Sunday, December 13, 2009

At Our Home...We Are All About the Christmas Spirit!



Ever since I was a little girl I have loved and adored Christmas. I love celebrating the birthday and gift of Jesus! I love the colored lights outdoors and driving around at night, sipping hot chocolate, and going "Ooooh" and "Ahhhh" over amazing landscapes of outdoor Christmas scenes. I love recounting old Christmas stories from when I was little and making new Christmas memories with those I love. I love all of the shopping and decorating...I LOVE it all and look forward to it all year long.

Here are a few of the the sights, smells, and activities that are blessing us this Christmas:

1) Going to the The Lion King Musical With Emma!



What a great way to start the holiday season! Some years back Bert and I took Jessi and Amy and their families to the Lion King musical in Spokane. We absolutely LOVED the fabulous story, all of the music, the realistic sets and the most amazing costumes ever! The huge (and I do mean huge) animals parade through the theatre and are almost in your lap. Emma was so little at the time we went that she didn't go with us as we thought she might be frightened. So when the Lion King came back to town, Bert and I invited Emma for a solo lunch and musical event. It is so great to have one-on-one time with our grandchildren (and it's not easy to do since we have 12 of them). We loved every minute with Emma and will always remember her amazed face during the opening number!
Thanks Emma for sharing this fun Christmas "date" with Boppa and with me!


2) Decorating Our Home For The Holidays!






At Christmas time I love taking special care with creating little scenes or vinyettes in our home. I change what we do every year, and it's a chance for me to do some of the decorating and design that pleases my heart! This year, instead of the usual red and green theme, we went with more neutrals and "subtle scapes" with creams, tans, golds, silvers and bronzes. We even used sea shells we have collected in Hawaii! While our home doesn't "scream" Christmas (as it often does :)) it has been soothing to my heart to try this new gentle reminder of the holidays!

Here are a few of Christmas scenes at our home:







3) Special Books For The Christmas Season!


For us, Christmas is all about opening our hearts and appreciating God's gift in Jesus!

I am always an avid reader and once my grades are in at the college you may find me next to the fireplace, coffee mug in hand, reading some old and new "favoritos"! Here are several that came to me from special friends in my life":




*have a little faith- by Mitch Albom, the amazing author of Tuesdays With Morrie!
This inspiring true story details the author's eight year journey between two world's of faith- Christian and Jewish, rich and poor, white and African- American and two men... the author's rabbi and an inner city poor African-American pastor. A perfect Christmas read.
My book review: WOW! *****


*Advent and Christmas-Wisdom From Henri J.M. Nouwen , one of my all-time favorite writers of faith.
This powerful little book has daily lessons and devotionals for Advent and the Christmas season that really open your heart to the real meaning of Christmas. A very humbling and introspective read about what it really means to follow Jesus when you are a flawed human being like I am.
My book review: Double WOW! *****
Thank you Ashley Ulmer, consulting client and friend, for knowing exactly what I needed this Christmas season!

4) Amazing Christmas Music- New Favorites!

Andrea Bocelli is one of my all-time favorite singers. His heavenly voice in a new CD- "Andrea Bocelli-My Christmas" is beyond wonderful. Many years ago Jessi, Rog, Erik, Theresa and I saw


Andrea Bocelli in concert. It was a life-time memory for me. And here he is again singing Christmas tunes with Natalie Cole, Mary J Blige and others. What an amazing musical Christmas treat!


5) Special, Spontaneous Time With My Hubby!

Both Bert and I have busy and conflicting schedules. He works late three nights a week, has choir practice for our church, and I am busy with school and consulting activities. It is SO wonderful during the Christmas season to slow down the pace and have some fun couple's time together.
Most recently we went to Anna Seppa's fabulous Christmas concert with the Spokane Children's Choral group. What beautiful Christmas music, and Anna did an amazing job! She looked gorgeous in her long green skirt and black velvet top. Before the concert we went to our favorite Thai restaurant and had soup and capped off the evening following the concert with dessert at Lindamans. We both even got dressed up!
Thanks for inviting us to your concert Anna! We loved it and we are so delighted that you liked your flower bouquet!


6) More Christmas Memories to Follow!

I can hardly wait to see the Nutcracker Ballet with Jessi and Emma, have time at our church to celebrate Jesus, and precious time with family and friends. I may even get my annual Christmas card drawn, who knows! Besides all of the fun activities, I hope to still my life an my heart to make room for the real reason for the season...the birth of Jesus!
May you have a blessed Christmas too!
God Bless!
Love Linda

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Even In The Hard Times...I Am Grateful

Today is Tuesday and Thanksgiving is two days away. If you had asked me a year ago, at Thanksgiving time, where life would take me in a year...I could never have imagined the journey I would be on. I've been a Christian since I was 15, and have been through much joy and many trials over the years, but I've been talking to God a lot lately and all I can say is..."Please, HELP!"

The specifics of what is going aren't appropriate for this blog venue, but the lessons are. And some lessons in life are just darn hard to embrace. But at age 62 I know that some of the hardest "seasons" bring the greatest growth. I also know that "Everything is a gift, even if some things don't look gift wrapped". I also know, for sure, that God loves me, no matter what and that He is in the midst of all that is going on. So what have I learned? What am I now learning? Here are a few of the lessons in November 2009:

1) I've learned that you can put your whole heart and soul into something and not have it work out the way you wanted. You simply cannot control other people. You can't control who they are, how they think, and the choices they make. At the end of the day you are only responsible that you gave the important priorities in your life a 100% effort. If you have done that, that's all you can do. Work, pray, get help, work more...but at some point you can't do it alone.

2) I've learned that you are either in or you are out. If you can't say, "I'm all in..110%", and then act in, then you are really out. Words are cheap. Being in, acting in, and making that commitment is a choice. In my book we have to say "I'm all in!" to the important choices in our lives every day.

3) I've learned that if I've done what is right for me, followed the values I have and believe in, that I can survive others being mad at me or not understanding why I did what I did. For so much of my life I didn't want to make anyone unhappy, even if it meant me being unhappy. I didn't want to stick up for me if it meant someone I loved was mad at me. But after 60, I have a new sense of peace about doing the best I can, even if others reject me because of it. Make no mistake, the rejection really hurts...but I'll get through it.

4) I've learned that family is everything. You can't replace what it means to have your family love and support you. They are your rock, your foundation. No matter how imperfect it all is, at the end of the day the support of family sometimes means the difference between making it and falling apart. Having your family "show up", not just in words, but REALLY show up in deeds and behavior means the world to me.

5) I've learned, again and again, that my husband Bert is my life partner and supporter in the hardest of times. For over 28 years, and 25+ years being married, he has wiped away my tears and listened endlessly. When my heart is breaking, he is there. When I am full of joy, he is there. He is there, and I am grateful.

6) I've learned, and this isn't a new learning, that I love my daughters with all of my heart. I always have and always will. I'm not a perfect Mom, but I am their Mom. When their hearts break, mine does too. When they succeed and are happy, I am too. Don't misunderstand, my happiness is not just connected to their happiness, but my heart is always connected to them. It will be until the day that I die. My Mom's heart was like that too. She used to say to me, "A mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child." Even though they are both adults, I still love them the way I did when they were small girls.

7) I've learned that my precious grandchildren warm my heart and bring me joy in ways that nothing else does.

8) I've learned (this last Sunday) that I may be, as Tim said Sunday, a bit "accident prone".:) I say that with a smile. Who in the heck drops a hot curling iron on their eye? That's right...EYE!
Specifically...eye lid and eye ball. Who has to go to the doctor and say, "I'm here because my hand, somewhat arthritic as it is, dropped the super hot curling iron on my face and hit my eye and eye ball?" Even Dr. Staley laughed and with a gleam in his eye offered me this. "Well Linda, my worst patient ever, I have had some twenty year olds come in with this and they weren't all air-heads." So I've learned not to rush around when I've got a curling iron in my hand. Makes ya humble! :)

9) I've learned that no matter what, I want to focus on all of the blessings in my life. I am grateful, so grateful, for so many things. God has been very good to me and I don't take His blessings for granted.

So as Thanksgiving 2009 approaches, I am far richer in spirit and faith because of the "life lessons" I am learning! God holds me in the palm of His loving hand. He answers prayers. He can do miracles! For that, my heart overflows with gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!
God Bless!
Love Linda



Friday, October 02, 2009

Great Moments!

As I sit with a cup of coffee this morning, and reflect back over the past few weeks, I am struck by all of the amazing things that have gone on. Some of the moments have been life-changing. Other small moments have touched my heart. I am aware that each day has brought "great moments" my way...small gifts to my spirit that bring life and joy to my heart. Here are a few of those moments:


The start of school has been wonderful, hectic, challenging and a true JOY! I love teaching and all that comes with it! There have been many "great moments" with my new and former students!

Not only that, I am getting to see Amy teach an Interpersonal Communication class. Her class presentation yesterday was what I like to call "Fabulous Teaching!" She had the students engaged, had a dynamite power point presentation, had a super visual poster to give them a sample of their assignment for Monday, and her handouts were amazing! I took notes and came away with new learnings I will share with my 8:30 class! It was a "great moment" to see her teach! It was also a great, great moment to see Amy complete a 1/2 marathon recently!! It was also a "great moment" to see KK complete a 10K!!

Another "great moment" for me came this last Wednesday as I watched Jacob run his first cross country race for his grade school, Balboa Elementary. Jacob and his best friend Caleb love to do almost anything together, and they both are on the cross country team, complete with uniforms!! What a treat to see them get out there, with children from five other schools, and run and run!!

I also had a great moment with Jenna at that race. She is such a "hoot"...so funny and so expressive. I was trying to hold her so Amy could take pictures and she looked at me, and with a dramatic scowl said, "Nana, you stuck me!" Stuck me? I looked around to see if something on my clothing had pinched her ? Amy translated that this meant that I was holding her and not letting her go...when she wanted badly to go! I've been laughing all week about that moment!
Jenna lights up my life! It's so fun to hear her say, "I luv my skool!"

My "great moment" with Emma came yesterday when I presented her a bag with some "goodies" for her upcoming trip to Hawaii!. One of my students told me about a store called "Justice" at the Northtown mall. I had a few minutes yesterday so I went there in search of "cool stuff" for Emma to take on her trip. I found a great bag, shorts, a top, a journal that "lights up" on the cover (I'm not kidding), and a cool card with flip flops on the cover. I also casually slipped a $2o.oo bill into the card.

Emma was so appreciative for the bag and its goodies, but when she saw the $20 bill she was beyond excited. Her words ring in my ears and put a grin on my face. She said, giving me a hug,"Nana, you saved my life!" Absolutely the best $20 I've ever spent!! :) :) It was also fun to go to Emma's soccer game this past weekend!

Life is FULL of "great moments", small moments that can bring great JOY! Today I am focusing on all of the blessings and great moments that God has generously given me. Seeing Amy teach, having lunch with her afterwards, having dinner with Jessi (Rog and Emma too) and time with my precious grandbabies...these are all "great moments" in my life!

Seeing my family, and spending time with them, puts a grin on my face and a smile in my heart!

I hope you all have some "great moments" this weekend!
God Bless!
Love Linda


Friday, September 04, 2009

Rendered Speechless...Still I Will Say...Blessed Be The Name of The Lord!


Most people who know me know that words usually come easily to me. I teach communication classes, write speeches, give speeches, and talk freely. Not lately.

I have been, as my Mom and Nana used to say, "rendered almost speechless" by the events of late. I've tried to blog about it all, but the words just weren't there.

Until this morning.
I went on a Christian Mom's blog I follow. Her daughter was born with a congenital heart defect and she had a song on her blog that brought me to tears. The title is "Blessed Be Your Name."

Hearing this music, and seeing these lyrics, says it all for me right now. So much has happened...
Amy running at the lake and being hit by a car. This broke my heart.
Mary Ann Sanger dies
My knee injury
Some people I thought would really show up (physically and emotionally) in tough times didn't
More cuts at the college
Getting a horrible case of the flu
Feeling sad about some relationship dynamics
Bill Greene having a heart triple bypass operation
Donna, in our church choir, having to give up singing because of medical problems in her throat

The list goes on and on and my heart has felt heavy and sad, yet I just couldn't find the words to talk about it. Until today.
I know well, after 62 years on the planet, and becoming a Christian at age 14, that there are times, as the song says, "when the sun's shining down on me..and the world's all as it should be". Most of my life resembles these words. I have been truly blessed with love and health most of my life.
I also know that the times that really grow me, the times that challenge me and hurt me, are the times when I lean the most on God. Those are the times "marked with suffering and there's pain in the offering." I would never choose those times, but I CAN choose to grow from them and get through them with Grace.

So today, the words are flowing and I am praising God, no matter what!

"My heart will choose to say
God blessed be Your name!"
God Bless!
Love Linda

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Near Tears....

Most days I wake up and feel boyant and happy. Today isn't one of those days. I feel near tears and somewhat overwhelmed. Lots of reasons for this.

I vowed I'd be transparent in writing this blog and while I don't get into all the details of my intimate life, I don't want to gloss over the truth.

I have an overwhelming feeling of missing my Mom and wishing I could call her so she could reassure me (oops not near tears now, pretty much sobbing). I just plain miss her and her wisdom.

I wonder how God can be so patient and forgiving of me as I struggle to be the person He intends me to be (blowing my nose now, this isn't pretty). There is so much I don't understand as I see hurt people and know that I have hurt people too.

Recently several dear friends, like Mary Ann Sanger, have died. I miss them. Not easy at all to have them gone.

We got another letter that we are having another 2% cut at the college. That's on top of the 7% cut we have already taken. I'm on a committee to work on the "where will we get it from now?"
Yikes!

I'm tired, just plain tired, of living in a construction zone since last January. The rain has stopped the work on the outside of our house, so construction has again been delayed and the "finish date" extended. As I write this I realize it sounds like whining, and I hate whining, but I'm really disappointed in this delay.

I've been working on cleaning out our house, one drawer at a time. It's not how I want to spend my time, but it is how I need to spend my time. Yuck!! WAY overdue!!

I miss hugging my kids and grandkids. They are growing up so fast. I have seen them recently, but there is never enough time. Someone who is critical could argue with me to stop working or it's a matter of prioritizing choices...yup, I know that, but that's just how I feel right now. Finding that balance isn't easy.

Lots of things are changing. Some of those "things" are relationships that mean alot to me. I know that change is good, but it isn't always easy. I'm trying to be flexible and "go with the flow". Not my strong suit.

I wish I could have a big, big cry like Jenna, say "I'm sorry" and feel better.

I know in my heart of hearts that it's ok to be sad, it's ok to be near tears, it's ok to be where I am. I know I'll be better soon.

I can hear my Dad in the back of my head.."You get five total minutes in your life to whine...."
OK Dad...my time is up!

God Bless!
Love, Linda





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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Change, Change, and More Change!...The Construction Continues!

One of my favorite quotations says:
"Everything is a gift. It's just that some things don't look gift wrapped!"

Last January, shortly after returning from Hawaii, we had a flood at our home. Snow had piled up on the deck outside our master bedroom (on our third floor) and as there was a sudden melt, the ice jammed the drain. Water seeped under the sliding glass door, drenched the entire carpet upstairs, and I came home (after the first day of school) to water pouring out of the recessed lighting in the kitchen, dining room, and living room (on the second floor). Gallons and gallons and gallons of water! What a mess!!!

We brought in a water evacuation and construction company who ripped up carpet on two floors of our home and tried to dry us out with the promise that when the weather warmed up we would take out the damaged dry wall, repair the damaged stucco on the outside of our home, repaint the inside and outside, and ultimately be good as new.

This process of "change for the better" (as we've labeled this process) has been going on at our home since January. We've had construction workers here almost daily for the last three months (since May) and needed to stay here to help oversee the myriad of decisions that needed to be made.

As of this week, the furniture is mostly back in place (instead of piled in the center of the living room) and the dust has been vacuumed from the furnace and air system. We recently found the remote for the tv and all of the beautiful changes and fresh paint make us look better than new! :)

While I was in Cannon Beach, Bert spent hours and hours in the clean up process, and we will probably make even more progress in the "put it back together" phase in the next two weeks!

Yesterday they power washed the outside of our home and the outside paint job begins later this week! Huge ladders are everywhere as we are in a four story town home.

The final stage is to have the tiles on the roof put back on. That's right...the roof also needed repair and much of our roof has been sitting on our deck, waiting to be reassembled!

Ah, change!

While all of this construction doesn't lend itself to the usual, relaxed, and less-stressed mode of operation in the summer....the long-range benefits are worth all of the inconveniences!

We are blessed to have home insurance which will pay for some, but not all, of these expenses.
We are blessed to have great workers who are easy to be around at 7am in the morning! :)
We are blessed that the damage wasn't much worse!! We are grateful to have things fresh and painted!

While living in a construction zone isn't easy, and living in disarray is a change that is challenging, we are focusing on all the blessings!

Sending hugs and loves your way...no matter the challenge or change!
God Bless!
Love Linda

Monday, July 27, 2009

LINDA and SHARON : UNPLUGGED!!!!


There really are not words to describe how wonderful it is to go to Cannon Beach every year with my friend Sharon. Sharon's sister, Colleen, described the time as "Linda and Sharon: "Unplugged!"

It really is a time of momentous change for me:

1) Usually, in Spokane, I am up by 3:30-4am- At Cannon Beach I slept in once until 7am!! :)

2) Usually I am focused on teaching, consulting and family- At Cannon Beach I am focused on rest, renewal, fun, exercise, and time with God!!

3) Usually I am reading books that have "redeeming value" that I can utilize in teaching or consulting- At Cannon Beach I usually read 6-7 books in a week and they all stretch my soul and energize my heart!

4) Usually I walk inside every morning at SCC , at 5:45 am, and go around the halls and up and down the stairwells.- At Cannon Beach I walked every morning along the ocean and back through the town! What a spectacular view !!

5) Usually I am focused, task-driven and fairly serious about getting "stuff" done.- At Cannon Beach I laugh myself silly with Sharon until I am breathless. I also cry by the ocean and pour out to God the hurts in my life.

The list goes on and on!

This time of renewal at Cannon Beach is such a HUGE blessing in my life and my physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual life is reenergized and enhanced because of it!

I am deeply grateful!

I hope you have some "unplugged" time this summer too!
God Bless!
Love Linda

Monday, June 29, 2009

WHERE I AM TODAY: Reigniting My Own Spirit!


My beloved Bert, who knows me so, so well,often says that I take life on as if there was no tomorrow and that I do EVERYTHING in a BIG way! He smiles when he says this and often chuckles and shakes his head.

My high school counselor Dale Hanberg, who saw me involved in almost every activity in high school, smiled at me and chuckled when he told me that if I didn't slow down that I'd burn out by thirty. He said, "Linda, there is no one quite like you and none of us can keep up with you. The pace you keep, and the things you accomplish, always go above and beyond!" Again, Mr. Hanberg is someone who knew me well.

I've found over the past several years of blogging that there are several reoccuring themes that echo Bert's and Mr. Hanberg's descriptions of me:
1) I love what I do at work and with my family.
2) I am passionate about being a teacher, consultant and all of the personal roles like wife, Mom, Nana, and friend.
3) It's hard to find time for everything I love to do.
4) I need a more balanced life with more time for fun.
5) I often resist making choices that balance my life.
6) My life is way more balanced in the summer!

I notice this lack of balance most accutely at the end of the school year when I feel I am literally going full speed at every moment. As Wayne Dyer says in his book "Being In Balance"...
"There is more to life than making it go faster."

However the end of the year has a pace all its own, and "balance" is in short supply in my life.

On June 17th I did a workshop for a wonderful consulting client, June 18th was graduation at SCC, and Friday, June 19th, my grades went in at SCC. Granted,these activities are all part and parcel of choices I have made and requirements for my jobs. However, within minutes of my grades going in it felt like I was starting to breathe again. I found myself smiling, almost as if being "balanced" was right around the corner!!

Being balanced for me is not an absence of activity. Rather it is doing some of the "FUN STUFF" that reignites my spirit. So here are a few of the "reigniting" activities that have gone on recently:

1) GOING TO EMMA'S KINDERGARTEN GRADUATION:
Oh my gosh, where did this year go? It seems like only yesterday that I was putting balloons in Emma's front yard as she went to her first day of kindergarten. She was so little then in stature, but she had such a big spirit!! Watching Emma at her graduation celebration, and seeing her memory book in her classroom, was a great reminder that time flys. It was so fun to be a part of this celebration for her! She's off to first grade next year!

2) EMMA's OVERNIGHT AT OUR HOUSE/ CHEERING FOR JESSI and ROG AT THE MEDICAL LAKE TRIATHLON:
Friday June 19th Emma stayed overnight at our house. She is so amazing and so, so funny! She cracks herself up and everyone else in the process. She became "Ninja Girl" and walked around like Daniel in Karate Kid making Ninja movements, noises, and then falling into hysterical laughter. We did some crafting together as we were a "cheer squad" the next day at Rog and Jessi's Medical Lake Triathlon race. In true Emma and Nana style we went to Joann's, got glittery visors, tons of glittery stickers, a blue boa, and sign materials. Saturday morning after our slumber party, (we didn't get much sleep because of all the thunder and lightening), we crafted our little hearts out. We decorated our visors, matching water holders, and made signs. We then headed out to cheer! What a hoot!! Seeing Rog take first place at that race and Jessi take the first woman in the race made me, once again, appreciate their dedication, courage, and training for this sport!! We loved cheering for them!!

3) BIRTHDAY SPA TIME WITH JESSI:
June 24th hold special meaning for me since 32 years ago Jessi was born on that day. To celebrate her birthday this year, I took Jessi to Spa Paradiso where we both had massages and then had a wonderful Davenport lunch! What a treat to spend that fun and relaxing time together getting pampered!! Massages and spa time really reignite my spirit!!

4)JACOB'S OVERNIGHT BEFORE HOOPFEST WEEKEND/ FUN WITH JENNA:
The end of June is always crazy with athletic events like Ironman and Hoopfest! The night before Hoopfest started, and Ryan played for two teams, Jacob stayed overnight. It seems like ages since he has had time with us and that he has grown three inches since his last overnight. He and Boppa played basketball and we watched fun movies. The next day we had Jenna, since hours of being on basketball courts in the heat doesn't work well for her, and we went to the water park on the south hill. She is such an energetic cutie and she loved running through the spraying water. What a hoot!!

5) TIME AT THE LAKE:
Since our townhouse is in the midst of construction from our winter flood, and there is dust and construction everywhere, Bert and I took some time to go to the lake and have fun in the sun. My favorite part of our time there was going on the inner tube behind the boat and laughing myself silly!! What a treat to reignite my spirit by just having FUN!!! It was also especially great to have some time with Zac and Kayla. Zac is headed to high school next year and is so tall that he towers over me. Kayla is headed to middle school and is a beautiful young lady both inside and out. It feels like I hardly have time with either of them during the regular school year so some catch up time is so important.

Catching up with myself and those I love is a huge part of reigniting my spirit!!

Speaking of catching up with myself...I head to my annual retreat to Cannon Beach at the end of this next week. My dear friend Sharon and I look forward to this retreat and rejuvination time all year long! This year has been rewarding and very challenging so I feel blessed to get away and get rejuvinated- spiritually, physically, intellectually and emotionally!

Before I head off however I'm headed to SCC this morning to finish cleaning my office and room and get ready for fall quarter!:) Somehow being a teacher never ends! :)

I hope your summer time is full of love, fun, personal rejuvination, and blessings!
God Bless!
Love Linda

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Somewhere Over the Rainbow!








Wow! What a weekend in Puyallup! The highlight was, without a doubt, hearing Emily sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in Ella Fitzgerald fashion! Better yet, she publically dedicated it to her Grandpa Bert, and it's his favorite song! Lots of tears! We are so proud of Emily and all her hard work with drama and singing. She is one gifted girl!!

I'll do a longer catch up post AFTER finals are over!!
God Bless!
Love and hugs to all of you!
Linda

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

WOW,WOW, and WOW AGAIN!: Amy Gets Her Masters Degree From Gonzaga University!!





One of the truly fun parts of being a Mom is seeing all of the milestones my children go through as they grow up....their first steps, first day of school, first date, graduation from high school, graduation from college, getting married, birth of their first child...the list goes on and on. My prayer has always been that they would grow up to be who they are uniquely meant to be, be happy in their own skin, know that God loves them, and that they would fulfill their dreams.
Last Saturday my precious daughter Amy achieved one of her dreams. She graduated from Gonzaga University with a Masters degree in Communications and Leadership Studies. She set a goal, she dedicated herself to achieving it, and she accomplished it in style- getting an A in every class and special recognition of her Masters thesis about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in the workplace.
How Amy achieved this dream is beyond amazing to me. I too have a masters degree (two of them) and the work load at the post-graduate level to achieve a Masters Degree is incomprehensible to most people, unless you have done it. There are hours and hours of going to class, reading academic works, writing and rewriting papers, conferences with academic advisors, presentations to give, more papers to write, an oral exam and presentation of your thesis, and writing a thesis that is scrutinized by an academic committee of the faculty of the university.
It is rigorus academic work under any circumstances. Yet to do it , as Amy did, while working part time as the manager of a consulting practice, getting pregnant and have a new baby, being an exceptional Mom to four children (and attend all their activities), being an amazing wife, daughter, sister, and friend, participating in a church, and driving children in cars for hours and hours...and hours....well that to me defines an exceptional effort and achievement.
Yet since Amy was a little girl she has never been one to "toot her own horn!" She is very humble and grateful for the opportunity to get an education, but she will be the last person to tell you she got an A in all of her classes or that she did her studying at night so her children wouldn't have to compete with school for her attention.
Saturday was Amy's day...her graduation day. Not only did she look beautiful, she looked radiant. Seeing her cross that stage, and seeing her at her graduation party, warmed my heart.
She was surrounded by Ryan and all four of her precious children, her family, her best friend Jodi and her family...it just doesn't get better than that!
So here's to YOU Aim! I'm bringing a band of horns, trumpets, a big brass band, to "toot your horn" for you! Boppa and I are SO, SO proud of you...who you are as a person, your love for the Lord. the servant heart you have for others, and this huge accomplishment of getting your Masters degree! We love you to the moon and back, and we are proud that you are our daughter!!
May God bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you and give you joy and peace! May you always know His love for you and that you are His beloved child!
Your proud Momma

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Spring Communication Conference- WE DID IT!!!



WOW! It was a bit like birthing a baby...months and months of preparation and hard work, concern and intention...a goal to put on a conference for SCC and the community.
The Spring Communication conference has become an annual event in my life. Five years ago I agreed to take it over to see if we could make it more professional and really highlight our department and bring in new students. I saw this event as a marketing opportunity extraordinare, if we stepped up to REALLY showcase what we give to students in our classes. It could also be a gift to our community because we could market it in Spokane as a free opportunity for education.
What continues to amaze me is that this event grows and grows, and we now have a class that puts this on as a communications internship for students in our communications program. This year we had three student managers and ran it as a business. While I was the CEO, the managers (who participated in the conference last year) learned management skills as they supervised key committees.
This may sound pretty "typical" for a business, yet we were putting on a conference for 1000 people, decorating the huge conference center, providing food, muffins, fruit trays, juice and coffee for a thousand, brochures, marketing postcards and more...on a BUDGET OF $00.00.
That's right NO MONEY!
This student-run conference had to get donations during a recession to function. And they DID IT BIG TIME!!
The marketing blitz was phenominal..complete with professional postcard invitations, readerboard signs, brochures put out, invitation speeches made in classes and churches, and signs everywhere!
This year we had 1100 total participants, gorgeous decorations and flowers, balloons everywhere, platters of fruit and food, Roberta Greene as the keynote speaker, eight other workshops following, and a celebration luncheon to boot.
My role on May 5th was to be the MC for the keynote session, introduce the keynote speaker,
and give two workshops, one at 9:30 with Scott Finnie and one at 10:30 on "How To Become An Optimist!"
Whew! It was an amazing experience with so many highlights...filled with hundreds of hours of work for me and not much sleep:) But seeing the students be self-empowered and do what seemed impossible with such hard work and professionalism made it WELL worth the hard work. Also, when we look at the FTE numbers for our department, we are up 30% since last year! That means more of our students at SCC are being exposed to how to be better communicators!! Another goal reached!
Thanks to all who asked about how it went and special KUDOS to Bert and Amy for coming to the conference to support me (and to Tim for taking care of Jenna so Amy could attend)!:)
As I always say...I have the best job in the world!
God Bless!
Love Linda



Sunday, May 03, 2009

BLOOMSDAY 2009- "WE ARE WOMEN, HEAR US ROAR!"


This quarter I have been teaching a Gender Communication class and it has brought up many memories for me of growing up female! Last week one of my female students was using a thesaurus and actually found us listed under "weaker sex"....She was furious as was I. Are you kidding me???

In 1972 (I was born in 1947) Helen Reddy sang a number one hit called "I Am Woman". This song was controversial at the time and yet is still applicable today. The lyrics say in part:

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back and pretend.

Cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever going to keep me down again!

Today is Bloomsday and the race course will be crammed full of women runners. When Jessi and Amy were little we used to sit at the top of Doomsday Hill and yell for the wheelchair athletes. In 1986 I was running and did the Bloomsday course in one hour and twenty minutes....not a big deal by most standards, but great for ME! On another note, Bert did Bloomsday in 50 minutes when he was 50! Way to go Boppa!

And that's what it is really about in my book...EVERY woman having the right to achieve their FULL POTENTIAL with no artificial restrictions like gender.

This morning my daughter Jessi is in the second seed group and is wearing BLUE..she is number 721. She EARNED this place in the race and is running it so sick most folks would stay home. She'll be out there giving it her all! I'm ROOTING for you Jess Jess!

Amy's best friend Jodi is also running as fast as the wind! All I can say is WOW!! Get those Kenyans Jodi! No matter how fast you run...we are so proud of you!

While I am cheering for all of the athletes who have the guts to do Bloomsday, I am sending up a HUGE cheer for all of my "sisters" who are out there!

Give 'em heck ladies! Let's hear you ROAR!!!

God Bless!
Love Linda

Friday, April 24, 2009

"When You're Smiling, When You're Smiling...The Whole World Smiles With you..."


Where have I been for the last month since the last time I blogged? Literally, in a whirlwind of activities. I got up this morning at 2am to work, and after a brief talk with God took the time to look back on the last month since spring "break". I use those two words loosely since it snowed (again) during this time and didn't feel much like spring, and it didn't seem like a break since I spent most of my time at school working on the spring conference. However, it was a great luxury to get up at 5 or 5:30 instead of my usual 2:30 or 3!

Here are a few of the "current events" in no particular order:

1) I am thrilled to be teaching a new class on gender communication, and I am loving all the new learning I am doing about my own gender and the opposite gender. I have 39 in that class (the cap is 27) and some folks are sitting on the floor since my classroom cannot accomodate that many desks. All have chosen to stay no matter the cramped quarters, and we are having a blast. :) Did you know that if you inject female baby monkeys with testosterone they will be as aggressive as male monkeys? Did you know that in families who choose to raise boys without any guns present as toys that the boys will make guns and swords out of carrots or even pieces of bread? Lots of work to prep for a new class, but well worth the effort!!

2) The Spring Communication Conference is right around the corner. This is an event at SCC, put on by my department, that I have been in charge of for the past four years. We now have a practical business communication class that helps to put on the conference with me, and it is a magical experience to watch students take full responsibility for putting on a conference for 1,ooo people with speakers, food, decorations, and marketing on a budget of ZERO DOLLARS! We get donations for everything. Yesterday we did a "marketing blitz" and it was a huge success! Very rewarding!! This year I have three managers who helped with the conference last year...what a gift! It takes hundreds of hours of work, but it is a life-like learning for my students!!

3) It was so, so fun to have the annual "Easter Extravaganza" at our home again for our entire extended family...complete with spring flowers everywhere, Easter baskets for all, a cool Easter egg hunt, and a wonderful brunch with yummy contributions from family members. I LOVED seeing everyone together having fun and relaxing, and since I love traditions this is one I want to keep up....no matter how busy I may be. He is risen!!

4) Easter weekend Emma came for an overnight and since Jessi and Rog were out of town at a triathlon I got to take her to her first soccer game in Deer Park. She is such an amzing little girl and watching her make 7 goals ( in the pouring down rain)was so fun. Plus her enthusiasm for decorating for Easter, and getting the eggs filled with candy and money, matches my own!!:) We had a blast , and having one-on-one time with her warmed my heart!

5) After our "flood" in January of this year (see previous post for pictures of water soaked carpet and waterfalls coming out of our recessed lighting), we are headed for some major reconstruction this late spring and summer. ..that will be BOTH inside and out as the damage is quite major. Most of the drywall ceilings on our main floor need to be replaced and everything painted. Flooring must come up in some rooms and be replaced. The contractor was here yesterday with a game plan. Since I hate having my home in any disarray, we are "reframing" this positively by saying that we are getting spruced up and insurance is paying for it. A gift that doesn't look gift wrapped!

6) Amy's car accident, where she was driving and another car went through a red light and smashed into the driver's side of her car, left us stunned, angry, sad, and grateful. She has had some awful whiplash-related hurts to deal with (and continuing pain and headaches)...but she could have easily been killed. We are SO grateful to God that she is recovering. My "Mommy's heart" almost breaks every time my daughters are hurt, and this was no exception. First a deer for Jessi and then a careless driver for Amy. God and I have had some long talks about all of this.

7) I have LOVED any time I have spent with grandchildren recently. They are growing up SO fast. Zac is such a fine, tall, and smart young man, and he is learning to DRIVE....that's right, like drive a car!! How can that be???? Having time with Kayla over spring break was such a joy and seeing her play soccer is great fun for me! She is a beautiful young lady, inside and out. Jacob is growing in leaps and bounds and is beyond wonderful and Jenna steals my heart every time I see her. She is talking up a storm and is as cute as her Mama!! What a joy it is to see the babies of my babies grow up to be wonderful, loving, caring, talented children!! Great parenting is going on!!

8) Oh...and one more reframe. We received notice from the IRS that we are being audited for 2005. Since many of our past IRS records were water soaked in the "flood"... as they were stored upstairs where the flood took place...I have been getting additional records from our banks and places we contribute to. It seems we make too many contributions to charity (more than the norm) and that kicks up the IRS red flag that something may be amiss. We tithe at our church (and did at two churches in 2005) and contribute to multiple organizations that need help (Christ's Kitchen, Cup of Cool Water etc). No matter what the cost or inconvenience...we will continue to be givers. We've been audited before and they owed us money when it was all done. But it's lots of extra work when your records look like a combination of cardboard box and paper mache. Again, we're keeping our sense of humor!

That's it for me as April almost comes to an end! Whew! We have so much to be grateful for. God is good and we are grateful! I keep singing the old tune my Mom and Dad loved..."when you're smiling, when you're smiling...the whole world smiles with you!"...and that puts a smile on my face!

Love and hugs to all of you!
God Bless!
Linda

Saturday, March 28, 2009

WHAT A RELIEF: A Change of Pace, A Smile on My Face, A Song in My Heart!!


It started this last Thusday at about noon...I was actually breathing again!!!

I'm talking about the deep kind of breathing you do when you are relaxed and content. Praise the Lord, my grades were in! What a marathon of all-nighters, grading 93 take home finals and then calculating their actual grades! You have to be a teacher to "get" how hard this is. But the good news is...IT'S OVER ...for this quarter!!! I found myself feeling lighter...and I don't mean because of the 4.2 pounds I've lost at Weight Watchers over the last three weeeks. My spirit was soaring, and I started to smile again!

Not only that, I went to one of my favorite stores...JOANN's...and bought ALL of the supplies for the Spring Communication Conference at SCC, which I am in charge of again! Another great relief! I knew the theme for the conference and would have that ready for the first day of school!
More smiling!

Yesterday, Friday, I spent most of the morning at SCC getting my classes ready for spring quarter. A long ways to go, since I'm teaching a new course on Gender Communication, but I am encouraged! :) Just having some time to breathe put a song in my heart! I even cranked up Aretha Franklin on my car's cd player, got out of the car, and danced with Boppa before heading down the road to SCC!

I'm even in the process of getting ready for Easter and I can hardly wait to pour my creativity into designing Easter baskets for family and friends!

I've desperately needed a change of pace, and I've been praying non-stop that God would give me "new eyes to see" and a "new heart" to feel His presence.

As it says in Ephesians 3:20...

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory!"

So today I'm up early, having coffee, getting ready to clean my house, reading The Message, and being reminded that He is able! No matter how hard it gets... I'll keep breathing, keep smiling and remembering that God loves me!

I'm sending smiles, hugs, and prayers YOUR way!
God Bless! Love Linda

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dealing With Tiredness and Anxiety at the End of the Quarter: Live In THIS Moment

When I arrived home yesterday (Friday) after grading non stop (yes, it is finals week) a small package was waiting for me. My friend Sharon sent me a wonderful little book called:
100 Ways To Keep Your Soul Alive: Living Deeply and Fully Every Day!

Just reading the title almost brought me to tears. Truth be told, this has been one heck of a winter quarter. Students and teachers alike are exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I feel tossed and battered from every side, really an emotional roller coaster. There have been the highest of highs and some pretty tough lows. I have been praying constantly asking God to give me perspective , wisdom, strength, and the good sense to rely on Him!

My last class day with students was this Thursday, and I said goodbye to 93 amazing human beings. I am so attached to my students that this is a gut-wretching experience. I have their take home finals to grade and final grades to calculate. My classroom looks like a tornado hit it last week, and I need to prepare to teach a new course next quarter.

Also, Thursday afternoon my nine Washington State troopers (they were in my 8:30 class) came by in uniform and wanted to have a picture taken with me. They also presented me with "The Gold Medallion for the Washington State Patrol". What an honor! I can't imagine not seeing all of them in my 8:30 class.

My life is out of balance and that is not new for me (especially at the end of a quarter) and my soul feels weary. Somewhere in the 254th paper I graded I didn't make much time for prayer, church, or things that restore me. So being a bit depleted, and having another tough situation hit home, I felt pretty empty as I opened the small package from my friend.

The first chapter is entitled Live in THIS Moment. It says:

I was regretting the past and fearing the future. Suddenly God was speaking. "My name is
'I Am.'" I waited. God continued.

"When you live in the past with its mistakes and regrets, it is hard. I am not there. My name is not 'I was.'

"When you live in the future, with its problems and fears, I am not there. My name is not 'I will be.'

"When you live in this moment, it is not hard. I am here. My name is 'I Am.'

So yesterday, after eating lunch and taking a nap, I finished helping Holly with the two flower arrangements I was making for the STIX auction for Tim, Kris, and Anna. I felt a sense of peace. I prayed while I cut flowers and felt a little restored.

I got out my journal and wrote and wrote. I sat by the fire and drank warm tea. I focused on
all the blessings that surround my life.

I met a new consulting client at Lindamans and found I was smiling more and breathing more deeply. I said a small prayer, before I met with her, that God might help me to find the right words so I could be of help to her.

This morning I slept in until 5:00 (that's sleeping in for me:)) and I feel focused on THIS moment and God's healing presence. I'm headed to watch my precious granddaughter Emma swim laps this morning, pick up an espresso, and "keep my hand in the hand of the man who stilled the waters" as the song says.

It has been a wonderful, challenging, long, tough quarter, but that is behind me. Today I'm living in THIS moment!
God Bless!
Love Linda

Thursday, March 12, 2009

THE VIEW FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE HILL: Supporting Schools in a Snow Storm!



The weather in Spokane has been crazy cold. One minute the sun is out and it is 20 degrees. Another minute it looks like a blizzard.

The days leading up to the March 10th school levy votes found the weather to be very unpredictable.

Now let it be said that I live in the Spokane School District, I teach in the Community College district, I have family teaching in the Deer Park School District (son-in law Ryan Farrell), and my daughter Jessi and her husband Rog teaching in the Mead School District.

Let it also be said that I have been a teacher for 43 years and have CONTINUALLY experienced the insanity of putting the welfare of schools up to a vote in a levy procedure.
There is much talk about children being a priority, and yet we don't have secure funding for their education. One year, when I taught K-12, I went door-to-door to get people out to vote so we would have books to give the children in our classes. Frankly it makes me boiling mad.

However, the system is the system and my grandbabies attend the schools impacted by these levies so it was time to activate...no matter the weather.

March 9th I took my District 81 sign from our yard and in the snow went to the bottom of Ray Thor, a busy intersection. I literally jumped around waving my sign at 6am, grinning at voters to remind them to send in their ballots. Now you might think this is odd behavior. However this is one of my usual spots for waving signs to the electorate, be it a presidential campaign or school levy! However this time I was out there in a bit of a blizzard! :) No matter! At the end of the day I want it said that I VOTED and that I encouraged others to vote...aka. making announcents at my church at the end of the church service on Sunday!:) I also called voters I knew in Mead and Deer Park. "Hi! It's Linda...I'm sure you've voted but if you haven't"...that kind of a drill.

God bless my Nana and my Mom who taught me to be an ACTIVIST, not an "It's not my job!" kind of gal! :) Have I mentioned that my Mom, single-handedly, got a group of drug dealers out of the University District in Seattle, Washington and my Nana, who was an elementary teacher herself, took a group of teachers from Montana to Washington D.C. to protest the Vietnam War because that money was needed for education? I come from a long line of tough, proactive , "I have a voice" women!

I love this country, and I want to exercise the vote that many women fought hard to give me.
Those gutsy women took on the "you can't have a voice 'cuz you're a girl" establishment, and I'll be darned if I'll miss the chance to make my voice known!

So the view from the bottom of the hill on snowy Monday and freezing Tuesday felt pretty darn great when I saw, to my great relief, that all of the levies had passed. I even told one of the night crew at Safeway (I see him every morning at 5:15am as I get my espresso and head to school) how thrilled I was that the levies had passed. He told me he had voted against schools and he then had to listen to my entire lecture about property values, children should always come first lecture. Poor guy didn't know what hit him! :)

My Mom and Nana are smiling in Heaven to know I'm carrying on that legacy!

God Bless! I'm off to school...and the best job in the world! :)
Love Linda

Sunday, March 01, 2009

LIFE LESSON at 62: Dear God- Please Help Me Find the BLESS in the Mess!

Simply put...these are times of great personal growth for me. Not your average "Gee whiz I'm learning a few new things that are stretching me" kind of times, but the "Earthquake moving, hold on to your hat kind of times." These are "WAKE UP" moments of the greatest magnitude.

Here, in no particular order, are a few of my most recent (and often repeated) learnings:

LESSON #1: LIFE IS NOT A DRESS REHEARSAL !

There is NO do over. This is it! This glorious life I am given from God is at once magnificent and short. Very, very short! I remember a profound conversation I had with my Mom. She described the stage of life she was in as she watched her husband and friends die. She very softly said these words to me...."One day honey, it just happens. You start to lose them. But don't let it consume you. They would want you to REALLY live your life since they can't live theirs."

First, Erik Anderson. Then Pat Bartlett. I came home yesterday to see that my dear friend Pat Bartlett had died. On February 6th she was diagnosed with glioblastoma (a rare and aggressive brain cancer) and on February 25th she went home to the Lord.

Are you kidding me??

This healthy marathoner, Harley rider, scuba diver, Bible study leader, business owner who has framed almost every picture I have ever framed in the past 15 years, devoted wife, mother and grandma of 6...was GONE ...in a heartbeat. She wasn't even sick and then BOOM!

So today I am again reminded to love my life, no matter the stressors...love ALL of it... when it glorious, fun, exciting, fulfilling and love it just as much when it is messy, unpredicatable, unnerving, and challenging. This is NOT a dress rehearsal!

LESSON #2: LIVE AS IF YOU HAVE A FULL CUP !

You often hear the question, "Is your cup half empty or half full?" And the notion is that the optimists see their cup as half full, the pessimists see it as half empty.

My take on this? Who wants a half-full cup? Not me! Like Loretta LaRoche, a stress management consultant, I want to say "My cup runneth over!" I want to see all of that abundance slopping over from the brim of my cup!

Some time back Amy taught me the phrase.."Blessed Beyond Measure!" I love to say those words and how I FEEL after I say them. "My cup runneth over" comes straight from the Bible and the phrase ends with..."Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever!" I feel such a sense of peace when this is my outlook.

Right now these are challenging times. It is easy to hear the media messages and align my view of life with the ups and downs of the economy, the roller coaster known as the stock market. My faith, on the other hand, tells me to see EVERYTHING as a gift, an opportunity to learn and rely on God. I want to approach everything in my life from an attitude of ABUNDANCE, not scarcity!

This hasn't been easy lately as I've sat in countless budget cut meetings filled with fear and dread, always concentrating on what will go, not what will stay. I feel at times like a lone voice when I say..."What I know for sure is that we will get through this. We have done this before. We do miracles EVERY day at SCC and money has never been the root of those miracles!"

I am resolved this morning to renew my efforts to live life as if I have a full cup.

LESSON #3: NOW...IS THE TIME FOR BEING IN BALANCE

This weekend I had a massage. The massage therapist, after digging deep for an hour to grind through the knots in my neck and back, kindly whispered..."Are you taking care of yourself?"

The answer, again, is "No, I'm not." The reasons for this dilemma are endless and hollow.

I want to relax more, smile more, spend more time with those I love who also love me! I want to have more FUN! I want to be more patient with others and have more compassion overflowing. I want to rely on God's love and goodness to sustain me, no matter what! I want to worry less and have less stress by turning it all over to Him.

Awhile back I planted indoor spring bulbs and gardening always sooths my soul. The feel of the dirt, the act of planting a bulb, the expectation of seeing a flower...makes me smile as I anticipate seeing new life! The bulbs are now transforming into a sea of flowers and this morning small daffodils and sweet smelling spring flowers greet me! My sunroom feels like spring!!

Take THAT you long, cold winter!

So this morning as I sit by the warmth of our fire reflecting on abundance, the shortness of life and living life as if I had a full cup...I remember my dear friends Erik Anderson and Pat Bartlett.
Here's to you both! Thank you for gracing my life with your presence. I'll always remember you and live my life to the fullest. That's what you would both want me to do! I AM blessed beyond measure!

God Bless!
Love Linda

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A DAY TO REMEMBER: February 19th, 2009




This morning I just can't stop crying. I opened the Spokesman Review and on the front page is a picture of the runners at SCC running in memory of their beloved coach, Erik Anderson. Erik was killed in a freak accident this last Thursday, February 19th. February 19th is also my Mom's birthday.


Erik Anderson was a kindred soul, a colleague of mine for 12 years. He was unassuming and had a smile that lit up all outdoors. He and I were on the same page when it came to encouraging students. As one student said, "He believed in me when I didn't believe in myself," Another said, and this was a young man I held while he cried on Thursday..."Erik was my father, my mother. What do I have left?" This young man escaped from the violence of war torn Sudan, making his way to Washington in 2000. He lived with a number of foster families and finally came to SCC. He was a raw talent and became Erik Anderson's special project.

Thursday, the 19th, when three hysterical former students found me and said that "Coach has been killed"...I literally raced to the Lair and was confronted by a scene out of a horror film, a nightmare . Police were everywhere, fire fighters and medics were around, the athletic department was holding watch in abject horror, students were pressed into fetal position balls sobbing.

How could this wonderful person, this phenominal teacher, this beloved coach be gone...in an instant? There were and are no words to express the loss.


What I will remember about Erik is his lack of arrogance, his genuine smile, his inclusive spirit, and the authentic kindness he displayed to everyone. I know lots of athletes who are judgemental and critical of those who are not in shape or don't make the right choices. Erik was quite the opposite. Where some might look at those who are overweight with distain and disgust, Erik sought to educate them (us) with a loving hand. He knew that people are more than sports, they are a combination of heart, mind and spirit. He was a dreammaker, not a dreambreaker. People felt loved in his presence.


I saw Erik a number of weeks ago. He called me quite unexpectedly to see if I could talk to him about one of his female athletes. One of the older coaches said that "Linda might have some help to offer" him. When he phoned he humbly asked if someone who was so busy helping everyone could take the time to meet with him. He didn't want to inconvenience me. He was confronting a very awkward situation with this student athlete and wanted to handle it properly. Normally, he said, when it came to running, he would know what to do. But this issue wasn't about running. He needed some help with communicating a tough message. Interestingly enough, I knew the student athlete....so we talked. I will always remember how grateful he was for my insights.

That was Erik in a nutshell. He always wanted to do the right thing.


February 19th has always held a special place in my heart. When I woke up this February 19th my first thoughts were about my Mom. I miss her every day. Her love and devotion shaped my life. She was my rock and my greatest supporter. She wanted to know who I really was, how I really felt. Erik Anderson was someone my Mom would have loved.


Things won't ever be quite the same at SCC. One of our finest is gone. He "got" what it meant to be a teacher and a coach. Those roles, along with being a husband and father, were sacred to him. I will think of him often and fondly. I will see his hard work in the eyes of his students and the dedication of those he coached.

His death reminds me of this quotation:

"Death is a challenge. It tells us not to waste time. It helps us to recognize how much we need each other and share how much we love each other."

God Bless!
Love Linda

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Heart-To-Heart Talks- The Greatest Valentine's Gift


February has been an amazing month! First...a birthday where I felt loved and celebrated and then following on the heels of my birthday, Valentines day! It has, however, also been a month of deep reflection, long talks, self awareness and some raw honesty! I am up for it ALL!

Bring it on!

Those of you who know me and love me know that I love "heart-to-heart" talks. These are the kinds of conversations where masks are peeled back, the phones are turned off, no one talks on a cell phone to someone else while I am there, and the focus is just on "us"...whoever "us" might be!

When the girls were growing up we had family meetings. Sometimes heart-to-heart talks happened there. More often than not they happened in one-to-one conversations, sometimes by a fire, sometimes on a porch huddled in quilts. They were affectionately (and not so affectionately) called "A Come To Jesus Meeting!"...which holds a certain ominous sound of...yikes this is a tell the truth moment..the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

While I savor this kind of honesty, truthfully I often enter these intimate moments with some fear and dread. What will I hear? How will I need to grow and change? What if this relationship isn't strong enough to withstand this truth telling moment?

Many of the heart-to-heart talks I've had in my 62 years have been initiated by me. Others have been initiated by the other person. In every case, "The Talk" was long overdue...it desperately needed to happen to restore life, honesty, vibrancy, clarity, integrity, and mutuality to the relationship. The air needed to be cleared, even though the cost might be the end of a relationship as I previously knew it.

In short, as I reached fifty I said more of what was the truth in my heart, no matter the cost. As I reached 60...my transparency and authenticity doubled! It seems that life is short and pretence sucks the life out of me.

Now please do not think that my self disclosure bleeds all over the place. I am not one to dump my feelings all over another person inappropriately. I also know (usually) when it is "smart" to keep my mouth shut.

I choose this JUST DON'T SAY IT option when:

*Nothing is gained by more honesty. I have put myself out there, and there is no positive return to keep doing so. I have built in radar for well-constructed facades, and I'm no longer very good at pretending that things are OK with some folks ..when in truth they are not. Some relationships can't be "fixed", even when you wish they could be. My radar knows when a person genuinely likes me and cares about me...or they don't. It's all about behavior, not just words. So when they really don't care, but pretend to care, I eventually shut down. It is just too painful to be the only one who cares in a relationship. We may both know it's
a done deal, but ettiquete says just move them out to a distant emotional ring and as John Lennon said.."Let it be!"

* I have apologized and have not been forgiven. For me, this shuts a door. It's a statement that the person is done with me. I make mistakes. I am flawed. But so are those people. I think forgiveness sets US free, even if it doesn't change what has happened. If they truly can't forgive me that is a signal that it is time to move on. I still love them, that doesn't change, but I distance myself from them and there is no point in trying to make the relationship closer.

*It is clear that I am not a priority to the other person. They only kinda, sorta put up with me out of obligation of some sort. Not my cup of tea!

I will make a run at making almost all relationships work better, but when my run hits roadblock after roadblock...common sense kicks in. Sometimes that takes me a long, long time to come to .
I never want to "give up" on anyone, and I don't want them to give up on me.

We took the Jay Hall Conflict Inventory in Graduate School, and I was off the charts in wanting to try and try again...even after a relationship had run its course. My faculty advisor asked me a thought provoking question: "Linda, why do you keep trying to revive something that is clearly OVER?" Great question.

So, in summary, I am letting go and letting God when it comes to some folks. I still love them, but I'm not going to try to improve a relationship that the other person really doesn't want to be in with me. There are too many others to focus on where mutuality, respect and love abound in great measure!! That's where I will put my energy! :)

I WILL have heart-to-heart talks all day long with :

*Those I love who also love me. These people are CONGRUENT. We have a problem? You are mad at me about something I did or said? Let's put it out on the table and talk it through!! There are often glorious results to those chats. Our mutuality requires a commitment from them and from me. This is NOT a one-sided relationship and I am not having to second guess what their remarks mean. They want honesty, but they also give honesty to me.

* Those who WANT to be in a relationship with me and are committed to our mutual growth!
In those relationships heart-to-heart talks bring clarity, new understandings, and a greater depth of self-awareness and other awareness! This sense of being a priority to them makes a difference. Am I a PS in their life? An after thought? Are they someone who gives as much to our relationship as they take?

My favorite Valentine's gift this year was a heart-to-heart talk with my beloved hubby Bert that began on Friday night, February 13th, (and I stayed up until MIDNIGHT because we were still talking). Some of you are reviving yourselves right now at the thought I stayed up that late. Since I am usually up at 3-4am every day, I tend to go to bed early. But NOT this night.

And we were still talking and trying to understand the next day! After 25 years of marriage, we are both STILL committed to personal growth and growing as a couple! This heart-to-heart talk was water to my thirsty soul!

It's Sunday morning, and my Valentine is now up, so it's time to set aside this post so Bert and I can talk again in person!

On that note..I send you love and a huge God Bless!

And by the way, if you read this post and say to yourself..You know what? I am overdue to have a heart-to-heart talk with Linda, I invite you to call me and open that door! I am waiting on the other side!

Love Linda

Thursday, February 05, 2009

YES, IT'S TRUE...Today I'm 62!


Ever since I was a little girl I have ALWAYS loved birthdays. In my photo albums growing up, lovingly constructed by my very own Mom, there are countless pictures of me at my own birthday parties in frilly, tafetta dresses decked out with a large bow in the back.

I always wear a huge grin on my face as well!

Birthdays in my family are not just a day in which to be celebrated, but also a chance to celebrate the people who bless our lives. So today thoughts of loved ones, here and gone, flash through my mind and heart! God has really blessed me by surrounding me with such wonderful soul mates for life...folks who love me and support me, real angels!

My Mom and dad were and are angels in my life! I was adored and cherished, the greatest gift you can ever give a child. Toni Morrison, an acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize winning author once said,

"Every time my children walk in the room I want them to see me "light up"! I want them to know that they hold the key to my heart!"

My parents "lit up" when I walked in the room! They gave me a gift of unconditional love that I have tried to pass on to everyone I meet! I held the key to their hearts.

My precious husband Bert is an angel in my life! When I met Bert my heart was broken. I felt like I might never find someone who could truly love me...for me. Just as I am, flaws and all.
Every day since I've known Bert...I have been loved like my parents loved me. I feel adored and cherished. What a gift to my soul.

And there are NO words that could ever express the gift God gave me when He blessed me with my precious daughters....Jessi and Amy! There are tears streaming down my face as I write this. They hold the key to MY heart! They are angels in my life! I light up inside when I think about them, talk about them, or see them. I remember THEIR birthdays so vividly. You two, and your wonderful families, are my best birthday present EVER!

And then there are my angel grandchildren...a "renewal gift" from God! Another chance to love and be loved. I adore them all and they are a gift to my heart!

And then there are my dear, dear friends...companions in life and truly a blessing from the Lord!
Their love and support makes my world a better place! I am so grateful to each of you for caring about me.

And then there are my students , old and new, whose lives have touched and blessed mine. They have come out of the woodwork lately to say "Thanks!" Nancy, Myia, Holly, Patty, Michael...thank you for your letters and phone calls. I heard from Nancy who was in my class when I FIRST started teaching! What an honor! You are angels in my life!

And to all the other angels...consulting clients, the folks at my church, the gals from my espresso spot who got me flowers yesterday...I am blessed to know you all!

And to my God who made me, one hand and all, who made me Linda, just as I am...I am grateful for your deep and daily love. May the way I lead my life...glorify YOU!

Yes, it's true. Today I turn 62! And I'm living EVERY day as if it was my last!

May God Bless you and keep YOU! May He make His face to shine upon YOU and give you peace!

Love Linda

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Life Lessons As I Approach 62: Live Life With A Proactive Attitude!


In these times that Warren Buffett (the richest person on earth and a savey investor and advisor to Barack Obama) calls "The Pearl Harbor of the economy", there is a sense of unrest and instability everywhere I turn.

There are countless meetings at the college about budget cuts, deep concerns about losing jobs, and a general malaise about when and how things will turn around. The floral person at Safeway is terrified about her cut in hours as is the person at Starbucks who made my espresso. They voice these fears in lieu of saying good morning. The temperatures in Spokane are cold, ice and snow still cover the ground, and many students wonder after all the work of college if there will be jobs to apply for. Things seem bleak and the media forecast calls for more of the same.

More than once in the past few weeks I've heard myself say outloud..."I'm so glad I know Jesus."

Now please don't imagine that this post is some form of a lecture about spiritual life. It isn't. I don't want to suggest that because God is in the center of my life that I am a pollyanna and don't react when I see the huge cuts in my teacher pension.

This post is about what keeps me going when things get tough and having a proactive attitude!

As my 62nd birthday approaches next week, I have made a "gratitude list"...things that I am truly grateful for...no matter how the stock market is doing. My knowing that God loves me is at the top of the list. Every day I feel a deep sense of well being because I'm not alone, and I am deeply loved, flawed as I am.

Also on my gratitude list is my "Proactive Attitude" about life. I inherited this sense of being personally empowered from both of my parents, especially my Dad. Being born with one hand, some parents might have pampered their daughter and only child. Some might have worried and focused on what I couldn't do, rather than what I could do. Not Mark McColm! He used to say "If it is to be...it is up to ME!" He role modeled being proactive at every turn, and he taught me to do the same.

To me living life with a "Proactive Attitude" means several things:

1)I spend time identifying and following through on long-range goals for myself.

2) I feel in charge of making things happen.

3)I feel responsible for my own life.

4) I am driven by a sense of pupose.

5) I am able to choose my own actions.

6)I work to focus my efforts on things that I can control rather than things I can't control.

7) I am driven by my personal values.

8)I believe with all my heart that there are abundant opportunities that await me so I expect great things.

These are all "mantras" I constantly heard from my parents along with one liners like "you can be anything you set out to be!"... "You can do anything anyone else can do if you work hard!" I heard these positive affirmations so many times that they seeped into my bone marrow!

My generation, the Baby Boomers, have never had to really cope with terribly difficult times. Unlike my parent's generation, many baby boomers have role modeled a life of self-indulgence and that having "things" will make someone happy. That never has worked, and it doesn't work now.

We never lived through life events like the great depression, WWI and WWII, and several enormous recessions. My parents did and doing without and having less made them work harder and appreciate what they had earned even more. They didn't expect things to be easy. They would have taken any job, or several jobs, to keep food on the table. Dolores and Mark, and so many others like them, felt responsible for their own lives. They went after life and never felt victimized by it. I never heard a "why me?" growing up. More often I would hear, "Why not me?"

I grew to believe that tough things happen, and you don't "cave" when they do. You aren't a victim and you have NO right to quit.

One of my favorite quotes says:

I am not helpless, I am not hopeless, and I have NO right to give up on myself!

So today I'll go off to SCC with a proactive attitude! I'll take the lessons of my amazing parents with me...wherever I go! I'll put on my favorite CD and let Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin's voices fill the air as my students come into room 239.
I'll remember that God loves me, and I'll let go and let God.

And when asked how I am, I'll say what I've said all week-
"Thanks for asking. I'm "Blessed Beyond Measure!" (a favorite quote I learned from my daughter Amy:))

And to all of you who read this...my prayer is that you too would know the lesson of my parents... that you can have a proactive attitude. It's a choice! There are abundant opportunities that await YOU! Expect great things!

God Bless! Love Linda

Saturday, January 17, 2009

FRESH THINKING: "When Patterns Are Broken New Worlds Emerge!"



Last night Bert and I had the kind of conversation that most people long for all of their lives.

It's the kind of heart-to-heart talk where you hear the intimate whispers of two married people who have spent their lives together and know each other to the core. As they rock away on the front porch, they hold hands and share the deepest secrets of their hearts. One says, "This is who I REALLY am, deep down, who I am afraid to show anyone." The other knowingly says, "I know. That's the YOU that I love!"

While we weren't in rocking chairs, we were by the fire in our living room, afghans covering us, telling the truth about who we are and how we see each other. That's my dream of a "perfect moment"...being truly seen and embraced, just as i am.

We talked about patterns in our lives, patterns we had learned from being very little. We looked at questions like:

*When you were little, what did you have to do to get attention?
*What happens inside you when you get withdrawn and quiet?
* How do you really feel when one of our children ignores you?
*When you look at me, what happens inside your heart?
*What are you most afraid of about getting old?
*Why has going to this little African American church put such a smile on your face?
*What pattern is going on in your life right now that you would most want to change?

In 2008 I started to read the book "Life Is A Verb". I contiunue to read it and refer to it in 2009. This profound book asks this question as a starting point for SEEING the patterns in my life:

*What does it take to fully inhabit your life?

Patty Digh says, "It takes realizing how important the "I" that is you is to the equation. This is not about other people, it's not about changing the world in big ways. it's not even about doing great things - rather, it's about doing small things that give you LIFE, bring you joy, help you inhabit the stories of your days-and by extension, help change the world and the lives of others around you."

To LIVE FULLY , you must be present in the biggest way possible!

Last night's conversation with my dear spouse and beloved life-partner was truly living life fully and having fresh thinking about breaking old patterns that hold both of us back. We both believe that when patterns are broken...new worlds emerge.

At the end of our heart-to-heart talk I again knew something very simple, yet profound:
I will never leave Bert and he will never leave me. It's just that simple.

So today I am on the look out for old patterns that hold me back from being all God means for me to be. I am using FRESH THINKING to breakthrough barriers that I've built to protect me.
I look forward to 2009, no matter what it brings, and I anticipate and expect great things!

God Bless!
Love Linda

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

PUT YOUR "BIG GIRL" PANTIES ON AND DEAL WITH IT!- A Water Feature In Our Living Room






As I came home on Tuesday night, after my first day of teaching at SCC, I was AMAZED to find a "visit" from Mother Nature in our living room and master bedroom! Initially I looked at the dining room table and saw water on it. Hmmm...I thought, how odd. And then I looked up, and looked around, to see drips and small water falls coming through the recessed lighting fixtures. The bucket brigade began!

Long story short, we had a water backup that came from a drain filled with ice on the deck outside our master bedroom. While we had been shoveling the snow from the deck, once the warming took place and more snow came from the roof, the excess water went under the sliding glass door into the bedroom. The carpet was SOAKED and the water came down to the main floor.

So we had two problems to deal with. Getting the snow (and water) removed from the roof and deck, and dealing with he mess on the carpets (and potentially drywall and paint).

As I was placing large pots and pans everywhere my cell phone rang. It was Amy and I laughed as I told her that Bert wasn't home yet, but that I had a new "water feature" in our living room. I even put the cell phone up to the gushing (and I do mean gushing) water so she could hear the melodic sounds!:) Amy asked very graciously if we needed any help. Just as graciously I declined, not wanting to inconvenience anyone at that late hour (and not knowing how anyone could help). The phone rang about ten minutes later and Aim said "We're on our way!"

Meanwhile Bert came home, and I came to the door with a smile and chuckle saying..."Hi, Honey! Welcome home! Remember that "water feature" I have always wanted...well, we got it!" (Please see my previous post about creative problem solving to get the humor in this!)

Long story short, Ryan got on the roof (which is slanted, has tile on it, and is FOUR stories high...see the tiny figure in picture #1 at the top of the photo...that's him)) and started shoveling the remaining snow AWAY from the deck) and Bert started shoveling water off of the deck. I called a water removal service who had put in 36 straight hours with others having the same kinds of problems and could only come at 1:00 on Wednesday to look at the damage. We were grateful that they could come at all...so set up the appointment.

The water removal folks arrived on Wednesday afternoon, and we discovered that the owner had gone to our old church and taken a Sunday school class Bert and I had taught some years back. Reassuring! Larry and his crew took up the carpets, removed padding and put in GIANT fans to start the drying process. So the bed has moved and the master bedroom is now on the walkway on the second floor.

Sounds bleak, sounds stressful.???I guess you could choose that response. But amazingly I am very calm and not very stessed from all of it! I have put my "big girl" panties on and I'm dealing with it! In fact I'm laughing and calling it a "camping adventure".

Now those who know me well, REALLY well, may stand in true amazement at this attitude of "oh well, it's only water" coming from ME??? They may even think I've lost it or I'm just pretending to not be stressed. Yet no one is more amazed at this turn of attitude than I am!!I have not been known as a "laid-back" person about having disruption in my home. But that was then and this is now! New year and new attitude of gratitude!This "keep the little things little, and most things are little" attitude came from seeing a bumper sticker in Maui. It said:

"RELAX...this ain't the mainland!"

I laughed and chuckled about this bumper sticker and reframed it to say, "Relax, this ain't LA or New York!" And I've said it with laughter almost every day since our return from Maui!

So as the REALLY loud fans whir and we dry out through Sunday... as we assess the damage and deal with our insurance company... I feel well and blessed.

To quote a friend:

"I am too blessed to be stressed, too anointed to be disappointed! Winners make things happen. Losers let things happen." Yup, so true!

A special thanks to both Jessi and Amy who offered us a place to stay. We're grateful for your support. For now, we're doing great.

God loves us and all is well, no matter what! Have a blessed day!God Bless!Love Linda

"Just Plain Hard"...

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