Thursday, April 30, 2009

It's all about ME!

4-30-09 Narcissistic brain
So on Saturday morning as Greg and I were working out in the yard together, it actually was very pleasant out and I was enjoying the birds singing. I commented, out loud, to Greg how nice it was that the birds are singing for us while we worked. Greg had to use one of his famous lines he uses on me…. (and rightly so)…. Greg often has to remind me…… “it’s not all about you Judy”!

Oh, I keep forgetting that fact……. I guess I have this weird view of the universe, that it IS that personal. It is all about me, at the same time it is all about you, and all about all the other people too, as well as all about that cardinal singing to his mate.

Anyway, this is how our conversation started and it progressed to me pondering out loud (one of my bad habits)…. If life was all about me…. Who would play my role in the movie addition of “my life”.??? I told Greg I would cast Robert Downey Jr in his current role, since when they both have beards, I think Greg looks like him a little.

In the past, I always thought Meg Ryan could probably do a good job playing me, but then she went and had some plastic surgery to her face and ruined her looks…. So she’s out of the question. Then there is Christina Applegate who currently in doing a comedy role on TV. However, I have to remember now that I am middle aged, so maybe Jean Smart, the actress who plays her mother on that TV show, is a better choice of being a dizzy blond (but without the southern accent).

Then Greg reminded me that I would have to cast several people to play me over the years. I think Kate Hudson would be prefect since she has my body: small breasts, dancer’s legs and an amble rear end….. the body I use to have….. Now my shape is returning to my toddler days. I guess menopause is like puberty in reverse.

I'm the younger one here in the black suit. This is when I was going through my "serious phase". I had to post this picture for my sister Jan and also for Alice... they both probably need a good laugh today!

PS: On 2nd thought, maybe Goldie Hawn would be the best to play the part of ME!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

May comes early

4-29-09 rhubarb brain
The month of May has arrived early today…. Rhubarb reminds me of May, but on Tuesday I picked my first rhubarb out of the garden and made my first rhubarb crisp of the season.

Here is my Mom’s easy version of a rhubarb crisp that I use all the time. It’s ironic that I will post a recipe here, since I do not excel in the kitchen and I don’t have much desire to….but I have gained a reputation on my street by providing some delicious crisps at neighborhood outings.

I cut up the rhubarb, enough to fix in Pyrex bowl. I also like to add strawberries (optional). I add 1 to 1.5 cups of sugar, with 3 to 4 Tablespoons of Tapioca.... I also either add a teaspoon of lemon juice or grate some orange peel.

After that is mixed up and left to stand for 15 minutes, I just top with a box of Jiffy yellow cake mix and put about ½ stick of butter cubed on top. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Of course it is great with vanilla ice-cream!

I wish you could smell this through the blog… it is wonderful!
This was almost like a 4-H food demonstration!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Highway thoughts

4-28-09 Long-winded brain
Monday, I made my 3 hour journey back to Des Moines….. and I will be here at least for the next two weeks. I had planned to drive home on Sunday evening, but there was rain and severe storms both in Kansas and Iowa. I finally was able to leave KC about 10:00 AM on Monday. I took the left over pizza from last night’s dinner with me as my lunch- (sorry Greg).

I as entered onto the Freeway, I-435 to make the loop north around the city, I turned on the radio and it was playing the Supertramp song “…. You take the long way home…” and I thought that was a perfect traveling song to start with! Of course that song took me back to 1979 and memories of the most fun summer romance I ever had. (And No, Ann…… Greg won’t “feel bad” that I’m thinking about this….. our romance started in December 1990 and has never ended!) So we can’t compare this apple to that orange. But I won’t get into all that now.

I will explain why I do listen to KCMO, the “classic rock” station… or the “oldies” station….in Kansas City…. what ever they call it. About a year and a half ago I was listening to an NPR show which told about a scientific experiment (a British Study I believe) on old people aged 70’s and 80’s. Two groups were created and one group continued to live their normal everyday lives. The other group was “taken back in time”. They only listened to music from the 40’s, and old radio shows, and watched old movies and were submerged with life as back in the 40’s. Blood work was taken from both groups before and after the study which lasted several months if I remember correctly. What they found was that the old folks who were submerged back in time actually had a difference and improvement in their blood work which was reflected by “younger” blood studies. Thus, on a regular basis I visit the past through music.

After the KC radio station started to fade, I next tuned into the WHO Des Moines talk radio station, mostly conservative talk…. And they were freaking out today that gay couples were able to get married legally in Iowa as of today. I had to ask myself who are these objecting voices? …. Thinking they are speaking for God and assuming that God would object to this too. Do they really know Jesus? Jesus came to love and sacrifice for us and to teach us how to live our lives in a closer relationship to the Divine. Jesus lived under a brutal government of the Romans and corruption ruled the land. However, he came to show a new way to live even while under these circumstances, making Jesus not only AWESOME DIVINE but SO relevant today. Jesus never instructed his followers to “change Roman law” or “fight the government”…. He keeps us pointed to a higher power, …. “to be in the world, but not of the world”. We are fortunate to live in a country where our laws can and should provide equal rights to all people. Sure these are not God’s laws and don’t need to be God’s laws. Jesus encourages us to live by God’s laws but “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s”… but we should not judge or be concerned how others choose to live their lives. “Take out the log in your eye, before you remove your neighbor’s”…. “whoever is without sin, cast the first stone”….. bla… bla.. bla…. Enough about “my” Jesus. I guess I too should not judge the people who oppose equal marriage/union rights….. I’ll leave that to Jesus…. Sorry for my rant.

Soon it was 11:30 and that talk show was over and I was at my half way point of my return trip. I had told myself I wasn’t going to eat the pizza until 11:30, so I took my first bite….. And then I created the “pizza game”…. I could have eaten all the pizza in about 5 minutes. But I decided to challenge myself to pace myself and eat it slow. I’d take one bite and chew for a whole minute, then waited a full minute before I took another bite. That pizza lasted me until 12:13 …..AND I felt so full, almost stuffed. This was good practice to eat slow and mindfully and maybe I would eat less.

Next came listening to the music CD “The Wall” by Pink Floyd from around 1980. It was just the right mood music for the overcast skies and rain. When I left KC we had almost 2.5 inches in the rain gauge overnight and it was 62 degrees. When I got to Iowa it was 55 degrees and I had over 4 inches in the rain gauge. I did drive in some rain and was glad that Greg had bought new wiper blades for my seven year old Mini Cooper. It’s wonderful having a partner who takes care of my car issues before I even know I have an issue. (Thanks Greg).

When I came home, I found the usual trickles of water in the basement from all the rain, so I turned up the dehumidifier on high. On my trip between KC and DM every river and stream was swollen and also south of DM the farm fields had areas of standing water. I hope this isn’t the start of another spring of floods like last year!...But already we have twice the amount of rain we have in a normal year by the month of March...... Then of course it was back to work again in the afternoon and in the evening it was watching Dancing with the Stars while I blogged.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A fence line

4-27-09 healing brain
A fence line- a metaphor for life…... There are many metaphors used to describe a person’s life…..I’m sure I’m not the first person to use this comparison of a "fence line"…. But it entered my brain Saturday morning as Greg and I were out doing more yard work at the KC house.

The east fence line looks as if it has been neglected over the years. Vines and volunteer trees have created a dense growth in which leaves have collected. At best, the previous owner cut off some of these, unfortunately the remaining old stumps have sent up sucker branches. There is some nice ground cover, which I call “periwinkle” since I don’t know the real name. This ground cover has small periwinkle colored flowers in the spring, so I want to encourage this growth, while removing all the unwanted vegetation.

As I was snipping out dead branches and the new spring growth which is intertwined in the fence, I thought how difficult this now is to clean out. How much easier it would be if cleaning were done over the years on a regular basis. It reminded me of the need to regularly assess and clean out emotional baggage .ie. …..“vines” and over growth that can clutter up our lives. Often these vines are planted in childhood and if not pruned and tended to, our adult lives can be affected by this unwanted overgrowth.

Awareness, forgiveness and love would be some of the useful tools used to prune this emotional overgrowth.

How much more enjoyable is a life lived free on old hurts, old habits, and old negative thinking patterns. The longer neglected, the more time consuming this clean out work is, but good progess is possible.

Yet, no matter how vigilant and regular the snipping and pruning is done, there are some hurts that hang on….. and become part of your life fence. Probably none of us have a totally clean fence line.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Edible brain

4-26-09 edible brain

I had to post today to give another picture of a new morel discovery right out in the middle of the yard! It is close to a low spot, which leads me to think at one time there was a tree growing in this area.

Also I had to post today to use the suggestion of "edible brain" from Alice, my childhood neighbor/2nd mother figure. Alice reads my blog and she also is an artist and creative soul. Alice commented that the morel looks like a brain.... and she is so right about that!

Greg and I won't be eating our mushrooms this year, the lawn was treated last week I believe, but I'm not sure with what. We are using Hunt Lawn Service in KC. This is the lawn company owned by my friend Molly's husband Jeff. I still have to mow the lawn in DM. It's a small yard so that's not a big deal except when I'm out of town, then I have the neighborhood boy, Will, lined up to help me.

Happy Sabbath!
We will not be doing any yard work today. Going to visit Grace Presbyterian Church in KC, the 11:00 service to worship with one our our past minters- Kimby!

PS: All the oak trees are shedding their pollen this weekend and Greg is suffering with his allergies.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


4-25-09 surprised brain

Greg and I made a surprising discovery in our KC backyard this week.

Morel mushrooms!

Back in Iowa, people who love to eat these mushrooms spend springtime walking through the woods "hunting" morel mushrooms.....since they usually grow best in hidden places it seems...........and here we have some growing right under our Forsythia bushes. We saw about four or five. A few were cut off by our raking..... that's when we first noticed the strange pieces in our rake.

For those of you who love morels..... I'm wondering if these pictures are making your mouth water? I have always found them to be rather bizarre! But if you put enough butter on anything it can be edible!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Rock solid advice

4-24-09 acoustic brain

This is the rock I put in my pocket.

It was the rock on the right side of my painting which I posted yesterday.
I don't know if you can tell by this picture, but this rock is rather heart shaped. This rock is whispering to me.... it is telling me to spend more time with Greg this week and stop spending so much time blogging!

I had to laugh to myself the other evening, as I observed Greg and I sitting on the cough together each with our own laptop on our laps. I was blogging and he was on Faceblook. I commented out loud to him.... "Remember when we use to sit on the couch together and we each would have a purring cat on our lap keeping us warm, instead these computers"?

I'm sure our life will include more cats again at some point, but for now it's just these darn computers which are getting all the attention!

I hope this rock will stop whispering to me and start shouting to me!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Whispering Rocks"

4-23-09 Reminiscing brain
Last Friday I spoke of a friend, Deb, who helped me gain clarity for my life. Also during this time, my friend Steve who lives in Alaska sent me a life-line.... he sent me these "Whispering Rocks"! I put one of these rocks in my pocket today! I'm ready to listen again.....

This is a pastel picture I drew of my special rocks.

Storytelling Art- The words behind the picture!
By Judy Sebern Beachy

Whispering Rocks

Excerpts from “Judy’s Journal” an unpublished manuscript of rambling thoughts.

3-18-01 Sunday:
For six months, I have been suffering from confusion and inner turmoil, weighing the options and opportunities of my career in cancer research. Do I advance to a management position?
Or do I change jobs to coordinate a hospital cancer program?

I have sought advice from others and requested prayers from many friends. Still the conflict raged inside of me, leaving me tired and stressed. However, yesterday, I am happy to report that clarity and insight arrived in the most unusual way- in a container of polished rocks that my friend Steve had shipped to me from Alaska.

I was admiring their beauty together as a collection, but it wasn’t until I started to examine them individually that each rock began to speak to me. I found the black rock was not really black at all, but had streaks of blue, gray, green, and copper. Similarly, a white rock was multicolored with fascinating patterns that swirled. Each rock shared its unique beauty with me and I saw the divine and felt God’s presence in each one.

I then knew, if given the chance, that I could sit all day studying these rocks and I would find great pleasure and fulfillment from doing just that. You see, the rocks reminded me of my calling as an artist, which for me is the pursuit of the spirit, the divine, which transcends the material world and transports me beyond everyday reality, allowing me to walk closer with God. Thus my career path was made clear- to continue with my current job, which allows me the flexibility and time to let the artist within me grow and evolve.

Thank you to everyone who has been praying for me.
And thank you Steve for the rocks!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

4-22-09 Mother Earth brain
Today is Earth Day! Friends have been asking me if I’m doing anything special this year. I guess they still remember 2005. That year I went all out and organized an Earth Day Art Show which featured paintings of the Iowa landscape done by a group of my fellow artists in Des Moines.

We had good press and this was quite successful in raising money for the organization, 1000 Friends of Iowa which promotes responsible development of Iowa’s natural resources and agricultural lands.

This year my celebration will be simple. I plan to enjoy some outdoor time with Greg after work. I have been discovering and appreciating NATURE here in the neighborhood of Old Leawood this week.

First of all on Friday evening, as we sat outside on the backyard deck, I was so excited to see an owl. I wasn’t sure what bird it was at first, sitting up high in a large tree, since it was starting to get pretty dark, ....BUT then it hooted at us as it glided out of our sight. I also heard the owl several times that night when I was in bed. The owl must like our yard since we seem to have many bunnies running around.

I was also happy this week to see that our backyard contains two lilac bushes in the back corner by the forsythia bushes. This week our neighborhood also is in full color with the red bud trees displaying their spring beauty. A few blocks away from our house I discovered this mini neighborhood park that is so typical in parts of KC. Many of these areas include fountains and sculptures which enhances the ambiance of these mature neighborhoods.

There is abundant beauty here to be enjoyed and on such a nice day, I can't wait to get outside after work!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A slow day in the fast lane

4-21-09 sewing brain

So Saturday Greg and I woke to a warm but rainy morning and we were inspired to do spring cleaning at the KC house. Not that the KC house was all that dirty since we did deep cleaning last month when we moved in. However, we finally got around to taking down all the curtains to launder. Greg was very helpful at ironing them since I had started another project. I was determined to sew some new curtains for the front family room window.
Being the creative type, I found two table clothes and a bed sheet on sale at TJ Max which I liked and could envision as cute curtains. Here I have them laid out on the floor, my only work space. I was distracted at one point with the sound of laughing children outside.

I had to smile when I saw the kids across the street outside playing in the rain. My sister and I loved doing this when we were kids so it was nice to see this was not a lost art. Sorry the photo is not clear since it was taken through the window I was making the curtains for.

I had traveled to KC this trip with my portable sewing machine hoping for time to work on the curtain project. Speaking of another lost art- does anyone still sew? I grew up with a mother who sewed and thus I started to learn at age 11 when I joined 4-H. During high-school many of my friends and I sewed our own clothes but mostly now at this stage of my life I only do pillows and curtains. I have always believed that learning the art of sewing helped develop my brain. Learning to use patterns, taking pieces of fabric, visualizing and constructing into a final wearable garment is great at building many skills useful in life. It also taught me focus and enjoyment of completing a project.

My curtain project was slow going at first, after I changed my mind mid stream as to what type of curtains I would make. I ended up with “tabs” at the top to match the other curtains in the room. My final project- "shabby chic" curtains turned out well and seems to fit perfect in this room, which at the moment is still totally empty.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Life in the fast lane?

4-20-09 approving brain
Friday after work I packed up the car and headed south 3 hours to spend time with Greg. For one brief moment I asked myself what it would be like to not have to do this “split-in-two life”. My Fridays of old would have started with me hanging around the house (probably watching Oprah at 4:00) just waiting for Greg to step off the bus from his job downtown Des Moines. I would see him out of the window walking across the church parking lot from the bus stop only a block way. What would we have done? Probably walk up to the Flying Mango, one of our favorite local restaurants. Then on this warm spring evening we would have probably gone for a walk and visited with neighbors spending time outside rejoicing at this opportunity to escape their winter caves.

However appealing that still sounds to me now, it somehow felt a little boring and I actually found myself looking forward to my time in KC and not even minding the 3 hour drive. I use this time to either listen to podcasts or music and I love watching the country side and the change of seasons before my eyes. I enjoy the benefits of living in the city, but I also long to be out in the country!

My KC friend Molly actually also has a type of “split-in-two-life”. She grew up on a farm in NW Iowa, so she has a side of her that loves horses, animals and the country life. However, Molly also has a big city girl inside of her. She has a good paying management job in KC, loves art, theater, shopping, make-up and the latest styles and trends in fashion, as well as eating out at diverse restaurants. She was the one to introduce me, back in the 80’s, to trying to eat more than just hamburgers. Now I love Indian, Mediterranean and other ethnic restaurants.

Molly now has the best of both worlds in KC. She married Jeff who has a farm just south of KC. Greg calls it a “hobby farm” since they don’t grow crops. Basically their farm is home to hundreds of animals and I’m not exaggerating too much with that statement. They have not only many cats and dogs, but goats, sheep, cows, a buffalo named Cheyenne, a llama or two, donkeys, horses, peacocks, geese, ducks, turkeys, chickens, and two indoor parrots. Jeff is a regular Dr. Doolittle, or animal whisper!

This weekend as I was in KC, we called Molly to see if she was free to go out for lunch with us Saturday. Of course Molly wanted to, but she explained she was playing the part of a “farm wife” this weekend. She was doing some chores with Jeff that dealt with baby chicks and another task involving hay. We finally met Molly Sunday early evening for dinner at an Indian restaurant and heard the details of what the chickens and hay involved…. But no need for that detail here.

I guess my point today is that having greater options, opportunities and experiences that come from living a “split-in-to-life” is worth the extra effort it takes to juggle this type of life style. It seems to be working for Molly and I believe it is working quite well for Greg and I at this time.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday update

Happy to report that my Letter to the Editor on Equal Marriage Rights did get published today in the Des Moines Register! It was interesting to go to the website and see comments on line.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Equal rights under the law

4-18-09 humble brain
One more blog on the topic of gay marriage in Iowa.

My church friend Ted whom I mentioned in my blog on Monday 4-6-09 was interviewed for an article in the Des Moines Register newspaper. Wednesday it appeared. For those of you who would want to read more about Ted, this is a well written article which captures Ted perfectly and the story of his unconditional love for his daughter.

My role as activist and advocate for equal rights pales next to Ted's bright light.

I thought this Opinion article in the Des Moines Register was also good.

Lastly, here is my Letter to the Editor I sent into the Des Moines Register this week. I was attempting to use my "creative thinking" to come up with a new view of the topic. If one side wants ABC and the other side wants XYZ..... maybe we should be looking in a new direction of AJZ ?

Author Stephen Covey ("The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People") believes in "Think Win-Win" and "Synergize".... there is often a 3rd, 4th or more solutions to a problem... a person just needs to think out side of the box!

My Letter to the Editor:
I support state laws that are fair and equal for all Iowa citizens. Those who oppose gay marriage and call for a Constitutional amendment might be onto a good idea. A fair amendment actually could be the win/win resolution to this issue once and for all. I'm proposing that Iowa Law needs to be amended by replacing every reference to the word “marriage” with the words “civil union”. This would make it clear that civil rights are for all committed couples who live in Iowa and is a separate issue from religious doctrine. Churches would then be free to continue to choose which couples they approve of for the holy sacrament of marriage. ..... JSB 4-13-09

Now on to other areas of interest. ..

Friday, April 17, 2009

My week

4-17-09 routine brain

This week Greg is in San Francisco for a work conference. Originally we had planned that I would join him and we would make this into a vacation. However, since we bought the 2nd house, our budge doesn’t have as much loose change lying around, and I need to watch how I spend my vacation time since I’m saving up for time off this summer for family reunions.

I do have wonderful memories of another trip I made to SF with Greg in 2003. It's fun to look back at these pictures now. That was a good trip with nice weather. My favorite part was either the boat ride in the bay, or the bike ride we took along the bay on a rented tandem bike.

I am disappointed that I won’t have the chance to visit a cool couple, Jeff and Deb, who now live in SF. Jeff was Greg’s boss in 2000 and Deb played am important part in my life in 2001. Deb was my "personal life coach" when I was trying to figure out if I should stick with my current job. I was unhappy at that time. Deb gave me good advice and had me write down the plus side of my job and the negative side of my job. I then discovered that the few negative things that bothered me the most; I did have some control over. Thus I took control and was able to make some positive changes that worked for me. I really wanted to reconnect with Deb since she has had a rough 6 months due to the loss of two family members. I guess it will have to wait until another opportunity. Sorry Deb!

So instead of being on vacation this week, this is what I did:

1. Worked of course, Monday-Friday, I spent most of my time on a breast cancer quality control project and a few other smaller projects. And I either prevented a law-suit or helped save a cancer patient from a recurrence (see yesterdays post).

2. I wrote a Letter to the Editor for the Des Moines Register Newspaper and I received a call that it would be published if there was room this coming week.

3. Monday evening I had dinner with my friend Ann Marie and we watched Dancing with the Stars.

4. Tuesday after work I walked and visited with some neighbors as I made my way down the street.

5. Tuesday evening I watched American Idol.

6. Wednesday after work I raked the front yard garden and mowed the front yard. I was worn out then, so took a hot bath and blogged a bit before bed.

7. Thursday after work I had my monthly Jin Shin Jyutsu (it’s an acupressure type treatment). Boy I needed that and I could tell I was starting to drag.

8. Thursday night I watched the 2nd episode of "that island wedding killing show" on CBS. I wouldn't have watched, but my friend Molly got me started last week. I'm going out on a limb with my prediction- I believe the killer is the sheriff!

My week definitely was not as exciting as it could have been if I was in SF with Greg, but with my "split-in-two-life" there is a sweetness and need for routine. Plus this week I am enjoying perfect Iowa spring weather for a change.... the daffodils are at their peak, the yellow forsythia are in bloom and the grass is greening up fast.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wednesday I made a difference

4-16-09 surprised brain
I don’t blog much about my 9 to 5 job. I guess after 25 years working for the State Central Cancer Registry it has become pretty routine for the most part, but Wednesday something very cool happened. I was visiting one of the hospitals in my territory helping with a quality review of their cancer data which gets sent into the Central Registry.

One particular prostate case, a 51 year old white male, had surgery and I noticed that there were positive surgical margins noted on the pathology report which means there was a chance that a small amount of cancer remained in this patient. In this case, one would expect this patient to receive adjuvant radiation treatment, but I didn’t see this information in the abstract I was reviewing. I wondered if this information had been missed, so I asked to see the follow up records from the urologist to see if this had been discussed with the patient, but there was no documentation of this in the medical records. The nurse I was working with then called the urology office and inquired. Lo and behold the positive margin information had been missed and they would now make sure that this patent would be contacted for a return appointment. Being a “young” patient, it will be important for this guy to get adjuvant treatment to prevent a recurrence.

If there is a lesson in this at all, it is to take an active part in your health care. If you have surgery, ask for a copy of your pathology report and have your family doctor or someone else to review this and explain what it all means. Second opinions are a good thing if you feel uneasy about anything. Also seek help from the American Cancer Society. They have a great program called the "Patient Navigator Program". They provide this free service to help cancer patients make informed decisions, and understand treatment options, as well as emotional support and day to day help with transportation and lodging.

I like their motto: Having cancer is hard, Finding help shouldn't be. 1-800-227-2345

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Yes, I will "chuck it"

4-15-09 determined brain
After re-reading my posts from the last few days, and reflecting back on the Easter sermon at my church Sunday, I have come to a decision. I AM now going to have to put Steve Deace on my “Chuck-it” list. Steve Deace is one of the local conservation radio talk-show hosts I occasionally listen to while I drive in the car.

If you view life as a game (which I don’t necessarily do), at times you have to decide which “team” you want to be on. I’ve decided I still want to continue to be on the team that does NOT use words like “sodomy” and “baby killers” to describe a certain group of people. I don’t want to be on that team which appears to use fear to motivate people.

Our new pastor, Stu, during his Easter sermon, made some good sense to me when sharing the good news of the risen Christ. He said that our life, and they way we live it, is shaped by our vision of DEATH. If we are people who don’t believe that Jesus overcame death, then we are people who worry about safety, desire revenge, and want protection against those who appear to be different. OR if we are people who believe in Jesus and life after death, then we are people who believe in God’s everlasting life and love, and these people show this in by living without fear, believe in forgiveness, live with hope, and strive to "love your neighbor as yourself”.

I guess that means I need to try to love Steve Deace in spite of my beef with him. That’s going to be a challenge for me, but I know I can with the help of God’s love. But still, I’m going to put listening to the Steve Deace radio show on my “chuck it” list……. (I'm sure Steve won't even miss me)........ Until perhaps that unsuspecting day when God’s mysterious ways inspire me to tune in the radio as I drive in the car just minding my own business! I’ll still stay vigil to any opportunity to "be used" or to “feed a hungry bird” ...if that opportunity presents itself.

*Picture: Easter Garden at Westminster Church 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A bag of popcorn

4-14-09 inspired brain
This blog post will either illustrate that God works in mysterious ways….. or that I am insane.

This experience happened last month on the Saturday I was in KC helping Greg get moved from our apartment into the new house. We made a trip to Kmart to buy a few cleaning supplies and such. On the way there, close to the store, coming in on a side road, we saw two geese in an unlikely place. One was sitting next to the sidewalk and the other appeared to be standing guard. My brain instantly retrieved a piece of information I had heard on some TV show…. The fact that geese, on their migration trips, will never leave a sick or dying member alone. They stay in pairs and watch out for each other.

So of course me, being the acutely sensitive animal lover that I am, I assumed this must be the case. As we arrived at the store, my mind became fixated on only one mission….. I needed to find some food for those birds….. to help give them strength to keep flying north. Greg didn’t notice that I had wandered away, looking over the options. There was parakeet food in the pet area …. Maybe some breakfast cereal would work?…. Or a loaf of bread? We often fed the ducks and geese dried bread at the park on the Cedar River, back in my hometown. I needed to find something inexpensive and functional in case the geese were gone on our trip back to the apartment, and I didn’t want to raise Greg’s reservations on my proposal.

I was about ready to give up and was walking up to the check out counter when I spotted a large bag of popcorn. I grabbed it and set it along side with Greg's other purchases. Greg did question me…."You're eating popcorn"?... And with a silly smile, I sweetly said…. “It’s for those geese… I think one might be hurt”. Greg choose not to press me further…. He knows me well and loves me in spite of all the silly things I do. He did drive us back on the same road and was willing to stop the car to let me out to deliver my aid to the two geese. I happily was dumping the bag on the ground and felt relief when I saw them eating it. But I only gave them half of the bag. I’m not sure why really…. And Greg did question me when I got back into the car- why hadn’t I dumped the whole bag out? The first thing that came out of my mouth without any thought was, “there will be other hungry birds back at the apartment”.

As we were almost back to the apartment a few blocks away, on one of the corners of the Plaza, as often is the case, there was a homeless man standing with a sign. This man, instead of asking for money as most signs do, his said “need food”. As we approached and had to stop at the red light, I said, “I wonder if he would want some popcorn?” To my surprise, Greg actually rolled down the window (he usually poo-poos me when I talk to the homeless and give them money)… but maybe Greg is starting to get use to my routine…… Greg handed the half bag of popcorn out the window and the man was very appreciative and said “Thanks! I haven’t had popcorn in years”… As the man was starting to eat, the light changed green and we drove on….. I don’t know about Greg, but I was feeling that JOY of being used!

Who could predict that during a simple trip to Kmart, I could “kill/feed two birds with one "stone/bag of popcorn?”

God’s mysterious ways? ……Or insanity?
You decide for yourself!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The JOY of being used

4-13-09 frustrated brain

This weekend I came close to adding something new to my “chuck it” list.

What do you see here?

The logical side of my brain thinks I should stop trying to engage certain people in a conversation regarding their paradigm, their perception, and opinions on certain topics…. Like is this a vase or is this two faces?.... or topics like homosexuality, gay marriage, and even politics.

Some people seem to enjoy a good discussion and find it interesting to consider both sides of a topic. Others, I have found are closed, and their paradigm and opinions are set hard in stone.

Last year, I have had email exchange with a local conservative radio guy. This week I felt like I had to speak up to him again after listening to him rant about gay marriage on the radio on my drive home from Iowa City, Thursday night. He likes to constantly use the word "sodomy"...... and "baby killers" when describing people who believe differently than he.

When will I learn that I’m just wasting my time? ….. trying to talk to some people….some people like him…..people who like to use the word "sodomy" to get attention........ THIS is an activity I probably need to put in my “chuck it” list.

However, I am also aware that sometimes the spirit urges me to do things beyond normal reason. Sometimes God uses me …. And uses others… and uses you…. And there is often great joy. I don’t want to “chuck” that potential opportunity.

I love this “morning” prayer my Mary Ann Williamson from her book “Illuminata- a Return to Prayer”

Dear God,
I give this day to you.
May my mind stay centered on the things of spirit.
May I not be tempted to stray from love.
As I begin this day, I open to receive you.
Please enter where you already abide.
Make me the person you would have me be.
Direct my footsteps , and show me what you would have me do.
Make the world a safer, more beautiful place.
Bless all your creatures. Heal us all, and use me, dear Lord, that I might know the JOY of being used by you.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Good News!

4-11-09 holy brain

Tomorrow is Easter, I won’t be posting then….. so after I came back from the Good Friday service last night, I was remembering the experience in 2000 when Greg and I were fortunate enough to make our first trip to Europe, this time with our church choir. Greg and I don’t sing in the choir, but they had a few seats left to fill out their trip, so we jumped at the chance with the encouragement and some monetary support from my parents.

This trip started with a few days in Paris and some of the usual tourist sites of the Louvre and Notre Dame. The choir sang at various sites on our trip including in Notre Dame which was so very cool!

We then made our way by bus down to the south eastern part of France to several smaller villages, then on to Geneva into Switzerland and over the mountains into southern Germany. Our trip’s real purpose was saved for the end,..... to attend the Passion Play at Oberammergau.

This is a 360+ year old tradition for this Germany village to put on the Passion Play every 10 years. It’s an all day event with a break at lunch. I cannot even describe with words the magnitude of this production…. Maybe you can get a glimpse of it by visiting this web site.

Emotionally for me, it was an extremely moving experience. To see such a real portrait of the crucifixion of Jesus had every cell in my body on overload. During the nailing on the cross, I found myself frozen to my seat in real time…. But in my mind and my soul, I found myself running up to the foot of the cross screaming and wailing "NO! NO! NO!…. you can’t do this to my Lord!" …. I wanted to desperately stop this from happening by calling on the power of all the angels in the Universe. “Save Jesus”!

But what if the crucifixion had been stopped?
Would LOVE, salvation and redemption be in the world as we faithful followers of Jesus believe? Would God’s BIG picture plan for humanity be changed forever? A plan so big that no human can comprehend. And if we think we do understand “God’s way”….the “correct” way…..the “only way”…… are we fools? We need to remember our human perspective is so small, …. as a single grain of sand on the beach.

I was thinking about this in relationship to the Gay Marriage in Iowa. On my prior post on Monday, I probably didn’t report the whole story. Yes, there is much support for providing equal rights under the state law for all people…. However, there also is support opposing this. Very vocal people are screaming … "NO! NO! NO! Marriage is only between a man and a women!"

What if Equal Marriage rights would be stopped?
Which side of this debate is a part of God’s plan? …….. I don't know….. Except the only “clue” I try to use is to remember what Jesus taught….. he stated the most important commandment is: “You must love your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. AND Love your neighbor as yourself”; (Mark 12: 29)….

LOVE is the "clue" for me. Jesus loves us ALL even in our sin and brokenness, nothing can separate us from the love of God. That is the "Good News"!
Happy Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

"Chuck-it" list

4-10-09 unbalanced brain

Last week I read something in the Kansas City Star newspaper addressing the topic of a “Chuck-It List”. This is a play off of the 2007 movie, the “Bucket List” staring Jack Nicholson. The “bucket list” is a list of all the things the two old guys in the movie wanted to accomplish in their remaining months (before they kick the bucket).

The twist to this, the Chuck-it List, was the brainchild of comedian Michael Ian Black. His list is all the things you DO NOT need to do before you die. Black’s list included such things as
-Appreciate Mozart more
-Tour Europe’s great cathedrals
-Attend a major-league baseball game in every stadium
-Watch the sunrise
-Drive cross country in an RV

Although I never have seen the Bucket List movie, this had me wondering what my Bucket List might be as well as my Chuck-it List. My Bucket List might include wanting to see the Northern Lights in Alaska before I die, and re-visiting the Grand Canyon one more time and possibly hiking down to the bottom.

I don’t think I’m willing to put much on the Chuck-it List, since I never know what I might be in the mood to do in the future. I like to keep my options open and even if I think something doesn’t sound like too fun to do now…. I’ve learned to… “never say never”.

However, I do remember recently telling Greg something I had come to realize I was too old to do….and I never needed to do this as long as I lived. So something that I can put on my Chuck-it list is….. to purposely roll down a hill, either by somersaults or log rolling. I decided to “chuck” this recently, soon after I did this in October as I celebrated 53rd birthday. Greg and I were walking on a beautiful fall day along the hilly lawns of the KC Art Museum. I had the urge to “act like a kid” again, thus I took off rolling down the hill, and I believe I was screaming as I did it.

It seems that at age... my equilibrium isn’t what it use to be. When I got to the bottom of the hill I was so dizzy I felt as if I was going to throw up…. and on the spot, I regretted that I choose to do this. I also know now that I can “chuck” spinning in circles with my 3 year old nephew.

Then today, as I looked in the mirror, I decided I probably need to “chuck” wearing my hair in pig-tails…. At least not wearing pig-tails out in public. AND maybe I need to "chuck" these pink reading glasses too! ?

Other than that…. I’m still game for most things in life that are moral and legal.

How about YOU? Consider posting your own "Chuck it list" as a blog challenge!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Name game

4-8-09 filling the void brain

Sorry, not much time to blog this week, I am in Iowa City working. I'm giving some training and attending some educational meetings myself...... Thus I'm filling in with this post..... (Note: I won't have a post tomorrow.... I've decide to take Thursdays off instead of Wednesday)

My friend’s blog a few days ago posted the ABC’s of Life.
(See my right side panel of blog listings: My view from the Mountain on 4-5-09)

I liked this so much that I want to post it here and have everyone spell out your name!

Accept Differences Be Kind Count your Blessings Dream Express Thanks Forgive Give Freely Harm no One Imagine more Jettison Anger Keep Confidences Love Truly Master Something Nurture Hope Open your mind Pack Lightly Quell Rumors Reciprocate Seek Wisdom Touch Hearts Understand Value Truth Win Graciously Xeriscape Yearn for Peace Zealously support a worthy cause.

JUDY = Jettison Anger, Understand, Dream, Yearn for Peace…….
I like that!

PS: I don’t know was “X” is suppose to mean??? I hope your name doesn’t contain an “X”… if you figure it out, let me know!

ADDENDUM to 4-6-09 Monday:
After reading my blog Monday, my Dad phoned me and wanted to add to my knowledge base. Dad was a teacher, thus he explained that on Friday nights he would supplement his/our income by either coaching or officiating football games. Due to this, on Saturday mornings he needed time to recuperate, and thus he had this coffee ritual. I guess I always thought Dad was having fun with his "sports" on Friday nights, I can see now where it was extra work for him.
Next to the "job" of being a mother..... TEACHERS have the most demanding and important "jobs" in the world.... I see that they might need a "break" on the weekends...... but don't forget those MOTHERS.... they need a break once in a while also!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Shopping with Mom

4-7-09 weekend brain
Our weekend trip to my visit my parents was cut short due to the threat of blizzard conditions in northern Iowa on Sunday. We ended up moving our Saturday dinner plans up to Saturday lunch instead, as we were celebrating dad’s birthday with a special meal. Luckily, Mom and I were still able to complete our Saturday morning shopping as planned. My hometown, down from around a population of 12,000 at its peak in the late 60’s, now is only about 8,000 people, but the towns people have fun and creative ideas to entertain as well as trying to keep local business thriving. Saturday was “Chick Fest” day with around 12 businesses participating in sales and a raffle prize card if you visited all 12 shops and got your card stamped at each place.

We didn’t even attempt that, but we did shop at two of my usual stops when I am in town. Lidds Clothing store, run now by a classmate of mine after taking it over from his father’s family and a gift shop called Rustic Corner run by a gal who’s family used to farm with my grandfather.

However, our first stop on Saturday was to the Methodist Church rummage and bake sale. It was crowed with shoppers. The sale had started Friday, but today was $3.00 sack day, so what ever you could fit into a brown paper sack was one low price. Now that I am trying to clean out my house, AND really don’t need anything to speak of….I went into the sale hoping to limit my purchases.

A found a few things I couldn’t resist. This wood stand is a music box, for $2.00, I guess I’ll use as a fruit plate. I only bought it because I love music boxes.

I’m attracted to glass, thus I bought 3 of these rectangle small glass “boxes” for 50 cents each. I figured I can use them to contain my jewelry on my dresser since I need help keeping that more in order. The orange flower pin, $1.00, I was attracted to since it has a retro feel of the 60’s, and it probably did belong to someone in town during the 60’s. I do love to shop for vintage clothing and I do own some fun bright 60’s pieces, one of my favorite which I have had for a number of years is this lime green short jacket I like to wear in the summer with an orange tee-shirt underneath…. So the flower pin will go with this.

My other “had to have” purchase was some peace & love pins (made in China I'm sure).... I will enjoy giving away to friends. I found those at the Rustic Corner gift shop. Oh and yes, I did buy a light weight hoodie and teal colored top for spring at Lidds’ (Columbia brand)…. 20% off.

I also want to report that dad is doing well and hoping for warmer weather soon, so he can get out and walk more. AND YES, we did get blowing snow on Sunday!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Iowa History

4-6-09 equality brain
Greg and I made a trip to northern Iowa, arriving Friday afternoon to visit my folks for the weekend. While watching TV that evening, we heard the NEWS at 10:00 PM. Marriage equality arrived in Iowa! This topic was on my radar, since I have been a member of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Affirmation Group (GLSA group) at my church since it started about 10 years ago, but I have to admit, I still was a bit shocked at the news and the fact that this was a unanimous decision by the Iowa Supreme Court.

Iowa is an amazing state, just for the fact you never know what can happen here. The world might think we are a bunch of conservative farm folk, and that might be true up to a point, but Iowans are also forward thinking people who believe in equality and fairness.

Why is “marriage” important to gay couples?
Iowa law refers to “marriage” over 500 times and the federal government has listed more than 1,100 benefits it provides to legally married couples- such as: Medical decisions; retirement benefits; taxes; joint insurance policies for home, auto and health; Job benefits and health insurance… just to name a few. How can any US citizen be denied equal rights to those benefits?

I know…. Many people have trouble with the word “marriage”….. they say “equal rights- well maybe OK through Civil Unions…. But not marriage….. marriage is between and man and a women.... the Bible tells me so”. “Next thing you know Bruce will want to marry his cow”…….

OK, I understand how it is to get hung up on a WORD.

When Greg and I got married, I was having trouble getting my brain around the word “WIFE”…. I don’t like the word “wife”. I guess my view point was a wife had to do all the house work. I saw my Mom do all the work to take care of the kids and the house…. Then when I was age 12, she was "liberated" and went to work at the school library….. so now she had TWO jobs…. That didn’t look very liberating to me. On Saturday morning she cleaned and went to the grocery store…… while my Dad got to go out for coffee….. that didn’t seem fair to me….. so I grew up not wanting to be a “wife”.

Greg was sensitive to my uneasiness, and he began to call me his “partner”…. And this made me feel better. I didn’t have a clue on how to be a “good wife”….. but I could understand how to be a “good partner”… and this made me feel equal to him in our relationship. We BOTH go out for coffee Saturday mornings!

I know this was just my problem with a word definition, so I can empathize with those who have a problem with the definition of “marriage”. My reply to that is…. There still can be a distinction between a legal civil marriage and a church/God-union marriage. Churches don’t have to agree to marry gay couples unless they choose.

I think marriage is already a word that has many different nuances. For example there already are such a wide variety of marriages out there in the world: marriage of convenience, married in name only, loveless marriage, open marriage, commuter marriage, sex-less marriage, traditional marriage, May to December marriage, married for money, loving marriage, on again off again marriage, second marriage, third marriage….etc….. you get the picture. Don’t you think we can expand the definition of marriage just a bit more to include “gay marriage” into this evolving culture of ours?...... (remember not that long ago women and black people were thought of as just property with no rights to own land or vote, and Bible scripture supported that too!)

Lastly, a special shout out to my church friend *Ted who’s passion for gay rights is inspirational. I chuckle every time I remember when I made Ted’s jaw drop…. I told him I was a bi-sexual……. Huh? …… “Yes”, I explained, “I love both straight and gay men!”..... Ted got a kick out of that for sure.

A shout to Pastor Kimby for teaching us another way to view the Bible..... and
Also a shout out to my friends David and James who reminded me of the Iowa state motto this weekend in an email…..

That says it all! But if you want to read more- check out this…..

*Ted is (church going, spiritual, humorous, generous, straight guy, with a lesbian daughter, who happens to be a Republican)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Come creative spirit, come

I’ve pushed you aside
I hope you are still waiting for me.

Come creative spirit, come

Have you been patient with me?
As ordinary life has made its demands on me.

Come creative spirit, come

Is now the right time to plan our tryst,
Can we steal away tonight?

Come creative spirit, come

How I dream of your embrace,
The swirl of energy I feel when you are near.

Come creative spirit, come

Know that I am longing for you,
And in desperation, I will find my way back to you… in time.

Come creative spirit, come.

At last! …. There you are!
Welcome back….. if only for this brief kiss.

-Judy Sebern Beachy 4-2009

Friday, April 3, 2009

Ordinary time

4-3-09 uninspired and "waiting" brain
I'm been feeling stuck in ordinary time. I want to be creative again, but I haven't given myself anytime to get reconnected with that part of myself.

For instance, I don't feel like blogging today. Nothing much to say at this time.... so I'll post some past "art" and hope it reconnects me with my creative spirit soon.

This is a pastel painting I did of a friend, Karin. I've only done a few paintings of people. I don't like drawing people.... it's hard and takes a lot of practice to get people to really look accurate. What inspired me to attempt this drawing was a special moment, and I wanted to capture it for myself.

Greg and I were taking a "winter" get away trip in late January... a few years ago.....something we rarely get to do that time of the year. We went to visit Karin and her husband Mike in Arizona. However, I arrived off the plane SICK! I spent most of the visit in bed with the flu. Just before the trip ended, I did manage to get up from bed for a drive to Jerome, Arizona just north of Phoenix. It's a small mining town of old.... now evolving into an artist community to some degree. The town sits on the side of a small mountain and at the very top of the town, was this old hospital, now converted into a restaurant.

After being sick in bed for 3-4 days and now returning to the living; sitting and relaxing with good friends, enjoying the view out the window, eating some great food..... it was a magical moment for me. I was struck my the sunlight coming in through the window and the impression of Karin gazing out the window.... I insisted that I needed to take a picture of her since it captured perfectly a moment in a poem I had written recently.

"Unordinary Time"

That brief moment of inspiration.
The sky opens up
The light shines in unexpected,

Life is different,
I am different.
Connected to everything,

I hear myself exclaim “yes!”
There is great understanding
There is revelation,

Or is it insanity- sheer madness?
Will they laugh at me?
Snicker behind my back,

The light begins to dim
They see differently than I
They force me back,

A return to ordinary time
Me just sitting here drinking coffee,
Wondering where my mind had wandered,

Judy Sebern Beachy

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Living in the moment

4-2-09 focusing brain (Happy Birthday Dad and Mil!)

Dark, silent, alone.... my brain began to race..... thinking of all that I needed to do the next day, wondering why I was living this split in two life...... It was in the middle of the night, last week, and I was experiencing one of those nights where my sleep was disrupted. My healing dream state was replaced by worry and an overly active brain. I tried to focus on my breathing and to relax in the moment.

This poem/prayer was sitting on my bed table in the book I have reference before: "100 Graces, mealtime Blessings" by Marcia & Jack Kelly. This was a good reminder for the need to stay focused, present and living in the moment.

I was regretting the past and fearing the future.
Suddenly God was speaking.
My name is I AM

I waited.
God continued,
When you live in the past, with its mistake and regrets,
It is hard.
I am not there.
My name is not I WAS

When you live in the future, with its problems and fears,
It is hard.
I am not there.
My name is not I WILL BE.

When you live in this moment,
It is not hard.
I am here.
My name is I AM

From Helen Mellicost
(on the kitchen wall of the Ranch Guesthouse, St Benedict’s Monastery, Snowmass, Colorado)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A special Wednesday

4-1-09 comic brain

This last weekend, the snow in KC was some of the best snowman making snow that I have seen in a long time! I had built a wonderful one in five sections which stood over 6 foot, but sadly it fell over forwards before I could finish…. So with modification, parts of him became the feet of my 2nd attempt and I created a "sitting man".

Any resemblance to my father is strictly a coincidence. That's a smile without teeth, not a mustache.

April Fools”!