Monday, January 26, 2009

20/20

Making a decision is a funny thing. We expect people in leadership positions to make the tough decisions. Sometimes, all we want is for them to make any kind of decision - good or bad. While I was in the Air Force, I was told several times that as an officer, part of the job is to make a decision. Even if it turns out to be wrong, a bad decision is better than no decision. At least you acted to try and make the situation better.

It seems as if in the last several months, the favorite topic in the news was former President Bush and his decision making over the last 8 years. History will judge him better than we can at this moment. It is almost too easy to judge him knowing what we now know. We may never know exactly what information he had at his disposal ("need to know" and national security being what they are), however, I am sure he made the best decisions he could based on the information he was given. As an elected official, our highest elected official, we must believe he made decisions based on the information at hand and what he believed was best for us and our country.

In a recent article describing the unveiling of his official portrait, Gen Pete Pace (USMC, Ret) made a comment that fit right along with this. Gen Pace said he "certainly made some recommendations that if I could take them back and change them, I would, given the knowledge of today, but I also know that given the exact same data, at the exact same time in history, I would give the exact same advice.” Given the "knowledge of today" I think we would be hard pressed to find any decisions from any point and time in history that we wouldn't change in some way. As easy as it is to do that, it is important to think of the knowledge at the time instead of the knowledge of today (taking into account the whole hindsight being 20/20 thing). Most would prefer to wait until they have 100% of the information required to make a fully informed decision. However, the majority of the time, you cannot wait until you have 100%, and at other times, the information is continusously changing and it isn't possible to ever have 100%. It takes courage and bravery to make a decision knowing you will be judged on both the decision and the outcome.

History may prove me wrong, but right now, with the "knowledge of today," I am proud of former President George Bush and Gen Pete Pace. Proud of the decisions they made in their quest to keep our country safe; proud of the men they are and the leadership and service they gave to our country; proud they are men we can look up to and respect.

I hope and pray the men and women leading our country today put the country first in all their decision making, regardless of the consequences only history will show. Read More......

Sunday, January 25, 2009

One Small Part...

Sometimes it is really easy to get self-absorbed. What is more important to a person than what is currently going on in their own lives? Often, the answer is nothing. Yet, every once in a while, we are reminded there is a bigger world out there and we are just one small part of it.

In the last two days, I have read several very different things reminding me of that fact. The first was one of Mother's books, "Only With A Highlander". In the book, a character describes a huge painting where the people are represented by small dots of color. The people are, in fact, so insignificant they do not even merit a whole brushstroke. That's a bit humbling. Next, was the book "The Candy Bombers" by Andrei Cherny. There are so many things that stood out for me reading this book, it is hard to pick just one. However, reading/knowing what the men and women (not to mention the people of Berlin) did to make the Berlin Airlift a success amazes me. One person alone could not have done it. One person alone did not make or break it. Individual people may have had a big impact (Tunner, Halvorsen, Clay, etc.), but the success came from something larger.


Finally, a friend of mine talked to me today about her guru, Amma. She is known to many as the "Hugging Saint" because her mission is to essentially spread love and compassion. She does this by hugging, sometimes up to 45,000 people in a day, one after the other. On her website Amma responds to a question regarding how she can hug/love everyone, no matter how different. I had asked myself this question since I automatically thought of all the dirty, stinky, and "weird" people (all those people I wouldn't want touching me). Her response really hit a chord.

Amma replied that "when a bee hovers over a garden of varied flowers, what it beholds is not the difference between the flowers, but the honey within them." What did I get from that? It is not the outside that is important, it is what is inside (trite, but who of us actually lives by this?). The outside is essentially a shell holding the soul, the only truly important part of each person, together. Why would we ever look at the "shell" when it would be so much more interesting and rewarding to focus on the soul?

We are all just one small part of the whole. If we could learn to see past the surface to what or who we really are underneath, perhaps the world would be a more peaceful and better place.
Read More......

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Too Much To Say

Sometimes it seems as if I have so many thoughts running around in my head that I can't seem to get them organized enough to do anything about it.

Lately, I have had a lot of things I want to blog about, or even journal about, and I haven't done anything with it. Is it because I don't think those thoughts are worth writing down? Or maybe because I worry too much about what people might think, should they ever read them? Mostly, it's because I wonder if I make any sense.

Not just, do I make sense in that I wonder if I am saying things in a way they can be understood; but also, is what I am saying or thinking relevant? Why are my words important and how can I say them in such a way as to show their importance?

I have always envisioned myself as a closet writer - that if only I set my mind to it, I could and would write that great American novel. That people would read what I wrote and would see themselves in and through my writing.

Now, just a week or so into this new arena of writing and I wonder if even I would read what I am writing? No special topics or issues...no special way of putting words together to create pictures that stay long after the story is read...just a simple girl's thoughts written in simple words. Maybe that should be enough. Maybe I shouldn't be afraid of the not so simple thoughts and the ideas that are hard to put into words...maybe it's only important if I enjoy writing and that it helps me order my thoughts; maybe that's what it's really all about. Read More......

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Decision to Act

Amelia Earhart once said: "The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity."

I think this is true with most things. I know for me, there are many things I want to do, new things to try, places to go, etc...Yet, I often don't do them simply because I allow things to happen instead of making the decision to act and actually DO something.

Thursday I called to get more information about the OSC choir. That, in itself, was a step for me. However, I had to leave a message...So, Friday rolls around and I am out anyway, so I decide to go ahead, go to the choir practice and see what it's like. I get there only to find an empty parking lot and a sign on the door saying "No Choir Today." Very frustrating. It almost makes me not want to try again...but I have to remember, timing is everything and just because mine was off, I shouldn't give up on it.

If I plan on making my 2009 goals a reality, I am definitely going to have to work on, not just my timing, but also getting out there and making a decision to act. I have allowed too many things, in the last couple years, to just happen instead of making a decision and having things happen the way I want or the way I think they should. Then of course, not just make a decision but stick with it. For example the choir, I made a decision so I need to have the tenacity to stick with it. Go again, call again, give it another try...until I have seen what they are all about and can make a decision on whether or not I want to stick with them.

Tenacity...consistency...persistence. People used to stay I was one of the most persistent people they knew because I knew where I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to be doing and did whatever was necessary to make it happen. Somewhere along the way, I seem to have lost that. Now that I recognize and admit it is lost, I have a better chance of getting it back!

So, make a decision, act, and stick with it...Good plan. Read More......

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cool Blogs

There are so many cool blogs out there!

Unfortunately, one of my goals for this year was to spend less time on the computer...so why is it that I am just now finding all of these cool sites? Probably because I just started blogging myself and am looking around at everything else that's out there...Maybe I should amend the goal to say something along the lines of spend less time playing games on the computer...? That way, if I am reading cool stuff in a blog, that time doesn't count against me...? Sounds good to me!

I was just looking through recipes, photos, etc on the pioneer woman blog. It is really well done. Especially the recipes - she has photos for every step - and they are really good photos. I just looked at her recipe for "Flower Pot" desserts and it is one of the cutest ideas I have seen in a long time. I can't wait to try it sometime. As they are made with ice cream, it will probably be a while...maybe, I can use the idea sometime in the spring? Maybe do something fun with the other spouses...? Hopefully, I will remember in time to actually do it...

In the meantime, I will continue looking through other blogs and, just basically, enjoying all the ideas people have and are willing to share... Read More......

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Vivid Imagination

I recently finished my first book of 2009.

Afterwards, I walked around the house in somewhat of a daze...I felt dirty and somehow corrupted. The main character, just barely 20 years old at the end of the book, was so evil and did such disgusting things to get her way...all I could think of while reading was 1) I wanted it to be done and 2) I hoped that she died in some way befitting the awful way she lived her life. The book affected me so much that I actually, in some way, even hoped her two children would die. I just knew that they would be as evil as she was. Then, I felt awful for wanting innocent children to die. They were not at fault for what she did or who their parents were...I couldn't stop thinking about what did this book do to me that I started having such awful thoughts, even fleetingly? That her children would be better off not to have been born than to be born to such a monster? Yech! I don't have the stomach to read the next two books in the trilogy....

Sometimes, my very vivid imagination is a good thing. Other times, like with this book, I regret it. Those terrible scenes are stuck in my head and only God can get them out...

In the meantime, I decided to read one of "Mother's Books," aka a romance novel, to get the sleaziness out of my brain. Luckily, Mother keeps me well stocked and I had plenty to choose from. I picked a time-travel with a hunky, caring, and honor-bound Scottish Highlander. :) As far from the other awful book as I could get. I'm almost done with it...

Tomorrow, I plan on starting one of the classics my wonderful husband bought me yesterday. I get to choose from: The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol 1, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and Siddhartha...not sure yet which one I want to read first... Read More......

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Missing Friends

In the last few months, pretty much since I started going through old pictures to try my hand at scrapbooking, I have been thinking more and more of missing friends. Some that I have lost forever, some that just somehow drifted away over the years.

Facebook has been a great thing for getting back in touch with old friends. I can't believe the number of people I have "found" again through FB. Yet, FB also has some drawbacks. There must be some contest I don't know about to have the highest number of friends on FB, because sometimes I am totally confused as to why these people want to "friend" me. They are friends of friends or siblings of friends or people I have never even heard of who have no "mutual" friends so I don't know how they found me.

Then there is what I have come to think of as the "High School Hang-up." I wasn't the geekiest person at my school but I wasn't the most popular either. When I look back, I think I have had a pretty successful and surely happy life in the 18 or so years since I graduated high school. Yet, somehow, being on FB and seeing people I graduated with "friending" my siblings or other friends instead of me brings back all those old HS insecurities. Do they just not like me? Why don't they like me? WHY DO I CARE? Yet, I do. So I have been avoiding Facebook like an insecure high school freshman. Hopefully, I will get over it soon, because I really do like FB....

I have also used the internet (mostly Google) to find some old friends. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I have been pleasantly surprised at the response I have gotten from some long-lost, missing friends I have managed to track down. Now, I just have to keep in touch!

Then, there are those missing friends that are truly gone forever. Today marks one year since I lost my friend Carrie and her son Lucas. Today I talked with another friend who was also good friends with Carrie and we just spent some time reminiscing and missing Carrie. Sometimes it is hard to remember that Carrie wasn't perfect; there were so many good things about her. She was a great friend who truly cared about others - often doing little things just to show you how much she cared and that you were thought of; she was a great mother - she loved Ashley and Lucas so much, you could tell just being around her that they were her world; she was a good wife - (though Jim would be the better judge on that) when I stayed with them for two months, it was easy to see how important it was to her to make a good home for him, to support him and how much she loved him. The main thing I will always remember about Carrie was her love of life - she was ALWAYS moving, always doing something. Sometimes she thought of it as a flaw, that she couldn't slow down or sit still...but she was able to fit so much into her way too short life. She touched so many people who are changed forever for knowing her.

While I know I can never be exactly like Carrie, nor should I want to be for I am my own person, I do hope that I continue to grow in my love for others and learn to care more about showing love than worrying about what others may think.

I guess part of that will be continuing to search for those other missing friends and keeping in touch with those I have found. Being a good friend is probably the best legacy I can think of to remember Carrie. Read More......

Monday, January 5, 2009

Isolation

In the two years since I left the Air Force, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the things I want to change in my life. One of the main things I wanted to change was how I tend to isolate myself. I wanted to be a better friend, a better sister, daughter, wife, etc. It is just now that I am starting to realize that instead of being "better" I may have moved even further away from people.

In the AF, it was easy to use my uniform, or my rank, to create an island where I stood alone and only rarely let anyone else come in close. Those I did allow in, were not allowed to stay for long as I meant to stay the way they pictured me in their minds instead of how they would come to see me if they were too close for too long.

I realized today that in place of my "rank" I have put on another "uniform," one that is much harder to see around and much harder to discard. I have made myself invisible to a large part of the population and most likely an object of some disgust to another part of it. By allowing myself to gain weight, or more correctly, by hiding behind food and thus my weight, I have created an even more isolated island and allowed even fewer people access.

In my heart I feel as if people do not want to know me, be near me or love me. The outward expression of those feelings is a large size which even I cannot bear to look at. Despite that, I am confused when people don't want to be with me or worse, don't even think of me. I desperately want to be liked, loved, even while I do not love myself.

I have seven brothers and sisters and not one of them is a friend - someone I have faith in to be there when/if I need them. One of them, refuses to speak with me at all and returned my Christmas card unopened. After a full year, he will not forgive me for a situation he perceives as my failure to support him. I feel as if he took advantage of me and then stabbed me in the back, yet I have tried to clear the air and move forward. As evidenced by the returned card - it is going nowhere.

Another sister, the one who should be closest to me, won't answer my calls, letters or e-mails. I have no idea why. The others, I find out more about them through comments from others on Facebook. They are strangers to me. People I would not, and did not, choose as friends but who are tied to me through blood or marriage. They don't seem to have a problem not knowing me or my life - so why do I let it matter that I am not a part of their lives? Why does it bother me that they don't think of me?

As far as friends go, I just found out that one of my oldest friends is not only married but has a son. Once again, I find myself shut out of a life I thought I was involved in. I have tried to be a friend, yet I am surprised over and over when I realize the lives of others move on and change without me.

In two years, if there has been any change at all, it has been for the worse. Yet, I must keep trying, or at the very least learn to accept myself for who I am and as I am, and cherish those who love me no matter what. They may be few and far between, but they are the ones who truly matter. The others, ah, the others...Those I must try to accept as they are when they are near and not focus on them or feel as if they are judging me when they choose to be far away. If I can learn to be happy with myself - the lack of closeness with others will hopefully cease to matter so much. Read More......

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 Goals

1. Start/write a blog
Goal Met: Started early! 30 Dec 08

2. Sing! Join a choir
I have always enjoyed singing - it makes me happy. As a cadet, I was in the Catholic Choir; as well as the Catholic Choir at Lajes AB. I loved it. At Lajes, I was even an avid participant in Karaoke night at the Club (as long as I had at least one other person with me)! Lately, I haven't been doing much of it and I miss it. OSC has a choir - I plan on looking into it; churches usually have choirs - so, just have to find the church we like enough to stick with.
Goal Met: 16 Jan 09 (joined OSC choir)

3. Do yoga regularly either at home or in a studio (at least 2x week)
I enjoy yoga and I feel better when I am doing it; I just need to do it more regularly.
Goal Met:

4. Try three new activities
There are a lot of activities I have never tried (and some I haven't tried in years). There are also many things out there that seem really cool; hopefully, if I try several I will find at least one I really enjoy! Things like Pilates, Rock Climbing, Kickboxing, Canoeing, Kayaking, Horseback Riding, etc.
Goal Met:

5. Go on minimum of four “day trips” to see Midwest
Every time I have moved, I have regretted not getting out and seeing more of the area. I don't want that to happen again. Some of the places I'd like to see are Hermann, St Charles, historical sites, etc.
Goal Met:

6. Pamper myself regularly (monthly massages, mani/pedis, haircuts, etc.)
Goal Met:

7. Read minimum of 18 books (with at least 2 biographies and 4 classics)
I love reading, so this shouldn't really be a problem - I just wanted to have a couple goals that would be relatively easy to attain. I did make it a bit tougher by asking myself to read a couple biographies (such as George Marshall, Madeleine Albright, Lincoln and/or Teddy Roosevelt) and a few classics (such as Hunchback of Notre Dame and Robinson Crusoe). I have way too many books on the shelves that I have never read - it's time to read them,!
Goal Met:

8. Publish a Poem/Send poem(s) to be published
I have been writing for quite a while but have never had the nerve to send it anywhere. Yet, I have spent numerous hours looking through poetry contests, literary magazines that publish new writers, etc. Whether or not I actually get something published, it will never happen unless I TRY!
Goal Met:

9. Make health/exercise a priority (yoga, walk/run, vitamins, food choices – journal)
This pretty much speaks for itself. I just need to make my health a priority instead of an afterthought.
Goal Met:

10. Get “professional” photos taken
I have never had "professional photos" taken as an adult (outside of official AF photos). Usually, because there is something I am not happy with. Maybe I should stop listening to myself, and instead listen to those who think I am beautiful. I would really like to have some nice pictures of Tom and I (and maybe some with us and the kitties?) for next year's Christmas card.
Goal Met:

I have some "Bonus" Goals which I will add later. However there are three "expectations" for the coming year - meaning these are the things I WILL be doing no matter what and are so basic they shouldn't even be a "goal"...but since I haven't necessarily been doing them up until now, I am writing them down.

Expectations:
- Eat “good” more often than “bad”
- Attend church regularly
- MOVE a little every day Read More......