Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Good Way To Approach the Day

"There is no way I can anticipate all the good things that are going to happen today"---Brian Narelle

~Quote via "The Awe-Manac: A Daily Dose of Wonder" by Jill Badonsky
~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back Again

Once again, I have been allowing my blog to languish. I have many posts planned in my heads but have been procrastinating until...and the days just fly by.

LoveHubbie and I have been enjoying a wonderful and intense (in a good way) visit from our son D. It is a man vacation for the two men, and one that is very special as they haven't been alone together for more than a few minutes in almost a decade. D is in his early twenties, has been married just over a year, and is technically my stepson. Because of circumstances of his parent's divorce, it has never worked out for D or LoveHubbie to have father-son time like this. The vacation started out with four rapid-fire fishing trips, two on a lake, one in a large river, and one in the ocean. Lots of male bonding time and everyone had a great time.

I stayed home and enjoyed taking care of things on the home front and processing much of what has been happening.

I react in an interesting way to guests. We only have people stay in our home that we are crazy about. I enjoy them so much and really push myself to visit, because time is always limited and there never seems to be enough of it. I hate to go to bed each night because it means our interactions are ending for the day. Often the next day, I'm exhausted, but then I push myself to have lots of together time because I want to be around my company. And...you can guess what always happens...I crash and my body protests by getting ill, even to the point once (with my closest friend) of getting shingles.

So this time has been terrific. D is staying for over a week, which we're thrilled about, so there isn't as much time pressure. And too, being alone while they are out doing man things helps me to process and nurture my inner hermit and extreme introversion (which I see as getting my energy from being alone).

Special thank you's are in order to J, who is D's wonderful young bride who was willing to let her husband go on a long vacation with his father. And to LoveHubbie's staff who keeps the office running while he is away. To LoveHubbie's fishing buddy and his fishing buddy's wife who have helped this dynamic duo out so much, including helping out when they forgot their worms and supplying them with delicious chicken sandwiches. And while I'm at it, special thank you's to all of the many people who support us in different ways, including you, my blogging friends, who are always there and who share your caring for me in so many ways. And an extra special thank you to Kelly, for always noticing when I go into hiding and gently calling me out.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Cartoon

I found this cartoon languishing in my list of unpublished posts from several years ago. It's still good!

~From my friend Valerie Burke of Shelton, WA

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wellness Wednesday: Being With Each Flower, What is More Important?

Today I read something beautiful on Kelly's blog that caused me to think, to really reevaluate and reframe something in my life. Kelly wrote that she was grateful for:

“Being wrapped all day in the kind of energy that made people open to me like flowers in the rain.” 

What a lovely thing to be, what a lovely gift to give people--this kind of energy that makes people feel comfortable enough to share themselves with you.

All of my life, I have struggled with this gift. It is a gift from God, nothing that I've cultivated or would even know how to develop. On the one hand I have enjoyed this closeness with others, delighted in it, reveled in it, when it has been with someone with whom I've wanted to be intimate. On the other hand, sometimes it is time-consuming or awkward or (to my embarrassment) even irritating when I am in a hurry and someone I barely know opens up to me and share deeply personal "stories of their lives", their deep feelings.

This gift is what led me to go to graduate school to become a counselor. I never finished, though, instead leaving school without doing a practicum and finishing my masters in another field, because I found it too draining to relate to people on that level all day long. I am very introverted, and although I care deeply for others, I need a great deal of time alone to process and recharge in order to be able to interact at that level. I also am not a particularly patient person, not a good thing for a counselor.

Lately over the last several years as I've experienced time as being scarce much of the time, it has been harder and harder to be welcoming when some people open up. People I meet casually, chance encounters that won't be repeated, people that I'd not choose to be intimate with. I usually still do listen and witness their story (trying to be "nice"), but find myself thinking thoughts like, "I can't believe this is happening to me again..." and "They're going to share their whole life story with me now right when I'm on my way to..." Complaining thoughts, I've realized. From the resentment I feel. This is not who I want to be.

In pondering Kelly's post, I've realized that deep down inside, I believe--I know--that every single person is indeed a flower, and that one of the most important things I can do each and every day is to witness their opening. To be present with everyone I meet. If they feel safe with me (and they are safe), then this is a bold, brave gift that I'm being given, and I want to recognize it as such. I need to slow down and stay in touch with what I truly value rather than be distracted by the urgency of comparatively petty tasks.

I always learn so much from Kelly, and this was a special lesson, one I really needed today.

~Photograph by LoveHubbie Mark

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Art In Hair

The last time I had my hair done, I had it colored brown (its real color before the gray) with blond highlights and bright red highlights. It looked great when I walked out of the salon and then appalling after that. So I went back. My hairdresser is a young woman named Stephanie and she is only 21 years old. She went to a high school that let her train in hair design while she was in school so that she could begin working while she was still taking classes. Thus, by 18 she had a lot of experience. She is an artist.

Stephanie showed me how to fix my hair to work with the highlights and I've been thrilled ever since. This coming weekend it will already have been a couple of months and I'm having my hair color again refreshed (as in roots touched up).

Now, many hairstylists would not believe me when I'd say I want something stylish yet wild and edgy. They give me a conservative matronly haircut and color.

Not so, I say! I want to brighten up when I look in the mirror and not be bored. I don't care about fitting in. I don't wear makeup except lipstick, so I need some color in my hair! Stephanie gets this.

I have been looking at pictures of friends' hair and loving it. Kelly and Carla are short and sweet and sexy. Lori-lyn is passionately red. Kate is natural and luxurious. Jane is long and lovely. Each one of you is so beautiful.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sacred Life Sunday: Cherishing My Life With Joy (Revisited)

Portions of this post were previously posted on Sunday, July 20, 2008--over two years ago! I wanted to update it for this Sacred Life Sunday. I still love the two quotes that were featured, and want to add one now that I am a Christian, which is:

 "...The joy of the Lord is my strength."--Nehemiah 8:10

This verse has meant so much to me as I've discovered a whole new--dimension, sort of--to joy. It completes this post from the past. So here is my post:

"I read this marvelous quote in a book I'm reading called "When You're Falling, Dive" by Mark Matousek. It has stayed with me, and I think I'm going to take it as my mantra for depression recovery:
"I don't have to earn my life anymore. It was given to me to cherish as I would a precious gift from someone who loves me and whom I love."---Jim Curtan
This same Jim Curtan also, referring to what he realized at a retreat, said:
"God said my job was joy. But joy is not just about being happy. Joy is a rigorous spiritual practice of saying yes to life on life's terms."
Drop dead profound.

And in the spirit of joy, and to counterbalance the lately more sad posts at the happyluau, here are some joy-filled pictures I've been saving to share with you. They didn't seem to go with any of my previous posts this week, but they will fit with this one!

~The two photos above are from Cute Overload, the happy hamster and the happy dog.

~This photo of the happy nuns is from this blog."

Friday, August 6, 2010

Abysmal Reading Statistics

Two years ago I blogged about how one in four Americans doesn't read even one book in a whole year. That statistic shocked me. Well, there are worse statistics available. Way, way worse. I read about them on Don Miller's blog and they are from Para Publishing. If you want to follow up on any of these or read other statistics about books, publishing, or reading, there is a great deal of information there.

Here are some of the statistics reported by Don Miller

1/3 of high school graduates never read a book for the rest of their lives

42% of college graduates never read a book for the rest of their lives

70% of U.S. adults have not stopped into a bookstore in the last five years

80% of American families did not purchase or read a book in the last year

These statistics are alarming to me. I cannot imagine how the non-readers and non-reading families are functioning without reading, without thinking about what they've read, without talking about books and ideas, without learning in depth about many different new ideas, without getting involved in stories that aren't fed to them as they are in movies, and without being exposed to experiences outside of their own. How do they do it? How do they process their lives? How do they grow? This is something I simply don't understand. 

I love movies and television, but they are no substitute for reading. I just don't understand this. 

Well, in perusing the data from Para Publishing, I notice that there are a wide variety of statistics there with results varying wildly. So these may not be totally accurate. Still, none of the statistics are good or indicate that we here in America are readers. Very sad. 

LoveHubbie only reads a few books a year. I've noticed that he has lost his ability to "enter into" a book to the point where the world fades away and he is "in" the story--unless it is a very highly interesting book to him. Also, his reading speed is way, way down, making reading more of a chore. He is often so tired from working that it is just too hard to read. Usually all this begins to change when we take a long vacation. I see his non-reading as work-induced and as temporary--he could change this in the future when he retires or when he cuts back on his work schedule or when pigs fly. 

If any of you are non-book readers, I'd love to know more about why you don't enjoy books. Also, if you've ever known anyone who doesn't read, I'd love to hear about it. 

~Photo from freefoto.com

Okay, Some More Household News

So this crew from One Hour Heating and Air-Conditioning is working with their sister company, Mr. Sparky to put in a furnace, air-conditioning system, and generator in our house. I've written about it here. There are some unusual things about this company that I wanted to blog about.

First of all, they don't charge by the hour, but by the job. And they break it down into parts so that you can choose what services you want just like a menu at a restaurant, based on how much you want and what you can afford. They have to come on time, or you get the job for free. And they must wear shoe booties in your house. My clean hardwood floors like that and so do I. They are very clean--they clean up after themselves and leave no damage or dirt behind. They must be professional and treat you with respect at all times--if they even swear you get either the job for free or several hundred dollars off. They're kind of quiet too...I mean, for contractor-type people doing repairs.

I like them.

They both have franchises all over, so if you're looking for someone good, check these companies out. Check out their rating with the Better Business Bureau too, as they are rated very highly here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

More Household News

So I have just been taking care of interesting household tasks lately, while also trying in vain to fit in book reviews. The household tasks have been many.

As an aside, I chose this beautiful vase on the left as a prize in Suzie the Foodie's drawing last month. I won a $100 gift certificate in her giveaway and I decided that instead of choosing something to cook with that may not get much use (sorry, Suzie..I know you understand) I'd instead get a pitcher/vase. We have gorgeous roses in our rose garden and this would be a lovely more formal type vase to hold them. Throughout the summer I have fragrant roses in my house! The vase was out of stock so I've been waiting for it, and it finally came in! Thank you, Suzie and CSN Stores. I eagerly await it.

I finally finished the initial application for my Brazil trip visa this fall, thanks to my hard-working assistant Sylvia, plus some help from LoveHubbie, as well as our relatives in Brazil. We all worked together this week to finish things up. This was great.

Also our refrigerator broke and so, with the assistance of the appliance repairman, we had to haul it outside for several days to defrost so that he could fix it. We now have the refrigerator back in place again, and hopefully it will work long term. It will be nice to have ice for the hot days again.

Monday night LoveHubbie decided we'd get heating and air conditioning installed in our house. We have been thinking about this for a few years, but suddenly and unexpectedly decided to take the plunge. We've had no central air conditioning (just a little window a/c in our bedroom) all along here, and in the winter we've just used a wood stove for heat--no furnace. When the power goes out, as it often does, we have a small gasoline powered generator that LoveHubbie fires up and keeps pouring gas. Summers feel pretty hot here and winters are not just cold, but involve lots of hauling of wood, plus sooty residue, soot-stained walls and ceilings, poor air quality, and power outages at unpredictable times. So we're getting an entire system of furnace, air conditioning, generator, and a propane tank. I can hardly believe it! Two days hasn't been enough time to adjust to the good news and the big changes. A crew is coming tomorrow and they're going to get it done fast--in only four days! My head is spinning from how different my life will be.

Yesterday I went to LoveHubbie's office and gave the employees a presentation on their new health insurance. Our old plan was discontinued. Now we pay much more for far less benefits. We have the best plan available in our area, but even so, I think it is substandard, and much less than we had before. Health insurance is the only product I can think of that stays in business by offering less and less every year for more and more money. And the insurance companies continue to show large profits even in this economy.

I'd love to have some profound thoughts to share with you, or something exciting to write about. Instead, it's just pretty mundane household stuff. I will plan for some more interesting posts :) Although, honestly, I'm really, really excited to live independently of the weather. It's something I used to take for granted, but not anymore.

~The photo of the building is actually our barn, not our house, taken by LoveHubbie. I thought I'd post the more rustic looking barn to be...funny :)