Sunday, October 30, 2005

Why I Blog - Part I

When I first started blogging, a friend asked me what prompted me to start. I didn't really have an answer for her. Since her question, I've been thinking about this alot. And I've come up with a lot of reasons, one of which I will attempt to articulate in this post.

Almost three years ago, I was at meeting of a group of women from my church. We'd been reading the book "The Hidden Art of Homemaking" by Edith Schaeffer and were discussing the chapter about writing - letters, poetry, etc. I commented that at one time in my life I wrote well, but after 20 years in the business world, everything I wrote now sounded like a memo, policy or procedure. A woman in the group commented, sincerely I might add, she'd love to read something I'd written even if it sounded like a memo. It was truly one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. It was especially poignant as this woman, Linda died three months later.

I'd only known Linda for a few months when she died, yet her words made quite an impression on me; they've stayed with me all this time. This made me want to share what I have to say. Maybe my words will impact someone in such a manner, someday. Which was really the point that Mrs Schaeffer was making in that chapter.

A Tribute

Today, October 30 is the 11th anniversary of the day my mother died. While she had been sick with emphysema a long time, her death was still unexpected. Even now, eleven years later, I'm still sometimes surprised she's gone.

But this post is not to remember her death, but to tell people about her life.

Many of you who read this post never had a chance to meet her, but I know you would have liked her and she would have liked you all, as well. I remember her commenting about why she liked her Uncle Bill so much. She said you could put him in a room with the Queen of England and a lowly bum from the streets and he could carry on an interesting and pleasant conversation with both of them. What she seemed to not understand was that she was the same way. Aunts & Uncles, cousins and neighbors all remember her with love and how she made them feel special and welcome.

Jean Shirley Hammerton was born in 1927, the middle of three children. Her family was poor due to the depression, she said. Others from her family said they were poor because her father was an alcoholic and didn't want to work. I don't know the reason, but I know my mom generally spoke about her father in a good light, giving him the benefit of the doubt. That quality was consistent throughout her life. Many times her children (the youngest in particular) put this to the test, but she was a patient and loving mother.

Her mother died October 31, 1934 when she was seven years old. According to her story, her father was unable to care for three children on his own so he left them with his wife's family. According to other people's stories he left them on the porch of his wife's family because he didn't want the responsiblity.

Her sister, brother and she were split among relatives from both sides of the family. Mom wound up with her maternal grandmother, a widow with a number of grown children living with her. She remembered up to 10-12 people at a time living in the house. Some of the people there were her Aunt Marie who was blind, and her Uncle who was later committed to an asylum. While she never said so, I imagine with so many people, including some with disabilities there wouldn't be alot of time for a little girl.

At a time when people ignored family members with mental illness, my mom remembered travelling regularly on the bus with her grandmother to visit him. Maybe it was her grandmother's example that made Mom as understanding as she was.

Though she was separated from her siblings, the family must have made efforts to keep in contact, because they remained close through adulthood. This surprises me, because even though they were in the same city, transportation was not all that easy and phones were not the household staples they are now. This puts me to shame, as I have trouble keeping in touch with my family despite e-mail, snail mail, car, telephone, and cell phone.

When my mom was 12 her grandmother was killed when she was hit by a car. My mom then moved in with her mother's sister, who had two daughters of her own. Later in her life, I heard that my mom mentioned she was treated well there, but she always knew she wasn't family. Apparently, though, it was not something on which she dwelled because she never seemed to seek the love she didn't get, but only give the love she had. And she had a lot!

As I think about her life, I'm amazed that one who experienced such loss at a young age could be such a loving wife and mother. Today, people use such life experiences as excuses for their shortcomings, the reason they neglect their children, abuse substances, can't maintain healthy relationships. By these accounts, my mother should have been a sniper on the roof of a building shooting passersby. But instead, she was able to surmount her own pain and raise four children with love and understanding.

It's been commented by many including my father, siblings, and other relatives that my cousin Ed's wife reminds them of my mother. In my opinion it's the greatest complement that anybody could make about another. Mom was a gentle and gracious woman.

I miss her very much, and I think of her often. I wish she were still around so many of you could meet her and know how wonderful a woman she was - not just take my word for it. It hurts to think that people in the future will not only not know her personally, but probably won't even know she ever existed. However, recently, my nephew and his wife had their first child, a daughter named Kaileigh Jade. Her middle name is an acronym for all her grandmothers and great grandmothers. The "J" is for my mom, Jean. I'm comforted that because of this, Kaileigh will hear of her great-grandma Jean. And so will Kaileigh's children and grandchildren. Perhaps, they might even inherit her name. Better yet, I pray they inherit her personality, intelligence and gentle manner.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Yeah HTML!

I finally discovered how to make hard returns and paragraphs work. Henceforth, my posts should be easier to read. But is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Now, if I can just master BiSci 004!

Friday, October 14, 2005

My Temple is in Need of Repairs

I'm currently taking a Bi Sci class, "The Human Body" as I work (ever so slowly) toward my BS in Management. In all my years of education I've sucessfully avoided most science requirements until now.

It's not that I don't like science, but I have trouble comprehending things at cellular level or below. If I can't see it, I have trouble understanding it. A microscope would help me see things, but I've had troubles using a microscope properly. I hold the PSU record for slide breakage in a single semester.

My science ability (or more appropriately inability) aside, through this class I'm discovering even more so how fearfully and woderfully made we are. I know little about Human Biology, but the little I know is still pretty amazing. What I'm learning in class demonstrates the care and intricacy with which we were created.

A friend of mine (a scientist) says she imagines one day, as scientists keep learning more and more about the complexities of the human body, someone in a lab will peer in to their microscope and see God waving back. When you keep breaking down body functions, organs, tissues, cells, molecules, atoms, etc it all lead to HIM, doesn't it.

The more I'm realizing just how fearfully and wonderfully made I am, I'm recognizing that I'm mistreating this body/temple given to me by my Creator. I eat badly, exercise sporadically, worry and stress out. And that's just the physical component. There's still the spiritual and emotional components that I neglect,as well. Sin, lack of faith and trust, all take their toll on this bodily temple.

Some of the repairs are merely cosmetic and fairly easy to fix. My foundation is good, but there is still some structural damage that needs to be addressed - some week flooring, holes in walls, drafty windows that let in the cold. Fortunately I know the Architect and Builder. And I know a good Carpenter, as well! I pray I'm able to follow Their direction and not try to tell Them how to do Their job.

Monday, October 10, 2005

I'm Stepping Out

Health experts say that by accruing 10,000 steps per day on a pedometer, one can achieve fitness. One can easily incorporate these steps in to their daily life by taking stairs instead of elevators, parking further away from one’s destination, etc. I recently signed up for a Well Walkers program at work, where pedometers were issued and prizes will be awarded for reaching various fitness goals. Since tracking my steps, I’ve discovered additional ways to combine everyday activities in to my exercise regime:  Teaching a preschool Sunday School class is easily worth about 2000 steps; especially if I sit in the tiny chairs. The trip down only counts for one, but up is worth 4-5 clicks on the pedometer; more when I fall on the floor in the process. It’s a looonnnggg way up.  Walking my two dogs is a traditional manner to accumulate steps, but I’ve found a way to multiply the steps. When my dogs get me wrapped up in their leashes, I collect additional steps trying to climb out of the tangle. It’s similar to Chinese jump rope, or as I call it – Canine Twister (right leg over blue leash, left arm over head and around gray leash, right leg over black dog…).  Going to the bathroom adds steps on the pedometer. And since I’m exercising more, I’m drinking more to stay hydrated. Therefore, I’m using the bathroom more. Note: women have a decided edge over men due to their need to practically undress and sit down every time they use the facilities. Heck, I know some women who could accumulate their entire 10,000 daily steps just using the rest room.  Pulling panty hose up and down registers additional steps. Control Top panty hose increase the number exponentially. Sorry guys, but unless you’re a ballet dancer (wearing tights) or regularly wear spandex bicycle shorts, this is another area where women have the advantage. One last discovery I made – when the pedometer falls off while I’m walking and I accidentally kick it, I rack up quite a number of steps! Of course the reason it fell off was because the waistband on my skirt was a little tight and the roll of fat hanging over kept knocking the darn pedometer off. Maybe I should focus more on taking the steps instead of the elevator or parking further away from my destination.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


I used the "S" word! And it's a 10-letter word, so that makes it 2-1/2 times worse than any 4-letter word! Recently, I've been involved in a large purchase for some very expensive medical equipment. About $850,000 worth, to be more precise. I found myself to be the only woman in the room with about 17 men involved in the negotiations on both sides of the discussions. A few times, I had to take the lead position - over my boss and even his boss. I'm not uncomfortable in these situations. I've been handling negotiations like this for most of my professional career, although at my current employer it's more common for me to be the only woman involved than ever before. And there are more levels of authority so I'm sitting there advising and possibly disagreeing with Corporate Directors, VPs, Senior VPs, etc - again, mostly men. I'm a woman with a lot of authority at my workplace, over both men and women. I'm the boss. And in purchase negotiations, I have the responsibilty to my employer to protect their interest so at times I have to "go on the attack" against the vendor, usually represented by men. My work situation coupled with my single status make it difficult to cultivate a submissive spirit. Everyday decisions are dependant on me. Every aspect of my life, from homemaking to wage-earning is dependent on my perfmance. It's a catch-22 with which I continually struggle. How am I to learn submission when there's no one to whom to submit?