Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The end of March madness

3-31-09 onward thinking brain
Last day of March: I was going to blog a summary of the month, but for some reason I don’t feel like revisiting the last 30 days. Not that it was such a bad month….. I have a sense of closure and completion on many fronts. My Dad is going better this month; Greg is moved out of the KC apartment and into a nice manageable house; Several house projects were accomplished at the DM house with the help of my nephew; all in all…. I guess I’m ready to look forward to April rather than to spend too much energy on reflection today.

I’m reminded of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which I remember learning in nursing school. This month of March ends with my lower needs being met (for the moment) and I’m ready to deal with higher needs.

Diagram from Wikipedia

I’m ready to create some art, enjoy some nature, plan my garden, and contemplate the meaning of life and my purpose at this stage of life.

I remember well the last time I saw my father-in-law. Greg and I were visiting Ohio, October 1993, for Greg’s 10 year class reunion. Greg and I had been married only a year and I had only spent time with his dad, Albert, on a handful of occasions. Greg’s dad was suffering from pulmonary fibrosis and over the 3 years I knew him, he was pretty much home bound and on oxygen. As Greg and I were saying our goodbyes and heading back to Iowa, “Bert” rose out of his chair and wanted to pray for us. We stood in a circle holding hands along with Greg’s mother. I don’t remember all of the short prayer, but I remember the last words he spoke, telling Greg and I to…. “Glorify God with everything you do”.

I had never heard before in my Methodist upbringing that to “Glorify God” was a purpose of life. Greg’s dad was raised Amish, and was number 7 out of 14 brothers and sisters. Greg’s father and family have a wonderful strong faith, in which I have enjoyed learning about and learning from. Since that last time with Greg’s dad, from time to time, I have wondered IF the way I live my life and the activities I choose to do actually “Glorify God” …..

I think in the month of April I will take time to consider this again, along with creating some art, enjoying some nature, planing the garden and contemplating the meaning of life.

Greg’s Dad died 3 weeks after that Ohio visit and I’m grateful for the effort he took to pray with us, since today Bert still touches my heart.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Fixing the Economy

3-30-09 patriotic brain

I don’t write much about “politics” yet in my blog, probably because I was burnt out from all that went on last year. In Iowa, the Presidential campaigning really started in 2007 as candidates spend time in Iowa preparing for first primary run off which was the Iowa Caucus held Jan 2008.

I was deeply involved even back in 2007 when Greg and I hosted a John Edwards campaign worker (Heather) for December 2007 up to the Caucus.

Heather was a very intelligent and interesting gal who we fell in love with. Heather is my “six degree of separation” link to many well known people. She even drove Kevin Bacon around Iowa as he was campaigning for Edwards at that time. She then went on to work for Obama.

I’m leading up to an email (humorous? or serious? or both?) sent by my cousin last week concerning the big news story of the day: "Fixing the Economy". What I found amusing were some of the responses I got back when I forwarded this one to others.

The original Email was:
This was an article from the St. Petersburg Times Newspaper on Sunday. The Business Section asked readers for ideas on "How Would You Fix the Economy?"

Patriotic retirement:
There are about 40 million people over 50 in the work force. Pay them $1 million apiece severance with stipulations.
1) They leave their jobs. Forty million job openings - Unemployment fixed.
2) They buy NEW American cars. Forty million cars ordered - Auto Industry fixed.
3) They either buy a house or pay off their mortgage - Housing Crisis fixed.

Responses I receive back were:

This is good! (from KRD)

He has forgotten one very small detail. Most of us will need that money just to REPLACE the money we have lost in our IRA's that we used to have and were planning to use for retirement anyway. That aside, not a bad idea. Why don't you forward it to Nancy Pelosi. She seems to like to spend our money.

An even better thought just occurred to me. I wonder how many Congress people are 50 or over? That would also be a grand way to wipe that slate clean and start over. (from TM)

Who’s doing to pay for my health insurance if I retire early? Will I get Medicare early? (I wrote that)

Then my witty and wise husband wrote:
So let me see if I get this right...The Baby Boomers -- one of the most privileged generations in the history of the world -- now each deserve $1M each to retire early. The 'Me' generation certainly has not broadened it's perspective over the years. GSB (a Gen-X'er, obviously)

Greg’s reply got me thinking about something I read last night, and MAYBE as Boomers, we need to start thinking of others more than we do. Can we re-learn and teach the next generation about SERVICE? or is it too late us?

I slept and dreamt that life was joy,
I woke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold,
Service was joy.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring snow & Earth Hour

3-29-09 sabbatical brain

The snow in Kansas City is worth mentioning, if only for its beauty!

Seven to nine inches were predicted, but the rain didn't turn over to snow immediately. Leawood area only received 4 inches of wonderful wet snow which adhered to every tree twig. Other parts of town received more. Today, Sunday we are left with a bright, sunny day.... perfect to make a snowman, which I will go do soon.

Here is picture looking west down our street.

Last night, Greg and I participated in Earth Hour.

This was a global effort started in Australia a few years ago. For ONE hour, individuals, cites, states, countries participate by turning off your lights from 8:30- 9:30 p.m. Saturday March 28th. In the newspaper today it said that ten times as many cities took part in the event this year compared with 2008. 88 countries participated.

I was hoping this year at 8:30 to be able to take an evening walk down to street to see if anyone else in the area had turned off all their lights at that time. Unfortunately, with the the snow Greg and I just stayed inside most of the day and at 8:30 we turned the lights off and went to bed.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Simple mind

3-28-09 tongue-tied brain

I have decided I need to take an absence from blogging on Wednesdays and Sundays..... as an attempt to free up some time for my creative R brain and find more balance.... unless of course something important needs to be documented, then I will make an exception. The spring weather and sunlight after work is making me want to be outside rather than sitting in front of a computer any longer than I have to.

PLUS, I want to start working on a new art project. I have been on a sabbatical from art classes since November. I have a hundred projects in brain..... but I think I will start on one for the KC "sleeping chamber"...... A large painting of a country landscape with big fluffy clouds. This maybe the only object to get hung on the wall of this room.

This is our KC "sleeping chamber".... I want to call it that, instead of a "bedroom".... since we are striving to keep our bedroom a relaxing place- NO TV. Now in the new house there is only the bed and a dresser with bare walls and I have found this to be really relaxing. No busy bookshelves, desk, or no nick-knacks to clutter up the room.

As my life gets more and more complicated, I find it refreshing and necessary to have a living space which is NOT complicated. Simplify!.... is my new motto, or "sparse-a-ticity " a new word I made up! I hope Greg will be on board with me on this. Next I have to work on making the DM "sleeping chamber" a more relaxing, sparse place as well.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I stand corrected!

3-27-09 misinformed brain

I had not taken the time to walk around the yard and look at everything this week upon my return to Des Moines, since it was raining for two days and now turned cold. However, this morning I had to walk over to the grocery store and I was surprised by some of the discoveries I made.

I was wrong in my post yesterday. Even on this cloudy day, I discovered that some of my daffodils are progressing to have their blooms. All they need now is a warm sunny day and I believe they will be in full bloom.

Unfortunately, I also discovered a dandelion well on its way to new life.

This time of year, changes can happen faster than one can keep up with. I have noticed how the sunlight has changed on how it comes into the bathroom which indicates to me the equinox. This officially happened last Friday. I appreciate both the spring and fall equinox since the morning light now shines straight into the east window and in the evening the light shines into the west window.

I’m happy that in our house addition, done in 2000, included so many windows in our master bathroom. This is a cheerful place to start and end the day.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Blooming in adversity

3-26-09 homage brain

My daffodils have pushed themselves up out of the ground…. No yellow blooms yet, but I love seeing these bulbs point the way towards spring. Daffodils are also a special symbol for cancer research. The American Cancer Society for more than 35 years has had a fundraising program called “Daffodil Days”. Each spring in March the Society offers daffodils to donors in appreciation for a contribution. Bunches of daffodils can be sent to friends, family members, and people touched by cancer to share the message of hope and raising funds and awareness to help defeat cancer.

My friend Molly lost two friends to cancer this month, so she is not feeling so great about March this year. However, Molly did brighten my day last weekend by bringing Greg and I a vase of daffodils for our new home and we put them on the fireplace mantle to be admired.

I have loved doing several paintings of daffodils over the years…… This one is a pastel from 2008….. but the most special one I created was during some of my first art classes around 1998.... for my friend Robin and the story that I wrote from this is still one of my favorites. The picture was just a sketch using white conte pencil on a dark green paper… it never did photograph very well….. but I hope you get the idea.

“Blooming in Adversity”
~Celebration of Cancer Survivors~
(Inspired by, and dedicated to Robin)

by Judy Sebern Beachy

A SIMPLE SKETCH FOR MY FRIEND: My hand offering a bouquet of daffodils; An extended hand reaching to express my love and support for her; A trembling hand fearful of touching her pain. My friend is struggling with aggressive and advanced breast cancer diagnosed at age 40 on her initial baseline mammogram. Chemotherapy, surgery, radiation treatments and possible bone marrow transplant awaited her.

Sharing life’s struggles and pain is not always easy. We tend to hide it from others. We want always to project strength and control over difficult situations. Allowing ourselves to feel another’s pain and watching them struggle is equally difficult. We don’t like being clumsy with words and feeling helpless or worthless when we can’t solve the problem, clean up the mess, or cure the ailment.

However, sharing life’s adversities is a gift we can give each other. If we fail to do so, then we miss experiencing the beauty of the struggle, the beauty of being human, and the beauty of love. We also miss seeing the beauty blossom when courage and hope grow out of the fear and pain.

MY FRIEND IS A CANCER SURVIVOR: So this simple sketch, my hand extended with these vibrant spring flowers, is also offered in gratitude, for the sharing, for the inspiration and for the hope my friend is giving to me, by allowing me to watch as she BLOOMS IN ADVERSITY!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Peace sisters

3-25-09 peaceful brain
I had dinner with Carolyn and Sue, my two “best” Allison Ave neighbor girlfriends last night. This was good timing, we not only were able to finally celebrate Sue’s birthday which was last week, but this was also good to ground me and to connect me back with Des Moines. This will be important as I continue to live my life split in two.

I’m glad I don’t have to give up my DM house and neighbors…. for the time being. I’m so blessed to live in a close knit street. Our neighborhood, the stretch of Allison Avenue between Beaver Avenue and 44th Street, is made up of about 40 houses. There are 21 houses on the north side of the street and about 17 houses on the south side since Westminster Church is on the corner of the south side. I know everyone who lives in each of these houses, of course to varying degrees. We have several social activities throughout the year and this helps us get acquainted. It started out with our annual block party in the fall, which has been doing on before Greg and I moved here….. then over the years we have added others, such as an ice cream social in the summer, or a Margarita deck party, or a progressive wine & dessert party, or a Christmas Caroling party. The Allison Avenue ladies also find other occasions to get together such as Silpada parties, or Pampered Chief parties.

There are so many interesting neighbors I enjoy spending time with, but over the 16 years Carolyn, Sue and I have bonded to be my closest friends. We all belong to Westminster, the Presbyterian church on the corner and we have been very active in many committees there. We started calling ourselves the peace sisters… starting when Carolyn put a *peace sign on her door and gave one to me, then we gave one to Sue. So as people drive down our street, they may think it weird to see the same door decoration on three houses.

Carolyn and Sue were such a godsend in helping care for our diabetic cat Missy whenever I was away from home over the last 2.5 years. Friendships like this are precious! The three of us are committed to taking care of each the best we can. This has ranged from supporting Carolyn through her breast surgery and Sue through her divorce and me through my split KC/DM adventure..... and many other difficult times.... and GOOD times was well.


(Picture from 2005)

*For those of you interested in your own copper peace door sign: shop at http://www.acaciacatalog.com/ It comes in two sizes: large for $32.95 item #51077 and small for $12.95 item #51076

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Green to the color orange

3-24-09 adventurous brain?
I’m back spending time in Des Moines this week. Greg and I had our first night in our new KC house on Sunday. I stayed an extra night so we could experience this together. Monday, Greg drove back up with me so he could retrieve another car to have in KC, his Miata convertible for the warm driving season ahead. As we crossed over the border into Iowa, Greg said “Where did all the green go?”….. We noticed the green grasses of KC were not evident yet in Iowa. I think this will be fun. I get to go back in time this week and watch the grass in Des Moines turn green. It’s like that movie “Ground Hog’s Day” where Bill Murray was forced to relive the same day over and over.

With the “two state solution” and my “split” life, I can take my pick of the best weather, and prolong the changes of seasons by experiencing it twice. It will be interesting to see how much longer it will take for the Forsythia to bloom here in Iowa. I was surprised on my return to Iowa that the crocuses were in full bloom outside the front door. Unfortunately, I think the warm weather will be switching over to colder weather this week in Iowa and I probably should have spent more time in KC this time.

It does feel weird to be back in the DM house again….. This way of life does feel strange from time to time, until I get back into a groove, only to be disrupted and find a new groove. I hope it keeps my brain robust and in top form which will allow me to adapt more easily to change in general. It’s easy and comforting to be in a rut…… however, it takes a more self aware life to make this “Split in Two” way of life work. I’ll just do this until it doesn’t feel like the right thing anymore….. AND at that time, Greg and I will evolve into a new and different way.

On FaceBook today I did a Quiz to find my aura color:
This was maybe 6 to 8 easy multiple choice questions to answer then my color was revealed to me: My color is ORANGE. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but orange seems OK. Orange personalities were described as..... creative adventurers in the color spectrum. They have an inner urge to be creative, active and enjoy life to its fullest. They are also individual and independent and integrate physical and mental qualities. They enjoy the challenge and excitement of forming and shaping physical reality. Orange personalities love to imagine and plan strategies for their next adventure or project and then put those plans into action. They need to be involved in the actual working process and want to physically shape and form their own ideas. They have difficulty sitting back and letting other people do things for them. They are always busy building, organizing and shaping their projects and physical reality. An Orange personality's motivation in life is based on how much pleasure and satisfaction they get out of their own adventures, challenges and creative projects. They want to be adventurous, creative and live out their own ideas.

I don't usually describe myself as "adventuresome"..... but I guess if you look at how I am living these last 18 months.... maybe at least HALF of my brain must be adventurous!

PS: Note addendum to yesterday’s blog post. Greg asked for some clarification.

Monday, March 23, 2009

All moved into Leawood!

3-23-09 grateful brain
My prayer was answered on Saturday afternoon. Molly, Greg and I were out in the backyard late afternoon after cleaning and doing some shopping errands. Greg was on the cell phone talking to Molly’s husband who does lawn service, (Hunt’s Lawn Care) inquiring about doing the lawn mowing at the new KC house, then Greg won’t need to get a mower. Molly and I were commenting on the fact that half the backyard is concrete since you enter the garage by driving around to the back side of the house. Molly suggested that we would need to get a basketball hoop and THAT IDEA triggered the start of an “air basketball” game between Molly and I.

Molly was hammering me as usual since she is still quite a sports jock and I, only a cheerleader in high school, was not able to execute a successful defense against her. We soon had a spectator, kitty corner across the back fence…… this is when my prayer was answered…… I met a new neighbor friend! Her name is Jan and she offered us some lilies she was digging up in her backyard. “YES! I love lilies!”….. and soon the introductions and exchange of information lead us over to her backyard and I knew we were kindred spirits by the all the flowers, bird feeders, collectible rocks and her second offer of a house plant she wanted to adopt out. PLUS she is a cat person who only last year had to put her elderly diabetic cat to sleep. (sounds familiar huh?)….. it’s funny how people desire to connect with others with common interests. I’m a strong believer of *diversity…. but it is a comfort to find at least one person in this neighborhood whom I probably will be able to relate well with.

*ADDENDUM: diversity = knowing people who grew up with different experiences than I, or people who have different opinions about life than I do. (Clarification for Greg)

PS: Sunday the apartment furniture was moved in the morning and we were totally out of the apartment by noon. For some reason I was inspired to leave the apartment cleaner than when we moved in! My Mom and even friend Jean Ann would have been proud to witness all my efforts. Three more hours of work at the new house had us pretty well settled in and both Greg and I are left stiff, sore, and worn out!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"In like"

3-22-09 reserved brain
I LIKE the new KC house.... but I'm not sure I'm going to totally be in LOVE with it the way I am with our DM house. Maybe I'm just not ready to let myself get that deeply attached this time around.

Here is the kitchen, new in 2006.... it looks good, unfortunately the cabinets aren't as high of quality as the ones we invested in the DM house.... but you know these will do fine.... and the refrigerator isn't an energy efficient one..... but it will be OK.

I do like how the kitchen is opened up into this family room which is also newly done around 2006. This is all bright and cheerful and will be perfect house for Greg. Time will tell if I fall in love with it. The friendliness of neighbors will be a factor in my happiness. Right now I can't believe I could find nicer neighbors than I have in Des Moines.... but I'm willing to keep an open mind/brain about the whole thing.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Waiting for the welcome wagon

3-21-09 Welcoming brain

Here is the front door to the new KC house. It's wood, painted black, faces west and has a nice enough design of squares with one small window. The house faces south which is very appealing to me to have plenty of sunshine coming into the front rooms. There is a little pussy willow tree on the corner of the house as you walk up to the front door from the drive way.

As you can see, there are signs of spring here in KC!

Spring is also evident in the backyard.... there are 3 of these bushes lining the back fence line. (I can't think of the name of this, but I think it starts with an "F" or maybe an "N"....?? ) I could try to google to find the answer... but I'm getting tired tonight and I need to get to bed!

PS: I'm wondering if any neighbors will come by over the weekend as we hang out at the new house getting unpacked??? Molly is going to come help! Yea!

Friday, March 20, 2009

What am I thinking?

3-20-09 amused brain
I'm getting to spend 9 straight days with Greg this week as we close the deal on our new KC house and move out of the apartment this weekend. Greg has a new "saying" which I find amusing. There are two versions he uses on me.

1. "I haven't read your blog yet today, so I don't know what you are thinking."
2. "I need to read your blog today so I know what you are thinking."

I have stated twice before that I plan to cut down on blogging to only every other day, but it's never happened..... I keep typing away. However, this week I have been feeling lazy about posting anything on my blog.... but my Dad called me the other night and told me how much he enjoys reading my blog, thus I feel I need to continue..... for Dad and also so Greg will know what I am thinking! (also for Alice, Ann, Jan, Renee, Lori and maybe a few others!)

Today I'm thinking ...... I love my Dad and I love my husband..... and am blessed to have them in my life looking after me...... I can be a handful at times!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A small, simple, de-cluttered way of life

3-19-09 expanding brain

Only four more days to enjoy our Plaza apartment, then the apartment furniture will be moved into the new KC house. I'm really going to miss this apartment. It has been a wonderful solution as the first step in our Kansas City adventure.

Unfortunately, I haven't had as many opportunities to spend time down here with Greg as I had originally planned. Life in Des Moines has kept me busy, but I have probably spent at least one week every other month down here. For the most part I'm a "virtual worker" with my cancer research job so it's easy for me to bring my laptop to KC as long as I have an Internet connection. I have found I am very productive when I work from the apartment. I love this small, simple, de-cluttered space which has great sunlight all day long. This place is liberating and relaxing to me.

When I'm working out of the Des Moines house it's easy for me to find myself wandering around looking for something I misplaced (like my reading glasses). I make several trips up and down the stairs trying to locate the last room I might have placed my glasses..... in the sunroom reading the newspaper in the morning?.... in the dinning room looking at the mail?...... in the upstairs bathroom?....... back down stairs in the art room?.... now back upstairs in the office next to the computer?....... after all that exercise I then discover my reading glasses on top of my head.

Now when I'm working in the apartment, I have only two small rooms to wander around in and I could accomplish that in about 10 steps! Instead, I save my exercise for the fun walk down the hill, past the large fountain in the park, onto the Plaza with a multitude of shops and restaurants to choose from. Or I love the one block walk to the Kemper Modern Art Museum or the two block walk over to the the Nelson Atkins Art Museum with it's beautiful grass lawns and sculpture park.

I just simply LOVE this part of Kansas City...... and will hold these wonderful memories of our year and a half time spent at our Plaza apartment in my ever expanding brain!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ponder this

3-18-09 rattling brain
I was thinking out loud the other day while driving the car through the bank drive up window with Greg as my passenger. I can’t remember what conversation lead up to my public pondering and speculation…. But I began wondering what my life would be like if I wasn’t so “split in two”. What would I be like if I had all my focus on my left brain and concentrated solely on school, science, my medical studies and career? Maybe I could have been a doctor? Or in converse, what if I had put all my focus on my right brain creativity from the beginning? What if I would have continued with art classes past 7th grade and gone on to some type of art school/college? So as I continued on and on wondering about the two extreme possible scenarios… with one brief statement, Greg put a stop to my rattling brain. He said, “If anything would have happened different than it did, then we wouldn’t have met.”

“True that”…..Having Greg in my life is the best thing….. enough said!
Some might say our meeting was a coincidence, some might take it a step further and say it was one of those God-incidences…….Greg and I say it was “divine intervention”….. THAT story to be continued.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A snap-shot in time

3-17-09 playful brain

Last week I participated in a “blog tag” game, .... (refer to blog post 3-11-09 post) I decided to try to start my own blog game today….. so I’m challenging my blog friends! Take a picture of your night stand and write about what you keep on your stand and why.

As you can see from my picture, I have several books on my night stand, since I usually have several books going at once. I also keep a pen and paper bedside in case the creative spirit visits me and I need to jot myself a note. Lastly, my one and only Beanie Baby sits next to me at night. This was given to me by my niece some years ago (in the 1990's) when she was a collecting fanatic around age 10. She must have 100+ Beanie Babies, now they are all out of sight in storage containers. Sometimes I think it is more fun just owning ONE of something..... but then you can't call it a collection. I think "collections" aren't all what they are cracked up to be...... who needs more "stuff" to deal with? ...... at least not at my age.
Back to my one Beanie Baby......The praying bear’s name is “Hope”.
HOPE is an important word for me, especially "as I lay me down to sleep"....

Monday, March 16, 2009

She be "styling"

3-16-09 proud aunt brain
I’ve been blogging about my nephew for the last month, I think it is time to give equal time to my wonderful niece Sarah.
Sarah is very creative and a “styling” young woman. I love how she is not afraid to play with her look and enjoys expressing herself by changing her hair, makeup and clothes. Unlike me.... I was in a rut with the same long hair look from age 15 to age 27. I'm in some type of rut now also, floundering to find a suitable middle aged look.

Maybe I had a hand in pushing her in this direction. Here at age 3, she is “styling” with the plastic earrings I gave her. This is one of my favorite pictures of young Sarah.
Here is another favorite one of mine taken at Christmas 2007.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Happy Birthday

3-15-09 in love brain
It's my Mom's birthday today, but I won't get to celebrate with her until later this month. I love this picture of my Mom since it brings back the memories of my wonderful childhood. My Mom's unconditional love is what made my world a secure and safe place in which to grow. I am blessed to be her daughter..... Thanks Mom..... I love you!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

In need of a retreat

I feel like I am in need of a "retreat"...... and I can upon this poem/prayer last night in the book I was reading called "100 Graces" which the authors or rather editors (Marcia & Jack Kelly) have selected 100 of their favorite..... as they call them..... "mealtime blessings".

Here is one of my favorite ones:

"The Peace of Wild Things"
When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water, and I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. - Wendell Berry

For those of you who don't know who Wendell Berry is..... it's worth a google search!

PS: Thanks to Steve and Vanni for the wonderful Christmas gift of this book.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Joyful noise

3-13-09 joyful brain

My nephew and I have been fascinated by the birds this week; we have especially noted an invasion of the ROBINS!
It would seem that the wet warmer weather has made hunting for worms profitable for them. We have seen them in such large numbers; they must be migrating back north. One day we counted 20+ robins in the front yard and enjoyed watching one take a bath in the bird bath recently filled with rain. A few days later was counted 30+ robins in the back yard and in the neighbors Oak tree. This was taken at 3:30 in the afternoon, one very overcast day.
How many robins can you count in this picture?

The song of the robin is one my favorites. I will look forward to their “cheery, joyful noise ” as the days warm up and the windows can be open.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Europe on my mind

3-12-09 traveling brain

I’m dropping my friend Ann off at the airport later today. Yesterday, I dropped my friend Sue off at the airport at 4:45AM.... (see I can get out of bed if I have to!). Seems it is the time for some spring break trips. Sue is off the Florida with her teenage daughter and Ann if off on another Drake University trip to Europe.

I met Ann in 2005 when Greg and I also went on the Drake University trip to Europe, as part of Greg’s MPA study program (about 20 days in length). Ann has been going on these trips yearly since she also received her MPA at Drake. This year instead of sending home postcards of her travels, she is hoping to do a travel blog, and the class also will be “twittering”. Greg and I almost wanted to go again with the class this year, but instead during this time we will be getting our 2nd home in Kansas City moved in and all organized.

I started to reminisce about our trip in 2005 and thinking about all the educational programs we attended in Ireland, England, Belgium, Germany and we ended in Paris (plus some sight-seeing trips). I couldn’t begin to pick my favorite experience, but I do love Paris so much, probably due to the art museums. Here are a few pictures from our time in Paris. Spring time in Paris 2005 was wonderful!

I identified with this Rodin sculpture, it was of a women with a heavy block on her shoulder. (A women's work is never done!)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Animal magnetism

3-11-09 animal brain

Several of my blog friends have challenged me to participate in a “blog game”. It’s simple enough…. You are instructed to post the picture that is in your computer PICTURE files…. In the 6th folder and the 6th picture in that folder, I’m not sure why “6” is the game number for today…. But I’ll play along. My 6th folder is a “CATS” folder (“children with fur” folder)

This picture was taken by me of my two special guys…. Both of whom I shared my bed with for many years; often I was wedged between the two of them, unable to move. The picture of Greg and Buster was taken around 1994, I’m guessing by the small size of Buster and the sweatshirt Greg is wearing and the lack of gray hair on Greg’s head.
This is one of Buster’s favorite places to sit….. and often he would insist on being on your shoulders even without your permission. He’d get that look in his eyes and you knew he was getting ready to jump up on you.

Often when I’d be sitting at my desk and working on the computer, Buster would be sitting on my shoulders with his head hanging down my left upper arm, just relaxing…. His tail sometimes would be flipping about and slapping the right side of my face. That was nice in the winter, since he kept me warm…..but in the summer it got a bit annoying.

This picture brings back good memories for me. Buster was my “baby boy”, my constant companion for 13 years. In May it will be 3 years since he became sick and died, …….. BUT I can still feel his presence and our love for each other is infinite.

I’m still astounded and intrigued by the depth of love I have for that silly cat!

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened” Anatole France

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dinning room project

3-10-09 grateful brain

The dinning room painting project is completed, and curtains hung Monday night.

Here is Christopher patching the old dark blue walls.

Below is new wheat color walls. Monday Christopher did an excellent job getting the new curtain rods in place and I did an excellent job making beef stew for our dinner. We both have improved our skill-set over the last few weeks together.

Our house projects are coming to an end. There is still more that could be done..... but I need a break..... I need to rest up....and it will soon be time to focus my attention on outside projects. Christopher has been here with me for a month now and will soon have to turn to Tennessee.

I am a most grateful "Aunt Judy" who has enjoyed spending time with her nephew. I appreciate the work he has done for me and appreciate the intelligent, kind, funny, hard working young man he has evolved into. I have savored our time spent together and will treasure the memories for years to come!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Double edged sword

3-9-09 sleepy brain

It’s THAT time of year…. The time I both love and hate, simultaneously. Yes, spring is in the air! I heard the Cardinals and Robins singing this morning…. One of my favorite sounds after a long, silent winter.

But along with spring season’s gifts, also comes that dreaded time….. times two…… and I’m still trying to decide which on is the hardest on me!

#1 Daylight savings time begins (springing backwards an hour)
#2 Girl Scout Cookies

This weekend they arrived a rare conjunction, luckily for me, occurring every 10 years or so.

#1 Springing backwards an hour is hard on my body. After hibernating most of December, January, and February, I look foreword to the daylight beginning to lengthen and the morning sunlight actually starts to wake me up. I hate getting up in the dark since I’m not a morning person. I feel so wonderful this time of year when I can get up before my alarm clock. This starts happening in late February and early March…..Then the dreaded day comes when all the daylight we’ve gained in the morning is stripped away and put at the end of the day. It’s not like I can use that extra hour of light to do yard work in March….. that won’t happen for another month here in Iowa.

#2 I love the Thin Mints Girl Scout cookies! I don’t know why I let myself even buy them and some years I resist. But when my young neighborhood girls come knocking on my door, my heart melts and I HAVE to support them, as others have done for me when I was growing up. The challenge is to see how long I can make two boxes of Thin Mints last…… the problem being that once one of the long sleeve of cookies is open…… it “has to” get eaten.

Day one of their arrival: 1 of the 4 sleeves is now gone! ….. what can I say…. I felt sleep deprived and was looking for a boost of energy…… unfortunately when sugar is involved, that is only a temporary boost.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Relevant life

3-8-09 reconsidering brain on sabbatical
After spending time with my husband and nephew this weekend….. I started thinking about my blog post from yesterday. Maybe technology isn’t all THAT important to a relevant life…. while Love, family, friends, service to others, spirituality, and my belief in a higher power are the things that really make MY life relevant.

I've been blogging now, pretty much daily, for two months.
I think I need to cut down to every other day and spend more of my time away from the computer.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Can I keep up?

3-7-09 techo brain

This is a picture of my first laptop I used for work. I know this is around 1991 since the picture was taken in my apartment before I was married. Also note the "state-of-the-art" printer I had. It was a dot matrix, the kind where the paper feed in as one long piece and you had to rip each page apart.
I wish I had a picture of my first cell phone. That was about the size of my shoe and really not so different from the shoe phone on the TV show "Get Smart"

I am on at least my 4 or 5th laptop and cell phone since then and each new one gets smaller and lighter AND FASTER!....... but can I keep up?

My friend Molly and I have decided that we have to make the effort to keep up with technology in order to stay relevant. If we don't keep up now, we know it will be even more difficult as time passes. It's difficult enough now.....We both recently joined Facebook, I am learning a lot from my blog experience, but neither one of us has yet to start texting with our cell phones.

A friend sent me this video which I found fascinating and a bit intimidating as well.

Will I be able to keep up? ..... Will any of us be able to keep up?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Spring reprieve

3-6-09 grateful brain

There are really only two kinds of prayers. One is: "Help me, help me , help me." The other is: "Thank you, thank you, thank you." You just fill in the details. -Katharine Whittemore

Today I am most thankful for the spring like temperatures! The crocus are peeking up through the leaves in my front garden.

Yesterday I walked up to the post office during lunch to enjoy the warm and sunny March day, temperatures reached 67 degrees… Ahhhhhhh, it was just what I needed! One of the best things about having a long, hard winter season is that it teaches a person to really enjoy and savor spring! Again today I will be sure I enjoy the mild weather.

Today, for me, all is right with the world (at this present moment)..... which brings to mind the phase “This Too Shall Pass”. These words are often used to help a person endure a difficult period. There is comfort in knowing that life can and will eventually change for the better. BUT likewise it is important to remember this phrase when things are good, since you know also that change can happen and good times need to be enjoyed, relished and experience fully when you have been blessed by their presence.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The importance of balance

3-5-09 balanced brain

My brain cloud has started to lift.

I was physically worn out two weekends ago with all the painting projects I was doing with my nephew..... so I started out fatigued that Monday my Mom called and told me my Dad was in the hospital. After spending the week at University Hospital with my parents and sister, I also became mentally drained dealing with my Dad's health issues.

I've attempt to "rest up" by going to bed early most nights, but I didn't have much improvement, so I resorted to an early acupuncture treatment.... and I'm happy to report I'm starting to feel much better now.

I have been getting monthly acupuncture treatments since October 1997. I remember the date well, since acupuncture changed my life so dramatically, and thus I've made it part of my routine proactive health maintenance plan. If you remember reading blog posting from 2-9-09, I referred to suffering from "chronic fatigue" the summer of 1990. I slowly recovered from the "acute" phase and could return to work full time..... but I still suffer periodically when I "over do it". Acupuncture, along with the use of some herbs, and learning how to eat more healthy, have made all the difference in my quality of life. I basically live normal now, but am prone to fatigue if I let myself get out of balance.

Remember the plate spinning act on Ed Sullivan Show back in the 1960's. That was one of my favorites as a kid, also along with Topo Gigio (the little Italian mouse puppet).... that would say... "Eddy, kiss me goodnight"...

UPDATE on my Dad:
Dad is home and doing pretty well getting back to his normal routine. Hopefully the change in his blood pressure medicine has helped. I believe he has decided not to have the brain aneurysm surgery. At age 84 maybe it is best just to live the best quality of life you can and be grateful each day you wake up! ? It will be Dad's decision to make. I've already got enough my my plate..... I won't go trying to spin Dad's plate as well.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Knitting a new reality

3-4-09 brain cloud

I'm working through many emotions..... It’s not a bad thing to do, really. Most of us are forced to do it from time to time.

Greg put it into words best for me today (referring to my midnight posting)....

"Failing gravity refers to not feeling grounded…..Earth shifting beneath your feet….Old realities being challenged…Drifting free of previous restrictions into a new state. Annoyance is due to being forced to change expectations without having any say in the matter. Dangling thread refers to previous fabric of reality being unraveled, providing the stock to knit a new reality".

To put it simply, I’m in a funk.
But I’ve been here before, so I know what to do.

Step One:
Accept the fact you are in a funk. Let yourself feel those emotions and don’t deny them….. even let yourself indulge in those emotions, but only for awhile. You are only allowed a pity party for one night. Avoid buying cookies and do not indulge in sweets.

Step Two:
Take action! I prefer the “pissed off” cleaning session. I seem to get in the mood to clean when I’m annoyed at life. I guess it’s my way of trying to control the environment around me. Fortunately or unfortunately, I don’t get in this mood much and thus I have to rely on my housekeeper to clean most of the time.
Another good action step is to exercise. I prefer walking. Try storming down the street as if you are going to neighbors to tell them their dog is barking and keeping you up at night….. keep walking briskly until you are worn out. Avoid eating those Twinkies!

Step Three:
Do something positive. Go get a massage or I find an acupuncture treatment to be very helpful. Also doing something kind for another person is very helpful at lifting your spirits and taking to focus off of yourself.

Step Four:
Dust off your gratitude journal and start listing all the things that you are grateful for.

An important step between Step One, Two, Three, Four...... fall on your knees and pray for strength.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"crappiest generation" vs. amazing world

3-3-09 hesitant brain

I was emailed this video and by a click of a button, I was able to put it into my blog..... not sure if it will work..... but I found that to be amazing technology if it did work as promised!
I can relate to so much of this video! How about you?

My apologies to the "crappiest generation"..... but admit it..... it's so true!

Click on this highlighted link below:

“We live in an amazing, amazing world, and it’s wasted on the crappiest generation of spoiled idiots.”

Posted using ShareThis


3-2-09 midnight sleepless drama right brain

I'll warn you, this blog may take an ugly turn for awhile..... hey, that's real life.... it's not always neat and pretty. I'm sure you've been there too, but have you been brave enough to share it with others?

I AM ANNOYED! I don't know now better to describe my feelings. I am annoyed that gravity has failed me and I am beginning to spin off into space.

I know having control is just an illusion, but the illusion makes looking into the mirror more pleasant. Someone..... or did I, pull on my sweater's dangling thread?.... now I am afraid I can not stop it from unraveling. Don't feel bad if you feel the need to turn away for awhile.... you may not be ready to see me naked!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Time to be happy

3-2-09 depleted brain

I have to be frank...... I'm worn out after this past week. I need to take some time to get my energy back. I return to some of my past writings to find some comfort and peace. This poem was placed in my brain one morning during Thanksgiving break after a hectic and busy year of 2002 had left me feeling depleted. I was laying in bed long after I had woken up. I love that state of mind between sleep and alertness, where you are relaxed and your mind is still floating in and out of dream consciousness. These words came to me then..... almost word for word..... a gift from my creative spirit!

"Time to Be Happy"

To be happy-
I need time on my hands,
Thick, sticky time that doesn’t slip through my fingers,
Solid time that won’t evaporate into haste.

Time to look beyond the busyness-
Time to study the birds gathering at the feeder,
Time to gaze at the lingering sunset,
Time to lie back in the grass staring up at the stars,

Not time to think, or even the time to dream-
But time just to let my mind wander closer to heaven.
Time like now, listening to these quiet words in my head,
And the silent peacefulness in my heart.

God is here-
Trying to come though,
If only I take the time-
Time to be happy

Judy Sebern Beachy, 2002

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The odd couple

3-1-09 celebrating brain

Today is Greg's birthday! I wanted to blog about the first birthday we spent together.... it was March 1st 1991..... but I'm not yet back into the blogging groove.

However, when I received this video from a friend recently, it reminded me of Greg and I.... we were attracted to each over instantly.... and later discovered we really were a rather "odd couple" in many respects. I guess that is why we make such a great couple!

In the video, Greg plays the part of the cat, and I am the fawn! ..... ENJOY!..... and I will explain this all in a later blog posting..... Happy Birthday to my sweetheart!