Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Gone Fishing

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime."

There are many times while driving when I turn off the music, preferring the company of my own thoughts over lyrics that tell someone else’s story. Sometimes this isn’t a good thing, but often an epiphany of sorts works itself into my consciousness, giving me a clearer path into answers for my life.

On this particular trip I was on my way back from the grocery store and all kinds of thoughts were going through my head: “Where should I transplant my very shaky roots? How am I going to survive, financially? Are my kids going to be all right? Am I going to be all right? Should I switch jobs…and if so, what should I do?” I’m a creature of habit and don’t handle change well. Now every aspect of my life was up for grabs and I was grasping into air that seemed to be growing thinner by the minute.

The parable came to mind: if you want to truly help someone, don’t just give him fish, teach him how to fish so he can provide for himself in future years. I could definitely relate. I didn’t want someone to fix things for me, but I had no idea how to find the right fishing hole or how to go about beginning again. I needed to learn how to fish, to make a new start and take care of myself. “God,” I breathed, “please teach me how to fish.”

Instantaneously I heard these words: “Lori, you already know how to fish. You just have to cast your line.”

In all the weeks and months of feeling like a failure, of doubting myself and the gifts I have, I was given the reassurance that I do have a place in this world…that I do have something to offer and I can come back stronger, more confident and more able. I already have everything I need to make my life work.

It’s time to stop being afraid of the water, to believe in myself again and know that no one can ever take that away from me. I need to cast my line. It’s time to go fishing.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Planting Loveliness

My bedroom window faces east. It is where I start each day, looking over the new horizon into the morning’s sunrise. I keep the blinds open so my day begins with light and warmth, and from the moment my eyes open, I feel blessed to have a new opportunity.

The other night I was standing in my front yard, just beyond that window, teetering between practicality and my heart’s yearning. It’s the first time in twenty years that spring has come without a permanent place to plant my flowers. It takes a few years to really establish a flower bed and each spring finds me searching for the first shoots of my perennials. It’s disheartening to realize that like everything else in my life at this point, I have to start over. I’ve told myself that there is no need to plant flowers this year. After all, this place is probably temporary and there’s a good chance I won’t be living here next spring.

But then I walked to the corner of the house and kneeling down, hidden under the green leaves and thorns, I saw the loveliest blooms of wild roses. I was delighted to find that just beneath that bedroom window lay a thing of beauty. I had no idea they were there. There too, beneath the brambles of the past few months, is a heart that still loves, still feels joy, still wants to build a home where loveliness lives. It's time to start planting and growing and living again. I still have the wonderful life that I've always had. It's simply a new chapter in an ever-changing story.

Idle bricks from a former tenant were stacked by the garage and they soon became my border. A trip to town reaped impatiens, marigolds and salvia. How could I not? It is a part of me, a part of my past and one I’m not willing to leave behind. And I've realized that everything is temporary, no matter how much we want to think it is ours. The secret – and the joy – isn’t in the possession; it’s making every place, every thing, every person we touch better and more beautiful because we paused beside them for awhile.

“If of thy mortal gifts that art bereft,
And from thy slender store
Two loaves alone, to thee are left;
Sell one and with the dole,
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.”

Saturday, April 30, 2011

To Tell The Truth

Sometimes I wonder if my blog is a lie.
Everything I’ve ever written here is absolutely true….and everything is mine: every thought, every feeling, every word.
The falsehood doesn’t come with what I’ve said, but from what has been held back.

This last year I’ve experienced more pain than I have at any other point in my life. Some parts have been devastating, leaving me angry and hurt. I’ve often felt as if I’d been picked up in a whirlwind then dropped in the middle of nowhere, stunned, bruised, lost. I didn’t share that part of my life here for several reasons: If I didn’t put the circumstances “out there”, maybe it wasn’t really true; I am somewhat a private person and sharing the hurt made me uncomfortable; the pain I felt left me like a wounded animal who simply wanted to be left alone; and….I felt like a failure.

I have another journal that takes its shape in an inexpensive composition notebook. There is something cathartic about putting pen to paper….and this is where these thoughts reside. Inside its cover there is pain and fear. There is uncharacteristic angry and there is sadness. But I’ve also noticed a recent turning of my heart. Over the months I’ve seen the strength return; a perseverance that is winning over the heartbreak because I realize every day is a gift. All of my life I’ve been able to look ahead just enough to see where it is I’m going. I’ve been fortunate that most of that path has been sunlit. I understand now there are no reassurances about tomorrow, there are no foolproof plans. It’s been difficult knowing that on this new journey, there is no map. And then I realize… there never really was.

So has this been a lie by omission? Perhaps. But the truth is this: despite it all, I’ve had a wonderful life filled with wonderful family and friends. I am blessed with love and faith and a heart that still believes in the goodness of people. There is much ahead of both sorrow and joy, but I choose to walk into the sunlight. Because for me, it’s the only choice there is.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Hope Awaits

After such a long absence, it's hard to find the right words to transition my life of last summer into what I live now. But somehow this photograph, taken several years ago, seemed to fit. In it our beloved dog, G.T., looks out over the horizon into a waiting world....a world he is no longer part of. It now feels like forever ago, yet was less than a year, when we lost him; a faithful friend...the best dog I've ever had. And the world seemed less bright and certainly empty as we buried him at the edge of our property where the endless sky meets the waving prairie grasses.

I, too, am looking across the horizon and wondering what awaits me. It has truly been a year of loss, and my view these days is across an unfamiliar landscape. I put my trust in a future that will no longer be, and in someone who's decided that he doesn't really love me after all.

It took several months to get a grasp on that fact; to start lining up ducks and stop stumbling through a maze of darkness and grief. I'm not there yet - to the place I need to be - and I'm still searching for that familiar sky of blue where my heart felt peace and I knew where I belonged. It's difficult to redefine "home," but if it really is where the heart lies, then I belong many places. And in a time of uncertainty and loss, that's nice to know.

So for now I'll follow suit in the steps of a kind blue healer, look out into the beautiful, vast world and promise myself that with the approaching spring awaits new life...and new hope.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Family Matters

Last summer we started a tradition. To celebrate my parents' 60th wedding anniversary, as many of my family members who could gathered at a lovely inn at Branson, MO.

We didn't go for the shows or to cruise the strip in bumper to bumper traffic. Instead we settled along Lake Taneycomo, choosing the more sedate old downtown and the new Landing to spend our time.

This year we repeated the experience, staying in the same inn and sitting in wicker chairs and rockers on the wrap-around porch. It was very hot, very humid.....but that didn't deter us from the long talks that are the staple of our family.

It was definitely a time for togetherness, but there were also moments devoted to solitude. In the coolness of the mornings, I walked along the boardwalk that ran beside the lake. The mist rose from the water like a silent genie, hovering just above its surface as ducks glided smoothly along its glassy top. Only a handful of people shared my space: joggers and fellow wanderers also seeking the refuge of the quiet morning. It was so nice to be out before both the heat of the day and the throngs of people who inevitably come to share such a beautiful place. Leaning over the railing and watching the day begin was captivating: the definition of peace.....the porthole for contentment.

And the days were filled with their charm, too. My sister drummed up a group of us and brought in so much business to the local dollar store that the clerk rewarded us with free hats!
We perused the local shops, bought trinkets to take back home and ate a LOT of food!

One afternoon we loaded up and headed to Table Rock Lake to spend a few hours at my cousin's house. He took us on a grand tour of the lake with my brother-in-law as co-pilot, my brother and I at the stern and my parents tucked comfortably behind the driver's seat.

Twenty of us took seats on the boat dock, in lounge chairs on the back deck or inside the house to talk about the days of the past and what lies ahead. One niece brought a friend while another inducted her fiancee to our extended family vacation. That's one of the many things I love about us: everyone is welcome.....everyone belongs.

Many people don't understand how our family gets along and why we so enjoy being together.

To me it's simple. We truly love each other.

We are individuals, part of one whole; intertwined with history and a genuine like for one another. I would pick them to be with even if we weren't related. We are connected, not just through blood but through ideas and thoughts, likes and friendship. They are the thread of my very existence, woven into who I am and where I come from.
It's a lovely tradition, this getting together. And no matter where we are, whether home or on the road, we are family. I wouldn't change that for the world.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A 21st

Today my daughter turns 21. Twenty-one. How did the years pass so swiftly?

It surely wasn't that long ago when I held her, as a new baby, in my arms for the first time. Yet here is proof in the beautiful young woman who stands before me.

Gone are the days of picture-making as she sits at her little school desk, pen gripped firmly in her left hand. Disney tunes no longer resonate from her room as she twirls in her pretty sundresses and sings along. Barbies are tucked away in plastic containers and fluffy stuffed animals gather dust from inattention.

It is as it should be. Another autumn is around the corner and a college dorm awaits. I'm excited for her as she begins yet another part of her journey. But I'll miss her...

For now, on this July day, I'll pretend she's mine forever as I tuck the memories close to my heart and savor each moment we share.
Twenty-one. Indeed, they've passed so quickly.

Happy Birthday, my beautiful girl. I Love You!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sunrise, Sunset...

This was the sky that greeted me yesterday morning. I was lying in bed, just before my alarm went off, and woke suddenly to see a orange glow outside my bedroom window. Since the sun and I get ready for the day at the same time, I had to snap this quickly before I headed for the shower.

By evening, the calm of the day turned stormy as clouds built to the north and south of us. Still, their beauty was magnificent, and these were the images left to me at the end of the day.

Though the only thing we got from the storms was distant thunder and lightning, they left behind calling cards that punctuated perfectly this golden July day.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Aftermath of a storm

The storm that hit last night was over by the time we got home. The heavy rains and wind quickly swept across the prairie and though we could see it in the distance, we never caught up to its fury.

The sun was just setting by the time we reached home and I was able to catch the band of clouds at the back of the storm. It was hard not to be mesmerized by the contrast of the serene sky and the puffs of stormy white.

After the sun had gone down it left a beautiful orange glow that was both eerie and beautiful. It swooped down into our yard like a loose canopy, suspended there in golden silence.

I took one last picture from the back door, loving all the elements at play: the bright blue sky, vibrant pink clouds with a scattering of smaller ones at the forefront and the gray storm beneath.

In their wake they brought refreshing cool air and left a lasting loveliness I'll not soon forget...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Story remains...and continues.

This afternoon the kids and I went to see "Toy Story III." I knew I was in trouble when I got choked up 5 minutes into the movie.

Maybe it was the fact that the two people sitting beside me, also sat beside me in 1995 as we watched the movie that started it all. Except then they were 3 and 6 and the days of graduation and college were something in the distant future. How was I supposed to know that time would pass so quickly? The sweet, tender ending found me fighting to hold back sobs as I contemplated the fast-approaching day when I step into my own home of empty bedrooms and find remnants of the children they used to be.

When we first talked of going to the theater, my daughter went through the old toy box and found their original Woody and Buzz. Their simple design were no match for the 'new and improved' versions that now line the store shelves in fancy boxes and packaging. And yet, like the characters in Pixar's brilliant movie, these toys were also once well-loved. And then it was only a matter of time before they too, were shelved as the children of yesterday put away their play things and stepped into tomorrow.
I think the things in life that touch us the most are those things that reflect our own feelings and experiences. Whether that is watching a movie, listening to music, or sharing a conversation. Connecting with where we've been and where we're going is sometimes difficult or even hurtful, but it also lets us know there's still hope and love and courage to go on.

Who'd have known that two fictional characters could ignite such profound emotion? Growing up, moving on, looking forward. Those are changing things, and even though that change can be - and usually is - good, it can take some readjusting.

For awhile the cowboy and man from "infinity and beyond" will hang out around the house as we reminisce about those days of long ago. Then once again they'll find their way back to yesterday, living on in the memories of playful days in little hands and voices. I'm sure I'll join them there from time to time; remembering, too, how it used to be, yet looking forward to what's yet to come.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Starting again

These past few months I've been on a journey. It's been a chapter in the making for some time now; trying to find a balance in my days as I transition from one place to another.

There have been all kinds of things to write about, but I could never seem to formulate or articulate any of my thoughts. I stared at a blank screen more than once, willing words to come, but just as that watched pot never boils, pressure to produce seemed to bring about just the opposite.

Though my words were stilled, my heart was not. I have felt intense emotions these last few weeks: some good...some not so good. But the fact that I feel something gives me hope that the words will eventually come.

So if you're still there, know that I'm still here.
It's time to begin once again.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bring on Spring

Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm a sunset girl. Though I've seen a many spectacular sunrises, it is dusk's display that always captures my attention. 

It's been a long, cold winter and many of us are struggling to reconcile our bodies with the grayness that has seemed to encapsulate us these last few months.  Sunshine has been rare and spring can't come soon enough. 
A few nights ago, even though there were more clouds than sun, I noticed how the light was reflecting off the side of our house.  It almost looked like a painting and I hurried to capture the texture it created. 

Though winter has its own loveliness, I'm tired of the show.
The calendar says spring is a week away and with his forecast of sunshine this week, the weatherman concurs.
I hope they're right.  I'm ready to have my life - and my sunsets - back.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Best Laid Plans

This is Bill.  We work together every Sunday in a wonderful environment that gives us the opportunity to help others.  Over the last nine months I've gotten to know Bill pretty well and look forward to the days we spend together.  He has shared many stories of his life and is in the process of writing down his journey, beginning with his earliest recollections of life on a small Kansas farm.

Last week we talked a lot about writing.  Though we both enjoy it and have the best of intentions, the words of our minds and hearts so often get put on a dusty shelf for another time.  Other things seem to step inside the limits of our creative boundaries, taking their place.  Sometimes it's the necessaries of life....but more often it's insignificant distractions that steal moments from things that need to be said.

We don't have tomorrow.  Only today.  Time to put aside the excuses and get down to business.  Even if "business" is simply the things we love to do.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A New Year

Even though I don't officially make resolutions, I always wish - off the record - for things I'd like the New Year to hold. But wishes only go as far as your motivation and desire. You have to work towards dreams and guard them with a fierce protection to ensure both their safety and success in coming true.

So here's to 2010: a new year, a new decade and a new opportunity for matter what name - or form - they take.

Monday, November 16, 2009

"If I Only Had A Brain"

An excerpt from the show....see more about it in the post below!


Somewhere Over the Rainbow

It's been nearly two months since I've written here; not because there was nothing to write, but because there was so much to be done. These photos tell the story of why I've been absent for the past few weeks.

My son, the scarecrow in our production of "The Wizard of Oz", performed for the last time on Saturday night and I wanted to be there for the journey. That included making several costumes, building sets and gathering props. Though it was a long and exhausting process, I wouldn't have traded it for anything.

In our very small school, theatre is far down on the list of priorities so in order for it to be successful, it takes outside help to make things work. Along with a wonderful director and pianist, a handful of parents stepped in to transform 14 kids into magical creatures from a land somewhere over the rainbow.

A few students, including Uncle Henry and Auntie Em, had to play more than one role. Though it proved to be challenging it also showcased their talents and gave them more opportunities to perform. The efforts and success of these dedicated kids shows that it is the quality that goes into a show, not the quantity. It also proves that with encouragement from others, the right tail wind and a belief in their own wings, they can indeed fly.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Embrace the moment!

This is a picture I love. It was taken by one of my daughter's friends while they walked down the road leading away from our house. There is something unbridled and unrehearsed when young people take the camera, and it's reflected in moments like these. Moments when joy comes naturally from time spent together; when you look down the road and see so much ahead. When the world is embraced with energy and hope and plans for the future. When you love everything about your life.

"Oh, who will walk a mile with me...along life's merry way?"
This is a picture I love...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sky Watch - Morning Windmill

This was the sky that greeted me a couple of mornings ago as I headed off to work. With the windmill and cattle silhouetted by the dawn, it was easy to start the day with a song in my heart.

"Oh what a beautiful morning...
Oh what a beautiful day...
I've got a beautiful feeling...
Everything's goin' my way..."

Visit here for more Skywatch from around the world.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Skywatch - Gold on Blue

There are many things of beauty in this world: the great works of art, the masterpieces of architecture and literature...visual concepts and words that touch our soul. But there is nothing so lovely as the the magnificence of nature and those things that no man - no matter how talented - can capture.

A sunflower field is always a beautiful sight, but especially in the morning. Though dusk adds a golden glow and a feeling of peace, the sun in its beginning enhances the brilliance of their golden palette. Add a canvas of blue and you have a true work of art.

The Master's handiwork, at its best.

Tune into Skywatch for more beautiful photos from around our world.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Son Flower

It's Sunflower time again. With the brilliant golden blooms that dot the Kansas prairie brings the dawn of my son's senior year....and I'm not ready.

You tell yourself that this time is coming. While he rides his stick horse around the living room, helps you with brownie-baking and creepy-crawler-making and lies beside you on a blanket of green grass with a storybook in one hand and a cookie in the other, you tell yourself that these times don't last. But with the busyness of everyday life and the endless days of childhood sweetness, you don't really believe it.

Then before you know it, he's taller than you with a deep voice and in a circle where you're no longer the center. It's where you want him to be, where you raised him to be and you encourage him to fly, while clipping your own wings just a bit so you're not tempted to follow behind.

He is a unique individual, my son; strong in who he is and marching confidently to the rhythm that he hears, knowing that I love him unconditionally. While his friends gear up for a year filled with football and fun, he looks beyond that to what's over the horizon and the possibilities that lie past the boundaries of our little town. And while I feel melancholy at the prospect of him growing up, I'm excited for the paths he has before him. I know he carries the tools to build a joyful life and will use them well in his journey.

So as this last school year approaches and an era comes to an end, embrace your life, son. Enjoy who you are and what this world has to offer. Leave each day a little better than its dawning possibilities. Be strong and go forward with a song - and a Kansas Sunflower - in your heart, knowing I love you.....and that I always will.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

SkyWatch - Thistles

I can't resist taking photos of thistles everytime I pass them by. There is something beautiful and intriguing in the brilliant fuchsia blooms, even though their thorny leaves are a menace to the farmers.

Enjoy SkyWatch each week with beautiful photos from around the world.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Beautiful Weeds

Beauty is all around me on the path that leads to home. It is unpaved and set deep with ruts that make it near impossible to travel by car. That's why I like it. The chances of running into another person are remote and thus, I have the whole place to myself.

There are no roses that line this weed-infested path; no flowering vines that wind enchantingly around the whispering cottonwoods. Here are the overlooked beauties of the roadside: the noxious thistle, foxtail, field bindweed, common yarrow and many others whose names escape me.

In the bright Kansas sun they could be easily missed. Their presence is ordinary and to most, unwelcome. They invade field and pasture like an uninvited guest who camps haphazardly wherever they feel at home. At first glance they are hardly impressive and plain, at best.

But kneel down and take another look. Intrusive, perhaps. Common, most certainly. But one cannot question their beauty against the cobalt of a bright May sky.

Look again. Life is comprised of much more than just roses. Consider the thistle. It holds a magic - and loveliness - of its own.