Lessons Learned

tulips

When I worked at IDC and we’d completed a project, we had a little postmortem.  Sounds gruesome, but hear me out.  We’d get together as a design team and talk about “lessons learned”.  How to handle a client.  How to communicate better.  How to not blame P.A.s for everything.  Stuff like that.

Today marks the first day back to school for the kids.  You might think no schooling happened during this sunny, glorious spring break.  You’d be wrong.  Here are a few things I learned.

1)  Lizards named M.J. (Michael Jackson) do just fine living in a brightly colored box as long as there are holes in the lid.

2)  Though it’s April, clear nights in Shelton still reach the freezing point.  Hence the cozy box for the lizard.

3) You can get a new job just by not leaving your old one.  I’m now the CDBG compliance coordinator for the city *and* the shelter.  Life has flux.

4) Leaving your cars unlocked, sitting in your driveway in a semi-rural community, can make you a target for “car prowls”.   Jonathon’s phone disappeared from our car Saturday night. Thank God for generous brothers who have old phones hanging around.

5) You can make new friends – even as an adult – hanging out in the park.

6) Smart boys do make it to church under their own steam on an early Sunday morning.

7) Funerals should have bright, colorful flowers to match the vibrant personality of the deceased.

8) Watching the golden disk of the sun slip into the ocean’s depths is a beautiful, romantic date. Driving on the beach, however, still makes me cringe.

9) Big brown spiders lurking in the sink flush easily.

10)  To have a house full of family and friends is a great blessing.

What about you?  What did you learn last week?

Spring Fever

I think I’ve got spring fever.  The sun shines.  It’s 53 degrees.  And I hear lawn mowers. I sat outside in a lawn chair and drank a homemade iced coffee.  The birds chirp with purpose.  So very, very nice.  It’s back to rain later this week, but for now…ahhh…

We did a bike/kettlebells interval workout today.  Since I did nothing strenuous yesterday save  matching up socks, I felt it today.  Five minutes on the bike, 6 minutes of kettlebells broken in 45 seconds on and 15 seconds of rest and recovery.  Not that you can do much recovery in 15 seconds, at least not in my experience.

I’m having a difficult time focusing on anything important.  Like ironing or world peace.  I know, how about some internet quizzes?  Yeah!

Which Firefly Character Are You?

Mal

Interesting.  And…

Which “Hunger Games” Character Are You?

You got: Finnick Odair!
Lionsgate

Handsome and charming, of course you’re Mr. Popular. You’ve worked hard to get where you’ve got to and you’re not letting anyone take it away from you. People may mistrust you sometimes but you know you’ll prove them wrong. Everyone benefits from having you around.

Ooh-kay.  Feeling a little  divided here.  Finnick?!  Why not Joanna?  Geez.  Maybe this will help…

Which Muppet Are You?

You got: Scooter

Your life is all about coffee. You’re really, really good at your job and deserve more recognition.

Great.  The most boring muppet ever. But I do love coffee .  I would never be caught dead in that jacket, however.
Let’s sum up.  So, according to this subjective identity analysis, I am a male of some kind.  I’m handsome and popular but also disillusioned and good at my job.  Good call, internet.
Just one more…

Which Disney Princess Are You?

You got: Ariel

You are a dreamer who is always thinking of the next big step in your life. Some may think you have set your sights too high but your friends know you are capable of anything.

I stacked it (a little) this time.  I had to get a female character.  I do love the ocean.  I’m ending on a positive note with this answer.  “Capable of anything”.  That’s the ticket! Thanks, internet, and thank you, friends, for believing in me. Now to find Sebastian…

January Resurrection

Not happening yet, but soon.

Not happening yet, but soon.

It was 25 degrees when I headed out to run today.   A ghostly crescent moon hung in the faded blue January sky.   The sun, eternal  optimist, shone down on the white grass and bushes, desperate to restore them to their glorious green.  The telephone poles dripped as the sun’s warmth melted their icy shells.

I ran a five-mile loop.  The chilly air froze my ears and thumbs. Friends, I did not have turbo legs this morning.  Fine with me.  I made my mileage goal for the week which was 17 miles.  I’m trying to increase slowly so as to avoid injury.  Janathon rocks!

As I plodded along, I pondered death.  January is the heart of winter, the death-like slumber of the natural world. Everything goes dormant, waiting to awake to spring’s warmth.

We’ve heard of so many deaths around us in the last couple of weeks.  Friends of friends, close family of friends, and all of them sudden.  It makes life seem pointless.  What’s it all about?  We’re born, we live and experience a few ups and downs, then we’re gone, like the grass of the field.

All I can say is there’s more to this life, and even more after this life.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth bellow – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39

Though it seems winter will never end, with its relentless cold and inhospitable ground, January makes us look ahead to springtime of this earth and the rebirth of new life. In the winter of our souls, we groan in our spirits to reunite with our missing family and friends.  The great thing about our physical death is that if we’re in Christ, we will rise again.  Separation is temporary. We will live with Him forever in our heavenly bodies.  If our friends and family were believers, we will see them again when we shuffle off this mortal coil.  We look forward to the springtime of our souls, basking in the warmth of God’s love for all eternity.

Running Thoughts

One of my blogging buddies, thedancingrunner, wrote down what she thinks about when she runs.  Here’s what I thought about:

Man, I’m tired.  Wonder how far I can go today?  Is three miles possible?  Note to self:  less jellybeans.

The air smells amazing today.

Is it going to rain?  Please, God, let it hold off a bit more.  Think about the hair.

The apple tree is in bloom!  How lovely.

No hills today.  Nope.  Not gonna happen.

Does the garbage truck know they’re leaving small, disgusting deposits in their wake?

There’s the creek again.  Wouldn’t it be cool if that creek were like the Holy Spirit, running through this town, healing and making people whole?  Revival.  Restoration.  Bring it!

Wonder if anyone will come in under budget on the shelter buildings.

It’s so quiet since school is out this week.  Not as many cars around.

Ooh! More flowers.

There’s a black and white tailless cat! (Squirrel!)

What purpose do barking dogs who are chained up serve?  Yes, you see me.  Thanks for barking.  Your eyes work perfectly.

The track at Loop Field is dry.  Let’s have a lap!

I need to pray for Ruby’s school and teachers more.  (And I did).

I smell donuts!  Evil, evil…

Only 10 more minutes to go.

What should my next story be about?

At least my pants aren’t falling down.

Ruby was listening to Darrell Evans on my mp3 player.  Hmm.  I haven’t listened to him in awhile…

Glorious!  Thank you, God, for my life.  You are so good to me.

Maybe a couple of little hills…

Ruby and Alyssa’s dandelion pile is now a stew.  Gross!

Finito.

Whew!

Running Into Spring

cherry trees

This week, I’ve logged 9 miles. I am up to 3 mile runs.

Whoopee!  You might say.

But there is cause for great rejoicing.  This is the most I’ve run since January 4.  Seriously.  Oh, I’ve been able to run a couple of times a week for short periods over the last 2 weeks.  But always at least one of my legs would act up.  I would put it back down and walk instead.  I have learned the hard way not to push too hard to recover.

This is week 11 since my injury.  Yep.  And I still hurt a little, in my left hip.  But not too bad.

In the past, I would run 20ish miles per week.  And when following the peak marathon training schedule, 40ish miles.  This paltry amount of mileage feels like a drop in the bucket.  It’s nothing to brag about.  But it makes me happy.

What I’m finding is I don’t enjoy it as much anymore.  I like it.  Don’t get me wrong.  But I have found other interests that fill me more, other pastimes to edify me.  I don’t know if I need to race anymore.  Maybe these months of down time have served to get me to refocus on other goals, especially writing.  I’ve also relearned about myself as a human being instead of a human-doing.  I suppose if the desire to race comes reappears, like an exotic, mysterious  bird, then I’ll pursue it.

Spring is the season of hope and new life.  This morning, I saw cherry trees finally, finally starting to blossom.  The magnolia trees have buds on them.  Tiny, starry forget-me-nots dot the neighbor’s lawn.  Daffodils appear like miniature suns.  Is it too self-centered to feel like spring has held off so long in order for me to get strong enough to run outside regularly?  Probably.  For now, it’s enough to be able to run.  I am grateful.

Silent Visitor

Sunday afternoon, I tried to go for a walk. I say “tried” because the weather was unpredictable.  It was nearly spring.  Sunlight poured down through breaks in the clouds.  Then, a deluge of rain.  Then sun and rain.  The wind, icy cold, winter’s last breath, lashed the trees.  I would no sooner step outside and the heavens would open and drench me.

I bided my time.

At last, the skies cleared briefly.  As I stepped outside, movement caught my eye.  A deer! Standing on our hillside in the side yard!  It was no more than 30 feet away.  I could not believe it.  I snapped a couple of so-so pictures.  Then another one came over the ridge, darker than the first.  Wow!  Two does, I believe, since I saw no horns and they were full grown. They were gnoshing the vines and grasses on the sides of the hill.  I’d seen deer in the garden side of our yard, but not this side.  They walked right through Ruby’s fort, past her chair and desk and everything.  Amazing.

Just as silently and quickly as they had come, picking their way carefully in the mud and brush, they were gone.  I was breathless.  I’m still a city girl at heart.  I’ve seen several deer since we moved here but none so close and nonchalant.  Almost made me wish I had a rifle…But I couldn’t shoot Bambi.  Or his mother. And miraculously, the weather cleared enough for me to walk.  I was blown away by creation yet again.

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(It’s in the right-hand corner, almost out of the shot.)

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(Pay no attention to that wrinkly blue mass at the bottom of the hill.  It’s not a deer.)

I think the Holy Spirit operates like this.  Sometimes, His presence is so very tangible.  You can sense Him in the room immediately as you walk in.  Something you were meant to do your entire life opens up before you like a great gift, waiting for you to unwrap it.  You’re almost knocked out by the anointing, it’s so thick.  You see His hand guiding  your life and the lives of those close to you, especially in areas that show favor.  But other times…He cannot be sensed at all.  It’s a slow slog as you continue up, up, up on your life pilgrimage.  Then suddenly, something happens to lead you to a different answer than you would have ever come up with on your own, and it all just fits.  Someone comes to you and apologizes for something they did, years ago.  You forgave them so long ago you’d completely forgotten. It’s like the Holy Spirit wanted to drop you a little note.  “Hey, Susan!  I’m thinking about you.  I care about you and all the aspects of your life.  I will continue to direct you into the Father’s will.  Don’t despair!”  He comes with silent tread to interrupt your regularly scheduled life and bring on wonder.

You Can’t Hurry

Love.  At least, that’s what I’ve heard.  You need to wait for it to find you or some other claptrap.  It sneaks up on you unexpectedly, blah blah…Not today’s topic.  So discuss that amongst yourselves.

I think, even more than that, here in the Northwest you can’t hurry summer.  Nope.  You can’t make it come any faster.  And sometimes, it doesn’t come at all.  Like the summer of 1996 in Portland – fuggedaboutit!  It flooded.  Eight days of 80 degree weather do not a summer make, unless you live in western Washington.  Then that’s all you might get, and your tomatoes might as well kiss themselves goodbye.  They don’t ripen.  Supermarket tomatoes taste like paste. And fried green tomatoes are only good for some things. 

Today was such a promising day.  It started out beautifully.  Not a cloud in the sky.  The the clouds rolled in, just a light coating; it wasn’t too tough for the sun to burn through if it had such a mind to.  Then it got windy. The clouds turned dark and ominous.  It sprinkled.  Then the sun broke through.  And so it continued both day and night…

This evening while heading out to Ruby’s school so I could see her go down the “giant slide”, I spied a gal walking toward us.  She was wearing a tank top.  I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, fleece and another coat on top.  All I could think was, What in the world?!  You can’t make it summer.  Like Ruby trying to wear a swimsuit and shorts to school:  “It’s sunny and spring.  It should be warm!”  Yeah.  Tis the season. But it just isn’t happening.  It’s alternately rainy, sunny and windy.  Dress in layers and wait 5 minutes.  This is the transition time, and it’s a bit rocky and unstable.  Wearing shorts – I saw several offenders today – won’t make warm weather come any faster, either.  Trying to force a flower to bud serves to ruin the flower. And denial is not just a river in Africa.

Maybe I’ve got it wrong.  Maybe these men and women I’ve seen while out and about are merely optimists.  They look at the bright side, and like so many of my compatriots who are Vitamin D-deprived, think “Oh, Mr. Sun!  How I love thee!  I will show my devotion and trust in you by exposing my skin as a sign of good faith in your amity!”  Alas.  If so, their worship is ill used.  The sun, like the drive-by sighting of an A-list celebrity, has only made brief appearances that tease and offer no lasting interaction.

There are so many things in this life that we can’t control. Like springtime, I recognize our family is in a season of transition as we prepare for whatever is next.  I am more than ready for sunshine and warm weather. I think all of us in this corner of the world would love that. But it’s still spring, even by the calendar.  We have until June 21 to reach summer’s beginning.   But I can’t force it.  It’s a little rocky right now, and unstable.  I know it’s on its way, and I will try to be patient.