Tuesday, February 7, 2012

'1000 Gifts' via Ann Voskamp's book

So I just finished the above-named book, and I will tell you this, it is one of very, very few books (if any) that I am picking right back up and reading all over again, it was that......good. 'Good', however, does not come close to describing it.

Ann, the mother of six children (who are still young), writes in poetry/prose of her very personal quest to find fulfillment, happiness, and JOY. Her discovery is that it is the act of GRATITUDE that brings one to JOY, which ultimately is where we find GOD. This is of course a very simplistic description of what she says in her book; I believe no verbal description can truly give her story and message its due.

I will say that, halfway through, I began my own list of '1000 Gifts' and found myself on my own personal journey.
#83: 'So many birds at my feeders'
#94: 'Grapefruit juice down my front'
#125: 'Little children falling asleep'
#237: 'Not nagging even when I really want to.'
I'm on #238.

And what's the journey exactly?

GRATITUDE........practicing GRATITUDE every day, every minute......thinking of GRATITUDE especially during the hard times, the bad times. There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for, even when it seems like there isn't. Consistently and constantly acknowledging and verbalizing gratitude actually DOES BRING JOY....it's pretty much a miracle that you can feel happening inside you. And JOY, to me, and I think to Ann, is GOD; experiencing true JOY is experiencing GOD.

Ann is a Christian woman, which may turn some people off........I understand that because the idea of 'Jesus' used to scare me, too. But I'm 62 now, and Jesus doesn't scare me anymore. And I know that God is in my corner.

But I think this book is for everyone.......because we are ALL on our own journeys, and living Ann's with her through her book '1000 Gifts' just feels so...........

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Westminster, Colorado

Westminster, Colorado, has become my fourth 'home' over the past six years or so. By some stroke of luck, when I first started sojourning out to 'Colorful Colorado', I happened to find the most wonderful Marriott Springhill Suites just off Hwy 36, and I do believe that I have rented space there a minimum of 40 nights during that time span. Maybe more.

And why is that you might ask? Is it the skiing? the Rockies? the Mile-High City? Pearl Street? No, no, no and no. It is, in three proper nouns; 'Sarah', 'Andy' and the 'Barclays'.

Westminster is situated almost exactly halfway between Denver and Boulder, Sarah and Andy's cities respectively. It is the first town out of Denver's city limits, close to all the amenities (within walking distance you will find a full-service Target, Macaroni Grill and Qdoba....oh, and the Butterfly Pavilion!), but also surrounded by fields of little picas (they're like gophers but cuter), and miles of walking trails.

In 20 minutes I can get in my rental car, (or our truck), head east, and be at Sarah's door in the exact center of Denver; and in 20 minutes, going west, I can be in Andy's parking lot right next to his Yellow Cab (yes, he's a Boulder cab driver, and a damn good one too!) :) In 45 minutes, I can head further west and exit off of I70 onto the Evergreen Parkway ramp, in the middle of the foothills, and visit with our best friends, the Barclays!

Some of my visits have revolved around family 'emergencies' (eg, Andy needing the protruding staples in his knee to be extracted, and another time for another extraction, his wisdom teeth! Then there was the time Sarah had an unexpected hospital visit; and another when she just needed some mom-care.) And for Barb and me, sometimes our emails just don't cut it, we have to figure in some face-to-face time. But mostly it's just that.....TIME......time well-spent to have a few meals together, shop (yeah, lots of shopping)....gabbing, sharing, catching up.

TIME....to be together, to laugh, maybe cry, to make some memories together.

This, to me, is pretty close to a nirvanal experience. Within a three-day time period, I can visit with distant loved ones, enjoy the beauty that is Colorado, navigate my way around now-familiar territory, and, increasingly, feel 'at home' there. Over the past couple of years Carlton has accompanied me on these trips west, and I do believe he, too, is feeling more like a now-and-then resident rather than a foreign visitor. Even the dogs have their place at Camp Bow-Wow in Boulder and have traveled through the area enough times now that the aromas and odors have made their way into their scental memories.

Yes, Westminster, Colorado..........'our place' west of the Mississippi, east of the Rockies, our base of operations for staying in touch and staying close to people we love.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


I do believe in God.
I am not a sun-worshipper per se.
But, damn, the Sun is truly my friend.
Here in Vegas, we wake up to a blue sky nearly every day, and, as the sun rises behind the eastern mountains, it seems that within a few minutes its warmth begins to penetrate my physical self. My brain wakes up to its rays, and my heart beats just a touch faster, rushing warm blood throughout my veins. I feel good, I feel well, I feel alive, I feel HAPPY---all the way to my core.
We watch the weather news from back home----snow, snow and more snow----but even worse, to me, is the clouds, clouds, clouds, and more clouds.
Being in the Lansing area, the middle of Michigan's palm, we tend to get lots and lots of cloud cover and, in fact, Lansing rates second to Seattle's prize of highest number of cloudy days. I hate this; I abhor this. And, as we get older, I find that I can't tolerate it anymore. When we're 'stuck' in Michigan during the winter, I would like to crawl into the den of a black bear and stay there, comatose until the spring has arrived in full force.
Thankfully, we have our place out here in Vegas, and I am truly one grateful, thankful, happy girl.
Unfortunately, we are due to head back home in a week or so, and I am trying to gear myself up. Here in the sun, the cherry trees have begun to blossom, and leaf-buds are appearing on the trees. The sun's warmth has cranked up by just a few degrees, but still, we can feel it. It's like a miracle to me because I know this isn't going to happen 'at home' for another two months!
Like I said, though, I'm getting psychologically ready to go back. And I have to know that I can do this with a cheery demeanor. So, when we get home, I will busy myself with projects inside the house, trying to avoid the white and the gray just outside my windows.
And I promise I won't dwell on such things as snow-melt or crocuses, blue skies and bright Sun. But you can bet I'll notice it when they happen!

Friday, October 9, 2009


In less than a month, that's what I'll be......60....



6 DECADES.....

Three fifths of a CENTURY.....

No matter how you look at it, it's old....Well, maybe not compared to 90, or 85, or 76, or 64, but still, 60 feels old. It feels like, if I died, no one would think how tragic that is, that I died too young. Everyone, including me, would say, "She had a good life, a great life, she died a happy woman." They wouldn't say, "Oh, how sad.....she died too young."

Sixty (60) IS old. And anything beyond that is icing on the cake......

So now the trick is to get past feeling old and figure out how to stay young.....young at heart anyway. And I think I know how to do that, it's just a matter of mentally getting past the 'old' feelings---those physical aches and pains that seem to have crept into daily living, those scared feelings of being 'at the end', and the fleeting but pervasive thoughts that I've already lived the best part(s) of my life and now it's downhill from here.

It's time to put all that into perspective with grace and gratitude, and move forward, with wings on my feet and a song in my heart.....and I know it's in me to do just that.....and I will, maybe even before I actually turn 60!

But, for right now, I'm only 59 and 11/12---so if I curl up on my favorite chair with Daisy, my favorite Beagle, and take a little afternoon siesta, it ISN'T because I'm old.

I'm just resting........and savoring these days before I can no longer deny that I'm SIXTY. :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Our Little Conundrum Called "Las Vegas"

For decades, Las Vegas has been one of our 'places', beginning as a resting point for our motorhome trips when we were schlepping our young children from Michigan to California to visit their west coast grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins......then becoming an annual get-away spot for my sister, Diana, and I to meet (this tradition began the year after our mom's death in 1990 and continued for about a decade.) THEN, Carlton's sister lives there, one of our now-grown sons moved there, two of our other grown children moved to Colorado, it's 'close' to Sacramento and Phoenix where other family members live, and so it just seemed to make sense to make Las Vegas our 'west coast' home-base. Two years ago, we sold our motorhome and leaped into condo ownership (of course having no idea what was to become of the economy a year later, but oh well....). Our place is way south of the strip in a residential area (yes, people actually do raise families there!). We have a beautiful park right across from us where we take our two dogs twice each day and where people socialize beginning at 6:30 in the morning until 11 pm when the giant floodlights go off over the baseball diamonds. We have really begun to feel that Las Vegas is way more than an indigent's dream city or an entertainment den of iniquity...(even though my purse was stolen out of our rental car the day before we closed, and our condo was robbed last month! But those are whole other stories!--ask any Vegas resident--robbery is as common as strippers there!). As I said, we have been feeling pretty good about our decision; we love our cozy little 1000 square feet with its little private patio in back and beautiful vegetation in the front.....and we get to see so many people that we otherwise wouldn't.....the winter sun is much warmer than ours here in Michigan, AND to top it off, Las Vegas is where we go to CHURCH! We've been going for over a year now (and the Sundays we're not in Vegas, we listen to the podcasts!) . I call it 'Rock and Roll Church' because of the live music up on the altar (stage?); the 'regular-guy' pastor clad in jeans and a casual shirt; lots of cool multimedia presentations; full-immersion baptisms; communion for ANYONE who cares to take it; bible interpretations that make sense; and a fully inclusive atmosphere.....well, we love it there. And maybe one day Carlton will even get baptized! (my dream, not his). It's weird, though, when we tell anyone who doesn't know us that we're going to Vegas, we're sure they conjure up images of blackjack tables and slot machines, booze and debauchery. For us, it's all about Carlton's sister, our kids, other family members who fly in (which has happened a LOT!), trips to Sacramento and Denver, and ...........CHURCH. Yup, our little conundrum........we can't figure it out either. :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Once A Mom, Always A Mom

So my 'baby' turned 24 a couple days ago. He was at the house for the weekend, to celebrate Mother's Day and his birthday. He actually IS a Mother's Day baby---one of the many profundities of my life.....my firstborn was born on the First Day of Spring, 1976, my last one born on Mother's Day, 1985. (Sorry, but I do not believe those are mere coincidences, but rather reflect the 'magic' of life). When I was a little girl, all I ever wanted to be was, #1, a teacher, and #2, a mommy. I got to be both! But my favorite job by far has been the mommy gig...
So anyway, when we were having Mother's Day/Birthday dinner, Zach told about the tradition at work whereby the Birthday Boy/Girl is supposed to bring in some kind of special treat. Last year, Zach didn't participate. He has no 'significant other' at this point in his life (who would happily put something together for him), doesn't consume fattening or sugary foods himself, and basically thinks that people should be bringing HIM stuff, not the other way around (I can see his point). Anyway, I suggested we stop at Sam's and pick up some cupcakes or something, and at some point we decided that I would bake his favorite cookie, Snickerdoodles, for his coworkers. So we got home from dinner, and I got right at it. I must admit I think they were the best batch of Snickerdoodles I've ever made----(must've been the organic cinnamon!) Zach texted me later in the day on his birthday, letting me know what a hit his Birthday Treat was, and I had to smile to myself----Who would've thought that 24 years after my last baby was born, I would still be making birthday treats? Yup, once a mom, always............

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Circle; Round and Round It Goes

Over the past 72 hours, via text messages, emails, phone calls, and voice messages, Sarah has been detailing her exciting adventures as Education Coordinator for the Foothills Art Center (FAC) in Golden, Colorado. As it so happens, her first day in her brand-spanking new position coincided with the Center's opening of a new exhibit, called 'Colorado Art Open'. This exhibit features various, sundry, and juried works by local artists..........a collection of over 100 pieces ranging from Sculpture to Photography to Intaglio.
Sarah is learning a whole new language, she tells me, and entering a world that she is unfamiliar with......but that pulls her in .....like Alice and her rabbit hole. As she talks, my own mother's spirit stands beside me, taking it all in....my mother, an artist in her own right. My mother, former president of the Farmington Art Club (FAC), who spent decades perfecting her own skills with oils, acrylics, watercolor, who participated in juried shows, sold her pieces, knew the language of Art......my mother's spirit is awash with joy as she feels Sarah's enthusiasm and hunger.....
And amazingly, as a newcomer to creating my own art via watercolor, I too am pulled into this new world that Sarah is entering....I too feel the giddiness and wonder of creativity, of putting one's soul into something tangible......something that others might look at, and see you there...
There is a circle here.......Sarah, me, my mom.....and there is something so profound about watching that circle and being a part of it, all at the same time.......
How did I get so blessed in this life?