May Day Flowers

dandelionsI don’t associate May Day with protests.  It’s pathetic that it’s come to that these days.  I remember May Day as the day to make baskets of flowers and surprise Mom with them.  I’d make a construction paper cone with a handle, pick dandelions and blue bells from the yard to put into it, hang it on the door and knock.  I’d be hiding behind a nearby tree and watch Mom open the door and find the flowers and smile.  That’s what I associate May Day with.  Flowers and my dear Mother’s smile.

I miss her so much it hurts.  So much has happened in the four years since her passing from cancer.  I think about that day a lot.  That week, that month, that year…..what I would have done differently, more time I would have spent with her.  It was a bad few years with so many stressful things happening all at once.  Memories I prefer not to re-live.

I hope she knows I’m ok.  I still struggle, but I’m better now.  I wish she were still here with us.  I love you forever Mom.  xoxo

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Another day in February

My son is practicing his driving in preparation to get his license, so every morning he drives to school and I am along for the ride.  It’s only a 15-20 minutes drive, but it’s 20 minutes of the day that I get alone time with my son.  Sometimes we just listen to music and comment on the traffic, other times we talk about what we want to do on the weekend, stuff like that.  This morning, he asked me what my plans were for Valentine’s Day.  He knows I don’t have a boyfriend, but he doesn’t really know exactly who my “friends” are, or their status  He has a girlfriend now so I know he was really just leading up to HIS plans by sounding interested in mine.

I looked over and giggled.  “I don’t have a valentine,” I said.  “You kids are my valentines!”  A smile came over his face.  “Well, I was thinking and I wanted to get your opinion,” he said.  [Kari] has always wanted to watch the sunset at the lake, so I thought if you could drive us there we could have a little picnic and you could pick us up later?  I even researched where the sun would set and what time to know if we could even see it from the lake.  The sun sets at 5:30.”

I smiled and said, “How romantic!  However, it might be better to plan that more towards summer when it stays light longer and it’s not so cold.  What if it rains?  I think you need a plan B, or a new plan A.”

We rattled off a few other ideas; a movie, dinner and a movie (too expensive, he says), bowling, roller skating….?  “Ok, I’ll think about it,” he said as we drove up in front of the high school.  “Have a great day and I’ll see you later,”  I called after him as he walked away from the car.  I got into the drivers seat and headed back home to wake up the next kid and get her off to school.

Thinking about Valentine’s Day….

…Just another day in February. 

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Standing On the Horizon

IMG_00000381 (1)2015 is coming to a close.  As I stand on the horizon of a new year, it means a lot of things to me.  Thoughts and emotions run through my veins like floodwaters rushing through a pipeline from the mountains to the ocean.  I look back on where I’ve been and then I look ahead to the possibilities of where I might go, not knowing for sure where the road will lead.  It’s a scary and exciting place to be.

I’ve been through so much in my life it’s hard to wrap my mind around it sometimes.  I read articles written by brave women who are willing to put their experiences out there for anyone to read and I relate to much of what they say.  I, too have survived hardship, living in another country, interracial marriage, abuse, attacks, financial woes, struggles, childbirth, abortion, miscarriage, divorce, survival, college, death of loved ones, climbing a career ladder, raising teenagers (ongoing for a while now…), among other life events. To me, it seems par for the course called life.

Everyone has a story, right?  Everyone has struggled.

I thought about writing a book.  I’ve actually started it.  Then I wonder, what makes my story so unique?  Anyone could write a book and it would be interesting, different, people could relate to it…look at how many billions of books are out there!  I think, for me, it would be personal satisfaction.  An accomplishment of sorts.  A need to express and release the floodgates to some extent.  Maybe someone will read it.  Maybe someone will relate to it and say that I, too am brave to tell my story. Maybe, just maybe it will inspire someone to leave their abusive husband, or to take a journey abroad, or to go back to college like I did.

I’ll keep working on it.  I have so much to look forward to in 2016.  I’m in a good place, probably the best in many, many, many years.  It’s taken the three years since my divorce to feel comfortable being alone.  I’m not voraciously searching for the love of my life anymore, but rather focusing on myself and my kids for once.  Their well-being has always been my focus, but my attention is different.  If a man does appear in my life, he must be worthy of my love and it has to be a good fit for all of us, not just him and not just me.  I’ve made many mistakes in the past that I refuse to repeat.

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Looking back, I would do so much differently.  A friend recently told me that “the time to do things differently is NOW“.  That is the lesson I’ve learned.

Here’s to 2016 and a brighter future!

Happy New Year!

 

 

Gratitude

swedish-horsesMemories of Thanksgivings passed are vivid this time of year and evoke a sense of melancholy I try not to wallow in.  This is the 3rd Thanksgiving without Mom, the 4th without Grandma and the 6th without Grandpa.  I remember when we used to gather on Big Lake at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  The wood stove warmed the room, smells of delicious foods wafted from the kitchen, Swedish decorations adorned the shelves and table, and the view of the pristine lake was so comforting.  Grandma always stressed out over such occasions.  For some reason the cooking overwhelmed her even though we all pitched in.  Maybe she just wanted everything to be perfect.  It was perfect.  We were together after all.

MorMor-Tina

White lights and candles surrounded us, we ate, always laughed, and caught up on each others’ lives as we sipped on eggnog and coffee with Bailey’s.  Grandma always had, on prominent display, the arts and craft project I made when I was five which was a beer bottle wrapped in blue and orange yarn with twigs sticking out of it and little Swedish stars dangling down.  She kept it all these years and it was her favorite decoration to have out during the holidays.

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I miss Grandma’s homemade apple pie.  I miss the sounds of their voices and laughter.  I miss Thanksgiving with them.

This year will be spent with Dad and Linda and her family…probably some neighbors.  I see them a few times a year and I know them all, but it’s a different feel.  No doubt there will be a lot of great food, laughter, and catching up on each others’ lives while we sip on….well, red wine for me!  Undoubtedly, there will be eggnog and coffee with Bailey’s consumed with the pumpkin pies from Costco.  It’s not the same, but it’s family and I’m grateful for that.

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I give thanks for the memories.

I give thanks for my health.

I give thanks for my family.

Gratitude

Peace, love and light this holiday season.

NaNoWriMo is a real challenge!

Last year, when I first learned of National Novel Writing Month, I was too late to participate and frankly, too busy.  I swore that next year, I’d do it!  How fun?!  Write 1,666 words per day and have a 50,000 word novel completed in one month!  Sounds easy, right?

Wrong.

I was wrong.  It’s not easy.  Unless maybe you don’t have 3 kids, no full-time job that is over an hour away in commute time, you have a significant other to run errands for you, or to cook, or clean, and no dog to walk so you can think of what to write about.  Even if one didn’t have my busy lifestyle and just lived alone in the woods with no time table or agenda other than to write 1,666 words per day, I still don’t think it would be easy, but it would be doable.

However.  That’s the point.  The point is to challenge yourself to do more than you otherwise would have.  I know I’m not going to win the contest or be ready to publish in December, but truth be told, I have made more progress on my little project than I would have had I not joined NaNoWriMo.  It’s made me think about how to structure my story, how to develop the characters, and when to interject dialog as opposed to narrative, etc.

It may take me 5 years of NaNoWriMo’s to finish it, but at least it’s challenging me to think about it!

If a story is in you, it has got to come out.

-William Faulkner

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A seemingly daunting task, but worthy of the effort

Developing a purpose statement seems a daunting task.  How does one even begin to encapsulate the totality of one’s purpose on Earth in just a few short, succinct sentences?  I was attending a class recently on Emotional Intelligence and we spent some time working on it.  Some group interactions to tell each other what our unique qualities are and a few TED talks later, we set to the task at hand.

List two qualities: I’m genuine and seek to inspire others

List two actions:  I encourage and I listen

Why this makes a difference:  I am able to provide resources to others who are searching for answers and it makes people open up to a new realm of possibilities.

Now write your purpose statement:  uuuuhhhhh…….ok??

It seemed very simple when looking at the 1-page worksheet we were given to fill out and it was fairly easy to discuss our unique qualities in our small groups, but to actually come up with the purpose of our lives wasn’t quite as easy.  It does take some soul searching.

Looking at the meaning of “purpose” helps.  “The reason for which something is done or for which something exists; to have as one’s intention or objective.”   So, ask what is my objective?  What is my purpose for existing, my intention?  Well, speaking for myself, I intend to find inspiration in everything and everyone.  I intend to inspire others in some way if I can.  My reason to live is to strive to continuously reach my full potential and to help others do the same if I can.

Ok, I’ll put all of those ideas together into a purpose statement:

My purpose is to live an inspired life, have faith in positive outcomes, and inspire others to strive to reach their full potential.

Now you try…

The-Meaning-Of-Life-Is-To-Find-Your-Gift-The-Purpose-Of-Life-Is-To-Give-It-Away

Here’s an interesting TEDtalk on what is the real you:

https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/julian_baggini_is_there_a_real_you.html

Monday musings…

Elliot BayI sit in the early afternoon sun, at a table by the waterfront overlooking Eliot Bay. There’s hardly a cloud in the sky on this amazingly warm October day. A train is slowly, but loudly rolling over the tracks behind me; seagulls squawk all around. Familiar sounds in my daily routine.

I rarely eat out, especially alone. I don’t enjoy eating in public by myself. I feel very self-conscious and depressed so usually I will bring my lunch or order something to go and eat in my cubicle at work. It’s an isolating time to entertain myself with recent Facebook posts or emails. Sometimes I just work and eat without really taking a break. I’m an introvert trying to come out of my shell from time to time.

I order comfort food and coffee with a shot of Baily’s to calm my anxiety at sitting by myself in a restaurant. I’m too old to feel so insecure. I get out my pen and notepad and jot down notes. Goals. Things I want to do. I start this blog post to distract me from my loneliness.

I recall a quote; one of my favorite quotes of all time. I was reminded of it yesterday when I watched Akeelah and the Bee with my 10 year old daughter. It was also a prominent lesson in the film Invictus but in both movies was attributed to an inaugural speech given by Nelson Mandela. However, it actually was not part of his speech but rather a quote by Marianne Williamson.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

The warmth of the sun feels good on my back. I look out on the water and reflect on these powerful words. I see it as a message of striving to reach our full potential in life. Let nothing (or no one including yourself) hold you back or keep you from realizing your power.

I’m comforted by the delicious food, the warm (slightly spiked) coffee, and the sunshine and head back to the office. I’m ready to forge on…

Tragedy hits near and far…

NSCC ReaderboardMy heart bleeds for the families and friends affected by the terrible, unthinkable tragedy of September 24th, 2015 when a bus load of international students were on their way to what was supposed to be a fun city tour in Seattle.  Ironically, a Duck Boat heading the opposite direction on the Aurora Avenue bridge, had a severe mechanical malfunction and careened directly into the bus, killing 5 students and injuring many other students and staff of the college.  I say ironically, because the Duck Boat is often one of the planned “fun” activities for the students.

When I first heard the news, I thought that the students were on the Duck Boat but come to find out, they were on the tour bus and then it dawned on me that, yes!  Orientation and a city tour!  That’s what they were doing; heading to Safeco Field and Pike Place Market. The students and staff had just completed several days of placement testing, academic advising, arranging class schedules, orientation activities including learning all about the immigration rules, etc.  This was to be a break from that; some fun to celebrate their arrival in the states, in Seattle, and at the college.  It was to be a time of getting to know each other, the city, and explore.  It’s amazing how fast things can change in an instant.

In my previous job, I worked as an International Student Advisor at North Seattle Community College (Before it became North Seattle College).  I not only assisted students coming to America to study by issuing the immigration forms necessary to obtain an F-1 Visa, but I also greeted them upon arrival, organized new student orientation, arranged many fun activities (including city tours), lead the International Association (a student leadership club), and was their resource should they need anything in this strange new home.  I’ve had Muslim students ask if they could use my office to pray, students from 50 countries cook amazing food for our international pot-lucks, a student from Kyrgyzstan even arranged an international film festival on campus and invited Washington State Congressman Jim McDermott to join us, and he did!  These students are so creative, smart and caring, as are the staff…Here we are about 8 years ago on a staff retreat!  Amazing bunch!

nscc staff

International students and their families invest a lot of time and money to get here.  A LOT of money!! They carefully choose the school they will attend and we always felt lucky to be a school of choice for so many awesome young men and women.

Today I visited the college to offer hugs, flowers and support to my colleagues that I used to work along side.  They are still there, dedicated as ever to all of the international students.  They are like extended family and for many of the students who don’t have family or friends in Seattle, the staff become their family.  It’s a special bond that I’m so proud and honored to have experienced.  It is still very close to my heart and this tragedy made that even more clear to me.

I was told of a man who, at the time of the accident, was kayaking in the water way below the Aurora bridge and noticed a piece of paper floating down, spiraling in the breeze, slowly descending like a butterfly back and forth until it finally reached the water.  He didn’t know what had occurred above, but decided to paddle over and pick up the piece of paper to remove the litter.  He went to a nearby houseboat where a friend lived and discovered on the news that the horrible accident had just happened.  When he looked at the piece of paper, he realized it was a permission slip belonging to one of the international students on the bus to go on the Seattle tour.  He called the college to ask if they wanted it back.  They took his name and number in the meantime since they had so much going on and so many phone calls coming in.

Come to find out, he was also a musician and was so moved by the whole tragic story that he wrote a song about the international students and was invited to perform it at the vigil held on the campus to honor the deceased and the injured.  Such a profound affect this has had on so many.  Countless people who never knew the students are saddened by the accident.

My current job is at the Port of Seattle which owns and operates Seatac International Airport.  Today I found out that some of our own Port employees have been helping out with ensuring a smooth travel experience for the many family members flying into Seattle from the countries of the deceased; Indonesia, Austria, Japan, China, and South Korea. They are assisting them with their baggage, transportation, and translation which can be a hassle when you are emotionally upset and grieving, and may or may not speak English. They had to travel half way across the globe to retrieve the remains of their loved ones; their children; the light of their lives whom they sacrificed so much for to give them a good education and an enriching cultural experience.  The utter grief they are feeling is simply unimaginable.

I write the words, but words cannot express my heartfelt sadness.  May the five students from around the world who were tragically taken from this earth rest in eternal peace and may the families and friends find the strength to carry on and remember the special moments shared together.

The NSC Foundation has set up a fund to help support the families affected by this terrible tragedy.  Please share widely.  Thank you.

https://www.razoo.com/story/Bus-Accident-Support

Flowers at Pike Place Market, Seattle
Flowers at Pike Place Market, Seattle