Tuesday’s Topic – Finding Fair

February 27th, 2009 by Karen

Last Thursday, I received a call from my mother to tell me that my Great Great Aunt Louise had passed away. Sure, she was nearly 98 and yes she had been ill and confused for several years, but despite this, I cried.

I’m fairly certain that I was the only one.

Not because my family is cruel or because they conciously wished it would all be over. Just simply because “she had lived a long fulfilling life”. At what point do we cross over from death meaning mourning and death meaning absence of grief? How in the world is that fair?

Is is fair that she had to spend her final years locked in her own confusion about who came and went, who was really alive and who she believed still lived? Is it fair that only about 40 people came to the funeral? Is it fair that the discussion at her reception focused more on when the estate would be dispersed than her long well traveled life? Is it fair that the last of a generation should simply slip away with barely a mention?

Everyone went through the motions of what was expected…solemnly fulfilling their filial duties until it was appropriate to be finished. There was no fault to be found in the service itself. The flowers were impeccable, everyone appropriately dressed, the family mortician did a lovely job as he always does. But it was all flat. There was no sorrow.

The only person I spoke with that seemed at all moved was my cousin’s daughter who is only seven. In all the swirl of black clothing and Portland rain, she quietly went about her little way and ended the reception at my side. She was the only person younger than I and both of us the youngest there by a long shot. We sat on the couch and she showed me her DS and we ate little cookies together for a bit and then she asked if I wanted to see her room since the reception was at my cousin’s house. I said sure and she led me up the stairs. She showed me the sticker collection on her door (which I’m sure just kills my cousin who is an incredible interior designer), her collection of ponies and frilly dresses, and her books. She pointed out all the fun bric-a-brac that make up the world of a child then she turned to me in all childhood seriousness and said simply “You know, it’s too bad that Aunt Louise had to go to heaven. She was a nice lady.”

It was all I could do to choke out “Yes honey, she was.”

That small precious moment made up for all the unfairness of the day that had assaulted my heart.

No one else could see past the paperwork, the cost and the hassle of the end of a life, but a small child with barely an understanding of what it means to live did.

Posted in Family, Life, Tuesday's Topic | 2 Comments

Patience is a virtue…

February 12th, 2009 by Karen

This past Sunday when Joel and I renewed our vows, one of the readings at Mass was Corinthians 1:1-13 and although it’s oft quoted to the point of becoming trite, it’s still a lovely message. Love, unconditional love, is patient. It is kind. It endures always.

I am not the most patient person in the world. I have known this for a long time and regretably, so have those around me that I love the most. I come by it naturally I’m afraid. (Like father, like daughter!) I do not go through life with a happy and overabundant spirit. I usually start my day grouchy and impatient and I end it thinking impatiently of all the stuff I still have to do but have to wait on since it’s bed time. Impatience, perfectionism, and proscrastination are a bad combination.

Recently, my friend Mike suggested that I read The Tao of Inner Peace by Diane Dreher. Keep in mind that I DEVOUR books and can read 700 pages in a day with little trouble. This book has forced me to slow down and start taking things to heart. I’ve been reading it for a week and I’m only about 20 pages in. It’s frustrating and cathartic at the same time. It’s been a long time since I did serious self-discernment and examined my soul and boy…it needs some help.

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22

I have been striving towards several of these in my life lately, but I haven’t been particularly focused on patience. Joel can tell you, I sit in my chair and grumble away most of the day. The spam annoys me, the temperature of the house, the stack of bills, the constant “mommommommom” of our littlest one, the misplaced notes that are somewhere on my desk but elude me until I no longer need them. Each minor irritation has its tongue lashing or harrumph from me. He has the patience of Job to put up with me, I know. I would have up and moved my desk to another room by now.

The more I reflect on the idea of patience, the larger a concept it becomes. Not only does it encompass my day to day attitude and interactions, but it directly affects my joy, my capacity to love, my inner peace. My lack of patience prevents me from being the gentle and kind person I want to be and throws my self-control out the window, at least where things like chocolate are concerned. Patience does not mean being a complacent doormat, but being proactive in the face of difficult or annoying circumstances.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. ~Ephesians 4:2

The last thing I want -ever- is for my children to be afraid of upsetting me or look back on their childhood and say “gee, Mom sure yelled a lot”. I need to learn to not sweat the small stuff, to take a breath before I criticize, to remember what impatience looks like through their eyes, because I was them once. I feel like I’m starting to make a little progress…seeing fragments of color flashing through my peripheral vision in a sea of gray and black.

It’s like patiently climbing a long spiral staircase, you can’t see the top, you can’t see the bottom, but you know each landing is higher than the last. If you’re patient enough and persevere, eventually you’ll see the sky.

Posted in Family, Life, Tuesday's Topic | 4 Comments

At the corner of Kismet & Karma

February 3rd, 2009 by Karen

I am not one who easily meets others.

Well, that’s not entirely true…perhaps a better way to say it is that I don’t easily approach others. I tend to be the quiet observer in a group, the seemingly shy one who smiles at the right times and laughs when it’s appropriate, then goes back to being a neutral shade of beige that blends in with the walls. I tend not to meet the eyes of people I don’t know in a crowd. Why? I don’t really know…a fear of what I might find reflected perhaps. I have tried in the past to convince myself that my self sufficency makes me a stronger person.

The last couple of months, I’ve been making a concerted effort to try to be more gregarious and outgoing and man, it’s incredibly difficult, but in the long run I think it will be worth it. In fact, I had the pleasure of meeting some really fine people just two weeks ago in Vegas. It was a struggle, but six months ago, I simply would have watched them from the sidelines without them even knowing I would have loved to talk to them.

When I was younger, meeting people was just as difficult, but fate has intervened on my behalf several times, despite my shortcomings, and I am very grateful for the people it has brought me.

My very best friend in the whole world, I never would have really known, if it hadn’t been for a trip to Ashland to the Shakespeare Festival in 7th grade. Our core teacher had one core class in the morning and one in the afternoon and we were each in different ones, so we didn’t really hang out or know each other well at all. Come to think of it, I think the only class Faith and I had together that first year was band. Anyway, neither of us had anyone to sit with for the long bus ride, so we ended up sitting together. We had an awesome time and after that, we were fast friends. Ten years ago, she was my maid of honor at my wedding and if I had to pick someone to do it again today, she’d still be the first person I would call. I in turn was her matron of honor and I like to think that she didn’t regret it, despite my razzing her with my toast. (You met him at French club meeting at a bar and neither of you drink and you took a long walk on the beach? Yeah, sure….) With families and distance, it’s harder to get together and hang out like we used to, but when we do manage to find an afternoon, it’s just like we never stopped being together on a daily basis.

I met my husband purely by chance as well. I was sixteen and part of the CYM core team at church and our youth minister signed us up for CLI, Christian Leadership Institute, up at Camp Pendola in the Sierras. I was -not- happy to be going. I was unsure of myself and frankly a little scared to be thrown into an unfamiliar situation. We got up to camp and we all went and sat down in the chapel/meeting room and the youth ministers started a skit. I had never met Joel before, but as he bounded into the room he nearly knocked himself out on the doorjamb. Over the course of the week, I found myself entranced by him and his goofy nature. We all parted ways and I went home to find that my beloved boyfriend of the time had been cheating on me with a friend of mine (broke up by handing me his wedding invite. ouch.). Fast forward a couple of summers and I found myself working at camp as a counselor and lo and behold, so was Joel. We hit it off and even though I had to kinda spell it out for him that I liked him, we fell in love. He hasn’t run away screaming in terror yet, so I count that as a bonus. We will have been together fourteen years and married ten this July 9th and yes, having everything on the same date (first kiss, proposal and wedding) has been very useful. I highly recommend it.

Finally, my most recent friend I met in quite a round about way. I freely admit, I’m a bit of a geek and I play an MMO for fun and stress relief…nothing like flinging around some fireballs to relieve frustration. One evening last year, none of my regular friends were on to play with so I switched to a different server. I picked one at random and within the first couple minutes, I heard about a player run radio station. I tuned in and was hooked by the Tom Lehrer the gal was playing. Since I work from home and my own playlist was getting rather tiresome, we started listening regularly and became acquainted with several of the other DJs. Last summer, I attended the IRCE conference in Chicago and two of the DJs invited me out to a B.B. King concert. I was nervous to go since I didn’t know them at all but honestly, I had a blast even though I stayed pretty quiet the whole time and that as they say was that. At Christmas, I ran into a bit of a dilemmma in game with one of my main characters. Trying to be more outgoing, I had impulsively agreed to allow her to be part of a bachelorette auction, but as the date got closer and I heard the various rp rumblings about people who were interested and why, I got more and more concerned. I didn’t want to back out and disappoint people, but I had a serious case of remorse. I voiced that concern to a small group of my friends and one of the DJs I met in Chicago, gallantly stepped up to save my character from a fate worse than death. In the process, we started talking more and more and he’s quickly become a fast friend and confidant. He’s been a huge support as I’ve been trying to get past some personal hurdles, rediscover who I am and nudge me down the path towards who I want to be. He’s also encourging me to slow down and listen to my own heart, which I haven’t done in a very long time. I’m blessed to have him as a friend.

None of these three I would have ever met, if I had been left to my own devices. The inital contact with each of them wasn’t something I actively sought out, not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t think I needed someone. I can’t imagine how dreary and sad my life would be without them now and it saddens me to suddenly discover how many missed opportunities there have been to connect with others.

AN OLD man on the point of death summoned his sons around him to give them some parting advice. He ordered his servants to bring in a bundle of sticks, and said to his eldest son: “Break it.” The son strained and strained, but with all his efforts was unable to break the bundle. The other sons also tried, but none of them was successful. “Untie the bundle,” said the father, “and each of you take a stick.” When they had done so, he called out to them: “Now, break,” and each stick was easily broken. “You see my meaning,” said their father.

My lesson: Alone, I am important to none. With others, we are are important to each other.

Posted in Family, Life, Tuesday's Topic | 4 Comments

Monday, monday…

January 27th, 2009 by Karen

I am deciding today was a total wash. There was nothing spectacular that went wrong, just lots of little things went awry, got broken and my shoulder is throbbing for the third day in a row. Coupled with my crampy lower back pain and the fact that my husband is ill and I’m just a certifiable hot mess today. It’s only 10 pm, but I’m calling it a day.

Posted in Family, Life | 0 Comments

First Communions and busted ankles

May 27th, 2008 by Karen

This past weekend was eventful to say the least! On Sunday, Maria and her classmates received their First Communion at the 9am Mass and it was absolutely beautiful.

The only drawback to the day was I really tweaked my ankle cleaning house on Saturday in preparation for house guests.  I won’t go into the details because it makes me cringe just thinking about it, but suffice it to say, I am now best friends with a bag of frozen peas and an ace bandage.

Sigh. My middle name should have been Grace.

Posted in Family | 0 Comments

Bowling for Birthdays

March 29th, 2008 by Karen

Today was Maria’s 8th birthday party and we had a complete blast. We normally have birthday parties at home, but since last year’s birthday was a bit…horrible…we relented and had her party at the local bowling alley. We wanted to make this one memorable as she’s nearly totally recovered from her shattered elbow. Praise God!

bowling birthday

We ended up with ten bowlers from the kids in her class and a whole bunch of family. I made the cake of course and we had a vanilla cake bowling bag and a chocolate cake bowling ball, both covered in colored fondant. The kids also had pizza and soda and I think a great time was had by all.

bowling birthday

Posted in Family | 1 Comments

There and back again…

March 27th, 2008 by Karen

This past week, I actually went road-tripping with my Mom and I had an absolute blast. We went to Eastern Oregon to visit my grandmother so I could fix her computer and we could catch up a bit. It took a few days to get the computer square with the world, simply because they live in the middle of nowhere (dial-up and no wifi spots available…arg) and downloading updates for a few of her programs was a several hour process. After installing a significant memory upgrade, updating her programs, and making a few accessibility adjustments, it was good to go. While we waited for things to download, we had a fantastic time, just being with my Grandma.

My Grandpa Bill passed away in December of 2006, and every time we’ve been there since, I’ve had kids in tow and there have been a myriad of other things I had to focus on. This time, we actually got to VISIT. Grandma took us all over town, showing us off to her friends and was infinitely proud that her granddaughter was fixing her computer. We went to several luncheons and potlucks and out to coffee with her friends everymorning. I made two lemon merengue pies (they were always my Grandpa’s favorite) and even made her some Easter eggs since I knew we would be headed home the day before. It was awesome talking with my Grandma about all sorts of stuff that I never knew, simply because there wasn’t time before and we were always interupted. I also spent a fair amount of time scanning family photographs although I didn’t make much of a dent since Grandma is a photographer and former newspaper editor and there are boxes of photos in every nook and cranny.

Mom and I stayed up late every night just talking about life, family, work, her teaching, affiliate programming, my new business, just about everything under the sun. It was really a great trip and I can’t wait to do it again!!

Posted in Family, Life | 0 Comments

St. Patricks Day Reflection

March 17th, 2008 by Karen

Thirty one years ago today, I was baptized. I was all of 14 days old, so I don’t remember it, but I know it was March 17th because of my Aunt Marge.

Aunt Marge was perpetually old…she seemed ancient to my girlish eyes when I was little and was always a constant in my life. Every year, without exception, she sent me a card on my baptismal birthday. It was every bit as important as my regular birthday to her and I came to find its importance as well as comfort and wisdom in her brusque manners. As the world spun faster and faster, she shared small bits of advice in her slow manner with me while I was growing up. I distinctly remember sitting at my parent’s dining room table with a tiny notebook she always carried while she taught me how to spell so many of the words my dyslexia caused me to stumble over. We sat there for hours as she dictated words to me and I must have wrote the word “cinnamon” fifty times, but I did it. She was extremely proper, and I don’t know how many thousands of times she told me not to slouch and how to do things ‘just so’, but despite her demeanor she meant well and did it with love.

I never really knew too much about the person that was Margaret Plancich and this I will forever regret. I do know that she worked for many, many years for Kelly-Clarke and she had many important business people as friends, although she never mentioned them. She never married although a cousin told me she once had a sweetheart who was killed and so she never married. Romantic…yes. Truthful? I have no idea. Regardless, it simply added to her mystique.

Three years ago, my baptismal birthday cards stopped. My Aunt Marge had passed away the previous Decemember at 96. As the day got closer, I grew sad knowing that nothing important would be in the mail. When St. Patrick’s Day finally arrived, I was surprised by a card from my parents…and I sat on the front steps of our house and cried.

Posted in Family | 0 Comments

My son, the Jedi Master

March 10th, 2008 by Karen

About six months ago Joel won a Xbox from Microsoft at eComXpo. We’ve got it set up and the kids enjoy playing the little arcade games and the demos. We have Viva Pinata, but it’s a bit beyond them still.

About a week ago, Alex discovered that he really liked the LEGO Star Wars II demo on the xBox. No, I take that back, he doesn’t like it…he LOVES it. And he’s amazingly good at it. Joel and I have played it several times, but Alex has found secret areas we didn’t even know existed.

So, today I was out and about and saw the Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga in Target. I couldn’t resist and bought it. We had such a fabulous time this afternoon playing multiplayer on it…the whole family got involved and we just had a blast. Alex also played by himself for a bit and did great…not bad for a four year old that can’t even read all the directions!

Posted in Family, Gaming | 0 Comments

Harvey Milk movie

March 10th, 2008 by Karen

I’m so excited to see this movie! Not because the topic enchants me or because I like pseudo-documentarys at all, but because my little sister is an extra! She’s been sending us text messages all day about how close she is standing to Sean Penn. Who’d have thought my sis would be in movies?! Go Karey!

Posted in Family | 1 Comments

« Previous Page