Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mrs. Harvey

Happy birthday to my sister Liz.

It's a commentary that I have to dig through the archives to find a pic of us alone together, although I know we are both fine that the picture is from 2010 (how young we were, how thin we were)!

It's always a delight to uncover our many similarities since we have different strengths (e.g., she can naturally relate to everyone and I struggle to relate to anyone), different paths, different lives.  But even with that, it is such a treat when we connect and discover something new we share:  a thought, a philosophy, a shirt from Target.

Your kids (and your children) are lucky to have you as a teacher...and I am thrilled you are my sister.

Love you!
Liz - the red to my blue

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Here are 21 Maya Angelou quotes to live by:
1. “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.”
2. “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
3. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
4. “When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.”
5. “If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain.”
6. “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don't make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off of you.”
7. “I've learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life'.”
8. “You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
9. “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”
10. “If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?”
11. “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” 
12. “No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.”
13. “Most people don't grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children, and call that maturity. What that is, is aging.”
14. “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
15. “First best is falling in love. Second best is being in love. Least best is falling out of love. But any of it is better than never having been in love.”
16. “I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.”
17. “We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives.”
18. “We need much less than we think we need.”
19. “I don't trust anyone who doesn't laugh.”
20. “Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”
21. “I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Another "Hell Yes" for Gratitude!

It's common knowledge that we modern Americans favor short-term gratification over long-term rewards.  And, duh, that's usually not a smart move!

A new study demonstrates that, after asking participants to focus on things they are grateful for, they demonstrated more patience and were able to keep those nasty impulses (e.g., emotional eating) in check.  Of course this begs that lines are drawn between the dots:  gratitude can encourage long-term success as another tool (move over, willpower) to a better life!

Study participants were given the choice between receiving $75 on the spot or choosing to receive a check for $100 in one year.  Most of the grateful were also more patient.  I'd choose the $100, for sure, but if there were three more zeros in the amount offered, maybe not so much!

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

As Is

It's here again, coming back every year...and I'm grinning like the special girl I am today:  the birthday girl, eligible for retirement, and thankful for this perennial birthday gift more fully than ever before.  It is a blessing to have made it to this place, to 55 now, to experiencing myself anew, to savoring it slowly, the way my life always wanted it for me, as is.  I've slowed down a little, actually pausing occasionally now, and I'm so much more aware of what I have and who is with me...what's actually happening around me.  It's damn cool to live gratefully.
Skinny Vanilla Latte - Grande

So many wrinkles, so many choices...
Birthday Fro Yo with my favorite Iowa Citian

Thursday, May 15, 2014

It Really is an Everyday Thing

The mother tribute - sure I like the second Sunday in May...I won't gush but I did very well in the card and gift department, as usual, and enjoyed my boys' gestures and my girl's visit.  And now an added bonus - children-in-law attention!

The real sign of their love isn't so predictable - it's in the gifts that come my way when they reach out, when they check in, when they want an update on everybody else.  The calls and texts, picture jokes, Facebook comments, and funny Snapchats - frequently, regularly, easily.  Thanks, sweet ones...keeping in touch is the best gift around.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

May 13

Happy Birthday to my dear sweet niece, Megan!  I remember the day she was born...I was a college student on summer break and the news of her birth was little more than a distraction...I barely had time for the phone call.

Sorry...but hey, twenty is different than 54.

And now when I think of her, I smile fully and pause on the gift of her life, in ways that maybe I missed earlier.

I've learned (kinda) how to poof the crown hair for volume and flattering angles.  I've learned a bit about makeup from her.  And, so many other things from this younger person, too, like how to bring energy to situations that are dismal, to bring sunshine to days that are hard.

Mostly, I've learned about the greeting.  When she greets me - when she greets anyone - she brings her whole self and really makes you feel like you matter, like you're glad you showed up.  Her smile, her enthuasiam, her hug - she's taught me that.  This young, beautiful being.  Happy birthday, Megan.  Love you!
She = pregnant.  Me = well, me.

A bird was born today - in my flower box - on Megan's day...she would like that!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

After Love

Whenever I hear about a breakup or love lost, I want to send this poem to those involved...whether you are the dumper or the dumpee (or maybe even the person on the sidelines, loving everybody), if you are a feeling person at all, this poem may be just what you need:

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

- Derek Walcott

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bye Bye Bird

My BFF found work in Iowa City for the next few weeks (thanks Liz) so I have been chauffeured to work lately, and I'm finding the commute NO BIG DEAL at all...amazing, I know!  Plus I get to sleep in a few extra sacred minutes since I am dropped curbside.

We had an eventful commute this morning!  Truckin' down 380, the Ford Ranger suddenly started to shake and then rumble.  I ignored it at first and I think Shawn did, too.  I was thinking nasty thoughts about our Ford (FORD: Fix Or Repair Daily) and also estimated a replacement serpentine belt at about a thousand dollars more than it really costs.

Within a few minutes of the rumblas, there was no ignoring this odd situation because a fine mist now appeared on the driver's side of the windshield.  Something weird was going down.  We pulled off at the next exit; the very nearby gas station was evidence that this day was going to turn out okay.

What we discovered was that some sweet bird mama or dada knew when we were in Europe and took advantage of our idle truck to build their home.  We aren't quite sure what happened since we started driving the truck again about a month ago, but we hypothesize that, today, some creature bird (the last baby in the nest?) was in the wrong place when we started down the road this morning.  The nest was in the top right corner, near where the "mist" appeared on the windshield, under the fuse panel, probably between a belt and a pulley, left undetected by last week's oil change and probably more than a month's existence.  Sorry, bird, but in the natural order of things, we are supposed to rely on the Ford more than you.

Friday, May 2, 2014

On Email

I brought up "email" at our staff meeting this week.  I encouraged staff to consider a real reverence for the power of the subject line - you can get a LOT across in that sweet space.

Is this email an FYI?  Is there ACTION NEEDED?  Is it a NNTR?  (no need to reply)

The whole point is, we want our email to be concise (if I can't read it on my mobile device, I may not ever really hear from you) and we want to know what you need from us.  And we certainly want to avoid a situation in which our email recipient replies with TL;DR  (too long, didn't read)!

I am working on only looking at email a few times a day instead of having a Pavlovian reaction to an incoming message (I've turned off alerts and minimize my email most of the day) and I'm using the OHIO method (only handle it once) - which is a kinder, gentler way of regarding those pesky new messages so your inbox doesn't choke your breathing.  Email isn't as cool as I once thought.

In my preparation for the staff meeting, I came across some funny email habits, written by someone else but I had to share, as I'm guessing you may recognize these communicators, too:

The doctoral candidate

This group is the polar opposite of the Gen Y'ers who are accustomed to texting with word shortcuts like "u" for "you." Though admirable for their need for absolute clarity, the Doctoral Candidates send the kind of email you dread opening. Their emails include greetings and salutations, the complete history of the issue at hand, and a request for a reply that stops just short of a self-addressed stamped envelope.  I know I sound like a real tool dissing the politeness of such emails, but, as it is with everyone else on the planet right now, my time is tight. If your email requires CliffsNotes, I'm likely not going to welcome it.

The stream-of-consciousness emailer

You know this kind of email. It's the I-guess-he-knew-what-he-was-saying-but-I have-no-idea-what-he's-talking-about kind. This is the person who is so intent on getting down the thoughts that flitter through his brain that he doesn't take into account how the recipient will perceive the message. I don't mind the occasional run-on sentence, but if your emails require the employment of a secret decoder ring, then you might want to flesh them out a bit. And say what you will about proper punctuation, but a missing or misplaced comma can make a big difference in meaning. (There's a big difference between "Let's eat, Mother!" and "Let's eat Mother!")

The out-of-context puzzler

Our jobs require that we communicate with about 50 people regularly and roughly 100 billion others occasionally. At least once a day I get an email from someone that simply says, "Do you still need that?" or "What did you think about that issue?" I don't care if I had a petabyte memory chip lodged in my head, there's no way I can remember the context of every message I get without a little background reminder.

The emotive emailer

Have you ever gotten an email that is so full of formatting (!) that you're EMOTIONALLY exhausted by the time you finish reading it?!! Or ones that contain keyboard emoticons that you've never seen or heard of? I'm really not up on the art of keyboard hieroglyphics, so I'm likely to interpret a laughing emoticon as a screaming one. And that can make a big difference. Also, I think human beings should be given a finite number of exclamation points to use in their lifetime and no more.