A Group of People

Posts Tagged ‘life’

Pondering Transformation

In life, transformation on July 16, 2011 at 6:22 pm

By Gunnar Simonsen

What does transformation look like anyway? I mean, has any one of us ever even seen it when it occurs? You know, that very moment, the very second it happens.

It’s kind of like the old question that if a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear it?

Several months ago, I began hiking. It was a really nice nature park near my home that offered a brief respite while also being a challenging series of trails certain to bring shortness of breath to anyone in the kind of shape I was in.

That first day was an incredible experience. I had no idea at all of this beauty which existed so close to my home and yet, I had not even known it. That is until I arrived at the foot of this one hill. Of course, what did I know? I had never been there before.

I remember after maybe 10 yards into this hill thinking… how many heart attacks did I just have?

That being said, I kept moving forward all the while wondering if I could make this a habit. The scenery itself had me hooked and already motivated me to return the next day. I also remember wondering if I would ever be able to make it up this hill without the occasional stroke or heart attack.

I was halfway up the hill at this point and let me tell you… I was a mess. Where was the oxygen tank?

I look back at that day now and can sum up my experience since then with a statement my daughter made not too long ago when she joined me on the hike.

“I bet you have this entire park memorized by now.”

I don’t know when it happened, but my motivation continued as I returned to the park each day for my daily hike of 3 miles of up and down hills, snakes, deer, rabbit, eagles, and everything in between.

For me, it became not only a great opportunity to get back in shape, but also an opportunity to unhook myself from technology. This included turning the ringer off of my phone, not checking messages, email, Facebook, or Twitter. It also included no iPod with my favorite mix of music.

It included just me and that trail. I suppose you could call this a tech fast of sorts.

Not too long ago, I recall a moment on the trail where I had scaled that hill I spoke of earlier. As I reached the top this particular time, I was amazed…

“When did this happen?” I asked myself. Read the rest of this entry »


What Do Your Pages Say?

In life, story on July 12, 2011 at 3:09 am

By Collin Peterson

The patient and I found ourselves immersed in a conversation about life, the days that have passed, and the days still ahead.  I learned that the patient was a professor at a well-known regional university.  About 10 minutes into the conversation it dawned on me that this patient is, in reality, in a hospital bed.  One wouldn’t guess that this lively and upbeat man was suffering.

The conversation came to a pause and I shifted my weight to the other foot and said, “Ya know, for being in the hospital, you sure are lively.”

The patient grinned.

“While it is only an observation, it seems to me that the recovery time for patients is far less for those patients who maintain a positive attitude throughout their recovery versus those that don’t feel as upbeat,” I remarked.

The patient replied by saying, “While it is only an adage, ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover.’”

“Well said.” I grinned.

“I will tell you one more thing,” the patient announced while shifting to sit upright, “A friend of mine once said that life is like a book.  Every page should be something that you can go back and touch.”

What is written in your proverbial book?  The best laugh you shared with your family, your child’s graduation, the return of a loved one.  What is not written?  Are there any missing or blank pages?  If so, why?  This man had a good point and I believe his proverb goes something like this:

“Books will never be obsolete, neither will your life.  Never include pages that do not have anything on them, they just weigh the book down.  Always be thankful for what you’re writing, as you never know how many times your story will be read.”

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

1 Timothy 4:16 The Message

She gave him a lollipop by @kelmar4

In giving, life, perspective on July 12, 2011 at 2:58 am

By Karen Mares

She walked down our street on an early summer day in her long coat and her scarf covering her head. Hunched over, she walked up to me while I was putting Boy in his car seat, ready to rush out for an errand that I can’t even remember now.

She approached me, and said, “Here, for him. I a Grandma.” She handed me the lollipop to give to my Boy. She had a thick accent that sounded Russian. Weathered face with a big smile, life had clearly not been easy for her. Yet, she smiled, and carried lollipops in her purse in case she saw a child. Her smile became mine and Boy’s. She made him happy, and me grateful. Grateful for her thoughtfulness, her smile, and the path she had journeyed to bring her to us.

She walked away after we thanked her, hunched over, a slight limp, and I haven’t stopped thinking about her since. I wondered what brought her to my street, brought her to America. I imagined all kinds of reasons why this old woman, who had clearly lived much life in her years, was here, walking down a random suburban street with lollipops in her purse. I wondered how she had survived whatever she had survived and still managed to have a desire to bring joy to strangers by sharing not only her lollipops, but in a way, a part of herself.

When I contrast that with my own self-induced frazzled life, something stirs inside me that I can’t quite put my finger on. We chase and run after the things we think we want. We get myopic. Crossing paths with this beautiful old woman reminded me that sometimes what we think we want isn’t what we need. Perhaps what we need is to make sure that we have a spare lollipop in our purses in case we see an opportunity to bring a little joy to someone else.

The Temporarily Forgotten : The Otherside of Drunk Driving

In drunk driving on July 4, 2011 at 5:56 pm

By @gunnarsimonsen

“I forgot you were there.” slurred the man with alcohol on his breath. The two cars sat next to the road on this cloudy day. Mom and I were almost home after getting a birthday present for the party that was just about to start.

A light blue truck and a red car that used to have a trunk were all that remained. Sitting in the back seat, I don’t remember much, I think I was in shock. I did need an ace bandage for something. Mom was ok, although I think she needed to wear one of those silly looking neckbraces for awhile.

Looking at that car, but not yet knowing God, I’d say I was lucky. Very lucky. What rips my heart out is that sadly… many are not.

I don’t remember much else. However, I do remember his name…Lee Ray …and that he forgot we were there.

What a sad statement…”I forgot you were there.” Fortunately for him, we were still there after he hit us. I can’t imagine telling that to a family who has lost loved ones from a drunk driving incident.

“Try forgetting them now.”

Today, I forgive Lee Ray. I don’t think we ever heard of him again. I pray that he got his life in order. I hope that he did not forget anyone else.

Unfortunately, a situation like this happens each day. Almost every half hour, a person will lose their life in a drunk driving accident in America.

For all those who have lost a loved one to this…we pray for you. For all those who will get behind the wheel drunk in the next half and hour…we pray for you.

May God protect the temporarily forgotten and frustrate the keys of the forgetter. May their keys never make it to the ignition.

In 2004, there was a 2% decline of drunk driving fatalities over 2003. (I wrote this in 2005)

Please join me in praying this very moment… a prayer that would bring even more decline of these numbers.

It’s 5:37…another half an hour just elapsed…23 minutes till the next.

Thanks for your prayers!

Please be careful! May your holiday be safe and happy!

* I wrote this a few years ago in remembrance of the many who sadly… did not survive. I like to believe that someday wisdom, discipline, and responsible choices will win out. But, for that, we all have a role to teach, to hold accountable, to love, and support.

Living through my child by @kelmar4

In fear of dying, helicopters, Karen Mares, parents on June 7, 2011 at 11:29 pm

By Karen Mares

Sunday was a day that we spent with friends. It started off like an ordinary Sunday, with plans to take advantage of the wineries that we have practically in our backyard. This time was a little different, though, because both of the couples, SubHub and I, bestie and her hubs, brought our kids with us.

I know, wine tasting with children. Either we’re crazy or we’re crazy. We kept our itinerary flexible, and made sure to agree that if somebody started freaking out, no worries on bailing out.

So, at the last winery of three, there was this idyllic spot with a field, a big lonely tree, and a tire swing.

We let the kids play at this one for quite awhile, and at one point we saw a helicopter come in and land in the field. The kids were fascinated by it.

Flash forward to Bestie and I striking up a conversation with the pilot while we were waiting for the round of potty stops to be done. He offers to take three of us back to the local airport in the helicopter for the price of a tip.

Ok, so here’s where I get to wax philosophic on you.

My entire life, my parents, in an effort to protect me, instilled fear in me. I can think of many incidents where I didn’t follow my dream, do something I really wanted to do, or talked myself out of something a little risky (healthy risk, mind you) because I could hear one of them running through a litany of reasons why NOT.

For example, I was asked to go on a small Cessna-type plane when I was in college. It was a gorgeous day and we were planning on flying around Mt. Rainier. (What Mt. Rainier looks like) My mom called, worst timing ever, and I spilled the beans. She commenced with talking me out of it by telling me that small planes explode, the pilots don’t know what they’re doing, and she begged me not to go.

I didn’t go.

Last year, I had a road trip planned to Seattle (a three hour drive for me), to meet some friends for a girl’s weekend. My father called me and repeatedly asked if he could buy me a plane ticket because he was afraid of me driving alone. I’m FORTY-ONE YEARS OLD, kids. I finally, at that moment, had the guts to tell him, “Dad, I can’t be so afraid of dying that I don’t live.”

Flash forward to Sunday. Here’s this pilot asking if we would like to go in the helicopter – something I KNOW my loving parents would think was an unnecessary risk. Make no mistake – they loved me and provided me with everything. I love them and thank them dearly for it. But being afraid to do anything isn’t something I want to pass on to my own kids.

Things happened quickly after that, but I knew that Girl Child needed to go. I wanted to watch – not experience it myself. Deep down I knew I needed to let HER experience it. Bestie took Girl and her daughter in the helicopter.

I watched her take off in the helicopter, not even looking back, and I knew I had changed something not only with HER, but with me. I gave her permission to live. Read the rest of this entry »

An off-kiltered heart

In balance, balanced living, breathing, busyness, calendar, clutter, inspiration, intentional, lent, life, listening, living, meaning, ordis amoris on March 25, 2011 at 10:50 pm

By Paula Gamble

I went to the woods this week – it is a place where my soul is deeply restored. I feel grounded the minute I step into the urban forests around Portland – I love the sensation of a rich store of oxygen filling my lungs. The barren wintery landscape is starting to fill out with small budding sprouts…there is hope…new life, growth, expectation.

After crossing an old stone bridge, I stopped to watch some birds flitting from branch to branch, in a flirtatious chase, picking up lichen, calling out a melodious chicka-dee-dee-dee. They made me smile and utter a supressed giggle. Contemplating these frolickers, I realized I could not distinguish if they were working, loving or playing. And in an instant I longed to echo their manner of living.

But how?

Am I to merely “balance” my life by getting work, relationships and leisure in proper priorities? Do I just reorder my schedule? Well, that doesn’t actually solve the core of my issue because an off-kiltered schedule always betrays an off-kiltered heart. Merely reordering schedules and lifestyle, fundamentally, starts at a heart level, not a calendar level.

Augustine said that everyone has a spirituality that can be defined in an ordis amoris – a way of ordering loves. Our spirituality, and the meaning of our lives, comes not so much by what we believe, but how we order our loves and how we integrate love into all that we do. It is accepting our frailty, offering our time, our wallets and our relationships to creation and our fellow creatures in ways that promote love that moves us toward this integration. It requires an intentional cooperation with One greater than us, and letting the soulrest that results from that synchronicity flow into our spending, our scheduling, our loving.

I go to the woods, like Thoreau, “to live life deliberately…and to put to rout all that [is] not life and not when I… come to die discover that I [have] not lived.” It takes intentionality. It takes paying attention at a heart level, not just a calendar level. Really living is a life where work, love and play are more and more indistinguishable and unfrenzied. I’d like that.

To read more from Paula, please visit her blog by clicking –> here.