Tuesday, December 20, 2016

overlooking the cracks

Dysfunctional family movies were always my favorites during the holidays once I became an adult. They were the ones I could relate the most, especially after my parents divorced. 

Every family has faults. It's part of what makes us all human. You might joke that they are the black sheep of the family. Loose nut. Bad apple. Rotten egg. Eccentric. 

Unique.  
Unfortunately, some of the faults become fault lines. Lines in the sand. Fences. Walls. Estranged. Call them what you will, they all mean the same thing.

Distance.

Holidays are harder when you know something is broken in a relationship with someone. Right or wrong, it will either make us long for the relationship that was, or the relationship that it could have been.
Sometimes those relationships have become so fractured that there isn't any going back, there won't be any clean slates or do-overs. For whatever reason the relationship broke in the first place, that isn't always a bad thing.
But one of the reasons that we, as Christians, celebrate the birth of Jesus is because we did get a do-over. We did get a clean slate. We were forgiven, and that is a powerful thing to realize. Especially on our darkest days.

The forgiveness that we were given was for us. The forgiveness that we can give others is because we were forgiven. It may not make a difference in your relationship with them. But it will make a difference in your relationship with Him.

it's the little things...

The holidays can sometimes implode on us as we rush to make them perfect memories for everyone at the dinner table or around the tree. Because we are so focused on the big things, it is so easy to overlook all the little things that can make them the memories we hold closest to our heart.
The reverse is also true. When we let one little mistake like a burnt pie, forgotten gift, or lost directions become blown out of proportion, it is the larger meltdown that remains in memories the longest.
The memories that continue to make us smile years after the holiday has passed won't be the perfect ham or pie. They won't be the perfect gift wrap or the ornaments and lights that matched your decor. They won't remember the cost, or name brand, or upscale store you shopped at.
The memories will be of the love that was felt, the laughter shared, and often the simplest, handmade, or thought out gifts that show how well you know them. It will be the second-hand book that you remembered they loved reading when they were younger but hadn't read in ages. The candy their great-grandmother made with a recipe passed down from mother to daughter for generations.
Make these holidays worth remembering.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

things i learned in ...

i have been slacking on my posts, and have not shared my lessons learned since August. that isn't to say that i haven't learned anything. quite the contrary.
September ... mostly sucked
yeah. that was harsh. but so was September. my husband was in Florida most of the month spending time with family and seeing his father whose health is not good. the other part of the month i came face-to-face with some of the devil's minions. it was a month of the self-inflicted reopening of old wounds.
there were some uncomfortable lessons in all that. i thought i had a grip on trust and faith. i learned that i didn't. i thought i had forgiven some things and let them go. i learned that i hadn't. i thought that i had control over my emotions, especially my anger and resentment. i learned that i had no control over anything and that the only way i would ever be happy would be to let go and let God be in control. i had to go back to square one for some of the things that i thought i had dealt with and hold myself to some humble accountability.
~ * ~
October ... a month of miracles
the miracle of life. simply amazing. unbelievable. and beautiful. the lesson? gently rubbing mama cat's belly while she is having contractions can be very relaxing and stress-relieving for her. but you better get your hands, arms, and face away from her when she actually starts to pop one of those babies out. i helped my pug have puppies back in the early 90's and it was at the opposite end of the danger scale from a mama cat having kittens. i was misled into believing that all animal pregnancies would be so laid back and chill. if ever a next time? renting a hockey goalie's uniform!
it was also a month of some really big, God-sized miracles. from the moment we set foot in Ashland, God was opening doors, making way, and moving some of what felt like mountains in our path. this is without a doubt where we are meant to be. i was talking yesterday about the journey we've been on to get here, and how sometimes we have to wonder why things are so hard.
this is what i have learned: most of the time things are hard because we are reluctant to really let go and trust that God knows best. we want to run from where He leads us because we think we know ourselves better. to that, i can only say, really? do you know the number of hairs on your head? He does. we sometimes try to take the easy way, and all it ever does is just take us longer to get where we were meant to be. part of the journey, especially when we are trusting the path that He has chosen for us, is to make us ready for what we will need to do when we get there.
consider this... (and forgive me if it seriously dates me) if you were down one run in the first game of the World Series, bottom of the ninth inning, two outs, and the tying run on 1st base, who are you gonna send up to bat? me? or Kirk Gibson? (and just to be totally transparent in your decision making, i flunked p.e. in jr. high. more than once.)
God already knows the outcome of the game. He already knows who wins. but he is still going to want to put the player with the most experience and with a better chance of hitting a home run. even if that player already has two injured legs. Kirk didn't become the better player because he took the easy way. he became the better player because he had faith when times were hard.
~ * ~
November ... had some prickly times
November started with lots of exciting news, including a job offer for a bright, shiny, dream job. that i turned down later in the month. sometimes bright and shiny is just a distraction from what you are really supposed to be doing.
it was our six year anniversary. and it was a month where i stepped away from a job ghostwriting for someone else because i wanted to write under my own name. it was also a month of spiritual attacks and amazing blessings.
what did i learn? i learned that integrity is more important than money. i learned that dreams can come true any time and anywhere. and i learned that sometimes what may feel like a sacrifice for what someone else wants, can be a blessing in disguise.

Monday, November 28, 2016

one who dreams, or one who creates

events these past two months have left me a little amazed. i can understand political passion. i understand religious passion. something i am having difficulty grasping, however, is the extreme passions associated with our recent elections. i don't understand it.

i watched the majority of all the debates, at least until the presidential debates began to resemble 3rd graders name calling in the cafeteria just before slinging mashed potatoes at each other. the debate i was most impressed with was the vice presidential debate where someone finally spoke with a voice of reason.

i don't entirely blame the presidential candidates for their immature behavior because i know most of it was created and fed by the media. some of the trash they pulled up on Trump was from the 80's and early 90's and i have to wonder ... was everything the naysayers did 20-30-40 years ago completely faultless? are there videos, pictures, or comments they are glad no one has found?

apart from the Kennedys ~ a family groomed for political office from the time they were conceived (and even they had their black sheep and skeleton in the sunken automobile) ~ not many people grow up knowing they were going to be president one day.

the country voted. one side prevailed.

yet this country has been torn apart for reasons i'm not sure i understand. people act as if Trump is the Antichrist, and i look back eight years and remember when some said the same exact thing about Obama. i read about people who are so emotionally distraught about the election results that they can barely function without bursting into tears.

we needed a change, which as i recall, was once Obama's rally cry. i believe that Trump is the change this country needs. someone who doesn't have lobbyists riding on their coattails, or sitting on the wallet in their back pocket. we need someone who can look at the budget without rose colored glasses, or without the (financial) influence of someone else's agenda.

eight years ago, one ethnic group celebrated while another complained. yet four years later, nothing changed. again we have an election with one ethnic group doing most of the complaining, and i have to wonder what the concensus will be four years from now.

a blog i read today included the following quote that in 22 words contained more wisdom and truth than any media report i've read in the past eight years.

"The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community,
but the person who loves those around them will create community."
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer ~

which one are you? 

one who dreams, or one who creates?


Friday, November 25, 2016

in 5: surrender

surrender
a word that makes me feel i'm
giving up
but i'm not
i'm letting go of the things that
hold me back,
or hurt me.
i surrender and let go
to move forward
i surrender control
i surrender hurt
i surrender anger
when i surrender to God
i find peace and love again.

[Join Us Here]

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

forgiving

i've been reading a small devotional. the one year book of hope by nancy guthrie. i won't go into detail about her life and why she wrote, except to say that she suffered two back-to-back tragic losses in her life.

her week 46 is on forgiveness, and she had some powerful words that hit me in several areas of my life. even before readying the week's devotionals, i had already sent an email to my brother in the hope of peace between us.

"You can continue to play the waiting game with the person who has hurt you - waiting for him or her to apologize, to make things righ. If so, you're allowing that person to hold you hostage."

"I realized I needed to stop tending my hurt and begin to get rid of the bitterness in my life if I ever wanted to more forward with God."

"Hurt people hurt people."

"The bitterness takes root inside you, coming out in the form of distrust, insecurity, criticism, guilt, anger, suspicion, and fear."

biblical in nature, with scripture references. but even without scripture or the Bible, the devotional is great for anyone struggling with hope and forgiveness.

Monday, November 14, 2016

because we all just need to get along

politics can make people say and do things 
that they wouldn't say or do to their mother
or at least shouldn't say or do to their mother
 it can divide families and towns even more than college football games can

that freedom to vote as you want
say what you want
worship as you want
is what this country was founded on
but just because you have the freedom to say what you want, 
doesn't mean you should

i am praying that this country realizes that
united we stand
divided we fall
and that sometimes you have to agree to disagree
for the well-being of all

Sunday, November 13, 2016

the secret of the forest

Japan is an island of just 152,411 square miles. Within its borders, it packs a population of 127,288,419 people. That is a cozy 339 people per square mile compared to 84 people per square mile in the United States. You’d better hope they like their neighbors! Yet the Japanese have also set the example for peaceful living. In fact, they have made it an art.

Learning how to relax when you are constantly bumping shoulders with your neighbors is something even New Yorkers would appreciate. So how does a small country with high work expectations and ethics, maintain a happy and low stress population? They bathe.

If a tree falls in the middle of the forest, would anyone miss it? The simple answer to that would be maybe. If it was in the middle of the forest, no one might notice. If it is in the middle of Central Park, someone would eventually notice. As the populations in cities increase, so too does air pollution from transportation, various industries, and the process millions of people breathing, sweating, moving, and simply living. What difference can one tree make?

In a study done by the U.S. Forest Service, it was calculated that in the United States alone, trees save more than 850 lives a year, prevent acute respiratory symptoms 670,000 times, and improve the average air quality enough to put the health value at almost $7 billion each year. Of course, the higher the population numbers in cities, the more value trees can provide in those areas. But trees provide more than just improved air quality. New research has shown a possible link between urban forests and improved mental and physical health.

The grass, trees and flower gardens, in neighborhoods increases relationships between neighbors, gives families a sense of safety, and in public parks it encourages more adult supervision of children. Playing outside has also shown to reduce Attention Deficit Disorder symptoms, and helps children to develop. In cities with parks and other outdoor spaces for recreation and relaxation, there are higher rates of life satisfaction, reduced stress, and reduced negative emotions such as anxiety, depression, and anger.

In a country where people are literally living right on top of each other, the Japanese have always greatly appreciated spending time outside. They realized that spending time in nature, simply sitting among the trees doing nothing, or “forest bathing,” reduced blood pressure, decreased the production of hormones associated with stress, and improved immune systems. So significant were the benefits of forest bathing, that it quickly became a prescribed therapy.

The art of living isn’t just getting through each day, sometimes it is not letting the day get to you.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

a part of history

i was a part of the original test team for this program back in 2000!
what an amazing thing to see it in action!

Friday, October 7, 2016

random thoughts...

i'm thinking of becoming one of those gps voices, but instead of just telling where to turn and recalculating, i'd say things like ...
"oh, and about a half mile ahead is a really beautiful keystone bridge that was build in 1896. you'll want to slow down so you can safely stop to take pictures of it instead of doing a u-turn a mile up the road, or catching a glimpse of it as you speed by and saying that word your mother doesn't like to hear." 
"i just saw thermal imaging of a doe and her fawn a mile up the road. if you slow down now, you will be able to quietly stop right where they are next to the highway and take pictures of them." 
"there are some amazingly beautiful flowers three quarters of a mile ahead so slow down now to stop and take pictures of them so you won't have to do a u-turn and backtrack."
"two miles up the road is a co-op gallery with creations from local artists that you will really want to stop and see because they have some incredible work, and you will really like the fused glass earrings they are selling!"
i can just imagine the savings in gas, and the amount of time i would have because i won't be doing a u-turn and going back to catch a photo opportunity or something else. as smart as they are making computers these days, why couldn't they create a real-time gps that would tell you more than just where to go?

see me here? be glad you aren't seeing all of the picture. when will clothing designers start designing clothes with vertical stripes that are slimming?!?!?!? this sweater is the only one in my possession with horizontal stripes, and after i saw how it made me look in this picture, it is doubtful i will ever wear it again. it is a common sense designing concept. hello!?!?!?! designers ~ PAY ATTENTION!! vertical stripes! they draw the eyes to think vertical. like, thinner?!?! what do we have to do? go on strike and not wear horizontal stripes? i'm ready!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

the hole in my heart ...

i can't believe it has been four months when it still hurts like it was yesterday 
i picture you sitting like this, ears listening for the sound of my voice, and watching for me from one side of the Rainbow Bridge 
oh, how i wish i could see you again, and feel the weight of you leaning into me
your cold nose pushing into my hand to rub the smart bump on the top of your head
to hear your tail thumping on the bed when i reach over and massage your back when you are having a bad dream

i miss you so much 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

things i learned in august ...

how to tell a ripe pear from a not ripe pear

there can be grace and forgiveness in families

sometimes you just have to do what you can do, and let go of the rest of it

people who contemplate killing a cat by a hit in the head with a shovel should experience it for themselves first

unexplored roads are opportunities for new sights to see

a rooster's self-esteem is not to be questioned.

my peace and serenity can be found at the beach. every.single.time.
sometimes, there is nothing more important than dropping everything for a hug

i write better with zombie movies playing in the background

life is precious, no matter how small or how brief. treasure it.

our impact in this life has far reaching ripples of effect that you may never know about. don't miss an opportunity to be kind, to speak love, and to uplift and empower someone ~ even yourself. you are more important than you think in the life of someone.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

morning coffee

i am awake, more than i realize
change has been coming, and i feel as if i am on the edge of it
my toes hanging over, and i bend to see what is next
balancing on the ledge of what is to see what will be
i wave my arms like they were wings and i was about to leap
from the security of the nest and fly,
but i'm only trying to keep my balance

we balance our lives at times
juggling between what we want and what we have
sometimes forced to settle into the now
created by the yesterday
and afraid of the tomorrow

i'm impatient for the morning coffee
the smell of roasted hazelnuts
making my mouth water
i go back and forth to the coffee maker
pouring each little bit in my cup as it brews

i think sometimes that is how i face life
impatient
mouth watering
taking in little bits at a time

at times i want what i had
more than i want what i have
and i'm speaking of strictly material things
as if my life was perfect when i had them
i think of things and wonder where i packed them
not believing i would have sold/given/left "that"

but i did
i did because somewhere along the times
of past changes, they became part of who i was
which was a person i no longer wanted to be

i hid my imperfections, my fears and loneliness
in those things i had, pretending life was perfect
my life was perfect because i had things

today i can say that my life isn't perfect
and that those things never made it perfect
and if given a choice between
perfect and not perfect
i would choose not perfect

because it is in those not perfect moments
of a not perfect life with not perfect things
and not perfect people
i found the truth, i found grace
i found forgiveness, i found love
i found peace




Sunday, August 7, 2016

once upon a time ...

i've been participating
this week in a [writing
challenge] and in the 
process have been 
bouncing between here
and [there] as the topics
varied. i've also been
working through some 
self-discovery devotionals,
one of which told us to
write our wildest goal,
our biggest dream,
and seal it in a bottle
tossed in the sea, to
let fate ~ God~  carry
it where it needed to be
to make it a reality. i messaged a
friend who flies frequently to places
across the sea and asked if she would 
drop my bottle in the Rhine River or another
river or sea in Europe. but not wanting to wait for
me to find a small bottle, or wait for her next trip
i'm writing this story in a bottle and setting it adrift in the
electronic sea. this is my biggest dream, my wildest goal, and my story.
once upon a time, there was a young girl who wanted nothing more than
to have a large house that she could fill with unwanted dogs and cats and
children like herself. children that felt unloved, unwanted, and alone. 
children who could never make friends because they were always the new kid
at school, or because of the braces on their legs, or the thick bifocal glasses they
wore, or the red hair and freckles they had. children who just wanted to belong
somewhere, anywhere, that they didn't stand out or feel different. like the "island 
of lost toys," she wanted to have a house where everyone was welcomed, and everyone
felt loved. so she created a life for herself where all that was possible, and all that she
wanted would come true. she worked hard to learn all that she could to make her wildest goal
come true. she went to school and learned how to listen, and as she grew, she realized that 
she had a very special talent, one that was very rare. she began to understand how it was
that she sometimes knew things about people. not in a psychic-read-your-mind kind of way,
but emotionally she could sense and feel what someone was feeling. it gave her more 
compassion and understanding when she met people. but in time, being an empath began
to take a toll on her. she was overwhelmed with emotions that weren't always her own, and
it exhausted her. she began to feel physical pain because she had forgotten the first rule in
flying was to put your own oxygen mask on first. so she stepped back from her life and 
broke connections with people that were draining her spirit. she moved away to a place
where she knew no one and had no connections. where she could refocus her attention on
her dreams and goals. she had never stopped wanting a large house where she could take in 
unwanted dogs and cats, and other animals. so she wrote her business thesis into her first fiction 
novel. a dream of restoring an abandoned business center and large grocery store into an
indoor dog daycare center, with all of the smaller stores each becoming connected by the dog
theme. each time she passed a large shopping center with a grocery store anchor she envisioned
the "what ifs" of how she would remodel it. each time she passed a large house for sale, she
looked at it with eyes of possibilities. she had hoped her books would do well, perhaps not on 
a bestseller list, but maybe picked up as a lifetime movie of the week. she wanted them to at least
provide an income that would make her life and dreams sustainable. she began to have dreams
of what she knew would become her next book. a book about isolation, and feeling unwanted,
alone and unloved. she knew that book would turn those feelings around for the readers who
might share the same feelings and that in writing her book, she would finally realize that she
had always been wanted, and was never alone or unloved. that there was One who was always
there, who always kept His promises. she knew that if she could write that book, the readers would
also come to realize that they had always been wanted, loved, and never alone.  so she sat down one
night and wrote her deepest desires, her wildest goals, and her biggest dreams and put them in a 
bottle. she carried the bottle to a river of hope and put it in the waters that gave life and love. she
also carried those deepest desires, wildest goals, and biggest dreams deep in her heart, which
she gave to the One who had loved her before time began, and who had given her life and hope.
she set her heart adrift in that river of hope, and in the waters that gave life and love. she set herself free.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

what i learned in july ...

i started doing this list with emily p freeman, who last did it in may, and not since due to travel to italy, summer family and quiet times.  i hope that she starts doing it again because i always like to learn, and especially from someone whose books i have read and learned from.
things i learned in july

  1. no matter the cost, sometimes you just have to splurge on fresh cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries from the grocery store because if you are going to splurge on something, it should be something good for you ... and because the deer like to eat the ones growing in the garden.
  2. taking a different way home doesn't mean that you are lost, it means that you are an adventurer exploring new roads.
  3. when you do not have any cameras in the car, you will see a doe and her still freckled fawn. when you have a camera, you will never see her again.  it is known as the photographer's murphy's law.
  4. if you have three beautiful sunny days, and put laundry out on the line the fourth day, even when there are no clouds in the sky, it will rain. this weather anomaly is also known to happen when you wash your car or have a perfect hair day without an umbrella. (and the sun will come out, tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there'll be sun) (now see if you can get THAT song out of your head!)
  5. there are no jobs that are "beneath" you when you don't have a job and need one. because even when you take an entry level cashier position, and you have an MBA there will be things you can learn ... about yourself and others.
  6. there really are some things that are better left unsaid. when listening to someone talk, focus on their words to really hear what they are saying, not just how they are sounding. before you respond, think how you would feel if someone said the words you are about to say to you. if you wouldn't appreciate it, chances are the person you are listening to wouldn't either.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

words for wednesday ...

The Tortoise Trainer by Osman Hamdi Bey (1842-1910)
he had realized as a young boy how soothing it was to just stop what he was doing in the middle of the day and watch the tortoises. their slow, deliberate movements made him slow down and think about the things that were important. as he got older, and his life more hectic and chaotic, the lesson of the tortoises stayed with him. his students thought that his passion for tortoises was one of his eccentric tendencies, but they, in turn, learned how the observation of them calmed them before exams. tortoises don't do anything rash, they think about their movements and choices because it takes so much effort to move with the weight of their shells. that pause before decisions makes them more likely to make the right decision rather than one based on emotions.
Osman often found himself talking over decisions with the tortoises, as if they could understand what he was saying, or even speak themselves. but he found that when he voiced his thoughts to them, often beginning a conversation with "I was just wondering if you could solve a little argument?"and the pros and cons of any decision he had to make, he would make better choices. he attributed it to the wisdom of the tortoises, but deep inside he knew that just stopping to think allowed him to make wiser choices.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

forced to reconsider ...

Alfred Stevens "Cat"
the box had arrived the week before, but her sorrow was so deep, the fog of grief tiptoeing into her heart like little cat's feet, that she couldn't bring herself to open it. seeing his handwriting on the label brought back the memories of the times they had shared together ... times they would never share again. 
finally, she had walked in the garden that he had planted for her, and when she saw that he had planted her favorite blue pansies in the shape of a heart, she knew it was time.  
he had sent the box his last morning, enclosing a note telling her how much he loved and cherished her, and that he couldn't wait to see again. he told her that the gift enclosed reminded him of her. small but fierce. independent but holding a part of his heart that made him realize how much he needed her.  he had found it in a little shop, and the old Chinese woman who had sold it to him told him that it was the year of the tiger and an auspicious gift for his fiancée who had been born in a tiger year and under the water sign. 
of course, he hadn't believed in any of that, being a Christian missionary, but he knew of her fondness for cats. he told her he would be arriving back in San Francisco in a month's time and that since he would soon need to return to the church he was planting, he asked if she would marry him sooner than they had planned because he never wanted to be that far away from her again.
the telegram had arrived two days after he had sent the box, telling her of the fever that had taken hold of him and robbed her of the life they had planned together.
his body had been buried in China, almost immediately after he had died.  so strong was the fear of the fever, that the ship's captain with whom he had arranged his passage back to her had refused to allow the plain box casket that carried his body on board.
as she held the blue pansy close to her heart, and his last letter to her fell to the floor amidst her tears, she knew that the life she had imagined was still possible and that she would continue his work in China. 


i've been reading"The One Year Book of Hope Devotional" by Nancy Guthrie. it is "daily readings to give you hope when life has let you down." her story is a heartbreaking one of back-to-back deaths of two babies from a rare disorder called Zellweg Syndrome. reading her words, and the strength and faith she has had humbles me, and while my own losses are nothing compared to hers, it does not minimize mine. they are exactly the same, but completely different.
in her book, it was the following passage that made me connect with this picture, and with my own life story ... [see Losing Your Life pg 100-101]
"He has given you the gift of being forced to reconsider the very purpose of your life.  Those who are sailing through a comfortable life at this point have not yet been forced to carefully consider their lives and surrender their dreams.  but because you have been shaken to the core, you see clearly that if you cling to your own plans and desires, you will never discover the freedom and joy found in losing your life for Jesus."

Saturday, July 9, 2016

under construction dreams...

 it has been quite a while, years perhaps, that i've had the house dreams. i may have blogged about them before, i don't remember now. but the dream has come back and i now know what it means, which for as bizarre as it is to dream of moving into old houses that are falling down for repairs and filled with amazing and beautiful antiques... it is actually comforting.

this time the house was in Alaska, on a great deal of land and we were being tasked with caretaking for a large herd of cattle (which is a new development in the dream) and we were also setting up house with friends of ours and their many children and animals (also a new development, tho not an unpleasant consideration).  but enough of that. i'm quite certain that i could finance a small country with the fees to have my dreams dissected and no one would still know what they meant.

but i babble because it has been a day that started before dawn, and an active day of learning and moving so i am tired and slightly brain-fried with all the new information i must absorb by osmosis at some point.

late last night i discovered curious pictures on my cell phone, 62 of them in fact, that i have no recollection of taking.  apart from these three (of 30) that were so overexposed, it was hard to identify what they are of, the others were clear enough to identify my jeans and the inside of my car.  but i don't know why these were so over exposed because the ones before and after them were not, and i clearly was not intentional in taking them.  the first one on the upper right seems to have the appearance of the shadow of a man (or men) in the lower portion of the picture. the one in the middle looks a little as if it could be a hummingbird in flight or the profile of someone's face. and the last one looks almost like a distant shore seen through the fog while out on the water.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

GINA ...

today i was watching some of those mandatory in-processing training videos (Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz) and there was something new that surprised me in a way, but then again not.

years ago when i was teaching human resources classes at a university (2005-2008), i would show the movie "Gattaca" as an example of what kind of changes we can look forward to in the future of human resources.

that day is here.

a new anti-discrimination law was passed called GINA which stands for Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008.  it took effect on 21 November 2009.
my first thought was to wonder when the government was going to start collecting DNA samples for everyone or if they have somehow already begun collecting it in ways that we are unaware of.
then i read this, and i've highlighted sections that made me raise my eyebrows because after reading it, i wondered if they really thought their exceptions to the rule were narrow because it seems that their idea of gathering DNA could be simply based on hearsay and gossip.  the thoughts in red italics are mine, and i'm not normally a conspiracy theorist, but it just seems like the narrow exceptions are really not so narrow.

Rules Against Acquiring Genetic Information
It will usually be unlawful for a covered entity to get genetic information. There are six narrow exceptions to this prohibition:
  • Inadvertent acquisitions of genetic information do not violate GINA, such as in situations where a manager or supervisor overhears someone talking about a family member’s illness. this seems like a broad policy for "inadvertent acquisitions" and it does not seem to restrict who is doing the talking and if they are talking about their own family or someone else's family.
  • Genetic information (such as family medical history) may be obtained as part of health or genetic services, including wellness programs, offered by the employer on a voluntary basis, if certain specific requirements are met.  what are the specific requirements?  most large corporations offer wellness programs, so will they also be collecting DNA if you participate in one?
  • Family medical history may be acquired as part of the certification process for FMLA leave (or leave under similar state or local laws or pursuant to an employer policy), where an employee is asking for leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition.  to my knowledge, family medical history has never been a part of the certification process for the Family Medical Leave Act in the past.  are they going to ask just for the history of the person you would leave to care for, or will they want generations past now?
  • Genetic information may be acquired through commercially and publicly available documents like newspapers, as long as the employer is not searching those sources with the intent of finding genetic information or accessing sources from which they are likely to acquire genetic information (such as websites and on-line discussion groups that focus on issues such as genetic testing of individuals and genetic discrimination).  so... if you join an online support group for say ALS or Parkinsons or parents of autistic children or cancer or whatever ... and the employer overhears someone talking (see first bullet) can he "accidently" find said support group online and then flag an employee's file for genetic issues?  
  • Genetic information may be acquired through a genetic monitoring program that monitors the biological effects of toxic substances in the workplace where the monitoring is required by law or, under carefully defined conditions, where the program is voluntary. anyone working in a manufacturing plant with any kind of chemicals could now be required to submit DNA, which the government could potentially request for their own reasons?
  • Acquisition of genetic information of employees by employers who engage in DNA testing for law enforcement purposes as a forensic lab or for purposes of human remains identification is permitted, but the genetic information may only be used for analysis of DNA markers for quality control to detect sample contamination. under the "umbrella" of possible crime scene contamination, every law enforcement officer will now have to submit DNA.  just because they say it may only be used for quality control, doesn't mean that it won't be entered into a computer program that will be accessible to the government for other purposes.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

things i learned in June ...

i happen to know that emily p freeman whom i joined last month on her blog has been in italy for the past 10 or so days at a writer's retreat (and i am deeply envious) so i'm not sure if there will be a link-up for the end of june, which is actually okay as long as she posts many pictures of italy when she gets back to her blog.

where may was a month of loss and grief, june was a month of disappointments when after 160 job applications since the end of january and 8 interviews (6 of them in june alone), i still was without a job until the very last two days of the month.  it is a part-time job of which i will say that beggars cannot be choosers. it was also a month for three surgeries, one almost surgery, a potentially lethal infection, and receiving good news about now cancer free sisters. there was one other major disappointment and it was in me by an 18-year-old young woman of which i am sorry

june was a month of flowers and green trees.  a month of deer without fear, as if they know hunting season isn't for several months yet. it was a month of bumblebees and honey bees. it was a month of fear fought with faith, a month of on my knees prayer.

if you could tell your 18-year-old self some advice that might change your life, what would you say? knowing full well that if you changed something in your past, you might lose something that is very precious to you now. would that change your advice to yourself? would your 18-year-old self listen to your advice?

 dear 18-year-old you;

I wanted to write you something for your 18th birthday, now that you’re an adult, now that you’re going off to college and making decisions for your life. I wanted to write something that I wish someone had told me when I was 18, something that might have made my life different. It’s pretty hard to try and fit 36 years of experiences into one letter, and equally hard to find just one or two things that I think would make a difference for you.

So this is from me. What you choose to do with it is up to you. 


You don’t understand yet what it is like to want to do something so badly that it rips your heart out when you realize that you won’t be able to do it. You’ve never had to want for anything.

I’m not saying that as a bad thing. I guess that would be one piece of advice that I might be able to give you. Don’t make assumptions about other people’s lives or experiences, especially when you’ve never had to walk in their shoes. Open your heart, and your mind, when it comes to other people. Not everyone has had a life as good as yours.

Yes, dad made mistakes when you were young, he’s not perfect. But no one is, other than Jesus. We all make mistakes. We all have regrets. We all wish we could have made some different decisions in our past. But we are stuck with the lives we have lived. There aren’t do-overs in life. You learn from your mistakes, pick up the pieces and move on. Maybe one day you will understand that, and I hope, sincerely hope, that when you do understand it that it won’t come with as much pain as some life lessons can give.

But here is the thing that sometimes is the hardest to accept about those painful mistakes and lessons … when you look back at them with regret, you have to ask yourself, honestly, if you would change them because for as painful as they are, they usually give you the most priceless things in your life. Mom might consider Dad a mistake in her life, but that mistake gave her you, and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t trade you for anything in the universe. Dad wouldn’t trade you for anything either.


“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” [Romans 8:28 NLT]

God also called us to treat others as we want to be treated. That would be the other piece of advice I think might help make a difference in your life. I know it is probably the hardest also. It is hard to put aside our hurts. I know. I’ve been there. Got a t-shirt. But when we hold onto those hurts, when we treat someone coldly because of how we feel they treated us, the person who gets hurt the most, in the long run, is ourselves.

If you feel Dad puts you last in his life, ask yourself where is he in your life? I don’t think you even put him on your list, and I get that. There have been times in my life when I’ve been so hurt by people that I’ve completely written them out of my life. But you can’t have it both ways. You can’t blame him for not putting you first in his life when you don’t return his phone calls or write to him, or respond to messages. Yeah, I know it sucks to have that thrown back at you, but this is what being an adult is. Taking some of the responsibility for the things that happen to us.

I know dad loves you but just doesn’t know how to connect with you, and that was and always will be the truth. But just because he hasn’t always been able to meet your expectations of what kind of a dad he should be, it doesn’t mean he loves you any less. That is the drawback of loving someone conditionally. It’s one-sided and it will always, always, always hurt and disappoint you.

I don’t expect you to change overnight because of what I’ve said. In truth, I don’t think my words will make any difference. Now. But maybe in 10 years or 20 years, or maybe if you have your own children, you might remember this letter and realize that what I say isn’t meant to hurt you or make you angry, but it is said with love and the hope that you won’t hurt as much as I did when I had to learn to love dad again. Maybe for you, you’ll learn faster than I did, with less resentment, and you won’t miss out on as much of his life as I missed out on with dad. Maybe he wasn’t there for you when you were growing up, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be there for you as a grown woman.

You are an amazing young woman with the entire universe at your fingertips. You are going to change lives. I hope that one of them will be dad’s life.

I don’t expect you to respond to this. I’m just asking that you don’t slam and lock that door in his face. Leave it open, be willing to accept him as he is now, changed, humbled, and regretful of the things he missed out on with you. He’s not a bad man. Don’t shut him out of your life. Even if all you ever do is occasionally send him a card or letter that says hello, just please don’t shut him out. You mean everything to him. You always have, and you always will.


Love, 54-year-old me

Monday, June 27, 2016

eli

if you have read my book "Trooper's Run," you know that the Spirit Wolf was based on a real wolf mix that i really did rescue in a hurricane.  unlike his character in the book, Eli had a long and happy life.

i found out today that Eli passed on the 7th of March this year, 11 years after i rescued and rehomed him.  perhaps he was there to greet Trooper at Rainbow Bridge.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

father's day ...

my father has been gone nine years now.

my uncle, my father's twin brother, stepped in as a surrogate father until he passed five years ago.

my step-father has also been gone for three years.

it is odd now that i realize how much time has passed when i know that for my brother and me, my cousins, and my sisters there are times for all of us that it feels like it was just last week.

my husband is a father to three amazing people, and a step-father to two others, one of whom has already made him a grandfather once with another on the way.

his own father is now getting hospice care ... a call we expect and dread.

as a woman, whose own father was distant emotionally, sometimes even geographically so, i can relate to the emotions that my step-daughter feels for her father.  i've come to believe that the father-daughter relationship can be as difficult at times as the mother-daughter relationships can be.

we are destined for those challenges because they teach us, model for us, and sometimes scar us with the knowledge of who we want to be and who we don't.

my father taught me how to love myself.  he taught me how to love others.  he taught me how to forgive myself.  he taught me how to forgive others.

so it is with gratitude today, that i think of my father, and his father before him, and his before him.  men who set the standard for the type of father i would have.  it is with compassion and forgiveness that i think of my father's mistakes because he was not perfect, but he did not know differently.  it is with love that i think of my father because he loved me the best that he knew how.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

things i learned in May ...

i'm joining today for the first time with [emily p. freeman], author of a book that really had an impact on me  "[a million little ways]"   
May was a hard month for us; a very emotional month with three deaths, a father in hospice, a sister getting surgery for cancer, and the pain that a father felt when he unintentionally disappointed his daughter.

hard times are usually the teachers of hard lessons, lessons you aren't likely to forget anytime soon.  but hard times can also give us priceless memories that we wouldn't trade for anything.  May gave us both.
  • death can take someone we love from the physical world, but it will never take them out of our hearts.  we can cherish the memories we have of them, grieve over missing them, hold tight to the things that remind us of them.  they are still there with us in spirit.  love never dies.  Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.  ~ 1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT
  • even when things seem so dark you doubt there will ever be light again, know this:  there are still stars that shine behind the clouds; the reason we can see the moon in the sky is because it is reflecting the light of the sun; and no matter how much it feels like it is the end of the world ... it's already tomorrow in Australia.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.  ~ John 1:5 NLT
  • there are things in this world that we won't ever understand.  why do things happen?  why her? why him?  why us?  why me?  we can "why" and "what if" our lives away because we are so focused on the questions and not on the answers.  there are things we are not meant to know, and all we can do is keep waking up, keep stepping forward, keep moving, keep trusting, and keep believing.  What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead.  ~ Hebrews 11:1 TLB
  • family is a loose term that can include friends, ex's, fosters, and steps in addition to those related by blood.  regardless of how you define your own family unit, the one thing that will always be true is that no matter what the relationship is between you, respect, forgiveness, and love will be what holds you together when times are difficult.  when there is no respect and no forgiveness the family unit will collapse.  A family cannot last if it is divided against itself.  ~ Mark 3:25 NLV
  • that being said ... family ties, blood, marriage, or otherwise, does not give someone the right to demean, insult, or disrespect you.  one of the hardest things about self-esteem and self-care is remembering that it is not selfish or unreasonable to expect respect from those who call themselves family.  there may be times when you have to cut ties and move on without someone in your life because their presence is negative, toxic and unhealthy.  “Proud,” “Self-important” and “One who laughs at the truth” are the names of the man who acts without respect and is proud.  ~ Proverbs 21:24 NLV
  • this was the month i learned about rhubarb.  this picture is of the patch of rhubarb in the yard of our rental house.  this month i've learned how to 'harvest' and freeze rhubarb.  i got (and taste tested) a recipe for rhubarb crumble [see here] and will be pinning more to try.  the flower/seed pod coming up i will probably let come up and flower instead of cutting it back.  there are several bunches of rhubarb growing in the yard and wild across the street that i will harvest from, but i'd really like to see the flower.
  • i also learned that i have value, much more than what others think. and that it is okay for me to stick to what i believe.  it is okay to agree to disagree, and i don't have to accept less than my worth for work i believe in.

Friday, May 27, 2016

at what cost love?

last December a friend contacted us about taking in her cat
she needed to "downsize" her number of animals because
she didn't have time for them
too much drama in her life

Aragorn has a laid back personality
immediately walking into the house, brushing up against Trooper
and claiming us as his own

two months later,
his previous owner asked if she could buy him back
$50 was the price she named for his love
her life was just as hectic as before
even more
but she claimed she missed him

we told her we weren't interested in selling him
he had bonded by then, with us and with Trooper
and his funny little habits made our lives richer
far richer than money could buy
five months later he grieved for Trooper just as we did

there are changes coming for us soon
(cue willie nelson and on the road again)
we weren't sure if we would be able to move with Aragorn
and we reached out to his previous owner,
wanting to do what was best for him, we asked
was she still interested in getting him back?

we made arrangements to meet and return him
(cue whitney houston and i will always love you)
and she rescheduled because of family drama
she assured us she would be at the second set meeting
and so we arrived this afternoon,
with a highly stressed and scared cat in the car
(cue tears and gut wrenching commercials on television for animal shelters)

she wasn't there.  she wasn't even in town.

David and i discussed again moving with Aragorn
he had gotten used to being an only "child"
being lavished with time and attention
since Trooper passed,
our bond had grown even stronger

when his former owner contacted us to reschedule again
we told her that we had reconsidered and decided that
he would stay with us and we would make a move,
including him, work because we felt it was the best for him

she offered $50 again
i told her that there wasn't a price you could put on love
and she replied with the promise of "lots more money"

when i read those words
the thought of Judas Iscariot came to mind
and the 30 pieces of silver that bought his love

i told her no, that i couldn't put a price on love
she replied that if i wasn't willing to sell him back to her
for $400 then i could 'just forget it" and i could keep him
which i agreed would be the best for Aragorn

there isn't a price you can put on unconditional love
especially the unconditional love we get from our companion animals
could we have used that much money?
of course.  who couldn't?
but i never would have forgiven myself if i had sold him out
for 30 pieces of silver

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

tsunami ...

he has been gone a week now
i'm still not used to the emptiness in the house
or the space on the bed
it hits me at times, unexpected, like an earthquake
followed by wave after wave of grief and tears

he had been easily startled this past year
as his vision became clouded with cataracts
sometimes when he was drinking water from his bowl
a splash would surprise him and he would jump away

loud noises, thunder, fireworks
he would shake and lean into us
tonight while washing dishes,
i dropped a handful of silverware into the sink
i turned to tell him it was alright, it was just me making noise
instead, i had to bite my tongue to keep my sobs from escaping

i wasn't ready to lose Trooper
i wasn't ready to lose Oreo
i wasn't ready to let them go

few of us ever are i suppose
few of us ever are

Saturday, May 7, 2016

he was the best

my dog died three nights ago on 4 May 2016.  it was totally unexpected and it totally broke my heart.  it was the day before my birthday.

he had been acting ... different ... for several weeks.  but not the kind of different that you would take him to the vet for

he was eating, drinking, peeing, pooping, breathing, running, and walking without any indication that he was sick.  the morning he died, you would never have thought that it was going to be his last.

over the last several weeks, he wanted to be closer to us.  he wanted to snuggle, cuddle, and sleep between us on the bed so we made a sandwich, with him as the spread holding us together.

when he sat at the far end of the sofa with my husband, some nights he would get up and walk towards where i was sitting at the computer, so he would be standing behind my husband's back and he would just look at me.

he would look at me so intently, that i realize now he was just coming closer to look in my eyes and say ... "hey, i love you.  i really love you."

i knew something was going on with him, but you don't walk into a vet's office with your dog and say, "he's loving me too much, i think there is something wrong with him."  they would have laughed me off the planet.

i believe he knew his time was short, and i think he was preparing us by comforting us in advance, and giving us happy memories with him.

the day he died, we had gone to Ashland, Wisconsin to look at job opportunities, came home and went fishing for an hour.  in all, we were gone for about six hours.

when i took him out for a walk once we were home, he acted as if it hurt to walk so i took him off leash to let him go at his pace.  he peed and pooped (3x!), and seemed to feel better.  he wanted to walk across the street with me.  then he stopped, sat and laid down in the middle of the street.  i could barely get him to stand, and when i did, he was reluctant to walk.

we finally got him back to the house, and since i still thought that it was pain related to his legs and walking, i went to the store to get him some baby aspirin for the pain.  he was 12 years old, and while i kept him at a healthy and lean weight so he wouldn't have joint issues, i think there was still some arthritis because of his age.  in people years he would have been 78.

while i was gone, no more than 30 minutes, my husband said that he slumped down and five times he had stopped breathing and fallen over on his side.  he was able to call him back by rubbing his feet and talking to him.  trooper was gone within 15 minutes after i got home.  i think he was waiting for me.  considering how he died, and how quickly, i believe he had a stroke.
 
last Saturday night (30 April 2016) he curled up on the bed between us and put his head forehead into my chest.  for two hours until i fell asleep, i whispered into his ear and told him how much he was loved, how smart, brave, and handsome he was.  i told him that i didn't know what was going on with him, but that if it was something wrong, we would do whatever we could to get it fixed, and if it couldn't be fixed, we were going to focus on quality, not quantity.  i told him i never wanted to have to make the decision to put him down and would really prefer he went in his sleep, but that i would never let him suffer.  he knew he was loved.

so do we.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

mountains out of molehills ...

did you see the bruh-ha-ha about the gap kids ad this past week?  four cute girls (two of them more flexible than i will ever be!) advertising a new line of clothing.

four young girls that blew up the internet and probably don't even understand why.

a beautiful girl wearing a t-shirt that said "Love," and all it caused was a backlash of hate, anger, and resentment.

as if the position of a girl's arm dictates the status in society of another.

some people just have too much negativity on their minds, and make mountains out of molehills. 

if they spent as much time thinking of ways to end hunger, homelessness, or poverty as they think of ways to spread hate and negativity, this world would be a much better place. 

the majority people looked at that ad (myself included) and probably thought "cute kids in cute clothes" and nothing more. 

but there were a few who looked at it and thought it was racist ... 

why do we let the insecure, paranoid, and negative minority in this country dictate how we see the world?

i was born into a segregated world, but i never grew up thinking there was a difference between me and another.  i never grew up thinking i was better than someone else because of the color of my skin, nor did i think i was less than someone for that same reason.  

some of my best friends had a darker shade of skin than i did.  some of the world's greatest philosophers, artists, musicians, inventors, doctors, and religious leaders have had varying shades of skin.  did the color of their skin make their contribution to civilization any less? 

i think not.

just sayin'

Sunday, March 27, 2016

#bluebottlecoffee

** disclaimer:  i blogged [here] about my addiction to mail which is currently being fed (pun intended) by free samples.  
this is an honest, uncompensated (other than two free samples) post about [Blue Bottle Coffee] **

first let me clarify where i live so you will comprehend the need for a mail order coffee subscription.  well, my need for it.  i am in the upper peninsula of michigan.  sometimes considered no man's land.  or where hell froze over.  the closest starbucks is almost 100 miles away.  in another state.  there is a dairy queen, mcdonalds, and burger king within 8 miles of me.  but you can just take so much of mass commercialism before you long for something else.  before i lived where i am right now, this dairy queen was an hour away.

not that i was a huge starbucks fan either.  the rare time that i would cruise thru the drive thru (using a free-to-me gift card) i would order a tall blonde ~ which never failed to embarrass my husband and make me laugh hysterically.  but then i have been known to have a slightly warped sense of humor.  but i digress.

when i got my first sample from [Blue Bottle Coffee,] it did not end well.  but that was no fault of the company's.  i just don't do peach.  the color, maybe. (and to be clear, the kitchen walls of my rented home were this color when we moved in and the first thing i asked was if we could repaint.  they said no.)  but peach the flavor?  not.  you may feel differently about peach.  if so, then i suggest you try their Beta Blend coffee.

and actually, i can honestly say that you should try all their coffees.

the replacement sample that was sent by Mandi ~ their incredibly helpful, gracious, and generous customer service goddess who reached out to me before i even received the first sample ~ was their Guatemala Alta Verapaz Santa Isabel blend.  (which is a serious mouthful to say, let alone type, so it will be now known as GAVSI) 

the card included with my sample states this about the coffee:  "details:  Ever since he was a boy, farmer Luis "Wicho" Valdés has been growing coffee in a high-elevation rainforest.  His farm, Santa Isabel, was granted to the Valdés  family by the Guatemalan president in 1875.  Now, Wicho and his father oversee the estate together.  Located in lush Alta Verapaz, nine months of steady rain extend harvesting well into May.  The Valdés  family has perfected pruning techniques and drying methods to combat pervasive humidity, all while reforesting more than half of their estate's land.  digression:  If a cup of coffee can reflect the character of a farm, surely this one does.  With resilient rosemary, sassy cranberry, and ephemeral jasmine, you can almost see the Caturra trees thriving at such great heights in spite of the never-ending patter of rain."

so ... see that empty pot in the picture?  that was the first pot of coffee, of which my husband drank all but one mug.  i'm now drinking of my second pot (and yes, i know, it is late at night here, but i think the sun is up somewhere, and ever since that bat bit me i've been keeping odd hours.  just kidding.  about the bat.  and one day i will explain the cyclops on my coffee mug ~ it is kind of a funny story about air force squadron call signs.  but that is another blog post)  now, i must clarify something,   [Blue Bottle Coffee] ships beans, so if you don't have a grinder, go.now.  get.one.  now.  really.  and then sign up for their subscription program.  really.  it is that good.  i will be as soon as i can.

once upon a time, i was on a gevalia coffee subscription program, and it was all well and good except that it was difficult to get customer service to make changes to my subscriptions, and since i was single at the time, and could only drink so much coffee, pretty soon i had so many bags of beans i was giving it away.  which kind of got to be a pretty expensive gift.

[Blue Bottle Coffee] is something different.  better.   try it.  and be sure to tell Mandi i said hi.

Monday, March 21, 2016

monday ...

David and i spent most of the weekend sleeping and sick with migraines and allergies, making it fairly certain that even if snow is still on the ground here in the upper peninsula and in our forecast ... spring is here somewhere.  i slept about 20 hours on saturday, and David napped off and on for about 10 on sunday.
Doctors Ara Gorn and Troo Per

i did see some buds on the lilac tree yesterday when i tucked a wad of my hair in the branches for the birds to add to their nests.  i'm not losing my hair as much as pulling it out when i brush it, and so have changed from a brush to a comb.  but i still gather my hair for bird nests.  if Trooper or Aragorn were long haired (and i'm grateful they're not) i would be gathering their hair as well.

i've been doing a lot of reading lately ... previewing books, and thinking of signing up for Holley Gerth's "You Are Already Amazing" book club [here] ... i've also been working on a book proposal to submit to a publishing company, and looking into some writing opportunities that pay. 

i believe there are changes coming.  good ones.