When the news of the 9-11 attack came I was on a ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle, off to do a book signing with a friend. The DJ on my favorite station said America was under attack and I thought is this some sick War of the Worlds joke?
It wasn't, and the whole world went into shock. Needless to say, the mall was quiet that day. In fact, every neighborhood was, with people in their homes, watching the horror unfold on their TV's.
Now, here we are, on another anniversary of that sad day, and I'm thinking about all the lives that were impacted in so many ways. The obvious, horrible first one being the loss of people dear to us. Then there was the fear of what would happen next. But so many other aspects of our lives were affected. How many babies were born that day? How many birthdays permanently overshadowed by grief? How many weddings were being planned? How many celebrations of the blessings of life ruined because of this horrible event.
For anyone who had a big moment in her or his life stolen, I'm sorry. For anyone today, who has a birthday or a wedding anniversary I say celebrate. Don't let the evil that was done all those years ago steal your joy. Remember, yes. Remember those who lost their lives needlessly. Pray for their families as this day will always be a hard one for them. But don't let evil triumph. And remember that we are still the United States of America. Yes, we have our differences. Yes, we have our problems. But united we stand, divided we fall.
How would you complete that sentence? What's your pet peeve?
One of mine is when people can't be bothered to return their shopping carts to the spots provided. I've seen many an able bodied lazybones, leave a shopping cart wherever, get in the car and drive off. The bossy mom in me wants to holler, "Hey! Put that where it's supposed to go." So far I have resisted. I've returned a few abandoned carts to their stall though, all the while muttering, "How hard is it to go a few extra steps?" I also do a lot of muttering when we're driving and I see trash thrown out alongside the road. We used to have a house on a little lake and every time I walked around the lake I wound up picking up bottles or candy wrappers or empty chip bags leftover from treats people had bought at the nearby convenience store. Wrappers they couldn't bother to wait to dispose of until they got home. What's with that? Maybe these are kids, who are thinking the same thing they might think in their own house - Mom will pick it up. But your mom can't be everywhere. And why can't you pick up after yourself?
I think back to when I was a kid and try to remember seeing trash by the side of the road. I can't. I grew up in Washington State and maybe we were different and have been invaded by slobs. Or maybe this is a bad habit that's sprung up in just one generation.
Maybe there's nothing that can be done about all of this. Maybe, as in other areas where our culture has slid into bad behavior, it's too late to change people.
Or, maybe it's not. Maybe we can start reminding our kids and grandkids to be good citizens and do their part to make the world a better place, starting in their own community. To not only pick up after themselves at home but when they're out and about as well.
Anyway, those are my thoughts. And that's one of my pet peeves. What about you?
PATIENCE is not my strong suit. I hate waiting... for anything. I'm so impatient I even finish people's sentences. (How rude!)
My latest exercise in patience is waiting to get back on the tennis courts. I had stem cell repair on my knees last summer so had to wait for them to heal. Physcial therapy instead of doubles. Then, I wound up having to patch up a torn rotator cuff end of December. I'm still waiting, waiting to hit the courts. Why is this all taking so long?!
Because it is, that's why. And maybe that's an answer I need to learn to come to grips with as I continue to learn patience.
This appears to be a lesson I will still be working on clear to the end of my life. But it's one worth continuing to work on. How much better life is when we have patience with each other, patience with ourselves. And with God.
Ever pray for something and then wind up emotionally pacing, asking, "When am I going to see an answer?" I have. I still do. I'm big on getting things checked off my to-do list and I'm equally big on getting them checked off my prayer list. It seems much of my life has been one big "When?"... "When are these kids going to be old enough to go to school?!"... "When is my career going to get resurrected?" ... "When is that check going to get here?"... "When is that relative I'm praying for going to get her/his act together?" .... And of course, the same question many of us asked during 2020: "When can we get back to normal?"
Perhaps God's answer to many of those questions would be, "When the time is right." ... "When you're ready." ... Or, when I'm so busy praying for Him to fix someone else: "When you get your act together." I think sometimes the answer to my questions is simply, "When you have learned to trust me enough to be patient." Oh, that again.
Patience with others, patience with myself when I mess up. Patience with God, which equals trust. I think mastering patience the biggest lesson we can learn. It is for me, anyway.
How about you? Is there an area where you need to learn patience?
For garage sales! One person's junk really is another person's treasure. I'm convinced that if you're patient you'll find anything you need or want at a garage sale. For a fraction of the price you'd pay in the store. If you're on a tight budget, if you're looking for furnishings or toys or play clothes, garage sales can be the answer to your prayers.
In our beach town of Ocean Shores (aka Moonlight Harbor) Memorial Day kicks off garage sale season. You can see by the picture below that they spring up like mushrooms. (Those signs were just for one area of town.) Here are some of the treasures I found. Notice the brand new Queen sheet set marked $5. You know what those cost in the store. Score! Same with that smoothie maker, brand new in the box, that I got for a buck. A fun little decoration and Hello Kitty brand new earrings that will make a great present for a granddaughter. In the background you can see a cool painting of Vienna that we picked up years ago. We thought the picture was lovely and it brought back memories of a visit to Vienna when we were newlyweds, living in Germany.
Other finds in the past? How about two twin beds and all the bedding for $150. A Livingston boat? Coffee table? Glider chair, wine glasses, dishes... we basically furnished our beach digs with garage sale finds. Oh, and espresso machines - I have never paid full price for one of those. (I actually have one in my store room right now for backup in case my current model breaks. Gotta have my morning latte!)
Now, it's your turn. What's the best bargain you've ever found at a garage sale?
My mother was amazing. This is not hyperbole, trust me. She just was. She was the last of the June Cleavers, always in her house dress (although not always in pearls). She was involved in our church and politically active. She even wrote a column for our community newspaper. But her family took top priority and she invested an incredible amount of energy in making sure our lives were wonderful.
I can still remember coming home from school to the aroma of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. She hosted weekly tea parties for some of my grade school friends and me, where she taught us manners and how to sew and embroider.
No one had Halloween costumes or parties like I did, thanks to my mother. She could have had a career in fashion design but she preferred to design elaborate costumes for me. I still remember the year I was dressed exactly like Disney's Snow White. She also designed a costume for my nephew who was six years younger so he looked like Doc, one of the seven dwarfs. We were the hit of the school costume parade. When I had my singing telegram company she was the chief costume designer and babysitter.
As for parties, they were legendary - holiday dinners came complete with elaborate centerpieces designed by Mom and kid and teen parties could involve anything from crazy games to a fortune teller (thank you Dad for letting us dress you up!). No one ever wanted to miss a party at our house. Hospitality was her gift as well as my father's and fun and games abounded.
Especially, as I mentioned, at Halloween. Mom and Dad weren't big fans of trick or treating. They came from a generation when trick or treat meant juvenile delinquent behavior. But Mom subscribed to the philosophy that if you had to take away something from a child you should have an alternative to offer. So I got to party. (And show our closest neighbors my costume and wish them happy Halloween... and hope they'd give me some candy. Which they usually did.)
Then there was me, Costume Disaster Central. We won't even go there. Moms these days are lucky. They can go to the store and buy something and their kids will be perfectly happy. My kids... well, there were good years and not so good years, and there's not enough space here to go into some of the disasters that ensued. But, the kids did get to go trick or treating. And I inherited Mom's love of entertaining, so we always had parties, not only for Halloween but for birthdays as well... and for any other reason I could come up with. That is something I know I did right.
Other things, not so much. I didn't inherit my mother's patience and somebody was always getting yelled at. (I blame it on hormones!) All I can say is, I tried. And I still do. But I will never be the woman my mother was.
She's gone now and I miss her terribly. I try to honor her memory by doing for my family as much as I can. If you get my newsletter, you'll get the significance of the pictures I'm posting here, showing a luncheon we had in her honor a few years ago. The daughter-in-law, granddaughters and great-granddaughters are all wearing hats that once belonged to her. (My mom was a stylish lady!)
If your mother is still with you, I hope you'll be able to celebrate together this year and that you'll be able to honor her. Those years go fast. Savor your time while you can!
Next to Christmas, Easter is my favorite holiday. I love the family time, the hunting for Easter Eggs, getting a new Easter outfit. But mostly I love Easter because of the message of hope. Resurrection, new life! It's a time to stop and reflect on how much God has done for the disobedient humans He loves so much. Just as the trees begin to bud and flowers rise up from their sleep in the ground, so we, too, can have a fresh beginning.
I love that! I don't know about you, but as often as I mess up, it's nice to know that I can brush myself off and make a new start. Seeing the flowers come to life reminds me that hope can never stay buried.
You may be feeling in need of a new beginning, yourself, this year. I hope you'll take heart in the message of this holiday. Come out of the tomb and take advantage of the new life that Jesus offers. Leave the past behind and celebrate the fact that death is not the end. It's the beginning of a new, eternal life. He is risen!
Well, there's an understatement. Thanks to the pandemic that bucket list Hawaii visit has been canceled twice. Okay, I get it. I don't need to be running around contracting and spreading germs until we get this thing under control. Happily, my other half and I will soon be vaccinated and ready to at least fly home from sunny CA to WA.
And this is where the rub comes. A certain airline that shall remain nameless just sent us an email telling us that our travel plans have changed and they will be flying us out hours earlier than what we originally contracted for. If I wanted to get up with the birdies I'd grow feathers.
I think this company needs to reword these little announcements. Don't tell me my plans have changed. They have remained the same. Instead say: We've changed our plans and we are now going to mess up yours. That's the truth.
Is this airline going to hear from me? You bet as I checked on line and found there are other options actually closer to our scheduled flight departure. Before this day is over there will be changes made and little Sheila will not be paying for those changes. So there.
Okay, that's the end of the rant. In the eternal scheme of things this is not even as big as a grain of sand. So if I do have to greet the birds I guess I'll do so.
But I'm not goin' down without a fight.
Here I am, standing on the doorstep of a landmark birthday. Wish I could say I'm about to enter my forties. Or fifties. Alas, Mother Nature and Father Time are conspiring against me and turning me old. (Not as old as you might see if you do a Google search. Sheesh. Who started that rumor? Don't rush me!)
It's hard to wrap my mind around the fact that so much of my life has zipped past. Some of it has been hard, some of it sad, most of it good. But now, most of it's gone.
Oh, listen to me. I'm turning into my Father. He spent years at death's door (in his hypochondriac imagination). I am so my daddy's girl. But, like my father, after facing a health crisis, I think I became much more aware of my mortality. Something I sure didn't think about in my twenties or thirties or forties.
Somewhere around the middle of life, it seems, we begin to realize that we have an expiration date. And, hopefully, we begin to make wise life choices and start thinking about doing things that really matter and will make a difference in the world. I like to think that's where I am.
It's awfully tempting to bemoan the white hair I inherited from my dad's side of the family or the spread of wrinkles or the fact that I'm beginning to experience some aches and pains. But I don't want to go there. I want to be thankful that I'm still here, that I have wonderful family and friends in my life, and that I'm able to do something I love for a living. And that my husband still thinks I'm cute. :)
Instead of complaining about the fact that I'm getting old, I'm working to see my age as a blessing. So many people have their lives cut short by tragic accidents or disease or have their life taken by someone else. Old age is a privilege, and if we're still here we are here for a reason.
So, happy birthday to me. Thank you God, for the gift of life. And when my expiration date arrives, thank you for the gift of eternal life. I am going to celebrate big time!
I am now in my third week of dieting in an effort to shed the pounds that have sneakily attached themselves to my body over the last couple of years. For the most part, my regimen isn't so bad ... because I keep sneaking into the chocolate. (Notice which bowl is fuller! A chocolate a day keeps the grumpies away, right?) This, of course, makes the whole weight loss process go more slowly! And that got me thinking. Who's in charge here, my brain or my taste buds?
Taste buds are like willful children. They want what they want, irregardless of whether or not it's good for them. Keeping them in line is a real battle.
From there I got to thinking about how easy it is for us to let things rule our lives that shouldn't. Anger and resentment. Grudges. Who really suffers the most from those? Me. Anger and resentment make me sour and very unpleasant to be around. Grudges destroy not only my spirit but also any chance of healing or reconciliation. (This is not to say if we have someone abusive in our life that we should stick around for the head pounding. Scat. But I don't think we should allow the acid of anger to eat up our happiness.) And how about jealousy? It's often tempting for me to look around at those who are more successful and feel a twinge of that. And yet, would I deprive another person of his or her hard earned success? Heaven's no! The problem with jealously is that it blinds you to your own blessings. We all have our own race to run. I need to concentrate on the lane I'm running in and not be looking around at the other runners.
And I need to give my taste buds a time out! They are not the boss of me. Neither are those other deadlies. So there.
How about you? Who's the boss of you? If it's something that's keeping you from being all you want to be, maybe it's time for a new boss, right?
We have finally said goodbye to 2020. Most of us aren't even bothering to wave. So now it's on to a new year, with new hopes and dreams and plans. Some of us will be making resolutions, some of us gave up on that a long time ago.
I've often heard people say that new year's resolutions never work. Maybe not, but I still like to set goals every year. Somehow that doesn't seen as intimidating as making a resolution. (Although, when it comes right down to it, you need resolution in order to pursue those goals.)
If you're one of those who shy away from new year's resolutions, let me encourage you to take time to set some goals. Why? Because having a goal is like keeping the horizon in sight when you're on a boat, or consulting your navigational instruments. It helps you reach your destination. Goals, unlike a simple resolution, require a plan to help you meet them. And with a plan, you have a better chance to doing that.
This year, I need to take off that ten (okay, fifteen) pounds I've been hauling around. That's the goal. To meet it I need a plan. My plan is to start with my shopping list and not bring home anything that will tempt me. Carbs are going to be pretty much off-limits (something I will be keeping in mind as I shop.) That's the first part of the plan. The second part is exercise every day. We're in sunny California for the winter so I have no excuse not to get out and walk. (In fact, I've already started doing that. Yay me!) The third part of my plan circles back to my eating habits. No after-dinner snacking! I'd pretty much broken myself of this but sneaky little bites of chocolate are sneaking back into my evenings. Gotta nip that in the bud. If I get with the program and lose that ten (okay, fifteen) pounds in January, then maybe I can indulge in a yummy dessert on Valentine's Day.
So there's one goal and the plan to make it happen.
I have a couple others as well. One is to get back to studying German. This will actually be harder than losing weight as I'm becoming mentally lazy in my old age. I'm married to a German professor, for crying out loud, and we have friends in Germany. You'd think that would be enough to motivate me. Alas, it's not. So I'm just going to have to build this into my daily routine. My plan for that is to designate a "class time" for myself every day, first thing in the morning for a half hour after my Bible study and brain games. It has to happen before I start working because if I put it off until "later" later will never come. So, I have goals and I have plans for executing them. Here's hoping!
And how about you? I hope you have some exciting plans and goals as we move toward what we all hope will be a brighter year. Now's the time to start making things happen. (And, by the way, hop on over to the contest page and share your hopes and dreams and goals for the new year. We have a cool prize waiting for someone.)