Random words of gratitude and reflection on Thanksgiving day 2015

I am grateful for the many miracles that have brought me safely to where I am now. I am blessed with two lovely daughters and a wonderful husband who are the lights of my life. I am owned by a mini-Panther who bosses me around on a daily basis. We have a comfortable roof over t our heads, cars that work, jobs that matter, and a safe and beautiful area to call home. 

Today, for the first time since we left California, we got to see my family via FaceTime. My darling cousin coordinated it with me, and it was as though we had never left. Nothing  has changed there. The house looked as though we were there yesterday. The people are as we last saw them. My heart is filled with immense gratitude at this unmeasurable, unforeseen, incredible gift.

The only downer was my in-laws, who scowled whenever they weren’t on camera during the chat. They don’t agree that it is best to be grateful for what we have. Instead, they choose to be resentful for what they perceive they deserve. That is why we do not live near them, do not visit except as a preventive measure, this time allowing 5 days instead of subjecting the children to 2 weeks.  They insist that we go shopping tomorrow, despite all four of us asserting that we loathe Black Friday and everything that goes with it. I will go, if for no other reason than to protect my children from the abuse that will cause cause panic attacks in both children. 

Don’t get me wrong– I appreciate that they drove a long way to visit us. But since they arrived, they have done nothing to accept our way of life, as out of step as it is with their materialistic, superficial world. They have been critical of both children and of me, asking rude questions to find out how much money I make, why I work hard, why my children weigh too much/ little (depending on the child — and both are perfect according to their doctor), why they children wear the sizes they do (because that’s what fits, hello), and why we choose to live simply. That’s our business, last time I checked.
But for the record, it’s because we are grateful for all that we have been given.

1 Comment

Posted by on 11/26/2015 in Motivation


Hoping for the best…

The family member who had hurt my children and me so badly is coming to visit this week. I can tell that I’m apprehensive because my back is tense and my neck hurts. We have all promised that no one will be left alone with this person. Period. But I know that situations happen. I have one child who is somewhat excited and one who is having mini panic attacks. Me? I’m strong again and feel confident about handling adversity.


My husband and I are working to focus on the positive aspects of the situation. Today we cleaned the cars and all enjoyed the feeling of being in a clean vehicle (trust me, that doesn’t happen all that often). The house is mostly clean, and we have new shows to binge-watch on Netflix. Most importantly: This person is not staying at our house. It’s too small for guests, darn the luck.

We are going to make a couple of people happy to be with us at Thanksgiving, and that’s important. We have the support of many friends loved ones, and professionals (if need be) who know the truth of the situation. And we have each other, united and strong.

We have everything we need, even if we don’t have all that we want. And we have hope and

Leave a comment

Posted by on 11/22/2015 in Growth, Motivation


Tags: , , , ,

Peaceful strength

Tonight, as I was chatting with my mom on the phone, she asked, as she always does, “What’s new?” I found that I had nothing much to say. The kids are fine. The husband’s fine. I’m fine. But in some intangible way, everything is different.

And then I read other blogs and scanned my Twitter feed and remembered why.

Our world turned upside down on Friday night. No longer is Paris the place of romance and magic. What happened is beyond words, in the place where bewilderment and confusion resides. That place where the nightmares live, when I know I’m dreaming because nothing makes sense. How could this have happened? Who would do such a thing?

One of the tweets I read resonated: “Violence in the name of Islam is not religion. Violence is its own religion.”

This violence has nothing to do with our Muslim brothers and sisters, any more than the Spanish Inquisition was truly representative of Catholics. This is about the presence of evil in our world. As much as our knee-jerk reaction is anger, the response cannot involve more violence. However, these perpetrators will not respect peace or allow a peaceful resolution. Like the schoolyard bully, if you fight back, you became as bad as they are. If you don’t fight back, you are weak and the bullying continues, often becoming worse.

So what is the answer? That is where I don’t know the answer. All I know is that whatever the response is, it must involve a display of strength and unity.

I draw on an occurrence from my own world this past week, during which I had a student who demanded that, despite not following the established rules in my classroom, said student be given a chance to make up missed work. I held my ground, displaying only patience and professionalism while the student sent emails that become increasingly agitated, aggressive, and demanding in nature. In the past, I might have considered giving in or trying to talk the student down. However, something about the tone of the emails made me concerned for the integrity of the learning environment. Instead, my colleague and I decided that the behavior should be reported as a conduct violation and handled by the appropriate authorities. I chose to display peaceful strength and to trust that my colleagues would support me (which they did). Is the situation over? I doubt it, but I trust my colleagues to do their jobs in maintaining a peaceful environment in which bullying is simply not tolerated.

In our world, we need to establish a no tolerance for bullying policy to combat terrorism. Although my expression of such a policy is overly simplistic, I think that we, as human beings, can possibly develop a universal definition, and then a policy. If we could agree that bullying of any sort — on the playground or on a national scale — is simply unacceptable and then agree to a united response that is both strong and peaceful, then we might have a chance to curb these unspeakable evils.



Leave a comment

Posted by on 11/15/2015 in Motivation


Judgment Day


Yet more proof that life is shaped by our perceptions of it. I found it interesting to watch first without sound and to try guessing which portrait belonged to which version of the story about Michael.

What a profound and interesting story about how the same elements of reality are shaped by our interpretation of it!

Originally posted on Live & Learn:

Six photographers.
1 man.

Each photographer is asked to photograph “Michael”.

Each photographer is shared a unique perspective on Michael.

One is told that Michael is a self-made millionaire.
Another, is told Michael has saved someone’s life.
Another, is told Michael is a commercial fisherman.
Another, is told that Michael is a Psychic.
Another, is told that Michael is an ex-inmate.
Another, is told that Michael is a former alcoholic.

Watch the outcome…

View original

Leave a comment

Posted by on 11/09/2015 in Motivation


The gift of depression

I see articles about and calls for attention to mental health on my Facebook feed nearly every day. I truly understand and agree with these because I have clinical depression, which is very much not simply being sad. I am not a sad person by nature — in fact, most people would tell you that I’m quite the opposite. I’m the one who looks for the silver lining in any situation and can cheer even the most dyslexic student through accounting class (wanna talk about a challenge?), so having a friend reflect to me, many years ago, that I needed to be evaluated for depression was a shock. It’s a fact nonetheless, and I’m handling it like any other chronic ailment: Celebrate the good days, hang on through the not-so-good ones, and do what my doctor has ordered.

Over the years I’ve wondered why I agreed, somewhere in the ether before I was born, to have depression as part of this life. Where is the good in it? Sure, it makes me compassionate for other people who walk a similar path, but that couldn’t be the only reason– I just knew it.

The reason for the gift appeared yesterday, when my older daughter told me that a friend of hers reflected that she has been really depressed for quite a while. I’ve seen the signs in her: withdrawal from events that she has previously enjoyed, sleeping a lot, eating a bit more than usual, etc. I chalked most of that up to her being almost 13 years old. I’ve never raised a teenage girl before, so what do I know about it? She went through the horrible events of last Christmas that caused all four of us to have PTSD, and she’s got a counselor helping her with it. But of the four of us, she’s the only one who hasn’t shown signs of healing. In fact, if anything, she has become weaker, more emotionally fragile, which manifests as crying at the drop of a hat and saying that she is overwhelmed far sooner than I would expect her to be.

Yesterday, when she told me about her friend’s reflection while we were driving home, I suddenly realized why I have this mixed blessing: She needs me to understand her. In the moment she said something, I pulled off the road so I could pay complete attention to her, which really surprised her (I’ve never done that unless she was in trouble). Instead, I sat and held her hand and called her doctor immediately — not because I fear she will hurt herself, but because I know the signs and feel that a medical discussion is in order now. She clung to me most of the evening because she knew I understood. I mentioned to her younger sister what was happening, and my 11-year old amazed me. She immediately reached out to her sister and hugged her, telling her that she also understood and that things were going to get better. It was a shame that my husband didn’t get to witness that scene, as he had stepped away for a few minutes, but it was extraordinary and beautiful. Although she is not out of the proverbial woods by any means yet, some part of her knows that she is heard and that she will get the help she needs. She now has hope where once was only fear.

If nothing else, knowing that I helped my own precious child because of my weakness-born compassion makes all the not-so-good  days worthwhile.

Sweet, strong one

Leave a comment

Posted by on 10/29/2015 in Motivation


…and one day later

Yesterday was apple-picking day here. We headed out to the local orchard, grabbed a couple of wagons and half-bushel bags, and received the super-secret directions from the owners about where the unpicked trees were. I managed to grab a couple of pictures while we were there. The trees were at the absolute peak of their fall glory, and the wind that blew across the hillside smelled of snow headed our way. It was glorious, and I found that there is something very spiritually satisfying to hand-pick fruit that I will help preserve for my family’s enjoyment this winter.


…and one day later, we woke up to a hard frost. It was 25 degrees this morning, and we had to de-ice the windshield before we left for church. The fields around the house were frosted in white, and a wind had come through and had blown many of the leaves from the trees. After our church service was concluded, a sudden cry resounded among the children: “SNOW!”

Ok, it’s October 18. This is the  earliest that I have witnessed snow at this low altitude, but the white stuff was indeed flying. Granted, it is too warm for it to stick, but there it was nonetheless. The following picture doesn’t capture the snow well, but the white flecks and haze in the air is a snow squall in progress.


It is nature’s way of warning us that, in the words of the current meme, “winter is coming.” Now that we have our apples and the house is nearly sealed up for the year, we’re ready.

1 Comment

Posted by on 10/18/2015 in Motivation


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Heaven is alive with color

I am a firm believer in heaven. I do not, however,  think that it is somehow “out there,” or above us. My favorite quote about heaven is from the Gospel of Thomas:

The kingdom of heaven is within you and all around you.”

I much prefer this interpretation because it implies that all we need to do to find heaven is to be aware of its presence. We need to find that stillness within that allows us to find the Divine within us and seek its presence around us. Most of all, we need to be able to appreciate it when we find it because it can slip through our fingers if we’re too busy with the minutiae of life.

Today was a day when heaven proclaimed it’s presence in bright colors. The leaves have very nearly reached their peak seasonal colors and trees are ablaze in reds and golds. In one place, a large group of coniferous trees exist, and a surprising splash of bright red leaves peeks through like a half-remembered dream: blink and you may miss its presence.

This is the time when the Creator takes out the heavenly paint kit


and decorates the world, shouting His presence and love to all who will listen. Can you hear it?

1 Comment

Posted by on 10/10/2015 in Motivation


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 128 other followers