the time and place has just never been exactly right. It will be (hopefully soon!), but - in the mean time - I'll keep reminding myself that this meandering journey is my 'scenic route' to the reward!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Happy Plate Guy


Long ago, back in the day when I was still participating in the grueling world of dating, my very dear friend was rushed to the hospital. I headed to the hospital the minute I received the call. At one point, when a doctor came in to check on her, I decided to leave her room to give her some privacy. 

That was my first mistake. 

I should have insisted on staying through whatever it was that prompted me to leave!  But no … I was polite and ushered myself to the waiting area.  It was late evening, and the waiting room was quiet and empty.  Except for a hospital employee dressed in scrubs.  I remember thinking that he was cute … and had nice hair.  And, I have to admit I wasn’t terribly disappointed when he started chatting with me … then flirting … and eventually asked me out.

I agreed to the invitation. That was my second mistake.

From what I had seen and heard that evening at the hospital, I pegged him to be the rugged, four-wheel drive driving, sporty type of guy. 

So, imagine my surprise when, upon walking out to his car on our infamous first (and last) date night, I saw a large, dull-butterscotch-colored, 4-door, boat-like sedan … plastered with political bumper stickers.  P-L-A-S-T-E-R-E-D!

As my eyes quickly scanned the myriad of opinions shared via the bumper stickers, everything in me wanted to turn and run!  I decided to give him a chance.  First impressions can be so misleading (by the way … they can also be right!).

Mistake #3 … giving him a chance.

As we drove to the restaurant, talk radio twittering away in the background, he regaled me with all the reasons music radio was bad-bad-bad, along with all the brain-related benefits of talk radio.  A topic that bored my early twenty-something self to tears. 

I began creating escape plans in my head. He continued to chatter about talk radio, as I attempted to figure out the logistics of opening the car door and performing some spectacular maneuver that would effectively and safely fling me from the car, allowing me to land safely on the freeway and quickly escape from being run over by the hundreds of other 60-mile-per-hour-moving cars on the road.  After all, I reasoned, I’d landed safely after parachuting out of a plane. How hard could it be to apply the emergency-landing drop and roll movement I’d been taught to an escape from a moving car?!

I stayed in the car. 

We arrived at Red Robin, ordered, and attempted to make conversation.  As the food on our plates dwindled, he decided it would be a good idea to order dessert.  Red Robin had one of my favorite desserts - apple crisp - so, I folded and ordered along with him. 

That was when he looked at me, then my plate, then up at me again, and asked, “Aren’t you going to make your plate happy?”

“Hmmmm?” I questioned, not certain I’d heard him correctly.

“If you want dessert, you need to eat all the food on your plate.  You need to make your plate a Happy Plate,” he matter-of-factly explained. 

“You know … I’m getting a little bit full.  I think I’ll take the rest to-go,” I replied carefully, not wanted to ruffle any last vestiges of his sanity.  After all … I still needed to get home safely.

Mistake # …. well, I’ve lost count … anyway, that would be letting him drive me to the date location.

Dessert arrived, thank goodness, and I dove into my haven of apple crisp.  But, once again, I quickly got full and had to stop eating before finishing.  I hoped and prayed that he wouldn’t notice my very unhappy plate.  Actually, it was a bowl.  With deep sides.  So, I thought there might be a chance that he wouldn’t see the remnants of apple crisp still sitting inside. 

Of course, he did.  But, this time, he went a step further.  After confirming that I was not, in fact, going to be personally making my bowl happy, he took the bowl, spooned what he could of the remaining crisp, and then LICKED the bowl clean. 

At that point, I remember my shoulders slumping a bit, as I looked around to see if anyone I knew was in the restaurant and watching this whole pitiful story play itself out.  Then I turned to my date, and watched him blissfully finish licking the bowl. “There,” he proudly stated, “now it’s happy!”

Unlike me … who was quite the opposite of happy, and just wanted to get home.

But, no.  As luck would have it, a Halloween store had opened up in the same complex as Red Robin.  Not a nice home d├ęcor-type Halloween store, with stylish pumpkins and cute decorative ghosts.  But, the freaky Halloween store, with gory masks and fake blood and cackling voices and grotesque creatures hanging from the walls and ceiling … and that stale, funky smell of I-don’t-know-what.

He was ecstatic over the discovery of this store.  Me … not so much.  Surprise, surprise.  But, being a nice person and a tad concerned about his mental state, I went along with it … walking with him through the store and feigning amusement and delight over the Goth and gore.

Thankfully, the evening ended with me safely arriving back home, sharing a kind thank-you and goodbye, then quickly high-tailing it to my apartment where I promptly locked the door and ran to the window, peeking through the blinds to ensure his car had driven away.

My worst date ever.  But, definitely a memorable and humorous one.

So, thank you, Happy Plate Guy – wherever you are … and, please, stay where you are – for giving me such an unusual, unique, implausible, and – in hindsight – amusing experience. Seriously, though ... stay.where.you.are. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Come Back, White Witch ...

I'm pretty sure this lovely (and very scary) lady in white might be responsible for the full week of wintery whiteness we just had in our town.

 

 
We were encased in fog and sub-30 temps for days, with the trees completely coated in white frost. Gorgeous! A little winter wonderland.

 
Head a few miles down the hill, and we'd discover blue, sunny skies and temps that were a few degrees warmer.

 
It just so happened that - in the midst of all this wintery whiteness - we saw the Oregon Children's Theatre's production of 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe'. It was like our little city was Narnia ... minus the Turkish Delights.


The actress playing the White Witch did her job well ... scaring the bejeezus out of our poor daughter. I felt so bad. She was a year+ about the recommended minimum age, but I had to peel her off my arm at the end. She's used to Playhouse Disney and OPB ... not Narnia! :-) It was only because the friendly actress suggested the above picture that K got anywhere close to her!

Today, it's gray and rainy outside ... and I want our winter wonderland back! :-) Oh, White Witch ... where are you?! You can bring the whiteness back ... but maybe leave your evil scariness at the castle. :-)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Basic Kindness ...


I had to share this video, after seeing it on the Carrots 'n' Cake blog. Adorable and so very sweet ... it immediately warmed my heart. But, it also made me think about the basic kindness being demonstrated in this video ... by a dog!

Using no words (obviously!), just actions, the older dog communicates to the puppy how to go down the stairs, showing her that it is safe and patiently giving encouraging nudges until the puppy finally does it on her own.

Not one word uttered. Just kind actions.

What a wonderful reminder that we can do the same, so easily, every day. We don't have to say a word. Just be kind.

Have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I Heard the Bells ...

Five years ago, my husband and I attended an amazing Christmas concert with Steven Curtis Chapman and Mercy Me. During the concert, as a deep base beat and the melody to "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" played ever-so-softly in the background, they shared with the audience a glimpse of the events that had inspired the lyrics to this song, written by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow so very long ago on Christmas Day in 1864.

I was completely unaware of the origin of the song before that night.
 
After the concert, I investigated further, seeking more detail to the story. I learned that, in a very short time span, Longfellow had lost his wife to a tragic accident in their home, and his son had returned - critically injured - from the American Civil War that was devastating his beloved country.
I can only imagine that his faith was being tested beyond measure and his hope for peace - in his country and his own life - was weak.
 
Something changed on Christmas Day 1864 when Longfellow penned the poem, originally titled "Christmas Bells". Maybe it was the re-election of Abraham Lincoln and, with that, the possible end of the terrible war; maybe it was the relief that came from his son surviving; or maybe it was the churches that - during the war - would ring their bells on Christmas as a call for ceasefire, bringing peace to the nation, if only for a day.
 
Knowing the history behind the words has made this song become even more beautiful, sorrowful, haunting, and hopeful.
 
In many ways, it is a call for peace. Something we all hope for.
 
So, as the holiday season kicks off, I've been listening repeatedly to this very song .... take a listen to the Casting Crowns version, from their 'Peace on Earth' CD at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7670CXvPX0&feature=related.
 
Wishing you peace this holiday season!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Way Too Long ...

Oh my goodness, it has been way too long since my last post. Trees were bare of leaves when I last posted in February .... oh, wait ... they're bare again! Well ... not ours. Here's the view from my office window (sorry for the 'through the screen' photo). See our tree to the left ... completely green! Across the street, you see one neighbor with a tree completely void of leaves, and the other with gorgeous red fall color! Ours will start turning yellow soon ... and we'll be done raking leaves sometime near Christmas! :-) Happens every year ... we have a tree with a schedule all its own!


Life has definitely happened this year ... some things expected, and some very unexpected. Ups and downs. Our always-healthy son having hernia surgery; my mother's passing after a long, brave battle with breast cancer; me completing the Komen 3 Day/60 Mile event, in memory of my mom, with a meniscus torn just two weeks before the event; knee surgery and recovery after the event was over; closing a business ...

Every so often, when I look back over the year, I've let myself think, 'I'm ready for 2012 to be over ...'. But, just as quickly, I reverse that thought when I simultaneously recall all the wonderful things that have happened ... and remember that this has also been a very special year. One that has filled me with gratitude for how wonderful our friends are and what a sweet and loving little family I've been given. Supportive ... caring ... helpful ... generous ... thoughtful ... these words don't even begin to describe what I've learned about the people I've been blessed to have around me.

So, I will savor the last six weeks of 2012, and look forward to a wonderful 2013 ... which hopefully will include a published picture book and MUCH more regular blog posts! :-)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

In the Words of a 9-Year Old Boy ...


Sure, it's more complicated than this. But, when I ran across this gem the other day while re-reading and recycling Christmas cards and school projects, I couldn't help but think what a peaceful, fun-loving world it might be if children were in charge! :-)