Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Petal Pushers

With all of the late spring snow and dreariness we had been experiencing lately, I didn't expect to see anything in bloom.  How could any living thing be so brave as to bloom while being tossed around by swirling snow?  However, I was thrilled to see some courageous daffodils -- some petal pushers! -- standing strong, blossoms open, one recent snowy, windy day.  They reminded me of the courageous people I know who smile, express their gratitude and reach out lovingly to others when all of the snow and dreariness in their lives could easily cause them to retreat inward and stop blooming.  As lovely spring days work their way to us in Wisconsin, I am grateful for the few brave daffodils that rise and shine and bring cheer despite the weather.  They bring new meaning to me to blooming where you are planted.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Making a Place for Silence

One of my favorite songs performed by The Four Seasons is "Silence is Golden."  For the past four weeks since I gave notice at work to start my own freelance business, my head, my days -- and some of my nights -- have been filled with busyness, chatter and organizing everything for the next person to assume the role I had for the past 12 1/2 years.  Then, I ran across online an old edition of our church's monthly newsletter where our pastor had included in her column these wise words:  "Silence is a special place we must go regularly.  Silence is a grace that nurtures, heals, reveals and renews.  No spiritual exercise is as good as that of silence.  Be still and know.  Be still. Be."  Although I will be busy starting up my freelance business and, gratefully, already have work to fill my hours, I will pursue some time simply for silence.  I realize how much I need such time to nurture, heal and reveal the next steps ahead.  Too much silence can be deafening in its own way for me, but this silence will indeed be golden.

Friday, April 26, 2013

New Chapter

Last month, I did something some have called exciting and energizing and others have called scary and gutsy.  After 12 1/2 years on a job that I have loved more than I could have imagined, I gave my notice.  Today was my last day.  I decided that it was time to stop ignoring the nudges I had been feeling for the past couple of years and to indulge in my dream to become a freelance writer, editor, speaker and public relations consultant.  Admittedly, I considered my decision carefully and prayerfully for months and months, but the appeal of following my heart finally won out.  When I took my position as the director of a brand new healthcare foundation 12 1/2 years ago, never in my dreams had I realized how much it would work its way into my heart, my values matching with the organization's, our foundation's work meaningful to me.  During my tenure there, I have worked with amazing and giving people.  I have met kind, caring and generous folk whose passions match mine.  However, with an increasing awareness of how fragile and fleeting life can be, I am now pursuing my dream.  I want to make sure that when all is said and done, I won't leave this life regretting that I didn't just try it, even if only for a while.  In the short term, I will be blogging more often again, working on an e-book that has been simmering in my imagination, and writing and editing for others.  It'll be a grand adventure, the turning of a new chapter in my book of life. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

In the Bag

I read in the April 2013 edition of Delicious Living magazine that each year, Americans use an average of 600 plastic grocery bags per person.  That startling statistic made me even more determined to take our reusable, cloth grocery bags to the store every week.   A few years ago, when the notion of bringing your own bags was still fairly new in our area, I was already dragging cloth bags with me.  The poor clerks would look at me and offer to place my purchased goods in plastic bags (or sometimes paper, depending on the store).  Despite some resistance, I kept it up until now, clerks don't even bat an eye at the sight of a stack of cloth bags.  In fact, some stores place reusable bags near the check-out for you to consider purchasing, and clerks now applaud the effort to conserve.  It wouldn't be so bad if people recycled their 600 annual plastic bags per person by returning them to the bins at the front of many larger stores, but I see countless plastic bags, inflated by the wind, floating across the landscape.  I can't but think of how little effort it takes to bring reusable bags to the store, how easy it is to wash them and how good it is for our environment not to be littered with plastic bags in every field and along every highway.

Monday, April 22, 2013


My husband Larry is always teasing me because I use the words dinner and supper interchangeably when referring to our evening meal.  Larry grew up saying dinner, while my family always called it supper, so if I call Larry to supper, he invariably calls back that he'll be there for dinner in a minute. The what-to-call-our-meals issue came up again just last week when reading, of all things, a murder mystery.  One of the characters in the story explained that breakfast, dinner and supper were the three meals of the day in the South, while breakfast, lunch and dinner were the names for those same three meals in the North.  Larry grew up in Iowa and I in Wisconsin, so we can't very well use the North-South excuse.  There's something comforting for me to call our last meal of the day supper.  However, when I'm in the company of others, I rapidly conform to calling it dinner to avoid confusion or to sound as if I forgot my education.  If I were to put an identity to it, Larry and I probably eat dinner, rather than supper, for our meal is often light and vegan.  When I think of a supper, I think of a hearty, meat-and-potatoes sort of affair or a potluck.  Whether we're dining on lunch or dinner, dinner or supper, the blessing in it all is that we have food to consume and healthy food to boot.  It really doesn't matter what you call it, so long as you enjoy the nourishment, grateful to those who grew it, partaking it alone or in the company of others.

Friday, April 19, 2013


One recent weekend when the sun shone and the temperatures crept above 50, I decided to engage in one of my spring rituals: sweeping the mounds of sand that have collected throughout the winter on our garage floor.  The sand had been a blessing when it was needed, for it made it easier to navigate in and out of our garage onto the icy, north-facing driveway.  Now, it was simply a mess that seemed to get tracked in and out of our house with every footfall.  So, I pulled the cars out, lugged out the garbage containers and the few other items stored in the garage, and swept with vigor.  There was so much sand that I was certain I could have created my own beach.  Afterward, I rewarded my efforts with a walk in our neighborhood.  Others had the same idea, for there were countless individuals of all ages running, raking, walking their dogs and playing in the yard with their kids.  As I approached one block, the whiff of that all-important scent of warm weather, the barbecue, tickled my nose.  A clean garage floor, a brisk walk among others enjoying the fine day, and the aroma of a barbecue grill made me grateful that April had arrived.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sun Porch Sunday Rockin'

A couple of weeks ago, just when we grateful Wisconsinites thought that spring had truly arrived, I wasted no time moving furniture back into our south-facing sun porch.  I was ready for a new season of rocking in my chair, listening to the birds and reading a book.  For that one afternoon, I made good use of the warm weather and enjoyed some sun porch rocking, eager for the season to have turned over to a glorious, new spring.  Alas, since then, winter has been slow to give up its iron grip.  We've had snow, snow and more snow, mixed with sleet, a cold driving rain, and winds strong enough to snap tree limbs onto electrical wires.  It's not been the pretty April I'd been envisioning when moving the furniture back onto the sun porch.  Instead, I hunker down in the comfort of the living room warmed by the heat of the furnace with one eye on that rocking chair in the sun porch, just waiting for spring to truly arrive.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pass It On

Back in 1969, my mom and I became fans of a newly published contemporary hymn by Kurt Kaiser called "Pass It On."  It was among the first such hymns that deviated from those familiar and lovely standbys found in our church hymnal.  Mom was teaching Sunday School at the time and had received some floppy 45rpm records of new hymns as part of her education packet.  Mom carefully removed the fragile disc, placed it on our record player and the forever-lovefest with "Pass It On" began.  This morning, as our church organist began to play offertory music on the piano, I instantly recognized that she was playing "Pass It On."  For a moment, I was 11 years old, singing with my mom to the record player in our living room.  Although a child at the time, I deeply resonated with the lyrics about it only taking a spark to get a fire going, the joys of spring when all growing things bud and grow, and likening it all to the experiencing of God's love, a love that is so intense and real that one can only want to pass it on.  I let the music wash over me, feeling the hand of God over mine, as well as that of my late mom.  I was so warmed by the feeling that, once again, I wanted to pass it on.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Silver and Gold

As a child, I remember singing a little song about old and new friends being like silver and gold.  Last Saturday, I had a silver experience (or was it gold?).  Either way, the day was made brighter by these two special women in my life. In the morning, I sat at the comfortable kitchen table, mug of steaming hot water (my favorite beverage) in hand, with a wonderful friend.  I can chat with her about everything, important and not so important.  That day, we enjoyed quiet conversation about weather and gardening, health and loss.  In the afternoon, I enjoyed a visit with another friend whose eternal optimism and joyful disposition bring happiness to every encounter.  I have read a lot lately about the importance of having strong social bonds throughout life, especially as we grow older.  Those relationships help us to age in a healthier, happier fashion.  I realize that I could give up a lot, but those loving relationships with family and friends are among my most precious possessions.  I guess you could say that they are more precious than silver and gold.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

For the Birds

I know it's spring when I look at the calendar, but our fickle Wisconsin weather often confuses me into thinking that it's still winter.  This morning, however, I just knew it was spring.  As I awoke, through the closed bedroom windows I could hear the bold, joyful, ever-optimistic sound of early morning birdsong.  I almost opened the windows to welcome in the sound.  Instead, however, I nestled into the covers, closed my eyes and listened to the beautiful songs.  I was reminded of my late mother's favorite Bible verse from The Psalms:  "This is the day which the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it."  I couldn't help but be glad to start this lovely new day (despite the rain, despite the dreary gray skies) because I knew that, like for the birds, there was every reason to rejoice.