To be or not to be connected…

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When I teach my one ballet class a week I use my iPhone as my music source. It works quite well. The only thing that can prove to be problematic is if my phone will fit in the speaker device. Sometimes I can easily plug the cord in and all is well but other times I need to remove the case, use an adapter and actually “plug” the phone in the speaker device. No worries, not a big deal.

Yesterday I removed the case and left it in the car. Ballet class was wonderful. Christmas music for barre work and then The Muppets “One More Sleep ’til Christmas” for an across the floor combination. My dancers were excited about continuing to learn the Chocolate aka Spanish dance from the Nutcracker. As promised I had “real fans” for them to dance with. Class was a delight. I had small Christmas gift for each student small canvas bags imprinted with a quote. For inspiration and organization was what I told them. Hugs! wishes for a great holiday and “see you next year.” As I exited the building carrying my phone, the fleeting thought to get my phone case out of the car before I walked around the corner for dinner with a friend came to mind. But alas I ignored that thought, continued around the corner and then my phone flew out of my hand and landed on the concrete sidewalk. How? What? The damage was evident the minute I picked up the phone. I nailed it. Not in a good way. I totally destroyed the screen. I mean totally destroyed the screen. I couldn’t believe it but what really saddens me is I became more considered with whether my phone worked than enjoying the company of my friend or the taste of the food.

My first and only thought was I have to get a new phone. My original plan for today was to make Christmas treats, wrap gifts and enjoy a day at home.  All last evening I thought I will have to get a new phone today. I wonder if I have an upgrade? How much will a new phone cost?  And then this morning it hit me. Why am I going to change my plans? People can reach me on my house phone. I can access the internet on my laptop or iPad. Why am I letting the convenience of a smart phone dictate my plans?

Recently I commented to a friend that I had succumbed to peer pressure. I was half-joking but in another way I wasn’t. Last Christmas every house on my street had outside Christmas lights except me. I looked like Scrooge so after the holidays I bought a few little items on sale to decorate outside. Last week on what felt like a spring day I decorated outside. I even bought extension cords and a timer so when I am away I appear to be part of the team. It looks lovely but as I told my friend I decorated because of peer/neighbor pressure. She commented “it wasn’t a bad thing to succumb to.”  FYI: my home is always decorated on the inside. 🙂

Today as I was ready to rush out to get the new phone at any cost, I realized I was succumbing to another kind of pressure. And you know what? I am going to be counterculture at least for today. So today as I wrap gifts and make treats I am pondering the new phone dilemma and wondering how much of having a smart phone is convenience, how much is necessity and how much is societal pressure. 🙂

Oh and I am not eligible for an upgrade until next December 2016 so maybe 2016 will be a countercultural year or maybe not.

Autumnal randomness

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anne of green gables

I know it is November but to be honest the last few days  have felt like early September. Personally I think this quote could just as easily state “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Autumns.”

The autumn of 2015 has been particularly beautiful in my “neck of the woods.” The trees on the mountain sides surrounding my hometown have morphed into a beautiful quilt of yellow, red, orange and green.  I have been distracted while driving not by my cellphone but by the sheer beauty of a tree.

The crispness of the air is delightful in the morning and returns in the evening as the sun sets. Opening and closing the windows of my home has gotten to be a little annoying as I try to regulate the temperature of the rooms and avoid putting the heat on. Hard to believe that a couple of weeks ago I needed the heat on but the last few days have been perfect.

On my weekly drives to Pennsylvania, I have enjoyed watching flocks of  migrating birds fly, swoop and perch on telephone wires or tree branches. I never tire of seeing their creative patterns and formations. I marvel that I have never seen one bird crash into another bird. I mentioned that to a dance class once and a vocal young lady commented “that’s because they have the whole sky.” I don’t think that is the reason they don’t crash. I think they are aware of each other. Not in a “what’s your problem?” way but in “are you okay over there?” way.

I have two friends who love the word “autumnal”. They throw it into the conversation whenever possible. I have to admit. It is a cool word.

Just a few random thoughts on autumn. Thanks for reading. On another note, growing up Anne of Green Gables was one of my favorite books. Prince Edward Island is on my list to visit again in the not so distant future. PEI is a delightful island with a beauty that is serene. It isn’t majestic beauty like the mountains of Maine. It is a calm, peaceful beauty of  beaches, farms and rolling hills.


At the first anniversary there was a sense of needing to do the “right” thing, the appropriate thing, the expected thing. I am so grateful to a friend who said “do what you want to do” and we did. Meghan and I traveled to Quincy, MA to be with Emily who had just started her freshmen year of college. We attended chapel on campus, then drove down to the waterfront and sat and talked about Daddy (Bruce), we prayed, we cried and we wrote in our “things we would have told you” book – a recap of the year. Later, we ventured into Boston for lunch. I remember we stumbled upon numerous television crews at Nathaniel Hall and not knowing if we should laugh or cry, we kept our distance. We wanted to just be a mom and her daughters missing their dad/husband not 9/11 family members. There was something surreal about the day as there has been something surreal about so many days.

As the years have passed the advice of that friend “to do what you want to do” has proven to be excellent advice. Some years I have taken part in local ceremonies in Greenwood Lake or Rochelle Park or attended unique opportunities like ringing the bell at the NASDAQ or the concert at the Beacon Theatre.  I don’t venture to the National September 11 Memorial ceremony because I don’t think I can take on the grief of all those people. We don’t always write in the “things we would have told you” book anymore. We aren’t necessarily physically together because one daughter lives in Seattle and the other in PA.

This Friday will mark the 14th anniversary. I haven’t decided what I want to do this year. This year is a tricky year because my one daughter has now lived 14 years with her dad and 14 years without him and that breaks my heart. It seems harder this year because I have so many Tribute Center friends and I carry their stories as well. A few things that were true on the first anniversary are true on the 14th. I will talk to my daughters and I will tell them how very proud their Dad would be of them and I will remind them that he loved them so much. I will ask them to remember to pray for the other families, and the Squad 41 firefighters.  I will thank God for His faithfulness, my family and friends. And we will wish that we were just a mom and daughters missing their dad/husband who died in the line of duty and not 9/11 family members because a personal loss in the midst of a national tragedy adds so many layers.


a new landscape

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Grief-Quote-CS-LewisToday is a tricky day.( Today would have been my husband’s 62nd birthday but it has been 13 years since he celebrated a birthday here on earth ( Actually I surprised myself with a “good cry” this morning. The wondrous birth of my first grandchild back in April has made today harder than it has been in the past. Each year the number of things that Bruce has missed increases. I am grateful for the years we had and I am grateful for the life I have today but…

C.S. Lewis says “Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.” My life is a totally new landscape now.  And in many ways that isn’t a bad thing but it is a different thing.  Happy Birthday, Bruce. See you again…

psalm 61

Appalachian Trail and Me

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The Appalachian Trail and I have an interesting relationship. I am not a hiker. I have no desire to hike anywhere let alone the “A.T.” I will admit I enjoyed Bill Bryson’s book “A Walk in the Woods”. It was one of my husband’s favorite books.  My husband was a hiker and he enjoyed hiking the “A.T.”. Through the years I have played a role in making sure his car was where it needed to be so when he finished a day hike he could get home. Other times I dropped him off and at a set time picked him up. I have fed “through hikers” he brought home and welcomed strangers to take a shower and sleep in their tent in our yard. I purchased gallon zip lock bags so he could leave Bibles on the trail. And a few years ago I donated his trail guides to the National September 11 Museum and in June the Museum put his trail guide on display. Yesterday I had a telephone call from a Museum staff person telling me they had written a blog about Bruce’s story.




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Symmetry is the word that popped into my head as I drove home from Quincy, MA. In the truest sense it probably isn’t the right word but in my mind it fit the bill. Let me explain…

The voice on the other end of phone asked “I was wondering what your plans are for Kids’ Day?” ” Excuse me, Reverend Bergers I have no idea why you are asking me that question.” Reverend Jay Bergers was the director of our district church camp. At the time, I was the Sunday School Superintendent in my local church and had met him on several occasions during women’s retreat or family camp. My husband had worked alongside “Jay” clearing land at camp but why I was being asked about a district-wide event was a total mystery. At Reverend Bergers’ suggestion I called the district office.

“You made my day” responded Reverend Ken Blish as I explained the confusing telephone call from Reverend Bergers. Obviously a breakdown in communication had happened and no one had informed me that I had been appointed District Children’s Ministries Director. “So how do you feel about that”   “Like I should pray about it” Well, to be honest I was stunned, confused, overwhelmed and not sure if I should laugh or cry. My husband was thrilled, supportive and encouraging. Thus began my stint as Children’s Ministries Coordinator for the Metro New York District Church of the Nazarene.

And on Saturday as I checked name tags at the Eastern Field Children’s Bible Quiz at Eastern Nazarene College, a woman walked up to me, introduced herself and said “I think you know my father, Jay Bergers.” We had a lovely conversation. She explained to her spouse and teenage children how she knew me and how the 9/11 memorial at camp was for my husband. Later as I drove home the word symmetry popped into my head. Nineteen years ago a telephone call from Reverend Jay Bergers started it all and on Saturday at my last official act as Children’s Ministries Coordinator Reverend Bergers’ presence and influence was made known again.  A beginning and an end suddenly tied with a bow that only God could add.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12: 1-2

transported to a different place

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A couple of weeks ago I visited a Le Leche League meeting with my daughter. My intention had been to sit in the car as my daughter, a brand new mom, attended the meeting to learn more about breastfeeding her newborn son. My intention was to be just the chauffeur instead I participated in an amazing experience.

As we left for the meeting I mentioned to my daughter that I would sit in the car during the meeting. No worries I have a book I wanted to finish reading so take your time and learn a lot. She commented that she had mentioned her mom would be driving her and the leader was excited for me to attend as well. Okay, so now I am going in. I breastfeed my daughters many years ago but I never attended a Le Leche meeting. This was going to be a new adventure.

With my two-week old grandson safe and secure in his car seat and my daughter, his mom sitting next to him we embarked on our journey. My daughter read the directions from her smart phone and I followed. As we turned off the highway, my daughter said “turn right at the next road. There isn’t a street name?” pause “Mom, this better not be a dirt road” Yes, it is a single lane dirt road leading onto a lovely farm complete with barefoot children walking up the road. Did I mention my daughter lives in Lancaster County, PA – a beautiful area of farms, horse and buggies, Amish and Mennonite families, a kinder, gentler way of life. “Mom, turn around” “I can’t turn around until we get to the end of road”. I am not sure if I should laugh or cry. When we arrive at the end of road there is a barn, an out building and a farmhouse. Just then an older woman dressed in a simple long dress walks out the farmhouse door. My daughter and I exchange puzzled looks.  Not sure that we are in the right place, my daughter sheepishly gets out of the car and asked “Is this where the Le Leche meeting is?” “Yes! welcome, come in.”

We were committed now. We were the first to arrive and wondered what have we gotten ourselves into. After a few moments others arrived for a total of five moms and babies, two group leaders and two more grandmas – some were Mennonite and some were not.  My daughter’s questions were answered. Information was gleaned. Experiences were shared.  I smiled that the examples to explain different things were all from nature – like when kittens feed, or milk separates. I wondered if I was at a Manhattan meeting what the examples would be.

Let me tell you it was a remarkable morning. It was like being transported to another place/time. Me from NY in my black capris, flip flops with my Alex and Ani bracelets, Pandora rings and smart phone and our hosts with their simple long dresses, aprons, white small bonnets and bare feet. But here was never a moment when I felt like an outsider or an intruder. There was never a moment when I thought this was a mistake. When we left almost two hours later I commented to my daughter that the words “there is no condemnation” kept running through my mind.  Wow! I was surprised, blessed and challenged.

Do I live my life in such a way that when people spend time with me they don’t feel like an intruder even if everything about them is different? That is my new challenge for each day because I know I fall short and I experienced how great and amazing it felt to be transported  to a gathering where there was “no condemnation.”