Dec 28, 2016

Support and Resistance.

For several years now I have had a burning curiosity about the stock market. No one has really had the time or the patience to sit down and explain and answer all my questions about it so I have gathered bits of information here and there. With the help of my father I purchased some shares of Merck and GE last year. As soon as they went above what I bought them for I sold them. Chicken out, much?

Ever since my divorce I have had a chunk of money that has needed some attention and for about 4 months now I have been making and canceling appointments with Rob at Schwab. Yes, I am thrilled beyond words that Rob and Schwab rhyme. It is the little things that delight me.

Finally, last Friday nothing interfered and I was able to keep my appointment with him. It was a rainy, gray day and my appointment was in Eugene at 10:00. Last time I met with Rob at Schwab we transferred money from some TIAA/CREF accounts into my Schwab account. But we just left it all sitting there because it would take more time than we had at that appointment to allocate it. As you all know ever since November 8th the markets have been doing nothing but going up in a weird unsupported sort of way. So the minute I sat down with Rob he started a discussion about this and about how it made him feel nervous about how fast 20,000 was approaching. It is fascinating to me to attempt to understand how much affects the price of a share of a company. I naively thought we would do some divvying up and spreading out and call it a day. But Rob (at Schwab) suggested just taking a small amount and placing it in an intelligent portfolio (the opposite of a dumb portfolio). He suggested waiting on allocating the rest of the money until February when reality may have started to settle in and the picture will be clearer. The stock market is riding on hope right now. I totally understand riding on hope I have been known to ride on hope myself. You know when you are sure change is coming, it is exciting, you are happy, and it is so welcome. Your life feels light and it is exactly like you are walking on sunshine (yes, I just quoted a song. Thanks for noticing.) I am in the process of crashing from hope so maybe the stock market will be heading down as well.

The more Rob from Schwab explained the stock market to me the more I realized the stock market is a lot like my life. I guess I had so many questions and was such a well behaved audience that he could not resist educating me more. I deeply appreciated it and cannot stop thinking about what I learned.

First he pulled up AT&T's portfolio on his computer and found a graph that gave me an overview of what their stock had been doing over the last year, He used his mouse to draw some lines on the graph in various places. Some of the the lines were marking the tops of mountains and some were marking dips. He explained to me that the tops of the mountains were called resistance and the dips were affectionately referred to as support. The stock would head down to a certain predetermined level, stop, and then turn around to get a running start back up to possibly find a new resistance point. When the stock gets to that low point that is a good time to purchase some. Sometimes the stock price would break through to make a new resistance level and sometimes it did not. Regardless the stock would predictably head back down to its support level before it tried again. If you know it is going to do this you do not have fear when you are investing.

I had just spent an entire semester studying Costco so I asked him to show me the support and resistance for Costco's stock so we switched to their graph and it was so interesting to be able to see what Costco stock had done in the past three years. I began to understand that up and down was healthy and you want to see that happening. I did not really understand that when I owned my Merck and my GE, which I sort of wish I still owned at this moment. Yes, you were right I was wrong.

If I could pull up a graph of the last three years of my life you would easily see my support level and the places where I took a running start to attempt to break through some resistance and make a change. Sometimes I broke through my resistance level and set a new high but other times I did not. I have definitely broken through to new levels as I have started school. But when it comes to relationships I seem to not be able to figure out what it takes to break through the resistance. You would be able to see the divorce crash of 2013. You would see the spikes when I got A's in school or met someone who appeared to think I was worth the time. You would undoubtedly see when I ate Reeses. When I saw a great view. When I did something wrong. Yeah, you would see it all. But the question is would you feel like it was worth it to buy shares in my life? And when would you sell?

I guess a healthy life has dips and mountains just like a healthy stock. Life steadily but slowly with lots of support and good reasons usually works its way up. Since January 2015 Costco's support is in the $140.00 dollar range and their resistance level has been around $169.00. Before that it's resistance level was around $110.00. So if you bought Costco stock years ago and was patient just imagine. It appears to be the same with life.  so the earlier you invest in me the better? Ugh, that means it is too late.

Dec 27, 2016

Make Good Choices.

I am not sure why it started or even when it started but for quite awhile now I have found myself regularly advising people to "Make good choices." It just comes out of my mouth naturally as a part of any goodbye routine. I say it to kids getting off of the bus. I say it to my co-workers. I say it to friends. I may have even said it to a squirrel who was thinking about crossing in front of my car one day.

I have noticed that my daughter Madeline says it to me when we are closing phone conversations and I have wondered to myself, "Did I get it from her?" A little while ago I was re-watching the movie Pitch Perfect and the character Becca said to another character, "Make good choices." I wondered to myself, "Is this where I got it from?" Have I been quoting a movie and did not know it?

Do I really know what it means as I flippantly say it to almost everyone? And even worse do I practice what I preach? Do I make good choices? A choice is "an alternative, option, or a preference," all words that suggest the power of choosing. I like the idea of choosing being a power. What if my super power was to make good choices? What kind of life would that be? At this very moment when I have so many choices swirling all around me I am really liking the idea of being "Choose The Right Girl." Definitely emerald green leggings, skirt and cape for my superhero costume...did I come up with that outfit too fast? Would it be too much to ask to be able to fly and make good choices? Then I could get to my good choices faster :) Are there any drawbacks to having the power to know that the choice you are making is the right one?

I have a talent for making bad choices. I know I would not be who I am without those bad choices. Every time I wrestle through one I come out on the other side a better person. They have undoubtedly taught me more than good choices and smooth sailing ever could have but I still long for the ability to make just one good choice. Just to know what it feels like.

Just for fun I made the choice to google, "how do you make good choices" and without even having to click on any link the most amazing list appeared from the Frank Sonnenberg online blog. Seven steps to making a good choice:

#1.  Manage the big stuff
#2.  Values Matter
#3.  Learn from the past
#4.  Know what you know and what you don't know.
#5.  Keep the right perspective.
#6.  Don't Procrastinate
#7   Once you make a choice do not look back and make it work.

I should have known there would be a list out there. Seeing the steps all written out is strangely comforting. "Good choices keep you heading in the direction you want to be going. Bad choices are counter-productive and quickly can make you feel despair, stress and confusion." The minute I read this definition I realized I have been making bad choices. I keep having hope that these choices will head me in the direction I want to go but it is time to admit they are never going to move anywhere and I need to abandon them.

Maybe I want my super power to be not looking back. "Not Looking Back girl." Oh man now I have to make a choice.

Dec 21, 2016

Hiking the Dungeness Spit.

I knew when I woke up this morning and opened the blinds in my little cottage that I am staying in that I needed to do something ambitious with my day. The water and the mountains were definitely calling my name. I am embarrassed to say that I brought my textbooks for next semester with me on my little "get away." Not only that, I had plans to organize the songs I am teaching to my Primary kids for the entire next year (yeah, a whole year). I do know how to vacation don't I? :)  But don't be too hard on me because I grabbed my bag of clementines, bunch of bananas, wallet, scarf, hat and gloves and headed out. left the textbooks in my cottage.

In a folder in the cottage I am staying in there is a list of outdoor things to do on the Olympic Peninsula. I have stared longingly at the description of the Dungeness Spit the last two times I stayed here and it was finally time to act. 

I do love records, so the minute I found out the Dungeness Spit was the longest, natural, sand spit in the United States I knew I had to check it out. But there are some logistics involved in hiking this sand spit. The tide has to be low or on its way to low. I knew when I went to bed last night that high tide would be at 9 in the morning and low tide would not be until 4 in the afternoon. And even at that low tide was not really going to be that fabulous of a low tide. I also had the small problem that I am the sort of girl that gets up early and goes. I am not the sort of girl who waits around....not even for tides. I told myself I would head towards Dungeness Spit but I could just drive by and head out to the Cape Flattery hike again or follow highway 101 until it ended in LaPush. You know, do something until the tide was low enough for me to check out the Dungeness Spit. As I got closer to Sequim (don't you dare pronounce the e in Sequim. It is pronounced Squim) I could not resist and I set the Google map app on my phone up to take me to Dungeness Spit. But the app conspired against me and directed me to another sand spit so I figured it was a sign. This impostor sand pit was not a complete waste of time because there was the most amazingly huge barge stacked with containers heading out to sea down the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I watched it for awhile. But then I decided to head to LaPush on Highway 101. I got just outside of Port Angeles and turned around. I am not really sure why but I did.

This time I found the Dungeness Spit without using my Google maps app. I just deduced where it would be and voila. Something I never do. I was very excited to check this place out. You have to pay $3.00 to hike out to the sand spit and all I had was a $50 and there was no one there to give change so I scrounged in my change drawer in my car and found $3.00. The trail was empty, well maintained, and surrounded by woods. I did my best to not think about meeting Bigfoot, or the wolves and vampires from Twilight and headed bravely down the trail, alone. At the edge of the woods the trail goes down a hill to get you down to the sand spit. Are you wondering if sand spits? yeah, Why do they call it a spit? Does sand spit? This sand spit is 5.2 miles long so the sand spit more than it should have. I had to know so I looked it up and a spit is a land form, It is a "deposition bar or beach land form found off coasts or lake shores. It develops in places where re-entrance occurs, such as at a cove's headlands, by the process of long shore drift by long shore currents. ... These currents are caused by the same waves that cause the drift." Whew, did you get that?

As I came down the trail I had no idea what I would see when I first got a glimpse of the Stait of Juan de Fuca. There was a little platform and when you walked to the edge of it you could see this strip of sand going, going, going out into the water. It really was amazing. 

When I got to the bottom of the hill there was a ranger there and she was giving instructions. Waves were relentlessly crashing on the left side of the spit and the right side was calm...it was like being in the middle of a split personality. The wind was fiercely blowing. The waves were big. The spit was littered with driftwood. Not just small pieces of wood. Enormous trees just tossed year after year on this sand spit all 5 miles of it. Walking on the side without waves was the obvious choice to me but the ranger crushed my dreams when she said the calm side was for the birds (lucky birds) and people had to walk on the wave side. I asked a few more times to be sure I had heard her. She did not even flinch when she advised me to be careful of the waves and to remember that sometimes the driftwood can appear stable but it could have water under it and may not be stable. What? I was not turning back now so I smiled at her and headed off. The wind whipped my scarf out to the side of me. The waves raced right up to the edge of the driftwood and every 50 feet or so there was a metal post with a sign posted reminding me that I could not cross the line onto the bird side. I confess, I stepped behind the sign a few times. I would be walking on the logs, avoiding the waves, climbing over the logs and I would look up and realize that I was on the wrong side of the signs. I am a rule follower. I would furtively look around to see if anyone saw me but not many people think that hiking the Dungeness Spit on the 20th of December is a great idea so I was alone in the knowledge of my crime. I finally stopped and looked back and was overwhelmed at the view. The Olympic Mountains were looming with snow on them. The water was this amazing green color but where the waves were breaking it was brown and muddy. The contrast between the colors was very cool. The wind was taking the spray from the ocean and the foam from the waves and flinging it everywhere. It was exhilarating. The spit seemed to stretch on forever. But I decided I was going to the end to the lighthouse I could see way out in the distance. I had to. It was slow going. Around, over, walking along logs. All of a sudden I found myself facing a  row of signs telling me I could not go any further..... you know, the birds. Not going to lie. I would have kept going but I was okay with turning back. When I got back to the trail going into the woods I stopped and read the sign about the trail and saw that from October until March you cannot hike all the way to the lighthouse.

I will be back. I have to hike to the end. But maybe I will think about another month when it does not get dark around low tide. But don't get your hopes up.

Dec 18, 2016

Reflection

Captains Log
Star date December 18, 2016
10:52 AM


My first semester of being back at college is over.
My girls are gone for five days to be with their dad in Utah.
Holiday Season
I have nothing to do?

I am sitting in my cozy bed in my church clothes waiting for the appropriate time to leave for church and I realized I could blog. Actually, I should blog just in case posterity ever wonders what I could possibly been thinking when I made the choices I am bound to make. The sun is reflecting off of the water drops on the trees outside so the day looks sparkly. And I am sitting here doing some reflecting of my own. Nothing sparkly, just some good old fashioned pondering and meditating.

I am reflecting on this first semester of online classes that I just completed. I got A's in both my classes. One teacher had no problem handing A's to me like candy. He seemed to just be grateful that I did the work. Which made me sad for his life. My other teacher was very hard on me and I learned an enormous amount from her because of this. She refined my writing. I grumbled about her all semester. I shed tears. I agonized. When she actually gave me A's I wondered if she had just given up fighting with me. She insisted that I figure out how to say things in a concise manner. Yeah, we all know that there is nothing concise about me. She never really "got" me. She seemed to be relentlessly hunting for those of us on the planet who use smiley faces after every sentence. She considered it her job to give us a reality check. She never reviewed my work without adding in her comments "less words," not:

"Could you please use less words?"
"It would make me eternally happy if you would use less words."
"Jennifer, using less words could make your life better."

 Just a cold, heartless "less words."

 I refrained from telling her I talked early and profusely and did not know a single thing about the word "less." The A's I got from her are treasures to me and they came more and more often as I figured out how to play her game. Yeah, talkative but smart am I.

I learned so many things this semester about myself and about learning. I learned that I love to use adverbs. I learned that semi colons and colons are tough customers. I learned I have high expectations. (that is a whole other blog.)

I am also reflecting on being alone. My two girls left for Utah on Friday and will be gone for 6 days and it is the weirdest feeling in the world. I realized that very soon this will be my life. Can I handle alone? It was so weird to go from having 7 kids and a spouse. To walking into the ward Christmas party all alone. Realizing you have no one to sit by. Realizing everyone else at least has a spouse or someone they came with. Realizing you need to be a big girl. And worst of all realizing that there may have been someone in your past that felt exactly the same way and you did not not know it and did not reach out to them.

I am reflecting on what I want to do with my life. Both of my classes required me to write a personal mission statement, a resume, a cover letter, a request for a letter of recommendation, goals, lists of how I could advance in my career. It was a lot of reflecting and a lot of reality. Reality and I never really understood each other.

Here is my personal mission statement I finally ended up submitting in both my classes. If I post it then you can all call me out on my moments off of the path. And my posterity can decide if it truly was my mission statement. Be sure to notice I squeezed a smiley face into my Personal Mission Statement. My B320 teacher had given up at this point and did not mention it.



Alice came to a crossroads in the woods and she asks the Cheshire cat which way she ought to go from there and he tells her that it depends on where she wants to go. She tells him that she does not care much where she goes. The cat informs her that it does not matter much which way she goes then. I am determined to care where I go so that when those crossroads appear I have a clear idea of which road I want to take.
A simple modest house of my own close to water, views, and hiking, with land to garden on, bookshelves, and a hammock is something I want to accomplish. I long for a job with a school district so that I have summers off to travel and visit friends and family.
·         Doing hard things with diligence and integrity
·         Being genuine and focused
·         Being the same on the outside as I am on the inside.
·         Having courage to do hard things
·         Being grateful

Are all characteristics I am struggling to grow as I pray, study, and make sticker chartsJ


My relationships are a priority to me and this priority drives my actions. My belief in an eternal life after this life with my Heavenly Father drives my behavior. 

I noticed my personal mission statement was a little bit different from my classmates statements but I did not fret about it I mean it is personal, right?

To top it all off this is the time of year that we all naturally reflect. We are almost to the end of another 365 day cycle in our lives and about to begin another one. What can we do different? I am trying to embrace the reflecting and hope it just improves my situation and determination to figure out my Plan B.


Nov 20, 2016

Listen To Me.

I have a very dear friend who spends an enormous amount of time accusing me of not listening. Usually when this friend decides to accuse me of not listening I simply do not listen. Sometimes I laugh it off. Sometimes I quickly agree with him to get him off the topic. But for some reason the other day when he for the gazillion-th time accused me of not listening, something happened, I suddenly found myself deeply concerned about this idea that I do not listen. I realized I needed to figure out if it is true because I honestly thought I was a good listener.

So I found a quiet spot, sat down with myself, and searched every corner of my brain for the truth, Am I truly a bad listener? No one wants to be labeled as a bad listener. No one goes to a dinner party and brags to his friends, "Yeah, I have some pretty bad listening skills."

Has being interrupted and distracted constantly for the last twenty five years as a mother of seven kids caused this? Did I listen when I was born? Did I listen when I was a teenager? What does it mean to listen? Who even listens anymore? It takes so much time and sacrifice to be a good listener.

I decided that the next step in figuring out if the accusation was true or not was to remember a moment when I knew I was being listened to, so that I was sure I understood what listening was. You know when you are in the presence of a good listener because:

 They sit down with you and look at you.
 They do not check their watch
 They do not check their phone
 They do not turn to look at other noises in the room
 They ask you questions,
 They never act like time matters
 The television is never on,
 They clear their brain and are seriously focused on you.

 Not many people have time for all that but when you meet someone who does it it makes an amazing difference in your life. I love that feeling when you are with someone who is a good listener they make you feel special and important and who does not appreciate that feeling?

You know I googled, "What is a good listener?" I knew Google would not let me down. In the results I saw an article published in the Huffington Post called, "9 Things Good Listeners Do Differently." I immediately clicked on the link and read every word. The article listed nine things a good listener does and here they are:

1. They are present.                              Need to work on this one.
2. They are empathetic.                        Got this one.
3. They realize their shortcomings.        I find new ones daily.
4. They have an open mind.                  I think it is open until I realize it is not.
5. They are emotionally intelligent.       I wish
6. They pose significant questions.        I do not have a problem with asking questions as you all                                                                  know.
7. They are not on the defensive.           I am not a bad listener :)
8. They are okay with being uncomfortable. I think my whole life is uncomfortable.
9. They are good leaders.                      I adore following.

As I have pondered and pondered on this topic I wondered if what this friend meant to say to me was that I am not a good remember-er? Because that is true. I often have a hard time remembering which may cause you to think I did not listen.

Or maybe because I am not very good at completely agreeing with everything he says he thinks I am not a good listener? :)

Maybe it is that I have this annoying habit of asking you about something we talked about earlier even though I already know your answer. My own father calls me out on this habit I have often.

Sometimes I want to have the conversation again.....yeah, I may or may not have issues :)
Sometimes, I just want to confirm I heard it right. I guess it could be called double checking?
Or maybe I am trying to show you that I do listen by bringing it up again and you think it means I did not listen?

I have been known to listen to my music loud does that count as listening? :) It embarrasses my children immensely. They get in the car and quickly turn it down exclaiming, "Mom, you can hear the music outside." I just like to feel it all around me.

The 14 year old tells me at least 100 times a day that I do not listen but what she means to say is that I am not responding to her requests the way she wants me to so her opinion does not count :)

The kids on my bus wish I did not listen so well. Last Friday I heard a kid say a word that it is not okay to say on my bus and I made him come and sit by me and as he plopped himself in the seat behind me he grumpily asked me why I listen.

Not to brag but my listening skills have helped me catch teenagers trying to sneak out of the house.

So I have decided I am not the best listener and this friend may be right. Being still and focused is sometimes hard for me. My brain is always moving. So I am adding to my "Making Jennifer Great" list:
Being still,
Being in the moment
and not thinking ahead.
Oh yeah, and listening.

Aug 16, 2016

Making It Fit.

Have you ever been shopping for shoes? My whole life shoe shopping has been a challenge. My feet are little, I actually wear a kid size shoe. It is extremely difficult for me to find grownup looking shoes in my size. When I was a teenager I would regularly buy shoes that did not fit me, they would be so pretty and I would want them so badly that I would just convince myself that they fit me even though they really didn't. My deep dark secret is that I would stuff the toes of these shoes with enormous amounts of Kleenex or toilet paper to make them fit me. It really was not comfortable but I did not care. Even though the truth was staring me in the face I would ignore it and convince myself I could make these shoes work.

Maybe it was after one too many people saw the wad of Kleenex in the toe of my shoe? Maybe I finally got tired of uncomfortably walking in shoes that flopped? I am just not sure when I stopped buying shoes that did not fit me but eventually I did. I had to embrace my true shoe size and just be happy with what I could find in my size that looked close enough to grown up....you know, avoiding flashing lights, neon colors, Dora, or Velcro. 

There is this fabulous shoe store in Eugene called Burch's. The shoes in this store are truly beautiful. Every time I go in the store I head for the smallest size in women's and stare longingly at the amazing shoes that I know would make all my dreams come true. I always try them on hoping they may fit, but they never, ever, ever do and after about ten minutes of diligently trying to convince myself that they fit I dejectedly head over to the kid section to find size 3 shoes for me. So many times I have had to leave a pair of shoes on the shelf that I am sure would change my life if they only fit.

What about puzzles? I can vividly remember times in my life when I have been working on a puzzle  and I find a piece that has all the right colors and shapes to match the surrounding pieces. I put the piece in it's spot fully expecting the satisfying feeling that comes from a perfect fit but something just does not seem right and inevitably someone doing the puzzle with me will doubtfully say "I don't think that fits there." I will ask back, "Are you sure?" I will give it few confident pushes and wiggles to show that I am confident with my decision. But then they try another piece there and I see how smoothly it fits and I have to bravely admit, no matter how hard I tried, it did not fit.

Natalie my thirteen year old is growing like crazy right now and every single piece of clothing she puts on does not fit. Every time she comes out of her room I have to say, "Oh honey that does not fit." She looks at me like I am crazy. Then looks down at the high water pants or the tight shirt and looks at me with complete confidence and declare flippantly, "Yes, it does." We see what we want to see.

I was laying in my bed last night thinking about making things fit and how it appears that I am the kind of girl that is always ignoring the fact that something does not fit. (I have no idea where Natalie got it from :) If I really want something to fit whether it is clothes, shoes, or even...gasp... a relationship I will figuratively stuff Kleenex or toilet paper everywhere I can, trying with all my might to make it fit because I really, really, really, really, want it to. I can not tell you how many times I have embarrassed myself fighting for a relationship that I needed to just admit did not fit. Or wearing a dress that was too long or not long enough, or pants that needed a belt. Because I am petite I need to wear things that fit perfectly and yet sometimes I find something in the store that is so not fitting me right but I refuse to see it and decide I can MAKE IT WORK. I am not sure what made me this way but lately I am seeing that this darling tendency I have may someday be the death of me. I need to learn how to stop pushing and wiggling on the piece and just.... let it go and move on. Maybe if I find a mountain with beautifully smooth snow on it and I run up it wearing my cape (that fits) singing at the top of my lungs, "Let it go. Let it go it will help me :)

Aug 14, 2016

Have You Seen My Spark?


So today I was going through my folder of blog drafts that I had not posted and this one caught my eye. I am not sure why I did not post it but when I read it today I realized I needed to post it so do not get to tangled up in the time just sit back and enjoy :)



Cloudy, rainy Saturday morning. I have a pile of homework. I need to get my singing time ready for church tomorrow. I have a list a mile long of things I seem to never be able to catch up on. I have relationships that I can not figure out that are weighing so heavy on me. I have so much on my mind. I need to write and write so I can feel better but how to do that and not freak everyone out with my oversharing, possible complaining, and wondering. So bear with me as I ramble and attempt to help myself to feel better and make sense of things. I need someone to talk to and it is going to have to be handsome, fabulous listener, Mr. Blog.

I spent the day yesterday in Seattle. I have a eency weency, teeny tiny assignment for my 30th class reunion that will be in August and I needed to pick up some things from some class members for it. Since I was already going to be there I scheduled play dates with a few of my favorite Snohomish/high school peeps who had time to play. I was really looking forward to the day.

I left Oregon at 3 in the morning. My alarm rang at 2:40 am and I decided not to think too much about getting ready for my day. I grabbed the first clothes I saw. I put on minimal makeup. Put my hair in a side ponytail. Got a box of granola bars, water bottle, grapes, and headed out. There is something very therapeutic about flying along the freeway in your car in the dark. I did not turn on any music. I just rode in complete silence. I thought and thought about so many things. I tend to imagine that I have always been a "glass overflowing" happy, energized, positive kind of girl. I have been known to unhealthily power through my days without stopping to acknowledge the immense things that are happening around me that could be affecting me....but who doesn't do that? :) I actually did not even realize this was happening until my dear friend Gail came to visit me a few weeks ago. Gail knows me so well and happens to have been through all my huge life events with me. Yeah, lucky her :) Within 12 hours of being back together with me she confidently and correctly declared to me, "Something is wrong. Your spark is gone." A spark by definition, "is a trace of life or vitality." I am confident it makes me who I am. I had not even realized it but as I thought about it I knew she was right. Mr. Spark was gone. I have not given enough credit to all I have been through the past two years and so my spark just left. I have no idea where it has run off to. I wonder if I will recognize it? I wonder if it misses me? How do I get it to come back? These are the things I thought about as I was driving.

It was a gray morning and I love those sort of mornings. The skyline of Seattle always thrills me when I came around the corner on I-5 and see it looming ahead. I immediately pick out the space needle. And I often think about how many times I have rounded that corner. I smile to myself as I realize I am almost always thinking about the same thing. Going to Seattle is my favorite thing but there is a small price to pay for these visits the memories are everywhere, very thick, and tend to make me feel a little melancholy as I drive past places I have met friends or done fun things with my family or friends.

I stopped in Snohomish to pick up a poster from a friend. I was very proud of myself because I used google maps on my phone to find where this friend's parents house was. I felt like quite the tech savvy girl as I figured out how to get the voice on google maps to tell me the directions out loud. Yes, I am bragging :)

Then I worked my way up I-5 towards Camano Island. This is where my dear friend Shelley lives. The views are spectacular and I love to visit Shelley. She and I immediately head out to take an enormous walk whenever I show up....no matter the weather. We catch up. We attempt to solve the worlds problems and we reminisce. We never really have the answers but it is fun to commiserate.

After spending an hour and a half with Shelley I got in my car and headed towards Marysville for lunch with my favorite teacher from high school, Mr. Castro. Mr Castro taught me in jazz and concert choir. He gave me chances like nobody's business and I will always be grateful to him for that. I love to connect with him when I can and I always have a great time learning from him and listening to his experiences.

After lunch I headed out to Monroe to meet Loretta. She was Lorre in high school. We do the same thing Shelley and I do, we walk and talk our guts out. We always meet at Lake Tye in Monroe. Lorre and I both have seven kids so we have a lot to talk about. She and I spent lots of time when we were in our teens talking about how life would surely turn out when we grew up and now we sheepishly smile to each other when we remember those dreams :) The talking and walking is so needed and every time I do this with these friends I feel so overwhelmingly grateful for where they fit in my life and that we have kept in touch and of course wish we lived closer. 

All the reminiscing and talking in one day does tend to wear me out so by the end of the day I feel satisfied but my mind is so full. Verbalizing what is going on in your life. Bringing it up and talking about it makes you think about it more. Which is good but also means it needs to be dealt with. Everyone is dealing with things. Some are better at it than others. Some figure it our sooner than others do. Because I am an over thinker the plan for the dealing part often comes later than sooner.

P.S I did not find my spark on this trip. I hope wherever it is it is safe. It will be such a relief to get it back and be me once again. If you find it please feed it Reeses and give it a hug....I am not much of a hugger that is probably why it left :)

Reunion

You get all sorts of reactions when you declare to someone that you are going to a reunion. For some reason the reactions are most interesting when you admit it is a high school reunion. I know this because my thirtieth high school reunion was this weekend and most people I told I was going have had a pretty intense opinion about whether reunions are a priority or not. Some people think it is living in the past but the past is what made me who I am and I do adore going back to visit it and see if I learned anything :)

A reunion is defined as an "act of uniting again." So when things/people have been apart for a long time and they come back together again it is called a reunion...a gathering after a separation. I spent at least four of my very formative years with these same 300 or so people. Some I was closer with than others. Some I kept in touch with more than others. But no matter that, the truth is that our lives were all tangled together for at least those four years even if it was just a passing smile in the hall or someone loaning you a pencil. We definitely affected each other for good or bad. Most of our identity is forged in high school, it is a most fascinating thing.

Some people love to go to reunions others don't. I have thought about that a few times this weekend as I observed the classmates of mine that did decide to come to the reunion. What made them decide this was a priority? What makes others cringe at the thought and stay away? I go because I love people. I love to see what they have learned and what they have become. I don't care how they look. I don't care if they are successful or not. I just like them. It delights me beyond belief to see them loving to see each other again. If you administered a personality test to people who go to high school reunions would there be a commonality? Some piece that all those people have that makes them value re-connecting at any cost? I wonder if all the people who could not come realize that we all wondered where they were? How they are? And that we genuinely miss seeing them at our reunions?

It is not really possible to get a high school age kid recognize the value of each of these people they are going to school with, individually. And it was simply not possible for all of us to really know each other when we were in high school. It is sad but true. I am so grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with these people and hear about their lives, smile at the mannerisms they have that are still "so them." I felt an overwhelming gratefulness for how kind my classmates are. I saw them all talk to each other, reach out, and laugh about not recognizing each other. I deeply hoped everyone had a good time and got what they hoped they would get out of reuniting.

As I think about the definition of reunion I realized that there are lots of sorts of reunions in our lives. Times when we unite again.
 I have had children leave on missions and be gone for 2 years and then they come back and we reunite.
 I have had old friends come back into my life after years of being apart and we reunite.
 I have given up Reeses and then ....we reunite :)
 I have lost weight and then...we reunite :)
 I had friends I watched years of the television show Survivor with and we used to reunite years after we all moved away.
 What about when I find a missing match to a sock? Yep, reunion.
 I had my darling old college roommates come to Massachusetts a few years ago and we reunited and it was so fun.


 I remember the first time I experienced the joy of reuniting. (You have to have lived awhile to get to the point that you recognize the power of reunion.) I was living in Indiana at the time and my high school choir teacher in Washington was retiring. I had been out of high school 19 years. All of a sudden everyone who was in choir was reconnecting. This retirement was big, we had all been touched by this teacher and his life, we all wanted to acknowledge him. I had been knee deep in raising my seven children and had not had a moment to stop and think about high school, let alone the people who were part of my life then. But before I knew it I was reuniting with friends from choir and my high school choir teacher. All of a sudden there were people back in my life who had known me before I was...gasp... a mom. It was a most surreal feeling to hear what they remembered about me and to ponder on how they had affected my life. I really needed it at this time in my life. It really helped me to get some much needed perspective on who I was and where I was going. I was so grateful.

So in the end even though we know it may not end up to be the best thing we have ever done, going our high school reunion. I it is still so amazing to see what the ending is turning out to be. How can you not want to know what the end is? I loved spending the last two days watching and listening to my old classmates from the class of 1986 form Snohomish high School. To admire what they have become. To marvel at what they are figuring out and how they are learning from hard things in their lives. We are such better versions of ourselves now.


Jul 17, 2016

Personal Narrative

So this week is my last week of my online classes until September. For my last paper I was required to write a personal narrative. This was harder than I thought it would be. I mean I have a lot of experiences that have happened to me that taught me valuable lessons but when it came right down to writing about them I was surprised that most of them I was reluctant to share. Yeah, me reluctant to share? Be sure to make a note of that somewhere. Believe it or not my teacher had to coax me to add more details and dig deeper into the feelings of the experience I chose to write about. When all was said and done it was not my most favorite paper I have written this year but I am still going to post it ...you know for posterity :)


Ever since I moved into my parent’s home nineteen months ago I have been engaged in a mortal battle with the gate at the top of their driveway. This gate is the only entrance into the 6.3 acres my parents own in Cottage Grove, Oregon. This gate diligently protects 18 years of hard work that has created a Garden of Eden, minus the Adam and Eve. It carefully protects pruned fruit trees, multiple weed free vegetable gardens, perfectly trimmed shrubs, exquisitely edged lawns, many varieties of flowers, carefully laid pathways, rock creek beds, and last but not least strawberries, blueberries, and boysenberries. My parents have done it all by themselves, slowly, day after day, year after year, piece by piece; it is a very peaceful and beautiful sight. The neighborhood deer desperately long to partake of it, which is what brings us back to the gate. This gate is what protects those years of hard work from the tame, very entitled, destructive gang of deer.
This gate is not the kind that opens and closes on its own. This gate is not the kind of gate that you drive up to, push buttons, or name drop, and it magically opens. This gate requires diligence from anyone trying to get through it. It is nothing short of a laborious process to open and close this gate. You drive your car to the top of the driveway and no matter what the weather may be, you have to open the car door, get out, and walk to the gate. Then you need to lift up the latch, and separate the two sides of the gate. One part of the gate you can just let go but the other half needs to be set behind the perfectly placed medium sized rock sitting on the edge of the driveway. It is very important to make sure that the gate is resting behind this rock because nothing is more frustrating than getting back in the car all ready to proceed and realize the gate followed you back to the middle of the driveway and is blocking your way. So once you are sure the gate is staying put walk back to the car and drive through. Wait! You are not done yet, stop the car again and go gather the left side of the gate from its spot behind the rock and bring it back to the middle of the driveway. This is the moment where you must carefully search on the ground to find the small inch wide hole in the driveway. This hole is where the long cylindrical metal part of the gate fits. If it is dark outside do not forget to grab your flashlight when you get out of the car otherwise you will never find that darn hole; it blends in perfectly with the gray, gravel driveway. Sometimes there is gravel stuck in the hole preventing you from securing the gate but no matter the obstacle you must make sure the cylindrical metal piece is secure and happy in that hole. Then go get the other half of the gate, bring it to the middle of the driveway, and slide the latch down on the side that is already in place. Now trudge back to the car over the frustrating, medium sized gravel pieces. It is tiring just to write about it let alone do it every single time you leave the house or come to the house.
Sometimes I have teenagers in the car with me that I ask to get out and open the gate. They hate the process just as much as I do. More than I care to admit it is just too much work to assign one of my daughters to do it so I just do it myself. Other times I tell them reassuringly that someday they will be grateful for the gate and the diligence it is teaching them and I make them get out and open it so I don’t have to learn about diligence.
I really do believe that as our lives go on we will look back and realize over and over again all the lessons this gate is teaching us. I roll this thought around in my mind every time I am begrudgingly getting out of the car to open or close it. Even though I am aware that this gate has so many parallels to life I can still be found murmuring, being frustrated, and declaring my eternal hate for it. Diligence is, “Constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken, persistent exertion of body or mind.” This gate definitely involves the words constant, earnest, persistent and exertion. One day I learned what happens when you are doing the opposite of diligence which is known as carelessness. The gate finally got me to pay attention to what it had been trying to teach me.
 A few months ago I managed to talk myself into the okay-ness of leaving the gate open after I drove through in the morning. You see on weekdays I leave home at 6:00 in the morning. I am often running late because of my darling teenage daughter who rides with me. So before I knew it I had convinced myself that soon after I left my early rising, routine loving parents surely walked down the driveway to get their Wall Street Journal, and obviously they closed the gate on their way back.  For a few weeks I lived this luscious dream of carelessness. It was so amazing to just open the gate and drive merrily through without having to stop. No one mentioned what was going on so I figured it was all good.
Then came that seemingly innocent Friday morning that started with my usual routine of not closing the gate. It turns out my parents do not get down the driveway as early I thought they did and the deer had finally figured out the time lapse and sauntered right through. They destroyed flowers, ate the lower branches of fruit trees, frolicked in the garden, and snacked on pretty much everything they could for at least an hour, or two. My vigilant mother never even knew that they were in the yard until she saw them lounging, with incredibly full and content bellies on her perfectly manicured lawn without a care in the world. My poor seventy year old mother had to chase those tame, reluctant to obey deer out of her yard. I felt horrible when I heard the news. I had made my parents think I did not care about their hard work and I caused damage to a lot of their yard. I wished I could take it back. But we all know how well taking things back works out.
I had been trying to call both my parents all that Friday morning and was having no luck. Finally I received a text from my mother declaring in a most direct way that the deer had been in the yard and it was my fault. I quickly called her to find out what had happened and we had a very hard conversation that left me crying like I had not cried in years. In my whole 47 years I had never remembered my mother being so frustrated with me. There I was sitting in the parking lot of my Schwab office in Eugene waiting for my 10:00 appointment with Rob to move some investments around, sobbing and sobbing.
For many days after, “Deer-maggeddon” I had lots of questions and berating thoughts. What was wrong with me? Why did I not want to stop and take the time to do something I knew was important? Why do we resent things that take our time? Why was being diligent so hard? I was most definitely a failure at the diligence/enduring thing. I would have never made a good pioneer. Diligence requires being constant, attentive, and persistent- all three words that never seem describe me no matter how much I want them to. It took something very bad happening to get me to change and now I cheerfully open and close that gate a gazillion times a day as I take my kids places, go to work, go to the store, and the church. It is a very small step for diligence in my life. But I feel so much better doing this the right way. I am so aware that if you want something protected, kept special and safe in this day and age you have to be diligent and never let carelessness creep in. Life is always waiting for you to leave your gate open so that you can be taught.


Jul 10, 2016

Before and After

So for book club a few weeks ago we discussed the book Miss Peregrines's Home For Peculiar Children. In the prologue for the book the author writes this seemingly innocent sentence,

"Then a few years later, when I was fifteen, an extraordinary and terrible thing happened, and there was only Before and After."


The reviewer of our book ended our discussion by bringing up this sentence and we discussed it for a little while. Were there before and after's in our lives? Some defining moment? A line? A change?
My mind has been thinking about this question ever since I left book club. What are the before and after events in my life?

There is definitely a before I had Reeses peanut butter cups and an after I had Reeses.
Before I had my first kiss and after my first kiss.
Before I graduated from high school and after.
Before I was friends with certain people and after.
Before I had fresh asparagus and after.
Before the divorce and after.
Before I had kids and after I had kids.
Before I was a school bus driver and after.
Before I found certain things out and after.
Before I grew my own potatoes and after.
Before I knew about M-80 firecrackers and after.
Before I rode in a BMW over 100 mph and after.
Before I had a child stay in the hospital for a week and after.
Before I got my drivers license and after.
Before I watched Star Trek and after.
Before I knew about Airbnb and after.
Before I read Middlemarch and after.
Before I worked at the circulation desk at the library and after (still sad there is an after to this)
Before I sat around a fire on the beach and after.
Before I found out that I make the same mistakes over and over again and after.


So many before's and after's. I seem to not be able to live anything but before and after. These before and after's always change my life, either for the better or the not so better. Sometimes I am not even sure when they happen which way it will go, sometimes it is up to me how they will go. I have been working for the last few months on a silly goal I have made to memorize a poem. It took awhile to find the perfect poem and trust me I did. It is Invictus by William Ernest Henley and I realized as I just told you a few sentences ago that "sometimes it is up to me how they will go" that this poem goes perfectly with that idea....

Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole
I thank whatever God's may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced or cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
my head is bloody, but unbowed

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
and yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.


I am the captain of my soul. I decide. It is a most laborious process to fight some of the circumstances that grab me and try to control what I will become. I have had many chances to be bitter and resentful and angry but I am the captain of my before and after's :) Not near as eloquent as soul huh? :) I am in the process of assimilating and evaluating several brand spanking new before and after's. I now can add to my list;

Before I was enrolled as a BYUI online student and after.
Before I filled out my own FAFSA form and after.
Before I knew I was a "know it all" and after.
Before I no longer had it all together and after.
Before I could admit I was dramatic and after.
Before I realized I was not a priority to someone and after.
Before I was married and after.
Before my kids were affected by a divorce and after.
Before I had a child who I had not talked to for 2 years and....no after yet.
Before I had three children married and after.


Can you imagine life without the words before and after? It is just not possible. I am sure you got the picture and now you are tormenting yourself with your own endless list of before and after's. You can thank me later :)

I googled before and after images to find a cute little picture to jazz up this post and UGH never google before and after.....everyone on the planet who has lost weight or had braces or some sort of surgery are all in images. I was thinking of something more rainbow and unicorns like :) Seriously, now there is before I googled images "before and after" and after :)

Jul 9, 2016

Take A Chance.

What do you know about chances?

If you have kids, or have even been around kids you have definitely heard, "Can I have just one more chance?"

 I am also fairly confident at one point in your life you have declared to someone, "This is your last chance!"

 I have heard people declare, " I am not going to take that chance."

When you have a job interview you have hope that someone will take a chance on you.

So many times I have wished I knew what my chances were when I started something.

Falling in love is all about taking a chance.

Do you know someone who thinks nothing of taking chances? Are you jealous of them? What happens to them? Is it a good life to be a chance taker?

Is it possible to give someone too many chances?

Sometimes you take a chance and good things happen and sometimes you take a chance and bad things happen but the catch is that you will never know if you do not take that chance.

I have been thinking about chances a lot the last few days. I seem to have a talent for giving lots and lots of chances. I basically hand chances out like they are candy.  I have decided that this is a most serious flaw. I think it is a direct result of having way too much hope... way too much of it. I must think that giving chances automatically means people will change. But life is slowly and painfully teaching me that that is not always the case.

Can you just decide not to give chances anymore and stop?

If you stop giving other people chances does that mean they will stop giving you chances? I wonder if that is the reason I keep giving them. Would it not be horrible to not get anymore chances when you know you are doing your best to be better but you fell short yet again? How long do you wait?

May 22, 2016

Do You Know What You Believe In?

 So every two weeks I get to submit an essay for my English class this semester. This time the topic was to write about something you believe in. Apparently most of us should have had experiences that have made it so we believe in something. I confess that I question whether I have had these experiences because I had the hardest time trying to figure out what I was going to write about. I tried to make a list of things I believed in and the list was fairly dismal....things like:

I believed in facing your fears.
I believed in connecting.
I believe that you are in certain places in your life for a reason.
I believe in being on time.

None of these ideas seemed to be willing to come together on paper for me. I struggled for a few paragraphs with the, "facing your fears" idea but it was quite embarrassing how serious the writers block was. I finally settled on writing about how much I believe in gardening. This was quite a laborious process. I tried to give up once and my teacher gave me permission to change my topic but then he casually included a sentence to me about the amazing-ness of re-writing something and I decided to stick with it.

As I write I am trying ever so hard to not be so wordy. I am trying to think carefully about the words I use and make sure they are all necessary. I am not sure if I would ever think any word would not be necessary :) I find myself wondering where is the balance between writing in your voice and yet refining what you are writing.

Anyway, enough musing here is my essay, enjoy.


Have you ever found yourself sitting in your favorite chair with a pile of seed catalogs, using the perfect pen to circle all the seeds you want to buy? Have you ever deeply appreciated the perfect dirt of a freshly rototilled garden? Have you ever dug a perfect trench and carefully laid some seeds in it? Have you ever gone out to your garden for the hundredth time to check for seeds you know should be up and yet they aren’t? Have you ever scolded yourself for not having faith when they finally do come up? Have you ever gone out to your garden in the pouring rain to pick slugs off of the helpless plants in your garden? Have you ever harvested a bucket full of peas and sat in the grass with your children, shelling them and eating them without a care in the world? If so, then you will easily understand why I believe in the, “act of cultivating or tending,” which is otherwise known as gardening.

You could argue that I have to believe in gardening because I grew up in a home with not one, but two of the “cultivating and tending” kind of parents. It is most likely that this is a huge factor in my love of gardening and my ability to see how the actions I perform in a garden often parallel life. There is no doubt that those seeds were planted early in my life. Throughout my growing up years my mother could rarely be found in the house. I always knew I would have to search our fourteen acre yard for her. As I would wander around looking for her, in my head I would cross off the options of where she might be; weeding, pruning, planting, harvesting, all the gardening words were there. On weekends or evenings my father would often join in, both of them working side by side in the yard, giving every growing thing it’s very best shot at reaching its full potential. 

 The first time that I realized that there were parallels in gardening to life I was about 13 years old. I was in my mother’s enormous garden, begrudgingly and murmuring-ly on my hands and knees, working my way down a seemingly endless row of corn that I had to finish weeding if I wanted to go with my friends. I was feeling indignant and picked on. An equally indignant, picked on sibling was weeding alongside me, a companion to complain with about unfairness. Without realizing it our conversation morphed into a silly yet, at the same time, meaningful chat about how we were saving these seedlings from the evil weeds who were trying to choke out their chances to get sunshine, and rain. We had to help them get these things or they could never reach their potential, which was to grow up, and give us corn. To this day anytime I am weeding I still cannot help but imagine what the weeds represent in my life. What is trying to choke me out and destroy my chances of reaching my potential? What can I pull up in my life that will simplify my days? 

The other part of working in a garden is cultivating. According to the dictionary if you are cultivating you are “promoting or improving by labor and attention.” Most of my life I have been a most fastidious gardener putting in lots of labor and paying excessive amounts of attention to every detail. I simply must have nice straight rows. There must be perfect fences for the cucumbers and peas to climb. The weeds must get tugged up before they get to big. I must labor intensely to provide the perfect environment for my plants to grow: removing rocks, adding compost, turning the dirt over, noticing where the shade is, and hand picking pests off the leaves. During this process I often find myself wondering am I being this fastidious in other parts of my life? Am I “promoting or improving by labor and attention,” my relationships with those around me? Am I “promoting and improving by labor and attention” my spiritual life?

About five years ago for the first time in my life I lost all desire to cultivate or tend my garden. I did not notice until many months later that the loss of my desire to garden correlated with an enormous trial in my life that I could not make sense of and did not want to deal with. The weeds in my garden were left to choke out anything and everything they wanted to. They grew taller, and taller, wider, and wider, filling in every space they could find. I did not even go out to harvest. I could barely look out the windows at what my garden was becoming. I knew what was happening. I just could not muster the strength to go face it. There must be another way? Maybe the decisions would make themselves? Maybe the garden would just weed itself? 

After fighting with all my might for clarity and answers for all of June and July, one day in late August I realized it was time to have courage, face my garden and my life. I wish I could find the words to describe how therapeutic it was to get on my hands and knees and start in one corner of that garden and methodically pull wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of weeds out of that garden. Ever so slowly my rows of plants emerged. It took three days of weeding to find my brick path and free all my plants from the evil weeds. It also took three days of weeding to find my courage to make some hard decisions. Once I removed all the weeds I could see clearly what I needed to do. It would not be easy to do but it was clear and the answer came as I crawled around pulling up weeds, putting them in a wheelbarrow, dumping the full wheelbarrow in the woods, all alone with my thoughts.

May 6, 2016

Too Many Words? What?

So my first writing assignment of my English class was to write a love letter to something I love....not someone....something. It was hard to think about what I love enough to write about. I spent a couple days driving along on my bus making mental lists of what I loved enough to write about and the main problem was that I appear to love everything. But I finally settled on writing my love letter to views. I really do live for views. They make me happier than Reeses but do not tell Reeses that...please. We had to have our classmates review our papers and edit them and this was hard for me. No one loves all my words and I do not know why. They all think I should simplify...I wish they knew I already have simplified far more than I wanted to. I just want to be me :) But I concede I need to learn the value of not being so enthusiastic. It is so hard for me to not want to overshare. Are you surprised by this confession? Yeah, I didn't think so. 
Anyhow hear for your enjoyment or not is my paper.....I would love to know what you think. And P.S. thankfully my teacher "gets" me :)


To My Most Darling View,
If I close my eyes for a minute and focus, I am confident that the first time I felt my heart swell because of you was when I was 6 or 7 years old. I was standing on the top deck of a Washington State Ferry, looking out at the emerald blue water of the Puget Sound. In the distance I could see our destination; a majestic pine tree covered island. Behind me on the mainland I could see the epic snow covered Cascade Mountains. Without realizing it I took a deep breath, trying to figure out how to store up the glorious-ness of what I saw. How that content, peaceful feeling thrills me.
Ever since that day I have worked hard to keep you in my life because I adore that feeling I get from seeing you. Whether it means signing up for a 10K Dandelion Run in Derby, Vermont, so that I could have rolling hills filled to bursting with enormous dandelions as my view as I ran, or taking my kids to Acadia National Park in Maine to climb on the enormous pinkish colored rock cliffs on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, or the time that it was sunflowers that stretched on for miles in eastern Kansas, the feeling is always there.
An important part of any relationship is that you encourage each other to be better. You constantly do this for me. What you provide for me always strengthens my bonds with my friends and family. I can’t wait to share with them what you have shown me, hoping that they can also feel the same immense joy that you bring to me. I love to hear their exclamations of wonder when they see you. The bonding moments that you have helped create as my girls and I catch the sun sinking behind the edge of the ocean at our favorite lighthouse on the Oregon Coast, or when we find ourselves at Devil’s Churn at high tide watching the waves crash up the long passageway of rocks, shooting wave foam into the air, making us all laugh with delight.
I love how you encourage me to keep a perspective. I start a hike in an uninteresting parking lot filled with so much hope. I walk on the trail through mossy, fern filled woods, up hills that sometimes could make a girl complain. I hear the hopeful noise of distant water, all the time wondering is the end going to be worth it?  Then suddenly the trees open up and there, hidden on the border of the state of Massachusetts and the state of New York, is Bash Bish Falls. It is rushing over boulders, plummeting into a pool that is surrounded by huge gray rocks of all sizes that are perfect for climbing on.
I am indebted to you for what you have taught me about being grateful. So grateful that I have eyes that can see you. Grateful that I have legs that can walk me to you. Grateful that you recognize how happy you can make me, and that you keep providing opportunities for me to notice you and feel that coveted content, peaceful feeling. Grateful that you have not always given me perfect things to look at so that I can learn to deeply appreciate, and understand when the great views do come. A relationship like ours that makes me overflow with gratitude is one I would fight for.
I appreciate how you help me to notice all the varying shades of colors in the world. Remember that time on the airplane flying from the east coast to the west coast following the setting sun? The fluffy clouds piled like sky scrapers all around making the plane feel so small and insignificant? The oranges, pinks, reds and yellows that were constantly changing as the sun set? And how could we forget the brilliant colors of the trees in New England in the fall? Every possible shade of yellow, red, brown, pink, and orange blanketing mountain after mountain?
            I cannot imagine my life without you in it. Words can barely express the content, complete feeling I can experience when you are with me. I love that I know you will always be there. I love that no matter who I am or what I have done you are always there for me. I strive daily to live worthy of what you show me.
Yours truly,

Jennifer 

Apr 24, 2016

If You Think You Can, You Can?

Well here it is, more than two months since I last blogged;

Getting an education,

driving a school bus,
solving life's problems,
occasionally taking a road trip,
folding socks,
keeping everyone happy,
making sure everyone feels loved,
planning a wedding,
dealing with the last 13 year old I will ever have,
planning church lessons,
reading book club books,
track meets,
worrying about my 7 children, 

all seem to be very effectively filling my blogging time.


 I miss telling you about my life and my insights....this is where you say you miss reading about them :) I have so much to tell you I am not sure where to start my mind is overflowing. Yes, this is normal for over thinkers.


Actually, that is what I should blog about, our minds. This should be epic, an over thinker blogging about her brain. Go get some snacks this should be good.


This last semester I had to choose a personal finance book from a list of nine books my teacher gave me. I researched and carefully considered each of the options. I chose one book and then when it came in the mail I just knew that it was not the one and I switched. I ended up reading a book called Think And Get Rich by Napoleon Hill. This book was written in the 1930's and I just had to know if it was still relevant what thinking had to do with getting rich. At first I liked the book. Then I hated it. And then I loved it. It made me think and think about my brain and how it works. It inspired me to make some changes in how I think about things. And it has caused me to annoyingly bring it up in every conversation I possibly can. (yeah, run if you see me coming)


Henry Ford said, "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." Overthink that quote for just a minute...just you and me....here....I won't tell anyone. So does that mean anything I declare I don't like or can't do is really all in my head? Can I really do it if I just think I can? Can I like leftovers if I just tell myself I can and believe it? (shhh do not tell my mom) Are all our barriers to what we want in life really just psychological?


So if I want to get a job in Alaska I can?

So if I want to be a school teacher, I can?
If I want a cozy little house of my own with a yard and a garden, I can?
If I want straight hair and not curly, I can? (nice try, huh?)

Check out this perfect quote from the author of this book,



 “Nature has endowed man with absolute control over but one thing, and that is thought. If you fail to control your own mind, you may be sure you will control nothing else. If you must be careless with your possessions, let it be in connection with material things. Your mind is your spiritual estate. Protect and use it with the care to which divine royalty is entitled. You were given a will power for a purpose,”



Sometimes my mind is my best friend and reminds me just when I need it about a dear friend who did something nice for me and made me feel loved. 

Sometimes my mind is my enemy and reminds me of all the things I did wrong raising my children. Or all the silly, unthinking things I have said at various times in my life. Or the bad choices I made. Doubt, indecision, and fear are the names of the 


Sometimes my mind is scared. What if I have ruined my children with my divorce? What if I can not pass this class? What if the company that makes Reeses goes out of business? What if no one ever loves me?


Sometimes my mind is happy. When I smell fresh cut grass. When I see the sun come up. Watch the sun go down. When I finish something that was hard. When that handsome fifth grade teacher at a school in our town smiles at me. When I pass my yearly bus evaluation. When I take a road trip.


Sometimes my mind is very heavy. Problems I do not know how to solve. Hard things I have to do. Decisions I need to make that I do not want to. I could use a hammock.


Do you believe that your emotion and your mindset are what keeps you from succeeding? I love that in the last month (yeah, I am a late bloomer) I have not just learned but internalized that I can control my future. Mr Hill, the author of that personal finance book I read said it so perfectly;



"You are the master of your own earthly destiny just as surely as you have the power to control your own thoughts. You may influence, direct, and eventually control your own environment, making your life what you want it to be-or, you may neglect to exercise the privilege which is yours, to make your life to order, thus casting yourself upon the broad sea of circumstance where you will be tossed hither and yon, like a chip on the waves of the ocean."

Feb 8, 2016

Chevy Chase Beach Cabins and Reality.

Reality. Yeah, how much fun is that? I have come to realize lately that I am not the most realistic person in the bunch. I have had several reality checks in the past few months and at first I tried to ignore them but now I am realizing I need to sober up and accept the necessity of reality in my life. What brought all this reality talk on?

You see about 9 years ago I found a place in Port Townsend, Washington that I have ended up loving with all my heart. I was living in Indiana at the time I found it. I was searching for a most perfect place to stay when I came to Washington to visit. A place with a view and charm. I spent way too much time looking on the internet for something that was in my price range with my requirements. I stumbled upon Chevy Chase Beach Cabins. They seemed so perfect. I had never done anything so crazy in all my life as to think I could take a vacation by myself but I booked it. I was cleaning houses at the time and I carefully saved a nice pile of cash in a box to pay for two nights in these beach cabins.

 I can not rightly remember what time of year it was when I first arrived at Chevy Chase Beach Cabins. I have been there many times since and it all blurs together. But I will never forget the awe I felt at the location. See that picture I posted up there? That is what you see as you walk from your car across the impeccable lawn towards your cabin. I stand there every time and not to be too dramatic, but I sigh and get a small lump in my throat. i took this picture last time I was there. I wish I could take you all with me to these beach cabins. They call them cabins but honestly they are the most adorable little houses/cottages. I always stay in "cabin" #10. The cabins are decorated impeccably. The grounds are beautifully groomed. The views, the private beach, the kitchenette, the claw foot bathtub, quaint downtown Port Townsend that is not far away, the television, the fabulous supply of dvd's the owners offer, the Rose theater that is downtown Port Townsend, the fabulous shops in the downtown, the yummy places to eat, the sand dollars I have found on walks on the private beach, the bench on the hill overlooking Discovery Bay, the Olympic Mountain range in the distance, the amazing people who own it all, the ferry boat ride to get there. I can not say anything bad about Chevy Chase Beach Cabins at all.

I have been back several times since that first time. Every time I go I long to share it with someone. I fear sometimes I may burst with my need to find someone who would appreciate this gem as much as I do. I try to go at least once a year now that I live so much closer to Washington than I have lived in a long time. This trip to Port Townsend is a special treat for me. It rejuvenates me more than I can tell you. I never go during peak season. I am a frugal girl. I always go in the Fall or early Spring before prices change.

Why am I blogging about this?

 Because I was supposed to go there this last weekend, but to make a super long, complicated story short I cancelled my reservation at the last minute. Which was costly, but necessary. I have to face the reality of what my life is now. I really do not want to. I have been fighting it for all I am worth. It takes some courage to look at your life and be honest about where you are and then to stop fighting where you are. I keep thinking I can go do these things that single moms who live with their parents really should not be doing. I made this reservation around Christmas time. I decided it would be my Christmas present for me. When you are a single mom no one really remembers you at Christmas and I decided rather than feel sad about it I would just take the opportunity to treat myself. I looked carefully at my calendar. I found a date next to a weekend when there was no school in our town. I thought of everything. But it turns out not really everything. My parents ended up going to California and no matter how I tried to arrange things for my girls so that I could go without having to worry about them nothing seemed to go right. Reality.

Reality is something that is real. It is the state of things as they are or appear to be, rather than as one might wish them to be. I have to start facing this reality...you know the;

 "what's what,"
" the way of it,"
 "the nuts and bolts,"
 "like it is"

 Not just with Chevy Chase Beach cabins. This reality check has made me think about other things I need to be realistic about :

Relationships. I definitely need to be realistic about those. Stop having hope.
The amount of Reese's I eat.
I am a school bus driver, that not only drives a school bus, but washes 6 buses a week to make extra money.I wonder what you would all think if you saw me out there in the pouring rain with my rain boots on scrubbing away at the bus.

Reality and I need to make peace with one another. You should all be so proud of me. Maybe there is an award for grown ups who finally embrace reality.

Since I can not go to Chevy Chase Beach Cabins for awhile now I am posting the link to their website so that you can check it out and go in my place. You will not be disappointed.   http://www.chevychasebeachcabins.com/