Thursday, February 23, 2012


Today is a day to celebrate!
On this day, twenty-three years ago
A daughter was born.
She was a life long dream fulfilled.
A treasure!
A joy!
A reason to celebrate!

Happy Birthday, Jessica!
(I know you read my blog!)

When she was just a little girl,
She was the apple of everyone's eye
Her brother was smitten - 
So thrilled with his sister!

She grew up quickly,
before we knew it, 
she was heading off to college -
"Okay, take the picture, and let me get back to decorating my first apartment."

Friends were getting married . . .

She discovered a love of baking,
Cookies, cakes, chicken enchiladas.
Found that she was really good at it -
Apple pies her speciality!

"I can bake a Thanksgiving apple pie!"

She grew up loving the beach
no matter the weather
Windy, rainy, stormy, clear
Her shoes would come off.
(December 2011- raining, miserable, NO ONE is on the beach!)

This year, as in the past several years, 
We celebrated early,
Distance and schedules in the way
Her birthday choice 2012?

. . . Birthday Backpacking Sleeping Bag!

She's on her own
living her life
making her own choices
building her own dreams -

And never far from her mother's heart.

Have a fantastic day celebrating life
Birthday Girl!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Labyrinth

I closed the book (Looking for Alaska by John Green) a couple nights ago, but couldn't stop my mind from thinking about what I'd read.  The narrator, a high school boy inaptly named Pudge, muses toward the end, "I thought the way out of the labyrinth was to pretend that it doesn't exist . . . to pretend that I was not lost, but home." He arrives at the conclusion that the only way out of the labyrinth is death; and that "the afterlife" . . .  is something we make up . . . to make our time in the labyrinth bearable."

It's been several days now, and I find myself returning to the last pages of the book, puzzling over why these words (and more, which I'll get to later) won't leave me alone.   I can see the use of a labyrinth as a metaphor for a troubled life.  All that bumping up against immoveable walls, getting caught in seemingly endless round abouts, or dead ends, or simply being lost.

 In the novel, Pudge grapples with the concept of "being" as in a person being more than just matter, more than the sum of the parts (blood, bones, tissue, etc) and at first I thought, well, yeah, of course we are, because we are living, breathing, human beings, energized by life. As energy is only changed, never created and never destroyed, my thoughts turned to:  When a person dies, where does the energy that was within . . . go?

I know the basics of the life cycle, that old ashes to ashes, dust to dust business.  Still, after reading this novel I began thinking deeply about energy transfer itself. (This possibly due to the fact that I am currently gearing up for teaching about energy transfer to my fifth graders.) Bear with me while I tiptoe creepily through my thought processes regarding labyrinth living and death.

My son Chris was a vibrant, charismatic young man, who attracted friends like ants to a picnic. He exuded energy from infancy, into adulthood, was always "up" for any new or exciting adventure.  We used to tease that he fell in love with Shari because he had so much fun playing with her three kids. He was a fun guy to be around, up until a catastrophic event swept him into a spiraling labyrinth of depression he was unable to pull himself out of.  In desperation, and under the influence of alcohol, he took his own life a few days after his 30th birthday.  Bill, one of his best friends from high school, was the cop who arrived first at his home when Shari called 911.  Chris was still breathing, hooked to life support, and rushed to the hospital.

Chris had two well known requests.  He chose to be an organ donor when he got his first licence to drive, and he didn't want to be buried when he died. When it was determined that Chris was brain dead, recipients were found for his viable organs. I choose to believe that his "energy" was transfered via his heart, kidneys, eyes and tissues.

After being "harvested" (kind of an icky term, but appropriate) his body was cremated.  His wife, Shari, and I split his ashes. Over the course of the past six years, we've scattered Chris all over the Pacific Northwest that he loved: along the Columbia, Lewis and Washougal Rivers; at campgrounds; the beach and on hiking trails.  I typically keep a film canister of Chris' ashes in the car with me, just in case I am someplace I think he would like to be.  I have never felt creepy about this practice, or morbid.  The bulk of Chris sits in a Christmas box on my sewing table, not exactly a logical place, but not exactly illogical either.  He loved Christmas and he loved his mom.

Ashes are matter, but, do they have energy?  I find it challenging to wrap my mind around that.  I know that energy can't be destroyed, only changed.  I guess there is potential energy dormant in his ashes, or for that matter, any ashes.  I tried to find information on the web about any "benefits" of ashes but found little regarding human ashes. Probably a good thing.

Finding our way through the labyrinth of life can be a daunting task.  If we think too long about it, it can be scary not knowing what is around the next corner.  I chose to believe that I'm not lost, and to trust that I am where I'm meant to be . . . "home".

labyrinth photo found at:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Positive Perspective

My first thoughts when I woke this morning were a prayer, "Please God, help me see the positive . . . the bright side . . . the cup half full."  There was more, but that was the gest of it.  It was all about me, and my fear of failure.

My day yesterday was a mosaic of positive and negative, like most folks.  I read the paper, ate a healthy breakfast, logged what I ate, and got ready for the 8:15 aqua aerobics class.  I weighed in, and immediately I was in a mad mood.  I'd gained, again.  After tracking every mouthful, exercising daily, doing all I know how to do in my own power, I still didn't lose any weight.  Despite the fact that clothes are slightly less binding, my weight isn't coming off, according to the scale.

When I complained to my husband, he said the scale weighs him different all the time and he doesn't think it's too accurate.  I went back and weighed again, with the identical results.  The best decision I made was to head to the pool anyway and stay for yoga.

This time around in weight loss, my motivation isn't a different pant size, but to save what's left of my knees.  I need to get some weight off to take the pressure off my knees.  I am afraid to be stuck where I am, unable to enjoy life physically the way I have in the past.  A few years ago, I dreamed of revisiting the Grand Canyon and hiking to the bottom and back as I did when I was 20.  I'm not quite ready to give up that dream, though I know if I get there, I'll need hiking poles!

But I digress, a little.  It was painfully brought to my attention recently that I am a Negative Nelly.  You know those cartoons you see, "What's wrong with this picture?" well, I was told I look for what's wrong before I look for what's right.  I wasn't really aware that I did. (Oh, sometimes, sure, but most of the time? I didn't think so!) In fact, I argued with the person who so kindly informed me of this character fault; even pushed a little of the blame toward the bearer of bad news.  Fortunately, we kept talking until I reached the conclusion on my own that this person, who loves me way more than I love myself, was right.

I hate being wrong, as dear reader, you can probably already imagine.  I tried to puzzle my way through, tease out when this negativity took over, but I can't pinpoint it.  Here comes the scary part, I am afraid it's been there a long, long time.  What can I do to change behavior that has been ingrained in me for decades?  That I didn't even recognize?  How could I have been so stupid???  Oops, I think that last question has a teensy bit of a negative ring to it!

OK, deep breath.  Here's a thought.  I will consciously think before I speak today, and make every effort to only allow positive words leave my mouth.  I will pay attention when I begin to feel anxious, or irritated, frustrated . . . as, most likely, these feeling precede negative thinking.  Or, maybe it's the other way around; maybe, just maybe, negative thinking precedes the anxiety, frustration, anger.

One day at a time . . . one hour at a time . . .  one moment at a time . . . my focus will be to keep a positive perspective.

A little Shirley Temple is in order.