A Sister is a Good Thing to Have

Maddening as they might be, a sister is a good thing to have. I should know, I’ve got one.

What’s a sister good for?

When we were young she was good for picking on, or, shame on me, for ignoring.

Now that we’re adults, I’ve found my sister to be a lot more useful. She’s good for lots of talk on the phone—she lives a thousand miles away.

She’s good for an honest opinion. Me, “What do you think of the new title for my book?” Her, “I don’t get it.”

She’s tops for creative ideas with fabric and other such. Bless her heart, she put up with me and made my wedding dress!

Keeping the family history alive too. Though sometimes we have different memories or perspectives on family events, it’s good to reminisce.

A sister is good for looking out for each other. We care deeply—that irrational blood bond—and we’ll always know that.

We just got to spend a few days together with the brothers-in-law, and it was amusing. Whereas I was usually the lead dog on family hikes, being the oldest, this time little sister was often in the lead and checking back with me to see if I was freaking out over the terrain, especially the series of ladders up a 35 foot canyon wall. (Not as bad as I feared.)

My sister has taught/is teaching me patience. After all, we didn’t choose each other. She was born into our family of four: Mom, Dad, little brother, and me. She was plopped into a crib in the heat of Texas, and I didn’t have a thing to say about it. Her arrival must have been quite a shock since it wasn’t long after that my parents pulled up stakes and moved back North. But, seriously, she must look stupefied at me sometimes and really have to put on her patient hat.

Everybody’s written about sisters. But nobody’s written about my sister—my unique sister.

My sister sent this card to me.

Thanks, Lisa! I love you too!

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Categories: Psychology | Tags: , | 8 Comments

Expectations of Spitting Dinosaurs

images“That wasn’t as cool as I thought it’d be.”

My grandson had expected the dinosaurs to spit at him. The ad promised there would be spitting dinosaurs.  But he had his cities confused—not at this particular exhibit.

Expectations. They can ruin our day.

Unmet expectations are bad enough—unacknowledged expectations can create a real ball of knots.

Let’s say a couple has the same argument over and over (who among us hasn’t?), and neither knows they’re working off different unacknowledged, unexpressed expectations. He expects she’ll go back to work after the kids are in school—why not?, his mother did. She expects he’ll do half the housework—her father did. Can you hear the arguments?

We run full blast, smashing up against our expectations, only to be disappointed. It’s no fun. If we have expectations that are met, well, we just think of that as things going along quite nicely, thank you.

Disappointments? Like the song says, “I just pick myself up and get back in the race.” That’s life.

But imagine running a race with poor eyesight—or, insight, as we say in psychology—learning to see inside oneself. Introspection. Self-awareness.

Back to my grandson. He got over his dinosaur disappointment in as long as it took to bounce to the next thing, which was ice cream.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Psychology | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Dr. Eastin’s Harley Pothole Theory

At the Harley-Davidson Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Dr. Eastin’s Harley Pothole Theory was born when, my first ride on my brand new 1200 Custom Sportster, I hit a pothole—a big one—smacked it so hard I thought I cracked the rim on the spoked wheel. The thing was, I was out in the country, no other vehicle in sight for half a mile in any direction.

Why did I hit it? It’s not that I didn’t see it! Reason: I was trying to avoid hitting the pothole, but I LOOKED AT IT TOO LONG!

When I took the Department of Transportation class to get my motorcycle license, I learned about this phenomenon. We go where we look, where we focus our attention. Therefore, when riding a motorcycle, one has to change one’s focus every so many seconds, or our body follows our focus, where we have our mind and our eyes. So to avoid hitting an obstacle, don’t look at it too long!

This was a great metaphor to pass along to my psychotherapy clients, since I’m constantly helping them THINK in more productive or deserved ways to drive BEHAVIOR that works better for them. Hence, Dr. Eastin’s Harley Pothole Theory.

One client said, “Of course, why do you think so many drunks cross the centerline and hit the oncoming car? They’re trying to avoid it and staring at it!” Another client, a pilot, told me it’s called TARGET FIXATION.

So, on a motorcycle, what you look at is where you go. (Don’t I know!)

And in life, what you think is how you behave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Psychology | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Wisconsinites Crazy from Weather

Water: Sometimes Ya Love It, Sometimes Ya Hate it!

Water: Sometimes Ya Love It, Sometimes Ya Hate it!

It’s true: we Wisconsinites are at serious risk of going crazy due to our weather. I’m surprised we don’t crack from temperature changes, or crack up from weather mood swings.

For instance, picture last night, April 13th, my husband and I are frantically shopvaccing rainwater out of a hole in the basement drain system—haul five gallon buckets to the window—climb out the window—dump the water in the middle of the lawn to avoid it draining back into our apparently faulty drain tile system—and back again. And again, and again—till 3 a.m.

So, the Rain of the Century that left us with an inch of water in our basement a year ago seems to have been repeated rather quickly. Only this time we were able to keep ahead of it and avoided huge carpet pieces laid out on the driveway to dry.

Then—this morning, April 14th, we wake up to snow on the ground. Aside from during ski season, that was the happiest I’ve ever been to see snow. No rain—no flood in the basement.

It’s a Wisconsinite’s birthright to complain about the weather—it’s obligatory. Even if I wasn’t born in Wisconsin, I’ve certainly been grafted in after 36 years. Anyway, it’s in my Minnesota genes. I remember back when we had “real winters” in Minnesota and some 100˚ temps in summer in the early 1970s. So I can complain about the weather like a pro.

How does this fit with the theme of my blog, “…because you can’t pour from an empty pitcher”? Because I got my complaints about the weather out of my system, for today. My pitcher nearly ranneth over!

Thanks for listening. 🙂

 

 

 

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We Are God’s Artwork, His Artists

A friend gave me the book, A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman.

The term art is painted with broad strokes. Freeman’s scripture-based premise is that we are God’s image-bearers, his artwork, and as such, it’s our task, our privilege, our terror, to find and live the individual artistry God has placed in each of us for His glory and the benefit of others. Everyone—even Dorothy, “the meek and small,” as she describes herself to Oz, The Great and Terrible—is God’s artist.

I’ve just started the book, but here’s a sentence that stopped me in my thought-tracks:

We’re desperately afraid of desire, terrified that if we consider for too long what we most deeply want, we will be confused about which desires come from us, which ones come from God, and how to tell the difference.

Bull’s-eye!

Daring to dream is God-given. And not following those dreams might be a waste of one’s purpose at best and disobedient at worst!

This same friend once said, “Are we going to be accountable for our unopened gifts?” Hmm.

I’ve known that God made me me for a reason: allowed me to develop certain interests, skills, and passions. Freeman gives us a gentle nudge, or kick in the pants, in the direction of doing something about it.

All right then—ready, set, GROW.

Categories: Christian Life, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Writing is Like Knitting

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My friend Sue keeping warm in the hat I knit for her.

Writing is like knitting. Here’s how—for me.

  • I’ve learned a lot by studying online. There are lots of videos, tutorials, tips, blogs—you name it—online.
  • It’s very technical. A new language of terms.
  • It involves words. Untangling the directions for a knitting pattern can be a challenge.
  • It takes practice, practice, practice (much like skiing!).
  • I make mistakes. Oh, do I make mistakes. Correcting them is both a pain and an art. The trick is to first find the mistake and then figure out how to correct it.
  • I get to give it to friends. I enjoy the process of creating, but giving away a gift is the best.
Categories: About Writing | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Writing is Like Skiing

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The process of writing is a lot like skiing—for me.

  • It takes practice, practice, practice—for years.
  • I need lessons and critiques from experts.
  • I make lots of mistakes and feel clumsy half the time.
  • Sometimes it hurts—my body and my ego at risk.
  • It’s frustrating.
  • It’s extremely technical.
  • It’s hard to remember everything I’m supposed to be paying attention to.
  • It’s the most fun—ever.
  • There are times when it’s absolutely, crazily, achingly sublime: when it all comes together, and I feel like I’m flying, that I can’t do anything wrong.
  • I’ll never regret doing either.
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American Road Trip West, Part 9

The road home—the Beartooth Highway in southern Montana and Highway 14A in the Bighorns of Wyoming.

Looking back at the Absaroka Range from the Beartooth Mountains.

Looking back at the Absaroka Range from the Beartooth Mountains.

Pictures don’t capture the majesty of these mountains.

Chalk Bute overlooking Beartooth Lake in the Beartooths.

Chalk Bute reflected in Beartooth Lake in the Beartooths.

Nor do they capture the gut-clutching, death-defying, close-your-eyes-and-trust-your-driver feelings.

The Beartooth Highway— 8% grade—15 mph hairpin turns! Hair-raising!

The Beartooth Highway— 8% grade—15 mph hairpin turns! Note the “guard rails”—I almost laughed.

Fortunately, there are places to pull in, catch your breath, and stand and gawk at the grandeur.

The Beartooth Pass elevation is 10,947 ft (3,337 m).

The Beartooth Pass elevation is 10,947 ft (3,337 m). See the ribbon of road below?

Then on we drove to the northern route over the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming. And I thought the Beartooth Highway was nerve-wracking! I don’t have many pictures of this route because I was busy coping!

The grade here is 10-11%. Breath-taking is a good description! That’s usually a good thing, but on occasion I didn’t want to give up my breath! (Lots of exclamation points here, you’ll notice.) I almost kissed the flat ground when we got down. And I swore off ever driving in the mountains again unless it was in Glacier Park’s little red busses.

Looking out at the vastness of Wyoming from the northern Bighorns.

Looking out at the vastness of Wyoming from the northern Bighorns. This doesn’t look very high up, but trust me, it is!

In hindsight, when I had recovered and was relaxing at the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, listening to a cowboy band, I thought of this day as one of the best mountain days I’d ever had. Thanks to my husband for doing the mountain driving, or I never would have had the experience.

Here ends my travelogue of our Great American Road Trip West; the harsh beauty of the West is a wonder to me; the indomitable spirit of the pioneers inspires me; and the enduring evidence of strife between peoples in our country saddens me.

Like Dorothy who stared in astonishment at Munchkinland and said, “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas,” the US is a whole of so many vastly different parts. Going from the Midwest to the West is like going from to Mars to Jupiter. Pictures and words absolutely do not convey the feel of the varied beauty of our country. Go see it for yourself.

Speaking of our country…

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Categories: Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

American Road Trip West, Part 8

Horseback riding in the Absaroka Mountains of Montana (pronounced Ab-sor’-ka). I’ve been looking forward to writing this post.

The Skyline Guest Ranch is three miles east of Cooke City, on Highway 212. A  log structure purpose-built as a bed and breakfast out of timber salvaged from the Yellowstone burn of 1988, Skyline hosts guests who want to run around the mountains by various means and for various purposes—horseback riding, snowmobiling, fly-fishing, hunting, backcountry camping—or guests who want to sit on the porch and enjoy the view.

Skyline Guest Ranch, Cooke City, Montana

Skyline Guest Ranch, Cooke City, Montana

Our purpose was to ride in the Rockies. This is the way to see the mountains: from the back of a horse!

Say ahhhhh!

Say ahhhhh!

Wrangler Rob, on his trusty steed Sue (a gelding), led us up and down, through the forest, and over rocks—for two hours.

Rob on Sue

Rob on Sue

Dave and I are seasoned riders, though out of practice for many years. I don’t know how rookies do this! Not that I want to deter you if you’ve never ridden a horse and you’re burning to try it in the Rockies. Just a caution: don’t panic. The horse knows what he’s doing, even if you don’t.

Here we are close to the turn-around point. As you can see from my right hand, I wasn’t altogether relaxed! It wasn’t a sheer drop to my left, but it was pretty steep and a long way down. But I was having a blast!

Turn around HERE?!

Turn around HERE?!

To give you an idea of how steep it was, to take this picture Rob had to dismount on the right and crouch on the mountainside, then remount on the right because it wasn’t safe to mount on the left, the side from which you always get on a horse.

Shortly after Rob took this photo, he said, “Do you want to turn around here? or where it’s wider?” “Here” was the width of a horse, with DOWN to the left. So I said, “Wider.” Duh! Well…”wider” was two horse-widths! Our horses had the maneuver done before I had time to freak out.

An afternoon shower on the way back did nothing to dampen our enjoyment of our ride in the mountains. We were just glad we were off the rocks by the time it started raining, not that slippery rocks would have bothered Mason and Rodman.

Now, when I’m lounging at home, drinking my morning coffee, my mind often wanders back to this ride. It was great! No, more than great—it was one of those lifetime greats.

If you go to the Skyline Guest Ranch, these guys await you.

The herd at Skyline Guest Ranch.

The herd at Skyline Guest Ranch.

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American Road Trip West, Part 7

Westward ho and away we go—to Virginia City and Nevada City, Montana. The two towns are separated by a mile or so, but they function as one museum of the Old West.

Virginia City, Montana

Virginia City, Montana

Virginia City is a little town in the mountains with a remarkably preserved main street from the mining days of the 1800s. Businesses like Bob’s Place (pizza!) are interspersed amid the old shops where it looks like the residents just up and skedaddled. Not much restoration here. You stand at the open door of the mercantile and peer in at the dust-coated merchandise stocking the shelves.

Dusty merchandise from the 1800's.

Dusty merchandise from the 1800s.

Tour the town in a stagecoach.

Tour the town in a stagecoach.

Nevada City is a collection of old buildings, some original to the site.

Nevada City, Montana

Nevada City, Montana

Here volunteers perform living history on the weekends. We caught the last performance of the season: The Hanging of Jack Slade. I wandered off to the side and took pictures of fancy chickens rather than watch Jack swing._DSC0455

These two wide spots on a western road were our furthest points west. The towns intrigued my husband when he read “Death of a Gunfighter: The Quest for Jack Slade, The West’s Most Elusive Legend” by Dan Rottenberg, so off we went.

If you want to see this part of the Old West, you’d better hurry. These towns are extraordinary, but the years are taking their toll. When I compare this wonderful piece of history to the glitzy museum at Cody, I really realize how much money it takes to preserve our history. These towns aren’t on the way to anywhere—your destination would be here, or you’ll miss it.

A jewel worth preserving.

A jewel worth preserving.

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