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.