Sunday, February 11, 2018

What do I want for my birthday?


Okay... my countdown tells me it's forty-six days until I hit the big one.  So I figured a good post this week was to clear up the issue of birthday gifts.  

First of all... I love getting gifts FOR people.  It is one of my love languages... in other words.. it is one of the better ways I know how to show people I love them.  I like finding things that they might like, be able to use or maybe make them a memory.  That is one of my passions.  

But next month the tables are turning.  It is my birthday... and a big one at that.  I understand my family and friends might be thinking of what to get me to honour such a prestigious occasion.  So I figure a post of "What I want for my birthday?" would be appropriate. 

Let's see... where to start. 

1.  Nothing:

Okay... that is my first request.  I really don't want more stuff.  I have a hard time keeping my house clean and organized as is.   And I am running out of wall space for anything I need to hang on the wall.  I can't do flowers in my house because of the cats, and it would be great if I wasn't showered with an abundance of chocolate either.  (I can hear my hubby saying..."Hey, wait.. I like chocolate!" okay... any incoming chocolate can go to him. His birthday is in summer..  I'll hide it in the freezer for him.)  

2.  Birthday Cards: 

I always  have room for Birthday Cards.  Birthday Cards don't require dusting... and they are filled with warm thoughts of love.  I can even keep them for years to come and look back at them when I feel sad or lonely.  They are a gift that keeps on giving.  So if you want to send me a birthday card... I really like 50 and funny.  When I hit the last big one... I collected my own  40 and funny cards. (Maybe I didn't mention this.. but card shopping is another on of my hobbies).    I think I  ended up passing most of them along over the years.   

So if you don't mind browsing the card racks at Walmart or wherever you shop... and you find a 50 and funny card... You can pick one up, put a stamp on it and pop it in the mail.  (if you don't have my snail mail address... ask me for it.  But I'm not posting it here.)  And if you are the more sentimental soul and funny doesn't cut it for you... that is okay...  Greetings of all kinds from my family and friends always bring a warmth to my heart.  

3.  Quality Time:

I guess the best gift I could get for my 50th birthday is quality time.  I thought at first it might be nice to have a big to do... but thinking it over, I would much rather have a one on one get together than a big party where I can't here people talk to me and can't spend more than 5 minutes with them.  So this is what I am proposing.  A lot of individual dates.  I know scheduling is always an issue, but if you want to hang out with me for my birthday... lets make it easier.. Let's extend my birthday to cover the whole year.  I am very flexible outside of my work hours.  I don't have too many commitments that I can't work around.  So if time is something you want to give me for my birthday... let's figure something out.  We have all year!!!! 

4.  iTunes Cards wrapped in hand towels:  

Okay.. this is the last idea... If you don't want to do nothing but want to do more than a birthday card and don't have the time... here is one more option.  iTunes cards wrapped in hand towels.

Let me explain.  I have started reading again and the cheaper, more space conserving way of reading is called Ibooks (The Mac version of a E-Reader) .  I have a nice growing library in my Ibooks.  I have a very vast taste in literature as is evidenced by my electronic library.  I am usually in the middle of 3-5 books at a time.  Ibooks gives me the option of sampling a book before I buy it. The picture is a snapshot of my sample books that are just waiting to be downloaded and read.

So if you want to pass along a meaningful gift that will contribute to my increased knowledge and inspiration... again for years to come ... iTunes gift cards will work.

"Then why the hand towels?" you ask.

Well... I am low on nice hand towels for my bathroom and kitchen... and they make for a much more useful method of gift wrapping.  I have enough washcloths and beach towels... just hand towels seems to be lacking in my house.

There you have it.  And in case anyone actually finds that Teddy Bear with my name on it.. I won't turn that down either.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Beyond Sundays... and an amazing excitement for this Alberta Poet

“When your journey takes you outside the walls of church-as-usual, you look around to see if you are as alone as you feel. Someone walks up to you, smiles and says: ‘I have been where you are. You are okay.  Let me walk alongside you for a while.’ Meet Wayne Jacobsen—his wisdom, his passion and his stories will help your transition from a life defined by religion to the most amazing ‘God Journey’ you’ve ever been on.”

Okay, I'm excited today. .... I got to tell you something... but first a story. 

10 years ago...

10 years ago at this time,  I was smack dab in the middle of assembling, editing and finalizing over 10 years of poetry that I put into a collection that became my first book (okay... my only book)... called "Still Broken".  (Heh... the original link is still available on the publisher's website.  The books aren't, but the link is. ) 

I had just experienced the greatest loss of my life... my dad had passed away January 28, 2008 from stomach cancer.  The last poem that went into my collection was a poem, called "Crossing Jordan", that  I wrote for him,  and got to share with him just weeks before he died.   

If you knew me as a child and teenager, you would have been amazed that I pulled that off.  I hated school, English classes and even poetry... right up to high school.  Published author was not on my radar as I was filling out my predictions for the future at graduation.  But twenty years after I did my predictions... I got to hand Mr. Rodatz, my english teacher... my book.  I thought that was the most momentous moment of my life.  


Well today... I am excited because something has surpassed that milestone in my life.  Let me explain... 

 Today is the release of "Beyond Sundays", the latest book by my favourite author, Wayne Jacobsen.  I still have to wait until Thursday to download the whole book it into my  Ibooks library ... but I got my sample downloaded and what I could access today in the sample portion of the book... is what got me excited.  

December 4, 2017, Wayne posted an invite for the "normal, everyday people",  who have read his books and been impacted by them, to submit a endorsement for his new book, "Beyond Sundays".  I was excited to collect my thoughts for this project, because Wayne's books have been very inspirational and influential in my journey in the last 10 years.  Here's a few amazing titles from Wayne that made a difference in my life.  

And maybe a few of you have heard of, or read, or even seen the movie of this one... This was also a book that Wayne was a huge part of.  This was the one that started it all for me.  

Anyway... back to the endorsement.   This is how the invite from Wayne went: 

"I realize this could be misinterpreted as an exercise in self-aggrandizement. I hope it isn't that. Many books include endorsements from other authors and celebrities about the content of the book. I have in the past included "endorsements" from normal, every-day people instead of celebrities because that's the lifeblood of this family. And endorsements of the content really help those who are not familiar with my stuff to have an idea whether or not a book is worth their time.
For this book, however, rather than commenting on the content, I'd like to have comments from readers about the author. In other words, if a friend of yours asked, why they might find a book by me helpful, how would you answer them?  How has God used them to encourage your journey or do I come off as a person or writer?
Honestly this isn't an attempt to get people to say a lot of nice things about me here, or on social media. I'm not fighting off an identity crisis and need people to stoke my ego for a few days. I just want to have something different in the front of the book."
 So I sat down at my computer and I wrote my endorsement. Actually I wrote two, and emailed them both to Wayne.    Today... as I read through the endorsements of "Beyond Sundays:  Why those who are done with the religious institutions can be a blessing for the Church" ... this is what I found... (I know I already posted this at the beginning... but notice this time the contributor identity.    

“When your journey takes you outside the walls of church-as-usual, you look around to see if you are as alone as you feel. Someone walks up to you, smiles and says: ‘I have been where you are. You are okay.  Let me walk alongside you for a while.’ Meet Wayne Jacobsen—his wisdom, his passion and his stories will help your transition from a life defined by religion to the most amazing ‘God Journey’ you’ve ever been on.”

RUBY, a poet and pilgrim in Alberta

That is my excitement... I have an endorsement in Wayne Jacobsen's new book... and what a book it is.  If you want to know more about it, check out this interview Wayne did on the Vince Coakley show.    

10 years ago, I became a published author... today, I got to be a part of something much bigger than just my poetic ramblings... today I got to be a "normal, everyday person".  It can't get much better than that!!!    

Saturday, January 20, 2018

What happens when you freeze the cheese???

Maybe it is the onset of dementia (who really knows when that starts to infiltrate the brain), but maybe it was just a momentary lapse of something else.  

Here's the story.  

Hubby suggested pizza for supper.  What we do at our house for pizza is top off a Dr. Oetker from the box, with spinach, whatever meat we have on hand and shred some cheese for the final topper.  I knew we had just cracked open a big block of Armstrong Marble a few days back, but when I went looking for it, it had strangely disappeared.  Thankfully enough, Manfred had some Balderson Royal Canadian Aged Cheddar in the fridge... It made for a great pizza!

The story continues later, when I went in to the freezer in our fridge and discovered the missing Marble.    Now, I don't remember putting it there,  and as much as I am tempted to suggest my hubby as an alternative suspect, I will take the rap myself.  If I tried to pin the blame on him for this one... he just might remind me about the time I left an almost full pail of ice-cream on the counter overnight.  If you've never tried it... I don't recommend it.  It doesn't refreeze the same.   

I had some of the thawed out cheese this morning... funny thing.. it tasted a lot like the Balderson Aged...  

Is this what I have to look forward to, I ask?  Oh well... at least if dementia is in my future... I'll come into it with a lot of practice... and the cheese will taste better! 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

My Boss beat me to 50... something I can't say about Justin Trudeau

So I am driving to work this Monday morning and what greets me as I turn into the parking lot... but a flock of flamingoes.  Now my birthday isn't until March... and I don't think any of my co-workers, friends or family would dare litter the lawn for me at the front entrance of Emco... but for a very brief moment, I actually wondered... 

When I found out who the birthday boy was,  I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  The flamingoes were not for me, they were for our Branch Manager.  That's right...  the boss hit 50 on the weekend... 74 days before me to be precise.  I was elated... and my elation had a lot to do with another leader in my world.

When I heard of the results of the Federal Election in October of 2015, I just had to find out.  I Googled it and discovered that for the first time in my life... I was older than the Prime Minister of Canada.

 I felt old...

Justin will be 50 on Christmas Day, 2021.  I did the math... that is 1367 days after me.

Today... I didn't feel so old, because, if only by 74 days, my boss beat me to 50... and even though it wasn't really his doing... I thanked him.

Happy Birthday, Graham!

P.S.  If anyone feels the need announce my 50th birthday... don't do this... I can think of better ways to spend $100 on me, than to poke holes in my lawn with pink flamingoes.  

Monday, January 1, 2018

Dear 2018...

Hello... you are finally here.  I have been waiting for you.  I don't know who you are yet or the treasures or troubles you will bring,  but for some reason I have been anticipating your arrival.  

I was reluctant but ready to say goodbye to your predecessor, 2017.  Please,  tell me you will bring me more treasures than troubles.  I know you may have both, but maybe you can rise above what 2017 brought me.  

I read that, according to the Chinese Horoscope, 2018 is the "Year of the Dog".  Well, let me share, with you. some valuable characteristics of a dog (most dogs anyway)  with the hopes that you also have the same qualities. 

1. Dogs are joyful.  There is a gift in most canines that allow them to rise above their circumstances and be joyful.  As long as you pay them some much desired attention, they will shower you with affection and kisses.  Dogs bring a positive attitude to most encounters.  It is hard to stay sad in the presence of a joyful dog.  

2.  Dogs are the genuine article.  They don't hide their emotion.  If they are happy you will see it displayed in their love and admiration of you, if they are hurt or angry, they will bite.  Dogs are as real as real can get.  To gain the affection of a dog... that is a blessed thing. 

3.  Dogs are valuable co-workers.  Nothing can beat a good human-canine team whether it is the work place is a sheep pasture, or a police hunt.  Dogs understand teamwork.  

4. Dogs know how to love... even strangers.  All they need is a good sniff and a dog will look beyond what you've done and what you look like... and they will discover who you are... and that is someone to be loved and to love.  After all to a dog... Love is all that matters. 

5.  Dogs enjoy freedom.  I haven't met a dog that likes chains or cages.  Dogs revel in the wide open spaces.  They don't enjoy confinement and wouldn't dream of confining anything else.  To a dog.. freedom is the ultimate act of love.  If a dog is loved and if a dog is free, it won't run away.  It will stay where it is loved... without the chains.  

 Well 2018... If you are truly the year of the dog... then I have some things to look forward to.  Exuberant  Joy, Boundless Freedom and Unhindered Love.  

This year I am turning fifty.   I can finally say it.  This year I will be...

As of today... I have 87 days left before I reach... 

I don't feel afraid as much now that you are here.  You, 2018, the year that ushers in 50 for me.  What a journey this has been.  I have travelled from 1968 to 2018 and made it.  I feel somewhat strengthened by the possibilities of what you have for me.  I don't know yet, but I can have that much faith that you, this year, will be an unfolding gift, a treasure to be unearthed a piece at a time. 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Where are you, Christmas?

It's Christmas Eve....(as I post this)  I have heard testimony that this is the favourite time of year for a lot of people.  Who can blame them?  Christmas has a lot of things going for it...  music, festivities, great movies, lots of food, family time, snow sports and for those who still get excited about this... presents.  
I am turning fifty in ninety-five days.  As the title indicates (and linked song) ... I seem to have lost my connection with Christmas.  So I would like to find it again.  It may not look like what it used to look like for me... but maybe as I write this blog, I can find something new and redeemable going forward into the next half of my life.  

 Let me start with what it isn't... that usually narrows down the subject list for what it is.  

What Christmas isn't... to me

1.  Jesus' Birthday. 

 I figured I may as well come out of the gates at full speed and get my theological rantings out first.  There is no biblical precedence for the celebration of Christmas as we know it.  Jesus was born... that works for me... but I don't recall in any of my reading of the story that his birthday was an event that he promoted.   December or the winter months doesn't work for me for the time he was born either.  I had that straightened out years ago.  Something about the shepherds in the fields with sheep... not in the winter time in the Bethlehem area.  And the tax notice from Caesar didn't line up with December either as I recall.  I may have to go back to get the full details again.   Anyway... nothing lines up if we go back to the biblical story. 

I think I concluded once in one of my previous blogs that Christmas isn't God's need for a birthday party, but may be more like man's need or desire to give him one.  So if that is the case, then I am okay with the festivities of Christmas having a Jesus' focus.  People want to thank Jesus for coming.  I get that.  I just don't need to call it His birthday anymore.  

Hey.. if it was Jesus birthday... then why does everyone else get the presents?  Think about that one for a minute.  Anyway... there is more to my relationship with Jesus, than selected days on the calendar.  

2. Peaceful... at least in North America

"Peace on Earth, Good will to men!"

We sing it, we read it, but rarely in this country and the one south of we experience peace at the end of December.  Party planning, gift buying, food preparing, year-end financing, program presenting.... defines the chaos of Christmas.  Around the world, people know how to stop wars on Christmas Day... but I'm surrounded by people battling for position in the lineups to get that last gift that we put off buying until the twenty-forth.  Go figure.  What is with us??  

3. Always "Merry" 

Any heartache or loss seems to be amplified at the onset of the Christmas Season.   "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays" seem to float over us like insensitive greetings when all we feel is our pain.  I am still learning how to navigate Christmas in my heartache and loss... and as of 2017... I haven't been too successful.

4. An Obligation

As uncaring as this may seem.  Christmas isn't an obligation.  I am not obligated to celebrate it.  I'm not obligated to decorate for it and I am not even obligated to hang out with my family during it.  Bah Humbug!!!  (I had to throw that in... ).  There is no joy in obligation... from my experience anyway.  

What Christmas me

1. Musical

One of my favourite things about the Holidays is the music.  I start listening to Christmas music in November already.  My favourite radio station in Edmonton starts with a full lineup of Christmas and Holiday as soon as Remembrance Day is over.  My Christmas playlist in iTunes is very eclectic... from Bing Crosby to Boney M.  From the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to Pentatonix.  I enjoy all kinds of variety in my musical merriment.  It is the music that gets me into the "Christmas Spirit".  

2. Full of Stories

This time of year, I love to hear stories in a lot of formats.  One of my favourite medium of stories is Christmas movies.  My favourite movies always revolve around family and friends and even strangers connecting over the holidays. What does this time of year do to people... those are the best stories.  I like hearing childhood memories associated with Christmas.  They are great conversations to have "around the water cooler" at work.  

3. A Journey

I have said often that Christmas is more about the journey than the actual day.  The day has more often than not... been stressful for me.  The Joy of Christmas lasts a lot longer for me than just one day.  The joy is in the Spirit of Giving that seems to elevate as we get closer to Christmas.  The joy is in the creative inspiration that overwhelms me when it comes to writing or even picking out my Secret Santa gift.  The joy is in going to plays or concerts with my mom.  The joy is in the journey.

There is a journey theme even with the  Christmas story from the bible.  Joseph and Mary journeyed from Nazareth, the wiseman journeyed with their gifts for Jesus, the shepherds journeyed from the fields... Christmas has always been about the Journey.  

4. A time to think of others

My husband asked the question that has me thinking about a good answer for it.  

"What is it about Christmas that gets us in the giving spirit? 

I am not sure what spurs people on this time of year specifically... but I am glad that the Christmas spirit gets people in the giving mood.

At my workplace, we do an annual Food Bank fundraiser.  We have had overwhelming success for the  last three years collecting food items.  This year I got to borrow the company half-ton to deliver two crates of food to the Edmonton Food bank.  I look forward to seeing the joy in people's faces when you give something that means something to them... whether that is much needed food or that special gift for that special someone, given not because this time of the year demands it... but because your heart is tugging in their direction.   That, my friends, is where you find the joy.

So until my next post... Here is a greeting from me to you... in two of my favourite languages.  

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Drew Marshall's Journey to 50

It is November 30th today and it would only make sense if I share the blog spotlight with  Drew Marshall.
 (the link will introduce you to him)
 After all it is his birthday today. 
(He beat me into this world by 16 months less a day.)

Happy Birthday Drew!!!

I admire a few things about Drew ... but I really admired his  Journey to 50.  Last year, Drew went on a "walkabout" across France and Spain... most people call that a  pilgrimage, but Aussies would call it a "walkabout".  Not only did he walk the 800 km trek called the Camino de Santiago  (You can Google it if you've never heard of it) ...

He did it without talking.  Drew talks for a living... and for three months, he stopped talking.  (I tried it for a couple of days.... not easy).  Drew recorded his own Journey to 50 on his blog....

I followed along on his journey as he shared it.  I know I will never be able to walk in the footsteps of so many pilgrims, so it was nice to journey along with Drew as he walked, not talked and wrote. 

It was the second last blog post where he shares about turning 50.  There was an enthusiasm expressed in his words, like turning 50 was a milestone of significance for him. 

"IT IS FINISHED!" (Jesus was recorded as saying the same thing once) ... "the walking and my 40's"
Well.. he wasn't quite done the walking... as he continued on for another 200 km, but the 40's was "FINISHED!"

I wonder if I will be as enthusiastic when my 40's are FINISHED!.  The jury is still out as to my anticipated enthusiasm level.  But I am glad that Drew found some joy in his journey to 50.  Maybe it had something to do with his new "Grandpa" status at 49.


Drew... Happy Birthday... (or Belated Happy Birthday... if you don't see this today).  I hope you don't mind me sharing your Camino pics and journey story... Don't worry... I am sure your blog, with the same pics and story, has made way more miles than mine has.  It's been over 10 years since my last visit to Oakville and The Drew Marshall Show... I'm thinking I'm due for another visit.  I'll keep you posted if I decide to make the "pilgrimage" to the GTA.    Maybe this time I can co-host?????  (Just a hope.)

Added Dec 2, 2017

"One year ago yesterday - Nov 30 - THIS HAPPENED! I don't get to say this very much, but I'M PROUD OF MYSELF :) 
I'd highly recommend to anyone, celebrating your 50th birthday like this! Then again, I believe EVERY birthday should be celebrated! Heck, it should be a birthday WEEK, not a day!" Drew Marshall

Drew posted this on his Facebook page on Thursday... I liked the idea of a birthday week... Mmmmmm.... something to investigate... After all.... 50 only comes around once in a life time... and like I keep saying.. It's all about the journey.

What do I want for my birthday?