Wounded Warriors: Hallelujah

Hallelujah. Most renditions of this song give me the chills. I have always loved the Leonard Cohen song done by Jeff Buckley (at any time of year) but there is something around Christmas time that makes the music get under my skin, crawl through my emotions, and often bring tears to my eyes. Last year I came across this version from: Cloverton and this past week I found this one from “Wounded Warriors.”

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There is something even more gut wrenching about watching those that have fought for our freedom, have been wounded, and singing such a beautiful song of praise. It makes me think about all the good I have in my life. So much goodness. Now, savor all the good you have with those you love, those that you fear, and those that you dislike. Take this holiday time to slow down, be more present, laugh, eat, play, and think Hallelujah. (Mental note: take my own advice).

Keep the Christmas Spirit

At times, days and weeks go by before my dad ever comes to my thought. Lately I have had strong remembrances of family, my mom, dad, and grandma. Usually it comes stronger at the holidays, especially thoughts about my dad. For some reason he loved Christmas. The funny part is I am not sure he did much to make Christmas happen in my house. My mom bought or more likely made our gifts, staying up many all nighters to get them done in time, wrapped them, and put them under the tree often at the wee hours of Christmas morning. She made the cookies, desserts, and homemade gifts for friends and teachers. To top it all off, she also made a meal for Christmas eve, our Christmas morning breakfast, and a big meal on Christmas day. I think my dad was into the decorations. The Santas, elves, sleighs, and nativity scenes.

In January, my dad will have been gone for 15 years. We put up our Christmas tree on Sunday, and somehow I have convinced Chris to keep white lights in a tree outside our living room window year-round. My dad would probably smile knowing that I am trying to keep that Christmas spirit. I think about him as I watch my niece grow up and wonder what it would be like for him to have his first grandchild coo and crawl all over him. Next weekend he would have been 73. I see him (when I notice) as I walk down our hallway of family photos. I am pictured at my niece’s age, head full of curls and he, covered with a beard in the late 1970’s. I think about him when I find a favorite childhood book and remember my reading to him. Those were those moments when I remember he was most calm and patient.

I wonder at times what it will be like when I have kids of my own, and how many times I will wish there was a contact in my phone that said: Mom and another that said Dad. Would they text with me? Would they meet up with old friends on Facebook? It is so hard to know, they have been gone for so long that I no longer know who they would have grown to become. Yet, I will do what I can each year to continue the Christmas spirit in my own way, however it may feel right each year. Whether that means to dote on my niece who does not have my mom and dad to dote on her, or whether that means to donate toys to kids in my community.

What I think my dad wanted was to feel apart of something bigger than himself. We can all do that in so many differing ways, all keeping with the Christmas spirit of giving.

Is he a lumbersexual?

I love learning new things. Last week we were having dinner with friends from out-of-town and as our waiter walked away one of our friends said: “Our waiter is a lumbersexual.” I had not heard the term and my eyes widened with interest. My mind wandered with thinking of all the hipster Portland men with proper fitting jeans (sometimes rolled), nice shoes and shirt, hair well taken care of and of course either a mustache or beard. Usually I have thought of those that fall into that realm as “hipster.” However, lumbersexual is such a better descriptor.

Of course I came home and spent some time reviewing the Internet of recent articles pertaining to those deemed lumbersexual. I am not completely out of the loop. The term is fairly new of the last few months. Beards, beer, jeans, tattoos, flannel, loves the outdoors, and shops for beard oil. What? Beard oil. Yes, it is all the rage in Portland. A few articles heightened my interest. Of course I love when one mentions my backyard of the Willamette National Forest and even a comment on moisturizer:

“It goes without saying that virtually no man ever called himself a metrosexual, which really just referred to men who shopped for their own pants, went to the gym, and used moisturizer. (That was a big leap. It really was.) So don’t expect the term Lumbersexual to blow up, no matter how ubiquitous Lumbersexuals become.”

I have never been able to get Chris to use moisturizer. Why is that so hard for us women to get our men to see the benefits? If you live in Kansas, or Tokyo, or London and you have no idea what I am talking about, take a trip to Portland. Lumbersexual men abound. They are all things Portland. You will find them in coffee shops, wine bars, brew pubs, you name it.

What’s in your stocking?

If you celebrate Christmas, do you have a tradition of hanging a stocking? Chris and I have not done it at all during our marriage, but growing up it was part of our tradition. We did not have a fireplace, or mantle to hang our stockings, but instead my dad hammered nails into this makeshift bookcase. It was about my height at the time, so maybe four feet high, and we each had our own stocking. Even our dog, who always received dog bones of different varieties — from rawhide to Milkbone, and if our dog was lucky maybe a new toy. Probably to distract them from all the sounds, lights, and interesting happenings in the house.

Everyone’s stocking was different. My grandma knit my sister’s, brother’s, and mine. I have no idea how she did it, but she knit our names into the stocking so we always knew if it was ours. She was an impressive knitter, and I still have my childhood stocking today. While we never received much at Christmas, for some reason my stocking always intrigued me. What did my stocking usually contain? At the bottom (and I think to weigh it down) there was usually an apple or orange. Followed by a pair of socks, a handful of candy, and maybe a tiny toy. Every once in a while there was a coloring book or some sort of object that did not fit into the stocking itself. Any items that did not fit were laid on the floor just below the stocking.

The tradition was that we were not allowed to leave our rooms on Christmas morning until we were given the approval from our parents. We would scurry out to the living room to scope out the Christmas tree and whether Santa had made it to our house that year. Were the milk and cookies gone? Then we were allowed to go to our stockings and dump out the contents. We could do whatever we wanted, play with anything included, and even have our own candy. We were not allowed to touch any gifts. Then we had breakfast together (my mom’s coffee cake). Once everyone finished their breakfast (my parents made us stay at the table for what felt like forever) we would make it back to the living room and our Christmas tree to open the presents that were under the tree.

I have not had a traditional Christmas since I was twelve, and so that was probably the last time I had a stocking too. These days I am such a minimalist. I do not want “stuff” just to give/get. Thus, we have not continued the tradition. Maybe someday I will knit a new stocking for a little one and start our version of stocking traditions on Christmas morning.

What did/does your stocking usually consist of?

Move to greatness

Greatness. How do we live our life each day and exhibit greatness? Or, is greatness something that builds up over time? Is it something that is a compilation of many trials and triumphs?

I just finished reading: “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time” by Jeff Sutherland. Near the end of the book he discusses greatness (and by the way I highly recommend this book for work and personal life).

“Over the past two decades I’ve delved deeply into the literature of what makes greatness. The surprising answer is that, fundamentally, humans want to be great. People want to do something purposeful—to make the world, even if just in a small way, a better place. The key is getting rid of what stands in their way, removing the impediments to their becoming who they’re capable of becoming.” Page 229

Remove the impediments. Excuses. Frustrations. Battles between co-workers. Difference of opinion. Lack of budget. No leadership support. Not enough time. Not good enough. The list can go on and on as to why we cannot finish, arrive, or show up. At times I believe we are blinded by what is standing in our way. Even if we do not see the road blocks, they’re there, so we need to remove them and move to greatness.

If you have not had the chance to watch an episode of Silicon Valley, here is an excerpt that has a funny rant about scrum.

What is standing in your way of being great?

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