Who is Writing YOUR Story?*

journal-shelf

So what were you doing 30 years ago today? I took my two-year old daughter and her friend to story time at the library, got my six-year-old daughter to the ice skating, a friend stayed for dinner and we all watched the World Series. Riveting, right?

Some decades of our lives can just swoop by leaving a handful of memories like a few vacations or special events. Yet we are all writing in the book of life every day. Do you ever ponder where all that time went?

Thirty years ago on a nondescript day in October of 1988, I looked around at my four children aged 2-10 and wondered what any of us would remember about these days of playing house for real. So much of our time was all about making lunches, preparing dinner, cleaning up, tossing another load of laundry in and…you know how it goes.

That afternoon, in a rush of inspiration – the kind you have to act on immediately or it is gone for another decade – I piled them all in the van and drove to the nearest bookstore that sold blank fabric books. The next morning (because I’m not very creative at night!) I wrote this on the front page of the book:

To my children so you might know what your mother was like and how we lived our lives together when you were growing up.”

And then I jotted a couple of lines about what we did the day before:

10/18/88 (Saturday) Spent the day doing a marriage conference and Karla took the kids to the Art Institute. Christa was at Cooneys all day. Ordered pizza from Little Caesars and ate it sitting on the floor watching the first game of the World Series. Dodgers vs Oakland A’s.

For the past thirty years, I haven’t stopped.

Each morning in around 100 seconds I can record the happenings of the previous day in about three lines. Most days are just not that sensational! The notes are all about the facts, what happened. I save my emotion for my prayer journal. Can you tell I like to write?

Funny but the journals, I’m on # 29, now, have evolved into our family’s Google system. Questions like “Who did I go to prom with junior year?” “When did I get braces?” “Where did we go on vacation in 1993?” are all answered in the journals.

I hope to keep this up, for let’s say another 30 years. Maybe no one will really care that one day we ordered pizza and watched a ball game. Could be said about many days around here! But I care….and that is enough.

What is not recorded is not remembered.

Who is writing your story?

Hope for the best,

Tish

* Adapted from a previous blog post in 2016.

Crossing the (Wisconsin) Border into a Legacy

Three grandchildren, six games, one jigsaw puzzle, two movies, a jug of cider, a bag of popcorn, a box of graham crackers, a package of marshmallows, chocolate bars, M & Ms …plus all the real food we might need for a couple of days weighed down our car as we drove north to Wisconsin last weekend. Our destination was Green Lake, the charming town Tom and I discovered 42 years ago.

Other than Quincy, it is the place I have returned to most.

Surely there are trendier Wisconsin destinations like Lake Geneva or Door County, both of which I also love, but sleepy Green Lake holds memories of seasons of my life and keeps calling me back.

25 years old, looking for a weekend getaway from the city with my love in our young marriage, we found our way there. We meandered, shopped a little, stared awestruck at the brighter stars, sipped cider, talked about nothing and everything. The next year we went back, listening to a Carter-Ford debate while we drove. We returned the following year too, following the same script. Always the same tiny fishing cabin. No, we don’t fish.

Fishing for seaweed.

We took a little time off to have a few kids but started going back again, squishing everyone in the same little cabin. They loved it, we loved it. We meandered, shopped a little, stared awestruck at the brighter stars, sipped cider, talked about nothing and everything and added throwing a football around.

Fall after fall, Green Lake was always on the schedule. We worked around football games, high school jobs, crazy schedules and sometimes sold extraneous stuff to cover the costs. It was always worth it.

The first year the oldest was in college, we went to Parent’s Weekend instead. Oh sure, we talked about doing both, but it was just a fantasy. We had one weekend to spend every fall and Washington University got it. Then University of Iowa, U of I and finally Purdue. Wonderful times indeed and no regrets, we were onto something new.

A pretend adventure at sea.

Green Lake waited politely. After a 17-year break, we returned with all our kids and their kids and easily fell under the spell of Green Lake once again. Green Lake 2013 Post We meandered, shopped a little, stared awestruck at the brighter stars, sipped cider, talked about nothing and everything. We still rented the fishing cabin but added the larger lodge for our crowd sized group.

Five more years flew by sans a trip to the town until last weekend. Tom and I and the “Bigs” as we call grandchildren # 1, 2, & 3, did a perfect reenactment. Including the football that got tossed all the way into the town square. The grand adventure occurred when it landed in the river, but a dramatic rescue ensued. No doubt that story will live on for decades.

Always a puzzle on hand.

Just like always, We meandered, shopped a little, stared awestruck at the brighter stars, sipped cider, talked about nothing and everything. Like five years ago, we also built a fire and roasted s’mores right before the flashlight walk when they stayed up way later than their parent’s policy. Oh well.

Walking to “town.”

As we dropped them off, the question, “Can we go back to Green Lake next year?” was already in the air. The legacy was clearly passed to the third generation.

Yes, my loves, we can always go back. Even if just in our memories and photos, as the imprint is deep and near at hand. But I put it on the calendar just in case!

Hope for the best,

Tish

The October Makeover

Mid 80’s outside today but my electric fireplace was on this morning because it’s October* and the annual makeover is almost finished. I can’t just “fall into fall,” but love changing up little things all over our home during the first week of October. Yes, I know Autumn started last month but September is in the post-summer category for me 😊

Home: Our shelter, haven, nurturing base for those we love and others we invite in to share our table, our ideas, our lives. We can leave our imprint in the room through the ambiance as well as our words.

Fall has the best possibilities for changing out the day-to-day and besides something fresh to look at, you might see your energy rise with all the reminders that something new is in the air.

I start with asking my husband to pull out my large see-through box from Target from the garage which holds all the inexpensive decorations I have amassed over the years. A trip to Farmer’s Market for funny shaped colorful gourds and a pumpkin are usually the only new additions but this year I picked up some fresh eucalyptus too.

Candles migrate up from the basement where I stashed them last spring and I grab the bag of lap quilts from the back of the closet. Not that I can actually read by candlelight with a quilt on my lap, but I like the concept. Lots of Hygge going on here!

Like snowbirds, the summer plates and colorful flatware return to their winter home in the top of the kitchen cabinets and the Friendly Village plates from the local antique shop and white flatware return to the mainstream. Soup is back on the Sunday menu too which is such a relief as I’m not great at meal planning.

When the house is done, it’s my turn for the change-out starting with taking off my favorite ankle bracelet so I don’t break it while pulling off socks and changing my Fitbit band color. Will miss that fuchsia on my arm but it will be waiting for me in the drawer.

I’m kind of an accessory minimalist but have a few scarves and fun necklaces which also get switched out because I don’t have enough room to store everything all year round. A cute $3 box from Dollar General holds the out of season stuff until I need it again.

Wait, I need to keep notes where I’m putting all this stuff!

I’m still working on switching shorts to sweaters but with yo-yo weather until November around here, that will be a work in progress for the next few weeks. Socks and slippers are out though but don’t need either today.

Now all I need to do is need to open a can of pumpkin and start creating something!

How do you mark the change of season?

Hope for the best,

Tish

* I unplug it May-October

 

 

 

When Tish Met Tom

48 years ago today an uneventful meeting in a high school gym forever altered the course of my life. But the story started the summer before that…

I landed on the campus of Denver University in the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college to take a couple of classes.  Didn’t know anyone, just how I wanted it.

My soul and the rest of my life was restless and uncertain. All I thought I believed in felt questionable, God especially.  My young-girl faith couldn’t quite bridge the gaps.  The mountains seemed like a safe place to hide or find myself again.

Next to my dorm sat Evans Chapel.  Same John Evans that founded my town, Evanston, but of course I couldn’t see that far ahead.  The small aisle inside the chapel allowed me to stretch out and cry for help, if anyone was listening.

Apparently, someone was.  As I exited the chapel one evening, a guy began to talk to me about Jesus. I told him no more religion.  “No problem, this is Relationship.”  I desperately wanted relationship.

And then I fell in love.  Not with the guy (I never saw him again) but with Jesus.  OK, so it wasn’t love at first sight but by the end of the summer I didn’t want to break up.

We’re still together.  He knows all my quirks and loves me anyway.  I get mad but don’t walk out.  Our communication skills are pretty good after all this time.

Soooooo…back to campus in the Midwest.

My Colorado friends told me to look up a group called “Intervarsity” a campus group of Jesus’ followers. I never heard of it.

The first day back, I was moving too fast coming out of an elevator and literally ran into a girl carrying a poster which got knocked out of her hand due to the collision. Apologetically, I picked it up to hand it back and saw it advertising an event, for Intervarsity!

Me: Oh Intervarsity, I was going to look that up here.

Her: Why don’t you come to the event, it is this weekend?

Me: Yeah, maybe!

Her: Have you met Tom Suk? He lives in this dorm, he will be at the event, I can introduce you.

Me: Don’t know him. Thanks for the info.

Friday night, Sept 18, 1970, I nervously walked into the “Action Bash” my new friend invited me to. Fortunately, she was watching for me and quickly came over to talk.

Let me introduce you to Tom… and she led me down the hall to the gym. His long hair pulled back in a pony tail, wearing a white tee-shirt and blue jeans, he was playing basketball. Politely, he stepped out of the game to meet me.

No immediate sparks but we were in the same dorm, the same group, pretty soon the same Bible studies and by January, I was totally smitten! Him…not so fast ☹

Three years later we pledged our lives in marriage to one another forever.

And every year, on September 18, we remember the nondescript start that set everything else into motion.

Hope for the best,

Tish

 

The Lost and Found Napkin Ring

My mom was what you would call “big on manners.” She had very definite ideas of what could be on the dinner table like bowls and pitchers and what wasn’t allowed like pans and cartons.

From time to time she would fine us for “bad manners” like a dime for an infraction. Sometimes it was more fun to choose crude and sacrifice a dime for the cause. Or my brothers thought so!

I have a memory of going to something like charm school on a small-scale to improve my skills. No boys allowed in the class. She tried hard.

Cloth napkins were held in high value at our house and one day a package showed up in the mail with a silver-ish napkin ring for each of us with our name on it. My mom was so thrilled with these like she had just won the sweepstakes.

At the end of every meal we would insert our used napkin in the ring for the next round at the table. Cut down on laundry she thought, another high value.

Then the napkin rings stopped showing up because we stopped showing up. Off to college, jobs, new locations with new families. I forgot all about them.

Funny, but when I started setting my own tables though, napkin rings often made an appearance. I picked them up at my usual spots like garage sales and resale shops. I guess folks were downsizing and cast them off. I have quite a collection 🙂 Bowls and pitchers too. I guess the message “took.”

Some of my napkin rings.

Last May we had an auction for my mom’s stuff she no longer needed. Like minded stuff sold together and one of my high school classmates bought a kitchen box. A few weeks later she called my brother to tell him she found something I might want: my napkin ring! It wasn’t lost after all, just hiding.

The lowly napkin ring became like the straw turned to gold. Nothing to do with the $ value and all about nostalgia: Memories of hamburgers served at the fake wood table on Saturday nights, the way mom lined up all five napkin rings like museum artifacts, her now precious insistence we learn how to dine not just eat.

Thanks Mom for the napkin rings and all you hoped they would deliver. I think they did the job. I’ll try hard not to lose it again.

Hope for the best,

Tish

 

 

(Three) Gym Girl

My cousin inspires me! She’s 15 years older 🙂

No one would ever mistake me for a jock. I don’t run for any reason and I dislike sweating. Taking a walk is nice especially if I have a destination in mind or if there is water on my left (or right.) But I want to live long and strong and I can’t find any research that doesn’t say exercise is part of that equation.

I just never would have guessed I would end up belonging to three gyms now, all for no cost! Even more unexpected, I actually go, multiple times per week.

My gym history is pretty nil. After dreaded calisthenics in my early years, I decided no more of that and took up walking for years. “Aerobics for Women” was my guide in the 70’s and I stuck with the walking schedule.

Four kids later, I briefly joined “Women’s Workout World,” till it closed then made friends with Jane Fonda videos when the urge hit me to move a bit. We hit it off and I always felt better after the video than before (when I talked myself into it.)

Fast forward through more walking, a time at “Curves,” occasional yoga, a stint with a trainer until he quit and then back to Jane Fonda. DVD’s now instead of videos and definitely designed for women of “a certain age.” Somehow my sporadic attempts had only sporadic results.

What else could I try? A new book I picked up recommended exercise six days a week*. Sheesh I was getting busted! Clearly it was time for a new plan.

The answer came along with my new insurance policy: Silver Sneakers: A free fitness program. Five free classes a week at my local center and free gym memberships all over the country. I signed up for three! Two local and one in Quincy where I visit my mom often.

Two in town, one in Quincy!

Last January, I decided if I was going to go at all, it would be six days a week and so far, so good. I’m not so good at “occasional,” it usually results in never.

The biggest shift was in my head, I decided not to hate it.

Maybe there’s a way to live ling and strong with exercising but I’m not taking my chances…and clearly I’m out of excuses!

What’s your plan?

Hope for the Best,

Tish

* ” Younger Next Year for Women.”

The Summer of Three Reunions (part three)

Some of the women of the Class of ’68.

My inner-teenage girl pops out often at the strains of a Beach Boys song, but it’s been a long time since high school!

Yes, that’s me!

1968: “The year that transformed the nation” according to USA Today. All this year, the 50th anniversaries of that tumultuous year filled our news feed. The infamous Chicago Democratic Convention, August 26-29 of that year is the next one. I didn’t have to wait to read about this era in the history books, I lived it and it was intense. My “coming of age” year.

On May 28, the month between the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, another 1968 milestone occurred, High School Graduation. Notre Dame Class of 1968. My memories of that day are vivid. All 122 girls lined up in a waiting area and someone passed out lollipops and we all started laughing and hugging. I remember realizing we would never all be in one place again.

 

Can you spot my Simon and Garfunkel album?

Still true. But we could return for the 50th Class Reunion and many of us did.

What an amazing time!

Like most of us, I walked into the reunion Friday night full of wondering of what this would be like. Graduation day was a long time ago! Would I recognize many? Would cliques still show up? Who would I sit with? How many would remember me?

HS Friends I do see often!

One thing I knew for sure, by now everyone  has known multiple life experiences of both celebration and heartache. The playing field leveled evenly, unlike when we were all 18. I decided to talk to as many classmates as I could and hear some stories. Everyone had a few to share, along with photos of grands!

What a welcome! The collective consensus of, “we made it!” filled the room. Not just, “we made it to the reunion,” but we made it 50 years. As we saw in the beautiful tribute of those who have passed on, there was no guarantee. Not many dry eyes through that. Everyone seemed genuinely happy and grateful to see all the other classmates.

A dear friend from grade school. First time together in a long time!

My very first friend from two years old was there as well as the neighbor girls I walked to grade school with. One friend quickly recited all the names of our 1st to 8th grade teachers and another recalled funny clubs we made up in high school. On my way out the second night, I led an impromptu sing along of the old fight songs in the women’s lounge. So much fun!

Old friends now new friends and some of the best conversations included girls I never hung out with back in the day. The class Facebook page has been rocking with memories and photos. I’m hoping we do another one soon.

From the yearbook, a quote very dear to me!

The Summer of Three Reunions. Memorable indeed!

Hope for the best,

Tish



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