Power Outage!

Early morning storms and those who know me know that I love BIG weather; that’s what began just before dawn. My dogs, however, hate storms, in fact, Shadow actually moves a chair to get behind and under it, where he whines incessantly.  Soleil, not the brightest dog on the planet, seems lately to take his cue from Shadow and now whines as well.  Maybe there’s a blessing in my hearing being less than its pre-surgery state.  How’s that for a positive spin?  We all know I love spin 🙂

Back to the subject at hand.  Being here at the Homestead, I often think of how things were, as my daughters say, “back in the day.”  My first thought when the power went out was whether a power line was laying somewhere, like between my truck and me or on the roof.    My second thought was no Internet, meaning no PC or laptop.  But I was still connected, as long as my cell phone battery held out.  No lights, no running water, affecting bathroom functions as well.  You bet, with a well and an electric pump, no power means not much water available.  I believe that’s enough said, but cell phone in hand, I was able to text my dilemma to my Meghan and post on facebook.  ErinLee will hear about it later; even now, it’s only 10 a.m. in her time zone and I know better than potentially waking sleeping daughters.

Back in the day, and I’ll have to ask my  favorite Auntie Arlene, how where things at the Homestead when the power went out? Did they light candles, perhaps an oil or kerosene lamp?  I’m fairly certain they weren’t concerned about an Internet connection and didn’t have a weather radio connected to NOAA or 24/7 meteorologists on TV.  Maybe they sang together,  played a game or read a book, maybe the Bible and prayed; I’m sure I’ll hear from cousins offering information.  

So I was out of touch, but thanks to the cell, able to post on Facebook and make a few jokes about passing the time singing the blues, accompanying myself on the piano.  There’s that spin again, but to be honest, I soon tired of bad blues and fell back to my standby, not rock’nroll, fan that I am; my first thought was not the old REO anthem, Riding the Storm Out.  A favorite that seemed appropriate during this morning’s big weather was the hymn, Jesus Savior Pilot Me with the familiar lyrics, “Unknown waves before me roll.”  That old seafarer’s hymn goes on to praise the Lord for piloting us through dangerous waters and storms.

Despite all our technology, there’s a raw power to the natural world that isn’t held at bay by anything humans can create.  When the power goes out, you best believe that there is a Power beyond anything on earth and cling to that life-preserver of hope.  Being me, ya’ll knew there was a message coming and here it is.  My faith is anchored on the One who has and will continue to get me through the biggest waves and the most fearsome storms.  My hope is that you already have or find your way to this lifeline as well. 

Be blessed and make it a fabulous day, despite anything going on in your life!

Share

CARRY THE NEWS!

Readers know that I came of age in the late ’60s and early ’70s and that while my beliefs have matured, I still love rock’n’roll, now in the “oldies” category. One song written by Bowie and released by Mott the Hoople in ’72 called for All the Young Dudes to Carry the News. I didn’t start this cold, but sunny Saturday morning with the intent to put up another post. However, one of the habits I have yet to break is morning news. One of the features on the show I watch resulted in this change of plan. I will not grace this post with the name of the offending retailer, will not give them credence by mentioning their name. You can Google the topic and find out for yourself. The purpose here is not to call for rebellion or a boycott as I may have in my younger days. The point here is simple and direct – a message for moms, grandmothers, aunties (men, too, but I believe most of my readers are women) – carry the news to your daughters, granddaughters, nieces, girls of all ages within your sphere of influence.

What is the news? First, the news is that the eight year-old girls in your lives do not need the latest – a push-up swimsuit top to give the illusion of assets not yet developed. That’s what got my attention – the latest trend being marketed to hit the beach in 2011 is a padded, push-up bikini top, aimed at the eight-year-old market. Not 18, not teenagers or adolescents, but little girls, pushing sexuality on innocence.

The concern for me here at the Homestead is the message that as women of all ages, child to aged, you’re not okay, you’re not good enough the way you are. It’s about how you look, how you present yourself and it better be sexy and attention -getting or you’re just not good enough for this culture.

The message is awful, but the NEWS to embed in young women of all ages, wherever you encounter them, is YES YOU ARE! You are good enough, you are valuable and you have great worth!! It’s not about how the world perceives you, what the boys in your class may talk about, what you see in the media at-large – it’s about you, a female of whatever age, and your immense worth and value!

Readers also know my worldview and belief system as distinctly Christian. You don’t come back here often if expressions of God offend you. The concept is central to the subject at hand. Among the women with whom I work, I’m famous for the question – Do you know who you are?? Answer? You are the daughter of a king, not just any king, but the mighty Creator King of the universe – He is your Father and you are His treasured daughter and that, my friends, means something!

Carry the news, repeat it often, loud and proud – You ARE Worthy and of IMMENSE VALUE. Hold this deep in your heart, believe it and share it with those you love. I believe that women of all ages would make better choices if they were grounded in the belief of their innate value to an all-wise and loving Creator Father. Thanks for listening and have a beautiful day!

Share

Guess what, ErinLee? It’s Christmas!!

Sitting at ErinLee’s kitchen table looking out big windows over Lake Union and beyond the Space Needle to the Olympic mountains, snow-capped and beautiful against a hazy, but not rainy, sky and guess what? It is Christmas Day 2010; life is very good. Re the title of today’s post, I must have said those words to ErinLee a dozen times yesterday, though she said more like forty times! The trip went well, the only glitch being that my seatmate on the long leg of the flight spilled most of her apple juice on me. But, it’s Christmas and the flight attendant acted quickly and with numerous blankets, the juice was absorbed and I was virtually dry upon landing. Quick break here to hit the floor with a yoga program while ErinLee runs (literally) to a a nearby store. Later, friends…

A great workout and some of the stiffness from yesterday’s long sit and hauling baggage is released. Now a cool glass of ice water with lemon and I”m refreshed. Back to my seatmate – once she got past the mortification of spilling on me, we had great conversation – she’s a 25 year-old Chinese woman here studying medicine at Johns Hopkins University, an only child from Beijing. She was fascinated by my brain challenge story and had lots of questions. We also talked a lot about recovery issues and she had more questions about my working in recovery from a Christian aspect. All in all a very pleasant and informative way to pass the hours on the plane and guess what? It’s Christmas!!

We took the train back to ErinLee’s apartment, dropped off the luggage and headed out for dinner. Two things of note before going on. I packed like a genius this year – my checked bag was just under 40 pounds for nine days!! Compare that to last year when I was over 50 pounds, kept removing and weighing and ended up with a pile that my dad shipped to me; also my computer bag wasn’t overstuffed so actually was carried onto the plane and not left outside the plane on the “too big” cart. I was definitely impressed with myself! The other thing to note is that my ErinLee is not just vegetarian, but vegan. And that segues beautifully into our dinner.

Being a resident here for three years now and knowing her way around, we walked to dinner at a nearby neighborhood place called In the Bowl, a Vegetarian Noodle Bistro. The place was packed, deliveries going out and take-out being picked up in addition to the diners in the restaurant itself. Huge amounts of food all around us all in various-sized bowls. I had something wonderful – noodles and veggies in a delicious sauce. The carrots were thinly sliced and had adorably-cut edges; they looked like little orange gears in among the noodles. And another thing – pasta is for Italian food, noodles for Asian, which sounds weird to me. Anyway, carrots and other veggies plus the noodles covered in a yummy sauce and I had plenty, with leftovers for breakfast. They’re big on soup here, too, and ErinLee had some kind of soup with rice and big chunky veggies, enough for her breakfast as well.

I can tell already that with all the walking we’ll do and eating the way we’ll eat, that I am going to have a great time and not become sluggish from overeating and not enough exercise. We snuggled up and watched a favorite movie and I slept like the proverbial rock – totally worn out from the last week. Woke to a text from Meghan, followed by a half-hour conversation with Meghan and now a Christmas Day with ErinLee and we’ve decided to do a Chinese restaurant she favors for dinner tonight.

I’m excited about exploring this city in the next week; absorbing the different cultures is one of the beauties of travel. This is an old city with lots of water – lakes, the Pacific and Puget Sound so there’s lots to do and see and I’m rested and relaxed and guess what? It is indeed Christmas! May the blessings of this season be yours. More from Seattle as I ponder the wonders of the Greatest Gift ever, celebrated at Christmas!

Share

Another TA DA for Me!

It’s nearly 10 a.m. on Saturday morning and I am NOT studying, NOT rushing to beat a deadline, NOT frantically looking for one more resource to beef up a reference list. I AM having a ball here in my special kitchen, just me, some great music – Transiberian Orchestra turned up loud – a couple phone conversations, plans to visit my favorite Auntie Arlene in a few hours and NO deadlines for the next several days at least. I AM a happy woman. This is in stark contrast to the last two weeks. I had talked to Auntie Arlene and told her I’d visit in two weeks and probably not call before then either. What a great niece 🙂

The fall term ended last night at 10:59 pm CST – with six minutes to spare, literally, I was submitting my final exam – too close for comfort! Two exams last night – went okay, As, but not 100s; results of the last two weeks’ papers still out, but I’m done! I told my brother, Steve,this morning that I can breathe; the heavy weight is off my chest. And I can dance around my kitchen, having a blast with my own self. God is good.

Less than five days till I’m hugging my ErinLee – counting down and so looking forward to holding her and burying my face in her hair!! Now I’ll do some laundry, begin to pack the bags, clean the house, all those weird /”>going away things I inherited from my mom, though she denies it:)

As the French say, tu connais la musique – translated you know the deal (literally, you know the music) I do know the music and I’ll be doing my thing today, thankful to have completed the term, happy to feel so much lighter and off for a day of visits and errands and life is very good!

Share

Sparkles Revisited…

I haven’t written about Sparkles in a while, but I got a good-sized dose of them today.  In with the beauty was a lesson and that is another Sparkle in and of itself.  What is this about anyway?  To keep y’all in suspense (ancient literary secret) we’ll talk about the lesson first.  Let’s begin with a question.  Is okay really okay or is it just acceptable and maybe not okay at all?  Don’t you love words?

I had an experience at the end of last week that several people told me was okay.  Obviously I wasn’t feeling that way or folks wouldn’t have felt the need to tell me it was.  Regular readers will know that I don’t believe in dwelling in the negative – word or thought.  So I had my experience, was disappointed, expressed it to three people close to me and received that okay response.   I processed those responses, my own reaction, chalked it up to did-my-best and moved on.  Healthy, right?

Today, it was brought back to me in a most Sparkly way!  An unanticipated action  far beyond my control and the picture was altered.  I felt amazingly different.  Why?  Had I changed?  Was I a better person?  Not at all and a lesson I love to share looked me right in the eye.   I was good enough before this Sparkle occurred; I was just as worthy and valuable last week as I am today.  Why?  Because, my friends, my worth and my value is not about what I do, it’s about who and what I am.

Nothing like having your attitude adjusted with your own words, like a cosmic kick in the behind, though I’m not as into the cosmic thing as I am the belief that my Heavenly Father makes use of every teachable moment.  That was my Sparkle for the day – another reminder that we have value because we have it; it is unconditional and not tied to any achievement.  What a gift!  I’m accepting it and thanking my Father for His blessings and His lessons.

Oh yeah, the disappointment, the okay thing?  I got a B instead of an A on a tough class just completed.  The Sparkle?  Found out today that the professor rounded up, if you will, and gave me the A after all.   And B was okay, but bottom line, in all honesty, I’m lovin’ the A.  In my secret heart, A is still better, but I’m a work in progress and will absolutely get this value and worth issue more deeply embedded in my heart and soul as I grow.

My prayer is that you, too, will have a deeper sense of your worth and your value and if you want some encouragement, come on along – it is a worthy journey.

Share

A Special Letter

I just wrote a special letter, a letter to my younger daughter, Meghan Lee.  I didn’t really have time for this today as I’m under the proverbial gun to finish major school work in time to join a group of friends tomorrow.  We’ll see….

The letter had to be written and will be taken to the post office in the next couple hours – has to be today and has to be from the Post Office.  What’s so special?  My girls have birthdays next week, Meghan first and she is 25 on Monday, a postal holiday.  So the letter’s written and ready to go.  Being a writer, as is Meghan, it was important to put my feelings on paper for her. At some point I may post it here, but not without her permission, so maybe next week.  Anyway, back to the research papers. Then it’ll be on to ErinLee, birthday girl on Wednesday – 26 this year and that’s planned as my next blog post.

For today, Joyeux Anniversaire, Meghan Lee, you’re one of the reasons I write!

Share

Furiously Treading…

Last year about this time, a little later actually, I wrote about doing battle with algebra.  This summer I had a great time with my counseling class and am finishing an interesting time with philosophy.  Note: ” interesting” is LeeAnn-speak for I’m not going to tell you what I really think. Here’s a hint:  in one of the papers I wrote in PHIL so far, I compared it to having conversations with a precocious two year-old.  “Mom, why is …?”  “Well, Daughter, because …,”  “Why, mom?”  “It’s about …”  “Are you sure, Mom?”  “I believe so,” ” But do you know, Mom?”  “I’m thinking so,”  “But mom, how can you be sure?”  And on and on to infinity it seems.  So goes philosophy.

Don’t get me wrong – I love all the words – isms and ologies and arguments and proofs, however, there comes a point of absurdity, at least to me, no offense to my professor.  He didn’t begin the whole philosophy thing, we can thank Aristotle, Plato and Socrates for that.  And it’s been interesting, a lot of it, in the true sense of the word.  I believe I’ve learned a fair amount, discovered a new (to me) author engaged in Christian apologetics and resurrected an old friend, yes, books to me are friends and this goes back 35 years.  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – used as a textbook for my first philosophy class many years ago.  It became a favorite, perfect for summer reading and reflection.  And for many years, I read two books every summer – Zen… and Gone With the Wind.  I pulled Zen off the shelf this year – turns out it was the book that influenced my professor toward philosophy.  And the book is by my bedside, to be finished with pleasure after I finish this class.

And what has me furiously treading – reminiscent of the days of trying to pass a lifesaving course, treading water as best as I could to keep my chin above so I’d pass? Completing this class well in the next four days.  That entails finishing a paper worth 20% of the grade and passing a final exam.  I’m aiming for more than just passing; I’m pretty used to As with an occasional B, but this has been a challenge.

So now is the time for me to get back to work – write, write, write, and study, study, study.  You’ll hear from me again, but not till next week when this class is history!!  By then I’ll have started two new ones, the fall semester with two more counseling classes in the first term and two in the second.  Back in familiar and very enjoyable territory.   And back to being a philosopher for me right now 🙂

Share

Reflections on a summer Sunday morning

It’s been quite a week, filled with the usual ups and downs common to women everywhere – highlights and low-lights and life does go on.  Because I’m me, let’s start with a big highlight.  My favorite Auntie Arlene, mentioned often in this blog, had a birthday, 92, to be specific.  Below you see two photos of us, one taken 53 or so years ago here at the Homestead and one taken three days ago on her birthday.

Auntie Arlene and me circa 1957

92nd birthday lunch 7.22.10

We go way back and as I told her yesterday, I treasure our time together. That would be a definite highlight of the last week!

There are more –  a fun cousin’s lunch – hours spent together looking at photos, sharing stories. memories and laughs.  That would be a highlight.

Then there are low-lights: a dear friend receives a cancer diagnosis, another loses her mother, disappointing behavior from someone close to me, rain with what feels like no end.  Altogether a typical week, I guess. We give thanks for the good and take the concerns to the One in control.

On this summer morning of reflection, I’m thanking the Lord for family and friends and casting all care onto Him.   Have a beautiful day!!

Share

What’s in a Number?

Stats, ugh, I’m so not a numbers person, witness my go-round with algebra in the last year.  Those who know me know this, and know also that I believe health issues are a private matter, to be shared if so desired, but definitely not anyone’s business if you choose to keep it to yourself.  As my brother, Steve, says regularly, there’s a reason for health privacy laws.

Close family and friends also know I’m the survivor of a health challenge over the last four years, sometimes kept private and sometimes shared.  So why now and why here?  In an early-morning phone conversation with a dear friend, I was encouraged to share some health news because, as she said, share the hope!  That is the intent here.

Yesterday, during a routine MRI/check-up, my favorite doc (I have a team) gave me a number for the very first time.  After confirming my continued healing and recovery, he shared a stat with me, a statistic, and I was surprised.  I knew, statistically speaking, the initial odds were not great, but had no idea that the point I’m at now is one that, statistically speaking, only 14 out of 100 people with this challenge would reach after four years! That’s what he said – only 14% are still breathing, let alone living well, happy and fulfilled and I’m here.

It was a moment of celebration, hugs all around – my doc, his nurses, the office staff, the friend who accompanies me to all medical appointments, everybody hugging and grinning and laughing out loud – it was a time, let me tell you!!

So here I am, a statistic – feels weird, actually, and I’m not sure I fully grasp the reality, the numbers thing, you know.    Will I dwell on it?  That’s not me, but share the joy?  You bet, for the reason of encouraging others.  I’m still standing through more than one life challenge and my belief system tells me there’s a reason – a greater purpose for this life of mine and I’m here to pursue the dream, the goal, the opportunity to bless others as I have been so richly blessed!

There is hope; there is always hope, just as there is always faith and trust.  This is a great place to be on this beautiful Tuesday morning – a regular day in a regular woman’s life – could be me, could be you or your neighbor or your friend, but a regular person just trying to live my best life on all levels.  And a big AMEN to that!

Ayez un jour béni!!

Share

This isn’t a problem; it’s a feature …

As my dad says, “There you have it,”   My title for the day – a statement I heard from an unnamed source.  I just love it; in fact, it gets better.  The speaker went on to say it was a  “feature” strategically placed to help the listeners learn a lesson. I cannot wait to actually say that to someone and see the expression.  Hope I can do it without laughing 🙂 Don’t you just love words?? I’ve got to take a break and find some music to go with this one; I’ll be back…

Kind of a futile effort so because it’s Friday and I’m feeling the challenge, I mean, feature, of daytime sleepiness with no time for a nap, we’re going to fall back on one of my all-time favorite pick-me-ups, a rousing rendition of Tom Petty’s, I Won’t Back Down. It kind of fits the theme of the day, don’t you think?  So moving forward, here it is.  Sing it with me and let it stand you up.  Nothing like a little feature to brighten your day:)

Share