Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

As I wait for the little ninja turtles, sleeping beauties, Superman's, and witches arrive I thought I would write a word about Halloween.

Now, I am not a Halloween kind of person. Never have been and probably never will be. I do like seeing all the kids in the neighborhood come out though. It reminds me of when I was growing up. Kids have gotten smart though. I can't remember how many times my brother and I would be crying by the time we got home as it was usually raining or snowing and our little paper bag would no longer carry the candy we collected and all of it would fall through.

We never had those nice plastic pumpkins or fun plastic bags or now the pillow cases. We would try and protect our paper bags and it never failed to break one way or the other. That isn't the reason I don't really care for Halloween though...yes it was devastating at the time, but we always managed to get enough candy somehow.

What I don't like about Halloween is the trick part. Now the tricks have become more than just a prank. I see smashed pumpkins and peoples cars egged or even worse windows busted out. I just don't understand how anyone things this is fun or funny.

Halloween should be a safe time to get dressed up and be a kid again, but when the cats are hiding and the dog is barking and their is egg on the cars and pumpkins smashed, it just isn't that fun.

Now I know many people love this time of year. They love decorating and it is 'their' holiday. I can appreciate that. I just would love that we continue to teach out kids about the fun. That our kids would feel safe again. That we wouldn't have to worry about something happening to our cats or dogs or doors or cars.

So, as you get ready to meet your little monsters at the door, remind them to have fun, be safe, and enjoy the night!

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Big Orange Splot

I was inspired this morning while chatting with one of my work colleagues. She had a children's book with called "The Big Orange Splot" by Daniel Monus Pinkwater.

I looked through the book quickly as she described the book to me and I told her I wanted to write a blog spot about it as it was very true for each of us to remember.

So, the story line.

This guy lives in a neighborhood where all the houses look exactly the same. Same grass, same color, same layout, same shingles, same everything. People would come and go from their homes - in and out - every day. Nothing changed.

One day a bird was flying over with a bucket of paint (remember this was a children's book so birds flying with a bucket of paint COULD happen) and the bucket dropped from the bird and landed write on the roof of one of these houses! It was a big orange splot!

Well, once the owner say this splot he decided that maybe he would paint the rest of the house, and maybe he would wear clothes there were colorful, and maybe he would put a hammock in the backyard...on and on until finally his home became uniquely him!

Soon others in the neighborhood started doing the same. Same painted, some built on castle shapes and some boats...everyone brought their unique wants, desires, and dreams into their area.

The book ends with pictures of the wild homes that became from adding a personal touch. By daring to be different and stepping out into change. The neighborhood became a fun and wonderful place to live.

Now I know I have completely simplified the book as I really had about 2 minutes to look through it, but I loved the story plot of stepping outside of the comfortable norm and becoming who you really are. There are to many times we say nothing or do nothing because we don't want to mess up the world around us when in fact the rest of the world is just waiting for us to change!

Great lesson on a Friday. Be yourself. Be brave. Be different. Be about the change you want to see! Be the Big Orange Splot!

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Is that the sun I see?

Okay, I know it is the sun but after quite a few days of not seeing it, one almost forgets what it looks like. Can you feel another analogy coming on? Well here you go.

The past few weeks have been strange. I have felt out of sync with work and life. The barometric pressure drops and I feel it in my bones. It rains and I cannot motivate myself to do anything. The wind blows and I have the quietest bus ride every. I misplace things. I forget to eat (big issue for me). Everything just seems a little off. It is like I get use to this phase/stage and just go with it and all of a sudden every day starts feeling funky, no matter if it is a good or not so good day, it is funky.

I am sure you know what I mean. We have a few funky days and all of a sudden it leads to funky weeks and a funky month. Then all of a sudden something happens and things change. Today it was the sun coming out. We have had a funky few weeks and it seemed like it would never end and then the sun!

It really is like life. I don't know what the sun was yesterday for me, but all of a sudden things became clear again. I remembered what was important and my sun came out. I started making quality decisions. I started to see things in a new way. I begin to feel comfortable again with my complete life. The funk lifted.

We all have funky days, weeks, and even months. Sometimes we can say exactly why and other times we can't. The important part is to understand that the sun will shine again and the funk will lift! You will feel like you are on top of the world and have everything together.

Ah yes, it IS the sun that I see!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October 27, 2003 - Important Date!

So what happen on October 27, 2003? Well that is the day I started my job with the company I am STILL with today. "Still with" as I have always gotten the 4-5 year itch in jobs. I take a job, work for 4 or 5 years and get bored and move on. This was working for me for about 20 years of my adult working life, in fact it worked really well.

I could go in, make some wonderful improvements as well as make a real impact and as things moved from development to implementation I could leave and feel good that I made a positive impact to the position, company, people, and customers.

The company I currently work for doesn't seem to bore me. Yes, there are days I really don't like going to work, but not because I am bored but rather because I have so much opportunity to do good and impactful work I am not sure where to start.

One thing that keeps me going with this company is to look back at the impact I have made to date. I like to remember when and look at where I have come, where my team has created successes and what impacts have been made, in part to my leadership.

Over the past 7 years I have:
I have had 4 promotions
I have had 6 bosses
I have completed a PhD
I have led small teams and large teams
I have created an open environment of learning and growing
I have helped people understand that failure is an option and should be embraced as a great opportunity to learn
I have helped students succeed in their educational goals
I have made lasting friendships
I have been genuine nearly every day
I have been able to vacation and not worry about work
I have helped others see their leadership potential
I have mentored upcoming all-stars
I have participated in charitable campaigns
I have been recognized with awards
I have presented at national conferences
I have become a better leader and a better person

All that in 7 years! Amazing! I love looking at this list and seeing how I have grown and changed as well as how I have helped others grow and change.

I look forward to the next 7 years. May I stay authentic, focused, active, and a positive person!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Scariest Bus Ride Ever

What does a double bendy bus and 34 mile an hour wind  with 60 mile an hour gusts mean? The scariest bus ride ever! Minnesota is experiencing one of the worse wind storms in history. It is being compared to the storm that sank the Edmond Fitzgerald in Lake Superior in 1975! It is the second lowest barometric pressure ever recorded in Minnesota and is at the level of hurricanes! In Minnesota!

So, I left work today around 4:30 and as I waited for the bus I was amazed at how the wind sounds blowing through and around the buildings. It seriously sounded like freight trains and 10 pile driving cement machines right down the street. Problem is there was no road construction nor train tracks anywhere near downtown.

As the bus left the stop all was well. The rain was flying sideways, but not a big deal. We see that a lot in snow blizzards. Once we got on the freeway it was a whole different story. The bus began to sway back and forth and the driver slammed on the breaks a number of times to gain control of the bus again.

It was the first time in 7 years of riding the bus that not one person was talking. No bus buddy conversations, only hanging on and starring straight ahead. As the bus moved on the brakes would go on hard as the sway went back to straight on the freeway. As cars passed going 65 the bus driver tried to keep it under control.

As we slowed down for the first stop you could feel the relief of all the riders. There is one bridge to go over from the first stop to the last stop and as I sat in the front I could see the driver take a huge breathe as she knew that the wind would hit hard as we moved from the buildings and tree area to the openness of the bridge. Like expected the bus swayed hard to the right and there were a few gasps from a couple of people. The driver put on the brakes again and got it under control.

When the bus arrived at the Park and Ride everyone thanked the driver for getting us home safe. It was the scariest bus ride ever!

So, what is positive or purposeful about this? Well, I have no idea except to say that sometimes life blows us all off course and we need to put the brakes on to move forward in a safe way. It is a lesson in living. Not every day is going to be sunshine and calm seas, so we must know how to react to the wind, stop talking/whining and get to the destination. Now that is a great learning!

Monday, October 25, 2010

When is good enough really good enough?

It occurred to me this weekend that I need to start understanding that good enough really is good enough! Nothing major happening, but do you have days when things "aren't too bad" or "are pretty good"? Why is it that we never seem to be satisfied with good enough?

My thoughts are that it goes with putting so much pressure on ourselves, others, our relationships, our work, our lives that we will rarely do things exactly like we want and usually it will be good enough!

I have done a lot of projects in my life including a full 800 square foot home renovation. We started with tearing everything out and then from the floor up recreated the living area. New wood floors, a new kitchen, new stairs, new paint, new furniture and new lighting and electric. I remember saying many times "that isn't good enough it needs to be perfect"! Especially when we were laying the wood floors and patching the ceiling. Others that were the painting experts said "that isn't good enough it has to be perfect". This was, of course, after my attempt at painting a large area.

Other smaller projects have happened since then. Trying my hand as a retail business, finishing a PhD, riding Harley's, vacations, and so forth. It seems like every time someone asks me about one of those events I say "It was pretty good"! What? Really? Just pretty good?

What makes it just pretty good? Every memory, every connection, and every moment was perfect---but I still say "it was good enough".

I guess saying "it was good enough" gives me the right to complain or put judgment on myself or the project. Why? Why isn't good enough really good enough?

If we each spent every day living our lives in the good enough stage I would think we would accomplish more, care more, love more, connect more, and live more than we ever imagined. We just have to get out of our own foolish ways of perfection or judgement and drop the enough out of the statement. It was good! Positive and purposeful.

So when is good really good? Now that is a question I can live with!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thunder in October?

It has been a strange fall in Minnesota. First we get 4-5 inches of rain and then no rain for 3 weeks only 80 degree temperatures and last night thunder and lightening and more rain.

When you listen to the weather gal on TV she says "this happens every few years when a high pressure takes over the area and it is beautiful for weeks straight".

Last night, while trying to calm the dog down, I started to think about how October was a lot like life. How each of us can have a high pressure over us and it is beautiful. Usually those times happen after a major storm. Maybe a fight or an event that just leaves us down.

After the water goes down from the hurt or overwhelming feelings, the sun appears and we are in the high pressure again. Things are calm and at peace and you spend your days doing exactly what you can and should do. You are one with yourself.

Of course life's high pressures are just like those of nature, they come and go. In between you need to weather the storms. Weather the rain. Weather the lows. This can be hard to do and sometimes the lows last as long as those wonderful high pressures, but remember life changes! You change and you learn how to handle the lows go you can bounce quickly into her personal high pressure.

My personal high pressure surrounds me 95% of the time. I have learned to identify when a low may be coming and logically get myself past it. For me that means slowing down and paying attention. Let go of the little things that do not matter and concentrate on my purpose.

My purpose is not about being negative or fearful but to be positive and purposeful! I weather the storms knowing that I will gain an understanding of the situation that will help shape my high pressures in the future.

Thunder in October? Sure! Why not! Let the low pressure pass, relax, stay calm and create your next high!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What I learned from a 60 Year Old!

Today is my friend Kathy's 60th Birthday. A perfect day to celebrate everything that she has done and is today. Kathy has many faces, literally yesterday, but in reality as well.

In honor of her I would like to share the Top Things I have Learned from Her.

1. Never try and fit anyone else's view of you. You are who you are.
Kathy is Kathy - she holds nothing back and makes no excuses. She cares deeply, questions nearly everything, and lives to learn. She follows her rules and her spirit.

2. Even when others tell you what to do, you must follow your heart. You know how you are and what you are.
Kathy has lived life. She has taken jobs to get by, she has adopted a wonderful kid when others said 'don't do it', she has taken in strange dogs, and she continues to follow her heart.

3. Always remember the places that made you happy when you were younger and make the time to go back there.
Kathy makes the time to go back to the little fishing streams in Colorado, or old mining towns she remembered growing up in..Kathy doesn't dismiss her past rather understands that her past is the reason she is here right now in this place.

4. Always remember to laugh.
Kathy has a cackle of a laugh...can't be heard for miles I bet, but it is real, true and comes from the gut. Kathy laughs at herself, the world around her and a good joke and it makes me smile!

5. Family comes first.
I can't even begin to write all the ways of this learning, but she has given her time, money and energy to make sure her family comes first.

6. Old dogs can learn new tricks!
I remember taking Kathy out fishing a few years back and she kept wanting to use the 7 foot spinning reel like a fly casting pole. After a few cases she got the hang of it and now she is a true Minnesotan and has all the right gear for fishing the lakes and rivers here.

7. And finally, I have learned that new friends are as precious as old.
I have only known Kathy around 5 or so years, but she has become a dear friend. She has opened up her heart and home and created a life.

So, Kathy as you turn 60 today, here's to you. Here's to the learning you provide all of us every day of the year. Here's to your future learning, your future fun, and your future life! Cheers!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Take the Opportunities that Present themselves!

The past week I have been reading another blog, my brothers. He is in Italy on an Concordia College Alumni Art History Trip with his favorite Art History Professor, Barbara Glasrud.

He wasn't planning on going, in fact he has said NO many times. I remember the first time he mentioned it. In an email he wrote "Wouldn't this be fun--I wish I could take the time off. It's also very expensive!"

For a few months we would talk about it and every time he would end the chat with "It really would be an amazing trip!" Still he thought the time and money were to much. About a month ago, Professor Glasrud wrote him an email and asked him (pleaded with him) to please come that there was so much over there that she wanted to share with him.

It took him around an hour to finally book the trip and commit. How can you say NO to your favorite Professor and someone who has meant so much to you for the past 25 years.

As the time neared there were some concerns with his health that maybe he would not be able to go, but everything has worked out. Worked out very well.

I have been getting a few emails from him and he has done a few blog posts and with every words there is a sense that he knows how special this trip is for him as well as for Barbara. A few days ago he wrote me an email stating that there was a peace about Barbara. "It was like she was sharing everything she could with me (him) like she knew this was the last time she would travel over here and she wanted to make sure she left her passion with someone else".

There have been other comments like this placed throughout his blog and even though there are a dozen or so other travelers with Barbara, there is a sense that the trip is complete because Steven went with. As much as she is giving him, he is giving her a trip to remember as well.

I could not contain my joy when Steven told me he was going. I know what this woman means to him and how much he loves history and traveling. He waits at Christmas for that one special Christmas Card - the hand painted or drawn one from Barbara Glasrud. Every year - a personally drawn card from someone he considers a Saint.

It was all about taking the opportunity that presented itself. Not worrying about money or time, but taking the opportunity because it is what you have to do, what you need to do, what you should do. It is these events, these opportunities that make life worth living. It is these opportunities that move us to understand who we really are. It is these opportunities that create purposeful living!

As he finishes up his trip I can't wait to hear more about his time with her, to see pictures of his adventure, and to see the peace in his heart from the opportunity he took.

If you would like to read more please visit:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

240th post

Today is the 240th post to this blog, 2/3rd to the goal of writing until the end of the year. So, what have I learned in the past few months? Quite a bit actually!

In the past months I have learned:

1. If you put your mind to it, you can do what you set out to do.
2. You get better at framing your ideas as you write more.
3. You don't have to be an expert to write, only have a passion to share your thoughts and ideas.
4. The world opens up to you when you allow it. Many times i wasn't sure about what to write and something happen or I heard/saw something that struck me to write.
5. I now have over 200 pages of writing that can be organized into a book or two.
6. I have found that I really do like write! This is a statement I never thought I would say.
7. I have formed new friends and deeper relationships by opening myself up in this way.
8. I have gained a renewed sense of urgency around motivating others.
9. I have found that spending 30 minutes of a day doing something is really achievable. Maybe working out can follow in line next.
10. I have learned that you rely can make a positive impact and live a purposeful life.

I have 74 days left until the end of this year. 74 days to write more and share more. For 14 of these days I will be traveling with my folks up to Churchill Manitoba on a vacation to see the polar bears. I hope to blog my way through the tundra as the final chapters on this blog come to the end.

What have you learned?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Focus on the here and now!

This weekend, while out and about on the Harley, we hit some back roads with fewer cars and more nature. I am not a speed demon on the bike (nor any other mode of transportation) as I like to focus on the world around me. It is amazing what you can see when you slow down and take it easy.

From a dozen turkeys, to a couple eagles in a tree, or a pheasant flying next to us the world was alive this weekend! You could smell the leaves as they move from full color to rust brown. As we pasted by the lakes, you could feel the crisp air that is only felt around lakes in the fall.

Now I could have day dreamed the whole time and missed it all and at times I found my mind wandering to work topics or things to do, but then something would show itself and it pulled me back into the here and now.

At the stop areas Suzan and I compared notes on what we saw. She is great at saying "thank you" to nature for presenting itself and allowing others to view. Butterflies or eagles all are the same and she gives thanks for their ability to show us the slower side of life.

I am getting better at this, but still get the gentle reminder to focus on the here and now.

This morning on the bus I decided to not think about all the work that was waiting for me and not bring the Blackberry out to check emails before I got to work - I sat quietly next to the window and focused. I focused on the here and now. Focused on the sun rising. Focused on the silhouettes of the trees after losing their leaves. Focused on the crisp air and quiet of downtown as I walked the few blocks from the bus. Focused on the here and now.

To many times we get going so fast that we miss out on everything around us. Not only nature, but life. We worry so much about what we are doing or where we are going or how we are doing it that we forget to enjoy the here and now. We forget to say thank you for arriving today.

As you end your night or begin your day take 10 minutes and just focus! What do you hear, see, smell, and feel? Say thank you for all that comes. Focus on the here and now!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Who belongs to this Baby?

Okay, so I bought a new toy. I don't like buying myself toys..I don't like buying myself much of anything. I feel guilty for spending money on me and not others. This is an okay guilt, but every once in a while I do think you have to take care of yourself. You have to create some fun for yourself. You have to be a little selfish and be okay with buying something for yourself.

My new toy is a 2006 Harley Davidson Heritage Softail.

Yes it is kind of pretty. All black with a Red and White Logo, hard bags, loud pipes, and Lord does it bring out the attitude in me.

Many of you have asked "who do you ride with"? Well, not only does Suzan ride, but my folks ride (yes my mother has her own Harley), and I belong to a riding group for women called the "Shift Kickers". I haven't been a ride with the Shift Kickers yet, but I have met a few of their members.

Yesterday Suzan and I went out riding and after a few hours stopped by a friend from the shift Kickers place. She had just had shoulder surgery so isn't able to ride anymore this season. As we stood there admiring the new bike this lady came by who was walking her dog. She came over and our Shift Kicker buddy introduced us to her. For some reason I can't remember her name, but she is associated with the National Women on Wheels organization. She looked at my bike and said "Who belongs to this Baby?"

I proudly said "I do"! It was the first time since I got the bike that I didn't feel like a little kid who had done something wrong. I was proud to be a rider. Proud to be a woman rider. Proud to have others admire "my baby".

So, now the naming challenge is on. What do I call this baby? Suzan's bike is named "Piglet" as it is the smallest HOG (Harley Davidson) out there but what do you call this one? So, the challenge..think of a name and let me know. I will decide and post my decision later next week!

Live to Ride, Ride to Live!

Saturday, October 16, 2010


I am not a very superstitious person, in fact I can say that I am not superstitious at all. Ladders, cats, wearing green on bikes...I don't let myself believe in the evil that is suppose to be tied to them. I don't usually read horoscopes either, but today I did.

We stopped for breakfast at a little place in Zimmerman Minnesota on our Saturday motorcycle ride and there was an extra paper there so as I was reading the funnies while waiting for my egg and rye, I read my horoscope.

Taurus (April 20-May 20)
"You don't practice what you preach, because you don't preach! You've made it a policy to let your actions speak for themselves. Because of this, you'll impact the world in a positive way!"
Okay, now this is a great Horoscope and I had to read it a few times because for those that know me I hope this is how you would see me. It is how I see myself.

I do have a personal policy (aka value) of being Christ like. Having my actions tell others who I am. I am not a preacher, in fact talking or telling people what to do or how to do it has never been my game. I am an action person.

I live my life with passion and conviction. Maybe that is why this blog has been so important to me or why Cuc Vu touched my soul with her speak of personal authenticity or why the Janice that shows up every day is just that--Janice. I don't pretend to be anything I am not and I don't put on an act at any time. Yes, I do walk a little more confident when I have my fancy outfits on or my leather chaps, but that attitude is always there. I am who I am and my actions  speak to the person I have become.

I use to think that if I was something else or acted differently maybe people would like me or maybe someone would love me or maybe someone would think I was cool. Now I know that the person I am every day is very likable, lovable and cool. No acting, no pretending, just being the best Janice I can be today.

I also believe that I will impact the world in a positive way. I think I already have in some respects. I have people who tell me every day how my blog has impacted them. I have people who say I have a giving heart. I have strangers say thank you and loved ones say you are amazing. I give without concern of getting, I forgive without feelings of anger, and I love unconditionally.

Be the change you want to see in the world. Be the person who can have a positive impact by having YOUR actions speak louder then words.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Authentic You

Today I had the privilege to attend the Minneapolis National Coming Out Lunch held to celebrate the diverse workforces as well as the diverse people that work tirelessly for all human rights.

The lunch was wonderful and the speakers amazing.

The first speaker was the kid who fought for a legal end to bullying in schools. He is from Ashland, WI and was bullied relentlessly. He fought back - not with fists but with courage. Courage to raise he voice and actions. Because of his actions there is now a law that schools must keep ALL kids safe in school.

Now I am not one for Government telling us what to do nor do I think we should have to have laws in place for common sense values, but until Americans can be civil to all other Americans I guess we need too. This kid, now in his late 20's early 30's fought for his right to go to school and be safe. I kept thinking as he spoke why do we need to fight for the right to be safe?

The second speaker talked about the aging population within the GLBT community and how retirement homes are not educated in the needs of many of the people they will be serving in the near future. She talked about Sharon Reed who was a woman in Florida who was denied access to her dying partner in a Florida Hospital. Her rights were denied even with official paperwork stating she was the legal decision maker.

The third speaker was a deaf woman who has fought through family abuse and now has become an advocate for the deaf. An advocate against domestic and sexual violence.

As each speaker spoke about their story the theme became very clear: Live your Authentic You!

The final speaker was Cuc Vu, the Chief Diversity Officer for the Human Rights Campaign out of Washington, DC. If you have never heard her story she is a refugee from Vietnam who escaped with 4 brothers and sisters and Mother in the 1970's. They were separated from their father and 2 other children during the fall of Saigon. This was a touching story, an amazing story. It shaped her life and her drive. She lives now helping others who's access is denied, who's dignity is denied, who's rights are denied.

She talked about how we all need to be filled with courage rather than fear. How courage makes you stronger. How fears is a powerless emotion. I googled her when I got back from the lunch and found this clip of her. She was one of the Thousand Voices campaign around quality leadership. Click here to view this short video.

Today was an amazing day. I am not into having politics in our personal lives, seems like a waste of money, time and energy, but until we start standing up for the rights of our neighbors, brothers, sisters, and friends we will continue to need to fight for equality, we will continue to fight for our authentic you. Here is to what we all deserve and should have - equality and dignity to be our own authentic you!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Where do the nights go?

I cannot believe that it is already 8:00pm, where do the nights go?

After work we headed to the Harley dealer for their monthly sale and free brat night. We looked around and waited for our turn at the brat table and I found a nice jacket, some boots, and a helmet. I didn't get any of them as it is near the end of the season and the jacket wasn't quite what I wanted, the boots were a little tight and heavy and the helmet will take 6 months of saving money to get, but still we could get a free brat.

We headed back to the food table to see one lone brat on a bun and the food lady taking everything else away. Dang, they were out of food! No worries, Suzan ate the brat and I looked around a bit more. The night ended with a few purchases on Suzans part so she is set for a while now.

Driving phone it seem to get instantly dark. I find it amazing how dark the skies get as we turn the pages into fall.

When we got home the kids aka cats and dog all were ready to play, sit, meow, and so on. I looked up and it was 8pm! Where did the night go?

Every hour of every day seems to be full of activities and as I sit here with an hour or so to go before bed, I wonder how to get more hours in my day. Not sleeping will not work, not working is not an option (yes I know that this is a double negative), so my only option is to be smarter about how I spend my time.

This is harder then it seems as there is always something pulling us for our time or energy. So, what would happen if every hour we make a conscious decision on how to spend it? Every decide if you want to work, relax, hang out, clean...whatever you like or need to do. There would be no feeling that you didn't have enough time in your day, rather each day would be filled with exactly what you planned to do!

I loved my day today and although I am not certain where all the hours went to, I can sit here tonight and know that I had not only a productive day, but also a positive one.

I worked, I played, I shopped, I hung out, I laughed, I blogged....yes now i know where the day went and where the night goes.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

True story - The Mystery of the missing Dog Food

Some days I feel like I could be Erma Bombeck and write books about the daily things that are so normal, yet so funny. My mother has all the Erma Bombeck books and use to say our family had to be secretly video taped as some of her stories were so true to our family. We all laugh now as it is true. The craziest things seem to happen to the most normal people...okay maybe that is the problem...none of us are normal.

The Mystery of the Missing Dog Food

My Dad is a master carpenter. He has built everything from toy chests to houses. When all of us kids moved out and on they finally had the money to build a workshop attached to the back of the garage. It is like walking into Bob Villa's workshop. Everything in the right place and every tool imaginable is in there. Five drills hang on the side wall all with a different bit ready to drill, screw, cut or make a hole into something. In the middle of the workshop are 2 table saws and a huge workbench.

If you were to look around the shop the only thing that would maybe look weird (besides the wood stove and TV) is a huge dog food pan filled to the rim with dog food. Now it won't take you long to realize why it is there when Shadow, their little black lab, comes bounding towards you. Dad has always had a shop dog, so there has to be a water bowl, food dish, and doggie door to the backyard in the shop. It has been part of life for so long it is life. Here is where the story begins.

Now from my description of Dad's workshop with everything in a place you can understand why this story is really quite funny. Every day my Dad starts his day with a cup of coffee, a smoke, and making sure the dog has a full water bowl and food dish. The dog doesn't eat much outside, but it is there in case she needs to eat.

About 2 weeks ago Dad started noticing that in the morning the food bowl was completely empty from the following day. Now Shadow is very overweight, but Dad hasn't seen Shadow eat that much food EVER in the garage.  Dad would fill it up and next day the dish would be completely empty again.

Last Dad started to suspect that something or someone was coming in at night and stealing the dog food. Of course their suspicion is always on some kids or 'weird' people in town so they started locking the door to the workshop. The next morning again the food dish was completely empty.

This has gone on for two weeks now and Dad went and bought animal traps to see if he could catch the villain!

Here is the last saga that came in today, written by my Mother.

On Monday Morning, October 4, the dog dish in the garage was completely empty. On Tuesday, October 5, the dog dish was again empty and one of the straw bales was tipped over outside. Tuesday afternoon Dad and Mike (neighbor) put a live trap outside the doggy door. Nothing happened. Thursday morning the dish was empty again. Thursday afternoon they put the live trap in the shop and Friday morning nothing had happened. On Friday they put flour on the floor to see if they could find foot prints of some sort. At this point I was being accused of doing this after dad went to bed. (Good idea but I didn't think about it soon enough) Nothing happened during the weekend but yesterday morning the food in the trap was gone and half of the food in the dish was gone and there were some kind of small footprints in the flour. Yesterday afternoon Mike got his big traps and dad bought some smaller traps and sticky paper to put down. This morning nothing had happened. They have figured that it may be a red squirrel but we sure can't find it. Dad sprayed ether and some other stuff all around in the shop and nothing came out. There is no evidence of poop, etc.

So dad is busy, busy, busy, busy!

Only 37 degrees this morning but should get up to 60 today. We will take it!

Guess that is all for now.
I giggled when I read her report and can't wait for the continuation of the Mystery of the missing Dog Food!
Here's to finding the humor in our families!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Long and the Lost

The long and the lost - This describes a number of my friends from the past. Over the years I have lost contact with many people I considered close friends.

Christmas card greetings become years apart and soon disappear. Friends move on to new places with new friends and the communications become increasingly less. You begin to create lives without them and although you mean well to keep in touch, days lead to months leads to years.

I have been as guilty as the next on letting this happen. I have 'tried' and all of a sudden the days are years.

This could be a very depressing blog post, but for those that know me I am not the depressing kind. I see silver linings, the cup half full, and the partly sunny skies.

Today I had the surprise of the year. It was all because of a post I made last week. One of my followers wrote me a personal note about the impact of the blog. She send the email to a personal account I have but rarely check. She told me later that she had sent it there so this morning I logged on to read what she wrote. The email was wonderful and something I needed to hear so I really appreciate the feedback on the blog, but as I closed her email down all of the unread emails came to view.

Advertising, spam, spam, a job opportunity and then I saw it! An email from a long lost friend! I instantly wore a smile and had to re-read the name a few times to make sure it was true. All the email said was "I heard a song we use to hear when we played pool and thought of you, so I googled you. How the heck are you?"

No blame, no issues, no problems - just a simple email to say she had been thinking of me. I immediately wrote back and after a few email exchanges feel like I know everything that has happened the past 5 or so years of losing touch. A simple song led to a simple search which led to a simple email which lead to a reconnection. It was like we never lost contact. I could see her face and hear her voice saying "how the heck are you?" True friends, lifelong friends, the long and the lost.

I told her my blog would be about her tonight as I really find something positive and purposeful about friendships. I have some friends who I talk to all the time. They are great and I wouldn't give them up for the world. I have friends who I have known for 30 years and every few years we connect just to check in.

Then I have friends who I grew up with. NOT as children, but as adult. The ones that know your soul by the experiences you had with them. They were the first to accept you for who you were and what you were. The first to care about you as a person and expect nothing in return. The first to see your dreams and push you towards them. You may not talk for months or years, but you think about them when you hear an old song or see an old restaurant you use to hang out at, or smell the aroma of a cheap cigar. They are memories so ingrained in your mind just one thought and it is like they are there.

This is an amazing feeling. To know that people you have cared about but lost touch feel the same. We all have these people in our past. Someone who use to say hi to you while walking home, or someone who stayed with you after a surgery, or someone who played pool with you while listening to really bad music.

I had been searching for this friend, yes google is my friend, but to no avail. Now, at the right time she appears. A renewed spirit, a caring heart, and a knowing soul.

If you want to live a positive and purposeful life today, be THAT person. Reach out to an old friend and say "How the heck are you doing?" Search for them and make them smile.

The Long and the Lost are rarely forgotten. They live in the depths of your heart. As you get ready to get a good night sleep tonight, think back to a person who you 'grew up with'. If you have no clue where they are at, google them, search for them, find them and connect! It does the heart good.

Thank you Sarah Sue!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A long day...

What a day! Drove 200 miles north, ate at my favorite mexican restaurant, picked up a motorcycle and drove 200 miles back home! I am tired but excited as the bike is a Harley Davidson Heritage with a white and red logo. Sweet deal and lots of fun.

I will load some pictures tomorrow morning but wanted to say I am very happy right now and loving life.

Live to ride, ride to live.

Friday, October 8, 2010

What an end to the Summer!

Today it is nearly 80 degrees with a high of 85 coming by mid-day. It is fresh and clear and beautiful out.

I was asked to play hooky today to go and play. As tempting as this is, I find that my work needs to get done before I play.

When I was asked to play hooky from work I thought to myself "what would I do with a day like today?"

The "to-do" list is long and real playing isn't on the list. What! No playing on the 'to-do' list, that is uncivilized!

Why don't we put our play activities on our 'to-do' list? Think about how much we would be able to cross off the list if we listed the fun stuff as well as the need to do stuff!

On my unofficial 'to-do' list is:
Wash Clothes
Clean Floors
Put up Gutters
Fix the mower tire
Clean the Garage
Count the sweatshirts to sell
Take things to ARC
Clean out Fridge
Put up Christmas Lights
and organize file folders

No fun, nothing exciting, no play! I guess for me play comes after work. It is how I grew up and the value my folks instilled on all of us kids. I find this funny as now that they are retired and have all the time in the world to play they still have 'so much work to do they don't have time to play'!

So, I guess my thought is that if we don't take play as serious as work we will never play (or not play enough).

Add Play to your 'to-do' list! Enjoy the outdoors when you can! Live for play - not work!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Six Words

At my college reunion this past weekend there was a time to introduce yourself. There were around 80 classmates there and most I never really knew while I actually went to school. The class organizer got up and asked that we go around and introduce ourselves and since we didn't have a lot of time but really wanted to get to everyone, we should try and introduce ourselves in 6 words.

There were a few moans from the crowd (many of us like to talk about ourselves I guess), but then it got quiet as people begin to think about how to introduce themselves in 6 words.  Silence for a few minutes and finally the organizer got up and said "okay, maybe 6 words is not enough, but if we can keep them short so we can get to everyone it would be great."

The first one went, married, 3 kids, 1 in college, work for 'someplace', and enjoys reading...the next and the next all saying the same type of things - how many kids, where they were enrolled in college, where they worked and one hobby. It went pretty quick but by the second table of folks one of the guys said "same as everyone, kids, college, I work and I like to play" then he said "but let me give you my six words. Caring, family, kids, traveling, renewed, and happy." Whoa! Six words and I knew more about him then if he were to tell me the kids names or where he lived. He was happy and he felt renewed. He cared for his family and kids and loved to travel. Now that is a person I could have a conversation with.

It is hard if you don't fit the mold of "3 kids, thinking of where they will go to college, and work at some place doing something and enjoy doing something".  I was sitting next to my best friend from college and we kind of laughed as we told each other our 6 words. It was like I knew what she would say and she knew what I would say and we laughed at how much we still knew about each other having not spoken much in the past 25 years.

It reminded me that talking is sometimes very overrated and most of the time people do it just to hear themselves talk. I call it vocal thinking. Talk talk talk....yet nothing is said. What if you went to a meeting at work and said only 6 words? What if you put a project proposal with only 6 words? What if you introduced yourself to someone you didn't know with only 6 words? What would they be?

I think I am going to do this as a staff development at work and have everyone put there 6 words up in their work area. Then after a few days I want to see if it starts new conversations, new ideas, new friendships. Six words!

How would YOU describe yourself in 6 words?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Gleeful night

I have become a follower of of Glee on TV and I must say that tonight's episode was one of the best yet.

It isn't so much the story lines that I like, but the creativeness of the writers to put music to the story lines. Every week the writers move you with the music that speaks to the issue at hand. The writers pull you into the lives of fictional characters and make you explore your own beliefs and views. The writers take the innocents of kids and shows those watching how their innocents is lost in this world.

Music, to me, is the words of the soul. It can make you cry, make you believe, make you fearless, and make you become someone you never thought possible. I often wonder what my life would be if I had to pick 6-8 songs that depict my values, attitudes, beliefs, joys and sorrows. What would my life be if put to music?

One of the songs from tonight's show would have been one I selected. If you are interested in learning about me through music I have included a few songs of how I would put my life to music.

Believing - I look to you
Giving to Others- Let there be love
Achieving all you can - I am Woman

What would your songs be?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dual Survival

I have always had a part of me that knows I can survive in nearly any outdoor circumstance that comes along. Stuck in the Boundary Waters, lost in the woods, or on a deserted island I have always thought that I would be able to survive.

I can remember growing up and making fire without matches and learning about compass navigation. I even went so far in college of getting my ears pierced so I could wear hoop earrings. Why? Well, if I was ever stranded I would dream of making a fishing hook from my earrings and thus being able to fish for food.

I remember in college being named the "Person you would want to be stranded with" because I knew how to be creative with what was around and of course I have a striking personality. (smile)

As long as I can remember I have found that I look for survival tools, watch survival shows and learn and read about survival techniques. Now, Lord knows this isn't something I wish to ever happen, but it is nice to know that if I had to I would be a little prepared and not freak out (okay maybe freak out a little).

As I have become older I find that I would hope if this every did happen that I would not be alone. I could do it, but I think I like the idea of dual survival better. Someone to talk too, someone to help build a fire, find food and build the amazing sleeping fort.

Sounds like life, or at least my life. I was surviving by myself and did everything for myself. Now I find it is nicer to be surviving with others. Someone to talk too, someone to stay warm with, someone to call cook with and someone to call home.

Life is about survival but it is also about knowing you are not in it alone. You have partners, spouses, friends, neighbors and family. I hope we all have a dual survival companion in one shape or form. We are out here. When you find yourself on a personal deserted island make your SOS signal so we can find you!

Here's to helping each other survive.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

25 years ago

This weekend was my 25th College Reunion and as I had posted early this week I was nervous to go. Well now that it is over I have to say I had the best time. I never considered myself an "in" person in college, actually just the opposite, so hearing the stories of how I impacted others lives just by caring, saying hi, and being there when they needed something really made this a wonderful weekend.

If you remember my post about being nervous I had 4 things: what if no one remembers me, what if I don't remember anyone, what if I have 120 people wanting to be my new friend, and how do I lose 40 pounds in 2 days. Here is how those all played out.

What if no one remembers me: This was not the case at all and I was surprised people still called me by my nickname "Nermie". When we were introducing ourselves I said my name and a number of the tables of people yelled "NERMIE". Yes, people do remember me.

What was fun around this was that after 25 years people have memories of the impact I had on them and they were more than willing to share those stories. How I was there for them in a very difficult time, or how much fun the floor had while I was the RA (Resident Assistant), or how we would make snow living rooms and pets outside the dorms...story after story was about a memory that I had no idea existed in someone else's mind.

What if I don't remember anyone: This was also not the case. It was like we had never left and as people would come up to me or me to them they would say their name and memories of our time together came rushing through. Good and bad, but we all survived and we all are better off from the experience. People that as soon as I say them I knew their name and was so happy to have just a few minutes of their time catching up. We all struggled together through 4 years of our lives and even with it being 25 years later, we all had a common bond, a common purpose, and a common story.

What if 120 people want to be my friend: This may be the closest to the truth of all nervous fears, but one that I completely hope for now. No, not all of them, but those that made an impact on me it was good to connect again and I hope we do stay in touch and see each other again. We exchanged business cards and we promised to think of each other from time to time. What I found was these 120 people have always been my friends, have always been part of my life, and will always continue to be.

The losing 40 pounds didn't seem to matter to anyone and I think everyone wishes we could look like we did 25 years ago. Men are going bald, women had put some weight on...bottom line is no one cared. It wasn't about how you looked it was about who you are.

This has been a remarkable weekend and I am so thankful that I was pushed to go. I learned a lot about myself by facing memories and people of the past and I have come out the other side with a renewed peace of understanding that in our every day lives we do make lifelong friends, we do care, and we do have an impact on others.

So to the class of 1985 from Concordia College I say thank you. For the memories, for the caring, for the friendship, and for the impact you have had on me.