Sunday, January 9, 2011

Celebrate the Ordinary

As most of you know, I am a sports fan.  I especially love football, and I especially love the Seattle Seahawks.  As I write, my favorite football team is in the process of making history.  The first team with a losing record to win in the playoffs.  But this is not so much about them as it is about what they taught me yesterday as I watched them play in the Wild Card game. 

Now I love to celebrate like everyone else does, but I tend to cringe at some of the celebrations that I see on the field.  Early into the game, I was watching along with my husband and kids when one of our Seahawk tight ends caught a short pass and got enough yards to make a first down.  At that point, he got up from the pile, stopped and posed for a first down.  That is when both my husband and myself began to berate him, telling him to get back to the huddle and not to celebrate until there were points on the board.  (Yes, we realize the odds that he actually heard us as we yelled at our TV is very large). Then we really began to spout off our frustration in seeing so many of them celebrating just because they are doing what they are being paid to do, in this case- move the ball down the field.  Right in mid-complaint, the epiphany came...

What if we all celebrate whenever we complete the ordinary everyday things that are expected of us?  What if my husband performed an end zone dance whenever he sent a work email?  What if I spiked a ball whenever I get done sorting laundry? Paying the bills? Feeding the cat?  What if we celebrated more of the smaller victories and not just the large ones that showed up on a scoreboard someplace?   As Matt Hasselbeck and Cameron Morrah showed me on that first down play, it takes a few small victories to make the bigger ones. And so we tried that last night.  As I graded papers, my kids began to chant my name.  When someone got done in the bathroom and they washed their hands, I gave them fist bumps and a yell.  As Phillip put to dogs out for a five minute visit to the dog run, we chest bumped and yelled.  Of course we had to do it quietly since we found out earlier during the game that our puppy still pees when there are unexpectedly loud noises.

The results of the small case study we performed last night was mixed.  There is always the typical awkwardness that comes from over-the-top displays of excitement.  Also a large amount of time is consumed in celebrating after every completed activity.  On the flip side, we haven't laughed that hard since our Seahawks made it to the playoffs with a losing record.  Oh, well, I guess we laugh often. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Tradition

Like everyone else, we are in the midst of our own Christmas holiday festivities.  We have gone to parties, gift exchanges, services, and carolling.   We have decorated, shopped and baked.  We have eaten all things that are usually off limits.  We have posed for Christmas photos, and I am once again wracking my brain trying to remember everything that happened this year in order to make note of in a Christmas letter.  But the one Christmas tradition that is all our own started just a few years ago thanks to our feline family member.

Every morning I wake up to find a number of our ornaments stripped off the tree.  Then they are hidden throughout the house.  After searching through the usual hiding places, I decorate the tree once more.  You see, during the night my cat manages to snatch these ornaments off the tree and then he distributes them to various hiding places in the house.  I will find them under chairs in our great room, behind the dryer, between the couch cushions.  Afterwards I replace them on the Christmas tree with the expectation that I will do this all over again the next morning. 

I guess I could place the ornaments higher in the tree, or take them off completely, but then what would I do in the morning?  All of us wake up daily and look for the ornaments to decorate the tree once more.    It is a tradition the is uniquely ours, and I think that my cat likes to involve the entire family, he makes sure that no one is left out.  It is always good to keep traditions alive.   Merry Christmas!  Enjoy the Season!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I just read a story about Rev. Jerry Falwell and Sen. Ted Kennedy.  Reverend Falwell was a Baptist preacher and founder of the Moral Majority.  Senator Kennedy was a democratic senator and a big player in fighting for same-sex marriages, abortion and government funded health care.  Both were extremely outspoken and controversial.  Both had loyal followers and equally loyal detractors.  By all accounts these two men should have been enemies.  They met at a rally where they both were invited to speak.  Sen. Kennedy was invited to have dinner with the Falwells that night and from that time on a friendship was forged between these two unlikely men.  When Kennedy's elderly mother was sick, he called the reverend and asked for prayer.  When the reverend ended up in the hospital with severe pulmonary edema, the senator's letter was the first to arrive at the hospital.  The story that I mention here was written by Reverend Falwell's son, who tells another story of how he ended up at the same law school that Kennedy attended because of the senator's recommendation.  I love this story of unlikely friendship.  It is an example of what seems to be missing in our country these days.  A certain definition of "tolerance" that, by all accounts no longer applies.  When did the meaning of "tolerance" veer away from meaning "I don't agree with you but I still respect and care for you..." to " You need to embrace every nuance of my agenda or you are a bigot, fear-monger, conservative, republican, liberal, hater, ideologue, racist..."?

I have been thinking about the name of our country, almost nonstop as the elections wrap up.  I have deep concern, and it isn't political, it isn't who is in control to House or the Senate.  My concern is about losing the reality of our nation's name.  What has happened to the UNITED States of America?  I have watched in alarm as we are taking sides in every way possible.  I have seen us more and more polarized than ever, and it is very unsettling.  I live in dread that it might take a tragedy of 9/11 proportions for us to remember that we are still Americans; we are still "one nation under God". We have begun to judge one another in the shallowest ways possible and fully believe that we are justified.  As I have endured those awful campaign commercials, dragging their opponent's character through the mud, I feel like I am voting between guests on the Jerry Springer Show.  What baffles me is that this isn't that first election that these commercials have appeared.  Does that mean that political strategists have proof that these commercials actually work?  There is such angst in these elections, and it is just a symptom of what is happening to us as well.  I do not want to be known as a conservative, republican, Hispanic woman.  I want to be known as a child of God, a loving wife and a dedicated mother, and if there is anything I can do for anyone, I will do it.  And I pray that my democratic sign-waving neighbor will gladly and lovingly accept me in my hour of need.  I dare to fantasize that we can have a thriving friendship where we can talk, laugh, cry and build each other up. 

I beg those that have actually lasted to this point in the blog to deliberately remind yourselves that we live in the "United" States of America.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Fruit of My Labor

I have been in my garden making preparations for winter.  Every October I have a mixture of sadness and relief.  I have to confess that I am not a happy gardener; I am reluctant and resentful.  The only reason I have a garden is because I am motivated by guilt.  You see the previous owners of our home, put in a beautiful garden with raised flowerbeds and a fence that borders the garden.  The entrance is covered by a wisteria plant and there are raspberry bushes, blueberry bushes, herbs, flowers and an area for vegetables too.  I didn't (and still don't) have the heart to let it go to seed, so every spring I enter into the gardening season with determination that this year...I will win.

I have been a little unnerved when I am in my local nursery and see those decorative signs that read "Paradise started in a garden..." or have other messages that ooze with the joy of gardening.  I have yet to share in those, every time I enter my garden, I do a cross check to see if I am armed for the upcoming battle.  I have seen improvement in my mindset; after the first year, I made peace with the fact that the plants are not my enemies, although they can be rebellious like teenagers.  The second year I successfully identified my enemies, and although insects are high on that list, it was the shy, wide eyed, innocent-looking deer and those cute fuzzy, cuddly rabbits that topped my most-wanted list.  The nursery called them "pests"; I prefer the name "terrorists".  Here are some interesting facts about deer and rabbits:  Deer not only like raspberry bushes, they have an affinity for roses.  They will not eat the bush but they pop off the blooms and then leave their tracks everywhere.  Something I have against rabbits is this:  They don't usually go after my carrots which I planted extra of in order to "share" with the local wildlife, they loved my tomatoes.  I would find the debris of the previous night's feeding frenzy the following morning when I went to water.  They are wasteful, sloppy eaters who never had their conscience quickened by the "starving children in Africa" speeches we all got as kids.

I stood in my garden this past week and thought of the bounty that it produced this year:  10 tomatoes from six plants, some sugar snap peas, and two apples.  I assessed the amount of labor that went into that produce and was overwhelmed with gratitude that the Lord chose me to be born at such a time as this, when there are produce stands, farmer's markets, and grocery stores.  I also gave thanks that those I love do not have to survive off of my crops because we wouldn't have lasted the first winter.  I know I will continue to try and learn.  I am determined that one day I will walk into my local nursery and not cause the salesmen to cringe.  I will object louder next February when my husband attempts to prune the apples trees with a chainsaw...again.  I will remember which insects I bought the pest spray for last year...and why.  I will speak much quieter next August when I am standing in the middle of my garden and wondering what it would look like as a half-court basketball court.  I will look upon it as a place to sow and reap and not a place to sweat and curse.

I am not sure whether I will ever be a person who would garden for stress relief , especially since most of mt stress starts in the garden.  But I believe that there is hope and I will stop looking at my gardening tools as weapons and my pest control as chemical warfare.  And maybe, just maybe, I can read a sign about Paradise and gardens and find some kind of agreement.