Top Ten Favorite Things from our trip to California   Leave a comment

Our family recently took a trip from the mid-eastern United States all the way to the Pacific Coast in order to move our son and his books and belongings to grad school. We camped along the way and continued to do so after we turned in the Penske moving truck. Nobody in our family had experienced the Golden State recently and our children–not at all. It was quite an experience in the land of extremes.

Here, in no particular order, are my handselected favorite experiences and most wonderful places of this trip.

1. Like most people who visit it, I would have to start with Yosemite Valley.

2. Watching the water at the Vernal Falls footbridge in Yosemite Valley while everyone under 23 years of age climbed all the way to the top of the falls trail

3. Watching the Pacific Ocean under my feet, while sea lions played in the foam, from the Golden Gate Bridge

4. Our campsite at Portola Redwoods State park was surrounded by our own cordon of redwood guardian sentinels. There were five immense, wise trees around the table and campfire circle.

5. The Old Tree and Slate trails at Portola Redwoods leading to the Old Tree herself

6. Highway 20 east of Grass Valley, the prettiest forest drive I’ve ever seen

7. My oldest son experiencing a banana slug oozing across his face

8. The Humboldt River Valley in Nevada (I realize this particular view was not in California, but it’s still one of the best things about the trip.)

9. Having our cousin from Colorado come along with us the share the work (sorry, E!), the adventures, the stress and the joy!

10. Late night singing of Monty Python and Weird Al songs on the way back to the campground from our day in the Bay area

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Posted September 21, 2017 by swanatbagend in camping, travel journal

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Generations   1 comment

Like waves overlapping as they wash in to the shore, so one generation is mingled with the next. It shares genetics, life experiences, a home, a past, and a last name. It’s difficult to separate one wave from the next when you watch the water at the beach. You can’t escape the waves by waiting for the gap between them because there isn’t really a gap. There’s just a low spot, and there is still always water around your ankles.

Like these waves, one generation is blended with the next.

Then, at the right moment, it must advance alone.

Posted August 30, 2017 by swanatbagend in reflections

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Get Ready for It   Leave a comment

What is the most important skill you will need as a parent?

If you have read books, blogs and articles, or attended classes, I’m sure you’ve been told many things about what it takes to be a parent and how you need to handle various situations with your children.

I submit that what you need most is forgiveness.

Why?

Because you will not be a great parent.

I know.  If you haven’t already had children you think you will be.  You’ve looked around you, seen it done wrong, had it done wrong to you, and you know what to do.

And it isn’t really that difficult; people have been doing it for generations.

And you know that you will do parenting just as well as you’ve done everything else–school, work, competitions, hobbies.

 

But if you think this, you will be wrong.

 

You will make the same mistakes with your children, over and over.

You will be impatient and lose your temper at least once, or perhaps many times.

You will handle situations in the same way that your parents did, even though you know in advance that you do not plan to handle situations the same way your parents did.

You will be unable to implement all of the skills you learn in the parenting class.

You will not teach your child some of the things he needs to know because you will be unaware of what they are or that he needs to be taught them.

 

You will damage your children.

So, their forgiveness will need to be asked.

 

Posted August 30, 2017 by swanatbagend in motherhood, parenting

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Still Full of Surprises   Leave a comment

You think you know yourself when you’ve reached middle age, but I learned there are things about me that I could not have imagined, even a few years ago.

Generally I think I know what my preferences are, my problems, my besetting sins, my interests, my ambitions–when you have lived more than half your life, you feel pretty set.

But, I’ve found that I’m not.

I am actually willing to try new things (sometimes).  Or visit attractions that aren’t anything up my alley.

Last year my husband and I went on two different distillery tours when we got away for our anniversary.  I wasn’t that interested, but he was, and a getaway’s a getaway, right? I’m up for anything that he wants to do, for a few hours at least.

Maker’s Mark tour was fascinating!

Then this year we took in the Corvette museum.  Yes, that’s the one that had a sinkhole open up in the floor of the main showroom.  I am definitely not a sports car person.  Not even a car person.  But I said sure, since we were in the area and it was something different.

It was interesting too.

The first thing I realized while there, that I then realized also applied to the bourbon tours, was that just about every type of museum or attraction you can go to (except maybe a plain old amusement park) has these components 1) history and 2) science.  And if I can get a history component, I’m good to go.  So, a Corvette is a car that is very fast.  It was originally created in 1953 and has been through seven different iterations.  In 1983 they were working on redesigning the body style, and they ended up only making a few, most of which ended up being re-done as 1984 Corvettes, so there is only one remaining actual 1983 Corvette.  We saw it.  So don’t let anyone catch you out with a trick question about how many 1983 Corvettes there are.  There’s only one.

But see, there’s history already, and so I’m happy.

However, weirder still was what happened when I saw one of the four Corvettes available by drawing.  In the rotunda room, the same one with the sinkhole lines marked on the floor (very cool), there was one model for each generation of Corvette.  The newest generation’s representative is a black 2017 Stingray Convertible.

Remember, I’m not a car person.  My interests run more to history, which I already mentioned, art and literature.  And food.

When I stood in front of that beautiful car, I felt a thrill.  I could feel my adrenaline rushing and my blood pressure going up.  I wanted that car.  I wanted to win in and drive away in it, very fast.

And I thought I knew myself.

Posted August 26, 2017 by swanatbagend in identity

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It’s Complicated   Leave a comment

It used to be when someone wanted to tell you something he called you on the phone.

Now I have to figure out how to personalize my communication with each person in my social or work circle, because there are multiple forms of communication.

I feel like each new technological improvement seems more impractical than the last.  Take texting, which is of course no longer new to most of the world.  It’s a tiny little screen.  I can only use two fingers.  A conversation setting up a plan that would have taken three minutes by phone now takes three hours, depending on when my contact gets back to me, and I back to her.

How is this saving my time?

Not to mention that if someone is trying to contact me, she could be using any of four or five ways to do that.  And somehow I’m supposed to know someone is trying to contact me.

The only way for me to know that is to constantly check all these modes of communication.

There is email.  There is voicemail.  There is text.  There is Facebook Messenger.  Those of you who are more tech savvy than me have other ways to communicate with friends, and you know what they are.  But, I have four ways, other than a telephone call to my home phone, that people may be using to contact me.

This means I have to check every — single — one of those ways when I am trying to stay in contact with the world.

This is impractical, and as much as I love staying in touch, and you know I do–I have other things to do.

I don’t live in a place with reliable cell coverage, but–even if I did, I would not be checking my email or text messages every five minutes.  I want to have a life.  Electronics already eat too much of my time.  I want a way to communicate without this constant checking checking checking checking checking .

So, do you understand why I long for the period in time where if someone was trying to reach me, I would know it, because the phone would ring?  Then I could pick it up and have the conversation.  If it wasn’t as pressing, I would get a letter, which I could read when I was ready to.  Nobody expected me to respond to that immediately.  Sure, we had junk mail; sure we had sales calls.  But even junk mail and sales calls were not much compared to the pile of electronic communications and spam we are supposed to keep up with now.

So, what do you do?

Tell me how you handle communication so you stay in touch in a straightforward manner.

Posted August 2, 2017 by swanatbagend in modern conveniences

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Live Now   Leave a comment

Live.

Live your life the best way you can.

Don’t spend most of your mental energy fixing it, making it conform to what you’ve been told it’s supposed to be.  Don’t always look to the future when you will have more energy or more time, after you get that promotion or get through that protocol or spend six months on that diet.

If you always look ahead to the goal, before you know it, you’ll be looking back on the last thirty years and wondering what happened.

Don’t wait to live it, because–

This is it.

Posted July 28, 2017 by swanatbagend in reflections

A Skeptical Christian   Leave a comment

I’ve discovered the purpose a skeptical Christian can serve.

You wouldn’t think there could be such a thing based on the image Christian subculture delivers.  Christians are cheerful, squeaky clean, devotion-doing, volunteering, doubt-free, perky people, right?

And God does model for us to be people of faith, to do justice, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God.  In that description I don’t know if there is room for skepticism, negativity or disbelief.  Maybe if I followed Micah 6:8 more faithfully, I would be living so fully in the center of God’s purposes that I wouldn’t have time or reason to be skeptical in the first place.

However, there are plenty of places in the Bible where we see anger, disgust, despair, doubt, and dare I say it, even skepticism and cynicism.

So–yes, there is room and to spare for skeptical Christians in the kingdom of God.

But a purpose for a skeptical Christian?  I wasn’t sure about that until recently.

I had been praying for years for someone.  Let me explain what I mean.  I had been praying for years–but had prayed for years just to be praying, not really believing things would change.  In other words, I was a skeptic.

But when a transformation occurred in the person, and he stated that God had changed him, and nobody around him could contradict this, and when the evidence of a huge change was right in front of my face–I couldn’t deny that God had done it.

There’s no way it could have just happened.

I didn’t think anything could change.

I was wrong.

And now I can’t stop talking about it.

Posted July 26, 2017 by swanatbagend in identity

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