Monday, December 07, 2009


There is a group of dedicated folks in Walla Walla who are working hard to save essential public transit services for the community. Having worked in Walla Walla for a number of years I am very familiar with the need for this vital resource.

Anyone who would like to know more can check it out at

Monday, November 23, 2009


This Saturday my beloved and I will celebrate our 28th anniversary. WoHOO! In this day of disposable commitment I consider that quite an achievement, especially since we are not just hanging out together, we still really HONOR this union we've built. Because our anniversary comes within just a few days of my husband's birthday we've often used that week as the time for some great vacations to commemorate both. We've done some amazing things... everything from a trip to Haceta Head Lighthouse bed & breakfast on the Oregon Coast (for #19) to a 10 day trip of a lifetime to Egypt on #25.

This year dollars dictate that we keep things fairly simple. But I would still like to make it as special as we can.

We've had our ups and we've had our downs. But through thick and thin, I truly love this man I'm married to and am deeply grateful for the safe haven of our marriage.

Any suggestions for how to spend a romantic weekend on a tight budget??

Friday, November 13, 2009


I’ve been tutoring a colleague in how to work with blogs.
He has had some questions regarding using different fonts
And how things show up that are cut/pasted into blogger.
So I am testing this to be sure I know what I’m talking about before I tell him how to do it.
One of his concerns was that when he made changes to his text in blogger he could find no back button like he is used to using in WORD. I explained that Blogger does not have a back button.
It would be nice if it did, but sadly, there is none.
I sometimes wish LIFE had a do-over button. Don’t you?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Immediate Forgiveness

I was cruising through a bunch of different blogs by backtracking comments and seeing who THEY happen to read and found this sweet gem over on Anniethology

Sometimes when things are stressful, spouses say things they don't do mean or speak without thinking. At moments like this, give each other a pass. Make up a little coupon that says, "This pass entitles you to immediate forgiveness for the dumb thing you said when we were in a stressful situation." Give your spouse a few and keep some for yourself. They may come in handy. Don't dwell on it, harp on it, or drag it on. Just forgive.

Oh yeah, this is an idea I can support.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

BOOK REVIEW - Left to Tell

I recently read the book Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza with Steve Erwin. This was an incredibly powerful book. This is the first person account of a women who survived the horrific mass genocide that occurred in Rawanda in 1994. She did a lot more than survive that unimaginable atrocity. She emerged from the experience with a deep connection to God and found the power to forgive ... not just forgive those who said something nasty or slighted her in some way socially, but to truly forgive people who had brutally hacked her family to death with machetes. This woman does not sugar coat what happened. In harrowing detail she describes how her homeland unravelled into senseless violence that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of her people.
(From BBC News: "Between April and June 1994, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in the space of 100 days")

She goes on to describe how she hid from the killing spree that murdered most of her family, spending 91 days huddled in a small bathroom with seven other women, nearly starving, waiting for the maddness in the street to stop.

During that time the thing that allowed this woman to hold on to her sanity was to immerse herself in prayer and scripture study. She gave over her whole soul to knowing God as everything she new unravelled around her. She rode through waves of terror and rage, absolute shock and horror - and yet came out the other side having found a level of peace that almost defies understanding.

This book raised so many questions for me.

How is it possible that human beings are capable of such senseless violence toward people they knew and cared about?

How is it possible for anyone to fully forgive that level of insane cruelty?

Why is it that so much of the world turned their backs on this atrocity, allowing hundreds of thousands to die without interveneing and yet when WHITE faces are the ones being murdered in other parts of the world (Such as Bosnia)we are so much quicker to step in.

How much did US policy contribute to what happened in Rawanda? Who's version do I believe? (Michael Chossudovsky gives some very unsettling accounts in Part II of Chapter 7 entitled "Economic Genocide in Rwanda", of the Second Edition of The Globalisation of Poverty and the New World Order, Global Research, 2003. This text is in part based on the results of an earlier study conducted by the author together with Belgian economist and Senator Pierre Galand on the use of Rwanda's 1990-94 external debt to finance the military and paramilitary. )

This book makes me seriously ponder many global issues. But it also moves me to reflect on my own faith and willingness to forgive those who have harmed me - in matters from the trivial to the profound.

The writing is clear. The message is clearer. We may be utterly powerless to control what happens TO us, but it is entirely up to each one of us to determine what happens WITHIN us in response to whatever challenges life brings.

Powerful book that I will be thinking about for a very long time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Power of FOCUS

Today I am thinking about the power of focus.

Lots of stuff happens every day - some good, some not so good, some bizarre, some mundane. I decide which of those things I will pay the most attention to. I am in control of my own mental focus.

I believe I have the power to be in charge of my own mood and attitude by deliberately choosing to focus on things I am grateful for, things I am excited about, things that make me smile INSTEAD of staying stuck in dwelling on all that is not perfect in my life. There is PLENTY that is not perfect in my world right now. If I chose to focus on those things I could work myself into a pretty potent pity party. (say that five times fast!) Instead, I am working hard to keep putting my attention on the many things I have that are fantastic. There are a lot of those things in my world as well. It's up to me to decide which ones will get the bulk of my attention.

Recently I had an opportunity to go on a week long cruise with my husband and some other family members to Mexico. We took a Holland America ship to Mazatlan, Porta Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. It was supposed to be a fabulous vacation in the sun, seeing interesting places and having the time of our lives.

Except I got sick. By the second day on ship I was coughing like crazy and felt kinda puny. So I went to the medical center to get some cough medicine. They took my temperature, did a throat culture and diagnosed me with flu A. Which means I was put into quarantine to protect the other passengers from my germs. I DID have fun in Mazatlan. But I did NOT get to go see Porta Vallarta or Cabo. Not only did I not get to see those ports of call, I wasn't even allowed out of my room. Not fun.

The first day I was very understanding about it. There are lots of little old people on cruise ships. I sure did not want to get anyone else sick. I thought with bed rest, pushing fluids and a course of Tamiflu I'd beat it pretty quick. However, my positive attitude about it pretty much went flying out the window by the third day of isolation. I was ready to go postal.

The time I was down was pretty grim. Not only did I feel terrible, I hated missing out on the only vacation I am likely to get this year. Also, I am by nature a pretty social person. Being in solitary confinement all that time was hard to take. However, when I finally DID get to get out of my room (on our way back home) I had an amazing day. Dolphins surrounded the ship by the hundreds, jumping out of the water right up next to the boat and all across the sea. After that we went through a pod of whales. Over and over again they came up to the surface within just a few feet of where I was standing on the deck. They were truly awesome to watch. I saw amazing islands, I enjoyed some good meals. Besides all that, I felt very grateful to simply be able to BREATHE without coughing and to have the freedom to walk around again.

When I think of that trip I could define it as a miserable experience that I spent locked up most of the time. Or I can think of that trip as the vacation I took when I got to commune with dolphins and whales. The choice is up to me.

For me, the most positive way for me to define that cruise to Mexico is to clearly remember BOTH parts of it. Rather than having to view my life experiences in terms of either/or good/bad dichotomy, I prefer to embrace both/and. This vacation was the trip when I got sick AND the trip that I saw dolphins and whales.

I do not want to put on blinders to my experience of being ill. It was a very difficult, painful, disappointing thing to have happen. Yet it also was a reminder to me about how very fortunate I am to have generally good health. There was a point that every free breath I took without going into spasms of coughing truly felt like a precious gift from God. (I was really sick!) It was interesting to watch how long it took for me to start taking breathing for granted again. It wasn't very long. I am trying to HOLD ON to that feeling of gratitude for things as basic as my breath. Remembering my period of illness gets me closer to feeling a deep appreciation for it.

I give meaning to what happens to me on a daily basis. I can whine about the things that do not meet my expectations. Or I can look for the blessings and lessons that are in ALL things that occur, even the painful ones.

I will definitely have pain. Whether I allow that pain to make me miserable is up to me. I really do believe that there are blessings in ALL my experiences. Some float right up to the surface, like those breaching whales and leaping dolphins. Others are harder to identify. But if I look deep, they are always there.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Today I am thinking about Resliency.

RESILIENCY: Able to recover quickly from misfortune; able to return to original form after being bent, compressed, or stretched out of shape. A human ability to recover quickly from disruptive change, or misfortune without being overwhelmed or acting in dysfunctional or harmful ways. As in "Our team showed great resilience," or "Our team had good resiliency."

One of my friends on FaceBook posted a link to a story about a pilot who had the misfortune of having his plane rather seriously mangled by a bear in a remote area of Alaska. The piolt called for help - NOT to rescue him from the bush. Rather, he had two new tires and a few cases of duct tape delivered. Yeah. Duct tape. He pieced his plane back together and FLEW IT HOME where he could have it repaired further.

Now THAT's what I call resilience.

To take a quiz to see how relient you are, go HERE.

Life on the Farm

Columbia Basin Research Farm

Morning at the farm

Where I go walking nearly every day

Blue Mountains in the background

Lovely Oregon sky

Weather Station


Where I live

Hope & Disappointment

After learning I did not get the job I was really hoping I would be hired for, I've been giving a lot of thought to the relationship between hope and disappointment.

Every broken dream that causes me to cry is a direct result of having reached for a place, a person, a thing, or set of circumstances I want to draw into my life. When what I long for doesn't happen, how badly I feel about it seems to be in direct proportion to how much I had hoped. In my mind, the definition of pain is the distance between what IS and what I hope for. Little distance = little pain. Big distance = devastated, bleeding, bruised and battered heart whimpering in a ball on the floor. (Well, figuratively anyway.) What it comes down to, for me, is this: if I could stop HOPING for certain outcomes then I would never be disappointed.

Recently I allowed my hopes to go flying sky high.
Today, my disappointment has my heart crawling lower than a snake's belly.

So was all that hope a mistake?

I don't think so.

I prefer to hold on to the words of Martin Luther King who said: "We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope."

It is an inevitable part of living in this fallen mortal world that we will all experience some shattered dreams and big disappointments. How we choose to respond to those events will shape how we experience our lives.

Sometimes it may seem a bit masochistic or misguided to keep flinging my heart skyward with hope, giving room for deep longing for certain outcomes to happen. More than one person has recently advised me I'd be better off to practice more "acceptance" and appreciation of whatever actually comes into my life instead of forever chasing passionately after different paths. I know that advice is well intended. But it's not for me. I am determined to keep hope alive.

I am a dreamer at my core. I like being optimistic as I reach for different possibilities. It's not without a price. But it is a price I'm willing to pay. A lot of the things I reach for never come to pass. Some of those missed dreams cause me to shrug my shoulders and say "oh well!". Others have sent me huddled into fetal position wailing for days. But I will accept that risk. I would rather have a life of scars from the crashes than play it safe by never striving. I will take the heartbreak. Because I choose to continue to reach for the stars.

Silly girl.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

BOOK REVIEW- Am I Not A Man? The Dred Scott Story

I just finished reading the book "Am I Not A Man? The Dred Scott Story" by Mark Shurtleff. This was a powerful book.

Mark Shurtleff, Attorney General for the State of Utah, spent five years carefully researching the story of Dred Scott, an illiterate slave who sued for freedom in the 1800's. In law school Shurtleff had studied the case of Scott vs. Sanford - a case that is very significant because the Supreme Court had overturned an act of Congress. Years later Shurtleff became interested in the case again, only this time he sought to more fully understand the person of Dred Scott rather than just the facts of legal precedent. He also became very interested in the various members of the Blow family who fought so tirelessly to assist their former slave to win his freedom after having sold him off to help pay their own debts.

The book is very meticulously researched and clearly details many incidents of the time in stark accuracy according to the documents Shurtleff uncovered. While the "personalities" involved are of necessity conjecture, assigning motives, thoughts, and dialogue that are entirely creations of the author, the EVENTS that are reported throughout this book are very real.

Historical fiction is an interesting genre. With some it is difficult to sort out where the history starts and stops and when the fiction begins. This book was a strong departure from that pattern. And that, perhaps, is both the strength and the weakness of this book. There were times as I was reading it that I had difficulty assigning a "voice" to the story as it vacillated between the writer's attempt to create believable characters against the backdrop of such detailed historical accounts. Clearly much of what is included comes from the various letters, newspaper reports, court records, deeds, wills, and other tangible evidence of the times. I found myself continually switching tracks in my mind. Just when I would begin to get caught up in caring about the PEOPLE I was reading about, the tale would then segue off into various factual tangents... a detail about Francis Scott Key or a sideline about various Indian treaties. I found it distracting. YES, they helped portray a more complete picture of what was going on at the time. But for me, too often those details, even though true and sometimes quite interesting, were not entirely germane to the story of Dred Scott. So I felt the narrative was cluttered with way too much of the HISTORY and weak when it came to the FICTION.

I suspect that Shurtleff would be an excellent writer of non fiction accounts that would be fascinating to read. He is clearly an intelligent, articulate guy who has very carefully studied every detail of this time period and of the parties involved.

FICTION writing, however, has more to do with imagination. I would like to see what Shurtleff might do if he were to attempt a straight fiction piece - simply weaving a story of believable characters sorting their way through some sort of conflict or struggle. It would be fine if the backdrop were loosely based on actual events. But to mix the fiction with such detailed research was frustrating for me. I could never fully engage in unfolding of the plot enough to fully care about the characters. Juxtaposed as they were against all the detailed facts kept bringing me up short in how I responded to the book, never letting me give myself over to the degree of willful suspension of disbelief that can make fiction reading so delightful. Still, I could never entirely immerse myself in enjoying the analytical world of related facts that generally appeals to me in reading non-fiction because that kept getting interspersed with dialogue that seemed to me a bit contrived.

So I was both fascinated and frustrated by this book. In many ways it remains a good read and taught me much about our nation's history of that period that I had not known previously. It also made me hungry to know more about the Blows. I was very curious about what led them to have the moral courage to stand up for their friend Dred Scott the way that they did, at considerable risk and expense to themselves. As a follow up to this book I would love to see Shurtleff attempt a retelling of the same period exclusively from their point of view - only this time really allow himself to give way to the fiction. I believe he could accomplish much with that by staying true to the characters he clearly has much admiration for (and rightfully so) if he could manage to avoid being so married to the details of the research.

NOTE: You can read reviews of what others thought about this important book by following links to their blogs listed for the Virtual Book Tour HERE.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


You would think that somebody who has moved as many times as I have would have gotten rid of most of the unnecessary clutter in their lives. Somehow, however, I seem to have accumulated A LOT of stuff.

As I am preparing for a possible move to Alaska, I am re-evaluating how important to me every thing I own really is. It is VERY expensive to ship things up north. So it just makes sense to get rid of anything I currently own which I do not either a)USE or b) really love.

Sounds simple enough. Until I start going through all the boxes I have stored in my basement and in the closets. Oh my. I have things stored there which I have not even LOOKED at in over a year. That by definition should mean I can get by just fine with out it, right? Um, well, sorta. But not THIS piece. ARGH!

I have A LOT of framed photos. When we lived in our big house they were all over the walls. Now they are in boxes. Granted, I spent a lot of money on those frames and some of them are very nice pictures. But I've managed just fine this long without having them out. And chances are, my next house will be as small or smaller than this one. So...what to do with all these pictures???

Then there is the furniture. What about that? Obviously some of it will go with us. But not all. What about the pieces we choose not to take?

I think that's the hard part for me. It's not so much that I have to keep them. I am just very torn on the best outcome for my things. They are way too good to just throw away. I do not have interest or suitable place to have a yard sale. I don't have the time or energy to do Craig's list or eBay. So do I really just give it all away?

Yep. I have enough. There are people who do not. I can give away the things I don't need.

I believe that. Really. I do.

And then I start coveting my own stuff....

WHY would I care about a fancy dish that has been in a box for a year?
WHY would I care about a framed picture I absolutely know I'll never hang again?
WHY would I care about any number of material things I do not use ever?

It simple, really. Each one of these things has so many memories attached. I know the drill - take a box of index cards and WRITE OUT the memory you associate with the thing. If you want, take a photo of the thing to attach to the card. KEEP the memory. Get rid of the THING. It makes perfect sense.

Still, for whatever reason, for me that's really hard to do.

Deep breath. LET IT GO...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Continuing Journey

Those of you who know me well know I have moved A LOT. (Arizona, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Washington, Oregon - with several shifts between various towns...over 25 moves since leaving my parents' home.)

When my job at the non profit ended last July I began looking for a position in or near Boise. I was utterly CONVINCED that was where I would land next, hopefully for keeps.

There were a number of reason I picked Boise. (close to family, nice climate, affordable housing, LDS temple there, right size town...not too big, not too small, but in the words of baby bear in the Goldilocks story, it's "just right".)

However, after MANY applications and six interviews in Idaho, no job floated to the top. I went through every phase of anticipation, excitement, disappointment, worry, crankiness, discouragement and fear you can imagine.

My husband in nearing retirement. I will be primary wage earner for the next 15 yrs. So it is critical that I find a place where I can get a job with decent benefits where we will be comfortable living long term.

So I began widening my net...applied for jobs in lots of different places doing lots of different things: Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Washington, Oregon and Alaska.

And wouldn't ya know, it seems I may have found a hit... in Alaska.

I am working really hard at not getting over confidant. I've had too many near misses over the past few months to dare get cocky again. But this one feels different. This one somehow just seems to be a fit. I passed the phone interview and am now scheduled to fly up for a face-to-face. They will start checking my references this week and I will do a 30 minute presentation to show my stuff...We'll see how it lands....

But through it all I have had such an interesting roller coaster ride of perceptions about what work means. What work do I consider beneath me? What work do I consider out of my league? Why? How come not having a job to go to felt so excruciatingly crummy some days and appeared as sweet respite on others?

In my head I completely understand that my value as a person is NOT defined or limited by what I do to earn a paycheck. Yet in my gut I still tie a lot of my identity to my job.

I've thought a lot about good jobs I've had and horrid jobs I've had and tried my very best to sort out what I need from a work environment to make it be a better match.

What do you like about your job? What do you hate?
If you could do ANYTHING you wanted (and no matter what it was you would get paid EXACTLY twice what you now earn) what would you do?

Work is indeed an intriguing part of our lives. I've had several starts and stops with trying to do some serious academic research about American perceptions of the workplace. Lately, however, I've been too busy dancing in circles with my own attitudes about it all to make much sense of bibliography and footnotes.

Will I get this next job I interview for? I honestly don't know.
But I feel ready for it. I think it would be a good fit.
Only time will tell.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Crazy For the Storm

Check out the review I just wrote of Crazy For the Storm by Norman Ollestad over on Page Nibbers. AMAZING BOOK!!!!

Here are a few links to what OTHERS have said about this book:

June 07, 2009 Sarah Willis in the Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH)

June 14, 2009 Washington Post

July 08, 2009 Pen on Fire - Audio interview of author by Marie Stone

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cool Quote

My daughter-in-law, Tammi, sent me this:

"Every sixty seconds you spend angry, upset or mad, is a full minute of happiness you'll never get back. Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love truly, Laugh uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you smile. Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here we should dance."

I LOVE those words!

Today I begin a whole new round of applying for jobs and wondering where I will be living in the next six months. For the first time in over eight years find myself unemployed.

I could freak out about that. I could focus on the loss of income, the loss of a lot of things. I have teetered a bit close to edge of melt-down angst over this from time to time.

But, gratefully, so far I keep pulling myself back in the nick of time.

I will NOT fall into the trap of "poor me" or blubbering about woulda-shoulda-coulda.

I will embrace new opportunities.
I will cherish time to explore new things.
I will dance.

Come on world, give me your best shot. I'm ready for ya!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Respond Differently

Jen over at Lords of the Manor has come up with an excellent suggestion. Out of the painful event of an injured knee she has come up with a challenge for bloggers to take up. She wrote: "Choose an area of your life in which you can respond differently. Maybe a relationship, parenting, interacting with friends, or maybe like me you need an attitude adjustment. Set a daily goal for yourself and keep track of how you respond differently in this situation, with this person, or with yourself and work on your goal for 4 weeks. Then on August 1 post a description of your goal, how you implemented it, and your results on your blog."

Well, obviously it's too late for me to give it four weeks, so I would not qualify for the prize. But that does not mean it's too late for me to explore areas of my own life where I could benefit from making some changes.

Also, it will be interesting to go back and read what others come up with.
Thanks for the challenge, Jen. Get better soon!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Blessings and Bumps

I just updated my status over on my FaceBook page. I said I am feeling extremely grateful for all my blessings...freedom, loving friends, a great marriage, good books, supportive family, a reliable car, good health, safe drinking water, nurturing spiritual community, a great dog, a prolific garden, technology that helps make my life run smoother (everything from my vacuum cleaner to the computer I'm writing this on...) Yep, I am feeling very richly blessed !

Sure, there are dark spots and bumps in the road. My job ends July 15. I have an interview for another one set up, but even if I do get it, it will be at a significant pay cut and mean going back to that horrible learning curve out-of-my-comfort zone unfamiliarity that I always abhor. Beyond that, there are other glitches to face. A legal battle that has been expensive and mean that never should have been brought against us in the first place. Health crisis for people close to me that I care about. The continuing downward spiral of the economy that has smoked our retirement savings into a mere shadow of it's former robust security blanket. I could easily focus on what's difficult and painful if I chose.

But I CHOOSE to focus on gratitude. I am not unaware of the very real and legitimate problems that must be dealt with. But I am seeing them as just a piece of the puzzle, the shadow side of all that is light in my life. Without the dark side, I would never fully savor the sweetness of all I have that is good. So in a way, I can even be grateful for the bumps...while I do not eagerly invite them I recognize those are often my most powerful teachers in one fashion or another.

I absolutely believe that what I choose to focus on the most is entirely up to me and will be the true determining factor in how I experience my life on a day to day basis. There will be times that I may slip in my resolve to be positive. For today, however, I am reveling in all that is right in my world and feeling ever so grateful for the rich abundance I've been blessed with. Even with all it's perils and problems, my life really is sweet.


I just finished reading reviews of the book "Twilight" over on Jacquandor's blog, Byzantium Shores. (yeah, that's where I usually go when I'm up in the middle of the night and can't sleep.)

I've never read Twilight and don't really plan to. I've heard some people rave about it and some say it is crap. Just not a genre I'm interested in.

I TRIED to read the first Harry Potter book, but it left me cold. I quit after the first 70 pages, baffled by all the hype.

I've been thinking some about why I think of some books as well written and others as not. It has a lot to do with voice. I like a book that uses words well and that engages me into the characters.

I just finished reading My Sister's Keeper when I talked about over on Page Nibblers. I liked that book A LOT. So I picked up another book by the same author, this time trying Songs of the Humpback Whale which I'm having a very tough time getting into. Meanwhile I'm listening to the audio book I See You Everywhere by Julia Glass. That book has me absolutely gripped, although at first the way it kept skipping around in time had me a little perplexed. Once I got the hang of a non-linear story I got very interested.

Another book I recently listened to that I actually liked a lot was Widow of the South by Robert Hick, a civil war novel based on a true story.

Then, for a change of pace I listened to The Blue Zone by Andrew Gross, a thriller about a family ripped apart when the father is arrested for money laundering and dealings with a Columbia drug cartel. He testifies against his partner and the family goes into hiding in the federal witness protection program... one thing leads to another and soon you find that nothing is as it seems.

There are so many good books out there...

It is interesting to me how authors manage to create characters, events, whole worlds sometimes out of thin air. Some pull it off better than others. Some take away my breath with their power with words. Others leave me wondering why I bothered. And isn't it interesting how different people will have such completely different takes on the very same book?

So for the twilight fans or Harry Potter fans ... more power to you for liking those books that I had utterly no interest in. I don't feel the need to bash the books as drivel. I just pass them by and reach for something else. To each their own.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Defining Fun

I recently was given a new visiting teaching route (for the non LDS who read this, that means a list of several women in our church who I will visit on a monthly basis and watch over in case they have any special needs.)

Some of the ladies on my list I've never met. Others I barely know. So, in an effort to get better acquainted I asked them each to answer the following questions:

1. How were you introduced to the church?
2. Who / Where is your family? Who are you closest too?
3. What's the best job and worst job you have ever had? If you could do ANY job you wanted what would it be?
4. What do you do for fun?
5. Do you have any hobbies and/or collections?
6. What challenges are you currently facing?

I very much enjoyed reading the answers that my ladies shared with me.
One in particular, however, gave me much food for thought.

After listing several activities she does in her leisure time she said: "Not all of these things are actually fun....define fun for me......"

Ya know, she has a point there.

What exactly do we mean when we say "FUN"?

According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary it says this about fun:

Main Entry: fun
Pronunciation: \ˈfən\
Function: noun
Etymology: English dialect fun to hoax, perhaps alteration of Middle English fonnen, from fonne dupe
Date: 1727
1: what provides amusement or enjoyment ; specifically : playful often boisterous action or speech
2: a mood for finding or making amusement
3 a: amusement, enjoyment b: derisive jest : sport, ridicule - a figure of fun -
4: violent or excited activity or argument
synonyms fun, jest, sport, game, play mean action or speech that provides amusement or arouses laughter. fun usually implies laughter or gaiety but may imply merely a lack of serious or ulterior purpose . jest implies lack of earnestness in what is said or done and may suggest a hoaxing or teasing . sport applies especially to the arousing of laughter against someone . game is close to sport, and often stresses mischievous or malicious fun . play stresses the opposition to earnest without implying any malice or mischief .

So that got me to thinking about what makes something "fun" for me...

Yesterday my husband and I teamed up to do some work in the yard. He ran the edge trimmer around the fence while I dead headed flowers and together we both pulled lots of weeds. It was work. No - wait a minute. It was fun. Yeah, it was work. But it WAS fun. We both enjoyed it a lot.

I've gone to some parties, museums, amusement parks that were supposed to entertaining only to find I had NO fun whatsoever for one reason or another.

So, in my mind FUN has less to do with the structure or type of activity and more to do with my mindset at the time.

And what determines my mindset? I DO. What happens around me certainly may support or challenge my mindset. But I honestly believe that how I feel at any given time has way more to do with what I'm internally choosing to focus on than it does with any external reality beyond my control.

So I suppose that means I can make my day to day comings and goings about as much fun as I choose to, right? In some cases I would have to work a lot harder at it than in other situations. Still, if fun is determined by how I feel rather than whatever it is I am doing - by extension that means I can choose to have fun a whole lot more often and in more different contexts than I currently do.

Do I buy that? If that is true why don't I have fun more often?

HMMMM. I'll have to think about this some more.

Saturday, June 06, 2009


Today has been a good day. No particular reason. It's not like I did anything particularly special. I got all the laundry done and weeded the flowerbed. I went grocery shopping. I made a special pie. We had leftovers for dinner so I didn't have to cook. Basically it was just a day like any other day. Still, throughout the day I've just had a sense of contentment and peace. I've taken pleasure in noticing little things... my garden is growing like crazy. Strawberries are almost ripe. Lettuce needs thinning AGAIN. Nothing special. Just...a calm, lovely day.

Sometimes it's the simple and mundane that can bring the most pleasure. I've been blessed with opportunities to travel to exotic places. I've done some cool and exciting things. I've met fascinating people. I've accomplished some things I'm down right proud of. But when it comes down to it, it's days like today that define my life the most clearly, far more than vacations or awards. Just livin' the dream, am my pal Matthew would say. I'll take it.

Monday, June 01, 2009


So here is my dilemma...

Part of my brain says not to worry at all about the fact that I did not get the teaching job. Things happen for a reason. There is surely some OTHER opportunity that will present itself eventually. That dimension of my thinking insists we WILL move to Idaho, just on a slightly altered time table. When I am relating from that version of my brain I value determination and tenacity. I say to myself to stick to my guns to build the life I know I want. That way of thinking is goal driven and ambitious. That side of my thinking says don't ever quit.

However, another part of my brain says GIVE IT UP. The fact that you did not get this job you were so absolutely qualified and well matched for is a clear message that you should stop always thinking grass is greener on the other side of the hill. Face that THIS is your place. Stop searching for a way to transplant. Let it go and BE HERE NOW. I live here. So I should LIVE here, not just take up space here while anxiously looking to be someplace else. That side of my brain values surrender, acceptance, walking in faith and peace.

I keep lobbing back and forth between these completely different views of what is best, what is healthy, what is valuable. Both sides of my thinking feel lucid, rational, seeking my best interest. But they are on ass end opposite sides of the spectrum. I am never quite sure which part of my perception to give more credence to.

It's complicated.

No more teaching for me

Well, I got the word.

They hired the other person. I did NOT get the teaching job I had applied for. They said I interviewed very well and obviously had great background, but they made the choice to go with their adjunct instructor who they already knew. From the sound of it, it was a forgone conclusion. They knew who they wanted before the process ever started. GEE, we've never seen THAT happen before have we??

Of course I am disappointed. It felt like such a right match. But I'm not giving up. I'm STILL determined to find a job that will take us to Idaho. I just don't know yet what that will be.

Next on the hit list -

I'm still in the running to be Ass. Director of the Women's Center at Boise State and as Executive Director for a non profit that serves the elderly.
If not either one of those, I'll find something else. Every trip we have made there has confirmed for me that it is the right place for us to be. It WILL happen. Just not the way I thought.

Sad to close the door on my days as a teacher. I was really good at that. Also it is rather scary to have nothing for sure in the wings since my job at STAR comes to a close in July. But it will work out. I'm sure of that.

John Lennon was right. Life really is what happens while we are making other plans. It will be ok.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Creation vs Evolution

I was just reading an intriguing post about the Creation / Evolution debate written by Austin Archer a former professor of mine and my current boss.

I’ve always been baffled by the intensity of debate between those who choose to separate themselves into two diametrically opposed camps of “creationists” and “evolutionists”. It has never seemed like a big deal to me to think that perhaps God used evolution as one of the ways He created the world. The idea that a sacred deity might utilize natural laws to carry how His divine will just isn’t a stretch for me. I don’t particularly care HOW God created life, so long as I know that He did it with purpose.

While I don't agree with everything he had to say, I really liked the notion that Charles Scriven proposed about laying aside the "mutual disdain" that the two opposing camps have so long justified themselves with.

I appreciated the reaction comment by Loren Seibold who said:

"In the end, what needs to be achieved is not a mutually acceptable theory of creation/evolution, but the maturity to disagree and still be respectful."

There are several issues at work throughout Austin's blog posting, the Charles Scriven article he refers to and all the comments associated with each. The basic questions they bring up for me are these:

To what extent can we peacefully agree to disagree on issues and when do we have an obligation to stick up for one particular belief as "right", naming anything contradictory as "wrong"?

Also, what criteria will I use personally to determine "truth"?

Which issues will I consider important to explore/examine/study to understand and which things can I pass by as not of any particular concern or interest and still regard myself as a reasonably informed person?

There are other thought this sparks for me as well ... Thanks Austin for continuing to teach me by helping me to question and consider. Whether it be as a student in your classroom, working with you at STAR, in private conversations or reading your blog I have benefited and learned from you in so may ways.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Limbo Land

I'm still waiting to hear about the teaching job I interviewed for. It has been an interesting process to watch how hope, fear, excitement, and dread keep looping around in my head.

I want this job. Still, I am fearful about assuming the role of full time faculty.
For the past dozen years I've always had some OTHER sort of job for my full time bread and butter work and then done my teaching one or two nights a week (or online) on the side. WORK was something I did to pay the bills. TEACHING was something I did to feed my passion. I have some concern that if my passion becomes my work I may burn out on the one thing that I truly love.

Christmas is fun, but I wouldn't want to do it every day. If it was always Christmas, it would cease to be special.

One of the primary reasons diamonds are considered valuable is that they are relatively rare.

If I am teaching day in, day out year after year after year will it lose the magic?

Part of me thinks it would be better to get some OTHER sort of job in Idaho so I could continue that pattern of keeping my teaching as something "extra" on the side.

But another side of me says I'm sick to death of balancing two jobs and I sincerely do want to turn in my crazy workaholic membership. I want to achieve greater BALANCE in my world. I want the time to simply be and breathe.

IF I were teaching full time one of the blessings would be having my job be doing something I really love. But an equally potent blessing would be having all those yummy breaks away from the work. Week off for spring break, week off for Thanksgiving, two weeks off for Christmas, three months off for summer...yeah, I could get used to that.

But I have heard nothing back from the school yet. I thought I would by now. I KNOW these things take time... but when I interviewed on the 22nd they said they had it narrowed down to just me and one other person, and they hoped to make a decision by the following week. Well, that week has now come and gone without a peep from the college.

What does that mean?
It may mean that they are just slower than they had hoped.
It may mean that I missed this opportunity.
Right now there is no way to know.

So I wait...with hope and fear, excitement and dread.

This uncertainty and anticipation are not my favorite place to be.

But it is what it is.

So I wait.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Write Yourself a Letter

I just opened up yesterday's mail. There was a letter to me from me.

Let me explain.

Several weeks ago I attended a professional workshop. One of the things the facillitator did at the end was pass out a bunch of sheets of fancy stationery and have each participant write a note to themselves to remind us about the most important things we learned from the training and to follow up to see if we had implemented those things. We then sealed these in envelopes addressed to ourselves and turned them in. Now, 6 weeks after the training, she is mailing them to us as a "check in" of whether we did the things we said we would do.

Sort of a cool technique I may use myself in a few different ways.

This is what my letter to myself said:

Take a deep breath and be kind to yourself.
Identify three people:
1) someone you can trust to vent to
2) someone you can ask for help
3) someone you can ask for direction

You are where you are right now for a reason. It's not forever. Take what blessings and lessons you can from this experience. Give what contribution you can and allow that to be enough. Remember to breathe.


I like the reminder. I plan to put the note into a new envelope, stick a stamp on it and hand it off to a friend to mail to me again in a couple months. I have a feeling those words may come in handy in more ways than one.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Amazing Journey of Gabe & Me

One of the interesting outcomes of having married a man 12 yrs older than myself is that along with my husband came four step kids, two of which were closer to me in age than my spouse. Larry's oldest son, Darrin, is now 44. He married at 39 to a dynamite lady named Kris who just happened to have an 18 yr old son. That son had a son shortly there after, the young man you see pictured here - Gabriel. This means that without ever having been a parent himself, Darrin went straight forward to the fun part, being a GRANDPA. Kris & Darrin get Gabe nearly every weekend and have many fun adventures with him.

Today I got to have an adventure of my own with Gabe, hiking up the creek, naming rocks, making bridges for squirrels, examining lichen and appreciating stink bugs. We had a blast. It seems odd at the ripe old age of 51 to be considered any one's great-grandmother. But that's what Gabe knows me as. Maybe it is stretching the point a bit since I'm merely the step-mother of his step-grandfather. Clearly, there are no blood ties between myself and this young man. But family ties have far more to do with choice and aknowledgement and commitment to one another than they do with who begat who.

The ties we build while having "a journey in the wilderness" (as Gabe called it) together in the woods count for so much more than genetics.

I had a great day today visiting with cousins and kin of all sorts ...some with bonds of blood, some united by marriage, some merely affiliated by choice. We looped around through all the incarnatons of "step", and "half", inlaw and outlaw...but all one amazing FAMILY.

This reunion reminded me very much of a different gathering from many years back...when I was a young mother with two little boys celebrating the 100th birthday of my own great grandmother. I described that in a story for Ensign magazine back in 1990 called The Tapestery Called Family.

We are primed by our families of origin to establish certain expectations about what it means to be a daughter, a sister, a mother, a wife, or any other relationship. Because of my own experiences with MY great grandmother my initial assumptions of that role is to think of someone who is old, frail, disengaged from life. But just as I have chosen to have a very different style of marriage and very different parenting style from those of my parents and grandparents, I will also begin brand new traditions in this role.

I look forward to exploring and expanding what it means to be a great grandma to Gabe and all the others who come after him when my own grandchildren start families of their own. Kaylie is now 14 with other siblings following, so in another 10 to 15 years I expect there may be several new faces in the mix. I'm up for it. I think I make an awesome great grandma.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pins and Needles

I'm in Idaho once again - scheduled for my SECOND interview for the full time sociology faculty job I am hoping for. Yes indeed, I made the first cut into the final top three.

I have SERIOUS butterflies. I am trying to let go of all expectation, to simply trust God and the universe to know what is best. I keep trying to pray "thy will be done." But I WANT this so bad I can taste it. It seems like such a right fit for both me and for my family for MANY different reasons.

DON'T get your hopes up I tell myself - stay in a state of optimistic acceptance of whatever may come to pass. But it's too late. Once I got the call that I made the cut my hopes did all sorts of flip flops in my belly. I do want it with a keening hunger that steals my breath.

Heck, I got so excited about the possibility I started pulling books off my many bookshelves and packing to move. Yeah, I get it that is WAY premature. But I had so much nervous energy I couldn't help myself. I packed 10 boxes which are all neatly labled. Garden books. Paperback novels. Old classics. Church books. Sociology books. This isn't a matter of being over confident. I TOTALLY get it that I do not have this job wrapped up. It was more a matter of completely focusing on the reality I desire and preparing for that to happen. It's not that big of a deal if I have to put the books back. If I DO get to move as I want to then yippee, I'm ahead of the game.

I pray for calm. I pray for willingness to accept whatever comes. But right on the heels of that I keep falling back to: Please God, please, please please, if it be possible, let this opportunity come.

I'll be on pins and needles till I hear. I have some nagging concern that if the answer is no - not this job, not this time, not this place that I just may crash and burn. I would hope not. But I suspect the disappointment would be huge. So I am trying to put on the brakes for my eager anticipation about having this particular dream come true. Maybe this is something else all together. Maybe this is just to be a test of my resilience? Maybe this is one more experience of coping with heartache and loss?

I KNOW God lives, I KNOW God loves me, I KNOW God hears my prayers. Yet I also know that sometimes the answer to those prayers is no. I trust that when He does say no that it is not capricious disregard. I know He has my very best interest at heart. But I also know that a big part of this fallen mortal world is to test and refine us and that adversity is a huge part of that plan.

So while I trust & have faith that in the ETERNAL realm whatever happens will be for my good, I do not trust that it will work out feeling good NOW.

So I'm worried and nervous, scared and all wobbly inside.

Oh, how I want this.

But I will breathe deep and do the best I can to be calm.

Interview at 11:30 today Idaho time.

I'll let ya know how it goes.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Finding My Fit

On Friday I interviewed for a full time teaching position at a community college in Idaho. The interview went extremely well. At no point in the process did I feel like I was posing or trying to SEEM like what they wanted. I was simply able to present myself as authentically as possible and describe the way my background would be a match for their needs. EVERY single question they asked seemed like a match to my strengths. Then I did a 15 minute teaching demonstration that went very well. Through the whole process I felt like I was "In the Zone", able to communicate clearly from my own personal best space. There is not one single thing I would change about anything I said.

So now I wait to see if I make it to the next round in the selection process. I think it would be an ideal match. But for all I know, they could have known exactly who they wanted for the job before the screening ever began - which happens a fair amount in academia. What I know for sure is that if for any reason I do not get this job it will not be due to any misstep on my part. I gave it my very best shot. Now I just wait to see how it all unfold.

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Hunt for Gollum

I'm totally jazzed over a link I just picked up from Papa Herman's blog.

Doug Levy, for the Daily Dose, wrote:

Fan-made film taken to new levels

Director Chris Bouchard’s The Hunt for Gollum revisits the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy with a glimpse at a previously unseen part of the tale.

The results belie the miniscule budget. Bouchard made the 40-minute film for just a few thousand dollars, employing makeshift camera equipment, orchestra synthesizers, and volunteer digital animators. Most of the cast and crew — roughly 160 in all — donated their time after realizing the extent of the undertaking.

Familiar faces abound. The film follows Aragorn’s quest to track down the titular ring-craving creature, also featuring appearances from Gandalf, Arwin, and other LOTR characters. The actor portraying Aragorn bears more than a passing resemblance to Viggo Mortensen, while the wizard is a dead ringer for Ian McKellen.

It’s available to watch for free. In order to steer clear of potential problems with movie studios and the Tolkien estate, the filmmakers agreed to make the production completely nonprofit, meaning that the final result is yours to enjoy in its entirety free of charge.

To see the film visit the ‘Hunt for Gollum’ click HERE

Crazy 8 Meme

I picked this one up over on Mimi's blog...seemed like something fun so here are my answers:

8 Things I am looking forward to:

1. Moving to Idaho
2. Watermelon that has taste (note to self, in future no matter how tantalizing they look in the store, do NOT buy watermelon until at least June. May watermelons taste like cardboard, I don't care where they are grown.)
3. Seeing the hollyhocks I planted bloom
4. Next year's Bright Monday picnic (and the one after that, and the one after that...) This is a tradition very worth keeping.
5. Travelling to Italy. (Ok, so this one is not exactly in the works right at this very moment...but SOMEDAY I'll get there yet. Hey, it's MY list, I'm keeping it!)
6. Seeing the new Star Trek movie
7. Getting my laptop back WITHOUT it's slow as molasses in January problems.
8. Did I mention moving to Idaho? Yeah, I know I did. But that is what I am REALLY focused on these days.

8 Things I did yesterday:

1. Worked on Second Chance Act grant and got totally overwhelmed by all the federal reporting requirements
2. Picked up a bed donated by a very nice lady
3. Visited with a dear friend who I trust and respect
4. Appreciated all the trees blooming in Walla Walla
5. Watched the French film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - AMAZING Story!!! Can't wait to read the book. Maybe I should have put that up above??
6. Looked at various real estate websites for homes in Nampa and Meridian
7. Enjoyed time with my dog
8. Started planning the talk I will give in church this Sunday

8 Things I wish I could do:
1. Stay focused on gratitude in the face of adversity
2. Soothe the suffering of people I love
3. Speak Spanish fluently
4. Play the piano
5. Knit (No, I did not forget to take of Mimi's answer, I'm just stealing it. I've never learned how because I just don't sit still long enough. But it seems like a cool and worthwhile practice. Maybe I'll learn??)
6. Keep my office clean and organized for longer than 3 days.
7. Go on vacation - Italy, Greece or even Yellowstone. Unfortunately, due to dollar constraints and work commitments it probably is NOT going to happen this year. Sigh. I guess I'll have to be satisfied with a trip to Utah for Memorial Day.
8. Swim with confidence. I can swim, but I'm always just a little nervous in water over my head. A couple serious near drownings - one as a kid and one as an adult - have made me very wary of water.

8 Shows I Watch

1. House
2. Grey’s Anatomy
3. CSI
4. Star Trek Voyager
6. Numbers
8. (Actually that's about it, and I don't watch any of those faithfully...they are simply things I have watched, sometimes watch or would watch again. I honestly could not tell you what channel any of them are on, what time they play or even what days... I just go grazing for media once in a while and these will catch my fancy.)

That's all that was included in the original meme. Just for the fun of it I am adding these:

8 Life Lessons I have benefited from (or am TRYING to put into practice)

1. Don't sweat the small stuff. (and most everything is small stuff.)
2. There is no such thing as getting it wrong. There is just different outcomes. EVERY path we take will have advantages and disadvantages. Be willing to be open and learn from whatever comes.
3. Take good care of your feet. (and the rest of your body while you are at it.)
4. Find something to TRULY feel grateful for every single day.
5. While relative morality and tolerance for just about everything may be popular, some things really are wrong.
6. Living with integrity matters.
7. Learning something new is great, but there is also tremendous value in REMEMBERING what you already learned and actually putting it into practice.
8. Live with passion.

Ok - there is is. I'm not tagging anyone, but feel free to play along if you choose

Criteria for LIFE

My beloved and I have been looking at lots of houses on the Internet. There are still many things that have to fall into place before we can get serious about this move we want to make, but we are doing lots of pre-planning to be sure we are clear on what our priorities will be when we are ready to make the move to Spudland.

When we look at houses we make two lists: first there is the list of absolute deal breakers - the criteria we MUST have (within a specific price range, all on one level, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a garage, trees in the yard) and things we MUST avoid (busy streets, chronic smell of sugar beets being processed, one-butt kitchens.)

Then we have a whole laundry list of our PREFERRED criteria...things we would really appreciate but can negotiate around. Some are things we could add later if they are not in place when we buy it, some are things that if we had to we could live without.(separate living room / family room, pantry for food storage, fully fenced yard, underground sprinklers, dining room suitable for entertaining, etc etc)

As I think of those lists for looking at houses, it makes me ponder what sort of lists I would craft for my life.

What are the criteria I absolutely MUST have? What are the deal breakers that I am absolutely committed to avoiding no matter what?

What are the things that I hope to accomplish / achieve / incorporate, the things that I wish for and will look for, but can get by with if I do not have?

How do I decide which is which?

I've often heard the story about boiling frogs. It is said that if you toss a live frog into hot water it will leap out, but if you put that same frog into cold water and then increase the temperature bit by bit the frog will adapt to the changes until you have yourself a boiled frog.

Too often people are like that too. Circumstances that would absolutely violate our values if we were confronted with them all at once can creep up on us gradually.

From the physical realm to the metaphysical, I want to get clear on the bench marks I need to look to as guide posts of when I am on track and when I have lost my way.
In terms of physical health...I do NOT ever want to be one of those women who is obsessed with weight or size. But I do want to continue to work toward improving my health. In my 20's and 30's I was pretty trim. However, over the last 10 years I have gained about 3 lbs per year. Do the math. Uh, yeah. It was never a lot at once. Hardly noticeable. But the cumulative effect is that these days I'm a pretty big girl. I decided to do something about it, so I changed my pattern of diet and exercise and managed to drop thirty pounds a year ago. But then I changed jobs so I no longer had access to the college fitness center and I relapsed into emotional eating during stress. As a result,about half of that weight I worked so hard to lose is now back and more is creeping...

So now I need to decide. To what extent am I willing to make a serious commitment about what goes in my mouth and how much I move? How much will those changes be something I absolutely am determined to stick to and how much am I willing to wobble when my job or other circumstances change?

Then I look at other areas, from my prayer life to my finances, my involvement in my community to the ways I relate to family and friends. What are the standards in each of those areas that matter most to me? What ones are negotiable?

Obviously there are things I do not have much control over. It makes sense to be able to accept things that come my way on the winds of change that are outside my sphere of influence. But I am convinced that as I get more mindful of the places where I do have room for choice, I can craft a life by design rather than rolling over and taking whatever I get by default.

Sometimes I go to open houses in neighborhoods where I KNOW I would never choose to live because looking at different kinds of houses gives me ideas of things I might incorporate in other spots. In the same fashion, I look to my friends, my family, my associates for how they fashion their lives NOT so I can keep up or compete in any way. Instead I look to them as role models of both the qualities I might emulate and the characteristics I would NEVER want to demonstrate.

So I am getting more deliberate on my Moving Toward values...the things I want to invite into my life AND my Moving Away values...the things I want to reduce or eliminate insofar as it is possible.

I would love a life where I lived in total integrity every minute of every day.
I am not there yet. But I'm working on it.

I would love a life where I was in a conscious state of gratitude far more consistently than I currently manage.

I would love a life where I never said an unkind or hurtful thing to or about anyone ever again.

In these and a myriad of other ways I am seeking greater clarity by taking honest assessment of where I am now and where I would most like to be. Only by knowing both of those without distortion or bias can I make progress to get from one to the other. If I rationalize or justify or excuse any place I miss the mark as "not that big a deal" or minimize it by saying "it could be worse", then I am not likely to try to change it. This is not about beating myself up for being less than perfect or falling back into old habits of pouring angst over myself any time I think I am "getting it wrong". It's about taking stock in a meaningful way that serves me.

It is about being mindful and fully present in my own life. It's about seeking out the proper balance between introspection and going with the flow. It's about knowing when to accept things as they are and when to say no, I want to change that.

So I will continue my house hunting. I will recognize that I do not need a PERFECT house. I just need a house that is comfortable enough to be my next home. And along the way, I will look inside my head, my heart, my spirit, my body to see what things feel "just right" and what things I may want to shift a bit. I think it makes sense to consider myself a work in progress WITHOUT denigrating myself for my flaws.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

More Idaho Pics

Here are a few more scenes from over the weekend. Is it any wonder I want to spend more time here?


Sunrise from the porch





Norman J. T-Bone


I just got back from a fabulous weekend spent with my brother and his wife who live just outside Boise, Idaho. They have an amazing retreat on five acres which they have developed into a non-profit horticultural therapy and education center. All sorts of groups come out there for workshops, service projects, meditation, music, you name it. If things work out the way I plan I will be living there for a while helping out at the center. Much yet to be defined, but before the year is out I hope to be living in Idaho. I'm ready to be a spud.

The Greenhouse

By brother's house at Valli Hi

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tell Me YOUR story!

I had an interesting experience yesterday... a job interview gone frightfully wrong.
Once I see how things turn out I'll share more of the details here.

But for now, just to get a bit of perspective, I am inviting any and all to share their stories of job interviews - no matter which side of the table you were on. What weird things have happened to you when you were either interviewing someone else or being interviewed yourself?

Come on gang, bring on your tales!

Saturday, April 04, 2009


I grew up with brothers and I raised sons. I now live with just my male mate. I've often said I've seldom been in a house with the toilet seat down.

Maybe because most of my socialization has been with males, many of my close friends over the years have been guys. I like the linear way guys tend to think and communicate. I celebrate the quality males I have been privileged to know throughout my life. There are quite a few special men in my life right now that I truly cherish. I can talk on the phone to my younger son, Aaron, for hours at a time. I often engage in facebook chats with a colleague of mine who shares wisdom and humor that I really appreciate. I've written before about how much I adore my husband, and then there's all the rest from blogger pals (Hey Kelly!) to my brothers to faith leaders... I could sing their praises and beyond.

HOWEVER...there is just something structurally different about the way women relate to one another in friendship than even the best of friendships that I enjoy with men.

In honor of all the women in my life (you know who you are!) I share the following article and a challenge....let's NOT put our bonds on the back burner. Granted life gets busy and demanding. But we need to acknowledge the magic and healing we bring to each others lives. So shout out to all of you, my dear women friends. Thank you for the blessing you are in my life!


UCLA Study On Friendship Among Women
An alternative to fight or flight ©2002 Gale Berkowitz

A landmark UCLA study suggests friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are. By the way, they may do even more. Scientists now suspect that hanging out with our friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis.

A landmark UCLA study suggests that women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women. It's a stunning find that has turned five decades of stress research—most of it on men—upside down. Until this study was published, scientists generally believed that when people experience stress, they trigger a hormonal cascade that revs the body to either stand and fight or flee as fast as possible, explains Laura Cousin Klein, Ph.D., now an Assistant Professor of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State University and one of the study's authors. It's an ancient survival mechanism left over from the time we were chased across the planet by saber-toothed tigers. Now the researchers suspect that women have a larger behavioral repertoire than just fight or flight; In fact, says Dr. Klein, it seems that when the hormone oxytocin is release as part of the stress responses in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead. When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect.

This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone—which men produce in high levels when they're under stress—seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it. The discovery that women respond to stress differently than men was made in a classic "aha" moment shared by two women scientists who were talking one day in a lab at UCLA. There was this joke that when the women who worked in the lab were stressed, they came in, cleaned the lab, had coffee, and bonded, says Dr. Klein. When the men were stressed, they holed up somewhere on their own. I commented one day to fellow researcher Shelley Taylor that nearly 90% of the stress research is on males. I showed her the data from my lab, and the two of us knew instantly that we were onto something. The women cleared their schedules and started meeting with one scientist after another from various research specialties. Very quickly, Drs. Klein and Taylor discovered that by not including women in stress research, scientists had made a huge mistake: The fact that women respond to stress differently than men has significant implications for our health.

It may take some time for new studies to reveal all the ways that oxytocin encourages us to care for children and hang out with other women, but the "tend and befriend" notion developed by Drs. Klein and Taylor may explain why women consistently outlive men. Study after study has found that social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol. There's no doubt, says Dr. Klein, that friends are helping us live longer. In one study, for example, researchers found that people who had no friends increased their risk of death over a 6-month period.

In another study, those who had the most friends over a 9-year period cut their risk of death by more than 60%. Friends are also helping us live better. The famed Nurses' Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to be leading a joyful life. In fact, the results were so significant, the researchers concluded, that not having close friends or confidants was as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight. And that's not all. When the researchers looked at how well the women functioned after the death of their spouse, they found that even in the face of this biggest stressor of all, those women who had a close friend and confidante were more likely to survive the experience without any new physical impairments or permanent loss of vitality.

Those without friends were not always so fortunate. Yet if friends counter the stress that seems to swallow up so much of our life these days, if they keep us healthy and even add years to our life, why is it so hard to find time to be with them? That's a question that also troubles researcher Ruthellen Josselson, Ph.D., co-author of Best Friends: The Pleasures and Perils of Girls' and Women's Friendships (Three Rivers Press, 1998). The following paragraph is, in my opinion, very, very true and something all women should be aware of and NOT put our female friends on the back burners. Every time we get overly busy with work and family, the first thing we do is let go of friendships with other women, explains Dr. Josselson. We push them right to the back burner. That's really a mistake because women are such a source of strength to each other. We nurture one another. And we need to have unpressured space in which we can do the special kind of talk that women do when they're with other women. It's a very healing experience. _________________________________________________________________

Taylor, S. E., Klein, L.C., Lewis, B. P., Gruenewald, T. L., Gurung, R. A. R., & Updegraff, J. A. Female Responses to Stress: Tend and Befriend, Not Fight or Flight"

Psychol Rev, 107(3):41-429. Geary DC, Flinn MV. Sex differences in behavioral and hormonal response to social threat: commentary on Taylor et al.
Psychol Rev 2002 Oct;109(4):745-50; discussion 751-3 Cousino Klein L, Corwin EJ. Seeing the unexpected: how sex differences in stress responses may provide a new perspective on the manifestation of psychiatric disorders.

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2002 Dec;4(6):441-8.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Bucket List - REVISED

I did this list a while ago when I first got it as an e-mail. Since then a few other versions have floated across my screen. I just got tagged again with an updated one on FaceBook with a lot more categories to respond to, so I figured I'd add the items I left on the first time around...

I'll BOLD the ones I've actually done and put occasional comments in italics.

Gone on a blind date.
(I've made many blind choices in my life...but done very little formal "dating" blind or otherwise.)

Donated Blood

Skipped school.
(way more than I should have....)

Watched someone die
I've been touched by death several times, but not been there at the exact moment.

Been to Canada I have GREAT memories of taking my boys to Niagara Falls when they were little and then there was a fishing trip to Thessalon once that was pretty fun.

Been to Mexico

Been to Florida I really enjoyed Ft. Lauderdale, had a blast at Key Largo but I DESPISE Orlando and would feel blessed never to return. I lived in Juno Beach (just north of West Palm) for a few months one winter...lessons learned there are a story for another day.

Been to Hawaii

Been to Africa

Been on a plane
I am always a bit surprised how many people have NOT been on a plane. I've done lots. My first experience was on a little prop plane at the fair grounds when I was a kid. The pilot took people up for a nickle per pound of their body weight and took a few spins around the town so you could look down and see your house, the school, the church and all those people you knew looking like ants. This was back before air travel had become common and felt like an exhilarating rush at the time. (Yep, I'm THAT old). Since then I've been on LOTS of commercial flights. My absolute favorite was the Lufthansa flight that took us to Frankfurt, Germany on our way to Cairo. Now THAT is an airline that knows how to treat passengers like valued guests!

Been on a helicopter

Been lost

Gone to Washington, DC

Hugged a homeless person
(Did that today, as a matter of fact. One of the women in the shelter my agency runs just got a job and is taking steps toward independence. I'm really proud of her!)

Swam in the oceanAtlantic, Pacific, and Red Sea

Swam with Stingrays
Thank you NO. I admit I get a little creeped out when wild fish or other swimmy critters come close in the ocean. I once got mugged by a school of something or another at Hanauma Bay in Hawaii. Totally weird.

Been sailing in the ocean
Well, not EXACTLY. I've been on a variety of water crafts, but not a sailboat.
One of the more interesting was a "water bus" we took from the main island of Fiji out to the remote out islands of the Yasawas. Quite an interesting ride.

Broken a bone

Been in a traffic accident.

Cried yourself to sleep

Been on TV

Stole traffic signs

Played cops and robbers
Well, not exactly. But as children following the Chicago convention in '68 my sibs and I played demonstrators and police. Those taking on the "police" role wore football helmets and carried improvised billy clubs. Those being the rioting demonstrators got to run around the yard carrying placards and chanting slogans until they were chased to the ground.......

Recently colored with crayons

Sang Karaoke

Volunteered at a soup kitchen

Paid for a meal with coins only

Been to the top of the St. Louis Arch

Seen the Northern Lights

Been Para sailing

Done something you told yourself you wouldn't
from consuming one more piece of pie than I should have to engaging in a relationship that led to a seven year marital nightmare.

Made prank phone calls

Been down Bourbon Street in New Orleans
Yes, I was blessed to spend time in the town PRE-Katrina.

Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose & elsewhere.

Fed an elephant

Caught a snowflake on your tongue

Fired a gun

Danced in the rain

Been to the opera
I've seen lots of live stage plays and some excellent musicals, even the symphony but never the opera.

Written a letter to Santa Claus

Serenaded someone

Seen a US President in Person
Jimmy Carter came to my college and gave a fascinating presentation. Although I voted for him I was not the least bit impressed by his performance as commander in chief. Still, I've always respected him as a humanitarian and diplomat. He was a lousy president IMHO, but quite a remarkable human being.

Watched the sunrise with someone

Driven a race car

Been to a National Museum

Been to a Wax Museum

Eaten caviar

Been kissed under the mistletoe

Watched the sunrise with someone

Blown bubbles

Gone ice-skating

Been deep sea fishing

Driven across the United States

Been in a hot air balloon
My beloved and I had an appointment to go but flight got cancelled due to high winds. RATS! That's something I still want to do.

Gone skydiving
Why would I jump out of a perfectly good airplane?

Gone snowmobiling

Lived in more than one country

Layed down outside and admired the stars while listening to crickets

Caught fireflies in a jar

Seen a falling star and made a wish

Enjoyed the beauty of Old Faithful Geyser

Seen the Grand Canyon

Seen the Statue of Liberty

Gone to the top of the Seattle Space Needle
Nice view, but highly over-rated and not really worth the price IMHO

Been on a cruise

Travelled by train

Travelled by motorcycle

Been horseback riding

Ridden on a San Francisco Cable Car

Been to Disneyland AND Disney world

Truly believed in the power of prayer

Been in a Rain Forest

Seen whales in the ocean

Been to Niagara Falls

Ridden on an elephant

Been to the Olympics

Walked on the Great Wall of China
Someday, I hope.

Saw and heard a glacier calf
Nope, only saw the papa glaciers.

Been spinnaker flying
I don't have any idea what a spinnaker is

Been water skiing

Been snow skiing
Cross Country only

Been to Westminster Abby

Been to the Louvre

Swam in the Mediterranean
One of the few oceans I've missed

Been to a major league baseball game

Been to a National Football league game

Swam with sharks
Good gracious NO!

Been white water rafting

Written a book or a screenplay

Been skinny dipping outdoors

Gone to the movies
Yep. Plenty of times.

Have a nickname

Body piercings
Only if ears count

Other Questions:

1. Favorite drink? hot chocolate or Good Earth tea.

2. How much do you love your job? This week, things are going well. Some days, not so much.

3. Birthplace? Flagstaff, AZ

4. Favorite vacation spot? Can't pick just one...have had some great trips!

5. Ever eaten just cookies for dinner? Cereal yes, cookies, no.

6. Favorite pie? For EATING I prefer fruit pies, cherry or peach. For face splatting obviously the cream pies are best - something like coconut or Boston cream.

7. Favorite holiday? 4th of July

8. Favorite food? anything I don't have to cook.

9 Favorite smell? my husband just out of the shower, baking bread, ozone in the air mixed with grease wood and sage after a rainstorm in the desert

10. How do you relax? reading, writing, walking through wheat fields, hanging out with friends.

11. How do you see yourself in 10 years? I'll be 61, my husband will be 73. Depending on health and economics...hopefully living life with passion.

So that's my answers. How about you?

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