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Showing posts from June, 2017

Katherine of Aragon, the True Queen

“But for her sex she could have surpassed all the heroes of history.” – Thomas Cromwell on Katherine of Aragon.
I have long been captivated by the history of the Tudor dynasty.  Like so many other periods of dramatic history, this period is full of mystery, intrigue, and drama that surpasses anything we could make up in fiction.  Henry Tudor, the future Henry VIII, was a fascinating, frightening man who possessed tremendous potential but became an unhappy tyrant instead.
I have immersed myself in many of the non-fiction books available of this period, studying Henry, his advisors, and his wives in great depth over the last decade.  When historian Alison Weir released a retelling of the wives of Henry VIII in the form of a novel series, I was curious.  Katherine of Aragon, the True Queen is the first of this series and has brought this time period dancing to life in a true-to-history fashion.
Catalina of Spain, the Infanta of historical heavyweights Ferdinand and Isabella, was later k…

Let Him Speak!

It is a regrettable thing that so many women resist allowing their husbands to express their true opinions.  How I hate to see someone sit in silence when I know they have something valuable to say!
If my husband truly cherishes me as a person, I would have to assume that his opinions and advice about me, my life, our home and the future are all with my best interest in mind.  This is not to say that I will always agree, but how would I know if he never shares his thoughts with me?  So often we see men hesitate to share their opinions with their wives because too many times a curt response has shattered their confidence.  They bite their lip and deprive their wives of their opinion.
I was raised in a household of opinionated people, all expressing themselves, and whether in argument or agreement, we felt quite free to do so.  My parents were open with one another about their opinions, and sometimes there was disagreement, but without disagreement, we would never need to compromise.  …

Aging Gracefully

I was recently privy to a conversation where two people discussed how they would not go back to their twenties.  The man, age 38, said that even though he may not have the same energy level he did at 20, he wouldn’t trade who he is now for going back to then.
I couldn’t agree more!
Looking back on twenty-year-old me I have to smile a bit.  I was a hard worker and a college student, an energetic person, and back then I could easily live off of four hours of sleep every night.  But I lacked the confidence that I have today, the development of my skills, and more importantly, the patience that I have developed in the more than decade since then.  I have reached a place where contentment satisfies when happiness is fleeting, and where forgiveness is a gift more precious than anything else I could obtain. 
I do not feel old at all.  I am young, fit and energetic still – it comes with a bit more effort to it than it did at twenty, but it is well worth it.  I have far more to offer the wor…

Captains of Industry

I grew up in a tiny house with 6 people in it.  Despite the small kitchen, I remember my mom turning out baked goods like it was a factory and selling them for extra money back when a few bucks made all the difference. 
When the cookie sales took off, requests for personalized catering came in, and before long my mom had a regular income from cooking and baking.  On top of that, she took on a flyer delivery route two days a week, which my sister and I worked alongside her.  All of this on top of her regular job.  Nowadays she tells the stories about how those part-time gigs were the difference between being able to give us Christmas or not. 
My mom raised captains of industry in her own image.  My siblings and I all grew up with the same industrious streak that she had; we have always been willing to work at hard and unexpected things in order to make ends meet.  It was a fortunate example that she set for us, because many years later, after immigrating to America and being unable …

Boundaries and Expectations

I was homeschooled until grade two, having spent the previous couple of years traveling as part of my parents’ Great Adventure road trip.  Up to that point, I had experienced people of different cultures, played with children who spoke different languages, and learned that people come from all different walks of life and live differently.  What I had not learned about were greedy, entitled little girls in elementary school!
I had not been at school for very long before one particular little girl started trying to boss me around and borrow my art supplies, never returning them to me in the right condition.  I was a shy and well-behaved student at school, but was at my wit’s end dealing with this annoying child who sat in front of me.  I came home from school and vented to my mother, and she replied, “You teach people how to treat you.”
Well, the wheels in my little mind were spinning trying to figure out what on earth that meant.  I teach people how to treat me?  Shouldn’t they just b…

My Favorite Things

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…” is a line from Oscar Hammerstein’s famous song in The Sound of Music.  This song got stuck in my head a few days ago and I bought the download on my phone and have played it dozens of times ever since.
I remember the first time I ever watched The Sound of Music.  I had gone to visit my grandmother one summer – an excursion for which I always had mixed feelings.  My grandmother was not very grandmotherly, but she lived in a beautiful area off of a lake, and always had the most delicious jams and jellies on the breakfast table every morning.  I am frequently persuaded with jam.
I watched a lot of movies that summer, which must have been in 1992 or so, movies that have now become favorites that I love to watch and laugh at over and over again.  Overboard, Captain Ron, She Devil, and Death Becomes Her were all introduced to me from my grandma’s collection.  I learned to play Canasta while eating cherries and watching these movies.  But no bet…

It's in My Blood

It’s a funny thing to find out where you come from, ancestrally, ethnically, genetically; to discover stories from the past that unlock a mystery within you. 
Genealogy became a passion of mine a little over a year ago.  I went from caring very little about my family history to becoming fascinated, building my family tree on some branches back to the 1660s.  I discovered the small European towns where my long ago ancestors originated and then studied those towns to find out what life was like in those days for them.  A lifelong history buff, I was now seeing my own family history come alive within the stories of the real people who lived and thankfully had children that ended up leading to me!
It can be a risky thing, too.  You can discover very unpalatable truths when getting into the details of the family history.  On one side of my family, several generations back, we are the result of a religious figurehead’s secret affair and the love child that produced.  On another, I descend…

Life Without Strife

“A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm,” Proverbs 27:15 (NIV).
Women have so much to offer this world.  In the great history of humankind, women have stood up to achieve so much.  Some women give birth, some women go to battle.  Women have the soft and sensitive hearts to nurture others, but the backbone and strength to measure up to life’s heaviest burdens.  What a tragic circumstance that we live in a society where women think they are cuter and more fascinating if they are constantly sassy, snarky or sarcastic.
I say this because I know I can be guilty of this myself.  I often let a sharp remark overshadow my better nature.  This is not at all to say that I think women do not have value in being a little feisty.  I was not raised by a quiet, flimsy, powerless woman, nor was I raised by her to be one.  But how much stronger and more powerful I would be if I let my words be kind.  Especially with my husband and others who love me!
But how often do we…

These Summer Days

The first day of summer always reminds me of the carefree summers I had between the ages of thirteen and sixteen, those days when I was truly off.  After that, even in high school, I always worked during summers (and all year) so it was never truly the same again.  I cannot think of them without thinking of the song “I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis:
Those days of warm rains come rushing back to me Miles of windless summer night air Secret moments shared in the heat of the afternoon
Every class and generation have their summer songs, but this will always be the one that I remember.
I will always feel so fortunate that my carefree summers happened before cell phones and social media.  I distinctly remember long days of sun tanned skin and the smell of chlorine, the stain of some sort of recently eaten snack on my fingers or clothes, and the laughter of my best friends.  Nowhere in it is there a memory of a phone or a computer, and all of those old pictures were taken on a film c…

Fitness Snobs

It has been my unfortunate experience to know a lot of judgmental fitness buffs.  You get excited because you think you are making a connection with someone over a common interest, but then you are sorely disappointed that you ever brought it up.  You know the types; I don’t have to tell you what they are like.  Whatever you are doing, it is wrong unless it’s what they are doing.  I call them fitness snobs.
I would consider myself a fitness novice in most ways.  Despite my commitment to Fitbit, my completed half marathons, and the fact that I can squat with over 160lbs on a bar in repetition, I am still learning.  To this day, I still have never run a full mile without stopping.  I struggle through classes like spin and step because of the strain they put on my knees.  I would be a fraud if I represented myself as a fitness expert.  I’m more of an enthusiast.  Fitness has become a part of my lifestyle – a necessity for me due to family history and my natural propensity to gain weight…

Ships in the Harbor

“A ship in harbor is safe – but that is not what ships are built for.” John A. Shedd
It is sad that so many people go through life putting in their time at work to make a living, but never truly make a life.  They speak about the “someday” when they are going to travel, learn that language, or learn to skydive.  They are prisoners to a 40-hour work week (or often many more hours than that), come home to “rest” in front of the television, and then wake up and do it all again.  They let making a living become the purpose of their existence, wasting all of their other passions, skills, and interests outside of working and never letting those things reach their potential.
I was lucky that my parents set a different example for me.  When I was four years old and my sister was one, my parents bought a used RV, rented out their house for the cost of the mortgage payment, quit their jobs and we spent the next eighteen months touring western Canada, Mexico, and the United States.  My parents …

Anne with an E

There is probably no one anywhere on this earth as enamored as I am with L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables.  I have read the entire Anne series no less than two dozen times, following young Anne Shirley from her neglected and wistful childhood through years of scrapes and adventures.  Anne goes from orphan to a much-loved figure in her adopted town of Avonlea, bright and studious, becoming a school teacher, and going on to get a degree from a university, finally becoming a wife and mother.  I read the first book when I was 10 years old, probably the first book I ever truly fell in love with, and in the years since have frequently revisited the series, finding so much hope and delight in those well-worn pages.
The Kevin Sullivan adaptation from the 1980s has its flaws, but there could have been no better Anne than Megan Follows.  Follows captures Anne’s spirit, her hopeful nature, her enduring dreams in the face of adversity.  Anne Shirley, according to the books, loves to “fly …

My Fitbit-versary!

Today is my 3 year Fitbit anniversary!
It’s funny to think now how I hesitated over buying one in the first place.  Did I really need a Fitbit?  Wasn’t I already pretty sure how active I was?  Will I even wear it all the time?  But then I finally coughed up the $100 to get the original Fitbit Flex.  Once it arrived, I have never been without a Fitbit since!
It wasn’t long before I upgraded to a Charge, and then to a Surge, and then bought the Blaze that I still wear today.  I can tell you my step count and sleep quality for every day in the past 3 years.  I learned quickly how active I wasn’t.  Thinking that because I regularly exercise meant I am overly active, I soon realized I didn’t just automatically hit 10,000 steps each day.  Often, it required a little extra effort to ensure the step goal was met.
Then they added the challenges.  I recall early days in a Workweek Hustle challenge with friends and coworkers how I would spend my Friday nights listening to an audio book while I …

Doc Holliday

Tombstone has always been one of my favorite movies.  It helps that the movie starred Kurt Russell (a childhood favorite of mine, and I can still get down with some Captain Ron!), and Val Kilmer, who was such a wonderful and charming Doc Holliday.
I went to the O.K. Corral and nearby area (where the famous gunfight actually occurred) as a little girl with my parents who, like many tourists, were drawn to the history of the area.  I saw the old Boot Hill graveyard where Billy Clanton and some of the others are buried.  That was before the famous Tombstone movie had been filmed, but being there brought the scene to life.  As a child, I was taken with the idea of the “wild west,” where men were men and women were not always what they seemed.  I drank a sarsaparilla on a barstool in this historic old town, and a passion in my little girl heart began to form.
I am currently listening to an audiobook of Doc: A Novel by Mary Doria Russell and narrated by Mark Bramhall, a historical but fict…

Goals and 1001 Days

I have always been a goal driven person.  I have also, even from a young age, been curious to learn and eager to seek self-improvement.  I remember as early as the second grade wanting to be not just the top of my class, but the first to achieve academic milestones.  I am motivated by the prospect of being told “well done.”
At the age of 17, a struggling math student, I met the graduation requirements with 4% to spare.  However, the next semester, I dropped an elective in order to take a remedial math class just to help me better understand the concepts.  It was purely elective; I had already met the graduation requirement. But I could not imagine leaving school and letting these concepts go un-mastered.  Thanks to this unpopular decision, I went on to college and graduate school excelling in math (due in large part to a teacher who truly understood how I needed to learn).
Now I am seeking a master’s degree in management, but my informal learning is truly my favorite.  Goal achieveme…

30-something.

30-something.  What does that make someone?  Not old, certainly.  But old enough to have stories to tell, experiences to share and mistakes that have taught lessons.  I am not where I thought 20-year-old me would be, but in some ways, I’ve completely exceeded my expectations.
Today’s 30-something woman is in a unique position to share ideas, passion, and energy with the generations ahead of and behind us.  Whether we are mothers or career women, wives or single ladies, we have so much to offer about life experience.   And so much to look forward to, together.
I am a consumer.  I am a student.  I am a leader.  I am the woman on which some people depend.  I am a foodie and a fitness enthusiast.  I am a writer and also a critic.  I am someone who has made mistakes, but who has found redemption and love through Jesus.  My stories are not unique; they are the stories of so many women who are excelling through frustration with faith and passion!
We all have our stories to tell.  These are …