Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Broadway Comes to Marion
Being the mom of college kids means you don't see them much. But it can also mean seeing your kids doing the things they love the most.

Redeemed Concert
My oldest performed a duet from Wicked with one of her best friends & helping lead worship at a concert with the group Redeemed.

In the ceramics studio

My middle daughter throwing a piece of pottery on the wheel in her college ceramics studio. I loved watching her eyes light up as she talked passionately about how to throw and glaze a piece.

IWU Jazz Band Concert
My youngest played tenor sax and clarinet in the Jazz band concert. She looks bored in these photos, but that's just because she isn't playing.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Off My Bookshelf: The Last Days of Cafe Leila by Donia Bijan

This week I finished, "The Last Days of Cafe Leila" by Donia Bijan.

I enjoyed this book immensely.
Noor is a wife, mother, daughter and sister, whose life has unraveled. She travels from California, back to her childhood home in Syria with her teenage daughter. From there she discovers her father is dying, and begins to see her purpose in life as something bigger and more selfless than she has ever realized. It is a story of how a family and its business became who they were and how societal violence ripped their world apart.

My favorite quotes:
"It seemed they had jumped the glass walls of the fish bowl to roam the room, while their mothers circled inside." 
"The floodgates opened then and they wailed openly and without restraint. It's not something they had planned, but that's how it is when you come to a clearing. How else to let go of all that was inside them?"
"Nothing between them now but a wound, not forgotten, not even forgiven, but accepted."
"Ferry came to lightly grasp her elbow propping her up, and she stood between her girls with a comforting arm around each, wondering how the story of her life would someday be etched into stone in the dash between two dates." 
"Maybe we don't really grow up until our parents die, she thought....Because if our parents didn't exalt us, we spend our adults lives blaming them - for not doing this and not doing that, not being "supportive," not making an appearance at our first recital, being overprotective or aloof, damaging our self-esteem. Yet at our best or worst, who sees everything? Who knows us best? Who waits and waits to see what we yet may be? Then one day they're gone and it's just you and there's nothing left to squeeze, no one to blame for the dismay over the course your life has taken. Once the tears have stopped, it's just the here and now and the desire to do better, to be closer to the person you want to be."
 "...I want to show you that our lives have meaning beyond the everyday things we dwell on. We play a part, however small, in the times in which we live - we are not here just for ourselves."

Thursday, November 23, 2017

5 Ways to Make Someone's Birthday Special

My birthday was this week and what started out as a normal Monday ended up to be a day of wonderful surprises. What I learned from this birthday is that it doesn't take much to make someone's birthday a little extra special.  All it takes is a little effort and a few minutes. Here's what I learned about how to make your family or friends feel loved on their birthday.

  1. Wake them with a birthday text
  2. Take them out to lunch.
  3. Buy them a thoughtful gift.
  4. Send them a birthday card by snail mail and include a piece of gum.
  5. Visit them.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Off My Bookshelf: "Braving the Wilderness" by Brene Brown

I finished listening to Brene Brown’s newest book, “Braving the Wilderness,” while traveling this weekend. I think I need to read it about ten more times to really let it sink into my brain and heart.

It’s interesting that I have been thinking a lot about belonging lately, about how nice it is when I enter the local yarn shop, River Wools, and the owner looks up and says, “hey, Beth,” or when I go to Wise Pies and they know my usual order. There is something so good about feeling like you belong somewhere.

What I realize from reading Brown’s book is that because I️ feel that connection I am able to live in community with people who are very different than me in other areas. Because I have moved in, moved closer to people, I am known and they are known. Now their differences don’t make us enemies. They are my friends, and make me a better person.

I can brave the wilderness of not thinking exactly like others around me because now I can see them as a person. I know their children names, their dog's breed. I like the same books, movies, etc. We have the same hobbies. I don’t have to be exactly like a person to feel a sense of belonging and friendship. Its important, in our society, to move beyond those like us and get closer to those unlike us.

Brown writes:
“True belonging is a spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find a sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness.”

“True belonging doesn’t require that you change who you are. It requires you to be who you are.”

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Off My Needles: 30 HATS!

I knit 30 hats in the past five weeks! My arms and shoulders were sore, but my heart was happy because I was doing what makes me the most happy. Knitting.

My friend had a table at a craft bazaar and invited me to use half of it. And I said, "YES". It was one of the scariest things I've done. I said yes to a dream. And then I got busy and knit, and knit, and knit.

The hats were soft and beautiful.I was so proud of them, but also scared that no one would like them. But I worried in vain because several people admired my work and commented on how beautiful they were. The crowd was small and mostly not the type of people who wore hats. So I only sold six.

Even though I didn't make enough money at the bazaar to cover the cost of all the yarn and pompoms, I had a blast fulfilling my dream. And I'm not one bit sorry that I have a bunch of hats to figure out what to do with or that I didn't make a boat-load of money. Why? Because I said yes to something big and scary. I said yes to a dream.

Here's what I learned. Saying yes is scary. But doing the work is life-giving. Success is found in the doing, not in the result. And now I am ready do say yes to the next dream, and it doesn't seem so frightening to me.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Off my Bookshelf: The Little French Bistro

This week's read was "The Little French Bistro" by Nina George. It is the story of Marianne Messman's  existential crisis that leads her to the tiny coastal town of Kerdruc, Brittany where she meets an unusual group of residents who help her to transform into her true identity because of the belief they have in her. Along the way, Marianne is transformed, as are the people of the town. Marianne learns that sometimes it takes suffering, rescue, and a different perspective to discover who we really are and that there are dreams we've either forgotten or given up on that are waiting to be revived. And sometimes it takes courage to believe we can be who we are in the depths of our souls.
Some books are so poetic that the words slow you down and whisper their way into your heart. Nina George's writing is exactly like that. Here are some of quotes that I highlighted:

"Didn't they say that beauty was a state of soul? And if her soul was loved, a woman would be transformed into a wondrous creature, however ordinary her looks. Love changed a woman's soul, and she became beautiful, for a few minutes or forever."

"A young woman's beauty makes up for her lack of intelligence; and old woman's intelligence makes up for her lack of beauty."

"Learn to love it, son. Learn to love what you do, whatever it is, and you won't have any problems. You'll suffer, but then you'll feel, and when you feel, you're alive. You need troubles to be alive - otherwise you're dead!"  

"As long as you can walk upright, you will find a walking stick. As long as you are brave, someone will help you."

"And it (life) began when you first took a risk, failed and realized that you'd survived the failure. With that knowledge, you could risk anything." 

 "One always has to consider the individual. For every person is an individual, and everyone has individual, unique reasons. And every individual counts."


Monday, October 23, 2017

Off My Bookshelf: Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is my latest read. The book is a Pulizer Prise in Letters: Fiction finalist, and rightly so because it is beautifully written.

Snow Child is the story of Jack and Mabel, a childless, middle-aged couple, who moved to the harsh 1920's Alaskan wilderness to farm, escape their sad past and begin anew. When a mysterious child, Faina, appears one winter, the couple creates a special bond with this strange child as she comes and goes from their life. The story is woven together with moments of joy, sadness, grief, and magic - a fairy tale for adults.

Here are three of my favorite quotes from the book:
"You did not have to understand miracles to believe in them, and in fact Mabel had come to suspect the opposite. To believe, perhaps you had to cease looking for explanations and instead hold the little thing in your hands as long as you were able before it slipped like water between your fingers." -page 204
"In my old age, I see that life itself is often more fantastic and terrible than the stories we believed as children, and that perhaps there is no harm in finding magic among the trees." -page 251
"We never know what is going to happen, do we? Life is always throwing us this way and that. That's where the adventure is. Not knowing where you'll end up or how you'l fare. It's all a mystery, and when we say any different, we're just lying to ourselves. Tell me, when have you felt most alive?" -page 258