Butterflies and Horse Shit

Butterflies and Horse Shit

Butterflies are delicate, beautiful creatures that effortlessly seem to float in the air dancing from wildflower to wildflower.

They seem perfect, dancing only in the wind with each other like the new found love between lovers.

Newlywed love is like this, it gathers attention where it goes, it wraps the lovers in a cloak of intimacy and makes the world seem shiny, new and beautiful.

Last week as we vacationed with great friends and celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in the Rocky Mountains we embarked on a hike to a waterfall and mountain stream. My love for wildflowers was indulged as I found myself on the trail winding slowly higher and lined with Columbines, Primrose and Chickweed. The farther from the road we ventured the more butterflies seemed to dance around us around each new bend.

The combination of fresh mountain air, tall Ponderosa Pines tickling my senses, majestic peaks, charming birds and flirty butterflies brought out my romantic side. The perfumed mountain valley lined with wildflowers was intoxicating. Caught up in the moment it was easy to feel the love of great friends, and a charming husband, in fact, it was perfect and felt like a scene in a movie “The Sound of Music” that is until I stepped in a big pile of horse shit unceremoniously dumped in the middle of the trail. Black flies hungrily circling like miniature vultures. I found the irony along the trail amusing to say the least!

“What the heck?” I thought as I jumped off the trail into the tall grass.

“Where did all this come from?” I questioned my friends. “How can this perfect scene be marred by something so stinky and smelly?”

That’s when it hit me – what a metaphor for married life! Life isn’t perfect – it can be beautiful one minute and then messy, stinky and even smelly the next!

Hopefully you’ll be blessed to fall in love and share your life with your best friend but take this advice, sometimes your path life will be smooth and breathtakingly, almost painfully beautiful, and sometimes, usually when you least expect it, life is nothing more than a pile of poo!

Surviving it together and still liking each other at the end of the day takes patience, courage and a good sense of humor, just remember to laugh along the way, stop and smell the flowers and watch where you are stepping!

Celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary was a great bucketlist adventure!

So my friends, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Just Blaze Your Own Trail in Life

One of our bucketlist adventures on our vacation was to take Robin on an ascent to the top of Mount Crested Butte, thus providing her with two firsts in life, one, riding a ski gondola, and two, hiking to the top of a 12,000 plus foot mountain and soaking up the once in a lifetime feeling of knowing you hiked to the top of this, and you earned the right to enjoy the view!


At the ski base we bought our tickets and boarded the gondola, which took us on a gorgeous ride up the mountain to 10,000 feet, where we soon embarked on a 3 mile round trip hike to the summit.

Altitude hiking is totally different than any other hiking, trust me on this, the views are spectacular, but you have to earn every inch with your lungs burning and your labored breath making you sound like a panting dog.

Robin soon learned that the only way was slow and steady. When we entered the top section of the mountain and faced the boulder field you had to carefully pick your route and “scramble” over one rock to the next.

I kind of find this part fun –it’s the altitude climbing on the trail that I don’t like, but Robin was unsure of herself on the boulders and found that the problem solving part was the challenging aspect of the adventure.

You see, on the early stages of the trail, it is easy to see where you are supposed to go. The trail is well worn by many a bighorn sheep, chunky marmot or daring human. You can easily see where to put your foot next – you just follow what others have done before you.

The signs all say to stay on the trail and it is easy to follow these rules of the road.

When you get to the boulders, which unfortunately, are at the top of virtually every mountain I’ve ever been on, you can’t see where to go. All you see is a huge pile of rocks.

It looks like God dumped a bulldozer or two full of human sized rocks and just pushed them randomly on top of each other. No trail in sight, no hazard warning, no stop lights, just a huge pile of larger than life rocks.

As you look up you can see the bent over backs of other hikers slowly picking their way up. Some go slow, terrified to make a wrong move. Others almost run, their footing solid likes a Bighorn Sheep.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not fast – remember my burning lungs? But I do tend to go with confidence, even when I don’t know where to go. I kind of like this lesson for life in general. Like the Eagles say in their song “Just do something”! I guess I am just willing to go, figuring it will all work out somehow in the end. So far, thankfully, it has!

Robin has a different approach. She is willing to give it a try, but she gets a little anxious when there is not a clear path in sight. Interestingly enough, she felt this way when we went rock climbing too. You must understand, your vision is really limited on the boulder field. All you can really see is a radius of a few feet around you so it is scary to think of making the wrong move.

Unfortunately, not moving is not an option. There is no way up or down without taking a chance.

This is where I humbly offer the advice, just go for it. Blaze your own trail in life!

Robin hung in there. Even when she doubted herself and things got stressful she persisted and eventually was rewarded with a breathtaking view from the top. I think she was glad she hung in there and she learned a little about herself that morning.

A small plague at the top in honor of a young mane named Chris Mikesell said it right with the words “If you don’t climb the mountain you can’t see the view!”

Kudos to Robin, I’m proud of you and I hope you enjoyed the view and the feeling of accomplishment because you earned it!

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Lake Placid Luge

Have you ever wanted to be an Olympian? I have always thought it would be so cool to be one of those super talented athletes who get to carry the flag of red, white and blue into the arena proudly with all the other elite athletes of the world. It is not that I am so competitive that I want to be the best in the world at some sport, rather, I just think it sounds really cool to able perform one of these unusual but cool sports.
I mean who grows up curling or speed skating? Where do these people learn these sports? It’s not like I have ever seen a beginner bobsledding class at the local YMCA.

Back before I officially had a bucketlist, I used to like to do zany things, or as I called it, sampling of life! One weekend while we lived in upstate New York, we took a road trip to Lake Placid, New York and toured this quaint little Adirondack Olympic town. I feel in love with the small town feel that was a cool mixture of small town charm, rich history, and funky mountain town.

On this trip, we learned we could actually go up to the top of the ski jump and stand at the gate, taking turns pretending we were about to go for the Gold on the long jump! On TV the ski jump is fun to watch and I remember thinking these guys were pretty gutsy, but I must admit, standing on the top of the long jump looking down at the ramp ahead of me, I came to the quick and accurate conclusion that these guys are certifiably nuts.

The exploration of Lake Placid got even better when we realized we could walk up the hill where the bobsled and luge runs were located. It was cool to think we were where history was made. About this time, we stumbled upon a sign that said you could actually pay $25 to go down the bobsled run in the summer. In the summer they put the sled on wheels for the ride. Your other option was to wait for snow and take a shot at the luge run.

Determining that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that simply had to be taken while we had the chance, we made our plans. I wanted to bobsled when my friend Karen came to visit later that summer and Dan wanted to wait for snow and luge.

A few weeks later, back in this quaint little town, my friend Karen and I anxiously waited our turn. We had to sign our life away on the waiver, which at the time didn’t seem very sensible because we both had two small children at home, but nevertheless, we both signed on the dotted line.

Now the bobsled run was absolutely a hoot. It was a bit like riding down a water park slide on a flat wooden sled on wheels. If you held your body really rigid and didn’t move your head the sled would kind of go where it was supposed to go. If you tried to control where you were going things got complicated in a hurry. I quickly learned on my own that when I turned my head or slightly twisted my body the sled would start to ride up on the chute causing me to have an even wilder ride.

About half way down the run the adrenaline in my body made way for common sense and I steadied my body. The ride smoothed out and I quickly gained speed. Fighting the urge to turn my head and attempt to control my outcome, it hit me that life was a bit like this. When I tried to channel my inner control freak and control all the variables in my life, havoc was usually the end result. The more I would try to control the variables in my life, the more out of control life would get. Learning the lesson, that sometimes the best decision was to just go with the flow, I finally understood that in life there are only a few things I could control. The rest of life had to just happen. It was a good lesson, one that I have had to relearn a few times since then, but good nevertheless!

While I was zipping down the bobsled run that day with my friend, all I could imagine was the roar of the crowd, the ticking of the time clock and the determination of the individual athletes as their entire life came down to one run. As I navigated one s curve after another on this most famous bobsled course I wondered what must it have felt like to be a real Olympian on this run?

Long before I finished pretending I was in this for the Gold my run was over and I was left to ponder the idea of following my dreams to the top of an Olympic run and the challenge of letting go of my desire to control every aspect of my life. Sometimes, you just have to let go and let God drive the sled.

It was a great experience and I am thankful for the courage to give the bobsled run a try. I am still trying to learn the other lesson.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Fins the Left, Fins to the Right….

A Jimmy Buffett concert has been on my bucketlist now for many years and I have been waiting, ever so patiently, for my opportunity. It takes a lot of patience to wait as long as I have, but I finally got my chance and I am happy to report it was worth the wait. Jimmy Buffett, rock and roll legend, margarita-in-hand icon, stick it to the man himself, arrived in Denver, Colorado in October to fulfill one of my dreams.

Parrot heads are an interesting bunch, ranging in age from 7 to 70, they come in all shapes and sizes, gathering like a flock of migrating birds to city after city on the tour. They arrive for the show all dressed in their best Caribbean beachwear, straw hats, coconut shell tops, and flip flops with their beers in hand to pay homage to one of rock and roll’s most interesting characters, Mr. Jimmy Buffett.

I have never seen so many decked out vehicles, surfboards and VW vans in one place. The crowd left their careers as doctors, plumbers, lawyers and teachers behind as they gathered for the biggest beach party Colorado has ever had.

Drinks in hand, the crowd joined as one, in singing anthems such as Wasting Away in Margarittaville, Brown Eyed Girl, and we all became Pirates together like a bunch of kids. The party was a hoot, everyone managed to leave their worries checked at the door, no deadlines, bills, stock markets, or Middle East standoffs to worry about, all we did was dance and sing like a bunch of fools, multiple generations joining together, teenagers and grandparents, youngsters and parents, we all joined together and pretended we were dancing in the sand as the waves rolled in, nothing but time and friends on our side.

Finland is a magical place; the Caribbean sound floating in their while the invisible smell of the salty sea fills your senses. While I was there, I relaxed, I let go, and I put my hands on above my head and sang along to “fins to the left, fins to the right, like you’re the only bait in town!!” Jimmy Buffet has it all figured out. Don’t let life get you down; all you need is a good song, a guitar, a surfboard and the sea. The rest of it really doesn’t matter, cause “If we didn’t laugh, we’d all go insane!”

Watching the generations merge together, the stress and worry disappear from all of their faces, I realized I danced with new friends and I sang with the best. Somehow, it will all be all right.

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Not for the Faint of Heart

Zipline Adventure
What do you get when you cross four stressed out women, 1 mile of cable, and a Tarantula? Well, you get a Royal Gorge wild adventure that’s what! Recently, I found a brand new zipline course at Royal Gorge and felt compelled to give it a try and rope some friends into the adventure too.

The players:
Andrea- game to give it a go but forced to overcome her inner anti adrenaline demons first. She was a natural, and had the biggest smile of the entire group in all the pictures. Once she got going she became a nut and even mastered the elusive spinning trick!

Tracy-a fellow Bucketlist aficionado, Tracy is always up for something new and the source of many of my own bucketlist ideas. This is one wild woman and she is a ton of fun to hang out with –no matter what you are doing.

Vicki-as the unchallenged athlete of the group her natural talents, coupled with her excellent physical strength, helped make her the show stopping master and helped her land a 10 on her form and landings!

Jackie-the mastermind of this crazy adventure and the connector for this rag tag group of 40 something’s as they channeled their inner Tarzan!

On the Bucketlist

Ziplining has always seemed to me to be the ultimate in irrational, adrenaline seeking fun, and although I had never actually done it, was high oh my must do bucketlist. The good news is that I found a zipline course close to home, which proved to be far more affordable than the Costa Rica or Hawaii trip I was envisioning. When I discovered the new course only 2 hours from home I jumped on the bandwagon and started recruiting friends to join in the craziness.

Female Recipe
I have been doing zany stuff all my life, but especially in the past year and if I have learned anything, it is that you can’t beat the fun of gathering a bunch of women and getting out of our comfort zones together. A little bit of adrenaline pumping in our veins usually proves to be very invigorating. What consistently follows is an amazing combination of giggles, squeals, stories, bonding, love and encouragement. It happens every time, and it doesn’t matter at all what crazy activity we are doing. The magic is in getting a group of women together and then getting out of our comfort zone together.

Why does this recipe create the same outcome every time? I think it has something to do with the fact that these women are usually givers. They give to their husbands, their children, their homes, families, neighbors, churches and employers. They give and give and give until eventually they start to feel like they have lost themselves. Now, I don’t want to sound overly dramatic here, but all the women I have run into fit this description. When I start talking about all the craziness of my bucketlist, they are interested. Sometimes they think to themselves, “well, that’s cool but I could never do that” or they think I am special in some athletic gene kind of way, but when they listen to the stories they realize I am not that different from them. They start to ask more questions or follow my blog so they can live vicariously through my crazy world. Eventually, they start to wonder if they could do some of this stuff too. That’s when the magic starts to happen. They start to dream.

Dreams are Good
Dreams are good stuff. You give up the restrictions and responsibilities of life. You don’t ask “if” something could really happen, you just imagine it happening. You stop asking yourself “could I do this?” and start asking yourself “why couldn’t I do that?”

I love doing new things and living life to the fullest. I don’t ever want to look back at my life and wonder why didn’t I do that. I want to look back and say I can’t believe I really did that. That is what my bucketlist is really all about. It’s about living life to the fullest in everyway I can imagine.

The ziplining proved to be very cool. I must admit I was never scared and I felt totally safe. Our guides were very knowledgeable and careful. We got to go on a total of 9 different ziplines ranging in distance from 300 feet to 1000 feet. All in all, we covered over 1 mile of line and got to zip along at speeds of nearly 45 miles per hour!

Tarantula’s on the Trail
The scariest part of the whole adventure was hearing stories of Tarantula’s migrating on the trail! What? Tarantulas! I didn’t sign up for Tarantulas! Thankfully, we only saw one and it was already dead; a rather nasty, gigantic hairy creature that I hope I never run into again!

The magic of this adventure was in bringing together four women who didn’t know each other at all and ending the day knowing we were all friends. We were empowered and we had finally done something to feed our own souls instead of always taking care of everyone else.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Building Faith and Rock Climbing

When I was a kid, I remember my mom, in a moment of parental frustration, asking me “if your friend jumped off a cliff would you???” This conversation was meant to knock some sense into me, and teach me to make my own decisions in life, especially during those rocky teenager years! “No! “ I emphatically replied trying to convince her I did have functioning brain cells! “Of course I wouldn’t jump off a cliff!” I am pretty sure my friend’s mom had a similar conversation somewhere along the line with her daughter, so I will have to apologize to Ms. Sharon, but I did just that, I convinced her 46 year old daughter, my friend, to jump off a cliff with me!

I think one of the best gifts one friend can give to another is to empower them to do something they never would have done. This one has been on my bucket list for years, and I am always trying to find new ways to be there for my friends. Sometimes it is a shoulder to cry on, sometimes it is an honest conversation delivered with love, sometimes it is a giggle late in the night, or a tear over a child, but sometimes you get to help a friend step way out of their comfort zone and become someone they never thought they could be.

I have a friend who has been there for me for hmmmmm, 37 years. Good Lord, that makes us sound old, but it is true. We have been pals since third grade. We have laughed, cried, worried, and prayed together over everything from math tests, boyfriends, husbands, parents and children. She has a kind heart and a groundedness I respect. I however, am not grounded, especially lately when I have been busy jumping out of planes and climbing mountains. Sometimes she needs a little more of my adventurous spirit, and sometimes I need a bit more of her groundedness. A couple of weekends ago, I convinced her to jump off an 80-foot tall cliff! How’s that for adventure!

I convinced my friend, and her husband, to go rock climbing with me, since I had such an amazing time last fall at Garden of the Gods climbing up 80-foot red rock monsters and then subsequently rappelling off them (i.e. Jumping off a cliff!!)

My friend showed her long forgotten adventurous side when she gamely agreed to my invitation, surprising me to say the least! I thought there was no way I’d get her to climb a sheer rock face and then back off the top. Miracles will never cease to amaze me, because somehow my crazy midlife crisis has started to rub off on her and she said YES! I like to think of it in this way, maybe I inspired her just little bit to rediscover her wild side and rediscover the girl within the mother. Maybe, I showed her it is ok to be a little crazy, and do something that you did not think you could ever, in a million years, actually do! I like to “spin it” like Charlie Sheen, and say that maybe I empowered her to see what she was made of!

Ok, so now I have managed to give myself all the credit here, and in actuality, she did it all herself. She showed up, she strapped on the harness and slipped into the climbing shoes. She then watched and listened to our guide KO give instructions and demonstrate how to rappel down once you made it to the top. Then …. She did it!

I watched from below in amazement as she proved to herself she could tackle a huge challenge, she could use her own strength to pull herself up, and most importantly, she could problem solve along the way. This is the surprising part of rock climbing, it is almost entirely about problem solving and not giving up, much more so than extreme physical ability or strength like it looks.

What rock climbing boils down to, is learning to view the world a little differently, seek out options, try new things, have faith, and then when it doesn’t work, take a little step to the side and try something new. It is not about always knowing what to do, where to put your foot next, or about always selecting the best route in life. It is about trying, having faith and then trying again.

Look at it this way, when you are halfway up a huge rock face, and all you can see is what is 2 feet in front of you, it can really be overwhelming. You can quickly feel very stuck and doubt the decisions you’ve made that got you to this spot. When you look down and everything appears tiny, and it seems very far away, you can get very dizzy. When you look up and the top of the rock seems a world away, and you think you’ll never get there, it is hard to not loose yourself in anxiety.

This is such a good analogy for the real world. In my life, when I get in these scary new situations this is what sometimes happens too, I worry, I second-guess myself, I stress myself out. When I allow this to happen I then find myself frozen in uncertainly. Nothing happens. I want to know the right thing to do before I do anything. I have to stop myself and realize- I have a faith that is strong enough to get me though the tough spots in life.

When you are rock climbing the overwhelming lesson learned is that freezing in uncertainly is not an option. You have to keep at the problem; you have to take steps that sometimes are not very secure. In fact, sometimes you can barely find a toehold, and it seems that it will never support your weight. The amazing lesson I learned, was when this happens, the best thing to do is go for it! Even though you are sure your toe can’t support you weight -go for it and go for it fast. When you throw your weight into the next move and go fast, without any hesitation, it is amazing what happens! You body creates momentum, and you fly past the insecure part to new and unchartered territory, and usually you land where there are all kinds of new options! It is like a whole new world opens up the minute you have enough faith to just go for it, even if you have all kinds of doubts! Suddenly, you realize you made it! You are on top of the world, a world you yourself conquered.

It was a great day watching my friend experience this magic, and I hope she felt a little empowered, and has a new set of beliefs for herself. I hope she found that getting yourself out of your comfort zone every now and then feels great. You might even be amazed at yourself when you find yourself at the top!

Way to go my friend, you did it! I am proud of you!

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Kolache Making

This past week while my husband, youngest daughter and I were in Texas spending some time with my Dad and trying to adjust to life without my mother I had a wonderful opportunity to learn to make Kolaches with a dear relative. This has been a long-standing bucket list goal for me and I finally had my chance! What a blessing!

One day Fern announced that on Thursday morning her friend Betty was going to give her another lesson on baking the Czech favorite Danish called Kolaches. My eyes lit up like a Christmas tree at the mere mention of Kolaches.

“Oh my gosh, can I come to!” I gushed to her surprise.

“Of course you can.” She offered.

You see, my beloved grandma used to make the most amazing, mouthwatering Kolaches when I was a little girl. She would spend the morning baking in her sparsely furnished farm-house kitchen in the sandhills of Nebraska, but the smells of the sweet dough rising and then later baking with the small dollop’s of apricot, cherry or strawberry filling bubbling in the middle would quickly fill the air. We grandkids would wait, very impatiently, until she would finally declare them ready and not too hot to eat. We could devour dozens of them at a time.

I have always regretted not taking the time while grandma was still alive to learn this art. Somehow in my youth I just assumed that when I was ready to slow down and whip up a batch they would taste just like grandmas. Boy was I ever wrong. I could never get the recipe right. Something always tasted like it was missing. The dough wouldn’t raise enough, my filling would spill out onto the pan and burn, and somehow the dough never tasted sweet enough.

This was my opportunity to right this wrong. I had a real live teacher ready to share the ancient secrets of Czech Kolchak making with me!

I was an eager student and Betty and Fern were patient teachers. I learned how to mix the dough, how to test it with a finger to see if it was ready to form the little balls that would soon become a bed for the sweet filling. I learned how to use two fingers to press into the ball and create the perfect sized bed. I learned what fillings to use and how to measure the perfect portion for each little Kolache. Betty even taught me the secret, basting on melted lard before baking and again after so that the sweet roll would not crack as it cooled.

Spending the morning with these two beautiful women was such a magical experience for me. It was healing for my broken heart and it helped me feel connected to the grandma I loved and missed dearly!

I left that morning with a sense of real accomplishment and a much lighter heart. I had some restraint and only ate a couple of the sweet Danishes but they tasted perfect, just like my grandma used to make.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Impossible is Possible

My Hero Sister

Next week I have something fun scheduled to break up the monotony of winter and the ensuing cabin fever that often moves in mid-February. I am going on a dog sledding adventure with three wonderful friends up in the Rocky Mountains. I have always thought this looked fascinating although I never really figured I’d get a chance to ever mush a sled myself. I felt like this bucket list item was more on the wishful thinking end than the soon to become a reality item, kind of like riding a camel. You see riding a camel is also on my bucket list but I am going to have to work pretty hard to make that one come true, my biggest problem is that I don’t have any idea who owns a camel other than the local zoo and somehow I don’t think they’d be receptive if I called one day and asked if I could have a ride!

No, I think if I am going to ever ride a camel I am going to have to travel to Egypt and that seems a bit far off in my future. I was picturing the same scenario for dog sledding, I was picturing Alaska, the snow and beautiful scenery and the teams of huskies pulling loads of supplies around on the frozen snow. Since I’d love to travel to Alaska I had hoped to get to ride a dog sled on this far off future trip. It never dawned on me that I could find a closer to home option until I was talking to my sister about it. She is brilliant and said to me very matter-of-factly, just look online, I am sure there are places in the Rockies where you can go dogsledding! Duh! Why didn’t I think about that? Lesson learned, don’t assume something is impossible until you really try to make it happen!

A few clicks of my computer keys and viola I had several dog sledding options available to me within a few hours drive. A little more research and I found one that would allow me to drive up in one day and still get home before the bus got home!

Next thing I new, I had several friends asking if they too could come along for the fun! This was turning into something fantastic! A girl’s day out with great friends, having a grand dog sledding adventure! I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

I learned to just dig a little deeper, try a little harder and stop assuming things were impossible just because I had never done them before. Since I started all this craziness I have been amazed at what actually is possible if you just put your mind toward it.

So before I give up on the camel thing, does anyone out there have a camel they’d let me ride????

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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The Graduate

One of my most anticipated Bucket list items is to watch my child graduate from college, I am hoping I get to cross this item off the list early May of 2011 when my oldest daughter graduates with her bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Business.  This event will be much celebrated in our little family as the huge accomplishment that it is, along with milestone that it represents.

My husband and I have long been believers in higher education, a belief that can be proven by our own efforts and many hours in a campus library.  My husband and I started dating many years ago while we were both undergrads at the University of Nebraska.  As a future engineer Dan spent many hours balancing the demands of thermodynamics and calculus while I wrestled with accounting, finance and management.  Our hard work paid off and we graduated with freshly printed Bachelor’s degrees and earnestly started our respective careers.

Later Dan started work on a Masters of Engineering degree but soon decided he wanted a Masters Degree in Business to round out his education.  We did the unusual and highly questioned strategic move of applying to a top graduate school two thousand miles from home as parents to two very small children.  Dan applied to and was accepted to in Ivy League School on the East Coast.  He anxiously started his master’s degree at the number one Operations school in the country.  It took me 14 years but I too eventually got to start work on my long awaited masters degree and two years later celebrated with an MBA.

Dan and I have always believed that education was the key to our future and hoped our own children would agree and follow our example.

Our oldest has worked very hard at preparing herself well for a career in the music industry and has combined her education work with internships designed to help her network contacts.  I am very excited for her and can’t wait to see where her future takes her, I have no doubts that she has the skills needed to be an industry leader in due time.

This past weekend I had the honor of watching one of my much loved “extra” children graduate with her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and as I watched her cross the stage and shake hands with the dean I felt my heart swelling with pride for all her accomplishments.  She is a great young lady but I must admit there were times, when I along with her dad, doubted this celebrated day would come.  But come it did and it was a joyous celebration indeed.

Young Christina has already suffered much heartache in her young life, having lost her mother at the young age of 12 years old.  My daughter and Christina have been friends for almost 9 years and during that time I watched her try to navigate her teenage years with the guidance of the loving and firm hand of her seasoned dad. I know that Christina would have given anything to have her mom there for her teenage years and for her graduation day.  Christina and her Dad faced a daunting task but with the help of a couple of “extra Mom’s” like me they found their way through her teen years.

To have the honor of cheering young Christina on as she was called across the stage to accept her degree was amazing. Watching the incredible look of pride on her dad’s face was absolutely priceless.  I wish you could have seen it.  I hope that having the love and support of her extra family helped give her the courage to follow her dream and I hope she enjoys a bright future.  I am sure her mom was cheering her on from heaven.  I am looking forward to this moment with my daughter in a few more months but in the meantime I felt blessed to be part of Christina’s big day.

Happy Roommates

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Letter for a Friend

Robin and I have been friends since we were in 3rd grade, that is a long time, but the older we get the more we seem to value and appreciate our friendship and the more it means, at least to me.

Robin is in many ways my spiritual anchor.  I thought about this for quite awhile before I started writing and I really think that is the best way to describe what she is for me.  Robin has a rock solid kind of faith and it guides her through everything in her life.  It guides her marriage, her relationship with her siblings, her relationship with her parents and it guides her in motherhood.  It is like a piece of thread woven throughout every aspect of her life.  I think it would be fair to say that every decision she makes is guided by this faith.  I am not saying she is perfect or even that her faith is always perfect.  She has questioned things, she has been challenged but in the end her faith is what drives her life.

As our friendship has grown over the years I have come to rely more and more on her for that kind of guidance.  When I have faced some of my most difficult times parenting it was Robin’s patient listening and worrying with me that eased my fears. It was her ability to share with me how she would try to hang onto her worries until finally becoming overwhelmed by them and then actually visualizing the act of putting her worries away into a box and then handing it off to God that finally gave her peace.  I had never thought about it like that, but after our conversation I was able to visualize that same act of relinquishment and truly gave my worries to God.

Robin and her husband are a great example of how to live your life with a simple kind of grace.  They don’t get caught up in “stuff,” they are caught up in family and faith.  It is refreshing to hang out with them and be a witness to this honest way of life in a world full of material crazed people.  I am blessed beyond belief to have a friend like this, one I am confident I will have for the rest of my life.

So my friend, I ask you  “what’s next on your list?”

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