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A Patriotic Heart Amid Political Rhetoric…And An Anecdote To Live By!

A Patriotic Hear Amid Political Rhetoric…And An Anecdote To Live By!

A vivid memory I have of my youth is that my parents often expressed feelings of gratitude for being blessed with citizenship in this great land of America!  Perhaps because my dad and mom were just one generation removed from grandparents who had made the hard choice to leave the countries of their birth and seek better opportunities and freedoms in the United States, they always felt inspired to be good citizens.  I can recall overhearing bits and pieces of conversations between my parents, friends and relatives on occasion, when they wondered together if they would have had the courage to make the same decisions under similar circumstances.  To be sure, some spirited political discussions were enjoyed once in a while, my dad would often play the devil’s advocate to the passionate views expressed by one of my aunt’s about government leaders.  Their banter was done in good jest and never ended in anything but good-humored laughter!

My dad also related stories about how his feelings of being a good citizen and showing loyalty and patriotism for our nation started as early as grade school.   He said that much of what he knew about the founding of our country, our colonial forefather, the struggles of 1776, and the westward movement, all went back to that impressionable stage of his life.

He wrote these thoughts in his life history:

“…my patriotism was also strengthened by the positive expressions of my parents concerning our nation.  Our state and national leaders were spoken of far more frequently with respect and appreciation than with criticism and rejection.”

Another powerful influence in my dad and mom’s lives that perhaps seemed to have had the most impact on their allegiance to being discreet and loyal citizens, was the decision on the part of some of their family members to devote their efforts to giving service to our country in an official capacity.  These brave, young souls fought in far off lands to defend and preserve the rights and traditions we’re all privileged to enjoy as American citizens.

My father’s two brothers were both pilots in World War II.  His brother, Lloyd, was killed near the end of the war at age twenty two, when his plane apparently crashed into the side of a mountain during a rainstorm as occupation military personnel were being transported into Germany.  My mother’s two oldest brothers had lifetime careers serving in the United States Air Force.

Being Good Citizens in Today’s Political Climate

In our society today, with the amount of political rhetoric we hear, especially during election time; and with the onslaught of news from media pundits, it is surprising to me that anyone has the stamina to withstand the character dissection that running for office entails.  It behooves us then, to know our responsibilities for being good citizens and not let the political arena become our scapegoat for justifying the hardships we might feel in our daily lives.  If this is our mindset, it should prove to help us to not be complacent about working hard and being productive, problem solving people!

   May our patriotic hearts beat strong and proud!

An Anecdote to Live By

 My father had his own epiphany on how to be a good citizen and live a happy life!

“One day I met a friend who had been a judge for many years–his name was Zachary Champlin.  He had unusually rich experiences in working with people who had been involved in serious and tragic situations.  I shook his hand and said to him, ‘Judge Champlin, tell me one thing a person should do to have a happy life.’  Without hesitation he answered, ‘Stay out of jail.’  This brief reply had many ramifications in my mind.  Basically it means to be a proud, loyal, and patriotic citizen; to appreciate the great blessings we have to be born citizens of the United States of America.”             pic 47_edit_v2    

–as told by LeRoy Jorgensen

What I’m learning now is…

It goes without saying, that we should never underestimate the influence our example of being good citizens will have on our children!  We can study and learn more about how we can serve and contribute to our communities, then share this knowledge with our children. What I’m learning now is we can also strive to really appreciate the political process, even when some outcomes don’t reflect our desires.  In so doing, we can help our children truly respect the blessings that their citizenship provides!   

Have a discussion around the dinner table about how “electoral votes” vs. “popular votes” determine how a president is chosen!  Then share how it goes.

In honoring our parents and grandparents and the fine traditions of their generations, what can we do to inspire some degree of the same respect from our children and grandchildren?  

As our patriotic hearts lead our actions, may political issues be seen in a more positive light!

–Mary

I’d also like to give a personal tribute to my youngest daughter, Mandi and her neat husband, Cole Gibbons.  I will never forget the day three years ago, shortly after they were married, when they left in their rented Penske truck to travel across country to New York City.  Mandi is realizing her dream of attending NYU and is working hard towards her PhD.  Cole is in his third year at NYU’s medical school.  They have embraced the city with great passion!  We have visited them many times over the last few years and have truly become enchanted with the brillance of New York City!  Although there was so much havoc and turmoil rendered by mother nature on the east coast, Mandi and Cole have remained optimistic despite going without water and electricity for several days.  Amid the devastation, they have been good to find small ways to do their part to help restore a city they have come to love so much!

        We are in awe, Mandi and Cole!  We love you!          

     

The Perfect Parenting Coup After Trick Or Treating Sabotage!

This time of year, we like to share stories about Halloween!  As children, it seemed especially intriquing to huddle under blankets in the dark and tell exaggerated stories about Halloween, making sure to include haunting sound effects and raspy voice impressions!  I’d like to share my own, real life Halloween story…  

Long before the term “stranger danger”  became common vernacular, and an unlimited assortment of pre-made costumes on hangers could be found at your local drug store; and before climate controlled trick or treating was done at the mall, I remember rummaging around the house for the perfect mix of eclectic items to come up with my own festive, one-of-a-kind, Halloween attire.  (To be sure, each self-made garb was usually a funny Halloween story in and of itself!)  I often had to pile on extra layers underneath my costume to withstand the chill of the changing fall season that invariably saw a nose-dive in the thermometer right before Halloween night.

The specific story about Halloween that I’m recalling, took place when I was in second grade.  I was so excited to be going door to door with my older sister for the coveted bit-sized goodies.  After we attended our school fall festival, we met up with our friends at the back of the school play yard.  The dusky dark of the evening had just started to settle in.  We weren’t adorned with glow-in-the-dark accessories, nor did we carry blinking goblin flashlights, rather, we just dashed about the streets with our large group of costumed misfits!  We would stop under street lights on occasion and take a brief inventory of our loot.  If we spied a full sized candy bar amid the mini versions that typically dominated our treat bag, screams of delight were loudly proclaimed!  To be sure, the events of the previous evening’s ventures did incite the telling of stories about our successful Halloween conquests the next day.

One such brief stop however, soon found my sister and I, and a few other stragglers separated from the majority of our group.  Since the cold was starting to seep into the thermal layers under our costumes, we decided to finish up the final block of houses nearby that led up the street to our home.  In the abandon and excitement of wrapping up another Halloween excursion, I hadn’t really paid much attention to the figure walking nearby with his face huddled deep in the collar of his coat.  I chatted away with my sister as we rounderd the final corner into our neighborhood.  I even offered a greeting to the man as we walked past him.  My sister, feeling a bit less gregarious, nudged my ribs with her elbow.  When I turned to face her with a bit of exasperation, I suddenly felt a forceful hand grab my candy bag with such brute strength that the handles broke away immediately!  I watched in disbelief, as the shadowy configuration of the person who had just been beside us, ran off into an open field in the opposite direction of our home!   By now, my sister had grabbed my other arm and was literally dragging me home with the tips of my boots barely touching the ground.  I was still lamenting about the prized candy stash of delectable treats I had lost, when my sister recited the events of the incident to my parents.  If they were alarmed, they certainly curbed their reaction.  I remember them being only moderately disgruntled!  It was a school night, so they just encouraged us to get ready for bed.  In fact, it seemed they showed the most concern when they reminded us to brush our teeth!

It was a hard call to be my usual jovial self at school the next day, while stories about Halloween candy abundance were indeed shared with relish!  I also observed my friends sneaking mouthfuls of their treats during class.  At home after school, my siblings were discreet as they poured the mounds of goodies from their bags, enjoying the cherished ritual of dividing the candy into piles of the most favorite to least liked.  They were good to share with me once in a while, but as you can surmise–it was usually from the least liked pile!  I obviously went to bed a little despondent!  Although I didn’t know it yet, one of my fondest memories of Halloween was yet to unfold!SPOOKTACULAR VINTAGE-1     

The next morning was Saturday, and since I was an early riser, the house was quiet when I tiptoed to the family room to watch morning cartoons.  I wasn’t very far into my first show, when I thought I heard muffled voices coming from the bedrooms of my siblings.  I started to sneak stealth-like back down the hall, when suddenly my dad came out of his bedroom dressed in his work clothes.  He greeted me with a little too much cheer for someone ready to check off the chore list.  Then he pulled a brand new trick or treat bag from behind his back, and as I took it from his outstretched hand, I looked around and took note of the crayon artwork that decorated the doors down the hall.   As my mom coaxed me to knock on each door, they were opened with great decorum and bowls of candy were then presented for me to choose from and fill my bag.  To my delight, these wondrous antics went on for several rounds, until my bag held a generous supply of my favorite treats!

In the beginning paragraph of his autobiography, my dad shares one of his earliest childhood recollections.

“I was standing with my little, four-year-old right hand in my father’s big left hand as we stood looking at our new home.  The feelings I had were of contentment and security–two emotions which have followed me pretty much throughout my life.”  He goes on to say, “I think these feelings must have come from the inner realization that my parents were very happy and proud to have me as a member of their family.”

Looking back, I realize that these two emotions have also defined my life.  What I learned from my own Halloween story, on that fall weekend morning-long ago, is that Halloween wasn’t so much about the candy that year.  It was about my dad and mom showing me, in a way that I could appreciate at the age of seven, that they were grateful I was safe and still with them and our family!  I also remember still having to do Saturday chores!

What I’m Learning now…

Contentment is such a great word; my favorite, I think.  What I’m learning now is that amid all the many things we seek after in this life, being more content is perhaps what we need to strive for the most!      

How do you define contentment in your life? 

Happy Halloween!

–Mary

Inspirational Pay Dirt And A Leap of Faith!

How quickly the past ten years have flown by; a subtle reminder of my own mortality!  I’ve enjoyed incredible highlights in my life during that time!  I celebrated the marriages of my three children.  I’ve seen their career paths unfold as they each graduated from college.  My son, Jake and younger daughter, Mandi, have continued on with graduate school.  Malia, my oldest daughter, works in interior design.  She and her husband, Shane, have blessed our family with two darling little girls, Makena and Marli.

Being a grandparent has surpassed all expectations!  

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Of course, I can now better appreciate the fact that my own parents lovingly expressed these same feeling to me as they saw their own grandchildren born and raised.

My husband, Tom and I enjoy our respective careers.  He is a financial planner and I am a nurse.  We have ridden out the waves of thriving economic times, as well as uncertain ones.  We cherish our association with wonderful family members and friends!  Even so, it can get tricky to strike a good balance in the rushed momentum of everyday life, and some goals get set aside by default!

When you do take the time to enjoy a quieter pace, it obviously lends itself to more personal introspection.

It was during these times, whether puttering in my yard, getting in a good work out, or reading and snuggling with my granddaughters, that I felt renewed dedication to follow through and make good on the promise I made to myself.  Your mind, however, is prone to go a thousand different directions on something like this, and ultimately it all seems intimidating and overwhelming.  Then this past March, my daughter-in-law gave me a wonderful book for my birthday, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years by Don Miller.  (Such a great read!)  In a chapter at the beginning of this book, there was a paragraph that proved to be inspirational pay dirt for me.  The author tells of his uncle, a very influential person in his life, who dies unexpectedly.  He writes, “My uncle told a good story with his life…but his story wasn’t finished.”

 Like most children, I held strong to the belief that my parents were invincible, they were living wonderful lives and regardless that the odds were stacked against them, I couldn’t imagine their lives ending when they did…their stories weren’t finished yet!

I revisited many aspects of my parent’s lives again while working to settle a legal ordeal where it became apparent that some questionable activity had taken place that compromised the final wishes of my parents concerning their trusts.  In doing this, I came to realize, more than ever before, that both my dad and mom truly seemed to have enjoyed life so immensely, despite the challenges and hard work involved in any life well lived!

Near the end of his book,  Donald Miller says that a good story teller doesn’t just tell a better story though, “He invites other people into the story with him, giving them a better story too.”  He elaborates in the closing paragraph of his book:

“We live in a world where bad stories are told that teach us life doesn’t mean anything…..it’s a good calling then, to speak a better story.  How brightly a better story shines.  How easily the world looks to it in wonder.  How grateful we are to hear these stories, and how happy it makes us to repeat them.”

With this amazing insight in mind…I’m taking a leap of faith and hoping that as I share my stories, you’ll share your own as well!

What I’m learning now…

My parents always seemed to take life’s challenges in stride.  I often observed thoughtful communication between them during particularly tough times. The result of which, was a seemingly uncanny insight into when they each needed to be stronger for the other in order to help pull each other through stressful times.

In facing the challenges of being married and raising a family, what I’m learning now is that my dad and mom very likely, often experienced deeply genuine, soul wrenching concerns…the heart in your stomach, sleepless night kind!!

How did your parents deal with stressful times?

In what ways did your parents help you with challenges in your life?

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I hope we can all know and enjoy a source of unconditional love and support when challenges arise, and that we can be that love and support for someone else!

–Mary