On the Train to Minot

I have a difficult time sleeping on trains or planes. I can be as tired as a 3 year old who has been up all day without a nap, after running around outside all day, sitting at the dinner table falling asleep in their peas tired. But as soon as I try to fall asleep. Nothing. Nada. No sheep coming to visit me.
Part of the problem lies in the fact that I need to sleep lying down. Since January of this year, I have been sleeping with my head raised. It started when I was diagnosed (incorrectly, since the real problem was I had the flu) with acid reflux. I got a wedge for my bed and so now I no longer sleep completely flat. One issue this has resolved is my snoring so my husband thanks the doctor for his misdiagnosis. This was fine for the first few months. However, lately part-way through the night I adjust my pillow all the way down off the wedge and sleep flat. I am so much happier.

So, you can see my predicament trying to sleep on the train on my recent trip from Saint Paul, MN to Minot, ND. Hey! Look at these seats! Plenty of leg room, little foot rests, seats that recline to almost the same angle as my wedge and the best part - the leg rest you can adjust upwards to support your lower legs (which was not discovered right away.) Well, this seems comfortable. I’m sure I’ll be able to sleep this time!

Wrong. This is how my night progressed:

Stage One: Figure out how to get the foot rest on the seat in front of me down. Put feet on foot rest. Pretty comfortable but about 1/2 inch too short with my legs stretched completely out in front of me. Then my legs start to get a bit uncomfortable because I haven’t yet discovered the leg rest.

Read more: On the Train to Minot

2015 Really Starts Today

Yes, I know January 1st was last Thursday but really, we can't count that day as the start of the new year because it is a holiday and Friday all I was doing was working on stuff to close out 2014 and then it was a weekend.  So, I am officially announcing that TODAY is actually the first day of the New Year.  So, for all of you that have already broken your New Year's resolutions you are in luck!  We are starting over!

Actually, every day we start over.  We've all heard that a million times - every day is a brand new slate (or maybe we should update that to every day is a brand new FB post? A brand new Word document?  What has replaced a blackboard slate that students used to use in the classroom?)  I digress.  A lot when I'm writing.  That is how my brain works.  Oh, I got another idea!  I need to act on it right away!  Gosh knows if I will remember it again!

Ok, so today is a new day.  I have a framed quote by Henry David Thoreau on a shelf at the top of my stairs - "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you imagined."  The image is made of wild flowers and leaves.  The image though intrigues me.  I'm not sure if it was intended as shown or if somehow a mistake was made.  If you look at the image one of the long leaves is bent and then one of the flowers is lower, not part of the core group.  I like it this way.  Not some perfect cluster of flowers. And I think that is why I like it with this quote.

I think far to often the life we imagine is perfect.  Why not imagine a life where everything works the way you want?  That's what imagination is for right?  To dream of the perfect life where we accomplish everything we ever want.  But I think that sets us up for failure.  Because life isn't perfect.  We don't always get everything we imagine - or at least not in the way we have perfected it in our imagination.

Perfect is word that is like truth.  We each have our own definition of the perfection of something.  I would like to propose that we alter our definition of "perfection."  We equate the word "perfect" to mean flawless, absolutely no blemishes or faults.  Well, that is one definition of the word.  Yet if you look at all the definitions for the word you find that "perfection" can also mean being as free as possible from flaws or defects.  That "perfect" also means "exactly fitting the need in a certain situation." So that gives us more breathing room.  We get to decide what perfect means in our imagined life. The image of the wildflowers to me is perfect because it has the perceived flaws.

So, imagine again that life in your dreams.  Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you imagined.


PS - GreenWonders was the name of the company on the back of my frame but their website is no longer valid.  The image was handmade with real flowers and leaves made from abaca, rice straw and other natural fibers.  Tree-free and acid-free.

Sad Day

I received a call this morning from my cousin Kate that my cousin Mark had died earlier this morning in a car accident.  We are all in shock.  Mark had just turned 50 this month.

Death is such a natural part of living but it still hits you in the gut anytime it happens.  My friend Cheryl recently talked about death by saying it's not something you can come back from so you better treasure every moment you have now.  We hear this all the time.  Live life to its fullest.  Live every moment as if it were your last.  Enjoy every day fully.  But how many of us really do?

Mark was full of life.  My memories of Mark are always of him with a smile on his face, making everyone laugh along with him.  I have several Karaoke memories of Mark.  We sang a very bad rendition of Love Shack once. Oh it was so very terrible.  But we laughed it off and kept on going.

In my 20's and 30th's I ran into him more than the past 10 years - weddings, family gatherings, Steele County Fair.   Once Grandma and Grandpa Powell passed away we didn't have much where all the cousins still got together.  Thanks to my brother Trent, most of the cousins were together this summer at the 150th Annual Horse Theives Detective Picnic on the 4th of July.  There are wonderful pictures of Mark at that event.  We all had a blast reliving our childhood in the various games played - egg toss, water balloon toss, pie eating contest.  And he had fun sharing that with his son Torrin.

That's the one great thing about family.  You can go forever without seeing each other and then be back together as though no time has passed.  There was a meme passed around on Facebook about the bond of cousins and I know I have been blessed to have such wonderful memories growing up with bushels of cousins.  We are spread all over the country now but thanks to the internet and various family web sites and now Facebook it is great to see all the daily goings on of each other.  And now to watch the next generation too.  How blessed we are.

Mark's untimely passing will leave a hole in our souls.  The hole will eventually heal but the scar will stay with each one of us. But it's a badge of honor we will carry around proudly.

Rest in Peace Mark.  Know that you are loved by many.

A Sign from Mr. Pi

Last night the hole in my heart left by Mr. Pi pulled open a bit and my heart ached.  I hadn't cried for awhile but the tears flowed last night as I went to bed.  I just kept replaying that last day over an over in my mind.  That last time he stretched up to give me kisses and how helpless I felt watching him as he got weaker and weaker, unable to stand on his own.  Tomorrow will be the six month anniversary of his passing.

Mr. Pi loved everyone and every creature.  He loved going and visiting the bunnies in a cage a few blocks away.  He loved going to the dog park and running as fast as he could.  He loved visiting various friends we have when we take our walks.  And everynight, he would curl up on the end of our bed.  Many nights Mike and I tried to sqeeze in a place for our own bodies, not wanting to disturb Mr. Pi.

Read more: A Sign from Mr. Pi

My Wife's Name was Marion

"My wife's name was Marion.  She died this year."  Stella overheard this as she sat having lunch in the United Church Dining hall at the Minnesota State Fair.  Stella liked stopping in the dining hall for her lunch.  It was a quiet respite from the business of the fair and the food they served reminded her of sitting down at her grandmother's table.  She always took one vacation day from her job at the financial services firm to spend it at the fair.

Read more: My Wife's Name was Marion

Open Letter to Oprah Winfrey and OWN Network Executives

Dear Oprah and other OWN network executives.

I have had two very negative experiences with your OWN channel.  The first took place when I recently watched the documentary Miss Representation on your network.  I was thrilled to be able to see it.  However, as soon as the commercials came on the majority of the commercials were all promoting weigh loss or anti-aging - commercials aimed at telling women that their is someting wrong with their appearance and it should be changed. The commericals were promoting products that perpetuated the issues the documentary was talking about.  I was appalled that you would choose to allow these advertisers on during this amazing documentary about how females are represented in the media.

The second negative experience came when I watched the documentary, Dark Girls - another topic I think is so very important.  During the film, they brough up the issue of how people all over the world are using "whitening" creams to try and make their skin lighter.  And then, what was the first commercial that came on after that section?  A commercial for a product to reduce dark spots on you skin - a skin whitening product.  Outrageous.

What kinds of sales people are you hiring?  I see you announced that OWN recently made a profit.  Really?  Are you proud of this when you are effectively destroying the messages that you - Oprah - are trying to promote?  I realize you need advertisers but I think a little extra time could have been spent on finding appropriate advertisers for these two documentaries.

I will no longer be watching OWN when these wonderful documentaries or any other program air.

Moon Reflections

The sun had just set but the moon had already been up for hours. It sat high in the sky. Almost full, but not quite. She didn't notice this nearly full moon above her but saw it shimmering on the river. The evening river was very calm with a few ripples that made the moon's reflection dance and catch her eye through the leafless branches on the river bank. It was still such a clear sky. One week into November, a month that is normally the gloomiest, cloudiest, wettest, saddest month and here once again the sky was cloudless, the air was crisp and dry and even the color on the leaves made the mood warm and cheerful. Tonight she made sure to take the extra time to walk the dogs a little longer than normal. They had already walked nearly an hour this morning but with the weather so nice she wanted to take advantage of every moment she could while the fall weather still remained.

Read more: Moon Reflections

...and forgive us our trespasses

To those who say the Our Father prayer, you know this line.  The harder line for me is what follows - as we forgive those who trespass against us.  I really do think about these words each time I say this praryer - which apparently isn't often enough.

The hardest thing for me, and I'm sure many of you reading this, is to let go of my percieved faults in other.  And I have pretty petty things that I need to forgive.  And, I may perceive an action as a trespass against me but in reality, it's me that is not being either patient, or tolerant or understanding enough.

Read more: ...and forgive us our trespasses