Thursday, May 14, 2015

Its all about HEART

  1. "Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic, or literary pursuits. In this context, Bohemians may be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds."
Anyone who knows us at all would probably say we fit Wikipedia's description of a Bohemian.  And know what?  We're okay with that.  

Years ago, on a cool October night, I met a young Robert-Redford-looking cowboy in a smoky dance hall in Houston, Texas.  I was an ordinary secretary by day and the girl singer for a popular country band by night.  He was a cartoonist for the Houston Chronicle by day and a serious artist by night. He asked me to dance during one of our band breaks and the rest is history.  I held on tight, knowing this was going to be the adventure that guided the rest of my life.  And Lardy, what an adventure it's been!

We've lived all over the country; in ten states and countless small towns.  In every community, we met wonderful, talented, genuine people who touched our lives and became life-long friends.  Some are millionaires, some celebrities, but most are just salt-of-the-earth fine people doing what they love and making life as good as it can be, regardless of what the rest of the world thinks. And that's what makes us like-minded.  

To subsidize our lifestyle, we've bought, renovated and re-sold 16 homes. Some were small renovations while others were complete gut jobs! We loved it, sore muscles, hammered fingers and all.  Oddly enough, we discovered we're not bad at it. Only broke even one time.

So here we are in the prime of our life (to me every stage of life is prime if you want it to be) and we find ourselves staring another adventure in the face. After decidedly announcing  that I was leaving the CEO/Executive Director world to pursue other interests, (like writing, opening a specialty coffee shop, rescuing and renovating abandoned furniture and becoming an estate sale junkie), an offer to take on another leadership role is on the table that could make me change my mind.  

My passion has always been in helping others, the homeless, the abandoned or abused child, the unwed teenager, the homeless veteran. I was able to do a tiny bit of that as the CEO of a health clinic that served the indigent.  But health care is changing and the bureacratic intrusion took a lot of the heart out of the process.  And for me, it's all about heart.  And the job offer is all about heart and helping children, the homeless, the poor, veterans and domestic violence victims.  It's custom made for me.  Really.  

So, tomorrow we travel north to Granbury, Texas, to do a little real estate shopping, even though the very thought of packing boxes, dismantling book shelves and reaclimating pets makes my jaws clinch, my heart flutters a little at the thought of another chapter in our already adventurous book.  A book I really do need to start writing because you know what they say, you can't make this sh**  up!


Sunday, May 19, 2013

It's 83 degrees and 61% humidity in Ingram, Texas, right now and it's 81 degrees and 14% humidity here in Fort Sumner.  It's 9:30 p.m. there so Mike is probably asleep in his recliner; it's 8:30 here so I'm just starting to wind down from the day. 

If anyone had ever suggested Mike and I  would one day be living in two separate houses, two separate states, two time zones and completely different climates - I would have considered them completely crazy. That said, if  they had leaned a little closer and said, "don't worry, you'll be able to Facetime every night so it won't be so bad," I would have backed slowly away and made a mental note about their mental condition for future reference.  I never heard of FaceTime five years ago and my husband could barely check his email and NEVER answered his vintage style flip-phone. 

My oh my, what a difference a few years can make.  We sold our home in New Mexico, quite unexpectedly, in December and scurried around and found a new place back home in Texas.  Mike and half the Y-ME household (Ruger and Maggie) are happily settled in the new Y-ME headquarters just a stones throw from the Guadalupe River in Ingram, Texas, and I'm snug as a bug in a cute little rental in Fort Sumner while I continue my job at the Health Clinic. 

Mike not only checks his email all the time, he has a jillion Facebook friends and posts something everyday, has reconnected with many of his 227th group from the Vietnam era AND his high school friends from Augsburg, Germany.  We're going to his Germany high school reunion (being held in Savannah) next April and he has already made our reservations!  Who wudda thunk it??? 

It just goes to show that embracing change can open all kinds of new doors of opportunity.  I'm as surprised as anyone that my Mike has moved so far ahead in the world of cyber communication - but I think it's absolutely awesome! 


Saturday, January 01, 2011

No Ordinary Saturday

It's quiet tonight; the wind outside is cold and making short shuffling sounds with the leaves on the deck.  The fire in the fireplace has been on all afternoon so I hardly notice the soft hissing sounds it makes.  We almost always take the week after Christmas off to regroup and plan for the new year.  This year, we took the time off and made a quick trip to Texas which was wonderful.  It was good to be back for a while and good to spend some quality time together.  Today we sat down and discussed the new year and all the things we want to do in it.

Funny, isn't it?  Today was really just another Saturday not all that different from last Saturday or the Saturday before that - except that today was the first day of a new year, a new decade even.  Something about that distinction makes many of us stop and take notice.  It's a time to review what you've done, where you've been, where you want to go and what you want to do. Thinking about those things on this Saturday recharges our batteries and opens our eyes even wider to the possibilities that lie ahead.  Whatever bad happened before this Saturday gets chalked up to experience and tossed out with last year's stuff.  We'll take only the lessons learned into 2011and happily move forward, thank you very much! 

For me, it's a great time to throw out the excess, clear out the clutter, slap new ideas on the table, redesign my entire agenda - personal and professional - and make an action plan.  It's not likely that I'll achieve all I set out to but that's okay.  I'm grateful that I continue to have new dreams and a decent amount of energy, drive and determination to get me as close as possible to them. 

I love adventure and I'm convinced that holding on to that adventurous nature keeps me feeling alive.  I have lots of dreams - of working again in the homeless ministry, of finishing the books we have started, of working alongside Mike designing dinnerware and linens and other gift products and of creating a health and wellness center for this community that will provide all types of specialty care by visiting providers and a wide range of preventative care programs for chronic illnesses.  Of writing in a little studio adjacent to my tiny chicken house where feather footed chickens stay busy looking for bugs that wander over from the garden.   Are all these dreams achievable?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But either way, they're still my dreams.

A famous ad man once said, "when you're through changing, you're through."  And in marketing, that's very true - you have to keep moving and evolving to keep up.  I think the same is true in our personal quest to be all we can be.  When you stop dreaming, what's left?  

So here's to 2011 - and all your fabulous, outrageous dreams.  May they all come as close to reality as possible - and may you keep replacing them with new ones all the time.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Look at these sweet faces. Three beautiful little girls who shouldn't have a care in the world. But these three precious faces are just a tiny fraction of the children left orphans in the devastating Haiti earthquake. The picture was taken by my assistant, Misty, a remarkable young woman with an MBA who fell in love with a sweet man from Fort Sumner, married him and moved here a few years ago.

For five years straight, Misty has made an annual trek to Haiti where she spends a week doing mission work in various orphanages there. After the earthquake this year, she feared she wouldn't be allowed into the country - but at the last minute, both she and her new husband, Tim, were cleared to go. For six days, Misty, Tim, and 32 other volunteers worked with the children; holding them, reading them stories, playing games and just providing some loving comfort to them during this difficult time.

I'm so proud to know them both. They've taken the time out of their lives, spending precious vacation time from work -  to do something that really matters - something that really makes a difference.

Another dear friend, Pat, who has been at Leanin' Tree almost as long as Mike, just returned from Afghanistan where she spent more than a week helping to rebuild homes and lives in a war torn land. Pat is another of my heroes. She made the effort to do something - to make a difference in someones life. To make it better.

We've  had the good fortune to meet and get to know a lot of folks over the years - some regular and a good many famous by most standards.  There were many who were insanely wealthy  and spent thousands of dollars to maintain their status quo. But I can honestly say that of all the actors, artists and corporate giants we've rubbed shoulders with, none have left the lasting impression that Pat, Misty and Tim have.

I admire them and long to be more like them - they are my heroes.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Sweet Whisper

Jessie Boone is a little firecracker of a girl. Last March, Jessie, then 15, went on a ski trip to Colorado with her youth group from church. She lost control on a run and hit a tree, cracking open her skull and forever changing her life and the life of hundreds of people who love her.

Jessie was airlifted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in Grand Junction where she stayed for the next three months. For the first few weeks, she lay in a deep coma with two sides of her skull removed in an effort to control the brain swelling. Her tiny body fought one infection after another until she was finally stable enough to be flown to a rehab hospital in Oklahoma.

Many weeks later, her parents were told Jessie was ready to move on to a long term care facility where therapy could continue or they could take her home and arrange for therapists to make home visits. Jessie's parents, Lisa and Bill, knew she would do much better in her own home. Lisa, an RN who worked for Hospice, left her job to stay home and manage Jessie recovery.

Just before Christmas, after months of therapies, Jessie was able to crawl up the stairs to her bedroom. It was grueling but exciting. Several times, she's been able to eat small amounts of food and keep it down - YEAH! And one Sunday morning, she sat at the kitchen bar and "helped" her dad make sourdough biscuits - probably the best biscuits that family ever had. While being helped to her bedroom one night, she sort of steered her drivers into the family office and sat down at the computer. She looked at the keyboard for a while, then tried to type something. Her vision is still very impaired which made it impossible for her to type anything but the doctors are hopeful it will get better as her brain heals.

But then last week, there was a biggie baby step. Jessie hasn't been able to speak since the accident, which was heartbreaking for her parents. Then last Saturday night, Lisa leaned close to Jessie's face to kiss her goodnight and as she pulled away, in a soft sweet whisper, Jessie said Mom. Lisa ran to get Bill and asked Jessie to say it again. And she did.

Now that, my friends, is pure God given joy.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Return of the Chickenman

Four decades ago, thousands of young men and women, some only 18, left their home country to fight a war in Viet Nam. They would spend up to a year or more in a land where most of the population didn't want them there which was bad enough but upon returning home, they were met with disdain and disgust - all for doing what they were ordered to do.

The bonds soldiers form is strong; they become brothers in arms, standing strong and banding together to get the job done and go home safe and sound. Some do - some don't.

The soldiers came home sporadically and returned to their home states where they tried to move back into their lives. Again, some were able and others were not. Most lost contact with each other when they tried to put that part of their lives behind them.

Mike was the company "artist" while he was there and designed the Company's patch. Their call sign was Chickenman. When he wasn't drawing the Chickenman, Mike spent a lot of time doing caricatures of his buddies and cartoons about their sparse conditions and a few with political slants.

Several months ago, a message popped up on our email from one of Mike's army buddies about a reunion he was planning for the A-Co. 227th. A website was set up, a place and date were set and the few guys who had found each other started looking for the rest of them. One by one by one, the A-Company 227th of the First Cav Division started connecting with long lost brothers. And next week, many of them will gather in Branson, Missouri, where they will see each other for the first time in over 40 years.

It's been such a treat for me to watch Mike's excitement every time another call comes in. He connected with is best friend from back then, Joe Joe who lives in Vegas now and another of their running buddies, Pete, from Alabama. These three rarely let a week go by without calling each other and when they do, the laughter is loud and long.

I'm going along for the ride and boy, what a ride it's bound to be!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

I love Fall. It sneaks in behind a soft summer day and suddenly the morning has a snap to it that you aren't expecting. The air seems clearer; the sky seems bluer (is that a word?) and waves of orange and yellow leaves lay in surprising designs on the ground. There's an undefinable joy in the crunch of big colorful leaves underfoot. It's the perfect way to close out the blur of summer with its endless activities.
One day, down the road, I dream of having a smallish writing studio in the trees where my little dog, Angus, and I will wander outside on just such a Fall morning. Angie will find a comfortable pillow on the well worn overstuffed chair that sits in the corner next to a stack of books and magazines. I might just sit next to him with my laptop and pick up where I left off the day before on a book chapter . . . an article that is nearing the deadline for submission . . . or maybe I'll just spend the morning doing Internet research to support a cause I've decided to write a story about. It's the freedom of thought that makes the writing worthwhile - significant because it found me - not the other way around.

That day will come because I know that's what God has planned for me. I've known it for years but I've also known the path to get there would be long, rocky and winding. That's okay because making the journey will make me a better writer. At least I believe it makes me a better person for finding my way over the obstacles and around the corners - and if I am a writer from the heart, my stories will have more substance and authenticity. Some days - like today . . . I can hardly wait.