Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Livin It

Here is a cool site about an "extreme sports" ministry called Livin It.

Since my idea of an extreme sport is having to make two trips up the stairs with my groceries, I'll just let you have this one for yourselves.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004


Most English words have several meanings, which is what makes it so difficult to learn as a second language. But it is also what makes it so special.

The word "home" takes up 3-1/2 inches of space starting on page 371 of my Oxford Pocket Dictionary and Thesaurus (American Edition-1997). There are six definitions of "home" as a noun, plus several definitions of the word as an adjective or verb, a nice selection of synonyms, and some idioms and phrase examples.

In this fabulous book, the first definition of "home" is a noun - "a place where one lives; fixed residence". Well, I guess you can have only one of those, since it is "fixed". But wait! There's more!

There are several definitions of the phrase "at home". Right now, I am living the first definition - "in one's own house or native land". But for the past week I was living the second definition - "at ease as if in one's own home".

While my Oxford Pocket Dictionary is helpful in describing what it means to feel at home when I'm not at home, words cannot adequately communicate the love I feel for the people in that home away from home that was my home for the past week. For it is the love that makes a home, don't you think?

Thank you M, C, S and M2. I love you. I'll be home again soon.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Home sweet (second) home

I am in Michigan this week staying with Daniel's brother's family. I am able to work in my old office (the one I transferred from) during the day, and visit with my loved ones in the evening.

Having your heart in two places is a double blessing and painful at the same time. I spent eight years in Michigan, and during that time it seemed I did not get to see my family and friends in Chicago often enough. Now that I'm living there again, I can't seem to get to Michigan often enough.

And it's not just about my families and is good to be with my Michigan coworkers again. We talk on the phone almost daily, but to sit in the same room and reconnect is a very good thing. Even if the room we are in is a mess (most of my coworkers here are guys...nuff said).

Email and unlimited weekend cell minutes have certainly made it easier to communicate. But there is no substitute for daily hugs, fun lunches, family dinners, shopping trips and quiet evenings.

It would be so cool to have a home in both places and split my time between them equally. I think my bosses would go for it. I just have to find a way to pay for it.

Any ideas?

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Too Blue - Part II

Most of you who read this blog already knew that my mother died young. For those who don't know the story, here's the very short version.

My parents were divorced when I was eight. My mother left us (my two sisters, my brother and me) with my father. What exactly happened to end their marriage I don't know, but what I do know is that my father stopped drinking and smoking but my mother did not.

For a long time I was angry. I was angry that my parents could not figure out a way to stay together. But it wasn't until I was married myself that I realized how hard marriage can be. When my mother died, I was angry that she was never able to pull herself together and quit drinking. But struggling with my own weaknesses all these years has given me empathy for what she must have gone through.

I wish my mother's life had been different. I wish she had not left her family. I wish she had seen her children grow up and marry. I wish she had met her seven grandchildren. I wish she had lived a lot longer than 43 and a half years.

My wishes won't change anything. All I can do is live my life and make the most of the time God chooses to give me. That is all any of us can do.

The question is, am I making the most of my life?

Friday, March 19, 2004

Too blue

WARNING - Depressing blog entry!

I haven't written lately because I have been in a sort of down mood - the kind my Dad used to call a "blue funk". Nothing is really wrong, feeling like I don't belong (oh, wait, that's the Carpenters song).

It's lots of things combined I think - a cold that lasted over week, a shift in hormones which may be due to pre-pre-menopause (sorry if that's TMI kids) and the related relapse into some really bad eating habits, and an overwhelming workload at the office. We are also in the last official days of winter, and I am tired-tired-tired of dead trees and salty roads and scraping ice off my windshield.

There's also been too much bad news lately. The son of some dear friends burned in a fire that killed his roommate. Sad revelations by some of my favorite bloggers (one is a recovering drug addict, one was sexually abused as a very young child). Bombings abroad, dirty politics at home.

Then there is that milestone I just passed. It must have been at the back of my mind because I have been contemplating it for many years. But it passed almost without me thinking about it.

I have now lived longer than my mother did.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Real life versus reel life

Recently my Netflix rentals included "Under the Tuscan Sun", which I wanted to see in the theatre but never got around to. I ended up reading the book first, which had the unfortunate effect of ruining the movie for me. The movie has very little in common with the book - a true story of a San Francisco writer who goes through a painful divorce and ends up buying a villa in Tuscany.

In the movie - the reel story - the writer buys the villa on a whim, alone, fixes it up herself (with the help of contractors), never goes back to San Francisco and only finds her new love in the end. Oh, and of course everyone is movie-star Hollywood gorgeous.

In the book - the real story - the writer finds her new love first and they buy the villa together, spend their summers there fixing it up and the rest of the year back in San Francisco working to pay for it (while the contractors continue their work). I don't know what the writer looked like when she bought the villa, but the bonus features on the DVD showed a recent interview with her and she looks just fine, but average.

Would anyone have paid to see a movie that told the real story, with actors who actually looked like average people and not Hollywood's ideal of beauty? Probably not. After all, the point of going to the movies is to escape your own life for a couple of hours and live in a fantasy.

I guess I am just disappointed that a true story had to get so distorted on film in order for anyone to be interested in it. Disappointed, but not surprised.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Little fixes

For the last several weeks, while using my Google Toolbar for web searches the results have been displayed in a Spanish language version of Google. It was kind of annoying, but the web pages the search returned were in English so I didn't bother to look into it.

Today I finally checked out my settings and realized I was set to use the Argentina version of Google. I must have reset it myself by accident. But now it's fixed. Done. Back to normal in one minute.

Little annoyances are no big deal. But add a few of them up, and you can start to feel stressed without knowing why.

Is there something in your life that is just a little annoying, and you know if you took a few minutes you could fix it? How about that button on your jacket that is about to fall off? Maybe the missing ice scraper that you only think about on frosty mornings when you need one to clean your car windows. Or that something you keep tripping over in your room that you just need to put away or throw out.

Dedicate some time this weekend to fixing a few of these things, at least those in your power to fix. What about those things that are not in your power to fix? Don't let them bug you.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

5-4-3-2-1- Happy Birthday, A!!

My niece A turns 13 today. She's been counting down the days since at least Christmas.

I love you A. You are like sunshine to me. You always make me smile and your love keeps me warm. Thirteen is the first of many wonderful milestones. And as you pass each one you may not feel much different, but deep down you know you are.

And now you may proceed to count down the days until spring break.

To A's mother and father - you now have three teenagers. Oy!

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Generations at a glance

The other night as I sat alone in a restaurant, reading my book and eating my dinner, something caught my eye. I looked up and for just a couple of seconds I had in my field of vision the following:

The early-twenty-something waiter being flirty with the elderly ladies at the booth across from me while a mother walked by holding the hand of her toddler who was looking up at me beaming one of those super-cutie smiles.

Restaurants are cool places because - since almost everybody eats - you are likely to find many people types there at any given time. But to have had that generational span together in one place at that moment was profound.

I have been a toddler (not that I remember it), and made someone smile by just being innocent little me. I've been an early-twenty-something, working a job that I hoped would not end up being my career (although I was never a male with a pierced tongue and eyebrow). And God willing, someday I will be an elderly lady who can still smile and flirt right back at the early-twenty-something waiter taking my order.

But for now, I'm a forty-something widow who eats alone. And that's OK.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Whack, whack, whack, whack

The last few days I have had trouble concentrating. Something happened Saturday that keeps distracting my brain.

I attended a Lenten retreat at my church. One of the sessions was a spiritual exercise during which we sat quietly and contemplated Christ's sacrifice. This quiet time was occasionally interrupted by scripture reading and the sound of the pounding of nails.

We were invited to take the sin we struggled most with and nail it to the cross. Once I had the sight of the large cross and the nails and the hammer together in my mind, the sin I struggle most with came into focus and everything else in my brain became background. It has been that way ever since.

I nailed that sin to that cross, but I have committed it several times since then. And every time I do, I hear the pounding of the nail. How can I concentrate on anything with all that pounding going on?