Sunday, January 13, 2019

Face in the mirror

On Facebook, pictures abound regarding this challenge of then and now. 'Challenges'. I laugh when I see them.

I could post a couple of pictures. Yes, I am a bit lumpier than I was years ago. I have a lot more white hair. The years have accumulated, and I show my age. And, I am beautiful.

Don't take that the wrong way. I can look in the mirror and see what could be there, but instead I see a woman who has had many blessings in her life. I see a woman who has felt deep pain and sadness. I see a woman who has loved and lost and loved again. I like that woman. Inside her are memories preserved, love of family that makes her glow, a heart that she wears on her sleeve and is ready to share it with anyone she meets. Yep, she is a pretty good looking lady.

I don't need a challenge. My life has been a challenge. I am perfect and getting more perfect all the time.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Be a power

When I grew up, there were two walls. One was the Great Wall of China which did not stop their enemies. The other was the Berlin Wall, which we cheered when it was brought down. We have no walls separating our border countries. We do not consider those countries and the people in them as enemies. The problem is not with the Mexican people. It is with a disease that has invaded our country. The money in this country and the evil here feed the drug cartels. Terrorists, drug smugglers, those seeking to hurt our country, use our country, will still find a way in.

When I was a child, row fences separating field from field and neighbor from neighbor were torn down. There was more rich soil to till, and neighbors learned to work together. Nothing is accomplished by anger and hate. Nothing is accomplished with barriers. Only by tearing them down.

This wall between Mexico and the US is a diversion by someone thinking we are dumb enough to fall for his repetitious folly. His game plan (which he uses all the time) is boring and tiresome. We are a nation made up of immigrants. My family and yours. This country became the home of slaves, not by choice, but this country is theirs as much as mine. They, in fact, are more deserving for what they suffered. Shame on those who participate in atrocious acts against any of these.  

We need to get past this arrogance and realize that we are no better than any other country, any other people. Our soldiers have died for this country and other countries. They fought together for the greater good. Hopefully, we learn that we do not need to kill to make a difference. We do not need to rule. Lives have been lost because of power hungry, arrogant people. Shame on us. We should do better. 

Let there be peace and peaceful ways of living in a world that belongs to all of us. Don't be a pawn. Be a power.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

A year of change

2019. As a kid I never dreamed I would live to see 2000. I don't know if I couldn't count or if I was just planning on a short life. However, the number seemed overwhelming. Now we face one more year then we hit 2020.

What did I discover in the past year? Well, obviously I discovered my new husband. For all intent and purpose, I think this must be the top perk of the year. Next, we spent every Wednesday having lunch with the twins and the first grade. We learned that all kids need hugs and someone to care. We had our ups and downs and learned more from the downs than we did from the ups.

For all of us, it has been a year of fear. I found that many people want to be lead rather than find their own answers. It reminds me of how wives always followed what their husbands and community expected rather than think and act for themselves. Through this same vein, it was time for the degradation and abuse of women to have a voice. I grew up in times when jokes about sex and women were considered funny though degrading. Boys were raised by men who thought being a man was the highest honor. Stand up and be a man. Well, we women said, "Stand up and be a woman." Perhaps our daughters and granddaughters will be allowed to change the world for the better and encourage sons to know what it is listen and to have empathy and compassion.

To my dismay, I feel like we have regressed back to the 60's and even earlier. Racism, prejudice, hate, intolerance seem to be on the rise. I cannot criticize anyone for their color or their sexual choices. I cannot judge anyone for their religious beliefs. I will protect the environment but  to my best to fight  climate change. I learned that I can make a difference. I can listen and learn. I can be a leader and not a follower. That was 2018.

Many times I have thought to stop writing. Yes, I am an opinionated woman. There is a voice in me that just will not be silenced. When I write something a bit controversial, it is because a raging voice tells me I have to write about it. I am led by that voice that allows the words to fall on the page. It is not my voice. I have learned to listen and not to be afraid of my words.

I got a year older and found that I think of the end more than ever before. I believe in this mantra for aging adults as we enter 2019: If you have health issues, talk to your family or see the doctor and tell him. Do not let your health go downhill so your family must do for you. You have a choice in that decision. Don't let them down. Do not be a burden. Take care of yourself, so you can stay as healthy as possible. Eat well. You won't live long if you don't. Your family needs to know the status of your health. Go to the dentist and the doctor for yearly exams. Do not SELF-MEDICATE. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Be active in your well-being, because there are people who want you healthy and around for a very long time. The decision is yours. Aging doesn't mean that you get to be irritable and cranky. Life is a gift. Don't waste it. Embrace it. You are capable. This year give your family the greatest gift you can. Take care of yourself.

Yes, a year of change. In 2019, I promise to walk more and eat more veggies. I promise to love more deeply and more people. I promise to take care of the environment. I promise to be more active and not inactive in the things happening in our country and on our earth. I promise to give you, my readers, the best of me. Many blessings be yours in the New Year.

Monday, December 17, 2018

This is the season

A Jewish baby was born in a manger to an unwed mother and an adopting father. Contrary to what is celebrated, this baby was born in the warm months of August or September when the sheep were returned to the fields and when more than likely a census would have been taken, so travelers were not hampered by winter weather.

My friend wrote, "Why are most songs Christ based this time of the year?" His celebration of Hanukkah has just ended. A time of family and remembrance of their own religious freedom. A sect into which God decided to send a baby. Some other friends will soon be celebrating Kwanzaa. A celebration of people, community.  Throughout the winter months, there are celebrations of numerous beliefs and cultures. A season rich with love of humankind, a season of celebrating the earth, a season of celebrating a higher deity, a season of celebrating one another.

I know. We Christians have a tendency to make this all about us, but Christmas isn't about us. It is about what that manger represents, what we learned from that baby turned man. It is about love without judgment. I am no better than anyone else. That is what I learned. I learned that sinner or saint, they are loved. I learned that embracing man/womankind is my task. I learned not to judge and to embrace all cultures. I was raised to believe I could make the world a better place. I grew to understand that not everyone had to believe what I believed. My journey was my own and not to expect others  to fit what I believe.

When I see that baby in our nativity, I see the birth of one who would not want adoration. He would turn away from wanting anything for himself.  He would want us to be active in this world in the name of love. His parables tell us over and over about helping others. He does not ask us to idolize him. He asks us to include everyone. He was Jewish. He never denied that fact. His parents and grandparents were Jewish. He was a dark skinned man with black hair, not the blue-eyed brunette we see so often. He asked that we believe in him and, in essence, believe in the God in every human being.

I remember being teased once for having a new creative hair style. We have a tendency to look at differences instead of offering understanding and love. God came to us in many different ways. None are wrong when they all lead back to Him. Do I say "happy holidays?" Indeed, for I respect all people and wish them the happiest of the season that brings love and laughter into their lives.

So I say to you, "warmest, loving wishes" in this season of hope and love. Be that shining light in the world that brings joy to all around you. This is the season.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Oh, oh, oh

So the candle table wasn't there. Oh, and there was food on the table that was not ordered. Oh, oh, and there were no outside lights for the invitees. And, oh, oh, oh, this is a good one, the cello player informed us a couple hours before that she could not play. She has carpal tunnel.

Well, despite this and more, we managed to get married. Yep, Mr. and Mrs! Gather about one hundred people, get an ordained friend, sign a paper and you become a married couple. Marriage. I'm all for it if it fits. We decided it fit, because we wanted our grandchildren to have married grandparents. And, we sorta like being a married couple. However, we did keep our own names.  I see no reason I have to give up my name. I like it.

I couldn't invite all of you, but I know you would have had a great time. It was a time of old friends, family who traveled to Oregon and lots of fun and laughter. We are old enough to know that we cannot take anything too seriously. All glitches in the plans became improv moments. Nolan hugged his ring bear as tight as he could with it's precious treasure of our rings. Emma dumped piles of snow along the aisle, looking a little like Lucy from Charlie Brown, tossing snow with attitude. We laughed throughout the ceremony and shed tears with friends who shared their feelings with us. It was a celebration not a ceremony.

I'm a little disappointed. When we found that our music was not to be, I had suggested that we have all of our guests hum "Here Comes the Bride". No one seemed as delighted with the prospect as me. We had iPod music, but I still wish I'd heard that humming crowd.

If you are contemplating a wedding, make it your own. Create your own special day. Make sure that laughter is a priority. So I greeted people as I walked the aisle with my son. So I kissed the groom when I arrived at his side. So we teased and laughed during the ceremony. Why? Because it is us. It is what we do. When the ceremony was over, our dear friend Jo Anne who married us held a white branch with mistletoe on it over Loren's head, "You may kiss the groom."

If you learn nothing else from this blog, know that life is easier with light and laughter in it.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Not even a mouse

Emma ran ahead of me. I yelled just before she put her foot down. There beneath her foot was a newly departed mouse. A large one at that. "Gross. That was just gross, Meme. That was really gross." Well, yes, it was gross, and for a woman who hates rodents, I did well in not grabbing the child and running for cover.

I am reminded that on the farm at this time of year mice sought refuge in our basement. My sisters had seen them in the upstairs where we slept, but I had not. Had I seen them, I would have moved in with Brenda. Mice. My sworn enemies.

We are caught in a dilemma at present. Several hummingbird feeders hang on our deck and our trio of tinies come and visit regularly, eating when they are not chasing one another. Our house is surrounded by trees, so feeding the other birds would be a delight. We believe in equality. However, with birdseed comes those critters with long, creepy tails. Thus continue to seek a way to draw birds, yet repel rodents.

There are so many rhymes about mice running up clocks, three that were blind, movies about rats that cook and mice who reside in Disneyland. Seems to me that there is a fascination (that I do not share) with these sneaky, wicked little creatures. I know, love the creatures great and small. Well, not this girl. I say where's the trap and the cheese?!

I was visiting my niece's preschool class when one of the little darlings came over with the class rat. Now I find it hard to put class and rat in the same sentence; however, being a grandma, I knew the rule that you suck it up and do not scare the children. I smiled. Would I like to pet it? Well, not really. Would I like to hold it!!!! Well, there is a point where a grandma must just stand up and say, "Oh, honey, I think someone is calling me." Yes, lying is permissible when it comes to protecting children, er, grandmas.

Truly I must admit that I do occasionally scream when I see a mouse. Can't help it. The shout just pours out like a siren going to a fire. My toes curl, my body tenses, and I am absolutely sure that the little mouse will run up my leg and bite my face off. I blame it on my sister Peg. I remember when I was little and she often stood up on a chair screaming. I used to think she was practicing singing then once I saw a mouse. So, I, too, took on her persona as to the meeting of a little nasty piece of work. However, I do believe that if a mouse can climb up on shelves and up stairs, it surely can climb up on the chair with the screaming girl.

I bet you thought this was going to be a Christmas story. Sorry. I'm still struggling with the mouse Emma about stepped on.  Gross.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Let grateful days be endless

Forever on Thanksgiving Day. The heart will find the pathway home. - Wilbur D. Nesbit

How many times did we sit around the table, focusing on food instead of understanding the preciousness of those moments? No longer can I sit with my parents, my aunts and uncles, my grandparents. Little is the family that remains, yet I am not saddened. I am blessed to have had those times, those people. Each Thanksgiving those faces once more come into view. The dialogue we shared. The laughter and memories that made my family so wonderful. The love that I always knew was there. Even as a child, I was thankful. Now as an older adult, I am truly blessed.

This Thanksgiving I hope you look into the eyes of those surrounding you and understand the gifts of giving. Tuck those moments in your heart for you will take them out and look at them time and time again. Even in the darkest of times, in those of loss and sorrow, the heart that laughed and loved will find warm memories to ease the pain.

Many are not as fortunate as most of us. Perhaps we are their thanksgiving by what we can do to make their lives easier. Perhaps that smile you share with a stranger or the hand given to someone in need will be the giving and the thanks. For in giving we truly receive and are thankful to be tools of hope and joy.

My column is small this week because I want to add this Thanksgiving Song. I am thankful for each of you. Please reach out this week and give others something for which they can be truly thankful. Thanksgiving Song by Mary Chapin Carpenter:

Grateful for each hand we hold gathered round this table. From far and near we travel home, blessed that we are able. Grateful for this sheltered place with light in every window, saying "Welcome, welcome, share this feast. Come in away from sorrow." Father, mother, daughter, son, neighbor, friend and friendless; all together everyone in the gift of loving kindness. Grateful for what's understood, and all that is forgiven; we try hard to be good to lead a life worth living. Father, mother, daughter, son, neighbor, friend and friendless; all together everyone let grateful days be endless. Grateful for each hand we hold gathered round this table.

Many blessings, my friends. Happy Thanksgiving.