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She persisted

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We have bird feeders.  They are also inadvertently squirrel feeders.  The little red squirrels can tuck in on the perch and sit there and eat their fill.

The bigger squirrels have to find another way. I can’t tell if there are several or just one, but when they do go for the sunflower seeds, they sit on top of the bird feeder.  They used to hang on the empty suet basket on the side and eat their fill, so my husband took off the wire basket.  Hence they needed to find another way to get the sunflower seeds.

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This squirrel has learned how to sit on the top and reach down and get from the little hole that once held the suet feeder and take one sunflower seed at a time.  Think about it!  The persistence to sit there and sometimes slide off – one story to the ground – or catch the railing.  There were times that she could climb up the pole that holds the sunflower seed feeder but now she has to climb the pole for the suet feeder and jump over.  If the sunflower seeds are out, she will eat from the suet feeder. (I don’t know how to know the gender of a squirrel but for purposes of this post, I am saying “she”)

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Given that we are sort of “out in the wilderness”, one would think we would be overrun by squirrels.  In fact, at this time, we have only a few.  When we think she has monopolized the bird feeder from the birds long enough, we run her off – that is for a while.  She will be back.  She knows what needs to be done to get fed and she sets about doing it.

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I have been thinking about the squirrel and the squirrel’s persistence in getting the job done.  I have been emailing and calling my congress people almost every other day.  I didn’t think I was even being heard until yesterday when I actually got to talk to someone and sure enough, they had my record of all my emails.  I am just the opposite of 2 of the 3 people in congress.  I don’t know that I can change their Republican minds, but I am a constituent and I will be heard.  (Though from hearing Paul Ryan on the news he doesn’t care – we can talk until we are blue in the face and they will keep on marching their way.)

I sat down after that conversation with a live person and contemplated the conversation.  She quoted the dates and topics that I had emailed.  I felt so tired and discouraged and thought “It has only been 1 month that this administration has tried to devolve our nation and the world into chaos – how can I keep do this?”.  This little squirrel gave me hope and motivation to keep on keeping on.  Persistence matters.   You need to do what needs to be done and find the motivation that will keep you and others going.  So persist! Keep on keeping on.  I don’t think they are listening to me but I will keep on sending the message.  I don’t know what kind of conversation would even break into their world and make a difference but I will try – one email and one phone call at a time.

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We need to be kind to our planet and our children.  We can’t deny climate change – scientifically it is real and it may already be too late.   I have grandkids that I want to know have a planet to live on.  We can’t gut public school.  Private and charter schools have no mandates to care for the “tough” kids – the ones that act out and the ones that need special help.  They can just get rid of them like yesterday’s garbage.  We need public schools to have creative and critical thinkers who are the leaders and workers of tomorrow.  Without hope, we will devolve into chaos.  The book “Atlas Shrugged” seems all too real.  We can’t build pipelines that pollute water and the earth.  We can’t leave people without medical care – the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood need to exist.  We can’t let guns in our schools.  We can’t change the economy so poor and middle class people can’t exist and only wealthy people accumulate more wealth.  We have to care for the elderly and those who can’t exist on their own – age and mental illness is no excuse to throw away people.  We have obligations to others and to ourselves to stand up and make a difference.  “But she persisted” can be a battle cry for all as well as Elizabeth Warren.  WE need to persist.  We need to support those who persist.  We need to make a difference and be like the squirrel – one seed at a time – one email or phone call at a time – with that tenacity we WILL succeed.

Pathfinders unite!

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I love new fallen snow.  I love the look outside of the snow falling as if you are in a snow globe that is when I don’t have to go anywhere.  What I don’t like to look at, nor do I like seeing as I drive, is how the snow looks on the ground when it has become dirty and melting and icy and just yucky.  Yet that is a sign of a spring coming.  The ice is leaving from lakes and rivers.  You can almost hear the trees awakening.  Soon there will be new buds showing up on trees that will become leaves.  There will be plants popping up from a winter’s sleep.  I love winter and I love spring but the pathway between isn’t always an easy one.  Those seeking to be pathfinders need to unite.

Winter can be wonderful.  Spring, when it gets here, is really wonderful.  Transitions from winter to spring aren’t always so much fun.  My mother died in November of 2016.  I didn’t realize how much it would affect me and how much of a transition it would be and is.  The same is true for being retired.  I have so many things that I can work on and am working on that are great.  I really thought I could have a great business going with stamping and scraping.  I have opportunities but it isn’t like my dream/vision.

What surprised me about the transition in retirement is that I don’t feel like “being put out to pasture” just yet and still when “work” opportunities present themselves, I have said “no”.  I have skills.  I have resources.  I don’t know what to do with them.  Transitions are really, really tough.

At church there will be a workshop using the book “Designing Your Life:  How to build a well-lived, joyful life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.  I have read a little and so far, I am intrigued.  I am reminded of the book “Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life” by Gail Sheehy.  People could see where they were but didn’t know how to get to the next place and so came a number of books by Gail (most notably Pathfinders) as well as others helping people to make passages, pathways and transitions.  Designing Your Life at first reminded me of the book “What color is your Parachute?” by Richard N. Bolles.  Actually when I went to Amazon.com to find out how to spell his name, I found out there is a “What color is your Parachute: in retirement”?  Who knew there were so many resources out there?

How does one get from where they are to where they need or want to be when there isn’t a map and you haven’t lived it yet?  Part of the problem is not even knowing at first that you need resources or information or that you aren’t even moving.  It is like sitting in a car and if the motor is on, one thinks one is going someplace.  It is like only looking in the review or side mirrors and only seeing what is behind and not seeing what lies ahead.   How does one see to go forward?  It depends on where you are focusing.   Looking in the review mirror can be 20-20 hindsight but it really blocks the view of going forward.  Looking in the side mirrors too can distort the view ahead.  Looking in the review mirror or side mirror can be a good reference point but isn’t useful for seeing what lies ahead.

Look around.  Enjoy where you are.  If you are in winter – enjoy that.  If you are in spring – enjoy that.  If you are transition – enjoy might not be the best word – but take time to breath, find resources, and look for a way to the next place to be.  Find people and places that can help focus forward.  The resources are out there so take a deep breath and take a step of faith.

 

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.

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