It’s a Matter of Perspective … and Discernment

People tell lies. This is not new news. People lie for many reasons. If someone asks me to pray for them, I don’t ask why. I don’t assume their story needs to be verified. It’s not as if they’re asking for money (in which case, you bet I’m checking the background story)! If someone’s plea for support or sympathy casts someone else in a negative light, I may do some digging. There’s always two sides to the story. We are supposed to be intelligent, reasoning human beings. We’re also emotional and biased by our histories. I try not to take sides. I’m not in a position to judge others. But occasionally I’m called upon to discern the truth. Sometimes I’m compelled to share the truth as I see it.

When I was a teen, my high school opened up a computer club. I remember declaring my hatred for computers. By the mid-80’s I realized that if I wanted a decent job, I’d have to overcome my feelings about computers and learn how to use them. In ’86 I landed a job doing data entry on a mainframe computer. By ’87 I was doing word processing. By the Fall of ’89 I quit my job as a stenographer and went back to school to get a degree in Engineering.

Soon after that, I tapped into the internet. It was not like it is today. We had Bulletin Boards and Usenets. It didn’t take long before I fell in love with computers. And I fell hard. I’m inherently a researcher and I’m proud of my ability to find all sorts of information on a variety of topics. It’s a blessing. And a curse. (I give a nod to “Monk“.) The Internet is a researcher’s dream.
I’ve been a computer-geek for over 20 years, but in the land of social networking I’m still a babe in the woods. Mommy-bloggers seem so tech-savvy, blending art and design, wit and wisdom. I am humbled as I surf some of the best sites out there (according to Babble, anyway).
I’m not a Mommy-blogger. I’m barely a blogger. I’m a mother (my youngest is 15YO, my oldest is almost 24YO) and a grandmother (my 4th grandchild is due in April) and a geek. I may not be in my element, but I value the social network established through blogging, Facebook and Twitter. Most of my co-workers are mystified by my on-line presence (although many are on Facebook, few go beyond).
I could wallow in my insecurities, measuring myself against the greats and finding myself lacking. Instead I choose to do my own thing. Hopefully my “thing” is a positive reflection of my faith.
Recently, there’s been another round of drama in the World of Blogcraft and on-line networks.
Last week a toddler drowned and the mom tweeted a request for prayers. As much as I’m bent on seeking the truth, I didn’t stop to question (or check) the background – I stopped to ask God to be with the child and mother. On that day, God collected the toddler up to heaven and left the mom to deal with the aftermath. Ours is not to reason why. Only God knows His plans for us.
This weekend, another Tweeter sent an urgent request for someone, anyone, to call 911…and she provided an address. I’m not sure what’s going on in her immediate situation but I found myself reading her “back story” all the way back to 2007. She didn’t ask, but she’s also in my prayers. {NOTE: in the 2 days it’s taken me to finish writing this post, Jess has posted an explanation…and her thanks.}
Another blogger called for support of a friend who lost her home and family to a tragic fire. She and her family are in my prayers.
There’s also the ongoing story of Anissa and the tremendous outpouring of support for her (such as this video).
Sometimes the on-line community pulls together in a positive and remarkable way. Here’s a post by a woman who can truly testify to this. In this post, she’s responding to the Twitter “in-fighting” that took place between the mother of the drowned toddler and a women who positioned herself as a harsh critic (she jumped in to judge the situation and its tragic outcome).
Back in October I found myself at a crossroads. In this world, people lie. Whether I like it or not, that’s the plain truth. Not everyone is to be believed. I posted my thoughts on several situations that were made public via blogs. When the truth is not obvious, the burden is on the reader to decide.
Should we all become cynics? Should we doubt everything we hear? Should we refrain from sharing our opinion?
I choose to remain faithful, trusting in God to ultimately judge the action of others. Lying isn’t new behavior, but the Internet leaves us exposed to a much broader audience in a much smaller “world” via our social networks. For myself, I will do my best to love everyone and offer my prayerful support as needed. How about you?

The Great Interview Experiment

Neil at “Citizen of the Month” is hosting a fabulous social experience he calls the Great Interview Experiment. I’m horribly delinquent in completing my part of the experiment.

Ironically, the person I’m responsible for interviewing lived for a time in Shanghai, China. Ironic because this post has been held hostage by my 2 week trip to China.
Without further ado, I would like to introduce Alecia of Hoobing Family Adventures!

I see that you’ve traveled extensively, including living in Shanghai for a while. Coincidentally, I’m heading to Shanghai on Monday (my 3rd trip). I’m spending the better part of 2 weeks in Kunshan (west of Shanghai). Where do you recommend I go for a memorable weekend of tourism?
The top of the Jin Mao building, Yi Cafe for dinner (awesome international buffet inside the Shangri-La in Pudong), gardens in Suzhou, take the ferry across the Huang Pu river (we liked to take the ferry over to the fabric market in Puxi as we lived in Pudong), KeJiGuan fake market (Science and Technology Center subway stop on Line 2), Little Sheep (Xiao Fe Yang) Hot Pot restaurant (located all around town), Yu Yuan gardens (go to the tea house in the center and walk the streets further away from the enclosed area to see where the locals shop), Xintiandi if you want the more westernized shopping experience. There are also a ton of really good European restaurants (French, Italian) if you are looking for that. I know, random, right? I would say Jin Mao, Little Sheep, Yu Yuan and KeJiGuan are the musts. Oh and the ferry. Very few foreigners take the ferry, it is a great experience. Let me know if you need directions or the Chinese characters for any of those to show the taxi driver.

Of all of your travels, what was your favorite place to live/visit? Why?
We loved living in Guadalajara. The weather is awesome and we were close to the beach and the Mexican people are so wonderful. In one year we visited the beach (Manzanillo or Puerto Vallarta) over fifteen times. We could have been tour guides, seriously. Mexico is not the safest place though. For that China was good…very safe, but not good weather and the culture is less inviting. We do love living in Boise too, but after a few years back here, we generally get anxious to live somewhere exotic/different again. We like change and learning new cultures. How is that for not exactly answering your question?

As for our favorite place to visit…Cambodia sticks out in my mind as the most amazing place we have ever been. With the temples everywhere, the monks in their vibrant orange robes, the absolute poverty coupled with a newly booming tourism industry, the place is like no other. Honestly we have been so many cool places, it is hard to choose one. The Maldives were absolutely incredible with island atolls and having to fly up to the island on a sea plane. And there are still so many other places we want to go.

What was your least favorite place to live/visit? Why?
Hmmm, least favorite. Almost every place has something endearing about it. Generally, we would not go to a place if it wasn’t compelling for some reason. After some thought, I would say my least favorite places to visit were the cities in China during holidays because there are way too many people. We had this experience in Hangzhou, Suzhou and the Yellow Mountains.

Also, despite the unique pieces to each Chinese city, after awhile, they all start to feel the same with the exception of their key landmarks. I enjoyed living in China but it would not be my first choice to go to live again…and my husband will not go back there to live (although with the awesome sailing club in Shanghai, I could probably talk him into it if the opportunity was right.)

Do you plan to take Belén, your precious daughter, on adventures to foreign lands? Why/Why not? If so, where’s the first place you plan to visit? (If I’ve missed that she’s already made such a trip, forgive my oversight…and please tell of her adventures.)
Absolutely. That is actually why I chose the name for our new blog. We plan to continue with the adventures. We are taking some time to let her grow out of her newborn state and build up the bank accounts a bit. We hope to have another child and then in time, we would like to take both of them on a sailing adventure for an extended period of time. Details to be determined, but this is our goal. Belén’s personality seems to fit very well with adventures, I hope #2 is the same. We will be taking her on her first big adventure next May to Puerto Vallarta. She has had her passport since she was six weeks old but it turns out she did not need it as soon as we were expecting due to the costs of having a baby and lack of time of due to an extended maternity leave.

How does parenting compare to your previous adventures?
I could take the cliché approach and say that it is the best. In reality it is, but that is not a fair answer. Andy and I were married eight years before we definitively decided to have kids and had Belén. We had so much fun in those eight years that having kids was actually a tough decision. We really liked our lives. We are spontaneous, not planners. Kids require more planning and make spontaneity more difficult. I think we are taking it in stride and plan to try and change as little as possible of our previous patterns while at the same time bringing Belén with us on our globe trotting adventures. She is only seven months old so more experienced parents are probably saying, “uh huh, ya right’ and maybe it won’t be possible, but that is what we would like.

Both Andy and I have adored every moment we have spent with our daughter. She absolutely changed our lives in every sense and deciding to be parents was the best decision we have ever made. I guess the point I am trying to make is that the parenting adventure is superb but the ideal situation will be when we can better couple the previous adventures we were having with the parenting adventure. I cannot wait to show Belén the world and I hope she gets to see much more than I have seen in my lifetime and I hope we will see a lot together. Nothing sounds better to me than that scenario!

Do you consider your dreams complete or are you still harboring a list of things you’d like to do before “slowing down”? If so, what are the top 3 items on your list of dreams?
Absolutely, positively not. I am not ready to settle into American life for good. And for the record, I don’t ever intend to slow down. 🙂 I actually started a list of things I wanted to accomplish in my life when I was in high school. I have already accomplished many of the key things (marry for love, run a marathon, live in another country for a year, become a manager, earn a Masters degree, visit Salzburg, obtain a patent, etc.) There are still quite a few things on that list, but I think my top three things are probably not on that list.

  1. I would like to either start my own business or find a job where I can use what I learned in my MBA to achieve something meaningful or be a full time blogger or writer :). Ideally whatever this turns out to be, it would be flexible such that I can see more of Belén and hypothetical baby #2 during the day.
  2. Write a book. I am scared, but I must do it!
  3. Travel around the world with my family for a year, ideally sailing for at least a portion of it.

If I had a #4 not including the travel, it would be my non-goal of doing an Ironman. I have tried really hard to not let this become a goal of mine because once I have a goal, I have to do it…but I am afraid it has crept on to my list.

There are also a million other places I want to see (France, Peru, Croatia, Turkey to name a few) and we would like to live abroad again. Oh I also want to perfect Spanish, and pick up another couple of probably romance languages.

Wow, it is exhausting talking so much about myself. I feel so incredibly selfish, but thanks for the opportunity! Enjoy your time near Shanghai. Zaijian!

I have to admit, I’ve fallen in love with the remarkable and inspiring Alecia. I’m grateful for the opportunity to get to know her better. Not just because of what’s she’s done, or what she’s yet to do – she’s got great travel tips! Thank you, Alecia!

Life Interrupted

A reality of traveling to China (or anywhere on the other side of the world) is that the trip doesn’t end upon arriving home. Jet lag is a souvenir that hangs around for a week or two then is gone, leaving only hazy memories of the days spent in a sleep-deprived stupor. I shouldn’t schedule anything important during the week following these overseas trips. I should just add a week to the trip agenda and pretend I’m still out of the country.

One thing that makes travel to China exceptional is that while in China, Facebook, Twitter and Blogger are all blocked (or at least, they were blocked from the hotel I was in). I could get to Blogger while in the factory, but that is because I had access to a secure network in Taiwan. But the connection was painfully slow. And I tended to be busy working when I was at the factory.

The nutshell is that I fell hopelessly behind and felt ridiculously out of touch when I got back to the States on Monday. And, I had to overcome jet lag. Jet lag and exhaustion. One symptom of jet lag is insomnia. It’s ironic that in fighting the time change (14 hours difference between there and here) our bodies fight sleep. I’m starting to get over the worst of it. Just in time for the holidays. Fortunately I’m not going into the office for 2 weeks so I can play “catch-up” on some things, like blogging.
I’ve been seriously delinquent with my participation in The Great Interview Experiment but today’s the day. I’m providing responses and preparing to post responses. Please stay tuned.

"I’m in Training"

Oh, the joy of being the new guy. New at a job? New at a hobby? Being new at something brings inherent forgiveness for the inevitable errors and omissions.

Last week I bought a new heart rate monitor. Yes, it’s a men’s version, but hey! I’m new at this.
The first one I bought didn’t have the chest strap and although it was for women, it was a complete PITA and I had to effectively slow down my workout to get a read on my heart rate. In case you don’t know this, when the workout slows down, the heart slows down. So my darling hubby went back to Academy and traded the women’s Mio for the men’s Timex and now I can wear a goofy chest strap but get a more accurate reading and – even better – a complete summary of the work out at the end of the workout period.
Now I’m in training. I’m all about the numbers. Measuring progress, capturing results. The heart rate monitor (HRM) reports average heart rate, highest heart rate, time spent in “the zone”, etc. So naturally I’m going to build a spreadsheet and start tracking my results. Doesn’t everyone build spreadsheets to track their progress?
I’m also in training for my new career. NaNoWriMo is behind me, but that was just the kick-off. Now begins the long process of turning a novel into a published work while creating more works of fiction and non-fiction … for future publication. For now, I’m in training. No sense in signing up for a marathon just because I’ve successfully completed a couple of workout sessions. Nope. I’m currently procrastinating my next work-out session. A short story. To be submitted to the Austin Chronicle’s 2009 Short Story contest. And after that, I’ll be back to work on a non-fiction project.
And after that? Who knows? But there will be an “after that” because, well…that’s what I’m training for. To keep doing what I’m doing. Whether it’s walking around my neighborhood with my heart rate between 105-122 bpm or writing 1500-2000 wpd, it’s about changing the behavior for the long term and making the new behavior a habit.
So, I’m going to have a spreadsheet for tracking my exercise routine and a spreadsheet for tracking my writing routine. I admit it. I’m much more motivated when I’m measuring progress.
How about you? Do you have a goal or a dream? Do you track progress towards that goal? Do you forgive yourself for the errors and omissions you’re bound to make as you push yourself in a new direction?
Cheers to all who step out in faith or try something new. It takes courage to be the new guy… “in training.”

Celebrating Life

This past year was awesome. There were many highs and many lows, but the highs were all higher than the lows. I’ve been through the dark valley before so I know how important it is to appreciate time spent on the mountaintop.

Today has been a day that marks a few personal accomplishments:
I’m celebrating life – I turn 45 today.
I’m celebrating my career – from stenographer to engineer to development manager to line director and now author. Today I crossed the 50,000 word target for #NaNoWriMo and I’m still going. Finishing my first novel is a major milestone. Additionally, Guidepost magazine is publishing my 2nd story (March issue). Today the editor called to clarify a few items. I’ll soon be receiving the final draft for my approval. Today I lift a glass to the good Lord who guides me, my loving shepherd.
I’m celebrating family – Thanksgiving is less than a week away. I’m praying that the entire clan will be together for Thanksgiving…for the first time since (I’d have marked the calendar if I’d realized it was going to be the last time) maybe 2003.
But I’m also humbled and reminded to be grateful for all that I have and to take none of it for granted. Twitter and the World of Blogcraft have been alive with prayers for a woman I’ve never met, Anissa Mayhew. There are a lot of people that I respect who have written posts or Tweets that have pulled at my heart and called me into the powerful circle of prayer in the on-line community. Anissa’s life has been filled with valleys and mountains. She’s proven to be strong and faithful (based on all that I’ve read I firmly believe this to be true). She and her family need our prayers. I gladly lift up my prayers and ask that you join in.
God, Please show Your strength, Your mercy and Your grace. Bless this woman again, as You’ve so richly blessed her during previous trials. Be with her. Be with her family. Infuse her with Your Spirit. Only You can help her recover from the strokes that threaten her. Through Your steadfast faithfulness I trust You to show us Your power & might. All glory is Yours. Amen.

Where did the words go?

I posted “Where did the time go?” on my other blog this morning. I was surprised to realize a month has elapsed since my last post there.

The sister question to “Where did the time go?” is “Where did the words go?”
It shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me that I am a woman of many words. I can blah, blah, blah with the best of ’em. As a means of expressing those many words I’ve dabbled in blogging, writing about 450 posts between the 2 blogs. Most of those posts have been written since September ’08. In April of this year I joined the Twitter-masses, posting musings and news of my life in 140-characters or less. Apparently I’ve found 1388 things to say there – Twitter counts my tweets, keeping track for me.
For the last 2+ weeks the words that I’ve been tracking, guarding closely, watching and nurturing are all going into the novel I’m writing as part of NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writers Month.

It’s been a completely different writing experience – nothing like Twitter, nothing like blogs, nothing like monthly articles for newsletters. In October I’d imagined that I’d write a mystery. At the last minute, for many reasons, I decided to write about three couples at various stages of relationship. I wanted to develop characters (6!) and write believable dialogue and effectively express a story (or stories) of interest in thoughts that expanded beyond 140 characters and in plot-lines that carried beyond a day or two of introspection. I also wanted to develop the habit of writing every day.
I wake up every morning and thank God for blessing me with the desire and the ability to act on that desire. I’ve written over 37,000 words and I hope to cross 50,000 (the goal-line) by the time I go to bed this Friday. By the end of the month I’ll be on a plane back to China for another 2-week business trip. I’m looking forward to the new adventures and writing opportunities I might find along the way. I have a non-fiction work on the back-burner already and I have ideas brewing for future fiction and non-fiction efforts.
They say it takes 30 days to change a habit and I’m definitely well on my way through the transition. I look forward to every opportunity to meet with my characters and follow them through their adventures and misadventures. When I cross the finish line, posting my first novel on the NaNoWriMo validator, I’m not finished! Nope. I’m just turning the page on the adventures and misadventures of my own life. In the absence of deadline pressure I’ll have to rely on self-discipline to continue the new habit of daily writing.
Three years ago I made the declaration that I wanted to be a writer. I’ve been writing – my blogs, Twitter, the Trumpet and Guideposts are evidence of that. By the end of the month, 50,000 words will allow me to declare myself a novelist. A novelist in search of a publisher, maybe, but still a novelist. The desire, discipline and the daily habit of writing will enable me to do more. This experience has already changed me and I’m not done yet.
Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

It’s a Banner Day!

In the beginning there was a standard template bearing the title of this blog “A Mother’s Angst. Soon after that I jazzed it up with the emo weeping eye. I’ve wept so many times over my children it seemed appropriate.
I’ve been open about my angst, my sorrows, and sometimes my joy. The banner evolved to reflect my evolution from pervasive sorrow to the overriding joy given to us through God’s grace.
Today the banner takes another step forward. I may tweak it a bit but this is closer to what I’ve imagined for a while now. I’m reading the book of Jeremiah and I’m overwhelmed by the example God sets for us. I can relate to God’s frustration with His children, the people of Israel & Judah. Jeremiah 31 is all about restoration. I pray for the restoration of my relationships with my grown children. Meanwhile, I thank God for all that I’ve learned and am able to share with others.