Coffeegirl63's Blog

The Times, They Are A Changin’ November 20, 2011

There is a saying: The more things change, the more they stay the same. I can see the truth in that. But I’d like to talk about the drastic changes one person can see in his or her lifetime.

Tomorrow I will attend the memorial service of my Great-Aunt Theresa, my maternal grandmother’s oldest sister. Theresa was born in 1907… she would have been 104 next month. One hundred four years old. That boggles my mind! The things that she has seen in her lifetime must have boggled her mind at times… a mind, by the way, that was sharp until shortly before she passed. I did not know my Great-Aunt well, but the times we spent together were always good. I was always in awe of her… not in a frightened way, but in a fascinated way.

The year Aunt Theresa was born, UPS was founded in Seattle, WA, it cost 2 cents to mail a letter, and Hershey’s Kisses were invented. She was born before WWI, and was probably old enough to have memories of the news of it.

I was talking to a 20-something girl the other day, and she was sounding all kinds of impressive that she could remember when we didn’t have texting. I told her I could remember when cell phones were the size of bricks, when we didn’t have cell phones, and even when we didn’t have cordless phones–so to take a phone call, we actually had to stand right next to the phone. As young mothers, my friends and I were grateful when we could get really long cords so we could talk on the phone and still check on our kids and do the dishes and other chores. That girl I was telling all this to was amazed! lol. But Aunt Theresa saw the progression from most homes not having a phone to most people keeping a phone in their pocket.

She saw the progression from computers not even being a glimmer in any scientist’s eye to computers in the home to computers in most homes to many people have a computer on that phone in their pocket. When she was a child, it took several days for a letter to cross the country. Now, when someone writes a letter, it arrives in a couple days. Most of us, however, do our written communication by email, which can be instant when both parties are at their computer. My daughter talks to her friends on Skype.

In the early 1900’s women stayed home to take care of their husbands and children. Couples didn’t question whether they would choose to have a child. No mother would choose to feed her baby from a bottle. There was no instant way to “throw something together” for dinner. Meals were made purposefully, and meal gatherings were an expression of love. Bread was made by hand. Many homes had a garden–families ate fresh food in the summer, and they put up food for the winter months.

I don’t know if my great grandparents had a radio in their home when Great-Aunt Theresa was a girl, but I’m listening to streaming radio on my computer as I write this. When I go for a run, I’ll listen to music on my iPod.

A couple weeks ago, I was explaining to my daughter that it’s only been recently that we would just drive up to the curb to pick someone up or drop someone off at the airport. When I was a girl, and even through my teen years, airport drop-off and pick-ups were a family affair… a real event. The entire family would go. We would park in parking lot, we would all walk into the airport together, and then we would all wait at the gate… whether it was to see our loved one to the plane and wait until the plane would pull away, or it was to wait with joyful anticipation for the plane to land and our loved one to walk through that doorway. And no one would wear jeans on a plane; it was a dress-up affair. Also, plane tickets cost more when I was in high school than they do now. She thought it was pretty strange. However, we can hop on a plane whenever we choose. Just 4 years before Aunt Theresa was born, Orville and Wilbur Wright made their historic flight.

In many ways, the world was a much safer place. When I was a kid, we’d go outside to play and not come in till it was dark and mothers were flashing to porch lights to call us in. I’m sure it was the same when Aunt Theresa was a girl. Kids always walked wherever they needed to go, and no one worried about whether they would make it safely to school, the neighbors’ house, the store, or wherever they were heading.

When Great-Aunt Theresa was a girl, there were some very scary diseases that killed many. No one under the age of 60 has seen a case of smallpox, most people under the age of 40 don’t have the smallpox vaccination scar on their upper arm, and a case has not been seen on the planet since at least 1980. Helen Keller was left blind and deaf as a result of scarlet fever. Started in the 1940’s, the Centers for Disease Control have worked to cure and prevent many diseases.

As I sit and write this on my computer, I can easily go back and correct mistakes. I will (hopefully) not post this until I have caught and corrected any mistakes… and everything I write is saved on “the cloud” forever, as far as we know. If Great-Aunt Theresa kept a journal, is was with a pencil or pen in a bound book.

What about you? What have you seen in your lifetime that fascinates you? What was common in your childhood that is unknown or amazing to children today? Is there someone in your life who has lived a long, blessed life? I encourage you to spend time with that person, record some of their stories, enjoy the richness that comes from a life well lived.

Thank you for joining me today. I appreciate the gift of your time.

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Dreaming Dreams August 3, 2011

Filed under: Introspection,Life Questions — coffeegirl63 @ 7:15 pm

I’ve been thinking… lucky, you, huh? 😉

I’ve been thinking about dreams. Have you ever had a dream that seemed a direct reflection of your previous 24 hours? a dream that, in retrospect, seemed prescient? a dream that seemed a result of too much pizza and beer?

Last year, my friend Brenda was diagnosed with lung cancer. Her prognosis was not good. Delicate as she is, she has been the core that holds her family–husband and two adult sons–together; her middle son had passed away from cancer five years ago. Brenda has been, understandably, distressed by the diagnosis. The day after Brenda was informed by the doctors of her condition, she told me about a dream she’d had the night before. She had dreamed that her youngest son and I had announced our engagement. Her son and I were friends, but we had not dated in over two years. She begged me to make her dream come true, to make her son marry me. I understand that Brenda was trying to tie up all her loose ends; her son was not making good choices in his life, and she wanted to die in peace knowing that he would be taken care of.

Is it safe to say that we’ve all had the standard dreams of falling, of trying to flee danger but being unable to scream or to get away, of being able to fly? There are online sites that give general interpretations, at no charge, of your dreams. There are paid options, as well. I, myself, have two very good friends who are adept at interpreting dreams, and I draw on their experience when a dream baffles me. Freud, who wrote a book on dream interpretation, may or may not have actually said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” but I take this to mean that sometimes a dream does not actually merit or require interpretation.

Sixteen years ago, I dreamed that my youngest, Julia (2 years old at the time), had died. I had these dreams several days in a row. In each dream, I found Julia face down in water… in a pool, in the bathtub, in a lake, etc. Many mornings, I woke up crying, and I was very concerned about her safety. I talked to my friend Toni (a beautiful writer–see her blog at http://themothersheart.wordpress.com/) who helped me see that Julia was the age of a friend’s daughter, who had drowned two years earlier. I don’t know why I had those dreams, and I do not in any way understand the life-long burden that must come with losing a child, but understanding the connection, I could pray for my friend, give my fears to God, and move forward in mothering peace.

In March of this year, I had a dream that elicited strong feelings in me: I was in a situation where someone had to shoot an arrow specifically into his assigned place, and I had to stand in just my assigned place. I was sort of a combination of William Tell and the sight on a rifle. However, it was difficult for me to hold still, as I was in labor. The feelings in my dream: My purpose as a sight was to guide the one shooting the arrow. My purpose in labor was to bring safe delivery of the new baby. If I’d had this dream even a year ago, I would have experienced, in my dream and in my awakened state, stress and fear. The responsibility of having to make sure my charge succeeded in hitting the target, combined with the impending birth, would have been too much. What if I fail? What if I can’t make everything happen the way it’s supposed to? Having to juggle two responsibilities at once, the fate of two lives at once, would have all but debilitated me… which, in itself, would have increased the pressure. However, as I’ve been explaining in my writings lately, a lot of things have changed in the last year. I have been working on setting healthy boundaries. March seemed to mark a rather definite turn in my life. In my dream, I felt that we each had our responsibilities–that we were there to help each other, but we were not responsible for each other’s tasks. I knew that I could be that guide I was called to be, but I also had a distinct responsibility to make sure that my new baby was born in a safe and healthy environment. This time, I turned to my friend Julie (http://glutenfreeveganfam.blogspot.com/). We “talk” most days on IM, so I described my dream to her and asked her what she thought. Her thoughts were: guide–I was realizing a sense of responsibility, possibly partly for Julia in her last year living “in the nest” and partly understanding separation of responsibilities; labor–I was embarking on new beginnings in my life. In retrospect, I know that I’m becoming much stronger in setting healthy boundaries (letting good in, keeping bad out, defining relationships). I have had more than one new beginning. For example, I passed my Certified Payroll Professional exam which led to a major change in my career, and I have begun new interests in my personal life–performing in a short film and a couple commercials, dating a special man, the positive turn in my writings, and next month I will take up my flute again for the first time in 30 years. Professionally, my life will only grow and improve from this point. Personally, I am continuing to try new things. I do not purport that I will become any great talent as an actor, but I will continue as long as it is fun… and as long as I am asked. I will continue writing for the rest of my life, doing my best to write honestly and positively. My flute playing will be another creative outlet that I hope to enjoy for some time. As for the man, maybe it’s too soon to know?

My ex-husband almost never remembered his dreams. One time, he was working hard on a computer class–back in the mid-80’s when computers were just barely beyond the card-reader stage. For weeks, he’d been having trouble with one particular program. One night, he sat bolt upright in bed, and said, “that’s it! it’s in the maze!!” The next morning, I asked him what he’d been dreaming about. He didn’t remember dreaming. I told him what he’d said, and he said, “That’s it!!!” He left immediately for the computer lab, and he was able to solve his problem that day.

Anyway, as I said, I’ve been thinking. Have you had dreams you have wondered about? How much stock do you put in them? Are you working through events you haven’t been able to solve or understand in your daily life? Are you getting a glimpse of what is yet to come? Are they just a dream–”just a cigar”? Do you try to interpret your dreams? Do you mystify or spiritualize them? Do you even remember them when you awake?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on dreams and their meanings.

 

Working Through, Not Stuck in the Mire August 1, 2011

Filed under: Healthy Living,Life Questions,Trusting God — coffeegirl63 @ 3:55 pm
Just a peek into my thoughts today:
You know my penchant for optimism. For example, a couple weeks ago, I cut my leg… cut it really bad–it required 10 stitches to close! People laugh at me when I say it was an adventure and that it’ll make an epic scar. Some laugh and some frown when I (teasingly?) say that I’ll get a tattoo (“to cover it?” “No! To highlight it–I earned it!! But something feminine: vines & flowers, maybe?”) They get nervous and talk about how it could have been so much worse. My response is that it really could have been so much worse… but it wasn’t! It was what it was, so why freak out. Modern medicine means I was able to have a tetanus shot and stitches in a clean, safe environment, and that I won’t lose my leg.
My current room for practicing a positive attitude and a bright outlook? I’m going through some relationship issues that, not too long ago, would have completely derailed me. As it is, I’m choosing to work through them in as healthy a way as possible. I’ve realized that it’s ok to cry hard when my heart hurts, just as it’s ok to laugh heartily when something thrills me. When something wears me out emotionally, just as when something wears me out physically, I take care of my health and take a nap when I need one! Also, I surround myself with people who love and care about me. People who will jerk the slack out of me if I spend too much time moping (but allow me just a little moping time 😉  ). People who won’t blame circumstances or people for life that just happens (that activity just encourages bitterness and anger). People who will encourage me as I seek to grow from my current situation.
We all go through painful situations. My situations have not been anything near to what others have gone through… and I’ve gone through some things that others couldn’t imagine how to survive. I look at what some people have experienced at the hands of fellow human beings, and I wonder at their ability to function. I wonder how they can not just be consumed by the pain. Their choice to live and laugh and love is an inspiration to me. It’s a dangerous exercise to compare ourselves to others–we’ll live in a yo-yo world of condemnation and pride. But it’s a very healthy thing to look at the lives of others for strength and inspiration.
The people in my life who inspire me on a regular basis: My sisters have always been there to love, support, and pray for me. I can go visit them on a whim when I need to, or we can just talk on the phone and laugh or cry when we need to do that. I’ve mentioned my friend Julie (http://glutenfreeveganfam.blogspot.com/). We talk almost every day on IM. She’s a constant source of inspiration, encouragement, and laughter for me.
I want to talk a bit about my good friend Kevin (http://kevinknebl.com/). He’s a social-media guru–if he doesn’t know it, it hasn’t yet been discovered! He has inspired and encouraged me to do what I love… beginning with figuring out what I love! He is always my cheerleader in any new venture I embark on. He is one of the people in my life I want to be proud of me… and he always is. Through his encouragement, I have learned to embrace being more than simply doing. He has taught me to live life on purpose, not just by default. And if someone doesn’t appreciate me for all my value, he says they’re blind dopes (well, you know… that’s my paraphrase). Thanks, Kev. You’re my hero. And thanks for always forgetting that I’m older than you are 😉
So there it is. Life has challenges. Some challenges are major; some challenges just feel insurmountable at the time we’re going through them. How will you choose to face life through your challenges? Ignore, bury, stuff, “if you don’t talk about it, it’s not real”? Get angry, get bitter, blame others, shut yourself off from the possibility of further pain? Or will you embrace life. Will you choose to understand that life is not a destination but a journey. Will you look honestly at your situation, diminish or eliminate pain where possible and/or beneficial, and become a better/stronger person because of it. I believe that anything we overcome becomes our gift and our responsibility for working in our circle of influence. Your story is not your own–share your victories!
 

Optimism June 25, 2011

Filed under: Healthy Living,Life Questions — coffeegirl63 @ 12:13 pm

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am an optimist. I haven’t always been an optimist. As a child, I had a pretty bright outlook. It was sort of in the middle that I developed a rather dim view on life. Fortunately, in the last couple years, I have found my inner rose-colored glasses. I missed my rose-colored glasses. It’s good to have them back.

According to www.dictionary.com, optimism is defined as: 1. a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome. 2. the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world. 3. the belief that goodness pervades reality.

Yeah, these are all accurate reflections of reality, as I see it.

Some things have happened recently that have left me contemplative. My life-path journey seems to follow a circuitous, serendipitous road. I trust this is indicative of a curiosity about and a joyful embracing of the presence of life more than a simple lack of direction. Outside of that dim-view time, I have tended to follow the sights, sounds, and smells that fascinate me most. I don’t think of myself as a risk-taker, but lately I like trying new things–from foods to adventures. I was even brave enough to traverse the Royal Gorge Bridge and cross back over by way of the aerial tram. It was very scary, but fortunately I had someone to hold my hand (and whose arm I could grip with ferocity, when necessary) through the very scary parts. It’s been slowly building, but within the last 6 – 8 months, I started looking at situations with the assumption that they would work out for the best. In general, people will do the right thing and will be kind to each other. If things don’t happen that way, it’s a fluke.

I’ve come to believe strongly that every interaction between people is an opportunity for a positive relationship to be established. Sometimes, that relationship will last the 5 or 10 minutes you’re in contact, but sometimes it turns into a lasting friendship or business relationship. I’m not sure when I realized how much it fed my soul to be able to make someone laugh or to find a point of commonality with a stranger, but I now know that it’s a very powerful force in my life.

Some people find this irritating. I understand that and will dial it down a bit when I’m with them. When I go visit my sister, we usually go shopping for the week’s groceries the morning after I get there. Once, as we were leaving the grocery store, she said, “Do you have to speak to everyone in the store?” I said, “I didn’t talk to everyone. I didn’t talk to that guy. But I can if you want.” For being best friends, we have some glaring personality differences! When my son was going into his Army recruiting office the week before leaving for basic, he asked me to wait outside. His reasoning: he had to take care of some business, and I would get to be best friends with everyone in the office, and before we left I’d have everybody’s phone number and several of the guys will have asked me out on dates. Well, I think he was exaggerating, but I can see how it would be distracting for him to take care of Army business if I’m in there making new friends. So I waited outside.

The contemplation-inducing events? They range from dealings with the IRS and the CO Department of Revenue to orders placed through Amazon.com.

Everyone knows that dealing with the Internal Revenue Service is not meant to be pleasant, right? Some even say the agents have been trained to be unhelpful, and the really good ones are downright grumpy. As a payroll professional, however, I have just not found this to be true. When you call the IRS, you will get the next agent in queue. They answer with Mr/Ms LastName and their ID number, and they are very professional. Now, each time I call the IRS, in spite of nay-sayers’ dire predictions to the contrary, I have left the conversation with all my IRS-related issues resolved. Every time I have conversation with an IRS agent, there has been a story and/or a laugh shared. And I understand that has more to do with how I relate to people than with how they were trained to process calls. Usually, I’m calling to get information or to let them know that my company doesn’t actually owe them money as their records seem to indicate. One time, however, I misapplied a deposit to the incorrect quarter. By the time I received the letter, there were penalties, fees, and interest charges. Now, it was my fault–I wasn’t paying attention when I posted my deposit. I called just to ask how to get the deposit applied correctly. The agent helped me, we got everything taken care of, we had our story-sharing (he was raised just a few miles from where I was), and then he asked if there was anything else he could do. I asked if there could be any grace for me regarding the extra fees since I was so new at my job. He hesitated, and then said, “yes, let me take care of that for you.” I don’t know if that’s how they normally handle that situation, but I know I was given grace because I asked. I’m also pretty sure that if I’d called with a grumpy and defensive attitude, my company would have been paying those few thousand dollars in fees to the IRS.

When you, an employer, begin withholding and paying income taxes on behalf of your employees, the various tax agency are probably grateful, but you will soon receive letters saying, “um, you’re paying withheld taxes now? well, why didn’t you pay before this? and before that? and before that? and …” So, you send the letters and make the phone calls to explain that you didn’t withhold and deposit taxes on behalf of your employees in those previous time periods… because, well, you didn’t have any employees to withhold from. In my experience, this is a quick and simple fix. However, the letter I got from CO also had our name spelled incorrectly. Now, when you call the Colorado Department of Revenue employer help-line, you will most often be greeted by a message along the lines of, “Hi. This is Colorado. We care deeply for you and respect you far too much to leave you on hold indefinitely, or really for longer than about 15 minutes. It appears that your wait time will be more than 15 minutes now, so we would like you to call back later so we can help you sooner.” and then they hang up. This is much kinder than the state of CA, which says, “we’re busy” click. But still. Playing around on the website, I discovered they have a walk-in office in Colorado Springs. The first time I went in, there was a hand-written note on the door saying that the agent would be back later due to a family emergency. Later, like this afternoon, or later, like in a few weeks? I wasn’t sure, and neither was anyone else in that location. I was able to get in to see the Tax Examiner a few days later. The wait wasn’t too long, and the agent was very helpful… again, professional, like the IRS agents. When we had resolved everything, he looked to the door as if to say, “Next.” I stood up to go, but then made a decision. As I stood up,  I asked his name. I put out my hand and said, “Keith, thank you so much.” He looked at my hand for a moment before shaking it. I said, “My name is Joni, and I really appreciate your help today.” He gave me his business card and told me to call him if I had any more questions. When I got back to the office, I emailed a thank you note to him and connected with him on LinkedIn. A few days later, he emailed me that he noticed there were a couple other things we’d missed, with information on how to take care of them. One of the items involved pretty big fees, but with his help I wasn’t charged for anything. We’ve stayed connected and I have a new relationship because I was friendly for a moment when it wasn’t required.

I don’t always get to know, but I really hope these interactions bless the person I’m talking to as much as they bless me.

How could this relate to Amazon.com? This is the instance that really made me start to question this whole optimism thing and if there was more to it than a sunny vs cloudy outlook on life. I’ve been trying to eat more healthfully. Real food is, for some reason, much more expensive than fake (processed) food. Fortunately, amazon.com sells a lot of organic and natural foods for less than the local grocery stores do. I had several things I wanted, but I had to stay in a budget. I ordered chia seeds, hemp seeds, and organic almond butter. (If you talk to my really good friend Julie at glutenfreeveganfam.blogspot.com she’ll tell you exactly why those are wonderful things to have. I just like the seeds on my salads and in my smoothies and the butter on a lot of things. I highly recommend you pay her a visit.) As I was checking out, amazon asked if I wanted to use my amazon visa (sure, I only use it when my daughter uses my debit card and I forget to get it back from her, but I pay it off right away). Then amazon asked if I wanted to use my points. Points? I remember my amazon visa would periodically send me an amazon gift card, but there hadn’t been one for quite a while, so I just figured they weren’t doing that anymore. Evidently, they’ve been storing them up for me. Well, my current order didn’t even use half my points. Since I had more on my shopping list, I went back in. Ultimately, I got almost $200 worth of groceries for free (because amazon.com doesn’t charge for shipping if you spend more than $25).

The question I’ve started asking myself and others: Does optimism attract positive, even unrelated, results from life? I’ve been watching my more pessimistic friends, and it seems that the bad things they expect happen. Is it a matter of focus? Am I only seeing my positive results because that’s what I hear from my mouth and mind? Am I only seeing their negative results because that what I hear them talk about? Or are the results truly guided by the attitude? By the way, I’ve also seen studies that add the caveat that pessimists have their levels of success because they see life more realistically and are not disappointed.

I’ve heard that optimistic people live longer, healthier lives. That’s probably best–they enjoy life more. If your life sucks, why would you want it prolonged… especially in bad health. “Studies have shown” that optimistic people have more good things happen, while pessimistic people have more bad things happen. I still have down days when it’s hard to see any good in life. While I used to have a few (never consecutive) good days, now I have a few (never consecutive) down days. And I know the best thing for me is to talk to someone who loves and understands me. Not the ones who answer the phone with, “How aaaaaarrrrre youuuuuuuuu???” (FYI… NOT helpful). My depths of despair are not nearly as deep, and they’re much easier to climb out of. Is that because I’ve made choices toward optimism? My medications haven’t changed, so it’s not that. Or is it just that life is sunnier, so I don’t get as depressed?

I’d love some feedback on this. What’s your opinion? What is your experience? Is optimism a magnet for success, health, and long life? Or does it just seem that way?

 

Releasing and Embracing May 21, 2010

Filed under: Life Questions,Love,Times with My Family — coffeegirl63 @ 6:09 pm
Tags: , , ,

I apologize for the gap in posting. I’ve been busy at work, as well as in my off-work time, and I’ve been working on this post for several days wherever I have been able to grab time.

This is all about my kids, so there definitely will be some shameless bragging going on. I’ll tell some stories, but none that would make my kids change their names, shave their heads, and move to another country… they may move to another country, but that was inevitable anyway. I’m pretty sure they’ll keep their names and their hair, however.

Recently, my kids have been given opportunities to realize some of their very important and long-held dreams.

Jimmy and Jeanice have often talked about traveling for fun—just taking off and exploring the world. The first time I learned that God has His hands on my kids, that I could trust Him more than my own ability to protect them, was almost 22 years ago. In July, 1998, Jim and I took our one-year-old son, Jimmy, with us on a short-term missions trip to Guatemala. One day, we went to the garbage dump to work with the people who lived there. After we presented the drama, as I spoke to a group of women, one of them reached out and took Jimmy from me, and the other women surrounded her so that I lost sight of him. I had a split-second to make a decision. I could have pushed my way in, taken my baby back into my arms, … and lost an opportunity to speak into these women’s lives. And don’t think my mommy-instincts didn’t scream long and hard at me to charge in and protect my own. Instead, I worked my way through, put my hand on Jimmy, and talked to those women about the love of Jesus and how He wanted to be a part of their lives. As a result of this learned trust in God to protect my children better than I ever could, I have had peace as Jimmy and Jeanice have collectively been on 22 trips to 18 countries. This summer, they get to experience their first overseas adventure together since they were preschoolers. Jimmy is heading to Germany for a missions trip at the end of this month. On the last day of his trip, Jeanice will fly to Berlin to meet him and begin their adventures. They’ll spend a couple weeks “backpacking Europe.” Jimmy has been blogging about their preparations, and he’ll continue at least through the course of their trip.

Johnny has had a heart for Africa and for babies since he was very young. The first time I saw it was when Johnny was about two years old. I was reading to him the story of Hannah, Samuel’s mother. Hannah (for those of you who are unfamiliar with the story) desperately wanted a baby, but she couldn’t conceive. Every year, she would travel to the temple weeping and imploring God to give her a baby. As I read the story, Johnny himself began to cry. It just broke his heart that Hannah couldn’t have children. He couldn’t fathom pain that deep. A couple years later, Johnny was in the room as I was teaching early American history to Jimmy. (Free side-note tip for soon-to-be and young parents: kids are listening, no matter how unlikely it seems that they would be doing so.) When he heard slavery explained, he became very upset: “You can’t *own* a person! Why would they do that??” Later, we read a story about a missionary family in Africa. These and other events began to compile a world-view in Johnny’s developing little mind. When he was about 4 or 5, I heard him in his room and went to investigate (as any good mother would! 🙂 ). The only way to describe what I saw is to say that my little man was travailing. He was on his knees, rocking back and forth, crying, and praying, “God, please! You have to send someone to Africa. Mommy says I’m too young to go, and the people there will die before she’ll say I’m old enough to go. Please, God!!” Yes, deep beyond his years! Well, I’m thrilled to say that Johnny may have the opportunity to work in an orphanage there. I’m so excited for him. We don’t know what God will have Johnny do with his life, but we know that it won’t involve sitting still somewhere.

Many of you know that my kids have lived only with their dad for years. The two main reasons for this were: he was in a better financial position to house and feed them, and my mental health didn’t leave me room to care for anyone but myself for a while… and then I went through a very selfish period… and, well, anyway… Life has held some regrets over the years, but I’m moving on and making some good choices. Now, on to happier thoughts. J Julia and I are buying a house together! We are very excited. Julia has been living with her dad and her brothers for quite some time and is, as she puts it, “done with testosterone” for a while. I have been renting a room in somebody else’s house for the last seven years. We are each ready to have our own bathroom, to run a kitchen and keep a house as we like, and to just have mom-daughter time whenever we want to. I could (and even want to) write pages and pages about the house we’ve found, but instead I’ll be keeping you posted on that in updates. Ok, here’s one little sneak peek:

 In Him, Joni

 

Coffee and Chocolate May 6, 2010

Filed under: Food,Life Questions — coffeegirl63 @ 8:32 pm
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Recently a friend posted a question on his facebook page: Wondering…of all your favorite foods, which one would you find the most difficult to give up completely for the rest of your life? I was seriously torn between chocolate and coffee… but then as I thought about how particular I am about each, I wondered if I’d rather give up each than have certain chocolates and/or coffees.

Coffee–I drink my coffee black. I’m sure I’ll receive persecution for this, but I always believed that people who had to put stuff in their coffee didn’t really like coffee. Most people add water to their coffee when I brew it. There are people in my life, very special people, who can now drink my coffee without adding water. I think that almost everybody I know puts stuff in their coffee–with the exception of my dad and my friends, Art and Mary. Having grown up in CA, my favorite coffee for years was Peet’s. I used to have it delivered to me every month because there wasn’t a Peet’s here; well, Denver, but that’s too far to drive to get coffee. After a while, I decided it was too expensive to keep having it mailed to me. I set out on a mission to find a new (local) roaster. I went to a couple places and suggested they should have something like a wine tasting so I could find a new coffee blend. Most of the places were not open to that–couldn’t imagine how it would possibly benefit them to give away coffee like that. These were people who had obviously notgrown up or ever lived in Wine Country! … Until I found Pike’s Perk Coffee. I stopped in at the downtown store, and the manager thought it was a great idea. She gave me a few tastes there and then sent me home with enough beans to make one pot of each origin and blend she’d given me. I talked to her about the possibility of having coffee delivered to my office, even though it wouldn’t be much. She said they would deliver with no delivery charge. She gave me the owner’s cell number so I could get more information. He said there were no restrictions (in other words, no minimum order), and I just have to call the answering machine or fax my order each week. I order on Mondays, they roast on Tuesdays, package on Wednesdays, and deliver on Thursdays. Rick, the owner of the Pike’s Perk brand name, is very friendly and helpful if I want to try something else, but I’m not sure what. Even if I only order one pound, he always seems happy to be delivering. Their prices are very good, and they don’t charge shipping when you order on line. So, my favorite coffee is Pike’s Perk’s French Roast. There’s another important point to note regarding coffee. Just as the wine glass affects the flavor of the wine, the coffee mug affects the mood of the coffee drinker. Sometimes my mood dictates my choice, and sometimes my choice influences my mood. Below are a few of the mugs I keep at work:

Jeanice bought me this one on a trip to Germany. I use it when I miss her, or when she’s here, or when I’m feeling particularly German.

My friend, Helen, bought me this one. The back has a line, below which is written “this glass is now half empty.”

My friends, Art & Mary, bought me this one. They say that I’m high maintenance, and that I know I am high maintenance (ref. When Harry Met Sally). I’m really not high maintenance—I just feel strongly about certain things (like having the right coffee and the right chocolate).

Ok, my mom says my Aunt Kathy bought me this one. I don’t remember the event at all… but it’s a great mug for almost any occasion, don’t you think?

Chocolate–some of you may have read that I NEVER accept the union of fruit and chocolate (with the exception of a fairly dark chocolate with a good port). Why, just today, I had a conversation with someone who I THOUGHT was a good friend but who actually purposely ate orange-blossom chocolate. I mean, seriously? What if I wanted to stop by and see her today? We’d have to visit from different rooms in case the scent wafted. And she actually had the nerve to tell me that orange blossom is more an essence than a flavor… as if! Anyway, I’m rather particular about my chocolate. I prefer dark chocolate over milk–and white chocolate really isn’t even chocolate at all, so don’t get me started! In my opinion, Lindt Lindor dark chocolate truffle bars (and it’s crucial that they be the truffle bars–the truffle spheres are way too big for my mouth) are the best in the world! My friend, Katie, introduced them to me over 20 years ago when she went on a trip to Europe. Unfortunately, when people hear I like dark chocolate, they buy me something that is akin to unsweetened baking chocolate. Sorry, but that’s a little bitter and intense even for me. (However, melt a square of that 90+% chocolate in milk, stir in vanilla, and you’ll have the best hot chocolate ever!) Anyway, most American chocolate tastes rather paraffinny to me. However, Ghirardelli is a wonderful exception to that generalization, and their Dark Chocolate with White Mint Squares are the best of all! YUM!! I always have a bag of those around. 🙂 The Lindt are a little more difficult to find, but I try to keep one around for nibbling on.

So, those are my current thoughts on coffee and chocolate. I have two questions for you: how do you feel about coffee and/or chocolate? and of all your favorite foods, which one would you find the most difficult to give up completely for the rest of your life?

In Him, Joni

 

Validations and Affirmations April 8, 2010

Filed under: Life Questions,Love — coffeegirl63 @ 6:46 pm
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A good friend of mine, Kevin Knebl, really encouraged me to start writing for public viewing. He began some time ago… pretty much as soon as I told him that I wanted to. That’s the thing about Kevin—he’ll always encourage you to do the thing that you believe will bring you fulfillment. Funny, huh? Kevin inspires me in a number of ways, but the inspiration that I would like to address here is a 16-minute YouTube video called Validation. If you take the 16 minutes to watch the video before reading further, the following will probably make more sense.

Validation. What makes you feel validated? Is it someone, anyone, telling you that you are great? Does it need to be a specific someone for the validation to seem real, to really feed your soul? Watching the Validation video created many questions in my mind, most of which are currently unanswered. I feel, however, that part of this journey called life is to seek the answers and learn how those questions are answered for us. Those answers sometimes seem to only lead to more questions, requiring us to examine ourselves, our journeys, and our purpose to answer the newly-formed questions.

Something else I’ve been learning from this week: I’m reading the book In the Meantime by Rob Brendle. The tagline for this book is “the practice of proactive waiting.” I’ve never been good at waiting, but I’m realizing that this journey is not only necessary but is unavoidable. For most of my life, I thought this necessity to be an unfortunate one. However, as my wise friend Art has told me more than once, I need to learn to embrace the process. I always thought the goal was to “arrive” and then to live the rest of my life in ease as an “arrived” one. Alas, it seems we never fully arrive until we arrive at the Pearly Gates. “In the Meantime,” there can and will be joy in the process as we live out our purpose in life. So, below are the thoughts I regularly think about all this.

Back to validation… Have you thought about what validates you, what feeds your soul? For me, it feeds my soul when I know that I’m appreciated, when I know that I’m making a positive difference in people’s lives. Physical touch also feed my soul. To those of you who recognize these aspects, you will know that physical touch and closeness and words of encouragement are two of my top love languages.

It fascinates me how people’s souls are fed. What happens when a person’s soul is fed for the first time, or for the first time in so long it’s been forgotten? How does it affect the life of the one who’s doing the feeding? Does it feed the soul of the feeder? What about when the feeding stops—either direction? Or if someone doesn’t feel the soul-hunger? What if there’s so much hurt that we have turned off our natural hunger mechanism? Can we feed our own souls? How much does it feed our souls to feed others? What does it do to our souls if others won’t be fed?

What if you’re in a situation where the physical touch or the affirmations are not readily available? If I thrive in a situation that involves hugs and hand-holding and “you’re amazings” and “thank you for all you dos” but those situations are not where I currently live, how do I create a thriving environment? I firmly believe that God does not create me to thrive and grow in certain environments, and then expect me to live with the lack. I also don’t believe He wants me to live in a holding pattern. So what is the answer? I’ve had some tell me that I need to let God fill those needs for me. I’m not saying God can’t or won’t meet my needs. I’m just saying that I don’t understand what it means to be satisfied by the hugs of God. I’ve been told that the most satisfying dance or physical touch is the one I get from God. Maybe I’m just too carnal, too shallow, but I just don’t understand that. How do I live as a single woman when what I really thrive in is mutual affirmation through touch, service, and words?

I understand that a lot of this expresses my lack of satisfaction with my current situation. While this is partially true, I also see that I am where I am in life for a reason. There’s a definite purpose in my life, where I am, right now. It’s a paradox.

I know that I don’t currently have a large following, but do any of you have thoughts on this? I’m not just looking for answers to “my problems,” but I would like to hear your feedback. Any thoughts, anyone? Anyone?