Yes, It’s Gratitude Monday. It’s not too late, even though the day is almost turning to dusk. Even though I jotted five things down yesterday before I went to bed. Even though, I might be feeling a teensy bit hyper because a wedding is coming to my house in five days.
Okay, first things first: When you are through reading and commenting, come back here to this cute little frog and click on over to Laurel and Alphabet Salad for some more gratitude lists. That’s what I plan to do, immediately after I finish writing.
First on my List: Did I mention there’s a wedding at my house on Saturday? Yes, Wrestler #1 is marrying a beautiful Doula with two wonderful little boys.
Bonus Grandchildren: Doula’s boys bring my number of bonuses to three and my total number of grandchildren to fourteen. Fourteen!
Renee: She makes me look beautiful; she makes me laugh; and she got married last weekend with the almost the same outdoorsy theme as Wrestler #1 and Doula. She’s sharing so many decorations: shellac wood, whiskey barrels, burlap table runners, and much, much more.
Thank yous: I know it seems simple, but this week Loved-One’s name appeared in the church bulletin thanking him for all his lugging and loading. Such a simple thing to do, and something that brings so much joy. Can I say thank you for the thank you? I can and I do.
Hotter Shoes: Leave it to the English, where walking is the a common form of transportation, to come up with comfortable and stylish shoes. Less expensive than most good shoes, my feet feel barefoot, yet protected. Loved-One fears I will develop a shoe fetish.
Karina Dresses: Made for my (or your) figure type, they are care-free and washable. And flattering, too? Yes! Yes! Yes! I got one for Beanie, just because I got so excited.
Landscaping Bricks: This is the summer of the brick-layer/builder. I’ve built two retaining walls, an outdoor BBQ/Fire-pit, and edged the water garden. At 18 pounds each, I also got some muscles to show for my work without going to the health club.
Elders: Loved-One and I worked hard at the picnic, but not as hard as most of the senior citizens from the parish. Wait a minute. I do believe that I AM one of those seniors.
The English Language: It’s so rich with nuance and meaning. Just try to explain to a English-as-a-second-language speaker the difference between “wise guy” and “wise man.” See what I mean?
That’s it for this week. Don’t forget to check out the other lovely Gratitude Lists:
All summer I walk to meet Duckie coming home from work. Fitbit attached, I log 3 miles and 12 flights of stairs on this walk. And lovely scenery. But the best part is: Now I can walk all the way up these steep hills without stopping for a breather.
What’s in your lens this week? I’d love to take a peek. Please click to join.
Today is the first full day that signals Fall. It’s dreary, it’s wet. Yellow leaves from the cherry trees are the first to wobble to the ground, leading the way for the birch and the maple. The hickory will follow holding on to yellow until it turns a dirty brown. Only the oak will hold its shriveled leaves until new growth pushes them away in the Spring. “Time to start again,” Mother Earth insists.
My mind is flitting with all the things I must do today: volunteer, ASQ meeting, power plant opposition, fit in some prayer and meditation, and then there’s the letter to the editor or post or something calling me, that I must write. It’s wobbly in my head like the cherry leaves outside: the power of words. It’s whisper is so persistent, I wake up at 2 AM. There’s no time to fit it in today.
I journal, starting with the date: 9/11/14.
Thirteen years since the New York attack;
Thirteen years since a plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field;
Thirteen years since terrorists breached the Pentagon.
I had three grandchildren then, I have fourteen now. None remembers a time when terrorism was not a part of our collective consciousness. Their lives always included a war in the Middle East, a prayer on Sunday for our serviceman, a parade for a returning soldier.
What must it be like to live everyday in those war-torn countries? How many children are born who know first-hand the ravages of war, no memory of peace? Hope for an end to violence, pray their mothers will return from the market, and mourn at gravesites.
How many watch and wait as signs around them point to more of the same chilling bleakness. How long must we wait for new growth to push through and promise a better year?
If you liked this post, please click here to Share:
He’s one of the 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year Finalists
Seth Brady teaches anthropology, comparative religions and world cultures at Naperville Central High School in Naperville Community Unit School District 203.
My children are all grown up now. All in their middle years. Okay, I mean middle-age. That’s hard to swallow.
Sometimes I ponder about what wonderful people they each became. How lucky I am to have such lovely people in my life. Did I really have anything to do with it?
When they were little, I became impatient. I wished to do more; to impact the world, if even in a small way. I wanted to do something. Something that would make a difference. My friend, Cheryl’s advice provided a touchstone:
Your job right now is to grow your children into healthy, happy adults who love each other and who care about humanity.
I hope I did a good job.
Today, Wrestler #2 shines. (He’s the first one pictured. Isn’t he handsome?) He’s one of the finalists for Illinois Teacher of the Year. What good company he is in. Look at all those accomplished teachers. I remember him when…. Well, I remember him when God and I were the only two who did know him.
Now I’m gushing.
Am I going to the banquet? I’m invited, and yes, I’m going. I hope I can find something to wear without buttons, because for sure, I’ll be busting them.
Here’s the press release:
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today announced the 12 finalists for the 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year, who will be named during the “Those Who Excel” banquet in October. The state’s annual educator recognition program will acknowledge the contributions and accomplishments of more than 200 educators and school personnel from throughout the state and honor one individual as the Illinois Teacher of the Year.
“This program gives us the opportunity to meet outstanding educators at every level and recognize leadership and achievements in classrooms throughout Illinois,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “Their passion, creativity and commitment to students is an inspiration. We are pleased to publicly recognize the individuals who make a difference in students’ lives every day.”
A selection committee composed of administrators, teachers and representatives from educational service personnel, student support personnel and past Illinois Teacher of the Year winners reviewed 231 nominations this year.
Each nomination is individually reviewed and scored three times. Nominations are scored based on personal background information, the nominating recommendation and letters of support from colleagues, parents and students. In addition, nominees must respond to questions focusing on student success, collaboration, continuous learning and leadership. Scores are compiled and averaged to determine one of three levels of recognition: Excellence, Merit or Recognition.
Teachers earning an “Award of Excellence” are finalists for Illinois Teacher of the Year. Illinois has named a state Teacher of the Year since the mid-1950s. In 1970, the Illinois State Board of Education became involved in the Teacher of the Year selection, and the first banquet was held in 1974. During the 1980s, ISBE began adding other categories so that educators in a variety of positions could be publicly acknowledged for their efforts. The Early Career Educator became the most recent addition in 2006.
”It has been and continues to be quite an amazing journey,” Reilly said. “I can’t express how grateful I am to be Illinois Teacher of the Year and to be recognized for a career I truly love. It is an honor and privilege to represent teachers and students across Illinois.”
The Teacher of the Year will represent Illinois at NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., and in the Council of Chief State School Officers’ National Teacher of the Year Program.
The other finalists are: 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year Finalists
Susan Diggle is a fifth-grade teacher at Germantown Hills Intermediate School in Germantown Hills School District 69.
Lisa Doughan teaches reading to students in kindergarten through second grade at Crestwood Elementary in Community Unit School District 4 in Paris.
Steven Elza is an automotive technology teacher at William Fremd High School in Township High School District 211.
Lauren Hoeft teaches third grade at Prairie Elementary School in Kildeer Countryside Community Consolidated School District 96.
I began thinking about my gratitude list yesterday afternoon. Loved-One, Duckie and I went to our annual church picnic. A pig roast this year. Great food, great company, and fun games. My favorite game? Of course I love hula-hooping, but this year, Kim, our choir director came up with something new. The Lego Fire Walk. If you ever stepped on a Lego in the middle of the night, you can guess where she got her idea. Walking across a bed of Legos is no easy feat, nor is it easy on the feet.
Loved-One, Duckie and I helped with clean-up. Exhausted, we came home ready to collapse. Mike, our neighbor poked his head between the arbor vitae and said, “I really liked what you did with the berm in front. So colorful. It really turned out nice.”
So top on my list is:
Neighbors and Friends: Don’t they just make work equal fun? They provide entertainment, encouragement, opinion, and a sense of belonging.
Next, in no particular order:
Solar twinkle lights: I lined the backyard walkway with them and they stayed on all night long. Oh, they will be so delightful for the backyard wedding coming here in two weeks.
Social media: I love seeing my niece’s one-year old’s birthday, and her 1st grader ride her bike. No way would I be seeing these slices of life without connectivity.
BBC America: I love the programming. And the news coverage. I get a chance to see a different perspective on things.
Ann Voskamp: I’m reading One Thousand Gifts and feeling really inspired.
Blog Commenters: This week it’s Ed who, gave me kernels of wisdom and encouragement with his words. I thought I might get some push-back on my evolution post. So far nothing but support. And Linda, who asked for a copy of my St. Patrick’s Day greeting card. How sweet of you, Linda.
Blue-tooth connectivity: I can print from my phone, I can answer my cell-phone through my land-line phone, and I can keep track of my Fitbit activities all over the place. (Oh and spell-check which tickled me with a “titbit.”)
Claritin: Oh it’s a bad month for my allergies. Non-drowsy, hardly any side effects. Thank you Claritin for easing my tickled nerve endings.
Sunshine: It’s still sunny, pleasant, and warm. Yes, there are signs of what’s to come, but just whispers. Nothing definite.
A good sense of balance: even when the wave roll in. Literally and figuratively.
That’s my list. What’s on your list today?
For more gratitude lists, please follow the link and check out Laurel’s at Alphabet Salad. She the woman who inspired me to start my week out this way.
If you liked this post, please click here to Share:
I start my day with breakfast, a cup of coffee. Next, I set aside time to meditate and journal. I start with a daily Bible reading, move to an inspirational book, and end with journaling. I take my time. Time to clear my thoughts and open my heart.
I have a partner these days. Sasha. Perhaps she’s meditating. Perhaps she believes I’m there for her.
Then there’s my finger. It’s hard to write. It’s hurts to play the flute. I must go to a surgeon and have a cyst removed. And look where my journaling and meditation led me.
I hope you have a photo and some thoughts to share with me. Please grab the link and share.
If you liked this post, please click here to Share:
“Do you believe in evolution?” El, a young mother, a christian, a newly minted lawyer asked me this question over tea.
My jaw went slack. I know I took a couple of slow breaths overcoming my shock.
“Yes,” I said. “Of course.”
We talked a little about why. We moved on, as conversations do. Since then, I contemplated the inadequacy of my answer. I recall a friend from my twenties:
“You can’t believe in Evolution and be a Catholic,” she proclaimed.
“Well, I do, and I am,” I replied. Concise, but far from clear or informative.
Then this happened:
“Mommy, teacher says scientists are liars and people who believe in evolution are going to hell,” said Miss K, my 8-year-old grandchild.
“G-Mom is not going to hell.”
Beanie had words with the principal of the parochial school Miss K attends.
More contemplation on my part.
First and most important in my argument Evolution is not a belief system. It is Scientific Theory.
Scientific Theory is not the same as the theory I have that horses that crap before a race are more likely to win the race.
Second, the idea that Genesis should be taken literally is relatively new. A fad, considering how long the Book has been around. Beside, I find it a tad difficult to take Genesis literally because of the contradictions creation story.
I do believe that God created me. I believe it’s a mystery how he did it; and I believe Genesis helps me believe my place in the world that He created.
I’m still struggle to devise a clear and concise answer to El’s question. I never get asked if I believe in electricity. Yes, I believe in Scientific Theories, they do exist, they are real. And yes, that includes the Theory of Evolution. Yes, I support and believe in the importance of Science. At the same time, I believe in God and my religion encompasses my faith. I can do that because,
Science is based on facts.
Religion is based on Faith.
Bear with me as I review the science that is generally taught by the middle grades:
Scientific Law: This is a statement of fact meant to describe, in concise terms, an action or set of actions. Like E = mc². Everyone believes E = mc² even if she cannot quite wrap her head around light years. Scientific Laws don’t really need any complex external proofs; they are accepted at face value because they have always been observed to be true. Examples:
Law of Gravity,
Newton’s Laws of Motion,
Laws of Thermodynamics,
Law of Conservation of Mass and Energy
Scientific Hypothesis: This is an educated guess based upon observation. Most hypotheses can be supported or refuted by experimentation or continued observation.
Scientifc Theory: One or more hypotheses become Theory, once verified and accepted to be true. A Theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers. Examples:
Theory of Relativity,
Big Bang Theory and yes,
Theory of Evolution.
Now a little philosophy, theology and history:
Interpreting Genesis 1-2 as literal is a 20th century construct gaining steam with the Scopes trial because the defendant in the case State vs. John Thomas Scopes,. Scopes stood accused of violating a new Tennessee statute, called the Butler Act, that made it a crime “to teach any theory that denies the divine creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man had descended from a lower order of animals.”
Scopes’ lawyer, Clarence Darrow, threw down a challenge:
“Tell us the origins of man as shown in the Bible. Is there any human being who can tell us? There are two conflicting accounts in the first two chapters…. If… you must teach that man was made of the dust [or that] “Eve was made of Adam’s rib, then at least the law would be clear.”
The case was dropped.
The literal six-day interpretation of Genesis 1-2 was not the only perspective held by Christians before modern science. St. Augustine (354-430), John Calvin (1509-1564), John Wesley (1703-1791) taught that Genesis 1-2 is an allegory easy for people of that time to understand. Augustine suggested that the 6 days of Genesis 1 describe a single day of creation. St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) argued that God did not create things in their final state, but created them to have potential to develop as he intended. The views of these and other Christian (Catholic and Protestant) leaders are consistent with God creating life by means of evolution. (For a further discussion of Augustine’s perspective on creation, see chapter 6 of Francis Collins’ The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (New York: Free Press, 2006), as well as chapters 8 and 15 of Alister McGrath’s A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009))
More recently, Pope John Paul II stresses that the theory of Intelligent Design diminishes God into
“an engineer who designs systems….
“God in his infinite freedom continuously creates a world which reflects that freedom at all levels of the evolutionary process to greater and greater complexity,.”
“God lets the world be what it will be in its continuous evolution. He does not intervene, but rather allows, participates, loves.”
A God who is still creating. A God who allows. I like that.
Pope John Paul II summarized the Catholic view of the relationship between faith and reason in the encyclical Fides et Ratio, saying:
“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”
Perhaps, I understand a little more about why I love Catholicism. There is room for reason and faith. Not just coexisting in Brownian motion, bumping up against each other in what seems random and dissonant. Not just merely as two legs of a foundation. But,
Reason and faith as wings to support the soar of our human spirits.
I believe in that. I can get behind that. What about you?
Whoa! In August I worked really hard. Yard, Garden, Book and blogs. Lots of newspaper articles. So many opportunities started coming my way, I turned every-which-way but forward on some days.
Swimming, bicycling, Chicago Sky basketball, yard work and gardening all took my eye off my goals.
My Progress on Game Plan 2014:
Get my novel published: I will get editors, a cover designer, and a publisher. I will. Progress: I am writing and editing and writing. I got more edits on my novel completed. I went back and incorporated all the edits I penciled in on my copy of the manuscript. Remember when I said I read it again, as if I picked it up from the library? I found a lot of mistakes, areas for clarification, and discrepancies. I read a quote about writers never being finished. I’m keeping that in mind.I’m tucked in for the hard work of editing, based on my beta-readers and Lisa Romero. I got some great advice from SheWrites co-founder,KamyWicoff, atBlogHer14.I’m writing down my blogging ideas, too. I had four newspaper articles to write this month. Some people in the community are beginning to recognize and comment on the articles. In a good way. It’s very encouraging.
For a long time, I thought being a dee-jay has to be one of the hardest jobs in the world. Upbeat or mellow, she’s putting her voice out there and gets little or no feedback. How do they do it? Sometimes, writing is like that too.
Knit or crochet yarn stash into hats for charity: I have a lot of yarn stash. Progress: Acht! No knitting during May or June or July or August. Maybe it’s to darned hot. Plus the outdoors, cookouts, swimming, biking, are calling me. And did I mention there’s a wedding at my house in September.
Make enough money writing to pay property taxes: Maybe I wasn’t clear enough in 2013. Progress: Four more newspaper articles for a local paper and a commitment for a website re-make. I got the go-ahead on the website. Evernotes is a good vehicle for feedback. I did a little training to help the director get comfy. Next I will use the old-fashioned way: sit down and talk it out.
Expand my platform: a key to successful selling of a published book, I’m told. Progress: Still growing Fastest on Twitter; I just passed 700. In the grand scheme of things: paltry. Still, progress is progress. BlogHer,SheWrites,Instagram, Twitter, FB page; Google+,Pinterest. The biggest number of retweets, likes, and new followers came from this picture of Sasha. Who can explain it? I foresee more tweets of Sasha; and Misha, too.
Experience Night at the Museum with Two More Grandkids. Progress: Complete! Yay! Miss K and Mr. L. Mr. L plans to be a paleontologist when he grows up. Miss K has her heart set on fashion design. The two kids were congenial enough, but they never really talked to each other. Really interesting dynamics.
Travel Route 66 with Loved-One: I plan to get some sponsors and write about out trip.Progress: This goal is post-poned until spring or fall of 2015. Drat! But on the happy side, Wrestler One and his Loved-One will be married in September in my back-yard. What a wonderful goal replacement.
Volunteer: Last year I tried a women’s shelter. Maybe this year, the food pantry. Progress: Success with “1st Way Pregnancy.” Volunteering is going so-so. (This shelter mission is “To provide loving assistance, emotional and financial support for women and girls who find themselves in a crisis.” The values of “1st Way Pregnancy” match mine, that is: empower women to make life-affirming choices by offering financial and emotional support. Rather than shaming and coercing with rules and regulations.)
I’m learning a lot about myself. I really like to be in charge; or at least self-directed. It’s humbling to relinquish control, especially when I believe I have improvements to offer.
Read two book a month: This goal doubles my 2013 rate. Progress:First, the book I read in July. You know, the one who’s title I forget. Never ChangeElizabeth Berg‘s novel Never Change: a heartwarming novel about a home care nurse who gains a surprise patient, her high school crush. She’s forever felt like an outsider. An observer, rather than someone fully engaged with society. I love the character development in Never Change. Berg was a nurse, so she comes to the story with a whole lot of wisdom about people and just the right dollop of medical information. You will feel touched and inspired by this novel. I promise. (Unless you are not touched by George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life.
Matthew Kelly‘s Rediscover Catholicism. I took a good long time reading and meditating on Kelly’s words. I started it in February, and finished it in August. I tweeted a quote on many days throughout my read. My favorite thought from Kelly: getting closer to God is a way to discover and nourish the best version of myself. That is the main point. The rest supports how that actually comes to pass. I recommend this book to anyone interested in a full faith life. I believe you’ll get some wisdom out of it, Catholic or not. Kelly inspired me to read more faith-based books.
Sue Monk Kidd‘s The Invention of Wings is about two women growing up in the 1800s. Handful is a spirited slave girl, and Sarah is her young owner who hates slavery, but feels no power to do anything about it. The characters are based on real people from that era. The parallel of anti-slavery and feminism is nothing new for me. So, although Kidd’s prose is beautiful. However, if I take the struggles of both characters as those that we wage inside ourselves, I really like the book. I highlighted a lot of phrases and dialog that really spoke to me. A word of caution though: The e-book I purchased included highlights and comments from Oprah. Those were just a distraction. I remained a sucker, and clicked over to everyone anyways. Nope. Nothing to see there.
Here’s a couple of my highlights:
“I have one mind for the master to see. I have another mind for what I know is me.” (Handful)”I’d chosen the regret I could live with best, that’s all. I’d chosen the life I belonged to.” (Sarah)
From past months:
Louis Erdrich, The Round House Kate Atkinson by Life After Live: A Novel by
Doreen M. McGettigan. Bristol boys Stomp: The Night That Divided a Town
Adela Crandell: A Land of Milk and Honey
Eric Larson: In the Garden of the Beast
Beth Nonte Russell: Forever Lily. Graham Greene: Our Man in Havana.
Michael Allan Scott: Flight of the Tarantula Hawk – A Lance Underphal Mystery.
Linda Lawrence Hunt: Bold Spirit: Helga Estby’s Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America.
Rachel Thompson: Broken Pieces (interviewed)
Guy Kawasaki: APE
Hilary Grossman: Dangled Caret (interviewed) Candice Millard: Destiny of the Republic.
Get new carpeting for the lower level: Ugh! Progress: Not yet. I got to thinking about the wedding, which is an outdoor party, hipster BBQ with games and a picnic. Maybe I’ll just rip the old carpet up and leave a cement floor. That way we can put the food inside. I won’t be embarrassed about the old carpet and I won’t be worried about the new carpet. The bride loved this idea. Loved-One had some reservations. To dissuade me from my plan, he did touch-up cleaning. It does look better. The jury is still out.
Send St. Patrick’s Day photo cards to friends and family:Progress:Complete. I got great feedback from my Welcome Spring card. Several people thought they just received an invitation to something; they weren’t sure what. They loved the pictures and the surprise out-of-the-blue greeting. I think I’ll do this again next year.
Please hop on over the Alphabet Salad and check out all the other gratitude lists this Monday. I love starting my work-week with Laurel and all the other gracious people who share their lists.
This weekend is Labor Day Weekend. Isn’t it wonderful that we have a whole weekend to say thank you for all who labor? Yes, we need more to protect laborers. As Pope Leo XIII said in 1891 (can you believe it? 1891.):
A workman’s wage be sufficient to enable him comfortably to support himself, his wife and his children… As a general principle it may be laid down that a workman ought to have leisure and rest proportionate to the wear ad tear on his strength…
Wow! 1891. That’s a long time ago. And we’re still working on a living wage.
So here’s my list, in no particular order:
Labor Unions: I never worked in a unionized environment. I did see a bumper sticker that said, “Enjoy your weekends? Thank a Union Member.” Yes, not so long ago, people worked seven days a week and “overtime pay” did not exist. No national holidays, no holiday pay. Thank you! I do enjoy my weekend.
Little Workers: Beanies four youngest came over and helped me lift and carry rocks from the retaining wall that needs repair. I wish I had a picture to show you, but we were too busy working. Wrestler #1’s son texted me asking if I had any chores for him to do. Yes indeed. I do.
A nice size garage: Wrestler #1 stores his paddle boards in our garage. Little Workers trudged down to the lake to cool off after our labor. Me, too. I probably would have just taken a shower, if it weren’t for Little Workers. A jump in the lake is so much more fun.
Frogs and bees: The bees hover over the water lilies this time of the year. If I’m patient, I can see a frog leap out and catch one. I swear the frog’s eyes bug out and his Adam’s apples bulges as he thinks, “What did I just catch?” Then he leaps for another. “Yikes!”
Edging tools: A simple manual tool that really works.
The Chicago Sky: We’re going to the playoff game tonight. I hope they win. Duckie is such a fan. She’s made me one, too.
“Garfunkel and Oats”: Okay, they are sort of crass, but I will forever love them, for their “Sports Go Sports” alone. My sentiment exactly, Ladies.
(click on the picture to see the video)
Labor Day Sales: Retaining wall bricks are on sale.
Retaining wall bricks: These things really make building a wall (the good kind) easy. I already built one, with a flower bed, at the end of my water garden.
A wedding at my house in 20 days: Such a motivator to get all the work done. These projects loitered in the conceptual stage way too long.
A bumper crop of tomatoes. Loved-One and I juiced about 14 quarts last night. This morning we start canning.
There’s a whole lot more, but it’s already almost 8:30. I gotta get back to work, so I can rest from my labors this afternoon.
“Go away.” I keep my eyes on my monitor; my fingers on the keys.
“Look out your window. Quietly.”
I harumph up from my work. Persistence rewarded.
Ahhh. The tension melts. It’s these moments that count. Never mind the family is feasting on my asters and astilbe. Mother sniffs the cone flowers before meandering on.
Yes, I did see twins fawns earlier this summer. Mother nursing them on the side of the road, several miles from my back yard. It must be a good year for twins. Or maybe Mother Nature is making up for the harshness of last winter.