embrace Christmas...

Not having grown up in the church, most of its history has bypassed me so a newspaper article titled, Christians didn't always embrace Christmas holiday was intriguing. The Associated Press goes on to talk about how the church was slow to change.

The change didn't happen overnight. Though much of the 19th century, school and businesses remained open. Congress met in session and some churches closed their doors, lest errant worshippers tried to furtively commemorate the day... From the book, Christmas: A Candid History, goes on to explain that the major denominations - Presbyterians, Baptists, Quakers, Methodist and Congregationalists either ignored the holiday of activity discouraged it until the late 19th century

The article goes on to explain, When Christmas began its march toward dominance among holidays, it was because of a change in the culture, not theology.

In America, the saying is that the minister follows the people, the people don't follow the minister. Christmas was more of a sociological change than a religious one. The home and the marketplace had more sway than the church..

Interesting stuff. We all have to grow and change, even the church. Am reading Velvet Elvis/Rob Bell and he talks about faith. The short version is that faith should look more like a trampoline than a brick wall. If faith is a brick wall with no give, if one of the bricks comes apart - the whole wall falls down. If faith is like a trampoline it will bounce and no harm done.

I like that analogy. I like the idea of my faith jumping up and down on a big trampoline. It might get bruised and tossed about but remains in tact - and in the middle of all that bouncing, comes Christmas. There is a place to embrace it in each of us and that is my wish for you this Christmas. May you land soundly and safely and stand up to embrace again.

Going take some time off - will be back January 2. May each of you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Love you all...zalaine.

a day of sanity....



Actually it is our once a year Christmas/Sanity Day. Now that we have done it twice, it has become a tradition. My friend and I do some Christmas shopping, lunch at Cheesecake Factory and alot of talking. Walking around the mall, people coming and going - standing in line to see Santa, like we had done a few days ago.

We have known each other for over 25 years and even though she is much younger than I, we connect on the same level. We are in different Seasons of life but spiritual, are in the same ball park. We talk as we shop - and pick up right where we left off after a purchase is made. It is one of those relationships that you cherish.

I am done with my shopping and she works more than a full-time job so we tried to conquer her list and got quite a bit done in 6 hours but I imagine she would agree with me when I say the most important thing we shared today was our lives with each other.

We talked about everything and some things, twice. We share hurts and joys. We took turn asking deep questions and being honest with our answers. In friendships like this one, you get to the nitty gritty pretty fast and that is when the real thing happens. I can't help but think the Holy Spirit is hanging out too and working through the conversations, long after they are over.

While the day is planned, what happens, is not. We are both able to be in the Moment and because of that, mixing both Christmas and Sanity comes quite naturally, a major accomplishment in itself.

I walked away from the day, a better person. Better - because she challenges me and made me think. Such a confusing time of the year and any clarity I can find is warmly welcomed. Christmas and Sanity - isn't that the ultimate oxymoron? Not in this case. This one is as smooth as butter...

Ding dong, Avon calling...

DH brought the newspaper in the other morning and included was a little present from the Avon lady. I have no idea who she is but have her email address if I need her.

Avon, reminds me of my high school days. I would have spent every dollar I had on Avon products. It seemed like we got brochures every week - what are they called, Ah, campaigns, that's it. The one I received says we are on Campaign 25 - 26 which tells me that they actually come every two weeks. I can't remember if we always got two - 1 large brochure and 1 small one.

The small one is 14 pages and aimed at apparently those who need flip-flops this time of year. One page of clogs, a couple of shoes with matching purses and a lot of flip-flops. Maybe we have a large demographic of cruise people. There was a page of slippers but I already have mine for the winter. Actually, several pair - in case these that I have on wear out.

The large brochure has 196 pages. 196! How in the world would one find time every 2 weeks to read through this? I remember that the Skin So Soft were pretty much toward the front of the book - they don't even appear until page 178! In fact, between make-up, perfume and other lotiony products, they only make up 81 pages. The other 115 pages are devoted to stuff you can buy at Walmart. There is jewelry, coffee cups and more slippers. Cherished Teddies, Snowbabies, the M&M guys, Harley Davidson and the NFL also make a showing. Dora, Diego, Spiderman, Pokeman, the Disney Princesses and the ever lasting Hannah Montana are a part of this 115 page extravaganza. It is making my head hurt and to do this every 2 weeks!!!

I hope my new Avon lady doesn't come a calling. I am afraid I will have to watch out for her and not answer my door if she shows up. Even though I understand that Skin So Soft is FABulous for mosquito bits, I'll just pick up some OFF at Walmart the next time I need some. It seemed so much easier when I was a kid...

The truth about Christmas Programs...



There is nothing quite like a children's Christmas program. There is just Something about them that makes us, almost swoon. It makes our holiday season seem more complete and gives us the warm fuzzies that tells us, that all is still calm and bright.

Then you have the reality of the whole thing. A church has to start looking for a Christmas program director while we are all still wearing shorts and flip flops. The music must be chosen and the cast assembled. After Thanksgiving, the race is on. Practices on most Saturdays of December, the angel wings and halo es must be constructed and the sound man is tested to the edge of his sanity. All of this, in search of the Perfect Christmas program and this year, I think I have finally figured it out and here is the deal for all of you program people.

We all want a Christmas program but we know the Story... Even if you only go to church once a year, you already know the Story. I do believe that people watching children's Christmas programs can be overwhelmed and may see the baby Jesus in a new light but basically, we are all there for the same reason...to see our kid sing, dance while seeing how cute they are. That is it, We want to take their picture with the rest of the kids as a background. That is why we show up 45 minutes early, save 10 seats and guard them like crazy. That is our goal. (I overheard the director yesterday trying to explain to bunch of little kids about her goal for the program - swoosh, right over their heads)

Pictures of them in their angel wings and haloes, picture of them in their Christmas outfits - that is all we want. I am just telling the truth here - Dear Christmas Program Director - Teach the kids a song, line them up 10 at a time on the stage and let us see our kid sing and take their picture. That would make us so happy and take a lot of pressure off of you.

After the program, the pastor gave a great sermon about letting all people in. We are not to judge who may or may not be worthy - that is God's job. As he spoke, I thought about one little angel who was not allowed to participate in the program because the wings and halo were just too much to handle.

Should you be able to still sing in the christmas program if the costume doesn't work for you? Absolutely.

If you march to the beat of a different drummer, should you be left behind? Absolutely not


The Story of Christmas is age old and no matter what the theme of the program may be, the Message is always there. No one ever walks away from a christmas program in confusion about what they saw. It is pretty straight forward but has tremendous ramifications and to see that acted out by their own, would make it even more powerful. I understand that there are lots and lots of logistics involved but Sometimes we get lost in the details and forget the Big Picture. Forget goals, forget structure - let each child be heard as they bring the Story of Christmas to their own and see what God can do...

Christmas is here but Easter coming...



There was an question that I was asked this week that really threw me. I kept coming back to it - it made me think and it made me smile.

What are three to five issues that you won't ever change your mind about?

The three to five made me smile. Don't know if they thought I would have a list of 100 or what. I started to make a mental list - issues, that's where I ran into trouble. Did they want to know if I would ever change my mind about restroom enthusiastic Larry Craig's antics or releasing Charles Manson from prison? Maybe they were trying to figure out if I lean toward a Left or Right way of thinking. Despite my confusion, I loved the question. I thought back on things I thought I would never change my mind about - God, being one of them and look how that turned out. It is dangerous to never say never but it is equally dangerous to not stand for something.

Anyway I would answer that question, would come back to this video. It was sent by my friend and that it came when it did, was not a coincidence. Between all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, we forget that in a few short months - we will be faced with Easter. If you are a follower of Christ, you have to include both Stories and embrace all that they both bring to your Table. May your Table be full and your heart overflowing with what He has for you...

a child shall lead them...



If the true Christmas Story starts with a small child, this will certainly be a different take on that Story. He was known as the kid with the hat all evening. He had a slow start but since he had backed up, you knew what was coming. He brought his A game and no one was disappointed. Our SIL's aunt leaned over to my DH and told him, He must get that from your side of the family. I could not be prouder...

He is a lively child. Paul and Kim - you KNOW what I am taking about. Last Sunday, I was trying to get some video of Hollie and Robyn singing Oh Holy Night and Gage was doing his best to distract me. What I didn't know is that he was entertaining some of the people around us. Tickling me and making faces were his modes of choice and I would give him the Look, and he would just grin - now you can see why.

Not the traditional Christmas song nor moves but this is Christmas 2007 to me. Not the Wise men but Chuck Berry is a great substitute. He had been practicing and we didn't know until he started if he would pull it off but he was more than ready. This is what he had waited for. He told everyone he had to move backwards so he wouldn't hurt anyone - a soft spot for his fellow school mates.

We do not expect this at the church Christmas program this Sunday - what I really expect is some eye-rolling but if he does let loose - I hope people are paying attention. They may learn Something...

Tony, the dancing cop...





According to his web site, he has been dancing since 1984. Not bad for a sixty year old guy and he is available for parties - not clear what he does...

The holidays bring all kinds of good cheer in obviously, many different ways. We all make room in your hearts for it and can't help but smile when it comes out way. December 11 - two weeks to go. As each day goes by, the holiday seems to take it up a notch. We make great food that we don't have any other time of the year. Pioneer Woman has these club crackers/Parmesan cheese/bacon things that I can't wait to try. No other time of the year would a cookie made from pretzels. Hersery Kisses and M&M's sound like fun - except now.

I had over $15 dollars worth of peppermint bark and Knott's Berry Farm cookies in my cart the other day before good sense came back. Those Girl Scout-like mint cookies things are almost impossible to ignore and what a great snack as one is watching the dancing cop.

I am extra giddy today because tonight is Gage's Christmas program. We have been told that he is suppose to bust some moves - air guitar, to be exact. Miss Brandi says he has been practicing and if his shy side doesn't kick it - this should be good. Christmas time is the closest thing I experience to enjoy being an extrovert. I get how extroverts get their energy. It is exhilarating and you just can't wait to see what is next. On the introvert side, you can be a part of Everything and still be yourself - it is the best of both worlds.

So, like Tony - there is much to dance about. March to the beat of your own drum or join the party. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year...

bird's eye view...





I love taking pictures from above and until last week, didn't know that this kind of photography actually had a name - bird's eye view. I know some of the pros will stand up on a ladder or step stool and have their client look up - is a popular shot. Those shots are nice but I see it a little differently. I don't care to see faces. Maybe because it is more of an artistic shot - one that doesn't show a face but still tells a Story.

It all gives me a view of what it could look like looking down from the heavens. I wish I had a shot of Joseph and Mary and their baby with all the animals and visitors. I can only imagine what it would look like. Mary's hands tenderly holding her new baby in a strange place. Maybe we could see Joseph shaking hands with the Wise Men as he welcomed them to his make-shift, temporary home. While we may not see the faces of his parents, we probably would get a glimpse of the baby. I imagine we would never be able to pick him out of a crowd - there would be nothing outstanding about him. No glow or semblance of a crown in sight - just a baby, doing baby things.

Maybe faith is like living with a bird's eye view - you might now see specifics but you get the picture. What you see tells the whole Story, the Story as we need to know it. YOu may be missing out of some of the details but it doesn't distract from the real story. When I take these shots, I get on my tip-toes, put the camera over my head, hover around whoever I am shooting and start clicking away. There is no focusing or using the rule of thirds, just shooting from the hip and the seat of your pants. Not a bad way to take a picture or live your life...

the kingdom of God...




I spent the afternoon helping the kids trim their tree. With the Christmas music playing, there was serious imput on the placement of each and every ornament. With these many personalities, this task differed from person to person but the flow was undeniable.

When someone couldn't reach the perfect spot for their current ornament, help was asked for. There were a couple of runs at the tree without benefit of help but you know how that ended. Not very successful but thank goodness, no one was hurt in the decorating of the tree. As always. some of the ornaments didn't make it thru the process and their fate will have to be decided before it is time to put the decorations away for another year. Soon, our task complete, everyone went their own direction, on to the next thing.

We will decorate my tree this Friday during our sleepover. Practice for the Christmas program is early Saturday morning so after a big breakfast of pancakes and sausages, we will all head for the church and practice in their respective classrooms. Even Miss M has practice - Do two year-olds really practice? Could be a very long two hours.

I started reading, This Beautiful Mess by Rick McKinley on Friday while waiting in the snow storm for an oil change. He is talking about the Kingdom of God and how Jesus explained it was for the here and now - not some future time. I am familiar with the Kingdom of CNN. It is the one of bad news and horrific acts. It seems so real and it is but the Kingdom of God seems like something for a different time, a different place. His point is if you don't seek it, you won't find it. In the mess of everyday life, we can live in the beautiful presence of the kingdom.

When I have days like today, the kingdom seems so close. When I look into these little people eyes, little people whose blood is the same as mine - it is easy to see but most days are not filled with tree trimming and Pizza Hut. Those days where someone kills 8 people in a shopping mall for no apparent reason or the plight of the homeless is made real to you, those are tougher days and the kingdom seems so far away.

The kingdom isn't shifting, dodging from us as we go about our day. The shifting is us and we need to put some effort into finding and holding onto what is available to us. The thing is we are going to live in a kingdom, the question is "Whose?"

"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he...sold all he had and bought that field." Matthew 13:44

After my oil change, I headed for Sonic and took my, Skating Waitress in A Snow Storm. It gave me a glimpse of what I am looking for. At least I know I am on the right path...

that's what it's all about...



I asked a friend today if she was ready for Christmas and I think that is not such a good thing.

That's not what it is all about.

It is just something we all ask and maybe we should re-think it. Words matter and sometimes, we just get caught up in the hoopla. Especially for women because it is usually our job to buy the gifts, make the goodies and keep the budget from overflowing. That is a big job on top of everything else we have to do.

I should have asked her if she was enjoying the season. I wish I had asked her if she had experienced a Jesus moment this month or if she had a new insight about the birth of God's son. I wonder if she has been moved to tears and why. Has she had any good cheer, come her way.

I am making a conscious effort to never ask anyone if they are ready for Christmas, again. Not in the traditional sense. If they have their shopping done, tree trimmed and family newsletter in the mail.

That's just not what it is all about.

Dec 6 - my tree is not up yet and I am not feeling that festive but my shopping is done. Wow - I really need to step back and head down a different path. I want Christmas to be in my heart as well as my head and I most certainly want it to be what it really is all about...

Logan ...



Logan is a 13 year-old boy who lives on a ranch in a very small town in Nebraska. Logan listens to Christian Radio station 89.3FM KSBJ which broadcasts from Houston, TX. Logan called the radio station distraught because he had to take down a calf . His words have wisdom beyond his years.

I am always suspicious when someone says God tells them things - but for Logan, I will make an exception. Whether it is a hoax or not, matters not to me. The Truth is the Truth regardless of the state of the one who brings the Message but I would like to think that Logan is who he says he is and that God is smiling as Logan tells his Story.

When you think about it, Logan's Story is not unbelievable as the Story about a jolly old man who travels the entire world in one night delivering toys to each and every home. Does God talk to us? I think it did this time...

gizmos and gadgets a plenty







Look at my stuff,
Isn't it neat?
Wouldn't you think my collection's complete?


If you are a girl or have one, you know the words.
You also know what it feels like to soar - this song does that to you.
My most vivid memory is my DD and her best friend singing along with Ariel
at the top of their lungs, in high school.

Ariel was not like the other princesses, she had her Song.
Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Snow White - not so much.
And we love her a little differently than the others, not better - just different.

Broadwayworld.com is hosting a contest, Give Us Your Voice.
There is an host of singers trying to win and what a treat to hear them all.
A nice break from the Christmas hustle and bustle - I have been singing it all day.
Jingle Bells has been bumped for now.

Stephanie (419 votes) had a lovely voice and I love the B&W and angle of her video. Mollie (4265 votes) is in her bedroom which is so cute and despite bad audio, her voice is like an angel. It surely makes my heart soar. Nick (17,618 votes) is sick, as Keaton would say. His voice is unbelievable. Who sings like that?

What a format to hear fresh voices that otherwise we might never have known. And how very, very fun. Not a singer, but truly wish, I could be part of that World...

Extreme Makeover - Idaho Style



If you watched Extreme Makeover Home Edition last night, you were in my neck of the woods. After watching this show forever, it seemed surreal to watch it with such familiarity. With pre and post shows last night, you got a sense of what happens when EMHE comes into a town. The Stockdale's started the day with a showing of the documentary made by the builder to showcase the volunteers and ended with tour with the local news people in their home for most of the evening. Speaking of builders, Corey Barton certainly made an entrance - hope America doesn't hold that against Idaho.

Ty's show covered the high points of the new home. The Hoedown that raised money for the family the night before the reveal, wasn't featured but that is ok - those of us there will not forget. The show also ended with the kids eating in the kitchen, leaving a sweet memory for the viewers. The truth is the kids are back on formula. They have never used the dining room - they spent Thanksgiving sledding so that food would not be an issue for the kids. The parents have to eat outside of the sight of the kids, Mom in the pantry and dad, in his car.The refrigerator has a lock on it, up high, so the kids can't get in. EMHE doesn't fix everything and shouldn't be expected to. The dad has had someone pick up the tab for his schooling but as the news reported, they have still have a mortgage and higher utility bills. A friend said she hopes the community is still helping - I am not so sure, hope she is right.

They had vandals throw pumpkins at the house on Halloween and broke a window. They have been asked for money - people think they are rich, that is not the case. I understand that one of the boys has already been a recipent of a Make A Wish gift. Life will never be easy for the Stockdales.

After the hoedown, the night before the reveal, we headed out to the house. It was just after 9PM and as we walked in, the sun was getting ready for bed. We watched as they moved the family piano back in the house. In about 18 hours, the family would be home and see what all of us had already seen. Now with the final reveal, they can move on. The final chapter on this life-changing event. Thanks for sharing with all of us and we send you on the next leg of your journey with all our prayers. Bless you all...

same dilemma, different year...

It seems to grow more difficult each year. It took me a long time to admit it. I tried for years to find a common ground, a pathway that we could all walk together, but I can't, My left-brained mind wants it to all be meshed together. It will just never be...

Saturday night, Brandi, Keaton and I went to see a local production of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. It was a wonderful parody of this beloved classic and with local references and even, recognisable TV commercial jingles. It was yet another great start to this holiday season. Gage didn't want to come - he didn't realize that there was no popcorn or coke (but there was a refreshment time)and he considered people dressing up in costumes to not to be worthy of his time. He opted for McDonalds with his sister and dad. We each seemed to be happy with our choices for the evening.

As I was making lunch this morning, the all Christmas music radio station was playing Handel's Messiah without the vocals - just the music. I took this opportunity to stop cooking and sing. I got to sing all the parts I have ever wanted to and the more I sang, the more I soared - on the inside.

King of Kings and Lord of Lords...
And then the end. What a couple of minutes can do for a thirsty soul.

I don't know how to mix the Christmas of Santa and the Grinch with the Christmas of The birth of Jesus together or how to toggle between the two. Can I live in both worlds for 5 weeks every year? I see Christmas in the eyes of everyone I pass - the kids see one thing, the Big people, another. It makes most people try to be a little nicer, a bit more generous and more tolerant. Which camp they belong to - no one knows.

There is Something magical about Christmas - despite everything, Christmas was the most wonderful time of the year when I was a kid and there wasn't a baby Jesus in sight. The lights, the smells, the music and the food - it was all about the Christmas of Santa and to this day, I don't feel like I missed a thing. Mayb ethat is what scares me - I know the joy of Christmas can come off completely without Jesus.

I don't have a list of ?'s to ask Jesus someday. I don't think I will care about the things that concern me now so I know this is just a temporary issue. If He does happen to bring it up - we will go there but not wasting time on it now.

I love it all. both camps of Christmas. I do the best I can everyday despite what the calendar says and that is about all I can do. Imagine if I am suppose to enjoy it all? What a waste all this worry would be - maybe I should start now...

Thanksgiving Week 2...



I have been trying to get some Christmas photos and music for ER all week. Every time, I thought about it - Something else came up. As I drove home tonight in the dark with Josh Groban and Brian McKnight singing, Angels We Heard On High, it dawned on me why I have been less than successful.

In many ways this week has been more about Thanksgiving than last week. It was a Give and Take week. Last night, I was treated to a seat at a Transiberian Orchestra concert. I was one of the family and we shared this wonderful experience together. It is a 2 1/2 hour audio and visual treat. You can walk away the same as when you came. It took a while to get sleepy last night - my mind was still swimming in guitar and violin sets. What an awesome way to start the Christmas season.

The giving part of my week was a pleasure. Being able to help a few people out with a few creative things is more fun than work. The trick is you have to understand it is about what they want - it is about their vision, not yours and you are successful when you see in their eyes that you have captured exactly what they wanted.

This Christmas season is not starting how as I expected. There will be no name off the Angel Tree this year. We are going a more personal route. In fact, we have go covert and keep it on the QT but isn't that the way it should be anyway?

After a week like this, I can hardly wait to see what is in store for next week. So much unfolding before my very eyes - I am trying hard to keep up, not wanting to miss a thing. This week has given me a vision of what is possible if we are willing and I hope I am becoming more willing every day. I guess that is why ER still has a Thankful title - glad I didn't push it. I wouldn't have wanted to miss a moment of TW 2...

It's a beautiful day...


She walked out my front door,
took a breathe and said, It's a beautiful day.
She said it twice - I didn't see what she saw.
It"s cold
21 degrees, the news said.
Not so beautiful, me thinks.
But I am not her, my days are not measured, as hers are.
This hardly seems like a woman
who spent 5 hours yesterday talking to Hospice people.
End of life care - no more curitive measures.
Just help to make each day, the best it can be.
My task was to help her make shadow boxes for her kids for Christmas.
She drove over by herself, look very nice - not a bit like someone who is dying.
I watched her eyes sparkle as she talked about her dad and his band
December 26, 1949 - the label says.
We went over the details and after I had a good idea of what she wanted,
It was time for her to go.
I emailed her the finished product and she loved it.
A friend was suppose to take her to dinner tonight.
Her friend was in her driveway - the house was dark and she wasn't answering the phone.
She was worn out by today and probably sleeping so soundly, she won't be able to wake up.
I will deliver her shadow boxes tomorrow.
Our relationship is task-oriented - sometimes that is the way it is.
I will pray for her friends as they pray for her.
She got a lot done today, maybe It's a beautiful day...

Tis the Season...


DD and I went for pedicures today. It was her birthday gift to me and I so enjoy spending time with my little big girl.

We visited with our Ped Girls, talked about everything under the sun. Black Friday, men shopping on Christmas Eve, girl pampering and polish color. After much deliberation, we went with Rudy because it had diamond flecks and after all, tis the season. Makes me feel like Dorothy from The Wizard Of Oz. Let the Christmas season begin, I don't want to miss a thing - like I did last week...
The same group that moved the convicts in our neighborhood have their very own theatre company. Between Heaven and Hell was the first production of the new Ex-Inmate Theatre with more to come. Adapted from Peter Kreeft's work, it is a tale of a fictional meeting between John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley who died within of hours of each other on Nov 22, 1963, A fictional meeting of the minds, somewhere in eternity.
I pass the safe house every time I leave the subdivision. I pray for them as I do for those who live next door. I would have considered going to see their play. I don't think you would call it softening but with the Christmas season upon us, I am trying to figure out if we can work this whole thing out. NHCH decided after our neighborhood meeting, that they will let city officials know when they are moving into a neighborhood. That is a start. If these people are going to reenter the lifestream of the community, there needs to be some education and the fears of others, need to be addressed. Would a play help? Don't think it could hurt.
One of the men explained his thoughts this way, For myself, a big part of this is giving back, because so much of what we did took away from the community. Yes, it did. And for some, it still is. Time will tell if this will work and each side will have to do their best to get along but for this season, may we all remember the Reason for the Season...


holiday shopping tips...




I hope you all had a wonderful day of Thanks and after you had your bellies full of turkey and gravy, then went straight to the paper for the Black Friday ads. We cruised our mall at 845PM that night and with over a 1000 people already in line and the police there to end a few fist fights, we decided to go home, get in a few winks and head out at 4ish. We had a wonderful day of shopping. There is nothing quite like eating See's candy at 7AM - ask Keaton, he was in little boy-piggy heaven.

While I am sure most of you got a good deal of your Christmas shopping done this weekend - there may be some stray, hard to buy for people, still on your list. It is that time of year again where sometimes good judgement fails in the quest to find the perfect gift. You have looked at the same things over and over - and in an attempt to find anything. You might make choices that ordinarily would never cross your mind. Christmas can make us crazy. You want your gift recipient to like/appreciate/getwarmfuzzies from what you picked for them and maybe in conversation, they mentioned wanted something that sounded like you could surprise them with. Fight that inclination with everything you have...

A Purse - I watched a dad and son shop for a purse for their loved one at 8AM on Black Friday. They spent a good half-hour considering the pros and cons of each one. A purse is Something that you should never buy a woman unless she has pointed a specific one out to you. Having been on a quest for the perfect purse for most of my life, I can speak with some authority on this subject and having a man duo picking out a purse is even worse. The gift from this pair would be in the time they spent thinking about their beloved female and not in the final product - I hope they gave up their quest and gave her cash instead.

A Pet - This has happened twice to us - actually to my child when she was growing up. Once it was a dog and the second time, a cat. She was given the dog while I was gone and by the time I came home, she was so madly in love - we couldn't take it away from her. The cat was given to her under almost the same circumstances. To those who give animals as pets - all I will say is remember, there is always, always payback.

A Poinsettia - I have been given various plants as gifts thru the years. If you know me, you would know that the poor plant has a lifespan of about how long it is going to take you to get back to your car. After the giver leaves, the plant and I stare at each other, knowing the fate that lies ahead. I feel bad for the plant and the plant feels very bad for herself - not a pretty site.
In the last few years after years of Christmas gift given, I have wondered too about my choices for other people. I always try to give something I think the other person would like and I'm sure that I have not always been successful. It dawned on me that maybe I should give temporary gifts like food - here today, gone tomorrow. Things that don't feel the need to hang around forever. While I have been thinking that, I didn't do it. With my shopping mostly done, there isn't a single perishable gift in my bag but there also isn't a purse, pet or poinsettia either...

Happy Everything...


Today is DH's first day off since Sept 3. Really and truly. Just have a few errands to run and hope to be able to take it easy for a few days. He is looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner and a quiet house on Black Friday. The Plan now is for Brandi, Keaton and I to hit the mall at 1AM Friday. Not because of good deals or because we need anything - just for fun. We haven't told Keaton yet but he will think he has won the Big People lottery. Not sure what the Plan will be after that but don't see much sleep on the horizon.
Saturday is the only day with no assigned designation. This is traditionally, our big family weekend. On Sunday, I will celebrate my 56th birthday. Monday, our 36th wedding anniversary. DH has a long workday on Monday. It really is ok - there can be no greater gift than to have someone who have spent 36 years with. That is celebration enough. He is such a lucky man - as I continue to remind him most every day And how could he not forget his anniversary - the day after my birthday. I would like to say he has not had a problem doing so the last 36 years but that would not be the case but you have got to understand - I am high maintenance and he has done a fine job keeping up with me.
Looking forward to a little R&R, a little holiday cheer and looking back at how far I've come. I have learned so much since last Thanksgiving weekend. It is always amazing to me that things that seemed so important - that no longer do. The things that seemed fatal - that I can't even remember now. The things that I never thought would happen - that have and those new things that I have yet to see.
I always think about the families who have lost someone this last year. While it may seem there is no room for Thanksgiving, there really is. We came here with few guarantees in this life but great hope for the next. If there is an empty chair at your table this year, give Thanks for the time and memories you did share. Celebrate thru the tears.
My deepest wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. May your hearts and tummies be full, may your spirit soar and may a few surprises come your way. See you Tuesday...love zalaine.

yummy...



This is my favorite week of the year. Not only is it only 3 days long but it is like the calm before the storm that calms me every year. Thanksgiving is the kick off to a month of frenzy in so many ways. These three days have always been a time for me to be thankful for everything I have. For the Big Picture. For overcoming the obstacles that can seem so insurmountable in the moment.

There is something very Yummy about it. The older I get the more I wish Thanksgiving could last a month or so. The busyness of summer has been over for a while and the nesting process is well underway. A time to remember and a time to reflect on all you have been given. It might change the way you receive in the future. A grateful heart doesn't shrug off blessings as well deserved. It is fully aware of of every moment. It takes nothing for granted.

Yummy - it is a great word. Starting on Thanksgiving, there will be alot of yummy coming our way. The sights and sounds of Christmas will soon be here and we should enjoy every moment of it. Live our traditions and make new ones. Do Something for a complete stranger - doesn't have to be a big thing. Shake it up a little. Let the spirit of the holiday take your heart by storm and through every moment, be thankful for what you have instead of wishing you had more or better or different. Whatever is on your plate - find the yummy factor and may it bring you tidings of great joy...

everyday people...



Estate Sale - Sat, Nov 17, 9AM. Over 60 years from a woman who threw nothing away! Hundreds of books including over 500 cookbooks - lots of glass, jewelry, pottery, crockery and over 300 collector plates. Sale will be indoor and out - Don't miss it!

My BIL had asked me a few weeks ago if I wanted to make a few extra bucks wrapping/bagging for him at this sale. I didn't find out until Thursday that we would be outside and that the weather looked like it was going to be cold, rainy and miserable. I really, really wanted to call in sick but decide to brave it.

I got there at 8 and the crew said they had people in the yard at 530 AM. I was worried about anybody showing up and the place was crawling with people trying to peek in the backyard for an early preview. My BIL came thru and cashiers crew were placed in a big tent with a FABulous heater. Plenty of newspaper and bags, when they opened the doors at 9, you could feel the whoosh of people. I had to go in the house to get some hand lotion for the cashier and it took me 10 minutes to swim up stream to the bathroom. I have never seen so many people and I have really never seen so much stuff. The grandson was there and now lived in the house or at least was attempting too. He said the family had taken out 15 truckloads of stuff before the sale and there was still more stuff than you could imagine. The house was packed and so was the backyard. They said when you walked in the front door, there was a small pathway to walk - boxes stacked on top of each other every place else. The doors to the bedrooms only opened a few inches. My BIL said he had in over 100 hours setting up the sale and it looked like it.

One of our first customers was an older lady herself who bought over 20 boxes of books - $120 and an hour later, she made room for others to show. It always amazes me what people buy. Lots and lots of disposable income present and this was a working class crowd. The pitch - Sarah Coventry jewelry, She was a dealer - all 70-80's vintage. On gal bought 18 rings at $3 each and then came back for the 1/2 price sale and bought 17 more. All I have got to say is that junkers love their stuff. There were a few antique dealers but mainly, just people wanted to increase their own stash. When I first got there, my BIL told me to look around and get what I wanted. I left without one thing. Whether overwhelmed or just in different season of life, I kept thinking I didn't want to leave my family with such an overwhelming task. I think it was part of that generation's Story. Those who had gone thru the Great Depression to hoard and get rid of nothing. After seeing younger people and their purchases, it could also be the next generation's theme but for a completely different reason.

It was a long day, a fun day and an interesting day. I love watching people - the two older brothers who between them spent over $400 on collector plates and 10 boxes of old Avon products. The one guy who spent the largest amount was wise enough to bu his wife a little Something to soften the blow. The spry 80 year old in her black leggings and pink hat and shirt who came back after 1PM for the 1/2 price sale. She was the Jesus of the crowd. Every once in a while, I am aware of someone who is ordinary yet not. I sense there is more than meets the eye and I always feel like I need to pay close attention - and I followed that instinct. Good day, made a little money and learned a lot - not a bad return on my time...

Over the River and Through The Woods...


To Grandmother's House We go... Nothing like a 3rd grade Thanksgiving concert to get one in a Thankful mood. The Thanksgiving Story complete with dancing pilgrims and stomping indians. Gage was very interested in the whole Story and what parts each character played in the first Thanksgiving dinner. We kept getting the SHHHH from mommy but I was able to point out a few things like the pilgrims had to dance because they didn't have football. His brother was a turkey and Gage has taking the position of a birdy-free Thanksgiving - he plans on eating pancakes that day. This will be interesting, to say the least.

They just don't make songs like this anymore. Take the movies for example. When Celine Dion sang, My Heart Will Go On in Titantic - our hearts melted. For years, songs in a movie were written for the movie, Evergreen (A Star Is Born), I Had The Time Of My Life (Dirty Dancing) or Take My Breath Away (Top Gun). But in the past few years, filmmakers are choosing to use pre-existing music. One of my favorites - Say A Little Prayer For You from My Best Friend's Wedding or Old Time Rock And Roll in Steel Magnolias. What makes these songs work is that they are hit songs, first and foremost and they fit the movie and exist outside of it. We find ourselves singing and smiling and buying more movie tickets.

Where did the Burt Bacharach's and Leonard Bernstein's go! Maybe it is better this new way. It is yet another reminder that our world is changing. Hopefully there are some things you can still count on. Find yourself a 3rd grade Thanksgiving concert and maybe you could catch a few verses of Over The River And Through The Woods. That and a couple of dancing pilgrims and stomping indians. Makes this new world seem not so bad...

karma...

My boss use to talk about karma. When he was upset about something or someone he perceived to be unfair, he would rest in the knowledge that karma would come back to bite them in the heinie. He truly believed it so there was a great deal of comfort in it for him. Born and raised Catholic, somewhere along the road, karma became his religion of choice. I, on the other hand, never had the patience nor the confidence to wait for the karma to kick in and usually wanted to hurt somebody NOW!

Now we have a TV show, My Name Is Earl, helping us (?) to understand karma from a different perspective. I don't know anything about how karma is suppose to work but as much as I wish it were true, I don't believe there is always a yin for a yang. There are enough people in the world who think if you sign on with Jesus - it comes with a move to Easy Street. I think His parables teach the opposite. That life is not fair but just stay with Him. I could very easily make a list of 100 things that will never be fair/make sense/ get revenge for this side of heaven. Things that could make one say, How could there be a God who would let this happen? Instead, all the things on that list are dutifully recorded and the answers to why, have been delayed indefinitely. I can live with that. Of course I would prefer on the spot answers but for now, I choose to delay my personal gratification because I believe He is who He says and He can do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine - that includes the good with the bad.

Standing in a long line at the Walmart pharmacy yesterday, a woman was talking on her cell phone and this 20-something year old kid cut line in front of her. He knew exactly what he was doing. She turned to me and said, Guess his time is more valuable that ours. These days you don't confront anyone - you never know who is nuts so you just let it go. So nothing was said and about 10 mins later, it was his turn at the register. The clerk went to get his prescription, came back empty handed. They had just got the paperwork from the doctor and it would be another 30 minutes before his order was ready. He cursed and walked off. I thought to myself, Hmm, karma. Whatever you call it this side of heaven, everyonce in a while - it sure feels good...

numbers...

The Iraq war is costing a family of four over $16,000. With Iran, the cost jumps up to over $2o,000.

75% of the homeless population are veterans.

My checkbook balance is $ 19.06.


Our lives revolve around numbers. Whether how much we have, need or the address to have that package delivered - numbers are everywhere. I know my house payment, car payment and utilities by heart. I know the amount of the insurance premium that I pay twice a year. I know this all makes me very happy.

I also know that if it is Happy Hour at Sonic - I will only need a $1 to get my Route 44 Diet Cherry Coke. It cost 28 cents to make a 4x6 print at the Kodak kiosk at Walmart. My Kashi cereal runs $2.98.

Everywhere we turn, it is all about the numbers. For those of us who are comfortable with them, it is a pleasure to keep on top of them. I would imagine that for someone who would never choose to be an accountant, this must be a nightmare. I can only imagine how you must feel when someone comes at you with a bunch of numbers, trying to prove their point.

Those online security questions they always ask you - I always pick a number one. I have to think about what my mother's maiden name is or what the name of my elementary school was but ask me the numbers of an old address, and I am far more likely to remember and not have to have them send me my password.

People use numbers to encourage us, to scare us or to motivate us. When I am interested in making a purchase, I check Amazon and read the customer reviews. How many people liked it and those who didn't, why not? If the product has a low rating, I don't even bother reading the review. The power of numbers.

In a few weeks, that power will be put to the test again for me. Birthdays are a great way to see where you have been and where you are going. When you are little, it seems like you can't wait until your next birthday - deciding what kind of cake you want and who you are going to invite to your party. At my age, you are just excited to have another birthday...

a dog's life...


A Christmas gift for a friend - I haven't been around a dog in a long time. This one was way more interested in having her soccer ball thrown so she could catch it. The only thing better was having a little boy to share it with. She was three times his size. She knocked him over a few times but he, who has never had a dog, brushed his self off and came back for more. In the meantime, I am trying to get some pictures for this collage. Lets just say I took over 100 pictures to get these 11 shots. The rest are all grey and white blurs.

My sister says I am not a dog person but she has no children so her idea of dog people may be a little skewed. We have had many dogs and I do like having them around. At this stage of life, it is difficult enough to feed and water ourselves without adding a pet. The fact that one needs pet medical insurance these days - is not lost on me. I couldn't afford to put more than $50 on any vet bill and that limits the medical choices I would make for a dog. So, instead of taking the risk of being hated by vets, a sister and others - I choose to not have a pet.

It is a whole new pet world now. Pet cemeteries, Halloween costumes and doggy day care is the norm now. Dogs and other pets have it made in the proverbial shade these days. When Hurricane Katrina hit the South, there were thousands of dog/cats rescued and adopted to all 50 states. Animals must have some great lobbyists - they will be forever treated as endangered species.

They certainly are paying their way in nursing homes where those who no longer have homes, can still enjoy petting a dog or having a kitty purring on their lap. They don't talk back, will listen to your woes for hours without getting bored and if you need to run off some energy, will gladly fetch a ball for you.

I have got to say, watching this dog run around the yard chasing that ball was great fun and the boy helping him, well, they could have played for hours. When it was time to quit, the dog went crazy and started barking at the boy, Please More! They parted, both reluctant to give up the Good Thing they had going on - not such a bad dog's life...or for a boy either...


focus...




We are both learning this photography thing together. When we were out the other day, he took my picture as I took his. As I watch how he takes pictures, I see how he thinks. He finds the single thing he wants to capture, clicks the shutter button and say, Got it!

He is never concerned about the background. He is so focused on whatever his single subject is, that everything else is of little consequence to him. He is not interested in camera settings, depth of field or rule of thirds. Just the focus of his interest - singular. I think that is why kids are able to live so much in the moment - they are able to not be concerned with those things that distract big people.

As for this big person, I try to forget what I think the picture should look like. Some of the shots I see in my mind have turned out great, some not so much. If I could, I might take only pictures of people from the back. I love these shots! Maybe it plays to my introverted side. While Gage's focus is the physical shot, I find myself drawn to the emotional side.
Aperture is where part of your photo is out of focus, sometimes the back and sometimes, something in the foreground, is unrecognizable. They call it a creative process - most people take pictures to document a event - they don't want anything fuzzy but aperture, appeals to the emotion which is a completely different component of focus.
We each have a focus. Day in and day out, as we look thru the lens of our life - there is always Something that catches our eye. We get to decide how big or how small that focus is and at any given time, it may be a single focus with a blurred background or the Big Picture - the skill we are honing is learning to switch between the two effortlessly.
Gage and I am both on the same journey but are on different paths. The thing is we share and are learning together. Then we show each other what we have captured, look at each other and say, Got It!...

Favoritism...









I'm in the middle of a two day sleepover marathon and this is what we did at the first one. Dropped off my picture taking boy and picked up my shopper boy. There will no chasing ducks or spending lots and lots and lots of time at Cabela's like yesterday. Their interests are as diverse as can be. Same mom and same dad but they couldn't be more different. For me, I love their differences and they both have everything I can give them.
One thing I can say about my bio family - there never was any favoritism between my sister and I - we were treated equally crummy. I never understand those letters in Ann Landers column where grandparents obviously have their favorites, even the kids notice. As Gage said last night while we were trying to find something within our gift card limit and he found a stuffed bear that cost $400 - What is wrong with those people? I think people think that God loves Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and Oprah better because of their fame and fortune. Conversely, if something Bad happens - they think God is after them.
We all come with our wonders and our disgraces, It is not God who has the problem but ourselves. Why would anyone choose to limit themselves by exercising such an emotion? Seems senseless to me. I so enjoyed my time with Mr G today - he announced he is having pancakes for breakfast on Thanksgiving because he doesn't want to eat turkey. He has become a protector of all things bird. We have a lot of birdie-free chicken that we get from Walmart. He seems to enjoy the taste. Whatever floats your boat...
Tomorrow will be a whole different experience. We will shop til we drop and go non-stop. I am so looking forward to my time with Mr K. Not sure I will get a picture and if I don't, that is fine. The 100 or more that I took today will get me through. Perspective is a beautiful thing...

wearing my heart on my sleeve...


I feel like even more than usual, I have been wearing my heart on my sleeve for the last week and for the most part, it hasn't been very positive. I think it important to show the good with the bad. I am far from a role model. We each need to know we are a odd balance of both and at times, we are out of balance and Sometimes, it takes a while, sometimes a long while, to snap out of it.

I had an incredible day. Music that filled my heart and my eyes. The sun was shining and it was a perfect fall day. I had a photo shoot with a couple of FABulous young ladies and I am having boy sleepovers for the next few nights. Still focusing on first step of The Order - memory, I have purposefully trying to recall the things I know and am trying to live them every minute. Working on some Christmas gifts today, I thought about those who would receive them and how God has placed them in my life. For me, a big part of the memory study has to do with gratitude. When I am out of balance, it seems I am less grateful. My memory appears to have magically forgotten all His promises and what He has already done. When the balance shifts back, sanity is restored.

I didn't notice it until now but my sleeve is blank again. Memory has been restored and I am tripping over gratitude everywhere I step. I am going to rest in this place. Don't have to run out and hit the ground at 70 miles an hour. Time to enjoy the scenery and be thankful for this moment. Living just like life should - a little everyday...

Red walls and funky music...

The middle school cafeteria was packed. It seemed that people were trickling in a few a a time and by the time the moderator stood up at the podium, it was a packed house. It was apparent that if this halfway house thought they were going to move into the neighborhood unnoticed, they were mistaken.

Mistaken as they may seem, one thing was certain - they had done their homework. Bottom line - they are here to stay, They are covered by the Federal Disabilities Act and no city, county or state law can supersede federal law. It would appear that our neighborhood has no option but to accept what we have been scared to admit. The world is changing and we have to change with it.

Today I had vowed not to get dressed, not to answer the phone or turn on my computer. I wound up getting dressed, answering the phone a few times and when I did fire up my computer, there was an email I didn't expect..

... Acceptance vs. fighting - when do you put on the gloves and when do you say 'give it up'. and an invitation to my favorite coffee hang out with red walls and funky music.

I looked at my wall canvas and decided it was time to live a little and I am ever so grateful I did...

mental list...

As I sat and pondered yesterday, I could see myself in a hole, looking up. I could see daylight but the walls around me made escape seem almost insurmountable. I realized I didn't get this way overnight and instant gratification would not be coming my way any time soon.

Looking back at a chain of events that have brought me to where I am feeling, tells the Story. Some of the things are within my control and some aren't. Over and over, I find myself forgetting that life is a process and that there is a natural ebb and flow. What I am content about is being able to finally settling down and know that it is time to breathe.

Not the breathing pattern that it takes to keep putting one foot in front of the other - but the kind of breathing that will restore your soul, deep down. Not looking forward to this neighborhood meeting about the halfway house, I have wandered around today somewhat aimlessly but with plenty of anger. I am wearing my anger right on the outside and it has erupted several times today about a few other things.

I need to believe that the love of Jesus is bigger than my combined issues. It is easy when you are living on the mountain-top to be super stoked about life but it is in the trenches that learn the lessons that will carry you on to the next place. Living between these two is where I need to spend some quality time.

I made a mental list with 2 columns. The first column listed all the things that are driving me crazy. Every little/big thing I could think of. Everything that had and continued to, trip my trigger. Quite a list - lots of reasonable and legitimate issues. When I finished, I simply wrote in the second column, The Love of Jesus and pondered there a bit.

I have to head out for the meeting soon. I am going to take my mental list with me - will probably have to add to the first column all thru the evening but I will also have my second column and the knowledge that I already have everything I need. It will be enough if I want it to be and I am, leaning that direction...

The Order...







The boys had testing Friday night at karate - they were going for their brown belts and I am happy to say, they were successful. Not that there was a doubt for Gage, as long as they know most their form, they are moving on. When you get to Juniors where Keaton is, the stakes are higher. You only have three chances to break the boards and if you don't - no belt. In front of their parents and everyone else's parents that is tough, One of the guys was trying to control his tears as he hid his face in his dad's leg. They are getting a taste of Real Life and it is hard for them to doand for each of us parents.

I always look forward to Mr S's little gems of wisdom that he shares at these events. On this night he shared The Order. This is how he teaches and he says is good for everything in our lives. We all have expectations and he says when our expectations are too high, everyone gets hurt.

The Order

Memory
Focus
Proper Execution
Balance
Speed
Power
Rhythm
Automatic Reflex

He explained that we need to work thru each process until it is mastered. It takes time, sometimes, lots of time - to get thru even the first step - memory. Sometimes there is the expectation from parents and insturctors alike that after 1, 2 ,3 or some other self imposed time that a kid should being able to be at the last step - the automatic reflex.


It doesn't work that way.

We don't work that way.
Jumping ahead before finishing a step doesn't work either.

I instantly thought of the Church. People need to know Jesus before we start plugging them in positions that we need filled. They need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He loves them. It has to be firmly planted in their memory that He is who He says He is and that they believe. So many of our problems are because we are trying to push people through The Order to get them to the Automatic Reflex and then we can't figure out why 20% of the congregation does 80% of the work. There is no set timeline for moving thru The Order. Everyone is different and works in their own time, in their own way. Our job, just as in karate, is to encourage them and when they have done the work, it will be evident and then, they can move on. Doesn't it make sense that you can focus on something you can't remember. You certainly couldn't expect proper execution and as for power, speed and rhythm - no way and yet, we expect automatic reflex a month after they walk through the church doors.

Mr S may be on to Something. I plan to follow The Order for a few things I am working on in my own life.. Imagine not beating yourself up because you understand where you are. Our own expectations can be worse than others but the combination of the two can be deadly. How would it feel when you start something new that you understood you would be starting at the beginning and that it was ok. In fact, that is the way it should be.... BTW, every once in a while Mr S picks a student who is not the best or shiniest but the one who has worked hard to get where they are. He takes a dollar bill, has all the instructors sign it and bring up the student in front of the class to honor him. Keaton has been in karate a little over a year. He has worked hard and you can see his memory developing and getting stronger. He got the dollar bill Friday night. He came into to karate and fought to remember every move. There were times he needed extra help. Now, you can see it in his moves, he is confident because he knows what he is doing. We could not have been more proud - except this is the second time he has won it. He won it the first time back in April. How is that for encouragement? He is in end of the memory stage and is transitioning to the focus stage. He now has a solid foundation to move ahead. He feels the Love and knows it by heart. Really, what else is there?

Easier to ask forgiveness than permission...

There was a flyer in my door this weekend that informed us that we have a halfway house for convicted felons that moved very silently into our neighborhood recently. We were given a list of emails addresses and phone numbers so we would contact city officials and the business who leased the house.


I contacted the person who has started this business by email. He is no stranger to our community and I have butted heads with him before. This is religious-based organization trying to help convicted felons get back on their feet when they are released from prison. We worship the same God but that is about all he and I have ever agreed on. He complemented me on the tone of my email - I admit I was careful - and asked me to introduce myself to him at the EasierToAskForgivenessThanPermission meeting next Monday night.


It finally hit the front page of the local paper this morning. This is one of the smaller houses in the neighborhood - probably 1200 sf and there are 11 participants and 1 house monitor living there. Within 50 ft of the the front yard, there are 3 bus stops and the neighbor park which you could throw a walnut to from their front yard. With so many empty properties available, why they chose to pick a family one is beyond me. I agree that these folks deserve a second chance. It is not fair to the neighbors and it is not fair to the people who are trying to start a new life.


This world is a scary place and sometimes it seems we shoot ourselves in the foot and then ask why it hurts. It sounds like it may be personal for this man too. The paper said his son had been in prison on drug charges. I understand what he is trying to do but to the lady next door with kids who is terrified to let her kids go outside or to the park to play, who has the greater right ?


Interestingly enough, this issue came up last week in neighborhood close by where they had a community meeting for a pending halfway house and the pressure was so great that the man leading the charge backed off during the meeting. We are all going to have to come to some kind of agreement where both sides can feel safe, I don't' see this issue as going away any time soon.


I will be there Monday night - whether I introduce myself to Mr D or not is yet to be decided. The thing that really bother me is the sneakiness of the whole deal - if they thought this was a good thing, why not invite us all in for cookies and hot cider to see their program in action? I know why, you know why and they know why. Easier to ask forgiveness than permission is no way to do business, God's or anybody else's...

halloween 2007


We spent 5 billion dollars on halloween this year - that is up 50% from 2 years ago. It sounds almost unbelievable until the same stats sayers tell us that we will spend a combined 475 billion dollars on Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah in the next few months.

That is a long way from your mom and dad's halloween. As a kid, I knew that every year I would wear the jeans that fit at the time, add one of my dad's shirts, tie a scarf to a stick and voila!, a hobo. Never mind the costume, it was worth it for the candy. The candy was what it was all about. I could not think any further - just candy.

After we started going to church in the late 70's, we learned about the dark side of halloween of which I literally had no idea about. Now days the church is good with halloween and have parties, scary costumes and all. I still have strong feelings about it but now having the grandkids, I have returned to the halloween of my childhood.

We have three parties tomorrow, 2 school ones and then we are going to party at home, taking turns answering the door and checking out all the costumes. The weather is always hard to predict and this takes care of worrying about it. Since we have a pirate, a BSU football player and his matching cheerleader. I am a BSU fan and papa is a pirate - all bases will be covered. I also promise not to go thru the kid's candy and taking all the good stuff FIRST and leave them with what is left.
We have done our part to contribute to halloween's 5 billion expense, now...on to the 465 billion dollar Christmas...

mojo...



My mojo has been on high alert for the last week. With my three photo shoots last week, it kicked into high gear and has continued on into this week. I was checking out frames at Target, waiting to meet the kids at Costco for lunch when I turned and headed for the end of the isle and saw this. I have never bought a canvas - never have I been as attracted to something made of fabric and paint but this, I couldn't leave the store without it - Thank God, my birthday is next month - would have been difficult to justify it in the grocery budget.

I am not sure I would have seen it if it wasn't for the mojo thing. I read Cathy Zielze's blog a few weeks back about having certain tools for a season. Life tools, in particular she was talking about all the times she tried to diet and it just didn't work. This time, she had some new tools and it is working better. I think she may be on to Something. The first thing I thought about was 11 years ago when 13 of us started a church.

When I look back, those tools that I had then are no longer with me or my DH. They truly were seasonal to get us thru. We had no idea what we were doing but as we stepped up the the plate, God gave us what we needed. Four of us went to California to pick up some things they were donating to get us started. I heard my husband preach what turned out to be a sermon in front of complete strangers. The three of us were flabbergasted. He has not done it since.

I wound up playing the tambourine and had the time of my life. I loved our Saturday night practices and Sunday mornings were a blast. When the congregation grew to several hundred, it was time to move on. Today over 1000 people show up every week - there is no way I could play now. The point is, I had the tools to do it when I needed it.

It puts life in a different perspective. When this creative thing came my way, I didn't understand that it would be intermittent. I thought if one was creative - it would come everyday and maybe, in some small way it does and I just don't recognize it. It is not about producing but it is all about the process.

The canvas is on the wall in my office. It is perfect. I had already planned to have one of my favorite sayings made into wall art - Sally Jean says, Sometimes - there was a storm in her brain. She also reminds me about the emotion of the dry times of creativity, If I don't make art soon, I'm going to have a hissy fit. How true, how true. For however long this season of mojo is here, I am going to make the most of it, How great would life be if we lived a little everyday? I plan to find out...

homeless...



Not able to sleep the other night - that happens when you get older. I can't sleep for more than 4 or 5 hours at a time anymore. I use to be able to sleep all the time - this feels plain weird. Anyway thanks to cable, there is usually sometime to pass the time. I landed on MSNBC's, Nowhere Like Home series that follows families who find themselves living in shelters and how their everyday loves played out.

In all the craziness of my bio family, we were never homeless as it would be described today. One year, we moved 26 times. We lived in a nice 3 bedroom house but lost that to live in multiple apartments. While the house held bad memories, it was still a house with a yard and some measure of privacy. Apartment life was foreign, felt confined and you lived in community whether you wanted to or not. Later in life, my father would be homeless, living on the streets and I would not let him stay with us.

This show was extremely difficult to watch. I have reoccurring dreams of not having a place to live. Being out in the cold with no end in sight, Watching this show was like the real life version of the familiar dream. For whatever reasons that people become homeless - because of abuse, financial choices or a combination of things, I always wonder about family and support. By the time they get to the shelter, have they lost all their support? As I watched families with kids, I can' t imagine not letting my kids and grandkids not share the space, food,whatever that I have. However because of the experience with my dad, I can understand how the support can be too big of a burden to share.

When my dad was living on the streets, I knew he would not be staying with us. It came to down to safety for my family and I couldn't bargain that down. Oh, there was guilt, both form inside and outside. A man who had worked for my dad gave me a good tongue-lashing about how bad of a daughter I was. Later this man would take my dad in his own home and after his experience with him, came back and apologized to me. Sure it gave me back some of my dignity but it also made me thankful that I didn't let guilt run the show.

Homeless now is a little different than 20 years ago. People are becoming homeless at rates faster than we have ever seen and for many more reasons. We are living in a health and wealth
society.

OPEN, OPEN, OPEN
Buy now - pay later.
Instant gratification isn't fast enough.

It is haunting to think of yourself as homeless. Close your eyes. Imagine being cold and hungry, imagine living in a small room with only a fabric curtain between you and the next guy and imagine not so much as a nickel in your pocket. Even worse, knowing that you have no support. No one to call, to listen or to care. I can almost feel the bone-chilling cold. Riding the subway in the dark of night, trying to sleep but having to keep one eye open for those who would harm you. Can you imagine what that must be like? I hope you and yours never have to find out...

listen...


I will admit I wish I was a better listener. It is an under - rated tool - one that could help me if I had a better handle on it.
We all take listening for granted. Whether listening to your boss go through yet another explanation of how he wants something done to a teen who has turned off his listening ear long before his mother started speaking - for the most part, when listening - we are on auto pilot.
There is also an internal type of listening which we treat with about the same respect as our external listening. It can warn us of danger, and other issues related to health, both physical and emotional. Sometimes it comes and you know, you need to pay attention.
Mine came this weekend in the form of needing a good cry. I am not a cry baby, far from it. In fact, I can't tell you the last time I did cry but I can remember how I felt afterwards. By the time I am in in a full-blown cry, there is a sense of relief and wellness. It is like a weight has been lift off my shoulders and there is a feeling of a good kind of emptiness. With DH working everyday since the beginning of September, there has been a sense of being brave and Buck up little camper but I have seen signs of oozing emotions. There is nothing I can do to change the situation but I had never thought about a good cry. Not sure how to speed the process along but now that I am aware, it should come naturally in its own time.
We use our ears to listen to music which can make the spirit soar and can bring that same soul, to the point of sobbing. Whether listening to a friend who needs a place to vent, or reading the true vibe in a child's story, the art of listening may be our most important resource. Think back to times when you felt someone heard you, really heard you. For me, those times made me feel validated. I was happy as a result of being thoroughly and completely, heard. Can't imagine that listening to our bodies would not bring the same results.
So when my good cry comes, I will be ready. Actually, I am looking forward to it. Not necessarily from a sad event, I have had times where I was laughing so hard, it turned to big tears. If that is the case, I can hardly wait...

playing hooky...



Mr H's dad is a teacher and probably has had his fair share of excuse notes but does he know there is a company that sells them?
For about $25 the Excused Absence Network has your back. Students and Employees can buy excuse notes that appear to come from doctors or hospitals. Other options include a fake jury summons or authentic-looking funeral services program complete with poems and a list of pallbearers.

I understand the funeral service one. The company I use to work for, that DH still does, requires a funeral program to get funeral pay. Apparently more that one person has lost a relative, more than once. How sad are we as a nation when our word about the death a loved one falls on deaf ears because of our own behavior?

...the web sites show pictures of people sunbathing and playing golf using the fabricated excuses. One testimonial says, " I've managed to take the nine weeks off using these templates! It couldn't be easier!"

My personal job history is pretty short. Twenty five years with one company - 5 months with the other. The first one is still backwards. This is a multi billion dollar company - no little fly by night place. They just ratified another union contract last Friday that will bring a 3% raise and will double our health insurance. There are no paid sick days (never has been but if you are sick more than 3 days, you have to bring a doctor's note). Vacation pay is handed out once a year and is based on 1/52 of total hours worked for the year which in the 41 years that DH has worked there, never adds up to a regular 40 hr week.

Millions of Americans work dead-end jobs, and sometimes they just need a day off...People are going to lie anyway How many people go visit their doctors every day when they are not sick because they need a note?...
Maybe they have a point. DH hasn't had a day off since September 3 and it isn't looking good until Thanksgiving. He hasn't seen his grandkids. That is what we need - a grandkids template. I bought him a Halloween costume so we are hoping...but we won't know until about 5PM on Halloween night.

The last company I worked for - had it going on. I had 12 days of pay to use however I wanted in those short five months. They could have cared less and no excuses were necessary. Of course, I was hired a month after a company wide layoff and the department I was in was outsourced shortly after I left. So much for the VP of Legal telling me I could back anytime.

As for the The Excused Absence Network - I have got to give you an A for creativity. You guys will do well in this adventure. With the new privacy restrictions on medical information, people probably will not get caught. It is cheap and easy. Think of all the sunbathing and golfing out there just waiting... but I hope I will never, ever need your services...