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Why is it always ME?

It seems that I am always the one who has to change the toilet paper. It doesn’t matter if I am home or out and about. We went to our favorite restaurant. I have had to change it so many times, I have asked that they keep a supply in the bathroom. Sunday was no exception. It was Mother’s Day and this mother was the one that found the tube empty and a new roll not on the dispenser.

The other day I had to put a new roll on in all three bathrooms! It is just my husband and me and I am the one that is left to change it!

When we got married, 38 years last Thursday, I found out that he folded the towels from the dryer in 4ths and I folded them in 3rds. I discovered that I could have it my way or I could have help. We would look at where we put the towels each time we moved and would see if 4ths or 3rds were more appropriate. He still doesn’t do the 3rds the way that I do but when you put them up to use they are usually open.

The same deal was in cooking, cleaning and other chores. We had a chores chart for the kids but not necessarily for us. We divided the labor – again it depended on where we moved to and what age the children were. If you need help you have to ask for it and negotiate what is fair.

When I was on bed rest and 1 month from delivering our 3rd child, my husband and I were working as a team at church and at home. I was so frustrated that I had all this stuff to do and I couldn’t do it so I made my husband lists “to do”. His comment was “You aren’t the only horse in this 2 horse hitch.”

Sometimes we need to take a step back and see – Do I really need to do this alone? Do I really need to do it my way? How do I ask for help? It this a “task” that just needs to be done and it doesn’t matter who does it?

Many computer program have algorithms that decide how things are run. I believe the Universe has an algorithm that it will always fall to my lot to change the toilet paper not matter where I go. I have made peace with that. I know that my changing the toilet paper is not a hard task. One can do it while seated. I know that many people that come after me won’t even know I did this deed but will appreciate having toilet paper. I also know that there are people doing things for me that I don’t even know about. I know the cooks in the restaurant make my food “vegan”. I know that the waitresses work hard and they are so sweet to come and chat and say “hi”. I no longer have to ask for toilet paper nor do I tell them that I changed it. In the grand scheme of things this is an easy “do” on what the Universe has given me as a “to do” list.

Do you have things that always seem to fall to you? Does it grate or have you made peace with it? Let have a discussion.

To knit or un-knit – that is really the question!

This is a semi easy pattern to knit. You do a Yarn Over going one way and Pearl on the row coming back. Every once and a while I would make an error. I couldn’t just rip (by pulling out the offending yarn rows back to where I had made a mistake) down to the offending row, I have to unknit each stitch painstakingly for sometimes 2 – 4 rows back. I think I could have made 2 of these in just the time I did one because I went back almost more than I went forward sometimes. I would watch TV and just knit. I can do the dishrags in my sleep and as this was also a repetitive pattern, I got over confident about what I was doing and didn’t watch closely enough.

It is true that whether you knit, crochet or sew, you have to rip sometimes to make the end project what you really want to have. Sometimes it may seem easier to start over again. I am now on my third time through this shawl pattern. Although it can be a mindless type repetition, I now know when I am off almost immediately and can go back just a stitch or 2 rather than a row or 2.

In life, it isn’t easy to “undo” what you have just done. We become proud of what we did and shame in taking it all apart. When I was in seminary, I would bring projects when it was close to Christmas time. I would ask for permission from the instructor. One class was called “Peace and Justice”. I noticed when I was almost finished that I had made an error about half way back. I just started to wrap all the yarn in a ball as I took out row after row. My seminary professor finally stopped lecturing and turned to me and said “STOP. This is a peace and justice class and you are destroying what you just made.” Sometimes you have to destroy so you can redo it right.

I was just married and my mother-in -law was staying with us. She had just started an afghan as a Christmas project but she had started wrong. It was so obvious that I pointed it out to her and she said it would be fine. She always took a long bath and I knit fast so I undid her project and was 1 row from getting back to where she had been when I was caught in the “act”. She didn’t talk to me for about 12 hours and then only said “You were right”. I almost lost my relationship with a great woman and mother-in-law but I knew she wouldn’t give a project that didn’t look good as a Christmas present. I didn’t want her to spend weeks on something that wasn’t up to her great standards. Starting a project is really the most important part. The next important part is to be willing to rip out the mistakes.

This can also be true in writing. You writing something and just before you turn it in, you see a glaring error or 2 and just have to redo the project. This can also be true if you loose your way or the GPS doesn’t work well in your rural area. There have been times I was sitting between two fields and it says “You have arrived at your destination”. I would call my “destination” and have to go back and redo my steps in order to get to my “destination”. In order to make things right, we sometimes have to take out or undo what we have just done.

You can leave a comment about your “undoing” or “redoing” that helped you understand your life’s journey. I believe that the Navajo weavers always made a mistake in their projects so as not to anger the gods. In many of my projects I have had so many mistakes I don’t need to worry about angering anyone but myself as I rip out the offending parts but I am always glad I did.

It would be pretty sad if you fell asleep during your own sermon!

I am a retired pastor that is part of a clergy couple. That means both myself and my husband were clergy – United Methodist to be exact. Kids of pastors are called PK’s which stands for Preachers Kids. Our kids were actually double PK’s. They have a unique set of growing up experiences. Sometimes we were appointed together so we served the same church. Sometimes we each had a church. We got along fine either way. I worried about our kids because when they were little, they were taught “Stranger Danger” at school but to them most of the time the world looked like church people they should know. When they were little and we were serving 2 churches in rather smaller communities, it did seem that you saw church people where ever you went.

In one small town, I would go to church and pray about my daily schedule and what needed to be done. I would walk the 3 blocks to the Post Office. It might take 1 – 2 hours because I would see on the way to the Post Office, at the Post Office or going back to my office all the people that I had on my list to call or talk to. By the time I got back to church, I was ready to make a new list of what needed to be done.

I was good at making lists. I am good at planning. I would work 6-9 months out on sermons, scriptures, hymns and special things. I would spend 2 – 3 week doing that 2 – 3 times a year. I would study the scriptures and have some dedicated time at looking through and seeing if I wanted a series or how I wanted things to flow. If there needed to be changes, I didn’t mind changing the schedule. I told people I enjoyed children and youth in worship and in the life of the church. I said that if I could live through my own kids, their children/youth wouldn’t be any trouble.

The youth in confirmation were called upon to do certain tasks in worship. One of them was lighting the candles. They wore a robe, learned how to use the acolyte (a long rod with a candle snuffer on one side and a wick to light on the other). They were called acolytes after the instrument they carried. During the beginning of the service they would carry the light in to represent Christ’s presence coming in our worship. During the last hymn they would light the wick from the altar candles and snuff out the candles they had lit at the beginning and walk out with a light. This signified that Christ leads us out from worship out into the world to be disciples and do works of piety, mercy, justice and service.

In education theory that I have learned from Christian Education, there are Multiple Brain Intelligences. People learn in different ways. Sitting in church listening to a sermon is one of the worst ways to interact with the message and youth/ children. I would try to coordinate the scripture, sermon, hymns, liturgy, children’s time and having given the choir director enough time, the service would feel coordinated and there would be many ways for people to feel, experience and live out the message. Sometimes you can “nail it” and sometimes it is a failure.

When our middle kid was in Junior High, it was confirmation/acolyte time. The acolytes would sit in the back and when the sermon was done they would put on their robe and get the acolyte and get ready to come up during the last hymn. I as preaching and I saw my child stand up and put a robe on. She sat down. A little while later she stood up and got the acolyte and then sat down. A third time I saw her stand up and sit down. After church, I asked her “What was going on?” Her response was “You missed 3 good opportunities to just quit preaching.” Later I looked at the sermon and sure enough she was right, I could have quit sooner and saved several points for another day.

One time our youngest was in the adult choir and all of a sudden everyone was standing up. He whispered to a tenor “Is this the last hymn? The answer was “yes”. “Did mom already preach her sermon?” Again the answer was “yes”. The tenor responded “That is really tuning out your mom.” Sometimes it happens. I would try to have spots in my sermon that if people’s minds had wondered off, they might get back into the sermon.

One year we had 3 services on Christmas Eve. There was a 6pm family service. There was an 8pm candlelight service and a 11pm candlelight service. We didn’t make the kids go to all the services. They had all chosen to go earlier so I was getting ready to go over alone to church at 10:45pm. I yawned and sighed. One of our kids asked if I was tired. I said yes. “If would be pretty sad if you fell asleep during your own sermon!” It would indeed.

I enjoyed my ministry and my family. I learned a lot by listening – even if all of it didn’t seem positive at the time. When our hearts and minds and souls are open, God can work in mysterious ways through many people in many settings. We just need to be open to the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t come like lightening, sometimes it come out through the mouths of babes.

Can’t you count me as a little cousin?

There are days when having an adventure is what you get, not what you planned. I was about half way home driving back from crafting at my sister’s house when I needed to stop for gas and go to the bathroom. I decided to do the later first and when I came back out to the truck, it wouldn’t start. Usually I had the car but my husband was on his way home from Missouri and whomever when the farthest to go, gets the car. I called him and we talked about my options. We have good jumper cables and I could ask for help to have the car jumped. I was parked almost at the end so that someone could come by my side to jump me. If that failed I could call our popular road service.

As I was pondering what to do, I saw a sign that said “Mechanics” wanted. It was a truck stop with real mechanics! I was elated. Then I saw a mechanic on his break. I said “Can you help me?” His answer was no. They only dealt with fleet vehicles. I said our insurance gives us a fleet discount because of the number of our vehicles and couldn’t they at least count me as a “little cousin” as I was a 1/2 ton pickup? He said I would need to ask someone to help jump me as I had cables. I must have looked like a lost little old lady and he took pity on me. He called the big roadside rescue truck up and it parked next to me. I took out my cables and he commented “Those are REALLY good cables!” I felt that was a compliment, especially from a mechanic. We tried several times and nothing happened. There wasn’t a grinding sound. There wasn’t a sound of the truck starting. There was nothing – no sound, no click, no nothing. It was something more serious that would need my vehicle to be towed.

I gave my thanks to the 2 mechanics and went to call our roadside assistance service. My husband paid online annually but the date of the renewal had been changed and we missed it by a week. I said I would just pay the whole year and did. I was told someone would come and be there in 2 hours. They kept being asked me if I was safe. I was safe. It is a 24 hour truck stop with a 24 hour burger joint. I was safe and warm. When they found out at the burger place why I was there, there were going to give me a meal free but being a vegan I could have the pop. 2 hours went by. I called when I saw on my app that the tow truck had turned around and wasn’t coming.

They said “Are you safe?” Yes I was. Luckily I wasn’t at a pump or on the side of the road. Another 2 hours went by. I called again and asked when someone could come. They said someone was on their way – again. Then the app showed that person turning around and another 2 hours went by. My husband arrived first. He had been on his way home from Missouri and was more than half way home when I got into trouble. We transferred my craft things from the truck to the car. The tow service said to leave the key under the mat. There were tools and other things of value so I said I would leave the key at the counter and lock the truck. It was 2 hours later and we were almost home when I got the call from the tow truck that they were finally there and were going to bring the truck to our mechanic. I would have then been waiting 8 hours and still had 2 hours to get home. I was informed that I could ride with the tow truck. I was just glad my husband had come.

They would probably have come sooner if I had been in an “unsafe place” but I was “safe”. My sister and daughter were over 2 hours the other way and had offered to come and get me but then my husband would have had to drive even farther and I was “safe”. Our mechanic knows our vehicles and keys so we told the tow truck where to drop it off. We called in the morning and found out it was the alternator that was dead as a door nail. It was fixed that day.

I am thankful I was safe. I was thankful that a tow truck finally came. I was thankful that 2 mechanics took time for a small cousin truck and tired to help. I was thankful to both the truck stop and burger place that I did have a dry and safe place to stay and wait for help. It was an adventure I hadn’t planned on. If my vehicle does ever break down in the future, I hope it is in a safe place and that help does come.

How many dead presidents does this involve?

When our children was younger, there would be times beyond their regular chores that we would ask them to do a task. Often that mean it was paid – not much – but something. One of our children would say “How many dead presidents does this involve?” which meant – which presidents and how many. They wanted to know before they started what we thought the task was worth to us – and to them – to have this task completed.

This child had learned that the time to bargain was before they started rather than during the task or after it was done. There usually wasn’t any trouble but it was the thought that counted. It seemed that bargaining was part of life. When this child went abroad for college study, they went to a country where bargaining was a way of life. They had a great time. I remember being in the Bahamas and not realizing that bargaining was a way of life. I looked at some t-shirts and noticed there weren’t any prices on them. I asked how much they were and the price was too high so I just left. They sort of ran after me and dropped the price as we left. I am a person that makes things and I feel that too often people aren’t willing to pay for what the item is worth. I didn’t want to bargain with this person in the Bahamas because I felt that a crafter is worthy of their fair pay.

Our church supports Red Bird Mission in Kentucky. They have a van that brings the mountain crafts to supporting churches. They pay a living wage to people to make their crafts. Many people come to a church bazaar or church craft fair expecting they can get good crafts for little or nothing. Many people would shop at the Red Bird Mission craft fair and see the prices and leave. We would try to explain that these were quality crafts and people were making a living wage for making them. 1 Timothy 5:18 It is just as the Scriptures say, “Don’t muzzle an ox when you are using it to grind grain.” You also know the saying, “Workers are worth their pay.”

Many times in churches we raise money for good projects. It does mean that kids and adults have to ask their friends to sponsor them. The afor mentioned child was collecting money for a CROP walk in Aurora, Il. CROP walk helps end hunger one step at a time. CROP was started in 1947 by Church World Service and stands for Christian Rural Overseas Program. Its started out with the mission to help Midwest farm families to share their grain with hungry neighbors in post-World War II Europe and Asia. To this day it continues to help with hunger projects but have expanded their reach and scope. 25% of the funds raised stay in your community to fight hunger and the other 75% goes overseas for a specific project that is announced before the walk.

Our Junior High child raised more money than any of the other people on the walk – adults and kids. There were many approaches that were used but I remember one in particular. I remember listening to the speech about this adult sponsoring their walk. One adult said “What do I get if I do support you?” (There are people that don’t like to give money to even good projects overseas.). I will always remember his comment and the laughter from the adult. The comment was “If you give me money, I will go away.”

Sometimes I fail to ask “How many dead presidents does this project take?” before I start into something. There have been times I felt I got burned but part of it was that I didn’t feel comfortable bringing up money and bargaining about it. There are other times that I have been doing work for great projects and have failed to challenge others to help with the goal. If we believe in something and we know that it is something that is needed, maybe we need to be stronger in our ask and in the questions we ask before we get invovled.

What do you think? Have you had similar situations? How did they work out?

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly.

I played the guitar for camp campfires for years. I tried to get my kids to learn to play. Two weeks before one of them started as a camp counselor, they asked me to teach them the guitar. Needless to say, in 2 weeks you had a pretty good beginner but not an expert. As we were dropping her off at camp, the head of the camp said to me, “When she gets good, I’ll have her play for the campfire.” My comment was to the effect that they wouldn’t have a guitar all summer.

I said to him, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly.” He looked at me and questioned my sanity. I knew that at a campfire, the guitar sets out on a key and the tempo which may or may not be matched by the singing voices. The kids were interested in the S’mores and fooling around for the last hurrah before bed time. There wasn’t anyone else of the counselors that played any instrument. I said “If you just have her play, she will actually be good within a few weeks – at least for what she and you want at the campfire.”

If it was a musical concert for a Senior grade or audition, then one would need to really practice and get good before doing something publicly. At night, around a campfire, and in the dark, the quality of the music is not what is desired. It is to start the song, get the tempo and get everyone involved and having fun singing. All of that is more important than the quality.

Later in the summer I saw the director at a meeting. He looked at me in amazement and said “You were right, She is great now.” I had tried to teach my college education peers to do autoharp in their classrooms if they didn’t have a music teacher in their school. People had told them over and over that they couldn’t carry a tune or sing and they lived into that expectation. I believed in them. Every one starts out with 3 notes “Nah, Nah, ne Nah Nah”. The rest is expanding the range and the quality. Most of them succeeded by the end of our time together to keep trying. Some never tried and just gave up.

Sometimes we fail to try things because we don’t know them. We fail to try things because we know we won’t be any good at it – at least right away. There are very few people that can be accomplished the first time they try something. Fear of failure can keep you from having fun and exploring new things. Hence my saying “If it is worth doing, it is worth doing poorly.” Try it. The photo above was one of about 10 that I took of the same sky. Taking just 1 means you might miss something great. One has to look at an image and take different perspectives, different view points, and even try something new in order to really get that great shot you see in your mind.

Be willing to fail. Be willing to try new things. Be willing to learn and grow.

“You can just fire me” or ” You can discern your spiritual gifts lie elsewhere”

I was talking to my pastor about a new endeavor I was willing to try and learn at church. I was giving permission for the fact that I might not be good at it. I said “You can just fire me!” With love and grace came these words “Or you can discern that your spiritual gifts lie elsewhere.”

I got these open hands pictured in the photo in Cherokee South Carolina. I have a book by Henri Nouwen “With Open Hands”. Open hands reminds me that with closed fists we can’t receive God’s grace or blessings. You also can’t hang on to what will lift you up and save you. I have participated with the Mennonite practice of discernment at a retreat. It was an intense and life changing experience for me and those in the group.

That experience was a number of years ago and in its place for me is the Ignatian principles for making prayerful decisions. We are complex people with complex issues and sometimes things aren’t so clear nor are answers forthcoming. I offer these guideline from the Marquette website to see if this might interest you so that you can use them as well.

It starts with 7 attitudes: 1. Openness, 2. Generosity, 3. Courage, 4. Interior Freedom, 5. A habit of prayerful reflection on one’s experience – the examen of Consciousness, 6. Having ones priorates straight and 7. Not confusing ends with means. Next is 3 distinct times to do this: one when you have certainty about wat to do, or feeling inner conflict or you are absolutely clueless about what to do. Then there are 7 practical discernment techniques. For more you can google Marquette Ignatian Guidelines.

I was in the process of discerning which of my new opportunities I should be focusing on for the next 6 months. This method is good for day to day decisions as well as big decisions. Since I retired, I have not always used the deeper spiritual practices. Then came the riots and insurrection of January 6th. What I had felt I was making decisions on seemed small and insignificant. I am now in the process of using discernment for how I will respond to that day, the rioters, the congress people and those I know. I have responded to my congressional people – I write once or more a week to share my thoughts anyway. This is different. I immediately shared some posts on Facebook and Twitter. Now I feel frozen. I am in the process of discerning what to do next.

I know I am going to make sure of the sources I am sharing to make sure they are true. I am NOT going to be silent or just on the fringe of discussions. I helped with the 2020 November election calling people. I am going to try to continue to be active. I am trying to use my spiritual practices – Ignatian discernment and my Protestant Prayer beads. I know I must go deeper with open hands so that I am stable and strong in who I am and am healing.

There is a story about a young boy who was hitting an inflatable clown punching bag. Every time he hit it, it went down and came back up. His father asked why he thought that happened. The young boy said, “I think that the clown is standing up on the inside.”

January 6th 2021 made me feel like I was getting gut punched over and over. I am in the process of trying to heal myself inside so that I can stand up on the inside and the outside. Only then can I truly listen and not just hit back. I need to speak truth about a terrible insurrection and almost loosing our democracy because a president I didn’t vote for and have hated every one of his spewing conspiracy theories and almost 30,000 lies sent people at his rally to do his bidding to get ride of the electoral college votes and people that opposed him. It isn’t just Trump but the Congress people that stood up even after the riot and still spewed lied about a free and fair election. It isn’t just Trump but so many people that are willing to support a bully and liar with violence and insurrection.

I still feel afraid for what lies ahead for our nation. Between more violence possible January 17th and 20th and the Covid issue, I am uncertain about the future. I need to listen to others but it is hard to have a dialogue when others don’t care to listen to me and still believe conspiracy theories and lies that President Trump has shared – echoed in news media and social media. I need to share truth and make sure I stand up for social justice for all. I am working on keeping my hands open to God and seeking guidance for my future.

The open hands tell me I am not alone. The open hands tell me to reach out to others. The open hands tell me to hold the truth out to others to see. The open hands tell me to scatter the seeds of truth and let God do the growth.

The term “mix” should be self explanatory but it’s not.

This was my grandmother’s spoon. I was named after her and she taught me many things.

My mom’s mom taught me to knit and crochet and she tried to teach me to cook. You can’t really tell it but one side of the metal spoon is actually worn down from use. Aunt Emma lived on the farm and had a sugar cookie recipe that we did when ever we wanted a lot of cookie dough to do cut out cookies. I didn’t realize this until later in life that most other sugar cookie recipes only had 3 cups of flour – this one uses 6 cups. I had made sugar cookies with this spoon at grandma’s house when I was in grade school. I had made sugar cookies at our house with this spoon after grandma died and I wanted something to remember her by.

Every time we made sugar cookies the process was the same. Mom would give me the ingredients one at a time and I would “mix” them together. Fast forward to after college and I am living on my own on the south side of Chicago. I wanted to make sugar cookies for a teacher’s meeting/party we were having. I had just enough time to get them cooked because I lived across the street from school and I knew they would be warm but really good at the meeting.

The recipe had the ingredients listed and said “MIX” and that was all. I put everything into the bowl and took my trusty spoon from grandma but it wasn’t right. I called my mom in a panic and I said “I didn’t write it down right. I must have missed some ingredients!”. She found her recipe and read everything off and they were the same. I was in a panic “But it didn’t work!”.

There was a slight pause and mom said “You creamed the sugar first – right?” I almost screamed “It just says “MIX”! There was this sigh on the other end of the phone. She walked me through the whole recipe and they were baked and ready for the meeting/ party although I was a little late.

What I didn’t know is that all old recipes just said “MIX”. You were to know you creamed the sugar first and then added the next ingredient and the next. They were in the order you were to mix them – but mix them one by one instead of putting everything into the bowl all at once.

I have always marveled that the Christmas cookies we made were basically all the same ingredients. The amount and the order made them really taste and look different. The term MIX does need interpretation. I have found other people who are the children of these different ages of cooking. They have the old family farm recipes that say ‘MIX’ and then they have the new cookbooks that spell it out step by step. Today you can even watch YouTube for see how to do things. I believe that is because we aren’t close enough to “grandma’s” house to learn how to cook the way grandma did. There is something to be said to stand beside and with grandmas and learn from them. There is Zoom and FaceTime but there is something about you grandma’s hand over yours and the ingredients handed to you one by one that makes a world of difference.

It doesn’t always work though. My grandmother made the most wonderful divinity candy in the world. My mother did not. Every time she made dimity, it was a failure. One time grandma stood on the left side of the stove and mom on the right side. Each had the same size pan. Each had the same size spoon. Each put in the ingredients at the same time. Grandma’s turned out wonderful and my moms was a flop like it usually had been at our home.

MIX can also be misinterpreted in other ways. One time we had a group together and had 1 frozen can of pineapple and 1 frozen can of orange juice. I was in a hurry so I asked my husband to MIX them. As we are sitting at the table, I realized there weren’t 2 pitchers but just 1 large one at the table. I asked “Where is the other one?” His response was “You told me to MIX them.” I meant to mix one frozen can in a pitcher and then repeat the process in another pitcher. He put both cans in one pitcher and MIXED them.

What should be a simple word can be so complicated and misunderstood at times. With this new year, remember to “hear” people and do some active listening. In the case of the frozen juice cans, it would have been “Do you want me to mix both cans in one pitcher or mix them in separate pitchers?” Sometime arguments and bad misunderstandings come from not hearing what message was really being said or not speaking clearly to be heard. Take a breath and hear a sigh and find out what is really being asked of you or you asking of another person.

I don’t always sing, Oh wait, Yes I do

Me playing clarinet on TV in 1963

I don’t remember a time I didn’t love music. I was a music major in college in my 20’s trying to teach fellow college student in education classes how to play the autoharp. That was the first time I realized that not everyone could look at music on a page and hear it in their head and understand it and play it.

I started playing piano in 2nd grade. My piano teacher said to sing along with the songs. I did that then and just kept on singing. I taught myself to play autoharp and then taught my mother. She was a 3 and 4 year old Sunday School teacher and wanted to teach them songs. We would sing with the piano and learn the songs and then she would teach them to the kids. In 5th grade I started on the clarinet. In 6th grade I taught myself guitar so I could play at the campfires at camp. In college I played E flat and B flat clarinets.

In Junior high and Senior high I would play the Rogers and Hammerstein musicals – among other things. When I came home from school I sat down and played. If you would have taken my hands off the keys of the piano and asked me what I was playing, I couldn’t tell you. My mother said she could hear me work out the days frustrations. When it sounded like music, she knew that I was ok. I thought I was smarter than her because after supper, my mother said “You can help me do the dishes or practice your piano.” It wasn’t until years later that I realized it took her 30 minutes or more every night to do the dishes.

I loved musicals. I loved Disney and all the music they have given the world. I played clarinet in the stage orchestra for the community Fiddler on the Roof for 14 performances. I played for other musicals and was stage crew for them but never on stage singing in a musical. My children have and they have enjoyed being on stage, being stage crew and enjoyed music in many forms.

When my kids were in the womb, I would “play” for them on the piano every day and sing to them as well as read to them. I would play classical music in the car when I was pregnant and when they were toddlers on up. Thanks to my sister we also had plenty of Disney songs to sing along with and listen to. I also had tapes for night time to go to sleep with classical music. As they turned to adults, our children have said when they heard some classical music “That sounds familiar”.

One time our family was at Disneyworld and we went to the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast with Mary Poppins and Tiger etc. The characters came over to our table and asked if we knew any Jonas brothers songs and wanted to sing along. Our son said “No” but he knew Mary Poppins song. Mary Poppins invited him to sing and dance with her and they did it wonderfully. Mary Poppins and he sang and danced around the tables and he sang with Tiger. Other people were videoing the event but we just watched. Mary Poppins said as she left “You could give Bert a run for his money.”

While the High School band took a trip to California Disneyland, my son was waiting in a multiple hours wait line with his friends for a ride. They bet him that he couldn’t keep singing Disney songs until they got to the ride. He sang while they waited, he sang during the ride and he was still singing when he got off. Thanks sis for a great job in training him. He would go with my sister and mom to Disney on a regular basis and he was the motor pushing my mom’s wheel chair.

Many parents yell at their junior high and senior high kids to get up in the morning when they would rather sleep in. I would sit on the edge of their beds singing nursery rhymes and camp songs until they got up. My oldest daughters husband will say to her when she sings at the table “Now Barb, we don’t sing at the table.” My middle daughter was a camp counselor for foster kids at a summer camp and she had the 15 year old girls. One day she called in tears. “They wouldn’t get up this morning and I started singing to them!” She said “I have become my mother after all”.

Yes my mother was in musicals when she was in school. Yes she made sure I had music in my life (as well as my siblings). When I was little, I wouldn’t take naps so the doctor said “Play some music for her to go to sleep.” The first week she tried it, I dance through all the 78 rpm records she played. After that it did settle me down to sleep. Thanks Mom for all the music that has flowed through our generations.

Last year, my sister gave me a t-shirt for Christmas which said “I don’t always sing, Oh wait, Yes I do.” I think the world would be a much better place if people would break into dancing and singing. As the new year comes – sing – dance – enjoy the moment and life. Music makes the world go round and makes it a much better place to be when you are singing and dancing through life.

You only had ONE job

We set off each morning on a new adventure in life. Sometimes our path is successful, and sometimes we fail. This is a story about a temporary failure but a lesson learned in how to focus – even if you aren’t sure where your path will take you that day.

This day was one where I went alone to Walmart to get my husband’s medicine. I went first to the pharmacy and in my turn talked to the pharmacist and paid for my husband’s meds. We joked together and had a short conversation. I thought “As long as I am here maybe I should see if there is something I might need”. To no ones surprise I found other things to buy. My cart was filling up.

Because my hips and knees give me trouble, I use an electric cart to shop – especially on the days I want to browse. The problem is that late in the afternoon or night, many of the carts batteries are almost drained and in need of charging. Many a time I have been left in the back by the milk with no “juice” and have to wait for someone to come and notice me and get another cart.

This day I was left high and dry by the large TVs but fortunately there are lots of people there and soon someone was bringing a new cart but it was almost dead too. I quickly get my packages from the old cart to the new one and took off to check out. I was focused on the process of heading back to check out before I loose electric power on this cart when my husband calls. He informs me that the pharmacist says that his medicine is at the pharmacy. I say “I already got it” and he said “Can you check?” Sure enough, when I exchanged carts the small med package was missed and didn’t get put into the new cart. The person bringing the cart must have seen it and returned it to the pharmacy.

I go to the pharmacy and there is the pharmacist saying “You only had ONE job”. She knew that I had come just to pick up my husbands meds and somehow I had failed at my one task. We now laugh about it. At home, we now use this phrase when we fail to finish what we start or we become distracted on our original task.

We all get busy. We all get distracted. The movie UP has the famous line for the dogs “SQUIRREL”. We think we have done the task but we fail to notice that we haven’t really finished it completely to the end before we start something else. Many things can intrude on our originals tasks and goals.

What can help? Write down lists and check them off. We do that for our grocery lists and check them off. One can get other things but the essentials have to be gotten first. Focus on one thing at a time. My mother always told me that I multi-tasked before that was a word. Sometimes details get missed in being finished because I have checked them off in my mind before I really finish them. Sometimes working on several things at a time works and sometimes it doesn’t. We all get busy. We all loose focus. We all get curves through into our journey – like on the photo – and even when the road is marked for us, we can’t always see through around the corners as to what is coming.

When days are busy and overcrowded with emotion and stress remember to say “You only had ONE job”. That is to say that you make sure the most important things that need to be done do get done without all the little things distracting you from your goal or task. Do the task at hand and follow through to completion. No one is perfect but learning to focus when things are exasperating can make a big difference on getting the whole list done.

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