Thursday, February 25, 2010

Beautiful Blogger

I momentarily surfaced from my happy "All-Olympics-all-the-time-especially-when-it-comes-to-curling-and-hockey" Bubble to discover that the most exciting things can happen when one steps away for a week.  For example, my dear friend April gave me the Beautiful Blogger award.

April is quite a beautiful blogger herself.  I always love when she leaves me comments, and I often find myself encouraged and uplifted by the things she shares on her own blog:  2SlicksGoodTimes.  Thank you April!  (Both for the award and for being a beloved bloggy friend *grin*).

The rules of this award are:
  • Thank the person who nominated you for this award (See above)
  • Copy the award and place it in your blog (Ta-da!)
  • Link the person who nominated you for this award (Click here for awesomeness)
  • Tell us 7 interesting things about you (I'll do my best)
  • Nominate 7 bloggers and link to their blogs 
Now for the interesting:

I've become NPB Fitness's resident expert on curling.  It all started when I asked the manager if I could change on channel to catch a game.  Then a crowd gathered, mostly confused about the strange sport on the channel I refused to change. Some mocked, some inquired, some just stood there looking like puppies trying to puzzle something out.  Then I started talking.  I explained the basic rules and strategy to those who were already there.  Then more people would come and I would go through the spiel again.  More onlookers, more explanation.  I was fielding questions and putting my two cents in on the strategies of the two teams.  All while working out.  (I'd like to point out that everyone else was just standing there staring while I was running.  *sigh*)  Thankfully, I made enough converts that no one is bothered when I change the channel, or surprised when I time my visits to coincide with curling matches.  And apparently dramatic retellings of that first day have been circling various offices of the business park. 

The Olympic Games captivate my attention.  Probably not a revelation, given my blogging silence since opening ceremonies, but there it is.  I think my channel-surfing skills would make my father proud.  I can toggle between NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, and USA to catch curling, hockey, and the headline sports at the same time.  Sunday was my biggest challenge.  But oh the reward!  USA over Canada in hockey.  Need I say more?

I avoid leaving voicemails whenever possible.  I have a tendency to ramble, which I don't like.  Also, I don't like the sound of my voice on a recorder.  In my head, I sound like a responsible adult.  But those on the other end of the line often say I sound much younger.  Like ten years younger than I actually am.  When I hear myself on an answering machine (or recorded anywhere), I tend to agree.  It annoys me a little bit.

I can spreadsheet anything.  I have a file called "Palm Pilot" which proves that statement to be true.  I realize that sounds boring.  I can assure you it's not.

My favorite shoes are starting to fall apart in earnest and I don't know what to do.  Seriously!  I bought them for swing dancing but promptly started wearing them all the time.  Dancing, working, lounging, shopping, trekking across Europe... they're my favorite shoes.

The writing side of my brain has a strange on/off switch that functions on it's own time schedule.  Becoming a blogger has been an amazing thing for me.  I love when I sit down and flesh out the thoughts I've been thinking.  But if my mind isn't in writing mode, there's nothing I can do to force it.  I may have the most inspired idea of all time...but when the brain is off, it's off.  That frustrates me.  I try to remember that there's no pressure here.  I share when I can.  And in all honesty, I wouldn't want to force it...because then it wouldn't be sincere.  Whatever shows up here is true and honest and from my heart.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  When it does turn can be at the most inconvenient time, and I can't fight that either.  It's like that part of my brain demands my full attention.  I have to stop and write and get it all out.  That makes me sound a bit loony huh?  Trapped by the whims of one's own rambling head.

A seventh thing.  Hmmm.... Asparagus is my favorite vegetable.  In face, one of the many things I love about my Twiga herd is our communal love of asparagus.  If we ever have a gathering, bringing a bunch of asparagus is always a safe bet.  The bearer will most certainly be greeted with cheers and applause.  Yes my friends, it's the deep things that bind. *wink*

Now to pass it forward:
Katie at *Explanation Required. Katie is my fellow spoon in a land of forks.  She'll know what I mean. :-)
Marie over at Spun By Me. I'm so grateful for Marie.  We truly have a bloggy friendship.
Johnny at I Hack Stuff.   I'm proud of what Johnny and his family are doing in Uganda.
Heather at Age30Books.  I get so many good ideas from what she reads, and I love hearing the tales of her book club.  They really have their act together!
Carlos Whittaker at Ragamuffin Soul. He's a complete stranger, but his blog is awesome.

The last two are shameless attempts to get my friends to re-enter the blogging world...the posts may be few...but beautiful nonetheless!
Mandy at the Internet Mandy Database.
Christine at Spill The Beans.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I'm not normally one to post videos. But these two get me.  *right here*


Two years ago:  Caffeine and sugar.  Last year:  Hurry.  This year:  Convenience. 

I use my credit card for everything.  I like having everything on one bill at the end of the month.  I like the points I get to redeem later for gift cards (Amazon...*happy sigh*).  And if I'm honest, I LOVE the convenience of not carrying cash.  Just swipe and go. 

Also, if I'm really honest with myself, I have to admit that I've become far too used to spending.  I buy something almost every day.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a responsible spender.  I have an allowance that I stick to (most of the time).  But budget isn't the point.  It's the habit of swiping that card.  Just because I can.  And just because I know I'll get points for "free" things later.  It's quick.  It's easy.  It's the American way.

So... *insert dramatic drum-roll here*  Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm giving up my credit card for Lent. 

I'm giving up the convenience. I'm giving up the points.  And every time I find myself annoyed by the extra time and hassle, I hope it will remind me of all the "inconveniences" experienced on my behalf.  Jesus emptied every savings account and gave all he had in one big charge....racking up enough reward points so I could have the greatest free gift eternity could offer.

I think I can live without my credit card for a few weeks. 

(This will be a good chance for me to live up the moniker "Tenacious G.")

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Take Hold

It's close to the end of an epic journey.  Two companions have traveled impossible distances and weathered incalculable trials, all while one has carried an increasingly heavy load.  But all of that is behind them.  They're beaten up, worn out, and barely hanging on, but finally the finish line in sight.  In fact, the finish line has technically been crossed, but the danger is far from over.

Because one of them is dangling over a cliff and a lake of lava is waiting below.  You can picture the scene.  The faithful companion has his hand, but he's slipping.  Partially because there's a bunch of blood making his whole arm slippery, and partially because he isn't making any effort of his own to hold on.  He's not gone.  But he doesn't have anything left.

But something changes.  Maybe it's the sheer determination in his companion's voice, or the love he see's on the companion's dirty tear-stained face.  But he goes from acceptance of the fall, to fighting for that life-saving hold.  And once they're both invested, after a little struggle, they both make it back up on the ledge and out of the doomed cave.

That's the picture I get in my head when I read: "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." (Phil 3:12)

He's already taken hold of it.  I just have to take hold of him.  Ignoring the danger below.  Disregarding the mess I've made of and for myself.  Just looking up to see the love, compassion, and determination on his face, and daring to take hold of him the way he's taken hold of me.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Plowed In

Maryland is receiving record-breaking snowfalls this year.  And with the snow comes the dig out.  And with digigng out comes the snow plows.  (Which usually leads to more digging out.  It's a vicious circle.)  On one hand, I'm extreamly grateful for those men and women working to keep our roads clear.  On the other hand, it can be a frustrating waiting game, and then a sometimes more frustrating dig-out from what the plows leave behind. 

Let me be clear:  I'm thankful for the plows.  But the following thoughts came to me after I had to dig through another two feet of ice and snow that was plowed onto my driveway and sidewalk this morning...after I dug out Saturday...and Sunday...and dug out my parents...twice (The second time through at least six feet of snow sometimes four feet high.  Thank you plows)...and a family friend...and my neighbor.  *sigh*  I suppose they're not calling it the snowpocalypse for nothing.

In any case:  Deep thoughts from being plowed in.

Do it right the first time.  While digging myself back out from a new mountain of snow displaced from the middle of the street, I kept thinking...I wouldn't be in this position if the plow had got it all the first time.  Where possible, as much as you can, I think it's important to do a job right the first time.  Don't stop halfway through.  Clearing one lane isn't good enough.  If you stop clearing snow before you've reached all the way down to the pavement, you'll regret it later.  Do it right.  Do it all the way.  And do it the first time.  It's true in snow removal.  It's true in life.

Sometimes, it's more than one pass can handle.  Some messes, some habits, some projects...they take more than one pass.  For example:  record-breaking snowfalls.  Sometimes there isn't enough time (or enough strength) to just go and go until it's all clear.  When that's the patient.  Do what you can.  Take care of the essential roads first.  Rest.  Then come back and clear some more. 

Where do you put this stuff?  We all have snow we need to plow.  "Stuff" that rains down and clogs our path and makes the way treacherous.  Stuff we need to tenaciously remove.  But where does it go?  When I shovel snow off my driveway, I'm careful to put it in my yard.  I can't just shovel it out in the street.  It takes some level of conscientious effort to make sure your mess doesn't end up in someone else's space.  But what happens when there's no room?  Shoveling back out today, I kept trying to be patient.  After all, it's not the plow's fault that the snow had to come off the road, and by pushing it off the road it ended up filling in all the spaces I had cleared.  The snow had to go somewhere.  (Though, it did make me think about kids who clean their room by stuffing everything in the closet.)  For issues that require a lot of clearing and re-working, I think we need to be extra patient with each other.  Stuff has to go somewhere. Which leads me to...

By our powers combined.  (We are Captain Planet!  Sorry.  Couldn't resist.)  I do some.  The plows do some.  I do some more.  Neighbors come together and bring to life the adage "many hands make light work."  It's a beautiful thing, even if it is a bit of a vicious circle at times.  Some piles we can't handle on our own.  And there are times when I know I'm being messy and spilling my mess into someone else's space.  (You know what I mean?)  But if I can extend a little patience and lend a helping hand, perhaps I'll find the same when I need it.

Every shovel-full helps.  This is the mantra that has kept me going.  No matter how small, every shovel-full helps.  Sometimes you may feel like you're facing down a mountain.  A mountain that keeps returning no matter how many times you clear it out.  But every shovel-full helps.  It may feel like you're on a treadmill, like you're fighting the same battle, like you're going no where fast. But that's not true.  While the pile in front of you may look the same, what you may not see is the growing pile on either side from the stuff you've already cleared and conquered.    Take heart!  Every teeny tiny bit is getting you closer to solid pavement and a clear road ahead.

Snowmageddon continues.  More snow is falling even as I type.  And I think I just heard a plow go by...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snowed In

Plato once said, "A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something."

I suppose that makes me half-wise right now. Because I have things to say...but I'm not exactly in writing mode (despite being snowed in with nowhere to go)...but I'd like to be a good blogger and post every few days. So here's my compromise.

The *last* time I was ordered to sit down and watch the world go by, I was enjoying the view from my friend's porch in Ireland. (Today, it's not a friend, but rather Mother Nature who has ordered me to sit down and pause. But I digress.) Remembering that day made me remember that I never followed through with my promise for pictures and stories from my European adventure.

So here are a few snippets from my exploits on the other side of the pond. A story from each stop:
Stop 1:  Bitburg, Germany.  Only in Germany do they leave their castles unattended.  Here Haji sits triumphantly atop the tower of the upper castle in Manderscheid, Germany.  The lower castle was closed, but the tourist office informed us that the upper one was still open.  We soon discovered why.  It's only accessibly by a treacherous walking path.  No wonder it is always open!  When we finally made our way up the path (with a stroller no less), there was no door or signage or anything.  Just the castle.  We roamed through the ruins, enjoyed the view, and climbed all the way to the top of the tower....all with no other people in sight.  It really felt like we were breaking in, or jumping back in time.  My friend Dan and I kept joking about looking out for Orcs or seeing the beacons of Gondor.  There was a flag pole at the very top of the tower, so we both took pictures like we were Mario.  (Of course, the Princess was in another castle.)  It was a great day.

Stop 2:  Kaiserslautern, Germany.  It was during my time in Kaiserslautern that I truly fell in love with Germany.  I'll tell you why:  Christmas Markets!  Nearly every town has one.  There's food and crafts and sweets and decorations and concerts.  And Gluwein!  In fact, each Christmas Market has their own signature mug.  My friend Jess and I joked that while our mothers would certainly go home with a collection of corny mugs, *we* would certainly never fall to their tempation.  Famous last words.  Jess is an adventurous nomad like and me.  We went to four markets (in three countries) in two days and racked up quite a collection for ourselves.  Here's Haji with the one that started it all.

Stop 3:  London, England.  Potential little known fact about me:  I love William Wilberforce.  If you don't know who he is, I highly recommend that you read the book Amazing Grace and find out more.  He's just a brilliant human being.  My to do list in London was pretty short.  Find Platform 9 3/4, and visit Westminster Abby to see the Wilberforce memorial.  Now that I've been to London, I would also add "eat at an Indian restaurant" to the list.  The Indian cuisine in London is the best in the world.  (At least, that's what I was told, and after eating at this place near the Royal Opera I would fully agree.)  This story makes the cut because while we were eating, I recognized a song that was playing on the restaurant's sound system.  I can't even tell you what the name of the song is, but I can tell you what movie it's from.  I can even tell you the scene of the movie.  I *may* even be able to mimic a few of the dance moves from the scene.  I have officially watched way too many Bollywood films.

Stop 4:  Cork, Ireland.  Ireland might have been my favorite stop of all.  My friend lives on the coast, and when I first saw the view...I wondered how he and his wife ever leave.  It's just breathtaking.  (Bonus tidbit:  you can see the island from which the Titanic set sail on it's doomed voyage from their house.)  Anyway, no trip to Southern Ireland would be complete without a stop at the famous Blarney Castle.  So Haji and I set off to find the castle...and kiss the stone of course.  To kiss the Blarney stone, you have to take off anything "dangly" - glasses, bags, umbrellas, etc.  I sat my collection of stuff to the side and had my fun snogging the stone.  But as I was re-situating myself as a sort of one woman traveling pack-horse, the catcher asked me if my giraffe would like to kiss the stone as well.  (My purse works very well as a sort of pet carrier, with Haji's head poking out the top of the large pocket.)  I'm not kidding.  HE brought it up!  Naturally, I said Haji would be very delighted.  (Actually, I first asked him if he was serious.  It was only after our mutual insanity was confirmed that I got super giddy and said that it would be great.)  They held him down there and let him kiss the stone while I took a picture.  He's not the first stuffed traveling companion to take the plunge, but he IS the first giraffe.  No baloney.

So there you have it.  A much overdue retelling of some of the tomfoolery Haji and I shared last fall.  Now I'm back to the adventure of the day:  Snowpocalypse/Snowmageddon/Blizzard of 2010.

I hope you're warm and cozy.  Wherever you are.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Follow through

Deep thoughts from a recent bowling excursion:

The biggest enemy of a strike?  That one last pin.  (This one is courtesy of my dad.  He made this statement after he had a particularly frustrating string of frames.  That silly 9-pin has a stubborn streak and just alludes him sometimes.)  But it made me think of another bit of wise knowledge:  goodness is the biggest enemy of greatness. As a recreational, every-once-in-a-while bowler, it would be very simple for me to be happy with getting those nine pins.  But that's not the object of the game.  And it's not how you get the big scores.  Whatever it is you're going after, go for all ten pins.

You can throw as many balls as you want, but you'll never improve your aim if you don't follow through.  You won't get the strike if you don't throw the ball, true.  But if you don't use good form and follow through, it really doesn't matter how many times you make the throw.  If you get knocked down, get back up.  But don't be halfhearted.  Make sure you follow through.  Don't just pitch an idea, create a plan and carry it through.  Don't just let that person cross your mind, pick up the phone and get in touch.  Don't let a bad day derail you, hang in there for the next frame.  Finish what you start. And finish with good form.  That's how you'll catch that pesky 9-pin (along with all the others), and get the strike you've been chasing all game.