Sunday, December 28, 2008



Aloha! We're feeling really blessed and sending you loves and hugs!

God Bless, Linda

Friday, December 19, 2008

WHITE SHOES, FOUR FEET OF SNOW, CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS and A TRIP TO MAUI!


It is December 19th and we have more snow on our deck than my Spokane memory can ever recall. Winter is here in full force, God has created a winter wonderland, and there WILL be a white Christmas in Spokane this year! All cause for celebration! With several "snow days" in a row, and school cancelled, vacation has started for so much of my family.

I LOVE Christmas... I love everything about it. But we won't be in Spokane for Christmas this year, and I have mixed feelings about that since I will miss traditions created over years and years. I'm not complaining, however, since Bert and I are headed to Maui, Hawaii!

Why now? Why go? Why miss out on four feet of snow?

As much as a part of my heart wants to be here, we planned this trip a year ago for a number of important reasons. Here are just a few:

* Bert and I are coming up on our 25th wedding anniversary! It's hard to believe, but 25 years!
Those years have been amazing, and I am grateful for every one of them! We have shared raising two daughters, our careers, our spiritual lives, our friends and a HUGE emphasis on family. On occasion, Bert and I have taken "couples only" trips together (several fabulous and relationship-growing cruises years ago) and those renewed and regenerated our marriage. Truth be told however, for much of those 25 years Bert has taken a back seat to what I think the kids need, what the grandkids need, and what I need. He has done so with a willing heart and because he knows how much I love my girls, my grandchildren, my jobs and my friends. But what I know for sure is that it is HIS turn to have my undivided attention. If we are in Spokane, that won't happen at Christmas. So we are going to the land of sun and FUN for some well-earned and precious couple's time!

* My parents bought a condo in Maui and lived there about 7 months of the year during their retirement. Some of my fondest family memories at Christmas time are going with Jessi and Amy to visit Nana and Grandpa Mark in Maui. Whenever we would arrive at the condo, number 414 at the Royal Mauian Resort, my Dad's white shoes would be by the door. My parents worked very hard all of their lives, but they were frugal at heart having lived through the depresion. My dad took impeccable care of those shoes. He put white show polish on them about every week. They symbolized, to me, who my Dad was and many of his values. Seeing those sparkling, white shoes outside the door of #414 was my official welcome to Maui!

Those shoes are now on a shoe shelf in my upstairs closet, and I see them every day.

My Dad died in Maui in 1991, and while I came back to Maui, one of my all-time favorite spots in the world, to have time with my Mom...I never had closure with my Dad's death over there. So...I am going back to Maui to give my heart peace and to have put Hawaiian leis in the ocean for both my Mom and Dad. I miss them every day.

* Some time back, Amy and Ryan started to talk about going to Hawaii and asked if we might like to go along. They planned to go after Christmas. Their kind invitation got us thinking that we could have time alone if we went early and then time with part of our beloved family. Their desire to include us was an invitation we couldn't resist! So that invitation was really the starting point for planning this trip.

As we leave tomorrow we will miss our Christmas morning time with Rog, Jessi, and Emma. We always cherish having Christmas breakfast with them each year and bringing Nana's special breakfast treat to the celebration. We will miss family time with Amy and family on Christmas day. We will miss seeing our friends and extended family at Christmas events and celebrations. And we will miss being at our very special church to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

But the white shoes call me to Maui...and we'll be thinking and loving all of you...and sending a..Melei Kalliki Maka..or Merry Christmas (Hawaiian style) your way.

Thank you for all of your love and support. You mean the world to us!

May God Bless you and keep you. May He make His face to shine upon you and give you peace. And may you know in your deepest heart-of-hearts how much He loves you!

I do too! Merry Christmas!
Linda

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A GOLD MEDALLION MOMENT... I Am Truly Stunned!




I have been here before. In fact I have been here before... many times over. It's the end of the quarter, and 91 dearly-loved students are moving on. Granted, some will be back next quarter, yet the unique and magical combination of students that makes up a class has disbanded. As always... I am almost rendered speechless.

This week I have been up at 1am almost every morning just grading and grading and grading. Their final projects have been superb showing both critical thinking and deep feeling. Their learnings bring tears to my eyes! Their take home finals, now completed, are a testimony to the profound changes that have taken place. I'm the facilitator and cheerleader...they do this courageous, college-level work.

Many students started the quarter not believing that they were capable. Most are leaving knowing that with showing up and doing the hard work that they can achieve their most treasured dreams!
They all have gifts, they just have to find them and then use them.

I am so honored to be a teacher, to be THEIR teacher! They will always be my students.
I am thrilled that this marathon, this Ironwoman-type event that we call "the end of the quarter" is almost over. The grades are in. Now I have to clean my room and get ready for next quarter.

In the midst of all of this chaos I started my every two year tenured-professor performance review with my new dean. I told her that I was born to do this. She agreed with me. God made me with a teacher's heart beating in me. I knew when I was in first grade that I wanted to be a teacher. Not for one moment in all these years have I doubted that this was the honored job I was created to do. I wasn't meant to just give students material to learn, I was there to also love them and believe in them. I'm their academic "advocate"!

Not only was this week about students leaving and meeting with my dean...something else happened that has left me stunned and amazed! A magic moment took place for me.

On Monday, right before my 8:30 class was about to start, I looked up to see Gary Johns, head of the Criminal Justice Program, standing at my door. Gary, being a police officer and teacher, looked solemn. However, he always looks solemn. So I went out in the hall to say "Hi!"...wondering what he had in mind and why he was there. This year, as always, I've had lots of law enforcement students, so I imagined he wanted to talk about one of them.

Oddly, Gary just kept looking at me...a bit awkward I might add. He then said, "I would like to shake your hand!" Ok, I'm thinking.. I have to start class and you pick this moment to shake my hand? However, Gary is my buddy and I love his students... so with a grin on my face I extended my hand into his. At that moment I felt a round-shaped object go into my hand. As I pulled my hand back I saw a gold medallion. Gary said, "This is what we give our top student in Criminal Justice. On the outside of the medallion it lists qualities we want our students to have...courage, commitment, integrity and honor."

He went on to say,"The Criminal Justice students and faculty voted who should get this medallion for 2008 and we voted for you to get it. You, Linda, embody all of these qualities and show them every day to our students." I was stunned then and now. Tears flowed. This "Gold Medallion Moment" that took place as I was about to say goodbye to my students...felt like it was God's way of saying to me..."Keep doing this! It matters!"

While I am bone-weary and beyond exhausted, I wouldn't trade my job as a teacher for anything, not anything!

So as fall quarter 2008 comes to a close, I am relieved and at the same time my heart is broken as I miss my students already. The gold medallion sits on the table by my coffee cup as a reminder of an amazing time in my life! I will treasure it forever!

Thanks for listening!

God Bless!
Love Linda

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

SQUEEZE IN NEXT TO SOMEONE, Arm-To-Arm


Some weeks life's learnings cascade down on me as if I was sitting under a waterfall, almost drowning. Since it is the end of the quarter there is little time to stop, pause, and take it all in. No doubt I'll sort them out one-by-one during Christmas vacation. Yet for now it is enough to know that they are coming for a reason....to teach me to be a better person, a more compassionate human being.

Not long ago Scott Finnie visited my Intercultural Communication class. We were talking about the impact of our ethnicity, the color of our skin, on how others perceive us and judge us. Scott blessed us by telling his "story." As always I was brought to tears. How is it, I wondered out loud, that this amazingly kind person, this valedictorian, student body president, and gifted athlete had to endure such hatred, simply because his skin is black and his hair curls differently than mine.? And how, after so much unwarranted hatred was flung his way, is he now the most compassionate person I know?

Scott talked about "DIGNA", the Latin root of the word dignity. He defined dignity as the God-given right that each human has to be treated with kindness and respect. They are, after all...ALL of them, God's children and therefore worthy. He said these words with such conviction that I saw tears in the eyes of my basketball players. I saw tears in the eyes of my hippie student, a young man with green hair who often wears a skirt to class. WE are all in the same room and we all co-exist and give each other "digna".

I can't seem to stop crying this morning because as I look at my own life these past few months I feel as if God is tugging on my heart to step out and show more "digna", more respect, more compassion ...to EVERYONE! And I do mean everyone! Those that I do not know who hold signs on the street asking for help, those that I pass in the halls at SCC everyday, those in my family who feel distant and separated from me, those in my life where there are unresolved hurts and issues, often from long ago...and i don't know how to "fix" any of the hurts. There is a small "i" in that sentence because "i" feel about that small in the midst of all the hurt and sorrow in the world, and some of it is at my very doorstep.

One of my favorite quotes from Mother Teresa says:

We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked, homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved, uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.

As Anne Lamott says, "Help God! Open my heart!"

I am reading the book.. Life is a Verb-37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally.
I cry every time I read a story in this book that is changing my life. This morning I read the story "Squeeze In Next To Someone, Arm-To- Arm".

In a nutshell, it's the story of author Marion Woodman, who asks the question..."How are we changing the people around us by how we respond to them, or don't?" How do we hold "presence" for others? How do we hold love for others, with no agenda? Who, as we were growing up, really saw us and heard us, without asking us to perform up to their standards? Who loved us and asked nothing in return?

During a stay in India, many years ago, Marion saw these questions acted out in real life. She was very, very ill with dysentery and captive in her hotel room for several weeks. She could feel her life-blood draining with this illness. Finally, desperate to escape her room, she gingerly made her way to the lobby of the hotel and sat on a sofa, where she tried to write her husband a letter.

Although there were other seats available, a very large brown woman came and sat down right next to Marion, with their arms touching. She invaded Marion's space. Marion moved over, so did the woman. The pattern happened again and again. Marion was too ill to move to another sofa so she finally gave up and let the woman be right next to her, arm-to-arm.

This same pattern happened, much to Marion's amazement, day after day. Finally Marion relaxed, stopped moving away, and realized what a nice, warm big arm the woman had. They had no common language so they sat in silence. Marion said that her soul was touched, not just her body, by this woman's kind presence. Marion's health began to improve.

This couch dance continued for a week until one day a man appeared as the two women finished their silent, warm-armed vigil. He said to Marion, "You are all right now. My wife won't come back tomorrow." Marion asked him, "Why is she here in the first place?"

Marion was unprepared for his quiet, simple answer. "I saw you were dying and sent her to sit with you. I knew the warmth of her body would bring you back to life."

It took a moment for the magnitude of his message and the enormity of what these two strangers had done for her to sink in.

Suddenly Marion knew that the woman HAD saved her life by taking the time just to be with her. And just as important, Marion had been willing to receive her kindness.

That is what it means to hold presence for others. That is what "digna" is all about.

So I ask myself, through all of my tears, who today does God want me to "hold presence for"? How do I share this profound lesson with my beloved students? How much more kindness would there be in the world if we could just do this for one person each day...just be there for them and hold them in a loving, arm-to-arm presence?

Albert Schweitzer said:
"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flames by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."

Thank you Scott Finnie for teaching me about "digna" and thank you Marion Woodman for sharing your story about the gift to your life when a beautiful large brown woman squeezed in next to you and arm-to-arm brought you back to life!

God Bless!
Love Linda

Saturday, November 22, 2008

LOOKING AT LIFE: A REVIEW OF THE RECENT HIGHS and LOWS



When I look at the calendar I am stunned. How in the heck can it be November 22nd?? This fall has flown by, and as I take a breath today... I look back and look ahead!

I love it when Jessi does the "High-Low" game with her students. It's an opportunity to get a concise view of what is really going on in their lives. It's self-disclosure that seems pretty non-threatening. I've "borrowed" her great teaching tool, and use it often in my classroom and consulting.

Today I'll alternate some of the recent "highs and lows" for me during this fall:

HIGH:
Every time I see my precious grandchildren I feel like it is the best moment of my life! I adore them, and they warm my heart. I loved taking Emma to the opening night of High School Musical 3 and having her stay overnight! I've loved time with Jacob and his recent overnight visit! Watching him play basketball with Boppa is such a treat! And then of course there is the precious Bitsy...aka Jenna Farrell...aka cutest toddler on the planet! Oh my gosh, she has stolen our hearts! Everything she does is the cutest thing I've ever seen. Seeing Zac and Kayla, and my other grandchildren, as they grow up so beautifully is amazing too!

I feel so, so blessed to be a Nana and to have my grandbabies close at hand!

LOW:
Just the thought of one of my beloved daughters being hurt or ill brings me to tears. To have one of them have a serious accident put my heart in my throat and stopped me from breathing fully for several weeks. Jessi had a serious cycling accident. When cycling with some of herTri Fusion teammates, and going down a hill really, really fast....think 30 plus mph, she hit a deer (or the deer hit her). In any case, I received a call that she was in an ambulance headed to the trauma unit at Sacred Heart Hospital. She is doing much better physically, but struggling with short term memory loss and the kind of spins you get after a serious concussion.

It's hard to explain, but my Mommy heart, the heart moms ALWAYS have for their children, has been somehow on-hold and barely beating for the past few weeks. I have felt like I was in a bit of a fog. Yes, I was going to both of my full time, wonderful jobs...but a part of me was worrying about Jessi all the time, even in my dreams. A part of me was conscious of her all day long.

Both of my precious girls have had some very tough moments in their lives, some emotional heart ache. But seeing Jess Jess in that hospital, and knowing that I'd trade places with her in an instant if I could, made me realize that no matter how old or capable your adult children are...they are ALWAYS your babies...in your heart!

HIGH:
I always get to the college at the crack of dawn, and I'm usually the first one in the building, besides the janitors. I use that early morning time to prepare for my classes and grade papers. Recently, when I was in my classroom grading, listening to James Taylor's latest CD, and sipping my Starbucks...a former student walked through my classroom door. He was someone I had last spring who is now in the Physical Therapy Assistant Program at Spokane Falls. He grinned and said, "I knew I'd find you here at this hour!" He stopped by just to say "Thanks!" and that the interpersonal communication class he took from me "Saved my life!" He told me how he used the skills every day and what a huge difference it made. He gave me a quick hug and off he went so he'd be on time to his 8:30m class at the Falls. After he left I started to cry...I felt so blessed to see him and hear that he was using his new skills. I was touched to tears that he cared enough to go out of his way to let me know...what a definite "high"!!

LOW:
My schedule has been too jam packed all fall. I've joked at school that I needed roller skates just to get to all the meetings that are going on. Like so many other organizations and businesses, we are making HUGE budget cuts, many of which will hit hard, especially in 2009. There is an air of deep sadness at the college, especially among the folks whose jobs are on the line. I have no idea where we can take all of this money from since we are already on a shoe string budget. My goal is to do what is best for students ....so we preserve the classes and programs they need. Truly though it's sad to have worked so hard for years and years and see much of that hard work about to be cut.

And I'll end this post with a HIGH:
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I am so grateful to God for my life and the people I love with all of my heart! I am grateful beyond words for my hubby Bert. I am so, so grateful for my precious daughters Jessi and Amy and their special families. I'm grateful for work I love that sustains my soul! I am grateful for so many friends whose caring for me warms my heart. I am grateful for all of my amazing and courageous students who inspire me to teach! I am grateful for my health! I am grateful for my church and all of the folks there who have reached out to love Bert and me. And most of all...I am so grateful that God loves me, just as a I am!

So today I am sending you a warm hug as well! Thanks for reading this blog and making a comment! You are a blessing to me, and I am grateful for YOU!
God Bless!
Love Linda

Friday, November 07, 2008

Read At Your Own Risk: God Says "Yes" To Me!



Anne Lamott is one of my favorite authors. Her irreverent and eccentric look at life is like being in a Chinese antique store...when you read her it's like finding small, unique and thoroughly divine treasures in unexpected places!

Anne's view of "God" is outside of the mainstream view. She talks to God...while in her car, going to the bathroom..and her language with God is much like talking to her best girlfriend. Reading Anne is refreshing to my soul! It's almost like God saying to me..."It's OK Linda! You are a Christiam, even though your faith may not be exactly like anyone else's...

Recently I've been reading "Life Is A Verb" by Patty Digh. Perfect timing since my life FEELS upside down right now. I am at once ecstatic that Barack Obama is President, and in the next minute I feel a great sadness and worry about my family, my students, and those I love!

What I know for sure is that it is OK to be wherever I am! That is a life long lesson, well learned!
Don't pretend! Don't pretend you are OK, when you are not! Don't pretend you are "fine" if you are not! Don't pretend you aren't angry, when you have steam coming out your ears!

So...this is a DON'T PRETEND blog entry!

I learned about "pretending" in my family-of-origin. Pretend that Dad doesn't drink too much. Pretend that your marriage is OK, when it is far from OK. Pretend that you are happy, when you really are sad. The days I have pretended feel like days that are lost to me. The days when I am authentic and congruent, and tell my own truth, feel like days well lived!

I've have also learned that not everyone wants to hear what is really going on inside of me and outside of me. So I pick carefully where I share my deepest truths. I save those moments for those I hold most dear, those I trust with my heart. I am selective about my deepest self-disclosures! I don't share it all publically. Certainly not in a blog.

But on some days, when I feel weighed down by the enormity of personal growth I'm experiencing, I put some, just a few, of the learnings down to record the journey.

Lately, in Anne Lamott fashion, I have been talking to God non-stop! I talk to God in my car, in my heart, in my head...and I have been asking some tough questions. I know that God loves me! That is never in doubt. How God wants to use me, and how to be with certain people I am angry at, is always in doubt.

My conversation with God goes something like this..."OK God, how could he do this to her???That is so, so mean! She is so wonderful and this breaks her heart. Doesn't he see what he is doing? Can't you do something God to change his heart??? Could you please do that now..or soon.. OK... could you please do it while I am still alive to see it?? OK, I guess i don't get to dictate the timing? OK..I know I can trust you and put this in Your hands!"

While reading the book "Life Is A Verb", and going through the daily exercises, I ran into this poem called "God Says Yes to Me." As I read it aloud I started to cry and then bawl. I was OK with calling God "she", especially since I miss my Mom so much. I needed God's warm and nurturing touch on my heart.

Here's that poem:

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
you can do exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don't paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I'm telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

I miss being called honey or sweetcakes. I miss summer and times that felt carefree. I miss viewing life through rose-colored glasses, when I could trust the people who took care of people's pension funds and not constantly worry about the people in my church not having jobs and enough to eat.

OK God..I know I can't fix it all, but I believe You can!

So I begin today knowing that God loves me and says "YES!" to me. It is time for me to say "YES!" to every aspect of my life, no matter how hard it is! As Natalie Goldberg says:

Our task is to say a holy yes to the real things of our life!

OK Natalie...OK God....I'll give that a shot today!

Thanks for listening!
God Bless!
Love Linda

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

PLAIN AND SIMPLE: I LOVE THIS COUNTRY!!


I chose to write this post before the media blitz regarding this election hits the fan. I chose to write this post while I sit by the fire, sip my cup of coffee, and reflect on this election day, November 4th, 2008.

What comes up as the song in my heart is that...plain and simple... I love this country I live in, the United States of America!

While this country is far from "perfect," there are SO many things I am grateful for about the good old USA!!Here are a few of the things that I love:

* I love that we get to vote! I lived for some time in El Salvador...and fair voting just doesn't happen there!

* I love that we have free speech! As often as someone may not say what I like to hear, I love that in this country they have the right to say most things!

* I love that people have the courage to run for public office! As I woke up at 2am, I wondered if John McCain and Barack Obama had slept at all. What brave and courageous Americans that they were willing to run for public office!

* I love that I come from a military family, people who devoted years of their lives to helping this country to be free! My Dad served in WWII (and was away from his new bride for three years), and my husband Bert was a paratrooper in the Army!

* I love that MILLIONS of Americans will come out to vote today: black and white, brown and tan, Republicans, Democrats, Constitutionalists, Libertarians... the list is endless, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, straights and gays, rich and poor...the melting pot of this nation I love will have its say today!

* I love that tonight millions and millions of people will be glued to their tv sets waiting in anticipation for who will be the next leader of our country!

* I love that when we have a new President, no matter who is elected, we will work on reconciliation and uniting our country again, as we do after every election!

When my parents were alive, they ALWAYS had an election eve party. While they were staunch Republicans, they invited all their friends to come and watch the results. I heard differences expressed respectfully and lots of laughter and good natured ribbing! They all dressed up, drank champagne, and toasted the new President, no matter who he was!

On days like this, as every day, I miss my parents more than words can ever express! They would have loved this election!

So today, and everyday, I LOVE this country. While I want to see lots of changes, I am so grateful that I live here. This morning Bert and I sang "God Bless America"...as we sat in our chairs sipping coffee! Tears rolled down our cheeks as we sang those words! They came straight from our hearts!

God Bless America, and may God Bless YOU!
Love Linda

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

PRAYERS FOR JESSI!

Sunday started out like any other day...well, sort of...

Bert and I live in a prime location on the south hill where thousands of cars go by daily (the Ray/ Thor corridor). Our town house overlooks the city and our view is that the traffic is just part of urban life. But because we are so visible to so many, we began to make HUGE Obama signs to put on our property. They are average size campaign signs, except that there is only one letter per sign. So, 5 signs spell out OBAMA. Smaller signs say...Obama 08 and Obama, Yes We can!!

We painted the background of each sign either bright red or blue and I cut out huge white foam core letters. We got patriotic balloons and set up the signs. We held the smaller ones and waved to the people going by. It was sunny, we had lots of laughs and some solemn moments at the reactions of those passing by.. some honking, some thumbs up, some thumbs down, some horrible comments, and some fingers pointed in an ill mannered form. The racist comments (by only a few) were the hardest to hear and see, as were the snubs from people going to a near-by church.

To counteract the negativity...I went back inside and made a new sign which said.."GOD BLESS YOU...no matter who you are voting for!"

I knew that feelings run strong in this election and that the reaction might be mixed, but I was pleased to do what I could for our candidate.

Since I had other errands to run, I brought the signs in (we were told by a friend they would be gone in a flash)...and headed to the store. Bert went to church, and I was about to settle down with coffee to get caught up on grading.

While in the car and headed home, I noticed a voicemail message. The voice wasn't familiar. He said he was Steve, Jessi's friend from TriFusion (her triathlon club) and that he didn't want to alarm me, but that Jessi was in an ambulance headed to the trauma unit at Sacred Heart Hospital after a cycling accident. While cycling at about 25 mph with her TriFusion friends, a deer veered out in front of Jessi and she hit it or swerved to avoid it, the details were unclear.

My Mommy heart stopped beating as I heard this message. I felt like I couldn't breathe. Truth be told, I still, feel that way.

I raced to Sacred Heart, praying aloud in the car, to trauma room 3. There was Jessi in a neck brace with huge abrasions down her back and they were checking to see if she could move her limbs. Thank God she could. Her TriFusion buddies from the cycling event were there, as was her Dad, Tim. Rog was in Arizona where he had been doing a triathlon race and people were trying to reach him.

I'll let Jessi tell the trauma room story when she is able (complete with pictures). There were some funny TriFusion antics that kept her laughing. While I was grateful for the levity, my heart was in my throat.

On the up side, Jessi's CT scans showed no broken bones or huge skull injury. On the down side she sustained a serious concussion from hitting her head as she flew off of her bike. Can you say...thank God she was wearing a helmet, which cracked in the process...

She is very, very, VERY sore and it will be awhile until we know the full extent of her injuries. But she is one tough cookie and in time will get there.

As Tim (her Dad), Amy (her sister) and I sat alone with her and held her hands and stroked her hair I was so grateful that our family (the old family unit we once were)was together and supporting each other. We are all totally comfortable being together and we all still love each other...and post-divorce that is a HUGE blessing. Tim and I have new families now, but our "old" family unit can still rally when needed!!

Today I am missing school to go be with Jessi. She needs to have someone to prepare meals and help with doses of medication. Amy was there yesterday with Jenna and today I'll be there in the am and Tiffany will be there in the afternoon. Just being there with her will be a blessing.
It brings back memories of when she was sick or hurt when she was little and I made her chicken soup, sang to her, and held her hand.

Life can change in a moment. Please put my precious daughter Jessi in your prayers for a full recovery. I am SO grateful to God that she is still alive!
God Bless!
Love Linda

Saturday, October 25, 2008

LET'S HEAR IT FOR..."High School Musical 3"!!!


A quote From Emma about High School Musical 3!:

"Hi! I'm Emma! and I went to High School Musical 3 with my Grandma. It was very fun. We went to Nordstoms for dinner and I had Mac and Chesse. We also had ice cream at the movie. I stayed overnight with my Grandma which was fun! I keep tickling her...It was silly. We have laughed all morning! It was funny. She calls me Babushka because my hair is all over. We laugh some more! and we laughed some more!!...all morning! At the movie theater I got a little dalmatian puppy names Dao. Love Emma"

When I saw the adverstisement on television that "High School Musical 3" was coming and that you might want to get your tickets early...I could smell an adventure in the air. My precious granddaughter Emma has loved the other two movie productions so I wanted to plan a "Nana and Emma Adventure!"

I invited Emma to go and then to have an overnight with us as well. She was ecstatic about the idea and bubbled over with enthusiasm in her cell phone call to me.
Amy helped me get the tickets online (thanks Aim!) and Boppa and I picked up the tickets early on Friday.

I picked Emma up after work, did some fun hanging out at Fred Meyer where we got Dao a dalmatian puppy, and then headed downtown for dinner at Nordies! Emma has impecable manners and is SO fun to do things with. Then it was almost time for the movie to start so we had fun making cell phone calls to family to let them know where we were and what we were doing!! We got our movie treats and then settled in for some amazing singing and dancing!!!

We loved this movie, but even more we loved our time together. After the movie Emma wanted to have a slumber party in our living room so she camped out on the sofa. Since she wanted me close, I was on the upholstered ottoman (formerly a coffee table) next to her. Wish we had a picture of that one.! :) We watched another Barbie movie before drifting off to sleep.

The bottom line of this story is the total JOY it is for me to just be with my grandchildren! Doing the simplest thing makes me smile. Emma is a pistol, a bright light, and a mini-me of what her Momma Jessi was like as a little girl. I smile and chuckle when I am with Emma partly because it reminds me of all the fun I had with Jess Jess!

When someone asks me what my weekend was like, I may just break out in song and start dancing!! I wouldn't have missed this adventure with Emma for anything!!

Love you peaches, my little babushka!! You rock!
Love always! xoxoxoxoxoxox your Nana

Thursday, October 23, 2008

LIFE IS A VERB- 37 Days To Wake up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally!



I love new books. I ESPECIALLY love new books that fall into my lap at just the right time. Those are the kind of books that speak to my heart and soul and are so engrossing that I get up at 2am to sip my coffee, sit by the fire, and soak up the gifts that book brings to me. Perfect timing, perfect tidbits of wisdom.

I like books that challenge me to do more and be more than I currently am. I like books that inspire me to grow. I like books that are so relevant that I find myself talking outloud and almost having a conversation with the author while I am reading her musings.

One of the books that has captured me of late is "life is a verb" by Patti Dign.

In the book's prologue, Patti has a quote that really hit home for me:

Time only seems to matter when it is running out

-Peter Strup

She explains that on October 24th, 2003 her beloved step father was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died just thirty-seven days later. Patti helped him live, and helped him die, and afterwards she was left with this question:

What would I be doing today if I had only thirty-seven days to live?

This question has been on my heart. I recently have been to several funerals for several dear friends, both of whom died of breast cancer. Another dear friend I have known since high school, whose name is also Linda, is gravely ill and fighting for her life. My dear friend Lorie has cancer and just got back some positive scan results. I literally broke into sobs when I read her email to me. I felt like my heart would break if there was bad news for this mother of four precious children. I was so grateful to God that she had a step in a positive direction. Life is tenuous, life is precious. But it is easy to get caught up in the furious activity of life and forget the value of every day. Life is short and I want to live it fully!

But deep inside, truth be told, I know that we are all dying. Each day passes so quickly! The weeks fly by. Another fall is here and the gorgeous leaves are starting to drift quietly to the ground. I am 61. How many falls do I have left?

I recently went to a church conference with my beloved daughter Amy. I had an awesome time at the conference and even had a massage before we went. But when I looked at the picture of myself from the conference, I saw that even in all the fun and learnings...I looked weary.

It has been an emotional fall on many levels...visits from family, friends being ill, wonderful students, but an exhauting schedule. The word busy seems to come up in my daily conversations as a way to describe everything. Hmmmm...I wonder if my life is a bit unbalanced...again? :)

I want to hit the pause button of my life.

Tomorrow is October 24th, 2008. I will begin Patti Dign's challenge to take 37 days to explore and try on six practices:
intensity, inclusion, intimacy, intuition, and intention.

This book tells dynamic stories and has action challenges. It feels like the right book...for the right time in my life! It fits with the quote I love by by H.H. Williams that says...

"Furious activity is no substitute for understanding".

It's time to slow down the furious activity in my own life, take a breath, and grow in some new and challenging ways. I'll keep you posted on my learnings over the next 37 days!

God Bless!
Love Linda

Sunday, October 19, 2008

TODAY'S LIFE LESSON: Don't Underestimate the Children of Today...a "Must See" For Every Teacher and Parent!

Theresa Waco is one of my former students and we have stayed connected since she left SCC. She graduated from Gonzaga, got her Masters degree there, and she has been a special education teacher at Hamblin Elementary School for a number of years. Theresa is not just a former student, she is also my good friend.

She recently sent me this video clip, along with a personal message for me as her teacher. Both the clip and her message to me brought me to tears.This video clip, in my opinion, is a "must see" for every teacher, parent, grandparent, pastor...anyone who knows or works with children.

Children are insightful. They have messages we ALL need to hear. They are courageous and truth tellers! Hang on to your hats as you listen to one amazing young man who talked to the ENTIRE Dallas school district at their orientation! This made my day, my week, and my year!
THIS is why I am a teacher!

Enjoy!
God Bless!
Love Linda

http://www.dallasisd.org/keynote.htm

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wonderful Moments to Relish...Counting 13 Blessings!

In times that are volatile and the stock market is going crazy, I love to sit by the fire and think about the constants in my life. These are blessings that bring me great joy, no matter what the outside world has going on.

Here are 13 blessings I am reminded of today:

1) Having Jacob overnight and making "real lemonade" from the lemons we grew in my sunroom. Jacob and Boppa now have a secret receipe that rivals any lemonade you can find in the country!

2) Going to Emma's soccer game and seeing her score 5, that's right 5 goals! She buzzed around the soccer field like a happy bee and made goal-making look easy. The grin on her beautiful face was priceless.!

3) Going to one of Zac's football games, or Kayla's soccer games, and see them play a sport that they love!

4) Seeing my new students get to really know each other and have fun in my class!

5) Holding Bert's hand as we walk anywhere that we are together. I adore that man!

6) Appreciating my healthy body. I have lost two friends to cancer in the last two weeks and I am going to a funeral tomorrow. I am so sad to lose Audrey and Dee and so blessed to have my health!

7) Loving my country and looking forward to casting my ballot in this election!

8) Going to the BBQ at Jacob's school and hearing him recite all the states in the union in less than 20 seconds!

9) Hearing the gospel choir at my church belt out the most amazing songs!

10) Hearing Amy or Jessi's voice on the telephone!

11) Having someone I care about comment on my blog!

12) Remembering that God loves me...no matter what!

May you count your blessings today!

God Bless!
Love linda

Saturday, October 04, 2008

LOVE LIFE: Love Today, Even When It Is Confusing!




"Here I am,
Where I ought to be."

-Louise Erdrich

This last week was wonderful and at the same time confusing. It seemed to be full of life lessons that came back for a "re-visit". My level of frustration was something I prayed about all week long. "Lord, give me patience"..."Hi! It's me again! :) ...please give me more patience." I often had a hard time rolling with the punches, some of the potholes in the road, changes in schedule, and unexpected events. I felt taken aback by some recent communication with people I care about and wondered.."What just happened here?" Why the bite in their tone with me? Was it me? Was it them?

While my "exterior, presented self" may have looked calm and collected, my "interior, real self" was in a fair amount of turmoil.

It's time to take stock of what happened this week. I literally ran all week. It's Saturday morning and I almost feel breathless.

Almost every day I got up at 3:00am to grade papers, and still couldn't get it all done quite the way I would have wanted. I ran to teaching , I ran to consulting, I just ran and ran. And while the week was full of blessings, growth and positives...there was an undercurrent of unrest and dis-ease.

I'm not sure if the floundering and sinking stock market, a "bailout" for large corporations who had poor money management, or listening to the Vice Presidential debate set the tone for the last few days. People at school reported having a somber attitude or were worried about if they would actually get to retire. Politics seemed at an all time low, and I felt if I saw another negative Dino Rossi commercial (or billboard) ...I would scream

I'm an independent voter and a political activist. I take voting very seriously. At 61 I have waited my whole life for a viable, smart, articulate female candidate, hopefully for President, but Vice President would work too. Having the current Republican candidate for Vice President be the chosen female voice is almost more than I can stand. This is someone who wanted to ban a book without reading it. This is someone who when asked about her running mate's credentials said, "I'll research that and get back to you." This is someone who, when well coached, can get through a debate, but chooses to answer only the questions she wants to answer. This is someone who, when talking off the cuff and isn't rehearsed , thinks "We might just have to go to war with Russia." This is someone who wants to continue the Iraq war until we have victory, no matter what it costs the American people. This is someone who is gutsy, true, but at the same time, in my opinion, not all that smart.

I wish my Mom, who was my role model for being a political activist, was alive so we could talk politics together and I could get her take on all of this.

I plan to vote for Senator Obama and Senator Biden, but I'd love to be voting for a smart female candidate too. They are out there and I hope their time comes during my lifetime.

When confusing and frustrating weeks happen, and like everyone else I have them, I try to get up early on a Saturday, fix myself a cup of coffee, sit in the quiet, have prayer time, and seek God's guidance. I then read my book called "Love Life!"

My quote for today is:

Here I am
Where I ought to be.

Darn it! I'm supposed to be where I am, learning these hard lessons. There is no escaping the truth. The life lessons fall as much during frustrating and confusing weeks as they do when things feel like smooth sailing...maybe even more. Every bump and pothole in the road, that jars me, is a chance to learn about flexibility, giving up control, trusting God, letting go of perfection, forgiving myself, forgiving others...the list is endless.

So for today ...I will take a deep breath, really taste this coffee, absorb the lessons, and let the week go. I will "let go and let God." I may even, on this rainy Saturday, take a nap by the fire!

And I'll trust that good week or confusing week... where I am is where I ought to be!

God Bless!
Love Linda

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A SPARKLING LIFE LESSON: Love Life!..Love The Possibilities!


Love Life!...Love the Possibilities!

You, Whose Day It Is,
Get Out Your Rainbow
Colors and Make It
Beautiful !

-Traditional Nootka Song

I LOVE the first week of a new school year, a week brimming over with new students, new questions, new beginnings, and new possibilities.

Every first week is "different" and has its own complexities. This one was no exception.

I love the diversity of my students! I have a class with four basketball players sitting across from a tatooed, pierced creative student, with a huge heart. He has green dreadlocks and from time to time wears a skirt. Watching the eyes of the basketball players look at him, and they know I'm watching them, is why I am at SCC! They are all God's children and if they can learn to appreciate each other's differences in my class, that may translate to being more tolerant and loving in the world outside my class!

Most of the week I ran like a chicken with my head cut off. And I do mean run!! Yet the running felt satisfying and made me chuckle! I kept thinking, and saying outloud..."This is the BEST job in the world!" And I mean it!

Here Are A Few Things I Loved About This Week:

*I loved seeing former students (some of whom I have again) and giving them a hug!

*I loved that most students could not believe that I am 61. Several even argued with me. I don't fit their stereotype of an "older person"!

*I loved welcoming students who were scared and alone.

*I loved seeing my favorite colleagues get out there and do their thing.

*I loved starting new units that I knew would change students' lives!

*I loved having clothes to wear at the start of school that are two sizes smaller than what I was wearing last year!

*I love being in shape mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually so I can give 110% every day to my students!

*I love learning all of their names so that I can greet them and recognize them in the hall!

*I love that my classes are brimming full and that there is only room to sit on the floor!

*I love that I am way more organized at the start of this school year than I was last year!

*I love that God has called me to do His work in a classroom, and that He has entrusted me with these precious people!


This first week, like any week, was full of new possibilities! Today is full of new possibilities too!

And as the Nootka song suggests...Today is my day..and I am getting out my rainbow colors and making it beautiful!!

I am so, so blessed, and I am so, so grateful! I'm living every day as if it was my last!

God Bless!
Love Linda

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A CONVERSATION ABOUT RACE IN AMERICA: A Look At This Year's Election


I am a white, 61 year old female who grew up in an affluent household in Seattle, Washington. I attended Roosevelt High School, graduated in 1965, and when you look at my year book (we called them annuals back then) you will see a sea of white faces, most of whom grew up in affluence like I did. Over 90% of my graduating class of 875 students went on to four year colleges and universities.

Now understand, I didn't know that we were affluent at the time. My parents worked very, very hard to give me the benefits of the "American Dream." They had not grown up in affluence, but they went to college, worked hard, and doors opened. I mistakenly believed, at the time, that everyone lived like I did. I wasn't naive or stupid, I just didn't "get" how my being white opened so many opportunities for me. I thought everyone was told from day one, "Of course you'll go to college. College comes after high school!"

I became a Christian at Malibu when I was 15, and this opened my heart to social justice issues for those less fortunate. During the race riots in Seattle, I was, much to my father's dismay, in a black church cleaning the pool they used for baptisms. Much of my life since then as an educator in a community college setting has been about serving others, not just myself. But can I really "get" what it is like for my sisters and brothers "of color"? Even though I attend a primarily African American church...I'm not so sure. I can hear the stories of my church family, and I can truly empathize with how hard it is, but do I get the daily journey they face? At 61, and after reading "Why Are All of the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?"... I think not.

This book is a mind twister, a heart hurter, and a "must read" more than once journey. It addresses the notion of "white privilege" in an articulate and perceptive fashion. It, along with a discussion on Racial Reconciliation with Scott Finnie last spring at a conference, has opened my eyes... again. As I watch this election unfold, and hear the media commentary, I am reminded of this book.

I never understood, and am only starting to understand now, how I have a daily privilege bestowed on me by the color of my skin. Now granted, I am female and have experienced gender bias. I have one hand and am used to looks and second looks. But I am white, and that is a different story altogether.

I am writing this blog post after reading another commentary about white privilege and how it is impacting this election. I am in no way an expert on this topic, however as someone who wants to reflect on this culture...here is another way to look at some current events.

It is certainly food for thought...about racism, double standards, white privilege, and how far we all still have to go until the "American Dream" is open to everyone!

If you want to learn more, check out this website:

http://www.redroom.com/blog/tim-wise/this-your-nation-white-privilege-updated

God Bless! Love Linda

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN: School Starts for Me!


In recent weeks I have watched my family head off to school and classes. Ryan started first, since his school district began classes at the end of August. His classroom was ready and he now has a wonderful group of new students. Likewise, Rog and Jessi went back and are in gear, Amy started her last class in graduate school at Gonzaga (she's working on her thesis for her Masters Degree), and even my grandchildren are "in the groove" with school.

While I worked all summer doing consulting, I had choices about the timing of my work schedule. I was blessed to have lots of good, challenging and exciting work to do for my clients. Yet hanging in the back of my mind was the task of getting myself "ready" to start a new school year!

One of the blessings of teaching college is that you get a fresh start each quarter, yet truth be told when I leave at the end of the year and students graduate, there are many loose ends that get left for "another day." :)

Well, the "another day" is here!

I spent much of yesterday sorting through old papers in my classroom, xeroxing materials for the first week, and throwing out things that I no longer need. I got a class list, searched for names of students I've had before (and there are lots of them), and started to refamiliarize myself with the curriculum and drill of starting again. It's truly a mix of feelings: anticipation, joy, and anxiety. Always, at the end of the first week and I know 90 new names, I feel like I am "back in the saddle again'...doing the job that God called me to do and that I LOVE doing.

I start this school year more than 50 pounds lighter and with even more positive energy!
We have two days of meetings (Thursday and Friday) and then Monday morning it all begins again!

I can't wait!

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

Monday, September 08, 2008

HOPE FLOATS! : LIFE LESSONS ON RESILIENCE!


I remember some years ago seeing a movie called "Hope Floats". I liked the movie, but I LOVED the title. It seems to me that hope does float... it bobs to the surface after being pushed down by the storms of life.

What I know for sure, after living for 61 years, is that part of the mystery and beauty of life is that life throws you curve balls now and again and again. You thought you had learned this lesson? Nope! The lesson is back again in ways you never expected or even wanted!

What I also know for sure is that some learnings and stressors do not have a simple conclusion, a date and time for when they will be over and finished. Some just stick with us, and we may have no control over their outcome.

I recently did a workshop called "Developing Resilience During Stressful Times" for one of my consulting clients, Dorian Studios. In July their building and life's work was devastated in a tragic fire. They have spent the last six weeks scrambling to re-build. They have made amazing progress and done what people said was impossible. Their resilience is remarkable, yet they are also exhausted physically and emotionally. They wanted some "tips" for how to make it through this very tough year for them.

I thought I'd pass along some of what I learned about "Resilience" as I prepared to give this workshop:

1) Resilience is our capacity to cope, over the long-haul, with stress, catastrophe, and tragedy. It's the process of adapting well in the face of adversity and significant sources of stress. Resilience is our "Buoyancy"...our ability to pop back up to the surface after we have been hit by one of life's curve balls.

2) Research shows that "Resilience" is ordinary, not extraordinary. Ordinary people
exhibit resilience every day, like after 911. However, most people could learn to be more resilient and this would improve their physical and emotional health!

3) Being "resilient" does not mean that a person does not experience difficulty or distress, emotional pain, anger, frustration, or sadness. In fact, resilient people DO experience their emotions. They just don't get stuck in them long term.

4)Resilience is not a trait that you either have or don't have. Resilience involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed.

5) A combination of factors contribute to "Resilience" and the number one factor is having caring and supportive relationships within and outside the family. These are relationships that create love and trust, provide role models, and offer encouragement and support. These kinds of relationships bolster "resilience".

6) There are many "tips" for building your own "resilience". A few of these are to make connections where you can accept help and support, find people to listen, assist others during their time of need, avoid seeing the crisis as insurmountable ( so work on how you talk and think about what has happened)and move toward your goals, even the smallest ones.

7) Many people improve their resilience because of their foundation of faith. Their faith helps them be resilient in the face of tragedy.

Yesterday at church we sang a song called "Pressing My Way!" Our congregation, which is mostly African American and struggling financially, sings this song with so much gusto that it almost blows the roof off of our church.

The chorus says:

I won't give up
I won't turn around
I am holding on
I'll rely on God
I'm keepin' my faith
I'm pressing my way!

Their resilience, their absolute refusal to give up against great odds, truly inspires me. They rally around and comfort those who are hurting. They avoid seeing a crisis as insurmountable. They constantly say, "God is bigger than this obstacle!"

In their storms of life that would make many of us consider giving up...
they find their resilience in God's grace and power! As one member said to me yesterday, "I am so sad that every cell I have is weeping. But I will leave it all at the altar. God is BIG enough to handle it ALL!"

While life's storms are not at my door today, I know they may be here tomorrow. I also know that for many of the people I love and care about... life is full of stress and adversity. May we all be "pressing our way" surrounded and comforted by those we love. May we remember to be caring and supportive people for others so we bolster their resilience. Our need for their loving help and support may only be just around the corner!

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

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

OH MY GOSH...How Can It Be? We've Gone Full Circle!

It only seems like yesterday that Jessi and Amy were starting school!

That was such a special time filled with anticipation, nervousness, and a big lump in my throat. As my two darling daughters started off for this momentous school adventure, and we waited to see who their teachers would be, it felt like I had gone full circle from my own memories of when I started school to theirs.

Yet as I followed their school bus, and Amy waved from the back window at me, I could NOT have anticipated how it would feel to have Jacob and Emma, my two amazing grandchildren, head off to school yesterday. Now we have truly gone full circle.

Ah nostalgia!

Starting new things is not entirely easy for most of us whether we are a child or an adult. We often have our own set of nerves and anxious moments. Questions often fill our minds... Will I be liked? Will someone talk to me? And the ever important question...Where is the bathroom?

Yet I've learned over time that as I start something new I am never really alone. God is right there with me holding me up and giving me confidence! He's also right there for both of my precious grandbabies!

To mark this big event, the start of school for Jacob and Emma, I wanted to celebrate the moment with them. So to do that I made personalized yard signs with balloons and snuck them into their yards. The hope was to put a smile on their faces on the first day! :) As I made the signs I chatted with Bert remembering when Jessi and Amy started school. It was a big deal then, a life-changing moment, and it is a big deal today!

Soon I'll start back at SCC and have my own first day. Just like Emma and Jacob I'll have butterflies as I try to sleep the night before wondering who will be in my class. I've had 41 first days being a teacher and this year it is my 42nd. Still the anticipation is amazing. And just like Jacob and Emma...God will be right there with me!

Yes...we really have gone full circle, and I couldn't be more pleased!

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

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A GENTLE REMINDER ABOUT JOY...Take A Minute, Breathe, and Watch!


I love to start my day in ways that refresh my body, heart, spirit, and soul

Here's how I started my day today:) Enjoy!

God Bless! Love, Linda

http://simpletruths.tv/movies.php?movie=FJOY

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

THOUGHTS ABOUT GOD-GIVEN GIFTS...and Nelson Mandela




When I look around at the exceptional people in my life...I am in awe of their gifts. I believe those gifts are God-given and those folks are developing and using their talents to the max!

I love Nelson Mandela's quote that says:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God; your playing small doesn't serve the world.

That last line leaves a lump in my throat and chills down my spine ..."You are a child of God; your playing small does not serve the world."

I hear in those words the echo of my father's voice..."You can be anything you want to be...you just have to WORK at it!"

I am so aware that everyone has God-given gifts and that no one has ALL the gifts. No one is "all that!" I am also aware that cherishing the gifts God gave me, and using them to make the world a better place and make my own little light shine, is NOT the same as a "look at me...aren't I such hot stuff"attitude.

Some of the most talented people I know do not personally boast about the gifts God gave them, but they use them and celebrate them! Big difference!

They also know where those gifts came from and point to Him as the author and giver of the gifts!

My dear hubby, Bert, is one of those people! Not only is he a gifted therapist, but he is a gifted artist. He helped to develop the sport of windsurfing and named the sport as well. But you would never know about these things unless you asked. Ask him and he will light up and tell you about his JOY in serving others by helping them as a counselor. He'll show you his latest garden project and his enthusiasm will suck you into loving every plant he has planted. He reads constantly, collects quotes to share with clients, adores his church, family, being a "Boppa, me:), and he loves God!

But his focus in life is more about others and his celebration of them than it is about pointing out his own gifts! I love that about him. He uses his gifts, celebrates them, and has self-confidence, but at the same time Bert is humble.

Yet being humble is NOT the same as being invisible or underplaying who God made Bert to be...it is NOT "playing small."

Bert sees these God-given gifts as treasures God entrusted to him and it is his privilege and responsibility to use them!

I have been reading the book "Play on Your Strengths" and reflecting on the strengths God gave me. How can I use those strengths to make the world a better place and how can I develop them for God's glory, not my own? I adore my life and the people in it! I am grateful for God's love, grace, and forgiveness. It is time to step up and be ALL that God means me to be!

I want to build on my God-given gifts and let my light shine (and reflect on Him)! I want to thank God for making me "me" and celebrate the God-given gifts He has given me. I want to treasure those gifts every day and not "play small"...to quote Nelson Mandela. That truly does not serve the world.

So this morning I'm making a list of the gifts God has given me, and I am excited to see how He helps me to use them for His glory!

God Bless! Love Linda

Friday, August 15, 2008

A MOMENT OF CELEBRATION: I've Lost 50 Pounds!




I remember at this time last year how I was feeling! I loved my life, but I didn't love how my body felt or looked.

There were two voices in my head. One said, "Look, you are 60...it doesn't matter any more."

The other voice, the one that tells me the truth, said,

"Put your big girl panties on and get over it!!! It's time to do some hard work!!"

Thankfully I listened to the second voice. At the end of last August I joined Weight Watchers.

This past year has really been a journey and a return to health for me. I began exercising regularly, eating more carefully, and drinking lots and lots of water. I began to change my thinking as well. I have prayed constantly for God's strength, not just my own.

In truth I've been through a gigantic LIFESTYLE CHANGE...one that was long overdue.

My first goal was to lose 5 lbs, then ten lbs, then twenty lbs. And at the time each of those seemed almost impossible.

However, and I truly believe this:

There are NO shortcuts to any place worth going!

The bottom line is that at this point I have lost 50 lbs! And I celebrate that victory...almost a pound a week, right in line with Weight Watcher standards.

However, I imagined somehow that if I ever lost THAT much weight..that the battle would be over. And it isn't. I have more weight to lose, more exercising to do, more water to drink, and more prayers to pray...and I will for a lifetime!

However I do want to pause, if only for a minute, and celebrate what I once thought might be impossible. I am a person who is all about possibilities and self empowerment, but we all have places where we struggle... and this is mine.

Sometimes I wonder how far I have actually come, do I really look any different?

And then I give myself a reality check. I look back at some old photos taken in the past few years or try on some of my old clothes that swim on me now...and I smile and think...yup, you are doing it!!

This September I have a new plan for "Operation Life-Renewal!" December 16th Bert and I are headed to Hawaii for an early 25th wedding anniversary celebration. When I put on a swim suit over there...all the NEW work will be worth it! Great goal!

Well it's 6:15 am in Spokane, still cool, and time for my walk!
Hope you are having a great summer!
God Bless!
Love and hugs! Linda

Saturday, July 26, 2008

WHAT A WEEK - Thoughts on Blessings and Tragedies



Some weeks leave me almost speechless...they are so wrapped in conflicting emotions. This week was one of those weeks for me. The learnings are still trickling in...a bit overwhelming in their magnitude. Here are some of the events, hard and wonderful, in no particular order:


1) As a communications consultant I work with many organization, more than 500 over the 32 years I have had my own company. Some of these organizations, like Boeing and Microsoft, have taught me about how large corporations operate. Others like the Spokane Police department and Fire Department have taught me about a culture of service where people put their lives on the line.


This week the owners and employees at Dorian Studios taught me about GUTS and TEAMWORK. If you live in Spokane you probably heard about the huge downtown fire that gutted a building. That building belonged to my clients at Dorian. They watched as their lifetime of work went up in flames. I went down there to see if I could help this amazing family, who are not just clients, they are my friends. I felt helpless as I watched the building burn and the flames roll out the front doors I had often frequented.



What was so amazing in this moment of tragedy was the teamwork and "What Can I Do To Help?" attitude coming from everyone there. I went to a store, got a milk carton. filled it with ice, water, and pop and circulated through the staff. I made meals, and I'm doing some free grief counseling with those who request it...but it feels like so little.

NOTES TO MYSELF: There are times that we all experience life tragedies, and we are left with the question...how will I re-build my life, or will I? Once we sort through the grief, and those grief stages often take awhile to go through, we find out who we are and as my Dad said, "what you are made of." It's easy to have platitudes and cliches about life when things are easy, but when it all falls apart, who you really are is there for all to see. In the midst of great loss, I saw a company made of wonderful and giving people. I am proud to know them.


2) In high contrast to the tragedy at Dorian, I had one of the most amazing weeks of grandparenting in my life!!!


To put this in perspective you need to understand something. First, I loved, and love, being a parent! I adore my daughters with all of my heart! When they lived with us, I gave parenting a heart and soul effort...every day! I was the kind of parent who showed up at their events, knew all of their friends, supported their activities, and watched their boyfriends like a hawk. :) I am so, so proud of my wonderful and talented daughters. Parenting was lots of work, but it was also SO rewarding and fun!


And then there's grandparenting...drum roll please!!!!!!

BITSY (aka Jenna, Jenna Benna)...

Well that adorable baby has stolen our hearts. She stayed at our house most of the day on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week since her beloved Mama (my daughter Amy) was taking a three day intensive class in her Masters Program at Gonzaga. The class went from early morning until late at night for three straight days.

Since Jenna's Papa (Ryan) had the three older children (Zac, Kayla, and Jacob) at the lake, we had the sweetest, most fun baby at our house. Did I say she stole our hearts? Yup, big time!
I've decided that if I'm upset about anything, large or small, being around Jenna changes my perspective. She is SO cute, and SO friendly that a trip to Safeway becomes a major event where she says "Hi!" waves and grins at everyone. You could see hearts opening up down every aisle. I took her to the store all three days and the employees who know me well (especially in floral and balloons) fell in LOVE with her. When I came back on Thursday without her, one gal said, "She just wraps you around her heart..and we miss her not being with you!"

Talk about missing her...Boppa could hardly stand it when she left Wednesday night..Jenna LOVES her Boppa, calls out to him, and loves to give him "fish kisses"! (You have to see this to believe it...so cute!!!) We also had her for a bit on Friday night so Amy and Ryan could go to a wedding rehearsal dinner! Every minute with Bitsey increases our life expectancy.


JACOB (aka Pookey)...

Jacob is the most amazing 6 year old boy. His heart is as big as all outdoors, and he loves God, his family, and his sister Bitsy. This summer has been so busy that I haven't had as much one-on-one time with Jacob as I would like. So Friday of this week I picked him up in the afternoon, we went to lunch, and then just Jacob and Nana went to a 3-D movie, "Journey To The Center of The Earth!"

We had a blast and then went to one of those photography booths and got our pictures taken with our 3-D glasses on! What a hoot! The feeling I get being with Jacob is "coming home!"

Jacob is very artisic and during this last Montessori year hand-made a quilt, purse and wallet, all beautifully crafted. To show you Jacob's heart...he gave the purse, and some of his treasures, to Emma this weekend! Really touching to see his love for her.

Jacob is so giving and he deeply loves his Nana and Boppa...he then stayed overnight Friday night for the "slumber party of all time!" He slept with Boppa and I slept with Emma...so we'd all be ready for the "Kids' Trifusion Triathlon" on Saturday! :)

EMMA (aka "Baby Emma" who is no longer a baby:))...

Since Jessi and Rog are moving into their new house this week, and were planning a kids' triathlon besides, I came and got Emma on Friday so we could have time with her and take her to the triathlon on Saturday morning! One of the real joys for me of having a "summer schedule" is having more time with sweet Emma! We always have such great "Emma and Nana" times. We met at the new house so I could see her "new room", played a bit there, and then headed down to our house where we watched movies and had fun...with Jacob!

I love Emma's take on life, her genuine enthusiasm and spirit, and her great manners! When Emma got the purse from Jacob she grinned and announced" I have ALWAYS wanted one of these!" She was so happy to be with us, talked about her pre-race jitters, and her thoughts about the new house!

What a slumber party! The next morning we all went out to watch Emma (and Anna Seppa) do the Kids' Triathlon! The pre-race conversation between Jacob and Emma on the way to the race was priceless...so much mutual caring and support!

KAYLA and ZAC...

It was so fun on Thursday to have some time with Kayla and Zac. Since Amy was sick, Zac, Jacob, Jenna and I picked Kayla up at soccer practice, had ice cream afterwards, and later in the week went to a wedding together! They are amazing young people... so smart, caring, and well-mannered. I am proud beyond words at who they are!

At the wedding I saw them both, all on their own, go up to Lucy's Mom, a woman in her 80's from England, and introduce themselves! Yikes! Talk about adult skills! Huge kudos to Ryan and Amy for raising such amazing young adults!!

It has been a busy week full of wonderful grandkid moments!! Life just doesn't get better than this!

NOTES TO MYSELF: Treasure every moment I have with my 12 grandchildren...they grow up so quickly! Make the time to just do the smallest activity to I know what's in their minds and hearts today!


3) And finally, on a sad note, Randy Pausch, the teacher from Carnegy Mellon who gave the "Last Lecture" and wrote a book by that title, died this week at age 47. His life and message are a reminder to "Live Every Day As If It Was Your Last!"

NOTES TO MYSELF: Treasure my life..and learn from everything, good and bad, that happens to me! It is ALL a gift!


I feel so blessed as I write this, tired ..yes...but truly blessed! I am so grateful to God for all of His love and for the life lessons I learn everyday...from fires, death, and life renewed in my grandchildren.

Life is such a MIRACLE! I don't want to waste a moment of mine!

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

Sunday, July 06, 2008

HOT FUN IN THE SUMMER TIME!!! A Summer Update!









WOW! What an amazing summer we are having! I absolutely LOVE having a more relaxed schedule and more time for fun, frolic, and family! Here are some summer highlights!
1) After school got out, and I had a crazy week of TONS of consulting, I started to get into the summer time mode. Part of this is our tradition of celebrating the 4th of July at the lake...decorating the boat (see picture above:)), fireworks, and fun! This year Chris and Nancy's crew (from Austin Texas) joined us over the 4th! We also had a chance to see Jessi, Rog, and Emma and share lots of laughs! An amazing weekend!
2) One of the highlights of my summer time has been time with grandchildren! Emma and I have had some fun outings (getting some new clothes for kindergarten, shopping for the rug for her room, playing in their pool) ...so Mommy and Daddy could work on the new house! What a blast! She is an amazing 5 year old with a go-get 'em spirit! It was also fun to go to her swim class and see her amazing new swim skills!
I've also had some amazing times with Jenna...we babysat her for several days while Amy and Ryan worked on Jessi and Rog's new house and again this week as Amy has a class at Gonzaga. No baby could be sweeter or cuter! :) When she says"Please", and does the sign language sign for please, my heart melts!!!!
3) We have been so blessed to have time at the lake with Amy and Ryan and their family and we are AMAZED and grateful for ALL of their help up there...with the Chris and Nancy visit they bought the food, cleaned the house, did the yard, and besides all of that really helped when the Texas kids and their folks arrived! Amazing!
On top of all of that...they re-did ALL of the decks at the lake...a HUGE, HUGE project!! Thank you guys!
4) It has been a blast to participate with Jessi and Rog in their new home projects! I LOVE decorating and picking colors etc...and working with Jessi and Rog on this has been SO much fun for me! It's a HUGE job just to move, but to renovate a home and then move in is a daunting task! Fun,fun, fun to be included and to see all the progress! Their new home looks great! :)
5) Then on to Seattle and Cannon Beach! In Seattle I visited with Grandma Elaine and then Sharon and I went to Cannon Beach for a week long Spiritual Retreat! As always being by the ocean, talking, laughing and walking the beach was amazing!! Sharing that time with God has always been a source of love and renewal for me!
The summer memories continue, and I look forward to even more FUN!!!
Hope you are having an awesome summer too!
God Bless and loves to all who read this!
Love Linda



Wednesday, June 18, 2008

THE END OF AN AMAZING SCHOOL YEAR: I'm Almost Speechless! :)



Coach John Wooden once said, "Success is peace of mind that is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of being."

I LOVE this quote and this week it says it all!

This is the end of my 42nd year of teaching...that's right...42nd!! Those who know me know that I LOVE this job and often say that I have the best job in the world! Working with students and seeing them become self-empowered as learners and as human beings is what I am called to do. As a teacher I am honored to facilitate that process.

However, over the years, I have discovered that very few people "get" what teaching is all about.

I've learned to smile when I hear comments about how I only work nine months of the year or have an easy job. I not only smile at those comments, often made by the night shift at Safeway who check out my groceries at 5:30 am every morning when I am on my way to SCC, but laugh outloud at them at the end of the school year!

I see 93 students every day. I had 93 take home tests to grade, 93 final projects to read and comment on, and 93 students to say goodbye to in one day. Then there were a gazillion meetings, wrap ups of accreditation findings, classroom cleanup (still to do), revamping of curriculum (still do do)...the list goes on and on.

It reminds me of people's comments about being a Mom. Unless you are one...you simply don't get it!

And yet all this work, time, energy, and love paid off when on Monday afternoon at the Opera House I watched student after student, and amazing story after amazing story, cross that stage, receive a college diploma, and have their pictures taken with the Governor, who was our graduation speaker.

The tears rolled down my face as Bob Chambers (age 50) in his wheel chair, from muscular dystrophy as a small child, got a diploma after 27 years of taking classes...one class at a time, often having to drop out because of poor health!

I stood up and cheered when Angela Loofts got her RN degree and had an honor chord around her neck. She wrote me a thank you letter that I will keep forever. Her courage is inspirational to everyone who knows her! SCC gave these folks a second chance at having a life they love and are proud of! Being a teacher to Bob and Angela was an honor and blessing for me!

I love my job. It's the best job in the world! But it isn't easy!

As my daughter Jessi said, and she is also a teacher, I have been "sucked into the vortex of the end of the school year!" Yup...that says it all. I am still reeling from the after shock.

Yet when I look back, take a deep breath, and survey this year of being a teacher...I have a deep sense of peace and satisfaction. I gave it everything I had, every day! I am working to be the best person I can be and always doing my best (one of the "Four Agreements"). I will always be working to improve the kind of teacher I am. Even after 42 years I have alot to learn!

This morning I am tired, picking up the pieces, and trying once again to find some balance in my life that always seems to weigh in heavily with work. I need to go to school to pick up a student award and do some xeroxing. Summer is here, but not quite yet.

Tonight I am taking one whole class out to dinner on me...the class who put on the Communications Conference in May! We'll meet at Linnie's Thai Cuisine on the south hill, laugh, tell stories, and have closure! I truly learned about servant leadership from this amazing group!
After the dinner is over, and I give them all hugs, I'll drive home feeling blessed that God allowed me to be their teacher and a part of their lives!

The summer will hold consulting, time at the lake, the annual spiritual retreat to Cannon Beach, other family events, and some needed sleep. But already I smile a bit just thinking about next fall...and doing it all again!

I really DO have the best job in the world!

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

Saturday, May 31, 2008

LIFE IS GOOD: Marking The Important Milestones!

There is an old expression that says, "Time flys when you are having FUN!" So, so true! I have been having lots of fun in my life, and it seems like this school year has gone by in a flash! The past few weeks have been full of amazing milestones... or moments worth stopping to ponder. These are markers in my life and the lives of those I love!

PERSONAL MILESTONES:

*I continue to do the Weight Watchers Program. It truly has become a lifestyle change for me. Several weeks ago I reached a goal that made me smile...I reached the 40 lb. weight loss milestone. At this point I have actually lost 41.2 lbs. Last August when I started Weight Watchers I could hardly imagine what a HUGE difference this would make in my life!! I will lose 10 more lbs during this summer and continue to eat right and exercise more. This isn't an easy change for me, but one that is worth the effort. As I say daily...

"There are NO shortcuts to any place worth going!"

A HUGE thank you and shout out to my Weight Watcher partner Amy (who looks amazing and inspires me to do this as she goes with me), Bert (who tells me daily how great I look), Jessi (who has sent me countless cards and messages of encouragement), my buddies at school who ooooh and ahhhhh over my new clothes and new figure, and my students in my Interpersonal Communication class (who inspire me with the goals they have set and achieved)!! I am truly blessed and proud of myself for making this change and sticking with it!

*I am finishing up my 42nd year of teaching with one of the most amazing quarters ever! I LOVE my students! As I grade paper after paper, see their projects and hard work, and see them in action I realize why I say every day..."This is the BEST job in the world!!!" This Thursday I have been invited by SCC students to be the Keynote Speaker at one of their award banquets! What an honor! God really blessed me when He put it in my heart to be a teacher!

*My consulting business has been BOOMING this year! Yikes! I have been blessed to have lots of great clients who have honored me with their business! Consulting is challenging, hard work, and rewarding! I have seven full time clients that I work with every week and there is never a dull moment!

FAMILY MILESTONES FOR GRANDCHILDREN

*Oh my gosh...as I see pictures of my BEAUTIFUL and TALENTED grandchildren I am blown away! They bring so much pure JOY into my life (and Bert's too)! It seems like I have only blinked and they have all grown in leaps and bounds. Here are a few of the highlights:

*Jacob just finished kindergarten yesterday and cleaned out his "cubby" at his Montessori school. That act of "moving on" to the next adventure, first grade, seems so symbolic to me. Jacob has had an amazing year, has learned SO much, and is "King of the Castle" at his school! The children there flock to him, adore him, and see him for the WONDERFUL and GIFTED little boy that he is!! He SHINES at school!
Jacob is SO smart as he reads stories, writes stories, and does all kinds of math!
Bert and I went to his swim lesson last night and were amazed at the progress he has made! He is growing up before our eyes!

*Emma looks like she is five years older and yet she will only be five in June! She has had an AMAZING year and will be in kindergarten next year! How is that possible??
She is a talented and confident little girl who is SO bright and athletic! It was so fun to go to her soccer games this spring! She took to soccer like she does EVERYTHING...with a "Go For It!...All Out" spirit!! She will SHINE in kindergarten this next year as she goes to Brentwood and is already like the school mascot there!
She has been taking swimming lessons too!

*Zac is growing in leaps and bounds, doing well in school and sports (football, baseball and basketball)and is maturing into a WONDERFUL and fun young man. He is now taller than I am and called me "Shorty" yesterday, with a big grin on his face! He has just finished up his first year of middle school!

*Kayla is a WHIZ at school, playing soccer and is still in love with horses! She is a dedicated student, will be one of the Captains of Patrol next year, and she is almost as tall as I am! She is a beautiful young lady and it has been fun to go to her soccer games and her "Poetry Slam" contest!

*Baby Jenna is beyond wonderful! We love EVERYTHING about her...her beautiful smile, outgoing personality, speed racing crawl, and the LOVE she gives everyone every day! She is about to turn ONE...where has that year gone!! Everyday is a milestone as she gets her teeth, pulls herself up, and explores life!! She is a miracle and a daily reminder that God answers prayers!

*Other grandchildren milestones include Emmett turning 18, graduating from high school and preparing to go to...COLLEGE! That's right...COLLEGE!!! Emily loving high school and being the lead in several plays where she sings and acts! And Rosie loving school and playing baseball!

These are just a FEW of the milestones in our family! More will be mentioned in the next post! They are all a reminder of the fact that LIFE IS GOOD and that marking the milestones in my life, and the lives of those I love, is a reminder of God's abundant grace and love!! I am truly blessed!

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

"Just Plain Hard"...

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