My Reading List

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I have not been blogging lately, but after a small gathering several ladies asked me why I was not writing.

No real reason, just life, I guess.

Today seemed like the perfect day to begin writing again.

As I sit down to write, I see my big stack of books I am reading or planing to read.

I find that reading comes in seasons for me. Some seasons I can’t get enough to reading. Then other times, I can go for a few months without reading at all.

In the category of: “Really want to read and feel it would be helpful in my life”

***The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. By Marie Kondo

This small book is about decluttering your life. I kinda hate to read it because it requires action. I am not sure if I am there yet.

***Traction. By Gino Wickman

This is a business book–it is really fantastic. I know you’re thinking I don’t own a business anymore, so why would I be reading this book. I am reading it because I think it is a cross-over in other projects in my life.

***On Writing. By Steven King.

Yes, Steven King. This book was a gift from a good friend and I have loved every page of his view on writing. I see it working as I am writing to you.

***How Full is your Bucket? Love this  book by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton.

It is a book about interactions and their effects on our daily life. Love this book.

***List for Living/list for life. By Myrna Ossin.

Was this book written for me? It sure seems like it. It is a resource book for life.

***Steps to Christ. By Ellen G White.

This small pocket book is full of God’s grace to us. As I read these passages, I know I am taking one more step to becoming closer to Christ.

On the fun read list:

***The Expatriate, by Janice Y K Lee

This book is a intense novel, full and thick with adventure.

***The Improbability of Love, by Hannah Rothchild

This is a fun novel with characters rich in history and silly in imagination.

That is my reading list. Let me know if you have any great books to add to our list.

“A reader lives a 1,000 lives,” said Jojen. “The man who never reads lives only one.”

Ahh read on…

One sentence for 2016

Let the law of kindness be upon my lips and the oil of grace in my heart. 

This is my motto for the year in 2016

I have not blogged much lately. Life seems to swallow me up each day. So now I promised myself that I would be more dedicated to writing. Setting personal goals is something I learned to love many years ago. My dear friend and mentor first asked me to write a one sentence statement on how I wanted my life to unfold that year.

It was 1981, I was pregnant with my third child. The thought was overwhelming. My disabled son was 4 and struggling everyday. My second child, a three year old, understood at some level that life was complicated. I worried constantly about how I would manage a new baby safely and give the needed attention to my two boys.

Nevertheless, she persisted on writing the one goal.

On the back of an electric bill envelope I scribbled, “may I find joy in the children who had been entrusted to my care”.

I phoned Mrs. Stibick to say I had written my  statement. Now, she said, each day write that sentence somewhere. It will be the most powerful thing you can do for your life.

And so it was. I wrote it in the middle of the night with a sick child. I wrote it in the car as we waited for their father. I wrote it on my hand one day in the bathroom. Writing a pledge to oneself and living that pledge can sear in your mind what you desire your mind to feel.

So today I will write, let the law of kindness be upon my lips and the oil of grace be in my heart.

GTD

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This time of year, nothing has more meaning than GTD (Getting Things Done).

I wake in the night with random thoughts of all that needs to be accomplished. Fruit needs to be sent to an Aunt in Colorado. Did I wrap that gift card? Where did it go? Do I need to buy gifts for my stepson, grandchildren?

I toss and turn, trying to find a cold spot on the sheets. Finally, I give up and get out of bed. I write all the worries and concerns on a long list. Now I can sleep.

When morning arrives, I pour a cup of scalding coffee and look at the list. Nothing that seems to be an emergency. Just a list that need to be addressed. Why does everything seem so gigantic in the night?

I write GTD on the top of the list and begin to make calls to order the items and check which gifts need to be wrapped, scratching off each item as I go. The day slips by quickly, I hop into bed happy that the list has only two items left.

And then… the night fights me again. My mind zooms.

*Why is the internet still out in the office?

* I have to remember to get the suitcase repaired. Handle sticks in the up position.

* Did the dog get her flea medication on the first of the month?

* Why does my mother not want to come to the beach for Christmas. Is it the drive?

Oh man!  I slink quietly our of bed. My husband is sleeping peaceful. I pull out the long thin tablet and write GTD.

1) Sleep more

GTD by David Allen

Giving Season

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My office is filled with wrapping paper and ribbons. Little bags and boxes are stacked about. It is Christmas!

I begin to organize the gifts by families. The gifts that need to be shipped have to have the first priority. I put sticky notes on each gift, matching them with boxes that fit each purchase.

Sitting on the floor, I begin the process of making all this mess turn into lovely gifts. It is a labor of love. I have a color scheme this year. Obviously I have too much time on my hands.

But what if I could not do this? What if the money was not there to buy gifts for others? Would I still feel this same dreamy Christmas feeling? Could I enjoy this holiday if gifts were completely out of the equation?

Yes.

I would love the baking and making jam.

I could still enjoy the Christmas tree, without those pesky gifts under it, somehow it would not be as special.

What about the holiday parties? They are just as fun with or without gifts. So thats is one for the giftless list.

I sip steaming hot tea and look at the chaos spread on my office floor. What makes this so much fun?

It’s the giving that makes it Christmas.  That’s just it.

So if I want to find this joyfulness the rest of the year, I need to find more ways to give all year long. Perhaps I can give of my attention to someone who is lonely by listening better. Can I give the gift of time to people in my life ?

I can create moments and traditions all year with friends who are dear to me.

Giving. Could it be the key to our happiness? I am quite sure it is.

My Favorite Holiday

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The new day slips open with a flaming pink sky. I can hear small finches chirping in the palm trees. They hop and flit quickly around the palm-frons.

It is a typical November morning in Florida.

Thanksgiving will be here before I know it. It is my favorite holiday. I count the guests we are expecting and plan the table settings. I try to plan the perfect time to hit the grocery store.

The menu is both traditional and not traditional at all. We have vegetarians, vegans, meat-eaters and picky children all to make it more fun.

I read this blog by Seth Godin: Seth Godin: Thanksgiving Reader My family voted that his Thanksgiving Reader was too long to read at Thanksgiving dinner, but I enjoyed it anyway. Perhaps you will too.

Since our family is a pretty impatient crowd, I wrote a small poem instead. I think this is about all the Thanksgiving reading they will do:

We are gathered here
with lots of cheer for this holiday.

Come dine with us, don’t make a fuss
the menu is quite broad.

Chick peas and beans
for those don’t believe in eating birds.

For those who do, oh what a coup
five kinds of turkey we will stew.

Potatoes, beans and all the rest
It’s Thanksgiving……Wow, what a mess.

Looking Ahead: Plans for Life

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“Ultimately, really successful people live their lives by design instead of default, so if you want to be one of them, dedicate time and effort to determining the plan for your preferred future and execute that plan in a focused and consistent manner.”

This small paragraph has been my mantra in life. Now as I have taken the steps in “renewment” also know as retirement, I must find a new focus.

My new 58 list was almost completed, but then my 58 year turned into 59.

My new list is:

59 things to be excited about

I thought I would share the top 10 with you.

  1. Build and plant a raised garden and plant for winter
  2. Begin tennis lessons
  3. Write 10 small poems
  4. Learn two pieces on the piano
  5. Learn how to make and can marmalade
  6. Host 6 dinner parties this year
  7. Plan and go on two fishing trip in the US: Montana and Colorado
  8. Find a new volunteer project, just giving my time directly to another human being
  9. Memorize one bible verse each week
  10. Make sure I spend quality days each month with my grandchildren

The first paragraph I quoted still is critical to my life, but now I can temper it with a timeline I love.

Creating value in our lives when we are not working is something that takes effort. Being proud of how we spend our days and being accountable to God for the days were are given is really important.

Just because I do not have a job to go to each day, does not mean I have no critical assignments in life.

Make your list, and share it with us. Together we are stronger and smarter women.

Vegtrug: raised bed gardens

Project Renewment

Soaking Up My Grandchildren

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For the past few days, I have been babysitting my grandkids. The twins are almost 7 and baby Emmaline is 19 months. After everyone was sleeping I sat quietly to try and figure out what makes grandchildren so extremely dear in our lives. It’s not really the darling things they say, or the smiles and giggles that flow like magic from them every hour.

It is something more pure. Remember the feeling when you first fell in love with your husband? That first love feeling? Then your children were born, the magical stunning emotional love you have for that child is unspeakable.

Then life drifts along for years. And it happens, new love all over again. This time it is for a grandchild.

Nothing can compare to new love. Falling in love all over again with someone who is part of you, but this time it has an added bonus. You are not completely and totally responsible for them. Your are responsible for the good things, the fun times, the memories. Wait, there is more. Age. We have learned to appreciate the best things about children. The giggling, endless questions and even the fighting is fun.

I force myself to make the “mad teacher” voice when they are unruly, but inside I am chuckling about how inventive they are.

Some days its hard to find great thing about being older, but being a grandmother is definitely  one of them. I decided to make a list of some other good parts about getting older:

*You can travel, because you’re not working as much and you have some extra $

*The little things, most of the time are just little things and you don’t wigged out about them

*Your friends have known you a long time, it’s easy to be with them, no explanation needed

*You can lie about your age. Older gets better responses like, “wow you look so wonderful for you age”

*Waking up early is easier, older people need less sleep.

*You know lots of music because you have lived through lots of genres.

Okey, it was hard to come up with too many. So we better soak in the really good things about this stage. Like Grandkids.

“It is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us”

A Conversation In Istanbul

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The sun is setting over Istanbul. There is a mysterious glow rising from the city.
We are sitting on the roof of the Four Seasons Bosphorus, which was formerly a prison.
The call to prayers can be heard echoing around the closing of the day.
A slight chill has settled in over the roof top. The young server brings us a soft warm fleece throw. We tuck it around our knees and cuddle close on the soft couch.
The Turkish red wine is rich and smooth. And for a moment it seems the whole world is quiet.
I can see a couple on their rooftop terrace. They are sipping small cups of Turkish coffee. I wonder how they will sleep after that?

To my right is a famous bar called Seven Mountains. We ventured over there earlier. The view from the bar is spectacular, but it is crowded and very noisy.

A young woman sits beside us. Greeting us and asking about the warm throw.
She is from Philadelphia. We chat about our home origins and why we are in the city. She is a buyer for a major retailer in the United States. Textiles and rugs she explains.

She has been traveling through Turkey and Morocco finding small family rug makers. Purchasing one-of-a-kind rugs for her company. She tells me of her travels to a remote Moroccan village. Her voice is soft as she explains the process of purchasing and shipping the unique rugs.
We talk a of a buying budget, shipping cost and an online business versus a tradition store.

I tell her of my background as a buyer for 15 years.

The couple behind us interrupts, “We could not help but overhear, we are here selling jewelry designs”. They were from India, but live in Shanghai.
They had a stunning collection of jewels, several of which she is wearing.

Our conversation turns to our families, as it often does when women meet.
The young woman from Philly tells us she is tired of being aways from her two children. One only 8 months old and she has been gone for three weeks…
“I want to quit work”, she confides.  “I feel home sick for my children.”

The sky is dark now, and we can hardly see each other.

“Really,” she continues, “if I quit, I am not sure I will be better as a mother at home. I never seem to find balance. I am always off the deep end”.

I laugh, “we are the same all over the world, we never think we are quite doing it right.”

The Indian woman joins the giggling,
“I just said to my husband today how guilty I feel about being here with him and meeting this buyer. But you know what? The children are really completely fine for a few days. It’s all me.”

“How old are your children?” she asks me.

I reply, “older then you are, I am sure. 38 and 33.”

We all burst out laughing.

I stand up to go. Realizing how quiet our husbands have been.

“Ladies, I am older and I will say this quickly. I will probably never see either of you again in my life. I am sure of one thing. Life is finite, and time is a gift. A gift to our children, to ourselves. Be sure of who you are.”

I leave my blanket and go downstairs.
“This is why we travel”, I say to David.

This is exactly it.

Ancient Ephesus

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Have you ever been somewhere that was so awe inspiring that you could hardly believe you had the privilege of being there?

That is how I felt in the ancient city of Ephesus. To sit in the market where Paul preached and wrote the letter to the church of Ephesus, touched my heart deeply. To see where he was imprisioned and imagine all the lives that had passed through this place was so humbling.

We spent the afternoon studying the terrace houses that are being reconstructed. We are a small group of 9 people and an archaeologist who had been the leader of the discovery process here in Ephesus. His knowledge and passion of the time and the characters made the past come alive.  The advanced sewer systems, the tile flooring still intact. The shops that lined the walkway thousands of years ago.

As we are about to tour the terrace house, carefully protected from the elements with a $11 million tenting system, we meet a young doctorate candidate who works with our guide.  They greet each other in the most interesting way. The student take his hand pressing his forehead to his own head and then his hand to the head of his teacher.

I enquire about this greeting and the young man replies, “he is my great teacher. I want to show the greatest respect to him for he gives me life in his knowledge.” The young man is dressed in brown shorts and has dust from the dig all over his arms. ” Everything to come in my life will be because of what I have learned from him. Ahh teacher”. He gives his teacher an affectionate grin.
Wow that is big, I think it myself.

The day was soon over and we drove back to our home base. What a day. So much to soak in. I fall into my bed that night reviewing the day. The steps of Paul, the lives of people from 400AD, the student with his praise. It is why we travel.

Getting Around Santorini

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As we approach Santorini, it somehow had escaped me that to see this stunning little island you had to get up the mountain to the villages built on top. The cable car system looked scary and the line to go up was 45 minutes. So with that information, we choose to take a ferry boat to the end of the island and then walked a steep path to the small city, named Oia.

When we arrive, we are immediately speechless and overwhelmed by the  beauty of the view. Large rugged rocks jet from the ocean. The water color is bright sapphire. Each house is shockingly white with blue trim and some have yellow shutters. It looks like a fairy land.

We find a restaurant hanging off the cliff. The table has a soft blue and white striped cloth that matches the homes and the Greek flag.

We order chilled, local white wine and fresh bread still warm from the oven. It is served with olive oil and white vinegar. The kitchen is hanging pasta that was made this morning. We eat with thin noodles covered with boloneese sauce.

Why are these people not fat eating this every day? How can they make this kind of food and still not be overweight?

The next course is a platter of cold vegetables–artichokes, tomatoes and peppers.  We wander around the village, drinking coffee and eating greek yogurt with fresh raspberries. Sitting at each stop, falling in love all over again with the views of the sea far below.

The day is slipping away and we must catch a tender boat from the island. But now the big question-how to get down the mountain? Again I see the cable cars zooming down toward the dock. The other option is to take a donkeys down the mountain, so we go to just take a peak at the donkey trail. It is a steep set of steps.

So we turn the corner following the smell of …donkeys. Before we can say a word, the man is pointing and yelling, “here, foot here, get up. 5 euro please.” We are hoisted upon the smelly beast and they tie us in a small train of tourists and donkeys. Down the mountain steps we go.

At first I am proud that I am braving the donkey trail, but soon the animals build up some speed and brush me to the side wall. I am holding tight.

Around and around we ride, down one set of steps and down the curving pathway. The young woman behind me is swearing, she is a large 20 something woman from England. Her short skirt is now at her waist.  Cursing her boyfriend, she squeals as we trot along.

Not a moment too soon for me we stop. The mule handler/herder a man of maybe 50 with deep wrinkles like his job begins to yell at me. Pointing at the ground I look to see what he is shouting about, and he begins to pull me slightly from the donkey.

Oh Gosh, he wants us to get off. The dock is a long walk off. I jump to the ground and he pets the animal with affection. Whipsering to the mule and rubbing his nose. Like the poor animal had such a load with me. What about the large woman from England?

I begin to walk toward the dock, slightly stiff after only 20 minutes on board the mule.
We make our way to the dock quietly. Passing wandering mules along the way.
I have a overwhelming urge to wash my hands.

I see the cable cars zooming down the mountain. Everyone looks clean and happy. As I look, I feel a  slippers substance under my shoes. Donkey poop.

I guess you cant be afraid of cable car, want to visit a mountain top and still come out unscathed. A little dokey poo never killed anyone I guess. Wonder about a cable car????