Into the Unknown…….

A new normal is in the works for us. What exactly that will be is yet to be written. It is more likely than not a combination of what we perceived as routine before Covid hit and the adjusted life that has become part of our world since then. Uncertainty is everywhere and at times it feels like we are frozen in place.

As we have evolved into 2021 it hasn’t been as if much has really transitioned as we had hoped. The magic corner did not feel impactful when January 1st hit the scene. The unrest is still floating in the air, social distancing is still governing our lives and we truly do not know what the future holds in many arenas. There seems to be a distrust as to what the media is really telling us as many sources convey conflicting facts. Where can we put a solid foot on the ground to go forward? It is unsettling to say the least!

I believe we must be patient and ride this wave but keep our values solid and sure. That will provide the foundation in which to build new guidelines as attempts are made to sort things out. The tricky element is that we have been in limbo for so long that an underlying urgency is beginning to erupt from within. As we head toward Spring, a sign of new life, it is natural to want to shed the restricted way in which we have found ourselves and burst free.

I foresee a hybrid atmosphere as we advance into the next plateau. We have shifted our world to include more home entertainment and a far more relaxed personal routine…… and we may want to continue to hold on to that. We have adapted to alternative ways in which to feed our families as we have gravitated to convenient pickup or delivery of our groceries, ordering ready-made meals to simply pop in the oven or converted to “take-out” dining. Online shopping has more or less replaced the in-store version. Even traveling has taken on modifications as we notice more RV’s on the road. Campgrounds are bursting to capacity and people are taking shorter road trips just to get a change of scenery. Will we really give this all up when it makes our lives so much easier?

With that being said, however, the general population is eager to resume in-house dining in their favorite restaurants, if they are still in business, and make “put on hold” vacations plans. We want the freedom to enjoy “in person” spectator sports and follow our favorite team as before. We simply want to go where we like.

I see a merging of both approaches as we cultivate and encourage what lies ahead. We no longer will take our good health for granted. We know now that exposure to disease and viruses will always be out there ready to attack so we might want to hold on to more cautious and protective measures.

On top of the Covid infliction that surrounds us, I also think of the raging wildfires that plagued us this past fall, or the floods and the windstorms after that, could God be trying to get our attention? And, our country has not been “playing nice” for quite some time and in some viewpoints gotten so far off track we might not find out way back to the basics and the words written in our nation’s Constitution. It is impossible to know what truly goes on behind the scenes that has brought us so far off course. Be it as it may we must continue to follow our hearts and stand strong for what is right and true.

As we try to figure this all out, we must decide what makes sense to us. Everyone is different with different needs, ideas and values. If we can start with the foundation of what is most important and go from there we will probably find our way. For some it is simply a matter of survival that dictates the pathway. For me, I must follow the journey laid out for me and be true to that……and maintain flexibility. If that means that my family and friends are first, I must improve my listening skills to hear both sides, and challenge myself to prioritize what is really important……..the rest will fall into place.

Whatever lies ahead we must not lose sight of existing as one and united in the same cause of caring for one another. We do not have to always agree but above all “maintain respect” so that we can once again be “United under God”, grateful for what we have and in a healthy environment.

Blip and 6 Months are Gone !!

contemplate[1]

Yes, the last 6 months have been an exercise in change……but where have they gone and what have we learned?   To say the least, our lives have been turned upside down with Covid interference.   


8141344500_fb635173cf_z[1]We go about our daily routine a little differently, for sure!   We get up the same way in the morning…..but early on during the quarantining we may not have rushed out the door in the usual frenzy, taking just a little bit more time with that cup of coffee.  When we were staying home for periods of time we began to lose track of what day it was or lost the urgency to get regular duties done.  Maybe we zoned more into streaming on television and staying up later, kicking back just a little more. 

Technology[1]Connecting via video chatting has become more a regular part of communicating  instead of face-to-face.   The Amazon delivery trucks seem to be a frequent site on just about every street as we do more shopping online.  And, “face masks” are part of our world now…..everyone has one (or six), handy in a shirt pocket or purse as we visit stores or public places.

But, as our lives meander with different twists and turns so, too, does our lives center more on one day looking like the next.  Time FliesThe days turn into weeks and then months and before we know it 6 months have passed…..and a new routine has emerged.  It is not as it was before and it is not as we will know it going forward.  We are caught creating a new path, for sure!  Some things will not change but some of what we have been experiencing will stick and be the basis to form a new standard to follow.

I, for one, have found myself relaxing a little more and enjoying the absence of urgency to get things done.  This resulted in tackling some projects this past Spring that have been put off forever it seems.  I can feel my approach more from a sense of accomplishment than “have to”!   As frustration and reluctance with the media has set in, I found myself exploring new books, television series and movies on streaming sites…..and therein I am staying in that mode, enjoying it so much more.  Kids_4[1]With so many events being cancelled I have found a new level of joy as I interact with family more, both in small patio gatherings and camping excursions.  We have definitely made some new memories for sure.   I have a better connection with my neighbors as a result of being home more, too, as we stop and visit instead of rushing past them from one place to the next.  Just taking more walks promotes being more present in my own environment…..and I simply love that!

I do miss partaking in dining out but again MP900387506[1]I have explored and found new favorites in my “at home” recipe collection, and my entertainment expense figure has shrunk sizably.  I miss attending sporting events and activities of family members but hopefully I will be able to tune in online as things open up in their new format.  What I know is that there will always be a flux in life so rolling with it all is just an adjustment in thinking, adapting and accepting. 

I believe there has been more to gain than we have forfeited within these last months.  I choose not to partake in the unrest and absurdity that has entered into our lives negatively……but choose to shift my routine encompassing what I have learned from this experience.  The time has flown by BUT it definitely has not been lost!

Spirit[1]

Congratulations Graduates !!

D2849907-ED20-44E7-BD2A-A426E04B92F0What a crazy year this has been!  We are in uncharted territory and nothing is the same as it was.   Our work environment has changed with so many businesses closing or adapting in some way.   More employees are working from home.  Shopping has become a challenge with merchandising limitations and restrictions.  Social interaction has a new identity as we strive to find new ways to connect to those we care about.  Our world seems upside down!

As things shift and change around us it is important to recognize “the student” and the challenges he/she have faced.   Schooling from home has become the standard while attempting to maintain educational goals and benchmarks.  Teachers have had to reach into their bag of tricks to keep learning fresh and exciting…..along with a cyber dependency.   With that being said, the graduates have definitely had to adjust to  unparalleled protocol.  Events that were looked forward to have been replaced with modifications at best…..or simply non existent.  Proms and parties have been cancelled.  Even receiving diplomas via “Drive-By”  or virtual reality recording  has pushed creativity to the max!

This is the year my two grandsons graduated from high school and they were anticipating a memorable year.  “Memorable” they got, but not in the normal and standard ways.  In spite of it all, I am extraordinarily proud of both of them as they took it all in stride with very few complaints.  I believe that is a testimony to just how grounded they are and the amazing job their parents have done.  Easy?  Absolutely not!!

B03E5F26-B0FF-477F-89CB-DB7145912DB1Isaac will be attending 7170E671-DABD-4DC0-ADB0-0968A7EE1773_1_105_cWestern Oregon University this fall and has simply focused on the new chapter in front of him.  He is excited to start his journey 3FB69D2C-7018-4974-9A4C-B5241BFB7C42toward being a teacher, a dream of his.   With a history of teaching and coaching in his immediate family, this is a “no brainer” for him as he has witnessed the focus of his mentors daily.

6876CB14-00CA-42D0-8E39-14EE38F6D934Mica has had his fingersA85178ED-742B-4C0C-AE1B-D1C6348F6FC2 in so many arenas throughout his growing years, accomplishing goals in spirit, sports and music. A495A53B-F8D2-4294-99A8-BC0C19739768_1_201_aThe world is at his feet as he explores his options going forward.  There is no doubt he will make his mark no matter which direction life takes him as he seems to have made an impact everywhere he goes.

C553685C-CFF6-4E73-A470-B81145D6B110Recently our family was finally able to get together to celebrate these two amazing young men.  Yes, it looked a little different as we gathered outdoors but so very special in its own rite.   Just to see the maturity that has emerged was enough to recognize in itself.  

I believe that because of the unexpected modifications in our everyday life, a new value system has begun to unfold.  What we have taken for granted is now been altered and we have to find a new normal as we look forward.  There are things that have been forever changed in the way we view our lives as we think about normal habits.  We will remember this year as pivotal for sure.  It has helped shape us in new ways, especially those embarking on the next chapter of their lives.    I am so looking forward to seeing how these two incredible people embrace their future and I know this year’s experience has made an indelible and positive difference.

Congratulations Isaac and Mica!!

801E76D0-BE71-453F-8367-EAFCF83C9586                 973994D0-1DF8-4699-9AE3-BC6CA38F202C

 

 

The Secret of the Butterfly

469F5F7B-79B6-4025-9B61-2A25647EA59B

When I feel like crawling into a small space and closing the world around me because reality is overwhelming I try to visualize the metamorphosis of the butterfly.   Its journey is truly one of awe and wonder!

As a creepy crawly caterpillar its beginning is basic discovery.  As it emerges from its cocoon it cannot fly at all.  Its sensitive dependence on initial conditions is vital as a small change can result in a large difference.  Its wings are transparent and it survives on an all liquid diet, tasting with its feet and sometimes drinking from mud puddles.  It cannot fly if it is cold and has brightly colored wings with unique patterns.  

NGS6F88

It is no wonder that the butterfly can be compared to our lives!  We are carried for months in a womb, being nurtured and developed.  When we are born into this world we cannot survive on our own and we are shaped by our environment. As we evolve the smallest steps taken can change our course completely.

It is important to remember butterflies are able to fly when they are warm and their needs are met.  So, too, with us, we are able to breathe and go forward when we are surrounded by acts of kindness and caring.   It is our responsibility to be aware of those around us, especially during this unusual and crazy time. There are so many more struggling, and in so many different ways.  Yes, some have faced new life changing financial limitations.  Others are reeling from the lack of personal contact and don’t even understand it.  Tempers are flaring; opinions are controversial; fear is rampid and others are simply depressed.  These are all valid realities swarming around us.

The butterfly can be viewed as a deep and powerful representation of life and it is often considered a symbol of resurrection.  These times of need, whether physical or emotional, are depleting and conflicting. NGS8060We may or may not be capable of caring for ourselves and reach in the wrong directions for help….or simply come crashing into a wall of despair.  And, we may seek a solution in a multitude of directions depending on our situations …..sometimes not in our best interest.

 As an exercise to keep truly focused on those around us and be healthy ourselves, let us close our eyes and visualize the butterfly flying freely in the sunshine, discovering all that is right and beautiful as it flutters breathlessly throughout the air, seemingly without a care.  It is a true representative of endurance, change, hope and life!

MP900185146[1]

Just as the butterfly is so unique and individually beautiful with vivid colors and an airiness like no other, so too, are each one of us!   In order to discover this in ourselves we must be healthy, not only as we eat and drink, but taking care of our bodies and nurturing our minds.  We cannot help others fly until we fly ourselves!   Wouldn’t it be the best to be surrounded by all that is colorful and bright …..with a positive uplifting atmosphere, no matter the clouds that are on the horizon?   So let us soar, find our center, then make our world a better place!  It is all up to us!!

Snow Geese in Flight at Sunset

 

 

 

 

Therapy: The Power of Laughter

despair-community321-com[1]With all that is swarming around us right now……the fears and the unknown…. there is a sense of anxiety and heightened stress coloring our every day.  Am I distancing myself enough?  How do I support my loved ones when I can’t physically be there?  Will I be able to pay my bills?  And the list goes on…….

MP900321192[1]One thing I know for certain is that we can pull our world in so far we forget to breathe, encouraging an even larger crises.  This is another danger zone!  We, for sure, must take this time seriously and do what we can to do our part to help fight this unknown siege.  However, we must all help each other through this and take responsibility for ourselves and those we care about.  

According to the expert physicians a large element of this illness that is plaguing our world is the mental part of it all.  Treating anxiety and its symptoms are real and people are scared of the unknown effects in their world.  This is shown as the cannabis and alcohol sales have been skyrocketing and the added non-emergency calls that have been overloading the medical facilities.  I do know is that we must not loose our sense of release and the mental care of ourselves. 

Brother and Sister RunningIf we do nothing more than try this exercise it is at laughter_(3)[1]least one step in a positive direction that we can do now.  Close your eyes and visualize something that was “funny” or humorous that was experienced somewhere in your past.  Maybe it is something a child did, a funny encounter or a joke someone told you.  Feel the smile that emerges on your face as you go back and feel the effects.

highway_to_horizon-wide[1]There is nothing to be lost by taking a moment to feed your well being.  The posting of  Facebook jokes or silly humor is an attempt on many to lighten the mood.  Take advantage of this and seek out comedy where you can find it.  Instead of a heavy drama movie try a slapstick or upbeat plot.  Play a fun game or invent a competition with your family.  Find a way to laugh, even just for a moment, several times a day.  Believe me, it will make a difference.  laughter[1]You can’t feel the heavy weight when you are grinning ear to ear……and it can be infectious enough to transfer to others as you communicate and share.  It may take a little effort to shift focus but what is there to lose?   You might find you are breathing a little deeper and feel a little lighter…..and it may just make just enough difference to help turn this corner a little sooner!

Stay Safe……Stay Healthy…….BUT have you had your belly laugh today?smiles_398[1]

 

Divided We Stand

black and white people bar men

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com


As I stand back and reflect on the world that is evolving around me it troubles me to see the division.  Diversity is good in so many ways as we reach to discover and bring about change.  It pushes us to improve upon approaches and function in so many arenas.  When I think about the differences within the last decade it is almost mind boggling to see how far we have come and the development that has touched our lives.   

MP900289918[1]However, it doesn’t take long to bump in to the separation of opinions in our freedom of thinking.  It is swirling all around us with the media so ever present to penetrate and persuade our conscious awareness.   This has risen to a new height with so much noise in the political environment lately.  It feels as if we are being forced to “choose a camp” when the information being circulated may be based on whatever those that be wants us to believe.  And, in our own personal lives sometimes we face situations when a controversy arises…..and we feel as if we need to take a side.  What is real…….do we even know anymore?


When it is all stripped down what I believe is true is that we must look within ourselves and stay true to our values….maintain respect of one another and not be swayed by popularity.  We can agree to disagree, and we should,  but remove our emotions from the entire issues.  
I have always found it helpful to visualize physically walking in others’ shoes before sharing my thoughts.  It helps me understand the motivation of others from their point of view.  Through that exercise sometimes I am able to truly understand why they say or do what they do…..even if it does not match my viewpoint.

Young Couple Seated Back To BackIt saddens me to realize how divided we are and how political strategies are ever present in all aspects of life.  It seems like there is so much pressure to influence us….whether it is in how we spend our money, our social interaction or how we align ourselves in issues that affect us.  We can’t use our phones, turn on the television, enter the grocery store, drive down the street or even open our eyes without our thought process being bombarded in an effort to influence us.  Gaining information is good, but being polarized just seems wrong.   

517c40187a369b19742c2231623b9f71[1]It seems as if  negativity just closes us in and encourages negative behavior.  And, once profound statements are made we hit a whole new level as ego to become right becomes the driver.  This is not only in the political setting but everywhere.   Unfortunately  many of us experience this in the workplace as competition for positions and performance plays a huge role.  

5825630272_c94b270112_z[1]There is definitely a place in our world for cheerleaders to focus on the positive….believe in intentions……stand side by side with each other when needed….and climb MP900435893[1]mountains together.   What a great feeling to know we all want the best for each other.  We reap such great benefits when we are honest with each other, try to understand each other and truly put what is right in the forefront.  There is where we can all stand together!

Family Standing in Front of the American Flag

 

Count Your Blessings

contemplate[1]

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!

children-725141_960_720[1]

 

 

 

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?