Author Archives: Andrea

Surviving Sheltering-In

I don’t know how many days this sheltering-in has now been, but it has been a while.  How are you doing?  I am doing good.  At first, I was extremely stressed.  I have two sons, two daughters-in-law, one grandson, and one granddaughter living in California, and when the governor shut down the whole state, I was really stressed.  I worried for their safety and their sanity!  On the other hand, I have two more sons, two more daughters-in-law, one more grandson, and three more granddaughters, and a step son living in Missouri, in the St. Louis area, who I also worry about.  Now that everyone there is also sheltered-in, I am a bit more at ease. COVID-19 MAP

I remember when I was still working and talking to retirees, and they told me they didn’t know how they had time to work because they are so busy as a retiree.  I feel the same way about being sheltered-in.  I feel like I am busier than normal.  Of course, I put that on me.  I had decided that I needed things to keep me busy.

bookA few weeks before this sheltering-in started, I decided to  make a quilt. I purchased all the fabric for the front and back.  Unbeknownst to me, it was perfect timing.  Therefore, I have that project going.  I am also privileged to have been chosen to be an ambassador for John O’Leary’s new book, In Awe, and have been reading it, and going online with a Facebook Live book discussion with John and the other ambassadors.  My husband is a hiking fanatic (I just like it), and so I make sure that at least three times a week I join him on the walking paths throughout our huge neighborhood or on the hiking paths at the San Tan Mountain Regional Park, which is only a five minute drive from our home.  

On top of that, I am doing all the cooking and baking—no eating out.  Since baking is a stress reliever for me, it brought great stress when I realized that I was short on flour and brown sugar.  The store shelves have been void of any baking ingredients every time I have been there.  Then I got a suggestion from a cousin that The Olive Mill in Queen Creek, AZ had flour.  Really?  I have been there several times since we have been in Arizona.  It is near our home.  This place has their own olive groves.  They press oil of every flavor.  They have a store that sells their olive oil, and other products, like pasta, wine, salsa, etc., all produced in Arizona.  They also have a very busy restaurant and bakery.  Usually when one goes there, the place is elbow to elbow with people.  There are picnic tables outside along with the indoor seating, and it is a great place to have a meal with friends and family, and the kids can run around outdoors happily,  Not so anymore.  The other day Dennis and I decided to drop by, and lo and behold, there was not only flour, but milk, eggs, butter, yeast, sugar of all kinds.  Why of course—they are not baking at this time, but they have a ton of ingredients, so they are happily selling it to us.  The place was pretty much empty, as a few people were there shopping.

I realized that baking is a stress reliever for me, but having a ton of baked goods laying around, is not.  Yesterday I washed up good, I scrubbed my kitchen, then wiped IMG_0784everything (counters, appliances, food packaging) with antiseptic wipes, and baked cookies.  Then I bagged them up in zip lock bags that were labeled with the type of cookies in the bag.  I put them in a double bagged plastic grocery bag and sent them across the street to my neighbor, who is a school teacher, and is now home schooling her two children.  I sent her a text, and told her that when her doorbell rings, to get the treats from her porch. Later in the day, Dennis and I got in the car and drove to the home the cousin who gave me the tip where to buy my flour.  She is also a school teacher, who is now home with her children.  We did a drive-by cookie drop.  I put the cookies at her front door, got in the car and called her to tell her the treats were awaiting at the door.  As much as I would like to send some to other neighbors, they don’t know me as well, and may not trust all the scrubbing down I did to make the delivery of the baked goods safe.

Along with my reading “In Awe,” I have another book on my Kindle app on my phone.  I recently discovered through my school teacher neighbor, that I could apply online for a library card in our county, and order online books.  I received my card the other day, but will wait until I am finished with the books I have in progress, but am excited to start getting free library books online to read.

I have enjoyed all the fun people have had on social media to entertain us with funny memes and sharing funny videos about being sheltered-in.  I have also enjoyed the Facebook broadcasts from the many churches that are sending out encouragement to us Image-1-1daily.  It is good to know that we are all in this together, not just in the United States, but all over the world.  It is good to hears songs of praise and hope, and messages of hope.

I spend my days texting friends and family to see how they are doing, especially those who I know live alone.  I do believe it is important that we connect with others to bring them hope and cheer, for this time shall soon be over (I hope), but in the meantime, love needs to be spread in whatever way possible. 

So there is hope.  We have a loving God.  He has gone before the Israelites as they the-cross-1-1536650wondered through the desert for years.  Things got bad for them—they whined and complained—they even started worshipping idols—they were unfaithful to God.  BUT . . . God was FAITHFUL.  He protected them, and got them to the promised land.  Was there some tragedies in between?  Sure there were.  Or move on many, many years, and the disciples who are the closest to Jesus got pretty squeamish themselves when Jesus was arrested and crucified.  The disciples scattered—Peter denied he knew Jesus when asked by someone in the crowd.  Are you kidding?  He didn’t want to get arrested and who knows what—so, he denied he knew Jesus.  BUT . . . Jesus didn’t abandon him.  We humans seem to forget who is in charge when things look bleak to us.  BUT . . . God is still faithful.  We are so easy to take things for granted when life is easy, and so easy to forget who God is . . . until we are in trouble.  Then all of a sudden we are brought to our knees and begging God for help.  “Sometimes we don’t realize that Jesus is all we need until Jesus is all we have.”

Image-1In 1527, the Black Plague hit the hometown of Martin Luther.  In a letter to a friend he wrote, “Use medicine; take potions which can help you; fumigate house, yard, and street; shun persons and places wherever your neighbor does not need your presence or has recovered, and act like a man who wants to help put out the burning city . . . What else is the epidemic but a fire which instead of consuming wood and straw devours life and body?”   He also stated, “If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely. . . .”  

So what does he say?  If you are feeling sick, take your medicine or call the doctor.  Be sure everything is clean—house, yard, and street—wash up (and wash your hands).  Then he tells his friend to social distance himself.  All the wisdom of the 16th century is still wisdom today!

So, my friends, keep yourself busy.  Remember that God is in control.  He loves us and he is faithful, even in our unfaithfulness.  I look forward to when this is all behind us.  What a celebration we will have — parties, barbecues, seeing our children and grandchildren again.   If you need to talk to someone, make a phone call, send a text message or email.  If you don’t know who to talk to, send me a note.  We will get through this.  I’ll be able to relax, and not be so busy! Prayer

Thoughts on a Pandemic

So, you are sitting at home today?  I assume because of the “pandemic” many people are now working from home. Some folks, unfortunately, have been laid off from their jobs because their place of business (mainly retail and restaurants) are temporarily closing.

DRP, Disaster Recovery PlanWow!  Who expected this?  I sure didn’t.  Yet, when I was working, our senior management team 10 years ago, did disaster planning.  We planned what we would do if our building burned down, what we would do in a pandemic, what we would do if an active shooter arrived at our place of business.  We discussed how we could still do business during these times.  We had to get very specific in these plans so that we would have a written disaster plan in place.  Being retired since early 2013, I am curious how their written plan is working.  I am sure some things worked well, and some things needed tweaking, because we never fully know what to expect in a scenario we have never encountered.  These weeks are huge learning curves for businesses.

There are all kinds of cute memes on social media about sheltering in, washing hands, and any other thing to make us try to smile.  I saw a meme that said we should recite the Lord’s Prayer while washing our hands, and it would be the right length of time for a good hand washing.  Shortly after that I went into the bathroom in a restaurant, and while I was washing my hands, I silently said the Lord’s Prayer, and then when I was finished I realized, that many people kneel when they pray, so what would that look like.  I made this meme and posted it on my Facebook page, because it still makes me smile when I read it.

Wash hands

shoppingDennis and I are sheltered in at our home in Arizona.  We have plenty of food in the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry to get us through a few weeks.  We have toilet paper.  We didn’t buy any, but we have a few packages for our two bathrooms, and now not having any guests visit, it should last a while.

I get up in the morning and I turn the news on the television.  I watch for a short time, because I find it stressful to watch for too long.  If something new or important happens, I get a notice on my phone and I can turn on the TVnews then.  I am relatively calm.  I am also sad.  I think about those who have compromised immune systems.  I think about those in nursing homes who cannot see their families, and they were lonely before, and now they are extremely lonely.  I think about the homeless and wonder how they can shelter when they have no place to shelter, or don’t desire to shelter.  I especially think about my children and their children.  I don’t live near any of them.  

I am not a big telephone person.  When I bought my new iPhone a few months ago, I walked into the Apple store and told them I needed a new camera!  Yeah, that’s what I use my phone for 99% of the time.  It has now become my communication devise again.  Yesterday I was on the phone with my sister.  She is a widow living alone.  She is having minimal contact with her one family in her vicinity, and she is stressed.

Venues that hold many people are temporarily closing.  The larger churches are streaming their worship service online.  I watched two this weekend.  The one that doesn’t usually stream had some difficulty with their streaming.  The church in Missouri that we attend, always stream their services, and the pastor, although speaking in front of an empty auditorium that holds about 2,000, looked like he was speaking to people in person—he was totally comfortable.  I remember once last year when there was a major ice storm, they cancelled in person services and streamed.  I guess he had practice for bookwhat is happening today.  Thank God for technology that we can connect with our worship, talk with friends through social media, go shopping, download books.  Only twenty years ago, this would not have been possible.  

What am I doing while sheltered in our home?  I have my book, “In Awe,” to read.  I have a couple other books downloaded on my Kindle app on my iPhone.  I am working on a quilt.  We have been taking walks outdoors along the walking paths in our neighborhood.  I have a lot of food in the house and if I get really bored, I may try some new recipes.  Of course there is the television.  Not only do we have cable, we have an Apple TV hooked up, that allows me to watch Apple TV, Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, and various other streaming apps. So far I have filled my days well.  There is plenty to do here.

IMG_2019What I will miss is seeing people in person.  I am energized by being in the presence of people.  I love interacting in person, but that is temporarily stopped.  It is just for a period of time.  It is not forever.  It seems like a minor sacrifice compared to the sacrifices our military makes every day for us, or our families in the past during times of war.  We will get through this.

I believe that God is sovereign and loving.  He will hold us in place if we seek him.  He can give us peace that passes understanding.  On that note, I shall stop, because I want the last thought in your head to be one of encouragement. verse

 

 

Childlike Curiosity

bookI have been privileged with being an Ambassador for John O’Leary’s new book, In Awe, which will be released in May.  I have received my advance copy, and have started reading.  I am not very far in the book.  I related to his description about curiosity.  As we grow older, we tend not to ask all the questions we did as a youngster.  Think about that.  Have you noticed how much your toddler child or grandchild asks questions after questions.  I had a niece who when she was small, would follow my older (school age) boys around and ask them “Why?” Almost continually about whatever they were doing or talking about.  They called her the “why” cousin.  She was curious, and she was not afraid to ask why.

As we get older that behavior slows down.  I don’t think it is because we got the answers, because we never always have the answers.  In my household, as a child, if I asked the question, “Why?,” my parents’ answer was a simple “Because I said so.”  I understand that answer, because as a parent, there are just some things we have to put our foot down about, and no matter how many “why’s” we are asked or how many times we might explain the reasoning, a parent gets to make the rules.

My brain is a questioning brain.  I tend to question most everything in my life.  In the business world, I always looked for a better way to do things—why are we doing it this way?  Is there a better way?  I had a “bad” habit of looking past the decision to try to understand how it would affect the workflow or the employees.  In one of the recommendations given on LinkedIn, my former boss wrote, “Andrea had a knack for anticipating questions that someone may have had on a topic of discussion…to the point that before anyone could think of a question, Andrea would address all facets of the topic to give her audience a full scope of what to expect.”

Interestingly enough, what this former manager wrote about me also got me in trouble in the past.  It was a few years prior to working for the above mentioned manager.  I was working for a company who had been recently acquired.  We were getting ready to roll out our first year’s bonus program to the employees.  There were approximately 1,400 ?brainemployees at our location.  About 1,000 of them had been acquired in the sale.  The remainder of the employees where hired new into the company that year, me being among the latter group.

The employees who were part of the sale had been with our “new” company for a year (short one week), but were being considered employees for a full year.  I don’t remember the details any longer, but it was something like 2 weeks pay for their year of service.  That was good, but it didn’t address those hired within that year.  Those employees (including me) were going to get a prorated bonus based on the number of weeks employed the first year.  If an employee was hired July 1, they would receive 1/2 of the annual bonus.

There was a meeting of all of us in human resources along with those from accounting and payroll, to discuss the rollout of the bonus.  The director of our department passed out a letter to each of us to review.  The formula in the letter was very clear,  What was not clear was the fact that employees hired new into the company would get the prorated bonus.

In the meeting, I pointed this out.  I said the letter needs to be changed to give the 400 employees hired that year the information on their prorated bonus.  The director of the department turned directly to me and stated, “Never question me again!”  Embarrassed, I was silenced.  This should not have been a big deal to the director, except that he 01 lost bonusalready had the CEO sign and the letters were ready for distribution.  He wasn’t about to go back and say that something was missed and the CEO would have to sign a new letter. 

I couldn’t believe that all the details were not in the letter, but as a subordinate, I remained silent.  My ability to see forward and question had been squelched.  The employees received their letters and looked forward to the bonus check to be distributed a couple weeks later.  Exactly, as I had anticipated, the day of the bonus checks, employees flooded our office saying their bonus was incorrect.  These were all employees who had been hired that year and received only a prorated portion of the bonus.  Upon receiving the letter of how the bonus was calculated, one employee purchased cruise tickets, and another employee purchased new furniture, both to find out that their bonus would not completely cover their purchases.  They were livid.  Who could blame them?  

Whenever we discussed any new roll out at work, my brain would take me to all the “what if” questions that could come up.  How do we anticipate employees’ reactions to what we are rolling out.  How are we prepared to answer, to encourage, and continue to motivate them?  Although I was publicly embarrassed in front of my colleagues, I am not sorry I questioned the letter.  I am just sorry that others didn’t have the curiosity to think past the piece of paper. 

In John’s book, In Awe, he quotes Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist and University of Pennsylvania professor, from his book, Originals, “Kids are inherently creative.  If you take to a five- or six-year old, they have all sorts of interesting, unusual questions.  And I think we either beat that out of them or they end up unlearning it at some point when they realize that the way you succeed, in at least Western society, is you follow the rules.  You try and get good grades, you respect your elders, you go out of you way to fit in as opposed to stand out, and that’s a great way to forget how to think differently.”

Isn’t that the truth?  We teach children to be quiet and regurgitate what they have learned.  When I was in the 6th grade, we studied the Aztec Indians.  I was so fascinated by them.  I came home from school and told my mom all about them.  Today I do not remember what those fascinating things were, but I do remember that, to my surprise, I made a “D” on the test about them.  I didn’t regurgitate what the teacher wanted us to know, but I was curious and fascinated by their history.  I wish I knew what it was that I found so intriguing about them.  My curiosity about them did not match the facts that my teacher wanted me to know.

Over the years, my curiosity got silenced.  It was still there, but I didn’t express it for fear of being embarrassed in public, or being curious about the things that others might not find important.  After hearing John O’Leary speak in 2010, I signed up for coaching sessions though John’s connections, and because of the experience, became a certified coach myself.   I learned to let my curiosity out.  I learned my life was not over as I approached retirement.  I am more fascinated by life than I was ever before.  I am willing to try new things that I had never done, like running a 5k, making quilts, and planning large events like class reunions.  This was all done in my 60’s.  I felt free to be the curious leader again.

Here some photos when I attended John’s book release for On Fire, four years ago.

I have followed John O’Leary since the first time I heard him speak to about 30 people.  Today he speaks before thousands.  Four years ago, he published his first book, On Fire.  It is the story of his life, a 9 year old boy playing with fire and gasoline, that did not turn out well.  He was burned 99% of his body, was given less than a 1% chance to live through the night, lost all his fingers from this fire, and today still plays the piano, and tells us, “The best is yet to come.” 

You can find John’s book on his website, by clicking on this sentence.  You can also find his books on Amazon and at your local book stores.

Thank you, John, for your friendship, for sharing your life with us, and now for reminding us that as adults we can still be in awe of life. 

 

The Crooked Road to Learning

A few conversations I had this week has brought back experiences I have had with the educational system.  I was not a great student throughout all my years of education.  I don’t think I can even say I was a good student, because I wasn’t.  If I was a student today, I would probably be diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).  As a child in the classroom, my mind wandered—a lot!  I recall in the third grade watching the buffalo (really bison) out the window of my classroom.  No, I didn’t go to school during the pioneer days in the 1800’s, but I did go to school next door to Grants Farm in St. Louis, Missouri, where the wildlife roamed its property.

I don’t know why I couldn’t concentrate, but I know I was always daydreaming in class.  Part could be that I was one of the youngest in my class, having December 31 as the cutoff date for 5 year olds to kindergarten in the school district where I started my education.  It might have been good had I been held back a year, but that was not discussions in the schools in the 1950’s.  

I muddled my way through elementary school and junior high, and then on to high school.  I didn’t really study, and no one questioned it.  My dad came to America at age 10, and did not complete high school.  My mother, a first generation American, likewise did not go to high school.  Neither of them had any experience with what secondary education was.  My dad was a successful building contractor, and my mom was his office manager.  Both were very smart, and were business savvy.  I was never asked if I had homework.  No discussions were ever had about my educational future after high school.

I don’t think I really cracked a book open during my high school years.  Maybe I opened them to study for an exam or to do a required assignment.  It was the unspoken expectation in our family that we girls graduate high school, work in my parents’ office, then get married and stay home to raise children.  My senior year in high school I came to the realization that I did not want to work for my dad.  My friends were talking about going off to college, and I had no plans.  My grades were average, which is pretty good for one who does not study.  My last year of school, I took four courses to assure myself that I would graduate—clerical practice, bookkeeping, home economic III, and speech.  I carried a B average my senior year!  The one class I had to work in was speech, as we were taught how to prepare and deliver different kinds of speeches.  The first speech we had to deliver was a speech to influence, and I gave a speech on the dangers of smoking cigarettes.  I got an “A” on the speech and my teacher told me that I was a very influential speaker.  That was all I needed to hear, and I was motivated to work in that class because someone saw an ability in me of something I loved to do—talk!Invitation

I proceeded to the counselor’s office one day and told the counselor that I thought I wanted to go to college.  The counselor told me I was not college material.  I had not taken all the advanced courses my classmates had taken to prepare for college, it was doubtful that I could be successful in the college setting.  My desire NOT to work for my dad was greater than my desire to believe this counselor.  I enrolled in the local community college, and was accepted on academic probation.  I studied that first semester and removed myself off academic probation.  I had no clue why I was in college other than I wasn’t living at home working at a construction company office.  My major reflected that.  I selected sociology as my major because it did not require a foreign language or anything more than first level mathematics.  What a horrible reason to pick a major.  I muddled through those classes, which today I cannot even speak to—I minored in psychology, and I remember so much more from it because I found it much more interesting.  I couldn’t major in psychology because it required more of those harder courses, so I stuck with my major and minor.  My dad willingly paid for my college, but he was very clear that I had to do this in four years, so I muddled my way through, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology with a minor in Psychology.  What I was going to do with this major is another story, and for another time.

Fast forward many years.  I was now a mother of four sons.  When my oldest was about 9, and the youngest about 3, my marriage had fallen apart.  Now I was a single mom with no money, working and highly stressed.  My kids, are in school, some doing better than others.  I was good at asking them if they have homework.  The oldest two never seemed to have any homework, and they never brought books home to study, and there was no online method to check.  Report cards showed the real truth—they also were not studying.

The question begs, “What happened with these kids in the future?  I have four sons, and none of them used the same path to adulthood.  Let’s take a look:

My first son took five years to get through high school to graduation.  His senior year, his younger brother decided to drop out of school.  Oh my!  I don’t know if things have changed since those days, but at age 16, one could decide to permanently sign themselves out of high school. I was in a panic, and foresaw a future of doom for him.  Now, son #1 bad gradesthought he might want to do the same, but he had only one semester until graduation.  I told him to hang in there.  If he graduated, I would give him a big party, and people who attend graduation parties bring gifts and usually the gifts were money.  (I will use any bribe to get him to stay)!  His eyes lit up.  Money did not come easy in our family at that time, and he chose to hang in.

Now as son #2 was dropping out, I had a great conversation with his high school principal.  Although this son was often in and out of the principal’s office, it also gave the principal time to get to know him.  Dr. Jones told me to make three rules for him.  The first was that he should not delay in getting his GED.  The second which he said was extremely important is that I require him to get a job.  He said most kids lose their way when they are allowed to just sit at home.  The third thing was that if he passed his GED, have him take one or two classes at the local community college.  I was rather surprised by this last one, but I went about following his advice.  I purchased a GED study guide at the local bookstore.  The book has a pretest in it, and it is a good way to see what areas he might be deficient to be able to pass the GED.  A friend of his also dropped out, so I offered to tutor them both toward taking their GED as soon as possible.  Once they took the pretest, I knew what subject matter I could bypass and help them in the areas they were weak.  I do not remember how long we did this, but it was in the following semester of school.  They both took the exam and passed!  I called the principal to give him the good news about my son, and he asked me the score on the GED.  I grabbed the paperwork sent, and read back the numerical score.  Upon hearing this he told me that the score was high enough to get accepted into the biggest state university.  He told me that he knew my son was bright and was learning in the classroom, but refused to let the teachers know.

Son #3 was a self-disciplined child his whole life.  I never had to ask about homework because I could observe daily his studying, and his grades reflected it.  By the time he hit middle school, he was being honored for his grades, and in high school, he was taking advanced credit classes.  Sometimes, we ignore signs of trouble when we see things going so well.  What I didn’t see was the stress level he was at, and how it was affecting him.  His senior year, he dropped a class, and was only taking the exact number of credits he need to have to graduate.  His GPA was high, and I thought all was well, until the week before graduation when I received a phone call that he had flunked one of his classes and did not have enough credits to walk with the class on graduation the following week. I was floored.  I had already sent out the graduation announcements and the invitations to the graduation party.  Once again, Dr. Jones knew exactly what to tell me.  He said that his GPA was really good.  He just needed an elective of anything to get credit.  His suggested he just take a simple home study course, and take the exam at the school, and he would have his graduation credits fulfilled by July and final transcripts could go out to college with no problem.  So that is what he did.  He and nine other students of the 100 who did not make graduation, had a mini graduation ceremony in early August.  It was actually the most fun and interesting graduation ceremony I have ever attended.

Son # 4 struggled with school also.  He like the oldest, was held back a year in his early elementary years.   He had to work to get passing grades.  In high school, he started playing sports, but found his place in choir, Madrigals (song and dance group), and drama club.  He was also active in Young Life on campus.  His is the only one who graduated in four years!

So what happened with their various methods of getting through high school?  The beginnings were rough for them all.  The first two started a band.  They were playing full time, and traveled the country, had an album, and a lot of radio play.  Recording companies were noticing, but then then whole Napster thing happened, and the recording industry took a step back for a while to ensure the safety of their copyrights.  Gasoline prices skyrocketed, and a traveling band decided to call it quits and find a different line of employment.  Fast forward several years and you find:

Son #1 living in San Francisco.  How did he get there?  He came up with an internet sensation that millionaires funded and required him to be in the silicone valley area.  A few years ago, he was honored by his high school as a distinguished alumni for his work in the ever growing high tech world.  Just last week, he was back in St. Louis and stopped at the school and talked with a group of kids who are high risk for dropping out.  He was there to encourage them to stick it out and graduate.  How did he grab their attention?  He showed on the screen one of his report cards that showed less than adequate grades.  He shared his struggles and his success in a world of technical designers and venture capitalists.

Son # 2 is currently the owns his own business that is “certified, focused, and committed to helping organizations succeed with Apple.” The company is “partnered with industry leaders and dedicated to providing innovative technology and services to strengthen and secure your organization. Apple empowers today’s modern workforce to do something truly great and we are passionate and prepared to help you succeed personally and professionally.”  That’s all quoted from his website because I don’t know how to explain what I don’t know.

Son # 3 waited until his 30’s to change his course of study, and graduated the top student in the business department at the the Pierre Laclede Honors College at the University of Missouri St. Louis (UMSL), and continued getting his CPA certification, and a Masters of Business degree.  He has struck out on his own with his accounting and business consulting firm.

Son #4 after getting his degree in Mass Media, decided St. Louis wasn’t the place to find employment.  He packed up his car and drove to California to see if he could find an opportunity there.  He was hired to a temp position at what was then the ABC Disney Cable Network, and 12 years later is still with the company now called Walt Disney Television, a division of The Walt Disney Company.  He has worked his way up in the technology of bringing Disney to us and others around the world.

All of them went by different paths.  All of them have had ups and downs, twists and turns in their lives.  Haven’t we all?

There are times I am speaking with parents who are agonizing over their children’s academic and other decisions.  I point out my four sons, and how they all did it differently, and none of them quite how I would have planned it for them.  My advice is to just love your children through the thick and thin.  They will mature and find their way.  We never learn from the easy stuff, so why do we think our children should?  

I wasn’t college material,  but I have a Masters of Business degree, and had a very successful career for years in Human Resources.  Some of my kids didn’t go to college, but found their passion and have been able to turn it into a successful career.  Some went to college and then later changed their focus.  How on earth do we know what to do in life when we are only 18 years old?  

However you perceive your past education, be it good or not so good, time changes things and we make the decisions what to do with it.  It’s not the grade on a piece of paper that makes us who we are.  I haven’t met a single person in my adulthood who asked my what my GPA was.  Thank goodness for that!

What I do know is that we continue to learn all our lives, and if we are honest, it’s what we do with those life lessons that is important.  I am extremely proud of how my sons, through their twists and turns, have a focus on their careers.  More importantly, is they have a focus on life.  They are loving husbands, dads, sons, sons-in-law, brothers-in-law, friends, and neighbors.  They are well functioning human beings.  They survived their mother’s (me) ups, downs, and sideways of life.  Our family is stronger for it.  My boys have each other’s backs.  

Would I have changed anything if I could?  As much as I want to say yes, in hindsight, I see that what we we have and are today, is a product of our trials of the past.  I guess I wish I could take hurt and sorrow from their lives, but I cannot, and we are all stronger because of it.

Don’t fret if your child seems to academically going sideways.  Encourage them to hang in there.  Pray for them.  Like it or not, God can change circumstances around something, and can help open their eyes to their beautiful lives and future.  Parents, it’s not over til it’s over.  I cannot guarantee that it will look the way you want it to look, but it might just look how it is supposed to look.  As Mark Twain once said, “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.”Mark Twain

Quilting — Piece by Piece

I realized the other day I was hitting a low.  Here I am sitting I sunny Arizona, while back in Missouri it is snowing and super cold.  I have a beautiful home here, and a mountain nothingto view right off my back yard.  Why am I feeling listless?  The project lady has no project!  Oh my!  I am not planning a holiday gathering or party of any kind, no one has called me for a get-together,  I’m not redecorating, I’m just sitting here with nothing to plan. 

I know, you are thinking, “how lovely, nothing to do.”  Yeah, that’s nice for me for a short while, and then I need something.  I decided it would be quilting.  It is something I can do, and put away if a social event comes up, because I am even more myself with social events.  A couple weeks ago I was invited to go with a cousin to a local quilt show.  That served two purposes for me—1) an event, a connection with people outside my home; and 2) trying to find some inspiration to make a quilt.

IMG_8838 2My biggest problem is that I am not a fan of traditional quilts.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to look at them.  I love seeing the beautiful work done, but they are not me.  I like different, and I like bold.  I am very tempted to make a “Labyrinth Walk” quilt.  It’s an optical illusion, and really interesting.  My cousin had the pattern in one of her quilt magazines, and I borrowed it, but the inspiration was still not there.  I think I need a bit more piecing practice before I tackle it.  I kept watching quilt videos.  One of my favorite places to watch on YouTube is the videos from the Missouri Star Quilt Company.  Don’t ask me why, having come from Missouri, I have not made a trip to Hamilton, MO to visit this “Disneyland” of quilt stores.  It is on my list for this summer.

I want to make quilt gifts for my family.  The problem is, my family is like me.  They like unique more modern styles, and should I make a quilt for their beds, or a lap quilt to cuddle under while watching TV or reading a good book?  What colors would they like?  I just kept watching videos.  Then one just popped up that caught my attention.  It was a IMG_1435simple straightforward quilt design, but bold colors, and one I think a particular person in my family may love.  It’s an odd size, so it doesn’t seem to be a bed quilt, but it also seems to be too large for a lap quilt.  I think it’s a size fits all—do anything you want with this quilt.

I started looking at fabric on line, but I like touching a looking at the colors in person.  This quilt will take a jellyroll, which is 2-1/2 strips of fabric (about 40 strips) rolled into a round circle like a jellyroll.  I went back and forth over what to do, and finally told Dennis I wanted to go to the local fabric store and see what they had.  Lo and behold, the jellyroll I was looking at online was sitting in this store.  Before I chickened out, and backed away from this project, I grabbed the jellyroll, and fabric for the background, and made my way to the checkout.  

It is a bold and brave step.  I have a very short resumes of quilts,  Back in the early 1970’s my sister and I took a quilting course at a local high school night class.  I made two quilts —  one for a twin bed, and one for a baby bed.  The twin quilt was for my son who was just two years old.  I was pregnant with my second child at the time.  I told myself I would make all my future children quilts.  Well, babies two, then three, then four showed up.  A few years after the last, I became a single mom.  I was way too busy to do anything extracurricular after working all day, and dealing with little ones all evening and on weekends. Quilting disappeared from my life completely, although I think my sister continued her quilting.

In 2013, I married Dennis, and we combined our households in mid-Missouri where he lived.  His wife, who had passed away, was a quilter.  There were quilts, fabric, and supplies, everywhere.  I knew these items were not mine, and we gave them to family members who would use them and enjoy them, but it made me start thinking about quilts again.  IMG_8449Two years later I was going to have a new grandson.  I wanted to make something special for him, but I did not have a lot of confidence of what to make.  I found a pattern for a transportation quilt that had crossed-stitch squares.  Nothing is easier than cross-stitching.  I decided to purchase this kit.  One of the things I loved about it was that I could do the hand sewing anywhere.  I even did the embroidery in the car on a trip to and from Spring Training of the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Florida.  I completed the squares, and realized that they weren’t all the same size.  That is no news to the quilting world, but was to me.  I found a local person who had a long arm IMG_0355quilting machine to complete my quilt, and she met with me and walked me through what I needed to do with these non-matching squares.  Thus, the quilt, was a success, and with the leftover fabric, Luke received a matching pillowcase, some bibs, and a “quiet” book.  I loved the project.

Then I was done.  Quilting was out of my mind, or so I thought.  A few months later, as I was reorganizing some storage shelves in our basement, I ran across a couple plastic bins of tee shirts.  I asked my husband what these were.  He said his previous wife was going to make their son a tee shirt quilt, but it never happened before she passed away.  I don’t know where it came from, but I told him, if I could learn how to do this, I would make his son the tee shirt quilt.  At that, Dennis told me to find where I could take a class to do that, and he would pay for the class and buy the materials necessary.  Off I went to find this class.  I did not realize that the class I found was not to make an ordinary tee shirt quilt, but would make one quite distinguished from those I had later seen.  That Christmas Blake received the quilt made with the tee shirts from his childhood, and through high school and college.  His life history was now part of a quilt.  And, now I had the bug.

I found a pattern online for a “Stained Glass” quilt, and bought the pattern and fabric.  I made the squares, and then they were put away, because I had other projects, like planning a 50th class reunion, having guests to our home in the country, and traveling.  In December of 2017, we decided to write a contract to have a 2nd home built in Arizona.  We would be closing on the home in June of 2018, and have it furnished to move in for the coming winter.  I came back to Missouri and realized I had this quilt I started, and it would work well as the quilt for our guest room.  I pulled everything out, and once again got working on another quilt.  This would be quilt #5 in my life.  It was completed and quilted in time for us to bring it with us last winter, and is sitting beautifully on our guest bed.

Now I need a project, and the next quilt materials are purchased.  I will work on it between any guests arriving, and any events we find to do here in Arizona.  During that time, I will try to learn what kind of quilts my family would like—I never made those quilts for my kids that I thought I was going to do back in the 70’s.  Who knows, I may  become a quilting queen, or maybe I may just do a couple and find a new project.  Time will tell.

My Current Project

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