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Warning….

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There are many warning signs.  Usually in public buildings, the locks for a single restroom is in the door handle.  You turn the handle and the door unlocks automatically.  One bathroom in a hospital had a deadbolt on the door and no lock on the handle.  There was a huge sign on the door “Before you start panicking and screaming and pounding on the door– unlock the deadbolt and you will get out.”  Why someone had put a sign up rather than changing the way the door locked is beyond me.

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Signs are there to help us know the dangers.  It helps us to know where to be cautious so we won’t be in danger.  The signs on the road told the grade of descent, it said to slow down for the curve.  Apparently too many truckers didn’t heed the warning because there were these wonderful pictures of trucks turning over which really caught my attention!

There are times we don’t get warnings.  The first Sunday in December, my husband and I were heading out to the car to go to church.  He had just been outside not 10 minutes before.  The weather had changed in that short time.  It had become dangerously slick and I went flying through the air and landing unceremoniously in slush on the cement on my knees first and then my whole body.  I got us and had to change as I was wet and sore and upset with myself for not noticing the danger.

We often get into trouble either because we ignore signs, don’t see signs, or can’t interpret what the signs mean.  These signs can be signs we read with our eyes.  These signs can be what we read in people’s moods or in their heart.  A new year is here.  If you find yourself in trouble over and over, get a friend to help sort out what signs you are missing.  Take time to breath and look around and see the world as it is – not how you want it to be.  Help others see and read the signs so that their day will go better.  Life is short.  Enjoy your faith journey with open eyes.

When words fail you.

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This sign was at church.  The first time I saw it, I said to myself “I’ve had some days like that.”  Nothing I said would come out of my mouth right.  My brain had wonderful thoughts and what came out was gobbledy gook.

Someone had knocked the sign down.  What once was  giving great information now looks like extra letters from Scrabble or Upwords.  There are times in our lives that words fail us.  It usually happens at times of great emotion – both grief and joy.  It can come when we feel knocked down and unable to get the words out about how we feel – or even admit it to ourselves.  We stand up and we try to go on and it just doesn’t work so well because things are so jumbled around.  Read more…

Life lessons learned from knitting

I have been working on a project for a family member for many months now. It was to be an October birthday gift and I am hoping to give it at Christmas. Here is what I know to be true about life and knitting.

1. Read all the directions first. My grandmother taught me to knit and crochet by looking at the pictures and figuring out what the stitches were. Years later I learned to read the directions. I still think I can figure out what is needed by just looking at the picture and not reading all the directions. One needs to know the bigger picture so that each row and stitch will be in the right place – otherwise you really won’t end up with a project that is in the picture.

2. Be prepared to “un-knit”. Ripping out mistakes is hard – especially when you have about 20 inches of fine wool thread. However, ripping is as important in crocheting, knitting and sewing and doing the project. Be honest about what is a mistake. Be willing to redo it and make it right. It is important. Mistakes happen. Fixing them needs to happen too.

3. Crocheting is easier than knitting. I work very fast on all things. Sometimes knitting seems to make the project twice as long compared to crocheting. Yet there are things that knitting provides a look that crocheting doesn’t. Sometimes one has to take the harder road in life to get things done.

4. Celebrate the project. I can see each mistake in whatever I do. I know where I failed. Yet hopefully the person who is receiving the gift will cherish it. My daughter once knit a dishcloth. It was supposed to end up a square. It had a bound hole in the middle and was a trapezoid. She said “I’ll give it to grandma – she loves everything I make”. Grandma just passed away but in her kitchen is still that dishcloth. One needs good givers but more importantly one needs good receivers for gifts to be appreciated. 

5. Nothing is easy. Be prepared for it to be deceptively hard and take a lot longer than you plan. When building one is supposed to add 20% of time and money. If you don’t plan for it to take longer, all the mistakes that happen will drive you crazy. Take a deep breath. Plan to take time. My mother would always make us new outfits for Christmas but sometimes they weren’t finished. She would wrap the goods, the pattern and the buttons etc and put the package under the tree. We would open up the “present” we would be getting and hand it back and get the finished product when she got to done.

One needs to see the big picture in life. One knows there will be mistakes and it may take longer than you think. There are easy things and hard things in life. We need to celebrate each and how we actually finish things. Life isn’t easy but it really fun to share with those who celebrate all that you are and do. 

Coulda Woulda Shoulda

When I have been with people agonizing over decisions, I ask “What can you do with the least regrets? 5 years from now what will be the consequence of doing or not doing something? Tomorrow or next year will you deeply regret not having done this or will you be glad you didn’t do something?” 

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Today we saw a skiff of ice on the lake. It won’t stay but it has been that cold to drop the temp of the water. It will soon be ice all over the lake. I saw a snowplow today going down the road. I really haven’t looked at the weather for a few days but it was a surprise to have snow on Saturday even if it melted soon after sunrise. I was thinking “Have I done all I need to do or want to do before the snow flies? What do we need to do before Thanksgiving?” 


I am pondering the coming of winter when out of the blue my husband calls and says “If you want any more crane photos, they are on our friend’s farm.” I thought the cranes were all gone. I thought they had all migrated. This was an unexpected surprise. I was in the middle of a project. I know the birds wouldn’t stay long. Would I regret not going? I grabbed my camera. I went to the spot. I got out of the car and stood as still as I could. 


One of the cranes started alerting to my presence. They have this distinctive sound. The bird kept calling and calling. I didn’t move but it didn’t make any difference. All of a sudden the whole flock of about 50 flew up in mass and away they went. I had just seen a friends post about reading a book by Elle Luna “The crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion”. The “should” are what we feel we ought to be doing or what is expected of us. “Must” is the thing we dream of doing, our heart’s desire.


I had followed my heart to see the cranes one more time. Actually as I write this we saw an even larger flock on another farm but I didn’t have my camera or time to stop. I was glad I had taken the time the other day. Even if we think we are making the best decision it may turn out not to be as great as we thought. Yet if I have made the best decision based on the information I have at the time, I know it should be without regret. As family gatherings come at Thanksgiving and Christmas, think about what you will give – both presents and in conversation. Do your best. Think of what coulda, woulda, or shoulda happen before it does and be ready to make your decisions.  

Anyone missing a screw?

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A couple of Sundays ago, I sat down at a table with my mom for fellowship time after church.  What greeted us was a nice fall arrangement and a screw.  “Somebody lost a screw” was her comment.  When you look up the phrase it can mean that someone is eccentric, strange or mentally deranged.  Knowing my mom, who never said a bad word about anyone, it was the giggle that it might mean someone was eccentric.

I was thinking about that.  Who or what is eccentric?  People that others have labeled “eccentric”, I find really interesting and quite wonderful to be around.  Who fits in?  Who doesn’t fit in?  I am not sure the goal should be to “fit in” as a chameleon or to lose oneself so one can belong.  I see groups that do that as being abusive to oneself and the dignity of being alive and human.  In some ways I know that I too haven’t “fit in” perfectly.  Some people have commented “they broke the mold when you were made”.  Even family will say “I really don’t know how your mind works, but I understand and enjoy it.”

I don’t think there is a “normal” anywhere.  People don’t quite fit clothes “off the rack”.  One size in one store isn’t identical to a size in the next store.  It can be close but not perfect.  My mother sewed my clothes – or I did so they would fit.  You made it fit as it should.  I also sewed for my children.  One has a long length from neck to waist.  I have to even shorted Petite pants.  One size does not fit all.

I think everyone feels at some time that they don’t fit in.  Yet if we look outside ourselves for validation, we will always be looking and feeling empty.  Somehow we need to find the strength within and build from within.  At times that takes counseling, good self-help books and good friends and family that will reflect back how we are coming off by our words and actions.  Unintentional consequences can somewhat be eliminated that way.

It can be scary to really look at oneself and see what we are truly made out of.  Using the image of a “glass half full or half empty”, think about the glass as refillable at any point.  Things in life empty us out and we need to refill them.  If the source of our refilling is also down, we need to find a way beyond ourselves for the moment but then go back to oneself.

I loved that little screw.  I focused on it rather than the arrangement.  Someone had intentionally put something pretty in the center of the table but but where did the screw come from?  Where was it going?  What was it supposed to be doing?  What functions could it serve?  Should I take it home to fit in a drawer of other screws about that size?  Should I leave it for someone to find or for someone to ponder its existence?  I chose to leave it.  I know I will probably never see the screw again.  I know I had to say goodbye to my mom this week as she died.  Yet in this time and space of this photo, I remember our laughs, I remember our conversations as if she is again sitting beside me smiling.

I’ll kick their furry little butts!

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I was really talking about Sandhill Cranes and they have feathery butts not furry butts!  Two years ago there were huge groups of Sandhill Cranes at the end of our road.  Every time we went anywhere, there they were.  I started to go early and take time with my camera.  Sometimes my automatic focus would focus on the corn stubble and not the birds so it took a while to get some get some really great images.

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Last year there were hardly any cranes.  There were 2 or 3 here and there but not the huge flocks.  This year we were gifted to see a young crane learning to walk and dance.  At first we thought the car in front of us had hit the poor baby.  We called the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo because we know there are coyotes around and an injured baby would be supper.  Both parents were there and we were told that the young are rather ungainly and awkward when they are learning.  Our farmer friend let us know the next day that all was well with mom and dad and 2 baby birds.  We got to see the whole family from time to time and the maturing of the babies.

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This year again there weren’t many Sandhill Cranes to be seen at one time but there were 2 or 3 or so every so often.  I expected the huge flock might show up when the fields had been picked but saw nothing.  I would go early and take my camera and take time to watch the few cranes that were there.  As time went on I stopped carrying my camera and I didn’t go early.  I had some great photos of 2 and 3 at a time.  I thought the crane viewing was done for the year.  Then one day as I am running late, I come around the corner and on both sides of the road were huge groupings of cranes and as we went farther towards town there was another huge group.  I don’t know now many were there but I had no time to either go back for my camera or stay and get some great shots.

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It was then that I said “I’ll kick their furry little butts if I come by tomorrow and they are all gone!”.  Sure enough they were not there the next day.   I wasn’t traveling anywhere but I had my camera and I went in search of flocks of cranes.  There was not a crane to be found anywhere – not even 2 or 3!  My son’d comment to my “kicking furry little butts” was that my husband should take a video and post it to YouTube as I tried to kick their furry little butts.  Cranes are very skittish and even just stopping the car will make them walk away fast from you if not fly away.  I was upset with myself that I hadn’t had time the one and only day the Sandhill Cranes had come and I had missed the flock photo opp.

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I was down in the dumps for a while but a few days later, we came to the end of the road and there a group of Sandhill Cranes was in the field.  I had time this time to go back and get the camera and stay for a while.  For the next several days I went to the end of the road even if I wasn’t going anywhere.  At that point I began to get fussy about stopping.  How many photos of cranes does one really need in a year?

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The cranes have now all gone for good as they prepare to head for their winter abodes.  I thought about my being upset and trying to “kick their furry little butts” and realized that the cranes weren’t the problem, I was.  My schedule and my expectations and my being in a hurry had been the issue.  The cranes were just being cranes.  It is fun when you see them over and over (I really don’t know if I saw the same cranes every day) but there are personalities.  Some are not as skittish and some that are more curious.  Some are kind of bossy and bullies and some are not.  Some ignore everything going on around them.

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I don’t know what next year will bring but I am ready to expect the unexpected.  I will give myself time with the camera even if I don’t know anything will be waiting for me.  I promise I won’t threaten to kick their furry little butts next year or any year.  We often complain about people/things outside of ourselves when the issue and problem is really within us.  We project onto others that THEY are the problem in our lives when it really is an issue of our own making.  I know that I wasn’t mad at the cranes as much as mad at myself for not having the camera or time when the opportunity finally came.  I know it is better to look in the mirror rather that outwards at others when I feel upset.  I can find the answer and deal with it and change the situation when it comes from within rather than rage at that which is outside of me.

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Do you listen to the little nudges and whispers in your life?

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Every once in a while, I get this thought that comes flying across my brain.  It says something like “You should call so and so.”  When I listen, and call, the person often says “You know, I just had my hand on the phone to call you!”  One time I thought of calling my sister and I picked up the phone and there she was.  She had been calling me and the first ring hadn’t even gone through and there I was answering the phone.

There are also times I get this nudge and don’t listen.  Today we took the boat off the lake and out for the season.  We went for one last ride.  It was really windy on the lake especially when going fast so I put my jacket on so it wouldn’t fly out of the boat.  I saw a cleaning cloth we were going to use later laying in the boat across from me and the thought went through my mind “If it is windy enough to take this jacket out of the boat, I should pick up that cloth.” But I didn’t pick it up and about a minute later it went flying out of the boat and we never found it even when we turned back to get it.

I should know I should listen but sometimes things come so fast and I am busy already doing something else and I don’t write it down right then that I forget or don’t have time.  Of course later on it is clear that I should have done THAT thing that just flew in and out of my brain as it was more important than what I actually did.

There is a discernment process. There are times I write things down and then think about or check it out.  Looking over the list, I realize the nudges get me to another idea which is the real thing needing work.  I know it is the subconscious that gives nudges and whispers.  I know that when traveling, all of a sudden I will think of something and sure enough when I back track when I thought about it was when I was passing the store I was thinking I might need to stop at.  Somehow my subconscious could see it when my eyes couldn’t and let the brain know “Hey think about this and be aware of it because you just went by what you were looking for.”

I don’t know why it is so hard to trust those nudges and whispers.  I know they are right so much of the time and they send me in good places.  I sometimes feel too busy or distracted and there I am missing an opportunity that I could have used.  When whispers and nudges come as if the flood gates are open, then I know I have way too much on my plate and have to back off on the schedule the old fashioned way with setting goals and time management.  Do you get those nudges and whispers?  Are they the right things you need?  I hope they are helpful and get you to the good places you need to be and help you get your tasks done in a timely manner.

 

 

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