snapshots & whatnot: windy waves, tides (& more besides)

THE SNAPSHOTS:

windy weather @ Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland

tide coming in @ Pemba Island (Tanzania)

…& WHATNOT

Here’s a quote for our minds to munch on after this week of terror, bombs & general craziness around the globe (& in our country.)

“Some day, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we will harness for God the energies of Love and then for the second time in the history of the world man will have discovered fire.”  Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

sunrise @ OBX

Here’s to harnessing (& sharing) the energies of God’s love to all we encounter today, tomorrow, the next day… and the day after that.

grace, peace & sunrises (of love)

Virginia : )

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Victoria Day (in Canada) for kindred spirits

Happy Victoria Day, Canada!! Last year my brother & I got in on the celebratory fun at the start of a two-week bucket-list trip organized by the Rocky Mountaineer from Vancouver in British Columbia to the Canadian Rockies in Alberta.

We didn’t realize we selected a bank holiday weekend to travel. (Barely making our connecting flight in Toronto due to crowds should have been a hint.) On Victoria Day we had fun hopping on & off a tour bus all around the city, enjoying our first taste of Vancouver @ the Granville Island market, packed out with Canadians celebrating, bagpipes piping, and beverages imbibed to honor Queen Victoria. (Considered the mother of Canadian confederacy; since 1845 a good excuse for Canadians taking a day off to celebrate her birthday.)

even industry gets an art-lift on Granville Island

We purposefully padded our Rocky Mountaineer trip with a few extra days in Vancouver to see a friend while gadding about the city. When I was a young (& woefully clueless) 22-year-old, Edie became my first mentor…and dearest of friends.

As vice president of a Canadian company back in the 1980s (when few women held such leadership positions), Edie led hundreds of employees. (The World Expo building where she worked is still impressive.) She left her corporate position to use her myriad gifts in ministries in Washington, D.C. and beyond.

I’m continually grateful to God for Edie’s influence in my life. What she imparted formed the foundation of my professional toolkit impacting eventual leadership opportunities, but the biggest treasure came through our weekly fellowship: advice (always good), life lessons, spiritual sharing, and fun.

Edie is in her 80s now. When I moved overseas & she moved back to Canada, we kept up through letters, emails, occasional calls – but I had not seen her in over 20 years (although she is always close in my heart & prayers.)

Contacting her about a day together in Vancouver (just one as to not tire her out), I offered to pick her up in a cab (& assist her getting around, nothing too taxing?)

LoL! Edie arrived at our hotel bedecked in a chic turquoise top, svelte in white jeans, and proceeded to wear us out zooming all over Vancouver: a posh luncheon @ Granville Hotel Dockside Restaurant; a lovely stroll in the Rose Garden @ Stanley Park, a full outing @ Vancouver Aquarium (where as a member she gave us an insider’s tour), and a thorough driving tour of the city.

Baby beluga whale  @ Vancouver Aquarium

Other than her blondish (now whitish hair), Edie is still full of zip & verve & joy. We had such a grand time with her… that continued the next night. As a longtime groupie of Welsh composer Karl Jenkins, I arranged tickets to the Vancouver Symphony to hear one of his pieces played as part of the Last Night of the Proms concert, not really understanding what that meant: lots of God Save the Queen, Oh Canada & other patriotic Commonwealth goings-on interspersed with music (like Karl Jenkins) and – laughter! Haven’t laughed so much at a concert since we saw the Canadian Brass years ago.

Canadians know how to do humor (& have a good time, eh?)

Canadian shenanigans @Last Night of the Proms

Edie also had a ticket, so we reconnected for a celebratory meal before the concert & her insider’s guidage of the gorgeous Orpheum Theater. Driving us back to our hotel afterwards (@11:30 p.m.), she asked, “would you like to stop for drinkies?” 🙂

I hope when I’m in my 80s I have Edie’s verve & zip for life – and the joy, joy, joy that powers the love in her heart she so effervescently shares. Altho she retired when she turned 80, Edie continues to mentor women in the city… (and I was her first mentoree back in 1989!)

Edie @ Prospect Point in Stanley Park

The next day Dwight & I were up & out by 6:30AM for an-all day excursion to Victoria (on Vancouver Island) via the BC ferries… (& a hilarious tour bus guide who kept us awake with colorful stories throughout our 15 hour outing.)

Edie told us not to miss Butchart Gardens…

…a fabulous place of incredible beauty…

…and JOY!

Must finish this Victoria Day post with a pic from Victoria, the capitol city of British Columbia (& named for Queen Victoria), where I’m sure they’re celebrating.

HaPpY HaPpY VICTORIA DAY CANADA!!

grace, peace & kindred spirits

Virginia : )

 “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”  Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

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snapshots & whatnot: motivational FiSH!

THE SNAPSHOT:

Going with the flow @ Two Oceans Aquarium in Capetown, South Africa

…& WHATNOT

“The opposite for courage is not cowardice, it is conformity.  Even a dead fish can go with the flow.”  (Jim Hightower)

… or maybe not.

Wherever you’re swimming in the rivers of life, if at times it’s tough going upstream against the current, keep swimming! keep swimming!! keep swimming!!!

HAVE COURAGE! HAVE COURAGE!! HAVE COURAGE!!!

…& DON’T GIVE UP!!!

grace, peace & motivational photographs

Virginia  : )

Photo:  Jamestown Island, VA

p.s. Shared this Jamestown photo previously, but today it somehow tickled my funny bone. May it tickle (& motivate) once again.

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Mother-less on Mother’s Day

Virginia is Mother-less on Mother’s Day for the second time (which doesn’t make it any easier.)  Sharing with you a post from last year…

After a spate of rainy days it was great to be outside today absorbing sorely missed sunshine. Couldn’t help but remember the many hours spent with Mama last year on the deck lounge chairs, enjoying the trees, the breeze, and the birds tweeting about us. Tweeting around us (not sure if they noticed us enough for bird discussions) but maybe we caught their attention. Papa always called us his two Virginias: the elegantly angelic Virginia, “Ginny,” his wife (with lovely white hair), and Virginia, his daughter (with flaming red hair.)

I hope I didn’t cause too many of Mama’s white hairs, but for sure, with five children we all probably caused a few (equally distributed, of course, since my siblings read this blog!)

Contemplating these memories, suddenly TWO BLUEBIRDS flew near our birdbath. A pair – a bright blue male and an almost disguised female, but yes, as she flew away the blue peaked out from under her wings.

Mama loved bluebirds, a sighting was always cause for celebration.

It’s so hard, missing her.  I miss Papa… but we had Mama all last year to hug on when our hearts hurt. We tried to pamper her (after 30+ years of their 58-year marriage looking after our wheelchair-to-bedfast-bound Papa, she surely needed it. Add the preceding 28 years of raising 5 children, there could never be enough pampering in the world for our precious Mama!)

I keep finding notes she wrote to me over the years. When I worked overseas she sent many small cards with encouraging words, written in her precious script. I put them in books & all sorts of places, but what joy to uncover them now. It’s like hearing her voice across the divide.

And then I remember the embrace of her love.  A few weeks before she died, Mama and I sat on the loveseat in the living room and huddled a hug of comfort that lasted awhile. I know she missed Papa all day, every day – they were like glue, stuck together (but oh what joy & fun they made together.)  In his absence she let us love on her, but she loved on us, too.

Every night tucking her in, I’d say, “Mama, we love, love, love you!” Repeating it loudly so my brother Dwight would hear his cue to come in. He’d kiss her on her left cheek while I’d get the right. Then she would say, “you know, I love you!”  We have her love notes, often slipped stealthily under our doors.  It was painfully hard for her to write the last few years, but how precious now her words, like gold.

When she couldn’t even speak that last bedridden week of Hospice, at one point she reached her spindly skinny arms up around my neck into a hug – a final embrace of her love that I will never forget.

It’s hard to be mother-less on Mother’s Day.  But I am grateful for the gift of my precious Mama’s love, and the legacy of her love – the love of God in and through her – shared in so many ways over so many days and years of faithful mothering.

Mama sharing love with Brighton Eve (#4 of her precious great-grandchildren, for whom she prayed every day…and for all of us, too….after them!)

Mama, we miss you! 

We love, love, love, love, love you!!!

grace, peace & love

Virginia

p.s. I wrote an ode to Motherhood many years ago that my siblings asked me to share @ Mama’s Memorial service. You can access it it by clicking here: Magnificent Motherhood.

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snapshot(s) & whatnot: …oh, joy begin…

THE SNAPSHOT(s)

(From Hermanus, South Africa) 

Oh, joy begin…

…again…

…again & again & again…

Oh, joy begin.

… & WHATNOT

Last nite Stephen Colbert hosted DAVE MATTHEWS on his show. I have been a Dave Matthews groupie for quite awhile: my best friend gave me his 1st album when he was still playing gigs around Charlottesville in the early 1990s. Ahem (awhile, quite!) She stayed around for grad school (while I graduated uni a few years prior to his presence in C’ville.)

His music still gets me up & dancing, or introverted & thinking – like last nite.

The song Dave Matthews played with guitarist Tim Reynolds is about the joy of having a child. So appropriate for Mother’s Day (celebrated on Sunday here in America.) The lyrics also rock about joy & tolerance. Be blessed to give it a listen.

Could not figure out why the name of this song is Samurai Cop?

“Let’s not forget these early days

Remember we begin the same

We lose our way in fear & pain

Oh, joy begin…”     (Dave Matthews)

grace, peace & JOY (the beginnings of)

Virginia : )

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snapshot & whatnot: an elephant, good grief!

THE SNAPSHOT…

…an Elephant @ Samburu National Reserve, Kenya… (photo: VLW)

…& WHATNOT

In Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant’s book, “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience & Finding Joy,” the second chapter is entitled Kicking the Elephant Out of the Room. The elephant being the loss, adversity, or whatever huge challenge faces you that everyone avoids talking about when they see you.

After the loss of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg realized she had actually avoided elephants in the room with friends, including a close friend who has multiple sclerosis. When she asked him, “how are you? I mean, really, how are you? How are you feeling?” He responded with heartfelt honesty and appreciation for the opportunity to share how he felt and what was really going on in his life.

This reminded me of my bedfast quadriplegic Papa, who always asked that question, “How are you, I mean, really? How are you, really?” And he really wanted to know. Many visitors & friends left unburdened and comforted because there was no room for elephants in time spent with my Papa.

Here’s to kicking elephants out of the rooms of hurting families, friends & colleagues by acknowledging loss, suffering, adversity and challenges with heartfelt inquiry:

How are you, REALLY????  (I care about you & I’m here for you.)

grace, peace & out-the-door elephants

Virginia : )

p.s. Highly recommend this book! Here’s additional advice from chapter 2:

“When life gives you lemons, I WON’T tell you a story about my cousin’s friend WHO DIED OF LEMONS.”  Emily McDowell

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The Utility of Futility

“All men know the utility of useful things; but they do not know the utility of futility.” Chaung-Tzu

Ever have one of those days? A few weeks ago, I had one. Early one morning when my brother took me across town to pick up my car @ the repair shop, my misbehaving phone somehow stayed behind.

Can’t be without my phone for an hour?  Nope.

(We were under a tornado watch.)

So, I drove 20 minutes across town to pick up the phone. Then drove back across town for allergy shots at the doctor’s office (previously passed on the way from the repair shop home to pick up phone.)

Makes sense, right?

Then there’s the reason for allergy shots: I can’t breathe.

No, seriously.

Flowers busting into bloom everywhere make this a lovely time of year, truly beautiful, but they make the task of breathing difficult for this red head. (My parents couldn’t believe it when I came home after working years overseas to find I’m allergic to 48 of the 50 airborne things in these parts?!)

Makes sense, right? Allergic to my hometown? Where I grew up without these challenges?

Then, on the way back home from the allergy doctor’s office, the engine light in my car came back on. The #@*$# engine light.

Oh, those happy, ignorant, moments from the car shop home spent plotting trips in spiffed-up car, with all systems spinning in sync. After numerous trips to repair shop to service misbehaving engine light, this time had such high hopes (after a high bill!)

Bing, engine light is back on.

Turned around, drove back across town to the car repair shop to check error code, or something. Two hours later, engine light disappeared with more investigative auto work. Trekked happily back out with healthy car, but 10 miles later, bing! Engine light back on.

Can’t breathe, car still sick (after $900 tab), but at least I had my phone with me.

These are inconsequential annoyances (although breathing is necessary.) But there’s lots of seriously tough stuff going on in our whacked-out world: bombs, terror, lopsided lives facing oversized injustice, and too many hard-to-bear challenges at home.

That got me thinking about the utility of futility. Looked it up & found it’s actually a concept contemplated by others. (Comforting, that!)

Overcoming challenges often seems impossible when viable solutions seem like exercises in futility. Why bother? When nothing seems to change?

Sometimes as much as we try, we can’t fix it. Maybe we’ve tried to think and work outside the box, doing new things. But it still doesn’t work.

The point about the utility of futility, however, is to keep on trying.

Michael Irvin, a famous American football player, gave a Hall of Fame speech 10 years ago I still remember watching with my Papa. He was a colorful character (nice way of putting it.) During his speech, this hugely talented football player cried and asked his wife & children’s forgiveness for his past egregious mistakes. On national television. In front of a gazillion people.

He left us with a message: “Look up. Get up. Never give up.”

Got that? One more time: LOOK UP. GET UP. NEVER GIVE UP.

The utility of futility: we keep on going.

Even if an answer is not in sight, we keep trying. Maybe change is slow in coming, but we keep going. Seems insurmountable ending things like global hunger, disease, human trafficking, and fighting for justice where hope has been hammered with violent oppression.

Step by step, however small, we keep on going.

Sometimes we change in the process…

Especially if we seek God’s help – to let go, and let God?

Change the way we’re coping on the personal front as we seek Heavenly shots of God’s love to help us find that sweet spot where the utility of futility and the futility of utility merge…

Where our want-to-be struggles with not, not-to-be, can’t be, won’t-even-try-to-be?

We keep trying, one step, next step…trusting, praying… one step, next step:

LOOKING UP. GETTING UP. NEVER GIVING UP.

grace, peace & futility utilities

Virginia : )

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2Corinthians 4:7-9)

looking up rainbow (outside our home!)

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