Archive | January 2012

Gotta make something!


I really wanna make something. Ever have one of those days? They seem to creep up on me from time to time.  And today is one of those make something kind of days. I wasn’t always this way …

When I was younger, in my early 20′s life was all about work, career, success, getting ahead, and finding my place in the world. I was a “business professional” and that was that. Then lo and behold my husband got a job out-of-state.  He assured me it was no big thing – just over the border and he’d commute each way. Nothing would change. Oh, but I knew deep inside that this would change everything.

So, after several days of treacherous weather on winding country roads with no lights, he slid dangerously off the road on ice, nearly careening over the edge of a steep hill. Yikes! That was that.  No more commuting and my life as a career woman was about to end. We moved to a little town in the middle of no-where Indiana. There was no work for me there and I suddenly (yet secretly and joyfully) became a stay-at-home mom.

Oh, there were the joys of waking up slowly with my two toddlers.  The slower pace was delicious.  That was the good part. The other part was the solitude of being new in a small town. Alone – no family to pop over. No friends to meet for dinner. Nothing but a 2 and 4 year old with the cutest “kissing” cheeks around. Well, that and plastic toys. Heavy sigh. I was on the slow train to nowhere and the fast track to stir crazy. I was torn in two between absolutely loving the experience of being 100% mom and wondering if I’d ever have another adult conversation. It was slow going to make new friends as we were the only family with young kids in our newly budding neighborhood.

Then one day, one glorious unexpected day, the local hardware store was having a “learn how to faux paint class.” Figuring I had nothing to lose I packed up the kidlings and headed on over. And what to my wondering eyes should appear … a rainbow of paints and some mini-fake walls. The kids finger painted on the bottom of my wall while I learned to twirl, dab, smudge, swish and brush. I was in heaven! The Pandora’s box to my creative self came busting open. Can’t you just see the sunbeams bursting and the “ta-da” music wrapping around me?! No, oh, well, I did.

And ever since then, the creative juices and flair have been unable to be restrained. I learned to paint and did it for all my new friends’ homes. I sought out all manner of creative outlets from basket weaving (don’t laugh!) to cross-stitching. I made home-made gifts and decorations for my home. I became the make it maven of my family.  The secret crafting fairy had sprinkled me with fairy dust and my heart was set free to do arts and crafts and get my kids involved as well.

And that was the beginning of my “gotta make something” days. Oh how I hear the sweet call of my creative siren. I’m going to have to borrow my sweet little niece for some painting or pottery very, very soon!

What about you – what are you making these days?

Family Game Night


We have a new institution in our family this year – Family Game Night. We did this because, in spite of us all (Mom and Dad, and my 2 sisters and I) living about 10 minutes apart, we almost never see each other. There’s a work schedule here or a volleyball game there and scheduling a dinner out almost never works for everyone. Oh the pressure of getting it “just right”. Now, don’t get me wrong – we’re not estranged or anything. We see each other on the holidays and for a specific reason here or there, but not to just hang out and enjoy each other’s company. So this year we decided that would be the best Christmas present to each other – the gift of time!

We’re rotating houses – Mom and Dad, Tammi and her family, Nikki and her husband, and me and my kids. This way, no-one has to have the burden of always “entertaining.” We host only 3 times a year. And the hostess gets to pick the date and time for her month. Yeah we’ll probably loosely check availability but there’s no pressure. If you can come – come. If you can’t, no sweat there’s always another one next month. And as I learned yesterday at our first shindig, it’s a “red solo cup” kind of party. For you country music/Toby Keith fans you’ll know exactly what that means. Me – I had to be “educated”. 

So with the fan fare of the country music song playing in the background, we had our first Family Game Night yesterday. Nothing fancy. No pressure. Only fun – and boy was it! We hooted and hollered. We ate and sang a little. We teased and strategized. We chatted and caught up and we had a lot of fun. Just family – the old-fashioned way where there’s no deadlines and no rules. There’s nothing to do but enjoy each other’s company.

I can’t wait for next month when it’s my turn (sans the country music though). lol

A Lavish Giver


Today I did something that I never dreamed I ever would. I had lunch with my sister. What?! That’s nothing you say? But it is to me. You see I grew up in an orphanage and was adopted as an older child. The last time I saw this sister I was 18 years old. It wasn’t a particularly pleasant last meeting and I had no intention or inkling that I’d ever see her again.

I grew up, married and had children. I divorced and moved forward. I got my degree. I raised my family. I have a successful career. The pain of my early childhood has been mostly healed and put aside. But something changed over the holidays and I felt that, now in my mid-life, I was ready to let the two sides of my life connect. I reached out to this sister on Facebook and told her I was ready. So we planned lunch. For a week I’ve been feeling a bit nervous. Would I even know what to say?

Fast forward to today. Lunch turned into a 4 1/2 hour visit. For the most part I was speechless but there were things that needed to be said and to be heard. There were a few tears but not many. There was a little awkwardness but not much. I could see the resemblance that comes from “nature” however I have to say I did not see the resemblance that comes from “nurture.” Our lives had such a drastically different trajectory and I was left feeling and knowing that I have been blessed. Richly, deeply, and undeservedly blessed.

My parents (no, not the two people that birthed me, but the ones that raised me) have given me the greatest gift of unselfish love that one human being could give to another. They saved my life. They gave me stability, discipline, guidance, opportunity, and love. They took a small girl who felt unwanted and gave her a home. I tease my Mom to this day that she was the “meanest” Mom in the world and I thank her for it.  She gave me boundaries and consequences. She gave me chores and rewards. She gave me rules and punishments. She gave me a chance and a life. She gave me an education and allowed me to make mistakes and be forgiven. Well, she wasn’t alone – she did it along with my Dad. He is the strong, silent type who worked hard and showed me what a true work ethic looks like. He role modeled patience and self-discipline. He made me feel safe. He carried me when I pretended to be sleeping. He taught me to catch a ball. Ok, I fibbed a little – he TRIED to teach me to catch a ball but I always closed my eyes and ducked. He taught me to drive and to not drink things that fizz along side beer. You know – the practical things that Daddies do.

These two naive and courageous newlyweds opened their home to a ragamuffin child with a lifetime of hard knocks, built-in fears, baggage, and bad habits and they loved me into being a woman of integrity, intelligence, and family values.

So today I regained a start to a relationship that was long ago abandoned. I now know details I never had before. Some I regret had ever happened to anyone let alone children who were my siblings. And I now have a picture of me as a baby – something I’ve never had younger than 2nd grade.

And I remember with great emotion, many hugs, and a boatload of tears, how much my parents  love me. I see with deeper clarity the things that they did to rescue me emotionally and physically. There are not enough words in the English language to tell them how much I appreciate what they have done for me.

And I also am acutely aware that  my God is a lavish giver! He gave me the strength and stubbornness to be resilient and to be a survivor. He gave me healing and mending. He gave me a family.

I am indeed richly, deeply, and undeservedly blessed! I am grateful!

Kreativ Blogger Award!!


I opened my blog today to find a delightful surprise!

 

Ann from Channel Comfort has nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award! I’m thrilled and honored that my writing has inspired a fellow blogger to recognize me. And I am humbled! THANK YOU Ann. I love your blog as well and hope my readers will come take a look!

Rules of Acceptance:

1. Thank the blogger who presented you with the award.

2. Post a photo of the award.

3. Share ten things about yourself readers don’t know.

4. Choose six people to present this award to.

5. Let the six bloggers know they have been awarded.

So here we go…

Ten things that readers do not know about me:

1. I grew up in an orphanage, was adopted at age 8, and had a brother find me after 25 years of separation. What a blessing!

2.  I took a ride in a hot air balloon on my 40th birthday. It was an exhilarating start to my bucket list! Feels like floating – can’t wait to do it again!

3.  I served on the jury of a capital murder trial when I was 20. SCARY stuff but I learned alot about the law and myself.

4.  I am a certified Myers-Briggs trainer and see personality styles come to life in every conversation I’m in. Love this stuff! Oh, yes, I’m an ENFP.

5.  I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree at the age of 40, having taken classes on nights and weekends over a 20 year span of time. Whew – I swore I’d get out of college before my kids got in – and I did!

6.  I love animal prints, especially leopard as well as blingy things. If you read my blog you’ll know the blingy part from my recent post: Rocks and rings and things that go bling.

7.  I have the cutest little Bichon Frise dog, 3 year old Gracie and she keeps me great company as I transition to empty nest status.

8.  I hosted a foreign exchange student from Norway, named Heidi for a year during my daughter’s Sr. year of high school. It was a great opportunity and I encourage anyone thinking about it to just do it! It’s not all easy or a bed of roses but it’s a fabulous chance to learn about another culture and touch the life of a student abroad.

9.  I’ve always wanted to learn how to fly a plane. It makes me giggle to think about it at my age – I’ll be like Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith show. It’s on my bucket list too!

10.  I collect angels – both figuratively and for real. I have a puppy pile of them that escort me around in life and I’m honored they help me in so many ways.

Passing on this nomination to the following bloggers who have recently inspired me:

http://familyhaikus.wordpress.com/

http://frominside2out.wordpress.com/

http://whispersforhomeandsoul.wordpress.com/

http://pegoleg.wordpress.com/

http://rtewrite.wordpress.com/

http://becomingcliche.wordpress.com/

Power of the Universe


You have within you the greatest power of the universe! Do not kid yourself into believing that the limitations you view of yourself are real. If you gaze only at what you have accomplished in the past, you dishonor your ability to create in the here and now.

If inventors and scientists looked only at what they were able to do yesterday we would have nothing new in this world. It is because they tinker and try and stumble upon happy accidents that they bring new solutions into the world.

If children looked only at what they knew yesterday they would know nothing. It is because they listen and practice and question that they bring revelation to their minds. That revelation grows until they can achieve not just knowledge but also wisdom.

You were created in the image of THE Creator. With that privilege comes the ability to wonder, ponder, imagine and act. God’s spirit in you gives you the power to create too!

What is that one thing that you’ve had sitting in your heart for a long, long time (or even just since yesterday) that seems to spark your curiosity? Do you have “what if” statements that tickle your brain? Do you see a need and believe that it is larger than you, maybe even larger than life? The fact that you see it means you have the seed of possibility to affect it within you. You have the ability to whisper or scream that possibility into life by creating an action. One step toward the “what if”  that can bring it one step closer to reality.

I believe that every human being has the power to change this world. YES – how deliciously wonderful is the prospect! We do it everyday even when we aren’t consciously aware we’re doing it. Your words create change in the realm of what’s possible. Your thoughts create change in the realm of your esteem and desires. Every action ripples through the world because what you say and do is seen by others, which begins the chain of reaction. It brings life to the story of possibility. Every great change or movement in this world was just an idea whispering around in someone’s mind that they didn’t dismiss. This truth is the greatest hope that exists.

I believe in you. God believes in you. What do you believe in?

“Where there is faith … there is hope. Where there is hope … there is possibility. Where there is possibility … there is victory. Never stop believing!” ~ Barbara Bernard Miller

A really, really good day!


Today is a good day – a really, really good day in the wild world of Barb.

As an HR manager for a huge corporation I can’t always say that this is true. We get to help dig people out of crisis of all sorts – from strategic and staffing dilemmas, to employee issues with plans, policies, and benefits to performance and personnel issues where we investigate and deal with misbehaving rascals. Yep, even the best of companies mirror the rest of society. But today was different.

One thing I love about my company is that in addition to our “day job” we are encouraged to follow our passions in pursuit of creating a better company culture and business success. We value diversity of all sorts and we strive to bring that value to life inside our company. In that vein I’m honored that today I got to launch a project that is so in line with my passion. I’ve been working for 1 1/2 years to bring to fruition a project pilot working with students with disabilities.  We are finally able to hit  GO on this project and have a couple of students come into the work place. We will start small and build awareness and success until we can bloom and spread this effort to other areas of the company.

The reaction of the organization when we launched the pilot program today was so heartwarming. To see the enthusiasm for the idea and the support and excitement for the students to come was frankly touching. I’ve had more people share their pride for our company and appreciation for our team’s effort than I dared to imagine. And I’m humbled because for me this does not need praise.  This is about joining hands and doing something really right with great love and compassion. This is about community, spirit, and valuing for all. This is what it means to be truly human.

So today I will get to go home with a big smile on my face and with a warmth in my heart that in my little corner of the world I am able to influence leaders and create opportunities for kids who have great hope, big dreams, and many, many abilities.

I think I’ll celebrate with a hug for my kids and indulge myself with a sentimental tear or two.

Yes, today is a really, really good day!

Remembering Landon’s Daddy


Today I saw this picture and brief note on Facebook. I have to say it stopped me in my tracks and I feel compelled to speak about it:

 “Meet Landon. His father, Marine LCPL Carpenter, gave his life defending our country in Afghanistan

earlier this year, a month before his son was born.  Baby Landon’s Mom wants his story to be known.

Take a moment to share this photo with your friends and reflect on the price of freedom.

 Never forget the price of freedom.”

I don’t know Landon or his parents but I know the sadness that this image creates. As an American I am saddened by the memory of what started us down a path of war. The senseless killing of so many, many innocent people on that solemn day in 2001 has changed the world and a generation.

I am also deeply saddened by the loss of life that has commenced throughout the wars – both Iraq and Afghanistan. And frankly in a myriad of other places in the world where it might not be our men and women but people we don’t know. Families have suddenly lost fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, lovers and friends. I don’t condone the war – it makes my heart hurt to think about it. But I do support the troops. And their families. They fight so I don’t have to and I am eternally, and without words to explain, grateful.

I pray that this little child has the blessing of a strong man in his life to show him the way to manhood. I pray that his mother can find peace and solace in the arms of family. I pray that we never, ever forget the sacrifice his father made.

And I pray for us, as a society, to find a way to live without the need or desire to kill for the love of politics, religion, land, money, greed or power.

We cannot bring Landon’s daddy home but we can change this world through love, acceptance, and peace.

… If only we would.


Rocks and rings and things that go bling


Hi, my name’s Barb, and I’m a ringoholic.  Oh that’s right – there is no self help group for those of us who are addicted to jewelry. DARN the luck!

It’s not a deadly disease but it is an addiction. I just love rocks and rings and things that go bling! I can’t help it, I’m a girly girl.

I realized about a year ago why I’m so drawn to rings  - it’s really the only jewelry I wear that I get to look at and since I’m on the computer so much for work and life, I get to look at them alot.  I’m not much of a bracelet girl – oh don’t get me wrong, I’m drawn to them but I just don’t like to wear them much because they bother my wrist when I type.

But rings – now that’s my thing. I have a pretty extensive collection and while I have a few faux rings, 95% of what I own are real gemstones. And the blingier (yep I made that word up) the better! Yes, it’s a “sickness”. Yes, at times my friends have staged interventions, usually at my own request.

But I enjoy this hobby so much. I’ve learned a ton about the different stones and their qualities and hardness, etc. I’m a believer in both the sophisticated and the whimsy available in the designs. (See my penguin ring – a fun design by Victoria Wieck). I’ve even learned, and experienced the energetic values and aspects of the different stones. Some gems just feel good and right when I wear them.

If you see me at the jewelry store, you can bet I’m browsing the cases looking for the next find on my list. Let’s see what’s on my wish list:    watermelon tourmeline,  rubies,  and emeralds.

Ahhh, just looking at the pictures stirs my heart. If you see me shopping – stop and say hi. Likely we can find a blingy bit of treasure for you. Be careful though – you might need to start “feeding the beast” too!

God’s color palatte


Today I awoke feeling graced and blessed to acknowledge the beauty that is in nature. Our earthly world is created with the most incredible palette. I’m sharing a few pictures from the internet that showcase some of what we are blessed to see throughout the year from many places.

Reflection


It isn’t often that we find ourselves in a place of true reflection. A time of looking thoughtfully at the truths of our life. The times you did it right and those you regret to call your own. But those are the times that actually shift a life from being a routine and ordinary ticking of minutes and hours into a thoughtful and deliberate choice of change.

Most days are filled with stuff – time to take care of the job, the spouse, the kids, the animals, the bills and obligations. We float into year after year of the sameness because we didn’t stop to examine the moments of shift and opportunity. Did we even notice?

I believe that we are all coming upon a time when we cannot afford the daily drudge. It will catch up to us and we will find ourselves facing the solitary, reflective moments out of necessity, if we had not already done it by choice.

Perhaps today is the best day to slow down. Slow your breath and your steps. Sit quietly or lay still and see the movie of your life float past you. But this time notice which paths you chose and which you didn’t. Examine the cause and effects of those decisions that brought you joy and those that left you agonizing over the error of your ways.

I say these things only because I observe my own reluctance to stop and peer into the progression of my life. It’s as if the knowing will make me choose something different. Not the entire scope of my choices but some which no longer serve me. And that feels uncomfortable. Have I kept my promises to myself? Have I lived to my potential? Have I been meaningful and relevant? Have I been kind and loving? Have I been authentic?

I send you an invitation only. To take a purposeful few moments to be still. To be deliberate. To be choiceful and to amend the things that you no longer choose. Cling to those that still resonate with your spirit and know that in loving yourself enough to do this, you create a shift known only to you perhaps, but one that realigns your nature and your soul.

Inspirational Women – original poem


Today I’ve been thinking about alot of women in my life who uplift and inspire me. I’m blessed to know so many who find joy in empowering others vs. competing with them. Then I remembered a poem that I wrote a few years back for a women’s network event I was helping to plan. I found the poem and it still rings true so I’m sharing it with you to celebrate the strong and inspirational women in your life.

Be blessed!

INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN

 I stand back and watch as you move through the rhythms of life.

You are strong but not with malice and force.

You are creative, bringing life in your actions and words.

Alone you sparkle with talent and drive.

You are every facet of what a woman is.

The music of life changes and swirls and joins us together.

We encircle each other as partners, support, and sisters in the dance of life.

Encouraging each other, we find it renews our spirits.

We are every facet of what a community is.

As powerful, inspirational women, we make success a possibility.

As your greatness shines, it reflects on mine and bounces to another.

Shoulder to shoulder we can create light where nothing now exists.

Together to build, edify, share, mentor, guide, grow, advance,

And WIN!

 By: Barbara Bernard Miller (2008)

My confession


I have a confession to make. It is with much chagrin that I must admit  - I still have my Christmas tree up and lit at my house. Crazy, no?

I didn’t plan this decorating gaffe but I’m secretly still enjoying the outcome. As with any self-respecting woman who tries to stay on top of things like this, I made plans to take down my tree much earlier. I always purposefully leave up my nativity and tree until after Jan. 6 in honor of my Catholic upbringing as that is the Epiphany, or when the wise men arrived at the manger. I like the tradition, which acknowledges the real 12th day of Christmas.  So on Jan. 7 I summoned the appropriate ornament boxes from their storage spot. But this year something happened that stopped my efficient need from removing this lone Christmas decoration. My son, who is 23 and has never once in his life had an opinion on such things, declared that I should NOT under any circumstances, take down the tree. Now, he never commented throughout the season that he even liked the tree so I was taken aback. Here was this man-child telling me how cozy the lit tree makes him feel as he walks through the house. He even did a little begging as I recall (and I’m sure he’ll deny this).

So – what’s a sentimental, near empty-nest mom to do? Having lamented for years that my kids didn’t seem to notice or care whether I decorated for any holiday or every holiday, I was inwardly touched. And so – my tree still stands with all it’s flashing light glory. I’m daydreaming of schemes for how I can justify it staying even longer as I too love the ambiance it brings to the room. Without it the room, although decked out with cozy creature comforts and warm color (red) on the wall, seems a tad bit cold. Tonight we’re supposed to have ice and snow. Now what’s better with that kind of winter weather than a cheerfully lit and blinking tree? Nothing. Tonight it stays.

But the Catholic guilt (or is it the decorator in me feeling guilty) is creeping in. The seduction of Valentine’s day is peaking it’s head as I do my errands about town.  Alas, I see the end is nigh and this weekend the said tree must fold it’s unadorned head into the dark of the cardboard box and live out the rest of the year in the basement. Farewell cheerful tree – you’ve served us well, beyond your time.

Inspired and blessed


“If I only have hands to help and a heart to love, then I am truly blessed.” ~ Barbara Bernard Miller

Today as I was getting ready for work I flipped on the TV as I usually do. Bored with the never ending repeat of weather and traffic I flipped a few channels and found a simple show with a woman quietly talking to the audience and her calmness actually drew me in. I still have no idea of what her name is or what the program was because I could only watch a few minutes during my morning routine. But her message mesmerized me. There was nothing flashy or entertaining to catch my attention but the profound message of love captivated me. This woman, whoever she was, was recounting her work with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India.

She spoke of the humor and pure love that she witnessed and enjoyed in her work with Mother Teresa. She recounted the work she did as a volunteer at the children’s orphanage and the home for the dying. She repeatedly shared how beautiful the experience was – in spite of the hard work, ravished conditions, and utter despair in the eyes of some of the people. The greatest thing they starved for was for the love of human touch. A hug for child and holding the hand of those taking their last breaths.

In the brief 10 minutes I was able to listen I was enchanted by her stories. This woman not only got to stand beside and assist Saint Teresa of Calcutta, she got to experience the pure joy of loving the people in her own right. As she recounted what she received from the bony hugs she received back from the children or the last smile from the dying as she held their hand I was acutely aware at how blessed we all are to be able to touch another human being with simple acts of love. We don’t often notice it in our land of plenty where gift giving is taken to the fine art of greed.

But she touched me deeply with her words. She renewed in my heart the desire to live my purpose in life. She helped me, without ever knowing that I heard her speak, to re-examine what my gifts are and how I can help with my hands to bring a smile to the face of both loved one and stranger with a gentle touch, a warm smile, and a hug.

I am inspired and truly blessed! Be blessed too!

Shhhhhh … it’s a secret!


I LOVE surprises!

I know not everyone does but I feel like a giddy child when I’m in the process of planning one. My senses are on heightened alert for any chance to be found out. I smile … alot, and sometimes spontaneously let out a giggle just knowing that someone I love is going to receive just the perfect something. When it’s a really good one I have to cover my mouth to keep from blurting the delicious details.

I love the thrill of the hunt best of all. As an avid bargain shopper it’s even a colossally bigger joy if I find what I’m looking for on sale. Sometimes I linger in this exciting phase for months, just crawling out of my skin for the secret keeping. Oh, how I savor the covert planning! And as with all self-respecting extroverts with a secret surprise, I always have to find a friend or family member with whom I can conspire. It’s fun to whisper, pass winks and knowing glances, sometimes right in front of the surprisee when they don’t even recognize it. It’s a rich and heady thing, this keeping of secrets.

And right now … I HAVE A SURPRISE!  I just might burst for having to wait to deliver it, but wait I must. If you hear a random giggle or snort, yep it just might be me. teehee!

I’m a “corner” girl


I realize that there are kindred spirits out there who know exactly what I’m talking about. But for all the others who are now worried about my virtue – I’m not talking about “the corner”! I’m talking about brownies and I’m a definite corner girl! I saw a commercial for this pan and I think I NEED to have one.

It’s a running joke with my family but in reality, my love of corners makes our cherished family brownie time run peacefully. There’s balance, fairness and all is right in the world. I get the corners and chewy edges and all the softies in the family run with the middles. There’s plenty for everyone and no-one starts any chocolate wars. (Trust me – nobody wants a chocolate war in a family full of girls.)

My mom has her own baking business called “Sweets from Scratch.” She sells her yummy treats at vendor shows, markets and through special orders.  She’s found that I’m not the only person who lives with this malady. Without fail she gets requests for corners at the market. She’s taken to bagging them up specially for those of us who suffer in this way. She’s so thoughtful, my mom. BUT – by the time I get there they are usually all gone.  Thank’s alot Mom – way to go and advertise it! I’ve learned that this girl has to make a special order just to get corners from her mom these days!

So for all you who don’t like edges – I say, yay, more for me! For those who do, I call dibs. Next chance you get, relax a little. Bake a batch and hey, save me a corner would ya?