Saturday, December 29, 2007

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CHRISTMAS SEASON...How Blessed We Are!


I have absolutely LOVED this Christmas season! There have been so many wonderful moments, and I have savored each one. They all go into my memory bank. Here are a few of the highlights of this blessed time in somewhat chronological order:

1) Going to the Nutcracker ballet with Jessi and Emma. We went out to lunch first and then the ballet! It was magical! Watching Emma watch the dancers and seeing her dance in the lobby after the ballet warmed my heart!

2) Going to Anna's Christmas concert and hearing her sing! What beautiful and angelic voices! This set the tone for me for the Christmas season!

3) Going to Seattle and seeing Grandma Elaine in person after her stroke
and singing songs to her including Jesus Loves Me! Making that trip with Amy and Jenna helped me to remember that the Christmas season is about giving and it is about loving family!

4) Having time in Seattle at the hospital to connect with Steve and Joanna and really share our faith! Getting to have quality time with them was a real blessing!

5) Talking to Bazz (Tim's sister) on the phone when she was at the hospital with Mom. I love her so much...always have and always will!

4) Finding special Christmas "buckets" at Safeway and loading them with special presents for my family and delivering them to neighbors! Finding "just the right gift" for people delights me, and then stuffing the buckets with tissue paper and those Christmas goodies is so much FUN! We have a blazing fire in the fireplace, drink hot cider, and listen to Christmas music during this process!

5) Drawing my own Christmas card and personalizing each one with glitter! Having the time to be creative and do art is a gift to my heart!

6) Reading Christmas cards and letters from friends and family and re-connecting with them!
I know some people want to give up the tradition of sending Christmas cards, but it's a ritual that has great meaning for our family!

7) Meeting my goal (plus one) of losing thirty pounds by Christmas! WOW! This was a huge gift to myself and those I love! I came into this Christmas "lighter" in spirit and pounds!

8) Having dinner at Clinkerdaggers with my special friend Sharon Hartnett! (I go every year on a spiritual retreat to Cannon Beach with Sharon) Clinkerdaggers is dressed up for Christmas like no other restaurant I know! Sharon and I split a dinner and had a great time sharing and catching up!

9) Doing special wrappings and decorations on Christmas presents! This year I went wild with glitter, ornaments, bows, and glittery pine cones! My grandpa (My Dad's Dad) once told me that the present really starts with wrapping it in a way that someone gets a visual gift even before they open it! I even made glittery snowflakes on bags at 2am Christmas morning! How fun!

10) Sewing a special Christmas stocking for precious baby Jenna...see picture above! :)
This is a tradition started by my Mom, Nana Dee!

11) Going to the most meaningful Christmas service at our church and really pondering and celebrating what the birth of Jesus really means today! The gospel music rocked my soul and the contemporary Christmas play was amazing!

12) Christmas morning with Jessi, Rog and Emma and seeing Emma's face totally light up with her presents! Finding special ballet goodies for Emma made my day! Boppa also gave Emma some special rocks for her rock collection. These rocks had been collected by Boppa's Daddy! Emma looked at each one and shared about the rocks in her collection! What a special time!

13) Celebrating Christmas with Amy, Ryan, Jacob, Jenna, Zac, and Kayla at the Coeur d'Alene
Resort where we went swimming, hot tubbing, took saunas and some of us had massages! What a treat! We all loved the chance to be together and how fun to not do the cooking or clean up! We all had a mini-vacation! Bert and I had an extra day there so we had some fun couples time too!

14) Having relaxed time to spend with my sweet hubby where we could watch movies, talk, and take walks in the snow! Bert and I LOVE to spend time together. Seeing movies and discussing them is so much fun for us! We still, after all these years, love "date nights"!

15) Seeing the amazing movie Grampa Tim made about Jenna! What a treasure! I've already watched the DVD three times, and I cry each time! What a HUGE amount of love and work went into this gift!

16) Receiving special presents like the family calendar, a "Nana's Brag Book", family photos, and amazing digital photos in a frame that changed and moved! These thoughtful gifts really touched my heart!

17) Knowing in my heart of hearts...that nothing compares to loving Jesus...and that He is the reason for the season! While all of the fun and activities were a blast...even more important to me is keeping my eye on the gift of Jesus during Christmas time!

My prayer is that this has been a time of fun, joy, celebration and gratitude for you as well! Thank you for the gift you are in my life!
God Bless! Love and hugs to all who read this! Love Linda

Thursday, December 27, 2007

MEETING THE CHRISTMAS GOAL....Thirty One Pounds Bite The Dust!

Gifts comes in all shapes and sizes! This gift was a gift to myself and a gift to those I love!

I set a Weight Watcher goal of losing thirty pounds by Christmas...and I actually lost thirty one pounds!

The journey of a healthy lifestyle continues...weight loss, exercise, and drinking lots of water! New goals will be set for 2008! I am excited to see the new results!

But for the moment...I am thrilled to keep this promise to myself!

A HUGE thanks to those who have supported me... especially Bert, Amy, Jessi, Kayla, Jacob, Kim and Tiffany, the members of my weight watcher group, and the students in my 8:30 Interpersonal Communication class!

God Bless! Love and Hugs to all who read this!
Love Linda

Sunday, December 23, 2007

We Wish You A Merry Christmas!


At this blessed Christmas time...Bert and I want to send you our love and Best Wishes for a wonderful Christmas and a New Year filled with love, joy, fun, challenges, faith and hope!

Here's our family's Christmas card! Some of you will get this in person...for others we send it to you with love!

God Bless and love to all who read this! Linda and Bert

PASS THE CHEER!...and then in a twinkling I heard in the driveway! :)

'Tis the season to do wonderful things for others and surprise them with your anonomous generosity!

At 6:10 am this morning, after my walk in the snow, I went out to get the Sunday paper.
There was a man with a hand-held snow shovel shoveling our driveway.

At first I didn't recognize him so I said "Good Morning!"
He looked up with a huge grin...and guess who it was....???

Our Pastor, Pastor Lonnie Mitchell :) :)

Our busy, busy Pastor, on a church morning, was shoveling our driveway, by hand.
Our driveway...I still can't get over it!

What an act of kindness! He reminds me of how Jesus would act and how Jesus would give.

I am so, so touched by his kindness! We'll see him in church in just a few hours, but until then I can't wait until Bert wakes up to tell him who our secret snow shoveler was!!!
Tee Hee!

God Bless! Hugs and loves to all who read this! Love Linda

Saturday, December 22, 2007

OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES..."Nana, are you on the naughty or nice list?"


Children say the darndest things. And often what they say is so pure, so straight-forward, so honest, so to the point of it all... that it knocks my socks off.

Christmas brings up lots of discussions with grandchildren at our house. Jacob came over for a playdate and to spend the night. He was shocked to see our dining room table brimming with Christmas cards, personalized ornaments, and glitter. At first he closed his eyes and wanted to be sure if it was OK if he looked. I assured him it was. He then found a corner of the table to do an art project on. And that's when the conversation began.

"Nana", he said. "Yes honey" I said.

"Do you think you'll be on the naughty or nice list?"

We had been singing the Christmas song about :

"You better watch out, you better not cry. You better not pout, I'm telling you why" ...
"He's making a list and checking it twice. He's going to find out who's naughty or nice."

I told him, although suddenly not quite sure about it really, that I hoped I would be on the nice list.

He said he hoped he would be too, but he had really been thinking about it alot lately.

[Side note here...being a Nana and really hearing what my Grandchildren think, feel and believe is a sacred honor to me! These are golden moments, memory makers for me. I adore seeing who my sweet grandbabies REALLY are.]

Jacob then proceeded to tell me that he was really working on being nicer to everyone, even the "mean people".

I asked him what the "mean people" do and he said, "They hurt others because they are really sad inside because they don't have love in their hearts. Maybe if we are nice to them they'll be happier."

OK...I was speechless.

The end of a year is always an opportunity for self-reflection. It's an opportunity to set up new goals for 2008. Jacob's talk with me really opened my heart and started me thinking. How nice have I been to some of the "mean people" in my life? Oh, not that they set out to be mean. Maybe, they are just cross, or grumpy, or distant, or don't call any more. Maybe they are too hurt to do any of those things so I need to swallow my pride and call them...again? Maybe their tanks aren't full or they need more love? Maybe, just maybe, I am on someone's "mean people" list??

I want to step out of my comfort zone, even with the folks who may not respond positively.
How I am, and how I want to be, has nothing to do with how they behave.

Jesus is my role model for that. He was nice and kind even when people were really mean.

So thanks, Jacob, for the Christmas gift...a perfect reminder. Am I on the nice list or naughty list?

It's up to me!

God Bless! Love and hugs to all who read this! Linda

Friday, December 21, 2007

ANOTHER POUND BITES THE DUST...For A Total of 28!

The Christmas season is full of temptations, but I am keeping track of my points and saving the temptations for something special...when I have EARNED them!

This past week has been full of arts and crafting, so much of my attention has been diverted from food! My goal is to keep losing a pound a week during the holiday season! I'm also eating lots of vegetables and drinking water.

Blessings, hugs and loves to all who read this! Love Linda

Saturday, December 15, 2007

"THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS"...Drawing My Own Christmas Card :)


One of my "sanity savers" is to sit down and draw! It captivates my soul, my sense of color and dimension, and my love of fine small details! I get lost in drawing! It's like reading the best book and looking up to discover that three hours have passed.

I started drawing when I was quite young. I took a number of art classes in Seattle, but I am mostly self-taught! My favorite kind of art to engage in is water color pencil drawing, collage with fine transparent papers, and pen and ink drawing!

I made Memory Books for both Jessi and Amy..."Letters From Your Mom-What I Want You To Know When I Am Gone" and I included some of my art. I also have a tradition of drawing my own Christmas cards.

Someone recently asked me what that process was like. So here's a view inside this artist's head:

First, I search and search for an inspiration piece, something that jogs my ideas anf gets my creative juices flowing. One year I found my inspiration on a card, another year in a painting in a window in Levinworth Washington, on a piece of fabric, a cookie box, and this year in an art piece in a book.

Next, I get artist's paper and begin to sketch in pencil. This often takes several days to a week of work. Getting the size and dimensions to "fit" on a small piece of paper is often difficult. My biggest problem areas are eyes and smiles. Last year I must have re-done Santa's eyes ten times.

After sketching everything in pencil, and if you look closely at my letters and drawings you can still see some of the pencil marks, I set out with paint pens, watercolor pencils. white out for mistakes and take over our dining table as the process unfolds.

This year, as always, Bert was a part of the whole process. His encouragement and comments.. "Wow, that's coming right along!"... are so helpful. You should see our dining room...paper and pens, glitter and envelopes...EVERYWHERE! The painting process often takes several 6-8 hour days to complete.

I then take the painted original to Kinkos and they color copy the original. I usually make 40 cards. However, the process is far from over.

The next step is to personalize each card with gold paint (for Santa's buckle. sleigh rails, bells etc) and lots and lots of glitter! My grandaughter , Emma, is my inspiration for that! Like her Nana, she loves sparkles and glitter. Her card is always so glittered that you can hardly see the drawing:) ...Clear glitter for Santa's beard, gold glitter for the elves boots, Santa's buckle. green glitter...well the list goes on and on. Needless to say, our carpet sparkles.

I dry all the cards by our fireplace, punch holes in the card and attached letter, and tie each one with ribbon. I then write a short personalized note, decorate the envelope, and send the card on its way.

The whole process usually takes several weeks and often the ideas percolate for several months. I often take the saying for the card from old Christmas songs. Last year I had Santa checking his list and said, "He's making a list and checking it twice" and I had all the names of my grandchildren on the list! What a hoot!

I already have an idea for next year and wish there was time to get started right now!

These cards are a gift of love from me to my family, a Christmas tradition. Making the cards is is a gift to my soul.

Over the years, to see all the fine, detailed work, I have graduated to wearing glasses during the process...just like St. Nick. I'll unveil this card on my blog after I send it out to family and friends!

Tee Hee! What fun!
Love and Christmas kisses! God bless! Love, Linda

Friday, December 14, 2007

LIFE LESSONS...I Miss My Mom!


Yesterday I was at Safeway for my early morning espresso. Now "early morning" is relative because when school is in session I am there at 5:30 am, like clockwork! I know the night crew by name and Paul greets me as I come in the door. Not many regular customers at that hour.

But this was different. As my Mom used to say, and I LOVE this phrase, I was " Lolly Gagging Along" and I got there at 7am. Who did I meet but my former student Theresa Waco. Theresa was my student 15 years ago at SCC, and she is currently a special-ed teacher at Hamblin Elementary School. She is a former nun, former teacher at Mt. St. Michael, and her life story could be a made-for-TV movie. She is one of the many "could never forget them" students that I have had over the years. I was invited to her last birthday party, had coffee with her after her mother died recently, and I bump into her at Fred Meyers and Safeway regularly. We light up when we see each other.

My conversations with Theresa are never surface level. We always get down to it , as if this was the last time we will ever see each other. She, like most dedicated teachers at this time of the year is exhausted. She was carrying an "energy drink" that promised 4 hours of energy. She needed much more and days of sleep. We talked about Christmas and her upcoming holiday. We talked about missing our Moms.

Theresa mentioned that one of her sisters was putting together a family calendar with pictures and "Mom Sayings" from each of the kids. A few of the questions to they were to answer that would go on the calendar?...what was one phrase that Mom always said to you? What was the happiest memory you had with Mom? What was your earliest memory with Mom? If you could talk to Mom today, what would you say to her?

There just are not words, not any words, that can possibly convey what it feels like in my heart and soul to have my Mom gone physically, to have her dead, to not be able to hear her voice or listen to her wisdom. I can't stop crying, even now years later, when I think about it. After Theresa and I talked and I got in the car...a deep, deep sob came from somewhere inside me.
Truth is...I miss my Mom terribly! I miss her every day, I miss her when I am sick, I miss her at the holidays and on her birthday and anniversary...I miss her all the time.

Now you might assume from all that missing that I had a perfect relationship with my Mom. I didn't. She wasn't perfect and neither was I. For the last several years of her life she was very ill, and I traveled to Seattle every other weekend to help with her care. I coordinated all of her health care and kept track of all her insurance. She was often furious at me that I refused to buy her cigaretes and unhappy when I gave her the nubulizer treatments that helped her to breathe. I remember, deep in my bone marrow, the sounds of the oxygen machine that kept her alive at night. I slept in the spare bedroom right next door to where she was and could hear every gasp of air that she took. My life was uprooted during that time...a life lived partially in Spokane and partially in Seattle. Yet I wouldn't trade a minute of that "give back time" that I had with her. Not one minute.

You see while my Mom and I were very different in many ways, she was a detail person whose home was always in perfect order and I was and am someone where time with people means more to me than a clean house, I really had a Mom who loved me every minute. I had a "go to the ends of the earth for you kind of mom" every minute that she was alive. I had a Mom who loved me with every cell of her body and that didn't change when I left home. I had a Mom that could irritate me like no one else, but at the same time could love me like no one else. I had a Mom. Had a Mom.

I am currently reading Mitch Albom's book "for one more day". Mitch is the author of "Tuesdays With Morrie", one of my all-time favorite reads. In his latest novel Albom explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one? This book, which for me is a 5 kleenex book, explores several life lessons that hit me in the face right now.

When you look back, and it is all said and done, will you be overwhemed with regret that you held on to bitterness and didn't do forgiveness? What happens to our spirits and our hearts when we refuse to see the good in others who are right beside us, our mothers, our sisters, our fathers, our brothers, our children, our spouses, our co-workers? What happens to our souls when we make someone "wrong" and can't let go of decisions they needed to make for themselves? What happens to us when we are too angry, too proud, too self-righteous, or too hurt, to reach out to others and say "I am so, so sorry. I must have really hurt you!"

Someone once said to me, "Treat everyone as if they have a broken heart...because they probably do!" Wise words. When you get that lesson, and see others differently, perhaps we can live life with more compassion and more real love.

If I could have one more day with anyone, it would be my mom. I would tell her how much I miss her and what a WONDERFUL Mom and friend she was to me. I would tell her I am so, so sorry for any of the petty differences I let come between us. I would tell her I am so proud to be her daughter, her friend. I would tell her that I will never, ever forget all of the sacrifices she made so I could go to college, all of the times she drove me to school, all of the sleep overs she had at my house, all the lunches we had that I took for granted. Now, when I see other daughters my age having lunch with their elderly Moms...I want to go over and whisper in the daughter's ear..."Soak it up, appreciate it all...she may be gone tomorrow!" I would give anything, and change any busy schedule, to have lunch one more time with my Mom.

I would tell her that I haven't been a perfect Mom either, but I have tried, really tried with all of my heart, to have Jessi and Amy feel as loved by me as I felt loved by her. I would tell her that I could feel her presence at the Nutcracker Ballet and wished she was there. I would tell her what Jenna, and Jacob, and Emma are like...knowing how happy that would make her.

So the life lesson for me today is this. ..Don't take those you love for granted. You will discover, when they are gone, how many opportunities you missed...by being angry, or hurt, or distant...to tell them that you really love them.

Trust me, that when they are gone, you will regret every wasted moment...and you will miss them beyond what you could ever imagine.

God Bless! Love and Hugs to all who read this! Love Linda

Thursday, December 13, 2007

SLOWLY BUT SURELY...Weight Watcher Weigh In!


Wow what a week it has been...full of emotional ups and downs...a real roller coaster of sorts.

Not only did I grade final exams and notebooks, I did final grades! It's like running a marathon...you are exhausted and yet satisfied at the end. :) On top of all of that, our precious Grandma Elaine had another serious stroke and ended up in the ICU. And then there are Christmas preparations...which I love doing!

I always draw our Christmas card and doing that has been a sanity saver for me!

It was hard to keep any focus at all on Weight Watchers. Yet the habits I am getting in place are doing the job, stress or no stress.

I lost another pound for a total of 27 pounds!

My goal is 30 pounds by Christmas. I will be very happy, however, if I continue at the one pound loss per week during the Holidays!

This weekend (Saturday morning) Amy, Jenna and I are headed to see Grandma Elaine at the hospital! Jessi and Tim were just over there, and I am anxious to give some special loves to this dear lady!

May the true spirit of Christmas live in your heart! God Bless! Love and hugs to all who read this! Love Linda

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Oh How I Love Her - Thoughts About Grandma Elaine!


Usually God gives you one Mom. I was blessed to get two. ..
my own Mom, Dolores McColm and Tim's Mom, Elaine Seppa!
Elaine has been a second Mom to me, my faith mentor, my friend, my mother-in-law, Grandma to Jessi and Amy, and a beloved family member! She has been a pillar in my life for 43 years!
I saw Elaine not long ago in Seattle when Amy, Jenna, and I went there for a Women of Faith Conference. We went a day early so we could see Gandma Elaine and she could meet Jenna!
It was a wonderful visit, and we also got to see Kathy (aka Bazz) and Diane Seppa too! We laughed, cried, talked about God, and embraced each other as friends, family members and faith sisters. It is a visit I will never forget.
Awhile back Elaine suffered a stroke and came back after much physical therapy and hard work.
This last weekend she suffered another very serious stroke and is in the hospital. My heart aches because I can't imagine my world without her.
But what I know for sure is that Grandma Elaine is right with God and she is ready to be with Jesus whenever it's her time to go. She is right with those she loves. Jesus has been the pillar for her whole life, and He is the pillar for her right now!
She is in my prayers as so many memories of her flash through my mind and heart! She left me a voicemail just this last week. She said, in her soft, sweet voice..."Hi Honey! This is Mom!"
And she is.....
God Bless! Love and hugs to all who read this! Love, Linda

Friday, December 07, 2007

AN EMOTIONAL DAY ... and the WEIGHT WATCHER WEIGH IN!


Yesterday was an amazing and emotional day for me on many levels! It is finals week and my last day with 92 students. I had been grading non-stop for four days and had only had four hours of sleep in the past two nights. I'd been at school until 9:30 pm Wednesday as I read final projects that reflected the souls, hearts, and minds of my students.

I am SO proud of my students for the amazing, college level work they did. I have pushed them hard all quarter...let's turn up the dial and do more and do it better! I upped the expectations, and they came through!

It's excruciating to have them all leave at once, hear from each of them what they learned, and see the changes they have made in just twelve weeks. I cried while they talked, and I cried while I talked to them, saying goodbye. I copied off one of my favorite sayings for each of them and brought each one a flower.

There is still more grading to do and final grades to do, but this is just how yesterday went.

This is a job I have loved for forty years and I am so, so honored to be their teacher! They are SO courageous and such fine people. I still can't stop crying when I read their cards and notes!

After leaving my students, and THREE class potlucks in a row where I only had carrots and celery, I went directly to my Weight Watchers meeting and weigh in.

I lost 1.4 pounds for a total of 26 pounds! I am over the 25 pound mark. I went up, got a magnet, and have been letting that sink in ever since.

I have adored my life...every day, all the time. I have adored the ups and downs and the great learnings.

However, I have NOT adored being overweight the last few years. I have NOT adored the "lose 15 pounds, gain it back" cycle. I have NOT adored buying clothes of larger sizes. I have NOT adored looking in the mirror. I had quit weighing myself, I just didn't want to know. I had somehow resigned myself into thinking that this is how my life was going to be.

And then Amy invited and gently pushed for me to go to Weight Watchers and this journey began. Every day is hard work, not just in what I eat, but how I "use" food. Is food a comforter, a friend, an answer to hurt and stress? Or is food just food...fun, tasty, and what I need to eat when I am hungry.

The journey to heath and weight loss is a lifestyle change that is physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. I have always taken on tough goals and have often gone after them with great effort and stamina. Now I am doing that for my health!

I will lose 4 more pounds by Christmas. I will continue to make tough choices. I will NOT take the easy way out or make excuses! I will not lie to myself that things are OK with my weight when they are not. There will be weeks where I may gain weight or maintain my weight, but I will not let those weeks stop me from doing what I said I would do.

I will allow myself to be proud of me for the enormous effort I have put into this!

I know God loves me and His love and strength have held me up in this process. I know my husband loves and adores me. He is so proud of me and delighted as I get clothes of a smaller size or wear clothes I couldn't get into any more. I know my family and friends love me and stand beside me as I work to do this. I know they want me to stay on the planet and be healthy.

I know I love me and that I am worth doing this for!

So...yesterday was an emotional day, a very emotional day...it still reverberates through my soul! 92 goodbyes and goodbye to 1.4 more pounds!

Hugs and loves to all who read this! God Bless! Linda

Monday, December 03, 2007

OH...OH... TIDINGS OF COMFORT AND JOY!!!

I LOVE just about EVERYTHING about Christmas!! For me this is how we should live life every day of the year...full out...full on...full of joy, celebration and love!!

One of my favorite Christmas one liners comes from the book and movie "The Christmas Carole" by Charles Dickens. This story, about Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchet, Tiny Tim and his family, tells a Christmas story, yet a story that rings true during the whole year.


Ebenezer is a "Bah Humbug" kind of skin flint who is self centered. His employee, Bob Cratchet, is as poor as a church mouse, works himself to death for his family, and yet is still kind and nice. Tiny Tim, who is crippled, is the "Spirit of Christmas". Tiny Tim has very little, yet he is grateful for it all.

It takes really looking back, and seeing the error of his ways, for Ebenezer to "get" what his horrible attitude and selfishness have done to others. The "ghosts" of Christmas past, present, and future give this grumpy old man, who only sees things from HIS point of view, an up close and personal vision of the heartache he has caused.

In true Christmas story fashion, thank heavens, Ebenezer opens his heart and makes profound changes in being generous...not just financially but in loving people just as they are and empathizing with them.

Why bring up this story? What do I have to learn from ALL the characters in the story Dickens crafted with such insight and wisdom? Why has this story endured over time?

I am ALL the characters in "The Christmas Carole". I am the person who doesn't get it, who only sees their side of things. I can find it difficult to "re-frame" what I see going on around me.
Instead of celebrating someone who presents healthy boundaries that work for them, I can take it personally and be mad that they didn't do what I wanted. Yet, if the tables are turned and I want to put out boundaries, I want them to respond with respect for my needs. Yikes, sometimes I have to give myself a stern talking to.

I can also be Bob Cratchet who loves and adores his family and works and works to help them.
I can lose the meaning of Christmas in trying to get it all done.

And I can be Tiny Tim who really gets how life should be lived!

Speaking of Tiny Tim, that one liner I mentioned earlier came from him. Tiny Tim says:

If you look
If you really look
You will find goodness
Everywhere.

This Christmas season I am going to be more like Tiny Tim. I want to celebrate the goodness, set aside the differences, appreciate the best in those I love (afterall...what if they were gone tomorrow?), set aside petty complaints and let the true JOY of Christmas fill my heart!

I am getting ready to celebrate the birthday of Jesus...and He deserves an attitude of gratitude, comfort, and joy!

May you find the Tiny Tim in you this Christmas season!
God Bless! Love and hugs! Linda

Friday, November 30, 2007

WEIGHT WATCHER WEIGH IN: Another 3.6 Pounds Bite the Dust


After several weeks of being sick and Thanksgiving (which fell on my Weight Watcher Meeting day)...it felt GREAT yesterday to be back at Weight Watchers, weigh in officially, and attend the meeting. :)

I've lost another 3.6 pounds for a total of 24.6 pounds! I am making steady progress and I am pleased that the hard work (and I do mean hard work) is paying off!

At our meeting we developed a "Strategy for the Holidays!" Pre-planning makes a big difference as I go into a busy time with lots of social activities...most of which involve food!

My plan...lose five more pounds by Christmas eve, drink LOTS of water, up my exercise program, email my daily point totals to Amy so I am accountable on a daily basis, attend every weekly meeting, and remember to really enjoy my time and all the festivities!

I am not on a diet, I am doing a "lifestyle change!"

I feel GREAT physically, and even with the exhaustion of final exams and grading I am staying focused on my short term and long term goals!

Hope you are well too! God Bless and love and hugs to all who read this! Linda

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I LOVE MY LIFE...and the special people in it! :)

I love one liners...and my new favorite quote is:

" To have character is to be big enough to take life on!"
- Mary Caroline Richards

My life is so full, and I am incredibly grateful for all of it! I am TAKING LIFE ON...
but I'm not doing that alone!

This week I have had a deep and profound sense of gratitude for the gift of the special people in my life. I am blessed by their mere presence, a gift from God, and a daily blessing!

Here are just a few of my angels:

1)Yesterday I got an email from Jacob and I smiled and giggled about it for more than one hour!
He has put several posts on my blog and they warm my heart! :) His love for me runs so, so deep as does my love for him! He lights up my life!Thank you Jacob! You are such a blessing in my life!

2) Yesterday I also got a phone call from Emma. She is "SO ESCITED!!!" because she heard the Nutcracker music on the radio and knows that we will be going to the Nutcracker ballet together! The lilt and enthusiasm in her voice made my day! Her enthusiasm about everything rocks my world! Thank you Emma for being such a blessing in my life!

3)Bert is always so kind and attentive, even more so during this finals time!. Tomorrow he is coming to share his wisdom in my classes! After 25 years, I still adore that man! Thank you Boppa for being such a blessing in my life!

4) Amy and I talked yesterday and today will weigh in together at Weight Watchers! Her support and encouragement have helped to fuel my journey of getting healthy! I appreciate her wisdom about life, her open heart, her gifts as a Mom, and her unconditional love for me! She includes me in her life and teaches me constantly about what it means to be a "Yes Woman For The Lord!" Her faith inspires me! Thank you Aim for being such a blessing in my life!

5) Jessi and I talked yesterday and are meeting for coffee on Friday afternoon. Her support, cards, and information about being healthy have helped me in my journey to take charge of my health and wellness! Our phone conversation yesterday centered on the personal growth we are both experiencing and the "life lessons" that are at our door! Those talks warm my heart! I love knowing who you really are and sharing in your life! Thank you Jess Jess for being such a blessing in my life!

6) Kayla is so special and makes such an effort to post comments on my blog! Her love and support mean so, so much to me! I love it when Kayla and I share "Nana and KK Time!" Thanks Sis for all of your love, your desire to spend time with me means the world to me! Thanks too for caring enough to post your thoughts and feelings on my blog! Thank you for being such a special blessing in my life!

7) And I just can't leave out the cutest, most adorable baby girl on the planet...Jenna Marie Farrell! EVERYTHING Jenna does is SO adorable! She is a super stress reducer for her Nana, a gift from God and a reminder that He answers prayers. Her giggle and smile make me know that "All Is Well" in the world! I love her to the moon and back. This GG (God's Girl) is a HUGE blessing for me! Jenna- I love you and feel so grateful for the blessing you are in my life!

There are so many others who are a blessing....those of you who read this blog and comment on it make my day (special thanks to Amy, Jessi, Kayla, Jacob, Lorie, Kim, Tiffany...and others who have done that in the past). I always look forward to your support! You bless my life more than you could know!

So to family members, special friends, students, special colleagues, the gals at Starbucks who even gave me an early espresso so I could get to school early....you are ALL a blessings....
and I AM SO GRATEFUL!!

God bless! Hugs and loves to all who read this! Linda

Monday, November 26, 2007

THE PUSH IS ON...Nine Class Days Left To Go and Then Grading!


I have to chuckle to myself! I have been a teacher for forty years, thirty one of those at The Community Colleges of Spokane. You would think I would be conditioned to the flurry, hurry and push at the end of the quarter. Truth be told...I am always shocked at how long the hours are, how tired everyone is, and how rewarding it is to see students push through to the end.

There are nine total class days left....then finals...then grading finals... and submitting grades. I am in the "super-plan mode" for each day. And there may be a snow storm tomorrow. Yikes!

What I know for sure is that we will finish snow or no snow. We will do what has to be done. And then, in an instant, it will be over and all 93 students will, for the most part, be gone.

The entire process is a miracle full of challenges, love, care, hard work, talking, listening, complaining, doubting, believing. It is like orchestrating a symphony with the ultimate goal being each musician's ability to find their own instrument and play it beautifully...all by themselves.

I am blessed to be a teacher. I am called to be a teacher!

I would NEVER trade the hard work for any other job. I will miss each of my students, and I am SO proud of them!

God Bless! Love and Hugs! Linda

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

MY REAL LESSON ABOUT GRATITUDE AND THANKSGIVING!!


Our home is located near a church which has one of those message signs you can see from the road...not a fancy sign mind you, but the kind you put up word-by-word and letter-by-letter!
I glanced at that sign yesterday and saw it with new eyes!

Granted, I have been quite sick for the past week (and that is relative to what REALLY sick looks like), so perhaps I missed it as I drove by. Another possibility is that I read it and somehow just missed the enormity of the message. In any case, this time I stopped, read it, and re-read it as tears flowed down my cheeks.

The sign said this:
God, thank You for everything.

Sound simple? Just an average message? Not in my book.

While I consider myself to live a life of gratitude, there is no way I can even begin to calculate the enormity of the blessings I have...and I have those blessings every day. Am I truly grateful for them all, not even close. Do I thank God every day for the roof over my head, the food I have to eat, my wonderful husband and fabulous family, the 2 fabulous jobs I love, for all of the people who bless my life, for the smiles that come my way, for every student who graces my classroom?...or am I more caught up in the mundane "Here's What I Have To Do To Make It Happen Today!" mentality?

If I'm honest, there's no contest. I take for granted so many of life's blessings and forget to thank my Creator for making me and blessing my life.

And if I forget to thank Him for the multitude of blessings, I certainly miss out on thanking Him for the trials, disappointments, frustrations, and hard spots.

There is no way I can even begin to calculate the important gifts and life lessons I've received through the very difficult parts of my life. Each one is a gift, but I often forget to say thank you for those too.

I learned a HUGE life lesson this week about the REAL meaning of Thanksgiving and that lesson will stay with me for the rest of my life.

One of my very special students moved to Spokane to start a new life. He is someone who walks into my class and with a HUGE smile greets everyone. His smile lights up our room. He is someone who is honest, smart, authentic, and such a HARD WORKER. He even does all of his homework (yes, any one reading this who is a teacher will smile at that one) :) Every assignment is done with careful penmanship.

He LOVES school and feels so grateful to get to go. School, and having a new start in life, means everything to him. As he leaves class every day, he turns and says..."God Bless You!" to all of us.

My tears are falling as I write this...because this week I discovered, quite by chance, that he is homeless. He lives in his car, showers at our gym, and hadn't eaten since last Friday. That's right, LAST Friday! I found out all of this yesterday...Monday...and he hadn't eaten since last Friday.

I cannot bear that this lovely young man does not have a home. Needless to say, Bert and I went into high gear to set this straight, to get him help, to tell him he was MY student and I would NOT allow this to happen to him. Not on my watch!

But the point of this story is simple...while he was homeless, living out of his car, and not eating since Friday...he was grateful for EVERYTHING!

When I talked to him he said, "God's with me right there in that car so I am never alone!"
Tears streamed down his face as I got him breakfast. He kept saying. "You're so kind. There are others who need this more than I do."

Where oh where has MY gratitude REALLY been?

So as Thanksgiving approaches...this wonderful, young, African American man, who showers at the gym at SCC and lives in a car, is my angel. He has taught me in a way that nothing else can...God, thank you for EVERYTHING!

I am blessed beyond measure and he is one of my blessings! So are you!

Love and HUGS to all who read this! God Bless! Happy Thanksgiving!
Love Linda

Friday, November 16, 2007

Weight Watchers Works...Another Pound Bites the Dust!


When I first started Weight Watchers we were asked to send ourselves a post card. It would arrive before Thanksgiving. On it we were to put what our weight loss goal was by that holiday!

My postcard arrived yesterday and it said, "By Thanksgiving I want to lose at least ten pounds."

Well, Thanksgiving is almost here and another week has passed. I've lost another pound for a total of 22 pounds. I feel pleased that I am ahead of schedule. :)

I've been sick the latter part of this week, so not much appetite. I even had to take a sick leave day from school because I had a fever and absolutely NO voice...so food hasn't been a huge priority. But I have managed to stay on the program...sick or not.

I have a plan for Thanksgiving, in fact for the holiday season. I plan to stay focused, set reasonable goals, enjoy the food I eat, drink lots of water, and walk and exercise regularly.

My goal is to lose 5 more pounds by Christmas.

Love and hugs to all who read this! God Bless! Love Linda

Saturday, November 10, 2007

ANOTHER CAREER?...Want To Manage Stress? Do What Makes You Happy!


I used to marvel at my Mom's love of decorating! Growing up, as the holidays approached, I would see tasteful and artistic decorations slowly transform our home into a fairyland of delight! I remember putting on records like Perry Como or Bing Crosby in our living room, positioning myself under the Christmas tree, and getting lost in the myriad of colors, rhythms, smells, and textures!

The process of decorating for the holidays, be it Halloween, Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas, was a pure delight for my Mom. She had a Masters Degree in Home Economics from the University of Washington and the holidays gave her a chance to put all of her talents to the test! The sights, smells, and sounds will always stay with me. Even now they make me smile! I can see her decorations in my mind and heart!

What I didn't understand then, but I get now, is that transforming our living environment from the mundane to the spectacular, was a gift to my Dad and a gift to me. It was also a gift to HER soul.

I have always said that if I had a third career besides teaching and consulting, both of which I currently do on a full time basis, it would be interior and exterior decorating. I absolutely LOVE doing this!! It feeds a part of my soul and heart that nothing else does! It makes me happy! It gives me an artistic and creative outlet!

When Bert and I drive past houses I am like an in-car "decorator at your disposal" sort of person. I always have a running dialogue about "If they just painted their front door it would make such a difference"....or "A splash of color would really transform their house." I inherited the decorating "gene" from my Mom. She used to say the same kind of things! :)

This last week, when things were really nuts and stress had reached a "beyond any normal proportion peak", I found great relief and stress management in starting to decorate the outside of our house for the upcoming holidays... not Christmas decorations per say, but "Winter Is On The Way" decorations. What? You didn't know that "Winter Is Coming!" is a season that merits decorating? :)

Bert works late three nights a week (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday). On Wednesday night when he came home at 8:30 pm he found me hanging small white lights out in our garden. He gently said, "Honey, it's late. What are you doing?" I replied with a huge grin, "I'm creating a winter fairy garden!!"

Isn't everyone doing that at 8:30 pm in the dark?

And in putting up those lights, and re-doing the pots on my front porch, I was happy beyond measure! I sang my Christian songs and even threw in a few Christmas carols. You could hear me singing lines like "oh, oh tidings of comfort and joy...comfort and joy!"

And out in that garden, doing what made me happy, no matter the crazy hour, DID give me comfort and joy!

God Bless! Hugs and Loves to all who read this!
Love Linda

Friday, November 09, 2007

WEIGHT WATCHER WEIGH IN, MY WEEK IN A NUTSHELL, and FRIDAY'S FAVORITE QUOTE!


Recently I was at Mel's nursery and saw a plaque with this quote on it:

There are no shortcuts
To any place worth going.

I stood in front of the quote and couldn't seem to move! Those words really spoke to my heart and soul. In other words..do the work, move the mountain.

This week hasn't been easy. The 26 year old daughter of one of my long term teaching colleagues at the college died unexpectantly while sitting in a chair. Her husband was talking to her, left the room, came back, and she was gone.

Like that! In an instant! She had not even been ill.

Her mother, my dear friend, is broken. She is still at school because she doesn't want to be at home. My tears flow with her tears as I even try to remotely imagine how I would have felt getting that news about one of my beloved daughters. It is unthinkable.

This week Bert nicknamed me "Mrs. Dash". My schedule this week has barely left time to go to the bathroom. Rack 'em and stack 'em has been the theme. I LOVE teaching, and as of Thursday I have 92 nine page per student exams to grade by next Tuesday. We are at mid-quarter and the pace is unbelievable for students and teachers alike.

This week I have not felt balanced. I have been up every morning at 3:00am to grade, construct tests, get consulting done. At times I have forgotten to even breathe. I couldn't even find the time to take my morning walks. I made all these choices.

I got Oprah's Magazine and turned to the page where she says..."What I know for sure is...
and Oprah says, "I know nothing for sure this month. I have been too busy to be in touch with myself and too far behind to write this column." You have got to be kidding me! Even Oprah has lost her sanity.

Even more important, and a greater personal loss for me, I have skipped my time of reading the Bible in the morning. I ALWAYS do that and read my devotionals! That centers me! That helps me to focus on what REALLY matters in my life! I talked to Jesus on the run all week long. "OK God," I'd say. "Sorry I've put you as a PS", I'd say.

Do the work, move the mountain. There are no shortcuts!

I sat down and had a heart-to-heart talk with myself. I cannot have another week like this. I will not permit it! I will not choose it! I will not be praying in the car that I make it to the next school committee meeting on time without having an accident! I had three school meetings in the same day...two days in a row! I will set better boundaries!

There are no shortcuts to any place worth going!

I saw a video clip on Amy's blog about who God is that touched my soul! I cried every time I watched it! I KNEW I was off track!

I went to Weight Watchers not even knowing how I had done because while I had written down all the points I ate, I hadn't even kept good track of my progress! I was on auto-pilot all week. Weight Watchers took a back seat like everything else this week.

I lost another .6 ponds for a total of 21 pounds! I even got a Weight Watcher present for the percentage of overall weight I had lost. I had still followed many of my new habits even though I was in full speed mode this week.

But truth be told, I couldn't celebrate the small victory!

I knew in my heart of hearts that the week had been so off balance that my usual intentional attitude had been lost in the whirlwind. I take FULL responsibility for all of the choices I made that turned my days from 3am to 11pm. Some form of "Get It All Done Insanity" had taken hold.

Life is too short to not get my daily walk in! Life is too short to not have my daily Bible time!

Life is too short for not making the time to be grateful! Life is too short to not take breaks and breathe. Life is too short to not see Bert all week, except in small spurts while I'm headed elsewhere!

After all, the week's MOST important lesson is that you can be GONE in an instant!

There are no shortcuts to any place worth going! I will slow down! I will practice saying no. This next week will look different and be different!

This morning I got up early, took a wonderful walk, had a healthy Weight Watchers breakfast, actually took the time to taste my food, and had my Bible and prayer time!

I am breathing again! It's a start.

God Bless! Love and HUGS to all who read this! Love Linda

Thursday, November 01, 2007

WEIGHT WATCHER WEIGH IN RESULTS: A New Milestone


Well... I am smiling today as I met one of my short term goals in Weight Watchers. After nine weeks in the program, and losing another .6 pounds, I went over the 20 pound mark!!! :) :)

As of today I have lost...drum roll please... 20.4 pounds!!

Yup, I have lost a 20+ pound frozen turkey from my body!!

This first 20 pounds is one of my goals, but I am far from finished with this life-long process! There are no words to express how happy I am and how grateful I am for the support of those who love me and care about me!

This week I plan to do some experimenting with other healthy receipes, new (to me) weight watcher products, and I am completing my Fitness Challenge at SCC!! This is hard, hard work, but I am invigorated by the challenge!

Stay tuned...you'll see less of me next week!

God Bless! Hugs and loves to all who read this! Love Linda

CELEBRATING THE SMALL VICTORIES...One Holiday At A Time!


At our Weight Watcher meetings we talk about having a "game plan" for the days when you know you will be tempted to go off the program...and possible get off course in ways that don't help you get where you want to go long term. So they suggest, when you know a special occasion is coming up, to make a plan that works for your long term goals.

Special occassions like birthday parties, dinners out, and holidays need to be planned for. You can do these in moderation and save the points to do them. Or you can decide to take a different approach! Each of us does what works best for us! The goal is to make a plan and sick to it!!!

Yesterday was Halloween, and it was a test of my dedication to the goals I am pursuing!

Let me say...that I love chocolate!! I have always loved chocolate and I will always love chocolate. So Halloween, and having oodles of candy around, has always been a challenge. In the past, I have pretty much eaten whatever was at our house.

While I wanted to be hospitable this year to trick-or-treaters, and I wanted to have fun sharing Halloween with my students and fellow teachers, I knew I had to have different goals this year. Moderation and chocolate, at least at this point in the program, do not go hand-in-hand!

My goal was to not eat even one piece of Halloween candy..not one Halloween cupcake...not one Halloween anything this year! My plan was to have a frozen Weight Watcher Fudgesickle (1 point) and call it a day!

I knew that if I kept this goal I would wake up on November 1st and feel like a million bucks!!

Yesterday I had candy for my students, gave candy to my colleagues, said "NO, THANK YOU" to cupcakes, donuts, and cookies. I put out the Halloween treats and DID NOT EAT ONE PIECE OF HALLOWEEN CANDY...or anything else for that matter!

I woke up this morning and I feel like a million bucks!

While this may not seem like a big deal to some of you who read this, this is a HUGE victory for me! I weigh in at Weight Watchers this afternoon. No matter what the scale says, this week is a major drum roll for me!

Nancy Regan once said, "Just say no!" She was talking about saying no to drugs! Yesterday I just said no to Halloween temptations!

God Bless! Love and Hugs to all who read this! Love Linda

Monday, October 29, 2007

FINDING BALANCE- Checking In On My Goals!

Bert often tells me that I have two speeds: full speed ahead and stop dead! I tend to live my life, as one dear friend told me, "shot out of a cannon!" Even at 60, I have tons of energy and get lots accomplished. However this morning, as I looked at my work and personal calendar, I found a notation that I had made at the end of August. It was a "note to myself" of sorts.

The notation said, "Is your life still balanced?" "Are you taking time for what really matters?"

I wrote this "note to myself" at the end of a glorious summer! I had time to breathe and time to spend with those I love. While life was very busy...it wasn't rushed. Once school starts and 93 students join the parade...consulting clients want more time...workshops begin...and the holidays loom...well it's easy to lose balance!

I know when I feel balanced because I feel happy and peaceful inside!

And on top of all the usual time consumers...I have added "get a healthy lifestyle, exercise and Weight Watchers" to the list!

I went to a church retreat recently with Amy. The speaker said, "I could look at your calendar and checkbook and I would know what your priorities are!" That really stuck with me. I want to be aware of where I am, how I am feeling, what my priorities are, and what I need to do to be balanced. I don't want God to feel like a PS in my life!

So today I am taking time to breathe, to blog, to hug my husband, to drink (and taste) my coffee, to touch the leaves, to remember what I love about fall, and to thank God for the gift of being alive!

Today I want to simply be grateful for it all! I want to slow down long enough to FEEL the gratitude and appreciate and work toward "balance" in my life!

God Bless! Love and hugs to all who read this! Love Linda

Friday, October 26, 2007

WEIGHT WATCHER WEIGH IN: :..."And The Beat Goes On!"


Doing Weight Watchers is a HUGE lifestyle change for me.

I joined Weight Watchers for several reasons...take off some pounds, have time with Amy every Thursday while we work on a mutual goal, and work on a healthy lifestyle. Yet while I have been to Weight Watchers in the past, I have never DONE the program with the determination and hard work that I am putting into it now!

I continue to attend every meeting. I continue to track all of the food that I am eating and add up my points. I continue to exercise at least three or four times a week (walking vigorously, running up stairs, lifting weights). I continue to drink large amounts of water every day.

And the program works if you really do it!

This week...drum roll please...I lost 3.2 pounds for a total loss of 19.8 pounds!!!

Sunny and Cher used to sing the song "And The Beat Goes On"...meaning that this adventure is ongoing! Mine is! I am getting healthy! I am not stopping! I feel like a million bucks!

I am SO grateful that God is right beside me in this journey. Every day I thank Him for the courage to do this and I want to live in a way that I honor the temple (my body) that He so generously gave me!

Stay tuned...next week you'll see less of me!

God Bless! Love and hugs to all who read this! Linda

Thursday, October 25, 2007

THURSDAY THIRTEEN: Thirteen Of My Favorite Quotes

I LOVE one liners...quotes that make you think... quotes that say it all in such a concise fashion that you just have to smile! I have quotes in my journal, quotes on my refrigerator, and I use a "quote of the week" in all of my classes!

Here are just a few (13) of my favorite quotes:

Cinderella is proof that the right pair of shoes can change everything!

Courage is fear that has said its prayers!

Happiness is not in having what you want,
it's in wanting what you have!

I have been driven many times upon my knees
by the overwhelming conviction that I had
nowhere else to go.

Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around,
Faith looks up.

Dance Yourself Silly!

A Daddy is a man who has pictures
where his wallet used to be.

Wise men still seek Him!

It wasn't me.
It's not my fault.
I would like to speak to my Nana.

What happens at Nana's house...
Stays at Nana's house!

When things get rough..
Call 1-800- Nana!

Home is where your story begins.

You are not helpless, you are not, lost...
And you don't have the right to give up on yourself!

Have a great Thursday...full of joy, fun, sharing, and delight!

God Bless! Love and hugs to all who read this! Linda

Thursday, October 18, 2007

WEIGHT WATCHER WEIGH IN - "The Big Dip!" :)


In Weight Watchers we talk about making a lifestyle change...one that includes eating healthy foods in moderate portions, healthy exercise and drinking lots of water.

I don't often say these words...but I'm proud of myself for all of the hard work I have done in the past six weeks! My clothes are looser, I am drinking enough water for a small third world country, I am writing down and tracking all the food I am eating, and I am getting regular exercise!

Who would have guessed that this would be part of my journey as I turned sixty! I feel so grateful!

Drum roll please...I lost 4 lbs this last week for a total of 16.6 lbs!

So..the journey continues, one day at a time and one pound at a time! Stay tuned and you'll see less of me next week!

God Bless! Love and hugs to all who read this! Linda

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

An Amazing Accomplishment- World Championship Ironman!


As I run up and down a few stairs...as I walk a few blocks and break a sweat...I am more impressed than ever by the dedication, tenacity, HARD work, and self-discipline Rog puts into training for an Ironman competion!

Let's see...swim 1.4 miles...ride a bike 112 miles...and then run a marathon! Are you kidding me?
This is an unbelievable human feat! I stand in awe and amazement!

This past weekend, Rog, once again, did the Ironman World Championships in Kona Hawaii. That's right...WORLD championships! And he has been there more than once.

I wasn't there in person, but I was literally glued to my computer much of Saturday, getting data from Amy, watching Ironmanlive.com and calling Jessi with information. When the Ironmanlive.com website went "down" I couldn't believe it! I even called the number on the website saying, "Excuse me...do you know this isn't working and people ALL OVER THE WORLD are trying to find out about athletes they love!"

Not only was Rog doing this race, but he had an awesome cheer squad of family and friends supporting him! His two biggest supporters are Jessi and Emma...and they go to the ends of the earth to be there during those races.

Often times during the day, while I was at the computer, I thought of Rog, Ben, and Jeff, (Ben and Jeff are two other TriFusion athletes in this race), Tim (with his maps and cameras), Kevin and Kathi being supportive, Kris, Anna, and Grandma Phyllis, Madison, and especially Eileen and Rog Sr. I was SO delighted that they could see their son in person at this amazing event!

So...here's to you Rog! As I walked my 15 blocks this morning I thought of you!

God Bless! Love Linda

Friday, October 12, 2007

LIVE EVERY DAY AS IF IT WAS YOUR LAST- A Reminder




The "theme" of my blog is "Live Every Day As If It Was Your Last!"

Those words have great meaning for me...and yet it is easy to get off course and forget (in the day-to-day events) how truly precious life is!

I got a reminder when a colleague at the Community Colleges sent me this website address. It is part of the Lecture Series where professors give their "final lecture". In essence, this is what they feel is most important to them, what they really want to say to their students about what matters!

What is unique about the "Final lecture" in this clip, is that this very young and articulate teacher IS dying... from pancreatic cancer. His thoughts were inspiring and thought provoking...about giving people chances and the purpose of "walls".

It's food for thought...so I wanted to pass it along!

http://video.aol.com/video-detail/dying-professors-last-lecture/450759514


Have a blessed weekend! God Bless! Love, Linda

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Weight Watcher Weigh In- Turning Fat To Muscle !!!


I had a great week on Weight Watchers. While it's never easy, I stayed within my acceptable point range each day and drank water like crazy.

I also added something new to the equation...LOTS of exercise.
I exercised every day, ran up and down stairs (at home and SCC), lifted weights, did my Richard Simmons aeorobics tape before my classes, and walked every day.

Now for some folks, this might not seem like a BIG deal. However I haven't had this much exercise in YEARS!

I look better and feel better than I have in a long, long time and the exercise helped me to be extra calm during several moments of stress! An extra bonus!

When I went to weigh in today (expecting to lose weight) I gained 1.4 pounds. I was in shock...but my Weight Watcher leader was not. When she heard about my exercise routine the past week she smiled and said,

"This often happens when you first start to REALLY exercise. You are turning fat to muscle!!
Wait until next week...you'll see a dip!"

Other veterans in our group echoed her sentiments. So...
I am uplifted because I am exercising like there is no tomorrow, and I am turning that nasty fat into muscle!! Since I DID the program, this result is very different then if I had fudged my way along. I actually thought (although only momentarily) I could get to like exercise like I am learning to like water ( I am drinking 6-8 large containers of H20 with Crystal Light each day)!

Stay tuned next week to see the "DIP"!

Thanks to Amy, Jacob, and Jenna for being at today's meeting (after their field trip), thanks to Jessi for the awesome cards (I LOVED the musical one), and thanks to all of my students for your support! You ROCK!

God Bless! Love and hugs to all who read this! Love, Linda

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

SMALL BLESSINGS...Enjoying Them All!

Life is full of BIG and small moments! The big moments seem monumental in that they create lasting memories...when we get married, when we have a baby, when we go on the trip of a life time! Sometimes we yearn for the BIG moments as they have have such a splash effect. Yet those moments are often few and far between.

We miss out on much of life if we are waiting and yearning for them. We may even miss the small moments, the small blessings! Those blessings surround us every day! They are right in front of us. There is no drum roll about them, no trumpets blow, but if we open our eyes we can see them! If we open our heart we can feel them! These small blessings, when added together, remind us of God's goodness and God's grace!

Here are a few of my small blessings from yesterday:

1) Early in the morning I made my daily trip to Safeway. I found just the right plant to celebrate the birthday of a friend who runs our copy center at SCC! There it was. It almost said, "Linda, get me! Diane will love this!" And she did!

2) Also in my visit to Safeway I was headed down the frozen food aisle. I was looking for Lean Cuisine frozen lunches. Suddenly I looked to the right and saw the coffee cakes and desserts! I COULD NOT believe my eyes! I let out a yelp (and one employee came running to see if I was OK). Now I know you may not get the magnitude of this...but one reader of this blog will. There...in the Sara Lee section...was the Butter -Struesel Coffee Cake...our old family, Christmas morning, traditional coffee cake that my Mom used to make every Christmas morning! I had adopted this tradition as well. This yummy, never-to-be-forgotten morsel of heaven got discontinued last year...much to my great sadness...in seeing a 45 year tradition end. BUT IT HAS NOT ENDED...IT IS BACK!!! I had even written Sara Lee and told them the story of our coffee cake. I have no idea if that mattered, but I am buying every one of them and storing them!!
What a blessing...it made my day!

3) Ryan went up to our place at Diamond Lake and mowed the lawn for us! In the process he discovered that the hot tub had been fixed by the Pool World folks and that the "bridge/doc" built by a neighbor did NOT obstruct our water use! Praise God! Thanks for all of your help Ryan! You are a life saver! Love You!

4) I had some time with Amy and Jenna yesterday! :) Amy made me a Weight Watcher friendly lunch after school, and I got to see Jenna's AWESOME smile! It heals my heart to be around both Amy and Jenna! Thanks for lunch and your love, you two!

5) I came home to look at the mail and found that I had TWO cards from Jessi, sent before she left for Hawaii! One I opened and one I am to save until my weight watcher weigh in tomorrow :) Jessi was so busy before her trip, so it means so much that she took the time to support me! Thanks sweetie! I love you!

6) My Granddaughter Kayla was on my blog yesterday! Her comments, and love for the Lord, always inspire me! Thanks Sis! You rock! Love you so much!

7) My new zippy, brown jacket, that I wore to school, was a little too loose! :) I was reminded all day that my hard work at getting healthy is paying off!

6) Yesterday morning I found an old photograph of my Dad with me when I was 5 months old!
It brought back a flood of happy memories and blessed my heart!

These are just a FEW of the small blessings that graced my life yesterday! When I open my mind and heart...these blessings flood in. They overtake tiredness, they crush discouragement,
they diminsh sadness, and they remind me that LIFE IS GREAT!

Thank you God for every small (and large) blessing! God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good! May YOU be surrounded by large and small blessings today...and see them all!

God Bless you! Love and Hugs to all who read this! Linda

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Everything Is A Gift...Even If It Doesn't Look Gift Wrapped!



It's easy to talk the talk of faith when things go well. When things are going the way they "should", and all is "well" (by my standards), a positive attitude is easier to find...at least for me. Yet when things get tough, when unexpected pressures hit, when good people are sick, or someone is mean or selfish...when things get really difficult and you can't believe what is going on...well that is the time when knowing God is there makes a difference! In those moments I am called upon to "Let Go! And Let God!"

I love the line in the movie Rudy when Rudy is talking to a priest and says, "What else should I do?" Father Cavenaugh says back to Rudy, "Son, there are two things I know for sure. There is a God. And I am not Him!"

I don't always get how God works...in fact I often do not get how God works. I can look at a situation and wonder..."Well...what will He do with THIS one??"

What I know for sure is that there is a God, He loves me, and He is here in the midst of it ALL!
As Maya Angelou loves to say, "God is where you are!"

Last night I got a phone call. Long story short...someone who now owns Ortners Island at Diamond Lake has built (on the sly) a HUGE bridge/dock.with no thought to how this impacts all of the people at the Lake. He has threatened to do this before. He was stopped by the county. When everyone left the lake, he built it anyway. I am beyond shocked at his selfishness.

There were dozens of phone calls...with Diamond Lake residents, a message to the prosecutor, and messages to the Planning Department. We will not be bullied into accepting this situation.
Personally, I felt very stressed. I kept saying "How could he do this? How could he be so mean!" I wondered how I would get sleep and let this go...at least for now.
I said a prayer before going to bed and asked God to be in charge of this.

This morning when I woke up to have my prayer time surprisingly I was very much at peace. I turned in my book Come Away My Beloved to a passage on Be Not Afraid. It said...

Oh my child, rest in Me.
Yes quietly settle in my care, as a bird settles in a nest.
For I am watching over you, and in Love will I care for you.

There is no danger with which I am unable to cope.
There is no enemy too formidable for me to handle.
I am able to carry out all My purposes and to keep you at the same time.

Be not afraid!
Do not allow terror to strike at your heart.
My power is at your disposal.
My presence stands around about you
and nothing can harm you so long as you are in MY care...
and that is forever!

What a wonderful message. And as if that wasn't enough...when I opened the book an old photograph fell out. I had forgotten it was there. I suppose I had used it as a bookmark. It is a wonderful photo of my Dad holding me at age 5 months and looking at me with love and adoration! Wow!




So today I am reminded that God loves me. My Heavenly Father is here with me. He will not leave when things get complicated or tough.

And I am reminded that my earthly father loved me too! It just doesn't get much better than that!

So...whatever curves life sends your way...and there will be curves...may YOU also know God's peace and deep love. It doesn't change the circumstances, but it allows you to have peace and serenity in the midst of it all! It's all a gift even when some of it doesn't look gift wrapped!

God Bless! Love and hugs to all who read this! Linda


A New Note as of Tuesday night at 5 pm- The county planning commission is involved, has talked to this man, and the dock does not now hurt our access to the water! What a relief!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Balancing My Life- Getting On My Own Calendar!


We had a wonderful weekend! Somehow life seems more "in balance" on Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday. There is time to take a walk, go to a movie with Bert, see Kayla play soccer or Zac play football, play soccer with Jacob, read a book by a fire, have coffee or lunch with Amy or Jessi, get a play date in with Emma, get exercise in as part of the routine, go to church, take a nap...the list of wonderful things to do is endless.

This weekend (Saturday morning) Bert and I went to the Custer Antique Show! It was really a trip down memory lane. Not only was it fun "couple's time", but it was a nostalgic look at our childhoods. We saw old records we used to listen to (Fred Warring's Christmas album), dolls I used to play with, and hats my Mom and Nana used to wear. We held hands, sipped coffee, and laughed endlessly! We came home, had lunch, took a nap, and then went to see Kayla play soccer. Bert also had some soccer time with Jacob. I cooked salmon that evening, I decorated for Halloween :), and we had a great time talking and sharing! This kind of time is a pure luxury for me!

This is such a HUGE contrast with our "during the week schedule." Bert works late
on Tuesday through Thursday evening. My days are crowded with teaching and consulting! We love our life, but at times I long for more balance!

I am resolving to put myself on my own calendar and to make time to take better care of me! It's easy to feel like that is selfish. Yet I'm learning, as I work on being more healthy, that it takes time to exercise, take walks, lift weights (yes, I am even trying this:))..and to just BE...not DO! I'm going to carve out "vacation time" even in the midst of my "real life"!

For thirty plus years I have gone like the speed of light. I have held down two full time jobs and been incredibly busy! I have loved every minute of it all, and I have no regrets! Yet the "winds of change" are in the air! Some of my priorities are shifting!

I thank God every day for being alive and for all of the blessings in my life! I love the Lord, my husband, my family, and all of the other miraculous people in my life! I am blessed beyond measure...and I want to slow down just a bit so I can enjoy it all!

God Bless! Love and hugs to all who read this!

Love Linda

Friday, October 05, 2007

WEIGHT WATCHER WEIGH IN: The Results And Kudos To My Weight Watcher Hero!


Yesterday, at Weight Watchers, we were talking about diets vs. lifestyle changes. Weight Watchers, and really doing the program, is a HUGE lifestyle change for me. A few of the changes include:

1) Doing much more exercise, sit ups, fast walks, and doing them every day!

2) Watching portion control. I am probably eating 1/2 of what I ate before.

3) Making good food choices. While I am not perfect at this, I am so much better! I look at menus very carefully, and I shop differently!

4) Drinking enough water for a small third world country!

5) Taking on a "Fitness Challenge" at SCC and doing a recent walk and not stopping.

6) Going to all of my Weight Watcher Meetings!

7) Keeping track of my points for the day!

8) Reading and re-reading all of my Weight Watcher material!

9) Walking early at school and doing my Richard Simmons work out video before my classes start!

Drum Roll Please...I lost 2.4 pounds this week for a total of 14 pounds.

I especially want to give a "shout out" to my Weight Watcher Hero, my wonderful daughter Amy. She has been my helper, supporter, and encourager (daily) on this journey! She doesn't just talk the talk...she walks the walk! She and Jenna are at every Weight Watcher meeting I attend...and Jenna charms our whole group:) Aim, I am SO proud of you! You are amazing and such a GREAT role model for me! I love you so much!

I also want to thank Jessi for her phone calls, support, blog posts, and giving me nutritional "tips". Thanks sweetie for your help and support! It means the world to me! I love you so much!

And now another week begins! It will be filled with daily opportunities to choose wisely!
As I watch tight pants become loose, as I climb the stairs at work with more ease, as I track my weight loss on a chart in my class, and as I say my daily prayers and thank the Lord for being with me during this journey...there is something I know for sure...next week you will see LESS of me!

God Bless! Love and Hugs to all who read this!

Love Linda

Thursday, October 04, 2007

INNATE GIFTEDNESS- Honoring Your Brain


Confucious said, "Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life."

I am SO blessed to have a job I love every day. Being a teacher fits me like a glove! I have wanted to be a teacher ever since I had Miss Faye as my first grade teacher. She was magical. I loved her, I loved learning, and I wanted to do what she did for the rest of my life!

When I graduated from Roosevelt High School (several thousand students) there were 875 in my graduating class. Of the top ten academic scholars, eight of us had had Miss Faye as a first grade teacher. Miss Faye was meant to teach, called to teach...and so am I.

When I became a teacher I found a career that challenged me, rewarded me, and stretched me in every way possible. I also found a career that tapped into my "innate giftedness" since teaching gives me lots of energy. Oh there are parts of the job that take extra energy...grading mountains of papers, being on lots of committees, keeping detailed records. Yet the core of what I do every day, interact with students, is life-giving to me!!

This quarter I am teaching Interpersonal Communication, Conflict Management, and Intercultural Communication. I have what we call a full load, especially with three preps every day. I never teach a class the same way twice, so I am always planning and changing the curriculum. I have 92 new students this quarter! What a blessing!

In my Intercultural Communication class we are reading Mind Waves by Arlene Taylor. Some of you know her from the brain workshops she has done in Spokane. Arlene talks about innate giftedness. She says,

"Each person's brain holds the history and mystery of one's preference- your innate giftedness.
When you discover yours, the knowledge can result in your choosing to give up some of what exhausts you in exchange for lots of what energizes you."

My class is learning about hydrating their brains (drink LOTS of water throughout the day) and eating the foods that are best for their brains. Did you know that apples are a great brain food?

I LOVE learning new things and learning about my brain and innate giftedness is exciting and life-changing to learn about. My students are jazzed and excited. Yesterday, after talking about how men's brains are like wardrobes with drawers (they bring out issues, take a look, and are done with it) vs. the female brain (like a trunk that keeps every old issue and brings them out at will)..a male student said, "I just had a giant AH HAH! I've always wondered why my wife could bring up a conflict we had several years ago and remember all the details and emotions of that fight. And then she can add it to the list of what she is still mad at me about!"

I love learning and I love it when a light bulb goes off in my students. They are just like small children at Christmas...appreciating a new and special gift!

So today I am grateful for the brain that God gave me. I am grateful for the unique innate giftedness He bestowed upon me. I am grateful for having a job that I love that energizes me, even after 40 years of doing it!

I'm like a child at Christmas each day in each class!

God Bless you! And hugs and loves to all who read this!
Love Linda

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Stand Up For What Is Right...Even If You Are Standing Alone!


Last week was wonderful, full of so many blessings. And on the flip side of the coin I had a situation that happened at school that really tested my resolve and integrity.

In a nutshell...here is what happened:

We have construction going on for a new center at SCC. The construction was supposed to be finished this summer. They didn't get it done, so they are doing construction during the school day! This center is located below my classroom, and there is a direct air vent between the two rooms. Sound carries up that vent.

Last week the construction workers were jackhammering during class hours. Fifteen minutes went by, it didn't stop, and my students could not hear me and I could not hear them. I went down and talked to the workers. I asked if they had been given a class schedule (they had not). I asked that if it was possible to do the jackhammering before or after our classes and that this would be very helpful.

No big deal...just straight, respectful communication.

However all heck broke loose..that involved the college President, vice-president, several deans and my department chair. The issue- I talked to the construction workers myself and did not go through the chain of command.

Long story short...I told all of them that it was my job to protect the learning environment for my students. That class hour was theirs, they paid for it, and they are our customers. I also said that since we were paying the construction workers we had a right to ask them to avoid really loud work when classes were in session. I held my ground!

When asked...would I do the same thing again? I said yes I would. It takes hours and days (even weeks) to go through the chain of command. I told them that I had taught at SCC for 31 years and there were moments they had to simply trust my judgement. I can and will stick up for my students!

My dean reminded me of the famous photo in Life magazine where it showed Chinese students in Tiennamen Square rioting for democracy. The government brought in a huge tank. One student refused to budge. The picture shows this huge tank pointed at the student...who refuses to move! Dennis suggested with a smile that I was that one student!

I am very cooperative! I take a collaborative approach with almost everything! But this called for me to stand my ground!

Sometime back, an adjunt teacher gave me a banner. I had stood up publically for adjuncts at the school suggesting that they get equal pay for equal work. Before she left SCC for a better paying job, she left the banner in my office. It says "Stand Up For What Is Right..Even If You Are Standing Alone! Her note to me, attached to the banner, said..."Thanks for your courage to do right by us adjuncts! We voted to give my banner to you"! I was so honored!

So today, if the jackhammering starts, I'll be downstairs again trying to negotiate a better time for them to do this. My students deserve this and so do I. What I know for sure is that my Mom and dad would be proud of me!

God Bless! Love and Hugs to all who read this! Linda

Friday, September 28, 2007

WEIGHT WATCHER WEIGH IN- The Results


Yesterday was amazing on so many levels! Not an easy day for me at the college, but I am learning (again) that being a person of integrity means doing what has to be done, even if it isn't easy!

That principle certainly applies to working on a healthy life style!

This week I did what I said I would do. I kept promises to myself!

I did more exercise, I drank more water, I kept track of every morsel of food that I put in my mouth. It wasn't easy, in fact it was darn tough at times! And my response to it being tough? So what if it is tough!!

If I want this badly enough, and I do, then I have to be willing to do the hard work. The results are worth it!

It takes courage to work on yourself. Bravery Ribbons help. I wore mine all day yesterday and to Weight Watchers. They were a visible reminder to me that I CAN do this! I DO have it inside me to be strong! I am NOT alone. God is right there with me as I do my situps, take my walks, eat my Lean Cuisine Meals, make a good choice at a restaurant, and get on the scale at a Weight Watcher meeting!

Drum roll please: I lost 3.4 more pounds for a total of 11.6 pounds! (she says with a smile)

A huge thank you to all of you who have kept me in your prayers! That means the world to me. A huge thank you to those who have emailed, been on my blog, called, checked in, or asked how it is going. That support makes a big difference!

If you see a cute 60 year old dancing down the street, lighter on her heels, her clothes a little looser, wearing a grin and flashing her bravery ribbons...well that person is ME!!

Love and hugs to all who read this! God Bless! Love, Linda

Thursday, September 27, 2007

BRAVERY RIBBONS- Kudos to Emma and Kayla





Growing up one of the favorite sayings in my home was "Feel the fear...and do it anyway!"
In essence my Dad was teaching me that life is full of risks and changes that make us feel fearful. When we try something new, or go back to something challenging, there will often be moments of panic and fear. Our self talk may become something like..."Why did I think this was a good idea?"..."What if I fail?"..."What if this doesn't work out like I thought it would?"

If the goal is one that I really want to shoot for ...I was taught to say to myself "Feel the fear...and do it anyway!"

Feeling the fear may mean buckets and buckets of tears. It may mean finding support from others, it may mean getting afraid, backing out, starting all over again, or approaching the goal with tiny, fearful steps. It truly takes great courage to deal with your worst fears and tackle life head on.

It helps to know that you are not alone, that others love you and support you. It helps me to know that I'm NEVER really alone! God is always there, holding me up when I feel afraid!

You can feel afraid if you are 4, 10,or 60. And my two role models this week for "feeling the fear and doing it anyway" are my granddaughters Emma and Kayla!

Let's start with the youngest "Fear Fighter"! Emma has had a tough few weeks transitioning from summer to pre-school, ballet, and daycare. She is used to Mommy and Daddy being there 24/7. She misses everyone. This normally self-confident little dynamo has hit a hard spot, as we all do. She has been filled with fear. Tears have flowed, and she has had a heart-breaking time adjusting. She has cried endlessly and so has Jessi. Rog and Jessi have brainstormed constantly about how to support her. We have been praying for her strength as have so many others. Even a group of older "Grandma-type" seniors at my church (one is 99 :)) have been praying. As Mother Eardman told me last Saturday "Of course I will put that sweet darling in my prayers! You watch. God will lift her up!" You gotta love that resolve and she is 99!

On Tuesday Emma decided to try ballet again. The beginning was very rocky. Yet Jessi had put "bravery ribbons" in her hair to remind her that she was brave and she could do this!

When I heard about the "Bravery ribbons" I started to cry. I missed my Mom. I wanted her to be in my life right now and make bravery ribbons for me. I wanted to immediately start a company that marketed bravery ribbons. Bravery Ribbons are a visual reminder that you have the courage and strength inside you to do what you need and want to do!

Emma felt the fear at ballet, and if you look at Jessi's blog you'll see that she at first took very tiny steps. And then, boosted by love, support, care, concern and prayers from all over...she joined the ballet class again!! Praise God!

Emma called me Tuesday night with the usual lift and strength in her voice. She said, "Nana, I DID IT! I didn't cry. I had a great day at ballet!" Now understand, in all the enthusiasm, it came out very fast and a bit hard for me to catch all of it. But what I heard her say clearly was "I so ESCITED!" That's how we feel when we face our fears! What a great role model for all of us! Way to go Emma!

My second "Fear Fighter" role model is my ten year old granddaughter Kayla! Kayla is absolutely amazing, beautiful inside and out. If you asked ten people in our family they would describe her as loving, kind, compassionate, a great friend, a hard worker, someone who always does her best, and a lover of Jesus! I LOVE to talk to Kayla and we have N and K time together (Nana and Kayla Time!) We talk about the Lord, about books we are reading, about how to get along with difficult people, about life!)

Kayla has been through lots of HUGE changes in the past few years. A few of these include having her family go through a divorce, re-marriages of both parents, new siblings and family added to her life, new homes to live in, new schools to go to, and new friends to make. Most adults I know would whine endlessly about having to go through this. Yet Kayla tackles change with God by her side. She feels the fear and does it anyway. She does change graciously and gratefully!

This year brought new changes as well. After a great time, and being well known at her old grade school, she started 5th grade at a new school, Woodridge Elementary. She is making new friends and wants to be involved in student government. So what is she doing...she is running for school secretary! Oh my gosh...how awesome and brave is that!!

She won the Primary in her class and now is campaigning at the school. She is telling everyone... I am new here, I want to do this, and I could do it well!!! I am SO PROUD of her!
Instead of focusing on being new, and expecting that to be a negative, she is being brave and going for her goals! She is looking fear in the face and saying "Get out! You won't stop me!!"

She deserves bravery ribbons, just like Emma! Way to go Sis!

So if today you are feeling fear, if you are wanting to hide or run away, if fear is getting the better of you... think of these two brave young women!! Take a few small steps toward your goals knowing that sometimes just making the effort when you are scared deserves a trophy!

Today I have a weight watcher weigh in. This morning I'm making myself some bravery ribbons! I'll be the one at the meeting dressed in style, wearing ribbons and carrying the love of two amazing granddaughters in my heart!

Have a great day! "Feel the fear and do it anyway!"...and while you are at it...make yourself some bravery ribbons!
God Bless! Love, Linda

A Reminder of What Matters...

                   "We are all just walking                       each other home."                                             ...