Tag Archive: love


Dear Food,

We’ve been together a long time and let’s be honest, it’s been a rocky relationship. I feel like there are some things I really need to get off my chest. Part of me wishes I could just end this and move on, but let’s face it, I can’t live without you. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve just had a really hard time figuring out how to be in this relationship without screwing things up. You’ve always been there for me, willing to provide everything I need. But too often I’ve taken you for granted and didn’t see you for what you are – helpful, kind and caring. You’ve wanted nothing but the best for me. You’ve wanted to not only give me strength to get through my days, but pure enjoyment. I haven’t appreciated that, though, and used you…only taking advantage of your “naughty” side…and it’s really gotten me in trouble.

I’m sorry for all the times I’ve hidden our relationship because I was embarrassed to be seen with you. I guess I didn’t want people to see how messed up our relationship had become so early on. And then there were the times I was selfish and kept you all to myself not wanting to share you with the others in my life. Let’s not forget the jealousy. When I did see you with others I couldn’t just let them enjoy you and be ok with it. I had to have you, too. Can you blame me, though? You always look so tempting.

You’ve done so much for me, but I know I’ve taken advantage of you. Instead of seeing you as the complete, wonderful thing that you are I’ve used you, only wanting to get a quick fix, and completely ignored how great you can be if given the chance. You’ve always been there when I’ve been sad, lonely or stressed out, but then I’ve basically ignored you when everything is fine. Sure, we’ve been together, but I haven’t payed enough attention to you day in and day out. Instead of giving you the time and attention you deserved, I only thought of you when I absolutely had to instead of looking forward to our time together. All those brief interludes in the kitchen with me spending as little time with you as possible just trying to get what I thought I needed instead of sitting down with you, giving you 100% of my attention and really enjoying you. Or the times we’ve been hanging out on the couch, me knowing you were there, but focussing so much on the TV I didn’t even realize how much I was taking from you without giving you the proper attention.

Treating you this way has not helped me at all. It’s just alienated us and, in a way, made me hate you. I know I shouldn’t feel that way, especially since I brought it all on myself. The more I’ve abused our relationship the less I want to think about you and everything you are to me because I feel like I don’t remember how to have a healthy relationship. I don’t like spending time with you anymore because I’ve forgotten how great we used to be together. There were those good times when I respected you and allowed you to give me just what I needed without treating you like a pile of junk.

Maybe we can get back to that again. I know you forgive me. You always do. I just need to forgive myself and give you the time and energy you deserve and to stop acting as though you’re only good for a cheap high or a quick thrill. I know now that those things don’t last and I always end up feeling guilty afterward. There’s so much more to you. You have amazing qualities that not only are fulfilling, but that last without making me feel bad. Sure, occasionally it’s ok for us to indulge a bit, but that’s not what a healthy relationship is based on.  From now on we’ll spend more quality time together, ok? And I know that the more I learn about you, the better our relationship will be. I’m sure that once I don’t feel guilty because I’ve taken advantage of you I won’t feel the need to hide you or be jealous when I see other people enjoying you. Once I start caring for you the way you care for me we can be happy again. I know we can make this work.

Love,

Me

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Forgiveness in Fred Meyer

I had the most interesting experience today in the most unexpected place. My younger son was invited to a birthday party happening today (and he gave me the invitation yesterday) so I decided to save on gas and just get the gift on the way to the party. We were running a bit behind (I blame facebook) and dropped him off first so he wouldn’t be late then headed to the nearest store that sells toys which happened to be Fred Meyer. After I found the gift I walked around a bit to kill some time and ended up in the garden section. As I was looking at all the interesting plants and flowers, thinking about life and my kids and what I was going to write about next, I suddenly found myself in the indoor plant section.

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a small jade plant, the only one left on the shelf. I instantly felt nostalgic because when I was growing up in my grandparents’ house there was a jade plant sitting on the kitchen table in front of the window. I loved that table because my grandfather made it himself and it was strong and sturdy with lots of scratches and dents from years of use. It had character just like my grandfather. I loved the jade plant, well, just because. I remember my grandmother taking care of it and watering it. I guess I would consider it her plant. The photo to the right is of me standing next to the table. That’s not the jade plant there, but I remember it loving it, too.

If you haven’t read my other posts that go into the relationship I had with my grandmother you may be forming a picture in your mind of a sweet old lady caring for her plant and smiling at me as she lovingly poured water into the pot. Yeah, not so much. Sure, she loved the plant, but there was no tender bond between us. Because of that and all the things she did to me over the years I’ve struggled with feelings of hatred toward her. At some point I stopped actually hating her and those feelings were replaced with indifference. I forgave her on some level and found peace with it. There’s no way I could’ve let go of the hatred if I hadn’t. But today, after years and years of nothing particularly new in my view of her or how my childhood affected me, something very strange happened.

As I stood there looking at the jade plant I suddenly felt we had a connection, a bond between us. My grandmother, not the plant. Don’t get me wrong, she passed away years ago and my personal belief system and understanding of the Bible does not include people going straight to heaven or wherever and looking down or up at us, but that they are waiting, knowing nothing for now as if in a deep sleep. So I’m not saying it was some spiritual connection from beyond the grave. I just mean that I can finally see her as someone I have something in common with. Something that, if she were still alive, we could share and talk about. I am able for possibly the first time in my life to see her as a person completely separate from all the crap that happened between us.

It’s as if a veil was lifted and I can now clearly imagine her growing up, having hopes and dreams. She had friends and boyfriends. Things she liked and disliked. Things that made her laugh so hard she cried. She was a person, not a monster. She just wanted what the rest of us want, what I want…a happy life with a loving family and to feel like she had a purpose in the world. It wasn’t her fault that all that was taken away from her when she too became the victim of abuse. Sure, it would’ve been nice if she had dealt with it and found healing instead of trying to hide it and eventually take it out on me. But that didn’t happen. And that’s ok. I am who I am because of everything I’ve been through.

As I stood there I felt a strong wave of what I can only describe as pure love pass through me. I’m not wanting to sound like a crazy person here. If you’ve ever experienced it you know what I’m talking about. I felt forgiveness on a much deeper level than ever before and could actually imagine myself genuinely smiling at her and hugging her, not because I was being forced to like all those years growing up, but because I want to. I want to tell her I’m sorry, not like all the times I had to because if I didn’t I’d suffer the consequences, but for everything she went through that made her the way she was.

So there I was in the indoor plant section of Fred Meyer having some kind of major breakthrough and thinking, “Wow, I actually love my grandmother,” with people all around me having no idea what was going through my head and heart. I wasn’t planning on buying anything other than the gift for the party, but I just had to have one more thing…

…oh, and a pack of watermelon gum. 😉

Hard to Say I’m Sorry

For as long as I can remember I’ve had a hard time apologizing to people and I know exactly why. I’ve mentioned before that I grew up in an abusive home after my parents divorced and my mom and I moved in with my grandparents. Though she did not have a job, my mom kept herself quite busy out and about which meant I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. I don’t know the details, but it seems my grandfather essentially rescued her from a bad family situation when he married her. Translation…she had a lot of issues. And it seems she took those issues out on me. I was not the perfect child. I’m sure I had my moments that would drive any parent crazy. But I did not deserve the treatment I got. No child should ever feel afraid in their own home because of their own family.

More often than not, those times when my mom was gone and my grandfather was either gone or in the basement working on his inventions turned into episodes of violence and intimidation. It was like she had two completely different personalities, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One minute she’d be out of control, screaming and hitting and pulling my hair, and then the phone would ring and she would answer in the sweetest voice as if everything was just fine. No one outside our home had a clue…and neither did my mom. Every time she came home my grandmother would make sure to get to her first so she could tell her version of the day’s events. That always resulted in me having to apologize to her and tell her I loved her. Even as I’m sitting here typing this my heart is racing as those memories I normally choose not to dwell on are still vivid, like it just happened yesterday.

So I hope you can understand why I have a hard time apologizing. Over time it’s gotten easier, but it’s most difficult with the people I’m closest to, my family. My early experiences definitely created a roadblock or wall which, to others, probably looks a lot like a stubborn streak. It’s just not always easy to separate those times when I was forced to say I was sorry when I really, really wasn’t from the times when I want to say I’m sorry because I really, really am.

Now that I’m a parent and trying with all my might to make sure my kids have a better childhood than I did, I’ve started to try to see our life through their eyes. What is it like to wake up in their beds with me standing in the doorway telling them they need to get up? How do they truly see me as I’m pushing them through their morning routines? I know they’re not afraid which is truly a wonderful thing, but do they mostly see me smiling or frowning? Do they really know how much I love them and appreciate how great they are even if getting them to do their chores is like pulling teeth?

Thinking about all these things has made me realize that I have to consider the possibility that my grandmother never, ever asked herself how she looked in my eyes. She was always so concerned with how everyone else saw her and our family. She made it very clear that I was never to tell anyone what went on in our home. Obviously on some level she knew it wasn’t ok, but I think it’s possible that she really didn’t understand how bad it actually was and how much damage she was doing. Maybe because of her past it all seemed fairly normal, just nobody else‘s business. Or maybe she so identified with the person everyone else thought she was, she just assumed no one would ever see her differently no matter what she did.

I’m in no way saying it was ok, but now I’m seeing how easy it is to behave in certain ways without realizing how we’re coming across to those around us. And let’s face it, our family sees us at our worst. There are days when I’m grumpy and irritable and make very little effort to think before I speak, but somehow when I’m around other people I manage to control myself. Sometimes I can be impatient with my boys because I know they’re smart and capable of so much. Yet I would never speak to someone else’s child in the same tone of voice.

So I ask myself again, what does life look like from their perspective? Do they see a mom who is loving and happy and cheerful most of the time? I actually am very happy with my life now, but I wonder if that’s what they see or if most of their interactions with me have a negative tone. When I talk to them about life and how to navigate through it with goals and a positive attitude do they see how passionate I am about making sure they understand because I want what’s best for them or do they just see it as nagging? Other people say I inspire them (which is extremely humbling considering how I’ve lived most of my life), but do I inspire my kids or do I make them feel like I’m not happy with them the way they are?

You may be reading this thinking I’m beating up on myself, but I’m really not. I’m just trying to ask some hard questions because the last thing I want is to be one person to everyone else and another, completely different person to my family. When I really concentrate and imagine that I’m each of my boys I see a picture of me that I’m not entirely happy with. And that’s great! Not because I haven’t always been perfect, not one of us has, but because I can see clearly where I need to improve and what I need to apologize for. Not once when I was growing up in my grandparents’ house did my grandmother ever apologize to me. And it didn’t happen after I grew up and she mellowed out a bit, either. What a difference a simple “I’m sorry” would’ve made. Not a meaningless one, like all those I said to her over the years, but one from the heart knowing she needed to do better.

I guess part of me has always felt like apologizing is a sign of weakness, but now I know I couldn’t be more wrong. It takes courage to be willing to look at ourselves and come to terms with the fact that we have things to be sorry for, especially with our families. They see us at our worst and love us anyway. That doesn’t mean we should take advantage of the situation and continue on as we have been. It means that they deserve to know that we “get” how much we’ve hurt them even if we didn’t realize it at the time. They deserve to know how much we appreciate them for always being there through the good and the bad. And I can’t think of a better way to show our love and appreciation than by saying I’m sorry…and meaning it, no matter how hard it is.

My Beautiful Mom

Since it’s Mother’s Day, I wanted to share a photo of my mom when she was a little younger than I am now. I lost her to breast cancer that spread throughout her body because it wasn’t diagnosed and treated in time. She passed away on July 7, 1998, just a few weeks before my husband and I were married. She was one of the most generous, creative people I’ve ever known who always chose to see the good in others and had an amazingly beautiful singing voice (which unfortunately was not passed on to me). She even spent time touring with the Metropolitan Opera Company.

I wish my kids had the chance to get to know her and that I could’ve shared the joys and sorrows of being a mom with her. Goodness knows I put her through a lot and I’d love to be able to show her that I see things from a different perspective now. I may not do things exactly the same way she did, but I can say that I understand why she did what she did because of who she was and what she’d been through. We should be good to our moms because they’re imperfect people trying to do the best they can, loving us the best they know how.

Better Late Than Never

Though I grew up as an only child, I actually have three siblings. Two half brothers and one half sister. We all share the same dad. Well, it’s actually a little more complicated than that. The youngest brother was adopted and there was another brother who died shortly after birth. I was the last to arrive and the product of the next to last marriage. There is a pretty big age gap between them and me so they were all adults by the time I was old enough to remember spending time with them, which wasn’t often.

Of the three, I saw the youngest brother the most, about once or twice a year on holidays until I was a teenager. The oldest, my other brother, I may have met once when I was in elementary school, but neither of us actually remembers the encounter. Over 25 years later we finally started to get to know each other on facebook and have visited each other twice since with plans for another visit this summer. Unfortunately, I don’t have the same chance with my other brother because he passed away a few years ago due to health issues brought on by some unfortunate choices over the course of his lifetime. Even though I spent the most time around him I never felt like I knew him at all. Though I’ve heard many stories from those who did know him, I wish I had gotten to know him first hand while he was still alive.

I always dreamed of having a sister when I was growing up. Someone I could play with and tell all my secrets. Someone who had my back no matter what.  My parents divorced when I was very young so I never had that experience. Of course, I did have a sister, but she lived in another state with her husband and kids. We visited them a few times and I even stayed with them for a summer, but it wasn’t exactly the kind of sisterly relationship I was longing for. The funny thing is, though, that as time goes on, the difference in age becomes less and less significant. We’re both adults now and can relate on many levels. It’s been years since we’ve seen each other or even talked, but again facebook has brought me closer to my family.

 This is a photo of us when I was very young, too young to remember the visit.

As I compare that to this recent photo of me I am blown away by how much we look alike.

It turns out our looks aren’t the only thing we have in common. At the top of the list…procrastination. I find myself saying, “better late than never”, a lot. When it comes to my sister, that’s especially true because she is a cancer survivor. I lost my mom to breast cancer weeks before my husband and I got married and missed out on sharing my life as a wife and mom with her. I can count the number of female relatives I’ve actually met on one hand so connecting with my big sis is a big deal. How tragic it would’ve been if I had missed the chance to build a relationship with her.

It’s so easy to take people for granted and sadly that means we let important relationships slip through our fingers as time flies by. I wish I had been there to support my sister as she battled cancer, but at least we still have time to be sisters now and her victory over one of my greatest fears inspires me. Better late than never, indeed.

A Breakthrough – Part 2

Ok, where do I start? Before my husband and I got married or were even a couple we were close friends. As a matter of fact, our friendship meant so much to us it almost kept us from getting together. We were afraid if we took our relationship to the next level and it didn’t work out we’d lose the friendship that meant so much to us. We would spend hours talking about anything and everything and even though we didn’t always see eye to eye we listened to each other’s point of view out of respect. I found him to be intelligent, charming and challenging.

We all have hardships and go through tough times, but my husband has had to deal with more than the average person. For our friendship, that meant a lot of the time I was helping him deal with the emotional aftermath of it all and that was fine with me. It made me feel needed and like I was making a difference. The more he let me in the more we connected and eventually I knew I could no longer be just friends. He felt the same way and we became an official couple in August 1995 while visiting San Francisco with my mom.

Through unforseen circumstances we ended up living alone together, something I would’ve never chosen and don’t recommend. But that’s what happened and through the daily stresses of life and the nagging feeling that we had taken things in the wrong direction our relationship started to break down. The mutual respect eroded away and instead of being the close friend he could go to for support I became the one who took the brunt of his frustrations. What was once a life that felt perfect and almost magical became a mentally painful and unhealthy existence. But I was committed to him and making it work. I couldn’t handle the thought of losing him and the friendship we once shared.

Looking back, I have no doubt that a regular person would’ve left many times over and moved on, but because I grew up in an abusive home I had learned to put up with more than anyone should. I can’t blame him for the state of our relationship, either, because we teach others how to treat us. If I had stood up for myself and made it clear that some things were unacceptable, things would’ve been different. He either would’ve respected me more or ended it, but I didn’t. I became less and less the person who had overcome her childhood and more and more a doormat who was losing her identity all because I was afraid to lose him.

At this point, you may be thinking that he’s a horrible person. I hate to portray him that way, but the truth is that he did do some horrible things. He never hurt me physically, but he caused a lot of emotional pain. That’s what happens when two people with  lot of unresolved issues get together and become each other’s world. Being so young and living together was like putting our relationship in a pressure cooker and neither of us held up under the stress. There were times when I hated him and I’m sure he felt the same about me, but I never stopped loving him deep down. Many times we almost ended it, but decided to stay together despite everything. It was like a crazy roller coaster ride that I didn’t know how to get off and didn’t really want to. I just kept believing that somehow we’d work through it and get back to the way things used to be.

Despite all the red flags, we ended up getting married in July 1998. I hoped that making that commitment would allow things to settle down. We left California and headed for Oregon for a new beginning. But old habits don’t stay behind. We moved in with family by marriage on my husband’s side, but things continued to be the same. There were bright spots. There always were. Just enough to keep my hope for a happy life together alive. Then I found out I was pregnant. For most, that news would’ve brought joy and excitement. For us, not so much. The added stress almost ended our marriage, but again we decided to stay together and try to make it work. We moved out on our own and it was tough. A new baby in a healthy relationship can be difficult, but for us…well, I’m sure you can imagine. Eventually I lost count of all the times we almost split up.

That sweet little baby brought a new sense of purpose to our lives, though, and slowly we began to figure things out. Just when we started to gain some momentum in the right direction I found out I was pregnant again despite our best efforts to keep that from happening. When he was born I fell in love all over again, but the stress of providing for our growing family was driving a wedge between us again. Our relationship was nowhere near a place that could handle more strain and we ended up separating. We had both had enough and as much as it killed me to let go of the hope I had for us I just couldn’t do it anymore.

I can’t even tell you now exactly what it was that made us decide to go to counselling and get back together. I’m sure it had to do with the kids and not wanting them to grow up with divorced parents like both of us had. And despite everything I still loved him. We didn’t stay in counselling as long as we should have and so even though we were making some progress there were many times when it felt like we’d move one step forward  then two steps back. Then I was introduced to a book that gave me the tools I needed to make some changes that finally pushed us out of that rut. That book was The Love Dare. When I started it my husband wasn’t even speaking to me and for what seemed like the thousandth time I was sure our marriage was over. But I took it seriously and by the second week not only was he speaking to me again, but he was buying me flowers for no reason. Things were starting to feel a tiny bit magical again.

I wish I could say that I’ve continued to do everything I learned from that book everyday since I read it, but old habits are hard to break. As much blame as I can lay on him for the problems in our relationship, I have to accept responsibility, too. Our friendship, the foundation of our relationship, was broken down from both sides. Along the way, I stopped listening to him and trying to see things from his point of view. I started feeling like I already knew what he was going to say and would cut him off before he could finish his thought. That made him feel like there was no point in talking to me so the two people who once shared anything and everything suffered a complete breakdown in communication.

With the help of my wonderful, supportive friends I realized that I couldn’t continue to be a doormat and expect our relationship to heal. I had to start respecting myself if I wanted him to respect me. Going back to work played a huge part in that as I felt like I was contributing not only to our family, but to the businesses I worked for. I was able to start lovingly, but firmly communicate to him what was unacceptable and what I needed from him even though sometimes I felt like I was talking to a wall. Then I discovered Turbo Jam and Chalene Johnson. Her outlook on life has pushed my “recovery” to a whole new level and my life has completely transformed.

So what does all this have to do with staying in bed with my husband until 3-something in the afternoon on a day he should’ve been at a job fair giving his resume to potential employers from all around the country? Well, despite my new outlook on life and the vast improvements to our marriage we’ve never found our way back to the friendship we once had. Of course, after all the years of trials and heartache I know it will never be exactly the same as it was, but I believe in some ways it can be even better if we can rebuild it. One of the most frustrating things has been that I’m learning how to be happy and successful and even though I’ve been able to share that knowledge with my friends I haven’t been able to with him, the person I care about the most who needs it the most.

The alarm went off when it was supposed to, but neither of us got up. Then it went off again with the same results. Finally, it was time to get the kids up and off to school so I got up and took care of that. He still wasn’t up despite much nagging and pleading from me. Taking into consideration that he normally only gets 3-5 hours of sleep on  weekdays and that we had stayed up until 4:30am getting everything ready for the job fair, I wasn’t at all surprised that he wasn’t getting up. I climbed back in bed and quickly fell back asleep next to him. The next thing I knew we were both waking up and it was after 1:00. So much for the job fair.  

Out of nowhere he started to ask me some pretty odd questions saying he just needed me to answer even though it didn’t really make sense. I went along and that led to a conversation about why he does what he does…including skipping the job fair even though we spent all night preparing for it.  A real conversation. Both of us taking turns talking and listening. He was opening up and asking for my help and I finally had answers for him. It was amazing…dare I say, magical. The conversation even turned to me when he asked what kinds of things I was dealing with. I realized that I couldn’t remember that last time he had shown that kind of interest in my well-being and it took me off guard. I’ve spent lots of time talking with friends about my issues, but in that moment I didn’t know what to say. Finally, I found a way to open up to him and trust him with my vulnerability. I think he sees me differently now, in a better light because he’s realizing again that we’re in this together and need to lean on each other the way we used to all those years ago.

At one point, he started to say something and I felt like I knew what he was going to say so I cut him off. Instead of shutting down, he pointed it out and asked if he could finish. When he stopped talking I asked if I could respond and he said no. He could see it was killing me and explained that that’s how he feels when I don’t let him talk. It was the most vivid “a-ha moment” I’ve had in a very long time. I felt such remorse for making him feel that way for all these years that saying I was sorry didn’t feel like enough. Over the years, I’ve apologized for many things that I ended up doing again and again so I know the words probably didn’t mean much to him. But the point hit my with such clarity that I can’t imagine doing that to him again. Not that the temptation won’t arise, but the understanding I have now will always make me think twice before I open my mouth and close my ears.

Yes, he missed the job fair, but it worked out for the best. We had a major breakthrough in our relationship which to me is more valuable than all the money in the world. There will be other opportunities and I know he’ll end up where he’s supposed to. The important thing is that we’ll be there together, happier than we would’ve been if things had gone as we planned, and for that I am eternally thankful.

Once again, my son missed the bus. Turns out there’s been a sub who’s been following the schedule a little more closely than the regular driver. I’ve enjoyed the extra time with him while driving him to school, though, so it’s been a good thing after all. My mixed up schedule allowed my to walk with another friend today and catch up. Our conversation reminded me that relationships aren’t guaranteed. When we get married, the plan is to stay together forever, but so often that doesn’t happen. My own marriage has come extremely close to ending on more than one occasion. Relationships that last take work and both people have to be willing to put in the effort.

My husband doesn’t ask for much really. Just a few simple things that make his life a bit easier and less stressful, but sometimes I let those little things slide because I don’t always see them as being as important as he does. I’m thinking, though, that those are the things that make or break a relationship. It’s so easy to get caught up with what we’re doing and working toward that we forget that our goals include and are often for our spouse or partner and family. But if we don’t take the time to do the little things that mean so much to them and to stay connected, even if it means scheduling time to be alone together, all our work could be what causes the relationship to end.

That being said, I’m going to post the photos I took while walking today (which aren’t that many since I was thinking more about the conversation than what we were passing) and do some of the things I know will make my husband happy…not because he deserves it, though he does, but because it’s my job to actively love him no matter what. And while I’m on the subject, let me just say that The Love Dare is an incredible book that can help any marriage be better whether it’s already pretty good or about to end. I know this from personal experience.

Same trees as yesterday, looking up which I’d never done before.

There’s no time like the present to do something special for the people we love. What will you do today to let someone know you love them?

The original purpose of starting this walking group was to get my neighbors interested in health and fitness. So far, no one from the apartment complex has shown up. I’ve had a couple of friends join me on occasion which is great, but for the most part I’m walking solo. I suppose I could’ve just given up. It’s not like I need to walk for exercise. I’ve got plenty of fun and effective fitness programs at home like Turbo Jam, TurboFire, P90X, Brazil Butt Lift, and the one I’m currently doing…ChaLEAN Extreme. But, I keep going because I know eventually someone will join me and I have tons of energy and I love being outside taking photos of the things I find interesting.

Growing up an only child (yes, I did say I have a brother, two actually and a sister…long story for another day), I learned to enjoy time alone, but like they say…no man is an island. This morning I ended up walking next to a college student on her way to class. Even though we didn’t speak, having a companion made the chilly morning feel warmer somehow. Her presence was comforting. I knew we’d eventually part ways since I’d be slowing down to take pictures so I took this one of her as she went on her way. Yep, there’s the tree.

I went on my merry way, heading left at the tree with the confused moss instead of right toward Alton Baker Park like I normally do. I was thinking about how we need friends and family to support us as we go through life. I remembered the people who have come and gone, the ones who were there for me in tough times and the ones who were there, but still made me feel alone.

A little off the subject…couldn’t decide which angle I liked better so I posted them both.

As I thought about the times I felt alone and about all the people around us who have felt the same way, like the woman I met on my last walk, I couldn’t help but remember that we are never really alone. No doubt, there are those who disagree with me. You may even be thinking, “Oh, here we go. She’s going to get all preachy on us.” But, relax. I don’t have some secret agenda where I’m slowly going to start trying to convert the masses through my blog. I’m just sharing my thoughts and experiences and my belief that God exists and cares about us is part of my experience. If God himself hasn’t felt the need to force you to believe He exists or to trust Him, then it’s certainly not my place to, either.

For me, the question of whether God exists has never actually been a question. Just as I believe the sun is there even when it’s obscured by clouds, I believe God is there even when His presence is not obvious.

I know there are plenty of people who believe God exists, but aren’t too happy with the way He’s running things. All I can say to that is that we see our lives from a different perspective and a limited view. I’m reminded of a quote that was taped on the inside of the bathroom stall door in the girls’ dorm where I went to college. “God never leads His children otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning, and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling as co-workers with Him.” Desire of Ages

You may not agree with me and that’s fine. I’m not here to argue the point. I just know that all aspects of my life would be much worse if it wasn’t for what God has done in my life. Those who knew me back in high school can attest to the fact that I’m not the same person I used to be…and that’s a good thing. The bottom line, and I think we can all agree, is that all of our lives will be better when we can stop thinking about ourselves long enough to see the people around us who need love, compassion and companionship and do something about it.

Again, I couldn’t decide which shot I liked better so I’m posting both. I was overjoyed that the birds weren’t bothered by my presence and allowed me to take more than one.

It looked like I wasn’t going to be taking any photos of the bottom of this bridge for a while.

After I chatted with one of the workers about the new bridge for a few minutes and continued on my way, I saw a familiar sight. A man was walking toward me with all his possessions strapped to his back, his head hung low. As I approached him I tried to catch his eye, but he just stared at the ground where his next footstep would fall. I said good morning, but he didn’t respond. Not far behind him was another man, loaded down with various packs and bags, but his head was held high. I looked him in the eye and said good morning. After a split second of shock, he smiled back and said the same. Moments later I heard him ask the worker if they would be able to go under the bridge. His reason for being under there was much better than mine, but the answer was still no.

We all need love and companionship so we need to stop and ask ourselves if the bickering and drama we sometimes allow in our lives is worth it. We need to stop taking the people around us for granted.

Going back off subject for a brief moment…perhaps this is the new OPB station since they’ve announced cutting funding to public broadcasting. Not to get all political or anything.

Ok, back on track. I’ve considered renaming this category “Ramblings with Some Focus…and Photos”. Seems fitting. As I finished up my walk and passed by Autzen Stadium I couldn’t help but notice that the wind was picking up and the trash cans that stood alone were being blown over.

The ones that were in pairs seemed to be faring better.

9 “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Eccl. 4:9-12

Yeah, I just quoted the Bible, but I couldn’t have said it better myself. We need relationships, but sometimes those relationships are hard. I’ve found that when we allow God to be that third strand, those relationships transform into a source of joy, comfort and strength.

Tomorrow there may be snow so I might have to miss a day of walking. If it’s possible, I’ll go. Either way, there will be pictures. If I go, I’ll most likely be alone…or not. Just depends on how you look at it. 😉

Recently, I asked a few teachers from my kids’ schools if they could have their students write letters or make something to send in care packages to soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. It’s heartbreaking how many men and women over there don’t receive anything to remind them how much we appreciate their service. I was so happy to get 27 touching letters from one classroom and these cards from another.

As I continue to get more artwork from the classrooms I’ll post it before sending it over. I think I’ll experiment with our scanner for the next batch. They’re all wonderful and want to do them justice. 🙂