Monday, June 27, 2011

Girls gone wild...

What a GREAT weekend!
It included SO many of my favorite things:

driving out of town with friends...

literally heading into the sunset!

Even missing the turnoff because we were laughing and talking so much couldn't dampen the start of a weekend away from home - with NO agenda -beyond having fun!

Our destination?
A Lodge on a lake...

and, even with 3 meals a day included...
THIS is what 5 women think is needed for 2 days worth of Happy Hours and late night confessions...and laughing so much we 'tinked'!

Not that cavorting was the only thing on our schedule!

The time also included mornings of quiet and calm, with time for reflection,

and giving thanks not just for a beautiful setting but the presence of old friendsand an opportunity to learn more about 'new' ones.

Mid morning though found us on the road again for a short jaunt down the road...

headed to an old friends farm.

Rick and Virginia are antique dealers and folk artists that some of us have known for decades and, while Rick was in Elkhorn (WI) at a show, Virginia was happy to have us stop by.

Their farmhouse is circa 1807 and fits SO perfectly with their lifestyle and talents.

Don't you love the idea of having a dog that matches your hair color?
Every girl should be so lucky!

A few years ago, Rick and Virginia moved an old country store onto their property, from a small town several miles away, and now sell their primitives, fresh organic produce and yarn - homespun from Virginia's flock of sheep.

I could totally bring home everything in the store!

An unexpected pleasure was meeting one of Virginia's friends, and fellow knitter.
She was visiting for the morning, enjoying a summer day, knitting in the shade.

Julie was a total delight and, as it turns out, a former resident of our community and member of our church!
Talk about a small world...what fun to sit, compare notes and reminisce about times gone by.

I loved the twinkle in her eye and I'm crazy about her hair!
She even made knitting look like fun - not an easy task on a day with temps in the 90's!

There's so much for the eye to enjoy on the matter where you look -

and even their pets, who are all rescue animals, look perfectly suited for the setting!

It was a wonderful visit...although we couldn't help notice Virginia may have been as excited to see us leave as she was to see us coming!

We were delighted to help out the local economy!

But Lordy was it hot and sticky!

So even though it was tempting,

it was just TOO hot to sit and sunbathe or even go swimming.
Not to mention, seeing us in bathing suits may have scarred the retinas of young children!

Besides, we know our strengths!

We even found room for fantastic hanging baskets on the way home -

even if some of them had to be held on laps 'cause there was simply NO room left!

Thanks, ladies! I had a wonderful time...
it doesn't get much better than this!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I am not a 'list' person.

My mind isn't linear nor is it concise.

It's more 'free range'; roaming here and there, grazing at will on a particular topic or thought for a certain period of time and then moving on, with no apparent rhyme nor reason to its movements.

I get no pleasure from checking off a box signifying some completed task.

The very nature of ER work consists of hours of calm and extended moments of all hell breaking loose.

In the midst of the drama and chaos, NO check list is going help you then; you learn to fly by the seat of your pants - and to love the precariousness of it all.

That being said, on a friends blog several weeks ago, there were several 'lists' that I found intriguing and, as I was returning from the rez, ticking off mile after mile, I thought I'd give them a try.

I sometimes
... think I can't be a 'pain sponge' at work one more day; absorbing other peoples drama and despair.

... worry about the legacy, and lunacy, I'm leaving my children.

... wonder why I've been so blessed when other single moms struggle so hard.

... accept that even if relationships in my life had evolved differently, it would be just that - different - and not necessarily better than the life I've crafted by and for myself.

... wish I was more patient.

I always

... am grateful for the presence of family and friends in my life.

... trust that God has a plan for me and a purpose for my life.

... wonder when and how I will die.

... have an abiding sense of not being alone.

... try to see the humor is life's absurdities.

I never

... can travel through a town without wondering what it would be like to live there.

... want to lose my sense of wonder.

... will be able to retire.

... want to be a burden on my children.

... stop wishing I lived on the Jersey Shore in a cottage with a screened porch.

What would YOUR lists contain?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Let's review...

Boy... that vacation glow didn't get to last for long.
I didn't think I'd have to remind folks so soon, but here goes...

Ways to calm a 4 week old baby:




Playing soothing music.

Biting and throwing to a hardwood floor - twice - not so much!

Got it?

Don't make me have to remind you again!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

See ya!

By the time you read this post, I'll be gone.
I'm hopping into a van with 12 other people for a 16 hour ride into the middle of the country - and into such beauty it makes my eyes ache.
They don't call it the "Heartland' for nothing!

Although there are always people with an opposing viewpoint...

which tickles me since we'll be BEYOND this by several hundred miles!

THIS will be the scene when I wake up in the morning...

and I'll be breathing in the smell of sweet grass and sage and my soul will be refreshed!

Can you tell I'm ready?

Then a week of working for Habitat for Humanity, building homes and community on the reservation among people I love and respect.

I won't be posting anything here until I get back but if you're interested in seeing what we're doing, head over HERE and follow along!

ps: Don't even THINK of messing with my house while I'm gone...the dogs might not do more than lick you to death, but I can't say the same about the soldier with the gun!

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Lakota Primer

I leave tomorrow to go to Rosebud reservation in South Dakota.
It will be my 15th trip to a place I've come to love.

I hope you'll take 15 minutes and watch this wonderful TED talk.
It's powerfully disturbing.

While the images are from Pine Ridge, the reservation immediately adjacent to Rosebud, the realities are the same; the struggles are the same; the pain is the same.

It is a Third World nation within our own borders.

One of the criticisms I've heard about this 'talk' is that the images seem almost voyeuristic...and I understand the concern.

I think if you factor in that they were taken over a 5 year period, within the context of relationships between the subjects and the documentarian, it's easier to least for me.

His ending thought of giving back the Black Hills would not be the 'take away' I'd have left it with...that idea could be fodder for a whole blog in itself.

Even with those thoughts in mind, I think it's important to see.

Please pray for those of us going on the trip but, most of all, pray for the Lakota people.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

LOVE this!

A child stood on her seat in a restaurant,
holding the railing of the chair back,
as though to address a courtroom,

“Nobody knows what’s going to happen next.”

Then she turned, sliding back down to her food,
as relieved and proud to say the truth,
as we were to hear it.

Coleman Barks

Saturday, June 4, 2011

It's not denial. I'm just selective about the reality I accept.
Bill Watterson

I'm busy getting ready for our Mission trip and, while not a 'numbers' gal, found some statistics that make me weep.

AI (American Indian) communities face many health challenges including higher mortality rates from tuberculosis, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, accidents, diabetes, pneumonia, suicide, and homicide compared with other racial and ethnic groups .
********** ********** ********** **********
From 1999 to 2010, AI males in the 15 to 24 year old age group had the highest suicide rate (27.99 per 100,000) compared to white (17.54 per 100,000), black (12.80 per 100,000), and Asian/Pacific Islander (8.96 per 100,000) males of the same age.

When compared with other racial and ethnic groups, AI youth also have more serious problems with mental health disorders preceding suicide, such as anxiety, substance abuse, and depression.
********** ********** ********** **********
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of unintentional injury for AI people ages 1 to 44.
Adult motor vehicle-related death rates for AI are more than twice that of whites and blacks.

Among AI 19 years and younger, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury-related death, followed by suicide, homicide, drowning, and fires.

Among ethnic groups in the United States, AI children experience the highest rates of injury mortality and morbidity.

AI have a relatively high prevalence of alcohol-impaired driving and the highest alcohol-related motor vehicle mortality rates among racial/ethnic populations.
Among crashes on reservations from 1982 to 2002, an estimated 65 percent were alcohol-related. Nationally, during this same time period, 47 percent of total crashes were alcohol-related.
********** ********** ********** **********

I thought of a parable as I read the statistics – and I think it came to me because it holds a truth I obviously needed to remember.

You've probably heard it before:

A group of people, while exploring a remote area, stumbled upon a forgotten tribe whose practice was to throw its ‘unwanted’ children over the side of a footbridge to the rocks and rapids of the river below.

Appalled, the outsiders immediately broke into small groups; one decided to do a ‘root cause analysis’ of the traditions leading to the practice; another started a feasibility project to design a soft sided dam downstream to catch the surviving children; a subgroup worked on details for funding the project; still another group vowed to join the tribe and ‘change the practice from within’.

While the groups were all meeting, one individual waded in and began pulling children out of the river, carrying them to the shore and safety.

When his friends noticed what he was doing, they began mocking him, saying “How can you possibly think you’re doing any good? You haven’t gathered enough information. You don’t know what the cause and effect of your approach will be.
The problem is huge.
You don’t really think you’re making a difference, do you?”

Looking down at the child in his arms, the man replied, “I made a difference to this one.”

Those of us who journey to the reservation, year after year, are not oblivious to the realities and obstacles that the people of the Lakota Nation face.

We know the laws of averages and probability - and they’re daunting.

But we go back because the law of Love tells a different story.

We go back because we don’t define ourselves by the numbers of walls we put up, nails we hammer, door knobs we install, trim we paint or trenches we dig.

We know that as long as we define ourselves only by these physical realities, we are doomed to see ourselves as failures.

As people of faith, we have been called instead to relationship; to love, to calling by name people who feel invisible and forgotten.

We have been given the privilege of knowing people on the reservation and allowing ourselves to be known and blessed by their presence in our lives, through working side by side, sharing meals, fellowship and conversations that go far beyond the superficial.

We will not change statistics…hardship, illness, pain and death will come for us all.
But when they do, we will know that we matter to each other; that we don’t stand alone; that our small lives and efforts have made a difference ‘to this one’...
...and to this one...and to this one…and to this one…
And, for today, that feels like the only reality that matters.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Gone yesterday - hair today!

I used to color my hair.

For more than 4 decades, every few weeks, I would pick a color in a box and experiment.
In March of this year, there was a decidedly red hue.

Then, for St was gone.

No awkward growing out the roots; no more guess work.
Clean slate.
I was starting over.

And, for a short time, I was convinced the curly hair I had struggled against all my life was gone too.
I was sure it was going to be dark and straight - - think Demi in 'Ghost' (OK, so all those color chemicals made me delusional!)

What a difference a few weeks make...
the curl is back -

and the color doesn't come close to any I've picked out in 40 years!

But, to be honest, I LOVE it!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Jefferson Barracks

I did something on Memorial Day that I've never done before - I actually thought about the men and women who have died for this country.

I went to a National Cemetry that's 15 miles, and a world away, from my house.
I went for a photo op. Hey, I'm not proud of the motivation, just being honest.
And what I saw, and felt, while I was there were equal parts admiration, horror, sadness and revulsion.

331 acres filled with white marble headstones and a 'sameness' that is both soothing and numbing at the same time.

Row after row, up hill and down...a never ceasing parade.

I kept thinking what a powerful symbol this was of how things should be:
all divisions - of rank, gender, race, income, religion, relationship status - obliterated; reducing us to essential sameness - our common humanity - with death our common destination.

For me though, there is also something inherently wrong with a nation that keeps sending its young, its future, off to die in military interventions.

I appreciate that diplomacy, and believing in peace, has a steep learning curve for every generation, but we'd better start finding other solutions...
there are simply too many out here already.