Binding Ties

When I was in elementary school, we would get to watch a couple of television shows in our classroom each week. One of the shows was the Electric Company. The other show was the Big Blue Marble. The latter show would feature stories about kids from different parts of the world. The producers intended to communicate that our world is not really as big as it may seem and that by getting to know people from other parts of the world, we would build a better society together. There was even a pen-pal program (writing actual letters to another person for those who do not understand this concept) that would encourage an ongoing connection and conversation.

I share this memory from the past because I have been thinking about the connectedness of people. It is not surprising that in the age of the internet and social media, the ability to connect with others is even greater. Additionally, technology allows this connectedness to be almost instantaneous. Yet with the tools provided to us, we still seem to struggle with connecting to others.

I am a fairly outgoing person. I engage in conversations with a variety of people in a variety of settings without much difficulty most of the time. Not everyone is comfortable in social settings or in engaging in conversation with individuals whom they have not met. The challenge in being able to have a dialogue with another person is finding that connection. Sometimes the setting provides a clear connecting point such as attending a wedding, being at a job-related gathering, or being at a school event. Other times it may be harder to identify the commonalities which you might have with another person.

The truth that was presented on the television show, Big Blue Marble, is that we have more in common with one another than we ever realize. It is important to find that connection with one another. The reality is that our actions impact one another. This has become increasingly clear in regard to how we treat creation. Even greater are the acts of violence which continually shake our lives. When we acknowledge that we have more in common than differences, then we begin to see each other as valued. If we see the value in another, we are less willing to take a negative action toward that person.

We are connected in ways we have yet to discover. Our commonality far exceeds anything which would divide us. All of us live together on this big blue marble called earth. It is time we lifted up our connectedness.

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#Hashtags

I am probably going to show my age with this post but it is something that has been on my mind for a while. Whatever brought on the idea that using hashtags in almost all communication was a good idea. I confess, I just do not get it. Yes, I know that it became prominent with the introduction of Twitter but it now seems to appear everywhere.

Remember long ago when this symbol – # – meant number. When I was taking typing (again a sign of my age) in high school, we would only use that symbol above the numeral 3 on the keyboard if we were trying to state a number was following. This was definitely not a symbol that I used often. If you were writing something professional, it was seldom ever used at all. Today the hashtag appears in advertisements, in all types of social media posts, and even on printed materials.

I was reading someone’s post on Facebook the other day, and they had fourteen hash tags with different words and phrases following at the end of their post. This clearly seemed like overkill from my perspective. As I looked at all those, it made me think that they were like the small print which is at the bottom of the page of a printed item. Just like I (and I think others) skip over that small print, I skipped right over all the hash tagged phrases at the end of the post.

Maybe my issue with the hashtag trend is that I struggle to come up with the right hashtags for anything I post. I see creative and somewhat brilliant ones when I take the time to actually look at them. Some of them even make me laugh. Yet every time I try to add one to my post it seems to lack anything which would generate interest in my eyes.

Someone who reads this blog post will probably have a very good explanation for why we have become a hashtagged crazy generation. A person much younger than myself will clearly not understand why I would even have an issue with this behavior. That younger person can probably give a very in depth answer for the prominence of hashtags. I am more than ready to hear it. For now, do not expect me to join this trend any time soon.

Parker County Peach Festival & More

This weekend was a fun weekend to enjoy the outdoors. It had finally cooled down to the low 90s with less humidity. Outside is where we headed for both days.

Saturday’s highlight was our trip to Weatherford, TX for the 35th Annual Parker County Peach Festival. I enjoy living in a part of the country where there is a peach harvest and it is celebrated with a festival. Since it was our first time attending this festival, we were not exactly sure what to expect. I had read an article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram telling about some highlights but until you are there you really do not have a clear understanding.

The festival takes place in downtown Weatherford, a community of over 30,000 people and the county seat of Parker County. The streets around the courthouse square are lined on both sides with booths. Some larger streets have booths also running down the middle. Most of the vendors are selling either food or handmade art and crafts. You will find some vendors selling bags of peaches and/or food items with peaches in them. If you cannot find peaches at the actual festival there is a farmer’s market building located two blocks south of the square and peaches are available there. Located at a couple of places within the festival grounds are stages where local talent perform. After a couple of hours in the heat and a large crowd, it was time to head back home.

Sunday afternoon provided an opportunity to take the dogs on a car ride and a bit of a hike. We chose to head down to the Clearfork area of Fort Worth, which is located south of downtown and near the campus of TCU. There is a trailhead located in the area for the Trinity Trail which runs along the Trinity River throughout Fort Worth. We had been at this location for a farmer’s market shortly after we relocated to Fort Worth. There are biking and walking trails which make up the Trinity Trail. We took the dogs, bags, and some water along and walked about a mile down the trail before stopping to give the dogs some water in the shade. After the break, we followed the trail back to the trailhead where we gave more water to the dogs before getting in the car. It was clear that the dogs were more exhausted at the end of our walk than either of us.

Once the car had time to cool down and the dogs had their fill of water, we headed out to see some neighborhoods in the area. Looking at the houses we determined that when it comes time to buy our home, this is one of the areas which had potential. We headed home and finished the evening off with some relaxation in the nice air conditioning.

If you would like to know more about the Parker County Peach Festival or the Trinity Trail in Fort Worth, feel free to send me a message.

Faithful Companion

I am not sure what it is but there is always a soft spot in my heart for a dog. I have been fortunate to have a number of dogs in my life. My first dog was a gift from one of my uncles and since then I have had some wonderful dogs with which to share life. Currently we have two dogs in our home and I adore both of them. Some of my readers may recall that at the end of May we said goodbye to one of our dogs, Herky, but a couple of weeks later we welcomed Belle into our home. I think our dogs make our home complete.

My first statement in this post is not truly accurate. I do know what it is about a dog which causes me to fall in love with him/her. Actually, quite a few reasons that come to my mind. I fall in love with a dog because the dog has already fallen in love with me. One of the truths regarding these animals is that unless they have suffered abuse, a dog is the most loving creature which I know. This love is unconditional. Only if they have been mistreated, or they have been trained differently does this love not extend to you at first contact.

If unconditional love is not a good enough reason, then unwavering faithfulness is a very good one. A dog’s loyalty remains strong. I am sure that you have seen the pictures of a dog laying in front of the casket of a fallen soldier or at the headstone of their owner. This commitment is unmatched in most relationships. There exists a bond between dog and owner which never seems to fade or is broken.

These characteristics endear dogs to me. Yet, I would be remiss if I did not mention one more and that is companionship. Wherever I am, that is where my dog(s) wishes to be. I cannot be out of a room for more than five minutes before one or both dogs come searching for me. When I am away from the house, the excitement and joy with which I am greeted when I return is abounding. As much as I am an important companion in their lives, they are a vital companion in my life.

I love dogs! Here I give you just a brief glimpse of why. But if you have been fortunate enough to have a dog in your life, you know these and the many more that are in my head. So, thank you to all the dogs who have made a difference in my life…

Terrington, Buddy, Brandi, Hayden, Herky, Ellie, Leroy, and Belle….. not to mention, neighbor dogs Paulie and Wiggles…. or my niece puppy, Jewel…. or my grandpuppies, Ryder and Koda.  

Routine

I have a confession to make….

I have a love/hate relationship with routine. I will try my best to explain.

I love routine for some reasons which are important to me. Routine provides for me a break in life. Following routines for different parts of my life allow me to not have to think a lot. This is extremely important in the morning. You see, I am not much of a morning person. I take a while to wake up and to be willing to acknowledge there is a world in which I must function. Having a routine for my morning allows me to function a low level of alertness. I am able to know exactly what comes next, so I can take a break from planning, making decisions, and really putting a lot of thought into life. Some would say that I even get a bit cranky when life events interrupt my morning routine.

Another reason that I am in love with routine is because I gain a sense of accomplishment. I am a “check off the task” type of person. I like to be able to see something is completed and I physically check it off on my electronic task list. While the tasks in my routine are usually not on that list, I still am very aware of what they are and as I manage through the routine I mentally check off the to-do’s. It reminds me of my college days when I took a course on BASIC programming (for younger readers, you might want to look up this ancient computer programming code system). If written correctly, the program would go through the steps necessary to carry out the goal given. This would be a continuous loop until you placed a STOP command. My routines operate the same way.

My dilemma is that as much as I like routine, I hate it at the same time. My hatred for routines comes from another part of my personality. I am an individual who likes adventure and trying new experiences (alright maybe not some foods). I want to experience the new. Routine is anti-new. I can easily become bored with routine. I want to change things up. An endless loop of routine can frustrate me and long for something different.

There, I have confessed it. I love routine while at the same time I hate routine.

How do you feel about routine?

A Weekend of Fun

What an incredible weekend. We had the joy of hosting some friends from Iowa this weekend. Amy and Brian arrived on Saturday afternoon. I am not sure who was more eagerly anticipating their arrival, my husband or myself. We had spent our morning doing lawn work and last aspects of cleaning. Partly because it needed to be done and partly to keep our eyes off the clock. The decision to wait on cleaning the floors was due to our new fur baby, Belle, shedding white hair as quickly as we can clean it up.

After their arrival, we spent the afternoon catching up. They gave us an update on their family while we shared about our move and discoveries in our new city. We also were able to discuss the activities of St Stephen’s Lutheran Church which is how we had come to meet each other. A very relaxing time for sure.

Evening arrived and it was time to find something to eat. We decided to go and enjoy Posado’s Cafe which is one of our favorites when we are hungry for Mexican food. Our trips to this restaurant only occur on weekend nights because we have our own favorite server, Kerry. The staff is starting to realize that we will only sit in Kerry’s section. She did not disappoint us with her service once again. Amy and Brian seemed to like the food which we do as well.

Posado’s Cafe

Once our stomachs were full, we journeyed to downtown Fort Worth. My husband and I enjoy spending time downtown looking through the shops and sitting at the fountains in Sundance Square. The buildings of downtown are all outlined in colored lights which change colors every few seconds. If there is a holiday coming soon, the colors often reflect that holiday (i.e., red, pink, and white around Valentine’s Day). The clock face on the building behind the stage along one side of the square also changes based on the holiday and/or season. This night it had a summer beach theme. So after showing our friends some of our favorite shops, we sat by the fountains and enjoyed the atmosphere and busy life of Downtown Fort Worth. Then we headed home to relax a little before going to bed.

Sundance Square – Downtown Ft Worth

Sunday activities began with a wonderful brunch fixed by my husband. After brunch, we hurried to clean up and headed to the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards. We arrived in time to watch them drive the long horn steers down the street. Once the steers had gone by, we then walked into the stockyards to witness a gunslinger shoot out (all staged). Then we checked out some shops, Brian got some beef jerky, and we picked up some excellent seasoning for dips. A walk to see Billy Bob’s took a slight detour so Brian could go through the military museum which interests him since he is one of our nation’s brave veterans.

Cattle Drive at the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards

Before leaving the Stockyards, we decided to take our friends to a bar which we had newly discovered on one of our recent visits, Booger Red’s Saloon. This bar is filled with character. Behind the bar there is the butt part of a buffalo coming out of the mirror in honor of their Buffalo Butt Beer. The ceiling fans are operated by a series of belts attached to a motor on one wall. You can choose to sit on a bar stool or a saddle as you enjoy your drinks at the bar. Amy was even brave enough to climb on one of the saddles as we sat at the bar.

Booger Red’s Saloon – Image courtesy of H3 Ranch.com

From the Stockyards, we continued back to downtown Fort Worth where we went to the Water Gardens on the south side of the convention center. This park has three different water features and a “Mountain.” The intention when it was built was to provide an oasis in the midst of a very busy urban area. A meditation pool provides a calm pool of water with water running down the terraced walls around it. The aeration pool has spray fountains which create both a visual and sound experience. The largest of the pools in the Water Gardens has water which cascades 38 feet down terraced walls to a pool at the lowest point. You can walk down a series of arranged stone slabs to the pool and then on large stone slabs around the pool. It is an amazing experience.

Fort Worth Water Gardens – Image courtesy of tr.robinson

After returning home for some relaxation, it was time to head out to another of our favorite restaurants, B J’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. The menu is large and the food is always very good. Then back home to watch a movie and relax

A weekend filled with fun, laughter, and good company had come to a close. We wished our friends good bye this morning and look forward to their promised return visit.

Catch the Sunsets

You have heard the adage, “Take time to stop and smell the roses.” I admit that I do love roses. We had planted some rose bushes at our previous home, and they were beautiful in the spring, summer and fall. But for me the idea of taking time to catch the sunsets seems like a much better adage. Maybe this is because I do not have to wait so long for the beauty of the sunset to come through. Or it may be due to the fact that every day has a sunset unlike a growing season.

Each sunset is unique. This uniqueness is due in part to the clouds that may be in the sky. What I like about sunsets are the many different colors which you can see. If you watch long enough, you will notice the colors changing. It is like the sunset is evolving before your eyes. The changes occur like the moving of a clock hand. These changes remind me of the beauty which happens through life changes. I like that.

Another element of sunset watching is the location from which you view. A sunset while a person stands by a body of water has characteristics unlike a sunset standing next to a farm field. One is not necessarily better than the other one, they are different and each has its own beauty. The way the light reflects on water or through a stand of trees creates more differences that impact the beauty. This reminds me that where I am in life impacts my perception and what stands out to me.

The season of the year can also provide dynamics that impact how I view a sunset. Where the sun is in the sky, changes depending on the calendar. If there is a lot of humidity in the air, then there will be a haziness to the sunset. A cold, crisp day often leads to brilliant and distinct colors. I am reminded that as the seasons of my life change or a change in my mood occurs I am lead to experience life differently.

So while taking time to smell the roses will help slow you down and allow you to inhale the scents and beauty of life, taking time to catch the sunsets will slow you down and allow you to reflect on the lessons of nature and our lives.

Stop and catch the sunsets.

We Are Loyal to You

I was reflecting the other day about what it was like to be in high school. As I thought about my high school years, one of the experiences which stood out in my thoughts was how there was a strong sense of pride in my school. Maybe because I came from a small town, or maybe because there were not as many distractions, when I was in high school, we were proud to declare where we were from and how all our teams and extra-curricular groups performed. We told everyone that we were the Rolfe Rams, and we were proud.

We’re loyal to you, old Rolfe High

You’re old gold and red, old Rolfe High

We’ll back you to stand against the best in the land

For we know you can stand old Rolfe High

So come on and score old Rolfe High

Just one touchdown (basket) more old Rolfe High

Our team is our fame protector

On team for we expect a victory from you old Rolfe High

RHS Fight Song

Many games, pep rallies, homecoming events, and special community events, we sang those words as the band played loudly.

In addition to our singing of the fight song throughout the year. Homecoming week was a week filled with pride. We spent our nights at the bus barn constructing our class float. There were theme days throughout the week. On Friday, we wore our red and gold. Our dates to the Homecoming dance were given big yellow chrysanthemums (yellow was the closest we could get to old gold in flowers) with red ribbons and footballs in the center.

Thursday night of homecoming week meant the annual bonfire. Usually it was held on the baseball field diamond. A huge pep rally would take place as old wood pieces were burned. After a lot of cheering and some speeches, a snake line was formed, and we headed uptown and around the major areas of town with a lot of laughter, screaming, and cheering.

The Friday of homecoming began pretty normal. We had classes in the morning but once lunch was done then the rest of the day was dedicated to school pride. Band members, football players, cheerleaders, and the Homecoming Court would gather in respective locations to prepare for the festivities. At the appointed hour, all classes were dismissed to go to the gymnasium. The band would play some songs, including the fight song at the beginning and at the end. The cheerleaders would lead us in cheers. The football players would speak. Then it was time for coronation. The stage was all set up with chairs and risers. The royalty was crowned and then everyone went out for the parade. Floats were lined up. The senior class float was always the one upon which the royalty would ride. Elementary students lined the streets to downtown. The band led the parade followed by the floats. When we reached the center of downtown we held another large pep rally and townspeople lined the streets to cheer us on and be introduced to the Homecoming Court.

Of course the week culminated in the events of Friday night. The football game was first. All the floats would be on the track and during half-time of the game, the floats would parade around and the Homecoming Court would be introduced once again. Then after the game, everyone raced home to change clothes and head to the high school gymnasium for the dance. We would spend the next couple of hours dancing and enjoying hopefully a football victory that night. Either way, we were proud to be part of Rolfe High School.

I do not see the same sense of pride among many in the high schools today. Often times they do not have the dance until the next night and then it has become more of a mini-prom instead of anything related to school pride. The days of parades with floats that were covered in chicken wire and napkins seem gone. The singing of the school fight song and the energized pep rallies happens very infrequently now.

I am probably a bit too nostalgic. However, I am so glad that I went to a high school where school pride was something everyone felt. I am glad that I went to a high school where everyone attended games, celebrated daily activities of Homecoming week, and put some effort in showing what it meant to attend our particular high school. I have endless memories which fill me with joy.

So I am loyal to you old Rolfe High. You’re the old gold and red old Rolfe High. I will back you to stand against the best in the land for I know you can stand old Rolfe High. GO RAMS!

Flying Minutes

What? It is June already? You have to be kidding. I remember celebrating New Year’s Eve just a few short weeks ago. Okay, maybe more than a few weeks ago but it does not seem like it should be the middle of the year already. Time is flying by at a record pace any more.

I remember my parents having similar conversations. When I was living at home, I could not understand how they could even think that time was going so fast. To me time appeared to be often going at a snail’s pace. I could not wait to get to high school. I eagerly anticipated getting my driver’s license. Of course, moving away from home and getting my own life could not happen fast enough. But alas, time moved so slow for me at that point.

Naturally, time does not speed up or slow down at all. Time is one of the consistent threads through life. Each second, each minute, each hour, all move at the same pace throughout the months and years. Time does not change. What changes is my perspective of time.

I am not completely sure why perspective changes as a person gets older in this situation. Maybe it is due to having more to reflect upon than to look forward. Or it might be due to the fact that as we age, our focus becomes less on us and more on those in our lives. Whatever the reason, time is seen much differently as a person gains years.

So enjoy life. Celebrate each day. Live to your fullest.

Risking It

When I was younger, I tended to not follow the trend of my peers. People in their teens and twenties tend to view themselves as indestructible and will often do some pretty dangerous stuff. I was the opposite most of the time. I would be very calculated before making a decision to do something. I can only think of a handful of occasions when I would let someone talk me into doing something which I viewed as risky. Planning out my actions was my normal mode of operation and within my plan was an understanding of the level of risk which I would assume.

Over time this would change in small increments. As I observed others, I came to realize that only by taking managed risks could I grow and improve my status in life. Becoming a leader in many organizations and in my career helped me to see that risk is necessary if growth and positive change are going to occur. If you are not growing then you are actually taking steps backwards do to your inactivity.

It has become clear to me that risk is necessary in life. Granted, the risk should be measured for sure. There is a huge difference between risks which are thought through and just going full speed into a risky situation. Humans are designed for self survival. Our bodies and minds alert us to risk in an effort to protect and preserve ourselves. However, taking risks and accepting the possibility of failure are vital if you are going to move forward in life.

Unfortunately, many people choose to stay in the comfortable. They like the feeling of knowing what is coming their way. They view risk as a dangerous step. Often though they are one of the first to complain that they do not enjoy life and feel they have been slighted in some way.

When my husband and I decided to move to Texas so that he could accept a new position, I was very concerned about the risk we were taking. Both of us had spent a majority of our lives in Iowa, in fact, he had always lived in Iowa. We knew only a handful of people in Texas and had no family connections here. What would I do for employment? Where could we afford to live? How could we financially manage through such a huge transition? What about our children? All these questions made the level of risk seem very high for me. I resisted for quite some time. Then events in our lives seemed to indicate to me that it was time to take a risk. This would give us a chance to start fresh and since we were newly married we could now begin to form the life both of us desired without some ghosts of our past.

I will tell you that this risk has been very positive. We have come to love our new city and are beginning to search out our forever home. Our relationship has benefited and I feel re-energized. I have launched in a new direction with my writing. Taking the risk was necessary.

What might you need to risk? What is holding you back? If you take the risk, what could be the positive outcome?