Friday, July 30, 2010

Defining Moments #2

Some time in all my thinking recently I remembered and contemplated a simple truth that is nonetheless profound: there are tiny moments in each of our lives which define who we are and what we stand for. These are moments in which we make decisions that place us on certain paths throughout life. These are also moments in which others observe us and decide who they think we are.

I had a conversation with my daughter Mindy recently that I think was another defining moment for each of us (it wasn't new, but was none the less a reinforcing moment). I was looking at a couple of photos of myself for the first time (in which a friend suggested particular poses), and told Mindy I could never show them to anyone because I felt they made me look like I was out on the prowl to entice a man to want to come and lay with me (something I would NEVER do!). I asked Mindy if it was just me, or if it looked that way to her, too. She agreed that they did look sensual, and added that if she were me she would delete them because if anyone saw the photos it would give them a whole new perception of me.

She then added her opinion that the way we portray ourselves is usually the way we want others to see us. I agreed with Mindy, and happily pushed the delete button for both photos. :D

I know this is a simple and small example, but I am quite happy with my daughter for her insight and determination to portray herself as wholesome and appropriate. And I am happy with myself for doing the same. This was another moment in which we both again defined ourselves as women of virtue and we like it! :D

I share this experience - not to brag - but because I think experiences like these need to be shared and made more popular... because hearing stories like these from others when I was a youth helped me to strive to do the unpopular thing... (I have always strove to dress and act modestly, and not make it difficult for men to keep their minds pure). This has blessed my life immensely, as I'm sure it blessed my male friends as well..

It is my hope... to let others (who make similar choices) know that they are not alone... and they are cool! :D

It is also my hope to encourage women to have the courage and selflessness to think of how they affect men, and do their part to make it easier on the men.... just as they may hope other women will one day do for their sons - and their husband. :)

May you enjoy defining yourself...
Corine :D

PS. Defining moments in our lives - For me, these moments come when I set aside the expectations of the world... and hold fast to pleasing and meeting the expectations of God.

They come when I please God, not the world.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Recent Summer Fun... Photos mostly (...though you know I gotta talk some, too :)

Hi. I haven't written in a while. I have had so many fun experiences lately. I feel really blessed. Life has been so busy that I hardly know where to start... There is so much worth writing about... and so little time to write it in. Well, let's see... my daughter and I also both just started working at the Cafe Carambola a few days ago... our favorite restaurant in the universe!!! Yeah! :D Mindy now works there Mon-Friday, I work there on Fridays. We are so excited. It might only last a short time since the Cafe has regular workers who are away and plan on coming back soon, but we will enjoy it thoroughly while it lasts. :)

What else? I did go out of town with a friend... and made it a vacation we did! We briefly visited my father in law, the Pacific Ocean of Westport Washington, one of my sisters and family, two of my brothers and family, and... we got all mudded down with minerals that made our skin silky smooth..., followed by showers, swimming in the pool ~ and of course, soaking in the hot tub... all in one convenient location - the Soap Lake Resort (yes, we camped there for one night to lengthen our vacation from day to day living. :) I really wanted to see another brother and a couple of cousins on this trip, too; but that didn't pan out. On the bright side of things, that just means I get to plan another trip! :D

On top of it all, this past Saturday I took the kids to Hayden Days Fair. The twins lost interest right away and went home... but Mindy and I sure had fun following Levi and his little buddy (adopted little brother, Garret) around; they earned fish, rode a camel, took a ride on a hot air balloon, and played games while we girls browsed around gleefully. We girls also took a quick ride in the hot air balloon. :D It was an amazing feeling... floating up into the air all at once! I'm so glad we did the mini $10.00 version of this experience...because it usually lasts an hour and costs around $175 per person. :O

OK ~ I know this is totally premature... but I just have to brag for a minute about some cool experiences I had at the fair. One of the things I enjoy most at these fairs is following the kids around and taking photos. Even when the kids are off on their own I have a great time taking photos here and there of the booths etc... I did that on this outing, as usual and was surprised to discover that there was a photographer there with a booth who let me know he had been "watching me" and that I was "a great photographer;" this boosted my photography ego a bit! :D I laughed (esp knowing that he had never seen any of my photos) and reminded him that we met each other at his booth at the fair last year, and that I was still planning to call him to schedule lessons... his response was, "Why? You don't need them!" :D I was again flattered, but informed him that he would be teaching me soon (mental note: budget in a private lesson or two...). I have to admit though... when I saw my boys (Levi and my favorite little neighbor/adopted son) in the Coeur d'Alene press this past Sunday in the hot air balloon, I compared the photos I took of the boys and decided that just maybe I am an OK beginner photographer. ;) Maybe this "wanna be" has a future in photography after all! :D Oh, and bty., I was stopped by another individual who asked me what I was taking photos for and if I was making a good living at it... along with a million questions about the camera and my experience. I was a bit surprised and let her know I was taking them just for myself. She seemed to think I was a pro or something. Imagine that - me - a pro... :O... :D ~ I just had to laugh because I am a total "wanna be" who is on "auto" most of the time. BUT I REALLY do WANT TO LEARN MORE!!! All in good time. I think my season for continued learning is just around the bend.

Now... for some of those "wanna be" photos! ;D...

Dock Street in Westport Washington. This is a fun place to visit. I love to see the old ships and wander through the shops at all the novice gifts. When ever I am here with my kids, I take them to the ice cream shop there, too. It is incredibly delicious... and a fun tradition.
Aren't the ships amazing to look at? This day was terribly dark and dull... It is so much prettier on a beautiful sunny day; but I still enjoyed it. I always love looking at the reflections in the water.

I always enjoy walking over this bridge and looking at the water. The view is spectacular! Can you think of a better place to take a walk? :)

I make friends everywhere I go (OK... maybe not usually such good friends that we always exchange addresses, but friends enough to socialize and have a good time with while I'm there). On this trip, a cute old fisherman offered to let me sail his RC boat. I took a few other photos of him in his boat with his dog as I walked by again later. I so enjoy meeting friendly people! :D

OK - Truth be told... I don't own a cell phone camera. I just nabbed my friend's to stage this photo because I have this crazy affinity for seeing photos of myself taking photos... but I wanted a better quality photo than her camera phone was capable of, so I asked her to use my camera to take this photo of me. :D I know... I am such a KID... :D

I absolutely love meandering through the docks ~ watching people do the things they do... fishing, crabbing, hunting for starfish, watching for seals etc. I always see seals in Westport... though on this particular afternoon I saw only a couple and they weren't close enough for me to get a good photo. Usually there are a ton of them right up close to the docks - especially on Dock Street near the docked ships. They seem to love it there. Seals are one of my favorite animals. I love their grace and beauty.

Men measuring crab to see if they are large enough to take home...
This one was barely large enough. :O

These rocks are fun to run around on... for the adventurous! :D One does have to be careful where one goes; people have fallen through in some locations. The rocks make majestic and beautiful walls.
They make for a great view, too! :D  Do you notice that there are not one, but two ships in this photo? The one on the right is a submarine... above water.
I really enjoyed taking these photos. I was practicing my new aperture skills. :D
I think I will crop a photo of the ship. Which one do you think would look best? (I'm thinking the last one.)

I love seagulls. :D

Practicing with aperture, again.

Another feature I love on these beaches are the many beautiful drift woods that drift in. (No pun intended :O) ~ I also love to see the specks of greenery about the area. The color combinations are fabulous... (provided the day is not too grey to see them!!!)

My friend, Dee.

My friend, Me. :D

I took a bunch of photos of Dee, but since you don't know her I only put up the ones with the coolest background, or different backgrounds than the ones I was in. :O

OK - I'm done laying around...

Time to jump on out of here... ;D
It looks like the photos taken in Westport will have to do for now. I'll try to post photos taken at Soap Lake and the Hayden Days fair in a day or so.

Wishing you a Happy Day! :D

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Defining Moments...

Years ago, while attending college, I took a class called Development through the Lifespan. As you might guess, it was all about people and the stages of development that we go through throughout our lives; being a "people person" who loves to analyze and investigate I found this to be one of my favorite classes.

I remember so clearly that classroom. The chairs were not of the same level; the farther back one went, the higher the chairs got. It was like being in a mini stadium. In most of my classes I would be found sitting in the front row, but in this class I sat in one of the springy chairs towards the back of the class near a friend who enjoyed sitting near the back. I was delightfully surprised to find that the classroom design made for an excellent "people watching" experience; I loved it! Not only could I sit and learn about people in lecture... I could also play the part of a social scientist - and learn about people through observation.

One day the subject of discussion was happiness. The instructor talked about a research done on  the attitudes and thoughts of people in their final breaths of life. She talked about the stage of Reflection which all humans seem to go through when they know they are about to leave this life. They examine their lives and create mental summaries along with a concluding attitude about the life that they lived.

I remember being extremely intrigued as the instructor talked about the conclusions people drew about their lives. The researchers doing the study hoped to find some kind of consistent themes among the happy, and the sad; among those who concluded that their lives were good - and left resting in peace; and some kind of contrasting theme among those who were unhappy with their lives - and left feeling troubled or discontent.

Themes they may have expected to find include themes like... having a substantial income, a prestigious job, a stable home environment growing up, a life void of particular stresses and tragedies, climbing the ladders of success in one's area of business success etc. among others. Surely, they thought, certain life situations and experiences were guaranteed to generate happiness.

But the results were not as expected. People who lived very similar lives by these standards drew very different conclusions about the value of their lives. Some with very high stations in life, nice homes, much money, great success in their careers etc. were very unhappy with their lives. Many who were very poor and seemed to leave no mark or name for themselves left their life journeys feeling very happy. Many who experienced overwhelming circumstances and great emotional difficulties got through them, moved on and never looked back with sadness or despair; they were just experiences... not worth dwelling or focusing on. Moments of sorrow and tragedy were the "My goodness... I forgot about that" moments; they weren't the moments that stood out in their minds.

In short; It wasn't what happened, but the attitude and degree of focus one had about what happened that made the difference in determining whether a person was happy or not. Happiness can be a very unpredictable thing.

Taking this concept a bit further... I wonder if the moments we choose to focus on tend to define or outline our views in life. When we think about a person, do we tend to generalize an image about them which stands as the backdrop in our minds of what that person is like... a backdrop of who they are? Do experiences they went through tend to color all of our thoughts, memories, and images of that person? Or do we think of them simply as children of God / as people just like us who are also going through experiences which do not at all define who they are?

I also wonder if we do this with our own lives. What do we focus on? What are the memories that we come back to repeatedly ~ which create our views, our perspectives and thoughts?

Hopefully our views are not cluttered with disappointment over unmet or unrealistic expectations. Hopefully the perspective lenses we see life through are colored with memories of moments which have lifted us up and made our lives happier. Moments... not of shock, tragedy, or loss... but instead, moments of happiness, surprises, goodness, gain, and of good solid happy memories - even if all we can say from some memories is that they made us better people or helped us to grow.

As I examine my life and consider what I may reflect upon at the close of my life I can't help not examine my own perspectives - on life - and on people - and ask myself what moments in time I have filed away in my "focus on and remember well" file.

What are the moments that define your image of your life?

What is it that paints your colored glasses of perception, which affect how you view life, yourself, other people... the rest of the world?

Have you ever looked at the files of your memories and done any re-categorizing?

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Departure of a Loved One...

There have been times when I have missed friends SO MUCH, that I ached with emptiness.

I felt this when my mother in law passed on, too. She was is an amazing friend to me. I would call her when life was overwhelming; she was always there for me. And she always made me feel so wonderful... like I was great... like I was amazing! She treated me SO GOOD!  She.  really.  loved.  me! 

My mother in law was one of my closest friends. So when she left this earth... I cried nonstop. It was so hard; I missed her so much. I wanted her near me and ached at the thought of never being able to visit with, hug, or pick up the phone to call her again. What was I to do when I needed someone to talk to now that she was gone? Where and how would I ever find another friend like her?

Feelings of loss tormented me. But somehow, the loss was replaced with the realization that I had been SO blessed to know and to love and to be in her presence FOR THE AMAZING TIME THAT I HAD ~ a blessing that few in this earth were blessed to have experienced.

( of the last photos taken of my beautiful mother in law (and father in law) with my children before she left this earth. ...a very loving grandma :)

Suddenly, it wasn't the loss I was focused on... it was the gain,  the blessing I had been blessed with among so few others on this Earth. She was is  an amazing friend to me and all of my family. Before she passed on I would call her when life was overwhelming, and she would listen to my problems and reassure me that everything would be OK. And she always made me feel so wonderful... like I was great... like I was amazing! She treated me SO GOOD! She really loved me! She visited me in regular intervals... every April, and every October. She was the constant in my life... the one friend I always knew I could count on. And she loved doing it. She loved spending time with me. She loved spending time with all of my family.

As my heart and mind made the switch from focusing on the loss... to focusing on the gain, I realized that having her in my life for the 17 years or so that I did... was absolutely amazing! It was more than I could ever have thought to ask for... how could it not be enough?

It was a process... it wasn't instantaneous, and I still shed a few tears now and then over missing her. But it did happen. Heavenly Father blessed me to become so overwhelmed with gratitude for the time I had... that I was blessed with tremendous healing and joy in the grieving process. I stopped crying incessantly. I stopped grieving. I came to accept the change, not as a tragedy, but rather just as a change. And life was, again... good.

I think this is one of the challenges we all face in life each and every day. There are unmet expectations, failures, disappointments, struggles, challenges, moments of loneliness... emptiness, and losses. But among these all are great blessings: opportunities we never dreamed of, successes, joys, growth, and beautiful memories.

There is always so much to be thankful for if we will simply allow ourselves to focus not on what we don't have... but on what we do have; there is so much to be thankful for if we will simply allow ourselves to see and feel the blessings.

Right now... I have the opportunity to learn from my friend and mother. I have the blessing and opportunity to learn to become, to be, "the constant" in another person's life. I pray that I will succeed as well as she did.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Part 2 of the "Cootie" Story ~ The Kid's Response...

Remember the last blog I wrote? The one titled WARNING: This blog post is rated PG 13 ~ for the "Cootie" Sensitive ;)? Well, for those of you who are curious about what happened when I reread that supposedly "PG 13" rated story here's part two...

As I was saying... I was giggling with enjoyment as I finished writing the above mentioned story. This giggling really got the kids curious, and my daughter, Mindy asked me to read aloud.

So I did.

A few minutes later Mindy energetically asked me to read it to them all again (she is a great actress, and I bought into it!). "Wow... I thought, she actually enjoyed that little story." So I began to read it again. (BTY - Mindy just read this and informed me... "MOM... I REALLY DID ENJOY IT." Cool. But no matter; this story continues on the same non the less. :)  When it got to the part about my husband kissing me, Devry sat in the back seat and did a little count down with 3 fingers, beginning with his pinkie finger; 3, 2, 1 (he landed on the middle finger at one and quickly swapped it with another finger). Levi quickly let me know that Devry accidentally "gave me the finger" by making a fist with one hand and placed his index finger behind the area of the middle finger as he muttered with disgust about Devry's horrible mistake. I laughed out loud!

Simultaneously, the four kids all leaned over and acted out some awful puking sounds in response to the "kiss.". (And to think I didn't know my twins had the skills or talents of drama! :0)

I just had to laugh. Kids are so innocent - so awesome - and so funny! :)  I'm so thankful for all the super good kids in the world who actually care about decency ~ and really do try their best not to do wrong... even by accident.

Is is any wonder that Christ teachs that unless we become as little children... we can not enter the kingdom of God? Thank God for kids. They are our friends. They are our entertainment. They are our teachers. They are our examples. ~ Kids. and. Youth. ARE. Wonderful!  Don't let their difficult moments fool you. If you look for it... you will see so much good! ~  I hope to be as wonderful as a kid one day, too.  :)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

In God We Trust

In God we trust.

Happy Independency Day!

Thank God, for people who trust in God. ;)