And that's it for now sports fans. Speaking of, I guess I'll go ask someone how the Hawks did.
I ended a very fun weekend by going to the Kitsap County wild mushroom show with my buddies Kimberly and Kathy. While most everyone in the county was busy watching the Seahawks - did they win? I don't even know! - I was learning about my favorite fungus and hanging out with good friends. I was surprised to see many mushrooms on display that I've passed when out in the woods, sure they were poisonous. Who knew? Not little Sheila. But then, that's why we have experts, to help us learn more about all that free food we can forage. Next week, if all goes according to plan, I'll be out in the wilds on a foray with a mushroom expert who will teach me more about this interesting edible that offers many health benefits. Woohoo!
And that's it for now sports fans. Speaking of, I guess I'll go ask someone how the Hawks did.
Last night I heard Dr. Caroline Leaf talk about how our thoughts affect every aspect of our lives. According to Dr. Caroline our mind and our brain are not the same thing. The brain is the hardware that does what the mind tells it. She had all kinds of slides and scientific proof for all this, much of which was beyond me. What was easily within my grasp, however, was the fact that our thoughts affect our actions. Every action begins as a thought.
Yes, I knew that... in my head, in that piece of hardware inside my cranium. But knowing that and implementing the knowledge are two different things.
I came away determined to implement that knowledge more effectively, and to do that I had to take a serious look at the thoughts I let rampage around in my brain. Often they are fear and worry based. What if the cancer comes back? What about that burned section of my esophagus, what if cancer grows there? I have an endoscopy looming and part of me doesn't want to do it for fear of what the doctor might find. And then there's the matter of my kids. And my grandkids. I tend to worry about them. This leads to middle of the night stewing sessions where I turn over their problems in my mind, trying to think of ways I can get them on track. (As if this is solely my responsibility!) Worry is a waste of time and lack of sleep is not good for our health. Everything I heard last night confirmed what I've been suspecting for a long time: I need to quit trying to be god of my little universe and fix everyone and everything. I can't. I also can't travel into the future and see what's going to happen next. And I don't need to go there. God's already there and He's got everything covered.
So, what do I need to do? I need to focus on letting go of my fears and concentrating on the blessings of today. I need to quit playing the "What If" Game since I rarely play it in a positive way. (Like, how come I never ask myself, "What if someone sends me chocolate today?" ) No more worrying about what if the cancer comes back, what if a new problem erupts in my children's lives, or what if the economy collapses? Instead I want to start each day asking, "What can I learn today?"... "How can I be a better person?"... "What fun thing can I plan?"... "What can I accomplish?" I want to greet the sunrise with joy, to look around and appreciate the rain that makes my plants grow and the air I breathe. I want to realize what a privilege it is to get to live here on a planet perfectly designed for human life. I want to wake up every morning and quote Psalm 118:24. THIS IS THE DAY THE LORD HAS MADE, LET'S REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT.
I'm starting today with gratitude. Gratitude that I'm still here, that I've got great kids who love me, that I've got a wonderful husband. That I have food to eat and a place to live. That my family cares about me and my friends are fabulous. I don't know what today holds and instead of wondering when the other shoe will drop or what new trouble will hit me I want to be looking for what new thing I can find to be grateful for. There's always something, even in the midst of hard times.
So, today, I'm rejoicing in a new day. Thankful that I'm still here. How about you?
There's nothing like out of town company to help you get reacquainted with where you live. That's exactly what we did when we hosted two ladies from Germany. Our friends hailed from what used to be East Germany before the wall came down and grew up behind the iron curtain. Of course, they were told that the West was evil. I'm glad they didn't believe that!
Sybille and Gundi were the perfect house guests and I hope we were the perfect hosts. We gave it our best shot for two weeks, taking the ladies all around the Pacific Northwest. They got to see a waterfall for the first time, had a day at an American shopping mall and found several goodies on sale, went for a boat ride (thank you Susan Wiggs, boating queen!), visited Debbie Macomber's office and had lunch with the amazing Debbie, had lunch at the Seattle Space Needle, took a ferry boat ride, went to the ocean, had root beer floats and a banana split, saw Mt. St. Helens, shared meals with friends,and learned how to country line dance. We were busy every day of the week. A big highlight was getting to meet our charming mayor of Bremerton, Mayor Patty Lent, who treated them like rock stars, pinned our Bremerton lapel pin on them and gave them each a Bremerton ball cap.
Sybille came bearing eleven pounds of chocolate courtesy of Berggold Chocolates, for whom she was writing a blog on the trip. Berggolda, the German version of Flat Stanley (if you don't know who that is, think the Travelocity gnome) came everywhere with us and had her picture taken with various folks and at our many tourist stops for the blog back home.
Our company had a wonderful time, and so did we. There truly is no place like the Pacific Northwest, and it was fun visiting places where we just don't normally go. For example, I hadn't been to the Space Needle since I was a kid. Going as a grown-up I think I appreciated the view a lot more. And you know what? They still serve the lunar orbiter, an ice cream treat that, thanks to hot water and dry ice, makes a very impressive dessert. A kid at the table in back of us was having one and boy did that bring back memories. I remember my godmother buying me one when she took me to the Space Needle for my birthday.
But you know what was best about the whole adventure? Spending time with new friends and getting to know more about them and their country. My German is still not very good, but I'm going to keep working on it because we want to go there and visit our new friends and let them tour us around their home towns. I bet they, too, will wind up seeing where they live with fresh eyes.
And now, what about you? What fun tourist attraction near your home have you not seen in years? If you had visitors from another country what would you show them?
Our baby got married last week. Sigh. I'd been anticipating this event for months, dieting forever to get in my mother of the groom dress, making plans, packing and unpacking, loading up goodies to take the the newlyweds. And then, in a blink, it was over and all my eye makeup had run down my cheeks. I was not even remotely prepared for the emotional wallop that comes with watching your child get married. Oh, my!
And I was hardly a momzilla at all. Okay, yes, I had one meltdown moment... not one of my finer. And I'd have been saved from that if someone had told me that hiding under the tablecloth of some of those tables in the fancy venue was ... a hole. A sneaky, hiding hole that didn't reveal itself until I set down a vase of flowers and they spilled all over the table. Sheesh. Yes, patio tables pulled in for extra duty do have a hole. And, as one of the servers helping with setup said, it would have been nice if they warned us. I guess better to have that happen to me than the mother of the groom.
Anyway, a good time was had by all. It was fun to be included in all the preparations, especially visiting that amazing L.A. flower market district where we went crazy over flowers. My daughter-in-law has great taste. And my daughter has quite a gift for flower arranging!
We adore our new daughter-in-law and lovely granddaughters. And we are going to enjoy visiting with our son's new in-laws over the years. All in all, a perfect melding of families. Can a girl ask for more? And now, as our daughter once said as a little girl, we can all live happily ever after.
What a funny coincidence that, just as I have a new novel out about weddings, I've got a son getting married! Needless to say, I'm excited. Yes, about the book, of course, but even more so about the fact that our son has found a lovely woman to spend the rest of his life with.
When it comes to marriage, cynics have all kinds of comments. "What's the point when half the marriages in America end in divorce?" ... "It's just a piece of paper."... "Weddings are too expensive."
Well, I must say, I concur with that last observation. When Gerhardt and I married we were the tail end of the old-fashioned reception in the church basement with cake, punch, nuts and mints. Suddenly, everyone was booking glamorous venues and feeding the multitudes. So, yes, weddings these days are big business and a big expense. But a wedding can also be inexpensive - held in a park with friends bringing various dishes. Held in someone's home. Held at the church with cake and punch and nuts and mints. (And okay, bring in some salads and cold cuts!) As for wedding dresses, I've seen gorgeous ones at Goodwill and in consignment stores. You can even rent a wedding dress these days. So, to the newly engaged couple stressing over finances - don't listen to the cynics. You can find a way to have your wedding cake and eat it, too. We can't all have a royal wedding but we can all celebrate.
And weddings are worth celebrating. Yes, many weddings end in divorce but they all begin with hope. And hope is worth celebrating. And yes, that marriage license is just a piece of paper, but it symbolizes something important, the joining together of two people who (at least in theory) will go through life sharing the ups and downs, the highs and the lows, the sickness and health. A wedding celebrates the fact that two people want to spend their lives together, helping each other become all that God wants them to be. A wedding is about even more than the couple saying "I do" - it's about the community coming together to say, "We love you and we'll support you." It's about new love starting out and old love remembering. It's a party, guys!
So, for all of you who have gotten married this summer, to all of you with sons or daughters saying those two important words, I wish you all a happy wedding. Love is worth celebrating so get out there and celebrate for all you're worth!
These days we're all so busy, going in so many directions, it can be hard to stay connected. So Gerhardt's family decided they needed a weekend getaway for the whole gang. We wound up going to "Icicle Falls" (Leavenworth, WA), my favorite fun spot. And we did have fun! My sister-in-law Susan had a myriad of activities planned for us, including making a family tree. There was a lot of sitting out back and singing, many a ping pong war, a croquet championship game, a baby shower, some songwriting and, of course, some shopping.
Three of us visited Kris Kringl, the famous Christmas shop in town. And I came away with a couple of adorable candy cane ornaments... which I'll be giving away this holiday season when CHRISTMAS ON CANDY CANE LANE comes out. As you can see by the pictures below the boys didn't get as into the shopping as we did, but we rewarded them later with Schnitzel at Dukes and Drakes.
The weekend was a success and we're talking about doing it again. I'm up for that?
How about you? What does your family do to stay connected?
No, not the pretty flowers. Those were a nice consolation, a thank you gift from my team that helped me plan our first ever Ladies Night Out in Bremerton. What's ugly is the nasty Shingles rash I had, and no way was I going to gross you out with a picture of that!
Let me tell you, I've experienced a lot of pain in the last couple of years, but Shingles takes the pain gold medal. I'd had it years ago when our kids were little and figured that would make me immune. Silly me. I wasn't. This has been 2 weeks of sheer torture followed by another week and a half of miserable. And still counting, as my poor little infected nerve endings are still settling down. I told my husband it's like recovering from a severe burn.
So, why am I whining publicly? One reason: to encourage you all to get that Shingles vaccine. Yes, I know it's expensive, but trust me, compared to the high cost of pain, it's a bargain. And if your insurance will cover it so much the better. My doctor's nurse did tell me that the vaccine won't prevent Shingles - but it will, hopefully, let you get off with a much lighter case. And for that alone, it's worth it, especially if you're over sixty. (We're more vulnerable as we get older and you can get stuck with lasting nerve damage.)
I have to wait eight months before I can get in and get the vaccine. Meanwhile, I'll have to work on rebuilding my immune system (and learn to be a little less tightly wound since stress can be a trigger), and pray this doesn't come after me again. But you can bet after that eight months is over I'll be at the doctor's office, ready to roll. Maybe I'll see you there, waiting to get yours, too.
Just two short weeks ago I was in Dallas, at the Romantic Times convention with a couple thousand readers and writers, celebrating the joy of books, specifically romance novels. Yes, those paperbacks many people love to make fun of. But no one in Dallas was making fun - everyone was there to celebrate the sparks that fly when a hero and heroine meet and that happy ending we all want in real life.
So, how did we celebrate? We found fellow readers to visit with, we got books signed by our favorite authors, we ate chocolate, we scrounged free books, ate more chocolate, connected with old friends and made new ones. And talked about the stories we love. Some of us even made hats. (A big thank you to Eloisa James for sponsoring such a fun event!)
I had a wonderful time meeting readers. (A special thanks to my friend Shari and her fun daughter Jenny for the fabulous coasters they made me featuring covers from some of my books.) You know, most of us who write would do it no matter what, but it's so much more fun to have others who want to share our stories, who come along and stay with us clear till THE END. For many of us, the Romantic Times was THE BEGINNING of a beautiful new friendship! Thank you readers for making my life possible. I'll see you all next year.
Another Memorial Day weekend - time to go camping, have picnics, enjoy the three day weekend. For so many of us, that's become the focus of the holiday. But it started out with a very different purpose. Originally called Decoration Day, this day was set aside to remember those who died in the Civil War. After World War I the holiday was changed to honor all who have fallen in war.
At this holiday, I often think of my mother-in-law, who signed on as a military wife. She and Dad met during World War II. He managed to get a day off to get married but that was about it. Their wedding night was spent on the beach, and it wasn't a romantic interlude like in the classic movie FROM HERE TO ETERNITY. At one point she felt a pulling on her hair, but it wasn't Dad running his fingers through it. It was wharf rat taking a nibble. Yikes! Dad was career army, and that meant Mom was in charge on the home front, supervising moves and paying rent and keeping four kids busy and out of mischief. I see so many military wives these days doing the same thing, holding down the fort while their husband is at sea or stationed far from home. Military wives, I don't know how you do it, but you have my admiration!
I suspect most of us have a relative who served in the military. I hope we'll all take some time this weekend to say thank you to someone who's served, to remember our fallen. We may not agree with the rightness of a war, but we can all appreciate the sacrifice so many have made.
I'm so glad there is one day out of the year dedicated to helping us remember to thank the woman who gives so much of herself to make our lives good. My mother's no longer with me and I miss her beyond words. She loved and cherished me, supported me in my every endeavor and encouraged me through every trial. She was my biggest fan and my best friend. In short, she was perfect.
Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect mom. Funny though, searching through all my memories, I can't seem to find a single one to remind me that she had flaws. Perhaps that's because her love for me was so great it covered the few small ones she had. I can only hope that, someday, when I'm gone, my kids will look back on our times together and see me through the same rose-colored glasses (although my flaws are a heck of a lot bigger). Because in the end, as the Bible says, the greatest gift God gives us is love. It does cover a multitude of sins. And a mom's love? Wow, does it overlook a lot.
Motherhood is a two-way blessing, isn't it? Those of us who have a good mom receive a foundation for a well-balanced live and the encouragement to reach for our dreams. Those of us who are a mom get the opportunity to help our children grow to their full potential. Momhood is a wondeful thing!
So to all of you celebrating today, happy Mother's Day. To those of us who are remembering, happy Mother's Day. Thank God for Moms!