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

"Just Plain Hard"...

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