"What you believe about the future holds immense promise and adventure."
I'm still amazed how musings, ideas, or inspirations come to me for writing topics, whether it's this blog, a story, a devotional, or any writing project. Friday morning I still had nothing for today's post. But I hadn't panicked yet. And then... as I made breakfast, my sweetie was listening to something on the iPad in the living room. My ears heard bits and pieces that sounded interesting, but I wasn't really listening.
Then he showed up in the kitchen, tablet in hand. "This is great! You have to listen." So during breakfast we listened to Dr. Rick Rigsby give a 2006 commencement address at the California State University Maritime Academy. Dr. Rigsby spoke about Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout, and the wisdom his father instilled through his words and how he lived. Truly powerful inspiration shared for those heading out in the world.
"Sweetie" said one of our granddaughters, who will be a high school senior this fall and focused on being an RN, shared it on social media. Then my thinking went to the two "Class of 2018" granddaughters who will be heading off to college in August. One will be following a path to be a veterinarian; the other pursuing a film and media career. What an exciting time in all three of their lives, and so focused on their next steps in life's adventure.
It reminded me of back in my olden days when a girls' career choices were perceived as more limited than today's vast opportunities. It seems back then that many of my friends and I bought in to the idea that a girl could choose to be a teacher, a nurse, a secretary, or get married. (There were exceptions like Susan M. who headed to New York, Broadway, and eventually California.) Hindsight proves that thinking was wrong. Clearly it was just a sign of those times. However I know being an elementary teacher was the right career for me.
So for our granddaughters and all graduates out there, hearty congratulations as your future with promise and adventure opens up to you!
"As America celebrates Memorial Day, we pay tribute to those who have given their lives in our nation's wars." ~John M. McHugh
Memorial Day was called Decoration Day by Mom and Dad when my two sisters and I were young. After WWII Memorial Day became the preferred name. But since Decoration Day was what they grew up with, it's what they continued to call it for many years. And up until 1971, it was always on May 30th.
As kids we knew it was a day to decorate graves and honor those who died fighting for our freedom. Dad was a WWII Army veteran and very active in his American Legion Post. Memorial Day meant we'd get up early and head to the Legion for Dad to march in the annual parade. The parade concluded at a nearby cemetery where we'd solemnly stand for the remembrance service which included placing wreaths, prayer, music, and a 21 gun salute. I remember knowing this was serious and important.
When we finally got home, we decorated our bikes with crepe paper by weaving it through the wheel spokes, and hanging streamers to make our bikes patriotic. Then we'd parade around the block because decorating and parading were what Decoration Day was all about after all.
This year Memorial Day is today. On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act which moved some holidays to a specified Monday to create "convenient" three day weekends. The law took effect on January 1, 1971. Memorial Day moved from May 30th, as it had been celebrated from 1868 - 1970, to the last Monday in May.
Our flag flies this Memorial Day. We'll watch for the annual Memorial Day 5K race that goes by our house. Often we attend a parade that ends at a cemetery for a remembrance service which includes placing wreaths, prayer, music, a 21 gun salute, and sometimes a fly over by the Air Force Reserve.
"We must never forget freedom isn't free." ~Unknown
"Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder."
Spring finally sprung in our neck of the woods! Baltimore Orioles and hummingbirds arrived. We've seen wild turkeys at our neighbor's, wood ducks flying into our woods, and a couple eagles low enough to catch great glimpses. One even had a fish in its talons.
We also noticed unusual activity in the tree behind our deck, a favorite spot for frolicking squirrels, but not so much this spring. For several days we did see and hear the cacophony of squawking crows and hawks - sometimes together - high in the tree. Clearly these were not friendly exchanges. What is so interesting? Then they stopped coming. I was glad.
One day I caught small movements up in that tree. Was it a wing? Was it a squirrel tail? Both were viable possibilities. Stay aware. Then one evening, we saw a Barred Owl in all its camouflaged glory. It sat so still, its big eyes riveted on us. We shared the news with neighbors. They were watching another owl perched in a pine tree. Two owls! We've heard owls from the woods, but never saw them. Every day became a "who can see the owls first" game. Binoculars stayed on the counter.
Exactly one week from that first sighting, something more exciting happened. I noticed movement on a branch. An owlet. Another poked its head out from the nest. Suddenly the owlet on the branch was hanging upside down by both feet, trying to get upright, then by one foot. I took pictures. Eventually it dropped to the ground, which I missed. Darn. It stood a while, and then headed toward the deck. Before long it was on the deck steps. It eventually got up, wandered to the edge, and leaped. Practicing take offs and landings? Again it climbed step to the deck and jumped into the container garden. It tried climbing and flying out, but it was too steep. It hunkered down and rested. Finally the owlet realized it could simply walk out, and rested on the other set of steps. Then it was gone! I went outside and looked around, but didn't see it anywhere. I hope you're safe.
Later that evening, we discovered that two owlets fledged, and made their way to a tree at the edge of the woods. A third remained in the nesting tree, but did venture out on a limb for a while. The parents stayed vigilant, their babies always in sight, and brought them food. That was day one.
Day 2 - All three stayed in their same places most of the day. In the late afternoon, the first two started stretching and flapping their wings, and making their way to higher limbs. The third remained in the nesting tree but located on a higher limb.
Day 3 - In the morning, we saw the three owlets and both adults. By mid-afternoon, two owlets huddled together on a limb. We didn't see the third owlet or the adults. When evening came, there was only one owlet.
Day 4 - One lone owlet sat in a tree all day long.
Day 5 - One lone owlet still sat in the tree early in the morning. By late morning, it was gone.
What a blessing and privilege it's been watching this wonder unfold!
"Staring blankly at a blank page."
~A Six Word Memoir - by me
Sometimes a writer knows exactly what they want, or need, to write. Sometimes a writer has so many ideas and thoughts about what to write they don't know which one to pick. Sometimes a writer's got nothing!
Lately I've been writing and submitting children's devotional pieces. In the publisher's guidelines they've expressed a need for difficult topics - such as terrorism, public shootings, and single parent/blended families - for children ages 6 - 12. Knowing these needs, I've mulled over the topics for age appropriate ways to address the issues. At first, I focused on the least terrifying topics. Although truly if a child is part of a new single parent family or a new blended family situation, that could be scary for them. But I had a nagging feeling that wasn't where I should go.
As a retired elementary teacher, I began thinking about school and public shootings, and how students are prepared for such events. After all, we've prepared with fire and tornado drills for as long as I know. I recalled my own childhood having drills in case of nuclear attack. We'd duck under our desks and cover our heads with our hands for protection. I've wondered if anyone ever really believed that would save us from nuclear fallout.
For several days I researched, pondered, and strived for an appropriate way to convey my thoughts in a short contemporary story. I stared at many blank pages and the blank computer screen. Perseverance and prayers prevailed. I said several times in the process, this topic was difficult to write. So, we'll see what happens when I submit it.
After I finished writing the devotional draft, I set it aside. I knew I was due for another blog post. Again, I found myself staring at blank pages. I thought of a myriad of ideas. But nothing really grabbed me. Then I thought since there had been so many blank stares at blank pages in the past couple weeks, that would be my topic, or confession. It may not be exciting, but it's the real story.
Now on to other things!
"Everyone has a story."
Many years ago a magazine feature caught my attention. It was about writing a story, maybe a memoir, in just six words. It sounded like a fun challenge. I jotted a few. The article encouraged readers to submit their creations online. So I did. Over time I forgot about it. Until last week. I was reading an online literacy newsletter I enjoy, even beyond my teaching years. The feature article piqued my interest, so then I clicked on the author's blog. Reading her musings, I spotted "Six Word Memoirs" she'd written in January. I dove in...which lead to further investigation and research.
I discovered there is a website on six word memoirs, and another on six word stories. I found YouTube videos. I learned that there are books with fun titles, such as Not Quite What I Was Planning, which was the first book that grew from Larry Smith's "Six Word Memoir" project. I downloaded it on my Kindle.
Teachers have picked up on the Six Word Memoirs to help students focus the essence of their writing. Lesson plans have been created. I wondered how it would have worked with my 2nd grade students. In a video, Larry Smith told how his nephew's 3rd grade class was very successful. I say 2nd graders could do it!
Always interested in all things writing, I got a fresh piece of paper and started thinking... First life topic that popped into my head was my mother's years with dementia and Alzheimer's before she passed away at 83, compounded by a dear friend who is on that path now. So, I wrote:
- Remembers everything. Remembers something. Remembers nothing.
- Alzheimer's - wretched disease. Steals life slowly.
To quote Larry Smith, "Everyone has a story. What's yours?"
I'd love to read your Six Words Memoirs. Post yours here on my blog in the comments, or on FB.
In like a lion; out like a lamb(?). March 31st departed gentler than March 1st and 2nd arrived. Calling it a lamb may be a bit of a stretch. Everyone I know expected and hoped for balmy warm, and sunny to be the norm entering into April. Both weather apps on my phone show snowflakes by the end of the week. Humph!
Well, we won't know the NCAA Champions until tonight. My hubby and I have tied in this little bracket game. But I've made some interesting observations. Right after a round ends, he starts reminding me to make picks for the next round, which is how it has always been. However, I noticed he's now urging me to pick before "father and son." When I inquired, he claimed he knows "they" will take care of it, but that I won't think about it unless reminded. That part is probably true. But isn't it funny that on Saturday afternoon I peeked at their Final Four picks and they're exactly like mine. Coincidence? You decide...
Moving on. I must admit I've gotten a kick out of Loyola's Sister Jean sensation. Early in the tournament, I caught a glimpse of a young female sports announcer interviewing a sweet elderly lady. So I started paying attention. How fun is this? A 98 year young nun decked out in her team gear, including "special" athletic shoes, has been the Loyola men's basketball team chaplain since 1994. And she's one very faithful fan! Somewhere around the Elite Eight games, I mentioned Sister Jean to my husband, and that I planned to root for Loyola because of Sister Jean. (Remember I have many unique criteria for making bracket picks.) He remarked that he figures much of America felt the same way, except probably Michigan. But Saturday night Michigan and Villanova got the W's; Loyola and Kansas got the L's. And that's just the way the ball bounces sometimes.
May the best most random "I don't watch basketball much" bracket win.
One day last week my husband announced, "It's time to fill out brackets." I gave him one of those insincere smiles and eye rolls. He considers it a fun tradition. I feel my participation is merely amusing him. I've been called "sports challenged" more than once by more than one person. I'm okay with that. But the funny thing about the whole bracket routine is that more times than not, I end up doing better than my husband and son. And they know what they're doing.
My first experiences pretty much involved picking names of colleges somewhat randomly. I have always picked Gonzaga because the name tickles my fancy. Then I made it more complex by considering if a college was in our state, if I've been to the state the college is in, or who had the cutest or best mascot. I eventually noticed, or realized, what those little numbers by each college team meant. Bonus! Not really sure if anyone ever mentioned that to me, or if they just assumed I knew. Not.
At first, we picked teams all the way to the championship. That's probably the "official" way. But it sure gets messy. Then one year it was suggested (not by me) to pick each round as they come. "Whatever you say, dear."
Naturally my goal has become to outdo the guys. But I often find myself rooting for the underdogs, despite what my bracket says. Sometimes I deliberately pick the underdogs. And when they win, that's awesome!
We won't know how all this plays out until March Madness is over on April 2. Kind of an oxymoron, isn't it? Shouldn't March Madness be over in March? Just saying.
"In like a lion..."
For my many years teaching elementary aged children, each month brought a theme. Sometimes more than one. March always posed the riveting questions, "Will March come in like a lion, and go out like a lamb?" Or vice versa.
In 2018, Northeast Ohio definitely experienced the "in like a lion!" Let us hope it exits like a lamb.
The first day of March brought an all day rain event. It was a "quack, quack, waddle, waddle" kind of day, as my daughter and I called it when she was little. Our backyard looked like a dismal swamp. Then around 9pm the rain changed to snow, the wind howled, and the lights flickered...until about 10 when there was complete darkness! When the flickering started, I got the flashlights, just in case.
We reported the outage, and then went to bed. The earliest power "might" be restored was 1am.
It did get a little chilly, but I am grateful for our down comforter that kept me toasty all night. I am also grateful for the walls and roof of our home that sheltered and protected us from the storm. I am grateful that no trees fell around us.
When we got up in the morning, we had close to a foot of snow. We live on the cusp of the Snowbelt. It was really a winter wonderland as I looked outside at trees flocked with snow and the ground covered in a white blanket. Power was restored about 10am. We had sunshine all day and the sky was clear and blue. By early afternoon most of the snow had blown, or melted, off the trees. A lot of snow disappeared from the rays of the sun, helped by the very wet ground. And our backyard looked even swampier with all the huge puddles merging.
March had made its grand entrance, and now it was calm after the storm. A lot like life, I'm thinking.
PS- I apologize for no post on 2/25/18, as scheduled. A virus, the germy kind, knocked me for a loop! I had thoughts, but getting something well written just wasn't in the cards. Stay healthy!
"The best night of my life!" ~a Night to Shine guest
Friday, February 9, 2018, was truly a Night to Shine! About 540 churches worldwide hosted Night to Shine proms in all 50 states and 16 countries. If you are unfamiliar with Night to Shine, it's a ministry of the Tim Tebow Foundation. The website states, "Night to Shine is an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God's love, for people with special needs ages 14 and older." This year there were approximately 90,000 honored guests, with the support of 175,000 volunteers all over the world. That's one big prom night!
My husband and I volunteered with about 150 other folks (ages 16 and up) as our church hosted our first Night to Shine prom. Many volunteers were from our church, and others were from nearby churches who wanted to get involved. With so many details to take care of before, during, and after the prom, one volunteer shared it was like a million-piece puzzle that was so amazing to see come together. As the saying goes, "Many hands make the work light."
Nearly 75 guests attended our Night to Shine event, along with their caregivers. Guests arrived for check-in, and volunteers hung up their coats. Each guest received a corsage or boutonniere, and then the ladies had their hair fancied up, while the gentlemen got a shoe shine. Next, limousines carried guests for their grand entrance on the Red Carpet as crowds cheered and paparazzi flashed pictures. "Buddy" volunteers escorted guests throughout the evening, including a delicious sit-down dinner.
After dinner, the DJ really got the party rocking! Music, lights, cameras, and action were everywhere. It was all about dancing and having a great time. Each guest got crowned King or Queen of the prom before the evening ended. Royalty abounded. Swag Bags went home with each guest filled with lots of goodies to remember the evening, including a prom picture and a beautiful Night to Shine picture frame.
It was quite a night! Volunteers knew that doing this would bless our guests, but we all came away feeling blessed in so many ways by our guests. Seeing pure joy through smiles, and sometimes happy tears, on their faces blessed us all. We will cherish many memories. I personally will not forget the young girl who when I told her how pretty she looked in her beautiful red dress kept saying she wanted to go down the Red Carpet again. "Let's go do it," I said. We made our way there, she walked, we cheered, and anyone nearby joined in. Her smile was radiant. The next day I saw the videographer's online post. He had captured her "crowning" moment. Her expression was precious. She truly is royalty!
"Dreams don't work unless you do." ~John C. Maxwell
I've been thinking a lot about kids doing out of the ordinary things. Earlier I shared about Christian Bucks who worked to get a Buddy Bench on his school playground in Pennsylvania.
In Iowa, Luke Thill grew fascinated by the Tiny House movement. He did some research, and said, "I got obsessed with them and decided to build my own." Quite an ambitious goal for an early teen, but clearly his dream! Luke convinced his parents, but there were conditions. Luke had to raise the money, find the materials, and stay on budget. Then he'd own it free and clear.
Luke raised money cutting lawns and other jobs. He gathered reclaimed materials and bought some new. He bartered labor. Luke even cleaned an electrician's garage in exchange for help wiring.
Luke built the 89 square foot tiny home on his family's property. He calls it his "starter home," although the city codes consider it a "glorified shed." No matter what you call it the structure has a kitchen and sitting area with a drop down table, and a wall mounted TV on the main floor. A bedroom is in the loft. There is no plumbing, but that's okay for now. He uses it for doing homework, hanging out with friends, and sleeping there a few times a week.
In the process of constructing his tiny home, Luke learned many life and building skills. But he's not stopping there. In the future he plans to sell it and build another one on a trailer hoping to haul it to college for cheap living.
When Luke spoke at TinyFest Midwest, he said, "I want to show kids it's possible to build at this age."
If you're interested in Luke's project, he has a YouTube channel. And if you know about any Can Do Kids, I'd like to hear about them, too.