Wednesday, August 29, 2007

TAKING THE TIME TO SEE AND EXPERIENCE THE MIRACLES!!


Albert Einstein once said-

There are two ways to live your life-

One as if nothing is a miracle
The other as if everything is.

I saw this quote downtown yesterday in a display case, and I stopped to write it down.
I want to be the kind of person who sees ALL of life as a miracle!

The past several weeks the pace of life has gone from a slow, sane, summertime schedule to all out GO FOR IT!!!! Bert's fall schedule as a counselor is full, full, full! My consulting work has picked up as well. And school is about to start , and the other members of our family who are teachers are already back at it.

Today Ryan starts his first day with students in the Deer Park School District. He is teaching 5th grade so he has a new grade, new school, new room, and new colleagues. He is thrilled and excited. They are so blessed to have him. I have seen him teach, and he is a gifted teacher.

Amy starts a new semester of Grad School at Gonzaga. Her classes started yesterday. Yet she has been Ryan's major helper in making this new transition! Besides all of this, and having a new baby and not much sleep, on Monday she put on the birthday party of all birthday parties for Jacob....bouncing castle, water balloon fights, silly string fights, pinata....the whole works! She is amazing!

Jessi and Roger are back at school meetings, and they'll have students next week! They just came back from Ironman Canada and are getting ready for the new school year. They are both amazing teachers, and their students are blessed to have them.

Jacob is headed to kindergarten, Emma to pre-school, Zac to Middle School. Kayla to 5th grade....oh my gosh the list goes on and on!
I start school in mid-September!

All of these happenings are miracles.! As busy as we are, they are easy for me to celebrate!

Where I struggle is seeing EVERYTHING as a miracle! I especially struggle with seeing conflicts as miraculous!

I know intellectually that every conflict is a miraculous opportunity for personal growth.
I remember when my husband Bert and I (now together for 25 years) first had a fight. He was thrilled and told me, "This is so great! Now we will really learn about each other! This will help us to grow and be stronger!" Personally... I thought he was nuts!

My own history with conflict certainly didn't seem miraculous!

Recently I have been trying to be more authentic with people. I have easily talked about what I love and appreciate about them!

On the opposite side of the coin...I have tried to, tactfully and lovingly, share my concerns. Not all of these efforts have been very graceful! Some folks have been surprised (yet open) to my sharing my true feelings. I have also been told that I was wrong and didn't see things correctly. I have had a variety of reactions to my being more open. At times I wished I had just been quiet and swept things under the carpet.

I have always worked on communicating. However telling people what is uncomfortable for me (if something is a pattern) or talking about hurt feelings isn't easy. I teach conflict management, but I still hate to do it!

I never want to make someone mad or irritated. I guess underneath it all I am afraid that I may not matter enough for them to work things out and stay( old family-of-origin pattern).

I have made great progress, and I am AMAZINGLY candid with Bert. He still smiles and congratulates me on being honest and congruent. He is a saint!

Amy is my best role model for handling conflict in an effective manner. She is tactful, accurate, straight forward, sees her part, sees the other person's, and takes the risk. How she does it is miraculous!

My on-going goal is to improve how I do conflict with those I love and care about as well as those I work with. Conflict, when it is handled well, can bring about miracles in relationships!
It can start a healing process, move people toward great learnings, and facilitate forgiveness and new growth!

I'm going to re-read Caring Enough To Confront. That book has been a source of wisdom for me.

Another book, the Bible, talks about taking JOY is ALL things! I'm pretty sure that Jesus didn't leave conflict out of this mandate! Yikes!

Maybe that's what Albert Einstein meant when he said there were two ways to live life...one as if nothing is a miracle...the other as if everything is! Truly seeing conflict as a miracle is an area of growth for me!

I have so much to learn!

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

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A HINT OF FALL IS IN THE AIR!!!!


I love every season. Like children, each has its own blessings and unique qualities.

I love summer because my pace of life becomes more relaxed, more humane, and more time and attention is given to those I love! Summer seems to straighten out my priorities!

I love winter because it's a time of celebration filled with the anticipation of joyous holidays! My child's heart, still very alive in my 60 year old body, can't wait for Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Nutcracker ballet and the first snow of the season.

I love spring because I love to garden, and I celebrate each new leaf, especially as the landscape goes from grey to green!

And then there's fall! Fall is Bert's favorite season. He relishes the colored leaves and sees the leaves fall as a glorious celebration! Fall hold a sense of anticipation for me...a chance for a new school year. Yet for me there has always been a joy and sadness in fall. It has never been easy for me to let go of summer!

This morning I woke up to take my very early morning walk. I'm doing twelve blocks each morning...in the dark around our neighborhood. I walked this morning at 2:30 am. Couldn't sleep. I could FEEL fall in the air as I walked! I could feel gratitude in my heart that I CAN walk!

Lots of thoughts filled my mind and heart as I circled those twelve blocks!

I thought again about Jessi's spectacular race last weekend and the JOY it was to scream and yell for her and make bright signs of encouragement.

I thought about Jacob teaching me about basketball and saying to me, "Nana, smell the goodness of the leaves!".

I thought about Jenna's super soft skin and how fun it is to make her smile!

I thought about tomorrow, August 24th, being Amy's 28th birthday and what I was doing and feeling 28 years ago at this time!

I anticipated my day... having a HOT, not iced, mocha, helping Amy and Ryan finish painting their deck at 7am (I volunteered to do this after all their hard work at the lake), and doing consulting work later in the day!

I had the urge to get my house in order and my teaching outfits organized! That's ALWAYS a sign that fall is approaching!

I imagined doing some creative projects. Monday I got the art supplies to draw our annual, drawn-by-me Christmas card! I'll soon go look for material for baby Jenna's Christmas stocking!

I can feel the desire to plant colorful mums in my planters to replace the tired summer geraniums!

I wondered if more people would be coming back to church and fewer people come to the lake?

I smiled as I thought about switching out the summer pillows in my living room, in pale cream and green tones, and replacing them with colors that reflect a fall mood!

I reviewed in my mind's eye my short and long-term goals. Last night, while talking to Bert after work, I reviewed my goals for this summer (yes, I'm a goal-maker who keeps a written list). It's time to add some new goals as summer fades and fall approaches.

There's a hint of fall in the air.

Summer isn't over, and I will continue to appreciate...
every warm summer day, iced tea, summer shorts, not wearing sweaters and jackets, more time to check blogs, nap taking time, having one not two jobs, meals of salads, and the warmth of the sun on my skin!

I won't ever forget the summer of 2007! I'll soon tuck its memories deep inside my heart!

But I'm very aware that fall is on the way!

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

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Learning More About Me...I've Been Tagged!!!


I've been "Tagged" by my daughter, Jessi. So here are my answers...did you learn anything new about me?

JOBS I'VE HELD:

Office worker at 13, in my parents' business office
Apartment cleaner at my parents' apartments to help earn money for college
Young Life Workcrew- Malibu (Christian Camp in Canada)
Young Life College-Prep Counselor
Young Life Leader- Roosevelt Young Life Club
Youth Group Leader- University Presbyterian Church- Seattle
Teacher and Drama Director- Shorecrest High School
Teacher and Drama Director-Hosterman Jr. High-Minneapolis, Mn.
Antique collector-refinisher/seller
Professor of Communications- Whitworth, Eastern Washington University
Professor of Communications- Spokane Community College-31 years (still do full time)
Counselor- Individual and Family (certified)
Communications and Business Consultant- Owner of Own Business Firm- 30 years (still do full time)

MY GUILTY PLEASURES: (and I no longer feel guilty :))

Getting my nails done
Getting massages
Having a week-long annual spiritual retreat at Cannon Beach (without family)
Buying fresh flowers for my home
Getting a hardback book from one of my favorite authors and NOT waiting for it to come out in paperback! :)

PLACES I HAVE LIVED:

Seattle, Washington (grew up there)
Minneapolis, Minnesota (during Tim's internship and residency)
San Salvador, El Salvador (briefly during med school work down there)
Spokane, Washington

SHOWS I ENJOY:

I LOVE live theater- Nutcracker Ballet (every year at Christmas)
Mama Mia, The Lion King (saw in London) and saw Lion King again in Spokane
The King and I and Fiddler on the Roof- Broadway

I LOVE "vintage"movies-Flower Drum Song, Brigadoon, Three Coins In A Fountain

TV- Home and Garden Channel-Decorating Cents, Designed to Sell

PLACES I'VE BEEN ON VACATION:

Canada
Hawaii- Maui (my parents lived there part of the year)
Mexico
Guatemala
England
El Salvador
New York
Washington DC
Cruises to: Greece and Turkey

FAVORITE FOODS:

Fresh Crab
Lobster
Salmon
Steamed Clams
Linnies chicken and peanut sauce dish (#19)
My Mom's "Bunny Rolls" at Easter
Romaine Salad at Lindamans
Anything Ryan Farrell barbeques!

WEBSITES I VISIT DAILY: (or regularly)

Daily when home:
Jessi's
Amy's

Regularly:
Kathi Best's
Kim Ellis
Lorie's

AWARDS I HAVE WON: (that mean something to me)

Most inspirational Skiier- my first ski class at Buzz Fiorini ski school-my only sports trophy
Rose Maiden- Inspirational student as a senior in high school
Outstanding Teacher- Shorecrest High School
Burlington Northern- Outstanding Teacher Award- Spokane Community College
Gold Medalist- Outstanding Teacher for all four year colleges and universities and community colleges in Washington State
Silver Medalist- Second in the Nation (for the same award)

NICKNAMES:

Punkin (from my Mom and Dad)
Punk (family nickname)

From Bert:
Sweetie- Pie
Sweet ums
Love-of-my-life
Genelda (he's Rudolpho)

From Jessi and Amy:
Mommy
Mama
Mums
Mums-me

From Grandkids:
Nana
Nans
NanaBoppa (as one word from Jacob)

What fun to do this!! It brought back lots of great memories!
Did you learn anything new about me?
God Bless! Love, Linda

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

LIFE LESSONS ON FORGIVENESS


One of the true blessings of a more relaxed summer pace-of-life is the joy of reading and some introspective soul searching. Having that time to reflect on who I am now, where I have been, and where I need to go is a refreshing and yet at times painful "Time out"! :)

Somehow my time at Cannon Beach always produces a "theme". That topic of learning, for both Sharon and me, may come from a speaker or a book we find at the Cannon Beach bookstore that "calls our name!" This year my soul was so hungry for nourishment of all kinds...spiritual nourishment, physical nourishment, intellectual nourishment, and emotional nourishment. Several books provided food for my soul. Forgiveness by Jerry Jampolsky and Grace Eventually by Ann Lamott were mainstays in my Cannon Beach diet. Both of these books focus in part on forgiving yourself and forgiving others. And then the icing on the cake was reading a post my daughter Jessi made on her blog about forgiveness. Yes, it was truly time to once again re-visit that topic.

I must admit that I always ponder how honest to be as I make blog entries. This isn't a diary and it's not, for me, a way to vent personal issues. How much do I say? How vague do I need to be. Yet one of the joys of being 60 is that authenticity seems to lead the way. Personal growth is a goal. So after saying a prayer...here goes.

I loved my parents dearly and they loved me. They showed up in my life in amazing ways. They had my back. I was adored. Yet they were human, just like I am. They both came from very broken backgrounds. My Dad was abandoned early in life and sent on a train at age 8 to live with a father who didn't want him. My Mom's Dad committed suicide after a terrible auto accident and was found by my Mom and her brothers. Their stories of courage, determination, and hard work parallel their stories of pain and abandonment. They had such hurts around family. The common scenario was to have a fight with a sibling or parent, get estranged, stop talking, never deal with conflict, try to drink the pain away (my dad), never truly forgive, and then after their parent's or sibling's death carry a deep, bone marrow depth grief until their own death. My Dad did not speak to his father for 27 years and my Mom didn't speak to one of her brothers for 15 years. The issues that brought about these estrangements were human hurts caused by human people. This pattern terrifies me to the core of my being!

I learned many positive things from my parents. However forgiveness of self and others was not a part of my family culture growing up.

When I was born with one hand, my dad, in deep despair, left. He left my Mom in the hospital to deal with her own grief and he left me. He, to his credit, came back. I carry that "leaving" in my soul. And I have forgiven him. But the little girl inside me still grapples with having a Daddy who totally loved her not as she was. I have spent much of my life trying to be more, to be better so people would love me. I often wondered if just being me was truly enough.

And then in 8th grade I went to Malibu. Recently at church we have sung the song "Thank you God for blessing me!" I have wept each time we have sung it and cried so hard that I thought I might break!

The words of this song have brought back a vivid picture, long forgotten, of that scared 8th grade girl who pretended to be OK on the outside, but was truly damaged and afraid on the inside. At Malibu I learned that God loved me, just as I was. And God forgave me. And Jesus died for me and won't leave me. My whole life changed! This wasn't about theology or which church to go to. This was about feeling and knowing God's love for the first time. I began to "get" that forgiveness and God's grace, while undeserved, were there for the taking. For the first time I forgave myself for having one hand. For the first time I felt "whole!"

Since that time, so many years ago, I have had two goals...and neither are easy. My first is to love the Lord with all of my mind, heart and spirit....and to love my neighbor as myself! I made a sacred commitment to work on both of these goals. While these words may sound like a cliche'...they are the benchmarks of what matters to me. And taking this walk daily is the hardest thing I have ever done!

I am so utterly, horribly and wonderfully HUMAN! I struggle to give my heart over to God and to truly love others (all others) unconditionally. I struggle with forgiving myself for the huge and small mistakes I make. I struggle with the hurts I receive from others.

Just like my parents...I struggle with forgiveness!

Jerry Jampolsky's book Forgiveness: The Greatest Healer of All, that I found at Cannon Beach , has helped me in looking at this topic. In the book he makes several statements about forgiveness that really resonate for me. Here are just a few of them:

What we need to forgive in others may be something in ourselves that we have hidden from our own awareness.

We can choose to have peace of mind as a clear goal.

We are responsible for our own happiness.

Forgiveness means seeing the light of God in everyone-regardless of their behavior.

The happiest marriages are built on a foundation of forgiveness.

To not forgive is a decision to suffer.

To be happy, all I have to do is give up my judgements.

The power of love and forgiveness in our lives can produce miracles.

The key word in learning to forgive is the willingness to forgive.

Knowing that God loves you and forgives you is a starting point for loving and forgiving others.

Lots of food for thought! I know in my heart of hearts that all of these statements are true! Living them just isn't easy.

As Ann Lamott says, "I have so many bad thoughts in my head about people that it could make Jesus drink straight gin from a cat dish!" I LOVE this line!

My critical and judgemental voice sometimes just won't shut up! I'm critical of myself and critical of others. Even if the criticisms aren't voiced ..they are there.

I learned at Cannon Beach, some time ago, that criticism is spiritual murder...it murders the spirit of the person being criticized and it murders your own spirit to be filled with critical thoughts!

As I leave Cannon Beach I set up a yearly goal...a spiritual growth area for me to work on. This year my goal is forgiveness. Not a surface forgiveness, but forgiveness at the core! Who do I need to forgive? Who do I need to ask forgiveness from? How do I start this process? It's a HUGE topic for me!

Some of this journey to forgiveness will be found on this blog. Stay tuned! I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic...over coffee or on this blog.

God Bless! Love Linda

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I AM BLESSED BEYOND MEASURE....Thoughts on This Summer!

It is hard, on one level, to believe that my last post was at the end of the school year. Yet on another level I have been so busy LIVING this summer that I have waited until now to write about it! Here are a few highlights:

1) As soon as school was out and grades were in, it was time to kick into full gear with Ironman on the horizon. The Thursday before Ironman I had time with Emma and then again on Saturday night, before Ironman, we had a "sleep-over" at Nana's. I use the word "sleep" very loosely (she got to sleep at 1am). We had a blast telling stories and getting ready to get up at 4am (or at least I got up then). I'd forgeotten many of the ins and outs of getting ready with a toddler. Jessi did a great job packing Emma's "stuff" but the logisitics of kid-time and kid-stuff are amazing! Ironman was an amazing experience. Emma and I had Tri-Fusion colored balloons (and signs that disappeared before we could use them :( , but the best memories of the day were screaming for Mommy and Daddy, Kathi Best, and Uncle Mark! Seeing them all finish, their dedication and perseverence, was amazing. Doing the day with Emma, was even better! Both of us love to cheer on those we love! I love you Rog, Jessi, and Emma...you rock and I am blown away by your athletic skills and discipline!

2) Following Ironman I went to Seattle for the Women of Faith Conference with Amy, Jenna, and Sharon Hartnett! What a blessing to have time with Amy and Jenna at the Westin Hotel, order room service, walk around Seattle, and go to Women of Faith. I have several vivid memories from past times at Women of Faith. Once Amy was in great pain, prior to her back surgery. The other time she and Ryan were praying non-stop to have a baby! God answered both of these prayers! Being in the arena, listening to so many Christian women singing, clapping, laughing and crying is beyond description for me. Doing that with Amy( and Jenna) and Sharon touched my heart! I felt then, and feel now, "Blessed beyond measure" and so grateful for all that God has done!!! Amy, Jenna, and Sharon...sharing my faith with you blesses me beyond measure!

3) Hoopfest came next and we came back from the Women of Faith Conference to cheer on Ryan and Zac! It's such a treat to see them play basketball. I love cheering on family members, no matter the sport!! I love you Ryan and Zac!

4) The next stop on the summer express was seeing Kayla at Horse Camp! She adores horses and loves to go stay at this ranch for a week to groom and care for her horse of the week. She also gets a chance to take riding lessons! How fun it was to drive out to see her in her final horse show! This brought back memories of my horseback riding days at Jimmy Rainwater's in Seattle!... a great memory and it's fun to watch Kayla do what she loves! Thanks Kayla for sharing your love of horses with me!

4) Then it was up to the lake for the 4th of July celebration! Highlights were decoarating the boat for the boat parade, seeing Jacob and Emma waterski, going on the yellow rubber raft behind the ski boat with Emma, the fireworks, and having relaxed time with family and friends! I'm constanntly amazed at the work Ryan and Amy (and family) have done up there. Everything from re-structuring the beach, to a HUGE weeding/ bark project, to building several slate walks, to curtains inside, to getting the rugs cleaned...the list goes on and on! There is no way Bert and I could keep this up without their help! Thank you Ryan, Amy and your whole family for all of your help! We love you!

5) Following more lake time and consulting and doing workshops for businesses, I headed to Cannon Beach for my yearly spiritual retreat with Sharon Hartnett! This really is personal restoration time for me! Highlights were GREAT and honest talks with my wonderful buddy Sharon, time for naps and more naps, walking, walking, and more walking, reading Ann Lamott's books (in fact reading 9 books while I was there), time on the ocean, and time to really reflect on my faith. I did LOTS of self-care and even had TWO massages in one week! I came back rested physically, spiritually, and emotionally! Thanks Sharon for being such a great friend!

6) Next, I loved celebrating Jessi's 30th birthday, post-Ironman! I had such fun going to lunch with her at Twiggs, and decorating a series of boxes and scapbooking messages on what turned out to be almost a wedding-cake sized present. I wanted each box to celebrate a part of who Jessi is as she starts her 30th year on the planet!(home, family, pamper yourself, athlete, faith...)! I was 30 when I had Jessi, so Jessi being 30 has lots of meaning for me! If you want to know what my daughter was like at age 4...just look at Emma!
Happy 30th sweetie! I love you!

7) Special time with my grandchildren and my daughters is a WONDERFUL part of the summer for me!!! I've had time to "snorkel" with Jacob, make trips to Ben Franklin, and be amazed at his alien drawings! I've had time to hold Jenna and caress her sweet face! I've had time to play castle with Emma, have lunch at Nordies and see a movie downtown. I've had time to watch Flicka with Kayla and talk to Zac, and I've had time to talk to Amy and Jessi (just about my favorite thing to do)! I love you all!

8) Special time with my sweetie Bert is also another wonderful part of the summer! Lately we've eaten in some new restaurants, enjoyed time at the lake, and watched movies that we both enjoy. We've also loved going to church together and rocking out to the gospel choir! And of course we talk endlessly....about life, faith, our kids and grandkids, and how blessed we are!

Today is August 1st, and there are several weeks left before summer winds down! I'm preparing for our annual family garage sale and relishing the time left before school starts! I've loved this summer and I'll cherish each day I have left before school begins again and my pace of life moves into high gear!

Recently Amy told me about a person at Safeway who when asked how he was said ..... "Blessed beyond measure!" That phrase really sums up my time this summer! I feel blessed beyond measure!

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

"Just Plain Hard"...

                  Stand up straight and                   realize who you are,                   that you tower over your               ...