Life Inventory

Last month I celebrated another birthday. It was not one that is usually considered to be a milestone birthday and yet it did cause me to pause for some reflection on my life. I realized that like everyone else, I have experienced a long list of wonderful events in my life. Also like everyone else, I have experienced a number of challenges.

As I mentally created lists of both the positive aspects of my life and the challenging ones, I realized how blessed I truly have been. Like others, I have not always made decisions which produced beneficial outcomes. I did make the decisions that seemed right to me at the time. Most of those decisions were after consulting others. Yet, even after making some wrong choices, I would have to state that my life so far has leaned much more to the positive then the negative.

Reflecting upon where I am now in my life, I am grateful for the outcome so far. I am living now with integrity and honest display of who I am as a person. This has led to having an amazing husband who is a true partner who supports me completely. I also have two wonderful biological sons and two “adopted” foreign sons who bring me joy. Both of my sisters remain an important part of my life and I treasure our conversations in between too infrequent visits. My home provides shelter and comfort with some wonderful additions such as an amazing front porch to sit upon, an amazing backyard which I can view while sitting on the covered back patio, and an in-ground pool which I am starting to use for exercise. I am currently engaged in a new career as a writer (and blogger). I am also preparing to lead an online faith discussion group. I would be remiss if I did not also state that I have two loving dogs who always provide entertainment, challenges, and affection.

There have been plenty of challenges as well. I have experienced the extreme sense of grief when my eight-month-old nephew, my mother and my father each died. Having to be honest with the woman whom I married and had children with in regard to my sexuality was difficult. The divorce which was necessary after being honest caused pain and overwhelming fear. Leaving jobs and a number of moves each came with their own challenges even though they advanced my life in positive ways. At various points there have been lesser challenges as well.

Looking at my life to this point. I determined that the positives have far outweighed the negatives. My success has been due to the amazing people in my life. In fact, I would say that the relationships which I have had and continue to have been the greatest positive in my life. This truth leads me to say thank you to the family and friends who have made my life as wonderful as it has become.

During this time of isolation due to Covid-19, I challenge each of you to do a life inventory. Even when we are faced with challenges which this virus has created for many of us, when we reflect on where we are in life, I am confident that each of us will see how much better we are than we often realize. I am also confident that our positive outcomes can be linked to the relationships from our past or present.

Be My Neighbor

Growing up in a small, rural community of just over 800 people meant that everyone knew everyone else. In this small environment, I witnessed what it meant to be a neighbor to someone. My parents were friends with those people who lived around us. They would spend nights playing cards at each other’s homes. There would be times when they would get together for coffee and conversation. Whenever there was a need, either for a missing baking item or because of something having gone wrong, my parents and those who lived around us were the first to respond and supply whatever was needed. Together they parented each other’s children and had no issues tattling on us kids when they felt warranted. My image of what it means to be a neighbor is one of being similar to an extended family.

Having grown up and moved away from the community of my youth, I began to live in larger and larger cities. Some of these locations still had an understanding of being a neighbor similar to my own, but others had a much different concept. The city in which I now reside is a part of a metropolis of over seven million people. I would have to say that being a neighbor in this city is very different from the understanding which I have had most of my life. Being a neighbor to most whom I have encountered means having adjoining property lines or being across the street and that is the extent of the definition. While this is not completely shocking, I am not convinced that this is how it has to be. In fact, I would go so far as saying that I do not think it needs to be this way.

I have decided that I want to show those who live around us, a much different possibility of being a neighbor. Realizing that I am new to the neighborhood in which I now live, I know that I need to take small steps. The key to making this change is small steps which create trust. The first step which I have deliberately made is to be visible. We are fortunate to have with our house not only an awesome patio in our fenced off backyard, but a terrific front porch. My husband gave me wooden Adirondack chairs for a Christmas gift. Per my request, he painted them white. After taking down the outdoor Christmas decorations from our front porch, we moved the new chairs to the front porch. We added a half, wooden barrel (which he also painted white) in between the chairs to provide a stand for our drinks or other items. With this set up, it is possible for me to spend sunny mornings or afternoons sitting on the front porch, reading, and sipping a drink. By doing this, I am visible to my neighbors and gives me an opportunity to at least say hello whenever I see them out.

Another small step which I have taken is to be deliberate about introducing myself to neighbors whom I have not met yet. I share a little bit about myself and my husband, then I ask about their families if they do not offer information on their own. I work hard at remembering their names and a little bit about them so when I see them outside I can call them by name and even ask a question regarding something which they have already told me.

My hope is that by taking these small steps, I can build trust. By building trust, it will be much easier to interact more frequently and to do more in looking out for one another. The days of going over to one another’s house to play cards in the evenings may be gone. However, I think we all could use a little more feeling of being a neighbor in a world which can be so impersonal.

Like Mr Rogers would sing….. “Won’t you be…my neighbor?”

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!