Tuesday, December 20, 2016

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.

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]

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.

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 fiancĂ©e 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.

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.

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, 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'