Category Archives: thoughts

jury duty

I’ve never served on jury duty before.  I was called to it about 10 years ago but there were no cases and so my term expired without service.  But this time has been different.  I was dismissed from the current case but not until I went through an entire day yesterday of getting orientation and filling out a questionnaire and 6 hours today of discussion between the lawyers and the 80 others in the jury pool.

While I didn’t like the chit chat going on behind me that made it hard to hear, I did like witnessing and being a part of the process.  I’ve found out I don’t need to call in again until next Sunday so who knows, maybe my term will expire again without serving but I’m a lot more informed regardless of the outcome.

a week thinking about “light”

week 2: 28 moments: light

1) Last Saturday, Valentine’s Day, my hubby and I went to IHOP. It was a gorgeous sunny morning.  Here we were sitting at an iconic American restaurant table with its rack of four kinds of syrup and over-sized menus and Mike says, “The light reminds me of breakfast in the Sudan.”  What?

Mike lived in the Sudan when he was 10 and apparently it was one of the few places he lived where he remembers sunlight at a breakfast table.  I think my sunniest memories are from Cape Cod at my grandparents house.

2) I spent the week doing a little research to help plan activities for a mother-daughter retreat at our church which took place on Friday and Saturday night.  The theme was “Dreams” – and making dreams come true.  I found a website that suggested applying this acronym for LIGHT to a vision board:
L – for legacy
I – for impact
G – for gifts
H-for habit
T – for time
I also found this quote by Joel Barker: Vision without action is a dream.  Action without vision is simply passing the time.  Action with Vision is making a positive difference.

3) We often speak about darkness as “the absence of light.”  I don’t usually say the opposite – “light is the absence of dark.”  I enjoy the contrast of light against darkness or darkness warmed by light.  I made this felted rock which shows the qualities of light and dark I notice the most.




in the company of strangers

the prompt was to tell a tale of 2 meals – one wonderful, one not

I’ll begin with the not-so-wonderful meal.  I actually can’t remember the meal, just what happened next.

I was a Peace Corps volunteer for a very brief time in the South Pacific. We were a small group of 12 and hadn’t been in the country for very long when, naive traveler that I was, I ate something at a market and ended up with food poisoning. This was not my first time away from home or even living with a bunch of relative strangers in close quarters, but it was my first time being sick and requiring care by people who weren’t family members or really even close friends. I spent a whole night curled up on a bed in the humid dark cement block room, vomiting over and over again.  When it was finally over I realized I had gone through a rite of passage – that of feeling and looking incredibly wretched and vulnerable in front of strangers.


The wonderful meal I remember wasn’t a proper meal at all.  It was Communion at a women’s retreat some years ago.  One of the women attending had recently been diagnosed with cancer just days before and was going to begin an aggressive round of treatment for it.  There were some 40 women at this retreat and we spent the weekend passing around a prayer shawl started for her on Friday night and finished on Sunday morning.  We wrapped it around her shoulders and passed bread and wine to each other around the circle.  It is a favorite memory of mine.

my heart is in the honey jar

honey can last forever
if you take care of it right

in the past week
i have spent time
or talked to
many of my most precious friends

time with them is golden
drips with sweetness

can last forever
if you take care of it
just right


The prompt for today is ambition.

I’ve been ambitiously trying to practice humility.  When I Googled “humble” and “ambition” together, I found this article.  I think this is what I’m trying to have:  “humbition.”

Here are some paragraphs from the article:

“Today’s most successful careerists see every relationship they have as a source of new information and expertise. They consciously seek out relationships that can teach them more and are very open-minded about who might fall into that category. Because they’re savvy at tapping the knowledge of an entire network, they’re the ones who move steadily, confidently forward as the world spins through ever-faster cycles of change. On a recent Social Capitalist call, Bill Taylor, author of Practically Radical and co-founder of Fast Company, gave exactly this quality a great name: Humbitious. The term originated in an IBM study that sought to identify the traits of their most high-impact employees. Turns out that ambition alone is mediocre; ambition plus intellectual humility is the winning combination. Here’s what Bill had to say. It’s about continuous learning, but it’s also about leadership:”

“”IBM did a study a few years ago trying to address the simple question of what distinguishes the technologists, engineers, and leaders at IBM who have had a really huge impact on the company from other engineers and technologists, who, while excelling, haven’t had that same kind of impact. They were looking for that type of mindset, work ethic, and approach to life that distinguished those who are really successful and have an impact from those who are less so. The word they tumbled to was humbition. Now what the heck is humbition? Humbition is made up partly of ambition: being really fired up, energized, and evaluating yourself highly in terms of the impact you might be able to have on your team, in your organization, on the world around you. And then, humbition is also having a genuine sense of intellectual humility. For me this is the big mindset. They understood that if you want to have an impact today, your job is no longer to be the smartest person in the room, and your job is not to solve every problem and identify every opportunity. Your job is to ask yourself, What does it mean to be a leader? What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? What does it mean to be an impact player in a world where nobody alone is as smart as everybody together?….””

left unsaid

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hThe first thing that popped into my head when I read this prompt was “excuses.”  I don’t know whether it was something told to me as I was growing up or an opinion I came to on my own but I think voicing excuses is a futile exercise.  It doesn’t help me to name them and it isn’t helpful to the listener to hear them.  Instead I should use the information learned from an experience to try something different. I don’t always succeed in leaving my excuses unsaid – especially in the company of close friends, but I try and wish to keep it a goal.

What should never be left unsaid is “I’m sorry” or “thank you.”

tomorrow’s prompt is “sweet light.”



weekend to weekend
what an amazing amount of life happens between weekends

one Saturday
I am surrounded by mothers and daughters
celebrating all their wonderful body parts with pictures and paint and words

the next Saturday
I am contemplating a memorial of flowers
left at the crash site of a young woman
I watched grow up at church
Sunday to Sunday
weekend to weekend
year after year after year

 for all that is fair and lovely
and all that is unfair and lost
you’ve been on my mind
this weekend

a slice of a weekend project: (it might take time to load up but I hope you enjoy my slide show -powerpoint) –  I am wonderfully made

moving it along

People ask me why I choose to do the many things I do.  I think they worry I take on too much.  Yes I get tired and troubled and confused but so far, I don’t feel overwhelmed.  I just feel it is important to pay attention and this is why I choose to do the things I do. When I need help, I know how to ask for it.

It was not a large rock, but enough to become an obstruction. The rock rolled on the river bed for a while but at a  point where the river narrowed, it lodged itself on the sandy bottom.  The motion of the water was not enough to move it along.  Sticks and leaves and other debris drifted and caught in the rock’s eddy.

Kids in inner tubes laughed and splashed down the river and if their tube didn’t just bounce off the rock, a little kick would bump them back into the gentle flow of the river and on their way.  Canoes and kayaks passed by the rock, paddles easily navigating their vessels at a safe distance in the peacefully flowing river.  Once a fisherman waded to the rock in his hip boots and rolled it with his heel, dislodging it slightly but then it stayed firm and he sauntered on to a wider and clearer bend in the river.

I walk in the shallow water of the river’s edge pulling my row-boat behind me. I see the rock, its position in the curve of the river and the way it sits, in the middle of it all, slimming passage by its awkward position. And so I pick it up, hefting it against my belly, and carry it to my boat.  I bend and place it by the spines of the hull where I have gathered other such rocks on my walk in the water. I walk a little further to where the water deepens and then, climb aboard and let the river gently carry me and my boat downstream.

the art of conversation

The students at my school struggle with oral language.  Some of them struggle because they are learning English as a 2nd or 3rd language.  Some of them come from a home culture where it isn’t customary for children to actively participate in conversation.  Many of them seem to lack experience in sustaining discussion on a topic for more than two or three exchanges.  Because our staff is focusing on student engagement this year, there is a heightened awareness around student talk and keeping meaningful conversation alive in the classroom.

I decided to do my part with my preschool students.  A few weeks ago I asked them what they knew about “conversation.”  One little guy told me “you have to look at each other.”  That is good information! Since that introductory session, we have been paying attention to who we talk to during the day – a teacher or a friend, and what we talked about with each other – work, play, stories about home, memories, favorite books.

This weekend I was made aware of conversation in an adult setting.  A dear friend invited me to go with her to a bed and breakfast on Orcas Island for two nights.  The hosts at this home don’t just present a sideboard of breakfast food or load a plate and put it on the table.  They served courses – a dollop of frozen fruit juice, pineapple slices, then homemade granola and finally pumpkin pancakes and sausage.  While the food was exquisite and the portions just right, the most important factor was timing. By serving the breakfast little bits at time, the people at our table entered into conversation with each other.

Later on in the day my friend and I commented about this to our host. She thanked us and told us of her experience a few weeks ago with two couples who sat through an entire breakfast only talking to the partner they had come to the house with.  She was surprised they could go through an entire meal and not talk across the table.  She noted that almost everyone can find something in common to talk about and noted our table’s discussion about pets that morning.

The last day of our stay it was only 4 of us at the table in the morning.  We chatted about our activities of the previous day and expectations for the current day but as the courses came slowly from the kitchen, we moved on to headier topics: the reflection of cultural changes in the media and taking care of loved ones at the end of their lives. My friend and I spent an hour in the company of people we had only just met and would never see again and yet simple conversation made the time incredibly rich and rewarding.

I know that conversation – especially casual conversation with strangers – is an art.  There are topics everyone seems to begin with, the weather, pets, food.  The art comes in the ability to shift the topic to something more meaningful and yet just as human and yet maintain the comfortable flow of the sharing of thought in word without leaving anyone out.

Back to work today and conversations with 3-5 year olds who never seem to be at a loss for words or topics, I just have to work hard to listen to what they are communicating.

no expiration date on “celebrate”

celebrate link up

So I just learned about the “celebrate” prompt – sponsored by Ruth.   I will try to respond next Saturday when everyone else does — but celebrations don’t have expiration dates. It is Sunday and I’m going to post my celebration.

I want to celebrate the programming on NPR.  It is the time of year for my local NPR’s pledge drive and even though the extra chatter directed towards engaging sponsors can be a bit tedious, I totally support the work these radio hosts are doing.   I end up thinking a lot about programs I especially enjoy.

One of them is “The Writer’s Almanac.”  I don’t usually get to hear it because I’m at work but last Friday I left early to drive to Seattle and heard Garrison Keillor read a poem by Mary Oliver titled The Poetry Teacher.

So the other part of my celebration is that I am now pondering what a “thirsty, happy, poem” might be.  Something will bubble out of me for sure – maybe that will be next Saturday’s celebration.