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 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 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 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 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


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 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

CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING: What To Do When It Just Snows and Snows!!!

I woke up early this morning to see if there had been another snowstorm or if we were REALLY going to start school and the beginning of winter quarter! After doing my exercises and 25 situps and stretches, I got my delicious cup of coffee(a blend we brought back from Hawaii), sat by the fire, and since it was just 3:45 am decided to check a few blogs.

I went to my daughter Jessi's blog about creative problem solving when you have lots of snow, and I couldn't stop laughing!! What a GREAT reminder about making lemonade out of lemons and how to reframe situations you can't control in a positive manner!
As my Dad used to say to me...."Honey, when the going gets tough, the tough get going!"

Part of my genetic heritage is to tackle things in a positive manner, and Jessi's post was a great reminder for me as I start 2009! (so thanks Jess Jess!)

Now some folks may not want to hear these suggestions from someone who just came back from sunny Hawaii. They may even be cynical enough to say..."well, easy for you to say Linda as you have been in tank tops and flip flops for two weeks." Yes, that's true enough. But I think the lesson of doing creative problem solving is a "Life Lesson", not just a lesson about snow.:)

So here are a few of the ways the Salisbury's are using creative problem solving at our house,and in our lives, when it just snows and snows:

*Note: As I said in my post on Jessi's blog, please get a visual picture of solution #1...and no, I am not exaggerating this. Feel free to stop by and observe for yourself :)

1) PROBLEM: When you have a long and narrow driveway that winds DOWN to your carport, and because of all the snow you now have a snow tunnel that extends the last part of the driveway to where you park your cars, your visibility for driving (and not getting stuck) gets limited.

SOLUTION: Do as my dear hubby did yesterday- Take your homemade Barak Obama campaign signs and your garden rakes and tools and plant them along the top ridge of the tunnel to mark your way! No, I am not kidding or making this up! It makes me laugh just to think about it! You have to know and love Bert to know how real this is!

2) PROBLEM: Everyone is talking about and focused on snow to the exclusion of more interesting topics.

SOLUTION: Write down the story of the winter of 2008-09 and take pictures! When you get to be my age you'll have a non-boring story to tell your grandchildren!

3) PROBLEM: You feel stuck inside and feel house-bound!

SOLUTION: Aren't we always saying..."If I only had time, I'd clean up this or that?"
Now we DO have time when we are inside more! We've also been getting out some favorite dvd movies and watching them!

4) PROBLEM: I want to be outside so I can get some exercise

SOLUTION: You burn off 500+ calories per hour shoveling snow!!!

5) PROBLEM: You are feeling kind of down and negative.

SOLUTION: Go shovel someone else's sidewalk or driveway. You'll feel better in minutes! Or another solution is to read the amazing book "Christmas on Jane Street!" by Billy Romp (a true story). What a great attitude adjuster (I got this for Christmas from my dear friend Sharon Hartnett and just finished it yesterday) WOW! What a thought-provoking and inspirational read!

6) PROBLEM: You are teacher and need a creative way to re-engage your students at the start of a new quarter

SOLUTION: Give them this exercise to do the first day of class and have them work with other new students on creative problem solving. Give extra credit for "snow photos"!!:)
Am I on a roll or what!! :):)

Well it's time to get going and get ready to roll...out the driveway, my path marked and my car facing forward in the carport so I'll have momentum (thanks to my sweetie!)

Have fun in the snow today and feel free to send me any "creative problem solving" ideas you have with all this snow! I'll share them in my class!!

God Bless and keep shoveling!
Love Linda

Saturday, January 03, 2009

ALOHA and my Mom and Dad!

One of my goals, while in Hawaii, was to have some closure with my Dad's death over there. Neither of my parents wanted a memorial service after their deaths, so I followed their wishes. However, there was unfinished business for me.

I didn't visit the Royal Mauian, where my parents lived during their time on Maui, until the last day of our trip. I asked Amy to come to take some pictures. I wanted to keep it simple.

We went to the beach where we had spent so much time, found a large slab that looked over the ocean, had some prayer time, and sent two leis out into the ocean. I stood and watched them swirl in the surf (they stayed together) and felt a HUGE sense of gratitude for the parents I had who had loved me so well. They were not perfect parents, there aren't any, but I knew I was deeply loved and adored. They had my back! Many of the values that shape my life today came from Nana Dee and Grandpa Mark!

As we left that spot I felt a great sense of closure. My heart felt peaceful!

So Mom and's to you! As 2009 starts, once again I am grateful, so grateful, that YOU were both my parents. Aloha (hello and goodbye) and Mahalo (thank you) for all you were and are to me!

God Bless you both and may God Bless all who read this!
More soon!
Love Linda

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