Count Your Blessings

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I, for one, have been very fortunate in my life to experience so many wonderful things.  Yes, there has been some ups and downs, rocky times, but through it all I have been thankful for what has come my way.

I think in life we have a choice to see things as “the cup half full” or “the cup half empty”!   Feeling as if one has been continually short changed is stressful and exhausting.  After awhile it can be difficult to see anything in a positive light even if you are stumbling right over it.   And, happiness eludes us, operating in another world.

I believe there is something to be learned inFriend (2) any situation no matter what! Whether you gain a new friend or simply bounce off a trying experience by being exposed to new boundaries, it can affect your life as never before.   In some cases, it can be just knowing that making it through the journey brings a sense of accomplishment.

“Taking the high road” instead of wallowing in blame can be the difference between feeling down and frustrated or good about oneself.  It is so easy to fall into the trap of pointing the finger elsewhere.  And, “knee jerk” attack can easily breed an accelerated defense mechanism and increase emotional reactions.  Making_a_difference_(5461054026)[1].jpgHowever, when involved in a controversy, validating a person’s thought process by simply trying to understand can sway a situation toward a more amiable result.  It is good to remember that you can’t take words back once they are “out there” so to error on the side of truly  “listening before speaking” can sometimes save the day.

I am surrounded by a large and ever growing family….and feel lucky to have so many precious friends.  That supports my foundation in life as it is a window into myself.  I value each opportunity to spend time with each person and create memorable experiences.  We all don’t think alike but, I believe, the diversity is our strength and each brings another dimension to the table.

Each adventure or incident has taught me to appreciate the journey as I meander through this crazy life.  Spirit[1]My faith helps me to bridge the gaps during trying times and hardships.  I know there is a purpose to everything, even if we can’t see it in each moment. I am continually praying for strength and asking for strong arms to hold me steady through unforeseen obstacles in order to feel grounded.

With so much debate and wrangling floating all around us, it can be more difficult than ever to see the good but we simply must in order to reap any benefits at all.   There are those in the world that have no choices at all (including food, medicine or even a roof over their heads) and we have so very much.  MP900185146[1]There are miracles everywhere we look, even in the wonders of nature or the touch of a hand.  They must not pass us by unnoticed because we are so bogged down by the junk around us that draw us in.  We must realize that politics and media have their own playing rules….and we have the freedom to have our own.   We must do what we can within our power to maintain  positivity and a solid value system.  The alternative is to be sucked into the doom and gloom and the muck.

So, take a deep breath and look around.  Stop just long enough to take a mental inventory of all the great and amazing things you hold most dear in your life.  There is so much wonder, beauty and special moments happening right before our eyes.  What a blessing in itself!   If we all let the sediment sink to the bottom and turn our focus on the beauty and what is going right the sense of peace will lighten our load enough to see through the haze and soak in all that is good!  Close your eyes and take a deep breath…….feel the difference!  We are all truly blest!

Snow Geese in Flight at Sunset

 

 

The Portal to the Future

looking_for_something_little_boy[1]We are just “clean slates” when we are born, each a pure little miracle for sure!  However, from that moment we are children-and-early-interventions[1]ready to absorb each aspect of life and easily become sponges as each new thing enters our lives.  That is why children “say it like it is: with their hearts wide open, laying their innocence at our feet in order to make sense of what they see and hear.

139405061031477245767493[1]Since trust is one of the first things we learn it doesn’t take long for habits and mimicking to take place.  With that being said, and this big crazy world so transparent to us at every turn, the way we approach life is based on our exposure, creating a path to follow.  It is so easy to see how quickly our lives can take on different faces as each layer unfolds.  For example, one can naturally see how the environment and growth would be different for a child growing up in a multi-faceted family situation compared to an only child of a long term marriage……..or a child born into a family where there are high career demands or severe health issues.  Each scenario addresses quality development time with diversity.  With lives going in so many directions, the question becomes, “Is the foundation of values being laid consistently and purposefully?”

girl,heart,sad,tears,children,crying-fb2fece012f4e3a51fc8ef275afdb5c2_h[1]When we are pushed to the max and stress creeps into our world, do we always make he best choices or say the right things to the children in our lives?  With so much at our fingertips it is so easy to “knee jerk” and just pacify conflicted moments to get through our day.  stress[1]Whether it be an innocent question of discovery or a “head to head” battle of wills, our actions are reflected in everything we do.  This most often occurs within our own families but can roll over into the work place, educational system or in a social environment as well.

There is a lot to be learned if we look through the eyes of children.  What are they seeing?  What peer pressure are they under? FAMILY-articleLarge[1] Who are their role models?  How do they interact with one another?  Just stopping and taking inventory of our own day to day mannerisms can be a window into what they are seeing and responding to in their world.  Are we truly setting the desired example for them to follow?  Are we taking a quick moment to answer a pivotal question?   Do we take time to understand from their point of view?  Making an assessment into our own patterns and reactions can be revealing.

dat-1252-eng[1]Maybe if we really listen to the children we may see it as a portal into a different perspective. With our world moving and changing with every passing moment it is critical we truly pay attention to the formation of our young.  We must make the effort to do what we can while we still can.  Our future will be in the hands of these children of today and we must ensure that they have all the tools to meet the needs necessary to tackle it head on and maintain control….or even make a difference.

It is truly frightening to follow the news media and realize the uncertainty and conflict that is out there all around us.  This must not be passed on!   Therefore, we must never lose sight of our children’s point of view as it is through that window we are looking forward!

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Beyond the Horizon

90_mile_beach[1]The sound of the ocean has always called me!  Whether it is the gentle rhythm of the continuous waves or the intensity of the crashing surf, the intrigue is there and simply pulls me in.

Even as a little girl the mention of the beach at lastgoing to the beach brought instant excitement and joy.  There was nothing more I could think of that meant more.  Playing in the sand, giving in to the lure of the water touching my toes…….or simply running free, I could feel the difference within myself.  The entire experience reached a depth inside of me I didn’t understand at the time……and maybe still don’t…….but I just knew I felt lighter and a pure sense of joy.

To this day I am drawn to the beach whenever I am tired, stressed or simply in need of a break.  And, if I happen to hit it just right when the sun is out and it is warm with no wind……..well, that is about as close to heaven as one can get!!   Just sitting on a blanket or a log and staring out over the water I am able to breathe a little easier, reflect, and feel a sense of contentment I cannot get anywhere else.  It is like I am reaching beyond the horizon to a home I have yet to know but is calling to me.

Pacific_ocean_5[1]Don’t  get me wrong,  I love to go to the beach when it is stormy, too, as there is a wonder about that as well.  The strength and power of the water boiling and churning has a meaning in itself.  The rhythm continues to be present, but more robust and forceful in its presence.

I will never forget the time we took our four children and their families to a house overlooking the beach during a Christmas holiday.  The weather was stormy with the wind and rain pounding against the picture windows all night long.  About three in the morning the electricity went out and all the adults and the children one by one appeared from all corners of this huge house to stand together by the windows in wonder, experiencing the intensity, the darkness and these most unusual and impacting moments.  In the darkness you could feel the command of the surf and the incredible control of the weather outside, almost like God was revealing HIS dominance and mastery…..all in awe!   It was a bonding and a spiritual feeling all in one.

Every single time as we travel toward the beach I strain for the first view of the ocean as we get close.  It is like medicine for the soul……and I never tire of it.  And, it is different every time.  Sometimes the waves are small and gently rolling and other times the foam from the turbulent pounding is Driftwood Beachpflying in the wind.  Recently there was snow on the beach and  jellyfish that had washed ashore.  Logs and driftwood are continuously changing the landscape, sea creatures are beached and several years ago I recall a ship that had gone aground.  There are times when sand dollars and sea shells can be found or where sand has shifted to create less or more beachfront for walking. It is never the same……. the colors, the smells, the sounds and of course, the weather.   I am reminded of the magnitude of what God has created and am amazed by the beauty of it all.

Whenever there is a chance to take a break, get away with loved ones, or just a retreat with friends, the destination is a “no brainer”!   The beach is where I am headed.  It provides the atmosphere that projects peace, tranquility and space to breathe.  Some of my best sharing of feelings, with those who are most close to me, has taken place just peering out over the water or watching the sun set just beyond the water’s edge.  There is just no other place that fits the bill!   I don’t have to always  touch it……I just need to be there and feel it around me!

 

Proud Moments !!

What an exceptional year this has been!  Not only has the world seemed to have shifted in a multitude of directions, so have we.   I have been told “Change” is the constant in our lives, for sure, so we must always be ready to meander and travel in alternate paths and meet new challenges.  So this has been the case in our precious family these past months.  The vein that travels through our genes  propelling us to “Make a Difference”  continues to thrive, generation after generation.

It all began this last summer when our son, Matthew, agreed to design and create a new reclaimed wood piece for the Clackamas County Fairgrounds here in Canby.  He is always taking on new projects and challenging himself The Worldwith new ideas as his creative juices work overtime, so I just sort of took his latest draft in stride.  Little did I know the magnitude of what he was doing!  Upon attending the Clackamas County Fair with him and his little family in August I was overwhelmed when coming face to face with his vision of this over-sized permanent fixture.  In front of me was this approximately 20 foot by about 12 foot reclaimed wood backdrop with a laser cut steel map of the world secured to the top of it.  There were small “dime-sized” magnets in a metal pocket at the bottom of it, which were available for all attendees of the fair to place on the map reflecting from where they came.  This, then, provided a  demographic overview of the fair’s visitors.  When this story hit the front page of our local newspaper, I knew he had really done something special.

When our grandaughter, Ashtin, signed with Sacramento State to play volleyball, all we could think about is how far away she would be and what big shoes she had to fill.  As a setter and key position on the volleyball team, the responsibility was daunting, not to mention adjusting to the expected load of academics.  Thankfully she “red shirted” her freshman year,  giving her an opportunity to view from the sidelines at each game what her role would be…..while carrying the weight of classes she needed.  When she stepped into the shoes as setter this year it became obvious there was another level of expectation.   Not only was the backup setter Ashtin Article Volleyballout for the season with a serious injury, the previous setter had received numerous awards, both from her team, as well as the conference, for her accomplishments.   Within the first stretch of games Ashtin won “Offensive Player of the Week” from the conference for her incredible efforts.  This did not surprise me as I knew when she set her sites she would “do or die”!  That is just part of her makeup.  However, it wasn’t long after that she went down in a game with an injury to her knee, leaving her with an uncertain future.  As we waited to hear from the medical examiners we weren’t sure what was ahead for her.  Ashtin 2nd Team (2)As it turned out it was a minor injury and she was fitted with a sturdy brace and back in the line-up.  As she fought her way through this “ripple”, dragging the cumbersome brace with her while adjusting her technique, she remained steady and solid in her approach to each game.  She was there for her team and stayed on course, no matter what!  Her job was to get to each ball that was served and somehow set it to a hitter.  Even though the standings revealed ups and downs Ashtin’s contribution stood strong.  When she was awarded a place on the second team all league at the end of the season it became evident her commitment stood strong.  It was almost unheard of that a beginning setter would receive that status in her first year on a team.

Lorin, our oldest grandaughter, wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember.  Even in elementary school she would help out with the primary classes whenever she could…..and later when she reached high school would even travel back to assist the teachers.  She became a fixture in that school.  Upon completing college and receiving her teaching degree, she began applying for a position in several school districts.  However, in the end, the school that won her heart all those years ago came through and offered her a 4th grade teaching position.  She was ecstatic to say the least, rolled up her sleeves and, with the help of her Mom (our daughter), designed and decorated that classroom like no other with learning tools and fun artwork.  She put her stamp on it and her domain was established, wanting to make it a fun and inviting learning environment.  In the first few years she had a few challenged students, which little by little, she learned to help the best she could through diversion and a steady “no nonsense” approach.  Lorin CongratulationsThen came this year, a hurdle like no other!  The ratio of “needy” children rose to a level almost beyond comprehension.  There were days she wasn’t sure she could continue but through dedication, support and help from those who believed in her she not only has been able to make it through but received recognition from her peers.  Lrin and Group AwardWe were so excited to hear she had been nominated  for the CARE award in her school district for outstanding accomplishments.  As we watched her being presented with this prestigious recognition and heard the testimonies of those in the trenches with her, it was confirmed, “she has a “gift”!

So proud we are of those who have been honored in our family…….but also those who have not.   As I watch each and every one of my children and their children find their place in the world, their values, dignity, compassion and commitment is present in their approach to life.  What greater reward is there?

Lobster and Friends

IMG_1162What could be better than meandering through six New England states, in all its splendor, except sharing it with special and dear friends?   Not only were we side-by-side every step of the way but each turn in the road brought a new experience and memory to be cherished forever.

As we trekked together through Boston, Hyannis, Martha’s Vineyard, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, IMG_9608Maine and back to Boston there was beauty and history everywhere.  It was like taking Paul Revere’s ride but with different side trips…..checking out the site of John F. Kennedy’s White House, sailing IMG_9984over to Martha’s Vineyard, visiting “The Vanderbilt’s estate,  touring Mystic Seaport then on to experience Norman Rockwell’s Museum and Calvin Coolidge’s IMG_0073birthplace. IMG_0133 As we wound through the White Mountains and tasted pure maple sugar and on to the seashore of Maine, seafood was on the menu everywhere.   We were told that Maine’s rocky coast, strong wave action, and cold, nutrient-rich watersIMG_1158 help create the world’s sweetest and best-tasting IMG_9660lobsters.  We got to taste lobster rolls, which were popular everywhere, and even had our own fresh lobster dinner before we headed home.  For a seafood girl like me, this was heaven on earth!

It was like a continuous picture postcard everywhere we went. IMG_9734 The lush green, the gorgeous IMG_9767flowers, when combined with so many profound destinations, made our journey one to cherish for sure.  Yes, I knew much of our country’s heritage IMG_0223and foundation was rooted in New England but to experience it up close and personal….well, this was beyond words.  And, when surrounded by picturesque landscapes, just punctuated it all.

Of course, the best of all, was the memories IMG_1138we made with such dear friends.  The happy hours in our rooms at the end of each day…..all IMG_9633cramming into the family pew at the Old Church…….seeking out the Cheers watering hole…….sharing the Blah Ba Blah Ba Blah of Greg, our tour guide………ourIMG_9688 lime-green girls’ day on the water……..getting lost in the Casino….Clare’s maple cookies…….and theIMG_0155 sing-a-longs on the bus……..and of course the numerous photo opportunities, these we remember fondly as they celebrated the special bond we all have with each other.

This is was a time that will be tucked away in our hearts as most precious because of the personal connections we had that were already in place.  What a gift to one another…..and to ourselves!IMG_9795

 

 

Aloha, Mom!!

Geezers 123Once in a very great while there passes someone through your life that makes a lasting impression.  They may not command center stage and prefer to be in the background, but they make a profound and lasting  difference in one’s life.  Such was the case with our mother.  She stood strong as the wind but gentle as a breeze.  She never complained.  She was always “there” to lend a hand, never wanting anything in return.  Even in her last days she worried about her six “very adult” children taking time out of their lives for her.  That is just the way she was.

As we were removing the last of her things from her house my sister found a significant amount of cash that had been stashed in her bathroom vanity……I am sure stowed there in case of an emergency,  which was so in line with her thinking.   Now, we were faced with a dilemma….what should we do with it?    I called a meeting and presented three scenarios.  We could “divide and go”……….we could allot a chunk toward our annual beach getaways for the next several years…….or we could all jump in, applying it toward a trip as a family to Hawaii.   To my surprise…….it was voted to “go for the gusto” by celebrating Mom through an Hawaiian memory.

I believe Mom was cheering us on from afar.   I think she was secretly wanting this for us……as was evident once it played out.  She loved the ocean and seafood……. and had traveled to Hawaii with some of us years ago and we remember how much she enjoyed it.  Our Beach WalkIt wasn’t by coincidence that I had traveled to Maui the previous year with my daughter and family to find the perfect location.  A small condominium complex my Kathy and Mehusband and I had stayed in many years ago had been beautifully remodeled with ocean front units side-by-side.  The water was no Turtles and Sunsetmore than 35-40 feet from our patios, making it easy to interact and “simply breathe”.  The added bonus was the turtles!  These amazing and massive creatures would greet us in the afternoons as they would “beach” themselves for a rest in the sun.  What an unbelievable experience to be a part of it all!!

As the six of us, along with our spouses, ventured outHula Grill guys here and there throughout the day…….or just hung around ….we felt this is where we were meant to be. Flower Girls It was confirmed when we decided to celebrate Mom with a Hawaiian  feast one night.  The twelve of us took over the barbecue area steps from the water, pulled together a seafood feast (that was her preferred choice of food always) for kings, and saluted our Mom.  Don's MessageDon, my brother-in-law shared a poem he wrote, “Hat’s Off to You”, Mom's Sunsetwhich brought us all to tears as Mom was toasted.  We knew she was in our midst when the most beautiful sunset of sunsets culminated our gathering.  It was a moment in time that will never be forgotten by each of us.   We had no doubt that she was there!

How fortunate we are to have had Mom for as long as we did.  In her 97 years she reared us, she formed us, she was there for each of us and she was an example for us all….always taking the “hind seat”.  Ah the sunsetShe was the “Salt of the Earth” for sure but now hovers forever just beyond the horizon.  Never will I look at a sunset the same as she will be smiling at us as it so vibrantly glows then quietly rests as the light is extinguished to burst into light again the next day.

We thank you, Mom, for this treasured and most precious memory.   We feel your presence each day and hold your essence within.  We promise to hold you close and stay forever connected to one another.  May we each pass it on and keep your spirit going.  Aloha !!

Humpert Clan

 

“Wrapsody”

Never did I realize how much fun I would have making custom wrap bracelets!!  What started out as a hobby to support my creative nature has evolved into branching out in all directions.  As I explore and attempt new designs I realize I  have simply tapped the edges of what could be.  Each time I pull out my leather and beads and come up with something new, I want to try yet another application.

Wrap Necklace          Silver Ring Necklace Carmel         LariatRing Black Bracelet       Green Wrap Bracelet       Stretch Bracelets

As the requests come in it meanders me in so many Childrens Braceletsnew and exciting directions.  I love it when someone says, “Can you add a personalized initial or charm.”  It is then that I feel I am really producing something special and meaningful.   When I made the favorite color of a little girl for a mom soon I was making more children’s designs.

Ducks and Seahawks (3)And, when someone asked, “Can you make something for an Oregon Ducks or Seahawks fan?”  away I went with new ideas 3 Strandsbouncing around in my head.  When I received pictures of new bracelet or necklace ideas from my daughters and friends,  I immediately searched for new applications.   That just spurred me on to push my boundaries!

Who knows where this will lead, but so far it fills my head with new and fun ideas each day.  It feeds my “artistic gene” as well as brings a sense of accomplishment.   Sharing my creations, and realizing they provide something special for others as well, is what it is all about.  I would be happy to be a part of your vision if you are looking for a unique and personalized gift…….or just want something for yourself!

Wrapsody (3)