Saturday, October 13, 2018

My Canadian Adventure

     In September, I enjoyed a lovely 9-day adventure in Canada. We traveled to Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto and Niagara Falls. The country is beautiful and the people are friendly. I decided that the Canadians are way smarter than we are in many ways, health care being one, dedicated bicycle lanes being another.
     A common question is "what was your favorite thing on the trip?" While I enjoyed the unique flavor of all four cities and happily added a Toronto Blue Jays game to my MLB-stadium bucket-list quest, my favorite thing was a completely unexpected musical event. At the aforementioned baseball game, at national anthem time, an adorable red-haired boy took the microphone and sang both the Canadian and U.S. anthems a cappella perfectly. No sign whatsoever of being nervous! In front of thousands of people! I'm guessing his age to be in the range of 10-12 years. It was goose-bumping astounding, one of a small handful of truly profound musical performances I have witnessed in my life.
     This was another reminder for me to stay open to wonder, for we never know when or how we will encounter it.
     Lovin' life,
             Leta

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Pain in the Ass and Elsewhere

     I am having my left hip joint replaced on November 13. As weird as it may seem, I can hardly wait.
(See my July 13 post for initial discussion of this long-term hip issue.)
     I met with a potential surgeon on Aug. 30 and everything is a "go." I like him, he will perform the anterior procedure (yielding a quicker recovery than the posterior version), and there was no question as to whether the replacement is necessary. Alas, with the surgery date scheduled, and having an end to pain in sight, I feel like my butt muscles (hence the pain in the ass) are hurting more than ever. I continue to use over-the-counter pain medications sparingly. I am regularly in the conundrum of "I don't want to move" vs. "I have to keep moving." No one activity seems to make the ache worse. It's just that some days and nights are worse than others.
     This leads me, during these six weeks prior to surgery, to ask myself, "What do I really want?"
     First and foremost, I want to go into the surgery with my body in a maximum state of healing ability. That involves several things. I have to keep moving, which really isn't a problem for me as I am very consistent at regular exercise (swimming, golfing, yoga, walking, MELTing). I don't have many travel plans or events in the next six weeks, so being home enables me to have more control over my diet, and I am committed to eating well on an ongoing basis. I may lose some weight, I may not, I'm not too concerned about that. I will enjoy it if it happens!
     Next I want peace of mind. This isn't just about not being scared going into surgery.  I want to be free of the self-criticism for allowing myself to get to the point of needing surgery in the first place. It's an easy, negative trap for me to fall into. However, when I ask myself if I would have done anything in life differently to try to avoid this, the answer is "no." I am spectacularly healthy overall, and life has been and continues to be good. It's simply time to fix the issue and move on. I am so thankful that it can be fixed!
     To support peace of mind going into the surgery, I'm using the methodology described in the book, "Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster," by Peggy Huddleston. It uses meditation, relaxation techniques and affirmations before, during and after surgery to inspire the mind-body connection to heal comfortably and quickly. It includes information on many studies that have shown these techniques to speed healing and reduce the length of hospital stays.
     Another thing that I want relative to this experience will be some help from friends. There are a few days after surgery wherein my husband needs to be out of town. Also, the surgeon told me that I would be on a walker for 7-10 days, and I'm NOT going out in public with a walker, so I will need friend visits to keep me from going stir-crazy at home during that time. I'll be OK with a cane (doctor said another 7-10 days after the walker), but for some reason, the walker just screams "old lady" and that's not me. The key thing relative to friends is that I have to ask for help, something that is not necessarily on my "easy to do" list. Fortunately, I'm confident that folks will step up gladly to support me.
     I ran across this lovely prayer by Ernest Holmes which I shall take with me on surgery day:
There is peace at the center of my being...in this peace that holds me so gently, I find strength and protection from all fear or anxiety. It is the peace of God in which I feel the love of a Holy Presence. I am so conscious of this love, this protection, that every sense of fear slips away from me as mist fades in the morning light. I see good in everything, God personified in all people, Life manifest in every event. Spirit is not separate from persons or events; I see that It unites everything with Itself, vitalizing all with the energy of Its own being, surrounding everything with peace and quiet and calm. I am one with this deep, abiding peace. I know that all is well.
     Closer to surgery time, I will also be contacting some friends and family members to hold me in prayer the day of surgery and during initial recovery. I am a firm believer in the power of prayer to support and heal. 
     To be continued,
          Leta


Monday, September 10, 2018

Pitchfork in Hands

     I have found that it is amazing what some folks will say to a person who has a pitchfork in her hands. One incident I could have blown off, but now it has happened twice. So with some ironic humor, I share these incidents here.
     In both cases, the pitchfork was for loading mulch into a cart to be spread around our garden. It's a dirty, sweaty job, but ultimately, it saves a lot of weeding.
     The first incident occurred when my older son was probably in the 12-14 years old range. I was in hot, sweaty, forking mode when my son stopped, looked at me, and said, "Boy, Mom, you sure have a lot of gray hair." With an exceedingly threatening "mom look," my reply was, "I have a pitchfork in my hands, and I know how to use it!" He high-tailed it outta there.
     Fast forward to last week, and the huge pile of mulch left in our front yard after having massive tree trimming done around our house. I'll refer to the offender this time as Fence, because it was the neighbor directly behind our house who doesn't take care of the place, and whose fence has been falling on our property literally for years. Her backyard is full of numerous noxious weeds that have invaded our garden and cause me considerable weeding effort. I feel much angst toward this person.
     Fence was visiting our next-door neighbor, saw me working on the mulch pile, and yelled, "Looking good, Leta!" My first thought was, "I have a pitchfork in my hands, and I know how to use it!" Fortunately my husband was nearby, saw the look on my face, and winked at me to diffuse my inclinations.
     Be very cautious when speaking to someone with a pitchfork in their hands!
             Leta

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Biomimicry--New to Me--Hope, Inspiration, Creativity

      Here's some news that is exciting and worth watching:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf4oW8OtaPY&feature=youtu.be

     It's a 21-minute video about finding solutions in the way nature does things. It gives me great hope for our collective future. I love the creativity being demonstrated in so many ways that we don't even know about, because we are so blasted with fear-based, negative news. Please hold the vision of a more planet-friendly humanity with me.
               Leta

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

My Freedoms AND Yours

Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.
         --Thomas Paine, one of the Founding Fathers of our (already, always has been) great U.S.

     Many years ago, I had a conversation with a family member discussing freedom of speech. Let's just say that philosophically, the two of us are worlds apart. We did, however, agree that freedom of speech is a bedrock of freedom, critically important. That was until I said something to which he reacted very emotionally and pronounced "blasphemous." He said, "You should not be allowed to say such a thing." Let me end this description of our conversation by saying that we simply agreed to disagree, and we have stayed clear of such discussions ever since. 
     Please re-read the quote above. The conservative right end of our current cultural, religious and political spectrum seems determined to have the wealth, power, resources and freedoms for themselves, and prevent others whom they deem unworthy from sharing in the bounty. That goes against all our great country was founded upon, and clearly, the Founding Fathers knew from personal experience that that approach would not work.
     Our great country has fought wars and invests gadzillions of dollars in the military to maintain the rights that Thomas Paine referenced. It is standing up for the rights of every single human being that has made the U.S. great from day one. I am so grateful for the fearlessness of our Founding Fathers!
     Loving our freedoms,
            Leta


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Return to Joy

(See previous post, "Grieving")
      Slowly, the grief I have been feeling is mellowing. In a session with my spiritual coach, it became evident to me that I have been focusing on frightening things that could happen, but most likely won't. So many fears were overwhelming. My coach's gentle guidance brought me back to paying attention to the present moment, wherein, for the most part, things are fairly great.
     I generally make the conscious effort to live from a place of joy, and I am working my way back there with increasingly more energy each day. This morning, three fun moments reminded me to be present. The first was in a daily reading, the phrase that this is "another day in paradise." I agree! I have no cynicism relative to that phrase. Just being alive is paradise. On top of that, I swam over 3/4 mile, and taught a yoga class, all before noon. I'm grateful for all I can do.
     The second moment was seeing a Garmin (location technology) truck with the catchphrase, "Taking you to your next adventure." If I look at each next thing I get to do as an adventure, rather than a "have to," life is much more enjoyable.
     And in a third moment of playfulness, I noticed this on my drive to yoga this morning: on the power lines high above the highway, there were hundreds of birds in one section between poles. The three-wire set was almost full of birds. The next section was empty, then the next section had one single bird. "Ah, that's the introvert bird," I thought. Being an introvert myself, I appreciate that one bird's stand to be alone on that wire. It gave me a present-moment smile.
     Given the fear-based mentality so prevalent in our society right now, it is no small challenge to stay focused on the present joy-full moment. I believe a really famous person said, multiple times, "Fear not." I'm working on it.
     Breathe,
         Leta


Sunday, August 5, 2018

Grieving

     Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted.  (from the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:4)
     Over the past few weeks, a number of losses have impressed upon my psyche, including one very large one and a bunch of lesser ones, a pile that has finally built to overwhelming. Note that overwhelming for me means that I am crying a lot. For privacy's sake, I'm not going into details. No one close to me has died, though it feels that way at the moment.
     I have been through deep grief before, as both of my parents have transitioned. However, that was quite a while ago, so I forgot what deep grief feels like. Besides the crying, I don't feel like doing anything, combined with extreme boredom. I have to force myself to do even small tasks. I want to escape, literally by traveling, or by eating, or by shopping, anything to make this hurt pass. Some of it most likely will pass, but some of it will remain as an undercurrent in life, such as grief over aging, my own and others.
     I try to talk myself out of it. "Things could be worse." "Get over it." "Don't be so lazy." "Other folks have it much worse than I do." That's not working. I know I simply have to feel the feelings and keep on trudging along. Remind myself that all these tears are soul-cleansing. And this, too, shall pass.
      Looking forward to the comfort,
                Leta

Image result for grief

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Baseball Tour Day 10, and alas, Day 11

Monday, July 30 & Tuesday, July 31. I started Monday well with another Hyatt swim. This time the roof was open-I love swimming under the open sky! I called the Museum of Fine Arts and learned that I could check my luggage there, greatly simplifying my travel. So I checked out of the Hyatt and took an Uber to the Museum. It was outstanding! Just the structure alone is huge and amazing to see. You definitely need the map and plenty of hours to see everything. In my three hours there, I'd say I saw maybe half of it. My favorite thing was the whole room devoted to Monet paintings, including two of my favorites, Water Lilies and The Water Lily Pond. The variety of art is amazing. I saw Egyptian mummies and a huge hanging sculpture made from, I kid you not, "styrofoam cups and hot glue." Gaugin, Renoir, Van Gogh, Homer, along with sculptures, stained glass, and painted porcelain. It was well worth the steep price of admission, $25, which is so typical for everything in Boston. 

Mid-afternoon I called an Uber to go to the airport and was blessed with a driver wearing a Cubs World Series ball cap who was born in the Dominican Republic, source of many current and past great players in the Majors. Needless to say, a lively baseball discussion ensued. All went well at the airport and on my flight to Houston until we landed 45 minutes late. With a terminal change required and well over a mile of scampering, I missed my flight to Wichita, the last of the day. GRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!! Of course, United would accept no responsibility, so I got an extra night of vacation at the airport Marriott for the United discount price of only $140!!!! GRRRRRRR!!!!!! I was so mad, I was in tears (as well as exhausted and sore from a 4-hour flight in the middle seat between two large men). I did get a few hours of sleep.

Tuesday... My 9:25 flight was late (why couldn't that have happened last night????), but finally, I'm home!!!!!! Plans are to avoid United in the future as much as possible. Overall, an outstanding vacation. GO, CUBBIES!!!!!!!!
Thanks for reading about my adventures!!!!
     Leta, the baseball nut

The Styrofoam Cup Sculpture


Monday, July 30, 2018

Baseball Tour Day 9--Quack Quack

Sunday, July 29. I slept in past 8:00, magnificent. Even more magnificent for my travel-weary body was a swim in the Hyatt's lap pool. After showering, dressing, and blogging, I called an Uber for a ride to the Boston Museum of Science. There I caught my ride on the Boston Duck Tour. The duck I was on was an original land-and-sea vessel from WW2, modified for tourists, of course. Touring the famous streets of Boston, our guide was equal parts full-of-shit, historian, and good teller of bad jokes, wearing farmer's overalls even. When it came time for the duck to go in the water, the driver simply drove down a concrete ramp into the Charles River, the propeller started up, and off we went for great views of the Boston and Cambridge skylines. We got out of the river via the same ramp. I'm not sure the tour was worth the money, but it was a novelty I had not experienced before.
After the Duck Tour, I took off walking toward Little Italy and the Freedom Trail (a walking tour of Boston's historical sights). I saw TD Garden where the Boston Celtics and Bruins play. I had a great time roaming around the many stalls of the Boston Public Market, purchasing a couple of snacks for later. Humidity and hunger won out over history (no surprise, I've never liked history much), so I walked to Little Italy and settled on Pagliuca's Restaurant. There I enjoyed great Italian bread and excellent eggplant Parmesan with a side of spaghetti with red sauce. That fortified me enough to walk by Paul Revere's house, but there was a big line, and the entrance was blocked so I couldn't even see the house. Geez. So I called an uber and returned to the Hyatt, to rest up for the Cubs-Cardinals evening game. Cubs won, after midnight, due to a rain delay.
Tomorrow... the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and (yippee!!!) back home.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Baseball Tour Day 8 Fenway

Saturday, July 28. From Albany, we headed out about 9am for Boston, arriving just after noon. I enjoyed a quick lunch with tour buds at the Boston Beer Works adjacent to Fenway. As soon as I saw it on the menu, I knew I had to have the New England classic--clam chowder. That and a local IPA made a great lunch. 
We then met our Fenway tour guide at the HUGE Red Sox team store. He was a super guide, full of history and funny stories. Today happens to be a game day honoring military, so every seat has an " I salute ____________" sign for folks to fill out and display in unison at a designated point during the game. Cool!!! We saw Fenway Farms, a giant rooftop garden supplying the ballpark. We got to sit on top of the Green Monsta (Boston pronunciation). It was erected to block free game watchers across the street, and also to stop home runs from breaking windows in the new car lots over there. We went by the giant press box (second in size only to Yankee Stadium) and the single red seat in center field where Ted Willams landed a 510' homer, the longest ever measured inside Fenway. We didn't get to go to field level or the dugout because of it being a game day. Great tour, nonetheless. 
We checked into our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Cambidge (passing the lovely MIT campus) with some time to settle in and relax before heading back to Fenway at 5:30 for the Sox-Twins game. 
The bus dropped us off outside Fenway and a bunch of our group decided to walk around the outside before going in. The atmosphere around Fenway is very much like Wrigley on game day--loads of people eating, drinking, shopping for souvenirs, bands playing, great merriment. The Fenway delicacy I chose was an Italian sausage with sautéed onions and peppers, quite yummy. We got to our seats in time for an honoring on-field of 500+ family members of deceased military. We were in the outfield on the right field side. We saw two homers, one of which went over the Green Monsta. There was plenty of action in the Red Sox 10-4 win over the Twins. The goofiest thing was the fan-ritual singing in the 8th inning of "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond. I hate that song, but the fans surely were entertaining and enthusiastic. 
Alas, this was the last night of the tour, so when we returned to the hotel, we said our goodbyes to a great bunch of baseball fans and new friends we hope to see on future baseball tours. This tour was some of the best money I ever spent, and I would go on another Triple Crown Baseball Tour again in a heartbeat. Still to come... two more days of Boston fun... 




Saturday, July 28, 2018

Baseball Tour Day 7--Hall of Fame

Friday, July 27. We left NYC (great joy on my part) and headed to Cooperstown. The countryside of NY is so much like Pennsylvania where I grew up that it was like a "little bit of home." Beautiful rolling hills, farms, trees, flowers, quaint little towns. Along the way we watched on the bus the heart-warming baseball movie, The Rookie. 
We arrived in Cooperstown just after noon. It is a gorgeous small town with a lively Main Street that was all set for Hall of Fame Induction weekend. Yep, we hit Cooperstown at the perfect time. The HOF is way more awesome than I could have ever imagined. Three floors of exhibits about how baseball started, well over 100 years of history, every record imaginable, displays for each team, baseball artworks, and then a great hall and rotunda with all the individual Hall of Fame plaques. I spent over four hours roaming and could have easily spent a couple more. The "icing on the cake" was a movie about baseball with many of the greats of my lifetime. It epitomizes why I love baseball so much, and I walked out of it in tears, as did many others. I'm thinking that the HOF was the pinnacle of the tour. 
I wandered around town and had a pizza lunch, shopped, and later sat and enjoyed an ice cream and talked with one of the street vendors. There are loads of vendors on the streets for Induction weekend. To my great delight, I found a Life-Is-Good store and could not pass up a Cooperstown-baseball Life is Good shirt--it's totally me. There was a huge lazing Golden Retriever in the store, making me homesick for Dusty, but alas, the dog was not for sale. Several of my fellow tour buds saw former players around town--Darryl Strawberry, Pete Rose, Dale Murphy--but I missed them. 
We left Cooperstown around 6pm, and drove to our overnight stop in Albany. About a third of our group of 52 went out to a sports bar for supper. It has really been a fun group and we had a lot of laughs, especially with Bobby, our host from Australia. Yep, he's that big of a fan, to travel halfway around the world to do these tours. 
Another day in paradise!!!









Friday, July 27, 2018

Baseball Tour Day 6--NYC Goals Accomplished

Thursday, July 26.  After a long, glorious night of sleep, I showered, dressed in Royals garb, and went out to the Starbucks in the next block that I had scoped out from the bus. It's amazing when I say that I'm going to Starbucks for a "cheap" breakfast, but that's NYC. 

I met up with two tour buds and we headed for the subway to take us to the 9/11 Memorial. After successfully navigating the subway ticket purchase, we boarded, rode south to our stop, then used our phones to navigate to the Memorial. Along the way, I got to touch the big Wall Street bull. They went off to use their pre-purchased museum tickets, and I stayed outside to tour the Memorial. It's pretty amazing, two huge square pools with perfect waterfalls on all sides, and ledges on all sides with the names of the folks who died in association with the attack. 

    

Next, I made my way toward the subway, and with the help of a NY subway official and my phone, took a train that got me near McSorley's Old Ale House, the pub that has NY's longest-continuous-open claim to fame. My Wichita friend, Deb Goin, has been there MANY times, and raves about it, so how could I pass up the chance to go there for a beer?!?! I arrived right at 11am when they open (beer for breakfast, why not?!?!), and had fun talking with the bartenders who in fact know Deb quite well. Beer choices are dark or light ale. I chose dark, a fine brew. I also had the lentil soup--very good, and at $4 a bowl, a steal in NYC. A local couple sitting next to me kindly guided me to the subway station I needed to get back to the hotel. I made a stop for a to-go salad, and went back to the Hyatt to relax and watch the Cubs, prior to the evening's Royals-Yankees game. 

Thank God for bus drivers who can handle big city traffic. The drive to Yankee Stadium was both crazy and interesting. We drove most of the way up Madison Avenue, going from the la-dee-dah of ultra-expensive designer stores to the grodiness of Harlem. We passed the magnificent St. Patrick's Cathedral. At times I think we were going at least 40 mph on the city street. The bus squeezed thru the stadium traffic with inches to spare. I roamed around two full levels of Yankee Stadium. I watched the Royals lose in an embarrassing way. For a relatively new stadium, there is nothing impressive about it. It's like they took the worst features of old stadiums and put them in the new one. I'll grant you, I'm not a Yankee fan, to put it mildly, so maybe I'm prejudiced. Actually, the best part of the evening was a conversation with a fellow solo traveler about how much we dislike NYC. It was a lovely serendipity that sat us together, because our conversation relieved a lot of city-based stress for both of us. Meanwhile, the Cubs came from behind (again!!!) and won with a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 9th. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Baseball Tour Day 5--Mostly Dry

Wednesday, July 25.  We left our Philadelphia hotel around 8:45, and had a dry drive to NYC. Just as we were nearing Citi Field, the Mets stadium, a downpour started. Geez! It all worked out well that there was a slight delay to the start of the game, because our bus driver had to make a huge, slow circle around the stadium to get to the bus parking lot. This was the first time we had covered seats, so of course, there was no rain during the game. We even saw some sunshine! My somewhat unusual ballpark food was a soft pretzel, not in the usual pretzel shape, but rather a long braided shape. I love dough, so it was a good choice. We watched a very speedy game which the Mets won (over the Padres) 6-4. 
Then our bus took us to our two-night hotel, the Grand Hyatt NYC. My room on the 24th floor is quite nice. I've only been in NYC for a few hours, and I am already reminded of what a hassle everything is here. Too many (annoyed) people, too much traffic, a hassle to get around, everything ridiculously expensive. I'm staying in tonight to rest up from our very late night last night. Oh yes, and to do laundry. I was told by our tour host that there were do-it-yourself laundry facilities here, but alas, no, only the kind you hand-wash in your own room. 
By the way, for those of you who know about Melt, I have been doing both hand and foot treatments at least twice a day. They are saving me from a lot of achiness. 
Also, Citi Field brings my stadium bucket list up to 15, halfway to completion. 

Baseball Tour Day 4--Big Wet and Long

Tuesday, July 24.  I begin writing after the Camden Yards tour. While my photos don't show it well, it was pouring rain the whole time. Paul, our tour guide, did a mostly good job of keeping us out of the rain. He was a fine guide, with lots of history, comical stories and hope for the Orioles for next year. We saw the expensive fan boxes, press boxes, communication center, and the O's dugout. While on the service level, we saw a couple of the Red Sox players, so I'm told, though I didn't recognize them. Additional rain on my parade was a credit card fraud alert, handling of which caused me to miss some of the tour info and lose that card's use for the rest of the trip. 
We headed late morning to Philadelphia by bus. The last 45 minutes or so were actually partly sunny. I kid you not, the minute our bus parked, a downpour started. It was brief, but then as my lunch buds and I headed for the Red Owl Tavern, we were drenched. I had a lovely sandwich-and-two-IPA lunch with two fun couples from Oklahoma, one celebrating their 20th anniversary, the other newlyweds. An added bonus is that one couple are die-hard Cubs fans like me. On the way back to the bus we stopped to see the Liberty Bell. 
We checked into our Courtyard Marriott, and shortly thereafter headed to the Phillies-Dodgers game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. (Note that this one was already on my bucket list.) We had only a couple times of brief, light rain through 9 innings. The Phillies came from behind to tie the game 4-4. We made it through 12 at the ballpark. The Phils finally won it through lots of rain in 16 innings with a walk off 3-run homer. Very long day!! 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Baseball Tour Day 3--Big Wet

Monday, July 23.  Before moving to the first tour hotel today (big step up), the Marriott staff kindly agreed via phone call to store my luggage till later check-in. However, when I delivered my bag, a room was already available, so I was checked in and in my room by 9am. Super charmed life! 
The National Aquarium at Baltimore Inner Harbor was my morning adventure. Excellent place! I really like museums that are set up with a directional flow to keep folks moving and ensure one sees everything, and the NA is set up that way. There is a real whale skeleton, 65 ft long, hanging in the middle of the NA. I went to a 4D dolphin movie, very cool. The 4th D was water sprayed on us, seats shaking, a poke in the back, and a brush on the leg from under the seat. It was quite clever, and you can bet there were lots of screaming kids. I touched a ray and a jellyfish. It is always good to be reminded of the whole other universe lying below the water's surface. The NA's theme: Water connects all living things.
After the Aquarium, I stopped at the Pratt Street Ale House for a beer and a salad. Here I experienced a first... I ordered a $13 salad, no meat, and they charged me 75 cents for the extra dressing I requested. Geez! 
I lazed the afternoon away (code for "nap"), then met up with the tour hosts, Darren and Bobby, and picked up my game tickets for the week. Around 6:00 I made my way over to Camden Yard, home of the Orioles, and enjoyed a walk all the way around the park, taking in the sights, smells, and brew selections. I got a beer and my most unusual ballpark food so far... Crab Chipper. That's spicy potato chips loaded with crab meat, cheese sauce, green onions, Old Bay seasoning and herbs. Yummy. I enjoyed meeting some other folks on the tour from Texas and Oklahoma. Alas, after 2 2/3 innings and two pouring rain delays, I bailed and headed back to the Marriott. Not a great start, hopefully there's no way to go but up! 

Baseball Tour Day 2

Sunday, July 22.  No alarm to wake me, what a treat! I leisurely planned my adventures for the day: Walters Museum of Art, the Baltimore Basilica, and a late lunch at a local restaurant named Maisy's. All located within a half-mile of my hotel. Uphill from my hotel, I might add.
I can't say enough good stuff about the art museum. It was outstanding in both the quality and variety of exhibits. Ancient Egyptian, Buddhist, Roman (extraordinary jewelry), armor and weapons, Impressionist paintings, those are just a few of the things I saw. There was a "Wonders" room, similar to how wealthy folks would display their collection of things unusual or interesting. I include a photo here of the "Wonders of Nature" display case, wherein you can see an armadillo, nowadays way more pest than wonder! In the Collector's Study, the explanatory sign said, "where a nobleman... might spend leisure time studying beautiful objects." I'd say that nowadays we spend way too little time doing that. The "icing on the cake" of my visit was getting to see two Monet paintings. Those truly make my heart sing! 
The tour guide at the Basilica referred to it as the first cathedral in America and the "mothership" of Catholicism in the U.S. It is very different from most cathedrals I have visited--no stained glass, limited statuary, very plain and simple by comparison. It was completed and dedicated in 1821. Alas, due to the builders' mistake, not the architect's, it was built on sand. (Doesn't the Bible mention building on sand as a problem???!?) It wasn't until 2004 during a 30-month restoration project that the potential collapse of the cathedral was averted by installing a proper foundation. Mother Theresa visited here in 1996, and there is a powerful and moving statue of her and a child in the sanctuary. The church is beautiful. The most glorious thing I noticed there, however, was the diversity, in every way, of folks leaving mass before the tour started. 
After the Basilica tour, I walked a few blocks back toward my hotel and had a late lunch at Maisy's. Starting with a great local IPA, I enjoyed the best Maryland crab cake and sweet potato fries I have ever had. Then it was back to the hotel to listen to the Cubs-Cardinals game (Cubs won), and rest up for Monday's aquarium adventure and the official start of the East Coast Baseball Tour. 

Baseball Tour Day 1--Charmed Life

Saturday, July 21.  My oft-repeated mantra is "I lead a charmed life, especially when traveling." I attribute my good fortune when traveling to equal parts my smile, my gray hair, and my very intentional pleasantness. Because so many travelers are so stressed, I make it a point to be a spot of courtesy, good manners, and peace. 
Leaving on my baseball trip today, I had to work hard at not being nervous. I had originally reserved flights with comfortably sufficient connection time allowed. Due to flight changes by United, I ended up with only 45 minutes to connect in Chicago to my Baltimore flight. After I had checked in, I noticed that I had been placed in a seat at the back of the plane. That would waste valuable time just waiting  to deplane. So when the gate agent arrived, I politely asked for a seat closer to the front. She gave me 1A. In the small plane to Chicago, that was a single seat right at the front, and Mike, the flight attendant, stowed my carry-on bag up front in the crew's bag closet. Mercifully, the flight arrived about 15 minutes early. As soon as we parked and the door opened, I was the first one off the plane.  I made my connection with about 20 minutes to spare. Whew! Charmed life.
The flight to Baltimore was successful, but delays in taking off made our arrival time around 9:30pm. The flight was rather rough due to pouring rain in the Baltimore area. I took an uber to my downtown hotel and with great relief, settled in for the night. 
By the way, my little carry-on bag was a piece of cake to lift into the overhead bin, so I can't say yet if it passes the under-the-seat test.



Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Traveling Lightly

     I love the ongoing challenge between the airlines and passengers over baggage. The airlines charge for checked luggage, so folks stuff everything into carry-on bags. Now some airlines are charging for overhead bin space, so under-the-seat bags are becoming the rage. While I absolutely can afford it, it irritates me to no end to pay baggage fees on top of the steep ticket prices. So I am now the proud owner of a pretty-damn-small under-the-seat bag. As you can see from the photos, it is just a bit bigger than a standard-size binder.
     I am leaving on a 10-day trip later this week. I am employing several strategies to pack this small bag. My husband packs for the Bike Across Kansas each year and gave me this helpful tip... put clothes in a zip-lock bag, sit on it and seal it. Voila, vacuum-packed! Fortunately, I don't need fancy clothes, so shorts and t-shirts will satisfy my needs throughout, along with one pair of good walking shoes. I learned that the hotel we are staying at midway through the trip has laundry facilities, which I will use. I don't need much jewelry or a lot of make-up or hair products. Those that I do bring are quite small. I'm also very healthy, so I don't have any drugs or medical equipment to carry. I'm very low-maintenance.


     I will be reporting on my trip here on the blog. I have a bucket-list mission to see a baseball game in every major league ballpark. As of right now, it's 13 down, 17 to go. My upcoming trip is devoted to this mission. It's a died-and-gone-to-heaven tour. I fly into Baltimore, where I've given myself an extra day to explore on my own. Once I join the group for the bus tour, we begin with a game and tour at Camden Yards. Then we go on to Philadelphia for a Phillies game. The next move is to New York City for two days to see both the Mets and Yankees, along with some free time in NYC. My two NYC tourist goals are the 911 Memorial and McSorley's Old Ale House. The "icing on the cake" of this trip is a day at Cooperstown for the Baseball Hall of Fame. We finish up in Boston where we get both a game and a tour at Fenway, plus I'm staying an extra day to explore Boston on my own. This will add four more stadiums to my bucket list, as I had previously been to a Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park.
     I am going solo on this trip. I don't know anyone who is as nuts about baseball as I am, nor willing to spend that kind of money for baseball, baseball and more baseball. The advantages of this group trip are many. Transportation in unfamiliar cities is taken care of. We have great seats and nice hotels that I probably would not have treated myself to had I planned it myself, which would have taken an extraordinary amount of my time. There will be lots of ground covered with no driving by me! The tour company (Triple Crown Travel) can take advantage of group rates and packages. I have traveled many times in my life on group tours, and I love meeting new folks, which on this tour will be extra-fun because we will all be baseball nuts. However, being the introvert that I am, I will be very happy to retreat each night to a hotel room all to myself. Can you tell I am excited?!?!?!
     More fun to come...
            Leta

Friday, July 13, 2018

My Hip is in my Head.

     I have been living with a sore, tight and achy left hip for at least five years. While something in me knew it is probably arthritis, I have resisted that label since the hip is the only place on my body where I experience any sort of discomfort. I am a firm believer in our body's ability to heal itself, so I believed that my body would eventually do just that. Along the way, I've done various things to support the healing, such as regular chiropractic, massage and yoga. MELT Method techniques have been particularly helpful in enabling me to stay active and keep the ache at a tolerable level with very little need to take pain relievers of any sort.
     Investigation of another possible healing modality (prolotherapy--look it up) led my new doctor (previous doc retired) to require x-rays of the hip to see what is truly going on in that joint. I will congratulate him on his bravery, for he is the one who finally pronounced to me that it is arthritis with bone-on-bone contact in the joint. Did I mention that I hate being medically labeled? I swear my hip has become more achy since that pronouncement.
     My doctor said, "You can have that joint replaced. It is just a matter of when you decide that it is affecting your quality of life." So now, my hip is in my head.
     First of all, I am frustrated that I was not able to heal myself. Not that I've ever had that miraculous ability! I know I can't convince myself that I can re-form the bone and rebuild the joint tissue. Where is Jesus when I need him? I do believe that someday humans will be able to heal themselves, but we just aren't that evolved yet. I fully realize that this is a dumb reason to be annoyed with myself.
     Next, in my mind, arthritis equals old. I'm not old in my head, so it aggravates me to be old in my body. Since I am so generally healthy, I like to think that I am immune to illness and declining with age. So a likely hip replacement is a wake-up call that the more years I spend on the planet, the more I may run into assorted health challenges. I am grateful that this one is rather easily fixed.
     The pros for having the hip replaced are many:

-I'm weary of the nearly constant ache that often interferes with sleep
-The arthritis and bone-on-bone contact are not going to improve
-I'm limping
-I don't want to mess up other parts of my body by continuing to compensate for this hip issue
-I want to be able to walk long distances comfortably on my many upcoming travels
-I can get this one and only thing fixed and then I'm good to go for a long time (I hope!)
-I do not like feeling handicapped or saying "I can't...." because I am hurting
-It is making it harder for me to do and teach yoga and to walk for more than a couple miles
-Maybe the surgeon can fix the life-long discrepancy in the length of my legs
-I have a good window of time in the fall to get it done.

     The cons are just big scary monsters in my head:
-I might die on the operating table
-I'll go nuts if I can't swim for several weeks
-What if it doesn't "work" and I'm still in pain
-They cut off the top of the leg bone--YUCK! (Though I am going to ask if I can have it as a souvenir)
-I know someone who went in for a "simple knee replacement" and had so many complications that he ended up many months later with a leg amputation

     Clearly, I can scare the sense out of myself if I'm not mindful of my thoughts! I know several folks who have had successful hip replacements and they are ready and willing to support me. There are good surgeons locally in Wichita that have plenty of experience with the procedure. I am very motivated, especially by my desire to travel, to recover well and quickly. Ultimately this will be just a small "blip in the action" which is my life.
      Now that I have mentally "opened the door" to the hip replacement option, I know that the knowledge, support and resources to make it happen are coming to me. I can hardly wait to hear myself say, "I'm so glad I did it!" 
      Stay tuned...
           Leta



Saturday, June 30, 2018

The PERFECT Ending

     Yesterday was likely my last visit to Wrigley Field for a CUBS game. A Cubs game at Wrigley is truly heaven on earth for me. I love baseball, the Cubs, Wrigley, Wrigleyville--I know writing this will bring me to tears, this experience has such a huge place in my heart.
     I say my "last visit" because my friend who lives in Chicago and spoils me wonderfully with so much tourist fun is moving away, and I probably won't make the effort on my own to get to a game. I'm not "shutting the door," but it was important for my experience yesterday to recognize that it may be the last time I am there.
     While my friend went elsewhere to take care of some moving business, I stepped off the train at Addison and headed toward Wrigley. I did some requisite browsing in the souvenir shops. I know that it is not possible for me to be surrounded by too much Cubs paraphernalia. I discovered a mighty-fine Cubs golf bag, and posted a hinting suggestion with photo on Facebook.
     I've been consciously trying to open up more and talk with folks I don't know. So I did that in the Cubs store, striking up a conversation with a woman working there. It was lovely. It turns out that she also is a tax preparer (what are the chances?!?!?!), then she works in the Cubs store during baseball season. So like me, she is wildly excited on Opening Day, because it means the end of tax season is oh-so-close. She talked of how she loves working in the store because shoppers are so enthusiastic and excited to be attending a game at Wrigley Field.
     Pre-game ritual involves at least one beer at the Cubbie Bear bar directly opposite the Wrigley marquee. Temps were in the high-90s, demanding cool refreshment, so that was the next stop. While there, I also achieved one of my Chicago-weekend food goals--the real thing--a Chicago Dog. My friend joined me and around 3:00, and we headed across the street for the 4:05 game vs the Minnesota Twins.
     I used the pre-game time inside the stadium to roam, take photos, and just soak up the place and feel how much I love it and love being there. As I was roaming, I noticed a couple guys talking with an usher about his 2016 World Series ring. Since the Cubs had not won a World Series since 1908, the Cubs organization gave out 1,908 rings following the 2016 championship, so the usher said "everyone got one." How cool is that!!! There are three levels of "fanciness" to the rings, from the players diamond-and-jewel-encrusted ones to very plain. The one in the photo below is the mid-level one, on MY hand!!!

     Mercifully our seats were in the shade, down the left-field side just past third base. It was gross hot and muggy. I kept telling myself that all this sweating was worth it. I told my friend that my ultimate goal of the day was to be singing "Go, Cubs, Go" at the top of my lungs, because that means the Cubs won the game.
     It was my idea of a perfect game. The Cubs were down 5-2 and came back to win 10-6. The Cubs hit four home runs, including a grand slam by Addison Russell. There were errors overcome and great defensive plays made. And I got to sing, the perfect ending to a great Wrigley experience I shall hold in my heart always.
     There IS crying in baseball,
              Leta


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Stuff We Don't Want to Think About, But We Do

     I had a discussion yesterday with someone slightly older than my 62 years who is very near and dear to my heart. Both of us are noticing some physical symptoms of aging, experiencing folks near to us either very ill or passing, considering the prospect of our own passing, and thus, pondering what sort of life and legacy we'll be leaving behind.
     While these are natural thoughts relative to a limited earthly life, we don't want to dwell on them to the point of immobilized obsession. And we don't. I believe it is completely natural to wonder about what happens when we transition, and what it will be like for those we leave among the living. But then we go on about our daily business. Two beliefs relative to all this are very comforting to me.
     The first belief is that "we never get it done." We come into physical form to create. The very essence of our beings is to create. And no matter how much we do create, there is always a desire for more. This is not greediness. It is our spiritual nature demanding expression throughout our lifetimes, no matter how long they may be. On a comical note, this means to me that it doesn't matter if I die with my house not being clean, which will very likely be the case!
    The second belief is that "one cannot un-know anything." Once we know or experience something, we can't wipe it away. The joy in this to me is that our consciousness retains all we have learned and experienced even after we leave physical form, and all that wisdom is there for us, should we choose to take on another physical form. I think that's how human consciousness continues to move beyond horrors like slavery and keep inventing amazing things.
     I close with the poem "funeral" by rupi kaur:
when i go from this place
dress the porch with garlands
as you would for a wedding my dear
pull the people from their homes
and dance in the streets
when death arrives
like a bride at the aisle
send me off in my brightest clothing
serve ice cream with rose petals to our guests
there's no reason to cry my dear
i have waited my whole life
for such a beauty to take
my breath away
when i go
let it be a celebration
for i have been here
i have lived
i have won at this game call life
Still winning,
     Leta


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Free Will and Self-Interest

     I listen regularly to the wisdom of Abraham-Hicks, a source of wisdom from our Higher Selves, Spirit, the Other Side, whatever one cares to call it. I always come away from a listening session feeling more loved. One of the things that has stuck with me long-term is Abraham's emphatic statement: "No one came here to be the keeper of you, and you did not come here to be the keeper of anyone else." It's a somewhat polite way of saying, "Mind your own business."
     Because we have free will (the fundamental basis of existence on this planet), and because we came here to expand our consciousness in myriad ways, we are most definitely creatures of self-interest. Few folks want to flat-out own that. God forbid we should be called "selfish." But according to Abraham, all that matters is that we feel good, thereby keeping our energetic vibration high, which attracts good to us (think the Beach Boys song, "Good Vibrations"). Folks who label someone as "selfish" are simply indicating that the labeled person is not behaving in a way that makes the labeler feel good. Look at your own life--your actions are done because they make you feel good in some way (even do-gooder acts) or you don't continue doing them.
     It's when we are asking someone else to be or behave differently so that we can feel better that we give up our personal power. It is impossible to change others or circumstances. Our only empowered choice is to work within ourselves to feel good, no matter what is swirling around us. Human behavior has been and always will be based on self-interest. May we be most interested in feeling good, being intimately in touch with our divine nature, aligned with Spirit. If this were the case with each one of us on the planet, there would be no wars, violence, sickness, etc. I'd say that makes self-interest look pretty damn good.
     Note that this is a "note to self." 🙂
            Leta

Sunday, June 3, 2018

An Opportunity to Appreciate a Friend

Tonight we give thanks for the great gift of friendship and in particular for my dear friend, _______________. Thank you for the circumstances that brought us together and have bound us into the sacred bundle of life. Thank you also for the gifts of our friendship: for knowledge that comforts, for words that encourage, for insight that blesses, for all the experiences shared, for the sweet bliss of deeply knowing each other in so many ways; for history and a hope of the future, for conversation and laughter, for silence, for bearing each other's witness truly, for holding each other safe in our hearts with great love and tenderness.   
     --by Daphne Rose Kingma, in "A Grateful Heart"

Make a list of all the possibilities for filling in that blank, and don't forget family members. My list includes "D, D, E, A, C, B, M, J, A, S, D, K, C, L" and many more. It's a good day to be grateful for the love in our lives!
        Leta

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Mumma's Wisdom

     This is lessons from mumma included in the book by rupi kaur titled "the sun and her flowers."

when it came to listening
my mother taught me silence
if you are drowning their voice with yours
how will you hear them she asked

when it came to speaking
she said do it with commitment
every word you say
is your own responsibility

when it came to being
she said be tender and tough at once
you need to be vulnerable to live fully
but rough enough to survive it all

when it came to choosing
she asked me to be thankful
for the choices i had that
she never had the privilege of making

     So very thankful,
               Leta

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Spirit's Delivery System -or- Why I Love Estate Sales

     I love going to estate sales. I find a treasure here and there, useful items and occasional curiosities. I love to see old-time things like my mom used when I was growing up. I'm not a collector of anything, and I generally don't have much of a want list. It's a game of "what goodies does Spirit have in store for me this week?" I can go to several sales in a day, buy nothing, but thoroughly enjoy the experience of looking. (On a side note, I would say that there are enough sets of dishes in Wichita alone to supply every person on the planet with their own set.)
     I used to have a great set of steel shaft golf clubs, Ping I-3s. In a fit of madness, I handed them off to son Eliot, because he likes the feel of them so much. I was thinking (this is the madness) that it would be good for me as an "aging" golfer to get graphite-shaft clubs. However, after two years of playing with graphite-shaft clubs, I was so frustrated that I decided I was either going to return to the Ping I-3s or quit golfing.
     So I got on Ebay. Given that the Ping I-3s are an "older" model, I had no trouble getting another set for a reasonable price. The only thing the set did not have was a sand/lob wedge, so I kept one from a previous graphite-shaft set to use in those dreadful instances when my ball lands in the beach.
     Today I was at an estate sale, where I am always on the lookout for golf clubs and equipment. (I've scored some of my best wood deals at estate sales for less than $10.) I found a golf bag with a motley assortment of clubs, and the bag and all was marked $95. Within this batch of no-name clubs was a solo Ping I-3 lob wedge! What are the chances?!?!?! So I took it up to the check-out desk and asked if I could purchase just the one club, since it was not part of a set. The two women there agreed, then one said to the other, "I have no idea how much to charge for it." They looked questioningly at me, and I said, "I'll give you $5 for it." They said, "OK, but I hope you aren't low-balling us on that." Given what I had paid for my set of Pings, and given that it was 20% off day at the estate sale, $5 was a decent deal for them, and I feel like I got the deal of the century. That club was meant for me, and I am sure Spirit was giggling at all the fun involved in getting me and that club together. I love a little surprise and serendipity such as this. What fun!
     Life is good!
            Leta

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Mother's Day, A Mixed Bag

     I thought I'd offer up a variety of thoughts regarding Mother's Day, from the non-Hallmark perspective.
     My own mother transitioned when I was 23 years old (I'm now 62), so I've been through decades of Mother's Days wherein it seems like everyone except me has a mother. So I am sensitive to the fact that Mother's Day (like Christmas) is not necessarily a great day for all.
     I consider the pain:

  • of those desperately wanting to be a mother, but so far that hasn't happened
  • of those who recently (or not so recently) lost a mother dear to them
  • of those mothers who have lost children
  • of those who did not or do not have a pleasing relationship with their mother or children
  • of those whose own family doesn't appreciate the gift that a mother is
  • of those who choose not to be a mother, and are nagged about it
  • of those watching and caring for a mother suffering and declining with age
  • of the fathers who also serve as mothers and are not recognized as such

     The best thing I have ever been called is "Mom." I have an awesome mother-in-law and my son's love, Aliza, is an outstanding mother to 5-year-old Paisley. I know the trials, tribulations, risks and rewards of motherhood. I have wonderful relationships with both my sons, for which I am extraordinarily grateful. While loosing my mother at such a young age is not something I would wish on anyone, I see in hindsight, that event dramatically changed my life, and helped to make me who I am today, and I am happy with me. 
     So, like Mother Mary, on Mother's Day, I shall "treasure all these things and ponder them in my heart."
     Love to all from this mother on Mother's Day,
                   Leta

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Body Appreciation, A Lifelong Process

     Our culture has a thing for the "perfect body." It seems to permeate the air around us. It's a huge billion dollar industry encouraging us to change into something better, more beautiful, younger-looking, on and on and on. How can we ever learn to appreciate our physical selves if we are constantly being pressured to fix our many assorted "flaws"? When we are coaxed to look like someone else with hair dyes, face lifts, boob jobs and all the rest?
     My journey of body appreciation began with two items of significance. The first was loving and thanking my body's ability to grow and birth two healthy children. The second was to immerse myself in addiction recovery and stop the decades of abuse I had put my body through.
     My body appreciation continues to expand through daily self care and learning more about our bodies as a yoga and MELT Method instructor. I am in awe of my body's ability to heal itself, and I have experienced this in various ways as I have explored assorted healing methods for various aches and ailments over time. Adding a bit of humor to the whole topic, I often recall a spiritual mentor of mine saying, "Nobody looks good naked."
     Caila, love of my older son, Derek, blessed me last Christmas with a book titled "the sun and her flowers" by rupi kaur. It is a powerful and magnificent work of both text and drawing. I close with this writing from the book:
i reduced my body to aesthetics
forgot the work it did to keep me alive
with every beat and breath
declared it a grand failure for not looking like theirs
searched everywhere for a miracle
foolish enough to not realize
i was already living in one
     Please find one thing today to appreciate about your magnificent body.
           Leta


Thursday, April 26, 2018

A New Understanding of God

     Those folks who are avid and adoring dog owners see a no-coincidence relationship between "god" and "dog." I have become a temporary dog owner by virtue of dog-sitting for our son while he adventures in Australia for a year. While I love this Golden Retriever named Dusty, and he is a sweet dog, I must confess that I am a reluctant dog owner. I'm enjoying him while we have him, but I will be third-most-excited, after son Derek and Dusty, when they are reunited.
     My belief system is grounded in the idea that there is one universal everywhere-present energy that makes up everything, and we can call it God or Ralph or any of a bazillion other names. Basically, "there is no spot that God is not." Using my extremely logical mind, I have also discovered that "there is no spot where dog hair is not." Therefore, God is dog hair.
     It is essential when stressed for me to find humor in the situation, as you can see. I am not a clean freak, but the ever-present God/dog hair makes me feel like I should clean, and I hate to clean.  Plus, given that there is no spot where dog hair is not, as soon as I clean, there's dog hair there instantly. My deceased mother's ghost will not allow me to just throw in the towel and let things get endlessly dirty for the next few months. She wouldn't have let the dog in the house in the first place. (I can hear her "I told you so!" right now.)
     In some reflective time a few years back, I was challenged to come up with my core values. Back then, my first one was my personal freedom and flexibility--the ability to do what I want, when I want. Having a dog has "cramped my style" and reinforced the importance of that value for me. In other words, once Derek takes Dusty back, we will not be getting another dog. I promise I will miss Dusty and cry a few tears. And yes, I will clean every nook and cranny of my house, knowing that God remains even without the dog hair.
      AARF!
           Leta

   

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Explore the Gift

From "A Grateful Heart":
Saint Augustine once said, "Men go abroad to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering."
Tonight we acknowledge the wonder of our physical incarnation--that we are here, in these particular bodies, at this particular time, in these particular circumstances. May we never take for granted the gift of our individuality.
     The human is an amazing entity on every level. While science and Western medicine seem to think they have so much figured out on the physical level, they don't. They've barely scratched the surface of the intricacies of the human body. I am in a constant state of wonder at the human body's ability to heal itself and continually return to balance. Consider how a sperm and egg uniting in a woman's uterus creates a new human--it is mind-blowing. Then we move to the human consciousness and the mystery becomes even more mind-boggling.
     Those are all general thoughts about human beings. As we delve into the aspect of individuality, it is again mind-boggling to think that there is no one like you on the planet now, nor will there ever be another like you ever. With each of us having our own perception and ability to create, truly the possibilities are endless. Just think of all the things that individuals have invented or initiated in the last 50 years. And the pace of creativity is speeding up. Human creativity, the creativity of you and me, is fascinating!
     One of the things I love about teaching the MELT Method and Forrest Yoga is the opportunity to encourage folks to appreciate the magnificence of their bodies and to enjoy all the things they can do, setting aside, at least during class time, the things they can't do.
     Would you like some help and direction exploring the gift that is you? Check out my book, WHOA!--just click on the tab above to learn more. Another excellent way to have the time to enjoy yourself is to go on retreat. That opportunity is yours this October 19-21 at Timber Creek Retreat House in Drexel, Missouri. Yep, there's a tab above for that, too.
     You'll never go wrong appreciating the amazing being that you are!
                    Enjoying being me,
                                Leta

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Is It Better to Know or Not Know?

"Everything has a lifespan." Dr. Chris Michaels

     I recently missed, due to a combination of work and dog-sitting duties, an annual event that I enjoy in the St. Louis area. Alas, I learned the day after the event that it will likely be the last one, since the host is moving away. (The location of the event is a huge part of its draw and success.) Had I known it would be the last one, I would have been more ambitious about finding a way to make my presence there. Dang!
     I spoke recently with my friend who lives in Chicago to arrange my annual visit there, which of course includes a Cubs game. He informed me that he is leaving Chicago in August and fulfilling a long-held dream of moving to Bali. This means that this will be my last "annual" adventure in Chicago. Granted, I'm thinking Bali will be even more fun to visit, but nonetheless, I'm feeling some melancholy that we won't have our Chicago fun together any more after this June's trip. "The last one" will definitely be lurking around us when I am there.
     Another example... our older son played baseball as a youngster, he was quite good at it, and I LOVED going to his games (yes, I'm crazed about baseball!). Both he, his dad and I anticipated that he would continue to play baseball all through high school. However, he decided as a freshman to play golf rather than baseball. Mercifully, I did not know that his last baseball game was, in fact, his last game, and I am grateful for that not-knowing to this day, as that would have been a very rough one.
     So is it better to know or not know? It's not a comfortable vibe to go into something thinking "This may be the last time I get to do this." But in reality, that is always the case. There are no guarantees. That question has no definitive answer. It depends on the circumstance, the person and even the timing. I'm thinking it makes for one of the joys of this amazing earthly life.
     Enjoying right now,
          Leta


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Silence

     May we respect the need for silence in our lives.

     That is an anonymous line from my current daily read, A Grateful Heart. I am a person who loves silence. Noise is the equivalent of physical clutter to me. It drives me nuts and drags down my spirit. Being an introvert (yes, I am!), too much noise eventually equates to too many people, and I have to retreat. My favorite spot of retreat is my woman cave. There a fan is continually on to be my "white noise" of silence.
     I confess that I am not so much a "music lover." While I enjoy music, given the choice of silence or music, I'll take silence. I don't have any music or TV on when I am home alone, and if I have headphones in, it's because I'm listening to a podcast, not music.
     I'm going to hop on my soap box for a moment. Are you one of those folks who goes to work all day, leaving your dog outside to bark incessantly? I used to love to putter in my garden, but not anymore, for as soon as I step on the deck, neighbors' dogs start barking, and they don't stop till I retreat back inside. The peaceful joy of gardening is long gone for me. Soap box fussing complete.
     It feels to me these days that noise never stops. Choosing silence requires deliberate effort. I invite you to pay attention to what you hear around you, and investigate what it takes to get some quiet time. Try silence on and see how it feels.
     Peace and quiet to you and me,
            Leta





Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Putting life into perspective, a useful reminder for most of us...

This prayer-poem is by Ina J. Hughes, from the book, A Grateful Heart:

We pray for children
     who sneak popsicles before supper,
     who erase holes in math workbooks,
     who can never find their shoes.
And we pray for those
     who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
     who can't bound down the streets in a new pair of sneakers,
     who never "counted potatoes,"
     who are born in places we wouldn't be caught dead,
     who never go to the circus,
     who live in an X-rated world.
We pray for the children
     who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
     who hug us in and hurry and forget their lunch money.
And we pray for those
     who never get dessert,
     who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
     who watch their parents watch them die,
     who can't find any bread to steal,
     who don't have any rooms to clean up,
     whose pictures aren't on anybody's dresser,
     whose monsters are real.
We pray for children
     who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
     who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
     who like ghost stories,
     who shove dirty clothes under the bed, and never rinse out the tub,
     who get visits from the tooth fairy,
     who don't like to be kissed in front of the carpool,
     who squirm in church or temple and scream into the phone,
     whose tears we sometimes laugh at and
     whose smiles can make us cry.
And we pray for those
     whose nightmares come in the daytime,
     who will eat anything,
     who have never seen a dentist,
     who aren't spoiled by anybody,
     who go to be hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
     who live and move, but have no being.
We pray for the children who want to be carried
     and for those who must,
     for those we never give up on and for those
     who don't get a second chance.
For those we smother... and for those who will grab the hand of anybody
     kind enough to offer it.

Knowing my life is truly easy and care-free, and so thankful for it,
        Leta

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Our Stuff

     This past Tuesday on the way home from work, I learned that in our parched-and-dry-fire-hazard part of the country, the home of a friend of a friend was burned to the ground. Talking with my understandably-rattled friend about it, we agreed that an event such as this truly brings the importance of our "stuff" into dramatic perspective.
     Here is a quote I ran across several days ago:
"But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can't let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future."  Marie Kondo, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
     I like to think that my life is fairly simple and uncluttered. Yet as I look around me in the woman cave, and mentally roam our house, the thought of ever having to move is totally overwhelming because of all the "stuff" we have. Right now, there's an entire room-full around me, and there's very little of it that I couldn't let go. Yet I'm comfortable here. The room is "me." I do put effort into keeping the clutter at bay. It's important to remember that this "stuff" that is often quite meaningful to me is just "stuff" to someone else. (If you are an estate sale shopper like me, you totally get that.)
     Post tax-season will bring on another cleaning/tidying/releasing exercise. I have the above quote to guide me. I shall use it to reinforce the love in me (grown from the past, the only thing I can truly keep) and my faith in expanding good (not fearing the future).
     Here's to a lighter life,
            Leta

Friday, March 2, 2018

LEGOS!

     I am a complete and total freak over Legos. I believe them to be the best toy on the planet, possibly even the Universe. My two sons' Lego collection grew to enormous during their childhood. I still have that huge box of Legos, and I have added significantly to our original collection with some outstanding estate sale purchases. I think I'm operating under the mantra, "She who dies with the most Legos wins."
     I often talked with my older brother about Legos when our sons were younger. All he talked about was how it hurt like hell when he stepped on one, especially unsuspecting in the darkness of nighttime. So when I saw this picture, I laughed out loud. So true!!!

Image result for what legos do when we aren't looking

     When I was in my mid-fifties, I was on retreat in California, and I learned that Legoland was nearby. Thus began one of the highlight adventures of my life, a solo trip to Legoland. I had a blast!! Unencumbered by impatient children or bored adults, I took my time exploring and riding rides and taking in the amazing wonder and creativity of it all. Do you know that there are real-live engineers whose JOB it is to build huge Lego creations?!?!? (Maybe my next lifetime...) They have a store there (of course) where bricks are separated by color and size and you can buy them by the pound. The park has everything from tiny villages to a giant dragon to a full-size Volvo SUV made out to Legos. It includes models of the Taj Mahal and the Sydney Opera House. Displayed near each creation is the number of Legos involved; sometimes that number is well into the six figures.



     What will you do today to have fun with something you love?
               Busy creating,
                   Leta



Friday, February 23, 2018

The Treasure of Today

A writing by Mary Jean Iron from the book, "A Grateful Heart"...
Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return. 
I catch myself, often, daydreaming and anticipating future fun. While there is nothing wrong with that, it tends to make me less aware of the blessings of the present moment. I'm especially vulnerable to this right now, in the midst of tax season. I am tax preparer, a job I do to fund my fun the rest of the year. So I tend to focus a lot on mid-April and the end of this intense 3-month job. I do, however, no matter how weird it may seem, love the tax job. It's a great match to my skills, I really like the folks I work with, and it pays well, funding the subsequent nine months of fun. I am grateful for the job. I am grateful for the learning opportunity. The knowledge I have gained has helped my husband and me enormously in managing our finances. So while this "normal day" at the tax job may not be as fun as the adventures to come later this year, I plan to enjoy it, appreciate my ability to do the work, and appreciate the opportunity I have been given.
     In the midst of a normal day and loving it,
               Leta


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Sparkling Betty

     Last week my friend Betty made her transition. I came home Monday evening from work with the news, and upon telling my husband, he said, "That's interesting. The person I was playing music with this afternoon said his wife's grandmother was not doing well and they didn't know if she was going to make it." I asked his musical acquaintance's name, and replied, "Yes, that's Betty's grandson-in-law." Small world. Ironically, Dennis and I have known Betty longer than her grandson-in-law.
     I used to work at West Heights United Methodist Church, and Betty and Blanche were the money-counters during my tenure, faithfully there each Monday morning to count and record the previous day's offering. Betty stayed and entered the giving/giver information into our computer system. There was always great joy and laughter when they were in the office.
    Betty lived for many years in a condo overlooking the golf course at Rolling Hills. She hosted our partying group of women, the NUNS, for many lovely evenings of feasting, drinking and merriment. I sum up those magnificent summer evenings together with friends in the word LOVE--holding each other and our families in love and prayer and joy and sorrow. Betty was always "the hostess with the mostest."
     I remembered this weekend that our downstairs (primarily beer--here's to you, Betty) refrigerator was a gift from Betty. She was happy to get rid of it when cleaning out a rental property, and we are still enjoying it many years later.
     I visited Betty several times at Oxford Grand where she last lived. While others who knew her said that her memory was not what it had been, she was always "on top of it" when I saw her, asking me about our sons by name, and telling me the goings-on with all her family. Even when she was not feeling well, she still made lively conversation and smiled brightly.
     Betty sparkled. She had a magnificent smile, and rarely did I see her when she was not smiling. This is no small thing, as she suffered for decades with very painful arthritis. But she kept moving and contributing in so many ways, despite her pain.
     I believe Betty was ready to go Home. While I miss her, and it is still a bit jarring to realize she is no longer with us, I know she is back to bliss, and is sparkling ten-thousand-fold compared to her earthly life. She has truly blessed us with her time here. I am grateful for having known her. Thank you, Betty, for sparkling up our world!
     Grieving and joyful at the same time,
            Leta

Thursday, February 15, 2018

I Screwed Up

     I like to think that I rarely make mistakes, and alas, that fantasy world in my own head is a lovely place to hang out. Unfortunately, because I hang out there so much, when I do actually make a mistake, my fantasy gets shattered, at least for a while. That's not a lovely place to hang out.
     As we move through the tax prep season, the thing we tax preparers dread is for someone whose taxes are done and filed to come in with another document and say, "I just got this in the mail, does this affect my taxes?" 99% of the time the answer is "yes." Are you guessing where my own screw-up lies? Yep, our taxes were filed on Tuesday, tax-changing document received Wednesday. Dang it.
     It will be handled, life will go on. I will restore my rare-mistake fantasy world. I will stick a note in my calendar for next year that says "Do NOT file our taxes before March 1!" I will continue to practice going easy on myself when I screw up. And I know my boss and my office mate are going to get a huge laugh out of all this.
     Forging ahead,
           Leta