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

"Just Plain Hard"...

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