Thursday, September 5, 2013

Birthday Jam

This summer Sophie celebrated her 100th birthday. Her kids (who, as you can guess, are no spring chickens themselves) threw her a big party at a local restaurant. In addition to the dinner, they wanted to send something home to the guests for them to remember this auspicious day.

Son Bob has an amazing garden which happened to be full of strawberries. He decided to make a small jar of jam for everyone from his own berries. He found the jars, designed the personalized lid, made the jam, and voila - he had an interesting practical gift for everyone. Assembling 75 jars of jam was a labor of love for sure -  unique, appropriate and fun. A great way to mark the moment.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Family Cradle

My husband (Jim)'s family has had cradle that has been passed down for five generations - starting with the era of his great grandparents and their siblings. It isn't the fanciest cradle in the world - more functional than glamorous. Somehow it has taken front stage for all these years as the place to be when you are born. It gets passed all over the country depending on who wants it and needs it at the moment. Our two daughters spent their beginning days in it as well.
Jim and I picked up the cradle recently in Reno where it had been awaiting the next baby. The call came from south Seattle (near where we live) from Jim's cousin's son - he and his wife are expecting. He had been in the cradle himself when he was young and his mom encouraged him to track it down. We brought it home and on Mother's Day, the expecting couple came by to pick it up. It brought back memories of our kids using it . Jim's sister-in-law made a list of everyone she knew who had used it and I know there are a lot more.

We were just lucky to be a part of this long tradition. Traditions need to start somewhere. Maybe now is the time for you and your family to find a special item to tag and share - a child's chair, a small table, a book, something that you have cherished or even discover and offer it to those who come after you. Our daughter had a little chair. When she had her daughter, I put both names on the bottom when I passed it on to the next generation. We'll see what happens from here. It isn't too late to think about starting something like this. It's a question of awareness and putting it out, then seeing what happens. It sure is fun being a part of a long lineage.

Monday, April 22, 2013

An Appreciation Circle

 My brother-in-law stopped by yesterday and told me this lovely story. He is on the board of a Gospel mission in a nearby town. One of the longtime board members was retiring after many years of service and connection with the program and other board members. The chair person asked the group what they could do to honor their retiree. Dave spoke up telling the group of the tradition of circling and expressing appreciations for special occasions that we do in our family. The chair person immediately resonated with the idea put the plan into action. She didn't even "introduce" the idea. She set up the chairs. led off with what she wanted to say and very easily and comfortably everyone in the group was able to share their gratitude for what this man had contributed to their mission. It was better than a plaque. Everyone participated. Each person had his/her own view of the retiree and a lovely verbal picture was painted of this man. All hearts were warmed in the process and the intention of the board was further solidified.

They didn't do anything extra - like a centering table - or a candle bowl - or a flower vase - or instructions. They simply took off with the idea and it worked beautifully..

Thursday, March 21, 2013

British Boarding School

My friend, Betsy, just returned from a trip to Florida to visit her elderly mother and 3 step sisters. Betsy's mom and her step dad had been married for more than 30 years before he died, so the girls had been long time friends as well as relatives. Betsy's mom, Anne, is living in a condo, but life is getting more difficult for her and she is getting more forgetful. Within this setting Betsy wanted to make the time with her mom as meaningful as possible. So, you ask,where do British boarding schools come in?
It seemed that it was getting harder and harder for Anne to track conversations going on around her, so the girls decided they needed to ask interesting questions and get their mom to tell her stories. The girls could chat when their mom wasn't there. When they were altogether, the girls would lead her into topics where they could be entertained by Anne's past. Anne grew up in England. At the age of eight she was sent to a boarding school. Those experiences were quite foreign to the American daughters, so they were very interested in hearing about what life was like for one so young. Anne had also done a lot of traveling with her first husband - all over the globe. The gals encouraged her to tell what she remembered of those times.
By looking for common ground for all of them and focusing on Anne, the daughters found something interesting that would connect them all.  Anne loved being the center of attention and appreciated that someone was interested in her tales. The girls created a win/win situation from a scenario which could have been frustrating had they not looked for what would work for Anne at this time.
With this focus, the trip took on a life of its own.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Answer Feather

Have you heard about the Answer Feather? This is a traditional healing tool for those who are seeking answers. Keep your eyes open for a feather as you are walking around. One will find you.When you are looking for guidance on a particular issue, keep your feather with you throughout the day. Your answer will become clear within a day or two. Offer thanks for the feather and release it back into nature. Feathers are gifts from our winged friends and can help us access insights. Generally we know the answer deep inside of us, but for some reason it is blocked. Trust this process which gives you opportunity to have your inner knowing surface and give you guidance. Give it a try and see what happens.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Moments Finding Me

I am just home from a service/learning trip to the Dominican Republic. Our reason for going was to help out and observe at the Doulos Discovery School in Jarabacoa. The week was amazing and incredible on many levels: we painted a classroom, left books for several libraries, had dinners in the homes of families whose children are attending the school, took a class on Strength Finders with the staff of the school, visited Spirit Mountain Coffee Plantation, made prayer flags and left them hanging at the school, planted plants around the new classrooms, created a mural on a wall in a public school classroom in the high mountains, enjoyed created community with the group of women - and I could go on and on - all in 8 days, The smiles of the children, the hospitality of the families, the patience of the staff, all touched us deeply. What I realized last night, as I lay in my own bed at home, is that I wasn't making the moments on this trip - meaning that I wasn't creating special things to happen. The moments were marking me - leaving indelible impressions on my heart. I was noticing and  allowing life to flow through me and registering the happenings as special. This hightened awareness also has an important place in our way of being in the world. That doesn't mean we can't step up to mark important milestones. It says to me that there is magic around all the time. It's there when we decide we can open our eyes to take it all in. An unexpected gift from the trip.

This little donkey has just finished carrying two 50 pound bags of coffee beans AND a person down the mountain to where they take the hulls off the beans. What a trooper he is!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

An Adventure

Tomorrow I am heading out to the Dominican Republic joining a group of 13 women to visit a school in Jarabacoa for a week. It is called a mission project, but with all the reading I am doing, I think it might better be called pilgrimage - having an opportunity to spend a week in an unfamiliar country where we will be allowed to mingle with the children attending the school. How lucky are we!

At this point, I am encouraging myself to be open to the possibilities of what might happen - attempting to leave expectations out of the scenario and go with the flow. For me that needs to be a conscious decision, otherwise I will have preconceived notions on how to fill the days rather than relax into the rhythm and flow of the culture and the school. I am willing and ready to do what is asked  - whatever that might be. Stay with me as this story unfolds.