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The Story behind the Story

I have always been that girl. That writer. The one that is more interested in the story behind the story. That thing that reveals itself in some little way.. as if it is just dying to get out. I cannot think of a time when, as a writer, I went to an interview and left with only the story that I came for. Almost always, after talking with the one being interviewed, in passing they will offer up some little tidbit and…….

Just like that.. I am off.. Like a little rabbit heading down a rabbit hole. The story of how someone got where they are, is always more interesting to me than where they currently are. But, this weekend as I shot balloons for the 20-something season, it was the river that held my attention.

Our beautiful Yakima River that divides our town was buzzing with paddle boards, kyacks, and the like. Something, that hasn’t been the norm. For years our little part of the river sat quietly. Sadly so. As beautiful as the balloons are… and have been, it was the new birth on the river that held my attention. I found myself wondering what had changed? Why all of the sudden had people taken to the river? While even in my own little circle water sports have become the thing to do, I guess I was still surprised by it. In a good way. Thrilled really; unlike the geese whose paradise had been interrupted.

Today’s events reminded me of this one simple truth… things change. And often they do so, without us knowing the full reason as to why they did. Not needing our permission or approval, or even our personal involvement.

As I sat on the banks of the river I felt an odd comfort in knowing that it is still true that behind every good story, is another story.

More photos can be viewed here. : https://photos.app.goo.gl/yvHn1JvZF5XKqYKC9

Up Up and…….

Every year it’s the same conversation with myself. The inward dialog of, “not this year, I’m not photographing the balloons again this year.” I plot sitting on my deck with my favorite coffee cup filled to the brim and simply watch them glide past. By 6 am the morning of, my eyes wide open… and my camera is calling. I know that if I’m going to shoot, it has to be today. Tomorrow gets to “peopley” so, on go the shoes. Even as I’m heisting myself into my truck the thought… “how many balloon photos does one actually need?” Of course it’s a rhetorical question, is there an actual answer for that? I’m guessing, no! Of course the balloons don’t disappoint. As I was standing on the bridge gazing west, waiting for the first balloon to lift off… I glanced East….. below there were a number of fisherman… seemingly unaware that their routine was about to be inundated by balloons and people and….. as they watched me… watch them… one yelled out, “don’t jump you’ll scare the fish.” His face showed his pride in his humor. I smiled back and assured him his fishing would not be interrupted by me today. I yelled back, “do you know what’s about to happen? He seemed perplexed. I turned away, smiling, happy for what was about to happen.

I crossed back over the bridge facing west as the first balloon began to fill with air…. Snapping photos as it went up… and inched it’s way to where I was. As one crossed above, to my delight a squeal from below… I stumbled back over to see the fisherman delight in the sites. As his gaze met me again, I said… “You’ll scare the fish,” he laughed.

Too many photos later, I walked back to my truck, jumped in, and began negotiating the traffic back to my house grateful that I chose to get up this morning, and make my way down to watch an event I’ve watched so many times before. Still able to find the wonder in it. Still able to capture the moments. Present enough to let the fisherman become part of my story of the day, and me his.

Life offers us so many sweet moments if we are willing to take them. Even if they come wrapped in a way that deceives us into thinking we’ve been there and done it. It was a great start to my day. So up up and away.

Crazy Town

To say that the last year has been crazy seems like such an understatement. I’m tired. I feel worn out. Battered, bruised. I find myself needing to remind myself (often) that I am still standing, and that means something.

The world seems crazier. And, not in a good way. But rather in an out-of-controlled, messy way, and my fix-it personality seems to be struggling between jumping in and staying out.

I have needed more time in the mountains, finding quiet moments at the ocean, listening to the cries of the seagulls and crashing waves.

For perhaps the first time in my life, I feel like I’m staring down two paths, without the energy to choose either one. I know eventually, I will have to get up and take one on… but for today, I feel pretty content postponing it all until I feel stronger. Struck by how content I feel among the wild things. For it is here that I worry less, breathe deeper, and feel hopeful.

I know the key for my next season is to find more moments in the wild and less time in crazy town.

She May Be Small……

“She may be small, but she is fierce.” When I was a young mom, I grabbed ahold of the scripture that says, “Bring up a child in the way that they should go and they will not stray from it.” Proverbs 22:6 I am not saying I did it well. And I am certainly not saying that it is easy. Nor am I saying let them do what they do… there is some trimming away that needs to happen. But, what I did learn is that not all littles are the same, and not all littles respond the same to instruction…. But as parents the things we value is up to us to pass on. Not teachers, not Sunday school teachers or preachers…. But us, as parents.

I spent a few hours with my three of my grandchildren recently. And as I negotiated with this little, I was reminded of how grateful I am that she is fiercely independent, just as I was parenting her dad and his brothers. In an ever increasing world where conformity is trying to be forced, I cannot help but to find refuge in the fact that there are still little ones, and their parents, who are still willing to do the hard work to help sculpt independent thought.

I remember trying to find the balance between allowing them to be independent and at the same time insure that they are respectful. As I heard her older brother correct some of her “stuff” I knew that she was getting the instruction she needed. I also knew, that her heart will be a great leader.

As she blew her dandelion seeds, sorry dad, I couldn’t help but think of all the little ones who like those seeds will take root and bless all those who see them.

As a side note… I am drinking dandelion tea as I type this.. It will be my job as her granny to remind her, like my tea, her little life will be comfort and healing to those who are willing to try something out of the ordinary. There is so much in todays world to be worried about, but I came away feeling like hope still springs…. Now, lets leave them world that is worth fighting for.

I CAN

I had the very distinct pleasure of meeting this little cowgirl yesterday. In her four years she was more “cowboy” than most adults. As I watched her get pushed aside by the big people, thinking she was just to little, or too young, or….. I over heard her, under her breath, assure herself , I CAN!.

I admired her determination. I admired her ability to not let the well meaning opinions of others break her spirit. She came to “cowboy” and she was determined to do just that. Inch by inch I watched her adjust to be able to feel as if she had purpose in her being there.

I found myself drawn to her… this four year.. teaching me life lessons.

Most of my life my own insecurities echoed back to me through the words of others, or through a look… or a sense that if they had the courage to actually vocalize their passive assessments of whether they thought I would succeed or not, their words would mimic my own fears. It took me years to get to where it seems this four year old was starting.

Whose to say who we get to be? Whose to say what we get to contribute? Whose to say that what we bring to the table is enough or that it isn’t? As so brilliantly displayed yesterday, it is all about the internal dialog that we have with ourselves.. although a few kind words, and knowing nods from others certainly doesn’t hurt.

I made a new friend yesterday, her name is Maisy! My new mantra is to “do it like Maisy,” and even through the noise of doubters, tell myself… I CAN!

Intentions

It isn’t enough to have good intentions. . . Those intentions need to be followed through with action. This past week I said to my friend, “I am going to spend more time doing the things I love..” Mostly, to me that means photographing my friends and family doing the ranching life, and spending more time down the dirt roads. In the last year or so, I am gotten away from doing that.. I am not sure why. I cannot even blame COVID.. rather it has been getting caught up in doing things that do not feed my soul. .. So the intention was set.

It did not take long for me to have to decide if it was just a thing I blurted out.. or it I was going to actually change things up enough to make the time to be purposeful about it. Because it does take time to give priority to those things we deem important. And, putting them on the back burner is also a choice. Those choices often have little to do with anything other than keeping our own intentions in accountability. It comes down to are we willing to walk in integrity to our own intentions. Even if we are fortunate to have people in our lives who love us enough to remind us of our own self commitments…… In the end, it is a self conversation and the knowledge of whether we can trust our own intentions, trust our own commitment to those things we tell ourselves that we want to do, or that we want to become.

I am still becoming….

Groom Texas-

My Journey through DREAM BIG by Bob Goff

Chapter 3 – GET UNDER THE ICE CAP

In Bob Goff’s Book Dream Big -The Author reminds us to “Keep asking the important questions.” And, those questions are “Who are you? Where are you? and What do you want.” He opens up the chapter talking about a ghost town in CA that was up for auction, the name of the town just happened to be Goffs. His sir name. How could he not bid? He goes on to opine about all the wonderful things he will do if he wins that little town… “I’ll be Mayor”, he declared.

On our recent trip through Texas we stumbled on a little town called Groom Texas. Actually, we stumbled across it while mapping out our trip. We knew it was going to be out of the way an hour or so, but we still wanted to say that we were there. So we made the extra pilgrimage. And, it did not disappoint. Groom Texas was this quaint little sleepy town, that is so many ways reminded us of the little town in Washington that my husband and his family call home.

Our visit compelled us to ask questions. Who was the town named after? and as the miles passes we learned more and more about the English Cattle Baron and his little town in Texas. I read everything I could find on him, his life, what brought him to Texas, where he got his money and on and on and on… The miles between this east Texas town and Fort Worth are a blur as my eyes were peeled to my phone as I soaked it all the information I could find.

As I read chapter three in Dream Big, I was challenged by the thought the author lays out… when was the last time I examined my own life in such a way? When was the last time I sat down and asked of myself.. Who are you? Where are you on your own road of life? and what do you really want?

As I embark down through the pages of this book it has become real that this isn’t going to be one of those easy reads. Goff, like me, writes like he talks.. and that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea… but, I love it. In a good way, he reminds me that we dont need to be “drinkable” for everyone in order for find our place in the world. And, just as it took us being willing to take a side trip in our already very long travels, I cannot help but to feel an excitement welling up in me… an anticipation that in answering those questions will provide an opportunity to become more clear on where I am going. Safe Travels.!

Perspective

It’s easy at times to take things, people for granted. It’s easy to look and see what we want to see. Instead of taking the time to make sure that what we see is really what is. In the hustle and bustle of life… “I’m fine” seems to be either the answer we give to avoid the hard conversations, or the answers we accept to not have to slow down and dig deeper. I have been asking myself today, what IS fine? What does FINE mean? Webster tells that it means, “I am not sick or injured,” leaving a sea of other options that one could be. Sad, mad, frustrated. Hurt, overwhelmed, lonely. Well, the list is endless.

I’m going to find another way to inquire about the well-being of those I love. I do not know yet what that might be… but whatever I land on, I am going to try to make sure that the answer “I am fine” isn’t an option I am willing to accept. I am learning there are more of us that are not fine… especially this year…..

If I walk away from today with any new awareness’s they are these. 1. Christmas miracles are still an active thing….. and 2. Fine isn’t really an answer. Both of these things lead me to this truth… I need a change in perspective.

Thanks Giving

Even in 2020 there is much to be thankful for. 2020 has been a dozy, hasn’t it? Even without a world wide pandemic it has been hard. Our family lost Tom’s dad, and my mom goes further and further into Alzheimer’s.. Tom’s lost a couple childhood friends… and. well it is all hard. But even with it all…. We find so much to be thankful for Our son Cole married the love of his life. In a quiet ceremony that was sweet and intimated, and.. perfect. Luke, Kassie, Everett and Kellie made the trek home for a visit from Texas. Adrian and Zoey bought their first home, we have a new grandbaby due any time, and Tom and I celebrated 36 years….

The Bible tells us to give thanks in everything…. It is a mindset to do so. I have learned, that no matter how hard life feels… or how hard it is… there is always someone dealing with more. And if we stay present, keep our eyes open to the world around us, keep our hearts open, we know that is true.

I am so grateful for the men I have in my life. Our boys have grown into being great men, and they are raising their boys to be great men.. they are also raising strong women who will attract great men. I adore that.

Today as I walked behind Tom, Thomas and Izzy as they searched for the perfect Christmas tree… the scenery was as if we were walking through a picture. And, all I felt was grateful for this life. Our time here is short. And as Thanksgiving Day 2020 is in the rearview mirror…. Find a moment to be thankful for something…. for in giving thanks

Wednesday Coffee

For several years now, pre COVID, I have met with my girlfriends on Wednesday mornings for “coffee.” Two years into our weekly meetings, one of us came to the group and said that she felt God had laid on her heart to organize a family night of Praise during the Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo week. As she laid out the vision we each fell into line to use what ever gifts we had to make her event successful. After all, that is what friends do, right? And, we have that kind of friendship.

This coming August would have been our fourth year. With each new year, we found, while we learned a lot the year before, each event was new. New people to team up with, new challenges. New topics, etc. Each new year we found ourselves waiting on God to direct our paths. It was something we often laughed about, cried about, but became really good at just saying, when others questioned what we were doing, “We don’t know, yet.” Every time, God showed up and didn’t disappoint.

This year started out just like any other, us waiting. God was quiet. And, He remained quiet. We determined early on that we would not take one step, no matter the outside pressure, without hearing from HIM. And, we didn’t.

Today the official word came down that the Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo, like so many others, had been cancelled. As I read the notification, I felt sad. Sad for the athletes that wouldn’t get to compete in the rodeo, sorry for the stock contractors that wouldn’t get paid, sorry for the families whose kids worked so hard on their animals and don’t get to show them. Sad, over the breaking of tradition for our small rural communities that so look forward to this event… but, in the sadness I also felt….. wonder.

I have been a christian for the best part of my life. But, I struggle. Not with the big picture stuff. But rather with the intimate stuff. For example, do I believe that God loves mankind… absolutely. The struggle comes when I have to break it down to, does He love ME. Know ME. Care about how hard life can be on me sometimes. Look, I know the answer is YES, all I am saying is that I struggle with that reality sometimes.

As I was reading about the cancellation of the fair.. and how we girls had purposed to not make a move without being clear about what GOD wanted from us… I was struck by the realization that He knew this is where we would find ourselves. In the middle of phase 1 of COVID and “social distancing.” I believe he also knew the “HARD” this year was bringing to all our lives.

All of my coffee girls are committed to our families. We always put them first. And we honor that in each other. Sometimes that means some of us do the “heavy lifting” with our events while the other is right where they should be… taking care of their kids, or husbands, or extended family or even themselves… We are all very busy ladies. It wasn’t wasted on me that God didn’t waste our time or talent preparing for an event He knew wasn’t going to happen this year.

Our lives would have been so much harder had we gone ahead and moved forward in our own abilities. We could have. We are all talented and capable. But we would have been a mess. Spinning and juggling plates that God never meant for us to spin and juggle.

I miss my girls. Yet, I have discovered that what makes us strong, and what makes us work, we are a unique blend of personalities, is the time we all take to have Coffee with Jesus. And we bring that experience to our Wednesday Coffee.

The Gateway To Success

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I am more and more convinced that EVERY adversity can serve as a gateway in our decision to who we want to be on the other side of it. The challenge, of course , is making sure that we have that particular tool in our belt so that when adversity does show up, we have already decided why it is here. Has it come to do something TO us, or FOR us?

If we choose to believe that it (adversity) comes to do something TO us.. we are victims to, and have little control over, what it does. But, if  we are prepared, and willing to tell ourselves it comes FOR us… it opens us up to all the possibilities that come with it. Then, we are in control of the outcome. Of how we spend the time. And, more importantly, who we are on the other side of it.

The older I get, the more I choose to be around those who, when faced with challenges, can just yell PLOT TWIST… and get a new plan. My kiddos will tell you, I have always been that mom who said, “Get a plan, work the plan until the plan doesn’t work, then get a new plan.”

Plans are great. They are a valuable tool in anyone’s arsenal for success… but so is the ability to shift on a dime. No one I know is living life in plan A.. I do not care what their facebook shows… they are not.

During this Covid 19 episode, we have learned so much about one another. Some of it not so good. Hopefully, we have learned alot about ourselves too. Perhaps not all of it good, too. And with the knowledge of both, we will need to be willing to apply ample grace.

This I know.. no matter what has happened up to today…. In this very moment we have the power to claim that all this is happening FOR us.. and we get to choose who we are going to be on the other side of it. Better? Bitter? Bigger? Smaller? Weaker? Stronger? Trusting? Doubting?

If we choose to be a victim… that choice will rob EVERYTHING from us. If we choose to be victors, we will find a million small adjustments that we can make to turn the tides.. adjusting our choices with the goal being that when this is over we will be better, stronger, willing to trust that whatever comes we have the character to weather it.

There have been aspects of this shutdown that takes me back to an old conversation with an old friend. A topic I have written about a lot.. and honestly one that I thought we (the collective we) had gotten past… but in light of things like snitch lists and secret phone calls and….. Perhaps we have not. The spirit of competitiveness and jealousy is an evil one. I am always astounded by the amount of people who believe that if one of their friends’ is successful, that somehow their success robs others of the chance to find success.  In truth, when one of our friends finds success, it truly is, or can be, a gateway to success for all. It all depends on what we tell ourselves about THEIR success. And the stories we tell ourselves about them, also tell us about ourselves.

It is there we should start if we want to change the direction we find ourselves in. ( may I just add here, “Finding success” is a lie… Success comes from hard work and dedication… part of the deceit is believing that it is simply the luck of the draw.)

I am already regretting that I haven’t spent all of this time that has been given me, through this stay at home stay healthy order, to my advantage. I could have been more purposeful with it. That changes today.

As I look down at my boots, contemplating my  next steps, I feel blessed that I have surrounded myself with amazing people whose success lends light to me “finding” my own.

I hope you too are asking of yourself, “Who am I going to be on the other side of this?” It is only by being willing to ask ourselves the hard questions, and then our willingness to sit with the honest answers, that will move us forward.

It is there,  in those answers, where we will find what is needed, to be able to walk through our own gateway of success.

Overnight Success

Who could have imagined that little old me could, at 58, become an overnight success? Certainly not me. I never had high enough aspirations to achieve such a thing. To some, I am the perfect underachiever. I like life smaller, quieter, less chaotic. I tend to do “gone” better than most. I hate drama and all the storm that it draws. Continue reading “Overnight Success”

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