You Are Special

To all my readers:

I’ve been to a writing conference this week and it’s made me examine why I write. I have to conclude that it’s not just for myself. I want it to be for you too. I’ve been cheered by the compassion expressed after my latest painful posts (and painful pictures). It’s made me thankful for you. I feel like you are all kind of “my people”.

I feel like I should attempt to tell you why I write here. But first,

The NOT WHYS – I’m not:

trying to make you feel sorry for me

trying to present life as only full of hard things

trying to be sounding hopeless or bitter

trying to compare my life with anyone else’s

Really, I’m not.

THE WHYS

What I want to do is offer the events of my life as an example of the hope that a very average person can have. We all have seasons when life is hard, and seasons when it is not so hard, maybe even joyful and fulfilling and interesting. Life is given to us as a learning experience and I love the ability to share the ordinary things that happen to me with you. I feel a responsibility to be fully aware of what can be learned from the ordinary and to think deeply on what might be of value to you as you read.

I love to show you the beauty of our physical spaces like my northern forests and wetlands. I share with you the fear of doctor’s visits and threats to physical health because we can learn that we are not alone. I tell you about the crazy stuff because I know we all need to laugh at the things we (I) do. I love to tell you about people like yourselves that are precious to me.

For me, my hopeful outlook is bound up in my faith. I believe in a God more loving than can be imagined and I should probably be telling you more often how I feel his love applied to me personally. I believe all of us “ordinaries” are unique and specially loved by God. Whether you believe as I do or not, doesn’t it comfort you, encourage, you to know that another person respects and values you because of their belief? Doesn’t it make you curious how that can be? I want to include that kind of conversation in my stories. I hope that in some way you can feel God’s love applied to you through what I write.

I have more to say about the writing conference but I needed to start with this, tonight. Thank you for being there and for reading.

Day of the Jaeckel

It’s been years since I walked for a cause – the three day, 60 miles breast cancer walk. Today I joined my brother and his wife and a couple hundred other people from our small community to walk a 5k for ALS.

John Jaekel is a Haywardite, former coach and educator at the high school, and friend and neighbor to most everyone he meets. He is also one of the longest survivors of ALS and a spokesperson for the cause all around the state of Wisconsin. The walk was started by his family and other supporters around four years ago and has become a regular event in Hayward.

We met at the Lutheran Church in town where John is a member, and went inside to look at the silent auction items. There is no fee to join the walk, so the auction is the fund raising portion of the morning. There is an online auction as well as the one we saw, and many Hayward businesses and individuals were represented there. I bid on a small piece of furniture. Lumber from the lumber company, 2 months membership at the local gym, hair cuts and beauty supplies, art and specialty food items, and tickets to Packer games(!!!) as well as other creative and tempting offerings were up for bid.

The walk was leisurely, led by John Jaekel himself in his motorized chair. There were parents with small children in wagons and strollers, elderly people being pushed in wheelchairs, and all ages in between. The weather was cooperative, actually could not have been more perfect. I’m not kidding, there were cheerleaders and encouraging signs along the route.

One family walking close to me came from a city 80 miles away to join the walk. They had lost a brother to ALS the year before and knew John through the support network they had been in together. I didn’t get to talk to John but it was clear that he was a beloved member of the community and had been successful in stirring people to action. One of the signs along the route pointed out that the purpose of the walk was to make sure that someday there wouldn’t have to be any walks. Research toward a cure is the goal.

At the end of the walk, volunteers at the church had breakfast ready for all the walkers. Someone had upped the ante on my table bid, so I pushed it up a little higher. I didn’t get it but it went for a better price and that was good.

This was a day to walk and talk with others, over a common interest – that of helping people like John Jaekel and others who are battling als. I admire his enthusiasm and dedication, and wish him well. I thank him for bringing our community together around a good cause.

A to Z in April

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I’m committing to this blogging challenge because I have finally found a purpose for it. A purpose that will make it easier to survive April. It will be my angst release valve. Let me explain.

The husband and I have been talking about selling our house and moving for, well… ages, but we are now to the point of having a realtor as our new best friend. It’s my new job (in addition to paring down) to make the house go on the market in the next month. I’ve started a new level of preparation in the last few weeks and it’s made me so busy and preoccupied that writing about anything has gone to the bottom of my to-do list. I didn’t see how I could possibly write for the challenge with all that’s going on.

Then I started thinking of all that I’ve learned, all the interesting new people who’ve come along, all the snags and complications. It would be easy to write about this experience, emotionally beneficial and more socially acceptable than sitting in the driveway screaming/crying/pulling out my hair. It took my family all of 15 minutes to think of a topic for every letter of the alphabet. Yes!

The things making up my days are now going to make it into writing in the month of April. If you’ve ever thought of buying or selling a house, you might learn something useful. If you’ve done it before and know all about it, you might like to compare your experience with mine. Either way, follow along. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things F

Fabric

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repurposed dresses from the 80’s and scraps from other projects – now a tablecloth

 

Defined: 1)A cloth produced especially by knitting, weaving, or felting fibers. 2) A complex underlying structure: “the fabric of society”.

I hardly ever meet fabric I don’t like. I like to look at it, feel it for smoothness and thickness, see how it lies and bends. I love to make things with it, which is why I have accumulated what we call a “stash”. It’s fabric that is waiting to be used for something. It might have been bought for a specific project which never got off the drawing board, or it may have just been too good a price to pass up, but of course, I’ll figure out how to use it later. From every project that does get done, there are scraps of fabric and even these have a charm all their own when combined with each other in various colors and designs. That’s what I love about fabric – the endless variety, beauty and usefulness that it’s capable of.

From years of sewing everything from clothing for my own family, wedding dresses for friends, and home decorating with curtains and coverings,  to clothing for horses, and dogs, I have gained a respect for cloth. It has to be chosen correctly for its purpose, positioned to drape correctly, handled and fashioned “just so” or it will not behave. Watch a couple episodes of “Project Runway” and you’ll see what I mean.

I have often thought while sewing (really, I have) that there are so many parallels between fabric and society. That second definition really says it all. The fabric of society that is us, is complex and it underlies everything that is important and dear to us. We all have our part in making that fabric look and act the way it does. We are those fibers that get woven together in actions and dependencies over a lifetime. We are stronger together, but we are only as strong as the weakest fiber and there are many things that can stress and weaken us.

There are some fabrics that are woven with the expectation that the fibers will be smoothly aligned and uniform. Others show the beautiful twists, turns and flaws that make them unique and priceless.  I get kind of excited just thinking about it. It always sets me thinking about whether I make the fabric of society weaker or stronger.  Do you see what I mean?

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This stack of fabric is an art exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum.
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Part of my own “art exhibit”, my stash

 

 

Early Morning Thoughts

I have to confess that my earliest thoughts each morning are not cheery.  It’s not that I don’t sleep well, but more that I don’t wake up well.  Aching shoulders, a pounding headache, feeling too warm and so uncomfortable that I have no recourse except to get up and look for distraction.  I’m hoping it’s a reasonable time to start the day.  It’s 5:30 am.

This is the way it is most days, but not every day. I find my distraction in the search for my glasses, the first cup of coffee, the mental chore of figuring out what day it is and remembering what I have to do. I used to have to be out the door by 6:30 but made the change to a kinder schedule.  Now I seldom have to be anywhere before 8 and I am thankful for peaceful mornings.  I can watch the light of day as it grows over the oneacrewoods and hope that a few moments of peace will result in a more comfortable me. It usually does. (Today I also took an Excedrin, that helped too.)

I realize that there are things that give me direction and energy.  I love thinking about the work of the day – the things I feel God has given me to attend to – and as I lay it out I examine each thing to see if I can figure out why.  It takes a lot of frustration out of my day to believe that this list comes from my “real boss” and he has the knowledge to add to or subtract from the list without explaining his reasons to me.  It’s interesting that the older I get and the more experience I have with his direction, the easier it is for me to see those reasons being worked out.  When there is a sudden change of plan, even something that looks like an inconvenience (think traffic jam, troublesome phone call, toilet overflow, etc…) I get a little excited and start looking for the opportunity in it.  If I was the one in charge, those things would be purposeless, aggravating, and discouraging.  But with my adventurous, all-knowing manager, everything has significance and can be part of something awesome.  I love being part of his team.

I do the things I know I should do.  I get dressed and try not to look scary. I eat breakfast.  I pack my bag and get out the door with words of encouragement running through my mind, “trust me, and don’t insist on having to understand.  No matter what happens, remember me and I will direct you through it.” (Proverbs 3:5, 6)  And one of my most positive morning thoughts is that even though I am getting older, slower, weaker, less able in many ways, none of those things are going to get me fired or laid off from my real job. Job security.  Once again, I’m just sayin’…